7.31.2008

Arizona



I'm in Arizona at a family reunion, if you're wondering.



When I drive I take pictures of myself pretending not to pay attention to me taking pictures of myself.



It's often harder than it sounds.



That's what 95% of the drive looked like coming out here.



That's the other 5%.

It's actually pretty wonderful at times.
Then at other times it's just incredibly boring.
And then it's a little bit of both.

Saucey.

Oh. And here's my little awkward moment for the night.

Before the show Beth and I got dinner at a sweet Mexican place.
She ordered the Enchilada's with green salsa.
Myself, being unable to make hard choices like this one, decided to say, "I'll have the same."
The waiter, who seemed to mostly speak Spanish, asked something along the lines of whether I would like the "red salsa or the green salsa."
This somehow confused me. Again, being faced with small insignificant decisions is a huge obstacle to me.
So I said, "Yes."
Realizing that this answer made absolutely no sense in regards to an either/or question, I was responded to with extremely confused looks from both the waiter and Beth.

Not one to be corrected, I handed the menu back to the waiter who shuffled away.

He gave me the red salsa.

And I loved every bite of it.

Eef, Phalanstery Modules, and Loving The Unknown

Last night I got to see Eef Barzelay perform live down at the Spaceland, in Silverlake, LA.

It's not often that you get to see a performer who actually sounds and entertains better in person than they do pre-recorded, but honestly, Eef is exactly that. The deft command of both his gifted back-up artists and over his audience is really rather extraordinary.

There's a strangely affecting balance he hits within his performance, one that mixes troubling self-reflection with that of the playful rock-and-roll persona. The frequent out-bursts of skilled strumming and fingerpicking, accompanied by high-kick jumps and melodic vibrato singing, somehow seem truly necessary in delivering his desired tone. He sounds like a hopeful romantic, even when he's singing about the bleaching of various body-parts, all the while providing an original out-look on the society he finds on the brink of the apocalypse.

It's amazing stuff.



But just before the performance I saw something just as amazing, if not incredibly impractical.

A Phalanstery Module.



It was designed by comic-book artist Jimenez Lai mainly to demonstrate living on all dimensions in a zero-gravity environment by having architecture on all surfaces and constantly rotating.

Beth and I saw it while wandering about before the performance.

And I basically discovered I want to live inside of it.



But I don't want to live inside of a zero-gravity environment. I just want to live in a small apartment that constantly rotates extremely slowly.
I want to wake up each morning confused and on the floor, but at least have a separate, equally strange explanation, and then get into the habbit of constantly picking up fallen vases, paintings, furniture, and basically everything not nailed down.

7.29.2008

Was That An Earthquake, or Just My Heart Pounding?

No, it was definitely an earthquake.

Anthony, Jon and I were playing videogames when we felt and heard what seemed like the world's biggest dumptruck was driving through a Crate and Barrel next door. Being used to heavy traffic, having grown up in DC, I continued watching the game. That was until the entire apartment building began to slightly sway. Then I realized it was actually an earthquake.

Jon had recently been in a motorcycle accident and has since been recovering from a broken shoulder, a fractured wrist, bruised ribs, and some seriously beat-up legs.

Bravely, I shoved him aside, considering him as a necessary sacrifice to the earthquake gods. He's an invalid anyways and would have only slowed down Anthony's, and more importantly, MY, escape.

Luckily, however, Jon managed to make his way down the flight of stairs. I reminded both of them not to use the elevator, because A: it would be unsafe, and also B: we don't have an elevator.

By the time we reached the street I expected us to be the only survivors. But miraculously it seems no one at all, in all of California, was harmed. Thanks to me.

But what, just what could have been the cause of all this destruction?

Iron Man Riding The Panda

I laughed with this. Mostly because of Robert Downey Jr.

7.28.2008

Television, My Old Friend...

I just found out that they're releasing the short-lived, and somewhat surreal cartoon show Freakazoid on DVD.



I remember this show being hilarious as a kid. I seriously have no idea how it has held up over time, but I suspect there's tons more about it I'd be far more willing to appreciate as an adult than an innocent child.

There are tons of old shows I'd love to revisit. Tiny Toon Adventures for instance has for some reason been held back from the DVD onslaught despite it's popularity and resulting spin-off cartoon series. It's a real shame, because when I was little I was so obsessed with it that I would occassionally cry if I missed the opening intro.

But there are other shows, far more obscure, that I would love to see turn up again.

One show, specifically, that I absolutely loved was a somewhat dramatic sci-fi show called "Now and Again." It was cancelled for a number of reasons. One, for instance, was that the concept of an overweight man killed by a subway train and then transplanted into the body of a younger, more fit, superhuman was a tad too far-fetched for older audiences. That, and also there was another show airing at the same time called "Once and Again" which was a lame girly series that definitely didn't feature brain transplants of any kind.



The show was quite brilliant in how the central character was forced to consistently reconcile his duties to the government, who own his body, in contrast to his family, who are convinced that he has died. The character dynamics were simply outstanding, as the family-man turned super-human had to protect his own family from discovering his identity while trying to still act as a father figure.

I watched Now and Again avidly, until it was gradually cancelled and replaced by televised latin music concerts.

The other show that managed to completely disappear, was Push Nevada.



When I say it disappeared, I mean, it seriously disappeared. That intro video is all I could find. The only other video clips are in spanish, which I assume means that somewhere below the equator Push Nevada is still being aired on live television.

For those that don't know, and there are plenty that don't, Push Nevada was a surreal mystery series about a tax man who is sent to the small casino ruled town of Push to collect on the government's earnings. What he finds is basically the town of Twin Peaks mixed with the island from LOST.

Needless to say, the show got wierd.

But unlike LOST or Twin Peaks, Push Nevada had the promise of an actual explanation. This was given by way of a contest in which viewers could find "clues" in each episode that would eventually lead to the lost million dollars the main character was trying to find.

It was pretty retarded, but fun none-the-less, and the mysteries the show provided were pushed along by a solid cast of engaging characters.

Troubles arose when Push Nevada was cancelled before all the clues were given. Since the show was legally obligated to conclude the contest, viewers were treated to one last clue-crammed episode. While this was probably great for people interested in the puzzle, for people actually interested in the character driven series the show concluded with an expository narration that was even more confusing than Twin Peaks and LOST combined. Which is basically like saying it was a black-hole of confusing-ness-ed?

Still, Push Nevada was strangely memorable, and personally, I believe it inspired numerous television shows like LOST in their most successful traits.

I'm sure there are many more long lost television shows that'll somehow manage to pop up on DVD, but the important thing to remember is that the entire Sonic the Hedgehog Animated Series is still widely available, and let's be honest, as long as that exists on DVD who need anything else?



No one. That's who.

7.27.2008

Japanese Androids All Too Real (and yet not nearly real enough)

Yep, the crazy Japanese advertisements have just become a whole lot crazier, simply by adding in the essential element of surreal androids.



You're probably asking a lot of questions right now.

Such as, why exactly would a woman android need sun-tan lotion in the first place?
Well, to be honest, the answer is irrelevant considering that in the not-so-distant future the human race will attempt to block out the sun in a last-ditch attempt to render the robot's solar panels useless.

Also, because the Japanese are crazy.

But take a look at this next commercial which manages to bridge the divide between the nations of Japan and America by combining what each of them love best:
Hello Kitty and Hamburgers.



If there's one thing I love best about Japan, other than Edemame, it's their pigs.



The lyrics to that song are pretty catchy, especially when it get's to the part that goes,

"Puki Puki Puki
Happy Happy I Itchy!"

