Wednesday, April 30, 2003

I've figured out why the degree of assholishness of managers seems to get proportionately larger as you move up the pyramid of command...Of course the asshole gets bigger and bigger as more and more people shove their heads up into it. It only makes sense. I can only reason that if you find a truly giant asshole very low in the chain of command that the person (people) with their heads up that ones ass must have gigantic heads.

Just thought I would share.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Brief movie review Neverwhere

Written by Sandman scribe Neil Gaiman, this six part mini-series produced by BBC 2 and broadcast by the same network is a pretty good fantasy story, set in the mythical London Below, but it also has some problems. Most notably the series looks like a 70s Dr. Who episode, with poor video quality and baaaad special effects. The lack of budget shows through, but quality acting from most of the leads and a well written script does alot to save it. Maybe it was because I was watching Kung-Fu movies on the same day as this, but the two fight scenes in this film were terribly done. I don’t want to be able to see the actors trying not to hurt one another.

My favorite background subtlety in this whole mini-series was the fact that in the beginning episode when Richard is talking to his girlfriend on the phone you see a picture of her on his desk. The funny thing is, she has the same picture of herself on her desk. I like little things like that.

Brief movie review Hero

More excellent wire-fu. This is a very, very pretty movie. It uses color in ways much like they did in The Cell only with an interesting story. Color is very important to this film. The film is told in a series of flashbacks mostly, and each time there is a different color theme used in the costumes and settings. The use of reds and oranges in a fight scene set in swirling autumn leaves is especially gripping. When one of the fighters is defeated the leaves go from bright orange to a deep red.

Really imaginative filmmaking here. I’d really recommend it to anyone who enjoyed Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, it has much of the same epic, romantic scope, but adds quite a compelling visual punch as well. I’ll be interested to see if this one gets as heavily touted if it gets a US release.

The film stars Jet Li and Zi Yi Zhang (who debuted in CTHD), also Dao Ming Chen as the conqueror Qin, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Maggie Cheung and Donnie Yen.

I would recommend this one if you see it in a bootleg or import DVD.
I really need to post my posts after I write them, but this is from two days ago.
brief movie review Iron Monkey

I picked up the original Chinese version of the DVD of this film used at Hastings today, and I have to say that I enjoyed it more than the version I saw in the theatre when it debuted in the U.S. The story has more depth here in the uncut version htan I recall in the version I saw before. I also prefer the original score to the one that was added later.

For those that don't know it's the story of the Iron Monkey, a Robin Hood like character who attempts to stop the transgressions of corrupt government officials using crazy wire-fu. It also tells the story of a young Wong Fei-Hung who is the character that Jet Li portrays in the Once Apon a Time in China series and, interestingly enough, Jackie Chan in the Drunken Master series.

Crisp wire-fu action from the master choreographer and director Yuen Woo Ping of Matrix fame. It also manages to be funny as well as action packed.

I seem to be on a Wesley Willis kick as I picked up the Wesley Willis Fiasco Live EP at the same time as the movie. I just happened to find it in the used section behind a Frank Zappa album I was looking at, a synchronicity if I do say so myself. The album definitely does whip a wild horse's ass.

I know you're all wondering what I'm reading right now, well I've still not picked Left Behind back up yet, but I'm about half way through Douglas Rushkoff's Coercion, which is about coercive techniques used by everyone from advertisers to religious groups to our own families. Quite informative stuff.

I'm also reading Dr. Leary's Tune In, Turn On and Drop Out. I like Leary's books, even though I'm not an LSD tripper.

I'm listening to Frank Zappa's Zoot Allures, the Flaming Lips Yoshimi Battles the Robots and Blue Man Group's The Complex.

That is all for now.

Scream Dracula, Scream!

Sunday, April 27, 2003

Hey, want to learn how to interrogate prisoners just like the CIA in the 1960s? Here's the Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation Handbook from 1963. The HTML formatting is a little ugly with the notebook background, but It's interesting nonetheless. It was brought up in the Coercion book that I am reading, though the address he gave in the book wouldn't work for me. I did find it elsewhere though. Enjoy, and remember to only use these techniques for the good of God and Country.

Saturday, April 26, 2003

This is something I'm working on. I told Gunny about it last night, and Tommy should know who it's based on. Could turn into something longer. Hopefully. But this is a rough draft of a character sketch from it:

You probably haven't seen me, but I'm there.


Sometimes I'm standing in the shadows, sometimes I'm out in the open, but I'm always there at my post. I'm there just like the postman through rain, snow, sleet and hail, even the summer sun and just plain damn cold.

In case I'm needed.

I watch and I wait, until then. Vigilance is key, and I am vigilant.

Batman has Gotham City, and I have this little area of mine, between the BP and the Quicksack. I keep it clean, I keep it safe. I am like Batman, only without the Utility Belt and Cape, all I have is my coat, hat and sunglasses.

Also my cigarettes, don't know what I'd do without them. There was this one fella, a little guy with long hair, looked a bit like the Nuge, he once told me that I wouldn't be able to exert myself for long periods of time if I kept smoking, but I don't need long periods of exertion, only short surgical strikes with my fists and feet.

I have my Kung Fu to protect me. You have my Kung-Fu to protect you.

I'm here, so you don't have to be. Don't worry about your homes, your businesses, they are safe under my watch (except when I am asleep in the lot behind the Quick Sack, but I am watching astrally even then, ready to awake at the slightest provocation).

Some would ask why I stand here in my coat, why I watch and wait. There is no need to answer that question, for I have already told you.

Quite frequently I see someone who will shortly be up to no good if I do not intervene. I look into their mind, behind their eyes, and it tells me. I read their thoughts. For most, knowing that I know what they will do, and seeing me there watching, knowing of my presence, is enough to dissuade them, but for some I must unleash my Kung Fu.

