Saturday, May 31, 2008

[[[sacrilege central]]]

* * * SPOILER ALERT * * *
Do NOT read this if you haven't seen

Even if you have, you may not want to read this.

I take no glee in writing this because I am a huge defender of Spielberg... and yet I feel compelled to say this...

I feel like CRYSTAL SKULL could have been directed by Brett Ratner.

Let me say, I enjoyed CRYSTAL SKULL. It opens really strong and is full of lively surprises throughout... but it slowly degrades and then abruptly falls apart...

And yet, I enjoyed it as a whole.

And I think Ratner could have directed it.

The Rat has got an impeccable sense of mimicry. And SKULL feels like an old Indy movie in a way that I think The Rat could accomplish. (This is high praise for The Rat.)

Then it fails in a way that I could see The Rat failing.

(Yes, I realize this is all terribly unfair—to take a Spielberg failing and somehow use it to crucify Ratner, who is wholly innocent here.)

I think the relative artistic failure of SKULL was more apparent to me since I watched the three previous movies during the week leading up to seeing the fourth.

It's partially a script-issue, but the timing of some throwaway jokes are really off. One that stands out is the scene where Indy and Mutt are surrounded by evil Ruskies in the coffee shop. Mutt pulls out his switchblade. Indy says something to the effect of, "Kid, looks like you brought a knife... to a gun fight."

First, the line is so obvious, it's painful. But the pause just absolutely kills it.

[Shot on Mutt holding the switchblade]

"Kid, looks like you brought a knife..."

[Ruskies slowly pull guns out of their pockets.]

"... to a gun fight."

I'm sorry, that's Ratner level filmmaking. I know it's an expression that people use as a metaphor, so making it literal COULD be funny. (Like how Crusade uses "the pen is mightier than the sword".) But it's implemented so clumsily here. And there are a few clankers like this.

Let's take the "critter" scenes...

Snakes. Classic. The main character's worst fear.

A huge variety of insects. Far scarier than the snakes, IMHO.

Rats. A little anticlimactic, but they're real.

That's the key. In the original trilogy, the snakes, bugs, rats—they were all real. Spielberg's even talked about how half the crew wouldn't film those scenes because of their personal phobias.

CGI giant ants. Arguably more dangerous and thus dramatic than the rats in CRUSADE... but I got no tactile sense that they existed! I've seen some awesome National Geographic Channel docs on carnivorous ants and I like the idea... but the CGI really killed it for me. Surprising, too, since I'd heard that Spielberg was going to avoid the CGI as much as possible.

Another problem I had: the use of Marion Ravenwood.

Don't get me wrong, I love the character. She's by far the strongest female character in the entire series. Complicated and sexy in a way that I couldn't completely appreciate when I was a tyke. I was totally excited to see her return.

But the way she's used makes the film feel like it's suddenly turned into a Lifetime Movie of the Week. Marion and Indy shift from bickering to loving each other so abruptly, it's off-putting. It's not earned. There's no sense of the massive gulf of time they've lost by being apart. After Marion and Indy re-fall in love, they spend the remainder of the movie making luvvy-duvvy eyes at each other. I'm sorry, but it's true.

I'm going to graze over the gaping plot-holes of the alien climax. I like seeing aliens in a Spielberg movie. I like that he's open to casting aliens as evil now that he's older. But their motives and abilities in this movie are completely unclear.

And still, I'm willing to overlook those narrative gaps. However, let's jump to the very end...

RAIDERS Final Shot:
Camera pulls back to reveal a sprawling warehouse filled with crated-up mysteries. Brilliant. Creepy.

Indy and Willie kiss as Short-Round, perched on an elephant, covers his eyes. Grateful village children surround them. Dynamic, romantic, exotic.

CRUSADE Final Shot:
Indy, Henry Senior, Marcus Brody and Sallah all ride horses off into the sunset. Classic.


