Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The GIF of the Magi

I have to admit it. I nearly lost all respect for Jeffrey Zeldman today at An Event Apart when he pronounced "gif" as "jif". Yes, it was the old web debate all over again. I hadn't heard the term "jif" in years, not since my old drunkard of a boss used it back in 1998. Since then it seemed that people had realized that "gif" stands for "Graphics Interchange Format", not "Jraphics Interchange Format". I don't care what Steve Wilhite has to say about the subject. In an acronym the pronunciation shouldn't change the hard nature of the "g" sound. Choosy developers do not choose "jif", but stubborn old-schoolers still do, apparently.

Apostrophe Mavens

A group for people just like me! That's right, for curmudgeons who get off on proper punctuation and who stop and take photos of misused or abused apostrophes. While I don't go nuts for incorrect online typography (I'm always using "system quotes" rather than the appropriate “curly-q” variety), I'm a fiend about apostrophes, so much so that I managed to get Lynne Truss's Eats, Shoots, and Leaves into the book club rotation at my former place of employment. A lot of folks bristled at Truss's unapologetic tome of punctuation apoplexy. Nuts to them, I say.

Certainly, I've made some awful boners over the years (albeit mostly in typos and homonym abuse) but I try my best to get my writing proofread when it's offline and in the pages of Cashiers du Cinemart. I've adopted most of what I can recall from Truss, Strunk & White and try to review Elements of Style at least once a year to make sure I'm putting my periods in proper position and keeping my semicolons and colons straight. Neither punctuation nor conjugation were at the fore in my public education so everything I've picked up has been on my own. When it came to grammar, I simply remember diagramming sentences and being warned off splitting infinitives.

Stay strong punctuation fiends and friends of proper grammar. Keep on rocking out and correcting double negatives when you're singing song lyrics aloud ("I can't get any satisfaction..."). You are not alone.

Monday, March 26, 2007

I Have Seen The Geeks, And They Are Us

Of course there's wireless access here at An Event Apart...

I don't know why I am, but I am rather taken aback at the sheer numbers of folks in attendance of this conference. I'm sitting in one of two columns of about a dozen rows of tables where empty seats are few and far between. It's good to see such a turnout surprising nonetheless. It's pleasing to see so many other webgeeks who can laugh about things like unsupported tags and aural stylesheets.

I suppose it's also comforting to hear the soundtrack of this event, played over the speaker system here. The White Stripes, The Breeders, The Velvet Underground, and many more. All songs that I've got on my iPod. Makes me feel not so much like an outsider. I was a bit "afeared" that my web brethren would be too 2.0 for me and that I'd be some geezer scratching my bald head at references to iPhones and tags unknown.

Okay, time to hit the book table and loo before finally hearing from my "web hero" Jeffrey Zeldman.

Friday, March 23, 2007

See You Next Wednesday*

Today was a great day. It was my one year anniversary at Organic and I'm so pleased to be there. I have to say again that being fired from ePrize was the best thing to ever happen to me. I get more respect now and work a relatively normal schedule.

And, hey, during my five years at ePrize I never managed to score any kind of training that wasn't self-taught or attend any industry events that weren't webcasts. On Sunday I'm taking off to Boston for An Event Apart and I'm totally psyched. Speak to me of usability and standards compliance, oh web gods. :)

I've decided to start layout for the next issue of Cashiers du Cinemart in April. This will be my first time using Adobe InDesign so the learning curve will be fun. My other challenges are writing a bunch of intros and outros for some articles as well as digging up a bunch of photo assets that I bought when I was still in my old house (I let some stories gestate a while) and that moved with me... to parts of the new house unknown.

* I kept giggling like an idiot when I would say this to my coworkers as I left on Friday.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Counterfeit Worlds

Counterfeit Worlds

The only time I've ever been refused admittance to a film was when I tried to see BLADE RUNNER (Ridley Scott, 1982). Of course, I was just a few months north of ten years old so the box office girl was well within her rights. Little did she know that I wasn't lying when I told her that my mom was just parking the car and she'd buy the tickets if I couldn't. BLADE RUNNER was starring Harrison Ford — Han Solo, fer chrissakes! I would not be denied.

