The ABCs of Horror

An Alphabet of Horror for your pre-Halloween festivities. Jared von Hindman of Head Injury Theater has put together a ABC of horror movie monsters and ghouls (or at least he did a couple of years ago. I just got around to it via a link from Coolios, which is kindly linking to my Last Supper smorgasbord. Yay, interweb!) Anyway, Hindman's site sucked me in for quite awhile, just like current fave Topless Robot, which together make me wonder why I bother.

And seeing as I an name dropping sites, I picked the letter C above for Matt of Culture Kills who doesn't think clowns are scary, but has more than enough film-related fears to last a lifetime.

Music And Blasters And Old Jedi Masters

His name was Solo
He was a pilot
With a blaster at his side
And a smile 12 parsecs wide
There with Chewbacca
He was a Wookie
They met with Luke and Obi-Wan
About the Millenium Falcon
Docking bay ninety-four
Stormtroopers at the door
With a flash of Ben's light-saber, now there's an arm on the floor

At the Star Wars, Star Wars Cantina
The weirdest creatures you've ever seen-a
Here at the Star Wars, Star Wars Cantina
Music and blasters
And old Jedi masters
At the Star Wars...

I came across this video of Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine's parody of Barry Manilow's Copacabana last week and I can't get the damn thing out of my head — so I'm passing it on to you. Mind you I was already susceptible to this happening as Copacabana has always been a guilty pleasure of mine, often appearing in karaoke rotations.

Popped Culture — bringing you last year's videos, today!

Some Throws Are More Equal Than Others

Propaganda posters for the World Rock Paper Scissors Society's online museum. I love the Soviet-inspired, worker's paradise style. I first saw these on Friday, at the Toronto premiere of Mike McKeown's documentary Rock Paper Scissors: A Geek Tragedy.

It's a great film, the making of which equals the passion, time and money sunk into the World RPS Society by the film's main subjects, the Walker brothers. The film also has a real love of Toronto rarely seen on the big screen, especially by a Calgarian no less. I know Mike is looking for distribution, which his movie clearly deserves. I will let you all know if I hear anything.

In the meantime, Torontonian Monica Martinez was named the 2008 Rock Paper Scissors World Champion on Saturday, with a final throw of scissors beating paper.

Rock Paper Scissors - The Documentary

"A combination of Halloween, Mardi Gras. Really a Star Trek convention with binge drinking and much better looking women."

This weekend is the 2008 Rock Paper Scissors World Championships here in Toronto (I'm not kidding either, there's $13,000 in prize money). Along with that comes a screening of my friend Mike McKeown's film Rock Paper Scissors - The Documentary.

Mike worked on this for years (as did a couple other friends) and I've been waiting to see it for awhile. Here is the synopsis:

"The Walker brothers wanted to turn a child's game into a good-natured competitive sport, but when Rock Paper Scissors fanatics converge on the World RPS Championships, they're caught between big business, talk show pundits, Playmate mascots, and a battle of good versus evil that asks the question, "Can purity beat commerce?"

Rock Paper Scissors is a verité style documentary that follows the story of the Walker brothers and the evolution of RPS into a legitimate sport of skill and strategy, worthy of training and competition. Starting from humble beginnings with only the love of the game as their motivation, the Walker brothers reach a crossroads during the film as they're approached by corporate sporting giants Fox Sports and ESPN to back the sport with an official world circuit culminating with the annual world championships. The story is a classic Greek tragedy waiting to unfold.

As we navigate our way through outrageous characters, hilarious strategies and heated competition, one thing becomes absolutely clear -- RPS is much more than a game, it's a lifestyle. While it may sound like a mockumentary, these people are definitely real."

Hope to see you there...

Anatomy Of A Gummi Bear

I don't know if I'll ever be able to eat a Gummi Bear again. The idea that they have a full skeletal system and organs freaks me out a little. I suppose they are soft bones — makes them more chewy than crunchy.

This wonderfully twisted piece of anatomy comes from Jason Freeny, who has similar looks at the innards of Lego minifigs and balloon animals, which all remind me of a series of skeletons of cartoon characters. Faux anatomy is creepy fun.

Where The TV Truth Lies

Just watched Heroes and never has there been a truer TV title card.
Why. Won't. People. Stay. Dead!

