12.27.2008

Lady and the Clamp

Last night I attended a post-christmas pre-new-years-eve party with Beth. It was being held over at my sister-in-law's home and was accompanied by a host of very tasty, at times even fancy, treats.

Now anyone who knows me also knows that I don't often react well to anything fancy. If the bow doesn't have a clip-on, then chances are it's going to end up tied around my head like a bandanna. Luckily, the food was delicious, but I ran into a problem when Beth and I wanted to try the pizza-like dish covered in delectible feta cheese. This particular entree was prepared on a thin crispy crust, one that would easily crumble upon the first bite.

Unsure of what to do in this situation, Beth and I decided the best course of action would be to eat it "Lady and the Tramp" style, with her starting on one end and myself on the other. This method would ensure tasty satisfaction for both partners, while also providing an endearingly sweet moment to share.

As she lifted up the pizza we both leaned forward and began to sink our teeth into the crispy episcenter of delicious cheeziness. Expecting a certain toughness to the crust, I was about to bite down as hard as possible when I experienced a warm and slightly rubbery texture in my mouth. Looking up, Beth's wide painful eyes met mine, and at that moment I realized I was not about to eat pizza, but was actually in the midst of gnawing off my girlfriend's finger.

Luckily, I stopped myself in time before I broke any skin, but not before we both ended up crying in a strange mixture of laughter, and in her case, pain.
It truly is a wonderful life.

12.18.2008

Floating Hair Monster

I witnessed this inter-dimensional flying hair monster summon itself from the nether world whilst at my girlfriend's apartment. I have the feeling these beasts are going to start showing up everywhere. Sick. On the bright side, I don't think it has teeth, just lots and lots of hair.



The good news is that it seems to have fallen comfortably onto her pillow, where I assume it will remain. Either that, or it'll excrete some sort of unearthly dark matter. One way or another, I'm not going to be the one cleaning it up.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

12.17.2008

It's Exam Week

And I'm only one man.
So posting might be a tad light this week.
Sorry.

Oh but hey, it looks like the best movie ever is coming along nicely...

mmmhmmm.

12.13.2008

Keeping Up With the Chimes

The Biola Chimes, that is.
In case you don't know already, I have a new article up.

You can read it by clicking this text right here, right now.

This week it's about online gambling.

Yahtzee!

I don't know if they have online gambling in the form of Bingo, but if they do, MAN I am ON that.

12.12.2008

Toot My Own Horn



The above is a schematic from a patent (US patent US4429685 to be exact) by Timothy Zell for a surgical procedure which magically, and by "magically" I mean kind of "insane-mad-doctor-ly," turns a goat into a Unicorn. Except this Unicorn clearly would not be a horse.
it would be, like, a Unigoat. But is that such a bad thing?

Well, yes, if you actually plan on doing something like that to an animal.
We here at the Awkward Unicorn don't promote the surgical implementation of horns without expressed written consent. Otherwise it's sticking to rolled up newspaper and superglue on the forehead.

Now if you excuse me, I'm going to try and catch our cat Stiggy.

12.11.2008

Chirstmas Time (It's Practically Already Here)

This is what you get when you google "Christmas" and Hamster" in the same sentence.



Why would I do such a thing?
Because the deadline is coming up for the "World's Largest Christmas Gift Exchange," and right now it isn't so much as "large" as it is "reasonably sized."
You need to get in on it.
And then get all your friends in on it.

Sign Up Here For the World's Largest (uber) Christmas Gift Exchange Ever!

I suggest you stand by the water-cooler and casually mention it. All day long.

12.10.2008

This Is How I Treat My Cat

If you're going to pet a cat, you must learn to BECOME the cat.



Stiggy spent last night gnawing at my toes. What was cute at first turned into blinding pain within seconds.

12.09.2008

Meeting the Neighbors

I've been living in an apartment for about seven months now, so I suppose it's about time that I started meeting our neighbors. Up to last night the only notable interaction we've had with any outsiders have been listening in on fights between crazy people, that one evening where the apartment below us smelled like a hamster cage, and a few weeks ago when I walked past the guy who lives next door as I came down the stairs and he mumbled something along the lines of "howgoin?" Fortunately, last night a friendly fellow approached Jon and I as we basked in the greatness of the community hot-tub. Although I don't remember his name, he politely introduced himself after asking if we left the outdoor grill on. We hadn't, but luckily this served as a fantastic opportunity for our neighbor to grill up a few savory meat strips.
While they simmered, he struck up a conversation with Jon and I which began ruminating on his old smoking days, then turned to the lack of women roving around the apartment complex, then the joy of children, the pain of his ex wife, maybe wives, and then finally turned to his various motorcycle mishaps.
While turning the meat, Jon briefly questioned the man's sanity, but finally we settled on the fact that he was simply a nice, slightly drunk, and maybe a little unbalanced, older man. We liked him. Jon even accepted the man's offer of a bite of grilled steak.
I myself have not only made it a goal, but a rule regarding my own self preservation to not accept strangers meat, under any circumstances, especially when I'm in a hot-tub. It's not that I don't trust him, it's just a principle that has gotten me 21 years ahead in my life. Is that so wrong?

Cute Aminal of The Day

Mexican Walking Fish.
Mawwwwwww....



This is what I imagine would happen if the Cloverfield monster and a Pokemon had a baby.
Pure bliss.

12.08.2008

Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist - Review



Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist
***--

So it turns out that while I was watching Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist, my roommates were repeatedly calling me to join them directly afterwards to watch Max Payne in the same theater. I didn't get the message. Yet, somehow, between the two movies, one focused on teen romance and one focused on a non-stop killing spree, I'm fairly certain that Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist remains the more rewarding of the two.

This latest teen joy-ride stars Michael Cera and Kat Dennings respectively as Nick and Nora, two high-school students who, despite being in the same circle of friends, have somehow never met. Nick has just been dumped by his trashy, "How did he ever go out with that girl in the first place" girlfriend. Naturally, after Nora unwittingly gives Nick a kiss of passion to stick it to his ex, the two are pushed together by Nick's friends, a group of homosexual teens riding in a van. Click click, match match.

By this point I wasn't entirely confident in the film. I didn't feel as though I was watching a group of teens as much as I was watching what a collection of concerned parents would imagine their teens to be like on a night out, or, more importantly, how MTV would like teens to be like on a night out. Somehow, and I could be wrong in this, I found the van full of gay boys to be a charming, but unrealistic portrayal of the younger homosexual community, the teens non-stop night drive without a single parental influence (call, run-in, or mention) to be an apparent ideal, but also a completely unrealistic occurrence, and the kids apparent ability to get ahold of alcohol so easily somewhat surprising. Maybe it's just New York, but I doubted it would ever turn out like this.

However, eventually that doubt began to wain. Eventually I began to grasp the over-active stimulus as just part of the unique universe of Nick and Nora. Really, this is all due to the characters, who manage to be thoroughly likable despite what our interactions with the real-life versions may be. In reality, they're hipsters. They pride themselves on the bands they "discovered," and avoid the popular trends that hit mainstream. Throughout their night journey they track down clues to find a mysterious band named "Where's Fluffy?" a group so popular that apparently every level of the high-school hierarchy is obsessed with their music. Again, I kind of doubt this. Indie-bands remain so for their decidedly select appeal. Let's be honest here, no matter how much they should, not everyone loves Devendra Banhart (who actually have a fantastic cameo). Still, as a narrative device it keeps them moving, and when push comes to shove their shift in priorities begins to reveal enjoyable, charming, and undeniably sweet characters. I liked the time I spent with them.

