Michael B. Duff

Lubbock's answer to a question no one asked

Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Diablo Cody is better than you

I’m so late to this party I had to help them clean up, but I can’t resist this post from Diablo Cody.

Here’s a quick summary for people who aren’t celebrity-obsessed 12-year-olds.

1. Diablo Cody has a blog.

2. Diablo Cody sells a script.

3. Important Movie People make Juno.

4. Juno explodes all over pop culture, bringing new slang and a newfound respect for reproductive rights to college campuses and junior high schools across the country.

5. Everyone on the Internet loves Diablo Cody for ten minutes.

6. Ten minutes expire, and the entire Internet turns on Diablo Cody like mama wolf consuming a diseased cub.

7. Hating Diablo Cody becomes the Next Great Internet Bloodsport, allowing the “Leave Britney Alone” guy to finally relax and put his phone back on the hook.

8. Diablo Cody proves she’s better than you by LEAVING THE INTERNET for a few months.

9. Diablo comes out of exile and returns to face a mob of jealous fanboys who hate her guts.

10. Diablo executes a flawless Mortal Kombat fatality move that spontaneously decapitates everyone who ever posted anything mean about her. Her rebuttal is so magnificient (and so obscene) that I can only post a little bit of it here:

I may have won 19 awards that you don’t feel I earned, but it’s neither original nor relevant to slag on Juno. Really. And you’re not some bold, singular voice of dissent, You are exactly like everyone else in your zeitgeisty-demo-lifestyle pod. You are even like me. (I, too, loved Arrested Development! Aren’t we a pretty pair of cultural mavericks?

I’m a 30-year-old woman with a dwindling interest in blog culture, and I don’t have time to address this ******** every time one of my projects comes out. I’m in love, I just bought a house, and my boss made E.T. I kind of have to focus on reality.

I almost jumped on the “Diablo Cody is lame” bandwagon a month ago, but I’m kind of in love with her now. I have a thing for angry, eloquent women who have just made millions and millions of dollars.


Don’t look at me like that.

Written by Michael B. Duff

October 2, 2008 at 17:22

Posted in Movies

A Beginner's Guide to Hating Scarlett Johansson

Scarlett Johansson in Lost in TranslationMost geeks cannot imagine hating Scarlett Johansson. At first, the concept is absurd, unthinkable — like making a Star Wars movie without CGI or eating a pizza with vegetables on it.

But geeks are quirky, contrary creatures. They love hating things that everybody else loves, and there is no hatred quite like the hatred of a film geek. To back up this assertion, I direct you to a brilliant piece of digital brutality written by Alex Carnevale.

At first, I couldn’t believe it. I was so bewildered by Alex’s post, I misreported his gender in my first draft, assuming that any writer who hated Scarlett Johansson (affectionately abbreviated “ScarJo”) had to be female.

Hating Scarlett Johansson, it’s like hating sunshine, or rainbows, or ponies. But here he was, Alex Carnevale, drinking the blood of unicorns and enjoying a big fat pony sandwich.
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Michael B. Duff

July 10, 2008 at 15:19

Posted in Movies

Ghostbusters, baby!

Who you gonna call? Sierra games has announced Ghostbusters: The Video Game — a beautiful series of words. Strikes that perfect note of nostalgia and anticipation. Ghostbusters was one of the best movies of the 80s, a great idea that quickly lost steam in the sequel and died an early death.

Now it's back, on the only platform that might be able to handle it, with a story written by its original creators.

One can't help but wonder, what other Bill Murray hits might make good games? I want to play Rushmore: The Video Game — managing a massive aquarium project while dodging cruel traps from my teenage rival.

Or how about The Game Aquatic with Steve Zissou? Lots of action in that one. Shooting pirates, tracking sharks, equipping speedos with different stat bonuses.

Or even Lost in Translation: The Video Game. Work your way through a minefield of dialog as you manage a platonic love affair with Scarlett Johansson. Too cold and she'll wander off. Too hot you'll come off like a creepy old man.

I'm picturing a relationship temperature graph with warning animations at both ends. Manage it right and the game will grant you a no-fault divorce.

Written by Michael B. Duff

November 19, 2007 at 12:46

Posted in Games, Movies




“I mock you, Darth Squash! The force has not given you strength enough to become a mainstream dessert item, or clairvoyance enough to avoid the carving knife!”


“I find your lack of faith disturbing.”

Written by Michael B. Duff

November 1, 2007 at 09:05

Posted in Movies

Duff: There is no such thing as a free monkey

Duff: There is no such thing as a free monkey

There is no such thing as a free monkey.

Recently I got a call from a lady named Betty Childers. Betty was calling to report “a scam on your Web site.” We take that kind of thing very seriously here at Lubbock Online, so I took her information and immediately checked with our classifieds manager.

Betty was responding to an ad that offered to provide a monkey from Cameroon “for free adoption.” The Avalanche-Journal stopped running these ads about a year ago, but versions of them are still floating around the Internet, waiting to trap the unwary.

