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Headline News’ Social Media-Focused Reboot Is Beyond Ridiculous

misused

Source: xkcd

Oof. Cable news network HLN, originally a CNN off-shoot, has taken the page from the strategy of networks like TLC or AMC: abandoning the original concept for the station (Headline News, The Learning Channel, and American Movie Classics, respectively) but keeping the original acronym. The new, refurbished HLN is doing away with the endlessly repeated news cycle and the Nancy Grace-like “outrage news” segments, and replacing them with new material targeted to the millennial demographic.

Apparently the people at Turner Broadcasting don’t have a very high opinion of your demographic.

Here are the new show titles, ranked in increasing order of absurdity:

  • Keywords
  • Vacation Hunters
  • Videocracy
  • One.Click.Away
  • I Can Haz NewsToons
  • #What’sYourFomo

The idea behind the network reboot is to integrate social media with news in original ways that encourage greater levels of engagement. That’s nothing inherently wrong with this idea, but you’d think they could have found some people to come up with ideas that actually understand the advantages online and social news have over cable news, not somebody who browsed Urban Dictionary and KnowYourMeme for an hour.

I don’t understand what the network could possibly offer that couldn’t also be found online without 8 minutes of advertising per half hour. For example, from the description, I Can Haz NewsToons (just typing that makes me shudder) will apparently just show off politically minded e-cards and webcomics. How is that a show? Will the host just read them to us? Will they be crudely animated? I’m not sure which is worse. Why would anybody sit through 2 parts slideshow and 1 part ads for half an hour when they can just scroll through a Tumblr that gives them the exact same thing in two minutes?

Look, HLN, I understand you have a challenge to face trying to reach a younger audience. But if you want to engage with people, you don’t need gimmicks, you need better content. You’re not going to out-Internet the Internet. The fact that you’re trying to shows just how clueless you really are.

Millennials do engage with the news. Really. But almost never through cable. There’s no reason to. This generation is not used to passively consuming information. Young people want the ability to comment, to discuss, to share, and to control how much news to consume. It’s an active experience, as anyone who’s ever done a deep-dive through link after link knows. And no amount of misused hashtagging is going to make cable look more appealing.

(Quick aside, didn’t anyone point out that punctuation closes hashtags? That show can’t even use its own dumb name as a functional hashtag.)

The only way to get millennials to pay attention to cable as a news source is with a strong personality. If you want a model for that, look to Stewart and Colbert. No gimmicks other than entertaining commentary and spot-on satire. It doesn’t even have to be funny, just engaging and… read carefully, because this is the important part… NOT TALKING DOWN TO THE AUDIENCE.

What If There Were No Sports in College?

Male college student with book and ballIf you’ve lived in the United States for your entire life, there’s probably a number of weirdly unique things you’ve come to take for granted. Our ridiculously complicated system of measurements, for example. When you’ve grown up with something your whole life, it’s sometimes hard to wrap your head around it not existing, even if the rest of the world thinks you might be crazy for doing it. Sometimes it’s worth stepping back and taking a moment to ask, “Why do we do that again?”

Forget everything you know about college sports and look at it objectively. I’m not talking about the sports most college students play, I’m talking about the massive industries, especially football and basketball. They’re kind of weird, aren’t they? Universities, the places where people go to get higher education, frequently go hand-in-hand with an industry worth billions where the star performers don’t get paid anything.

A recent Slate article by Alan Levinovitz argues that college sports are seriously screwing up the priorities of our universities and should be ceased. It’s easy to see where he’s coming from. He even opens his article by explaining that he works at James Madison University, a school on the verge of transitioning into a top-tier athletic power, if it makes the right moves. Levinovitz makes a number of strong arguments, such as pointing out the absurd pay rate differences between athletic and academic employees at schools with powerhouse teams. He points to the example of the University of Chicago, which did away with its once mighty football program back in the ’30s in order to focus on academics. Needless to say, in the ensuing decades, it’s established a reputation as a one-of-a-kind, top-level institution.