Before, when I still had my Camaro, I was able to shelter myself in anonymity in the parking lot of the BP where the owners and workers were sympathetic to my plight, but after the Agency sent men to take my vehicle, I was forced to take to the streets.

It suits me fine though, I do not mind sleeping in the field, or standing watch in the rain and snow.

I survive on the kindess of others like the warrior monks who I took inspiration from, Kaine and Bruce Lee. They are my guiding voices, who give me strength when I feel that all is folly and that my task is futile.

The woman at the Quick Sack gives me smokes when the boss isn't looking, and the cook at the cafe lets me eat from the scraps, and occasionally cooks something just for me. I bathe in the restroom of the Quick Sack.

Some ask if I am tired of my duties, but I am proud of the job I do and would have no other.

After all, who else but me will protect you when you are between the Quicksack and the BP? Who else will stop you before you do something you will regret?


My sister now has a blog. Madness seems to run in the family. Or at least both of us.

Friday, April 25, 2003

I found this while examining a dusty tome of ancient lore which had been left underneath a pile of refuse outside of a gas station down the street. I immediately recognized the writing on the document as a form of Sumerian script that I happened to have taken two semesters of in college.

After painstakingly spending twenty arduous minutes deciphering the text I discovered it to be some form of religious text. It is quite obviously blasphemous and comes from a deranged mind, so I advise no one to read it. I present it here merely in the interests of science.

I have been able to ascertain that the document was written sometime before March of this year, but thus far carbon tests have been inconclusive.

Hopefully (or not) further chapters of the text will come to my attention. If so, I will be sure to bring them immediately to your attention, as I look upon you, the internet, as my family, and therefore people who must listen to me, no matter what.

The Book of Inconcongruous Secretion

Being a semi-oracular ejaculation of his Bucolic Majesty Frater Pragnosticus, the lesser, of the Order of the Middle Pillar of Ten, Palaver

Chapter 1

1. And it came to pass on the fifth day of Hank in the year of Pavement, that they came to dwell and sup in the valley of the Golden Pleece, in the land of Shim Sham Shabbaz.

2. Five of them there were amongst them Frater Pragnosticus, the lesser, and his brethren Ordinance the lame and three others of no renown.

3. From the bowl of cromulence took each he a biscuit of countenance and taking thus they broke and ate.

4. And the lesser spake:

5. "This shit be stale."

6. And yea they did nod in agreement. Then there was the sleeping time.

7. And lo in the night there came to them the angel Vaclav and he spake unto them thusly:

8. "Arise Ye and view my visage for it is lovely and of no compare with such monkeys as thou."

9. They looked then and there eyes were burned as with white hot iron pokers.

10."Ouch," said they and many unpleasantries were expunged.

11."Heh," said Vaclav.

23."Could monkey's assault the with therest feces so?" Intoned Insolent Pragnosticus, throwing his foul excrement at the virtuous beauty of Vaclav.

12."Fie, Fie, assuage me not with your usury!" Saideth Vaclav. "Thou art truly more foul than monkeys! I shall henceforth call the mankeys."

13."What beest that behind thine back?" Ordinance offered.

14."Ah, I hadst almost forgotten," Vaclav vacillitated. That ist why I are here."

15."On this day I doeth confer a kind of enlightenment on the, but only so much, and I don't think you get eternal life, because of the whole shit slinging thing (that was just rude). So consider yourselves enlightened. Go forth ye and gather a flock, then tell them of the mysteries of the Multiverse.

16. Then the angel didst depart, taking with him whatever it waseth behind his back.

17. "Dirty Twat," said Ordinance, "could've at least cured my lameness, or this sodding blindness he damn well caused."

17. "Well thou shouldest not have stared thusly. Bright like the sun, he was," Pragnosticus said.

18. "What good is a flock then?" One of the others asked.

19. And then, Pragnosticus proclaimed, "Did thoust not gaineth the enlightenment, or was thou too blinded by the light. For I say to you the flock is to bringeth to us large sums of money that they shall layeth at our feet, and also for the sexual relations."

20. "I didn't get that at all," Ordinance said.

21. "It surpriseth me not that thoust didst not taketh of the advice of yon Angel," Pragnosticus proclaimed. "For I didst not understand him either, but take heed ye that I thinketh this is what he menteth by hiding something behind his back."

22. "I liketh what you say," said one of the others. "I wouldst like to subscribeth to your newsletter."

23. "All in due time," saideth Pragnosticus. "For now let us depart and findeth some wenches."

That was all that there was to the document. Written on the back of a Denny's napkin made it deceptively hard to decipher, but I think that this is the closest we shall come to understanding the

Thursday, April 24, 2003

Roddy Piper was on WWE’s Smackdown tonight. It originated from Nashville and was taped on Tuesday. This marks the second time that Piper has been in Nashville that Tommy did not get to see him, but that would be assholish for me to say that.

I don’t know if He’d really have wanted to see Piper tonight though. He was wrestling Rikishi, and I didn’t really expect the match to go to a pinfall, but I think Piper would have been much more convincing had he kept the kilt and t-shirt on as he wrestled. He’s more out of shape than Ric Flair. It’s not like he was ever the biggest of the wrestlers, but a pot-bellied, pasty skinned fighting a Samoan is not something that I want to watch on my wrestling programs. In his recent autobiography Piper made disparaging comments about Rikishi, to the effect that watching a 300 lb man rub his buttocks on another man’s face was not his idea of wrestling, but who is his first feud with when returning to the WWE? He almost took the aforementioned stink-face. I know they’re playing off Piper’s history with Snuka here, but...

