I'm JUST Sayin…

#6 – Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a frog?

A frog?

Not bird, nor plane, nor even frog, it’s just another volume of “I’m JUST Sayin…” a glimpse into the mind of King Cobra or as I’m known in France and Canada: “The Great Dark Thing That Ogles Our Women.” As always, I don’t precisely start out knowing what it is that I wish to discuss, distress, dismember, disrobe, and/or discombobulate at any given moment, but sometimes I’m struck by Inspiration. Other times, I’m actually mugged, rolled, and left with knife wounds in a rest stop bathroom outside Castle Rock, Maine by Inspiration, while Inspiration and it’s friends use my debit card to buy porn, booze and switchblades.

Today’s Lecture Topic:

DEEP THOUGHTS ON COMIC BOOKS AND THE SUPERHERO IN MASS MEDIA:

I have been much irritated of late by the Visa Check Card Commercial featuring a host of Marvel superheroes coming to the rescue of some chick in a mall parking lot. Leaving aside the question of WHY the entire roster of the Avengers and the X-Men were wandering around Twin Pines Shopping Centre, or why Captain America is suddenly strong enough to burst through CONCRETE (not that comic fans are anal about such things), but why does Spider-Man sound like a drunken Corey Feldman with a head cold? Sure, he’s young and he’s supposed to be a wise-cracking devil-may-care type, but that voice track is just ANNOYING! He literally sounds like a voice-over that Prisoner and I would have slapped together in ten minutes at KBSH Television in Hays (home of the legendary “SANDWICH OF IVAN JENSEN”). It’s as if they’re trying to make the commercial ridiculous to apologize to those who are too GROWN UP for caped heroes…

I guess I just don’t get it. I’ve read tons and tons of fiction, both adventure/escapist (soooperhero and comic booky) and “Real Literature,” and frankly? I don’t see that much difference. There’s apparently some unwritten line of demarcation that makes the little 24 page paper pamphlets mind-sucking pap, (Doesn’t being 3 bucks a pop make them adult? After all, who but a grown-up has that kind of disposable income?), while virtually the same story told with Russell Crowe in the lead becomes a poignant and tender Oscar nominated must-see film experience.

For the purposes of my BMF list and the subsequent Hall of Fame (currently over in “The Jungle”, he said, hinting broadly), I won’t draw any lines on genre. Children’s program, soap opera, comic book, movie, Tijuana Bible: Everybody gets an even playing field. Mebbe it stems from my pathological need to balance the scales (hey, YOU try being the only BOY child in a family of psychotic Amazon women and see if YOU don’t have a problem with marginalization), but mostly it comes from this truth: Ideas is ideas. The set dressing isn’t nearly as important as what you’re trying to say. If your story is, say, a deep and philosophical look at the world around us, why should it matter than the main character is Wonder Warthog? (Heh. I love Wonder Warthog. “I gave ’em all a TV, and a Cadillac and sent them to Mississippi! They’ll never bother Americans again!!”) Aaaaannnyway, there are tons of television shows on the air where the main characters do thing that are reminiscent of comic book/superhero stories, in a GOOD way. From Gil Grissom’s almost telepathic understanding of a crime scene, to Sydney Bristow’s fighting skills, to the Bruce Wayne fortune of Doctor Carter on E.R., virtually any show has SOMETHING that’s over the top, that’s larger than life, that’s… fuck it, comic booky.

Halle Berry is much criticized in comic book bitching circles for supposedly having been quoted about her casting as Storm: “There were so few good roles for African Americans, that I had to be in some stupid comic book movie.” Does she have a point? Sure. Will the irritation of a dozen (or even a couple THOUSAND) hardcore super-geeks make a damn bit of difference to Halle Berry? Nope. Not a sausage… bugger all. Ms. Berry will continue in her happy, beautiful life with her dune buggies, and her mansions, and her sleeping with her Hispanic chef Joaquin Behindjoo, and there won’t even be the tiniest fiber of her being affected by it. I mean, everybody KNOWS that a REAL actress wouldn’t be in some childish comic book story of her own accord?

To which we retort: THPPPPT! Let us respond to this imaginary Halle Berry by pointing out that not EVERY superhero comes from comics, and not ever COMIC has a superhero in it! There are literally hundreds of comic books that come out every month with nary a caped crusader in ’em. Why tar them all with the same brush? Also frustrating to me is this: For the past 20-odd years, there has been this underlying belief that no concept from comic books is REALLY successful until they “escape!” You’ve got have movies, got to have McDonald’s cups, got to have merchandise. Don’t get me wrong, when you can buy Wonder Warthog Underoos in a XX Large, I’m there, but can anybody tell me how that affects the story? Is the Fantastic Four movie going to improve the Fantastic Four books? Probably not. Is it going to make people more aware of the property? Certainly. Will it make people respect the original material? Not if they’re predisposed to think of it as silly juvenile crap… It’s a Catch-22. The people who don’t read comics because they’re “childish” will never know what has changed, and when a creator does something truly well-done and adult, they’re often chided for working in the medium. Why the heck would anybody who doesn’t already LOVE comic books want to work in the medium?