They don't quite have the charming innocence of Ferris Bueller (there is a gut-wrenching scene involving a toilet and a piece of gum), but towards the end Nick and Norah actually manage to find a sense of relational profundity. It exceeded my expectations, however admittedly low they were, and replaced my doubt in the hipster crowd (which I might very well be part of) with an assurance of the bonds between people. I eventually didn't feel as though Nick and Nora were more "matched" than they actually fit, and it felt right. For the sake of the moral purity of middle-school kids and teens (if there is such a thing) I probably wouldn't recommend it. I think I'm going to want my future kids to at least call me before they go to a gay Christmas pageant to retrieve their drunk friend. For the rest of you though, who actually can remember some of the indie-bands mentioned, I say you give it a go.

12.04.2008

Forward

I wasn't really sure if none of my mail was getting through, or if nobody was sending me anything, but after a few weeks I asked around and decided to call my friendly post office for assistance.

"Post Office"
"Oh hi! I actually live just up the street and I was calling because none of my mail has seemed to come through to me in the past couple weeks."
"And why is that?"
"...Um, well, I guess I was kind of hoping you guys would know. The people in charge at my apartment building said that the new mailman didn't have my name down as living at this apartment and was returning my mail to the post-office."
"Why would they tell you that??"
"...I, uh, well I don't know. I assume because that's what's happening."
"Where did you move from?"
"I'm from Washington D.C."
"And you live in Huntington Beach."
"Yes."
"Do you live in this apartment?"
"Yes."
"Did you put in a forwarding request?"
"Yes. Wait. No-"
"If you didn't put in a forwarding request then your mail won't be forwarded."
"No, that's not the problem. I'm not getting the mail coming to me from-"
"When did you put in the forwarding request?"
"-No, you don't-"
"When did you put in the forwarding request?"
"No, wait."
"When did you put in the forwarding request?! WHEN DID YOU PUT IN THE FORWARDING REQUEST?!"
"I DON'T NEED MY MAIL FORWA-"
"We're going in circles here. If you didn't put in a forwarding request your mail from DC won't get to you. If you just want mail from next door then put a note in your mailbox for the mailman telling him you live there."
"Oh, alright."
"Okay."
"Thanks for the-"
*hangs up*

And that was my annoying social interaction for the day, speaking with a total D-bag post-office lady.

Seize the Day

It's early for me. That means it's before noon. And I'm tired.

So far there hasn't been much to write about today. Although I must say, this morning I followed a convertible on the way to work, and it had a license plate with the letters spelling out MR HSTRY. Next to it were two bumper stickers. One said "I THINK, therefore I'm dangerous" and "When you invite people to think, you are inviting revolution."
So I essentially met a high-school history professor who whispers "Carpe Diem" into his student's ears and does cool things like tear pages out of his required text books and teach by standing on top of his desk.

Since we're on the topic of History, I'm going to go off topic again so that I can show you my collection of messed up stuff I found online from Japan. I bet you have no idea what's going over there right now. I'm sure even if you lived in Japan, you still wouldn't understand. But let me ask you this: do you really need to?
When you have the opportunity to see a woman in a bear costume dance while wearing a backpack with a group of school-children, do you really need to ask questions?
No. No you do not.



It's not nearly the most confusing thing to come out of Japan. Frankly, I assume everyone in that culture regularly dresses themselves as bears.
No, what might actually be confusing, on a number of different levels, is the apparent success of the male bra industry in their country.
I could post the ad picture below, but frankly, it makes me feel slightly uncomfortable, maybe even a little jealous.

Shamefully, I missed the Japanese cultural past-time of cramming 2 kilograms of mochi into the backpacks of tiny school-children and then forcing them to run a race.



It might be the most depressing family activity in existence.
Hilariously depressing.

Finally, if you're still wondering what I'm going to send you as my annual Christmas card, well, here you go. Squid postcards.



In case your still not satisfied, here's a Red Panda eating berries.
Simple, yet cuddly.

12.03.2008

Life In America: Black Friday and My New Wii Pajamas

Yes. I did take part in the Black Friday festivities this year. And it was GLORIOUS.
While most people waited diligently in front of Target (at 5 a.m.) for their GPS doo-dads, I meanwhile had bigger fish to fry.



That's right. I got myself a pair of Wii pajamas.
And now you can read all about them in my latest article for the Chimes. Hooray!

Would you kindly click the linky?
http://chimes.biola.edu/opinion/2008/dec/02/life-america-black-friday-and-my-new-wii-pajamas/

12.02.2008

Dinosaur Sightings

Some might say the best dinosaur is the lovely Stegosaurus, the dreaded T-Rex, or the shameful, shameful Ankylosaurus.
Personally, mine is the one you can find along the 10 Highway, right after you hit the windmills coming over the mountains into LA.

The first time I saw them I had already traveled 5,000 miles or so from Washington D.C. Somehow I hit them just in time to get my picture snagged by a photographer of the LA Times.



I'm not really sure how it happened either, but it's definitely one of my favorite stories to tell.

They're the Cabazon Dinosaurs, and if they look familiar it might be because you saw Pee-Wee Herman hideaway in one while on his own big adventure.



Or glimpsed at in an Oasis music video.



They've been around for a while, about 40 years, and like most kitschy tourist traps, you can occasionally count on finding them mostly abandoned.

They were, after all, constructed out of spare parts from the Interstate 10. To top it off, supposedly the paint on Rex was done by one of the owner's friends in exchange for one dollar and a case of Dr. Pepper.

Few people really seem to care that these massive beasts are stranded in the middle of the desert, but somehow they keep popping up in the most unexpected places.

I mention this because my dad just took a snapshot of one on the side of a bus while in DC.



How it got there and ended up holding a television, I'll never know.

Chainsaw Gun

Hey, remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned the charm, wonder, and thoroughly unnecessary concept of a gun with a friggin chainsaw attached to it?
Good news. Some guy in the southern backwoods has turned it into a reality.



God bless America.

There are a number of wonderful things to notice in this video.
Primarily the fact that this man is clearly videotaping himself, alone, probably in his backyard, shooting and viciously chopping pumpkins, halloween jack-o-lanterns, with his makeshift "chainsaw bayonette."

Sir, you can't see me now, but I'm sitting in front of my monitor giving you a slow clap of approval.

I can't wait for that moment within the next ten years when we eventually get to have robot soldiers armed with these chainsaw-guns and realize it was a horrible, horrible mistake.

"I can see about ten spots on here that don't have chainsaw guns mounted to it."

It's going to happen. Oh yes. It's going to happen.

12.01.2008

The Post Where I Talk About Videogames

If there's one thing I love more than Arizona green tea, it would have to be videogames. Even as a young lad, whilst I played Turrican on my brother's Sega Genesis, I knew this was how I'd lose countless hours, nay, DAYS, of my life.

But then again, videogames have also brought me much turmoil.