Camera shoots down as wedding attendees shuffle out the door. Mutt stands in the aisle. Grabs his jacket and walks out with everyone else.

I'm sorry, but what the fuck?

I'm not the hugest Crusade devotee, but is THIS security-cam shot really intended to be the new final image of the Indiana Jones tetralogy? We go from riding off into a blazing sunset to watching some people shuffle out of a room?

Again: the final scene and the final shot feel like they're straight out of some stupid Lifetime Network movie. "Old Fogeys In Love".

These are my frustrations because this fucker was in classic development hell for FOREVER.

And yes, I did like the movie. It's fun, despite my nitpicks. It just pales in comparison.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Body

I was 8 going on 9 the first time I saw a dead human being. It happened in the summer of 1984—a long time ago, but only if you measure in terms of years. I was living in a small community in Brooklyn called Starrett City; there were only fourteen thousand people, but to me it was the whole world.

... okay, all of that is true except for the dead body bit.

God, how I feast upon the carcass of nostalgia. I guess there's a writerly tradition of it. A romanticized recollection of some patch of time and place that's long gone.

It's the most fertile place to go to. Before everything got so fucking jaded, there's not much left to love.

Well, fuck... is May dead already? Where the does it all go?

I realize that most of you regular lurkers can't be bothered to check out the Butcherhouse Blog. FWIW, I've been trying to update it more regularly—small updates—so that the hoople-heads who look me up might go THERE instead of HERE.

That said, you might want to visit that Butcherhouse Blog today so I don't have to double-post the news.

My team seems to be growing every day.

Who will stop us?


We'll fucking KILL you. You hear me, fucko? We will mow you down.

What's it going to be then, eh?

Will you join in our crusade?

Somewhere beyond the barricade, is there a world you long to see...??


Speaking of dead bodies...

Harvey Korman has a posse.

For the wretched of the earth
There is a flame that never dies.
Even the darkest night will end
And the sun will rise.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Summer. 1984.

The music video for Michael Jackson's Thriller was released in December of 1983.

It played on MTV, which we didn't have.

It played on Friday Night Videos, but I always seemed to miss it. (This was a few years before we would own a VCR.)

The first time I remember seeing "Thriller" was at a roller skating rink, in that magical summer of 1984.

There was a girl there who I'll refer to as "V". I was eight and a half. She was closer to nine. I didn't have the faculty of expression that I do now... but I wanted to bang the living snot out of her...

For the most part, you could just skate around the rink in circles while they projected music videos on this massive screen. But every so often, they would announce,

"This is a couples-only skate!"

... and for a few minutes, you could only skate on the rink if you were holding the hand of a partner of the opposite sex. (Boys+Girls only, ya little fackin' homos!)

At one of these prompts, V clomped her way toward me with an outstretched hand.

"Come on, Malice, let's skate!"

She was a friend of the family—the daughter of my mom's boss—so there was this extra level of futility at the prospect of anything greater developing. But the "couples skate" gave me an excuse to hold her hand, which was practically sexual intercourse for an 8-year-old boy in 1984.

I wasn't that great of a skater on my own, and I was even more unstable trying to hold hands with her while we tried to skate together... but there was even excitement in the sheer awkwardness of it. Sixteen wheels clomping along the waxed floorboards. The sky was filled with sunbursts. There was the possibility of amazing things.

And then they projected that video onto the screen... and all of us stopped skating and grabbed onto some handrails to watch...

This is another one of those things that will always be difficult to explain to younger generations. It looks so cheesy in hindsight—and there have been so many remarkable and visually innovative music videos since then... but there had been NOTHING like this before. No matter what you may think of the trajectory of their later-year careers, John Landis and Michael Jackson raised the bar for what you could do in a music video.

As an 8-year-old kid who wasn't accustomed to seeing horror movies, I found the music video genuinely scary and simultaneously... well, thrilling! Funny and cool and frightening. Holding onto the handrails next to this girl I had this secret crush on. The world just seemed so vast and goddamn optimistic...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Summer of 1984.

