Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Note Before The Actual Post-

I went out on a kind of blind-date kind of thing tonight. It wasn’t the Vegetarian Yada-Yada Episode, certainly, because I don’t see myself getting too much comic mileage out of tonight, but still: I was invited out to a local restaurant by one of the guys I drink with for karaoke. His wife works with a single girl, who my friend said was shy… This girl was beyond shy. It’s like looking at a prism and saying, “And, if we could only see it, that would be ultraviolet.” The girl was noncommittal towards everything. Favorite musical genre, favorite band, favorite movie, food, you name it. She’d just smile and say, “I don’t know.” Pissed me off, because I felt like I was talking to a brick wall.

I know I don’t talk about myself too often, but here’s what I’m looking for: I’m looking for a girl who has guns and is willing to stick to them when pressed on any particular subject. I’m looking for a girl who will say, “Fuck you, Umgawa, you’re just fucking wrong.” In closing, I wish the best for this girl, that she will find a man just like herself so that they may both starve to death when one asks the other, “So, what’s for dinner?”

Second Note:

I got Buffy Season 5 yesterday with money I made babysitting the rugrats (my niece and nephew). I immediately watched “Into the Woods” (one of my favorite episodes) and “The Body.” Basically, out of about ninety minutes’ worth of TV-show, I probably sobbed for more than half of that. I’m just saying that because sometimes I talk about movies that suck because they don’t get to me either intellectually or emotionally, and here’s a TV show that manages to do both at least a few times a season (except the first season, which didn’t do anything for me).

Sick and Tired of Hearing Things From Uptight Short-Sighted Narrow-Minded Hypocrites:

Over the past, say, fifteen years, lots of things have become extinct. All you have to do is go to a wildlife or rainforest-preservation website and they’ll give you some statistic that says, “On average, one-hundred thirty-two species go extinct every day.” Most of the time, it’s something most of us regular folks has never even heard of; after all, most of us won’t even take notice until the domestic housecat goes the way of the dodo.

But the guitar solo is certainly on the endangered list, at least as far as contemporary music goes. Hell, given the Billboard charts these days, maybe the guitar itself is on its way out. Chalk up one more musical instrument to be devoured and spat out by the suits at the music conglomerates, who realize –in their infinite wisdom- that it’s easier to produce, market and maintain a pretty face and pair it with a producer who knows what he’s doing.

But we all know these faces, most of the time, aren’t artists, because there’s a line to be drawn between ‘performer’ and ‘artist.’ It’s a rarity to be both attractive enough to get a demographic’s attention musically talented enough to put together either a catchy song or one that captures some piece of an individual’s heart, mind or soul.

For example, let’s take my Holy Trinity of American Rock and Roll: Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp and Tom Petty. They’re about as great as any artists out there, but you’ll never see them on MTV, VH1 or pretty much anywhere else because they’re average-looking guys who are about twenty or thirty years older than the mass-marketable audience.

Now, as an example: Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Pink: All are pretty damn good looking (when not dressed like total whores), but they don’t hold a candle to the kind of songwriting capability of the aforementioned artists. Furthermore, while they may be good (or mediocre, in Britney’s case) singers, Celine Dion is a good singer, but she’s no artist; she’s a tool. Good carpenters are given credit for building a good house, not the contents of their toolbox. As a sidenote: Given this example, Pink makes music that is qualitatively better than Britney or Christina, elevating her to the level of quasi-artist, largely thanks to the fact that much of her better work is co-written by the singer of 4 Non-Blondes, who happens to be an artist and anything but a face.

It’s a rarity to be both. As far as hugely popular music goes, the Beatles… Okay, actually Lennon and McCartney were good-looking and good songwriters. If you don’t believe me, just ask any woman who was a teenager in 1963-65. After they picked up with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, sure, they didn’t look as good, but they sure got better as artists. I suppose the drugs helped, too, in both their artistry and their looks; or maybe they just got older, which happens to help those sorts of things along, too.

Back to talking about suits: It’s easy to manufacture individuals. Target a demographic and just drop a musical atomic bomb on them. For example, Britney Spears’ first video was driven like a freight train at anyone who gets turned on by Catholic schoolgirls; a demographic which encompasses all heterosexual men over the age of ten. We hadn’t seen a video like that since the (infinitely superior) Billy Idol’s “Cradle of Love” video, which was directed by David Fincher. This audience may not buy into her music, but give the girl a couple of years and larger breasts and they’ll buy cases of Pepsi because she said so.

I’d like to think –and I might be wrong, here- that my readers go for artists over faces and listen to music that never gets played on TRL (back in my day, it was called Dial MTV), which is the only chance you get to see videos anymore. I’d like to think that at least one of you has heard the song, “Gimme Some Truth” by John Lennon, which is my song of the week, because as I write this, I’m listening to the three-disc Pearl Jam Live at State College, PA (May 3, 2003) album, which I got for all of fifteen bucks. Yes, Pearl Jam, which many of you probably gave up circa 1992, when they made their last video (“Jeremy,” which was probably my least favorite song off that album). Outside this particular CD, all I’ve listened to today are Five Year Jacket, Ben Folds and Bruce Springsteen: Artists one and all.

Really, it’s a miracle that Pearl Jam’s stayed together this long. I talked about the ease of managing individuals, so here’s a group that’s stayed together and has regularly been recording and touring for over a decade. By this point in a band’s life, internal politics, arguments over direction and arguments over money generally get the best of a band, let alone the outside influences of record-company suits saying, “Your album just isn’t commercial enough.” Apparently, Pearl Jam has managed to weather all of these forces, although they manage to burn through drummers like Spinal Tap. I’d like to say I knew something about the band’s arguments, but the best data I’ve gotten comes from reading interviews with Stone Gossard, who answers questions with the sort of “dance around it” capability of professional politicians.

The whole drummer thing aside, none of the members of Pearl Jam are dead (as in the case of Nirvana), or were victims of high-profile drug convictions (Stone Temple Pilots) and none of them ever caused their keyboard player to overdose on heroin (Smashing Pumpkins). Oh, and none of them married Yoko. Beyond that, my only theory is that Pearl Jam is more than the sum of its parts, and the individuals in the band realize that fact. Pearl Jam without Eddie Vedder is like Creedence Clearwater Revival without John Fogerty, and Vedder without Pearl Jam would be like Robert Plant without Led Zeppelin. It’s entirely possible that they stay together because they need each other, both commercially and musically.

I just asked myself, why the hell am I listening to Pearl Jam? I mean, seeing how I haven’t listened to one of their CD’s since I bought Vitalogy. First, I like the live stuff a lot better. I’m a sucker for concert CD’s, because it’s generally a better look at how a band actually is when not encumbered by a producer, engineer, mixer, and about a dozen suits who get ‘input,’ when it should really just be five guys and a tape-deck. This is the same reason why I used to pick up Grateful Dead bootlegs: Hated the music, loved the concerts. Live music has imperfections, and that makes it real (at least when it’s not horrifically fucked-with, as Rush did with their live album).

The other reason brings this post full-circle: Guitar solos. Mike McCready’s guitar solo’s on “Ten” are largely representative of the blues-oriented solos that I’ve always loved; indicative and derivative of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton… lacking the sheer genius of it all, but clearly in the moment of the music. Between McCready and Stone Gossard, you get a lot of the great melodic guitar playing that’s been absent in rock and roll since the dissolution of Guns ‘N’ Roses.

Which is what I’m going to close with: If we ever do see the release of “A Democratic China,” which is the playful name the next G’N’R album goes by, it won’t have Slash, who’s the reason I bought the guitar I did (a black Les Paul). For my money, he’s one of the great guitar-players, and I still listen to the “Use Your Illusion” discs just to hear him play. Sure, a lot of people might say that “Appetite for Destruction” is a better album –and they’re entitled to their opinions- but I don’t think that it can be argued that Steven Adler is a better drummer than Matt Sorum. For straight-up rock that borders on AC/DC cock-rock, “Appetite” is a better album. The “Use Your Illusion” discs showed them evolving as artists, and it’s too bad Axl had breakthroughs in therapy, the band split into factions and they ultimately broke up.

I’m not saying that they could’ve been the Beatles, but it’s just a crime that “The Spaghetti Incident?” was their swan song, and that (“Use Your Illusion”) G’N’R lineup ends up being just another case where the band was more than the sum of its parts, but that just didn’t matter. Why do I still listen to them? Because they’re artists, not faces.

AIM: therbmcc71
ICQ, MSN, Yahoo: Yeah, right, like I use those.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Upon Identity – Flips, Twists and General Exercise

Y’know, I actually don’t blame James Mangold for the movie Identity. I don’t. It’s not his fault that I paid attention to the audio during the title sequence and managed to figure the movie out. I guess that it’s my fault that … no, wait, I was paying attention. That’s what I should’ve been doing. I blame the writer. Yes, it’s his fault.

See, I feel that it’s entirely possible to predict whether or not a movie will be either a box-office dud, or simply a steaming pile of crap. As far as the former goes, you can basically tell from the reaction of an audience to a film trailer. Regarding the latter, there are a couple of ways: One, if the Chicago Tribune film critic enjoyed the movie, then it’s either Lord of the Rings, or it’s a steaming pile of crap. Two, systematically look at the production team, starting with the writer, then the producer, then the director and take a look at their resumes. If they have made crap in the past, they will make crap today.

***Understand this: Actors never make a movie good. You can put the best actors in the world in a Roger Corman film, and it’ll be crap because it’s a Roger Corman film. Actors can make a good movie bad, but they’ll never make a bad movie good.***

Which brings me back to Identity. I’m going to talk about the writer last, and I’m not going to talk about the producer at all, but first I’m going to talk about the director: James Mangold first attained critical success with the movie Heavy around the same time Paul Thomas Anderson did Boogie Nights. Heavy was about a fat guy and Boogie Nights was about porn. It’s no wonder Paul Thomas Anderson is the one who gets final cut. … not to mention that Anderson actually has talent. Heavy, on the other hand, was a steaming pile of crap, regardless of what the critics said. From there, Mangold made Cop Land, starring big names like Stallone, DeNiro and Liotta, but was more famous for how little they were paid than for how good the movie was. .. basically because it wasn’t that good. And then there was Girl, Interrupted. Didn’t see it. In my opinion, all women are insane, so why would I want to watch a movie about insane women? And then there was Kate & Leopold, which I didn’t watch for the reason that I was told that it’s a largely unremarkable romantic comedy. James Mangold has made lots of crap leading up to helming Identity.