Recently, I was grazing the shelves at my local thrift store when I came across an old Sega Genesis with a price tag of five bucks.

I knew I had a choice. Eat tonight, or buy a game system I knew I would probably use once and never bother using again. Realizing that the system came with a copy of Cool Spot (a video game that shamelessly starred a long deceased promotional icon from 7Up soda bottles), the choice was practically already made for me.



The second I plugged it in/blew vigorously into the game cartridge, I remembered the most frustrating part about the early days of videogaming; they're essentially impossible to beat. You're given three lives, no saves, and if you ever plan on actually beating what you started you'll probably also have to plan on leaving the system on for a few days so that you don't have to start over from the very beginning again.

Now, a lot of things have changed. Videogames have stories, characters, even a philosophical outlook on the world. Admirers of the 2007 game Bioshock will occassionally give rants on the troubles associated with objectivism and the ideology of Ayn Rand. For the most part, they're still just distractions, but sometimes something genuinely different apears.
Games have managed to find their way into the art world, as in the case with Jason Nelson, a poet and artist who has spent much of his time creating online games such as This Is How You Will Die and his most latest i made this. you play this. we are enemies.

But then again, many things haven't changed at all. Games will still be grounded in the absurdly violent, the absurdly sexual, the absurdly cute, or all of the above as a means to provide unadulterated entertainment.

This year the Wii is still on the list of "highest in demand" for the holidays, and the Playstation 3 remains the proverbial "Booster" to Nintendo's "Turbo Man."



How antiquaited all this will seem in a few years, months, or weeks, will most likely astound me. In the meantime I'll prepare myself to one day reminisce about scratched disks, flashing red rings, and the long nights I spent with Halo.

11.30.2008

I Want To Snuggie With You

Just take it all in.



Man, life is tough. It's cold, it's busy, and if I want to use a blanket I have to go through the trouble of reaching my arms outside of the blanket.
It's a sick world we live in.
But suddenly a hole in my life was filled when I saw the infomercial for Snuggies, "the blanket with arms!"

Some might question why we need this invention, or how exactly it's different from a shawl/mumu combination. The answer? This one can help you take part in such incredible activities as:

"Use the Remote"
"Read a book"
"Enjoy a snack"
or apparently play backgammon with your girlfriend.

Amazing. I used to be helpless in my blanket, incapable of finding my arms in the midst of the sea of fabric. But now that I've discovered a blanket with holes, it's as though I'm seeing music for the very first time.

They also take the liberty to inform us near the end that it's "great for college." I'd say. If there are two things my roommates hate, it's not being able to hold the remote while encased in a blanket and looking ridiculous. Thankfully, the Snuggie takes care of both of these problems by dressing us like Buddhist monks.

Now if I could only combine it with the Hoveround...

11.27.2008

Let The Right One In - movie review

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Let The Right One In
*****

If we're going to talk ages, 12 isn't a great number to be. 12 is an age of emotional purgatory, where an individual is no longer a child, yet not quite an adult. It's a period in the midst of transition. I think we can all agree it's no age for an individual to spend a lifetime. In the case of Eli however, it's potentially the rest of her eternity. For Oskar, it's just torture. Let The Right One In is perhaps the most effective portrait I have seen depicting young adolescence and the unexpected discovery of new love, only this time it's between a very young man and a vampire.

The life of Oskar, a twelve year old boy living in the Swedish town of Blackeberg, is a life that resides in the virtual crevasse between two divorced parents. His only primary social interaction is that instigated by a team of bullies. He is essentially alone in his middle-school world, that is until one day when he meets the mysterious girl who moved in next door.
Eli exhibits a sort of ethereal quality in the fact that she merely exists. Her pale complexion almost glows, and the cold air condenses as it escapes her every word.
She tells Oskar that he can't be her friend. Naturally, a relationship begins to bloom. Let's just hope Eli's unquenchable thirst for blood doesn't get in the way.

Subtlety is the fabric that holds this film together. There is hardly a method to fully explain the intricate storyline, especially the relationships between the characters, without going through the entire story from beginning to end. This film is one that doesn't fear it's viewer asking questions, in fact, it practically dares them to. It's one to talk about. What exactly is the relationship between Eli and her elderly caretaker? Is that fatherly concern in his voice when he tells her not to meet that boy, or is it something else? What kind of a man is Oskar going to turn into? For that matter, exactly what kind of creature is Eli?

There is a lot of depth here, along with meaty substance. Adapted from the Swedish novel of the same name, the film version of Let the Right One In will only reveal what is necessary for the viewer to know. John Ajvide Lindqvist, author of both the original novel and the screenplay, understands that the "how" in this case is not as important as the "who." Who these characters are and the way in which they might mature (or stay the same) is where the emphasis is placed.

It also helps that this is one of the most visually striking films I've ever seen. Eli inhabits a jungle gym with a ghostly charm. Oskar touches the window with his warm fingers. Moments are captured on film, and within these moments entire conversations are expressed without a single word. Two hands, one hot and one cold, delicately touch each other in the snow. Meanwhile, the camera follows it's prey with a surreal, calm, hovering motion. The final shots, entire scenes, will no doubt be part of film history.

Let the Right One In is a haunting experience, an unforgettable experience. It flutters beyond the description of horror or drama. At the same time it maintains an overall sweetness. It delves into the anatomy of all relationships, young and old. It ends not just with a bite, but the word "kiss." It really is one of my new favorite movies.

11.26.2008

Take Me Literal

For some reason beyond me, I never posted the additional "literal music videos" that popped up a few weeks ago.

In case you didn't see them, well, now you finally can.



Do they match the greatness of Pipe-wrench Fight? Probably not. But then again, what can?
Still, they're pretty great.



People need to make more.

Day one

When my father said that my mother had been stabbing him with a pen, my initial thought was, “Well, what kind of pen?” Was it a bic? Was it one of those pointy fountain pens? What if it was felt-tipped, would that really be worth complaining about? Not once did the situation seem out of place for me, and it was this realization which confused me most.

My mother denied the entire pen-stabbing incident took place, and although I believe she doesn’t remember the act, I do somewhat doubt why on earth my father would make up the story of being stabbed with a pen, of all things. After all, just add one word, and a “pen-knife” stabbing incident would make so much more sense.

I wasn’t there to witness the act, however, I was awoken from my brief nap to my mother running down the stairs and screaming that my father was “trying to kill” her. This was because the method of keeping track of all of her chemotherapy pills, by writing them down on napkins, was thwarted when none of said napkins were thrown out. My mother, whose memory has been affected by the mixture of medication and over-activity, simply cannot keep track. My father, according to my mother, cannot be trusted. Any pill mix-up is potentially a disaster. So to my mother, a swift pen stab is probably within her realm of reasoning. It’s also within my fathers realm of reasoning to leave whenever he might get stabbed by a pen.

So, after arriving from a red-eye flight and going without food for a significant period of time, I had the task of figuring out which pills my mother had already taken, and which ones she still had left to take. This process is harder than it sounds.

In the midst of this I decided to pet my cat Furball. In some ways, I’d say I missed her more than anything else in the city. As I reflected on this she quickly swiped a paw at my face. Recoiling backwards, I felt the hot sensation of liquid running over my lips. I grabbed a napkin and realized it was blood.

