Wednesday, October 31, 2007

My sole contribution to the Zuda discussion. 

So, DC officially makes their foray into web comics. It's kind of a pitiful foray, but shit, it's not like Marvel is even bothering with it.

Anyway, my commentary, as expressed in an AIM conversation with Matt:

Matt: There's two good Zuda entries and the rest are...webcomics.
Me: i haven't bothered to check yet. see how out of touch i am?
Matt: Just went live today.
Matt: You can still ride the wave of snark.
Me: That is an awesome way to make sure I don't read anyone's commentary on it.
Matt: hahaha
Me: fuck snark. i want a little substance. the curmudgeons did that a bit ago, which was nice.
Me: bunch of lawyers grilling zuda spokestypes at a con.
Me: and you got a real sense that DC 1) has no idea what they're doing, 2) actually doesn't have much of an investment in it succeeding, or 3) both.
Matt: Yeah, someone pointed out how it's all non-webcomics people doing Zuda material.
Matt: So it's like a DC farm league or something.
Me: and I've seen some web comics people state, quite rightly, that they've been getting along just fine WITHOUT signing all their shit over to Time Warner, thanks.
Me: i guess DC doing Zuda is kind of like your dad learning the macarena.
Matt: hahaha
Me: there, that's my snark contribution.

And we are all better for it.

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Happy Halloween, bitches. 

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Friday, October 26, 2007

How great is this? 

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Stray Octoberish thoughts. 

1) We have a grim, grim set of movies out right now. I wanted to see something with my mom tonight, and the choices, in no particular order, came down to: The Assassination of Jesse James etc, Gone Baby Gone, Rendition, Reservation Road, Into the Wild, and Things We Lost in the Fire. Not a chuckle in the bunch. Would you believe I'm actually looking forward to Dan in Real Life and Fred Claus just for a bit of levity?

2) We picked Gone Baby Gone. I wasn't all that impressed until I was dragged in quite literally with a bang. From there I was hooked. I'm quite impressed with the Afflecks, so much so that I think Ben should ditch the acting thing and stick to a chair behind the camera. The man knows what he's doing, and can ratchet up the tension with amazing skill and deftness. That's all you're getting out of me on that count; I've already written 1,600 words of movie criticism today, and I'm not about to write another damn review.

3) Having said that, I need to recount an experience I had last Friday night. A local theatre (that's stage, not screen) hosted a double-bill featuring Creepshow (1982) and Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983). $5 got you both movies and free popcorn, freshly popped, which I think we'll all agree is pretty much impossible to beat. I went with three friends.

is no mystery to me; I own the DVD and have probably watched it two dozen times. It's deeply imperfect and hasn't aged particularly well, but its many flaws can't shake me of my love for that big, goofy horror anthology. Its number one flaw is its use of lurid EC Comics-style colors, panel borders, and multi-panel layouts to show action, convey tension, and just generally make you feel like it was those hoary old comics come to life. Director George Romero and writer Stephen King don't seem to really understand why comics use those devices, which is namely that their format denies them access to all the lovely things movies get: mood music, tone of voice, and body language, just to name a few things. Comics, like stage theatre, often have to oversell a point just to make sure it gets across. Translating these techniques in a literal way into a movie drives it all into overdrive, and not always in a good way.

It's a better film when it trusts the material and the actors. I very much enjoyed watching my friends be wowed by how evil Leslie Nielsen is in "Something to Tide You Over," and of course "They're Creeping Up On You," a mostly one-man show about the poetic death (is there any other kind, in this kind of thing?) of a Howard Hughesian OCD bug freak. I got some mileage out of telling my friends to be sure and check their bags of popcorn before they pop the next handful in their mouth, after that one.

Whereas the other three were new to Creepshow, they were all quite familiar with Twilight Zone. I hadn't seen it in 15 years or more. Seeing it again was a test of will for me; the Joe Dante segment, featuring a child with the ability to do anything he wanted to anything and everyone just by wanting it and the household of terrified "family" hostages caught with him, completely freaked my shit out as a kid. I had to see it again. I had to know: did it hold up? Is it as scary as I thought?

But first I reacquainted myself with the other stories. There's the bookend segments -- "you wanna see something really scary?" -- and then the first vignette about the racist schlub who learns some empathy the hard way. It was this segment that saw me regaling my fellows with tales of main actor Vic Morrow's death by helicopter, along with two child actors, during the Vietnam War sequences. I'd seen the original footage in my impressionable years, courtesy of my brother and the Faces of Death video series. God, remember when that was a thing?

The Spielberg segment, about old people in an old folk's home given a chance to feel young again for one night, is composed of pure schmaltz all the way down to the atomic level. Here's something: I didn't care. It worked. It's not exactly a great achievement for Film Art, but it does its job.

Then came the Dante segment. It kind of dissolves into a mess at the end, but before that... oh yeah, it rocked my shit. Dante seems to have his thing about suburban life and the lies therein, and here the menace embodied by one willful kid is palpable. I found myself sinking into my chair. There are few things more terrifying than the idea of a perfectly normal child with the ability to make anything real just by thinking about it.

