22 June 2018

QUIT TWITTER ALREADY AND MY SOCIAL MEDIA STATUS

In my seemingly endless and ongoing struggles with social media I just deactivated my Twitter account. I don't know why I started one up in the first place but I guess I thought it might be a good way to promote this blog and share "engaging" content. During the period I was using Twitter again I also tried to start up a new Facebook account, and found I am basically permanently banned from having an account there. I deactivated and deleted my old account there. I was not kicked off nor got warnings for anything. The only things I can think of is maybe since I quit before I am possibly flagged and their Orwellian algorithm system automatically rejects me. Or, the fact that I use a VPN and sometimes used to access the site from like three different devices, all showing a different IP address. Come to think of it I get get messages about that. Or, that I added too many "friends" in order to get the site going, again with the intention of maybe reaching a few more readers for this measly blog. After sending a couple appeals to FB I let it drop and then began to remember why it was I quit the site in the first place and took the rejections as a blessing in disguise.

With Twitter I just got back into my old rut of getting burned out with my brilliant and world changing content not being "liked" or retweeted. I know a person needs time and all that but in the end I just got bummed out. I was following like 1200 people and over five hundred followed me and I just got no real responses to anything. A few, but not want I desired. I then began to realize why it was I quit my old Twitter as well. I tried to avoid all the political threads and just focus on movies, music and comic books but in no time I was bored and exasperated. Sometimes I would break the flow of a movie I was watching in order to make screen captures to Tweet, only to have none of them liked or loved by anyone. Soon I am leaving cynical "comical" replies to other people's stuff just to get some interaction going. What a waste of time. And in the end my stats showed barely any traffic from there unless it was during some peak period of Tweet activity, and then I might only get like seven hits here. 

I realized I didn't really care as much as I thought I did about getting traffic here anymore. I read some articles recently on people having a feeling one day Google could just drop the Blogger product, the way it did Google Videos, Google News Archiver, the Google Reader and some other products people liked. Some people say it will never happen but I am not so optimistic. I decided recently that should the day come that Blogger simply vanishes it will just be the end of my illustrious blogging career. I will not go to a hosted service or another free service like Wordpress, which actually is totally really free like they say. It is for their crappy free templates and bear minimum of editing options but I need more than that. Instead I will just vanish into the cyber void and be forgotten by all the people who never knew me in the first place. Maybe I was seeking some sort of validation I can never have in the fickle and nebulous world of the Internet. Maybe I was even seeking some sort of immortality. Even if it was just that my bizarre movie blog would be around for a while after I am gone and some future form of human would stumble over it while tapping into the ancient history of the Internet and give it good "meh" at least. 

"They adore me on Twitter!"
I guess I am not one to really get into all the social media stuff the way other people can. I sometimes get hurt or angry over what I see or misinterpret as slights. And sometimes by what are really slights and offenses. You have to be thick skinned to thrive in that world and I am not. In the end who knows why I quit Twitter this time, but I am sure all the stupid Freddie Mercury Tweets didn't help me. That's right, I hate Freddie Mercury and I hate Queen and those guys are worshipped on Twitter. I just couldn't take seeing one more "pic" of Freddie's rat face. Yea, I think in the end it was Freddie Mercury's fault. And all the Trump and Roseanne and lame Social Justice bullshit didn't help, even though I tried to filter that shit it came through. There were a couple cool people there for sure but over all I just do not seem interested, so why stay even if it gave me 500 hits of traffic a day here? Okay, for 500 hits a day I could put up with people worshipping rat face Freddie. But not for seven.

18 June 2018

DREK AHEAD/THE MONSTER/2016


The Monster, from 2016, is a film from writer/director Brian Bertino who also directed The Strangers  and Mockingbird. But see, that is a little trick. I had no idea who this guy was or what he has wrote or directed even though I reviewed The Strangers here a few years ago. Hell, I totally forgot everything. I just went to good ol' IMDB and had a quick look and then added that info those movie titles here to give the impression that I know what I am talking about. All horror bloggers do that. So, back to The Monster. If you look at the screen captures of these reviews and the one to five star ratings you will see, with the exception of IMDb, this film just rakes in those amazing 4 out of 5 star ratings as if Francis Ford Coppolla himself helmed the film. And if you actually skim over a few of the  reviews you will see how the film is just praised up and down and right and left as a gem of independent horror story telling, and that the movie actually transcends the horror genre and the monster is a metaphor for something else even more horrible (bad parenting) and Bertino utilizes this and that and the two leads are great and yadda yadda yadda,  blah blah blah.





