Who has got the cure for the sit-at-home blues? Ask Dr Grabthar. Now with bigger, easier to read font!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Slow Death to Grabthar

Hi kids,

Due to my new gig at Public Address, this blog may suffer through a long cold winter.

Feel free to pop over to the new digs


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I'm one in thirteen

So there was this story this morning that New Zealanders had the highest rate of bloggers in a recent survey of internet use across 15 countries. Apparently one in thirteen New Zealanders has a blog.

I imagine that this will be discussed on Public Address today because they got a soundbite (textbite?) from Russell Brown: "the ability to hide your identity on the internet meant people could share information they might not share in person".

So the 1/13 stat is pretty cool (although I wonder if it's inflated by people like me who have more than one blog), but the really interesting stats is the percentage of New Zealand web-users who have a blog by ethnicity:

  • Asian 31%
  • Pasifika 12%
  • Pakeha 6%
  • Maori 2%
As a researcher I want more data before I draw conclusions, but as a factoid (alternate version) it's kinda neat.

Other info from the study: of the 78 percent of New Zealanders who use the internet:
  • 66 percent have broadband.
  • 77 percent check their email every day.
  • 28 percent use social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook.
  • 25 percent have made a friend online, and half of those have gone on to meet an online friend in person.
  • 13 percent maintain their own website.
  • 10 percent have a blog.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Ah San Diego

So I'm browsing Wired.com's images of costumed Comic-Con attendees.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

It's Not OK.

Yesterday's DomPost had a large front page article reporting that TVNZ sports presenter Tony Veitch had assaulted former partner Kristin Dunne-Powell, who needed hospital treatment and was confined to a wheelchair.

The Dominion Post also revealed that Veitch later agreed to pay her more than $100,000 to guarantee her silence. Whether or not she was the one who broke the silence or not has yet to be revealed.

And then last night on TVNZ news during the sport their was Veitch doing his thing.

This morning Stuff is reporting the TVNZ knew of the assault and that they are treating the matter as a private one for Veitch. So he will be keeping his job.

Now, if we assume everything we've heard is true (and currently there is nothing that would suggest otherwise) I'm quite surprised Vietch is still on-air. Because you know what this reminds me of? Clint Brown.

Clint Brown was an arrogant, loud mouth television sports presenter whose ego gave him a character that made him popular (not unlike many other sports presenters). He wasn't great, you might not want him to be your friend, but he was alright as a sports presenter.

Then, one night in Taupo, he got drunk, got punched, abused a taxi driver, and was subsequently stood down from TV3 news. He later resigned and the last we saw of him was this (now infamous) shot of him peering out the door at a reporter. He now does radio and some minor television work.

So why doesn't TVNZ stand Veitch down? He's obviously got some stuff to sort out now so why do I have to see him presenting sport to me? (Of course I could just switch to TV3 and I may do).

Like everything in television this is a PR exercise. And currently I don't think they've handled it well. And, as evil as this sounds, sports presenters are a dime-a-dozen. Throw this one under the bus and get another one. Or run those "It's Not Ok" family violence ads directly before the start of the sports news.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

I blame the gorilla

Isn't amazing what advertising can do?

Just recently New Zealand television has been playing the Cadbury Gorilla ad you can see below:

The unintended consequence of that? From the New Zealand iTunes Store:

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

It's meme, baby!

If there's something I love it's a MEME!

And I just came across a great one from Thoughts from Kansas:

  1. Take out your iPod (or Zune, I guess...really, who buys a Zune?)
  2. Press shuffle songs.
  3. Answer the following: a) How many songs before you come to one that would absolutely disqualify you from being President? b) What is that song?
So here goes:
  1. It's Enough - Sleater Kinney - (Dig Me Out)
    I think that while some of their stuff is political I'd be safe with this one
  2. Float On - Modest Mouse - (Good News for People Who Love Bad News)
    Seems fairly innocent, in fact it seems quite optimistic, this could be my campaign song!
  3. Been a Son - Nirvana - (Incesticide)
    A certainty to increase the female vote. Ok, I suppose it could hurt me in the conservative areas
  4. Do the Bus a Bus - Busta Rhymes - (Turn it Up! Best of...)
    "Presidential candidate listens to the hippity hop music!" Then again Obama has Jay-Z on his iPod. On the other hand this song does have a line about "hot bitches"
Following that was a long string of politically boring songs the dogiest of which was Tiptoe by Goldfrapp.

