Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Despite frequent complaints in regards to the movie industry and woes about constant remakes and reboots and a glut of unnecessary and increasingly faster and furiouser sequels, there is still a lot that Hollywood does right. Joss Whedon getting to direct a big budget movie featuring a whole bunch of Marvel Comics super-heroes, that is most definitely something right. That the Avengers movie stars Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Samuel L. Jackson is right. That Scarlett Johansson is not only in the movie, but that she is in a Black Widow costume as a bonus, that is very right.

What is not right is the poster for The Avengers. Nothing makes Hollywood look more idiotic and uncaring at the moment than the state of the movie poster. Movie posters used to be genuine pieces of beautiful artwork, now they seem to be randomly photoshop patch-worked together by a hung-over un-paid intern. What the hell is going on in that Avengers poster? Where's Iron Man's helmet? Where's Captain America's mask? Why is everyone just kinda' standing around? Why did the designer just randomly grab photo's of the characters and slap them together without any concern for logic or reason? Nick Fury is about to shoot something, while Captain America is lost in thought.And none of these super-heroes seem to notice that there's a space-ship about to crash behind them.

Look up the work of Tom Jung, Saul Bass, Bob Peak, Richard Amsel, and Drew Struzan on the ole' Google. Then feel free to join me in my rants against the so-called designers making what is likely a very decent living for whipping up very ugly posters.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Whenever I move, or am in the after-math of a move, I always think of The Money Pit and the scene where Tom Hanks is stuck in a hole in the floor of his problematic new dwelling and is losing his mind. If there was ever a time where a person could make use of a magic genie wish for a project to be instantly and miraculously over with, it's the process of moving living spaces. It almost makes one wish they lived a much more Spartan life, and didn't have shelves full of movies, toys and comic books. But then I look at all my movies, toys and comic books and realize that they are awesome and I come to my senses. That's all I have the strength to write just at the moment, moving has exhausted me and possibly forever broken both of my out of shape arms that have lifted way too many comics in the last couple of days.

Monday, February 27, 2012

I only cared about one thing in regards to last nights Academy Awards celebration, and that was whether or not Bret McKenzie would walk away with an Oscar for his song 'Man or Muppet'. He won, The Muppets gets an Oscar, and even though I still think it's strange that there were only two songs nominated instead of the traditional five, that won't tarnish that his work on the film was true cinematic musical brilliance. And the win prevented our head programmer and MC of the night from tearing down the screen and burning the place down, which he said that he would do if Muppets was wronged.

I was also hoping that Rise of the Planet of the Apes would have won it's sole nomination in the Visual Effects category, but Hugo took that one. Andy Serkis should have been nominated for best actor, but I think there are still qualms from the Oscar powers-that-be as to whether or not CG assisted performances are acting. What Serkis did in Apes was pretty damned amazing, playing his character from a baby through adulthood, something pretty much impossible without current film special-effects technology. Hence the effects team getting recognized would have been at least some kind of recognition to the groundbreaking work that happened in the creation of the Caesar character. As long as Transformers 3 didn't win though, that's all that really mattered. It making all the money in the world is bad enough, I don't want the words 'Oscar winner' forever intertwined with a tragically awful excuse for a movie like Transformers 3.

Despite some negative vibes thrown at host Billy Crystal from some, I thought he did a fine job. I question that maybe there should be less sketches and more time for awards presentation and music performances, but thought he was quite funny.

Gore Verbinski deservedly won for Best Animated Feature with Rango. A year where PIXAR dropped the ball with the grand an unusual sub-par-ness for them by going back to the well with Cars 2 allowed for something a bit more off-kilter to grab the prize this year (PIXAR will be back next year to win with Brave). Another winner was Christopher Plummer, Canadian and Klingon, which garnered a giant Canadian content round of applause from the Mayfair crowd.

All in all another great Mayfair night, even though tallying the Oscar ballots from a couple hundred hopeful predictors dreaming of winning a stack of movie passes makes for a bit of a harrowing and exhaustive night.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

There are many super-powers that I think would be useful to have, but when in the process of packing and moving, I think that Pym powers would be the way to go. Not when Henry Pym was Ant-Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket or Wasp...though becoming a giant or really tiny or being able to boss around ants are no doubt all usual powers to have. I would like the powers of plain old uncostumed Doctor Pym from the 1980's West Coast Avengers days. The ability to take anything, shrink it down to microscopic weightless levels and then grow back to normal size unharmed would be quite useful. Especially to transport comic books...paper is so damn heavy. These are the things I think about and distract myself with when I should be packing. Back to work.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

In getting everything prepared for the move in a couple days, I was trying to change my Transformers toys of Grimlock and Starscream back into dinosaur and plane modes for easier packaging. I could do neither.

