Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy Holidays and show changes



Happy Holidays everyone!

Hope you are all stuffed with turkey or ham or whatever it is you're eating during the holiday season.

No complaints here.

Just wanted to post an update for those of you who aren't on the facebook group.

After some discussion, we've decided to tweak the format of the show a little.

No, Adam is still going to be an asshole and yes he will still be saying things that will make his wife wonder why she married him and yes I will still be the glue to hold the show together.

But a good chunk of you have been talking to us about how we could improve the show and we took a lot of the comments into consideration and here's what's going to be happening.

1 Hour Episodes
The first thing we're changing is shortening the length of the episodes. Instead of going a whole two hours, we're going to one hour. Now this change won't necessarily apply to "special" episodes like Anime North or Fan Expo. We are currently debating whether special episodes will be posted in one or two parts but we'll climb that mountain when we get to it. Shortening the episodes will hopefully allow for:

More Episodes
We are hoping that by shortening the episodes, it will allow for us to do more of them. Now Adam and I are also going to be trying to set up a regular schedule for when we would tape. The idea at the moment is to record every second weekend and in the instances where this isn't possible, we'll tape two episodes in one day.

Now keep in mind, these changes won't occur until the taping of our next regular episode. But in the meantime, here's what we've got in store for everyone.

Next Episode: One Year Extravaganza!
Next up to the plate is our one year anniversary episode. We taped this back in November, live at the Fox and Fiddle downtown and honestly, if it sounds good, it will be an episode of awesome. Nerds with Guitars was our house band for the entire night and guests included Jason Agnew from Bite TV (best known to nerds as the guy with the glasses from The Conventioneers), David Poulsen from D.Ace Games and Mike Nicolas from The Anime Round Table. We gave away prizes and it was a crap load of fun.

Up Coming Interviews:
I can confirm that I will be doing a phone interview with Juliet Landau sometime in Janurary. Juliet is probably best known for playing Drusilla in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the tv show) but has just wrapped production on a small documentary about the creative process of Gary Oldman (yes THAT Gary Oldman) called Taking Flight. Last word was we'd be talking the doccumentry, Buffy and the fact she appeared in the best movie Tim Burton has made, Ed Wood.

Also coming up is an interview with Alex Gamble. Alex is one of the organisers and editors on the fan made Nine Inch Nails' dvd project Another Version Of The Truth that Adam and I discussed about a year ago.

Conventions
I can also confirm the fact that Adam and I will be appearing at Wizard World Toronto thanks to the wonderful people at Comic Book Daily. We will NOT be doing a show from the event but we will be trying to gather interviews and such and recording around what we get back at the studio.

We will also be attending Anime North and we will be taping a show or two there. We have planned a new segment that should be pretty good.

Put it this way, if you liked "Alex Talking to Hot Chicks" from Fan Expo, you will definitely enjoy something that we're trying to set up for this convention.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mystery Asshole Theatre Xmas Special 2009 - He-Man & She-Ra - A Christmas Special



You don't need to tell me what an obscenely long title that is. I'm aware. I just typed it.

This year, the Two Assholes (plus Guesthole #2, Alex Krueger) decided that we should do something a little special for our readers/listeners this holiday season. So, we give you the closest thing we can manage to an ugly Christmas sweater.

We managed to dredge up the campiest, oldest, cheesiest Christmas special from our childhoods that we could manage, and did up a commentary track to it. Believe me, this commentary is going to make the whole thing go a lot smoother.

Now, we understand that finding this particular video might be a little difficult, but we're fairly certain that with a little hard work, and some appropriately applied moxie, you'll figure out a solution to that particular problem.

So, pull up a nice refreshing Rum n' Nog, and enjoy yourselves some Assholes n' 80's Campiness for the holiday season.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Music That Rocks #6



I have no idea where this is from but it is Sum 41 teaming up with Tenacious D in a song called "Things I want" and despite the fact that Sum 41 is involved, it kicks ass.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Episode 16



Due to the unique nature of the production of Episode 15 (primarily in that it took 2 attempts at it), our productions continued unabated, and the Two Assholes were left with not one, but two live shows that had yet to make it to air.

So, here's the first of them. On October 31, 2009, the Two Assholes, with special guest Pete DeCourcy (from Comic Book Daily), attended at the Blue Beetle Comics, in Barrie, Ontario, to do a show in the middle of the store. So, we all did our thing for a good hour, discussing comic books, scary movies, Astro Boy, and nudity on cable TV. Everything went off without a hitch (except for banana-time), and Pete fits in very well with our usual schtick. Unfortunately, because this is a live show, Pete hasn't yet earned a Guesthole number. Feel free to email him and pester him to make an appearance on a regular episode so that he can earn that coveted prize.

Episode 16 (High Quality)



Due to the unique nature of the production of Episode 15 (primarily in that it took 2 attempts at it), our productions continued unabated, and the Two Assholes were left with not one, but two live shows that had yet to make it to air.

So, here's the first of them. On October 31, 2009, the Two Assholes, with special guest Pete DeCourcy (from Comic Book Daily), attended at the Blue Beetle Comics, in Barrie, Ontario, to do a show in the middle of the store. So, we all did our thing for a good hour, discussing comic books, scary movies, Astro Boy, and nudity on cable TV. Everything went off without a hitch (except for banana-time), and Pete fits in very well with our usual schtick. Unfortunately, because this is a live show, Pete hasn't yet earned a Guesthole number. Feel free to email him and pester him to make an appearance on a regular episode so that he can earn that coveted prize.

Avatar Review








This may get very film nerdy very fast so bare with me.



Only out for a few days and Avatar is already getting a lot of interesting reviews. They seem to range from awesome to meh.



This review will probably be no exception.



To sum up my opinion on Avatar in a quick bite sized line, it's very used story done so spectacularly well that you forget that you've seen the same story (more or less) dozens of times.



...that may not make as much sense as it did in my head... maybe I should explain.



For those of you who don't know (from what I gather in the theater I sat in, a lot of people are going to see this with no clue what the film is about) Avatar is about a guy named Jake (Sam Worthington). Jake is a marine who was paralysed in a conflict in Venezuela. Unfortunately while technology got better in this future, health care didn't. Jake could get his back and legs fixed but doesn't have the cash for it. In the meantime he had a twin brother who was a scientist. Said brother had signed up for the Avatar program on the jungle moon of Pandora.



Unfortunately, Jake's brother died and the company is left with a very expensive avatar that was grown for him. Being a twin, the company figures Jake is a good second place and brings him out to Pandora.



The company and a group of scientists are using avatars (human hybrid Na'vi clone thingys) to study and communicate with the local aliens, the Na'vi. The company in order to try and move them out of an area that is rich with Unobtanium (a mineral that sells for a crap ton of money on Earth) and the scientists to study the people.



Jake is made a deal by Col Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) that if he can get intel on the Na'vi and get them to move, Quaritch will get his back and legs repaired.



But while Jake is in his avatar he becomes kind of the chosen one for the Na'vi and then starts to see all of the awesomeness of being a Na'vi and living on Pandora. He even takes a liking to one of their women, Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) who is teaching him in the ways of the Na'vi.



This does not jive well with the company and well you can probably take it from here.



James Cameron has always been really good at taking stories we know and turning them into something fantastic. If you look through his resume of films from Terminator to Avatar, none of them have an original concept at their core. But it's the details that he throws in the scripts that make them great.



While you can easily compare the story for Avatar to Dances with Wolves and Ferngully (I'm serious, Avatar shares a lot with Ferngully) the details that have been added in the screenplay make it a bit more unique.



And then we get to the film itself.



WOW.



Now I only got the chance to screen it in 3D not in IMAX 3D (I got to the theater around 2pm, all IMAX showings were sold out for the day) but as I said, wow.



The recent rise of 3D has worried me a bit. Everyone seems to want to use it these days and I'm all for it if it is used well. The problem with the technology is it can sometimes hamper the rest of the film. My Bloody Valentine (the most recent one) is a great example. Great use of 3D but I probably won't ever watch the film again. Certainly not in 2D.