It took me until What Makes a Good Girl Go Bad? by the Flametrick Subs before I got to something that could cause me to lose the presidential race.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I'm actually quite busy at the moment but I suppose I can take the time to post some snaps:

This is the bottle of 20yr old rum (surrounded by some of my Tiki paraphernalia) that Amy bought me as a surprise.

We also bought a Wii Fit on the weekend. It lets you set a goal BMI and fitness to work towards. But if you gin weight or otherwise don't progress towards your goal, like I did last night, it asks you why you didn't.

This is a photo of me lying to the Wii (not pictured, me crying)

To the left of this pic is my laptop and to the right is Amy's new teeny tiny Eee PC.

lil computer

It is very small and very cool.

And finally a very cute photo of my cat. Awwwwwww

cute jedi

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Monday, June 09, 2008


I was going to write a rant about the Holden-owning IT manager from Karori who is interviewed about the rising cost of petrol on the front of today's DomPost. His reaction was that soon prices will be "out of reach" and that will mean that "prices will have to drop".

But I'm not going to rant. If this IT manager can't figure out any other solution than prices having to drop, then he deserves to pay stupid prices for his petrol. If he was a farmer, a courier, a plumber, someone who needs to drive a lot or lives far from public transport, he would have had a little bit of support from me (a little). But he isn't.

He is a blind man oblivious to the change around him.

Gone are my days of ire for these folk. It has since been replaced with a strange pity for their snow blindness towards the death of an old way of life.


There was an "interesting" headline on the BBC today:

'Twelve die' in Algerian blasts

The quote marks are there apparently because it is not known exactly how many people died. surely they could construct a more grammatically correct headline though I mean this is the "BBC".

Saturday, June 07, 2008


As seen on Mike's blog and Martha's Flickr:

Here's how it works:

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd's mosaic maker).

There's a Flickr group you can add it to, as well.

The Questions:

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One Word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name. (kid version: favorite animal?)

Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

Here's my pic (and if you're curious the answers to the questions go horizontally):

My mosaic creation

1. Hadyn's Tiki Bar, 2. Escape, 3. Otumoetai College Field, 4. Autumn walk, 5. Dita 6, 6. Zombies, 7. The neon lights, 8. Adam And Eve On A Raft, And Wreck 'Em, 9. Day 106 - I am a librarian, 10. IMG_8118, 11. A North Philadelphia bullet, takes a mother's son away, 12. The first annual Wellingtonista awards

Thursday, June 05, 2008

pickle me this?

Given that this is the first post I've put up in a while I thought I'd make it a bit "esoteric" (literally "of the teric").

I have come to the conclusion that what sandwiches need (and hence the world too) is gherkins. The crunchy brine soaked acceptable little versions of cucumbers are fantastic! I never understood the reason people would remove them from MacDonald's hamburgers (adding to my "people are stupid" theory).

Anyway I just had a fantastic beef, cheese and gherkin sandwich from Green Land (the cafe not the Land). the only thing that sullied the experience was the cucumbers that had been slipped in. Ick!

I love pickles, hate the cucumbers they are made from. This is because I am a very complex person.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Consolation Prize?

So I applied for a new job. It was a new role and something different to what I've done for the last five years, but in a direction I really want to head. I don't particularly want to leave my current job (in fact I'm very happy where I am, or will be once I get Gmail back)

After all the interviews and reference checks, it came down to me and someone else. So a 50/50 chance right? Well I got the call today, that it wasn't me. Stink one. They told me that we were so evenly matched they made the decision based on the "little things".

So the main reason I didn't get the job: because they thought I would be frustrated by the lack of creativity in the job.

So I don't know whether to feel bad or not. Did I just dodge a bullet?

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Mind the Gap

I don't watch a lot of TV these days, well I do but it's usually from friends in the US (ahem).

But one show I do watch is the Simpsons. The latest series is screening on TV3 at the moment, then suddenly one Sunday night, it wasn't. There was some movie instead. And then the same happened the next week too.

"What the fuck", I said, "that seemed like a short season". Instead what's going on is this:

To combat the rise of people downloading TV shows to watch whenever they want, the local stations are (commendably) getting the most popular shows from the states very soon after they screen there. This means instead of having to wait a full year (as we have in the past) we only have to wait, say, a week for the latest episode of Lost (sadly we are still two seasons behind here on shows like Dexter, watch Dexter btw, it's awesome! Where was I? oh yes!).

