November 8, 2003

Hmmm... ninjas.

Gil Merritt is a freelance cartoonist in Upstate New York. He has a website with the domain name "Horde of Ninjas" which in itself is enough to earn a link to his comic Perky & Slick. Bonus features include the comic being enjoyable as well. It's delightfully nasty in a warm and fuzzy sort of way.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:43 PM

Instant classic

The Wingnut debate dictionary has been compiled, and I've already submitted my suggestions for missing entries.

Two I tend to notice on a lot of pro-war / anti-Left sites are "going Dennis Miller," which I describe as "using 9/11 as one's excuse to support the entire GOP agenda because you endorse George W. Bush's to rid the world of the godless, Judeo-Christian-hating mud people but in a way that doesn't sound racist because 9/11 hurt you a lot."

My second term is "Involuntary Rallaction," which we should define as "the immediate disapproval of anything said or done by Ted Rall on the grounds that he is, in fact, Ted Rall." (See also "Moore's Code" or "Treachering")

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:22 PM

Well, it was fun while it didn't completely suck

Yeah. Umm... Matrix Revolutions. Yaaaaaaaaaaaah.

I can't even say that this movie was bad. It wasn't bad, because it met the expectations I had for it, which considering the second movie weren't that high to begin with. (Begin spoiler warnings here, BTW.) So I won't use the word "bad," as easy as it would be to do so. Rather, I'll use the word "absurd."

The Matrix Revolutions was one of the most absurd movies I've seen in a while. Not in some Terry Gilliam/Spike Jonze absurd, but in terms of basic structure. I'm a film student, and four years of screenwriting and character concept theory just bled from by brainstems when watching this thing. As a narrative, there simply was none. Scenes just ended and intertwined with themselves in ways that outright refused to correlate. Moments meant to enhance tension and drama are utterly destroyed by characters vomiting spontaneous one-liners that will live on solely in the signatures of LiveJournal users that result in the audience, I kid you not, flat-out laughing at the screen. I fondly remember the moment when watching The Lost World: Jurassic Park 2 when the girl discovers the overhead pipe, which she can then use to complete an uneven bar routine thus overcoming her inability to be a great gymnast and defeat a Velociraptor at the same time and saying "well, that's the most ridiculous thing I'll ever see in a movie." This movie not only finally defeats that moment, but does it in several occasions.

Special project note for aspiring film students: a quick and easy way to ruin a movie, hell, ruin an entire movie franchise if you want the extra credit, is to end a climactic, triumphant scene with a character saying, and I quote: "Neo! I believe!" Look children, we've saved Zion and brought Tinkerbell back to life!

Character development, likewise, just invokes a Tourret's-style method of sponteneous decisions to make this-or-that character appear and be relevant for a minute or two, maybe. The movie opens with critical missions to rescue Neo from that French guy and his new sidekick, the "Train Man." Trinity and Morpheus, with the help of the Kung-Fu guy who appears randomly when there's a need to fill the shot, defeat Frenchie and Train Man- maybe. You see, they both decide to say a few lines and then suddeny cease to exist in the movie. The desire for The Guy From Oz and his girlfriend to see each other again is supposed to be a romantic angle, but it's also supposed to be overshadowed by the enduring love-strength of Trinity and Neo, who by the end of the film is not supposed to be blatantly Christ-like in any way whatsoever, no siree nope unh-unh. We finish this up with "The Kid" making sure we fail to understand his importance to anything and a sudden realization that the Albino Rasta twins from the second movie were apparently sick. They just went away. Yeah, the unstoppable agents of whatever, do I really even care anymore, no I don't. Oh, and some Indian girl... means something. Maybe.

If that last paragraph is confusing, understand that's what my train of thought was like throughout this movie. I watched it, it ended, and I immediately looked at my watch and wondered what the hell I was doing for the last two and a half hours. It just made no sense. Hard-core Matrix fans at this point are likely to e-mail me now and tell me that I don't "understand" the inner complexeties of the movie, having not played the Playstation game and/or drank enough Powerade to fully enrich myself in the Matrix experience. You know, they still make fun of how they thought giving out explanation cards when Dune was in theaters was a silly idea. Now I'm supposed to feel shame for not buying the $250 video game system required to understand a movie? The day we as a society collectively suggest that two hours isn't enough time to fully develop Keanu Reeves is the day we should all put shotguns in our mouths.

Chris gave a great analysis of the movie that I agree with except for one part, that being his paragraph labeled "#1." Chris claims:

The climactic fight scene in this movie really might be my favorite sequence ever filmed -- it was pretty much exactly every action fantasy I've ever had compressed into one scene.
There is a reason I disagree with Chris completely here, and I can only assume it's because Chris doesn't know the reference I'm about to make, which is crucial to seeing how utterly ridiculous this fight sequence was. People who haven't seen the movie will be confused at this statement, while anyone who already saw it will cackle in laughing agreement:

Dragonball.

