Thursday, September 27, 2007

One Hundred Original Ideas for Horror Movies (#30 - 34)

We're about 1/3 of the way through 100 ideas for horror movies, so let's shake things up a bit. The next few ideas follow a theme: They've already been done.

Sometimes I'm halfway through writing an original idea for a horror movie, when I get to the extensive research phase of the process and realize that it's already been done by somebody else. Here are the smelly aborted corpses of ideas that never even had a chance:

30. Killer Pigs: Pigs are evil and kill people and - DAMN! Someone's already making "Pig Hunt".



31. Killer Sheep: There are a lot of sheep in the world, and - BAH! Already done, and with a much better title: Black Sheep. "There are 40 million sheep in New Zealand; AND THEY'RE PISSED OFF!". Couldn't have said it better myself.



32. Killer Nuns: Nuns are just so repressed, they're bound to - OH SNAP! There's not just one movie, but an entire genre of movies on this. Click for more info on Nunsploitation (seriously).



33. Killer Cops: OK OK, killer cops is nothing new. But how about REALLY evil killer cops, who, like, taser 15 year old autistic kids. No, no, even better, they taser old ladies in wheelchairs until they die. And then - OH NO, BRO! It's not only been done, but it's been done in real life. The kid and his awesome beard survived, but the old wheelchair lady is still dead. It's not so funny when it's real life horror.



34. Killer Vagina: It's about ... well ... oh, why do I even try any more? Just click to find out more about "Teeth."



Conclusion: Everything's been done. There's no such thing as an original idea for a horror movie. I quit.

See also: #25 - 29.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I Win at Digg

Digg is a "social news" site where people submit stories then other people vote on which stories get to make it to the front page. Each story also has a comments section, in which people can "digg up" comments they like. Once in a while I like to throw in a random comment to see how many people digg it.

I recently used the digg comment stalker to see which of my comments got the most diggs. Here are the top 4.









They're much better out of context, but you can click to see the actual comments if you so desire.

And if you have a digg account, be sure to add me, phronko, to your friends. It's gone all Facebook lately, and I'd feel much less lonely if anonymous internet people pretended they knew me.

Monday, September 24, 2007

My Xbox 360, 2005 - 2007. RIP.


A dear friend of mine died on September 18th. I have had many good times with My Xbox 360, playing games, watching movies, and being called all sorts creative words for homosexuals and black people on Xbox Live. Other people said it wouldn't work; they said that most Xbox 360s get sick and die within a few months of meeting them. "It'll never happen to me", I thought, but oh how wrong I was. I began to play a demo for some shitty game, and My Xbox 360 froze up. I thought she just didn't like the game, but then I put in Bioshock, which is a game we both really enjoy playing, and she froze up again. I let her rest for a while, but when I went to wake her up, she just lay there. Three red lights appeared on her face. I knew it was over.

It's never an easy thing to do, but I called Microsoft to have the body removed. The woman who answered the phone must have been upset too, because she had trouble talking and understanding me. Let's say the name of the street I live on is "Bobsington Avenue". I tell her the name, then begin to spell it. She interrupts after the first three letters; "Bob Street?" I continue to spell it out. "Bobsing Street?" I know this is hard, lady, but let me finish.

After the dirty details are worked out, she says "I have to ask you one final question." She asks, but I swear that I didn't hear her correctly. She repeats, in an official tone, "are you Filipino?" Um, no. I'm not. I say "double-you tee eff". Actually, I don't, but I should have.

They'll send a cardboard coffin, and I'll send her back to Microsoft. I know they'll send a refurbished replacement back, but it just won't be the same. It's OK though, I know she's in a better place. She's with the almighty Bill Gates now. Rest in peace, Xbox 360, rest in peace.

Here is a trip down memory lane, blogger-style.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Insomnia

Note: Post updated on Sept. 21, 8:10 p.m..

This is a true story:

09/17/2007: I wake up, check the clock. 2:00 a.m. I hear noises coming from the darkness outside of the bedroom. Tapping noises. I wait a minute, heart thumping deep, hoping it was my imagination. Willow begins to bark as it starts up again. Definitely not my imagination.

V is awake now. We both lie still, listening carefully, whispering "what the fuck is that?" I get up the courage to check it out. It's coming from the kitchen, where the back door is. When I get close, the noises stop. I turn on the light to the back porch and quickly look out; nothing there.

