I had an occasion calling for bacon themed food and my mind immediately turned towards the famed bacon mat. I needed something a little more single-serving though, so I decided to attempt bacon cups. In the bacon mat instructions there is mention of draping the mat over an overturned metal bowl and cooking it so that it would turn out in as a bowl shape. I decided to try using the backs of various muffin and mini cake pans, I ran out of bacon before I got to try as many as I would have liked so I’ll have to try more at a later date. Any excuse for more bacon.
I set the oven at 400 degrees and carefully formed foil over the back of the muffin pan. I did not coat with cooking spray, it would have been easier to remove but I suspect that the bacon would not have held the form as well if the foil was oiled and would have popped apart half way through cooking. On the other hand some bacon did break when I was peeling away the foil. I cooked the bacon, moving the pans around, until it was crisp looking and waited for it to cool before removing the foil and shaped bacon.
This all took three hours and my house filled with smoke, but it was worth it. Be sure to put a cookie sheet with a rim below the cooking bacon in the oven, there was a lot of dripping fat and I saw a few flames. Watch your oven carefully!
For cup shapes I used the back of this Wilton King-Size Muffin Pan. These are the width of jumbo muffins but are almost twice as tall (see this cupcake for a visual).
For the first try I used two layers of bacon on the sides and wove it like a basket, or at least like I imagine a basket would be woven:
I turned out to not be enough after the bacon cooked and shrank:
It held its structure very well though:
The next time I used three layers of bacon on the sides, this worked out better:
For as floppy as the bacon is when trying to weave it, it keeps its shape really well once cooked to the point that it is crisp.
It shrank up quite a lot, leaving more of a shallow rounded shape:
Going for a breadless BLT I filled the cups with lettuce (the arugula was the best) and sliced cherry tomato. After some serious investigation it was determined that the shallow bowls were the easiest to eat as finger food, while the cups were dramatic.
I had hoped to make a mayo-based salad dressing to really fill out my the BLT theme but I completely ran out of time. Overall, a success!
In general, our videogame protagonists need a set context for their lives before being thrust into action and adventure. Mario can’t just be a dude with a goomba-stomping fetish; he has to be a plumber. Marcus Fenix can’t just be some chainsaw-wielding jerk; he needs to be an ex-soldier. For better or for worse, most game characters need some sort of backstory, often encapsulated in the character’s profession.
But what about the characters whose professions have almost no impact on the way they act once in the actual game? What about those heroes and heroines who claim to do one thing as a source of their income, but actually do another? What about this videogame characters who suck at their jobs?
Hit the jump for the lowdown on five virtual slackers who would be fired immediately in the real world.
Leisure Suit Larry – “Loser”
The first Leisure Suit Larry game was basedon a single, very simple premise: Larry Laffer is a hideous, creepy loser who needs to get laid. Larry had to be a loser, otherwise he wouldn’t need the player’s intelligence and puzzle-solving abilities to get him out of (and into) sticky situations at every turn.
But what of the sequels? Each are built off the same premise, but almost completely ignore the implications of the previous titles. Larry is a creepy loser who can’t get laid…except for all those times he did. The average LSL title sees our protagonist bed up to four women throughout the course of a twelve hour game — hardly a batting average to scoff at.
Al Lowe has previously admitted to the difficult, contradictory nature inherent in making a series of games about a “loser” who gets far more sex than the people who are controlling him, but it’s a necessary evil. He’s gotta be a dork because the game is funnier that way, but he’s gotta get the occasional beej or the player will feel no personal reward for their actions.
Still, though, I’d hesitate to call anyone who hit this a “loser.”
Max Payne – “Detective”
Detectives collect clues. Detectives interview witnesses. Detectives are meticulous, professional, and above all, thoughtful.
The closest Max Payne ever gets to being a detective is running around his NYPD precinct, answering phones and breaking air conditioners. The rest of the time, Max pes, runs, shoots and bones his way to truth and/or revenge without stopping to examine a single clue, or interview a single witness (he does ask that one witness about Mona in the precinct during Max Payne 2, but that had more to do with his penis than his job).
I’m being mildly facetious, of course. The Payne games would be incredibly different if Max actually thought about what he did before he did it. He wouldn’t have gotten drugged by Mona in the first game, or tricked by Vlad in the second, which would have dragged down the plots of both games. Were he a true detective, he’d be too busy using inventory items and interviewing people to perform so much as one bullet-time dodge. Were he a real snoop, he’d be in an adventure game and not a third-person shooter.
But them’s the breaks — in order to make the game fun, Max has to be a complete moron who falls for every trap and only shows intelligence when formulating ridiculously convoluted internal monologues. Columbo never did any of that shit, I can tell you that.