Witness “Sin City,” a well-done, adult comic. Now that it has a MOVIE, we continue hearing how “lucky” Frank Miller is that he can now go and do “real art.” And when artists from other mediums move INTO comics, somehow their work is considered to be superior, such as novelist Brad Meltzer’s flawed gem “Identity Crisis.” A more adult Justice League, I like, but why does adult always mean conflicted, angry, confused, and/or dead? Aren’t adults allowed to be fun and goofy, too?

Most annoying to me: The condescension has now permeated the comics themselves. I just read the latest issue of “The Ultimates,” from Marvel Comics (mostly on the strength of Bryan Hitch’s ULTRA-sexy portrayal of old-school heroine The Valkyrie. Hey, I’m married, I’m not DEAD!) I alternately love and hate this book (just like my high school girlfriend!) and the latest issue irked the hell out of me. Set in a world where superhumans are just beginning to show up, this issue shows Henry Pym (having been thrown out of The Ultimates for wife-beating) teaming up with a group called “The Defenders.” They’re based on an old comic book series (creatively called The Defenders, another reason why I hate The Ultimates sometimes. It’s all retelling stories with a “fresh creative spin.” And by that, they mean “You may have seen this before, but now, they say FUCK!”) and makes their members seem like putzes. Sure, it’s funny to hear “The Black Knight is stuck in traffic!” and “Isn’t it cool that we finally have a member with superpowers?” and “Next time we have sex, I want you to dress up as Captain America for me!” but it seems disrespectful to the work that they’re adapting. To take a COMIC BOOK about SUPERHEROES and use it as a platform to say how ridiculous a COMIC BOOK about SUPERHEROES is? That’s kind of insulting, isn’t it? It’s just mean, like a swirly for the kid you just beat up and gave a wedgie. It’s just insult to injury…

And besides, Peter Parker wouldn’t sound like Corey Feldman. He’s from Queens! He’d sound like a young Archie Bunker!

Music ReView: Limp Bizkit: The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1)

Limp Bizkit has been on a crazy rollercoaster ride for the past few years. After Wes Borland (the group’s original guitarist) left the band in October 2001, Fred Durst (lead singer) went to Guitar Centers all over the country on a crusade to find a new axe-man. Instead, they found Snot’s Mike Smith at a bar and used him for their 2003 effort, Results May Vary. Fans flocked to the disc like a pair of sweaty gym socks and then, threw them away. Late last year, Borland came back and Smith was canned.

So what do you when the original gang is back together again? You write about it in your blog ofcourse. That’s what Fred Durst and all the cool 13 year-olds do. He used his online journal to explain to Internet fans his distaste for the media and how powerful the messages in Limp Bizkit’s new songs were. Additionally, after hacking into his personal computer, Internet fans got to view “The Fred Durst Sex Tape” (which would later be taken off all porn web sites after a lawsuit was filed). So, a couple of blog entries and a sex tape later, Limp Bizkit released their fifth studio album The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1).

Just like any other Limp album, they progressively become worse. From the opening guerilla ballad, “The Propaganda,” Durst shows his talent of rhyming words and failing miserably when he spits, “Wanted dead or alive is my profile/Hostile is the frame for my state of grace … Main attraction, fuck you in your pussy mouth/Cum again friend, now we got some action.”

The record gets slightly better. Although the next five songs have cheesy, yet difficult to understand messages, the rhythms are hard and furious. However, on the last track, “The Surrender,” it seems like Limp’s car ran out of gas. It’s like everyone gave a half-ass effort, especially Durst who starts the song off with an oxy moron as he whines (yes, whines), “Don’t label me a monster, I’m a monster just like you/Don’t label me a victim, I’m a victim just like you.”

The record consistently tries to mimic Rage Against The Machine and ironically, Fred Durst has stated in the past he hates posers and people who rip him off. In any event, The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1) only contains seven songs and lasts around 30 minutes. At least Limp Bizkit had the common courtesy to put fans out of their misery within a half hour.

This rollercoaster ride has come to a stop and I think I’m gonna be sick.

Limp Bizkit: The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1)
Rating: 1.75 stars out of 5
Record Label: Flip/Geffen Records
Official Website: LimpBizkit.com

Enjoy The Silence 11 – The Genesis of Modern Metal Music

I’ve not been listening to Rock/Metal Music for as long as most on these forums, nor do I probably know as much about the genre as most either. But since I discovered one particular band I’ve never looked back in terms of my preferred choice of music.

Pre 1998 I listened to alot of Britpop, guitar bands like Blur, Oasis and the Stone Roses, and sometimes dabbled in hip hop with groups like the Wu-Tang Clan and the Beastie Boys. Metal music was a whole other world as far as I was concerned at the time. But mainly thanks to the Internet (old Napster we miss thee) I was able to broaden my horizons considerably, and best of all at no cost to myself! So I began listening to alot of music some of my friends had been talking about for so long that I simply didn’t touch because of my sheltered choice of music. That meant branching into Metal music.