Even so, for all the twisted priorities created by college sports, I have trouble imagining a country without them. There are things that college sports do that professional sports can’t.

Growing up just outside of DC, I had the Redskins, the Capitals, the Bullets (who became the Wizards), and the United. The Nationals showed up later, but we could always drive to Baltimore if we wanted baseball. I was spoiled. I could get into any sport I wanted to. Later in life, I moved to Oregon, a state with an NBA and MLS team up in Portland, but no other professional franchises. However, I moved to Eugene, which meant there was only one team worth speaking about: The University of Oregon Ducks. It didn’t matter what sport was played, Ducks fans had a fervor like nothing I’d ever seen. Certainly nothing like the world-weariness of most DC area sports fans.

World-weary or not, professional sports remain king in DC, along with every other major US city. Sure, there are plenty of passionate Georgetown fans out there, and George Mason’s Cinderella Final Four run was the big story of March Madness 2006. But year after year, you’re much more likely to hear a conversation about pro sports, even if that conversation keeps boiling down to “Dan Snyder is the worst, isn’t he?

Drive 90 minutes away from any city, however, and the conversation will almost inevitably be about the local college team.

The reason I have trouble taking Levinovitz’ argument seriously is because he, along with University of Chicago back in the ’30s, comes from a “city” position. Chicago and football could both live full, healthy lives after the divorce, with no damage to the academic, athletic, and local communities. Other schools that have dropped their programs in comparatively recent years, Northeastern and Boston University, could say the same.

But in most places throughout the country that’s not the case. Remove the Ducks from Eugene, or the Irish from South Bend, and you’re causing irreparable damage to the focal point of local culture and community.

Let’s say college sports were banned tomorrow, but the NCAA didn’t dissolve. It just tried to exist independently from the college system, acting more like minor leagues but still competing on a national scale. If that happened, what would keep the franchises from staying put in smaller towns? Why not move to more metropolitan areas where they could have bigger fan bases and sell more tickets? At that point, what’s the different between them and professional teams?

Maybe that’s why college teams inspire even more fervent loyalty than professional teams. Major decisions might still be motivated by money, but at least the team is firmly fixed within the community.

10 Halloween Costumes You Can’t Avoid This Year

Every year, there are a handful of costumes (usually something topical) that dominate Halloween. This is especially true in college, where the resources you have to throw together a decent costume are usually pretty limited. Last year, if you overlook the typical pirates and Marios and other costumes that never go out of fashion, you got around 25% Mitt Romney, 25% Barack Obama, and 50% Bane from The Dark Knight Rises.

Here’s our list of ten costumes you’re basically guaranteed to see walking around this year, ranked on the Heath Ledger as Joker Terrifying Scale.

Daft Punk

  • Costume: Biker helmets, gloves, shiny jackets
  • Why this costume? Because this was the year that everyone on the planet suddenly remembered how much they liked Daft Punk.
  • Terrifying Level: 0 Heath Ledger Jokers

North West

  • Costume: Diaper, shutter shades
  • Why this costume? You might be surprised at how many college students jump at the opportunity to dress like a baby. When it’s a famous baby that’s easily recognized with the addition of cheap props, you have a dream costume.
  • Terrifying Level: 0.2 Heath Ledger Jokers020p_joker

Lance Armstrong and/or A-Rod

arod

Source: USA Today

  • Costume: Biking jersey or Yankees uniform, fake muscle suit, Livestrong bracelet or t-shirt that says “Biogenesis”
  • Why this costume? It was a bad year to be world-class athlete caught cheating.
  • Terrifying Level: 0.4 Heath Ledger Jokers040p_joker

(more…)

We’re One Step Closer to Getting Real Lightsabers, People

Darth Vader vs. Luke Skywalker on Bespin

Image via Wookiepedia

According to an article published in the science journal Nature, scientists from MIT and Harvard have managed to observe light photons as particles. That means that while light doesn’t really have matter or mass in the way we normally understand it, it can still be made to “stick together” to form light molecules.

