Thursday, December 17, 2009

The 6 Manliest (realistic) Christmas Gifts

Regardless of whether they know me very well or not, I am berated by girls asking ‘So what should I get X for his birthday/ for Christmas?’ What would YOU want for your birthday/Christmas? Guys are so hard to buy for!’. Whenever I’m asked this I usually respond with ‘I don’t know’. The thing is, I do know, damn it. I do I do I do I do, but I’m hardly going to tell them because the gifts are either outrageously expensive or likely to generate mocking laughter, meaning that I going home alone. Again.

However, since I’m safe from derisive laughter here at my keyboard I’m willing to put in writing the 6 Manliest Gifts you can receive for Christmas. If any guys reading this WOULDN’T love to receive at least ONE of these gifts (based on the gift’s nature alone, not its monetary value), then you’ll have to hand in your penis on the way out.

6. A Year’s Supply of Beer

Yes, it exists. Every year, somewhere in the world, there is a chance to win a year’s supply of beer. Right now, you can find it here. What isn’t to like about this delicious beverage? It’s got sugar in it, it’s got bubbles in it, it’s got alcohol in it and it’s also been around for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians drank it, the Romans drank it and Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke drank it. In fact, he drank it so much that, for a time, he held the world record for beer drinking; a yard glass (1.7L/3 imperial pints) in 11 seconds. That alone should be incentive enough to enjoy this gift – one day you too can have your name in the record books AND run a country. That’s two gifts in one!

Leadership material

Sure, there are naysayers who declare that beer is the root of all evil, that it causes harm to society, that it damages the livers and bellies of people everywhere, but to them I say ‘feh!’. ‘Feh’ to your wowserism and ‘feh’ to your buzz-killing. Beer is a root of friendship and good times. Camping and fishing trips worldwide have been turned into bonding experiences (but not in a gay way) because of beer. It’s a problem solver which has even been embraced by Barack Obama. And if there’s one bandwagon we all love jumping on, it’s the Obamamobile.

5. A vehicle of any sort

Blokes love vehicles. It’s just one of those things. It probably started with a mammoth ride thousands of years ago and it hasn’t stopped since. Before cars it was all about having the best horse, before outboard motors it was all about having a slim boat with crafty sails, before motorbikes it was having the most smashing Penny Farthing in the street, eh wot? The invention of the internal combustion engine initiated blokes’ love affair with the noise and feeling of explosions in close proximity to his body. Some guys are turned on by the rumble of a V8, others by the raw power of a crotch-rocket (it means ‘motorbike’ – look it up), others by the smell of a 2-stroke outboard motor. It’s all the same though, it all boils down to our desire to go further and faster than we’ve been before, and if we can do it with our mates in tow, then it’s even better.

Dear Santa…

Granted, vehicles can be quite pricy, but this helpful list wouldn’t be the same without the inclusion of lumps of metal powered by barely-contained explosions.

4. Fishing gear

There’s a primal bit, right at the base of our brains, which compels us to hunt and provide for our families, and it’s rarely satisfied in the modern world. Did you fight a bear for your dinner last night? No? Well that’s a problem, isn’t it? How are you going to satisfy that primal alpha-male urge? Certainly not by knocking out a koala. The solution lies in obtaining fishing gear. Ideally it’s a rod, a tackle box and a reel full of line, but in some circumstances some line and hooks wrapped around a bit of wood suffices.

A time when men were Men

Fishing gear is our connection to a different time – when we had to kill our dinner in the great outdoors. It exposes us to fresh air, new sights, and the thrill of pursuing a quarry. Mates are usually in this equation too (as you may have noticed, it’s a recurring theme here). Sure, fishing on your own can be fun and relaxing, but it’s not the same as sharing the excitement of a large catch with someone else.

It’s also fun to say ‘Yeah, you can hold the fish anywhere, it isn’t poisonous’ when you know full well that it is.

3. Lego Technic

I shouldn’t even have to explain this one. Every young boy liked Lego in some shape or form. If a bloke claims to have never enjoyed Lego in his life, it’s time you started questioning his gender and his claim that he pisses standing up. Lego Technic is the gateway to understanding how stuff works and it’s been the inspiration for engineers the world over. If that isn’t enough there’s also a theme park dedicated to it which proves that you can do nearly anything with Lego if you set your mind to it.

