Sunday, November 16, 2008

Two weeks, said Mitchell...

It's been pushing the fortnight mark since I last updated, with good reason: I've been writing a novel for National Novel Writing Month, which has been eating up all my words. Between teaching, quizzing, drinking, complaining, and the aforementioned novel, I've been, how you say, distracted from the blogosphere.

Either way, this should all clear up within another couple of weeks, as the book contest comes to a close (whether I finish or not) and life returns to, well, exactly the same as the present, without the book.

Also, around that time Rimple should be moving house over to, where I should also host a writing portfolio and maybe some other crap.

Just a little housekeeping, folks. Now back to your regularly scheduled pornography.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Suddenly, well...

I could say "suddenly, everything has changed" but it hasn't. The U.S. still has a massive amount of cleanup to do after the giant, Hells Angel-style house party-turned-clusterfuck of the past eight years.

But at least there's a glimmer of hope that not everything is bound to turn to shit all the time.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Hope now for the future

Just realized Cito Gaston will stay with the Toronto Blue Jays throughout 2009. If we're gonna take another World Series, we've got a better shot now than ever. Too bad we play in the hardest division in baseball, and still kinda suck regardless.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sheen/Estevez '08

Ok, not only is Charlie Sheen the highest paid actor on television now, he's also the best.

Well, maybe that's stretching it a little. He's not the best actor, by any means, but I would argue he is the best public figure on television.

In the '80s, Charlie Sheen and his brother Emilio Estevez were on everybody's radar: Emilio had his Brat Pack connection, Charlie was Emilio's bad-boy brother, and they were both in the Young Guns franchise.

Times have changed and the poles have shifted. Now Charlie is the star (no more Navy Seals for him), while Emilio does shit like Bobby, which maybe three dozen people snoozed their way through.

Why did Charlie stand the test of time while Emilio crashed?

Because he's the embodiment of the right to live his life any way he chooses and to publicize it so. He elects to be the king of excess, and he does it admirably. So, he bangs a couple of hookers a night. So, he loses thousands on cockfights. So, he overdoses after injecting cocaine 'cause he was bored. So what?

What I most appreciate about Charlie Sheen is that he never tries to hide his lifestyle. He publicly acknowledges all the ridiculous shit he does, and he does it with a wink and a grin. He knows he's scummy, his characters know they're scummy, but they're happy in the gutter all the same.

Before anyone has a chance to give him shit about his life, he's given himself it two times over. He does it in interviews, he does it in his characters. Whether on Two and a Half Men or Spin City or Major League, he takes the piss out of himself because he knows that's smarter than hiding from the truth.

He's a libertarian icon. I say more power to him.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I don't think China has duct tape

My sink sucks.

Currently, it's full of dishes I'm unable to clean. I am unable to clean them because whenever I turn on the water for more than ten seconds, it comes gushing out of the cupboard underneath like idiocy from Sarah Palin's mouth.

Any of the plumbing connected to the sink seems to dislodge with the slightest bit of pressure. My natural thought: This calls for duct tape. Maybe it's a Canadian thing.

I tried Carrefour. I tried B&Q. I ultimately resorted to scrounging around dust-covered alleys near the train station, hoping some drifter had left scraps of tape from his rucksack on his way outta Dodge.


In a hole-in-the-wall hardware store, I find several rolls of tape. I think this is a good sign. I ask the shopkeeper, "Hey man, do you any of this stuff, but, like, grey and really strong?"*


"You know, it's tape, but this stuff is too ... not strong. I need strong tape, usually grey-coloured. See, I have a problem with my bathroom."

"Buy this stuff."

"No, see, this is for electrical problems. I have a water problem."


There was then some confusion about whether I wanted tape or I wanted some sort of piping. This took ten minutes to clear up.

Eventually, the young guy runs out of the store. I sit and chat with the old guy. Five minutes later, the young guy is back with a roll of something approximating duct tape, except it's as thin as Saran wrap and looks better suited for pasting together an alien's helmet. This stuff practically glows.

"Fuck it. How much?"

Fifteen kuai later and I've got a roll of ... something ... which I'll use to stick my sink back together. Or try to. Wish me luck, true believers.

*Point of order: This is my very loose translation of what happened. My Chinese isn't that fluent. In fact, it's more like a monkey gibbering, punctuated with English curse words.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Ghosts in the machine

Gremlins 2: The New Batch is seriously hot shit. Completely chaotic, silly, mindbending, fourth-wall-breaking, horror-based fun. Plus, it's a clever early-'90s satire of blind faith in technology that reminds me of Total Recall for some reason.

Watch Gremlins 2 here.

I seem to be posting about satire a lot. Ah well, satire's great.

Anyway, the best scene in Gremlins 2: The New Batch is when they bust out of the movie and start shredding the film, until eventually Hulk Hogan threatens to kick their ass unless they start it rolling again.

Here's a video some guy did where the gremlins, instead, burst into other movies and fuck shit up.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Funny Games U.S.

Hmm, wish I remembered writing that last post.

Just watched Funny Games US, as part of my annual October Horror Movie Marathon.

I wouldn't really call it horror, but I suppose it's the closest genre tag you could stick on it. It does focus on violence and its effects and interpretations in the media, and I suppose it's a little scary – although disturbing is a more appropriate word.

The story follows George (Tim Roth), Ann (Naomi Watts), and their kid Georgie (Devon Gearhart) as they arrive at their lakefront vacation house. Their neighbours are acting strangely and are followed about by two faux-charming young golf enthusiasts, Paul (Michael Pitt) and Peter (Brady Corbet).

Around dinnertime, Peter comes by to borrow some eggs, and things soon become awkward, then uncomfortable, then seriously tense, then terrifying, then analytical.

It's not spoiling anything to say Peter and Paul set about to torture the family, especially because the meat of the movie isn't in its violence (most of which takes place off-screen), it's in the ideas about violence.

Paul often turns to the audience to discuss what he should do, what movie logic dictates should happen, how we, as viewers, are complicit in the violence happening in the movie. We watch violent movies all the time, but rarely do we step back and think about the practical consequences of violence. I get a kick out of Dario Argento movies, but I don't associate all the stabbings and decapitations with anything other than fiction. Funny Games seems to contend that fictional violence is as real as actual violence – we're still seeing someone murdered, regardless of whether or not it's simulated or not.

It's an interesting idea, but I'm not sure it works.

Director Michael Haneke remade his earlier Funny Games in English for an American audience, thinking it would probably have more of an effect if in the native language of the media culture it's criticizing. That's a sound idea, but the problem isn't with translation, it's with a breakdown in the satire.

Haneke seems to jab us for watching his movie, constantly raising questions about our desire to see violence. Fair enough, but he made the movie and he's just as much to blame as his audience. Producers of video violence are only catering to a demand, but they're still catering to it instead of just patently ignoring it.

More than anything, though, I think Haneke just wants his viewers to think about what they watch, rather than to tell us what to do. An unexamined movie isn't worth watching, after all.

Anyone have any thoughts? If you haven't seen it yet, it might screen in Dalian next month – details later.