[insert title here]

In January of 2010 I was employed in some form of management at a New Zealand movie theatre and had all sorts of (painfully) hilarious interactions with the movie-going public.  It was the time of Avatar, if you cast your mind back, and in trolling through The Crypt I discovered this gem of a post:   

Why Customers Are Always Wrong Part 1001

"You know, only here would Avatar in 3D be big news. Because back in America they're showing it right, the way it was meant to be. In 4D. All screenings of Avatar there are in 4D."


In order to show a movie in 4D you would have to somehow harness the ability to add an extra spatial dimension to the projected image on a screen in a theatre housed in a 3D world.  I am not a physicist or scientist by any means but let me remind you all that we live in a 3D world.  Life: now in 3D!  And you don't even need special glasses to experience it.  And yet a filmed image of what amounts to 3D actors in a 3D fantasy will somehow be able to achieve more dimensionality than reality?

Certain films are marketed as 4D because Hollywood is nothing if not completely rational and over-fond of hyperbole.  These so-called 4D films add an 'extra dimension' to your viewing experience by splashing rain on you during rainy scenes or shaking your seat during earthquake-y scenes.  You know, like those rides you go on where you watch a 3D movie while the entire theatre bucks and dives and wafts scent over you with Smell-O-Vision.  But that's a Hollywood thing, my friends, and not a realistic representation of what an actual spatial fourth dimension would be like.  It would, I imagine, be a lot more like The Twilight Zone and a lot less like canned water and artificial floral scent being thrown at you on command.

Upon further reading through The Crypt I discovered that the above post was more or less the direct inverse of this post:

Customer: Is Avatar in 3D here?
Manager: No. It's in 2D.
Customer: What's 2D?
Manager: 2D is a normal film.
Customer: Okay. So can I ask you something I've always wondered?
Manager: Sure.
Customer: If 3D is the glasses and 2D is normal, what's 1D?
Manager: /pause/ There is no 1D.

Full confession: the role of 'Manager' was played by me.

The person genuinely wanted to know, in an additional conversation, why we didn't ever show films in 1D.  A single dimension can exist - it's like a single bead on a fixed span of string; it can move forward and back but you only need one measurement to figure out where the bead is located, length.  I can't imagine how films would be shown in a single dimension, however.  Or be filmed at all in a single dimension.  Especially considering that the life being filmed is necessarily in three dimensions.  Well, there is only one dimension of time.  So in theory a film that contained no actual film or image but consumed time might be considered a 1D film?  The mind - it boggles!

As a side note, may I suggest that if you want to learn more about 1D you don't just type that into Google?  Don't say I didn't warn you. 

And now that I have dragged you down the rabbithole of nostalgic dimensionality we finally come to the conclusion that I have no point.  This is a post without purpose.  In effect, this post is one dimension.  (That dimension being time - do try to keep up.)

"I've just sucked one year of your life away. I might one day go as high as five, but I really don't know what that would do to you. So, let's just start with what we have. What did this do to you? Tell me. And remember, this is for posterity so be honest. How do you feel?"

Don't try to fight it.  I control the horizontal and the vertical, man. 


- Corinne Simpson


Pick of the Week – July 21-27, 2014

In yesterday’s post about Weird Al Yankovic, I very briefly mentioned his 1989 film, UHF.  Rather than going on about my love for the movie there, I decided to save for this week’s pick.  UHF is the story of George Newman, playing by Yankovic, who could charitably be described as…unsuccessful in the various occupations he’s tried.  George finds his niche, though, when his uncle comes into possession of a UHF TV station and puts George in charge of it (for those too young to remember such things, in the days of antenna-based TV, there were VHF and UHF channels.  VHF was home to your major networks, while UHF tended to be smaller channels).

Despite the fact that Weird Al co-wrote and stars in the film, it is not a musical.  Aside from the closing credits song and a dream sequence involving a parody of the Dire Straits song, “Money for Nothing,” the music is limited to the sort that would be found on a regular TV station, namely commercial jingles and show theme songs.   But it’s those shows and commercials that really makes up a lot of the movie’s comedy with airborne canines, kitchen utensil warehouse stores, and an unexpected sequel to a classic biopic.  

