Thursday, August 24, 2006

I THINK HINDERAKER WAS RECEIVING PREMONITIONS OF THE DEATH OF THE INTERNETS: And not the actual meatspace Apocalypse, because (and I know it's a few days after August 22) we finally have the blog post dumb enough to cause the Internet to cave in on itself. Via John Cole (who now has his own HOCB-like fan site.)

Friday, August 18, 2006

"THE PHYSICS OF THIS.....MAKE NO SENSE"*: It would be difficult for MacGyver to blow up a plane with carry-on items, never mind a collection of halfwits. Via Swopa.

*One of Crow T. Robot's better lines from Escape 2000.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

WAR STORIES: Lebanese army offers tea to Israeli "invaders."

At one point in the video, Daoud and an Israeli soldier have the following exchange, as translated by CNN's Octavia Nasr:

Daoud: "Don't we need to tell our bosses?"

Israeli soldier: "Tell whoever you want."

Daoud: "We need to brief them on what happened."

Israeli soldier: "We briefed (U.S. President) Bush. You brief whoever you want."

Daoud: "We need to brief Bush too."

THE STRANGE CHARM OF TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE: Is there a more inexplicable actual good movie than this? It's not a great film. It would be deeply silly to consider it a great film. But three out of four stars? 7 out of 10 on the IMDB scale? Yeah, that's about right. It's energetic. It's hyperviolent. There's graphic robot death. The voice cast is superb. Orson Welles' presence lends it a weird credibility. It's definitely not--not, not, a thousand times not--a flawed masterpiece like many of Welles' films ended up being. But does it deserve its place in the cult film pantheon? Oh yes.

My theory is that this film is the grafting of Heavy Metal onto an 80s children's cartoon. Unlike the other megapopular Hasbro property of the 80s, G.I. Joe, Transformers had a mostly robot cast. And as is true with Saturday morning cartoons to this day, you can kill all the robots you wants and rating boards won't care. Heavy Metal was still state-of-the-art (North) American animation back in '86 (or so my theory goes.) Or, its aesthetic was, bleak and bloody and vaguely realistic. American animators were no longer trying to be Disney, and it was still pre-Akira, so they weren't trying to be Japanese--it was the Heavy Metal interregnum.

So you have this dark aesthetic. You have a cast full of robots that you know you can get away with killing. So you--you being the Sunbow braintrust who came up with this thing, in whose mouths I am putting words--say to yourself, "Hey--let's have Starscream blasted into ash! Let's melt down robots in a acid pit while they scream in pain! Let's kill off a whole planet populated by robots--and we'll show some robot children about to be sucked away just to drive the point home! It's ok--they're robots!" It's dark science fantasy as applied to a children's cartoon. It's bold what they did, and I'm amazed Hasbro agreed to it (and think it more likely they didn't know what was going on.) And I think it's why it's sustained itself for so long as a memorable film, but it's also why it died at the box office--kids are not amused by robots being fed to robot sharks, nor parents by having to explain why Optimus Prime had to die (a complete different kind of explanation than--say--why Bambi's mom had to die, something American parents are a little more prepared for.)

Yeah. It's a cult film with an especially vocal cult, but most cult films do deserve a portion of their worship.

EDIT: Oh, I forgot the other Heavy Metal connection: the very long-haired, leather-pants-wearing soundtrack, performed by 80s bands who weren't even one-hit wonders. Not that the Heavy Metal soundtrack was like that, but it's another way Transformers is a juvenile interpretation of Heavy Metal. I mean, it even has Weird Al's Devo tribute 'Dare To Be Stupid' as a major song (Devo being one of the Heavy Metal bands.)