A lot of memorable movies came out that year.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom...



The Karate Kid...

The Never-Ending Story...

But that summer, the movie that affected me most profoundly...?

Fucking SHEENA.

The luscious Tanya Roberts riding a horse painted to look like a zebra.

Lord, how I still love that epic theme song... they don't produce sweeping themes like that anymore...

Yes, it was a remarkably cheesy movie in hindsight.

It was also one of the most thrilling experiences I'd had at the movies up to that point.

I was 8 years old. In the exciting world of day-camp, where anything could happen. In the last days before "Temple of Doom" helped create the "PG-13" rating. Watching a PG-rated movie that featured an astounding amount of nudity and violence. In a theater full of my intellectual peers, without any parental supervision.

Oh, not "brief nudity", either...

Full. Frontal. Tanya. Roberts.

This was, of course, decades before the internet made pornography easily accessible to all children. Back in those days, nudity was harder to come by. I think we appreciated it more back then.

My folks were fucking Puritans when they took me to the movies as a kid, forcing me to cover my eyes during any naughty bits. So I remember getting positively DRUNK on "Sheena" when I saw it in the theater that summer. To quote the late, great poet Robert Palmer, it gave me feelings that I never felt before.

They really don't make movies like this anymore. And that is a shame.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Little Red Corvette

Summer of 1984.

We were living in Starrett City, when it was still sorta nice (but clearly on its way down).

That was the summer my folks enrolled me in day camp, through the local community center. It got us out of the house, filled our days with activities for a good stretch of summer, yet it wasn't the huge commitment of sleepaway camp. No matter where the day took us—Coney Island, Jones Beach, the movies—we always ended right back at home.

Kids were divided into groups by age and gender. The boys I was with were a grade below me in school, only because my folks started me a little early on account of my January birthday.

Still... third/fourth grade, bunch of urban, fresh-air-fund youths... these weren't the nicest lot of boys. Most of them were already full-blown assholes, on their way toward something worse.

We'd pile into these big yellow buses that would take us on our day-long adventures: it was like a busload of loud, rude gremlins.

But the radio would be cranked up. And I remember this one time, Prince's Little Red Corvette started playing... and this busload of fresh-air-fund boys spontaneously busted out singing along with Prince...

But it was Saturday night—
I guess that makes it all right—
And u say what have I got 2 lose...?

And honey I say...


Baby you're much 2 fast...


U need a love that's gonna last...

We all sang along. Bunch of sunburned 8-year-old boys howling about loving fast women on a hot summer day.

Something so absurdly funny and innocent about it. That a pop song like that could unite such a motley load of scumbag kids like that.

I wonder if that innocence even exists today. I feel like every generation loses just a little more innocence than the last—through advances in technology and culture. Of course, every generation owns something unique.

But every generation loses something unique, too...

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sydney Pollack Has a Posse

Sydney Pollack
July 1, 1934 - May 26, 2008


Meet Local LDS Singles!

(Apologies in advance to all my Mormon friend.)

Watched, in its entirety, The Singles Ward via NetFlix over the weekend. A comedy made by and for the Mormon community, about a hip young LDS man facing the singles scene in the aftermath of a divorce.

Movies made for niche markets have been around for a while. They feed the specific needs for their communities although few are successful enough to truly "cross-over" to the mainstream.

"The Singles Ward" is no exception. It is packed to the rafters with *inside* jokes, including references to other (??) Mormon movies.

What's "funny" about it is that it simultaneously tries to speak to us curious non-Mormons who might be watching. Offering up an idyllic world where fresh young Mormons cohabit non-judgmentally with their wacky, tattooed/pierced non-Mormon buddies. A black Mormon sits in on a few scenes, as if to prove they exist. (Though we never see him courting any Mormon women, like his lily-white peers.)


