Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Music Review: Devo - "Something For Everybody"


Usually I sit and stew on whatever I'm reviewing and go through more thought processes than what is probably required for my memoirs at age seventy let alone a blog with three followers. Here, I'm listening to it as I type. So there.

Yes, twenty years later we have a new Devo album. I was never a huge devotee of Devo. I mean, I turned up "Whip It" on the radio with everyone else and that was about it. And that album cover is hot. (See Katy Perry, this is how a sizzling album cover is done. And it's for a DEVO album, woman.)

1. Fresh - This was real catchy. Good beat, really got me tapping my toes.

2. What We Do - I think the right remix of it would make it beyond smashing. Cans we has one?

3. Please Baby Please - Like it. Maybe I don't have issue with "Please baby, please baby, baby baby please, baby" since the song's shorter? Maybe cause it kinda reminds me of an alien surfing in space and he took the Stray Cats hostage?

4. Don't Shoot (I'm A Man) - I actually like the rest of the entire song better than the chorus. "Don't shoot! I'm a MAAAAAAAn!" Meh. Didn't do it justice. I wanted to like a song that uses "don't taze me, bro" much better than this.

5. Mind Games - Solid song but probably nothing I'd play without playing the entire album. Would probably go great on a soundtrack for a romantic comedy somewhere.

6. Human Rocket - Awesome.

7. Sumthin' & 8. Step Up - These kinda meshed for me. It's like the weird kid in class that impressed you at first until you realize he doesn't really do anything else.

9. Cameo - We slow down a little. Would've liked it if we had slowed down even more. Devo continues the trend of repetitious lyrics. Yes, Devo does those great but let's shake it up a bit, too. It's okay.

10. Later Is Now - I'm listening to the album all the way through and by this time it feels like I've already heard this song earlier in the album. Nothing against the song itself. On it's own it doesn't have any other short-coming off the top of my head besides being a little less memorable than it should. Just starting to get a little melding-itis here: where one song sounds too similar to the other.

11. No Place Like Home - It starts off good but then Devo rememembered they forgot to repeat the title ad nauseum. This could've been a sweet, quiet moment in the album. Not to be. Pity because it really needed a couple.

12. March On - This sounds like the end theme to the coolest video game in the late 80's that was never made. Of course, I never made it to the end 'cause I kept dying. Nice way to close out.

I don't know if it's supposed to be ironic or not that the album's called "Something For Everybody" yet feels very pigeonholed. If that's the idea behind it, that's fine. I personally prefer something a little more diverse from 5-acorn albums. They have slow tracks, peppy ones, and some of the stuff in between. They run like a story even if all the tracks don't exactly go together. That doesn't seem to exist here. The tracks have a lot of sameness to them. It's a runner trying to keep the same speed. You need a hill or two.

At Rolling Stone, someone commented: "You could say there are too many lyrics. Too much singing. They are trying too hard to say something. I'm not sure what." That rings true to me, too. They talk so much that nothing stands out. Relax, boys. Your music's bitchin'. Simmer down for a moment and let us actually hear it.

All in all, not quite my cuppa but this album is still solid. 3.75 acorns.

¾

Yes, I just rated this lower than Katy Perry. Her album had more keepers for me track-wise. Sowwy.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Music Review: Marina & The Diamonds - "The Family Jewels"


One of my new favorite artists to emerge in 2009 has to be Marina Diamandis. Yes, she's a solo artist. "The Diamonds" are supposed to be us the fans or something. This year marked the release of her debut studio album "The Family Jewels". Her songs are quirky, upbeat and downbeat at the same time. I know I will fail to write adequate praise. She strives to be as different from factory-churned pop as possible in both sound and lyrics. In that respect she's similar to the same message being sold by loads of pop-tarts except she actually is freakin' different. Marina has said "I'd prefer to have 10,000 intelligent, questioning, fans full of life than 10 million unthinking, colourless ones." This album is sure to fulfill that wish.

Marina is not singing rejected Britney Spears tunes and selling herself off as a rebel. She is actively rebelling in her lyrics and perhaps even more importantly in her sound. Marina hoots, chirps, yodels. I'm fairly certain she probably whistles and beeps too if you ask her nicely. Her tone is remorseful. Giddy. Affirming. Even a bit annoyed. Slightly perturbed. It sometimes reminds me of the audio embodiment of those sock-type things that pop out of the can. It almost doesn't seem congruent. You just have to accept it the same way you accept Goofy and Pluto are both dogs, yet one lives in a people-house and talks and the other doesn't.

Even Amazon.com can't recommend anything close. It gives me Janelle Monáe, M.I.A., Dragonette, V.V. Brown, the Noisettes. It gave me Melody Gardot and tons of bluesy types I have no real interest in listening to. Maybe La Roux comes close to the same category. Maybe.

There's a deluxe digital edition at Amazon for $11.99 that includes a video for Hollywood, a digital booklet, and a handful of remixes. If you don't already own this album and are looking for a digital version, I suggest that be the version you buy. Track breakdown, non-deluxe style:

1. Are You Satisfied? - This one's kinda catchy with a drop of folksy and two more of electronic. Not my favorite, but goes well with the whole of the album.

2. Shampain - One of my favorites. I find I start singing it sometimes with no prompting what-so-ever. "Drinking shampain, to forget yesterday..." From what I hear, this is supposed to be her next single with vid forthcoming. Can't freaking wait.

3. I Am Not A Robot - This is probably the song that hooked me on Marina. It's practically an anthem even though you aren't going to go shout out lyrics at any party. Or maybe you would. I guess it would depend on the party. GUESS WHAT!? I AM NOT A ROBOT!

4. Girls - Makes fun of those shallows chicks we all went to school with. You know the ones. All they say is na-na na na-na.

5. Mowgli's Road - Holy crap, just go see the vid of this. This song is like Sussudio in that it's so effin' cool and I have no godly idea why. Seriously. It has a message. The message is there. But what are the ten silver spoons all about? Do I not read enough? Is it bad I don't care? Also, I tend to favor the longer version of this. Just saying.