Apart from Yankovic, who is very good in the film (The man has always been a great comedic actor.  Just watch his videos.), the cast includes a pre-Seinfeld Michael Richards, a pre-Nanny Fran Drescher, and a post-Sixteen Candles Gedde Watanabe. 

As I said in my Weird Al post, UHF ended up getting crushed at the box office because it came out in one of the biggest movie summers of the 1980s, and it didn’t see a DVD release until the early 2000s thanks to rights issues stemming from the bankruptcy of the studio that made it.  Now it’s readily available and still a lot of fun.  For those with younger children, UHF  is rated PG-13, but that rating seems to be based on some of the very cartoonish violence that appears in the movie.  There’s also a somewhat un-PC gag involving Watanabe’s English pronunciation.  As it’s one of the funniest jokes in the movie, though, I’m inclined to let it slide.

-Alan Decker

@CmdrAJD on Twitter

Weird Al Yankovic: Renaissance Man

Considering my other geeky/nerdy interests, I suppose it’s no surprise that I’m also a long-time fan of Weird Al Yankovic.  This week marked the release of his fourteenth studio album, Mandatory Fun, which contains parodies of Pharrell’s “Happy,” Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” and others.  In a sure sign that I’m continuing my steady march toward old-fogey-dom, I was completely unfamiliar with at least one of the songs being parodied, “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea.  This has been true of Al’s last several albums.  It was long after I’d memorized “White and Nerdy” that I finally heard the source song.

With the release of Weird Al’s latest album, there has been some discussion online (in particular in a Grantland article that I am not going to link to because I felt it was needlessly mean) about whether Yankovic really matters in this age of the Internet when anyone can crank out a parody and put a video on Youtube. 

Admittedly, freshness can be an issue when it comes to parody.  Several of the songs Weird Al covers on the new album came out a year or more ago.  Age doesn’t matter as much when he’s parodying a classic, such as when he turned “American Pie” into “The Saga Begins,” but is anyone going to remember “Fancy” a few years from now?

Yankovic has acknowledged this problem, which is why Mandatory Fun may be his last traditional album.  From here on out, he can release parody songs and videos as they are completed and far closer to the popular source material.  That makes complete sense, and I’m sure Weird Al will be fine doing this.  Yes, there’s a lot of competition out there on Youtube, but he is still the one and only real big name in parody music.

The parodies are how he first came to fame, and he is very good at what he does.  While there are many many other people posting parodies on Youtube, in many cases their lyrics don’t quite work with the original tune or the singing…isn’t great.  There are definitely exceptions.  I talked about Not Literally’s work in a previous post, and recently I’ve had this very well done parody of “Talk Dirty to Me” called “Talk Nerdy to Me” stuck in my head.  But then it doesn’t surprise me that geeks would do parody well.  Weird Al is part of geek culture.  I’m sure many of these people were raised on and look up to Weird Al.  They aren’t his competition; they’re his legacy.

What has bothered me about some of these articles, though, is the idea that Weird Al’s career consists of these parodies and nothing more.  Most non-fans don’t seem to realize that about half of each Weird Al album consists of original songs.  Many of these are “style parodies” in which he writes a completely new song in the style of an existing artist.  For example, Mandatory Fun has “First World Problems,” which is his take on the Pixies.  My favorite song off of his previous album, Alpocalypse, is “Skipper Dan” a vaguely-Weezer-esque song that’s one of his originals rather than a parody.   Two of his bigger songs in the 80s, “Dare to Be Stupid” and “One More Minute” are also both originals.

Al and his band can play pretty much anything.  Speaking of the band, Al has been playing with these same guys for decades now.  They’re all very talented musicians, which is another fact that tends to be overlooked in discussions of Weird Al.  Seriously.  Go see them in concert.  All of the songs are played live, and they sound fantastic.  It’s also a hell of an entertaining show.  How many of the other Youtube parody singers can claim the same?  This is not to disparage these other singers, many of whom put in a lot of work and are quite good.  Weird Al is just in a different league.  There’s a reason (many of them really) that his career has outlasted many of the artists he’s parodied.

There’s also more to Al Yankovic than his work as a musician.  He co-wrote and starred in the movie, UHF, which, while it didn’t do very well on release (It was 1989, and it was up against movies like Ghostbusters 2, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Batman), has come to be considered a comedy classic.  He’s made numerous guest appearances on TV shows and hosted his own series, The Weird Al Show, for a seasonAside from directing his own videos, Yankovic has directed videos for many other artists such as Hanson, Ben Folds, and The Black Crowes.  He’s also written two children’s books, When I Grow Up and My New Teacher and Me!  He also has a degree in architecture, which means he might also be able to design a house for you. 