The story concerns a young man who suffers a crisis of faith when his wife leaves both him and the church. (Sounds... familiar...) He stops going to church, starts up a career as the worst stand-up comedian ever.

He ends up falling for this Mormon girl he meets at an LDS singles party that his friends drag him to. She's a good Mormon girl. He's the bad boy who doesn't completely conform. She gets her proverbial panties in a bunch when she catches his comedy act and hears him tell a few lame jokes that are faintly at the expense of Mormons. He's got one intriguing monologue where he argues with her that he strayed from the church BECAUSE the community was so uptight...

... but ultimately, he decides to give up stand-up comedy in order to get with this girl. It ends with him literally looking into the camera and saying, "I'm glad I made the right decision." (Unspoken: "To abandon my dreams in favor of conformity.") It is a horror movie ending.

Oh, and Steve Young makes an unfunny cameo.

[!!! END SPOILERS !!!]

The movie is not as dreadful as some Asian-American films I've seen over the years. (You know who you fucking are; don't make me link.) On a technical level, everything works well enough. It's lit cleanly, edited well enough, moves at a watchable pace. On an artistic level, it kinda feels like watching someone else's home movie. Like if you knew these people, you might enjoy this.

I was messing around with the extras on the DVD and came across a "Truth or Dare" party game. At this submenu, you can click on either "Truth" or "Dare" and be treated to randomly generated *prompts* that you and your LDS buddies can have fun with.

LDS Truth or Dare

Prompts you can get when you click "Truth":

"How old were you the last time you went trick-or-treating?"

"How many kids do you want?"

"What was the worst grade on your last report card?"

"What animal does the person to your right most resemble?"

Prompts you can get when you click "Dare":

"Get a neighbor to do the Hoki-Poki with you."

"Sing your favorite song from 'The Singles Ward'."

"Chant 'I love orange JELL-O' as loud as you can three times outside your door."

"Act like a chicken laying an egg."

I did not make any of those up. And in addition to the movie, this extra little "game" just helped to highlight what makes me so uneasy about the culture. It seems like these adults are forever trapped in an Elementary School state.

The body's sacred—no caffeine, no nicotine, no alcohol, that's cool. Straight-edge community. I get it.

But the culture of infantilization is what I find so disagreeable. Putting blinders on to what's happening in modern culture. I don't think you need to use the Seven Dirty Words to be funny or relevant, but is THIS crap what you're really left with? Dancing the Hoki-Poki and acting like a chicken laying an egg? Do people find that entertaining?? Honestly???

If a neighbor knocked on my door and asked me to dance the Hoki-Poki with him... I would kill him. I would grab a kitchen knife and cut him.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


It's a sad state of affairs when THIS is the level of mudslinging out there.

And you hear voters from West Virginia talking about how they wouldn't vote for Obama because he's Muslim. That shit is fucking outrageous.

I know it's called "Misanthropy Central" and I've got some piss-poor expectations from the world, but honestly. Tell me we can do better than this.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The One-Sixth World

Excerpt from The Village Voice:
On April 8, 2000, Mark Hogancamp was attacked by five young men in a Kingston, New York, parking lot. The assault left the ex–navy man, carpenter, and showroom designer in a coma for nine days. He emerged with brain damage that initially made it impossible for him to walk, eat, or speak.
So what did he do to claw his way back to life...?

He built the fictional Belgian town of "Marwencol" in his backyard.

A one-sixth scale world populated by WWII action figures including surrogates for friends and family.

The photographs he began taking fulfilled his fantasies. Stories of pent-up desire and revenge.

I got turned onto Mark Hogancamp's work from this past week's episode of "This American Life" on Showtime (which is very good, you NPR-snobs—you can watch the shows online). Because Ira Glass can be excellent at mumbling, I had the dickens of a time trying to figure out Hogancamp's last name so that I could look him up for this entry.

Looks like the website's still under construction as of this date, but you can visit the town of Marwencol online.

