shoebox_dw: (peanuts hope)
I've been waiting until the flist reactions came in because I was so afraid, given how massive a reboot really was needed, of all the things they might try to 'modernise' TOS. A mad villain with a perpetual deformed grin bent on undermining the Federation was the least of it.

But according to the reviews thus far, it's OK. They did make one huge change, of course, but apparently only to create an alternate timeline. Somewhere, somehow, there still exists an entire planet of people wearing zoot suits led by Vic Tayback. The reason I will probably end up paying good money to see this thing in-theatre is that the creators, judging by their film, seem to believe that too.

That they comprise most of the writing team from Transformers: The Movie surely doesn't hurt. As per that flick, nobody is under the impression that they're recreating the Big Bang - and with Trek, boy the temptation must've been there. Imagine, being handed the keys to one of the great pop-culture franchises - entities -  of the 20th-century and being told have at it. Being known as the people who saved Star Trek. Even I'm sitting here a little awed by the idea, and I have seen the ep where they turned Quark into a woman.

And, y'know, I think they just might have saved it for reals. Because from all reports, as per Transformers, they don't reboot so much as pay loving homage to what worked (like, obviously, Spock) and fix some of the stuff that didn't (like, obviously, the stupid Captain's Dog) and just generally get things back on track. Which is so cool. Because so much of TOS did work, and so much was still to be explored when it ended, and NextGen basically threw it all out in favour of All Hail the Noble Federation Rah Rah Rah.
Now, I loved NextGen for what it was, which at its best was a damn good action-adventure series, and I loved Patrick Stewart especially for forcing past Roddenberry's perfection of the average and making Picard believably noble. Everybody else...well, they hung out on a starship reminiscent of a Comfort Inn lobby for seven years and nobody so much as suggested a repaint. Something always a little off to me about a Trek where the main cast works best as a backdrop/facilitators for the really interesting stuff.

DS9 fixed most of that, and brilliantly in spots, but they had a much different story to tell. Voyager just sputtered along on reputation and technobabble, and let it lie where it gently collapsed, I suppose.

I cringe a little, whenever I hear anybody going on about Trek's 'vision', and how sacred it is. Because really, very little about TOS was ever coherent in the way Babylon Five or Battlestar Galactica are. Gene Roddenberry had some decent ideas about where humankind was and where we needed to be going, but he also had a space cowboy riding the final frontier with a pretty girl at his side and his fists at the ready. The scripts were intelligent, erudite even, but the execution was sometimes unbearably campy. (Reading the James Blish novelisations - based off first-drafts - well before seeing the eps may give me a sensitivity to that particular phenomenon. Some of the most outre eps were once the most brilliant.)

But the incoherence is precisely why TOS not only worked but became iconic. It had no clear sense of what to be About, so it just went ahead and was about everything - like a certain race of two-legged mammals we all know far too well. Life, the Universe, whatever was on tap that week, Original Trek met it with cockeyed heroism and humour and willingness to throw itself into the philosophical breach. The sheer unbridled humanity of it all has probably never been matched in any dramatic series since.
It was, in short, a celebration of just how screwed up we actually are. The hope lay not in our perfectibility, but in our willingness to try. And at the centre of it all stood a tall, elegant, coolly unimpressed figure able to save us from ourselves whenever needed. Including when we needed to reassure ourselves that we really do matter, which is of course pretty much perpetually. Look! Can't even figure out emotions, the poor sod! Boy, good thing for the galaxy we're out here, huh? Yippy-kay-yay!

OK, yes, I'm one of those annoying Trekkers who can never quite shut up. Short version: There's this new movie. No dog. Lots of Spock. I grok.
shoebox_dw: (hp snape get off me)
Topless Robot recently did a '10 Most Ridiculous Things About the Original GI Joe Movie' list, and lo, I was gleeful. Because I loved the original GI Joe series with all my little mindless-pop-culture-consuming heart, and that damn Cobra-La trifled with that heart like Aztecs looking for fun on Saturday night.

And then I read the opening paragraph, about the live-action movie remake. I had not known there was to be a live-action remake, possibly because my brain shut down and started going 'nuh-uh! nuh-uh-uh!' whenever I tried to take it in. I mean, we can all agree there are inherent issues in recreating the Joeverse in living colour, yes? For one thing, just try casting Cobra Commander. "Er...yes, you do wear a totally face-concealing mask for the entire picture. But it's shiny!"

