Archive for August, 2010

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My Stupid Nose

August 31, 2010

My nose is big, crooked, lumpy and itchy, and has given me no shortage of troubles over the course of my life. Some of those troubles stem from allergies; others happened after I used it to punch a couple of guys right in the fist.

Something weird happened today, though. After having half my face frozen for dental work yesterday, I woke up this morning to find the other half frozen, and a dull ache under my right eye. Google told me this might be parasthesis, nerve damage caused by the dentist’s needles, which were yesterday inserted repeatedly into the roof of my mouth. Parasthesis can last hours, days, weeks or forever.

In other words, I was facing a Stalloney future.

This bothered me all morning at work and seemed to be getting worse … until, in the middle of a phone call, I felt a “pop” under my eye, and my nose made a sound like a deflating bicycle tire as air rushed out of whatever pocket of nonsense it was trapped in. It felt like my head was leaking. The pressure was immediately dissipated, and within minutes, all the feeling was back in my face. It was just my stupid sinuses, again, playing tricks on me.

Sometimes I want to punch my sinuses in the nose, but that would be kind of stupid.

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Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

August 30, 2010

This is a diving suit prototype from 1888. It’s the coolest thing I’ve seen in a while, and I intend to just stare at it. You can, too, if you want. In fact, you can see it full-size here.

The suit was built by the Carmagnolle brothers of Marseilles, France. But it wasn’t the first; an Englishman built an early diving suit in 1715. The history of aquatic exploration is often overlooked in favour of the space race, but if you take the time to look into it, you’ll find all kinds of daring adventure and risk. From the first bathyscaphs to the sinking of the Confederate submarine Hunley during the Civil War, man has been seeking out new life (and new civilizations, we kind of hope) below the Earth’s oceans for a lot longer than we’ve been trying to get beyond the moon.

In fiction, we’ve seen movies like The Abyss and Leviathan and Deep Rising, one of which is really good and one of which stars Greg Evigan, and TV’s Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Seaquest DSV, one of which was a classic and one of which had not one, but two, Deluise brothers. And we can’t forget the glory days of early science fiction, like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and Arthur C. Clarke’s Dolphin Island, and Roy Meyers’ Dolphin Boy series (I have read only the second one, Daughters of the Dolphin) and Aquaman and Namor and Finding Nemo

The fact is, there are many great stories to be told about the world under the water. And to understand that, you just have to look at that diving suit and consider the work, and risk, it took to build it — and to test it.

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Setting Up A New Studio

August 30, 2010

As listeners know, I have been experimenting with a new home studio lately. The Vista PC is gone, the iMac is now the primary machine, and the Compaq laptop and netbook round things out. There have been problems, though. Audio quality on Books You Should Read is noticeably problematic, and the Admiral tells me he can detect a low feedbacky hum from my Starbase recordings. I solved these problems by (a) scrapping a faulty microphone cord (b) keeping the loud-ass-fan iMac off while recording and using the Compaqs and (c) moving the studio slightly to adjust ambient background sound.

I think it’s going to work. You can find out here.

Anyway, here it is: My new studio, Weather Station Omega.

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Lauren Holly Was Here

August 29, 2010

We’ve just visited the set of The Town Christmas Forgot, a Hallmark made-for-TV family film due out this winter. For the production, crews turned the steamy streets of Millbrook, Ontario, into wintry Nowhere, U.S.A. Clouds of potato flakes blew threw the air as the actors negotiated wire-frame “snowbanks” covered in white fluff. “I need an icepack,” Holly shouted during one break, because it’s 32C here today, and not as Canadian as Americans seem to think.

I liked Lauren Holly on Picket Fences, a weird show that has strangely been forgotten. She played a cop with a unique sense of humour; one scene in particular, a wonderfully sneaky beat-the-censors entendre-soaked phone conversation with co-star Costas Mandylor, has always stuck in my memory. And, of course, my kids have just discovered Dumb and Dumber, so they know her from that film. But I remember her playing one particular icon of my childhood: Betty.

You may not remember this. To Riverdale and Back Again, also called Return To Riverdale, was a 1990 TV movie about the Archie characters, all grown up. It was meant as a pilot for a new series, but didn’t work, largely because it was not very good and had grown-up Jughead rapping. Rapping.

