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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Steve Doocy's Grade School Logic



While reporting on a story about military contractor Trijicon's decision to remove Bible passages from its rifle scopes, Fox and Friend's Steve Doocy decided to take the "high road". He quoted his wife in basically saying that since the Muslims "started it"-- the IT being the radical Muslims battle cry of Allahu Akbar-- that "we" had the right to have Bible passages on our weapons.





Really? This is the "reasoning" and "intellect" used by Republican pundits to defend a moronic policy? "They started it"?! That's that argument? You see, this is why religion (or religious nuts) have no business dealing in politics-- radical Muslims AND radical Christians included!

I guess it's a good thing that people like Doocy are left to merely report on these things form a comfy studio, as opposed to making important decisions about foreign policy. Even General Petraeus called this revelation "disturbing". Trijicon has said that they will send modification kits out to remove the numbers from the scopes. Looks like their tagline "Brilliant Aiming Solutions" does not apply to their judgement.

Kill first, ask questions never. That's the Republican's foreign policy credo. And this is why we are in this situation in the first place. If certain Americans could only stop finding reasons to kill brown people, we may not have to be on the defense all the time. And using one man's religious fervor to try to quell ANOTHER man's religious fervor gets us nowhere. There are many reasons why we were attacked on 9/11....NONE OF THEM have to do with Muslims hating us "for our freedom". And the more we follow this knee-jerk Neo-con crap, the worse things will get.

Down With Brown


I had to give myself a little bit of time before I could comment on what happened in Massachussets on Tuesday. What with the Democrats imploding, and the Republicans climaxing, it's been kinda difficult to think. But now, after a little bit of time has passed, I'd like to talk about what all this stuff could really mean.

Now, I'm no big-time journalist, or DC insider, but that hasn't stopped me before from expressing my opinions on political matters. And when it comes to this...this silly silly kinda crazy stupid Tuesday in January, I'd like to say that I believe that all sides of the political spectrum in this matter have about as much perspective as fruit flies.

So Democrats. Democrats, Democrats, Democrats-- what are we going to do with you? You know, I remember during the presidential campaign that a lot of people kept questioning now-President Barry about his approach. They wanted him to be angrier, they wanted him to be more aggressive. But he did his own thing, right up until the end. And, well, we all know the results. I had to acknowledging the fact that this man MUST know what he's doing. In the face of all that criticism, and second-guessing, and Monday-morning quarterbacking, it turned out that he actually knew what he was doing(!). And I don't think that's changed. I STILL think he knows what he's doing. I just think the problem is that he is trying to do it with the wrong people.

Bill Maher had a great quote about Obama-- that he was, basically, Michael Jordan playing with L.A. The Clippers; a superstar on a crappy team. And I see that. I see that with the Health Care bill. I see that with his economic team. And I see that with this Mass. loss. Bottom line, Cloakley was a sh*tty  senator, and did not deserve to win. PERIOD. I just don't buy this "referendum on Obama/Health Care/Economy" crap. She was NO GOOD. And when you are not good at your job, you get fired. So now, President Obama has some tough choices to make. He'll have to clean house a bit. He'll have to start stepping on a few necks to get these bumbling goofballs to shape up their acts. The Democrats have always been weak. They STILL have the majority in the House and Senate, and they're whining and bitching about ONE LOSS. Get over it. Get your sh*t together, and get to work!

And the Republicans. Sigh. Look, I like to see people happy. And no people in the ENTIRE UNIVERSE were as happy as the Republicans were on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. Good for them. You guys found yourselves a D-List celebrity family to flaunt around. After all that negative talk about Obama being NOTHING BUT a celebrity...you guys finally get one. And, of course, now you're accepting of it. Because you won. The only problem is the Republicans are still run by a bunch of ass-backward clowns (no offense to clowns). And I would probably be one myself, were it not for their INSANELY crappy leadership/values. So now, they've co-opted a D-list Trojan Horse member of the Teabagger party. And this is why I am happy.

We've all seen the Teabaggers. We've all heard their arguments. And there is seemingly not a single braincell among them all. But they don't care. They're proud of their pro-religious/anti-intellectual views. Ask a Teabagger a serious question. If they can put down their "Obama is an African" posters long enough, they will answer it with nothing more that double talk and misheard soundbites. These people have Pavlonian responses that come straight from Fox News' false propaganda machine. They so desperately want to be heard...but do not want the "liberal media" to criticize them. Isn't that funny? So QUICK to pass judgement, but completely incapable of receiving it. Well, they wouldn't be able to hear it anyway, because they'll just start screaming stupid sh*t like "BABY KILLER" or "SOCIALIST", or other things that they heard Glenn Beck saying.

It's really difficult to follow politics these days. You've got a bunch of news personalities trying to hold serious debates about important issues in 7-10 minute segments, which usually just end up being a bunch of so-called "experts" reciting soundbites over each other, and NOT LISTENING. Or you have these "reporters" doing softball interviews without really CHALLENGING anyone (if I see ONE MORE softball interview with Rudy Guilliani or Sarah Palin, I'm going to scream). But, unfortunately, politics, and those who report on it, is a business. And we are the consumers suckers stuck with this lot. And, sooner or later, we have to turn American Idol off, and start paying attention to what these idiots are doing to our country. Whether it's the Dems, or the GOP, or the Teabaggers, or the Libretarians...business is business.

