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May 2011 Archives

May 2, 2011

On Fringe

Olivia Dunham might be the worst fictional FBI agent in history. That, in and of itself, doesn’t annoy me. It doesn’t bother me that she — especially in this season — rarely investigates anything, rarely figures anything out using her alleged investigative prowess, and frequently has reams of expository dialogue spoonfed to her by Walter Bishop, Peter Bishop, Nina Sharp, and now even the mysterious bowling alley owner played by Kevin Corrigan (Sam Weiss Gamgee). It doesn’t bother me that she repeatedly learns things she should already know, and her eyes boggle as if her world has just come crumbling down. It doesn’t bother me that she can’t remember, as recently as three weeks ago, discovering that pathological terror is her link to her MAGICAL POWERS when she desperately needs to use said powers and is, one could argue, pathologically terrified vis-à-vis the impending end of the world.

What bothers me is the show’s repeated insistence that she’s great at what she does. She’s special, according to Walter. She’s one of the finest agents Broyles has had the pleasure of ineffectually monitoring from a safe distance. Nina Sharp believes she’s brilliant. Peter Bishop has inexplicably fallen in love with her. All of this despite repeated demonstrations of raging, comical incompetence, without counterbalancing her blunders with equal moments of actual brilliance.

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Posted by D. B. Bates at 11:55 AM | Print-Friendly | Comments (0) | Blog Posts, Become What You Are, Pop Culture Rants

May 5, 2011

Letter to Representative Peter J. Roskam (R-IL)

I try not to get on my political soapbox on the blog, because who cares about my political views? You come here for vaguely profane stories about my inability to get along with college classmates, and whiny rants about 3-D. However, my representative is constitutionally obligated to care what I think about politics, in that he cares enough to enslave interns to read letters for him, code them by subject, and start sending form letters related to that topic.

Not along ago, Congressman Roskam sent me a letter explaining his tough stance on the current budget problems. You can read it here. I found the letter so profoundly offensive in its hypocrisy that I felt compelled to respond. You can read the letter I sent to him today after the jump.

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Posted by D. B. Bates at 5:19 PM | Print-Friendly | Comments (0) | Blog Posts, Become What You Are, Politics

May 6, 2011

The Beaver

Finally, The Beaver comes to Chicago…

Honestly, the script exists in a recess of my brain where scripts that are unmemorably bad reside. It should be the sort of script that makes me say, “What the fuck — when did I read that?” when I glance through old coverage samples. Thanks to its memorable gimmick, I can’t forget it quite so easily. I didn’t like the script, and I was fairly shocked to find it was regarded as the “most favorite” (not to be confused with “best,” whatever that means) Black List script in 2008, but it didn’t contain the rage-inducing qualities of a Butter or a Fuckbuddies (later renamed No Strings Attached).

Read "The Beaver" »

Posted by D. B. Bates at 10:20 AM | Print-Friendly | Comments (0) | Blog Posts, Become What You Are, Pop Culture Rants

May 7, 2011

Podcast: Subject to Change, Episode 3: Aide to the Infirm, Not in 2-D

In the most juvenile move in the history of this site, Tarini and I decide to stage a dramatic reading of key scenes from the funniest bad script to cross our paths in quite some time. Enjoy! [MP3, 64kbps, mono, 69:37]

Press the “Play” button to listen.

Posted by D. B. Bates at 11:19 PM | Print-Friendly | Comments (0) | Become What You Are, Podcast: Subject to Change

Podcast: Subject to Change, Episode 4: Just to Reach You, Juliana

[Disclaimer: The title sounds totally creepy in retrospect, but it’s a play on lyrics from the Beatles’ song, “Julia.”]

After chiding Tarini from not reading the blog, I tell the story of my Skype session with my rock idol, Juliana Hatfield. To put it into some context and encourage new fans, I perform four of Ms. Hatfield’s songs: “My Darling,” “Table for One,” “My Baby,” and “Bad Day.” [MP3, 64kbps, mono, 56:58]

In an outtake from my comically long Skype session with Tarini, I perform The Beach Boys’ most depressing song, “‘Til I Die.” [MP3, 64kbps, mono, 3:16]

Press the “Play” button to listen.

