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Monday, June 14, 2004
MOVIES/TV

FANBOY GOLDEN BOY

It was recently announced that five more episodes of "Clone Wars" will air on Cartoon Network next March.  As I've said before, the main problem with the initial runs of CW was that the mostly-three-minutes-long-episodes were too short.  As a viewer, you never had enough time to get into things.  Even when you watch a bunch in a row, stories never were allowed to pick up steam.  The last three chapters are an exception.  The two-part fight between Anakin and Asaji was great and was only eclipsed by Chapter 20.  The introduction of General Grievous was amazingly well-handled and powerful.  It's important to note that it was, by far, the longest chapter, clocking in at over seven minutes.   It is therefore wonderful news that each of the five new episodes currently being produced will be TWELVE minutes in length.  With Grievous now in the picture and so much time to tell these new chapters, it's tough not to get really excited about this. 



Chapter 20 of Clone Wars is my favorite thing these days.  I watch it all the time.  The extent to which the Jedi are frightened of GG before you even see him says so much.  The actual second Grievous is introduced -- when he stomps on the Hudson-from-"Aliens"-like padawan and then unfolds -- is quite momentous, although certainly not as cool a design or transformation as when the Iron Giant turns into Battle Giant.   Things really go off the hook once he starts fighting.  His moves are endlessly inventive and graceful.  I haven't seen a robot kick butt so beautifully since  Black Magic M-66.     




The obvious comparison to this one-verses-many animated fight is the the classic appearance of Great Mazinga in the end of Majingâ Zetto tai Ankoku Daishôgun (Mazinga Z vs. General Dark).  GM probably puts on an even greater show of jaw-dropping power, but since Great Mazinga is technically on the side of good, the effect is much different.   General Grievous is a villain and seeing his effortless ass-whupping has a more heart-stopping impact.  You're watching a conclusion where evil wins, wins easily and you can't imagine anything being able to stop it.  It's just brilliant.   



The success of "Clone Wars" has to fall squarely at the feet of Genndy Tartakovsky, who's really become the fanboy it-boy these days.  In addition to helming these additional CW chapters, he also has just been hired to write and direct the new live-action ASTRO BOY, which will be produced by Don Murphy and Christine Belson.  The project has been in development for a long time, but with the red-hot Tartakovsky on board, I'd say the classic Osamu Tezuka property will indeed finally show up on the big screen.  In an age where cheerished properties are "messed up" by Hollywood left and  right, it's refreshing to see something you care about fall into the hands of someone who will respect and understand the source material.   

But it's important to note that Genndy isn't someone who just likes the right stuff and has fanboy street cred.  His own, original creations have garnered high respect.  Samurai Jack followers are almost manical in their praise of him and the internet is filled with bulletin boards pointing up clever Dexter's Laboratory jokes.   

In re-watching the first 20 Chapters of Clone Wars with a friend, something was pointed out to me that I somehow hadn't noticed before:  not one second of Jar Jar.  Considering what a Rosetta Stone Tartakovsky has become to fanboy sensibility, it wouldn't surprise me to learn the omission was something he put in his contract. 


 

Posted at 10:32 am by jmachinder
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Saturday, June 12, 2004
POOCHIE WATCH



Poochieness is so pervasive in our culture, that it's easy to miss obvious examples.  I don't know why I didn't think of it before, but GARFIELD is pure poochie, arguably a poochie archtype.  The commercials have him wearing sunglasses and even say flat out "He's got attitude."  Again, although "The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show" is my favorite episode of "The Simpsons," I must contest the passionate rejection of Poochie by the Simpsons-universe public.  Certainly Poochie aesthetics are enemies of art, but unpopular?  The Garfield movie has a 14 percent fresh rating over at Rotten Tomatoes, with many critics actively hating it.   I'm sure you may know people who were dragged to it and are still trying to wash the viewing off of them.   And yet, it will gross about $24 million dollars in its opening weekend, only two million less than the TOTAL domestic grosses of both THE IRON GIANT and MEMENTO. 

