Trailer trash

29/03/2012 § 2 Comments

“Lalalalalalalalalal” with eyes closed and fingers in ears. That’s how I watch trailers for films that I might possibly maybe want to see some time.
If, however, it’s a film that I’m fairly sure I don’t want to see, I actually enjoy the trailer. Ninety odd minutes of a bad film is time you won’t get back but one or two (how long do trailers go for?) minutes is an enjoyable experience. You get to see some explosions, you hear the best joke and you feel pleased that the girl gets the guy in the end – and all at no cost.
But you get the opposite effect for a film you want to see. In one fell swoop the trailer shows the best sight gags and reveals all the plot twists. You were too slow to avert and your eyes and what has been seen cannot be unseen. Why? Why? These questions are best asked aloud, on your knees as the camera flies up and away leaving you a sad tiny figure on a vast barren landscape.

Don’t blame the director. He or she wants you to enjoy the movie more than anyone. Unless it is Michael Bay, the director has created a work of art that hopefully challenges you and impacts you emotionally.
Blame the marketing people. Your enjoyment of the film is the least of their concerns. As long as you have bought a ticket their work is done and it makes no difference what happens after.

There’s plenty of interweb discussion regarding Hunger Games ripping off Battle Royale. I’m not going to weigh in but here’s a spread from the BR manga (read right to left).

Anyway, I saw  The Hunger Games last night. And I was pleasantly  surprised that the trailer hadn’t spoiled the film. Hey, thanks to whoever is responsible. Maybe it’s such an eagerly anticipated film that the marketing people knew they didn’t have to try. Really, I would love to think they were so unnecessary that they weren’t included. Like there was a party and they found out about it the next day.
“Hey, do you want us to promote this – what is it? – this Hunger Games thing?”
“No. Don’t worry about it.”
“I really think you should consider…”
“It’s ok. We threw a trailer together with bits from the first half hour.”
“That won’t be enough we need…”
“Seriously, dude, it’s a box office smash. Go get us a coffee or something.”

Imagine a world with no marketing departments. John Lennon could have written a verse on that.

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MASH ups

27/03/2012 § 3 Comments

Some TV comedies go past their use-by date and, regardless of how not fun they have become, just keep plodding along. When Marshall visited his dad’s grave and had to spend a whole episode not being funny, I knew I was over How I Met Your Mother. I call it the MASH effect – when comedies slide into soap opera.
When I was a kid we watched MASH. A crazy comedy about oddball medicos in Korea during the civil war. They were a wacky bunch always getting up to mischief. One memorable episode ended with a central and much-loved character unexpectedly dying. It was a powerful moment that reminded the audience for a moment that this was a war – a real war – and it’s not always fun and games. It was a clever device because of the contrast. But soon it became the norm. Cue the schmaltz. As the actors aged during the show’s eleven seasons (the Korean war lasted three years) it gradually turned to soap.

Beware the MASH effect. When the infection takes hold there is little to be done to save a loved one. Oh 30 Rock and Community, reward our loyalty and resist!

As God is my witness they’re not going to lick me. I’m going to live through this and when it’s all over, I’ll never be hungry again.

17/03/2012 § 1 Comment

In yesterday’s post I made a vow to do some undefined thing I have never done before. Last night’s massive storm with thunder and lightning announced a day of rain so outdoor stuff was off.

But a vow is a vow so I set about doing some bokeh photography. My subject was my daughter, Scarlett. Her nickname is Star so I decided to make the blurs star-shaped. I was hoping it might be good enough as invitations for her 21st birthday party later this year. I got our Christmas lights out and found that some didn’t work and the others were lacking a power plug. No matter, my neighbours came to the rescue and their lights were hung on my bathroom door at the end of the hall. I put a piece of cardboard, with a star shape cut out of it, over my lens and then it was just a matter of sorting out the light. To give you a better idea, you can pics of the set-up here.

The end result? Click on the thumbnail here for a larger pic. The stars don’t look right and I’m not sure why (size of cut-out? focal length?). But we all know it’s a first effort so let’s not get too upset. I will have to play with bokeh again some time.

If you’re wondering why Gone With The Wind is all over this post, it’s because of the Scarlett connection and it’s about making a vow. And today is St Patricks Day so to represent my post  I’ve chosen that pretty little colleen Katie Scarlett O’Hara. Polite applause.

The wheels on the bus go round and round.

16/03/2012 § 1 Comment

Meet Bruce*. He’s my  morning bus driver. A really nice bloke who likes to know the names of all his passengers. So nice he runs a little bit late so that no one misses the bus. So late that I often miss my train but that’s ok because you can’t hate the Bruce.


