26 December 2008

Neglect

I know I haven't been writing much lately. I won't bore you with excuses. I have a feeling that will change sometime soon. The stories that inspire this blog are coming back with new chapters. Soon we will find out if the O6 will get back, and how Jeremy Bentham died; we'll find out the identity of the 5th Cylon and what happened to Earth. Jack is coming back, and so is (Coletta Factor: promo for new 24) Tony Almeida! 24 will feature none other than Tony Todd, who, aside from numerous awesomely memorable roles on Star Trek, will forever be remembered as that bayou-born slasher from the beyond, Candyman. Barack Obama will be inaugurated, and the inevitable conflict begins: the progressives who feel they are owed the world because of the Bush years will resist all of Obama's moves toward the center.

Christmas? Oh, Christmas was awesome. Saw my family, my girlfriend's family, who absolutely loved me, natch, got some good christmas loot: a new journal, a book or two, a jigsaw puzzle based on the Valenzetti Equation. Had some awesome food, got a stocking full of candy.

Ok, next time: The real life Jeremy Bentham created a type of prison called the Panopticon, the purpose of which is to make all prisoners visible to an observer at all times, creating the "sentiment of an invisible omniscience. Read about it here.

17 December 2008

What's been happening??

Well, I've been stressed out, frustrated, I hate my job. My hands are on fire again, and it's Xmas time. The governor of Illinois got busted for corruption, the economy continues its downward spiral, Bush got shoes thrown at him, ha ha. I'm trading my Wii for an Xbox 360, with a bunch of games. I'm getting older and balder, and I want to shave my head again. Speaking of which, OJ got sent up the river for a loooong time for being stupid. This space may be monitored by my employers. Caroline Kennedy may become a senator from New York. The siege of Mumbai lasted 3 days. Volume 3 of Heroes is over, Season 5 of Lost is due to start the day after Obama takes over, which may be too late for him to save us from a Great Depression. The guy who threw the shoes at Bush was beaten. He suffered a broken arm, broken ribs, and internal bleeding. Merry Christmas, everyone!!!

10 December 2008

post script: Hellride

Hellride comes to you with Quentin Tarantino's name plastered on the box. I remember going to see Hostel 2; some old dude got up and stormed out about halfway through, muttering to himself, "Tarantino will put his name on anything." I disagreed with the old dude, and by the way, why would you go to Hostel 2, knowing full well what kind of film it is, then storm out in mock disgust? Anyway, Tarantino's imprimatur and the trailer for this film, this "Hellride," made me think it would be Grindhouse 1.5, an updating of an old exploitation genre, with cool characters and snappy dialogue. The only problem with this film is Larry Bishop. The fatal problem with this film is that Larry Bishop wrote, directed, and stars in Hellride.

Larry must have known that he couldn't keep up with Michael Madsen as the Gent, so he created for Madsen so one-sided and lame a character that Bishop's character, "Pistolero," looked even more the hero. Ditto Eric Balfour, David Carradine, et tu, Dennis Hopper? Vinnie Jones? Really? Everyone except Bishop is slumming in this film.

It's your basic 12 year old male fantasy: Loud motorcycles, girls, gun violence, knife fights, the good guys are always solidly one crucial step ahead of the bad guys. Bishop plays the "pres" of the gang, of course, an ugly, rather brutish guy who gets all the girls and kills all the bad guys. This film is one of the most self-aggrandizing, fantasy fulfillment, I'll-never-get-that-105-minutes-back, bullshit movies I have ever seen. It's not even funny-bad, it's just lame-bad.

09 December 2008

Calling in sick


Sorry, boss, I can't come to work today. I have a Netflix, I mean stomachache.

I need a new game-droid!


Sorry, Nintendo Wii, it's not you, it's me. I'm not 8 years old, and I sometimes want to play grown-up games, like Halo and GTA IV. I enjoyed Boom Blox and Super Mario Galaxy; Wii Sports was cool for a week or two. It's not all me, though. There are so few games that really take advantage of your motion sensing technology. I'm selling you to the first person that comes along, and when I have that 300 bucks in my hand and you're going home with a stranger, I'll be off to the store to get myself a brand new Xbox 360. I know it's hard for you to hear this, Wii, but I don't want to string you along. Better to just do it quick, like ripping off a band-aid. We had some good times, but they were too few and far between.


Get ready, upstairs neighbors!!!! Rock Band is coming to Toasterville!

08 December 2008

Calling in sick



Sorry, boss, I can't come to work today. There has been a mass breakout at Azkaban, the Dementors are no longer under ministry control, and I am scared that I might be a target.

07 December 2008

Calling in sick

Sorry, boss, I can't come to work today. My Kryptonian girlfriend won't let me leave.

04 December 2008

Calling in sick



Sorry, boss, I can't come to work today. You see, when I was a child, I had a fever. My hands felt just like two balloons, and now I've got that feeling once again. I can't explain, you would not understand. This is not how I am.

03 December 2008

Calling in sick


Sorry, boss, I can't come to work today. My flying car crashed into a tree and my wand broke and now I'm burping up slugs.

40 minutes later...

I heard a persistent, painful squeal, like EEEK! ToasterCat caught the mouse again. This time I saved the wee beastie. I chased the cat away a bit, picked up the mouse and brought him outside. ToasterCat might be mad, but she's had enough fun, and it's no fun trying to go to sleep while an animal is fighting for its life in your house.

Natural selection on display


My kitty, called ToasterCat, caught a mouse tonight. I heard her meowing, which she does a fair amount, but never in the middle of the night. I poked my head out my bedroom door and she came trotting in with the wee beastie in her mouth. She put it down and let it think it would get away and then she pounced on it. I didn't want her to do it in my room, so I shooed her out, and she took the mouse with her. I'm not really into animal killing, but she deserves a little fun. She used to be 1 of 4 cats in the house, now she's the only one. I think she misses having friends to play and fight with. I tried after a few minutes to save the mouse. I caught it on a TIME magazine, (I didn't want to touch it,) but it fell off before I could bring it outside. After another few minutes, the mouse got away on its own, probably ran behind the stove or something.
It's Darwin, it's the order of things. That's why I don't get fussed about eating meat. Cats frak with mice, coyotes try to kill roadrunners, and people eat cheeseburgers.

02 December 2008

Calling in sick



Sorry, boss, I can't...oh, wait, it's my day off. Never mind. I'll just be rocking out all day.

01 December 2008

Calling in sick


Sorry, boss, I can't come to work today. It's just an invitation to the blues.

29 November 2008

Calling in sick



Sorry, boss, I can't come to work today. Someone found and destroyed all my horcruxes.

Calling in sick



Sorry boss, I can't come to work today. My hot air balloon got stuck in a tree.

27 November 2008

"Does it make a difference, being Muggle-born?"

Photobucket
The reports of what actually happened are, as you would expect, fragmented and indefinite, but it appears as though a group of armed jihadists arrived in Mumbai on a rubber dinghy last night, stormed the city and started shooting people. They made their way to a cafe, a cinema, and 2 luxury hotels, in the lobbies of which they threw grenades and rounded up people with US and UK passports. They attacked the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai's biggest train station, which is pictured above.

The pictures coming out of there are terrible. As of now, mid-morning in Mumbai, 1am here, in the words of an unnamed Indian official, "[T]he situation is still not under control." The police have killed some of the attackers, captured others, but it appears that some are still at large in the Oberoi Trident hotel. An unknown number of people, including some reporters with cell-phones or laptops, are trapped in their rooms.