Donkey Kong – “Donkey”
HE’S A GODDAMN GORILLA WHY IS HE NAMED DONKEY WHAT THE FUCK
Mario – “Plumber”
Apart from a brief interlude in Superstar Saga and an even shorter scene in the movie, we never see this so-called “plumber” fix so much as a leaky tap.
Sure, the man spends a lot of his time jumping into and out of man-sized pipes, but so what? Given the ease with which he and other characters travel through the Mushroom Kingdom’s underground sewer system, one has to imagine that the mere act of ping into oversized pipework does not warrant an the actual title of “plumber.”
Just look at the guy’s inventory — flowers, leaves, boots, raccoon costumes. These are the tools of a drug-addicted furry, not a septic maintenance agent: at no point has Mario ever picked up a wrench, a pipe cleaner, or a plunger. Dude has been known to carry around a hammer, but we don’t really associate that with plumbing.
Mario supports himself not through work, but through theft. Did you ever stop to think that Mario doesn’t actually get a true extra life everytime he steals coins from the Koopalings, but that the 1-Up merely signifies that he now has the financial means to eat and stay alive for one more day?
Unless Mario has been maintaining Peach’s pipe system offscreen for the past twenty years — and I wouldn’t put it past that bitch to reward the man who saved her life with menial labor — Mario hasn’t done a day of proper work in his damn life.
Samus Aran – “Bounty Hunter”
Samus Aran is a mass murderer, not a bounty hunter. Bounty hunters capture escaped convicts and bail jumpers, and they capture them alive. When Samus Aran sets foot on an alien planet, you best believe that by the time she’s done nothing will ever walk or crawl on that world again. Samus isn’t a bounty hunter, and she isn’t even a hitman; she’s a walking genocide machine.
She’ll kill half the population of your planet, then leave for a few hours, then come back with a new weapon upgrade and kill the other half of your planet so she can get still another new ability. The woman is a fantastic large-scale killer, but she doesn’t exhibit any of the restraint or subtlety that one would ascribe to the best bounty hunters.
I don’t wish to argue that Samus isn’t doing the right thing by wiping out Metroids and Space Pirates, of course; someone’s gotta get rid of them, and it might as well by the hot chick in the robot suit who can morph into a fist-sized sphere at the drop of a hat. Fine. But that doesn’t make her a bounty hunter.
Samus sure as hell knows how to backtrack and solve environmental puzzles, but does she know the difficulty of tracking a single target across twelve states? Has she ever experienced the difficulty of bringing in an armed, intoxicated felon without killing him? How many bounties has she successfully brought in? Which bail bondsman does she contract from? I highly doubt Samus could answer these questions.
That’s all I’ve got for now; did I miss any obvious ones you’d like to add to the list? Did some of the characters not belong? Do you want to tell me the story that everyone already knows concerning the origin of Donkey Kong’s name? Hit the comments.
We asked you what you think the best post-apocalyptic vehicle would be, assuming you could fuel it up and were unable to stay in one place due to the lack of other resources (and likely abundance of radioactive zombies looking for a tasty brain to munch upon). The response we received from commenters was phenomenal. We’ve culled the comments down to our ten top responses. Some we expected and some we didn’t, and we even had a quasi-fictional vehicle thrown in for some fun. After you’ve had a moment to take a gander at the zombie-fighting machines-o-war below, drop all the way down to the bottom and help us cull the wheat from the proverbial radioactive chaff and determine the ultimate ride for living through the bleak world that awaits us. The very fate of humanity may rest upon your decision.
