Monday, June 21, 2010

I'm not dead.

Oh, hello there. I see you have stumbled onto my blog somehow. Now, you are probably looking at my last post and thinking to yourself, "Wow, that poor sap, he writes a post specifically pointing out how he hasn't been blogging much lately and then assuring everyone in the strongest possible terms that he is going to be returning to his prolific writing ways in short order. That was almost one year ago, with nary a cute cat picture, nonsensical cultural commentary, or blatantly biased political rant to show for it. He probably lives a pathetic, lonely life, living in his mother's basement. How sad." Now, while you may have been more or less correct about that last part, I do assure you, I haven't given up writing. Basically what happened was, I became pretty obsessed with Twitter (follow me here,) and once I got so accustomed to sending out my every thought, no matter how random or banal, as it occurred to me, I realized I didn't have much to write in this space anymore. I also started a Tumblr blog (located here) where I still post pictures or videos or other things that amuse me, without having to come up with 500 words about exactly what it is that I enjoy about a video of a bunch of guinea pigs eating a watermelon. It's just self-explanatory. Anyways, I'm going to leave this blog up so if you have never been here before, feel free to go through the 200+ posts, and if you enjoy my unique insight into this zany world we live in, feel free to follow my further adventures elsewhere on the Internets. Good day to you.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

i have returned.

Well hello there. As you might have noticed, I have been on a bit of a sabbatical from blogging as of late. It was somewhat tough to do it with any regularity while I was away in the UK, and since I have been back, I have been still quite busy with my musical endeavors, but more than that, I have just had a difficult time getting back into the habit of posting things here. Well, I'm here to tell you that this ineptitude is going to stop TODAY! (if this were a Michael Bay movie, I would be moving in slow motion right now with an epic rock soundtrack blasting in the background. Man, I wish my life was a Michael Bay movie. But not one of the Transformers movies. Fuck that.)

Anyways, there are all kinds of funny, bizarre, and exciting things going on in the pop culture universe. But you know what, I have to start small.

It's good to be back.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Noah's nineties endorsements part 1: The Indian Runner.

This is the first in what will hopefully become a series of posts by yours truly in which I recommend a film from the decade that gave me the love of the medium. This is my no means the golden age of cinema, but it was a pretty damn good one to come of age during. I will try to find titles a lot of people may of missed, but I'll also be encouraging you to take a second look at movies you may have dismissed the first time around. The first film is one I've wanted to blog about since I first started writing for Action and Action and remembered that Rob is a big fan of Springsteen, who's connection to the film will become clear as you read on.

Long before Sean Penn was milking the Academy for a yearly acting nomination, he made his directorial debut with an extremely cool, underrated film called The Indian Runner. The few films he's directed since (The Crossing Guard, The Pledge and Into the Wild) have generally been well received as mature, realized projects, but I still feel this often overlooked first film is his strongest. The year was 1991, and the barely 30 year old actor demonstrated that he was a lot more than just that, and was in fact very well adversed in cinema, its past masters and capacity for artistic expression.

When people think of independent cinema in the 90's, most think of Tarantino, Kevin Smith, and all those that tried to be like either Tarantino or Kevin Smith. The Indian Runner came out before either of them had made a film, and features a cast that I'm sure had Tarantino seeing it at his first opportunity. The film stars David Morse as the 'highway patrolman' Joe Roberts and Viggo Mortenson stealing every scene as his enigmatic, trouble-seeking brother Frank. The supporting cast boasts names like Charles Bronson, Patricia Arquette, Dennis Hopper, Valeria Golino, and even a brief appearance by a young Benicio Del Toro. As if this cast wasn't already enough to give it a 10/10 on the ultra cool scale, Penn got the story idea for his original screenplay from Bruce Springsteen's 'Highway Patrolman.' Refer to song below for plot summery.

Probably because the film takes place prior to the Boss's day, the song is not featured in the film, but the badass classic rock soundtrack compliments several scenes beautifully.

Attesting to Penn's well placed influence and awareness, is the film's dedication in loving memory of John Cassavetes and Hal Ashby. Myself being more familiar with Cassavetes (actor turned father of independent cinema, created very personal projects such as A Woman Under the Influence), I can certainly see moments reflective of the great director. My favourite being a hilarious little scene which relates little to the rest of the plot, all done in one shot where a nosey local tries to console Joe who is clearly annoyed as he washes his police cruiser while she follows him round and round. Sean Penn apparently developed a bit of a relationship with Cassavetes before his passing and had planned to collaborate. Penn later starred in She's So Lovely directed by John's son, Nick Cassavetes.

