Sunday, May 15, 2005

South Bronx Parasite

Updated post is here.

I must admit I'm addicted to the absurdist comedy of Aqua Teens Hunger Force, on the [ a d u l t s w i m] lineup on the Cartoon Network. The ATHF {adult swim hosted site} aren't teens and aren't a force dealing with any hunger but their own. As for aqua, they do hang out by their neighbor Carl's pool a lot, glomming onto his existence as an undateable dork with a Joisey accent {presskit version: "prime, grade A cut of all-American man-meat that lives next door."} Hmmm. A less-charming, less-powerful Tony Soprano? The series makes good writing, hip-hop, and takeoffs on adolescent male behavior all work. I guess it really works because of the interactions between the main characters: Frylock, Master Shake, Meatwad, and Carl. My favorite episode {"Diet" #51} was when Carl goes on the South Bronx Paradise Diet: eating whatever he wants, no exercise, and eating special $8 SBP candy bars. Carl and Meatwad wager a case of beer on who can lose the most weight. Frylock analyzes the bars and looks at the wrapper divulging the true nature of the diet, South Bronx Parasite. "Carl" wins. Well, sort of.


Shake & Meatwad encounter overly-rich media interstitial ads.


Adult Swim ATHF ad, Manhattan-Penn Station. Meatwad, Shake {with chainsaw}, and Frylock, l to r.

South Bronx Parasite


The absurdist comedy of Aqua Teens Hunger Force, on the [ a d u l t s w i m] lineup on the Cartoon Network. The ATHF aren't teens and aren't a force dealing with any hunger but their own. As for aqua, they do hang out by their neighbor Carl's pool a lot, glomming onto his existence as an undateable dork with a Joisey accent {presskit version: "prime, grade A cut of all-American man-meat that lives next door."} Hmmm. A less-charming, less-powerful Tony Soprano? The series makes good writing, hip-hop, and takeoffs on adolescent male behavior all work. I guess it really works because of the interactions between the main characters: Frylock, Master Shake, Meatwad, and Carl. My favorite episode {"Diet" #51} was when Carl goes on the South Bronx Paradise Diet: eating whatever he wants, no exercise, and eating special $8 SBP candy bars. Carl and Meatwad wager a case of beer on who can lose the most weight. Frylock analyzes the bars and looks at the wrapper divulging the true nature of the diet, South Bronx Parasite. "Carl" wins. Well, sort of.









Shake & Meatwad encounter overly-rich media interstitial ads from "Interfection."




Fleur du Mal

say something new


















A new trend is using indie music in ads. a few car companies are doing this and now the new Target ‘design for all’ ads are using a glossy version of the Concrete's ‘Say Something New’. Target is trying to out-Martha Martha, who has faded from the limelight, bringing design back into everyday life {starting w/ the Michael Graves connection}. The Concretes get their name from their native Stockholm's favorite building material. The signature artwork {below} & video for ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’ I found interesting on many levels. The band is doing a good job of "branding" themselves as "anti-rock" but not quite so sugary as twee-pop that can get pretty annoying. The video hits on an interesting trope & it's interesting how the band members are presented in the video. I love how the drummer, Lisa Milberg {far left} is addicted to eBay, as I can relate.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Chuck D...Master of the New Media???

Chuck D of Public Enemy fame is giving a talk at the Commonwealth Club (San Francisco): THE FUTURE OF THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY: ARTISTS AND THE NEW MEDIA REVOLUTION. The idea of the "liberatory" power of new media is seductive but how technologies are used and configured are often (un)happy accidents. I'm sort of curious about how the convergence of "rap/hip-hop" and the Internet will play out in the future, as both have become increasingly commercialized.

Flavorpill notes, "it was in 1999 that Public Enemy released There's a Poison Goin' On via the Internet — two years before Wilco was recognized for a similar move."

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Saabnet

In one of my classes, I brought up sponsorships of websites as an advertising tool. One that I'm quite familiar with is Saabnet's sponorship, the site being a fantastic virtual community resource for Saab owners and/or fans. This site has saved my ass many a time with tips & information...perhaps one day I'll blog on my saab smaag saga from 2004! saabs, like many quirky makes {brands} require one to have deep-pockets or be handy with tools...preferrably both. {Other quirkier makes are Peugeot, Alfa, & Citroën.} One of the site sponsors is eEuroparts.com. Their sponsorship has worked on me and they have cool diagrams so I know what the really expensive part I need to buy looks like. The sponsor also gets written into the discussion posts, but often reffered to as "site sponsor," as if part of the community mores require a certain amount of commercial detachment. As a sidenote, discussion posters have no qualms about endorsing/dissing brands of parts but seem to be more detached with the sponsor, at times. Please post comments if you noticed anything similar on other brand-fan sites. Priuschat is another virtual community that's been gaining more attention these days. Apparently, you can find out how to optimize your driving to get that 50 MpG.

slaab
1996 900s 5-door 2.3L
254k


Visualizing Data-Comsumption of Housing

I came across this thanks to danah boyd up at sims. a third party has figured out how to "jack" data and apps. from craigslist and google maps in this cool app. of his own.