Though we’re partial to the XV-LT, based on the full-sized F550 platform, CSHONTZ makes an excellent point about the zombie-killing ability of the smaller Jeep-based Earthroamer XV-JP. It’s got all you need to survive, is quite portable (the only camper to ever cross the Rubicon trail) and contains a top that folds out into a queen-sized bed. You’ll just have to get used to using the potty in view of the zombies. [Earthroamer]
Dobbertin Surface Orbiter
What happens when a well known hotrodder puts his tinkering hands to an amphibious vehicle? The Dobbertin Surface Orbiter. Built out of an old milk tanker, the Orbiter was designed to circumnavigate the globe on land and water, which is good for when you’re on the move and forced to deal with the suddenly changing seasons that the nuclear fallout will likely bring. And like all good survival vehicles, it comes complete with a kitchen and porta-potti. It nearly made it around the world, but financial problems and an eventual divorce led to the trip getting cut short. Maybe YankBoffin and BlueCoupe would be all over that. [Dobbertin Hydrocar]
Commenter Buji already drives his survival vehicle. A more minimalist approach than some of the vehicles featured here, the Sportsmobile 4X4 will cross almost any terrain and still let you bring your equipment, your bail out vehicle (BOV) and camping gear with you. Even better, it can be fitted with a kennel so you can bring your best friend with you. [Sportsmobile]
Certainly winner for the best name, Adidac425 was right to identify the Wothahellizat as one of the all-time great survival vehicles. If the Sportsmobile is minimalist, the Wothahellizat is maximalist. It’s a motorhome on wheels, literally. Nature photographer Rob Fray used this to do his work across the Australian continent. The perfect vehicle for when you don’t want to leave anything at your underground fallout shelter. [Wothahellizat]
According to Froggmann, the Steelwheels truck is ready for when things heat up. Literally. This off-roader is built on the Oshkosh M100 platform used for, among other things, airport crash trucks. With this you can drive into the heart of the zombie queen’s lair, rescue your friends, and torch the place, all the while making a delicious meal inside the TGIF-esque interior. [Steelwheels]
EM-50 Urban Assault Vehicle
Though it’s a quasi-fictional vehicle, Al Navarro was spot-on with picking the EM-50 Urban Assault Vehicle from the great American film Stripes. Think about it. Most of the time it looks like your standard issue GMC-based RV with all the included amenities. But with the touch of a button the armor goes down and the missiles come out. It also includes full navigational and communications equipment. If it’s good enough for Bill Murray, it’s good enough for us. [Cloudster]
Murph has it right. What do you need an onboard toilet for in a world where global war has rendered societal norms, such as not peeing anywhere, nil. Lacking the complex mechanical and electronic components of some of its colleagues here, the Volvo C303 can be kept running with duct tape and shoe polish. Plus, what’s tougher than a big red brick? [Real4x4]
Who knows more about surviving danger than, well, Dr. Danger? So we’ll let the good Dr take this one: Three important reasons: 1. Mobility: Amphibious 6×6 2. Safety: Zombie proof, also with a mounted NSV machine gun 3. Power Plant: Decent diesel engine (we all know diesel engines are versatile with fuel) [ArmyVehicles.dk]
The Buffalo Force Protection Vehicle
It can crush a Hummer, clear a minefield and keep you safe from grenade-chucking survivors hoping to kill you off as you fight for that last barrel of oil or pool of freshwater. It may not be the most comfortable choice for long trips, but it does come with a space shuttle-like mine raking arm, which JoSCh points out “could skewer a cadre of zombies.” Perfect. Oh, and if you pick the right one, it may even transform. [ForceProtection.net]
It’s hard to argue with the MaxiMog, which starts life as the über-capable Mercedes Unimog and gets converted for full survival duty. It’s as tough as the Unicat, but comes with a high-performance motorbike BOV, undersea vehicle and a special living trailer. Even better, mehugtree points out that it includes a UAV that can send live images of zombie hordes from up to ten miles away. [Maximog]
Proper tipping etiquette is still a trait rarely found in modern men yet, when perfected, it can actually become quite enjoyable. It’s a selfless act of giving to others based on the level of service you’ve received. A lot of these people get a pitiful wage and the tips they get go a long way to supplement their income. Make them happy and you’ll be looked after. Annoy them and you’d be best advised to eat your meal with caution!
Tipping like a Gentleman
Tipping really is an art form and when you’re giving your tip you want to be as discrete and gentlemanly as possible. Hand over the tip with your palm facing down and shake hands with the person you are tipping, simultaneously placing the money in their hand. What you want to avoid doing is waving the money around and making a big deal of it. You’ll look like an idiot for starts and if that isn’t enough, you’re going to make the person receiving the tip feel uncomfortable because, believe it or not, you’re coming across like a condescending jerk. You’re not throwing a treat for Fido here.
So how do you figure out how much to tip? Well the truth is there are no tipping rules per se, however there are guidelines which suggest how much is appropriate to give. Let’s investigate.
The restaurant waiter/waitress
This is the one that causes most debate because there is no hard and fast rule. It is also made even more difficult by waiting staff who have lost sight of the fact that a tip is a gratuity and is not actually required. As a guideline though, I’d say you can safely use the following without a disgruntled waiter spitting in your salad:
Self-serve/Buffet restaurant – 10-12%. If the service was fantastic, you could up this to 15%.
Local restaurant – 15%. Again, you could up this by a few percent if the server worked particularly hard or went out of their way to help you.
A 4-star restaurant – You’ll want to tip the maitre d’ as you’re being seated, particularly if you’re a regular and he/she goes out of their way to reserve you a table or get a table when the restaurant is busy. The standard tip here is anywhere from $20-100. For the service of the meal itself I’d recommend a tip of around 20-22%. Don’t forget to tip the wine steward (a few dollars per bottle of wine) and/or the coat check attendant ($1 for a couple of coats).
Unless you want to annoy the Travis Bickle-esque taxi driver by stiffing him on a tip you’d better go ahead and give 15% of the fare.
You want to make sure your hair looks as good as possible and tipping will ensure that your hair stylist gives a polished cut. They’ll also be more likely to look after you next time you visit too (I’ve been given a free colour before simply for tipping well). An acceptable amount is somewhere in the region of 10-15% of the cost.