I think we need some new entrepreneurs, yes?


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"White Guilt" and Avatar: Soul Brothers?


Jesus. It's getting so we can't even enjoy a ground-breaking science fiction film anymore without people getting all crazy about the hidden messages and metaphors within them. Many groups are taking offense to James Cameron's BILLION $$$$ hit "Avatar": anti-smoking groups, disabled groups, and racial groups. Makes you wonder if you'd be hearing any of this if this film was a flop (you would not). But I digress...

So the question of the day: Does Avatar promote White guilt OR White racial fantasies? In my review, I declared the film a remake of Dances with Wolves (which it is-- don't deny it). And films like Wolves, and District 9 and The Matrix and The Last Samurai and Enemy Mine and Alien Nation and Tron and The Last Starfighter have often been accused of using the iconic White male image as savior to the indigenous or native people of "insert nation here". There are stories that follow the model of the "every(white)man" who is discovering a group of people that is "alien" to him. We are in his shoes as we, too, discover that a group of people that we have been told to hate...turns out to be misunderstood. It is the "establishment" who are the enemy, and the hated group are actually the good guys. And it is only through our protagonist that we are able to see that. He/She is our way in-- our spy, so to speak. And upon making this discovery, we have become traitors; just as our hero has. And not only has our hero become a traitor...he has also, even, become the leader of the group. "The One."

Look, I have been following stories on race in America for a long time. I understand the history of race and it's social and economic ramifications. And I'm the first one to call "racism" WHEN IT WARRANTS IT. The problem is that we're at this point in America when the cup of racism is bubbling over...and no one knows how to address it. People are incapable of having intelligent conversations about race in this country because everyone is too quick to get defensive. EVERYONE takes a racial conversation personally. So every time it comes up, someone starts shouting and yelling and name-calling...and that's all she wrote. All talks collapse, and nothing is accomplished. And why? Because Blacks assume that all Whites are like their slave-owning ancestors, and Whites think that Blacks are looking for revenge. And both groups are f**king stupid. Both groups need to pull their heads out of their own asses, and wake up.

Yes, there were some horrible, f'ed up things done in this country in the name of White supremacy. Yes, there are still White racists in this country to this day. Yes, there are a large number of White people that cannot stand the sight of a Black family in the White House. Yes, yes, yes, that is all very true. Does that mean that EVERY White person is a murderous, racist neanderthal? NO.

Yes, Black folks are angry. Yes, we have been told by our ancestors for GENERATIONS that White folks are dangerous and not to be trusted. Yes, EVERY ONE OF US has encountered God-honest racism from White folks (and that includes being called a "nigger" out of malice).  Yes, yes, and yes, these things are all true. Does that mean that EVERY Black person is looking to slit a White man's throat, or rape their White women? NO.

What it means is that we have A LOT to talk about. And we also, probably most importantly, have A LOT TO LISTEN TO. We all know the stereotypes, we all know the slurs. You've heard them said to or about you, or to other people. And it may anger you. But why does it anger you? Why does it anger any of us? All of these things are merely uneducated opinion and myth. Some things may be true, but the knowledge base behind it is so warped, so misguided, and just plain ignorant that one can't help but, well...laugh. PERFECT example-- the McCain/Palin rallies during the 2008 Presidential Campaign:





Every time I saw things like this, I laughed. Why? Because these people are afraid of something that simply does not exist! These are people that feel safe because they are surrounded by "their kind"-- they would NEVER say things like this with Black folks around (or, at least, more than 1 Black person around). And why? Because deep, deep, DEEP down inside...they know their fears are irrational, and they do not want to confront them. It's like an addict in an intervention. They have a problem, but you'll probably get into a fist fight by the end of it because your ego just won't allow itself to be corrected. It's easier to hide behind false propaganda and stereotypes than it is to judge yourself. It's easier to blame Mexicans or Affirmative Action for why you don't have a job, rather than looking at yourself and saying "Maybe I need more training", or "Maybe I should stop drinking," or whatever else could be keeping you from attaining personal success. Many people say "This is the way I was raised!" Lame excuse.

What the people at these rallies are really doing is asking for help. They don't understand that the myth and lies that they have been fed for generations are wrong. They were used and manipulated to garner support for an awful system that abuses its populous. This country was built on slave labor. And honestly, it will continue to be built on slave labor. The next generation of jobs that will be available in this country (after the "recession") will pay far less than the previous generation. The job market is resetting, and recessing, to reintroduce a "legal" form a slave labor. After all, you can't pay people nothing for work...but you CAN pay them next-to-nothing. And sure enough, all those hard-working "true American" White folks will become exactly what they fear...niggers. Maligned against, forced to work with no reward or no hope, undereducated and incapable of moving forward.