Apparently, though, there are depths to which my inner child's heart can still sink:

"In just a few weeks, the majority of us will be exiting theaters on the opening night of the live-action G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra, either laughing till we puke or pummeling each other out of sheer, unadulterated rage. Between Schumacher-esque Joe body armor, Storm Shadow's sneakers and Duke's childhood buddy Cobra Commander, we all know we're in for something painful--but whether it's Troll 2 painful (hilariously bad!) or Love Guru painful (assisted suicide) remains to be seen."

Sneakers? SNEAKERS?

...'scuse me, I'll be over in this corner weeping for a little bit...

shoebox_dw: (ratatouille remy caught)
..So I rustled up a few 'How to Attract More Traffic to Your Blog' articles, and interestingly enough, their advice is the same: Start by taking an active interest in others' blogs, reaching out to those with similar interests, reading their posts and commenting.

Well. Whaddaya know about that.

[blushes slightly]


In other news, och, am I gonna be grateful when this American election mania dies down. It's starting to affect even the funnest, most lightweight 'other blogs' I visit - even the Comics Curmudgeon came down with a bad case the other day, and it still hasn't fully recovered. has been all 'Here're the latest outlandishly stupid rumours an hysterically suspicious populace are taking as gospel' for weeks now. It gets dispiriting.

(If I could persuade myself that the one troll on the CC was putting on an elaborate, Dr. Strangelove-style show, it would make me feel quite a lot better. Alas, my faith is at al all-time low. These people really do hate each other, don't they?)

Thank goodness for blogs emanating from Australia, is all I can say. Specifically, that of LJ-friend lizbee, dedicated Tudors-watcher.

Read more... )
shoebox_dw: (pbs truism)

So I'm browsing the threads over at the Comics Curmudgeon the other day, and ran across a poster with the handle 'Wally Ballou'. This provoked a mild little ripple of mirth from a few others...along with comments on how unexpected it was that people were getting the reference, as they'd've thought it 'too old' for the audience.

Erm. Given what I've been able to gather about the average age of the 'Mudgeons, also further observations elsewhere...this gave me reason for a rather lengthy pause. Apparently I'm not just the only dedicated Bob & Ray fan online, I may be the only Bob & Ray fan anywhere under 45.

Realising you're this unique on the World Wide Web is, as you can imagine, a deeply bemusing experience. Still, it's rather a pleasantly knowing one, as compared to...perhaps that one person on TVTropes who keeps adding Jem & the Holograms examples. I'm sorry, love, but there it is. On this side, brilliant, groundbreaking comedy; on the other, the '80's version of Hannah Montana.

...About that. Not Hannah, so much as High School Musical. Owing to media saturation around the third edition I have finally figured out what all the hype is about, and I gotta tell you, gang, no offense, but as far as I can tell the reason I hadn't picked up on it before was because there's nothing there to pick up. Something like cotton candy on a hot day at the Ex - one swipe, a shrug, and it's on to the next bright shiny distraction.

Well, maybe not that cheap. I mean, the part where friend[info]shing_ posts hot pictures of shiny wet topless Zac, that I get OK. Not my taste, but I can sincerely appreciate the effort. It's just that...hell, Jem had the computer gimmick, y'know? And Hannah M. has at least the occasional amusingly surreal Dolly Parton cameo. Maybe the ep I watched was the anomaly, but for one glorious moment Dolly was there. Vicki Lawrence, too. And the 'Achy Breaky Heart' guy.

HSM, on the other hand, is...just...there's no there there at all, except inasmuch as its leads are pretty. Yes, historically this has been justification for quite a lot of pop-culture, but this...this is like a running compilation of all the moments that the teen dream media machine itself considers cliche. Realising that the current craze sweeping the post-millennial nation is based around an episode plot used by every single 80's sitcom I ever watched (and a healthy few of the 70's ones, too) is the second most deeply bemusing thing I have encountered this week.

