Monday, December 17, 2007

Oregon Trail 2 taught me the word "miscellany"

- Today I received a call from sub services.

Sub services lady: Yes, would you like to fill in at this school? You'll be subbing for a Mrs. Fields.
Drew: I'm sorry, what was her name again?
Sub services lady: Fields. Like...Strawberry Fields Forever.
Drew: ...

I think it's fucking great that she said that, but I'm not really sure why. Subtle appreciation of The Beatles? Bizarre cultural reference? The world may never know.

- I advanced to the quarterfinal round of Slamdance's annual Horror Screenplay Competition! Kickass. triumph over the remaining 99 scripts and claim victory! Wahahaha!

- H.P. Lovecraft is awesome and when winter break starts I am making a resolution to read his complete body of work once and for all. You should too! We can do it...together.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Cover me!

Call me shallow and everything, but a first impression can mean a lot, and generally it's a pretty accurate reflection of what you're going to get - at least in the entertainment world. I didn't actually have this theme planned when I started writing the post, but I realized that I was posting the covers of everything I wanted to talk about, and ran with it. You can call me shallow, but at least call me resourceful too.

First: I just love the DVD cover for David Cronenberg's oft-forgotten 1996 vehicular erotica, Crash. Namely, that quote by Janet Maslin. "Sex and car crashes." I don't think the point of a movie has been so succinctly addressed in any DVD cover quote. It would be like if you put a quote that said "Zombies" on the front of Dawn of the Dead, "Racism" on the other Crash, or "Suburban dysfunction" on any drama that's been made after American Beauty.

I wish my passion for this brilliant work of advertising had transferred to the movie itself; I thought it was incredible that Cronenberg could take a great premise like people who do the sexy time after automotive issues and make it so utterly boring and repetitive. You can give it a philosophical/fetishistic read, but ol' Mr. Body Horror won't allow you a leg to stand on there. (That was a totally unintentional pun that I caught only after a reread. Damn my subconscious.) You can view it as a critique of pornography, but if that's the case then I think it failed in the way Funny Games failed as a critique on stylized violence. The movie stubbornly refuses to expound on its fascinating foundations and that is its undoing. But you do get to see Holly Hunter's tits, and watch James Spader have sex with a leg wound and another man, so I'm not totally discounting it yet.

Moving on to significantly gayer things, check out this herpetic Lisa Frank explosion of a CD. It is the debut effort of American Idol 6 runner-up Blake Lewis and it is awful. My problems with Audio Daydream are innumerable, but there are a few big ones that any idiot (read: not Blake's fans) could pick up. The boy wears his influences on his sleeve: if you've been listening to the radio this last year, you'll notice that his vocal stylings are basically Justin Timberlake and Adam Levine's retarded crack baby. This also moves us to his professed 80s obsession, which apparently crept into the album. "Crept into" is not the right phrase to use, so much as "burst in with a hatchet and shat all over"; Lewis lacks the knowledge of what made 80s music work, which is nothing in my equally unfounded opinion, and it shows. No one wants to remember what they listened to when they were tripping balls two decades ago.

And the final complaint, which is most glaring and least subjective, is that the boy couldn't write a lyric to save his life (or his album, apparently). "Hot and sexy is the definition of her"? Well, it isn't the definition of syntax! If grammar determines how hot and sexy you are, then Lewis's command of the English language seems perfectly appropriate for his gnomish stature.

To be perfectly fair to Blake, I did like "How Many Words". I don't know why it caught my ear amidst all the other swampy ballads and abysmal synthesized abortions on A.D.D., but I think it's pretty much the high point of the album. Now you guys can stone me for actually enjoying something on this. I die without shame.

A few days ago, I made a pledge to myself to start reading for pleasure again; 999 was the first book I picked up to begin this odyssey. Granted, I'm only a few stories in, but it has proven itself to be a consistent and excellently-written collection of horror short stories. "Amerikanski Dead at the Moscow Morgue," the lead-in by Kim Newman, is a darkly satirical tale about post-apocalyptic Russia. It happens to be plagued by zombies, who are all for some reason American tourists. Wacky things ensue.

Less goofy works include my personal favorite entry so far, "The Ruins of Contracoeur", by prolific author Joyce Carol Oates. Ruins is a tale of a politically disgraced family biding their time in a relic of a house, owned and disowned by their grandfather; Oates guides us through their eventual breakdown with stark isolationist horror. She does an incredible job of capturing this melancholy, windswept atmosphere in the pages. At one point she describes two characters as being blurry, like "poorly realized watercolors", and I couldn't help but feel much the same way about the story. It is enigmatic and dizzyingly sad.

The book also includes entries by William Peter Blatty, Neil Gaiman and - who else? - Stephen King, and if it can keep being as awesome in the next 20 or so stories as it has been so far, I'm excited to read the rest.

Friday, November 30, 2007

I beg to differ.

(Do note that this post, as per the movie, contains a bit of graphic content, such as stabbings, flesh being ripped from the body and Lindsay Lohan. I know I was too late to save you from the above, but you've seen worse.)

Meet Aubrey Fleming. She is one half of the brassy, orange-colored harlot protagonist in the best movie of 2007, I Know Who Killed Me. And as we can see, she is a confused lass. But wouldn't you be too? I know I was as I crawled through this movie, not once, but twice. The first viewing was online because I was intent on not spending any money; the second, a rental party with two good friends on the day it came out.

