Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Question About Awards Shows

Do you ever wonder why awards just don't announce the winners before hand? When you think about there's no real reason for shows like the Oscars, the Golden Globes, etc., to be run like they are. Basically, all that happens in those show is that from a handfull of nominees, the people who run the Awards pick who they think is the best. Is there anything about that process that requires it to be doen on live TV, in front of an audience of millions? If the point of the show is to honor the best actor, screenwriter, film, what have you, why not just pick them in advance? The way they do it now, not only does the audience know who's accomplishments is considered worthy of award, but also whose accomplishments just weren't enough to cut it. I know audiences like it when there are winners and losers but in doesn't that just make  award shows into really glitzy reality TV?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Weekly Tom Waits- Diamond in Your Mind

Thanks to  Dad for putting  me onto this one.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Meta-Review: The Review Must Go On

This is as good a time as any to admit that I am fan of the webshow channel/ review site This site was probably most famous for creator Doug Walker's beloved character, the Nostalgia Critic. Over the years, people watched the character evolve from a gleeful, psychopathic man-child who ripped apart bad movies, generally children's films, to a character who's obsession with  films and popular culture masked deep reserves of self-loathing.  Last year, citing a desire to do something new, Walker "killed"  (it's complicated) off the Critic at the end of That Guy with the Glasses and began a new show called "Demo Reel".

However, this week, Walker revealed that he was ending "Demo Reel" after a handful of episodes and bringing the Critic back in a shot film entitled "The Review Most Go On." I have to say, that Walker sets out to tell a narrative story he manages to do it surprisingly well. Despite the lack of Hollywood-level talent or production values, his films somehow manage to be more satisfying then a lot of the stuff that winds up the theaters.

The story starts off in the world of Walker's  show "Demo Reel." There, the show's central character, Donny DuPre, (played by Walker), watches helplessly  as the other members of the "Demo Reel" cast begin to vanish one by one. What's more once they vanish, Donny is the only person who remembers that they existed in the first place. (Yes, this was the plot of an episode of the Twilight Zone and yes, this is intentional. Movie  and television references are kind of Walker's trademark).

And then things takes a turn into left field. Just when Donny's story about to reach a climax, the film cuts to Doug Walker (played by Doug Walker) writing the script for the film we have just seen. The focus of the story then shifts to Walker's debate over whether or not to revive the Nostalgia Critic. This debate takes physical form when the Critic (played by Christoph Waltz-- oh, all right, it's Doug Walker again) appearing to Walker, urging him to revive the show.

I must admit that I am not convinced by the  reasons Walker ultimately give for the Critic's return. The reasons he give might all be valid but I think the decision came down to economic realities rather then any artistic vision. From my understanding of the situation, "Demo Reel" just was not as popular as the Nostalgia Critic which is important when the show sole source of income is advertising from page view. Furthermore, "Demo Reel" was shot in a studio and had a larger cast of actors who were presumably expected to be paid for their work. Meanwhile, an average episode of The Nostalgia Critic was shot in Walker's home and often featured no actor aside from Walker. This leads me to believe that "Demo Reel" simply did not generate enough money to justify its continued existence and Walker is returning to his original character.

However, in my opinion, this actually works to the film's advantage. In the film,  it's not so much that Walker is trying to convince the audience that the Critic's return is for artistic so much as he is trying to convince himself. This puts an interesting meta-narrative to the film which is not so much a triumphant return of the Critic so much as Walker dealing with the fact that he is going to be stuck playing the Critic for the foreseeable future.

SPOILER ALERT! To me the film's most powerful moment is not when the Critic returns but when the film admits that the main character of "Demo Reel" is (in more ways then one) a retread of the Critic. That's what really makes the movie for me. It's an artist doing one of the hardest things in life for everyone, admitting failure. That alone makes this film, whether or not you disagree with this review, worthy of respect.

NOTE: While you could probably watch this movie and get the gist of it,  the ending especially requires some knowledge of previous Nostalgia Critic episodes to be fully understood.

Monday, January 21, 2013

A short mediation on Dean Koontz

This is not intended as a slam against Mr. Koontz. I've quite enjoyed some of his work in the past. But there is something I find extremely problematic about his work. I don't have an issue with him using religious themes in his work. Hell, Stephen King does that all the time and he's good at it.

It's that he is really bad at conveying the moral of his stories which is generally "God loves you." The evidence he provides for this is generally that  the protagonist of his stories generally triumph over adversity. However, the adversity in question is generally so horrible that you wonder if God doesn't actually want these people dead and just keeps screwing up. "Your entire family was murdered when you were a child, your friends were killed by a circus freak whose satanist father had a grudge against your family, a deranged conspiracy of art critics tried to kill your wife and son, and your serial killer brother inserted a live mammal  into a orifice of your body into which live mammals should not be inserted. (Note: These are all things that actually happen to protagonists in Dean Koontz novels). But your not dead. Clearly, God is looking out for you."

In my opinion, this is the true moral of every Dean Koontz story: When you have a friend in God, who needs enemies?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

My new favorite song

Not so much because of the lyrics, but because Passenger has one of the best singing voice I have ever had the pleasure of hearing.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Thoughts on an Inconstant Wold, Part 1

-Theres a Native American myth where the villain/monster is literally just called the Bad One. You'd think you would reevaluate your lifestyle choices if, when somebody brings up the "Bad One" in casual conversation, every one knows they're talking about you.

- The difference fan fiction is like stealing money from the poor and  elderly, is that you feel less ashamed of yourself after stealing money from the poor and elderly.