(Especially the 'Sharpay' business. I'm a little slow, so it just hit me: A Shar-pei is a dog breed. A notoriously goofy-looking dog breed. Yeah, I get the joke, but the point is, it's a really stupid joke. I can just about see proud [if slightly dense] new parents gazing down at their little red wrinkly bundle of joy and saying "Awww, doesn't widdle snookums wook just wike a widdle shar-pei doggers!" But a screenwriter naming their blond bombshell rich-bitch nemesis? Not so much.)


Aug. 23rd, 2008 09:20 pm
shoebox_dw: (lucy)
So I'm walking briskly through the usual office corridors on my way to drop off samples - I always walk briskly, because I am hopeful that if I move fast enough my body language will communicate 'successful career woman' instead of 'woman who forgot to make the hair appointment this week'.

Anyhoo, so the walk is brisk and relatively automatic...hello sample rooms, hi random lunch remnants glued to the kitchen microwave, howdy lingerie buyer's office with the nursing-bra-shaped flyer on the door...until I get to the receiving area, which is a hallway that connects the loading docks to the mailroom, and realise I can't go any further as the way is being blocked by several paramedics (!) plus a bunch of concerned and excited-looking passers-by, none of whom I have ever seen in my life. And fresh off the set of Total Non-Sequitur Theatre, here is also an elderly guy in a Hawaiian shirt and straw boater.

Actually, as you may have guessed by now - took me about five seconds to stride briskly the hell out of there and find out - all of these people were on-set for some ruddy Canadian TV show or another, I've long since shirked the duty of keeping track of which is which. It's the one that features Jimmy Buffett wannabes solving crimes next to random special-order appliances, is the best I can tell you. You might wanna keep an eye on the listings.

What gets me about this entire sequence of events enough to record it isn't so much the novelty - those fellow Torontonians reading this are already laughing, shaking their heads and sharing their 'stumbled on-set' stories, possibly their collections. You cannot stride anywhere in Hollywood North without somebody's recording the local colour for posterity. Which, I might add, does not exactly do wonders for preserving the Magic of Filmmaking. I understand that 99.99% of anything is grunt work, and TV is no exception; but there is still something deeply bemusing about watching people make elaborate efforts to document completely mundane walls, alleys, gas stations, that kind of thing.

There are far too many cables and trailers and featureless side streets and not enough Brad Pitt in the Canadian filmmaking mileu, is what I am delicately trying to hint here. Not that any self-respecting Torontonian would ever admit this. Next time we're at a party, remind me to tell you about the time a bunch of apparently frightened squawking kids ricocheted off Shoemom and I - thus, I fondly envision, earning us immortality as Startled Adults Nos. 3 & 4 in That One Kid's Show (Probably Based Off a Popular Scholastic Book Series) Where They Panic Outside the Museum a Lot.

Even under these circs, however, I reserve the right to be genuinely tickled over the cop show filming in our receiving area. I could not for the life of me figure out how it had been selected for the honour. I envision Canadian production execs standing around at cocktail parties, going "Damn, Harvey, if I could only get the right atmosphere for the big murder scene! I want something different, something...shiny. Yeah, reflective surfaces, that's the way to go! The cold, cold Big City reflected in the paramedic's eyes..."

And Harvey goes "Look, Don, I still got the number of that guy who lent us the blanket for the latest Native doc, lemme make some calls."
shoebox_dw: (little mermaid)
Photo follies a deux (probably trois or even quatre, by now): I've just got done updating my Photobucket gallery with all my pretty rose pics. It's basically a photographic record of the daydream I walk around in roughly from mid-June to mid July, and I think it turned out rather well all things considered. A lot of the photos were taken on the grounds of the Niagara School of Horticulture (whose lush walking gardens generally I highly recommend) and the butterfly set all come from the Conservatory in those same grounds.


And now, back to our feature presentation...

"When I find myself in a position like this, I ask myself, what would General Motors do? And then I do the opposite!"
--Johnny Case (Cary Grant), Holiday

Individuality - the real thing, the ability to define yourself against the mass of men, rather than with them - is a notoriously flimsy, quixotic concept; like all supremely valuable things, difficult to realise and even harder to hang on to.

This is likely why
Hollywood, aka the place where subtlety goes to die, generally feels the need to swath it round in sunflowers and Doc Martens and private journals and Johnny Depp performances. It's especially noticeable in romantic comedies, which delight in pitting the 'free-spirited' heroine (somehow, it's always the heroine) against the stuffy totalitarian Establishment and watching the sparks fly. Theoretically. The number of heroines in this genre that give audiences cause to wonder if the Establishment might not have a point illustrates another difficulty with the premise.