Of course Metal is nothing new to the music industry and certainly wasn’t back in 1998. The great original Metal bands such as Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden has brought it to the fore, and a much more aggressive style had become more popular at this time also, bands such as Pantera, Slayer and Metallica (much earlier) had perhaps over-shadowed the old-guard into the latter years of the 90’s.

But out of the post-grunge era of the early 90’s, a new form of Metal Music was gaining momentum, later to be known as ‘Nu-Metal’. Nu-Metal perhaps forms the core of the majority of current Metal bands, if not straying from the root of the genre itself, but none do it better than the original Nu-Metal band, the grand-daddies of the Nu-Metal movement. I have 3 words for you…..

ARE YOU READY!

Much more of a declaration of war against the slower paced Grunge movement that threatened to kill Metal music, than a question in itself. 5 men with dreams to change the face of Rock music as we knew it broke out of Bakersfield, California with a message that defied you not to take notice. Brian, James, Fieldy, David and Jon formed the irrepressible KoRn.

I personally owe my taste in music to this band. No band did I feel a greater sentiment to in my teenage years than KoRn. “I Can see, I Can see, I’m going Blind”, it was so appropriate to what had happened to me musically, I was listening to the “in” choice of music but when I began listening to KoRn and other such bands I turned a blind eye to everything I knew regarding music. The song ‘Blind’ ironically opened my eyes up to everything that I had missed.

We all listen to our preferred Metal bands today but do we give any thought to how they came about? How there is even still an Industry for them to be part of? I’m not saying that KoRn are responsible for every Metal-touting band on the planet today but I’m sure there are alot, and KoRn certainly played there part in ensuring there is still an audience for these bands to reach out to. When I got to see KoRn live in 2001 in the Untouchables tour it vindicated everything I’d ever believed about this band. The whole ‘Fuck you’ attitude, the aggression in those Ibanez 7 strings and the tortured growl of Jon Davis’ vocals, everything was right, a real live performance.

Sadly with the recent departure of Brian ‘Head’ Welch leaves the band’s future in the balance and I only hope to god they will continue to innovate the industry for years to come. But if not, thank you KoRn for opening my eyes to so many more possibilities. Let’s just say I’m no longer a “Freak on A Leash”

The Infamous Mentos Cat

Freshman year of college a group of friends and I found ourselves inspired. We we students at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. Probably one of the most liberal of art schools in the United States, (and that’s saying something). Being college students and art geeks; we had both too much time on our hands and spare video equipment laying around. Not to mention over-active imagination and a deranged sense of humor.

Pratt is famous for a lot of things, one of them is the fully operational steam engine on campus. One of the oldest in the country, and one of very few still functioning. The engine room is located pretty much in the dead center of the campus and is – as any Pratt student or alumni will tell you – a haven for the massive stray cat infestation. Apparently the warmth from the engine room attracts them from the cold New York air. While all the cats were harmless, not everyone was a fan, as you soon will see.

What follows is a video dreamed up, shot, edited and rendered all in a one hour break between classes. It is something that caused a controversy for about a week and spread around campus like wildfire. For that week we were both loved and hated by much of the school, we were rockstars. It’s something, as sick and juvenile as it is that I’m still proud of to this day. Enjoy. (Quicktime 6 or higher is required, which you can find here.)

Watch The Video

(© Jeff Dodson, Max Cameron-Bell, Mike Safianoff, John Morrison and Marcos Landeros. Mentos is a registered trademark of Van Melle USA Inc. the individuals involved in this video and MediaRebellion.com are in no way affiliated with Van Melle USA Inc. This video is a parody, as allowed by US law. Please don’t sue.)

I'm JUST Sayin…

#5 – You can’t spell “overrated” without TV.

Hey, look! It’s another volume of “I’m JUST Sayin…”, the opinion column that begs the question: “Wouldn’t you really rather have a Buick?” Has it been two months already??? Well, no, but I admit to fallin’ WAAAAAY behind on this particular project. Hey, I write a daily column over there in the Jungle, and even a man of my stature can only type and whine SO MUCH during one 24 hour period. Having said that, I’ll reiterate what it am I do here. This is the place where I whine and complain about things that bug me; rant and rave incessantly about the things I like; generally foist my opinions as “The Whole Truth,” but still try to leave ya the room to say “That Cobra guy’s bug-@#$@# crazy”, all while spinning plates on both hands, and balancing a soccer ball on the tip of my nose.

Take THAT, PWTorch.com!

In any case, today’s TOPIC is television, the CATEGORY is “Free-Floating Hostility,” and the course level is 202. I’m your instructor, Da Mighty King Cobra, feel free to call me if the homework is too hard… I won’t help, but it’s always nice to vent, and we could mebbe share some pizza rolls or something. Today’s Lecture Topic:

REALITY TELEVISION:

Sure, it’s well-covered ground, but WHY is so much of Reality TV completely devoid of any form of reality? Shouldn’t something CALLED ‘reality entertainment’ contain some of EITHER???