This is a modern city, a tourist spot, a business center, the home of Bollywood. What if it happened here? This shit has got to stop. Humanity is capable of so much more, if only we could get rid of our Dick Cheney lizard brains. Read a foreign newspaper. Introduce yourself to someone of a different color. Talk to people you disagree with, and listen to them. Your god is no better than another's, and neither one wants you to kill for him.

Come on, people, smile on your brother. Everybody, get together and love one another. Right now.

let's play 'funny not funny'!

Photobucket

26 November 2008

Calling in sick, volume 1


Sorry, boss, I can't come to work today. I fell off a cliff in a mining accident.

What my left hand looked like, or why I went to the Emergency room on a Sunday morning...


It actually looked a little worse. My fingers got all swollen and the skin on them was glowing a cherry red. There was so much oozy stuff coming out of the pores that I had to rinse it in cold water every 5 minutes. This had been an ongoing situation since at least my birthday this year. It also happened 2 winters ago. It had been bad, but the last three days before I went to the ER were torture. I didn't play Guitar Hero at all, and I couldn't type. That's one of the reasons you haven't heard from me in a while.
Why did this happen, you ask? Well, it seems that the device in the mop sink at work that regulates the concentration of the sanitizer solution has been on the fritz, dispensing it at twice the recommended amount.
MY JOB IS KILLING ME SLOWLY...

20 November 2008

"Did you ever have a job that you hated and worked real hard at? A long, hard day of work. Finally you get to go home, get in bed, close your eyes and immediately you wake up and realize... that the whole day at work had been a dream. It's bad enough that you sell your waking life for minimum wage, but now they get your dreams for free. "

--Guy Forsyth, Waking Life

"Last week I would've given a kidney to anyone in this office. I would've reached right into my stomach and pulled it out for them, but now, no. I don't have the relationship with these people that I thought I did. I hope they ask so they can hear me say, 'Uhh... no, I only give my organs to my real friends. Go get yourself a monkey kidney.' "

--Michael Scott, The Office (US)

I always wanted to be a children's illustrator and when people said, "What do you do?" I would say, "Well, I'm an illustrator, but I do some reception work for a little bit of extra cash." So, for years, I was an illustrator who did some reception work. Then Lee thought it would be a good idea for us both to get full-time jobs and then you're knackered after work and it's hard to do illustrating. So now, when people ask me what I do, I say I'm a receptionist.

--Dawn Tinsley, The Office (UK)

12 November 2008

Affleck as Olbermann

Couldn't resist sharing this one with you:


It's about love...

Keith Olbermann, 2 nights ago on Countdown: I couldn't have said it better. BTW, did you see Ben Affleck's Olbermann skit on SNL? Look it up, it's hilarious.

10 November 2008

Good news, everyone!


Bush's Last Day is nearly upon us! The clock at the left will tick off the days, minutes, and seconds until the cheerleader cowboy war criminal goes back to Texas with approval ratings solidly below freezing.

In his place will be Barack Obama, America's first black president, if you don't count Bill Clinton or the fictional President David Palmer from 24, the latter of whom I am certain helped to pave the way in the American psyche to elect Obama. This is awesome news. Not only do we get the chance to make the most solid improvement in race relations since the Civil Rights era, but we get an intellectual, a man who wants to surround himself with differing opinions, a man who appreciates nuance, a man whose greatest gift seems to be the ability to inspire people to hope for a better tomorrow.

(I'm glad the election is over. I didn't blog about it much after the primaries, but you better believe I followed it almost religiously, and I'm ready for a break from the polls, the electoral maps, the talking heads with their talking points, and the most annoying Rachel Maddow. I agree with her on mostly everything, but, Gaaah!)

{COLETTA FACTOR: LOST-CURRENT}

But that's not all. 20 January is the Inauguration. 21 January marks the return of Lost, now heading strongly into its 5th and penultimate season. I am so frakkin excited about this. How did Locke get off the Island? How did he die? Where did the Island go when Ben turned the frozen donkey wheel? What happened to Claire? Will Des and Penny get their Happily Ever After, or will Ben succeed in avenging himself upon Widmore for the murder of the lovely Alex? Is Christian Shepherd alive? Also, what the frak is up with that giant 4-toed foot? It's been 2 years since they dropped that little nugget on us, and neither hide nor hair of an explanation has been given. (Unless it has, and we just don't see it) What of the Chang video from this summer's comic-con?

My goal: to be in a new job by the time I sit down on that Wednesday night with a certain pixie by my side. I'll let you know how it turns out.

08 November 2008

I would blog more, but

I hate my fucking job; it makes me so angry I can't think straight; I come home and the only thing I can do is relax and try to forget why I'm so pissed off. To my employers, who may or may not be spying on this blog: kindly FUCK OFF!!

30 October 2008

let's play 'funny not funny'!


funny not funny

Here's a sample: "With Potter teaching sorcery to the children, their guard is down when they get to college where almost every campus sports an occultic coven waiting for them. "

24 October 2008

Thursday night funnies...




Have you been watching "The Office" this season? I hated the very idea of it for so long; I thought the original British version was perfect and saw no reason to butcher it by translating it across the pond. Guess what, I was wrong--it's frakkin' funny! Sitcoms have been a dead art for years now, with very few exceptions, i.e. "Arrested Development", "30 Rock", and this American version of "The Office". Each of these shows has taken the idea of telling a funny story in 22 minutes and turned it into something new and bizarre and fresh; when you consider that the form has been around for so long and grown so stale, it's pretty impressive. "Arrested Development" was cancelled, despite the protests from the cast, crew, and a large, loyal, and devoted fan base; the latter 2 shows have become the anchor of NBC's Thursday line-up, which has been a juggernaut in the ratings since the days of "Family Ties," "Cheers," and "L.A. Law." 30 Rock comes back next week, and I wanted to talk about "The Office" anyway.

Pam is away in NYC at art school for 3 months; Jim is still in the office. They're engaged and doing the long distance thing, while Michael has been wooing and appears to have won Holly, the new HR rep, who replaced the hapless Toby, who quit to go to Costa Rica and broke his neck on his 3rd day there. Phyllis has replaced Angela as the head of the party planning committee, while Angela is engaged to Andy while sneaking off several times a week to have sex with Dwight in the ware house or the broom closet.

See, the main gimmick of the show is that the characters know they are on camera; the office is the subject of a long-running documentary. They are interviewed throughout in private, where they tell us how they're feeling, what they're doing, etc. This sort of faux-reality TV is very effective because they've taken the time to create real, 3-dimensional characters, people you can care about or dislike or distrust. They're each a little strange, but no stranger than any of the people you work with. Jim and Pam's romance is so well written, and acted brilliantly by John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer, while Steve Carell's and Rainn Wilson's Michael and Dwight are the silliest management team ever.

I'm hesitant to draw direct comparisons between the UK and USA versions of the show. While each show has different versions of basically the same characters, there's a warmth to the American characters that is just missing in its British counterpart. British boss David Brent is a prick through and through; none of the workers really likes him; any consideration they show him is out of obligation or pure pity; he never redeems himself. American boss Michael is actually a very sweet man who has no idea how tactless and offensive his behavior is. Even Tim, the Everyman we're supposed to identify with, really inspires pity first and foremost, while the American Everyman, Jim, has a really endearing sense of humor and is quite likable. Maybe a British audience would identify and like the British characters more; perhaps we Americans just don't get the quiet British desperation in which most men live their lives.

