Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Being Open-Minded Is Fun

Today's entry in the contuining saga of my musical life, also known as Lifelong Indie Rock Hater Joins The Bandwagon A Couple Years Too Late, concerns KEXP's highly-worthwhile live performance streams.  Recent performances include New Pornos, Death Cab, Sufjan and Kasabian, but there's tons of good stuff in the archives.  Kasabian really impressed me.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Quick Recommendations

1. Wallace and Gromit.  Excellent movie.  On the one hand, I think the shorts are far more inventive, and the love interest & villain weren't all that interesting.  On the other hand, I could have watched Gromit react to things for another couple hours, regardless of who else was involved.  And there were some really funny gags.  The comic timing was as good as the puns were awful.  I don't find myself punning as often as I did in my youth, so to be immersed in vomit-inducing puns for 90 minutes was fun (the vegetable security team failed to "turnip" on time, and so forth).

2. Takk by Sigur Rós.  This album floored me.  It's the musical equivalent of a hurricane.  It conveys as much drama as an opera, without a single lyric in English.  They are the antidote to one of my favorite rants about current rock: whereas so many songs nowadays build towards a Good Part that never comes, failing to deliver on their promise, Sigur Rós delivers it.

3. You Could Have Had It So Much Better With Franz Ferdinand.  Unlike its predecessor, this album has some eminently skippable songs.  (The only reason Eleanor should put her boots on is to get away from that shitty song.)  But the original also sagged towards its conclusion, which is understandable after 11 essentially identical songs, and ultimately revolved around the desert-island single "Take Me Out."  You Could Have Had It So Much Better, on the other hand, finishes as strong as it starts, and features several distinctive, energetic, lovable singles, none of which overshadow the others.  On top of that, their drummer proves he can play more than one beat; having him shake things up from song to song gives each song much more personality.  It may not have the same white crunk sound that Kanye loved so much, but it's comfort enough to know that FF is more than the once-in-a-lifetime sound on their debut.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Out-Of-Context Remark Hall Of Fame

I was flipping around the dial in Princeton just now, looking for football, when I tuned in just in time to hear these words:

"The size of my bowel movements were inadequate, to say the least."

I'm not the first person to notice, either. Huzzah to you, Bowel Movement Size Infomercial Guy.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Tonight's Message Of Love

I only have one thought for tonight...



Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I Like TV, It Is Good For Me

I've never been one to follow a television show from week to week, watching religiously, investing myself in the characters, and so on.  Occasionally you'd get something like The Simpsons, or like Aqua Teen Hunger Force and the rest of Adult Swim, where I would watch all the time... but those are exceptions to the rule.  Fortunately, so much of what's on TV is garbage that I've managed to resist its charms.  The other day, however, I realized that I'm now planning social plans around TV shows.  That's never been a problem before, primarily because anyone I would ever want to socialize with would also be watching The Simpsons.  But the advent of episodes on DVD has helped me appreciate several shows that had slipped through the cracks.  So now I'm suddenly beholden to a handful of deserving shows.

So here's a list of shows that I like right now.

This show makes for AWFUL commercials.  I was turned off from watching it primarily because the commercials take everything out of context.  The show has great one-liners, memorable jokes, and all the other hallmarks of a great comedy, but you reeeeeally need to be in on the joke.  Lucille and Buster are probably the most easily identifiable jesters in the court, but Gob and Tobias and George Sr. (to say nothing of Uncle Oscar) take an awful lot of preparation before they become as funny as they are.  Gob in particular is just on a totally different wavelength; you need to alter your frequency to get it.  Case in point: I remember seeing a commerical where Gob dumps water on a row of female softball players' chests, and thinking "that's not that funny."  Of course, I laughed my ass off watching the softball episode on DVD last week.

I got into this after episodes started showing on Bravo.  Kind of a shame, because the show has become entirely tepid and typical over the last season-plus.  All of the charm, wit, and joy of the first few seasons is totally gone.  They've turned Josh from a happy-go-lucky lovable buffoon into a scowling, humorless, entirely unlikable smartass.

Has anyone else caught onto this show yet?  Hehe.  Another one I fell in love with on DVD.  Not much needs to be said on this, but I should say that a little Stewie goes a long way... unless we're talking about his sexy parties!

This show defies all attempts at descriptions beyond the TV Guide-friendly "food items solve mysteries," so I won't bother.  I haven't watched much of the most recent season.  I've seen "Gee Whiz" (with the epic "Standards and Practices" informational video), the first Mooninites episode, and the tongue-slicing hijinks of "Unremarkable Voyage" (that's sticking in my mind like Oldboy), but have not seen the return (again) of MC Pee Pants.  DVD comes out in December, so I'll check them out then... it's easier than staying up until midnight on a school night.

I haven't started watching this religiously... yet.  I've seen two episodes and loved them both.  Amazing stuff.  The DVDs are coming.

I'm also looking forward to getting into Nip/Tuck and The Wire, once they start pouring into my mailbox.  People also keep saying My Name Is Earl is a really special show, and I do enjoy the comedy stylings of Chasing Amy's Jason Lee.  But I don't think I can reasonably handle any more TV shows that I can't watch whenever I want.  This whole issue will come to a head if I ever have to share a TV with someone again, at which point I believe a TiVO or a PVR will be necessary.  But I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

Friday, October 14, 2005

SmarterMail: You Suck

In the last two weeks, I have had two gigantic, epic posts get eaten by my web mail application. Hours of my life... totally wasted. Therefore, I'm taking this opportunity to say that SmarterMail, by SmarterTools, absolutely sucks. Sucks, I say. Pages load in seconds, not milliseconds. And emails disappear for no reason besides their mandatory session timeout! It's not as if POP/SMTP is that attractive to me... I like having everything in one place without having to configure Thunderbird. That I was forced to do just that, and live with the consequences of separate locations for all of my email, sickens me.

