The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Posts Tagged ‘dvds’

It’s That Time Of Year Again…

Posted by BigWords on December 5, 2009

Christmas, huh? It makes people go completely nuts, and for what?

I ventured forth onto the high street yesterday, and was amazed to see the town crawling with people. It was almost a scene out of a zombie flick, with the mindless husks of former people shuffling along towards their ultimate goal. Not brains, thank fuck, but cheap crap. They pile their shopping trolleys full of the nastiest, most foul food they can find, the worst DVD’s they can get their hands on – just because a Uwe Boll DVD is only £1.99, doesn’t mean it’s any better than at full price – and expect the hole in their soul will be filled thanks to excessive and idiotic purchasing.

Wrong. Filing the hole deep in your essence is what cocaine is for.

I hate Christmas, especially because of the universe’s fun and games at my expense. Want to play along, and see who has the worst luck at this time of year? Fine. Let me start with a minor annoyance and work my way up to full-on cataclysm as this post progresses.

The minor annoyance is the television. Or, rather, the beige box which used to be a television, but which is now an oversized paperweight. It started acting strange on Wednesday, which was – not unsurprisingly – two weeks to the day that the five-year guarantee ran out. It made a wheezing sound, then had a fit of some kind. The sound, thereafter, was out of synch with the visuals. It continued on for a while, but the signs were obvious – it was on life support, and fading fast. When I switched it on this morning I was presented with a black screen and the sound of a mouse caught in the back of the television.

Squeak-squeak-squeak-squeak-squeak-squeak-

Loud enough to make me spill my coffee down the front of my shirt, and setting me off on a bad mood from which no amount of swearing and stomping around will bring me out of. It’s almost as if they make the damn things so that they are designed to break after they fall out of guarantee. What is it with Goodmans televisions anyway? This is the second one I’ve got my hands on, and they seem to self-destruct at an alarming rate. The first, which was dead on arrival, obviously came from the “no refund” pile at the back of the store, but luckily I bought the five-year plan. All was sorted, and the replacement arrived within two weeks.

I’m sure they stack televisions in piles according to when they expire, because they always manage to stay operational until the moment that they are no longer covered by insurance. It’s a pain in the ass, especially since I now have to contend with the yahoo’s running around trying to get all of their Christmas shopping done at the last possible moment. Thank you Goodmans. Now, if I could only work out how to hook up my Freeview box to my computer monitor…

But that isn’t the best part of my week.

It turns out that the job I was expecting to waltz into again is no longer there for me. Which means that my non-existent savings will have to stretch further than ever before, adding pressure to my already maxed-out credit card. I knew that there was the possibility that there would be a reshuffle within the company due to the economic climate, but this came straight out of the blue. I was promised a position by someone who no longer works there, so I’m not gonna make a scene.

Even better…

My brother called and told me that his apartment manager has given him a two month notice. Over Christmas, when everything is closed, it will be impossible to get a place set up. It appears I may have him, his SO, and their kid coming to stay for an unspecified length of time at some point in January. Fucking marvelous. I want my family to feel that my door is always open to them, but I never expected any of them would be foolish enough to accept my implied invitation. The timeframe for this event is worryingly vague, and I have the feeling that there may not be enough time to hide all of my first editions, rare comics, and enough DVDs to open a Blockbusters. Everyone knows what kids are like, and my niece isn’t getting anywhere near my Gold Key collection…

It’s below zero here. There is a layer of ice on the windows, and the garden is covered in a blanket of frost. My television is dead, I have no job, there are family members coming to stay, and I haven’t slept in three days. I can’t think of a better excuse to ban this ridiculous holiday immediately.

Bah, humbug…

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It’s Just A Question Of Self-Restraint…

Posted by BigWords on October 22, 2009

As NaNo lasts an entire month, I figure that I’ll have to drastically alter my internet habits. The forum activities will be hard to give up, but if I stick to two or three rather than my usual round of three-to-four hour surfing then I’ll be able to give more attention to my writing. The NaNo forum is going to be one of my main haunts, but I can’t give up AW for any novel. Hell, I’ll probably need some of the advice therein to get my story fixed up nice ‘n’ presentable.