This is a long way away from "Avatar" (sorry!). I guess my point is that there are people out there making arguments out of nothing. If there are White folks out there that feel guilty...stop. There's no need. And to the Black folks (or White folks for that matter) that see racism is every little tiny freakin' thing...stop. That's just silly. The only way we are going to get past this stupid crap is to stop being passive aggressive. Grow a pair. Take a long hard look at yourself-- you're so used to judging others, when was the last time you judged yourself? Is your ego so precious that you can't take what you're dishing out?

In other words, stop your goddamn whining. It's just a movie!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Atmosphere BBDO Film Festival


A long, long time ago (or what seems like it anyway), I used to work for what was the interactive arm of mega ad agency BBDO. The company was called "Atmosphere BBDO" (now called "Atmosphere Proximity"). Many, many people came and went from this place, and you'd never know who was there...if it were not for the series of films that remain in its wake. Introducing, the Atmosphere BBDO Film Festival.

A few of us creative professionals, unable to effectively unleash our powers on the agency itself, decided to take art and entertainment into our own hands. What resulted, upon reflection, is a snapshot of a fun and engaging group of people trying to make the best of things. Ready? Let's take a look!

1. Cave Rulz, shot/edited/directed by Andrew Deutsch (addition footage by Tom Dolinger)


Back in the day, before the Atmosphere offices were moved to the parent company's location, the web developers worked in a back room that became known as "The Cave". This is a series written/shot/directed by "cave dweller" Andrew Deutsch. Five original episodes, and a 6th that lead to the transition to the new office (more on that below). Here are the first and 6th episode. (see episode 5, around 4:16, to see me acting).







2. Askin' Stuff, shot/edited/directed by Charles Conyers, Jr.

When the Atmosphere office moved to the BBDO parent office, things were not so smooth. Apparently, before we got there, BBDO employees were being pushed out of their offices without much warning, leading many of them to be PISSED when us Atmosphere people showed up. There was plenty of animosity and out-right dickishness being pushed our way. Those first few months SUCKED that way. So, to help make things a little light for everyone, I had an idea to shoot a series of webisodes that everyone could be involved it, and would be a fun way to introduce people. The point was to ask 1 question a week for 15 14 weeks. The only catch was that to answer the question, you couldn't know about it ahead of time, so all answers would be spontaneous. Now, I'm not sure if it was the show, or the bar on the 7th floor (probably the bar)...but people got over it. Here are episodes 3 and 6 (episode 6 features an appearance by Atmosphere BBDO CEO Andreas Combuechen).





3. The 2K7 Atmosphere Ping Pong Cup, shot/edited/directed by Charles Conyers, Jr.

The title speaks for itself. This film premiered at Central Filing with the running time of 15 minutes, with the addition of ping-pong themed commercials (a controversial element in the cut). This version is down to a little over 13 minutes.



4. Andrew Saves the World, by Paul Whittemore

What kind of film festival would this be without animation?! From the mind of Paul Whittemore (P-Whittey from the ping pong tournament), the two-part animated series about the world saving by one Mr. Andrew Deutsch.





Overall, this was a fun group of people. Some are still there, but many have moved on. It can truly be said that there will never be another group like it.

Movie Review: Avatar...The Remake of the Decade



So, I finally saw it. The great spectacle that is James Cameron's "Avatar". And like all of James Cameron's spectacles, there are the side notes that accompany the project. The four years in the making, game-changing visual effects, the nearly $500 million dollar budget, the 3D. Any time this man releases a movie, it's the thing that EVERYONE needs to see, either because they want him to succeed, or FAIL miserably. And there's a lot at stake for a movie this big to do either or. People have been talking about the end of the days of the big-budget Hollywood films. No one other than Cameron could do a film this expensive. Hell, Spielberg couldn't even get $150 million for Tin Tin (they settled for $130 million, but Universal backed out right before post-production...uh oh). So, with all the money, all the hype...how was it?

***SPOILER ALERT***

It wasn't bad. In fact, it's one of those films that requires multiple viewings. There's a lot going on. Each shot is very rich, VERY detailed. BEAUTIFUL to look at. The plant life alone is astonishing.

I'll tell you, though-- I had NO IDEA that this would be a remake of Dances With Wolves. And it is a remake-- there is no denying that. You could do a point-by-point analysis of the two films, and see that that it's virtually the same. Even the narration is similar. It's Dances With Wolves, with a little bit of The Matrix, and shades of the American-led invasion in Iraq/Afghanistan/Yemen/Pakistan, or wherever the hell else we're lobbing bombs into. Is this a bad thing? Not at all. A new generation will have a visually-stunning metaphor to enjoy. Unfortunately, I fear that the next generation will be too undereducated to appreciate the parallels.