When I was a kid I could transform any robot into any form of vehicle or creature with the greatest of ease, without any hint of knowledge or instruction booklet for the action figure in hand. I have clearly lost that immensely important skill. Which either means I'm getting old (which y'know, mathematically I am in fact in compared to 25 years ago when Transformers initially hit the market), or that that geek portion of my brain has been filled. Older unused for a while information like toy shape-shifting must have been pushed aside for more recent important geekery the likes the New 52 DC Universe, Buffy-verse comics, hoping Bruce Campbell will do more movies, zombie survival tactics, who's going to play the next Batman, why we have to wait so long for more Doctor Who episodes, etc...

It's a shame, especially considering how little of my day is wasted thinking about grown-up things. Not sure what I can cut to make more room for Transformers dynamics. I'll just have to somehow become independently wealthy, then I can stop wasting my time working, house-cleaning, grocery shopping, bill paying...and fill that voice with trying to re-learn how to turn a dim-witted space robot into a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Friday, February 24, 2012

I have loved PIXAR since the 1986 short film Luxo Jr, which blew my mind and confused me as to whether it was puppetry or stop motion or some kind of magic. Besides for those Cars movies, I think that they are otherwise flawless. They care so much about storytelling and quality, and almost always hit the mark whether their movie is about toys or bugs or fish or a robot. They have been justly rewarded with not only a loyal fan-base, but underrepresented box office success and a truck full of awards.

The poster for their newest effort has me very excited, and makes me think that they are about to bounce back and learn a lesson after the sub-par-mess that was Cars 2. Not the worst movie ever made, but not worthy of the PIXAR brand (especially when other companies are producing some great CG animation like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, How to Train Your Dragon and Rango). You let me down PIXAR, but I am ready to forgive and forget about talking cars and for the next four months think about what magical adventure that lays ahead with this mysterious red-head brandishing a bow & arrow. Throw another Toy Story short in front of it and I'll be really ecstatic.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A belated comment on Valentine's Day and my belated Valentine's Day gifts. I have a long running sarcastic bastard joking comment about Valentine's Day amongst my friends and I. A lot of people hate Valentine's Day, for reasons ranging from commercialism to questioning it's validity as a worthwhile holiday to be listed on a calendar. The usual complaints, the same stuff that hits more powerhouse holidays the likes of Christmas and Easter.

I have a simple and controversial thought about Valentine's Day. If you hate Valentine's Day, it's likely just because you just don't have someone special who is going to hang out with you and buy you things on Valentine's Day. I got to go out and eat yummy sushi, then to see a couple of great romantic themed movies on my Valentine's Day. Then a week later, I got not one but three awesome gifts (lateness due to stuff coming from the magic of the interweb). I got a TARDIS that spins around, I got a Han Solo ice-cube tray, and I got one of those drinky birds that fascinated Homer so.

So begrudge me if you must, be angered at my mocking of your loneliness, but my answer to your hatred of Valentine's Day is to simply find someone to buy you awesome things. Problem solved. You're welcome.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

To say that I'm a fan of Edgar Wright's would be an altogether insanely gross understatement of the facts. I loved his TV show (Spaced), I loved his three movies (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs The World), I even loved the movie that he was just an executive producer on (Attack the Block).

One of the coolest and mad with geek cred power moments I ever had happen to me was when Edgar and I had a bit of a back and forth via the interweb about a screening of Scott Pilgrim that we were having at the Mayfair. He was kind enough to give us a shout out online and sent along a hello message to the Mayfair patrons. When I was intro-ing the movie and said that Edgar and I had some communication recently, there was an audible geek asp from the crowd.

Well, news hit today that Edgar Wright's next film will be Kolchak: The Night Stalker, starring Johnny Depp. So, good news that a new Edgar Wright movie is officially on the horizon. And interesting news that it's based off a great pre-X-Files creepy classic tv series. Bad news that this will delay the mighty reunion of Edgar, Nick Frost and Simon Pegg for their end of the world movie. I guess I can forgive him for taking a gig with the biggest movie star in the world considering his last (amazing) movie tanked at the box-office. He can hopefully use his clout off the success of Kolchak to get financing for the next chapter in the Blood & Ice Cream trilogy and bring further geek joy to the masses.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I haven't been reading the online comic strip PVP since day one, but close. I was introduced to the comic via more computer savvy friends, and once I started reading the thin I was instantly hooked and haven't missed reading a strip since. The basic premise is that it's about a bunch of people who work at / publish a video game magazine...and one of them is a giant friendly blue troll. And now time has flown and the damn strip in almost 14 years old.

Like any ongoing episodic series, various arc's might be slightly difficult to jump in the midst of. Luckily though, the complete archives is available to read off the site. So if you're really ambitious you can o all the way back to day 1 strip 1.

