Angry Robot

Message Box

This is for off-topic messages of all sorts, random comments, whatever else.

domain theft

Sleazy net vultures have been picking up still in-use domain names via all manner of dirty tricks. More info here, here and here. Now, it’s happened to Nicholas Taylor of succaland. Note that it’s not just the “soulless viagra merchants” (in zeldman’s words) who are to blame, it’s also the registrars who allow people’s domain names to be slipped out from under them. In the case of succaland, the apparently guilty parties are Ultimate Search (the thief) and (the facilitator), aka shitbag #1 and shitbag #2. Proprietors of websites, we need to spread word about this. It Could Happen To You.

Update, friday: a related bomb is being dropped. Verisign. Verisign. Verisign.


A brief history of poster design.

free words

An art project, a book surreptitiously placed in libraries and bookstores, clearly marked as free. Read the background story for some interesting insight into people’s attitudes towards free things. (via MeFi)

space court

Space court is the latest mega-budget pet project from director Joseph Beard. “Hey kids! You ever wonder what it’s like to be an obstructor of justice or a convicted sex offender in space? Well now you can find out!” And here’s an article about it at the Universe.


A moving weblog post that I’ve been thinking about for days now.

don't panic

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy game is now online.


So if there was a film called Prison Wedding – and there really should be one – what might the plot be?

second-hand waitressing story

This guy walks in, a really big guy. Fat old guy, with a cane. He’s got white pants, buttoned up really high – up to his chin, practically. Waitress spills two waters and a coke on his pants. She apologizes. He groans, heads to the washroom. He comes back with stacks of paper towels wadded up on his chin-pants. He proceeds to eat his dinner, soaking wet.

the healing power of Lynch

I enjoyed Mulholland Drive in the theatre, but my opinion of it shrank the more I thought about it – it seemed like a retread of the incredible Lost Highway, awkwardly cobbled together from bits of a TV pilot. The seams were too obvious: the first half is all exposition of characters who aren’t developed (but who would be in a series); the second half was a hurried and sleazy attempt to come to a dream-logic sort of resolution.

Cut to me. In DVD aisle. Staring at the fucking thing. Why? I don’t even like you.

Cut to me (of course), sprawled on sofa, feeling under the weather. Full up on George’s chicken. The city is hotter than a Thai lunch. Onset of dusk as the film plays. Hot, sick, and full of chicken, I nod off briefly, during various scenes. And that little devil of a film gets all up in there, right up in my brain, and tweaks everything up. And now I’m a fan. Big, huge. Willing to wrassle to the death if the Drive’s virtue is called into question.

There is something beautiful about a change of opinion.

(Psst: have a look at this MeFi thread for some neat links and chatter.)


Thursday was the opening night of the Images Festival, with a stack of films at the Bloor Cinema. Only one film out of six or seven shown enraged me, which was far below expectations. Has the avant-garde lost its pretension? Is the Images Fest no longer avant-garde? Was it ever? Has MTV made this stuff easier to watch? I can’t really say; alls I know is, the evening was surprisingly pleasant.

The Tscherkassky film (Dreamwork) was my fave. The technique is contact printing: he took found footage (a Barbara Hershey horror film from 1981, I’m assuming it’s this), cut it up and exposed new film with it. Multiple exposures are the name of the game:

Through this, I am able, in a literal sense, to realize the central mechanism by which dreams produce meaning, the “dream work,” as Sigmund Freud described it: displacement [Verschiebung] and condensation [Verdichtung].

Cool beans. And then I went and nearly put myself into a beef coma with a BBQ-at-your-table beef overload at Korea House. That’s livin’.


This Irish Times article contends that 80% of Venezuelans are poor. Surely “wide popularity” would require at least 50% of a given group? That would mean at least 40% popularity, wouldn’t it? That same article mentions that “the newspapers have reported his popularity
ratings are running about 30 per cent. The privately owned media are
virulently and almost unanimously hostile to Chávez.” The AP article skips
that part. It does mention that Chavez “had irritated Washington with his
close ties to Mr. Castro, visits to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and to
Libya.” Iraq and Libya are OPEC member states, as is Venezuela. Heaven
forbid they meet.

But you do get a sense that Chavez ticked off business leaders, the church, the military and the US, which tends to put a cramp in one’s governing style. However, it’s the oil, of course, that really sealed the deal: according to the AP article’s little timeline, in February of this year, Chavez installed a new board of directors in the state owned oil company, and executives were outraged, claiming the move was intended to strengthen his control over the company.

Imagine that. The head of state wants to control the state-owned oil company. The nerve.

So say what you want about this coup. Just don’t call it a goddamned victory for democracy.


… is relaunched. We got bought out by some media conglomerate, the skitfaced media group. There’s a new fast server, new design, and lots of new content, such as: the karaoke singman; the chork I promised you, from Octuple AAAAAAAA Longhorn-San Food Systems; ball (what is round?); S.A.N.D.W.I.C.H., the Special Association for Narcotics, Deception, Witchcraft, Infanticide and Hatred; the sleazy International Universe; a research log by the lab that invented the BEG9 Begging Robot; new bios of the 7 Tiger personalities; and the hot, lonely new food system, El Horno. A few of the new sites will be updated frequently, so keep checkin’ that shit out. If you have a weblog, or any other personal mass communicatin’ device, and you like what you see, spread the word! We want to get the word out and rustle up some nice traffic.

panicky place

Here’s an inferior review of a superior film. Sharpen those critical knives. And get ready for spoilers! spoilers! spoilers!

