Friday, December 26, 2008

Action and year end lists.

Note: this was originally posted on the Mission District site but I thought I would post it here as well for anyone who missed out.

Since the new year is upon us, this means there has been the inevitable storm of year end lists from all the usual suspects. Time. Pitchfork. Spin. Rolling Stone. I am in no way qualified to write a year end list, as I haven't even come close to seeing every good film that's been released, nor have I heard every good album. But you know what, you're the one reading this so you're going to have to read my uninformed opinions and that's just the end of it. So here's my top ten films and top ten albums of 2008, in no particular order:

TOP 10 films

That damn robot almost made me cry several times. Almost.

The best comic book movie ever made. Unbelievable performances from all the actors, particularly Aaron Eckhart and of course, Heath Ledger who will probably win the best supporting actor Oscar for his unforgettable turn as the Joker.

Perfectly cast and expertly directed by Jon Favreau. Plus RDJ is entertaining no matter what he does so this was just a super fun ride. Can't wait to see how this universe continues to expand in sequels and the eventual Avengers movie.

I wasn't sure how the Coens were going to follow up No Country For Old Men, but they managed to knock this out of the park. A screwball CIA suspense thriller comedy about a bunch of pathetic losers that ends up going to some surprisingly dark places.

A genius concept executed to near perfection by director and star Ben Stiller. Far superior to most of his other bland, dumb leading man romantic comedies. A performance of a lifetime from RDJ (who I clearly have a massive man-crush on,) and Tom Cruise also gets some of the biggest laughs of the movie so clearly I love this.

A heartbreaking look at a broken down man trying to return to his glory days which have long since passed. I have great respect for professional wrestlers and the personal hell they put themselves through in order to entertain people and Darren Aronofsky and Mickey Rourke clearly share that respect. This has been a fantastic year for acting performaces and Rourke's work here is right up there amongst the very best.

An amazingly creepy Swedish vampire film, rent this before they inevitably screw up the American remake.

Guillermo Del Toro is a living God and Ron Perlman actually is Hellboy. I hope we get a Hellboy III after Guillermo is finished with those two upcoming Hobbit movies.

David Gordon Green's other movie that came out in 2008, Pineapple Express, was great but this was better (I know, I know, it premiered at Sundance in 2007, but it made its limited theatrical run in 2008 so fuck off I'm including it.) Absolutely devastating story featuring captivating performances from everyone involved, especially Sam Rockwell and Kate Beckinsale.

It's really cool to see Seth Rogen, James Franco and now Jason Segel (Freaks and Geeks) becoming big movie stars. Segel did a great job writing and starring in this and goes to some amazing lengths to get some of the biggest laughs of the movie (he shows his penis.) Russell Brand is also really funny in this. I am always pleasantly surprised when romantic comedies are actually comedic and not retarded.

Top 10 albums

I think to make this album, this French band actually travelled back in time to the 1980's, lived there for several months hanging out with the Thompson Twins and making this music and then travelled back to the exact point they left so no one noticed they were gone. And thank God they did because this record is incredible.

The comeback is complete. Circus is fantastic and I am amazed at the positive turn Britney's public image has made in the last few months. I am certain she is still completely insane though.

This came out in Europe in 2005 but was finally released in North America in 2008, yet for some reason no one really bought it. This is not cool, because this is actually one of the best pop records ever.

It gets included here just for not being a complete disaster as many were expecting (myself included.) The fact that this is even out still blows my mind. There are a few great songs, but it is mostly just fascinating trying to wrap your mind around the amount of time and money that was spent on this album.

A genius marketing move, the epic Brian Eno reinvention album that is really not that much of a reinvention at all. Fortunately that doesn't stop Viva La Vida from being really, really good.

A really expertly produced, well written pop album. Katy Perry has a great voice and doesn't irritate me like some other similar artists (Avril Lavigne.)

Maybe the best party record of all time.

It's really interesting to hear these guys take punk and hardcore into strange new directions. This record is great but there is a good chance I am including it in this list just for indie cred.

If there is any justice in the universe, this Danish 6-piece will soon be everywhere. They deserve it, this record is a modern pop masterpiece.

More immediately accessible than Sam's Town with some filler but still really great overall. There is some interesting sonic experimentation but it feels much more natural and organic this time around. Brandon Flowers finally sounds like Brandon Flowers and not Springsteen or Morrisey.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas gift ideas for a zombie enthusiast.

