Monday, June 26, 2006

HD Video Is Here

During a recent shopping trip out browsing at TVs, I saw the first HD-DVD player for sale. (This trip was somewhat ironic, as my TV would die days later. Good thing I went and looked.) Some thoughts:

-The thing is HUGE; like first-VCR-you-bought-in-1983 huge. There was a Sony DVD Walkman across the aisle that, player and screen included, was the size of a stack of three Reader's Digests. Yet this thing is about the size of a breadbox, which, well, isn't all that small, contrary to the old saying.

-At $499, they're priced to sell. I realize that $500 is still a lot, but for a next-generation piece of technology that been on the market for less than a month, that's still a good price. Conversely, the Samsung Blu-ray player that they had in stock, but none on display, is going for $999. (I think it's somewhat humiliating for Sony, which developed Blu-ray technology, to get beat to the market by a competitor, while their own player is still months away.) Blu-ray is, in many ways, superior to HD-DVD, but John Q. Moviewatcher really doesn't care about all that technical crap; they just want a player that doesn't cost $1000. (Another punch in the balls for Sony.)

-There is a great selection of movies for HD-DVD. They had a lot of good titles in stock just there, and has around 100 titles for sale. They had some Blu-ray movies too, and (surprise, surprise) they were the same movies (oh, and Underworld: Evolution) that Sony first offered for the PSP. So, 100 movies vs. five. Nice.

-Another thing about the movies that pisses me off: the cases are smaller. The cases are about a 1/4 inch thinner and an inch shorter than regular DVD cases. HD-DVD and Blu-ray discs are the same size as DVDs, yet we DVD users get stuck with these gimondo cases. What's the deal?

Right now, these players are too expensive for my frugal tastes, but, give it a couple of years; they'll be down to a couple hundred bucks, right in my price range.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Selling Out For Screech

As I've mentioned before, I'm not a big fan of ads on websites. But, a special story has broken my heart and caused me to make an exception. Yep, that's right: I'm giving up ad space to Screech.

As some of you may have heard, Dustin Diamond, who played lovable retard Screech on Saved by the Bell (and stayed with the show after Zach joined the NYPD, Jessie became a stripper, and Kelly got tits and moved to 90210), has come to have some problems with the house he owns in Port Washington, WI. Due to the property values in the PW going up, and Dustin's bad credit, he is now forced to come up $250,000 to keep his house. As Dustin is a d-list celebrity, $250,000 is not easy to come up with. So, he has decided to sell t-shirts, at $15 a pop, with an image of him holding a sign reading, "Save My House." For an extra $5, he'll even autograph it for you. It's a plea for help.

Why, you ask, have I chosen to throw my support behind such an obvious bit of whoredom? I felt no need to shell out money to Pete Rose to pay off his gambling debts. Nor have I felt the need to contribute to Suzanne Somers' or Chuck Norris' or any other celebrity's infomercial retirement funds. So, why this one? Because it's fucking Screech.

You have to give props to a guy who, I'm sure, in real life, is just a likeable average guy, yet, on TV, played one of the biggest mongoloid retards ever. And what has Screech ever done to you, other than make you glad that you weren't Screech? Plus, being a WI resident and having lived in Milwaukee, of which Port Washington is a suburb, for eight years, I feel a responsibility to help a statewide brother out.

So, if you're a Screech fan, or just feel like being charitable, go to, or click on the link under the "Dustin Diamond Edition" poll, and pick up your shirt. You'll feel better for it, and it will keep Screech close to you for years to come.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Don't Break A Hip, For Christ's Sake

Rented Firewall this weekend. It was formulaic, predictable, and not very good, which is basically what I expected. What I didn't expect was to see Harrison Ford doing almost all of his own stuntwork.

Ford is 64 years old, but there he is, falling off buildings, breaking through windows, and generally throwing his old ass all over the place. One doesn't expect to see someone as old as their grandfather getting the piss beat out of him. But, Ford does it. He breaks more wood with his body in just this one movie than Bruce Lee did in his entire career.

You'll never get me to admit that the guy is any kind of actor (unless you call playing the same role in every movie "acting"), but I'll give it to the guy that he's got balls for kicking the shit out of himself. Bravo, you old bastard; bravo. I just hope your Medicare covers any injuries you sustained.

Friday, June 16, 2006

How Not To Spend Your Advertising Budget

One of the things (probably the only thing) that has ever impressed me about MySpace is the fact that it's always been rather sparse on ads. There's the occasional banner ad, but, otherwise, no pop-ups, no Goooooogle search results; just a nice clean interface. Well, until today, at least.