Another thing that strikes me about this episode of Smackdown is the return and slutification of Rena Mero, aka Sable. She left the then WWF under a cloud of accusations of sexual harassment from management and their trying to force sexual angles on her, one of which was a lesbian angle, all of which she sued over. Now what is she doing in the WWE? taking part in a lesbian angle and showing even more skin. Not exactly a model of integrity there.
With the TNA Blog I now have over 52,000 words posted. Just thought I'd go and one up Tommy again.
Brief movie review Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy

I seem to be on a pornstar documentary kick right now, what with my recent viewing of Sex: the Annabelle Chong Story, and I think this was the better of the two films. Jeremy has definite charisma, even if he is a terrible standup comic. This is a rosey portrait of the hedgehog, but you do see the loneliness that he feels in his life. Yet another fine film from Docurama.

Brief movie review Wesley Willis: Daddy of Rock and Roll

Those who don't know him might not want to. He's schizophrenic, over 300 lbs and he is a legitimate Rock Superstar. Go to and look for him. Yet another documentary film which follows him in his life and highlights the man.

Brief movie review The Seven Samurai

I'm watching this one right now, but I'm not really watching it because I'm writing this. It's a three hour long black and white Samurai epic that The Wild Bunch was based on. It's good and all, but I'm not really that interested. I guess I prefer crazy kung-fu action. I've still got Hero that I bought at the con to watch, so I might do that. I think I'll turn off the subtitles now and just watch the movie without understanding what they are saying. I might let you know how it goes.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

As of today there are slightly over 33,000 words here on this site. I figure at least 32,000 of them are my own. I'm about 3/4 of the way to a short book.

Friday, April 18, 2003

AOL is being the devil tonight and randomly kicking me off. Have I mentioned how much I despise my online provider?

It’s funny that the thing that causes the most comments isn’t something I’ve written, but rather a picture of me as a kid. And, sorry Katy I don’t know where the shirt is now. Besides the fact that it was probably a child’s small or medium, it would be over twenty years old at this point.

Thursday, April 17, 2003

I started Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins about a week ago, and I really wanted to read the book because of the multitudes of people that have read it and are influenced by it. I think that it is a very powerful cultural virus in the words of Richard Brodie from his book Virus of the Mind. I figured I should read something that has this much power in the world today. One of the books in this series was the best selling novel in the world last year.

Here are my problems with the book after plunging some ninety pages into it’s fourth grade level writing splendor. Besides the simplistic writing involved the fact that the word fastidious, a word that I have never heard used in spoken conversation and only infrequently seen in print was used twice in the pages I read. In the world that this book inhabits apparently everyone is trying to preach at you and bring you to Jesus and it is possible to strip some wires in your laptop computer and hook it up to wires in a phone and get that sucker to work. Also the book has a distinct lack of understanding of world politics. In this world for some reason Russia feels the need to attack Israel, and luckily God is there to thwart Russia where he has never really been in the last sixty years to protect them from Palestinian terrorists or any of it’s neighboring countries.

Those things don’t bother me so much, I’ve read books that were worse written. I read a book called Mutants Attack (I think that was the name) that was quite possibly the most poorly written action novel ever written, and I have a real soft spot in me for a series of science fiction books called Horn about a cybernetic cop. What really bothers me in this book is the anti-Semitism. The line that caused me to throw the book across the room in disgust was
“He’s already got me, Lucinda. But Jesus is another thing. The Israelis hate Jesus, but look what God did for them.”

You know, I wasn’t under the impression that the Israelis hate Jesus. I know that Jews don’t accept his divinity or status as the Messiah, but that doesn’t mean that they hate him. I don’t accept claims made about Mohammad or various other religious personalities, but I don’t hate them. I think it is the height of pretentiousness to state that any group hates another. Muslims don’t hate us. Palestinians don’t hate us. The French don’t hate us.

The worst part about this quote is that it is supposed to come from the mouth of an award winning journalist who knows his stuff and has traveled around the middle east. I don’t think even G. Gordon Liddy would say that the Israelis hate Jesus, and he is about as conservative as they come.

This is telling people who read this and don’t read it critically that this is how journalists think. It seems that everyone in this book thinks in exactly the same way, and none of them are too convincing as characters. To me most of the people who were described as being taken sounded like right pricks anyway. I think that authors have a real hard time thinking in the mode of the non-religious person. They go out of their way to make them seem unhealthy and unhappy, when I don’t think that is necessarily the case. People who are religious are unhappy just as much as we heathens, it’s just that they put it off on someone or something else, while we evil, evil ones try to work out our problems for ourselves, and alot of us are just find at doing that.

I’m starting to ramble so I think I’ll wrap this up for now.

It was a rainy sumbitch for about 5 minutes just then.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Gunny, you will go here and you will download and listen to Monkey vs. Robot. The rest of you can as well, but this is specifically for Gunny.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

The thing I like about the BBC documentary on Hunter Thompson that is on the new Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Criterion Collection disc is the proper sounding voiceover actor that reads all of Thompson's writing. It sounds like a Shakespearian actor that is to read from Henry Rollins lyrics. TThis is why books written in an author's voice should be read by the author.

It's also quite frightening how close that Johnny Depp gets to Hunter's actual diction and mannerisms in the film itself.

Go read Warren Ellis's Brainpowered column at ArtBomb.Net.

Also Warren says you should go and download Corey Doctrow's book Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. Hey, it's free, why not.

Cube 2: Hypercube mini movie review

Somewhat building on the premise of the original this film takes a crew of strangers with unrevealed connections and puts them mostly unwillingly inside a hyperdimensional tesseract. The story unfolds as they are bumped off in a variety of ways and discover the reality of what is going on and who is manipulating them.

About as good as the original if you liked that one, but with less varied death scenes (at least from a gore standpoint). Worth a look if you like the grisly sci-fi story.
The Internet Movie Database says that Gary Oldman is playing Sirius Black in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I am overjoyed that my favorite character from the books is to be played by one of my favorite actors.
The Transporter mini movie review

I really like the fact that in Luc Besson films cars almost always explode immediately on impact with anything and that his heroes and villains can do the crazy shit that they do. These are Hong Kong Kung Fu films with a western flair, where everyone magically knows how to fight with anything at hand and any manner of crazy physical action is possible.

