Saturday, December 19, 2009

Review: Fantastic Mr. Fox

Haven't written anything in the last week. I blame this on my chronic battles with apathy.

I've seen some movies as of late, though, and since I really am at a loss for other things to write about, I'm going to offer a few mini reviews... unless if my first one becomes a lot longer than I am planning it to be. Then it's going to be one review.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Verdict: Wes Anderson should stick to animation from now on.

It was pretty easy to see that his schtick was probably getting stale, as each film since Rushmore has slowly regressed in quality. But this whole animation thing injected a new life into him (you know, despite the fact that apparently he did jack squat during the making of the movie), and it allows him to indulge in even more whimsy than he's used to, and he gets away with it. Like the scenes in which the animals randomly break out into jigs whenever they fell upon some loot--if you saw Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman break out into a dance at a key moment in the movie, you'd think it's the stupidest thing ever put to film. But since it's animation, and it allows for more flight of fancy, it works.

It also helps that as a whole, the film is much more optimistic and joyous in tone and spirit than anything else he's done. Sure, it has its darker elements, but it definitely doesn't have Luke Wilson cutting his wrists over Gwenyth Paltrow set to Elliot Smith music either. This is probably due to the fact that, as a PG rated movie that is an adaptation of a children's book, the darker material had to be scrapped. But it's good, because the existential dilemmas that Anderson's characters began to feel started to seemed tacked on by the time The Darjeeling Limited came out.

There's a few minor problems. Mr. Fox has this trademark whistle that sort of grates on the nerves, and when someone finally mentions the whistle, they don't completely tear it apart as being stupid and pointless like I was secretly hoping for. And really, the characters really aren't all that engaging, and I honestly can't say that any particular part of the story bowled me over either.

But whatever. It was fun, joyous, humorous, and pretty much everything I was hoping for and then some. Sometimes that's all you need in a film.

RATING:


So it ended up just being one review. Oh well.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Review: The Hangover

Argh. What a frustrating movie.

OK, so here's the gist. I liked the movie. As you will see below, I'd rate the movie a 6 out of 10 (except that I'm posting pictures in place of actual numbers, so it'll be something like six fingered hand). It was pretty funny and quite enjoyable. Sure, it got to the point where so many things were going wrong that you wondered why they wouldn't just be in constant misery and constantly trying to solve everything at once, but the mystery that gives the film its structure holds up well enough that you remain intrigued throughout.

Here's my problem with it:

This was a terrible weekend. Just about everything went wrong, people got shot, the groom was feared dead, a tiger was kidnapped and then had to be sedated and dealt with, someone was kidnapped, someone gets married to a stripper in a drunken stupor... THIS IS NOT SOMETHING I'D LIKE TO REMEMBER AT ALL.

So what happens at the end? Everything is neatly tidied up. The groom is found, he gets happily married to a wife that forgives them for scaring the crap out of her, the father of the bride dismisses the fact that his car was destroyed simply because he realizes that "it's Vegas", they find out that they're $80,000 richer, one guy gets out of his abusive relationship and tries to begin anew with the stripper he married, and so on.

This is all bulls***. Complete bulls***.

It glorifies the "whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" mentality, and pretty much says that drunken debauchery is OK, cause you gotta let loose every once in a while. Which is true to an extent, but not if you go wild to the point of excess. As I sat watching the film, I felt there was an underlying emptiness surrounding the entire night. These guys, not even knowing what the heck they did, wake up to see that they are in all sorts of trouble. Sure, it's played to comedic effect, but it's also kind of sad. So it demanded a certain type of ending... even if you had to find the groom and get him back in time to be married, you can make it clear that the night out has created a rift between bride and groom, one that might not be repaired, you can make it clear that the other participants are worse off for the wear... you can make it fit within the mainstream audience's expectations that they end up surviving, but resist giving them a neatly wrapped bow.

So basically, I was just pissed at the end. And I began to imagine how all the frat boys are going to watch this and begin to plan their own Hangover-esque bachelor parties/Vegas trips, and then get in a crap load of trouble when they do something stupid and the excuse of "it's Vegas" does nothing to help them. I'm probably taking this too seriously. Of course no one is going to be inspired by the film to steal a tiger or anything. But I think it encourages debauchery, which I don't particularly find to be really all that cool. But maybe I'm alone on this one.

RATING:


Although really leaning towards 5. Maybe even a 4. I'm assuming the funny moments derived from the film will vanish from memory, and the bad taste will linger, so in like a year, it's probably a 4.

Review: Inglorious Basterds

I feel as if it's kind of pointless to review a Tarantino movie at this point, but whatever. You'll either love it or hate it. For me, this is a marked improvement over Death Proof, and probably his best movie of the decade.

A lot of what makes it such an enjoyable experience is that Tarantino lets the scenes play out and unfold before us. Which means that the film is heavy on dialogue. But that's OK, because it isn't of the Death Proof variety where it's basically long pieces of dialogue for the sake of dialogue. No, these scenes are long because these characters are trying to control the others, engaging in dialogue with the others to feel out any weaknesses they might possess. The two main scenes that I'm referring to is the opening scene and the scene in the bar in a basement, which build up in such a way that at anytime the incredible tension might seem to erupt at any time, and at when it does it is short, violent, and wonderful.

I don't want to say that this movie is a more mature effort, cause it does have a lot of cartoonish elements, but it does remind me a bit of Jackie Brown (which would be considered "mature") in that it seems a little bit more refined. And yet, it plays out sort of in the vengeful style that Kill Bill featured. A lot of people have written that the film plays out as as this anti-revenge fable, which in the case of this movie is pretty stupid from my viewpoint, cause the whole film is just Tarantino allowing the Jewish to kick the crap out of Nazis. It's not really deep at all, but it feels needed given how the Jews have been portrayed in Hollywood for so long.

The performances are all fairly solid. Of course, Christoph Waltz has pretty much been given every praise possible for his performance, and with good reason. But I also really liked Brad Pitt in his role; a lot of people seem to not have been as taken with his performance, which I think is because it is a much more comedic performance than anyone else gives. But it hits the right notes, and works awesomely in the scene at the movie premiere.

The only complaints I have is that the style of the film seemed a little all over the place--there's a random Samuel L. Jackson voice-over to give us the backstory for one of the characters, and it's pretty abrupt and not necessarily needed; another example has important historical figures pointed out with arrows that follow them as they weave through the movie premiere crowd, and it's kind of annoying--and there's not a lot of time devoted to developing the characters, aside from a few major figures. But still, when pretty much each scene has some great aspect going for it, it's hard to really nitpick too much.

RATING:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's f'n cold

But it's totally not a big thing.

Even though I'm shivering at the moment.

Minnesota sometimes likes to remind the world that it exists, and it does so by sometimes fulfilling its expectations as one of the coldest states. Most of the time it's really not cold at all, but this recent snowfall has hit quite suddenly.

Things that happened due to this:

1) Saw my first car accident ever, which really wasn't much of one, but still. As the snow was beginning to ramp up yesterday, I was at a bus stop when I heard tires screeching in front of me. A car was turning left, made a complete stop, and the car in the back couldn't come to a complete stop behind her. He kind of nicked her as she started to turn left, so the damage was minor, but still. It was kinda cool. I gawked a bit. They probably felt stupid being the first people to get into an accident of the 2009-2010 winter season (they probably weren't the first... but they were close, probably).

2) I went to work with two pairs of socks, long shorts under my pants, and about 5 layers on top. Usually I just go with the simple one pair of socks and just pants route, but I have to work a considerable distance to work, and I didn't know how well I'd hold up waiting for a bus for 10-20 minutes at 11:30-ish.

As it turns out, it was actually a more pleasant walk than it was going to work earlier in the day. One could most easily attribute this to the fact that the wind died down considerably. I attribute it to the fact that somewhere in the 6 hours between trips I became much more of a MAN. In capital letters and everything.

As it is right now, I consider myself a winter survival guru.

I survived this with flying colors, I survived my toes being completely frozen earlier in the day, I can survive anything. I'm typing this right now while the heat in my place is turned off. (I'm doing this with the use of a much more economically efficient heater fan, but ignore that for now.)

I can pretty much handle anything mother nature throws my way right about now. I am, for all intents and purposes, a machine.

Of course, now I'm going to tempt fate and it's going to be -40 tomorrow and all my windows will randomly shatter, but whatever. I'm cool.

(Get it? Get it? That was a pun, because of how cold it is outside.)

(It's actually funny. Seriously. I promise.)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Vikings game...

I'm going to write as I'm watching the game tonight.

For the record, I've been going back and forth whether or not we win today. We completely dominated them last year... but they're probably still bitter about that and looking for vengeance... but we have a better team this year... but they're at home and probably need the win more... but the 49ers just lost so they'll have a 2 game cushion even if they lose...

But the Vikings haven't had many tough road games, and the one we won (Packers) was probably because Favre probably preferred death to losing that game... but the Cardinals aren't *that* great at home...

Right now I'm thinking they win by 4 simply because the Saints won, which will give the Vikings extra incentive to play well to keep up with them.

6:53: I'm trying to find some Motown Christmas songs online.