Avatar uses a lot of 3D and a lot of CG but at no point does either feel gimmicky. A lot of the 3D for instance is background and set. The CG feels very much "real" as you forget that these things don't really exist and you just dig the whole thing.



But most importantly, it feels like a Cameron directed film.



The problem with CG usage on such a heavy scale tends to be the fact that director's voice gets lost. James Cameron's previous films have a distinct look and style to them. Camera moves, lighting, etc, when you see one of his films, you can usually tell it's his work. I'm happy to report that Avatar feels the same way.



And the cast isn't crappy either.



A pretty awesome ensemble cast was created for this film and I was impressed by most of the performances. Standouts include Sam Worthington and Stephen Lang. And I'm not just saying this out of fear of Lang coming to kick my ass. Worthington is quickly becoming an actor that I will go to see.



Yes I saw Termiantor: Salvation and yes I liked it. So there.

Overall a fantastic film experience from top to bottom (with the exception of the concession staff at Colossus but I can't blame Avatar for that). I may check it out again in IMAX in a few weeks to see how it rates in IMAX and for a second viewing.

I'd even go so far to say as it almost makes up for Titanic.



One more awesome movie should about do it.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Music That Rocks #5



We've heard various versions of Run, Run Rudolph over the years.

But this one features Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) and Lemmy (Motorhead)!


Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Music The Rocks #4



I'm not familiar with the band Fucked Up.

I know they are somewhat of a local outfit, they are pretty much DIY punkers for the most part and they won the Polaris prize this year (and for any band named Fucked Up, winning any kind of award where they have to announce you is pretty awesome).

But needless to say I did become intrigued when they decided to gather a bunch of musicians and...um...er various other people to do a rocking cover of "Band Aid's Do They Know It's Christmas?"

The line up includes The GZA, Andrew W.K., actor David Cross, Tegan and Sara, Bob Mould and more.

And most importantly, the proceeds from the song go to a number of charities dealing with aboriginal women and issues that have not been significantly looked at by the powers that be.

Justice for Missing and Murdered Ingigenous Women
DTES Power of Women Group
Sisters in Spirit

If you can spare the buck, it's worth the download on itunes.

Don't believe me?

Check it out below.


Dan O'Bannon RIP





Please excuse the myriad of spelling and grammar errors that might end up being in this piece but I felt it was pretty important to get this out fast as I don't want this death to go unnoticed.

Dan O'Bannon is a name that probably isn't too familiar with a lot of newer sci-fi and horror fans but it should be. Take one look at his career and you'll notice a lot of places that birthed something amazing.

During his time at the University of Southern California, O'Bannon met and began working with a young USC student, John Carpenter on what eventually became Dark Star.

Quaint by our standards, at the time, Dark Star was very impressive for a low budget sci fi film. Dan wore a lot of hats during the production but specifically was an actor, co-screenwriter and special effects artist on the film. His work even garnered a Golden Scroll award in the special effects category (The Golden Scrolls are now The Saturn Awards). It was on Dark Star that O'Bannon met designer Ron Cobb.

From here Carpenter went on to Assault on Precinct 13 and Dan went on to Dune.

The Dune that never was.

As you can tell by my previous article on the aborted Alejandro Jodorowsky version of Dune, while the film could have been fantastic on many accounts, the one legacy it did leave was introducing Dan O'Bannon to H.R. Giger and french comic book artist Moebius.

When Dune came to a screeching halt, O'Bannon found himself back in California, broke and living on his friend Ron Shusett's couch. Dan began getting back into screenwriting and began working on a sci fi script he had been tinkering with. He also began helping Ron with a short story that Shusett had got the rights to by Philp K. Dick but before that would really get going, Dan took a detour back into special effects in order to pay some bills.

George Lucas had seen Dark Star and impressed by the effects, grabbed Dan to help with the computer/animation effects on Star Wars. It wasn't much work, basically brought on to help them through the crunch, the money from the job set Dan up with an apartment and a little time to work on this pet project he'd been writing at Shusett's place. It was kind of a re-write of Dark Star but instead of comedy in space it was more of a horror film. And instead of a beach ball monster, it would be something a little scarier.

The script was titled Alien.

Now it's been disputed for many years who wrote what on Alien with law suits and accusations flying every which way but the fact remains that Dan O'Bannon wrote the intial scripts, fostered the story along with Shusett and brought in the idea of having HR Giger, Ron Cobb and Moebius working on various production designs on the film. Even taking out the conjecture of who wrote what, Dan O'Bannon was essential to what we saw on screen.

Period.

And Alien much like Star Wars before it, was a game changer. It ended up influencing a whole generation of writers and film directors not only in sci fi but horror as well.

He then wrote segments for the classic Heavy Metal animated film (specifically the segments Soft Landing and B-17) as well as cult helicopter film Blue Thunder and vampire space film, Lifeforce.

In 1985 O'Bannon finally got a chance to direct as well write with Return of the Living Dead.


Return of the Living Dead was on off shoot Night of the Living Dead. Producer John Russo had split retained the rights for using Living Dead in the title of his films and brought Dan on board as a writer and director.


O'Bannon did two things. The first thing he did was incorporate more humor into the zombie film. The second was make the zombies faster.


Two little things that have now helped spawned a sub genre (known as Splatstick) and a style of zombie that is used in everything from film (28 Days Later, the Dawn of the Dead remake) to video games (Left 4 Dead being a prime example).


After Return of the Living Dead, things began to heat up on the other script he had been working on with Ron Shusett. Based on Dick's short story, "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale", Total Recall had gone through long stages of development and developmental hell. Richard Dryfuss was attached to appear in it at one point. Another version had David Cronenberg directing. But eventually Arnie came walking in and got film company Carlco to buy it then brought on Paul Verhoven to direct.


It went on to be a box office hit.


While some of his later works are not so memorable or deviated from his original treatments but there is no denying the impact Dan O'Bannon made to film and pop culture.


Rest in peace Dan O'Bannon.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Music That Rocks #3



If you've listened to the podcast a couple of episodes, you've probably noticed my taste in hip hop is more or less old school.

So what better way to celebrate another day of Christmas Music That Rocks by seeing how Christmas is celebrated in Hollis.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Music That Rocks #2



Remember how yesterday I mentioned that doing a holiday themed album was usually the start of the downward slide of your career?

Well one of the exceptions to this rule has been Twisted Sister.

Yup, the "We're Not Going To Take It" guys.

While not a one hit wonder (they had at least two or three), Twisted Sister was pretty much out the door and disbanded by the times Nirvana kicked the door on top of hair metal. But a couple of years ago they quietly reformed and then shortly after that, they recorded a Christmas album... which not only wasn't bad, it garnered a fair amount of attention (for whatever reason) and actually helped resuscitate their career.

Guess the 4th gift Jesus should have gotten is hairspray.

Without further ado, Twisted Sister with their version of I'll Be Home For Christmas.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Music That Rocks# 1



Hey guys, going to do this once a day until Christmas.

Once a day...crap, hope I don't run out of ideas.

Anyways, as a rule, unless it is the standards (Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, etc) I generally despise Christmas music. In fact it's of my opinion that 97% of the time, if you release a Christmas album, you are in it for the money. A single is okay, a whole album is just usually crap.

Tori Amos, I'm looking at you.

But the season does occasionally lead to um..er.. interesting tunes and first up is a brand new one from my favorite Uncle, Al Jourgensen.

Got to give the man credit, he has written tons of great industrial material as well as a theme song for The Chicago Blackhawks and now a Christmas tune for his wife and Ministry's departed base player Paul Raven.

The tune was created along with Mark Thwaite (The Mission U.K., Peter Murphey amongst others) and to be honest, rather catchy.

Be forewarned, the start of the following video, not very work safe.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Episode 15 (Super High Quality)



It took a surprisingly long time to get this one finished, but the latest episode is now ready, and you now get to watch the Two Assholes, plus the full complement of Guestholes, killing zombies in Left 4 Dead 1 and 2. As seems to be standard with our video game episodes, this one is long. In fact, it's approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes long, but I assure you that you'll enjoy all of it.

