Showing posts with label Humor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Humor. Show all posts

Friday, January 13, 2017

Conan's Life as Nostalgic Neil Young Song

Neil Young's classic song Old Man is a song I associate with many of my favorite childhood memories. Harvest, the album featuring the song, played on our home's stereo with great frequency and is a part of the soundtrack that plays in the back of my mind from time to time. One might think that a parody of this classic rock ballad that mixes sorrowful nostalgia with John Milius' vision of Conan the Barbarian would come across as silly. It doesn't. Nat Kramer's parody music video "Conan Look at My Life" works because it adheres to the first rule of parody songs, above all things make sure that your song is good.

Friday, November 11, 2011

[Cinerati Cartoons] -- Nicnup: Gesundheit

My wife Jody has a wonderful and visual sense of humor. In this Nicnup strip, she manages to capture how I have felt almost every time I've had a loud sneeze. They do sometimes feel earth shattering.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

[Film Review] THE TRIP: Commentary and Cuisine

In 2010, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon starred in an award winning BBC sit-com entitled The Trip. The show lasted for six critically acclaimed episodes. The show was nominated for a BAFTA for best situation comedy and Steve Coogan won a BAFTA for best male performance in a comedy role. In 2011, the television series was edited into a feature film distributed in the United States by IFC films.

The movie, like the television series, is a mockumentary about two comedic actors named Steve and Rob whose careers and lives bear a striking resemblance to those of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon.

The film opens with Steve calling Rob to ask if Rob would be available for a trip critiquing a number of high end restaurants in the north of England.  Steven has accepted a commission from The Observer newspaper to do a travelogue and review column of the locations along the trip.  When he had initially taken the commission Steven had planned to have his gourmand girlfriend Mischa accompany him, but their relationship has been put "on hold" as she has traveled to the United States in the hopes of getting some journalistic commissions of her own.  Steven has run out of options for companions, and so he asks his co-worker of 11 years Rob to join him on the trip.

The movie is a delightfully buddy comedy which takes advantage of the Steven's and Rob's comfortable friendship to create a touching and believable narrative.  While one can enjoy the film just for the buddy comedy that it is, it is also a film that works on two other distinct levels.

First, as a visual representation of the north of England it is beautiful.  The cinematographer captured the moors, mountains, and pastures magnificently and the picturesque representations of bucolic England are one of the best advertisements for a vacation to the country that one could imagine.  Add to the visual beauty food that ranges from the exquisite to the weird, and a nice touch of history, and you have a film that works as a proxy for the travelogue that the Steven character is supposed to be writing.  In making a film depicting a writer journeying to acquire material, the film has managed to visually tell the tale as the character might well be writing.

The second, and more profound, level of the film is the nature of the lives of Steven and Rob and the social commentary contained therein.  Steven represents the urban sophisticate and Rob the bourgeois. 

Steven is the more "internationally famous" actor who has starred in American films and who is seeking more work in America, and who tells his British agent that he doesn't want to do any more British television.  He wants to star in important independent films, and doesn't have time to star as the "baddie" in an upcoming episode of Doctor Who.  Steven is not content with his professional life, and seeks to do something "important." 

Rob's work has mostly been in British television where he is known for his uncanny impressions and for a particular vocal gimmick called "small man trapped in a box."  Before I continue describing Rob's life, you really must experience the small man bit.  It is remarkable, and I couldn't believe it wasn't done with post-production tricks -- but it is something very real.

Rob is portrayed as a working class actor who is quite content with his career and who deeply appreciates the respect and admiration he receives from his fans.  Where Steven is dour, Rob is cheerful -- infectiously so.