In this film Jason Statham is the titular Transporter who breaks his own rules by looking at the package, which happens to be an attractive young lady. General action movie nonsense plot follows made believable by Besson’s true to it’s world writing. To be honest I wasn’t really listening to most of the dialogue about what was happening in this movie, I was just delighting in how impossibly cool Statham’s character is. He is reminiscent of Bruce Willis in the Die Hard series cool, unflappably cool, but cracking wise the entire time.

The fight scenes are inventive, such as the one on an oil-slicked floor, or the one in the narrow confines of a stockyard of cargo containers. Statham is believable, even if some of the villains aren’t.

“He was a bastard, but he was still my father.” It’s dialogue like that that makes movies like this one great.
Hackie sack players on the lawn of my apartments when I came in just now. I thought we'd driven them back inside the confines of Seatle where they belong.

I'm trying to read Left Behind but it's some slow going. This is a really badly written book, and it is very hard to muddle through since the last novel I read, Pattern Recognition by William Gibson, was a very good one. It amazes me that something so badly and blandly written could top bestseller lists. Actually, no it doesn't, since most people don't seem to actually read any books once they get out of high school.

I'm sixty pages in, and they're 400 more to go. There is a main character named Rayford Steele for God's sake. I also don't much care for the thinly veiled anti-Semitism and the feeling of fear and paranoia this book tries to instill.

Maybe I'm just reading it wrong.

I like the sticker I saw in Video Culture that said I'm doing my part to piss off the Religious Right.
Sex: the Annabelle Chong Story mini review

The story of the original world‘s biggest gang-bang and its star. In real life she is Gace Quek who was a USC student at the time of the gang-bang, and is from London. The film contrasts her strict upbringing by Singaporian parents and her career in the porn industry. The crew follows her before and during the taping of the gang-bang and afterwards, showing the animosity of others in the porn industry and the craziness and sleaziness of her pornographer boss. It also talks about her drug addiction and a rape experience in London’s underground. It also plays off her academic/intellectual side and her porn side. From watching the film one is lead to conclude that she is a pretty messed up person.

Devil’s Playground mini review

Of the three documentaries that I watched yesterday, this was by far the best one. It explores the Amish custom of Rumspringa “running around,” which is the period after when an Amish child turns sixteen until they decide to join the church or become “English,” and remain on the outside world.

According to the film, the main belief that caused the Amish to be persecuted and move to America in the late 17th, early 18th century was the idea that baptism of children is wrong, and that only an adult can decide to join the church. The rumspringa is a period when the Amish children are allowed to explore the outside, or English world, and decide if they want to join the church or not. The film follows a few different teenagers through their running around period and shows how most of them come to accept the way of life that they have been conditioned since birth to accept. The film says 90% of the children born in the church will go on to join, and it is easy to see why. Since most of them live at home with their parents during this period the pressure to give up the devil’s world and join the church is intense.

The thing that I think is the most disheartening about the whole thing is that the only things that the children relate that they will miss are things like television and cars (the boys usually have a vehicle during this period, but the girls do not, likewise the boys will often dress English, while the girls will not), none of them seem to know anything about ideas or experiences they might have outside the Amish community, which is not surprising since they are expected to leave school after eight grade since education leads to vanity.

It is a very devious thing of the church indeed to not outwardly support the boozing and partying that the children undergo, but knowing that most of them will come to a realization that they cannot live this sinful life if they want to get into heaven.

This film shows the pressures involved in a heavily religious community and shows me at least why I want no part of such a community.

Half Past Dead mini review
starring Steven Segal, and Ja Rule

There are bad films and really bad films, and then there are the so horrible you almost have to feel sorry for the actors involved. Guess which one this is.

The premise, Segal is an undercover FBI agent trying to get close to Ja Rule’s boss whose underling car-jacked Segal’s car and shot him and his wife. Segal went “Half Past Dead,” but returned from the grave after 22 minutes, but his wife died. Later he goes into deep cover in a renovated, supposedly high tech Alcatraz (Though the only evidence of that high-tech is some monitors and handprint/voice identification terminals, and the Slaughterhouse 5, an execution chamber). Inside we meet the horribly steriotypical Hispanic warden, who likes to speak in Spanish, as well as other inmates. The rest of the story is that on the eve of his execution a man who knocked over 200 million in gold from a government train still refuses to tell anyone where he stashed the loot. Commando style bandits parachute in and attempt to make him divulge the information by variously threatening innocents there to witness his execution including the Supreme Court Justice who sentenced him. I am unclear why the warden has such a close relationship with the condemned, or what the relationships are between some of the other characters in this film, such as the head commando and the owner of the island or Mayor or whoever the hell the old guy with the mustache is.

Enough of the plot already, I don’t think even the writer/director paid that much attention to it, it was just an excuse for some thrilling prison fighting action, right? Wrong. Even the fights in this film aren’t very good. They tend to be between no-name baddies and Segal, and when Rule gets to fight, he invariably gets thrown into a wall, or gets his ass handed to him.

This is a bad, bad movie. Stay far away from it.

Monday, April 14, 2003

Fans and Freaks: the Culture of Comics and Conventions brief movie review

Nashville filmmakers Stephen and Suzie Lackey spent two years traveling to conventions in the southeast and editing the footage together. Most of the film centers on a Dragon*Con that I attended, but there is also footage from Mempis’s Mephit Furry Con, Music City Con and Atlanta Anime Festival. There a are a few interviews with con guests such as Karen Black and Dick Warlock (Jason from Halloween II for those of you who don’t know). It also contains a bit of performance footage and interviews with various con attendees.