Since I’m too lazy to look up the producer, I’m just going to cut to the writer. You start with the writer for the reason that I’m about to outline, and I’m not going to explain it now. I’m just going to put down Michael Cooney’s filmography as a writer, and you can draw your own conclusions: Tracks of a Killer (1995), Murder in Mind (1997), Jack Frost (1997), Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Killer Snowman (2000), Identity (2003). … Have you concluded yet that this guy has made complete and unadulterated shit so far? If you have, give yourself a pat on the back. If you haven’t, what are you doing reading my site?

Basically, Identity falls victim to its own design. The final act of the film is set forth by what Brent Hanley, the writer of the movie Frailty, would call “the flip.” While there may be hints of what’s coming, the flip basically takes everything you know about the movie and flips it so that now you realize that it’s either partially or entirely bullshit, or maybe it just requires the audience change its point-of-view for the remainder of the film and for any time they might watch it in the future. The greatest flip of all time takes place in The Usual Suspects (and The Sixth Sense takes second-place), and the worst takes place in Devil’s Advocate.

Given that Usual Suspects and The Sixth Sense are terribly good pieces of cinema, you understand why the flip at the end of each serves to tie up the story and adds an extra dimension to watching it the next time around. Devil’s Advocate is one of those horrifically bad flips, where it says, “It was all just a dream,” after Keanu Reeves commits suicide to get out of a pact with the devil. It was one cop-out after another, and served as one giant, “Hey, fuck you!” to the intelligence of the audience. Had Reeves simply committed suicide and actually died, it would have been a down-ending, yes, but it would have served to elevate Reeves’ character to a sort of Christ-figure, since the whole film was about fighting temptation, anyway. But it was all just a dream, which is the worst flip you can throw at an audience, because it says, “What you just watched was bullshit and doesn’t matter at all.” And then, just before Sympathy For The Devil starts playing, the flip gets twisted into an, “It was just a dream… or was it?” thing, and at that point, it’s gotten so goddamn annoying that I stop paying attention.

So, that’s the Flip. I’d like to thank Brent Hanley’s commentary on Frailty for explaining that one. By the way, the flip in Frailty is a little shaky, but it’s nothing too bad. Had that flip not occurred, then even having Powers Boothe’s character in the film would have made no sense, let alone the fact that Matthew McConaughey’s character could have been lying the entire time. The flip brings the film around, in my opinion, and ends up forcing the audience to drop any belief that the McConaughey’s bullshitting the FBI-guy (Boothe). Also, Hanley serves up an opinion I agree with, which is, “Anyone who says they saw the flip coming in Sixth Sense or Usual Suspects the first time they saw the movie is lying.”

So, Identity is a case like Devil’s Advocate, where the flip served to piss me off. I’ll say that the cinematography of Identity is pretty good, all things considered, but the fact that it’s a psychological thriller that ends up genuinely (or not, as the case may be) ends up being a “psychological thriller.” *shrug* I don’t know, maybe it’s just that I agree with Charlie Kaufman that the only greater cliché than serial killers in cinema is multiple-personality disorder.

Given that this post got way, way longer than I was initially planning, I’m going to talk about The Hulk another time. In short, it’s yet another Marvel superhero adaptation that managed to pleasantly surprise me, like Daredevil (yes, shocking), Blade, Spider-Man or the X-Men films. Furthermore, the movie Amelie has no plot, but I guess I should’ve expected that, seeing how it’s French, and they don’t really require that sort integral filmmaking element in France. Hell, by the end of Identity, I’d discovered that it’s not really necessary here in America, either.

AIM: therbmcc71
ICQ, MSN, Yahoo: Yeah, right, like I use those.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

I'm Such A Geek

It's a bizarre manner of getting from Point A to Point Z, but I -myself- am strange and unusual, so this is another interim, which won't address the manner of video games which I've been spending copious amounts of time playing, lately, in my unemployed state. However, it does have to do with video games, and -at this rate- I'm never going to get around to talking about movies again. Actually, I will, but that'll be when I summon the rage that was my reaction to the movie Identity. Fucking Mangold, bastard.

Anyway, somehow I went from reading about Peter Molyneux's next opus, The Movies, which is actually going to be a video game about making movies, from the creator of Black & White, which wasn't much of a game beyond the Tamagotchi-factor. From there, I ended up reading about a guy who got banned from The Sims Online (which I'd always regarded as a glorified chat-room), because... well, it's retarded, the actual reason, but it pointed me to the Alphaville Herald, which is essentially a blog that reports upon the seedy underbelly of a Sims Online community known as Alphaville.

It's totally fucked up. For example, here is an article about a girl -who actually turns out to be an adolescent guy in real life- who runs a series of brothels or some such thing. ... In a game in which the closest you can get to actual sex is talking about it. Now, that struck me as being completely and utterly fucked-up beyond all recognition (actually, genuinely fucked-up, not a shameless plug for FUBAR). Anyway, it got me thinking about how much I detest people who play these games like Everquest and such, where that's all they do, and then they just eBay out the stuff they picked up in-game, to sell for actual real-world cash.

It's no longer virtual-reality, folks. It's emergent reality, and the line between you and the Matrix has just been blurred that much more. Me, I think it's sick that there are people who can buy groceries and pay their rent by playing these games, but that's mainly, well, because I'm not one of them.

My fascination with this stuff, I guess, goes back to about ten years ago when I was playing this text-based sci-fi game called Hemlock. Why it was called that is completely beyond me, but there were about a hundred registered (and most of us were certifiably insane) players, and it made for a nice little community. Basically, it was small, it was persistent, and there was someone to hang out and play with at all hours of the night. Since the player-base was so small, you actually felt like an important member of the community, which is a feeling that gets utterly lost in Everquest, Star Wars Galaxies, et cetera. I'd pay $12.95 a month to play that text-based game again, but not any of these new ones. They're just not personal enough.

Which then brings me to Second Life, which seems fairly interesting, if not all that graphically pretty. On its face, it seems a lot like The Sims Online, but without Big Bad Electronic Arts running the show. I'm tempted to give it a whirl, but I don't have broadband at my house (which it basically needs), and my friend's computer is stuck with a six-gigabyte hard drive right now, since he somehow destroyed his thirty-gig over the course of the last week. I don't know how, but he did, and at first he thought it was a stick of RAM that was causing his problems, so he threw it against a wall, which ran him back another sixty bucks to replace. Dumbass. Anyway, for lack of storage on his computer, I can't really try it out. But I want to.

So, after a couple more clicks of the mouse, I ended up at Terra Nova, which is a blog site about this Emergent Reality sort of thing. I'm a geek, so I started reading this stuff, and I figured it was worth throwing a link to, even though maybe three people a day read my site, and two of those are probably completely and totally accidental. Terra Nova doesn't read as that geeky a thing, but more like a commentary on the geekiness of the Massively Multiplayer arena. For those of you who have never tried these games, even the commentary probably reads like stereo instructions. I especially enjoyed the commentary on inflation in Everquest, basically because I'd like nothing more than to tell people who make money by playing these games to go jump in a lake. Note that I mean a real lake; not one of those in-game ones where you might get attacked by a Level 22 Kraken or something.

I'm just going to stop now, because I hate my friend's keyboard. I doubt that I'll comment further on this particular issue unless I read something fairly humorous.

AIM: therbmcc71
ICQ, MSN, Yahoo: Yeah, right, like I use those.

Saturday, December 13, 2003


I’m not going to get to super-villains yet. Matter of fact, I haven’t gone to my comic book stacks to go and find any particular villains; although it would be kind of pointless to do so, since the vast majority of my comic books come from a very dark era in Marvel Comics’ history, and I don’t mean ‘dark’ in a Frank Miller kind of way.

I’ve been reading a fair number of these comic books in the past couple of weeks, and I realized –damn- I had really bad taste in reading material back then. Just two days ago, I was reading an issue of Uncanny X-Men, which featured the first appearance of (the bane of my comic book existence) Gambit. Now, what the fuck a Cajun was doing in Cairo, Illinois is completely beyond me, but all the fanboys instantly fell madly in love with him, thus leading the lot to question their own sexuality. I think the artists realized this and tried to swing these fanboys back into the realm of heterosexuality by increasing the breast-size of all of the superheroines by at least two cup sizes, or maybe the artists had simply never seen a naked woman outside of a strip-club, which isn’t the best place to get an idea for the female form.

But I digress. Actually, that’s a good jumping-off point: Right around the era of Uncanny X-Men number… 267 or so and New Mutants #87, you had these new artists (actually, Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld, respectively, though not respectfully) who drew with a new kind of style that was completely unseen before. It was like an offshoot of the kind of style guys like Todd McFarlane and Erik Larsen brought to the Spider-Man books, but these guys brought it to the mutant-books, which was what I primarily read. So, it was a new kind of artwork, and I was like, “Wow, I’ll read anything as long as these guys draw it!” Well, what ended up happening was the artists ended up taking up primary roles in plotting the direction of the comic books, seemingly so they could create their own characters and use them willy-nilly. This, everyone, is how Cable got invented.

So, over the next couple of years, these guys basically drove perfectly good franchises into the ground by coming up with silly plot ideas that had to be extended upon by the following authors, if solely for the sake of continuity. Great, thanks to you, Rob Liefeld, now Cannonball is an immortal. No, wait, he’s an “External,” which I think is the silliest fucking name in the history of silly comic book names. “Externals” is the Pussy Galore of comic book names. I mean, “External” is already a fucking word that means, “On the outside of,” but I guess dumbass Liefeld decided that if you add an X to any word, it’s just a given that it has something to do with mutants. This managed to confuse the shit out of me about a year later when the X-Games premiered and I’m like, “What the fuck does snowboarding have to do with mutants?”

By the way, can I just say this: Anyone who abbreviates the word Extreme down to the letter X should be shot. X is for Xylophone. Always has been, always will be. Extreme starts with an E, folks.

So then these artists who seemingly had the power to triple the sales of their books at Marvel… well, they all jumped ship and started their own comic book company, Image, and created some truly horrible comics. Okay, actually, I’m leaving McFarlane and Larsen out of that group, because Spawn and the Savage Dragon (respectively and respectfully) are pretty good books. But Liefeld started out with a book called Youngblood, which was about a group of superheroes with really tiny feet, tiny heads and shoulders that were about eight feet wide. Might I add that the book sucked ass. Then he created books like Brigade and Bloodstrike, which were drawn by guys who draw exactly like Liefeld, and the books sucked ass. And then there was Prophet. And it sucked. Jim Lee, to my recollection, only did one book called WildC.A.T.S., which was an abbreviation for something I’ve completely forgotten, but it simply wouldn’t have been cool if there wasn’t an abbreviation to explain why these people were doing what they did, even if it didn’t explain why the book was really pretty, but the plot blew.

