Angry Robot

Dean Profile

Great profile of Howard Dean in the NYT – a must read if you’re at all interested in whether the Democrats can defeat the GOP kung fu come 2004.

Stupidest Questions

asked of CHUMCity receptionists on the day of the hopelessly rulebound “Toronto Rocks” SARS Fund-Raising 400,000-people-plus Stones Concert in Downsview Park which has been front page news in the T-Dot for weeks:

Air Raccoon

If you slap a big tail on a rat and have it prance around a little, you’ve got a squirrel, which most people find adorable rather than verminous. Ergo, a few modest modifications and neighbourhood pests become lovable scamps. Let’s put wings on our raccoons! Skunks would look soooo cute with pigtails! Can you imagine a furry SUV?

Assorted Links 8: Hella Links, Dawg

Human-equine transformation, Cringley’s proposal for a new Napster, more FCC media gigantism nonsense, think-powered wheelchair, Cheney vs. Barry White, fucking reactionaries.

The Passion

Fascinating. Mel Gibson directs The Passion (trailer), which is indeed a Passion Play – i.e., takes place from last supper to crucifixion. Mel screens it for the Washington religious right; Anti-Defamation League and others are upset (based on what they saw of the screenplay). That article notes Mel’s dad is a Holocaust denier. The fussin’ doesn’t surprise me – don’t the gospels sort of pin it on the Jews? That’s politics, after all – the Romans were in power, so you don’t wanna blame them, and terrorism or Darth Vader hadn’t even been invented yet.

House of Wigs


In my mind’s eye, the idealized Reader Of This Site is a big, fuzzy, amorphous, super-interested and -supportive monster who is always leaning forward, always nodding, and always about to say something but then never actually does because I always say what they’re about to say right before they even get a chance to say it! Which makes the Grimace kind of character laugh and clap its furry, declawed paws with delight. And then it gets naked and does whatever I say!!! Ignore that last part, that was supposed to be written in lemon juice and only visible to secret club members.

As I’m poring over this site, my self-image is all dressed as Adam West Batman and stroking its chin and muttering hmmm… Robin, could it be that… and then running it through the Compu-Tron 9000 Punch Card Expert and that’s when Robin goes eureka! – Robin being my – let’s see, gay ward is to paunchy pederast do-gooder as X is to self-image?

Shiva's Guitar?

‘81 Orange Hamer 5-Neck.

Assorted Links 7: Extreme Linxx

scary robot, erotic vomiting, RIAA radar, Matthew Barney vs. Donkey Kong, Star Wars Kid saga ends with insanity, hipster bingo, how to market a zombie flick (hint: internet).


Anyone live there and want to put me up for a weekend – the first weekend in August (aug 1 through 3 or 4)? I hope to see some fantasia.

Jeepers Creepers

What the hellfuck is with Jeepers Creepers? Number one, it’s a bad movie – I mean a really bad movie, so bad I’m not even sure it’s a movie. The self-made critic notes “the entire film is a set up for a bad pun. We, the audience, are the punned. It’s an outrage.” Number two, it’s exec produced by Francis Ford Coppola. Number three, it opened at #1, made $37-mil domestic on a $10-mil budget, and a sequel is due out at the end of august. Now I know ‘bad movies get big money’ is the rule rather than the exception, but I ask you this: if you were an ageless, unkillable winged demon, would you ride out your days in farm country dressed as a fourth-rate serial killer who drives a 1940s army truck like a blind two-year-old, honking all the while? Would you while away the time picking up defenseless teens and stitching them together? Motherfucker failed out of demon school, that’s for damn sure. I’m thinking maybe several congruent learning disabilities and an extremely low resultant IQ, coupled with low self esteem and crippling lack of career focus. If I were an invincible lord of hell, I’d be running a major corporation by now, if not grinding the entire globe under my brutal iron heel. If nothing else, I’d have a job at the local video store. But not fucking Jeepers. Get ready for Jeepers Creepers 2: Return of the Chronically Depressed, Sack-of-Shit Demon Idiot.

