Monday, October 26, 2009

Spam Spam Spam

Orange - my ISP - has a very variable set of spam filters. Sometimes I get lots of spam, other times I get lots of spam helpfully marked ***SPAM***, other other times (but rarely) the filters actually seem to be working and I get no spam at all. At these times, as I hardly get any mail from anyone who isn't a robot, I think the internet is broken.

Recently I have been getting a lot of ***SPAM*** from 'Russian Dating Agencies'. I haven't opened any but I find it odd that Russians need dating. Every time I get one of these I have visions of an Antiques Roadshow type event where experts sit at tables as a stream of hapless hopefuls present them with Hairy Russian Peasants wrapped in old newspapers:

Interesting ... what we have here is a Sergei from the middle of the thirties. Nicely put together, a typically intricate design - a little worn on the corners here and there but nothing too excessive. I don't know if you have ever noticed, but if you put your finger here and push ... see, a hidden compartment.... Have you ever had him valued...?


Alternatively, if you can't get to an Antiques Roadshow type event where experts sit at tables, it is, apparently, quite simple to saw them in half and count the rings - though this does knock down the value considerably.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

As promised a few days back, here is another of Lidl's wonderfully strange cereal pockets.


I have no idea what this animal is supposed to be, is it a mongoose? a meerkat? a skinny red panda? Whatever it is supposed to be I have no idea why it appears so ecstatically eager to see a jugful of brilliant white emulsion paint being poured into a bowl of PseudoShreddies - and why is it wearing tartan braces? I mean this is one seriously deranged ferret here. I mean look at those rings around his eyes; this thing hasn't slept in a week. It doesn't need breakfast, it needs to go to bed! That or it thinks the white stuff being poured into the bowl is even more of the Columbian marching powder it's been stuffing up its nose for the past five days.

Why the tartan braces? Maybe it's the fifth (or probably sixth - I forget) Bay City Roller! Stig , the drummer they sacked in Hamburg. A cokehead psychotic Scottish mongoose reduced to posing for knock-off cereal packet covers. Why? Why would any product designer (even a German one) think this thing would sell breakfast foods to kids?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I have two young daughters and I am far more familiar with the 'Disney Princesses' than any middle-aged man has any right to be. When I'm trapped into reading one of their asinine, anodyne, doe-eyed 'adventures' for one of my little darlings, the only thing that keeps me from throwing up is wondering how Aurora (That's the one on the left in pink) ended up wearing a chunk of Swiss cheese on her head.

The other princess huddle upwind of
Aurora's interestingly different headgear


Suggestions as to why Sleeping Beauty is wearing a slice of Emmentaler Cheese on her noggin, on a postcard please, to the usual address.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Annoying Cuteness of my Kids - No. 137

The other day Merriol and I were sat down in the living room by the girls and instructed to put some "forest music" in the CD player - not knowing what "forest music" might be I shoved in Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite. They didn't tell me to take it off, so I guess it was all right. The Girls then performed a play for us about a little boy (played by Holly) lost in a dark and spooky forest being befriended by a kind old man (Daisy with a painted on beard).

The highlight of the show for me was the moment when, reacting to the bit where In the Hall of the Mountain King suddenly gets louder, Holly cried out:

"What was that!?"

Daisy rushed to the 'window' of the Old Man's cottage:

"Oh! It's a herd of squirrels playing trombones!"

That's another piece of classical music I will never be able to listen to again without an image arriving fully formed in my head. Just like I can't hear Ride of the Valkyries without thinking of helicopters, The William Tell Overture without having the Lone Ranger gallop across my mind, or Carl Orff's O Fortuna without thinking of Old Spice wearing surfers, I will now never be able to listen to In The Hall of the Mountain King without a herd of trombone playing squirrels stomping into view.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Another Public Service Posting


I shop at Lidl's.

