October 31, 2004 13:22Imitation - The Sincerest Form Of Flattery; Theft - The Greatest Mark Of Legitimacy
I have arrived.
Seeing my work made available to pirates around the world is heartening. The fact that someone took the time and bother to make a video capture of one of my Fries episodes and upload it to a bittorrent site fills me with a sense of accomplishment as great, if not greater, than when I submit my quarterly taxes to reaffirm my status as a contributing, exploited member of society. Out of the fifty-two episodes of Fries With That? currently in the can, only my episode "While Supplies Last" has surfaced on the web. Although I'd like to think this is the result of my writing being so sharp, my nuanced plot being so intriguing, and my keen sense of social satire being so irresistibly witty, it probably has more to do with the actual subject matter of this one particular episode. Being about nerd culture, it appeals to the same nerd culture that fuels the online piracy industry. The psychological aberration that leads an otherwise genetically stable human being into an obsession with fantasy, science fiction and comic books also leads them towards a symbiotic relationship with their home computers. It's these people who become obsessed with digitizing everything they hold near and dear (like the aforementioned fantasy, science fiction, and comic book products) and making it part of the great hive brain we call the internet.
I fully encourage you to go download it. If enough people swap this file, I'll have staked out another tiny claim to immortality in cyberspace. Perhaps, in time, it might even overtake the most pervasive thing I've ever contributed to the internet (before there was even a web), that bloody Mr. Pink transcript from 1992. This thing has been bouncing around for twelve years now in various incarnations, and has lately picked up some accompanying sound files to backup my findings. One day I'd really like to accomplish something that will serve as a better legacy for my existence on Earth.
Busy? Yeah, I'm busy. I'm now in full-swing draft mode for the new show I'm working on and have to come up with two hours worth of must-see TV over the next month and a bit. People from the Irish end of the project flew into town and forced me to partake of more fine food and expensive wine as we addressed broadcaster concerns about our material so far. It wasn't all dinners and conference room marathons, though. I also got to spend part of last week hanging out with real-life gangsters in the name of research because the show we're developing is about the Irish mob. I keep saying we should be developing a show about nymphomaniac strippers so I could research that instead, but so far, no dice. I really don't understand that because everyone wants to watch more television about nymphomaniac strippers. The concept sells itself. One day those producer people will listen to reason.
The '04 campaign in the States has entered the stretch, and the political rhetoric has reached a pitch so shrill only dogs can still hear it. As America settles down to decide which war criminal it likes best, there's an awful lot of contradictory statements and shifting positions to sort through. Despite the sheer volume of bullcrap in this shitstorm, I have to award the hypocrite of the week award to none other than… Saturday Night Live.
Following last week's very public outing of Ashlee Simpson as a lip-syncher on their own show, the cast of SNL spent a good chunk of this week's show tearing her a new one over the whole embarrassing incident. Sure, she deserves a good roasting, but it's not like SNL itself holds the moral high ground in this case. Are they trying to suggest they weren't complicit in the affair, or that Lorne Michaels somehow didn't know he was booking an act that had no intention of uttering a word that wasn't safely pre-recorded? Please. You can bet any sum of money that the guy who pressed the "play" button during Ashlee's segments was a unionized employee of NBC, and that everyone on the show knew the score, from the pages in the monkey uniforms on down to both token black guys who get no air time. Everyone except Amy Poehler. I have to believe she was out of the loop because I could never believe dear, sweet Amy was part of such a nefarious deception.
I very much doubt this was the first case of lip-synching on the show, but following such an obvious cock-up, perhaps it will be the last. And then maybe, maybe the "live" in Saturday Night Live will apply to the musical portion of the show as well.
Have a happy Hallowe'en folks because in two more days, that's when things will truly get scary.
On November 2nd, vote Kerry. His daughters are hotter.
October 14, 2004 04:05Missing Links And Throwbacks
Whenever possible, I like to slip the latest links of note into my blog in as unobtrusive a way as possible. This means mixing them with links both positive and rewarding, as well as those that are utterly meaningless and silly. Lately, there have been a few that I've been really anxious to point you at, but unable to find a reasonable way to slip them into the conversation. So let me be purely crass for a moment and tell you, point blank, where to go.
