Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I just saw a commercial for that movie Into The Blue. The gravelly-voiced "in a world" voiceover guy quotes a critic saying "Jessica Alba gives a stunning knockout performance."

Jessica Alba gives a stunning knockout performance? No, Jessica Alba wears a bikini. I mean, yeah, she does that well enough, but come on. Come on, "in a world" guy, don't bullshit us like that.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Monday, September 26, 2005

I'm sure you've all seen the new Strong Bad Email by now. My question, and I'm surprised I haven't seen this mentioned anywheres else, is this: was that John Flansburgh singing?

If it was, I get credit for spotting it first. Moviemaking, from the soundtrack up

Cameron Crowe writes about music in movies, a subject about which he can tell you quite a bit. He relates two anecdotes about the famous boombox scene in Say Anything, one of which I've been mangling for years.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

I’m not capable, I’m not thrifty, I can not fix it. “Oh, Greg’ll fix it.” No, the hell he will, he can’t! I don’t have that guy gene, I don’t understand tools. For as much as I know about being a guy I might as well go to a…tool store, a hardware store wearing a tiara. “Hi, do you have a bang-bang to put the pointy thing in for the…I need a grab-hold and a twisty because I’m putting up some…help! Curtains!”
-Greg Behrendt

Most of the time it's not bad, apart from the agony of de feet every night. Just stroll the section, keep things tidy, and be ready to direct people to where the pine shelving unit would be if it hadn't sold out in two hours on Grand Opening day. It only really gets bad when I have to know about the stuff we sell. I mean, I learn--it's officially fall now, and out of necessity I'm becoming an expert on weatherstripping--but what am I supposed to do when Tim Taylor comes in and says "I have a 3/8ths torque flanger with internal widget fastener; is does this framistat have enough Jorson Units to power a self-repeating framistat renoberator?" At which point I frantically scan the box for any mention of framistats.

Fortunately, there's plenty of people who are veritably steeped in Jorson Units; the Department Manager is a gravelly old bastard who should be named Buck. Hell, I'm naming him Buck. Lenny (my age) Cappy (Newfie somewhere north of 40), and Junior (teenage so-and-so who worked in construction) are usually nearby. The key is hang by when they're breaking it down, so I learn how much torque a torque flanger could flange if a torque flanger could flange torque.

The only ones that make me go spare are the ones who were once introduced to english at a party, but are otherwise unacquainted with it, who are looking for something very specific that they saw at our store 7 months ago (remember, we Grand Opened two weeks ago), that they can't describe and whose function they cannot sufficiently relate, but they're sure they saw it here, and what is it used for anyway? So I gradually decode the layers of verbal encryption and figure out what they're looking for, lead them all over the store, and finally have to tell them that it's something we don't carry. Yes, I know, sir, but we're one of the smaller stores in the chain and there are some items we just don't have here.

On the matter of the store's size, a belated note to corporate: don't build small when there's a Home Depot at the other end of the street.

A few other things to get off my chest. The lock that's on sale for seven bucks, from a manufacturer we don't usually carry, is not going to be top-of-the-line. This air compressor costs less than that one, even though it comes with a brad nailer, because this is the air compressor that's on sale as a loss leader, and that one's a good one from a reputable manufacturer. Stay off the ladders. It's on aisle 4. I'm putting that on the back of my vest: IT'S ON AISLE 4.

Now that the bitching's done...

Despite what my feet will tell you, it's not so bad. I AM learning the tool talk, and being a new store the worker-money ennui hasn't set in yet. Lots of calling people "buddy" or "dude" and not "dog." High-fives and handshakes, even with the store manager. I even went drinking with a bunch of them earlier tonight. Over the course of a couple pints of Guinness, I (with a teammate, I admit) set a six-game pool winning streak, the last three of which were actual victories, and not just the other team scratching the 8-ball. He'd set 'em up, we'd put 'em in, and I'd sink the ol' blackball smooth as you please. I was Dave Lister that night at the Aigburth Arms. Bring on the white hole.