There have been a LOT of complaints about the Reality genre, and any Seinfeld-imitator worth his salt has added the “Survivor” jokes to his “Gilligan’s Island,” “Airline Food,” “Wife On Period,” and “What’s The Deal With Oprah?” arsenal. I doubt that ANYONE would argue that the Reality TV currently being offered is SO FAR REMOVED from reality that the people ACTUALLY HAVE BECOME TWO-DIMENSIONAL CHARACTERS. Actually, more to the point, they’re just canny enough to *become* characters, knowing that that makes for more screen time.

I bring this up after watching “The Surreal Life,” where Chyna and X-Pac argued in the garden for fourteen minutes, and Chyna continuously made the point that he was never like this “except on TV!” Apparently, in the lost biblical tome “The Epistle of X-Pac To The Jabronies,” the best way to make nice with your partner of choice is to wait until she has an audience and a show of her own, then horn in and try and take over the program. Everybody loves the Fonzie, right? Urkel RULED Family Matters, so this HAS to work! Cause nothing proves your love more than a drunken rant in front of fourteen teamsters and a creepy producer girl motioning for you to “Stretch for the break, then you can kiss and make up!”

Let me start by saying, I love Chyna, and would probably eat DIRT if she endorsed it, even though she’s pretty much a certifiable loon with a plastic surgery fetish who may or may not have swallowed more HGH than I have M&M’s… But this was so sad, so pathetic, so very frightening and personal that I had to switch over to Cartoon Network and watch Master Shake abuse that poor dumb hamburger chunk…

What was most depressing wasn’t that it was on television (Hell, the medium has a LONG history of presenting human suffering and emotional torture as entertainment. Remember “Twenty-One?”) It wasn’t that Chyna and X-Pac were apparently only able to have this discussion in front of cameras (after all, they’re both notorious attention hounds who have fallen out of the public spotlight, and the crux of their relationship seems to be a statement of “SCREW YOU ALL, WE ONLY NEED EACH OTHER!!! and booze).

The part that most depressed me was that I found myself wondering… Scratch that. I found myself *almost CARING* what happened next… It was like “Tod Browning’s As The World Turns,” a purple testament to love and life among the circus geeks. Seriously, I had to go and buy another copy of “The Catcher in the Rye,” and re-watch the commentary track of Kevin Smith’s “Dogma” to regain my Indy intellectual street cred. It was horrifying. Why do I hate reality TV? Much like Dave Sim, I can’t say I HATE it. Hate tends to imply a lot more connection than I actually have to the material. I wouldn’t even say I DISLIKE the genre, I just no longer understand more than five minutes of it at a time… much like Dave Sim.

Remember “The Real World?” I used to love that mess. Back in ’91, I thought it was gripping docudrama, where they took kids from different backgrounds, different realities, who had different goals and dreams, and made them interact. Okay, to be honest, FORCED ’em to interact. Sure, there was the ham-handed presence of cameras and sound men, but that was part of the fun! They were clearly visible, just like any documentary show… And in the first season, Southern Belle Julie and Angry African-American Kevin clashed, and the producers realized…

“This crap might sell! Quick, we need another Southern Belle and Angry Young Man!”

Season Two switched it up by making the Southern Belle a boy, and the Angry girl a Muslim named Tami, but they added another twist: Let’s lock them up in a camper for five days and FORCE the conflict!!! That’s brilliant!!! Season three added the twist of Pedro, the brilliant activist and HIV educator (marking the last time anybody on the show seemed to have any goal other than “LOOK AT MEEEE!!!!”), but they smartly balanced his intellectual approach (It won’t play in Peoria, Dan…) with the “Doodoo Kaka, I’m EDGY!! See how edgy I am, I snotted in the peanut butter!!” presence of Puck. To be frank, I blame Puck for the whole goddamn reality TV schmozz, the little cock-rocket…

By season five, it was all buzzwords: Every season had “Activist Gay Kid,” and “Southern Ignorant Kid,” and “Idiot Party Kid,” and especially “Snotty Uppercrust Kid.” It was like the old traveling carnival shows, where the Bearded Lady and the Sword Swallowing Man left the Midway and went out the Waffle House for fries, except in the carnival, the freaks weren’t as extreme. Today’s Reality TV has given us DEEP PHILOSOPHICAL MESSAGES in bite-size format, making a mockery of deep philosophy AND, sadly, of Bite Size. You know you’re screwed when your intellectual level drops below that of the mini-bag of “Almond Joy” at the Dollar General Store. Worst of all, is that these days each new season of “The Real World” consists of idiot teenagers who KNOW what it’s about, who craft their own character in an attempt to get air-time, carefully calculating each move like they’re building an Aurora model, with nearly as clear and obvious a blueprint.

So, what have *I* learned from reality TV?

“American Idol” has taught me that music-types are greedy, stupid, petty, vicious idiots.

“The Apprentice” has taught me that business-types are greedy, stupid, petty, vicious idiots.