6. Obsessions - I remember when this was lighting up music blogs every where. It's a nice song.

7. Hollywood - I LOVE this song but the extra verse in the album version kinda gets a shake of the head from me. I think it kinda throws off the rhythm a bit. Well, the shorter one should be easy enough to find somewhere. Otherwise, I'm all over this one.

8. The Outsider - "...cause I'm a FUCKING WILLLLDCARD!" I notice reviews either love that line or hate it. Frankly, I wish Marina would do more of them.

9. Guilty - This is another fave. It has a pulsing beat and a haunting darkness about it but you won't go weeping into your closet because of it. This one, Shampain, Hollywood, and Oh No! are probably the ones I have in constant rotation when I play music.

10. Hermit the Frog - I really don't know what to think of this song. It definetely gets props on the title alone. For some reason, I feel like a stoner's band in the 70's should be singing this instead. Like I should be sitting back and lighting a joint. Except I don't do no drugs, son. Huh?

11. Oh No! - Her latest single from this album, I believe. I honestly never gave it much of a listen until the video came out. Then I was all "Duuude, why did I keep skipping this one. It's damn good." And now I play it too much. Oh yeah, and there's Oh No! specs, too. Didja know?



12. Seventeen - This is another one that I heard on the music blogs long before I even knew she was doing a full album. I distinctly remember downloading it and listening to it like 30 times that day. No. Rly.

13. Numb - This one's a little gem. I'd love to hear different artists cover it.

14. Rootless - Nice and slow. Like #1, I don't normally listen to it without having played the entire album. It's a nice cap off, just what I like when the album winding's down.

Go check out more Marina vids, like other music videos and such, on her YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Marinaandthediamonds

Also: Marina & the Diamonds Official Site

5 fucking acorns.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Music Review: Katy Perry - "Teenage Dream"


Going track-by-track, in order, broken down like so:

1. Teenage Dream - This song reminds me of the album cover. I could totally picture her nekkid on that cloud singing to some poor dude with a raging hard-on. Then at the end he wakes up, flings the sheet away and furiously jerks off just as his mom suddenly opens the door. "Junior, do have any dirty sooooocks?" Hilarity ensues. I gave up a long time ago holding serious issue with a singer's vocal ability or lack thereof. I find it really depends on the song. In this case, however, the two main verses really feel like they could've been helped by a singer who can, well, sing better in whatever register that's supposed to be in. I love the rest of it though. Maybe it would've been better as a duet with someone else singing those higher verses?

2. Last Friday Night (TGIF) - An Amazon reviewer pointed out: "Some of the stuff she sings in this one song were blacking out, breaking laws, maxing out credit cards, having a threesome, and drinking to[o] many shots. ... Her core audience is teens, and they will start thinking this is normal behavior with the way she is all blasé and carefree about seriously stupid behavior." Now, while those are good points, I personally don't give a rat's ass. People that would go out and do that Darwinizing b.s. don't need a Katy Perry song of all things to encourage them. While it has a decent beat, the dumb lyrics make it a shallow, uninspired thing and the voice never really rescues any of it. In other words, it probably would've been better suited for the next Ke$ha album. (I like a couple of Ke$ha's songs, too, but come on, her voice sounds like it's giving you an STD half the time. You know it's true.)

3. California Gurls - What does this song have in common with Rhianna's hit "Umbrella"? Give up? They're both ruined by frickin' rappers. Why do they do this crap? What about delicious, sugary pop in this instance requires some unwelcomed dose of "bow wow wow yippee-yo yippee-yay, I like dat ass"? When I listen to "Umbrella", I put on a version that removes Jay-Z. Someone remove Snoop. DO IT. Yes, he likes Katy Perry's ass. I get that and I'm okay with it. But, really, if I gave a ding-dong hey-ho about Snoop, I wouldn't be listening to Katy Perry's album instead. It's like someone just spat on my biscuit. Yeah, I could cut the part with the spittle off and eat the rest but I'd rather just throw the whole thing away.

4. Firework - No, I never feel like a plastic bag. That's not eco-friendly for one thing. "Firework" is due to be the third single for the album after "California Gurls" and "Teenage Dream". Considering those became huge hits, I expect this one to become one, too. Not that it really deserves it. Don't get me wrong, it's kinda cute and it has that generic Top-40 radio sound the rest of the world swoons over. Something I'd put on in the background while I do dishes or something. It, like the previous two, again shows Perry's strength in the chorus of her songs. Those always feel so strong to me and I find much disappoint that the verses aren't catchier like in "Hot and Cold" off of her other ablum. All in all though, it's one those songs that's usually found in between two much better ones. And since it's not terrible, you let it play instead of skipping to the next track.

5. Peacock - Has a nice beat but, God, "I want to see your peacock, cock, cock"? "Are you brave enough to let me see your peacock? What are you waiting for, it's time for you shoot it off?" Ugh. Well, at least she hasn't forgotten her target audience. I wish the lyrics weren't so immature and stupid, which is hilarious for me to type because (1) I actually listened to the three previous tracks with a straight face and (2) I normally live for stupid and immature lyrics. Or, at least, I can get over them and enjoy the beat. I can imagine how the song writing session for this went: "Let's see how many times we can get the word 'cock' in a song. Tee hee." Yeah, real fuckin' creative. They should've just gone all the way and made it about John Hancock. Or shuttlecock. Please, someone, cover this song with different lyrics.

6. Circle The Drain - Another catchy tune with a much better message: "Ew, yer a druggie. Can't help ya. Bai bai." I can get behind that. I like the guitary riffs at the beginning. Kinda wish it was a little harder. I think I really would've loved this if it had been done by Orianthi. Alas.

7. The One That Got Away - Something about this one reminds of me of a sweet ice cream truck tune. Not like "Pop Goes the Weasel" and that tired old shit, but a cute, generic "ding ding ding" type ditty. And somehow Katy Perry appeared, climbed on top of the truck, and started singing about love lost. Then she handed me a bomb pop. Pretty freakin' cool.