Anyway Glark has put together a series of title cards that cut to the heart of what it going on shows like The Amazing Race, Lost, Battlestar Galactica and others.

(Link via Ka Ge, who really should update her blog.)

All Right Mr. Groening, I'm Ready For My Close-Up

The Simpsons are big. It's the pictures that got small!

Much of the joy of watching the yellow denizens of Springfield is the cornucopia of pop cultural references that make up every episode. I've always felt the show was my reward for a lifetime of watching TV and movies, especially as the writers and animators constantly borrow from classic films.

Of course, some references manage to get slip by, no matter how diligent ones has been about sitting on the couch and inside darkened movie theatres. For example, I never realized that a scene from Duffless, where Lisa was experimenting on Bart with two cupcakes was directly from A Clockwork Orange.

So imagine how happy I was to come across a Spanish Simpsons' site that has painstakingly matched screenshots of the show with their cinematic equivalent. I knew most of these, but it was still great to see them side by side, shot for shot. Below is one of my all-time favourites is the recreation of Psycho's shower scene in Itchy and Scratchy and Marge. Take that, Gus Van Sant. Check out Actualidad Simpson for many, many more.

Brush With Ungratefulness

Back in 1991, Ringo Starr said he would answer every one of his fan letters, "and I don't care if it takes me another 20 years." Seventeen years later, he's had enough.

Sure, his pledge was made by a cartoon version of himself on The Simpsons episode Brush with Greatness, but the sloughing off of his fans was no joke. Earlier this week the fourth Beatle posted a short rant on his website (which now appears gone), telling anyone who was still enamored with the drummer to stuff it.
"This is a serious message. I want to tell you please, after the 20th of October do not send fan mail to any address you have. Nothing will be signed. If that has a date on the envelope it’s gonna be tossed. I'm warning you with peace and love, I have too much to do. So no more fan mail. Thank you, thank you. And no objects to be signed. Nothing. Anyway, peace and love, peace and love."
Apparently peace and love is the equivalent of telling somebody "with all due respect" before you dump all over their idea.

Of course Ringo is under no obligation to sign anything for anyone, but I can't help but wonder what influence his Simpson appearance had on his level of fan mail.
Dear Marge,
Thanks for the fab painting of Yours Truly. I hung it on me wall. You're quite an artist.
In answer to your question, yes, we do have hamburgers and fries in England. But we call french fries `chips'.
Love, Ringo.
PS: Forgive the lateness of my reply.
Have people been sending him new mail ever since? And the show is in permanent reruns, so countless people have see it anew every month. And how many budding painters will give up their dreams, just because Ringo has gotten all crotchety?

Disco Will Keep You Alive

Well, you can tell by the way I use my walk,
I'm a woman's man, no time to talk...
For those who think disco sucks, knowing the Bee Gees mega-hit Stayin' Alive could mean the difference between life and death.

When administering CPR to a heart attack victim, the perfect rhythm is 100 compressions per minute and, according to the strut-inducing beat of Stayin' Alive clocks in at an almost perfect 103 beats per minute.

In a study to be presented at the Scientific Assembly of the American College of Emergency Physician's annual meeting, med students and physicians trained to perform CPR to the beat of Stayin' Alive maintained close to the ideal rhythm.

Take that, punk rock!

Supposedly Queen's Another One Bites the Dust also has the proper beat, but that's just negative, and we just don't go for that sort of thing around here.

And because you can't not have this song in your head...


Why? Why not, I suppose. Who wouldn't want an armored cyborg dashing about on a magical beast that farts glitter, as is my understanding.

io9 describes it as "fan art that hovers perfectly in the canny valley between sarcasm and homage." I see it more as a fever-induced nightmare brought on by late-night TV viewing and an overindulgence in science fantasy novels.

I'm going to get one for my wall.

(Link: Photobasement via io9)

Everything's Drawn And Super 80s

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Is there an a-ha resurgence in the air? Could be, it's been awhile since there's been a big Norwegian band (barring, of course, my current lack of musical knowledge).

Anyway, I love the literal take on a-ha's Take On Me video. Worth a watch if you haven't already seen it everywhere else.

It reminded me of a Family Guy episode Breaking Out Is Hard to Do, where Chris is sucked into the a-ha video while in the supermarket, for the same reason anything happens on Family Guy.