Now, if we can just get three or four feet worth of these light molecules to stick together and add whatever properties let it deflect lasers and slice through flesh, we’ll have ourselves our very own lightsabers.

 

Should College Athletes Get Paid for Appearing in Video Games?

A football sitting on a fanned-out stack of 20 dollar bills.

The bigger the business of college sports gets, the more the line between student and professional blurs. They already don’t make any money on jersey sales (though most schools just sell jerseys with numbers, not names). And they also don’t see a dime for having their name and likeness used in official NCAA video games.

That’s the official practice, but it may or may not be… technically speaking… legal. Starting with former UCLA player Ed O’Bannon, a total of seven college athletes have joined together on a long-brewing class-action lawsuit against the NCAA, Electronic Arts (EA), and the Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) for licensing out their likeness without permission. This could become a major case, not so much because of what it means for videogames, but because the only way the NCAA has a case is to argue that college athletes should not be granted the same rights as professionals, that their work and their likeness are not their own property, but the property of the college they attend. If the NCAA loses, that sets a precedent for many, many more cases regarding the professional nature of the college athlete.

In the latest wrinkle to this story, the NCAA has decided to part ways with EA, mostly out of fear of the monetary damage this lawsuit could do. EA (which, it’s worth noting, has been voted the worst company in the world by Forbes magazine two years in a row) has in turn said, “Well, whatever, we don’t need you anyway. We’ll just go through the CLC and the individual colleges.” In theory, that just means their upcoming games will be titled things like College Football 2015,”instead of NCAA Football 2015. In practice, it could mean there are bizarre holes in the games’ conferences. What if EA can’t come to an agreement with some football powerhouse like the Ducks or the Wolverines? Will they just not exist in the world of the game? Or will EA try to plug the holes with imitation brand teams: the Mallards and the Weasels?

Back in 2009, EA announced that it would be putting its college basketball games on indefinite hiatus. At this point, the series was only selling around 600,000 copies per entry. (The NCAA Football series sells about 1 million more per entry.) Keep in mind these retail for around $50-$60 a piece, and each new yearly entry is basically just a roster update and one or two new interface changes. I can’t imagine production costs are that high. The licensing fees with the NCAA must be absolutely insane if selling half a million copies each year is considered enough of a failure to quit altogether.

And that’s excluding royalties sent to college athletes.

I can’t get behind the idea that college athletes should be paid for their performance. At that point, there really isn’t anything separating them from professionals. But using their likeness? I’m not sure what to think. I’d certainly want to be compensated if someone ever made money off a digital version of me.

In 2009, a court ruled that universities cannot claim ownership of inventions simply because they were made using campus resources. College athletes might not be inventors, per se, but money is still being generated because of their work. I’m not sure exactly what that ownership looks like, but I’m pretty sure that there is some ownership there.

Your Ultimate College Finals Playlist

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Whether it’s still the calm before the storm or you’re in full-force finals mode, you’ve probably found yourself in that awful position where you simultaneously have tons of free time and also no free time whatsoever. All the normal responsibilities of your schedule are cleared, replaced by the much more intimidating responsibilities of studying or finishing that final paper. We’ve put together a soundtrack to get you through it. It’s not exactly studying music; it’s a soundtrack to reflect the rollercoaster of emotions that finals inevitably bring about.