Must've been the neighbours coming home or something. I go back to bed.

I try to sleep, but a few minutes later, there it is again. Tapping, scraping on plastic. V urges me to get up again; I swear it's right at the back of the house. This time I grab our biggest knife after flipping the lights on. Again, the noise stops as soon as I get close to the kitchen. I figure if it was a leaky faucet or the fridge or the house shifting, it wouldn't react to my presence. This scares me.

I bring the knife back to the bedroom. This time I don't even try sleeping. Five minutes later the tapping starts up again. This time, I creep slowly to the kitchen and don't turn the lights on. It's definitely not coming from outside. It's definitely coming from the vicinity of the sink. That leaves two possibilities: it was a leaky faucet after all, or someone is trying to break into the window directly above the sink.

I inch closer. I don't see any dripping.

But then I look into the sink. There's a bowl filled with bubbly water there. A bubble pops and it makes a faint plasticy tap. Relief fills me, I dump the fucking bowl of water that has been popping all night, keeping me up, and curse myself for being so worried about something so silly.

With an explanation found, I'm able to fall asleep, but in the back of my mind, I'm wondering if the noise stopping whenever I got near could really have been sheer coincidence. I'm drifting off to sleep, but in the back of my mind, my ears are still picking up something scraping at the back of the house.

09/18/2007, 9:00 a.m.: There's no sign of anyone trying to break in. I guess the water bowl theory was correct after all.

09/18/2007, 2:00 a.m.: I wake up for no apparent reason, then realize it's the same deal as last night. Willow barks, I sigh and grab the knife.

I sneak into the kitchen real slow and ninja-like. This time I left the light on out back, and there's clearly nobody there. This time, the sounds don't stop when I get close. They're coming from the kitchen sink; no, from the cupboards beside the sink; no, from the other set of cupboards. Only a very small midget could fit into my cupboards and move that fast. Unlikely. I come to the realization that it was something alive all along - probably mice or giant cockroaches - just not a human.

I'm not gonna do much critter killing with a knife, so I go back to bed and eventually get to sleep.

09/19/2007, 12:00 p.m.: I go to make Indian food, and my suspicions are confirmed. There's wet mouse shit all over the pots and pans.

Later, V looks in the other cupboards. There's shit everywhere. Either there are a lot of mice who just became our roommates, or it's one mouse with overactive bowels. I hope it's the latter.

I go to get mouse traps. In addition to the normal wooden ones, there are cardboard tents with glue on the bottom. Mice run into these, they get stuck, then they lie there all night until they dehydrate to death, have a heart attack out of fear, or someone kills them. No thanks. There are also plastic ones. The diagram on the package shows a line drawing of a hand squeezing the trap, and a little line-drawn mouse is falling directly into the garbage can. Touch-free operation, like it's changing the bag on a vacuum cleaner or something. I get a lump in my throat and consider turning around and just living with it. But shit in my food probably isn't healthy, so I skip the gooey tent of horrors and get the two less sickening deathtraps.

I load them up with peanut butter and discover that sleep is hard when you're constantly anticipating a loud snap that means you've just murdered something.

09/20/2007, 10:00 a.m.: I get up, check the traps. Nothing there. I do a double-take; nothing there. No peanut butter, no body. The little rat bastards managed to lick the peanut butter up without setting off the trap. I'm both happy for them and annoyed, and it's a weird feeling. Looking closer, there is shit all over the ground below the trap. Man they shit a lot. I redo the traps, putting PB right on the trigger this time.

09/20/2007, 11:12 p.m.: Just as I start writing this very blog post *, there's a snapping sound from the kitchen. I'm afraid to look. I won't be able to sleep tonight if I look. It can wait until morning.

Just before bed, I see one running across the floor. So it's a family, then.

09/21/2007, 9:00 a.m.: So there it is, this little creature that shares most of its DNA with mine, dead because of me. I do it quick, just like in the line drawings, not looking too close. I especially don't want to look at the underside, because then it might go from being an "it" to a "he" or a "she", and that would just be too much for me.

09/21/2007, 8:00 p.m.: As I update this post, another snap. Fuck!/Yay!

Well there you go. Another joy of owning a house, I guess.




