Saturday, March 21, 2009

Corganwatch: Solitary Man

Jimmy Chamberlin: Complex

Details are scant at this time, but it can be reported that Jimmy Chamberlin has left Billy Corgan's band. Mr Corgan, undaunted, has announced plans to head into the studio and record new material under the increasingly schizophrenic Smashing Pumpkins moniker nonetheless. Corganwatch, being itself an indeterminately-populated aggregation that nobody ever pays any attention to, has a hard time thinking how it can fault Billy Corgan in this; except to point out that Mr Chamberlin has previously been known to brook the company of Sebastian Bach, half of the Frogs, and people actively dying of a drug overdose, so it's impressive to speculate just how far Mr Corgan must have pushed his luck.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Twitter For Power Users: Three Steps To Maximise Your Twitter Potential

As a social-media expert and new-media professional, people are always asking me, "how can I get more followers on Twitter?" This is a good question and it's the right time to ask it: The Twitgeist is quickly merging with the public consciousness and it's the right time to make sure your army contains as many loyal Twitlites as possible. Here, I outdo all the other guides to maxing out the numbers of your Twitciples, to provide the one-stop reference to making sure you make as many peoples' Twitlists as humanly possible.

Don't try to buy this shirt.
It is awarded only to the
fascinatingest Tweetoes. I
have three myself.

1. Make sure you have something to say. This is an obvious one. Would you want to read a Twitfeed consisting of observations on the intricacies of air traffic regulations, not buying new cds, or software debugging? No you would not; that's a stupid idea. If you can't say something scintillating, don't say anything at all. Click these words for examples on how to Twit With Meaning.

Some Tweeters are so eager
to get Tweeting they don't
even have time for a proper
username, or pants.

2. Tweet publically and often. If you want to see your Follower count skyrocket - and who doesn't? - be aware that putting yourself out there yields results. Plenty of Tweeters are just waiting to find you and your Tweets, and will reward you not only with that all-important bump in Follower numbers, but lucrative offers of cheap and free electronic hardware, medicinal products and even scholastic qualifications. Making yourself and your friends known to these helpful types can pay dividends in spiking that Follower count.

To get a Follower cloud
like this, you need to defeat
ALL gym leaders.

3. Search the right areas. Some Tweeple will only appear in certain places and even times of day. If you want to see that Follower list display a nice high number, be aware that you'll have to search not just around towns but also in Grass, Ponds and even Caves for Tweeters to add to your overflowing list. Remember: the goal is to have as many followers as possible, and for that, you're going to have to work hard, treat your Tweeties well, and carry the right ball for the right Follower type. Also, pitting a Water-type Twitterer against a Mud-type is a recipe for disaster.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

RIP Ron Silver

This is late.

I used to labour under the misapprehension that Ron Silver was a middling character actor with a strangely Mancunian hard-g and an excess of bodily sheen when nude (Blue Steel, for the curious).

However, having sampled the diversity of Mr Silver's ouevre, I am now of the opinion that he was a wryly fantastic fellow with a terrible, terrible agent. And a strangely Mancunian hard-g.

Here is Ron Silver in the role which turned my opinion of him: as Ron Silver. As his quarry in this picture said of him, he is a gifted actor, and so much more.

Watch Heat Vision And Jack - Part 2  |

Corganwatch: Merry Corganmas!

