Friday, July 31, 2009

August Reruns

I didn't sell this article enough when I linked to it in February. Some people don't bother to click through, so I'll set it up more...

It opens with this quote:

"Red wine may be much more potent than was thought in extending human lifespan, researchers say in a new report that is likely to give impetus to the rapidly growing search for longevity drugs. The study is based on dosing mice with resveratrol, an ingredient of some red wines. . . . [In a related study] scientists used a dose on mice equivalent to just 35 bottles a day."
—The Times.

The body of the article concerns Noah Baumbach and a mouse named Louis who embark upon an experiment to drink 35 bottles of wine a day.

September 27th

Last thing I remember is doing a handstand three days ago. That’s O.K. But I wouldn’t have minded if someone had moved me from the floor to a mattress. Or at least cleaned up the blood. Louis is staring at me. “You said some weird shit,” he declares...

October 28th

After we smoke a bowl, I unscrew a 2008 Ralph’s generic-brand red. It has a sugary vinegar nose and a vinegary, sugary, vomity biley taste, but after five bottles who gives a shit? Louis wonders aloud if resveratrol might also be found in tequila, Jägermeister, and cocaine. I have to dip a little further into the grant money, but we’re able to score some blow by the side of the highway. Once we get back to the lab, we discover it’s baking soda. Louis wants to hunt down the guy and murder him. It takes me, the monkey, and the entire control group of mice to restrain him. Fortunately, the hookers arrive and all is forgotten...
Read and/or reread the rest of the New Yorker article here.

Hope you've enjoyed your July.

Heading off to spend the first patch of August in Portland, Oregon. With the mother and sister. I've dutifully pre-blogged a bunch of entries so I don't have to worry about the blog while I'm away. (We'll see if the celebrity deaths I've predicted pan out.) Why do I bother...?


Thursday, July 30, 2009

World without Malice

Where did July go?

This blog has been overrun with a lot of frivolous entries lately. They're easier to publish and they keep the tone nice and frothy but here's a straight entry to mix things up.

Pennies are being placed on the eyelids of July and I'm left contemplating what 2009 has become for me. Spin-machine powered down, 2009 has been a bizarre, blind-folded race. I really hoped I'd have more accomplished by this point and, to be honest, it kills me that I'm about to head to Oregon for almost two weeks because it's just about THE WORST time for it. Way too much goddamn time to be away. Way too much goddamn time to be spending with family. My mother's moving down in Florida in October and she wants to spend some time with her kids and I am ONLY doing it to make her feel better...

... and yet I'm afraid I'm going to be fucking pissed off the entire time.

I'm going in negative and I'm trying to fight that. I just can't pretend to be the sweet son that my mother wants. My mother gets on my nerves really easily, and I can fight that for a few hours, or maybe for a few days with careful planning... but TWELVE FUCKING DAYS?! In a small apartment filled with cats??? I'm going crazy just thinking about this...


I'm annoyed and pissed off and this is probably the last time I'm gonna see my mom and sis for a really long time. It's a completely pointless trip, entirely too long, I need to be writing and trying to hustle for jobs because I CAN'T AFFORD to do a whole lot of nothing for two weeks in Portland...

Okay. All right.

Fuck it. FUCK IT ALL.

I hate it. I'm annoyed at my mom for guilting me into this bullshit. I'll be in a worse place when I return on the 12th. But I will move past all of this stupid fucking shit because that's what I do.

Wow! This inadvertently turned into a rage-filled rambler! So much ANGER on Misanthropy Central!

Light a candle for me.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Zombie Andrew Zimmern


ZOMBIES stalk the scorched earth, eviscerating the survivors, shoveling brains into their gaping maws...



The zombies are suddenly distracted by ZOMBIE ANDREW ZIMMERN in a corner who's enjoying his own bizarre feast...

Whoa, dude... why are you eating that?

I don't know why you guys are avoiding this stuff.
You're throwing away the best parts...!

You know, you don't have to eat that stuff. There's
plenty of survivors to go around here...

Oh, come on, give this a bite and tell me it's
not the best thing you've ever put in your mouth...

The zombies RECOIL in horror.

