Lime Crusha anyone?

It’s a well known scientific fact (made up by me, just now) that at some point in their childhood every human being on this earth has tried mixing orange juice with milk.

As a result of this experiment in rudimentary cocktail making most people have subsequently developed a stomach flipping aversion to the idea of mixing milk and citrus fruit ever again.

So when I saw this bottle of lime flavoured milk-shake on the shelves of our local supermarket I couldn’t quite reconcile it in my brain.

But if they make it then surely they must have at least some hope that someone is going to buy it? I mean yes, it sounds revolting, but maybe it’s one of those hidden gems – like pork scratchings, bananna sandwiches, or that stuff you pick out from between your toes.

So with a bit of encouragement from Evan I bought a bottle.

When I pored it out it’s colour did little to ease my qualms. Greeny white is not a good look for any beverage, especially not one containing milk. In fact it looked so much like something that had been left on top of the radiator for a week that I hatched a delightfully devilish wheeze.

When Kerry came home from work I would be waiting with a glass full of the stuff. I’d wave it in her general direction. Say something like “This milk smells a little funny, do you think it’s ok?”. Then swig the whole thing down, no doubt to the accompaniment of her horrified screams.

Bwa-ha-ha-ha!

In oder to celebrate my evil genius I took a congratulatory swig. And then promptly spat it out in an explosive spray into the sink.

Ladies and Gentleman, don’t believe the hype. This stuff is the foulest concoction known to man.

Should you too wish to revolt and disgust your wife/husband/loved ones for your own amusement then trust me, you’d be better off using real fetid milk rather than this stuff. I’m pretty sure the aftertaste would be shorter and less acrid.

Who’s idea was it to have chickens again?

I am man who likes to live life on the edge. I pick up and eat food I’ve dropped on the floor, I walk around with my shoelaces undone, and I even agree to go on hiking holidays with random weirdos I’ve met on the internet. If my middle name weren’t George, then you can bet your bottom dollar it’d be Danger. No wonder I’m idolized by millions.

However my life of excitement and peril is sometimes my undoing.

When tending to the chickens in the morning it’s become my habit to slip the eggs I collect into my pockets. This leaves my hands free to lock up the coop and perform any other random jobs that need doing. It has occasionally crossed my mind that this is a practice that may backfire on me at some point in the future, but like I say – I like to live life on the edge.

You can see where this is going can’t you.

Yesterday was a day like any other. I collected the eggs as normal and then pottered around doing my usual jobs. However whilst washing the dishes that afternoon I noticed that I had a large damp patch on my trousers. Assuming that I’d just splashed myself during a bit of overly exuberant scrubbing I just left it, figuring I’d just let it air dry (see, I told you I was a maverick). After fifteen minutes I started to idly wonder why the water didn’t appear to be drying. Half an hour went by and my suspicions were aroused enough for me to stick an exploratory hand in my pocket.

Let me tell you, it wasn’t pleasant.

So off came the trousers, into the washing machine went the wallet, and under the tap went my car keys and a rather eggy £5 note. And in the meantime the chickens (no doubt psychically picking up on my distress) made a dash for freedom, flapping over the garden fence in order to get closer to the house to crow about their victory. Two of them even got onto the roof of my car, an act of disrespect and defiance which is almost Hitchcockian in it’s audacity.

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They even crapped up there too, the swine.

So it seems my fine feathered fiends have won this battle, but the war is far from over. Let’s just hope they don’t find an anarchic and irreverent evil genius to lead them or they may one day take over the entire world.

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Oh bugger, we’re screwed.

Mockbusters: Movies We Love to Hate and Hate to Love

Over ten years ago, The Blair Witch Project amazed fans, not only due to edge-of-your-seat trajectory of story, but due to its limited budget as well.  Comparatively speaking, next to huge-budget films of that summer, BWP gained attention for next-to-nothing production costs.

The ‘shaky’ handy cam style of cinematography complemented the storyline and supposed ‘real-time’ action taped. Technically, BWP wasn’t a ‘mockbuster’ (the name had not been invented yet!), but it did prove you don’t have to spend a lot to recruit attention.

Next example of low-budget success is Sharknado (What’s worse than a tornado? One with sharks, obviously.) While the plot could (at best) be considered utterly ridiculous, and acting nothing short of the same, it was a huge success.

Mockery Works?

Mockery or satire has existed for centuries, entertaining those observing the content. Based on something existing, mockbusters seek to turn the more serious a bit on its head toward ‘farfetched.’ Remember Snakes on a Plane? Soon after came Snakes on a Train!  When Spielberg produced his War of the Worlds, a low-budget competitor also released a title of the same, experiencing great reception from watchers; Blockbuster video ordered thousands of copies.

Riding Coattails

Technically, if something is mocked, it’s likely popular, intriguing the interest of popular culture. For example, Glendale, CA film group, Renegade Animation rode the coattails of the Happy Feet penguin film, later releasing, Tappy Toes.

Some reviewers admit that mockbusters have success due to the already-proven recipe. Aside from knowing about the impending plot, producers of mockbusters know they’re leveraging a well-received storyline, mitigating the risk of great failure. Additionally, mockbusters have the benefit of knowing about the public’s reception, perhaps parodying that to improve entertainment levels.

Availability

The availability of online entertainment further aids the popularity of mockbusters. With the aid of downloading services like http://www.youtubedownloadersite.com, viewers can watch at their convenience from smart phones, desktops, etc. Even if viewers detest a downloaded mockbuster, little time and resources are invested in the venture. 

Too Easy

Perhaps the flourish of mockbusters follows the ease at which people compose and release content online and via digital means. Millions of web pages of content are produced each month, creating a virtual ‘wasteland’ ranging from hardly-mediocre to incredible.