Don't forget to see the new Indiana Jones movie this weekend, kiddies! It's new!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

AY AY AY! We look like... CARTOONS!!!

My dear lurkers and only friends, how I loved Gabriele Bennett...

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Over the weekend, the subject of Saturday Morning Cartoons came up in conversation, which inspired me to go home and search up a little dose of Saturday Morning Cartoon nostalgia on the good ol dependable YOU TUBE (actually, increasingly less dependable, but I'll save that rant).

And then I stumbled on this bit of forgotten pop confection:

KIDD VIDEO... how could I have forgotten you...?!

I loved that opening theme. Pretty sure I watched the fuck outta this. About a teen pop band that gets sucked into an alternate cartoon universe called "The Flipside" where the main baddie, "Master Blaster", is trying to make them his musical slaves. (Of course, "musical" being a euphemism for "sex" back in the 80s.) They're just trying to find a way out... with the help of a Flashdancer faerie called "Glitter".

It was basically Dungeons & Dragons with pop music.

And I harbored a powerful little crush on Gabriele Bennett...

The olive-skinned beauty whose classic, non-racist catchphrase was "AY AY AY!"

She was the drummer of the band, so she had this sexy, spicy Sheila E vibe going for her. CALIENTE!!!

Alas, where has Gabriele Bennett gone...?

According to this KIDD VIDEO fansite, she just disappeared from the industry after the show. And if you're no longer in the industry, you might as well be dead in a ditch. At least in terms of obsessive internet searches.

So... where'd you go, Gabi? You must be up in your 40s by now. Did that marriage work out? Maybe you've got a regular, pedestrian job and "Kidd Video" is just a quirky footnote in your past. Something your kids dig up and snicker as they forward YOU TUBE clips to their friends, with the subject header, "THiS WaS mY MoMM!!!"

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Over two years ago, I posted an entry trying to find this old animated short called "Cacaboody".

I saw this a million times when I was a kid, on HBO. Two little sisters blathering on in the unique manner that only little children are capable of.

Of course, I misspelled the name of the short in the original entry, which made it infinitely harder to hunt down.

"Cockaboody". From John & Faith Hubley.

Watch it, damn you:

And here's what the Hubleys did to pay the bills.

Oh... those of you who can't watch YOU TUBE from where you are? Well... here's an interview with Tarsem. The fuck do you want from me?


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

That Padma Entry

Padma Lakshmi...

How do I adequately convey my ardor for you short of killing innocent people in a ritualistic blood-sacrifice...?

(Answer me before it's too late!)

You must realize that you out-10 all 10s on the planet.

Yet there is a distinct sweetness in your visage.

Your utter prettiness is almost cartoonish. A caricature of a gorgeous girl. As if some artist deftly sketched some graphite lines on a page to compose something improbably beautiful. Beauty to the point of absurdity.

(Angelina pales beside you.)

Even that prominent scar along your arm (from a car accident in your youth) cannot detract from your stunning, goddesslike luminosity.

The scar enhances your perfect 10ness, Padma. Under hot lights, it glistens. It draws the eye, hinting at some secret, unknowable narrative.

In fact, I'll bet if your arms and legs were completely cut off—and I kept you safe in a box—you'd still be a perfect 10...!

Wouldn't you, Padma...?

Oh, you would.

(Trust me.)

And I would worship at your limbless altar as if you were the Patron Saint of Super Models. A dark, sexy, limbless Patron Saint of Super Models.

I don't actually watch Top Chef regularly, though I caught some of a marathon airing over the weekend. (Filipinos represent!)

To be honest, I mostly know you from internet pictures. And yet, I still feel like we have a strong bond that reaches beyond Google Image searches.

My heart is a cold and empty chamber; it is a poor gift.

So I give you my blog for one day.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Jerky Boys

In the corner of a window of a deli that I've passed by on the Upper West Side, there is a dusty cardboard cut-out featuring a Jerky Boys cartoon and the talk bubble:


I imagine rich UWS children must routinely ask their parents, "What is that?"