Get that away from me...!

Ugh... I think I'm gonna be sick...

Zombie Andrew Zimmern shrugs. Slurps up some more guts.

Hey, if it looks good, EAT IT. More for me!


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

John Cho Entry

Here's an interesting interview with John Cho (of the Harold/Kumar and Star Trek franchises). Chronicling his rise from the ghetto of Asian-American movies to the mainstream.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Perils of Wisconsin

Oh, Wisconsin. Gang violence, necrophilia, what is going on in the Mid-West? What's it going to be next?
Last year, an awkward high school senior in Wisconsin went online, passed himself off as a flirtatious female student, and conned dozens of his male classmates into e-mailing him sexually explicit images of themselves. What he did next will likely send him to jail for a very long time...
Full story HERE.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Les Lye Has a Posse

Don't know how I missed this sad day for You Can't Do That On Television fans...

Les Lye has a posse.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hotto Peppa

Are you ready to rock...?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Touch OK?

I confess, I've become a bit prejudiced against the Harry Potter phenomenon due to Someone Who Will Remain Unnamed here.

But these are hilarious (originally found HERE).

Japanese fangirl getting surprise visits from "Harry" and "Ron".

Twitter Industrial Complex

"In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes."

I realize that most of you are still cool and have resisted the non-lure of the Twitter Generation. I still can't exactly tell you why I broke down and joined...

For the uninitiated, one of the foundations of the Twitter Experience is following the feeds of your favorite celebs.

Obvious problem: the internet is rife with fakes. And Twitter does very little to weed out the frauds.

Case in point, there is the Jonah Hill cautionary tale.

You know, the whole laughably prescient Andy Warhol "15 minutes of world-fame" thing is getting too true. Every day.

Trent Reznor abandons TWITTER.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Reasons to be Pretty

Pity the beautiful people. They just can't catch a break, can they? Whenever I see a beautiful girl on the street, I feel sooo sorry for her!

Fortunately, there's hope.

"Model Lounge", as its name suggests, is a New York City lounge exclusively for female models. They can hang out, enjoy a sammich, support each other and just do, you know, whatever!

I'm so proud that New York is progressive enough to foster supportive environments for gorgeous women.

Me, I just hang out at the Fug-Ugly Lounge with the rest of the normals.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Basterds (sic)

Bradley Pitt is selling his new movie with a series of lifestyle advice columns:

Rockband management.

Cell phones at the movie theater.

Talking and peeing.

Heh heh.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

SLAVES... built America!!!

Quick update to Sunday's entry.

Rachel Maddow revisited her argument with Pat Buchanan and destroyed him point by point! Please take the time to check it out.

Power Corrupts Absolutely

1982's "The Toy" is built upon a vaguely racist/offensive conceit: rich white man buys a black man as a "toy" for his bratty kid. Okay, it's sorta profoundly racist/offensive when you reduce it to that, but the actual movie proves to be... still kinda racist but not quite sooo racist...

Based on a 1976 French film called "Le jouet" that I've never seen, though I will assume had none of the race issues of the remake. Unlike "Brewster's Millions", "The Toy" is NOT colorblind and while it doesn't address Richard Pryor's race constantly, it does address it at key moments throughout.

I saw "The Toy" countless times as a kid. Every time it was on cable. The rich kid's toy collection was like something out of Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch (which was built a few years later... and some of the "lost childhood" themes in the movie must've resonated for MJ... so...??). As a kid, I never noticed anything racist in the movie...

As a college-educated adult who's taken a Donald Bogle class? Okay, I see the race thing... but not immediately...

Gotta say this: I'm really impressed with Richard Pryor's performance. People may not want to think of "The Toy" and "Brewster's Millions" when they're looking to remember Pryor at his best, but for all the shortfalls of these two movies... he's really good in them.

"The Toy" is essentially about a little boy looking for a father figure. His actual father—Jackie Gleason—is an absentee father who sees him for one week a year. Lavishes him with anything money can buy. "Buying" Richard Pryor does not happen as cavalierly as the premise might suggest: none of the adults (Jackie Gleason nor any of his underlings) really want to "buy" Richard Pryor. It's the little kid, young Scotty Schwartz, who really pushes for it. And when the deal is made, it's basically about hiring a playmate for his kid. Richard Pryor makes cracks about slavery but he's free to go at any time.