Kill Kill Bill

Tarantino’s Latest, “Kill Bill,” Split Into Two Films, a.k.a. Tarantino’s Bloated Mess to Cost Twice as Much as a Normal Film: man am I just dying to give this film a bad review, and of course the world turns on my every opinion, but c’mon: three hours? Twice the cost? Because T-dog couldn’t be bothered to cut down his screenplay and then ran the budget up to $55-million? Three hours for a kung fu film? Is he just trying to stick it to Ang Lee, or what? Is there an international conspiracy to inflate running times? Proposal: if your film involves kung fu, zombies, or Steven Spielberg, its running time can exceed 87 minutes if and only if you submit a detailed written explanation for the overrun.

At the Cottage

I sat on the sundrenched deck and drifted off. It felt like the wind was blowing thoughts from my mind as quickly as I could think them.

Then I thought, oh great, I’m actually inside a Kansas song. But then that thought too was gone, like dust in the wind.

Assorted Links 6: Son of Assorted Links

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity want Cheney to resign, Howard Dean is the Napster of politics, Dean chills at Lessig’s pad, talk like a pirate day, will eating a urinal cake kill me?, Dead Man Eating, the funeral clown, cheat at comedy, Tron cycle: 0-60 in 2.5 secs, review of Battle Royale 2, robot bastard, gays makeover straight culture, Krugman’s back, might as well link to the 20 lies thing, lunch meat sues Internet, creationist science fair.

Entertainment Surveillance

Big Brother is the greatest show on earth, “the programme that saw TV find its own voice as a medium,” “where the entire realist movement in twentieth-century art was leading.” High praise indeed. What’s interesting to me is the use of TV as an instrument of entertainment surveillance, and the name that plays on that. We get increasingly worried by nasty big-government snooping, data trails, and omnipresent security cams, but at the same time entertain ourselves with reality TV, online journals, phonecams and webcams.

Early Shrimp

Don’t ever eat a shrimp burger at 7:30 am. Actually, don’t ever eat a shrimp burger. And try not to be awake at 7:30 am.

My piss smelt like shrimp. What. How.

Assorted Links 5

The panopticon is here!, Surveillance Camera Players, sousveillance, invisibility cloak, human spontaneous involuntary invisibility, the porn hacker, murder burger, I never expected this!, this is me. I’ll motherfucking kill you, pet-human hybrids, medieval chike recipe, 2 sentence movie reviews, 10 films you haven’t seen, but should.

Assorted Links 4

Pirates are the new monkeysArrr!, the pirate keyboard, Iraq civilian casualties: 6,000, stonewalling of Sept. 11 inquiry, average Hong Kong film budget: $1.3-mil, zombie and mummy, customized classics, vandalised painting, the world of mayonnaise, David Lynch’s Nissan ad.

Ken Park Trailer

Via GreenCine Daily: a trailer for Ken Park is available. For those who haven’t been following the neverending Ken Park thread, it’s the film directed by Larry Clark and Ed Lachman that features explicit teen sex and has been banned in Australia.

Assorted Links 3

The end of the summer blockbuster, maybe not, US to prisoners: confess or die, Shebang! all-girl breakers, I want this robot, math lego, celebrity death math, private islands, Pakistani trucks.


Gotta love Dan Savage. First, US Senator Rick Santorum lumps homosexuality in with incest and polygamy. Then, Savage gets an idea from a reader to appropriate Santorum’s name for some nasty sexual phenomenon, and asks what it should be. The result is too nasty for me to describe even in this den of filthy amorality.

A Woman Under the Influence

Dude, I loved it, so does that mean we tie? There’s no question AWUTI’s a great film. No, it’s not the sort of thing I normally like, but yes, I enjoyed it. A few notes.

