Classic Adult Swim from the late ’90’s
(those poor cows)
which leads to the non-Adult Swim Aquaman: The Music Video
I think I’m developing an unhealthy appreciation for this guy (being Aquaman).
Classic Adult Swim from the late ’90’s
Went for an ultrasound to get the ganglicistumor thing on the back of my hand sonically scoped out. I did a little pre-ultrasound last night and ran the record player needle over it, but I got no results save some noises that’d make Aphex Twin cringe.
The ultrasound guy was heavyset fellow with a thick Packistani accent. “Where does…” he said, not finishing his first thought, “what does hurt?”
I held up my hand, pointy to the lumpy bit that rests between my index finger tendon and a protruding, greenish vein.
“Ah kay. No. Follow me then.” He was going to ask me to strip down and put on a gown, but thought the better of it.
He pointed me to the examination table, and moved the paper wrap to give me a “fresh” place to sit. He had me show him again where the problem was, and I held out my hand.
“This?” he said, playing with it.
“Ahmmm.” He continued playing with it for a few seconds, before pressing a few buttons on his console, shutting down the lights and lubing up his scanner.
He ran the scanner across the back of my hand for about 15 minutes, not really sure what he was looking for. He said he couldn’t distinguish between the lump and a vein, but he kept at it, before stopping and printing off a roll of sonogram pictures.
He pointed some things out to me but said, “There’s no blood vessels to it, so it’s not a tumor. Probably cist. But, this, this didn’t show anything much.”
Weee. Tax dollars at work. I’m off to a hand specialist next.
Some people often have these kinds of trivial knowledge ready in the head, capable of being pulled out on a moments notice. I’m almost ashamed to admit that I don’t think I’ve ever done a list like this, but now is the time, just because, well, it’s time:
geekent’s 10 favourite superheroes
Preamble: Let it be known that these five I’m not necessarily 100% committed to, meaning that I most likely do not have every appearance of the character, nor do I strive to, and that in as much as I like the character I probably like the design of the character equally, and maybe in one or two instances I’m just a fan of their powers. I decided to keep it to superheroes and ignore the mass of supporting or non-genre characters out there, as well, not all superheroes are comic book-derived. This list is tentative and subject to change.
The top five:
all images from the way cool Barney’s Micro Heroes
1) Blue Beetle:
The new Blue Beetle, Jaime Reyes, looks very cool, and I get a gleeful little charge every time he uses his powers in the new comics but he still doesn’t replace Ted Kord: scientist, adventurer, goofball, and superhero. Ted met an unfortunate end (of a bullet) and it broke my heart like it broke his brain. His time in the Justice League (”Extreme Justice” not withstanding) is the stuff perhaps not of legend, but of sheer character refinement. Growing up reading Blue Beetle and Booster Gold’s madcap adventures monthly in the Giffen/DeMattis Justice League was like visiting family, and while Booster always seemed like the kind of uncle who hated kids, Beetle was the kind of uncle who’d take you to the fair and buy you ice cream, bear claws, cotton candy, candy apples, fudge, french fries and all the other stuff your folks don’t want you to have (Ted wound up having a weight problem).
Though the legacy of the Blue Beetle may not be as time-honoured as the Flash, even Dan Garrett and Jaime have a warm place in my heart, just for holding the moniker (and looking cool doing it too).
2) The Flash
Though I may adore Blue Beetle most of all, if there was ever a superhero I wanted to be it would be the Flash. To move at super speed with one’s own body is, for me, the ultimate superpower. Barry Allen was always fun to read, especially when Carmine Infantino drew him and his adventures took him to a future society, but when Wally West, once Kid Flash, became the Flash, suddenly there was meat to the character. Wally was womanizing, arrogant, and kind of a prat, but you couldn’t help but feel for him as he strived to crawl out from under his Uncle Barry’s shadow. Five years into Wally’s run (ahem) as the Flash, Mark Waid scribed his character defining stories, showing Wally’s journey into manhood, and his confidence in being the fastest man alive. It was on of the most natural character progressions in the history of comics, never feeling forced, and helping redefine a character for a new generation. Recently, Wally’s gone missing, and his protege (and Barry’s grandson) Bart Allen has taken the the moniker, in a conceptually-interesting-but-poorly-written new Flash series.
The Flash live-action tv show (1990-91) is also a personal favourite, and the characterization of Wally on the Justice League Unlimited cartoon is fantastic.
People have said that it’s been decades since an iconic new character has emerged from comics. Well, time always tells what will last and what won’t, but I’m confident in saying Hellboy is the latest comic book icon. A demon brought to earth as a child, raised by the government, and now a Paranormal investigator, Hellboy is one of the coolest looking and acting characters in the funnybook game and has been since day one. Created by Mike Mignola, there’s an aesthetic that is purely derived from Mignola’s shadow-heavy style which is partly the attraction, but obviously not the only thing the character has going for him. Guillermo Del Toro’s kickass 2004 Hellboy film spun the character a little differently, and was limited to the physical dimension in bringing the visual of the character (as played note-perfect by Ron Perlman) to life, and yet it was utter Hellboy through and through. A new cartoon series is on the go, and a sequel film is in the works, and the Hellboy/BPRD comics still read and run strong.
4) Space Ghost
Designed by the late, great Alex Toth, our man Tad is one of the most perfect looking superheroes ever. I’m too young to remember the original SG cartoons, and I have a vague recollection of the new Hanna-Barbera adventures from the early 80’s, but it was Cartoon Network’s brilliant Space Ghost: Coast To Coast series where I became totally obsessed with the character. As far as madcap comedy goes, the show, in which SG is a bumbling, near-idiotic talk show host interviewing B-grade (and lower) celebrities, is tops, but at the same time there’s a pastiche of cool retained to the character that says he can surpass the tomfoolery should he wish. Joe Kelly wrote a fantastic SG mini-series for DC in 2004 which proved exactly that (and that book was one of the most exciting reads of my life).