That's not to say that the British version is not awesome. I meant it when I called it perfect. It's just that the American version is awful damn funny.

Did you know Dwight has a blog? Here's a portkey: Dwight's Blog

23 October 2008

Spying

Thanks to Google Analytics, I have found out that this site, my blog, which I maintain in my off hours, has been visited by someone at the headquarters of the corporation for which I work. I saw the name of the city where I know it to be located, and the network location is named for the name of said corporation. I don't know if I should be worried or flattered. I have never mentioned the name of the company here, or at least never admitted that I work for it. I don't talk about my job or what I do, nor have I ever divulged any proprietary information, such as a low level peon such as myself has access to. Those of you, my readers, who know me in real life, know what I do and where I work; some of you work for the same corporate monolith.

It feels like spying, like the thought police. If someone is interested, that's all good, but I find it hard to believe that 99% of my visitors come from my home city, but this one visitor accidentally found my site, just so happening to be on a computer at the headquarters in that unspecified city. If it is spying, I have nothing to hide, and I welcome a conversation from anyone above my paygrade about what gives them the right to check up on my off-hours internet activity.

21 October 2008

Like a lot of things in life, we laugh because it's funny, but we laugh because it's true.

Leonard Cohen lyrics, Vol XXVIII


- Leonard Cohen Lyrics

Saw 5

Really? Saw 5? Really, Hollywood?

This week...



Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama on Meet The Press. It was a good move, the right move, but it's going to take a lot more than that for Powell to redeem himself for his role in the Iraq War. If Obama is elected, Powell should be named Secretary of Defense or State, so he can clean up the mess and act like the honorable man we all hoped he was.


I got a new boss, and let me tell you, it's only been one day, but he's so much better than the old boss. The old boss is going to be one of those people that will make me angry when I think about her for years to come. I'm still looking for a new job. If you are looking to hire a near-genius with zero ambition and a bad attitude, let me know, I think I've got just the guy for you.


British rapper Mike Skinner, whose stage name is "The Streets," released his 4th and supposedly final CD under that name. It's called "Everything Is Borrowed," and I'm really looking forward to hearing it. I loved his first, and the second got me through some pretty tough times. The third one was ok, not great, but he did have the balls to blame the American people for the murder of John Lennon, who was arguably Britain's greatest musical gift to the world. I don't even really like hip-hop anymore, but he's just so damn good!
The Red Sox. (sigh) After their miraculous comeback in game 5 and a near-perfect bullpen performance in game 6, Jed Lowrie grounded into a force-out in the 9th last night, effectively signaling the unofficial start of winter in Boston.
Sarah Palin, despite a pretty good appearance on SNL, continues to be disgustingly unqualified to hold national office. John McCain continues to be hardly any better, although he did get off a great line at the Alfred Smith dinner: "It's gonna be a long night at MSNBC if I win this thing." Both candidates gave great, funny speeches at this event. Google it or search for it on youtube.
It won't be the same, this election night, without Tim Russert. "Florida, Florida, Florida"
Hermione, may I borrow your time-turner?

We help here.

The lights on the right side of the hemoglobinous torturesphere flash affectingly accelerating accolades up into the synaptical nimbusphere. I looked up from the horrifying hologram long enough to catch a beat or two, just a dot and a couple of dashes, job well done, but you're done, son.

The fire on the left side of the spheroid tortureglobin burns brightest at the close of day, at the break of day, in the empty solitary space in between, when the consciousness is unencumbered by strain and rumors of strain. I blinked and missed the heavy dragging boots, the slow methodical lurch of a stranger.

In the middle of a sea of torture-globinous hemospheres, we swim and drown, inhale and exhale, fill the solitary space with our lives like puffer-fish at the sight of a stranger. We love and live and lie and work and help.

They..must..never..know..of..our.....masterpiece

16 October 2008

Homemade campaign video

This is a video that a friend and former roommate put together. It is a rather clever indictment of John McCain and his knowledge, or lack thereof, of the economy. Enjoy!!

14 October 2008

contrasts/measured intensity

stressed out/pissed off
had a key/lost it
medicine good/not working
economy bad/job bad
job search/ no jobs
sleep too much/keep waking up
Red Sox in ALCS/ losing
phone charged/low battery
Ben Linus bad/brought low
Daniel Faraday wicked smart/stranded
Obama winning/Bradley effect
Bush-lame duck/still dangerous after all these years
time running out/gotta go to work

06 October 2008

This is a video of my lovely niece Ruby Jean Toaster singing me Happy Birthday. There is no audio, because I am an idiot when it comes to converting video files. If anyone can tell me an easy way to convert 3ggp2 files and not lose the audio, that would be awesome!

Here it is:


05 October 2008

This clip is from last night's SNL, a digital short by Andy Samberg, starring himself and Kristen Wiig, two of SNL's funniest current cast members. Andy does dopy characters pretty well; he's the cute, dumb, sweet, goofy kid. But the secret is that he's a really talented comedian, as we see in his shorts, like the gangsta rap song he wrote for Natalie Portman, or the hugely popular "Dick In A Box." Kristen Wiig, for her part, has been hilarious in her 2 seasons on the show. She's the female half of the "2 A-holes," and her character Penelope, who makes up all sorts of lies to one-up the other characters in the sketch, is just awesome. " I used to go out with Tony the Tiger. so.. I broke up with him, so.." This short is a parody of a game called "Warioware: Smooth Moves," in which the player has to perform a series of simple tasks in quick succession, each with the same snippet of exciting music at the end. It works on a parody level, and it's great to see two comedians at the top of their game doing their thing, but I can't shake the feeling that the short is actually trying to say something about the intersection of competition, media, and sometimes filtered human interaction. I bet the folks over at VersusCluCluLand would have some ideas. Anyway, you'll have to stare at an adverstising screen for 30 seconds, but it's well worth it. This shit is FUNNY.


Bookends, of a sort...



The day after my 20th birthday, 2 things happened. I cut off the long hair I had been growing since I moved out of my parents' house, and OJ Simpson was acquitted of murdering his wife and her lover.

The night OJ ran in the white Bronco, I was at an MIT frat party with my homie Nate. Someone had a little TV on the roofdeck and everyone was watching it live. "Run, OJ, run!" was definitely the most celebrated and oft-used party phrase of the night. Nate and I were joking about it all the way back over the Mass ave bridge. It was obvious then, as it is now, that OJ would not have run if he were innocent.


The day after my 33rd birthday, 13 years to the day after the acquittal, I find myself once again, for the first time since I was 20, with a full shaggy head of hair. I am itching to cut it off, but I know my days of being able to grow it are running short. If OJ hadn't been acquitted, I may not have cut my hair off. I'm not saying one caused the other, but do I really have to explain the Butterfly Effect to you? If OJ hadn't been acquitted, he definitely would not have been free in September of 2007, when he and some legbreakers burst into some guy's hotel room, guns drawn, demanding that the guy return some of OJ's shit that he had stolen. Borrowed time.


Every breath that OJ has drawn in the last 13 years as a free man was a breath on borrowed time. Yesterday, OJ Simpson was found guilty of armed robbery and kidnapping. He could spend the rest of his life in prison. The judge refused to let him free on bail, and he was taken immediately into custody.
What I need to figure out is whether I should keep my hair or shave my head again. I could reason it out 50 different ways. Is the simple fact of an OJ verdict a sign that I should chop it off, or does the opposite verdict mean I should keep it? Dr. Evil or The Dude? Tell me, what do you think?