Well, we are rapidly approaching Christmas, and if you are a chronic procrastinator as I am, right now is the time when we finally have to get around to buying some gifts for our loved ones. Although the true meaning of the holiday has become severely distorted in our postmodern, consumption crazy society, at its core, it still is a time of giving, sharing, and generosity - and the best possible gift you can provide for someone this season is a zombie-themed one. Fact. So here is a list of some of my personal favourite examples of zombie pop culture, which could maybe help to prepare a special someone for the inevitable day (or night) that our loved ones return from the grave to devour us alive.

And if you think this is just a shameless ploy to get someone to buy me zombie-themed Christmas presents, this is untrue, because I already own all these things. That's how I'm able to tell you about them, silly.


Zack Snyder's Watchmen adaptation looks to be pretty faithful and true to the source material, and it makes me wonder what exactly went wrong with his Dawn of the Dead remake in 2004. Athough it was fairly popular and did well at the box office, it doesn't hold a candle to George Romero's 1978 masterpiece. Although the remake has a pretty decent opening 20 minutes, after that it essentially sacrifices all the character development and social commentary that make the original such a landmark horror film. And seriously, why the fuck were Snyder's zombies running around so much? I mean, these things are physically dead. Their skin is decaying and falling off, their brains have lost all their higher reasoning and most motor functions, and yet Snyder has them running around like an undead Olympic relay team. Anyways, the original Dawn of the Dead is my favourite movie of all time. Yes, some of the acting is a little cheesy. It is, after all, a low budget 70's cult film, shot guerilla style in a mall in Pittsburgh during closing hours over the course of several chaotic weeks. But since there are only 4 main characters who carry the whole movie, you find yourself liking and caring about all of them as the narrative plays out, which makes it all the more painful when terrible things inevitably start to happen to them. Some people might also find themselves cringing at some of the special effects and makeup, but these people are wrong, and they also suck. All the effects were handled by horror legend Tom Savini, who also appears in the film and did a lot of the stunt work. These are my favourite type of movie effects. No CGI or other modern bullshit, just tons of fake blood, prosthetic limbs, and of course, pig intestines. Incredible. This ultimate edition dvd has pretty much anything a zombie fan could want: three seperate cuts of the movie, plus a long and informative documentary that details the making of the film, has modern interviews with the cast, and is generally pretty fucking cool. I received the Dawn of the Dead director's cut on VHS for Christmas 1998 from my brother Matt, and it was one of the best gifts ever. You can provide someone with the same happiness by buying this dvd here.

WORLD WAR Z by Max Brooks

Max Brooks (son of Mel,) has come from out of nowhere to be one of the predominant authorities on the undead, and is now taking the elements of zombie fiction that we all know and love, and steering it into exciting, uncharted territory. First he wrote the Zombie Survival Guide, which is both a really fun way of looking at all the classic conventions of the zombie, and a ludicrously detailed guide on how to survive the coming undead apocalypse. He then followed it up with World War Z: an Oral History of the Zombie War, which totally knocked me on my ass with the sheer power of its awesomeness. The book is written in the form of a postwar survivors account, the idea is that the author has travelled around the world years after humanity was able to narrowly survive a long and bloody war against millions of undead, and he interviews various people - scientists, soldiers, politicians, civilians, and more - both to hear their personal accounts of what happened to them during this horrible time, and to get to the bottom of both how and why this zombie holocaust was ever able to happen, and how humanity managed to turn the tide and retake the planet just when everything seemed to have been lost. This book is insanely detailed, it covers many different aspects of the war, from the experiences of various soldiers in some of the gruesome battles that they were involved in, to government officials describing in detail the various reasons why they failed in stopping the apocalypse before it really took a turn for the worse, or the interesting ways that the political system functioned during the crisis. There is plenty of Bush-era paranoia and government mistrust which allows World War Z to function as a superb political allegory and provide plenty of social commentary and satire and this, and not people being devoured, is what makes any zombie fiction great (although the people-devouring helps too.) Also, Brad Pitt's Plan B productions secured the rights to the film version of World War Z which is being developed right now by director Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace) from a script by J. Michael Straczynski, and from all accounts it is going to kick unholy amounts of ass. Buy World War Z here.