Ugly women were not allowed in the Image universe. In fact, average women were barred from it, too. The only women allowed in Image comic books were C-cup or better and had to have a fan the size of my house blowing on them, so as to make their long, amazingly-conditioned hair do interesting things. That’s right, these were the years of the Marvel Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and the Image Swimsuit Spectacular: The perfect thing for fanboys to look at and get completely and totally depressed by what they’ll find in the real world when they finally crawl out of their caves and into the post-adolescent light of day.

And reading these comics really made me realize, “Fuck, did I have bad taste,” back then. I should’ve been reading Alan Moore’s “Watchmen” or anything I could get my hands on by Frank Miller. Or Matt Wagner’s “Mage,” or any number of other books where the writing was significantly more important than the pencils. To equate it to movies, I’m ashamed that there was an era where I’d go see a movie because it was directed by Michael Bay, rather than going to see a movie that was written by Scott Frank or Lawrence Kasdan (the movie Dreamcatcher, notwithstanding). As close as I actually got to good writing was Captain America, because the late Mark Gruenwald wrote it to expose its readers to some of society’s ills, and I don’t specifically mean the ones that wear colorful tights and rob banks. The six-issue Streets of Poison series of Captain America raised some good points about drug-use and actually got Captain America to dump the Super Soldier Serum for good. It was a funny exchange that made him do it, too, as he was berating one of the Avengers’ staff for taking drugs, and the staff member retorted, “What do you think the Super Soldier Serum is? Kool-Aid?”

It was funny at the time, anyway.

So, coming back to comic books ten years later, it’s kind of a culture-shock, and I want to read some good books, but I don’t know where to start. Actually, I do, but I’ll save that for a moment from now. The nice thing about comics these days is that the female form seems to be getting back to a more normal proportion, since I don’t think the fanboys should be set up for such an enormous disappointment forty years from now when they finally get it together enough to talk to an actual woman who doesn’t charge sixty-nine cents a minute for the privilege of talking to her. Second, the writers are finally getting top-billing and top-recognition. Granted, there’s still one or two artists out there that I’d pick up a book just because of their art (Alex Ross, for example), but it seems like the books have gotten more mature on an across-the-board kind of level. In the early Nineties, the comic books were –except for the sexually suggestive artwork- generally the same as they had been in the Eighties. Today, they read like… well, they read like today, and I love it.

So, what I’ve gotten over the course of the last six months is a pretty fair amount of Brian Michael Bendis’ writing; notably the fantastic graphic novels, Jinx, Goldfish, and Torso, plus two trade-paperback collections of his Image book Powers. While looking around the comic book store today, I considered what to get next, and I came to an impasse: Do I get Fire (his other graphic novel), one of the two remaining Powers books, one of three Daredevil trades, Ultimate Daredevil & Elektra, or one of the Ultimate Spider-Man books? Basically, I had my choice of almost a dozen books and I was just walking around the trade-paperback section for an hour trying to convince myself, “Dude, just go back to reading Cerebus. Just get the Cerebus books, because the series only has four issues left.” And then I saw what I bought today and immediately snapped it up:

I bought Fray, which is a trade-paperback version of the eight-issue miniseries by Joss Whedon. Yes, Joss Whedon wrote a comic book, and not just any comic book: A comic book that takes place in a future-version of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer universe. I read it in about an hour and a half and I think it’s great. It’s a good, fun book. It’s not the kind of book that’s ever really emotionally affecting in the way I get when I read some of Bendis’ stuff… okay, actually, at one point it is. Nevertheless, it’s really fantastically … Joss. See, Joss Whedon has a way of writing that you can tell which episodes of Buffy or Angel are written by him. It’s getting a little tougher to see his direction, since it’s really changed a lot over the last seven years, but his writing is still largely the same (Alien Resurrection notwithstanding), and it’s got a certain tone that really seems to shine in this book. Sure, it would be easy to go and make a Twenty-Third Century Buffy-clone, but the girl in this book is fundamentally different, on the sort of level that Faith is a different character than Buffy.

Anyway, I’ve been up for twenty hours now, the last ninety minutes of which have been spent rambling about comic books, when this site’s supposed to be about movies. Oh fucking well. If and when anything ever gets done in Hollywood with Fray, then you can look back on this and go, “It all makes sense now.” Until then, it’s a project that might well languish for a good amount of time in Development Hellmouth. … That’s a joke, and I know I heard one of you Buffy-watchers laugh.

I’ve also been playing a lot of video games lately, and maybe next time (if I don’t actually get around to compiling that list of shitty villains for comic-book film-adaptations) I’ll talk about what insanely addictive games I’ve been playing. Until then, let me just say that Final Fantasy X-2 is by far the girliest game I’ve ever played. Maybe it’s tied with DOA Beach Volleyball, but lacks DOA’s cartoonishly-enormous breasts and the physics engine that makes them bounce like a Superball. What can I say? The fanboys just move from one medium to the next.

Before I go to bed, though, I’m going to finish reading an unused draft of the X-Men script that was co-written by Whedon. If you’re curious, just go Googling for it, and you ought to find it fairly easily. And, if you can’t, then that means you didn’t want it enough.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Another Marathon Post About A Totally Asinine Topic

Cinema Fact: At the current rate of expansion, all films released in the year 2018 will be adaptations of comic books. Okay, so maybe that’s not actually a fact, but only because I’m too tired right now to break down the math and figure out the rate of expansion versus the total number of films released in a year. But it really seems like there are more and more comic book adaptations coming out every year. It seems that way, basically, because it’s absolutely true.

After all, in 2005 we’ve got at least two that I know of: The (very obvious) Spider Man sequel, which will no doubt make obscene amounts of money, which Fox will then filter around in such a manner as to disguise any profit and prevent Stan Lee from enjoying royalties. Yes, those monkey-fucks at Fox tried to screw over Stan “The Man” Lee in much the same manner as… why, I do believe it was Fox who released Forrest Gump and then claimed it didn’t make any profits and therefore Winston Groom (author of the book) wasn’t entitled to his back-end royalties. And, in both cases, the creators of the source material sued, and I have no idea how either trial came out. How, exactly, a film can come out and gross Star Wars kind of money and then claim to still not have made profit is completely beyond me. But that’s Hollywood for you.

Before I get to the next movie, I’m going to plug a couple of books. The first is “Milk It!” by Jim DeRogatis, rock critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, and the world’s definitive source on Lester Bangs (which is why Cameron Crowe thanked him something like three times during the commentary track on the Almost Famous Bootleg Edition DVD). In any case, “Milk It!” which is named for a song off of In Utero (if you have to ask, you weren’t listening to rock ten years ago), and goes over the alternative rock evolution, revolution and devolution of the 1990’s. It’s an absolutely fantastic book in which Courtney Love’s insanity is dwarfed by the idiocy of the singer from Third Eye Blind.

The other book, well, I’m not actually sure if the book’s any good because I haven’t had a chance to drive out to the mall and pick up a copy, but the book-jacket description was pretty good. Apparently, Jamie Kennedy has written his memoirs, so I’ll give ‘em a read. After all, here’s a guy who created the Jamie Kennedy Experiment, which was soon ripped off by Ashton Kutcher, whose spin was pranking (I’m sorry, but I refuse to call it ‘punking’) celebrities. Oh, sure, Kennedy’s ripping off Candid Camera, but the difference is that he takes an active part in each prank, and no one ever seems to notice. I’m sure people would recognize him more often if his show was anywhere but the WB.

The other comic book movie I’m sure is slated for next year is Guillermo Del Toro’s adaptation of Mike Mignola’s comic book, Hellboy. I’ve never, ever liked Mignola’s artwork, since I think he relies way too much on thick shadows and puts way too much black on the page, as though he’s trying to draw a comic book with a Magnum 44 marker (the fumes from which would be the only way I’d ever be able to enjoy his artwork). However, I have to say that I like what I’ve seen of Guillermo del Toro. I don’t love it, exactly, but it’s alright: Cronos, Mimic, Blade II… I think I’m probably missing one, but I’m not sure. (Actually, that was all of them. -Ed.) Anyway, the trailer for Hellboy is up in various places (notably the Apple Quicktime trailer site), and it looks fantastic. Ron Perlman looks exactly like a comic book character, and not even exactly the way Mignola would’ve drawn him, which put me over the top in wanting to go see it.

In other comic book adaptation news, I noticed on the IMDB (if you don’t know, why are you reading my site?) that Nicolas Cage is slated to play Johnny Blaze, and I went, “Huh?” I mean, shit, first he signs up to be Superman, and then that falls through, so he marries Elvis’s daughter, divorces her, and now he’s going to be fucking Ghost Rider? I mean, give me a break. Okay, so maybe I’m being a bit harsh because Ghost Rider hasn’t been good since the late-70’s or early-80’s. I mean, Marvel tried to make him cool again in the early 90’s, but Blaze wasn’t Ghost Rider anymore, so I didn’t catch on. Then they brought back Blaze along with Ghost Rider in the same book, but it was absolute shit-to-the-Nth-degree in a year that the vast majority of Marvel books were merely floundering in shit. Not surprisingly, that was right around the year that the execs at Marvel decided that it would be a good idea to hop in bed with Fleer… which also happened to be the same year baseball players went on strike and just about killed the baseball card market. The only good thing to come out of that was a 1-800-Collect commercial with Larry “Bud” Melman as one of the replacement players.

But I digress. There’s another Batman movie on the way, and I don’t mean the vaunted Batman vs. Superman project that made all the headlines a couple of years back. Congratulations, Wolfgang Petersen, you now have another film to join Ender’s Game in development hell! My friend Scott said it best: “Batman versus Superman? That movie will last all of five fucking minutes.” But, no, I’m not talking about that movie. The next Batman film is supposedly going darker in tone, like a sort of Frank Miller kind of Batman: Year One kind of thing. Yes, more Frank Miller than Tim Burton did.

Now, if they could just go for that “R” rating, then we’d all be good to go. Put it this way: Stack a PG-13 superhero movie against an R-rated superhero movie and see which one wins. … Daredevil versus Blade. Not even a fucking contest. Okay, I’ll grant that X2 was a pretty darn good movie and had an opening sequence that played on the big screen almost as well as Blade’s opening (that rave ranks as the best opening scene ever)… okay, actually Blade ends up losing that contest because I love making fun of Kris Kristofferson’s death scene. Seriously, though, think of how good all of these movies could have been with an R-rating. Or how good the Superman films could have been if they’d just not done the third and fourth installments!

