Thursday, October 19, 2006

Halloweekend '93 Part 7

Like Fred Durst, we’re rollin’ rollin’ rollin’, except instead of towards obscurity, we’re headed to Tiny Toon Adventures. This was a hell of a show back in the late 80s-early 90s, but it got overshadowed by Animaniacs, which was the new hotness by the mid-90s. Still, Tiny Toons had a good run, a big stable of characters which were basically remixes of classic Looney Tunes with a few curveballs thrown in, and enough pop culture references to make your head spin. It also hasn’t aged that well, since some of the characters just bleed “early 90s.” Like the valley-girl talking Loon, Shirley. But, they always did go all out for Halloween specials, so this was something to look forward to.

We start out with a bumper segment introducing us to “Elmyra, Mistress of the Dark,” which is basically Elmyra the creepy Elmer Fudd-like girl with a psychotic desire to cuddle animals into powder, in a poofy black wig. See, its funny since it’s a play on “Elvira,” but if you didn’t already figure it out, well, you disappoint me and you will most assuredly NOT be in MyCircle if I ever get it. Anyway, Elmyra plays host to this year’s special, The Horror of Slumber Party Mountain. Its your standard slapstick comedy with a “horror” twist much in the same vein as classic Looney Tunes or the old “Abbot & Costello Meet…” movies, which is fine by me. There’s a lot of that in this episode, which involves a taxidermy-revived Jackalope terrorizing the gang, which alone is worth the price of admission.

Best part of the show: after a bumper where Elmyra says she loves stuffed animals and starts shoving pillow stuffing into Furball, the resident unlucky cat, at the end of the show, when the Jackalope is revealed to have been Elmyra all along and the gang (Buster Bunny, Babs Bunny [no relation], Fifi, Shirley, Hamton & Plucky) make a break for it through the studio walls, Furball is seen rolling after them, a bloated stuffing-filled ball, which for some reason was the funniest thing all episode for me.


Long story short, Tiny Toons was great slapstick and didn’t insult your intelligent too much when you were a kid, so its aged pretty well. Except for those touches that are so early 90s they hurt.

Look, the main reason why I’m slipping in these is that I got Warhammer: 40000: Dark Crusade last week and I stormed through the campaign with the Tau Empire. Its crack-like in its addictiveness. Now I’m trying to readjust tactics for the Space Marine campaign, which is hard since I miss having more firepower than Monev the Gale (Yes that is a reference out of left field. No you don’t get anything from me for guessing where its from, but feel free to treat yourself to some Chips Ahoy in celebration).

Now, this is a complete non sequiteur : Sam & Max is back! Yay! So far, I haven‘t seen it available in a hard copy, just pay download only. Boo.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Halloweekend '93 Part 6

Oo! It is better. Its Eek! The Cat. Eek! was a great show at the time, even though it could wear a little thin. Basically, Eek! was the most altruistic being ever to walk the planet, who’s motto was “It never hurts to help.” Well, it often hurt quite a lot. In this episode, Eek! (the exclamation point’s there on purpose) is trying to help his family trick-or-treat. There’s two kids (both pretty high up on the “horrible kid” scale) in a chicken costume and they can’t see anything. Eek! gets involved and ends up being the head of the chicken and fails horribly at steering them anywhere good. Through that blind leadership, Eek! gets separated from the kids through an elaborate gratuitously complicated sequence of events involving a motorcycle, half of a horse costume and a jack-o-lantern that lands him in a cemetery that’s haunted by a ghost. A ghost who’s sobbing like Luke Skywalker talking about Toshi Station. Yeah, that simile didn’t work out like I wanted it to. Still, didn’t want to let it go to waste. Where was I?

Oh right. So Eek! and the little ghost set off in search of the rest of the missing spooks. Turns out, through an elaborate series of events involving a witch dressed like a skank, a reggae-speaking black cat, a spooky old house and a very large vacuum cleaner traps all of the ghosts roaming the city so they can be ground into cosmetic powder. I’m not making that up, nor am I going to try to defend that plot development. It’s a little more involved than that, but since this is already a week late, I’m trying to wrap this up as fast as possible. Best part of the episode, Eek! unhesitatingly volunteers to be a battering ram to break out of a glass, ghost-proof prison. Crisis averted and all the ghosts go back to the netherworld when Halloween night ends. Right, the episode was a lot more fun to watch than write about. Now we can move on to the next one.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Haloweekend '93 Part 5

Moving right along, we’ve got an episode of Droopy, Master Detective. I’ve never liked Droopy, with his monotone voice, I’ve never liked his sidekick/son Dripple, and I sure as hell couldn’t see why they called him a poodle since he doesn’t look like one. He looks more like former Presidential hopeful John Kerry to me. Anyway, the “Master Detective” part was more of an early 90s revamp to try and recycle the old jokes for a new generation. At least they stayed with the Halloween theme. The first segment was Droopy and his son having their car break down in front of an old creepy mansion, where inside, a mad scientist has created a woman. Droopy knocks on the door and the undead-woman with the Bride of Frankenstein hair opens and falls madly in love with him. That’s a staple of the Droopy routine, and I never ever saw why women were always falling head over heels for this dullard, but now I think I have an answer. Pheromones. It has to be pheromones. Of course, “hijinks” follow.

After the commercial break came a Tom & Jerry Kids segment. I always rooted for Tom, even though that’s like betting on the Washington Generals, but still, that cat was committed to his job. Shrinking the protagonists down in size (and age) didn’t really help with the “recycle the same old bit” strategy. Oh well, in this episode, we get Lil’ Tom chasing Lil’ Jerry into an old haunted castle haunted by the ghost of McLockjaw. Yeah, I forgot to mention they’re in Scotland for this bit, not like it matters to the plot. Anyway, Jerry finds the ghost dog, who tells him he’s cursed to haunt the castle until a friend can stay in the castle of his own free will until midnight. Sounds like a pretty low grade curse. I mean come on, not even till dawn? Anyway, the curse gets lifted despite Tom’s diligent attempts to catch that plague-carrying rodent almost succeed in getting the mouse out of the castle before midnight, but of course, our ghost dog wants out, so he intervenes and…oh look, let’s just forget about this. I don’t even feel like going over the 2nd Droopy segment since writing this is boring me to tears. I’ll sum it up in one sentence. It’s the same as the first segment, only with Droopy as a scientist himself, the spaz of a wolf creates a retarded monster-man and Droopy creates the undead woman himself. Other than that, same exact plot. I hope the next show’s better than this.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Halloweekend '93 Part 4 (Yes I Know Its Late)

Ah. Yes. After Dog City came one of the shows I hated the most on Saturday mornings, Bobby’s World. I’m not entirely sure exactly why I hated the show. It could’ve been Bobby’s screeching demon voice, it could’ve been Howie Mandel’s semi-mullet in the live action bumpers, it could’ve been Bobby’s enormous watermelon shaped head. Whatever it was, the Halloween special was actually the only episode I remember liking. The plot’s simple. Bobby wants to go trick-or-treating, he’s too young, instead, Uncle Ted (in an Elvis costume) is coming over to help pass out apple jerky at the door while Mom & Dad go out to a costume party. But Ted’s got other ideas. Using a bunch of household junk and way more cardboard boxes than any household would normally have room for, they construct the Tunnel of Terror. What follows is one of the best scams in cartoon history. Trick-or-treaters can work their way through the tunnel only if they fork over three pieces of candy and a buck. A buck! For “charity.” Bullshit! Now, Uncle Ted was my favorite character on the show because of this episode for two reasons. 1) Actually making this scheme a reality, and 2) Giving a “pretty mommy discount” to one lady who didn’t bring much money with her. Hey man, he means her kid can see the Tunnel of Terror for free, not anything that you’re thinking.