THE WALKING DEAD by Robert Kirkman

Robert Kirman has done something very special with this ongoing series from Image Comics: he's created a perfect Romero-esque apocalyptic universe, populated it with some very real, interesting characters who occupy various positions on an increasingly grey moral scale, and then instead of attempting to cram the narrative into a 2 hour movie, he has allowed their story to play out as the weeks stretch into months and years and they are forced to attempt to survive in this nightmarish world. The last I checked in with how the story is currently progressing, things were looking extremely grim. There is not very much left of the once-diverse cast of survivors led by Officer Rick Grimes. Absolutely no one is safe in this book, not even Rick: as he is forced to commit increasingly dark deeds in order to ensure the survival of his family and the people that he has commited to protect, and is still not always successful in preventing extreme devastation from being inflicted on himself and others. One thing this book does really well is really explore the depths of depravity that lies dormant inside everyone, and how otherwise good people can commit terrible atrocities when all of our social rules and regulations are taken away from us. This is what sets the George Romero Dead films above any other in the genre, (except maybe Twilight of the Dead, which kind of sucked,) and it's something that Robert Kirkman has accomplished here in spades. Whether your possible target for this gift reads graphic novels or not, any fan of horror fiction, or really any intelligent, sane person, will love the Walking Dead. If they don't, then you should stop being friends with them, because they don't deserve you. Or if they are part of your family, cut them off for a minimum of one year, because that's the only way they'll learn that you take this shit seriously. Buy the Walking Dead here.

Well that's the end of the list. Sure, there's plenty more zombie goodness I could add in here: Shaun of the Dead for instance, but everyone knows Shaun is amazing and mostly everyone has seen it so I don't feel like I should have to tell you about it. Or I also could also mention something like Return of the Living Dead, but it's a little known fact that Return of the Living Dead fucking blows. So enjoy your holidays everyone and eat as much food as you can. It will wind up being a comforting memory someday when you are locked in your attic with a few remaining cans of creamed corn for nourishment, and the people that used to be your loving family are scratching at the entrance at all hours of the day, desperate to break in and eat your intestines.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Akonnot stop listening to this song.

The musical stylings of Akon are perfect for people like me, who have very little understanding of what actually constitutes good hip hop. He has racked up an impressive number of hits (and probably a ridiculous amount of money) in the last few years by following a very simple formula where he has someone do some rapping over a synthy beat and then sings a hook in the chorus that is so catchy and drenched in auto-tune that you are forced to give him all your money. He also made a splash in the tabloid world last year when he dry humped a 14-year-old a few weeks before he threw a kid. You stay classy Akon. Anyways it is very likely that his new album, Freedom, is an attempt to clean up his image a little after these unfortunate incidents, as there is really nothing controversial at all about it. It is really catchy though, and I kind of love it. It's sort of a combination of Eurotrash techno, R&B from the future, and pure pop in a cheap disguise trying to convince you that it's hip hop, even though it's really obvious that it's not, but you don't want to say anything about it in case it becomes awkward.

FUN FACT: it took me approximately two hours to come up with the appropriate bad pun I would use as the title to this post. I feel like it was time well spent.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

i need some motivation.

Well I have certainly been pretty lazy recently when it comes to this blog. I make no excuses (but for the record this is due to jetlag, some personal issues, and chronic, crippling laziness.) Anyways I need a motivational speech to get me out of this funk. But not just any motivational speech. I need the motivationyest speech that was ever given. What do you say, internet??

I feel much better.

Monday, December 8, 2008

momma's boy.

Chromeo are another group that I now love, but have avoided listening to until really recently, literally for no reason other than the fact that I am an idiot. And these guys are from my fucking hometown. I suck.

Friday, December 5, 2008

they have a secret world in the twilight.

Sometimes I am really terrible at discovering new music. I generally try to avoid bands that are receiving hype from the music press out of general principle, and friends of mine can even tell me over and over again about bands that I would like and should be listening to, but I usually end up just not listening, and waiting to hear artists that I like through a more organic process. Admittedly, its a flawed and rather closed minded way of learning about new music, and as a result, I tend to miss out on some bands that I really should have been listening to months, if not years before. M83 is one of those bands, their record that came out this year, Saturdays=Youth is fantastic, and I find that I am actually kind of annoyed at myself that I didn't start listening to this French shoegaze band a long time ago. So here's Kim and Jessie by M83, one of the best songs I've heard in a long time, which also has a pretty cool video:

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

techno viking.