Deep. It somehow forced me to really think about what I've done with my life.



The robot in that last one was too convincing.

Now, I don't know what this next one is actually trying to sell, but I'm just going to say it before you think it, I'm totally into Panda chicks.



Wait. It get's more confusing.



Hot.

I don't know how I found this next one, and I don't want to know. I don't care what context it is supposed to be in, whether or not it is meant to be funny, serious, or both. To me it is just surreal.

"As surreal as a robot sun-tanning woman?" You might ask.

Perhaps even more so.



Needless to say, if that had been a lady koala it'd probably blow that panda-girl out of the water.
And if it had been a robot koala-girl, then it would have blown us out of the water, with a cannon, into the sun.

Holy Cow's!

My brother Ben invited me to join in on the festivities as 300 cattle were hearded down the street he lived on, in the middle of the day, in Orange County.
For some reason I didn't really question it until I saw it happen.

This year old video from a complete stranger just about sums it up.



300 cattle. Why? Why not.

What I want to know is how a guy managed to get this to happen. Sometime, at some point in the past, a man had to have walked into a boardroom and said "SHUT DOWN the streets! We got cattle to wrangle!! YEEEEEE-HAW!"
Clearly I imagine this man wearing a cowboy hat and sporadically shooting two handguns in the air while dancing back and forth in his snake-skin boots.

It truly is a glorious sight to see a massive crowd of bovines slowing make their way toward you down a four-lane street, especially when that street is usually packed side to side with trucks. In fact, I don't think I would ever tire of it. Frankly, I can only dream for a future in which a vampire/zombie/I-Am-Legendish attack wipes out a majority of the world's population so that city-wide cattle herdings are a common occurance.

It makes me want to start a ranch behind my apartment building. But I live next to a Jack In the Box and I wouldn't completely trust them being so close to the cows.

And those cattle-herding dogs mean business too. Just so you know. They seem to have a fairly strict, "no human petting policy," at least while they're on the job. It's a shame.

7.26.2008

LOST!

I lost my glasses somewhere in my apartment. Or the pool outside of my apartment. Wherever they are, I haven't checked there yet.

So now I discovered I'm a really friendly person. I'll wave to people I don't even know and say "Hey! It's been a while!" and then realize I have no idea who they are and run away in fear.

The only real problem I've run into is that when I actually befriend people who like meeting a confused person, I can expect never to recognize them ever again. So if you're a friendly, blurry, blob, thanks for the good times.

Whatever the case, I'm going to take the liberty to assume that you're incredibly attractive with 20/20 vision.

Hopefully the glasses will turn up soon, but unfortunately the last time I saw them they were being worn by this guy:



Dang you Harry Potter!

Good News Everyone!

Thanks to Ben's hard work, I have officially been reimbursed for my towing adventure.

HOORAY!!!

I officially have 260 dollars safely stowed away back in my bank account. It's almost like I'm rich again, but I'm not. In fact, it's like I'm back to being slightly less poor than I was earlier today.
And now it's time to party! WHOO! SPRING BREAK YEAH!!!



Yeah. Cornbreaaaaaaaad.

Just so you know, Cornbread is my new word.

Urban Dictionary Defines it as:

An affirmative statement. A word mumbled when in acquiescence with another. Used in place of the words: agreed or indeed.

It can also be used in random outbursts when feeling elated or quirky.
fred: "dude she is the prettiest girl I've ever seen"
jon: "cornbreaaad"

fred: "ain't talkin bout cornbread"
jon: "coooorrnbread"


I heard someone say it while watching Parental Control and realized it is used all too infrequently.

7.25.2008

Grand Theft Auto IV - video game review



Grand Theft Auto IV
***--

You're probably wondering why I'm reviewing Grand Theft Auto IV after so much time. Well, jerk, the reason is quite simple. I have finally given up trying to beat it.

It's been a couple months since Grand Theft Auto IV was released and I'd like to re-capture a few snippets of the buzz going around at that time.

IGN called it "one of the best games we've ever seen," Gamespy referred to it as, "a gaming masterpiece," Gamepro knighted it as "one of the best gaming experiences ever produced."

But it's been a while since then, and in this post-Metal Gear Solid 4 society, who is to say what a gaming "masterpiece" is? Then again, Metal Gear Solid 4 did come out for the Playstation 3, which is kind of like having a masterpiece fall in the middle of a forest.
It's a shame no one will ever play it.

So I decided to take a look at Grand Theft Auto IV after all the hype.

I don't know much about graphics, but short of the one God produced, I'm pretty sure there has never been a world more intricately detailed than this one. Although glitches abound with frequent pop-ins, some seriously stilted character motions, and some finnicky lighting dynamics, the world is about the best you could possibly hope for out of this generation of gaming technology. It looks far better than the majority of games out on the market today, all the while featuring a landscape far more expansive.

There are moments that simply take your breath away. If it's not simple things, like the geometric shadows being cast off by a nearby rollercoaster, it's the vast world you can witness just by looking up at the night sky and watching the distant airplanes soar silently above you.

The only problem here is that the world of Grand Theft Auto is not one meant to mearly be seen or discovered. You're supposed to fight your way through it. The docks might look pretty, but it somehow loses it's picturesque qualities when you kick a corpse off it's edge or take a prostitute down to the waterfront.
It's all real wholesome fun.

Or at least it was fun.

Months have past, and to be brutally honest with you, the joy of paying prostitutes, killing them, and then taking my money back by force, has lost it's luster. Driving on sidewalks and then turning my car into a human lawn-mower has gone from laughably absurd, to a matter of common occurance. Why do I insist on careening my car through the local park? Because it's faster. Cop cars are an all too frequent inconvenience, and they have gone from fun to avoid, to just annoying. The game has turned me into a monster looking for nothing but convenience. Not that it's bad or anything.

Gun fights are the core essential ingredient of the Grand Theft Auto games. Unfortunately the gun fighting mechanics are for the most part, completely broken. The cover system, the one that's meant to help you shield bullets by crouching behind cars or buildings, is essentially useless. When it does work, it's not supposed to. As a result, you'll end up diving behind a flagpole and stand there convinced that you're invincible. You aren't. The trigger is a tad too sensitive at times. As a result, the challenge will become not trying to kill as many civilians as possible.

So here is the grand philisophical problem within the world of Grand Theft Auto: is it possible to be a good person within the limits of Liberty City? To be honest, the core audience won't ever ask this question and continue to gleefully murder as many residents of the city as possible. However, I couldn't help but wonder how a game based purely around the concept of "go anywhere, do anything" could get away with not rewarding at least some decent attempts to obey the law.

Still, there is an undeniable charm to the sick thrills of the Grand Theft Auto universe. In fact, if there is any one flaw that truly warrants a complaint, it's that the game is too devoted to it's realism. Had it been neon colored and featured lazer swords, I'd probably be more forgiving of it's flaws. But it wasn't. So I'm peeve'd off that I can drive a dump-truck through a building, but can't run over a fledgling tree.

No matter what the case, this unfocused spectacle of violence is entertaining. The simple fact that it has taken me this long to realize I'll never fully complete the dang thing and just write a review already, should stand as a testament to the depth of it's gameplay.

Nevertheless, this should be considered to be a casual game. The second you start to play it seriously the flaws will begin to overwhelm you. And before you know it you'll start to notice the strange glitch in the game that sucks all the time out of your real-life.

I recommend Grand Theft Auto IV, especially if you're a child with no other role-model in your life. It has given me a lot of great memories, not to mention numerous virtual dates that were far more successful than most real-life dates I have been on. The moment I realized this, I stopped playing and silently handed my housemate Anthony the controller. He already has a girlfriend, so what harm could happen there? Right?