What I like about PVP is it's a true comic rags to riches success story. Or at least a not getting paid to a making a living story. A few years back, in an age when professionals working in more traditional comic book / comic strip medium thought that the online comic business model was a foolish one, Scott Kurtz's PVP slowly built a tiny empire in it's corner of the information super highway. Thanks to fans going directly to the source to buy t-shirts and prints and book collections amongst other merch, he makes a living without having to sell his creations to a publisher or charge his fans to read his work. Imagine a world where Peanuts or Calvin & Hobbes or The Far Side existed in the same realm? There is so much evil and annoyance on the interwebs, so it's nice for a PVP to slip through the entertainment cracks every so often and prove that the net can be used for good as well as evil.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Family Day at The Mayfair is always a little bit of a madhouse. Thanks to the generosity of realtor Tracy Arnett, a couple times a year the theatre presents a free screening along with free popcorn and a free drink for one and all, this time is was the motion picture perfection that is The Princess Bride.

The turnout was pretty incredible, so much so that unfortunately upwards of a couple hundred people had to be turned away. The line-up was still around the block as the capacity reaching 325th person came through the doors. Almost everyone was very understanding that sold out means sold out. The handful that weren't understanding couldn't quite understand that it really didn't matter if a friend was saving a seat for them, when capacity is reached it's unlikely that someone who actually stood in line would exit the theatre to make room for you. And if on the opposite side of the coin, you have saved seats for someone who hasn't arrived yet, it doesn't matter because there are already 325 people in the place. Doesn't matter how angry you get, 325 people + 2 or 3 more people makes more than 325 people. I know that math is hard, but that's relatively simple logic to comprehend.

Negativity from one bad apple aside, the spirits of the rest of the lovely Mayfair patrons really made my day. Everyone was very understanding that free popcorn can only be popped and doled out so fast. When the candy bar tip jar was thieved, rumor of the crime spread and a new tip jar was quickly re-filled. When the film snapped and burned, a riot didn't break out, and there was a rousing cheer of applause when things were fixed and the film started running again. There were a number of wide-eyed adorable little kids in attendance enjoying their first big screen movie experience (hopefully forever tarnishing the multiplex movie watching habit for them). And, after the movie, so many smiles and thanks and praise lavished towards the glory of the Mayfair.

Twas a good Mayfair day all in all. And if every screening was sold out with 200 people turned away, all of our money woes would be gone and we'd have Batmobiles to drive, monocles to wear and robot butlers to boss around.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Tomorrow is Family Day, and families all across Canada will sitting around the family tree, eating family cookies, singing family songs, while the right wing media accuses society of not taking the holiday seriously enough as the war on Family Day rages through our modern times.

If you're in Ottawa, actually get Family Day off from work, and are looking for something special to do with a family, might I suggest going to see a movie at the Mayfair? At 1pm we're screening the modern movie classic that has something for everyone, The Princess Bride. If that wasn't awesome enough, it's free! Now...maybe you should sit down, not only is The Princess Bride free, but you also get a free small popcorn and small drink! Complete and utter madness! Cue the Charlie Brown Family Day theme song!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I'm not a big fan of Kevin Smith as a filmmaker. My favorite film that he directed is probably the original Clerks, which he did with all his friends, with little in the way of skill, and nothing in the way of money. My confusion with Kevin's filmography is that as the budget's get bigger, as the directorial experience stacks up, you would think that the quality of the product might increase. It doesn't seem to though, stuff like Clerks 2 and Zack & Miri Make A Porno look and feel just like his no-budget movie. Other filmmakers seem to evolve, Kevin Smith does not.

Having said that though, even though I insult his skill in his profession, I do think that we could be pals. He's pretty much living the geek dream. He wants to put Stan Lee in a movie, he gets to put Stan Lee in a movie. He gets to write Batman comics at DC and Daredevil comics at Marvel. He has action figures of himself. He has his own comic book store. And as a bonus he has a legion of lemming loyal fanboy worshipers who think that everything he does is gold standard. I am not one of these super fanboys, but I do think he's quite funny. He knows how to speak in public with great skill, and is a skilled writer (not so good with the directing, but good with the writing).

Yesterday I stumbled on the first episode of a new show that AMC is producing called Comic Book Men. Lo and behold, it's a documentary series about Kevin Smith's employees at the New Jersey based Jay & Silent Bob's Secret Stash comic book store. I believe that it came to be out of a podcast hosted by Kevin and featuring his comic shop employees and a guy who while not employed there, does spend all his time there. The last thing that I need in my life is another TV series to watch, but I think I found one.

The show is on Sunday night's after The Walking Dead (I hate that show! Who would have ever thought I could hate a zombie show based on one of my favorite comics!?!). I don't think anyone actually watches TV shows at the actual time that they come on anymore though, so check out the Comic Book Men website, or program the ole' DVR and check it out. And if you are a geek, continue to envy the power geek life being lived by Kevin Smith.

