Monday, December 21, 2009

The Music Has Aged Gracefully, Even If The Band Has Not


About a thousand years ago, I made mention of a Dinosaur Jr. concert I attended back in the '90s. About a hundred years ago (or, last month, in non-hyperbole time), I attended another one. My thoughts on the show:

How does a band resolve the Bob Mould/Grant Hart problem of someone other than the lead singer/songwriter/guitarist having a whole catalog of songs they want to play? Why, you put them on as the opening act, that's how. So, the show opened with bassist Lou Barlow playing a handful of songs that, well, J Mascis didn't write.

Up next was MV & EE, who, based upon their appearance and music, probably smoke about eight bongs a day, followed by a ream of 8½ x 11 sheets worth of blotter acid. The most notable thing about their show was that the woman in the group was playing a Gibson Thunderbird that would have looked small in the hands of a five-year old. Their set ended with amp feedback from a banjo. (That's just too stupid to make up.)

Then it was Dinosaur Jr.'s turn. For a band that been together, on and off, for 25 years, they still know how to rock. Even though J got grey and fat, his music and playing is no less vibrant than it was the last time I saw them, 15 years ago. The one thing about the show I will comment on was the volume. Maybe I'm getting old, but J's big Marshall stacks (like the ones he's standing in front of in the masthead pic) were so loud that they drowned out the house speakers. Even standing 10 feet away, I couldn't hear the drums over J's amps. Consequently, I was effectively deaf for two days afterward.

But, was it worth losing my hearing to see the original lineup of one of the greatest rockbands ever? You better believe it was. And, after the show, I went to a bar and watched those scumbags from Girls Gone Wild try to get girls to show their tits.

A good time was had by all.

Oh, and not that it was anything to do with anything, but, standing outside, waiting for the show to start, I watched a guy get in a car carrying a handful of fencing épées.

Really, you don't see that every day.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

T-Minus Six Months Until The Hustler Spread

Almost two years ago, I mentioned a New York magazine photoshoot in which Lindsay Lohan was, according to her, tricked into posing nude. (I don't see how you can get tricked into that, as, if your clothes are off and someone takes pictures of it, the results will be nude pictures. But, this is Lindsay we're talking about, and she's repeatedly proven herself to be one of the stupidest vertebrates currently residing on this planet.) This seemed, at least to me, to be her career nadir and that she would probably use this to jumpstart her career, and that would be the last time Lindsay got her tits out. But no sooner had Lindsay's bronzer dried that oops, she did it again (to steal a phrase from a similar trainwreck).

In the newest issue of Muse, whose very non-functional website can be found here, Lindsay has posed for yet another nudity-laden photoshoot, this one inspired by a Kate Moss/Johnny Depp shoot in Vanity Fair about a hundred years ago.

Now, mind you, I'm all for female nudity, but, if all female nudity turns out looking like this, well then, I guess I never need to see any woman naked ever again. Lindsay, at age 23, looks worse than that hag from Drag Me to Hell. She has reached that point where doing porn is not so much an option as it is an inevitability. I foresee her getting DP'd in the pages of Hustler any time now. That is, if Larry Flynt would have such a hideous wretch in his magazine.

Even a complete scumbag has standards.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Last Five Movies


I know it's well past Halloween, but, for some reason, I'm watching nothing but horror movies. What I've watched recently:

Paranormal Activity (2009)
So, this is the movie that everyone's talking about; the movie that made everyone crap their pants; the most successful independent movie ever. Is it worth the hype? Well...not really. Admittedly, it does have some scary parts, but, apart from the scenes with the ghosties (which only accounts for about 15 minutes), it's really quite boring. It's also a lot more slickly-made than everyone would have you believe, with much digital trickery and clever (and, at times, sloppy) editing to give it more of a documentary feel. Call me a hater, but The Blair Witch Project, to which this is frequently compared, was a whole hell of a lot scarier.

House of the Devil (2009)
The crappy Horror Movies of the '80s fostered my subsequent love of all Horror Movies. So, I appreciate that someone actually took the time to try and capture the unique feel of an '80s Horror Film in a modern-day one. And writer/director Ti West has pretty much nailed here. Unfortunately, a nice gimmick is no substitute for a plot, of which this only has about five minutes worth. The rest is just padding out the running time. And that's waaaaaay too much padding.

Orphan (2009)
This movie was just as creepy as advertised, but gets torpedoed by an highly improbable twist at the end. Oh, and if overt sexual behavior by a 12-year old is a little too creepy for you, there's a scene toward the end that will have you hiding under the bed.

Drag Me to Hell (2009)
I've discussed this movie in depth before; no need to rehash here.

The best one is the only non-Horror Movie; I sense a correlation here:

The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009)
If I didn't know better, I'd say this was a Coen Brothers movie, as it shares the goofy surreality of movies like Fargo and Burn After Reading. The movie, which is allegedly based on true events, refuses to admit that anyone has any sort of powers. It's happy with the fact that, even if no one actually has any power, if they believe they have powers, then that's the same as them having powers. The ambiguity just adds to the goofiness. Add to that great comedic turns by all the cast, and you have a thoroughly entertaining bit of nonsense.

I'm going to try to run through a wall now. Check it out.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Finally: A "Best Of" List I Can Get Behind

Me and this blog have had a long-standing hatred of "Best Of" lists. (Click here, here, or here to share the hate.) They are invariably written by entities who have no idea what "best" is. And, therefore, I tend to hate them.

That being said, imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon The A.V. Club's "The Best TV Series of the '00s" and found myself agreeing with almost everything on the list.

Shock!

Mind you, there's some real no-brainers on the list (Arrested Development, The Wire, Mad Men: no duh). But almost everything else on the list is shows that I have watched and enjoyed and would recommend to others. In fact, the only real false note I can find is the inclusion of How I Met Your Mother (which, admittedly, I have never seen, but it's a laff-track sitcom on CBS, which immediately tells me it's shit).

The thing that impresses me most about this list is that it thinks outside the box a little and includes great shows that a lot of people have not seen, like the hilariously insane Tim and Eric Awesome Show or the nostalgia-filled Venture Brothers. Even the inclusion of Joss Whedon's not-seen-by-anyone-until-after-the-fact space western Firefly is to be lauded.

So, seeing as it is the season for "Best Of" lists, be sure to enjoy this one that actually makes sense before gettting inundated with the the nonsensical ones.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Honestly: Who Knew?


Two days ago, the Andre Agassi autobiography Open was published. Before that, details of the book had been slowly leaking out, including some shockers, like his crystal meth use. The one that gets the most play, though, is the fact that his famous '90s hairdo was a wig.

Really?!!?

At the time, it was unfathomable that his hair was a wig. The wild hair seemed to go with the rest of his flamboyant, bad-boy persona. The hair seemed almost too complex to be a wig, and, honestly, that was the style at the time. I myself and many others I know had very similar mullets at the time. So, his hair didn't even look out of place or style and so there was no question as to its authenticity. I mean, how hard was it to believe that a 20-year old would have a big, fabulous head of wild hair?

But, 20 years later, after watching the above clip from the 1990 U.S. Open Final, before which Agassi claims his wig fell apart and was being held together with bobby pins, I realize: How could it not be a wig?

The obviousness of wigness is amplified by the fact he's wearing a headband. You can plainly see that he's pulling a Bret Michaels and that everything above the headband is a wig and everything below it is not. It's like there's a line drawn straight across his head separating what's real and what's fake. As you watch the match go on, the headband begins to creep up and he begins to look like a bald guy with a dead bearcat tied to his scalp with a headband.

I guess we should have suspected something when, suddenly, Agassi started wearing a hat and by '95, when he shaved his head, it was pretty apparent that he'd been balding for quite some time. But, the fact that it never looked like a wig, even when it was all sweaty and flying around, made for completely plausible deniability.

I guess no one realized how advanced wig technology was 20 years ago. Now I know.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Maybe Jim Thompson Will Finally Get His Due

Because I pay so little attention to everything, I had no idea that there was a movie adaptation of Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside Me coming out. (Actually, it's the second adaptation, as there's a Stacey Keach movie from the '70s that adapted it first.) Based upon the trailer (which I've included at the end of this post), it looks fairly entertaining, especially if you've always fantasized about seeing Jessica Alba getting beaten to death. As someone who's read most of Thompson's books, I'm always happy to see a movie based on Thompson's work.