So where's all the juicy racist shit?


The kid plays a bunch of pranks on Richard Pryor for a good stretch of the movie. When he throws firecrackers at Pryor's feet, the film's sped up: Pryor's eyes bug out, he starts running about, climbing up a door to get away from the firecrackers. There are some clear aspects of the "coon" (easily frightened buffoon) and "tom" (faithful, submissive servant) archetypes in Pryor's character. These can be uncomfortable because you're watching a grown man being degraded by a little child.

Flip-side to this? Director Richard Donner seems to be making homages to silent films during these sequences. It's pure, broad physical comedy, which Pryor excels at. The shot that ends the film has Pryor running off into the distance with a classic/cartoonish circle out to black.

At the further risk of being labeled a "Toy"-apologist, it could be interpreted that Pryor's NOT being degraded during these sequences. That he's intentionally clowning it up to play along with the kid. Faking being scared or surprised in order to delight the kid. Pryor's incredulous reaction to getting a bucketful of oatmeal dumped on him is really excellent. You could dismiss it as over-the-top mugging, but Pryor performs these moments so well and it's not something that can be scripted. It's all on his performance. And he's able to convey shock, speechless anger and disbelief in a way that is pitch-perfect.

But what's really great about Pryor's performance is his ability to bring humanity to the role. He seems to be alternating between two characters in the movie: the clown playmate and the genuine father figure. And he somehow manages to display warmth toward the kid without it coming off as weird or creepy. This kid's got problems. But Pryor doesn't talk down to him. They naturally develop a bond and mutual respect. But the depth and presence that Pryor brings to the role isn't something you see too often these days. Or ever. The fact that he can sell the big, broad moments and the really quiet moments is remarkable.

(The movie doesn't depict this, but the kid eventually grows up to do porn, so maybe he really did need a better father figure...)

While we're at it, Jackie Gleason's surprisingly good in the movie. Like Pryor, he's a master at broad comedy but manages to completely sell much smaller moments. From the beginning, you get the sense that he longs to connect to his son but isn't sure how to. The ending, of course, is pure treacle, but Gleason acquits himself amidst the rough patches.

The biggest act of degradation in the film actually comes at the expense of Ned Beatty! Jackie Gleason makes Ned pull down his pants in front of Pryor and Scotty Schwartz, just to prove how powerful he is. That's some Neil Labute shit right there.

Oh, and did I mention racism...?

In a plot point that I didn't recall from childhood, Jackie Gleason's character holds a fundraiser for the KKK...! Um... WTF, 1982? Richard Pryor and Scotty Schwartz break it up and the fundraiser devolves into a pie-throwing fiasco. Hooray!

All right, admittedly the movie's a bit all over the place. But nostalgia aside, there's some good in it. Some really broad, obvious comedy... that kinda works BECAUSE it's so obvious. When Jackie Gleason shows off an elaborate domino display that he's created, you can see the subsequent gag coming from ten miles away... which sorta makes it funnier.

There was talk of Adam Sandler's company doing a remake of "The Toy" a few years back. Who knows where that stands now. It's sorta the bleak nature of the industry that these things can appear on the radar and disappear like fucking UFOs. If it did get remade with Sandler and his buddies, I wouldn't have high hopes. I like Sandler but his movies tend to be lacking. Watch "The Toy" and then watch "Mr. Deeds"... Steven Brill is no Richard Donner.

(Yes, this was a long entry about "The Toy".)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sir John Soane's Breakfast Room

The house located at 12 Lincoln's Inn Fields in England has an extraordinary breakfast room. You may not notice at first glance but it is an illusion box. A funhouse organization of mirrors—tilted, concave, some appearing to be windows—such that you may have to inspect the room more closely to realize where the natural light is coming from...

It is the work of Neo-Classical architect Sir John Soane.

Sir John Soane's Museum (aka, the Soane Museum) is the former home of the architect...