This shorter wait means people are less likely to get impatient and download the show. But the downside is that we now have to put up with a new phenomenon: the season gap. The gap is the bit in the American tv season when they show recaps etc. It's also why the "big" 22 episode shows seem to have a big climax in the middle.

So basically I now know what's up and am less likely to swear at the TV... but only a little less likely.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


O great and powerful Hivemind please help me!

I have been given two Rose's chocolates as a token of thanks. But separated from the box I have no way of identifying the contents of the shiny wrapper.

The first was easy, in a bright green wrapper it is marked (much like the Poison Arrow Frog) as containing mint (possibly pepper, hopefully spear).

The other is somewhat of a mystery and it is in this that I seek your guidance O wise and benevolent Hivemind (please see fig 138 below)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Man I wish I could draw...

Originally uploaded by Dr.Monster.
Coz I would totally draw something like this!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Video for Amy

This is just an example to help Amy with her blog.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


You can't see the film, but here's a film that says you can't see the film.

Australia: slow on the uptake

Congratulations to Queensland Governor Quentin Bryce, women's and indigenous rights advocate, lawyer, and former federal sex discrimination commissioner. She is to become Australia's first (first!) female Governor General.

Normally I wouldn't care who the Governor General of Australia was (I can barely remember who the New Zealand one is) but the fact that it took until 2008 (220 years!) before they had a woman in the role is pretty astounding. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said:

I think it's a great reflection on the fact that modern Australia is about the proper role of women in our society.
We're nearly a decade into the 21st century, when did this "modern Australia" thing start? Is it Australia 2.0?

I'm really glad that in New Zealand we have a large number of women in high positions and have done for a long time*. And I hate it when I hear about people complaining that we are becoming "feminised" by it. For some reason being masculinised is ok though.

Also, just as an aside, the Herald headline says "Finally, the Aussies embrace girl power". "Girl Power" as it has become (rather than where it actually originated) has nothing to do with empowering women and everything to do with increasing the spending power and marketability to/of young women and girls.

*I know the glass ceiling is still very much in place.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Small town memories

My Mum just emailed to say she'd been talking to an old school friend of mine. He's back working in New Zealand and has a wife, a kid and another on the way.

The timing made me laugh a little though, in that I've just purchased a large amount of music from my youth. Including the complete Nirvana discography. Nirvana was the music we used to listen to while we got... to doing our home work and going to bed early (you never know who reads blogs these days).

It's funny how, although I haven't listened to Nirvana for a really long time, I can remember all the songs and a surprising amount of the lyrics.

Saturday, April 05, 2008


I don't wish to slight the wonderful field of music journalism (writing about idiots, by idiots, for idiots) but I'm getting kind of annoyed by the reviews I've been reading about the new REM album Accelerate.

The reviews themselves are fine and completely correct about the album. It's good and reminds you of earlier REM work (circa Green).

However, it is NOT their best album "since Automatic for the People", which is pretty much what every review says.

New Adventures in Hi-Fi was a brilliant trip to the edge of alt-country and a spectacular follow-up to the harder Monster (an album I liked but can see why others wouldn't). I haven't seen a single review that even mention New Adventures, which makes me think that perhaps they are judging the new album only on REM's most famous work.

At this point I'm going to stop before I become a raving fanboy. But I just wanted to speak my peace on this.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Back off man! I'm a scientist.

I can now unequivocally state that Ghostbusters is not as funny for me when I listen to it in French or German. I managed to chuckle once when it was in Spanish.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Walking to work the other day I saw this "meat is murder"-style poster:

we're all nazis

I hope they don't include Hitler in that, he was a vegetarian.

And in a similar vein, I discovered that I would be able to feed 11 cannibals, which makes me feel useful:

How many cannibals could your body feed?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Feeling ill

In recent weeks some stories have come out of Britain that have involved youth and me feel physically ill.

The first was a story about a mob of 2000 (estimated) drunks youths descending on a party and completely destroying the house. Tearing it to pieces while the owners and police stood by helpless.

The second was the story of the woman slipped date rape drugs and then gang raped in front her children. The offenders videoed the whole thing, her children can be heard in the background.

The third came through today. A 15year old is charged with kicking a 20 year old girl to death because "she dressed like a goth".