Posted at 04:03 pm by jmachinder
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Friday, June 11, 2004
TV WRITING/MOVIE WRITING

A little while ago, I got an assignment to write a freelance episode of a new cartoon series on Cartoon Network called "The Life and Times of Juniper Lee."  While the money isn't great in animation and it's much better to be on staff than doing freelance work, this was still a great break for me.  I consider myself very lucky to have gotten the opportunity.  The process was quite fascinating, surprising me at every turn.  The voices for the episode were taped two days ago and I'm still shocked at how quick the whole thing went by. 

The development of screenplays (which is where I had been focusing my efforts) goes on forever.  I've had scripts at studios that have gone through rewrites for years and years, not get produced and yet still not be officially "dead."  In the screenplay world, it's not uncommon to get excited about being replaced by other writers.  This excitment isn't the result of you being tired of the script, but rather the fact that the studio will never allow you to write the shooting draft and that they're bringing in bigger names to replace you and gut your script means it could actually see production!  

TV is different.  Networks have to keep cranking out product and simply don't have the luxury of non-stop rewriting.  What a TV writer focusses on is also very, very different.  With movies, concept and tone are huge struggles.  While the actual writing in spec screenplays must be of a very high quality in order to get read by anyone, it's essentially meaningless.  It's guaranteed that you are going to be completely rewritten, so the real question is if the overall concept is commercial enough to warrant buying the thing.  With TV writing (except for pilots), concept and tone have already been determined.  Your struggles become  "Does this line capture the voice of the character?,"  "Is this joke efficient enough?" or  "How can I cram more jokes into this scene?"     Movie scripts are all about macro-managing and TV scripts are all about micro-managing.

The main war of wannabe Hollywood writers is one of access.   The sad truth is - and this isn't fun to hear - your opinions don't really matter.  People like their own ideas and don't care about yours.  The real goal is to find out what a person of power wants and then give it to them.  In the long run. this approach will win out over working on your own masterpiece.  At least while you're a nobody.  If you become a hit TV or movie writer, you can do whatever you want and they'll throw money at you. 

And the law that "people like their own ideas" is true of you as well.  Writers tend not to want a word they've written to be touched.  And that's not always because it's the best way, but because the ideas are their own.  I've written a number of scripts with other people.  Whever you do this, invariably, you'll arrive at places where you disagree.  You think it should be A, he thinks it should be B.  You're convinced your're right and don't understand why your partner can't see the light.  You'll put a pin in the argument and say you'll come back to settle it later.  I find it very telling that whenever this has happened to me, I'm shocked at how often I can't remember which side of of the argument I took.  I'll have no idea whether I wanted A or B.   The reason I had a preference in the first place was that I liked my own idea more.

The situation with Juniper Lee was ideal.  I had direct and constant access with Judd Winick, the show creator.  Moreover, Judd was able to be incredibly specific on what he wanted every step of the way.  I almost feel embarrassed at how easy he made the whole thing.  Make no mistake, this is far from common.  Most people of power are not creative folks, and although they love their own ideas, often don't know what those ideas are or how to articulate them. 

"The Life and Times of Juniper Lee" is scheduled to premier next spring.  I have no idea what order they will air the episodes, but mine "The World According to L.A.R.P." is the eighth one recorded. 






Posted at 11:16 am by jmachinder
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Wednesday, June 09, 2004
HYPERLINKING

What a surprise!  I've just been doing this blog whenever I get the chance - which has turned out to be about once a week.  Aside from just being plain busy, one reason has been a lack of obligation to a readership.  I've just been attaching the URL as a signature in emails to freinds, who occassionally forward it to other people.  But yesterday, my attack on quidditch was sent to and posted on The Volokh Conspiracy, a REAL blog with real traffic.  The viewings went through the roof and the item got a high number of comments (the whole blog has had only one comment up to this point).  Although I didn't forward my article myself, looking over the comments shows you just how wise it can be to really scrutinize where you link from.  I'm blown away by the high quality of the discussion, which I truly believe is a rare find on the internet.  Thanks to all, but it looks like the debate on quidditch is a moot point, as the following article reveals... 