Well there are a couple hard to ignore problems with all of that. One is that the film is utterly BORING. So that is one problem. The other problem, along with being insufferably boring, is that the film totally SUCKS! The acting sucks. The fakey monster sucks. The rain sucks. The dialog sucks. The attempt at “pulling at your heart strings” with the sad human drama sucks. The use of a single location and minimal cast sucks, sucks, sucks. There is not one decent thing I can say about this movie. And yet, the lovers of this new style of vapid indie-horror are falling all over themselves praising this waste of time. The film made a lot of money. So what. It still sucks. It was made on a budget of 2 million and brought in over 60 million at the box office. Who cares? I don’t.  All of $40 dollars went into the man in a monster suit costume. If you look at the movie images I shared below you will see basically a mom and her daughter either in a car or walking around in the rain. That is about 85% of the movie. Oh, of course there is all of that emotional tension. You know, that is scary stuff. A loser, alcoholic white trash mother and her resentful teenage daughter, trapped in a car as their personal problems SLOWLY come to the surface, not only pitted against some monster in the rain but against poor smart phone reception as well. That stuff digs down deep into the human psyche, right? No it does not!

If I get a movie called THE MONSTER I want to see a monster. When the monster here is shown it is usually obscured by the rain or the trees. But supposedly that is symbolic of something according to deeper thinking people than me. I just sort of figured the monster suit was so cheap the director was too ashamed to show it directly for any length of time. And in the final scene the bratty kid fights off the monster with some sort of aerosol can and a lighter. Oh give me a break. I have to admit that at about 40 minutes into the film, with nothing happening whatsoever except the mother and daughter looking at a dead wolf in the rainy road and talking to each other in the car, I could not take it and began fast forwarding the film to just get it over with. I saw the dumb ass car guy finally get killed, after forever of watching him fix an axel. See, that is suspense.  Then the ambulance crew all get killed, but it was all so poorly executed not one death rated a playback. I am not a big fan of single location movies and complete casts of two to four people. Seems like a lot of movies are being made like that anymore. It basically equates to the movie concept garnering no budget from investors and the creators having little ability at writing a more complex script.

The movie does not work on any level. To try and make a metaphor out of the monster or whatever is lame not only because I didn’t see it but also I didn't even want to see it. who fuckin' cares. I am not brilliant but I am not an idiot either. I don't pretend to be brilliant by saying I see something that is really not there, or that it is almost there but rather vaguely. You know, smart people will see it all. And I don’t think anyone else saw all these lofty metaphors and esoteric symbolisms either. Not until they went to all those online reviews and began to parrot the sentiments of pretentious ass movie reviewers. "Oh, uh, yea! I saw that little allegory. I am sure I did, because, I...ummm... am smart." I think I may know what is going on with films like this. The writer/director wants to “think outside the box” and get away from old clichés and formulas. Of course he can’t and he only dresses up the old clichés with slight variations here and there, but in the end what does he do? He has the final girl whacking the monster with a homemade flame- thrower. To think outside the box one must have first mastered being able to think inside the box. Overall I guess I would have enjoyed the film more had it just been about a bunch of horny, stoned teenagers on a trip through the woods to one of their families' cabin by the lake and their car breaks down on the road there (like the car in this movie did) and then they argue and squabble amongst one another while fighting off the monster thing. This movie is the same story line, only with two people instead of a small group. And if I want a deep movie about neglectful, alcoholic parents I will check out a well made and well acted drama film, maybe it will be in black and white even, and not a low budget "horror" movie called THE MONSTER. Good grief.





17 June 2018

SAW JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM AT OUR NEW LOCAL MOVIE THEATER IN CHINA


Our little neighborhood on the edge of North Kunming got itself a movie theater. I twas so tiny and had no real outside promotions that I figured it was just one of those places that play old kung fu movies and soap opera all the time. But, they had Avengers: Infinity War a couple weeks ago. We didn't go see it. But yesterday we went to see the new Jurassic World movie. There are no outside movie posters or anything, no marque type of advertising. It is up on the third floor of the "Creative" mall (which totally ripped off its logo from the Creative computer audio cards and speakers company). It was way in the frigging back of the place. Made me wonder how legit this theater really was and if Hollywood even gets any money out of this place. There were not even any posters in the lobby area. But, the theater was actually quite nice and the sound system was pretty good and in typical Chinese fashion it was cranked up to 11. 