This video is both the reason I love Europe, and the reason I love the internet.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sarah Palin, turkey killer.

God bless Sarah Palin. As you might know, I had been having a hard time accepting the fact that she was no longer going to be in the public eye to the extent to which I had become accustomed, but this damn lady just will not go away, and is now making TV appearances that are approaching David Lynch levels of surreal weirdness. And I am loving every minute of it (except those minutes that involve violent, graphic, animal death.)

If you haven't seen this already, Palin appeared at a turkey farm in Alaska to perform the annual ritual of pardoning a turkey before thanksgiving, saving it from the merciless slaughter that unfortunately befalls the vast majority of its brethren around this time of year. Then once the pardoning ceremony had been completed, she proceeded to give a television interview while behind her, someone continued to slaughter turkeys in full view of the camera. If you can stomach it, then check it out:


-The turkey killer in the background who seems aware of the fact that he should not be doing what he is doing, and seems to be waiting for someone to tell him to stop. When no one does, he decides the best course of action is to continue massacring the turkeys while the one of the most famous women on the planet blathers on ten feet away from him without a care in the world.

-When Palin jokingly says that she "certainly will probably invite criticism for even doing this too, but at least this was fun," as a turkey in the background struggles against the guy cutting its fucking head off.

I mean, at this point, this has to be on purpose right? This is clearly some Machiavellian plot to remain in the public consciousness until she makes her White House run in 2012 right? She can't actually be this dumb, can she?


Sunday, November 23, 2008

I am a grown man and I listen to:

David Archuleta.

American Idol's absolute dominance in the world of television ratings has always perplexed and frustrated me. How is it that fantastic shows like Freaks and Geeks, Arrested Development, or Firefly are cruelly cancelled after a few measly episodes, and other shows like Battlestar Galactica or 30 Rock consistently stuggle to find an audience, while a glorified karaoke competition becomes a pop culture institution, effortlessly attracts millions of viewers for every episode and easily crushes all of its competition? My frustration at its massive popularity notwithstanding, I can no longer deny that the American Idol competition has turned out some pretty fantastic singers, a few of whom have become bigtime guilty pleasures of mine. I could write an entire novel about my enjoyment of Kelly Clarkson, Chris Daughtry, or Jordin Sparks, and the shame and embrassment that this causes me, but the most humiliating Idol star that I find myself consistently enjoying is season 7 runner up and tween-pop sensation David Archuleta.

David is one of thost artists that I really don't want to enjoy - I don't want strangers to hear his souful pop tunes blasting out of my headphones on the subway, and I would really rather not have to take to this blog to write about the reasons that I genuinely enjoy his music, but if I were to say that Crush is not an absolutely amazing song, or that I did not download David's self-titled solo album, then I would be a dirty, stinking liar, because it is, and I did.

Now, while I can't embed his video here for copyright reasons, I can embed the following video that I found on Best Week Ever, and perhaps even regain a tiny bit of my self-respect (although this is still unlikely.) For even though I can openly admit to enjoying the music of David Archuleta, the sadness of these little girls is like a ray of sunshine beaming onto my cruel, black heart:

Their misery sustains me.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

i wanna be with you everywhere.

Discussion of the best Fleetwood Mac album pretty much starts and ends with their 1977 masterpiece Rumours, and with good cause - it's a pretty fucking great album. But 1987's Tango in the Night is also really really good. Although this was the last album they recorded with their most well-known lineup, they were still were one of the few bands who came of age in the 70s that managed to survive and even thrive during the following decade, and it's interesting to hear how they incorporated certain sonic elements of the period into their sound. Tell Me Lies is probably the most well known song off the record, but my favourite is definitely Christine McVie's Everywhere.

Not only is Everywhere a great song, but one of my favourite pastimes is creating alternate, dirty lyrics to popular songs, and this is a great one for that. The best is probably "I wanna pee on you everywhere," but I would also accept "I wanna pee in my underwear," or "I wanna urinate in your hair."

Also, what in God's name is going on in this video?? Who approved this? Only in the 80's would someone think that this video was a good idea. I blame cocaine.

Monday, November 17, 2008

the British are weird.

