Friday, December 30, 2005

Pirates Have A New Name

There was a special on AMC last night about companies that take movies released on DVD, and reedit them to make them "family friendly." This, of course, means cutting out violence, sex, profanity, and anything else anyone might enjoy.

This is, by no means, a new phenomena. Remember the stink back in 1997, when Blockbuster offered copies of Titanic with Kate Winslet's nude scene cut out? Well, it's only gotten bigger since then. Now, there are a ton of companies that do this to almost every movie that gets released on video.

Of course, there is a huge problem with all of this. These companies (whom I won't name, so as not to promote their shit) reedit these movies, burn them to DVDs, and then resell them to folks seeking a "family friendly" alternative. Maybe I'm out of line here, but, last time I checked, altering, copying, and redistributing copyrighted material was a federal offense, and is referred to as "pirating." But these assholes don't feel that applies to them. They feel they are protected under the "Free Use" loophole of copyright law, which claims that you can make copies of material for personal use. Last time I checked, reselling bootleg copies of edited movies doesn't necessarily fall under "personal use." (I also noticed that iMovie and the iMac are the software and hardware of choice for these pirates. I'm sure Apple is pleased as hell.)

They also hide behind the Family Movies Act of 2005, which makes it legal to produce a video player that self-edits objectionable material from movies, without actually altering the content of the DVD. That's all fine and good, but I couldn't help notice that the Act doesn't mention anything about it being fine to make and sell pirated copies. (Maybe I just can't read.)

Obviously, I fall on the Hollywood side of the debate, which hates these people and wishes they would die for not only fucking with their property, but ruining the filmmakers' artistic integrity. But, these "clean film" folks claim that there are no alternatives for the sex-and-violence-filled movies in the marketplace. They feel they are providing a service by editing movies to exclude (what they feel is) objectionable material. Because of this, they feel justified in breaking copyright law. (The fact that all of them happen to be Mormons may also have something to do with their righteous indignation.)

But, this is all bullshit, and these people know it. They found a clever way to make money, and are exploiting the shit out of it. I'm sure these folks believe they are good people, and have some great morals and family values, but this whole thing is all about the Benjamins. If they really believed in what they were doing, they'd do it for free. But there's nothing free about it. One company has a chain of stores which sells its edited movies, and even has a Netflix-ish service where you can receive these movies through the mail, for a monthly fee, of course.

"But, what about the children? Can't we have movies that they can watch?" Oh, sure we can, and I'm even willing to help out. Let's say I take a movie like The Devil's Rejects, which contains about 560 uses of the word "fuck." (No shit. If you don't believe me, count them.) I take the movie and edit out the use of one "fuck," reburn it about a hundred times, and then resell my version for five bucks a throw. (Notice I only edited out profanity, as editing out the nudity and violence would be fucking un-American.) There: family-friendly fare. Because who's to say that "family friendliness" isn't the difference between 559 "fuck"s and 560 "fuck"s? It's the same shit these people are pulling and getting away with (even though their edits are waaaay more extreme than what I'm proposing).

The funniest thing about all of this is that these assholes know they're breaking the law, and they carefully plan their actions, so as to skirt the law. I noticed that they only "tamper" with movies on video, and not theatrical prints. You could open a movie theatre, and edit the film prints and show "clean" movies in the theatre. But they're too smart for that. They know that once you buy a video that it's yours to do with what you please. Theatrical film prints are the property of movie studios, wholly owned and distributed by them, and tampering with them would cause the instantaneous destruction of anyone who did it. It's not only a violation of copyright law (which they can apparently get around), it's destruction of private property (which is a harder rap to beat). Plus, there's no money in theatres, as ticket revenue goes directly back to the studio. (Theatres make their money on concessions.) These cocksuckers know all of this, and know it's not only a stickier proposition, it's harder to make any money doing it. Video is much easier to manipulate, redistribute, and has a huge profit margin. Pirates have a new name now, and, turns out, it's "Crusaders for Family Virtue."

And, while these "clean movie" people appear to get away with this now, I suspect they all have a pretty big comeuppance in store for them. I had a chat with God about all of this, and it turns out He's a fan of artistic integrity as well, and considers this "editing nonsense" a "sin against God" (His words). You folks may think you're doing God's work now, but you've got a BIG surprise coming to you in the Afterlife.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Osama Just Shit Himself

This month's GQ features an article on Saudi Arabian model and singer Wafah Dufour (who is pictured at left). Typically, this would be no big whoop, as I'm sure there are plenty of Saudi model/singers (though I'm at a loss to name one), but this one has something special going for her: She just happens to be the niece of Public Enemy #1, Osama bin Laden.

