The Alabaster Sock

We Will Fight the Threat with Fighting

Archive for September, 2010

Posted by Matt on September 28, 2010

My dad is running for a City Councillor position next month. I have thus been looking for people on the Internets talking about him and his campaign. So far, nothing of particular interest.

There is this, though.

Seems CTV is well underestimating its Winnipeg audience.

Brandon is the second-largest city in Manitoba. Also known as “Westman,” it is located in the province’s southwest, on the Assiniboine River.

All their Winnipeg readers are all like ‘Another place in Manitoba? ABSURD!’ before running to their atlases and seeing that it is true, popping their monocles in the process.

Let’s look at what they have to say about the candidates:

(For Mayor)

Nickolas Avlonitis
Information about this candidate is currently unavailable.

I’d say that’s probably not a good thing.

Henry Hansen
Henry Hansen is a homemaker raising a young daughter in Brandon.

Just OOZING with qualifications there.

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Posted by Matt on September 27, 2010

Because I don’t feel like doing another write-up, here’s a review I wrote for the newspaper about the Flaming Lips concert I went to last week:

Oklahoma-based psychadelic rockers the Flaming Lips are famous for putting on a one-of-a-kind concert, and I can report with confidence that this is the case. It is DEFINITELY the case.

The opening act at their Winnipeg concert, Haunted Graffiti, were able to set the mood pretty early on. Although they are certainly a more straightforward rock band than the Lips, their use of keyboards and harder sound created a similar vibe, as did its strange frontman, who was entertaining in spite of the fact that I couldn’t understand a thing he said.
The Flaming Lips themselves started strong and never let up during their dozen-or-so song set, which pulled primarily from their three 2000s albums, but also included a classic from the 90s, She Don’t Use Jelly. Everyone was on game, and not even short technical difficulties hurt the intensity the band put into every song, nor ecstatic mood of the audience. Frontman Wayne Coyne kept the place jumping by spending a moment between songs to talk to the audience and encourage everyone to join in.

As for the show itself… it is probably the most visually entertaining thing I’ve ever seen on stage. Every song brought in new, weird effects; confetti gushed down at any given moment; there were women in yellow shirts and hats dancing on the sidelines for the entire show; large balloons were bounced around in the audience for a whole hour; and the band members interacted with the visuals displayed on the giant circular screen. Coyne himself went out of his way to entertain, first by jumping into the floor audience in a giant bubble, and following it up throughout the show by, for example, sitting on the shoulders of a man in a bear costume, or using giant hands to reflect laser lights onto two disco balls. Of course, words can’t really do the show justice: you really need to see it to get how crazy and awesome it was, and to know the feeling of how entertaining it was just to anticipate what could happen next.

So, as one can tell, the Lips show is everything you’ve heard it was, and probably more. And it’s not just for the sheer sense overload provided by what’s going on stage, either; there’s a genuine love of the music there. Coyne repeatedly talked about how much happiness he finds among the band’s fans, and it’s easy to see where he’s coming from when you see a large group of people singing along to Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots and Do You Realize??

Here’s some videos from it:

I also saw the Arcade Fire last week. It was also a good concert.

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Posted by Matt on September 18, 2010

Yeah, I haven’t been around lately.

Am I going to fix this?

Mmmmm, not today.

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Posted by Matt on September 7, 2010

This might be the stupidest thing Star Wars has ever given me.

Oh wait, I just discovered this, starring this.

The self-proclaimed son of Palpatine, Trioculus was in actuality a pretender to the throne, usurping the role of Palpatine’s alleged son, three-eyed mutant Triclops.


Edit: More comedy here

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Pain Inflicting

Posted by Matt on September 6, 2010

My last list of songs I hate that play incessantly at work was rather weak, as I forgot several major offenders. Now I remember them, and I give them to you all because I hate. I HATE.

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Posted by Matt on September 2, 2010

The phrase ‘Hollywood is out of ideas’ kind of confuses me. I can understand the frustration when you hear every other day that a board game or Youtube video or glob of spit on the sidewalk is being made into a movie. It seems that everything that already exists is getting made into a movie these days, even other movies.

But the thing…’Hollywood’, that fictional entity that is meant to encompass all the studios in America…doesn’t really have it’s own ideas, does it? Okay, all these licenses being acquired and greenlit obviously comes from the brass. And even great movies started out like this; Jaws is a classic, but it likely started with some CEO saying “That Peter Benchley book is popular, make a movie out of it”. The closest thing the studios themselves come to creativity is going with a general idea rather than just a license, like saying ‘People want movies with cowboys!’ or ‘People want movies about the war!’.

So, in essence, Hollywood never has ideas, or at least original ones. The ones with the ideas are the screenwriters who pitch their scripts to the studios. They’re the ones who, one way or another, have to mold a story from the mud, whether it’s their own or something given to them.

It’s a strange thing, really. Most movie ideas come from the top-down, I must admit, but there are still examples of big movies that were screenwriter pitches first, Alien being a prime example. Still, I think there is enough evidence to suggest that most of the creativity comes from the bottom, from those more directly connected to the creative aspect of filmmaking. So then the idea that ‘Hollywood is out of Ideas’ seems faulty, as for the most part, the ideas are not created by the studios, but by the screenwriters, or directors, or even designers; and I’ve heard very little that leads me to believe that they are out of ideas.

This leads to what the actual problem is, though: ‘Hollywood’ isn’t willing to take risks at all, so they are less willing to buy a script unless it has some connection to something that already exists, or is championed by a bankable actor. It’s getting absurd, and the fact that the studios are buying the rights to board games is only the beginning. It seems that they have become so timid about making money back on their investment that they will take anything, literally anything, that might have some sort of recognition factor, no matter how minuscule, as being a safe bet. And they need safe bets: they are losing money all the time, as people just stop going to the movies, preferring to watch them at home, or to rampant Internet piracy. And the budgets are ballooning, because in order to get the quality and star power that is expected of major movies these days you need to START with tens of millions or more (consider that most major actors will cost six figures on their own, and that you usually need a bunch to get some peace of mind). The model is bloated as hell, but that’s just where the studios have led themselves.

This is, as one can tell, bad for upstart screenwriters who don’t have the connections to get into the mercenary part of the industry. They have to start somewhere, but there seems to be less opportunity in the film industry than ever before. There are still some smaller studios that are probably more receptive to new ideas, but it’s probably difficult getting in contact with them for much of the same reasons it’s difficult to break into the big part of the industry: you need connections.

In conclusion, it’s not that Hollywood is out of ideas, it’s just too scared to buy new ones.

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