Saturday, July 09, 2005

Not fit to pick up their pens

Bruce Tinsley, the guy who draws and writes the "Mallard Filmore" strip, has gotten his feathers in a tizzy. It seems that America: The Book, by the Daily Show staff, contains a parody of said strip and well, here's how Tinsley has responded.

Now, aside from the fact that Tinsley has roughly the same sense of timing as Ben Creekmore, this brings to mind two things, both relating to satirists who are better at what they do than is Mr. Tinsley.

G.B. Trudeau wrote in his book Flashbacks: 25 Years of Doonesbury:

Satire picks a one-sided fight, and the more its intended target reacts, the more its practitioner gains the advantage.

I'm also reminded of the case Fox tried to make against Al Franken. Like Mr. Tinsley's slam, it revolved around the idea that bookstore patrons would be deceived (by his use of the phrase "fair & balanced") into thinking Franken's book was, in fact, a Fox-sanctioned product.

It was literally laughed out of court.

Bill, just resign already

William Rehnquist is playing it coy about whether he will or will not resign.

When asked about retirement rumors, he answered: ''That's for me to know and you to find out,'' before getting into a waiting car.

But when the thermometer goes way up...

NPR interview with "Kinsey" director Bill Condon.

Dusting off an old fave...

And now, it's time once again to play...

Who Said It?

I'm tired of these Democrats acting like they won the election. Somebody needs to stand up and say, "When you win the election, you pick the nominees. Until then, shut up! Just shut up! Just go away! Bury yourselves in your rat holes and don't come out until you win an election. When you win an election, you can put all these socialist wackos, like Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, all over the court, but until then, SHUT UP! You are really irritating me."

Now, who said it?

Some redhot, coked-out young republican chickenhawk blogger?

Or was it...

I haven't mentioned this in a while, have I?

The Catholic Church serves one good purpose and one good purpose only. And that is to put 16-year-old girls in conviently short skirts and fill their heads up with how sinful sex is, so the thought of it will turn them on even more. And believe me, that is a useful service to mankind.

But other than that, the Catholic Church is completely and utterly irrelevant, and only superstitious, credulous fools think otherwise.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Jeepers Creepers 2/The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003 remake)

Watched these couple of horror movie sequel/remakes on cable and/or DVD recently. I have to admit, "Jeepers" director/creator/writer Victor Salva knows how to make a good looking film--there are shots in this movie that are way too beautiful for the drive-ins it's meant to inhabit (in spirit if not in fact--do they even have drive-ins any more?).

It's almost enough to make you wonder what would happen if he let someone else write his films, someone who doesn't have his particular demons. But that's unlikely. Because the creepiest thing about this movie is knowing that we're watching a film by a man who is a convicted child-molester.

A man who once videotaped himself having oral sex with a 12-year-old, was sentenced to three years in jail and served 15 months. A man who has now made two movies that are about, as my favorite horror-movie review site put it:

I finally grasp what the Jeepers Creepers movies are REALLY all about. The Creeper is a flying psychotic man who happens to be gay. He’s on the hunt for young males, to eat, use their body parts and staple nude on his wall. Think Jeffrey Dahmer, but with wings. The Creeper has no interest in girls, likes to flirt with his future male conquests before picking them up (like winking at them or smiling) and although the films tells you that when he sniffs the air, he’s smelling your fear...we all know that he’s really smelling crotch (remember Darry’s undies in the first? He had a field trip with those!) Everything makes sense now.

That's why I didn't watch either of them in the theater, why I won't pay to rent them on DVD, but only watch them on cable. And as I say, there's enough skill on hand to make that worth an idle hour and 45 minutes...but still, waay too creepy for me knowing what I know.

As for Texas Chainsaw 2003, here's a movie that flat-out did not need to be made. One of the scariest things about the original is that there is almost no gore, it's all done with implication and sound effects and mood. Not the case here.

But I've got to say one thing. If you see this film, and obviously I'm not saying you should, but if you do: I defy you...I don't care if you're a woman, I don't care if you're a feminist, I don't care if you're Gloria freakin' Steinem, I don't care if you're sick of tit jokes...I defy you to watch Jessica Biel legging her way around in this movie, and not be thinking to yourself:

"Boing, boing, boing, boing...."

It's impossible.

Better far than a metaphor could ever, ever be

Once or twice over at the old blog, I've linked to articles by the editor of, Jim Emerson. This morning he's got a good piece on the politics underneath the scares of Spielberg's "War of the Worlds". It still doesn't make me want to go out and plunk down seven dollars for a ticket, but it does make me more likely to "risk" the three bucks for a rental.

Any movie worth its popcorn salt is always a (mixed) metaphor for something
else – often several something elses. Maybe they aren’t followed through, maybe
they’re more like allusions or references than fully developed motifs or
metaphors, but because movies consist of complex patterns of fluid, intertwined
images they can’t help but suggest something beyond the photographic reality of
what is literally captured in the frame (which is why the word “literally”
doesn’t even really apply to movies, because they continually move and change as
they unreel and can’t quite be nailed down. After all, they’re movies).