Now, it's worth noting here that Ms. Dufour is actually an American citizen, born and bred. She lives in New York and went to Columbia Law School. She is not required by law to wear a shroud when she goes out in public.

But, in Saudi Arabia, which is an Islamic country, Wafah would probably be brought up on capital charges for showing so much as an ankle, which is a lot less than what she's showing in that picture.

Which is why I find it hilarious that she's bin Laden's niece. He's a seriously Fundamentalist nut, and shit like this, especially within his own family, must drive him absolutely batshit. I'm sure he sent one of his followers out to find a copy of the issue, prayed to Allah like 900 times for pre-forgiveness for the sin he was about to commit, and then looked at the pictures and shit a golden statue of Buddha.

But, ya know, like a lot of nutty Fundamentalist people of every other religious creed, I bet Osama has that creepy side that goes against his religion. He probably carries around a 1963 issue of Playboy under his beard that he frequently masturbates to when he's all by himself. I'll bet that after he got done with his half-hour rant about the wickedness of the Western world and how it has besmirched his family's blood for the benefit of his disciples, he secretly tore out those pages and stashed them away for later use. "OOooo, my wicked niece! Allah curses you! You are dirty, dirty...DIRTY!! You wicked, dirty, sexy niece! Hey guys, I have to go to the bathroom."

Face it, Osama: You'd be as interested as performing a wankological study on your niece as the rest of the Western world is. You dirty old pervert; you're going straight to Hell.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Strokes Are Done

Remember when The Strokes' first record came out, and everyone just shit themselves about how great it was? I usually don't fall for this kind of buzz, as I have "shitty taste in music," but it turns out everyone was right: it was a great record. (The only other record that turned out to be as good as its word of mouth was Exile in Guyville. I defy anyone to prove that Slanted and Enchanted and OK Computer are even listenable.)

And, after a while, they came out with Room on Fire. A pretty good album, with catchy tunes to spare, but pretty much the same as Is This It.

And now, we have First Impressions of Earth. And I feel that I'm pretty safe in saying that if you own either of the other two Strokes records, that there's no need to own this one, as it's pretty much a Greatest Hits Record, but all the songs are new.

None of this really surprises me. When Room on Fire came out, and it sounded exactly like Is This It, I kinda suspected The Strokes had hit their creative peak. Turns out, they did.

Not that this is a bad thing. It's alright to put out records that all sound the same, to an extent. Linkin Park has put out the same record twice, and they're both great. And Is This It and Room on Fire are both great. The danger is that you start to suck if you keep putting out the same record over and over. Weezer has put out the same record five times, two records past their sound's expiration date, and Aerosmith has been putting out the same record for 20 years, and everyone knows they honk on bobo.

Music ceases to be interesting if every song sounds the same. You've got to change something if you want people to stay interested. Take Liz Phair, for example. Her latest record doesn't sound anything like Exile in Guyville. I'm sure she's lost some fans for that very reason (because indie snobs actually are snobs), but I'm sure she's gained just as many with her new sound. (Call me a sucker, but I'm still a Liz fan, even though she seriously sold out.) I'm not sure what the fanbase for early-80s New York underground-rock tribute bands is, but I'm sure there's a much larger fanbase in some other genre that maybe The Strokes should cultivate before they alienate everyone.

Maybe I'm way off base here, but check it out, and I'll bet you'll say, "Is this it?," same as I did.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Red Sox Fans: Get Over It

All I've been reading or seeing in sports the past week or so is about how pissed that Red Sox fans are about losing Johnny Damon to free agency. Well, I'm here to tell you to drink a warm cup of shut the fuck up and get over it.

But then, Red Sox fans have always been whiners. They whined about Carlton Fisk leaving, they whined about Clemens leaving, and now this just follows the typical pattern. Maybe that 19 year old wunderkind you have running the team doesn't know what he's doing...oh wait, you don't have him anymore either.

Look, even though your team fucked up, there's no need to complain about it all the time. Look at Cubs fans. They lost Joe Carter, a five-time All-Star who won two championships with another team; Rafael Palmeiro, who left to have (and ruin) a Hall of Fame career; and Greg Maddox, who became one of the best pitchers in history on another team. And the Cubs are now the record holder for World Series drought. You hear them complaining?