I had to go to the store to buy supplies: a bar of soap and digestive pills. I stepped outside and breathed in the freezing air. I tried to zip up my jacket, but in the darkness it became caught on something.

I went to Giant, a store we’d call Albertsons in the West, and grabbed what I needed. On the way to the checkout a girl recognized me, and it took me a moment to realize it was someone I once had a crush on in high school. I wondered what she would think of me now, in the midst of my West Coast accomplishments. I could even mention my girlfriend, maybe rub it in a little.

Then I caught a reflection of myself in a cardboard shaving stand.

I hadn’t shaved in three weeks. My hair was brushed straight up. My jacket zipper, which I thought was caught, was only partially holding on to the other side, forming a sort of bizarre cape. In one hand I was holding a box of “Smooth Moves” laxatives, and the wound on my lips had re-opened. It looked like I got in a knife fight at a retirement facility.

I didn’t make a great impression.

Later that night I called Beth on the phone. She sounded happy and relaxed, and I felt better. I felt as though D.C. wasn’t as hard of a place to be in anymore. I felt as though I had something I never had before. She told me about her day, and I told her about mine.

11.25.2008

Of Scientologists and Hoverounds

I'm not sure exactly how the name "Hoveround" is supposed to be pronounced, or if it's actually two words cleverly mashed together with a shared "r", but after seeing their latest commercial featuring the latest line of automated wheelchairs, I was blown away.



The commercial begins simply enough, with elderly folks seemingly abandoned at the statue of liberty, and yes, the middle of the God-forsaken desert. Then something magical happens...

That's right, the brilliant mastermind Tom Kruse appears on screen.

Now, I must say, I have been a long term admirer of the work of Tom Kruse. After all, Collateral is one of my favorite movies. With that said, the guy has a lot to make up for. Such as Vanilla Sky.
Finally, after all these years, Tom Kruse appears not as an actor, but as an inventor. Had I known he developed the Hoveround, or that the Hoveround even existed, I would have promoted the product endlessly. Now I can.
At the same time, I must say that I'm actually a little worried about Tom Kruse. Clearly, from his appearance in the commercial, the man has put on a few pounds, dyed his hair brown, and looks virtually nothing like the way he did in Mission Impossible, Top Gun, Minority Report, or Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey. But then again, it must be hard to maintain that figure while making movies AND inventing hover-wheelchairs all day.
Maybe the guy needs to cut down on his use of E-meters.
Then again, I don't know. I'm not a doctor.

11.22.2008

Right Now

I'm in Oakland California. If you're wondering why, it's because I'm in the middle of a connecting flight to D.C. for thanksgiving break.
There are a lot of really important things I learned today, and one of them is that Oakland California is a place that actually exists. I've heard of it before, but now I know for certain. Oakland is in fact, a real life location. It's also further North, and is cold.
I wish I could tell you more about this place, but all I know is what I have managed to gather since walking into the terminal. There are pictures on the wall of snowboarders, so I assume there must be winter sports held in the area, although I could be mistaken. What I do know, however, is that the Starbucks next to my gate is closed. Although I don't drink coffee, I take this to mean that Oakland is a town of simple folk who carefully limit their caffeine intake. Good for them.
Here is their state flag:

Is it a green tree? or a massive nuclear explosion?
The mystery continues, yet I say it's the latter.

Perhaps a random quote from Wikipedia can shine a light on this dilemma...

120 murders recorded in 2007 made Oakland's murder rate third highest in California, behind Richmond and Compton; however, Oakland suffered rape and robbery rates per capita that were almost twice those of Richmond and Compton, making Oakland's violent crime rate the highest overall. In the Morgan Quitno's "Most Dangerous Cities of 2007," Oakland was ranked 4th most dangerous in the nation behind Detroit, St. Louis, and Flint, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd most dangerous cities in the nation, respectively.


Hmmm. Yeah. Nuclear explosion. Most definitely.

11.21.2008

Burn After Reading - movie review



Burn After Reading
**---

I didn't really know what to think. My thought process after watching Burn After Reading, the latest film from the Coen Brothers, paralleled that of the infamous clown from the Simpson's, who, after narrowly escaping an approaching tank, tragically had his massive inflatable butt popped. "I'm alive" Sir Wide Bottom said, "but why?"

I just don't know.

There's a lot to like in Burn after reading. Bradd Pitt steals the show as a charming, if not over-zealous, bike riding enthusiast. George Clooney plays his part as a lethal womanizer with a strange mixture of ignorance and innocence in equal parts. Even John Malkovich, in his self-indulgent obnoxiousness, somehow manages to be likable in a crazy jack-nicholson-in-the-shining kind of way. Virtually every character is worthy of screen time. The problem is what that screen time amounts to.

The film is a little over an hour and a half, and beginning with a slow roll the picture begins to pick up speed. Connections are made, situations complicate, and predictably, people start to get killed.

Joel and Ethan Coen have in their previous endeavors exquisitely displayed their penchant for gruesome executions of their characters. It doesn't matter whether they're making a comedy, a tragedy, or something in-between, somebody eventually gets thrown into the proverbial wood chopper. They're destined for it. But there is something undeniably unnerving about the swift touches with death in Burn After Reading. When the blood suddenly splatters, and the fellow gets carved, there is a sense of heartlessness exhibited. It is directed towards not only the characters, but the audience as well. There are no heroes in this picture, but at the same time no one specifically deserves to die.

Funny Games, a film I have trouble recommending yet consider one of the finest I've seen, questioned what it is we look for in our story-telling. Ultimately, it's what we want out of life; for good to overcome evil. Burn After Reading features neither of those qualities. There is only a pervading sense of evil, and not much untainted good. There is a sense of what is wrong, but no tether to what should be right. It is an unflinching look at a society imprisoned by it's own fear and paranoia. You'll find yourself laughing, but you won't feel very good about it.

11.20.2008

Good Day to Post Online Videos

Ladies and gentlemen, behold.
Cat riding a Roomba.



Stick a cone onto that baby and we'll be working with gold.
Liquid gold, I say.


You think that's all for today. No. No, my friends. We still have these charming young folks who combine bike riding with guitar hero. Although I can't watch it with sound (I'm actually in the middle of "computer science class" right now) I'm rather certain this is uber-epic.



Well that's it.

That's all the best videos on the internet.
I suppose you should just turn off your computer now, pull the plug, pick it up, and drop it into a trash can.
I just can't imagine anything topping that.
Nothing.

Yep, we must be done heeerrrrrrrreOH MY GOSH THAT MONKEY'S RIDING A SEGWAY!!!



Japan you've done it again.

Posting More Frequently

I need to make more posts.
Here.

The LACMA apparently had a dead unicorn on exhibit a few days ago.
Sad. But beautiful, no?



Meanwhile, in Japan, more train-stations are hiring animals to be station masters.
such as this pup below:


and this scary looking stray cat:



In related news, the new cat at my apartment is quite adorable.
Anthony and Jon named him "Stiggy" after the Top Gear character "The Stig."