There are a number of staff members at the hotel that can make your stay very pleasant or a living nightmare depending on how you tip them. Here’s who you should tip and how much to give them:
Chambermaid – $5 per night you stay. That is, if you want clean sheets, towels and plenty of toilet roll.
Room service waiter – Again this is the standard 15%.
Bellhop – If you let the bellhop carry your bags up to your room and show you around said room without giving them a tip then you’re going to hell. Tip them around $10-15 for their efforts.
If you’re going for a night out at the casino, you better be prepared to tip. Of course if you’re a professional gambler (or just extremely lucky) you’ll be able to tip from your winnings.
Blackjack dealer – $5 chip (or more) per session. It’s also common place in casinos for the players to place a small side bet for the dealers. You can agree the amount with other players but a $1 chip is usually sufficient.
Craps dealer – Those craps dealers love the action as much as you. It’s common to place up to a 10% side bet for the dealer.
Poker dealer – $5 per session. Winners usually tip at least $10 and sometimes as much as 10% on bigger wins.
Drink waitresses – $1 chip per drink.
You don’t want some juvenile attendant ruining your prized Bentley Continental because you didn’t tip the lad, do you? On second thoughts, why would you let a juvenile attendant park your prized Bentley Continental unless you’re asking for trouble?
You should tip, at the very least $1 ($5 if they help with your luggage) but I would tip a little extra to get a better level of service. Perhaps $10-15 to make sure they don’t take it for a joy-ride á la Ferris Bueller. Oh, that reminds me, always check the mileage of the car before handing it over to a parking attendant!
But what if I don’t want to give a tip?
There are some occasions where you feel unjustified to give out a tip, but let me tell you why you should.
The food was terrible. If the food was terrible, then complain to the manager (you might get a discount on the bill) but don’t take away the tip from the waiting staff because you’re punishing them for someone else’s mistake. Chances are they worked very hard for you and to not reward them would be unfavourable.
The service was below par. If the service was below par then you should tip at a lower rate than normal. Usually, I’d speak to the waiter I’m tipping and politely explain the reasons for the lower tip. Just make sure you’ve eaten all your food before you tell them!
You are a stingy and grumpy old man. So you don’t want to tip. Why not? You’re rewarding someone for doing good work. How would you feel if your boss decided to not give you the pay raise you’ve been asking for or taking your bonus away from you just because he felt like it? As the old saying goes, “Treat other people the way you expect to be treated yourself.”
Oh and for those of you wondering how to deal with people who flat out ask you for a tip. I like to go with the following:
Yeah, I’ve got a tip for you. Never eat yellow snow.
What’s your etiquette for tipping? Is it more or less than I’ve suggested? Also, if you’ve got a great tipping story from a restaurant for example, let us know in the comments.
Like a famed race horse or a classic book, you don’t just throw away a laptop because it’s banged up a little. Even if it seems outdated and underpowered, most any laptop is still small, quiet, and relatively low on power consumption, making it a seriously valuable spare to keep handy-even without a working screen. With some free software, a little know-how and some creative thinking about your home network, nearly any old laptop can find its second wind, and today I’ll run through some of the best ways to get it there.Photo by daveynin.
Create a no-monitor, low-power spare system
So everything on your laptop runs just fine-except the screen, the most important (and expensive) part. That’s not a death knell, just a chance for re-purposing. Set your laptop up somewhere near your router, connect it with network cable, then read up on how to set up your system to run “headless” with any OS and only when you wake it up. That way, you’ve got a computer that uses a bare minimum of power and doesn’t neeed no fancy screen to convert a file, download a big file, or serve as a temporary backup box. But if your system lacks Wake on LAN abilities, or you’re just looking for more use out of that laptop, you could always …
Convert it to a home server
The idea of a “server” usually conjures images of rack-mounted, temperature-controlled boxes, or at least a desktop system, but a laptop’s power-scaling abilities, small size, and built-in screen can actually make for a quietly-great unit. You could put it next to your printer to allow printing from anywhere, use a browser to get it grabbing BitTorrents in Windows or Mac systems, or set up your own web server for grabbing files or hosting things like your personal Wiki. Oh, and don’t forget your multi-purpose media server, if you’ve got the hard drive space. Once you’re set up and have enabled outside access, the world-or at least your files at home-is at your fingertips.
Make a better digital photo frame
Unless you avoided the big stores entirely last holiday season, you’ve probably noticed the boom in digital picture frames-those small $100-and-up devices with not-so-amazing screens and a canned slideshow ability. If you know your laptop isn’t much for getting anything done these days, consider bending it over backwards to make for a sizable, attention-grabbing frame that can show whatever you want and possibly even grab photos as they’re dropped on a main computer. Instructables has a highly detailed guide to taking apart a MacBook to get started, while Popular Science shows an alternate scheme using an old ThinkPad. To keep your spare laptop from becoming a power draw (or running long and hot), consider setting up timers to run your “frame” only during your waking hours.
