Saturday 30 November 2013

Take it somewhere else, I run a respectable strip club here

I have invented a new game.  It is called Kill Your Liver, and the rules are simple: while watching any CW or ABC teenage programming:
1 - When someone says something expository you take a drink.*
2 - When someone says something that does not sound like something an actual human being would say, you take a drink.
3 - Every time someone says something that makes you think that the scriptwriters are convinced you are a moron you take a drink.
The alcohol-free version where you watch CW/ABC programming completely sober is called Kill Your Brain.

Until Monday, then, I wish a very good weekend to one and all.

* I do not advise trying this with the first episode of Ravenswood - you will be dead within the hour.

Friday 29 November 2013

Call him a Welshman and move on

Dammit to hell, The Blog, you're insatiable.
Today I have been catching up with Almost Human, and ten minutes into episode 3 I am wondering why I do this to myself.  There are better things I can do with my time than watch something I know will be terrible to the point I am embarrassed on my own behalf to be viewing it, but I just can't help it: when robotman uses his fingers to take a phone call I honestly cannot decide if it is laughable or depressing that a tv show in the year 2013 has someone using a Gadgetphone with a straight face, but either way it's amazing.  Episode 2 had a voiceover commentary for the visually impaired (I downloaded the wrong file) and the first few minutes featured a man using a sex robot who was slowly undressing and it was quite possibly the sleaziest thing I've seen/heard in ages, this monotone voice describing "perfect curves" and whatnot, like Steven Hawking reading aloud from Reader's Wives.  It certainly doesn't help dispel my increasing belief that tv sci-fi is a super-skeevy genre for creeps.
I'm still watching it at the moment - Karl Urban's character and his partner are trapped in a hi-tech high-rise building of the future and honestly, I am not sure that it's deliberate.  It's that kind of show.

Thursday 28 November 2013

I think I liked you better without hope

Been playing GTA5 intermittently lately and it's a stunning bit of world-building that got me thinking about Los Angeles - that place Ice T recorded Power and a generation of poor people found their voices in anger and vocal disenfranchisement with the agencies of government that treated them like criminals, and when that voice went around the world and was heard in my neck of the woods... well, it's not like rap music was hard to relate to if you'd grown up in a poor Catholic area in Northern Ireland in the 1980s and 1990s, what with its talking about the police victimising a section of the community and warring gangs etc...  It also helped that being poor was an international language, spoken then in loud and angry voices and through socially-conscious films that masqueraded as gangster culture to put poverty in people's faces.  The shortcomings of Los Angeles were everywhere in Western culture, and because we were actually talking about it, it felt like we could change things someday even if things were bad right now because we weren't hiding from the problem, we were running right at it.
Things have got better here in my neck of the woods what with the Good Friday Agreement and all, and I imagine the same is true for Los Angeles because now it's the place where Ice-T recorded Nash Bridges and a generation of musicians have come up singing about how much money they have, how many women they've had sex with and how big their pool is, and coincidentally rap also went mainstream around the time there was the switchover from angry poor people to successful capitalist - how weird is that?
I guess what I am saying is, going by the music I hear, the tv shows I see and the celebrities I read about these days, there aren't any poor people in Los Angeles anymore, and I think it's great the city has fixed its problems so its culture - and by extension ours - could move on to other things.

Wednesday 27 November 2013

I recognise THOSE looks - they're the reason I stopped doing stand-up

I got to the end of the fifth season of the Twilight Zone and while there were some stone cold classics like Number 12 Looks Just Like You, Nightmare at 20 000 feet, and The self-improvement of Salvadore Ross, otherwise it was a pretty flabby 36 episodes - not unenjoyable because there's at least two starring roles for Robbie The Robot, but not as memorable as one might have hoped.
Tomorrow, it's backwards I go to the hour-long episodes of season four thanks to cheapo box sets from Poundland...

Tuesday 26 November 2013

It's no dream house, but we get fed through our spines and the rent is reasonable

A hit and run post today because basically I am not very organised and it takes a lot of time to think of something interesting to say about an episode of Twilight Zone I watched on the internet in between videos about cats.

Saturday 23 November 2013

That is one crazy uncircumcised old man

I have literally no idea how Number 12 Looks Just Like You hasn't been turned into a film or tv series in the years since it was first broadcast while Steel has... actually, the latter was remade as a film where a robot has a fistfight with a bull so I can't really pretend I don't know why that happened.  "Your script has a scene where a robot punches out a bull, you say?  Well unless the central concept is holocaust denial we are shooting that mother."

