January 20, 2009 15:14Legacy
Even as the whole world celebrates the inauguration of Barack Obama, my thoughts can't help but drift to the ever-tenuous reputation of George Bush. As he slithers out the back door of the White House, leaving behind two wars, a ruined economy, destroyed foreign relations, and a viscous trail of slime, I can't help but feel a little bad. As historians debate what his final legacy may be, hyperbolic insults continue to be uttered and may grow deafening again as the title "Worst President in History" solidifies. Much as he may have all this and more coming, can we, at the very least, finally put the Hitler comparisons to rest? I mean, really, it's rude, it's insulting and it's demeaning.
Old Adolf is already history's greatest boogieman. Do we really have to subject him to the final insult of comparing him to George W. Bush? Give the poor genocidal maniac a break. Sure, they're both war criminals responsible for brutality and torture on a massive scale. But Adolf Hitler was a competent war criminal. Bush, on the other hand, has gone about his crimes against humanity in bumbling-boob fashion. Mean-spirited comparisons between him and the legendary Nazi dictator do serious damage to the memory of Hitler, and tarnish his otherwise impeccable reputation as the most despised monster of the last thousand years.
Now, I know, Hitler made his fair share of boneheaded mistakes. In retrospect, declaring war on America following the bombing of Pearl Harbor wasn't the smartest move. Nor was ignoring Napoleonic history and pressing his invasion of Russia well into the winter months. And really, what was up with that moustache? Bad bad choices all. But he never stooped to the astonishing level of slack-jawed idiocy of Bush. Hitler's speeches may have been loud, frantic, even hysterical. But the words all made sense. Not necessarily in their philosophical content, but at least in the logical progression of one word following the next and forming correct sentence structure. Hitler's policies may have been insanely xenophobic and dire in their consequences, but they didn't work completely counter to his own stated objectives. It took invading armies to bring his country to ruin, not greed-fuelled economic models. And Hitler, to the very best of my knowledge, never nearly choked himself to death on a pretzel. Nor on any other Bavarian snack food for that matter.
So please, for the sake of correct historical context, try to refrain from the cheap and easy sport of comparing George Bush to Adolf Hitler. He's more of a retarded, lobotomized genetic hybrid of Rudolph Hess and the monkey from Outbreak.
January 15, 2009 20:52Free At Last
More death talk at Eyestrain Productions? Well, what do you expect from the writer of Ashes to Ashes?
This is a big one for me though, because Patrick McGoohan was somewhat of a personal hero of mine. My admiration began in high school, when PBS started running ads about some old British spy show from the '60s they were bringing back. It was called The Prisoner and it looked seriously demented. And I couldn't wait. When it finally aired, I watched it religiously week after week, and then would spend most of history class the next day discussing what it all meant with my friend Ron. He was the only other person I knew who was into the show and wanted to know the answers to all those mystifying questions concerning why Number Six resigned, and who Number One might be. If you've ever seen the show, you can image how bamboozled we were after the last episode, probably the most ambiguous hour in television history.
"I got away with murder on that one," McGoohan told me years later.
A little over a decade ago, I had a couple of phone conversations with Patrick in regards to a bit of film biz work. And yes, I can call him "Patrick" because we were on a first name basis. He told me so the second time we spoke. I remember the conversation vividly because I was talking to my hero -- the star, co-creator, and frequent writer/director of The Prisoner -- and also because I was secretly recording it. Shh! Don't tell anyone.
"Hello, Mr. McGoohan, it's Shane Simmons calling," I said.
"The name's Patrick," he insisted in that voice that could intimidate paint off a wall. "The only one who calls me Mr. McGoohan is my wife."
After talking shop, his screenplay for a proposed Prisoner feature film came up. Although the possibility of a big-screen remake of The Prisoner continues to be bandied about to this day, back then the project was meant to be a direct continuation of the cult classic series. It was to be a final story to wrap it all up, answering many questions and posing many more. And Patrick knew I'd read the draft in progress.
"What did you think? Critique me!" he demanded.
I think I crapped my pants a little bit. Why the hell was Patrick McGoohan asking me what I thought about the conclusion of his magnum opus? Whatever I stammered was probably completely lame, but it was nice of him to ask. Terrifying but nice. Then we moved on to more comfortable subjects that involved him badgering me about when I was going to get married.
I heard about his health issues for awhile after that. I never expected him to last another ten years, but he was a tough old Irishman. I still fondly remember my conversations with him as my favourite celebrity encounter. To this day, Patrick McGoohan remains my hero, The Prisoner remains my favourite TV show of all time, and the Hollywood remake remains unproduced. And may it always remain so.
As for that ITV remake for British television that just wrapped, well... I guess we'll just have to see.
Speaking of remakes, this is the best one I've seen in years. Whoever this girl is, she plots better than Lucas.
January 09, 2009 22:33Five Pounds
I went to see the latest Will Smith Oscar-bait opus, Seven Pounds, on cheapo Tuesday. I only saw five pounds worth.
To go with cheapo Tuesday, my friends and I also went out to the nearby cheapo buffet. I'd been there four or five times before because there aren't too many places on the east coast where you can get all-you-can-eat sashimi. Sure, I'd been warned off eating dodgy raw fish before, and a buffet isn't the most likely place to find top-of-the-line salmon, but if it's raw fish and it doesn't already have flies on it, it's probably going to make my mouth water.
Flash forward half an hour and we're in the theatre. The tone of the film is morose, because morose is how you win Oscars. And I start wondering idly to myself, "Why do I feel like I'm dying?" I mean, the movie isn't all that depressing. I've seen harsher stuff. I've seen harsher stuff this week. Eventually, I realize it isn't the mood of the movie, it's the mood of the sashimi. The salmon wants to return to the sea. Now.
While I was in the bathroom, having an experience not entirely unlike what John Hurt had in Alien, I got to wondering what key plot points I was missing in the theatre. It was easy enough to piece it together after I returned and assured my friends that I was just fine, thank you. Still, I never consider I've seen a movie until I've seen the whole thing.
Luckily, we live in an age of rampant piracy. Another friend had told me a few days earlier that he had already seen every single film conceivably up for an Oscar this year thanks to the miracle of bittorrent and Academy screeners. Screeners get sent to Academy members around this time of year, and it was only last week I had to physically restrain myself from snatching one member's DVD copy of Gran Torino I saw just lying around unopened on a coffee table, its "Call If Broken" security tape still intact. Despite draconian security measures like…well…a bit of sticky tape, Academy screeners always get leaked to the online pirate sites, giving the whole word access to pristine widescreen copies of movies currently in cinemas, marred only by an occasional "For Your Consideration" blurb at the bottom of the screen.
By the time I got up the next morning with a newly settled stomach, I had a fresh copy of Seven Pounds waiting for me on my hard drive. It was quick, it was easy, and it was even cheaper than a five-dollar ticket price and sixteen bucks' worth of bad fish. One day, somebody smart in Hollywood is going to figure out the correct business model for video on demand and then we can all stay home and order in films and food poisoning whenever we want.
Surfing the web, I stumbled upon this way-cool trailer for Kid vs Kat. There are plenty of shots from my episodes in the mix. I remain eager to see the completed cartoons. Somehow I think it's unlikely the actual show will feature the great but overused trailer music that accompanies Coop and Kat's warfare here, but it sets a nice mood for two minutes and thirty-five seconds.