Since I doubt anyone else has watched this movie, this post will be a brief summary of the movie, in both pictures and text. What better way is there to expose the incredulity of this movie but to use...well, the movie itself?

Point proven.

Anyway, the story begins with some incredibly inane stripping sequences. I didn't bother to cap them because believe it or not, LiLo does the least erotic striptease to ever be committed to celluloid. She doesn't even get naked. No weather-beaten orange tatas for you!

Of course, this is Evil Twin LiLo, who we don't see for about another half hour. In the meantime, we get to hang out with Aubrey. She's a sweet girl who likes blue roses, playing the piano, and getting fingered in Biology class.

This is her boyfriend. Conveniently, he found a blue rose. If you aren't familiar with this movie's incredibly subtle and expressive color symbolism, prepare to become so. Uh...that's a classy way of saying that you'll be seeing either blue or red in every single shot of the movie. Immediately after the shot above, for instance...

That idiot pricks herself on a thorn. Blue to red! You could interpret this as beautiful things having deadly secrets, or violence leading to pain, or a talentless film director shoehorning metaphors into his script to make his movie seem deep. I think you know where my dollar's placed.

Anyway, despite warnings of a serial killer prowling the neighborhood, Aubrey wanders off by herself after a football game and manages to get kidnapped. Cue ominous blue fade from this shot:

to this one:

Yep, ol' LiLo's stumbled into some torture porn! I actually kind of feel bad for her; she must have legitimately thought this would have been her big jump into a more mature film career. "Mature film" meaning something different than what it sounds like, of course, though porn only seems like the next logical step after this and her rehab stints.

So obviously, one person is having fun in this scene. It's not Aubrey, and it's definitely not the viewer, because we get treated to images like this.

Classy, right? This is the stuff adult dramas are made of. I, for one, loved the fingernail torture sequence in Remains of the Day, but that's just me.

Aubrey wakes up in the hospital and treats us to what must be the single most hilarious shot of the movie. I don't know what that says about me as a human being, but I laughed for about five minutes the first time I watched this.

We soon discover, however, that she is not only missing limbs but also her identity! Aubrey now calls herself "Dakota Moss," a hardened stripper/crack fiend, completely removed of the virginal if not still slutty-looking Aubrey. What's really great about her sudden transformation is that Lindsay Lohan plays both characters EXACTLY the same, right down to the mannerism. Her voice is a little harsher and that's it. The only difference between these two is Dakota says "fuck" a lot, which is clearly the key to being taken seriously as an actress.

This has little plot relevance, but I like that the police show a horrified amputation victim pictures of the last girl her assailant murdered.

See that look of anguish? That's Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. FBI, FTW!

Once Aubrey Dakota is well enough to leave her bed, the police interrogate her about her whereabouts and identity. I don't know where she lives - Callous Law Enforcement Town? It's almost as if the screenwriter was trying really hard to advance the plot forward...and sacrificed all credibility in the process. Nah, couldn't be! It was also during this scene that I noticed that LiLo's severed limb looks like either a hot dog or a penis.

Basically, Dakota regales the police with her hidden past. Her mother kept her a secret from the world, so she doesn't have any birth records, but that didn't stop her from becoming a stripper at the age of 4 or however old she is.

Hey, does she remind you at all of another recently melted-down celebrity? This shot is an eerie portent of the future Miss Spears, which is perhaps its only cultural worth. Hairless Testicle Cat notwithstanding.

Basically, Dakota's mom died and she has nowhere else to go, so "Aubrey's" mom benevolently decides to "adopt" her. But not before she gets fitted with some sweet cyborg limbs!

That is some straight-up Star Wars shit right there. I waited very expectantly for the scene where Aubrey's father goes "Dakota, I am your father" and Dakota says "No you're not! You stole me from the dead crackwhore down the hall and sent my sister off to New Zealand where you're paying her with monthly child support. I KNOW WHO KILLED ME!" Oh wait, that ACTUALLY FUCKING HAPPENED. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Dakota Aubrey Dakota comes back home to find her boyfriend expectantly waiting for his chaste Aubrey. What he finds is something completely different, though no less hot.

You know what it's time for? Cripple sex!

I kind of wish I had screencapped this more. It's really great because the sex scene is intercut with shots of Aubrey's mom scrubbing things with immense frustration, trying to drown out the sounds of her daughter's gimpy orgasming. The sex itself is incredibly boring and poorly-filmed, but that hardly seems to matter.

Now the movie cuts to a flashback. Confused yet? Hang on! Dakota's finger falls off in the shower, and she is immediately reminded of a similar experience she had at the strip club, where - I kid you not - her finger falls off during her routine. Most fucked-up strip club everrrr. Anyway, Dakota manages to avoid suspicion by telling her boss that she "cut herself with a beer bottle" and didn't need to go to the hospital because "they're for rich people." Yeah.

On the bus back to...wherever she's going, she encounters this ridiculously irrelevant Jesus figure.

And no, that second picture isn't pre-coitus - it's part of a twisted dream sequence that involves tattoos coming to life - but it wouldn't have surprised me because Dakota's a whore. This enigmatic Asian tells her "people get cut. That's life" and never appears again.

