Mr. Cellophane

In a location adjacent to a place in a city of some significance, what comes out of my head is plastered on the walls of this blog.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Ne'er brought to mind...

Here I am, ready to ring in another year. Actually, I'm not that ready. There was so much I wanted to accomplish this year but didn't. Now that I think about it, I wanted to get it done the year before. I can only hope that I truly get to do the things I wanted to get done this year. I mean, I willed myself to go back to driving school. Clearly, anything is possible.

Best of luck to all of us, I guess. Things are bound to pick up, eventually.

My Favorite Themes - Part XV

Score: Memoirs of an Invisible Man by Shirley Walker (Batman: Mask of the Phantasm)

About the film: A stock analyst (Chevy Chase) is rendered invisible by a botched experiment. On the run from an overzealous government agent (Sam Neill), he tries to find someone who can return him to normal. Perhaps John Carpenter's most mainstream film (with such legends behind the scenes as William Goldman and William A. Fraker), this is a moderately entertaining thriller with not-bad (for 1992) effects and good work by Chase and Neill.

Title: "Main Theme". The theme, a pair of three-note motifs, is primarily played on horns, whether heroically with the full section or on a lonely trumpet, like in the main titles (the first half of "Jenkins Closes In"). Interestingly, the theme serves as the lead-in to the film's love theme, a wonderfully heartfelt melody ("Theme Medley", "Love in the Rain").

Other themes of interest: There's a terrific descending melody for horns representing the threat of Neill's agent, best heard in "In a State of Molecular Flux". A five-note motif throughout and a fast-paced sub-theme ("Nick Escapes the Apartment Siege") symbolize the chase element of the film.

Availability: The Varese Sarabande release is long out-of-print, but can be found for a reasonable price at BuySoundtrax.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Unused subtitle: Chicken Runs

Remember that low-budget Troma film I almost worked on? Well the trailer is here for your viewing pleasure:

Even allowing for Troma's reputation, I quite regret not doing this film. I'm sure there will be others.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

"...and that's why the French don't bathe."

Granted, it's not "Duckman", but another fine 90s sitcom is hitting DVD, at long last: "The Drew Carey Show": Season 1 streets in April.

It's easy to mock this show, given how far it flew off the rails in its last few years, but, in its first few seasons, it was damn funny; shorn of the gimmicks and stupidity that would later destroy it. It was one of those rare shows that hit its stride early on instead of taking a few years. The first season is full of fine moments: the classic "Buzz Beer", Kevin Pollak as Mr. Bell, attorneys Fenn and Geller (no points for guessing who played them), Jamie Lee Curtis as Sioux...April can't get here fast enough, and since I celebrate a birthday in that month, it's doubly tortuous.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

...for the rest of us!

Haven't been posting in a while, I know. I could talk about having my brain implode at working the whole week (still seven days, for some reason) at my job. Or I could wax poetic on how a technicality (and a ri-goddamn-diculous, retarded one, at that) kept me from taking my road test...which I spent the previous day fretting over.

Instead, I'll post this clip assembled from a now classic "Seinfeld" episode. It's still December 23rd, and (if you've seen the episode) you know what that means:

I'm kind of glad that there isn't really a Festivus. No one would want to be in the same hemisphere with me after my airing of grievances.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Somewhere, Charles Schulz is weeping.

If you love "Scrubs" and if you love "A Charlie Brown Christmas"...well, that's all I'm gonna say. Just watch:

I'm no Santa Claus.

Friday, December 15, 2006

"So it's true. Some cartoons do encourage violence!"

Now, I’ve mentioned how I despise in animation when characters are utilized in a ridiculous ‘comedy of embarrassment’ style of writing. Rather naively, I figured that this came about by accident; there’s no way the writers would pull this crap on purpose.

Then I caught this from the production blog for Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. There were a series of posts detailing various facets of the creation of an episode. One post featured the treatment of the episode “Go Goo Go”. Pay special attention to the last sentence, which I’ve helpfully underlined:

So…this is a conscious decision. I would severely hate to find that similar statements appeared in treatments for “Foster’s Goes to Europe” and “I Only Have Surprise for You”, both of which end with much more heinous examples of Mac humiliated and made to feel terrible. And the less said about “Impostor’s Home for Um…Make-em-Up Pals”, the better. I will never forgive the crew for what happened to Frankie in that episode. Ever. Not even if the survival of the species depended on it. In no way does it feel organic and, judging from quite a few of Ben Stiller’s movies, it has no place in animation.