No, it's not the job I wanted (and you better believe I'm still checking Craigslist every day) but it's not so bad, and I'm determined to keep it that way.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen


Usenet Kook Of The Week Returns!

Been a while, ha'n't it?

I occasionally check in on, usually to talk about Lost, but occasionally to see what this freak has to say about Battlestar Galactica and what he alleges is it's Hollywood Homosexual agenda. Hhhhhollywood Hhhhhomosexuals, Ladies and Gentlemen.

This post is a good primer for his thesis. The short version: apparently Apollo gets forced to the ground a lot.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Week 3—2002.10.24
(A bit of background on this one: that day in class, we had watched part of the documentary Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky And The Media, in which Chomsky broke down the 23(!) corporations that, at the time the doc was made, controlled all communications in the world. The instructor felt that, while Chomsky had a point, a lot of his arguments were of the tinfoil-hat persuasion.)

On the one hand, yes, I agree with you about Noam Chomsky, that the man needs to get some perspective and lighten up.

On the other hand?

Well, I have a theory. When a situation slides too far in the wrong direction, an extreme reaction is needed, to jerk everything back over towards a happy medium. We needed strident feminism to counteract institutionalized misogyny. Not that I’m condoning the actions of Malcolm X, but race relations in America were pretty piss-poor before he came along. And Noam Chomsky may be extreme in his views on media…but he has a point.

There is a self-appointed ruling class (mostly, though not entirely, Republicans) who seem to think that the job of the media is not only to keep the populace pacified, but as a form of behavior modification. This was especially in evidence in the 50s and 60s. I mean, Father Knows Best? What a giveaway. Even now, you constantly get clowns testifying in congress (and I’m sure, parliament, too—sorry to have to be all American on you there) about how TV/movies/video games/comics/websites are a bad influence—implying, of course, that media should be a good influence. And there are always vast wodges of the populace that go along with it. So, obviously, there are a lot of people who believe that our entertainment should be more than entertainment—that it should promote correct (read: right-wing) behavior and values.

Naturally, this is a load of shash.

So maybe we need people like Noam Chomsky. As long as the Pax Network exists, as long as Touched By An Angel exists, as long as the select few in control of the media (whose power, since that documentary was made, has consolidated even further) think that they alone have the right to use the media, we need someone like Chomsky, who is as far out of whack in the other direction, to try to yank everything back into order.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Week 2 – 2002.10.17
When I was a kid, one of the local TV stations used to show the old Flash Gordon movie serials. I loved them, though I had to laugh at the primitive special effects, raised as I was on the works of ILM and modern effects.
All in all, I have to feel a bit of relief at the fact that we live in a time when pretty much anything is possible in movies. But just like the excitement our generation feels as we watch a new medium—the internet—mature, I can imagine it must have been pretty cool at the turn of the last century, watching as pictures started moving, talking, doing strange things, and eventually doing them with color.
I know it seems silly to us now, to be in wonder at the sight of…man walking! Man running! Man running—double speed! Or whatever passed for great cinema back then. But every art form has to start somewhere. I’m sure a hundred years from now, our descendants will be saying things like, “so early websites were mostly text-based? And video was only in two dimensions? DSL was considered fast?” and laughing their asses off at our naivete. As they marvel in wonder at whatever the next new form of media is.
Side note: I was kind of hoping we’d watch Un Chien Andalou in class. I saw some clips from it in a documentary on surrealism and I’d like to see the whole thing. I did see one scene from it; do you know which one? Take a guess, I dare you. A straight razor, right across the eyeball. I have a pretty strong constitution, stronger than most, but…eesh. I guess I can just look away for that part.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

So, it turns out that it's not Ernie Anderson doing the VOs for Channel M, or for anything else. Shit. Paul, Mel, Daws, Thurl, Ern...Corey Burton, keep that flame burning.

Did you know Ernie Anderson was Ghoulardi?

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Channel M, also known as Multivision, is Vancouver's designated multiculti TV channel. And I gotta give props, they seriously ARE multicultural--we're talking Punjabi news, Sikh affairs, and a daily Yoga and Tai Chi morning block, followed by King Of The Hill.

