Saturday, October 28, 2006

YouTube Yanks Comedy Central Clips

It really isn't a surprise to me that video clips are being yanked off YouTube within days of their purchase by Google. One can imagine Google's attorneys wailing and warning about copyright lawsuits -- something I'm sure they did before the purchase. And I imagine the meetings ended with "we'll deal with that AFTER we buy them."

Via Digg today, reports claim YouTube is yanking clips from Comedy Central's "The Daily Show", The Colbert Report" and "South Park."

I did a bit of checking today and found that many older clips are currently available, but many recent clips are now gone. Given that thousands and thousands of clips are available, it may take them some time to remove them all.

Lawyers cited the dreaded Digital Millenium Copyright Act as justification for the removal. The far-reaching law can also prevent industry professionals from even speaking at conferences about issues related to digital research. More here.

So until the clips are all gone, here is a fine conversation between Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert of the Real Threat in America - bloggers:

Friday, October 27, 2006

Camera Obscura - Top Funny Horror Movies

When the holiday of Halloween occurs so close to an election day, it's rather difficult to conjure creeps and shivers which could compete with candidates and nefarious unnamed committees

Given the surreal absurdity of politics and the dread of the voter, it seems a fine time to offer a list of some of the Funniest Horror Movies. Please feel free to add your favorites. Oh, and just because the movies mentioned here do have humorous qualities - some can still scare you witless.


10. PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE -- I never tire of watching this aberrant attempt at filmmaking. It truly is so awful it is completely hilarious. The writing, the acting, the sets, the narration, the plot, just every thing about it will make anyone laugh. Can anyone even understand a word that Tor Johnson says? Rumor has it that the TV host Vampira spoke no words in the movie because she said the writing was so bad it could ruin her career to utter the lines. Like many a classic comedy, it gets funnier every time you watch it. The pie-plate flying saucers on strings wiggling across the tiny sets, the shower curtain that serves as a doorway to an airplane cockpit and lines like:

"Colonel Tom Edwards: Why is it so important that you want to contact the governments of our earth?
Eros: Because of death. Because all you of Earth are idiots.
Jeff Trent: Now you just hold on, Buster "

Sheer genius.

9. BEETLEJUICE - A box office hit with bona fide stars, directed by Tim Burton, this movie has much in it's favor - like The Handbook For The Recently Deceased, which reads like "stereo instructions." I also liked the football team killed in a crash who just can't fathom that they are dead. Great satire on many levels, and the scabby, crusty Beetlejuice performance from Michael Keaton: "I got demons runnin' alll through me!!"

8. RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD - This movie's ending gets really scary, but what fun to be had along the way! Start with the medical warehouse where the movie is set as actor James Karen goes into a screaming panic when he realizes a canister containing a zombie has broken open. Karen nearly steals this movie, closely followed by actor Don Calfa as a mortician who reluctantly agrees to help burn the pieces of a zombie in his crematory - which creates an instant rainstorm which brings even more zombies back to life. Famous for the introduction of the line "Braaaaaaains" from a zombie, and my favorite, when a zombie gets on the radio from an ambulance and says "Send more paramedics!"

7. EVIL DEAD 2 - Yes, numbers 7 and 6 are pretty much a tie for Sam Raimi's hilarious antics of poor Ash (Bruce Campbell) fighting off demons from some comedy one-liner Hell. Make no mistake, Campbell turns in a performance worthy of Harold Lloyd or Buster Keaton or any comic legend. He cuts off his demon-possessed hand, then has to chase it all over the house as it taunts him and makes goofy noises. Prior to cutting it off, the hand proceeds to bash the hell out of Ash's head with so many dinner plates you'd think this cabin he's in is a warehouse for a restaurant. Gory and comedy non-stop.

6. ARMY OF DARKNESS - And Campbell and director Raimi don't stop - poor Ash is sucked into a demon dimension and of course Prophecy says he will save the medieval world he is trapped in. He is attacked by tiny two-inch high Ash-clones, has his faced nearly sucked into a demon vortex and has a shotgun on one hand and a chainsaw welded to the other. Plus, he wows the crowds with lines like:

Now listen up, you primitive screwheads. See this? This... is my boomstick! The 12-gauge double-barreled Remington. S-Mart's top of the line. You can find this in the sporting goods department. That's right, this sweet baby was made in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Retails for about $109.95. It's got a walnut stock, cobalt blue steel, and a hair trigger. That's right. Shop smart. Shop S-Mart. You *got* that?"

5. DEAD-ALIVE - Before he fund fame as the director of "Lord of the Rings", Peter Jackson made some very strange, very funny and very gory movies. Bitten by a Giant Rat of Sumatra, the hero's mom turns into a flesh-eating zombie, which our hero tries to protect. Bad idea. Plenty of jokes are here, especially the local preacher, Father McGruder, who fights the zombies with his kung-fu skills. Oh and there is the scene where the hero takes a roaring lawnmower to a room full of zombies. Unforgettable (but be warned - this is a clear-the-room gorefest).

