Monthly Archives: August 2010
Welcome back to the journey into under appreciated creativity. This feature, Attention Must be Paid, will shine my (however brief and dull) spotlight on something that needs props. Mad props. Today, I’d like to shine the light on Stereo Telescope, an electronic pop band that’s the cat’s pajamas – or whatever the kids are saying these days.
Kurt Schneider and Nikki Dessingue are the duo behind Stereo Telescope, combining their vocals with electronic and traditional instruments. I’d first like to applaud the idea of combining male and female vocals – this isn’t done enough in pop music. (Does Lady Antebellum do this? Whatever.) Secondly, the keyboard effects are hot – that’s an Atari you’re hearing – Atari 2600, I believe. I had corresponded with Kurt in March and he’d mentioned having an Atari, but no games – he was using the synth card for music, and this must be the result. It’s awesome; the layering is great, especially when you listen with headphones. Combine some keys, guitar, and some layered vocals, and you get a rich, powerful sound; that last chorus is hot. I guess that’s a xylophone over the chorus, but whatever it is, it’s awesome.
But enough of my yackin; let’s rock:
NOTE: My Dinner for Schmucks movie review contains spoilers.
Dinner for Schmucks is a remake of a French film of the same name – or so I’ve read. While the American version has a soft side to it, my understanding is that the French version is brutal. Paul Rudd stares as Tim, who is trapped in middle management but sees an opportunity to move up, but playing with the big guys upstairs means going to a dinner. For schmucks. Oh, and its BYOS, by the way.
It’s not that simple – and Ron Livingston is in this movie, who I’m a big fan of; but he’s not in it that much… Anyway, Tim meats Barry, portrayed by Steve Carell, while he’s driving and texting and hits Barry with his car. Good message for the kids: don’t text and drive. I like a little message with my silly comedy.
If you didn’t see it coming, Barry quickly reeks havoc on Tim’s life by instant messaging with his ex Darla (Lucy Punch) and inviting her over (which leads to a ridiculous sequence of Barry and Darla chasing each other around Tim’s apartment and destroying it in the processes) and then mistaking his current girlfriend Julie (Stephanie Szostak) for his ex, and essentially ruining their relationship and Tim’s business lunch set for the following afternoon, which leads to additional hilarious circumstances. OK, not really. But when crazy ex girlfriend Darla (posing as current girlfriend as per Barry’s instructions) hands Tim a napkin that reads, “I’m wet,” at the the table, I had to laugh. That was good stuff.
In the middle of all this is Tim’s insecurity about Julie’s relationship with her crazy and famous client, Kieran (Jemaine Clement), which is completely groundless and impossible to take seriously. It just makes Tim look crazy, which doesn’t fit with his character. He’s constantly trying to do the right thing and have it all at the same time, not be crazy… I guess you could argue that this is making him crazy, but he’s jealous of Kieran from the start, despite that he’s clearly a freak and Julie isn’t interested in him. At all. Kieran is a less interesting, less funny version of Russell Brand‘s hilarious Aldous Snow of Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek fame. Tim’s conflict with Kieran is similar to Barry’s conflict with Therman (Zach Galifianakis, who I’m already sick of – he has a beard, I get it; I liked him better when he was conducting his all ex girlfriend choir), except their conflict is not imaginary as Barry’s wife left him for Therman.
The climax of the movie is, of course, the BYOS dinner, which also features the final showdown between Barry and Therman, which is mildly amusing… the blind fencer was pretty funny. He also enjoys painting. Someone asked him, “Are you any good?” and he answered, “I don’t know.” That was also good stuff. But for a scene you wait the entire movie for, it’s not that great.
There are some laughs in here, and the movie doesn’t drag. The cast delivers fine performances, but there just isn’t much to work with here. Paul Rudd, as always, does a great job of making you care about his character, but we’ve seen this sort of movie before; we know it’ll be OK in the end, and we never get a sense that it won’t be, which the second act is lacking.
The Take Away: I’m not sorry I saw this movie, but I wouldn’t watch it again.
Welcome back to the journey into under appreciated creativity. This feature, Attention Must be Paid, will shine my (however brief and dull) spotlight on something that needs props. Mad props. Today, I’d like to shine the light on Rattrap Bumpkin, a band that rocks in their socks.
While I don’t condone the trapping of rats, I do condone Rattrap Bumpkin. In fact, you might say I condone the shiz out of ’em. Bumpkin’s press kit says that their goal is to make refreshing music, and that’s as good a way to describe their writing style as any. Bumpkin brings something new to the table, yet it’s not a bunch of eclectic noise; you won’t go to a bumpkin show and find singer/lyricist/guitarist Michael Benedetto crammed into a chicken costume and banging away on a tambourine while he chants in Sumerian about the plight of North American hot dog vendors. Their music is smooth, progressive and addictive; one might say its the Kool of crack. But don’t smoke either of those, they’ve both bad for you. Besides, Mike will weave a spell you’ll enjoy more than a quick fix inhalant.