Christopher Rich was Archie, Sam Whipple was Juggie, Gary Kroeger (a mad comic genius, largely underrated) was Reggie, some other actress was Veronica and Lauren Holly played Betty – and did it exactly right. And as the kind of kid who always, always believed Archie belonged with Betty, she was the high point of the film.

I don’t know if i’ll be able to see The Town Christmas Forgot. But now I know I want to see that Archie movie again. (Watch for Moose and Midge.)

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The Ex-Masturbators

August 26, 2010

Lil’ Biscuit and Smoov L’ocean are hitting the road, touring in support of their new CD, Nobody Touch It Like Me Except You. The hip-hop duo, with a sound that has been compared to the Black-Eyed Peas mixed with the White Stripes, along with an added dose of Seals and Kroft, will perform in shopping malls across the U.S. midwest, and also Manitoba.

“We’re all about spreading a positive message,” said Lil’ Biscuit. “We want young people to embrace the lifestyle we have chosen.”

Smoov L’ocean said the name of the duo occurred to him suddenly one night. “I was porkin’ the Biscuit, and it just came to me,” he said. “It just made sense, you know, in a logic way.”

Their music has been banned from iTunes but is still available on MySpace.

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I Love The Drive-In

August 25, 2010

You know, there are still two old-style drive-in movie theatres within 20 minutes of here, and yet we never go. This is not one of them.

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How To Fix The Superman Movies

August 24, 2010

I’m sick and stuck at home, so I’ve been watching a lot of movies. Over the past few days, I have managed to watch Superman and Superman II, along with Superman Returns, and I have some observations about why those first films worked, why the Singer sequel failed, and what has to happen next.

Superman 1:

  • Christopher Reeve doesn’t even appear for the first 50 minutes, but it doesn’t matter; the reasons why Superman is Clark Kent and why he does what he does are laid out perfectly. The sunrise scene with Ma Kent gets me every time — and was, in fact, used as an early alternate poster for the film.
  • The changes to Superman’s origin are fine. It was a nice update while staying true to the story. We should remember that Superman’s origin took shape over the course of a decade, with content input from the radio show, the serials and even a novel. And it’s changed since.
  • The movie’s tagline was “You Will Believe A Man Can Fly.” Watching it now, it looks really fake, but at the time it was revolutionary, kind of like Bionic Bigfoot.

Superman II (The original, not the Donner cut)

  • The comic-booky humour is maintained throughout, but doesn’t dominate (like the KFC lady being blown away, or Lois Lane’s clumsy attempts to figure out whether Clark is Superman).
  • Christopher Reeve’s finest moment: When Lois does figure it out, and he turns from Clark to Superman without changing his clothes. That’s the moment we realized the degree to which Reeve was playing two very different characters, and why people didn’t figure it out.
  • Zod. “Why do you say this to me, when you know I will kill you for it?” This is how a comic-book movie villain should act. We can ignore the weird plot details (a British kid in Idaho? Clark Kent walks to the North Pole in what appears to be about a day? Super-levitation-finger-pointing powers?) just to watch the epic battle between Kryptonians.

Superman III and Superman IV

  • I like to think these never happened.
  • There was, at one point, a plan for a Superboy movie starring John Travolta.
  • Also, there was going to be a Nicolas Cage Superman film, too. We dodged many bullets.

Superman Returns

  • Oh, boy. Brandon Routh did a pretty good Clark Kent,  but his Superman was dull and unconvincing.
  • Since when are Lois and Clark 21 years old?
  • There were too many nods to the original films, like the smoking comment and Superman’s air travel speech, while the newer concepts, like Superbrat, were just lame.

Superman: The Next Movie (or what I would say has to be done to make this work)

  • Take the character way, way back to his roots, and tell the story of a depression-era strongman, the only one of his kind, who fights injustice at ground level
  • Stress the fact that he’s a larger-than-life wow-factor character by giving us plenty of the common man’s perspective. And cast a big, tough guy, not a pretty boy who needed padding in the costume.
  • Pulp it up. Tweak the costume back to its basics. Give us what we had in the first film, and in the early comics: a world where superhumans aren’t taken for granted, where the first sight of a bullet bouncing off a man’s chest (not his eyeball) shocks people, where the idea of a flying man is the most astounding thing imaginable (think of the first flight scene in The Rocketeer). This is why setting it back in the 30s makes sense; people were more willing to be amazed back then. And by bringing that sense of wonder to a modern audience, probably in 3D, the idea of what Superman is, and has always been, might be realized onscreen.
  • Also, no spandex.