8. E.T. (Futuristic Lover) & 9. Who Am I Living For? - I love these damn songs. The September 6th issue of People Magazine actually called them "dreary tunes" and "a rude awakening from all the fun." "The fun" for the reviewer being Perry crowing "your peacock, cock, cock/ your peacock, cock, cock." But hey, with a name like "Chuck" he's inevitably a dude and Katy Perry's cute and repeating the word "cock". Meh. Fine. "E.T." is probably my favorite track on here. It's hardly the wrist-cutter fare implied. Consider that, pages earlier in this same magazine, the series "Nikita" starring Maggie Q was given a full four stars even though it was clear from the review that the writer hadn't even seen it yet. Then, the next page over, the complete collection of the wall-banger known as LOST also got four stars. Yeah, it's publicity. You're not really meant to put a shred of faith into any of it. Moving on.

10. Pearl - This is a decent enough song but I don't think we should be winding down in the album at this point. See last paragraph. Nuff said.

11. Hummingbird Heartbeat - This sounds like a lost, toned-down Lady Gaga song. I can imagine Lady Weirdo's monotone going "hummingbird heartbeat, hummingbird heartbeat" to some Casio-beat crapped out by RedOne. Additionally, how can the "taste of your honey" be "so sweet" when bees make honey and have nothing to do with hummingbirds? I mean, she mentions bees once but then why even involve the hummingbirds? Yeah, yeah, I know. I'm reading too much into this.

12. Not Like The Movies - I either so moved I have no reaction or I'm so bored I'm paralyzed. Frankly, I can't decide how I feel about this song. It's definetely one of those "hey, this album's ending. Here's a real slow song for ya." Except I don't think it's all that good. I'd rather have this gone and "Pearl" here instead. Now that's a good album ender. That song's telling you "Hey, did you put this album on repeat because 'Pearl' is playing?" The song that ended up at the end says "Hey, I'm ending. Time to put something better in!"

"Teenage Dream" has some keeper songs and I've heard worse pop albums that this. Too bad it feels like two EPs were smushed together with a couple of reject tracks tacked on the end as filler. Replace a few tracks and slap better lyrics on a couple others and it could've been a five acorn album.

Four out of five acorns.

And..., so it doesn't go unsaid, showing that much skin on the album cover wasn't even necessary. It doesn't even look sexy as much as it looks smutty. "I gotta sells my album." That cheap, two-seconds-in-Photoshop-later smear over her ass doesn't really help any either.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

"On Leather Wings" - 18 Yrs Later

"On Leather Wings" was the pilot episode of Batman: The Animated Series although it was apparently the second one to be broadcast after the first part of "The Cat in the Claw". Don't ask me, I was twelve. It first aired in September of 1992.

I'm certain I watched it when it first came out and I don't remember what my thoughts were on it. I must have liked it because I saw every Batman episode up until the art changed in Season 4. [I'm remedying this as you read.] I remember hating the look of it but certainly not because of Bruce Wayne. Shit, they made him one smokin' gent:

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Catwoman is still complete crap tho. What the shit, DC? She was damn hot and they turned her into a pointy black stick.

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Anyway, Catwoman's not even in this ep so moving on. I watched the official DVD release, plesantly surprised to find English, French, and Spanish as audio options and subs. I mean, don't be so lazy, DC. This should be standard on all of your releases. What's with all the English only crap?

We open in Gotham, looking so much like the place people from Metropolis go to slit their wrists and end it all. I know it's dreary but didn't recall it being so bleak as this. It's definetely more grandiose. We see two old guys in the helicopter and one of them says he saw a giant bat or some shit.

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Kid? You guys look the same age! Whatev. Meanwhile, some dude gets attacked by a bat-thing and tossed out a window. Harvey Bullock blames Batman because who else could it be? The Commish, the mayor, and Harvey Dent are also present and I realize for the first time that two of these dudes are both named Harvey. Who cares, where's Batman? When we finally get to Batman, I have to say that Alfred was full of sly little barbs here. I love Alfred. No wonder Batman wants to toss him.

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Beats screwing small deer.

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Batman arrives on the scene and--what's she reading?

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"P.S. Your Dog is Gone"? Or is that "Done"? I love DVDs. Anyway, Batman knocks her out with gas which turns out for the best since that book was probably written by Nicholas Sparks. He goes in and sprays the room with red spray like in CSI and puts on his Cyclops eye-gear since that's more innocuous than that big ultra-violet sperm light.

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He finds a tape recorder with raptor noises from Jurassic Park, proving that Gotham PD is utter shite considering it was right there under the desk. I mean, all a fat-assed cop had to do was bend over and look. Batman also finds a mysterious hair. Or maybe not so mysterious...

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So Batman takes the stuff to the bat-people at the zoo. He can do that shit since he's rich and owns them and all. He meets three doctors: a cranky old man named Dr. March, his beautiful daughter Francine, and his limp-wristed son-in-law. No, really.

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Batman, I mean Bruceman, ask them to do tests and get back to him. I really love how Batman changes his voice as Bruce Wayne. I wish this had been something they kept later in the series. It really set Batman and Bruce Wayne apart. He gets a call from Dr. March about the test results and he switches from gravely, me-so-serious, dark hero to "hyuck, hey there, doc". When WB/DC did the redesigns, they pretty much made Kevin Conroy do the same voice for Batman and Bruce. Don't get me wrong, it still sounds good but I prefered the duality of it all. Oh well.

Being the detect-a-tive that he is, Batman figures out in one second flat that they's a-lying. He all "Computer, analyze this shit". [Okay, so I paraphrase.] And the computer talks back. Yeeeeeeah. Not missing that part. Batman goes back to the bat-place because who doesn't like the zoo at night. He's there to call the old man out on his shit but then son-in-law pretty much confesses even though he really didn't freaking have to. Well, maybe he did because Batman would have to die at this point either way. He transforms and it is really creepy as hell.