“The Surreal Life” has taught me that Media Has-Beens are greedy, stupid, petty, vicious idiots.

“America’s Top Model” has taught me that fashion-industry-types are greedy, stupid, petty, vicious idiots.

“Survivor” has taught me that the average man-on-the-street is a greedy, stupid, petty, vicious idiot.

“Tough Enough” taught me that wrestling-industry-types are greedy, stupid, petty, MACHO, vicious idiots who’ll $#!+ in your handbag.

All told, it’s quite a menu of glamour, illusion, bullshit, and wicked editing to behold… The fact is, this type of programming hasn’t had any edge at all since the first season of “The Joe Schmoe Show.” Interestingly, this was the last time more than fifty people watched anything on Spike TV that didn’t feature creative control by Paul Levesque… Most frightening to me is the fact that certain networks (I’m lookin’ at YOU, Fox… And don’t get so damn cocky, VH-1, you’re in my radar, too!) apparently intend to build their entire schedule on this crap. The more I watch, the more I think that maybe the networks have hit on the perfect show… Maybe the fact that these programs continue to sell, and that “The Bachelor” is now back with another season of crap is a clear and prominent sign…

Maybe they’re telling us that they’ve figured out the lost Holy Grail of Television, hidden for ten years in a jar of Regis Philbin’s ass-cream… Written on parchment made of kidskin, in the language of ancient entertainers, it speaks the one truth of any media that requires an audience, a truth that dates back to William Shakespeare and beyond; to the first caveman who tripped on dinosaur feces in front of a crowd of people, and kinda liked the attention he got:

The Average Viewer is a stupid, petty, vicious, voyeuristic idiot, and somewhere, deep inside us, we really believe that “what happens after the next break is the most SHOCKING moment in television history!”

However, that doesn’t excuse giving Paris Hilton airtime…. Unless she’s co-starring with Shannon Doherty, Jessica Simpson, The Olsen Twins, and Cindy Margolis, and the show is called “Girls You Want To Stuff Head-First Down A Sewage Pipe Just To Hear Their Echoey Screams.”

Hell, *I’d* tune in…

Lookin' Under The Lid #3: Romeo and Juliet

In 1996, Director Baz Luhrmann put a post-modern twist on one of the most romantic love stories told with William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The characters traded in their rags for Versace, their daggers for pistols and castles for elaborate mansions in this Shakespeare remake. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Romeo, the Montague trying to capture the heart of Juliet Capulet, played by Claire Danes. However, the Montagues and Capulets, the two richest families in Verona, have a rivalry and hatred towards one another. The clans will stop at nothing to dismantle the other, just as Romeo and Juliet will stop at nothing to be together.

There are three scenes I would like to touch up on, starting from … well … the start, I suppose.

Thumb Biters at the Gas Station
A firefight ensues, started by two smartass Montague servants literally “biting their thumbs” towards members of the Capulet squad at a Gas Station. I like the scene because using guns at a Gas Station represents destruction and the film symbolizes the tearing and destruction of two families. However, because the environment is in post-modern Verona, they should have used middle fingers instead of thumb-biting. I know it was looked at as an insult back a few centuries ago. Nowadays, if somebody were “biting their thumb,” people would think the person is a sketch ball or may contain an oral fixation. I’m sure there are a few freaks in Verona.

Killing Mercutio and Tybalt
So Tybalt is all fired up and wanting to rip somebody’s head off so he decides to pick a fight with Romeo. Although Romeo declined to dance, Tybalt roughed him up, causing a battle. Somehow during the break-up of the brawl, Tybalt “accidentally” killed Mercutio. Romeo (or Leonardo DiCaprio if you will) walked towards Mercutio like the baby he is, crying like he lost his new shirt. Mercutio tried shaking off the fatal injury and when he realizes he is dying, he becomes this angry man and yelled, “A plague … a plague on both your houses.” Talk about being moody. After DiCaprio is done crying like the little baby he is, rain began falling from the sky. A huge thunder and lightening storm brews. Oh no! He’s mad! Don’t piss off DiCaprio.

So what happens next? The roles reverse: DiCaprio becomes a psycho and Tybalt becomes a pussy. Tybalt gets the crap kicked out of him and got shot more than 50 Cent. And what happens after these murder sprees? A banishment from Verona. That’s it. I know this play was written centuries ago, but come on. If you are going to update a play, just don’t update the setting. Don’t do it half-ass. Heck, if killing somebody only got you removed from a certain town, then the death toll would be a lot higher today. I could see it now; “Hey man, I’m moving to Canada … I just killed some bitch for looking at me the wrong way.”

So after the banishment, Juliet and Friar Laurence wrote a letter to Romeo, which explained the plan. He was to rescue Juliet at the Crypt, where she “faked” her death. Only problem is Romeo heared from his servant that she was alread dead. Romeo returned to town to say his last farewell and never received the letter.