The real shame is that Thompson, who died in the '70s, isn't around to reap any of the monetary benefits of having his work adapted. Thompson was widely ignored during his lifetime. Mind you, two of his books were adapted into movies in his lifetime (the aforementioned Keach version of The Killer Inside Me and Steve McQueen version of The Getaway). But, by the time he died, Thompson was broke and all of his work was out of print. It wasn't until years later, when people realized that Thompson was a better writer than Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, that his work was unfairly lumped in with all the other pulp fiction dreck of the era and that people might actually be interested in his work.

Now, all of his books are readily available and there's interest in "being in the Jim Thompson business." There have been nine more movie adaptations since his death, one of which (The Grifters) was nominated for four Oscars. And he's pretty much become one of those "Writers Everyone Should Read, But Hasn't." Meanwhile, Thompson spins in his grave, fuming over why it took his death for people to realize his greatness.

I know I'd be pissed. Anyway, enjoy the trailer:

Thursday, November 05, 2009

I Was Wondering When They Were Going To Change That Definition


If you missed last night's episode of South Park, you missed a delightfully subversive episode in which the boys get the definition of the word "fag" to refer to Harley riders instead of homosexuals.

As someone whose city is the Home of Harley Davidson and gets flooded with 100,000 annoying Harley riders every five years, I fully concur with Emmanuel Lewis' decision to update the definition.

Just my two cents, much to the chagrin of some of my friends and family.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Something To Watch For Halloween

So, tomorrow is Halloween. People like to be scared on Halloween and horror movies are the perfect way to do that. But, rather than recommend some shitty "horror" movie currently playing in theatres, I thought I'd give a couple that are out on video that are actually scary, instead of some PG-13 shit that wouldn't even scare a toddler. Some of these I've discussed before, others I haven't. All are great.

Happy Birthday to Me (1981)
Just rereleased on DVD, this is one of The Girl's favorite movies. And what's not to like about a movie where a guy gets his face sanded off by a spinning motorcycle tire? Check it out quick, so you can see it before it's inevitably remade.

Session 9 (2001)
Who knew that asbestos removal could be so scary? It is, particularly when your project is the condemned Danvers State Mental Hospital. And anytime you throw David Caruso into the mix will make for a scary ride. They just don't make spooky movies like this anymore.

Exorcist 3 (1990)
One of the few sequels in history to be scarier than the original. An odd premise, in that two minor characters from the original are the main characters here (similar to the sequel of another entry on this list). Flawed by some obvious post-production tampering, it still has some really creepy shit (like the old lady on the ceiling) and snappy dialogue (adapted by Blatty himself from his novel) that makes it worth a watch.

Ringu (1998)
The movie that singlehandedly ruined the Asian Horror Movie (as every horror movie released in Southeast Asia after this was a knockoff of it) is still one of the scariest things of the last decade. Without resorting to any sort of visual or audio trickery, it delivers the scares on atmosphere alone: something no director in America has figured out how to do.

Theater of Blood (1973)
More of a comedy than a horror movie, this has a plot that is almost too high-concept, with Vincent Price killing off theatre critics who have trashed his performances in reenactments of Shakespearean tragedies. Without a doubt, the greatest movie ever made about a murderous Shakespearean actor.

The Evil Dead (1981)
The movie that launched Sam Raimi's career is still some trippy shit. Many prefer Evil Dead 2, the sequel-cum-remake, but the cheap, fast, and out-of-control filmmaking of the original makes it my fave. And, without it, we'd have no Bruce Campbell, which would be a damn shame.

Drag Me to Hell (2009)
While we're talking about Sam Raimi, his first decent horror movie in nearly 20 years is full of complete grossness.

Braindead (1992)
And speaking of directors who've sold out, the last movie by Peter Jackson (and yes, I was a Jackson fan from Day One, and then he went Hollywood) before he went to the Dark Side is one of the grossest movies ever. Plus, it's a Zombie Movie (and a funny one, at that), which may make it one of the best movies ever.

Halloween (1978)
Duh. And for even more fun, check out Halloween 3, the completely nonsensical second sequel which doesn't even have the good sense to feature Michael Myers.

The Crimson Rivers (2001)
This little-seen French entry proves that you needn't be in Hollywood to make a slick-looking movie. Even though it's so complexly plotted that you need a Doctorate in Confusing Plots to figure it out (I've seen it several times, and am STILL a little fuzzy on what happens), it's still a fun little thrill ride.

The Stepfather (1987)
No, not the shitty remake currently playing in theatres, but the original with Terry O'Quinn, released on DVD just in time for Halloween. Ready makes one wonder about the merits of the statement "Daddy knows best."

The Changeling (1979)
Probably the last Haunted House Movie worth watching, it's also one of the best. Another movie that doesn't resort to smoke and mirrors for its scares, unlike every other Haunted House Movie these days.

Dawn of the Dead (1978)
C'mon now. You think I'm not going to sneak this one in? The magnum opus of the man who invented the Zombie Movie is one of the best Horror Movies ever. Some prefer Night; some prefer Day. For me, there is no Zombie Movie above Dawn.

Black Christmas (1974)
Bob Clark's original Canadian import beat Halloween to the theatres by four years, yet no one seems to acknowledge it as the first Slasher Movie. And what's not to love about a horror movie that takes place at Christmas?

Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001)
Not really a Horror movie, but not really any kind of movie. It borrows elements from several genres (including Kung-Fu Movies!!), and crams them all into one wild, scary movie. Possibly the craziest Monster Movie ever made.

Lost Treasures & Guilty Pleasures Update: Lady Frankenstein, Now With Video!

I'm usually not one to bottle my own farts so I can reenjoy them later on, but, in keeping with today's horror movie theme, I thought I'd repost this, as someone has been nice enough to upload the entire movie on YouTube. So, now you can read through my review and then watch the movie.

Instant gratification.



My love for horror movies was cultivated by watching the crappy American horror films of the '80s. As I got older, I refined my tastes by watching the slightly-less crappy Italian horror movies of the '60s and '70s. These films, despite their low budgets and bad acting (yes, even in another language it's bad), made up for it with their outstanding production values, cinematography, and all the blood 'n boobs you could handle. A lot of these films are better than horror movies made today. And Lady Frankenstein is no exception.

Lady Frankenstein recaps the Frankenstein story, only this time tacking on an additional story about Frankenstein's daughter attempting to make the perfect man. It's a movie that's developed a bit of a cult following over the years, mostly due to its "grindhouse" and drive-in showings. Some allege it to be the inspiration for the more well-known Andy Warhol's Frankenstein. Rob Zombie even cops a sample from its trailer for the intro of "Living Dead Girl." There is a fanbase out there, regardless of how diverse and obscure it may be.

And why would you not be a fan? It's got all the elements of a great Italian horror movie: washed-up American stars; insanely hot Italian women; nonsensical plotting; cinematography that could win an Oscar; and blood, blood, blood.

The washed-up American star in question is Joseph Cotten, playing Dr. Frankenstein. After a career of roles in praise-worthy films like Citizen Kane, The Third Man, and Shadow of a Doubt, he would basically star in nothing but dreck like this from this point on. (Another notable and praise-worthy star, George Sanders, took the honorable way out and killed himself right around this time when he found himself being cast in similar roles.) Oh, and former Mr. Universe Mickey Hargitay makes an appearance as well. (I'm sure his daughter Mariska is sooo proud.)

The insanely gorgeous Rosalba Neri plays the titular Lady Frankenstein, who spends a good portion of the movie naked. I'd say they don't even make women that look like this anymore, but she bears more than a passing resemblance to a Gisele Bündchen with black hair and smaller boobs, so that's not entirely true.

The plot of the movie is basically a device to show gross surgery and mutilation scenes, and provide as many opportunities for Rosalba to get her tits out as possible. The acting is about what you'd expect in a movie about Frankenstein's daughter. The terrible dubbing is English to English, a classic Italian trick to hide the fact that most of the actors probably spoke with thick foreign accents.

But, what it lacks in acting and plotting it makes up for with beautiful cinematography, dark and moody atmosphere, and lavish Gothic sets that look better than some of the stuff that passes for sets today (even though they were probably leftovers from some other, bigger-budged production).