 

This was a science fiction film, through and through. I'm in fact a little surprised by how very sci-fi-y this film was. For those that read science fiction, there are a few familiar things going on here. The "I see you" motif reminds me a lot of "groking" from Robert Heinlein's  Stranger in a Strange Land. The tentacles in the Na'Vi's hair are practically pulled right from Octavia Butler's Lilith's Brood saga. This is quite possibly one of the richest science fiction experiences I've seen on films. Sure, other films come to mind, like Enemy Mine, or 2001, or almost any film made by Hayao Miyazaki. But few films really take you to a completely new world with strange creatures. And that's why the Dances With Wolves thing works. You're able to learn along with the protagonist about who the Na'Vi are, and what kind of world they live in.

I should mention that this is my first time experiencing the Real 3D technology. For those of you that have no clue, you get these Rayban-looking glasses before you go into the theater. These are not the red/blue lenses that us old folk are used to using. They are like lightly-tinted sun glasses. The only problem that I have with it is that it takes the lighting down about half a stop (for you photog/film nerds out there). Other than that, wow! It was pretty neat. After a while, you kind of forget that you're wearing them. And there were times that I actually flinched! There are bugs flying around all over the place, and I kept having the urge to swipe them from my face. Every time the camera panned passed a plant, I wanted to put my hand up so the leaves and branches wouldn't hit my face. There are certain scenes where the sense of depth is awe-inspiring. Sometimes you feel as if you're looking though a window, and these people are performing right in front of you. I sh*t you not-- that's how impressive it was.

The good news is that Avatar didn't really need the 3D. It's a cute gimmick that works. But it's still a gimmick. And all the tricks in the world couldn't save a bad movie. Avatar was not bad at all. I was basically expecting a crappy story with mind-blowing effects. I walked away feeling that I got my money's worth. Is this film going to cure cancer? Not by a long shot. But it will change the way that films are made. I think Avatar represents, more than anything, a paradigm shift in filmmaking as we know it. But the great challenge in film is not the quality of the effects or the cinematography, or the stars, or the cool sh*t you can do-- I mean, anyone can make a quality effects movie these days. It's STORY. That's the only thing that matters, no matter how much money you spend. And what we have in Avatar is not necessarily a new kind of story telling...just a display of the latest tools available. It's a production reel of decent quality. I didn't expect anything more from it, and I was not disappointed.


Monday, January 18, 2010

"Mad Men": Or, Meh Men...


For a few years every I know had been going bat-shit insane over Mad Men. I should say that the people that I know that have been raving about this show are people that I know in the advertising world. I've worked in the ad industry for about 13 years, and have had every job you can think of on the creative side of things, from Production Artist to Designer to Art Director to Multimedia Director.   So from what I had heard, the idea of the show seemed interesting-- the ad industry from a 1960s point of view. And apparently, the agency in the show was based on the last big agency I worked for (and was laid off from in December of 2008-- I worked there for 2 years). So there was some curiosity there, but to be honest, I didn't think that I had the time to invest in another show. But recently, I saw the first two episodes on DVD. And...meh...

I mean look...it's clever. It's very very stylish. Everyone is dressed really well, and everyone is smoking and looks cool, and all that junk. The aesthetic is definitely there-- the art direction is great, the clothes are outstanding. And the little indicators to let you know you're looking at the '60s...cute. There was one scene in the second episode where two women are in a kitchen talking and smoking cigarettes. Then one woman calls for the kids. She stands up and we see that she's pregnant (and smoking). One of the kids, a little girl, has a thin plastic dry cleaning bag over her head that she has been playing with (child safety hazard). The mother only tells them to behave, and lets them run off. They return to their conversation. There are also scenes with Black characters as servants, maids, etc., and they always have some sarcastic aside about the white folks around them.  It plays out like a parody of the era. Like I said before, clever, cute, stylish...but not enough to be engaging.

As for the ad agency insider stuff...it's pretty relevant to this day. Aside from the heavy drinking, and the stereotypes within each department (account management, creative, etc) the most honest portrayal is the treatment of women. There are scenes with women in the bathroom sobbing because of the sexual advances and abusive behavior they've had to put up with from the various "pigs" in the office. That's very real. I've seen it; guys saying crazy shit, or trying to force a kiss (or more). I've talked to women about the disgusting advances and passes from men that they HAD to work with. And I've also seen women not say anything when these things happened. It made me sick. Now granted, if this show took place in the modern era, there'd be a few Asian women in the cast...and they'd probably get it worse. Men with girlfriends, married men, I've seen them all do it. Granted, not every guy is a piece of sh*t...but I was surprised by not only the frequency, but the people themselves-- guys that I thought would never act that way...they were.

So basically, these are assholes that I've been used to seeing on a regular basis for over a decade. Do I really want to watch a show devoted to them on my days or nights off? Nope...

Two episodes in, and I was bored. And I think I'm done. My girlfriend (also bored with the show) read up on the spoilers and filled me in. Yeah, I mean, some interesting stuff happens. I know that Don Drappers' past is in question; he never talks about it. Interesting, yes. And hearing that, I remembered in the first episode how he takes out that Purple Heart, with his "name" on the box. Is that how he assumed his new name and identity? I mean, he's in advertising...his job is to come up with interesting stories to sell whatever product his clients need sold...so is he just nothing but a living-breathing advertisement of an idealised American male of the 1960s? But instead of selling to consumers, he's almost an interactive ad-- and whoever he is, he's selling "Don Drapper". That is pretty interesting...but the show itself is not interesting enough to sustain my interest.