It isn't merely creatively that Steven is frustrated.  His personal life is also the shambles.  His girlfriend has just left him, though he is trying to keep a connection to her, and his divorce has had a predictable affect on his relationship with his son -- a son who is rebelling a bit and who is in need of a positive role model.  Steven can't maintain a long term relationship, and he cannot quite keep track of the one night stands he has had.  He is so caught up in the life of the "artiste" and trying to be a kind of tragic artist in personality, that it is hard for him to truly connect with another person.  There is a wonderful moment in the film where he is getting high in a room once used by Coleridge.  Steven is trying his best to affect a kind of moody poetic persona, that it creates a powerful yet muted comedic moment. 

The opposite is true of Rob's life.  He and his wife have only recently had a baby.  They have a strong and delightful relationship filled with laughs.  Where Steven's phone calls end in sighs and "I have to go nows," Rob's conversations don't end on screen.  One can imagine that the playful dialogue between Rob and his wife continues until either they both fall asleep or until the baby awakens in need of some care.  The moments where Rob converses and flirts with his wife on the phone are some of the most personal and magical in the film.

It should be noted that all of Steven's phone calls take place via cell phone, and that his quest for cell phone signals is a humorous sub-plot on its own, while all of Rob's phone calls are on land line.  The cell phone is presented as cold and distant and never really allows the people on either end of the phone to "connect," whereas the land line is portrayed intimately and conversations via land line are akin to cuddling.

Once more the "urban sophisticate" is contrasted to the simpler "bourgeois," a major theme of the film that is portrayed in a number of ways -- always with the "sophistication"/elitism being shown as failing or inappropriate.  Steven rents a Land Rover because "the north has hills," he has accepted a commission to write about food without any real knowledge of food, and so on.

Two of my favorite moments (displayed below) are the very much talked about "Dueling Michael Caines" scene and the "We Rise at Dawn" scene. The "We Rise" scene is maybe one of my favorite comic bits ever. It ranks with "Who's on First" in my mind.

Witty, subtle, beautiful, and rewatchable.  The Trip is one of those rare films that makes a short trip seem like an epic journey, all while never being anything other than a small trip.  It praises family over fame and friendship over facade.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

First a D&D Song, Now One Inspired by "The Jerk"

Allie Goertz's latest song is a love song inspired by Steve Martin's classic comic film The Jerk.  As it uses quotes from the film, it's got some amusing moments and is a great listen.  All that's missing is an Opti-Grab on her glasses.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Gaming*Mirth -- GAMR GRLZ #1

After a one week hiatus, Gaming*Mirth returns with a three panel cartoon by my wife Jody. Please click on the image to see the cartoon full sized.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Gaming*Mirth -- Fantasy Odd Couples: Love and Gelatinous Cubes

Who doesn't remember their first encounter with a Gelatinous Cube? In my case, our DM misled the group into believing that a Spectre was floating down the hallway toward our group. Most of us panicked, as we lacked magic weapons, but our Paladin charged the foul "undead" creature. He had faith in his magic weapon, the only magic weapon in the group, it was his screams of "it burns, it burns!" that signaled that something else was up.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Gaming*Mirth: Dragon Pranks -- Pranking Prince Charming

For the past month, my wife Jody has been providing me with fantasy and gaming inspired cartoons that channel the old cartoons that used to be so prominent in gaming magazines like Dragon and The Space Gamer. This week's entry is the first that will be in color.

I'm happy to see that in the weeks since I have started these posts that Wizard's of the Coast has decided to start including cartoons on their website. I don't think I had any influence on their decision, but it is nice to see we are thinking in the same nostalgic way.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Toy Movies as You Likely Won't See Them

Playing off of the recent explosion of films based on 80s toy and animation properties, animator Dan Meth brings us a few imagined films based on other properties. The first film Care Bears vs. My Little Pony doesn't list an imagined director, one could easily pick a few names, but the other films do. My personal favorite is David Cronenberg's Cabbage Patch Kids. It captures the Cronenberg feel while demonstrating just how creepy the Cabbage Patch backstory really is. It's like a combination of Village of the Damned, The Children, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and Night of the Living Dead.

