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Saturday, July 24, 2004

Shake It!

How the hell can it still do this? How, after almost a year of constant over-exposure, can it still make me want to dance in the middle of a busy shopping centre. Why, when I hear it down the shops or in a club, do I still smile like that? 

Beyonce's 'Crazy In Love' ladies and gentlemen -- still doing it for me one year on! Why? Because it's a damned good pop song, that's why! This has been today's statement of the obvious. Message ends. 

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Friday, July 23, 2004

Quote Vs Quote

"A wise man told me don't argue with fools/ Cause people from a distance can't tell who is who"

(from 'Takeover', by Jay-Z)

vs

"If you're not willing to take an artistic risk because you're afraid of looking like an idiot then you're even more of an idiot!"

(also from Conversation #1, by James Kochalka and Craig Thompson)

Fight!!

Truthully, though, I'm not that bothered about looking like an idiot. I've spent most of my life being an arse, so lets be honest, I'm used to it. But at the same time, there are some arguments that frustrate the hell out of me even when I'm pretty sure I'm making sense, so I guess I can kinda dig where Jay-Z is coming from on this one.

More later!

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Saturday, July 17, 2004

COOK THE DOCTOR!



Have I ever mentioned the fact that we have a shop Dalek before? God knows why, but we do. The metallic bugger's even recommending books these days, as you may be able to tell from the above photo. Yeah, it's recommending a cookery book right now. You got a problem with that? Didn't think so. Anyways, I'm done with the internet for today. Time to finish off the comic book script I've been working on, do a little bit of reading, and then go to bed.

Take it easy out there!

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The Power Of The Sun In The Palm Of My Hand

I thoroughly enjoyed Spider-Man 2 on the whole, but boy did bits of it ever fall flat. And when I say "flat" here you can be damn sure I mean Flat Stanley flat.

Oh yes, there are quite a few bad things about this very entertaining movie. The speeches, for one thing, could've done with a bit of work. This Peiratikos post by Steven nails this point perfectly -- the movie gets its thematic points across better when the characters don't spell them out for us in grotesquly clumsy detail (Aunt May, I'm looking at you here!). Why in a movie with so much good storytelling in it do such wonky elements exist? I honestly can't fathom it out! Uncle Ben's ghost is another offender. Again, there was no need for this clunky, clunky scene. At least the jesus christ pose scene was funny (Toby Maguire's gurning face cracked me up, I'll admit). This scene... god, it was just painful.

As for the romance plot... well, it was fine in and of itself, but I just don't think that either Toby Maguire or Kirsten Dunst really work in their respective roles here, and I find the scenes they're supposed to carry between them really, really uniteresting as a result of this. Peter Parker may be a dork, but why does he look like he's about to drip right off the screen in this film? And as for Mary Jane, well, she's a little bit too sleepy for me I'm afraid!

The lack of quippage was another weak spot for me. Sure, there were one or two good quips in there, but "one or two" doesn't really cut it. I know that you cant fit as much dialogue into an action scene in a movie as you can in a comic (especially not when you go for the high-octain style of action that Raimi and co have went for here), but I guess this really comes under my "Peter Parker is a bit too drippy here" complaint.

But as much as these elements stink up the place, the good bits are definitely good enough to make up for it.

Doc Ock, for one thing, was spectacular. Alfred Molina puts in a damned good turn here; his Octavious seems interesting enough, and when he turns into a scenery chewing villain, you can consider me officially fucking happy! The filmmakers do an absolutely amazing job of translating this character to the screen, and the tentacles were deeply, deeply menacing and "real" looking. Cartoony as they may be, there's a threatening solidity and gravity to them here that scared the crap outta me. The scene in the hospital where Doc Ock wakes up is case in point -- it's just superbly handled, and is exactly what you were hoping for when you thought of Sam Raimi doing a big budget superhero movie. It's nasty, visceral, and completely OTT, just as it should be.