So...sorry, everyone. Not a fan.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Wu-Tang Clan Mixtape


Brought to you by the fine folks at Eclectic Method, a video mixtape/tribute of the Wu-Tang Clan. Be sure you catch the special section at the end for OTB...



Teddy Pendergrass, Dead at Age 59



Teddy Pendergrass, one of the greatest voices in soul music, died on Wednesday the 13th after a long battle with colon cancer.

Here's Teddy P. doin' what he did:





Here's Cedric the Entertainer with his take on the man; from Kings Of Comedy.


Fox News' Shepard Smith and Steve Harrigan Cover Haiti

Most people have come to know Fox News as an exploitative, unbalanced, anti-intellectual entity.  But then you see something like this, and it makes you think that sometimes-- SOMETIMES, there are people over there that are human. This moved me:



In more positive news, Huffington Post reports that Americans have contributed $8 million dollars via text messaging to help Haiti. Learn how you can help here.

I'll tell you, I haven't felt this helpless and this sick since watching New Orleans after Katrina. You see all that suffering, all those people dying, and you just want to jump through the TV and help those people. What's worse is know that the earthquake did such horrible damage that they can't even get supplies to these people in a timely fashion. What's even worse than that...they're using dead bodies as road blocks.  It's so heartbreaking to see all of this.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Doomsday Clock Moves Back One Minute



...and cue Right Wing lunacy.

The symbolic Doomsday Clock, introduced by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists in 1947,  has been moved back from 12:05 to 12:06. In a statement made by the board, the move was inspired by, among other things, the election of President Obama:

A key to the new era of cooperation is a change in the U.S. government’s orientation toward international affairs brought about in part by the election of Obama. With a more pragmatic, problem-solving approach, not only has Obama initiated new arms reduction talks with Russia, he has started negotiations with Iran to close its nuclear enrichment program, and directed the U.S. government to lead a global effort to secure loose fissile material in four years. He also presided over the U.N. Security Council last September where he supported a fissile material cutoff treaty and encouraged all countries to live up to their disarmament and nonproliferation obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty …”



Twitterpicture


I like this idea a lot. Johanna Basford has a Twitter feed and a web cam, and a pretty sweet concept. With a webcam set up over a sketch pad, she will draw anything you suggest to her via Twitter (within the realms of taste, of course). The result is a collage of images drawn over 24 hours. This is Twitterpicture.

Pay No Attention to That Coward Behind the Mic!


Republican or Democrat, there's always room for class and decorum. Unfortunately, there's no room for Rush Limbaugh to squeeze his bloated cheeks into. I should apologize for making a fat joke-- it's a pretty easy thing to do. But I believe this fat sack of turd's latest comments justifies it.









Now, the racial stuff doesn't bother me. Whenever anyone speaks on something they know absolutely nothing about, they sound stupid. And Limbaugh knows nothing of Black folks, other than what undereducated White folks think they know. What pisses me off a bit is the fact that there are a nation of people dying in one of the worse natural disasters we've seen in a LONG time, and this fat f**k brings politics into it?! Are you kidding me?!

I know there are a lot of brainless, cowardly White folks out there (Rush and his ilk) that want nothing more than this "Island of Niggers" to sink. That's doing nothing more than showcasing their lack of imagination and intelligence. And it also makes this country look REALLY bad. With all of this so-called national pride that Right Wing morons like this LOVE to talk about, they are doing nothing to show ANYONE anything other than their racial pride; and I feel sorry for the rest of the White folks that have to try to separate themselves from the rest of this herd of lunatics.

Could you imagine if Rush Limbaugh said what he said in a room full of people? They'd drag his fat ass out onto the street and sticks forks into his body until he bursts. That's why he gets away with most of the crap he says. The ONLY forum he has is that golden dick that dangles in front of his mouth every day, and the 20 million ear holes he f*ks regularly.

Why anyone would think this is funny or cute is beyond me. I mean, every once-in-a-while even Rush Limbaugh has to take his head out of his ass for oxygen. Doesn't he? Sigh.

If you want to help, but don't know how, Huffington Post has a great page you should see.

And to Rush and Pat (Robertson), how's about a quick history lesson. You know, to help put your moronic comments into perspective:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

...And Now, A Word From Our Sponsors: Or, Please Help Support My Writing Habit!



I'd like to thank everyone that's taken the time to read this blog; all three of you (haha). It's great that anyone at all would take the time to read whatever it is I try to articulate in this thing. You have no idea how much I appreciate it. And now, I'd like to ask-- no, BEG, you for your help.

If you do enjoy reading this blog, or even if you don't and you just like me (please, please like me!), you could help me out by clicking on one of the ad links you see sandwiched in various locations on these pages. A couple of the ads even have a search bar that you could use for whatever your heart desires. And as you can see, I am an Amazon.com Associate. So, if you're reading something here about a movie or album, or even if you just wanna buy something from Amazon without my recommendation, if you click there through here, they will send some financial love my way; one of the greatest loves of all (giggle-giggle).