Since anecdotal evidence is the most reliable form of evidence I’m going to share a little story with you all. When I was 8 years old all I wanted for Christmas was the Lego Technic Thunder Rescue Helicopter, and my parents knew it, but they couldn’t afford it. Slightly disappointed, but entirely understanding, I made a list of other Lego that I wanted for Christmas and put the helicopter firmly on the ‘Unobtainable’ shelf in my mind. I knew, KNEW that I wouldn’t be getting that set for Christmas, so imagine my reaction when, on Christmas morning, I unwrapped a large box with the Thunder Rescue Helicopter inside. My body was electric and I was left in stunned grateful silence. It is the best gift I have ever received, and I’m betting ever will receive, purely because it was a dead-certainty that I would never get it. And yet there it was. It ranks higher than a car or my guitar because in my 8-year-old mind I may as well have asked for the moon.

THAT is why a Lego Technic model is in this Manly Gifts list – because all guys are secretly 8 years old.

It may not look like much to some, but to others it’s the whole world.

2. A Stihl Chainsaw

The only reason this isn’t number one is because blokes haven’t worked out how to have sex with it - in fact, it’s well-documented that we shouldn’t even try. These things are dangerous, really loud and quite powerful – all the reasons why we want to own one. Why did I specify Stihl brand? Because I’m sponsored by them. But really, the reason is because they make bloody good chainsaws and the Stihl orange is now synonymous with quality. Great, I sound like a bloody ad.

Oh you are just gorgeous

The point is, these things are fantastic. They make a noise which is second-to-none, the combined smell of two-stroke fuel and sawdust is better than… I dunno, I got distracted thinking about it. When you’re using one the weight and vibration and sound and threat of imminent death is intoxicating – you feel like the strongest person in the world. Chainsaws can also kill or maim you if you lose concentration! How cool is that! Also, you can cut down trees with them which is a manly experience in itself. Ever cut down a tree? You should. It’s great.

1. A woman

I know it’s weird how ‘a woman’ is number one in this ‘manly gifts’ list, but bear with me. Women are beautiful creatures and they don’t nag all the time if you pick the right one. They’re there to look after you when you’re sick, console you when you’re sad, praise you when you succeed, they’re great to look at and the right one likes a bunch of the same stuff that you like. They do a bunch of other stuff too: they have real hair, moveable joints and a karate-chop action! Women remember important dates, so you’ll never need to carry a diary around, and they know everything there is to know about medical stuff, so you’ll never have to remember the ‘right’ questions to ask your doctor.

Nurses don’t use stethoscopes, but I’m willing to overlook that just this once

You’ll have someone to share the cooking and cleaning duties with, someone to tell jokes to and someone to grow old with. Plus, they do all the things that the rest of the stuff in this list does – they can get you beers from the fridge, they can drive you places, they can go fishing, they can cut wood and they have lots of fiddly bits to play with as well. just like Lego. In fact, forget about the driving and fishing and beer and tree-felling, and let’s talk more about those fiddly bits…

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The 6 ways Twilight: Eclipse can be more Twilighty than Twilight (it will be terrible)

In a tall tower somewhere in Hollywood, the people responsible for the Twilight movies are lounging around on a pile of money and pre-teen angst. New Moon shattered all the box office records set by The Dark Knight (it’s ok, even we don’t know how that happened), and the people in charge want to milk the cash cow some more by releasing the next movie by June 2010. That’s only six months away! Sound unachievable? Sound like madness? Well, so do the producers tasked with this feat, so they put out the call for proposals on how to best tackle the situation.

6. The Script

How it’s usually done:

All movies start with either a script, or a pitch to write a script. If there’s a script the studio pays the writer for it, and then changes everything, because studios are run by jerks. If there’s only a pitch, the studio straps a monkey to a typewriter and says, ‘Write a movie about stuff blowing up around Bruce Willis.’

The script is what the movie is based on; it tells the actors what to say, it establishes the setting for the story and it tells the director when to insert a kickarse car chase. A good script, like the one used for The Usual Suspects, can make for an enthralling thriller. A bad script, like the one used in every Eddie Murphy movie, leaves the audience feeling cheated but, hey, at least there WAS a script.

How Twilight: Eclipse should do it:

Forget this stage completely, just like the Twilight books forget to include a plot. The movies don’t NEED a script – this isn’t The Shawshank Redemption, this is fucking Twilight. It doesn’t need to make sense, it just needs to appeal to naïve pre-teens and horny 18-year-old girls. Just roll those cameras and feel the angsty one-dimensional love (by the way, that’s the name of my new band). Twilight and New Moon set the precedent on this one – they apparently didn’t use a script, so why the hell should the third movie? It SHOULDN’T, that’s why. It’d ruin the authentic Twilight vibe with things like ‘dialogue’ and ‘coherence’. Does Twilight’s lead character, Pale McRapey, ruin the mood by thinking before he speaks? OF COURSE HE DOESN’T. He just stares moodily into space and mumbles anything while his girlfriend stumbles around dropping things.