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I'm sure this had to give some kid somewhere in 1992 nightmares.

Fighting ensues and luckily for Bats, the cops see him wrestling with the bat monster in the air. I guess this is supposed to establish that he's innocent now but why wouldn't Bullock or some other skeptic not just assume Batman made the bat creature himself and was using it to terrorize Gotham? Batman got exonerated too damn easily. Yeah, yeah, it's a kid's show, but still.

So Batman ends up carting off with the defeated and MAJORLY CONCUSSED bat creature in the dead of night. He takes him back to the Bat Cave to release him back into his natural habitat to find a cure. He punches shit into his computer and whoomp, there it is. Tag Team back again. That's right, he managed to do in less than a minute what three bat scientists could not. Money really can buy him everything.

And after all of that trouble, what does he do?

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"Here lady, you appear to have lost your husband. I cured him, yo."

Do we ever see Manbat guy again? Don't ask me, I was twelve.

Also, apparently the bat habitat at the Gotham Zoo was designed off of part of Angkor Wat. How effin' cool was that?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dinner for Schmucks: a movie for dicks


I won't be seeing Dinner for Schmucks. Ever. I've already seen the French Veber original, "Le dîner de cons", so yeah I'm biased.

I'm not completely adverse to movie remakes either. Really, I'm not. It's always interesting to see a new spin or take on something, especially something good. I think Veber's film was ripe for a remake. I realize changes must be made when something is redone, but I swear Hollywood has the annoying knack of changing the wrong goddamn thing.

1. Why the hell did we ever make it to the actual dinner? That's never what it was truly about. Is it just an excuse to parade out all of the freaks. No thanks. By throwing in all of these other idiots, doesn't the film thereby make us a guest at the Dinner Game, laughing at these poor fools' expense and thus ruining the entire point?

2. Production Budget: $69 M. For a movie about rich guys who invite idiots to dinner? And actual people shelled out $69 million bucks to make this shit? Those people deserve to die.

3. A neat and tidy Hollywood ending. In fact, it seems they went and gave out as many happy endings as possible. The original ending was happy enough: Shit just kinda leveled out and the characters were left with a double-edged gift of personal insight. In Schmucks there's a marriage, a new relationship, and a host of other sappy stupid-ass shit. Then the appointed villain is labeled a "loser", which again missed the fucking point of the original. The fact is that the main guy in the French film gets screwed over so badly because HE DESERVED IT. That was the idea. He has everything, doesn't play fair, is a cheating, lying jerk who wants to humiliate an idiot. But the idiot he chose is the embodiment of divine karma. He's a good-hearted innocent who doesn't mean to do anything bad. He's just that goddamn stupid.

4. Crass, stupid American humor doesn't amuse this crass, stupid American. American comedies are more miss than hit for me. I've never laughed at Friends, the Office, and I maybe tittered once or twice at Seinfeld. I avoid any comedy film more recent than circa 1990. I saw two minutes of "There's Something About Mary" and knew I would not be enjoying American comedy again for years to come. I used to get some chuckles out of Family Guy but honestly that show now disgusts me. More so for being stale and trying to constantly push an envelope that has long since been torn in half, burned, and shat on, but I digress. To quote a review, "Dinner for Schmucks offers gags involving gonorrhea, the clitoris, pompous modern artists and public humiliation." EWWWWW, WTF? Additionally, making matchstick landmarks isn't edgy enough [never mind that it wasn't supposed to be!] so they make the idiot play with dead mice instead. This is what constitutes a joke these days, folks: STDs and dead animals. No thanks, keep it.

5. My God, the damn poster. Just scroll up look that that effin' thing. To exasperated Rudd's douchetastically palming his face--facepalm doesn't work when you LOOK AT THE CAMERA--to Steve Carell's smug, bug-eyed "I may or may not be a pedophile who just peed in your swimming pool" crazy-stare, this poster induces so much rage I want to poop in your mother's purse while she sits in church.

I'll take an old French comedy over this crap any day of the week and even some days that don't exist yet.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cathy Ending, World Rejoices

'Cathy' Comic Strip Comes to an End. AAACK!

OMG, YES. Yes, please let this end. If I see one more strip where she tries to fit her lard ass into a swimsuit or whines about chocolate, I'll draw pr0n of Irving totally wrecking Blondie and Miss Buxley out of sheer spite.

The Cathy strip is 34 years old. THIRTY. FOUR. At what point in time do you think the vision died? How do you do even 20 years of something like Cathy and keep it fresh? I remember when a bunch of the comics got trimmed down. At that point, I could go several Sundays not even reading the comics because I didn't care anymore. One day I had read all I felt like reading but, suddenly, I needed to take a big dump. That Irving had actually married Cathy shocked the poop outta me. Why do you buy the cow, Irving? The milk. It was free. Oh so free, insecure, and willing with the tiniest bit of flattery. Now you are chained to her forever. You fool, Irving. Meh. Maybe he was lonely and afraid to die alone. It's happened to better drawn men than Irving.

Someone on some other blog was--to paraphrase completely--all "Well, it had to end or it'd be like Family Circus, hyuck." Cathy at its worst could not compete with Family Circus. Family Circus is something else that needs to die. I believe that comic is immortal like the effin' Highlander. Not only will it never die, but it cuts off the heads of other comics and keeps itself alive. I think I might've seen it eyeing Hi & Lois. How many of these comics are older than the average newspaper readership? Not that I think they should all be put to pasture but, hey, just think about it.

One of Cathy Guisewite's excuses for ending Cathy was because she has "an 18-year old daughter who needs a full-time mom to help her through her last year of high school." BWUH? That's an adult. She didn't need a full-time mom back when she was A CHILD? Whatev. Guisewite also said that "other personal deadlines started becoming more pressing for me than the newspaper ones" which sounds like Super BS. But, you know what? No one needs any excuse to end Cathy. THIRTY. FOUR. Did I say that already? For every year I have breathed air, there has been Cathy sucking that air away. "TAKING YOUR AIR! OH NO, CARBS! AAAACK!"