Right??

Oh no...

I have to check the waterfront!

7.24.2008

At It With The Dead Animals Again

Yep, I decided to take the time out from not having a job to make another My Little Dead Animal.
It's just like My Little Dead Hedgehog and My Little Dead Bunny, but this time as a lovable trash scavenger.



Raccoons love eating trash, maybe too much. So when this little guy starts choking you have to give him mouth-to-mouth CPR.





There's a wind activated lightbulb inside of him that lights up his heart if you blow into it, or give the little Raccoon a pat on the back.



To see what other people think (appalled, charmed, or a little of both), feel free to check out the craftster page: http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=259210.0

7.23.2008

Drillbit Taylor - Movie Review



Drillbit Taylor
*----

I'm not sure what to actually write about Drillbit Taylor. I know it was on the television, and I know I was watching it, but all I remember was the menu screen before-hand, sitting with my friends during it, and then severely beating everyone afterwards in a game of Blokus.

I will destroy you in Blokus.

All I can tell is that Drillbit Taylor is perhaps the most sub-par movie I have watched in recent memory. And I usually forget sub-par memories pretty quickly.

What was I reviewing again?

Oh yeah, Owen Wilson is pretty much always hilarious, and if it wasn't for him I wouldn't even mention I watched Drillbit Taylor and just say I schooled everyone in Blokus, two friggin games in a row.

I win

I should say I was actually pretty surprised that Drillbit Taylor was not in fact a kid's movie. In fact, the kids manage to get away with saying more curse words than I do as an adult. They also take enough punches to the stomach to make a Houdini impersonator collapse in blinding agony.

Come on kids, cover your eyes. This movie is just a bad influence.

Why don't you instead kick back with a classy board game?

hee, hee, hee

don't bother watching it.

I Want A Dinosaur

Or in this case, a man in a very convincing dinosaur suit.


.

Or maybe I could BE the man inside the convincing dinosaur suit!
I don't have a job yet, it could happen.

Aw, who am I kidding? You'd probably have to work your way up to that position, probably by wearing one of those lame Ankylosaurus dinosaur costumes.



Damn you Ankylosaurus. Don't you realize you're the bastard child of all the dinosaurs? I didn't even know your name until I did a google search for the worst dinosaur. Do you understand how many images of Barney I had to sift through??
No. No you don't. Because your brain is the size of a peanut.

But... I love you Ankylosaurus.
Sure, you can't spit acid, or bite people in half, or open doors and kill Samuel L. Jackson, but you do have a club at the end of your tail. And doesn't that count for something?

No. No it doesn't.

Now hold still so I can ride you.

7.22.2008

More Music Video Madness

Since once I started watching them I couldn't stop...







The Dark Knight - Movie Review

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The Dark Knight
*****

The latest in the Batman saga has been knighted as a masterpiece of cinema, a truly immersing experience that not only seeks to entertain, but to shine a revealing light upon the human soul. The praise is justly rewarded. I agree, The Dark Knight is simply an outstanding achievement.

There's still one question I bet you're begging me to answer...

Is it better than Cloverfield?

I don't know what to tell you. One is a troubling crime saga, the other is a thrill-ride monster movie. One asks questions about justice and fate, the other asks questions about cricket monsters that cause you to explode. It's like comparing candy to pork and beans, if I had ever heard of that comparison before listening to that Weezer song "pork and beans." The fact of the matter is, there is no comparison. One thing is for certain.

The Dark Knight is a long movie.

So prepare yourself. Whereas Cloverfield did everything I could ever want in less than two hours, this film needs a few more frames to get it's point across. A lot of frames. I didn't look at the run-time, but the Dark Knight is essentially two excellent films squeezed together, and it feels like it too. About two hours in I resigned myself to expect a cliff-hanger ending the likes of which the Pirates of the Caribbean movies couldn't fathom.

Thankfully, that didn't happen.

In fact, the Dark Knight ends perfectly, and satisfyingly well, in a way that it only could. There's tremendous build-up, tension, release, and enough adrenaline left over at the end to fuel your thirst for even more crime fighting. I'd say, in regards to the Cloverfield/Batman debate, they're equals on separate ends of the spectrum.

No doubt, there will be non-stop praise for Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker, but let's be brutally honest here. That's probably mostly because he died. I just said it, you know it's true. He is amazing in this film, but so is everyone. The film is as precise and fine-tuned as a bat-a-rang. Without one of these actors the emotional tones would have immediately turned deaf on our ears.

A performance I do want to talk about is that of Gary Oldman. It's rare that a comic book character is personified so perfectly, but Oldman's performance as Commissioner Gordon is so honed, controlled, and refined that I'm still sure he was the real thing.

These new Batman films, directed by Christopher Nolan (Memento, Insomnia), are clearly more dark and emotionally tense than any previous film adaptations. Specifically, the neon colored renditions by Joel Schumacher (Batman and Robin). Batman Begins and the Dark Knight have been declared as a glorious return to Batman's comic book roots. But let's be honest here, I'm sure Joel Schumacher thought the same thing when he pulled out the blindingly purple bat suits.

What the Dark Knight is, to me at least, is a return to the Batman I grew up with, Batman: The Animated Series. This might seem strange considering that the new film is at times so surreal in it's violent aftermath that I highly question taking any toddlers to go see it. But I want you to look at the animated series again. Although it was targeted to children, the series was so highly stylized, intricately structured, and simply "dark" in it's content, that I'm certain a series like it will never be produced again.

The questions the Dark Knight asks me over the course of it's epic film length are essentially the same questions I was asked when I was in kindergarten, while watching twenty minute episodes after Tiny Toons, questions that made me evaluate the concept of justice while never negotiating what is right and wrong. That's not a bad thing. That is exactly what we need, and it tears me apart knowing that shows like this, that actually build morality, have been shoved aside for shows like Dora the Explorer.

The Dark Knight is a return to the true Batman our society needs.

It's worth every cent to see.

7.21.2008

Videos of Music

I saw this music video a while ago and initially, I admit, I wasn't enthralled by it, but recently I stumbled across the mp3 of the song and now basically love it.



This one too.



But this next one is just amazing.



Beautiful.

7.20.2008

The Incredible Hulk - Movie Review

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The Incredible Hulk
***--

Ooooh, ahhhhhh, yeah I bet you're all hung up on that Dark Knight movie right now and are telling all your friends about what a masterpiece it is. Well, jerk bag, some people out there don't have "friends" willing to spend ten bucks for a movie, and maybe that certain "people" just found a cheapo movie theater by his house that only costs three bucks per ticket, and maybe that "person" is me, and that "person" which is me instead decided to watch the Incredible Hulk for three bucks with his roommate Micah last night. Hypothetically, of course.

Well, jerk bag, I liked the Incredible Hulk. I was thoroughly satisfied with my hypothetical three dollar investment.

If you don't know what the Incredible Hulk is about already, well don't worry, the film makes little to no effort to catch you up. What this movie understands is that there really is no satisfactory explanation for why Bruce Banner turns into a giant green beast when he's angry. All you need to know is this: Banner was once a scientist, one of his experiments went wrong, and now the government wants to turn him into a giant green beast army. Done.