* Astute readers will notice that yes, I write blog posts in advance sometimes. It's so people don't realize I'm loserish enough to have more than one thing to blab about in one day. Is that so wrong?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Food Logic Volume 5: Coffee + Maple Syrup

Premise 1: Pancakes go good with maple syrup.
Premise 2: Pancakes are a breakfast food.
Premise 3: Coffee is a breakfast food.

Conclusion: Coffee goes good with maple syrup.



OK I'm serious about this one. Sure, Starbucks and Second Cup have offered Maple Lattes before, but those use sugary fake syrup. Similarly, Aunt Jemima's maple-tinted racist-stereotype-recommended corn syrup goo will not do either. You need good old real Canadian maple syrup. Yes, the kind that costs $10.00 per bottle. Luckily you only need a tablespoon or so. Add extra sugar if you are so inclined, a bit of cream, and you're in maple heaven. It's like sucking the gunk straight from the maple tree, except with coffee. Mmmmm.

See also: Food Logic Volume 4 (Coffee + Cheese)

And stay tuned for the next installment, where I take this reasoning to the next level. Here is a sneak preview:

--> Coffee goes good with maple syrup.
--> Maple syrup goes good with bacon.

*************************

Update: My friend Nick sent me the following email pointing out that my logic was not as explicit as it should have been.

Hey dude. I got lazy and checked your blog. I read an entry devoted to your latest recipe, coffee plus maple syrup. I don't remember much of philosophy 222 (that logic course we both took, but at different times), but I think I've managed to properly symbolize your argument. Here it is...

A = pancake
B = thing that complements maple syrup
C = breakfast food
D = coffee

1. All A's are B's.
2. All A's are C's.
3. All D's are C's.
_____________

C: All D's are B's.

So, does that work? I don't see it...

Later,

Nick

P.S. Did you actually try mixing cheese into your coffee? Ech. I don't even drink coffee or eat cheese, but, ech.


And here is my response:

My gosh, you're right! Perhaps I imagined the delicious taste I experienced this morning.

Hmmm, no, that can't be. Maybe I can fix the logic by symbolizing it differently or adding in hidden premises.

I suppose the main hidden assumption throughout the food logic series is the following premise, which is true of all foods:

P1. If (X goes with Y AND Y goes with Z), then X goes with Z.

Add this to the installments before today's, substitute the foods for X, Y, and Z, and it's sound logic.

Today's is a bit different. We want to add categories in there; in this case, breakfast foods. But let's stick with conditional logic for a while so we can use P1.

To formalize today's food discovery:

X = Maple syrup.
Y = Pancakes.
Z = All breakfast foods.

1. P1
2. X goes well with Y
3. Y goes well with Z

Conclusion: X goes well with Z.

The third premise was not explicit in my original formulation, but should be self evident to any food connoisseurs like myself. We're not done yet though! We now know without a doubt that maple syrup goes well with all breakfast foods.

Now we can introduce the categorization:

C = coffee
B = breakfast foods
M = things that go well with maple syrup

1. All Bs are Ms [this follows from the first conclusion]
2. C is a B.

Final Conclusion: C is an M.

So there you go. Coffee goes well with maple syrup. That's a FACT.

P.S. No, I never tried the cheese one. But given the irrefutable logic which has now been formalized, it cannot possibly taste bad unless you reject all logic and science.

P.S.S. I'm going to post this conversation on my blog to rectify my horrible logic mistake.


I am happy that this important issue has come to a peaceful conclusion. OR HAS IT??? Please let me know if there are any more flaws. My sense of taste depends on it.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Your Brain Will Betray You

People are dumb. If they hear something that is unclear or ambiguous, they will hear whatever they want to hear, or whatever they are told to hear. And I don't mean they'll interpret "nice shoes" as a genuine comment when it was meant sarcastically; I mean people will actually hear completely different words depending on what they are expecting to hear. Even you are not immune to this.

Try this. Listen to the song embedded below. It's Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" backwards. Listen particularly to the section that starts at about 4:40 on the little timer.



Unless you've been exposed to this before, you probably heard random backwards gibberish, with maybe a few things that sounded like real words.

Now listen to the clip below:



It's the same song you heard before. The exact same noises reached your ears, but you probably heard completely different words than you did at the 4:40 mark in the previous clip. To prove it, go back and listen to it again if you'd like. After seeing the purported lyrics, I can't listen to it without hearing the Satanic message.

Of course, it's probably not really a Satanic message. We just look for the words we were told to look for in almost-random noises, and our brains make us find them. You could probably do this with almost any song. For example:



And with this in mind, I present to you the most fucked up thing you will see all day:





Edit: More of the same here.