There is this strange phenomenon here in England where lots of classic films get remade for the stage. For instance, there is an adaptation of Rain Man starring Josh Hartnett. There is an Edward Scissorhands musical. A stage version of Wizard of Oz. And that's all well and good, but after a certain point it starts to get a little bizarre:

Sunday, November 16, 2008

pop quiz, hotshot.

What do you do when you are awake at 4:30 in the morning, trying to acclimate yourself to a foreign timezone, and the person you are sharing a hotel room starts blasting Phil Collins' 80s hit Sussudio? So, what do you do? What do you do??

The answer is nothing, because Sussudio is fucking amazing. Even if it does bring back disturbing memories of Christian Bale's threesome scene from American Psycho.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

jetlagged thoughts on 30 Rock.

So today I arrived back in the UK, where I will be spending the next several weeks on band business. The flight was pretty good - special thanks to the cool flight attendant who kept giving me bottles of wine, even as we were being served our breakfast danish and yogurt. I never knew his name, but damnit, I will never forget that man. Besides getting inappropriately drunk, I also spent a good chunk of the 6 hours it took to get here catching up on the new season of 30 Rock, and in an effort to remain relevant as a blogger despite the fact that I'm going to be pretty busy over the next little while with my real job, I thought I would weigh in with my thoughts on that.

I've mentioned before that 30 Rock is easily one of the best shows on television, and up until now, has gone largely unnoticed by the large audiences that it needs to attract in order to remain on the air. However, the show has been racking up Emmy awards, and over the summer Tina Fey became a bit of a culural sensation with her Sarah Palin impression on the resurgent SNL, so it seems like 3o Rock is poised to finally attract the huge audience numbers that it deserves. Yet its clear that this is something that is weighing heavily on Fey and the rest of the writers on the show, as it seems to me that the first few episodes have been designed to introduce the show's characters and unique brand of humour to new viewers. While I understand the need to do this, this is just a bit frustrating to people like me who have been watching and loving the show from the very beginning. This is not to say that the first few episodes haven't been solid, I just sometimes wish the show could return to the simplicity that made it so great in the first season (which if you haven't seen it, is an utter comedic masterpiece. I recently rewatched it and was consistently shocked at how often I was reduced to fits teary-eyed hysterics.) For instance, I definitely enjoyed Oprah's cameo as herself in episode 2, and Jennifer Aniston's turn as a crazy, hat designing, sexual deviant in episode 3 was also pretty great, but I feel like over the last 2 seasons the show has relied way too much on stunt casting in order to drive in ratings, while some of the weekly characters, specifically Scott Adsit's depressed producer Pete, or Lonny Ross's hilarious Josh Girard, are being criminally underused.

Anyways, I'm not claiming that 30 Rock has jumped the shark or anything, I just wish that more people watched the show so it didn't have to try so hard to get people to watch it. That being said, a flawed 30 Rock is still better than 98% of what is on television these days, and despite my trepidation, I am still really excited to see what the rest of this season has in store. So if you don't watch it already, I give this show my highest possible recommendation, please start watching it so it doesn't get cancelled and replaced with a show starring Jim Belushi whose main theme is that men = stupid. We already know that, Jim. Let's move on.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

i'm down for whatever.

Well, since I've finally passed the century mark in number of posts, I figure I should finally post the song that inspired the name of this blog. The Get Up Kids are not my favourite band, but I do positively associate their music with a particular point in my adolescence which is comforting in many ways, and they did play a part in inspiring me to start playing in bands myself, which has worked out pretty well for me thus far. So here's Action and Action by The Get Up Kids:

Sunday, November 9, 2008

diet Dr Palin.

I have a bit of a confession to make. Although I am incredibly relieved over the results of the US presidential election, I am a little bit sad that the days of Sarah Palin being one of the most visible public figures in the known universe have, at least for now, come to an end. As even though I strongly disagree with the majority of her political beliefs, and think she was ridiculously unqualified to potentially become the second-in-command of America - I am incredibly attracted to her. I tuned into the Vice Presidential debates wanting to see her get demolished by Joe Biden and finally reveal herself to the American public as a know-nothing, inexperienced, living political ploy. Instead I was enraptured by her folksy colloquialisms and every day American charm. I felt like every one of her cheeky winks was directed only at me. Luckily, like Indiana Jones snapping out of his murderous trance after being force fed the blood of Kali by the evil Thugee cult in Temple of Doom, I was able shake off the hypnosis resulting from Palin's idiotic siren song before I moved to Arkansas and became a registered Republican. I was worried for a few weeks that the majority of American voters were going to fall under her spell, and that we were only a few years out from the phrase "don't 'cha know" being used for the first time ever in a Presidential state of the union address, but fortunately I was proved wrong and Palin has since gone back to being the governor of a state that no one really cares about.