Some peculiar ad campaign that time forgot...?

What were The Jerky Boys?

Well, hold onto your potatoes, because it looks like The Jerky Boys are coming back...

Saturday, May 17, 2008

News Roundup!

Sue Simmons makes an uh-oh, LIVE:


Arthur Chi'en:

And then, of course, in Liberty City news:

Friday, May 16, 2008

I've Been Downhearted, Baby

I know what you're thinking right about now:

Whatever happened to the "Primitive Radio Gods"?

You all remember the notorious P.R.G., don't you?

Inimitable one-hit wonder from the mid-90s?

Okay, perhaps they were more than a bit imitable in retrospect.

Lordy, I remember listening to this single TO DEATH back in the day. It sounds cool and profound but the lyrics amount to this navel-gazing alterna-babble that was prominent in music at the time:
Am I alive or thoughts that drift away?
Does summer come for everyone?
Can humans do as prophets say?
And if I die before I learn to speak
Can money pay for all the days I lived awake
But half asleep?
UTTERLY fucking meaningless! And yet, it seemed to mean more.

Meant something to us for one summer in the mid-90s, at least.

What can you tell us about them, Wikipedia...?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Best of Times is Now

Every time I catch Jackass Number Two on the cable, I'm compelled to watch it through to the end.

I think it's better than the Borat movie. Strangely, I think it's easier to watch. We're not watching a bunch of people who aren't in on the joke. The guys are doing crazy stunts and playing pranks on each other.

And they're not masochists -- they don't get off on getting hurt. You see them reluctantly agreeing to do some jackass stunt. At one point, you see Bam Margera saying that he sincerely hopes there isn't a "Jackass Three". But there's a peculiar sense of duty that drives them through it.

They get sore. They get pissed off at each other. They stalk off. Yet this funny bro-culture keeps them together. Even when they're purely exploited as crude sight-gags (which is invariably the case), there's not a sense that any of them is lesser than another. It's a brotherhood of misfits. Performing the craziest "skits" they can collectively imagine.

The effect is like watching some Tex Avery cartoon. Itchy-&-Scratchy-level hyperbolic damage. People do get hurt... but somehow never quite enough to stop the funny.

And to drive the cartoon aspect home, "Jackass Two" ends with a full-blown musical number! I'm such a sucker for all that nutty horse-shit.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Goodbye Horses

Things you won't find in the fake-New-York-City of "Grand Theft Auto IV":
  • Children
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Horses
Here's where my lofty expectations were not fulfilled by the GTA programmers. I was expecting to be able to do a lot more than you actually can do in their city.

In fact, you can do LESS than what you can do in previous iterations of GTA.

(For some reason, though you have access to an airport with airplanes, they won't let you fly them. I can see NO REASON why they would NOT want to enable players to fly airplanes through NYC. No reason at all.)

As for the horses, no one was really expecting them, but I was secretly hoping for them. It would make sense. It would be fun as hell to ride horses through NYC—and to be able to stab their eyes out with a knife.

Alas, in faux-NYC, it's as if horses are some sci-fi fantasy.

I guess some programmers don't like horses.

Speaking of horse-races, screenwriter Jeff Nathanson discusses his contribution to the last Indiana Jones movie.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Lego Version

Everybody excited about the new "LEGO Indiana Jones" videogame?

You know there are no Nazis in the game, don't you...?

References to the Third Reich have been completely scrubbed, though of course Nazis feature prominently in the narratives of both "Raiders" and "Crusade".

I'm personally looking forward to the LEGO adaptations of some of Spielberg's other movies...

LEGO Roots, maybe...? Come on, LEGO, let's keep this thing going...

Monday, May 12, 2008

In Defense of the Temple

Anyone notice that "Temple of Doom" is the only Indiana Jones movie to feature a big, splashy, comic-book title card?