I determined that some of my favorite Christmas songs are either produced by Phil Spector or Motown, but I couldn't figure out which one it was that was making them all. It probably was a combination of the two, but I didn't assume that. All absolutes in this case, baby.

I've listened to Phil Spector's A Christmas Gift For You, and it doesn't fill me with as much Christmas goodiness as I expected. Although I've listened to it 1.5 times (my iPod likes to randomly run out of battery after 30 minutes of use sometimes...) so I haven't really fully ingested it.

7:10: In a way, it's a good thing that Favre came back instead of inevitably joining FOX's pregame show.

Because Favre seems pretty stupid. And might lower the already dismally low discourse on NFL pregame shows.

7:22: One day, some TV executive will realize that a primetime football game doesn't actually require some crappy song by a boring pop singer as its theme song.

I probably won't cry tears of joy or anything when that day happens, but I wouldn't look down upon anyone who did.

7:32: I don't think our defense is going to be stopping this offense. Fortunately, Hightower just coughed the ball up, so we're good for now.

Also, my fantasy team needs Sidney Rice to get about 200 yards and 3 TDs for me to have a chance of winning. So no pressure or anything.

7:45: Shiancoe catches ball, is ruled out of bounds, play gets challenged, gets overturned... and then the stadium erupts into cheers. So I'm guessing that a lot of Minnesotans have winter homes down in the southwest...

8:24: I feel like I'm about 264 pounds right now.

I think this is what eating strictly fast food will do to you over the course of the day.

Also, our offense has been doing jack today.

8:31: So basically, our only hope is that the Cardinals try to insist on running the ball. Cause we're going to get torched in the air. And then every single team will then realize that this is the way to beat us. And then we'll lose. Every single game. And lose the division to the Packers.

8:54: 21-10 Cardinals.

It's my mother's birthday today, Arizona. This is probably going to be her worst birthday if you keep throwing it and beating the crap out of us. These are the type of things you should consider. Cause being heartless bastards isn't ultimately rewarding.

9:19: Brett Favre just threw an interception.

It looked like a play in Madden, where I'm trying to throw to one guy but press a wrong button. He wasn't even looking where he was looking...

9:36: One of the reasons why I was in favor of signing Favre was that whenever we lost, I could then pin the blame squarely on Favre, which sounded like a grand old time to me. So since I haven't been able to do it much this year, I'm going to go all out now.

F***ING FAVRE YOU OLD COCKSUCKER. PLEASE HURRY UP AND CHOKE ON A PRETZEL SO YOU CAN STOP SABATOGING THE VIKINGS' SEASON.

That was a bit weak.

I didn't really mean it.

Favre, please start playing better. Pretty please. I'll forgive you for the fact that you've been a jackass for your entire life if you do.

I'm going to go ahead and stop writing in hopes that somehow, that will produce some sort of luck for the team.

I hate losing

Also, I should never ever play Madden again. It's really not as good as it once was. Also, it makes me snap heads off of action figures.

That is all.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Stuff

It's been a long day, and all of my reasonable senses are telling me to go to bed, but I'm not, so there.

I'm at home, but I had work today. I also wanted to be at home tomorrow for my mother's birthday, so I drove out there (50 minute ride) borrowing my Mother's car. Got off work at 11, then went to go hang with Sara for an hour or so. Then I just made the drive back home and got back around 1:30.

I do want to say, though... and I'm not going to write much more about it because it doesn't really make me want to say much more about it... but I watched Public Enemies last night, and it really wasn't that good.

I mean, it was good.

But I thought it'd be better. So I'm pissed off or something. I'd probably watch it again at some point in my life, but the whole movie seemed to revolve around the action scenes, with pretty much every other scene just setting the next action scene up. Not a bad thing, per se, but it didn't have much in the way of character development... and really, it didn't seem like it had much to say. And there was a lot of potential: you had the FBI using their pursuit of Dillinger as a way to make themselves stronger as a point of interest, you could tackle the celebrity that he sort of received... you know, something that makes the film a little bit more than "Johnny Depp robs banks, and Christian Bale tries to stop him."

Also, the Timberwolves have won 2 out of their last 4.

This means their record is now 3-17.

I'm thinking playoffs.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Review: World's Greatest Dad

First off, the DVD of this is probably the most wonderfully misleading case in the history of movie cover art.

Looks like a nice, safe albeit rated R Robin Williams flick, right? That's not all, but what does the back say? "Then, in the wake of an accident, Lance suffers the worst tragedy and the greatest opportunity of his life. He is suddenly faced with the possibility of all the fame, fortune and popularity he ever dreamed of, if he can only live with the knowledge of how he got there." Sounds intriguing, no? A little quirky, but not terrible enough that your mother couldn't watch it with you.

This movie has Robin Williams' teenage son die from auto-erotic asphyxiation, which Williams responds to by making his death seem like a suicide, complete with Williams writing a suicide note that ends up becoming a worldwide sensation. The first 30 minutes also involves a lot of various forms of masturbation, and it is indicated that this is the teenage son's only hobby.

Basically, I'm assuming a lot of unassuming people renting this probably won't make it past the first 30 minutes.

It's an interesting concept, for sure. The essence of the idea is that people glamorize others after they're gone (as well as glamorize their own relationship with said person) when in actuality everyone treats each other like s***. So Kyle (the teenage son) is a huge jackass and everyone hates him, but once he dies everyone LOVES HIM! And he's a saint! And Williams, the frustrated father who dreams of one day becoming a published author, decides to fake a suicide note and journal, publicizes it to everyone in the hopes of getting him some sort of long-sought adulation.

It's all a clever idea, see. Too bad the rest of the film isn't clever enough to live up to the premise.

Here are a list of the main things that bothered me:

1) The characters are flat, stupid, and unlikeable. The high school is rum amok with stereotypes, including your closeted jock and goth girl and all that. Everyone treated Kyle with little regard (and with good reason), but once they learn of his "suicide", they all pretend that they were great buddies. Instead of... you know, asking themselves why they treated him like crap, wondering about their role in his "suicide", and then deciding to honor his memory.

Williams' character comes off a little bit better, quite opportunistic but ultimately loving of his deceased son. Of course, there's not really much time in the film spent wondering whether or not he actually regrets using his son's death to his benefit, (which makes the ending kind of abrupt) which means an intriguing dilemma is put to the side for needless "humorous" scenes such as the one where Williams waits for his lady friend to finally choose the right dress to wear (which has untapped potential in terms of comedy, for sure.)

2) The fact that the suicide note is terribly written (from the portion that we see) doesn't help us buy the fact that anyone could become so moved by it. I guess it gives you the idea that the reason Williams hasn't made it as a writer is because he sucks balls, but I'm pretty sure that's not what they were going for. Also, apparently his journal talk a lot about how no one "understands" Kyle and that he's "hiding his intelligence" out of fear of being treated differently. Which is stupid as hell. No one should really buy it.

3) You know those Facebook/Myspace posts your friends used to do where they'd make a soundtrack for their life, and make all their choices hyperliteral so that the song played at their funeral would be something like "Funeral" by Band Of Horses? There's a moment in the movie where Williams grabs his secret stash, and then a song on the soundtrack starts with lyrics something to the effect of "I get high as a kite". It made me want to punch my computer screen. Needless to say, I didn't really like the soundtrack to the film.

I don't want to say that I disliked this, as I did enjoy certain parts to the film and Robin Williams was kind of decent. But it couldn't prevent the feeling of wasted potential.

RATING:

I would just like to say...

That this Tiger Woods situation confuses me.

Perhaps I haven't been paying close enough attention, but how did a story that started off with a car crash suddenly end up being about his extramarital affairs?

Also, why is everyone acting so surprised that he would be sleeping around? If you're rich and famous, people are going to be throwing themselves at you. The ratio of unfaithful celebrities to faithful ones is probably around 8:1.

Of course, the people who seem surprised are terrible sportswriters, so maybe my problem is that I've been just reading too much Rick Reilly or something.

----

Also, I'm planning on writing something later tonight. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Fudge!

I just realized that I missed what is perhaps one of the better Christmas TV specials tonight. Of course I am talking about Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer. What else would I be talking about?

I still somewhat plan to review all the Christmas special-y stuff I can get my hands on. Except that I haven't done anything yet... because it hasn't felt like Christmas yet. Except that it started snowing today, so that's somewhat Christmas-y. I'm still thrown off by the fact that I had an abnormal Thanksgiving... so the fact that it's December doesn't feel right.

Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer is QUALITY, though (along with Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town). Usually Christmas specials are sort of cheap affairs with bad messages to try to make up for the lack of quality. But the Rankin Bass specials feel like a nice big 40s Hollywood production that try to provide an enjoyable experience with some nice songs and a little of suspense. It gives it a warm and familiar feel to it... which is great if you're making a Christmas special.

Also, even though it really isn't about Christmas the song "Why Am I Such A Misfit" from the special is considered to be my favorite Christmas song. Although I'm probably the only person that thinks so. A while ago I expressed my love for the song and someone said that the song was stupid.

It secretly hurt my feelings a lot.

Monday, November 30, 2009

It's not that I'm against the cold or anything.

