Wednesday, December 30, 2009

This Year in Film, 2009

This year was not the mind-blowing, cumming-in-my-pants experience that last year was. After all, when 2008 had both the best superhero (The Dark Knight) and animated (Wall-E) films of all time, it's gonna be hard to top it. It wasn't a shit year either, and there were a number of decent films that came out. There was also some shit, but I'll get to that.

Films that were exactly what I expected:

Up

Pixar is still the only sure-thing in film, and this was no exception. For an animated film, it had one of the saddest opening sequences I think I've seen, and you really felt for all of the characters in the film, even the prick. It was jammed-packed with Pixar goodness, and I have to say that the non-human characters were my favorites. Plus, I really like the square-jawed look that Carl had, and its contrast with the fluffy Russell. Like all Pixar films, it was fun just to look at, but had some ridiculously funny parts too. Possibly the saddest thing about this film is that it's gonna be the last original Pixar film for two years, since 2010 has Toy Story 3 and 2011 has Cars 2.

Bruno

I loved Ali G, loved Borat, and I knew I'd love Bruno. It managed to go even further than Borat did with regard to bad taste and nudity, and the video showed during the "test screening" scene had me laughing so much that it embarrased my girlfriend. The reason this one didn't do as well at the box office as Borat did probably has to do with Bruno being a much more obnoxious character, one who really does deserve the punishment he gets in the film.

Inglourious Basterds

Tarantino does a war film, and it's probably the best thing he's done since Pulp Fiction. Yes, it's still heavy on the hommages to previous films, but where this one is different from Kill Bill and Death Proof is that you actually care about these characters, and much of the cartoony stuff is kept to a minimum (the scenes with the Basterds notwithstanding). A film that probably people who don't like Tarantino would like, especially since the theatre that we saw it in was stuffed with geezers.

Drag Me to Hell

This came out the same weekend as Up, and I must say, it was a great weekend. This film is full of the same great, gross humor that Raimi put in Evil Dead, and there's even a scene where a possessed guy is floating in the air, his body jerking back and forth. Add to that a possessed, talking animal, and you have a fun-filled romp! Plus, that gypsy woman's a bitch, and the protagonist really didn't deserve the treatment she got.

Watchmen

Some people should realize that you will never, ever satisfy nerds, especially those who invest so much in a work that's about to be adapted. Thankfully, though I read the comic and loved it, I was not bound to it, and Watchmen as a film stands up as a brilliant piece of work. Hell, I still think the opening credits sequence is the greatest one I've ever seen. It's just a shame that some of the performances were a tad on the "weak" side.

Capitalism: A Love Story

Another Michael Moore film, this one with a larger target than health care, guns, or Bush. As always, he makes some good points. As always, his manipulation of footage is screamingly obvious. There were some funny scenes, some touching scenes, and some embarassing scenes. In particular, his fawning over Obama was ridiculous. There were also some voice-over jokes that were shockingly lame. An enjoyable documentary, just like his last one.

Avatar

Mind-blowing special effects, a bad script, and longer than it had to be. This is pretty much exactly what I expected from James Cameron's long-awaited return to film, right down to the atrocious song playing during the final credits. It's Dances With Wolves meets Ferngully meet the Smurfs, as damn near every critic has already said. Also, it has every indication of being a huge hit, since its box office has been ridiculously strong so far. The best 3d I've ever seen, and Cameron somehow avoided the dreaded "uncanny valley" effect. Plus, Sigourney Weaver's in it. That alone should make any man with a functioning penis go out and buy a ticket.

Bridewars

To be fair, I only saw most of this, but I'm compelled to comment on it. It starred an actress I hate and another that I'm indifferent to. It was superficial, idiotic, and had a resultion that a blind, deaf, limbless child with down syndrome could have predicted. It was insulting both to men and women, and was loaded with unfunny jokes. In short, this film was everything I expected it to be.

Films that were pretty good

Orphan

I have little enthusiasm for new horror films, but this one was surprisingly decent. Plus, I loved the twist.

I Love You, Man

Another one of those "bromance" films. This one actually tackled a really interesting topic which I don't think has ever been touched in films before; mainly, men who do not connect well with other men. This is probably a newer issue, but still. It was a damn funny comedy, and while I can't say that it was great, I did like it a lot.

Paranormal Activity

Another Blair Witch-style horror film. This one was alright. Not mind-blowing, and probably not as good as all the millions that it has made, but still pretty good.

World's Greatest Dad

Robin Williams in a dark comedy. Not something that would normally get me excited, but I heard some good things about this one. All in all it was an entertaining film, and much darker than I expected it to be. Maybe not worth buying, but definately worth renting.

Films that surprised me

The Hangover

A damn-near perfect comedy, the only part that sucked was the lame asian stereotype that kept popping up and spewing profanities. I love the way the story unraveled, and while some parts were predictable, it was a completely satisfying experience. I'm looking forward to watching it again so that I can catch some of what I missed the first time.

District 9

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, since Peter Jackson was involved and all. Still, this was a great film, with cgi that wasn't annoying and some great acting all-around. Aside from the obvious references to apatheid, I thought the evolution (in more ways than one) of the main character was fantastic, going from a regular suit who doesn't give a shit about the "prawns" to the scrounging, homeless, tragic figure he becomes later. Plus, Christopher Johnson is still the greatest name for an alien that I've ever heard.

Star Trek

How the hell did this turn out to be so good? It had everything working against it! Anyhow, I am more than willing to admit that I was wrong about this, and have to say that it was so much fun that I can't wait for the inevitable sequel. I just hope that he brings back the nerds who wrote the script to this one to work on the sequel.

Fantastic Mr Fox

I was not expecting this. Maybe it was the bad taste of Where the Wild Things Are, but I did not think that this was going to be all that great. I was dead fucking wrong. This film is full of so much energy and was so fun that my girlfriend and I could not stop smiling even after the film was over. This film may even be the most entertaining adaptation of a Roald Dahl story I've seen. Everyone needs to see this film. NOW.

Observe and Report

Nobody...seriously, NOBODY that I know likes this movie. My girlfriend hates it and constantly uses it to describe what she doesn't like in new comedies. Scott says that it made Paul Blart Mall Cop look like Citizen Kane. I'm getting tired of having to defend this movie, but I know I'll have to keep doing it, since that's just how I am. This film is a dark, psychotic comedy, with an unlikeable protagonist and a bunch of other characters who are either crazy, stupid, or just assholes. A lot of what goes on in this film may or may not be part of Rogen's imagination. The "sex scene" does probably count as date rape. Yes, there are a lot of obnoxious scenes, but I enjoyed the hell out of this film, so much so that I bought the DVD. So up yours, viewing public.

Films that disappointed me

Where the Wild Things Are

I was so fucking excited to see this movie. Then it started. I can't remember the last time I saw a movie where I continuously wondered what time it was, and how much longer the movie was going to go on. I hated Max, hated the wild things, and think that, instead of a piece of chocolate cake, Max should have gotten his ass whipped for being such an insufferable prick. As an arty movie, it's ok. As a children's movie, it's a total fucking failure. I'm still shocked that they somehow managed to make such a great children's book boring.

Whatever Works

Woody Allen and Larry David. How the hell could this not have been mind-blowing? It wasn't, though. David is unlikeable, but not in a funny way. He's really just an arrogant prick, and I was not able to believe for a second that the young girl he starts dating would put up with his bullshit. Also, the ending is so fucking unbelievably ridiculous that it almost made me hate Woody Allen. That said, there are a lot of funny jokes, but mainly because it is so much less than the sum of its parts, I can't recommend this to anyone.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

The last film in this series was a let-down, but I chalked that up to it being an adaptation of my favorite book in the series and sucking some of the life out of it. After seeing this, I came to the conclusion that the schmuck they have working on these new films can't tell his ass from a hole in the ground. The biggest problem of this film was that the film focuses too much attention on a bullshit love story, and ignores the half-blood prince. In fact, the whole half-blood prince aspect of this film is so minimized that it might surprise you that it was actually the main focus of the book, so much so that IT'S IN THE FUCKING TITLE.

Funny People

Funny people? More like FROWNY people. It takes a lot of work to make dick jokes unfunny, but goddamn if they don't succeed in this film. It's a bloated, pretentious fucking movie, and Sandler does a great job of making you hate him. Rogen is also somewhat of a sap, and it's hard to feel bad for him since he seems to invite all of the abuse he gets. The stand-up scenes are bad, the celebrity cameos are lame, and the romantic secondary plot seems thrown in and pointless. The worst Apatow production so far.

Zombieland

I hate running zombies, and I should have known that I wouldn't like this film. The film has a lot of lame frat-boy humor in it, a lot of "look at how clever I am!" humor in it, and a lot of annoying, bullshit characters. Also, how the fuck do you screw up a Bill Murray cameo? There was also much less zombie killing than I hoped for, which was really the only reason to see this piece of shit in the first place.

