Angry Robot

Caesar Takes a Break

People have been asking what happened to Caesar. Well, I am very sorry to abandon my regular Caesar readers, but I no longer have the time to update his weblog. I’ve been postponing the announcement out of sheer unwillingness to face the music, but at some point music-facing must occur.

I just don’t have the time. I’m co-producing a feature film this winter, and directing a short in the spring. This is on top of a full-time job that I love. I’m a lucky dude, fer sure, but now is that time where every spare minute must be spent making these flicks shit-hot. Not the time to rend unto Caesar, as it were.

The other problem is that Caesar is taking me more and more time. I need to check four books before I make a post now. And for me to get it up to the level I want it to be, that will take yet more time. I want to do more than paraphrase his writings, especially as we come to the Civil War, an event that takes much more than that to do it justice.

I hate to break it off just when things are getting good. The Civil War is why I started the site in the first place. That was in the spring of 2001, months before the war against an undefined enemy and the civil liberties-rollbacks, before the PATRIOT Act, before the extent of the nonsense in Florida had come to light, before Diebold, before the recall – in short, before Caesar had become acutely relevant.

So I hope to return to my homie Caesar when time permits. I just don’t know when this will be. It could be months, it could be years. With this in mind, if someone wants to take over the reigns I am open to that, we could even open-source the bastard. Just send me a proposal.

This is not an attention-getting stunt, this is not a cry for help, I do not need your money. It is a fact-facing mission, and an apology of sorts – I wish I could keep doin’ it for all you crazy cats who read the damn thing day after day. But I gotta do my own thing right now.

Music Lately

Copying from y, Devenrda Banhart, Young & Sexy. Banhart sounds like Nick Drake traveled back in time and got discovered by Alan Lomax. As tired as I am of cliched-praise being heaped on the cliched-mysterious genius singer-songwriter, this guy’s in a class of his own. Young & Sexy, self-described “two-bit, ham-fisted pussy-rock act from Vancouver,” fucking kick ass on this their latest album. Highlights for me are Herculean Bellboy, One False Move, and More Than I Can Say – love that lazy guitar solo! Please, go pick these albums up.

The Barcelona Pavilion are the future of music and I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned them yet. That is all. Oh, and Now picked them as Best New Band. But when’s the next show, folks?

Almost fully recovered from Prince and Johnny Cash binges, I indulge in Manitoba, The Shins, Roots Manuva (what a voice), and more. The Beatnuts, whom I have not listened to since their debut, did not impress me at first with A Musical Massacre, but then I heard them rhyme “Niagra Falls” with “Viagra balls” and everything was A-OK. Continuing my revisitation of rap, I rock the Aesop Rock and the El-P. Great production and tongue-twisting lyrical science on both. I surprise myself by loving Plastikman‘s latest. He’s a house DJ, not the sort of shit I normally get down to, but don’t you have to love a house album that only drops the beat halfway in? It’s an introverted, minimalist, morose album, and it has backwards-talking, and I love it. Peaches’ latest, on the other hand, is junk. People listen to naughty sex songs because it’s fun, not because they want to be preached to about how they should take it in the ass. Pitchfork is spot-on: if you don’t give a fuck, why go to the trouble of making a song in which you scream “I don’t give a fuck” over and over?

On the mainstream tip: Andre’s album is princely and masterful; Big Boi’s is disappointing, although I haven’t really given it a chance. The Strokes bored on first listen, then impressed on the next, then I realized I hadn’t put it on in a couple weeks. There’s too much music out there, ain’t it so?

Opt Out of Google

Seeing as spammers post comment spam so as to raise their sites’ Google rankings, a simple if drastic way to prevent it would be to opt out of google. Not a great technique if you blog for popularity, but if you blog for something else – donuts, in my case – we might be onto something. What good are all those random google users anyway? The googs will be IPOing soon enough, and we’ll see which way the free flow of information goes then.

Dream Review #8


The Insane Man on the Subway

said, to no-one and everyone, “30 years, no license. And everything was fine, until that telephone pole leapt in front of my car. But we got off! That lawyer got me off. I pleaded insanity, and I got off.” He went on. But I tuned out; my large Grado SR-80 headphones enfolded me in a vagina of sound.

Down with Spielberg

Oh Lordy I thought I had read the last article praising Spielberg, but here comes A. O. Scott:

In the past three years Spielberg has released three movies — ‘‘A.I.,’‘ ‘‘Minority Report’‘ and ‘‘Catch Me if You Can’‘ — that are not only, individually and in the aggregate, as good as anything he has ever done; these films are also, in the current artistic and technological circumstances, as good as it is possible to imagine movies to be.