I used to be one of those "four seasons" type of person. The one that would claim that one of the perks of living in Minnesota was the weather (instead of... you know, the bane of its existence). The cold was alright with me... made everything interesting for a while, made the holidays that much more cozier... plus, it made you appreciate Spring a little more.

But sometimes things change. Sometimes things grow distant. This is what happening between me and winter right now... I can feel us growing apart as we speak. Soon enough I'll probably be cheating on winter in Miami with 70 degrees and sunshine. Basically, it seems like it's heading towards a bitter breakup.

I now have to walk 15 minutes to and from work everyday in the cold, and then as I'm trying to get back, wait up to 30 minutes for the bus to finally arrive.

I also now have to worry about heating bills, as I have been very careful not to turn on the heating in my place because apparently the building uses a convoluted and expensive way to heat the whole place up. I was going to try to avoid it as much as possible, but then my roommate recommended that we turn the heat on. I immediately responded by weather proofing the windows in my room, hoping that it cuts out excess cold from getting in and making the place a lot warmer.

All of a sudden I look at the forecast a lot more frequently, hoping that somehow, someway, it stays above 50. Sometimes it gets close. Even more regularly it's been inching closer towards 20. It's a massively depressing thought for me, and it's not one I can prevent in any shape or form. Nope, the cruel old world keeps moving along, and soon enough it'll stomp right along me.

There are ways to combat these problems... like a car... like money... the first one requires money, an the second requires effort. Neither of which I am in possession of as of late. If someone were to supply a little bit of either, perhaps things would get rolling my way. But until that time, I'm just going to have to freeze, and embrace it.

In other news, I'm stressed about money and need to start looking for jobs, and as a result I pretty much hate everything now.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

So the whole not writing thing has actually been sort of refreshing, as I've been able to pursue other interests without having to worry about how to word something in the most precise way (not that I really worry about that much anyways... I typically pound out these things and go with it, usually only editing if it's some sort of spelling error).

I really don't have much to say right now, as a result of the layoff, but I feel like I should get the ball rolling again so the whole sabbatical is not so much laziness as it is a sabbatical.

Here are a few things:

-Watched The Graduate tonight. The last two times I've seen it I've been reminded of some article or writer (or random internet people) seeming at a loss at how anyone at the time of the film's release could identify with Dustin Hoffman's character, since he is pretty much spoiled, self-centered and weak. I always saw the argument as sort of missing the point. The character is obviously disillusioned with life and the expected path that he is on, but it makes it quite clear that he still doesn't know what to do with his life as the movie concludes. Moreover, he makes the same mistake that Mrs. Robinson makes in rushing into a romance that seems doomed to fail. I would say that Ben is actually quite identifiable... but not in a pleasant way, in that you can relate to him drifting aimlessly but also realize that he's screwing up life just as you probably feel you're screwing yours...

-The Vikings won again. Big surprise.

The next five games will be a challenge, as we're going to be facing some top notch opponents. I'm leaning towards Arizona being able to knock us off next week, and then we have to face the Bengals. At Carolina and at Chicago will be somewhat winnable, and I'm assuming the Giants will be a tough out as they fight for their playoff lives. I'm actually thinking that we lose 2-3 games in there... enough that we lose all hope of home field advantage throughout, but enough to stave off Green Bay at least (who have a tough schedule of their own).

-Also, I'm getting pretty amped for the holiday season.

I've been having the crazy idea of watching as many crappy holiday specials as possible, then writing about them. Which would actually be a lot of fun. For some reason, the crappy specials/annoying commercialism is always a reason why I kind of like the holidays... I don't know, they make it all the more kitschy. Which would get annoying 12 months out of the year, but in December? It's all good.

Watching all the crappy Christmas specials would probably test my love for all things holiday related, though.

Maybe it isn't the best idea in the world.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

So I haven't written in the last few days, and I pretty much have no excuse. Except that Sunday I worked late, Monday I fell asleep at some ridiculous early hour... and yesterday I had a crappy day at work and didn't feel like doing anything.

So really I have a lot of excuses.

But let's just cover what we missed:

Sunday: The Vikings won. Which is good and everything, and they looked mighty convincing in doing so (even if it was against the Seahawks). The problem is that they've been playing too well. Well enough that I'm starting to believe.

Yep. I'm starting to think that maybe... just maybe, the Vikings will actually make the Super Bowl this year. This is dangerous thinking. Last times I believed: 1998 (lost to Falcons in NFC championship game... I cried), 2000 (lost to Giants in NFC championship 41-0), 2004 (?) (started out 6-0... then didn't make the playoffs on the last play of the season). This is not going to end well. Basically, we're going to lose out now... mostly because it's just not like the Vikings to meet expectations, you know?

Monday: Sleep is good, you know?

Tuesday: LOSING YOUR CHECKBOOK IS KIND OF STRESSFUL.

Basically, I feel like I've already lost all my money, even though I haven't (I really don't know what happened to it... I could have just misplaced it for all I know). And it kind of makes me want to go out and beg for money and such. Tell everyone about my woes... how I was robbed of everything I had, even if that's not true.

Wednesday: I learned something about big corporations today. They kind of suck.

If you didn't know that before I told you, you're welcome.

So at the place of my employment, we were told to start asking for donations to the Children's Miracle Network, which is cool and everything in of itself, but then I took a look at the program info that the stuff came with, and apparently only 50% goes directly to the fund. The other 50% goes to Blockbuster, who then buys product from the store to donate it. As a way to take advantage of people's charity and increase sales.

According to the website the Children's Miracle Network uses funds for stuff like research and education. I hope they also need used copies of American Pie movies...

Perhaps it's something that all the major corporations do, and perhaps I didn't get a close enough look at the details, but still. It'd be cool to do something just for the sake of charity, rather than bosses telling you should push it because it will mean more sales for the company.

Blegh.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Review: Funny People

(Note: I was going to watch the "unrated" version since the DVD allowed for the option between that and the theatrical version, but then I clicked play and it just went to the theatrical version. I looked in setup to see if I could switch, but it wasn't there, so I just went with the one it was playing. Apparently, you could choose between the two in the bonus features section, which is stupid.

Oh well. My ears probably wouldn't be able to take all the added raunchy language that the unrated version most likely offered (that or a penis or two... so basically I'm not missing much)).

Anyway. To the movie. I came in not really a huge fan of the "Apatow universe"or whatever the hell you might want to call it. 40 Year Old Virgin was OK, Superbad was OK, and I pretty much skipped out on all the rest. Not that I didn't enjoy myself or everything, but the two I saw (So Superbad really isn't *his* movie, but he produced and crap... so go with me) didn't really have a lot of substance. It was mainly a bunch of dumb jokes with a bit of sentiment wrapped in there as well so you "feel good". So when I heard about this film, I was intrigued because it seemed to be something that might be of more weight, something that I can actually sink my teeth into and think about... sure, the trailers sucked, but you know... I can overlook that.

So the fact that the film has had me thinking all day must be a good sign in some respect. Unfortunately, while I wasn't actively bored or not enjoying myself, I'm not sure if I really liked what I saw.

Part of me wonders exactly how autobiographical this movie is. I think it's been made clear in interviews that Seth Rogen's character was modeled after Apatow and his struggle to break through, but I wonder if Adam Sandler's character isn't also somewhat modeled after him. Because the film makes quite clear... as Sandler (the mega movie star comic) takes Rogen (the struggling improv kid) under his wing that given the right circumstances Rogen will turn into the same self-absorbed person that Sandler had become. Which leads me to believe that at least Apatow finds himself somewhat becoming the character that Sandler plays and somewhat fearful of that outcome. Cause Sandler's character is one side of the spectrum--self-centered in an environment that needs you to be self-centered in order to survive fame and continue making people laugh, and Rogen's character is on the opposite end--self-deprecating yet ultimately very warm-hearted (yada yada).

I think the most interesting moments come when Rogen's character finds himself on the way to becoming like Sandler--cutting out his friend on a deal to write jokes for Sandler--but they seem to be pretty few and far between, because the second half seems to concentrate on the romance between Sandler and Leslie Mann--his former fling now married with kids. The rest of the movie seems to hint at the fact that Sandler--while still narcissistic--is showing rays of light that he might not be completely cold hearted yet. Then the film zeroes in on Sandler and Mann's relationship, and pretty much completely destroys that. Both Sandler and Mann seem completely conceited in their dalliance that they completely forget that they are about to DESTROY A FAMILY, and while I guess the film is smart enough to realize that it shouldn't be encouraging us to be cheering for them, it still grinds the film down to a halt.

Also, it has a lot of the really frustrating and contrived "meaningful" scenes. The one that bothers me is the scene where Rogen creates an iTunes playlist for Sandler in an effort to cheer him up. As the scene went on, I could pretty much count down what was going to be played... first song was going to be the one that Sandler doesn't like, second song is going to be a schlocky song for humorous effect, and then the third song is going to MEAN SOMETHING and speak to Sandler about how LONELY and SAD he is, promptly changing his life FOREVER and crap. What is this, Garden State?