  • Paul Engemann – Scarface (Push It To The Limit) — That moment when you need the power of ’80s montages to get you through a long stretch of studying
  • Daft Punk – Harder Better Faster Strong — That moment when you’re working hard, well, fast, and strong, but need a little bit more of each.
  • Coldplay – Don’t Panic — That moment when you’re in desperate need for the advice in the title of this song.
  • They Might Be Giants – Why Does the Sun Shine? — That moment you realize you need a cheat sheet for Astronomy 101.
  • Miike Snow – Animal — That moment when you realize that no matter how much you have to do, your basic needs come first… you know, like eating, sleeping, and urinating.
  • Eagles of Death Metal - Now I’m a Fool — That moment you’re looking over your notes and don’t remember even writing half this stuff.
  • She & Him – This Is Not a Test — That moment when you freak out from oversleeping, then realize that it’s not even exam day.
  • Muse – Hysteria — That moment when you freak out from oversleeping, then realize that, yes, it IS exam day.
  • Wavves – Idiot — That moment you need to feel better after an impossible test makes you feel stupid. (Some NSFW lyrics.)
  • The Broken West – The Smartest Man Alive — That moment you need to celebrate after an easy test makes you feel brilliant.
  • Wu-Tang Clan – I Can’t Go To Sleep — That moment when you’re pulling an all-nighter and you need a song just as restless as you’re feeling. (Some NSFW lyrics.)
  • TV on the Radio – Caffeinated Consciousness — That moment you pop open your second Red Bull for the night.
  • The Roots (feat. John Legend) – The Fire — That moment you’ve realized too many of these suggestions are tongue-in-cheek and you really need to hear something genuinely inspiring.
  • Europe – The Final Countdown — That moment right before the final when you need a shot of transcendent cheesiness.
  • Zircon – Warhead — Post final rave!

How the Web Has Turned Us All Into Mini-Eberts

Roger Ebert passed away yesterday at the age of 70. I’m not sure if there’s ever been a more influential or well-known critic, and I mean critic of anything, not just film. He was the first person to receive a Pulitzer Prize for film criticism, back in 1975, and only 4 other people have received that reward since. He had fought with cancer for 11 years prior to his death, losing a large portion of his jaw and his ability to speak due to surgery complications in 2006.

Photo of Roger Ebert from this 2010 Esquire profile.

Photo of Roger Ebert from this 2010 Esquire profile.

I’m probably a bit older that most of the readership of this blog, so I’m sorry if I sound too much like an old fart in this post. For people college age and younger, I don’t know if there’s much of a sense of who he was or why so many people are eulogizing him.

I watched his show At the Movies only a few times as a kid. I probably knew him better from parody than from reality. (Animaniacs and The Critic come to mind. What can I say? I really like cartoons.) The parodies always depicted Ebert (or Ebert-like characters) as an impossible-to-please curmudgeon who enjoyed tearing things down more than appreciating them.

If you’ve read any of his writings, you know that’s pretty far from reality. More than any other critic I’m aware of, he tended to evaluate movies as emotional experiences. Sure, he could tear something down, and did so with some brutally hilarious put-downs, but it always came from an honest place. A bit of dialogue from the movie Ratatouille, between a young chef and a food critic, comes to mind:

LINGUINI: You’re thin for someone who likes food.

ANTON EGO: I don’t “like” food… I LOVE it. If I don’t love it, I don’t swallow.

Analyzing something with a critical eye doesn’t mean you don’t like it. Rather, it means you care enough about it that you want to pick it apart.

That’s a good part of Ebert’s legacy. He became synonymous with the word “critic” in the popular conception by writing conversationally and intelligently. He was an easy person to disagree with, in that I could read a review of his, completely disagree with every conclusion, but still find it full of smart, intelligent, and valid points. Now that the web has given each of us a potential audience of strangers, we should all aspire to that same level of discourse.

That potential audience really a fantastic thing. It’s allowed criticism to become more of a two-way street, not confined to late-night TV or an article buried in the Style section of the newspaper. There are hundreds of great websites where like-minded people can find each other to intelligently and analytically discuss whatever form of art they care about. Just remember, while you and all the other aspiring Eberts are going back and forth over the merits and demerits of a particular movie, that the people who disagree with you have just as much right to be in the conversation as those who agree.