Anyway, the scheme totally pays off and Ted & Bobby end up making several hundred dollars and even more candy by the end of the night and pass out on the couch bloated with candy (and probably in Ted’s case, Beer. Its not actually stated, but the beer gut and Hawaiian shirt imply years spent scarfing wings and pitchers of lager). Mom & Dad come home all pissed off that the house is a mess, and the episode….just ends. It. Just. Ends. I don’t think there were every any repercussions of the Tunnel of Terror. They got away scot-free and never identified what “charity” they were going to donate the money to. Hate the show I did, but this episode earned the hallowed “slow clap” for taking Halloween to ridiculously lofty heights.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Haloweekend '93 Part 3

Ok, here we go, the real extravaganza started after Double Dragon. Dog City was up next. Don’t remember Dog City? It was a hybrid animated/Muppet show about a Muppet/dog cartoonist named Eliot Shag (ah the naivety of youth) who drew the animated adventures of Ace Hart, private eye. It was based on the, for lack of a better word, “short film” of the same name that aired on the Jim Henson Hour in the late 80s, which was all puppets and very sweet. I have that somewhere on tape too, but no idea where. This show was cool beans, man. It breached the fourth wall at every opportunity and threw endless sight gags and puns at the viewer. Nonstop puns. Anyway, the show was tremendously intelligent for Saturday Morning fare, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that it lasted for three seasons.

This episode was “The Bloodhound,” and our hard boiled detective has to track down a mysterious caped menace biting the citizens of the city at night. Of course, him being a hard boiled detective, Ace doesn’t want to bother with the case at all, calling all a bunch of hooey. Eddie, his plucky newsboy sidekick is all for it, taking every chance to tell Ace it’s the undead stalking the streets. Long story short, Ace tracks down the Bloodhound and reveals him to be a disgruntled mailman who’s sick of being bitten by every dog in the city every day. Actually, it wasn’t that great of an episode as far as the show went, but still…it was Halloween themed, and I loved Dog City, dammit! That’s got to count for something.

Usually it’s the crazier/stupider shows that are much more fun to write about since they’re so much easier to criticize. You’ll see what I mean tomorrow.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Halloweekend '93 Part 2

After Transformers, its over to FOX for the “not actually a part of the FOX Kids lineup but its still a cartoon that we’ll tack on to ride the coattails of the more popular shows.” Usually (for my part at least) it was King Arthur And The Knights Of Justice in that slot, leading to a lifelong fondness for that horrible show. But not this day. This day it was an episode of Double Dragon. Oh yes, even a straightforward beat ‘em up like Double Dragon got the animated series treatment in the heady days of the early 90s, complete with cheesy Nintendo sound effects.

The premise of the show has little to do with the original game (with its very simple introduction of Billy Lee’s girlfriend gets punched in the face and kidnapped by gang members and Billy subsequently sets out to get his woman back by beating up everyone on the street he sees). Here, Billy & his Brother Jimmy are “Special Deputies” for Metro City’s police force, fighting the Shadow Master’s syndicate of cartoonishly equipped bad guys. The thing is, Billy & Jimmy, who dress in blue and red versions of the same outfit, have a deep secret. Not only are they martial arts masters with their own dojo, but they fight crime as the Double Dragons, mask wearing swordsmen who dress exactly like Billy & Jimmy except for their undershirts mystically disappearing to reveal their double dragon “birthmarks.” Now, birthmarks don’t usually cover someone’s entire pecs and are green with an intricate level of detail. Hmm, sounds more like the description of a “tattoo.”

Anyway, this particular episode starts off with Jimmy Lee riding through Metro City on his oh so awesome tricycle, looking for some crime to bust. Little does he know he’s being watched by some guy in a van through closed circuit cameras, who puts out a call over the police band that sends Jimmy into “special deputy” mode. Long story short, it’s a setup and Jimmy gets arrested by some schmuck named Captain Tays. Jimmy gets railroaded at his trail in a moment that I’m sure would make any law students fall to the floor in a fit of giggling, and gets sent to “Rattica Prison,” (yeah, real creative) a place where they send “mutants AND hard cases.” I guess mutants who ARE hard cases have to go to an even more secure prison, or something. Anyway, Billy gets thrown into a cell with a mutant named Fireball, who meditates a lot since he tends to shoot hot death from his eyes when he gets angry. Turns out Fireball’s not really a bad guy, just some poor mook who got in with the wrong crowd. Hell, the worst thing he’s done is almost/nearly/clearly missed killing an innocent bystander. What follows is some blah-blah-blah stuff about gangs are bad, Billy trying to break INTO prison to rescue his brother, and Jimmy finding out he’s goin’ down hard in the exercise area the next day. What’s more interesting is the fact that even though he’s been convicted and imprisoned, Jimmy Lee is wearing the same exact clothes as he always does. How come the rest of the inmates have to wear regulation prison gray and he gets to keep his shoulder & knee pads? Lazy-ass animators or one of the perks of being a “special deputy?” I’m going with the lazy thing.

Anyway, the episode ends with a goofy fight scene in the prison common between Jimmy & a mutant with a bulldog’s head (man, Metro City needs a “House of M” event badly), then Shadow Master almost wins the day just by talking in his Awesome Voice, then Fireball does his thing to help out, and then all the bad guys get theirs (except Shadow Master, who escapes through the power of his Awesome Voice. Seriously, that guy’s voice is the best thing about the series) and Fireball ends up signing up with the Double Dragons after being paroled for some arbitrary reason.

Ok, weird show. Goofy show. But it did teach a few valuable life lessons. Like, uh, for instance… The, uh, justice system is a lot more laissze faire than the legal community has led us to believe. Seriously, if you’re a corrupt police captain, you can tell prison wardens what to do. Totally. And, uh, something about gangs are bad.

Look I know its not a Halloween episode! I still had to sit through it to get to the actual stuff. Besides, the existence of a Double Dragon cartoon is scary enough. The next show really is a Halloween special, I promise.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Halloweekend ‘93 pt. 1

Wooo! Its October, baby!

Now here’s a diamond in the VHS rough. I dug out an old tape of Saturday Morning Cartoons (you know, back when that actually meant something). But not just any old tape of SMCs. This was one of the annual, pre-Halloween Saturdays, where you got a whole morning full of animated goodness shoving the Halloween spirit down your gullet. And I loved them for it. The only other holiday to get a regular special is/was Christmas.