I still somewhat enjoyed it though. I'm thinking a large part of that is because Rogen's character is stuck in a crappy job at the deli while dreaming of bigger and better things. Sort of like me, except... you know, the whole "the character actually *does* something about it" part, while I just sit around and expect that one day I'll rich for some reason or another without any effort whatsoever.

It's a good expectation to have, I think.

RATING:

Half birthdays

...are pretty cool.

I had mine yesterday. It wasn't actually something I actively celebrated, since I had to work from 2-9 and what not, but it's something that you have floating in your mind... you're dealing with a bunch of difficult people and then you think "hey, it's my half birthday, so the day is somewhat but not really in honor of me." Which makes you feel a little better, although not to the point where you are whining that you have to work on such a day.

I'm pretty sure I know no one else that celebrates their half birthday. I only do it because one year, I realized that a few days prior was my half birthday and I should at least recognize it when it would come next year. Then I'd forget the next year as well until a few days later, and then I'd make the same vow... rinse, repeat. I finally was able to note either last year or the year before that November 20th is my half-birthday on that exact date, and now I'm going to keep up with it. I'd say it's not too shabby of an idea either... casuse you get a day celebrating you without the baggage of being a year older. I mean, I'd guess you'd be a half year older and everything, but no one notes that you're *blank* and a half years after the age of 9, so it doesn't really matter.

Apparently there are other ways to calculate your half birthday other than taking your birthdate and making it six months later. But they're all stupid and are designed to include those born on a day like August 31st feel like they can get in on the half-birthday fun. But they really can't. Their half birthday is floating out in space somewhere, and they'll never be able to ever come into contact with it.

That's just the way it is.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Things I thought about today

So I just realized today that both Up and Star Trek feature scores from the same guy.

It's funny, because I thought both of them were pretty amazing and (especially in the case of Star Trek) made the viewing experience that much more exhilarating. Which lead to Google searching hoping to uncover some selections from each movie. Which wasn't really all that successful, because I was looking for the music that was playing in Star Trek right as baby Kirk was about to be born (right when all the other sounds promptly die off to make the scene much more epic and such) and got frustrated quickly thereafter, but still.

I always feel like I should invest more time into film soundtracks since they can pretty much make or break how I feel about a film. Perhaps it's just that I associate the music with images so closely that to listen to it without the accompanying images would be disappointing. Maybe it's because I don't really know which ones I really actually might like. I think I only have two soundtracks on my iTunes... that being A Clockwork Orange and 8 1/2... and the latter was especially disappointing, since I sought it out so I could hear one little piece only to discover that it wasn't on the disc.

(It's this by the way. In the scene where Guido fantasizes about his childhood... it's not necessarily awe-inspiring, but it's so damn melancholic. I also contribute about 34% of my appreciation of the film to it... )



Oh, and I forgot that I also own The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly soundtrack on vinyl.

Oh, and I fought laziness and encountered the piece from Star Trek. Just imagine a noisy intergalactic space battle--with all the sound suddenly fading out to make way for this. It's pretty cool. It's also the point where I realized that I might actually *like* the friggin' movie.



(I can't remember if I ever wrote about Star Trek, but three things really made me enjoy it despite never really caring much for the TV series: 1) the music, 2) its sense of humor, and 3) the lens flares. Apparently a lot of people didn't like the lens flares, which puzzles the crap out of me. Not only does it give the film its own visual flair, but it gives me more of a sense of a futuristic setting that the usual tricks don't usually do.)

I don't know where I was going with this, but this seems like a good place to stop.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I really like driving. I really do. There's something very relaxing about being in control of this large vehicle moving at fast speeds, while listening to something you like on the radio (which would be 89.3 The Current for me, even though I dislike half the stuff and the DJ with the weird accent annoys me--I could probably tell you his name if I listened to the station more than once a month (which is also the amount I drive in 3o days)).

Even better is when I have a vague idea of where I'm going, but really no clue how to get there. A lot of people think it's stressful, but it's kind of exciting to me. One time I was visiting a friend who was staying in the cities right after the 35W bridge collapsed, and the only way I knew how to get to his place was closed off due to 35W related shenanigans. It took me about an hour to get there... at one point I was a block or two away, but the road I was on didn't connect to his road, and then curved off in some weird direction. It took me about 15-20 minutes after that. It's actually fun. You just need to not be under the heavy burden of time, and then it becomes a little puzzle that can be somewhat challenging since city road layouts can be really stupid at times.

I don't own a car at the moment, mostly due to budget constraints and also because for a while I labored under the romantic ideal that life would be much more enjoyable and hassle free without one (wrong: just a lot cheaper). Maybe at some point I'll actually own one, but I'm guessing that since I'll be barely getting by for these next few months, that probably won't happen. Also, I sort of don't want to be oversaturated with nice cruises down the road, because inevitably my experiences will be ruined by you.

(You meaning "everyone else" here. I think it's a saying everyone thinks that they're the best at driving. If it isn't, then it's really weird cause I feel like I just read it a few days ago... anyway, I'm not confident enough to write that it's a saying without adding this long rambling footnote to it, at least.)

Certain things bother me. Like tailgating. I try not to let things bother me, and I try to like everyone I come across and everything, but tailgaters are my least favorite people on Earth. If I were to meet a person, and considered them a friend, then got into the car and found out that they were extreme tailgaters, I just might break off the friendship. Cause obviously, their driving tendencies must then mirror their own character traits, and so tailgaters must be selfish jackasses. That's just how it must be.

Perhaps if the concept of a personal bubble didn't exist, it wouldn't bother me to the extent that it does. But it annoys me when some guy willingly makes you uncomfortable just because you're going only a bit above the speed limit, just because he wants to get to Taco Bell 28 seconds quicker. I'm saying all this because I saw some tailgating while out on the road today... the worst example was some guy right on the tail of another--who was going 65 on a 55 mph road. Then the dude tried to pass the other guy in a no passing zone, right as they were about to reach the top of a hill as well.

It made me wish that the driver would get in a horrible accident that would either result in him losing his leg, or resulting in legal damages up the wazoo. Those aren't particularly good thoughts to have, I'm presuming, and although I don't think it has resulted in any poor driving decisions (such as... slamming on the brakes when someone is tailgating me) nor do I think it will, it's still sort of unsettling that I'm wishing bodily harm to someone. It makes me rethink the whole "dang, I should get a car" stance I've been taking the past few weeks.

For a while, at least. Then I walk 20+ minutes to get where I need to go every single day.

Which isn't terrible, but you know.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I'm at home. Which means that I'm usually constantly hanging out with my family and such, without really doing much in the way of anything else (thus my excuse for neglecting this little page).

One of the things we did was watch Up. I wrote about it, way back in May... let me see if I can find it... OK, I found it but what I wrote sort of sucks... let me just recap what I thought for you. 1) The first 20 or so minutes were amazing, should have been extended into perhaps 45-50 minutes, with the rest of the film focusing on the pursuit to get to Paradise Falls or something like that. 2) There were too many "cute" characters and at some point I wanted to stab myself.

That last part is a bit of an exaggeration, but whatever. Watching it again, I'm still sort of thinking the same things: the first 20 or so minutes are sublime, and that exhilarating moment where Carl takes to the sky should have had a little more build up to make it more rewarding... and the cute characters are still a little annoying.

Strangely enough, I enjoyed the second half a lot more this time around, probably due to the fact that my expectations were lessened and the fact that it was standard perilous adventure didn't really matter as long as it was executed nicely. Still, I can't help but feeling that the first 20 minutes were so amazing that the fact it went into standard perilous adventure means that there was a large opportunity wasted.

OK, so the first 20 minutes is this: Carl and Elle meet, fall in love, spend the rest of their life together, dream of going to Paradise Falls, have life get in the way of that dream, and then Elle passes on. Carl is still around, cranky, and the world has moved by him as the rest of his neighborhood is being developed into commercial and business properties. The word I'm thinking of is bittersweet, never actually realizing the dreams you have but enjoying life nonetheless, and then when the world gets to be too much for you, you escape.

I really like the whole "guys in black suits trying to buy Carl's property" storyline, because it does nicely contrast with the fairytale-like romance that was his marriage and it gives a lot of weight to that desire for escape. The only problem is that it lasts for about 5 minutes before Carl goes up with his house in balloons. Which is OK, but you could have devoted so much more time to it that it pains me to think about it. I mean, I guess maybe they didn't want to hit people over the head with the fact that he seems to no longer fit in this society, but focusing more attention on how he's now out-of-place, how mundane and routine life has become for him and society, etc. would make the whole escape-by-balloon not seem as much as the doings of a crazy old man, but a much needed necessity. It isn't exactly given enough time to seem like a necessity.

After that, all the adventure and peril is OK and such, because it would then be apparent that it's a reaction against the monotony of life and a guy living out his dream and all that crap. But since the first 20 or so minutes was just 20 or so minutes, it comes off as just routine adventure... well done adventure, but adventure with lesser weight.

So maybe I don't exactly *love* the first twenty or so minutes, but I like the idea behind it, you know?

(Unrelated note: so apparently someone decided that they should send as little copies of Up as possible to local rental stores as to persuade more people into buying copies of the movie, a.k.a. more profit for Disney. It kind of sucks, because then everyone asks if we have copies, and I feel bad for not having any copies that my response is "uhh, we have copies for sale?" Then Ifeel guilty for contributing even more money into Disney.)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bruno

This is coming out to DVD this next week. So I got an advance copy of it to watch. Quick thoughts.