I have to ask... Smarter than WHO? What kind of Special Olympic reject could your program possibly be smarter than? I'd like to meet this person, just to congratulate him/her for blowing my mind out the back of my skull. What a winner. Oh, wait, I know who it is: the CEO of SmarterTools! Who the hell could be proud of a program that eats people's work? Congratulations, retard, your product sucks.

By the way, I've done nothing but praise CrystalTech since I signed up for their hosting services. That shit's over. You want to get my word-of-mouth back? Stop endorsing this piece of shit with your business. It's embarrassing.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Monday, October 10, 2005

Hollywood Leak: Pre-Viz Footage For Next Batman Sequel

Turn ya headphones up!  I think someone should fund a network that shows this on repeat for 24 hours a day.  I think someone should start up a club in Manhattan that plays a dancehall remix of this song all night long, with the video shown on projector screens around the dance floor.  I think a plush toy that shakes and sings the song when you squeeze it would sell millions.  And I think General Mills should make the world's first "audio cereal" with little Batmans that bounce around in your milk to the tune of the song.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Movie Rundown

Not many posts lately. Not nearly as many posts as movies. Here's the rundown:


  • Good movie to see on the enormo-tron at the Uptown, especially with a belly full of pho. I've always felt that Antarctica is the ultimate exotic destination (seriously, what could be more remote?) so just seeing Antartica was interesting. When you add eminently-watchable penguins, you have a grand old time. My main problem is that
    The photography was really impressive... though I can't say the movie ever made me feel like I was seeing -80 degree weather. It did look perilously cold, but even that doesn't quite do it justice. But that's a minor beef.

    The rampant anthropomorphism, however, is a major one. I buy elements of the love story. I buy the biological urge to protect one's young. I buy the born chicks not wanting to leave their parents' sight. But I highly doubt that they feel the same kind of love that is evoked by Morgan Freeman's narration. He starts the film off by describing the film as, ultimately, "a story about love." That may be true. But the context of that love is completely different. A critic whose opinion I really respect sums it up best by saying, "this is a story about love the way that the story of a crack addict stealing to get more crack is about love of crack." But that's not how it's presented, so it's misleading.

    I still liked it though. Winged Migration is better, though, especially if you watch it with the French director's dubbed English narration. It reminds me of the Monty Python nature documentary sketch: "Here ve see a pantomime goose engaged in a life-or-death struggle vith Terrence Rattigan!"

  • The Hebrew Hammer

  • This was a fantastic idea, but didn't turn out that funny. There were a few really good parts (the "Africa" and "Star of David" binoculars were brilliant) but in the end it doesn't go any further with the Jewsploitation theme than, ohh, Mad TV would have gone. And the movie isn't very even... it plays out like a stitched-together list of scenes, a sum of parts instead of a whole. I respect that it was made for like zero money, but it shows.

    That said, Adam Goldberg (Dazed and Confused) is the perfect guy for the role, and the supporting cast (Judy Greer, Andy Dick, Nora Dunn and an unrecognizable Peter Coyote doing an incredible over-the-top Chebrew Chaccent) is excellent. I wish they had more to work with... it could've been a Jewish Undercover Brother. But it's not.

  • Oldboy

  • This movie floored me. But it requires a strong stomach, for so many reasons that I cannot share. To call this movie disturbing would be softening its blow. But it's a work of genius, a perfect meditation on the nature of revenge, from both sides of the vengeful act.

  • The Aristocrats

  • Boy, I wish I'd seen this one AFTER seeing Old Boy... I could really use some levity right now. In fact, once they start allowing us to legally edit our own cuts of movies on DVD, I'm going to splice the ending of Old Boy with Gilbert Gottfried's epic telling of The Aristrocrats at the Friars Club.

    This movie made me laugh harder than anything I've seen in a long, long time... that's saying something when this comes on the heels of four-star comedies like The Wedding Crashers, The 40-Year Old Virgin, and The Exorcism of Charlie Rose.

    The Aristocrats starts with a bang, maintains its breakneck pace for its entire running time, and comes to rest on Gottfried at the Friars Club. (Seeing the look on Rob Schneider's face was worth the ticket price.) I never stopped laughing, and was sorry when the movie ended. That said, I don't think we could have learned any valuable lessons about the joke itself from another 10 minutes of movie. We would have learned a great deal more about the participants, though. Either way, the DVD has the potential to be an all-time classic, as far as bonus materials go. They could probably fill up two discs with outtakes or extended conversations. You think I wouldn't drop a nut to see Robin Williams' version in its entirety?


    Miscellaneous hits from the past...

  • Layer Cake: Excellent gritty gangster movie. Not much of a laugh, exactly, but good movie. Daniel Craig kicks ass up and down the street.

  • Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind: Good Miyazaki. It's no Castle in the Sky, but it's up there with Spirited Away for sure.

  • Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story: Ehh. It had some good laughs, but it's basically three subpar Family Guy episodes. And any "uncensored" DVD that can't drop an F-bomb is no good with me. Four thumbs down.

  • Kung Fu Hustle: It wasn't quite what I expected. Fun, but I think I need to watch it fresh, now that I know what the whole "butterfly" thing is about.