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Snake Bytes: Anniversary update

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18 years ago today, I got married to Mrs. SnakePit here. Today's Snake Bytes will therefore be brief!

The King’s College Chapel, left, Old Aberdeen

[AZ Central] Dodgers hammer Diamondbacks’ pitching in first return to exhibition - The tone in Ahmed’s voice – and in that of manager Torey Lovullo – suggested that Sunday would go down as a disappointment. The Diamondbacks fielded almost their entire projected Opening Day lineup – first baseman Christian Walker, sidelined with a groin injury, was out – yet managed just four hits. They collected just one hit – Marte’s solo homer in the first – off Dodgers starter Mitchell White in his five innings. Meanwhile, the Dodgers blasted Diamondbacks right-hander Taylor Widener, who served up a grand slam to Cody Bellinger in a first inning in which he did not record an out.

[dbacks.com] D-backs relish return to action vs. LA rivals - Overall, Widener allowed six runs on five hits over four innings. “The velo was there, the shape of his pitches was there, but it just wasn’t consistent,” Lovullo said. “I think that the repeatability aspect of it for a young pitcher is something they continue to learn day by day.” The game may not have counted in the standings, but it still seemed to matter to the players on the field. “Any time you lose to anybody it’s no fun, but especially these guys,” shortstop Nick Ahmed said. “They’re a division rival and you never want to lose to them. We’re going to come back out and punch them back tomorrow.”

[Arizona Sports] D-backs get first taste of a new normal, fall to Dodgers in exhibition game - D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said the team took four busses right from the airport to the stadium and separated in the dugout to practice social distancing. Lovullo and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts wore masks in the dugouts, cardboard cutouts of fans were in the seats and artificial crowd noise was pumped into the stadium. “This place obviously gets bumping … so you didn’t feel that vibe and that heartbeat that goes along with playing games in this stadium,” Lovullo said.

[The Athletic] ‘I’m paranoid about it’: The Diamondbacks are dead-set on protecting their signs - Like claims of pitch-tipping, “they had our signs” is a favorite excuse of pitchers who get shelled. Though he defers to Lovullo on the issue of sign-stealing prevention, general manager Mike Hazen is among the skeptics about how often a pilfered sign directly results in meaningful action in a game. “I have a hard time believing that every time we give up hard contact is because the other team had our signs,” Hazen said. “I think sometimes we do a little bit of a disservice to the talent of the other team, and sometimes we do a little bit of a disservice to the pitch that we just made right down the middle of the plate, and throwing it to very good major-league hitters.”

Sharkenstein (2016)

Rating: C-

Dir: Mark Polonia

Star: Greta Volkova, Ken Van Sant, Titus Himmelberger, James Carolus

I kinda agonized over whether or not to check the “comedy” box for this, since I’m not sure how much of the humour here is intentional. Certainly, we did laugh at this on multiple occasions. But it’s probably true that this was more often at the film, than with it. Our story begins in World War II, when the Nazis hijack a scientist’s research into re-animation. Fast-forward to the present day, and Klaus (Jeff Kirkendall), a German scientist whose accent sometimes fails to make it through an entire sentence, is continuing the work. He has already succeeded in sewing together a mega-shark, from bits and pieces of multiple species. Now, he will transplant in the brain from those Nazi experiments. What could possibly go wrong?

Into this setting come Madge (Volkova), Duke (Van Sant) and Coop (Himmelberger), three friends set for a day of boating. After their craft breaks down, they swim for a nearby island. Of course, this turns out to be home to Klaus’s seaside laboratory, and they are coerced into helping. Just as in the Mary Shelley classic, control of the monster is lost. Not in the book: a shark getting struck by lightning, and consequently transforming into a land-roaming creature, eating cows. There is, however, a mob of villagers, albeit one bearing firearms, rather than the usual pitchforks and torches. This is when the film is at its “best” (quotes used advisedly), riffing on the usual story tropes, and dropping deadpan references to other entries – for example, the line of dialogue, “Sharkenstein must be destroyed!”, a nod to a Hammer franchise entry.

The cover does not quite match the reality, naturally, and a lot of this is woefully terrible. The final stage of the creature, which I believe was provided by veteran stop-motion guru, Brett Piper, does have a cheesy Velocipastor-like charm. At least, when compared to the rest of the effects, which are just sloppily amateur. The lack of effort which has gone into them feels obvious, and it’s a failing. Ed Wood’s films may not have been good, but they clearly had that effort, and it was part of their appeal. Wood may have been short of both talent and resources; however, he was still trying to make the best film he could. I’m not certain you can say the same here.

Perhaps the key question is, how much of the wretched awfulness is intentional? Some surely is, such as the “college-age” protagonists, at least one of whom is nearer retirement than graduation. But a suspiciously high amount just seems like poor film-making, such as people who supposedly climb out of the ocean, yet are entirely dry. Or hold conversations underwater while wearing scuba equipment. If you’re going to parody bad movies, rather than just make them, there’s an argument that you first need to demonstrate a certain degree of competence yourself. That’s an area where this struggles.