Marcus Classic Movie Nights #1: Ghostbusters

Our flagship theater here in Lincoln, The Grand (no relation), has started a series of classic movie nights where they show an older film at midnight on a Friday, with $5 admission. Last night (or early this morning, I guess) my wife, Tina, and I picked up erstwhile Splattercast engineer Spooky McPhee and headed downtown to see Ghostbusters.

I’m sure our friends like T.J., Teen*Idol and ArsonCuff who live in more “happening” parts of the country get to do these sorts of things more regularly but for us here in Lincoln, Nebraska, it’s a treat. The turnout appeared to be very strong, and the crowd was very well-behaved. You could tell everyone was there to enjoy the movie and not to dick around (in my experience, midnight showings filter out the dumbass kids).

It was a good time… but… were they just showing a DVD? And the aspect ratio was screwed-up, too. The curtains were partially drawn over the sides of the screen and the projected image was most definitely a TV-esque square shape. I’m no Ghostbusters historian (hat-tip, Sleepycast) but I assume the movie was originally presented in the typical widescreen format, right? The exciting part, to me, of these midnight screenings was the prospect of watching an actual film projection of these movies as they would have originally been shown in their original theatrical runs. The idea that they may have just popped in a DVD is very disappointing. I guess I should just call the theater and ask, so I know for sure.

Thankfully, in the case of Ghostbusters, the film is so amazingly classic that its own merits carry the experience and we all had a blast watching it. However, if it does turn out that they’re simply playing a DVD, and in frickin’ 4:3 to boot, then I’ll probably skip the future showings. Kind of a bummer.

Mat, did you attend this? I peered around the theater but didn’t see you. If I’m incorrect on any of these technical claims, please set me straight.

Godspeed, Steve.

As of an hour or so ago, our friend Steve has begun his move back to Tennessee. We’re going to miss him a ton. Thanks to the wonders of the interwebs, Steve can continue to be a part of the site and I’m sure he’ll have plenty of horrific tales of the American South to share with us on future episodes of the Splattercast.

Godspeed, Steve!

Boss DJ ain’t nothin’ but a man.

I guess I’ll do a rebuttal, of sorts. Well, not even a rebuttal… more like an observation… It’s appearing to me that a lot of people are making way too big an emotional investment in Senator Obama. People are actually believing this guy. Which is fine, I guess… but the disappointment is going to be crushing if he loses because people are getting so tied up in his “hope” shtick. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still believe he’s probably going to win – everything is cyclical and it’s time for things to shift, so the Democrats are well-positioned to make big gains in November.

Still, he might not win. He might lose on substance and real issues. I’m really curious to see what the reaction would be. Will the sycophants be capable of considering the notion that a majority simply didn’t buy this platform? If this is his speech, well… it kinda sucks. If the tagline of his speech is really “We are a better country than this,” well, he can kiss my ass.

Mat, we may need to do a couple Dead Politics “election special” episodes over the next couple months!

MaT’s Journal #4

Well tonight is the night. Barack Obama will officially accept the Democratic Party nomination for President.

I have no real desire to get into a debate about whether or not Obama’s policies will help or hurt the country. What I think is important right now is for all Americans to sort of step back and go “Wow”. Many Republican and conservative commentators have rightly pointed out that, politics aside, this is a pretty special and important moment in American history. Our country has gone from the horrors of slavery to being on the brink of electing a black president. That’s pretty cool! It’s a message to the country and the rest of the world that, though often slower than we’d like, progress is an everyday occurrence in this country. For all the talk about how culturally and socially advanced the “Western World” is, we can be proud as Americans knowing that we knocked down a barrier that other places haven’t. Tonight is the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.  I’ve been watching the convention all week and it’s so cool to see people like John Lewis crying tears of joy because they feel like everything they’ve fought for has been worth it. It makes you feel good to be an American and regardless of whether or not you like the Democrats, you’d have to be a pretty ice cold bastard not to feel some sense of pride about what is going to happen tonight.

Speaking of the convention…

The great mystery over what Hillary and Bill would do has been solved. I don’t think any Democrat was expecting Hillary to stop the roll call with a vote of acclamation for Barack. That was classy. I’ve been a vocal critic of Hillary all throughout this campaign, but she really delivered, and far exceeded, what many people thought she would do. Same with Bill. Watching that speech last night I thought to myself “Well, it’s easy to understand how he got elected twice”. And I know conservatives will snicker and say “oh she didn’t mean it blah blah blah”. Maybe, but sort of like Jeff mentioning that Kobe Bryant really seemed to love playing for his country even though it could just be savvy marketing, this was sort of on par with that. At no point did anyone think she was just phoning it in. Both of them did an amazing job.

