Link Dump

Link Dump

Just the usual link dump of interesting things discovered in the depths of ye olde internets:

“Whatever you now find weird, ugly, uncomfortable and nasty about a new medium will surely become its signature. CD distortion, the jitteriness of digital video, the crap sound of 8-bit – all of these will be cherished and emulated as soon as they can be avoided. It’s the sound of failure: so much modern art is the sound of things going out of control, of a medium pushing to its limits and breaking apart. The distorted guitar sound is the sound of something too loud for the medium supposed to carry it. The blues singer with the cracked voice is the sound of an emotional cry too powerful for the throat that releases it. The excitement of grainy film, of bleached-out black and white, is the excitement of witnessing events too momentous for the medium assigned to record them.”

That’s all for now!

Fellow Travelers in the Halloween Ways

Those who celebrate the Halloween season do so in many and varied ways and hard as it may be to believe here in 2023, they even maintain blogs to document their celebration. Here, we do the Six Weeks of Halloween horror movie marathon, but there are lots of other approaches. While most folks have migrated over to social media, blogs are still around – and truth be told, blogs are continually being reinvented and remain popular in some ways – witness the success of Substack, which represents, in theory, an even more antiquated internet practice: the email newsletter (even if I suspect most people read posts like they’re a blog.) But I digress.

Fellow Travelers in the Halloween Ways

I goofed off with some AI image generators using the prompt “Fellow Travelers in the Halloween Ways” and huh, that’s certainly a disturbing but kinda appropriate result, I think. Anywho, it’s always interesting to take a look at how others are celebrating the season. It’s sometimes challenging to find new stuff, but there’s enough old hands out there that, wonder of wonders, still post up a storm during this hallowed season. Let’s look at some blogs celebrating the Halloween season:

Old Hands

Film Thoughts – Zack is the only other remaining practitioner of the Six Weeks of Halloween (we both followed a guy named kernunrex down this path, but he went dark many moons ago. One assumes he still engages in the practice, but no longer documents it.) As usual, Zack’s pace of both watching and writing outstrips mine by a significant degree, and his reviews are long and insightful. This year, he’s been going through the Terrifier movies and he also watched all the Cabinet of Curiosities episodes, amongst tons of other things.

Cinema Crazed – Only discovered a couple years ago, this crew is still going strong, covering tons of stuff, including a spiffy new Toxic Avenger 4K boxed set, and of course, the unspeakable horrors of… Barbie.

Horror Movie a Day – Brian doesn’t post every day anymore, but he did so for an absurdly long time, so his blog has an almost comprehensive list of reviews in the archives, and it’s an invaluable resource if you’re looking for thoughts on an obscure horror movie. He’s actually been keeping pace with most of the new releases, including theatrical releases like the new Exorcist sequel/legacyqual/soft-reboot/whateveryoucallit, as well as some of the hyped streaming releases like No One Will Save You and Totally Killer (look for my thoughts on those in the traditional Speed Round at the end of the Six Weeks), and more. His book is also quite helpful when it comes to weekly themes or more obscure films to seek out.

Hellowe’en Horror -Well curated collection of images, posters, screenshots, and gifs from various horror flicks, still marching along with the season…

Final Girl – Shocktober is back! This time around, Stacie is pulling from her 2020 readers’ poll of favorite horror movies. There were a whopping 950+ different movies named by her readers, so she went through what people had ranked #1 on their list, and selected 31 movies she hadn’t seen before. As usual, Stacie’s reviews have a unique perspective and are quite funny.

New Hands

Autumn Lives Here – Hey, remember when I said that Substack kinda represented the undead weblog concept risen from the grave? Well here’s an example of a spooky season centered Substack from Jennifer Morrow that mostly focuses on books, but covers lots of other ground too.

Scare Me on Fridays – Do you like screenshots from movies? I mean, there are reviews too, but lots of screenshots. This is something I used to do more often, but while I always try to include a screenshot, I don’t go all out like this blog does…

Severed Hands

Wonderful Wonderblog – Spreading the love beyond just movies and into various spooky versions of stuff like lottery tickets and records and whatnot.

