Friday, February 15, 2008

Reasons To Be Cheerful: week of 02/15/08

Any old business - - ?

Blog updates:
- 3 more images added to the 'In Praise of Michael J. Pollard' post.

- Additional sound files, LP cover image and back story added to Nick Apollo - Can I Depend On You.

On to new business - - What's been happening?

1. reports a new Greg the Bunny DVD, scheduled for release in May: IFC's 'Best Of The Film Parodies,
Vol. 2: The Passion of Greg The Bunny'.
Love that Warren DeMontague!

2. It was good to have the reminder this week that
San Diego-based Underground comic book artist and painter Mary Fleener is alive and well, and busy on the web.

I stumbled onto her website and Comic-Con blog the other day, and was much cheered by the experience.

I'd read so many of Fleener's comix over the years, as well as being absorbed by her hypnotic artwork, but it'd been a while. Time to get caught up!

3. Over at Flickr there's a stunning trove of 1950's pulp sci-fi book covers by British illustrator Ron Turner.

⬅ 151 classic images in the gallery, and well worth a peek!

4. It was sad and surprising to hear this week of the passing of comics writer Steve Gerber, creator of Howard The Duck and other memorable characters - -

- - but it was heartening to see how many folks acknowledged his passing and his special achievements.

I grew up reading comics. By the end of my grammar school years I was a collector, mostly interested in the DC stuff.

In junior high I succumbed to some peer pressure and dutifully did time as a Marvel Zombie.

I recall a couple of my friends seemed relieved that I had joined them 'in the fold' - - until
Howard The Duck came out, and I found those comics more enjoyable than Spidey or the FF or Powerman & Iron Fist. That'll teach 'em...

I think I was just old enough at the time for Steve Gerber's mixture of social commentary, existential dilemmas and super-hero lampoonery to strike me as being more charged, more subversive, just plain more interesting than the usual crop of spandex soap operas.

As my typically angst-ridden teen years crept up on me, I could sympathize with Howard feeling 'trapped in a world he never made' and gaped at by hairless apes dumbfounded by the obvious - -
'Y-y-you're a - - Duck!!'

Steve Gerber's comic book work often stood apart from the mainstream, and in the best possible way.

Now he's checked out at age 60, and that's just wrong.

The Comics Reporter ran a nice remembrance of Gerber, as did his friend and associate
Mark Evanier at his 'News From Me' site.
Evanier has also commandeered Steve Gerber’s Online Journal for the time being, and is fielding comments and tributes, and posting pertinent links.

5. Some time ago I wrote about Dave DeVries' 'Monster Engine', and posted links to his on-going art projects in which he paints realist interpretations of children's drawings. (follow link)

On a tangent, please allow me to now point you towards 'Wonderland' - - ➤
a 2005 project from
South Korean photographer Yeondoo Jung.

Jung takes children's drawings and stages photographic realizations of them, with often fascinating results.


Perhaps of interest to either artist is the scan of this page ⬇ I found in an old comic book published by Gold Key back in 1969... (click on image to ENLARGE)

6. Okay - - Any of you movie geeks film enthusiasts out there ready to play a game?
(Bear with me here)

Earlier this week my friend Topic and I were arguing about discussing movies, and we wound up inventing a 'keywords' game while consulting IMDb.

(Everyone in the world is familiar with The Internet Movie Database by now, right? Okay, good. Thought so...)

We're calling this simple game Plotzee™, and we've been having great fun exploring its intricacies.
Now maybe you can take a turn.

IMDb's huge database allows for cross-referencing of many different tags for each film it lists, giving each user scads of criteria to search however they'd like.

Topic and I were chuckling at some of the strings of 'plot keywords' associated with each movie listed at IMDb.
Sometimes the words string together into some sort of sordid example of abstract poetry.

Before long we'd concocted the game in its simplest 2-player form - -

Using IMDb, one person finds a movie and keeps it secret, then slowly reads the list of plot keywords until the other person guesses the name of the movie.
Add scoring, time limits and rotation as you see fit, or just keep it simple.

Yeah, Topic and I 'invented' it ourselves, but that doesn't mean that such a thing doesn't already exist.

We came up with group variations for more players - - Team play: First team to score 5 correct answers wins. Or 'death march' marathon play: The game doesn't end until EVERY player has had 3 correct answers.

Online I found evidence of pre-existing written keyword 'tests' picking out 3 keywords for each film, but that removes the 'self-doubt' and 'red herring' factors that can make the game diabolically fun.

Some field studies revealed that a longer list doesn't necessarily make the guessing easier - - as often as not it can make it harder.
There's a nifty concentration and fixation challenge that can occur as you're trying to guess the movie being described.

Taking the pictured listing for the film 'Boogie Nights' as an example, while listening to the plot keywords a guesser might perhaps fixate on 'Love At First Sight' and 'Graphic Sex Scene', but (somehow) mentally gloss over 'Porn Star' and 'Male Frontal Nudity' as they wrack their brains.

The guesser could also be thinking 'Boogie Nights' early on, but hesitate when confronted with a relatively minor detail they'd forgotten, like 'Doughnut Shop' or 'Underwater'.

"Okay, I give up. What is it?"

"The movie is 'Boogie Nights'."

"I was going to SAY 'Boogie Nights'!!"

"Then why didn't you??"

So try Plotzee™ for yourself. Feel free to report back on your findings and your variations. You may find that a knowledge of movies isn't the part that makes the game more challenging than it appears!

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