Posted at 09:03 am by jmachinder
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HOGWARTS ELIMINTATES QUIDDITCH, WRESTLING AMIDST TITLE IX CONCERNS

-- From the Daily Prophet

Headmaster Albus Dumbledore stunned students, faculty and alumnae when he announced that Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry would no longer field the sports of quidditch and wrestling upon the conclusion of the current school year. "I'm shocked," said Draco Malfoy, Hogwarts precocious 135 pound league champion wrestler. "We've just finished one of the best seasons we'd ever had here. And with our off-season Greco training, we were even starting to show success against eastern European Trolls. What did we do wrong?"

While the elimination of a 13-3 wrestling team that showed unexpected success in the post-season was a shock to many, the real bomb came one sentence later when it was announced that the school's quidditch players would be using their broomsticks to sweep out their lockers.

"The days of revenue-producing sports being safe from Title IX quotas are over," said Jessica Gavora, author of Tilting the Playing Field: School, Sports, Sex and Title IX. "Quidditch draws big crowds and makes lots of money for schools. The layperson would think it would be immune from Title IX bean counting. But the disparity in the numbers of boys and girls interested in sports, combined with the demand that the gender breakdown of athletic participation mirror the overall student population, well, it makes a decision like this inevitable."

"It shouldn't have come to this," said Donna Lopiano, head of the Women's Sports Coven. "Title IX is not a quota. Cuts come when administrations don't allocate their resources wisely. The quidditch arms race that we've seen over the past decade has resulted in massive excesses and huge financial losses for schools. I mean, does a fourth-string bludger really need a Cleansweep Seven broomstick?"

Hogwarts had been granted a reprieve from Title IX litigation three years ago when it added equestrian and womens' crew. However, a WSC investigation revealed that all of the participants on the two teams were apparitions, the result of spells cast by Dumbledore himself. Donna DeVarona, member of the Office of Civil Rights Commission on Opportunity in Athletics called the tactic a "deceitful attempt of compliance." She added "The OCR is very clear on this. The policy clarification of the three -prong compliance test (created in 1995 when Brown University attempted to meet roster minimums for their gymnastics team by gating in female demons from other dimensions) demands that a school can claim to be 'substantially proportionate' by measuring only actual, non-hologram players. Moreover, the policy specifically forbids unused roster spots being filled with female players created by illusionary spells."

Eric LeSher, Title IX expert and head of the organization "Muggles Against Quotas," found the elimination ironic. "Advocates of the current interpretation of Title IX are always saying that the reason that more women don't come out for sports is because of the stigmas of being a female athlete. That societal pressure discourages otherwise interested women from participating. Well, I can't think of an accoutrement more associated with women than a broomstick. Witches, maids, you name it. Yet over 85% of quidditch players are male. They don't seem to have a problem of being labeled a 'sissy with a broom.' The argument just doesn't hold up to any sort of scrutiny."

Oliver Wood, head coach of the Hogwarts now swan-song quidditch team, agreed. "There's this belief that quidditch is some sort of utopian sport. That boys and girls play together with equal interest and ability. Well that's fine for some politically correct fantasy world. But at tryouts this year, I had to cut twelve males - all walkons, all willing to ride the bench for as long as it took for them to get a chance to whack a quaffle. Meanwhile, the six girls I have on the team are all on full scholarship and three of them were recruited by me in our cafeteria. And unless I let them be seekers - and start a good number of games - they don't want to play."

While there is much discomfort all around the campus, the affected athletes must quickly ponder their future. Although Hogwarts has said it will honor all existing scholarships for those eliminated, Malfoy is considering transferring, even if it means to a non-magical school. "I don't know what to do," the young wizard said "Wrestling has always been number one. It means everything to me. Why can't I play the sport I love and get a non-Muggle education at the same time?"