While a lot of the film was over my ten year old head, I was justifiably fascinated by the film. When TOTAL RECALL (Paul Verhoeven, 1990) came out and I realzed that both films were based on work by the same writer, I was hooked. I've been reading the short stories and novels of Philip K. Dick ever since.

After suffering through IMPOSTER (Gary Fleder, 2002) and marginally enjoying PAYCHECK (John Woo, 2003), I decided to pen an article for Cashiers du Cinemart comparing the stories of Philip K. Dick with the movies they inspired. I had been letting this notion percolate for a while and then I ran across Counterfeit Worlds: Philip K. Dick on Film by Brian J. Robb. This discover saved me a whole hell of a lot of work.

Robb does a great job of going through a cursory look at Dick's career before diving into the author's attempts (Mission: Impossible, The Invaders) and successes (an episode of Out of This World was based on his story "Imposter") in television and film. Robb's three chapters on the road to and highway from BLADE RUNNER feel recycled from Paul M. Sammon's Future Noir. At 73 pages, his coverage of BLADE RUNNER nearly takes up a third of the book, giving scant attention to other works. Certainly, IMPOSTER, SCREAMERS, BARJO, and PAYCHECK don't need as much coverage (although a mention of the ridiculous use of doves in Woo's work was sorely missing) but meatier works like MINORITY REPORT and A SCANNER DARKLY received pretty lean chapters.

While Robb's book isn't the be-all end-all that I was hoping for, it scratched an itch that I had had for a while. I hope that a future edition is in the works; something that will cover Lee Tamahori's NEXT (2007) and flesh out themes of vision and perception in MINORITY REPORT.

Loose Ends

LA Sheriff's Homicide

I'm trying to tie up a few loose ends with a few stories I've been working on for the next issue. I'm looking for two programs that were on television over the years -- both in the last few years:

  • "The Edge", an HBO series. The episode is called "Professional Man", directed and adapted by Nicholas Kazan and starring Bridget Fonda.
  • L.A. Sheriff's Homicide -- this TV movie was directed by David Anspaugh and starred Miguel Ferrer. It's also known as L.A. County 187. It was broadcast either in 1998 or 2000.

Any help finding these elusive shows would be greatly appreciated and help quell my obsessions!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Allow Me To Piss On Your Childhood...

From Promo Magazine, Mar 20, 2007 6:04 AM, PROMO Xtra, By Amy Johannes

Star Wars is invading a mailbox near you.

The U.S. Postal Service has transformed some 400 of its 280,000 mailboxes to look like the popular Star Wars robot R2D2 in support of the new stamp to be revealed March 28. The promotion is in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the popular franchise.

The R2D2 theme was chosen for the character’s likeness to an ordinary mailbox. The mailboxes can be found in high traffic locations in 200 cities, spokesperson Melissa Dodge said.

"When you see R2D2, the resemblance is just striking," Dodge said. "We couldn't pass up the opportunity."

The boxes will remain wrapped in the promotional images for three weeks. Each box promotes a Web site, USPSJediMaster.com, where consumers can watch a clip from Star Wars, in which robot C-3PO asks, "R2D2, where are you?" The next shot shows someone sliding a letter into the little robot. The last clip plugs the stamp's release in cliffhanger style: "On March 28, two powerful forces will unite." Consumers can submit their e-mail address on the site to be reminded about the new stamp, themed around Star Wars.

The main Web site features an image of R2D2 moving across the screen where visitors can also watch the Star Wars clip.

Already, people are buzzing about the promotion. Users of social networking and other sites are mapping out locations to some of the collection boxes. Others are posing for pictures as their favorite Star Wars characters next to the mailboxes.

"It’s been great," Dodge said. "People are really loving it."