It's March 17, which means everyone's free to drink, carouse, wear green clothes, fetishise their vague Celtic lineage even more than usual, and celebrate the birthday of William Patrick Corgan. Today the shine-pated oddity turns 42, remembers his own vague Celtic lineage, and (if history is any precedent) reminds us all that he is thusly free to cover Phil Lynott any time he likes:

The staff of Corganwatch all wish Billy Corgan a happy birthday; those wearing festive green instead of faded Zero shirts or Zwan merch have been sent home and told to Try Harder Next Year.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Cinema: Not Just Recession-Proof, Flat-Out Creatively Booming

Watchmen writer (and Butch Vig lookalike, and Solid Snake voicealike, and generally above-average screenwriter) David Hayter posts an open letter to Watchmen fans via a site with the prestigious domain name "Hardcore Nerdity" (I just retched a little bit):
"Is it Apocalypse Now? Is it Blade Runner? Is it Kubrick, or Starship Troopers? I don’t know yet...
...This is a note to the fanboys and fangirls. The true believers. Dedicated for life.
If the film made you think. Or argue with your friends. If it inspired a debate about the nature of man, or vigilante justice, or the horror of Nixon abolishing term limits. If you laughed at Bowie hanging with Adrian at Studio 54, or the Silhouette kissing that nurse.

Please go see the movie again next weekend."
Honestly? HONESTLY? I expected this sort of shit from TV, but what the fuck is this?? I mean, at least we can be happy that this is the most pathetic thing anyone would do this week to try and get an uncaring public to watch their movie, right?

Oh for honestly. If you can't coax a performance out of Gary Oldman for two minutes, why in God's name would I trust you to make me a 2-hour movie?

Oh, this is a GREAT time to like movies, for fucking positive.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Corganwatch: Saving the Industry, Ass-Backwards

While Internet Radio advocates have been trying for years to level the playing field by removing the royalty fees they're forced to pay while their wireless-radio cousins get away scot-free, Billy Corgan has a better idea. Instead of making radio play free for everyone, Corgan spoke to Congress suggesting that everyone should have to pay money to play music. Certainly an industry widely agreed to be in dire trouble and needing to move wit' the times could adopt a policy of always making people pay to sample their wares... but instead, maybe they oughtn't. Is this the chrome-domed misanthrope's big "cracking the egg" idea?

Monday, March 09, 2009

Live from the Internet: Fuck You, It's Science

Dear Digg: I want to be your Easter bunny, I want to be your Christmas tree. Signed, Tom.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Corganwatch: When You Want More Than Life Can Ever Grant You, There's Visa.

There are some fairly heartbreaking stories about people killing themselves because of nefarious tactics employed by credit card companies. (I recommend the pertinent chapters in Jon Ronson's What I Do). And due to Mr. Corgan's recent discovery that people will pay you money to use your musics to sell stuff, the phenomenon finds poignant expression in Visa's own latest commercial.

In the clip, the bittersweet euphoria of Visa-induced self-slaughter finds tragic expression through its depiction against vintage Pumpkins suicide-ballad Today. The song describes the carefree happiness felt on the final day of the determinedly suicidal: the commercial bravely dramatises this feeling by showing as if through the protagonists' own eyes the freshness of the final dawn, the wonder of a world about to be left behind, all of life's nagging hassles and crippling credit-card debts finally left behind, Morgan Freeman's somber narration at once conveying the fresh optimism of the soon-to-depart and the promise of a benevolent hereafter.

Billy Corgan may seem like he's just licensing any old crap, but truly he's as subversive as ever. For serious.

Friday, March 06, 2009

In Which I Inveigh On The Single Most Boring Topic Of The Moment.

Hello friends. Here is the deal. I have a few things which I would love to invite you to join me in thinking about, but unfortunately they are hard to get to without first touching on the single most stultifying of the Zeitgeist's talking-points du jour.

This is to say, I have opinions on matters of film and culture, but they are opinions which stem from the release of the movie Watchmen. I'm so sorry. Please just sit through this.

In the time since the Watchmen comic book debuted, the demand and attempts to translate the work to a movie have been near-constant. Since the picture finally made it past pre-production last year, the amount of speculation has grown near-deafening as to whether the picture would be "good", whether it would be "faithful" to the source material, whether the comic's author, Alan Moore, would finally be "proven wrong" in his assertion that people should really stop trying to make movies of his work.

Mr. Moore always looks like a caricature of the sort of person who would write Lost Girls.