Betty contacted a man named “Dennis Williamson” at his Yahoo address and eagerly awaited the arrival of her monkey. A few days later, she was told that Pan American Airlines needed her to pay $220 in “monkey insurance” before they could ship a monkey overseas. (Note: Pan American World Airways went out of business in 1991.)

Time passes, and Betty gets another e-mail, this time claiming that her monkey had been “held up in customs in France” and that it would take another $300 to get him released.

Betty was very upset about having her monkey “held hostage,” but she lives on a fixed income and could not afford $300. The broker offered to pay $200 of the fee if Betty could send him another $100, which she did. So Betty is out $320, and she still doesn’t have her monkey.

These kinds of stories are regrettably common.

The most infamous Internet scam is the Nigerian 419 or Advance Fee Fraud scam, where a wealthy foreigner offers to cut you in on a large percentage of a questionable fortune, as long as you provide a couple thousand up front.

It takes a special combination of greed and gullibility to fall for the 419 scam, but the monkey scam is a bit easier to understand. People give away puppies and kittens all the time, why not try the same thing with a monkey? (The ad describes the monkey as “DNA tasted” which may be my favorite spelling mistake of all time.)

Ultimately, the best way to be safe on the Internet is to use some common sense. Deal with established businesses, don’t send money to strangers, and if it sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is. Don’t open unsolicited e-mail attachments, and don’t forward strange or cute e-mails to other people.

The Web site Snopes.Com has an extensive database of scams, pranks and tricks that have been circulating on the Internet for years. When in doubt, check Snopes first.

Written by Michael B. Duff

October 12, 2007 at 14:18

Posted in Columns, Humor, Movies, TV

Duff: Fan commentaries bring power to the people

Duff: Fan commentaries bring power to the people

For some of us, the best part of the movie starts on the way home. I find the most enjoyable part of a film is the post-credits recap, sharing favorite moments and making idle observations with friends.

By the same token, I think the best part of a DVD is the commentary – listening to actors, directors and film crew talk about how the film was made. For years, film commentary was the province of creators and critics. Now, thanks to the Internet, anyone can do it.

Fan commentaries are MP3 audio files, distributed free over the Internet. Download the file, cue up your DVD, turn the sound down and press play on your MP3 player. It’s like watching the film with a whole new gang of friends. Fan commentaries come in all shapes and sizes ranging from sharp and technical to silly and profane.

Most of the good ones are a mix. There are hundreds of great fan commentaries available on the Net. A simple Google search for “fan commentary” will bring up hundreds. But for my money, the best fan commentaries on the Net come from a gang of Australians at MMMcommentaries.com.

A perfect mix of smart and funny, the gang at MMM reviews genre films and science fiction classics. They’ve dabbled in “Star Trek” and reviewed a ton of “Doctor Who,” but their masterpiece is a “Star Wars” marathon that covers all six films. There’s plenty of technical stuff in here (and plenty of cheap laughs) but what stands out about the MMM gang is their love of story.

They’re not afraid to dive into the plot and dig into character motivation. Sitting through “Star Wars” with the MMM guys will bring out hidden gems in the classic films and make it easier to endure the prequels. And let’s not forget the international angle. The MMM guys would be funny in any language, but the Australian idioms really make it for me.

I take a lot of technology for granted these days, but part of this still feels like magic to me.

I’ll spare you the corny speech about world peace and the international brotherhood of science fiction fans, but clearly, the world is getting smaller every day.

Fan commentaries are just another example of the Internet turning consumers into participants. What used to be passive, static media is now a starting point for fan edits, forum discussions and unfiltered commentary.

Written by Michael B. Duff

August 17, 2007 at 14:49

Posted in Columns, Movies

Harry Potter mania sweeps Lubbock Online

Okay, so I saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix yesterday. Don't have time for a full review, let me just say — in every film that comes out, the opening logo gets darker and darker. By the time we get to #7 it's going to be jet black and dripping blood.

And it's not just the logo getting darker. Hogwarts is perpetually cloudy and assaulted by thunderstorms. The lighting gets darker with each film. Presumably #7 will be four kids with flashlights, casting spells in a cave. Oh wait, that was Book 6.

Here at the A-J, the online department usually maintains an ironic distance from pop culture events. We don't get excited about lectures, concerts, or your average big-budget movie opening.

But Pottermania has us all going nuts over here. We're a department full of nerds, and we're bouncing off the walls here waiting for Book 7.

We're planning all kinds of coverage for the book release (although I'm still trying to get Mack to dress in costume). Most days work is just work, but events like this make it fun to be in news.

P.S. Yesterday my sock puppet prank attracted a score of anonymous comments. Some people signed my name and posted comments that made me look like a delusional megalomaniac. This characterization is broadly accurate. But then some guy came on and accused me of going to “church camp.” That's a filthy lie.

Written by Michael B. Duff

July 19, 2007 at 08:26

Posted in Books, Movies