New Superman film. I gotta say this: As long as it doesn’t have any of the putzes from Smallville, I’ll go see the movie. Okay, actually, it could have Bo Duke, but that’s just for kitsch value, and only on the requirement that he drives for at least one scene in the General Lee. Yes, he has to honk the horn. -- I’m starting to wig out now, because I’ve been awake for twenty-two hours and all I’ve had to eat in that time is cake. But the report must go on! –- I mean, I actually do like the show Smallville, but I can’t stand any of the characters, except for probably Lex Luthor, since it’s just a nice little spin to have Lex and Clark Kent as friends. Yeah, so it’s a two-year investment for the inevitable payoff that they will become mortal enemies, but that’s okay, because the show’s written fairly smartly, except for whatever deus ex machina they bring in every week to keep Clark’s secret identity (or lack thereof) … well, a secret.

Seriously, why does the Incredible Hulk get a movie, and probably a sequel, when the Silver Surfer gets absolutely nothing? I mean, okay, so the notion of a butt-nekkid, anatomically-incorrect silver, very reflective dude flying through the cosmos on a surfboard…. so that might not be the coolest idea in the world, but the comic book was always really good. … Okay, so it was pretty much only good when either Jack Kirby was drawing or when Jim Starlin was writing and Ron Lim was drawing. But he’s a really great character with powers on the cosmic scale! Try to measure up to that, Wolverine! Honestly, now that I’ve described the Silver Surfer as I just did, now I want to burn all of his comic books and forgot that I ever read them.

And then you’ve got another X-Men movie going into production next year for release in 2005. They’ll probably throw Gambit into this one, just to give every 90’s X-Men fanboy a wet dream that will last for two whole hours. I’ve never understood the fanboys’ thing for Gambit. I just don’t get it. The dude’s French or something, which gets points off right there, he throws energized cards at people (ooh, what a power) and he smokes fuckin’ Virginia Slims. Seriously, you look at him smoking in the comic book, and they’re those toothpicky little cigarettes. And the only reason why he claims to want to fuck Rogue is because everyone knows he can’t, and that’s how he can stay in the closet, because –even if he gets the girl- everyone would understand why he’s not fucking her.

I mean, seriously, what the fuck? Howard the Duck got a movie back in the 80’s, which happens to be easily one of the WORST films of all time, and all the Fantastic Four can get is the Roger Corman treatment. I have to get out to the Comicon next year to catch that one. But, why can’t they give a movie to Iron Man or something? I mean, other than the fact that his best enemy was the Mandarin, a bad guy who might just be classified as politically incorrect in this day and age. And, if not, at least worthy of a name-change, given that China’s got a lot of money to spend at the box-office for those twenty-three seconds before the bootleg hits the streets. Or an Avengers movie, since the closest they ever got to the big screen was Thor’s appearance in, I think, the “Death of the Incredible Hulk” TV-movie, and he didn’t even say, “I say thee nay!!!” in that one, so I felt cheated.

I think that I’m now going to cut this one off and start working on my next post, but that one requires a bit of research... That is, if I actually end up going with the topic I’m planning, which is, “Villains To NOT Feature In A Superhero Movie.” And now that I look at the title, I’m thinking that this is going to be a very long list, because I’m going to have to make separate lists for the real ones and the ones I make up. I think a screenplay snippet is also in order, but that’s really asking a whole lot, though I’m chuckling to myself as I think of one.

AIM: therbmcc71
ICQ, MSN, Yahoo: Yeah, right, like I use those.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

I don't imagine that I'm going to be seeing any new movies anytime soon, let alone picking up X2 on Tuesday, because the Apollo's district manager saw fit to fire me today. Yes, she drove all the way out just to fire me. Apparently, I'm an example to everyone else. "Don't fuck up like this guy, or you're gone, too!"

But, then again, I was planning on taking a sabbatical, and I was going to need to cut back my schedule for going back to school in the spring. So I guess it's all okay.

So, here's the thing. I'm feeling kind of down about all of this (even though I'm laughing my ass off listening to a comedy channel on iTunes radio), and so it'll be a lot easier for me to get back to writing my script, which essentially requires that I be depressed, because the dialogue and such comes out like crap when I'm not. It's like they say, "Happy piano players play the circus." In the end, though, the script's going to get done, and there's about a billion-to-one odds that absolutely none of you are going to ever get to read it.

In cleaning out my car, I found a couple of documents I thought I'd lost that I was going to use for writing a script that I like to call 3,000 Miles To Disneyland. That's the kind of script I'd write if I was given a lot of spare time, some financial security and wasn't more than a little bit pissed off. But, that's not the script that I'm writing right now, because -of those three- all I've really got is a lot of spare time.

Anyway, I've always thought that my life would make a good sitcom, where every job I've ever held would work well as a season on a sitcom. Every season has an ending, though.

AIM: therbmcc71
ICQ, MSN, Yahoo: Yeah, right, like I use those.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Yes, I know it's been a couple of weeks, but I've been terribly busy, what with throwing money at my car in hopes that it would be permanently fixed, and now I've just got a nice used Sonoma, which is about a billion times better than the rust-bucket that was my car.

So I have no idea where I was going to go after the last post, and so I'm just going to comment on my channel surfing of the day:

Watched forty minutes on the Kennedy Assassination. Am now convinced Lee Harvey Oswald did it. Am also convinced that there was no conspiracy amongst anyone outside of Lee Harvey Oswald.

Watched ER. Nice enough episode, although I have to say that I laughed my ass off at two points, one of which was just obvious and the other one being that Dr. Romano has terrible luck with helicopters. And then I started talking about his role in Robocop, and that his character in that movie died in a very, very bad manner, in which he first got toxic waste dumped on him, began to melt, and then got gibbed by Robocop's car and became windshield-washer fluid.

Watched the end of Patriot Games. Movie features a very young Thora Birch; Samuel L. Jackson, with a very prominent bald spot; Patrick Bergin, who was on last night's episode of Smallville; and finally, it also had Boromir. See, my logic here is, if I said, "It's also got Sean Bean," y'all would be going, "Huh?" But if I say it's got Boromir, then you either know what I'm talking about, or Boromir is just a pricy vitamin that paid for product-placement. "I'm taking Boromir every morning, and I'm feeling much better."

And right now I wish my ex-girlfriend was online, because Mary Reilly is on AMC, which used to mean American Movie Classics, but will now run just about anything, as noted by the fact that Mary fucking Reilly is on right now. Yes, the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde... as told by their/his servant, Mary Reilly. This movie is certainly not a classic. The only thing classic about this movie is the way that the trailer stuck in your head for ten fucking years, to the point where whenever I see anything about this movie, all I hear is John Malkovich whispering, "Mary Reilly", which was always a running joke with my ex-girlfriend, which ties this paragraph together quite nicely. And can I just say that these people are complete and total morons for not being able to tell that Jekyll and Hyde are the same guy. It's simple mathematics: Malkovich = Malkovich. We're not talking rocket science here.

Skipping forward on the cable a few channels, we end up at A&E, which used to stand for Arts & Entertainment... Now it's just some mediocre point in between, as I notice the Ed Harris & Benicio del Toro vehicle, "Huevos de Oro" is on. And that's the best part of the whole movie. Yes, it's called Golden Balls. Or, maybe Golden Eggs, but it's twice as entertaining if you can get a little laugh out of the title Golden Balls. That's really not saying much about the movie, is it? Good, because that's how I wanted it to sound.

Next channel: E! Again, somewhere in the title is the word Entertainment, but right now, I'm watching Corey Feldman trying to sing on the Howard Stern show... and... I'm changing the channel.

And we've got Howie Mandel working at Starbucks in a Tonight Show segment. Trust me, my day at Apollo's is funnier than this. I actually turned into the Coffee Nazi today when a college student said she didn't want a Cappuccino, she wanted a Crappuccino... and I yelled at her, "No coffee, one year!" I've always wanted to do that.

I just saw an ad that just totally missed the reality bus. It said, "The Number One movie in the hearts of critics and audiences is Master & Commander." Now, if I'm not mistaken, box-office dollars determine the Number One status of anything... and I've heard that one done in all kinds of ways, "The Number-One family film in America is Brother Bear!" when it actually only did like five million dollars, which was forty-five million less than Matrix Revolutions did that weekend. But, sure enough, it was the number-one family film. I hate it when they spin it like that, but this Master & Commander one was complete and utter horseshit.

Anyway, I'm going to chill out now (which is exactly what I was doing before, but without the typing) and watch some Law & Order of some variety or another.

AIM: therbmcc71
ICQ, MSN, Yahoo: Yeah, right, like I use those.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Results of a Three-Hour Discussion Upon Hasbro's Marketing Department During the Reagan Administration:

So, after I finished playing video games last night (this week's pick is Kingdom Hearts for the PS2... only twenty bucks), my friend Scott and I somehow started discussing the intricacies of things like, "Now, they killed off Optimus Prime and various Autobots and Decepticons in the Transformers movie, why didn't anyone die in the G.I. Joe movie, other than maybe Burgess Meredith's character?"

Note: This is the only part of this thing that has anything, really, to do with movies, but it does satisfy my need to stay somewhat on topic on this page, so just be happy that I'm not rambling about my personal life. Oh, by the way, did anyone else notice that the Transformers character of Jazz is clearly a black man? I'm serious. He's totally stereotypically black. Go back and watch either Season One or Two, and you'll agree. Or, if you watch the movie, Jazz is voiced by the late great Scatman Crothers.

Anyway, we're talking about death here. I think they were able to kill off loads of Transformers in the movie because the action-figures had run their life cycles. For example, Ironhide dies either first or second in the movie, and it's still kind of a shocking thing, that a cartoon would go and kill off a major secondary character (if that term makes any sense at all). Anyway, I think they basically did this to explain to the kids why they can't get an Ironhide action figure anymore.

Because Ironhide didn't have a head. That's right. His torso was the windshield and front-end of a big mini-van (again, if that makes sense), and the dude just didn't have a head. And neither did Ratchet, when you think about it, since all they did was stick different-colored plastic in the same mold and churn out another character for the kids to spend seven bucks on. And, of course, they also did this with Skywarp, Thundercracker and Starscream, which were so much more fun because they had parts that you could easily lose, such as their fists or their wings.

Now, of all the people that I was sad to see die in the Transformers movie, it had to be Starscream. I often wonder (okay, I've wondered this exactly once in my life) if Starscream had been head of the Decepticons in Megatron's absence, or if Megatron never had a Starscream, would the Decepticons have gotten closer to victory than they did when the two were working together? Because I'm not sure which one was actually inept. Christ, if those two weren't working together, Soundwave (the easily-broken boom-box) probably would've jumped up, slapped the hell out of whichever one was running the show and would've said in his synthesizer-enhanced voice, "Shut the hell up and get more Energon," which is pronounced EN-ur-jon, but is lacking a vowel to make that pronunciation clear to anyone who never watched the show.

