22 February 2007

Because Magic-Brushing Estelle Getty Is Just Plain Wrong...

I was about halfway through this Photoshop-phunny when that son-of-a-bee George Strombolopolus beat me to more or less the exact same joke on his CBC show tonight. 'cept I've got a fake movie poster to really bring it all back home.

This is, of course, a response to the recent news that the fourth "Rambo" film--due to shoot soon, really--will be titled, simply, "John Rambo". Calling the sixth Rocky installment "Rocky Balboa" presumably helped its box office appeal ("gee, Ethel, what's this movie about?"), so I guess Stallone will do just about anything to secure another sure-fire hit. Good luck, Sly.

Insert your own "Cosmo Carboni" joke here...

20 February 2007

Why You Should Be Watching Craig Ferguson

I can't say that I'd watched "The Late Late Show" hosted by former "The Drew Carey Show" costar Craig Ferguson, with any degree of regularity or committment. I caught his debut week when he took over from that other Craig--Kilborn--and thought he was a witty, amiable fellow, but to be honest, by the time 12:30 am rolls around, I've already watched Jon Stewart and David Letterman and after 90 minutes of celeb and shill I'm all talked out thankyouverymuch.

Last night, after Letterman, I decided to keep Ferguson's show on while flipping through the new Vanity Fair. As expected, the late night pundits were having a field day with Britney Spears's latest desperate stab for attention--we all know it as the head-shaving incident blah blah blah--and I didn't pay much attention to what I expected would be the standard jibes albeit delivered with a delightful Scottish burr.

But Ferguson did something unexpected--I would say even noble--that made for one of the more compelling bits of television I can recall: he announced that he wouldn't succumb to the temptation for cheap shots leveled at a young person whom he felt had a very obvious problem and should be given the support system and professional help that anyone else in such circumstances would and should deserve--celebrity or not.

The audience chuckled nervously--were we being set up for a punch line? Not at all--Ferguson then confessed his own problem with the bottle, having admitted to being an alcoholic at 29 and struggling daily for the 15 years he'd kicked the habit.

“For me, comedy should have a certain amount of joy in it,” he began. “It should be about attacking the powerful — the politicians, the Trumps, the blowhards. We shouldn’t be attacking the vulnerable. I think my aim's been off about this.” With startling honesty, the actor and author admitted to having seriously considered suicide in 1992. "I didn't have a drinking problem...I had a thinking problem."

I'm sure some people will dismiss Ferguson's mission statement as grandstanding--a maudlin "Candle In The Wind" opportunity misfired at a tiresome, B-list skank hot on the heels of the nation's rather curious knee-jerk mourning for the late C-lister Anna-Nicole Smith. And in the past, he's enjoyed some applause and laughter at Ms. Spears' expense. But why do we collectively always suspect those who take the "high" road? Where once Hollywood was an enviable dream land, we now regard celebrities as such utterly disposable commodities--and let's face it, as an entertainment entity, there's plenty about Ms. Spears that's disposable--that we refuse to see them as human. But does a million dollar record/film/book deal instantly turn you into one of Jack Finney's pod people? We revel in their failures and dirty laundry, standing on the soapbox to finger wag and chastise them for their deserved folly, as if we would do so much better with such opportunity and riches.

But that was Ferguson's point: like Elvis, Janis, the recent Anna-Nicole and hell, even the dead-half of Milli Vanilli, Britney has surrounded herself with sycophants and cronies that are arguably more toxic for her than what's in her frequently-refilled glass. Sure, at 25, she's old enough to know better, but on the all-too-likely chance that she is as hopelessly insulated and stupid as she appears to be (and we would like her to be, even if, like Jayne Mansfield, she turned out to be Mensa material), then someone's gotta intervene--after all, she's got a kid and without mom, it's K-Fed or the orphage (although we can take comfort that Frances Bean appears to have turned out all right). And Ferguson advises that these "someone"s are not hard to find: "They're near the beginning of the phone book", he hints.

You can watch the entire monologue here, courtesy of YouTube. Regrettably, the entertainment press hasn't really picked up on this, but he has won a fan...I, for one, will make it a habit to tune in a little more often.

18 February 2007

Remote Viewing

Robert Adler, one-time Zenith employee and the creator of the remote control, died this week, and gawd bless him, his was a life that truly left an impact. Just take a look at the top of my coffee table in my home video/rumpus room. Couldn't he have stuck around a bit longer to figure out a way to consolidate all this nonsense into one?