EDIT 2: The always reliable Wikipedia: Welles hated the film. Shortly before he died, he told his biographer, Barbara Leaming, that he had spent the day "playing a toy" in a movie about toys who "do horrible things to each other." He could not remember the name of the film and referred to it as a movie about a line of toys from Japan. Toys doing horrible things to other toys! Welles got it.
"SOMEONE WHO WAS BORN ON THIRD BASE AND THINKS HE HIT A TRIPLE": The Frog's briandtw on Bill Simmons and his World Series of Poker column. And yet--I can still not get completely on board with the Simmons hatred that is more or less Internet conventional wisdom at this point. The man still does a better (or at least, more entertaining) team-by-team NBA preview than anyone else I can think of. Of course, being one of the twelve or so NBA fans left, my priorities are not in the mainstream.
FOR GOD'S SAKE, JOURNAMALISTS: Is it that hard to track down the JonBenet murderer's ex-wife and confirm that 1. she really is his ex-wife and 2. she's really claiming he was with her, and five states away, during the Christmas of 1996? All I've seen are reports documenting one appearance on one TV station. Followup, please.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

THE LAST TIME I WENT TO DUNKIN DONUTS: Was the first time the people there knew me well enough to have my coffee ready for me exactly like I like it (extra large, cream, two Splendas) before I walked in the door (since they can see me pull up.)

And now I haven't been there in like six weeks. Stupid sudden bout with cheapness.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

IN MEMORIAM OF WENDELL VAUGHN, 2006 EDITION: Yes--Quasar died for the twenty-first time in the last issue of Annihilation: Nova. He went out like a punk, as usual, since the quantum bands are only the most powerful objects in the Marvel Universe when Mark Gruenwald is writing them. But: in this Dave's Longbox thread devoted to Infinity Gauntlet #4 (which contained another of Quasar's deaths) Tim O'Neil links to his own appreciation of Gruenwald's Quasar, which is worth reading if you're a Quasar doubter (I understand from Dave's thread that there are many) and essential reading if you're a Gruenwald fan. Tim picks up on something I've been thinking of lately: Wendell Vaughn is Marvel's version of Morrison's Animal Man:

Some of the most memorable moments from Quasar were moments like those, dedicated basically to exploring the unenlightened corners of the Marvel Universe, and exploring the very nature of fictional universes. How are fictional characters created Â? and at what point do characters take on a life of their own? Shades of Animal Man! How do Gods Â? or at least near-Gods Â? die? Who mourns the passing of cosmic beings? How about the birth and creation of cosmic deities? How are comic book universes structured Â? what separates mere alternate realities from entirely separate multiverses, like the Marvel Universe and the New Universe? Some of these questions might seem a bit wonkish, but GruenwaldÂ?s enthusiasm for these cosmic questions was truly contagious. As preposterous as it sounds, he believed every bit of it, he believed that it mattered, on some level, and that by answering one deep question of comic book lore he only asked a dozen more.
Kind of Morrisonian concerns, you know? This of course means Gruenwald wrote the Marvel versions of Watchmen AND Animal Man--probably an irreproducible creative feat.

Monday, August 07, 2006

NON-WHITE PEOPLE IN THE QUARTERBACK POSITION: Something HarpoGarza mentioned in this DVDVR thread: Did last night's Hall of Fame Game set the record for minority people playing quarterback? Donovan McNabb, Aaron Brooks, Marques Tuiasosopo, and Timmy Chang--four people who don't resemble Johnny Unitas at all. As Harpo said, interesting. I don't know what it means, but it's interesting.

(Timmy didn't look super great last night, either, and I can't imagine Andy Reid cutting Detmer--who has been there a million years--in favor of Chang. Just go to the CFL already, Timmy! It's the WAC with 12 men on a side!)
BLACKER SMOKE MEANS....MEANS.....THE LEFT IS TERRAISTS!: If you wanted an explainer about the Reuters doctored photos thing, here is Brad R.

Also: Gavin M. and Eric Muller uncover additional--and systemic--photo-doctoring by The Left.
I LOVE BEING REMINDED OF THIS STORY: NBA still paying television revenue to the Silna brothers, former owners of the ABA's Spirits of St Louis. Via the Frog.
A WIZARDWORLD PHOTO: Here. The best part is Doom's "oh my!" pose.

Friday, August 04, 2006