But I'm seriously digressing here. My original point was that despite our differing political views, I still have a schoolboy crush on Palin. So I was delighted when after being confronted about the alleged fact that she spent over $100, 000 of RNC money at high end clothing stores purchasing new wardrobes for her and her family before she was unveiled to the public, she responded by insisting that she "never asked for anything more than a diet Dr Pepper once in a while." Whoa, wait a second. Sarah Palin drinks diet Dr Pepper, the most delicious soft drink ever invented? Be still my heart! Even if Palin would make a terrible Vice President (or regular President for that matter,) at least we can all come together in a bipartisan way in appreciation of diet Dr Pepper's cool, refreshing taste and total lack of calories (though its probably worth pointing out that since Palin gave birth only 7 months ago she really has no business enjoying delicious chemical-filled diet soda of any kind.)

Anways, Palin's unquestionably terrible parenting skills aside, I think I know the perfect way that she can remain in the public eye before her inevitable return to the spotlight in four years:

Next up in terms of beautiful conservatives who I don't agree with but would still love to take to the movies: Meghan McCain.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I am a grown man and I listen to:


I can definitely be pretty hard on Madonna sometimes. I've gone over all this before so I'm not going to start ranting about what bugs me about her. All I will say is that in the 1980s, the way she manipulated the media to her advantage and used her blatant sexuality to shock and sometimes outrage the public, helped make her, deservedly, the biggest female pop star of her generation. Today, when she tries to accomplish the same thing with vague, or sometimes completely ignorant political statements, it just comes across as tired and desperate.

That being said though, I can openly admit that Madonna is one of my all time favourite artists. This used to be mostly because of how good her old material is, in particular the one-two punch of Holiday and Lucky Star that opens up her Immaculate Collection are two of the best pop songs of all time. I also dig Ray of Light and Music, but recently I have started listening to 2007's Confessions on a Dance Floor almost nonstop. When it first came out I dismissed it as a Euro-trash guilty pleasure, but the more I listen to it the more I am completely mesmerized by the sublime Stuart Price production, and at this point, to me anyways, this record has been elevated to genius status. I absolutely love it. Of course, Hung Up and Sorry were the massive singles off this record, but the song I have been most obssessed with is Get Together, which was still a number 1 dance hit in the US, and rightfuly so: the moment when the beat drops in at the 3 minute mark is one of my favourite parts in any song ever, and I'm not even kidding.

So once again, Madonna bugs me but I also love her. Its weird, but really, isn't that what love is?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

yes we did.

historic day.

It's funny, just walking around today there is an electricity in the air - today is a historic day and everyone knows it. I have experienced very few days like this in my life, and that feeling is unmistakeable when you and everyone you know are, for better or worse, experiencing a powerful shared experience that you will remember for the rest of your lives. Yes, it's true. Today is my 100th POST ANNIVERSARY SPECTACULAR!!!

I'm just grateful for having been along for the ride. I'd like to thank everyone who drops by occasionally to read this blog, I appreciate each and every one of you for allowing me to continue on with this little project - probably the first time in my life I have been able to write consistently about anything without giving up after a week. My computer setback is behind me now so hopefully I will be able to be as prolific as ever in the coming months. So thank you very much once again and I'm proud to know that you will forever remember where you were and what you were doing on this special, special day.

Oh, and also, the leader of the free world gets elected today so, there's also that. If you are an American I hope you voted.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

papa don't preach.

The first time I ever heard of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's epic masterpiece Preacher, I was perusing through Millenium Library, my favourite Montreal comic shop, when the clerk suggested that I pick it up. I was, and still am, pretty new to the comic book / graphic novel scene and I needed to be convinced, so I asked him what it was about. Without hesitation he responded by saying, "its about three of the coolest characters you could possibly imagine, driving through Texas and kicking ass in such a way that it makes you want to hang out with them forever." I was sold. It was one of the best endorsements I have ever gotten for anything, ever, and Preacher did not disappoint for a second. It was smart, funny, thought-provoking, extremely violent, and I never wanted the insanely epic trials and tribulations of the Reverend Jesse Custer to end.