Back to the present. It is at this point that Dakota Aubrey Dakota becomes convinced somehow that her sudden injuries are of some importance (OMG REALLY???) Tapping into the unlimited power of the internets, she makes this excellent search:

They're not just bleeding, but they're UNEXPLAINED too. Just like this movie. This incredibly useful search actually manages to take her to exactly the page she needs, an informative video about the stigmata. Look at this picture and try to tell me that this movie is taking itself seriously. I dare you.

He informs her that bleeding wounds unexplained can occur in identical twins, which automatically leads her to conjecture that she is a twin and her father sent her sister to New Zealand where he is paying her monthly child support. Now we knew that Dakota wasn't exactly a deductive mind to rival Holmes, but seriously, this is just ridiculous. Her mom whips out the sonogram of her pregnancy that she conveniently kept but NO science deters Dakota Moss!

At this point a lot of boring shit that I didn't feel like capping happens. What it leads up to is that Dakota wanders to the grave of the first girl that the serial killer murdered. There, she discovers this illegible ribbon.

This incredibly important discovery leads her to believe that it was the piano teacher who was behind it all along! SHE KNOWS WHO KILLED HER! But God knows how. Dakota/Audrey's brain kind of works in its own bizarre little world, where logical gaps make perfect sense.

Also, a dual-color split screen with your Saran-wrapped and buried twin-not-twin is something that every movie should have.

Aubrey, determined to stop her assailant at all costs, goes to the piano teacher's house armed with absolutely nothing but her battery-powered leg. I guess you can't really be "armed" with a leg, though. Fuck you I thought it was funny.

Also, her dad died.

But there's no time for grief! (as if we gave a fuuuuuck) The piano teacher finds her prowling around in his basement garden of body parts, and after a brief struggle, he - I kid you not - beats her unconscious with her own cyborg arm. If I could make GIFs, I would, and you would see it everywhere, because this scene is just too perfect. I think it's an accurate representation of Aubrey's struggles thus far; no matter what she tries to do, something incredibly stupid just beats the shit out of her. I KNOW WHO KILLED ME AND IT'S MYSELF!

Dakota or Aubrey or who-the-fuck-ever wakes to find herself tied to something. It takes her about six seconds to break free, however, and with the aid of a conveniently-placed sharp object she stabs her assailant in the neck.

You know, if I were making my on-screen debut as a twisted, limb-chopping psychopath, I would not want my final image to look like this.

He knows who killed him and it's really surprising!

Dramatic obstacle resolved, Dakota Aubrey Dakota Lindsay Lohan stumbles back to the graveyard and digs up a random grave, where she finds...herself, looking like a fucked-up 1800s schoolteacher. She curls up next to this matronly version of herself and falls asleep as the moon shines silently upon these inexplicable proceedings.

End movie.

If you haven't been able to discern it by now, I Know Who Killed Me is an immeasurable disaster. Though it is too obscure to slay the careers of those involved, I can name at least one director and two screenwriters who will never be working in Hollywood again. And this certainly isn't an auspicious omen for several of the actors involved, not the least of which is poor Lindsay Lohan. It really is sad that this is what her star-studded cinematic path has led to; it will take boatloads of good will to get herself in a project half as good as this in the future.

People who do not make it out of this movie with their dignity intact:

Julia Ormond

Neal McDonough

Crab Man

I would have said LiLo herself, but really...did she have any dignity left when she signed on to this?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy (three hour late) Thanksgiving!

Wanna know what I'm thankful for this year?

No Country for Old Men, for easily being the best movie of 2007 so far (and probably for the rest of the year)

Amy Winehouse, for making fantastic music AND supplying the world with plenty of crazy tabloid fodder

and SaGa Frontier, a 10-year-old Playstation game that just bewitches me for absolutely no reason at all.

I could have said friends and family and health and all that but fuuuuck it. This is how I roll.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I need a Cute Immunization

Goddamn it. I know I bitched about Enchanted earlier, but this just looks too fucking adorable to pass up.

I suppose Disney isn't totally dead. To. Me. Just yet.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

You're Breaking My Heart!!!

Every musician or band releases a disappointing album at one point in their career; if not disappointing, then something that doesn't hold up quite to the gold standard that they established for themselves. Usually these complaints are weathered, by dint of the album growing on you or the people in question moving on to better things. But when three of my most well-loved artists released three disappointing albums within a few months of each other, and I listened to them all at nearly the same time, it was a crushing blow. This is the part where I try to reconcile with myself.

3. m-flo - Cosmicolor

Though I touched upon this one briefly in my previous music post, Cosmicolor is an album of many peaks and valleys...mostly valleys. After band member Lisa left them in 2002, their albums revolved entirely around guest singers on the tracks, generally one song per guest singer. These were called the "love" albums; "m-flo loves melody", "m-flo loves Crystal Kay" and the like. Of the three "love albums", Cosmicolor is the longest at a bloated 13 tracks (17 if you count the cheesy skits). It is also the least engaging.

Though the highlights are really great, like the trim and effective Stuck in Your Love and the bangin' Love Long and Prosper, everything on the album is just dragged out to near-anemia. Few songs on Cosmicolor clock in at under 5 minutes. Lotta Love, a fun but uneven Euro track, is nearly 7 minutes long, with little to show for it but unapologetic repetition. Love Song is a Bonnie Pink collaboration that just goes on way too long; Luvotomy doesn't have anything to do but repeat itself after the 2 minute mark. She Loves the CREAM almost gets away with it, but there's a dull-as-hell jazz interlude halfway through that totally kills the momentum of the song. Though it would be tempting to reward the shorter songs on the album for understanding brevity, Love Don't Cry and Simple and Lovely are completely forgettable.

