Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Thursday, August 25, 2005

I'm sorry, what type of book is it again?

From the Grauniad's rundown of the contenders for its own First Book Award:

To a Fault
Nick Laird

Poems of family and identity by a talented new Irish poet. Poetry


The Comic Spoiler

No, not this Spoiler...
From the top-notch comics reviews site The Fourth Rail:

It sounds ludicrous that the villains, or at least some of the villains, of this piece are a pack of naked girls, but their attack on the world at large this issue is bloody and certainly freak-out scary and disturbing, and the revelation of what motivates them on the last page is chilling.

I hate that. I have no desire to go and buy the comic in question (Girls #4), I'm not even motivated to download the thing, but that paragraph up there really makes me want to know exactly what's so bloody interesting on that last page. Someone should be doing a comics version of The Movie Spoiler, and if they already are, someone should be telling me where it is.

[UPDATE: it seems that someone has done a comics spoiler site, although it's focussed on this summer's big crossovers, and I have absolutely zero interest in those. It's an admirable effort to undermine the money-grabbing crossover psychology, though. I approve of that.]

Hey! I love your blog! I have a proctology blog here!

So far, I haven't been hit by the pervading sickness that is blog spam, which leads me to suspect that it's somehow tied in with popularity and number of existing comments, as I don't get any from real people either.


I had a look through Blogger's so-called "help" files and found a possible (although clunky) solution here, so consider this a public service announcement for all my blogging friends.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Trash talking

One of my great pleasures is watching trashy late night television, particularly the terrible movies that crop up past midnight. Now, seeing as a great deal of the nonsense I enjoy comes from America, you'd think that it would be a paradise for me, but not so. There is a lot of late night rubbish on, but it's usually dating shows or those celebrity judge things. Rarely is it a bit of low-budget scifi programming or a crappy movie. Most of the time, in fact, it's those three-hour long infomercial things. Blech. But last night was a bumper crop.

I started off with The Ring of the Musketeers, which starred David Hasslehoff (complete with mullet and moustache), the blonde Nazi scientist from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Cheech from Cheech and Chong, and some European fellow apparently cloned from Michael Bolton, playing the modern-day descendants of the Three Musketeers (and d'Artagnan). Assembled by Gimli (did he share any scenes with the blonde Nazi in Last Crusade?), who operates from a "castle" in the Los Angeles area which looks suspiciously like a hotel, they zoom about on motorbikes wearing matching frilly silk shirts and leather jackets (with TASSLES!), fighting organised crime in the musketeer way. Except there's no swordfighting, and certainly no musketeering, so they're not particularly musketeery. As you can probably tell, it was utter bobbins, but exactly the kind of stuff I enjoy in my trashy cinema; an utterly bonkers concept married to really dodgy production values. There was one bit where there was one of those fades that implies a stretch of time between scenes, but the next scene had the characters standing in exactly the same positions, as if musketeers have the magical ability to stand motionless for hours on end as they wait for gangsters to appear from nightclubs. Also, the big villain of the movie was killed, off-screen, by someone with no connection to the musketeers at all, a finale which must violate some law of plot construction.

All for one..

Because being a musketeer is my passion, and a life without passion is no life at all. - wise words from David Hasslehoff as John Smith d'Artagnan

I hung around after that in the hopes of more rubbish, but instead got the beginning of some three-hour epic about a hellish device that bleaches your carpet, so I hopped, and found Robocop 2 showing on a local channel! Hurrah! American telly scheduling is very odd to an outsider, and one of the strange quirks is how channels show movies; if a network has paid for the rights to show a film, they're damn well going to make sure that they get their money's worth and that the maximum number of people possible will see their acquisition. In practice, what this means is that the same film will get shown again and again in a short period of time; about a year or so ago one of the channels was showing Star Trek IV: The One With The Whales once a week for about three months. Anyway, Robocop 2 was on a couple of weeks ago, but for whatever reason I didn't watch it then. But I wasn't going to pass up such a sweet deal twice in a row! Oh no!

[UPDATE: as if to illustrate my point, The Ring of the Musketeers is on again this afternoon! Except it's on a completely different channel to the one it was on last night. Bizarre...]