So given my intense love of the series, I had been more than a little concerned about the long-in-development HBO adaptation of Preacher. On the one hand, HBO could give the series the time it needed to properly develop the characters and storylines, and could get away with all the vulgar language and graphic violence that the comic is known for. However, it was also being developed by Mark Steven Johnson, who wrote and directed Daredevil and Ghost Rider and was probably most well-known as the writer of the classic 90's old guy buddy comedy, Grumpy Old Men. Not exactly the ideal candidate to bring to life one of the most controversial and celebrated comic books ever created. And mark my words, when this project does finally comes to life, it will definitely be controversial. While in my opinion Preacher raises some very important and poignant issues about the notion of religion and its place in society, I imagine some of the more devout Christians in the United States and elsewhere would probably object to, amongst other things, the depiction of a direct descendent of Jesus Christ as a poo-flinging, jibberish-spouting inbred moron. And since it seems like devout Christians, for some reason, get to decide what is and isn't acceptable viewing material for most regular folks, this is definitely going to become a problem for whatever brave company ultimately ends up attempting to bring this darkly comic tale to the big (or small) screen.

The reason I bring all this up is because HBO recently killed its Preacher project, which I thought was pretty much the end of any prospect of seeing Jesse Custer, his wild-hearted girlfriend Tulip, and their hard-drinking Irish vampire pal Cassidy in action anywhere other than the pages where they were created. And maybe its best that it never is adapted. After all, in its current 9 volume state, Preacher is pretty much as perfect a piece of pop culture as you are ever likely to find - there's no way it can be improved upon, so by that logic its just going to get worse if it is reproduced in any other form. The only way I could be convinced and would get excited about a Preacher adaptation would be if the right people were involved...which is why I was pleasantly surprised when the rights were quickly acquired by Columbia Pictures with Sam Mendes attached to direct.

Mendes, director of American Beauty, who I mentioned a few weeks ago in connection to his upcoming Revolutionary Road, is a talented director that I really admire, and I am perfectly willing to give him the benefit of the doubt as the creative force behind this project. He's definitely never made anything close to this genre-wise, nor has he attempted anything so epic in scope (he's definitely going to need at least three movies in order to tell this story correctly,) but he is unquestionably an immense talent and has a particularly good eye for casting, which is going to make or break this project. Jon Favreau's Iron Man and Christopher Nolan's the Dark Knight were two recent comic book adaptations whose brilliant casting elevated the source material to new heights, and Zack Snyder's Watchmen (another seemingly unadaptable graphic novel that is improbably on its way to theatres,) appears to have succeeded on that front as well, so if Preacher is going to work it is going to have to be perfectly cast.

But who should make up that cast? Here's my Preacher film adaptation cast wishlist:

Rev. Jesse Custer
In many ways this is the toughest casting decision, as this needs to be dead on, and its not going to be easy to find an actor that can effectively portray this extremely bad ass, supernatural power-wielding Southern preacher with the proper mix of humour, charm, and emotional gravity. I think the obvious choice here would be Johnny Depp, as he looks just like the character and has that quirky sensibility that could really work for a project as bizarre as this one. You could definitely argue that Depp is too old to get the part, but then again, I don't think Johnny Depp ages at the same rate as regular humans (he calls us normies.) If you absolutely had to go with someone younger, there are very few actors that spring to mind with the chops to make the character their own, and also be able to handle the physicality and the numerous action set pieces that this is going to require. Joaquin Phoenix? Ryan Gosling maybe? Heath Ledger would have been a fantastic choice so there's another reason why its sad that he's not around anymore. Tough call. I would be happy to see either Depp or Phoenix get the role, but Depp apparently just got paid about 9 billion dollars to star in the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, and Phoenix I guess has retired from acting to focus on "his music." What a wanker. I guess Gosling gets it by default but as much as I like him as an actor I'm not convinced he could pull it off. I will probably think of someone perfect for this as soon as this post is published, then in an Orwellian fashion I will erase what I'm writing right now and claim that was what I thought all along. So I guess I'll just move along then.