All of these speculations have entirely missed the point. The question isn't "will the movie capture the spirit of the comic?" or "will the picture be of a high quality?" The question nobody - except Mr Moore, it seems - is asking is, why is this necessary in the first place?

Moore apologists1 tend to take the line that, "of course the author has been disheartened by the idea of his stories being turned into movies; without fail, movies based on his work have been terrible". That's not untrue, but I think it's projecting an unwarranted measure of self-interest onto the author as well. In which spirit, let's remove this discussion as far as reasonably possible from Alan Moore and Watchmen2 and all of that carry-on and just ask: why are we compelled to make things into movies?

If a story is so perfectly realised in the form of the novel, or the comic book, or even the song or video game (it could happen), what is it that makes us feel it will be better if only it can be turned into a movie? Why, since reading The Most Influential Comic Book Ever 25-odd years ago, have so many people been asking, "so when can I see the movie?"

The obvious reason is that movies are the dominant art form of our time. The moving image has become the default form in which we ingest information. And perhaps less irritatingly obvious but just as plain to see is that this is because everything else is movies' bitch.

You're just enforcing a restrictive cultural hegemony, you lazy little bastard.

When novels meet with mass success they're hailed for their "cinematic" pace. Videogames, champing at the bit with Oedipal ambition, have become more and more self-consciously filmic at as relentless a clip as their evolution will allow. Musical artists like Unkle and Sigur Rós blur the line between popular songwriting and soundtrack composition. (The line, "a soundtrack to a film that hasn't been made yet", has been used by artists from KISS to Trent Reznor to describe their work, though it provides no guarantee of popularity nor quality). Even the best-attended theater tends to be that of a clear cinematic pedigree or influence.

On the one hand this is somewhat pathetic and insecure, asking of the cinema a legitimisation, an approval of one's passions: "if only this story which I love would be turned into a film so everyone could enjoy it, my enthusiasm would be vindicated!"

But it's also somewhat ugly: belying a rapacious, Procrustean intolerance for variety in modes of thought or expression. There's sometimes the implication that the "best" stories are those that get made into successful movies: that a story that refuses to be bashed into cinematic shape isn't quite c21st cultural canon.

In this rather pained metaphor, Hollywood is being wacked with an axe.

It would seem that the question of, "should this story be translated to one of our films?" would be no different whether the story in question had originated in another medium or in the film of another country. After all, they're both translations which demand a substantial shift in language, obviously, but also in cultural tone and shape. It would seem that those insisting that Ringu or Låt den rätte komma in or Sporloos had no need for an English remake should be similarly put out by the redundance of a Hollywood movie of Blindness or Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas or, yes, Watchmen.

Much of the most impressive narrative adventuring of recent years - Foucault's Pendulum, From Hell, Twin Peaks - is material which demands the audience rethink how it experiences the art and rewards their lateral thinking accordingly. The cinema can do this, and has, many times. But it's not the norm. Many films are very, very good. And many films are terrible. Just like anything.

But if we wanted to up film's hitrate, one of the best things we could do would be to stop asking it to do everything for us, and celebrate narrative prowess wherever it may occur, be it the novel, the movie or even the spontaneous happenstance of real life. Allow movies to be movies and enjoy things that aren't movies for what they are, without wanting to feed them into the machine that turns out things shaped like movies.

Then maybe everyone would leave poor old Alan Moore alone and he could write some more comics.

1 There I go, using language like this was a matter of vital international import; this debate will do that to you.

2 Before doing so, it's worth mentioning that Watchmen itself is, of course, intensely cinematic in pace and framing techniques. But to interpret this as the narrative's desire to be realised onscreen is to miss the point: the flashy cross-cuts and ponderous dolly-moves of Watchmen's panel layout aren't intended as audition pieces, so much as appropriations of technique, in the same way as Moore would go on to dot his work with musical cues and nods to classic novels.