Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Secret Hold

Thought I'd spread this bit of news. By way of Flametoad:

WASHINGTON — In an ironic twist, legislation that would open up the murky world of government contracting to public scrutiny has been derailed by a secret parliamentary maneuver.

An unidentified senator placed a "secret hold" on legislation introduced by Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., that would create a searchable database of government contracts, grants, insurance, loans and financial assistance, worth $2.5 trillion last year. The database would bring transparency to federal spending and be as simple to use as conducting a Google search. -- Houston Chronicle

In addition to being upset that this would happen to this bill, I'm surprised that there's a provision for secret holds at all. Seems like a handy little device if you could kill legislation anonymously.

Porkbusters has a list of suspects along with photos.

I do suspect, though, that if this bill passes, the roads down here in my part of Texas might not be so pristine and brand new looking all the time.

UPDATE: Seems that the most likely suspect is Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens, famous for his internet tube theory.

Friday, August 25, 2006

How to Make Movie Critics Your Little Pony

In the run up to release, the studio behind Snakes on a Plane announced they wouldn't have screenings for critics. Possible reasons for this:

  • The movie stunk.
  • Critics don't "get" this kind of movie.
  • Critics are irrelevant to the success of this kind of film
  • Critics are irrelevant.

At the last minute they had some special screenings for critics -- and other critics went and saw it on their own. And the lesson was LEARNED. Critics fell over themselves giving the movie "good for the kind of movie it is" reviews. Snakes on a Plane has a 68% positive response rating at Rotten Tomatoes -- for comparison, Pirates of the Caribbean 2 has a 54% positive rating.

Just go to the Rotten Tomatoes page for Snakes on a Plane and you'll be treated with pull-quotes from the critics such as the following:

"If you can find a better time at the movies this year than this wild comic thriller, let me in on it. I'm there." -- Mick LaSalle SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

"This is an event. It’s a rare example of a film not just living up to the hype, but surpassing it. And it’s the best time you’ll have at the movies all summer, if not all year." -- Christy Lemire ASSOCIATED PRESS

I wound up seeing the film last Friday, and, as many critics suggest, I enjoyed it about as much as I expected to enjoy it. Samuel L. Jackson brought his energy. David Koechner was so funny that I now know his name.

It had that odd, patched-together quality of films with too many cooks. We're introduced to the bad-ass, heartless, baseball-bat wielding antagonist right at the beginning of the film, then a few minutes later see him kung fu-ing someone into unconsciousness -- then he disappears. Toward the end of the film Samuel L. Jackson is told, I believe over the phone, that the antagonist was captured by the police. Off screen.

Of course, that was actually the right choice because not a single person in the theater cared about the bad guy -- just the snakes.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Vampires on a Plane

I refreshed my InkTip listing for my screenplay RED SKIES just this week hoping that I might parasite off the opening of Snakes on a Plane to get some people looking for this kind of script:

On a transpacific flight, a group of survivors must band together, led by CAITLYN -- an ex-army medic -- and JENNIFER Yiu -- a level headed flight attendant -- to hold off a crazed vampire long enough to land. Their one advantage: flying west into the setting sun triples the amount of time they have before nightfall.

I had written this last summer based on a short story I wrote some ten years ago (but, in the story, the vampire was a plane). I still like the original idea but it doesn't work well in a movie.

From a producer's point of view, I wouldn't have wanted to start up a monster on airplane movie with the SoaP juggernaut looming over the last couple months -- but I hope that after the wave passes this weekend RED SKIES might have a better shot.

P.S. Samuel L. Jackson's appearance on the Daily Show was the best movie-pimping talk show appearance ever.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The New Puritanism

William Saletan has an article posted at Slate discussing how air conditioning is creating a false consciousness about global warming -- thus leading us not to do enough to counteract it. There is also a strong sense of shame and blame at us for being so doughy and fragile and hedonistic as to need air conditioning.

Yesterday, CNN also had some loud fellow on with his own commentary show where he essentially said that people's wimpiness at using air conditioning is causing global destruction.

From the Slate article:

Based on government data, Stan Cox, a scientist at the Land Institute, calculates that air-conditioning the average U.S. home requires 3,400 pounds of carbon-dioxide production per year.

That's about equivalent to the CO2 output of 1/6th of a typical sedan. Instead of going on about manliness, they could purchase a small-car allotment Terrapass, and make up for not only their own carbon production, but also a fair bit more carbon production.

I take it that eventually, assuming everyone jumped on the boat, Terrapass might not work, or might need to find some new technology for reducing carbon presence in the atmosphere -- but I'd take that problem any day over our current ones.

In the meantime, this strikes me as the pot-smoking, dirty-dancing, free love generation -- the same people that made fun of religious puritans in movies like Harper Valley PTA and Footloose -- now growing up and realising that there's something morally wrong about pleasure, so it's not enough to fix the problem, but one must also suffer while doing so.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Tumorous -- Metastasized

Antibody Films has posted an in-development announcement regarding my recent screenplay, Tumorous, on their website so I figure it's okay to mention it here now.

I had talked with the principles previously about another script, but even while I was doing so I was looking at that greenish tinted website with the threatening hospital environs and couldn't help but think that the script I was working on would actually be a much nicer fit -- and now it has all turned out rather nicely.

They're a small company, people just starting out (like me) but they're already cooperating with another company and in pre-production on a Direct-to-DVD feature -- and it's less than three months since they set up shop!

I haven't been doing this very long, but already long enough to know that a lot of places have trouble getting started, so Antibody's energy really impressed me.

And I like the vaguely Lovecraftian virus. That's how dread Cthulhu looked strange aeons before evolving into the stately squamous horror he is today!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Hope I Die Before I Get Old

The above cartoon is via Slate and reminds me why I like The Who.

My guess is that at least 50% of the 40+ year olds running this country can't balance the country's checkbook, can't figure out good ways to finance social security, medicare, farm subsidies, and foreign adventures without raising taxes or cutting any one of those sacred cows (but no problem at all cutting higher ed funding), and simply disregard any studies, intel reports, or science that interferes with what they prefer to believe.

I've been contemplating a vampire or similar story focusing on young vampires who have to sneak around and overthrow the elder vampires -- who survive by cannibalizing their children. But a story so transparently metaphorical for American environmental and social policies would be too on-the-nose.