I'm not ashamed to admit it. Lidl's is cheap, doesn't play annoying musak at you while you shop and usually has the same things in the same places on the shelves most of the year round. They also have the best selection of fruit and veg in Fort William - which is a sad reflection on the Town which has spent years re-branding itself as the Outdoor Capital of the UK and succeeded to the point where the High Street has more winter sport clothing and mountaineering gear shops than most large cities.

There is precious little reason for any local to go down the High Street these days. 90% of the shops are either clothing shops of one kind or another (mostly Gortex stuff and hiking gear) charity shops, or pubs. It's insane that a town with a resident population of 10,000* has only two places to buy fruit and veg. Lidl's and Morrison's. Morrison's are crap. I have no idea what they do to their produce to make it rot so fast - sometimes fruit that looks perfectly good in the shop will have reduced itself to pulpy brown sludge by the time it's put in the fruit bowl a couple of hours later - and they vastly over package stuff. Shrink wrapped coconuts, that sort of thing. So that leaves Lidl. Which are not only cheaper but have real fruit and veg that hasn't been trimmed and wrapped in packs of six and quadrupled in price in the process. Sweetcorn 15p a cob, loose in a box, take as many as you want and if you want a bag go get one yourself. That sort of thing.


Right, rant over. To business.

Lidl also have some terrible package design. Just about everything in the shop is an 'own brand'. To disguise this fact and make the shoppers of Europe feel like they are browsing the shelves of a real shop with customer choice, teams of (presumably German) graphic designers have been beavering away for years making up faux brands to shove on the shelves of Lidls all over the continent.

Recently however they have either got themselves a new set of graphic designers, or started paying the the old ones more, because there seems to be a rolling design change affecting the store. All the labels are slowly being redone and improved. A lot of the old designs were great bits of Bad Art and need preserving before they are lost forever. Here are a couple of my favourites.


At first glance this carton of grape juice looks okay but after a few seconds it become apparent that the nice plump juicy grapes on the front are really clones. Look at the redder looking grape just under the Solvita logo, and then look at the grape lower down the carton next to the leaf on the left hand side. Same grape. Back to the top of the carton. See the two grapes to the right of the logo ... or the two to the left of the original one I pointed you at?
Lidl's graphic designers were working on such a tight budget they couldn't even afford a whole bunch of grapes to photograph!
"Helmut! What are you doing! Are you trying to ruin us! Take twelve of of them back and get a refund! We will Photoshop them. No one will notice ... "


Nothing too spectacularly dreadful here, no crappy Photoshoppery - apart from a bit of odd motion blur on the flying popcorn on the left - (presumably popcorn was cheaper than grapes) but it's the pseudo brand name that I find fascinating here. Charged with coming up with something quintessentially American, our crack team of Grafik-Designers came up with red, white and blue, stars and stripes, and the Statue of Liberty - three stripes and 171 stars, but who's counting?**. They also needed a name that would personify the USA - and thus was 'Mcennedy - American Way' born! 'Mcennedy'. It almost sounds right but isn't. It's like 'Kennedy' but ... isn't. It's just ... just ... wrong.

The Mcennedy 'brand' is stuck on anything vaguely non-ethnic 'American' in Lidl. To make it interesting sometimes the Statue of Liberty is holding her torch in her right hand (as above) and sometimes in her left ...


... forcing her to do a really weird back handed grip and probably dislocating her shoulder in the process. Poor old girl.

The breakfast cereals are a special treat though. Lidl's cereals - or at least the one we buy - are copycat clones of more famous and more expensive brands. This is the packaging for their version of Rice Crispies:


A bowl of motion-blurred, popping Rice Crispoids floating in that odd, super-white, non-wetting emulsion paint-like milk that only appears on the front of cereal packets, surrounded by a couple of weird Manga Lite Yoofyies doing 'hip' weird Manga Liteish things - like wearing gloves with only two fingers. I have stared at those gloves for years trying to work out why anyone, apart from an underpaid (possibly drunk) Grafiker who had once seen the back (or possibly front) cover of a Tokyo Mew Mew book, would think this could have been in any way, shape, or form, ever in the history of anything - 'cool'. Because that's what I think it's supposed to be. Cool.