So, while this may be his last studio album, let us not lament the end of Weird Al.  I have a feeling that he’s not going anywhere.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go listen to “Word Crimes” again.

- Alan Decker

@CmdrAJD on Twitter

Friday Fun: Oh The Places You'll Search...


“Searchin, Searchin (For so long) / Searchin (Searchin) / Searchin, Searchin (I just wanted to dance) / Searchin...”  Luther Vandross is now the unofficial theme song of these Search Query posts.  You guys have a lot of unexpected questions plaguing you.  I’m glad we’re here to help you find some answers.  Or to at least muddy the intellectual waters even further. 

‘futurama express rocket’
Have I ever discussed 'Futurama' or the Planet Express ship?  I sincerely don’t think I have.  Not that 'Futurama' didn’t have some epic moments.  It’s a great show.  It’s just not one I’ve ever discussed.  How did you get here, searcher?  And once you arrived, what did you find?  I’m so curious!

“Memory / All alone in the moonlight / I can smile at the old days...”  
There is probably more in The Crypt about Orophin than I want to admit.  Orophin is the brother of Rumil and Haldir and they were all part of the Galadhrim of Lothlorien.  Yes, Elves of Middle-Earth.  Tall blonde haughty ones.  I may have written a fair amount about Elves in my day.

‘pg 13 uesless’
Bold statement, searcher!  Are you decrying the existence of all thirteenth pages or just one in particular?  Or is it the rating of PG-13 that you find so 'uesless'?  Spelling and grammar are your friends, you know.  They can help sort out much of the confusion of everyday life.

‘marilyn lyrics backstreetboys’
This is entirely my fault.  I am the one who tried to listen to Marilyn Manson while performing a lyric analysis on ‘As Long As You Love Me’.  I’m sorry, everyone.  Now that unholy union has been branded into the fabric of the internet.  Interestingly, a search of ‘Marilyn Manson Backstreet Boys’ reveals no Google Image evidence of the two groups ever having been in the same place at the same time.  So now, despite my earlier apology for creating the hydra of Marilyn Backstreet, I want this to be a thing.  I now need the two to come together.  Do a duet, you guys!   

‘marg helgenberger bed scene from the movie species’
Ah yes, the scene in the hotel after they think they’ve put Sil down.  They haven’t, of course, and she’s actually in the sewers spawning alien hybrid babies.  But at the moment of the scene in question Marg Helgenberger’s Laura and Michael Madsen’s Press totally hook up in what they mistakenly believe is the aftermath of their alien hunt.  It’s a foxy little scene.  Marg Helgenberger is a foxy and fantastic actress.  Truth.

‘does julia roberts play in cutthroat island’
No.  The swashbuckling actress in Cutthroat Island is Geena Davis.  Julia Roberts played Tinkerbell in Hook four years earlier.  You’re welcome.

‘evil dracula’
As opposed to Good Dracula?  Or Happy Times Dracula?  Well I guess it all depends on your perspective.  From a vampire perspective Dracula is just doing his bloodsucking thing and trying to find a companion to make eternity less dreary.  He turns Lucy - who wouldn’t?  He has a few brides.  He’s not a bad guy.  He’s at best misunderstood as so many villains are.  Of course from the perspective of everyone else he’s kind of a monster so... ‘evil’.  

‘what is klingers blood type’
I don’t believe I’ve ever discussed the blood types of 'M.A.S.H.' characters but I can understand how you would expect a vampire to be an expert in such things.  For the record, Corporal Max Klinger is either type B positive or AB positive.  In an early episode he states his type as B positive but later in the series claims he is the same blood type as Charles Winchester who it is later revealed is AB positive.  Pick your poison, little vamp.


‘csi clown fetish’
Coulrophilia.  The paraphilia involving sexual attraction to clowns.  'CSI' memorably did an episode on this very subject in the Season 4 episode ‘Getting Off’.  (I don’t make the titles up, people, that’s just how punny they are naturally.)  If you’re curious about a fetish it’s a good bet 'CSI' has done an episode on it.  To date, just off the top of my head, they’ve explored sexual interest in clowns, foot fetish, infantilism, attraction to large women, furries, sex involving an octopus (called shokushu goukan), erotic eating, autoerotic asphyxiation, and BDSM.  It’s a very educational show.