She begged them to stop, but was kicked and punched too and they were both left unconscious, with her injuries described as so bad it was difficult at first to tell what sex she was.
Maybe it's because I'm getting older, but these stories really effect me.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Life, or rather Death, very nearly imitates Art

Yes, I know that's a terrible post title.

Lucy Liu, actress and totally hot, has said that she would like to be cryogenically frozen after she dies.

Of course those who are a little bit more learned know that Lucy Liu will have her head preserved forever in a jar. (Her body will be replicated as love-bots too, so there's always hope).

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Get fucked Marc Ellis!

$12,000! That'll do for a start, next up: a kick in the nuts.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Just in case I had any free time (which I don't): The Adventures of Hadyn Green

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

OMG! This TV presenter is BATMAN!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I am NSFW (but this post is!)

So guess who accidentally wore an inappropriate t-shirt to work today?

If you guessed me (by which you meant me not you), you'd be right!*

I bought a new Cleatis Preston shirt at the Paris Texas sale yesterday. It had a cool Asian-style demon on the front wearing a truckers cap and surrounded by stereo equipment and other decoration.

Cool, I thought and, after showing Amy, innocently purchased the shirt.

Fast forward to today when I wear my brand new shirt to work. Glancing at myself in the bathroom mirror (ok, checking out my new shirt in the bathroom mirror) I notice something, the "decoration" is actually cannabis leaves! And they're all over the damn thing!

I scurry out of the office to meet Amy for lunch. I can see she's looking more closely at my shirt. "Um, is that...?" "yes" "Oh, and he's smoking a doobie too!" "what!"

That's right, the demon has a giant joint (or marijuana cigarette) hanging out of his mouth. Sigh. Hence I have been wearing my sweatshirt at work despite the warm temperatures in my office.

The shirt's artist, by the way, is a guy called Spanky from Thailand and I really like his stuff (note: my the design for my tshirt is close to the bottom)

*just to clarify it was me, not you, that wore the inappropriate shirt, unless you did too.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bang Bang

One thing that bothers me in films is when there is a stand-off with guns (or rather one character has a gun and other does not), someone will, in order to emphasise a point, cock their gun.

Now I know nothing about guns so i have to ask: what does cocking the gun do? If it means the gun can now be fired then why was the second character worried before? If it means the gun can be fired faster then, again, what's the point? Is the difference between half a split second and a split second that noticeable in a gunfight?

I just saw this particular scene standard in the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie. It was possibly the worst use of it as the pistol involved was an old pirate version that requires the hammer to be cocked in order to fire at all. So when the scene starts the pistol is only dangerous as a blunt instrument.

So why is it always in films? Because it always has been, because it's a good expression point in the middle of a scene, because ... because ...

... actually if I could answer that I could write a formula for film cliches.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

More music

In a continuation, here are the songs I listened to on my way home (not having a great day mood wise, still the sun and the rhythmic jellyfish I watched for a few minutes was very relaxing).

Real Gone Daddy by Jim Flaherty’s Caravan [Rockin Bones]

Oh Yeah! by Baby Joe [Baby Joe]

Everything Man by Talib Kweli [Ear Drum]

Happy Anniversary by Little River Band [Greatest Hits]

What’s Mine is Yours by Sleater Kinney [The Woods]

Pilots by Goldfrapp [Felt Mountain]

Whiskey Bottle by Uncle Tupelo [No Drepression]

Soul Time Strikes Back by Supergroove [Postage]

Dangerous by Busta Rhymes [Turn it Up!]

My Friend by Groove Armada [ The best of…]

Ex Factor by Lauryn Hill [The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill]

Canards versus Cuntards

I'm not in a very good mood today.

Le Canard Noir removed by quacks
(story not as funny as pun suggests)

My Morning Walk

You don’t care but here is an iPod shuffle list that I had this morning on the way to work. I accidentally hit play instead of select and then instead of selecting the playlist I wanted I let the iPod decide what I should listen to. It was a good wee list too and made the morning a bit nicer.

Unguided by The New Pornographers [Challengers]

Take on Me by A-ha [Searching High and Low]

Garden by Pearl Jam [Ten]

I’m so Ronery by Trey Parker and Matt Stone [Team America: World Police soundtrack]

Stadium Blitzer by The Gourds [Stadium Blitzer]

October Song by Amy Winehouse [Frank]

Bum Like You by Robyn [Robyn]

Breath by Pearl Jam [Singles soundtrack]

Peppermint Twist by Joey Dee and the Starlighters [Billboard Top 100 1963(?)]