Time for me to hit the booze and I wish you all a great weekend.

Thursday 21 November 2013

There's only one word for it: terrible and horrible.

Uncle Simon is utterly mental television.  On the surface, it's a blackly comic tale of one person being trapped in their own Hell (a recurring theme in Twilight Zone as recent as two episodes previous, in the Mickey Rooney one-man episode Last Night of a Jockey), but put it in the context of Rod Serling being the writer and it becomes a fascinating exhibit of someone taking the piss out of the theater of cruelty mentality because they don't particularly buy into the notion that this is how things work.
Serling's work, for me, is best viewed through the lens of his history as a man who willingly signed up for World War 2, saw death in it, was wounded repeatedly and then came home and wrote one script after another on the evils of racism, war, and the consequences of violence, and I prefer to use this lens both as context and because it helps dispel the oft-held notion that as you get older you become more right-wing, a concern for me personally and - I hope - humanity in general.  A right-wing nut may have played the lead role, but the writer of 1968's Planet of the Apes was anything but, and I find that quite heartening.

Plus Uncle Simon has a robot with a walking stick demanding hot chocolate while handing out - for the mid-60s - stone-cold disses.

We got a liquid form of ecstacy and we're gonna grade papers together

Been watching some old Twilight Zones today, available to watch on Youtube should you be averse to paying the three pounds a box set will set you back these days.  Jack Klugman goes for the maudlin jugular in the season five opener In Praise of Pip, but also has a great turn as the crabby anti-Kirk of Richard Matheson's  Death Ship, which is - I shit you not - a microcosm of the entire plot arc of Lost.
I did like The Old Man In The Cave's take on the importance of faith, though - a rare thing in sci-fi in general, and post-apocalyptic fiction even more so.

Wednesday 20 November 2013

No Belgian is that bad at backgammon

I rewatched Predators to see if it was as bad as I remembered and to be fair to it, it isn't as bad as that - it was worse.  Walton Goggins looking up at some trees and going "Oh ma gawd" and almost falling asleep right there onscreen while doing so is a low point, as is the handy appearance of the man who ate Larry Fishburne's secret hideout being a large metal structure on high ground, but I did laugh at the unironic use of the term "die, space f*ggot".  That's something, I guess.
Still, it's an enjoyable enough B-movie if you ignore its pedigree, though admittedly that's hard when you remember Predator and Predator 2 are high enough quality that they make me forgive and forget the dreadful Alien Vs Predator films.  I once read somewhere that AvP is considered Predator canon but not Alien canon, though I'm buggered if I can figure out that logic.  If I had to guess, I suppose they didn't want the canon of a movie series that includes Alien 3, Alien: Resurrection and Prometheus being diluted with inferior films.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

This is my German pill - in case they release the bombs or I'm ever abandoned in space

 So what other unpopular tv shows can I tell you that I think are great?  I have been watching Karl Urban's new televisual vehicle Almost Human, though that seems to be popular enough to survive without my seal of approval, strange though that concept may be.  Just as well, really, because despite enjoying it, I will admit that it is pretty bad.  There's this bit where the villain stops in the middle of a violent kidnapping attempt on a busy street and delivers a bad guy lecture to the guy he's kidnapping about his (the villain's) plan to kill a load of cops and blow up their police station.  Oddly, this very public act is his undoing when some cops look at a recording of the event.  It's that kind of show.