The entire final fight sequence was a goddamn episode of Dragonball Z. A hard rain falls as Smith absorbs the power of the Oracle. Smith has gone super-Sayin! Every other action in that fight sequence was from that single Anime- the mid-air somersaults, the constant air punches, the dive-bomb explosion everything. The only thing missing was Smith's hair turning yellow as he hurled a fireball at Neo with lots of flashing lines behind him.

That said, credit where credit is due. Amidst all the absurdity and, to note Chris' perfect description, incoherent cosmology that was the dialogue, this movie holds its redemption in the career-defining performance of Hugo Weaving. With each scene throughout the movie, Weaving puts a sense of presence into Agent Smith, ironically the character notable in the first movie for being monotonous and generic. My love for the final fight scene of this movie is, unlike Chris' admiration for the action, culled from the emotion Weaving pours into Smith's dialogue during the breaks in fighting. In a space of about fifteen minutes, Weaving combines grating voice tone with a supernatural ability to contort every single sinew of his head into a scene which hits you physically with how utterly chilling the concept is: hate, fear, complete loss of emotional control... sheer, unadulterated madness. You are watching Smith go insane. It is hard enough for an actor to play someone insane without making it cliche and/or comical. It is even harder to play a character who progresses towards this state. The frightening level of emotion Weaving pours into this one scene nearly makes the cost of admission worth it; without a doubt it solidifies Weaving as one of the most goddamn fantastic actors working today.

The Wachowski brothers could have turned the Matrix trilogy into a genre-definer of my generation, something that finally unseated Star Wars from its multi-decade throne of over-hyped sci-fi dominance. Instead, everything that made the first Matrix film amazing was stripped from the final two. Failing to realize that no one gave a damn about the semi-coherent plotline and wanted to see and feel the awesomeness of bullet time, the swan song of the Matrix was 99% storyline that you're physically incapable of caring about. Even the parts of the story that do interest you, i.e. Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus, are blocked by emphasis on the battle to defend Zion, which by some amazing feat of temporal physics somehow takes up about five hours of a 120-minute movie. With the entire movie hyping the finality of the war with the machines, the abruptness of the film's actual ending leaves you wondering if the crew ran out of film and decided now's as good a time as any to stop.

The first movie ends with Neo hanging up the phone and flying off to free the world, leaving just how he does that to your imagination. Sadly, two movies follow that story to provide a conclusion that's less resolute. This story ended four years ago, and ultimately we needed two more movies to convince ourselves what we sorta knew all along: it can't get any better than that.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 2:15 AM

November 7, 2003

And the first nominee for "Concept of the Century" goes to...

I empathize with Howard Dean. It is important to embrace Southerners of all types to convince them that they need to adopt support of the Democratic Party platform because it's what they truly believe in. It's equally important to shed the "Northeast-Elitist-Liberal" stereotype that makes the South believe that Yanks percieve everyone in the south as ignorant morons.

There is a stumbling block, however, in actions such as today's news which casts a very dark shadow on the idea of trying to think that large portions of people from the South aren't... well... absolute morons.

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- The State Board of Education voted Thursday to approve biology textbooks, despite criticism from religious activists who say the books as written fail to present the anti-evolution point of view.

Some religious and alternative science groups had argued that weaknesses in the theory of evolution weren't adequately presented in the books. But scientists and educators argued that the theory of evolution is widely believed and is a cornerstone of modern scientific research.

You read that correctly. Not in some Mormon or Bible-Belt inbred community where the most educated locals are most notable for their renditions of Dueling Banjos in between rape-breaks, but in Austin "The Fucking Capital Of" Texas, members of the state Board of Education are upset because their textbooks now teach evolution.

I'd like to emphasize this: what this means is that, prior to this vote, the school board of the capital of the largest state in the Continental U.S. did not require students to learn the theory of evolution. And members of the school board- people who are, from how I understand local municipality works, elected in light of their alleged profession in promoting proper education in local schools- are upset- upset- because biology textbooks do not, and I am quoting here, "present the anti-evolution point of view."

Can we save me the paragraph and accept the invariable understanding that the "anti-evolution point of view" means they want science textbooks to suggest that invisible sky-fairies used magic to make the earth? You know, a theory which, although like evolution a theory, is notable in difference from evolution in that it's not fucking scientific in any way whatsoever?

That would be great, because it will allow me to get to The Statement. Brace yourselves, folks. This one's a fucking keeper.

"I wish we'd had the opportunity to vote on each book because they're not the same," said board member Don McLeroy, one of the four board members who voted against adopting the books.