Was This ‘Sweatshop’ Simulation Game Too Offensive for Your iPad?

Screenshot from "Sweatshop HD" game

One of the “perks” of getting apps through the App Store is that, unlike downloading desktop software from a random website, Apple screens and approves each and every one of the hundreds of thousands of available apps. For better or worse, that means Apple gets to decide what’s fit for consumption and what’s not.

Most of the time that means blocking copyright violations and pornography, but every once in awhile something will get flagged for reasons that are a bit more unclear.

A bitingly satirical iPad game called Sweatshop HD was recently yanked out of the App store because, according to LittleCloud, the studio that built the game, Apple was uncomfortable with the game’s themes. LittleCloud resubmitted the game with an added disclaimer that the game’s intent was primarily to educate people on social justice issues, and that it was designed with input from the Labour Behind the Label campaign. Apple still wouldn’t lift the ban.

I checked out the game myself (still available as a flash-based browser game) to see just how offensive, beyond the title and premise, this game could be. The game opens with a brightly animated and stylized opening, where customers swarm to grab “Le Shoes” designer sneakers. The camera then pans rights to the shoe warehouse, right again to a fleet of shipping freighters, and finally back to a sweatshop conveyor belt, manned by tired, dehydrated, injured, and underage workers.

You play as a member of middle management, who needs to hire and position workers to handle the flow of materials down the conveyor belt. You’ll routinely get yelled at by your boss to maximize profits and approached by a wide-eyed Dickensian child worker asking for basic things like water. Naturally, since it’s a game, your competitive side will encourage you to cut corners in any way necessary to get the highest possible ranking, usually to the detriment of your workers.

It’s all fairly tongue-in-cheek until you start completing levels. Each time one ends, you’ll be presented with two paragraphs or so or real-life information and statistics about life as a sweatshop worker. These jar you out of the fantasy of the game every few minutes, and set the project pretty firmly on the side of satire, not just gallows humor.

While developed by an independent studio, the game was produced in part by Channel 4, a British commercially funded, but publicly owned, broadcasting network. That fact lends a lot of credence to LittleCloud’s claim that this game was intended primarily to be educational. As a piece of publicly funded entertainment, this is basically Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

So why was Sweatshop‘s brand of educational satire considered inappropriate, but the casual, maniacal violence of, say, Grand Theft Auto III acceptable?

LittleCloud points out that Apple’s developer guidelines are somewhat vague, and grant Apple a fair amount of leeway on what it will and won’t allow. LittleCloud highlighted one line in particular from the weirdly casual guidelines:

“We view apps different than books or songs, which we do not curate. If you want to criticize a religion, write a book. If you want to describe sex, write a book or a song, or create a medical app. It can get complicated, but we have decided to not allow certain kinds of content in the App Store.”

I understand Apple’s need to give themselves carte blanche in making judgment calls, but personally, I find this statement more dismissive and offensive than anything in Sweatshop. The patronizing tone of “If you want to criticize a religion, write a book” is pretty bold insult to the countless game designers who’ve tried to make games with goals loftier than killing time.

Having games criticize real-world themes isn’t exactly a revolutionary concept. Bioshock was a retro-futuristic sci-fi that doubled as a criticism of ObjectivismSpec Ops: The Line criticized the fetishistic way most games idolize modern warfare. Another browser-based flash game, Darfur is Dying, intended to spread awareness of atrocities committed in Sudan by letting you manage a virtual refugee camp.

The developer guidelines’ blanket condescension of games’ ability to address serious issues is entirely unfair to both the people who want to make, and to play, games about something more than, let’s say, throwing birds at pigs.

You can play the game and make your own call here.

10 Things to Do on St. Patrick’s Day That Don’t (Necessarily) Involve Beer

By and large, college students have turned St. Patrick’s Day into a holiday celebrating the sanctity of large quantities of alcohol. Problem is, the day’s plans often begin and end with “drink beer.” That’s especially problematic for the people who don’t drink. How are they supposed to spend the hours as their classmates focus on becoming less and less coherent?