So, they killed off characters which had run their life-cycle in the Transformers movie. And, yes, this includes Optimus Prime, whose body they simply injected into a white mold to create the base-unit for Ultra Magnus, the first of many, many Transformers which took five minutes and just short of an allen-wrench to transform. G.I. Joe, on the other hand, well, how the hell are they going to die, except for perhaps by falling down a hole or of old age? The Cobra guys shoot just as badly as the Joes do.

At least, that was true up until what I think was Season Three of G.I. Joe (a series I'm still waiting for on DVD, even though Transformers has three seasons out now). During Season Three, Cobra released these android units called BATs, which is the abbreviation for Battle Action Troopers, if I'm not mistaken. And, as we all know, actronyms are cool (especially ones like FUBAR or BFE). Anyway, they gave the Joes some non-human targets, and lo and behold, the Joes were no longer shooting like B.A. Baracus from the A-Team. But, if I'm not mistaken, the BATs were essentially invincible unless you hit them in this one rather sizable panel on their chests, which made me beg the question, "Who's running the combat-design department at Cobra? Because if you're going to put the sensitive electronics for an otherwise-invincible android anywhere on the robot, wouldn't you put those terribly vulnerable electronics on the BACK?"

So, we wonder why Cobra Commander never won? That's why. Furthermore, he couldn't decide between wearing that cool reflective helmet and that stupid blue cloth, because you know you didn't want the action figure where he was wearing the cloth on his head, which -no doubt- is why they kept pushing that guise on the show. Because it's all about the marketing of toys.

Which reminds me, I think I saw a Unicron action figure on a webpage or a catalog or something. Which is cool in the respect that, "Dude, they finally made a Unicron action figure!" but uncool in the respect that, "Dude, it only took them seventeen fucking years to do it!" Too bad it (1) just doesn't look as cool as Unicron did in the movie, and (2) he's not quite to scale with the other Transformers, given that the dude's supposed to be a fucking planet and the final act of the the movie took place with Transformers running around within his body. I suppose that the scale question would be asking a bit much for $49.99, though.

Finally, we got around to talking about novelty figures, like the Refrigerator Perry G.I. Joe action figure that you had to send away for. Yes, that was the year the Bears won the Superbowl. Now, can someone please tell me how the Fridge got his own action figure? I mean, who the hell is his agent? In any case, we got to talking about Zartan, and how he would change color in sunlight. If memory strikes me correctly, he became darker in sunlight, which was a really cool little novelty, even though he was supposed to be camouflaging himself, which didn't make a lot of sense in the long run. Anyway, I was thinking to myself, "If I was the design genius at Hasbro, I wouldn't have made him do the color change in the light. That would be eat away at profit margins on the figure."

See, if I was this guy, I'd have said, "Zartan becomes COMPLETELY INVISIBLE IN TOTAL DARKNESS!" Because, hey, prove me wrong.

AIM: therbmcc71
ICQ, MSN, Yahoo: Yeah, right, like I use those.

Monday, November 03, 2003

(second overly-long post of the night)

Okay, so I just threw Scream 3 into the old DVD player, and if you've got a problem with spoilers, well... too bad, because the movie's like three or four years old. For example, if I go and do a running commentary on Se7en or The Usual Suspects and I ruin the ending, it's your own damn fault, because you should've seen the movie.

Anyway, we're three minutes into the movie and Liev Schreiber, who played Cotton Weary -the convicted non-killer from the first movie- is rushing home to his girlfriend, who is unknowingly trapped in his house with the masked killer. She's fairly attractive, and in classic 90's style, she changes her clothes with the camera cutting away as she drops the towel. Also in 90's style, bad music by a then-really popular band is playing, and in this case it's Creed. Anyway, the killer finds her, says he's actually Cotton in disguise, Cotton's running up some stairs, she actually thinks he's the killer, and thus falls into the killer's trap. Cotton arms himself with a fireplace poker, which -if you call yourself a fan of movies- is probably the worst weapon in the world. You can't do shit with a fireplace poker, we all know that. It's no match for a butcher knife, or even the nine-iron being wielded by Cotton's girlfriend. And, of course, this being the beginning of a Scream movie, Cotton and the girlfriend die.

Cut to Sidney Prescott (yet another name that you'll only find in movies, sort of like 'Cleopatra Jones'), who's off living in the wilderness of god knows where. She's doing crisis-counseling. And then Gail Weathers is off on the lecture circuit, telling college kids how to be bad journalists. And then we bring in Patrick Dempsey, the classic red-herring kind of "maybe the cop did it!" kind of character. Strangely, I just now notice that I've got Patrick Dempsey hair. I should really just be thankful that I don't look like he did in that pizza-delivery movie.

So, now we go into the set of Stab 3, which is the movie within the movie, where we get into a too-short discussion on violence in movies. And then you've got the cast, which -except for the Token Black Guy- you just don't care if they all die. And then there's Parker Posey... I can't stand Parker Posey. I want her to die sooner than anyone else in this movie. At least her bodyguard is played by Puddy from Seinfeld. And then we've got Dewey, who's now walking with a limp, since he got all fucked-up at the end of the last movie... but lived. I swear, I actually hate all of these characters, and I want them all to die.

Enter Jay & Silent Bob in what's actually the funniest moment in the movie, although I have to say that it's a pretty sad publicity stunt on the part of Miramax/Dimension/Weinstein Empire.

And then we get into this dream sequence where Sidney's mother is coming over a hill, and the camera keeps tracking in on this picture of her mother, and you look at this picture, and -even though she's smiling- Sidney's mother is a VERY scary-looking woman. Anyway, it turns out to be the killer, then it turns out to be just a dream, and then it turns out that I still want Sidney to die.

And now Jenny McCarthy comes to the office looking for the director, who's played by Scott Foley. She looks at his music-video awards, breaks one, and I realize that Scott Foley's character really looks a lot like the real-life video-director Dave Meyers; like shockingly like him. Anyway, she's running lines with the former-Mister Jennifer Garner, and he goes all nuts and goes into killer-mode, and she hangs up, and goes into the wardrobe room, where there's at least thirty killer-costumes. She tries to call security on her cell phone and no one picks up. She goes into the prop room and pulls out a knife, but it's a rubber knife, and that's a cute little laugh. Anyway, to quote my old history teacher, "And then she died."

So we get back to Gail and Dewey. They're both retarded. Gail's still looking for a news story when people around her are getting killed, and Dewey's still looking for Gail... and -shit- they go back to Parker Posey's house, and she just annoys the fuck out of me. This isn't because she's Parker Posey and she's a good actress; it's basically because she's Parker Posey and I've never liked her in anything. But at least Puddy's funny.

So Patrick Dempsey's trying to figure out who did it, and Scott Foley's bitching about his career, and Parker Posey's bitching about her career, and the cops come after Scott Foley. See, the thing is it's a little bit too easy to buy that everything's a red herring in this movie, because everyone's got cloned cell phones and the killer's got a device that could make him sound like Donald Duck if he wanted it to.

So, Scott Foley's been taken away by the cops and Sidney gets a phone call on her private line, and it's her mother, or it's actually the killer. Sidney pulls out her gun and starts carrying it like a girl, rather than like someone who's ready to use it.

Okay, so we've got three of the remaining actors, Puddy, Dewey and Gail at the same place, having some sort of "production's been shut down, so this is the wrap party" kind of thing. Dewey sees a clue that becomes fairly important, and we find out that Sidney's mother went off to Hollywood for two years at some point. And then Puddy gets stabbed in the back, knocked around by a pan, which leaves Dewey and Gail defenseless to the classic "the door suddenly flies open, but no one's there!" gag. Strangely enough, Puddy doesn't actually die until he makes it all the way up to the front porch, and the three actors come out of nowhere, which means it could be any of them.

Now, let's go with a quick little deconstruction of the rest of this scene: They're getting faxed a new copy of the script, which is to say that someone in this world is just all kinds of fucked up. The script says the killer's outside or soemthing, so they all go outside. The lights have gone out, and so the actor kicks on his Zippo, and the house explodes. I mean, it just fucking explodes, like something out of Lethal Weapon or something. Which begs the question, if there was that much gas in the house, how is it that no one smelled it?

Everyone rolls down a hill, and Dewey puts a few bullets into the killer, who rolls under an SUV, and is apparently equipped with a bulletproof vest, which is standard knife-killer issue these days, because if you're going to go out on a murderous rampage and stab people, you'd better be prepared to get shot at. And the killer the killer leaves behind yet another picture of Sidney's mother, which says, "I killed her," and that sort of brings it all back to the beginning of the series.

So Sidney comes back to reality and goes to Hollywood and meets with Patrick Dempsey, and then she's off to a back-lot and then... gah! It's that girl from Welcome to the Dollhouse, who is apparently Randy's sister. So, Randy comes back on VHS, because he's the horror-genius and knew he was going to die in the last movie. So he disregards the rules for horror-movie sequels and sets up the three rules for film-trilogies, most notably the manner in which the past comes back to bite you in the ass.

And Randy mentioned Return of the Jedi a minute ago, and -well look who it is- we get to Carrie Fisher's cameo. But she's not really Carrie Fisher, she's just an unknown-actress who never made it in Hollywood, who bitches about how "the girl who got the part was the one who slept with George Lucas." Turns out that she knows all of the unknowns in the studio archives, and that Sidneys' mother was once Rina Reynolds and acted in several of John Milton's movies. Yes, John Milton. One of the most over-used names in cinema.

Now, if we want to get right down to the name 'John Milton', we have to go back something like five-hundred years to find the blind poet who wrote 'Paradise Lost', which is a profound work of staggering genius, 'Paradise Regained', which isn't nearly as fun, because it lacks the whole Heaven Versus Hell angle, and 'Areopagitica', which just has a really cool title. The name John Milton was also used to much better effect in the movie Devil's Advocate, which is actually a pretty good movie, even though Keanu Reeves should never play a lawyer (wasn't he a lawyer in Hardball? and that one was no good, too). But it had Charlize Theron and Al Pacino, and that's good enough.

I'm just going to interrupt this for a second and talk about how insane the set budget must've been on this movie, in that they managed to rebuild Sidney's house from the first Scream film, both interior and exterior, on a film set. And she dukes it out with the killer, and we're only about halfway through the movie. And Sidney's haunted by the death of her mother, she complains that the killer was trying to get her, blah, blah, blah.

