Archive for the 'Arts' Category

Clash of the Titians

Clash of the Titians

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No Prē For Mē

My ancient Nokia will be sleeping with the fishes soon. It works about half the time. When it works, everything’s just fine. The rest of the time, it’s silent — no ringer, no sound through the earpiece or the speaker, and that makes it kind of tough to make a call, or to notice that someone’s calling me.

Not that a mobile phone is vital for me, of course. I work at home, and I have no life, so my VoIP land line is all I need most of the time, but I do leave the house on occasion. In fact, I discovered that the cell was dying when I tried to phone for a taxi a few weeks ago. That’s when I discovered that public phones (remember those?) have become astonishingly rare these days.

So the time has come to get a new phone. This will only be my third cell phone, as I was pretty late in joining the mobile communications revolution (being stuck on a stopped train for an hour or two some time around 2002, unable to call the person I had left work early to meet to tell them I was stuck on a stopped train convinced me to get one) and I use my phones until they croak, oblivious as I am to fashion, technology, and fashion technology. The Nokia doesn’t even have a camera. Don’t ask me how I’ve survived. I guess I’ve just been lucky.

So, what to get… Friends of mine with iPhones and Androids just love them, but I’m on Sprint, so those are out. I suppose I could get a Palm Prē (which I like to pronounce as “pompry,” for some reason), but I’m not sure that’s a good idea. Aside from the fact that I just don’t need something that fancy, the advertising campaign for the phone has kind of put me off a bit.

There’s just something about that woman. I can’t quite put my finger on it… Oh, that’s it. She reminds me of this guy:

David Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth

I saw The Man Who Fell to Earth when it first came out in the US, so I think I was about 13. I’ve got a thing about eyes, so I had nightmares about that face, along with the scene in which Bowie’s character first removes his human disguise, including the contact lenses.

I absolutely love the film. I even wrote a paper I’m fairly proud of about it in grad school: “Alienation and the Subsequent Development of Sexual Identity in The Man Who Fell to Earth.” But that doesn’t mean I want to buy a phone from Thomas Newton’s long-lost sister here. Hell, their species have sexual organs in their palms — remember how that moist touch made Candy Clark lose it? The phone probably has alien reproductive goo all over it.

I don’t know… CNET gave the LG LX370 a pretty positive review, and there was nothing in there about alien DNA. Maybe I’ll get one of those.

By the way, I think Tilda Swinton might be one of them too.

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Crazy Like a Fleet Fox

I’ve come up with a theory about Fleet Foxes. I actually think I may be on to something here.

Here’s what I’m thinking: Fleet Foxes are obsessed with the idea of being on the bleeding edge of the fashion world. In order to accomplish this, they spend a king’s ransom on an avant-garde stylist who oh-so carefully, assiduously, impeccably cuts their hair to make it look like they do it themselves, when they’re stoned.

Because all of their money goes to their utterly über-stylish stylist, they can’t afford to buy any music, so all they ever listen to are the CSN albums they found in their grandmother’s attic.

Oh, stop calling me a dick. I’m just kidding.

I actually think their harmonies are very pretty. Hippy-dippy and boring, but pretty.

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Decisions, Decisions

still from The UnbornThe Uninvited, or The Unborn… It’s just so hard to choose between them.

You know why it’s hard to choose? Because they’re the same film with two different titles, that’s why.

They’re both about sexy teen thangs in danger, right? I bet they’ve both got a scary dog with an upside down head. A movie’s just not scary nowadays without a dog with an upside down head, you know.

Those goons in Hollywood probably figure they can get away with this because in this economy, nobody’s going to spend the big bucks to see two sexy teen thang in danger flicks in the same month, and the few who do are probably stupid enough that they won’t notice that they’ve paid to see the same crap twice.

‘Fess up, you evil-doers.