Film and game forums will be banned from my computer for the foreseeable future though, as those are distractions, and I probably shouldn’t be browsing 4chan in the first place… TV Tropes might have to be given a miss as well, despite being one of the most useful Wiki’s on the net – yes, it is much better than the one you’ve all heard of. The one which pops up at the top of every single fucking Google search. I have spent longer on TV Tropes than Wikipedia these last few months, and not a single minute has been wasted time.

Can I stay away from ‘Quote Of The Day’ sites? Hmmm. Might need to ponder that. I certainly won’t be bothering with online dictionaries or thesauruses, seeing as how the NaNo WIP will be posted here anyway. I do so love the spellcheck WordPress has, even if it isn’t filled with as many obscure and wonderful words as I would like. There will be no reason to mess around on music sites because I have enough CDs to listen to different songs all the way through November, and I’m not going to need any browser games.

Am I missing anything?

Oh yeah… Torrents. Downloadable goodness. I might as well fill up some of the space on my hard drive while I’m busy writing, and the entertainments which will be ready for me at the end of the month can count as my little reward to myself for keeping focused. The idea of staying in for a month is beginning to appeal to me, especially when I take into account the money I will save by not going out. I might even end the month with some money to spare – not likely, but I can dream, can’t I?

It’s lucky that I don’t have any ongoing subscriptions to sites, so I’m not gonna lose money by not visiting anything, and there’s nothing I particularly need to subscribe to anyway. My book blog (not abandoned, simply neglected) won’t be getting any attention during the writing frenzy, but neither will my Triond account – which I still haven’t written anything for due to all my running around these last few months. I guess I ought to check in on my mail every day, even if only to delete the spam…

This NaNo thing is a really good idea for people who spend too much time online.

Seriously, I can really imagine it being suggested to people who have big problems with constant web activity, and it’s benefits aren’t limited to keeping people off chatrooms and forums. There are lots of therapeutic reasons why writing for a month can be beneficial. All hail The Office Of Letters And Light, saviors of the human race. If it wasn’t for an enforced break from my usual routine I would have the urge to see what is going on around the internet…

I won’t be buying DVDs, games or books. There are some magazines I might pick up, because life without at least a few little luxuries would be intolerable. That is a lot of free time I’ll be making for myself. Other blogs are a big temptation, and I’ll do my best to steer clear of the more engrossing ones, otherwise I’ll end up spending the better part of a day engrossed in someone else’s life. Which, interesting as that may be, isn’t gonna be the most productive use of my time.

The biggest difference the lack of downtime will bring is in my ability to find weird stuff, which I seem to have a knack for. So that means I won’t be bringing you stuff like, uh… Well, this:

Disneyland Memorial OrgyMy words will have to be compelling enough on their own…

I’m getting rather nervous about this idea now.

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The Worst Films Ever Made? Not Quite…

Posted by BigWords on October 18, 2009

This morning I spent five or six hours browsing various forums in the hope that some ideas would miraculously come to me, but things have been quiet all over. Jeez, where is everyone? Some forums have become ghost towns these days, and I’m not just referring to small and underpopulated ones. In an effort to distract myself from the forthcoming apocalypse month of writing ahead of me, I decided it might be a good idea to watch a film.

There are plenty of DVDs to choose from, amongst a rapidly expanding collection of pretty much anything and everything, but I decided to stick with a couple of films I had remembered loving when I first bought them. Unfortunately I soon realized that my brain had filled in gaps and added scenes that weren’t in the films, polishing them up a bit and making them into classics of the low-budget bargain bin. Jeez, I should have known better than to trust my memories of them.

The Exterminator, a schlocky revenge movie with a very miscast Christopher George, seemed to be even cheaper than an Ass-ylum flick. I wanted to enjoy the ludicrous violence and stupid plot, but I simply couldn’t muster the energy to accept the obvious deficiencies. It was painful to watch the film, as I know that revenge movies can transcend the ghetto of low budget filmmaking. Maybe it was just because I wasn’t in the mood, maybe it was the poor transfer, but there is nothing to bring me back to the film again…

Though I kinda enjoyed Spontaneous Combustion, Tobe Hooper’s dumb pyrokinetic horror flick, I felt there was something missing. Brad Dourif, an actor who is no stranger to low budget films, is always watchable, but somehow looked like he wasn’t on top form. I’ve heard a lot of real hostility to the film expressed, and while I acknowledge that Hooper isn’t exactly the greatest director, the negativity people have for this film seems overkill. It isn’t bad. It isn’t great either, and that is the problem.