Committing Suicide at the Crypt
Juliet (or Claire Danes) is in her final resting place, surrounded by millions of magnificent candles in a room bigger than the size of any school dormitory. The secret is she really isn’t dead; Friar Laurence gave her a pill, which kept her asleep for several days, but of course DiCaprio (or Romeo) doesn’t know this. So, he snuck into this fabulous Crypt, saw the love of his life motionless and knew for himself she is dead. After DiCaprio does what he does best (cries like he skinned his knee), he drank a potion and as he died, he saw Danes waking up. So now, he’s a confused dead person. When she realized he didn’t know, she screams “Oh Happy Dagger” and takes her life too. I thoroughly loved the setting as it was both eerie and beautiful at the same time. Both DiCaprio and Danes pulled it off nicely and it was the best scene, mainly because it wasn’t far-stretched from what really happened. It really catches the mood of regret and despair.

In regards to the lighting, it seemed somewhat like natural daylight and night time, which was pretty cool. When a character was sad, then it would rain and background music would slow down. When it got intense, the camera angles focused on the mug and music sped up.

Although the film takes place in the present-day environment, the language was the same as the book. Don’t get me wrong; I like the lingo in the book, but if you are going to do a remake, then relate the whole thing to today. That is why this movie isn’t a remake: it’s just an update of imagery.

Oh yea. If DiCaprio wasn’t such a big sissy, this movie probably would have been better. You know Shakespeare is going to be kicking Luhrmann ass in heaven.

The Decision: Throw it in the Trash.

(Would you ‘Keep it in the stash’ or ‘Throw it in the trash’? Let us know.)

Enjoy The Silence 10

The Great American Card Game

We are currently in the midst of a gaming phenomenon, a craze that is taking the world by storm. Strangely this particular activity has been with us for decades, but has been stereotyped perhaps as a past time for those with serious gambling related illnesses or criminal association. Well no longer is this game confined to smokie back alley pool halls or even the glitz of Vegas. Ladies and Gentleman, Poker has been brought to the masses.

Remarkably in the last 2 years the popularity of Poker has boomed across the globe. More and more people are seeking to play Poker as a profession, or in the mainstream as a great hobby and past time. I for one have been roped into Poker in recent weeks, a friend of mine joined a local club and invited me along for the ride, and I was quite frankly horrified by how enjoyable it was! For those who have never played the game you may be forgiven for thinking it is like any other gambling activity and alot of luck is involved. Well they say it is better to be lucky than to be good, but luck alone will not win a game of Poker and that is the beauty of it. There is so much strategy to the game, mathematics and logic are involved in every decision to be made and as they say “it takes 5 minutes to learn but a lifetime to master” and once you have the basics covered, mastering the game is so very rewarding!

There are a number of reasons for the takeoff of Poker. ESPN have been doing some terrific coverage of the World Series Of Poker in Vegas, in previous years it was a very gray and dull production, but now there is so much vibrancy and character in the presentation of the show that it will appeal to a much more mainstream audience and they even take time out to teach you the basics of the game throughout each episode. Also the Internet has played an integral part, the simple ease to get online and play means that Joe-Average can learn the game in minutes, either playing for “play money” or putting your cash where your mouth is.

There are huge amounts of money to be made playing Poker, with any of the big tournaments offering over $1,000,000 to the winner and the best part is anyone can do it! But I must also point out that money is there to be lost also, and Media Rebellion would like to take this opportunity to encourage responsible gambling within your means, thank you! But people will very quickly fall in love with the game once you’ve played it a few times and maybe dream of being the next Doyle Brunson or Phil Hellmuth (former world champions), many people already have. The winner of the World Series of Poker in 2003 Chris Moneymaker (the name is so appropriate!) entered the competition via an online qualifier or what is known in the Poker world as a ‘satellite’ tournament. This means instead of fronting the $5000 required to enter the WSOP you pay something like $50 to play a series of smaller tournaments and the winners of the smaller tournaments will enough to buy into the WSOP main event. Chris Moneymaker being an account by trade saw good value for money and invested his $50 and turned it into a $3,000,000 jackpot.

It doesn’t matter though weather your playing with the pro’s in Vegas or with your friends in a home game, Poker is fun, challenging and very exciting and looks like it is here to stay. So as they say in the game “shuffle up and deal”.

Open Mic with Bear Frazer: The Emergence of VH1

Freedom of expression is what makes America so beautiful. This country thrives on entertainment. People eat up drama like nachos and cheese. There is one pop culture channel which is devoted to feed couch potatoes’ appetites with quality programming. VH1 has always stood in the shadow of MTV, but now, it’s one of the most watched networks on television.

The three hour programming block coined Celebreality has been dynamite for VH1. The Sunday Night lineup features three reality shows. The Surreal Life 4 pits six celebrities living under one roof where anything can happen and if you saw the first episode, an intoxicated Verne “Mini-Me” Troyer squealed in his bed and later, urinated on a wall in the nude. Strange Love features Flavor Flav and Brigitte Nielsen attempting to rekindle an old flame and Celebrity Fit Club exposes eight obese celebrities divided on two teams and challenged to lose weight. Those three shows received the highest ratings in the channel’s history.