Anyway, FOX Kids used to be one of the 800 lb. Gorillas of Saturday Morning programming for a couple years. It had a loaded line up of X-Men, Spider-Man, Eek! The Cat, Taz-Mania (and later The Tick and Carmen Sandiego) and others. It also had some shows that made me want to throw a shoe through the TV screen, but that’s beside the point (and they're probably on the tape) In 1993, the FOX Kids line up was running at full steam and life was good.

Well, the tape doesn’t start with FOX Kids. It starts on a different channel to catch most of an episode of Transformers. OK, Transformers: Generation 2, which was basically the same exact Transformers episodes, only with goofy CG transitions between scenes and a new credit sequence. Anyway, the episode du jur features a couple Autobots and Decepticons getting stuck in Medieval Times, where Starscream almost conquers Europe with Ramjet, Rumble & Ravage while Spike, Hoist & Warpath don’t really do much to help until a wizard kickstarts their metallic hearts with electricity. Warpath was almost a cool Autobot in my eyes. After all, he was a tank and had a weapons system that made some sense, but his penchant for onomatopoeia made him sound like a dork. And Hoist was just a tool with a gun for a right hand. Why? Doesn’t matter, he’s playing second banana to Warpath in this episode anyway. And despite Starscream actually being a serious threat in this episode, his whining and bitching reaches new heights when victory is snatched away from him. I’m serious, he gets beaten about five minutes before the end of the episode, and everything that comes out of his mouth from that point on is whining. Starscream’s a dick.

I'm not even going to start ranting about just how horribly flawed the episode is from a historical perspective, but that's like saying "dolphins can't snap their fingers." Yes, you could go into the "whys" of it, but its not worth the time. More to follow shortly.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Zombie Brides And Virgin Grooms! Sounds like a Pellet Review!

Being a currently unemployed cheap bastard, I'm something of a library whore. Free movies are free movies, so what if you run the risk of borrowing one that's scratched all to hell and won't let you finish watching the third disc of Superman The Animated Series, Season 1? Ok, yeah, I was rather bitter about that actually. Anywho, the library's a great way to finally check out that flick you weren't sure you wanted to spend money on when it was new. Last week I checked out (quite literally) Tim Burton's Corpse Bride and The 40-Year Old Virgin (and Shaun of the
Dead, but I've already seen that, I just didn't have time to watch again).

Ok, Lightning Round.
Corpse Bride impressed the hell out of me. First, the animation was astounding. All of the movements and artistry invovled in actually making the movie were stunning. The puppets had mechanisms in their heads that could be tweaked to change their facial expressions! That floored me. The movie looks great. Its also a musical, just so we're clear on that. The cast was also pretty solid, all around, (yes it has Johnny Depp in it as Victor) but Helena Bonham Carter carried the movie away as the Corpse Bride. Also, I have to give props to the movie for making an undead zombie woman so strangely, well, 'cute' I guess is the only word that comes to mind without someone inferring necrophilia. Now I feel dirty.

40 Year Old Virgin came out to a lot of hooplah last year. Its a filthy-mouthed comedy, certainly, but novel enough to make it work. Yes, its about Andy, the titular Virgin, and his relationship problems, but the three coworkers who end up dragging him kicking and screaming toward the dating scene have their share of problems too. Shit, that sounds so lame. Look, the movie's funny, surprisingly intelligent, runs a little too long, and resolves itself in a way that doesn't come off being too insipidly sacchirine. And they actually take the time to flesh out the supporting characters, which is nice since they avoid being boring stock characters interchangeable with one another. Its also kind of reassuring to see a character with an even more messed up relationship history than my own. I don't know what that says about me, but its actually a better movie than I thought it would be.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Something to think about the next time you get dragged to a Julia Roberts movie

Let me tell you about Romantic Comedies. They’ve all got something in common, and its this: They’re all a bunch of lies. Most stories are. Sure, they can reveal truths about humanity and the universe, they can make us laugh and cry and occasionally think, but humans are innate liars, and that’s why our stories are so good. Every time we tell a story, it changes. Every memory slides further and further away from what really happened. That’s just the way it is.

There’s no such thing as “They all lived happily ever after.” That’s a lie right there. Even if a couple manages to survive the hazards of their own psychoses intact, they’re still going to die and the surviving partner is going to go through hell in grief. Touching and emotional yes, "happily ever after" not so much.

People are crazy, and when they meet each other, they try to hide the crazy from each other. It never really works. The crazy always find a way out. The lucky couples are the ones who actually don’t mind the quirks they see in each other, they even find them charming and cute. The unlucky ones pretend the quirks don’t exist and spend the rest of their lives in misery while trying to figure out excuses to stay with someone who’s guts they hate. Then there’s the ones who hate the quirks and end things because they aren’t working out. Hopefully they don’t have the emotional baggage of 2.5 kids and a complicated alimony settlement when they do come to that revelation.

Couples argue. Couples fight. Dishes get thrown sometimes. Feelings get hurt. It happens. All the time. Some couples survive, others end after one fight too many. The lucky ones find an avenue of communication and compromise to get through. The unlucky ones profess in full denial of the truth that they love their husband, even after he got drunk and broke her nose with a bottle of Miller Lite. Again.

Sex is an investment. Mating is quick. Gestating and producing another human being takes a while. Ensuring that new human being survives to buy a car and try to mate in the back seat takes even longer. We’re not sea turtles. We don’t fuck for one night, then lay our eggs in the beach and six months later hope that some of the little buggers make it to the ocean without getting snatched up by the seagulls. For one thing, we get emotional about that kind of stuff. We rarely eat our young. We believe in nurturing our spawn, and loving them and “raising them right and proper.” Unfortunately we’re all neurotic monkeys, so all we’re really doing is just raising more neurotic monkeys.

There is no magic potion to make people fall in love. We’re on our own to figure out Love, and the instructions we’ve got all sound like those incomprehensible translations of Korean VHS player manuals. Its hard to fit slot A into Tab 16 when neither was included in the box. Even worse, males and females all have a knack for confusing the hell out of the other gender and complaining about not being understood. Men don’t get women. Women don’t get men. And yet Romantic Comedies provide countless hours of footage and characters that seem to be typical of their genders. You know, archetypes. The bad boy, the loveable fat guy sidekick who never gets the girl, the mousy girl with a wild side, the hooker with a heart of gold. The list goes on and on and on. They’re just broad caricatures. An umbrella category.

People are a hell of a lot more complicated than that. The loveable fat guy is probably throwing himself full force into being loveable because he’s so insecure about his weight and undesirability to the other sex, and if he weren’t appreciated for his funniness, he’d probably get so depressed and lonely that one morning he’s not going to wake up from the sleeping pills and vodka. The hooker with the heart of gold might just have been a promising med student when one unfortunate night at a sorority party, she got addicted to heroin, flunked out of school after a painful semester and ended up on the streets, plying her trade in order to get her next fix, all while her sober moments are filled with regret and self-hatred, so she might do a good deed as an unconscious plea for help before the last vestiges of her spirit get broken. That’s two stock characters made more complex by the infusion of tragedy. And they’re more true to life. Real people’s lives are rife with sorrow, tragedy and despair. That’s why we like Romantic Comedies. They help us laugh through the pain (well, the good ones at least, the bad ones just add to it) and make us believe even for an instant that its all going to be ok as long as your heart’s in the right place and you’ve got courage when you need it the most.