Halloween Mixes – Well, technically, this blog is titled “The Murderer’s Plague Of The Phantasmagoric Beast Of The Haunted Screaming Horror Of The Mad Scientist’s Monster’s Bride Of The Vampire’s Bloody Psychotic Alien Werewolf Curse Of The Ghost Of The Zombie That Ate The Return of Dav’s Ultimate Halloween”, but uh, yeah it’s got an archive of nice playlists of Halloween themed music (Apparently the 2022 music mix is coming soon).

Zombie Crossings – An assortment of Halloween themed goings-on (music, images, fun facts, that sort of thing).

So there you have it. Halloween blogs are still a thing and going strong. It’s not just me. Anywho, stay tuned, we’ve got some Giallo movies coming in hot on Sunday…

Link Dump

To celebrate a July 4 weekend (eh, close enough), we take the usual spin through the depths of ye olde internets for interesting links:

  • Goncharov – This is a nonexistent 1973 gangster film directed by Martin Scorsese with the tagline “The greatest mafia movie ever made”. It was conceived on Tumblr in 2022? Wow, I thought Tumblr had pretty much grown into complete irrelevance, but this is pretty funny. This fake movie has a pretty elaborate set of details like posters and superfans that make it feel real. (I discovered this on my phone many moons ago and kept forgetting to include it in one of these link dumps, so I’m way behind the curve here, but still…)
  • The city put out a ‘Potty Poll’ to name its new public bathrooms and Philly did not disappoint – These sorts of polls are always a bad idea from the perspective of the people running them (see also: Boaty McBoatface), but lots of fun for everyone else. Some Philly highlights: “Wee the People”, “Porta Jawn”, “Phlush”, “Wooder-Closet”, “Leave Turds, Go Birds”, and “The Dallas Cowboys”. All well and good, but my personal favorite remains: “Kite and Pee”
  • How the States Got Their Abbreviations – I don’t know, I’d watch that documentary.
  • Back to the Orifice – Interesting take on how “work from home” has changed things and why many “back to the office” pushes are unsuccessful:

The problem with the post-pandemic “back to the office” push is that companies now want three different things from white-collar office workers:

  1. Spontaneous in-person teamwork.
  2. Virtual worldwide collaboration.
  3. Individual productivity.

It’s easy to create to a workspace that supports any one of these three modes of work. It’s hard but possible to create a workspace that supports two. But no workspace can support all three at once because they make radically incompatible demands.

  • What the Sports Culture War is All About – Evenhanded portrayal of the way politics and sports interact that comes down right around where I do. Many culture war battles are exhausting because they force people to take sides that aren’t especially relevant to them or to what they’re talking about, which is one reason the current battles in sports are so annoying:

What the subsequent generations aren’t getting as much, what the leagues are confounding in their efforts to woo them, and what activist groups are hamfistedly attempting to channel, is of a transcendent nature. Sports is a surrender, and that’s what makes them great. To notice that so many people sign up to be hypnotized together is less to identify a problem than it is to identify the need it’s addressing. Also, sports is more mirror than mover of the zeitgeist, always a time capsule of conventional wisdom. It remains valuable ad space due to optics and scale, but it’s hard to truly harness towards propagandistic ends. Why? Because the fan communes with the game specifically not to be focused on anything else.