But even in Hollywood there must be the shining exception; and thus we come round to my beloved Holiday, the least-known of the Katharine Hepburn-Cary Grant-George Cukor collaborations and paradoxically one of - if not the - finest. And I say this as a devoted fan also of The Philadelphia Story and Bringing Up Baby. 

Read more... )
shoebox_dw: (little mermaid)
The Agatha Christie post(s) are still coming. In the meanwhile, though, the current For Better or For Worse storyline - with its shameless insistence that 'always hoping' a married man will eventually hook up with your daughter is OK, because Fate said so - is making me so mad I want to spit. Which is in turn severely hindering my ability to work out the fine points of how to discuss Christie novels without giving away endings wholesale.

So I thought I'd take a break for now and discuss something else of vital importance to the nation: my favourite movies.

My attitude toward the cinema - such a lovely, expressive term, isn't it? - anyway, the relationship is a curious one, at least for your average online blogger. I have no qualifications in re: the discussion of film as an art form, nor a cultural influence. I don't even watch that many, is what I'm saying here. These days I go into the cinematic experience mostly for whatever good time I can't get in books - the big, the beautiful, the lavish visual spectacle...sometimes just the indescribably cool. Hence, my real, sincere appreciation of Transformers: The Movie.

That said, I have a rather more complicated and intimate rapport with certain classic films from the bygone age of - well, elegance, is the first word that comes to mind. Movies made when the pervasive pop-culture assumption was still that audiences wanted to have their intelligence flattered and their literacy rewarded. In the best of American cinema from roughly 1930 through 1950, there is a fluid rhythm to the dialogue that demands responsive thought, an attention to the details that compels not only attention but respect. At least, they get that respect from me.

Thusly we come to the three particular celluloid bits of my heart: Billy Wilder's noir classic Double Indemnity, the unsung Cary Grant-Katherine Hepburn collaboration Holiday, and Gene Kelly's masterpiece, Singin' in the Rain.


To begin with, Double Indemnity. I've noticed, in the course of what serious movie-watching I have done, that there exists a curious sort of perfection in the film mileu that results from being able to manipulate reality so closely. The characters are so perfectly cast, the story so engrossing, the dialogue so sharp and pointed that the movie chimes exactly with the viewer's conception of what should be happening, regardless of how outlandish any of the above actually is.

Read more... )
shoebox_dw: (gf enlightened)
So, moving along now. Not that the ongoing FBoFW plotline doesn't continue to bug big-time, because it does (hell, at this point even LJ's fellow 50's relicts are likely all "Whoa, lady, let them sow a few wild oats, eh?").

However. One of the reasons that I started this blog in the first place was to avoid becoming one of those Netizens who believe their life now has Meaning  because they've found a forum to vent about comic strips. (Which does not, I feel compelled to add, include the majority of the posters at Comics Curmudgeon or [ profile] binky_betsy, whose wide and entertaining knowledge of the world is actually what makes their snark readable.) 

Thus we progress with all decent speed from the Settleocalypse to...the Cableocalypse.

See, Shoemom and I have recently concluded a review of the family budget wherein it emerged that we spend upwards of $70/month to watch for all practical purposes, four cable channels: Discovery, Food Network, HGTV and TreehouseTV. Or maybe five, if you count the Turner Classic Movie channel, which you pretty much have to, on account of every so often they snap and show things like They Died With Their Boots On - a biopic of Gen. George Armstrong Custer starring Errol Flynn. Which proves to be about as good an idea as a biopic of Barack Obama starring Keanu Reeves.
I mean, there's historical revisionism, and then there's recasting the arrogant loser of Little Big Horn as a selfless - crusading! - hero in a 40's biopic. The movie's main case for heroism appears to be that he's attracted the love of a woman (Olivia de Haviland, natch) who wears really elaborate costumes.

Barring such incidental pleasures, the more we discussed the matter the more difficult it became to ignore the value-for-money issues surrounding the likes of Smash Lab and Fifi & the Flowertots, to say nothing of Paula Deen.