Also watching Tim Allen's Last Man Standing, which has me genuinely flummoxed.  In its first season it was a show about a right wing idiot forced to adopt to the modern world when he realises that the only male heir he has is the infant son of one of his teenage daughters, and despite Allen's off-screen status as a card-carrying Republican gun owner, the character he played was presented as admirable only in that he was willing to change as he accepted that the world he lived in was more complicated than the one he thought or hoped he lived in.  In the second season... not so much.  Once the show was confirmed to be returning, changes were made in the format to introduce a "hippy liberal" character who often espoused straw man versions of left-leaning notions about renewable energy, vegetarianism, unions, and so on, and Tim Allen's character would take every opportunity to correct his thinking with hard facts or sometimes even a stern lecture, sometimes with the aid of other cast members.  Coincidentally, one cast member took off when these changes were to be introduced.  Odd, that.
Where I'm flummoxed is what the show is trying to achieve here: on one hand it's clearly a vehicle for anti-liberal sentiments railing against multiculturalism and universal health care among other things, but on the other hand expressing these sentiments in the blunt and occasionally disingenuous manner the show does just reinforces the first season's characterisation of the protagonist as an arrogant, privileged white male who's lost touch with the vast majority of the rest of the country but believes otherwise because a small minority have chosen to publicly support him.  it would be easy to attribute this to Tim Allen's wanting the character to reflect his own views and thus be a vehicle for his own comedy material at regular intervals in the show, but then why is there no reliable foil or dissenting voice?  Even bad comedy pokes fun at itself, mocks its own tropes or breaks down its characters, and though Allen has made some comedic offerings that are of questionable quality, he does at least have enough experience in the world of scripted comedy to know how these things work and it's odd that something so family-oriented and middle of the road should excise such a balancing element in the hope of creating an Ali G whose central purpose is to pull a fast one on middle America.
So I'm flummoxed because I can't decide if Tim Allen wants me to laugh at his monstrous creation by design or if it's just happening by accident while he fellates his own political beliefs.  In my defence, when he devotes screen-time to footage of lemmings so he can call them "Obama voters" while opining "maybe they think universal health care is at the bottom of that cliff" at the same time he is showing footage of Karl Marx, Allen doesn't exactly make it easy to call.

Saturday 16 November 2013

You're a woman, women want me. I'm what we have in common.

Chuck Lorre's The Big Bang Theory is a good show.  Yeah yeah, I know, I know...
It's not a popular opinion among nerds because the series is seen to make fun of "our kind" and we do so like to react to perceived butthurt, but to take this view is to ascribe too narrow a focus to the narrative, as Big Bang Theory is not a show that makes fun of nerds, it is a show that makes fun of jerks.  Everyone in the show is a jerk from the bubbly blonde bimbo to the weakling stereotypical jewish doctor to the comic-book reading college professors to the guest stars playing larger-than-life fictional versions of themselves - everyone is a jerk to everyone else and they all suffer for it sooner or later.  The Los Angeles of Big Bang Theory, if it is not Hell, it is at least a karmic cycle for its characters who never get away with any underhandedness or jerkoff  behavior for very long and when discovered they pay a price.
Though these characters are extremes - nerds, bimbos, social misfits - they are also how America is supposed to view itself because Big Bang Theory is a show about the American middle class, the idealised notion of America where people work hard and are rewarded, and where they act out and are punished if not by the law then by the scorn and disapproval of their peers.

On the other hand, I am not sure what I think of Chuck Lorre's Mom, but I suspect it may be terrible.
Mom is the story of dishonest, drug-addicted, alcoholic, slutty, thieving, adulterous poor people, and like the worst of US tv, the poor are the punchline rather than the setup.  Would the middle class cast of Big Bang Theory smuggle drugs?  Would they have a pregnant teenage daughter?  Would they be attending AA meetings?  Would they be recovering alcoholics?  Would they fuck.
And yet for some reason the poor people who comprise the cast of Mom can do all these things - in fact, all these things are traits of the main character alone, though some are shared with other cast members, and their failings as mothers, citizens and friends are often celebrated within the context of their caste as something admirable.  It is a weird show if you subscribe to the notion that Lorre leans towards a socialist view of the world based on his scripting work - and starting his career on Roseanne - but makes a sad kind of sense if you view it as yet another big laugh at poverty from a guy whose most successful sitcom is about a millionaire in a beach house and his - hohoho! - sponging, disgusting and dishonest working-class room-mate, a sitcom which latterly (post Charlie Sheen) all but has cast members fellate the millionaire character onscreen while telling him how rich, handsome and well-hung he is once an episode.
Still, it got actual poor people on tv and that's something, I guess.

Friday 15 November 2013

I need a moment free from the internet, the people I am in conflict with are too infuriating to ignore.

The black rhino is extinct.
It is extinct is what's wrong with it.  It has passed on.
It is no more.  It has ceased to be.  It has expired and gone to meet it's maker.  It is a stiff. Bereft of life, it rests in peace.  Pushing up the daisies, it's metabolic processes are now history.  It's off the twig, kicked the bucket, it's shuffled off this mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible.  This is an extinct species.