Thank you in advance for your support. 


Love,

Charles A. Conyers, Jr.
Blogger/Filmmaker/Designer/Father/Lover/Friend/Shameless-Begger

Smodcast!



I dig Kevin Smith's films. I've totally been there from Clerks on-- but I haven't seen Zack and Miri Make a Porno yet (I hear it's bad, but that hasn't stopped me from seeing movies before...I'm looking at you GI*Joe: The Rise of Cobra!!!). My favorite has to be Dogma, but I must say that as much as I liked the movie, I loved reading the script even more; VERY smart and funny.

So if you're like me, and enjoy this fella's work, they you will enjoy Smodcast. Mr. Smith has been doing a weekly podcast with his friend and producing partner Scott Mosier for about 3 years now. Just recently, they've finally put together a website devoted to the "shows", which run anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes. Basically, it's just a couple of guys tokin', drinkin', and shootin' the shit about movies and whatever; my kind of guys. These guys so remind me the guys that I used to hang out with back in the day. They are really funny guys, and they're just having a great time together. You can't go wrong there. Makes me wish I was there smokin' and talkin' with them. Also makes me want to start a podcast of my own. Those of you who know me might remember Askin' Stuff, but I'd like to do something different. Maybe, I dunno. I've already got so many other projects coming up...we'll see.

In the meantime-inbetween time, you may like it, you may not...I love it. Enjoy!

Serial Butt-sniffer on the Loose

No, I'm not talking about Bill O'Reilly's interview with Sarah Palin.

I meant to write about this last year, what with Xmas and all...Read here for the story of what I would guess to be a VERY LONELY Brittish man, who has taken to going into stores and randomly sniffing the butts of workers and shoppers. As of December 22, 2009 he had struck about 20 times.



Now, far be it from me to judge. I mean, in the midst of passion I think many of us become a little uninhibited. However...there's just something gross about being in a store, looking around, and feeling some guy's nose poke you in the sphincter. Not a fan.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Worst Earthquake in 200 years Hits Haiti


Awful. Just plain awful.

On Tuesday, January 12th at 4:53pm, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck the Port-Au-Prince region of Haiti. The quake hit just before nightfall...could you imagine how horrifying that must have been to deal with all of that devastation in complete darkness?

This is a clip released by the Red Cross just 4-5 hours after the quake:



And this is video from the aftermath:



Here is President Obama:




This is Wyclef Jean, whose family is from Haiti:




In related news, religious piece-of-shit Pat Robertson said that this earthquake happened to the Haitians because they are cursed due to a pact they made with the devil to get rid of the French. "True story," he says:



Aside from this asshole's comments about being devil-appeasers, he is right in that these people need our help. USA Today has a great page to guide those who want to offer help. In a shite economy, some of us can barely help ourselves, much less help other people. So, at the very least, we can wish and hope these people well, and encourage our politicians and those WITH money to help as much as they can.

Sarah's Big Debut


Well, it's happened-- Sarah Palin's first appearance as a "contributor" to Fox News. And where does she appear? On the O'Reilly Factor. How'd she do?



Bill "Orally" is such a tool. The ass-kissing is quite incredible. Not only just the ass-kissing, but the choice of words used to criticize Palin's critics, most notably the word "threatened". I can't think of one person that is threatened by Sarah Palin. People aren't quivering in fear of her-- they are LAUGHING at her. Every time that woman opens her mouth, she says something uninformed, ignorant, and just plain stupid. O'Reily lists her qualifications as a "former Governor of Alaska, a mom, and an American." Gee, other than that first one, my mother could have Palin's job; and she is FAR MORE INTELLIGENT that the beauty queen-turned sportscaster-turned local politician.

Some of my favorite highlights:
1) Harry Reid: Wow, these comments are by far the most incredible. She says that she doesn't believe that Obama's skin color had any bearing on the American people's decisions for who they wanted to be president. Jaw in lap. Maybe she never went to any of her rallies.

2) Iran: According to Ms. Palin, the time for sanctions is over (bomb-bomb-bomb...bomb-bomb Iran). But when pressed by "O-really" about attacking Iran..."we need to stick to those sanctions."

3) "Game Change" book allegations: For example, when it's said that she does not know the difference between North Korea and South Korea, she says that's a lie. And Bill O'Reilly knows well enough not to follow up with "Just so these 'pinheads' know, what IS the difference between North and South Korea?" Ya know why? 'cause SHE DOESN'T KNOW. And that gave her the perfect chance to say "Read my book" for the truth.

4) The Teabaggers: She will be the keynote speaker at the Tea Party something or other coming up soon. Sigh.

Well, as soft-ball interviews go, this was one of the soft-balliest. Was anyone really convinced that she was going to be challenged? Or that she would say anything intelligent? Well, I think if one thing can be said about this appearance, is that we won't have to wait for poorly-typed Facebook responses to find out what this vapid simpleton has to say. Hey, we'll all be better off, since gigs like 60 Minutes are "so over!" (watch the video for that little nugget as well!).