Frankly, it’s too easy for mockbusters to exist. At first, the genre was likely a mere test or endeavor at grabbing attention that reached intention’s fruition. If something is profitable, it’s likely that emulators are not too far behind.

Will ‘mockbusters’ continue to flourish?  Only time will tell, yet don’t expect new ‘mock’ producers to yield in attempting to make headlines and profits from endeavors. A number of advantages are set in place, helping mockbusters gain a place in cinema history.Don’t expect Sharknado-like films to win Academy awards anytime soon, but considering intent, a number of these films have been hugely successful.

Make sure you remember to respect intellectual property.

Michael Lovett has a passion for the movie industry. From script trends to emerging talent to innovative technology, he enjoys blogging about the life of movies.

How to watch American US Netflix from the UK (and Australia and Canada too)

Watch netflix in the UK, Canada, and AustraliaA few years ago the US company Netflix expanded it’s video on demand service into the the United Kingdom. This was great news and is providing much needed competition to the Amazon owned DVD and streaming company Lovefilm.

Unfortunately the UK version of Netflix is nowhere near as good as the the US version. It costs the same amount (if not a little more – £5.99 a month) but has far fewer movies and TV shows available to watch. To be frank it’s not really worth the cash (much like Lovefilm’s streaming service – sorry Lovefilm).

HOWEVER

Netflix is a little quirky in that it’s membership operates on a global rather than national scale. And so loopholes exist.

Basically Netflix detects where you are geographically and allows you access to that particular area’s version of the Netflix service.

So if I took my iPad on holiday with me to America I would be able to access the US version of the Netflix service using my normal login and password, even though I joined the service in the UK and pay my Netflix subscription in UK pounds rather than US dollars.

This means that if you found a way to make Netflix think you are using their service in America (even though you were still at home in rainy England, Scotland, Wales, or wherever) then you will be able to access the US version of the service instead of the substandard UK version.

So how can you do this?

Well, the method I’ve come accross is by using a service called Unblock-US. This somehow tricks Netflix into thinking that your computer (or iPad, xBox, PS3, or whatever) is actually in America rather than your grotty spare room in Woverhampton.

The setup is relatively straight forward – you can either change a few settings on your PC/Mac (and so can consume Netflix just from your computer), or you can change some settings on your internet router (so anything connected to the net can use it – like a Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, iPad, iPhone, or one of those internet connected fridges that you bought at the 2004 ideal home exhibition).

Unblock-US is not free – it costs $4.99 a month. And you also still have to pay your Netflix subscription fee on top of that. And if you want to watch Netflix on your Xbox you have to be a member of Xbox Live too (so it all adds up)

I have no idea is this is legal. I suspect that, like region free DVD players, it’s currently a rather grey area – but I’m not basing that on anything other than a hunch.

I’m certainly not advocating you doing it. It’s almost certainly against the terms and conditions of Netflix, so I’m guessing there is a risk of having your membership terminated if you are caught.

But saying that, if you do chose to use Unblock-US I’d argue that you are definitely being more ethically sound than downloading stuff from torrent sites like pirate bay. After all, You aren’t stealing anything. You are paying for the content you are consuming, and you’re paying at a rate that’s both been agreed by the copyright holders and that will result in money finding its way into their hands.

In my mind it’s a bit like sneaking into a better seat in the theatre because you’ve noticed it’s empty. Sure, strictly speaking you may not be allowed to sit there; but you paid your price of admission dammit and it’s not going to make a difference to the rest of the audience.

How about you? Do you feel that using sites like Unblock-us are morally wrong? Let us know in the comments.

(I originally wrote this post for the Midnight Movie Club Podcast, however I’m shifting it over here because that’s just the way I roll people)

A Question of Taste

Yesterday I gave the kids some toasted crumpets* as an after school snack.

(*Note for the chronically foreign – Crumpets are a bit like a amalgamation of pancakes, bread, rubber tyres, and a particularly porous sponge. They date back to Anglo-Saxon times and got their name because if you blow gently into one of the many holes they make a sound a bit like a trumpet)

Because I am a kid and beneficent father I decided to give them a treat and top the crumpet with a thick layer of golden syrup*

(*Note for the chronically foreign – Golden syrup is a thick pale treacle, which looks a lot like honey. Unless the internet has lied to me it is manufactured via a complex process involving robot bees. In Australia they call golden syrup “Cocky’s joy” for some reason – it’s probably some sort of prison slang, you know what they’re like over there)

However, instead of the crumpets being met with joy and gratitude they were greeted with fear and suspicion.

“What’s this?” my daughter asked

“Golden Syrup! it’s lovely, try it! It’s the same stuff I make flapjacks with”

She gave a non committal grunt and tentatively put some of it to her lips.

“Yuck!” she said “It tastes like Marmalade!!”

Really?

Marmalade?

Even leaving aside the fact that she didn’t like the Golden Sryup, which in itself is almost beyond belief, how can you possibly think that Golden Sryrup tastes like marmalade? Especially seeing as though the marmalade she’s probably referring to is my own particular brand of home made marmalade which is so taut it can be used as a bleaching agent.

Sometimes my kids conservatism when it comes to food makes me despair. My daughter won’t eat mashed potato, my son won’t eat oven chips. My daughter won’t touch beef burgers, my son turns his nose up at chicken pie. My daughter doesn’t like any kind of tomato based sauce, my son doesn’t like yorkshire puddings.

In fact the only thing either of them will eat with any consistency is food that’s been cooked by my father-in-law, damn his eyes.

Still, all the more crumpets and marmalade for me I suppose.

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