You might want to consider adding one of these activities to the day’s schedules. Of course, there’s no rule saying you can’t add a glass of Guinness to any of items on the list below, we’re just providing options for those who’d rather not. These will either keep you from being bored or, if you don’t intend to abstain from drinking, keep you from falling asleep on your friend’s couch by 4 pm.Saint_Patrick_(window)

  1. Read up on St. Patrick himself. Aside from the legends (banishing snakes and whatnot), he was a pretty fascinating guy. Here are a few facts worth knowing:
    • He was a born to a Roman family living in Britain.
    • When he first came to Ireland, he was a slave.
    • He’s also the patron saint of Nigeria.
  2. Bake some Irish soda bread. It’s actually quicker and easier than many kinds of bread (as long as you have access to an oven). Nowadays people have mostly tried to dessert-ify this ultra-practical dish, so as long as you’re not too worried about being super traditional, you can play pretty loose with the ingredients, adding fruit, honey, or whatever else you want to the mix.
  3. Cook up some corned beef and colcannon. What you normally hear is “corned beef and cabbage,” but if a big plate of steamed cabbage leaves doesn’t sound too appetizing, colcannon (buttery mashed potatoes with a bunch of leafy greens mixed in) might be a tastier compromise.
  4. Irish rock karaoke. There’s something about Irish rock bands that works perfectly with horribly awesome karaoke renditions.  I’m pretty sure the only way to sing “Zombie” by the Cranberries and “Pride (In the Name of Love)” by U2 is belting it out with a bunch of other people who don’t know all the words.
  5. If you’re living in a city, there’s probably a parade. The odds are even higher if you’re in an east coast town.
  6. Dress some poor dog, cat, or baby up like a leprechaun. I’m by no means condoning this kind of behavior, I’m just saying it’s technically an option.
  7. Irish movie marathon. Not just movies that touch on some Irish themes. I’m talking about legitimately Irish movies, with Irish actors or by Irish creators. Movies like Michael Collins, My Left Foot, Once, Waking Ned Devine, or The Commitments.
  8. …Or just movies set in Ireland. Classic films like The Quiet Man or Ryan’s Daughter might not be as authentic as the above movies, but they should still count for the purposes of your marathon.
  9. …Or movies about Irish-Americans. Of course, The Departed is a great gangster flick, but Gangs of New York is probably a better fit for the day, since it focuses on the immigrant experience. If you’re looking for something that doesn’t have the bloodshed of those two, there’s always the more low-key In America.
  10. …Or maybe just movies with Liam Neeson. If you really just want an excuse to watch Darkman again.

Five Books We Want To See As Movies

oryx-and-crakeOryx and Crake — Margaret Atwood

The premise: In a post-apocalyptic world, one of the only remaining survivors reflects on how his best friend brought about the end of civilization.

Why film it? Look at The Hunger Games. Dystopian sci-fi is in. Look at The Walking Dead. Apocalyptic sci-fi is also in. With Oryx & Crake, you get it both ways: a frighteningly believable and self-destructive future society and a planet after a disaster rapidly being reclaimed by animal and plant life. Plus, while the book can stand on its own just fine, there is a sequel (The Year of the Flood) and a third book due out later this year. And movie studios love franchises.

Who’d make it? It would be great if somebody like Terry Gilliam could make it. Despite the bleak material, the books are pretty funny at times and it would need a director who would be comfortable with some of the more unhinged parts. But there’s no chance a studio looking to make a franchise would let someone that out of control near it, so my guess would be Alfonso Cuaron, who brought a lot of visual flair to another more down-to-earth sci-fi movie, Children of Men.

What are the odds it’ll happen? 5/10 — There’s a chance nobody wants to touch this series until they see how it wraps up when the last book comes out this year. There’s just as good of a chance that nobody wants to touch this series at all since the last film adaptation of a Margaret Atwood book, The Handmaid’s Tale, was pretty poorly received.