Friday, February 17, 2012

I managed to squeeze in the reading of one comic book into my hectic schedule today. Somewhere in-between signing a lease on a new apartment, doing a bunch of sit in front of the computer writing work, watching Dexter season 5 episode 1, and sound crewing on the first night of a low-budget indie film shoot. The comic I managed to read was Punisher Max #22, released last week from Marvel Comics.

Now, the following is a pretty heavy spoiler, but also not a heavily guarded secret. The cover shows a grave and a RIP gravestone with a tree showcasing a stylized Punisher skull logo amongst it's branches. And, not trick or twist or elaborate dream sequence, The Punisher finally dies in this issue (or I guess in last issue, this one's about the aftermath). Writer Jason Aaron had Frank Castle down, and from what I understand, his whole pitch for this series was to kill off the character. He knew how to get inside Frank's head, he had a bit of a new spin on this decades old character, and he knew how to kill him. The art by Steve Dillon, as per usual is simple, clean, detailed, full of expression and life and amazing. He brings a humanity of the often over-the-top world of comic books that is unmatched.

I've always liked The Punisher. Probably because I like western's, and Frank Castle is no different than numerous Clint Eastwood big-screen anti hero's. Instead of a cowboy he's a soldier, but other than that he fits the mold of the soul scarred warrior out for revenge against evil for the deaths of those he loved.

I've always been amazed that Hollywood hasn't been able to get a Punisher movie right. It's not that hard, I have a feeling that they're over-thinking it and trying to hard to be smart. Three different actors have tried to play Frank Castle, all three in failing projects. You would think that a movie about a fellow in a black T-shirt with a white skull on it running around NYC shooting bad guys would be easy enough to cobble tgoether into an enjoyable action-packed revenge movie. So far, no success.

Don't fret Punisher fans, bad movies and the death of the character do not mean the end. The Max line of Marvel comics exist in it's own adult rated world. So although Frank is actually dead and buried, he lives on in the original Marvel Universe to be a bad role model to geeks everywhere and to kill another day.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Time flies, and it's already been four or five years since mad with power editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics Joe Quesada hijacked the finale of J Michael Straczynski's acclaimed and fan-favorite lengthy run on Spider-man. Quesada had long been vocal about how he wanted a single unmarried Peter Parker, but that he didn't want to resort to a reboot of continuity the way the DC Comics competition had made use of a couple times.

Instead, his bright idea was to have Peter and his wife MJ to make a deal with the devil to save the life of Aunt May. The loving couple gives up their love and the wedding is erased from reality, and in trade for this Aunt May doesn't die. It was a sub-par ham-fisted excuse for a story. Even in terms of the tale taking place in a world of people running around fighting each other in brightly coloured outfits, it just didn't make sense. It put an end to what was a really great run of Spidey books, and most thought it was being done more to appease a company that cared more for streamlining it's characters to be more like their movie storylines.

I gave up on Spider-man at that point. I even nerded out enough to send a really nasty letter to Marvel that actually got nice response from a batch of Marvel employees (not fro Mr. Queseda though). The problem is that I really like Spider-man, but the handling of this MJ storyline made me comic-geek sick. I managed to get my dose of Spidey in his Avengers and Fantastic Four appearances (he's on both teams somehow), but avoided the various monthly Spider-man offerings. I did so because like many a geek, I am petty and hold a grudge. It's either that, or you end up being one of those poor souls who hates the X-Men but continues to buy a dozen titles a month just 'cause the book was cool when you were a kid.

Anyhow, the point of this rant is that thanks to my return to the making use of the library, I read a Spider-man book. Crime & Punisher collects Amazing Spider-man #'s 574 - 577 along with some other tidbits, comics that were originally published right after the Spidey reboot. Like any collection by various contributors, thins are a little hit and miss. The first story is by Marc Guggeheim, a writer I despise, so that didn't go so well. Other stories are by writers Joe Kelly & Zab Wells, who have a much better handle of how to write the character. The best part of the book is the portions with art by the also amazing Chris Bachelo, whom I've been a fan of since Death & Generation X (go read those, they're good!).

All in all a good book, but all the way through I could not stop thinking about how stupid the chain of events to get to this place were. At least I could stick it to the man a little bit by not buying the thing.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The best thing about comic books is that the only limit is the writer and artist's imagination. Or the limit of giant corporations who are the copyright holder's of legendary characters and famous fictional universes, and their willingness to take payment in exchange for the lending out of these characters.

