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By Samuel Stoddard

February 1999

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Saturday, February 27, 1999

Dave Parker, author of It's a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Movie, has more to say about this new feature:

"Many people don't understand why some people actually like to watch bad movies. To most people, a bad movie is some thing to stay away from. It's a bad experience that is best forgotton as soon as possible.

"Most people see movies to be entertained. They want to be engrossed in the story or the characters or the setting, and they want to quietly drink in the experience, to treasure it always if it turns out to be especially good. If a movie doesn't pull them in, if it isn't engaging and thought provoking (or at least good, slick entertainment) they consider it 'bad' and a waste of time.

"Not so with bad movie lovers. Oh, we want to be entertained, but not in the same way. Our entertainment comes not from the 'experience' of the movie, but from the movie itself -- we laugh at it, not with it.

"Watching a 'regular' movie is not the same as watching a bad movie. First of all, nobody is ever going to yell at you for talking during a bad movie. You're supposed to talk during a bad movie -- that's half the fun. Watch any episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 for a perfect example of this. Pointing out the idiocy and absurdity in bad movies is not only encouraged, it's necessary. You'd go insane trying to watch this stuff otherwise.

"Second, nobody wants to be engrossed in a bad movie. If you're engrossed, it's not bad. The proper way to watch a bad movie is with a sense of distance. Say to yourself, 'I know this is going to be bad. I will sit here and wait for the badness to start, and then I will laugh at it.' If you try to get engrossed in a bad movie, you'll only get frustrated and quite possibly go insane.

"Finally, remember that the best way to enjoy a bad movie is with friends. Jerry Seinfeld said it best -- I can't watch this movie alone! Who am I going to make snide comments to?' Watching bad movies is essentially a social experience -- get as many people together as will fit into your living room and have at it. Although I watched many of the movies on the It's a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Movie page by myself, I do not suggest that you attempt this yourself. I am a trained professional."

Friday, February 26, 1999

The ten best things to say if you get caught sleeping at your desk:

Thursday, February 25, 1999

Continuing the discussion of the new RinkWorks feature, It's a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Movie:

For the longest time, I never understood the attraction to watching bad movies just to laugh at them. I suppose this was partly because I hadn't seen very many good bad movies, if any, so by the time I got around to watching Gor, for example, I wasn't in the mindset to laugh at the incompetence; instead, I wasn't able to get over the film's utter inability to deliver what it was theoretically supposed to. Dave was much of the reason why I eventually came around. The other reason was my fondness of epic fantasy, a genre exploited prolifically in books but rarely in movies. When fantasy films are attempted, they are usually pretty awful. But so anxious was I to see epic fantasy on film that I began to resort to viewing the lowest of the low in the hopes I'd find something others missed. Finally I started laughing at the movies out of self-defense if nothing else.

Soon after Dave had the idea for It's a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Movie, which was inspired by his occasional contributions to At-A-Glance Film Reviews and his own love for good bad movies -- this would be late last summer -- he and I started watching bad movies together on the occasions we found to visit. Hence, some of the movies on his site you'll find my traditional reviews for on At-A-Glance Film Reviews. In all likelihood, certain titles will appear simultaneously in both from time to time.

But if you're not a bad movie lover, or can't find some of the more obscure titles anyway, you may well enjoy reading the reviews. Dave's theory about the site (and mine also) is that the reviews should be as entertaining to read as the movies are to watch. Good bad movies are rarely ruined by the foreknowledge of what will happen; we have sought to make It's a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Movie entertaining to read, whether you'll ultimately watch the movies or not.

Wednesday, February 24, 1999

I feel that it is only appropriate to follow a memorial journal entry that remembers a film critic who had a passion for originality in film and a distaste for shoddiness with a discussion of a site that celebrates the worst movies ever made.

It's a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Movie, a new site that opened on RinkWorks last Monday, was the idea of David J. Parker, who has collaborated on several RinkWorks features in the past. He is solely responsible for the creative content on the page, although I proofread and handle the technical aspects of the site.

The premise of the site is very simple -- one that a few are already familiar with but which many may not -- that certain bad movies can be greatly entertaining. Most movie fans recognize the title, Plan 9 From Outer Space, even if they've never seen it. It is widely considered the worst movie ever made. But contrary to conventional wisdom and the very definition of the word "worst," Plan 9 can be great fun to watch when in the proper mindset. The proper mindset, of course, is one prepared to laugh uncontrollably at failed efforts of filmmaking. When actors bump into paper sets, as in Plan 9 From Outer Space, it's funny. When the background scenery of a shot supposedly taken from the inside of a moving car travels the wrong way, as in Manos, Hands of Fate, it's funny. (Even the title "Manos, Hands of Fate" is silly -- "Manos" just means "Hands," so in English the title is "Hands, Hands of Fate.")

This is the type of thing spotlighted in It's a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Movie. The site's purpose is to help bad movie lovers find the good bad movies, for by no means are all bad movies also good to laugh at. Sometimes bad is just bad.

I'll talk more about this site in the next journal entry.

Tuesday, February 23, 1999

Goodbye, Gene Siskel. Last Saturday, Mr. Siskel, film critic for the Chicago Tribune and half of the partnership that comprised the Siskel & Ebert syndicated television show, died at age 53.

Dabbling in film criticism as I do for the At-A-Glance Film Reviews page, film criticism is a particular interest of mine. Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert were and are the two film critics I respect and look up to the most. Whether I agreed or disagreed with them, I can usually tell whether I'd like or dislike a movie based on their reviews. On their television show, the team had a chemistry greater than the sum of its parts. Whether I agreed or disagreed, they were entertaining to listen to, informative, intelligent, and perceptive, and honest -- qualities these days that are not always found in film critics. As a team, Siskel and Ebert inspired me to look more closely and thoughtfully at movies and had a hand in building my appreciation for originality in them. I have read, and will continue to read, Roger Ebert's reviews on the web; I regret that Gene Siskel's reviews have not been as readily available. Here you can read Roger Ebert's farewell article to Gene Siskel.

Tuesday, February 16, 1999

Answers to the reader question, "If you could be any type of cloud, which one would you be and why?" follow:

Thursday, February 11, 1999

The Dialectizer is back up and running, I hope. I brought it back yesterday, actually, to see how things went. It's set up, now, so that no more than four people can use the web page translator at the same time. Yesterday, the problem was that occasionally it would die without freeing up the lock -- eventually resulting in continual "too many users" errors when no one at all was using it. So now I have a check in place to guard against that. It should work now. We'll see in a few days, after it's had a chance to be tested thoroughly.

Second call on the reader question, given below.

Monday, February 8, 1999

A new book election has started on the Book-A-Minute site. Go cast your vote for what you'd like to see condensed next.

Today's reader question: "If you could be any type of cloud, what would you be, and why?"

Sunday, February 7, 1999

Hello! It's been a while since I updated this, but frankly not much has been happening. I've been slowly plugging away at my new game. Dave and I made some progress on the upcoming It's a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Movie this weekend. And later today I will be posting a bunch more model horses for sale on EquiWorks.

In non-RinkWorks news, Everett Kaser has released a new puzzle game called Floyd's Bumpershoot. Check it out at the Everett Kaser Software home page. An update to Everett Kaser Software FAQ will include information on this new game, but I'm not sure when I'll do that.

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