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"My Spidey Sense is Tanking...."



It took YEARS and YEARS for a proper version of Spiderman to hit the big screen (James Cameron had even been in the running to direct back in the 80s). And with Sam Raimi at the reins, it turned out to be a HUGE hit! People liked the first film, LOVED the second film (eh...), and HATED the third (garbage). And then came news of a Spiderman musical on Broadway....'cause that's exactly what the franchise needed. But now...the web has broken.

Julie Taymors Broadway adaptation, "Spiderman Turn Off the Dark" (what the f**k does that even mean?!), with music by Bono and The Edge, has been postponed to "later on this year", due to budget problems. This was announced only a day after Columbia Pictures broke the news that Raimi and Tobey McGuire would not be back for Spiderman 4. And with scenes like this, it's easy to see why:



Sigh. How could you take a character with literally HUNDREDS of storylines to choose from, and make something that stupid?! My advise, if there IS going to be a Spiderman 4-- use Spiderman #100:


If you don't know the story, Peter Parker is trying to develop a serum that will  remove his superpowers. He then proceeds to hallucinate and ends up fighting ALL of his enemies one after another (GREAT opportunity to work in a bunch of different villains). Then, as the cliff hanger, the serum ends up giving Parker four more arms, turning him into a REAL spider man. It's not a dream or anything-- he really does have 6 arms. And then, the fun begins.

But hey, they had a good run. And ten-fifteen years from now, someone else will make Spider Man films, and make another generation of kids happy. Until then, we have our memories:











Yacht Rock


Yeah, alright. I guess. This is new for me, so sorry if I "missed the boat"-- get it?!

Yacht Rock is a celebration of all things having to do with that chilled out lifestyle of the 80s. You get together with a group of folks, dressed as if you're on a Yacht circa 1985. You break out the Harvey's Bristol Creame and the Riunite on ice, blast some sweet tunes by Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins, and you are on your way to an excellent time! Yacht Rock parties have been around since at least the mid-2000s. and are said to have started in either Texas or Florida...maybe even California. And it seems as if the trend has been co-opted by Brooklyn hipsters.

The phenom itself may have started with an internet-based show with the same name. Hosted by "Hollywood Steve", he tells the stories of some the biggest Yacht Rock icons with reenactments of what it may have been like to write "What a Fool Believes" or "This is it."






It's somethin', isn't it? Any excuse to throw a party, huh? But, like the original trend itself, this too will die relatively quickly. And hopefully, all of the stupid pictures of you dressed like some douchey sailor. Why, oh why, can't we just leave the 80s in the 80s?!?!

"Not to put too fine a point on it, say I'm the only bee in your bonnet": They Might Be Giants FLOOD (1990)




It was almost exactly 20 years ago (January 5th, 1990)  that They Might Be Giants released their third album called "Flood". I was 17 years old when I first heard "Birdhouse In Your Soul", and I remember being quite captivated with them and their sound. They performed the song on the Tonight Show with Doc Severson and the NBC Orchestra (with Jay Leno guest hosting that night).

"Flood" is still, to this day, one of the best albums I have ever heard. From beginning to end, the hits just keep coming and coming: Particle Man, You Racist Friend, We Want a Rock, Lucky Ball & Chain, Dead, Instanbul (Not Constantinople)...it's just great stuff. My daughter has already seen them perform live (when she was 2 and a half), and she LOVED them! What's not to love?



If you don't have it yet, get it now.  Or, you know, whenever you're ready...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hello Sarah! It's So Nice To Have You BACK WHERE YOU BELONG!!!!!


Sarah Palin is FINALLY returning to her roots...as a TV personality!! Just announced today, Fox is bringing in Ms. Palin as a political contributor "effective immediately". "I am thrilled to be joining the great talent and management team at Fox News," Palin said in a statement. "It's wonderful to be part of a place that so values fair and balance news."

I'm so very glad that we can put all this "Palin 2012" crap to rest. Looks like someone has come to terms with what they should be doing, as opposed to pie-in-the-sky aspirations.

So, looks like the Palin supporters are going to get their old America back:


Art Clokey, Creator of Gumby, Dead at 88


I was in 6th grade when my friend Jim and I decided to make an animated shot, inspired by the Gumby shorts that started running on Channel 57 (out of Philadelphia). But we didn't know where to start, or what to really do. I had read a few books at the library, but I just couldn't really wrap my head around a few concepts. So Jim suggested that we call Art Clokey up and ask him. I said, "yeah, right-- let's do that!" in the most sarcastic tone I could muster up.

One day, Jim called me up, and told me to hold on. He clicked off, then clicked back on. I heard a dial tone. He said "I found Art Clokey's number-- we're reporters from the school paper doing an interview with him." Then, he answered the phone. From there, we interviewed the man for over an hour, asking him questions about technique, camera work, cheap visual effects...EVERYTHING. And he was MORE THAN GENEROUS with the information (did you know that the characters' eyes were made of ping-pong balls with hole-punched black dots from photographs-- and vasoline on the whites to hold the black dots in place and allow them to be moved).