The addition of a programming schedule has had a positive effect for the record breaking statistics. “Sunday Night is the 1st Time we had destination scheduling,” said Brett Henne, VH1 Director of Corporate Communications. “So if it’s Sunday Night, you know Celebreality is on.”

Solid marketing strategies have also elevated the company to a new level. “When we have big programming events like I Love The 90’s, we’ll (VH1) do a pre-marathon where episodes air all week and we do all our marketing towards that,” Henne said. I Love The 90’s, a series compiled of unforgettable pop culture events in the 1990’s, became the highest rated week ever in VH1 history.

VH1 also likes to keep viewers updated on current events. In The Fabulous Life of Britney Spears, people are informed of the happenings of Spears in chronological order, from achievements to her most embarrassing moments and Hollywood outsiders share their opinions on the show. The Fabulous Life of … series also exposes celebrities and their lavish lifestyles. There are also specials such as Michael Jackson’s Secret Childhood, where VH1 takes a closer look into the life of Jackson.

In addition, there are other several cutting-edge shows which made 2004 VH1’s most watched year ever. Blender teamed up with the network to bring Awesomely Bad Countdowns, where journalists and industry personalities try to figure out the logic behind the songs and videos. Behind The Music, one of their longest running features, is still drawing in big numbers with new editions of artists trying to make comebacks. And, by showing movies like Austin Powers, Showgirls and 8 Mile, it isn’t hard to grasp why the primetime rating went up 50% over two years.

Now that things have been shook up, VH1 is no longer the relaxed alternative to MTV. This channel is no longer about light rock, Lilith Fair and Pop-Up Video. It’s about pop-culture and entertainment; what America is really about. Avid fans can expect more specials to pop-up as well as more music. Also, keep an eye out for “Kept,” a show featuring Jerry Hall to makes its’ way into the Celebreality lineup this spring. So sit back, relax and make some nachos and cheese, because VH1 is spicing things up.

Enjoy The Silence 9

The cost of being alive.

For those of you who don’t already know, I’m a 22 year old professional, finding my way in the working world in England. From the second I completed my exams at High School I was into my first job instantly, no way would my proud mother allow her youngest to wallow after completing 5 gruelling years of High School education, nope I was off to fend for myself.

Before I get to my point, please allow me to give you a little background information on my life. I grew up with primarily one parent. My mother and father separated when I was very young, and my father sadly passed away when I was 10 years old. My mother did a great job raising 3 kids (me being the youngest) and put her life on hold to give us everything we needed and wanted. I always wanted to take the pressure off my mother and provide for myself when I left school so going to work was never a problem, infact it has taught me the value of money, something that I think alot of my friends who still leech money from their parents may never understand, so I’ve learnt important lessons early in life. However I have also learnt just how hard it is to live these days.

Back to the present, I’ve now been working for 6 years full time but I have little to show for it. I “rent” a home, I have no car and cannot drive, I do not have the disposable income to live an active social life and have therefore drifted away from many of the friends I hold dear to me. In England you are taxed for pretty much everything apart from the air you breathe, and it’s becoming intolerable. So in this financial blight I now find myself immersed in, I took it upon myself to find a better paid job. I left my job as Web Operations Co-ordinator at Odeon Cinemas to work for a locally based Computer Hardware retailer, one of the biggest in the UK. They offered me good money and the prospects looked good so I jumped at the chance, but sadly things don’t always work out as you intend them to. The company I began to work for were extremely ill managed and highly unprofessional and terrible under-belly of racial and sexiest hatred was apparent and I simply couldn’t work in that atmosphere and resigned after 3 weeks.

That now leaves me out of work, with shit loads of bills to pay and no one to support me. Fortunately I am reasonably experienced enough to find another job but for the moment I am in the abyss! My point is that it seems we are born to provide the fatcats of our governments with more money. Despite the fact that I’ve worked my ass off for 6 years I have fuck all to show for it, and now I have to break into my savings to survive my hopefully temporary unemployment. The cost of living just went up folks, if you want to live these days you have to pay for it. They say it’s for law enforcement (that you never fucking see), health services (that you’ll never fucking use) but really it’s to line the pockets of those that govern our lives and to fund their wars across the globe.

I want to live, but I’m not sure I can afford to anymore.

I'm JUST Sayin…

#4 – Pick Yer Poison.

I’m not-quite-watching Monday Night Raw, while perusing the internet comic sites for information on coming attractions, when I fall across this statement, by brilliant and damn-well-experienced-enough-to-make-pronouncements comic creator Steven Grant:

Everyone has ideas.

Followed by this corollary:

Ideas, in and of themselves, mean nothing.

It’s telling that I immediately connected those statements to the television show I’m watching, to the books I’m previewing, and to my life in general. I have m’self a bit of a quandary, you see. I’m at a point in my Back In The Day Cafe where I realize that there IS an end coming. And if I intend to be anything more than Gary Coleman, coasting for decades on “Whatchutalkin’bout, Willis?”, I need to have ANOTHER idea. More honestly, I need to have another GOOD idea.

