Episode 86 – Slasher Flicks (Halloween Special 2010)

October 29, 2010

Halloween is as good a time as any to watch a good, cheesy horror film . Arguably, there isn’t any cheesier horror than a slasher flick horror. Especially that Nightmare on Elm Street with the faces in the pizza. That was pretty cheesy. Actually, Freddy’s face pretty much looks like pizza cheese anyway.

But of course literal cheese isn’t what makes your average slasher flick cheesy. It’s the predictable, over-used clichés and the truly terrible, but not terribly realistic, gory kills. Do film-makers really think anyone believes blood looks like ketchup or is that intentionally part of the fun?

If you’re squeamish though, even the worst slasher flick can provide some chills. Here’s a few things to keep in mind so you don’t jump out of your skin.

  1. If someone opens a door to a closet or fridge, and it blocks the audiences view of the rest of the room, when they close it, the bad guy will suddenly be standing there ominously.
  2. If it’s dark in the house and a character is creeped out and tip-toeing around and the music is swelling then something jumps out at them… relax. It’s just a cat. Or maybe a meat cleaver. But probably a cat or a broom falling out of a closet.
  3. Don’t relax if it’s the first time they’ve killed the bad guy. He’s not dead yet. He’ll get up at least two more times.
  4. Teenagers having sex will be killed. Don’t get attached to them. Probably easy to do as they’re usually total douchebags anyway.
  5. The characters are going to do something stupid that makes no sense. Like going into the abandoned house instead of… doing anything else that isn’t going into the abandoned house. Just accept it.

I hope I didn’t spoil any of the Jason, Freddy or Michael movies for you there. I just wanted you to be prepared.

Since it’s our annual Halloween special, we do something a little special and talk to best-selling sci-fi author David Weber about vampires. Mostly about a certain Vlad Dracula who unexpectedly appears in his new alien invasion novel Out of the Dark.

Does David think Drac sparkles and tries to pick up girls his great-great-great-great granddaughter’s age? You can probably take a wild guess at that one, but you’ll have to listen to find out what the creator of the Honor Harrington series says about vampires, guerilla warfare, star-faring races and kinetic weapons.

Episode 85 – Actor Hurdles

October 15, 2010

Mandi can’t tell Al DeNiro apart from Robert Pacino.

We all have them. Our “deal-breaker” actors who keep us from giving a film a chance. There’s the classic universally vilified actors (the post-scandal Hugh Grants and Mel Gibsons) and the more personal choices (Seth Rogan). This week we try to round-up a list of our most hated thespians.

Top Deal-Breaker Actors:

1: Tom Hanks. His smarmy mug ruins any chance of us ever watching another one of his films. That and the fact he keeps making Dan Brown films.

2: Kevin Kostner. Terrible acting, self-righteous arrogance and really tight jeans are a killer combination.

3: Mel Gibson. Batshit crazy misogynist and racist statements aside, he took a turn for the Costnerian school of acting at some point. Somewhere in the middle of the Lethal Weapon series, I think. When he grew the mullet.

4: DeNiro/Pacino. Seriously. Have either of these guys really put in a good performance (not just playing a caricature of their early roles) since the ’80s? If you said “yes”, remember that lying is a sin. Even if you’re only lying to yourself, you’re going to burn in Hell. But you’ll have company. Pacino and DeNiro are going to be right beside you for their  sin of sloth. Michael Caine and Jack Nicholson will be there too. It’ll be like a party of old, lazy, living cartoons.

5: Will Smith. Not mentioned on the show but a classic example of an actor hurdle. Whereas the other people on this list are “unhurdleable” in most cases, Smith’s performances (like Tom Cruise’s or Bruce Willis’) are usually genuinely enjoyable if we actually force ourselves to watch the films. Which is a very rare occurence.

Ask The Nerds: Re-cast Questionable Content

October 14, 2010

Q: If you could cast QC with real actors, who would you choose? Or, alternatively, if you could cast it with characters from a TV show, which one would you choose and how would you cast them?

A: Friends

Martin = Ross (Neurotic everyman with black hair)|
Faye = Rachel (Wisecracking girl with daddy issues)
Hannalore = Phoebe (Blonde wacko)
Sven = Joey (Really only  in the “ladies man” aspect)
Angus = Chandler (Wisecracker with foot-in-mouth disease)
Dora = Monica (OCD brunette working in the food industry)
Coffee of Doom = Central Perk
Living in same apartment building = Living in same apartment building

Well. It turns out Jeph Jacques basically just recast Friends by hair colour. Never noticed that before. Huh…

Ask Nerd Hurdles anything

Episode 84 – Body Modification and Top 5 Nerd Tattoos

October 13, 2010

Tattoos have always been the ultimate in badass body decoration. Whenever filmmakers want you to instantly know a character is on the cutting edge, they give them some piercings and some tattoos. Ironically, both are things that have been around for thousands of years and are about as cutting edge as eating and breathing.

