Sunday, November 30, 2008

Done





Excerpt and stuff here.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Pushing Buttons

The other day, I was over at Zucket, and saw that Sass's musical friend Caitlin Burgess had played a show recently. At that show, she sold her CDs, along with a free button for anyone who bought one. Since I had bought her CD earlier, but did not get a free button, I was all like "waaaahhh I didn't get a free button!"

Then Caitlin Burgess got even awesomer than she was before, and sent me not one but TWO free buttons!



I promised to put one on my backpack. Because you know, I often stick stuff to my backpack, and, this happens all the time, people will come up to me and be like "what's that thing stuck to your backpack?" And I'll be like "it's a button for this up and coming musician," and they're like "you are awesome and talented yourself, so you must have good taste in music; thank you for the recommendation," and then when this happens enough, that musician will become popular and pretty much take over the world.

This happened with the Ramones back in '74 and I suspect it will happen again.



Oh, but here's a true story: Once I was outside Starbucks, and a girl came up to me and asked me with great enthusiasm, "where did you get that backpack???" I told her that I forget, since I've had the same backpack for like 12 years. Probably some place in Masonville mall.

Now look, my backpack is not all that fancy:



But then this girl, she said something vague like how it was a really nice backpack, and they were very rare and hard to find. And I was like "OK. Weird." But looking back on it, I think maybe she was just finding an excuse to talk to me and trying to pick me up, but I was my typical clueless self even though I think she was at least mildly attractive.

Uh, but, back on topic, Caitlin Burgess is awesome, both because she sent me buttons, and because of her truly beautiful music.

Here she is covering Umbrella:



Here is an original song:



If you like it, buy the CD cheap at eMusic, or wherever.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Book Review: Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk

In Snuff, Chuck Palahniuk takes on the world of porn. It's not like this is a big departure from his previous material (see my reviews for Invisible Monsters and Haunted), so he's right at home here. Snuff tells the story of an aging porn star who sets out to break the world gangbang record; 600 dudes in a row.

It's typical Palahniuk, with troubled characters, gross-out moments, shocking twists, "true facts" that may or may not be true, etc. It's a much simpler story than some of his others, feeling more like an extended, shallow short story than a complete novel, but it's an entertaining quick read for any fans of his previous work.

Snuff also has the best collection of porn movie titles I've seen. World Whore Three: The Whore to End All Whores is just the beginning.

Palahniuk's style does get a little grating after reading several of his books. Characters in his stories never really have conversations; they just talk to themselves while in close proximity. Sure, they're all a bit fucked up, but it would be nice if, just once in a while, characters actually responded to one another like normal people.

Also: I'll be happy if I don't have to read the words "shared meatloaf" ever again.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Kick a Ginger Day

BREAKING NEWS:



In addition to the general hilariousness of the story, look at the ad that showed up with it. That mom is totally ginger. Kick it! Kick it and kill it with fire!

Later in the same story:



Poor ginger race. Though you can't really blame people for their discrimination, given the danger that the ginger race poses to humanity (as depicted in the true horror story, Dawn of the Red).

And yeah yeah, I'm joking and it's horrible and sad that idiots are actually kicking people based on their hair colour, etc etc.

In other news, Madamerouge is a ginger omglol.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Movie Review: The Ruins (2008)

This is probably a perfect poster for The Ruins, because, like most movies, the less you know about it, the better. In short, it's about four people on vacation in Mexico, who bad stuff happens to. But there is a point in The Ruins, when you realize what the main premise really is, when you'll either write it off as the stupidest idea ever, or you'll just buy it and hang in for the ride.

Luckily, I'm in the latter category. The Ruins takes a simple idea, sets up some characters just enough so you care about them, weaves a simple plot around the idea, and takes it to its logical conclusion. It's not gonna win any awards for subtlety or depth, but there is a nice attention to detail, and it does what it does very well. And what it does is gross you out. Make you squirm in your seat. Maybe even barf a little.

As someone who's watched many, many horror movies, it takes a lot to accomplish that goal with me, but even I found my face twisting with horror at some of the stuff in this movie. If you're into that sort of thing, The Ruins is highly recommended.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Snowsquall Warning

One of the best things in the world is sitting down to write, sipping a nice hot coffee, with fresh snow covering the ground outside frosty windows.

And while there are many cases where less clothing is better, one of the most beautiful things in the world is a pretty girl bundled up in a nice winter jacket.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Uuungh Huungh Huuungh Huuuuungh

There's this group of undergraduate students that has set up camp down the hall from my office. They sit there all day, and I assume they are calling it "studying" because their textbooks are out, but really all they do is watch Youtube videos and laugh their asses off.

Now, I'm usually not a complainer, especially about noise, because hey, life is noisy, but dude, one of these guys, he has the most annoying laugh I have ever heard. It's all inhalation. All throat. It's like a goose honking for help while it chokes on vomit. Like Eddie Murphy if he had a head cold and brain damage. Like someone playing a broken trumpet while they have a seizure.

The worst part is that it's starting to rub off on his friends. One girl has adopted this same bizarre reaction to humour, except higher pitched. Maybe they don't realize that people actually, you know, use all those offices around them.

Now, an appropriate reaction to this post is: "Why are complaining in your blog instead of just going and politely asking them to quiet down?", and my appropriate reaction is: "Because I'm too much of a pussy. And also, fuck you. It's my blog. Whatever. I do what I want."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It's My Life and My Dream

I'm too busy writing a novel to go through the rite of writing to you right now. So here are some videos that have inspired me throughout my life. I hope they will inspire you too.