Films that I really wanted to see, but didn't:

Extract

The new Mike Judge film. I heard that it's his worst one, but still. I'll get this as soon as Netflix is able to send it.

The Lovely Bones

Peter Jackson's back. Another film that's been getting average reviews, I still have to see it because Jackson has never, ever disappointed me.

Moon

The reviewers say it's a great, intelligent sci-fi film that plays more like a personal drama. Can't wait to finally see what the fuss is about.

Black Dynamite

My god, did I want to see this movie. Unfortunately the run was limited, and after a mere two weeks it disappeared from theaters. Now I have to wait for the DVD.

Films that I wanted to see this year, but have to wait until next year to see:

Shutter Island

Why the fuck did they move the new Scorsese film to next year? Was it Avatar? Was it some weird Oscar thing? This doesn't make any fucking sense to me. Regardless, Scorsese is consistently good, and I doubt this film will be an exception. Plus, it looks like there are going to be some horror elements involved, which makes me even more excited.

The Wolf Man

Another film that got bumped. Honestly, after seeing the trailer, it doesn't really look that good. But maybe I'll see it, just because I love the wolf man story so much.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Library Observations

There is a woman who comes into the library every day, and yells from one end of the room to the other to her son. Not just yelling his name, but shouting demands at him. To make it worse, this kid, who's got to be around 10 or 11, is already one of the most obnoxious patrons I have to deal with. Considering how downright angry his mother seems, I'm shocked at how arrogant her kid is. He's rude to her and basically treats everyone like he's above them. I have no idea what's going on in their home, but I do know it isn't good parenting.

Some guy was playing music loudly while on a laptop. When I told him to turn the music off, he said that it was his phone and not the computer, as if that made the slightest bit of difference.

A man walked into the library wearing jeans and a leather vest but no shirt. I was told that it was ok, because other patrons dressed even worse than he was. Maybe it's unfair, but I felt ill at ease about this man because the first thing he asked me was for the phone number and address of a local drug rehab center. I should never judge a person for trying to get help, however, when he whipped out a knife and started playing with it while in the computer lab, he was finally deemed "a potential problem."

Another man was kicked out of the library because of his exceedingly bad stench and lack of personal hygiene. In fact, his condition was so bad that a few staff members, myself included, are worried that this man could actually be dying.

Not so much anymore, but there is a woman who occasionally comes in carrying several bags and use the 15 minute computer stations. At some point, she starts silently doing what looks like religious dance movements. A coworker suggested that it was to "release spirits," which actually makes sense given her gestures. She also tried to sleep in the patio after closing.

Someone defecated on the floor in the men's room. While disgusting in and of itself, the guilty party also accomplished the admittedly admirable task of doing this between stalls. A coworker suggests that it was a teen.

A woman in a short skirt came up to the information desk and asked for the bathroom key. When she came up I was startled, because she was by far the ugliest woman I have ever seen in my life. When she gave me her ID in exchange for the key, I found out that “she” was actually a guy in his sixties. It didn’t occur to me at the time to check which restroom “she” went into.

An old man came to the info desk with a walker. I had helped him before, when he asked for a Dale Carnegie book. When I saw him come to the desk and order the book, I remembered that I donated my own personal copy to the library, and I checked the book sale shelf to see if it was still there, so I could give it to him. Unfortunately, someone already bought it. I told him that we didn’t have the book, and he asked to order it. My coworker ordered it for him earlier, and I told him that he would get a call when it came in. He then asked if we had that day’s paper, and I told him that someone was reading it and that they would hopefully be finished soon. He then asked me what day it was, and when I told him he said “all day?” as a joke. He used the same joke with me before when I helped him, and I laughed. He then said “wonderful thing getting old. I’m 90, can you believe it?” Then he stood there for a few minutes, and then walked away. Half an hour later, he came back to the desk and we went through the same routine. He asked if we had the book, then asked if we’d call him when it came in, then asked for the paper, then asked what day it was, then made the joke, then said “wonderful thing getting old,” then told me his age, then walked away. About a half hour after that, he did the same thing, except this time he asked if I was ever in the service. I told him that I wasn’t, and he told me that he was in WWII, and that he bombed Japan. He then asked me if I was married, and when I told him I wasn’t he said it was obvious because I was smiling. He stood there for a few minutes, and then walked away. About half an hour after that, the same routine as earlier. Each time I felt worse and worse, because I remembered helping him a few months before, and he didn’t need a walker at that point. Finally, a woman who I assumed was his wife came to the desk asking for the restroom key. As I walked her to the restroom, she asked me if he asked about the Dale Carnegie book again. When I told her that he did, she said, “Don’t order it for him. He has a copy at home. He does this every time he comes in.” When I got back to the desk, I kept my fingers crossed that the situation wouldn’t get any sadder than it already was. Thankfully, it didn’t.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Memories as Things

According to Proust's In Search of Lost Time (which I haven't read), the protagonist is suddenly flooded by a surge of memories by the simple act of eating a madeleine. I have always wanted to study the connection of the senses and memory, since sometimes even the smallest things will trigger a slew of images and scenes ripped from certain moments of my life. There was one time when I was at some park with a friend and this girl he was dating. We were all on top of some kind of jungle gym-type thing when a man walked by, reeking of cologne. As soon as that scent tickled my nostrils I was sent back maybe two or three years, when I would occasionally have a tryst with a girl I went to high school with. Everything was real, tangible, uncannily so. Those evenings when we would meet in random areas around my neighborhood, her eating a popsicle and slobbering all over herself, telling me to repeat everything that I say because she wasn't paying attention. It all came back and horrified me. The discomfort made me want to leave immediately, but I was stuck and tried to focus my attention back on the two love birds and their discussion of penis sizes.

The smell of chlorine reminds me of most of my friendship with the above-mentioned fellow. I had known him since elementary school (kindergarten if he is to be believed), and because he lived in a condo, my only chances for swimming would be either at his place or at my aunt's. The smell of chlorine brings it all back; swimming under a black sky, lit up by the lamplights, smoking cigarettes, talking about girls, music, our band, and why I needed to convince my folks to move to Dana Point.

Songs are notorious memory-fetchers. The song "Studio Hair Gel," possibly more than any other song, reminds me of when I started going to dance clubs. I don't remember when the DJ started playing that song, or for how many months (years?) it was played, but it reminds me of drinking Jack in the Box cups filled with vodka and orange juice in the parking lot, going up the stairs buzzed, and dancing frantically in a dark room. Unlike many songs that I was introduced to by this club, this specific song brings back that venue and those nights, and the nostalgia gets the best of me. If I ever want to remember how my life was in my early 20's, I need only play that song.

Then there are books. The final pages of Ulysses reminds me of my aunt's house, near the pool, where I finished it. A section of 1984, where a note that says "I love you" is picked up by Winston Smith, reminds me of the break room at my old library. The part of Grapes of Wrath where the mother is trying to buy hamburger from a cold-hearted store owner reminds me of my current library's parking lot, where I heard this section played in my car. The part in From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler where the "bologna" clue is discovered, along with a scene in Necroscope where a corpse pops out of a river, reminds me of the couch in my living room.

Memory itself is a changeable thing, and I wonder how many of these memories have been unconsciously manipulated by me. They certainly seem real, like lucid dreams where I have both made love and died, and it felt as real as the memories described. I guess the world that has been created over the years in my mind is the only true thing that I have, since reality, as I know, is filtered through my senses and processed by my brain. As long as I can pull these things back up at will, nothing that I have experienced will be gone. There is something comforting about that, and if death is merely a kind of dream state that just shuts off at the end, the final memory fading away, then I should have no fear of dying.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Garfield in Pompeii

I mentioned in my previous blog that I was reading about graffiti in Pompeii. I'm going to share some highlights with you by hopping on an old, dead bandwagon, and putting some of this graffiti into the mouths of Garfield, Jon, and Odie. Unlike many of the folks who do variations on the "fucking with Garfield" theme (Garfield without thought bubbles, Garfield minus Garfield, Random Garfield comic generator, etc.), I actually loved Garfield growing up and have many fond memories attached to this "flabby tabby." Anyhow, I have only un-modified one, leaving the final panel the way it appeared in the original strip. For fun, you can guess the unaltered panel and win nothing.

Here is where you can find all the delightful graffiti:

http://www.pompeiana.org/Resources/Ancient/Graffiti%20from%20Pompeii.htm




Saturday, August 29, 2009

Roman Poetry: Not For Pussies

While looking up Pompeii graffiti online, I found out about a poem called "Catullus 16," written by, um, Catullus. According to Wikipedia, it was so dirty that it wasn't translated until the late 20th century. How dirty can this Roman poem be? Observe:


"I'm gonna fuck you guys up the ass and shove my cock down your throats,
yes, you, Aurelius--you fucking cocksucker--and you too, Furius, you faggot!
Just because my verses are tender doesn't mean
that I've gone all soft. Sure, a poet should focus
on writing poetry and not on sex; but does that
mean they can't write about sex? If a poem is
in good taste, well-written and erotic,
it can give massive boners to hairy old men,
not just to horny teenagers. You think I'm a sissy
just because I write about thousands of kisses?
I'm gonna fuck you guys up the ass and shove my cock down your throats!"

