Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Movie Props: Film Stuff We Really Want

Hi everybody! It's summer time! And that means no more uni work and many, many afternoons spent watching TV I've already seen and producing various baked goods. This may also now have taken over work as the primary reason I've not actually written anything but shush, I have earned my cookie time, y'hear?

No-one can take me away from my cookie. NO-ONE.
As a special summer treat, us folks at The Pop Culture Cynic have been asked by them peeps over at Invaluable.com, the on-line auction site for all your odd antique and memorabilia needs, to come up with a list of movie props we would love to get our slimy, jam-covered hands all over. Those of you who have been around a while might remember the guest post we had a while back looking at great nerdy goods you can pick up for affordable prices; well this is less cool stuff you can actually buy and more our dream team of spectacularly awesome movie bits and bobs that we'd love to display in our six story mansion made out of gummy bears. We've put together 5 pieces of film history that we'd love to have, so sit back and join us in groaning loudly at not being able to own any of this:

The Pop Culture Cynic's Top 5 Filmy Things


Why didn't he just hide the hammer inside the tunnel rather than in a bible?

1. Andy Dufresne's Rock Hammer - The Shawshank Redemption


I thought I'd start my list with an instantly iconic item from one of the most universally adored movies of all time. No, not Kurt Russell's chin from [insert Kurt Russell movie here], but the adorably tiny rock hammer that kindly helped Andy Dufresne escape from Shawshank Prison in that movie with Rita Hayworth in it (spoilers). This movie is pretty much impossible not to like, even with all the brutal beatings and gay gang rapes, and it's IMdB rating proves that; to have anything from this film would be a privilege, but that hammer would be the icing on the Morgan Freeman's face-shaped cake. Plus, you could keep it inside a bible because of course you'd have to.

Although...

A close second would have to be that beautiful tin hidden under a rock in Buxton, Maine. It's aged, beautiful, and ever so vintage looking; it even has a White Star liner on it! I'd love to keep my cuff links in a tin like that.

"Oooh, yeah. You're so dirty, aren't you?"
I would ride everywhere screaming "NYEOOWW!"

2. Ramona's Rollerblades - Scott Pilgrim vs. The World


The only reason I've not yet done a Film Favourites post on Scott Pilgrim is because I've not devised a method of condensing my love for this movie down into few enough words for normal human beings to consume. When that hurdle has been scaled, we'll have it, but until then I'll just keep re-watching it every two weeks and weeping quietly to myself.

Now there's a lot of cool merch to pick from in this movie, like any of Scott's nerdilicious t-shirts, the band's instruments, or any one of Ramona's beautifully coloured wigs; I, however, have gone for one of the more awesome but very underused items in the aforementioned lady-person's roster of goodies: her rollerblades. They turn up in like one scene, scorch the very Earth, and then vanish completely for the rest of the movie. I WANT AWESOME INTER-DIMENSIONAL FIRE BLADES TOO.

Although...

There's always the coolest fictional arcade cabinet ever devised to choose from too. Who wouldn't want to have this thing in their house, making every moment of their life that more awesome simply through its very presence. Every family dispute would boil down to a game of ninja Dance Dance Revolution (Ninja Ninja Revolution); that's a household I would be proud of.

"Just put the fucking bins out!"

If you're feeling cheap, just paint an old tin of ham black and make a fake
certificate of authenticity.

3. The Film Reel - Cinema Paradiso


More people need to see Cinema Paradiso. That's the long and short of it. Any person with even an ounce of film buff in them will get major feels for this movie all about the relationship between an elderly projectionist and a little boy. It is equal parts beautiful and heart-breaking, as any good film should be, really, and the final scene when Toto watches the film reel his old friend left him is just...excuse me... *sob* Straight up raw emotion is what it is.

Although...

That sign. That gorgeous neon sign. Give it to me.

Right above my front door, please.

Here is the full scene in all its glory.
4. Hynkel's Inflatable Globe - The Great Dictator


Charlie Chaplin's best movie is City Lights, and I will challenge anyone who disagrees with me to a hilarious 5 minute long boxing match to determine who is right. That said, there's not many iconic items to be had in that particular movie, so to fulfil my requirement of at least one Chaplin item I've gone to his second best film, the Liberal coup de grace to both the horrors of fascism and Chaplin's own career, The Great Dictator.