"Hey mum look at the girl with the cool gloves on that cereal packet! "Can we have a packet of them, Mum can we, can we?"
These gloves have replaced The Flock of Seagulls haircut as the single most misguided attempt at 'coolness' in the history of Western culture.

Hmmmm, nice gloves ...


I'm going shopping in Lidl tomorrow so, unless they have replaced them already, keep your eyes on this space for the psychotic Scottish mongooses that appear on another of our regular purchases.






* It was 9,900 at the 2001 census - and god knows what the number gets up to at the hight of the summer tourist season but I would guess the population of the area will possibly double.

** Apart from me obviously.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

My kids talk. A lot. All the time in fact. Sometimes, as living proof of the validity of the Infinite Monkey Theorem, they say things which are variously scarily weird, funny, or just plain daft. Sometimes Merriol and I (but mostly Merriol) think to jot down the little darlings' pearls of surreal wisdom.


Daisy explains opera:
Daisy: "Opera just goes on and on until they get tired."

Holly: "No, Daisy, it's when they get sore throats."
Sometimes it's best not to ask:
"Mum! I need a hat and two chopsticks for something - an experiment."
Daisy sings a lot too:
Song: "My Love was in my heart - but then it walked away ... "
We have a lot of imaginary friends living in our house, each racks up dozens of birthdays a year. For some reason we are expected to do the catering:
"It's Tina's birthday party today and she wants ten thousand ... er ... ten thousand and ten ... er ... a hundred and ten ... a hundred and one. A hundred and one! That's how many sweets she wants and I can't count to a hundred and one -> sigh <- unless I start at a hundred. A hundred, a hundred and one, a hundred and two ... "
Holly and Daisy are in the middle of a game. Holly is pretending to be on the phone:
"What! Oh No! Okay, I'll tell her to be calm about it. Daisy? That was the doctor on the phone. He's coming round to take your leg off and and put another one in its place ... an artificial one."
Another Daisy song:
"Flying in the sunshine - woah! Who unplugged my plane stuck in the mud?"
Holly explains biology:
"The two boys and the girl (Smurfs) got married. So they are going to have lots of babies, eh? Two sperms!!"
Holly does religion:
"I prayed to G - O - D today to make midges vegitarians - they really annoy me."
Definitely don't ask:
"Mummy, can I get a calculator, and a laundry basket with holes in it? ... what? ... I NEED them!!"
Daisy told me she and her friends spent their break-times at school playing 'Supernoodle'. Like an idiot I asked what the rules were:
"The rules of Supernoodle are: you run around with a metal spoon with a plastic handle and you just run around like a loonican and shout "SUPERNOODLE"! That's all."
Holly (7) explaining Robin Hood to Eben (6 Months):
"Robin Hood gives to the poor; but if the poor have all the money he gives it to the rich."
I woke up this morning to this one. The kids are on the landing outside our bedroom watching early morning cartoons and getting incensed by the adverts for laser eye surgery:
Holly: "Three hundred and ninety nine pounds PER EYE! - That's more than a thousand pounds!"

Daisy: "I know."

She's right, they don't:
"Daisy, Dead Sea cucumbers don't fly."

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Here's One I Made Earlier - As Well


The new cover for the case.

All I have to do now is stick a bookplate inside it.

And Here is One I Made Earlier ...

I love my Sony Reader Touch (PRS-600), I do - I just wish it was a bit more like a book. It feels weirdly wrong reading something that you hold like a slice of toast that you are about to spread with jam.

What it needs is a front cover. You can buy cases for them which make them look more like a book, and have the added advantage of protecting the screen. Unfortunately they cost about £35 each - which I haven't got at the moment. Fortunately the Sony Reader Touch (PRS-600) turns out to be just a wee bit smaller in every direction than the inside of the average DVD case ...

... I've got a lot of them.