About the project:

Hello, and thanks for visiting my Craigslist-GoogleMaps combo site!
I hope you enjoy it, and that it helps you find your new place to live.
I've gotten a ton of great feedback from everyone the last few days. To answer some common questions:
Satellite imagery is coming soon, along with Safari & Opera support.
Yes, more cities are on their way.
Several people have asked for the Rooms & Sublets subcategories on Craigslist, so I'll try to get those up too.
Thanks, and let me know what you think of the app! Paul
New! Austin, TX and Vancouver, B.C. are now on the map


Thursday, April 14, 2005

Playing the Ad


Static ads and parodies have already appeared in video games for years (see left-image replaced 4/4/2009). This NYT article discusses how ad placements in video games are the next big thing, with integration of ads into story and plot, just like in film. The difference is that the ads can change when gamers are connected to the Internet. Exposure is one thing and will likely positively affect brand metrics, but the real question is how can this be optimized and integrated into gameplay. Will future versions of Grand Theft Auto allow you to, say, trash a Starbucks? Of course, this will open up challenges for hackers who might want to play around with brands, such as Crack in the Box.


Thursday, February 24, 2005

Miramax AE (After Eisner)

The LA Times had (2/22) an OK article on the impending Weinstein-Disney breakup. The Weinstein brothers founded Miramax and generated several huge hits & cult faves including Clerks, sex, lies, & videotape (from the then-fledgling Steven Soderburg of Ocean's 11, Traffic, & Erin Brockovich fame), & Pulp Fiction. As an indie studio they were undercapitalized, so when Disner offered creative automony on a $12.5M budget leash, the Weinsteins jumped. This cap was lifted after The English Patient:

In the mid-1990s, when Anthony Minghella's $27-million epic, "The English Patient," exceeded the mandated cap, the Weinsteins got approval from then-Disney Studios chief Joe Roth to press ahead. After the film grossed around $80 million domestically and landed an Oscar, Disney raised Miramax's budget limit to $20 million.

On a tangent: That project, based on a 1992 bestseller, was dumped by Fox who was toying with the idea of Demi Moore as the lead actress and Danny DeVito or John Goodman as supporting actors (the name game) and was picked up by Miramax.

Since all major studios now have a "specialty film" division, competition grew fierce & Miramax had both huge hits (Chicago, Kill Bill v. 1 & 2) and financial flops (Cold Mountain, Duplex, All the Pretty Horses, Gangs of New York). The formula of leveraging creative risks and limiting financial ones is good on paper but it's not always cut-and-dried. Some say Disney dropped the ball reigning in the financial risks of some of the bigger budget flops, which isn't surprising given Disney's hit & miss record of late.

Tangent 2: Miramax sat on a marginal film, Prozac Nation (2001), for years, since it was likely to be a box-office flop, despite its relatively low $9M pricetag. Starring cult-fave Christina Ricci (below) and based on a bestselling memoir by Elizabeth Wurtzel (in my opinion, think of a whiny, untalented, and narcissistic Plath), the Skjoldbjærg (directed the original 1997 Insomnia) project was shelved and will be going on pay cable in March 2005. There were probably better ways to deal with this but fear of failure can stifle creative solutions.

I'm awaiting my copy of DisneyWars from Amazon to get more insight into the Eisner-Weinstein battles, alluded to on Charlie Rose last week.

JetBlue & Bob Hope Airport


JetBlue is looking to take over defunct Aloha's gates at Burbank (Bob Hope) in order to provide a new transcon route from the Valley, according to the LA Times. I'm looking forward to the promotional fare of $99, which will also be good for the LGB-JFK route. The regular one-way fares will range from $124 to $299, usually depending on advance booking and supply/demand. The competition may find that hard to match:

"By comparison, the one-way fare on a Delta flight for May 24 from Burbank to New York's LaGuardia Airport, with a stop in Atlanta, was $159, a check of Delta's website showed Wednesday. A United flight the same day from Burbank to LaGuardia, with a stop in Denver, was $270."

They have a favorable cost structure (non-union & newer AirBus fleet), cult-like loyalty, & great customer service (2004), although they still have worries as the airline industry is a tough one. I'm a big fan of JetBlue, as I get my TV fix (I found I miss DirecTV on my last Alaska Air flight), on my trips between LGB-OAK or JFK. A friend of mine has family that really likes the Burlington (VT)-JFK service. They have a "virtual" views (QuickTime) of interiors & exteriors, but don't allow you to make the plane nosedive on the exterior view.