Unfortunately, with movies like this, you have to take the good with the bad. Fortunately, most of the bad of Lady Frankenstein is of the "so bad, it's good" variety, which always makes choking movies like this down so much easier.

Check it out.

BTW, the trailer at the top of this post is pure Vintage Trailer 101. It's better than anything Eli Roth could possibly come up with to put in his fake trailer movie.

And now, enjoy the movie.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Turns Out, Adam Lambert Didn't Need To Come Out Of The Closet...


...Because, if he hadn't already publicly outed himself, the cover of his new album would have done the job.

Ho. Ly. Shit.

I guess the old practice of sexing up album covers for teenage girls to fantasize over is totally gone now.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Nearly Dark Picture Of The Near Dark Reunion


Attended Flashback Weekend on Saturday. Some observations:

-There didn't seem to be as many costumed weirdos at this year's show as there have been in past years. However, the number of people who appear to live in their parents' basement remained constant.

-As the show was at a different location this year, I had to refer to Google Maps to figure out where I was going. I only wish there had been a disclaimer on the map which read, "Directions are approximate at best."

-Kevin J. O'Connor (whom I've long considered to be one of the most annoying actors ever, but was tolerable in There Will Be Blood) made an unannounced appearance. I believe he's a local, so him showing up was just a jog across town. And I was like, "Look, there's that annoying guy from The Mummy, just walking around." It was like the time I saw Kevin Nealon at the mall in downtown Milwaukee. What the fuck's Kevin Nealon doing at the mall?

-Anchor Bay, the show's corporate sponsor, once the premiere distributor of horror movies before being purchased by Starz, once again made a spectacular showing by bringing a mere six films from their catalog, all fair to middling new releases. And, once again, Synapse Films, one of their direct market competitors, brought their entire catalog. They even brought movies that are out-of-print. I guess there's something to be said about remaining an independent company.

-The Girl wanted me to get Tony Todd to autograph a picture with "I hear you're lookin' for the Candyman, bitch." I didn't think he'd find that as funny as I did.

-Best Costume: Jason's mother, Pamela Voohees. Unfortunately, it was being worn by a dude.

-Svengoolie, a Chicagoland horror movie host who's syndicated in about four cities, had a bigger turnout than any of the more well-known Hollywood celebrities. Never underestimate the fanbase of a local.

-Even though she seemed like a perfectly lovely woman, I can't see why you would want to meet Mercedes McNabb. What am I gonna say to her: "I thought your tits looked nice in Playboy"? Pass.

-The Near Dark reunion was actually pretty entertaining. It's unfortunate that it was only a half hour long, as I could have listened to those stories for hours.

-Nick DiGilio admitted to me that he was blowing off his WGN radio show to attend Flashback Weekend. He made up for it on Sunday by doing two shows. I wish every workplace was like that.

All in all, a good time. The thing I like about shows like this is that I get to see celebrities I like without all the agents, managers, publicists, and a whole gaggle of sycophantic hangabouts surrounding them. They're there just kinda hanging out. And you get to see that, despite their celebrity pedigrees, they're just normal people who act like everyone else. I saw Tim Thomerson walking down the hall talking to one of the vendors about all the stuff he was selling. I shared a smoke with Lance Henriksen while he talked about the Kennedy assassination. Little things like that make it well worth the price of admission and are things that I'll never forget, despite their relative triviality.

I'll most definitely being attending again next year.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It Hurts My Feelings When You Say I'm Not A Rapper


Even though I've had a copy of this for quite a while, the new Flight of the Conchords album I Told You I Was Freaky just came out the other day.

It's basically just songs taken from the second season of their show. The songs' subject matter is somewhat out of context if you've never seen the shows, but the songs themselves are strong enough to be good without context.

For fans of the show (and the band, for that matter), this is a must-have. Check it out.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Monty Python Returns...Sort Of


If you're a fan of Monty Python, you should probably make some time to watch Almost the Truth, the six-part documentary about Monty Python currently airing on the Independent Film Channel. It's got the participation of all the living Python members, and contains a lot of information that I as a fan wasn't aware of (like the fact that they were all Cambridge and Oxford educated).

It's airing all this week, so check your local listings for times; I know I did.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Nice Effort, But...


In case you missed it, I just wanted to bring to your attention this ridiculous baseball play, in which the Rockies' Dexter Fowler jumps over the Phillies' Chase Utley. You can check it out over at MLB.com. It's such a ridiculous and unexpected baserunning ploy that shortstop Jimmy Rollins olés Utley's throw into center field.

It was all for naught, however. Even though Fowler would go on to score the tying run, the Phillies would score three runs with two outs in the ninth. So, that fabulous play just becomes a meaningless highlight.

Best to not even try if that's what extraordinary effort get ya.

Friday, October 09, 2009

"Hurry, Hurry! Step Right Up! Get Yer Nobel Peace Prize!!"


In a move that comes as a surprise to every single person on the planet Earth, President Barack Obama has been awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. The official statement from the Nobel Foundation claims that Obama won "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." It should be noted that Obama has only been President for nine months and has done absolutely nothing yet in terms of foreign relations.

So, is this what the Peace Prize has devolved into? They just give the Prize away to just anyone for doing nothing?

Look back to 2002, when Jimmy Carter won. Although he was a crappy President, since leaving office, he has done a good deal to further world peace and development, both here and abroad. He's a deserving winner. But then, two years ago, you got Al Gore winning one for giving a PowerPoint presentation on global warming.

And now, you got Obama winning one for nothing more than making some ambitious campaign promises. Other than dump more troops into Afghanistan (which is the antithesis of peace), he's done nothing to improve world peace, other than claiming he would do so.

Look at Ronald Reagan, who was instrumental in the fall of the Soviet Union and communism in Europe: not a winner. Bill Clinton, who helped make peace in the Middle East, Northern Ireland, and the Balkans, and continues to work in Africa: not a winner. Even Mohandas Gandhi, a twelve-time nominee who was a literal martyr for peace: not a winner. Obama's sole peaceful initiative was to invite the participants of a domestic dispute to the White House for a beer, and this apparently wins him to Nobel Peace Prize.

Wow; just...wow. I think someone may want to check Sweden's water supply, because they're obviously on something.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

With A Star That Looks Like This, I Can't Understand Why More People Don't Watch Dollhouse

I am a weekly viewer of Dollhouse, which is one of the lowest-rated network shows. It's only airing 13 episodes this season, but, if its ratings continue like this, it might not come back next year or even make it through this season.

I can't understand why more people don't watch this show. It's a well-written, well-produced show with a truly original plot from the brilliant mind of Joss Whedon, with a great cast of well-developed characters, headed by the stunningly pretty Eliza Dushku.

Meanwhile, the #1 show on TV, NCIS, which is just another goddamned fuckin' CBS crime show that is exactly the same as a half dozen other shows on CBS, is so unoriginal that if it were canceled, no one would notice, as there's also NCIS: Los Angeles, which is exactly the same as NCIS, except it's got Chris O'Donnell instead of Mark Harmon, and the hot girl on that show is Linda Hunt. (Not Helen Hunt, not Bonnie Hunt; Linda Hunt, who looks like a Muppet.)

Yet more people would rather watch that CSI ripoff than an entertaining show that actually has some intelligent thoughts in its head.

The end of using our brains is quickly approaching.

The Future Of Burger King


Burger King announced plans today to overhaul its 12,000 locations with a new, updated look. It hopes the overhaul will put the #2 fast-food chain in closer competition with McDonald's, which is slowly revamping all of its restaurants.

I actually like the new look. It looks a lot like a restaurant version of Frank Lloyd Wright's Johnson Wax Building. I've been to a couple of new Burger Kings recently, and their interiors are pretty much the same as that of McDonald's. Differentiating their look from their competitor's won't be a bad thing.

Now, if they would just overhaul their menu, maybe I'd eat there more often.

Monday, October 05, 2009

What I'm Listening To


Billy Joel - Glass Houses/The Nylon Curtain
About 20 years ago, I had this same mix on cassette, taped from the vinyl LPs, one album on each side. (I still own Glass Houses on vinyl.) I've listened to that tape 100,000 times. Now I listen to that same mix in crystal-clear digital clarity. Wonderful thing, the invention of the CD burner.