Bruce drives a bus for Red Bus Services and all the busses are red. Until recently. Their new busses are white – the same colour as the local area’s rival bus company. This confuses the school kids and they like to complain about it. It seems painting a whole bus is too much trouble and slapping a sticker on is way easier. That’s what you get when you don’t think things through when choosing a name (I’m looking at you Sean Coombs).
Back to Bruce. When he’s not singing along with eighties music (courtesy of one of our three identical radio stations) he talks to the passengers. I was listening to him chatting with his groupies that sit up the front and I realised that he always talks about bus stuff. This includes annoying passengers, passenger trivia, driver trivia, traffic lights, traffic conditions, mechanical problems and might sometimes include the weather.
Has he been doing this job too long? Is this some kind of general knowledge atrophy? Maybe he just really likes busses. I think we all do this a bit. We move in certain circles and it becomes all we think about. It’s the path of least resistance. As we move through life our horizons get narrower.
So I am making a vow. Tomorrow I will do something I’ve never done before. Not sure what it is yet but I’ll let you know next post.

*His real name (I’m fairly certain he doesn’t read my blog).

I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.

07/03/2012 § 1 Comment

James Bond and robots. Sounds awesome, right?
Penn, (the University of Pennsylvania) robotics students have programmed robotic quadrotors (they fly) to play the Bond theme. I don’t need to say anything more.

Barking up a wrong tree

04/03/2012 § 9 Comments

Had coffee today with my wife and my daughter and her boyfriend. I told them about joining the band I’m playing in and it finished with my daughter feeling very sorry for me. She said it was so full of cringe that I was a cross between David Brent and Mr Bean. I realised there’s a story here.

I was asked by a friend to join his band because they had a gig at a local street festival and needed a drummer. So I went along and met Chattelz – a nice bunch of blokes. We rehearsed and started working out a set list. Then they landed another gig at a community fete which was actually before the original gig (help, I’m using the word ‘gig’ too much). Meanwhile they were saying that they should make some sort of effort at promotion. I told them that I was their man because they needed my awesome graphic design skills (often my posts contain irony but there is none in this sentence). So I made business cards and flyers (above) and asked for access to the myspace page so I could edit it (still a work in progress btw). On the back of the flyer were some photos I had taken at rehearsal – Col, Pete, Mark, Greg and me with mini bios under the heading ‘Meet Chattelz’.
Then we played at the fete. I turned up and the others were wearing fedoras. “You didn’t tell me about the detective hats.” I said. At the next rehearsal I turned up with a fedora. “Hey guys, I’ve got a detective hat.” Eventually I got around to the myspace page. That’s where I made my terrible discovery.
The band bio had all the other members plus a ‘guest musicians’ section with the name of someone who played sax, someone who played keyboards, someone who sang backing vocals and (shock, horror) the previous drummer.
The penny dropped.
I hadn’t been asked to join the band. I had been asked to join them for a particular performance. The whole join-the-band and drummer-in-a-band thing was presumption on my part. Oops. To be honest, I felt a little bit queasy in the tummy here. So I spoke to my friend and apologised for getting it wrong. He said the guys were ok with it and not to worry. Aw, thanks guys. But still – whoo boy.

Swim between the flags

03/03/2012 § 2 Comments

City Rail are currently trialing silent carriages. If you are travelling in the last car (as well as the first car in the case of 8 car trains) you are asked to refrain from loud conversations, mobile phone conversations and noisy headphones. This is because there have been so many complaints. We might one day have a carriage for people with body odour, one for people who like to have their bag on the seat next to them, one for drunks and one for fatties.
I’m not a fan. This is a poor substitute for manners and mutual respect. People are afraid to say “Excuse me, do you mind…” because they might be told “… off”. So we are choosing rules and regulations as a safe alternative to communication and working stuff out. And when people start copping a fine for talking to their friends on a train we won’t notice that there is something not right about that.

Atlantian giants emerge from the sea on a mission to destroy humankind.

Which brings me to my beach story. Several years ago our local beaches had some dangerous seas and a lot of people were rescued. Many of these people had chosen to swim outside the flags (which often happens when there are a lot of people). There was a bit of public outrage because our lifesavers had to save foolhardy people who, it was inferred, didn’t deserve to be saved. A suggestion was made that people who swim outside the flags and are rescued should be fined. This was met with much support. A beach inspector at Avoca beach was asked if he agreed. He didn’t. He said that such a proposal was against ‘beach culture’. I don’t actually know who he is but I admire his wisdom and forethought.

And for those loyal readers who have endured this rant all the way through your reward is here.

Where Am I?

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