Make it fly again with lightweight Linux
If you’re shelfing your trusty road warrior mostly because it just runs … so … slow, consider that it’s not always the laptop’s fault. Most modern operating systems aren’t designed to give you only the web, email, document handling, and a little multimedia, but there is an entire OS realm that is that can make your old system seem new again. Here are a few free, open-source recommendations and what an old laptop might get out of them:
Puppy Linux: Very slim (97 MB) distribution, but retains a basically smooth and polished interface, with apps to cover common computer uses.
Damn Small Linux: For really, really fast and light performance with a straight-up interface. A system smaller than 50 MB that can run on a machine with a minimum of 16 MB memory (assuming you can boot/load it on there).
Xubuntu: Puts the Ubuntu methodology and software support into a lighter, XFCE-based desktop (check out its look and newest features here). For an even lighter kind of “Damn Small Ubuntu,” try Fluxbuntu.
gOS: For those who live inside their browser, gOS isn’t so much a gimmicky “Wal-Mart OS” as a webapp-focused version of Ubuntu, with a lightweight window manager (Enlightenment) and an OS X-like bottom dock containing most of what you need
Convert its LCD into a Stand-Alone Monitor
Not for the faint of heart or unsteady of hand, this Instructables guide runs you through the basics of turning a perfectly good LCD laptop screen into a vertical-mounted monitor. Havingl pulled apart a laptop myself to replace a monitor cable, I can just tell you that you should go real slow, and make sure you have a place to put all the spare screws and parts during disassembly.
Salvage an external back up drive from it
Assuming your laptop didn’t die from hard drive failure, those little magnetic platters inside it can make for a really handy pocket-sized external drive. Follow Lifehacker alum Rick Broida’s instructions on properly enclosing a 2.5″ drive, and you’ll have avoided paying a premium for a seriously useful addition to your computer inventory. Photo by Justin Ruckman.
Extend your wireless coverage
If wireless coverage throughout your house is hit or miss, your best bet is to do a little DIY router upgrading. If, however, your router can’t handle Tomato or DD-WRT boost, your trusty laptop can serve as a temporary booster. If your trusty laptop is running OS X, Vista, or XP, you can turn on its hot spot abilities with only minor tweaking. Linux users should check out this Linux.com tutorial for general guidance, while Ubuntu fans can get more specific instructions here. Finally, those who also keep an Xbox on their network but think Microsoft’s $100 wireless adapter is a bit much can jerry-rig that shelved laptop to serve as a stand-in.
I tried to cover the basics and a few quirky ideas for an old-but-trusted laptop, but many of you have years of experience on me in this area. What’s the coolest, or most useful, thing you’ve done with an old laptop? What do you wish you could do with it? Share your tales and wishes in the comments.
Kevin Purdy, associate editor at Lifehacker, hopes he never has to part ways with his ThinkPad. His weekly feature, Open Sourcery, appears every Friday on Lifehacker.
Sometimes it’s hard to come up with a full-length, balls-to-the-wall rant, but a lot of “too long for Twitter, too short for a whole post” ideas float in and out of my head all the time. Here’s 10 things every adult really ought to know, but a lot of people are apparently just too fucking stupid to figure out:
Having sex can cause pregnancy. This one seems too obvious to mention, but judging from the number of accidental children in the world, I thought it bore repeating. Nothing is 100% effective against pregnancy except abstinence, or the removal of your ovaries or testicles. (Incidentally, abortion is still legal in the US and most of Europe, just in case.)
If you cover your face with piercing jewelry, you may not be able to find a job. This also goes for doing weird things to your hair, and getting tattoos in conspicuous places. And for fuck’s sake, don’t give me any bullshit about “freedom of expression”, you little dumbass. You go right ahead and express yourself all you want, but body modification is not a constitutionally protected belief system. They can’t not hire you for being a Jew, but they certainly can not hire you for looking like a fucking freak. (caveat: I have both piercings and tattoos … nothing against tattoos, piercings or fucking freaks. Just don’t whine about it when you’re treated like one.)
It’s 2008. Racism is seriously outdated. That means, yes Virginia, it is TOTALLY FUCKING UNACCEPTABLE to refer to that black guy on TV as a “junglebunny.” Also, don’t use the word “they” as though black folks are some separate species who all think and act the same way. They’re “They” are humans, not dogs. And do I really need to remind you that “nigger” is a bad word?! Here’s a nice rule of thumb for you, dearie: If you wouldn’t say it to a black person’s face, you probably shouldn’t be saying it at all. (For those of you who really don’t get it, this also applies to spics, pakis, chinks, gooks, jews kikes, towelheads, and anyone else you care to slander.)