AFI - Crash Love
AFI abandons their typical whiny goth rock and goes New Wave, with pretty good results. Davey Havoc's balls have apparently dropped, because his voice is nowhere near as high-pitched as it has been in the past. If it wasn't already October, I'd say that "Too Shy to Scream" would be the Feel Bad Hit of the Summer.

Alice in Chains - Black Give Way to Blue
It's hard to believe that Alice in Chains hasn't put out a studio album in 14 years. If there was ever any doubt that Alice in Chains was Jerry Cantrell's band, those doubts will be put to rest once you hear this, as it's pretty much a continuation of Cantrell's solo albums; new lead singer William DuVall makes occasional cameo vocal appearances. Unfortunately, the band has continued on from Cantrell's slow, mellow Degradation Trip period, instead of Alice in Chains' gloomy metal heyday. Whatever the result, it's just nice to see Cantrell making music again; "Check My Brain" may be one of the best tracks he's ever written.

Silversun Pickups - Swoon
As long as we're on the topic of retro music, here's a band that, rather than turning to '70s or '80s music, is bringing back the '90s in a big way. They sound like a cross between My Bloody Valentine and early Smashing Pumpkins. If you're a fan of "shoegaze," this may be the record for you.

Three Days Grace - Life Starts Now
There comes a point in a band's career when they either evolve and improve (see AFI above) or keep putting out the same record and get stale (see Weezer, The Strokes, etc.). The latter case is not always bad thing, as is the case with AC/DC, which has been putting out the same album for 35 years. But that one album is really fucking good. Unfortunately, this isn't the case with Three Days Grace on their third album. I like Three Days Grace and their first two albums, but it's all starting to sound the same, and they're no AC/DC. Pass.

Foo Fighters - "Wheels"
I remember when Dave Grohl put out the first Foo Fighters album. What a great album: Dave Grohl gets out from under the shadow of Kurt Cobain and lets his inner metalhead shine. In the 14 years since that album came out, the Foos have devolved into a band that sounds like every other overproduced Top 40 band. With the release of this new single from their greatest hits album, it's apparent that Dave is now taking his inspiration from 3 Doors Down instead of Motörhead. I'm sure Cobain is rolling in his grave.

If I hear anything else of note, I'll let you know.

Friday, October 02, 2009

If I Told You I Met Martin Landau, Would That Be Something You'd Be Interested In?


The Milwaukee Film Festival has been going on for the past week or so. The Girl and I attended for the first time this Friday. Not coincidentally, Martin Landau was appearing that same night for a showing of Crimes and Misdemeanors, and a showing of his new film Lovely, Still the following night. I'd seen Crimes and Misdemeanors before; not a big fan, but I figured, "Hey, Martin Landau's going to be there, so I suppose I can sit through it again."

Now, I kinda figured that we'd watch the film and then Martin would appear at the end and do a Q&A, which he eventually did. What I didn't figure is that Martin would just hang out amongst the people before the show. Three-time Oscar nominee and one-time winner just sitting there in the lounge, meeting and greeting well-wishers and on-lookers.

It's not every day one gets to meet an Oscar winner. Actually, truth be told, I really wasn't, like, super-hyped to meet him. It's not like I was meeting Michael Caine or, even better, Christopher Lee: people whom I know a lot about and could speak to for hours. It's Martin Landau. It's like meeting George Kennedy: sure, he's an Oscar winner, but it's George Kennedy, a b-list character actor with a pretty bland career. Yet, here's this gaggle of sycophantic starfuckers, all gathered around to tell Martin how great he is and how much they love his work.

But I can't even attempt to be that phony. I'm not really a fan. The only thing I'd ask would be something of interest to me, like, "How was it working on Mission: Impossible? Do you still keep in touch with Peter Graves?" Or maybe a practical question, like, "Hey, Martin, do you know when this ferkakte movie is going to start?" No celebrity wants to answer those "Stuttering John questions," so I really had nothing to say to the guy.

But how often am I going to meet Martin Landau? So, as The Girl and I headed into the theatre, I leaned over where Martin was sitting, stuck out my hand, which he shook, and said, "It's nice to meet you, Martin. Thanks for coming out. Enjoy your stay in Milwaukee."

And that's it. That's how I met Martin Landau. As non-plussed as I was about the encounter, I will say it was pretty cool that Martin just hung around in the lounge talking to people. A lot of celebs wouldn't have done that, so that's to be admired.

However, there are some people who shouldn't hang around and do that. Like Nik Fackler, the director of Martin's movie Lovely, Still, which was making its U.S. premiere the following night. Here's this punk kid, wearing the standard-issue indie-filmmaker douchebag wardrobe of plaid vest and Hot Topic fedora (like a not-as-cool version of Synyster Gates), who's directed, well, the one movie, acting like he's the most important guy in the room. Meanwhile, sitting directly to his left is an Oscar winner who's worked with Ron Howard, Tim Burton, Woody Allen, Joe L. Mankiewicz, even Alfred fucking Hitchcock, acting like he's just happy to be out and about.

There's something to be said about people who are able to able to handle celebrity graciously. I can't help notice that most of the ones who can are old-timers. One time, I was at an Champ Car race, and there was Paul Newman, who was a team owner at the time, just standing there on the track apron. Paul Newman, just right there where anyone could walk up to him. I can't see a lot of our current-day celebrities doing that. They've totally lost touch with reality, forgetting that they too were once normal people.

Kinda makes me wish I was about 20 years older. Maybe I could have met some of these guys before they started dying off.

At least I can say I met Martin Landau before he dies off.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Other Guy That Wrote Pulp Fiction Is Going To Prison


Roger Avary, who won an Oscar for being the guy who nobody remembers as the other screenwriter on Pulp Fiction, was sentenced to a year in jail for driving drunk and killing a guy 22 months ago.

Without even knowing a lot about the case, I know instantly that this happened in Los Angeles. Ya know how? Because a guy drove drunk and killed someone, and only got a year in jail. And Los Angeles is the only place in the world where murder (or any crime, for that matter) is really not a big deal.

Oh, sure, I understand the laxness on the DUI thing; my home state of Wisconsin has some of the worst DUI offenders in the nation. Hell, just this month, one of our state assemblymen got busted for his fourth DUI and he's still out there driving around.

But murder? You kill someone here, and you'll be spending a good number of years in Waupan or any one of our other fine correctional institutions. In L.A., you get the right jury, and you'll get a free pass on a double homicide.

So, here's to the L.A. County justice system. With any luck, with good behavior, Roger can get paroled out in six months.

If I thought I'd only serve six months, I'd kill someone every day. True story.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Last Five Movies


Jennifer's Body (2009)
Remember how the first 10 minutes of Juno, before Diablo Cody's annoyingly witty dialogue calmed down, were nearly unbearable? Now, imagine that 10 minutes stretched out to feature length, and you have some idea of what Jennifer's Body is like. And the returns for this are proving that most people prefer Megan Fox in the context of transforming robots or in photograph form; all other situations need not apply.

Sorority Row (2009)
Remember how annoying and unwatchable Jennifer's Body was? Different plot, same dialogue: combine, and you have Sorority Row. It's not even stupidly entertaining like the movie it's an uncredited remake of (which would be House on Sorority Row).

The Informant! (2009)
A true story so goofy and twisted, it would almost be impossible to make up something harder to believe. Hopefully, this marks Steven Soderbergh's welcome return to somewhat-conventional movie making.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
I stopped reading the Harry Potter books after the second one. I stopped watching the movies in the theatre after the third one. I've only seen the fourth and fifth movies once each on video, and don't remember anything that happened in either one (in fact, I had a hard time remembering that there were two movies). Needless to say, I had no fucking idea what was going on in this movie. Methinks I might need to revisit those last two movies.

Slow month, this:

Extract (2009)
Mike Judge is probably one of the most criminally under-appreciated filmmakers out there. His last movie, Idiocracy, sat on the shelf for two years before Fox decided to pretend they were going to release it, and then just pitched it onto video with no fanfare. Any given episode of King of the Hill is better than anything Brett Ratner has ever made, yet Ratner's made a billion dollars and Judge can barely get his movies released. Luckily, Extract did get released, which is good for everyone, since it's hilarious. And it's hilarious without having to rely entirely on the comedic genius of Jason Bateman (although his presence helps greatly). Now that King of the Hill's done and The Goode Family's been canceled, Judge can start making movies full-time, just as he should've been doing all along. And the world will be a better place.