Comic book publisher IDW has gotten permission to do a cool thing and crossover Doctor Who with Star Trek. More specifically, the current Doctor Who and the 1980's/1990's era Next Generation of Star Trek. Maybe the most shocking thing is that it took so long for these two franchises to cross-over in comic book form. Such meetings are nothing new in comic book lore. Batman has battled Predators, Superman has survived a run in with Aliens, Spider-man teamed up with Red Sonja, Hellboy and Savage Dragon fought monsters side by side, and believe it or not The Punisher has crossed paths with Archie and his friends in Riverdale. And, somehow beating Doctor Who / Star Trek to the punch, Star Trek did a cross-over with the X-Men.'s real...go look it up!

You can do anything in comics without the limitation of budget constraints, time limits, or the impossibility of getting together the cast of a TV series at the age they were 20 - 25 years ago to work alongside the cast of a present day TV show. Or if you could pull that off, it would be really expensive and involve lots of special fx, or a time traveling police box.

I guess the same could be said for non-comic book literature of course, that the limit is only in the writer's imagination. But comics have pictures AND words together...and hence are better.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bumblebee is a VW Bug dammit!

News rolled off the geek-er-web that there will be a Transformers movie reboot. All of my dreams come true! Finally the train-wreck of a movie franchise that Spielberg has allowed to happen to my beloved space robots who turn into cars and stuff characters will have a chance to be fixed. Many people would say that Spielberg is the greatest filmmaker of our time, he's directed masterpieces, he's won all the awards, his films have made somewhere in the area of all-the-bazillions of dollars, and he's even appeared in an Austin Powers movie. It's hard to look the other way on his involvement in the Transformers movies though. There for all the world to see, in a big Transformer-y font in all the trailers was the title-card 'executive producer Steven Spielberg'. To be fair, despite their horribleness, the three films combined have made many non-shape-shifting trucks full of all the monies. He is a filmmaker, but he's also in the business of selling movie tickets, so the Transformers movies were a raging success on that front.

But, the past is the past, and I believe in forgiveness, I believe in second (or fourth) chances. So Mister Spielberg and other big-shot movie-making types, hit me with your best shot. Who are you going to get to turn this ship around and make everything well in the world for us geeks who are all dieing to see an awesome live-action Transformers up on the bi-screen in all it's glory? There are so many great sci-fi action / adventure filmmakers out there at the moment, so many who could bring something new and fresh and exciting to the franchise. You already make money with these things, you've proven that, now let's make 'em good! Give us a good summer blockbuster. Get JJ on this project, or maybe Jon Favreau or Brad Bird. How about that guy who directed District 9? That movie was great sci-fi, it even got nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.

And, the director of the reboot Transformers movie is...(dramatic pause)...Michael Bay. What the F!?! The same Michael Bay who directed the first three!? You mean some other Michael Bay right? It's just a coincidence that they have the same name? Pretty unlikely I guess...but possible. Nope...same guy., sometimes I really hate you Hollywood. Always getting my hopes up and then smashing them against the rocks. I kept waiting to hear the Michael Bay was going to move on to ruin something else that I loved. Maybe he'd direct the Bone movie or something like that.

But no, Michael Bay will return for more blurs of giant hard to comprehend cg robot blurs, slow motion action, crappy pop songs and anorexic starlets. Sad geek days indeed. At least you can't take the animated Transformers movie away from me, it will always be awesome.

Monday, February 13, 2012

I Heart Movies

On Valentine's Day Eve, if you are still searching for ideas for something nice and romantic to do with your loved one, I suggest you make your way to the Mayfair on Tuesday night. Unless you are a reader who does not live in Ottawa, then you're on your own. Even if you don't have a special someone to share the night with, or if you are partaking in one of those anti-Valentine's days that are all the rage, we will welcome you too with open arms.

We are presenting two character name titled romantic classics. So, even if you have early or late dinner plans, you can still catch one. At 7pm we have Woody Allen's NYC masterpiece, Annie Hall. And at 9pm we have Jean Pierre Jeunet's french fantasy, Amelie.

If neither of these movies pique your Valentine interest, then you are a fool and you don't deserve to find true love! Sorry, that might have been a bit harsh, I apologize...but have you seen these two movie offerings? They are both really quite fantastic.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Currently marathoning through Dexter seasons 3 through 5 on Blu-Ray. After that I have what seems like a couple dozen other excellent and acclaimed TV shows to get through. I don't have a lot of spare time, or a lot TV time, so I use it wisely. And it's not hard to use it wisely. I hate it when people bitch and moan about how terrible TV is, and yet seem to watch it endlessly. If you have the time to watch TV, and you're complaining about TV, you're not doing it right.

Stop watching reality shows and sub-par sitcoms and re-hashed cop or hospital shows. As sidekick extraordinaire Andy Richter recently exclaimed, "TV is a privilege and you're wasting it!". We are in the midst of the worst TV programming ever produced in the history of the medium. If you produce or watch or talk about stuff like Jersey Show or that show with those Kardashians on it or something about rich wives of football players, you should ashamed of yourself and reevaluate your life. All the bad TV is all your fault.