This is their management team. Oy.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

In response to my first media journal post, I was sent a link to a thought-provoking article on the subject of the auteur theory. You go there now.

As a fan of William Goldman (hey, this is the man who wrote The Princess Bride, give him his due), I agree with him that auteurship, in the form envisioned by auteur theory, doesn't really exist. While many directors are very much the guiding vision of their movies (Burton, Gilliam, and all the usual), film is by necessity a collaborative process. While one strong leader should be at the heart of it, there's still a scriptwriter to give words to the actors in front of the cameras on the set. Everyone with a hand in making a movie is going to leave a fingerprint on it, however prominent (Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet) or subtle (John Toll's lens-flared Amerka in Almost Famous/Untitled).

As digital technology progresses, we may one day get to the point where one person could write a script, act out every character himself, using a motion-controlled camera to execute perfect camera moves, then edit and score it using any of the currently available media tools. So the question now is; would that be some French New Wave-era ideal of true auteurship? Or would it just be cinemasturbation?

Either way, it'll probably be Lars Von Trier who does it. Or Paul Thomas Anderson.

More in comments.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Shaolin in film fightback

Shaolin monks Vs. Pirates.

I'm gonna say that again, because I don't think you're taking the journey with me.

16th century Shaolin monks (with the whoo-haa, jump, kick POW!) vs. pirates (with the arr, shiver me swashbuckle, ye scurvy maties), produced by, and starring actual Shaolin monks. Sadly, no actual pirates, but that's okay, because if Seafair is any indication, modern-day pirates are pussies.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

And now, just to have something to post here, is the first entry from the "media journal" I had to keep for my Media Studies class at the Art Institute. Each week we were supposed to make a journal entry about that week's class subject. I fully deny that I banged all these out the night before we were supposed to turn them in.

Week 1 - 2002.10.10
First day of the three-in-one marathon class--Film Screening, followed by MS-Film, then Visual Storytelling, adding up to seven hours of movie-geek-immersion education. And that's always a good thing.
It seems to be a lively bunch, too--there are only three gaming students, as opposed to about twenty DFPs, but those three gaming students have plenty to say. During the discussion period, it was hard to get a word in edgewise.
As for the discussion topic, we started on "what is/are media?" and somehow drifted to "what constitutes selling out?" The consensus on the first seems to be that media is, loosely defined, communication. Or, more accurately, the means by which communication takes place. Could be a handwritten note scrawled on the back of a napkin, could be a fancy digital motion picture with THX sound, the point is, it's however the message is disseminated.
Which gives the aspiring Media Master a lot of leeway.
The second question, concerning selling out, is a bit more tricky. My take has always been that 1) even a brilliant artist has to eat, and 2) as long as you maintain your integrity, cashing in is not the same as selling out. But then again, everybody has a different level of integrity, so who draws the line? Take Britney Spears (please, rimshot). Her "music" is the blandest, most insipid bubblegum imaginable. But then again, that "music" is basically another accessory, along with videos, movies, clothes, etc, to the lifestyle she is selling. So how can she be compromising her musical integrity when she never claimed to have any?
I recently read an anecdote involving Kevin Smith (I know you're not a fan of the guy, but I am, so bear with me). When he pitched his third movie, Chasing Amy to Miramax, they were going to budget it at two to three million, but they wanted to cast Drew Barrymore, Jon Stewart, and David Schwimmer. Smith had already planned to cast it with his friends Joey Lauren Adams, Ben Affleck, and Jason Lee, all unknowns compared to who Miramax wanted. So Smith offered to make the movie for about 250 thousand, a tenth of what Miramax was offering, to be able to make it with his friends. And the result? For significantly less risk, Smith got to make the movie more or less exactly how he wanted, he got back some of the goodwill that he lost with the less-than-successful Mallrats, and he made stars out of Affleck and Lee.
I don't know if I'd go so far as to say that accepting the higher budget and casting Barrymore et al would be selling-out, but the story is a good example of what happens when you leave the creative decisions in the hands of the creative people.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Man, working is hard. How do you all do it every day?

