Thursday, July 31, 2008

Billy Corgan on ‘Watchmen’ trailer


Billy Corgan spoke to the L.A. Times about the use of the Smashing Pumpkins’ song “The Beginning Is the End Is the Beginning” in the Watchmen trailer, a pairing that the paper said “earn[ed] accolades.” (The reporter apparently did not talk to Jesse Steinchen.)

The fact that Corgan looks like a grouchy, unshaven Dr. Manhattan in the photo is not helped by quotes like “I don’t really keep up on what the world is doing or saying anymore” and “My fans seem to be confused when the outside world appreciates our work, so I can only imagine this terrifies them.”

And if Dr. Manhattan were to write a rock song, I imagine he would give it a title much like “The Beginning Is the End Is the Beginning.” Don’tcha think?

Attention oral fetishists: ‘Red Sonja’


Apparently you will have to wait even longer. IMDb already says 2010.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Monday, July 28, 2008

‘Venn Pentagram’

Brilliance from Deciblog on the overlap between a classic Florida death metal band and a disease that is costing untold sums in medical care and insurance premiums:


Watchmen posters pay homage

The latest batch of Watchmen posters, unveiled at Comic-Con — where people showed up dressed like Rorschach, Nite Owl and Silk Spectre — pay homage to a black-and-white set that came out to promote the original comics. Those posters, sent to comic book shops, featured each of the six main characters in a solo scene, with a quote that may or may not have been drawn from the book. (I have the Rorschach one framed at home.)

The new posters are basically color re-creations of the originals, with movie tagline added. It’s a classy move, and in marketing terms a smart nod to the nerds. They’re already over $100 on eBay.


They also added this one of Sally Jupiter, the original Silk Spectre, which I don’t believe was part of the original set. (There’s another Bettie Page-style pinup of her floating around.)


Lots more images at Omelete, a Brazilian blog.


Update: Nice hi-res versions of the new posters on the movie blog.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Three reasons Adam West’s Batman is smarter than Christian Bale’s


Because he was a detective. In the comics, Batman was modeled as much after Sherlock Holmes the scientist/crime-solver as Superman the costumed crime-fighter. Batman’s storylines were basically forensic mysteries: a crime would be committed and clues would be found, leading to a cat-and-mouse game with dastardly criminals, who like Batman lived on a higher plane of existence than us ordinary schmucks. Much of the action would take place in the Batcave, which was essentially a laboratory. There would be a eureka moment based on evidence, logical deduction and intuition.

Bale’s Batman, on the other hand, is for the most part a clobberer. Nearly every time we see him he’s punching somebody, and when he does speak it’s only a few hoarsely muttered words. Despite the couple of token scenes of Batman at his crime lab, wordlessly pulling miracles from some clue, Morgan Freeman does most of the brainy work.

Because it’s impossible for an actor to convey psychological depth in a superhero costume. There are a couple of reasons why comic books can develop characters with true depth despite the limitations of the medium. One is the episodic format. You can get way into a character’s head when you have 1,000 stories going back decades. The number of times Batman’s origin has been retold, for instance, and its layers upon layers of variations, elevate the story to myth. Repetition gives a depth each individual narrative episode cannot.

Second, the best comics embrace the medium’s limits. The gaps of meaning and plot between panels, the flatness of character and scene. The exaggeration of form, color and movement. We suspend our disbelief to a greater degree in comics than in most other media, which is the only thing that allows such silly characters and stories to make sense to us. But in a film, a guy in a cape and tights just looks ridiculous. He is limited by the physicality of the costume instead of being liberated by it.

PhotobucketAdam West never brought out our cognitive dissonance because he played to the silliness of the story and never tried to feign high drama.

Because he didn’t affect an unnatural, animalistic voice. I’m surprised more critics haven’t faulted Bale’s Batman for his voice. It’s a perverse rasp, and Batman is never heard saying more than a few short words at a time.

(The Joker: You just couldn’t let me go could you? This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You truly are incorruptible, aren’t you? You won’t kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness, and I won’t kill you, because you’re just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever.

Batman: You’ll be in a padded cell forever.)

West, on the other hand, went super-thespian, toying with the music of his lines in the same corny but totally attractive way William Shatner did. West’s Batman is instantly recognizable by voice — the odd pauses, the professorial singsong, the Sherlock Holmes-like self-satisfaction. It was silly as hell, but it was smart storytelling, and that’s why Adam West has stuck with us for 40 years and Christian Bale is just another lug in a rubber costume.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sounds of the community boards of Brooklyn

Part one in what I pray will be a short and maybe even already complete series. This was recorded approximately two hours into a three-hour meeting a couple of weeks ago. (Or longer; three hours is when I left.)

Press release of the day: Joey DeMaio (of Manowar) honors opera star José Carreras

... and for first time, DeMaio does not crotch-grab and spray beer all over onstage guest

As part of the official delegation of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem — Knights of Malta — Federation of Autonomous Priories, Grand Cross Knight Of Malta Joey DeMaio presented an Award of Merit to world famous Spanish tenor José Carreras hailing his artistic career achievements and lifetime philanthropic works.

Joey DeMaio, Minister Of Youth of the Knights Of Malta, presented the award in the city of Timişoara (Transylvania), Romania last Sunday, July 20th.