'I can’t believe they’re actually paying me to do this'

5. Casting Calls

How it’s usually done:

The studio (run by jerks) has a script and they need to fill all the roles required. They choose a director and spend months filtering out terrible candidates through an arduous audition process. Their goal is to find someone with that X factor, that thing that makes them stand out from all the rest. It could be their acting ability, it could be their chiselled jaw, or their big boobs (this is usually where the casting for female leads ends) or, as happens most often, it could be the actor’s HUNGER and LUST and LACK OF DIGNITY that gets them the gig. What we’re saying is that some actors don’t SUCK at what they do.

How Twilight: Eclipse should do it:

Casting? The studio doesn’t need to do that shit. They already have their one-dimensional, pseudo-attractive lead actress from the first two movies, why change it now? Female audiences love it when the ugly duckling gets her man, because there’s an ugly duckling in every girl, waiting to turn into a swan.

Fun fact: ‘Ducklings are baby ducks. Cygnets are baby swans. Please get it right.’

The male lead from the first two movies is back as well, so there is no need for the studio to go through the frankly terrifying ordeal of finding a pigeon-chested little bastard in Hollywood who looks like a rapist. Against all odds, the studio has their token eye-candy for the movie too in the form of a pre-cast actor from movies one and two. Did we mention that he isn’t underage in this film and that it’s now legal for audiences to be aroused by him?

Sure, Twilight: Eclipse contains more than three characters (does it? I haven’t read the book), but no one cares who plays them. The studio will just paint ‘Vampire Three’ on the sound guy and throw some flour on him before pushing him into shot – no one cares, they’ll be too enthralled by Pale McRapey’s moody stare and Wolfy McChildporn’s muscle tone.

‘Old men in trench coats are gonna be all up on my shit’

4. Location Scouting

How it’s usually done:

Directors and producers traipse all over the globe looking for that ideal location. For Quantum of Solace they went to Havana on a location scout. Why? Because if you had an all-expenses-paid trip to Cuba, wouldn’t you?


It’s ok, neither would I, but Hollywood types love expense accounts and the perks that come with them.

That’s the beauty of Hollywood – no location is off-limits, especially when it comes to cashing in on a semi-poorly-written, semi-novel about vampires.

How Twilight: Eclipse should do it:

Location Scouting is for amateurs. Take my advice, producers, you don’t need to scout SHIT for Eclipse because you did all that way back in the Twilight: The First Movie days, remember? You already have a foggy pine forest to film in, you already have an architect’s house to film in, and you already have tumbledown shanty to film in (McRapey’s girlfriend’s house could be described as a shanty, right?). What else do you need? Fucking NOTHING is what. Why should you spend valuable time which you don’t have scouting out locations which will just end up on the cutting room floor? ‘You shouldn’t’ is what I’m getting at. If you deviated from the well-established ‘Of course vampires live in forests, there’s no sun there’ you would just piss off all the girls who haven’t seen the two Blade movies (as far as I’m concerned Blade Trinity doesn’t exist).

3. Special Effects

How it’s usually done:

In any way possible. These days it’s mostly done on computers, but before the electronic age it was the domain of puppets and fishing line. Back then special effects could be done fairly easily and quickly, and they were cheap too. Nowadays it’s a whole different ballgame; a whole different expensive and time-consuming ballgame. Movies like Star Wars and The Matrix are game-changers, and push the boundaries of what is possible to do in the digital space.

'Mister Lucas, can you PLEASE put down the crack pipe?'

In addition to all the ‘obvious’ special effects like explosions and spaceships are the colour-grade and filtering effects. Remember in The Matrix how everything in the ‘real world’ had a blue hue to it whereas everything inside the Matrix had a green tint? That’s the colour-grade at work – slight manipulation of the footage to bring out certain colours or add a narratively-essential effect (matrix blue/green). Every movie is colour-graded, whether you realise it or not.