Bassist/singer/lyricist Bryan Fraser and drummer Chris Stanis round out the rhythm section. While Mike is tied to his microphone as the lead vocalist and Chris is at his kit with a fixed look of concentration on his face (because he’s busy blowing your mind), Bryan makes up for any lack of movement by giving you 100% of his performance. He can’t be stopped, he won’t be stopped; Bryan is a force up there. I almost want to give him something else to do; as long as he’s got all that energy, why not put together that new desk I got from IKEA? Everything I’ve ever bought from the Swedes always takes me a year to finish… like trying to learn one of Chris’ drum charts. Forget it. It’s too hard. Don’t try. The interesting thing is, Chris’ drumming isn’t… I don’t know, overly busy like Neil Pert (who I love, by the way, but the dude is super busy to a fault – which doesn’t mean he isn’t my favorite drummer, because he is), yet there is plenty going on, enough to keep you not just listening, but re-listening.
I could go on, but I’ll let the music speak for itself.
Be sure to check out Rattrap Bumpkin’s website for show dates. They create and play excellent music and are more than worthy of your attention. Pay it up.
Yeah, these Cheetos are Vegan. I need these. They’re called Cheetos Chile Limon.
I know this seems crazy, but if you’re vegan and you like to snack, then you know what I’m saying. I’m vegan. I like to snack. I need these Cheetos.
So far, I haven’t found them yet. I’ve been looking for over a year, not very strenuously, but still looking, and I haven’t found them yet. Well, I’ve had enough. It’s time to stop fucking around. Please help me find these Cheetos!
UPDATE: Frito-Lay Consumer Relations confirmed that Cheetos Chile Limon has been discontinued. I recommend Tings Crunchy Corn Sticks (which are available on Amazon) as an alternative snack.
Welcome back to the journey into under appreciated creativity. This feature, Attention Must be Paid, will shine my (however brief and dull) spotlight on something that needs props. Mad props. Today, I’d like to shine the light on Air, published by Vertigo Comics, a subsidiary of DC Comics.
Air is great. It’s well written and the characters are vibrant. Now, what’s Air all about? Uhm, I’ll take some picks from Wikipedia and let them explain:
Blythe follows [Zayn] to Narimar, where she is designated by the Etesian Front a “hyperpract”, that is, someone with the power to move into different dimensions or realities.
As the story progresses, the ambiguous concept of ‘hyperpraxis’ is introduced, as what seems to be a supernatural form of teleportation. The story develops more eccentric and fantasy elements, introducing Amelia Earhart and Quetzacoatl as supporting characters.
Follow all that? And yes, I am openly praising a comic book that features Amelia Earhart as a character, not to mention Quetzacoatl. Air is a great example of a book that shows you how you can do whatever you want, just as long as it’s done well. Blythe is an excellent character. She’s smart, powerful and vulnerable all at once – not to mention other things.
The author of Air was G. Willow Wilson, making this one of the only comic books I’ve read that was written by a woman. Unfortunately, the book has been canceled after 24 issues. =( Why, I don’t know – it always sells out at my local retailers. Wilson should obviously move to Bergen County, NJ, where her genius will be appreciated. Air is getting the graphic novel treatment, though – the first volume is available at Amazon.
Today begins the journey into under appreciated creativity. This feature, Attention Must be Paid, will shine my (however brief and dull) spotlight on something that needs props. Mad props. Today, I’d like to shine the light on House of Mystery.
House of Mystery has been around for a long time, first published under DC Comics and currently under their subsidiary, Vertigo, which will be the subject of today’s Attention Must Be Paid. Beginning in 2008, House of Mystery returned after an absence from the scene since the early eighties, and frankly, they’re kicking ass left and right.
While House of Mystery is always running an A and B story (and even a C story), the book also features framed tales, for the House of Mystery has a house bar, and patrons must pay for their drinks with stories, so you are always guaranteed an extra bit of wackiness. (How awesome would it be if you could pay for your drinks with stories?)
I don’t want to ruin it for you, because it’s worth reading. Sure, it’s a little occult, but the book’s goal isn’t to scare you, if you know what I’m saying – but it might freak you out a bit. Volume 1 is available on Amazon. I highly recommend it.
I was reading about this in the New York Times and I thought, “OK, get your HD on, I’m with that,” because the Star Wars movies have been released a zillion times, but a full HD version is a worthy excuse. I myself have the original trilogy on VHS, VCD (import) and DVD formats – the DVD format is ‘Special Edition,’ but whatcha gonna do? Buy the unaltered version, I suppose… but I can’t be bothered to plop down another $40 bucks just to see Han shoot first.