The sad news is that I'm horribly allergic to the Stig. I'm not entirely sure why, because my previous weekend spent with two dogs and three cats left me right as rain. In the meantime it's probably best if I keep myself from petting our new furry roommate, and I don't mean Micah. It's a tough situation for me considering how much I love furry animals. So I might need to buy handcuffs and chain myself to the bathroom sink, you know, for my own protection.
I made the mistake last night of giving Stiggy some petting and pretty much felt as though I was dying. A woman at Stater-Bros looked at my tearing-red eyes and seemed genuinely concerned for my health.
I'll manage.

11.18.2008

Adventures in Los Angeles

This past weekend I got to go on a field trip for my LA Literature class to downtown LA. Why? Because. That's why.
It was fun. But with that said, Let's never go there again.

I got to stay up pretty late last night and edit together a little montage of the evening we spent cruising around the ghetto. I'm not sure exactly how much fun it will be for you to watch, but heck, it's something to post on ye ole blog, right?
Enjoy.

11.17.2008

NEW CAT!!!

We own a new cat.
Anthony got him this weekend while I was away.
Naturally, when I got home last night, I immediately went searching for it. Eventually I discovered that it was hiding inside of it's comfy cat carrier, a cat carrier with two holes inconveniently smaller than both my arms. I tried grabbing it, but my eager hands were only met with loud purring noises. I soon realized that pulling out the cat quickly was an impossible task, but never fear. For you see, I have a clever mind (clever as a cat some might say), so I flipped the cat carrier on it's side and started shaking it until something furry fell out.
That was when I met my new kitty companion.

He's a charming black cat with a hip attitude. I call him Basil, but I'm pretty sure I'm alone in that assertion.
I will post pics soon.

In the meantime, enjoy this cat related article I wrote for the Chimes last week.
It wasn't posted on their website for some reason, but who am I to judge?
I pasted it after the following video of a cat with a neck cone.



Kitties at Biola
Zach Newcott

You might not know this, but there are wild animals at Biola. They’re small, fluffy, have whiskers, and to be specific, they’re cats. But there’s something troubling about these animals, mainly in the fact that they won’t let people, and by people, I mean me, pet them. What’s the deal? I’m not big. I’m not threatening. I can’t even convincingly give a high five without holding my hand afterwards in agonizing pain. So why won’t these cats let me even touch them? Come on.
Now, some people might look to me and say, “Zack. Let’s be honest here. You don’t want to pet a wild animal. They’re dirty, probably rife with diseases, and you’re allergic to animals anyways.” To those people I say, “Don’t spit in a bucket and call it a sundae!” I like animals. Sure they make my eyes water, my throat close up, and cause me to sneeze until I pass-out, but they’re furry. If I fancy taking a puppy and rubbing it against my face, then I will do as I so desire. This is America. If I want to scare a kitten by briefly placing its head in my mouth while saying “OM NOM NOM,” I can, have, and will do so. That is precisely why Obama is our president.
It’s our duty as human beings to be caretakers of the animal kingdom. After all, does not the Bible ask of us, “Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon? Or asked the grinning bobcat why he grinned? Can you sing with all the voices of the mountains? Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?” Just let those words marinate for a bit. As caretakers of the world it is our duty, nay, obligation, to pet the furriest of God’s creatures.
Now, I can’t assume that these cats are capable of reading, but had they glanced at my resume they would have seen my extensive cat petting experience. True, had to learn a lot from my first cat Stimpy after frequently cornering it with dinosaur toys, throwing it at my brother, and occasionally putting a sock over its head, but what’s life without a little playful teasing? What can I say? I’m curious. Curious like a cat even. Besides, it ran away and never returned, so no harm no foul. Quid Pro Quo. I got to pet a cat, and the cat got to be petted until it ran away from me because I pet it too much. The system works.
The cats at Biola are different. They hate being petted, even without prior knowledge of how much fun it is for humans to stick tape to their sides and watch them awkwardly stumble. Just the other day my girlfriend Beth witnessed a cat in front of Eagles Nest being petted by a girl with a stick. A stick. Is that really the closest we can come to experiencing kitty fluffiness first-hand, at stick-length? It’s a sick world we’re living in.
This weekend I met the animals living at Beth’s home, and I must say that they gave me hope for the future. With these cats and doggies I feel at peace, my hands clasping chunks of shed hair as evidence of petting. Although I am typing this with swollen, tearing eyes, it’s worth it. So don’t fear, all you dreamers seeking a furry friend out there. Pet worthy pets do exist. And someday, when Biola finally comes to their senses, you can own one too. In the meantime you’ll just have to keep that contraband Chinchilla in your closet.

11.12.2008

The World's Largest (uber) Christmas Gift Exchange Ever!

It's that time of the year again.
The time of the year when we get together and make the World's Largest (uber) Christmas Gift Exchange Ever.
HOORAY!

What you need to do right now is sign up on the Elfster page HERE.
Then get your friends to join.
Then you need to send out that gift you have so desperately wanted to give.



I know you don't like rules, but here's how it's supposed to work:

Join the Elfster Exchange.

(If Elfster confounds you, just post your e-mail as a message or send it to me, I'll set you up pronto.)

Just make sure you sign up before December 15th!

You will be assigned a secret partner for whom you have to make or get a crazy gift.

*Now, the limit is 5 bucks, but seriously though, the gift can be anything, from a card, some random junk you found underneath your fridge, to whatever pet you have close to you.

THEN: Send it to your partner by Christmas.
- (so try not to make it too heavy or too big!)

THEN: You open the box.

And Finally: You Have A Merry Christmas!!

Rules:
Don't send anything you wouldn't want to receive.
Anthrax, for example, is a bad idea. So are bombs. Perishables as well. If you think of a bad idea, just don't do it.
Basically, you are responsible for the gift you give and the gift you receive (or don't receive), not me. And no take backs. I trust that there are many good Santa's out there and hope none of this will be a problem.

Also, MAKE SURE YOU REMEMBER.
(do what I did and write it your forehead in reverse)

And if you really want to be the best secret Santa ever, send them the link to the Elfster page too!
http://www.elfster.com/apps/exchange/Join.aspx?euid=273CCE1E-3881-48A9-9497-69E31C316975

11.11.2008

Back

You might not know this, but I just spent the weekend in Visalia CA, or the "Gateway to the Sequoias" as some like to call it (no one calls it that). I must say, it's a wonderful place, complete with a roller rink, a sweet hot-dog stand, and a huge Winco grocery store/warehouse where you can buy candy by the barrel. I hear there's a lot more to Visalia than those three places, but I like to leave a little some-some to look forward to for my next visit.
In case you were wondering why I made the trip North, Visalia is actually Beth's hometown. That means I had an ample opportunity to meet her folks. If you know me, that also means I had ample opportunities to make a huge ass out of myself. But never fear, for you see I made preparations in the form of a list.