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An Open Letter to Nicolas Cage

Dear Nic,

Nicolas CageI recently caught your performance in Ghost Rider. Actually, I think I may have dozed off for fifteen or twenty minutes, shortly after the goth kid is interviewed on the eye of hell after you save her from the mugger, but I definitely got the gist of the film. Kind of cute casting Peter Fonda as a motorcycle Satan, by the way.

Anyway, here’s what I wanted to let you know:

You’ve convinced us. You’re Elvis reincarnated. Never mind that you were about thirteen years old when he died. We’ll just say that his spirit went from that toilet at Graceland straight into little Nic Coppola.

I understand now that you married Lisa Marie just to protect your little girl. I totally get why you’ve chosen the roles you’ve chosen. You’re the King. I believe you.

I guess that means you can stop now. You’ve got nothing more to prove.

No more swaggering across the screen. Enough with that lip curl. You can proudly wear your black belt and chow down on those banana and peanut butter sandwiches. Nobody’s going to question your authenticity.

Feel free to send me a scarf soaked in your sweat if you like. TCB, baby. Thank you very much.

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So Good You Can’t Even Tell

Warner Bros logoI finally got around to watching The Dark Knight on DVD last night. Fairly impressive, but I’m not here to write about the film itself.

I was struck by a promotional video that ran before the feature, right after the god-awful reworking of Casablanca into a warning not to pirate movies (Shame on you, Ilsa).

The promo featured big, impressive, immersive shots from some big Warner Bros. movies, including A Clockwork Orange, Blade Runner, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Matrix, Goodfellas, V for Vendetta, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and Batman Begins. For the most part, these were shots intended to make the audience go “oooh,” like Neo stopping a barrage of bullets (ooh), or the Houses of Parliament exploding (ooh).

The voice-over that went with these big visuals went as follows:

Something has come along that changes our movies.

It changes the way you see them, hear them, feel them.

It changes the experience.

It opens our eyes to something new.

We invite you to dig deeper, to find things that you’ve never experienced before.

This is the difference between watching our movies and living them.

Experience our movies on Blu-ray.

This is how our movies are meant to be… lived

Blu-ray logoOK. It was a promo for the glory, the splendor and the majesty that is Blu-ray. Fine. But it raised a few questions for me.

As I’ve already mentioned, these were big, impressive images. I was watching on a standard DVD, on an eye of hell that’s neither HD, plasma, giant, or even flat, with the sound running through a stereo that’s about 30 years old — well, the speakers are only about 10, but there are only two of them. And I got the message that I was supposed to be impressed by these images.

So if I’m impressed, how are they supposed to sell me on ditching all of my equipment and getting a Blu-ray setup? Obviously, they can’t show me how a Blu-ray image is better than what I’ve got if they’re showing it to me via what I’ve got. Maybe they should have lowered the quality of the images they showed me, like I was watching on a pitiful portable picnic player, as little Alex might point out. Then they could have told me that if I wanted to experience the true gorgeousness and gorgeosity of the pictures and properly hear the angel trumpets and devil trombones, I’d best upgrade.

Or I suppose they might have added a few lines to the voice-over (I think it might have been Kiefer Sutherland, using his “this is America” Bank of America voice rather than his “tell me now or you’re dead” 24 voice, by the way), like

Do these scenes look good to you? Then you’re an idiot. This stuff is pure crap. You can’t see how good these scenes really are, because your hardware is shit.

There needs to be some comparison if I’m to be convinced that what I don’t have is better than what I have. Remember the theme song to WKRP in Cincinnati? The first few bars were engineered to sound like AM radio, and then it opened up to something fuller, so even though you were listening to the whole thing through a tiny, tinny monaural speaker, you could hear the difference. You got the message that AM radio sounds like KRaP.

And there’s that last line in the promo: This is how our movies are meant to be… lived.

Is it really? Have they forgotten about movie theatres, many of which still have bigger screens and better sound systems than the average living room? Are they suggesting that this is what the filmmakers had in mind?