I hide my pain with mockery because I have long dreamed of fighting a black rhino after seeing one in a documentary trample a poacher to death and I thought "that guy.  That guy doesn't take any shit.  We could be buddies, me and him - right after we establish who's boss."  It's on my bucket list and everything, I just thought I had time, you know?  That I would get around to it one day.
I will admit I would probably have had a bit of trouble taking one in a straight fight but I know I'd still have beaten it because I'm that hard, yet I honestly cannot get my head around that I will never have the chance to stand toe-to-toe and gaze into those craggy eyes embedded in a face molded by the wilds primordial and engage in the gentlemanly dance of combat.
You poor, beautiful, leathery bastard.  You should have lived.

Wednesday 13 November 2013

I want a disabled kid to be able to feel the same thrill I do when I wail on frogs

Okay, clearly I am stretching the definition of the word "daily" in allowing the gap I have between my last post and this one, but illness will put a crimp in most plans.  Thank the Lord Harry for the invention of tablet computers so I could continue my favorite pastime of posting offensive comments under a silly made-up name from the phlegmy luxury of my sickbed, though even now I have a lingering cough that makes me wheeze like Muttley off Stop The Pigeon and Whacky Races if I ever laugh at something, so I'm watching repeats of My Hero, My Family and Goodnight Sweetheart.  Pity me.

By now I usually post the digital napkin I have been doodling on over the last month, but I made the ill-considered decision to upgrade to Manga Studio 5 when I upgraded to a new PC, and just enough changed between versions to disrupt my quote-unquote workflow that I gave up on the napkin after the half-hearted efforts below and have now gone back to using MS4 this month.  I am sure art software boffins will decry me for the Luddite caveman I am for not embracing all the fancy new things like layer blending, directly opening pages of scanned artwork rather than having to import them as seperate layers in pre-existing pages, and reducing the amount of file clutter used in a story project, but I just couldn't get the pen and brush set right, jpegs were coming out as huge 100mb files, and I missed having the .page files to preview work.  Eff that noise - if something needs a manual and multiple lessons, Google trawls and visits to Youtube for instructional videos on how to do the most basic of things even for people already using the last version of the software, maybe it isn't that great after all.  Still, I'm sure plenty of others think it's awesome and it's just me back here in the past not able to keep up or something.

Wednesday 6 November 2013

If I wanted to be depressed I'd have stuck with my original plan of eating a waffle in the bath

Rubbish old day today that is making me of the mind that Catholic women are a bit better equipped for dealing with death than their squashy male counterparts.  Nuns are still frightening creatures, though.
The new Dracula series is great fun.  There, I've said it.

I like it when things set out to entertain me and there's no getting away from the fact that there just isn't any new take to be had on Dracula unless you go for broke and change it on a fundamental level like setting it in space or something, and this time out, the producers of the show have channeled the last movie version of the 3 Musketeers - a camp, wilfully stupid masterpiece of cinematic excess I enjoyed immensely - to recast Dracula as a swashbuckling steampunk antihero.
I can dig it.

Tuesday 5 November 2013

I never drink during the daylight hours. Yay winter.

Here's something a little interesting - by which I mean probably not at all - that I noticed while catching up with my illegally-downloaded tv viewing: Witches of East End (yes, someone did actually make a product and use that name for it and even better it is not just a carbon copy of Charmed it is also a spin-off from a series of novels about teenage vampires) is a show about magic, yet the characters don't have to learn how to use magic they just can because it's in their blood - which isn't magic but genetics - and there is also much talk about the importance of not abusing magic because there are rules about how magical energy has to be manipulated rather than simply created, it has to be transferred from somewhere else - which is actually pretty sound physics.  The Tomorrow People, on the other hand, is - apart from being a remake of the British kids' show of the same name from the last century - a show about the fantastical effects of genetics, yet the powers on display are pure fantasy - teleportation, time freezing, etc - with no scientific basis, and the main character whose name escapes me - dear God I just watched four episodes and I don't even know the name of the main character - sleep-teleports to other apartments despite being based on an object traveling through space at seventy thousand miles per hour and thus would be more likely to teleport into the Earth's molten core or into the frozen nothing of space if he was simply dematerialising during slumber and reappearing somewhere random.
Anyway, my great observation that is definitely worth your time is that the show about magic works according to an internal logic based on science, while the show based on science is basically about magic.  And no, I did not get laid at the weekend FUCK YOU.