Read more... )
shoebox_dw: (toy story modern art)
Overheard at a crosswalk the other day, while waiting with a couple other women: "What's Iron Man about, anyway?" "I dunno...but it sounds sooooo cool!"

I submit to you, Gentle Readership, that the above is the classic definition of the perfect summer blockbuster.

This may be a case of preaching to the converted, since the film took in $100mil over this past weekend and I've only just downloaded the trailers, but on the off chance you're still pondering...yeah, this one'll live up to the hype. They got it right - and possibly only in the world of comic book movies is there so vast a gap between the simple statement and the execution thereof.

It helps that the story of Tony Stark is to begin with one of the most fun, and likely not coincidentally least angsty, sagas in the Marvel pantheon. The story is simple: billionaire playboy industrialist has an epiphany after an assault that leaves him with a dicky heart, stops making weapons and instead designs a reallyreally cool suit of armour that allows him to fly and shoot repulsor blasts and oh yeah, fight crime as....dun-dun-DUUUUUUNNNN...Iron Man! Yay!

Short version: It's Batman with less brooding and more...well, more honkin' cool red-and-gold flying armour, is basically what's going on here. Did I mention the repulsor blasts?

Seriously, once I saw the armour I knew everything was going to be OK. Actually, I had a strong suspicion long before that, when I first heard that Robert Downey Jr had been signed on as the lead. Want a handle on the movie, even shorter version? That would be it. Downey openly admits he begged for this role.
Besides, as a co-worker who's squarely in the favoured demographic pointed out to me this morning after seeing it last night, your Eric Banas and 'Jean-Luc Picards' are all very well, but to make a real movie, you need real actors. (Of course, she then spent the afternoon googling pictures of that same R. Downey, so make of that what you will.)

Everything's in place for a supremely rewarding comic book experience - and don't laugh at that until you've tried it. There's only a rare few media moguls out there who still understand that superheroes are one of mankind's most fundamental ways of rewarding ourselves.
shoebox_dw: (gf amazing talents) article definitely coming tomorrow. In the meantime....

...Well, actually I'm not entirely sure why I'm posting this little fanfic scene I wrote a few years ago. I was browsing among the friendslists, and everybody was chattering happily about their fandoms and their fics and I don't know what all, and I suppose I felt a wee bit left out.

Besides (she said, speaking sternly to her inner twelve-year-old) I'm thinking of charging bravely back into the fiction arena generally, and have just completed a review of all my older projects as the traditional first step. It's not going to rock anyone's world, this little piece, but does provide a decent idea of my creative voice.

What it is, is a takeoff on a scene in That Thing You Do!, Tom Hanks' slight-but-charming 1996 film about a buncha guys from small-town PA who form a band, record a hit song and become one-hit Wonders, all in the summer of 1964. Charming, mainly, because of Tom Everett Scott, who played Guy Patterson, the drummer who steps in when founding member Chad breaks an arm jumping parking meters ("Uh, guys? Chad fell down...")
It's Guy's dawning realisation of his own good sense - and sense of humour - that launches the adventure, sustains it as far as it can go, and ultimately becomes the only thing to survive the wreck. (Also, because this is Hollywood, it earns him Liv Tyler, fresh from the arms of temperamental lead singer Jimmy.)

It's among my favourites not only because it's well-made and funny but because of  the aforementioned  Scott, the kid whose uncanny resemblance to a young Hanks provided a lot of the buzz around the film at the time. Put simply, in this film he's pretty much my ideal, uh, guy, both outside and in. In fact, his resemblance to the heroes of my own imagined tales is such that it took the first hour of my first viewing to shake the vague feeling that we were old friends.

So...this scene. There's a point in the movie at which the newly-hot Wonders are whisked aboard a plane to LA by their manager, Mr. White (Hanks) who informs them enroute that they'll be starring in a 'major motion picture' and then appearing on the 'Hollywood Showcase', a Sullivan stand-in. After which he sends Lenny (Steve Zahn, which tells you all you need to know) and 'the bass player' (a sweetly dopey Ethan Embry) off to visit the cockpit or something, and announces "Got any more questions, keep 'em to yourselves, I'm tired and I want to sleep."