The real world doesn’t act that way. There the bad boy asshole does marry the prom queen, they have three kids, move out to the suburbs and he cheats on her with his young, vivacious secretary while the wife unconsciously injects the kids with her pent up hatred for him. Then, when she finally gets sick enough of his verbal abuse and tells him she’s leaving, he jealously flips out and beats her to death with an iron before putting a gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger, unaware that his five year old son just saw the whole thing. The honest shy guy spends years trying to muster the courage to express his feelings for the friend that he loves, berating himself night after night for failing to do so, until one day he can’t take it anymore and tells her at the most inopportune time, like say at her wedding. But unlike a RomCom, the bride to be has never loved the shy guy and yells at him for trying to ruin her wedding. He then runs out of the church crying and spends the next ten years drinking himself into a stupor just so he can get to sleep and contracts cirrhosis of the liver and dies a painful, lonely death. Those kinds of stories happen all the time. We get hints of them on the nightly news.

Romantic comedies are lies, but they tend to be beautiful lies. More importantly, they make us feel that, despite all the fucked up shit that goes on in the lives of everyone, maybe somewhere, at the right moment, standing on the roof of your car in the rain outside a girl’s house with Prince’s Purple Rain blaring out of the cheap stock stereo can win her heart. Because we hate to think that doing that will only get shoes thrown at us, threats about calling the cops, and a silent drive home interrupted only by the loud sobbing of the driver as his heart lies broken in her driveway next to the bouquet of roses he dropped on the ground.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Demoted by Science!!

Well, well, well. After being the subject of a few years’ debate, the planet Pluto’s been demoted to a “dwarf planet” asteroid-thingy.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20060911/sc_space/plutoisnowjustanumber134340;_ylt=Au9ByhJKXBQPJaypPQPEji3637YB;_ylu=X3oDMTA5aHJvMDdwBHNlYwN5bmNhdA--

Henceforth, “Pluto” is now forbidden from using that name as its legal moniker and has been assigned the ultra-sexy NEW name of 134340. In the past, Pluto has caused much consternation and scratching of heads among the scientific community. What does it look like exactly? What’s it made of? Why the hell is its orbit all wonky? 134340 is now being joined by rookie Eris (formerly 2003 UB313), a slightly larger mysterious space rock a little further out, in the dwarf planet class. Thus spake the International Astronomical Union!
Yeah, I can’t really say that with a straight face. Look, Pluto is still the same weird-ass space rock it was a week ago. Its still going to float out there and get inside Uranus’ orbit every now and then. Big rocks don’t care what they’re called. Or maybe they do, and when word of this reaches its orbit, Pluto’s going to be so pissed off that its going to let Jupiter’s gravitational pull upset its orbit and the former planet’s going to come screaming out of the heavens towards Earth, looking for vengeance!
Look, I appreciate Science’s continuing tweaking of the things it considers to be valid information, and humans are by nature a classifying species, but really, 134340? We’re still going to call it Pluto since its easier to remember and spell. As for the new kid, Eris, well, we (and by “we” I mean “Science”) know its bigger than Pluto, its got a “moon” and that’s about it. The real silly thing about it is our tendency to make big dramatic stories out of new scientific discoveries that aren’t necessarily “action packed.” The discovery of Eris was a big deal, since finding something further out and bigger than Pluto raises questions of a tenth planet and/or if it really is a planet. The name change is really just semantics at this point. Again, Pluto’s going to keep on doing what its doing, regardless what a thus-far lucky group of apes has to say about it. We’re not the boss of Pluto.
Incidentally, I’ve always wondered why Walt Disney went and named Mickey’s dog after the Roman god of the underworld. A god I might add, who forcibly kidnapped his future wife Penelope (Persephone) and dragged her to said underworld because he wanted to “get some.” Pluto wasn’t exactly evil, but he was kind of a dick. Here’s a challenge to make you feel uncomfortable watching those old cartoons. Every time they say “Pluto,” replace it with “Hades.” Or for added mythological comedy value, “Cerberus.” Now, I foresee this having two possible outcomes. 1) your sensibilities are shaken by the possibility that “Uncle Walt” was up to something sinister in naming a loveable cartoon dog after a god of the dead or 2) it’s a bit of absolutely hilarious unintentional humor.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Gruss Gott!

Ahem. Yes. Well. I've returned from Europe none the worse for wear. Its also very, very difficult to try and distill the sheer sensory overload that three weeks of hard traveling will do. So, instead of breaking it down into a massive succession of posts, here's the nutshell review.

Ireland rocks. The country's booming, cheerful, and has a level of friendliness that makes Canada look like a bunch of curmudgeons. Its also got so many people from all over the world there, living, working or just visiting. Prices are expensive, food's good, the women are beautiful and the beer is excellent. I recommend going there. Dublin and Kilkenny are fantastic places, Blarney, despite the kitch, is worth visiting, and Cork, well, you can probably live a long, fulfilling life without having seen Cork.

Lithuania rocks. The country is recovering from decades of Soviet oppression. Prices are cheap, the food is good and/or interesting, the women are beautiful (Ireland has more though), the beer is very good (and cheap), the country is beautiful (if a little midwestern-y) and its also worth visiting and bringing tourist dollars there to boost up the economy. Vilnius is booming and undergoing a berserker building/remodeling campaign. There's a lot of grafitti and most people drive like lunatics, but the country's a great place to go.

Austria rocks. The Alps are staggering in their beauty. The food is superb, the beer is excellent, the cities are clean (aside from all the cigarette butts), and they have beautiful women (though Lithuania has more). Salzburg, Sound of Music kitsch aside, is a gorgeous storybook city that lives and breathes music (and capitalizing on Mozart). Graz is a quirky university city mixing ancient traditions with the hyper-modern weirdness that grows out of having university professors all over the place, and deserves your tourist dollars.

Well, that's a nutshell of the experience, though completely inadequate to explain anything. The best thing I can do is say travel for yourself, see what you want to see, step outside the lines of where you normally operate, and never, ever forget where your passport is.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Its been a long, strange day

There is a lot going on right now. I'm in a net cafe in Cork. Seriously. A traveloque is being kept, but there isn't nearly enough time to get into everything right now.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Books you ought not to ignore

I generally try to avoid discussing uber-nerdy things like video games and comics on this blog (that's what the other one's for), but I feel the need to express my meaningless endorsement for Neil Gaiman & John Romita Jr.'s Eternals mini series. Yes, it is a comic book. A Marvel comic book to be exact. Yeah, it mentions guys like Spider-Man and all that. It also ties heavily into the previous history of the Eternals (a near-godlike race of ancient supermen genetically---look, its complicated, ok?) Right, so, Marvel continuity gets touched on, but its not essential to the story. There's a whole big "Civil War" event going on over Superhuman Registration that gets mentioned, but isn't important here. You don't have to know about it to enjoy what's going on. Gaiman's writing is good. The guys got an ear for dialogue and can deliver on off-the-wall concepts, and the Eternals, created by comic god Jack Kirby, definitely are. There's a whole bunch of plot threads going on, but I get the feeling that "all will be revealed" when its all said and done. And Romita Jr.'s art is really damn good. Sometimes he's a little "blocky" for me (like some of his Punisher stuff), but not here. Its all good. I've gotta say, if you're looking for an inroad into the world of comics as deeply rewarding storytelling, this may not be as artsy as an indie comic (or Vertigo, for that matter-->See Gaiman's Sandman), but its a good way to ease into parts of the Marvel Universe that don't involve Spider-Man or Wolverine.
And for Pete's sake, if there's one thing comics need less of right now, its Wolverine.