  • Baseball player looks for the “and 1” foul – Speaking of sports, this is a very funny baseball play that draws on basketball for the joke. It’s also on Twitter, which is a disaster right now, so I apologize.
    • Apparently you’ll need to be logged into Twitter to view this, and even if you are, you will be rate limited on the amount of tweets you can view. For the record, this is worth being one of the 600 tweets you’ll be able to view right now. Anywho, I’m thinking Twitter is pretty much toast at this point. There are competing explanations for this weekend’s woes, in part because all of them stem from stupid decisions and are thus manifestly believable.
    • Explanation the first: Musk wanted to limit viewing twitter to users of twitter. On its face, this seems stupid, but it’s not unheard of for social media, most of which limits what you can see if you’re not a member. But then, one of the things I liked about Twitter was that you didn’t need to be logged in to see it, and sharing it on text message chains was easy, etc… Anyway, the thought is that this change to limit viewership was made quickly by a depleted development team that didn’t foresee a cascade of issues arising (some dev on Mastodon speculated about Twitter DDOSing itself because when the site suppresses tweets, it thinks something is broken, so it keeps sending the request, which keeps failing, ad infinitum.)
    • Explanation the second: By why was Musk trying to suppress viewership? Don’t they make money on ads? Well, he mentions bots and crawlers and whatnot, and with the AI evolution that’s going on right now, it’s certainly possible that there’s been an uptick in bots and scrapers. This makes a certain sort of sense, but obviously the execution is either broken (and thus impacting all users, not just ones not logged in), unless:
    • Explanation the third: Apparently Twitter was negotiating their cloud hosting contract with Google, which had a deadline of June 30. So basically, these problems started happened right then. The conspiracy here is that maybe Twitter is out of money and can’t pay hosting fees, so they’re trying to stem the bleeding. Kinda plausible, even if it feels like we’re watching Twitter self-destruct. Not sure anyone will truly miss it.
  • TCM Creative Structure Set – We’re going through a weird period of time right now where every major corporation seems to be self-sabotaging right in front of our eyes. Obviously TCM is a niche market, but Warner Bros Discovery, which had built up cred with movie dorks by supporting stuff like TCM and filmmakers and HBO, has been doing everything in their power to destroy what they’ve built. This is the third big corporation mentioned in this post alone that has made dumb decisions that are not working out well for them (also of note: Reddit is imploding because of boneheaded tech decisions as well). Anyway, the backlash to TCM changes was big enough to garner some minor concessions, which is something, I guess.

I think that’s enough for now, have a great July 4…

Link Dump

Just the usual link dump of interesting stuff from the depths of ye olde internets:

  • TV’s Streaming Bubble Has Burst, a Writers Strike Looms, and “Everybody Is Freaking Out” – A pretty accurate sentiment, as I do think we’re about to see some consolidation in the streaming space (after an absurd push for streaming that was never really supported by reality – though I guess the pandemic threw a major curve into the mix), and we’re definitely seeing a return to theatrical releases, but then all of it could be derailed by the writers’ strike (and, to be clear, I’m on the writers’ side on this one – their asks are eminently reasonable and it feels like studios have already lost more money than they would have if they just paid their writers. I seriously don’t understand Hollywood’s outright hostility to writers.)
  • Netflix’s DVD End Is a Warning Sign for Film Lovers – Of course, streaming isn’t going away… and this is a sad milestone, but one I think we could all see coming. For the record, I did have a DVD subscription because they actually had a deeper library than streaming does (though in recent years, it was thinning out).
  • Hollywood’s Coming “OS Wars” – This article proposes an interesting idea about the future of streaming: that the real competition will be on home screen aggregators like Roku or Fire. I’m not entirely convinced, but any improvements in aggregation, navigation, curation, and discoverability on streaming can only be a good thing.
  • Trafficking the News – This review of Ben Smith’s book “Traffic” signals a potential end for online journalism’s absurd push for traffic for traffic’s sake.

Having now worked in journalism for almost 20 years (he typed, arthritically, bones turning to dust at the mere thought of it) and having lived through various cycles of how journalism pays for and propagates itself, I’ve never been more sure of anything than the idea that chasing traffic for traffic’s sake has been disastrous and that cultivating a base of subscribers is the only way forward. But there are dangers there as well.

  • Star Wars by Wes Anderson – I keep seeing AI generated videos and they’re almost always filled with horrifying grotesques, but this one is almost pitch perfect. It turns out that the approach was to use AI to generate still images in a proposed style, then add some minor motion and sound to them, and stitch them together (at least, I think that’s what they did). It turned out pretty great, though it’s also obviously patterned after the SNL parody from a few years ago. Anyway, the Owen Wilson as Darth Vador “Wow” moment is pitch perfect.
  • The Super Mario Bros. Movie Battles The Pope’s Exorcist At The Box Office In A Troubling Display Of Italian-On-Italian Violence – I know it’s a few weeks old and the article itself is just normal box office droning, but it’s a perfect headline.
  • Into Thin AirPods – Have you ever lost an Apple product and wanted to use the Find My app to mete out vigilante justice? A bit anticlimactic, but it’s a fun read.