The same goes for my Monday night wrestling. I can’t remember the last time I sat and *ENJOYED* a two-hour block of Monday night. Scratch that, actually, I can. I was the week after last year’s Royal Rumble (the match where EVERYBODY and their dog goes head to head, and the winner gets to fight the standing champion, for the uninformed), and Chris Benoit jumped from one wrestling show to the other, so he could challenge Triple H. That would have been the time when I felt that GOOD things were going to happen…

Two weeks later, my wife and I were both laid-off, my entire household income disappeared, and we found out that her maternity leave wasn’t going to be paid.

Shows how good MY instincts are.

Wrestling needs a good idea. King Cobra needs a good idea. Y’know who ELSE needs a good idea? The comic book field in general. Marvel Comics has essentially ignored the last 20 years of continuity to create the “Ultimate” comic book line, which, as much as I like some of it, is a transparent attempt to make their characters “Hollywood-ready,” and turn them into movies. DC Comics has returned Hal Jordan to his role as Green Lantern, after unceremoniously dumping him a decade ago for a “new blood” named Kyle who was quite obviously the writer’s wish-fulfillment alter ego.

“This milk is sour. I’ll try again TOMORROW!”

If the idea doesn’t work now, there’s a damn good chance that it’ll still suck tomorrow.

Hal Jordan is back! Everything you know is wrong!

Spider-Man has ORGANIC web-shooters! Everything you know is wrong!

THIS challenger might beat Triple H!! Everything you know is wrong!

The common denominator? An idea that has been tried before. The problem is NOT “jaded audiences,” as WWE might have you believe. It’s not “market fragmentation,” as Marvel seems to think. It’s not the “New Paradigm” that DC is desperately trying to capture…

It’s the ideas, stupid. It’s the ideas that have been done before. If you want to SHOCK me, put the belt on Batista. Then let Batista fight Randy Orton. Let him fight Chris Benoit, let him fight Edge. Keep Triple H away. Keep Shawn Michaels away. Sidetrack The Usual Suspects into their own issues, and show me an idea that isn’t just a new twist on an unworkable concept. Oh, and take all these “bodybuilder” muscular types who can barely bend their bulbous arms, and GIVE THEM A WRESTLING LESSON. There are WORLDS of moves out there beyond clothesline-powerslam-arbitrary finishing maneuver.

Take the Spider-Man that people read every month, and GIVE HIM SOMETHING NEW. Drop the “Mary Jane is pregnant/missing/kidnapped,” drop the “Aunt May has Cancer/Heart Disease/Rickets/The Heartbreak of Psoriasis,” drop the “Jonah Jameson hates Spider-Man” and show me some actual character development. This a 30 year old man who still lives with his de facto Mommy, even though he’s got a really attractive wife, who still works where he did when he was Sixteen, who wears the same clothes he wore as a high school kid. That’s not just lazy writing… It’s creepy.

Take Green Lantern, and stop the madness! Everything I knew CAN’T continue to be wrong, because for the last 15 years, *I HAVEN’T KNOWN A DAMNABLE THING!!!!* You HAVE to stop destroying the status quo, because YOU HAVEN’T GOT ONE ANYMORE!!! There comes a point where you have to admit that something has gone horribly awry, and have a NEW idea. Don’t just transpose one that’s worked before (F’r example, “Kyle Rayner, a 20ish tough guy loner has super powers…”) and don’t think that simply going back to a PREVIOUS iteration of the same themes is going to make a difference (i.e. “Hal Jordan is fearless and honest, and has super powers…”). Yes, the second is a better idea, subjectively, and one with longer legs in terms of story hooks, but really… Haven’t we seen them both ad nauseam?

Show me another Invincible. Idea: Mark Grayson, an interesting and human kid, has this life, and it’s perfectly recognizable to all of us, while being completely fantastic. Oh, and he has superpowers.

Show me another John Cena. Idea: A character whose gimmick grows organically out of the wrestler’s own interests, who can make the crowd like him AND hate him, who can actually move, who can talk, and who (when the Focus Groups leave him the hell alone) is pretty interesting.

Show me another JSA. Idea: 50 years of continuity, and an ENORMOUS cast, used in exciting, entertaining stories, rotated in and out so nobody gets overexposed, nobody gets stale & boring, nobody becomes another Wolverine, appearing 560 times per month in stories that will all be undone in a year or two when we decide that “EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG!!! And this time, WE MEAN IT!”

In short, there are NO truly original ideas. Just give me a spin on one that belongs to YOU. I don’t expect you to NOT have influences, I don’t expect you to NOT reference that which has come before, I don’t expect you to NEVER stumble in your creative efforts… All I REALLY ask is that you TRY to give me something that ONLY you can do in the order you do it, and beware the problem of going back to the same well OVER AND OVER AND OVER.

Tune in Next week for “Journey to The Valley of The Sons of The Bad Motha Fucka Wallet Volume 2: All We Got Left Is Don Knotts and The Guy Who Played Devon on Knight Rider.”