Besides, its a mini, so six issues and you can pretend you never stepped into a comic shop.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Reservations and the lack thereof

Well, its about a week till I climb aboard a heavier-than-air marvel of engineering and hope I safely land in Dublin. And if not that, then at least the peanuts had better be good. Its strange. Most of the flight arrangements have been taken care of. I’ve begun test packing to see what I’m going to have to exclude from the suitcase, figuring out what book to read on the flight, little stuff like that. Basically, it’s a lull in the action, much like the point where you realize you’ve strapped yourself into the roller coaster, but the fun part hasn’t started yet. Its that middle part in between, where every second that goes by with another clunk is a stark reminder that bit by bit, the comfort of the ground is slowly slipping away whether you want it to or not. At least there’s no ratcheting “Klink klink klink” sound as you get dragged to the crest of the hill. It’s not quite the eerie silence before the plummet where you begin to have reservations on it being good idea after all. It’s the moment when you realize that the eerie silence is close at hand.

Surprisingly, I’ve managed to find time for television amid all this chaos. Not a whole lot of television, so most of that time’s been spent on the Travel Channel. Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations is a show I’ve been slowly getting into over the last couple of months here and there, but its finally won me over. The premise is simple; famous author and chef travels around the world and tells you what he thinks. It’s a great show because he eats everything, even the nasty stuff. Greater still is his command of language and imagery. The guy knows his narrative stuff. Now, on a completely opposite end of the spectrum is Passport to Europe which, while showing interesting places in Europe, just doesn’t have the whole “I want to go out of my way to watch this” factor. Actually the only reason I did watch it was because they went to Dublin.

And I’ve just run out of stuff to say, so I’ll stop.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Tto the MAXXX!!

So I’m sitting here wondering what to write about. Ah, what the hell. Here’s a book review. I mean, uh, a book review so X-TREEEM it’ll rip your face off and wear it to a masquerade ball!

Miyamoto Musashi’s “A Book of Five Rings” is like a lesser known “Art of War.” Basically, it’s a treatise on strategy and warfare written just before the samurai’s death. Its written in short, economic sentences. What’s interesting about it (and completely contrary to pretty much any anime out there) is that he advocates learning to be tactically flexible, study the enemy, adapt tactics, and use any weapon at your disposal to win. He has no “super-ultimate” attack that’s guaranteed to win. In fact, he shows scorn on martial arts styles that limit themselves to only one style of combat. He says long swords, short swords, bows, spears, guns, cannon whatever all have tactical uses and a victorious warrior will never look down any of them. Adding weight to his argument is his resume of winning over sixty duels before he turned thirty. One of those duels was won with an oar. He killed a man with an OAR.

X-TREEEM!!!!!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Symphony of Terror for Moog and Slide Whistle

Well, it was a late work night last night, so I didn’t get this posted before collapsing from exhaustion. So its getting posted now. And through the miracle of the “internet” if you’re reading the archive for fun (though what madness could impel that idea escapes me) it’ll appear in a sequential format, and it’ll be like there was no missing day at all. Except for this incriminating paragraph. Curses! Foiled by my own verbosity!

Rounding out my foray into classics of early German cinema is F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu. Its from 1922, so it predates Metropolis by five years and it definitely lacks the polish and film quality of the latter. Still, it definitely deserves its place in the hallowed halls of film classics. The plot is essentially an unauthorized bastardization of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Guy goes to Transylvania and is essentially responsible for bringing a vampire to his home town. Vampire takes a ship and kills the crew before leaving a bloody mess in said town before finally being stopped. There’s even a crazy lunatic. Ok, so the plot’s pretty straightforward.

Admittedly, the directing is also usually straightforward too. But there are moments of visual awesomeness. You’ve probably seen the hunched and spooky shadow of a figure creeping up a stairway? That’s from Nosferatu. And its one of the best shots ever. Also, Count Orlock is probably my favorite movie vampire ever. Freaky looking as all hell and a downright monster with creepy monster hands. Another interesting technique Murnau used was adding different filters to set the mood of the place. This being a monochrome picture, it’s a little difficult to tell a lot of the time whether its day or night outdoors (since they probably filmed all the outdoor stuff during daylight so it would come up on film), so a blue tint was added to make it look a little more like night time without being nearly as dark as actual night.

The only real complaint I have about the movie is that, well, the soundtrack does sound rather digitized. This being a silent film and all, the original score must’ve deteriorated, so a substitute was put in. It does get the job done, but it doesn’t sound nearly as good as Metropolis’. And yes, parts of it do sound like a slide whistle.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Undead Monkey Ahoy

Right, so, as I loosely promised last night, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest was on the plate for today (yeah, I’m a few days behind the curve. I know).

I must admit to being a little torn about it. Visually, the movie knocks it out of the park. ILM did a hell of a job with Davey Jones and the Flying Dutchman’s crew. The story was great for an action movie, with the plot and subplots all moving forward at a nice clip. Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow is exactly as he should be and the movie lets you know that he’s the center of the POTC universe, and that’s a good thing. Keira Knightley is still sigh-inducingly beautiful. It’s a great movie. There’s no doubt about that. You will leave the theatre thoroughly entertained.
Its just that the POTC: Curse of the Black Pearl left me leaving the theatre with the heady euphoria of seeing something extraordinarily new and original. While there’s no lack of big awe-inspiring moments in Dead Man’s Chest, some of the sense of wonder is missing. Part of has to be the fact that the Disney Marketing Machine™ has put their entire weight behind this movie, unlike the previous one. The toys and books have been out since at least May, so Davey Jones isn’t nearly as surprising when you first see him. Oh sure, there’s stuff later on that provides some great surprises. In the first film, Jack Sparrow’s an unstoppable force. Crazy as a loon, yes, but someone with an ace up his sleeve whenever he needs it. It feels slightly less like that in this movie. He’s still Jack Sparrow, but he’s unnerved this time around.

One thing that was an absolute joy about this sequel was that it kept a lot of characters around from the first one. Some, like Jack’s crew, are logical nods to continuity. Others make for some great surprises that I’m not going to spoil here. The great thing about them is that even the side characters actually get to grow and develop too. Be prepared for a “to be continued” ending though. Although Empire Strikes Back ending on a similar note, so its not a big deal. Audiences loved the first one, they love the second one, and they’re going to keep on lovin’ the franchise. At least as long as they don’t decide they want to make prequels.