Speaking of amazing job, where the hell was THIS 4 years ago? I’m not ashamed to say I like John Kerry a lot. I wanted to see and hear what he had to say. He’s sort of faded away, Dukakis like, since he lost. People forget that he got more votes than any other Democrat in history. But as the saying goes “Democrats hate a loser”. If he would have delivered THAT speech 4 years ago, we wouldn’t be talking about Barack Obama right now. You can really tell that Kerry was letting off 4 years of pent up steam. It’s unfortunate that all the networks cut away to talking heads. I had to go to c-span in order to view it. Props to Joe Biden for thanking him.

Joe Biden’s speech wasn’t as good as Hillary or Bill, but then again, was anyone expecting it? Biden is on the ticket to punch John McCain in the face and to act as a conduit to those “Middle Class Scranton Blue-Collar” Democrats the media talks about so much. McCain better pick somebody on Biden’s level because the VP debate will be a slaughterhouse if he doesn’t.

Other highlights: Montana’s governor is beyond awesome 🙂 Ted Kennedy was great as well. Dennis Kucinich was hilarious.

One more thing: there seems to be some massive disappointment amongst TV pundits that the democrats are not “attacking John McCain enough”. It’s a constant drone of “They just wasted an entire day” blah blah blah. Of course, setting aside the fact that if the democrats DID “attack” then the Republicans would just go “oh well, see, Barack’s just doing the usual politics. some change, huh?”. It’s basically a no win situation for the democrats if you’re watching the pundits. My position on this is that I’m glad that this hasn’t been a slash and burn convention. Obama’s entire image is predicated on the idea that he isn’t going to participate in those sorts of conversations (have you noticed that all of Obama’s “attack” ads only feature McCain’s own words? Nobody is talking about that). Now obviously, as we get closer to the convention, the attacks will start to heat up, that’s just par for the course. But I disagree with everyone who says that it should have been the focus of the convention. Everyone knows George Bush and John McCain blow and there will be plenty of time to dismantle them in the next 3 months. 99% of all Democrats have a very relieved, exciting, and happy feeling coming out of the convention. We’re fired up again. Contrast this with next week where the Republicans will have nothing to offer but gutter attacks and attempts to frighten white America with tales of the Tall Black Boogeyman. The contrast will be stark.

As a long time Obama supporter, I can’t wait for tonight. It’s validation for us. More importantly, it’s validation for the entire country of our capacity to stick it to racial prejudice and hate. History is being made tonight. I’m proud to be a part of it.

Do 3-D movies suck?

Roger Ebert: “Ask yourself this question: Have you ever watched a 2-D movie and wished it were in 3-D? Remember that boulder rolling behind Indiana Jones in “Raiders of the Lost Ark?” Better in 3-D? No, it would have been worse. Would have been a tragedy. The 3-D process is like a zombie, a vampire, or a 17-year cicada: seemingly dead, but crawling out alive after a lapse of years. We need a wooden stake.”

Actually, yes. I’ve viewed many 2-D movies and wished they were in 3-D. Pretty much any Chinese kung fu and sword fighting movie comes to mind.

You can read Roger Ebert laying out his argument for why 3-D movies suck right here. He’s essentially saying that it goes contrary to our evolutionary instincts and that no movie can be better in 3-D than it is in 2-D. Of course, I wholeheartedly disagree with this reasoning. One easy criticsim of Ebert’s stance deals with his insistence that the 3-D effect is “distracting”. Well, isn’t it arguably just as distracting when you watch a film in 2-D that was originally designed for 3-D? Don’t all those yo-yo shots bouncing towards the camera hurt that very same film when not viewed within the context of their original intent? And if so, then how can you argue that the 2-D version of that same film is superior to the 3-D version?

Another Ebert quote: “The idea of a movie, even an animated one, is to convince us, halfway at least, that that we’re seeing on the screen is sort of really happening. Images leaping off the screen destroy that illusion.”

I don’t get this statement at all. It’s pretty silly on the face of it. Let’s put aside the fact that he hurts his own argument by using words and statements like “halfway at least” and “sort of” in his own statement, but I wonder how many people out there really believe that what they see on a movie screen is really happening? I understand the point of view that feels movies are rooted in a viewers understanding of real world events and actions and that that is how we access films as we view them. That’s a valid argument. But to say that 3-D “destroys the illusion” is no more valid than saying a CGI Transformer “destroys the illusion” of reality in a 2-D movie. I remember seeing the Terminator 3-D “ride” at Universal Theatres and was enthralled by it. It didn’t “destroy the illusion” of the film world for me just because I saw a T-800 shooting bullets that were whizzing by my head.