I’ve wasted most of the day on these films, and I still haven’t kicked off any ideas that might be of use for my NaNo.

Damn…

I even tried (re-)reading the awful-yet-hilarious Vittorio, yet Anne Rice’s most overblown and melodramatic novel is still to ridiculous to contemplate reading in the mood I’m in. Sixty pages is the most I have ever managed, but today I barely got past page twenty, which probably says more about my patience than it does about the book.

There isn’t even any decent television shows to keep me occupied while I try to tick away the days until I can begin to put words down for my New Idea… Though it would be kinda neat if I actually had a decent idea to go with the title of New Idea. Watching DVDs and (failing to) read books isn’t helping in the slightest, though I do have plenty of ideas as to what I’m gonna avoid like an ebola-infected chimpanzee. Today might not have been completely wasted, as there are still things to learn from bad stories.

There’s no point in playing with pseudoscience when I’m trying to make things easier on myself. Telekinesis (and the variations thereof) has a lot of problems that would need twisty-turny dialogue to explain. The revenge threads that have run through some of my previous stories is feeling rather used up, and I don’t think I have much more to say about that, so I’m now stumped as to the driving force which will propel a character (who hasn’t presented him or herself) through a world (which has yet to solidify) with some semblance of logic.

I’ll keep thinking on stories, and hopefully won’t have to resort to a collection of short stories for my NaNo.

####

If anyone is wondering what the worst film ever made is, and many people have valid suggestions as to that particular answer, I’ll give you five of what I consider the worst…

  1. Batman & Robin
  2. Transformers: Rise Of The Fallen
  3. Tank Girl
  4. Fantastic Four (Roger Corman)
  5. Howard The Duck

Feel free to argue amongst yourselves. I’m off to brainstorm…

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Building The Best Library – Cinema

Posted by BigWords on September 20, 2009

Halliwell’s has long been a sore point for me. The reviews (as they are) don’t add up to much, being so brief, and the viewpoint that all horror films are shit niggles at me. I want to respect the views, but damn… The reviewers make it so hard to take the books seriously. I have a couple of editions, yet I don’t look at them very often. They are excellent for information on pre-1930s cinema, but for modern films are less than useless.

Not much more useful, though containing far more informative reviews, is Virgin’s Film Guide. I have an old edition, yet don’t feel the urge to upgrade to a more recent version, so that says something about the amount of times I really use it. Time Out on the other hand, is one of the guides that I feel the need to keep on buying. The books have changed and evolved over the years, and it is interesting to see what gets bumped and what gets expanded upon.

Good Movie Guide by David Parkinson falls between all those big guides, but has its own niche due to the indexing throughout the main body of the text. It has driven my direction to films I would never have thought of watching, and I thank Parkinson profusely for the publication. The cover is bland and uninteresting, but the contents within are well worth trying to track this sucker down. I don’t know if many people have really paid it much attention, but I really like the book.

Roger Ebert’s Video Companion (1997 Edition) doesn’t contain many reviews, but I kept a hold of it for the honest and excitable way in which some lesser films are extolled. There are more of his reviews online now, and looking for other (newer) editions doesn’t seem worth the hassle. I like Ebert, unlike some readers who have complained about his style, but the act of reviewing takes a personal touch. I kinda miss the video era, and this is a final hurrah for the format before the digital revolution stole away my grubby pre-’84 copies of horror films.

The Film Yearbook and Film Review books from the eighties which listed every release of the year are still kicking around, though I seem to look at them less as time goes by. I’ve gone off a lot of eighties product, though looking back I realize that the Buckaroo Banzai coverage was woefully inept. How could so many people ignore an instant classic? Roger Rabbit got endless coverage in some books, and this goes some way to explaining the success of The Matrix. People like innovation.

The how, why and where is unknown, but at some point in the last couple of decades I managed to get my hands on The International Film Guide 1968 (edited by Peter Cowie) which is filled to the brim with information on obscure European short films and actors who most people would be hard pressed to name. I really like dipping into this every now and again to remind myself that there have been more films made than I have ever even heard of. It is an immensely humbling experience reading this.

