Goodbye, Mr. Williams

 

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You know a person has touched people deeply and often – by using the gifts they were born with – when the mediasphere suddenly stops and almost universally covers that person’s death… regardless of how tragically meaningless said death was.

Even the White House made a statement in regards to Robin William’s death.

When Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton eventually O.D. from whatever party drugs are in vogue at the moment, sure the media will blurb about it over the course of the day, but people will collectively shrug while TMZ treats is like a national emergency.

I’m sad that such a vibrant and often brilliant man had come to a point in his life where he thought there was no other escape but through the veil to whatever exists after this mortal coil – but in some ways, I don’t think there could have been any other outcome to Robin’s life: when a person has such a manic and larger-than-life energy, you could hardly imagine the depths of the inevitable lows when all the laughter ran out.

In our daily lives, there are certain universal constants that we all assume will be there the next morning after we go to sleep – and the presumption that Robin Williams would always be there with a movie (regardless of how shitty or uninspired the plot might be) or TV show or stand-up comedy special was something most of us were guilty of.

In some ways, Mr. Williams was the toy that we forgot we had: the one that slowly creeps to the back of the bedroom closet until, one day, your parents come along and toss it in the trash because they never see you play with it  – and the very next day, you remember you had that toy and go to play with it… only to feel the guilt and sorrow that comes from the realization of all the fun possibilities that you’ll never get to make good on.

Robin had surely felt the lack of love on our part since we had lost interest in the trademark zaniness that had been pasteurized and shaped into a formula by studio focus group testing – which is both our own fault for not embracing edgier material, as well as not holding studios to a higher standard with our hard-earned dollars.

As with all suicides, both of the celebrity kind and that of regular everyday people whom you know personally, we don’t realize how much someone means to us until they’ve gone – leaving us all to gaze inwards at ourselves and wonder why we didn’t do more to make that person understand that they had people who loved them dearly.

The prevailing wisdom on the topic of suicide is that it’s “a permanent solution to a temporary problem”, but those who are in the dank pit of depression completely lack the perspective to make that kind of differentiation – which means that all of us have a moral obligation to make sure that we help them find the path back out into the light… and it’s something that we’re woefully inept at since most of us are all too caught up in our own little lives to be bothered with helping a fellow soul out in their time of need.

If Mr. Williams had been able to witness the outpouring of love and admiration that came after his death today (well, yesterday since it’s now after midnight as I write this), I’m absolutely certain that he would have been able to get through the darkness that was consuming his troubled soul.

While unnatural celebrity deaths are one of the unavoidable truths of Hollywood, they fall into a few different categories.

The first is accidental: where a celebrity meets their end due to forces mostly beyond their control – like when Paul Walker met his end in a car wreck… and while these events are sad, they fall in line with the rules of the universe.

The second is accidental drug overdose: where the party-hard lifestyle of Hollywood’s A-list crowd collides with the vicious downside of the illicit drug trade – but that downside is always a possibility since there are no strict quality standards for illegal substances, nor are you always going to be able to use appropriate judgement of how much drugs you can safely take while you’re under the influence of drugs… which is a lesson we learn from the death of someone like Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

And then we have the third, the celebrity suicide: the last, pathetic cries of a usually washed-up actor or actress who has pissed away their fortune and alienated the Hollywood establishment by either generally making an ass of themselves in public forums or signing on to any piece of drivel that comes along in order to make some quick cash so they can fuel their own self-destructive tendencies with shit tons of alcohol or street drugs.

Having reached rock bottom, these former celebrities stick a shotgun in their mouths at a seedy motel and pull the trigger, which generates a few headlines due to our collective morbid curiosity about such things.

But I don’t think Robin Williams was anywhere near has-been status, nor could he have been conceivably poor since he surely still makes plenty of coin through royalties on past hits – as well as having been recently the star of a network television series, regardless of how well it was or wasn’t  received by critics and audiences alike.

In many of today’s articles written after his death, it was revealed that Robin had been fighting substance addiction… which I suppose would be almost unavoidable given his manic personality, but it also underlines one of the facts that we at home overlook: actors, actresses, music artists, and sports celebrities are still human beings – and if any of us mere mortals were to endure the kinds of pressure these people do in their highly performance-oriented lives, many of us would crumple under the weight of endless demands.

I say that last part not to excuse the alcoholism or pill dependency that many celebrities develop, but to simply understand that each and every human being needs some downtime where they are free from worry or stress.