5) Ambush Bug
Ambush Bug’s various appearances around the DC Universe in the mid-1980s were most likely my first exposure to meta-fiction, and this character is as responsable for shaping my sense of humour as Monty Python and Kids In The Hall. Here was a character who seemed well aware of his place in the universe and his status as a comic book character, and yet often chose to ignore that fact. I can’t really describe Ambush Bug as a character, since he seems to brings and entourage of chaos wherever he goes. Reality and sanity seem to warp around him, which isn’t to say that’s his power (his power is merely teleportation), but rather that’s the surreality in which he lives, sometimes consciously and sometimes oblivious. His sidekick, Cheeks, is a stuffed doll, and his chief nemesis is an alien sock named Argh-yle (or, at times, famed editor Julius Schwartz). The Bug is rarely used around the DCU, but whenever he “pop”s up, it’s an occasion for rejoicing.
The bottom five:
6) He-Man - I loved He-Man as a child, probably more than I loved my family. That’s not the case today, but the bonds of my affection still remain. I’d love to get my hands on the Masters of the Universe property and grow Prince Adam and his friends up.
7) Mr. T - Not a superhero in the traditional sense, but the man remains my real-life hero, and I speak in both earnestness and in irony. I truly honour that man.
8) Firestorm - His powers are just so cool, and his origins are nifty, and he’s been shifted and changed a lot in his 20+ years, but each time he’s fresh and new and a lot of fun. Plus red and yellow always make a wicked costume.
9) The Thing - mainly stemming from my odd fascination with the Marvel Two-In-One series in which the Thing would team up with (mostly) obscure characters from the Marvel Universe. I like the Thing quite a bit for his appearance, his rough-and-tumble on the outside/soft on the inside attitude, and his catch phrase (”It’s clobberin’ time”)
10) Jamie Madrox: The Multiple Man - Madrox is a character who’s really only been developed and written by one person: Peter David. While I liked Madrox quite a bit as a member of X-Factor in the 1990s, it’s not until the recent noirish Madrox mini-series and the new ongoing X-Factor that I can take Jamie as a favourite. What David has done with the character, his abilities and his environment has made for some of the best storytelling in the past year.
Aquaman - I like his funky orange-scales tunic, plus he’s got this weird retro-funkyness to him.
Captain Atom - Always looks cool, and flippin powerful. Plus, for once, an actual military captain.
The Fly - The Red Circle/Archie comics character but even better the !mpact comics boy-in-a-man’s-body version
G’nort - The retarded dog Green Lantern. Something wholly endearing about him.
Guy Gardner - From contentious a-hole Green Lantern to Warrior (and apparently back again), the man you loved to hate.
Martian Manhunter - he was one of my top tens for a long time, but since the Justice League Unlimited/JLA he’s gotten pretty boring and underdeveloped (and he lost his sense of humour, which sucks).
Metamorpho - Ugly as sin, and yet still looks cool. Blue blazes!
Moon Knight - Mainly because my mother tore up a copy of his book during my childhood and it’s always stuck with me.
Nightcrawler - One word: “BAMF”. Best sound effect ever.
Praxis - A totally obscure character in the DC pantheon whom everyone seems to have forgotten about.
ROM: The SpaceKnight - what a loser, but I loved him as a kid… a lot
The Question - Sometimes the bestest character ever. His Justice League Unlimited appearances were great as was last year’s mini-series.
She-Hulk - She’s like the Ambush Bug of the Marvel Universe, only a little more straight laced. And hot.
Static - The Milestone universe is full of crazy cool characters, Static is just the most prominent and the best Spider-Man analogue since the original (I actually like Static better).
Vixen - I’ve always found her appealing, but her Justice League Unlimited appearances have almost thrust her into my top ten. She’s amazing, and I think Brad Meltzer is going to do good things with her in his new Justice League of America.
Went to the clinic today to have a lump on the back of my hand checked out. I first noticed said lump on Thursday while chatting with some coworkers. I wasn’t in the midst of saying “I know xxx like the back of my han… hey! what’s that” (but it’d be funny if I did) but my friend was in mid-speech when I said “What the hell is that!” She stopped cold and said, “what’s wrong” and I showed her the back of my hand and said “Look”. Along the tendon from my left index finger (but not directly on) there’s a cylindrical mass that doesn’t hurt, is kind of soft and moves around somewhat loosely (I was playing with it, showing my coworker, which caused her to completely girlify and say “Ew, stop it”). It acutally looks like the oft-bulging veins, only it’s not that greeny colour that my veins have.
I thought at first that it might be a herniated tendon from the underside of my hand, but really I don’t even know if that’s possible or what it means. I showed another coworker and she asked me if I banged my hand recently. I couldn’t remember and, besides, this wasn’t bruised. I decided to let it be for a few days (over the camping weekend) and wait and see if it was still there on Tuesday.
And seeing as today is Tuesday, and it’s still there, no larger, no smaller, I went into my local clinic to have it looked at.
“Huh,” said my doctor.
“Does it hurt?”
“Huh,” he said again…
“Might be a ganglion…huh. (Pause) Maybe it’s a cist…”
He started playing with my index finger.
“Well, it’s not attached to the tendon… and it’s cylindrical… ganglions are usually round…and on your wrist. (Pause) Huh.”
I kept laughing. He sounded so puzzled.
“It’s not like a tumor or anything. Are you worried about it?”
“Not really, it hasn’t morphed into anything nasty in the past few days, nor has it gone down at all, so I just figured I’d get it checked out.”
“Huh,” he said, poking at it again. “Well, let’s send you to the hand specialist. Oh, and let’s do an ultrasound.”
Perhaps overkill, but I rarely get to entertain the Ontario medical system (not like I don’t have friends and family who more than compensate), so I’m looking forward to resolving the “M dorsum L hand (?ganglion)” mystery.
Ahh, now officially 24 hours removed from the 4-day/3-night camping/canoeing excursion, and, well, it was pretty good. I won’t say it was outright fantastic, because I’m still not *that* big a trumpeter of the out-of-doors yet, but certainly this was one of the better fresh air experiences of my meager 30 years. I realize now that my detestation(!) of camping doesn’t actually have anything to do with camping itself, but rather the bug situation and their attraction towards me. Apparently some people emit higher carbon dioxide levels than others and that attracts the skitters and stabby-bitey things, and I’m lucky enough to be one of those people. Sure, for this time of year the skeeters were keeping out of our way until sundown but once the sky started to darken they were all over me like Homeland Security on an Arab with a pacemaker (huh?).