In the trailer they compare the film to Trekkies and Beyond the Mat. I don’t understand the BtM comparison, since BtM is a behind the scenes of the wrestling business. I guess they are the same in that they are both documentaries, much like Citizen Caine and Fight Club are the same in that they are both movies.

This film just seems to lack overall clarity and direction that documentaries need. I just felt like it was a compilation of Dragon*Con footage for the most part. They attempted to draw it together with interview footage from the owner of Nashville’s Outer Limits comic book store, but that only works to a marginal degree.

The filmmakers have plans to make a sequel, possibly involving cons in the north, but I would hope that they find more focus for their second film.
Masked Wrestler Wins Japan Assembly Seat
Mon Apr 14,12:31 AM ET

TOKYO (Reuters) - Who is that masked man? One of Japan's newest politicians.
A professional wrestler who fought his way to victory in local assembly elections under his ring name and wearing his trademark mask has vowed the mask will not leave his face even after he enters the staid halls of Japanese politics.

"This is my face," the wrestler -- known as "The Great Sasuke" -- was quoted by the Nikkan Sports newspaper as saying of his black and white full-face mask with bright scarlet streaks and golden wings by the eye holes.

"I won support from voters with this face, and to take it off would be breaking promises," the 33-year-old wrestler, whose real name is Masanori Murakawa, said of his victory in conservative Iwate prefecture, some 460 km (290 miles) north of Tokyo.

Catching opponents on the back foot to take one of 10 assembly seats, the wrestler said he now hopes to demonstrate his "superabundant power" outside of the ring as well as in it.

We need a politician with superabundant power here in the united states. I think the thing they would be most worried about is that he would send in a double under the mask, or that someone would go in without his knowledge and stir some stuff up. Imagine if, for instance, Jesse Ventura had been a masked wrestler and had been elected in Minnesota and refused to remove the mask. Then at some point one of his enemies, say Hulk Hogan, knocked him out and took his place under the hood. Then all types of mischief could ensue, maybe he'd push for government mandated Hulkamania.
Went to the Atlanta Comic Con this weekend, and of course I spent entirely too much money. I bought quite a few Trade Paperbacks, a couple of CD’s (Monkey v. Robot by James Kochalka Superstar and Alan Moore’s Snakes and Ladders). I also picked up a few bootleg movies while I was there. Going in one of the things I was looking for was a copy of Versus on DVD, and I was dismayed to see that there were only two bootleg movie dealers there at the con. Neither had the film on the first day, but I did find it before I left on the Sunday.

I suppose it’s a good thing that the bootleggers are being driven out of the con, but by goodness all I wanted were some copies of foreign films that aren’t going to be available here soon if ever. I also bought three busts (Ekimus and Scarlet X from Crimson and the 70s version of Captain Marvel) on which I spent a grand total of $30. I also picked up Fans and Freaks an independent film about conventions made by a husband and wife pair from Nashville. I bought it mostly because it has footage from a Dragon*Con that I attended a few years ago where members of GWAR wrestled, along with former WCW “star” Glacier and Jerry Only of the Misfits.

The con was pretty sparsely attended, and the layout this year was quite a bit different than the previous two years, with creators spaced around the room and in the middle and venders throughout. I took my digital camera with me, but I wasn’t moved to take any pictures worth mentioning. This con had a distinct lack of memorable freaks. That is one thing that pop-culture cons like Dragon*Con have over straight comic conventions. After Jim Mafood cancelled his appearance I lost alot of my enthusiasm, and I only got a few new sketches (Bart Sears, Tim Flanagan and Phil Hester did Dr. Strange, Terry Moore did a Kixie the Pixie and Jacen Burrows did Detective Cain from Scars). I didn’t even take my sketchbook in on the second day because I just didn’t see anyone else I wanted a sketch by. (or at least any that I could afford to pay for or wanted to wait on).

Tommy and I both overheard dealers talking about the lack of sales this year, which even my great expenditures didn’t help.

I don’t know if I’ll want to go to ACC again next year unless they get some new guests. I was really looking forward to Mafood, and if he came next year, or Guy Davis, I would definitely be there.

Versus brief movie review

Chad suggested versus to me, and I can see why he liked it so much. Plenty of the hyper-violence, from Samurai’s hacking up Zombies in feudal Japan plenty of carnage in the present day.

I didn’t actually catch any character names in the film, but it’s the story of a samurai re-incarnated into an super cool escaped felon who is destined to fight an enemy from his previous life in the “forest of resurrection” which is one of 666 portals to the “other side” and is located in Japan. Much kung-fu and Wu-fu action ensues and you can guess about what happens. Pretty good if you like this sort of thing.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets brief movie review

I didn’t pick this one up at the con (Though for some reason there were bootlegs of it available there. I don’t understand why they would think someone would pay $15 for a less than perfect copy of the film when you can go to Wal*Mart and pay $19 for the real thing with extras.), but right before I left for it, but I watched it Sunday night.

This one is better than the first film, but it still just isn’t quite there for me. I enjoyed it, but little things bug me about it. The dialogue in the film needs to be punched up. The interplay between the actors is well done, but often the dialogue slides into Chris Claremont like exposition. When Harry and the others are confronted with the mysterious message written in blood on the wall instead of having Hermione say “It’s written in blood,” a better line would have been “Is that blood?” Granted this is a bit bitchy on my part, but it was one of the things that stuck with me about the film. I am just glad that they didn’t feel the need to explain the rules of Quidditch to us again.

I agree with Harry at Aint-it-Cool that the final sequence was unnecessary. The entire school applauding for Hagrid seemed a bit forced. Why would all of them be applauding? I get the impression from the books that Hagrid is not the close friend of all of the students, rather most of them don’t really know who he is beyond being the impossibly tall groundskeeper.