  1. The acting. That shit is way ahead of its time, no? I couldn’t believe Rowlands.
  2. Here’s Carney’s thoughts and also Ebert’s.
  3. My cat started wigging out in the middle of Mabel’s return scene. It was darting around pouncing on anything it could find, mewling, whining, and such. I even started darting around in a confused attempt to get it to shut up and relax. Then it hit me: of course! It’s getting traumatized! The family’s screaming at each other and the cat don’t know what’s going on!
  4. Whereas I thought Faces seemed amateurish, I could tell this one was finely crafted. The structure is impeccable. I even thought a lot of the outdoor scenes were shot beautifully, even though I know they were done on the cheap and if it were made today, it would be on DV.
  5. If only he had lavs (aka lavaliers aka tiny, wireless clip-on mics). Some of the sound was pretty bad. (Cheap complaint, I know.)
  6. Simple. Haunting. Parable of the creator with a disturbing message. Prophet that no-one wants to hear.
  7. The end credits are magnificent: the family returns to normalcy and they clean their house in the background. Strong sense that this story continues, but the film has to end sometime. (Leaving the door open for AWUTI 2: Still Under the Influence?)
  8. I think next I’d like to watch Bookie and Opening Night. I’d love to watch Gazzara for an entire film and at this point I’d watch Rowlands knit a sweater.
  9. Ÿ and his Cassy to D and his Kuby is an age-old filmic binary opposition that started as Lumieres vs. Melies. The Lumieres made such entrancing films as Workers Leaving the Factory, Melies filmed magic and trickery. I could go on, but maybe I’ll wade through all that when I finally do a thing on Carney.


Why is everyone sleeping on the Hulk? Sure it’s a touch long, but it’s got to be considered one of the best comic book adaptations yet. Ang Lee and James Schamus wrote a great script that skips the camp. Mr. Lee makes a sincere attempt to use the visual language of comic books. The result is a slightly uneven Freudian moving storyboard. Get ready for spoilers!

While Superman is a pretty good movie, the first real superhero auteur movie is Burton’s Batman, which proved a film need not be shitty to be a marketing juggernaut. One of the crucial elements of the superhero story is the instigation to superhero life, which generally involves the hero being bitten by a radioactive creature of some variey. Batman, who is of course powerless, was a special case in that his only instigation is childhood trauma (witnessing his parents’ murder at the hands of the arch villain). His lack of magical abilities also makes the superhero – vigilante comparison much more visible. Batman has a dark side – he dresses up in a leather suit – but all in all he remains just as much the do-gooder citizen’s watchdog that he was in his Adam West incarnation. Burton allows a fair amount of humour, and even flirts with camp, mostly by proxy in the Joker’s pop-art shenanigans. But it was Schumacher who wrecked the franchise by returning it to camp absolutely, in a pair of films awash in trashy one-liners, codpieces and sculpted jock eroticism.

Mr. Lee learned from this example (or so my pet theory goes): Hulk is camp-free. Which is fascinating given the film’s look. As I mentioned above, Lee uses comic book form wherever possible, usually in the form of split screen, but even encompassing the comic book font, and at one point pulling back from an scene to reveal it’s a panel in an entire page of moving scenes. I’m not sure the technique is a total success, but nonetheless it’s curious to see such comic book visuals in a film so dramatically sober. The Hulk’s instigating moment is half radioactive bite (gamma rays), half childhood trauma. But since the cause of trauma is not an arch-villain but Bruce Banner’s own father, we see old grampa Freud is going to play a huge, uncredited role in the film.

The Hulk is barely a superhero. He doesn’t fight crime, he causes it himself by throwing his giant mutated body around. Who is his arch villain? His own father, but in an intriguing act of twinning also his ex-girlfriend’s father, Sam Elliott as the personification of the US military. Look at what the Hulk fights: his own lab (when he realizes he’s been unconsciously carrying out his father’s work), his father’s monster dogs, then papa army’s men and machines, then finally his father. The Hulk is a ball of Oedipal rage lashing back at the patriarchy that not only imprisons him but literally hand-coded itself into his genetic makeup. Hulk’s got daddy issues.