Go ahead, check it out. Raiders, Last Crusade: understated titles.

I wonder how "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" is going to play it, but it's certainly got the WORST title of the lot. I mean, really.

For some reason, "Temple of Doom" gets such a bad rap.

I think it's inspired.

The people who don't like "Temple of Doom"...?

I hate them.

I hope they die.

You know who you fucking are.

Yes, you.

I hate you.

I hope you fucking die.

Painfully. In a pit of fire. With your heart still beating in my fucking fist.

I find you that disagreeable.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

If You Wanna Find Hell with Me

I almost ordered $50 of flowers for Mother's Day.


$50 for a hollow gesture that'll be the portrait of death within a few days.

Eff you, Hallmark! Go peddle your guilt-trips elsewhere! I ain't buying this year!

(Maybe Father's Day...)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Welcome to America

"So this is what the dream feels like..."

Who says my weekends aren't productive?

Today, I beat GTA IV...

... twice!

There are two endings. (At least two, I guess.)

There are a number of branching moral decisions you're required to make throughout. This makes the game feel more alive and less "on rails", and boosts the replay value.

Naturally, with some carefully chosen saves, you don't have to go all the way back to the beginning to reach your alternate bitch of destiny.

Friday, May 09, 2008

In Utero

French horror film "Inside" ("À l'intérieur") had been on my NetFlix queue for a few weeks, under "Long Wait".

IMDB's descrip:
"Still grieving over her recently deceased boyfriend, a pregnant woman becomes haunted by a mysterious woman."

Visited Dimension Films on Thursday and they just handed me a copy.

I consider myself fairly desensitized. Seen it all. Nothing's shocking.

And to be honest, through much of the film, I was thinking, "What's the hooplah?"

But I've got to hand it to the filmmakers... one of the most disturbing endings I've seen... not for the squeamish... and NOT for the pregnant...

Terrifically unsettling final shot.

The fucking French. Who would have thought?

Thursday, May 08, 2008


Difficult to enjoy the gorgeous days when the seasonal allergies descend.

It's murder out there.

The drugs... they do nothing!

(Maybe I need better drugs.)

This has been the 1,234th post on this blog. Thank you.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


Hello, blog and accompanying lurkers.

I've updated pretty regularly but I realize that it's been a while since I've posted a "real entry". (I know you only check this blog regularly waiting for me to wig out about something.)

I'm behind on all my major emails so you'll forgive me if I've been MIA.

It may not seem like it, but I have desperately been trying to write.

I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm blocked. I just go through these stretches where I'm really wrestling with certain ideas. I get these murky patches followed by periods of complete lucidity. (Or at least comparative lucidity.)

Plus, I've been heavily contemplating my next career moves. Some things I may have to decide on sooner rather than later.

Is all of this sufficiently oblique for all of you?

Okay, I've got a meeting at Dimension on Thursday. Just a general meeting, but this is going to be part of the next phase of my career. Spreading the Gospel of Malice.

And having others spread it for me.

All right. Back to staring at the blank notebook page.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Test Pattern

I'm sorry, I can't be bothered today.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Stretch-O-Vision Blows

Ready for today's lesson, class?

Time-Warner in NYC recently granted us a crop of new HD channels, including The Food Network HD and CNN HD.

HD technology is fairly new and it'll be a while before all shows are actually shot in HD. When an HD version of a channel arrives, it usually incorporates both newer HD content and older Standard-Def content.

When an HD channel broadcasts an SD program, they can either show it in OAR (Original Aspect Ratio) or they can stretch it out to fill the width of the HD screen...

Like TNT HD, The Food Network HD features the hateful STRETCH-O-VISION.

Some folks aren't bothered by it.

I loathe it.

I get it. There are people who have HDTVs who don't understand why there should be any pictures that *don't* fill out to the sides of the screens. They can't be bothered to understand the concept of "aspect ratios".

By broadcasting in Stretch-O-Vision, The Food Network is saying, "Our viewers are dumb."