Posted at 08:51 am by jmachinder
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Friday, June 04, 2004
BOOKS/MOVIES/VIDEOGAMES

QUIDDITCH SUCKS


A big part of the appeal of the Harry Potter books is how easy they are for kids to relate to. Even though Harry spends much of his time at a magical boarding school, the personal struggles he goes through are not foreign to real-universe kids. The schoolwork is hard, the bullies aren't always easy to deal with and his family is a nightmare. I don't believe for a second that any of this is an accident. While so much of this saga is escapist, fantasy-fulfillment for kids, J.K. Rowling certainly works hard at making readers recognize Harry's plights in themselves. No one ever grew up wanting/expecting a honest-to-goodness magic broom, but creating a universe where there are different broom models and then having your hero look longingly at the latest and best model in a store window is completely germane to adolescent materialistic desire. It removes much of the abstractness of the supernatural, brings you closer to the story and makes you care more about the characters.

Perhaps the most hip, of-today element of the fantastical Harry Potter universe is the sport of quidditch. Again, what Rowling has done is take an old standard in supernatural lore (broom riding for witches) and Poochie it up for today's kids by turning it into an athletic competition. When you throw in all the normal sports-drama components - making the team, training, strategy and the big game - you have a story that's much more close to real-life than it is to one of wizards and witches. If you're looking for a big audience, it's a really smart idea. Almost a stroke of genius. The only problem is quidditch sucks.

In even a casual introduction to the game of quidditch, it's flaws are so obvious and so great that it strips JK Rowling naked and reveals just how divorced she is from our world of muggle sports. Perhaps her greatest flaw of all is how unafraid she is to go into the specifics of the game, despite the fact that she's way out of her depth.

The general idea of a broom-riding basketball/hockey/soccer game is not unsound. The problem is introduced with the position of seeker and the hunt for the golden snitch. The objectives of having chasers get the quaffles into the goals and the seeker catching the golden snitch are completely unrelated to one another. It's as if two separate games have been clumsily welded together.

I think the notion behind the creation of the seeker position is a cheap one: to create a position for the protagonist that's extra special. The seeker is the center forward, the quarterback, the fourth leg of a relay, etc. - except ten times more important. A quidditch game only ends once a seeker catches the golden snitch. It also gives his or her team an additional 150 points. (Quaffle goals are worth 10 points each)

If you were an avid quidditch fan, your most common feeling would be one of non-satisfaction. Essays by sports columnists attacking the rules would be commonplace. The better team would often lose and the winning team would often have hollow-feeling victories. There would be numerous tales of the seeker who lost the game for his team when he foolishly caught the golden snitch, not realizing his team was down by more than 150 points at that second. The fan outrage would dwarf all complaints about the BCS polling, Amateur boxing judging and World Cup penalty shootouts combined.

JK Rowling's creation of quidditch in the HP universe obviously had merchandising dollars in mind. This is completely fair game. Milking franchises for as many revenue streams as possible doesn't automatically hurt the art. It's all in the way it's handled. And again, quidditch just sucks. But there's no need for merchandising here. You can already play quidditch at home! The NBA finals are upon us. Bring a friend over, turn on the TV and each pick a team. Then pull out a chess board and play while the game is going on. If you win the chess game, give yourself 150 points and add it to the score of whichever NBA team you picked. If that total score is greater than the number of points of your opponent's NBA team, you win! The marriage of the two contests into one makes just as little sense as quidditch.

Although not without tension in the books and movies, in practice, quidditch doesn't hold up. As soon as I read the rules in the first book, my main thought was one of sympathy for the videogame designers who would inevitably be saddled with the chore of turning this reverse-engineered-for-dramatic-purposes smorgasbord of sports ideas into an actual game. It was therefore with great surprise that I learned that the game "Quidditch World Cup" was released by Electronic Arts.