Friday, September 14, 2007

One Hundred Original Ideas for Horror Movies (#25 - 30)

25. Ginger Snaps Red Dawn Dawn of the Red: A mysterious signal from space causes the people of Earth to have an irrational hatred of people with red hair. As the ginger holocaust forces the gingervitis-infected underground, they begin to breed an army of ginger kids trained to set fire to their foes...with their minds. The ginger army emerges, and the world is covered in their flames.

It's sorta like Village of the Damned, except creepier, and nothing like Village of the Damned.

Inspiration for this idea came from this.



26. Your Parents Having Sex: It's two hours of your parents having sex. Scariest movie ever.

27. P. O. Z.: The world's first zombie movie told from the perspective of the zombie. Here is an excerpt from the script:
  • Main Character: "Uuuungh."
  • Zombie 2: "Uuungh?"
  • Main Character: "Uuungh uungh. Nuuh, gu fuuuuugh."
  • Zombie 2: "Ghf! Nrrrguuh, uuuurgh duh iiuungh."
  • Zombie 2 gets shot in the head.
  • Main Character: "Uuuuungh."

28. Hypnautical: That's just a cool title. Let's say it's about...umm...an evil hypnotist on a boat? Who cares? Look at that title, man.



29. Cruise Control: Tom Cruise goes crazy - er, remains crazy - and decides to conquer the world. His first plan involved becoming an actor, joining a cult, jumping on couches, entering a doomed marriage with a younger woman, and eating her placenta. When this sequence of events failed to imbue him with unlimited power as he had hoped, he moved on to plan B:

Still bitter over his breakup with Nicole Kidman, Cruise teams up with his former enemy, the evil alien Lord Xenu, in his final attempt to both take over the world and get revenge on Kidman and all of her kind. He asks Xenu to send a mind-control signal from space that will cause irrational hatred of redheads. The world is covered in their flames.

----------

See also: One Hundred Original Ideas for Horror Movies, #24 - 25.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The "C" Must Stand for "Caring" and "Compassionate"

I heard the following on CNN this morning, after a story on the earthquake and possible tsunami in Indonesia today:

"If you have any friends or loved ones in Indonesia...please...call them...and ask them to send us any pictures or video that they have."

Seriously.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Book Review: I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson


I Am Legend is a difficult book to categorize. At first glance, it's a vampire novel; an accurate characterization, because yeah, there are vampires in it. But the deeper meaning and metaphors behind them, the structure of the story, and the situation the main character finds himself in, make it feel more like a zombie story. But even then, the focus isn't so much on the creatures, but on the main character and his inner struggles, making it more of a sappy drama. You could even argue convincingly that it's science fiction.

Given these overlapping categories, and the fact that I Am Legend came out in 1954 and has influenced subsequent generations of horror fiction, it could easily feel stale and cliche reading it today. It doesn't; I Am Legend still feels fresh and new, even to someone like me who has seen and read almost every piece of horror fiction released since I was born (and a lot from before that, too).

Part of its brilliance has to do with Matheson's writing, which gets right into the main character's head, and feels just detailed and realistic enough to relate to. There is also some ineffable eeriness to it. Certain mental images - like pudgy Ben Cortman standing outside, constantly yelling at Neville to come out - stick with me in a way that other authors' don't, for some reason. I Am Legend should be required reading for anyone even remotely interested in the horror genre.

A note about the upcoming movie of I Am Legend starring Will Smith: WTF? Judging from the trailer, the movie has almost nothing to do with the book. Will Smith can be an OK actor, but I really can't picture him pulling off the depressed, alcoholic, sexually frustrated, elderly Robert Neville from the book. No, I picture the Will Smith version romping around destroyed New York with his dog buddy (who must have had a good agent, because his role in the movie seems significantly expanded from his book counterpart), sharing feel-good moments, screaming "Aw HELL naw!" whenever he sees a vampire, then punching them in the face and spouting hilarious lines like "welcome to Earth". And that is really the opposite sort of character from the one in the book. I like a good end-of-the-world movie, and I'd probably be excited about this one if it didn't have the title "I Am Legend." It'd be better if it had only claimed to be loosely based on the novel, and had a title like...oh I dunno... "Fresh Prince of the Entire World."

