Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Ackermansion is Closed

Sad news kids, Forrest J. Ackerman, science fiction pioneer and grandfather of genre geekdom, passed away last week. Ackerman coined the term "Sci Fi" and was also the creator and editor of the Famous Monsters of Filmland (aka Famous Monsters) magazine. Ackerman's home (aka the Ackermansion) served as a museum for his vast collection of horror and science fiction memorabilia, allowing fans to see original movie props from the golden age of cinema through to the present.

I first became aware of Mr. Ackerman (who was fondly called Uncle Forry by his fans) sometime in the mid-nineties, during the comic book/trading card/collectible boom. The Ackermansion and its staggering collection of books and props were frequently featured in a number of documentaries on collecting and/or classic genre films. For me, the Ackermansion was one of the holy grails of movie geek must-see locations. Sadly, I'll never get the chance to get a guided tour from the man himself.

Ain't It Cool News has a few tribute pieces featured on their site. Some of which you can read here and here.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

That's one surly Sasquatch

Hey Kids! Did you miss me?

This blog has definitely proven to be a source of disappointments, but usually those disappointments were reserved for you, the reader. But now I've gone and disappointed myself. For the longest time, I took some pride in the fact that I had posted an entry at least once a month since I started this blog. Usually it was a blatant cop-out or a placeholder post, but dammit, it was better than nothing. So, it was especially disheartening for me to realize on Monday that I totally forgotten to pay literary lip service to this blog throughout the entire month of November.

I suppose it could be worse. It's not like I was trampled to death by frantic shoppers. I used to look forward to watching the news reports about Black Friday. Those short CNN clips that showed people scrambling and fighting one another in an attempt to be the first one through the doors at 5 am. Usually the insanity resulted in little more than some scrapes and bruises and surprised testimonials from the morons that waited all night in the cold so they could save $50 on a new TV. Like a black eye in a mosh pit, the violence and subhuman behavior was always seen as something simultaneously shocking and yet somehow inevitable. I say, next year, give those Wal-Mart greeters tasers.

Speaking of things shocking yet inevitable, winter is upon us. I can't speak for everyone but here in the Maritimes the onset of winter is often viewed as an unprovoked personal attack. Every year Maritimers seem to greet the snow and dropping temperatures as if they were experiencing these meteorological phenomena for the first time. Some find themselves asking questions like, "why is it so damn cold?" "What the hell is this white stuff falling from the sky?" and "Why don't I know how to drive anymore?" I'm starting to think that all the vitamin D we soak up from the summer sun erases all the painful winter memories from our brains.

And on the subject of dwindling grey matter, Roger Ebert recently wrote and interesting screed on his blog about the death of formal film criticism. Ebert cites the rise in celebrity culture as a major factor in the decline and slow death of print based film criticism. I'm inclined to agree with Ebert to some extent on this topic. A few years ago when I first started reading/using IMDB, their news feeds were mostly filled with stories about films and film productions. In the last year, I noticed that IMDB's news feeds have become almost exclusively concerned with celebrity culture. Who's dating whom, who made what faux pas and what they were wearing. As I said, I mostly have to agree with Ebert on this topic, but there is one facet of the decline of formal (ie. print based) film criticism that Ebert doesn't seem to take into consideration: the internet. The proliferation of blogs and movie based websites has made traditional print based film criticism almost unnecessary. The entire newspaper industry is likely feeling effects similar to those felt by the music and film industry. Traditional media outlets are losing ground every day to the internet. Why would someone want to pay for a copy of the Chicago Sun Times to read a Roger Ebert movie review, when that same review is available for free on his website? I can't blame Ebert for decrying the death of print based film criticism, if all the newspapers fired all the critics he'd be out of a job (more or less).

And finally on a marginally less dour note (no pun intended), I suggest that you all check out one of my new favorite websites Passive Aggressive Notes. The site features a frequently updated collection of passive aggressive notes left for others (roommates, co-workers, customers, neighbors, etc.) If you've ever found a note on your door with a "helpful" suggestion from someone without enough backbone to actually confront you, then you'll enjoy this site.