Anyway, Massasauga Provincial Park provided us with a three hour canoe trip out to our site, which honestly I was surprised I could do, having such a lower endurance as a result of only ever really biking or running for 20 to 30 minutes at a time. We had a nice day for doing the jaunt in, though, with overcast skies and a warm but gentle wind, we didn’t overheat or bake, and we weren’t being blown around. We did get lost though, but a minor diversion come to think of it.
My first night out I was a little freaked. Settling into nothingness always tends to do that to me. Abandoning technology and information resources for trees and tents is a hard adjustment to make, considering I spend every damn day in front of a computer. Saturday was unexpectedly beautiful, with a mostly cloudless sky for much of the morning and afternoon, but early weather forecast had called for rain so we had appropriately tarped up our site just in case. We took a trip out on the water, but the winds often forced our canoes into a dead stop, so we scuttled behind some islands and found a nice perch for a swim. It doused ups with rain Saturday evening, just after dinner, but by then we were protected and really, all was all right.
Sunday, we faced an overcast morning, but it cleared up by noon, and we went for a swim from the campsite which was bliss (although I did accidentally bake my shoulders). We got a roaring fire going for the evening which kept us entertained under a clear and starry night. By monday we were all unexpectedly up early, and we packed up and were on the water by 9:30. It was a vibrant, sunny day… beautiful weather, but not exactly perfect for being out on the exposed, open water. Our paddle back to site was much easier upon return, with nary a wind and little lake traffic, plus some muscles and joints already prepped for the journey.
While it’s not the kind of thing I want to do every weekend, a few times a year would certainly agree with me. It helps to have people who know how to pack and prepare for these kinds of trips, and being capable of letting go of your average comforts - from the internet to flush toilets - is key. In many ways though, I appreciate the effort aspect more than the settling aspect of these kinds of trips. I like the canoe ride out, I like the setting up, but it’s the calming down, sitting by a fire that I have a hard time with… perhaps it was just the bugs dive bomb attacking me that leads me to that conclusion.
I’m four days into a new beard, which I’ve dubbed “the camping beard”, for, you see, I’m going camping this weekend for four days. Doing the math, I’ll have an 8-day beard growth (I CAN ADD!) and depending on how I feel about it, I may hang onto it for a few weeks more. It was a hit last time (as documented in the hair category to some length previously) for the most part, and since summer seems to be winding down (blessedly…I like sweaterweather better, so much so that I conjoin the two words into one big one), it’s not too hot to have one.
As for camping, yeah, it’s my first foray into “real” camping, meaning actually abandoning the car and its various stores of equipment and clothing and supplies and putting everything into packs. I’ve done some camping in the past, mind you, but it was always car camping or some other form of not-quite-rustic. The last dash was in 2003 where I did a slew of city-park camping or drive-site camping… each time setting up the tent beside or near the car and showers and such were always available. When I was younger, dad would drag me out (yes, drag, as a sullen, housebound teen I didn’t want anything to do with the out-of-doors) fishing with him into the wilds of Northwestern Ontario, but we would still wind up sleeping in a camper mounted on the back of the truck (these days my dad even has like satellite and dvd hooked up in there), so hardly “leaving it all behind”.
But tomorrow, in the midst of some scattered showers, we’ll be canoeing into a campsite, leaving much of the technological world behind, sleeping on stones and cooking with fire. I’m surprisingly looking forward to it. I’ve had to gear up a bit, mainly a new rain jacket and some footwear meant for surfaces that curve more than a sidewalk curb, so I’ve taken a hit, but it’s all useful stuff which can be appropriated into other wearable situations (for biking or hiking for example). Thankfully the special lady and her friends have been doing the camping thing for some time and have a vast collections of camping gear, wear, and utilities, as well as knowledge… I, meanwhile, have watched a tonne of Survivorman. Oh, Les Stroud, I miss you.
d: David R. Ellis
w: John Heffernan & Sebastian Gutierrez
Internet hype, blah blah blah. By now you know the story behind Snakes On A Plane, and the internet frenzy resulting in a cult phenomenon long before the film was even released. If you don’t know it, you can find the story anywhere, about how the film has been relying on it’s massive net presence and pop-culture status to drive home ticket sales. But really, the idea of the film is what spurred the masses on and not actually the film itself. In the context of the phenomena it has become, the film is irrelevant. Really, it is. The whole concept of Snakes on a Plane is much better without ther being a film to back it up.
Made knowingly as a B-grade movie, it’s gotten an A-grade reputation through its notoriety (not to mention its star, Samuel L. Jackson), and that only serves to hurt it, because there’s little here that makes a decent, even competent movie. Though director Ellis gets that it’s supposed to be in the vein of a cheap shock-thriller, what he doesn’t seem to get is the parody of it. The original director was slated to be Ronny Yu, who brilliantly satirized slasher-horror films with Bride Of Chucky, and I could see him pulling off a much sharper, goofier film, but Ellis is better known as a stunt coordinator than a director and focuses more on technicals than the overall execution.
There’s no point describing the plot (there’s snakes on a plane, they kill people in very unrealistic ways), but it’s just to say that the movie is completely over-the-top but doesn’t get exactly how over-the-top it should be. Like classic B-movies, it tries to be a real movie, and fails miserably, but it shouldn’t even be trying. With this kind of backing, there should be a cognizance amongst all players - from the director on down to the lighting guy - about exactly how bad this movie should be. They shouldn’t ignore it and try to make an actual movie, they should have studied really bad movies and emulated them. I could see Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez understanding how to make an enjoyably watchable film out of this (combining the Airport series of disaster films with 70’s creature features like Orca or Pirhana), but as it is, it’s just kind of a stupid mess of bad suspense and cheap-but-not-cheap-enough laughs..