If you're wondering who the unfortunate Aurelius and Furius are, Wikipedia also offers the following handy info: "Apparently, Furius and Aurelius find Catullus's verses to be mollici (soft, perhaps "wussy" in modern slang). Catullus responds with intense abuse and invective." Obviously, these two had no idea who they were fucking with. Also, I am very interested in reading poetry with the power to "give massive boners to hairy old men." If anyone can direct me to these poems, please don't hesitate to e-mail that shit to me ASAP.

After reading this, I have also decided that I will never, ever judge another person for writing about "thousands of kisses" ever again. I don't think I'm strong enough to withstand this kind of verbal abuse.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Shittiest Fucking Audiobook I've Ever Listened To

I'm a sucker for audiobooks, since they allow me to listen to books while I'm driving and give me the feeling that I'm pumping knowledge into my head without having to do much work. After listening to a ton of them over the past few years, I've begun to have some favorite readers (oh how I love that snide-sounding Frederick Davidson), and I know what to look for when hunting down audio versions of books that I want to "read." Some audiobooks that I've stumbled into blind have been fantastic, such as Jeremy Irons' reading of Lolita, while others have been annoying, like the jerk-off who did that new unabridged reading of Catch 22. Anyhow, there have rarely been audiobooks that actually anger me, but I did come across one last year that I feel I should talk about. It's a big, expensive, unabridged reading of a book that I've been meaning to read for several years now: Patrick Healey's shit reading of James Joyce's Finnegans Wake.


A simple diagram of the plot and characters


Now, before I start, let me just tell anyone who doesn't know: Finnegans Wake is the most difficult book to read in the English language. Joyce basically made up a language of puns and plays on words, chucked in a ton of foreign vocabulary, and shit out a plot that nobody can agree actually exists. In a way, the plot to Finnegans Wake is similar to Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster: small groups of people swear it exists, but the vast majority laugh at them and tell them to get a life. Needless to say, anyone even attempting to read this book in general should be commended, and one would think that someone with the balls to do an unabridged reading of it deserves to be heaped with praise. Well, yeah. In a way, they are. BUT, if you're going to do a recording and charge 275 fucking Euros for it, you better damn well be a professional. Unfortunately, Patrick Healey just seems like someone who did this as a bar bet, and it really shows in the recording.

A little common sense: if you're charging 275 euros for an audiobook, don't approach the material like a fucking Librivox recording. Healey takes a book that needs, nay, DEMANDS a slow, careful reading, and speeds through it like he only has a day to finish. To put this in perspective, the fantastic unabridged audiobook of Joyce's Ulysses spanned 40 CDs, with the book being around 600 pages long. Finnegans Wake is a longer book, a thousand times more dense, and Healey gets the fucker read on 17 discs. This makes it fucking impossible to reflect on anything that he says in the book, because once you think you understand what one sentence meant, he's already five pages ahead of you, laughing in your face.

The speed of his reading is the cause of another major issue with this audiobook: he frequently stutters, trips up on words, and has to start over. Are you fucking kidding me? Look, I know that with any reading of Finnegans Wake there's going to be issues with the words, but a professional would have that shit worked out before walking into the recording booth. If you're going so fast that you're fucking up the text, slow the fuck down. Finally, he reads every goddamn sentence with nary a change in tone, and when he does change his tone, its into some mumbling, slow bullshit that sounds like he hired one of the Kids of Widney High to take over for a few minutes. I have never, ever, ever in my life had a more annoying experience with an audiobook. It almost made me want to fly to Ireland so I can kick this guy in the nuts, even though I don't know if he even lives there.

For those saying that maybe this book can't be read well, I say bullshit. There's an abridged reading done by Jim Norton that, from what I've heard, sounds fantastic and professional. He actually takes his time with the text and doesn't marathon it. I would literally let this man take a shot in my mouth and fiddle with his taint if he would just record the entire goddamn book unabridged at this pace, but chances are I'm just going to be stuck with Healey's bullshit recording.

The only possible thing that could be worse than this reading would be War & Peace read by Rosie Perez, or Les Miserables by Chris Tucker. Other than that, this recording is crap, and if you love Joyce, do yourself a favor and just record yourself reading it to listen to. It's pretty much the same thing.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Some Thoughts at Work

A patron walked by and was shocked that I shaved my beard, and said that he didn't recognize me without it. I actually shaved it a few months ago, so I guess he hasn't been here for awhile. He then stopped and walked back and said that I looked so baby-faced without it, then went to walk away again. He then stopped, for a third time, and said that I looked a lot younger, like his baby brother. Ordinarily this would just be friendly patron banter, but the fact that he commented on it three times, and even made it a point to come back to the desk solely for the purpose of mentioning it, made it seem a bit strange.

Driving to work I saw a group of young, presumably teenage girls in short shorts and bikini tops holding up signs for a car wash. A few blocks down I see another group of people advertising a car wash, only this time they were overweight Hispanic men in dirty T-shirts and baseball caps. I'd like to know how much business each car wash did.

A man came up and asked for books on Farrah Fawcett, and I told him that we didn't have any, and that none of our libraries had any that I could order. He got upset and said that it was ridiculous, since she was a big star. To reiterate this, he stated that she was as big as David Hasselhoff. The patron was not German.

I know that it's not the patron's fault that I have seven people simultaneously asking me questions, but it's still damn frustrating to have someone's problem being that "the internet doesn't work," and finding out that, upon inspection, the problem was that the person doesn't know how to double click on an icon.

Every single person I've ever talked to about it tells me that they use very little if anything that they've learned from their Library Science classes. Some of my coworkers are just adamant that once you get your degree you pretty much forget everything you learned. This leads me to the conclusion that Library Science is currently the world's most worthless degree, since the important stuff you can learn on the job. The only thing possibly most useless than library science is getting that MA in Robin Hood Studies offered at Nottingham University.

I used to want to change my name to Fritz Fitzgerald, but now I'm thinking that if I ever did change my name, it would be to Batman bin Suparman, like that one guy from Singapore. It would be great to have people forced to address me politely as "Mr. Suparman." Then again, it would probably be an embarrassment to be a slightly overweight, out of shape guy called "Batman."

Chocolate-covered bacon isn't as bad as you'd think. If you've ever eaten chocolate-covered pretzels, the taste is initially similar, but leaves a bacon-y aftertaste. I've also eaten bacon-filled waffles, which also taste good but are probably a reason why I get occasional excruciating chest pains.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Meat Slurry

I read about this, and the idea of liquid meat is repulsive to me. In general, even though I love the taste of it, the idea of meat makes me want to vomit. But liquid meat? I didn't read the entire process of meat slurry, but my over-active imagination created images of flesh being ripped from chickens, dumped into some kind of metal tub filled with rotating blades, and churned over and over until some kind of meat-oatmeal concoction remained. I can see it vividly in my head, and I want to puke.

I forced myself to eat some chicken mcnuggets today for lunch, and I think the reason they didn't taste so good this time around was because I could not get the idea of meat slurry out of my head. The last time I had them, they tasted great. Now, there was something off about them. I've eaten canned pork and haven't had a problem with it. I love Spam and think that it's delicious and gets bad-mouthed too often. But meat slurry just sickens me.

Even the name of it, especially the name of it, makes it unappetizing. When I hear "slurry" I immediately think of cold, summer beverages, akin to Icees. Now imagine a meat Icee, filling up one of those cups to it's clear funnel lid. It's just wrong.

All meat-based food production is vile. Have you ever seen what a McRib looks like when you wash that sauce off of it? If you ever want to eat a McRib again, you won't look it up.



And not just fast food. If you stop and just look at a bunch of meat just lying around, it looks gross. Even "good" meat looks gross when you consider it for a while. Which is why I try my damnedest not to sit around considering meat. I just want to continue eating it because it tastes incredible.

Please scientists, continue working on meat substitutes that taste like meat. I love steak. I love chicken. I love bacon. I just don't want to think about meat slurry anymore. Maybe make a nerf-like meat structure that can be easily shaped and tastes exactly like meat. It can be done. It must be done. Hopefully, my children will eat genetically created Frankenfoods that don't look vile and taste delicious. And hopefully they'll never know the horror that is meat slurry.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Art of Cinema

A collection of some of the greatest film scenes of all time.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Movies With Titles So Bad You Don't Even Want to Ask for a Ticket

Early this year I told my friend Sofia about what I thought was the shittiest movie title in the world. The film was reviewed in Shock Cinema magazine and was called POW! HARD SEX! It was a Japanese film I believe, and I know that these things don't translate well, but fuck, it was a bad title. After that we just went off naming movie after movie that we thought had a crappy, ill-advised title. Thus, the following list. These are films that, regardless of the merits as films, have titles so bad that it would be embarrassing to have to call a video store and ask if one of these were available.