We had some technical difficulties with this Episode, given that it should have been ready to post nearly a month ago. Originally, Episode 15 was supposed to be a Beatles Rock Band episode (which you'll often hear referred to as the Beatles Rock Band debacle, fiasco, or disaster). Accordingly, we got Guestholes 1 and 4 together, and threw down. For a number of reasons, the audio cut out, and sounded horrible, so the whole thing had to be scrapped.

By the time we got everyone around to doing another video episode, we had already recorded two more audio episodes (which will arrive shortly as Episodes 16 and 17). To make matters worse, the video and audio of this episode (which are always recorded separately) somehow managed to get de-synced, with the video being slightly faster than the audio. To fix this, I had to spend all week trying to find the perfect tempo for the audio so that it would properly match the video. It isn't perfect, but it's pretty close. You won't be confused by the audio content, in any event.

So, without further ado, let's kill some fucking zombies!

Episode 15 (High Quality)



It took a surprisingly long time to get this one finished, but the latest episode is now ready, and you now get to watch the Two Assholes, plus the full complement of Guestholes, killing zombies in Left 4 Dead 1 and 2. As seems to be standard with our video game episodes, this one is long. In fact, it's approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes long, but I assure you that you'll enjoy all of it.

We had some technical difficulties with this Episode, given that it should have been ready to post nearly a month ago. Originally, Episode 15 was supposed to be a Beatles Rock Band episode (which you'll often hear referred to as the Beatles Rock Band debacle, fiasco, or disaster). Accordingly, we got Guestholes 1 and 4 together, and threw down. For a number of reasons, the audio cut out, and sounded horrible, so the whole thing had to be scrapped.

By the time we got everyone around to doing another video episode, we had already recorded two more audio episodes (which will arrive shortly as Episodes 16 and 17). To make matters worse, the video and audio of this episode (which are always recorded separately) somehow managed to get de-synced, with the video being slightly faster than the audio. To fix this, I had to spend all week trying to find the perfect tempo for the audio so that it would properly match the video. It isn't perfect, but it's pretty close. You won't be confused by the audio content, in any event.

So, without further ado, let's kill some fucking zombies!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Episode 15



It took a surprisingly long time to get this one finished, but the latest episode is now ready, and you now get to watch the Two Assholes, plus the full complement of Guestholes, killing zombies in Left 4 Dead 1 and 2. As seems to be standard with our video game episodes, this one is long. In fact, it's approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes long, but I assure you that you'll enjoy all of it.

We had some technical difficulties with this Episode, given that it should have been ready to post nearly a month ago. Originally, Episode 15 was supposed to be a Beatles Rock Band episode (which you'll often hear referred to as the Beatles Rock Band debacle, fiasco, or disaster). Accordingly, we got Guestholes 1 and 4 together, and threw down. For a number of reasons, the audio cut out, and sounded horrible, so the whole thing had to be scrapped.

By the time we got everyone around to doing another video episode, we had already recorded two more audio episodes (which will arrive shortly as Episodes 16 and 17). To make matters worse, the video and audio of this episode (which are always recorded separately) somehow managed to get de-synced, with the video being slightly faster than the audio. To fix this, I had to spend all week trying to find the perfect tempo for the audio so that it would properly match the video. It isn't perfect, but it's pretty close. You won't be confused by the audio content, in any event.

So, without further ado, let's kill some fucking zombies!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Hogan on The Surf on Dec 8th 10pm Bite Tv!





Hey guys.

As is been made public many times, We at TATANS are fans of Bite Tv and we love the friendship we've cultivated over the last year with the station.

It's also pretty evident that I am a rather big wrestling fan. So when Jason announced that they were going to have Hulk Hogan on, I was rather impressed and happy for The Surf.

Despite many factors, Hogan is a rather big deal. Love him or hate him, Hogan is the reason pro wrestling is as big as it is.

I'm sure wrestling fan or not, Agnew's interview with Hogan will be interesting to watch.

And you never know, a familiar voice to TATANS listeners may be chiming in with a question.

So tune in Dec 8th, 10pm on Bite Tv!

Ninja Assassin review and why it ain't getting the love it should.





Yeah I know, probably a little late to the review table on this one but I do have a life.

Sort of.

Anyways, finally got to check out this flick and well... it's about a good ninja that kills a lot of bad ninjas.

How could that not be awesome?

Alright, alright, I'll go a little more in depth.

Raizo (South Korean entertainer Rain) is a ninja. Been raised from birth to be a ninja. He's pretty damn good at it. Unfortunately due to a female ninja, Raizo is a ninja with a heart. And when you kill dozens of people with throwing stars, having feelings is not a good thing.

So Raizo goes off the reservation, betrays his clan and starts knocking them off.

Mika (Naomie Harris from Pirates of the Carribean and 28 Days later) is a Europol agent (more less a librarian) that has discovered ninjas exist and they kill people.

Coincidental, the most bad ass of the clans she learns about is the same one Raizo was from.

Bad ninjas go after her, he goes after them.

The movie ain't rocket science.

But it is awesome.

The best way to explain it is it's like watching a live action anime. It's like a live action modern Ninja Scroll but with better English dialogue. People not only get cut up they get vivisected. Kudos to everyone involved in the film for somehow getting the ratings people in the states to give you an R. You made Quentin Tarrantino jealous.

I enjoyed the crap out of this film.

So why am I alone here?

I'm surprised by the fact that the geek media hasn't embraced this film as much as I have. Aint It Cool seems to be the only one who has really acknowledge it and the reviews have been mixed.

I know this movie is not high art but it's a lot of fun.

I think part of the problem is the Wachowski Brothers.

While they are only producers on this goreific title, their name is floated around more then director James McTeigue and quite frankly, they've got three bad movies to their credit that they have yet to make up for with the Fan Boy public and I think it's being unfairly taken out on this film.

Yes the two sequels to The Matrix were crap but you can't blame them if you thought that Speed Racer was going to be awesome. If I've said once, I've said it a dozen times, you can't turn shit into chocolate. Speed Racer was never a good cartoon, why did you think the movie might be?

Beyond that, the Wachowski's don't suck up to the fan boy crowd. They don't do interviews (for various reasons) or press of any kind and while I agree they have a right to privacy, I think this overall lack of communication from them is starting to hurt.

Their last batch of films (and while better received, V for Vendetta had it's detractors) have gotten reamed by critics on all sides and due to their press stance, it almost appears they don't care. If they really believed in a film wouldn't they at least come out with a press release saying "Fuck you Entertainment Weekly!"?

And it's not fair.

For an action film, this movie is great. It's not too long, gets to the point and you get exactly what you order.

So if you are a fan of anime or of action in general, highly recommended.

And in the meantime, here's a dance off between Rain and Colbert.


Friday, November 27, 2009

RE: Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement



This is in response to two of Alan Cross's articles, which you can read here:
Part 1

You would be wise to go off and read them now, as much of what I will be saying herein will make just about no sense without having done so. I'm a patient man. I'll wait here.

Finished? Good.

First of all, it should be noted that I have a substantial degree of respect for Alan Cross, and just about everything he does. Accordingly, no one should view this response as me talking shit about him, but merely a critical response to his post. Alan and the Two Assholes have always had quite a good working relationship (We even have a good interview of him
here.), and I don't want anyone to think that this article is in any way an attempt to stifle that.

Second, I'm going to revert to somewhat of an intellectual, legal speaking tone, as this isn't me ranting about how awesome the Ninja Turtles or Mega Man are. This is, after all, a serious topic.

Alan has cited a number of blogs and other online postings which seem to mirror his concerns about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (hereinafter "ACTA"), but I always find it more helpful to go straight to the source documentation. This is a practice bred not only out of my time served in academic facilities, but also due to the fact that I am a practicing lawyer. Review of legal texbooks are useful at times, but really tend to give you more of a gloss-over of the real factors to be considered, and are of very little utility before a judge or other judicial officer. In short, you need to go straight to the case law, statutes, and whatever other source documentation is applicable.