Zack - DO NOT LIST

-Upon entrance DO NOT barge in the front door with both thumbs outstretched while yelling "EYYYYYY!"
-DO NOT refer to Beth's dad as Old Man, Tiger, Chief, or Niggah.
-DO NOT wear that tight, hot-pink shirt you own that says "Service Me" on the front, yet...
-DO NOT punch anyone in the face.
-DO NOT knee anyone in the crotch.
-DO NOT set anything on fire.
-DO NOT immediately go to the refrigerator and begin filling your pockets.
-DO NOT punt any animals.
-DO NOT flip over any tables in the midst of a heated discussion.
-DO NOT get into a heated discussion.
-DO NOT talk extensively about LOST theories, the history of Alternate Reality Gaming (ARG's), and/or Cloverfield.
-DO NOT get into a heated discussion about LOST theories, the history of Alternate Reality Gaming (ARG's), and/or Cloverfield.
-JUST DON'T talk about Cloverfield, too much.
-DO NOT get up in the middle of the night to re-arrange all the furniture and move everything in the kitchen to different cabinets.
-DO NOT ask too many questions about the home security system and suspiciously eye the valuables.

Luckily, I only did two, or maybe three of those things. So I think I made an alright impression. Although in retrospect I probably only exchanged roughly three words with anyone.
All-in-all, best weekend ever.

11.06.2008

Violence, Videogames, and the Chimes

I love videogames. And I love violence. And when those two get together and make babies, well, somebody needs to hand me a bottle and call me daddy 'cause I am THERE.

So this week I decided to write another little piece about sweet sweet videogaming.
You can click to read it here:

http://chimes.biola.edu/opinion/2008/nov/05/violence-and-real-world/

I really think it's socially relevant considering what's coming up this week, (aka Gears of War 2):

I just soiled myself in anticipation

Yet, sadly, I have no money to spare on such wonderfully glorious displays of senseless and sensual violence. So I'll just have to close my eyes and imagine all the chainsaw-gun-killing I will one day take part in.

That's the stuff.

The curious case of Captain Fantastic Faster Than Superman Spiderman Batman Wolverine Hulk And The Flash Combined

Here is the man who has earned my respect.



Although his grandmother has disowned him, and his professional life will no doubt be jeopardized, this man still has the strength, and yes, dignity, to permanently change his name from George Garratt to Captain Fantastic Faster Than Superman Spiderman Batman Wolverine Hulk And The Flash Combined.

Seriously.

Apparently his name will join the ranks of individuals such as Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii and Rhoshandiatellyneshiaunneveshenk Koyaanisquatsiuth Williams, but with the notable exception of his name being friggin awesome. I mean, who could be faster than the Hulk? This guy, that's who. It's a real shame he's not a child because I bet there are a lot of elementary school teachers who need a little pick-me-up during roll call each morning. Oh well. At least he still gets to look forward to one day meeting a Mrs. Faster Than Superman Spiderman Batman Wolverine Hulk And The Flash Combined...

11.04.2008

Pests and Politicians

Yesterday was election day, and although I couldn't vote due to my procrastination in filling out an absentee ballot, I did briefly try to convince my roommate Micah to vote that morning before I left for work. And considering that my opinion concerning the matter made little difference to him, I realized I had effectively recreated the entire elective process through voicing my opinion on the matter and it having no effect whatsoever.
And now we have Barack Obama as President.
Way to go Micah, you son of a b*%#$.

I laughed at this sticker for a solid two hours straight, and then stared disapprovingly at myself in the bathroom mirror for double that amount of time.

Still, some good came out of Election Day, mainly in the way of free stuff. Starbucks was practically tossing to the crowds buckets of free coffee.
Myself, being the kind of person naturally drawn towards anything free, grabbed Beth the second I learned of it and was on my way. However, once we actually arrived at Starbucks, both of us realized that neither one of us actually liked to drink coffee, so instead we went to CVS to grab a couple cans of sweet sweet Arizona iced tea.
After selecting a bottle of a funky new pomegranate flavor, Beth grabbed my arm and stopped me in my tracks. "OH HOLY CRAP." She suddenly said, nearly causing me to drop my bottle in fear.
I looked around briefly saying "What's going o-HOLY CRAP!"
There, in front of us, in the middle of the CVS refrigerated drink section, was the biggest cockroach I have not only ever seen in my life, but every film I have ever watched with the exception of Men In Black.

It scurried back and forth, stopping briefly at a crumb to furiously wiggle it's antenna back and forth.
Meanwhile, Beth and I locked arms and stood completely still.
It can't see you if you stand still, I told myself.
We couldn't look away. It was huge. And no one else was seeing what we were.
Ten minutes later, Beth and I heard the sound of a large cart barreling down the isle. It's projected course was no doubt heading directly towards our roach buddy, who had by this point become completely distracted by a dark smudge on the floor.

At this point we expected one of three things, either the employee pushing the cart would notice the massive beast and scream like a Japanese school girl, the employee would unknowingly crush the roach with the cart, or, as I partly expected, the roach would fly directly at my face and somehow make it's way into my mouth.

Beth and I tensed in fear and anticipation. This was it. This could be the end for our little bug friend.
Then, at that moment, the old woman pushing the cart turned towards us as she continued her way down the isle, looked at the panic stricken expressions pasted across the face of Beth and I, and politely said, "It's okay, don't be afraid."
And she continued on her way.

Our eyes went back to the cockroach, who not only had not been crushed, but didn't move in the slightest. It just continued nibbling at the black smudge with it's antenna whacking the ground.
This creature feared no one and nothing.

But we had to wonder, what exactly did that woman think we were afraid of? Does she commonly come across customers who cower in fear at her presence? If so, I feel sorry, but her kind words of encouragement gave us the strength to turn our heads and leave.

11.03.2008

Chimed

I felt kind of bad about this one.
But the fact remains, I really cannot make myself enjoy a game of college football.
I just can't.
I might actually be able to enjoy watching an episode of The Hills from time to time, but college football just doesn't do it for me.
It also doesn't do it for most of the people I spend time with.
So when my roommate started to spend hours at a time watching it in our apartment, I had no choice but to take it to the press.
So here it is, another online Chimes article...

http://chimes.biola.edu/opinion/2008/nov/01/friends-dont-let-friends-watch-college-football/

10.31.2008

How To Catch An Escaped Rhino

Apparently the Japanese have drills for this type of thing quite often.
And when I say often, I mean more than never, which is precisely how often we have escaped Rhino drills here in the states.



Apparently the Japanese have also planned to release what appears to be the best movie ever made.



Heck if I know what it's actually about, but it involves cats and puppets.
If you look closely, you might catch a glimpse of "Tama the Station Master Cat," a cat in Japan who was named station master of an unknown train station in Wakayama Prefecture.

Seriously.
The cat was just knighted a few days ago.



Since Tama's promotion to Station Master Cat, the Wakayama Electric Railroad has generated an estimated 1.1 billion yen from tourists. You can see him in his office.

And he has an itty bitty hat too!

10.30.2008

Why Biola Socks

Last night I went to Punk'n Pie. It's an event at my school not unlike a talent show where peoples from far and wide across campus gather together to watch a selected number of performances. There's also pie.
But things took a turn at the half-way point when the folks in charge thought it would be a good opportunity to show us a video depicting Biola's amazing-ness.



Now, I'm sure the people who made this worked really hard, rented their cameras from the production center, and spent countless hours editing. I should also mention that their video is the only one out there that I have seen, and considering that they took the initiative to show how mind-blowingly-kick-ace Biola is I give them props. However, I'm pretty sure everything in this video is exactly what I hate about Biola, and I feel the need to call them out on it. Why? Shut up, that's why.