Having said that though, we are also in the golden age of television. Despite a lot of great programming which has come before, I don't think there has ever been a better selection of shows available for your viewing pleasure. The last decade or so has given us Band of Brothers, Soprano's, Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Carnivale, Arrested Development, Spartacus, Freaks and Geeks, The Office, Six Feet Under, The West Wing, Rescue Me, Californication, Flight of the Conchords, Rome, Madmen, Firefly, the aforementioned Dexter, and the list goes on and on and on.

So stop complaining, stop watching horrible TV, and stop making me and Andy upset with your insulting of the great and mighty television. Or, y'know, failing that...go read a book.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Award Winning Room

Room 218 from Andrew Alexander on Vimeo.

Here's the winning short from Friday night's Painted Lips & Lolly Licks sexy film fest. It was written by my friend Bonnie Robinson. She was also the editor and production manager of my entry to this year's event. Defeated by my own crew! How dare someone display talent when not associated with my work!?!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Being that I live in a central location and walk pretty much everywhere, I enjoy multi-tasking my precious not-enough-hours-in-the-day and listening to audio books on the ole' mp3 player. I especially like listening to autobiographical works from comedians. Not so surprisingly, I find that comedians excel at story-telling, and are very comfortable in the audio-book format. In recent memory I've listened to quite a few books under such a classification, and have particularly enjoyed stuff from the likes of Jon Stewart, Lewis Black, Steve Martin and Tina Fey.

Today I finished listening to a book from Tina's 30 Rock co-worker, Tracy Morgan. I expected humorous tales from Tracy, besides for worshiping 30 Rock, I'm familiar with his laid back insanity filled had to follow yet hilarious appearances on various late night talk shows that I enjoy. A couple times, while he was appearing on Dave or The Daily Show, he hit the status of being so funny that I almost died while watching, laughter getting in the way of breathing. Tracy's book was funny indeed, it was also a great story, and surprisingly inspiring. Comedy and tragedy are closely intertwined, and his life definitely had a very bumpy road before setting into TV star status. I know from various behind-the-scenes stuff, that he's notorious for not giving a damn about the scripted word and improving his way through pretty much everything he does. If you see him to 8 different takes fir a scene, each take will be completely different, not just in tone or speed, but in verily different very off topic topics. And this style worked very well for audio book land. I'm pretty sure I got a lot more info than the book as he seemed to go off the page quite a few times.

So, if you're too busy to read (shameful!) or you're tired of listening to that playlist for the 857th time, try out a handy non-paper book!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Triple X

The Mayfair is celebrating it's 80th birthday this year. Somewhere around the middle of that run (not sure the exact dates off the top of my head, but somewhere in the 1970's), the theatre was an actual full-time adult movie cinema...or what is more commonly known as a porno theatre. That fact especially blows my mind on days when we're showing family friendly fare like a Muppets movie or one of those horrible Alvin & the Chipmunks movies (part three is coming to our screen in March!).

X-rated themes return to the theatre with the 4th annual Painted Lips & Lolly Licks film fest. As the poster tag-line states: Erotic short films from Ottawa and around the world! Wild! Sexy! Funny! Animated! A huge turn on!

The submissions were judged by adult film star Kimberly Kane, pictured above from an X-rated X-Files re-imagining in one of the few photos of her that can be found online which are of the PG variety. If your interest isn't piqued enough already, you should also know that the night will also feature beer for sale in the candy bar and showcase a live performance from the Sin Sisters Burlesque Go-Go & Variety Show. Relive the heyday of controversial underground back-alley cinema while simultaneously supporting independent film-making, Friday night at 9:30, only at the Mayfair.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Sometimes good articles show up in the strangest places thanks to the interwebs. Like the one about The Mayfair's essential Valentine's viewing list that shows up on a website from Ottawa Rickshaws. The article is written by my Mayfair partner Ian Driscoll, and within it I get my geek-in-chief name dropped and a few of my favorite romantic films are listed. I won't spoil it but I'll give you a hint that my list includes robots, skipping school, kickboxing and comic books.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

I lied a couple days ago when I said that I actually managed to beat the deadline and get my submission to this years Painted Lips & Lolly Licks Fest. I didn't lie on purpose, but lied. I had thought that my friend and editor extraordinaire had handed in 'The Fantasy', the short that I wrote and directed. She actually managed to hand in a different project that she worked on, then spent the weekend putting the finishing touches on the effort we worked on. Meaning that I likely stressed out her weekend a bit, and that of the program director as he waited for the submission. Next time I really gotta try to get stuff in like a month early, which means it'll be done a couple days early at least.

