Monday, August 29, 2005

For Those Who Know What A "Blivot" Is...

...I present to you... the Cincinnati Surprise!  For any interested parties, this is not how a good Christian boy would approach the situation.  (Not to be confused with the Cincinnati Meteor Shower.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

THIS Is The Sound Of Settling

Death Cab for Cutie's new album Plans is a little blah when compared to their previous albums.  I think there's a lot of great songwriting on display, and Ben Gibbard doesn't disappoint with his lyrics or his vocals, but Chris Walla's guitars don't seem to have made the trip from Barsuk to Atlantic.  It's disappointing that the irrepressible, declarative guitar riffs have been traded in for an inoffensive mixture of smooth bass lines, drum-machiney beats, and atmospheric electronics, an apparent missive towards the Garden State OST audience.  Interesting that the producer of the album would engage in such altruism by muting himself, especially when what's missing from the resulting sound, in my expert opinion, is his guitar.  Only "Crooked Teeth" has a riff that's even noticeable, never mind memorable (see "The New Year," "Why You'd Want To Live Here").  That doesn't mean torrents of blazing guitars or anything, but past albums have demonstrated that Walla can be both skillful and complementary without being invisible ("Title and Registration," "Blacking Out The Friction," "405").

Anyway, it's still too early to dismiss Plans as an inferior record, or a misguided departure, or an unbridled attempt to poach the mainstream Coldplay audience.  It has plenty going for it, specifically the songwriting (except on the damnable single "Soul Meets Body").  The highlights are probably the lead track, "Marching Bands of Manhattan," and the heartbreaking "I Will Follow You Into The Dark," which is as stunningly gutwrenching as a song can be without being depressing, and which will ultimately be one of the songs Gibbard is best remembered for. (Atlantic would be wise to place that song on a WB soap opera as soon as possible, because teenage girls will sob their eyes out when they hear it.)  But despite some of its achievements, Plans is a maturation away from something that I enjoyed, and still enjoy, a lot more.

I never thought I'd write this, but I'm a little curious as to what Pitchfork will say about it.  I smell a big-time (and undeserved) ass-kicking.  I set the over-under at 4.2.

Speaking of Pitchfork, read this.  Very interesting.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Alcoholics Anonymous, Here I Come

Last night I improved my time in the 750 mL Dash to approximately 2:15 hours, down from 3+ a couple of months ago.  This may not be particularly impressive, given the abilities of some of you winos out there, but for me this is a huge improvement in both speed and effortlessness.  Breaking the one-bottle barrier in the first place was a big step, but doing so without it being blog-worthy will be the real achievement.  Though before I proclaim any real greatness, perhaps I should upgrade to something more robust than a Beaujolais... maybe a Merlot or a Shiraz (though I don't have any particular affinity for them in general).  Additionally, I didn't even remember until now that I'd packed away a whole bottle.  This after a pretty productive day at work, so clearly I didn't feel any ill effects.  Maybe I can be an alkie after all...

Oh, and one other thing, since I'm talking about wine.  There's an Albarino I'm obsessed with, made by Pazo de Senorans (Spain)... it goes down so easily it's like you're drinking water.  If you see it, get it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

You Stay Uncensored, San Diego

The commentary on the Anchorman DVD is really hilarious.  Will Ferrell and co-writer/director Adam McKay spend the first 20-30 minutes ignoring the movie entirely, and just saying the most vulgar things they can think of because it's "unrated."  They'd be like "OK, now suppose we were to involve the sanctity of the Christmas holiday.  We all have warm feelings about Christmas, but let's just put this out there, you know, let's see if this one's got some wings: twelve shaven sacks of balls, all in a row, on Christmas."  It's not a commentary on the movie per se, but it does demonstrate the creative process behind the nutty non sequiturs Ferrell always seems to come up with.

I do have a serious problem with the DVD though, which is that most of the stuff they said got bleeped out.  Come on!  For example, "dick salad" made it through, but the word "cock" did not.  "Shitballs" is OK, but not "fuckstick" or "monkey cum."  On an unrated DVD.  How does that make sense?  The only rational explanation is that they censored it for comic reasons, because it would be funnier to have an artificial boundary to rub up against.  But that's stupid.  The funniest lines were butchered by the constant bleeping.  Considering the creativity of some of the ideas ("OK, now imagine a John Williams soundtrack playing in the background... very warm... and then just imagine, just try to picture twelve enormous cocks next to each other, coming one after another in slow motion") it's a real shame it wasn't left intact.  I'm now glad, as a matter of fact, that I bought a used Canadian version of the DVD through a private seller, instead of letting more Americans get rich off of this censored travesty.