Spontaneous anal sex often involves small amounts of feces. Yes, yes it does. This point is mainly aimed at straight guys, who seem to have a frighteningly widespread lack of understanding on this issue. If you want your backdoor action all nice and sanitary, you need to plan ahead. Buy a little something called an anal douche, and find a way to gracefully suggest she use it before bed if you want a little booty nookie. If you just swap holes in the middle of the action, without such careful forethought, things often get messy … because guys, it’s a butt, and [big secret]there’s poop in there[/big secret]. And as long as we’re on the subject of anal …
Anal sex does not make you gay. Again, for the benefit of you straight boys. Even if you secretly want your girlfriend to bend you over with a strap on, it’s OK. You’re not gay. You know why? Because you want to be assfucked by a girl, not a boy. That’s what the whole “gay” thing is about: Liking boys instead of girls. Anal sex is irrelevant.
Marijuana is not a “gateway drug”. Oh sure, maybe 99% of “hard” drug users also smoke pot. And maybe a lot of them smoked pot before they got into crack or heroin or whatever. But that’s not because the pot made them do it, it’s because damn near fucking everyone has smoked pot at some point.
Creationism is bullshit. Seriously. A big magic guy in the clouds did not wiggle his fingers and create the earth in 6 days. Didn’t fucking happen. And I think anyone who professes to believe such a thing ought to be barred from political office. What if there was a religion claiming the world was flat, and the whole “round” thing was just an optical illusion created by God to test our faith? Would ANYONE be suggesting we teach it in schools? Would anyone vote for a politician who claimed to believe it? For fuck’s sake, people. It’s 2008. We have fossils. We have carbon dating. Get a clue!
You have no right to be proud, unless you did it yourself. That goes for anything from racial pride to patriotism. Your race, gender and nationality are fucking accidents of birth. Being proud of something you got stuck with when mamma squeezed you out is stupid. You have a right to be proud of your own personal accomplishments, and perhaps those of your children (if you were actually a good parent, and your kids didn’t succeed by sheer bloody-mindedness alone). That’s it. Your parents fucked, Mom got knocked up, and ~9 months later, there you were. Race, gender and nationality handed to you out of some cosmic lottery machine. Fuck your white pride, black pride, national pride, and all the horseshit that goes along with it.
Police and Politicians have a lot in common. Maybe half of them go into their chosen careers wanting to genuinely do good. Save people, and make the world a better place and all that. The other half are greedy, power-hungry fucks. And the good half? After a few years on the job, most of them have become so corrupted and/or insulated from the real world, they become vicious, rotten twats too. You can’t trust 90% of either of ’em.
America is not #1. Well, not unless you count military spending and handgun related deaths. We’re shit at public education. Our health care system is both the most expensive and the least effective in the developed world. Literacy, infant mortality, per capita living below the poverty line and/or without any health insurance … etc., etc. We’re kind of horrible at a whole lot of things, if you want to be honest about it. We’re also, on average, fat as fuck.
First, the opening scene from Hampton Fancher’s Blade Runner. He never used “we see” or camera angles, but his writing clearly implies with the Secondary Heading of “THE EYE” that the scene opens with an extreme close-up of an eye, which is essential to the story. His descriptions help visualize (without taking you out of the story by using technical jargon) that the camera would pan back to reveal that the eye is just an image on a screen. As we pan, we’d learn an important detail by seeing the VOIGHT-KAMPFF words on the mechanism. The camera would keep panning back to reveal the desk and then pan around or perhaps cut to Leon. We’d first see his nametag and the folded, pudgy hands in his lap before we move up to his face. Then there’s a cut to Holden, the man facing him, which reads like a medium shot (or thereabouts). It’s not until after the cut to Holden that we’re even given a description of the room.
How many aspiring writers would start with just a general description of the room and try to use dialogue to get out the VOIGHT-KAMPFF information as well as the names of the two characters in the room? This is such a great, writing-the-shots example of cinematic storytelling. It’s the way Fancher is thinking like a filmmaker that’s impressive to me. [The result in the finished film (if you can ever call Blade Runner a “finished film”) is slightly different. The shots are all there, as described in the script, but Ridley Scott would open the film with a shot of the city and an approaching vehicle that’s flying toward the Tyrell building so that you could see Holden pacing in a window as he waits for Leon to show up. Then he cuts to the interior of the room. Leon walks in, and for some reason, Ridley uses a VOICE OVER to introduce him. A computerized female voice says something like: “Next subject: Kowalski, Leon.” Ugh, makes me cringe every time. Ridley should’ve listened to his screenwriter.]