Mr. Clokey died in his sleep on Friday, in Los Osos, CA.

He was one of my greatest inspirations in filmmaking and animation. And I will never forget when he told Jim and I, after we told him that we were working on our own animated short: "Don't be discouraged. It's a lot of trial and error, but once you get the hang of it, you'll do fine. You boys certainly have the drive and the passion-- you've asked me about things that most adults won't ask me. So good luck to you."

Thank you Mr. Clokey, so very, very much.


Harry Reid is a Racist (NOT)


 Leave it to the Republicans to make an issue out of nothing. As if they really care about speaking out against racism.

The latest false claims in the GOPs "War on Facts" is with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. In Mark Halperin's new book called "Game Change", a behind-the-scenes look at the 2008 campaign for the presidency, Harry Reid is said to have made remarks about Barrack Obama's chances of becoming the first black President of the United States. Reid says that because Obama is light-skinned, and does not speak in a "Negro dialect" (his words), that Obama actually has a chance to win. Granted, the use of the word "Negro" is a tiny bit off-putting, but this is an old man (71 years old)-- use of words like "Negro" or "colored" are almost expected from someone of this generation. Other than that, Reid is 100% correct.

All Black folks know of the divide between the light-skinned and dark-skinned among our community. I remember my great-aunt talking about how when I was born, people thought by mother had an affair because I was so light (my dad was dark-skinned, my mother light-skinned). And my younger brother is also dark-skinned, but not as dark as my father was.

In our community, light-skinned blacks are known to get along better in life than dark-skinned blacks. We have the "better hair", get the "better jobs", get the "prettiest women", etc, etc, etc. Organizations in our community have exploited this fact.  Clubs like The Blue Vein Society; named so to identify blacks who are light enough to be able to see the blue veins in your upturned arm. Or "the brown paper bag and ruler test", used to identify blacks whose skin color was as light as a brown paper bag, and hair as straight as a ruler. This is the reality that we've all had to deal with. Hell, even Spike Lee deals with this in his earlier films. This is a clip from his 2nd film "School Daze":


(Side note-- this is a piece of cinematic MAGIC from one of Hollywood's best directors.)

This is the kind of made-up controversy tailor made for the Republican Party. Yes, Harry Reid should have known better, and maybe should not have said this at all. His statements are known facts, and there was really no need for HIM (a politician with an important role/position) to say this. But the Republicans are jumping on this, making stupid arguments like "Why are Liberals so quick to defend statements like this? If this was a Republican, he would have been run out of town."

I'll tell you what the difference is. It's because what Harry Reid said is an actual fact, that any Black person would agree with. When Trent Lott (R) got in trouble, what he said was that if Strom Thurmond, who ran as a segregationist, was in charge, we "wouldn't have all the problems that we have today."



What he said was, basically, without all these "Negros" (or in Strom's case, his words, "the Nigger race"), we would be living in peace. Lott didn't say this once-- he said in at least 5 different times, in PUBLIC, in defense of a proud racist:





Yeah, big difference between this and what Harry Reid said. I don't think you'll find a Black man or woman ANYWHERE that will think that Harry Reid and Trent Lott are in the same boat. But leave it to the Republicans to MISS THAT BOAT completely.

And as for Mr. Michael Steele, who is sooooo "offended" by what Reid said to the point where he's suggesting that Reid resign...coming from someone who said that he's going to lure Blacks to the GOP with "fried chicken and potato salad"...someone who called his blog on the GOP website "What up?"...a Black man who himself has performed so inadequately at his job that it makes my skin burn...he should take his own advice...and just shut up.

"The A-Team" Movie Trailer = HO-LEEEEEE-SH******T!!!!!!


Before...




After...

I don't know about you...but I think this looks so freakin' cool! I loved the show when I was a kid, and CAN'T WAIT for this film to come out! Check out the trailer here.

And no, I have not seen Avatar yet-- I'm working on it!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

"The Third & The Seventh"



If you have 12 minutes to spare (or three, I'll get to that later), I highly recommend a short animated film that made my jaw dangle more than a few times. It's amazing what you can do with software that's available to almost everyone (the entire thing is CGI):





Alex Roman is the pseudonym used by filmmaker and architectural visualist  Jorge Seva. He trained as a visual effects artist in Spain, and moved over to what he calls "the VIZ" (read an interview over at Motionographer).

This guy practically made this film by himself. It's really incredible to look at-- it seems as if these things actually exist in the real world. The camerawork, rack focusing, lighting, editing-- it's so hard to believe that these things are nothing but 1s and 0s.

And if you only have 3-4 minutes to spare, check this out:



And, if you're a geek like me (and you probably are, reading this...), he has a 15 minute "making of" tutorial. It's silent, but that's okay-- it's the international language of geek.

With work like this, and that guy that got a $30 million dollar movie deal for his $500 short film, it just goes to show you what can be done right on your home computer. Thanks, Francis!