The funniest thing about this to everyone but you fans is that Damon ended up with the Yankees. Remember when the Sox traded the best player in the history of baseball to the Yankees? This is just about as funny. It's even funnier that even after signing Outfield Jesus that the Yankees also resigned been-with-the-Yankees-for-50-years Bernie Williams. They didn't really need Damon, but they signed him anyway. What a bunch of dicks.

But, quite honestly, this whole episode could have been avoided had your club just gotten out the fucking checkbook and resigned Damon. Fifty-two million? Are you saving that up so that you can resign ManRam for another year or so of constant bitching? With the money you saved not resigning The Lord, Our Savior, you could bring back Nomar...oh wait, you missed out on that one, too.

I'm glad the Red Sox won the Series last year, because, if they continue to run the club like this, it'll be another 86 years before they win another one.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Demuttification of Dogs

If I asked you what kind of dog was pictured above, you'd probably say, "Some mutt you picked up from the side of the road for free." Ten years ago, the name and the price would have been correct. Today, it's called a Labradoodle, and they cost as much as a purebred dog.

But "hybrid" dogs like Labradoodles and Cockapoos have been around for years, and, while they're not recognized by any of the dog "governing bodies," they are pretty much considered purebred dogs.

The Girl and I were at the pet store the other day, and I noticed a disturbing trend: There are more and more of these hybrid dogs popping up. They had a dog called a Schnoodle, which was a Schnauzer with a Poodle's curly hair, and another called a Puggle, which was a Beagle with a smashed-in Pug face.

Now, if the world wasn't insane, these dogs would be called "mutts," and we would be picking them up at the Humane Society for $50. But, because we are all insane, these dogs have fancy names, breeding associations, and cost $500.

Have we reached a place in our history where dogs with mixed geneology are bred with similar dogs to come up with a pure(hy)bred dog? Will we reach a point where two different hybrids are crossed to produce Whatthefucks? And why is it that Poodles, one of the ugliest dogs ever, seem to be one of the components of most hybrids?

Every dog but one that I've owned has been a mutt. (The one exception was a Scottie, and I wish someone would have bred the barking gene out of him.) I didn't care that they weren't purebred, or that they didn't have some fancy name. I loved them because they were dogs. But, apparently, I was a pretty stupid kid. If I'd have been smarter, I would have sought out a similarly bred mate for the best "hybrid dog" I ever owned: a St. Bernard/Newfoundland cross. I could have called them Newfernards, and sold them for $1000 a pop, easy. I think that's a pretty fair price for the biggest fucking "mutt" I've ever seen.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Best News In History

I realize that any given episode of Arrested Development draws more viewers than all five Showtime channels combined, but this would still be pretty cool:

Arrested Going To Cable?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

MySpace: The Stupidest Place On Earth

Yes, I know MySpace was already stupid, but it has now transcended into a place of almost God-like stupidity with this: a page by The Carver. Yes, the fucking Carver from Nip/Tuck.

Sweet Jesus.

Tookie Williams, 1953-2005

I want all my loyal readers out there to take off your blue bandanas, and bow your heads in a moment of silence for Tookie Williams.

Done? Good. Now we can get on with celebrating the precious life of this convicted murderer and notorious gang founder.

I'm not sure why Tookie and all of his supporters thought that Governor Terminator would overturn his four-count murder conviction. Is that all you have to do to gain sympathy now: recant your evil ways and claim it wasn't you? If I'm not mistaken, every criminal in history has done this, and I can't help notice that a lot of them don't get off.

Maybe Tookie thought Arnold would be lenient on him the way that G.W. Bush (who would put a motherfucker to death for jaywalking) was with Henry Lee Lucas, who actually confessed to 3000 or so murders. (The fact that no one could prove that Lucas ever actually committed a murder may have had something to do with his pardon, but I may be going out on a limb on that one.) I guess Tookie maybe chose the wrong state to start a gang and kill people in.