Here is the wikileaks article containing the leaked document that is being referred to by a great deal of the cited sources. The download link is near the bottom. You'll note that this is a Discussion Paper that was "reportedly provided to select lobbyists in the intellectual property industry". What this really is is a layout of some of the types of things that the U.S. government may want to see put into the ACTA. You'll note that even the most specific of potential provisions aren't that specific.

Here is the Government of Canada's official policy on Tabling of Treaties in Parliament. This is the mechanism by which all treaties are adopted in Canada. Given the scope of new enforcement regimes that Alan and a number of other people on the internet are concerned with, ratification of the treaty will be required by the passing of domestic legislation, in addition to the fact that treaties have to be tabled in the House of Commons (which gives MPs an opportunity to respond or attempt to defeat the acceptance of the treaty by a parliamentary motion).

Here is the government's official page providing all of the documentation that it has made available at present with regard to the ACTA. You'll note that the government has sought, and is constantly seeking, public input with regard to the ACTA, and they have even published a number of the submissions made to them thus far.

Now that all of the source documentation has been pointed out, let's move directly to deal with Alan's assertions with regard to the ACTA.

First of all, treaties are always drafted to some degree "in secret", primarily because the entire process would be exceptionally bogged down if the negotiating parties had to seek public approval at every single step of drafting. This would be the same as if lawyers engaging in a negotiation on the part of a client had to stop every single time a term was being discussed, to go off and consult the client. It's far more efficient, and makes infinitely more sense to have an initial consultation, negotiate the agreement amongst the lawyers, and then return with a finished draft for approval or rejection by the client. That's precisely what is ongoing in this case amongst the negotiating parties to the ACTA. They will hammer out specific terms, and then return home and put the finished draft treaty before their respective governments for approval or rejection. If enough countries reject the draft, then it will likely go back for renegotiation. If only a few reject it, then the treaty stands, but only among those who choose to be bound by it.

Bullet 1 - Firstly, if sites are perfectly legal, then they will not, and cannot by definition, run afoul of the enforcement of copyright. Secondly, by looking at the discussion paper referred to above, the only portion dealing with ISPs is a section near the end where it proposes measures to protect ISPs from any liability should they cooperate with rights holders. There is no suggestion, as there is for other groups, that ISPs should be entitled to some powers to filter or determine copyright infringement on an
ex officio basis. Rather, the suggestion is that other laws (presumably privacy legislation) be relaxed where ISPs are requested to cooperate with rights holders. For reference, Rogers, one of Canada's largest ISPs already is in the routine of monitoring certain traffic, and sending out correspondence to its subscribers where such has been requested by rights holders. In short, what is actually proposed is only a small step above what already goes on in Canada, and is about the same as what already goes on in the U.S.

Bullet 2 - The sort of rule that Alan is talking about here seems to be based upon the UK's "Three Strikes" rule which was intended to go into effect. The UK, however, has scaled the plan back, and no longer intends to simply cut off internet access, but only send warnings at first. You can read about it
here. This proposed law came as a result of an EU decision that member countries are now permitted to use technical measures such as cutting off internet access, in order to reduce piracy.

Bullet 3 - Eliminating the ability to make a back-up copy of any media would require substantial changes to the Copyright Act, and will likely attract some measure of Charter scrutiny, as the law would effectively involve the government controlling individual, private use of wholly-owned property.

Bullet 4 - Based upon the discussion paper above, this seems like it may be a misstatement. The discussion paper deals with the seizure of infringing "goods". Electronic data is not a "good", but the media that it is on may be. However, and iPod, or any other digital audio player is unlikely to infringe on a copyright in and of itself. In short, while such a rule may impact upon pirated CDs or DVDs (and in fact, the discussion paper does specifically mention optical media), or counterfeit music players themselves, it isn't going to impact upon media files on a perfectly legal device such as an iPod. Even if such a measure somehow managed to make its way into a treaty that Canada both signed, and ratified, it's unlikely to survive Charter scrutiny, as it would become wholly impossible to mount a defence to the accusations.

The ACTA won't even be at a final draft stage until sometime in 2010, and the government will then have to jump through the hoops of approval and ratification of the terms of the treaty. This will take a significant amount of time, and a considerable amount of effort on behalf of the government based upon two factors:
A) We have a minority government in place. This means that the government can't make moves that all of the opposition parties are going to oppose.
B) Since Bill C-61 was proposed by the Conservative government, Canadians have been pretty up in arms about the possibility of more radical steps being taken to enforce copyright. Bill C-61 was left to die for a reason. The country is not yet Conservative enough to accept it.

What's my point, through all of this?

It's two-fold.

Firstly, everyone should educate themselves. In the internet age we have a tendency to rely very heavily on secondary and tertiary sources such as blogs, online news sites, and wikipedia. The problem with this is that levels of summary can often obscure the actual fact with interpretation. The fact itself is what you need to know, not what someone else might think that it implies.

Secondly, the ACTA isn't something to fear at this stage, and it would be imprudent to begin to fear the adoption of a law, or laws, the substance of which is based upon rumour, conjecture, and leaked documents. Should you be somewhat concerned about possible ramifications? Yes, but there's no sense being worried, or being "very afraid", until we have some solid, actual sense of what this treaty will entail.

By all means, however, make your voices heard to the government, and let them know what you're not willing to tolerate. You do elect these people, after all, and if enough of you will only vote for the political party that will oppose such measures, then the government will either listen, or be voted out of office.

Disclaimer - Adam is a lawyer, but he's not your lawyer. None of the foregoing is legal advice, nor should it be construed that way. If you need legal advice, go find your own lawyer.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I Sell The Dead DVD Review






Now if you've been following my movie reviews of what Anchor Bay has been sending me the last little while you know it's been a mixed bag at best. Loved the Hellraiser dvds. Imurder...not so much.

So when I Sell The Dead arrived at my door, I tried not to get my hopes up.

Sure it co-starred Ron Pearlman who can bring quality to any part he plays despite a film being a big floating turd. But this was a period piece on a very low budget. So with some trepidation I put the disc in the dvd player.

And thankfully I was rewarded with a nice little comedic horror flick.

I Sell the Dead stars Dominic Monaghan (from Lost and former hobbit), Larry Fessenden (who also serves as a producer on the film but still brings the noise as an actor in it) and Ron Pearlman (Hellboy, lord among character actors) with an appearance by Angus Scrimm (the Tall Man from the Phantasm series).

Set in the 17 or 1800's (it never gives a clear date...not like it's needed), Arthur Blake (Monaghan) and Willie Grimes (Fessenden) steal bodies and sell them to medical science. It works out alright for them but when business really picks up is when they start dealing with the undead and selling them to medical science. Eventually the two are accused of murder and the story is told in flashback as Blake speaks to Father Duffy (Pearlman) about his past adventures.

While I was watching the movie it reminded me a lot of the old Roger Corman drive-in movies that I used to watch on late night tv. Decent script, decent actors, no budget but yet had a charm to it that over came the fact that the set in the Pit and the Pendulum was then transferred and dressed up with plants for Little Shop of Horrors.

I instantly fell in love with Blake and Grimes and their ridiculous adventures. Stealing bodies, waking vampires, finding aliens, the characters, while we don't find out a heck of a lot about them, they seem to be completely there from the moment they hit the screen. Fessenden in particular really grabbed me as Grimes, the grave robber with a heart of gold.

The film itself I would describe as a comedy with strong horror overtones. And well written. Unlike a lot of other indy horror flicks I've sat through, at the end of the movie, I did not feel like I wasted over an hour of my life and I didn't feel like a moron for giving this movie a chance.

In fact my only complaint about the movie is I want more! At 85 minutes it ends just as the story is getting good. It would make a great pilot for a tv series which I would watch religiously every week. But hey, if they want to make full length sequels, I'd be more then happy with that.

As for the tech specs, the picture quality is great, the sound mix is alright in 5.1 surround and it even comes with a few extras including a one hour making of, commentary by the director and the two stars and a full small graphic novel adaptation in the dvd case.

The film is being distributed by Anchor Bay here in Canada and made by Glass Eye Pix's Scareflix division.