The following list is of real movies. Unfortunately, this leaves out such great bad movie titles as Chubby Rain, DR. ACula, The Muppets Go Medieval, and The Blunch Black of Blotre Blame. I assure you, these titles are just as bad...or worse.


POW! HARD SEX!
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
The Ghost and Mr. Chicken
The Apple Dumpling Gang
Donnie Darko
The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes
Flubber
Sicko
Ballistic: Ecks vs. Server
Baseketball
Kustum Kar Kommandos
Look Who's Talking
Look Who's Talking Too
Look Who's Talking Now
Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2
Manos: The Hands of Fate
Frankenhooker
Space Jam
Juwanna mann
Pootie Tang
Baby's Day Out
Batman Forever
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies
Redneck Zombies
Rabid Grannies
Killer Condom
Dead Dudes in the House
Don't Tell Mom the Baby Sitter's Dead
Maid to Order
Frankenweenie
I Still Know What You Did Last Summer
Friday After Next
Dude Where's My Car?
How High
Desperately Seeking Susan
The Breakfast Club
Children of the Corn
Sweet Sweetbacks Badasssss Song
Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead
Eight Heads in A Duffel Bag
For a Few Dollars More
Leonard Part 6
Boom!
The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit
Operation Dumbo Drop
Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot
Holes
The Howling 3: The Marsupials
Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood
Soft Toilet Seats
Death Bed: The Bed That Eats
Cop and a Half
Freddy Got Fingered
Octopussy
Slap Her..She's French
Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo
Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feeling So Sad
The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down A Mountain
Snatch
To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Rat Pfink a Boo Boo
The Pope Must Die(t)
Nuns on the Run
The Unbearable Likeness of Being
The Neverending Story II
Free Willy

Sofia listed some other films, but I didn't think the titles were all that bad. However, I did agree with the following:

Plump Fiction
Swept Away... by an Unusual Destiny in the Blue Sea of August
King Ralph
Ed and His Dead Mother
Big Fish
The End of the World in Our Usual Bed in a Night Full of Rain
Black Snake Moan
The Man with the Golden Gun
The Shrimp on the Barbie
Julian Donkey-Boy
Summer Night, with Greek Profile, Almond Eyes and Scent of Basil
The Forbidden Dance
Roller Boogie
Lucky Number Slevin
Die Hard: With a Vengeance
A Joke of Destiny, Lying in Wait Around the Corner Like a Bandit
Live Free or Die Hard
Face/Off

Finally, I must mention The Shawshank Redemption. This is a good movie, but the title is so fucking bad that, if I remember correctly, it actually hurt its success at the box office. Then there's something like The Last of the Mobile Hot-Shots, which never would have found any success outside of the small niche of fanatical Tennessee Williams fans, regardless of the title. Then there's Quantum of Solace, which sucks even for a Bond title...I'll just stop now.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Lowering Your Standards for Explosions is Counterproductive

I never saw the first Transformers movie for two reasons. One reason was that I never watched the cartoon as a child, so I had no attachment to these characters. The second was that it looked fucking retarded. Imagine my shock when, sitting in the theater ready to watch a typical blockbuster film (I think it was Star Trek), the preview for the sequel comes on, and it looks like it could be a damn fine film. It looked dark. The special effects looked great instead of obnoxious. There was a feeling of dread in that preview that made me reconsider my opinion of Michael Bay. I actually considered watching it.



Then, I saw another preview.



Aside from the special effects, the film looks like a steaming pile of metallic shit. I read some reviews, and I find out that it’s just more of Michael Bay’s typical bullshit. I don’t even want to catch this fucker in the dollar theater. I’ve seen some of his other films and know exactly what to expect. I believe that it is impossible for certain directors to make a film that I would want to see, since the type of shit that gets them off is the stuff that shrivels me up.

I bring this up because when I saw another film this weekend, I saw the preview for 2012, and it looked like a great “everyone is going to die” movie. Hell, I thought that maybe there might even be some decent character development and a good story to boot. Then I saw that it was directed by Roland Emmerich, the same numbnuts who did Independence Day and Godzilla, two films that I have an intense hatred for. Looks like I’ll be skipping this one, too.

I hate the argument that “it doesn’t matter if the acting and plot sucks, those special effects are awesome!” Or even “what were you expecting when you went to this movie?” People who make these arguments need to be punched repeatedly in the face. James Cameron consistently made great action films with believable characters and good plots. The first two Spider-Man films were fun and all around great movies. The Dark Knight was a great FILM that had a ton of action in it. There is no reason whatsoever for me to give leeway to these directors of shit films just because the genre they work in has a lot of explosions and fighting. Is it really too much to ask these people to hire someone to put a few days worth of effort into making the script believable? There’s really no excuse for this except laziness.

Of course, since Transformers 2 is raking in the cash, any positive effects The Dark Knight may have had on action films have been officially flushed down the shitter.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Thursday, June 25, 2009

You Close Your Eyes and Hope That This is Just Imagination

Imagine the following scene: a school-age boy, notebook in hand, staring at a TV set. He has the remote in his hand and keeps rewinding and watching certain parts of a video, then scribbling down notes. A closer inspection of the notebook shows several ovals with arrows going from one to another, with words like “slide” and “step” written next to the lines. He sets down the notebook, stands up, and tries to move his feet in the fashion he described. Seeing that it is not going to his liking, he grabs the remote and rewinds the video, watching a small fragment again. He practices again. He sits back down, frustrated, and writes more notes, watches the video some more, and finally gives up.

The video was “Thriller,” and the boy was me. I was a huge Michael Jackson fan as a kid, and my interest only died out, sadly along with a lot of other people, when his HIStory album came out. I loved Dangerous and Bad, and I still think Off the Wall is one of the best disco albums ever made. His videos floored me, and even when I didn’t like the songs, I always loved his videos. Fuck, I even watched that piece of shit Eddie Murphy video “Whatzupwitu” because Jackson was in the goddamn thing. I remember what an event, yes, a fucking EVENT it was when he was interviewed by Oprah. I watched that shit like a teenage girl watching Twilight. I gave him the benefit of the doubt. “Oh, so you have a crazy skin disease? That explains everything!”

Then all that child molestation bullshit happened. I remember how quickly everyone turned against him, including myself. There were jokes such as “What do Michael Jackson and K-Mart have in common? Both have little boy’s pants half off!” I’m not going to deny that I thought he was a sick man, but his personal life didn’t make Thriller less of an album. His songs are still great, and nothing was going to change that.

The biggest shock about this to me is that he was so young. Only 50, and the fucker was still dancing his ass off. How the hell does this happen?
This is big. This is fucking Elvis big. No entertainer in recent memory has had the kind of impact and widespread appeal of Michael Jackson. I doubt that there was going to be any kind of comeback, but he didn’t need one. His musical reputation was untouchable.

I can’t say that I’ve been that big of a fan of his in recent years, but this has strangely hit me. Random patrons at my library approached me and said “did you hear about Michael Jackson?” A woman asked me if we had a TV in the library, and I did not think it was a dumb question. According to someone from another library, a woman ran out of a children’s program screaming when she found out. As for me, I found out when some teen volunteers were talking about it while signing in. I checked the news story and it just mentioned that he had a heart attack, so my initial reaction was “stupid teens always fucking blow this shit out of proportion.” A bit later, I checked Google news again, and it was confirmed. I was shocked, and so was everyone else. As I was leaving, a coworker walked in and asked if I heard the news. I said “yes,” but as she walked past me she had this look on her face that I had never seen before. It really looked like she was holding back tears.

Michael Jackson was known during the last years of his life as a freak, but I always liked what Dave Chappelle said about it. He said that whatever he did, he did it for us. He thought that by turning himself into this ghoulish thing, we would like him more. Then Dave said “thank you” to Michael, and that he appreciated it. I don’t know if anyone will know why he did what he did, but it really, really blows not having him around anymore. This gets thrown around a lot, but it fully applies: there has never been anyone like Michael Jackson.

I’m going to miss him.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Conundrum of Film Series

Why is it that in many films series, the second part is by far the best film? I was thinking about this while looking up information on the Star Trek films, and seeing that the vast majority of fans agree that Star Trek II, The Wrath of Khan is the best film of the series. Here’s a list of films that most people agree are better than the first:

The Dark Knight
Terminator 2, Judgement Day
Aliens (I disagree, but only because I love the horror aspect of the original)
Toy Story 2
The Empire Strikes Back
Shrek 2
Spiderman 2
Superman 2
Evil Dead 2 (VERY hard for me to pick this over part one, but I must concur that it is a better film)
Dawn of the Dead (Almost impossible to pick this over NOTLD, but I understand why people do, even if I don’t)
Godfather 2
Bride of Frankenstein
X Men 2

I think Batman Returns was MUCH better than the first Batman film, but a lot of people are split on this one. Same with Addams Family Values. Another one that people split on is Gremlins, but there is no way in hell that part 2 was better than the first one, no matter how great it was.