A deleted scene from “Star Wars,” the first of the series’ live-action films, coming to Blu-ray.
Sorry, come again? Deleted scene, you say? Nice! I don’t think it’s from “Star Wars,” though; that seems to be Luke holding a green light saber, so any fool geek could tell you that this scene must be from “Return of the Jedi.” MUST BE. Suck it, Dave Itzkoff. I assume this scene takes place before or after Luke kicks ass at Jaba’s Palace, presumably when R2-D2 made a comment referencing Luck being a whiny bitch about his power converters in “A New Hope.” Yeah, I know I’m supposed to call that one “Star Wars,” but aside from above, I haven’t done that in like 11 years, so let it go. You can’t say “Star Wars” anymore and expect people to know you’re talking about one specific movie that came out in 1977. Hell, you can’t even say “Clone Wars” without confusing the crap out of people. I mean geeks.
The Blu-ray version is not going to include the unaltered (or rather, less altered – no one screws around more with his past work than George Lucas) versions of the original trilogy, so ‘Han shot first’ enthusiasts are screwed – at least for a while. At some point, Lucas will want more money and get around to releasing that version, so just be patient; “for the Jedi it is time to eat as well,” or something.
I can’t help it; Steve Rogers is my favorite comic book character. As Captain America, Rogers has fought the good fight for decades, and he doesn’t do it because he feels guilty about his parent’s murder, or because his uncle was murdered, or because he was bit by a radioactive spider, or because with great power comes great responsibility – OK, I’m picking on Spider-Man, I’ll stop. Rogers volunteered to fight the Nazis and was declared 4F so many times that they feds finally decided to experiment on him, see if they could make him the ultimate human specimen. Yep, Rogers fights for his country with peak human potential muscle and reflexes thanks to the super soldier serum, better known as drugs. It doesn’t get any more American than that. But without any real super powers (he doesn’t have the proportional strength of a spider, or anything like that – I know, I know, I’ll stop), Rogers beats evil’s ass with strategy, skill and an unmatched will to succeed. Oh, and as for Nazis – Cap hates Nazis. Word, brotha; I hear ya.
This summer, we’re getting a Steve Rogers: Super Soldier mini series. This is both cool and feeding my need for more exploits by Rogers, because he doesn’t show up much in Captain America these days (don’t worry, that’ll change soon) and there are a ton of other characters in Secret Avengers.
I’ve read the first two issues:
The first issue is promising enough. The son in law of the inventor of the super solider serum has started up his father in law’s work and has cracked the code to the serum (he memorized some portions of the process and was murdered before committing it all to paper), which Rogers sees as a threat. The idea that the power that he has could be sold off to the highest bidder gets him moving, and by the end of the issue, the good doctor finally meets Rogers and tells him he’s going to use it to cure cancer, not create a race of super soldiers. Only moments before, Rogers encountered men who appeared to have already under gone the process, but they seemed unstable, and one passed out. Before Rogers can question him, an assassin’s bullet pierces the glass and kills the doctor.
The second issue lumbers along. Rogers tries to beat the identity of the killer out of the local underworld (I forget what city they’re in – it’s not the US, and the comic is waaaaaaay over there…), but no one seems to know anything. The doctor’s wife seems to be the agent who guarded the door way back when on the night Rogers was administered the super soldier serum, but this is seemingly impossible, given that it occurred in the early 1940s. A few twists and turns finally reveal to us that it’s Machinesmith who’s behind it all, complete with his army of Life Model Decoys (these LMD robots think they’re human – the wife/agent was just Machinesmith’s way of effing with Rogers) and a new toy – that removes the super soldier serum from Rogers, which is what he does just as the issue ends.
I guess I should point out that he’s been in this situation before – way back in 1989. If you folks at Marvel thought no one would remember, well, you thought wrong, dogg. I’m a Captain America geek – it’s what I do. But, given that I can’t recall Marvel using this plot decide in a good 20 years, I’ll let it slide. But it still sucks, and the reason it sucks now is the reason it sucked then:
He’s a super soldier – as the title of the series so eloquently points out. What fun is it to watch Steve Rogers run around and try to solve mysteries as some scrawny little wind bag? Why don’t you just replace Rogers with me?!? I don’t need to see him punch people and say, “Ow!” I’ve seen it. It’s dumb.
Nevertheless, we’re in Act II now, so I understand Rogers needs to placed in a tough situation. Wouldn’t an army of super soldiers to fight be more fun than not having his enhanced abilities against the king of the robots? I’m prejudging, because issue 3 isn’t out yet, and I don’t know where they’re going, but whatever. I doubt its anywhere good.