Superhero geeks may know all about the fanboy favourite Batman films out there, namely Batman: Dead End and a mock trailer called World's Finest. But I've been shocked at the general lack of discussion about the Greyson trailer, certainly the best example of this geek subgenre. Another mock trailer for a film that doesn't and (in many ways, sadly) will never exist, D.C. comics fans should have orgasms over the number of cameo appearances sprinkled throughout. Most others will consider it shamelessly overdone. Nevertheless, there's more heart and soul in these five minutes of superhero ecstasy than in just about any Hollywood feature counterpart.
I'm sure you're all aware that BBC radio has reunited the original cast (minus the one dead guy) to do two new seasons of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Due to Douglas Adams also being inconsiderately dead, the new material is derived from the last three books of his Hitchhiker series. As such, they don't match up with the continuity of the original radio plays, but why split hairs on a project that is, otherwise, so very positive? You can stream the most recent broadcast here, although you'll probably have to hunt the net if you want to listen to the previous episodes.
While I'm at it, I'll also direct your mouse pointer at the latest Star-Wars inspired bit of Flash fun. This, like the Star Wars films themselves, has been reduxed to death from the original creation. The only way these guys differ from Lucas is that they've managed to improve their work instead of detract from it. It is, of course, a bit hip-hoppy for my tastes, but I feel obliged to link to it since it was submitted to me by my friend Rosalind. I've linked to everything else she's ever emailed me because, unlike the legions of unconscionable spammers out there, she always sends me cool stuff. You may remember this one from a much earlier blog entry. Well, she was the person who found it and correctly identified it as something I would think is neat.
Rosalind, bless her black heart, also sent me this link to The Exorcist -- as performed in 30 seconds by bunnies. I think it's pretty self-explanatory.
Then we have an interview with Fred Dekker. Fred remains one of my favourite genre writer/directors, although he's been largely marginalized by Hollywood for years. Responsible for classics like Night of the Creeps and The Monster Squad, I continue to pull for him and whatever project he may currently be trying to bring to life. Frankly, before this, I'd never seen a single interview with him, so when I found this one I became all titillated. Okay, it doesn't take much. But my tits were most definitely lated.
I'm not one for jokes. Really. I don't like it when someone says, "Hey, did you hear the one about…" or "Knock knock…" or "A priest, a rabbi and a monk walk into a bar…" But I have to ask you, just this once -- Did you hear the one about the Newfie who tried to support his drug habit by stealing cheese? NB: Newfie jokes are the Canadian equivalent of Polish jokes and are equally unfunny. There's no worthwhile punch line here either, so just file this one under, "Huh?"
Feel free to add your own favourite hot links of note to the comments section. And should I ever again fall too far behind in bringing you the latest in web-browsing nonsense, by all means badger me for more.
October 08, 2004 05:34Sofa Spuds And Couch Potatoes
The idea for Wednesday Movie Night crawled out of the primordial ooze earlier this year when someone stated the obvious.
"Shane has a lot of cool movies we've never seen. Or heard of for that matter."
"Maybe we should get him to bring one over every week," was the next bright idea forwarded.
So began a series of film screenings at a venue known far and wide as "Eric's Place." People gather, food is served, movies are endured.
As I try to broaden the cinematic tastes of people who would prefer to have their experience with film narrowly focused on the occasional Star Wars prequel and whichever Ben Stiller comedy came out this week, I try to make somewhat entertaining choices. Often I cart along a selection of titles I'm in the mood to defend, and then put it to a vote, so that the audience itself bears some of the responsibility when the choice of entertainment edification tanks horribly. This democratic process has been put on hold for the month of October, and already there's dissent at the polling stations.
The Hallowe'en fest began in earnest this past Wednesday after we got some preliminary short material out of the way. The trailer for Water to Wine was streamed from the net to a confused crowd who only understood why I was showing them this after they took a second look at the opening shot. As I pointed out, in only a few months time we will be celebrating an important anniversary. 2005 will mark twenty years since Harrison Ford made a good movie. Considering the state of his career, I think his appearance in a shitty snowboarding home video is a step in the right direction.