‘sharon stone’s wardrobe the specialist’
I am an expert on this.  To wit, my live blog of The Specialist in which I observed the following regarding her wardrobe (or lack thereof)...
8:46 Interspersed with shots of her in a thong pressing bodily up against filmy white curtains.  I feel... dirty.  Like I'm trapped in a rejected 80s Madonna video with no way out.
8:54 Stone insults Roberts' interior decorator.  I feel her there.  But I also think she must have pissed off wardrobe because that coat is nine sizes too big for her.
9:01 Is Stone wearing wallpaper?  No, worse, it's a matched brocade nightgown and robe combo.
9:07 Roberts blew up!  Apparently so did Stone?  I blame wardrobe.  After the first two divine outfits they appeared to have had a falling out.
9:17 Stallone approaches Stone's casket... it isn't her!  But wait... who is that stylish shadow sauntering into the church backlit by sun, veiled, leggy?
9:23  Oh lord, my eyes... they are like two tangled burnt sienna crayons in a puddle...
And there it is.  There’s no need to watch the movie now.  You’re welcome.


‘no heart vampire care bears’
You guys, there were vampire Care Bears?  I feel certain I would have known about this.  I’m also certain vampire Care Bears would especially need their hearts.  For the processing of all the Care Bear Cousin blood and so on.  Don’t lie to me like this, searcher!  Don’t make up vampire Care Bears with no hearts and expect me to buy it!  Faugh.  A pox on you and your house!


‘guy in shades luking nice’
I think the lyrics you’re ‘luking’ for are “I wear my sunglasses at night / So I can, So I can / Watch you weave then breathe your story lines” and they’re from Corey Hart’s 80s hit ‘Sunglasses At Night’.  This is the second time some hapless searcher has stumbled into the asylum ‘luking’ for Corey Hart.  Either Corey Hart is experiencing a resurgence the likes of which Flock of Seagulls can only dream or Corey Hart needs to hire me as his PR person because I appear to be the go-to girl for lyric identification.


- Corinne Simpson

Nathan's Laserium: Nineteen Rejected Opening Lines

So it's been a year since Corinne first invited me to write for her website (not counting all our cross-posts from back in the Woodsy Crypt days). At first I was just giving her the very occasional guest post about comics but soon enough I had my weekly Laserium offerings. Thanks to Corinne for inviting me to contribute. I'm a better writer than I was a year ago and I owe a lot of that to her. It's been fun coming up with something each week, and it's been nice having my archival footage to fall back on when I get too swamped, which, since I work 50 hours a week and have two kids to take care of during my days off, is most of the time. But I love it when I come up with something new. Like this! If you start seeing stories with openers taken from the following, you'll know I've become desperate.


Nineteen Rejected Opening Lines


Recently, I . . .

Today, I . . .

Webster defines . . .

It was the summer of Vanilla Coke in Canada.

I put a frisbee on my IglooTherm2000 and called it my winter of disc-on-tent.

The ding-dong of the doorbell overrode the tick-tock of the clock.

It all started the day I finally sorted my junk drawer.

I had the last living narwhal for lunch.

I was the crime minister before I became the Prime Minister.

Yeah, you should never take the road less traveled when you’re hitchhiking, bub.

The day I declared my major in xenomorphology was also the day the Draxons declared war on us.

I have uncovered evidence that Shakespeare actually wrote Beethoven’s symphonies, and Beethoven wrote Shakespeare’s plays.

She said stromatolites when she really meant stromatoporoids, and I was smitten.

He always tipped precisely 16.25% and that was to be his downfall in the end.

Yes, I know my secret origin is that I ran into a moose with my truck, thus becoming MooseMan, you don’t have to remind me.

It’s not at all cheating to say I spy with my little eye all the dark matter in the universe.

After Odin convinced me that he was indeed who he said he was, I agreed to become the new god of thunder.

The Three Laws of Thermodynamics ain't got nothing on my Three Laws of Don't Fuck With Me.

I am a terrible writer and I’m never going to get any better and I might as well give up now.


- Nathan Waddell