So good was this film that I will gladly sit through any other movies they will come out with even if they are only half as good as this one.

In short, this is a buy or at the very least a rent. Please do one or the other cause I want a sequel!


I Sell The Dead is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.

What Might have Been #2



Welcome back to another installment of What Might Have Been. This is where I take a look at movies and TV shows that nearly came about, but either fell apart before they became a reality, or in the process of filming. The first article got so much favorable response I decided to try it again.


Alien 3 by William Gibson

Alien 3 is one of those weird junkyard movies (pun not intended). A lot of what we saw on screen was a script cobbled together from bits and pieces of other drafts. This is not entirely unusual in Hollywood; right off the top of my head, a good example I can think of is the first X-Men film.

But the really interesting thing about Alien 3 was, beyond the cobbling, there were at least two other scripts developed that never really appeared in the finished product. One was by screen writer Eric Red, best known as a writer who worked on the original The Hitcher and Near Dark.

The other was by William Gibson.

While not a huge household name, William Gibson is probably recognized as one of the most influential science fiction writers of the last 50 years. Gibson along with a few others created the genre of cyberpunk which not only influenced other writers but music and art. He also happens to be the man who coined the term “cyberspace”.

Somewhere in the late 80's, the powers-that-be got wind of Gibson, due in part to the fact that most of his written work had been optioned for films (there's a whole column in itself about why we've only ever seen one of those) and gave Gibson the chance to write the screenplay for Alien 3.

The only catch was, it had to be written in such a way that if Sigourney Weaver was not going to be involved (at that point she was done with the franchise...well at that moment anyways), they could work around it.

Gibson's script focuses on Bishop and Hicks each who are “rescued” by separate human factions. The evil company Weiland-Yutani is messing around with the genetics of the xenomorphs, so they no longer do the incubation thing; they carry a disease that will turn some people into human/alien warriors. The nice thing about this is it brings back a bit of the mystery element from the first film because you're guessing which characters are “infected”. Most of the script takes place on a space station/mall/lab and it is really action oriented.

How action oriented?

Aliens feature two rather large stand-off action scenes between humans and aliens.

Gibson's Alien 3 features eight.

So what happened?

To put it bluntly, the producers just didn't care for it, which kind of surprises me. Director Reny “I blew stuff up for no reason before Micheal Bay did” Harlin was attached to it, so it kind of seems like it would have been his type of flick. And what did Harlin end up doing when he eventually left the project?

Die Hard 2.

The kind of odd thing about this is there was a trailer before there was ever an Alien 3. While we are now used to trailers for films that are in production, it's very rare that we get a trailer for a film that doesn't even have a script yet, and hasn't shot a single piece of film. As you can tell by the following trailer, it doesn't much sound much like the eventual Alien 3 we got.


And since we took a look at the big blue boy scout the last time, I only figured it was right to have a look at a Dark Knight we never saw.

Batman: Year One by Darren Aronofsky and Frank Miller

For the last few years, a good portion of the comic book community has felt that Frank Miller has gone in a weird creative direction.

And that's putting it mildly and in a very friendly tone compared to many others. I've heard the phrase “Pissing on Eisner's grave” used in conjunction with Miller's film version of The Spirit. As well, All Star Batman and Robin has been given mixed reviews at best.

But many agree Frank Miller's takes on Batman in his comics The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One are probably two of the best takes on the character, in the top ten if not the top five.

So doesn't it sound like a great idea to pair up Frank Miller with Darren Aronofsky? One of the greatest comic book minds mixing it up with one of the most creative film makers of our generation. And the movie would have been based on Batman: Year One which is arguably one of the best Batman comic stories, ever.

Sounds good doesn't it?

That's what Warner Brothers thought in the late 1990's and thus commissioned the script that can be easily found on the internet.

So what went wrong? Why did we never see this?

Well, there are a few reasons. I can tell you from reading the script that it is very well written. Par for the course of Aronofsky's other work, it's also very dark and a little bit on the human side. All in all this would have made a pretty decent film.

Except they called it Batman.

You see, the main problem with this script is if the sound was off, for three quarters of the film, you would think you walked into the wrong film. Nor does this resemble Batman: Year One.

Alfred is nowhere to be found nor is Wayne Manor. Instead, disoriented after his parents brutal murder, Bruce wanders the streets and is eventually taken in at a garage by Big Al and Little Al. Bruce is a pretty screwed up little kid and slowly but surely begins his war on crime. Gone are the awesome gadgets, now we have stuff Bruce makes from the Anarchist's Cook Book. The only part that remotely resembles the graphic novel is Gordon's storyline and his fight against corruption.

Now I'll be honest, I have no idea which draft I've read. I know there are a few other drafts out there that are somewhat different than the one on which I have extensive knowledge. One contains a mobster take on The Penguin, and Gordon having a beer and cheating on his wife. Oh, and a jive-talking Alfred. I'm pretty sure the one I've read is a later draft.

To put it mildly, Warner was not incredibly excited by the pitch. I honestly feel if they had pitched it as anything other then Batman, this movie may have gotten made. It could have been made on a low budget and would have been kind of like the Matrix. The Matrix was a comic book movie without the comic book and did very well.

But as Batman? I can already see the executives reading through it.

“Um...where's Alfred...wait do you mean this black mechanic is Alfred?”

“His ring makes the symbol of a bat when he punches them? Isn't that The Phantom? Someone ask legal if this would get us sued.”

“Wait...he's poor 90% of the movie?”

And to be honest, I can't disagree with them. It is one thing to do a different take on a character but it's another thing altogether to throw away almost everything.

So Warner passed and eventually we got Batman Begins, so we ended up winning in the end.

Finally, we have a movie that may make an appearance – or at least parts of it might.


Roger Rabbit: Toon Platoon

One of my favorite film going experiences was in 1988 when I got to see Who Framed Roger Rabbit at the Woodbine Center with close family friends who were looking after me for the weekend.

It was an amazing film that holds up to this day and it's one of the few chances you get to see almost every conceivable cartoon character finally mix it up with one another. We got Donald and Daffy in the same scene! Brilliant!

But one of the lesser known points is that there have been several attempts at getting another Roger Rabbit film going. For instance, children of the 90's may remember a Disney cartoon series called Bonkers. The cartoon was about a washed-up cartoon actor who ends up becoming a cop and teamed with a human partner.. Originally Bonkers was going to be Roger Rabbit, but due to copyright issues involving Amblin Entertainment (who shepherded the Roger Rabbit film) and Disney, Disney created a brand new character instead.

But for my money, the most interesting idea was a prequel Roger Rabbit called “Toon Platoon”.

Serving as a prequel, we see Roger in 1941 searching for his mom and dad, meeting Jessica (his future wife) foiling a Nazi plot and fighting in a bit of World War 2. Eventually Roger finds his folks and we discover Roger's dad is Bugs Bunny.

I love this idea if it was done right. It could easily become an over-the-top tribute to those rather interesting and now incredibly racist toons from WWII. But done right, it could be brilliant and funny.

But alas, Spielberg had a problem that conspired to shelve this film. By the time the script was done and animation tests began, Steven Spielberg (who produced the first film) had shot Schindler's List. Apparently after that experience, he didn't think he could do a funny Nazi movie. And to be honest, given the material, depending on how it went it's hard not to disagree.

But I assume this is why there was no Nazis in the hunt for the Crystal Skull, so then again...

Shortly after the script was retooled into Who Discovered Roger Rabbit which kept the sub-plot of looking for his folks but focused more on Roger's rise to stardom. Animation tests were done combining live action, CG animation and traditional 2D animation.

Then someone took a look at how much a movie would cost using all of those things – or even just CG and live action – and the film was once again shelved.

And do you know where the money went that was earmarked for Roger?

Pearl Harbour.

God Damn It!

In an interesting twist, rumors of Roger's ride back into the limelight are beginning to surface. The writers who brought us the first film are back on board, as is director Robert Zemeckis. Zemeckis has also stated he may be working motion capture into the film, but not for the toons. The toons would be animated traditionally (I imagine Disney is now happy that John Lasseter brought their animation department out of mothballs).