I could see this making a serviceable dance-floor record, but on standalone listens, Cosmicolor just totally falls apart. After the outstanding Beat Space Nine, this is a disappointing, mincing follow-up. m-flo has announced that the "loves" series is dead, and I can't help but feel a little relieved.

Check Out: Stuck in Your Love, Love Long and Prosper, Love Me After 12 AM, Picture Perfect Love

2. KT Tunstall - Drastic Fantastic

Of the three artists profiled in this list, KT Tunstall was the one I was expecting the least from; concurrently, it's the worst of these three albums. Where her debut, Eye to the Telescope, featured grit beautifully waxing to vulnerability and an almost cheeky empowerment, Drastic Fantastic just feels like a melange of underdeveloped emotional hosannas. Half of the songs sound like they should be played behind a medical insurance commercial, and the other half could serve very well in a commercial for a wacky teen drama.

Tunstall herself is not the least bit preoccupied with appeasing her audience. But since it's hardly an artistic triumph at all, I can only wonder what the goal of the album was. Nearly every song is cut from the same mold; play Beauty of Uncertainty and Someday Soon back-to-back and you won't even remember which is which. Hopeless epitomizes the album by sounding agreeable at first and then totally vanishing into the void right after listening to it. Not every song on the album is as elevator-music, though. Paper Aeroplane is as drifty and wistful as the title entails, and I Don't Want You Now embraces Tunstall's more effective upbeat side. Hold On does a great job at actually engaging a listener, the album's main fault...It's no wonder that it's Drastic Fantastic's first single, but expecting much more of its kind from the album would seriously betray a potential buyer. I mean, look at the cover. It looks like something challenging, exciting, epic. Drastic Fantastic is anything but.

Cosmicolor may have been a massively overlong album, but at 39 minutes, Drastic Fantastic is just not enough to satisfy. It's a jangly, cheap little bauble of an alt-pop album with nary a hook in sight. I can only hope that KT Tunstall hasn't landed herself in one-hit-wonder land with ol' Black Horse and the Cherry Tree, but I think she's got enough talent in her to produce something worth listening to again.

Check Out: Hold On, Paper Aeroplane, I Don't Want You Now

1. Bonnie Pink - Thinking Out Loud

This is the true heartbreaker of the list to me. Thinking Out Loud is Bonnie Pink's 10th studio album, and it is the one that cries "Stop this madness!" to me. Her 9th, the divisive Golden Tears, was her most dangerous flirtation with pop. It put a lot of previously unheard elements in Pink's music to the forefront, like synthesizers and really thick production, and though there were a few great songs some people thought it was a change for the worse.

But at least it was a change. Thinking Out Loud is an attempt to combine her previous style with her new artistic direction and the results are absolutely monstrous. The recurring problem on the album is that the melodies are too simple and the production is too overdone, which leaves poor Bonnie in between a rock and a hard place. To no fault of her own, nearly every song on the album is completely uninteresting. Commercializing her intimate, soulful voice has done her very little good.

As far as standouts on Thinking Out Loud, Anything For You is undeniably the strongest song on there. It is a ball of energy and melodic fun, overpowering the tedium by sheer bulldozer force. It's a shame that this song was shoehorned onto the album as its last track; it would have made a much better lead-in than the pointless Gimme a Beat. Sakamichi is like a grungy, sexy younger sister to her seminal groover Senaka. Catch the Sun is listenable, if not cheesy and unaccomplished.

Unfortunately, the rest of the album does little but make itself seem like a waste of time. The most flagrant offender is the Philharmonic Flava rearrangement of her smash single A Perfect Sky, which is...inexplicable. Totally self-indulgent and pointless. A Perfect Sky was one of Bonnie Pink's biggest chart hits, but cramming this bland old dinosaur on the album seems to have been done solely in commercial interest. You probably won't even make it to the chorus on Burning Inside, Nagusami Blue and - wait for this one - "Broken hearts, citylights and just me thinking out loud." She sounds too sharp on the melodramatic Water Me, sleepwalks through Lullaby, and has nothing to do on the horrible Imagination, which sounds like the retarded bastard child of Communication and The Answer.

What I guess comforts me is that Bonnie Pink has plenty of places to run after this debacle. She can return to her pared-down, beautiful melodies, the gems of the past from albums like Even So or Just a Girl, or continue to change herself as an artist and see if she can find a better niche. But she cannot do both, as Thinking Out Loud proves. Right now, what she needs to do is divorce herself from Burning Chicken's overwhelming production and take a little time to sharpen her melodies. Work like this is just upsetting for big fans like me, just because I know she is capable of far better.

Check Out: Anything For You, Catch The Sun, Sakamichi

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Fierceness at the Workplace: Special Education Edition

I'm finishing out a week at an elementary school, and the work is pretty easy (if not unremarkable). I kind of mill around the school and assist various classrooms; nothing awfully challenging, except the rough half hour in the SDC room trying to teach six learning-disabled 5th grade boys how to do massive multiplication by rounding.