Another interesting thing that I’ve noticed is that after making a fantastic second film, everything starts going down the shitter with the third film. The following films are outright HATED by people:

Alien 3
Superman 3
Spiderman 3
Return of the Jedi
Godfather 3
X Men 3

This isn’t always the case, but usually a crappy third act is typical in a film series, with an even worse fourth film (Batman & Robin, Superman 4) coming right after. Now, I loved The Dark Knight, but I firmly believe that the next film is going to be a pile of shit, unless Nolan is able to pull off the miraculous feat of not having a shit third act. I mean, because of how great Raimi did with the first two Spiderman films, I was legitimately shocked at how fucking AWFUL the third one was, and I don’t expect part 4 to be any better. Why does this happen? I mean, I figured that if the same director, same writers, and same crew came back, there’d still be a ton of great stuff to make a movie out of. What’s going on here? Why do film series peak with the second film and go downhill rapidly after the fact?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Roland Saint-Laurent’s Helpful Hints and Tips for Cramming

When it comes to learning, I am one lazy SOB. In fact, right this minute, I should be focusing on similarities between Romance dialects and how Advanced Tongue Root may play a role in the heightening of mid vowels to high. But instead of doing that, I’m sitting here in the library, stubbornly refusing to do my work. In order to give myself some excuse for being unproductive, I’m going to share with you, my faithful reader, my advice for cramming a ton of info in your head for exams and whatnot. I started using this technique two years ago and the results were pretty damn impressive.

1: Write your notes by hand. NO TYPING.

This may not be entirely necessary, but it sure as hell worked for me. I found that when I had to write a ton of notes from my textbook by hand, I was forced to slow down, due to my hand cramping up all the time. The side effect was that by slowing down, more of the information seeped into my head, without me even noticing it until I went back to my notes. Now, I don’t do this all the time, and sometimes I cheat and just type some of it up, but the stuff I wrote by hand stuck with me longer than the stuff I just typed up.

2: Read the summary first.

This one will be familiar to anyone who’s ever tried learning about learning. When you read the summary, you get a nice outline of what the chapter is going to be about, and the key points are right there for you to watch out for when you go back to read the chapter. This really only works if your textbook has a GOOD summary and not some crappy three-sentence one that I’ve come across lately.

3. Read the chapters aloud.

This one’s a real pain to actually finish, but damn does it work. I tried this with my painfully dull Nonverbal Communication text, and the information stuck better than when I just read it silently. Again, this probably has to do with slowing down to digest everything, but it gets results and I think everyone should do it, especially with those ridiculously dense texts that you start getting saddled with as a grad student.

4. Record your notes and prepare to go insane.

I don’t remember where I heard about this trick, but it is by far the best of the lot. You’re going to need a ton of patience to do it, but if you’re anything like me, the results will definitely be worth the trouble. Get every single one of your notes and put them in a decent order. If you don’t have enough notes, grab your text and write down more. If you are lucky enough to have a study guide, go to town and write down everything mentioned on it. Fire up your computer and load any sound recording program that you have. Grab your microphone and record yourself reading every single note you have. Don’t just stop at the notes: read the chapter summaries, definitions to any terms that you’re having trouble with, anything that you know you’re going to need to know. Don’t leave anything out. Once you have it all recorded, either burn it to a CD or upload it into your MP3 player. Now listen to it until your ears bleed. Listen in the car, listen while going out for a walk, listen while doing random crap around your room. Even if you have it playing as “background music,” occasionally you will hear bits of info and start remembering them. Yes, you will get sick of hearing yourself, but that’s what you want. At some point your brain is just going to get fed up and let everything ooze in. I remember things better when I hear them, and when I hear something over and over and over again, it’s much easier to recall.

Another thing you’ll notice when you’ve been listening to your notes…if you go back and actually read the chapter again, you’re going to fly through it because you already know everything. You’ll be hearing yourself talk about it in your head, and whatever you forgot to jot down will be easily added to this knowledge, like an ornament.

Here’s my attempt to explain why this works: You’re bombarding yourself with information in three different ways. You’re reading the text, you’re writing the notes, and you’re listening to the information that you wrote down. Nothing takes the place of having a professor there to explain it to you, but if you’re working on this alone, this is a great way to stimulate the senses.

Those are my handy-dandy tips for cramming. Feel free to add your own, if you care to.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Aww, Leftovers Again?

As brilliant as Disney was in their early years, they were always known for recycling. Whether it be older fairy tales, jokes, plastic cells, what have you, they always reused what they could. Here's a great video that I found on The Daily Dish which demonstrates how Disney reused scenes from their older films for newer ones. The main culprit appear to be Robin Hood, which was one of their most uninspired outings. I wonder just how much of this is going on in their films that people haven't caught onto yet?


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Fun With Writing Prompts

"Your friend tells you he can pick up any girl at the bar, no matter what he says. You bet him $100 he can't. Create the world's worst pick up line and send your friend off into the crowd. What happens?"
--- Taken from Writer's Digest.

Periwinkle and Enrique were at a bar together, joking about the various women that they've been with. The subject came about due to an uncomfortable rash that Periwinkle had for the past two weeks, and these two rapscallions were trying to figure out the source. Enrique was particularly interested, mainly due to the fact that he took a great deal of pride in having his way with women after Periwinkle, and was nervous that a rash was right around the corner for him.

Enrique lifted his glass of Chianti and suggested that the bar was "dead," and that these two Lotharios may be better serviced at another bar. Periwinkle countered with the following:

"Tsk tsk! I thought you would have more nerve than that! Speak for yourself, fellow, for I, Periwinkle, can ravish any fine maiden from New York to Anaheim!"

Enrique slid his hand into his pocket and eyed Periwinkle. "Care to make it interesting?"

He pulled out a wad of rolled hundred dollar bills, and peeled off a $100 note. "I will lay down this hundred note, and say that you cannot have your way with the woman of my choosing."

Periwinkle grinned. "My fellow, your mind seems to have gone the way of your nerve! I will take this wager, and not only will I ravish this maiden, but I will supply the evidence of the fact afterward."

Enrique scanned the bar. Near the corner was a heavily-bosomed woman with pink lipstick, wavy hair, and long legs. Her complexion was that of a fine Colombian coffee, lightened with the sweetest of creams. Dear reader, a look from this maiden would leave not a single dry seat in the room. Lesser men nearby trembled with fear when she looked at them. They purchased her drink after drink, in hopes of receiving a smile. Even the hint of a smile would send tingles from a man's scalp to his nether regions. This was the challenge for Periwinkle.

"Ha!" laughed Periwinkle. "A simple matter. None can resist my charm. Observe, dear brother."

Periwinkle approached this maiden with a strut which brought shame to the other men. He pulled a stool from nearby and sat it directly in front of her. She patted her hair gingerly, wanting to keep it fine for what was coming. She was accustomed to crushing men, and wanted to look good while doing it.

Periwinkle spoke:

"You know, I couldn't help but notice your breasts from across the room. My father, bless his soul, was a cantaloupe grower, and throughout my life I have yearned to suckle a teat which would cause those memories to cascade down my vision, sending waves of euphoria all over my body. Maiden, those breasts of yours are reminiscent of those cantaloupes, and it would be a true honor for me to suckle them."

The woman stared at him, her mouth open slightly. Such words to her have never been spoken. She stood up, and laid her hand upon his arm.

"Let us retire to my van. I have it stationed nearby, and I cannot wait a moment longer. I do not want your name, dear sir, nor any further preliminaries. Let us away!"

Enrique was astounded. He held his glass aloft and said quietly, "Godspeed, young man. You truly are a man to be admired above all others."

Twenty minutes later Periwinkle ran back into the bar with deep scratches covering his face. "That fucking bitch robbed me!"

Enrique dropped his glass. "What the...what the hell happened?"

"She fucking pulled a knife on me and brought me to that ATM down at the 7/11. She made me pull out $300 bucks and then took my wallet! I don't even have my fucking car keys anymore because they fell out of my pocket in her van!"

"Christ, man. Should we call the cops?"

"No...this is embarrassing and I just want to go home. My mom's sick and she doesn't like me being out late."

"Well, damn bro. I'm sorry you didn't get to nail her."

Periwinkle brought his middle and index finger up to Enrique's nose.

"Who says I didn't?"

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Blom!



I found this on The Daily Dish. I make lame sound effects all the time, and I hope when I pump out a baby it's as giggly as this one.