Anti-Gay Phone Call part 2 by Eugene Mirman [a comedy piece and well worth listening to]

Dirty Man by Joss Stone [The Soul Sessions]

Juggle Tings Proper by Roots Manuva [Brand New Second Hand]

Candy by Iggy Pop [A Million in Prizes]

If you are a pedant or a stalker you can tot up all the times of those tracks and figure out how long it took me to walk to work this morning.

I also dodged a bullet in that the next song was Central Plateau by Twinset [Flavour Country] and while I like Twinset (and they are very nice live) I just don’t like that album at all (which does beg the question, why is it on my iPod?)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Finn Higgins

Someone I know is missing, any help would be awesome.

Details at the Wellingtonista.

New Depths for Bad Remakes

I thought I’d have a listen to the “new” Thriller. Big mistake.

25 years ago, Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones put together the greatest album ever. Ever. This year, as a tribute to this great accomplishment, Thriller has been re-released. And what do you do when your re-release something? That’s right you add remixes.

Perhaps it was his recent legal troubles, perhaps it was his creepy weirdness, but Jackson’s collaborations (and it does sound like he may have been in the studio for some of these) seem poorly chosen. Anyway here’s what you get:

First up you get some unreleased Vincent Price audio which is awesome, though mainly because it’s Vincent Price asking if you can “dig it?”.

The next four songs are a slog as Jackson collaborates with the worst bits of Black Eye Peas (remember when they were good?) Will.I.Am and Fergie. That tells you how good the tracks are. Will.I.Am turns The Girl is Mine into a one-sided affair where Michael Jackson sings and then Will just says how she loves how he “rocks”.

Akon shows up for Wanna be Startin’ Somethin’ and turns it into a cover which is ok, except that it’s a bad cover.

I had high hopes for the Kanye West Billie Jean remix but…it just falls short of what it shouldv’e been. And Kanye can’t help but add in his own vocals but instead of owning a verse or two he just throws in a few off hand “uh”s, “yeah”s and “number one”s.

Then the last track is For All Time. A track that wasn’t good enough for the album 25 years ago, so why add it now?


In the meantime I’ve also been listening to Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool. It’s much better. As is Daft Punk’s Alive 2007.

Also check out Daft Punk and Kanye West performing at the Grammys. Too fucking cool, check out the “Tron” suits.

Friday, February 15, 2008

New Depths of Bad Journalism

Unsurprisingly this comes from the Herald:

An image from Mars taken by NASA's Sprint Rover shows an image that resembles a figure walking among the planet's rocks.

A magnified version of the image has been posted on the internet. Bloggers have been debating whether the image points to evidence of alien life on the red planet.

The so-called "Martian Bigfoot" has been around for weeks now and was roundly dismissed by bloggers, not "debated". Unless you count conspiracy theory loonies.

See the Bad Astronomy Blog for all the details (also note the date of the post, Jan 21).

But Jeebus, Herald, get your shit together!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Man of the Year

“He’s connected, a good conversationalist, interesting, well-read, opinionated, accomplished, well traveled and has a healthy net worth,”

Of course you know who the above quote is about: Marc Ellis (that’s why he couldn’t spell “travelled”).

Something fishy is going on here. For the last two years Marc Ellis has been named “Man of the Year” by M2 magazine (somewhere between Maxim and GQ but for kiwis, so it’s bound to be good right?). In 2006 he was voted in by readers of M2, described as the emerging kiwi men. “Marc Ellis is not only the Best New Zealand Man as chosen by the emerging man, he’s the perfect example of one… But as past indiscretions have shown, he’s not perfect – something that helps him inspire such empathy and respect from other New Zealand men.”

And then he won again this year. In a year when Flight of the Conchords are the hottest thing in New Zealand and around the world, having won and been nominated for multiple awards including Salon.com’s Sexiest Men line-up.

Ellis’ contributions last year were to advertise his various ventures. Did he actually do anything that wasn’t just self-aggrandising stunts?

This is so wrong it’s suspicious. I’m not accusing M2 of picking Ellis for some financial reason, but I’m thinking that something is (how do you say?) up.

Then again maybe M2 just has the wrong impression of its readers: [our readers, the emerging man] will go to the cricket to have a few Tuis with his mates and hang out in the terraces, then scrub up to go to Cirque du Soleil with his wife that night and have a Heineken at the bar.