4. HIDE AND CREEP - Made in Alabama a few years ago for about $1.95 and cheered by Kevin Smith, the story presents a simple set-up. What happens when the dead begin to come to life in a town full of dim-witted hicks? Lots of zombie-movie jokes and it may be the first movie to be labeled a "zomcom."

3. GHOSTBUSTERS - Another big box office hit, with a hilarious script ("Here's your mucus, Egon!") and many other quotable lines. It's a modern version of the old Bob Hope horror comedy "Ghostbreakers", plus it spawned a terrible sequel and an animated series. And that song that Would Not Die.

2. SHAUN OF THE DEAD - If you haven't seen this one, run as fast as your feets can go and grab a copy. This British comedy makes it quite clear that it is rather difficult to determine just who a zombie might be as so many people drift so lifelessly thru the day. Once our "heroes" figure out what's happening, their plan is ... well, not so much a plan as a desire to hide out in a pub. And even in the worst of times, there is always time for friends to argue.

1. YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN - A masterwork of moviemaking from Mel Brooks, which makes careful homage to all the old Universal horror movies of the 30s and 40s. And it's "Fronkenstein!" And of course, "Eyegore" and not "Igor."
If you are rushed for time and don't have the chance to see a full length horror comedy, then try this one out - "Night of the Living Dead" in 30 seconds acted by bunnies.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

"Masters of Horror" Back For 2nd Season

Ah, Halloween - the annual return of, as AT said, "the best banner ever!"

Thanks, AT - it was created for just this holiday last year by The Editor.

And it serves to herald the return of an excellent series of one-hour specials on Showtime, which begins again on Friday the 27th of October. I've got a full rundown of episodes and info about each show. And how best to introduce these fright-fests featuring the work of Dario Argento, Tobe Hooper and more? Why, via the pen of William Shakespeare, who wrote:

'Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world."

Ok, now the episodes:

Oct. 27th -

“The Damned Thing” by R.C. Matheson. - 10/27/2006

An unknown monstrous force descends upon a small Texas town, turning husband against wife, brother against sister, parent against child. Tortured by his own tragic past, Sheriff Kevin Reddle (SEAN PATRICK FLANERY) must overcome his horrific rage if he is to restore order. MARISA COUGHLAN and TED RAIMI also star in this apocalyptic tale of terror.

Tobe Hooper (“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “Poltergeist”) directs.

Nov. 3 -

“Family” by Brent Hanley. - 11/3/2006

The Fullers (MEREDITH MONROE and MATT KEESLAR), a young married couple, move to a new town and discovers that their neighbor, Harold Thompson (GEORGE WENDT), is not what he seems. He putters away at his hobbies; however, his passion is anything but innocent. The Fullers will soon know what evil lurks in the depth of suburban basements.

John Landis (“American Werewolf in London ,” “Thriller”) directs.

Nov. 10 -

“The V Word” by Mick Garris. -11/10/2006

When two teenage boys break into a mortuary in hope of seeing a dead body, the macabre punishment visited upon them will far outweigh their crime. Instead of fulfilling their morbid curiosity, the boys are attacked by a rampaging vampire (MICHAEL IRONSIDE) and must ultimately decide whether to sacrifice themselves or survive as blood-thirsty killers.

Ernest Dickerson (“Bones,” “Demon Knight”) directs.

Nov. 17 -

“Sounds Like" by Brad Anderson- 11/17/2006

Quality control supervisor Larry Pearce (CHRIS BAUER) spends his days monitoring the nuances of his tech support staff's telephone conversations… listening is his life. However, when grief over his son's death leads to a supernaturally heightened sense of sound, Larry is forced to take violent action to silence the horrific cacophony in his head. Its “The Tell-Tale Heart” meets “The Conversation” in this tale of psychological terror based on Mike O'Driscoll's short story. LAURA MARGOLIS also stars.

Brad Anderson (“The Machinist,” “Session 9”) directs.

Nov 24 -

“Pro-Life” by Drew McWeeny & Scott Swan - 11/24/2006

A near-accident on an isolated mountain road lands young Angelique (CAITLIN WACHS) in a nearby women's health clinic. As her fervently anti-abortion father Dwayne (RON PERLMAN) and his well-armed three sons attempt to “liberate” Angelique, she discovers that the only thing more dangerous than her would-be saviors is the demonic seed growing within her. MARK FEUERSTEIN and EMMANUELLE VAUGIER also star.

John Carpenter (“Halloween,” “The Thing”) directs.

Dec. 1 -

“Pelts” by Matt Venne.- 12/1/2006

Fur trader Jake Feldman (MEATLOAF) knows that you can't make a coat without breaking a few animals' necks. In his pursuit to make the perfect fur coat to win over a woman, Feldman steals supernatural raccoon pelts that violently turn against those that covet them. “The skin trade” gets a whole new twist in this Giallo-style adaptation of F. Paul Wilson's short story. JOHN SAXON also stars.

Dario Argento (“Suspiria,” “Terror at the Opera”) directs.

Dec. 8 -

“The Screwfly Solution” by Sam Hamm. - 12/8/2006

Based on the short story by Raccoona Sheldon, a deadly virus infects the nation, transforming men into psychotic killers who attack every woman that crosses their paths. A suburban housewife and her teenage daughter embark on a treacherous journey to survive, but how can they protect themselves from an entire gender gone mad? JASON PRIESTLY and ELLIOT GOULD star.