So, Milton. John Milton this time around is played by Lance Henriksen, who is talking to Scott Foley, who has a really hysterical piece of dialogue: "Not only did they kill the film, but they killed my cast! Nobody's going to want to work with me. Variety called me a 'pariah.' I don't even know what a pariah is. Why couldn't someone have killed the cast from Stab 1 or Stab 2?" Lance Henriksen's an interesting person, with a career going all the way back to Dog Day AFternoon. I read in Premiere Magazine once that he didn't even learn to read until he was something like 35 years old. Guy had a rough life. Anyway, I hear he's doing Aliens Versus Predator right now, but I'm not sure about that.

In the next scene, we get into the preponderance of exposition and back-story that Randy warned us about, and Sidney asks Patrick Dempsey what his favorite scary movie is, and he says, "My Life," which I think was an all-too depressing film starring Michael Keaton. Maybe Dempsey meant that his life is scary, but I think that Michael Keaton movie's pretty scary, too, in that sort of way that Dying Young or Showgirls are scary movies.

So we get into the fantastically long sequence in which the killer goes about knocking people off one by one in the house, and I'm hungry, and so I'm just going to cut this commentary right here. My only question is, why the hell is it that these people don't just make an announcement when they find out the killer's in the house that says, "There's a killer in the house! We're going to save ourselves and leave! Nice knowing y'all!"

Anyway, I'm probably one of the few people who was actually totally satisfied with the ending to Scream 3, in that it managed pretty well to bring it all back to the beginning of the original Scream. Actually, quite a bit before the beginning of Scream, and it worked in a nice little piece of backstory that provided Billy Loomis and whatsisnuts with the motivation to kill Sidney Prescott's mother. No, it didn't seem terribly far-fetched to me, and kept the movie from being just a sequel about copycat killers.

AIM: therbmcc71
ICQ, MSN, Yahoo: Yeah, right, like I use those.
Okay. I've been kinda busy, what with about a thousand dollars' worth of car-repair bills, playing Kingdom Hearts, playing Combat Mission II... okay, just playing a shitload of games. And then there's the Indiana Jones trilogy... And Tango & Cash. The following is copied straight out of an email commentary on Tango & Cash, just because I'm busy working on something else, and Justin will explode if I don't update at some point. By the way, my ISP still can't connect to Blogger, or I'd actually be using proper italicization of titles and such.
(begin running commentary)

Stupid DVD wrapper… Stupid “anti-theft security devices” which are actually nothing more than oversized Scotch Tape that’s placed on all three sides of a DVD case that might open, so as to deter thieves, essentially because the thief would get tired of trying to pull these things off before he even gets to the DVD. This, of course, translates directly to the consumer as well, who bought the disc for six bucks and now can’t get the damn thing out without an Exacto knife.

(still trying to get this crap off of his DVD case) I want to see Bubba Ho-Tep. I wonder if it’s playing out at Cantera. (finishes pulling off about a square-yard of this Scotch Tape crap, opens the case and hisses at the side labeled ‘Standard’ before turning the disc over and putting in the non-unholy Widescreen side)

We start on a helicopter and Sylvester Stallone’s circa-1986 LeBaron convertible chasing a tanker truck. Stallone talks to the helicopter on his CB-radio, which makes me question what the hell those guys in the helicopter are hearing, because I can hardly understand a word Stallone is saying. He pulls out his revolver and dumps the bullets out, and puts in fresh bullets, which is common police practice. And the guys in the tanker truck, after having only two shots fired at their windshield decide not to run down Stallone, who I can’t remember whether he’s Tango or Cash, not that it matters. A local cop says to Stallone, “I want your badge, I want your gun, I want your ass!” which is not uncommon amongst the ‘local yokel’ cops who crave the ass of manly city cops.

Jack Palance drives by in his limo with a German and the bad guy from Big Trouble in Little China, but he’s not in his eight-foot-tall or eight-centuries-old mode, so he’s not nearly as entertaining. He’s complaining about Tango & Cash, which makes me think he’s a bad guy who had something to do with the billion dollars of cocaine on the truck.

Enter Kurt Russell, who’s shot repeatedly before shooting at an Asian man with his handy boot-gun, which is built into his heel, which makes me question if he’s got a prosthetic leg or something. Better yet, is that boot-gun standard police issue? He is then nearly run over by a truck, commandeers a car, we get a shot of a topless woman who’s apparently having sex in a car, which is clearly just a gratuitous boobie-shot for the girl who didn’t get Teri Hatcher’s role, who we meet in the next scene in her pre-Lois & Clark days, before she started looking anorexic.

After seeing the slick look of Stallone’s office, we get back to Kurt Russell’s office, which looks sort of like a rejected set from Barney Miller. He complains about how the shirt that got shot through cost him nine bucks. He then goes and tortures the Asian man, who begins speaking English and gives him the same address that’s soon given to Stallone, and the audience is therefore promised an inevitable meeting of the minds.

Jack Palance is clearly a madman, as he’s talking to himself, complaining about Tango & Cash even before the other bad guys get into the room, escorted by Palance’s henchman, played by Brion James, who was one of the androids in Blade Runner. He’s explaining why the bad guys can’t just kill Tango & Cash, in a piece of exposition that’s about three minutes too long, when he could simply say, “Because it’s an action movie, and you’re not allowed to just kill the movie stars.” Next, we prove that he’s truly a criminal mastermind, as he places rats in a maze to demonstrate what he’s going to do with Tango & Cash. After all, what criminal mastermind doesn’t have a rat-maze in his hideout?

So here’s Tango & Cash swaggering through an empty warehouse type place where you know that criminals would hide out at, but it’s empty and they’re so stupid that they don’t realize that it’s empty and that this is all a setup. And they meet up and there’s a dead man in the room, and it’s about sixty seconds before they find out that they’re being set up. Now, of course, they’re at the place by themselves, which makes the whole setup a lot easier, but then if there were thirty bad guys at the deal that’s supposedly going down in this warehouse, I don’t care if either of them happens to be the best cop in Los Angeles… the fact is, they’d be screwed, as quickly noted by the Feds who make Tango & Cash surrender at gunpoint.

Now, I have to question, why is it that Chicago doesn’t have famous cops like this who make the front page of the papers? And why is the drag-queen from The Fisher King playing the guy who did the recording from the wire-tap? So, of course, they end up supposedly going to a minimum-security prison, but they get re-routed to a maximum-security prison, because escaping from a minimum-security prison just isn’t exciting.

(begins eating Cheetos) So they expect to walk into a nice, comfy minimum-security prison, and they’re actually at Shawshank Penitentiary’s bigger brother. And, of course, they’re having a conversation in the shower, which leads to the gratuitous butt-shot and soap-dropping joke. And then there’s the inevitable cellmate humor, during which Stallone’s cellmate is played by Ron Howard’s brother Clint, a convicted murderer who loves playing with his Slinky (after all, when forty year-old men are Slinky-happy, they’re clearly insane and should be in prison). They are then rousted out of their sleep and dumped down the laundry chute, and we all know they’ll be okay because this is only forty minutes into the movie… and because Luke Skywalker got dumped down a garbage chute and eventually blew up the Death Star. Anyway, the two of them meet Jack Palance, who they don’t really know is Jack Palance, because he’s all in silhouette, and then they get hung on meathooks, electrocuted, and eventually get out of jail. They have to get out of jail for script purposes, because Stallone’s got his own full-length prison-film Lock-Up to do yet, which is just a more drawn-out version of this sequence of Tango & Cash.

I swear, this movie was better when I was a kid. Or maybe it’s like so many movies where it’s only good on Saturday afternoons when the Cubs game is rained out.

So here’s Palance being called on a giant video screen by his cronies, who say they’re being threatened by maniacs. Tango & Cash aren’t maniacs… Palance is a maniac. He’s got a fucking rat-maze. And he’s now playing with a rat and telling it that it’s beautiful. And speaking of weird, Kurt Russell walks into a laboratory that looks like a poor man’s lab from a James Bond movie.

My god, you’re right. This movie’s pretty much awful. Maybe if I was thirteen years old again, this would be great, or maybe if either Kurt Russell or Sylvester Stallone were still big-name actors. But in this day and age… Well, it’s awful. Even the Teri Hatcher strip-tease, which is interrupted by her (I shit you not) banging poorly on a pair of electric drums, just goes to show how horrible the Eighties were, and how they pushed the film industry back about twenty or thirty years in terms of quality. Ah, the Eighties back when you can just shrug off a bullet wound and say, “It’s okay, because it passed right through.”

Kurt Russell is getting a back massage from Teri Hatcher. While this movie sucks and the scene does nothing for me, I have to say I wouldn’t mind having a back massage. It wouldn’t have to be from Teri Hatcher or anything, basically because of the fact that it would remind me of how much this movie sucks and the way that she looked anorexic around the third season of Lois & Clark, which eventually became as bad as Tango & Cash. Anyway, I need a back massage. I’d like to thank this movie for reminding me of that, and despise it for reminding me that I need a back massage and don’t have a girlfriend who could give me a back massage, since I’m not about to have a guy give me a back massage, since that entails the familiar laying of hands on another person’s body.

So, now that it’s terribly clear about how right you were about how much Tango & Cash sucks, I’m just going to watch … ooh… THX … Yeah, I’m watching at least the opening to Raiders of the Lost Ark, which I’m pretty sure is one of the great opening sequences of all time, for various reasons, not the least of which is that it’s got Alfred Molina as the “Throw me the idol, I throw you the whip!” guy, who later played the drug-dealing Jesse’s Girl-singing shotgun-wielding lunatic in Boogie Nights.

See, the thing is, about this opening sequence, that we don’t see Harrison Ford’s face until he uses his whip and walks out of shadow. All we see is Indy in silhouette and from behind and from what I’d call the “Elliott View,” after the way the character of Keys was seen for the majority of E.T. The Indiana Jones series has always, in my opinion, been an exercise in stuff that makes people scared. You’ve got darkness, enclosed spaces, bugs, dead things and a bottomless pit, all in the opening sequence. And if you’re afraid of being crushed to death, I guess you can tack the giant boulder onto the list.

Little thing about the idol that Indy picks up in this sequence: In Spy Kids 2, the kids are in this big room with all of this treasure that looks like a cross between the pirate ship from Goonies and an archaeological find. The girl picks up this very statue, looks at it and then shrugs and tosses it aside. I thought it was a cute little reference.

Anyway, that’s about all of that. In the next scene, all of the girls are in Indy’s class are all just staring at him because they’re all in love with him. Meanwhile, there’s only like two guys in the class, one of whom leaves an apple. … I never noticed that before. Oh My God, that’s hysterical.

(at this point, I fell asleep on my keyboard or something, thus ending the email with about five pages that just go, "bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb..." and so on) In summary, when I was a kid, Tango & Cash was good. Today, it's just a way of convincing people that premature euthanasia is the way to go.

AIM: therbmcc71
ICQ, MSN, Yahoo: Yeah, right, like I use those.