So, here's the line-up for this year. A total of 18 shorts from a whopping 6 different countries. Most people can't even name 6 different countries!:

- The Wild, The Untamed Chevonne of the Yukon – dir - Rachel Wiegers, Dawson City, Yukon

- Me or the Porn - dir. Ryan Mains, British Columbia, Canada

- The Fantasy - dir. Josh Stafford, Ottawa, Canada

- Wiggle Room – dir. Julie Keck & Jessica King, USA

- A Sensitive Subject - dir. Nicholaus Hillier. Ottawa, Canada

- The Appointment - dir. Ryan Mains, British Columbia, Canada

- The Widow’s Razor – dir. Melaine J. Mortensen, Ottawa, Canada

- Lighthouse Brewing commercials - dir. Ryan Mains, British Columbia, Canada

- The Gossling Factor - dir. Mike Horrigan, Ottawa, Canada

- Room 218 - dir. Bonnie Robinson, Ottawa

- My Erotic Video Art - dir. Debi Oulu, Israel

- Cold Star - dir. Kai Stänicke, Germany

- Mother of Pearl – dir. Tikul, Spain

- Handcuffs – dir. Erika Lust, Spain

- I.M. in Love – dir. Louis Lush, Australia

- Butch Tits - dir. Jen Crothers, Vancouver, British Columbia

- Galactic Docking Company - dir. Clark Nikolai, Vancouver, British Columbia

- Egg - dir Sadie Lune, USA

Monday, February 06, 2012

A (Cult)ured February

In the constant hectic-ness that is my day to day life, I just realized that I neglected to post a link to the latest Mayfair article from (cult)ure magazine. We're already somehow a week into the second month of 2012, but there's still plenty of upcoming films to read about in the article.

We discuss amongst other bits of cinematic Mayfair offerings, the controversial fiction of Sleeping Beauty and real life madness of the documentary Tabloid. We discuss the fun of going to watch the Oscars at the Mayfair, even though we don't have high praise for the cinematic awarding process in general. Plus, let's not forget Blaxsploitaiton / Eddie Murphy month, that Roger Corman is one of the most important men in the history of movies, and that James Cameron has really gone downhill since not hiring Michael Biehn for those flops Avatar and Titanic.

And as per usual, April and I fall off topic in discussing things like out love of The Muppets and our hatred of 3-D. As their tag-line says 'Just another month at the Mayfair'

Sunday, February 05, 2012

I'm a bit fascinated at the state that television is currently in. In spite of any concerns over the death of episodic television due to the internet, tv programming seems to be better than it's ever been. It's also worse than it's ever been, but the excellence is staggering as long as you ignore and have better things to do with your time than watch D grade celebrities eating bugs for Donald Trump on reality programming. No matter your taste, if you say that there's nothing worth while on tv, you're not trying even trying in the slightest to find something good to watch.

I still don't quite understand the business model behind legal streaming of television programs online, or the phenomenon that is Netflix, but I do think it's the death of television as we know it. Not the death of tv shows, just the death of channels or time-slots mattering to them (network executives, tv producers, Nielsen families) or us. I think journalism will continue on without newspapers, I think tv shows will continue without tv. We'll still have a thing in our living rooms to watch stuff on, but we just don't have to worry about tuning in at 8pm anymore.

I am currently marathoning through season 3 of Dexter, season 4 and 5 to follow (Blu Ray's borrowed to me). Without paying for cable, I still get to legally watch via streaming shows I enjoy watching like MTV Live, Daily Show, Colbert Report, Conan etc. And some of the other shows that I enjoy watching that aren't readily available via streaming, I still manage to catch somehow. That's all I can say about that.

I've also recently delved into the wonder that is Netflix. In a similar manner to the state of TV, I have heard some say that there is nothing to watch on Netflix...those people are insane. Netflix not only has endless Marvel Comics cartoons, it has all 6 seasons of Xena, and Cool As Ice starring Vanilla Ice (a movie that I knew of, but totally forgot existed). A friend of mine compared it to pre-Blockbuster era video stores, filled with a ton of B grade stuff, a bunch of stuff you've already seen, and a few new releases. I am someone who will watch anything though, and hence I was actually very excited to stumble upon the aforementioned info that Netflix has Cool As Ice. Don't judge me!

I think it was back when I was in film school, some pompous classmate bragged that they didn't even have a TV, and that TV doesn't have the scope of movies. TV totally has a broader scope than movies. Did the character Buffy develop more in a singular movie, or in 7 years of her self-titled series? If you have to brag that you have no TV, that means you think you're better than people who like TV. TV is great, just don't mindlessly sit in front of it for 18 hours a day, 7 days a week. I would give similar advice that it's not good to sit around reading for 18 hours a day, 7 days a week. Doesn't mean I think books will rot your brain.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Is it possible for a cover band to be one's favorite band? 'Cause I am relatively sure that Sheezer is my favorite band. The thought was re-instigated in my mind upon seeing them for the fourth time tonight at Zaphod's in Ottawa. You should keep an eye out for Sheezer listing's on various Sheezer online places (like the Facebooks or the Twitters), and rearrange your schedule to make sure to check them out at their next live performance at a venue near you.