Then there was that airplane thing with John Lithgow. Good stuff. Modern horror filmmakers would do well to study this segment, if only to see how a skilled director judiciously uses music to set the tone or indicate state of mind. I have a feeling this is the segment everyone thinks of when they think of Twilight Zone: The Movie, but for me, it is and always will be the Dante segment.

If you're looking for a point to this post, I'm sorry. Let's try...

Joe Dante: Good. Creepy children: Bad. Creepshow: Flawed but fun. Helicopters: To be avoided.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

30 Days of Night, Lars and the Real Girl 

30 Days of Night:

The vampires in 30 Days of Night are a cross between George Romero’s zombies and a pack of hyenas. They possess the relentless inevitability of the former and the cruel intelligence of the latter. They are human, more or less, despite their mouths full of needled teeth and eyes as black as pitch. They appear to know English but prefer their own tongue, a sort of screeching hiss that carries for miles. And it is not enough for them that they kill; they toy with and taunt their prey, delighting as much in the fear they cause as they do in the blood itself. As movie monsters go they’re refreshingly evil. There’s not a drop of Lestat-esque angst about them; they’re psychopathic predators and perfectly fine with that, thanks.


Lars and the Real Girl:

Watching Lars and the Real Girl is like watching a high-wire act. Any wrong move could lead to complete disaster. One wrong line, one over-acted scene, one tip too far into the direction of farce would be enough to send the whole thing crashing down. In a lesser film, Lars’ brother would simply remain hostile until the end. Or the townsfolk would be brightly-colored caricatures. The ending would be pure schmaltz. Lars himself would be laughable, or merely pathetic. Unbelievably, none of these things happen. No false note is struck. It’s a bit of a miracle.



Wednesday, October 17, 2007

File under: Will not get out of my head. 

Foo Fighters, "The Pretender"


Monday, October 15, 2007

Because I'm sure you care. 

Dennis Kucinich
Score: 47
Stem-Cell Research
Health Care
Social Security
Death Penalty
Line-Item Veto

-- Take the Quiz! --

Apparently, the only person who agrees with me on Iraq (quick and timely withdrawal, break up into several states -- which isn't exactly what I believe but is the closest option to it) is Sam Brownback. No idea who that is.

Just FYI, no one I have ever voted for -- on a national, state, or city level -- has ever won. Ever.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

The first true sign that I have become some kind of movie blogger. 

Once upon a time, I was a comics blogger with the occasional bit of movies, all expressed almost exclusively with vulgarity. Now I'm some kind of movie blogger (expressed almost exclusively etc) who doesn't even mention comics anymore, due in large part to a dwindling weekly subscription list and the stone cold truth that anything I'd have to say about comics is already being said elsewhere, and better.

So this is what makes my transition real: I've been tagged for a meme by a movie blogger, that scoundrel Lapper. It goes like this:

There are a set of questions below that are all of the form, “The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is…”. Copy the questions, and before answering them, you may modify them in a limited way, carrying out no more than two of these operations:

You can leave them exactly as is.

You can delete any one question

You can mutate either the genre, medium, or subgenre of any one question. For instance, you could change “The best time travel novel in SF/Fantasy is…” to “The best time travel novel in Westerns is…”, or “The best time travel movie in SF/Fantasy is…”, or “The best romance novel in SF/Fantasy is…”.

You can add a completely new question of your choice to the end of the list, as long as it is still in the form “The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is…”.

You must have at least one question in your set, or you’ve gone extinct, and you must be able to answer it yourself, or you’re not viable.

Then answer your possibly mutant set of questions. Please do include a link back to the blog you got them from, to simplify tracing the ancestry, and include these instructions.

Finally, pass it along to any number of your fellow bloggers. Remember, though, your success as a Darwinian replicator is going to be measured by the propagation of your variants, which is going to be a function of both the interest your well-honed questions generate and the number of successful attempts at reproducing them.

The initial statements/questions:

My parent is: NONE.

1. The best time travel novel in SF/Fantasy is…The Anubis Gates, by Tim Powers.

2. The best romantic movie in historical fiction is…Cold Mountain.

3. The best sexy song in rock is…Gloria, by Patti Smith.

My parent is: Mr. Lapper, previously mentioned. Also: scoundrel. Here's his stuff.

1. The best epic song (over six minutes in length) in rock is... How Soon is Now, The Smiths

2. The best mockumentary movie in comedy is... Best in Show ("He went after her like she was made out of ham")

3. The best End of the World movie in Science Fiction is... The Day the Earth Caught Fire

Here we go:

1. The best epic song (over six minutes in length) in rock is... "November Rain," Guns N' Roses. C'mon, "Hey Jude" and "Freebird" (but only when it's over the last minutes of The Devil's Rejects!) are a bit obvious.

2. (Mockumentary = deleted. Quite the dead end, that.)

3. (the mutant) The best End of the World concept album in Science Fiction is... Year Zero, by Nine Inch Nails. Considering how extensively Trent Reznor and co. built their world, calling it a mere concept album may not be enough. It's a staggeringly thorough and compelling piece of fiction.