But all of these are minor complaints, as on the whole, I enjoyed this film quite a bit. I look forward to seeing someone other than Chris Columbus’s take on the books in the next one though. The next film should take an even darker turn and introduce my personal favorite

Friday, April 11, 2003

First I think Linkin Park could be a good band if they would drop their emphasis on the rap-parts of the songs. No rap parts. The songs are good enough without them. I’m not saying that rap-rock doesn’t ever work, sometimes it does, but they’re just a trainwreck. Two groups in one that should be split. DJ and Rapper you go one way, Singer and musicians you go the other. Everybody happy. No two front men, just one.

Movie Corner

Formula 51
Ghost Ship

First up we have Formula 51 starring Robert Carlyle and Samuel L. Jackson in film that desperately wants to be a cool Tarantino/Guy Ritchie caper film, but falls quite a bit short.

There are the pre-requisite zany bunch of characters that populate this gangland Liverpool. We have a fat black man who speaks with a falsetto and dispenses advice to the manic villain on spiritual energy and Chakra opening. We have the Liverpudlian pretty assassin who moved left her gangland thug (Carlyle) in America and moved on to become an killer for the scarred Mr. Lizard (Meat Loaf Aday). We have the stupid thug who follows instructions implicitly and we have the corrupt cop with a partner who he constantly chides on his weight problem. And at the center of it all we have Elmo McElroy (Jackson), a kilt wearing chemist with a propensity for mixing up equal concoctions of the super drug, POS-51, and some sort of super-laxative.

It is a sad commentary that the films funniest parts come not from the wit of the dialogue, but from the scatological humor provided by the laxative, and the idiocy of the stupid thug. The script really tries to be witty, and sometimes there are glimpses of humor there, such as a garbage scowl captain who haggles with Jackson nonchalantly over the sale price of a Jaguar that he has just driven off a pier and onto the boat, and when the looney villain says he is annoying himself, but these glimmers are few and far between. What we are left with is an attempt to re-create Snatch mixed with some Foxy Brown and with Jackson’s character from Pulp Fiction cooking drugs and wearing a kilt.

The other elements of the film, from acting in the leads and periphery characters, to direction and cinematography are fine, but they cannot save this lunk of a film.

Next, or actually first, I watched Ghost Ship starring Juliana Margulies and Gabriel Byrne as members of a tug-crew who go to salvage the titular Ghost Ship in the Bering Sea.

The average Dark Castle horror film where a team of disparate folks brave a haunted house that they are not prepared for. I really wish that I hadn’t figured out the plot twist as early in the film as I did, but it really didn’t ruin anything for me. Not alot of real scares in the film, but it did create some nice tension and the atmosphere was very good. Much like House on Haunted Hill and Thirteen Ghosts there is a great setting for the film in the creepy ship, but beyond that it is average horror stuff. Byrne looks the part of the haggard sea captain, and Margulies rocks the major Mary Elizabeth Masters-Antonio from Abyss vibe with her character, but maybe that’s just my interpretation. She sure is pretty though. I think Molly Shannon was right in her craptacular commentary on SNL after Margulies left ER that she was a “Crazy pretty lady.” It’s pretty sad that this is the only film that she’s really done since then that I’ve seen released. I’m just really surprised that she didn’t have to go topless in her first outing. (There is some nudity in this one though)

The first scene is pretty frickin gross if I do say so myself and set a good tone for the film. Effects were well done on the whole, though some of the digital effects were a it weak, such as the final sinking of the ship (hope I didn’t spoil anything for anyone there).

In short, lackluster story, creepy visuals, metal music that didn’t need to be present twice in the film and so-so acting put this one in firm its-allright-rent-it-but-don’t-buy-it-unless-you’re-a-git-like-me territory.
I was reading an article on Tariq Aziz, Iraqi foreign minister, and I was struck by the similarity in thoughts that it brought up to ones that I had when I was watching an episode of MTV's Cribs. On the Cribs episode they had Jerry Cantrell's from Alice in Chains home. Cantrell's home wasn't anything spectacular like, say, Master P's, but it seemed quite normal to me. He had a few "rock-star" things, such as gold records and whatnot, but really what the home was was a large suburban home with a bit of land--nothing too flashy. I thought, "hmm, he seems pretty normal."

Aziz sounds that way from the description of his home. As the only Christian in Saddam's ruling party he had a few religious items in the home, but he also had quite a bit of American popular culture items as well. I really think this should fly in the face of the idea that everyone involved in the regime are heartless monsters who know nothing of our way of life and only hate us and want to destroy us. Most of the people in the regime are just people who want to try to make the world not so bad for themselves and their families.

I don't think the Iraqis hate us, but I don't think they love us either. In all actuality, we're just another in a long line of bullies who have conquered their land and are going to set up some type of "government" in a region that consists of various tribes and ethnicities that are constantly fighting for power. The video of jubulant Iraqi citizens feels staged to me, as if they are shouting "Please don't kill us and opress us like everyone else has...We love you." Much like a battered wife, they feel they have nowhere else to go and one abusive husband has replaced the last, but the beatings will continue to be applied.

It also doesn't help that It looked to me like several of the moments relayed on CNN looked staged for the cameras, such as the burning of one image of Saddam, where a man looked like he waited until the camera man was ready before lighting and hurling his molatov cocktail.

We can topple one regime, but the real challenge is keeping another one from doing the same things. One thing a dictator is is stable, and the area in and around Iraq is about to go through some real instability.

One thing I think we should remember is that just because someone is an exile from their country doesn't mean they would make a good political leader if the regime there was toppled. Would anyone want Roman Polanski in government?