Today, I log onto MySpace, and find this, quite possibly the biggest ad ever for Superman Returns. In fact, if I didn't know better, I'd think I'd stumbled onto the Superman Returns official website (which is actually not as flashy).
What's even more puzzling is why MySpace would feature advertising for Superman. MySpace is owned by News Corp., the parent of 20th Century Fox. Superman is a Warner Brothers movie. Why would a company, which also runs a movie studio, put a huge ad for a competitor's movie on the front page of its largest website? Apparently, that crazy Australian that runs News Corp. thinks it's a good idea. I, personally, might put up some ads for one of my company's own movies, like, say, The Devil Wears Prada, which opens on the same day as Superman, and probably needs all the ad help it can get. (I saw the trailer for this the other day, and I believe it was nothing more than the first four minutes of the actual film. That's some lazy editing.)

But, I guess this is why I'm not in charge of a multi-billion dollar corporation. I have some really stooopid ideas.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A Bad Omen

The Girl is a big Omen fan. As we've seen it a number of times, I've become a fan as well. Needless to say, it was pretty much preordained that we were going to see the Omen remake. And now, having seen it, maybe we shouldn't have.

As far as remakes go, this one is extremely faithful to the original. The producers, rather than write a new screenplay, just used the original screenplay. (This raises the question of, if you aren't going to try and bring something new or different to a movie, why bother remaking it?) There are scenes, even bits of dialogue, that are exactly the same as the original.

However, something gets lost in translation. This movie just doesn't have the creepy resonance of the original. It's too slickly made, much like every other horror made these days. Even though it's almost the exact same movie, it just isn't the same. (One change I did appreciate was the appearance of '80s Italian horror movie staple John Morghen.)

If you haven't seen the original, you might really enjoy this. If you have, don't bother; you're not going to see anything you haven't already seen.

Monday, June 12, 2006

LT & GP: Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

When was the last time you remember seeing a concert movie? Not a comedy concert movie (which, surprisingly, still turn up fairly regularly), but a musical concert movie. Possibly never, as I think the last concert movie shown in theatres was The Stones At the Max, and that only showed in IMAX theatres. And it's not as though there's not a lot of great ones out there, like Gimme Shelter, The Last Waltz, and (of course) Woodstock. They just don't get made anymore, and, unless they're fairly famous films (like the ones I listed), you probably haven't seen any. I personally have only seen two: Elvis' Aloha from Hawaii (which has a great soundtrack, even if Elvis kinda yada-yadas his way through "Johnny Be Good") and today's selection: Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

For those not in the know, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders was the alias for David Bowie and his band. They toured under this name for two records: Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane. The Ziggy Stardust movie is a filming of the last show of that tour, notable as not only being the last show, but the last time that Bowie and the band referred to themselves as Ziggy and the Spiders. (Bowie played with that lineup for two more records, but went back to being David Bowie. That terrible haircut remained, however.) Ten years after that show, Ziggy Stardust came out in theatres.

The film quality is terrible. This may have been taped on a camcorder. Plus, the lighting is almost non-existent. The music, however (the only reason to watch this, really), is great. Even non-fans will enjoy the lineup, which features plenty of Bowie hits. And speaking of hits, Bowie hits some all-time lows for costume choices; they're homosexual without being faggoty. There's even some really boring footage of Bowie sitting around backstage in his underwear, smoking cigarettes. (One such scene features Ringo Starr, of all people.)

All in all, a good watch; check it out.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The "Forrest Gump Of Baseball"

A couple of days ago, the Arizona Diamondbacks released pitched Jason Grimsley. This normally wouldn't be a big deal, as, in 17 seasons, he hasn't amounted to shit and deserves to get cut. Pretty much a non-news story.

Except for the fact that his Arizona home was raided the day before by federal agents carrying out a warrant to search Grimsley's residence for steroids. That is what makes this a big deal.

This all goes back to April, when Grimsley was busted by postal inspectors for receiving a shipment of illegal performance enhancement drugs. During his subsequent questioning by authorities, Grimsley laid out his entire history of steroid use and how he had been receiving shipments of the drugs for some time. More importantly, when asked if he knew anyone else who may be using the drugs, Grimsley named at least a dozen players and persons associated with Major League Baseball whom he knew to have used performance enhancing drugs. He even made recorded phonecalls to some of these people and discussed the drugs with them.

This all happened over a couple of weeks. Shortly thereafter, Grimsley stopped cooperating with authorities. They began working a case up against him, and, on Tuesday, they raided his home in hopes of finding more drugs.