Friday, October 10, 2003

What I Did On My Day Off of Work, by Umgawa...

Saw Kill Bill today. That pretty much goes without saying, since the only Tarantino movie that I didn't see on opening day in the theater was Reservoir Dogs, and that's mainly because it's never played within thirty or forty miles of my house.

Anyway, I'm going to talk about Kill Bill next time, and hopefully I'll remember to talk about important things like keychains and sunglasses and black & white suits and (most importantly) the arterial splatter effect of Japanese cinema, whether it's in a martial arts film or in anime. I'd prefer to see the movie again before commenting on it in any sort of real depth, but I'll probably be too wrecked after work tomorrow to be able to sit through any movie and not pass out from exhaustion.

That said, on to the DVD's I bought last night. Not surprisingly, given thirty-six hours off of work, I managed to spend about eight hours watching all three of the movies. This isn't terribly unusual, in that when the second season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was released on DVD, I watched the entire 22-hour season in a single sitting, barring restroom breaks and going to the garage to get another case of Mountain Dew. So. In the order that I watched them:

Final Destination 2: I haven't laughed this much during a movie in a long, long time. It's like every other bad horror film of all time, where you're never really shocked, and you know that all you want to do is watch people within ten years of your own age die grisly and painful deaths. You sick bastards, all of you. But, the point is, we like it, we love it, we want some more of it, and that's why God created the Sequel (although He named it the New Testament).

I didn't see the original Final Destination, so I can't say if "Randy's Rules of Horror-Movie Sequels" (kudos to Kevin Williamson for them) hold true.

"First, the body count is always bigger."

Now, in the first one, apparently they blew up an airplane full of people, but that doesn't count for horror movies. You're not allowed to rack up a body count on simple genocide (a term that I'm currently finding very funny). You can kill them off in pairs or small groups, but anything more than five at a time just doesn't score a killer any bonus points.

"Two, the death scenes are always much more elaborate."

Okay, even without seeing the first one, I think that they managed to out-do just about every horror movie I've ever seen in terms of sheer creativity. Had they been able to keep up the pace, though and kill another seven or ten people, then it easily would've beaten out Jason X (also known as "Jason in Space!") as my current favorite throwaway horror film (which is any horror film that doesn't break new ground for the genre, examples of which I might get to as Halloween draws nearer).

Now, I knew virtually nothing about this movie, other than basic plot (to which I said, "How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?"), but I was reading an interview with Quentin Tarantino last week, and he said he absolutely loved the opening highway sequence, so I went, "Hm, I guess I'll buy that for eleven bucks." And -sho nuff- that highway sequence was a trip. And I thought to myself, "Yeah, okay, that was fun," and then in rolls that plot and yada, yada, and midway through the movie I considered making a Final Destination 2 drinking-game, in which one of the things will be, "Every time someone says the phrase "Death's Design" you have to drink." So, suffice to say the plot didn't have me hooked. All I was in for were seven or eight death sequences, which were just absolutely fantastic. The way the plate-glass pancakes one guy or the subtlety of an airbag deployment propelling one's head into a terribly sharp object... priceless.

Next up, Spy Kids 2. It is what it is. To me, it's Goonies all over again, which is a good thing because I loved Goonies when it came out and I still love it today. Sure the Spy Kids aren't the foul-mouthed brats of Goonies, but it's still a pretty fun adventure-movie that I pretty much purchased because Robert Rodriguez included a new 10-Minute Film School on the DVD, plus feature commentary. I don't know if there are any aspiring filmmakers who actually read this site (if you find my email address and start submitting scripts, I will send a hitman to your house), but Rodriguez is the guy to listen to if you want to make movies on the cheap. Granted, he was borrowing equipment and shooting in Mexico, but he managed to swing the bulk of El Mariachi for $7,000, and then Columbia bought it for significantly more money. Today, he's the next best thing to George Lucas, in that he's producing his own movies in his own studio, and just uses the film distributor as ... well, a distributor. Everyone in Hollywood should be so lucky.

Which brings us to Gangs of New York Gorgeous movie. Absolutely gorgeous. The acting in the movie is really great... as long as anyone's doing the acting except for Leonardo DiCaprio or Cameron Diaz. Daniel Day-Lewis may not have deserved the Oscar as much as Chris Cooper did for Adaptation (who deserves another one for Seabiscuit this year), but he's the only really likeable member of the cast. He plays Bill the Butcher in a manner that -if you skipped the first ten minutes of the movie- he's the protagonist, and DiCaprio's just some little punk kid who's out to get him because his father died in a big fight. It's an oversimplification, I know, but I'm doing the stream of consciousness thing, here.

So here I've got a film by Martin Scorsese that was up for ten Oscars last year, and I think it pulled a Color Purple, which is a shame, because Martin Scorsese really needs to get an Oscar for directing before the Academy just gives up on him and gives him the Thalberg Award for Lifetime Achievement like they did with Peter O'Toole. Actually, Scorsese may already have a Thalberg, so I'm not sure what would be the proper thing to do. Anyway. Gorgeous movie, plot's nice, Daniel Day-Lewis was really great, and I'm going to reserve any further judgment on the movie until I have three hours to sit down and watch it again when my body's not telling my brain to go the fuck to sleep.

Which is exactly what I'm going to do now.

AIM: therbmcc71
ICQ, MSN, Yahoo: Yeah, right, like I use those.
I hit Hollywood Video tonight and got Final Destination 2, Spy Kids 2 and Gangs of New York for thirty-three bucks. Spy Kids 2 was expectedly good in a Goonies kind of way, but Final Destination 2 was fucking outstanding. I'll write more about it later, but I'm at my friend's house right now and his Shift key is virtually impossible to work while trying to type at over three words a minute. This shocks the hell out of me, because I don't think he's ever used it in his life.

AIM: therbmcc71
ICQ, MSN, Yahoo: Yeah, right, like I use those.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

The Cubs almost had the game tonight. I hope tonight's starting pitcher never throws another game in his entire life. ... That said...

So today was Judgment Day in California, and the Terminator is going to take office on Tuesday. God, I hope I'm not the only one who finds something inherently wrong with any number of people voting for a guy who doesn't have a plan, other than, "I'm going to fix things." I mean, getting into office without a track-record isn't that bad. Getting into office (let alone the office of Governor) without a fucking plan is completely beyond me. I don't know who to blame, whether it's the voters or the people who said, "Dude, you'd be a good governor. All you gotta do is sign this bill or veto that one."

And, granted, that's about the crux of being the governor of a state. At least, that's how it is for Illinois, but you have to look at this realistically: Jesse Ventura went into his gubernatorial campaign with a plan. ... And he acheived just about every goal of his plan during his first term in office. People voted for his plan, and they got it, and then somewhere during his second term, they all rebelled on him.

Personally, I'd give Arnold about a year and a half before the whole state rebels on him and mounts another recall. There are eighteen states in the country that have provisions for gubernatorial recall, and I'm willing to bet that the Republicans are going to (given their new success with California) are going to go after the remaining seventeen other states.

Now, given that little sentence, you might say, "Dude, what are you? The mortal enemy of Rush Limbaugh?" The answer, of course, is, "Yes I am," but you didn't let me finish. See, after those recalls are completed, then the Democrats just sit and bide their time, wait for nothing to get fixed, and then they go on recalls of their own. See, this is what happens in the two-party system. I used to laugh at Russia for their wacky run-offs after run-offs, until someone finally achieves a plurality (more than fifty percent, for those of us who don't remember our high school Poli-Sci class), but now it ain't such a bad idea. Furthermore, at least Russia goes with the popular vote, rather than an electoral college, but that's an argument for three years ago.

So, why am I writing all of this on a page that's pretty much devoted to movies? Because Arnold Schwarzenegger won, of course. I'm just trying to tie all of this into the underlying meaning of the page. Had I been the campaign guy for Gary Coleman, I'd have been running ads that said, "Vote for the other Arnold!" and put a picture of the young Gary Coleman up there. I'd have a picture of Arnold from Diff'rent Strokes up here, but Blogger doesn't allow it. Furthermore, I'd actually have to do some work for that, which I'd rather not do, given that I'm still working on the design for my next website. Anyway, you know the "Whatchu Talkin' 'Bout, Willis?" look, so just envision that, and that's what I'd have done.

And California's fucked up, anyway. I'd just as soon never, ever live there. I'm sure I probably will at some point, but once I have some money, then I'll be living in Nevada, and I'll just make the hellish commute to Hollywood. After all, California elected Reagan, who was elected President. Granted, the guy did some good stuff, but he set the precedent for hardcore deficit-spending, which is a concept that our current President has taken to new heights. God, and I remember when the national debt was only three trillion dollars. And if Bush gets re-elected, then it'll be up to ten trillion. And we were paying that shit down under Clinton.

And speaking of Clinton, you've got all these stories out about Schwarzenegger (let's just call him Arnold from now on, because I hate typing out that last name) sexually harassing women and praising Hitler and all of that. Kids, let's just remember that our last President was getting hummers in the Oval Office, and he did a pretty damn good job, domestically. You can argue all you want that we've still got troops in Kosovo or wherever, but the fact is the guy had his shit in order. Take care of America first, and just launch cruise missiles at anyone who pisses us off. Taking over Iraq for no good reason is not good fiscal policy, because it costs a shitload of money. Anyway, let's just hope that Arnold is a woman-groping fiend, rather than a staunch Republican like Dubya.

And that's my political rant for the year. I wouldn't have done this if Bustamante had won, and if Gallagher or Gary Coleman had won, then it'd have been iffy. But Arnold won, and so I think I'm justified in keeping with the movie topic. ... Do I even have any Arnold movies on DVD? Hm... Maybe I should pick up Total Recall tomorrow. Anyway, have a good day, and hope you're not living in California over the next eighteen months.

AIM: therbmcc71
ICQ, MSN, Yahoo: Yeah, right, like I use those.

Monday, October 06, 2003

I'm writing this at my friend's house. Let me just say this, and then I'll go: The Joe Schmo Show on Spike (the former TNN) is the most entertaining half-hour on television right now. This guy hates chocolate so much that he can't lick it off of a stripper for the purpose of winning a game.

The fact that this guy doesn't know that he's on a fake reality show makes it almost as good a concept as Joe Millionaire, which is a role I was born to play. "You're going to send twenty-five women after me because they all think I'm rich, and all I have to do is lie to them? Sign me up!"

Anyway, I'm going to play some Ghost Master or SimCity 4 now, and then go to bed, so I can go to work tomorrow without passing out halfway through my shift.