Toy Movies

Just for kicks, here's the preview for The Children.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Tor Books Offering Cthulhu Christmas Cards and Baby Onesies

As a part of Tor Books Cthulhu themed December, the book publisher announced today that they will be selling Cthulhu themed Christmas cards and Baby Onesies in their online store. Looking at the quality of the artwork, and the fact that my twin daughters already have D&D themed onesies from Jinx (a gift from my dear friend Eric), this item will definitely be finding its way onto my list of Geek recommendations for Christmas this year.

Looking at the front of the onesie, we see a happy Santa with a happy H.P. Lovecraft sitting on his lap. If you look closely at the chair, you can make out some disturbing iconography. Instead of cheerful woodland animals sculpted into the frame, we see something more squamous and rugose.

Where we really see the sinister nature of these shirts is on the back side. Here we see that Santa isn't who we originally thought, instead of hailing from the North Pole he hails from Sleeping R'lyeh. Poor little H.P. is getting what he always dreamed about for Christmas, but we don't always want what we see in our dreams.

You can buy the shirt here.

Real Reason for "Mayan Apocalypse"

John Kovalic shows us how 2012 is just the Mayan version of the y2k technology error. When in doubt, blame IT guys.

One thing though. Did you notice how close, "CTL ALT KINICH AHAU" is to Cthulhu?

Which reminds me how close CTL-ALT-DEL is to Cthulhu.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Gaming Paper: Selling Game Products with Online Infomercials

Erik Bauer, the inventor and chief salesman of Gaming Paper, has a difficult road ahead of him. Erik is trying to sell what might be viewed by many as an "old" product as a new innovation. Erik is trying to get the modern roleplaying gamer to buy his specially designed paper to replace the gaming tiles and expensive gaming mats on which gamers are currently spending lots of money. He wants us to buy...paper, and to make his case he is becoming that most wonderful of things and internet Pitchman.

It's hard to be a Pitchman, a carnival barker, a huckster if you will. Most people think you're kind of shady and untrustworthy, but I've always admired these dicey individuals. I love a good huckster. It doesn't matter whether the huckster is running a game of three card monte, working at a carnival, promoting a movie, or selling me stuff on television. There's just something entertaining about the patter and technique that entertains me, not that I'm going to buy from them mind you. This is one of the reasons I am going to deeply miss Billy Mays, and lament the fact that I never got to see William Castle in action.

At the carnival, the job of the barker might be to convince the rube that the $2.00 stuffed animal is worth 10 attempts at a carnival game...each game costing $3.00. The job of the carnival barker is to create a higher demand for an item than the item might otherwise command. After all, if the $2.00 stuffed animal isn't a $2.00 stuffed animal but a "test of one's manliness" then it is certainly worth $30.00. Right?

On television, you watch masters of the art (like the aforementioned Billy Mays) gleefully attempt to convince viewers that they absolutely must buy OxiClean for their cleaning needs or Green Now to fix up their lawn.

The internet is the perfect environment for these ne'er do wells. In fact, the internet is home to one of the best hucksters of all time, Tom Dickson, with his stream of "Will it Blend?" internet ads. I absolutely love the "diamonds" ad that Blend-Tec did a while ago.

So how does Erik measure up to the great Pitchmen like Billy Mays and Tom Dickson? By the video below, you can see that he gets the concept of pitching and seems to be trying to fuse the Dickson and Mays models. It does come off as a little clumsy and low, but it's still entertaining. I particularly admire the comment about ink bleed, "it doesn't go through...unless you went really thick." I actually recommend watching all 5 videos they have up, there are some pretty silly moments that are pretty entertaining. In fact, in support of Erik I'll probably buy a few rolls of his "high quality paper." $4.00 a roll doesn't seem like too much to ask.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Imaginary Conversations with Agent: John Scalzi and His Agent Discuss OLD MAN'S WAR Film Deal

Way back on December 11, science fiction author extraordinaire John Scalzi jokingly wrote -- in his AMC column -- that he "actually instructed my film agent to demand I get an extra $2 million if [Paul W.S. Anderson] attached to direct a movie based on one of my books." I found the statement amusing and commented yesterday that if the Haitian from Heroes actually existed, and could remove certain films from Paul W.S. Anderson's mind, I thought he would actually be a good director for Old Man's War and it's sequels.