What was I missing? I just couldn't believe that a game so ill-conceived could be made to work. Well, this is how they did it. They gave each team a "Golden Snitch Bar." As you and your opponent try to score quaffle points, your bar moves toward the center. Once the two sides meet, the golden snitch is released. This is an interesting solution, but certainly is not the quidditch Rowling describes, where the elements of quaffle play and golden snitch capture are concurrent, not sequential. The book of "Sorcerer's Stone" includes a second quidditch game, which was removed from the film. In it, Harry catches the golden snitch almost immediately, ending the game before it even began. Clearly, this game could not be replicated in the Electronic Arts re-envisioned version. Since no quaffle play took place, none could be rewarded with golden snitch bar advancement.

So why all the fuss? Well, I guess it's the snooty attitude that making a game that actually works isn't important as long as the trappings are fun. I truly believe that Rowling's cursory approach to designing the game thumbs its nose at all true sports enthusiasts. It trivializes us. It says "well the silly games that you watch don't make any sense, so why should mine?" Well, they do make sense, honey. And they're important. Although not exactly the same thing, look at all the work John Madden put into his line of videogames before he'd assign his name to them. He refused to allow technological limitations deter him from making games that were true to football. And his stubbornness yielded pure game greatness. It's quite clear that the game of quidditch has been devised by a soccer mom who most likely doesn't even understand soccer.

Posted at 01:59 pm by jmachinder
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Wednesday, May 26, 2004
REALITY TV

Well, the third AMERICAN IDOL will be crowned tonight.  The season hasn't gone without its share of controversy.  In fact, throughout its history, people have suggested the show might be rigged.  The phenomenon reminds me of a scene from QUIZ SHOW. 

GOODWIN:  I spoke with Herb Stemple.  And he told me that when a jew comes on and makes a lot of money they have a gentile come on and make twice as much.

ENRIGHT:  See.  He's crazy. 

GOODWIN: Yeah, but I checked it out...and its true. 

I have zero evidence to suggest that AI isn't on the up-and-up, but I have noticed something interesting.  Many weeks, certain performances (and performers) stand out as being the worst of the group.  On the results show the following night, the "clear choice" shockingly remains and we read, hear and see about the outrage afterward.  People scream up and down until the next week when justice prevails and the "integrity" of the voting system of the show remains intact.  What am I talking about?  Well...

SEASON ONE: 

When it got down to six (Kelly Clarkson, Justin Guarini, Tamara Gray, Christina Christian, RJ Helton and Nikki McKibbin) the one who clearly should have gone was RJ.  He was just awful and even forgot the words.  He'd been teetering before this (he was the sole wildcard) but this was clearly the end of the road.  Instead, Christina Christian went.  Everyone was shocked.  Simon said to him point blank "You got lucky."  Then, RJ got booted the following week.

When it was down to four, in arguably the biggest shocker of the whole show, Tamara went instead of Nikki McKibbin.   Fans even played the race card, calling it "Rodney King II."  The following week, Nikki said bye bye. 

Kelly, the obvious best singer, won the whole thing so no one could really complain.

SEASON TWO: 

Carmen stays instead of Kimberly Caldwell, but departs the following week.  Josh Grayson finishes ahead of Rubben Studdard one week, then gets eliminated the next.  People go crazy, but Ruben wins the whole thing. 

SEASON THREE:

Jennifer Hudson gets eliminated instead of John Stevens.  You read all about it on the net---then JS gets booted.  LaToya goes, Jasmine stays -- next week Jasmine goes. 

Again, I have zero evidence to proove anything, but the way that things have played out over and over have aided the ratings and increased reported voting numbers.  The "wrongful eliminations" are minor blips in the big picture and the fan favorites are indeed the last ones standing. 