Drunks who will actively drink Tui all day and then show up drunk to a night out with “the missus” and promptly go to the bar and order a Heineken because they think it’s a fancy beer, then make “witty” comments throughout the performance. Yep, that sounds like a Marc Ellis type to me.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Invisible Ferry

Invisible Ferry
Originally uploaded by hadyn.green.
When LOLcats spill over into real life. You'll have to look very closely at the sign to pick it up

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Insurance Ads = Funny

And with a continuing theme of funny videos (don't worry this won't become a trend here). This one actually, honest to Jeebus, made me LOL (in a cafe which was embarrassing).

[via Spare Room]

Monday, January 28, 2008

Authority offically calls Ellis a cock.

If you’re a long time reader of this blog you’ll know my policy on Marc Ellis and his associates. Basically we here at the Hammer (i.e. me) think he’s a cock.

So it comes as no surprise that an ad featuring Ellis, for a company partially owned by Ellis, has been found to be "crude" and "sexual". Marc Ellis is only sexual if he can also be crude.

The ad is one a series for Ellis’ and friends juice company. The first one was banned for depicting children using fireworks in a very unsafe manner. This one has been banned because it showed children spying on woman sunbathing nude and then squeezing lemons.

Ellis’ company defended the ad by saying some people might not “get it”, because, you know, Ellis is all about the highbrow humour.

To be fair (and I’m anything if I’m not fair) the company did say they would be placing the ad in adults only slots from now on. The Advertising Standards Authority acknowledged the move by the company to reclassify the advertisement but still found it to be in breach of three separate broadcasting principles, it didn’t help that the company’s executives giggled after saying “adults only slots”.

Again I’ll ask: how much more of this shit do we have to take?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

I flip Dark Side yo

Ok so as a diversion from my last post, here's something I stumbled upon

Star Wars Gangster Rap - Watch more free videos

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Heath Ledger Found Dead

Wow they are sure taking this viral marketing of The Dark Knight pretty far.

UPDATE: given the anger of the first commenter I'll elaborate. My first thought when I read the BBC article was "OMG, I hope he had finished Batman", which I realised wasn't good. Hence with this post I was hoping to make more of a postmodern* comment about the unreality of "celebrity lives" and how we see even their real lives as entertainment. Sadly I couldn't do it without this explanation. Sorry anonymous commenter.

*or possibly not postmodern

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Late Cloverfield Review

If you haven't seen Cloverfield then I recommend not reading this post (until you do)

So I went to see the highly anticipated monster movie Cloverfield last night last Thursday (I wrote this straight away and then mucked about before posting) with my lady friend, Mr Tibby and his friend Richard. For months and months we have been happily led around at the whim of JJ Abrams and his viral marketing crew. Snapping up any little tidbits of information whether they be right (it is all on handicam) or wrong (see picture below, which is very wrong).

But now I've seen it and I can say that while it didn't live up to all the hype it was a pretty good film and a nice adaptation of the genre.

But do be careful when you see it, the handicam can cause motion sickness.


First what I liked:

The handicam – with the camera placed as it is in a "normal" film the moviegoer is placed into the role of observer; a silent voyeur of the action. With the handicam (manned by Hud) the moviegoer becomes part of the cast. You become just as interested in what is happening behind the camera as with what you can see. Literally: "is there something behind me?"

The monster – The monster is pretty cool. It's not Godzilla, it doesn't hide, it kicks ass and (spoiler) it possibly doesn't die. Also we see the monster as our character, Hud, see him (more on why he's "our character" later).

Themes and Visuals – As we left the cinema I overheard a woman just in front of us say "Well I'd give that a one out of five. The only funny bit was when [a guy in the audience] laughed". This woman was obviously thinking she was going to the latest Scary Movie instalment (called Meet the Spartans btw). Or, more likely, she was expecting some guy in a rubber suit flailing his arms about and maybe giant heroic characters like they had in Predator. Needless to say her comment pissed me off. She's probably the same kind of person who thinks zombies movies are actually about zombies (and not about rampant consumerism or popular culture sickness).

Monster films always capture the fear of the day. Godzilla was the embodiment of the atomic age, with the monster itself being created by a nuclear bomb. Naturally this resonated with 1950’s Japan. Then the Cold War came along and suddenly it was invaders from Mars (the “red” planet) and other monsters that were just stand-ins for communism (see Invasion of the Body Snatchers). The seventies and eighties gave us the aforementioned Zombie movies, the nineties brought more UFOs.