But, Tookie was a great man, and his contributions to society are greatly appreciated by those living in the Greater Los Angeles area. He will be missed.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Last Five Movies

Walk The Line (2005)
First off, let me say that this is a good movie (even though it fibs the truth a little), and will probably win plenty of awards. The problem I have with it is that Joaquin Phoenix really doesn't sound like Johnny Cash (or look like him, for that matter). (Reese comes off better as June Carter, but June had a generic voice anyway.) Joaquin would maybe place in the top 25 in a Johnny Cash sound-alike contest. Maybe. There's no need to so totally immerse yourself in a character that you need to mimic their singing voice. Jamie Foxx actually sounds like Ray Charles, yet felt no need to sing like him, and look how that turned out for him. An example Joaquin should have followed here.

Derailed (2005)
A movie with a ridiculous plot that actually seems to work (albeit pretty stupidly). What doesn't work is that I just can't see cheating on Melissa George with Jennifer Aniston. It's pretty much a toss-up, but I'd have to go with Melissa. I guess Clive deserves what he gets, the dumbass.

Just Friends (2005)
Not sure how one becomes a Ryan Reynolds fan, but seeing as I've seen his last four movies in the theatre, I believe I've involuntarily become one. His newest is pretty funny, despite the fact that it's really stupid. The funniest bits are when Reynolds and Chris Klein are both geeks. And, apparently, Reynolds' character became a heterosexual when he lost all that weight, because there's no way he's not gay when he's fat. No wonder he can't get the girl.

A Night At The Opera (1935)
I realize this movie is 70 years old, but it's still funnier than hell. A very close second to Duck Soup as the Best Marx Brothers Movie. And, yes, the gags are old-timey and corny, but that doesn't make them any less hilarious.

Hard to top on the Marx Brothers, but here goes...

Syriana (2005)
Probably the best movie I've seen this year (and, as you can see, I've been watching a lot of Oscar contenders). The movie is somehow more complex than Traffic, Gaghan's other intricately plotted masterpiece. And even though it's based on a book that's 10 years old, its blood-for-oil theme is more relevant now than it was then. Should rightfully be nominated for Best Picture, just so it can lose to the big monkey or gay cowboy movie. C'est la vie.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Sony Is Sneaky

When it comes to technological breakthroughs, Sony has taken some serious beatings over the years. Their Betamax was killed by VHS, their MiniDisc failed to replace the CD, and its ATRAC audio format has not caught on as an MP3 killer. And now, they're about to get into another fight-to-the-death for video supremacy.

The next breakthrough in media technology is the introduction of the high definition video disc. We have TVs that are HD capable, we have TV signals that are broadcast in HD, we're even able to shoot movies in HD. Yet, we have no way to play HD movies at home. But that's about to change.

Now, Sony has never been happy just going with the crowd and marketing someone else's technology. They always want to set the standard. Sometimes it works (Walkman, PlayStation), sometimes it doesn't (Betamax, MiniDisc). And the HD video disc is no different.

Toshiba was the first out the gate with the HD-DVD. It quickly gained the support of many techies and movie studios. And then Sony came out with Blu-Ray, its somewhat more technologically-advanced version. And things have kinda shifted the other way now.

While neither format has been released in a significant way yet, HD-DVD seems to have the advantage. Its discs are less advanced than Blu-Ray's, and are exactly the same size as DVDs, and will therefore be easier (and cheaper) to produce. Both formats have split studio support down the middle, with some studios agreeing to distribute movies in both formats. And, while Blu-Ray has gained the support of Dell and Apple (the people who make computers), Intel and Microsoft (the people who make computers work) back HD-DVD. It's also rumored that Wal Mart will sell HD-DVD players when they become available.

So, Sony appears to have backed itself into a corner once again. While its format will have better sound and video, more capacity, and more data layers than HD-DVD, it appears as though the consumer will kill the format. A lot of movie watchers don't give a fuck about audio and video quality; they just want movies as cheaply as they can get them. And with Blu-Ray players expected to start at $1000, Sony appears to have priced itself right out of the marketplace.

But Sony has been through this before. They know how to take a beating and keep living. So they pulled some sneaky shit that will give them a leg-up on the HD-V market: When the PlayStation 3 comes out next year, every unit will come with a built-in Blu-Ray player. These will, more than likely, be the first HD players to hit the market. And, they basically come for free with a game system that people are going to pay $400 for anyway. Even if Sony doesn't sell a single stand-alone Blu-Ray player, it will already have millions of them in peoples' homes. It's an absolutely brilliant move (and one that has Microsoft considering rereleasing the XBox 360 with an HD-DVD drive). If Sony wants to win this fight, this is the way to do it.

