The Alabaster Sock

We Will Fight the Threat with Fighting

Archive for November, 2009

Posted by Matt on November 30, 2009

It’s a busy time for busy people like me.

Dumb idiocy: I have recently learned that Cicero’s name should be pronounced ‘Kickero’. I love that pronunciation so much that I have stolen it and will use it elsewhere.

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The Hell

Posted by Matt on November 26, 2009

And then this:

But then I go to the source and:

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Posted by Matt on November 24, 2009

Another big, revealing interview with Shigeru Miyamoto, who always seems to have something weird or funny to say. I’m going to be live quoting as I read it.

“But in the end, while I knew that I was lying to children, I decided: “Look, this way it’s easy to understand so we’re going to make a creature like this!””

Firstly, if you play Mario and just can’t manage to finish a level, you feel like crying, don’t you?
Absolutely! You feel like crying! (laughs)

I thought: “Are you making fun of me!?” (laughs) When we had the hint block appearing from the beginning, I just felt like: “I don’t need this!”
If it appears right from the start, you feel: “This has got nothing to do with me!”
Right. But if you lose the turn three times and it appears…
Then you feel really annoyed?
(abruptly) …”Leave me alone!”

“This time around there were several directors on the project and inevitably they weren’t all on the same wavelength in terms of their level of understanding of the concept of Mario. That made it necessary for me to go right into the development area and say: “Look, this is how things work in Mario games!” Of course when I say that, it’s not objective, it’s my own take on things.””

“For instance, sometimes there’ll be a single block floating in mid-air, right? When I first made that, I thought it was totally outrageous.”

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Posted by Matt on November 23, 2009

Just finished reading The Road. Try to determine my demeanor after that!

No, I’m fine. Sometime next year I might get cocky and read Blood Meridian.

Also on the table: another major revision for one of my projects. This is in order to solve the following problems I have with it:
(1) Logical problems that have persisted (consisting mainly of ‘Why does this keep happening?’)
(2) Give me the opportunity to improve on characters who don’t seem to do much
(3) Make stories and set-up for stories easier and more interesting
(4) Remove most if not all introduction/background stories, or just move them to the background where they won’t bore people to their face

The one thing I want to do with it is essentially be a bunch of single, separate stories with a definite ending; essentially, covering a life (or lives). That presents some interesting challenges, because I’m trying to make something episodic but still coherent, without it feeling like ‘And now some random shit happens’. Although, to a degree, isn’t that what life is?

(Side note: I notice that I love surrealism/strange things, and I try my best to put in strange things. However, I think my strange things are not strange enough, or disturbing enough. I almost feel like all I’m doing is distilling Grant Morrison to Saturday morning levels. I hope I can fix that.)

I just need uniformity and cohesion. When things appear, when I introduce concepts, I need to make sure they matter, whether that is being significance to plot or theme, or just being entertaining. I also need to make sure there are no useless characters. I’ve cut back on stuff before, so it shouldn’t be that hard for me to do some revising.

First step: change to the setting, and some confirmation on major-minor details. How does this help the problems I listed above? Not one clue.

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I am an idiot

Posted by Matt on November 18, 2009

Oh boy, I’m going to have write things about the past decade, aren’t I? The decade where I was reasonably intelligent for only half of it, and even that’s debatable.
I could write about the Hamsterdance Song, I guess.

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I respond to Entertainment News

Posted by Matt on November 17, 2009

The stars of Trailer Park Boys have got a new comedy next year.

Some background: my friends are all big fans of TPB, owning all the DVD sets. I’ve seen plenty of episodes, and the show is quite good. So, on the onset, seeing the guys behind that show working on something else is good.

What really interests me is that they namedrop League of Gentlemen, which is not something to take lightly. I personally haven’t seen it, but I know enough from reading about to understand the kind of implications that brings. Of course, the guys could just be referring to the fact that, like LoG, the show is a sketch comedy with a narrative, which is also what Monty Python can fall under in an abstract way. But that doesn’t mean that they haven’t taken inspiration from the show’s brand of ‘humor’, which is basically just being as horrifying as possible. The fact that the show features characters on hallucinogens and a cult seems to go in that direction, as well.

I’m looking forward to it. I want to see more shows inspired by BBC surrealist comedy on TV.

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From the Grave

Posted by Matt on November 14, 2009

Here’s an interesting idea. Note, that I couldn’t care less about Joss Whedon; even so, the concept presented is intriguing.

You know, I’ve been involved with the Canadian TV fooferah (seriously, go read this place for all the insight on that) in both an indirect and direct way now. First, it was because, as an aspiring writer, I like to know that I have avenues open in different fields where I can apply my skills (TV scripting would probably be one of the easier jobs I could get into, all things considered, all though that’s not exactly reassuring if actual TV writers are to be believed); and now I have had it affect people related to me. I know from my browsing that there are people fighting for opportunities for people like me, and I really appreciate that. But it seems like a losing battle.

No matter how much money can be pumped into ‘local TV funds’, the CRTC has unfortunately created a few unstable monsters who really couldn’t give a rat’s ass about local TV, whether that is the barely-funded news for small communities or shows made by Canadians in Canada. Canwest and CTVglobe have been allowed to spend the last few years buying up nearly every piece of media real estate in the country; and now that they are in critical condition, they can have whatever they want, because they are essentially holding all those smaller TV stations they’ve inadvertently bought hostage. Any attempt to force them to pay their dues to society will likely lead them to slowly and painfully bleed small community television. If either of them were to go out completely (and especially in Canwest’s case, that’s a hell of a lot more of a possibility now), that’s a whole slew of stations blacked out instantaneously. And this situation is what allows them to try to pull shit like this.