-It's probably the dirtiest R rated film I could possibly think of.

-It's funny at parts, but it's really not as funny as it thinks it is. And obviously, it's trying to do the same thing as Borat and try to reveal underlying hatred. But the problem is that everything is painted in LARGE brush strokes. Bruno is pretty much made to be a huge stereotype, and so the ones who actually react with hatred are just as large stereotypes. Cause, you know... rednecks are easy targets. Cool. Let's go for them instead of going after anyone difficult.

And the problem is that the movie tries to provoke so many uncomfortable moments that it sometimes doesn't boil down to homophobia or anything like that, but rather just down to how people can deal with extremely uncomfortable situations. I'm thinking of the hotel scene mainly, where some guy gets called in and--well, I really don't know how to describe it. It's not that the dude seems to be homophobic or anything, it's just that the scene is so bizarre, that no matter what people's opinions are some people would not be comfortable with it. What I'm trying to say is that I think the film fails in getting any sort of point across effectively. I haven't seen Borat since it was released in 2006, but I at least remember there being scenes in which people's discomfort in a foreigner were revealed in interesting ways. This doesn't really have that.

The scenes focusing in on the culture of celebrity (and its vapid nature) work a little better for me, but unfortunately it also tries way too hard for humor. There's a scene in which Bruno is about to interview Paula Abdul, and they don't have any furniture, so they recruit some Mexican workers to act as furniture. Not only does Paula go along with it, but then the first question discussed is about Paula's charity work and how she likes to help people (you know, as she's sitting on the back of this poor immigrant). It's wonderfully absurd, but then the scene is ruined by bringing in a guy fashioned as a food plate in an obvious attempt for shock value.

So basically, I don't know what the heck the point of it all is.

RATING:

Something

OK, so last time I detailed that I was going to do some football picks, because I was fashioning myself as a huge expert, which is pretty much me blowing smoke left and right.

And there was a game last Thursday, so I made a quick prediction before I went on with my predictions for tomorrow's games, and lo and behold... I was right. I predicted the 49ers by 4... and whaddaya know, they won by 4.

This means either two things:

1) Complete luck.
2) I AM A BRILLIANT GURU IN ALL THINGS *INCLUDING* FOOTBALL.

I wouldn't blame you for leaning towards number 2.

I'm going to first do the games I care about.

Vikings vs. Lions
-This one might be closer than people think. The Lions are a division rival, jumped out to a 10-0 lead earlier in the game before losing big... and last year, their game against us was the closest they were to winning (losing by a stupid safety by their QB). Vikings still win, cause they have all the talent, but it's close for a while before the Vikings put it away.
Vikings by 17.

Cowboys vs. Packers
OK. This is hard. 1) The Cowboys don't really *need* this game, and the Packers do. 2) I don't think the Packers are a bad team... just not a very good one. 3) Cowboys have had two tough losses to two good teams (at least at the time), so they can definitely keep up with anyone. Since the Packers seem less than clutch at crunch time, Cowboys by 3. Although I sort of want to say the Packers just to hope it causes a reverse jinx.

Bengals vs. Steelers
Steelers are playing pretty dang good right now. The Bengals are as well, but they lack the experience in tough games like the Steelers do. Or something like that. Sounds like something an expert would say... I don't actually know if the Steelers players lead the Bengals players in "total tough games played." But what I mean is that the Steelers won the Super Bowl last year, so they're probably better. Steelers by 14.

Patriots vs. Colts
So, due to Manning's crazy goodness, plus due to the fact that they probably have had this game on their radar for a while now... they win by 12. And then lose next week to Baltimore. Cause they'll get a big head after this game, you see. Or something to that effect.

Games I don't really care about:

Bills vs. Titans: Titans by 17.
Saints vs. Rams: Saints by 26.
Bucs vs. Dolphins: Dolphins by 15.
Jaguars vs. Jets: Jaguars by 6.
Broncos vs. Redskins: Broncos by 10.
Falcons vs. Panthers: Falcons by 7.
Chiefs vs. Raiders: Chiefs by 4.
Seahawks vs. Cardinals: Cardinals by 21.
Eagles vs. Chargers: Chargers by 13.
Ravens vs. Browns: Ravens by 14.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Complaint.

I hate Kay Jewelers commercials.

I am going to assume that pretty much everyone hates them, but they take on a special kind of hatred for me, since they constantly infiltrate the airwaves during the holiday season with their message of "nothing says 'I love you' (or 'Merry Christmas') like a HUGE, F***ING EXPENSIVE DIAMOND."

I guess you could replace diamond with any type of possession and you'd get your typical "it's the gift of giving!" holiday commercial, but I guess the that Kay uses such a mawkish taste that it irks me even worse than your typical ad.

Anyway, I saw the Kay ad with the deaf lady. It's kind of cool that someone out there is using a deaf person in a marketing campaign, but then again... the fact that it's Kay Jewelers ruins deaf people for me.

Not really, but still.

Boring football post.

So after weeks and weeks of me touting how great of a prognosticator I've been after games have already come to pass, I figured that I would try to make my predictions known to people before the games are actually played.

Since there's a game tonight apparently, I'm going to quickly write something about this game, and pretend to actually know what I'm talking about. When I try to predict the rest of the games later, I won't write as much, but that's probably for the better cause I really know nothing.

Bears at 49ers.

-The game's probably going to suck.

-Neither team is all that good, but the 49ers have been competitive against stronger opponents (Vikings, Colts, Texans), while the Bears have gotten blown out by the Bengals and Cardinals. Also, the game that the Bears beat a good team... they should have lost (Steelers) while the 49ers lost a game they should have won (Vikings).

-I was really glad the Vikings didn't get Cutler like a lot of people were expecting over the offseason. I mean, I was sort of hoping we'd get him, because we have crap else... but really, I was relieved to not get him. That collapse down the stretch last year... pretty ugly.

-All of this to say that I'm taking the 49ers. By 4, let's say. Also, I want the 49ers to win, which has bearing on my prognostications, usually.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sad news to report:

Not sad news for me per se, but sad news in general.

FOX canceled a show called Dollhouse today.

Normally I wouldn't care about this because... I've never seen the show, and the only foray into televised sci-fi has probably been Space Ghost: Coast To Coast (if we broaden our definition of sci-fi to its loosest form possible), but I am posting this now because I want to extend my deep sympathies to the random guy on the street we ran into on Sunday.

So Sara and I were at this one event put on by this German group whose name I'm forgetting. And as we were about to head home, we were approached by this guy with a clipboard. Now, in my experience guy approaching you with something on the street = he wants your money. It actually happened earlier in the day when some guy wanted to do a portrait of us for $5 (which I refused... because I had little use of a portrait of myself.)

But this guy? He just wanted us to sign a petition to save Dollhouse.

It was at the same time refreshing and yet kind of weird. I mean, in a period in which the internet is pretty much taking over the world, replacing the traditional forms of media to create this one superpower... it's kind of cool to see a material petition in someone's actual hands, instead of the now more ubiquitous online form.

At the same time... isn't it a lot more effective to go online anyway for this type of petition? I'm assuming that-unless there's an extraordinary amount of German-American fans of the show-there's not going to be a whole lot of people that really care or have heard about the show. And I'd imagine that going to the streets for a petition would be for a cause that's actually relevant and topical, but this was for a TV show. Again, it was cool, but weird.

But hey, all the power to the guy. It was kind of funny, as the petition dude seemed to be a little on the geeky side, and then he did the stereotypical "drop the papers you're holding" thing to pretty much confirm it. But still, he was going out to the people fighting to save the show that I am assuming he loved. And I hope he isn't taking this news too hard, even if it was inevitable like the article says.

Hopefully this news won't discourage him either. Keep on fighting the good fight, good sir.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A list of things I'm not doing

I'm in the midst of a 5-day break from work.

Things I *could* be doing:

-Watching all the stuff I've been meaning to watch for a while.
-Catch up with people that I haven't talked to in weeks/months.
-Writing. Either something for here, or I could continue with the screenplay that I actually started (!!!). Not that I'll ever finish it (because... you know, I have little drive and self esteem), but right now I've got 3+ pages... perhaps more if I were to format it like an actual screenplay. So that's kind of cool. I could be working on that.
-Cashing in my check, which would make me feel less broke.
-Returning the DVD I need to bring back to the library, because it needs to go back before Thursday.
-Etc.

What I have instead been doing with all my free time:

-Playing online poker.
-And not even poker for money, so it's even more pointless (although less of a strain on my wallet... even though I've been playing well as of late... although that's probably because people who actually play for money might actually be somewhat good.)
-(Except that I lost the last game I played, ruining all the good will I had going on there. Although it was because Sara called me and we made plans to go to Cub and such... so it wasn't the worst thing in the world.)
-(I guess it's good that I've got something to do now, though...)
-(So I went to CNN and saw that cells phones are slowly killing people, and then Sara called... and I tried to hold the phone as far away from me as possible. And now, after looking at the symptoms online... I now believe I have a brain tumor.)
-(Which means that when I get the swine flu, it's going to battle with the brain tumor in a race to see what can kill me first.)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Obligatory football post

Why is it that the one Sunday that I don't work is the one in which the Vikings don't play?