So this is what I spent this morning doing:

Materials: 2 DVD cases, black elastic, double sided tape, gaffer tape (duct tape).
Tools: Stanley knife, hand drill - 4mm & 2.5mm bits, needle & thread.


First catch your DVD cases. Find 2 DVD cases that have this kind leaflet holder clip inside the front cover; the ones without holes behind them. Most DVD cases seem to have holes and it took me about three minutes and twenty five DVDs before I realised that I didn't have to open the case and look inside it to find out what kind of case it was. Poking the front in the relevant place and seeing if there was any give behind the paper insert was a lot quicker.




Open the case, remove the DVD, replace the paper insert with a big bit of scrap paper. This is to stop the transparent outer sleeve from getting wrecked so wrap in right round and tape it in place. Snap or cut off the leaflet holder clips. Cut out the bit that holds the DVD in place. I slid a piece of thin aluminium between the case and the the transparent outer sleeve to stop me slicing into the outer sleeve and the family heirloom table I had decided to do this job on .



Mark where to drill all the interesting holes.



Use hi-tech 4mm hole boring device to make 4mm holes through the case into the piece of scrap wood that has replaced the piece of aluminium.



Drill More holes, this time 2.5mm in diameter, into the top and bottom of the outer edge (not the hinge side) of the back.



So they look like this:



Use a knife and/or needle files to turn these sets of holes into slots then thread some black elastic from the inside of the case, thread it behind, but NOT between the case and the transparent sleeve, it wants to go outside - and back in through the other slot. Pull tight then sew the ends together. This piece of elastic will snap round to the front and hold the case together.

Then, starting at one of the holes near the hinge side, thread more elastic in and out through all the 4mm holes. The photo I took of this looked really crappy - black on black, not good. Make sure the elastic doesn't get twisted, pull it tight, then overlap the ends and sew them together.



Cut the front off another DVD case and trim to 125mm x 185mm and stick strips of double sided tape top and bottom. This is going to fill the huge round hole in the back of the case.



Slide the back in between the transparent outer sleeve and the case and press in place. Doesn't matter if any tape is showing inside the case as the next thing to do is stick a strip of gaffer tape (duct tape) on the inside.



After that it's just a matter of slipping the reader into place ...



... and print off a fake cover of some terribly intellectual and weighty book to disguise the fact you are really reading Dan Brown or Clive Cussler.

Which will have to wait till tomorrow, because it's now stupidly late and I have to be up early in the morning getting the kids off to school - oh what fun we have.



Thursday, October 01, 2009

Bad Acting 101

Lesson 27.

Dear JunkMonkey Institute for Bad Acting, I'm standing in a crappy flat set wearing a green SpaceBimbo mini-dress, surrounded by people wearing costumes left over from Forbidden Planet, and I'm wanting to upstage Zsa-Zsa Gabor. How do I do this?

Well, Lisa Davis, this one's easy. All you have to do is make sure you turn to look at someone who isn't speaking yet - anticipate her only line in the scene by a good six seconds. This will cause the actor standing behind you to turn as well when he thinks he's missed a cue. You can improvise after that. If you are good no one will notice what the other actors are saying at all.


video
Queen of Outer Space (1958)

Every Movie I have watched in September
  1. Gattaca (1997) - a decent bit of SF that eschews the usual running, shooting, and SFX and delivers an intelligent plot with some logically consistent twists. There are a couple of minor quibbles I have with it (why anyone would build a walk in incinerator you can switch on from the inside is a bit of a puzzle) but on the whole a pretty good effort.

  2. The Princess Bride - Friday night with the kids - and I wish I was still doing the Three Degrees of Kevin Bacon thing because the link between these two would have been so easy. How many movies are there that have six fingered characters in them?