Up next for me: Whiteout. I can't wait.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Is This What Passes For Baseball These Days?


Over at the Hall of Very Good, my friend Jesus Melendez has spent the better part of the year discussing this baseball season's milestones. One of the milestones that he has yet to expound upon in length is the setting of a new seasonal strikeout record. Mark Reynolds of the Arizona Diamondbacks has broken the old record of 204, set way back in...well, last year by Mark Reynolds. At 208 SOs with nine games left, he appears poised to make it very difficult for himself to break this record again next year. And, while it was bound to happen, as every record is made to be broken, I think the strikeout record getting topped on twice in as many years points towards a disturbing trend in baseball.

The seasonal strikeout record was held for a loooong time by Bobby Bonds. He broke the previous mark of 175 in 1969 with 187, and then broke his own record with 189 the following year.

That was a record for a long time. Prior to the turn of the millennium, the closet anyone ever got to the record was when Rob Deer, who sometimes had twice as many strikeouts as hits in a season, got within three in 1987. In fact, up until 1997, Dave Nicholson's old 1963 mark of 175 was only surpassed five other times, and two of those were Deer. No one wanted that record. And rightly so, as it expresses a level of ineptitude that not many players want to achieve.

But, as we approached Y2K, a lot of players started closing in on that record. And, as the new millennium proceeded, someone (specifically, Adam Dunn) fucked around and managed to break that record. In just the past five years, the record was been reset three more times, most recently by Reynolds.

Thirty years, and the closest anyone got to Bonds' mark was within three. In the past six years, it's been topped seven times. That old 175 mark has been bested 19 more times in the past 10 years. Apparently, it's all right to be a strikeout overachiever.

Funny thing, though: Over that same 10-12 year time period, the same thing happened to home runs.

When Albert Belle hit 50 homers in 1995, that was the first time someone had done that since Cecil Fielder did it five years earlier. Prior to Fielder: George Foster in '77. In the first 126 years of baseball, 50 HRs in a season had happened only 17 times. Since '95, it's happened 21 more times. It's no big deal to hit 50, even 60, homers now.

Coincidentally enough, wasn't that same time period when the whole steroid thing kinda took off? I'm sure someone could easily blame steroids for the rise in homers and strikeouts, but, seeing as there's little correlation between the HR and SO numbers, this assumption would lead one to believe that steroids grant the user one of two abilities: (1) hitting lots of homers, or (2) striking out an irrational number of times.

The easier conclusion to reach is that, because of the recent increased importance of the home run, batters aren't even attempting to put the ball in play anymore, opting to merely swing so hard that they corkscrew themselves into the ground like a Looney Tunes character every time they miss. I think that, if more emphasis was placed on just making contact with the ball instead of trying to knock its cover off, strikeouts would go down. Sure, homers would go down, too, but I'd rather watch someone get 200 hits than watch them not hit anything 200 times.

As for Reynolds and his dubious mark, he might want to focus more on contact and less on power. The career strikeout mark is 2597, held by Reggie Jackson. Only four players (including Jackson) have topped 2000 SOs in their careers, and no one in the history of baseball has gotten within 250 of Jackson's record. That being said, at his current pace, Reynolds will break Jackson's record within 10 years. A mark it took Jackson 21 years to set, and this dope, in three season, is already a quarter of the way there.

No wonder I can barely be bothered to pay attention to baseball anymore.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

No Punchline Needed For This One


Even though this picture is in horrible taste, I wouldn't put it past Kayne at all. That mutherfucker would take any opportunity to steal the spotlight.

He's a musical genius, ya know.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Welcome To Every Child's Nightmare


I found this rather entertaining clip of Alice Cooper performing "Welcome to My Nightmare" on The Muppet Show in 1978. While I do believe I saw every episode of The Muppet Show, I don't remember this. Like most four-year olds, I wasn't into anything remotely as cool as Alice Cooper, so this didn't make much of an impression on me.

Examples like this just reinforce my theory that a lot of the stuff that my generation watched as children wasn't for children at all. Oh, sure: The Muppet Show is entertaining to children because it's Muppets. But the celebrities and almost all the jokes are geared waaaay over childrens' heads. Same with Warner Bros. Looney Tunes, which may not even be appropriate for children. Or, to cite a modern example, Pixar's movies, which are written for adults but dumbed down into cartoons for the kids.

As for Alice Cooper, of course he'd be on The Muppet Show. He's one of those guys that doesn't take himself seriously enough to not appear on something as goofy as The Muppet Show. A band like Yes would be much too "important" to make an appearance, but here's a cool guy like Alice, makeup and all, hamming it up with the Muppets.

If all rock stars were like this, the world would be a better place.

Meet The Beatles, Possibly For The First Time

Just wanted to draw your attention to Chuck Klosterman's review of the new Beatles box set, written like a guy who, 40 years after their split, has never heard of The Beatles. For those of you not familiar with Klosterman's work, he's a former Spin editor who once wrote a completely unironic essay extolling the virtues of Billy Joel's The Nylon Curtain. (Seriously.)

I like the review, because it says things about The Beatles (and The Rolling Stones, for that matter) that everyone thinks, but nobody says. Like that no one actually likes Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, even though everyone likes to cite it as one of the greatest records ever.

A Billy Joel fan that disagrees with one of the main tenets of rock music criticism? No wonder Spin fired this guy.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Really?!?


To the chagrin of every person with an I.Q. above 50, the sequel to The Boondock Saints is happening, rather cleverly titled The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day (see what they did there?). Here's the trailer, if you give a fuck.

Why a completely moronic movie that was an absolute box office disaster and wasn't even able to recoup its budget from an extremely successful DVD release would merit a sequel is beyond me.

Oh, that's right: Because the morons and mouth-breathers who think this movie is awesome will actually pay money to see this. I mean, why wouldn't you make a sequel to a movie that has its own line of merchandise at Hot Topic?

Instead of seeing this, everyone should watch Overnight, a making-of documentary which proves Saints writer/director to be one of the world's biggest dumbasses.

That you should pay to see.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Show That Just Wouldn't End

A couple months back, I commented on the long-overdue euthanization of Prison Break, which had overstayed its welcome by two seasons. Having seen the show through to its conclusion, I was relatively happy with the ending. All the loose ends were tied up, all the characters were taken care of; the show was concluded.

Yet, mere weeks later, here's a direct-to-video movie version of Prison Break that picks up where the show left off.

Really? We needed this?

As I mentioned, the finale of the TV version wrapped everything up, even showed where the characters would be in five years. But, apparently, what we missed in that five year period was this additional prison break.

Actually, it's not surprising that they came out with a movie. At 88 minutes long, which is exactly what two hours of TV sans commercials runs, it appears to be the last two episodes of the show edited together into a movie. Basically, Fox didn't want to air two more episodes, so they released them on video in movie form instead.

And what a waste of time and money that was. If you saw the show finale, you know what happens to all the characters and nothing in this movie does anything to change that. It's basically just two more hours of show which do nothing to advance the plot. In fact, the only revelation that was previously unknown was the fate of Jodi Lyn O'Keefe's character, who survived being gutshot and is now in prison.

There: I've given away the one spoiler. You can save yourself the trouble of having to find it out on your own.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

This Is Getting A Little Ridiculous

Just to make sure that I'm not existing in my own private alternate reality, let me ask a question, and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong: Didn't Fox just start a Fantastic Four movie franchise four years ago, and then put out a sequel two years later?

Yes, they did? Oh, good, then it's the whole world that's gone insane and not just me, because I thought the reports that Fox is going to start a new Fantastic Four franchise were pretty fucking nutty.

So, a mere five or so years after we learned the origins of The Fantastic Four, we get to learn it again. Thank God, because my memory is pretty short sometimes; they got their powers from radioactive spiders bites, right?

I thought the industry standard for time passed between a movie and its remake was 20 years, but apparently Fox is lowering that to five years, which leads me to believe that the time in which all movies will be remakes is only about 10 years away.