Still a good week for the Vikings, though. Not a surprising one though... honestly. Arizona can be spotty, but they're overall a MUCH more solid football team than the Bears, who don't impress me AT ALL. And I was kind of feeling the Bucs upset over the Packers, since the Bucs had nothing to lose and I'm still not convinced the Packers can come through under pressure.

I'm pretty good at revealing my predictions after they've already come true.

Review: Tyson

I'm glad this movie exists.

I think it's the natural inclination for a lot of us to see a person on television represented as a bit off naturally assume that they are quite crazy. And of course this isn't the case. And actually, I didn't need this documentary to tell me that Mike Tyson wasn't just a monster. Back in the early part of the decade, I was watching Jimmy Kimmel and it had Mike Tyson as a "guest host" for the week. And there was this bit in which they showed Mike Tyson with a bunch of pigeons. It wasn't a comedy bit, it wasn't meant to be ironic or anything... it was just a piece showing how much Tyson cared for these pigeons. That there was when the illusion of the "baddest man on the planet" disappeared.

Of course, the fact that Tyson participated in one of the most brutal sports possible doesn't help his perception, meaning the fact that he has been convicted of rape and bitten off a man's ear supplements his boxing persona as a ruthless bloodseeker. So what this film does is just give Tyson the floor, letting him tell his side of the story... which might easily seem like a fluff piece where the person does nothing but defend every single one of his actions, resulting in a boring, one sided story.

Thankfully, Tyson is honest enough to tell his story through the eyes of someone who is much older and much more mature, so he spares us little in detailing his own faults and misgivings. I mean, I don't know if he's telling the *whole* truth, but when he paints himself in unflattering lights on certain stories, you lend credence to the entire story.

And in the process, this dude who once declared that he was going to eat Lennox Lewis' children becomes much more human and--dare I say it--more identifiable. For example, the ear biting incident: sure, it was a terrible and unfortunate incident, and Tyson says this himself in admitting that he let his anger get the best of him. But this is what unfolded in my eyes--Tyson is trained to be animal-like in the ring. Holyfield uses dirty headbutts to get advantage in first fight. Uses dirty headbutts to get advantage in second fight. I would be pretty pissed in that situation, and if I were going to retaliate in some way, I'd guess I'd go for some part of the head.

Again, it doesn't excuse the actions, but everyone has moments in which they are pushed to the limit and let their demons come out. And Tyson isn't any different, only his demons came out in the spotlight as one of the biggest sports figures in the world.

(Some points off for random interludes where the director has Tyson reciting poems by the beach. I think these sections were inserted to alleviate the director's guilt that most of the film was just Tyson talking about himself the entire time.)

RATING:

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Review: Flaming Lips--Embryonic

I thought the fact that I couldn't sit down and listen to this was my fault. I thought--like I always do--that I am the one to blame for all failures in relationships, and that this was no different and I refused to return to it because I am a BAD consumer of music.

However, I have come to realize something different.

This was a liberating moment for me, and ever since then I have been seeing things a bit differently. The sun is a bit shinier, the leaves are a bit crisper, the Vikings are a more viable Super Bowl contender... you name it. Things feel so much better for me.

So I am going to just say what has been floating around in my mind for a good while now, and that is this: Flaming Lips... you've got to meet me halfway here and be a *little* bit more engaging.

Now, I love the Flaming Lips (or... I love Transmissions From The Satellite Heart and Clouds Taste Metallic), and I was greatly pleased to see that they were moving away from the more precious sounds of The Soft Yoshimi Battles With The Mystics. And Embryonic is a decent album. I might even say it's a good album, honestly. But there's a bit of a problem with it that makes me think this is just a half-step in the right direction.

It kind of drags.

Perhaps this is due to the 70 minute nature of the beast, which almost always assures there are lows to go along with the highs. However I think the main problem is that it's just not as exciting and engaging as it could be. Sure, they've got a cool 60s-70s psychedelic atmosphere here. But it only *seems* to be dark and foreboding... I can't taste it.

"Convinced Of The Hex" is a bad choice to start off the album, since it plods along in an ugly manner, which ends up being the main impressions derived from the album. Slow, plodding, kind of ugly... which is OK and all, as long as you have counterbalance that with some more up-tempo numbers to keep a bit of interest. Unfortunately, that department is lacking a bit too much for my tastes.

There are some great songs here, though. "The Ego's Last Stand" is the cream of the crop, with the bass line menacingly forewarning an impending escalation in chaos. Everyone starts playing mid-song, and it's a treat--it seems as if it's the first time where the general atmosphere leads somewhere. It's quite delectably evil--and *exciting* too. I'm not sure if my appreciation for the track is due to the fact that the preceding songs seemed so middle-of-the-road, but nonetheless it's one of the best Lips songs since Clouds Taste Metallic.

"Sagittarius Silver Announcement" is another "generally middling and atmospheric" song, but the vocals sound as if they were sung by a 40's horror film villain, and it's really dark and cool. And honestly, the second half is a lot more fun to listen to (yet still remaining dark) and avoids the whole "sound like everything else" plague on the first half, which raises the album's effectiveness. But man, that first half is such a slog to get through that's it's sometimes hard to get to the rewarding part, you know?

Oh, and "Watching The Planets" is probably the best rock song they've made in 10+ years as well.

RATING:

Friday, November 6, 2009

Random thoughts version 2.0

-I keep meaning to post little old reviews of albums that I've been listening to the past month or so, but I NEVER get around to it.

I blame this on the Flaming Lips. I've been wanting to write about them first, and then I sit down to listen to the album again so I can properly write about it, but then I start listening to something else. Every single time. It means that I get a whole lot of nothing done.

Like, I could be listening to it now, and then power it out late tonight after work, but instead I'm listening to this:



Isn't this awesome? First it's catchy as hell, and a little bit of ridiculous. Adding to the ridiculous factor is the lead singer wears this ridiculous sweater/scarf combo while indulging in terribly awkward motions that sort of look like an attempt at dancing. BUT THE KEYBOARDIST IS AMAZING. At first he seems kind of annoyed to be there, with a little bit of playing along to the camera, but then it just looks like he's PISSED OFF. I like to imagine that he was annoyed with the lead singer at some point for being an embarrassment, harboring secret desires to strangle him right around the time he grits his teeth. This hatred theory might be helped by the fact that they're brothers, too.

Anyway, the point is... I'm easily distracted.

-Another cool thing I like: Julian Casablancas covering "I Wish It Was Christmas Today."

A) I do have a soft post for Strokes-related stuff. I think a lot of what turned people off was the hipper-than-thou vibe they gave off, but the problem with that for me was that they executed simple and good rock music too well. Their first album just has plain quality songwriting... and the whole buzz around them as the "saviors of rock and roll" was simply some overeager folks excited that something simple like that could sound fresh and exciting again.

B) I also have a soft spot for early 2000's SNL, which is where the cover originates from. It was pretty much all stupid, and people like Horatio Sanz, Jimmy Fallon, etc are probably derided more than actually enjoyed... I grew up watching them, so they get a pass in my book, you know?

C) Also this cover is pretty much awesome. And makes me want to 1) review every single Christmas item that I may or may not have, and 2) listen to the dude's solo album a little more closely, perhaps.

-Also, I need to listen to Bob Dylan's Christmas album. I'm pretty sure it is awesome. Any ill will towards it must be because parents generally hate their kids.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

For the record... again:

The Yankees can go to hell.

Right now, if at all possible.

Bringing Out The Dead (1999)

This one is a bit more difficult to review, since I really don't know what to think about it.

It's in the same vein as Taxi Driver, The King Of Comedy... dark, psychological dramas with very flawed protagonists in the spotlight. This here involves Nicolas Cage as an ambulance driver, who has had a string of bad luck as he has been unable to save any lives. The rest of the film pretty much explores the impact that watching people die must have on a person, as Cage grows all the more insane living in a New York that can seemingly swallow anyone at any given moment.

Which makes Cage's relationship with one of his patients really quite intriguing. After bringing someone who was for all intents and purposes dead back to "life" (one that requires a constant use of the defibrillator to keep him normal), Cage begins to wonder if he did the right thing in bringing this guy back to a world that is constantly wrapped in pain and misery.

There's a LOT of humor as well, especially the scenes with Ving Rhames as the wise-cracking, Bible preaching partner of Cage's... but the problem is that it didn't really seem to gel with the more psychological elements of the script. I really don't know how to describe it. It was an absurd humor that I sort of wanted to see a lot more of, yet would have made the film a lot less compelling. Probably the most humorous of his since The King Of Comedy, but the humor in that was so dark that it fit. Here... not so sure.

I'm assuming I'll watch it again at some point. I don't hate it, I don't love it, I'm intrigued but not fascinated, etc. etc.

RATING:

Reviews!

