Friday, 24 October 2014

Man, there is so much drama at this vagina clinic

A while back, I mentioned here on the blog that one of my must-read comics -The Woods - while entertaining, was not terribly original, and in a karmic donkey-punch for saying that, I get to watch the writer put out a comic with a premise that hasn't been done quite as much.

Babble was, of course, a story primarily set in a New York university campus about a sound that propagates a memetic virus that turns people into violent zombies and brings about the apocalypse, but Memetic is a story primarily set in a New York university campus about a picture that propagates a memetic virus that turns people into violent zombies and brings about the apocalypse, so they're completely different things.  I mean, yes, there are similar characters and some identical panels and scenes, but we're chalking it up to being exposed to the same inspirations - however, I might feel a lot differently if the second issue sees a cop being punched in the balls by a Geordie listening to The Smiths, and/or the artist forgets how perspective works for roughly 70 percent of the backgrounds he draws.
I kid, of course, as me and my writing mule Lee Robson totally ripped the whole premise off ourselves from a Monty Python sketch, with the linguistic McGuffin getting its technobabble origins in Sumerian mythology derived from intensive research that amounted to watching Ghostbusters 17 times to see what Gozer's deal was and also to see if those zombie hands that come out of the chair really were grabbing Sigorney Weaver's boob, but Lee likes to pretend that the original inspiration was Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, and I usually just go along with that even though it's totally lies.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Bernard William Jewry 1942 – 2014

Bummed by the death of Alvin Stardust today.
I will remember him most fondly for the sheer delight to be had letting My Coo Ca Choo blast your eardrums to oblivion just like you would with a metal track, though by the time he performed that standard, he was well into his thirties and treating glam rock like a lark, his stage persona being tongue-in-cheek and reliant upon you knowing that he knew that you knew that he was ridiculous - what the Klingons call tova'dok - though you can see a shockingly young Stardust performing as Shane Fenton - the adopted stage persona of a deceased friend - in Play It Cool, doing more straight-faced 60s teen rock:

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Oh great, I probably just killed someone and I lost my best knife

The Legend of Boggy Creek is the proto-Blair Witch movie (say what you will about the Blair Witch franchise, I always liked that the sequel worked from the notion that found footage was over and only a cunt would keep at it), and most of its thrills come from throwing its central concept right out there in broad daylight and none of this "WHAT IS IT WHAT IS IT WHATS GOING ON OMG WHATS GOIN ON YOU GUYS OMG" bullshit that typifies modern horror moviemaking's fascination with the idea that it is dealing with people encountering the mysterious rather than making its money from depicting how people deal with their encounters with the mysterious - we simply don't need ninety minutes of the creature in the shadows, and movies like Legend of Boggy Creek stand alongside The Host and Aliens as examples of film where you can let the cat out of the bag early on and still do a good frightener.
It's showing its age, but the makers really do their best with the tiny budget and a cast drawn from the citizenry of the town where the film was made, including the local high school - which makes the reaction of the kids having a sleepover all the more hilarious when they get frightened and scramble to jam bullets in "the woman's rifle" they've been left with so they can get killin' whatever's at large.  Usually dumb teens in these movies are just stereotypes that could have stepped out of a cop procedural like CSI, only relocated to somewhere with trees, but the instinctive impulse to get a shooting iron rings true as the actions of a smalltown type and the rest of the functional acting lends things a matter-of-fact charm that reinforces the feeling of a dated documentary rather than a trashy drive-in feature.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Finally something we can dance to and not that eighties shit you like

My sister described her son hitting his teenage years while addicted to Xbox multiplayer gaming as "like living with a terrorist in the house", but call me old-fashioned if you will: I don't think it's really that hard to see that when your child owes all his social skills to what are essentially voices in their head, things probably will not end well, especially if those voices are a constant stream of rape and murder threats against a soundtrack of war and the screams of the dying.
That's more or less how I imagine Gamergate came about - the screaming, whining, entitled kids on a headset who grew up with no social filters thanks to the anonymous freedom of XBox Live have now become the screaming, whining, entitled adults with no social filter and a Twitter account.  They know certain words and phrases from exposure to them in media and are capable of parroting them when backed into an intellectual corner - my favorite is the use of the words "journalistic ethics" which somehow seem to constantly rear their head in discussions about the sexual harassment of female games developers - but the attitude with which their contributions to the discussion is delivered is no different from the week I spent back in 2007 vainly trying to use XBox Live without being called a faggot, a nigger, a bitch, or a jew for five whole minutes...
I left the world of online gaming to the children that populated it, and now I get to see the car-crash gaming culture they've created for themselves when left to their own devices, but hey, I read Lord of the Flies in high school so I can't really say I didn't see this coming.