I rented some DVDs at the end of June, and had pretty much forgotten all about reviewing them. I did in fact rent four discs (well, five actually, including the last Lone Wolf and Cub disc… perhaps I should review the whole series?) and can only remember three oh the four… so that’s all you get.
written by Phil Hay & Matt Manfredi and directed by Karyn Kusama. Ah, yes, Æon Flux, the movie I rented in order to do the prequel comic book review (for the record, prequel comic much better than the film). Though the film has some genuinely creative and interesting science fiction qualities, and stellar production and constume design, it’s failure lies in utterly slug-like pacing. It’s, quite frankly, boring. Pretty as hell, but boring. If the film could be condensed into 45 minutes it’d be far more interesting, but as it is, it betrays Peter Chung’s breakneck paced cartoon series which was its inspiration. The acting is fine, but the action, while competently performed, is lacking any sort of excitement or momentum. While it does have more of a classic 1970’s/early ’80s sci-fi “message” movie, it’s more along the lines of Zardoz than Blade Runner.
Read My Lips
writte by Jacques Audiard and Tonino Benacquista, directed by Audiard. Emmanuelle Devos plays Carla, a virtually deaf woman working in a support/administrative capacity at a fast-paced architectural development firm. Her disability is lessened by a pari of hearing aides, however her differences, despite her capabilities, have rendered her an outcast, where she’s either trod on and ignored. She’s given the go ahead to hire someone to support her, and her first applicant is Paul (Vincent Cassell, looking greasy as ever), a recently released ex-con. Carla takes pity on him and hires him, eventually doing much more for him than she should, never realizing exactly how dangerous or connected he is. When she asks a less than seemly favour of him, he asks one of her in return that first utilizes her talents as a lip reader, and then takes on the shape of a partnership. The two find themselves in a plot to steal a large sum of money from a small-time crimelord, which Carla agrees to go along with as much for the thrill as her attraction to Paul. It’s well executed, well paced and suspenseful, but at the same time it does have the feeling of being too long for its concept. The relationship between Paul and Carla develops in a natural, if distasteful, manner, and Devos and Cassell keep their roles restrained, avoiding melodrama. It’s gritty feel, washed in greys, greens and blues, keeps the film in a dour tone that never seems to lift above foreboding. More a drama with moments that recall caper films or the current spate of British gangsterism.
Shall We Dance?
written and directed Masayuki Suo. Watching the original Japanese version of Shall We Dance? makes me curious as to how the American remake, starring Richard Gere and J-Lo, worked out. The lynchpin of the film is the fact that in Japanese society public displays of affection are rather taboo, or worthy of snickering at. Thus, dancing, with its intimate, familiar contact, has never really been that socially acceptable, nevermind for a respectable white-collar worker. Yet, Sugiyama, an overworked accountant, finds himself drawn to a dance school where Mai, instructor and one-time ballroom competitor, longingly looks out the window across from his train platform. He joins the class, where a cast of eccentric characters include the older, more abbrasive teacher, the overweight and nerdy student, the tiny and annoying keener, and a flamboyant coworker of Sugi. Through a lifetime of repression, Sugi learns to loosen up, and he finds to his surprise that he is an adept prodigy, his hesitation the only thing holding him back. His hesitation only serves to grow into embarassment when his wife finds out, an affair likely more acceptable than dance. The film carries Sugi’s story as primary, and Mai’s story is given a lot of weight but really isn’t explored deeply enough to warrant it. The other characters each have their own arc, and are the more entertaining and satisfactory elements of the movie. Confusing itself between romantic and comedy but never striving for the former and staying incredibly restrained in the latter, Shall We Dance? is cute, a sure-fire crowdpleaser, but unfocussed. Much more enjoyable than any Richard Gere film, ever, but that’s probably not saying much.
Oh that imitatable accent. I present to you the fauxpanish greats:
Dad (The Brak Show)
“I like the spandex because it makes each behind muscle look like a glorious small television.”
Batmanuel (The Tick)
“Oh — yes, I thought I knew that scent! A soccer mommy! It’s my only weakness.”
Antonio de Ribera Garcia Azul Falcón (’Blue’ to his friends) (Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law)
“expensive and beautiful silk pantygarments… for everyone!”
Pepe (Muppets Tonight, and various films)
“You tell him, and I will smack you. I will smack you like a bad, bad donkey, okay!”
Nacho and Esqueleto (Nacho Libre)
Nacho: “Have you ever have you ever had feelings for a nun?”
Nacho: “So there’s this nun…”
Esqueleto: I hate orphans!
Nacho: Say it to my face!
Esqueleto: I hate all the orphans in the world!
Nacho: Come again?
Esqueleto: I HATE THEM!
Pedro (Napoleon Dynamite)
“They’re pretty good, except for one little problem. That little guy right there. He is nipple number five. A good dairy cow should have, like, four. “
I like to do full-on reviews for the big box movies I see, but I’ve been falling so far behind on everything lately that a handful of quickies is going to have to suffice.
Break out the chequebook and pay Grandma for the rubdown, let’s get this thing started!
written and directed by Neil Marshall. Marshall’s previous film was the surprisingly effective Scottish military werewolf film (yup it was a Scottish film, it was about the military, and it was about werewolves, and it was good) Dog Soldiers, so it’s not so surprising that his next effort would be just as successful. The movie kicks off with three adrenaline junkie friends on a whitewater rafting tour. The character dynamics between the three women are set up immediately, but subtly as well, exacerbating further as the film progresses. Tragedy strikes one of the women and one year later they’re in America, joined by three more friends (or, in the horror film genre, “death fodder”) on a speulunking expedition. Things go from adventuresome to intense as the cave exploration goes wrong, their path blocked, and injuries sustained. And then there’s something moving in the darkness… Against an impossibly agile enemy, slowed down by their wounded, and horribly lost in a dangerous cave system, the odds are stacked against them, and as much as their scenario is their enemy, personalities clashing could be even more lethal. Surprisingly restrained until the final act, the Descent turns from an unsettling horror, into a taut thriller, and see-saws back and forth throughout it’s ride. The finale turns a bit too much into a Ripley/Aliens scenario, and loses much once its creatures become too exposed, but then again there’s something about a primally angry heroine bashing monster skulls that’s wildly entertaing, moreso than your usual action hero. Marshall fills his movie with some incredible visuals, and the lighting is really the star here. Whether it’s flare-lit caves, or climbing helmet torches, or cracked glow-sticks, or night-vision digital camcorders, or a burning flame, Marshall finds a host of creative ways to see and not see in the dark. It’s not quite as effective as Pitch Black, but it gets close in that department. Some great jumps, a good shiver factor, and a not-too-overwhelming collection of grue gags… a nice departure from lame-o aimed-at-teen American horror flicks.