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Obama Cabinet Appointments Continue

Obama and Optimus Prime
Today, President-elect Barack Obama announced that he has chosen Optimus Prime to fill the new position of “Car Czar” in his cabinet.

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Napolitano: From CB to DHS

Janet Napolitano and Johnette Napolitano

And you thought Al Franken had an unusual career path. He went from comic to comedy writer, satirist, left-wing radio personality, and perhaps to the Senate.

But Napolitano has now gone from “alternative” radio sweetheart (rumor has it Michael Stipe himself came up with the name “Concrete Blonde”. I wonder if he thought up the spelling of her name, too.) to Governor of Arizona, and now she’s on the verge of becoming Secretary of Homeland Security. And it looks like she’s keeping busy, too. Her MySpace blog indicates that she’ll be working with John Trudell on his next album starting after Christmas. I hope she can squeeze it in before she has to go to DC for her confirmation hearings.

Congratulations, Janet/Johnette!

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Carrey On

Liar Liar (1997)

Jim CarreyJim Carrey plays a successful lawyer and not so successful divorced father. When he fails to make an appearance at his son’s birthday party, the boy wishes for his father to be compelled to speak only the truth for 24 hours. Magically, the wish comes true, and the lawyer, who has built his life and career on his skill at lying finds himself blurting out the truth without being able to control it. Hilarity ensues.

Yes Man (2008)

Carrey plays a loser whose life takes a positive turn after he adopts a self-help program requiring him to say yes to everything, leading to a series of madcap hijinks.

A Matter of Taste (2010)

Hal French (Jim Carrey) is a famous San Francisco restaurant critic whose reviews spell life or death for every establishment he visits. When he pans The Gypsy Kitchen, the owner puts a curse on him: he still has a refined sense of taste, but can only hold down food that’s been boiled to a tasteless mush. What’s a foodie to do — does he continue his career, only to violently spew at every restaurant he visits, or will he learn to live on nothing but gruel? The scene of his anniversary celebration at his favorite Indian restaurant is a tragi-comic revelation.

That’s Agoraphobia! (2013)

Carrey plays a successful advertising executive whose agency is sued after a product they promoted proves to be a serious health hazard and causes the deaths of hundreds of small children. He quits his job, breaks up with his fiancée, and locks himself in his apartment, where he does little more than watch old situation comedies, masturbate, cry, and obsessively wash himself with bleach.

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Choosing An Announcer

Obama coinSo, you’ve come up with the idea for a new product that you believe is going to tap right into the current zeitgeist and really excite the public. Congratulations. Obviously, you’re going to advertise online, since that’s such a cost-effective medium these days. Are you thinking about running spots on the eye of hell as well? That’s going to increase your costs, but it will guarantee a lot more eyes. And don’t forget that you don’t just have to pay for the time your ad spends on the air. You’ve also got to deal with the cost of production, which is likely to be a lot more than your web development budget.

A big part of that budget is going to go to getting a voice-over artist to read your copy. My advice is to spend the money to get this right. Listen closely to the people you audition. Obviously, you want them to convey the right mood. You want them to be able to get your audience excited about your product. But you also want them to sound like they know what they’re talking about. For example, if your product is powerful, and you want to make sure the public knows the product is powerful, be careful to hire an announcer who can say the word “powerful” without it coming out as “parful.”

Let’s say you’re selling a limited edition, uncirculated inaugural coin, layered in pure 24 karat gold. Sounds good? Well, that depends on how your announcer says those words. Don’t make the mistake these folks did.

Innoggeral? Uncirckalated? Those aren’t words. Laird is a word, albeit a somewhat archaic one, but I don’t think you want your potential customers to think they can buy a Scottish landowner who’s been dipped in gold — not from you, anyway. You’re going to have to deal with an awful lot of returns if you make that mistake.

Let this be a warning to you: if you’re going to advertise in a medium that requires voice-over talent, either choose an announcer who can say your words, or choose words your announcer can say. I don’t think that’s asking too much of you.

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