See if you can guess what they are just from the one frame Youtube chooses to show you before you press play. Play this game with your friends! C'mon, do it! JUST FUCKING DO IT!!!









And my favourite:



Saturday, November 08, 2008

Enjoyable Activity Suggestion


I think a fun thing to do if one is out and about, but getting bored, is to look around and imagine what everything would look like if the world were devastated by a nuclear war, and everything was destroyed all post-apocalypse style. You know, every tree a black skeleton, every car a burned out husk, every person a mutant, every building half-destroyed.

I've been playing too much Fallout 3, by the way.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

One Hundred Original Ideas for Horror Movies (#48 - 53)

As we hit the halfway mark, let's do something different. The next five non-specific ideas follow a common theme: Things that are usually present in horror movies, but really don't need to be (or at least, it would be interesting to see what happened if they weren't).

48. Less music = more scary.

The establishing shot of the city where the story takes place does not need to be accompanied by ominous creepy-little-kid-choir music. Save the atmospheric music for matching atmospheric visuals. Similarly, if scaaary string music is slowly building up to a climax as the helpless blonde chick is exploring the killer's house alone, you automatically know that one of three things will happen when the music reaches the height of its tension: A) The killer will jump out; B) A cat will jump out; C) A cat will jump out and then a second later the killer will jump out. Just once, I'd like to see a character going about their regular business, with no accompanying musical warning, and then the killer jumps out and rips their face off. No warning, it just happens. That's fucking scary.

49. Fear should stand out.

There is no need to make everything disturbing. If the script calls for someone to eat a hamburger, it doesn't need to be raw and bloody and run down a guy's face just because it's a horror movie. People don't need to trip and fall every time they run, but if someone does happen to run into a piece of furniture, they don't always need to get a head injury or lose a limb. Sometimes people just get minor bruises. Even in a horror movie, not every building needs to be creepy in every possible way. There don't need to be glassy-eyed severed animal heads lining the walls of every home. Not every light needs to flicker. The power doesn't need to go out every other day.

50. Not everything makes noise.

If movies were reality, every time someone was startled, a loud, high pitched squeal or orchestra hit would suddenly come out of thin air. In reality, the killer would probably freeze, look around, and say "what the hell was that?" That isn't very scary. I think it's equally ineffective in movies. If the only way to scare the audience is with a sudden loud noise, what's on screen probably isn't all that scary.

Also, people do not make swishing noises when they move. Neither do cameras. So why would there be swishes and screeches every time the point of view changes? Drawing attention to the camera is a sure-fire way to ruin immersion in a genre where immersion is key. Making it seem like the camera is in a wind tunnel, or being dragged along a steel floor, ruins immersion. I'm looking at you, Saw movies.

51. Flashes of random shit are stupid.

Remember that part in The Exorcist when the pale face of evil suddenly flashes on the screen so quickly that you can barely see it? That was scary. It's not scary when every horror movie since then has decided to insert random pictures and "frightening" faces between every scene transition. It's even dumber when accompanied by a high pitched squeal (see above). Do the characters get a case of titinus and hallucinate every time they enter a new situation? If not, stop showing me cheesy irrelevant crap.

52. Special effects are not scary.

I recently watched a zombie movie in which the first zombie appearing on screen started shaking in fast-motion and going all blurry, due to some camera effect. What? Did the zombie actually do that? Or is that representing the main character being confused and scared? Because you know, when I'm scared, the world doesn't go into time-lapse photography, and I don't see people doing things they're not actually doing. Distortions of reality can be fine when done right (the end of the Dawn of the Dead remake used shaky-cam to good effect, like a confusing nightmare), but only if there's a good reason for it. "Ooo, we got this new computer program that makes everything look blurry and shaky! That's a scary effect, right?" is not a good reason.

53. Know the rules, but don't always play by them.

A good horror movie is like a good piece of music. It follows the rules of composition that you expect, it sets up some of its own rules, but then, when the moment is right, it blows your mind by shattering expectations.

I think it was pretty brilliant when Drew Barrymore died right at the beginning of Scream. Expectations were set up that she would be the main character of the film, both in the movie and outside of it (e.g., being prominent on the poster, being the most recognizable actor), and then those expectations were obliterated.

At the same time, like good music, pace is everything. If a movie blows its load right at the start, it's gonna be flaccid for a while afterward. A slow build, getting more and more terrifying with every scene, is effective. Setting up expectations of a slow build, then having the terror jump out before its scheduled appearance, is even more effective.

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See also: 100 Original Ideas for Horror Films, #43 to #47.

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Note: This post was in the works for a while, but I was inspired to finally publish it by a dude named Eli, who emailed me asking for some input about horror movies because he is interested in shooting an independent horror film. I hope my opinions here are useful in some way, and good luck with the project.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

First Impressions: MacBook Pro, 15" Unibody Late 2008 Amazicrazy Model

So most of my writing time this month will be taken up by NaNoWriMo rather than blogging.

But here are some first impressions of the MacBook Pro:

I love it and want to marry it. Marry it and buy it nice things and have babies with it. There is only one flaw with the MacBook pro, and that is its unibody enclosure does not have the holes required for us to fully explore our relationship 1.

I'll write more after I'm done writing a novel on it.




1 Also, when its moisture detectors get all fired up, it voids the warranty.