Now what the story may entail, or if it would bring back any of the concepts from previous script incarnations, has yet to been seen. Hell, we may be talking about this attempt at a re-start in five years – but here's hoping.

If you like these posts and have a movie you'd like me to find out “whatever happened to?”, feel free to drop me a line and I'll do my best. As for the next piece in this series, there are so many projects to chose from. For instance, I could do a whole column focused on Orson Wells and his failed projects, or the various versions of He-Man that never made it to screen.

I promise it'll be a good mix of film history and nerdiness.




Sunday, November 15, 2009

Behind the Scenes: Interviews



Hey guys, thanks for sticking around.

It's been a year since Adam and I started up this little adventure with the help of TRPA and one of the things I honestly get asked more then anything else (with the exception of "That's really the name of your show?") is how I manage to snag the interviews we've done.

The simple answer is... I ask.

Of course a little more goes into then that but it's more or less the truth. I email or I call someone, ask their people or in some cases them for an interview, sometimes they say yes, sometimes they say no and sometimes I get no reply.

But in the spirit of DVD commentaries and the extras on DVD's I love so much, I figured I'd go through our year of interviews and give you the inside scoop on the bigger ones. Some of you out there might find this useful or at the very least interesting.

Alan Cross
The interview with Alan was a bit of time in the making. It more less started on Feb 10 of 2009 where I wrote a simple fan letter and mentioned I would love to be on the new Explore Music tv show. To my surprise, they had me on and it was an amazing experience (speaking of which, Alan and Nathalia if you happen to be reading...can I come on the show again?) and afterwards I inquired about Alan doing an interview for our show.

So a couple emails back and forth and it was agreed that Alan would be more then happy to let us talk to him. Then it was working out time.

That took a while.

The one thing I can stress beyond the "it's okay to ask" part of getting an interview is have patience. If you happen to score a good one there is a very good chance it will be a while until you do it. Be patient and wait, don't complain or moan about it, trust me when you get there, if it's an interview you really want, the wait will be worth it.

Anyways between our schedule, work schedules, Alan going to Asia for a few weeks and his work schedule (which involved at bare minimum a radio show a day, another one that aired weekly and a weekly tv show), it was about two months later when Adam and I had a chance to sit down with him.

And even that took a bit but for a good reason.

As soona s we entered the office, Alan got a call for a job refrence. It was for a former employee who Alan respected and felt deserved one. In no way were we going to fault him on that especially in today's work climate.

Besides, how long could it take?

The guy on the other end was reading off a script and it took quiet a while. And while Alan was in obvious pain trying to get through this, he felt that this former employee was worth it and kudos to Alan for not just hanging up.

The interview itself was (or at least my take on it) was a little different for Alan. That's mainly due to Adam.

If you listen to our interviews, I tend to be the straight interviewer and Adam tends to say "eh fuck it, I'll ask or say whatever.". Which is great because it does help turn what could be a normal interview on it's side a little. In this case a lot of the interview became more like a discussion then an interview because of this and I think it turned out better for it.

Or at anyrate we didn't piss him off too much because he still answers my emails on a regular basis and Explore Music still posts my articles.

Joe Quesada

So far we've got two of Brent's rules for interviews.
Rule 1) Ask
Rule 2) Be patient

And now we get to the third rule.

Rule 3) Always be nice to contacts, you never know when it can be useful.

Case in point, Joe Quesada.

Joe has known of me since the mid 90's when he and Jimmy Palmiotti took over a slew of Marvel books under the Marvel Knights imprint. He and Jimmy had a message board for their comic company Event Comics. Fun fact, another member of that board? Ben Templesmith, artist on 30 Days of Night (among many other things). The Event board was pretty interactive, especially in regards to the creators posting and responding to emails. Joe was nothing but helpful with advice. We also used to occasionally shoot emails about music back and forth.

Eventually Joe ended up being Editor in Chief at Marvel but he still responds to emails.

So I guess it was April or May I discovered he was going to be at Fan Expo so I sent him an email via his personal address (which to this day surprises me still works) seeing if he'd do it. He said sure but it had to go threw the convention people at marvel that schedule these things. He forwarded my email on to two other guys at Marvel and then negotiations began.

To the outside world, it must seem like “How busy can this comic book guy really be?”

The truth of the matter is incredibly.

Joe is the second face of Marvel Comics (the first being Stan Lee). Joe is the guy who does media rounds, interviews, dvd extras, etc for Marvel. He's been on The Colbert Report at least twice.

So when at a convention like this Joe has to fit in interviews, signings, business (as we all found out later, the Monday after that weekend, the Disney deal was announced) and this particular convention, a little bit of vacation with the wife and daughter.

So initially what started as a possible thirty minute interview at our make shift studio turned into 15-20 mins at Marvel's booth. I in no way fault marvel or Joe for this, it's just one of those things that happens.

Max Brooks

I'd like to say there is an awesome story behind this one but the truth of the matter is, there isn't. I had emailed Max's book publisher, they never got back to me. When we got to the show, we talked to the guy at Avatar's booth, he told us to show up at a time (along with every other interviewer who asked), we showed up, Max was awesome.

Jason Agnew

Now Agnew is another case of “Remember me?”. Best part to start at is the beginning. Jason is the long time co-host of Live Audio Wrestling (currently on Hardcore Sports via Sirius Satellite Radio) and as we all know I'm a big wrestling and mma fan. I have been writing in and calling into The Law for years. I never use a fake name and surprisingly my last name is slightly unique. Bite Tv also has a podcast called Bite Radio which is kind of a behind the scenes podcast. I became a fan of that and Jason has been nice enough to occasionally read my plugs on air. Flash forward a few years later and I am a guest on Explore Music. One of the producers is Jason Agnew. Jason was surprised that I was who he thought I was. We ended up adding each other to facebook, etc, etc. May comes around and Jason needs an anime expert for The Surf for Anime North.

Who else would I volunteer?

So Adam got the gig, went on tv and a keep sending in the occasional email in to The Law and Bite Radio.

Jason is a rather busy guy. Most of the shows on Bite involve him in some way shape or form. So when I never really thought we could get him to do the one year anniversary show. I floated a general message to him and the rest of the guys at Bite Radio about it and never really heard back.

We get to the week before the show and I have two guests drop out. This occasionally happens due to scheduling conflicts or just plain bad luck. Being desperate and having nothing to lose, I reached out to Jason again and begged for anyone from Bite to come down. I believe I used the phrase “I'd take a monkey as long as he's media ready and can talk for fifteen minutes.”

Jason one uped me and said he would come down and do it. To which I was grateful as I knew 1) Agnew is media ready. I prompt him and he will talk. 2) Jason's got kind of an interesting rep with the nerds in the Ontario area. Due in part to his show The Conventioneers, Jason's kind of a polarizing subject. Some of us (myself included) love the show and the fact that he and Matt Chin take a bit of the piss out of the nerd culture. Others would like nothing more then something rather heavy and medieval fall on him.

This makes for a good interview and hopefully when you guys get to hear it, you will enjoy.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Dollhouse canceled and in other news, Fox still a bunch of idiots





Joss Whedon's Dollhouse has been kicked to the curb after non-fantastic ratings.


I'll be the first to admit, this show wasn't for everyone. As we all know, I'm a big fan of Whedon's work but watching the show it was very much a case of "if you haven't liked anything else the man has done, you ain't going to like this."


But while that may have been some of the problem (and I'll wager maybe a minor issue) the bigger issue is the following.


Fox is a bunch of morons.


Okay that's not fair. Whoever it is who wants something to work in that Friday night kiss of death time slot are morons.


You see my friends this goes back quite a while ago. In fact this stems from a small incident in the fall of 1993.


It was a Friday.


It was 9pm.


And a show debuted called The X-Files.


Now if you are around my age you remember how awesome the X-Files were, especially when it first started. It had a good budget, decent actors, well written scripts (despite being essentially a monster of the week show) and most importantly...


THERE WAS NOTHING LIKE IT ON TELEVISION.