For the most part a heavy, serious drama, the film will often surprise you with strange little touches of humour, such as the aforementioned car washing scene, and several other moments which seem almost Lynchian to me.

After watching the film, I recommend checking out the trailer on youtube, which I see as a humerous demonstration of advertisers' total inability to market what is essentially an art film. I'm reminded of the classic re-cut 'Shining' trailer, particularly when the trailer's cliched voice states “Franky and Joe have one more chance to make everything right” making it look like a fun filled film of two brothers re-kindling a childhood relationship.

Anyway, I think I've ranted on long enough for now. Just see it, and hopefully you will recognize how elements of the film pay homage to some of cinema's most inspiring auteurs while others make it truly unique and one of the first in what was to become a great decade for independent cinema.

Fun fact: The film has a birthing scene with a 'crowning' shot pre-dating Knocked Up's by 16 years... eat that Apatow! (Judd Apatow has also named Cassavetes as an influence... I guess they both directed movies, I see no further connection).

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


As Action and Action's patriarch figure travels back from his extended tour around the land of snogs, scarves, and casual attitudes towards dental hygiene, here's a cool video that has nothing to do with any of that.

There's all kinds of compilations of the Wilhelm scream on youtube, but I found this video to be the most interesting and informative, though they fail to mention its common use in video games as well.

Years ago I brought this familiar scream up to a film studies friend of mine who said 'Oh yeah, the Wilhelm scream.' I always wondered how he knew that, and in the back of my mind thought he could be making that name up to sound knowledgeable. Score one for him.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

March of the long-hairs '64

This feels like a Monty Python sketch. Regardless of whether or not he's being sincere, the fact that David Bowie founded The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Long-haired Men at 17 years old makes me love him all the more.

He's continued to push the boundaries of what's conceived as 'masculine' in our society, and probably even began to let people call him 'darling' and carry his handbags somewhere along the way too.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ryu Wannabe rages against machine

Another video game re-enactment from those lovable Japanese. I had always felt that the 90's movie adaptation of Street Fighter failed because it completely skipped over these bonus stages.

I wonder what this guy's story is. Over a million views in less than a month is pretty impressive, particularly for a youtube user with no previous videos. I did find this comment on his profile pretty funny:

donksvilesghost (5 days ago)
hey stop sending me videos advertising cameras UNSUBBED!!!!!!!!!!!!

All of a sudden all those cutaways to the camera make a lot more sense. Oh you crafty Japanese :D

I'm sure Rage Against the Machine would have a thing or two to say about Samsung if they knew about this.

a few thoughts about Michael Jackson.

I had just finished playing a show in Cork, Ireland, when I heard the news about Michael Jackson's death at the age of 50. I've been quite busy touring and without internet since this happened, so I haven't really been able to write anything about it, and now that I'm sitting here in front of a computer, I'm realizing there's not a whole lot I can say about it that hasn't been said already. His life and death are going to be endlessly analyzed and scrutinized over the next few months and years and I doubt there's much I can really add to the to the conversation. But I'll do my best.

Michael was a childhood hero of mine, I listened obsessively to records like Bad and Thriller when I was growing up in the 80s, and would amuse my family to no ends trying to mimic his legendary dance moves (I was especially fond of his famous crotch grab.) I loved Michael long before I really even started listening to or taking an active interest in other kinds of music, there was just something about it that absolutely captivated me even as a child with no knowledge or understanding of what exactly makes music great, or what makes a particular song a well-written one.

Of course, over the last 10 or 15 years, Michael has been far better known for his increasingly bizarre personal life and his legal troubles, but I don't think any of that will ever take away from the incredible musical legacy that he left behind. Update: I don't want to simply gloss over that part of his life and pretend that some of his extremely disturbing behaviour never happened, as so many have been willing to do over the last few days, so if you are interested you can find all the Vanity Fair articles that were published on Michael after his first court case in 1994 here. None of these Vanity Fair articles were ever challenged legally by Jackson or his team. So despite the overwhelming amount of praise and support that he has been shown since his death, no one can possibly deny that he was, at the very least, a deeply troubled man. If anything, his life will serve as a chilling reminder of what the highest levels of success and a lifetime of the decadent excess of celebrity culture in America can do to someone.

In any case, despite the controversy and terrible accusations that plagued him over the last 2 decades, I would like to believe that my love of Michael's music as a child played some part in my eventual decision to pursue my own career in the music industry and I am incredibly grateful for that, and for the happiness that I felt listening to his music when I was younger. Because when I think of Michael now, I don't picture the pale, skeletal looking-man with the strange, surgically altered face...I just think of an awkward white kid in Landsdowne, Ontario, standing on his bed and dancing like an idiot while that legendary voice played out of the cassette player in his room.