03 October 2008

Quick Hits

[COLETTA FACTOR: 24 S2]

So it's been a while since I posted. Generally, I find it hard to write when I am stressed out and pissed off. I was nearly on my deathbed when I wrote the zombie post previously, and the following 2 weeks have totally sucked at work. I hate my job, but I can't write about it because my employers roll deep on the interwebs and I'd probably be fired for disloyalty if I went into detail. Anyway, here's a few quick hits:

Sarah Palin acquitted herself fairly well last night, disappointing me and legions of liberals who would've liked nothing better than to see her at a total loss for words. True, it seemed like she was reading from a teleprompter and she did her best to dodge a lot of Gwen Ifill's questions, but she was a far cry from the woman who, a few days prior, couldn't even name a newspaper or magazine she reads. Don't get me wrong, I still think the McCain-Palin ticket is blockheaded, misguided, and dangerous for America, and I am convinced that they will lose on November 4, barring the unforeseen.

I recently sped through season 2 of 24 with my girlfriend. I've seen it a bunch of times, and it wasn't really shocking, but still a great way to spend 24 hours. For 15 hours, Jack Bauer runs, tortures, and kills his way to a nuclear bomb that terrorists have brought to Los Angeles. Afterwards, a piece of evidence, a recording, surfaces that places the blame squarely on 3 unnamed Middle Eastern countries. Every intelligence agency in the country authenticates the tape, but Jack believes it is a fake. He then spends another 9 hours chasing down proof that the recording was fabricated, hoping to stop the country from going to war based on false information. Who falsified the tape? Certain segments of the oil industry, of course, hoping that the nuke and the ensuing war would triple the value of their holdings in the Middle East. Did I mention that this season of 24 originally aired during the 2002-03 TV season, when America was about to launch an invasion of Iraq based on dubious evidence of complicity in terrorist acts against the US? Honorable mention to Sarah Clarke and Penny Johnson, who play two of 24's best villains, Nina Myers and Sherry Palmer, respectively.

Yesterday, October 2, was my birthday. I am now as old as Jesus Christ was when he died. Other notable events on October 2: In 1950 the comic strip "Peanuts" was first published. In 1967, Thurgood Marshall was sworn in as the 1st African-American Supreme Court Justice. In 2002 John Muhammed and Lee Boyd Malvo began their reign of terror as the first of the "Beltway Sniper" murders occurred. In 2006, a man walked into an Amish school in Pennsylvania and killed 5 little girls. Other October 2 birthdays include: Nat Turner, Mahatma Gandhi, Groucho Marx, Bud Abbott, Avery Brooks, Maury Wills, Moses Gunn, Persis Khambatta, Sting, Lorraine Bracco, Kelly Ripa, Tiffany, and my 8th grade teacher, Mrs. Sweeney.


Anyway, that's about it for now, except to tell you that you only have a few days left if you want to get on board with the Dharma Initiative. The recruitment closes on October 7, and if you want in, you've got to do it now. Go to Dharma Wants You.

21 September 2008

Myspace zombies and the Hellfire monster known as Sandra Bullock


Thanks to George Romero, every generation gets the zombie movie it deserves. 2005's Land Of The Dead, in which a city surrounded on 3 sides by water is made into humanity's last refuge against the walking dead, is at its core a comment on poverty and the culture of fear our own culture has become. The masses live in the rundown shambles of a broken urban landscape, pacified by liquor, loose women, and staged zombie fights. The rich live in a pristine skyscraper, high above the city, where they can go on about their lives as if nothing had happened. Thanks to the second law of thermodynamics, we are virtually guaranteed that the undead will infiltrate the skyscraper by the end of the film, proving once and for all that power and money can only protect you for so long against the unstoppable forces of nature.

Last year's Diary Of The Dead, like Cloverfield and The Blair Witch Project, is told mainly from a first-person, you-are-there point of view. Diary follows a group of film students shooting a no-budget horror film when they first hear the news on the radio that the dead are coming back to life. The kids are mainly forgettable, their drama strictly boilerplate; for some reason they have their alcoholic faculty advisor along for the ride, a generically knowing and wizened middle-aged man who speaks not in dialogue, but in epigrams, like "Mornings and mirrors only serve to terrify old men." On first look, it seems as though Romero has done a poor job creating characters with whom the viewer can identify. It seems like a terrible movie because there's no one we can care about, but I think that in this new, 1st person, handheld genre, we don't need characters we can identify with because we are there. It is our experience of events that counts. The person behind the camera and his friends might as well be on the other side of the world for all we can help them. In this youspace/mytube culture, we are not only numb to staged violence thanks to years of horror movies and cop shows on tv, we have taken the extra step of actually seeing real people suffer and we come to feel that it's not so bad. More than once in Diary, we see a person walking around by themselves while the camera follows them. Of course, they get attacked, scream for help, flail around and so on, but the cameraman doesn't lift a finger to help. Documenting the experience, rather than survival or saving lives, has become the new imperative. Now, that means that everyone has a camera, everyone's a blogger, everyone takes time after work or between zombie attacks to upload the latest documentation onto the collective consciousness we call the internet. (I include myself in this. I own a videocamera, and this very document is my contribution to the collective consciouness, the hive mind, if you will.) 50 years ago you knew your schoolmates, family, the guy at the bakery, the town drunk. Now it's possible to interact with or just watch all sorts of people from all corners of the planet. Of course, it all gets blurred after a while, just becomes background noise. Go to youtube and look up anything, you'll get hundreds of videos which all start to blend together after a while, not because they're so much the same, but because they're all virtually anonymous.

This is Romero's point. (Thought I wasn't gonna get around to it, didn't you?) Our experience, because it's so well documented and readily available, turns us all into passive observers who are incapable of caring about the objects of our fixation. It turns us all into zombies, in a way, but instead of flesh, we have an insatiable appetite for more and more human experience. Like zombies, we don't really taste it or want it for any reason other than biological imperative, we just consume.

Diary Of The Dead is the 5th film in George Romero's zombie trilogy. I already told you about the 4th. If you haven't seen the first 3, don't miss out. They are gory fun, but they are also products of their times, and as such can tell us a lot about what America was like at the time. Just get off your ass and put them on your netflix queue, or stream them, or maybe even walk to your local video store, if it still exists, and ask the Human behind the counter for Night Of The Living Dead, Dawn Of The Dead, or Day Of The Dead. A quick programming note: Dawn and Day have each been remade in the last few years. I've seen the new Dawn, but not Day. The Dawn remake is not a bad film; anything with
Marcellus Wallace and the chick from eXistenZ can't be all bad.

There's a lot of good zombie stuff out there, particularly Max Brooks' excellent books, "The Zombie Survival Guide" and "World War Z: An Oral History Of The Zombie War." Other filmmakers have tackled the genre: Peter Jackson, that king of Nerds who was responsible for the recent Lord of the Rings trilogy, made one of the silliest and bloodiest zombie flicks ever,
Dead Alive, which for reasons unknown is listed at IMDB as Braindead. Who can forget one of the most terrifying zombie flicks, and one of the few to feature zombies that run and jump instead of just doing the Undead Shuffle, 28 Days Later? Please do not confuse this film with the Sandra Bullock train wreck 28 Days. MAKE SURE YOU SAY "28 DAYS LATER" WHEN YOU ASK FOR THIS FILM. No one needs to see Sandra Bullock in anything.

That is all.