I’m sure those who are in the industry know more about what can be done than I do, but as I see it, we have a few options to help improve things. One, the CRTC could try to encourage more companies to come in and attempt to stifle the country’s media monopoly problems (one was going to buy Brandon station as well as a few other CTV stations in a similar situation, but backed out at the last minute for various regulatory-related reasons). Two, The CRTC could gamble it all and try to get CTV and Global to comply and use those golden carriage fees as a bargaining chip. I’m not sure how likely it would be that either one would work.

There is another option, but I’m not sure it’s the one the Writer’s Guild is particularly interested in right now (but I wouldn’t be surprised if they do have it for future consideration), that being the proposal being given to Whedon in the above editorial. Instead of struggling with the networks, whether it is to keep your show on the air or to get a show on the air at all, it’s time to look away from television and look to the Internet and On-Demand services for your show. As noted by Mr. Faraci in the article, those type of platforms could zone on the particular crowds you might be aiming at, so creators no longer need to worry about compromising their idea for the sake of the mass audience (this could be a good or bad thing, though), ratings, or even advertisers. No more problems with networks sabotaging their own shows with bad scheduling (I’m more talking about stuff like Futurama with that, although I fully recognize that Whedonites have a similar persecution complex). In the end, no more having to deal with a group of media dinosaurs who grasp at straws as their profits dwindle. Canadians can make Canadian shows for Canadians, or for anyone who might be interested.

As noted, Whedon of all people has an immediate advantage in this area, having both a loyal fanbase and a proven success in online media (in Dr. Horrible). Someone like that should lead the charge, because if possible investors see that the new media can be profitable from an established (albeit, in a cult way) player, they might be willing to follow along and let the rest of us make our own pitches. We’d have to deal with a smaller budget than we might have got in a mainstream format (but really, considering how most shows on TV get shafted money-wise, that’s not much of a loss), but we’d get to work on what we wanted, and that would be worth it in the end, wouldn’t it?

This possibility for me seems all the more palpable because I’ve already thought about it in other media. For example, I do want to write comics as well, but I know that it would be nearly impossible for me to break into the industry as it is, nor would it be particularly smart to try considering the rotten condition it is in. So, I do what the future looks to support: going online. If I want to make money from it, there is a model that works (I mean, look how successful the Penny Arcade guys have become), and I don’t have to go through a publisher.

Of course, this is an idea that doesn’t help the aforementioned problem industry at all. Most of the people fighting for more Canadian drama just want to work on something at all, and don’t care about the level of creative control (or, at least, they don’t care about having COMPLETE creative control, as they usually work with others) or advancing the new media or most the advantages I’ve mentioned. This is an idea that primarily promotes the guys who want to make their own thing, not just work in an industry. That’s perfectly fine. I would be content in either situation. However, it is nice to see that their is a possibility of innovation if the fighting with the corporate behemoth doesn’t pan out.

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Posted by Matt on November 12, 2009

I wrote this near the end of last month, but we couldn’t fit it into the issue. Since it’s no longer even remotely timely, I’m not going to try to get it published again. So here it is, my dead editorial about a story that no one cares about anymore:


The latest big story hitting all their major sources a few weeks ago: something might have happened, but actually didn’t! This warranted up-to-the-minute reporting on all the major American networks, front page updates on all the news sites, and follow-ups on the story even after it turned out that nothing really happened.
That, in capsule, was the saga of the Colorado Balloon Boy, who was not in fact floating away in a loose weather balloon, but was instead hiding in the attic. Before that was discovered, however, CNN breathlessly followed the balloon that might have been carrying the kid but was not. All cameras were pointed at the skies of Colorado, watching that silvery craft slowly make its way across the wild blue yonder. And the people wondered: was he in there? Was he okay? Did we just see him fall out? And then the balloon landed, and they found nothing in it. And then they found him in the attic. Riveting.
This of course led to more questions and more coverage. What were the child’s parents doing? Was it a hoax? Should this family be prosecuted? All the while one important question seems to be lost in the shuffle: who cares?
The Winnipeg Free Press article about it the next day (which, to their credit, was not on the front page) provides some good insight: “One minute, President Obama was on the television, speaking about the rebirth of New Orleans, the usual array of citizenry behind him. In the next, he had been shoved aside by a live breaking Grimm’s fairy tale”. The rest of the article went on with that fairytale reasoning, but the lede is of more importance. This is what the news was about that day. This is what resources and airtime was spent covering.
Why does something that would fit better in one of those ‘Oh, how delightfully strange!’ filler articles that might appear in the middle of the paper (or, at best, the front page of the local paper of the kid’s hometown) suddenly become a breaking story? Was it because the family had appeared on that cultural touchstone Wife Swap? Was it because it was a slow news day? Or has the whole news business simply gone off its rocker? I can tell you one thing: it wasn’t the second reason.

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News Abuse

Posted by Matt on November 12, 2009

This might be a regular thing for me if I get bored at 1 AM more often:

Possible tags for this story:
Foreigner Speak, Marines, Racism, Excuses, Tire Iron, Roid Rage, GPS, Greek Orthodoxy, Gay Panic, No Terrorism, Florida

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What I Don’t

Posted by Matt on November 12, 2009

The group’s name changed from “The Chipmunks” to “Alvin & The Chipmunks” just like “Diana Ross & The Supremes”. Alvin, just like Diana Ross, was the lead singer.The Chipmunks name change sparked rumors of a possible solo career for Alvin.

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