Did anyone know that Joey is a Grand Cross Knight of Malta? Or that he is a (the?) Minister of Youth? Or that he uses the prefix Doctor? Or that his activities in this arena all seem to take place in Romania, Hungary or “Graddoland”? And that in addition to guys that look like this ...


... he hangs out with guys that look like this?


Cuz I sure didn’t.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Watchin’ the Watchmen trailer

How I catch every production designer and costumer v-journal but miss the trailer, I don’t know. But thanks to a link from Jake, I now have seen it. In HD, too.

And ... I dunno. My initial reactions are all fanboy reflexes, which means they are uncritical and prejudicial and they emerge from deep within the mylar sleeves of my crocodile brain. Comedian is too handsome. Laurie/Silk Spectre is too sexy. Dan/Nite Owl isn’t fat enough. Veidt/Ozymandias is too young. Too this, too that. Not exactly like the comic. Worst episode ever.

Which is unfair. The V for Vendetta film may have been a dumbed-down hatchet job, but it was a pretty good dumbed-down hatchet job. With Watchmen I’m bracing for the worst in terms of storyline and acting, but it’s clear from the trailer that a great deal of attention has been paid to production detail. We basically already knew that, but this confirms it. Rope of Silicon has a frame-by-frame, movie-to-comic comparison of some key scenes, revealing that yes, they look like reasonably faithful translations of certain images:


The big question is whether that is all they are. A story is more than props and a rigid storyboard. If anything, too much concern about making a xerox from one medium to another suggests a slavish uncreativity on the part of a director, a failure of imagination. Too often, I think, that is where comic adaptations go wrong: they get stuck in the small picture and miss the big picture.

With Watchmen the stakes are especially high because the big picture is very, very big. It’s the best story ever told in comics and one of the best in 20th-century literature, an artfully complex summation of late-Cold War politics and popular culture. That’s not just me talking: as is well known, it placed on Time magazine’s list a few years ago of the 100 best novels since 1923.

(Even though we live in an age of war, I think the paranoia and pessimism of Watchmen are essentially rooted in the Cold War and are no longer a part of our culture, at least not in the same way. For some reason, though, that makes it more real to me. This is not a vague and formulaic complaint about war and death in general; it’s about a time and a place. That makes it real history, and paradoxically also makes it more universal.)

The 2 minute 20 second trailer is not enough to decide whether the film meets the challenge. But it reveals something that for other comic adaptations has been a tell-tale flaw: the little details have been obsessively accounted for, from Nite Owl’s ship to Ozymandias’ collar to Rorschach’s Veidt-brand hair spray weapon. All that is nice, but it’s not enough. Does Zack Snyder know that? Who watches him?

(One thing that’s kind of funny: Apple’s page for the HD version of the trailer seems to mix up the names of some actors and characters. Fanboys, you start your error-spotting engines:)

  • “Zack Snyder (dir.)
  • Malin Akerman
  • Laurie Juspeczyk
  • Billy Crudup
  • Jon Osterman
  • Matthew Goode”

Sunday, July 20, 2008

From Pantera’s kitchen to yours

Vinnie Paul, drummer for Pantera and Hellyeah, is offering an unusual piece of metal memorabilia on eBay: his self-cleaning Whirlpool elecrtric oven.

His father bought him a new one for Christmas, so he’s unloading this model, which he recommends for cooking or general fan-fetish purposes. “You can either get this just to look at, or you can get it and cook yourself — I don’t give a fuck,” he says in a YouTube video that accompanies the auction page (copied below).

Auction ends next Sunday morning. Winner picks up the cargo in Arlington, Tex. So far it’s got 26 bids, up to $510.00.

If you ever dreamt of a kitchen appliance once owned by a player on “Fucking Hostile,” this is your chance — don’t let it get away!


(Via Deciblog.)

Reminder: Not ALL women are stupid, though they all do smile a lot


This li’l nugget o’ sexism, which ran in the New Yorker on March 29, 1968, is taken from this person’s fantastic vintage magazines collection on Flickr, which reached me via Vintage Ads. I also like this one:

Thursday, July 17, 2008

eBay regrets: Checker Patrol, Living Colour, Hear ’n Aid

  • 1986 Panasonic tape with Checker Patrol demo on Side A and Mayhem demo (Pure Fucking Armageddon) on Side B: $510.00.
  • CD long box of Living Colour’s Vivid: $1,025.00.
  • Hear ’n Aid (metal version of USA for Africa) Japanese CD: $202.50.

(Via Deciblog, Idolator/Heavy Metal Addiction — check for more.)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Slash’s mother


Ola Hudson, mother of Saul Hudson, a.k.a. Slash. She designed clothes for rock stars, and dated David Bowie after breaking up with young Slash’s father.

(Via Vintage Ads.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Murdoch = Bobby Brown?

Apparently Rupert Murdoch’s takeover of the Wall Street Journal is complete. The paper is now quoting Bobby Brown in photo captions to blog items about the psychology of Wall Street:


Is it significant that the first comment was posted by someone named “LOL”?

Radiohead’s 64-laser video

The video for Radiohead’s “House of Cards” was made with no cameras but rather a spinning device that contains 64 lasers:

There are articles about it in Creativity and the Guardian. (Which has probably the worst lede you could ever imagine in a Guardian article: “Cameras? Radiohead don’t need your stinkin’ cameras.”) Google Code, something I had never heard of, has an amazing feature that allows you to play with the 3-D data:


And here is a making-of-the-video video:

(Via TDS, BB.)