Friday, April 3, 2009

One Post About Two Cohens




In my last post, I completely forgot about Sacha Baron Cohen's film Bruno, which will make this the third film based on a character from The Ali G show. The preview looks goddamn hilarious, and can be found here:

http://www.slashfilm.com/2009/04/02/bruno-red-band-movie-trailer/

Also, I've been mentally preparing myself for next week's Leonard Cohen concert by listening to every single album of his over and over. This may sound ordinary, except that I've never been a Cohen fan and bought the tickets because my girlfriend LOVES him. Prior to this barrage of Cohen, I'd only heard a few of his songs and thought they were pretty good. The only album I had of his was the much-hated Spector collaboration Death of a Ladies' Man, which I liked mainly because I'm a Spector fan, though the songs were pretty good. Anyhow, I basically put all of his albums on one MP3 CD and have played it continuously for three weeks now. I can't say that I love his music, but I have found many songs that I have enjoyed immensely. Plus, concerts are infinitely more enjoyable when you know the songs that are played, so by making myself familiar with his work, I'll enjoy it much more than I would have otherwise.

I have done this experiment before, where I listen to (or attempt to listen to) every single studio album a musician has pumped out. I tried it with Frank Zappa but stopped when I hit his late 70s stuff because it got extremely obnoxious and unbearable. Aside from that, I want to do this with more musicians. I think this is a great way to absorb an artist as a whole, and I have a ton of respect for Cohen after hearing how his music has changed over the years. When listened to chronologically, the I'm Your Man album is a VERY jarring experience. I think that this works best with artists that you feel indifferent about, that way the constant barrage of music will force an opinion out of you. Next up on my plate is Bruce Springsteen, someone who I think is pretty good, but don't really have anything else to say about him.

Of course, I'd love to spend a month listening to the music of an "artist" that I fucking hate, just to see if my bias holds water. I've entertained the idea of doing a Britney Spears or Jessica Simpson marathon, but I don't know if I have the courage for that yet. Maybe another musician widely considered to be crap would also work equally well. Not anything "ironic" bad or "bad but with artistic merit," I'm talking about total fucking CRAP. I'm still debating on it though.

By the way, anyone wondering how to get all of these albums legally, here's your answer: Your local public library. Libraries are the original peer-to-peer file sharing networks, and the Orange County and Los Angeles County public library systems will let you check out CDs and DVDs for free. There may be a small 25 cent request fee, but that's peanuts. Libraries are a fucking AMAZING asset, and now that the economy's in the shitter, more people are figuring that out. Use them, folks. That's what they're there for.

Anyhow, any music suggestions for total bombardment?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Movies I'm Actually (Somewhat) Excited About

Last year was a surprisingly good one for films, at least for films that I like. Two films came out (Wall E and The Dark Knight) which I consider among the best of their specific genres, some great comedies (Pineapple Express and Tropic Thunder), a great "man drama" (The Wrestler) and two political films that I really enjoyed (Frost/Nixon and W). So will this year live up to last year...at least for me? Not that you give a shit, but here are some films that I'm looking forward to this year:

Whatever Works

I've never seen a Woody Allen film in the theater, but I've been a fan of his for several years now. After having the one-two punch of seeing both Match Point and Crimes and Misdemeanors last year, I'm really anxious to see his new film. Its plot involves "a botched suicide attempt turned messy love triangle," which is enough to sell me on it. Plus it has the biggest asshole currently working in comedy, Larry David, as a main character in it. That alone makes me want to see it, along with the inevitable excursion to either Canters or Greenblatt's afterward for sandwiches and conversation.

Up

I didn't need to see the preview to know that this was gonna be worth watching. After all, it's Pixar, and they have never put out crap. Only the average Cars "steered" me wrong (GET IT???), but even that film was miles above anything the Disney studio's put out since their second golden age which ended with The Lion King. I finally saw the preview for this film before The Watchmen of all films, and was laughing my ass off. Before, I just wanted to see it because it's Pixar. Now, I want to see it because it looks fucking hilarious. God bless Pixar. Walt would be proud of them, and ashamed that the studio that bears his name can't fucking touch them when it comes to plot, animation, and entertainment.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Even though Warner Bros. did an extremely dick-headed move by bumping this movie up half a year after its scheduled release date just because they "needed a summer blockbuster" and no other reason, I'm still gonna go see it because the series has gotten much better since that shithead Chris Columbus left and let talented directors take over. Sorry Chris. As far as I'm concerned, Gremlins was the only masterpiece you ever did. Also, the series has gotten progressively darker, and even though I already know what's going to happen, I can't wait to see how it translates to the big screen. Still, it's fucking unnerving that the "kids" are adults now. They looked so doughey and short in that first film, and now they're all lanky with deep voices.



Where the Wild Things Are

Ridiculously hipster, since it's written by Dave Eggers and directed by Spike Jonze, but the very fact that they have actual puppet costumes is enough to sell me. Plus, Jonze has done some amazing films, and the preview looks great. I've read this book during my story times, and the kids love it, so I have that extra connection to the story. The only bitch is having to wait for it.

Star Trek

Ugh...I KNOW this film is going to suck balls, but I want to see it because last year I started watching Star Trek The Original Series for the first time, and I liked the idea of these planet-hopping schmucks going on adventures. The show was fun, and I want to see this film against my better judgment. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn't turn out to be crap.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

I was unimpressed by the first X-Men film, but I've heard good things about the second one (and because of the rule of 3, the third one allegedly blows). Plus, I'm a sucker for superhero movies. Another reason why I'm interested in this film is because it has an "indie" director (Gavin Hood) at the helm. For some reason, I trust "indie" directors to do the right thing with superhero films, but I might actually wait and read some reviews before seeing this one.

The Wolf Man

I'm extremely torn with this one. On one hand, I LOVE werewolf legends and think that the mythology behind werewolves is damn interesting, plus the film stars Benicio Del Toro, who actually looks like a fucking werewolf and probably needed very little makeup for those transformation scenes. On the other hand, it's directed by Joe Johnston, who directed Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Jumanji, Jurassic Park III, and The Pagemaster. While The first two of those films I mentioned weren't terrible, they weren't great either. I don't expect this film to have that "arty" touch that I like in horror films, so if I see this in the theater, it will be with lowered expectations.

Inglourious Basterds

It's Quentin Tarantino. Grindhouse was fucking amazing, as was Kill Bill and pretty much everything else that he's shit out...with the exception of Four Rooms, which he should lose a finger for. Anyhow, yes...another WWII film, with an abundance of violence and Nazi-killing excitement. Unless he really fucked up and accidentally made a piece of shit, I'm pretty sure I'll be leaving the theater satisfied with this one.

The Lovely Bones
I love Peter Jackson. Everything he's ever done is great, from Bad Taste to King Kong. I don't know what this film is about, but some people are comparing it to Heavenly Creatures, which everyone needs to go out and rent immediately. This man is overflowing with talent, and I'm glad that he's finally going to have something new for me to watch this year.

That's all I can think of. I'll add others as I find them.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Motion Comics: More Crap That I Like

This weekend I went to the store (Target, if you're that nosey) and looked at the DVD section. I like browsing the DVDs because in these hard economic times there are usually some pretty sweet deals, like when I bought the first two seasons of The Outer Limits for a cool $14. Anyhow, I saw something which really threw me. Some of you may remember my review of the Watchmen film. If you don't, look for it on my site (a bit of warning, finding it might be hard, since it's buried in the archives). In that review I lavished some pretty heavy praise on it, and until I watch it again and become disillusioned, I stand by what I said. Anyhow, there was a huge amount of promotion for this film, and one of the tie-ins was a cartoon of the comic-within-a-comic "Tales of the Black Freighter," available on DVD. I didn't really understand how this story tied in with everything else, but I do intend on watching it once Netflix sends it. I also saw another, much more intriguing thing right next to that DVD. It was a DVD called "Watchmen, The Complete Motion Comic." I read the back and became immediately interested. Apparently, every single panel of the original comic book was enlarged, given slight animation, a panning camera, music, sound effects, and narration. Now, I like to do what I call "double teaming,' which is reading a book and listening to the audiobook at the same time. While some may consider this cheating, I find that it helps me understand the text a lot more, especially with authors such as Joseph Conrad, whos writing is always straddling the line between boring and brilliance. Anyhow, I watched an episode of this Watchmen animated comic, and I was blown away. This is the most faithful adaptation anyone will ever see of this comic book, since it's basically the entire damn comic except for the pure-print sections at the end of each volume. The technique used is very effective, and drew me into the story so much that I wanted to watch all five hours of it, even though I've already read the comic and seen the movie. I've read other reviews of it, and the main problem people have is that all of the voice work is done by one man. It is a bit jarring at first to see a woman and hear a man's feminized voice doing the dialog, but as someone accustomed to this in audiobooks, I got over it. I fully realize that this was done purely to make money out of fans of the comic, but it's still a great concept and I hope that it catches on. There's already a motion comic of some Batman comics being done, and Marvel's also having a go at it. I'd love to see some of the stuff that I read when I was younger (such as Spawn) given this treatment. It's apparently fairly cheap to do, and there definitely is a market for it.