Second, here’s a scene written by Alex Proyas (with the help of David S. Goyer and Lem Dobbs) from the Dark City screenplay. This is a four-star film, one of Ebert’s Great Movies. He once went through the movie shot-by-shot with film students in Hawaii. It took him four days. He wrote, “Proyas likes deep-focus compositions. Many interior spaces are long and narrow. Exteriors look down one street to the vanishing point, and then the camera pans to look down another street, equally long. The lighting is low-key and moody. The color scheme depends on blacks, browns, shadows and the pallor of the Strangers; warmer colors exist in human faces, in neon signs and on the billboard for Shell Beach. ‘I am simply grateful for this shot,’ I said in Hawaii more than once. ‘It is as well-done as it can possibly be.’ Many other great films give you the same feeling — that their makers were carried far beyond the actual requirements of their work into the passion of creating something wonderful.”
Alex Proyas is a writer-director so this scene has some camera angles in it, which we would not write. It’s just as easy to say “SLEEPING EYES – between waves of light…” than “ANGLE ON SLEEPING EYES.” They both mean the same thing. Also, you could just as easily say “WALKER” instead of “TIGHT ON WALKER.” Instead of “P.O.V.”, you could write “He looks” and write “AROUND THE ROOM” as a Secondary Heading to imply a pan. In any case, I love the way he’s thinking visually here and begins this scene by moving the camera around the room, first with the glass syringe on the floor, over to the clothes on a chair, to the puddles of water, and up the tub to the sleeping eyes of Jonathan Walker. You can easily visualize the editing in this scene, too – where one shot ends and the next one begins.
Here’s a sequence from Robert Towne’s Chinatown, a script that really deserves no introduction. This is my favorite sequence in this script. Reading this for the first time years ago was such a revelation to me. I love the way Towne uses Secondary Headings to cut back and forth between Gittes and Mulwray. In the hands of lesser writers, this sequence could have been a bear to read and follow. With a pro like Robert Towne, it’s simple, seamless, and visual. As far as I’m concerned, there was no other way to write this sequence.
And finally, here’s the opening scene from The Long Kiss Goodnight by Shane Black. A number of elements I love about this scene. He has the camera panning from the windowpane over to the bed and to the eyes of the sleeping little girl who wakes up. It’s dark. The mother by the bed is just a vague shape. After a little dialogue, she turns on the nightlight, which brings a surprising visual revelation. And then we’re back to the mother by the bed and then back to same windowpane where we began. My man, Shane Black – I love his work.
On Sunday February 24th, 2008, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences will be holding their 80th Oscar ceremony to honor the year’s best achievement in cinema. The telecast/infomercial is one of the biggest worldwide events, and according to Wikipedia, “holds the distinction of having won the most Emmys in history, with 38 wins and 167 nominations.”
Of the 79 Best Pictures named, some films have stood the test of time and remain classics while others are have become duds that leave the viewer scratching their head, wondering what the voters of the time saw. While it’s completely unfair to compare the spectacle of Ben-Hur alongside the intimacy of Marty, this hasn’t stopped the Academy from their annual apples-to-oranges competition.
With this list, I chose to attempt to showcase the breadth of the honorees. Having the list reduced to ten means a great many titles are left out.
10. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
The Best Picture award for Peter Jackson’s final chapter in the Lord of the Rings trilogy was really an award to recognize the work done on all three films since it was in essence one giant project. It is one of four films to sweep the categories it was nominated in, going 11 for 11, tying the record of wins held by Ben-Hur and Titanic.
9. All About Eve
Joseph L. Mankiewicz’ film of deceit and betrayal is still compelling as the world of celebrity and show business forever continues to fascinate and draw people to take part. Eve pretends to be a fan, but she’s really come to take the life of Margo Channing in a figurative sense. Hard to believe Bette Davis came in to replace Claudette Colbert shortly before filming because it’s one of her greatest roles. The film won six awards.
8. Midnight Cowboy
Even more so than Billy Wilder’s The Lost Weekend, Midnight Cowboy displays a stark, gritty realism rarely seen in Hollywood films even today. Joe Buck has come to New York City to ply his trade as a male prostitute, but has a tough go of it. Ratso Rizzo is a crippled con man who lives on the streets. Together, they maneuver through the mean streets as best they can. The film won three awards and it is the only X-rated film to ever receive an Oscar.
Clint Eastwood’s film reveals the reality behind the accepted myths of the Western genre. The heroes and villains aren’t clear-cut, violence has ramifications, and alcohol not bravery or nobility fuels the fighting. The film won four awards and is the last Western to win Best Picture.
6. West Side Story
Stephen Sondhiem and Leonard Bernstein’s take on Romeo & Juliet transports the story to the streets of New York with the warring families replaced by street gangs. There’s a purpose to Jerome Robbins’ choreography beyond dancing for its own sake. The film won 10 awards and in addition Robbins was presented an honorary award for Brilliant Achievements in the Art of Choreography on Film.