13 September 2008

My Report on Constitution-Class Starships, by Frakkin Toaster Jr, age 8




For my report I looked at Memory Alpha's page about the ships and I talked to my uncle who served aboard one of the ships for 4 years. He told me all sorts of cool stuff, like when you get into a turbolift, which is like an elevator that goes all over the ship, and you have to grab a handle, turn it, and just tell the lift where you want to go. And they have tunnels that go all over the ship. Those are called "Jefferies tubes." My uncle doesn't know who Jeffries is or why they named the tubes after him. And I looked for it at Memory Alpha but I couldn't find it.
The 2 pictures at the top are pictures of 2 different models of Constitution. The one on the right is the old one, and the left one is about 25 years later. They did something called "refit" to the whole Constitution line. My uncle says that if she weren't so sturdy, they would have scrapped the whole line. It's the first time Starfleet has done such a big project on ships that were 25 years old. Any way, you can see that they replaced the old deflector dish, the one in the front of the lower body that looks like an old 20th century satellite dish, with a new dish that glows blue all the time when the ship is powered up. I think this looks cooler. It was a good change.
The round part in the front is called the saucer section, because it looks like a saucer. The bridge is at the very top in the middle. The bridge is where the Captain and First Officer sit. Also the navigator and the science officer and the communications officer. The rest of the saucer section is labs, sickbay, crew quarters and the kitchen and the dining hall.
The bottom part with the dish on it is mostly the engines. And the engine room, and the torpedo room. The engines are ginormous. They use "controlled reaction of matter and anti-matter" to create enough energy to create something called "static warp field" around the ship. This is why they can go up to Warp 6, which my uncle says is 32 times the speed of light. Also the shuttle bay is at the other end from the dish.
The 2 long cigar-shaped objects are the warp nacelles. They are where "static warp field" happens. I don't really understand it. My uncle says that you have to warp space if you want to move faster than light. He tried to explain it by saying the universe was an apple and he wanted to be a worm or something, but I don't get it.
The most famous Constitution-class starship is the USS Enterprise, NCC-1701. Its captains were Captain April, Captain Pike, Captain Kirk, Captain Spock, then Captain Kirk again. Then when Captain Kirk found out it was going to be decommissioned, he stole it right out of spacedock! And then he blew it up! And when he came back to Earth he was acquitted of the charges and given a new Constitution-class starship. This one is called Enterprise, too, but it's NCC-1701-A so you don't get confused. I don't know why he didn't go to prison or get kicked out of Starfleet, but I think it had something to do with that day last month when it rained so hard and all the grownups got really worried and we got sent home from school early.
The Constitution-class starship is 288 meters long and 72.6 meters high. It has 23 decks and a crew of 430. It has 4 twin bank phaser emitters, 2 single bank phaser emitters, and 2 photon torpedo tubes. My uncle says the shields are so strong they could withstand an attack by 3 Klingon birds of prey.
That is my report on Constitution-class starships. Please give me a good grade. My uncle said he would take me to the Mars Shipyards if I get a good grade.


12 September 2008

A video meditation on September 11, 2001 in newsprint

Hint: watch it on fullscreen to see all the details



I made this collage on two 24x36 sheets of thick black construstion paper. I glued the newsprint to it and covered the whole thing with clear contact paper so the paper would be preserved, and it has been. Today was the 7th anniversary, and the first one when I did not bring the collage to whatever place I work at and put it up on the wall. Instead today I photographed it for the first time and put it to a song.

On September 18, 2001, David Letterman came back on the air after a national week of mourning. Everyone was wondering when it would be ok to laugh again, and Dave didn't try to be funny at all. He gave a monologue from his desk, his take on events, and I remember one sentence clearly. He was talking about the hijackers' religious motives, and he said, "Does that make any sense? Does that make any goddamn sense?"

He only had 2 guests on that night, and it was pretty somber. Tom Brokaw sat with Dave for 40 minutes and they went over everything, then Tori Amos came out and soothed with a song. The song is "Time," written by Tom Waits. He performs it on his masterpiece Rain Dogs, while Tori's version is on her collection of covers, Strange Little Girls. I knew she was coming out with a cover album, but I had no idea what songs. Straightaway the piano was strangely familiar, because I know and love Waits' original. When I realized what song she was actually singing, my heart broke. It was the 9/11 moment for me. That's when it all hit me, a week later. That's why I used the song.

I'm sorry if you didn't want to see this. I understand. Sometimes it feels like picking open an old cut, but I think it's true that we need to remember it. This is not about patriotism, this is about humanity.

Be excellent to each other.

10 September 2008

If you've seen this and hate it, I'm sorry, but it's way too funny and cute not to share. Click here

John uses anger when it suits him.

[COLETTA FACTOR: LOST-CURRENT]





He also uses violence when it suits him. Remember when he laid the smackdown on Charlie for stealing the baby, or the way he beat Mikhail into a pulp just to make the point that he was not to be trifled with? Combine that with his blind faith in the Island and his own destiny, and you have him throwing a knife into the back of a young woman. To be fair, she was gonna basically FSU on the Island, but we were never blessed with Locke's certainty about her.

Another thing about John: How many of the people who followed him into the barracks made it out alive? Hurley, Sawyer, Aaron, and, maybe, Claire. That's it.


His stubborn head nearly got everyone killed when his faith in the Button was shaken. He knocked Sayid out just as he was about to get a fix on the radio tower. He blew up the submarine. The submarine, man. Blew it up.


Why do I like him more than I like the "hero," Jack? I'll take John's side anytime. John is intuitive, well-intentioned, and ready to be open to things outside his worldview. He is usually trying to protect people, even if his methods are a mystery. Jack, by contrast, is small-minded and totally unwilling to believe he is wrong, blind to everything outside his rigidly rational paradigm. He pushes himself on Kate, he demands intimacy from her. People are objects to be fixed or saved. In short, and I don't use this word much, Jack Shepherd is an asshole. You wanna know why? This very conflict between John and Jack illustrates the depth of Jack's assholery. John believes that 815 landed on the Island for a reason, that the Island is an entity, with whom he communes from time to time. He believes that somehow he has been appointed to be the Island's protector and savior. In John's view, everyone who survived the crash was brought there for a reason. Jack, on the other hand, has seen and been through some crazy shit, but he refuses to believe in all the signs, all the magic, and instead pursues singlemindedly an escape, back to the world so he can keep on fixing people, maybe fix himself a new wife. (Kate) Their 100 day dance around the issue ends in a greenhouse. John begs Jack to accept his destiny, to stay and fulfill his purpose. He says to Jack, "You're not supposed to do this," a note of pleading in his voice. Jack basically tells John to piss off, thank you very much, that's the news and I am outta here.

But here's the rub: When the Oceanic 6 are on the raft, just before Penny's boat picks them up, (how lucky was that?), Jack all of a sudden tells them they need to lie, to concoct a cover story that will not only hide the island, but confirm dead all 325 passengers of Flight 815, save the six of them. The cover story assures that there will be no rescue party to pick up the survivors still on the island. Everyone left behind is stranded. I don't really ascribe any malice to Jack's motive here, just cowardice: He lied to keep the survivors on the Island because he knows they are exactly where they are supposed to be. Only he's not there. He had to leave. He put a gun to John's head and pulled the trigger in the name of getting off the Island, and his lie to the world is proof that he doesn't even believe his own bullshit. That's why Jack Shepherd is an asshole.

Also the time he forced Bai Ling to give him a tattoo. But that's another story and shall be told another time.

09 September 2008

I remember the first time I went to where you lived and saw the ticket stub from Juno on your wall. That's when I knew.