  3. Alien Nation - formulaic mismatched buddy cop movie with a twist. One of them is an alien. Not badly done to start with but I started to loose it when our nasty villains throw one of the Aliens in the sea and he dies a horrible painful death. "Sea water's like battery acid to them!" I can't even start to work out the body chemistry of the aliens which allows them to get high on sour milk (pH of 4.4 - mild acid) but dissolve in sea water (pH 8 - slightly basic). Another oddity was the villain... and to explain the oddity you need to know the back story to the movie. Over to you Mr Wikipedia:
    "The movie is set in 1991, three years after a flying saucer bearing enslaved aliens (the "Newcomers") has crash-landed in the Mojave Desert. Los Angeles becomes a new home for the aliens, who take, or in some cases are assigned, sometimes comical human names (such as "Rudyard Kipling"). Now back to the JunkMonkey in the studio..."
    Thank you, Mr W. So. Quarter of a million aliens are processed through immigration and learn English with remarkable speed - the alien half of our hero partners (a demihero?) tells the human half he learned English in three months - they landed in America, they live in America. They have assimilated to American culture incredibly well in three years. Why then is the bad guy alien the only person in the whole movie who doesn't have an American accent - in fact he has a British accent? Answer: Because he is played by Terrence Stamp. And he's the villain. To the collective chicken brain that was running Hollywood at the time, all villains had British accents. Even ones that were supposed to be from a different species and have travelled untold light years to get here!

    I was just about to abandon Alien Nation when it abandoned me. Somehow I had managed to screw up the timing on the VCR and the tape ran out. The only reason it's in this list and not the 'Films I have abandoned for containing to much of the wrong kind of awful:' list is because the alien demi-hero was played by Mandy Patinkin who was in this evening's other movie, The Princess Bride. Serious Kevin Baconage going on here, and too much of coincidence to resist.

  4. Futuresport ( 1998 ) - In the future the biggest sport in the world will be Futuresport! A sport so futuristic it is played while wearing bicycle helmets! It's that futuristic. Wow! And the point of Futuresport will be to throw a small ball into a hole while people try to hit you with sticks - wait! no! The point of Futuresport will be to make Rollerball look good. No! wait... I've got it now, the point of Futuresport is that the world's best Futuresoprt player will solve the world's problems by challenging the evil Pan-Asian (non American) Conglomerate to a winner-take-all game - where the winner takes control of the disputed Hawaiian islands and millions of people won't have to die in a war! Hurrah for sport! Hurrah for Futuresport! We know the Pan-Asian (non American) Conglomerate is evil because they pay their hired goons in Euros! and have people with beards and English accents, and, even worse, Australians with visible metal plates in their heads working for them and - even even worse - they cheat! Boo! Hiss! But the good guys have an ace up their sleeve - Wesley Snipes in a Predator wig and a Jamaican accent! He knows how to cheat even better than the cheating foreign bastards because he invented Futuresport! Hurrah! - It's not about 'playing the game' apparently.

    When the best thing about a movie is Wesley Snipes taking off a pair of sunglasses (and accidentally looking like Whoopie Goldberg) you know you're in trouble. Total. Fucking. Crap.

    I'm tempted to go to Morrisons and ask for my quid back.

  5. Batman (1966) - I pulled rank on FridayNightisPizzaandMovieNight and made the kids watch it. Holly loved it. I win!

  6. Leolo (1992) - my habit of buying any VHS on the Tartan or Artificial Eye label that I come across pays off again. Leolo is a 1992 French Canadian movie that might have won the Palme d'Or if the director hadn't told one of the judges (Jamie Lee Curtis) that he wouldn't mind fucking her like the little boy in the movies fucks a pig's liver. I really don't know whether I really liked it or hated it. I laughed, I was repulsed, I was captivated by its beauty, and bored by its selfindulgence. A piece of Art, or a piece of Crap? Will I ever watch it again? I really don't know. I do know I won't forget it in a hurry.

  7. Dark City ( 1998 ) - Which looked even better on a second viewing (only partially because it was on DVD this time and not crappy old VHS). Annoyingly the DVD didn't have an option to avoid the opening narration - added at the chicken brain studio's insistence - which gives away 99% of the story before you get to the opening credits. So here is my usual Dark City caveat: If you have never seen it before, and you don't have the Director's Cut version which omits the narration, keep the sound muted until the opening credits. A crackingly good SF movie.