In the end, I truly feel for Mr. Williams’ family who have been left with both a gaping hole where their loved one used to be and a three-ring media circus that will spend the foreseeable future scrutinizing Robin’s life in the months leading up to his suicide in the supposed search for answers, but mostly just to sensationalize the final few sad and lonely moments of an apparently broken man.

 

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Welcome To Earth, Bitch! *uppercut*

Gipsy Danger

Seriously, folks… go see this incredifuckingmazing movie right now! 8 times!

Please – for the love of whatever god or gods you believe in – don’t let the absolute fucking stupidity of GROWN UPS 2 win the box office for this weekend.

This isn’t TRANSFORMERS… it isn’t GODZILLA (that’s next summer)… it’s not POWER RANGERS like some fucktards have been saying.

PACIFIC RIM is it’s own thing with it’s own style and it’s own big damn heroes – 80 meter tall robots beating the shit out of 2,500 ton aliens.

While it’s best seen in 2D (shot in 2D and then converted to 3D – though all the CGI is rendered in 3D, so I suppose it’s a wash as to which is ‘better’), you may have a hard time finding 2D showings as theatre owners are a bit nervous about the profitability – especially with surveys showing GROWN UPS 2 to be of more interest to the movie going public… which means they’re forcing the majority of ticket buyers to pay the $3 – $5 3D surcharge in an attempt to maximize revenue.

However you end up seeing it, make sure it’s on the biggest screen you can get to: the action is HUGE.

If you were ever a child filled with wonder, then make sure you see this movie.

***

Farewell, SGU.

I’ll freely admit that I was near tears when the episode faded to black after watching Destiny’s hyperspace trail disappear into the stars.

“Poor Eli,” was all I could muster.

And for a moment, every episode of Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, and Stargate Universe that I could remember played in reverse order – right back to Jack O’Neil sitting on his boat before Daniel asks him to come back to the SGC.

As much as it hurts those non-haters in this crowd, the franchise did deserve a rest – 13 or so years of constant production is almost unparalleled in TV history outside of soap operas (which are also dropping like flies).

Outside of Star Trek, what genre series has come even close? And, no, Doctor Who doesn’t count because it went out of production for a spell – unlike ST:TNG, DS9, Voyager, and eventually Enterprise… which had been in production from 1987 thru to 2005.

But back to Stargate.

The end of SG on Syfy is all about dollars and cents, and not a lack of faith in the producers – a move to service the dumb-as-rocks viewers Syfy and their new Comcast overlords want to chase with advertisers in tow.

The only space opera left is the BSG: Blood & Chrome – which goes back to the tried and true “shoot ’em up” that makes the CroMags (tee hee… name check) happy, and thusly lifts the spirits of each advertiser that will want to shill Budweiser, Cheetos, and Snuggie For Pets.

As many have pointed out in various forums, Syfy should change their slogan to “Check Your Brain At The Door’… so a series that requires a little thought would naturally get shit canned.

It was funny: a few nights ago, I was watching 28 WEEKS LATER after a number of years and was amused to see Robert Carlyle in it – and couldn’t keep from making Rush jokes to myself.

And that’s how it will be for the time being – us at home seeing SGU and other SG actors in shows made after and before the SGU cancellation and wondering…

Wondering whatever became of their SG alter egos  – of all the dramas, plots, and character developments.

We can only hope that the time between now and the time SG comes back to us will be filled with SGU comics, novels, and other licensed tie-ins.

At least then we’ll know what happens to Eli.

Me, personally? I think he’ll let Ginn out of her computer stasis so it can be just the two of them until the lights finally go out.

The Popularity Of Hatred

Has anyone noticed that since the interwebs became the primary communication tool for the human species that, as a society, we’ve all taken a turn towards the mean side of things?

And I’m not talking about the cyber-bullying swarms out there, but more about how quickly we jump on a bandwagon that’s draped with a banner proclaiming WE HATE ________________.

How is it that we’ve gone from a culture of the individual to a culture of joiners?

Where did we stop thinking for ourselves and switch to the blithely ignorant masses?

I present to you three cases of group hating:

1) Everybody hates Nickelback.

2) Everybody hates AVATAR.

3) Everybody hates Uwe Boll.

But when you boil everything down with facts, only one of the above bares out to be true.

Let’s start with the first item… about how everybody on the planet hates Nickelback according to the sentiment of the internet.

Fact: According to Pollstar, Nickelback is 6th on the list of touring bands last year.

Fact: Nickelback sells an average of 6 million albums per release.