I remember waiting for you in the rain; we saw a crappy movie and I fell down the stairs and hurt my knee but it was a great night.

I remember trying to get onto a rooftop with you on July 4th. I thought an alarm would sound if I opened the door. I told you to get ready to run if it did go off. When I tried to open the door it was locked. We found a great spot anyway.

I remember grim topics and conversations about books, I remember wanting to read Harry Potter because I wanted to see what it was that you loved. I remember that I love you because you take me for me.

I am grateful that Bastian took an interest in this Toaster.

The road and days stretch out before us. I'm glad not to walk it alone.

02 September 2008

Katrina to Gustav, or my 100th post

I've had 1 or 2 serious girlfriends in my life, and I'm lived with quite a few women as roommates, but I've never lived with a girlfriend until this minute. That's pretty big. It's also pretty awesome. Also awesome were all the sunny days we spent together on the porch this summer over coffee and cigarettes, and the Harry Potter stories, which kept my brain afloat before, during and after the daily dose of dehumanization and despair that I call, simply, "work." Work is not awesome. Also not awesome was all the time and energy we put into finding a third roommate. I'll thank you not to mention the Friday from hell which involved putting my cat in a box and taking her on the bus, plastic tarpaulins, poison all over the kitchen, a job interview, two roomie screenings/showings, and a doctor's appointment to boot. Only good thing about that Friday: White Noise 2, starring Mal Reynolds and Kara Thrace.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, stress. I'm under a bit of it now. I'm in love with her, and so glad we're living together, but every other damn thing in my life is unsettled and unsettling. I could lose my shit at any time during my workday, tear off that silly apron, and walk away feeling like a million bucks. But I won't do that.

I'm not really telling you all this to be an emotional exhibitionist, but it affects you, Dear Reader, because I find it very hard to write under these conditions, and I've found that ideas don't sit in my head for too long without going stale. If I don't write it right away, it gets away, squirming and writhing down the drain.

Last week, I thought I'd write about Joe Biden. You remember Biden; I told you he should and would be picked for the Dems' VP nod, just a few days before he was picked. One thing I found out about Biden is that he had a stutter when he was a kid, and that his mom told him that it was because he was so bright and couldn't get the words out in time. I, too, had a stutter when I was a kid. One thing that Biden did not tell you, anyone that had a stutter when he was a kid has one even now. Most folks find a way to compensate for it, to keep it hidden. This is done by a process of natural selction. If a kid with a stutter wants to make it to adulthood with any self-esteem intact, he'd better find a way to hide it from all the kids who mockingly imitate him on the playground or in the classroom.

I've wanted to keep you updated on the progress of my volunteer assessment with the Dharma Initiative. They're still looking for volunteers, by the way. If you want to change the world, here's a portkey: Dharma Wants You There really hasn't been much to tell you on that front. though. Two simple tests, no hidden messages or risky secret assignments.

I started working on a video post, a short film about one of the greatest spoilers of all time. I won't tell you what it is, but I will tell you that it happens on the Lightning-Struck Tower, and that the incantation 'avada kedavra' is used.

This is a pretty long post, and I think it's best to keep them relatively short so people won't tune out when they see it will take them longer than 30 seconds to read. You're welcome, MTV generation.

So, anyway, this has been my 100th post. Stick with me for the next 100 and then you can brag to your friends that you were reading me before anyone heard of me.

PS: this is what part of the alphabet would look like if Q and R were eliminated. (Thanks Mitch Hedberg!)

31 August 2008

"In space, all warriors are cold warriors."
---General Chang, from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

Coincidence? I think not.

It has just been reported that President Moron and V.P. Vader will not be appearing at the GOP convention in St. Paul this week, due to the impending hurricane Gustav, which is expected to hit the Gulf Coast sometime tomorrow. They are saying that this one could be as bad as or worse than Katrina. I guess it would make them seem callous to give political speeches while an American city drowns, again. First, we already know they don't give a shit about New Orleans, or black people, or poor people. This is QED as far as I am concerned. Second, it will not erase the incompetence and ineptitude they've displayed in the last 8 years. My guess is that Republicans are breathing a sigh of relief this afternoon. The albatross of the Bush-Cheney years weighs heavy on John McCain, Sarah Palin, indeed on any republican running for office this year. A convention free of those two imbeciles will give the GOP a chance for a fresh start, and make it that much harder for Obama to link Bush and McCain, and if they pull off a reasonably competent response, McCain can extol the virtues of a GOP government all the way to November. This news makes moot Hillary's great "twin cities" line from last week's Democratic convention.

Karl Rove could not have planned such a deus ex machina to save McCain from the Bush years. Or maybe he could. Can someone look into Rove's ability to control weather?

Remember Henry Gale?


What if Hurley was a cat?


The wonderful interplay of words, fridges, and electromagnetism: Vol. 37


The wonderful interplay of words, fridges, and electromagnetism: Vol. 19

This comic has been on my fridge since it was relevant

Barack Obama, Denver, CO, 28 July 2008

25 August 2008

Orientation

For those of you who are new to The 2nd Exodus, here's a quick orientation: Frakkin Toaster is me. That's not my real name, just my nom de blog. I'm 32, I have a crappy job I am trying to escape and a lovely girlfriend who brightens all my days. Oh, yeah, and I have a cat. Her name is Prancy McFlanagan. Yes, that's her full name.

I don't often write here about my personal life, although I'm not against doing it if I'm feeling it. I do have a voracious appettite for movies, books, music, and good TV. (Good TV= o.oo1% of all TV) So that's what I write about most times. Also politics, it's all politics. (Obama! Call me!)

There are two features of The Second Exodus of which you should be aware. First, a game I like to play. It's called "Funny Not Funny" It's easy to play. I show you a link, you click on it and tell me if what you see is funny or not funny and why. Hardly anyone ever plays with me, though. I promise I will never link you to anything dangerous, like a virus or trojan or worm. I'm not that smart, or that malicious. You don't have to join anything. You can comment as anonymous if you want to have a tiny voice.

The second feature of which you should be aware; I'm referring, of course, to the infamous Coletta Factor, which has already been used outside of this space by a different writer. Make no mistake, the Coletta Factor is my creation. Its namesake, Ms. Coletta, J.D., requested that I give some warning when I am about to reveal the plot details of something she hadn't seen. She was slowly working her way through Battlestar Galactica, and I was writing about the newest episodes, nearly 2 years past where she was. I believe firmly that a spoiler is only a spoiler if it's about something that has not been aired or released to the general public. I further believe that spoilers are rotten and I don't look at them, nor do I condone people going out of their way to ruin it for you. That being said, I want to write about stuff I've seen, and I can't censor myself for just one person, even if it is 1 of my only 4 readers. Ergo, The Coletta Factor. Here's how it works: At the beginning of the post, or anywhere before the offending plot detail, you'll see tiny bold letters that say "Coletta Factor-Lost S4." This means that if you haven't seen the 4th season of Lost, you'd better get lost unless you want me to ruin it for you. Occasionally I get carried away and forget, but it's ok because the Coletta Factor has a police force, and they will redact certain parts of the blog if I forget to give you a warning. For example, in book 6 of the Harry Potter series, Snape [REDACTED BY THE COLETTA FACTOR POLICE] Dumbledore. Nothing gets by these guys.

Hmm...what else? Most of the pictures are portkeys. What is a portkey? I also like to post lyrics, pictures, cartoons, and videos that have enchanted me and that I wanted to share with you.