This is the part where I say I’m aware that everyone—Apple, law enforcement, any friends with good judgment within earshot—strenuously discourages ever, under any circumstances, trying to do vigilante justice with the Find My app. If you so much as mention the possibility, like four people will jump out of the woodwork with stories about someone they knew who was shot or assaulted trying to confront a thief in the act. I’d like to emphasize that I’m firmly on the side of reason, and a steadfast believer that having crime done to me is not an occasion to show off how brave I am.

But! I have watched Veronica Mars so many times.

That’s all for now, Happy Mother’s Day!

Link Dump

Just the usual collection of links dumped from the depths of ye olde internets:

  • It can be annoying to be online – Bijan Stephen responds to a viral article declaring that “We are a generation of adult babies,” which is, of course, based mostly on what people do online (and, more specifically, on social media). Which, as those of us who’ve been on the internets for a while know, is not the same thing as real life.

The thing about this that I really don’t like, other than its childish universalizing, is that it doesn’t actually describe offline behavior. The internet is a place where people post things — and, crucially at this juncture, where people know what it means to post things. In other words: at this point, posting is performance. You do it with an awareness that other people can see what you’re doing; everyone knows that anything posted online can go viral and change the poster’s life. …

A better piece might have asked: why do the algorithms that govern online popularity incentivize people posting infantile sensory content? For my own part I’d guess the answer is some combination of “it’s inoffensive and therefore appealing to many different kinds of people” and “people have very strong reactions to it” — which is a different way of saying that it boosts engagement and therefore increases a site’s all-important growth metrics.

  • In The Age Of Streaming, TV Preservation Matters More Than Ever – Streaming continues to take hits on all fronts. It’s so convenient that it’ll never go away or anything, but the promise of streaming continues to disappoint. As usual, the physical media dorks were right.
  • Astronomers still scratching their heads over population of ocean-world exoplanets – The notion that earth-like water worlds might be rare is certainly a valid conjecture, but there’s nothing head-scratching about this. As per usual, the details of exoplanet detection are the confounding factor, not the results. Still, the idea that water worlds are rare could represent a great filter would be good news, I guess. If we could ever confirm it (which would be difficult).
  • The Stunt Awards – I meant to mention this last week: After decades of fruitless lobbying to the Academy Awards, which still doesn’t have a Best Stunt Oscar, Vulture writers (led by Bilge Ebiri and Brandon Streussnig) decided to just do their own. And it’s good! Folks like Scott Adkins and Albert Pyun garnered awards, which is fantastic (and exactly the sort of thing the Oscars might get some mileage out of if they ever get their act together).
  • It’s Evil and Someone is Going to Make It – March is rife with jokey March Madness style brackets for goofy stuff, but I do kinda love this one, which is about fictional companies with evil products. OCP, Cyberdyne Systems, etc… Fun!
  • Bad Projection Is Ruining the Movie Theater Experience – If streaming isn’t doing so great… well, neither are theaters. I’m lucky in that my local suburban cadre of Regal theaters seem to be pretty well run (in that I don’t get a lot of the issues described in this article), but if theaters can get their act together, maybe they can scrape back some share from the streamers (so far, so good this year, at least).
  • Roundball Rock – It’s always funny when you see an old SNL sketch and you suddenly recognize Tim Robinson (who clearly had a hand writing this sketch).
  • “2001: A Space Odyssey” directed by George Lucas? – Perfect. Also of note: 2001: A TikTok Odyssey

And that’s all for now…

Link Dump

The usual link dump of interesting stuffs found in the depths of ye olde internets. Hard to believe it’s been almost 3 months since the last one of these, so strap in:

What would be Lydia Tár’s favorite movie of the year?