And maybe, further down the road, some pervert will take some Tijuana Bibles and give them the motion comic treatment. Not that I'd watch them, of course.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Watch, Man!

I saw Watchmen this weekend, and it was a fucking masterpiece. I've also been reading reviews/comments about the film, and I am shocked at how bitchy people are being about it. Some are saying that it followed the book too closely, and that it didn't really "breath" as a film on its own. I say that's a load of horseshit. I've read the damn comic and I thought that the film holds it's own, regardless of how brilliant the comic is. My girlfriend never read the comic and also thought it was great, so it does have appeal outside the comic community. Other people are saying that the sex scene was ridiculous, that Dr. Manhattan's gigantic schlong was too distracting, that it was too this, that it was too that, blah blah blah. I knew that the film wouldn't please everyone, but I can safely say that this film can sit snuggly next to The Dark Knight and Spiderman 2 as one of the best superhero films ever made.

Above is the title sequence (not anymore...the website that hosted it no longer has it up. They were douchebags anyhow), which is probably the best one I have ever seen in a film. It captures the environment that the movie is set in, has a great old-time feel to it, and gives you something of a backstory for the characters involved. As a work of art, I honestly think that the titles succeed more than the film itself. That's not to take away anything from the film, though.

One thing that is interesting about it all, for me at least, is the fact that adaptations are tricky as fuck, and always leave some people pissed off. It's damn hard to get an adaptation right, and some fans refuse to understand that what works in a comic or a book might not translate well into a full-length film. I remember years ago people complaining that in the Spiderman films he can shoot the webs out of his wrists as opposed to creating webshooters with a limited amount of fluid. Is it really that much of an issue? I mean, it's a fucking guy that was bit by a spider and now can walk on walls, but you're gonna bitch about webshooters? If a film is done well, it should be seen as a separate thing, a compliment to the original source. I thought that the first couple of Harry Potter films were atrocious pieces of shit simply because they tried way too fucking hard to remain close to the books. It was only later when they got better directors that the films were able to breath and become good films in their own right.

My favorite book is Ulysses, and I have seen the movie Bloom. I hated it, but not because I thought that they tarnished my precious book. It mainly had to do with poor casting, shitty acting, bad direction, and the fact that the whole damn thing looked like it was filmed on a camcorder. When I was heavy into Stephen King, I knew that Carrie was a much better film than book. I haven't read The Shining, but if the made for TV version is more faithful to the book than Kubrick's "bastardization," then I'd have to say that Kubrick was right to change the story around for his film. I'm sorry, walking plants aren't as scary as a claustrophobic maze with a killer chasing you with an ax.

The best directors have a vision which matches that of the author of the original source. While the creators of Watchmen has pretty much disregarded the film, I think that it's a masterpiece that anyone who is a fan of this kind of thing would like. It's the smartest superhero film ever made, and the director did a great job of adding all kinds of small elements that only fans of the book would get, while not neglecting the vast majority of moviegoers who have never read it. Stop being a douchebag and go see it.

But cover your ears once the final credits roll. That cover of Desolation Row is one of the worst fucking Dylan covers I've heard, and there are A LOT to choose from. Thankfully the schmucks who covered it didn't do all the verses.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

OK Kids, Gather 'Round, It's Storytime!!!



Really Scott? The next Bobby Kennedy? This guy is the biggest fucking dork I've ever seen take the political stage. Christ, I don't even talk this way to my storytime kids. This douche makes Rick Moranis look like Vin Diesel. It sounds like he's about to say "Garsh!" before each sentence. I love when "important" people eat it in front of millions, so this clip was pure gold in entertainment value. Even Fox News said this was crap. Yes, FOX NEWS.

Jim Goad said he "looks like Gilligan dipped in iodine." Someone on The Daily Dish said, "That was like watching Will Smith vs. Urkle." Some guy named "Ace" said, "I don't care how much of a star Jindal is, America doesn't elect somewhat-off dorks as president."

Since Obama is also a dork, I'm looking forward to the jock/bro reaction to an Obama/Jindal showdown in 2012.

By the way, to ensure everyone that I'm fair...Obama also blows, and I'm glad I didn't vote for him or that bulldog-looking geezer and his daughter.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Boredom

I don't watch a lot of Oscar-nominated films, but the ones that I do see, at least the more recent ones, usually leave me feeling hollow inside. I saw most of Shakespeare in Love and didn't get the appeal. I saw Chicago and thought that it was average. Anyhow, as the Oscars are notorious for getting it WRONG, I shouldn't have been too surprised that the two best films that I saw last year didn't get nominated for best picture (in case you're wondering, I'm referring to the crowd-pleasing Wall-E and The Dark Knight). The film that got the most nominations, however, leaves me feeling truly baffled, as I don't understand why it did. I'm referring to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but before I talk about that, a little background:

The director of TCCOBB is David Fincher, a man who's pumped out some gritty films that I've loved. These include Seven, The Game, Fight Club, and the delightful Panic Room. I loved his dark style and how the plots to his films are usually mind-fucks. I haven't seen Zodiac, but I've heard that it was also pretty good. I try to take note of certain directors, and use them as an indicator as to whether or not I should go see a movie. In fact, as interested as I am in the story of Harvey Milk, I refuse to see the also Oscar-nominated film Milk because it was directed by Gus Van Sant, a man who created two of the biggest pieces of shit I've ever had the misfortune of viewing (Last Days and Psycho, if you're interested). When I heard that Fincher directed TCCOBB, I figured that at the very least, I would be entertained. Hell, I even liked Alien 3, which he directed, and almost everyone else hates it.

The first warning sign should have been that the screenplay was written by Eric Roth. This man wrote Forest Gump, which was a good, entertaining movie, but had an underlying philosophy that I found loathsome. He also wrote Ali, The Horse Whisperer, and The Insider, films that I have no intention of ever seeing. Before seeing the film I read that he wrote it, but I figured that since his other films haven't really been considered terrible (except for The Postman), then TCCOBB would at least have a decent script.

Another thing that should have sent up a warning sign was that the website Film Threat gave it a negative review. Most movie dorks have their own personal reviewers that they go to for advice on what to see. I choose Film Threat. Sure, they've steered me wrong in the past (Clerks 2), but most of the time they're on the money. I also questioned the film when I found out that Roger Ebert disliked it. I don't follow Ebert as closely as I do Film Threat, and I know he's made some real asinine recommendations, but I still agree with him most of the time. In fact, to this day I haven't read a glowing review of TCCOBB, but it's not like I've actively gone out seeking one.

Anyhow, I finally saw this film. The only thing I can compare my reaction to is when I went to Starbucks and ordered their Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate, and they told me that they ran out of salt. I ordered it anyway and it tasted average. It was not the mind-blowing delicious flavor that I was accustomed to. Thus, TCCOBB was NOT the delicious Fincher flavor that I was accustomed to, and I can't help but wonder why the fuck this movie got so many Oscar nods. I mean, shitty movies have been nominated in the past, but this one really floors me. Aside from the well-known fact that this nearly three-hour opus is an excellent cure for insomnia, there's nothing at all special about this film. It has a neat plot, but the title character is such an uninteresting bore that the film just falls to pieces. You can't have a character study with a main character that is impossible to either like or hate. I mean, I truly don't understand how the viewer could possibly LIKE Benjamin. He doesn't do anything of note; he just reacts to what's going on around him. At least Forest Gump was a likeable idiot. Benjamin is just some borderline retarded old man for half the film, then turns into an uninteresting middle aged man, then turns into a teen, and during all these years of his life he doesn't actually DO anything which would make the viewer care about him.

Benjamin

Others have pointed this out before, but I'll repeat that the film's structure is also a little too close to Forest Gump for comfort. That won't bother most people, so if the idea of a 2 1/2 hour Forest Gump with a reverse-aging freak and without the snappy tunes appeals to you, then you might like this film. I also disliked the audience-manipulating death of Benjamin. I know that it was unavoidable, but still, seeing a baby die is pretty damn manipulative, I don't care how plot-relevant it is.

One last complaint. The way the story is framed is completely unnecessary. The dying woman in the hospital stands as one of the most excruciatingly annoying characters I've had to deal with in a film, and this has to do solely with her voice. My girlfriend and I both cringed every time she opened her mouth and wheezed out more of her deathbed crap. These scenes could have been snipped out and the film would not have changed too much, except for the lame "Oh my goodness, Benjamin is my father!" revelation falling into the trash bin.

By the way, speaking of filler, I saw My Fair Lady and thought that it was OK, except for Eliza's father. That character could have been completely removed, and the film not only would have flowed better, but it would have been much shorter, too. I don't know why they gave a completely unnecessary character the longest songs. But I digress.