And people wonder why I'm so full of hate. Now you know.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I Can Think Of Better Punching Bags Than This

Early news reports are coming out that Girls Gone Wild idiot Joe Francis was involved in an altercation this morning in which he allegedly punched out 2008 Playboy Playmate of the Year Jayde Nicole. He also got into a scuffle with Nicole's boyfriend, celebrity-wannabe douchebag Brody Jenner.

Seeing as Francis is constantly in trouble, you would think that assault and battery would finally lead to some hard time for him. But this happened in L.A., so the worst punishment he'll get for beating up a woman is about 17 minutes of community service. It's a shame this didn't happen in Las Vegas, where Francis is currently facing tax evasion charges. They'd take him out front of the Bellagio and drown him in the fountain.

Seeing as they managed to put O.J. away, getting rid of a punk like Francis would be a cakewalk.

Oh, and in late-breaking celebrity news, DJ AM, who survived a plane crash almost a year ago, was found dead in his apartment from an apparent drug overdose.

Guy walks away, mostly intact, from a fucking plane crash, and he hasn't got sense enough to reprioritize his life and get off the smack. This is like celebrating winning the lottery by laying down in front of an oncoming train.

I'm willing to bet some of the dead victims of that crash wish they still had lives to throw away.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Greatest Show Ever?


As I mentioned in my earlier review of ABC's new shows, ABC's Crash Course, which debuted last night, is probably one of the best shows on TV right now. I realize that it's only aired one episode, but, if you've seen what's currently on TV, you'll know this isn't a real stretch of a claim.

I enjoy that the show is nothing more than possibly-fatal car crashes. I also enjoy that the production makes good use of The Raceway at Belle Isle Park, which has been sitting vacant since the IRL put the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix on hiatus. And, unlike every other competition show on TV, the hosts/judges aren't there to fawn over the contestants; they're there to mercilessly make fun of them. (Orlando Jones' impression of Roommate Ty is priceless.)

If you missed it, you can check it out at ABC On Demand, and you can watch subsequent episodes Wednesdays at 8:00c.

I'll be tuned it; you should be, too.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The New Disappointment By Quentin Tarantino


Because I'm too burned out by the experience (read: lazy) to write a 5000 word diatribe about the mess that is Inglourious Basterds, I'll do as I've done in the past and refer you to Nick Digilio's review of the movie. I agree with almost everything Nick and his callers say about the film, except, whenever Nick uses "like" and "love" or any other positive words, replace those words with "hate" and "abhor" and other words of scorn.

I hate to say it, as I really wanted to like this movie, but Basterds isn't even entertaining as the 1978 Italian movie from which it steals its incorrectly-spelled name.

And that movie is TERRIBLE.

Friday, August 21, 2009

ABC's Fall Lineup


I recently had the opportunity to check out the majority of ABC's new fall shows. My thoughts on what I saw:

V
A "reboot" of the Marc Singer vehicle from the '80s. Anyone (like myself) who was a fan of the original series will like this. And, seeing as her character has apparently been killed off of Lost, I'm just happy to see Elizabeth Mitchell is still on the tele.

Cougar Town
There are the makings of a good show somewhere in this mess, but, in its current form, it's just that: a mess. Imagine Sex in the City in the suburbs, and you have some idea of what this show wanted to be.

Modern Family
A documentary-style show about three interrelated families is the funniest show I've seen since 30 Rock. It's a shame that show creator Chris Lloyd couldn't get his Fraiser star Kelsey Grammer in this, because he's stuck on...

Hank
...which is one of the least-funny shows I've ever seen. If this was on CBS, which airs nothing but shitty "laff track" sitcoms, I would be a big hit. But...it's on ABC, where it will bomb.

The Middle
And Grammer's Back to You co-star Patricia Heaton is stuck in this equally unfunny mess. It will also quickly disappear.

Eastwick
I couldn't quite make sense out of why ABC would make a show out of 25-year old literary property. I figured that maybe they were capitalizing on the fact that John Updike published The Widows of Eastwick (the sequel to The Witches of...) shortly before his death earlier this year. But, having watched the show, I realize that it's an adaptation of the movie, as the creators were apparently too lazy to actually read the book and just watched the Cliff Notes instead. Well, I've seen the movie; no reason for me (or you) to watch this.

The Forgotten
It's not a good sign when the network recasts and reshoots the pilot of a show, as they did with this one. I suspect it will last as long as Life on Mars, the last show they did this to. And I wish that Michelle Borth was still starring in Tell Me You Love Me instead of this garbage.

FlashForward
A show in which everyone on the planet blacks out for two minutes and gets a two-minute glimpse of their lives six months in the future. An interesting show, even if it does steal its premise from a Vonnegut novel. It's odd seeing Seth MacFarlane in a non-Family Guy context, though. Maybe he's come up with something to fall back on for when Fox smartens up and cancels all of his shitty shows.

Crash Course
This is basically a real-life version of Burnout 3. The most entertaining part is co-hosts Dan Cortese (!!) and Orlando Jones ripping on the contestants. I absolutely fucking HATE reality competition shows, but I will watch this, because the possibility of someone actually dying seems pretty likely.

All-around, a decent lineup. I think ABC will do well this year, considering what Fox will be putting on the air.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The World's Greatest Douchebag Reports For Practice


The above picture is not a Photoshop like we've seen in the past, as Brett Favre is now officially a Minnesota Viking. It ends literal months and months of speculation as to whether Favre would return to football.

This completes Favre's transition to football's biggest asshole. Most people would say Michael Vick had that honor, but Vick isn't a legendary football player and his shithead behavior had nothing to do with football. Favre, however, is quickly flushing his legacy as one of football's greatest quarterbacks right down the toilet. He's become the Roger Clemens of football, using his legendary status to carpetbag his way into jobs. He even pulled the same dickhead maneuver of conveniently waiting until training camp was over before deciding to sign with the Vikings. In fact, the only difference is that Clemens' steroid-aided performance actually kept him in top form, whereas Favre should have actually retired when he first retired two years ago.

With this latest development, I'm not sure if it's safe for Favre to travel to the state of Wisconsin. When the Vikings play the Packers in Green Bay, I'm almost positive the fans will destroy the stadium while trying to kill Favre. The booing will be audible throughout the state, probably even into Illinois and Michigan. And I'd imagine the fans would make the trip to games in Minnesota so that they could boo him there as well. I've never seen a sports figure who has gone from beloved to absolutely hated by his former fans this badly before.

I myself am not a Packers fan, and I've always hated Favre, so, needless to say, I'm loving this. I can't wait for the season to start.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Wisconsin Legend Dies


I thought I'd mention the passing of Milwaukee native Les Paul, who died today from pneumonia at age 94.

Depending on who you talk to, Les Paul invented the electric guitar. The Gibson guitar model that still bears his name is one of the most-used and -recognizable in music today. In addition to his innovation in guitars, he is also credited with inventing multi-track recording, a technique that has been used on almost every single record ever made since.

Paul remained active in music until the end, still gigging in his 90s. He was one of the elder statesmen of music, joining guys like Leo Fender and Jim Marshall, who, from an equipment standpoint, basically invented the sound of rock music.

If you happen to be in Milwaukee, stop by the Discovery World Museum and check out the Les Paul exhibit. It's the perfect way to celebrate the life of a true musical genius.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The De-Illustrated Woman

Just for the sake of curiosity, I thought I'd publish this photo of tattoo artist Kat Von D without any of her tattoos. The picture is from an ad for concealer from her makeup line at Sephora.

Ya know, once you get all that shit off her, as she is literally tattooed from head to toe in real life, she's really quite attractive. Maybe she should consider modeling her concealer on a full-time basis.

Just an idea.

Whadaya Know: Another Remake


It's been 22 years since the release of The Stepfather, so obviously it's time for a remake, because 20 years seems to be the magic number of years between original and remake.

And now that it's a done deal, there's a trailer. And, based on this trailer, I can see that all of the modifications the producers have made to make this seem like an "original" concept have made for an absolutely awful movie.