Oh, I think you know the answer to that.

“Tár”?

I think it would be “Tár.”

Do you have a favorite “Tár” meme?

People send me hysterical stuff. People have taken it so far beyond what any of us would have allowed ourselves to imagine. I think Lydia Tár, herself, would appreciate it, being a lover of anagrams and wordplay.

Did you ever expect the character to resonate so deeply?

Are you crazy? Of course not. But she’s very real to me. That’s a testament to Cate Blanchett.

  • Cheating Rumors – This happened less than two weeks ago and it was all over the place for like a day, but I doubt anyone remembers anything about Aaron Taylor-Johnson & Joey King anymore, but this video is funny and probably took longer to create than the whole news cycle covering it.
  • Fake trivia for Do the Right Thing on the IMDB Trivia Page – Dude made up a ridiculous bit of trivia about how the heatwave in Do the Right Thing was inspired by an early script for Predator 2. It’s still on the IMDB trivia page and has 35 likes.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned, for the Top 10 Movies of the year post is coming… soon?

Link Dump

We’ve finally come to the end of the Six Weeks of Halloween, and as I cope with the withdrawal symptoms, I leave you with this dump of interesting links from the depths of ye olde internets:

  • The Psychological Weirdness of “Prompt Engineering” – Apparently folks studying AI art prompts have discovered that the AIs have developed their own nonsense language. And I, for one, welcome our new artbot overlords. I’d like to remind them as a trusted blogging personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves.

Scientists who’ve probed the inner workings of artbots have documented some truly odd inner states of these machines. Recently, two researchers at the University of Texas at Austin recently discovered that DALL-E 2 generates apparently gibberish phrases that, within the model itself, appear to have some sort of consistent meaning. They noticed the model generating the phrase “Apoploe vesrreaitais” — and when they fed that back to DALL-E 2 as a prompt, it drew birds. Similarly, “Contarra ccetnxniams luryca tanniounons” gets it DALL-E 2 to draw bugs or pests. “Wa ch zod ahaakes rea” produces pictures of seafood. Why? How did the model generate this weird, internal new language? The scientists have no idea, though it seems like some stray artifact of the adversarial nature of the DALL-E 2’s text encoder.

  • A Matter of Rights: A Talk with Lee Tsiantis – Short interview with a lawyer who does rights research for TCM and Warner Home Video. Rights issues are complicated and somewhat infuriating when you realize that, most of the time, studios can’t distribute the films due to nonexistent creators and the difficulty of tracing who owns what after the original creator died decades ago.
  • Chloe Grace Moretz on Martin Scorsese – Buried in this interview are a few fun anecdotes about Scorsese that really prompt additional questions: What were those 25-30 movies? And what did they sing for karaoke? 

AVC: What was it like to star in a Martin Scorsese movie when you were so young, especially one as grand and epic as this one?

CGM: It was all-encompassing, and I feel like [Scorsese is] very all-encompassing. He is such a cinephile, and he really imparted that knowledge to me, just in the time that I got to spend with him. One of the first things he did when I showed up to start preproduction is he had a big box dropped off, and it had probably 25, 30 movies in it. And he was like, “Before we start production, you have to watch all of these.” The movies that he gave me were different than movies he gave Asa [Butterfield]. So we had to do our homework, and then he would basically pop quiz us on it. He’d be like, “So, what do you think about this? What do you think about that?” He really got our muscles flexing.

AVC: I love that Scorsese just gave you a giant pile of movies to watch. That’s exactly what I would imagine him doing.

CGM: That’s exactly it. And we spent Christmas dinner together, basically, and we all just sang karaoke on the floor.

That’s all for now…

Link Dump

The usual dump of links from the depths of ye olde internets:

King’s appearance in an auditorium on the K-State campus had several hundred people in it, and it took place on a foggy night. When he took the stage, King noted that it was spooky weather, like one of his novels. Then he started speculating that it was the kind of night that a homicidal escapee from a mental asylum might be running around in. The crowd laughed. King continued that the maniac was probably out in the parking lot, checking cars to see if any were unlocked. The crowd loved it. Stephen King was telling us a creepy story on a foggy October night. How cool was that? King kept talking, adding details about the maniac and the knife he picked up somewhere. The crowd grew a bit uneasy but was still chuckling.