My imagination picked things up from there. As it happened, it got a little ambitious re: time and space and how much of either would actualy be available on a 747...but what the heck. It's cute, and I think it's kinda funny, and if you like, it's below the cut.

shoebox_dw: (ratatouille remy pensive)
So this was going to be a long cranky feet-kicking rant against the Universe at Large, and specifically its sheer unfairness in forcing me to have to live through February again, when you would about figure that thirty-odd years of this would be enough to satisfy any cosmic force's need to ensure I'm aware of my tiny little drab insignificant place in the Wider Splendor, thanks much and all that anyway.

However. Over the weekend [profile] solo_1 actually did read my Bob & Ray opus, and made thotful comments on same to boot. Also, several other friends and relatives took time out of their busy schedules to pat me on the head and murmur comforting phrases I don't actually half deserve...including such gems as "Hey, I start at the Second Cup next week - Discount? Sure."

The capper was this year's choice of Book I Resentfully Yank Off the Shelf for the Thousandth Time Because There's Nothing Better to Read Around Here: Helen [Keller] and Teacher, the definitive biography of the deaf-blind author, lecturer and world-traveller; which is by default also contains an equally fascinating and absorbing parade of American educational, literary and political 'royalty' at the turn of the century.
Confronted with Joseph Lash's serious yet sensitive and sympathetic prose, which incidentally I was not reading in Braille, I was finally forced to toss up my hands and concede that maybe a couple extra days spent waiting for my greatness to be noticed might not be such a harsh deal after all.

('Specially after I found this cool new blog layout that among its other beauties contains an RSS subscription widget. Check it out under 'feed me' on the front page!)
shoebox_dw: (ratatouille remy caught)
I've never been particularly into the Shrek franchise. This is kind of unusual for me in re: clever, hip media; I enjoy a good bandwagon jump as much as the next Net nerd, and have the 25 MST3K videos to prove it. Plus, Eddie Murphy, who as Mushu in Mulan is directly responsible for #2 on my all-time Sidekicks So Good I Bought the Movie list (after Robin Williams in Aladdin) and my sister, who loves the ogre movies, is forever telling me it's the exact same character, like, really, she swears.

Somehow, though, I've been immune to Murphy's equine charms, and everything else about the animation breakthrough of the millennium. Have always felt vaguely perturbed about that...until last night, when we foregathered around the Ratatouille DVD. Ten - no, five - hell, thirty freaking seconds into that movie, and I was not only vindicated in full but sailing along in full revelatory mode.

Read more... )
shoebox_dw: (garfield well-informed)
I've clearly been hanging around the sports sites too long. Not only am I thinking about trivia, it's starting to arrange itself in bulleted lists:

--Football watch: 9-1, baby. The Packers cemented themselves as the Official Feel-Good Story of the 07-08 NFL season by dispatching the Carolina Panthers handily, if not exactly tidily, 31-17. By the time they hit Dallas in two weeks the sheer plucky adorableness buildup is going to blow the Cowboys off the field.
In my pleasantest fantasies, the victory over Terrell 'C'mon, He Hasn't Danced on the Star in Almost Two Seasons Now!' Owens et al. leads to Brett Favre sweeping into the Super Bowl on a white charger and striking a victory for truth, sportsmanship and general niceness everywhere. Or if that doesn't work, I'll accept a chop block to Randy-freakin-Moss' knees, you capice?

shoebox_dw: (toy story modern art)
So I am about the last person on the Net, with the possible exception of, to weigh in on Transformers: The Movie.

This is doubly odd because I was a massive fan of the original cartoon. I've written elsewhere in this journal of my receptiveness to sweet-hearted yet simplistic animated media, and after-school TV in the 80's was its undisputed mecca. My typical weekday afternoon ran something like this:

shoebox_dw: (kermit muppet show)
If last Sunday night proved anything, it's that there really is only one true Oscar host.

Only one comedian with just the right combination of sharp observation and subtle expression, so outrageous yet so beloved for it, so aware of the magnitude of the task yet so utterly unintimidated by it...

...Johnny Carson.

Who, yeah, is still dead. But they showed this highlight clip...and man, you just gotta wonder why they'd shoot themselves in the foot like that. "This is Day 164 of the Oscar telecast," Carson was shown deadpanning - in 1979. "We just want you to know that we have not forgotten...President Carter is doing everything he can..."

The only one.

Which is not to say that Chris Rock didn't shake things up a bit.Read more... )


shoebox_dw: (Default)

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