So that's about it. Keep reading, send me comments. I'm thinking that if I get enough participation, I want to play a game with my readers, the winner becoming the protagonist, or antagonist, if you're into that sort of thing, of a story I will write about her/him. What do you think?

21 August 2008

Nightmares

Horror movies don't give me nightmares, but I woke up in a cold sweat when I dreamed this, even though I wasn't sleeping.

scary, scary shit

50 points to the House of who links me to something scarier... off you go!

Why does he still work there?

This kid, today I was having a lovely day, having started it off by throwing a chunk of banana from the garbage into the drink Kayte was making for herself. This kid, on the last day Jodi and I are going to work together, this kid just came along and frakked up the last 90 minutes of my work day. He doesn't listen, he doesn't pay attention to what he does, he just doesn't understand that he can't be everyone's buddy if he can't manage to do his frakkin' job right for 5 frakkin' minutes. I told him later that he has to step it up, that he has to find a way to learn the job that works for him, that his level of work is just not cutting it.
I left the job and moved to another location the week after he started. He knew who I was, knew I used to be the assistant manager, probably guessed that everyone liked and respected me, and I think he wanted to try to ingratiate himself with me so he would fit in better in the store. I know people have had the conversation with him, and he's still the same. I figured he needed a bit of tough talk, no corporate-speak, step it up, kid, because you are not cutting it right now. The right thing to do? I think so.

18 August 2008

"Does it make a difference, being Muggle-born?"

Lily asks this of Snape towards the end of the final book. I'm halfway through it now, for the 2nd time around, and I haven't gotten to that part yet, so I'll write more about the particular scene after I've read it. Probably something about the irony of the head of Slytherin house and former Death Eater in love with a Muggle-born.

But now, I want to ask a few questions about Britain's Wizarding World: Why can't House-elves or goblins have wands? What gives the Ministry Of Magic the right to wipe the memories of Muggles who've witnessed some magic occurrence? What is the definition of "blood traitor?" Why did some at the ministry, like Dolores Umbridge, take such joy in the kangaroo courts of the Muggle-born Registration Commission?

All throughout book 5, the Ministry, in the person of Cornelius Fudge, refuses to believe that Voldemort has returned, in turn vilifying the messengers, Harry and Dumbledore. Dumbledore, we are told, was a great advocate of Muggles and Muggle-borns; in fact, Hogwarts would have been closed to anyone but pure-bloods if not for him, while Voldemort is the opposite. As the true heir of Slytherin, he carries on his ancestor's quest to subjugate or at least put in a corner anyone who is not a pure-blood. (Interestingly enough, Voldemort himself is half-blood; his father was a Muggle.) In a later book, Voldemort makes a serious mistake when he underestimates the magical power of a House-elf, House-elves being one of the populations of magical creatures to be regulated and controlled by the Ministry. In the Atrium of the Ministry stands a sculpture of a witch and a wizard looking off to the sky, quite nobly. Surrounding them, gazing up at the Humans as if they are gods, are a Goblin, a House-elf, and a Centaur. It's hard to miss the symbolism of the Wizard's view of his place in the world. When the sculpture is destroyed at the end of the book, in a duel between Dumbledore and Voldemort, the Minister finally accepts the truth of Voldemort's return and chills out a bit re: Harry and Dumbledore.

Harry Potter is not only the hero who destroys Voldemort, but the revolutionary who brings down the rotten sytem that has sprung up since the International Statute of Secrecy took effect in 1689, a system that puts the high-born ahead of the low, the rich ahead of the poor, the Humans ahead of all other creatures, even ones with equal or greater intelligence than themselves.

This could be a long piece. I have a lot of ideas on the subject, and I'd like to hear your viewpoint. I'll write more about it later on...

Harry Potter funnies: Enjoy!

17 August 2008

in addition,

I watched the first half of Rob Zombie's Halloween last week. It was the first 2/3, really. John Carpenter's 1978 original spent less than 10 minutes on the story of young Michael killing his sister, and barely more than that on his incarceration, while Zombie takes over an hour to unfold the tale of a troubled and violent young man who slaughters his family one Halloween night while his mother is working at the local nudie bar. By showing us Michael's childhood, his mother's love for him, and his descent into utter derangement, we have a sense of a person behind the killer's mask, a wounded child who just wanted to take it all back but couldn't stop killing. By making you identify with the killer, Zombie makes you complicit in all the horrific murders he commits, and that's probably the scariest thing of all. He did the same thing brilliantly in The Devil's Rejects, where you see these 3 people do the most unspeakable things in the first act, then you eat some ice cream with them and have a laugh, and in the final act they become the victims, hunted down and tortured like dogs by an angry sheriff with God's righteousness on his side.

I didn't watch the end of Halloween this time around; it's really the least entertaining part. It ends up as pretty much the same thing as the last hour of Carpenter's film, except the end, which I won't spoil for you.

Alright, enough procrastinating. I'm supposed to be looking for a job, you see. There's more, there's always more.

16 August 2008

My week of temporary bachelorhood

Jodi has been away for the last 6 days. I worked Monday after she left, then Tuesday, and now again tonight, Saturday. That leaves a 3-day weekend right in the middle of my mercifully brief descent into bachelorhood. Pot? Check. Candy? Check. Coffee? Check. Horror flicks? What do you think?



Lucio Fulci's Don't Torture A Duckling, 1972, which was released in the UK as "Don't Torture Donald Duck," was a splendid piece of trashy Italian exploitation. Someone's killing kids in this tiny village, brutally, and there's no shortage of suspects. There's the town idiot, the spoiled rich heiress who is a former drug user, (read: prostitute), the priest, and the strange gypsy woman whom we see in the opening credits sequence digging up the bones of a dead baby. Guess who did it? (COLETTA FACTOR: DON'T TORTURE A DUCKLING) It was the priest, but of course, the gypsy woman was arrested and released. At this point I'd have been surprised if a gang of townsmen hadn't shown up with chains and sticks, in order to beat the gypsy woman to death while some funky American soul music is playing on the car radio. I think it unlikely that Quentin Tarantino had this scene in mind when he filmed the ear-cutting scene in Reservoir Dogs, but I'm sure he had seen it, at least, and the memory of it was rattling around in his head. All in all, not a bad way to spend an hour and a half.



It was announced this week that the release of the film version of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince will be pushed back from Thanksgiving to next summer. Same thing happened to the new Star Trek film. (JJ Abrams doing Star Trek? Are you mental, that's gonna be awesome!!!) I don't want to wait until next summer to see Shaun Of The Dead playing Scotty, or to see Snape [REDACTED BY THE COLETTA FACTOR POLICE] Dumbledore.



M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening, 2008, was much better than I expected. Genuinely creepy, moody, and more graphic than his other films, this one is about an outbreak of sorts. It starts in Central park one morning, then it hits Philadelphia and Boston, then smaller cities, and soon the whole Northeast is Ground Zero. At first everyone assumes it's terrorism, but by the end we are led to believe it's [REDACTED BY THE COLETTA FACTOR POLICE]. Basically what it does, this toxin that is introduced, is make you kill yourself, preferably in a really gruesome way, like climbing into the lion's den at the zoo and taunting the cats, or turning on a riding lawnmower and laying down in front of it. Mark Wahlberg is not as thrilling here as he was in I Heart Huckabees or The Departed, but that's only because the material Shyamalan gives him is straight cookie-cutter horror movie hero. John Leguizamo is interesting as the best friend who leaves his little girl behind to go look for his wife. (Guess how that turns out for him?) Zooey Deschanel, whom I last saw as Dorothy in the Sci-Fi Channel's Wizard of Oz reimagining, Tin Man, was, well, she was awfully cute.