And no "Cathy Classic". We have enough of that Peanuts shit as it is. You know what? If you die and didn't draw any new strips, the damn spot should be given to an alive cartoonist. There are other cartoonists. And many of them are alive. And they would LOVE to be published. Just sayin'. I mean, the paper's thin enough as it is. The recession really put the thing on a diet. Advice columnists were cut. Also, other people were cut. Or, like, whatever. You want Schulz so bad, go buy you-self some o' dem Peanuts. Cracker. Wait, this was supposed to be about Cathy. Whatever. Cracker.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sticks and Stones

This post was originally made on my MySpace on April 8, 2007:

I was reading "Dear Abby" today. Yes, I read that withering old bat "Dear Abby". Whenever I get my hands on a newspaper, advice columns are the first place I go. I'm well aware that I'm the worst kind of news reader. I just dump everything and go for the advice columns, only going through the rest when I'm just that bored. This one was from this past Tuesday. It was about people writing in to comment on use of the word "retarded". You can find it here. Anyway, it annoyed the crap outta me. Yes, yes, I realize this makes me a horrid person but for crying out loud, these people want to whine about the usage of a word. I would've thought this would've been more up the napkin-up-the-ass, fork-on-the-right-sideness avenue of Miss Manners but whatever, right?

Firstly, this pink blogness is not about the people addressing its usage as a "derogatory insult" towards their mentally retarded loved ones. This is about the complaints and subsequent bitching-ware party about people calling other people and things "retarded" as an insult. I mean, that one lady writing in that people would "stare and talk" about her and her sister? What kind of ass do you have to be to go around whispering behind people's backs like they can't hear you? I think it goes without saying that sort of thing is deplorable. I don't call a mentally retarded person "mentally retarded" under the so-called "unabusive" manner, whatever the hell that's suppose to be mean. (Because I get the distinct feeling it means about hundred different things depending on who you're talking to, so it's just better not to use it.) Speaking from a completely unassociated and bystander point-of-view, why would you call any "mentally retarded" person "retarded"? I don't care if that's what they actually are or whatever, it's totally rude.

But these people are just nitpicking. I mean, check this one person out: "I am the sister of a mentally retarded individual, and my heart breaks every day when I see her struggle, her triumphs and her innocence." What the hell does that have to do with one person calling a thing or another person "retarded"? "Surely those teens and adults who use the term 'retarded' in an abusive manner are not personally acquainted with an individual who is truly retarded." No kidding they aren't. Everyone knows people only care when it happens to them. I think you should build a giant retardo ray and teach them all a lesson.

"I am the parent of a daughter with developmental disabilities, and it is painful when I hear a friend or colleague use the term as an insult"? WTF? Did it ever occur to you that "retarded" is not your word exclusively? Why do I have a feeling that this person doesn't tell their friend or colleague to knock it off? Seriously, you're allowed to do that. What kind of friends are these if you can't tell them to shut-up about the "retarded" business? As for the colleagues, there's a reason HR is there. Not everyone finds it as offensive as you do and when this happens, you need to let people know that you're not one of them.

Or from the Feb. 11th column they were responding to: "I am a special education teacher who works with people who have mental retardation. Everywhere I go, I hear teenagers and young adults calling each other 'retarded.'" You gotta be kidding. I would K-I-L-L to be able to go somewhere and have teenagers and young adults calling each other "retarded" because at least it would be one less use of the f- and s-words they're so fond of instead.

Bottom Line: If you're taking someone else's conversation as insult or personal pain when it has nothing whatsoever to do with you or is in direct context to your situation, I think you have some issues to address.

I use plenty of words and "retarded" is one of 'em. I call tests retarded. I call policies retarded. I call my sister retarded. I call my cats retarded. I call half the things on tv retarded. I call those dancing penguins retarded. And how do I sleep at night? Because this has nothing, nothing whatsoever to do with any actual people that could qualify for the medical usage of the word. It has nothing to do with their personal pain or struggles or whatever's going on in the lives of people I do not know and thusly have no emotional investment in.

The word's long been adopted into the lexicon of slang, it's in the dictionary as such. It conveys a meaning "that's stupid" just can not manage. Just where do they think words like "lame" and "moron" came from anyway? Wasn't "dumb" used for mute people? Go look it up. Etymology is a grand thing. Thousands of words have left their intended meanings behind. By their convoluted logic, just because you're not gonna meet Teddy Roosevelt is no reason to use the word "lame". That's stupid. This idea that people can have ownership of words is, well, I won't even say it.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Movie Review: Inception

As you noticed, most of my reviews are just gonna be me spoiling and bitching. Meh. Onwards:

The film opens with Cobb Corncob, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, best known to teh ladies for dying in Titantic over ten years ago. He washes up on a beach not-dead. Some Japanese dudes find him and take him to a pagoda-desu. There's an old man--Ken Watanabe strangely channeling Tony Goldwyn's clone from The Sixth Day--who's all "blah blah blah" but who cares. He then sees a little metal top-thingy and is all O-M-G. Then we leave this scene til nearly the end of the film, making me wonder why the eff it was in the beginning in the first place because all it accomplishes is SPOILING A LATER PART OF THE FILM. ....DESU!

We flashblack to Corncob and a young Ken at a par-tay in the same pagoda-majigger. Corncob is selling Ken on getting into teh dreamz to take teh secretz. Corncob sees a woman there: it's the chick who played Edith Piaf. She helps sabotage his efforts. We then get into this elaborate, "just kiddin', imma here to steal y'all's secrets" from Corncob, who tries to pull a fast one on Kenny. And Kenny's all "i knew dat, sucka". It turns out the entire thing was Kenny's dream... inside of one of Corncob's pal's dreams. Ppl wake up. We're on a train. Hoo-ya. Corncob looks like he got away with it: "it" being the theft of nothing and the accomplishment of getting caught by his own mark. He tries to run to Brazil perhaps so he set up an early lawn chair for the Olympics. Kenny catches everybody. He's all "it was an audition. I got a job for j00. Do eet and you can see your kids again because for some reason you can't." It never occurs to Kenny that maybe he should do this himself since he caught 'em all like so much Pokemon with relative ease. He wants Corncob to insert an idea into some goober's head so he can make some moneyz. Inception is the insertion of an idea. [Nolan picked from his Bat Hat again and casted the Scarecrow as the target.] Kenny then hauls away Corncob's Architect. Maybe Kenny hated "Lady in White".