I personally think that broadcasting distorted video is worse than pan-and-scan. At least the imagery in pan-and-scan video isn't fucking deformed.

CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, CNN... their HD channels broadcast SD programming in OAR, *not* distorted. If it's good enough for the networks, I don't see why a basic cable channel like The Food Network has to dumb down their feed.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

GTA IV Troubleshooter

Technical entry for the gamers, recounting bugs I've experienced with GTA IV.

Yes, I experienced the game "freezing". The first day.

There's a fix that's being publicized about deleting all traces of the game from your PS3, rebooting and reloading. I say, skip that. You lose all your progress, obviously. I tried it and started up again and, hours later, still experienced a "freeze" crash.

If your game freezes completely during gameplay, just try rebooting and starting from your last save point. I'm about 37% into the game. After some game-killing freezes on the first two days, I've been pretty fortunate. The game will occasionally freeze for 1 or 2 seconds, but it seems to kick back in.

Got a new problem yesterday...

Fired up the game for a session, the game reached the "[LAST MISSION] IS LOADING...." screen, and it wouldn't load.

It didn't freeze, technically. The "loading" text kept animating, and the console still recognized the controller when I pressed the PS button. But the game would NOT load. Just stayed on that screen.

SONY released a remedy checklist. I still say ignore the steps about deleting all the files/progress.

What worked for me was --

1) Rebooting without the disc.
2) Going to the internet browser, deleting the cookies/cache.
3) Unplug the ethernet cable from the console.
4) Loading up the game while NOT connected to the network.

This seems to be a problem specific to the online connection, for some reason. When I restarted without a network connection, the game loaded up fine.

It's a crumby workaround because the multiplayer function is actually pretty great when you can get it working. I really hope they release a proper patch for all the bugs soon.

Friday, May 02, 2008

May Day

I really love how this animated gif came out. You know, these things don't just make themselves. I didn't create the source image, but it took a good bit of re-jiggering to make it move. (The original art doesn't have a head/face.)

[You're welcome.]

It's good to know that people are finding some catharsis in "Grand Theft Auto IV".

Then there's this brassy 7-year-old who decided to take the family car out for a fucking spin:

Hey—why fucking not, am I right?

It's funda do bad things! TM

Now, a small warning to those about to embark upon a Grand Theft Auto IV journey....

You may have heard about a "freezing problem" with the game on the PS3. Firstly, there are reports of the game freezing on both the XBOX 360 and the PS3, so let's not console-hate.

Full disclosure: the game froze on me on the first day. Not during the "introductory cut-scene", like in the reports, but a number of hours in. I may have advanced through as much as 8% of the game before the thing spontaneously froze/crashed on me.

I immediately looked the problem up on the trusty InterWeb; read a report that a customer service rep told some guy to DELETE ALL THE GAME FILES from his system -- including saved games -- and just reinstall.


Wasted hours because of this. Doesn't do a goddamn thing. Just reboot your machine and try your luck again. The game's got a great "autosave" function that kicks in after you complete any mission, so you're never likely to lose too much.

ROCKSTAR is aware of the problem. Hopefully they can pin it down and get a downloadable patch out there soon.

Have I lost all the non-gamers? Are all the non-gamers gone now? Hey, it's not easy writing for the broad spectrum of silent lurkers who check out the wreckage here regularly...

Thursday, May 01, 2008

72 & Sunny

Advertising and design company 72andSunny created this brilliant promo for The Discovery Channel—I fucking love it. I implore you to watch, even if you don't normally watch the vids here.
Of course, I'm the only one around here who watches The Discovery Channel with any regularity, so it probably wouldn't mean as much to you all, uh?

For The Wire fans, check out The Wire as Simpsons characters.

For the rest of you... got nothing for you. Grab your torches, head back to camp.

Happy May, philistines. Don't choke on it, now. (Let me see those beautiful eyes.)