My favorite part of the day has to be working with Austin. He's a bizarre little second-grader with - get this! - not only a mohawk, but also a rat tail. Not even the bravest (or trashiest) of men would dare attempt a coiffure like this, but Austin is no man. He is a god. Today when I came in to pick him up and take him to the counseling room, where I do random subtraction with him, he reached up and touched my head and said "I like your hair!" Oh, Austin. I'm sure I like yours far more.

The school I'm working at is kind of bizarre. It's in a low income area, and a lot of the teachers are the type who are knowledgeable in those different walks of life, so they're usually pretty cool. Teaching can be a really conservative, ivory-tower profession, which is an approach that I don't think works that well anymore. But I digress. The one exception to the generally tolerable staff is a woman named Tina. She is cheery and agreeable, but has absolutely no understanding of how her habits bear down on other people.

Example: I first met Tina in the copying room. As we went about our respective clerical tasks, she sang a song to the tune of "Clementine" about possessives. Made-up educational singalong songs are an excruciating necessity, but MOST people have the common sense to keep them outside the classroom. Not Tina. She sat there and sang "use possessives, use possessives, use poSSESSive apostrophes" over and over and over again, each time with a different grammatical rule tacked on the end. She must have sang this song nine times before I finished my copying job and ran out of the room as fast as I could, bleeding from the ears.

Today Tina told me a two-minute story about her personalized pencil. Telling people "I don't care" is in my opinion one of the rudest things ever, but women like her make it so, so tempting.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Know what's awesome? Zombies.

Not Rob Zombie, though. Go make another white-trash horror opera!

I don't care how nouveau-hipster that makes me sound, but I've liked them well before The Zombie Survival Guide (as good a read as it is) suddenly made them acceptable for the indie kids to have interest in. My mom showed me Night of the Living Dead on VHS when I was I think 13 years old, and I think that fostered the beginning of a deep appreciation in me.

I mention this because I watched Day of the Dead today, rounding out Romero's original zombie trilogy. Of the three, Dawn of the Dead is probably my favorite, as it is many others', but Day of the Dead is really underrated. It catches a lot of shit because there's very little zombie action in the first half an hour of a movie, to which I say - so what? Yeah, George Romero doesn't write particularly well; he knows where to put hot zombie action, and he knows how to disembowel a hapless human, but dialogue and coherence dance around him a little bit.

The basic premise of the movie is that there's a small military faction holed up in a bunker with some civilian scientists while zombies are apparently overrunning the earth. Romero's sociological allegory is obvious right off the bat: all of the soldiers are douches, especially their insane captain. The military/government is bad? Seriously?! It's cool to have a message in your movie and all, but I can understand why it frustrated people that it supersedes the zombies.

Obviously, the movie really hits its stride once he gets to the actual meat (no pun intended) of it all. It's the most gruesome of the trilogy, no questions asked, especially the final death scene. It's absolutely great in that repulsive sort of way. I think it's especially funny because all that moralizing that Romero did in the first act and a half of the movie just totally gets chewed through by ridiculous undead violence. It's as if he decided to say "you can have your politics if you like, but when the apocalypse comes, they're not gonna fucking matter."

Anyway, I decided to write about this partly because the movie is being remade. It has Nick Cannon in it. I assume he will be taking the place of the Jamaican helicopter pilot, simply because Hollywood thinks all black people are exactly the same so it's okay to have them talk like that. I hate Nick Cannon, but spare the man a little dignity! Anyway, the remake is going to suck. I can tell right off the bat because with the current political climate, the director's going to go really fucking overboard with the social messages, diluting the actual zombie part of the film in one way or another. What do you wanna bet they'll all link hands and sing "Imagine" while the legions of the undead bear down on them with tooth and nail? God save us all.

But yeah, zombies are great. I've been thinking about writing a zombie film of my own, and Day of the Dead has pretty much solidified the deal. Have any ideas? Post them here! I probably won't use them, because that's plagiarism and it is bad, but I know that I have some creative friends out there. Show me what you got!

(Image from Pangeacorp.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The soul-crushing state of America, reflected through a cultural prism - a.k.a. LOL DUMB

Yeah, I have an internal comedy bias - it's my least favorite of the genres simply because it's the one most easily duplicated in real life - but seriously, Will Ferrell in another sports movie? Kicking and Screaming, The Legend of Ricky Bobby, Blades of Glory, and now this. Four sports movies, practically in a row. Talk about range! And that's the least of our worries, what with a premature Vince Vaughn holiday nightmare, the impending Alvin and the Chipmunks remake which looks terrrrrrible, some shitty fake biopic (paging Christopher Guest...), and something with Amy Adams pretending to be a princess in a lame Disney abortion.

(Be Kind Rewind might be okay, but I would have to get over my fear of Jack Black first.)

Did I mention I found this on my way to the Day of the Dead remake's page? I heard that Nick Cannon would be in it and, in a whirl of utter disbelief, found it to be true. This is the most disheartening evening I've experienced since I watched I Know Who Killed Me.

Also I think this is probably my favorite music video ever.

My love for it is deepened because of how much it upsets idiots. Apparently, watching a bunch of stop-motion paper children bleed a little bit is profoundly disturbing to them. Perhaps the part where the cat gets its head torn off is what gets them, but they sew it back on! And seriously, how is any of this worse than that God-awful Saw shit Americans continue to watch?

Stay in Iceland where you belong, little Múm. The people here are out to get you with entirely non-violent pitchforks.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Way to go, team.