Ten geek points for anyone who has heard of Jerzy Skolimowski.

Film guides might seem to dominate my cinema book collection, if you have read this far, but they go hand in hand with the film scripts I seem to collect. And novelizations. Whenever I find a film that says something interesting and has an interesting character I try to learn more about the film, hence the increasingly eccentric books as I delve deeper into the stacks of books.

The Action Movie A-Z by Marshall Julius
The DVD Stack ed. Nick Bradshaw & Tim Robey
Film Facts by Patrick Robertson
Illuminating Shadows – The Mythic Power Of Film by Geoffrey Hill
Incredibly Strange Films edited by V. Vale & Andrea Juno
National Heroes – British Cinema In The Seventies And Eighties by Alexander Walker
That’s Sexploitation! – The Forbidden World Of Adults Only Cinema ed. Muller & Faris
The Ultimate DVD Guide ed. Andy McDermott

The Rough Guide To Cult Movies covers much the same ground as Incredibly Strange Film does, but in less detail with added films. It rattles through the twentieth centuries most offbeat and obscure directors and their output, with as much love for Herschell Gordon Lewis and Fellini alike. Nobody is pushed to the sideline as the bottom of the barrel (where some glittering gems have settled) is scraped with the intention of finding gold.

The BFI book Ultimate Film is a Top 100 book I actually don’t hate so much. I know that people are getting fed up with my twenty-minute-long rant when I’m asked on my opinion of the Top 100 television shows that run every so often, but this book serves a purpose, and it is filled with info on the films covered. The BFI Film Classics series (of which I have a couple) are focused on single films, so the coverage is much more in-depth than I get elsewhere. I really like these.

The Bonnie & Clyde Book ed. Sandra Wake & Nicola Hayden is one of the few books that I bought merely upon seeing the cover. I love the silvery quality of the cover, and – despite thinking the film was a bit overcooked – I have actually found the book informative and not as slanted in viewpoint as it could have been. Blockbuster, Tom Schone’s look at the summer hits and the people who make them, is a subject I find endlessly fascinating.

I’m gonna say it again and again, because people don’t understand my reaction to the large summer films – 99.99999% of blockbusters are unmitigated, totally-irredeemable shit. This includes a lot of films I actually own on DVD, so I completely understand if people want to disagree. The braindead, simplistic, brash spectacles with little (or no) sense of logic and plot are a viable commodity in Hollywood, and at least I have one book which covers that aspect of film.

One last mention, before I wrap this up, must go to The Making Of Taxi Driver by Geofrey McNab. I know there are a dozen or more similarly-themed books on the making of the film, but this is – for me at any rate – the best of the bunch. Feel free to disagree, complain, recommend and – I know this is coming – try to get me to pick up your books because y’all are a bunch of geniuses and I’m shockingly behind the times in not acknowledging you as such…

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Got It… Got It… Got It… Need It.

Posted by BigWords on September 9, 2009

It’s probably to be expected from a book-addict, but this admission is really beyond anything I ever expected to write here. It’s fairly well known that I have a compulsive personality, so the concept of me being near shops which might – on the off chance – have books for sale is a bad one. It isn’t my fault that I have to scour the paperbacks, because it’s something I have no control over. There’s always something I don’t own, and I really ought to be looking at the important works every so often.

Only… It isn’t the classics which catch my eye. They usually have dull covers, so I’m naturally drawn to the gaudy, gauche OTT stuff which most people instinctively pass over. The latest purchases, in no particular order, are:

Batman & Robin novelization by Michael Jan Friedman
In Search Of The End Of Time by John Gribbin
Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany
Star Wars: Hard Merchandise by K.W. Jeter
Star Wars: Vision Of The Future by Timothy Zahn

And that is one day’s purchases. Not to mention DVDs and games, though those are just as addictive:

Saints & Soldiers (Ryan Little, 2004)
The Game (David Fincher, 2001)
The Punisher (Xbox)
Project Zero II: Director’s Cut (Xbox)

Does it need to be said?