  8. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006) - Will Ferrell - Comedy genius or not? Still haven't made my mind up. I do know though that Gary Cole is turning into one of my all time favourite character actors.

  9. The Card - Charming gentle little British comedy, based on an Arnold Bennet novel, which I dearly love.

  10. Time of the Apes (MST3K) - one of those dreadful Japanese Kids TV shows edited together by Sandy Franks to look like a movie. This time a blatant rip off of The Planet of The Apes with obligatory annoying Japanese child in shorts and lots of pointless running around and pointing. Fever-dream stuff.

  11. Tron - Again. For the umpteenth time. This time as a special birthday treat. Mrs JM booked the High School's auditorium and I get to watch it on the biggish screen with friends and relations - some of whom have never seen it before (and are bemused). I like Tron. It's a fascinating film. The story is pretty rubbish very simple (verging on the simplistic); it lends itself (if you could be bothered) to any number of interpretations: it's an allegory about belief systems, global capitalism, a reworking of the Frankenstein story with the creation becoming the master, a darn good chase movie etc... take your pick. The acting and direction are nothing much to get excited about , they're competent and serviceable - but the look of the thing, the style. I love it - mostly, as I have said before - and several times today to whoever would listen - it is because it was never copied.
    The Star Wars style was ripped off, copied, duplicated, and watered down by other jump-on-the-bandwagon film makers, and so merchandised to death at the time, and since, by George Lucas that the freshness, novelty, and sheer fun of the first film is unrecognisable now. It's been buried under millions of tons of over-priced cheap toys, tatty imitations, and huge bloated pre/sequels.
    Tron never suffered that fate. No other movies co-opted the Tron style. It is one of a kind. This is not to say the movie has not been influential; no one can read any cyberpunk without seeing that, but in movie terms Tron is a unique stylistic treat.
    It was sold at the time as being a major innovation, the first time computer graphics had been used in such a massive scale in a movie and some of the graphics are still amazing. But what struck me watching it today was that so much of the movie was made with traditional animation techniques - people at easels with paper ink and airbrush. In 1982 it was still easier faster (and therefore cheaper) to paint backgrounds by hand to look like computer images than it was to make the computer images themselves. Things that I can do on the desktop computer with Photoshop in minutes were beyond their budget. The actors were Rotoscoped into the backgrounds by hand - a phenomenal amount of man hours - according to Wikipedia 500 people worked on post production including 200 inkers and hand-painters employed in Taiwan. There is a sequel in the pipeline. I'm not looking forward to it. Computer animation has become so commonplace that whatever they do it is going to look like just another movie.
    Though, if they get a decent story this time....

  12. The Dish - It's the first moon landing. Neil Armstrong is about to set foot on the moon and it's windy in Australia - and that is about as exciting as this movie gets but jeso this is a great movie. I was in tears at the end of it. I was watching people sat watching a historical event on the telly and I had tears streaming down my face. I have no idea how or why this film works but it does. I think a lot of it has to do with the sound. The sound is wonderful, sometimes you are simultaneously listening to two or three things - in addition to the general background atmos: overlapping dialogue, archive news coverage, music and each layer of sound is telling you things and feeding you the story. It's wonderfully rich. And very funny.