When 3-D is done effectively, it can be an incredible tool to enhance the movie experience. I don’t know about you guys, but when I instinctively duck my head when something flies towards my face, that means I’m pretty much inside that 3-D world. If Ebert is correct, that the technique “destroys the illusion” of reality, then why would I even react in that manner? Ebert’s article, to me at least, comes across as more “Grumpy old man who just doesn’t get it” than a well thought out argument. What do you guys think? Feel free to post your comments.

Oh, FYI to Roger Ebert in the event that he is reading this: I would have LOVED to see that boulder chasing Indy in 3-D!

Splattercast 93: High Plains Podcasters

Episode 93

This week, Deejay, Jeff and I ride into the town of Hell with our spurs shiny, our six-shooters loaded, and our hats low upon our brows. We’re taking on Horror Westerns, ranging from the 1930’s through the present day. Our spotlight focuse on, perhaps, the best horror western: High Plains Drifter. So saddle up and join us as we tour dusty, tumbleweed filled towns of terror…

p.s. This episode is a little longer than most. I cut out 12 minutes and it’s still over an hour long 🙂

Time to get patriotic, bitches!: Olympics Update #3

I was up until 4 a.m. watching Team USA eke out a victory over Spain for the Gold medal. You gotta hand it to Spain, they came to play.  They are the world champions and left everything they had on the court. We beat them by 37 points last week and at one point were only ahead by 2 in the 4th quarter of the Gold medal game. Our lack of interior defense (just a thought: With Shaq’s recent legal problems and the huge boost in Kobe’s image from these games, think Mr. O’Neill missed a golden opportunity?) almost came back to bite us in the ass. Dwight Howard looked pretty damn terrible at times. But in the end Dwayne Wade and Kobe Bryant saved the day. It was an exciting game.  Too bad most of America was asleep.

As we wind up the Olympics, the USA still has the most overall medals even as China crushed us in the gold medal count. So it goes for the host country, who automatically qualifies every team in every sport. Overall, it was a great Olympics. China put on a show, Michael Phelps went crazy, and we all found out that Usain Bolt is not only The Flash, but a poor sportsman as well. Our volleyball teams rocked the courts while our softball team choked (why don’t women play baseball? Why do they have to throw underhand and use a cantoloupe for a ball?). And our gymansts put up a helluva fight against China’s 7 year olds.  The only thing that was really disappointing for the US is our track and field squad, which, literally, dropped the baton.

The Olympics get a lot of grief from people who want to politicize any number of things. Whether it is human rights, war, or environment. It’s easy to throw darts at the IOC. But it’s also one of the only non-(most of the time) tragic world events that can really galvanize the citizens of a country into feeling genuine pride for what they have accomplished. Sure, I wanted to see Michael Phelps win all those golds, but what I was really cheering is the USA. You want your country to win. Individual accomplishments are great, and lord knows that we in America love our individual accomplishments, but it comes down to that old cliche: There’s something about putting on the Red, White, and Blue. I’m sure it is the same way in every other country. You just get that sense and feeling that somebody like Michael Phelps is representing much more than himself, and it’s fun to wrap yourself up in that Country First feeling every few years in a non-political context. Seeing Team USA genuinely freak out after they won the gold medal filled me with such a great feeling.  They were running around, grinning, and yelling like little kids who just got what they wanted on Christmas. Regardless of the people who attempt to politicize the games or governments who aren’t all they are cracked up to be (I’m sure glad George Bush looked into Putin’s soul and found out he was a good guy! I was beginning to worry about…wait, what? Putin doesn’t have a soul?) , the Olympics mean a lot. Not just to the athletes, but to everyone they represent back home. Michael Phelps was sort of our international congressman. And it’s always great to see your congressman kick all sorts of ass 🙂

It was a fun Olympics. I can’t wait for London in 2012. Maybe the Splattercast can go live on location from Explody Jo’s or something 🙂 Oh, and if you want another reason to vote for Barack Obama: Chicago is one of the finalists for the 2016 games. By then, Barack will have ended all disease, brought peace to the world, and thrown Dick Cheney in prison. What better way to celebrate his last year in office than with a hometown Olympics sendoff wherein we kick China’s ass all over the map 😉