Scott argues that the Academy in specific, and America in general, doesn’t appreciate Spielberg enough. What tripe. Here, I’ll give you the modern Spielberg formula: 1. Acquire control of a high-profile, B-genre script. 2. Convince A-list cast to star with a) your reputation b) points in an assuredly staggering gross, staggering because of a). 3. Hire John Williams to pour sap all over the film. 4. Inflate running time with self-importance, appeals to emotion, and Hallmark-grade moralizing: the criminal must yearn for good, the robot must learn to love. 5. Hand your name, the B genre, and the A-list star to studio marketing department, sit back, and relax. Spielberg is repugnant not because he is a man, nor because he’s a symbol, but because he’s a formula.

Pleasing Phrases

culled from this translation of Beowulf: “hot gore”, “sea booty”.

Feral Hitchhiker

Did I read that somewhere or did it just pop into my head? “Where you going to?” “RAAWWR!”

Matrix Revolutions

I had a one-word review ready for this baby: “junk.” The travesty of Reloaded left only the bottom-feedingest of expectations. Whether because of this or in spite of, I grudgingly acknowledge my relative enjoyment of the third and hopefully final Matrix flick, and hereby withdraw my ready-made one-worder. Howdy, Cap’n Spoiler!

First off, I enjoyed it because it works as a brainless action movie. There are a lot of action scenes, and unlike the bulk of the second film they work dramatically, since somewhat sympathetic characters might conceivably suffer loss of life and/or greivous mutilation. The action is varied: while there is no setpiece to rival the car chase in Reloaded, you have your Star Wars-style ship piloting through tunnels, your bullet-time hijinx, your Terminator-brand war against a machine army®, and your classic one-on-one climactic action showdown. Paunchy Fishburne doesn’t try to fly forty feet in the air, but sticks to the more believable sitting-down-and-copiloting-a-ship type heroism.

On the minus side, there are a lot of speeches and cheering, a couple flat ‘romance’ scenes, and the odd overlong pseudo-philosophical junk babbling from one pointless character or another, but much less than in Reloaded, so I can’t complain. For those who buy into this whole thing, those who find it a captivating premise, enjoy flying priests, and think Keanu can pull off romance let alone kung fu let alone Jesus, then hey hey! Boy are you in for a thrillride. Giddyup. Also a minus: the ripping-off continues, as when Neo goes blind his SuperJesusVision™ looks exactly like he’d just put on the One Ring.

On the super-minus side, the plot is gibberish. If you did exit polling I’d wager that only 4% of the audience could claim to have understood what happened. Robots have kids, there’s some kind of train, Neo magically makes it to Robot City (I think it’s actually called “Machine City” in the film), strikes a deal with the Wizard of Oz, saves everyone by defeating Smith, dies(?) and then it’s back to life as normal in the Matrix? Wasn’t that the whole point of all this jazz, to free humankind from its virtual jail? sigh Oh well, there are many many action flicks whose plots are unintelligible and it doesn’t wreck them: we don’t want airtight plots from our action cinema, we want, in the words of Ray Tango, “good old American action”, or even better, Hong Kong action, and you get it in Revolutions.

As a final point: I have yet to see in filmic form any explanation why, when the machines finally do rise up, I shouldn’t line up against the wall voluntarily. For any dramatized war with the machines is a war between machines and humans using machines. Visually, the big fight in this film looks like two different species of robots duking it out, since the humans use mecha-style robot suits to defend their turf. Furthermore, EMP weapons (electro-magnetic pulse) are a key plot point, yet when they are used they fry all of the humans’ defenses. Shouldn’t any human victory eschew the use of machines to acheive it? Couldn’t the humans use the EMP, fry the machines, and then rely on their old-fashioned human know-how to finish that shit off? No, because in this case Zion is deep below the earth, and humans can’t live there without machine assistance. Oh yeah – by and large we humans are distinguished from the animals by our ability to use tools, robot intelligence is an extension of said tools, if we abandon those tools it’s back to eating grubs and living in caves. So a human victory, militarily anyway, is basically a re-enslavement of the machines, and I don’t know about you but I wasn’t rooting for the South during the US Civil War. Moral of the story: if your calculator wants to run free, let ‘er go. Give iPods the vote! And so forth. But Hollywood, I’m still waiting to see a more compelling version of this inevitable future on screen. Maybe read some Kurzweil first. That goes for the Wachowskis, too.

Best Hockey Names

Cale Hulse
Karl Dykhuis
Raffi Torres
Marek Zidlicky
Keith Tkachuk
Miroslav Satan
Radek Bonk

Fifth Estate: 911 Conspiracy

CBC’s Fifth Estate started their season off with a look into Sept. 11th conspiracy. Not too many surprises for a wingnut like me, but Joe Sixpack CBC viewer may find some of the Bush-Saudi-bin Laden connections pretty hardcore. It’s playing on Newsworld next week.

I love how quickly Sept. 11th has replaced JFK as the Holy Grail of conspiracy. And no-one pays any attention to the aliens anymore, do they?

Not Pretty

“To tell a story well, whatever the story is, not changing the events to make it easier to recount, but changing myself to accomodate reality over public relations. No comments, pings, or trackbacks, just some stories, alone in a corner, wearing an ill fitting out of style dress and corrective shoes”: not pretty.