YiddishpolThe Yiddish Policeman’s Union — Michael Chabon

The premiseA noir detective tale set in an alternate history where, instead of Israel, a Jewish state was established on the island of Sitka, Alaska.

Why film it? The plot more or less follows the expected template of a detective story like The Big Sleep or Chinatownbut the setting is wildly imaginative and begging to be put on screen by someone with a knack for atmosphere. The book’s definitely out there, but it’s out there is in a very approachable way.

Who’d make it? For awhile there was a rumor that the Coen brothers wanted to make this movie, and really, I can’t think of a more perfect match.

What are the odds it’ll happen? 4/10 — The film rights were purchased over a decade ago, before the book was even written. Yet nobody’s touched it. If it ever gets made, it would have to be a passion project by the creators. And those creators would have to be someone like the Coens, who have enough pull as creators that they can get away with weird and ambitious projects.

WhatisthewhatbookWhat Is The What — Dave Eggers

The premiseStory created from the memories of real-life Sudanese refugee Valentino Achak Deng, a survivor of genocide who fled on foot from Southern Sudan to Ethiopia, eventually making his way to the United States.

Why film it? It’s topical, it’s based on a true story, and it’s about atrocities most people are shamefully unaware of. The hero of the story is put through hell, yet remains incredibly likeable, relatable, optimisitic, and human throughout.

Who’d make it? Director Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run, half of Cloud Atlas) has already expressed interest in making this into a movie. He probably wouldn’t have been the first name to jump to mind, but I liked Cloud Atlas a lot better than everyone else did, so I’m going to say that this is a good thing. Also, I guess the hero runs a lot, so there’s your Run Lola Run connection.

What are the odds it’ll happen? 9/10 — For whatever reason, I find it easier to not dismiss this as a rumor because, unlike the Coens with Yiddish Policemen’s Union, that doesn’t sound like the first idea a fan trying to start a rumor would come up with. The fact that South Sudan has now become an independent nation would put a nice coda on a story that otherwise has a fairly open-ended conclusion.

HSBHillHeart-Shaped Box — Joe Hill

The premiseAn aging rock star, fascinated with macabre collectibles, buys a ghost in an online auction.

Why film it? It’s an original idea for a horror film. If there’s one genre of movies that’s desperate for original ideas, it’s horror. Plus, Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son, and as filmmakers eventually inevitably adapt all of King’s books, they’ll need to expand to new sources.

Who’d make it? Someone who understands horror and hard rock, which naturally makes me think Rob Zombie, but the book redeems its hero too much for a Rob Zombie movie. So instead I’ll suggest David Cronenberg. If nothing else, he’d effectively render the festering infections each major character gets as the haunting gets worse.

What are the odds it’ll happen? 7/10 — Joe Hill’s second book, Horns, will get a film treatment later this year, directed by Alexandre Aja and starring Daniel Radcliffe. There’s a reason Horns was adapted first: It’s a better book. No doubt Heart-Shaped Box‘s fate as a film is directly tied to how well Horns does.

174598_178829328821235_7853221_nSuper Sad True Love Story — Gary Shteyngart

The premise: In a hyper materialistic future, a romance between a middle-aged Russian-American man and a young Korean-American woman is told through his journal entries and her text messages.

Why film it? Because, unless you count The Social Network, there are no good movies focused on social media. For something that takes up such a large portion of our modern culture (and such a huge portion of our time every day), there aren’t too many writers out there really trying to get a handle on it.

Who’d make it? My dream pick would be Edgar Wright. He’s funny, he’s hyper-kinetic, he gets the current generation, and he’s capable of finding a way to replicate the feeling of something without directly copying it.

What are the odds it’ll happen? 2/10 — Trying to adapt a book that’s half told in text messages is a hard sell.

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