Nothing. It had been a long time since we had gotten something this good out of sci-fi/horror tv but it also had that uniqueness that appealed to a lot more then just the nerd crowd. I remember a friend of mine in high school whose mother basically had the entire house hold stop at 9pm so she could watch the show in peace.


And the ratings for those first few seasons went steadily up until it became a juggernaut of a show. It even got a spin off feature film in season five which was unheard of at the time for a show that was still airing new episodes.


Now this has not been lost on Fox...although in many ways, those of us who like genre tv wish it had been.


Since the X-Files moved (and subsequently left the air) from Friday nights. Fox has treated this as it's sword in the stone timeslot. Meaning if they can just get a show unique and odd enough to step up and grab that timeslot, Fox will rule the airwaves on Friday nights, a time slot largely abandoned by other networks due to low numbers.


What Fox hasn't realised is that The X-Files was a once in a life time sort of thing.


You know why no one watches tv on Fridays?


The age group you are gunning for has a life and pvr.


Take myself for instance. I'm now in my early 30's and Friday nights usually have me out with friends somewhere. I at a bar, or at a party or a movie with some woman I've suckered into going.


It has to be a really good show for me not to go out. Like more amazing then anything ever. Why? Because I know I can download it, catch it online, on demand on my cable, etc. Unfortunately ratings only capture people watching it in real time.


The X-Files came before pvrs (you had vcrs but they could be unreliable or the people in your home could screw up the taping while you were out) and it had writing that appealed to everyone, not just nerds.


How bad has Fox been with this time slot? Well I should say range in time slot so let's say 8-10.


Let's take a look shall we? (I'll make a quick not about each show because some of these are long forgotten and you may not get the full impact)


The Adventures of Brisco County Jr (1993-1994)

Bruce Campbell's awesome cowboy show. This was father son bonding time at my house as we both enjoyed the show's off beat humor. It was like a modernised western serial with some steampunk elements in it. It ran for 27 episodes the same year the X-Files started.


Mantis (1994 - 1995)

Kind of like Batman but produced by Sam Rami. Made it 20 episodes before being cancled.


Sliders (1995 - 1997)

Now Sliders fared a little better...although it was initially canceled in it's first season, fan protest brought it back. The moral of the story? As I've mentioned, nerds can be a hard core bunch but it isn't a huge audience. After the 3rd season, Sc-Fi network took it for two more seasons.


Strange Luck (1995 -1996)

A dude who had weird luck. Basically wherever he turned up, weird shit followed.


VR.5 (1995)

Um...er... I looked this up because I don't remember it all. It lasted 13 episodes...it had something to do with virtual reality


Brimstone (1998-1999)

Cop bring the devil souls


Greed (1999 -2000)

A game show


The Lone Gunmen (2001)

A spin off from the X-Files


And the list goes on and on. On wikipedia the Fox entry on Friday Night Death Slot lists over 30 tv shows in the period from X-Files onward that either began and died there or where Fox thought moving a show there might save them. I will be fair and say that some of the shows listed were on it's last legs. If it was the Friday slot killed Married with Children in it's a 11th season, it was purely out of mercy. There was a couple of mild success as well. Millennium probably didn't help maters in the "weird shows that work" but it was an X-Files spin off but it only lasted three seasons and the X-Files rub certainly didn't help The Lone Gunmen.


Now while I understand Fox can't completely give up on Fridays, they can't air static (although I'd say static would be better then The Return of Jezebel James or The Wedding Bells) but come on!


Out of the 30 I'd say there are at least a good ten to fifteen shows that would have done much better somewhere else. Brisco County JR for instance would have made a great fit on Sunday nights a traditional night for family friendly tv. Wonderfalls would have been great as part of a Tuesday or Wednesday block.


Stop putting high profile shows in there to die. Would Dollhouse been canceled if it wasn't on Fridays? Maybe not but I can guarantee it would have done a shit ton better then it did.


Of course Joss Whedon should have known better. Another casualty in that time slot?


Whedon's Firefly.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Episode 14 (High Quality)



After a considerable absence (due primarily to Adam's wedding), the Two Assholes are back, and better than ever. Well, more correctly, their combined level of awesome has been always been at its highest, so technically, they can't possibly be better than before.

In any event, they're back to discuss the many nerdy things they're looking forward to this Christmas, and as usual, they will then proceed to get lost on some tangents. The end result, however, is entertainment, and isn't that all that really matters?

Episode 14



After a considerable absence (due primarily to Adam's wedding), the Two Assholes are back, and better than ever. Well, more correctly, their combined level of awesome has been always been at its highest, so technically, they can't possibly be better than before.

In any event, they're back to discuss the many nerdy things they're looking forward to this Christmas, and as usual, they will then proceed to get lost on some tangents. The end result, however, is entertainment, and isn't that all that really matters?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Vindication



Brent here.

Normally I don't revel in the mistakes and misery of others, even celebrities but you know when that moment where you were right and you KNEW you were right and then some one came along with proof that you were right?

Thank you Rear Admiral Dekker. (please see the Fan Expo episode for the full story) and thank you TMZ, brightened up my week.

Vindication

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"Bring it Happy Feet!" Present the trailer to the best movie 1989 never gave us



Presenting the trailer for the greatest movie 1989 never made.

The Expendables:

DVD Review Quickies: Staunton Hill and imurders



Okay full disclosure time.

Some of you loyal readers may have noticed I've been doing a crap load of dvd reviews as of late. The astute reader would also notice that they all seem to be coming from Anchor Bay.

You see, a bit of the positive fall out from our Fan Expo non interview of Rear Admiral Deckard (as described in the Fan Expo episode) is through his handler, I got on Anchor Bay's reviewer list. They send me an email describing the movies they are releasing on DVD that month and they send me a batch of screeners for me to peruse and review.

Now you would think this would be awesome especially considering what a staunch supporter of Anchor Bay I was BEFORE I got screeners. I love their re-release work, always have. Anchor Bay have been the masters of finding movies other studios could care less about and re-release them for those of us who really want to have those movies on DVD.

But alas, everything can't be completely awesome. Cases in point, Staunton Hill and imurders.

Staunton Hill is a film directed by Cameron Romero.

Yup son of George.

What a mess.

This movie starts off promising. Essentially a take on the crazed hillbilly genre of film, a bunch of teenagers lost in the wilderness end up staying at this farm in the middle of nowhere while the family sends out there mentally handicapped son to kill the teens.

Not the most original of plots but can be serviceable with a gore factor.

Except there is none, well very little of it anyways. Very little gore, bad acting and while the movie is set in the 60's, nothing from the music down to how the kids look would ever leave you to believe it. And to top it all off, the killer is removing certain parts of each of the teens. Why? Not sure. We are shown through out the movie, flashback scenes in a hospital which I assume are supposed to let me in on why these murders are being taken place in this fashion but instead just leave you more confused.

Do not rent, do not buy, do not let this film pass go.

Imurders...um please see previous review but instead of crazy hillbillies plot line we have the oh so topical Facebook...I mean Myspace... I mean Facespace (no the last one is not made up, swear to god) Killer. Yup someone is hunting some poor shmoes from the same chat room and murdering them.

Once again, not the most original of plots but hey, turn it into a gore extravaganza but instead there's a bit of gore, sub par acting and a bit of a mess of a script. Now with a few character actors I love (William Forsyth, Tony Todd and Billy Dee Williams) I thought this was going to be either half decent or so terrible it would be awesome.

It was neither which is almost worse.

Both Staunton Hill and imurders are available on dvd now from Anchor Bay/Starz Media.

DVD Review: Hellraiser 20th Anniversery Edition



As you can tell by my previous article on Clive Barker, I'm a bit of a fan.

Out of all of his film work, three really stand out. Candyman, Lord of Illusions and Hellraiser.

Hellraiser stands out as a great horror film by a first time director. It is visually stunning and pretty original. So when I got a copy of the "20th Anniversary Edition" of the film two things went through my head.

1) I am getting old...twenty years already?

and

2) This better be a decent presentation.

But how does this dvd hold up?