Let's let Wikipedia flesh out this entry for me:
Soane demolished and rebuilt three houses in succession on the north side of Lincoln's Inn Fields. He began with No. 12 (between 1792 and 1794), which is externally a conventional plain brick house typical of the period. After becoming Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy in 1806, Soane purchased No. 13, the house next door, today the Museum, and rebuilt it in two phases in 1808-09 and 1812.

In 1808-09 he constructed his drawing office and "museum" on the site of the former stable block at the back, using primarily top lighting. In 1812 he rebuilt the front part of the site, adding a projecting Portland Stone facade to the basement, ground and first floor levels and the centre bay of the second floor. Originally this formed three open loggias, but Soane glazed the arches during his lifetime. Once he had moved into No. 13 Soane rented out his former home at No. 12 (on his death it was left to the nation along with No. 13 - the intention being that the rental income would fund the running of the Museum).

After completing No.13, Soane set about treating the building as an architectural laboratory, continually remodelling the interiors. In 1823, when he was over 70, he purchased a third house, No. 14, which he rebuilt in 1823-24. This project allowed him to construct a picture gallery, linked to No.13, on the former stable block of No.14....

The Museum was established during Soane's own lifetime by a private Act of Parliament in 1833, which took effect on Soane's death in 1837. The Act required that No 13 be maintained 'as nearly as possible' as it was left at the time of Soane's death and by and large that has been the case...
The house is supposed to be filled with remarkable structure. The breakfast room is just one piece of the damn thing!

I want to go to there.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

White Man's Burden

Don't get me wrong, I love white people. Some of my best friends are white people. And while I can understand the knee-jerk threat that "affirmative action" can pose, the people like Pat Buchanan who want to use it as some sort of backwater rally cry for oppressed white folks... well, they aren't doing their party any favors...

I caught Pat Buchanan on the Rachel Maddow Show, frothing at the mouth over Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination. Check it out if you missed it.

The victim/martyr mentality is something that's sickened me when I've seen it in the Asian-American community. Seeing it used by an old Right-Wing Squawk-Box like Buchanan just makes me want to vomit...
"I think white men were 100% of the people who wrote the constitution, 100% of the people who signed the Declaration of Independence, 100% of the people who died at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, probably close 100% of the people who died at Normandy. This has been a country basically built by white folks."

Maddow's savvy enough to know how to counter it: by NOT getting worked up, by mostly letting him dig his own grave.

Seriously, what's with people like Pat Buchanan and Billo the Clown and their bully/bullhorn method of "debate"? The logic being that the person who yells the loudest is the person who wins?

I pray that this is a dying breed.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Wrap Star = Texas Rotisserie

Another public service announcement for the internet searches...

I'm a fan of Seamless Web because you can order a meal without talking to anyone and you don't need to have cash on you.

I noticed a new restaurant on there recently called "Wrap Star", located on 97th and Broadway. Not feeling like ordering the "$25 minimum for delivery", I decided to walk by there and check it out in person...

... and I could not find the place anywhere in that area.

Where was this phantom restaurant?

Curiously enough, "Wrap Star" is actually "Texas Rotisserie". I don't quite get the logic of running a phantom, delivery-only business out of an already established eatery, but what do I know about running a restaurant? I only know how to order the meal.

Curiouser still, "Wrap Star" and "Texas Rotisserie" have different menus.

Yeah, I don't get it. I just report this stuff to you.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Walter Cronkite Has a Posse

Walter Cronkite

Walter Cronkite has a posse.

20/20 Ennui

I watch crime documentary shows to get plot ideas. The WE channel airs old episodes of "20/20". They repackage each episode and introduce them as "20/20 on WE".

Ennui is 20/20, isn't it? Clear as goddamn crystal.

The past few weeks in NYC have been disconcertingly... sunny and comfortable. Day after day. It's given me a sense of what it must be like to live in L.A.:

Completely fucking numbing.

Maybe if I weren't so clutched by career anxieties, I'd be able to enjoy it more.

This is a tangent, but am I the only one who's distressed that Turtle and Meadow Soprano are dating in really-real life...?