Tom the Dog: If I were running an entertainment magazine, this is the guy I'd hire to write about TV. Also, his real name is actually Tom Collins. Talk about predestination.

Johnny Bacardi: Because his record collection makes me feel inadequate. I promise the alcohol-related names thing is completely coincidental.

Marc Bernadrin: Because he's not a real blogger until he's done some of these.

Have at.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Elizabeth: The Golden Age, The Darjeeling Limited 

Elizabeth: The Golden Age:

Many, many times throughout Elizabeth: The Golden Age, we half-see the action around corners, through windows, peeking through a doorway. The idea is to give us the impression of peeking in on the private life of a very public figure, as it might be seen in short bursts by the faceless servants of her castle. Here is a woman, we are made to consider, who wields power so immense only a dozen other people in the world can match it. And for that power she must sacrifice all semblance of a private life and embrace the persona of “the Queen” in all the minutes of her life. Given who (a woman) and what (a Protestant) she is, her every concession to normality can be taken as weakness, and reason enough for her many enemies to strike. Her private life is half-observed, and so is it also half-lived.


The Darjeeling Limited:

What is it about India and Westerners, anyway? An extended visit to India rates right up there with “backpacking across Europe” as the number one brag for people aged 20-25 in the United States. And if you’ve ever been trapped in a room with someone who’s just been backpacking across Europe, you know that boast gets very old, very fast. India, at least, is just different enough to be almost alien. And the right people visiting the right locations under the right circumstances can produce something truly great; just look at The White Album.


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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Canadian politicking (and the reason I care) 

So I'm reading this really long post about some voting thing going on in Ontario. There's a whole lot of text there about stuff I guess would be interesting if I didn't live in Texas, but none of that mattered, because I froze at this line:

"This Wednesday, Ontarians are going to the polls to decide whether Dalton McGuinty or John Tory is the least depressing fuckup."

I think it's pretty funny this guy's last name is actually Tory, and Leah confirms that he is, in fact, a member of the Conservative Party of Canada. They are called the Tories.

This is awesome.

I started thinking about what a wonderful world we would live in if all politicians had very, very literal names, so we had every idea of what we were getting into when we voted for them. Some examples:

* Larry I Totally Fuck Guys Craig
* George W. Let Me Get Back to You When I Figure Out How the DHS and Wiretapping Program, plus the Huge Deficit and Obnoxious Foreign Policies Fit Into the Whole Small Government/Fiscally Conservative Thing, Jr.
* Associate Justice Shit-Ass Crazy About Abortion (any)
* Rudy Every Answer I Give to Every Question Is Scarier Than The Last One Giuliani

Or, in the realm of punditry:

* Lou Everything Is the Fault of Mexicans Dobbs
* Sean Holy Shit Did I Really Just Say "Islamonazi" Hannity
* Ann Move Along, Nothing to See Here Coulter
* Bill If I Keep Repeating Lunatic Bullet Points Long Enough, Eventually They Will Become Fact O'Relly

Hey, this is pretty fun! Can you come up with any of your own? Best one gets an internet cookie.

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Some random Saturday night things. 

1) Goddammit, I love college football. The NFL doesn't hold a candle. Today, the people who needed to lose lost (except for goddamn stupid Auburn DAMMIT) and all was well in the world. Texas getting beaten by OU? No surprise. It's axiomatic that UT is never as good as their fans or the rankings claim them to be, even in the (rare) years they actually are decent.

Nebraska getting spanked by Missouri? Fantastic.

USC losing to goddamn Stanford? Double-plus-good! I think you and me and ten other guys could beat Stanford most days. Those Cali teams need regular humblings. (Sorry, Tom.)

Wisconsin also losing to a unranked team, which I marginally approve of. I can only manage marginal approval because no one has ever been able to convince me that anything happening in or to the state of Wisconsin has ever been worth my consideration. Are they a state yet?

LSU vs. Florida: What a glorious game that was. I'm glad Florida lost this because if they'd beaten #1 LSU, using complicated rivalry algorithims, that would mean Auburn (who beat Florida last week) is actually very, very good. We can't have that.

Alabama vs. Houston: Okay, we needed an easy victory to get us back to 4-2 and allow John Parker Wilson to complete some passes. Looks like Houston made a game of it near the end, not that I'd know... as the only two states that could not get the PPV showing are Alabama and Texas. Go figure.

2) Thanks to Christopher Bird, I have found a blog called Your Webcomic is Bad and You Should Feel Bad. If that title doesn't make you laugh, you're probably not going to like it. Just for reference, it cracks my ass up every time I read it.

It's four people who write in that acerbic/highly literate/astoundingly profane critical style that I admire and aspire to, ripping ten kinds of shit out of web comics that dearly deserve it (though I admit to enjoying VG Cats). I've spent most of the day watching the foo'ball and reading through that site's archives, along with that of its sister site, Me and You and Mary-Sue. This is an exceptionally good way to spend a lazy Saturday.

3) Nothing, there is no blah blah blah

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Monday, October 01, 2007

And now, to elevate the mood. 

Two minutes of the best thing that has ever happened on the entire planet, ever.

Kittens-Coca Cola Box - Click here for the most popular videos

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