‘Bring up the white some more. She doesn’t look boring enough’

How Twilight: Eclipse should do it:

I have three words for you: ‘Bucket’ ‘Of’ ‘Glitter’. That’s it. The studio doesn’t need fancy computer graphics to bring their poncy vampires to life – they just need to sprinkle a popular craft accessory all over their actors shortly before the camera rolls. Pale McRapey not enough of a glitter queen? Just use more glitter. Vampires not pale enough? Just throw flour at them until they develop a wheat allergy. It’s really fucking simple, and I am disgusted that the studio didn’t pay ME to do the effects for the first two films. I could have spent the effects budget on cheap polish vodka and mail-order brides whilst STILL delivering on my promise of providing ‘The sparkliest damn vampires you’ve ever seen. Like, you don’t even KNOW’. Fuck Blade’s lava and ash; it’s all about glitter and getting in touch with your feelings.

Glitter-queen rapists aside, what about the colour grade?

What colour grade? The scenes in Twilight are so full of fog that you can’t see shit anyway, so why do you want to change the mood? Vampires and teenage girls LOVE fog, and the fog helps accentuate how pale and bland the characters are, so any changes made in post-production would be artistic suicide (Erotic artistic suicide – that effects budget won’t spend itself).

2. Sound and Music

How it’s usually done:

While the movie is being shot, the composer gets to work writing music that reflects the action in the script. As the filming is completed he or she then alters the music accordingly to better reflect how the movie ACTUALLY turned out after the jerk studio altered the script. Sweeping scores match sweeping wide shots; deep, drawn-out tones enhance scary moments; exciting guitar riffs follow helicopter shots of pirates. The music is an alternative interpretation of the script and should complement the story that unfolds.

Likewise with sound effects – they enhance the mood on screen and add something to the experience. Think the squeaking bed in your favourite love scene was recorded on-set? It wasn’t. The sound was creating by the Foley artist squeezing two dog toys with his hands (that isn’t a euphemism). Ever wondered how they made that aroused moaning sound that comes out of the female lead’s mouth? Bears.

The real face of celluoid orgasms

How Twilight: Eclipse should do it:

This movie is all about werewolves or vampires or something (are there werewolves in Twilight: Eclipse?) so the chances of a bear turning up are slim to none. The only sounds you need are wolf howls, mouth-breathing (for Pale McRapey) and crickets chirruping to enhance the tension of the moody stares. Are McRapey and his Love Slave having a deep-and-meaningful talk in the forest? Add cricket noises. Is Wolfy McChildporn is getting his wolf junk out and flexing his muscles? Add cricket noises and a howl – even if his mouth is shut. The audience won’t notice this minor detail as they’ll be too enthralled by his pendulating red rocket. Twilight movies are all about clichés, so include as many as you can, especially in the sound department. Remember the sound of exploding vampires in Blade? Well forget it – Twilight vampires are all about twinkling, so hire the people who did Tinkerbell’s sound effects in Peter Pan and you’re sitting on a solid gold winner.

1. Direction

How it’s usually done:

A director usually reads a script, makes a metric shit-ton of notes, and storyboards his or her balls off to make the movie work. The reason The Lord of the Rings was so good was due to Peter Jackson’s fastidious storyboarding process. Every single shot was mapped out, revised, deleted and mapped out again so everything flowed. The director is responsible for motivating the actors and tying the whole production together. Grass not green enough? Change it. Backlot village not real enough? Blow up a real one. Directors give the movie focus – they decide what stays and goes, what’s good and what’s not, when the actors should show some more skin (every Jessica Biel movie), and when they should cover up (every Kathy Bates movie).


The creative force behind any movie comes from the person in the cheap canvas chair, and if a solid script is turned into a terrible movie, the blame rests solely with them.

How Twilight: Eclipse should do it:

It’s been established that Twilight: Eclipse won’t have a script – that’s an old-fashioned way to make films - and the guy who directed Twilight: New Moon, Chris Weitz, has announced that he’s quitting the film industry after his next project. There is only one rational conclusion to draw from this: Twilight: Eclipse should go one step further and not have a director at all, not even at the start of the project. Hell, what even needs directing? The actors? Of course not, they don’t even have a script to read! Besides, I’m sure they’ve seen humourless, blank cliff faces before, they just need to replicate that, but on film, just like they did in the first two movies.


As for the editing process, it’s clear that nothing from the first films got cut, because if there was, there wouldn’t actually BE any Twilight films in the first place. Think outside the box, studio jerks. Think beyond your cocaine-fueled sexy-party filled existences and consider my proposal for the next Twilight movie. Face it: it can’t be worse than what you’re already considering.