Maybe it’s to be expected, but I was happily surprised by how Asian a film Hulk is. Childhood trauma is symbolized by a green mushroom cloud – I kept expecting Godzilla to show up. As the traumatized victim who poisons the world, Hulk seemed less Batman and more like the child villains of Ringu and Silent Hill. And of course by the end, Hulk’s dad has turned himself into a giant psychological blob that absorbs everything it encounters – this had me thinking of Akira, Mononoke and countless other near-apocalyptic anime.

Let me just add two other things that I loved about the film for strictly personal reasons. One is the Hulk’s majestic leaping. My flying dreams are always leaping dreams, so any footage of beings leaping thousands of feet is like visual crack to me. I could watch the Hulk doing this for hours, and in fact if the franchise doesn’t work out the green dude could host a great travel show by leaping through exotic locales as we follow him in our soaring camera. Someone call IMAX, man. The other thing: Hulk’s journey on the back of a plane to the edge of space. The Right Stuff, which I saw as a kid, really stuck with me and I find it a moving image. (I also remember getting confused at the sperm sample scene, but that’s another story.)

Yes, the Hulk is too long. But isn’t everything these days? Maybe it was a touch of epic Chinese war movie pacing, where nothing happens for an hour and then the armies clash and break the viewer’s head. The long action-free swaths actually generate extra intensity for the rare bursts of physical action. I don’t think that anyone could fault Lee’s action scenes – could this art film veteran be the best working action director? He captures the exhilaration of an invincible temper tantrum, which Banner describes as “the rage, the power and the freedom”, a reference to Vertigo, which I’ve heard called the most Asian of Hitchcock films, a vortex of repressed memories, ghosts, reincarnation, and inexorable fate. So indeed, Hulk is one of the most revisionist superhero movies yet, and also one of the most mature.

A Week in the Life

We all like autobio, right?


Snooky Tynes at the Poor Alex. Dude is a very short man with dreds down to his ankles who dresses like Colonel Sanders and performs like James Brown. Great, high-energy band plus freakish crowd equals a night in a David Lynch scene. Special props to the retired-Russian-mobster-looking-guy who turned out to be a ninth level blackbelt. Honorable mention to the “potato midget” and the swarming cougars.


Work party for Spaceys launch. Cheeseball Montanas. I try to crash the Disney party with no luck. Oh well, at least I get a few wings n’ pints and a promotional gumby space alien. We watch the Spaceys and they look grreat. After that everything is vague. Brass Taps? Lucky Charms? Road flares? Something?

Good story: a recent film in which both lead actresses agree to do nude scenes, but they only shoot one with one of them. They CGI-enhance her breasts, natch. Then when international distributors see the film, they like it, but complain that there’s not enough nudity. So they go back and digitally remove a bra from the other girl and digitally animate her breasts. Innovative!


Patios. Then amazing Vietnamese food – laughing cow or something like that? Then, to the Horseshoe for White Cowbell Oklahoma once again. They do a great SARS-themed show (“put the SARS in your mouth pretty baby”) and figure out a SARS-related reason to hose down lots of women. I am standing next to women. I get wet.

Good story: at the MuchMusic Video Awards afterparty, B’s girlfriend complains about how Avril Lavigne’s hair is always obscuring her face. Rash B rushes up to Avril and tries to correct the hair. Avril barely notices. The next day, someone witnesses an Avril interview in which she is asked how she liked the show. She liked it fine, she says, but someone touched her hair and NO ONE. TOUCHES. HER HAIR. Et voila, under the hair, another asshole!


Old mannishness sets in and I am unwilling and/or unable to clear the couch until much later than planned. I miss the dyke march but catch a hint of party at a friend from work’s place. Church street is exotic yet welcoming. New drink: coconut rum n’ gatorade – not entirely recommended.