Can this please end now?


Sunday, October 28, 2007

"Prove you're still worth a damn";

so sayeth several of the lost souls wandering through the film adaptation of Frank Miller's seminal Sin City. Their words illustrate a common fear of inadequacy, the one thread linking their three separate stories together, and if there's one thing I can't stand, it's watching a bunch of impotent old men overcompensate.

Seriously, Bruce. Turning your head from Jessica Alba? Someone get the Viagra!

I kid, I kid. I have no problem with infirmity. After all, I'll probably be seeing the new Indiana Jones movie. But I think this motif fits the movie pretty well, because Sin City is desperately trying to overcompensate for its graphic novel roots with sheer force of violence and stunning aesthetics.

I mean, seriously. The movie is visual poetry. Why didn't it pick up any special effects Oscar nods? Oh, that's right; overexposure. As gorgeous as Sin City often is (gorgeous being a figurative term, when you consider what's lurking beneath the surface), you kind of get exhausted of the whole noir-on-crack shtick by the end of it. Eventually, the luster completely wore off for me. It's still an amazingly crafted movie - just one that overuses its assets, like the cheap strippers at Centerfolds.

But still...beautiful, beautiful movie. A bunch of mismatched screencaps don't do it justice at all (on a side note, I wish my DVD drive on my computer worked, so I could take some damn caps of my own.)

The same goes for the incredible brutality of the film. In the span of two hours, people get beaten, tortured, stabbed, raped, drugged, shot, devoured, exploded, skewered, castrated, hit by cars, and forced to sleep with Mickey Rourke, and what's it all for? To prove that Sin City is a bad place. Well, duh. To me, the most insidious sorts of violence are the ones that show themselves at the most opportune of times, peeking out their ugly heads only when the time calls. After watching them scurry around Sin City tirelessly and without respite, you grow numbed to the shock of it all. I think the pinnacle of my revulsion with Sin City's graphic deaths was watching Elijah Wood getting eaten alive by his own dog about 40 minutes in. Past that, I started moving through it like some sort of macabre routine. Even the third genital mutilation didn't faze me.

The big problem with this is that Sin City's narrative is constructed around its violence, and the action that delivers it. The movie honestly doesn't give a shit about its plot. It's merely a conduit for more violence; thus, the storyline gets glossed over to an unbelievable extent with internal monologues. Hours and hours of them. There is more voice-over than actual dialogue in the movie, I kid you not. I don't know if your English teachers ever made you learn "show not tell writing", but Robert Rodriguez's sure didn't. Scenes such as Clive Owen explaining to you how he's considering shooting the cop, while you're also seeing him finger the gun as the cop draws nearer to him, are downright insulting to the viewer's intelligence.

I realize that this sort of narration is a staple of film noir, but a) Sin City is not really film noir and b) all the self-pontification you see in movies like Double Indemnity is used to develop the thoughts and personality of the protagonist, not complete the storyline. I make my first argument on the basis that it's really just an action movie with film noir window-dressing. There's no mystery to the happenings of ol' Sin City; just mass violence. And with such a great setting, it's almost a shame that there aren't any secrets to explore.

But anyway, I don't hate on Sin City for having found such great success. It's an innovative if not deeply flawed step in the right direction. I'll probably watch Sin City 2, simply because it'll be an original treatment instead of a graphic novel adaptation, which is where from most of the flaws of this installment arose. As I've speculated before, things that sound cool in comic book land simply aren't when real actors are spitting them out, and that's what makes Sin City seem kind of...cheesy in the end. Cheesy and impotent. Damn you, old men.

(Caps courtesy of and

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I know, I know.

Considering this was supposed to be a daily blog, I've done an extraordinarily shitty job. But I've been busy. Blow me.

In other AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME news...guess who's confirmed for Super Smash Brothers Brawl?


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

At the behest of Meghan...happiness

Okay, so maybe filling half of my blog's first four posts with unrestrained hate may not have sat well with everyone, or at least my three or four friends who love me enough to actually read this. So I'm sitting here in my underwear, eating snickerdoodles and thinking to myself "how can I be angry at this moment in time?" It's not possible. Here, then, is a digression on something I love very much: music.

I cannot stress enough that my music taste is diverse. To say the least. It's matured considerably - five years ago, I would listen to absolutely nothing but Eurobeat or Japanese techno - but I'm still all over the place. Nothing is too mainstream or too obscure for me. Thus, I've taken myself to task to expose you to whatever I'm feeling at the moment, no matter what it may be. If you don't like it, tough fuckin' titties. It's not like you're paying for it.

Stuck In Your Love
Artist: m-flo loves melody
Album: Cosmicolor

The incontrovertible high point in what can be called a mixed bag of an album, Stuck in Your Love is sweet and forceful - romantic hip-hop at its finest. m-flo is one of the few acts in Japan who truly "gets" hip-hop. For those xenophobes out there, worry not; the song is entirely in English. As such, the lyrics are a little bit simple, but sometimes that's for the best.

Drivin' Me Wild
Artist: Common feat. Lily Allen
Album: Finding Forever

So perhaps I'm on a hip-hop kick right now, but seriously, Common and Lily Allen? That's Drew-bait, right there. Common makes some risky production choices, like playing one of Lily Allen's sonorous howls all through the song - she's not exactly a siren, but it works to surprising effect here.