McLeroy called the presentation of evolution in most of the books "dogmatic."

"People don't realize the threat of scientific dogmatism," he said. "They're not looking for the truth."

No pun intended, but Ho-leeeeee shit. My brain's leaking. Let's read that one again.

"People don't realize the threat of scientific dogmatism ... They're not looking for the truth."
I will state again, so it sits in your brain and lingers there ensuring you actually understand its impact: this man is a member of the Texas Board of Education.

I have, at this moment, the utmost respect for Howard Dean, if only for the fact that he has proven to be capable of encountering people from the South and not, even if only for a moment, even in such isolated examples, consider them to be quite possibly the stupidest creatures on the face of the fucking earth. It is, after reading things like this, something I confess I may shamefully never be able to accomplish.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:09 AM

November 6, 2003

I'm lovin' it

Joan Kroc, wife of McDonald's founder Ray Kroc, bequeaths $200 million to NPR.

The gift is the largest single monetary donation to an American cultural institution, and over twice NPR's annual operating budget.

(via Hesoid)

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:21 AM

Say what?

The Ambassador and the General were briefing me on the -- the vast majority of Iraqis want to live in a peaceful, free world. And we will find these people and we will bring them to justice.
-George W. Bush, 10/27/03

(via Orwellian Times)

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:05 AM

Oh look someone abuses PATRIOT Act who'd of thunk Pt. 6,332,107

PATRIOT Act used to hunt down evildoers in strip clubs.

Anyone else find it slightly dangerous for the country how desensitized the word "terrorist" is becomming through grotesque overuse?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:00 AM

November 5, 2003

New comic - "Two Rascals Invade a Home and Blame the Owner for Their Erroneous Actions"

Because I was bored, that's why.

Large Format - 800px, 100K

Small Format - 600px, 60K

Posted by August J. Pollak at 1:18 AM

November 4, 2003

They simply do not care, do they.

I'm convinced that the conservative Right simply doesn't care about looking logical anymore. There's no other way to explain the piss-poor job they've been doing in trying to look credible with their outrage over this CBS (now Showtime) movie about Ronald Reagan.

There will come an eventual time in which the hard-right GOP will have to accept the honest fact that, agree or disagree with his political leaning, Reagan wasn't the reincarnation of Christ on Earth. The anger over this film appears to be over "blatant untruths in characterizations" that seemed to be of no complaint in films about Jessica Lynch, the Kennedys, and of course, George W. Bush himself.

What makes this even more (sad or hysterical? Your pick, folks) is that with the Showtime move, angered wingnuts are now furious at the very same network they praised only a few months earlier for their propoganda piece on George W. Bush. Watch this, it took me literally five minutes to do: Free Republic thread on how great it was for Showtime to air movie about George W. Bush. Free Republic thread on how bad Showtime is for airing movie about Reagan.

As stated above: they simply do not care. For a group that makes masterful, well-covered strokes of power-hunger in election fraud and dirty campaigning and subtle attempts to loosen gun control and tighten restrictions on abortion, you almost feel disappointed in the Right for being as blatantly inexcusable as this.

Forget, of course, the massive turnaround in opinion everyone angered by the Reagan movie will make ten years from now when "The Clintons: Insert Ominous Description Here" gets made-fot-TV. DC 9/11 and the hypocritical response is enough of an obscenity in itself. When the conservative Right decides to complain about "blatant untruths in the characterizations" of 3,000 dead Americans for the purposes of cannonizing a sitting president, then they can make their whining about a sick old man convincing.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:06 AM

November 3, 2003

Golly! That would make you a hypocritical monster, wouldn't it?

Hey, you know that Robert Schindler guy? He's the father of Terry Schiavo, the woman who Daddy and Jeb Bush subverted the constitution to keep alive because he's too much of a coward to accept the humanity of ending the decade-long suffering of his comatose daughter?

Yeah, so he, umm, pulled the plug on his own mother.

Sometimes I wish Hell was real.

(via Atrios)

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:55 PM

Yeah, that's about right

I agree with the first comment in Oliver's latest post about returning the draft. Speaking from experience with some of them at NYU, the most likely side benefit of a draft would be the College Republican Party dissolving overnight.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:37 AM

I Hunger. Graaaaaargh.

Hello all, back from my mini-vacation. Bear with me, I've got some stuff to take care of in order to get back into tha groove thang.

I'm really annoyed that I once again forgot to take a picture of this one billboard on Rt. 91 North towards Hartford. It's an ad for this guy named Dan Perkins and his used car lot, and it's always just this weird guy looking ominously at you, his giant, disembodied head floating above quotes like "Dan Perkins has the best pre-owned Hondas in Connecticut!" or something like that. I'll eventually get a photo of it because I know a guy who'll get a kick out of it.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:32 AM