I’ll skip over the opening round of generalizations and proceed on:

By some means that remain frustratingly unclear, they are able to break into the brownstone without setting off the alarm or creating any other disturbance that would announce their presence to Meg.

He must have missed the part where it’s explained that Forrest Whittaker designed the ‘panic room.’ Odd, because it’s central to the plot. So then let’s go with that:

This dramatic improbability jars us from Fincher’s meticulously constructed world and foretells the movie’s tendency to slack off whenever the story shifts from mood piece to cat-and-mouse thriller.

I must have missed the ‘mood piece’ sections entirely. (Does he mean “setting shots”?) But then having understood a key plot point, I wasn’t jarred from the meticulously constructed world long enough to notice, was I?

…a toilet flush initiates a slow motion chase that is visually compelling but that feels fudged at the most basic level. Utterly predictable and therefore moot, it ends where we know it will…

“Feels fudged at the most basic level.” I feel like he’s wrong about this, but gosh, I just don’t know how to put into words. But I feel right!

“Utterly predictable and therefore moot”… I could start by crackin’ out the Hitchcock suspense/surprise theory, but that would be a little over the top. Let me just point out that a suspense sequence can still function when we know the outcome, just as suspense films in general are still suspenseful even though we know the outcome (good prevails, bad dudes sent packin’, etc.) It’s how you get there that counts. Or should Sunset Boulevard be boring because we know from the start the good guy dies at the end?

… Meg morphs into the prototypical James Cameron babe: muscled, profane, and butch-sexy in her undies.

I like this line, and you’re starting to win me back. Go get ‘em, tiger!

If only Fincher had Cameron’s sense of momentum. As the ideas start running out on both sides of the wall, the movie loses its sense of direction, and Fincher has no choice but to open the playing field and diffuse some of the claustrophobia.

Oh rats, you lost me agin. Or did I miss the cross-town police chase? The helicopter attack? Sure, I guess the front door was open during one scene, and one of the characters does go outside toward the end. The claustrophobia is ruined! Curses and damn.

But maybe Fincher has something more insidious up his sleeve. Whenever Panic Room fails as an exercise in suspense, it succeeds on the level of pure, uncensored real estate porn.

To avoid looking like a regular old newspaper film critic, begin strained pseudo-theory: now.

In Fincher’s world, however, cruising for a home involves the same perils as cruising for sex, and an unmistakable whiff of necrophilia perfumes everything.

Pseudo-theory stretching … stretching …

Production designer Arthur Max has created an intimidating fusion of Gothic architecture and contemporary gadgetry and then drenched it all in rot and decay.

Look mom, I know what a production designer does! Pseudo-theory momentarily sidelined.

His Manhattan brownstone is a large cadaver whose cavities the camera prowls like a rapist on the loose.

Snap! Pseudo-theory lies twitching on the ground. House? Body? Death? Rapecam? Flight of fancy? What? Oh right, the panic room wasn’t really a ‘safe haven,’ it was a tomb… fabulous.

Don’t get me wrong: Mr. Fincher’s latest is not an astoundingly great film. Methinks its aspirations were not so lofty, however. When we who have even modest Hollywood budgets at our disposal set our films in single locations, and make straight-up thrillers within said confines, the goal is more likely mastery of craft through limitation of form, and the comparison to Rope and Lifeboat becomes inevitable. These were Hitchcock’s experiments with unity of time and unity of place, respectively – the former taking place in ‘real time’ (story time=film length), and the latter taking place in a single location, a lifeboat. This is not to say that a Fincher is a Hitchcock, nor that Panic Room rivals those films in either achievement or limitation, but rather that the intention seems the same. I’m gearin’ up, I’m practicin’ my kung fu, gettin’ ready for big things a few films from now. I don’t think Fincher was trying to make his Rear Window, even if he did make a shut-in voyeur fest; so set that aside and enjoy the film for what it is.


It’s one of the more polished Mamet films, with great music and photography. Fascinating to see Gene Hackman and Dan DeVito doing the Mamet thing; also nice to see regulars Rebeca Pidgeon and Ricky Jay (who incidentally appears to be a magician).

More to the point, it’s got a script you can set your watch to. Twist after fucking twist, yet with logical consistency. And shop around, you can’t beat these lines:

JOE: Makes the world go round.
BOBBY: What’s that?
JOE: Gold.
BOBBY: Some people say love.
JOE: Ah, they’re right too. It is love. (beat) Love of gold.

Everybody needs money. That’s why they call it money.

She can talk her way out of a sunburn.

You’re going to spend the rest of your life with me. Right now.

That’s what I’m talkin’ bout.


Let’s not forget about the marshmallow fluff.

"real life" roundup

More accurately, real-life friends doing things on the web, which is about as close to “real” as I like to get. No. 1 is King, who has started a blog. He’s one of my best friends and an even better writer. Dig it.

No. 2: Naughty Girl Collective, gettin’ the world out about involuntary quickies and cupping the balls. I don’t know which of you wrote, “on your next trip down south why not stop in and say hello to the penis’s friendly neighbors?”, but there should be some sort of award for that.

web roundup

Cockeyed puts his big grinning head to good use and exposes those “lose weight fast” signs for what they are – part of a pyramid marketing scheme perpetrated by a single company, Herbalife. Personal publishing meets amateur sleuthing and amazing things result.

stavrosthewonderchicken brings you the hot, hot Chinese propaganda poster links.