  13. Stranded in Space (1972) MST3K - very not good TV movie pilot, for a never to be made series, in which an astronaut finds himself trapped on Earth's evil twin. Having a planet of identical size and mass orbiting in the same plane as the earth, but on the opposite side of the sun, is a well worn SF chestnut - the idea is over 2,000 years old, having been invented by the Ancient Greeks. In this version the Counter World is run as an Orwellian 'perfect' society. Where for totally inexplicable reasons everyone speaks English and drives late model American cars. After escaping from his prison-like hospital, the disruptive Earthian is chased around Not Southern California by TV and bad movie stalwart Cameron Mitchell who, like his minions, wears double breasted suits and black polo neck jumpers - a stylishly evil combination which I fully intend to adopt if ever I become a totalitarian overlord. Our hero escapes their clutches several times before ending up gazing at the alien world's three moons and wondering aloud if he will ever get home - thus setting up one of those Man Alone in a Hostile World Making a New Friend Each Week but Moving on at the End of Every Episode shows so beloved of the industry in the 70s and 80s (The Fugitive, The Incredible Hulk, The Littlest Hobo etc.). The curiously weirdest bit was the title sequence. Somewhere between Stranded in Space first airing (under the title The Stranger) in 1972 and the MST3K version in 1991 it had somehow acquired footage from the 1983 movie Prisoners of the Lost Universe. So in 1991 the opening credits for 'Stranded in Space' ran under a few shots of three people falling into a matter transmitter and vanishing. It's a sequence that has nothing to do - even thematically - with anything that is going to follow. Just to add to the nerdy B movie confusion, one of the actors in this randomly nailed on footage is Kay Lenz who later appeared in a 1994 movie called Trapped in Space. Knowing this fact could never save your life, but it might score you very big points and admiring looks from fellow trash movie enthusiasts - if you could ever work out a way of manoeuvring the conversation round to the point where you could casually slip it in without looking like a total wanker...

    As an example of the shoddiness of the show: play was made of the fact that on this counter clockwise Counter Earth most of the people were Left Handed! (How scary weird and evil is that!) But quite why an alien planet full of left handed people wrote (in English) from left to right, instead of right to left which they would have found a lot easier to do, is never explained.

  14. Earth Vs The Spider ( 1958 ) MST3K - one of those Cold War paranoia movies that isn't anything to do with the Cold War - or paranoia. Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Thing, Invaders from Mars and even I Married a Monster from Outer Space can be seen to be reflecting the mood and preoccupations of America in the late fifties early sixties - the fear of Atomic War, and the overwhelming conviction that there was a Commie spy under every bed. Earth Vs The Spider has nothing to do with any of that. Like most of Bert I Gordon's movies it's about jumping on the bandwagon and making money quickly by showing people running away screaming from something very big before the hero manages to electrocute it in the final reel. This one is shoddier than most of Gordon's Giant Things Chasing People movies and even manages to namecheck a couple of his other works - The Amazing Colossal Man and The Attack of the Puppet People - by having one of his characters work in a cinema which, by some amazing coincidence, only seems to show Bert I Gordon movies. When Preston Sturges managed to sneak in a poster for one of his other films at the end of Hail the Conquering Hero it was knowing and funny - here it was just pathetic and cheap. But then the whole of Earth Vs The Spider is pathetic and cheap - for 'Earth' read a small Californian town for 'Spider' read - well a spider, some hapless hairy spider shot in close up and superimposed on streets and roads as the script required. This movie contains some dreadful dreadful matte (or forced perspective) work as various characters wander round a darkened studio with decoupaged pictures of caves cut from the National Geographic Magazine held up in front of the camera for them to walk past. 5.6 on the Dreadfulometer. Extra points for having a 35 year old man with a receding hairline playing a teenager.

  15. My Fair Lady - Holly's love of Hollywood musicals surfaces again. But I had forgotten it was almost three hours long! God there's a lot of songs in it. I was still awake enough at the end of it to spot a hitherto unreported (on IMDb at least) continuity error - In the final scene when Henry Higgins sits on the chair as he listens to her voice on the phonograph, Eliza's shadow can be clearly seen on the carpet behind him, to his left (screen right). In the next shot she is shown entering the room. Hurray for me! ( I know.... ) Four days later Holly interrupts us long-windedly asking her about something (but without giving her the chance to answer) by declaiming, like Mr Dolittle in the film: "I'm willing to tell you. I'm wanting to tell you! I'm waiting to tell you!"

  16. Anchorman - Okay, that's me Will Ferrelled for the next few years. I think I just reached saturation point.

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