Sunday, September 09, 2007

200 Bad Comics


Know how I've done the 100 Horror Movies thing? Well this guy has done something even awesomer by creating 200 bad comics. I think I'm addicted enough to go read every single one.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Magnets: Beyond Holding Things to Fridges


Some random but fascinating tidbits that I've learned while writing my comps today:
  • There are over fifty known sensory systems that have been identified in living things. Why, then, is a "sixth sense" seen as a far-out impossibility?
  • The genome of bacteria that can sense magnetic fields is only about 4.3 megabytes. All the information needed to create this organism could easily fit in an email attachment. The human genome is about 750 Mb. Bigger than a bacteria, but still smaller than Windows XP.
  • Magnetic structures, similar to those that allow the bacteria above to detect magnetic fields, have been found in a 4 billion year old meteorite from Mars. This is half a billion years older than the earliest known life on Earth. It suggests that the ability to detect magnetic fields may have been one of the first sensory systems to evolve, and that the ability to do so may have been brought to Earth from Mars.

While I still want to get this part of my comprehensive exams over with, it's actually turning out to be pretty cool. My paper involves the following kickass things: Ghosts, hallucinations, Jesus, pigeon navigation, The Virgin Mary, ESP, psychokinesis, turtle navigation, mental patients, God, airplane crashes, whale suicide, lobster navigation, and now, Martians.

References:

Kirschvink, J. L., Walker, M. M., & Diebel, C. E. (2001). Magnetite-based magnetoreception. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 11, 462-467.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

tv blog post ranting

omg did u see big brother tonight? it totally sux that jessica and eric are both gone becuz they were sooo cute together but now at least they can get it on in the jury house lol. but still i wish eric was there because eric was americas player and eric was my favorite character. the last thing he sez when he leaves the house is he sez I hope jen got aten by a shark ROFL!!1!

then i watched dont forget the lyrics and i thought it would be totally boring but it totally wasnt because its funny to see ppl sing bad or really good and forget the lyrics lol. but like wtf, it ruins it because it shows the whole show before every commercial break so u already know if their gonna get the song right or not and thats totally lame

o and i think the cartoon chicks in the strawberry mini wheats commercial are totally hot and i totally wanna put my wee-haw in there cartoon vajayjays roflolwtf

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Rotten Apple


Is it just me, or are Apple's new iPods sorta disappointing?

The Shuffle hasn't changed. The Nano does video and has a new interface, but looks fat and ugly (best comment I've seen about it: "does it do the truffle shuffle?"). What's now called the "Classic" has the new interface and looks pretty good, and got a storage increase, which is nice, but for me, not worth upgrading for.

What will be talked about most is the new iPod Touch. It is, almost literally, an iPhone without the phone. It has all the stuff that people have been asking for in the top-of-the-line iPod for years: A giant touch screen, a snazzy new interface, and most importantly, a wireless internet connection to connect to the iTunes store directly (and, I pray to Jobs, sync with a computer wirelessly). It even has some cool stuff nobody expected, like having a web browser and doing fun stuff while in a Starbucks location.



This is all awesome. If it stopped there, and we used logical assumptions to fill in the blanks, I'd currently be putting my old iPod and a few internal organs up on Ebay in order to pay whatever it could possibly cost to get my hands on one. Unfortunately, one of those logical assumptions turns out to be false. I'm talking about storage capacity. This is the most advanced, most expensive iPod ever. It looks like an iPhone, but its focus is on music and video. So you'd expect it to hold the most songs and videos, at least as much if not more than the Classic. But this assumption is wrong. The biggest Touch is only 16GB.



It looks like they took the "iPhone without the phone" part a bit too literally. Why would I want this new iPod, then, if it does less than the iPhone, but doesn't do much more? This sentiment is enhanced by the fact that Apple has also announced that the Touch's WiFi capabilities will be immediately available on the iPhone as well, and it has just dropped in price to only $100 more than the Touch.

I'd rather pay $100 more for the same device with a phone. But I'll do neither, not only because the iPhone still isn't available in Canada, but because 8GB, or even 16GB, isn't enough space to hold even a medium-sized music collection. Mine is already bigger than the previous 80GB ceiling, so even if I could afford it, using the Touch or iPhone as my primary iPod just isn't practical.

Why can't Apple just make one device that does everything? Fix the stupid problems with the iPhone, add a 160GB drive to it, and nobody could resist it.