The only unsatisfactory explanation the film attempts to avoid is how exactly a giant green beast monster is able to get away from the government, in the middle of a fight, while being bombarded by tanks, helicopters, and the entire U.S. Army. There are frequent cut-aways after every scuffle, which isn't necessarily a bad choice considering that running away would probably be considered cowardly for a bullet-proof monster, but the cut-aways are awkwardly executed and leave a giant question mark in the viewers mind. This could have easily been solved by having the Hulk simply leap off into the woods, or hide behind a giant green shrub. But then again, I suppose the shrub method would end up with a pair of comical green eyes peeking out from the bushes. Excuse me while I giggle quietly to myself with that image in my mind.

What most people want to know is what separates this film, "The Incredible Hulk" from "The Hulk" just, which was a film directed by Ang Lee five years ago.

Here's the list:
1. No mutant dogs.
2. No crazy mutant "symbolic" jelly-fish
3. No split screen comic book effects
4. Less talking
5. Less green.
6. No cross-country jumping.

What the Incredible Hulk wants to be is a re-invention of the series, much in the same way Batman Begins and The Dark Knight renewed that comic book inspired series in the same way. The problem here is that the Incredible Hulk is more of a Hulk-lite as it simply takes away the elements that people disliked about the original film.

The shame here is that the original Hulk was incorrectly regarded as a "bad film" when in reality it was an alright film with some seriously bad problems. Sure, we give the new Hulk credit for having amazing actors such as Edward Norton, Tim Roth, Liv Tyler and William Hurt, but we forget that the original also had a solid cast of Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly and Sam Elliot. There were a lot of great dynamics going on, but they became overwhelmed by bland CGI battles so nonsensical it stretched our imaginations even for a story focused on a giant green monster man.

Well, I can safely say the new Hulk suspends our disbelief just long enough for us not to start questioning it. It's fun, it's entertaining, it's mildly retarded, but most of all, it's satisfying. The performances are solid, the special effects are convincing, and most of all there are lots of explosion noises that go BLOOSHHH!!

But for those who think the Incredible Hulk is completely mindless, I actually found a lot of symbolism in the film towards the story of Sampson and Delilah, notably in how Banner has his hair cut by his sweetheart Betty, or with the towering pillars during the climatic last battle. I don't know what's more interesting, that these symbolic images are here intentionally, or that they're here and no one realized it.

No matter what the case, The Incredible Hulk does it's job. It's fun to watch and teaches you a valuable life lesson.
...Unless you watched Iron Man, then you already learned that lesson pretty well already.

Watch Iron Man.

7.19.2008

There Goes The Self-Soiling Again



Heck. YES.

Heck yes.

I need to change my pants.

7.18.2008

Jumper - Movie Review

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Jumper
*----

What would you do if you found out you could teleport? Without a doubt, I am sure one brief consideration would be to rob a bank. It would be so simple to execute, so simple in fact that the only thing stopping you would be your conscience. Besides, there must be other, more honest ways of making money while being able to hop between destinations. So I'm betting you'd change your answer to say you'd see the Eiffel Tower, or voyage to the top of every mountain and take a picture. Fun. Exciting.

Having such a rare ability would no doubt be filled with possibilities. So it's a wonder why the central character in "Jumper," the film adaptation to the book series of the same name, would limit himself to thievery, but he does. There's a clear message being sent to us, the viewers, as David (Hayden Christensen) lounges in his massive apartment while watching trapped hurricane victims on the nightly news. He is capable of making an incredible difference in the world, but is too busy getting a suntan on top of the Sphinx to care.

In fact, it's a wonder that David isn't massively obese, considering that he literally teleports himself two feet to grab the remote control, or "jumps" across the room to grab a glass of milk.

This film should be science fiction, as in, there should be a science or "rules" to David's ability. It seems like he should only be able to jump to places he has seen in his memories or physically been to, but apparently just looking at a photograph is good enough as long as he's able to "focus." It also seems like there should be limits to what he can take with him. An apartment "seems" like a big finale, until you realize another character just teleported an entire double decker bus out into the desert.

What Jumper needed above all else was a method at being convincing. How cool would it have been if there were more unintentional jumps? What if he accidentally teleported himself while dreaming? What if he looked at a picture of the planet Mars? There's a goldmine of unexplored possibilities here that are never even addressed.

Sure, the Jumps look cool, but with the constant glitches in logic and continuity the film is impossible to focus on.
"Wait a second," you'll say, "What happened to all the people on that double decker bus he just flipped over?"

As a matter of fact, the central characters of David and Griffin, no joke, probably KILL more people in this movie than the villains do. Case in point: in one scene Griffin jumps a truck, while an innocent man is still driving it, to the middle of an Afghanistan battle zone where it is immediately crushed by a tank. While Griffin escapes in the nick of time, the man is most certainly dead.

The strange thing here is that Griffin (played by Jamie Bell) is by far the most interesting character of the bunch, and far more charming in his irresponsible teleportations than David is capable of. But somehow the film sees him as a villain as well.

The most disturbing notion about Jumper is that none of the central characters are heroes at all. I'm not going to ruin the ending here by saying that no one learns any kind of lesson at the end. David doesn't make any further efforts to use his power for good, unless you consider going at it with Rachel Bilson "good," then by all means the man should be considered a saint.

It looks like the only thing he got to do was Jump-HER!

zing!

Don't bother.

New Song Friday - One of These Days

This one's a little bit more traditional, a little more laid back, maybe a little less apocalyptic, but also a tad experimental with a hint of minimalism. Maybe. Whatever it is, it has character, and isn't that all that matters?
No?
Oh. Well maybe I'll write a review for that movie Jumper then.

If you're up for it, here it is:

One of These Days - Zack Newcott and the Chemical Cow

Jaws of Life

Since it's summer, and this guy was featured on Boing Boing doing renditions of classic movie themes.



Not too shabby, sometime I'll have to share with him my version of the Jurassic Park theme song, the one my brother and I wrote when we were in elementary school.
It's epic. Believe me.

Still, I think I'm going to stop checking Boing Boing. I get bad vibes from that site, for some reason.

No sirree, I'll be sticking with good ole Video Jug, thank you very much.


Make-Up Tips For Men: How To Reduce The Size Of Your Nose

Huh. So THAT's how you reduce the size of your nose.
My method involved a hammer and a belt sander, but this is MUCH less painful.

Here.
This is a tutorial that's both educational AND fun.


How To Have A Romantic Picnic

You better believe I'm taking notes.

7.17.2008

Vantage Point - Movie Review



Vantage Point
**---

Oh, hey.
What's that?
You've already seen the trailer for Vantage Point?
Oh, okay then. So how was the movie?
Right. You only saw the trailer. So how did you like it?
No. No. That's basically it.
The trailer basically is the movie.
I feel better referring to it as the "abridged version."
Yes, there is a bit more to the movie than what you saw, but to be completely honest, it's not much. And unfortunately, Vantage Point is all about what you see.

Vantage Point is held together by the one concept the title suggests. It is the story of an assassination viewed from the perspective of eight different onlookers, with each story told separately through flashbacks.

Including the guy who plays Jack from LOST.
That guy's really into flashbacks, apparently.

While the gimmick was enough to get me interested, the problem with this story is that it's central catalyst, the assassination itself, doesn't merit the moment to being viewed numerous times over. Yes, the president gets shot, and the stage blows up, but the reasons for it never go much farther beyond a gun being fired there and a bomb being thrown here.
There really isn't a mystery to be solved. Someone shot the president and caused a big boom.

As far as the gimmick is concerned?
It basically gets dropped by the end of the movie.
After watching the same explosion eight times, it's clear that the filmmakers lost track of whose vantage point they were actually looking through.

Eventually the film just becomes one chase scene, one chase so long that it literally stops making sense within the context of all the view points we previously experienced.