The themes of Cloverfield (which is actually the military's designated name of the monster, for some reason) seem to be rooted in the current American fear of terrorism. The introduction of the monster could be transplanted easily into any film about the terrorist attacks of 2001 (as has been noted by many reviewers). Things explode, buildings collapse, and huge dust clouds roll along the street. People stand stunned in the street and wonder: who has done this to us? And why?

I don’t agree with Russell that it’s “just a movie” and people should get over it, I do agree that no one should get in a tiz about it (though Russell offered no links so I couldn’t say who it was). Part of the reason why this film is so good is that it hits that note in your head. You know that the movie is referencing the events of September 11, 2001 (hell, some the backgrounders are yelling it out) and you keep remembering that as you go through the journey with the characters.

Monster films that don’t have the connection to people through these themes and event don’t capture people as much. Just look at the remake of Godzilla or The Invasion for instant flops; the world wasn’t worried about nuclear warfare in the late 90’s or ideological brainwashing last year. Make it relevant or expect it to flop.

The other theme (for me) is the obvious one of voyeurism. Everyone has cameras and cellphones and are "documenting" the event. The Statue of Liberty's head flies through the air and skids along the street and the first thing that happens is that people take photos of it. Mix that in with the fact that we are watching the action through a handicam and you’ve got the other big phenomenon of the day: YouTube (do you really need a link?).

Given that so much of the marketing for the film was done virally on the internet the format and the voyeurism seemed perfect. Actually as quick aside, I was surprised at the amount of footage from the trailers that turned out to be important scenes in the film.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Most of the points raised by The Bad Astronomy Blog (especially Nitpick 4, but not Nitpick 6). That was easy.

But the thing I really didn’t like was the main character: Rob.

So we have four main characters and two supporting characters. And when I say that I suppose I mean that we have two main characters and six supporters. The two main ones are Rob and Hud (behind the camera, possibly a script in-joke on “heads-up display”), everyone else is just talking cannon fodder.

Rob is, I suppose, the protagonist. But I just couldn’t stand him! He doesn’t care for his friends, like Hud who blindly follows “his main dude” everywhere. All he does is willingly put them in more and more danger. I kept wanting him to die.

For me the protagonist was Hud because, mainly, he was us. I just didn’t like him when they showed his face. His voice was Judge Reinhold (circa Fast Times…) his face was Seth Rogen. So when Hud, died the film ended for me (apart from the cool little “are you watching” wink right at the end).

Also the group are a bunch of rich kids. Rob is 20-something and is off to Japan to be vice-president of a company for goodness sake. Beth, the improbably alive love interest of Rob, is in her father’s apartment overlooking Central Park. I found it really hard to associate with these characters. They weren’t attending a cool party in the city; they were throwing a cool party in the city.

Also it fell into the traditional horror/monster movie problem of no grief shown for those who die. Rob sees his brother die, breaks down on the phone to his Mom (much, much later) and then that’s it. Marlena explodes in front of them and there’s very little emotion, even by Hud who had the “hots” for her. And speaking of that: when they get to the field hospital, why don’t they mention Marlena is badly hurt?

UPDATE: Unsurprisingly The Hater has put it better than I:

3. Human Emotions. I know what you're thinking: If during a terrible disaster you had to tell your mom that her son, your brother, was dead, you probably wouldn't then follow-up that painful news with a lie about being evacuated just so you can go rescue a pseudo-girlfriend who is probably already dead anyway. In fact, talking to your mom would probably make your desire to escape the danger that much stronger. But, whatever. Have you ever had to weigh your family, life, and dead brother against your probably dead pseudo-girlfriend and almost certain death at the hands of an alien monster? No, you haven't. You don't know what it's like till you're the one getting miraculous cell phone service in the subway.

Anyway, it is a really good film and I hope you liked it as much as I did.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sharks: Nature's Media

Remember the Summer of the Shark? And how suddenly there were millions of sharks, all of them out to get you and your family.

Back then sharks were everywhere and… OH MY GOD! SHARK!! SH-SH-SHARK!!! No wait it’s just a bit of wood. Turns out shark attacks were decreasing (much like their numbers) and the whole thing was just a way of getting through a slow news period.