So what will happen tonight?  Beats me.  Two things make it impossible to handicap AI:  it can be difficult to tell where votes that went to the eliminated contestant the week before will wind up and the voting pool increases and decreases each week (it's mostly increased this season) and it's impossible to tell where new votes will go.  I suppose Fantasia is the favorite over Diana DeGarmo, but I do think the judges are giving her too much credit.  No doubt she deserves a record contract, but Simon saying she's the "best contestant" from any worldwide IDOL show of any season sounds like hyperbolic nonsense to try and spike record sales.  I like Diana as well, but I think neither of them touches LUCY HALE, who made the AMERICAN JUNIORS lineup.  The Juniors album hasn't come out and the show tanked in the ratings, but maybe that's a good thing.  Lucy's WAAAAY too good for the group and should just start a solo career.  Even though she's only 14, she'd bury the current crop of teen pop stars.      




IRON CHEF

Although it's just on for specials these day, Iron Chef is still the best reality TV going.  No other program comes close to showing the raw talent that this show consistently delivers.  You are seeing literally the best in the world week after week and, even though you don't get to taste the food at home, their skills are obvious and a joy to watch. 

In a recent three-match IRON CHEF AMERICA series, the Iron Chefs got shut out.  Sakai lost to Bobby Flay, Morimoto lost to Mario Batali and then again to Wolfgang Puck.  Interesting that in the last double-match special a few years ago, Morimoto lost to Flay and Sakai lost to Toshiro Kandagawa, head of the OTA FACTION.  What this makes me realize is that "taste" is indeed subjective and that the Iron Chefs truly have inflated records.  I place much of blame for this squarely on culinary critic ASAKO KISHI.   




KISHI-SAN has to be the biggest homer judge going.  I'm quite convinced she helped score Roy Jones Olympic boxing final in Korea.  Don't get me wrong, I think the Iron Chefs are great and root for them a majority of the time, but Kishi San has given them gifts flat out.  While it was frustrating to watch this last series of losses, I feel the Iron Chefs had it coming.  Although I think Sakai deserved higher scores against Flay (certainly for presentation) Wolfgang Puck didn't beat Morimoto; he buried him.  I was shocked to see how fired up Wolfgang was for this.  His dishes were relentlessly inventive and on-theme in creative ways.  Although he's based in LA, man does he not phone it in. 

Posted at 04:45 pm by jmachinder
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Friday, May 21, 2004
PARENTING

Being a new dad in LA is crazy.  I often take my daughter out for walks.  Like you'd imagine, you get lots of smiles from people and have this unspoken camaraderie with other parent-child pairs as you pass them.  So I'm out the other day and who do I have one of these "hey-we're-both-parents-isn't-it-great-but-also-hard" moments with?  Former supermodel and Rod Stewart spouse Rachael Hunter.  She seemed to be about seven feet tall.  I think she lives around here since I saw her at the mall a while back. 

Truth be told, I am in the minority of fathers who push the stroller.  It doesn't seem that strange to me and I certainly have no problem with it, but yesterday, some guy in his car stopped when he saw me and said "Hey, you don't see a lot of dads pushing their babies around.  I'm going through a custody case right now and I just want to tell you what a great thing you're doing.  Keep it up."  Again, I don't think it's any big deal, but if you say so, I'll take the compliment.   

I had a bunch of errands to do and, later in the day, I had the dreaded chore of taking the baby to the post office.  In the long line, again, lots of smiles.  This time there was much attention coming from the mother and her teenage daughter in front of me.  On my way out (it took me forever to get out of there like it always does) the teenage girl comes up to me and says "If you ever need me to babysit, give me a call."  She then proceeds to hand me her card.  She had written in "babysitter" on the card because this wasn't the job that she had them printed for.  She, of course, was an actress.  A mini-picture of her headshot was on there as well as "SAG/AFTRA" and her agency info.   That a fourteen year old girl (she handwrote in her age as well) has a business card like this just floored me.  I should have said "We'd love to use you, but we're deciding to go another way."  I'm sure she wouldn't want the gig anyway.  We only pay guild plus ten. 