Joe Dante (“The Howling,” “Gremlins”) directs.

The official link to the Showtime site is here.

Other entries include an adapation of a David Schow story directed by Tom Holland, and Stuart Gordon is adapting Poe's "The Black Cat" which he will also direct.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Ban! You're It!

I imagine in the future a statue will be created (by committee of the self-congratulatory) to honor the parents who decided the childhood game of Tag was The Most Dangerous Game.

Now if we can just create a state or federal law to prevent children from falling down -- and why not a Ban on The Wedgie? Just imagine the wailing and gnashing of teeth from lawyers and inattentive parents such an act will provide.

And this whole "recess" idea is surely a commie-liberal plot to enforce class warfare, isn't it?

Studies in early childhood development offer a variety of reasons "recess" provides vital constructive education:

The delights of the outdoors are among the deepest, most passionate joys of childhood; however increasing demands on parents working outside of the home have resulted in growing numbers of children with less time to play under adult supervision in their neighborhoods or in their yards. Instead, they are spending more time behind locked doors watching television, playing video and computer games, and as recent studies have shown, growing obese. Other children often have afternoon schedules full of structured activities, including music, dance instruction, drama classes, and tennis lessons.

Compounding the dilemma is a trend among many public school districts throughout the United States to eliminate recess in elementary schools. Those doing away with outdoor activity claim that it is a waste of time better spent on academics, that playground injuries promote lawsuits, that children are at an increased risk of coming in contact with threatening strangers while outdoors, and that there is a shortage of teachers and volunteers willing to supervise play activities.

While these concerns are valid, school recess is often the only time during the work week that children are able to be carefree--a time when their bodies and voices are not under tight control.

It is a widely held view that unstructured physical play is a developmentally appropriate outlet for reducing stress in children's lives, and research shows that physical activity improves children's attentiveness and decreases restlessness. Following are a few reasons why school administrators should carefully consider the benefits of outdoor play before eliminating recess from their curriculum.

  1. Play is an active form of learning that unites the mind, body, and spirit. Until at least the age of nine, children's learning occurs best when the whole self is involved.
  2. Play reduces the tension that often comes with having to achieve or needing to learn. In play, adults do not interfere and children relax.
  3. Children express and work out emotional aspects of everyday experiences through unstructured play.
  4. Children permitted to play freely with peers develop skills for seeing things through another person's point of view--cooperating, helping, sharing, and solving problems.
  5. The development of children's perceptual abilities may suffer when so much of their experience is through television, computers, books, worksheets, and media that require only two senses. The senses of smell, touch, and taste, and the sense of motion through space are powerful modes of learning.
  6. Children who are less restricted in their access to the outdoors gain competence in moving through the larger world. Developmentally, they should gain the ability to navigate their immediate environs (in safety) and lay the foundation for the courage that will enable them eventually to lead their own lives.

Our society has become increasingly complex, but there remains a need for every child to feel the sun and wind on his cheek and engage in self paced play. Children's attempts to make their way across monkey bars, negotiate the hopscotch course, play jacks, or toss a football require intricate behaviors of planning, balance, and strength--traits we want to encourage in children. Ignoring the developmental functions of unstructured outdoor play denies children the opportunity to expand their imaginations beyond the constraints of the classroom.

Ban the Ban!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Speaker Hastert Gives Davis A Boost

Forget all the scandals, forget the stunts Speaker Hastert made to hide the scandals of poor Mark Foley, forget the failures in Iraq, just ignore all the failures of the GOP and just send GOP Congressional 1st District candidate Davis into office because .... well, he's a Republican.

Given that few if any GOP candidates want Hastert anywhere near their campaigns, Davis cozied up to Davis for one purpose - raise money,

The Illinois Republican, after speaking to about 500 Northeast Tennessee Republicans on behalf of 1st Congressional District GOP nominee David Davis, said the war and Foley scandal are overshadowing Republicans' good job performance with the economy."But, yeah, I think we can hold on to the majority," said Hastert, who indicated he would like to run for House speaker again.

TN Democrat chairman, Bob Tuke, on the other hand, spoke about the massive failures of the Hastert leadership:

Hastert has been the guiding hand over a U.S. House that is rank with corruption. From the financial misdeeds of (former lobbyist) Jack Abramoff, (former congressmen) '‘Duke' Cunningham, and Bob Ney to the reprehensible sexual misconduct of Mark Foley, Hastert and his people have run wild," Tuke said. "They thumb their noses at our values, and they have no respect for common decency. ... Do these Republicans believe in honesty and decency in government or do they believe in allowing unscrupulous lobbyists, sexual predators and common criminals to control our Capitol? Only they can tell us."

If it weren't for those pesky reporters, Davis says, why then everything would be hunky dory:

I'm proud to have a speaker who will stand up and do what's right," Davis said of Hastert. "It amazes me how some of the national media will make an issue. There was a congressman from Florida who did something wrong. I'm proud to have a speaker on my side of the aisle that will stand up and do what's right. ..