The folks behind the popular Bad Lip Reading videos have made maybe the funniest fake trailer I've ever seen. Using clips from the show (don't worry, no spoilers), they've created a trailer for a movie called Medieval Land Fun-Time World", about a renaissance fair-themed amusement park. Wish I had the kind of time on my hands these guys obviously do.
This is a 1,400-word short story, in which I relate the one and only time I was convinced I'd seen a ghost. Enjoy!Read More
My thoughts in a mini-review of the Steve Jobs biopic.Read More
Last week, it was announced that the Walt Disney Company was buying Lucasfilm, Ltd. for a little over four billion dollars. Naturally, the geekosphere lost its shit, interpreting this news as both good and bad. I don't really have a ton to say on the subject, but thought I'd weigh in (and it gives me an excuse to do a nifty illustration).
First, what could this mean for Star Wars? I personally believe the latest three movies in the series were complete failures that I can't bear to subject my eyeballs to again. They were a prime example of what happens when a creative filmmaker has way too much money and resources at his disposal and not enough motivation to innovate. As Robert Rodriguez used to say (and now is probably a victim to himself these days), once you get the "money hose" flowing, there's just no stopping it. And you stop finding creative solutions to your problems. You just keep pitching more money at it. Or in George Lucas' case, more pixels.
Disney has already announced that Episode VII will be released in 2015, and naturally this has me excited, but very, very cautious in my enthusiasm. We've been burned before by late-in-the-franchise entries (Crystal Skull, anyone?). I'm sure there is already much speculation about what the next installment will be about, who will be cast, etc. I would love to see it feature the further adventures of Han, Luke and Leia, but I also feel like recasting it could be in order. Even if Hamill and Fisher signed on, I think it's unlikely Harrison Ford would do another one, especially without George at the helm. So let's reset the cast and find out what happens after the second Death Star is destroyed.
As for new directors, I think there are plenty of guys in their prime right now. I'd love to see what Jon Favreau could do with Star Wars, especially if he went back to doing mostly practical effects. And I'm not a huge Joss Whedon fan, but I think he could pull it off. Hell, I'd even be up for James Cameron taking a shot. Aliens is still one of my all-time fave sci-fi movies.
So overall I'm not too concerned about Star Wars, at least for now. If they announce that Tom Cruise will be playing a Sith lord, I'm out.
No, what I'm more worried about is...Indiana Jones. Don't forget, that franchise comes with the Lucasfilm deal. Let's face it, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was an abomination that we really should not speak of anymore. I've learned to deal with it in my own way. That said, I wonder what Disney will do with it, if anything. Again, I'd love to see it straight-up rebooted. I don't think Harrison would come back anyway, and I think we're ready for some new adventures of a more spry archaeologist. I just hope they don't try to make it modern day and "hip", or make it into a big-budget male version of a Tomb Raider flick. So far there have been no announcements, but I feel it lurking in the shadows.
In short, I think there's more to be optimistic, if not excited, about than some fanboys may think. Let us not forget the success of The Avengers. And at least so far, they've managed to not ruin The Muppets franchise (I've not seen the new Muppet movie, but I think it's safe to assume it was good).
So until we know more, I'll just tip my cap to George Lucas and keep my fingers crossed.
Update: Shortly after writing this, someone on a podcast I listened to suggested Brad Bird as a potential director for Star Wars. This had never occurred to me, but it has my whole-hearted endorsement! I think Bird is one of the best directors we've got right now, animated or otherwise.
Last year, I tried posting something daily throughout October related to Halloween, but as usual, I ran out of steam midway through. Since this year I knew I'd be busy with the sketch card set, I had no such illusions about taking on that kind of blogging commitment.
So I decided to put my 2-hour round trip daily commute to good use and reinstated my Audible.com account and set about to picking a couple scary stories.
First up was I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. This was my first book by Matheson, but I've always been vaguely aware of his work. I knew that he'd written this one, plus The Legend of Hell House, and Duel, which was the basis for Steven Spielberg's first feature film of the same name. I wasn't sure what to start with, but they were having a members-only sale, so I grabbed I Am Legend.
All I really knew of this book was what I'd seen in the Will Smith movie. It wasn't great, but had its moments. I had, however, always heard the movie was much different from the film, which turned out to be a gigantic understatement. Honestly, the only things they have in common are the main character's name, and that he's somehow found himself seemingly the last person on earth.
In the book, Robert Neville's home is besieged every single night by groups of roaming vampires. He's barricaded (and soundproofed) it, and has become an unwilling survivalist, running his house from a generator, setting up a workshop in his bedroom and cultivating garlic in a greenhouse in the backyard.
As far as he knows, he's the only "normal" person left, apparently immune to the mysterious plague that has also taken his wife and daughter. He spends his days looting stores for supplies and food, and goes house to house throughout the neighborhood, staking any sleeping vampires he finds. Quite a life, eh?
I won't give too much away, but I really enjoyed it, particularly the way it took its time explaining how Neville got from normal working guy to vampire hunter. I thought Matheson did a great job of conveying just what a person's daily life would be like if placed in that situation. And there are several very tense moments, like when his watch stops and he's aware that he's not going to get back home before sunset, and he's welcomed by a front yard full of the undead.
Oh, and did I mention this was written in 1954? Yep. And it's set in 1976, but you'd never notice either of those things reading it now. There aren't too many things in the book to date it, other than the fact that he has a large record collection and watches movies on a projector.
So, forget Will Smith. Go read the book. It has to be one of the best vampire books ever written. Stephen King also credits Matheson as an early influence, so there you go.
Next up, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. I've written before that the film version, simply named The Haunting is one of my favorites. I'd always wanted to see what the original book was like, but wasn't sure I'd be able to get into it. Plus, I was more than a little concerned I might be disappointed by the written version of the story I love so much.
But after much deliberation I decided to get it. This one was also written in the fifties, 1959 to be exact. But unlike I Am Legend, this one feels very dated, in everything from dialogue to descriptions of the house. I don't take this as a negative, mind you, but just something to consider going into it. If you're the sort who poo-poos a black-and-white horror film from the fifties, you're likely to feel the same towards the novel.
Overall, I liked it. It had enough of the movie in it that it felt familiar, but it also had some different scenes and characters to keep it suspenseful. As in the movie, the book does not rely on "showing" you the horror of the haunted house. You rarely witness anything happening firsthand. And when you do, it's mostly in the form of sounds. Banging on doors and walls, low murmurs you can't quite make out, a woman laughing maniacally.
As a ghost story, I still think it's one of the best. However, I didn't feel myself getting as tense as I did with I Am Legend, likely because I already knew how it would turn out, for the most part.
I won't go into a lengthy synopsis, other than to say it's a classic haunted house story. This intro still gives me goosebumps every time I hear it:
So pretty much those two books took me most of the month to get through, as I only listen to books on the way home (the commute to work in the morning is reserved for podcasts).
It's called Click-Clack the Rattlebag. It's really only about ten minutes, and includes a short intro by the author, so I won't bother giving a synopsis. But it's a well-written little tale, read by Gaiman himself. I could listen to that man talk all day and not get tired of it. Nobody tells his stories like he can.