In fact, the special effects in general were pretty good. As in the first movie, the SFX flit back and forth between looking "real" and looking like really good SFX. Needless to say, I'm largely sold on them regardless of where they fall in this set up. The fight scenes look very, erm, fighty and intense, while the shots of Spider-Man swinging around town are very bit as joyous as they should be.

Another thing I really like about the movie is the way that it fearlessly shifts tone at the drop of the world's most figurative hat. Like the first scene with Peter's landlord in it -- the doorway to his room is like the doorway to some other movie! Or the way they have the little lady playing/singing "Spider-Man, Spider-Man/ Does whatever a spider can" -- what the hell?! Where did that come from?

My personal favourtie comedy scene is the one with a fully costumed Spider-Man in the lift... the amount of time that scene goes on for... man, it's just perfect! The obligatory Bruce Campbell cameo was pretty damned funny too. But then, I would say that, because I kinda recon he's the man, so maybe you shouldn't pay too much attention to what I say on this point.

J. Jonah Jameson, on the other hand, is undeniably spectacular in this movie. Does J.K. Simmons ever look and act like he's been mysteriously transported straight from the pages of a comic book and onto the screen or what?! Simmons' comedy contribution to this film is so big that it deserves a seperate post all to itself, but I don't have the time for that right now, so I guess this mention will have to do for now. The fact that Ted Raimi is one of his comic foils doesn't hurt matters either... damn, but I love this stuff. In fact, come to think of it, it's the less-prominent characters that truly sell this movie for me. Take the landlord's daughter, for example. She's the star of the movie's weirdest scene, and provides a hint of romance that, to me, is far more interesting than any of the Parker/Mary Jane interaction, despite her extremely limited screentime.

Anyway, that's enough of that for now. Take care out there y'all!

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Thursday, July 15, 2004

Don't make me use my stuff on ya, baby!

It's true that Bubba-Ho-Tep would probably have been a better movie if it was either more serious or less serious than it acutally is. It's far too sad and slowly paced to work as a full-on goofball comedy, but too much of a silly B-movie to work as a serious bit of poetic fantasy.

However far from perfect the actual finished version of the movie may be, it still has much to recommend it -- one glance at a summary of the film's plot ought to tell you that!

Here's one I stole from the back of the box:

"Mud Creek, Texas, is about to get all shook up. when mysterious deaths plague the Shady Rest retirement home, it's up to an aging, cantankerous "Elvis" (Bruce Campbell), and a a decripit--and black--"JFK" (Ossie Davis) to defeat a 3,000-year-old mummy with a penchant for sucking human souls! Can the king show the world that he can still take care of business?"

Now obviously the above summary wins bonus points from me for including the word "cantankerous" and the name "Bruce Campbell" in the same sentence, but even without those two elements this sound like exactly the sort of stupid shit that I love. And the movie works for me on that level, pretty much. Watching a performer as physical as Campbell rain himself in while playing an aged Elvis is quite wonderful, and lends the action scenes a certain special quality that far outstrips their budget. He's also not half bad at handling the darker material -- watching this old guy try to find a bit of dignity for himself is both amusing and affecting at the same time... it's just the rest of the movie that doesn't quite maintain this balance!

Being, as I am, a big Bruce Campbell fan and a lover of weird little stories like this, I enjoyed Bubba-Ho-Tep a lot. Its charms are distinctly low-key, but all the more endearing for it.

Tonight -- Spider-Man 2!
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Shake It Off

Hey, howsit going? Long time no see. Enough with the cliches -- here are my answers to a few rather odd questions. This quiz via David Fiore, among others.

--What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Total isolation, baby.

--Where would you like to live?

In my own personal version of Legoland. Failing that, the West End of Glasgow would do just nicely.

--What is your idea of earthly happiness?

Probably some sort of massive party with everyone I love.

--To what faults do you feel most indulgent?

Laziness and vanity.

--Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?

Cliff Steele, Leopold Bloom, Donnie Darko and Alec MacGarry. Flex Mentallo too, now that I think about it.