5. Annie Hall
The film is the perfect synthesis of Woody Allen as it retains his sense of humor like the early, funny ones, but he stretches out as both a writer and director, using the medium like he never had before. While the events as presented in a fantastic manner, it is a realistic love story. The film won four awards.
4. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Based on the brilliant novel by Ken Kesey, who initially wasn’t happy with the loss of the narrator or the casting of Jack Nicholson, the film tells the story of McMurphy, who fakes insanity so he can serve out the rest of his prison term in the perceived comfort of a mental institution. There’s a surprising amount of humor for a film that plays out like a classic tragedy. The film won five awards.
3. The Godfather
Marlon Brando leads the Corleone family and an amazing cast in Francis Ford Coppola;s adaptation of Mario Puzo’s novel. The film spans ten years and presents the transformation of Michael from civilian to Don. While some understandably find Part II to be a superior film, it needed The Godfather to lay the foundation. The film won three awards.
2. Lawrence of Arabia
David Lean’s glorious epic based loosely on the life of T.E. Lawrence and his time in Arabia during World War I. Freddie Young’s amazing Super Panavision 70 cinematography and Peter O’Toole’s star-making performance are the standouts in this film whose story of war in the Middle East unfortunately still resonates today. The film won seven awards.
Voted the best screenplay of all time by the Writers Guild of America, west in 2006, this classic film tells the tale of Rick and Ilsa, whose relationship was interrupted when she discovered her husband Victor was still alive. Their love triangle plays out in Morocco as Victor and Ilsa are on the run from the Nazis and need the letters of transit Rick has obtained. It’s a flawless film about love and sacrifice. The film won three awards.
1. Before YouTube… there was “America’s Funniest Home Videos”
This 90’s television smash-hit, based on a Japanese show, kicked off user-generated video content in America. People submitted home videos of babies with nail guns, dogs on fire, and grandmas falling down, in hopes of winning a weekly cash prize.
2. Before Twitter… there was IRC.
Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is a UNIX-based system of chat servers that was introduced in late 1988. A series of networks and thousands of channels allowed people to “tweet” about various topics, share cool links, and offer technical support. Twitter now offers a somewhat similar experience with a more user-friendly interface and mobile support.
If you wanted to delve in the world of personal publishing in the early 90’s, it was pretty spendy. Desktop publishing with Adobe Pagemaker required investing big bucks into a high-end Mac and a state-of-the-art laser printer. Most young people stuck to cutting and pasting scraps onto blank paper and then xeroxing the final product.
In the 90’s, when digital voice mail was a cutting-edge corporate technology, there was a vibrant voice mail hacking scene. Phone phreaks from all over the United States would sequentially “scan” 1-800 exchanges for voice mail boxes (VMBs) and use default passwords to take over employees’ (unused) voice mail boxes. They would record long informational greeting messages, known as “codelines.” Codelines began with music and “shouts out” to other phone phreaks and then segued into first-generation “podcasts” packed with underground content: freshly hacked calling cards and credit cards, conference calls PINs, and global outdial passwords.
5. Before blogrolls and comments… there were web rings and guest books.
Sites on similar subjects used link out to each other in a promotional circle jerk called a “web ring.” Guestbooks used to be the hot way to leave comments, until bots were developed to harvest the e-mail addresses for the the worst kinds of spam imaginable.
6. Before Facebook… there was the 20th annual high school reunion.
And if they wanted to make a long distance call, they’d need an entire roll of quarters. The 90’s equivalent of an “unlimited calling plan” was a toll-fraud device called a red box. Red boxes were modified Radio Shack touch-tone dialers that made the same sound a Bell payphone made when a quarter was inserted. By the end of the decade, Radio Shack had discontinued the device and Bell had upgraded to digital equipment. Thankfully, cellphones were becoming affordable, mainstream communications devices by then.
10. Before P2P file sharing… there was Columbia House Records.
Before DRM and iTunes – people downloaded music from Napster and burned it on a $569 external CD-R drive. Non-technical people who wanted free tracks got tempted by magazine ads that promised “Get 8 CD’s for Just One Penny!” and they were unwittingly signed up for recurring CD subscriptions. Then they got slapped with a huge bill afterwards – the old-school equivalent of an RIAA settlement.
11. Before Craigslist… there was the men’s room wall.
Local newspapers would only publish “vanilla” dating ads. So, how did geeks and other shy people manage to hook up? The restroom wall, of course! Gay guys would post phone numbers and set meeting times for man-to-man encounters. Straight dudes would post the numbers of their ex’s and innocent girls they wanted to harass.
12. Before Digg… there was your local newspaper’s “Top Stories of the Year” issue.
You used to have to wait until December to find out hottest story of the year. And the news stories were picked by crusty old editors. Now there’s an infinite stream of high-quality, uncensored content and entertainment – all just a mouse click away.