written and directed by Michael Mann. It’s frickin’ Michael Mann… the brainchild behind the original Vice series, how could this go wrong? Two words, Colin Ferrell. The guy eats up his scenes to the point of distraction. At times it seems like he’s trying too hard, others like he doesn’t care. There’s not a natural movement made, and sadly the film gives his character, Sonny Crockett, too much of the focus, including a wildly improbable love story with Li Gong, one of the upper ranks of a criminal cartel. More appealing is Jamie Foxx’s Ricardo Tubbs, but at the same time both are undercover as other people and so wrapped up in their work that any subtlety to their characters are dormant or non-existant. Mann directs Vice with heft, an abundance of shadows, grainy digital cameras, naturally nasty Florida weather and shaky handheld motion put you in the thick of Crockett and Tubbs’ pulse-pounding career choice. The action scenes are, bluntly, intense. Possibly the most captivating but also brutal shootouts put to celluloid that would make John Woo sit up in attention. Overall, the film does manage to capture the ideals of the Miami Vice series without trapping itself in capturing the pastiche of it. Pastels and neon are out, as is the cornball, Phil Collins heavy soundtrack (sadly missing though is the renouned Jan Hammer Miami Vice theme or some recreation thereof). It is certainly well made, and it’s definitely not dull, but it’s also not enjoyable, and it doesn’t feel much larger than a 2-hour HBO pilot.
written and directed by Kevin Smith. I went in expecting to be disappointed, especially considering Smith’s last dip into his dependable Smithverse well, Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back, was a pitiful retreading of past glories and fan appeasing in-jokes. I actually am one of few who found Jersey Girl funny and a nicer, more mature (hence, showing growth) film from Smith, and I was hoping he’d continue on with a new, less insider, nichey repetoir. Regardless, Clerks 2 has come, whether we asked for it or not, and it surprises in that it is an extention of Clerks, rather than a rehashing. Smith keeps the reunion small, with only Dante, Randall, Jay and Silent Bob returning from his Red Bank, New Jersey universe. As a one-time big Smith trumpeter, I’m happy to report he’s made a good film here. It’s not great, it’s not ground-breaking, and at times Smith goes too over-the-top (dance numbers), but like Clerks before, he keeps most of the gross out humour to a verbal/off-screen - rather than visual - level. Dante, Randall, Jay and Silent Bob, are actually quite different characters ten-years later, and not just in terms of their maturity level, but also in how they’re written. The influence of the short-lived but brilliant Clerks Animated Series (circa 2000) can be felt in how the characters interact, much more fast-paced and snappy, and also the humour is a bit more esoteric rather than spiked than it was in the original movie. Some great cameos by new and old Smith associates, as well as a great performance from Rosario Dawson, and Trever Fehrman as the nervous, repressed, geeky Elias steals his every scene. Not to be outdone, Jeff Anderson is brilliant as Randall (I know a guy just like him) and Brian O’Halloran as the everyman Dante has a thankless job of always being the voice of reason, and pretty much the only straight man in the film. Smith’s direction still goes off in all sorts of directions, but he shows that he’s able to make a clean and nicely cut film here. His writing leans and relies to heavily on the dick and fart jokes that built him his fanbase, and it’s that lack of barred holds which actually limits him from being a better filmmaker. Crude and embarassly entertaining, but dealing with the lost-in-their-30’s dilemma has never really been explored and he actually nails it.
A Scanner Darkly
written and directed by Richard Linklater. This is Linklater’s second fully rotoscoped film (that is, shot on film and then each frame is painted to provide surreal but realistic animation) based on the Philip K. Dick novel of the same name. The plot is near-futuristic, without ever stepping into hard sci-fi themes. Bob Arcter (a thankfully tolerable Keanu Reeves) is a police officer working undercover to bring down a what he thinks is a drug kingpin, at the same time, what he has to resolve is that he is that drug kingpin… or is he just another junkie? What is his reality? What could have been a highly complex questioning identity brainfuck like “Memento” actually finds a more straightforward path, as Arcter turns out to indeed be a junkie. There’s a message about the damaging effects of drugs, as well as a more subtle targeting of the hopeless and ever-dangerous entangling of corporate and government interests, and at times the futility of law enforcement. The script is deep but with hugely and surprisingly funny moments. Robert Downey Jr. owns every scene he’s in, with Woody Harrelson breathing heavy to keep up, and Keanu and Winona Ryder not even trying. Ryder is a particular sore spot in the film, bad enough that she makes Keanu look better than competent. America’s favourite klepto hasn’t been missed in my cinematic diet. But despite a few acting faults, the film is engrossing and visually ensnaring: at times beautiful, others completely surreal.
I’ve never actually seen someone literally jump for joy before… until now. My coworker is very happy that …whatever the hells she’s working on is working or fixed or whatever the problem was. Arms flailingin circles, legs bending at the knees… she jumped four, maybe five times… crazytown.
She was Star Sapphire, but also the Predator
Ever since Jeremy became my roommate, he’s had this weird but totally hysterical (ie. played for laughs) inferiority complex… at first he was afraid of being Chandler to my Joey, stating that I’d be bringing home ladies all the time and that he’d have to deal with necktie-on-the-door syndrome or something. Then he read Showcase Presents: Green Lantern which reprints in a 500 page tome a whack of the early adventures of the Silver Age Green Lantern and for some reason, I became Hal Jordan, and Rooms started calling himself Pieface, Hal Jordan/Green Lantern’s Eskimo sidekick with the politically-incorrect nickname, aka Thomas Kalmaku… and since then he’s called any girl I have a passing interest in “Carol Ferris”, who was Hal Jordan’s girlfriend, and his boss, and, at times his nemesis, the evil Star Sapphire (and later a gender-switched “The Predator”) which when you think about it is pretty messed up with so many subtexts that make my brain hurt.