I never realized humans could outrun cars. Or that Forest Whitaker can basically fly.
But apparently there's a lot I don't know.

Vatage Point, was entertaining, which means I didn't regret the dollar fifty I spent renting it. But as I said that night I drove that stolen car off a cliff, I REGRET NOTHING.
So that really doesn't mean much in this case.

Don't bother.

7.15.2008

The Jane Austen Book Club - Movie Review

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The Jane Austen Book Club
***?-

Dude. Nobody told me this movie had two lesbian chicks in it.
How did this happen?
The movie was all like, talk talk talk, cry cry cry, talk cry laugh, slap slap slap, and then, BAM! Two ladies were totally in bed together.
Sure, it's PG-13, and actually has no impact whatsoever on the storyline considering that the two characters basically get dropped from the script by the end of the movie, but there they are. Lesbians.
I got's to get me some more books by Austen.

This is, however, the hook of the Jane Austen Book Club, a movie I rented for "visiting friends," and not in anyway for myself... *cough*
Stop giving me that look.

Yes, the Jane Austen Book Club is, as my roommate Micah noted, the movie based off the books, based off the movies based off the books by Jane Austen, who wrote the original books, originally. If you don't understand it, you're probably a guy, so let me try to put it into guy terms.

Jane Austen is kind of like Sonic the Hedgehog. The original games were classic, fun, and really popular, but then SEGA got greedy and started making things based off the original games that were complete crap, like Sonic Spinball, Sonic Shuffle, and even Sonic's Schoolhouse. But some good things came out of Sonic spin-offs, such as the Saturday morning cartoon show, the one that WASN'T on PBS. Eventually, I think they even made a direct to video movie of that. You see? That was a movie based off a show based off a game, and it probably wasn't any good.
The same thing applies here, except Jane Austen is Sonic the Hedgehog and the video-games are actually books.

Crystal clear.

So, how was the Jane Austen Book Club?
To be honest, it kind of made me want to join an actual Jane Austen Book Club, which I would say is a great thing. If there's one lesson I learned from this movie, it's that all Jane Austen book lovers are emotionally fragile and very attractive people, who might also be lesbians who do extreme sports.

"Care to sky dive me-lady?"

Or maybe I'm better off joining a Jane Austen Movie Club.

Still, when it comes down to it, the Jane Austen Book Club movie isn't half bad. The characters are mostly charming, the social dynamics interesting, and for the ladies out there, there are gratuitous camera pans of men in bike shorts.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with the Pride and Prejudice movie being 10, which had keira knightley, and Becoming Jane being 1, which didn't have keira knightley, the Jane Austen Book Club gets a B-, because it is only distantly related to both of those movies anyway.
And since it doesn't have Mr. Darcy in it, it gets bonus points in my book.
Suck it Mr. Darcy.
For the rest of you, I'm willing to recommend it.



Rent it (especially if she asks you to).

7.14.2008

Funny Games - Movie Review

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Funny Games
*****

Every horror film is a gamble as far as I'm concerned. I can either look forward to shielding my eyes for two hours, or shield my eyes later, that night, when I'm under my covers, and the monsters lurk menacingly in my shower. But there has been a disturbing trend in the horror genre ever since charming scares have become substituted for bloody thrills. It's noticeable more now than ever before, gore is in. This goes for all forms of entertainment these days, and it takes only two minutes channel surfing to find a sanguine corpse on any show featuring cops and robbers.

Funny Games knows how much we like it. The violence. It knows that blood has flowed through the slitted veins of poetry, novels, television, and the stories passed down verbally throughout history. We pit our characters in situations that divide the good from the bad, and then give them their just rewards. This movie, is only defined so because we watch it on a screen. In reality it is more of a psychological experiment, one that challenges our perceptions of the fictional and it's influence upon reality.

A wealthy, affluent family is traveling to their vacation home in an equally prestigious neighborhood. Along the way they stop to briefly speak to their friends who are engaged in a stilted and unusually silent game of golf with two young men sporting pristine white gloves. Nothing seems normal about them, and when one of them appears later on the front steps, requesting exactly four eggs, things begin to get tense quick.

What follows is an analysis of what you, the viewer, expect for entertainment, and what lines you draw concerning what can, and can't be done, to the characters you root for.

The two young men propose a bet, a slightly one sided one considering that they're armed with a golf-club. The bet is this, by 9 A.M. the following morning the entire family, mother father and son, will all be dead.
"I bet you're on their side," on of the men in white says, and it takes a moment to realize he is directly addressing you, the viewer.

I have never experienced a film that broke the fourth wall to such an unnerving and exciting extent as Funny Games. The message is loudly established, the rules to movie-making simply do not apply to these characters, who cheat at their own game not only by manipulating their victims, but manipulating the viewer. They change things with the film, things that purposefully ruin the progression of the narrative. They take the plot structure and twist it to their own benefit. It's cheap. It's dirty.

The point is this, they have every right to do what they want.
There is this profound knowledge at the end, one that sinks down deep inside your stomach, that lets you know that you are no better than these villian's. Violence is what we crave, but we're also so selfish as to demand consistent happy endings. We want good to overcome evil, but at the same time we want complete and utter destruction. What right do we have to get away from the theatre, while these fictional characters are condemned to death from the very start?

Funny Games manages to avoid any hypocrisies in it's message and commentary on the "torture-porn" genre by skillfully hiding any actions involving gore from the audience, off screen. It's just as effective, and when it does show up, it only serves as commentary for what we consider "just" or "satisfactory" action. At the same time the film understands the difference between gore, and violence. With this in mind, it is more painful and emotionally stressful to watch than most thrillers on the market.

I thought this film, in many ways, was just brilliant. But it's harshness towards the viewer makes it a hard one to recommend to the squeamish. Still, if you're looking for a truly different viewing experience, and one you will easily be thinking about long afterwards, I couldn't recommend it more.
Watch it.

7.13.2008

Bottom of the Barrel

I arrived at my brother's housing complex at 6:15, happy that I managed to get there in time without any traffic. The only minor problem was that the guest parking spaces were all taken, but I was used to it. What I usually do is park next door in the adjacent housing complex. They have four or five of their own spots that are usually empty, and to be honest, I had been using them for the past two years without a hitch. Luckily for me, there was one left.

The strangest thing happened though when I stepped out and locked the doors. I heard a voice of a woman screaming in the distance. For a moment I thought it was my imagination, but then I looked up to see a woman three stories above me on her balcony. She was yelling something, but with the oncoming traffic just yards away, the sounds were dulled. To make matters worse, my glasses had been lost somewhere inside my apartment the whole week.
So I found myself standing in the cramped parking spaces looking up at a strange blur making noises in the sky. I figured she was either dying, being killed, or yelling at someone else, and fearing myself being caught in some kind of bad CSI episode, I instead decided to just walk away from this one.

I arrived in time for the babysitting gig and managed to entertain my nephew while also getting to build myself a blanket fort in the living room.
Blanket forts, free dinner, it was really a perfect night.

Then I went back to my car.
Or I should say, I didn't go back to my car. Because I couldn't see it, I couldn't hear it when I pressed the panic button, and it seemed to have turned into a completely different car altogether in the spot I had parked in previously.
Two guys came out of the apartment building and I seized the chance to ask them if they had seen a tow truck, two car burglars, or a really small tornado. It turned out that a tow truck had shown up within the two hours I had been baby-sitting and managed to snag my car.

