Category Archives: Movies

Reboot Camp

Much has been written lately about Steve Jobs’s legacy, and how he transformed not just several industries, but key aspects of our culture itself.

All of this is true, but other recent news has reminded me that he is in some ways not the only technology CEO to leave a mark on the wider culture.

Listening to a story on NPR yesterday about DC’s decision to restart all of its comic books at issue #1, after seeing a trailer the night before for the new new Spider-Man, I can’t help but think that Bill Gates has left some nontrivial marks of his own.

While Windows certainly doesn’t have a monopoly on the notion of rebooting, there’s no denying that it’s the product that introduced wide swaths of the population at large to the notion of resetting things that aren’t working.

Now if only someone could figure out the elusive special key combination for George Lucas and/or Star Wars.

Around the Campfire

or: it’s two in the morning. Why am I staring at the tent’s ceiling?

“What is best in life?”
“An edible homage to a classic film.”
“Wrong! Conan! What is best in life?”
“An edible homage to a classic film — with added caffeine.”
“That is good! That is good.”

Because, really, why stop with the chocolate-sugar rush of regular s’mores when you could score a hyperactivity trifecta?

A Man of Sound Principles

The titular character of Pixar’s upcoming film, WALL•E — which, incidentally, keeps looking more promising with every new trailer released — is voiced by a fellow named Ben Burtt, whom you’ve probably never heard of. I hadn’t, until about a year ago. But I guarantee that, unless you’ve lived under a rock for the last 30 years, you’ve heard his work:

Yep, that’s right. Ben Burtt is the former USC physics graduate student who came up with the sounds for Star Wars, more or less inventing the role of “sound designer” in the process.

Here he describes the serendipitous genesis of his crowning creation — the warm yet menacing hum of “an elegant weapon, for a more civilized age”: has a rundown of some of his other creations; the frequently workaday nature of their basis only serves to highlight his gift for making the ordinary seem wondrous and alien. (My personal favorite: the twanging report of the blaster rifle began as the sound of an antenna guy wire hit with a rock, something Burtt discovered while hiking with his father.)

Wikipedia has additional information on Burtt, including the fact that when he’s not busy collecting and cataloguing the raw materials of his trade, laying out the acoustic canvas of the popular imagination, and voicing small but plucky robots, he’s perpetuating little sonic in-jokes, in particular the Wilhelm Scream.

Evil is due for an ass-poking

Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising is on its way to theater screens. Soon. I didn’t get goosebumps watching the trailer or anything. (“I’m an awful liar, aren’t I, darling?”)

If just one line from the first book makes it into the script, I’ll be happy. One line. “A foolish move, friend Smith. We shall not forget.” (And if it happens, it’ll be Christopher Eccleston delivering it. Could anything be more perfect?)

The Chad Vader Conspiracy

This morning, Holly sent me a link to Chad Vader: Day Shift Manager. I fell in love with it immediately, of course: if features not only one of the best James Earl Jones impressions I’ve heard anywhere, but a charming acoustic version of the Imperial March to boot.

And then, about two-thirds of the way through, a character named Lloyd appeared, and I thought: “Whoa, that guy looks an awful lot like Rob Matsushita.” This being the age of the intarweb, it took me all of one click to reveal the credits and blurt, “Holy fuck, it is Rob Matsushita.”

(Rob Matsushita, for those of you playing at home, is one of my friend Seth’s best friends; after hearing about him secondhand for years, I finally got to meet him at Seth’s wedding in 2003, and to see for myself that he’s every bit as funny as his reputation led me to expect.)

The intertwingularity doesn’t stop there, though. According to his post about the experience of being involved in the making of Chad Vader, Rob has come to the attention of Dan Harmon, who co-created, with Rob Schrab, the ill-fated Heat Vision and Jack, which I’d just been telling Holly about. (He also had a hand in “Scud the Disposable Assassin“, one of the best — and certainly most surreal — comics you’ve never heard of.)

I’m going to curl up into a ball and reflect on the total connectedness of all things now.

(Wait, not quite. In the course of assembling this post I’ve discovered that there’s a fourth Scud book out, “The Yellow Horseman“, which finally wraps up the storyline left dangling for years. Great. In addition to messing with my head, these people are now actively costing me money. Bastards.)