But does that, and peoples’ obsessions with them, make body modifications generally nerdy? Maybe, maybe not. There certainly are a lot of nerdy tattoos out there and the Interwebs are absolutely rife with nerd tattoo blog posts.

In fact, the examples below (except for #5) were all stolen third or forth hand from other blogs. Where most blogs give you between ten and twenty-five hot girls with Boba Fett sleeves and a million different Nintendo characters, we’ve tried to distill it down to five truly nerdy tats. Tattoos which aren’t merely a full-back Next Generation cast collage or the numbers from Lost or the Triforce symbol, but something especially nerderific.

1: Nerd Pride

Of course, being purveyors of “Nerd Pride” ourselves, we’re partial to anyone who goes the distance and gets a tattoo of the phrase. And if they can make it USB compatible, all the better. Nerd on, brother, nerd on.

2: Scannable Barcode Tattoo

There’s probably more barcode tattoos out there than actual barcodes. Well, no, that’s clearly not the case. But they’re so common now they can hardly be considered nerdy. Douchey, perhaps, especially when they have words like “SLAVE” in the number field. But not really nerdy except in the sense people who get them probably think they’re über-cool when they’re totally über-not.

There are also a lot of binary tattoos out there. Those are pretty nerdy. But this guy has taken things a step further and combined binary with an actual working barcode that produces his name when scanned. That’s actually pretty cool. In a totally über-geeky sort of way. (But, dude, the connector ports have got to go). You can read more about the tat here.

3: Logan’s Run Life Clock

Sci-fi characters, props and logos tattoos are a dime a quintillion. You don’t know how many Darth Vaders, light sabers, Harry Potter lightning bolts and Enterprises I had to look at when researching this post. And yes, they’re all geeky, but pretty unimaginative.

There’s something elegantly nerdy about getting a trompe l’oie costume piece tattooed right onto your body. And what better than the life clock from Logan’s Run? Though iconic to nerds who grew up in the ’70s and ’80s, not everyone is going to get it. This makes it the perfect nerd litmus test (especially when shaking hands!) at parties. There’s probably a whole generation of normies who’d have no idea what a red crystal in the palm of you hand means. On the other hand (pun intended), you’d probably get sick of explaining it after about two months.

Plus that had to be excruciating to get done. I couldn’t have done it. The only way this could be more awesome is if they got it inked in white during their twenties and had the red filled in on their thirtieth birthday. Here’s hoping that was the case.

4: Air Quotes

Anyone who does “air quotes” enough they can legitimize having them tattooed on their fingers is a nerd. Or a frakking douche. I have a feeling this guy has no idea how much of a huge nerd he really is.

5: Courage D20

There are quite a few polyhedral die tats out there (most of them flaming) but this one is a little extra nerdy. It might actually be my favourite nerd tattoo ever. The tat’s owner explains the concept behind it thusly: Inspired in part by the quote from the X-Files episode Jose Chung’s From Outer Space, “I didn’t spend all those years playing dungeons and dragons and not learn a little something about courage!”


Coming To Terms: The Internet is Weird

October 7, 2010

September gave us fewer new weirdo search strings though not fewer over all, just fewer ones we hadn’t seen before. “Zombies weddings”, Christina Aguilera’s Ass” and “Rainbow Darth Vader” are still popular as ever. The internet is a weird place.

“kate libby” red shirt hackers: “Red Shirt Hackers” sounds to me like a Star Trek themed psychobilly band. But no, it’s just a hideous red shirt that Angelina Jolie wears in the movie Hackers. Apparently it’s “iconic” and “awesome” or something. The Internet is a weird place.

“wesley crusher” cock slash: I bet a few people would have liked to slash Wesley’s cock back in the day. And, no, that’s not a euphemism for something pleasurable Mandi would have engaged in. I think they were actually looking for some Wesley/Riker fics. I assume this based on the specific use of the word “cock” (alternate meaning: “dickhead”) and not that the Googler didn’t figure penises would be a given in a Wesley slash.

how to draw a tie fighters: Step 1: Draw an eyeball. Step Two: Stick some open umbrellas on either side of that eyeball. Follow this link to see how to draw a Thai fighter.

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Episode 83 – Battlestar GalacTALKa Series Finale / True Blood

October 5, 2010

Those who’ve listened to the episode already know that we didn’t GalacTALKa about the finale very much. Perhaps not as promised, but pretty much as expected. It wasn’t our fault though. For one thing True Blood is a lot more interesting to talk about. Those are some characters you can sink your teeth into.