My question is simply...why? Why put characters in these ludicrous scenarios? On sort of the same token, one thing seldom seen in cartoons of today is character-based humor. Such humor grows honestly out of situations in which the characters find themselves. Much more typical of cartoons today are stories whose authors write around the characters. Instead of writing the characters and providing gags based on their reactions and/or interactions, the gags are written first and then the characters are shoehorned in with little regard to believability of the character, continuity or whether or not the audience will even like it.

I don’t know for sure if story treatments on other shows so nakedly state that they wish to drive their characters over the edge (read: treat them like garbage; apparently "Goo" writer Lauren Faust, among many others, is unfamiliar with a little thing called ‘empathy’.), but in seeing how the following characters are treated in given episodes, it’s hard not to imagine it:

Meg Griffin, “Family Guy” - Too obvious an example, I know, but worth mentioning. It could certainly be argued that the characters on the show are archetypes not to be felt for. However, with incidents like being pelted with meat (“And the Wiener is...”) and being deflowered on live television (“Don’t Make Me Over”), one has to wonder if the writers even find this stuff funny. The viewers (well, the ones that don’t huff airplane glue) certainly don’t.

Ron Stoppable, “Kim Possible” - It pains me to have to put him on the list, as he reminds me more of myself than I do. Generally, the show is well-written, but the moments stuck in to humiliate/debase him chip away at the considerable goodwill: the ‘count to twelve’ bit in “Naked Genius”, all of “Ron Millionaire”, every frame of “Return to Wannaweep” (esp. the third act) and most of his scenes in “Crush”. Also, his moments in “All the News” and “Royal Pain” are as ‘write-around-the-character’ as it gets for this show.

Tucker Foley/Jazz Fenton, “Danny Phantom” - I feel obligated to mention these two together, as they are major characters on the show…but you’d never know it the way these two are handled. When they are spotlighted, it’s not pretty. Between the attempted meet cute in “13” and the shared ending of “Beauty Marked” and “King Tuck”, I kind of wonder if the writers respect Tucker. Same goes with Jazz, who wouldn’t even be mentioned here were it not for one episode. In having this knowledgeable and insightful character as Danny’s assistant, “Secret Weapons” (mainly in its first half) dares to turn her into Dee Dee from “Dexter’s Laboratory”; an overly-spirited incompetent wrecking her brother’s life. Is this the same Jazz I came to respect in “My Brother’s Keeper”? Not bloody likely!

There are a number of other characters I’ve noticed this with: Cat (“CatDog”), Butters (“South Park”), Numbah One (“Codename: Kids Next Door”, though this is more in the recent episodes) and Edd (“Ed, Edd and Eddy”; likewise).

The few of you who remember these next examples might be going, ‘What about Oliver on “Green Acres” or that lemonade vendor in Duck Soup? Weren’t they humiliated?’ First, let me commend you on your knowledge of classic comedy. Second, let me bust your balloon by saying that these earlier efforts were blessed with talented writers who knew how to pack plenty of clever gags and wordplay into their respective scripts, helping us forget that a poor schlub was made to feel so miserable. Remember what I said about opposites, earlier? The cartoons of today focus on the miserable schlub and then try to surround them and their misery with attempts at jokes rather than actual jokes. Put it like this: which is funnier:

“I’ll teach you to kick me!” “You don’t have to teach me. I know how.”


“Megan, you must try the brisket. Allow me to serve it in the manner to which you're accustomed!”

I can only hope for a change in the wind that leads to cartoons that are absent of this irritating need to humiliate its (hopefully) well-conceived characters - the way it should be. Interesting but true: according to the episode page at, the writer of “Impostor’s Home...” hasn’t written a “Foster’s” episode since, so maybe karma does work.

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

The root of most evil.

There's a little button just below the archives section. Apparently, that's how much this blog is worth. Unnervingly, I don't even make that much in a month's salary. That should tell me something.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Second time around.

Went on my second road test today. Failed again.

Now for the good news: it was for stuff well within my control (hitting the curb, failing to observe right of way, etc.). I was a lot closer to passing than I was the first time. I have high hopes for the next test.

That's it, I guess.