Silver Aged comics are whacked.
But then, blue blazes, so is my roommate, but both in a good way.
And rooms, I rely on you for protection, with your new baton twirling skills and your adept Nerf gun-fu… you’re the star, not the sidekick…or perhaps we’re a team-up book, like Power Man and Iron Fist. Sweet Christmas!
Every now and again I get way too oversaturated with “NOW” and “TODAY” and “keeping up with the Jones’s” and I just want to ingest the familiar, revisit what I already know, or rediscover things I’ve mostly forgotten. It’s hard, when one is continually in the midset of reviewing new things or always trying to “get there first” but every so often I just tap myself out, get oversaturated in the modern and need to escape into somethings past. I consume so much, all the time, that it does get hard to stay on top of it all, and I often don’t allow myself the luxury, while consuming things for the first time, to really understand or enjoy what I’m consuming. I’m doing a little of that now, though… it’s often easier when you get to share it with someone to whom its new, but sometimes it’s just time to take a peek in the past.
Recently I revisited the live-action “The Tick” series, consuming it in an evening, and loving every minute. Patrick Warburton delivers each line with flawless comedic timing and intonation. I know many fans of the cartoon were disappointed with the show, but I was never a fan of the cartoon (was without cable when it first aired so I rarely watched it) and was able to appreciate the show without preconceptions. It’s responsible for one of my favourite lines ever… after the Tick pops a fortune cookie in his mouth, he chews once or twice before reaching in and pulling out the fortune, stating with the surprise of a small child, “A secret message, from my teeth!”
I also just wrapped up two nights of watching Chronicles of Riddick. I was one of very few who actually enjoyed the film the first time around, and a few years later I think I actually enjoy and appreciate it more. It’s influences include Marvel Comics, role playing games (of which Vin Diesel is a player), Shakespearian drama, Roman culture and a swipe at the Catholic conversion. It’s got pretty set designs, some really cool fight sequences, masterful lighting, some sharp digital effects, and one of the most badass characters ever in Riddick. Yup, there are one or two highly improbable (even by their own sordid sci-fi logic standards) sequences, and the aging of Jack into Kira seems to have spanned more than the five years the movie alots, but those digressions aside, it’s a frickin’ fun ride. It’s like a three or four part mini-series with a trio or quartet of 1/2 hour episodes that have been strung together in a movie… the “Chronicles” really gives this away, as it’s not just one story, but a whole handful of stories that make up the whole. It didn’t exactly tank at the box office, but I don’t think it made its money back either. With the numerous repackagings of Riddick, Pitch Black and the Peter Cheung “Dark Fury” cartoon, surely it’s broken even by this point, but it’s still not bankable enough for another follow-up methinks. Too bad though, Riddick, like Snake Plissken before him, deserves more adventures.
Camera Obscura/The Diableros
Thursday, July 06 @ Horseshoe
About five years ago I came across this site called epitonic which had legal mp3 downloads from hundreds of indie bands from all spectrums of sound. I first heard many artists who now hold fond spaces in my collection from that site (including Cex, Imperial Teen, Oneida, Clinic, Concentrik and many more) it was a pretty cool thing pre MP3-blog era, and the music I found sort of signifies that 2001/2002 period of time in the same way that my old cassettes of Brave New Waves signify 1994 - 1996.
That said, Camera Obscura was one of the bands I had caught onto then and a few of their tracks grace some of my homebrew Epitonic-derived mixed cds, but I guess I never really cared enough to hunt them down for no C.O. album has entered my collection, and four years later I’ve all but forgotten what they sounded like.
The Diableros, on the other hand, are fresh and new and a friend of mine had caught me onto them before the whole Pitchfork hyperbolie made them the next big Toronto act, which is immediately going to backfire on them in that NME effect. Anyway, I wanted to see them live, and this night, with Scotland’s Camera Obscura afforded me the opportunity to enjoy one and reassess the other.
The ‘leros kicked ass with a tight, intentionally fuzzy set. Lead singer Pete Carmichael’s strained and slightly-fragile (but definitely not emo) wail is raw but powerhouse ready. Like the album, each song in the live set has its own build-up, some slower than others but it’s always plodding start accelerating faster and faster until it hits the brick wall finale. During the set, the ‘leros drew a larger and larger crowd, which is something they should get used to as that whole ‘Pitchfork effect’ takes hold.
Camera Obscura, meanwhile, bored me. Their twee stylings, cute voices and nondescript lyrics started putting me to sleep. The band was jetlegged and were about as enthusiastic as I was. I left after a half-dozen songs, quite certain that I wasn’t missing anything special.
These Electric Lives w/ Modernboys Moderngirls and Clementine
Thurday, July 13 @ Horseshoe
Clementine are decent indie pop, but they fit into that “can’t really sing” Liz Phair cute-girl style (the cartoon Home Movies calls it “sing-talking”) that proliferated throughout the 1990’s. There’s nothing really wrong with it, as it made a few people a few dollars back in the day, but it’s just a little too fragile and dated and, sadly, generic.
Modernboys Moderngirls were a real surprise for me. Vocals are traded off and shared by frontspeople Akira Alemany and Aimee Mazzuca and they blend together magically. Alemany has a deeper rasp that explodes into a Mike Patton-esque growl, while Mazzuca is a merging of PJ Harvey and Tori Amos… more Tori in her vocal stylings and brilliantly PJ-esque in her live performance. The crowd was slightly under a hundred people at this stage, but Mazzuca wrapped herself in them like a warm blanket. The woman has presence, and Modernboys Moderngirls seep pep, bounce, aggression and sensuality. Their voices, their sound is so well crafted and honed that it betrays just how new a band they are.
These Electric Lives I have reviewed previously but this was a headlining gig at the Horseshoe, and these guys brought it all out. A sizeable crowd in attendance, they proved they can handle the additional attention in fact they bathe in it. Although I’ve been listening to their recorded material for a few months now (since last I saw them) I had forgotten exactly how tight and engaging they were. They play huge, and their electroclash post-punk pop stretched the Horseshoe at its seams. They’re going to be huge, and they’re going to be popular, but they can likely hold onto that indie cred Radiohead-style.