Sucks, is pretty much the only word that describes it.
I walked back to my brothers place and told him the situation, and luckily he knew how to get in touch with the towing company. It was however, unlucky that the towing company repeatedly hung up on him whenever he called.
He managed to get this much information:

1. They did in fact have my car.
2. It would cost money to get it back.
3. 260 dollars to be exact.
4. They needed the registered owner of the car to claim it.

(they hung up again)

5. I was not the registered owner of the car.
6. It was not in fact "my car."

(they hung up again)

7. So I wouldn't get it back.

Then they hung up one last time.

The hope we had was that whoever called the towing company could maybe influence them to somehow vouch for us and influence the situation a tad, since I was technically on their premises as a guest.

The only problem is that housing communities like this one don't really have a "manager" in charge. What they do have is a series of passive-aggressive people who like to pass on responsibility.
Or in this case, just aggressive people.

The first person my brother managed to contact was a woman who lived inside the community. After ringing her doorbell she instead decided to yell down to us from her balcony.
Her accent, not quite Chinese and not quite completely influenced by a mental disorder, was nearly impossible to understand. She yelled down that the "Car been tow!"
Our response was simply, "We need you to contact the towing company."
Which she then replied with, "Yes! Car been tow! Your car tow!"
"No," my brother explained, "we need you to call the towing company."
"Okay, be right down!" She said, and then disappeared to her dark recesses.

It didn't appear that she would be coming out again.

But then someone else came towards us. Another woman.
Loudly, she explained that it was she who called the towing company in the first place after watching me park. Apparently, this lady was the screaming blur I had seen earlier telling me not to park.
She continued to angrily explain that she called the towing company after I had "given her the finger," and then "hopped in another car and drove away."
Both of which were complete lies.
By now the woman had been joined by the Asian/mentally disturbed lady who continued to explain, "car tow."

The women then went on and casually argued that I just needed my parents to fax me the registration and have it notarized in order to claim the car, a process which I noted would take days.
"That's not my problem," She said.
We attempted to explain to them that I was in fact a guest and that it's irresponsible to tow cars immediately, without any proper signs or notification, and that the very least decent thing they could do for us would be to call the towing company and give them the go-ahead to release the car.


She called them, but managed to get a hold of the same hang-up happy tow-man my brother did.
Her conversation went something like this:

"Hello? I'm calling about a car... yeah, that one... (laughs) yeah, that's what I figured... Yeah, tell me about it. They're so frustrating... Well, I assumed so."

Now, I don't know how people like this actually get to exist. But I remember when we asked for her name and she said "It's White, like the color!" and then laughed at her own cleverness. I shook my head and knew we were dealing with the bottom of the barrel.

She explained to us that it was "out of her hands," and crossed her arms.
I tried to explain the concept of responsibility.
The Asian-like woman said something about "car tow!"
It was going nowhere.

So my brother started driving us towards the car impound lot. Along the way I prayed for some kind of miracle that would free my car.
My brother asked me, "Did you actually see her when you parked? And hear her say something to you?"
"I heard her, but I honestly didn't know what it was. There was tons of traffic and I couldn't see who she was talking to."
He shook his head and I felt like crap. "I should've moved it, I would have but I just didn't know," I tried to explain. But it didn't really make sense. My brain is like swiss-cheese, with holes where logic should be. I've tried a long time to avoid people who yell at me, so I just assumed walking away from a loud stranger was a good idea.

When we eventually arrived at the lot, we were not exactly greeted by the man sitting the behind bullet-proof glass, but were definitely stared at.
It was the same guy from the phone.
He asked for my license and then opened the door, "only for me."
So I had to leave my brother behind, a scary thought considering that he's probably the more personable one.

I was met on the other side by a different tow-man who took me out back where the cars were.

"So," He said out of curiosity, "did you really give that lady the finger man?" He asked, amused.
I shook my head, "Aww, no. Did she honestly say that?"
"Yeah, when I was loading up your car she and this other crazy lady came out."
"Oh! The crazy Asian one?!" I asked.
"Was she Asian??"
"I have no idea," I replied. "But no, I didn't give her a finger. I saw her yelling at me from three stories up and walked away."
"They were such a pain," He noted, laughing.
"I'm sorry you had to deal with them," I said.

The car looked fine. It just felt strange unlocking it in a place I didn't leave it.

"I'll need to check out the registration to give you the go ahead to take it out."
I rummaged through the drivers compartment until I found it.
He looked it over and noted what I feared, my license didn't match the registration.
"I'm not supposed to let the car go if this doesn't match." He said.
"Oh gosh," I said.
"Are you're parents able to claim it?"
"No, they live in Washington D.C. I just drove it down here a few weeks ago from there and haven't registered it or anything."
"Hmm," he mused. "Listen, I know you're not up to anything. I can easily just tell the guy up front it's good."
I thought he should know, "I think my brother actually talked to him earlier and told him the car wasn't registered under me."
"Oh man," he said. "Are you sure?"
"Pretty positive."
He looked at the car registration and then shrugged his shoulders, "Meh, I'll make it work."

Immediately, I knew I was looking at a miracle. For a moment, I loved him. Really. Loved him. In a totally not-gay way.
"Thanks so much man," I said.
"It happens more than you think," he shrugged.

I went back to the bullet-proof glass and waited for the man up front to hang up his phone again. He then turned to the other tow-man, "Hey, what did you find?"
"Yeah they both have their names on the registration," he said, "so they're good to go."

I paid the tab and took my car back.
260 bucks and they didn't even clean it, come on, can't they throw in something for free once and a while? But still, it was nice, like returning home after a truly, truly, terrible vacation. I missed it. And it was nice. Really nice.

The Tracey Fragments - Movie Review



The Tracey Fragments
-----

It's been a while since I gave a bad review, and to be honest, I didn't expect to give one so soon. But here comes the Tracey Fragments, an "experimental" film from Canadian director (eh?) Bruce McDonald, and starring the insanely talented Ellen Page.

In this film Ellen Page stars as the title character Tracey, who after a night looking for her missing little brother, finds herself half-naked on a city bus to nowhere. Her very rigid search is partially a result of her decision to "hypnotize" her brother into thinking he's a dog. The only problem is that when this dog wanders off, you can't just visit the pound to pick him up.

If I were to be handed the script for The Tracey Fragments along with that above synopsis I would say it sounds like the best comedy of the year.

The only problem is, it's not a comedy. In fact, it's as far away from a comedy as possible. It's more easily describable as a teen-psychological-drama with horror influences, mostly because there's a disturbing fat man in a clown costume at one point. You won't laugh, you won't feel good about yourself, but more likely than not, you won't feel any kind of emotion at all. For a story that involves missing children, abusive parents, drug addicts, attempted rape, and a whole host of irredeemable acts, I found that emotional passiveness on my part to be more disturbing than anything else. Frankly, I don't think that's my fault.

The characters are as dimensional as cardboard cut-outs with random psychological symptoms that could be found in a hardcover copy of the DSM-IV written across their faces. Tracey, rather than be illustrated as the down-trodden hero, instead finds herself in a perfect storm of physical and emotional abuse so violent, that it comes off as realistic as The Day After Tomorrow (That's my way of saying it's over-blown, over-hyped, and unrealistic).

In fact, the whole movie is so over the top in it's artistic seriousness, I am more likely to compare it to "Better Off Dead," the teen comedy starring John Cusack, than any other, more affective teen drama, say, Gus Van Sant's "Elephant," or, heck, even "Juno."

The majority of the film is predictably delivered through the tried and true film-major patented method of flashbacks and voice-over narration. The over-arching theme here is clearly "Fragment's." So the film's one card in the deck is multiple split-screens, sometimes even a dozen at once. It gives the film a stylistic feel in the same vein as a comic book, but it is never put to adequate use.