I have nothing else to say about this film, except that it is probably the worst film I've even seen get nominated for so many Oscars. I've heard that Crash is a real piece of shit, but I'll never know because I'm never going to watch it. Also, because the two best films that I saw last year weren't nominated for best picture, I'll once again avoid watching this annual orgy of back-patting and smirking. I don't know who's hosting, but I don't see how anyone can pump any kind of excitement into yet another uninspired collection of films. Ah well. Perhaps next year.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Disc Jockey

A video I made for the song Disc Jockey by Adriano Celentano. I have nothing clever to say about it, except that I used clips from a few films that I liked.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Experiment Number 2

My second video. Less disturbing, but still joyous.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ode to Joy

Ladies and Gentlemen, my first video. It's titled "Ode to Joy," and is mainly disturbing/sad/funny images with exceedingly happy music. I hope you like it, because it's my baby.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

McNeeley Can Eat It

Growing up, I hated most sports. In fact, I took weighlifting in high school specifically because I didn't want to play a sport, and it was the only other option available. A tradition that I do miss, however, was my dad inviting a bunch of people over to watch a boxing match. Even though I hated sports, I enjoyed boxing, mainly because it was so basic. Two guys beating each other up...how could an angry teenageer not enjoy it? I never had a favorite boxer, but I tended to root for underdogs. Thus, when Mike Tyson had his post-rape "comeback" fight against Peter McNeeley, I rooted for McNeeley. I remember everyone gathered around that cramped living room, loud, speaking Spanish, and gulping down mouthfulls of beer. I was off to a corner, not really talking to anyone, and the only thing I would do is holler "MCNEELEY!!!!" when he would show up on the screen. No one really backed either of the boxers, but they were pretty sure that McNeeley would end up flat on his rear end. Regardless, everyone was pretty excited about the fight, myself included.

Finally, after a retardedly long build up that NO ONE was interested in, the fight started. I hesitate to call this farce a "fight," but that's what it was billed as. After 89 pathetic seconds, McNeeley's manager threw in the towel, under the lame excuse that he was preventing him from taking any further damage. Everyone in that room was furious that the fight ended so quickly, and it was generally assumed that this match was a sham and that we were all ripped off.

Other McNeeley embarrassments in the ring include him getting floored by Butterbean in one round, and then getting knocked down in the second round against Henry Akinwande.

As pathetic as McNeeley was in the ring, it turns out that he's even more pathetic out in the real world. According to Wikipedia, in 1998 he was found passed out drunk outside of a sub shop in Massachusetts. In 2006 he was arrested for punching a man and stealing his wallet (the man was probably more stunned by the punch than anything else, since this schmuck can't box). Finally, in 2006 he was arrested yet again, this time for driving a getaway car used in a Walgreens robbery. In addition to $180, he also stole a fanny pack. As sad as it is, getting "knocked down" in a fake fight with Mike Tyson was the highlight of this idiot's career.

It might seem easy to make fun of a washed-up boxer, but I don't care. All I remember is that night, watching the Tyson/McNeeley match, I was pumped up and excited for the fight. What I got was a joke, which permanently destroyed not only how I viewed boxing, but professional sports in general. It was so obvious that the fight was fixed, that I was even more bitter after the fight than I was before. Thanks a lot, jerk. You ruined the only sport I liked.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Rectum Ripper


When I think about delicious products that I want in my mouth, the last thing I think of is the word “rectum.” However, among hot sauce fans, there is apparently some strange correlation between an appealing sauce and excruciating pain in the anus. The following products are real, and since I am no fan of either hot sauces or a painful derriere, I’ll skip them and let you report back to me whether or not it was as delicious as it was advertised.

















Thursday, January 8, 2009

Roland's Big List of Lists

Top 5 Movies

A Streetcar Named Desire
Citizen Kane
Jules et Jim
Goodfellas
Polyester

Top 5 Albums

Beck - Mellow Gold
Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited
Tiny Tim - God Bless Tiny Tim
Michel Polnareff - Love Me Please Love Me
The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds

Top 5 Books

James Joyce - Ulysses
William S. Burroughs - Naked Lunch
John Steinbeck - The Grapes of Wrath
H.G. Wells - War of the Worlds
Irvine Welsh - Trainspotting

Top 5 Gardens

Giverny
The one at Versailles
The Huntington Library's Botanical Garden
Gilgal Garden
The one that was in my girlfriend's back yard before the goat ate all the plants

Top 5 Buildings

The Burj Al Arab
The Louvre (except for that retarded pyramid)
The Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City
The Los Angeles City Library
Motel 6 in Eugene, OR

Top 5 Drinks (alcoholic)

Washington Apple
Cape Cod
Adios
Fat Bastard Wine
Long Island Iced Tea

Top 5 Drinks (non-alcoholic)

Coffee (Decaf)
Tea (Decaf)
Caffeine-free Pepsi
Sierra Mist
Water

Top 5 Foods

Hamburgers
French Fries
Pork Chops
Chick-Fil-A Original Chicken Sandwiches
Philippe's French Dips

Top 5 Wars

The Revolutionary War
The Napoleonic Wars
The Great War
The Civil War
The War on Poverty

Top 5 Presidents

Abe Lincoln
Thomas Jefferson
Richard Nixon
Herbert Hoover
FDR

Top 5 Websites

Jim Goad's Netjerk Lounge
Failblog
Cracked
I Don't Like You in That Way
This one.

Top 5 Fingers

Pinky
Ring
Middle
Index
Thumb

1001 Things You Must Do Before You Die...But Can't

I'm a huge fan of lists, and since I can't seem to accomplish much else in life, I always try my hand at completing some list or other. My earliest attempt was the AFI 100 movies list. I started on it when the list first came out, but gave up on it when I started viewing movies which may have been important, maybe even groundbreaking, but bored the living shit out of me ("The Jazz Singer" and "Birth of a Nation," I'm looking at YOU). However, every now and then I get an urge to start on a list, just to feel like I've done something productive with my dicking-around time. I've made attempts at the Modern Library's 100 Novels list, the Radcliffe Rival list, the updated AFI movie list, and even some album lists. I have yet to finish a single one of them, but I've gotten pretty well along and have found some amazing new stuff because of these lists. Thus, I feel vindicated for the time spent.

There is another list, though, that has held a strange appeal over me. Actually, it's a series of lists, and while they may seem pretty cool upon first encountering them, when you get into it, you want to kill the editors for giving you false hopes. The lists I'm talking about are the "1000 (blank) You Must (blank) Before You Die" lists. These books are fat, pretty, and seem like nirvana for dorks. There are tons of nice illustrations, and just flipping through one of these fuckers is enough to make you cream in your jeans. Just don't make the mistake of actually trying to complete one of these lists. The editors, who may be decent folks, put these books together in such an insidiously evil way that you will never finish these lists unless you're scary-obsessive and have resources at the tips of your fingers that other mere mortals do not.

Take the "1001 Books" book. I'm going to ignore many of the flaws in the book and only mention one. This flaw, however, is so glaring that you wonder how the editor was given his job. The flaw is this: some of the books are unavailable in English. Now, it may only be a few books, and if you do some serious, hard-core digging, you may find an elusive copy of Mann's "Professor Unrat" in English, but still, if you're going to put out a book like this, shouldn't availability be a bare-minimum for inclusion? The most egregious example is "The Taebek Mountains," a book that has never been published in English, and which there are no plans whatsoever for translating into English. So unless you speak Korean, you will never read this book. Now some smart-ass out there may point out that you can get a French translation...well guess what? That translation isn't even complete. It's only of a few volumes, and who knows when it will ever be finished? Thus, YOU WILL NEVER FINISH THIS LIST.

Also, I have been looking through the "1001 Movies" list, and have been shocked at how many films are completely unavailable, not just on DVD, but also on VHS. Bruce Conner's short film "Report" is only available as a $30 rental on 16mm film, so unless you have a projector, you will never see this movie. Also, there are over 100 movies on the list that are not available on DVD, some not available on VHS, and a few that have never been released here. Why, why, WHY make these fucking lists if you can't easily access the materials? OK, I understand why "Scorpio Rising" made the list, and at least that one finally got a DVD release, but many others have not been as lucky. If it hasn't been on the market in the last ten or twenty years, it has no business being in this fucking book. NEXT!

The "1001 Albums" list is a little better, but just keep in mind that the Loretta Lynn album is only on vinyl. I haven't gone through the entire list yet, but considering what I've encountered in the prior two books, I can only imagine that some shit will be on the list that's only available as a limited-edition 8 track released only in New Zealand. Thanks a lot, dickheads!

These books have become quite a sensation, and there are volumes with gardens, paintings, buildings, wines, and fucking FOODS that you must see, drink, and eat before finally dying. I'm sure that the gardens book includes the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the paintings book a picture that Van Gogh painted over and then burned, the buildings book the Stardust casino, the wine book some shit that was aged in California but then smashed outside the French consulate by pro-war protesters, and the food book slabs of mammoth bathed in dodo eggs.

Enough bitching. In my next post, I'll throw up some of my own lists.