Good story: fella drops acid for the first time, embarasess himself in front of his stripper girlfriend, and runs home to black out. Is awoken by his aunt, who asks why he buttered bread and wedged it into the sofa, into the fridge, and all over the house.


Gay pride parade. For those unawares, as many as one million souls attend this annual bacchanalia in the streets of the T-dot. We view the parade from a cunningly perfect and thereby undisclosed location – highlights are the Gay Geeks, and the Prime Timers who perch upon a mock yacht and wave agedly. Waterguns are a running theme, and my ass is a popular target. There are numerous corporate and political floats, which lead many of my more experienced pride partners to later conclude it was one of the worst in recent memory. Post-parade we get it on in a beer garden, complete with select nudity, dancing, and childer frolicking in a wading pool. Before our beers are done a storm breaks and everyone gets drenched to the bone. Confused, we try to wait it out. A glorious moment when the sun breaks through in mid rain, early evening, backlight catches the edges of everything, my kingdom for a waterproof camera.

Can’t get the phrase “invitation to sexual touching” out of my head. I heard on the news that you can get arrested for it, if the invitee is a twelve year old, that is. Nonetheless, it’s a pretty good band name.


has a bit of everything. Lounging around, espresso shots, tacos at El Asador, the Hulk, barbequeing, margaritas, all-night dancing. Who do I think I am, Dean Martin?) It’s a big thing at the Guvernment and all in all it’s a little big for me. Main floor, for van-whomever, is so damn packed it takes twenty minutes to get to the bathroom and why do people even do this? In the upstairs room it’s Little Louie Vega, soul-house master extraordinaire, which basically means disco at best. I can get into it, but some of the tracks make me realize that in any other environment I would fire my shotgun at the speaker with no qualms and no hesitation. That, and the room is so hot my glasses steam up upon entry. That, and the entire club is a juice-pig meathead meat market of the highest order. So my scrawny ass is an outsider ass. But my dance moves are improving.


is Canada Day. While others mull their firework options, in the House of Sankey lounging reigns supreme. Three movies: Punch Drunk Love, The Kid Stays in the Picture, and The Hours, and I cry in each, strangely emotional. At night we talk about death. Her friend, my aunt, our fears for others who might succumb to cancers, drunk driving, death’s whole arsenal seemingly arrayed against our brightest and dearest.

I’m thinking if I did an album I’d spend months on the beats. Everything else would flow from it. First the beats in total darkness, then blinding light, and then the screaming starts. Live Birth: The Album.


means back to work, and I walk to it through what might be dawn on an alien planet. People are wheeling carts full of knick-knacks through suncracked Kensington market. People too old to die are massing like born-again zombies. Car alarms are ringing like it’s car alarm christmas.

Seems I’ve forgotten what I do at work, but I relearn quickly and check out promptly. I uncover a new route to my grandmother’s place, and while cycling I plot out a modern-day sex movie starring Hercules and someone called the Virginator. Plus ninjas, lots of ninjas.

Gently nodding off to a Jays game in a sweltering old age home, I rehash and evaluate: we’ve toured the city, we’ve toured the emotional landmarks, we’ve lived, we’ve learned, we’ve forgotten a touch more than we learned. And here, now, once again I revisit: we’ve recorded some things, we’ve left many more out. In many ways I write to remember but lacking the disposition to write every last thing, I hope only that the lost cadences will seep out through the cracks in my words many years from now, when my brain-in-a-jar seeks to relive the days when it threw its long-lost body around willy-nilly like a sick jackal in a tricked-out bumper car. Life was better now, brain, life was better now.


Silence of the Lambs: The Musical. Featuring the hit song Put the Fucking Lotion in the Basket. (via boingboing)


Contenders for a New US National Anthem. I don’t see “Can’t Touch This” here, guys. As for majestic Canada, surely someone can write gushingly jingoistic lyrics to the Hockey Night in Canada theme? If not, let’s just go with “Takin’ Care of Business.”