I remember Robocop 2 being utter codswallop, which is why I was so pleased to see it on, but in fact it's a lot better than I recalled. As any fule kno, the original Robocop might look like an overly violent 80's American action movie, but in actual fact is also a biting satire on 80's America. Notice I said "also", because Robocop really is an overly violent 80's American action movie, just one with a brain. The sequel isn't as satirical as the original, but it's actually quite clever in its own way, and surprisingly subtle about it. It's also a much better action film than its predecessor, perhaps because it's much more honest about being a superhero movie. The original Robocop is quite obviously a superhero origin story (and incidentally the best Judge Dredd film that never got made) in terms of plot, but never really feels like a superhero movie, which is probably why most people don't recognise it as such. But Robocop 2 doesn't act coy about it and offers up some top-notch superheroic action. Which shouldn't come as a surprise, given that it's written by Frank "The Tank" Miller, he of good-Batman, good-Daredevil and pretty-much-consistently-good-Sin City fame. It's top-notch stuff, and as such probably shouldn't be counted as late night trash at all. It makes me wonder whether Robocop 3 (also written by The Tank, and featuring FLYING ROBOT NINJAS as I recall) is as bad as I remember it being.

After that, I was prepared to turn in, but the same channel followed up with an episode of Magnum, p.i. and you know I can't turn that down. It was from the seventh season, and I don't think I've ever seen an episode from that late in the run (I left Blighty before Channel Five got that far, and Channel 45 here shows them in a weird order, and at weird times apparently). The episode concerned an ex-cop's quest for revenge on the murderer of his eight-year old granddaughter, and it was dark. I don't expect an episode with such subject matter to be a barrel of laughs, but still, I don't think I've ever seen an episode of this show that's so grim. Most of it was filmed at night, in seedy neighbourhoods, with a soundtrack that had a dirty grimy feel to it, and the whole thing came across as really nihilistic. Still a good episode though, and the ex-cop was played by a thuggish Frank Sinatra, which was a bit bizarre.

On to less trashy stuff now, and gosh, I'm a lucky little boy! Not only is the best Batman film finally being given a special edition, but I found out this week that Transformers: The Movie is getting a special edition release too! Huzzah! There's a lot of talk over the technical specifications of the video transfer on this dvd because apparently the original film, although it was intended for cinemas (where I first saw it as a wee nipper), was made in a 4:3 aspect ratio (that's the almost-square shape of most tellies). That's just so strange and bizarre that I'd like one of the filmites (James? Liam? Monsignor Nagl?) to explain why that might be.

The Fundamental Mystery Of Being

I understand the phishing emails, the financial scams from Africa, and the ones with the fake attachments that actually download cyclopean horrors from the planet Yuggoth onto your hard drive, but those spam mails that don't ask you to buy stuff, or download stuff or anything, what are those for?

I mean, are those genuine, albeit completely unwanted, offers? What do the spammers gain from sending me this stuff, when there's no way for me to reply to (or buy stuff off) them? This mystery has been taking up an inordinate amount of my brain's processing time.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Reed Richards is a C**T!

My ground-breaking and controversial article Reed Richards is a C**T! (or, Karmic Imbalance in the Fantastic Four) is now up at SilverBulletComics.

Actually, it's not that ground-breaking or particularly controversial, but I hope it's entertaining at the very least. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

When I say run...

I don't normally do this kind of thing, but it's Doctor Who, so...

The Second Doctor

You are the Second Doctor: Affable, impish, and
fond of simple pleasures as well as simple
pranks. Your mischievous exterior camouflages a
powerful mind and a great deal of courage.
Although you care nothing for appearances, you
place a high value on the bonds of true and
lasting friendship.

Which Incarnation of the Doctor Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

I suppose that's broadly appropriate.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Funny Comic Panel Of The Week, Part 410


He's not lying either. Tough old bastard. From Hellboy: The Island #1 (2005).

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The War

The preliminary strike came without warning, and so subtle was it that even when we woke up the next day to find our lives shattered and changed beyond recognition, no one was really sure what had happened. All we knew was that we had been attacked and that Marathon was now Snickers.

The unknown enemy attacked once more, and Opal Fruits were taken from us forever. By the time of the third assault, and the brave but futile last stand of Oil of Ulay, we knew that it was the Americans that were doing this to us. How could we resist such a powerful enemy?