It's all style, no substance. And that "fragmented" screen effect is cool, only until you realize it was put to greater, much more powerful use, in the film Conversations With Other Women, which was sadly overlooked.

Tracy Fragments, I award you no points. For whatever artistic risks you make, you refuse to be entertaining or meaningful in any way.
Don't bother.

7.12.2008

King of California - Review

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King of California
***--

There's something magical about the idea of buried treasure. In fact, I'm fairly certain if you were to give anyone a shovel, a compass, and vast area of land they'd immediately go looking for it. I mean, after you point a gun at them and tell them to dig. No matter what the case, the act of finding treasure is as rewarding as the act of claiming it for your own. King of California, the independent film starring Michael Douglas and Evan Rachel Wood, tries to claim that treasure for itself.

Miranda's dad has just been released from a mental institution, this time looking only a little less crazy than when she saw him last, which was when he was violently strangling himself from a chandelier. In his absence, she got a spiffy job at a McDonalds, a truly terrible car, and also apparently stopped calling her father, Charlie, by the honorary title of dad.

It's a tense situation, and you can tell that on your own. Unfortunately, the movie deems it necessary to give Miranda a voice-over for the majority of the first act. It seems redundant, and the insights she provides are, for the most part, dull and uninspired.

Luckily, Miranda's dad has a plan so crazy that it just might work. He's certain that there's a cache of Spanish doubloon's buried somewhere in Southern California, and they're close by. The only problem is, the "x" that marks this spot is located six feet underneath a Costco.

Charlie's aspirations, and the apparent lack-luster existence of Miranda's life, immediately clash. Within this is a great dynamic as the dreams of the supposed caretaker become a burden upon the shoulders of the child. It builds well, and when the tether that binds the two literally gets pushed to the limit, it really starts to shine. Unfortunately, the lack-luster existence of Miranda's life is equally reflected in her character, who falls flat in comparison to Michael Douglas's electric and often dramatically moving personality.

Though it gets off to a rough start, and at times resembles more of a student film than a full-on production, King of California gets one thing right. It turns the overdeveloped landscape of California into a cement playground, one where fortunes, treasures, and adventures are waiting buried under every golf-course, Petco, and Applebee's. It has a charming sense of hope about it that makes you forgive it's flaws, no matter how many that be.

It's certainly worth a rental.

7.11.2008

Snow Was Falling Like Confetti At The Devil's Parade



I just soiled myself.

And I am going to soil myself again.

I don't think you understand. My whole LIFE has led up to this moment.
My adolescence was spent playing Max Payne on repeat while listening to the soundtrack of the broadway musical 42nd Street through my stereo.
I used to synchronize my slow-motion dual barrette strafing to the music. And it was beautiful. Glorious. The blood being speckled across the wall like a Pollack painting on cocaine, but the only drug here was adrenaline, and it ran through my veins faster than a prostitute covered in fire ants.
Ope, there goes the soiling again.

I really should get that checked out.

Drunken Videogame Related Post

There are a lot of things people will tell you not to do. Pee off a balcony, fight crime in a home-made costume, post on your blog while under the influence. But I say this, "How drunk can you be if you're able to type?"
This drunk. that's how.

Really. The only reason I'm posting this is because I know there has to be something on this blog by morning time. That, and I have a friend from out of town who is a bad influence and bought a crate of Mike's Hard Lemonade and Pyramid themed alcohol.

So here you go.

This is an online series I really enjoy.



This video, also videogame related, also happened to be hilarious to me. For some reason. Probably also related to the pyramid alcohol.



I promise I'll be back when I'm more sensible. I swear.
Until then, here's the anime-ambassador of Japan with a special message just for you.



He brings you news of peace. I think. Or war. Just don't take it personally. Okay?


****Editorial Note******

The author of this blog would like to inform you that he was not in fact, "drunk" during this post, but merely "buzzed." The Awkward Unicorn Regrets the error, and hopes that you don't write this off as one of "those" blogs, the kind written by a partying college frat boy, and instead continue to believe it was written by a journalist with a qualified degree. We appreciate your readership and hope you can help us reach our temporary goal of 10,000 viewers. Thank you.

7.09.2008

News From Way Way Beyond

So much has been going on recently, and I know there's one question on all our minds, "What have I missed in Japan?"

The answer is THIS:



Robot-Mech-Warrior-Opera-Singers, if you didn't want it before, you definitely want more of it now.

There are three things I want you to pay attention to in this video:

1. The robot holding an anime-action-figurine of a young Japanese school girl.

The scary thing? That figurine is to SCALE. If those robot-mechs were singing in real life they'd be the size of sky-scrapers.

2. Notice the green robot on the far right.

That thing doesn't even have eye holes. The person standing inside of it is in complete darkness. Can you imagine what will happen when he fires off those nukes strapped to his back? I mean, if those nukes were functional? It'll be a global crisis, that's what. A crisis only solvable with even bigger, louder, singing robots.

3. The applause at the end.

The audience is clearly too much in awe to react.

This one is a video I stole from Japan Probe.
It's a cat that delivers mail between two houses.



Yeah. You saw it too.
Japan has friggin mail carrying cats now. DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT THIS MEANS?
We have a whole working market just waiting to be replaced by animals. Dogs that deliver pizza, ducks that can deliver newspapers, gorillas with jury summons!
The bad news is that this cat can only go between the two houses he's fed at. Apparently he ran away to one house, then returned to the other, and now is just going back and forth.

Still. It does have a little bow, and isn't that all that matters?


now. This is one I actually enjoy.



It's live-action Pac-man, where the losing Pac-man is severely beaten into submission by ghosts with bats until he collapses.

I consider it an allegory for depression.
It's wonderful.

Walrus On Tape

Very cool.

Another Little Ditty - Me and Drew

Meh. I'm sorry. I'm afraid today's song was a bit rushed. I had to record it early this morning, and as a result skipped the most important meal of the day, brunch.


Me and Drew - Zack Newcott and the Chemical Cow


I'm still not entirely comfortable about playing in my apartment. My hope is that I will eventually get used to it, but it's certainly going to be awkward until then. Especially with all the beatings these songs get from my roommates.
Oh well, if it's not music, at least it's therapy.

This one's about Drew Barrymore and the terribly good (and sometimes just terrible) movies she's in.

The good news is that I took the time over the past week and cleaned up the old audio files I had so that you can actually "hear" some of the older songs I did. They're not uploaded, but they are on a cd form with sharpie on the front.



Me and Drew

Oh Drew Barrymore
we might have more
in common than you think
Oh Drew Barrymore
our feet are on the floor
but the boat's about to sink

Although I was never
an Angel for Charlie
or in Waynes World 2 with Chris Farley
there's more than you might think

and although I never helped
Donnie go through time
or helped to make
Hugh Grant's songs rhyme
there's more than you might think

There's a lot of things
that I might have missed,
but remember that role
in Never Been Kissed?
Time probably changed
a lot of things for you,
but for me
it could never be more true.

Although I never
Pitched balls with Jimmy Fallon
or sang songs
with Woody Allen
there's more than you might think.

Although I never
met the Wedding Singer
or gave Freddie the finger
there's more than you might think

There's a lot of things
that I might have missed,
but remember that role
in Never Been Kissed?
Time probably changed
a lot of things for you,
but for me
it could never be more true.