And yes, there is an undead monkey that Jack loves to shoot. S’wonderful, really.

Not Your Superman’s Metropolis

Wow.

I have just had sweet cinema lovin’ made to me. No. Its not Pirates of the Caribbean (that’s tomorrow). I’m talking about Fritz Lang’s 1927 silent masterpiece, Metropolis. Man, I’m still soaking it all in. The Germans know operatic, and this, this WAS operatic. Take a city of the future, built on the backs of drudging workers. Have the son of the genius behind the city discover that there’s more than fornication in a pleasure garden. Add a love interest that gets replaced by a robot duplicate by a crazy old guy with a mechanical hand and you’ve got a swiftly complicating plotline. At first, it seems like the movie’s going to go all “downtrodden workers rising up against the corporate masters,” and it does…in a way. Then it goes and spits in Marx’s face (I love when that happens) by going biblical. Great Flood kind of biblical. Tower of Babel kind of biblical. And the special effects are just about as good as they can get for being an 80 year old film. The “mascot” of the movie, the robot woman (they called it a machine-man in the movie) was really well done, and you can see where Lucas got the idea for C-3PO. Hell, there’s even a surreal stripshow, so there’s something for everybody.

I have to recommend this movie. If you call yourself a film buff, you’ve probably already seen it, unless of course you’re a filthy liar or just a misguided soul like I was who simply hadn’t had the chance to see this work of wonder. If you’re a fan of Modernism, its got stuff you’d like. Hell, even if you just casually like movies (like most of the people in the world) give this film a look. Some of the acting (particularly by the character of Maria) is just so crazy and brilliant at the same time. The lighting of the film is phenomenal. There are some shots where I was simply floored by the innovation and imagery used.

Look-just--Its good--Oh for heaven’s sake, just see the movie for yourself!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

You WILL Believe a Franchise can Fly...Again

I was going to post something yesterday, but it was a cold lifeless list of all the places I’ve traveled to in my short lifetime. And in all honesty, I didn’t post it because I would’ve felt like an ass.

Anyway, I got myself to a silver screen and witnessed a nifty motion picture called Superman Returns. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. Some may have even seen it. Me? I enjoyed the hell out of it. I thought it was a great story that made me care about Superman, something that hasn’t happened much since “The Death of Superman” back when I was a wee little lad. Right, so what worked? Kevin Spacey as Luthor is charming, intelligent and batshit crazy when he needs to be. His jolly little line about “Krrrrrryptonite” as he was taunting Superman before kicking him over and over in the gut was great. That and he didn’t treat his henchmen like they were dead weight. It was great seeing him get mad whenever he lost a henchman. I thought Routh’s Superman was on par with Reeve’s (blasphemy, I know) and that his Clark Kent was even better. It was also nice seeing James Marsden actually given significant screen time in a superhero movie. Turns out Jean didn’t kill Cyclops. She de-powered him and sent him to a better movie (OH SNAP!) Jimmy Olson, though given little screen time, was good, and not nearly the god awful annoyance that Pre-Crisis Jimmy Olson was. If you don’t know what that means, trust me, Jimmy done badly will make you want to kill him. To be honest, I didn’t really feel that Kate Bosworth’s Lois really worked for me, but she didn’t hurt the movie either.

What I absolutely loved about Superman Returns was that it placed Supes in just about the most awkward position possible when he returns. He’s ready to start up his life again at the Daily Planet and finds out that in the 5 years he’s been gone, Lois Lane has gone and had a kid and gotten herself a great guy for a fiancĂ©e. You just gotta empathize with Clark when he finds out Richard’s a great guy who absolutely loves Lois. I give the guy a lot of credit for cockblocking Superman.
Oh yeah, and some action stuff happens too.

Now I must make special not of the preview trailers. Spider-Man 3 was the only trailer worth seeing. Everything else was just mind-numbingly retarded. It is very sad to think that the shitty animated movies of our youth have been supplanted my shitty CG movies of the present. Male cows do not have udders you utterly deplorable people at Nickelodeon responsible for Barnyard!!! UDDERS ARE THE MAMMARY GLANDS OF COWS!!! MALE COWS DO NOT HAVE THEM BECAUSE THEY ARE CALLED BULLS!!! ARRRRRRGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!! JUST THINKING ABOUT THAT TRAILER MAKES ME WISH VIOLENCE UPON THE WORLD!

Ahem, so, anyway, the Spidey 3 trailer was full of Black Costumey goodness (its not really a spoiler since its all over the teaser). Can’t wait for that next year.

Catch you on the flipside.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

What? Who's talking?

Er, I'm feeling obliged to post something this week before heading out to Chicago on Friday.

So, er, the World Cup's going on, for people who're into the whole "watching the athleticism of others". I don't follow football (no, not that football, I mean futbol) so all I know is Ghana beat the everlovin' snot out of team USA. Probably because in the rest of the world, they take futbol seriously ("murder the referee" seriously), unlike in the US, where minivans and SUVs cart kids home from games where they didn't even keep score, because "everyone's a winner in this game!" Yep, totally can't see why the USA doesn't have that killer instinct in the world's most ubiquitous game. And I don't even like soccer.

Um, that wasn't as long as I planned. Here's some pellet reviews of an arbitrary nature:
Wedding Crashers: Fun movie, felt a little long in places, Vince Vaughan is The Man, and Isla Fischer is gorgeous. Opposable thumb up.
Punisher: Pretty much what I expected, Rebecca Romijin-nolongerStamos is gorgeous, John Travolta didn't irritate me nearly as much as I feared, plus he died a horrible grisly death. Opposable thumb up.
Serenity: Knocked my socks off. Good effects, acting was superior to the Star Wars prequels, the plot didn't bog down too much, makes me want to track down Firefly and actually tune into the sci-fi channel for the first time in years. Two Opposable thumbs up!


Fine, you wanna have a rant?? Here's a rant. You know, Sesame Street's been pissing me off for years now. Forcing the Cookie Monster to cut back on cookies is just...inhumane! That pissed me off, yes, but an even more simmering anger lies beneath my surface. Where the hell is Grover??? All I ever see now is Big Bird & that soul-less freak Elmo. Who in Jim Henson's name is supposed to teach the kids of today the difference between "near" and "far?" Who is going to remind me, at great personal expense and risk, that there is a monster at the end of that book?! Who has a heroic alter-ego?? Certainly not that crimson idiot they're marketing everywhere. If they one day announce "Super Elmo" I will likely throw something through a TV.

And for that matter, whatever happened to whatshisface, Sully, the boring one? Honestly, he was so dull I can't even be sure that was his name. But damnit, he's got a right to have face time too! Ah, let's face it, he probably went and became clinically depressed and slouched off the set one day and was found dead in a hotel room in Yuma City with a bottle of Jack Daniels' Green Label whiskey on his nightstand.