Corncob assembles his team for his vewwwwy important mission. The movie posters and stuff give them cool names and shit like fucking X-Men but the names really don't mean a goddamn thing. Corncob's team includes:

- Tommy Solomon from Third Rock is the Point Man or whatever. He points, I guess.

- Praetor Shinzon is Eames, teh Forger with the magic skill of shapeshifting in dreams. "Wow, he's gonna use this all the time. It's gonna be wild." Nope, twice. Boo-ya.

- Max Patel from Avatar is teh Chemist. They need his special concoctions to get into teh super dreamz.
Corncob: Chemist, you need to enter the dream with us.
Chemist: Hells, no.
Corncob: You have to! We need special chemist things to be made now y'all.
Chemist: Oh, okay.
Me: Oh, this is gonna be cool. He's gonna have to make things on the fly.
Chemist then spends the majority of the movie DRIVING A VAN.
...down by the river! I'M NOT KIDDING. I SHIT YOU NOT.

Corncob also needs a new Archy-tect. He goes to France--where strangely there seems to be a short supply of French people--and to his father-in-law Prof. Michael Caine.

Corncob: Michael Caine, I brung toys for mah keedz in dis here bag. Also, I need an Architect nao plox.
Michael Caine: Ho ho, I have the best. Even better than you. Cause you are the best. Never mind that you appear to be the only and are thus the best by default. (shows Corncob to Juno)
[insert my eye roll because "young, white, attractive, token chick on old guy team" was so damn predictable]
Corncob: Why, it's a young unpregnant girl with no experience in what we're doing and who has no idea what we're up to. Perfect.

Her name in the movie is Ariadne. Cause she makes mazes. Get it? Ariadne? From the Minotaur legend, ho ho ho. Is there nothing the combined powers of Nolan and Wikipedia can't accomplish? Corncob tests her by having her draw a maze on a piece of paper. She fails twice before she gets it right. Corncob apparently lost his receipt when he bought her from Prof. Michael Caine and can't return her because she still makes the team. They do test runs in his dreams where Corncob does a Morpheus and explains the dream state crap to her: Change too many things, NPCs will turn on you. If you die in the dream, you wake up. Past go, collect $200 dollars, and buy your little metal shoe a little metal hooker.

Ellen Page gets sentences out more coherently than Keanu Reeves. Whoa. The city folds as you've no doubt seen on the posters and we're all very impressed. She does a bunch of crap with making random things appear and does some mirror trick.
ME: "Oh wow, this is so cool. I wonder how they're gonna use this later--" [THEY DON'T.]

The subject of a token comes up. Corncob's token is the little spinner thing from earlier in teh movie. He tells the chick to make a token. She nicks a piece from her mom's chess set. Her and Mr. Third Rock compare tokens. Surely their tokens are important later. [THEY AREN'T.]

After convening in their study group, they decide on how to plant the idea in Scarecrow's head and somehow deem they'll need to go into a dream, within a dream, within another dream to do it. They explained this somehow but it sounded like a load of crap. They plan to wake up in each dream in a dream with "kicks", which is something causing their bodies to fall and wake them the eff up.

We find out Corncob is traumatized due to the death of his wife and his wife and kids appear in his dreams, which is why he can't build dream environments no mores. Apparently, he killed her. Okay. I'll go with that. Then we find that he keeps forcing himself to dream to be with her in his memories. Nosy-ass Juno invades and discovers this secret. It endangers the whole team but they share it with no one. Way to go.

So we hop in Scarecrow's dream and shit immediately hits the fan. "They're militarized." Apparently, the NPC that are in our dreams will turn on people who invade the dreamer's dream... or something. Usually they aren't so powerful, but these ones are decked to the nines y'all and this is highly unusual. IT IS NEVER EXPLAINED WHY SCARECROW HAS "MILITARIZED" PEEPS IN HIS MIND. Y, BRO? Third Rock apparently failed in his research, which probably involved passing the guy's name through Google a couple of times.

Kenny gets shot in the skirmish. He proceeds to take Trinity X 5 time to freakin' die. It's just how time works, bro. Ppl are like "omg, let's shoot him so he can wake up" and Corncob is all "No! He's too heavily sedated" and introduces the "what the eff, y'all" ass-pull concept of limbo. If you're too doped up or miss your escape from the dream world, you end up in limbo where your brains may turn to mush. EXCEPT WE FIND OUT... it seem THAT'S NEVER HAPPENED TO ANYONE. Unless they're all mush at the end, which is retarded.

With Chemist driving a van per his job description, the others enter another dream. At this point, the movie's too good to make fun of and tricked me into thinking we're actually getting somewhere.

Scarecrow is killed by Corncob's projection of Mrs. Corncob in the Snow Level. Corncob and Girl Architect decide to venture into spooky-arse limbo to get him back. They enter that neat world of crumbling buildings and old houses. What mysteries do they hold? Nothing, jerks. We just look at them. RLY. Corncob and Mrs. Corncob made them in 50 years of dream boredom. We go to Corncob's house and Nolan saves money constructing a new set.

Meanwhile. Kenny finally dies. Those bastards. Scarecrow is successfully tricked into thinking Daddy loved him in the Snow Level. He plays with a giant pinwheel and sucks his thumb. Solid Snake misses his cameo.