Going through a bunch of Scorsese flicks... you haven't seen any of these, I'm presuming, but this is for my own personal enjoyment, so the hell with you. This is one of two that I might do tonight. The other is Bringing Out The Dead... I might talk about Casino as well.

My Voyage To Italy

The point of this documentary is that Scorsese likes Italian Neorealism, and so he decided to make a movie about these movies in the hope that he would then get you to see these movies. Which is cool and all, I suppose, and I guess it has piqued my interest in post-war Italian films. But it's not really interesting as a movie, you know?

At first, Scorsese spends some time talking about his family and how they used to watch these movies on a TV channel broadcasting out of New York (heavily populated with immigrated Italians, of course), and how the films would remind them of the home that they once left. This is the part that works the best, because it is Scorsese not only talking about the films themselves but how they related to his life and culture. But then it becomes more about the films and how they influenced Scorsese as a director, which I suppose is the natural progression that it is bound to take, but it becomes then more of a film history lesson rather than a documentary.

At some point, I stopped caring about what Scorsese said about the films I haven't seen and rather what he said about the ones I have seen (which means--pretty much I was interested in the Fellini segments). Is that a good thing? I don't know. I also don't know if it actually made me really all that more interested in seeing these films, since I pretty much got the condensed versions of them right here.

It's interesting at times, and I enjoyed seeing the insights into the films that I had seen (although I was disappointed he glanced over La Strada and Nights of Cabiria, but oh well), but it's four hours long.

RATING:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I was going to write about the Flaming Lips, but then I saw this:

Weezer would probably be my favorite band right now if I were to base that purely on a complete lack of self-awareness, disregarding the music all together. I mean, there's no reason that a performance with Kenny G and a band-inspired Snuggie would be considered anything but stupid and in bad taste.

But if Weezer does it? The band who made the "acclaimed" self titled blue album and Pinkerton? The band who pissed off its entire fanbase by deciding to make sub-par top-40 friendly albums? Well then, it just suddenly makes it awesome.

I'm probably going to listen to their new album soon... I'll probably dislike it, but you know what? I don't care. I got over the fact that most of their albums suck sometime after Make Believe and have enjoyed them for their gut-busting stupidity since then. It's kind of like enjoying a really bad movie for me, except if the director had made movies you really liked and THEN decided to blow his talent just for the hell of it.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Of course, I didn't watch the game...

but if I did, here's what I'd be saying:

-The game played out pretty much just like I expected it to. I was pretty much expecting... well, I was actually kind of envisioning a game from 2000 (I believe... during the Vikings' run to the NFC championship game), where there's a lot of points, Favre keeps his team ahead with the other team pecking away but just not enough, finishing the game with a 10 point win. Which is what happened. Of course, it's easy for me to say this now, and of course I was also somewhat expecting the Packers to win 38-10, but between that result and the result we got, that's all I was expecting. So that's sort of cool, right?

-I probably would have punched a hole through the TV screen if I had to watch a 24-3 lead erode. Not that I'm surprised that the Packers put up more of a fight, but after that Ravens game any double digit lead that evaporates triggers an impulse to kidnap Brad Childress and replace him with a robotic lookalike (which I would assume would know how to manage a game better).

-For now, the Vikings are the 2nd best team in the NFC. The Saints are the clear cut favorites for the Super Bowl, and there's no way the Vikings are going to get through them. Around playoff time I'm assuming the Eagles will assume the position of 2nd best, and we'll get knocked out by them (or the Giants... although they've looked bad the past three weeks). We look to be in good shape *now*-- but we have been lucky and should be 5-3. So yeah.

-Mainly, I'm just glad the Packers didn't win. I live near a few Packer fans, who are good people and everything (aside from being Packer fans), but I don't think I would have been able to live with them after a Packer win, cause I'm assuming they would have been talking about how great their chances are at making the Super Bowl and how they match up against the Saints and Colts and crap.

Which would have been stupid. Cause the Packers aren't that good.

I say this admitting that I wouldn't put the Vikings much higher up than them, and that the Bears look even worse. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that the NFC North really isn't all that good. They've all benefitted from playing the Lions, the Rams and the Browns. Perhaps the three worst teams in the league.

Graaaaaaaaaaaaaah

Wanna know what's the worst?

Biggest game for the Vikings this afternoon... against the Packers. My official prediction is that we're going to win by 7-10 points due to eventual deflation by the Packer fans and players after being hyped for the game for so long.................... or the Packers jump out to a 14-0 lead and win 38-10.

Another prediction is that tonight will suck, because I work from 2-8, right when the game is on.

I'll have my brother texting me scores from the game, but the problem is is that my boss doesn't like people having their phones with them, so I will have to SECRETLY check the scores. And if she sees me with the phone... won't know who won till after 8 then.

Awesome, huh?

Also, I'm annoyed that they decided to schedule me to work EVERY SINGLE WEEKEND TILL THE END OF TIME, but that is another matter.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A quick one

I haven't been able to write, since I've been working all the time and that pretty much kills all inspiration to write.

I also don't have anything to say... since I've been working all the time and that pretty much kills any interest I might derive in anything.

So I am just going to say that this review of the new Boondock Saints sequel makes me really, really happy. Mainly because it equates its cult to Scientology. It's funny, you see. Cause Boondock Saints sucks... and Scientology is not really well liked and such.

Yeah.

Also, I hate the Yankees.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Random thoughts:

-So... I was watching Army Of Darkness last night. It was my first time ever seeing it, actually. I fell asleep halfway through it because my brothers and I started it late, but man... I can't imagine any male watching the film and thinking that Ash is not the biggest badass ever filmed on screen. It's not that he's particularly strong or fearless... I mean, part of the coolness factor is that he wields around a gun in a medieval period... but he has pretty much some of the best one-liners in the world. Everyone would wish to sound as cool rattling off lines like he does.

So yeah. It was enjoyable. One problem was that there was a scene in which I was pretty sure a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle made a cameo appearance, but I went straight to the internet only to find out it was just a dude in a costume with a helmet sort of reptilian. That really sucked.

-I don't know if I wrote it down here or if I just told someone this, but I said that I wouldn't watch a World Series with the Yankees in it. Mainly this was due to the fact that I wouldn't be able to bear with the way the media would portray it--"redemption at last"... "nine years of struggle finally over"--you know, things you would never say about THE MOST EVIL AND UNLIKABLE TEAM OF ALL TIME.

Well, I might break my little World Series embargo if the Phillies do as well as they did last night. You know how sweet it would be to see the Phillies close the series out in Game 4 or 5, watching the Yankees flame out in misery as this beautiful postseason run suddenly turns grey? It would be sweet, I'm telling you.

Of course, if MLB has any say, I'd imagine that they'd try to extend the series as much as possible. You know, like how they wanted the Yankees to win game 2 against the Twins, so they called the obviously fair Mauer double foul?

*grumble*

-My "leagues are trying to fix games" conspiracy meter is way high, though, because I just got done reading this article on excerpts from NBA referee fixer Tim Donaghy's upcoming book (which apparently is also cancelled because the NBA doesn't like to be accused of manipulating games, for some reason).

Now, my second reaction to this is that I should be upset with how a league is pretty much fixing a sport against the wishes of all its fans. Because it is a little sketchy, and I'm still bitter about some certain calls in a Game 4 between the Lakers and the Wolves in 2004 that seemed obviously slanted towards the Lakers. But my first reaction is this: "holy f***ing balls, this is awesome."

I wrote a few weeks ago about how I still derive enjoyment out of pro wrestling. Well... this is sort of the same thing. There's a lot of angles in wrestling where the popular guy gets "screwed" by the evil boss in an important match, and they're always sort of silly, yet sort of entertaining. AND THIS IS THE REAL LIFE COUNTERPART. Sure, seeing the Lakers favored in EVERY SERIES undoubtedly sucks, but I'm going to rest easy knowing there's an evil corporation behind all of it, rather than a few refs unwittingly giving calls to the Lakers.

-While I'm on the topic of sports... Timberwolves! 1 and 0! 81 more games until we post the first undefeated regular season in NBA history!

(OK, so I try not to be a huge sports person, but in my lifetime various sports teams/figures have captured my love. Peterson/Vikings have my love right now, but at other times I've loved Santana and the 04-06 Twins, the crapload of players called up for the Twins in 99 till 2003, Moss and the Vikings 98-01, and definitely Garnett and the Wolves from 95-05. They've sucked the last few years, but I always have a soft spot for the T'Wolves. And I think we're actually going to surprise a bit this year, since we have general competence in our leaders while maintaining about the same amount of talent. But we'll see.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"Workin' in a supermarket just like a mule"

In the spirit of the fact that "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" is on tonight, and since everyone is going to be watching it (or at least they should all be watching it), I am going to do another Peanuts-centric post. Then maybe another one once "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" is done. That post will probably look like "that was great... why didn't you watch it?" And then I'll cry.

Here are some reviews of some Peanuts episodes I've seen in the past few days, with links that'll allow you to watch them! Cool, huh? Well... sort of. The one that I used to watch the second one isn't working anymore, but I posted the link to it anyway.