The worst mistake appears to be that they've cast Dylan Walsh in the title role. I know he plays a bit of an asshole on Nip/Tuck, but he's just not psychotic stepfather material. Dylan Walsh is the guy you cast as the cuckold boyfriend/fiancée/husband of the female lead in a romantic comedy. Terry O'Quinn, who played this role in the original, was perfectly cast. In fact, had that not been one of his first starring roles, I'd say he was being typecast, because, well, he is that guy. An actor like Christopher Meloni, who just oozes menace, who's actually even IN this movie, would have been a much better choice. (Anyone who's seen his work in Oz can attest to this.)

They also appear to have changed the stepdaughter of the original into a stepson, which eliminates the whole creepy "daddy's little girl" vibe, as well as the possibility of a gratuitous Amber-Heard-nude-in-the-shower scene. (Here's what she looks like nude, so I've saved you the trouble even if she was nude in it.)

And it appears to rather plainly be a shitty remake of a vastly superior original, a near crime against humanity. I've posted here before that the original is one of my favorite movies, and remaking it really sticks in my craw. While it is possible to remake a film on par with the original (John Woo's The Killer is a great remake of Melville's Le Samouraï; Walter Hill's The Driver is not), I don't think this is the case here. Just another example of Hollywood being about five years away from producing nothing but remakes.

The only positive I can see coming out of this whole thing is that it may spark interest in the original and cause it to finally be released on DVD. (The VHS has been out-of-print for a number of years.) Hopefully, everybody can hold out until that happens and see the good version of this movie instead of this reheated crap.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Last Five Movies


Funny People (2009)
In the past few weeks, I've called into question Judd Apatow's pedigree as a comedic genius. After having seen Funny People, I call it into question even more. Whereas his previous writer/directorial efforts have been "laff riots," this is a much more somber film. It IS funny, but it's hard to maintain a fun mood in a movie about introspection before death. He also makes the mistake that he made in Knocked Up by giving all the funny parts to the supporting actors instead of the leads. And he makes the Reality Bites Error, by forcing the girl to desire the wrong guy. And, Jesus Christ, is this ever a long movie. Let's hope his next effort returns to his previous form and doesn't continue on this current not-as-funny path.

Moon (2009)
Zowie Bowie (who now goes by his birth name of Duncan Jones) gives us his take on Silent Running and 2001. An odd movie. Good, but odd.

Public Enemies (2009)
Michael Mann's historically inaccurate depiction of the final years of John Dillinger's life, filmed right here in Wisconsin. (Oddly enough, this is also the movie that made Governor Jim Doyle consider repealing the tax credit for movies shot in the state. This state's economy is worse than California's, and our governor wants to shut out a multi-billion dollar industry. Brilliant!) While it's extremely well-made on all fronts, it seems very long and drags at times. But all of Mann's films are like this, and that hasn't stopped me from buying the videos of every movie he's made in the past 15 years.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)
One of the slew of gonzo low-budget horror movies that came out in the late '80s. Having seen it, I can't even begin to imagine what made me want to watch it in the first place.

I'd say to start marking up your Oscar ballots, but it's a little too early...

The Hurt Locker (2009)
Katherine Bigelow's first worth-while movie since Strange Days. It's brilliant in that it makes a statement about war without resulting to the political bashing that muddies the waters of the genre. Well-made, well-acted, well-directed; just all-around well. Easily the best movie I've seen this year.

Check it out.

Friday, August 07, 2009

The Inside Scoop On The Three Stooges


If you don't listen to Howard Stern, chances are you missed "The Three Stooges: The Lost and Found Interviews," in which a 16-year old Tom Bergeron interviewed Stooges Moe Howard and Larry Fine shortly before their deaths.

It's really some pretty interesting stuff. There aren't many taped interviews with the Stooges, and to hear them talk about their careers, particularly Moe, who was in his 70s at the time and had total recall of his career. It's also somewhat startling to realize that, even though they made 200 films, the Stooges didn't make a nickel in royalties and mostly died destitute.

If you missed it, they're replaying it on Howard 100 on Sirius XM radio; you can check the schedule on Stern's website.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

This Hunk Brings CRAZY Traffic To My Site

I'm usually not one to toot my own horn, but, if you Google the term "Jeff Bagwell divorce," this site is the second search result.

Don't believe it? Check it out.

The search references this post, which, oddly enough, really has nothing to do with Jeff Bagwell OR his divorce. It's also odd that some sport or gossip site wouldn't be higher than my rant-o-rama, as, well, they actually cover stories like this.

But, nope. It's HowardStern.com and then me (and the Stern post doesn't have anything to do with Bagwell or his divorce either).

While I appreciate that Google is directing traffic to my site through this odd search, I think they may want to work on their algorithms a little. I think most people will be disappointed with the results they get.

P.S. It's worth noting that neither Yahoo nor Bing make this same error. They actually refer stories about Jeff Bagwell's divorce. And yet Google is #1 in search.

Go figure.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Heeeeere's Raaaaaaaandy!


I know that people think Judd Apatow is a comedic genius, that everything he touches is comedic gold. I'll admit that Apatow does have a talent with comedy, and that he's got a good eye for talent.

But I'm also extremely sceptical, because, if you look at his entire filmography, he's got more misses than hits, and they're BAD misses. (Oh, and he stole the entire online marketing campaign for Funny People from Ben Stiller.)

Now, there's something else that makes me doubt Apatow's comedic credibility. In an interview, Apatow claimed he's working on a script for a full-length feature for Randy, one of the minor characters in Funny People. For those of you not familiar with the internet phenomena that is Randy, just Google "Raaaaaaaandy" (with eight "A"s), and you'll be referred to a plethora of Funny or Die clips of Randy in action.

THIS is what Apatow wants to make a movie out of.

I get the joke: Randy isn't supposed to be funny. I mean, he's a comedian with a DJ, for Christ's sake. His non-hilarity is what's funny. But it's not. It's not funny at all, even in a not-supposed-to-be-funny way. And yet, based upon the response to this 15 or so minutes of footage about as funny as brain surgery, Apatow thinks Randy would be a good subject for a movie.

Ya know, Lorne Michaels has been doing this exact same thing for 20 years, turning sketches into full-length features, and everyone thinks he's an idiot. Judd Apatow wants to do the same thing with material that's not as funny as any given sketch of Mary Katherine Gallagher, and people thinks it's a brilliant idea. Add to that the fact that Randy is played by a douchebag who
can't tell the difference between a standard movie screen and one that's three stories tall, and I think you have the making of a movie that will replace Walk Hard as the biggest turd in Apatow's filmography.

But...what do I know. I'm sure it will be hilaaaaaaaarius.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What I'm Reading

A couple of months back, I mentioned that I was so soured on reading that I was watching whatever I could find on TV. Now, we've reeeeally reached the dog days of TV, the point between the end of the summer shows and the start of the fall shows. So, I've fallen back on books. And I've managed to knock down quite a few so far (but nowhere near my record of 13 books during the three months of summer).

Here's a couple of things you can read during the waning summer months:

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
I realize that this won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, but it's really a slog. Admittedly, I'm only about halfway through, but, fuck, this is a tough read; it makes Crime and Punishment seem like an easy beach read. There's a movie version of this coming out in the fall, and there's also a number of ripoff versions (like Book of Eli and Carriers) coming out as well. What the ripoffs seem to get is that just having people wander around in a post-apocalyptic world is boring, and that adding action scenes considerably livens up the proceedings. I wish McCarthy had realized that before he wrote this. To quote Homer Simpson: "That's boring. You're boring everybody! QUIT BORING EVERYONE!!"

Rollie's Follies by Rollie Fingers
A book of anecdotes from baseball Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers. This is really an enjoyable read, as, unlike most books written by sports figures, it has almost nothing to do with Rollie Fingers. It's just Rollie riffing on a bunch of obscure facts and figures from the history of baseball. It's an interesting and easily-digestible read; I read it in six days, entirely on the toilet.

Clint Eastwood: A Biography by Richard Schickel
The definitive Eastwood biography from an admitted Eastwood fan. It's a must-read for Eastwood fans, as it goes into great detail in all aspects of Eastwood's life, particularly in the making of all his films. And full cooperation by Eastwood helps greatly. Mind you, this book only covers Eastwood's life through Bridges of Madison County, but, hell, covering the first 40 years of a guy's career is plenty.