And yet everybody online claims that they’re worse than the Black Plague – which makes no bloody sense when you take into account the cash they rake in since obviously a lot of people are buying their CDs, going to their concerts, and snapping up their merchandise.

Their Facebook page has 3,753,664 fans – nearly as many as Jay-Z.

If the internet hatred mills was correct, Nickelback would have a hard time booking third rate bars in nowhere towns like Buttfuck, Idaho – and that simply isn’t the case.

Alright, now on to the second item: the universal hatred for James Cameron’s AVATAR.

Despite being relatively new to the cultural awareness,  AVATAR still racks up the kind of seething hate that Nickelback does when you tour around the web’s various message boards, site forums, and self-styled movie review depots.

They poke fun at the CGI… say the story was ripped off from other movies… call Sam Worthington wooden, etc.

Ready for the facts?

FACT: Avatar is the highest grossing movie of all time.

FACT: Avatar won a number of Oscars.

FACT: Despite the potentially enormous cost, 20th Century Fox has said okay to 2 more sequels to what is apparently the most hated movie ever.

Finally… on to the lats group.

Everybody hates Uwe Boll.

No… really… everybody does.

Uwe Boll is a movie “director” based out of Germany who buys up movie properties and then proceeds to destroy that property with completely inept, incompetent, idiotic, moronic, senseless movies that could be written and directed by drunken raccoons who had figured out how to turn on a camcorder someone left outside.

Boll’s reign of cinematic terror was enabled for a long while by a peculiar tax benefit that guaranteed any movie production to – at the bare minimum – break even so that no money was lost by any party involved… which meant that no matter how shitty your movie was, you’d still make your money back.

Needless to say, this removed Uwe Boll from the end consequences of his playing movie director – there was no danger to him or the people he bilked into investing – which would normally be something along the lines of being banned for life from anything resembling a video camera.

Five of his “films” are on the list of 100 worst movies ever over at RottenTomatoes.com

So… the internet loves to rage – and really, that’s no surprise to anyone who reads the comments on any randomly selected YouTube video.

Haters gonna hate.

The problem with “Haters” (those people who hate certain things for no discernible or logical reason) is they skew the internet society’s view of things and issues  – preventing someone new to the scene from trying something that they might actually enjoy by making that person feel they’ll be somehow unpopular by doing so.

Now… before anyone who’s a regular reader of this blog says “but you hate a lot of things!“, let me remind you that I always explain my particular dislikes – mainly because I don’t want to be seen as a Hater.

In the end, I think the problem of Haters is due to the “quick hit” mentality of the Internet Generation where people what the information they’re seeking fast – a deterioration in the type of objective thought that would have normally been engaged when confronted with a supposed fact… but that would take too much time in the Google age.

It’s surprising how an entire school of thought (or lack thereof) has spread from the redneck population to more than 1/6th of the world – and will continue to saturate the internet consciousness for the foreseeable future… or at least until it becomes cool again to think.

Wait… nevermind.

It’s never been cool to be smart.

And now… a word on Usage Based Billing.

Let’s get something out of the way first, shall we?

Internet service is NOT like a utility service such as electricity or natural gas – and therefore can not be billed in the same fashion, nor should it be.

When your local utility service provider runs a meter on your electricity consumption or how much natural gas you use to heat your home, they do that for a very specific reason: it’s costs money to generate that electricity via power dams, windmill farms, solar power arrays, etcetera… and it costs money to develop that natural gas from the sources deep in the earth – you have to pay people to run the drills, process the elements, sail the natural gas tankers, or build the pipelines.

Now… I’m not saying that it doesn’t cost money to string wires and buy network switches – but in no way, shape, or form does it cost anything near what it costs to develop utility services.

In Canada, the largest internet service providers are trying to implement a “usage based billing” scheme upon their subscribers in the same way that you’d be billed for leaving your lights on at home all the time – except with the difference being that you’d have a flat rate up to a certain gigabyte level that you’ve agreed to in a package deal… and then, when you’ve passed that level – let’s say 60 gigabytes, you’d have to pay a steep overage charge of between $1 and $5 per GB.

The things that you should keep in mind going forward is that – according to network specialists that don’t represent Bell, Rogers, or Shaw – it costs anywhere between 0.0013 and 1.15 cents to send one gigabyte of data through Canada’s internet infrastructure – which is nowhere near the 100% to 500% markup that the large ISPs are demanding.