The trick to enjoying movies is to revise your expectations. Every movie is not going to be The Godfather or The Devil's Rejects, but if you know what to expect, and acknowledge the shortcomings of a genre or an adaptation, you can enjoy the movie for what it is, rather than get mad about what it's not. For example, I saw Goblet of Fire before I read the book, and all I really expected was that I would enjoy it as much as I did the first 3 Harry Potter movies. I was not disappointed. That moment at the end when Harry and Cedric touch the cup and [REDACTED BY THE COLETTA FACTOR POLICE] was amazing. By the time I had gotten that far in the book, I didn't really like the movie that much anymore. They had left too much out, combined characters, added a few unnecessary bits, it was 'orrible. If you watch an Italian horror movie from the 70s, you know you are getting bad dubbing, virtually no character exposition, and gore effects that don't look realistic at all, but you know it's gonna be scary and bloody and fun to watch. If you go to see a summer-action-superhero-blockbuster, all you expect is great action and maybe a laugh or two, and most of the time you get it, except for Transformers. That movie sucked ass.

Honorable mention to Primer, a no-frills, bare bones movie about two guys that build a time machine in their garage. This movie proves that you don't need a Hollywood budget to make an intelligent film. Big ups also to Michael Phelps, Nastia Liukin, and all of our Olympians whose accomplishments make me proud to be an American, or they would if I didn't live in George frakkin' Bush's America.

Speaking of which, Jesus, is this election over yet? Does McCain think he's actually got a shot? One of the smartest things Bill Clinton ever said was, "It's the economy, stupid." After feeling the budget squeeze under 8 years of Republican policies, with 70 percent of Americans thinking we're on the wrong track, does McCain honestly think he has a snowball's chance? If there were any dirt on Obama, surely the Clintons would have dug it up already, right?

Ok, that's enough for one night. To sum it up: Italian horror and Zooey Deschanel: good. Transformers and making me wait for good movies: bad. The Happening and being on my own for a week: a little from column A, a little from column B.

14 August 2008

Dharma wants you: the fine print

Those who come to the Dharma Initiative will have to travel a long way across the sea at a considerable speed. Work will include being outdoors and physical labour. You may also experience some instability of time along the way. Hopefully you, like many others, feel that your social duty is more important than your personal safety.

09 August 2008

Dharma wants you

This is a video shown to Dharma Initiative recruits at the 2008 Comic-Con in San Diego. It seems there is some time travel going on; the man behind the camera, if you listen closely, is none other than my good friend, the scientific shaman Daniel Faraday, who seems to have found a way to travel 30 years back in time and warn Dr. Candle of the Purge. If you would like to help, go to Dharma Wants You and take the eligibility test. Only you can save the world, by breeding polar bears in the tropics and pushing a button every 108 minutes for very vague reasons.


08 August 2008

Coletta Factor: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

A sample of a very funny,very irreverent, spoiler-laden recap of the final chapter in the Harry Potter series. You can find the whole thing here: Harry potter and the Deathly Hallows so you don't have to read it

Page 571: “Chapter Twenty-Nine: The Lost Diadem.” And Neville Longbottom finally shows up, with the crap thoroughly and comprehensively kicked out of him. Seems with Harry gone, he’s decided that someone has to be the guy who stands up to the forces of evil and injustice, and is getting the shit whaled out of him for doing it. Neville Longbottom is fucking hardcore.

Page 577: Neville also figured out how to use the Room of Requirement as a headquarters for his secret army and how to keep the bad guys from finding it and how to use it as an entrance and exit to Hogwarts that they don’t know about. Why isn’t this guy the hero of the books again?

Page 582: Again, Hermione as the voice of reason, pointing out that if twenty-plus young wizards offer to fight on your side, it’s kind of retarded to tell them you don’t want their help.

02 August 2008

Romero, Nicholson, Ledger: The 3 Jokers




The 3 Jokers

Coletta Factor: The Dark Knight

The first actor I saw play the Joker onscreen was Cesar Romero, a 1960's "Latin Heartthrob" in the vein of Andy Garcia or Antonio Banderas. This was on the campy, live-action comic book TV show starring Adam West as the Caped Crusader. Romero's Joker was a criminal and a psychopath. but in a really corny way. Like all the other villains on the show, he had a theme, and all his henchmen dressed in nearly identical uniforms that were a bit clownish. Whenever he set an elaborate trap for Batman and Robin or came up with an excruciating way of killing them, (which he would always explain in detail before doing it, thereby giving Batman time to come up with a plan to escape,) it was always based on a practical joke or a carnival ride or something fun like that. He was memorable but not a very convincing or scary villain.

Next up is Jack Nicholson, the Joker to Michael Keaton's Batman in Tim Burton's 1989 relaunch of the franchise. The film overall was dark and moody, as a lot of Burton's films are, indeed, as many fans of Batman expected. Gone was the BAM! and KAPOW! of the 60s, in its place a brooding, troubled Batman and a truly dangerous Joker. Jack Napier was a gangster who was doublecrossed and left for dead by his boss, but he didn't die. He ended up in a vat of this horrible stuff that gave him the perma-grin, discolored his skin, and turned him into a right nutter. He was obsessed with art and beauty, or more precisely, destroying same. He did murder people, lots of them, and Nicholson did a great job making us believe that the Joker was just out to lunch, but the film itself, while considerably more thoughtful than the old TV show, didn't really present much in the way of psychological drama or moral ambiguity.

Which brings us to Heath Ledger, in the role that drove him into the depression that killed him. Ledger's Joker at first appears to be an eccentric crime boss. We see him stealing from the mob in the first scene, and later conspiring with the heads of Gotham's criminal underground to kill Batman. As the movie goes on, however, Lucius Fox (played excellently by Morgan Freeman,) tells Bruce Wayne that some men "just want to watch the world burn," and we soon see that the Joker is one of these. He plays an elaborate "practical joke" on Gotham's knight-in-shining-armor District Attorney, for the sole purpose of turning Gotham's best hope for a safe and peaceful city into a disfigured, bitter, and unhinged shell of a man, a man who turns a gun on a child by the end of the film. Another one of his "jokes" consists of putting 2 bombs on 2 boats, each full of people fleeing Gotham during his reign of terror. He puts on each boat the detonator for the other boat's bomb. If one boat blows up the other, they will live, but if neither boat explodes by midnight, he'll blow them both. This sort of complexity is far beyond what we usually see in a comic book movie villain. The Joker doesn't want to hurt innocent people, he wants to turn them into killers, bring everyone down to his level and feed off the misery. Ledger hits it spot on, too, with the help of really creepy, perpetually smudged makeup. His nasal, high-pitched voice and his maniacal laugh paint the perfect picture of a truly deranged mind. He doesn't have a name, and I can't imagine what he would have been like as a child, or what kind of trauma you would have to endure to get that frakked up. He's just the Joker, a little like Stephen King's Walkin' Dude, sowing the seeds for the destruction of men as he walks the path.








24 July 2008

Rant

I just saw the most infuriating commercial, for AT&T. "so-n-so doesn't have any bars because she doesn't have AT&T." "More bars in more places." What a crock of shit! Why can't I talk on the phone in my house? Why can't I send a text message anywhere near Central Square? Frak those guys.