Road Dogs by Elmore Leonard
Even at 83, Elmore Leonard still cranks out a book a year. And, even at 83, he makes the tough guy dialogue that Quentin Tarantino tries to oh-so-unconvincingly emulate seem effortless. I hope he writes until he's 100, because it'll be a great blow to literature once he's done.

Make Love! The Bruce Campbell Way by Bruce Campbell
Bruce Campbell's tell-all of the making of the Mike Nichols' film Let's Make Love. This book would be a scandal-maker on the level of You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again...if only a single word of it were true. Campbell has completely fabricated the movie, the making, even his own prima donna behavior. He's actually a pretty good writer, coming up with such a detailed and interesting story; it makes you wonder if he hasn't wasted his career playing second-banana to Sam Raimi.

But, after having read all of these great pieces of literature, the best thing I've read so far this summer was a bumper sticker that read, "Republicans for Voldemort."

That's some funny shit.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Eloquence Not A Hall Of Fame Criterion

If you weren't lucky enough to be able to go to Cooperstown for this weekend's Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony, chances are you missed Rickey Henderson's semi-literate induction speech. Here's an entertaining excerpt:



It's a good thing that Henderson's bona fides as the best lead-off hitter in the history of baseball is enough to get him into the Hall of Fame, because his inability to speak the English language certainly wouldn't put him in.

The story of John Olerud's batting helmet gains more credibility every time I watch this.

BTW, The Hall of Very Good has been Hall of Fame-crazy the past week, so check 'em out if you're a Hallophile.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Rock Of Ages


In my quest to see bands that I missed in their heyday 20 years ago, I went to a Def Leppard concert this weekend. Poison, another first, and Cheap Trick, whom I'd seen twice before, opened.

It was nice to see all these bands who have been around 20-30 years out there with their original lineups, still playing together after all these years. (Well, that's not entirely true in the case of Def Leppard, but Steve Clark's death precludes him from touring, so that's all right.) And it's actually a bit of an oddity for them to do so, because there are a lot of big-name bands out there from the '70s and '80s who aren't touring in their original iterations. Journey is without the services of long-time vocalist Steve Perry. Foreigner is basically Mick Jones and a bunch of guys he picked up along the way. Styx makes due by not playing the homo songs that Dennis DeYoung wrote before they kicked him out of the band. Dokken has been a revolving door of guitarists since George Lynch left. Ozzy Osbourne isn't on speaking terms with the original Blizzard of Ozz band. Even Van Halen hasn't toured with its original lineup for 25 years. The fact that Cheap Trick and Poison are still playing with their original lineups says a lot about these bands. And I'm willing to grant an "original lineup" exception to Def Leppard, since "new guy" Viv Campbell has been with the band for 17 years. (Much like how Brian Johnson is the "new guy" in AC/DC, even though he's been with the band for nearly as many years as Bonn Scott lived.)

The funny thing about these bands is that they outlived the thing that destroyed them. When Nevermind came out in '91, the music world changed, and all of the hard rock and glam metal bands that had dominated the previous decade just fell off the planet. Suddenly, alternative rock was the big thing. (I've always been been bothered by the connotation of "alternative" rock, because, when an "alternative" band is more popular than its "mainstream" counterparts, exactly what is it alternative to?) But, 15 years later, of all the big-name bands that dominated the '90s, only two still exist: Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots (who just got back together after a decade-long hiatus). Everyone else faded to black. (I don't include Alice in Chains here, even though they're giving it a try with a new lead singer, as, truth be told, they're a heavy metal band who just happened to have the right sound at the right time and were lucky enough to get lumped in with the rest of the grunge ilk.)

The fact that people actually still go to see Poison and Def Leppard tells me that these bands never ceased being popular; they were merely waiting for the "alternative" thing to die down. As bands that now make most of their money from touring, I'd say they're more popular now than the bands that usurped them in the '90s. I saw Soundgarden, at the height of their popularity, at the same arena back in '94, and there were not as many people at that show as there were at this Def Leppard show. And I'm betting that if Soundgarden DID get back together, they wouldn't pack as many in.

I hate to say it, as much as I hate the '80s, I'm starting to appreciate some of those bands more and more. I know: it's a scary thought, but they're starting to make the bands of the '90s seem like a bad joke.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Flying To St. Maarten Might Be A Bad Idea

During one of the random clickathons that comprises my usual internet sessions, I came across this video of a KLM flight landing at the airport on the Caribbean island nation of St. Maarten (as opposed to St. Martin, which is the other end of the island):



After seeing this video, I have two words to say about traveling to the Dutch Antilles:

FUCK. THAT.

I know that the Caribbean is a popular tourist attraction and that St. Maarten is probably a beautiful place. And I know a lot of people who have traveled to the various islands and loved it, but if there's a possibility that my plane is going to hit the runway with a car wrapped around its landing gear, I think I'll pass.

Monday, July 13, 2009

What I'm Listening To


Chickenfoot - Chickenfoot (2009)
What do you do when the band that was at its most creative while you were the frontman decides to go on tour with their original clown of a lead singer? Why, you take their bass player and start your own version of the band, which is exactly what Sammy Hagar has done with Chickenfoot. It's pretty much Van Halen, ver. 2.5, as it features the non-Van Halen half of the second iteration of Van Halen, as well as Chad Smith, the Will Ferrell-lookalike drummer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and guitar genius Joe Satriani. When I pressed play on this record, I was disappointed with the first track, as it's a pretty bad song, and Sammy's voice just wasn't sounding right, and the guitar work was fairly pedestrian, and it's just not good. I was so set to be disappointed with the rest of the record. But on the second track, Sammy starts to sound like Sammy again, and the Michael Anthony backing vocals kick in, and Joe starts to shred a little, and suddenly I'm listening to the best Van Halen-less Van Halen record ever. The key to this whole venture is Satriani. Like most shred guitarists who came up in the '80s, Satriani's style is heavily informed by Eddie Van Halen's. But, unlike a lot of those same guitarists, Satriani has actually gotten better than Van Halen. And, while Eddie is still working on those tired licks from a body of work that stops 10 years ago, Satriani is still writing music and still getting better. Eddie needs to realize that the two-handed tapping, the dive bombs, the staccato harmonics: all that was revolutionary 25 years ago, but eight year old kids can play that shit now. And guys like Satriani and his assorted disciples have all passed him by. The old Van Halen is dead; long live the New Halen!

Daughtry - Leave This Town (2009)
To paraphrase a Herman's Hermits song: "Second verse, same as the first." It's nice to see that Daughtry appears to be an actual band that writes its own songs, and not just a bunch of studio musicians with a Svengali like Max Martin doing all the hard work. Good for them. Aaaaaaaand I'm somewhat ashamed to admit I like this album.

Assorted Michael Jackson cuts
Because everyone in the world has busted out Thriller in the past two weeks and rediscovered why it's the best-selling album of all time. Although, on retrospect, I will say that Eddie Van Halen's solo in "Beat It" is one of the most slapdash pieces of shit I've ever heard. I'd say it was pieced together with Pro Tools, but that didn't exist back then, so it actually IS that shitty; talk about phoning it in.

Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath & Paranoid (both 1970)
Even though no one in the band has died (that I know of), I felt the urge to bust out the old Black Sabbath records. Nothing new to report here, as both these albums are older than I am, except that, for being a crusty British white guy, Bill Ward was a pretty funky drummer.

Boston - Boston (1976)
Sometimes, I get going on the crackpipe and decide to listen to something I had really never considered listening to. This week, it was Boston's debut album. This is one of the few albums I can think of that every man, woman, and child has heard every cut off of. (Thriller, oddly enough, is another.) And while, in the '90s, I would have considered this album "gay," it's really not that bad; it's aged much better than a lot of the music from the '90s. Hell, if it's good enough for Kurt Cobain to steal the riff for "Smells Like Teen Spirit" from, then it's good enough for me.

Oasis - (What's the Story) Morning Glory? (1995)
Even though they never got as big in the States as they did in the U.K., Oasis is still a pretty good band, despite the obvious Beatles comparisons. And this album is their most-consitently entertaining.

The History of Howard Stern
Sirius has been airing this while Stern has been on vacation. It's great to hear all the old stuff that not only made Stern into the monumental figure he is now, but wrote the playbook for every radio host from there on out. The work of true genius.

If I listen to anything else listenalbe, I'll let you know.