Well, less thoughts of geo-political things and now I go and watch Ghost Ship.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Trick or Treat featuring Gene Simmons and Ozzie Osbourne

In the $5.88 DVD bin at Wal-Mart there are wonders. Such cinematic milestones as Ernest Goes to Camp and the Omega Doom/Blind Fury (I heartily recommend this one), but the other night something in there happened to catch my eye. I thought I saw a familiar face as I was walking by. When I looked, it was indeed Gene Simmons on the cover and he was joined by Ozzie Osbourne in front of a burning building with a giant red skull on top of it. I knew this had to be a quality film so, of course, I rushed to buy it.

To get it out of the way early, Gene is a disc jockey and has about three scenes in the movie and Ozzie is a televangelist and has exactly two speaking scenes, very brief.

This is an 80's style teen horror flick with the questionable title of Trick or Treat. I suppose that is since it takes place around and on Halloween. There is a scene where a girl comes to the door and keeps saying "Trick or Treat, smell my feet." (Though she does not continue the rhyme) If studio geniouses can rename PTA's Sydney to Hard Eight from a small bit of dialogue, then I guess there is precedent for this weak sounding name. After all, isn't The Evil Dead a much better title than Necronomicon or Book of the Dead?

The story, such as it is, is that Black Metal Rocker Sammie Curr is told that he cannot play at his former high school's Halloween celebration, so in a rage Curr performs a Satanic ceremony in a hotel, which subsequently burns and kills him, to place his spirit inside a record and then proceeds to wreak havoc on the school when a local metal head is given the album by Gene Simmons and plays it at his home. The album contains backwards masking which tells the metal head to kill his oppressors in the school, preppies of course. All this leads to the finale at the Halloween dance where the true genious of Curr's plan is revealed as he kills a variety of faculty and students in a Carrie style bloodbath and finally gets to perform for the students.

There are the required two brief breast shots which were a staple of all 80s horror films, but the one thing that this film teaches us is that the way to kill undead demon rockers is to lure them into sticking their hands into a toilet and flushing it until they are electorcuted.

I think this movie is supposed to be a comedy, I'm not sure.

How is it that the one guy slips on water and flies down a flight of stairs when there are no stairs around, and in fact, there is only a door outside near him at the time? Further review of the tape may be necessary.

I take offense at the metal head wearing an Alternative Tentacles logo t-shirt at one point in the film. AT produces punk albums, not metal. Punkers and metalheads do not mix.

Things we learn other than the toilet bit from the film:

  • Rock stars truly are Satanic devil worshippers, or at least this one was.
  • Toasters and Blenders can channel the evils of rock and roll, just like speakers and radios can, so you had better destroy them as well.
  • Call waiting makes people feel like big shots.
  • When you have feelings of rage that no one else will understand, write to your favorite Metal superstar.
  • Studio master's of records are heavy and can survive hotel fires when people cannot.
  • Gene Simmons cannot stay awake until midnight.

  • And they say movies ain't educational.

    Wednesday, April 09, 2003

    Brief Book Review

    Virus of the Mind by Richard Brodie

    Do you know what a Meme (Meem, like beam) is? Rest assured there are many out there who do, and have implanted them into your mind without your permission, or in many cases even your knowledge.

    In his book Virus of the Mind, Richard Brodie explains what memes are and how to use them. The book also contains what he calls a power virus (actually it contains a number of them, only a few of which he really calls attention to), for readers to go out and spread what they consider positive memes into the world.

    Biologist Richard Dawkins coined the term Meme in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene to describe any idea or thought that acts as a virus and spreads itself. Brodie expands that notion with the idea of Mind Viruses, collections of individual ideas that are packaged together and gain a life of their own once away from the originator. He suggests that over the course of history most of these viruses have evolved on their own, simply by being the best replicaters and pushing the most buttons of people‘s primary drives (The four F’s--Fighting, Fleeing, Feeding and--Finding a mate). Those that survived through natural selection weren’t necessarily the ones that were the best ideas, but rather the ones that were able to make the most copies of themselves.

    Ideas don’t necessarily survive by being good at anything, the survive by being the best at spreading themselves.

    All that we are is built up out of these memes, either consciously or not, and Brodie attempts to explain the origins of this, and how to break free of pre-conditioned programming, or at the very least, to notice the programming that we have and judge its validity.

    There are sections on the origins of religion and the idea of religions being power viruses, but this book is not an indictment of religion. In fact, Brodie says that religion does make many people’s lives better by giving them purpose, he merely wants to point out how religions work using memetics, much like companies and governments do. He presents it from both sides and lets the reader decide which one is better for them. At no point does he say “Your beliefs are wrong, you shouldn’t believe them.” He merely suggests that people examine what they think and believe and decide if it is really doing them good to think and believe that way.

    In many ways this is much like any self help book., those that apply its memes about memetics will get results, but it goes further by suggesting ways to create thought viruses that can infect others and build. This is good practical knowledge that anyone living in an information age should know, to avoid unwillingly being programmed with someone else’s ideas.

    Wake up and think for yourself and decide what you think. You can gain some enlightenment without studying Zen in a cave for twenty years. The sufi’s said that if you could break free from all conditioned for ten entire minutes you are enlightened.

    The primary power virus in Brodie’s book is for readers to spread the word about memetics, so that is what I am doing. Perhaps since I have gone so far as writing this, now others will read the book and spread it further.

    Monday, April 07, 2003

    And now for the dreaded Mixed Bag Column (but then that's every one that I write):

    OK, back to a question about Charmed. So they're Wiccan and support the Catholic Church? I know all paths are sacred, but I don't understand how the Christian ideals fit into their battles, but then neither do the writers really, I don't think.

    And to paraphrase Tommy If you ignore Justin TImberlake, he'll go away. I really believe that.