Fear not, further talk on the BSG finale, Daybreak, will probably jump its way into future episodes. Perhaps if we ever do a Diana Gabaldon special. Because I will have even less to say about Outlander than Mandi did about the BSG finale. Or exactly the same amount: “It’s fine.” Except that would be a complete lie. I had to put it down at page 76 feeling that it is the antithesis of “fine.”

But in case we never get around to a real breakdown of Daybreak on the podcast, here’s a few thoughts we had.

1) Question: Why didn’t the fans like the finale? I’m not exactly sure I understand what upset people so much. It was, as Mandi said with a slight sigh of resignation, “Fine.”  I didn’t pay a lot of attention to their comments at the time it aired, trying to stay spoiler-free, but now I’m wishing I did.

Because for anyone who actually enjoyed the series for what it was, Daybreak had to be pretty much the perfect finale. Which means it was only “just fine” but still, what did people expect? Did anyone really think the show would suddenly stop being an overly melodramatic soap opera with massive continuity flaws and hackneyed, plot-driven writing?

Perhaps they objected to the completely pointless flashbacks to before the war that slowed the pace down to a near standstill. Those scenes could all have been removed to the betterment of the episode(s). They only served to be pretentious wankery and did little to shed any new light on the characters.

So Apollo and Starbuck almost made-out when Zack was still alive? Is that supposed to be a character revelation that suddenly puts their relationship in perspective? If so, it fails miserably. It doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know about them.

Nor do Roslin’s ill-fated cougar episodes tell us anything more about her lonely, isolated personal life on Caprica. We got all that in the series, the way we should have—from her character development and in the subtext within Mary McDonnell’s portrayal.

Like any prequel, the flashbacks only served to weaken what was already there, not add a new layer of depth. Which is why they were probably so boring to watch. Perhaps, if you’d never experienced a single minute of BSG, they’d have been interesting interludes introducing you to those characters that added context for what was going on in the present. But if so, why the hell were you watching the series finale and not the debut miniseries?

2) It wasn’t nearly as religious as we’d been lead to believe. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it wasn’t religious at all. Instead it was purely mythological, a rehash of a thousand creation myths rolled into one. Based, again, on the outrage of fans at the time, I was expecting a heavy-handed Christian message tacked-on at the end or something.

But no, it was about as sci-fi as anything I’ve read or seen but with a lot less heavy-handed Christ imagery than something like Narnia, The Matrix or even Fifth Element.

Yes, religious beliefs do play a large role in the story for the characters. But religious beliefs play a major role for Bajorans, Vulcans, Klingons, Jedis, and Elves. There is clearly a “God” and “Angels” in BSG, but I expect it’s just some alien race like The Q.

But then, I’m an athiest and if I were confronted with a real life miracle, I’d probably think the same thing.

3) The opera house dream arc makes no sense at all. Well, it makes sense, but it doesn’t come anywhere close to working.

The strength of BSG is supposed to be the plot arc that sweeps over all four seasons. Which would be a great thing if it wasn’t painfully clear that they had no idea where they were headed from the start. The opera house/dream storyline highlights this best.

There is absolutely no point to Roslin’s or Gaius and Caprica Six’s connection to Hera. They don’t really save her. They don’t end up raising her, Athena and Helo are still alive. And beyond that, there ultimately isn’t even any point to Hera’s existence at all. She isn’t the one to point them to Earth, Kara does. Hera doesn’t convince Cavil and Adama to end the war, they more or less work that out on their own. If she doesn’t get eaten by a lion, Hera will probably just grow up to mate with a Neanderthal. Okay, great… So what? So is everyone else. After all the drama surrounding Hera, she ends up having no real significance? If there’s one thing the fans should have been upset about it’s that.

Of course, the writers and producers set themselves up to fail by, at one point or another,  alluding to almost every single character as being a possible Saviour figure. From Kara to Sam to Roslin to Gaius to Hera to Leoben to [insert character name here], they couldn’t all be the one who saves Humanity and Cylonity(?) from extinction.

Unfortunately, the writers didn’t tie the story up well enough so that they all played an equal part. Most of them were dead weight, dragging the plot down, by the time they finally reach Earth.

There’s no small amount of minutiae I could get into, but picking apart BSG’s minutiae is like shooting ducks in a barrel with Galactica’s cannons (which never really seemed to hit much, considering the continuous barrage of death they spewed). The above were the main points I noticed while watching the finale and, really, about all the consideration I wish to ever give the show again.

Perhaps in the future some nit-picking will emerge as we tangent off topic on another show, but for now we’re watching True Blood (which is like a really good Twilight fanfic).

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