While the USPS acknowledges fans' love affair with all things Star Wars, the agency is on alert for those who would like to make the mailboxes part of the personal collections. The USPS put the word out to fans not to tamper with the structures (that would be a crime) and asked local police to be on alert.

Online materials support the promotion.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Deadline Reminder

Just a reminder to all party people who are planning on contributing to the next issue of Cashiers du Cinemart (#15, baby). I'm trying to hold rock steady to an April deadline whether I'm done with everything I want to include or not.

Bring it on, folks! And, if you know of anyone itching to advertise in the next ish, point 'em my way as well.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

This Just Hurts

Thanks to Colin Geddes for this early morning kick in the crotch. Tarantino in the foreground, two amazing movies in the background. Must he taint all good things in my life? ;)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Ghost Rider -- Not Half Bad!

Ghost Rider

I'm just getting back from an evening out seeing GHOST RIDER. While I expected another laughable car wreck of a Nicolas Cage film, I was delightfully surprised by the cheesy little romp. Certainly, it's no powerhouse of daring and pathos but it wasn't an excruciating exercise in poor special effects and Cage overacting either. I think that's because the screenplay by writer/director Mark Steven Johnson (DAREDEVIL) relied on some other, stronger works for its success. Throughout GHOST RIDER I was frequently reminded of the following films/comic books (and some filmed comic books):

  • BLADE (Stephen Norrington, 1998)
  • CONSTANTINE (Francis Lawrence, 2005)
  • Preacher (Garth Ennis)*
  • ROAD HOUSE (Rowdy Herrington, 1989)
  • THE BIG LEBOWSKI (Joel Coen, 1998)
The Dude Abides

Certainly the presence of Sam Elliot chanelling Kris Kristofferson's Whistler character from BLADE while being his sensei Wade Garrett character from ROAD HOUSE and narrating as he did in THE BIG LEBOWSKI helped some of that, as did the presence of Donal Logue (not as naughty as he was in BLADE) did as well. Couple this with the fact that Ghost Rider is among the "this is a cool character that we don't know what to do with" side heroes of Marvel along with Blade, ROM, Man-Thing, and Doctor Strange helped enforce the BLADE similarities too. However, the film's supernatural/demonic underpinnings really helped call CONSTANTINE and Preacher to mind.

So, yest ye be tempted to write off GHOST RIDER before giving it a chance (I know I almost did based on it being delayed in release for over a year along with its lousy preview), go ahead and rent GHOST RIDER when it comes out on DVD. It's good for an afternoon viewing.

* Note that Garth Ennis also penned issues of Hellblazer (upon which CONSTANTINE was based) such as #41-50, #52-83, #129-133, and the recent Ghost Rider "Road to Damnation" and "Trail of Tears")

Jodorowsky Gets Legit US DVD Release!

Great news, film fans!  Subversive filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky is finally getting his due via legitimate US DVD releases of his inspirational and influential films, EL TOPO and THE HOLY MOUNTAIN.

Lost in a morass of legal infighting for the last few decades(!), these films are required viewing for anyone with a passion for film.  EL TOPO is best described as a "psychedeic frijole western" while THE HOLY MOUNTAIN is a "cinematic mindf*ck".  These two films along with his FANDO & LIS (coming back into print) and SANTA SANGRE are all ground-breaking.

EL TOPO, THE HOLY MOUNTAIN, and FANDO & LIS are now available for pre-order.  Allow me to recommend DiabolikDVD for your source:

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Way Beyond Trail

It was one of those rare late nights for me at Organic tonight. I harp on that fact because of the insane hours I used to work at ePrize when coming home at 10PM was the rule and not the exception. And speaking of exceptional...

I was at work late as part of the effort to get Jeep's latest promotion out the door; The Way Beyond Trail. It's a very fun experience that's presented via an interactive film. Subversive and rather slick, the whole effort is going to be supported by a media campaign that takes off with the opening of March Madness. While that means that I may not see any of the advertising, I'm hoping that some of them run outside of basketball games so that I'll stand a chance of seeing them.