Friday, February 03, 2012

One of my favorite bands in all of the universe makes their grand return to our nation's capital on Saturday night. Sheezer, like Weezer, are awesome. They sing the same songs, the big differences being that Sheezer are girls and Canadian. Both things that may make them an even better band than the original thing (I'm just kidding of course, I am super mega Weezer fan). I've seen the real Weezer twice, and both concerts were incredible indeed. The latest time I saw Weezer included the unexpected turn of events of me helping hold up an outhouse that Rivers Cuomo was standing atop while singing. I have seen Sheezer three times, one of those times they were all in Sailor Scout attire, all three times they have praised Ottawa as a favorite place to play. I look forward to viewing number four tomorrow, and if you don't hear from me afterwards it's because I've hit the open road with them Almost Famous style.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

In a staggering turn of events, my directorial submission for this years Painted Lips and Lolly Licks sexy film fest at the Mayfair has been turned in a whopping four days ahead of deadline. While I was busy watching Groundhog Day inside, my editor was kind enough to drop by the theatre and deliver the final product. For the second year in a row I'm very pleased with the saucy lil' short that my friends and I have slapped together. This years sexy tale is titled 'The Fantasy' (I hate comin up with titles), it stars Ray Besharah and Scare-Ah Lynne Sin, and features music from The Reverb Syndicate. View it's world premiere, along with a diverse collection of other short films under the same theme, Friday February 10th at the Mayfair. As a bonus, for no additional extra charge, Scare-Ah Lynne Sin and her Sin Sisters will be there performing a burlesque opening act. The prefect pre-Valentine night out, all for a mere $6 for members and $10 for non-members.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

On the heels of DC Comics rebooting their whole universe in 2011, it was hard to imagine that they could possibly top that in any way possible in 2012. Then, early this-morning news came over the geek-er-web that knocked comic nerds on their ears. After much speculation, rumors and hints that this unbelievable event could ever happen, DC announced that they would publish a number of new comic mini-series set within the Watchmen universe. This summer they'll release a number of prequel tales, all without participation or approval of Watchmen writer and co-creator Alan Moore. Alan Moore has already in recent years been pissed off by unwanted adaptations of his work put into motion picture form. His name was noticeably absent from the film version of Watchmen. Dave Gibbons, the brilliant illustrator of the book, didn't have the same reaction, his name was on the film, and he helped out on some of the designs.

The first thing that I thought when I read the news this-morning was that the editors at DC better watch out, since I'm pretty sure that Alan Moore is a warlock with magic powers. The second slightly more serious thought was that I hate it when publishers do things like this, against the express objection of creators. Imagine if Calvin & Hobbes was coming back without Bill Watterson or someone other than JK Rowling was being allowed to write Harry Potter stories, and the creators were furious but couldn't do anything about it.

The third thing I thought was "Holy Hell, look at the writers and artists on these damn things!". Every single mini-series is being done by top notch creators. Not just A+ talent, but as a bonus, some artists who are incredible and don't even draw comics that month. Amanda Conner, my favorite artist, is on a book. Adam Hughes is drawing one, and I actually can't remember that last time he's drawn sequential art it's been so long. Andy Kubert is popular enough in his own right, add the fact that his legendary father Joe Kubert is along for the ride as well, and that's another must read comic. There are seven mini-series and I want to read every single one of them despite my objections.

I can see both sides of the problematic argument here. DC Comics owns these characters, they are a business, they will make money off of this decision. And, they will be giving money from the likely success of these new comics to original creators Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Plus, they clearly care about making the books the best quality that they possibly can by hiring this stellar group of comic book writers and artists.

I can't help but feel that DC is falling to reed and ease over true possibility of profitable creativity though. Instead of prequelizing arguably the best super hero comic ever made, why not tell new stories. Instead of a press release about Watchmen prequels, what if instead the press release was to announce all of these creators making brand new characters for the publisher. Not Superboy's, Batirl's or Kid Flash's...but actual brand new characters. I know that I for one as a comic book reader would have been just as interested in an announcement as such.

Like a Star Wars nerd complaining endlessly about Geore Lucas and Star Wars and then buying the Blu Rays anyhow, despite any hesitation I might have over fat cats disrespecting artists, I will read the hell out of all of these upcoming comics. Even though I'm afraid that Alan Moore might curse me and turn me into a frog.