15 February 2007

Ryan Larkin: 1943-2007

One of the animation medium's bonafide geniuses and iconoclasts passed away on Valentine's Day at the age of 63. Ryan Larkin, forever immortalized in Chris Landreth's Oscar winning animated short "Ryan" (2004), was on the verge of a major comeback after decades of self-imposed exile and obscurity spent begging on the streets of Montreal and overcoming addiction to drugs and alcohol. He'd recently completed a series of bumpers for MTV Canada (admitting that he'd kicked some "bad habits" to concentrate on his career) and was in development with manager/producing partner Laurie Gordon on a feature, "Spare Change", based upon his own experiences (you can visit the production's website here). Truly a national treasure and a great loss.

14 February 2007

"Tell Me Where The Other Four Quad-Lasers Are Hidden!"

I know it must be rather old news by now to keep making fun of the whole Boston "terrorist" hysteria over Cartoon Network's "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" promotion, but this is just too much fun: someone claiming to be the current incarnation of "National Lampoon" has posted this parody of "24" to Youtube, in which Jack Bauer goes all medieval on Master Shake, Meatwad, and Frylock. And yes, the Mooninites make an appearance. Check it out here.

09 February 2007

05 February 2007

Toronto To Host WHC 2007

Some exciting news on the horror front: Toronto will host the annual World Horror Convention for the first time this coming March. Now this is more literary-based event than the Rue Morgue fest held each August, so leave your Kane Hodder garage kits at home if you plan to attend. Rather, here's the perfect excuse to brush up on those Joe R. Lansdale, Ramsey Campbell, Brian Lumley, F. Paul Wilson, and Nancy Kilpatrick novels you should be reading at a time when the horror fiction section of most bookstores is smaller than that of the "For Dummies" series.

If that's not reason enough to attend, they've just announced that artist and writer extraordinaire Gahan Wilson will also be in attendance! Prelimary details are posted here, with more to come. Thrillmeister Thomas Harris is also to be awarded a special Lifetime Achievement honour, but there's no confirmation he'll attend as of yet.

(and on that subject, I do intend to catch the much-jeered "Hannibal Rising" this weekend. I admit, the book was unnecessary and throwaway and robbed the character of much of his mystique, but it was still superb storytelling as only Harris can spin, and I finished it in only three nights. Film review to come...)

01 February 2007

They Should've Used the Quad-Glacier Gun...

"The Night That Panicked America"--it couldn't happen again, right? After all, that was then...and we're soooo much more sophisticated today than when Mr. Welles and his Mercury Theatre Co. unwittingly scared the bejeezus out of the backwoods hicks who thought every water tower was a Martian war machine...


The terror alert in parts of the U.S. was raised yesterday to...lime green? purple? when to promote its completely bonkers animated series "Aqua Teen Hunger Force", the Cartoon Network launched an unannounced guerilla marketing blitz in which several magnetic "lightboxes" depicting the villainous "Mooninites" flipping us the bird were placed around the Boston area (around town, under bridges, and outside Fenway Park). The 38 identical signs were quite tiny (roughly a foot by a foot-an-a-half) but when the first was noticed by a city worker affixed to a highway ramp, the interstate was shut down and the alleged "bomb" blasted with a water cannon. Within hours, more of the devices were reported from a panicked public, spreading fear of terrorism, until someone on the police force recognized the characters as Ignignokt and Err.

Turner Broadcasting, who own the Cartoon Network, issued a public apology (do you think Ted watches the show? I'll bet he gets a kick out of that Carl). Peter Berdovsky and Sean Stevens, two graphic artists who worked for Inference Inc., the ad firm hired by Turner Broadcasting, became the patsies in all this and were arrested on the charges of installing hoax devices to cause panic and disorderly conduct, for which they could face five years in prison. Good news that they've made bail, and have already hosted an irreverent press conference in which they would only take questions about their hair styles...

As well, the Jan. 31 Adult Swim broadcast began with an apologetic "bump", and you can read it on their website.

Meanwhile, Boston city officials are super-pissed and want the network to reimburse them for the half-million it cost to deploy the state, federal, and local law enforcement. On top of that, Boston mayor Thomas Menino has gone apesh*t and had demanded that the FCC to yank Turner's broadcasting license.

Amazingly, the signs were installed more than two weeks ago, and in several other cities including New York, Seattle, Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and LA, where so far, there hasn't been any panic.

Watch CNN's "Breaking News" coverage here and have a good laugh.

Flickr photo gallery here.

And remember, the movie comes out March 23 unless Menino calls for its destruction.

And this image is priceless and totally made my day. To quote the great philosopher Wes Bentley: "sometimes there's just so much beauty in the world I can't take it!"