Books for Soldiers

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October 31, 2006

Who are you, man?!

"Cough...hack...wheeze... I'm Batman, dammit."

Posted by sferrell at 12:27 PM

"Up, up, and aw-- oh, nevermind."

guidingstupid.jpgFollowing up on my "ode to Richard Donner" I thought I'd point out how Marvel will willingly bend over and take one up the @$$, all in the name of 'cross-promotion.' They have worked with long-running soap "Guiding Light" to create a soap-opera super-hero.

At long last, the chasm between soap opera fans and comic book fans has been bridged. Our long national nightmare is over.

This is, simply, one of the dumbest things I've ever heard. Doesn't anyone remember the era of "General Hospital" in the late '80s when they had an alien on the show? Or, what about "Days of Our Lives"'s use of demonic possession? The best part about the former was that it got the producer canned; the best part of the latter was that Marlena Black, the character who was possessed by Satan spent her time crushing Christmas oranaments--now that's evil! Please, don't ask me how I know any of this. Brain cells have died bringing you this information.

Best line from the NYTimes article:

Ellen Wheeler, the executive producer of “Guiding Light,” said the idea for a collaboration came from another Marvel comic book milestone: the July wedding of the Black Panther and Storm, an X-Men character, whose dress was conceived by Shawn Dudley, the costume designer for “Guiding Light.” After that, it was simple: “Let’s call them to see if there’s anything to talk about,” Ms. Wheeler said.

It's really exciting when the high-powered producers of entertainment put their heads together. It's something else when it's your costumer.

Posted by sferrell at 11:16 AM

Look, up in the sky... it's Richard Donner!

rdonnersupes.jpgI'm looking forward to this. The trend of "director's cuts" lately has been a marketing ploy. Directors shoot and edit the film, then hand it over to the studio with a running time of over 2 hours. The studio understandably cuts 30 minutes or so, then releases the film, and everyone and their mama knows that the missing 30 minutes will be thrown back in for a "director's cut" DVD, which will come out 4 to 6 months after the first DVD release. These "special edition" DVDs are nothing more than a chance to pick your pocket. Very often when you watch the missing scenes you can see why they were cut in the first place.

As a writer I can see how shooting certain scenes can be very useful, practically critical, for the creation of a film. I write lots of scenes in my fiction which end up getting cut. They don't flow, they tread water, or they don't really serve much of a purpose for the reader. But that doesn't mean that they don't serve a valuable purpose for me, the writer. They help me get the voices of my characters, they help me understand some of their motives and biases. Sometimes they give me a quiet moment for the character to reflect on themselves, and when that happens the writing in the rest of the material improves. I know my character and story better as a result. If I didn't push up against the boundaries of my story and the people within it, and if I didn't occasionally push past it, I wouldn't know where those boundaries are at all and my writing would be like a river without a bank--listless, directionless, and stagnant. So, I am all in favor of directors and actors and screenwriters shooting all sorts of scenes, figuring out what they are trying to say, and then cutting them out of the film. Share them on the DVD in the extras section. Or shoot and shoot and shoot, and sometimes you end up with an entire second film, vastly different and separate from the first one you started. While I think that many of the "Director's Cut" DVDs are just a money grab, I don't think that extensive shooting or sharing that footage with viewers is a bad thing. I also don't think that multiple versions of a film are a bad thing--some director's cuts are legitimately different from the released film due to changes made competely outside the director's interest or vision, changes which may in fact drastically change the film.

Superman II - The Richard Donner Cut is in a different class. Donner was pulled off the shoot and replaced. Entire sections of the film were scrapped and the ending altered and reshot. What is being released here is thanks to a re-edit which replaces lost footage, and the ability of modern special effects to step in and bring back a vision that was altered, not just cut. This is not George Lucas adding special effects to STAR WARS and rereleasing the film. It's as if George Lucas had been replaced halfway through "Empire Strikes Back" with another director who removed the scenes with Vader fighting Luke, and now years later Lucas has the opportunity to recreate his film.

And this release goes beyond economics for another reason: Donner had a vision of Superman which was quite strong and resounding. His vision was imitated for the recent "Superman Returns," and he's actually going to be writing one of the Superman comic books for DC. I'd say that this release of Donner's version of "Superman II" is far from a money grab, it may be a return of the real deal.

Posted by sferrell at 10:15 AM

October 27, 2006

STAR TREK bloopers

If YouTube gives us nothing else, at least it give us this:

Posted by sferrell at 3:41 PM

October 26, 2006

Line up to be an idiot.

An Alabama lawmaker has gone to great lengths to prove that he's a fascist. How? He's proposed removing any book from library shelves that includes a gay character, or is by a gay author.

This is one of those "where do you even start" stories:

Republican Alabama lawmaker Gerald Allen says homosexuality is an unacceptable lifestyle. As CBS News Correspondent Mark Strassmann reports, under his bill, public school libraries could no longer buy new copies of plays or books by gay authors, or about gay characters.

"I don't look at it as censorship," says State Representative Gerald Allen. "I look at it as protecting the hearts and souls and minds of our children."

First, Mr. Allen may be interested to know the definition of "censorship." Webster's defines it as "the institution, system, or practice of censoring or censors" which is "an official who examines publications for objectionable matter; an official who reads communications and deletes forbidden material." So, in essence Mr. Allen's "protecting the hearts and souls and minds of our children" is really a wonderful definition of censorship, not a movement away from it.

Second, Mr. Allen worries about the "gay agenda." He's sees flamboyant threats in books everywhere.

But in book after book, Allen reads what he calls the "homosexual agenda,"
and he's alarmed.

"It's not healthy for America, it doesn't fit what we stand for," says Allen. "And they will do whatever it takes to reach their goal."

How many books has he actually read? Which ones are they? Is he reading this, or this? Where is he seeing an agenda?

Finally, this ass-hat misses the irony of his fight completely when he says "it doesn't fit what [America] stands for." What doesn't? Freedom of choice? Freedom of Speech? Freedom of Ideas? Freedom to be left alone by an invasive, controlling government? Which of these is not what America stands for?

Thankfully, when his bill came up for a vote, the rest of the legislators fled the room allowing it to die as a result of a lack of a quorum.

Posted by sferrell at 2:44 PM

My mouse is attached to Jackson Pollock's brain


Posted by sferrell at 2:29 PM

October 24, 2006

Family Guy Top 10 Videos

Someone at YouTube put together a video of the "Top 10 Segments" from the series Family Guy. What I find most intersting about the collection is that it's really not all that different from an actual episode. If the countdown introductions were removed, would any one even notice that it wasn't a real episode?

Posted by sferrell at 8:58 AM

October 19, 2006

Stupidest Contest Ever

Some clown in Milwaukee has admitted that the recent bomb scare at seven NFL stadiums was part of a contest with his friend "as part of an Internet competition with a person in Texas to create the scariest terror scenario possible."

These two guys don't know it, but they were also a taking part in some other contests:

Who can pull the stupidest stunt that might lead to an indictment.
Who can make themselves look like a grade-A moron in front of a national audience.

and the big one...

Who is going to get teased for the rest of their lives for having done something only an idiot would do.

Posted by sferrell at 5:08 PM

Stonehenge Reloaded

If "genius" is the ability to see something in a way other's don't, then Wally Wellington is a genius. He's building a Stonehenge monument in his backyard. He's doing it by himself. And he's not using any machines to do it. What other monuments might have been built using his methods, I wonder? Pyramids, anyone?

Posted by sferrell at 8:43 AM

October 17, 2006

I feel GREAT!

I Feel Great! Nutrigrain bars will change your life.

Posted by sferrell at 1:48 PM