Oh, man

The writer Evan Hunter, also known as Ed McBain, has died. He was best known for his "87th Precinct" series of novels which I discovered several years ago when I was working at a used bookstore and quickly devoured as many as I could-I'm like that.

My favorites were "Lightning" and most of the books featuring Hunter/McBain's recurring villian, The Deaf Man. "Lightning" is about a multiple rapist who keeps raping the same women. The motivation that's eventually revealed when he's caught, and the precinct's reaction to same, is masterfully done.

And "Let's Hear It For The Deaf Man" has possibly my favorite passage from any of the novels:

"The discovery was frightening. Give me the smart ones anytime, Carella
thought. I'll take a thousand like the Deaf Man if you'll only keep the
stupid ones away from me."

It's still kinda hard to argue with. So, Mr. McBain/Mr. Hunter, hoardes of angels speed thee to thy rest and all that.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


Finally caught up with this movie on DVD; the reviews had scared me away from the theatrical release. They're right, it doesn't quite work, but I'm damned if I can understand why. I hate to say it, but I think the blame has to be laid on the script.

There are many genuinely funny moments but it doesn't add up to anything substantial or culminate in any satisfying way. And when I think the screenplay is the worst part of a James L. Brooks movie...that's damning. Brooks is one of my biggest influences and I can still hear myself in his work (which I know really means the opposite, but go with me).

His eye for casting is breathtaking, as is his skill at getting genuine performances out of his actors. He's also got a real talent for making offbeat romantic pairings work (and you say he's a big influence on you?). Think Nicholson and Helen Hunt in As Good As It Gets, Albert Brooks and Holly Hunter in Broadcast News.

Here the Venus Paz Vega is paired with clumsy gag man Adam Sandler, who in the past has not been one of my favorites. But he's actually fabulous in this. That goes for most of the cast. For fans of good acting, it's worth a rental--but I would really love to have seen many of these same actors playing these same characters-only in a better-structured screenplay.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Fair's fair

Bill Sherman was kind enough to link to my comments about the Showtime TV series "Huff," on the old blog, when adding his own.

You know...

I really wish that little on-air program guide would tell me when Bob Costas is subbing for Larry King.

Well, once again, here we are

As I'm assuming most of you reading this know, for a little under two years I have been writing a blog called The Sound of the Crowd, published via the Ink 19 site. As a blogger, I have recently come to a parting of the ways with that site, though I remain an editor/reviewer there and have nothing bad to say about it.

The mission statement of this new blog will remain (in no particular order):

To record my depressing attempts to bring my characters to the screen.
To mark the passing of those who should have their passings marked.
To indulge in Schadenfreude as Bush's ratings sag.
To act as a self-appointed filter for the "MSM."
To pull the covers off hypocritical Republicans.
To push for the US to get out of Iraq.
To occasionally indulge myself by running song lyrics.
To chart the troubling rise of homophobia and related activities in this country.
And yes, though it may not seem so from most of the above, to steal a laugh when and where we can. Especially by mocking the illiterate, the stupid, and the state of Tennessee.

As before, I'll occasionally be recommending material that I'm not reviewing in full over at Ink 19, and of course I'll be mentioning when those full reviews do go up.

Oh, and by the way, why "Dictionopolis in Digitopolis?" The title of my new blog derives from the classic book and movie The Phantom Tollboth, both of which were favorites of my youth. Again, I'm assuming most of you have read and/or seen it, but just as a reminder, in both, Dictionopolis is the kingdom of words and Digitopolis the kingdom of numbers.

A blog, being comprised of words on the internet, which is comprised of numbers. is therefore...

You see how it all balances out.

Anyway, welcome and/or welcome back.

Well, this is a fine how-do-you do

I wasn't even sure I wanted to start another blog yet;, and I certainly didn't want to start one with another obit. But I just learned on Mark Evanier's blog that Ernest Lehman has died and I didn't want to let that pass without expressing my sorrow.

Lehman, the author of North by Northwest and the screen versions of The Sound of Music and The King and I to name a very few, was something of a screenwriter's screenwriter. William Goldman and Larry Gelbart, niether of them exactly unknown themselves, both devoted chapters of their books Which Lie Did I Tell? (Goldman) and Laughing Matters (Gelbart) to praising Lehman. In his, Goldman reports that he once had a crew member point out Lehman to him on a set with the words "Even his flops are hits."

As for me, I said over on my late, lamented blog The Sound of the Crowd two or three months ago of North by Northwest that:

For all that the famous action sequences get praised, I'm in love (or at
least wildly infatuated) with Ernest Lehman's dialogue,
which is sheer pleasure.

I've got little to add to that. Sheer pleasure.