Posted at 06:40 pm by jmachinder
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Tuesday, May 11, 2004
MORE

MORE POOCHIE EFFECT

Here is an interal memo from America Online about AOL RED.

Dear AOL Colleague:

We're pleased to announce the initial soft launch of a major new AOL initiative that will soon have teens seeing RED - RED, the new AOL service for teens that is. This radically new, unique application for teens will allow today's hip-to-click group of Internet users to control and choose the online experience they want, when they want it. While millions of teens currently use the AOL service, and AOL's previous Teens channel was ranked as the #1 online site for teens aged 12-17 according to Media Metrix, most teens would not want to admit using the same AOL service that their parents do. So AOL went to work to discover what a teen wants in an online experience. We assembled focus groups and conducted interviews to get teens' feedback, all of which went into the development of RED. The end result: a decidedly different online experience ' one that's not their parents' AOL. RED is cool, edgy, and ready to meet the needs of the 17 million teens who are online today, according to Jupiter Research. As teens told us loud and clear that they want control of their online experience, complete with access to their favorite content ' on demand and on their own terms ' we delivered and then some. Every day at 3PM ' post-school and prime time for teens ' the RED service will light up with 'big wins' for teens to check out, giving them the big skinny on what's hot through First Looks and First Listens, Celeb Diaries, Featured Comic Sneak Peeks and more. RED, available through AOL(r) 9.0 Optimized on either a dial-up connection or through AOL(r) for Broadband, will allow teens to customize their desktop ' including their own version of the toolbar and Buddy List feature, and select the kind of content, features and programming they want to see, front and center. For teens, the RED service will superserve this segmented market with on-demand entertainment, including exclusive irreverent, cutting-edge content and features from leading brands such as TEEN PEOPLE, DC Comics, and MAD magazine. Plus, teens can enjoy original content produced just for the RED service, new music and games, advance premieres of the latest videos, TV clips, shopping and more. And we all know that teens love to chat and interact with other teens online; a whopping 81% of teens aged 12-17 use the Internet to e-mail friends or family and 70% use it for instant messaging (AOL/DMS, August 2003). The RED service delivers plenty of soapbox opportunities available in The Lounge area, opportunities for teens to be heard as instant messaging, polls and monitored message boards and chat rooms are threaded throughout the service. Now for a little 'Pssst' for parents: the RED service is fully integrated with our industry-leading Parental Controls, so parents can rely on all of AOL's built-in safety and security features to keep their teens safe in the RED zone. We want to thank all of the teams involved for working tirelessly to deliver the kind of customizable online experience that connects today's teens to the content, community and commerce they crave most. Now go be a hipster and check it out for yourself at Keyword: RED. Your favorite teen may even think you're totally cool.

Sincerely, Jim Bankoff and Ted Leonsis


These two were pointed out to me..

EXTREME CHECKING  Poochieness ain't just for kids.

Here's a website called INCONSPICUOUS CONSUMPTION, which touches on a lot of "extreme" food products.  Note the sunglasses on the Pepridge Farm Goldfish.

Now here's something that will probably get me in trouble.  I'm kind of thinking more and more that Hollywood often aims to get Poochieness out of African Americans.  A while ago, I was working on a script idea with a producer and another writer for a pitch.  It's not important what it was or what it was about, but in the pitch there was a black guy who was a nerd.  It wasn't a huge character and we made him a nerd for some small reason that I don't remember.  After the pitch to the studio executive, he zeroes in on the character and asks if he has to be a nerd.  Not being insane, we all say that of course he doesn't, but what followed was this big speech about how you always want the black guy to be cool  -- like you're wasting his blackness if he's not or something.  I couldn't believe he was spending this much time on it, but it was, like, really important to him.  He kept saying the words "attitude" and "edgy."  Sometimes when I look at roles played by African Americans, I still hear the words of that executive.  A few examples.