But that two-headed guy who didn't make a lick of sense? He was awesome.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Kung Fu Hustle (And Flow)

Nope. Didn’t see Hustle & Flow, just Kung Fu Hustle, but I couldn’t resist mashing the two titles together. Kung Fu Hustle is a very, very interesting movie. The little advertising tagline on the dvd cover said something like “think Kill Bill meets Loony Tunes,” and, in a way that is true. It’s a very action-oriented movie with a lot of cartoony slapstick thrown in, and a lot of times its funny, but at others, its really kind of disturbing watching those situations using real people. Its hard to be cartoony when the characters bleed and get killed. Anyway, it’s a lot more serious than the cover would have you believe. Where the movie impresses the Hell out of me is in its whole concept and realization. Stephen Chow (the brains and main character behind this flick) has got one hell of an imagination. Kung Fu Hustle combines Chinese & Buddhist culture with 1920s American fashion and style. Its really quite interesting seeing nothing but Chinese actors walking around on retro sets using Tommy Guns. Also, the CG effects were quite good. Not “teh best evar!” but still really impressive (and better than Shaolin Soccer’s). So, final verdict: I dug Kung Fu Hustle, but liked Shaolin Soccer better. Both films are from Stephen Chow, and I’m sold on whatever he’s going to do next. I don’t care what it is, I’ll seek it out.

Also, watching a lightning storm from my rooftop makes me feel badass. That is all.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

But its just fiction!

Ok, I thought I had said enough about the bloody DaVinci Code, but something’s just rankling me about the franchise. Ok yes, religious groups have called for a boycott of the movie. Sure, why not, they can do that, no big deal. The response to that has been a loud cry of “but its just fiction, why are you getting all uptight about it? You silly religious people!” That makes me rub my temples for a little bit and sigh. Ok, yes, it is “just fiction.” I think we can all agree on that. However, it is a fictitious novel that bases its claims and information on “facts” that are suspect at best and outright disproved by historical evidence at worst. A non-fiction book, “Holy Blood, Holy Grail,” is given a lot of publicity and credibility by the characters of the book. Characters toss off lines of questionable historical authenticity as though they were common knowledge. So yes, the book is fiction because it revolves around characters that don’t exist (ie. Fictional) in events that didn’t happen (the curator of the Lourve hasn’t been murdered by a crazed albino). Just because a book is fiction, doesn’t mean it can go around contradicting historical facts. Tom Clancy fills his fictional characters with constant realistic touches about military equipment and doctrine. He does his homework meticulously. He doesn’t go around saying that Igor Sikorsky was not the first man to get a helicopter flying reliably.

Let’s get hypothetical. Say I want to write a fiction thriller. Completely fictional characters and plot. Let’s see, some schmuck gets murdered and its up to a, oh, I don’t know, political scientist to solve the crime. Now let’s say that this political scientist, our hero, says in a completely offhand manner, like it was absolutely true, that the Holocaust never happened. And he repeats this several times. No publisher would touch that book. There would be no summer “blockbuster” directed by Ron Howard. How can you possibly defend that kind of writing by saying “But its just fiction”? There is no such thing as “just fiction” and there never was.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Oh My Stars And Garters

So yeah, a little movie called X-Men 3 is out. Setting all kinds of Memorial Day box office records. I’ve seen it myself, and I’ve gotta admit, I’m torn. It wasn’t a bad movie as far as movies go. There was lots of action and explosions and mutant powers all over the place, but…
I came out of the movie feeling divided. Half of the plot/story/movie I really enjoyed, and half of it I absolutely hated. The good news: Ian McKellan’s Magneto is still a spot on charismatic yet ruthless villain. He’s still brilliant, and everything he says is gold. And they really let him go wild with his powers. Patrick Stewart is still the definitive Professor X, but he’s given less to do in this film. Hugh Jackman still owns the Wolverine part, but later on things get odd with him. I really enjoyed the Beast in the film. Much more than I expected to. Kelsey Grammer did an excellent job with him. The FX were also really, really good and there was lots of it, and there were a lot of fun little moments that brought a smile to my face.
But… (and I’ve been using those three dots a lot in connection with this movie) there was a lot of stuff in the movie that just felt off/wrong/dumb. The whole “Phoenix” plot I felt was completely mishandled and basically botched. Not good, considering that’s considered one of the best X-Men stories ever. Cyclops doesn’t do much at all in the movie, and Jean Grey kind of wanders around in a daze wearing a mopey/angry expression most of the time. A storyline that easily could’ve made a great movie in itself was completely wasted by being jammed into this one. But…the ending of X-2 kind of shoehorned the Phoneix storyline into this movie. The Cyclops stuff really did piss me off though, since he’s been my favorite mutant since forever, and I think that he’s just been completely mishandled in the movies anyway, but this was just a stupid use for him (and one that cripples the Phoenix plotline in the movie too). Halle Berry as Storm is still dull, dull, dull to watch. I didn’t mind her in X-1, I liked her in X-2, for some reason, I couldn’t stand her performance in this movie. And her haircut just made me giggle. Wolverine. Remember I said I liked Jackman’s portrayal, but the way the storyline panned out, they were giving him lines that were completely out of character. By the end of the movie I was sitting there thinking “Great, they’re writing Wolverine as Cyclops now. They why do (spoiler) to Cyclops?” Rogue disappears for most of the movie after being involved in a weakly played out love triangle that didn’t get enough time to develop. There’s not enough Colossus, though we do get the fastball special. Shadowcat’s just kind of there. Iceman has some great moments but is also underused. Oh yeah, and there’s no explanation for why Nightcrawler’s missing. They just never mention him. Juggernaut is not nearly the threat he should be, getting used for laughs instead of the unstoppable force he should be. Angel was barely in it, so I’ll barely mention him.
I’ll repeat. There were a lot of great little moments in the film. Unfortunately, there were a lot more big moments that fell flat for me, as both story afficionado and fanboy. The “Cure” plotline was great, and would’ve made for a great movie in itself that built up from the previous two. The “Phoenix” plotline should’ve gotten the full movie treatment it deserved and not been shoved in just because. The movie was rushed into production by the studio, changed directors at least once and is overall the weakest installment of the three X-Men movies. Its not a franchise killer like Batman & Robin. There are no rubber nipples in sight, but still, the X Movie franchise is starting to wobble disconcertingly. Of course if things go really south for them, they could just do what the new Superman movie is doing. Ignoring Superman 3 & 4 like they never happened. And a retcon (comic industry term) like that is probably the best chance we have of getting a Good Phoenix Saga movie.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Does Whatever A 2nd Unit Can...