-Being a Transformer is not glamorous, like they show you on  vision. Its mostly investigation and good old fashioned police work.

-Speaking of Transformers, does anybody feel that the Beast Wars line of toys missed an opportunity by not introducing Hippopotimus Prime?

Monday, January 14, 2013

I had a post about the "Supernatural" fandom "controversy"--

But I wasn't saying anything that hadn't been said before and better. (Also, I don't want crazy people showing up on my blog. How crazy? This is probably the only controversy that got started because a popular actor had a child with --gasp-- his wife.) Here, have some pretty music.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

On the Deconstruction of Superheroes

A small post today on a point that has alway bothered me about modern comics. It's no secret that ever since Watchmen, a ton of derivative comic-books were published, tripping over each other in an attempt to deconstruct the superheroic archetype. I won't say all of the books were bad. (Just most of them). But there was a take on the genre that always bothered me as it's premise seemed fundamentally flawed.
These books were often centered on the premise "What if the Earth's greatest superheroes were secretly complete and utter bastards?" The quintessential example of such books are Marshal Law and The Boys. In these books, written by writers who publicly proclaim their hated of superheroes, the heroes weren't flawed and human as they were in Watchmen. Instead, they were pretty much complete monsters. In public, they stand for Mom and apple pie, basking in the media spotlight but in secret, they indulge in every illegal activity known to man.
Naturally, it falls to the protagonist of the series to reveal the truth behind the so-called heroes. His is a lonely task, playing Cassandra to a world that doesn't want to hear what he has to say. To aid him in this task, the protagonist, of course, has powers of his own usually from the same source as the so-called "heroes." Heck, in Marshall Law, the main character even wears a costume designed to mock and strike fear into the hearts of his enemies. The protagonist in the course of his job  often commits disturbing and morally ambiguous acts but, given the ludicrously evil nature of the "heroes", the audience knows who to root for.
If any of this sound somewhat familiar, it's because these stories follow have the same basic plot as almost any random "90s antihero comic that weren't supposed to be ironic or anti-superher polemics. Angry disturbed anti-hero beats up, maims, and kills his way through thousands of terrible people. Calling character who in another work  would be called a "super-villains" "super-heroes" does not  reveal a fundamental flaw in "super-hero" stories.  It merely uses the old trope of the bad guy who everyone thinks is good. That trope have been in thousands of works of fiction. Heck, it even appeared in Superman. I think you'd be hard pressed to say that there's any comic thats more of a traditional comic then Superman. Just because a people in the comic say that Lex Luthor is a hero doesn't make him one.

Friday, January 11, 2013

I'm having computer troubles

Ironically, I'm posting this from the same computer that's giving me grief.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Video game journalism (Warning:

(Warning for the humor impaired: the following post should not be taken at all seriously).
I know next to nothing about video games. I'm not good at playing them. I find  every control system confusing. No matter how many times I move the joystick, my character winds up moving in the wrong direction often in the middle of an important boss fight. This may explain why at out of the twenty or so  video game I have ever plaid, I have beaten roughly two.
I also don't keep track of gaming news. I really don't care. However, I have come to understand that many leading video game journalists have come under criticism for essentially being shills for the video game industry. Essentially, the journalists are alleged to be promoting games in exchange for under-the-table cash and other perks.
All of this leads me go believe that being a video game journalist would be the perfect job for me. Cash, prestige, and free stuff for basically saying nice things. Sign me up. I can heap on on praise with the best of them. "Mass Effect 4 is the best thing to happen to human civilization since the invention of the lightbulb, penicillin, and the Internet combined." See, I can say that without knowing anything about the game.  I don't even know if their actually going to make a Mass Effect 4. I'm not even entirely sure what a Mass Effect is.
In summary, if you need a shill with no integrity whatsoever, you know where to find one.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Cat yodeling

Tormenting small animals is always funny.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Name Change

Just posting to says that after much (five seconds worth) consideration that I have changed the name of  this blog to Unspeakable Horrors. This blog has never really just been about comics, but more about my rambling on whatever subject interested me at the moment --- so I've decided to change the name to reflect that.
There's not much else to this post so I'd thought I'd just post a video by Darkest of the Hillside Thicket to thank you for reading.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Review: The Punisher Armory # 2

For Christmas, this year I was lucky enough to receive several old comics for Christmas. Most of them were rather good but there were a few odd ones. And this copy of the Punisher Armory issue 2 was by far the oddest.
The Punisher Armory is not a traditional comic in any sense. Published in the early 90s, it is ostensibly a list of the wepons (and be weapons, I mean guns) Frank Castle, a.k.a. the Punisher uses to wage his one man war on crime. Theres no plot, no story, just a listing of guns.
But this is no Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe style listing. Instead, the comic ostensibly provides the Punisher's personal opinion on each of his guns. (I refuse to belive that this actually is the Punisher narrating. I just don't see him referring to another person as a "smart Johnny." To be fair , I don't believe that anyone born after 1910 has ever referred to another human being as a "smart Johnny").  Each gun is lovingly described with lengthy paeans to their shooting power and ammunition making sure to name check the gun manufacturer.  As a result, the comic plays out like a long gun advertisement.
Which leads one to ask who thought this was a good idea? I mean, no matter a person's stance on gun control, you have to admit that the Punisher is pretty much the poster boy for gun misuse. He shoots people, for God's sake, When I think of responsible use of weaponry, I don't think of the Punisher. This is pretty much the equivalent Camel Cigarettes making their new mascot an emphysema patient. Actually, come to think of it that sounds like a great idea. At least it would be truth in advertising.