AIM: therbmcc71
ICQ, MSN, Yahoo: Yeah, right, like I use those.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Okay, this is the "most retardedest thing I ever heard" (a quote I got from my friend Kevin, with regard to a trip I took a while back), in that -for some godforsaken reason, I can't access Google or Blogger (which is owned by Google) through either of my browsers. So, I'm using the web browser that's built into AOL to type this in -which is more of a pain in the ass than updating my AOL page ever was- and tell all of you that I'm not dead, even though you may wish that I was.

I have no idea if my ISP got bought out by the People's Republic of China and subsequently went and just blocked Google, but that wouldn't shock me, since my ISP went from being awesome to blowing goats once the founders cashed out and sold the company to some other company that just wants to use the bandwidth for hosting corporate webpages. By eliminating dialup users' access to Google, they can effectively piss everyone off and then they won't have to worry about their dialup clients anymore. And, of course, there's absolutely no one you can complain to, because now they're some big company that blows goats, rather than the medium-sized ISP that everyone liked. Bastards.

So, yeah. I'll figure this out eventually, I hope. I've got a bunch of DVD's on my desk that I can mock. Unfortunately, in the meantime, I'm going to have to just figure this crap out and play some more Madden 2004 and Metroid... and maybe later this week I'll pick up a copy of Pikmin. For how much I'm playing my Cube these days, y'all might never see me again.

AIM: therbmcc71
ICQ, MSN, Yahoo: Yeah, right, like I use those.

Monday, September 29, 2003

I want to learn how to make Muppets, just so I can make a video for this song. Okay, so this is a sorry excuse for a non-post, but I'm getting more tipsy by the moment, as I watch (or not) the Bears lose their opener at Soldier Field. Might I add that the best two analogies to the "new Soldier Field" are:

*"George Jetson's spaceship landing in the Flintstones' living room"
*"A cruise ship crashing into the Parthenon."

Anyway, try and come up with a video in your head for this song. I've always thought it'd be great with Muppets, or preferably something like the puppets from Crank Yankers. This is Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds' "The Curse of Millhaven" off of the Murder Ballads disc, and it was also issued several years back on a Details magazine CD, which is how I first heard Nick Cave (barring "Red Right Hand" which was featured in Scream):

I live in a town called Millhaven
And it's small and it's mean and it's cold
But if you come around just as the sun goes down
You can watch the whole town turn to gold
It's around about then that I used to go a-roaming
Singing La la la la La la la lie
All God's children they all gotta die

My name is Loretta but I prefer Lottie
I'm closing in on my fifteenth year
And if you think you have seen a pair of eyes more green
Then you sure didn't see them around here
My hair is yellow and I'm always a-combing
La la la la La la la lie
Mama often told me we all got to die

You must have heard about The Curse Of Millhaven
How last Christmas Bill Blake's little boy didn't come home
They found him next week in One Mile Creek
His head bashed in and his pockets full of stones
Well, just imagine all the wailing and moaning
La la la la La la la lie
Even little Billy Blake's boy, he had to die

Then Professor O'Rye from Millhaven High
Found nailed to his door his prize-winning terrier
Then next day the old fool brought little Biko to school
And we all had to watch as he buried her
His eulogy to Biko had all the tears a-flowing
La la la la La la la lie
Even God's little creatures, they have to die

Our little town fell into a state of shock
A lot of people were saying things that made little sense
Then the next thing you know the head of Handyman Joe
Was found in the fountain of the Mayor's residence
Foul play can really get a small town going
La la la la La la la lie
Even God's children all have to die

Then, in a cruel twist of fate, old Mrs Colgate
Was stabbed but the job was not complete
The last thing she said before the cops pronounced her dead
Was, "My killer is Loretta and she lives across the street!"
Twenty cops burst through my door without even phoning
La la la la La la la lie
The young ones, the old ones, they all gotta die

Yes, it is I, Lottie. The Curse Of Millhaven
I've struck horror in the heart of this town
Like my eyes ain't green and my hair ain't yellow
It's more like the other way around
I gotta pretty little mouth underneath all the foaming
La la la la La la la lie
Sooner or later we all gotta die

Since I was no bigger than a weevil they've been saying I was evil
That if "bad" was a boot that I'd fit it
That I'm a wicked young lady, but I've been trying hard lately
Oh, fuck it! I'm a monster! I admit it!
It makes me so mad my blood really starts a-going
La la la la La la la lie
Mama always told me that we all gotta die

Yeah, I drowned the Blakey kid, stabbed Mrs. Colgate, I admit
Did the handyman with his circular saw in his garden shed
But I never crucified little Biko, that was two junior high school psychos
Stinky Bohoon and his friend with the pumpkin-sized head
I'll sing to the lot, now you got me going
La la la la La la la lie
All God's children have all gotta die

There were all the others, all our sisters and brothers
You assumed were accidents, best forgotten
Recall the children who broke through the ice on Lake Tahoo?
Everyone assumed the "Warning" signs had followed them to the bottom
Well, they're underneath the house where I do quite a bit of stowing
La la la la La la la lie
Even twenty little children, they had to die

And the fire of '91 that razed the Bella Vista slum
There was the biggest shit-fight this country's ever seen
Insurance companies ruined, land lords getting sued
All cause of wee girl with a can of gasoline
Those flames really roared when the wind started blowing
La la la la La la la lie
Rich man, poor man, all got to die

Well I confessed to all these crimes and they put me on trial
I was laughing when they took me away
Off to the asylum in an old black Mariah
It ain't home, but you know, it's fucking better than jail
It ain't such bad old place to have a home in
La la la la La la la lie
All God's children they all gotta die

Now I got shrinks that will not rest with their endless Rorschach tests
I keep telling them they're out to get me
They ask me if I feel remorse and I answer, "Why of course!
There is so much more I could have done if they'd let me!"
So it's Rorschach and Prozac and everything is groovy
Singing La la la la La la la lie
All God's children they all have to die
La la la la La la la lie
I'm happy as a lark and everything is fine
Singing La la la la La la la lie
Yeah, everything is groovy and everything is fine
Singing La la la la La la la lie
All God's children they gotta die

I just love that song.

AIM: therbmcc71
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Friday, September 26, 2003

Abused Advanced-Placement English Skills

I've been in need of a writing exercise worthy of the three and a half years of AP English I was sentenced to back in high school. For those of you who don't know, AP English basically gives you a short little piece of literature and a prompt that says, "Here's a completely asinine topic: Discuss." So, I've been looking around for something totally moronic like finding instances of Christ-imagery in a particular passage of a random literary semi-classic So, while watching my weekly DVD purchase tonight, I came up with something so utterly fatuous, I almost don't feel the need to expound upon it, since the very act of coming up with the topic was an act of genius. Or insanity. I'm not sure which. So here it is:

The Two Towers as an Allegory for World War II

-----------(I might add that this is an unpolished first draft, there will be no second draft, and it's all complete and utter bullshit, so don't start IM'ing me to say how I'm wrong and that the books were nothing like this. because I never read the books and I'm just filling space, here, so my two readers don't think that I've gone and abandoned another page)----------

If you ignore the majority of the movie and cut the heart from the story (such as the misplaced thing between Aragorn and Eowyn) and take The Two Towers as a film that is strictly about war, the astute viewer will find a film that parallels the actions of certain countries during the second World War.

For example, the Shire represents Switzerland. During the War of the Ring, the Hobbits are, by and large, completely neutral and/or oblivious to the coming war that will end their existence. They just sit around in the Shire the whole time and none of them care, because the Shire is the last damn place that Saruman or Sauron want. Of course, if the Scouring of the Shire sequence was actually in the movies, I might have a different opinion.

That unimportant example out of the way, Sauron and Saruman represent the two major countries of the Axis powers, those being Japan and Germany. Really, Saruman himself can represent both, of the countries' armies, while Sauron represents the Axis' political ties. Sauron is represented in the film as being as close to pure-evil as inhumanly possible, and Saruman is just this guy whose army goes out to whoop some ass. Of course, the Orcs represent the general Axis army, while the Uruk-hai represent the elite forces (perhaps the mechanized infantry or stormtroopers).

The Ents (tree-people) represent the United States, which maintained an official sort of neutrality during the war, until the U.S. was attacked at Pearl Harbor in 1941. By this rationale, the Ents stay out of the war until they find their forests have been... well, deforested. This pisses them off to no end, and they go out to whoop the asses of the aforementioned ass-whoopers. They succeed in their battle and put an end to Saruman's war-machine in a way that the humans were incapable of doing.

Sixteen minutes into the film, Saruman can be seen talking to a group of men who look like a cross between the torch-wielding villagers of the Universal Frankenstein and rejects from the Unabomber School of Personal Hygiene. Their opinions are easily swayed by Saruman and he needs to offer nothing but real-estate, to be taken from the people who currently live in Rohan. These guys represent countries like Austria that went, "Yee-haw!" when Germany annexed them, and then supplied plenty of soldiers for the Axis' takeover of Europe.

Theoden and the general populace of Rohan represent Western Europe. Brad Dourif represents Vichy France, which was only affiliated with the Nazis due to the occupation of France by the German army, and the fact that the French were just pansies to begin with. However, a number of the French army got across the English Channel at Dunkirk at the beginning of the war, and they are represented by Eomer and his banished horsemen. Or, perhaps they represent the American army, and the battle of Helm's Deep represents Omaha Beach on D-Day.

The Elves represent the Soviet Union, of course, because the Elves could really give two shits about the war; at least until it threatens to show up on their doorstep. That's when Elrond finally grows a pair and decides to commit some troops to fighting back, rather than just bailing for far-off lands like Siberia. With Russia handling the Eastern front of the war and the Western front being fought by Europe, there was little hope for the Axis to win in Europe.

I have no idea what to classify Gondor as. On another tremendously minor note, I'm going to come up with the completely bullshit suggestion that Frodo and Sam Gamgee represent the Manhattan Project, in that there is a certain job that must be done in order to end the war, and they are the only two who can do it. Battles can be fought forever, but the forces of Sauron could never truly fall so long as the One Ring is in existence. Hence, Hiroshima needs to be bombed, and that is the mission of these two Hobbits. Never mind that they're from Switzerland.

It's now five-thirty in the morning, and I need to go to sleep. If there's anyone I missed (like Gollum), then they're not that important, anyway. Maybe before I go out to see the band tonight (shameless plug for Five Year Jacket), I'll watch Daredevil, which I also got on DVD tonight. Gotta love the 2 for $20 deals at Hollywood Video. Haven't gotten a bad disc from them yet, whereas you're lucky if you get one from Lackluster (the Apollo's Coffee of video-rental chains), you're lucky if the damn thing's not shattered.

AIM: therbmcc71
ICQ, MSN, Yahoo: Yeah, right, like I use those.