Tuesday, June 29, 2010

In Praise of the Goofy Undead


"Grr! Grrr, I say!"


Tonight I'll have the pleasure of escorting The Lovely Wife to a screening of Eclipse, the next in a seemingly never-ending series of movies about Glittery Vampires, Shirtless Werewolves, and the terminally-boring women who love them.

Yes, I said pleasure.

These movies make me laugh. Not in the meanspirited, dismissive sense, but in the goodnatured, along-for-the-ride-in-a-dark-room-filled-with-quite-literally-squealing-women sense. I recognize precisely why this series is so popular, and I recognize that my gender makes it impossible for me to connect with it in the same way that so very many women have connected with it, but that doesn't mean that I can't enjoy the films in my own way: as comedy. One of the best comedic moments of the decade involves Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, some wirework, and an utterly-hilarious, Looney Tunes-style run through the forest.

These films are Goofy (capital G intended), and I mean that in the best possible way. This quality is best exemplified for me by Jasper, a character that I'm dangerously close to flat-out loving based on his scant minutes of screentime so far, and on the most ludicrious facial expressions I've ever witnessed in a "vampire" movie. I'm told that Jasper and his VERY LARGE EYES play a much bigger part in the story of Eclipse, which has me genuinely excited for it. That, along with reports of a weird, uncomfortable scene involving a tent, a shirtless werewolf, a very cold, very boring woman and a voyeur vampire have me anticipating a great time at the theater tonight.

Please do not misunderstand me: I am not making fun of anyone who enjoys the Twilight series unironically. I admire your passion, and I'm frankly thrilled that so many women have found a series of books/films that encourage them to "geek out" with all of us nerdy boys. Lord knows that I've enjoyed films, shows and books that are definitively terrible - far worse than this Twilight business - so I'm in no position to judge anyone based on what they do or don't like. Never be ashamed of genuinely enjoying something - that's my philosophy. And if you hear me chuckling away in your theater as The Most Boring Yet Also Apparently Most Desirable Woman In The World is fought over by two guys who should really just take each other home and have Glittery, Furry gay sex? Well, know that I'm loving it just as much as you are. Viva La Jasper!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Prime(r)d For More



Primer is one of the most interesting films you've never seen.

Shot on an infintesimal budget ($7,000!) by a first-time writer/director/actor/editor/composer(!!!), featuring no "name" talent, and containing a story that must literally be seen more than once in order to piece things together, Primer is fundamentally challenging, fundamentally intelligent cinema.

Rent it. Seriously.

Better yet, buy it. Click through my Amazon link on the sidebar and pick up a copy. Contribute some of your hard-earned cash to Art that was painstakingly crafted by a singular vision (literally), not a corporate processing plant. Ambition is to be celebrated, and Primer is nothing if not (insanely) ambitious.

Anywho, the point of all this giddy recommendationing is this: Shane Carruth, the writer/director/actor behind Primer, seems to be potentially moving forward on his next project. Chud.com reports that Rian Johnson - director/writer of Brick and The Brothers Bloom, both movies you should also rent - tweeted (uggghhh) the following news yesterday: "Shane is alive and well and has a mind-blowing sci-fi script. Let's all pray to the movie-gods that he gets it made soon."

Apparently, the title of the script is "A Topiary," and there's a site up now featuring the intriguingly-vague image posted above (and nothing else, or I'd link to it also). A site called Playlist apparently has the script for the film, which they've written up. I'm increasingly wary of spoiling myself on a film before I see it, so I'll be avoiding more details on this one and simply hoping that Carruth finds the funding he's looking for.

Twin Peaks Discussion: "Traces to Nowhere" and "Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer"



Hola, all.

I'm working on the write-up for this week's episodes. Much fun is being had. If you've watched them and want to comment on them before the column posts you can do so right here. Friday brings the first opportunity for all of you to cancel the show/column and start over, and I have no idea what the result of that voting is going to be. Will you keep Twin Peaks alive? Or will it fade away again?

We'll find out soon. In the meantime this space is yours.

Two of you have started writing up the episodes along with me, and I encourage others of you who are interested in doing that to go ahead and try it. Send me a link to your work via email, or just post it in the comments.

To read "Holy Venom's" thoughts on the Pilot and on Traces to Nowhere, go to Ramblings Concerning Nothing.

To read Katie's thoughts on the Pilot, go to All Shall Be Well and All Shall Be Well.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

You Have Now Been Updated




I'm going to be tackling two episodes of Twin Peaks in this week's column. It feels right, and it'll ensure that we move more quickly through the shows I cover on Lost & Found. I'll likely do two eps a week going forward from this point, unless the installment in question deserves more verbiage than that.

Your homework for Friday: Watch Traces to Nowhere and Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer. If you're writing anything on the show as we go make sure to let us know in the comments. I'll be putting together a Master List of L&F participants here on Verbosity! so that folks can click through and check out your thoughts and hard work.