Going to Georgia
Artist: The Mountain Goats
Album: Zopilote Machine

Yeah, John Darnielle or something, cool. Pitchfork called this the best-written song ever. They've brought a ton of counter-counter-culture hatred against themselves, though, so maybe that isn't a credible thing for me to say. I don't think I've ever been so taken by one man and his guitar before, but this has me singing along Every. Single. Time. Trying to imitate his voice, no less.

Letter ~ From the Lost Days
Artist: Akira Yamaoka feat. Mary Elizabeth McGlynn
Album: Silent Hill 3 Original Soundtrack

I realize that putting video game music on here makes me an unbelievable nerd, but I don't give a fuck. This song has a strange, ethereal quality to it. It kind of reminds me of Portishead. As far as Playstation vocal songs come, this is about as good as you're ever going to get.

Misery Business
Artist: Paramore
Album: Riot!

My mainstream pick of the day. What Paramore lacks in creativity, they make up for in sheer anger and honesty. This is the kind of music you imagine yourself kicking ass to. The kind of music that you put on as soon as you wake up and you're ready to go. This is probably what God was listening to when he created the world.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

"The Eye" - as in, Eye know this is gonna suck eggs

The Eye, a 2002 Hong Kong horror film, was very decent. Fun to watch, mildly scary, and ultimately unambitious. Unfortunately, it is also Asian and successful, which means it was only a matter of time before it was remade.

With Jessica Alba. Or more importantly, her tits.

Now it's time to play a game of "What's Sadder?"

1) They're remaking The Eye
2) They're remaking The Eye with Jessica Alba in it
3) They're remaking The Eye with Jessica Alba in it and they used Blaqk Audio, Davey Havok's God-awful industrial techno project, in the trailer
4) They're remaking The Eye with Jessica Alba in it and they used Blaqk Audio, Davey Havok's God-awful industrial techno project, in the trailer, and I recognized it without having to look it up
5) The fact that all of these aspects have already aligned to seal the movie's fate

Me, I pick "all of the above."

Monday, October 15, 2007

I am an angry person, sort of

As I explained yesterday, there are certain things that I like to talk about and certain things that I don't. But there's also this mysterious middle ground that will probably be visited frequently on this blog: I love to talk about things that I hate.

I mean, with stuff like politics and geology, 99% of the time they constitute of things that are too boring to get my blood boiling. But there are certain subjects out there that inspire such insuppressible rancor in me that I can't help but, for lack of a better word, bitch about them.

Today's topic is Dane Cook. As a preliminary summary, Dane Cook is a tool.

I mean, honestly, I feel a little guilty about writing this because nearly everyone with an IQ of over 90 has been going after Dane Cook with a sledgehammer. In ranting on him, I fear I have become as unoriginal as the man itself. But today, I would like to discuss, in list form, several reasons as to why Cook reaches heights of douchery previously unseen in the ranks of standup (or basically the entire world.)


He has stolen material from no less than three established comedians: Louis C.K., Joe Rogan and, most recently, Demetri Martin. It was obvious that I was going to hit on this point, but really, yanking material from other people is the pinnacle of assholery no matter how you look at it.

In a twisted, sick, roundabout way, I almost have to commend him. Taking jokes from comedians who have had some success in the mainstream is a really gutsy move - thus, his balls far out-measure his intelligence. Louis C.K. isn't the hugest name in standup, but if he could get someone to actually produce Pootie Tang, then he must have some kind of clout. Joe Rogan's no comic titan either, but more people know him. Demetri Martin's star has really been rising lately, however, and with that people started to notice that Cook stole a joke off his 2005 CD.

See this video for proof. While I'm here, can I also bring attention to the delivery? Demetri Martin is rehearsed, savvy, deadpan. I don't understand why people enjoy Dane Cook's comedy because he basically screams at you through the entire joke. It's like Comedy Boot Camp.

Anyway, people have defended the similarities by saying that the joke's been around for a while, but the fact still stands - Dane Cook isn't writing his own material and that sucks. I wonder if he'll ever try to write a book? George Carlin has written several and they're awesome. A Dane Cook book would basically be 32 pages of other people's jokes, only in caps lock.


As I touched upon very briefly in the previous point, Dane Cook's style makes me want to die. Or to kill. It inspires death in many manifestations, I guess you could say.

It would be hypocritical for me to judge Cook for being loud; I am no soft-spoken lily in my own right. I know when to turn on the volume, however, and Cook simply doesn't know how to turn it off. All of his jokes start at a reasonable volume, then hit this interminable crescendo where he yells for the next five minutes. That's the median length of a Dane Cook joke, by the way. Homeboy takes way too fucking long to get to the point.

And then there's the body language. I have no words...only images.

(I'm especially fond of this one. He looks like a diseased chicken. See, even my Print Screen button is funnier than Dane Cook!)

If you're wondering about the quality, I capped these from Youtube videos, but I think you get the gist; his idea of humor is doing really bizarre things with his arms and yelling. He's like the class Monkey School.


Corporate. Sellout.