1. The intro

Oh, I get it. It's a video WITHIN another video! Clearly this places this particular awesome college video on the same level as Shakespeare. As a bonus, we get to see who made the video so that we're able to see them on campus later and punch ourselves in the stomach as a sign of respect. They're hilarious.

2. Football

At Biola people like sports, such as frisbee, which is most definitely a real sport. People also play sports like football. And they play them with their shirts off. You might think this is just to show off to the ladies, but it actually has the added benefit of making guys more aerodynamic so that they can jump out of the camera frame after throwing a ball and pop up in another frame so that they can catch it again. Who needs a team when guys can do stuff like that? This is very common at Biola, a place where every bible/literature/philosophy/film major is completely ripped. Biola is awesome and guys at Biola are hilarious and don't wear shirts.

3. Statistics

We have a certain number of so many things at Biola, and so few other things at Biola, that it makes me want to puke rainbows. Biola has been in La Mirada for 50 years. No one on earth can make that same claim, even though we all know they want to.

4. Editing

Hey, you know how that movie Sin City which was totally awesome a few years ago but suddenly lost some of it's luster when common editing programs became capable of doing similar effects? Yeah, I was thinking, let's make a girl's shirt red.

5. Slip'n'Slide

Biola has a huge Slip'n'Slide that everyone uses all the time. In fact, I slide to class everyday. It's the perfect way to top off a game of shirtless-football.

6. Student Interviews

-"Hey, is this video supposed to be funny or serious?"
"I can't really decide."
-"Well, what if I say something funny, but it's actually kind of supposed to funny in a type of ironic, totally untrue, way? Like I say 'Oh, the Cafeteria here is so delicious' when in reality it can be pretty bad sometimes?"
"Can I take my shirt off again?"

7. Film Majors

"We have so much fun setting up lights and microphones! I can't wait to do this for a living! Biola rocks because I'm able to show so many Biola graduates who have gone on to be really successful in the field they majored in, but I won't because I haven't actually heard of any. Let's talk about Citizen Cane some more and act really friendly despite being threatened by other people. Hey! Slip'n'slide!"

8. More Sports

Because let's face it, no one's coming here to get an education, and everyone who's anyone likes sports.

9. Girl to Guy Ratio

"Sure, all the girls around me are most likely freshmen and pre-engaged, that doesn't change the fact that for every one guy at Biola there are two others who definitely wouldn't want to talk to me anyways!"

10. Ethnicity

"Yeah. Sure... We have a black guy on campus... somewhere..."

11. The Worship Band

Anyone at Biola can be in the worship band! They might need good credentials, be able to sing or play an instrument, follow the Biola contract, really like bland worship songs which may or may not be theologically accurate, but they can certainly stand near the stage.


Oh Biola. I should've made a video. But then again, I can't really think of anything I'd make that would get a wholesome Biola approval while remaining honest or fun to watch. What can you do? Sigh.
Still, the guys who made this did a good job. It's attractive, shiny, and will probably attract an audience, so overall, it's effective.
I just didn't like it.

10.28.2008

These Are Awesome (and tiny)

Little People



http://little-people.blogspot.com/

An artist known as "Slinkachu" makes them. And they're great.

The Awkward Uni-dog?

*UPDATE*
And apparently I'm an idiot. It actually is a joke. Thank goodness.
Nothing to see here folks, move along...

Oh hey look, there are mash-ups posted just below this one. Those look more interesting than this post. You should look at them instead.
*Cough* well, I'm just going to slowly back away now.

**end of update**

Let's look at everything wrong with this image.



It's a product, to be sold, to people who actually own dogs and want to turn them into small unicorns. Now, I'm all for taking animals and giving them horns and magic, but just take a look at the description from their site.

"This is not a costume. This is a kit to completely transform your beloved pug or beagle from a cute canine to the ultimate unicorn. It includes screw-in horn, hoof attachments, medical grade glue, peroxide, mane fur, a tail and a handful of glitter! Just peroxide the color out of your dogs hair and attach the fur and accessories with glue. Once you have the horn in place (Dremel not included) your beloved pooch will be ready to accompany you to fairyland. Please specify size of dog when ordering. Not legal in California, New Mexico and part of Maine."



As far as I can tell, this product actually exists. There's no part of the site that says, "Just kidding, silly! You didn't actually plan on bleaching your animal and throwing glitter into it's eyes did you?" No, they honestly want to provide consumers with the possibility of not just making their dog wear a costume, but "transform" it into a mythical creature. All for the price of $124.95 (for small dogs).

At least it doesn't suggest the possibility of giving your animal the power of flight.
Although that does give me a new business idea...

10.27.2008

Mashed

If you know me, then you know that I love a good mash-up. The problem with this is that there are so many, so very very many, mash-ups ranging from "decent" to "do not want."
So today I'm going to post three tracks of Bastard Pop I definitely approve of.

Fissunix - Pure Rock You
(via Fissunix)

Yes, Queen has been subject to more than enough mash-ups and baseball games, but listening to this mix between "Rock You" and Placebo made it a whole new experience for me.

Lenlow - Mushaboom (via music remixed)

Feist and Rare Earth don't sound like they should be successful together, but they are. They really are.

Norwegian Recycling - No Taylor No Scar (via Mashup Town)

Finally, we get to Jack Johnson mixed with Bob Marley. For some reason I haven't come across a good mix featuring either of these two. Luckily, this one breaks the mold.

10.24.2008

I Appreciate Mark Wahlberg

I appreciate him more now than ever before.



Mark Whalberg talking to animals, hey what's that all about? Say hi to your mother for me.

10.22.2008

Everything Is Cooler In Lego Form

Ever seen the music video for Radiohead's House of Cards?



Pretty cool. The whole video was made without any traditional cameras, just these new fangled lasers and computers.

But even cooler?
The same video made with Lego's.



Yes, it's short, but pretty amazing if I do say so myself.

But I suppose there's no way to post it without taking a look at our dear Mr. Michel Gondry...



Classic.

10.21.2008

The Sound of Chimes

Apparently one of the benefits of turing in an article "on time" is that the Chimes posts it sooner on the web.
Somehow, without even telling them, my roommates have all managed to already read it.
But I know someone who hasn't yet...
That's right. You.
You should get on that.

http://chimes.biola.edu/opinion/2008/oct/19/when-how-its-made-more-important-sleep/

I'm not going to lie to you. This is kind of one of those articles where I suddenly realized, "Oh, wow, I'm already at 600 words. Welps, this is nothing one sentence can't wrap up immediately." Hence the abrupt ending. But to be honest, I can't really think of any other way it should have ended, because I'm definitely doing some hardcore multitasking (last night was the first time my roommates have seen me in a week). Speaking of which, I have three papers and a poem I need to get to work on.

If you haven't noticed, this article has a heavy emphasis on the show "How It's Made." If you've never seen it, there are a couple things you need to know.
A. It's made by a bunch of Canadians.
B. Every episode begins with a miniature version of what's being made rotated on a small platform in the middle of a random park.
C. Every episode has the same terrible electronic music.
D. It's basically crack on television.

There's no reason anyone should ever watch How It's Made, but there's no reason anyone could ever resist it.
Here. An example. Ever wonder how bubblegum is made?
No. Neither did I.