Now, as sidenote, I just wonder how many more airports will be named after iconic B-movie actors. Ronald Reagan, Bob Hope, John Wayne...What will the future have in store? I'm holding out for Keanu Reeves International Skyport, personally.

image::  Morro Bay aerial shot from FLT 247 OAK-LGB.  

Thursday, February 17, 2005

under the milky way tonight


Last autumn, the writer/director of Donnie Darko (Richard Kelly) got Newmarket to re-release his cult fave Donnie Darko. (Salon article/interview). Word around town was that he was having a tough time getting another deal for a new picture, so he wanted to generate buzz through a re-release of a film that suffered poor box office since it was a strange film with plane parts falling from the sky right after 9-11. It cost $4.5M but only brought in $517K in 2001. The re-release brought in over $700K and globally it has brought in $4.1M. After DVD sales are factored in, it just might make money but more importantly for Kelly, it might get him another project greenlighted. Getting the Gyllenhaals (albeit in 2001 before they had a name), Barrymore, Wyle, & Swayze all to work on a low budget film is impressive.

I thought it was an interesting film (script & visually) & can see how it became a cult movie, given the cast & script. The music, including the Church's "Under the Milky Way," did a good job of temporally setting the movie without having lyrics serve as narrative.

Run Lola Run-Oakland Version

Day: Monday in February 2005
Time: 10:53am
Oakland-Long Beach flight: 12:15pm
Location: Grand Lake/Piedmont
Boarding Pass: Printed

25 minute walk to Macarthur BART
Must get there by 11:09am for a Richmond-Fremont train
Does that happen?
No.
Time: 11:15
Next Fremont train to airport at 11:32am
Tick-tock, tick-tock.
Cab? That would admit defeat!
No, must get to West Oakland station-betting on either SF-Fremont or SF-Pleasanton train to Oakland Airport.
Time: 11:17 am San Francisco Train
Time: 11:20am West Oakland station-cross platforms
Time: 11:29am Fremont train
Time: 11:45am Coliseum (Airport station)
Are we there yet?
No. Need 12 minute AirBART shuttle to airport.
Is a shuttle at the station or do I have to wait 15 minutes?
At the station-whew.
Crisp bills for $2 AirBart fare?
Yes...for a change.
Call Jet Blue?
No, crappy reception all morning on crappy Samsung phone.
Time: 11:48am, mental note one: get new cell phone. Mental note two: admit defeat more often & take a cab.
Time: 11:50am, thought to self, "hey driver, that light doesn't get any greener, let's go?"
Time: 12:01pm, Terminal One, Jet Blue, Oakland Airport.
How long to get through the sigmoidscope known as Oakland Airport security?
Time: 12:o2-no line at security--for a change.
Laptop-out of case in separate tray
Cell, wallet, keys, belt, & shoes...in the bins.
Note to reader: fancy art-store Xacto got though in laptop case.
Note to self: Take that OUT.
Off to Gate 9.
12:04pm: Jet Blue employee, "This isn't you...this is going to Long Beach." "I'm on this." JBE: "Go, go, go."
Seat 6C, aisle. Made it.
12:10pm: door closes.
12:17pm: take-off.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Film Exhibitors


I'm back to sorting out film industry economics for a whitepaper (among several) I'm working on for consulting. I was sifting through documents on distribution and started thinking about the exhibition market. In LA, it seems dominated by Edwards and indie houses seem to be at risk left and right. I'm sort of at a loss why the Fox needs to be saved while the Art can stay open, as well as venues up north like the Albany, Grand Lake, and Sequoia. It's an interesting "retail" question of localized draw, experiential dimensions, and industrial organization, with the consumer implication of what is screened (i.e., only fat margin films) and even community character (whatever that ill-defined term means). Will technology kill the art-house indie theatre, making it woefully cost-ineffective? On the other hand, will technology rationalize film distribution, allowing for more "product" in the channel through various modes (Internet, cinema, PPV, etc.) by lowering costs and risks? Does the big-screen 'film experience' matter, beyond the super SFX blockbusters? 
Above: interior-Grand Lake, Cinematreasures.org.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Guest Blogger Chad Vickers: (Mostly) Hong Kong Cinema

This is a genre I know little about, besides what I read in the papers or on NPR. Guest blog entry by Chad (AKA Turbo):


I made a list of movies that I broke down by actors and directors, but when I got to the martial art (MA) category there is too many films that I would consider really great, and since the MA film is kind of the cornerstone of Asian Cinema (i.e., especially Hong Kong) I figure I'll start there. Unfortunately, there is no way for me to put all the films I've seen into a top ten list. So I will separate two different list the new school (1985 and above) this has faster editing, more camera tricks, and so on. I will list Old School (1969-84). Old school stuff I have come to regard as the finest of all MA film making, the fights are longer, less edited, and more fluid.