Have a great day.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Your Waffles Offend Me




That's today's TeeFury design. Who knew that waffles and bacon could provide a helpful look at the power of symbols? Here are a few of the comments related to this image, taken from that same page:

"As a veteran I find this offensive."

"offensive."

"I am also a vet, and I don't find this too bad."

"I'mma say pass. I'm a big respect the flag person. Plus, i wouldn't want to listen to my retired soldier father complain everytime i wore it."

"It's clever and all, and anything invoking Homer's classic drool-line is worth considering, but these days anything that even remotely smacks of 'we're so freakin' awesome....USA! USA! USA!' just rubs me all kinds of the wrong way."


Uhh...Wow.

I could understand these comments better if the shirt pictured, say, a burning flag or the slogan "America! F*ck Yeah!" or something similarly political. But a flag made of waffles and bacon? What are the politics of breakfast foods? What's the offensive aspect here? What about this image "even remotely smacks of 'we're so freakin' awesome....USA! USA! USA!'"?

Americans have always had a quasi-religious relationship with our flag. We worship it, in a very true sense of the word. We attempt to keep people from harming it by creating laws; we have specific ways of treating, storing, and respecting it. We swear allegiance before it. We become aggravated by it because of the actions of our officials, or because we disagree with the direction of the country as a whole.

We do all of this for a piece of cloth - one that's probably been manufactured in Taiwan. We do it because of what that piece of cloth represents to us, personally.

All of which is to say that symbols are potent and bewildering things.

While I understand a veteran's pride in the flag - a symbol that represents the ideals that they've fought so valiantly for - there is a danger inherent in putting too much meaning into symbols. That danger is illustrated helpfully for us in the image above and in the comments it inspired. Scott McCloud's book, "The New Adventures of Abraham Lincoln" (a ton of fun to read, although McCloud's computer-assisted illustrations are laughably dated and crude now - buy it through my Amazon advertising link!) has Abraham Lincoln address the modern-day American people on just this very topic, and this seems like a good excuse to republish that address:

"My friends. My fellow Americans. I can't tell you what you want to hear. I don't know how to be your symbol. Even in my day, I was a little too human for the job. [referring to the Lincoln memorial] It was you who built this temple. It was you who carved this body out of marble and set it on a throne. All I gave you was an old man's leathery skin to stretch out upon the drafting table, to begin to diagram your future.

...Not that it isn't flattering. Don't get me wrong. I did want you to like me. Why, in my day, it looked like I might be remembered as the worst president of all time. Now some say I was the best? That sure is nice. Of course, getting shot probably helped. Shot by Booth. Who, by the way, wasn't half the actor that his father was!

...What was I talking about? AH! Symbols, America, can be useful tools. But beware of those who would have you used by them! Some of their symbols are pictures, some are familiar phrases, some mere gestures. They are all designed to steal your hearts, America, but care little for your minds. It is your duty to assign both organs to attend them.

Otherwise, dear friends, there may yet come a day when a red, white and blue rectangle of weather-beaten fabric hoist upon a metal pole may be raised in importance high above the freedoms it once so humbly represented."


All of which is to say that sometimes waffles n' bacon are just waffles n' bacon, to mangle Siggy Freud, and that one might want to be aware of how beholden one is to a symbol as opposed to the ideals it purports to represent. When breakfast offends you it's safe to say that you might be taking things just a liiiiiiiiittle too seriously.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Twin Peaks (S1, ep. 1) Discussion

I'm in the midst of writing up the Pilot for Twin Peaks. It'll post on Chud.com tomorrow. In the meanwhile, here's a space for you to discuss the episode. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it, and I encourage you to let me know what your opinion of it is/was. Please, no spoilers as to the Killer's identity or the details of the final episode in the comments.

If you've got the ability to take screencaps of the episodes as we watch, or know of an online resource for them, could you let me know? I'd appreciate having the option to post pictures of the episode that I'm writing up, and I've so far come up empty-handed when it comes to episode-specific screencap sites.

Thanks so much!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Lost & Found: And The Winner Is....



Click here to be taken to the full article, which gives some unsolicited advice on how to watch Twin Peaks, talks a bit about what's interesting to me about it, and generally rambles on for no discernable reason (an aspect I should look into copyrighting, since I'm so darned fond of it, apparently).

I'll be watching the pilot episode tonight. Check in tomorrow for the InstaReaction!

UPDATE: No Instareaction today, obviously. No time to watch last night (sadface). I've seen a couple of folks on Chud complain that the pilot episode is "slow" and "boring." I disagree, but I think that's a valid subjective reaction, especially because the pilot is intentionally paced as a kind of requiem. If you've never watched Twin Peaks before, let me suggest that you approach it the way you would an older film.

Pass The Sentence

If you don't know the drill already, you can learn the rules of the game by clicking here. The short version: Add one sentence, and one sentence only, to the introduction sentence provided directly below. No one person can add two consecutive sentences.

This week's sentence:

"It was better than nothing, but not by much."

Friday, June 11, 2010

Lost & Found

Lost & Found is here!