It also reminds me that I listened to a whole lot of soft pop when I was in high school. Still, it's better than Glass Tiger.

This Book Decapitated Michael Ondaatje

This is the funniest, most violent trailer for a piece of Can-Lit I have seen this month. OK, ever. Who knew there was such a thing as book trailers?

I get sent a lot of emails from people who want to promote their album/TV show/product/zoo, but most have clearly never read me before. This, on the other hand, gets it: Margaret Atwood driving an 18-wheeler. As the trailer says, "What the fuck was that?!"

So I have no idea if it has anything to do with the graphic novel its promoting, Etcetera and Otherwise, but I figure its worth at least a look. Beats the hell out of My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors.

Imaginationland: Realer Than Any Of Us

"Think about it. Haven't Luke Skywalker and Santa Claus affected your lives more than most real people in this room? I mean, whether Jesus is real or not, he... he's had a bigger impact on the world than any of us have.

And the same could be said of Bugs Bunny and, and Superman and Harry Potter. They've changed my life, changed the way I act on the Earth. Doesn't that make them kind of 'real.'

They might be imaginary, but they're more important than most of us here. And they're all gonna be around long after we're dead. So in a way, those things are more realer than any of us."
— Kyle Broflovski, Imaginationland: Episode III, South Park
I just saw this episode this weekend and thought it was a great sentiment. It really got to the heart of what I love about pop culture.

'It's Not Fair, It's My Turn To Be In Charge'

Rick Mercer captured the inner children of all our Canadian leadership hopefuls. I can't believe the CBC didn't rush his show back on air the moment it became clear the election was inevitable. The Rick Mercer Report and This Hour Has 22 Minutes offer up some of the best political comedy in the country (even if they could be a little sharper sometimes) and to have them back only with two weeks left in the campaign is a travesty. Still, if this is what we get in the short time left, all is forgiven.

Arts Cuts Rise From the Crypt

With federal elections unspooling in both Canada and the U.S. (ours is much, much shorter) there was bound to be some similar issues. It's no surprise to see economic woes topping agendas, but I never would have thought pop culture issues would have had any sort of resonance.

But it seems Sarah Palin, she of the much-mocked Republican vice-presidency, has at least mused about banning books, which has got some people justifiably worried. One of those is Cathy Gaines Mifsud, whose father William Gaines was publisher of Mad Magazine and the original Tales From the Crypt. He was subjected to a Senate hearing in the '50s which aimed to clamp down on comics, so it's a sensitive subject for the family.

So she wrote an editorial. "What usually seems to be behind banning books is an attempt to repress ideas that may offer alternative political views. This is not only un-American -- blatantly violating the very concept of free speech -- but it is assuming that people are unable to come to their own informed conclusions." Who knew comics had editorials?

On our side of the border, our Prime Minister Stephen Harper has stirred up a culture war, lambasting artists as culturally elite whiners. Wether or not the programs cut were worthy is hardly the point — it is the atmosphere that it creates, that anyone in a creative field is a lazy drag on society.

The issue is gaining traction, but there isn't much time for anyone to get much of a response going in a campaign which is already more than halfway over. Quebec artists are up in arms, but I've not seen much response from big names in entertainment.

Rick Mercer, as a producer of his own show, told a radio station he's hired employed more electricians and carpenters than Harper ever has — a good line, but we need more to change the idea that the arts - let's call it pop culture - isn't for everyone. It's no book banning, but it comes from the same place.

Crypt -Keeper via underwire

If a Caribou Wins in Toronto, Does Anybody Hear?

Electronica artist Caribou won the third annual Polaris Music Prize Monday night, a prize that has quickly become the preeminent music award in Canada, due to its $20,000 jackpot and the involvement of 178 music journalists, bloggers, broadcasters and critics - which keeps any complaints at the final results to a minimum.

This years short list of nominees was a mix of music I knew and just as many that I had never heard of: Black Mountain, Plants and Animals, Basia Bulat, Stars, Shad, Kathleen Edwards, Two Hours Traffic, Holy Fuck, The Weakerthans

So this is where my friend Kyle comes in with his site Six Pix Mix. Kyle has been blogging a weekly sampling of great music, often new, indie and obscure (depending on your music geek level).

Anywho... he put together a Polaris sampler that you should check out. Go there, now.