Please go over and kick the tires at Way Beyond Trail.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Jennifers

Baltimore's favorite sons playing music from their new release.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Mission: Boston

It was seven years ago that I went to Boston the first time but I'm not sure if it really counts. Sure, I was staying at the Club Quarters downtown but the most I saw of the city was on my short walk to the T (subway) station where I'd hop a train to the business park area on the outskirts of town (last stop) and trudge my way to the office where I was stationed for a week.

I had been sent out to Boston to kick some ass and chew some bubblegum but I had forgotten to pack any bubblegum. I was to pick up some major slack in a project for Fleet Bank that the Boston office had picked up. The details are vague. I remember there not being a username or password set up for me and that I wasted a day waiting for the local IT guy to set me up with that and some much-needed software. After that it was days of sifting through some Dreamweaver-generated HTML trying to make sense of it all while cutting back the porcine code. I have no love for over-written HTML and simplifying the site while building out as many new pages as I could possibly muster during my time there (and while their software engineers were apparently engaged in other tasks) became my raison d'etre.

Overall, I didn't get much done. The unpreparedness shown with the machine I worked on typified the entire experience. I built the hooks where another developer could put in needed functionality and gave the site a sensible structure for anyone else unfortunate enough to work on it. I suppose, too, that this same lack of preparation shone in my travel arrangements. I wasted over an hour a day commuting to the job sight while there was a bevy of hotels (competitively priced, no doubt) that I walked past on my way from the train station to the office. More work, less commute. After all, I wasn't there for tourism. I was there to be some kind of avenging angel to put the project back on track. When I finally headed back to Detroit I don't know if I had made much impact. I hadn't been allowed to.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Die Hard - The Music Video

Very clever little music video. If it distresses you, just make fists with your toes.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Upcoming Film Releases

In the last few weeks I've seen the preview to Peter Berg's THE KINGDOM both online and in a movie theater (in front of THE GOOD SHEPHERD). It looks pretty good and I imagine I'll check it out when it hits theaters in April. Wait... what's that? I'm reading that this flick isn't due for release until... am I reading this right? September 28? That's got to be a misprint. No, no, everything I'm reading now says that it's release is in September 2007. That's not good. I'm going to be sick of this film before it even comes out. It'll be attached to every "adult drama" from now until October. Ugh.

America can rejoice... Apparently our prayers have been heard. The long-awaited sequel to BEAN is due to hit the U.S. in September as well! This last decade has been just so unbearable without Rowan Atkinson's unique brand of... okay, I can't go on with the charade. The only thing worse than the idea of MR. BEAN's HOLIDAY is going to be the stupid subtitle that this picture will undoubtedyly endure. Perhaps, "THE BEAN IS BACK" or "MORE MEAN, MORE BEAN" or "NOW EVEN BEANIER". This shit gets made while a Black Adder film remains absent. Where is the justice?

Great Minds and Tom Hanks

Apparently Tom Hank's need to urinate in films has managed to bubble up again. More than just Chad Demassi, there's a new online quiz at Mental Floss all about the golden boy of American cinema. Enjoy!

Gracias Sra. Loter

I'm just getting back from Cancun. Tanning, drinking, reading, and snoozing were de rigueur. It was terrific. I managed to shake the cold out of my bones before heading back to a nasty night of snow and cold back in Detroit.

I found out two things while I was down there:

  1. I should never book another trip to Cancun - Andrea does it much better. The last two times we went to Cancun I booked the trip via NWA.com and both times I managed to fuck up the reservation managing to not figure out how to book the all-inclusive package despite thinking I did. Royal Service is not the same thing as all-inclusive.
  2. I need to brush up on my Spanish - Even though I had an amazing Spanish teacher in high school, Senora Loter, it's been quite a few years since I've habla'd on a regular basis. To make things worse, my four semesters of Italian in college managed to render my Spanish into a romantic mess at times. I'm going to be looking into taking a Spanish class at one of the local schools.