On Entourage, I thought it was a far-fetched hookup. But Entourage is a fantasy show. That's one of the main reasons I enjoy it. It's escapist and everything ALWAYS works out, usually before the half hour is up:

But real life is more relentlessly anticlimactic on a regular basis. At least, right now.

I need some small Entourage-esque miracles to occur in the next two weeks, before August hits.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What Do You Think?

Ever wonder who the people are in the photos used in The Onion's daily American Voices feature?


Well, I did.

Chet Clem, editorial manager:

"Way back to the Madison days and they were literally six people on the street that one day, and we have used them ever since..."


More Behind-The-Scenes @ The Onion HERE.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

10 Speed

Saturday night, I was going to spend a nice quiet evening at home with the NetFlix. I ended up going to a "speed-dating" event, to support a friend.

10 dates. 5 minutes a piece.

I'd been out drinking the night before and was really not in the frame of mind to go out again. But I do try to put myself outside of my comfort zone on a semi-regular basis and this seemed to fit the bill.

I won't go into details here but my friend had a speed-date with this psychopath of a woman who completely ruined his night. Spent a few hours with my friend afterward, trying to talk him down, discussing some of the pitfalls of the dating scene...

I'll say this about my friend: however bitter and misanthropic and bleak and fatalistic I can be on my DARKEST days... he's probably 10x worse on a regular basis.

Basically, trying to talk him off the ledge didn't improve my own spirits much.

The speed-dating scene can be fun, but there are a lot of people who are NOT there to have fun. Women with ticking biological clocks who will consider your very existence a violent affront if you're not what they're shopping for; some of these women are barely able to remain civil for 5 minutes. There's the scent of desperation all over the place, from men and women. It can turn the entire event into the opposite of fun. This is precisely the sort of scene I'd been trying to avoid for months. A complete drag. The sort of affair that can bum you out for days.

After the event, you go home, log onto the website and click on the names of the people you like. You only get emailed if you score a "match", so it's designed to protect you from the sting of immediate rejection. And while I did get a match, it just seemed to highlight the peculiar realization that I'm not quite prepared to be mixing it up in the dating scene right now. Or at least not THAT dating scene.

I might be lonely. Might be extremely lonely. But my career's the most important thing I need to worry over right now. Not trying to fashion excuses. It's just a pressing issue on a few different levels. It's the middle of July already and I've got some heavier anxieties than whether or not I can score a date on a Friday night.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

How come you're always such a fussy young man?

You know what I probably DON'T need on this blog to help its "cool" factor? A big ol' picture of Weird "Al" Yankovic.

But if you wanted to read his thoughts about the departed Michael Jackson, CLICK HERE.

I considered parodying "Black or White" around that time. Michael wasn't quite so into it, because he thought "Black or White" was more of a message song, and he didn't feel as comfortable with a parody of that one...
The great Mark Romanek's thoughts here.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Humiliated Pets

Peruse for your amusement.

Poor, stupid dogs.

They're not quite smart enough to be humiliated, are they?

They're shame-based creatures.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Super Cute!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Hawk Jones!

Preaching to the choir, Hawk...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Happiest Days of Our Lives

Enjoying your coffee this morning?

Something to browse.

Need something more? How about Pizza the Clown...

Enjoy some Awkward Family Photos.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Paisley Park vs Neverland Ranch

Were Prince and Michael Jackson friends...?

A forgotten rivalry...?

"Bad" (the song and the music video) was originally supposed to be a duet between Prince and Michael Jackson, which would've been so fucking cool. The two of them facing off: that would've made more sense than Michael Jackson facing off against Wesley Snipes (in the video)...

Alas, Prince turned it down.

Two peculiar, shy, reclusive, black(ish) men who reached their career primes in the 1980s. Built their own private Xanadus. Men who exhibited strange behavior and weathered controversies. Men with mysterious private lives.

I wonder if they were friends. And if they were, imagine how surreal it would've been to see them hanging out together. How crazy it would've been to see them perform together.

Of course, Michael Jackson made Prince look positively down-to-earth. Prince was never the asexual icon that MJ was: the lyrics of Purple Rain were dripping with sex. You get the sense he's been around.