Wolf Parade w/Frog Eyes and Holy Fuck!
Saturday August 5 @ the Phoenix
I arrived late to the early show. I missed Frog Eyes entirely, and I only caught the last song of Holy Fuck!’s set (a danceable droning dirge which made me regret my tardiness). Wolf Parade hit the stage announcing that they had only an hour to perform before the “dance party” would start. With the time restrictions in place, the Parade wasted no time in getting started.
I remember first hearing Wolf Parade on New Music Canada in late 2004 and being pretty wowed by what I heard, but at the time, and for some time afterward, I couldn’t find any recorded material, and as I would draft and redraft my “to find” list, they were one name that I kept carrying over. A few months before their Sub Pop debut last year their homemade ep and the pre-release Sub Pop ep arrived on the market and I snapped them up and immediately trumpeted their praises, the hype machine just getting started at the same time. I was excited to see their notariety rise as that would imply they would be playing Toronto at some point… but an opening gig with Modest Mouse and I think a festival or two was about all they mustered, and I don’t think they did any solo or headlining gigs… until now.
So to say that I was disappointed is kind of an understatement. The Parade practically double-timed their way through half their set, dropping a 5-minute song like “Sons And Daughters of Hungry Ghosts” to barely 3-minute mark. Of their material I was familar with most of it was poorly rendered live, the quicker pacing really taking much of the magic from the tracks. Some new material was played out full strength, which, on the one hand was a great teaser for a new album, but on the other hand the change in pacing actually made the songs sound dull in comparison. They did a revamping of one of their bigger songs, but the underwhelmingness of the show overall has left little impression in my memory.
Because a few people have asked in the comments over the past few weeks and I havn’t really seen fit to respond:
To start the story, I moved to the Ronces with the girlfriend back in early 2004. The Queenwest apartment we were in before that was located at the junction of Lansdowne/Queen/Jameson and it was nice but flippin noisy and the upstairs neighbours were
kinda actual dicks. The Ronces is located on Roncesvalles Ave, and was the main floor and basement, the latter of which was newly finished as a den. The price was actually less than what we were paying on Queenwest, and with a backyard and plenty of storage space it seemed pretty ideal.
And it was. For a time.
The girlfriend worked from home, and things were generally fine. There was the odd intrusion of noise as the dude upstairs would practice his deejaying for a few hours, very loudly, on the occasional afternoon. And then demolition and construction of the condos across began, with the piledriving being the worst of it.
Early last summer, the next door neighbours had their second child. A delightful and beautiful baby girl. With all the noise across the street and their second child encroaching 5years of age they began to think about getting out of Toronto for safer/quieter pastures. They had talked to us at great length about taking over their house when they left, for an absurdly affordable rent + utilities, and really it was something to dream about. The house, they said, was to be their son’s inheritance, and so we’d be pretty much safe there for over a decade. Though they weren’t rushing out any time soon, they always made of point of mentioning that we should be prepared to move in at any time. It almost became a cruel joke, or at the very least a big tease.
At some point last summer the upstairs neighbours split up and he left while she tried holding down the place herself, but by the end of summer she was done and moved out too. The upstairs apartment was empty for a month, and the piledriving had finished and things were generally quiet around the Ronces. Then the new upstairs neighbours arrived… a single mother and her demonic four-year-old child. The kid would stomp around upstairs for literally hours on end. She would throw a temper tantrum every morning when it was time to leave, in the afternoon when she got home, and once again before bed (and obscenely late 9/9:30 pm) and a few in between for good measure. Yeah, it was torture. Not to mention that our neighbour began just taking over the yard, both front and back, digging things up and rearranging things to her liking. It was very invasive.
A month later October hit and the girlfriend and I were splitsville. I moved out for the remainder of the month and found a sub-let for November while posessions were sorted and she figured out where she was going to land. I spoke with the next-door neighbours once or twice in that month and they were sad about the split but almost more worried about who was going to rent out their house when they moved (having now decided upon the town up north they were going to move to). I took a tour through their house and said I was still interested in renting, but wasn’t really sure where I was going to be in the meantime. During November I had hunted for 1 bedrooms but I didn’t want a basement place and I really didn’t feel like moving in general, plus the temptation to suck up the full rent of the Ronces until the neighbours moved was tempting.
Brilliance hit, and I asked my friend Jeremy if he’d ever thought about moving into the city from his folk’s place in Woodbridge. “Hell’s yes” was his answer and suddenly I had a roommate, although he wouldn’t move in until January. So for two months I had the Ronces to myself and it was, well, a pain in the ass, especially the girl upstairs, dubbed “Little Miss Stomps-a-lot”. Some remedies were attempted over the two months to minimize the terror’s impact (carpeting and the like… I suggested bear traps or a little of the old Nancy Kerrigan knock-to-the-knees, but couldn’t find anyone willing to take out a 5-year-old) but still it persisted, with the usual ritual of tantrums. Oh, and in the month that I was away, they had terraformed the front lawn into what we’ve dubbed “The Temple of Doom”. Oh, and the basement flooded early January, but I’ve documented that already
So for the past 6 months or so Rooms (Jeremy’s nickname, derived from J-roomy) and I have been living the life of Joey and Chandler and the Ronces has been fairly good to us, aside from the barnyard upstairs and the inconveniences of smoking neighbours who leave the front door ajar all the time. The place is nice, but it’s really meant for a couple and as much as I usually don’t have a problem living in the basement, this summer of attempting sleeping with the dehumidifier running 24-7 has been a challenge and I’m getting tired of no light exposure. Not to mention the fact that there’s really no room to have guests… the upstairs common room, the way we have it configured, seats about 5 mostly comfortably and one or two more uncomfortably. We had a house guest back in July and realized our space wasn’t meant to accommodate more than two people for even short durations. This spawned thoughts of finding a larger place, a three bedroom perhaps, on the upper two floors of a house or over a storefront.
Then the next-door neighbours alerted me towards the end of July that their moving plans were likely delayed for another year and that they were now probably going to sell the house. Decision made, two month’s notice given and the apartment hunt began (at the same time we found out that the upstairs neighbours were moving out as well which almost made us reconsider). The place we’ve found is quite a bit bigger, has a lot more closet space (something the Ronces doesn’t have much of), centrally located (is it ever) and though we will have to do without the convenience of a back yard/barbecue we have a lot more entertaining and living space. Of course we’re paying for it, but it’ll be worth it.