We opted to not get any nasty concessions. I do not like sugary popcorn myself. When we left we walked around the place to see if there might me a place to eat but all they have are these weird hot pot places. I abhor hot pot myself. And that is literally ALL they had other than some dumb ass yogurt stands and some joint called Happy Potato that basically gives you a warmed up sweet potato in a paper bag. But, the flick was decent (though not the type I review) and the audience was pretty well behaved. Even a bunch of kids in there were pretty quiet, maybe getting into the movie that I felt might have been a little too much for some of them but they seemed to dig it. Guess we may go back although it definitely will only be big Hollywood blockbusters only here, no independent style films. But, still, it is across the street and maybe next time we will snag up a Happy Potato on the way out. Woo hoo!

11 June 2018

ROCK AND ROLL CAMBODIAN STYLE



I am not a great traveler. I often get sick and exhausted and don't get much sleep from sleeping in strange places on hard beds. That being said I have traveled a lot and one of the big upsides to me living in China is that I have had the chance to visit most all of the neighboring nations, including Vietnam, Laos, a short visit to Burma, India, Thailand, Malaysia and, as to to the topic of this post, Cambodia. These neighboring counties and cultures all seems to hang on to old traditions and customs in a way that China seems not too interested in doing. It is refreshing to see all of that even if the trips themselves have often pushed to to my physical limits. Almost all of the trips my wife and I travelled alone and while of course we will see some of the well known tourist sites we also shy away from them after a few days and then wander around old temples and alley ways and markets. We also typically stay in one or two places for a long time, as opposed to hitting a place every day like many travelers do. Such was the case when we stayed in Siem Reap in Cambodia for about ten days. We hit Angkor Wat and all those places but soon we were drifting around eating at different places and checking out Buddhist monasteries. 

While there I visited a few music stores and even bought some CDs and music related postcards and it made me aware of the forgotten if not actually never known of in the first place music culture that came out of Cambodia between the late fifties and the coming of Pol Pot in 1975. I had stumbled upon the music of Dengue Fever from the Matt Dillion film City of Ghosts, sat in Cambodia. They did a cover of the Joni Mitchell song Both Sides Now that played over the end credits. Singer Chhom Nimol sang in "Cambodian" (or Khmer or I believe it is called) and it just hit me as so wonderful. I shared with a couple people I knew and they hated it, saying her voice was too strange and high pitched and that the language was sounded odd. I knew then I was on to something. I think the underground but also commercial success of Dengue Fever (a San Francisco band actually that were blessed with finding Chhom singing in a KTV/Karaoke club while searching for a singer in Phnohm Penh) maybe helped to spark a interest in the lost world of Cambodian pop/rock music of the 60"s and 70's.

Cambodian music was defined prior by singer Sin Sisamouth, sort of Frank Sinatra of Cambodian music, but as times changed the kids wanted something like that cool rock and roll stuff they hearing over the shared radios or communal loud speakers. While most of the rock music they heard was from French rockers like Johnny Hallyday and Sylvie Vartan it was still, in essence, American rock and roll. The music had a twangy/surfy go-go feel at times and yet still incorporated the spirit of traditional Cambodian folk and royal music. Even Sin Sisamouth decided to jump on the hip new sound bandwagon and did songs like A Go Go. Maybe not to everybody's liking but it is to mine. While exploring this music I also stumbled across other styles such as the rock music of the 70's from Turkey and Iran as well as the psychedelic rock music scene from Nigeria from the s me time period. Not a grammy winner in the bunch. Thank God. 

Lot of info can be found in the documentary Don't Think I Have Forgotten: Cambodia's Lost Rock 'n' Roll. The excellent film features the music and some biographical information on many of the singers and musicians of the period, including Sins Sisamouth, Ros Serey Sothea, Pen Ran, Huoy Meas and Yol Aularong. Sadly all these singers suffered and eventually perished under Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge. 










A couple album covers here are from newer retro type psychedelic rock/funk bands, like Cambodian Space Project and Dengue Fever and not the older bands and singers. However singers Chhom Nimol (Dengue Fever) and the late Kak Channthy (Cambodia Space Project) often cover songs by many of the old singers, in particular thos of Pen Ran.



DON'T THINK I'VE FORGOTTEN 
OFFICIAL TRAILER

PICTURES FROM OUR TRIP TO CAMBODIA.
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