Then Uncle Steve started in on asking us if we were sure, REALLY sure, that we had locked our cars. You thought you did, but do you actually remember doing it? By then, the crowd had fallen silent. By the time King described the maniac finding an unlocked car, everyone was on the edge of their seat. Say what you will about the man, he took a brightly lit auditorium full of laughing cheering people and creeped the living shit out of everyone in it in about two minutes. And when I left, I checked my backseat before getting it, and I wasn’t the only one in the parking lot who did.

That’s all for now…

Link Dump

Just the usual interesting dump of links from the depths of ye olde internets:

  • AI Movie Posters – Yeah, yeah, I know, Dall-E has the momentum right now (and it’s great), but these AI generated, avant-garde movie posters are fun too.
  • List of Stories set in a future now past – Wikipedia has fun stuff if you know where to look.
  • The Market Basket on Boston Road – This is phenomenal. Not even sure if it’s real or not, but does that really matter?
  • Old Japanese Commercial – I don’t even know what it’s advertising, but it’s absolutely terrifying nightmare fuel.
  • Sam Raimi Defends Horror Films on UK’s Central Weekend in 1987 – TV is not as adversarial these days, this is a hell of a show (and boy do a lot of folks not come off well in their dismissive criticism of films they haven’t seen).
  • Who Ate the Pizza? – Feels staged, but it’s still funny
  • In defense of crypto(currency) – I’ve linked to some stuff that’s been (highly) critical of crypto in the past, but the underlying data structures and technology are interesting. I’ve always thought of crypto as a solution in search of a problem, and while it has solved some problems (i.e. thwarting man-in-the-middle attacks, enabling criminal enterprises, etc…), they’re, um, not all favorable. As currently constructed, these systems aren’t especially useful, but the engineering problems aren’t entirely insurmountable and the amount of money tied up in these schemes (even with recent tumbles) means there’s a big incentive to fix them. Healthy skepticism still warranted though.

And I’ll leave you with the tweet of the week (those poor librarians, but I can’t stop laughing):

Link Dump

The usual spin through the depths of ye olde internets:

  • The Silurian Hypothesis: Would it be possible to detect an industrial civilization in the geological record? – (Wikipedia has a much shorter summary.) Named after the fictional species from Doctor Who, the reality of this situation is much more mundane and boring than you might think. It turns out that not much would actually survive very long (certain plastics or nuclear waste, for example). Ironically, if this theoretical civilization made it to the Moon or Mars and left something there, it’d be much more likely to be intact…
  • Jason lives? The court battle that’s killing ‘Friday the 13th’ – Since another Friday the 13th has passed, it’s time to check in on the legal battles that have kept Jason from the screen since 2009. It turns out that copyright law is complicated and while the original screenwriter technically has rights to the characters and sequels, he doesn’t have rights to the title Friday the 13th or to international distribution. Arguably, he doesn’t even have rights to do a movie with an adult Jason. Ultimately, this thing won’t end until Victor Miller and Sean Cunningham come to some sort of agreement.
  • The Thing That Makes It Work Means It Doesn’t – Ryan Broderick on the paradox at the heart of social media:

…platforms are still stuck in a perpetual state of being terrible and, thus, good. Twitter and Tumblr are both fantastic examples of this bizarre tension, with user bases that are valuable in vastly different ways, but drawn to the apps because of features that make them unmonetizeable. Tumblr is essentially the greatest archive of possible copyright infringement ever created, which has led to an inscrutable and dense remix culture that conversely also drives a lot of what’s cool online. Meanwhile, Twitter is a poorly-incentivized battle royal for rich people, artists, and furries that only works because the barrier of entry for logging on and threatening to kill a columnist you don’t like is low enough that you can do it while still enraged from something you read while on the toilet.

That’s all for now!