With the surprise liberation of Coco Pops, the tide turned, and our chiefs began planning a retaliatory strike. A similar attack on the enemy's foodstuffs would be obvious and difficult to pull off, so we looked elsewhere for a suitable target. Then one bright spark remembered that the one thing Americans loved more than their food was their television. With a new focus, plans began to form.

The operation has been so successful that I don't think the Americans have fully realised what's hit them. Their television networks have been dealt a crippling blow, and it's only a matter of time before the whole thing crumbles around their ears. With special operatives Tim Vincent, Vernon Kaye and Johnny Vaughan now in key positions, it looks like the end for American television.

All-New! All-Different!

I've tidied up a bit around here. Nothing major, but a lot of the functions and features I was emulating via half-inched jerry-rigged chunks of code and third-party plugins have since been incorporated into Blogger, so I've rejigged and updated things a bit. One of the casualties has been the comments system, so if you've left a message in the past couple of days, it's gone missing. Sorry.

Funny Comic Panel Of The Week, Part 317

And you thought it was just an amusing one-off. Foolish humans.

Call me Dan

Spider-Man and Dan Aykroyd appearing together on Saturday Night Live, from Marvel Team-Up #74(1978). Also appearing are Aykroyd's Ghostbusters co-star Bill Murray and the late John Belushi who, appropriately enough, has a fight with the Silver Samurai.

And I've just noticed while typing this up that I've spelled his name as "Ackroyd" all these years, when in fact it's spelled quite differently. Odd.

And I've also just noticed while typing this up that Aykroyd wore a jacket like that in Ghostbusters. Odder.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Have you ever danced with the Devil in the pale moonlight?


Batman Special Edition

  • All-new digital transfer

  • Audio Commentary by director Tim Burton

  • On the Set With Bob Kane

  • Legends of the Dark Knight: The History of Batman - The Batman comic book saga as reinvented and reinterpreted over nearly seven decades

  • Shadows of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of the Dark Knight Parts 1-3

    • The Road to Gotham City

    • The Gathering Storm

    • The Legend Reborn

  • Beyond Batman Documentary Gallery

    • Visualizing Gotham: The Production Design of Batman

    • Building the Batmobile

    • Those Wonderful Toys: The Props and Gadgets of Batman

    • Designing the Batsuit

    • From Jack to the Joker

    • Nocturnal Overtures: The Music of Batman

  • Music videos by Prince: Batdance, Partyman and Scandalous

  • The Heroes and The Villains Profile Galleries

  • Batman: The Complete Robin Storyboard Sequence

  • Theatrical trailer

No word on the reinstatement of the "is it Halloween?" deleted scene though (it was in the theatrical cut, but was mysteriously absent from all home versions).
This is probably my favourite superhero film (it's in a constant three-way tie with Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2), and one of my favourite films full stop, so it's great to finally see a decent dvd transfer, let alone one bursting with extras. October 18th 2005, for those interested in Christmas present ideas...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Boutros Boutros-Ghali

Meg moved all our furniture a while ago, and it meant that we had to retune the television. One channel that we didn't get when the thing was six feet from where it is now was the local Spanish-language channel. They appear to show three types of programme: soap operas (mostly akin to the glossy American ones), utterly demented entertainment shows (Noel's House Party on LSD), and football. Lots and lots of football. Granted, I don't understand a word of it, and since it's probably the the Mexican League or something, I don't recognise any of the teams or players, but it's free footie on the telly. I don't even get that at home.

There's also this bloke who turns up, apparently randomly, during commercial breaks to presumably report the football results. Again, I don't know if that's actually what he's doing as I can't understand a word of Spanish, but he talks over footage of goal celebrations and the like, so I assume that he's some sort of Central American Des Lynam. He pops up for literally about fifteen seconds, enough to talk over a tiny bit of footage from a game, and then signs off with a military salute. I can't help but think of Chanel 9.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

A note for the proper author

You can be as clever and postmodern as you like with the writing; in fact I welcome it. It makes things interesting after all. You can have complex, ambiguous plots and characters. All of these are great. But please, please, try to remember that a story needs a beginning, a middle, and an end. See, if you're being all clever about your writing, but can't actually put a story together, then you're just wanking in print, aren't you?