    Why do I find Missy Elliot videos so enthralling. I don't care for the music, but the videos are very flashy, and I realize that they are made to be attention grabbing, but come on. She has some of the few videos where the dancing doesn't seem so stupid and out of place...most of the time anyway.

    And seriously, how many tributes Aaliyah does the world need? I just hope they don't keep releasing "new" albums from her for the next twenty years. How does 2-Pac put out two albums a year still anyway?

    On a tangental note that has nothing to do with anything, last night I dreamed that I bought a piglet from a pig vending machine. It cost 75 cents and was dispensed live from the machine which was designed much like the Vend-a-Bait machine that dispenses live nightcrawlers, crickets and worms that I saw at a gas station. I then raised the pig and it became my best friend, the end.

    Jason Lee is the funniest man in the world, outside of Dorsey.

    Good to see that Pearl Jam resoponed in much the same way that I did to the article that I mentioned earlier. They had the story up at E! online with their response. E! is finally good for something, Imagine that.

    Friday, April 04, 2003

    Bought some new CD's today Moby's 18 and Slayer's Diabolus in Musica. I believe in keeping it eclectic. Henry Rollins suggested the Slayer album as driving music for maniacs. I tend to agree on that one, it certainly is a crushing album.

    Bob Larson has a thing about Slayer. I the book that I read recently by him he talked of his touring with the band at the behest of a music magazine and how he never saw anyone in the crowd smiling. I have to say that that is wrong, because they bring a maniacal rictus grin to my face when I hear them. It brings me great joy to hear such beatifully angry music.

    I weep at it.

    Just because ignorant metal heads don't know how to laugh at themselves doesn't mean that the rest of us Slayer fans don't.

    And by the way, where is my Ramones tribute album anyway? It's not in the case, and it's not in my CD player, so where is that puppy?
    I'd kindof like to listen to it again. If you have it, let me know, there might be a reward in it for you.

    Also, when did Rolling Stone stop being so much about music as about fashion? It seems it's now written for 12-15 year old girls instead of me. Granted I don't expect every magazine I read to grow with me, but maybe they could at least tailor some of it to an older audience. It's part of the same reason I have decided not to buy Wizard magazine anymore, it's not really for me I don't think. Wizard is more for the collector of comic books, and I am not a collector (though the 25 long boxes would tend to argue against that point), I am a reader. When a magazine pushes somehting like CGE slabbing of books, I just don't think it's for me. The turning point was reading a comment that "Trade-Paperback mania" had finally gone to far when a mini-series has just been completed and a trade is put out the week or month after. They say it kills the secondary market for back what. The audiences who buy the trades, especially in bookstores aren't going to buy the single issues anyway. I thought the whole point of not printing more than to order was to drive up the back issue prices, who cares then if the trades come out right away? There are still a finite number of backissues for people to buy and have graded.
    More from the world of music. My favorite rapper who will disappear into obscurity in a couple of years, 50 cent, has a new performance video on MTV of his "hit" In Da Club from the MTV Spring Break.

    Never, since the death of American Bandstand, have I seen such a poor lip-sync performance. He was like a Puttin on the Hits competitor that wasn't given any time to prepare, or that show on MTV where people did Karioke.

    One thing that I find interesting is the hard work that his backup rappers did to keep the song going, I think that they were actually rapping, but most of his rap sounded like a recording, since it would go without his mouth being near the mike, or even moving for that matter. Also his voice and cadence were quite a bit different when he actually did rap "live" than the recording.

    If all you do is rap, how many backup rappers do you need? It's a bit like the Spice Girls needing backup singers.

    Of course all the people in the audience went crazy like the good little Pavlovian dogs that they are, singing parts of the song to the recording when prompted. They have obviously been raised on a diet of acts that come out and dance and lip sync to recordings (Backstreet and N*Sync anyone?).

    Which brings me to my next topic, Sysco, or is it Sisco? It doesn't really matter since he has faded into obscurity now. I'm sure that he's hard at work crafting his next hit with superstar producers, but I saw his performance of the Thong Song on a re-run of Saturday night live, and let me tell you it was glorious. That little man can dance like Michael Jackson and sing like you wouldn't believe. He also busted out the human beat box bit. I was, of course, very impressed.

    Do you think he realizes how silly most of his dancing looked? Probably not, it takes alot of self-dulding to be a pop star I think.

    That's one of the reasons I like Henry Rollins. In an era of pop musicians who sing and dance and "keep it real" he manages to fly under the radar as the Rock and Roll Ninja that he is. His fans know he's there, no one else might, but we do.

    Thursday, April 03, 2003

    Concert-goers head to exits after anti-Bush display
    Incensed fans walked out of Pearl Jam's concert Tuesday after lead singer Eddie Vedder impaled a mask of President Bush on a microphone stand, then slammed it to the stage.

    Let me explain the problem I have with this story. The main problem I have is that it doesn't say if the fans were disatisfied after the show, or if they walked out on the show, or even how many of these incensed fans there were. We hear from two people I think. That is not a news story.

    I wasn't there, but I do wonder how many of the fans were really that upset.

    The "head on a stick" mentioned in the story is a mask. I like the quote about Vedder ripping off someone's head in a primal display. So If I wore a mask then took it off and put it on a microphone stand and stomped on it, I'm doing it to the person, right?

    This is a bit like expecting Michael Moore not to say anything if he won at the oscars. This is Eddie Vedder.

    Anyway, that was a poorly written story, and is meaningless to boot. The writer found a couple of people who were angry as they were going out and that was it. The saying representatives of Vedder could not be reached for comment is a cop out.

    ...More later.

    Wednesday, April 02, 2003

    It seems no matter what time of the day it is or where I am, someone is telling me that I look tired. They also tend to use the words terrible, horrible or exhausted.

    I really don't know why this is.

    I think I look pretty cool.

    Really, do I look that bad? Come on, people who know me, what do you think?
    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...