There it is.

10.20.2008

Tropic Thunder -Movie review



Tropic Thunder
***--

Tropic Thunder has just reached my local dollar theater, a tell-tale sign that it'll soon show up on DVD, which is probably a more suitable viewing format than the price of a full fledged theater ticket. Following in the footsteps of The Three Amigos, Tropic Thunder adopts the familiar premise of a group of actors unaware that the film they were supposedly making is in fact a reality. The following review functions under the over-arching opinion that The Three Amigos is not only a successful comedy, but a classic film, and as such will be comparatively analyzed.

To begin, Tropic Thunder is, at times, a very funny movie. Despite the familiarity in it's premise, the film shows no lack of ingenuity. The very first minutes throw the audience a brilliant curve-ball while also functioning as a brilliant character introduction. This doesn't mean that the film doesn't take shortcuts. The film heavily relies on surprise cameos, which while being initially funny, begin to wear out their welcome with prolonged screen time. But I'm getting ahead of myself. The story functions around a collection of various actors, all assembled to make a motion picture based off an infamous war novel. Ben Stiller is primarily featured as Tugg, an action hero in a slump after his previous film "Simple Jack," a film about a retarded horse whisperer, failed at the box office. Jack Black is a heroine addicted version of Eddie Murphy, and spends the duration of the film in withdrawal. Brandon T. Jackson is a rapper who takes time off from promoting his merchandise to call out Kirk Lazarus, played by Robert Downey Jr. All of them are fantastic in their portrayal, but Robert Downey Jr. simply steals the picture. His character within a character somehow manages to have even more layers beyond that, and behind his blindingly blue eyes there is a certain amount of subtlety worth noticing.

There's a lot to like here. I know that, but deep inside I felt slightly sick after watching it.

This film is not The Three Amigos, it's not supposed to be. The film is coarse and violent, and it manages to turn those attributes into genuinely funny qualities. If you don't believe me, just watch the fountain of blood coming out of a special-effects head-wound early in the film. I haven't laughed that hard in a while. But the film features little to no redemption for it's characters. Whereas Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short learned a valuable life lesson is contrast to their previous Hollywood lifestyle, these characters only gain an acting lesson from reality. There is one fatal flaw to Tropic Thunder, and that is the complete and utter non-endearing qualities of it's characters. You might like them, but you also might like them not to make it out of the jungle.

Comical pacing in the film's structure is also oddly absent. The very concept is dependent upon build up and revelation. Instead, one land-mine goes off and the characters immediately accept their situation. There's no suspension of disbelief, there's no group of characters left in the dark. The only mistaken identity is that of "Simple Jack," and it serves as the highlight of the film. It's a tragic missed opportunity in humor.

I laughed a whole lot during Tropic Thunder, but I'm not necessarily sure I liked it for it's personality. It's that friend you think is funny but only because he's oblivious to what a jerk he is. It certainly warrants a viewing, but an inexpensive one on a lazy night. Overall, it's dollar movie night material, but it certainly earns that dollar.

10.18.2008

Bradley's Birthday

I stole these photo's off my girlfriend's camera. For that reason I will only post the most attractive ones I can find featuring us both.



Golden.

As you can tell, I was REALLY into Rock Band with Jon.

If you look closely in the background you'll see one of my most prized possessions. It's a "Heart-Gard" I got with Beth. It really deserves a post all of it's own, but just know that we've tried it on.

I mean, I was REALLY into it.



We all were.


Little Green Man

I found this brave soldier single-handedly defending the steps in front of my school.



I left him there to continue the fight.

10.16.2008

You're So Money Baby...

You don't even know it.



Why might I embroider this?

'cause there's nothing wrong with letting the ladies know that you're money, and you wanna party.



I discovered two things while making this.
A. Quotes from the 1995 movie Swingers take friggin forever to embroider.
and
B. No one I've met out here has actually seen the 1995 movie Swingers.

That last bit of info somewhat surprised me.

But then again, in 1995 I was eight years old. Luckily I have a clip from You-Tube to keep us all up to date with our mid-90's film history.

Aminals

My week has been chock full of work, classes, and midterm exams. It's a lot to prepare for, and with no time to lose I've been cramming in plenty episodes of Planet Earth.
This Sunday I practically had an unintentional marathon of it. It was mainly unintentional because the show becomes so hypnotic after a while that Sigourney Weaver's voice lulls me into a near comatose state whist a steady stream of saliva drips out of my mouth. It also looks pretty.

But if there's one lesson to be gleaned from Planet Earth, that lesson would be that it sucks to be an animal.
In fact, nearly every animal featured is accompanied by a voice-over noting how this particular animal, after struggling to do something completely pointless, will die. Almost every animal, Sigourney Weaver tells me, will die, and it's probably because of me.

Dang.
I feel like I need to apologize to a Koala or a Polar Bear.

On the other hand, every once and a while Planet Earth will show an animal which really has no business still being alive. In fact, the world would probably be a slightly less retarded place if they didn't exist in the first place. It's these animals that I cherish most of all. They stand in the face of Darwinism and say, "cqrfhqurebgvpq" which is retarded for "I shouldn't probably exist, but I do anyway."
It is in one of these creatures that I found my spirit animal.



The Bacterian Camels of the Gobi desert.
They're basically versions of Chewbacca from Star Wars, with humps and a tail which they use to continually whip their butts with to display their affection for the fairer sex. So much like us.
They also periodically squeal a low-pitched barking noise.

They also can smell humans from miles away and are practically impossible to find.

Yet Planet Earth has them.

And you can watch them.

Here: http://video.aol.com/video-detail/planet-earth-camels-of-the-gobi-desert/1113770616

Glorious.

10.14.2008

Political Minds

Hooray for new Chimes articles! Specifically ones written by me!
My latest has just been posted (if ya wanna check it out). I know you do. Here.
Here, take the link.
Here. Just take it. I know you want to. Come on. Do it. What are you waiting for? It's right here. Go. Come on.

http://chimes.biola.edu/opinion/2008/oct/14/supporting-russell-crowe-president/

This week it was requested that I become political minded and write something having to do with some kind of "election" people are talking about.

Instead I decided to write about the Predator beast from the 1987 classic "Predator."

Baby, you got a stew goin!

Notice my subtle correlations between Carl Weathers and Barack Obama... Actually, maybe you shouldn't.

If you want to hear from someone actually political minded you might be in the wrong place.

This is the right place:

http://www.politikiller.com/


I'm not going to lie to you. I don't understand most of what's on that site, but that only means it's intelligent enough for me to agree completely with everything he says.

Over-Exertion

I'm really tired. Happy, but tired.
I thought I was doing pretty well this morning, but while I was walking to work I became distracted with tucking in my shirt and walked face-first into a parked truck.
I was fortunate enough not no have any confused onlookers, yet somehow the event was still emotionally crippling. I found myself abruptly pushed backwards by this non-animated metallic beast with four wheels. My shoulder hurt and I started asking, Why? In what kind of sick world do people park their trucks in parking lots where tired people like me can run into them? I just don't know. I just don't.

10.12.2008

Pipe Wrench Fights and Magic Mirrors

Every time I watch this it only gets better.



People need to make more of these.