Now, I've heard some people say that this will go nowhere, as Grimsley is a nobody, and everyone else in baseball who's been caught using steroids has gotten off fairly scot-free. But those players tested positive for steroids; they didn't get busted for actually possessing them, much less receiving multiple shipments. If the authorities (and these are federal authorities, btw) decide to prosecute this, Grimsley could go away for possession, maybe even trafficking. But I don't think the feds will go after that.

Grimsley has been in baseball for 17 years. He's played for seven different teams over the years, and has had close interaction with hundreds of players and personnel on those teams. He's been teammates with Jose Canseco and Rafael Palmeiro, both admitted steroid users. He played with Sammy Sosa, who's been on the "watch list" for some time. He shares a trainer (which have been a long suspected source of performance drugs) with Albert Pujols. Grimley is to baseball's steroid problem as John Dean was to Watergate: He's the guy who's been everywhere and seen everything, and could bust this thing wide open. If pressured into turning state's evidence, Grimsley could implicate a number of players in the whole steroid brouhaha.

People who don't think this is a big deal need to consider that this Grimsley thing may be the best and worst thing to ever happen to baseball. It may put an end to the steroid problem, but it may destroy the whole sport in the process. We'll see how it pans out.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

How Not To Carry The Titles Anyone Wants

Sometimes, I get in funny moods for movies. For example, if I'm jonesing for some Cannibal Movies, I'll fill up my Greencine queue with such shit as Cannibal Apocalypse and Jungle Holocaust, and I'll be all set. The other night, I needed a Matt Damon Spy Movie fix, which, well, basically encompasses two movies: The Bourne Identity and Supremacy. So, I went to the video store.

Being a movie buff, I tend to be picky about what video stores I frequent. I usually prefer the small chain or independant store to the "big box" ones like Blockbuster and Hollywood, not only because they tend to be cheaper, but they usually have a better selection of movies. (I will say, though, that no one, not even actual candy stores, can beat Blockbuster's candy and snack selection.) I chose to go to Family Video, a small chain store, which is big enough to have a decent supply of new releases, but small enough that they consciously stock a good selection of older movies in VHS and DVD. Plus, you get two-for-one on all "library" titles, which I figured the Bourne Movies would fall under.

That is, if they carried those movies. Yes, Family Video does not carry them. Not in the "New Releases," not in "Nearly New," not in "Favorites," not even in "Soon To Be Pitched Out." Oh sure, they have Dollman vs. Demonic Toys on VHS, and Dr. Jeckel & Ms. Hyde , the one where Tim Daly turns into Sean Young, but not a Bourne Movie to speak of. Actually, that's not true. They did have The Bourne Identity, but it was the Richard Chamberlain TV movie version; not what I'm looking for.

It's odd that not even a small video store would carry these. It's not like these are obscure little arthouse movies. The Bourne Movies made over $300 million in the States alone. And yet, Family Video doesn't carry them. So, I went to Premiere Video, an indie store, and, sure as shit, they did me right. In fact, they had four copies of each, on VHS and DVD.

I'm usually a fan of Big Business, but the little guy won out on this one, as they usually do in the video store biz.

Friday, June 02, 2006

What The Living Fuck

Everyone knows I hate "Greatest" lists. They are almost invariably wrong. In some of the
recent lists, I thought maybe I'd seen the nadir of "Greatest" lists.

But now, a British website and magazine has come up with The Worst "Greatest" List in the History of the World. They have come up with The Greatest 100 Albums Ever. The list was compiled from a poll of 40,000 people, just by asking them what the best album ever was. Go take a look and come on back, because you know I have to comment on this.

Done? Here goes:

-Radiohead is not even a good band, yet have two spots in the top 10. You people are totally fucking mental.

-Sgt. Pepper's isn't even the best Beatles album, much less the #2 ever.

-The words "Spice Girls" and "greatest" should not even be mentioned in the same paragraph, unless you're talking about how the Spice Girls are the greatest pieces of shit ever.

-If you prefer The Libertines' Up the Bracket to Bowie's Hunky Dory, you must also prefer asphyxiation to breathing, and I will oblige by choking you to death.

-Why is it that people who vote in these things prefer Sign o' the Times to Purple Rain? Apparently, because they're idiots.

-I'm amused to see Appetite for Destruction and Come On Over on the list. I'm fucking dying of laughter to see Ray of Light.

-Oasis definitely (no maybe about it) didn't make the greatest album ever. I'll give it up that they're a decent band, but no way is that record better than (just to use albums in the top 10) Revolver, Dark Side, or Nevermind.

As always, an insanely disappointing list. Like the saying goes: Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.