No, really – direct marketing of pharmaceuticals to the consumer is totally awesome. It’s the best idea EVER. I love it. It’s really wonderful. I love those commercials; they function as not only wonderful works of marketing, but as beautiful pieces of film.
It’s a little confusing for folks of my generation, I think – if you were a kid in the 1980s, all the commercials told you not to do drugs. These are some of my favorites:
It’s hard to understand how awesome, popular and powerful the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were; if the message of this commercial was, “Kill your parents, it’s totally righteous!” I might have done it. Anyway, when mutants who live in the sewer tell you to stay off drugs, you stay off drugs.
“I learned it by watching you.” That is the greatest line in a commercial, ever! If anyone ever tells you you’re doing something wrong, tell them you learned to do it that way by watching them. Awesome.
Ah, the frying pan girl. Does anyone break shiz the way she does? I’ve always assumed she was conceived during a one night stand with one of the members of Kiss – but probably not Peter Chris. Can you imagine? “Oo Chris, you look like a cat, and that is exactly what turns me on!”
However, I do NOT support the ‘Above the influence’ campaign. I get it, it’s a play on the expression, ‘under the influence,” which is hilarious, but drug abuse is not a laughing matter, whether we’re talking about ‘pot’ (do people still call it pot?) or pharmaceuticals.
Uhm, I have questions. Does marijuana make you see and hear talking dogs, or does it make you think your dog is talking? Either way, I’m going to have to reevaluate my stance on marijuana if true. (Note: modify notes on illegal drugs: change marijuana’s definition from ‘makes you eat cookie dough’ to ‘makes you trip balls.’)
Sorry, I got distracted. This info is old, but as of 2008, only the US and New Zealand allowed for the direct marketing of pharmaceuticals to the consumers. Yep, New Zealand: best know for being near Australia and the location home of the Lord of the Rings movies. Let’s take a look at this Ambien commercial:
Wow. The friendly man starts reading the side effects 23 seconds and wraps up at the 56 second mark. I think I heard something about my tongue swelling up, suicide, being aggressive – maybe he threw the word fatal in there somewhere, I don’t know. What I do know is that he’s asking me to reduce my doctor’s roll to that of a drug dealer. Honestly, who has the cahones to walk into their doctor’s office and say, “Hey, I’ve got this sleep issue, but it’s all good because I saw this commercial on TV last night, and I just need a prescription for Ambien. Write. It. Up. Doc. Don’t waste my mother fucking time!“ That’s right, go all Al Pacino on his or her ass. Because, despite not being a doctor, there isn’t any reason why you can’t self diagnose yourself. You’re smart, right? It’s not like you can split the atom or went through four years of medical school, but you’re still pretty smart, so diagnose all night long, as I like to say. I’m sure your doctor will think its awesome – or hilarious, or tell you to get out and never come back.
But if you’ve got a sleep issue, I feel ya. I’ve been there. That rooster is a bitch, right? Oh, you never hallucinated roosters? Well, according to the commercial, you’re the only one: the lady saw the rooster until she took Ambien and the guy at her job that looked drowsy (or pissed off because he hates his job, I couldn’t tell) saw the rooster. Oh wow, I just realized Ambien come to snuff the rooster! That’s totally bizarre! Dude, leave the rooster alone, that guy is cool as hell.
I don’t meant to pick on the Ambien people – I just picked them at random. Oh, and because of the rooster. The rooster rules. “No he ain’t gonna die – no!”
If you want to look bad in front of your boys, get into an argument with Carrie Fisher. I dare you. Read about her life – she can conquer anything. Remember Carrie Fisher in the Blue Brothers? Exactly. She brings it, so get a broom – she’s going to dunk on you and break your backboard, Shaq style.
I’m a big fan of roller coasters. Ever been to Six Flags Great Adventure? Awesome – Nitro is my favorite. I bring it up because I’ve always assumed that these sort of horrible movies are supposed to induce a similar sort of pulse pounding thrill; for me, it doesn’t really happen – the movies are too fake.
If you haven’t watched the Piranha 3D trailer yet, go ahead – but have some blueberries or something. I heard somewhere that every time you sneeze, you lower your IQ a little bit. Can you imagine what would happen if you sneezed while you were watching this trailer?
The trailer speaks for itself. It’s not fair to review a movie you’ve only seen a trailer for, and reviewing a trailer is pretty asinine, but look at this piece of shiz! How dumb do they think we are? Didn’t anyone learn anything from Snakes on a Plane?
Actually, the film industry did learn something – Snakes on a Plane made double it’s budge because people didn’t heed Jay Sherman: If the movie stinks, just don’t go.