Following up on a bit of unfinished business, we screened what I had originally meant to show as a companion piece to Zatoichi a few weeks back. Episode VII of Samurai Jack had a blind samurai motif to it that I thought would complement the feature nicely. Sadly, I forgot my season one set at home the night Zatoichi unexpectedly won the "let's watch that" vote, so I was caught with my pants down. Those in the room who were Samurai Jack virgins seemed genuinely impressed with the design of this quintessential episode.
And then there was the feature. After so many weeks of skipping over my horror collection for the sake of the self-professed wimps in the audience, it was time, at last, to take off the gloves. The horror festival of October had been announced well in advance, word of which movie we'd be watching was on the street, and everyone should have been well forewarned. The turnout was encouraging with a record number of attendees, and one who travelled an extra 5000 miles to get there (I'll pretend it was specifically for movie night). The movie was Haute Tension, winner of this year's FantAsia top prize for international film, and it wasn't meant for the faint-of-heart. Since there's still no Region 1 DVD to be had, this was brought to us through the miracle of internet piracy.
Allow me, for a moment here, to make no apology whatsoever for partaking in this kind of blatant film theft. I would be delighted to buy a legitimate copy of any and all films I want to screen at movie night. Have a look at my collection and you'll notice it doesn't take much to get me to plunk down the cash for a disc. But if the slack-jawed yokel distributors can't get an interesting film into my hands in a reasonable amount of time (as in the same year of release, not three years later like Hero) then I'm going to find another way to get it. And if that means surfing a bittorrent site or greasing the palm of some eBay bootlegger, so be it. I could be hit by a bus tomorrow, but at least I'll die having seen the movies I wanted to see. And on a side note, I'd like to add that someone better release Cypher in Region 1 soon, or we'll be watching a rip of that too. I'll still buy the legit copy when it comes out like a good little movie buff, but I would prefer to show a proper DVD come the inevitable Vincenzo Natali fest. And so, I'm sure, would the folks who own the rights. Rant ends here.
I skipped the usual introduction I give for our feature presentations because I couldn't talk about Haute Tension without blowing the whole film. Besides, what was I to say?
"Ultimately, this film is an abject failure, but it's an interesting failure and therefore I think you should see it."
Not terribly encouraging, particularly to a crowd who has illustrated to me in no uncertain terms that they have zero academic interest in film. Still, I think Haute Tension works wonderfully for a whole hour. Then it starts to fall to pieces, and finally, desperately, makes a wholly unnecessary turn into twist-ending land. Ironic how the surprise twist has become such a cliché in film lately, it's now utterly predictable. Too bad, because while this horror flick was simply about a girl being terrorized by a relentless serial killer who doesn't actually know she exists, it's quite a pleasant variation of the familiar stalking-slasher genre.
Ultimately, however, the fact that the movie doesn't hold water all the way to the end mattered little to our squeamish crowd. Many of them were driven away from Movie Night en masse following the very first killing. Haute Tension isn't misnamed. It's quite a tense film experience, to be sure. But apparently the release of that tension -- in the form of decapitation by credenza -- proved too much, and the body count in the room decreased faster than the film's body count could rise.
"See you in November," was the parting sentiment expressed by many as they reached the door. November, I assured them, would be strictly G-rated.
Up until now, the very moment of this posting, Movie Night was discussed online solely at Eric's own private domain (a site protected by more security features than most internet banking transactions). I decided to move the discussion here, to my own site, for several reasons.
One: There are other people out there, friends and strangers alike, who might like to read about our ongoing film series (even if they can't attend) and maybe weigh in with an opinion.
Two: Actual discussion, meaningful or inane, has ground to a halt over at Eric's forum.
Three: Ditto for my own forum. At least now I'll have something regular to post on the board to give it purpose and some much-needed traffic.
Go here to read the first post, which will give you a quick checklist of what we've sat down for so far. Jump in if you like. You don't even have to register to post, so you'll be free to mock us in complete untraceable anonymity. And isn't that what internet forums are all about?
"No, Shane! Not another horror movie!"