7.08.2008

Wall*E - Movie Review, but more of an analysis



Wall*E
*****

By now you have no doubt heard about Wall*E, Pixar's latest opus. I am also certain you've probably seen Wall*E, read other reviews of Wall*E, talked to friends about Wall*E, and then bought a plush Wall*E to hang on your rear view mirror. I mean, who could resist?
That's why I didn't bother writing a review about it. It's a damn good movie and people already know it.
The problem I only recently realized is that people don't realize "how" damn good of a movie Wall*E is. Just like the machine which the movie empathizes with, it's difficult to understand the mechanics that make it tick.

So I'm only going to briefly recap the story.
Earth has been all used up, and Wall*E is the name of the line of robots left on earth to do the clean up work. It's not an original name, it's a model type. But after hundreds of years of cleaning up without anyone to look after them, the robots have stopped working, and stopped thriving, for reasons unknown. For this reason the only one left becomes original, or is original because he is the only one left. He sleeps in a small trailer-like compartment filled with collected objects, like a pack-rat hoarding things in his attic.

The question of why he is alive is a central one, but not one specifically asked. One of the most human traits is that of self-preservation. Wall*E gets up each morning and puts on the chains for his wheels, sometimes changing them when they break. He continues to do his job even though there is little reason at all for it. Not unlike Gregor Samsa, the traveling salesman turned giant cockroach from Kafka's Metamorphosis(perhaps even referenced in Wall*E's insect friend), there is something existential about Wall*E's existence. It is filled with action, but no substance. But what draws the most interest is that Wall*E knows it.

He is visited by Eve, a brand-spanking new robot and the antithesis of Wall*E. If there's proof that opposites attract, this is it. This is the essential theme of new technology vs. old technology, and how both sides want to merge. Eve was sent to earth for a reconnaissance mission, not to make friends, but Wall*E has been alone, and he has been alone for too long to let the chance slip by.

This again challenges the notion of existentialism and perhaps even nihilism in accordance to man's isolation in the universe. Wall*E suddenly realizes that he is not alone, and immediately tries to capture whatever it is that has found him. He eventually even brings it home where it could perhaps rest alongside his other collected objects, but this is another individual literally not meant to be confined to Wall*E's world.

Loneliness is a hard theme to capture correctly. It can be established through wide empty spaces or hollow conversations, but it never been so apparent than in Wall*E's relation to Eve. When Eve is temporarily shut-down, Wall*E still attempts to spend time with her, wake her up, even have romantic outings with her. When she is taken away, he follows her. She is his window to the universe, a promise that he is in fact in the presence of others. When he finally meets those others we begin to delve into the commonly tracked theme of nature vs. technology, a theme so commonly tackled that it is argued to be this film's weakest point. Nevertheless, the interpersonal relationship between Wall*E and Eve is what really counts, and luckily, the film does it immense justice.

One of the unique aspects of this Pixar film is that it occasionally features live-action segments with filmed actors, along with animated versions of humans in the future. No one talks about it because it doesn't bother anyone. The reason for this lies in the uncanny valley of technology. We connect with Wall*E and Eve despite the fact that they have no organic feature about them, but we feel for them because they are just as expressive, just as human-like in their qualities. The animated humans are cartoonish and comical in their appearance, but we feel for them in the same way. What would have happened if Pixar had decided to use photo-realistic models like Beowulf, or Final Fantasy: the Spirits Within? It would have been significantly hindered, maybe even ruined. The images would have been disjointed, and we would have seen Wall*E as far more human than the characters we recognize as versions of us.

Finally, there's the concept of identity, and if it can be removed. If you were to name a ship, have it destroyed in various hurricanes, and then repeatedly piece it together with different parts, are you left with the same ship? Is it even a ship at all? What is Wall*E after he is pieced together? Has man managed to make a soul, and if he has, then why bother saving the human race? Wall*E, in his journey, has in a way saved his creator. It makes you wonder how happy the ending would have been if it was just him and Eve left on earth. Would it have been just as human?

Learning to Love Me More



Not so long ago Miranda July and Harrell Fletcher, along with a number of other artists I never heard of but I'm sure are equally talented yet nameless to me, came up with a website known as "Learning to Love You More" where a series of art assignments were given. The charming part was that anyone could participate.

Each assignment was creative and revealed something innately original about each individual that participated.

Without a doubt, I wanted to participate, but didn't. I don't know why. Probably because I think I'd manage to do them wrong, or somehow manage to get a bad grade even though the assignments were never graded.

So I think I have waited long enough.

I decided to do Assignment #53

For this assignment I was to "Give Advice to Yourself In The Past."

Here were the directions:

Choose a particular age you have been, perhaps a time when you were particularly lost. Write out a list of practical advice to yourself at that age. Begin the list with this header: "Advice To Michelle Cambell at Sixteen" (only use your name and whatever age you want.) You must specify the age that you are giving yourself advice to!! Be very specific with your advice, for example, don't just say "Hold on to your heart," but instead say "Don't go out with Kevin, he will eventually cheat on you. Go out with Jake instead, he is actually cooler." If you need to use fake names go ahead. It is easy to say that everything happens for a reason, but take this opportunity to redirect yourself towards what you think might have been better. Sure everything turned out ok, but maybe you should have quit that job five years earlier, maybe you should have had children when you were 27, maybe you should have flossed, maybe you should have gone to the alternative high school, or not said that thing to your best friend. Tell yourself what to do in clear, specific language. Do not write an essay, make it in list form.


Some of these were pretty sweet and intriguing. Entries include tips such as "9)Your parents love you but they worry for you because you are lying to them and they know it. It will take four years but you will become close with your mother." Or, "4. Tell mom and dad you're serious about dancing now. If not, seventeen years later you still won't be able to touch your toes and you'll be jealous of the people who've been dancers all their lives." Or, for most people, it involves something like, "Stop eating doughnuts and start walking around more."

Yes. If I were grading these they would all get F's.
You don't write advice like this to yourself. Seriously, you have to go for the jugular. Remember, the past version of you has no idea what they're in for...

Okay. So here's my shot at this. *cracks fingers*



Name: Zachary Newcott


"Advice to Zachary Newcott at Age 10"

1. Robots. Thousands of them.
2. You do not have much time.
3. Destroy Cyberdyne.
4. Find Sky-net and ensure it is not operational.
5. Get a Delorean.
6. Go to future self FIRST and get a friggin hoverboard.
7. Tip #6 will make tips 1-4 a LOT easier.
8. Don't go all the way with Sarah Connor unless you're sure you want to be responsible for an annoying character named John who will supposedly save us all.
9. If you ignored #8 you'll probably die before the end of the movie.
10. If you just read tip #9, ask yourself how you got this list.
11. When you accidentally travel too far back in time while trying to get this list to yourself, don't step on anything.
12. Seriously. Don't step on anything.
13. Get that crazy doctor to build a flying, time-traveling locomotive in the first place instead of a Delorean.
14. BEHIND YOU!
15. Don't believe anyone who says this note isn't real. They're actually cyborgs. Probably. I'd just ignore them.
16. Just kidding about all those robots.
17. But am I? Eh? Think about it, the future could be seriously messed up kid, you have no idea.
19. There actually are zombies here, always keep a golf club nearby just in case.
20. Face it, you don't want to look at a list of things to watch out for. Imagine carrying this around with you all the time. That's no way to live man.
21. You would make more mistakes trying to live your life perfect than just living life on your own.
22. You're okay. When things look bad, look through a different window. Everything is working out okay, don't worry about it so much.
23. If you spend your life counting every step, or counting every second, you're going to fail to make life count.
24. But seriously, hoverboards. It'll happen.


So that's my list. What's yours?