The closest experience to this is when I started at the Pay-N-Save warehouse when I was 21, being thrust into hard physical labor after months of inactivity. I eventually got into the rhythm there, and after about a year I was in the best shape of my life. I'm hoping something like that happens here, though I have to factor in that I was a hell of a lot younger and more resilient then, and I'm a lot more out-of-shape now.

One other thing that this job has in common with that one: boots.

Once again, I am required to wear steel-toed boots for my job. That part, I actually kinda like. A lot of people go for the low-key, hiking style boots, where you barely notice the steel toes. Me, I go for the huge, clunky black leather jobs, with the thick, rigid soles that clunk satisfyingly on cement floors and turn my walk into a tough-guy swagger.

Back at Pain-N-Slave, I started out with a twenty-dollar pair of starter boots. When those wore out, rather than buy another pair, I dusted off the huge old army boots I had worn to play Eddie at Rocky Horror. Those were the high kind, that came up nearly to my knees, that I had to tuck my pantlegs into. Between the boots, the forced swagger, and the black leather biker jacket, I apparently cut a rather impressive figure. I was referred to, at various times, as "slick," "Terminator," and, as Mowrer will recall, "The Guy With The Boots."

I have another pair of army boots, again for playing Eddie this halloween. I wore them to work one day and could barely walk by the end of the day. Man, I miss being 21.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Monday, September 05, 2005

I've already gotten a dressing down from Mowrer about not telling people about this, so here it is. I've got a job.

No, it is not in film, TV, or new media. It is, in fact, at a soon-to-open branch of Canada's top home improvement store. I'm not mentioning the name here, because I don't want to be one of those schlubs you hear about who gets fired for talking about his job on his blog. Suffice it to say I am taking my film school education and becoming a warehouse monkey. It's 1991 all over again.

At least it's more money for Disneyland.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

So Suzy was saying on her blog that the government's half-assed response to Hurricane Katrina will be the thing that finally turns Bush's support base against him.

Sadly, I think we can expect more of this:

“New Orleans now is abortion free. New Orleans now is Mardi Gras free. New Orleans now is free of Southern Decadence and the sodomites, the witchcraft workers, false religion -- it's free of all of those things now. God simply, I believe, in His mercy purged all of that stuff out of there -- and now we're going to start over again."

Or, as my dad put it, they got what they deserved.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Sunday, September 04, 2005

"My name is Thomas Vail, or at least it was.

I'm a photographer. I had it all: a wife, Alyson, friends, a career. And in one moment it was all taken away, all because of a single photograph.

I have it. They want it. And they will do anything to get the negative.

I'm keeping this diary as proof that these events are real.

I know they are...

They have to be. "

Saturday, September 03, 2005

I'm waiting to see what smug bullshit statement Pat Robertson has to say about this. If he's such a fan of assassination, I say we go ahead and do it. And then backpedal and say we were talking about kidnapping.

Friday, September 02, 2005


from Craigslist New Orleans:

"I am sorry to here of your loss and suffering. I am a single man an artist who is fun and energetic. I am looking for a single woman 27-35 attractive and fit. I have a small apartment I live close to the ocean there is work here also.
The women in Floirda are shallow so I thought this may be a way to meet someone special. I am a honest decnt man and you should be with no kids or drugs.
Send a picture to me and I will arrange transportation for you. "

"SWM 5-7, slim, athletic looking for SWF who wants to start over in a new place.
My home is in NY but I work in CO right now. Financially secure and open minded. All replies answered."

"I'm a single male, no kids, 5' 8" 140 pounds, athletic. I have a big house in Las vegas. I'm looking for a pretty single white girl. If you've lost your home and you and your family need a place to stay, I can help."

"Firstly, my heart goes out to everyone stranded in the wake of Katrina.
If you're in a situation and looking to re-locate to Denver for a new start on things, then let's chat and see if I can help.
I can start with an outstretched hand that may lead into something long term or just be a good friend.
I'm a forty-one year-old British male that is considerate, passionate, and has a sexy European accent. If you are easy on the eyes, over twenty and under forty-nine, single or maybe divorced and looking to re-locate and even settle down, then I'm here. "

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