How many of his own songs did Michael Jackson write? Prince has always written his own songs, as well as written songs for others. He can play every instrument on earth, too. On that artistic level, he honestly blows MJ out of the water. Michael Jackson concerts were all about choreography and spectacle; Prince's concerts are about the music.

But in a weird way, MJ always tried to embrace the world. He wanted to be loved.

I think Prince was always more motivated by the music.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

All the Young Republicans

Have you heard this one...?

Audra Shay, vice chairwoman of the Young Republicans, posted an update on her FACEBOOK:

"WalMart just signed a death warrant... [by] endorsing Obama’s healthcare plan.”

One of her friends, "Eric S. Piker", responded with precisely the type of retarded/racist/backwater babble that makes all Republicans look completely psychotic.

Audra Shay's response...?

Young Republican leader Audra Sigler Shay, ladies and gentlemen.

The Grand Old Party is falling apart.

Get the word out. I'm doing my passive best by contributing to the blogosphere.

(These must be funny to everyone who doesn't speak a lick of German.)

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Wild Style

"Yo, I don't hang out with those guys! Man, I ain got nothina do with those dudes!"

"Man, I saw your *female* with them, too—what's up with huh? I been hearin that she been givin that stuff out to ALL them graffiti guys..."

"Yo, shut the fuck up, Chico, man!"

"Could paint THREE o' those murals for some o' THAT ass...!"

Dialogue from "Wild Style", sampled at the top of the track "Professor Booty" off the Beastie Boys' CHECK YOUR HEAD.

I discovered this through this website that has annotated lyrics of all the Beastie Boys albums. Naturally, I went straight to NetFlix and added WILD STYLE to my queue.

Wild Style is a fascinating document. It's a narrative feature film but the narrative is exceptionally spare. Mostly filled with non-actors, essentially playing themselves. (It plays out like a Larry Clark film without the exploitation and gratuitous sex.)

The purpose of the film is to shine a light on a remarkable scene that was emerging in New York City. People may call this "the first hip hop film", but it's more than that.

It documents a unique moment of NYC history in the late-70s/early-80s with

+ the emergence of hip hop
+ the rise of graffiti culture in NYC
+ the convergence of street graffiti and high art

Thing about graffiti during this period was that it was a real art. Artists used subways as huge, moving canvases. There were places in the city where you could watch your art speed by.

It was when the city started cracking down on graffiti—policing stations, cleaning up the trains—that the canvas space got a lot more limited. Artists got more territorial with prime real estate. That's when the gang violence flared up. Wild Style takes place before that started to happen. In a way, a more hopeful time... despite the bleak state of the city. The movie's an amazing trip through time.

All the "actors" were amateurs but one person stands out...

Lady Pink.

AKA, Sandra Fabara. Pictured here working with Jenny Holzer in 1983.

Completely adorable in the movie. While almost everyone else seems a bit stilted with their performances in the movie (like cats forced to wear clothes), there's something sweet and genuine about her. (Lady Pink interview.)

Another heavenly vision on the film...

Patti Astor.

Former ballet dancer. Revolutionary with ties to the Black Panthers. NYC underground film star in the 70s (working with directors like Jim Jarmusch). Astor became a link between the street graffiti artists and the high art scene. A bleach-blond traffic-stopper. Pictured below with Fab 5 Freddy, who was one of the driving forces behind Wild Style (and does commentary on the DVD with director Charlie Ahearn).

Of course, she's born the same year as my mother... and time does a number on you...

When you've got 8 minutes free, check out this great little video covering Patti Astor and her legendary FUN Gallery:

Patti Astor interview.

Alas, who needs art galleries anymore when everybody's got blogs??

(I really should get out more...)

Monday, July 06, 2009

I'm Afraid of Americans

Yes, a movie adaptation of the classic late-70s arcade game "Asteroids" might seem far-fetched. There was no storyline in the game. The protagonist was a triangle that blasted rocks. In the formative years of the videogame industry, play mechanics trumped stories. I'm working on another project with the producers who are doing the Asteroids movie; no idea what they're thinking, but you can cook up all sorts of outer-space conceits and attach the "Asteroids" brand, so I'm sure they've got something cooking.