In a word, fantastic.

Now to clarify, the version I am reviewing is Hellraiser The 20th Anniversary Edition that appeared in 2007 and then re-released as part of The Hellraiser boxed set that was released last year (along with a blu-ray version of the film and Hellraiser 2's special edition).

Picture quality is actually a lot better then I expected. Very little grain, blacks are black, light is light. The only thing that is worth noting is like all films made in England during that era you can tell it was made in England due to the film stock. It's a little sad however that how well this little low budget English film looks compared to some more expensive modern Hollywood horror films.

Sound is also excellent and I must admit, I watched it at home by myself and there were a few back speaker noises that caught me off guard. Chris Young's score still sounds magnificent after all of these years.

As for extras, there are plenty. One that is particularly good is Hellraiser: Resurrection which is a making of documentary that covers most of the bases. There are also a whack of solo interviews with the various stars and a commentary track features Barker and star Ashley Laurence which contains information and a good sense of humor.

If you are a fan of horror, this dvd should be in your collection.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Clive Barker part 1 A Fan Letter





I have a lot of influences as a writer from various sources. They're usually really easy to pick up depending on what field I'm working in at the time. My blogging and podcast stuff, for instance, definitely carries with it the influence of the writers at aintitcool news and a lot of Alan Cross mixed in with my own sensibilities. I think it's become a pretty distinct voice at this point but you can definitely see my influences.

My comics work is definitely something I really own but if you look you can see hints of Neil Gaiman and Garth Ennis in there.

Now what few of my friends realise is I do write prose. I am very rarely happy with it enough to show my friends unlike my comic stuff. I think it's because unfortunately I hold it up at a very high level.

When you look at my prose, it's pretty much me at this point. Or at least it should be, I've been writing in a serious manner since I was 12. I'm sure my close friends can see my sense of humor, maybe a little bit of influences that they know of.

When I look at it I just see three very big shadows looming over my shoulder. One is Andrew Vachss (crime author who through his books taught me how to use first person narrative). Stephen King who was the first author I really read in a serious manner. By that I mean I discovered The Eyes of the Dragon through a kindly librarian who recognised the fact that I was bored with the books that my age group was supposed to be reading. From there I read every book King had out at the time.

The third shadow, the one the lurks at the back, sitting in a chair, smoking a cigar, waiting, is Clive Barker.

Clive Barker was the first author I had discovered pretty much on my own. I had heard his name in connection with Hellraiser but I hadn't seen it yet. But sitting on the library shelf was this book called The Damnation Game. It was a paperback, had a weird tree on the cover and the backflap made the novel sound interesting so I checked it out.

I was completely unprepared for what happened next.

I loved the book. It was well written, funny, horribly scary and flew in the face of what was typically depicted as Faustian deals. The demon in this book may not have been incredibly likable (depending on your view of things) but he was definitely easy to identify with.

So back to the library I went and stood in the section where all of the authors starting with B were kept, looked at the bookshelf and more or less said:

"Okay Mr. Barker, what else do you got?"

The next novel I picked up was The Great and Secret Show.

Wow.

To attempt to place this book in a genre would be doing a disservice to Mr. Barker and the book itself.

But if I had to place it some how I would call it a science fiction fantasy horror love story. It has magik, sex, ghosts, evolved apes (and by this I mean an ape that has been evolved through a weird science magik), explosions, a love story and creatures made from magik, poo and sperm.

That's right, evil poo sperm magik.

And it is awesome.

After that, I read everything I could get my hands on. Everville, The Hellbound Heart, Imajica, Weaveworld, The Thief of Always (which is still one of the best children's novels I've ever read), and a ton more.

Barker introduced me to the concept that you're book didn't have to be just one genre. Why would you only play on the swings when you could also play on the slide and in the sandbox?

He was also the first author I read about who understood like I did, that comics were awesome. Not only that, he wanted to write and create comics.

You can even see this a little bit in his literary work. Barker's characters all seem to share the same world or at the very least, are known in parallel universes. Harry D'Amour makes a few appearances. The Cenobites from Hellraiser are known to some of the characters in Weaveworld.

Then I discovered his films. The first of which was Hellraiser.

Hellraiser was a bit of a revelation to me. It proved you could make not only a stylish horror film but that it could also be smart as well. The creatures or cenobites were like nothing I had ever seen before. And for a first time director, the direction is really solid. The most interesting thing about the film is that (with the exception of Julia's hair and the female cast members' clothing) is not particularly dated and holds up incredibly well. The sequels to the film are not particularly great (I liked 2 but the rest....um...er...yeah)

His follow up "Nightbreed" really caught my attention in my younger years (it's a decent but flawed film and from my reading up on it, I kind of get the picture that the flaws weren't Barker's fault). Lord of Illusions is probably my favorite as it encapsulates everything I love about Barker's work. It had weird magik, action, horror, a decent cast, a solid script.

All of these creative works have inspired me a fair amount. Try things that haven't been done, don't worry about boundaries, if the story is good, it will not matter.

Like reading a gay author.

Now back when I started reading Clive's novels, I don't think it was public knowledge that he was gay. but looking back on his novels...well...duh. But at the same time, when I started reading his books, being "gay" was not well accepted. It along with derogatory words like "fag" were generally used as put downs in the school yard and in my area in general. Put that together with the fact that "they" carried a "gay disease" called AIDS (o clarify, we all know that this is all bullshit and if you don't, please stop reading my column now). But Clive's novels just excepted the fact that sometimes women slept with men. Sometimes women slept with women, sometimes men slept with men and sometimes all of them slept with creatures that weren't either. Then Clive came out of the closet and it dawned on me that this dude wrote really good books was gay, that school yard conceptions of what being gay meant could be very wrong. As a straight man in a bit of a homophobic situation, it was a bit of a wall coming down. What does it matter if I like girls and he likes guys? It doesn't.

Beyond that I always strive for what I saw in Barker's works. Something a little familiar that grasps the reader followed by something awesome and different. That's why when I write I can kind of feel him in the background of my thoughts. Something along the lines of "Well that's good...but what about this?" "Well that's a bit different isn't it?" "Yes it is, but more interesting, no?"

Clive has since gone on to write ghost stories, children's novels and a bunch more. Whenever I see a new book on the shelf with his name on it, it's kind of like running into an old friend. Sometimes you have a chance to catch up and have a great conversation (Mister B. Gone for instance) and other times it's a quick "Hello, glad to see you are doing well" (his Abarat novels for young adults have always caught my eye but I've never quite been able to get into one). I'm awaiting his forthcoming Scarlett Gospels novel for a return of Harry D'Amore.

I've never gotten to meet the man except for a very brief occasion at Fan Expo in Toronto a few years ago, where our paths crossed for a very brief second and he said "hi" to me (apparently my all access pass was not all access and the tall asshole guy from Fan Expo volunteers booted me out. If you've ever gone to Fan Expo you know exactly which guy I am referring to.) but if he happens to be reading, thank you Mr. Barker, I owe you a drink next time you're in Toronto.

Next: Hellraiser dvd review

Friday, October 9, 2009

Mystery Asshole Theatre #3 - Repo



The Two Assholes have returned once again (with Guesthole #2, Alex Krueger) to provide you with another commentary track.

This time, we actually decided to go with something decidedly more modern with Repo, a very dark musical (with a surprisingly star-studded cast) involving organ repossession.

As always, this works by you turning on the movie, and then playing this audio track along with it. Don't worry, we'll tell you when to start the DVD, and we try to occasionally describe what's happening to make sure we're all on the same page.

The concept of the movie was really just too much for us to resist, so go out and rent the DVD, turn on this track, and you'll be watching Repo as if we were in the same room. Admittedly, that does sound somewhat creepy, that anyone could be such a fan that their ideal time was imagining that we were sitting beside them on the couch watching movies, but it's the best way to describe this whole Mystery Asshole Theatre thing.

Remember, this isn't Rifftrax, so you won't hear us waiting for lulls in the dialogue in which to spout one-liners. Instead, you'll get to hear a running commentary from people who are really geeky, and witty as all hell.