Now, they just have to hope that people buy the PS3. Otherwise, they might be fucked.

AIDS Now Officially A Joke

In a show of support for AMFAR, designer Kenneth Cole has rolled out an AIDS-awareness campaign with plenty of celebrity endorsers. To show your support, you can buy one of the shirts pictured at right. Now, I know AIDS is a serious health issue and is not funny at all, but then why did I laugh my ass off when I saw this shirt?

My guess would be that the shirt's message, "We All Have AIDS," is bordering on copyright infringement territory with "Everyone Has AIDS," the song-and-dance number from Team America, which was funny.

Maybe Kenneth saw Team America, and said, "Wow, 'Everyone Has AIDS.' That could be a slogan or something..." Yeah, it could. A funny slogan, like something you'd put in a movie where all the actors are puppets.

If you want to raise AIDS awareness, you maybe want a slogan like, "We're All Affected By AIDS," or anything else, for that matter, as long as it doesn't make me think of singing and dancing puppets. (So, "AIDS: Fuck Yeah!" is right out as well.) I shouldn't be laughing at AIDS, but you're kinda forcing me to here, Kenny.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

X-Men 3 Trailer Out There

The trailer for the new X-Men movie is online now, and it does not appear to totally suck.

X3 Trailer

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Brad Pitt Makes Hasty Decisions

This weekend, as reported by every newssource on the planet, Brad Pitt decided to adopt Angelina Jolie's adopted children. And while it may seem like a noble gesture for one millionaire to adopt the children of another millionaire, I don't think Brad gave this decision the due diligence it requires.

For, you see, when Brad and Angie break up (and I'd give them two years tops), should Angie choose to be so spiteful, she could sue Brad for child support, because he would legally be them babies' daddy. In fact, as they aren't currently married (or dating, as far as I can tell), she could petition for support as soon as the adoption paperwork goes through. That's kind of a "worst case scenario," but stranger things have been known to happen.

I'm not sure who Brad gets his legal advice from, but he appears to be earning every penny of his $5.75 an hour fee. He's good. Real good.

Monday, December 05, 2005

How To Show Tits On Network TV (And Have No One Notice)

A week or so ago, there was an episode of The O.C. in which Mischa Barton's boob popped out of her top. As I don't watch The O.C., I didn't see the scene when it aired, but a 30 second search on the internet turned it up. (I only know one person who actually watches The O.C., and I've called him a fag many times for doing so. With this sort of "tit"ilation happening on the show, maybe he's not so gay after all. But I doubt it.) Having watched the clip, what amazes me is not that they showed tits on TV (as they're on all the time), but that they managed to sneak unnoticed onto primetime network TV.

I assume this show is shot on film with a single camera, so there wasn't a second camera that managed to get a better shot. And, if there happened to be a second take, this is the one they used. Mischa obviously noticed it happened, as she quickly rearranges her boobage. But no one else seems to have noticed. Not the cast or crew, during filming or the viewing of the dailies. Not the editor, who must have seen the scene while cutting the show together. Nor the network censors, who, I assume, must have watched the final cut to watch for FCC-offending material just like this. And hence, Mischa's tits make their network television debut.

So, how exactly does something like this go unnoticed by so many people? It's not as though this was a live telecast where Justin Timberlake "unexpectedly" tore Mischa's top off. It's a taped show that plenty of people get to see before it airs. I suspect a network-wide conspiracy that goes a little something like this:

Man #1: Umm, did Mischa's tit just pop out?
Man #2: No. No, it didn't.
Man #1: Well. All righty then.

And, apparently, if this little exchange takes place enough times, you can show tits on network TV and have no one "notice." No one except any viewers at home and anyone with access to the web. But, honestly: How many people could that possibly be?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Reggie Bush Was Crazy Good Back In The Day

Everyone knows that Reggie Bush is good. He's helped the USC Trojans to the last two NCAA football championships. He's the leading candidate for the Heisman this year, and he's an offensive threat regardless of where he is on the field.

But, if you think he's impressive now, wait until you see this crazy video (courtesy of The New York Times) of him in high school. (The video is linked under Reggie's picture.)

If I was a player on one of the opposing teams, I would commit suicide after some of the shit that Reggie pulls here. You could put leg irons and a straitjacket on the guy, and he'd still be the best player on the field. Yes, he really is that good.