Corncob admits that he knew the rare task of inception would work cause he did it on his wife. OMG that's how she died. And she was so mentally sick she framed him for her death so he can't see his KEEDZ. The idea that maybe he could've jumped back in and attempted to reverse it was never brought up. The idea that maybe evidence, such as witnesses at the hotels where the wife died and such, could clear him is never brought up. It also appears that he did inception accidentally (as he never intended her to keep the idea later), so it was pretty arrogant to think he could easily duplicate it in Scarecrow.

At the end of the movie, everything is tied up with neat little bow. Corncob sees his keedz faces and Mrs. Corncob's dumb spinner thing keeps on spinning. Roll credits. Gnash teeth. Was it all a dream? And even if it was, so what? Seriously. SO. THE. FUCK. WHAT. What a piss-ending. Isn't the horror movie style "...or was it" ending overdone already?

Why are so many fanboys and -girls splooging over this? The common counter is that anyone who doesn't like this can't appreciate an intelligent movie. What's so "intelligent" about not answering your own questions? Are these the same people that appreciated the intelligence of LOST, the biggest let-down rip-off that ever ripped an off? Anyone actually satisfied to find them in freakin' purgatory is an asshat.

Inception is pretty to look at. There's worse ways to pass the time. The acting isn't horrible. It's good products that add up to wasted potential. They used the finest silks and the goldest golds to make a very lovely toilet brush. It's a five acorn movie with a two acorn ending. I'm splitting the difference. Deal with it.

Three and 1/2 acorns. ½

Friday, August 6, 2010

Book Review: Untouched Until Marriage

Yes, my latest bad habit: reading Harlequin romance books, better known across the ocean as Mills & Boon. Granted, I won't knock the entire line. Now and again there are a few titles I actually enjoy, but that's a post for another day. Let's be frank. There's a perfectly good reason these books have the reputation they do. You have to sift through a lot of poo to find, uh, a poo-diamond.

"Untouched Until Marriage" is at least the second book I've read by Chantelle Shaw. Far from the worst Harlequin I've ever read, I could see someone else enjoying this... somehow. Maybe. Frankly, it's very straight-forward relying on the old Harlequin/Mills & Boon formula: lily-white, young virgin meets older, cynical, rich foreign man. Read one and you've read most. Judging from this and the other book of her's I've read, it does seem Ms. Shaw attempts to add her own little twists to the formula. The other book, "The Greek Boss's Bride", had the rarity of an infertile heroine and the couple ultimately adopting--which I loved--but really seemed to drag and not be enjoyable to read though. This book, like that one, has a unique premise. Beyond that it falls into the trap of Harlequin plot same-old same-olds, but I guess that was the point.

"Untouched Until Marriage" focuses on 22-year-old, red-headed, hippy-virgin and painter Elizabeth Maynard a.k.a. Libby. Libby's troubles stem from her now-deceased, hippy lap-dancer mother, also Elizabeth Maynard a.k.a. Liz. Liz decided it would be a great idea to use inheritance from grandma to open a health food store in the middle of nowhere. Go Mom. Then she managed to win a cruise vacation which inexplicably seemed to be for one but whatever. There she met mega-rich, much older Italian Pietro Carducci and got knocked up. Ew, Old People sex. Liz hears nothing further from Pierto once the cruise is over and dies later, saddling Libby with her baby half-brother Gino and the damn store which is of course failing. Enter Raul.

Raul is the tall, irate, and olive-skinned 36-year-old adopted son of Pietro who apparently has "hair as sleek and dark as a raven's wing", leading me to conclude he is using a dead bird as a toupee. Nevermore. He immediately wants to rail Libby all of six pages into the book. Paranoid about losing a baby she was never given legal right to (because hippies always ignore the law), Libby--with the same legal name after all--has been passing herself off as Liz so she can keep Gino. Thus, she lets Raul believe she is Liz. Visions of Libby lap-dancing and getting boned by Daddy Deadbucks run rampant in Raul's head and he's so digusted he doesn't nurse his hard-on for Libby again until page fifteen.

Bitchy Raul informs Libby that she's "hit the jackpot": Pietro is dead and provided for Gino and Liz in his will. Pietro, in true #1 Dad fashion, let Raul find out in the WILL about Gino. Pietro's company will be split in half between Raul and Gino, with that latter's shares managed by Liz because goodness knows Pietro deemed by a quick cruise lay that a reckless, dancing hippy was just what his ailing company needed. Go Pietro. Note that although Raul bitterly identifies Libby as his father's "mistress", Pietro's wife has been dead for TEN YEARS. Sheesh, Raul, even boneheaded 65-year-old codgers need a little fun. Chillax, dude.

Raul insists Libby and Gino must go to Italy with him because that's where Italians live. And also, our boy Raul want control of those shares and some of Papa's sloppy seconds. After some boring pages of evoking sympathy from each other, Raul decides he simply must raise Gino as his own son and marry Libby to give Gino a stable childhood. Kinda weird, bro, but whatev. [We also learn Raul has been burned by a prior marriage to his then PA Dana and I half-expected that relationship to be its own Harlequin because, really, you find the PA x Rich Boss plotline in about a third of them anyway.] Meanwhile, Libby's all "Can I marry a man who doesn't love me?" and I'm thinking "It's page 69, girlfriend. If you love him already, why don't you at least tell him you're not Liz and rely on the better nature you know is there within him to share Gino with you?" Because that would be too reasonable, Libby persists with her lie and caves in the next chapter.

This set-up allows Raul to predictably "Harlequin Hero Post-Coital Rage"™ at Libby when he tears through her hymen on their wedding night. Well, actually he pumps "his seed into her in a spectacular release that racked his body with exquisite aftershocks of pleasure". Then he raged. You'd think Raul would be overjoyed to find the woman he wanted never had old man sex with his old man, but he's too busy being preoccupied with the fact that he could've had the shares and the kid without any marriage. He even says crap like "you were presented with the opportunity to marry a billionaire and you seized it." Dude, isn't that what prenups are for? Never mind the marriage was HIS idea. HIS idea to take control of Gino's shares. Maybe those "exquisite aftershocks" rattled his brain loose from the stem. Even more so when you consider that even though this is an interesting dilemma, Raul changes his mind five pages later. Bi-polar much?