These ISPs had hoodwinked the Canadian Radio And Telecommunications Commission (the equivalent of the F.C.C. in the United States Of America) into agreeing to allowing these companies to charge their own customers these exorbitant fees PLUS forcing independent internet service providers (who purchase their internet backbone access wholesale from Bell Canada et al) to pass on UBB charges to their own customers as of the beginning of March 2011.

This would, in effect, remove all of the unlimited internet use packages available to subscribers of the smaller ISPs – which was, and has always been their major advantage in attracting internet customers away from the major ISPs who tend to offer firmly defined data caps (60GB, 125GB, 200GB, etc.).

By forcing the little guys to bill the same way that the big guys do, the CRTC had completely leveled the playing field – save for those few independent ISPs who had their own internet equipment that did not rely on Bell.

In Bell’s own words as they appeared before the government panel investigating UBB on February 10th, 2011: “…it (UBB) prevents them (independent ISPs) from differentiating their offers from our own.”

Gone would be the all you can eat internet buffet for $50… which an independent ISP could offer to attract new customers, which I’m sure pissed Bell Canada and it’s corporate allies off to no end because their corporate culture was based around screwing their customers any way they could through oppressive overage schemes.

In today’s world of ever-growing data bandwidth, a gigabyte doesn’t go as far as it did in days gone by… even in as little as five years ago.

In 2011, internet users have so many choices available to them online that are fairly data intensive: YouTube, Flickr, streaming Quicktime, Steam, and services like Netflix.

Even those people who like to haunt Facebook and Twitter are pulling down large chunks of data when playing Farmville or watching videos of their nephew’s little league game.

Bell Canada, Rogers Communications, Shaw Media, and the other large ISPs are entitled to make money… nobody is suggesting that they should give away internet service for free.

What has caused nearly half a million people to sign a petition, and what most people would agree to when asked on the street, is that the large ISPs should collect fees that reflect the actual costs of doing business – to have their billing practices be strongly rooted in reality.

Yes… there are an increasing number of Canadians using more than 200GB a month, but the problem is that Bell Canada and it’s friends don’t want to spend the money necessary to bolster their national infrastructure to accommodate this rising tide – and instead of doing the logical thing (building new and better data transmission networks), they want to stifle those 200GB+ users though harsh tariffs.

This is purely greed – nothing else.

The UBB pressure is aimed at maximizing profit.

Profit is good, yes… but obscene amounts of profit is simply evil – and the Canadian public is beginning to rise up against this unparalleled cash grab that isn’t replicated anywhere else in the world.

In a word, it’s uncompetitive – but that makes it too simple.

There are so many businesses in the Canadian marketplace that depend on a reliable, uninterrupted, and unlimited internet for everyone.

Do you think that places like internet cafes could remain in business if they’re forced to pay for their customer’s overages? I mean… I’m sure that you can’t offer internet to everybody who walks through the door and not blaze past 200GB in a month with little effort.

How about your local municipal library? Quite a few of them offer free internet access to their patrons… but would that concept still be viable when the library is being charged $5 for every gigabyte?

Don’t kid yourself: city hall would put a quick stop to that in very short order.

However, the biggest problem with UBB from an internet business standpoint – at least for those businesses that aren’t Bell & Co. – is that the UBB policy unfairly discriminates against companies like Netflix and YouTube that rely on their customers/visitors to be able to consume all the data they can put in front of their eyeballs.

This comes in direct competition to Bell & Co.’s own Media On Demand services – which generally have less content available than Netflix-type services – and results in lost revenue for the large ISPs.

So, again, instead of spending money to bolster their Media On Demand services, they want to quash those of you out their who would go to Netflix as a superior alternative by raping your wallets and bank accounts – forcing you to consume their paltry wares instead.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen such a clear-cut conflict of interest… such a blatant anti-competitive attack on consumers who dare to use anyone but the large ISPs and their various media holdings (CTV, Global Television, etc.).

Interestingly, the UBB provisions that the CRTC gave the okay to, are now in limbo as the federal government had told the CRTC to reconsider or be overruled point blank at the legislative level.

I say interesting because the Conservative Party Of Canada – the current party in power – is very, very friendly with Big Business.

To take a stand against the Big ISP lobby is contrary to party beliefs, and can only be interpreted as being responsive to public uproar – and a deft move to head off the opposition parties from gaining a political foothold that’s rooted in popular unrest.

Yes… it may be snide electioneering, but for the time being, the Government Of Canada is on the side of their electorate instead of giving away everything to Big Business.

