On Parade

For a short time, I was running a bit where I would re-answer questions sent to Walter Scott’s Personality Parade™, one of the most odiously irrelevant and self-congratulatory bits of cultural fluff in the lint screen we call popular culture. While I was inspired to write it out of true anger at its existence, the column and my parody were mostly harmless wastes of time.

Then, one week, I decided to do an entire Q & A defending and exalting Britney Spears. Just because. Keep in mind, this was when Britney was a young mother of two, married to a sleazeball wannabe. (It’s hard to remember that once upon a time, a few months ago, we thought she was the stable one.) The piece was fairly toothless, but moderately funny, as I hoped most of those columns were.

But before I could post it, Britney went absolutely bonkers. And what I’d written suddenly felt like kicking a (recently-shaved-bald) puppy. So I junked it, along with the feature.

I’m reminded about this because of a story in today’s Variety: “Parade of confusion after Lohan arrest”. As you’re no doubt sick of hearing, Lindsay Lohan was arrested early Tuesday on suspicion of drunken driving, but this coming Sunday’s issue of Parade tells a different story…

After extending her stay at luxury rehab facility Promises, Lindsay Lohan “seems committed to finally getting clean.”

So reports Parade magazine in this week’s edition of Walter Scott’s Personality Parade, the purveyor of feel-good celebrity news that, regrettably in this case, has a four-week lead time from when an item is written until it is published.

Excuse me if I mis-read — it takes four weeks to come up with the bullshit you call Personality Parade? If Walter Scott were a real person, he’d be the laziest hack on the planet. Says a Parade spokesman:

“We’ll address this on the Parade.com website so we’ll have something that’s much more current,” the spokesman said. “This is an example of how difficult substance abuse can be, and we wish her the very best on her road to recovery.”

I wish nothing but plague and pestilence upon you, anonymous spokesman.

Lohan’s problems are her own. She’s seriously fucked up her career. But don’t blame her for messing up your faux-news column.

You work for a sham newspaper inserted inside actual newspapers. I can already predict your editorial memo going out on Monday: “From now on, we need to make sure anything the publicists feed us will still feel somewhat true four weeks from now. Concentrate on Disney stars and country singers.”

I’m urging the Los Angeles Times to drop Parade this week. You can, too. Here’s the link.

Better yet, if your local paper includes Parade, let them know.

Is it too late to pull it out of the Sunday issue? They’ll say so. But it’s not too late to respond editorially, answering the question of why a newspaper would run a story they already know is inaccurate, and continue to support the inane ramblings of a publicist mouthpiece. I gave up on Parade. So should they.

And if you’re feeling so inclined, feel free to Digg this.

Three from The Nines

In preparation for the trailer competition, I wanted to see how footage from the movie would hold up when subjected to the Flash compression of YouTube and the other video-sharing sites. So I uploaded three clips in various formats to experiment.

The results? Two clips look surprisingly great. The third looks like ass.

The difference isn’t in the format, or the file size, but the background. The ass-y clip has a forest of sun-dappled leaves in the background, and the compression algorithms freak out trying to handle the level of detail. That’s not unique to Flash; sun-dappling is pretty much the bete noir of video. Several resources recommended applying a soften filter to tamp down the background noise. While it reduced the overall file size, it didn’t end up helping the video quality much.

In the end, the h.264 format ended up working out best for me, but as always, YMMV.1

The clips are from the DVD that goes out to television stations, for use in reviews and news stories. They show the three different looks in the movie.

  1. Conveniently, the iPhone and AppleTV both use this format, which makes it easy to carry clips (and trailers) with me.

Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician

bookDaniel Wallace, the dashing and talented writer who wrote Big Fish (the novel), has a brand new book in stores for your purchasing pleasure: Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician. I read it a bazillion years ago — books take a surprisingly long time to go from manuscript to shelf — so I’ll let the official blurb handle the one-line summary:

From the author of Big Fish comes this haunting, tender story that weaves a tragic secret, a mysterious meeting with the Devil, and a family of charming circus freaks recounting the extraordinary adventures of their friend Henry Walker, the Negro Magician.

Do you like tales of the South, the circus, and mysterious goings-on? Presumably, if you liked Big Fish. It’s a very different story, told from multiple viewpoints, and certainly worthy of the great reviews it’s been pulling in.

Daniel’s touring, so it’s worth checking when he’ll be at a store near you1. While you’re at it, explore the rest of his site.

  1. 5/3/2011 Update: Tour link inactive

An air duct speaks back

From the comment thread on the Air vents are for air post:

I am an Air Conditioning Duct and I find this entire conversation incredibly ignorant and offensive.

On the rare occasions that I do see my Community represented on screen, it is invariably unrealistic and below industry standard. All the Air Conditioning Ducts of my acquaintance are spotlessly clean, weight-of-a-grown-man supporting structures. However we cannot deflect bullets.

Someday the true poetry of our lives and history will be told.

Despite the occasional a-hole, I have the best commenters ever.