--Queen Latifa as Charlene in Bringin' Down the House.  The whole point of the movie seems to be how uncomforable Steve Martin is around black people and how QF has to hip him up and teach him some attitude.

--Wanda Sykes as Wanda Hawkins on Wanda At Large.  The above example and this one should proove conclusively that Poochie attitude certainly isn't just for men.  Wanda definitely embraces the "in your face"ness that Poochie creators espouse.

--Will Smith as Agent J in Men in Black.  Yeah, Tommy Lee Jones wears the sunglasses as well, but, in the words of J "You know what the difference between you and me?  I make this look good." and
from the sequel (pointing at K) "Old and nasty." (pointing at himself) "New hotness." 



Posted at 03:00 pm by jmachinder
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MORE

MORE CRIMES AGAINST FANBOYS

A couple more came to me after I made the post.

--THE OSAMU TETZUKA ESTATE DECIDES NOT TO SUE DISNEY

When The Lion King came out, fanboys were stunned that it wasn't advertised as some kind of remake of Kimba.  It was a huge hit and everywhere you went, kids and adults were talking about how "wildly original" it was.  When you'd bring up how similar the whole thing was to the famous Tetzuka property and people looked at you like you were just some nitpicky geek.  Finally, a few articles popped up and those of us who were upset began to feel vindicated.  Things really got crazy when creators of The Lion King started making public comments they'd never heard of Kimba or Tetzuka.  My attitude was "Well, if you don't know about this classic show as well as the overall great works of Tetzuka, then you have no business being in animation."  It was really maddening.  It was an open and shut case.  It reminded me of when the Furby came out.  It obviously looked like Gizmo from Gremlins and the second Warner's brought up a suit, the Furby creators faced the music and settled.  With the Kimba/Simba thing however, because Osamu Tetzuka was such a fan of the works of Walt Disney, his surviving relatives decided not to take legal action out of respect for their deceased relative. 

Let's face it, fanboys get very few "Wow, you were right about that thing you were spouting off about" comments from non-geeks.  Had Disney been made to take it on the chin like they should have, fanboys across the nation would have seemed to make sense to regular people for once.      

--DINOSAUR STRENGTH REVISIONISM IN JURASSIC PARK III

A common technique in storytelling is to spend time showing how tough one force is and then have it instantly wiped out by a second force.  You see it all the time.  One of my favorite examples is in Once Were Warriors.  Jake Heke (Temeura Morrison) watches a tough guy win a bar fight easily and then beats the crap out of him himself.  We then learn that Jake is a wifebeater - and what's great about it is that it's been already set up that he's so damn tough, there's no way that his wife, Beth (Rena Owen) can physically do anything to stop him.  (Interestingly, I'm not the only person who seems to like this film.  George Lucas cast Temuera Morrison as JANGO FETT and also put Rena Owen in AOTC as the voice of Taun We.  Moreover, it looks like she's got an actual part in Episode III). 

Anyway, where was I?  Oh yeah, for Jurassic Park III, Joe Johnson and co., decided they needed a dinosaur tougher than a T-Rex.  This is pretty silly, considering how beloved the Tyrannosaurus is.  The problems with the first two movies -- and trust me the first two movies had problems -- were in no way T-Rex related.  In fact, they were the best things in the movies.   But early on in III, we see a T-Rex and it loses in a fight to a Spinosaurus. 

A great number of fanboys start out with a fascination of dinosaurs at the earliest of ages.  Most move on to other things, but few outright turn their back on what they learned when it was all they could think about.  The notion that a Spinosaurus would not get annihilated every single time by a Tyrannosaur was crazy.  I remember reading bulletin board posts about comparative jaw strength and whatnot.   There are plenty of dinosaur nuts who know way more than I do.  When I saw it, I didn't know exactly how outrageous it was, but I applaud all who outraged.   If it was that important to the filmmakers to have something tougher than a T-Rex, they should have made up a dinosaur.  


Posted at 02:25 pm by jmachinder
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