--Who are your favorite characters in history?

Oscar Wilde, Hugo Ball, Rosa Parks and Jo Ann Robinson.

--Who are your favorite heroines in real life?

PJ Harvey and the members of Sleater-Kinney.

--Who are your favorite heroines of fiction?

Emma Frost and Willow Rosenberg. Also, Enid and Rebecca from Ghost World.

--Your favorite painter?

I like quite a bit of Dali's early work (yeah, I know -- it's a crushingly boring choice, but my knowledge of art is terrible!)

--Your favorite musician?

Frank Black when he's playing with the Pixies.

--The quality you most admire in a man?

Compassion, though it helps if it's tempered with an absurd sense of humour.

--The quality you most admire in a woman?

The same.

(Given my enthusiasm for these traits in men, women, and works of art alike, is it any wonder that I love the Morrison/Case Doom Patrol more than almost anything else?)

--Your favorite virtue?

I'm not sure how to answer this in the light of my responses to the last two questions, so I'll just say kindness and move on.

--Your favorite occupation?

Goat herder.

--Who would you have liked to be?

Jimmy "Slim-Jim" Jameson, the world's most famous goat herder. In all seriousness though, I wouldn’t really want to be anybody else. Cos if I was, then I wouldn't get whatever the supposed benefits of being this other person would be, because I'd no longer be me, would I?

Also -- I kinda like being me, sad as that may seem.

--Your most marked characteristic?

My randomness. That, and my huge ego.

--What do you most value in your friends?

The conversation. It's also kinda handy that they don't freak out when I consume obscene amounts of sugar.

--What is your principle defect?

Aside from my copious sugar-consumption, that would have to be my tendency to turn inward at every opportunity.

--What is your dream of happiness?

It’s probably the same party scenario I described when asked about my earthly idea of happiness, except that since this is a dream I’d like the party to be perpetual.

--What to your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes?

Bono, Sting and David Gray teaming up to make a record together. I only say this to avoid writing some crushingly grim answer to the above question -- seriousness, it seems to me, is not always a virtue.

--What would you like to be?

Way smarter and more sensitive than I am.

--In what country would you like to live?

Truthfully, I’m not that bothered. I’d like to live in America briefly, but in the end I’m fairly happy right here in sun-scorched Scotland.

--What is your favorite color?

Blue.

--What is your favorite flower?

Never been much of a flower person.

--What is your favorite bird?

Never been much of a bird person either, but I once had a pet Finch that was quite cute.

--Who are your favorite prose writers?

Paul Auster, J.L. Borges, James Joyce, Flann O’Brien and the wobbly but brilliant Philip K. Dick.

--Who are your favorite poets?

William Blake, Emily Dickinson, Edwin Morgan and Allen Ginsberg.

--Who are your heroes in real life?

Shouldn't this question have been sequenced with the other "hero/heroine" questions? Ach well -- I like local boys with a good line in bullshit, so Grant Morrison'll do for an answer here.

--What are your favorite names?

Judging from my various attempts at writing fiction, the names Dan and Lanna seem to be favourites of mine.

--What is it you most dislike?

The fact that the wealth and comfort in the world is so fucking unevenly distributed (good god I'm getting ernest and angry here!).

--What historical figures do you most despise?

Pretty much any dictator you care to mention. Also, Maggie Thatcher.

--What event in military history do you most admire?

Piss off!

--What reform do you most admire?

Fucked if I know.

--What natural gift would you most like to possess?

I'd like to have a totally foolproof metabolism so that I could eat what I wanted to without worrying. Like, ever.

--How would you like to die?

I’d really rather not.

--What is your present state of mind?

Is silliness a state of mind? If so, then there’s your answer!

--What is your motto?

"Being clever's a fine thing, but sometimes a boy just needs to get out of the house and meet some girls."

Admittedly, this motto would need some serious reconsideration should I ever find myself feeling strong bi-curious urges, but it’ll do for now.

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