“My name is Gary, and I am an addict…”

books

The thought that my library will one day grow too large to safely remain contained in a building originally designed merely for domestic purposes is worrying. There are a few tonnes of books, DVDs, CDs, games, comics and toys. There’s also a very real worry that one day the floorboards will give out under the pressure of holding all that stuff in place, and I’m gonna wake up under rubble, roof-slates and all manner of construction material.

Yet I can’t bring myself to sell anything. Not even the crap which I’ll never look at again. Even if I did start selling bits of my collection, I would only end up buying back the same things.

I’m still looking for a couple of Spider-Man paperbacks, the novelization of Mission: Impossible and a few of the earlier books by Harlan Ellison, so the mad collecting isn’t going to be curtailed at any point in the near future.

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Pacing To And Fro Doesn’t Help

Posted by BigWords on September 8, 2009

I took today off, and I guess the constant walking in the rain has had more of an effect on my immune system than I thought. My left ear is screaming out in pain with the worst earache I have had in years, and my cheek, jawbone and the side of my neck is throbbing away with sympathy pains. It feels like I’ve been punched in the side of the face, so I’m not much use at the moment for anything other than snide comments and irritable complaining.

Last night, around 11pm, I had a really dry eye, and I thought that it might be the case that I was spending too much time reading stuff online. I switched off the laptop and started reading printed material, hoping that the achey pain would go away, but it turns out that the problem wasn’t with my eye. It’s my ear… And boy, does it ever hurt. Yeesh, it’s like a slow torture. Not painful enough to be bothering the doctor with, but sore enough to make me constantly distracted.

I’ve never experienced a painful nostril before, and somehow – because the human body is connected in ways that are unimaginably complex – I now have a noseache.

This feels like I’m venting somewhat with this post, but I need to share.

So the title of the post says precisely what I was doing for most of the night. And no, it doesn’t help. Neither does painkillers, thanks to my dumb-ass body refusing to recognise whatever is tucked inside painkillers that sends masking signals to pain receptors. Taking my mind off the ache with DVDs has yet to prove effective in any regard (not that Ben 10 season 1 is exactly gonna set my world aflame) and reading is… Difficult to concentrate on.

You remember the game kids play, where they hold a seashell up to their ear so that they can hear the sea? Well, I’ve kinda got that at the moment, only it sounds more like thunder. It’s annoying and disconcerting, but I’m sure I can think of a way to use this in a story… Which is the fucked up way writers think when something happens to them, right? I’m not alone here am I? Uh, right? Jeez, I’m in agony and all I can think about is using my current condition in a novel.

Maybe I should get my head checked out, and I ain’t talking about my ear…

####

I popped a couple Nurofen 200mg caplets about an hour ago, and they seem to be working better than the mostly useless Askits. Here’s hoping that they keep working their magic.

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Insomnia

Posted by BigWords on June 14, 2009

It’s kinda fun not sleeping, because while everyone else is wasting valuable time I get to do things. For example, while the rest of the country is getting some shut-eye, I have managed to tidy up, watch three DVDs and eat cold pizza.

I called my brother up a few minutes ago to inform him that I had caved to pressure and started this nonsense up. After he finished ranting about the time, he suggested that I try to entertain people. By the time I stopped laughing, he had already hung up.

As for the DVDs:

I’ve somehow managed to miss Leon for all these years, and yet – having just watched the film – it doesn’t seem all it’s been built up to be. It isn’t a horrendously bad film, it’s just a completely forgettable experience. The kid is really annoying, way more irritating than the brat from War Of The Worlds (the Tom Cruise abomination, not the classic) and another half hour of it would have sent me to sleep if it weren’t so loud.

Transformers was worse than when I saw it at the cinema. At least I had alcohol in my system then, but watching it sober is torture on the scale of watching a politician try to answer a simple question. So robots piss on people now? How, exactly? And what is in line for the sequel? A golden shower? Two girls and a cup?

If you have to look up that reference, you’re watching the wrong films…

The only half-decent DVD I’ve bought this week (and I have bought many) was The Wild Bunch restored edit. It’s not the best Peckinpah film, but it comes close. The benefits of watching films during the night are not having to listen to pop music blaring in from outside, and listening in full surround sound knowing that everyone else is asleep. I take my fun where I can get it.

I promise not to ‘phone anyone else at night – for a couple of days at least.

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