Now we just need to come up with a clever name for the place.
Oh and chances are we’ll be hosting the GTA-Bloggers Holiday Party there as well, but Rooms and I need to discuss amongst ourselves, and we need to discuss with the landlord, and we need to get some input from the master of gtab parties so that we understand exactly what we’ll be getting ourselves into.
Holy crap… we got the place.
The place is awesome.
It’s in the center of the center of the universe. (In Canada, the “center of the universe” is Toronto… in the US, New York is the center of the universe… don’t ask me to explain how two centers of the universes can coexist in one dimension, alas, that’s how it is)
Not to jinx anything, because we still need to pay the deposit and sign the leasein the next day or two but…wooooo. The place is awesomely awesome (that’s like, double awesome), so we’re quite excited.
Livin’ the high life.
Okay, so I disappeared for a while. Moops.
No I’m not dead. Not even injured. A little sore, a little fatigued, but definitely in fine shape otherwise.
Life has its upsides and its downsides, and sometimes they seem like polar opposites, where one facet of life brings nothing but utter joy and happiness, while the other just pulls you down and sucks you in like the undertow. Needless to say, both bring with it a lot of tiring mental activity and in many cases physical as well, which leads to both brain drain and body drowsiness. I’m recovering fine though.
Things of note, which I’ll expand upon later:
* I’ve forgotten to write about Coroleanus at Stratford, as well as the gigs for Diableros/Camera Obscura and Modernboys Moderngirls/These Electric Lives. In quick: awesome; good/meh; surprisingly awesome/always solid
I’ll be doing a “Short Rounds” over on Ent.Etc. later this week for these.
* Recent viewings of A Scanner Darkly, Miami Vice and Clerks 2 all need reviewing. In brief: Ah!; uh…; and say whaaa?
* I saw Wolf Parade on Saturday. I missed the opening acts (Frog Eyes and Holy Fuck!) but I heard Frog Eyes were kind of gaunch and Holy Fuck!’s last song, which I did catch, was droneariffic. Will probably need to check them out again to be sure. The Parade will get reviewed, but, in slight: blah. No pictures.
* I’m slowly working my way through, now, a half dozen TV on DVD sets… some more long-term than others: Space: Above and Beyond; The Flash, Superboy, Adventures of Brisco County Jr., Angel season 2, and a few others. Reviews for Kids in the Hall v4 and Home Movies season 4 are pending as well. In vague: rock!; yeah; NO(nononono); holy frak; hehehehe; and weeeeee.
* Standup comedy albums by Frasier Young, Mike Birbiglia, Eugene Mirman, Patton Oswalt all have a place for assessment, but reviewing comedy is hard without retelling people’s jokes. Young is Canadian, good but a little loose and unfocussed at times; Birbiglia I really liked until I actually saw what he looked like (khakis and golf shirts? really?), now his faux-prep image doesn’t fit his slacker stylings; Eugene Mirman is just whacked and I love it, he won’t be for everyone though; Patton Oswalt is brill, merging obscure pop culture with cynicism and the occasional “is it funny or offensive” drop.
* Spamalot Toronto. I saw Spamalot New York, and honestly the Toronto show is better. Screw the big names (Tim Curry, Hank Azaria and David Hyde Pierce), the non-name actors tried harder and did a lot better at making the roles their own while still maintaining the Python-ness. The Lady of the Lake was about half as good in the Toronto show, though, but the Toronto French Taunter actually one upped John Cleese which rocked my socks. As opposed to my 50/50 rating of the New York show, the Toronto show is about 74/26.
*my brain’s been creating its own playlist including
- “Good to feel like” by the Super Friendz
- “Wonderful” by the Beta Band
- “She’s the one” by the Beta Band
- “Honestly Trudy” by the Femme Generation
- “I’ll believe in anything if you believe in anything” by Sunset Rubdown
- “Pretenders” by City Field
- “Crips” by Ratatat
- “1979″ by Smashing Pumpkins
- “Flattery” by Prince Paul
- “4 out of 5″ by Soul Coughing
- “Goddamn” by the Flints
- “The New Teller” by Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers
- “Closer” by Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers
- “Me and her got a good thing goin” by Jonathan Richman
* plotting many things, scheming many other things, both written and web and life
* looking for apartments still rots, but Rooms and I have a great lead on a place which we hope works out but reality says not to get to excited nor bank on it.
* oh yeah, and Quad CD samplers are getting done at a very slow pace. Everyone should have theirs or at least be in the mail by month’s end.
And that’s life for the past three weeks in a few minutes of blogging.
A loud crack is followed by a rumble that vibrates the building. My coworker and I perk up, a little curious as to the noise and sensation. Thunder? It happens again.
“Did you hear that?” she asked.
“Yup,” I said, looking back at her.
“Was that thunder?”
“Nope, not thunder. Something outside, like something hit the building.”
“A bomb!” A fleeting expression of shock and worry flicker across her face.
I laugh, “No, not a bomb.”
My laugh makes her realize how silly of a conclusion it was. She laughs too, and gets a little embarassed.
“My friend, you’re thinking like an American.”
Turned out to be a beer delivery van hopping the curb beside the building.
Hello dear readers and geekentics (anyone got a better name for the three people who call themselves my fans? play nice),
The goodly 25 of you who have been listed to receive the 4-CD 2005/06.5 compilation should be happy to know that all the cds are burned, but I’m having a little difficulty finding cost-affordable colour printing for 100 cd covers and liner trays. So I’m slowly getting things together via a shoddy bubblejet printer, so over the next month or so I’ll be shipping the cds out (two sets have alread vacated the Ronces). Unfortunately I don’t have a hierarchical list, so just expect an email or a package at your door one day (probability is that if you’re local Toronto, you’ll be getting yours towards the end).
Thanks for your patience and I hope you enjoy (at least some of) it when it gets to you.
Your gentle host,
PS. The final set was just claimed by some dude named Jeff, so I have no more.