Posted by D. B. Bates at 11:22 PM | Print-Friendly | Comments (0) | Become What You Are, Podcast: Subject to Change

May 9, 2011

Qubit

Over the weekend, I read an article in The New Yorker about quantum computing. I don’t claim to know anything about anything, but I know this: the idea that computing can be founded on a principle wherein a quantum bit — qubit — can represent both zero and one, instead of one or the other, using atomic superpositioning is fucked up. The article postulated that the entire foundation of quantum computing is predicated on the notion that the Many Worlds Theory is true, which is fucked up. I don’t know if anything in the article is true, but it simultaneously blew my mind and terrified me.

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Posted by D. B. Bates at 12:28 PM | Print-Friendly | Comments (0) | Blog Posts, Become What You Are

May 17, 2011

Iconic Character Problem

[I forgot to post this yesterday. Oops.]

I want to talk about a little film called Hesher, which last weekend saw a quiet release to mostly awful reviews. I hate to feel like I’m patting myself on the back, but I found it sort of amusing and delightful that many of the reviews I read for Hesher cited the same problem I did when I covered the script: Hesher’s a cipher, full of ambiguous statements and questionable behavior, with no clear motivation for why he says the things he does or acts the way he does, or — more importantly — why anyone should care.

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Posted by D. B. Bates at 9:09 AM | Print-Friendly | Comments (0) | Screenwriting Articles, Become What You Are

May 23, 2011

Sandra Bullock: Clinically Insane Like a Fox

Sandy, the aurora’s rising behind us, the pier lights our carnival life forever
Oh, love me tonight, and I promise I’ll love you forever…

I came to a very important conclusion after Tarini dared me to watch All About Steve: Sandra Bullock is either slyly demented or batshit crazy. I’m not usually one to dish on celebs or speculate on the mental well being of Hollywood actors, but this… This is different. I’m not some paparazzo hiding in her bushes, trying to find out if she feasts on the flesh of the recently deceased. This is simply an outside observer looking at her oeuvre and coming to the only obvious conclusion.

The last two Bullock movies I saw — All About Steve and The Proposal (both of which Tarini dared me to watch, because she hates me, and I watched because I hate myself) — are the sorts of films where every single scene prompts the most vital question in all of cinema: “Why?” When the closing credits finally scroll up, it prompts the second most vital question in all of cinema: “What the fuck did I just watch?”

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Posted by D. B. Bates at 6:38 PM | Print-Friendly | Comments (0) | Blog Posts, Become What You Are, Pop Culture Rants

May 31, 2011

Old Man on the Back Porch

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve watched a shitload of movies that I’ve slowly accumulated via 100% legal, non-piratical means — a heady combination of movies I’ve always wanted to see, movies I feel like I have to see despite a lack of interest (e.g., Up in the Air, An Education), and movies I’m revisiting after many years (like, for instance, 2001: A Space Odyssey — not a big Kubrick fan, but I saw the movie when I was eleven and hated it; maybe I’ll like, or at least appreciate, it now).

As an initiative for my reader novel, I’ve been flirting with the idea of including an appendix of Script to Screen-style articles, posing my initial thoughts upon reading a script versus the final product. A requirement of that, naturally, is to watch some of the movies that I’ve covered that have been released. I’ve already seen a handful for the aforementioned Script to Screen, but plenty of them have infinitely more dubious fates than a January theatrical release — plenty of them have either gone DTV in the U.S. or haven’t seen release here at all. That’s not necessarily indicative of anything, quality-wise, but it’s certainly not the best sign when major stars and Oscar-winning actors show up in movies that can’t even get released in their native country.

Read "Old Man on the Back Porch" »

Posted by D. B. Bates at 1:50 PM | Print-Friendly | Comments (0) | Blog Posts, Become What You Are, Pop Culture Rants