We also meet Aunt Carmina who interestingly was in love with Pietro herself. As if suddenly becoming mindful of the Mill & Boon page limit, this story like the above conflict is never expanded upon like it could've been and Carmina doesn't do much of anything in the book besides be a bitch. She brings up to a now complacent Libby that Raul only married Libby to control Gino's shares. Libby freaks, it never occurring to her that this ceases to make any freakin' sense because Liz is dead and Libby never had any legal claim to jack-squat. If Raul stayed married to her, it was obviously because he wanted to remain that way. However, obvious reason is not obvious. Who cares anyway because it OCCURS AND IS RESOLVED IN TEN PAGES. See a pattern here? When we discover Raul gave the shares back to her two weeks into the marriage because he's a lovesick idiot, you will headdesk with me.

If that's not enough, we get an epilogue that basically serves as a tacky bow on the entire thing. Libby is such a gifted artist and a beautiful, eccentric hippy. All the men want her. Raul is possessive cause he LUVS her. Libby and Raul have multiplied and are so damn happy. WHO. FREAKING. CARES.

This thing is just dull. Other authors have made entire books over the situations that get brought up and resolved within the same chapter in this one. Because some of the plot points are resolved so quickly, it just makes the characters seem flighty. "I'll divorce you. Wait, never mind." "You married me for the shares. Oh, you gave 'em back? Cool."

Two acorns out of five.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Lab testing on fictional animals.

The following post was made in January of 2006 on my old domain. I thought it was (1) too good to die and (2) the perfect test post to help me tweak some blog settings since I haven't used Blogger in years. Enjoy. Or not. Whatever. By the way, I have no idea if those links work anymore. Click on your own risk.

Bugs Bunny: teh Homersexual

This cracks me up. Where does this come from? I just thought it was the funniest thing I've seen in a while. Why do we need any proof he's straight? There was never anything gay about Bugs Bunny, though I'm sure the Rainbow Network would beg to disagree. Let's find some of the main reasons here and dissect them, just for kicks:

"Bugs doesn't have a girlfriend." I can accept this as a fact, only because I'm despise Lola being created to simply play the cliche role of "the girl" and nobody and their ass even counts Honey Bunny, provided you even know who the hell she is. Nice arguement, but if you go by that standard, that leaves a *lot* of homos in the Looney Tunes universe. Who DOES have a girlfriend? Not even Porky, though at least given something of canon girlfriend with Petunia, seems to be going steady. The only ones who seem to get laid on a regular basis are Granny/Yosemite Sam and Foghorn Leghorn/that demented old hen, and really, did we even need to think about it? (Because I'm damn sorry I did....) Getting down to the nitty-gritty, it was just inconvenient and unnecessarily to bring in females in most of these shorts. They were about gags, not relationships. Come on... Daffy doesn't have a girlfriend either AND he talks with freaking lisp. Why aren't we calling *him* gay?

"Bugs wears drag and kisses men." No, he wears disguises. It's not the same thing. People don't wear drag to escape stuttering huntsman and short gun-toting rednecks. He certainly doesn't go through day to day pretending to be a woman. He kisses his pursuers to piss them off or merely throw it in their faces that they'll never catch him, among other not-gay reasons. It's a joke and gag and a damn funny one. It doesn't make him Kyan from "Queer Eye".

"Bugs stands with a hand on his hip." Well holy sh!t, I'm convinced. It's a freakin' stance. He couldn't very well be standing with his arms crossed (which studies have shown, give a negative, closed-off vibe) or akimbo or dangly-dingly to the side. It would just look weird. Considering that we got here, I'm surprised no one has equated his oral fixation with carrots to be some sort of metaphor for penchant for fellatio. He's a rabbit munching on a vegetable. What else is he going to use: a head of cabbage, a stalk of celery, a dainty squash? I'm sure people would've loved that last one...

"Bugs loves show tunes and the opera." Let's not even dignify that. What else was going on in the 50's? Certainly not video games and cable television. Let's not forget the WW2 cartoons. Next thing they'll say is that they all love war or something.

Now I'm the last person to criticize looking too deep into cartoons and reading crap into them. Hey, I'm with you on Velma (and Fred... sorry but, kerchief?), Peppermint Patty, Vanity Smurf, Snagglepuss, and Spongebob being all queer-mo.... but Bugs?

This piece on the subject says it best:

"Kevin Sandler's chapter "Gendered Evasion: Bugs Bunny in Drag" confronts the cross-dressing antics of Bugs Bunny and suggests that, rather than transgressing or blurring gender boundaries, such narrative themes reinforce the binary "ideals" of male and female gender roles. Using the theories of Judith Butler (the notion that all gender is drag), Sandler interestingly explores the idea that "gender imitation in animal characters does not copy that which is prior in humans since gender already is a fiction; it copies what is already assumed to exist in humans" (159). He states that it is only the female animal characters that are sexually coded with breasts, long eyelashes, red lips etc., whereas the male animal characters, such as Bugs and Daffy, are identified as male precisely because they lack any overt sexual signifiers. Sandler maintains that the transvestite gags remain safe because the joke relies on the fact that the audience understands that it is a disguise (to evade capture). Thus, when Bugs kisses his enemy, whether in drag or not, it is not viewed as transgressive because it is mediated through the act of "taunting" his opponent. This chapter, along with those on race and other ideological subtexts or insensitivities, implies that Warners' cartoon narratives, like Disney's, are explicitly white, heterosexual and male orientated. This is not explicitly criticised, possibly because of the nostalgic nature of the book as a whole. It is suggested that, although many of the cartoons are explicitly racist and/or sexist, this is a feature of society at the time (often the World War II years)."

So sorry, but Bugs is as straight as an arrow, and someone over at Rainbow has a broken gaydar