Some consider old school stuff too slow, but I find that with less editing, the fight choreoghraphy is much more dynamic. Keep in mind these list are in no particular order, and are based solely on MA content and not on story, as most of the stories in these films are pretty weak.

Old School:

8 Diagram Pole Fighter

Heroes of the East


36th. Chamber of Shaolin

Odd Couple

7 Grandmasters

Mad Monkey Kung Fu


Invincible Shaolin

5 Fighters from Shaolin

Shaolin Temple 1, 2 ,and 3 (Jet Li)

The Master AKA 3 Evil Masters

The Hot the Cool and The Vicious

Snake and Crane Arts of Shaolin


The Return of the 5 Deadly Venoms

Drunken Master


Snake in the Eagles' Shadow

Duel to the Death

Magnificent Butchers

Iron-Fisted Monk

The Victim
(Sammo Hung)

Executioners of Death

Ninja Hunter


Chinese Super Ninjas

Mystery of Chess Boxing


Shaolin Mantis

Return of the One-Armed Swordsman

Drunken Tai Chi

My Young Auntie

Ninja the Final Duel

Born Invincible

Shaolin vs. Lama




Photo::  Chad Vickers (2003), getting married & sporting a Tom Sizemore look.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

House, MD

We'll see if this Fox show makes it. Although I'm not as curmudgeonly as the hobbling Dr. House (Hugh Laurie), I do appreciate his trenchant approach as a diagnostician. If you can get past the gimmick of a guru MD figuring out how to treat odd cases of patients with strange symptoms, the show is entertaining. It's too bad that most times when treating "ailing" firms/organizations, consultants rarely get the latitude that physicians get. I don't buy any arguments that one is less important than the other...it's just different work.





Sunday, January 02, 2005

Top 5 films of 2004

Only 5 since I didn't screen that many this year & the order isn't that important. Most are non-mainstream, as other lists capture that pulse. #1 & #4 are nods to surreal storylines. #2 & #3 made me give a damn about vacant/hard to relate to characters. #5 is excellent filmmaking telling an interesting story about art [film], culture, & family without getting preachy or gimmickly sentimental.



  1. I 'Heart' Huckabees
  2. Barbarian Invasion/Les Invasions Barbares (Canada-Quebéc)
  3. Garden State
  4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  5. How to Get the Man's Foot Outta Your Ass

Others I have enjoyed: Good Bye, Lenin! [Germany], Before Sunset, Anchorman, & Saved! Probable likes that I have yet to screen: The Life Aquatic, Zatoichi, & Bad Education. I want my money back: Vera Drake, Alfie, The House of Sand & Fog, 50 First Dates, The Day After Tomorrow. The unknowns (until DVD/cable): Napoleon Dynamite, Ying Xiong [Hero], Kill Bill Vol. 2, Open Water, & Team America.



Music & the Ad, Promo., Soundtrack

Long, rambling post...The postmodernists often cite the use of decontextualized snippets of art/film/music as examples of a new era in history where nothing is "real," all is subjective, meanings are untethered, etc.   Anyway. I was screening So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993), which featured the La_s There She Goes [mp3]. The use was in reference to the Nancy Travis character, Harriet, not heroin. Of course, this made me think of how the squeaky-clean spiritual/Christian Sixpence None the Richer covered this song and how it's now used on OrthoTricyclen commercials. Rather than equate all of this to a new social era, I think that people often tend not to "read" too deeply into the meanings of things. I think that's a more interesting question but it's probably just due to the fact that people just like a tune and don't want to overanalyze their entertainment. At any rate, the "odd" use of pop songs in ads isn't new. Microsoft paid a hefty sum ($10M) to use the Rolling Stone's Start Me Up for the Win'95 launch, but omitting the lyric, "Don't make a grown man cry."



At the time, I thought Apple should have countered with 19th. Nervous Breakdown: (Last.fm link added 4/4/09)

You’re the kind of person You meet at certain dismal dull affairs.

Center of a crowd, talking much too loud 

Running up and down the stairs. 

Well, it seems to me that you have seen too much in too few years.

And though you’ve tried you just can’t hide

Your eyes are edged with tears.

You better stop

Look around

Here it comes, here it comes, here it comes, here it comes

Here comes your nine-teenth nervous breakdown.


It's only a matter of time before Third Eye Blind's sex and meth-laden ditty is used as a catchy jingle on prime time.  {Last.fm link (4/4/09)}