Well New Zealand is having another one of these media beat-up things. Pretty soon we’ll have people going out to kill the sharks, filling the water with chum which will, ironically, attract sharks while the fishermen get drunk. SHARK!!!!

Now even the politicos are in on the act. National leader John Key (SHARK!!!!!) has called for limits on commercial crab pots at popular beaches over the summer, saying they act as "human berley" by attracting sharks to swimming areas.

Naturally the guy setting the pots is not using actual berley made from humans nor even berley for humans. So that is a (SHARK!!!!) misnomer

Mr Key, who just happens to have a holiday home at Omaha, said regulations should be introduced so Ministry of Fisheries officers could stop high-volume use of commercial crab pots on heavily used beaches (during the peak summer period where he holidays) in case they attracted sharks, which they don’t. (SHARK!!!!)

The Department of Conservation has informed Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton that there is no evidence crab pots attract more sharks than would otherwise be there.

But Mr Key said “residents” (Pumpkin Patch owner Greg Muir, who has owned a holiday home at Omaha for seven years) approached him late last month concerned that a fisherman was regularly setting about 40 crab pots.

The two were backed by hard evidence, just kidding (SHARK!!!!). They were backed by Daniel Baturic, president of Orewa's Surf Life Saving Club, who said sharks seemed more prevalent when pots were in the area. And there are more pots in summer when there are more sharks. So perhaps the sharks are increasing the umber of crab pots and bathers not the other way around.

The ministry's inshore fisheries manager John Taunton-Clark said he would track down the fisherman in question and explain the residents' concerns, but was powerless to do any more.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

A list of music (and a bland title)

Hello again friends.

10 days into 2008 and I bring you my first piece of information for the year that you can take away and use (free of charge) in your daily lives: white chocolate toffee pops are awful. There you go, live well my friends.

In other non-news I thought I’d give you a run down of my favourite music of 2007. I did this using the very scientific manner of creating an iTunes playlist of songs released in 2007 and with a rating of 4 or more stars.

The 21 songs (as ordered by play count) are:

  • Candyman – Christina Aguilera (actually this one was a music video I purchased from the iTunes store, but same diff right?)
  • Love Rain (Coffeshop mix) – Jill Scott and Mos Def - Collaborations
  • Rag and Bone – The White Stripes – Icky Thump
  • Catch Hell Blues – The White Stripes – Icky Thump
  • On Call – Kings of Leon – Because of the Times
  • Like I Love You – Maximo Park – Radio 1 Established 1967
  • Trunk – Kings of Leon – Because of the Times
  • I’m Slowly Turning Into You – The White Stripes – Icky Thump
  • All That She Wants – The Kooks – Radio 1 Established 1967
  • Don’t Get Me Wrong – Lily Allen – Radio 1 Established 1967
  • Careless Whisper – Gossip – Radio 1 Established 1967
  • Ray of Light – Natasha Beddingfield – Radio 1 Established 1967
  • My Body is a Cage – The Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
  • Steady As She Goes – Corinne Bailey Rae – Radio 1 Established 1967
  • If You’re Into It – Flight of the Conchords – The Distant Future EP (Business Time would be here too but I didn’t want it on high rotation)
  • Black Thumbnail – Kings of Leon – Because of the Times
  • No No No – Ghostface Killah – Hidden Darts (and this is looking to become my song for summer 08)
  • Stronger – Kanye West – Graduation
  • In the Mood – Talib Kweli – Ear Drum
  • Say Something – Talib Kweli – Ear Drum
  • Country Cousins – Talib Kweli – Ear Drum

All the hip hop is at the bottom because they are fairly new to my collection compared to the other stuff.

I can’t say enough about Radio 1 Established 1967. It’s a brilliant album. The artists were assigned a year between 1967 and 2006 and had to cover one of the top ten songs from Radio 1 in that year. Some covers are brilliant remakes with new styles (Like I Love You, Careless Whisper, All That She Wants), others are straight covers with a good flavour of the new artist (Don’t Get Me Wrong, Ray of Light). Of course some are just awful (as many covers tend to be) like the Streets covering My Song, blech!

Talib Kweli’s Ear Drum may be one of the best albums of the year and definitely the best hip hop album I have heard in a while. And I obviously loved the White Stripes and Kings of Leon new stuff.

Honourable mentions go to Patti Smith, The New Pornographers and Tori Amos.