No, the cake-taker for far-fetched movie ideas is the "View-Master" movie.

Yes, there are a bunch of classic boardgames being developed into movies lately (Battleship, Candyland, Monopoly), but those boardgames all have *some* sense of narrative in them. Even Ouija has a narrative that could be built from its spare source... it's a witchboard used to communicate with the dead, after all...

But "View-Master"...?

First let me say, I don't buy into all the internet bellyaching over the dearth of creativity in Hollywood. I think it takes far MORE creativity to try to conjure a workable feature film out of some of these spare intellectual properties. Adapting a book is relatively easy: the story's all there. What if your job was to create a dramatic feature-length film out of "Connect Four"? THAT's a real challenge.

The movie studios are parts of big corporations that are looking to maximize their profits. They snap up the rights to these seemingly strange properties NOT because they're all inherently cinematic but because there's instant BRAND RECOGNITION. That's the business end that looks bizarre/absurd from the consumer end. But the fact is, generations have grown up playing with these games/toys. The business wants to capitalize on that level of recognition.

And yet... I admit, I'm stumped by the challenge of creating a "View-Master" movie. Even "Scrabble" can generate a sense of drama.

A "View-Master" is a toy that has no story of its own. It shows still-pictures of other stories. It'd be like trying to make a movie out of "DVD Player" or "Walkman": these are inherently character-less machines that play content but are absolutely useless on their own.

But if I had to speculate... I'd hazard to guess that the movie will involve a *magical* View-Master of some sort...

Sunday, July 05, 2009

What's Trent Reznor Twittering?


(This is funny on many levels.)

Monorail Has a Posse

Monorail crash @ Disney World last night at 2am!!!

21 year-old conductor "cast member" perished. No civilians injured.

This is what Disney World gets for buying their monorails from a con-artist.

This seems like an appropriate time to introduce, the world's most comprehensive source of amusement ride accident reports—with a record of U.S. ride fatalities dating back to 1972.

This monorail tragedy is happening on the heels of Sarah Palin's abrupt resignation from public office. Coincidence?? Far be it from me to cast wild speculations out into the sanctity of the internets but HARD QUESTIONS MUST BE ASKED!!

And how might this be related to Madonna's Michael Jackson tribute last night? Wholly unrelated, you say? Oh, if I could only see the world through your rose-colored glasses...

Caveat emptor, boys and ghouls.

Saturday, July 04, 2009


IMHO, the best latter-career Michael Jackson song *and* video is "Scream". That brilliant Janet & Michael number. Directed by the great Mark Romanek (my favorite music video director of all bloody time).

Romanek is terrific at exploiting an artist's unique appeal. In "Scream", he manages to perfectly capture Michael Jackson's anime-like features. Unlike Martin Scorsese's "Bad" wherein MJ seems miscast as a tough-guy in his own video, or any of the videos that try to cast MJ as a skirt-chasing lothario, Romanek doesn't try to unnaturally thug up Michael Jackson. Instead, he enhances Michael Jackson's strengths/essence: his doll-like features, his sense of alienation, his undeniable dance skills. Romanek understands the unique art-form of music videos. He's not trying to make a short film. In that way, he excels where the big-name feature directors fall a bit short in the medium.

There is so much brilliant, iconic imagery throughout "Scream". The black-and-white, blown-out spaceship aesthetic helps to normalize MJ's latter-day pale-skin: he doesn't look as out-of-place as he does in his other videos. He looks so otherworldly, it makes sense to see him on a spacecraft. Romanek knows how to make someone look good.

Romanek also managed to create a video that looks utterly gorgeous but also somehow humanizes both Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson in a way they both needed. You get the sense that Michael and Janet had *fun* making this. Glimpses of sibling rivalry/one-up-manship. A playfulness that seems more real than in most of their other clips.

The Warhol reference is apt in the video. This is some serious pop art. It's a shame that MJ didn't have more genuine hits of this caliber later in his life. The video and song are super-slick but they also seem strangely heartfelt.

The video simultaneous casts Michael Jackson as an alien and humanizes him. Quite a feat.