Monday, 20 October 2014

My one solace is that gran was a cruel and unforgiving woman and her ghost will haunt you forever

Just checking in with the blog, and I have just this past few minutes finished watching this week's episode of CSI (episode 04, series 15), and it is quite possibly the worst episode of anything I have ever seen, and just to put that statement in context, I have seen other episodes of CSI.  Also, in this week's Madame Secretary, an Iranian diplomat looks Madame Secretary in the eye and says "I have two children, NINE and ELEVEN" and then he does this pause that's a bit too long, so the people making this might be taking the piss now to keep themselves amused.  I know I would if I had to make Madame Secretary each week.
I made it a full three minutes into Red Band Society's cheap-ass take on The Fault In Our Stars' thunder, and it wasn't the ever-annoying atmosphere in medical dramas that socialised medicine is wrong that made me tap out - despite free nationalised healthcare providers being world leaders and the US system trailing waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay the Hell behind so much that it's funny until you remember all the people that are dying in the failed experiment that is paid healthcare - no, what annoyed me about Red Band Society is that it is annoying.  Annoying, dated, and written like a fifty year-old dude has heard some words from a person under twenty and written them down in a way that is not quite factually or contextually accurate, but he is still getting paid, so that makes me the idiot and not him.

Friday, 17 October 2014

I fought in Vietnam so you two could speak English

I promise I'm not really taking a whole week to finish a single page, even if it does have 16 panels on it - I just don't screengrab stuff that I do for other people and boot up stuff I tinker with in spare minutes to convince you I'm actually working away and aren't a hugely lazy get.  This does not stop my employers putting pictures on their Facebook, all the same, and said tinkering project seems to be nearing a point where it's finished, too, so God help me I might have to actually self-publish something again.  Is there a market for cavemen comics?  Here's hoping.

Blood and Chrome I enjoyed a great deal more than the series that originated it, as while I appreciated Battlestar Galactica's high production values, its pretentiousness seemed an ill fit with an embarrassing reliance on tropes like sex robots, a sub-Terminator backstory and "they look like us" plot dynamics that stopped being interesting somewhere around 1960 and didn't get fresh again just because characters didn't make jokes onscreen.  The use of made-up swearwords was also deeply, deeply irritating, as for all its po-faced space-politics, the overuse of the word "frac" as an analogue for "fuck" reduced dialogue to something on the level of twats in elf costumes shouting "SMEGHEAD" at each other in public and unable to grasp what they sound like.
This episodic mini-movie is pretty entertaining, though - while it still has the annoying made-up swears that only just sound acceptable in the 1978 original on account of it being a big load of cheesy shit, Blood and Chrome at least drops the sex robot nonsense and returns to its roots as a pulp romp, with some fantastic production work realising an ice planet, establishing shots that look like they jumped off a 1970s sci-fi paperback, and at least one great action setpiece in the form of a dogfight in and around the wreckage of a starship, no matter how hard the laughably overactive cinema verite camerawork tries to ruin the action scenes.  Some of the sets look a bit dodgy, but otherwise it's an eventful and undemanding 90 minutes.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

If people want to take off their clothes and chase one another, it certainly wouldn't hurt morale around here

Just like I watch NCIS: New Orleans because it stars Scott Bakula, I watch NCIS: Los Angeles because it stars Chris O'Donnell - yes, I love Batman and Robin that much - though I also like that the show can fall back upon LL Cool J's sellout status as a prominent black Republican who stars in a notoriously right-wing tv show and espouses the joys that wealth and privilege bring him should it ever run out of unfunny dialogue, intrusive background music that the makers of a Tom and Jerry short would consider too much, or ways to waste Linda Hunt and Miguel Ferrer's time with shit that is beneath them to attract viewers.  I don't know why I am so down on it, as it's really just a poor reflection on myself personally that I still watch it despite knowing what trash it is, but here we are.

Escape From Los Angeles is very entertaining, but the obvious model work that featured in the prequel had an organic charm that is sadly lacking in the similarly-obvious primitive CGI that covers the screen of Snake Pliskin's second cinematic outing even if the rest of the film is solid, especially Snake's expanded range of grunts, one-liners, and facial expressions.  I was hooting with laughter at the surf chase and basketball combat scenes, and while the "satire" of much of the film is unsubtle, it feels like a nice throwback to the punk aesthetic of the era of the original Escape From New York (which I watched yesterday), should you be willing to indulge the film and not dismiss it on its poor reputation.  Of course, I was similarly-inclined to indulge Ghosts Of Mars' bonkers b-movie approach and enjoyed that despite its reputation, so what do I know?  Some of it - like the hang-glider assault and fisticuffs with the main villain in the final stretch - seem less John Carpenter-ish than usual, suggesting he was going a bit more mainstream like he did with Big Trouble In Little China, and it's a shame that he didn't succeed in making more mainstream action movies aimed at a younger audience, because this kind of daffy high concept, over-the-top action film full of unsubtle digs at American excess wouldn't be unwelcome in cinemas right now when superheroes are joyless and sombre murderers, and Star Trek is populated with bad writing and a cast of obnoxious pricks.
It's not brain surgery - neither was the original - but it's good fun and makes a point or two about its originating culture.