If it were possible, I would just have an original reel of the whole movie, but that's not technically a prop so I discounted it. Then, there was a bottle of Chaplin's golden voice reciting that spectacular closing speech; again, not actually a thing. So, I went for the scene that had me giggling at its iconic silliness all the way through; the crazed dictator gleefully juggling an inflatable globe around his office is simply satirical perfection. Sure, it's probably deflated and horrendously fragile by now, but that's a keepsake if ever there was one.

Although...

I am tempted by the mustard pot in the elaborately silly obligatory food scene. Fill it with cream and serve strawberries with it.

Public Safety Announcement: Please inspect condiments thoroughly before applying to any comestibles.

Are you ready? Then let's play Round One of...Scalp or Scotty Dog!

5. The Scalp of O-ren Ishii - Kill Bill: Volume 1 


No, I'm not picking a Hattori Hanzo sword. That would be too obvious, and there's plenty other awesome things to choose from in Kill Bill. Like, for example, the scalp of the infamous American-Chinese Yakuza boss, O-ren Ishii.

Oo, wait, maybe the Pussy Wagon's keychain... Or a Crazy 88 mask... Or Elle Driver's eye patch. Oh my days, there's so much choice! Oo, oo! How about The Bride's yellow jumpsuit? And this is without even considering Volume 2...

Although...

I want the headstone of Paula Shultz. Anything that was involved in a scene where someone literally punched their way out of a grave, I want.

"Must...have...cool stuff!!"
So there we have it, my list of countless bits of cinema gold that I would love to have. If you've got any goodies that you've always wanted, or if you happen to know a guy who knows a guy who could get me this stuff, feel free to tell us below. It's been good fun thinking up some fun and unusual bits and bobs for this article, so thanks again to Invaluable.com for the idea; maybe they'll even send me some priceless movie artefact in thanks. That'd be nice...

Many thanks.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Try Calligraphy: All the Cool Kids are Doin' It


Difficulty - 3/5
Duration - 5/5 (As long as you like, really)

So, you're bored. Uni's over, all your friends are away home, you've caught up on Season 3 of Orange is the New Black on Netflix and so there's nothing left to watch. Why not try a hand at calligraphy? Hell, you probably already know how to read and write so half the battle's done for you.

If you can't, please get the person reading this to you to hurry up with teaching you to do it yourself.
A friend of mine introduced me to scribbling words in fancy ways back in the spring and was even kind enough to lend me his Pilot Parallel calligraphy pen and some ink to get myself started. I swear, aside from knitting I have yet to find another pastime that is more gloriously mind-cleansing than calligraphy. It is the most zen thing even; just turn your head off and write down the first thing that comes to you.


I had watched quite a bit of Black Books that day.
Now, the important thing is to get the basics down first. Start big and then work down to smaller sizes of text; you'll notice your mistakes better if the letters are larger. With that in mind, pick up a broad spring loaded pen like the aforementioned Pilot Parallel (this post is brought to you by Pilot) and practise on lined graph paper. Once you've chosen a script to work with and feel like you're getting the hang of it, you can pick up a cheap fountain pen with a couple of different widths of nib for doing smaller work.

Right. You've got some kit; now for the writing. Get yourself a book that goes through how to construct each letter in a script nice and thoroughly. I've been using The Art of Calligraphy and it's great; super concise, easy to understand, and totally not available as a PDF for free...ahem.

Start with a script that you both like the look of and is nice and simple to begin with, but be sure to double check what kind of pen is best for each text. Then, practise.
Lots of it.
Repetition is the name of the game. Start with just going through the alphabet, focussing particularly on the letter O as it usually features a lot of the major components of the script, particularly size and scale. Pangrams will also be your best friend. Then start doing the thing with random words.
I was hungry this time...and apparently thinking of ice climbing.
I even practised while revising:
My train of thought when writing words will be studied for millennia to come.
The last challenge you can go for is trying to write longer or larger scale works and new and interesting fonts.

Some Mervyn Peake in Chancery Italic.
My first super big endeavour is writing The Higwayman by Alfred Noyes for a special lady friend's birthday in Fraktur, with the fancy big capitals in the boxes and everything. I even did the good old dipping paper in cold tea trick to make it cool and old-looky.

"Oh my, would you look at all these papers haphazardly strewn over my desk in an aesthetically pleasing fashion..."
The bottom line of it all is relax, enjoy yourself and mess around. Writing is something we all do every day, and it's nice to step away from the standard of typed text and hark back to the days of pen and ink for a while. It'll shine a new light on something you've never really stopped to think about before.

Happy writing!