As an aside, I personally find it awesome that Scalzi is essentially AMC's modern SF Joe Bob Briggs. That's pretty prestigious company to be in compadre.

In the past, I've written a couple of imaginary conversations like this Elektra review or this imaginary exchange at the Los Angeles Farmer's Market. I think that they are fun, and would like to do them more often. In fact, I'm going to try -- on a semi-regular basis -- to write imaginary conversation between entertainment figures and their agents. We'll see if you find them as fun as I do.

Combining the pleasure I get from writing imaginary conversations with the sinister thoughts that entered my mind after reading Scalzi's comments about Anderson, I submit to you the following.


It's a wintery day in the countryside outside Dayton, OH. JOHN SCALZI sits in the window of his writing room looking out at the snow covered landscape. A deer meanders through the landscape. JOHN SCALZI smiles and looks down at YELLOW DOG who is sleeping at his feet.

The phone rings.



John! I have great news! We've optioned OLD MAN'S WAR and it has been fast tracked into production by New Line Cinema.


Really?! That's amazing news. What does the contract look like?


They're offering $2.175 million up front with 2% of net profit.


Net?! That means I'll earn 2% of nothing. Even YELLOW DOG knows that.


YELLOW DOG doesn't even know what town he's in, but that's why I counter offered with 2% of gross, script oversight, and rewrite authority. They caved...but...




Well...the reason they offered the $2.175 million is that I have had to activate your Paul W.S. Anderson clause.


The Haitian really exists?


No, but that's why there is a $2 million in front of the $175 thousand.






Yes. Now I can fulfill every genre writer's dream?




There are certain genre giants, I call them "THE GREATS," who have all shared one thing in common...


Yawn...I think I hear my other line ringing.


They have all owned vast tracks of land with inspiring names like Goldeneye, Tarzana Ranch, Skywalker Ranch. At last! Mwah ha ha! Heinlandia shall be built!


Heinlandia sounds too much like Scandia. I could never sell any of your IP, if you lived in Heinlandia. How about Steinland?

Or Hayden Place?


Huh?! What are you doing on this call?


I am always patched into the lines of writers I edit. Helps me make sure they are hard at work and not watching deer meander through pastures when they should be writing. I could never edit a writer who lived in Heinlandia, it just sounds silly. How about naming your tract after your hard working and dedicated editor?


Bah! Dammit! Fine. I'll name it Valentine Ranch. If you can't figure out why, you aren't worthy to be an SF editor or my agent.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Huckabee on Chuck Norris on Huckabee

This blog rarely wanders into the wilderness of politics, but this Mike Huckabee ad requires sharing. I think this might be the single best campaign ad I've ever seen. Like the Mountain Dew ad (which is embedded below the Huckabee ad), it shows that Chuck isn't above poking a little fun at himself. Or as the saying goes, "Chuck Norris doesn't poke fun at himself, he scores a knockout."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Calls for Cthulhu Makes for Mind Shattering Tuesday Goodness

I am pretty sure that all of you know all about "Ask a Ninja," so I'm not going to write about him today. What I am going to write about is the wonderful cheerful goodness that is Calls for Cthulhu.

Are you in need of advice from someone, or something, that can provide you with down to earth common sense solutions to your problems? Sure, we all are. A lot of people ask Amy Alkon, the Advice Goddess, and she fills that role fairly well. But why ask advice from someone who claims to be a goddess when you can ask a real god while he lies sleeping in the sunken island of Ryleh?

That's right you can ask Cthulhu for solutions to your trivial day to day problems. True, he will eventually shatter all our minds and devour our souls, but he wants to make sure our minds and bodies are sound until the stars are aligned.