Charlie Brown's All Stars

This episode is actually the 2nd Peanuts one ever made, right after "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and right before "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." It's also a pretty cruel episode, based around the fact that Charlie Brown's team hates him and how terrible he is at baseball. In all honesty, though... the game they show where they lose by 100+ seems to indicate that he just has crappy defense, rather than himself being amazingly incompetent. I mean, it looked apparent that he was a fly ball pitcher (at least for that day), and Lucy and Freida--while playing the outfield--aren't really even trying.

PLUS, when there's a pop up in between centerfield and short, where Linus and Lucy are ranging, they expect Charlie Brown--ALL THE WAY FROM THE PITCHER'S MOUND--to catch the f'n ball. Of course he drops it, you morons. If a dude is expected to be Superman and do crap he shouldn't be doing, he's going to end up failing. Thus it makes sense that Charlie Brown would try to steal home with their best batter coming up later on in the episode... if his mode of thinking is such that he perceives that everyone thinks he must win the game for the team, of course he's going to try to steal home. I'm trying to think of a real-life sports equivalent to this, but it'd be sort of like a basketball player trying to do everything because the rest of his team doesn't give a crap. Something like that.

Objectively, this probably isn't the best episode, since it does paint the ladies as relentlessly cruel (especially in comparison to the guys, who are equally as cruel in this episode--although in the comic strip they are much more friendly so it makes sense, I suppose), but it's got the sentimental value going for it, along with the cool jazz soundtrack. I think Vince Guaraldi increases my appreciation of the specials much greater than any other soundtrack might, and it always gets me to the point where I decide that I'm going to try to listen to more jazz. It never works out. But the moments in which I'm digging the laid back score from this are always nice.

There's No Time For Love, Charlie Brown

This one was my favorite growing up... and still might be as well. This is the one that we had a VHS copy of, and while we had a videotaped copy of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (and eventually... once Nickelodeon started showing Peanuts reruns, we had most of them... this wasn't for a while, though), you could only watch that one or two months out of the year. This you could watch whenever.

It's got kind of a loose plot, based around school and Charlie Brown's anxieties over a paper he has to write, along with a subplot about his relationship with Peppermint Patty. However, it's the scene where they go into the supermarket thinking that it is the art museum that wins me over. I mean, I was like six or so when I first watched this. And seeing the possibility of getting a good grade by writing a report on your trip to the art museum when you mistakenly went to the grocery store... well, it BLEW MY MIND. It introduced me to the world of BS, where you don't actually need to know what you're saying, but rather you just need to say it in an interesting way.

Could it be that this little special (which was produced in 1973 right before "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving", if I remember correctly) made me who I am today? I am going to say most definitely. Even though it's probably not true at all.

And in case you REALLY want to watch this episode... you can watch the first half in Japanese on YouTube.



It's not that hard to figure out what's going on.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

SO

This isn't about the Vikings game, because I didn't watch the last two hours of it due to work. Which is probably a good thing, since it sounded like an absolutely terrible one where I would have tried to punch the TV screen after seeing Childress not go for the touchdown to make it 14-13.

This is about HOT FANTASY TIPS, where you get THE INSIDE SCOOP on games next week. These are EXCLUSIVE and SURE TO HELP YOUR FANTASY TEAM win.

Here's my update: Percy Harvin returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Last time he did that was against the 49ers. The connection between those two games is that I worked both days, conflicting with the game.

I have to work next week when the Vikings play the Packers.

Thus, Percy Harvin is probably going to return a kick for a touchdown next week.

So yeah. That's my tip.

I'm not actually a big fan of fantasy football. I was invited to a few leagues back in August, and made a big deal about fantasy football "ruins the game" and makes you cheer for the player and not the jersey. Which I think is all legit, because I'd rather have teams that I like win/teams that I hate lose + mass chaos elsewhere, rather than following Tom Brady and hoping he throws the TD to Moss since you've got both on your team. I really did have a distaste for it. I didn't play it for 5 years.

After making all that big fuss, though... I decided to sign up for a team on Yahoo just to see if I still hated it.

Being the only unbeaten team in your league sometimes makes things a bit more fun.

I have the chance to go 7-0 right now, and I'm currently winning... all I need is for one guy not to go completely crazy, and perhaps pick up a few more points from my two players playing right now/my tight end playing tomorrow. So it's actually kind of cool now, and I sort of see it just as a silly little strategy game that takes a bit of competence and a bit more luck to do well at. And it makes Sundays a bit more interesting.

If... you know, your whole life revolves around it, then that's a bit pathetic, but hey. You have your hobbies, and I have mine, I suppose.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

One day it'll be revealed that playing football damages your brain terribly.



So I've never EVER played football outside of some pick up games. And even I know that on a blocked kick, the ball is still live until it crosses the line of scrimmage. Kind of an obscure rule, but you know... if you've watch football for any prolonged period of time, you should have stumbled upon the rule.

Also, NO ONE ON THE FIELD REALIZED THIS WAS STILL LIVE, until a manic coach got the attention of the player. Also also, I'm not sure about this, but I think this is college ball.

Maybe the entire team had a collective head-on collision that left them weary the entire game...

Review: Jimmy John's Day Old Bread


The best.

Story: so I had a late lunch this afternoon, which is OK because I woke up late and everything. I was planning to go to work without any food, and I would eat during my break whatever I could find there. Only tonight was swamped. And when my break cam around, the line was so long that if I were to get anything it would have lasted the entire duration of my break. SO. I went hungry.

After work, though... I ran off to my favorite Jimmy John's in the world. Not that this Jimmy John's is better or different than any other Jimmy John's out there. The only thing is that I came in once near closing hours, and I got a loaf of bread and a soft drink for free. It was cool.

Anyway, tonight I bought TWO loaves of day old bread, and a soda, all for about $2.50. I was feeling kind of extravagant afterwards. So much so that I ignored the weird guy standing outside who may/may not have been homeless and may/may not have been wanting to ask me for stuff. I was feeling too good and selfish and such. Also, the guy seemed amazingly spaced out, so I was assuming any contact with him would lead him to follow me all the way home.

The loaves of bread are about $0.50 a piece. The bread is probably the best thing about Jimmy John's. All their sandwiches features a way too liberal amount of mayo, and mayo's not my favorite. I used to pretend to be a good consumer and actually buy an actual lunch, so I'd buy a Roast Beef Slim, which is just roast beef and bread... along with my purchase of the day old loaf. But no longer. Now I'm near broke, and I'm just going to get the bread.

And they are about 500 calories (according to a calorie website that I assume is legit and what not), so I can totally keep my slender frame and all that crap. So essentially there is no wrong with this bread. Perhaps all these years you have been looking for perfection, and you just never thought to look at Jimmy John's. Well, now that you have learned your mistakes, you must go, my boy. Jimmy John's longs for you.




(Note: Jimmy John's bread isn't THAT great. But it tastes pretty good, and it tastes pretty amazing when all you've had is a can of ravioli for lunch.)

For f***s sake...

So when I go in to type the title of the post, you're supposed to just type. And not do any fancy stuff. Like hit enter.

I accidentally hit enter, and then it decided to post the entire thing... sans any content, but instead just the title. It was kind of stupid on my part, but NO MATTER! Cause I wouldn't happen again.

I made a quick edit so there wouldn't just be a title with no content, and then began to write again. But then I had to type in the title again. So I did. And of course, I remembered that I am not supposed to hit enter while typing the title, because of course I'd have to be stupid to make that same mistake again.

But intelligence is such an overrated quality anyway, so I just went ahead and hit enter again. Yeah! Totally showed everyone there... or something...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Playing Abbey Road

Apparently, the album Abbey Road was released for download on The Beatles: Rock Band. It was released two days ago, to be exact. I felt like I should have heard about it so I could get myself either properly excited or talk myself out of buying, but I didn't. I felt terrible for my ignorance, and I apologized to my copy of Beatles: Rock Band for my neglect.

To alleviate my guilt I decided to buy the album. Which worked, as I no longer felt like a ignorant consumer, and instead made me feel like a really stupid consumer. Cause I've never ever felt the need to pretend play "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" with a plastic video game controller shaped like a guitar. Then again, I had leftover Microsoft Points, and spending fake money is better than spending actual money... so there you go.

I gave the entire album a quick run through with my guitar. The first half was kind of stilted by the fact that most of the songs that had already been on the game were located there. But that medley at the end? Yeah, that's pretty awesome.

It actually kind of reinforced the idea that I've always shared about the album: that it's a tired and weary effort by a bunch of guys who have grown to dislike each other, somewhat saved by some great songwriting that shines through periodically, and then redeemed by a medley that inexplicably works. Really, if "Golden Slumbers" was developed any longer into a "fuller" song, but combined with "Carry That Weight" it just gels together perfectly. It was their one last great bit of inspiration, and one that gives off a similar vibe to the more optimistic Rubber Soul era, even if a bit more weathered.

Also, it took me until now, but I never considered "You Never Give Me Your Money" part of the medley, since it was such an awesome and fully developed song and everything. But then I realized how much of "Carry That Weight" was quoting it. Woops.

Also also, playing through the entire album on guitar is very tiring on the fingers.

Also also also... I tried really hard to think of a better title, but I couldn't. I'd feel so much better about my entries if they all didn't have such crappy titles...