This should be fun. I hope you'll vote and spread the word. I'll have the results up here on Monday morning.

If you'd like to refer to the Master List, just click this link.

UPDATE:

Deadwood, Twin Peaks, Carnivale and Firefly are the clear front-runners so far. Who will seize the nonexistent-crown? Find out....on Monday morning!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Pass The Sentence (06.07.10)

Morning, all.

After a refreshing weekend and some time spent working on the inaugural edition of Lost and Found (up this week on Chud.com) I'm ready to start posting some of that non-Lost nonsense I promised all of you, and what better way to kick things off than with an undemanding ongoing feature?

Every Monday before noon I'll post an opening sentence - a starting point for all of you to build off of. That sentence will be intentionally open-ended, enabling you to construct something elegiac, something horrific, something comedic, or something else altogether from that initial root, depending on your collective whim.

To play along, copy my first sentence into the comment box for this post, and then add your own second sentence. The next commenter, copy the first two sentences and add a third, and so on and so forth until we've built a communal story/poem/senseless Frankenstein from our collective efforts. Feel free to take things in any direction you see fit, and to end/change things at any time. There's no time limit and no end-date; there's also no pressure to make this objectively "good" or "interesting" as a whole. Concentrate on writing a sentence that's genuinely interesting to you, and that logically (or illogically) follows from what's already been written. Approach the exercise as its own reward.

You can contribute as often as you'd like, but there's one firm rule: No person may make two consecutive contributions.

Here we go:

"There was no ignoring the Elephant in the room."

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Let The Games Begin

Welcome to "Verbosity!" - your one-stop shop for all things MMorse. Those of you who've followed me here from Back to the Island, thanks for making the trip; those of you visiting for the first time: Greetings, salutations, aloha, hola, wilkommen and いらしゃいます.

This site will feature links to my upcoming "Lost and Found" column on Chud.com (starts next week! Prepare for Wild Rumpus-ing!), interviews with various celebrity-types (look for my interview with Tim Roth, coming soon) and my random thoughts on whatever I feel like pondering.

It's also your space - a space for you to pontificate at length, with no worries about hostile commenters or steady streams of author-bile. It's your community - as much so as you'd like it to be - and there is only one rule:

Respect one another.

It is possible, contrary to popular internet belief, to disagree with one another - about entertainment, about politics, about religion, about anything - without making that disagreement personal and/or nasty. Argue and debate to your heart's content here. I encourage it without reservation. Personal insults/attacks, however, are verboeten. If you engage in that behavior your comment(s) will be erased.

No exceptions.

You'll notice that this site features ads. I'm told that doing this is a good way to potentially make a little beer money off of the free content I'm providing to all of you. If you're inclined, and you'd like to support my writing, I encourage you to make use of them when they interest you (as for instance: Glenn Greenwald's "How Would A Patriot Act" is a thought-provoking lil' book that's worth a moment of your time, and thanks to that banner ad I know that you can buy it used for $0.01). The more people that voluntarily choose to make use of this feature, the more time I'll have to devote to writing.

If you have no interest in supporting my efforts, or just hate the very idea of ads, feel free to ignore them. As with all things, it's your choice, and I appreciate your readership regardless.

And speaking of which: I'm serious about this being your community as well. To that end, if you've got a blog or a site where you create something for the benefit/enjoyment of others let me know about it. I'll link to it in the "What You've Written" section included in the sidebar of the site. Those of you who choose to follow Verbosity! will have your blogs/sites linked to automatically. Support your fellow fans and creators!

It'll be quiet here until next week, when I'll debut the first edition of "Lost and Found" and open up the discussion on it. Until then, enjoy the sun and please bookmark this page if you're so inclined. Thanks, as always, for reading.

Best,

MMorse

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lost & Found: The Master List

The following represents the full spectrum of choices available for Renewal on "Lost & Found." If you'd like to add a cancelled show to the Master List, just leave me a note in the comments section:

• Profit
• Max Headroom
• American Gothic
• Dead Like Me
• Carnivale
• Pushing Daisies
• Invasion
• Twin Peaks
• The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.
• Daybreak
• John from Cincinnati
• The Lost Room
• The Middleman
• Miracles
• Deadwood
• Harsh Realm
• The Tick
• Dollhouse
• Threshold
• Wonderfalls
• Swingtown
• Keen Eddie
• Action
• Point Pleasant
• Rome
• Nowhere Man
• Freaks and Geeks
• Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
• Surface
• Greg the Bunny
• Earth 2
• Firefly
• Undeclared
• Kings
• Veronica Mars
• The Prisoner
• The 4400
• Better Off Ted
• Wiseguy
• Bakersfield PD
• Space: Above and Beyond
• The Riches
• Brimstone
• Better Off Ted
• Jericho
• Blake's 7
• Millenium
• Journeyman (not yet available on Netflix)
• Fantasy Island (unavailable on Netflix or to purchase)
• Dark Skies (unavailable on Netflix or to purchase)
• G vs. E (unavailable on Netflix or to purchase)