Yeah, yeah. It's not fair to decry someone for finding success, be it undeserved or not. But this motherfucker will do ANYTHING to keep people saying his name in really loud, obnoxious voices. His most notable offenses are his movie roles. Let's take a look at his recent resume:

Torque: Perhaps the biggest tip-off on this list. Anything with a 3.3 on IMDB is bound to be a pure, unmitigated disaster. I haven't seen the movie, but his participation warrants some (negative) attention.
Waiting: To be fair, this was a brilliant fucking move. The movie caters to his EXACT demographic. And we'll get to that later.
London, Mr. Brooks: Here's Dane Cook in some non-comedy films, where many would think he is a woeful miscast, but nooooo. I haven't seen London, but Mr. Brooks was bad, and the role was essentially a reprise of his annoying comic persona. Tooltooltooltooltool.
Farce of the Penguins: Enough said.
Employee of the Month, Good Luck Chuck: Two Dane Cook starring vehicles. Two miserable, universally maligned cinematic apocalypses.

Film is not the only media that he's rubbed his slimy tendrils all over, however. I learned recently that Dane Cook actually composed a song!

...Or did he?

"In late 2007, Cook released a single entitled 'Forward' in support of his upcoming movie, Good Luck Chuck. Members of the Ron and Fez Show staff discussed the song on their September 18 edition and noticed it was very similar to a song by the band Chicago. Upon playing the song 'Forward' back-to-back with Chicago's 'Hard to Say I'm Sorry/Get Away', it became apparent that the two were nearly identical, prompting one listener to say 'Dane Cook writes songs the same way he writes jokes — stealing.'"

I'm starting to wonder if Dane Cook is actually functionally illiterate and just copies everything he hears so he can make it look like he has some abilities. Ad hominem attacks are rude, though, so let's take a look at Dane Cook's fanbase!


Dane Cook's fans are fucking dickholes. To spare myself from the gaping black hole that is a generalization, I'm sure that there's a handful of Cook fans out there that have some semblance of brainpower, but seriously, if I were him I'd be ashamed of the people who claim to like me.

I mean, when you make comedy aimed squarely at the 13-year-old white upper-middle class male, you're bound to get such results. As a more in-depth case study, I looked at a Youtube video's comments. Okay, not too in-depth, but it's Dane Cook; next to him I have more depth than a well-worn Thai hooker.

Granted, the original video isn't that funny, but here are some of the things his chivalrous defenders had to say:

"LOL omg i didnt think there was anyone out there who was more "queer" than Chris Crocker but dude u just proved me wrong. . . only "Fudge Packers" dont like Dane"

"yo f you dane cook rules you are a supper fag!"


"UR A FUCKING FAGGOT! Go play in traffic"

"U know man Dane cook is the funniest guy in the world AND IF YOU THINK NOT THEN U R TRULLY GAY AND HAVE NO DICK!"

Wait, guys...are you noticing a pattern here? I sure am.

I must say that after all this exhaustive ranting about Dane Cook, I feel as if I've accomplished absolutely nothing. Not only that, but I've been indirectly informed that I'm trully gay and have no dick. Missing genitalia aside, however, there's a smug satisfaction that comes with knowing the difference between good standup and Dane Cook, and that's something that's worth sacrificing your much-vaunted penis over.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I got me a sense of purpose...

There are many subjects I like to write about. These are not some of them:

- politics (except maybe in the face of blinding, extraordinary idiocy, in which case I might)
- clothing
- dull things, like geology and wine tasting

But past that, the world is fair game to me. Today I would like to briefly discuss my career.

Though most of the people reading this probably already know how I make my daily bread, I'm a substitute teacher's aide in the local school district. I work in special education classes. It's not the easiest job in the world, but it's hella fun and incredibly enriching, not to mention the pay beats the hell out of Taco Bell. I've learned so much about autism and learning disabilities in general - in the year that I've been working in the district, my preconceptions and ideas about the mentally retarded have changed drastically.

But what I love most about my career is that almost every day, I hear or experience something incredibly hilarious. Not (always) in a malicious way; there's just so much unabashed innocence and curiosity that has no restraint in special education.

A site that always puts a smile on my face is tardblog, which is an archived collection of stories written by a special education teacher. It may sound a little mean-spirited, but there's an FAQ on the site that really reflects how I feel about my job.

"This page should be seen in the same light as surgeons or paramedics making jokes about injured people, or psychiatrists making light of their mentally deranged patients. The people in those fields use humor as a way to relieve the daily stress and aggravation of their very difficult jobs. Paramedics and doctors, especially battlefield surgeons, are renowned for making sick jokes about their patients during their off-time. If they don't release the emotional tension through humor, then it has to come out some other way, hence the saying, 'If I don't laugh I'll have to cry.'"

What really gets me about special education is that 7 times out of 10, the parents just don't give a shit about their kids. They dump them in their classes from day to day; it's like a day care service to them while they do whatever shit they want. They view their children as nothing but an inconvenience. A lot of the time, that is the reason why their child is in special ed in the first place. Really, it breaks my heart.

Hopefully, I'll get the chance to share both the happy and the sad - oftentimes I get a lot of both of them in the work I do. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, October 12, 2007


I told myself constantly to start a blog, but I never thought I was actually going to do it. I need some sort of creative outlet.

Anyway, welcome to my new blog, (tentatively) titled Marmalaise. Clever, eh? I am a pretty clever guy. Hopefully I will be able to extend that cleverness into some sort of entertaining daily periodical, but that's wishful thinking.

I have little to say right now, so I'll just leave you with this bit of poetry in motion, as capped by the inimitable Rich of fourfour.

Isn't she beautiful?