How long this lasts is anyone’s guess… but I’d wager it will last as long as the Conservatives winning the next federal election – which is going to be sooner than later, after which time they won’t feel as threatened by the average Canadian citizen who uses the internet.

So, for now, do your part in trying to prevent Big ISPs from getting away with murder.

How?

Write a letter to your local MP… write a letter to your local newspaper’s editor… make a video about your views and post it on YouTube… call into a local radio show and tell them – and all the listeners – how you feel about the large ISPs trying to sodomize your cash flow.

Or… simply visit www.openmedia.ca and take advantage of their resources.

But, don’t take my word for it.

Go online – while you can afford it – and see what the average Canadian internet user thinks of UBB.

It’s A New Year: 2011

So… we’re one year away from the foretold 2012 Armageddon, and what are we all promising to do this year?

Lose weight? Be kinder to hobos? Cutting back on the kicking of puppies?

Sure… why not? They’re all worthy goals!

However, I lack such moral inspirations… so I’m going to list the things that I can probably handle pretty well in the year Two Thousand & Eleven.

Stormcastle’s List Of Resolutions:

01) Eat more nachos – specifically, nachos with bacon. Sadly, I lived the entirety of 2010 without making contact with nachos of any kind.

02) Have more sex.

03) Eat less asparagus.

04) Drink less beer.

05) Take more road trips.

06) Legalize my name.

07) Buy more Blu-Rays.

08) Avoid blatant corporate pandering.

09) Be less trendy.

10) See more movies.

11) Take public transit to save the environment.

12) Spend less time making fun of Stephen Harper.

13. Buy more things made in Canada.

14) Find new ways to make interracial exchanges.

15) Eat less Kraft Dinner/Macaroni & Cheese.

16) Appreciate the special people in my life more.

17) Spend less money on music.

18) Wear cleaner socks.

19) Spend more time in Second Life.

20) And finally… try to blog more.

There you have it, boys and girls of the world – the ways that I’m going to change myself in the first year of the 2nd decade of the new millennium.

Now… what are you gonna do?

Yay!

An Open Letter To Kristen Stewart

Stormcastle

Peterborough, Ontario

Canada

Ms. Kristen Stewart

Hollywood, California

U.S.A.

Dear Ms. Stewart:

I was saddened today to hear about your feeling like you were being raped by your fans and the media while you’re out and about in public.

How terrible it must feel to put up with photographers,  media journalists, and fans wanting to have your attention after the public was nice enough to line your pockets with millions of dollars for simply being yourself on movie and TV screens around the globe – well, maybe not EXACTLY like yourself since movie directors tend to make you express your default angst and lip biting on command instead of when you’re being naturally emo.

My heart goes out to you for having to deal with a public that has made you from a nobody bit player in the background of better actors’ scenes to a worldwide anti-crush for tween girls and cougar moms who would gladly kill you to share the limelight with Robert Pattison.

$26,000,000 (twenty-six million dollars in case you have problems with numbers) from the Twilight saga movie tickets – not including box office percentage points in your contract – does not in any way entitle society to be curious about you – to know what kind of person you are!

I find it incredibly ignorant and unimaginable that the general public doesn’t simply forget that you exist once the end credits roll.

I mean, seriously now… you’re not in this business for the money and fame.

In fact, I’m fairly certain that you’re being held captive in Los Angeles somewhere… being forced to go in front of the cameras time and time again – when you would really prefer to be working at a Taco Bell restaurant in Seattle.

The key to determining your slave status is that you simply refuse to act – which is a very clever tactic from someone who is serving her slave masters under what is surely the threat of being shot – in any movie these cruel and heartless movie pimps set you up in.

It’s easy to tell that this is your strategy when you compare your output in films like Twilight and Adventureland with footage of you in real life – there is absolutely no discernible difference!

Ms. Stewart, I really implore you to work harder at getting out the message to people that you want out of the Hollywood business.

Maybe you could learn Morse code and then blink your eyes in an S.O.S. pattern while on camera as Kristen Stewart Bella?

Someone out there in a movie theater will surely catch on and come to your rescue – escorting you to that job mopping floors at Taco Bell and allowing you to stew in your own angst privately.

But until then, the movie watching public will suffer – as you surely do – through the movies your agent/pimp makes you work in.

Yours sincerely,

Stormcastle

p.s. Could you please send me your millions of dollars since you don’t want them? I feel terrible that you’d be constantly antagonized by the fruits of your slave labor.