I wish I had an uncensored version of the uncensored version.  If anyone out there knows how to hear the unedited commentary, I'd love to hear about it.

Sunday, August 14, 2005


Cialis is for sissies.

I have absolutely no idea what to think about this.  So many questions... why is his manager discussing his painful, persistent erection with the media?  Isn't it kind of embarrassing?  And if it won't go away, how can he act?  Does the director have to shoot him only from the waist up?

Friday, August 12, 2005

Man On Film

The Fantastic Four

It was fine.  I heard it was a waste of time, but I wouldn't quite say that.  It just wasn't memorable in any particular way.  The effects were good enough, but not that good.  I enjoyed the hijinks of Johnny Blaze and Ben Grimm, but the melodramatic comic-book acting wasn't much good... Jessica Alba is about as interesting to watch as a doorknob.  (Well, two doorknobs.  Hey-oooo!)  Victor Von Doom was sufficiently evil, but Dr. Doom wasn't.  I think Dr. Dooom would have been scarier to kids.  There weren't any amazing moments to counteract the groanworthy moments, but I'm feeling conciliatory today.  Nothing was bad enough to piss me off, so it was enjoyable.

I will say this, though: Fantastic Four will be ri-goddamn-diculous in 15 years, with all the "cool" extreme-sports shit that Johnny Blaze does.  This will not age well.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

I've Got A Good Mind To Go Home

If you had a good mind you wouldn't be here in the first place!

I admit it's work time, and I haven't watched this, but I will post it nevertheless, because they were the best part of the Muppet Show.  And how bad could it be?  (I guess we'll find out.)

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Top 10 Things I've Been Doing Since My Old Lady Came Back

A gentleman never asks; a lady never tells.

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

Many out there have lamented the new Tim Burton version because they loved the Gene Wilder version so much.  I don't argue with the warmness those people feel towards Wilder's best work, since he was so lovable that you couldn't help but give in to him.  Unfortunately, despite Wilder's acting job, the movie was made all wrong from the beginning.  It has very little of the Roald Dahl book's tone or intent, turning what had been revolting caricatures into sugary confections of Sesame Street-level "don't do that, kids!" lesson-learning.  Additionally, the Augustus Gloop scene deeply disturbed me when I was a child.  I still have trouble breathing when I see movies with people getting stuck in tight places like that chocolate tube.  I'll never forgive Mel Stuart for that shit.

The new version, though streamlined, is as Dahl as anything that has ever been brought to film.  We knew Burton and Dahl were made for each other, but to see the association come to fruition is truly marvelous.  The good are decrepit, the evil are grotesque, the elderly are crusty, the message is misanthropic, and the morality is absolute.  Willy Wonka is more the dark, mysterious weirdo imagined by Johnny Depp than Wilder's conveniently imperfect father figure.  The snowy, rowhouse-infested London of the new film is far preferable to the MGM musical-style London of the original.  Even before we get inside the factory, it's clear that we are certainly not in a wooooooorld of pure imaginaaaaaaaaa-tiooooooooon... we're in a weird, weird place, led by a weird, weird guy.  What a wonderful thing to make a summer tentpole film with such obvious contempt for, oh, 90% of its audience.  And I love the lengths to which Wonka goes in order to NOT comfort us about the naughty kids' safety.  It may not be Burton's best film, but it's certainly on the list of his most Burtonesque.

This year has been a nice Tim Burton one-two punch though, huh?  First we get Charlie, and in a month or two we get Corpse Bride.  It's like it's 1991 all over again.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Homework Assignment

Your task is to construct a three-person Boat Race team from any movie.  The restrictions are as follows:

* The characters must be live-action humans (Godzilla's illegal) with no help from prosthetics or fat suits (Mr. Creosote from The Meaning Of Life)
* They must be at their normal size during the boat race (no picking, for lack of a better example, the enormous baby from "Honey, I Blew Up The Kid")

The obvious choices I came up with are:

1. Super Troopers [Mack, Farva, O'Hagen]
2. Old School [Frank The Tank, Blue, and the fat kid]
3. Snatch [Mickey, Tyrone, and Bullet-Tooth Tony]
4. Bad Santa [Santa, the midget, and Bernie Mac]
5. Leaving Las Vegas [Nic Cage chugs all three]
6. Strange Brew [The MacKenzies and their father]

Actually, I don't think Team Strange Brew can be beaten.  Who could actually compete with them? Maybe this won't be as fruitful a discussion as I thought.