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December 01, 2011

Pawnee . . . is coming

Applying Game of Thrones-style icons and mottos to the characters of Parks & Rec. The Smart Sandwich, So I guess this is how I spend my time nowadays.

November 30, 2011

"Why I'm saving Manos, The Hands of Fate."

Film collector stumbles onto the workprint of "Manos, The Hands of Fate" before it was butchered in post-processing. Why I’m Saving ‘Manos: The Hands of Fate’ | 'Manos' in HD
I’d been tipped off about an e-bay auction that no one had bid on, probably because the freight was too high. It was boxes upon boxes of 16mm and 35mm film, titles that had lapsed into the public domain, all of which had belonged to a distributor called Emerson Films. Emerson’s properties were familiar to anyone that had watched Mystery Science Theater 3000 back in the day, and on the list a few familiars jumped out at me. Six copies of The Atomic Brain in 16mm. Hamlet in 16mm and 35mm. Two copies of Manos: The Hands of Fate (Wikipedia IMDB) in 16mm. “A piece of film history”, I had thought half seriously, not intending to do much about it. But the more I thought about it the more I was wanting to get back into 16mm collecting, which is a hobby that can have an enjoyable social side to it. Who doesn’t want to host a movie night and show actual film? I e-mailed the seller and made an offer on a small slice of the collection, about what you’d expect to pay for two or three 16mm prints, and offered to pick them up. I’d decided that I’d like to own The Atomic Brain and Manos, assuming they were in good enough shape. I got a reply the next day: “You can have all the boxes… if you choose to eliminate some of them, so be it… (we are) moving to Florida on the 27th, and we don’t want them to be part of the move.” The following Sunday I was driving back from San Diego with my car completely stuffed, a bill of sale tucked onto my dashboard. I had looked at a few reels on a loupe and found them in great shape, with no acidic odor. The one Manos reel I had been able to inspect was a little faded but otherwise good. Considering its rarity, it was well worth the trouble. I looked forward to checking out the others. When I got home, I found the other copy of Manos. Immediately I saw the label, which read “WORKPRINT”. . . .

November 25, 2011

Chris Sims on the secret secular humanism of Scooby-Doo

The whole thing is worth a read. I really enjoy his take on the Scooby gang as skeptics in a world awash in mysticism. Ask Chris #81: Scooby-Doo and Secular Humanism - ComicsAlliance | Comic book culture, news, humor, commentary, and reviews
Because that's the thing about Scooby-Doo: The bad guys in every episode aren't monsters, they're liars. I can't imagine how scandalized those critics who were relieved to have something that was mild enough to not excite their kids would've been if they'd stopped for a second and realized what was actually going on. The very first rule of Scooby-Doo, the single premise that sits at the heart of their adventures, is that the world is full of grown-ups who lie to kids, and that it's up to those kids to figure out what those lies are and call them on it, even if there are other adults who believe those lies with every fiber of their being. And the way that you win isn't through supernatural powers, or even through fighting. The way that you win is by doing the most dangerous thing that any person being lied to by someone in power can do: You think. But it's not just that the crooks in Scooby-Doo are liars; nobody ever shows up to bilk someone out of their life savings by pretending to be a Nigerian prince or something. It's always phantasms and Frankensteins, and there's a very good reason for that. The bad guys in Scooby-Doo prey on superstition, because that's the one thing that an otherwise rational person doesn't really think through. It's based on belief, not evidence, which is a crucial element for the show. If, for example, someone knocks on your door and claims to be a police officer, you're going to want to see a badge because that's the tangible evidence that you've come to expect to prove their claim. If, however, you hold the belief that the old run-down theater has a phantom in the basement, then the existence of that phantom himself -- or at least a reasonably convincing costume -- is all the evidence that you need to believe that you were right all along. The bad guys are just reinforcing a belief that the other characters already have, and that they don't need any evidence before because it's based in superstition, not reason.