Ok, so today (Monday) turned into a pretty pleasant day. Drove downtown in the afternoon to check out the filming of Spider-Man 3. A sizable stretch of East 9th St. was closed off and transformed into a makeshift New York City. Anything identifying Cleveland was taken down in the cordoned off areas, and stuff like signs for Columbia University were put up. Regular pedestrians (like myself) were allowed to walk along the street (since the stores and companies were still open for business), we just had to stay out of certain areas and couldn’t cross the street at times when the cars were driving by. They were rehearsing a quick driving scene when I was there. A station wagon drove along and pulled to a quick stop at an intersection, the camera truck made a big swerve (as if to avoid hitting something) and the extras along the street acted surprised and shocked. It was actually very cool to watch, and they rehearsed it a couple of times. Sometimes with a taxi involved, sometimes with some other cars. They even had a truck drive by and wet down the pavement to make it look like it rained or something. I don’t think I’m spoiling anything important to the movie. However, I feel invested in the movie now. I’m gonna be going into the theater and keeping my eyes open for it. Oh yeah, spoiler alert: There was a guy with a saxophone. Hope I didn’t ruin the movie for you. Don’t believe me?

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Pure Hollywood magic, baby.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Annual Rituals and Such

100 Girls is one fun little movie. If you haven’t heard of it, don’t sweat it; most people haven’t. Its not particularly well known, and didn’t do too well when it came out in 2000. But, if you haven’t seen it yet, I do recommend tracking it down. Basically the plot boils down to the story of Matthew, a college Freshman in search of his kismetic destiny after a one night stand in an elevator in a blackout. To do that, he’s got to go through an entire dorm full of women to find the one of his dreams, exploring the wacky nature of relationships. And there’s a lot of sex jokes along the way. I think its funny and watching it has become something of an annual ritual for me.

A little context might explain. I was introduced to this movie sophomore year of college at a time when there was a whole mess of drama going around and this movie just kind of put everything on hold for a little. It also provided more than its share of inspiration with the climactic soliloquy Matt gives to a dorm full of women expressing his love. It turns out, doing something similar doesn’t necessarily work in real life, but it sure is a confidence boost. What can I say? It was springtime, love was in the air…

But I digress. Ever since then, our little circle of college buddies has been quoting that movie and watching it annually whenever possible. Its not perfect, its probably not a classic, but damn if its not entertaining, and makes me sad that flicks like American Pie can spawn franchises while stuff like 100 Girls fades into near obscurity.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

April 16 (Happy Easter)

So I've got this hyperactive imagination that kicks in when I see something a little odd. You know those bumper stickers that say "Jesus is my Co-pilot"? Those are kind of odd aren't they? I mean, you kind of worry what would happen if the driver of that car were to all of a sudden take their hands off the wheel and let Jesus have a go for a while. It seems a little arrogant to think that Jesus would manifest himself in physical form to help you drive your car just so you can take your attention off the road to look for old Hardees wrappers. But then I got to thinking, what if Jesus really was driving with me, what kind of car would it be? I've decided that it would be one of those hot rod convertibles, probably white with red flame work. You know, Jesus would call me up in the afternoons, ask if I wanted to go to Arby's, and I'd say "Hell yes, I want to go to Arby's with Jesus!", and Jesus would be like "Sweet mang, I'll be waiting for chu outside," and he'd honk his horn from my driveway. Then I'd be like, "Oh you!" and I'd go outside and wave to him. I'd Say "Hey Zeus!" See, if we hung out all the time, I'd call him Zeus, since we'd be buddies and he'd get the irony of the play on the Hispanic pronunciation of “Jesus” which, if I have to explain it, isn't nearly as funny. So as I'm saying "Hey Zeus!" as I'm walking out to his car, he'd be smiling back at me, wearing some big aviator shades. Then he'd hit the hydraulics on his car. Vwww Vwww. So then I'd get in the car and we'd go cruising around town, we'd go to Arby's and order at the drive thru window, get some roast beef sandwiches and curly fries with root beer. The root beer's for me. I'm not quite sure what Jesus would drink, but it wouldn't matter, since he could transubstantiate it into whatever he wanted. And then, when we got about a block away, I'd look at my roast beef sandwich, and be like, "That's not what I ordered," and Jesus would look at me, wink and say "Oh yes it is," and I would look and say "Thanks Zeus!" Some of you are going, "I don't know about this. It seems blasphemous." and you're waiting for the lightning bolt to strike me, but come on, don't you think Jesus would be totally sweet to hang out with on the weekends. I mean, he'd probably be all generous and make a coffee table for you, and you'd be like, "Aww, Zeus, you shouldn't have." But he'd say, "You could use it my friend," and that would be the end of that debate, since he'd be right about the coffee table, since I could use one, but I didn't want to impose on him. Then we'd probably drive off to the park and play Frisbee golf, or something like that.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

April 13 (Anybody Want a Peanut?)

Its funny, I don’t think I can name a single person under the age of 30 right now who doesn’t love “The Princess Bride.” If there’s one movie my generation unquestioningly loves, that’s got to be the one. The worst I’ve heard about it is that someone heard from someone else that they thought only girls like that movie. But no, it is no chick flick. Oh sure, there’s romance and kissy stuff, but they cover that in a very meta sort of way in the framing sequences. The movie just has so much else going on that its impossible to pin it down to one gender demographic. Its got swordfights, razor sharp dialogue, rats of unusual size, peril, magic, death, miracles, footage of a Commodore 64 game on camera, shrieking eels, Columbo, Fred Savage and Andre the Frickin’ Giant. I never watched wrestling back in the day, but even I knew who Andre the Giant was. Seriously, what Transformers watchin’ kid is going to turn down watching Andre the Giant in his finest cinematic role ever? I didn’t think so.
And the movie’s aged really well, all things considered. Oh sure, some of the effects might look a little lame now (I’m looking at you giant rat) but overall its not bad in the context of when it was made. Bet you didn’t know the soundtrack was by Mark Knopfler, better known from Dire Straits (No, that’s not something I naturally know, it was on the DVD bonus features) Hell, if there were more “chick flicks” like this out there, male/female relations would be set forward 300 years or so.
Damn, all this writing about the movie just makes me wanna go watch it. Inconceivable!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Bamboo-zled (see, its supposed to be a pun...oh never mind)

Nothing much going on around these parts right now. Its starting to snow again in Ohio after a ludicrously pleasant January. Of course, being February, there isn't much for the sexy single male (or me) to do except batten down the hatches in preparation for the oncoming rush of Valentine's Day melancholy. Well not this year, ya hear me? This year I'm gonna be single and enjoy the hell out of myself on February 14th! Granted, I don't know what I'm going to be doing, but whatever, details!

Ok then, in other news, I saw 'House of Flying Daggers' tonight, a Chinese film about medieval tragic love and swordfightin'. I'll keep this short, so the rundown is this: There's a whole bunch of plot twists that I shouldn't spoil, the cinematography is absolutely gorgeous, it tends to drag in a few places, and there's fightin'. The fightin' I'll talk about because those are some of the best artistic scenes. There's an absolutely surreal sequence where an army of guys attacks the main characters in a bamboo forest (hence the title of this update). This is the only way I can really sum that fight up. Imagine that Cirque du Soleil went berserk and started throwing sharpened bamboo staves at the audience. It would kind of be like that. The other standout sequence is the duel at the end between two guys who are very, very pissed at each other, and then it starts snowing. Its epic, its got heart, and damn if it doesn't look cool.

Oh yeah, and there certainly are daggers thrown about with a vengeance in this movie.