When you read a character description that says, "drunken Irish vampire," one name should immediately spring to mind: Colin Farrell. He could definitely do it, but I think the more interesting choice here would be the fantastic Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz.) He's definitely got the high geek factor and I get the sense that he would appreciate the gravity of the project, and although he's never played anything like this before I have a feeling he could knock this role out of the park. Every character in Preacher is ridiculously nuanced and layered, and Cassidy is maybe the epitome of this, but Pegg proved that he had mad range in the genre-bending Shaun and I know he could do it. As a sidenote I'm really excited to see what he brings the role of Scotty in JJ Abrams upcoming Star Trek. That was a pretty inspired casting choice to add to what was already a really interesting group of actors, and I can't wait to see how that plays out. Then again, Simon Pegg could be cast to portray a sympathetic, lonely, misunderstood Paul Bernardo and I would still watch it.

Tulip O'Hare
Ideally, for this role you would be able to go back in time and use circa-1995 Patricia Arquette, as Tulip is similar in many ways to Patricia's character of Alabama in the brilliant True Romance. In any case, since time travel hasn't been invented...yet...I am going to go ahead and call this one for Battlestar Galactica's Katie Sackhoff. Her great portrayal of Starbuck has showed us more than the requisite amount of spunky heroine-ness that would be required to bring this character to life accurately, plus she is blonde and is quite easy on the eyes. She also has the unparalelled geek factor working in her favour. This one is a no contest.

Herr Starr
It is going to be almost impossible to find an actor who not only has the range to play this character, but is also willing to humiliate themselves and have some fun with the role, as Herr Starr suffers pretty much every physical degradation you can possibly imagine in his never-ending quest to screw over Jesse Custer. At times this actor is going to have to portray a cold, calculating super soldier in some insane action sequences, and then, often in the same scene, switch to the broadest possible physical comedy. Nevertheless, he's an amazing character, and although there a few actors that could conceivably take it on, (Ed Harris or previous Mendes-collaborator Kevin Spacey for instance,) I would love to see Patrick Stewart in this role. Not only does he already look exactly like Starr, but it would just be amazing to hear an enraged Captain Picard utter classic lines like: "you turned me into a homosexual, you unbelievable prick!" while choking out a stunned and incompetent lackey. We also know from his hilarious appearance on Extras that he is able to poke fun at his image, so I think this would be brilliant casting.

Saint of Killers
Ideally you would want Clint Eastwood for this, but since he's too busy winning academy awards these days its pretty unlikely you would see him take this part. In a pinch you could also go with Kill Bill's David Carradine, but you know what, I'm going to go with the sleeper casting choice and pick Javier Bardem for this one. He played a savage, unstoppable killer pretty convincingly in No Country for Old Men and I think he would be great for this.

The role of Arseface would be played by this guy. Why? Because fuck him, that's why.

But seriously, Jack Black would play Arseface.

No matter who ends up getting cast in this thing, I will very likely be there opening weekend to see Sam Mendes' Preacher adaptation. Hopefully it will live up to my already ridiculously high expectations. And if you are still reading this and you have never read Preacher, please buy it immediately and check it out, I can almost guarantee that you will love it. Unless you are a devout Christian, you object to graphic violence, or it makes you uncomfortable to hear people say things like, "Ah Demi - I do hope I will have the pleasure of urinating on your cleavage later?" If that's the case than you should probably try and avoid Preacher at all costs.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

its too late to apologize.

For those of you that have been checking back at Action and Action for the last few weeks and were wondering why it hasn't been updated, I sincerely apologize. I was well on my way to my most productive month as a blogger yet, but unfortunately there incident which I will not go into...resulting in the loss of my computer, which has still not been resolved. I should be up and running again shortly though so hopefully I can be back next month with the same frequency that all my readers, (yes, both of you,) have become accustomed to.

I suppose I needed a little bit of a break from my internet addiction anyways. Like that heroin addict that tries Methadone for a few weeks, knowing full well that pretty soon he's going to be getting back into that awful stuff with a renewed vigor and sense of purpose.

Also, because I think my laptop was overheating and projecting radiation directly into my groin area whenever I was using it, most likely eliminating any chance I may have had at having children without the aid of costly and intrusive medical science. So maybe it was about time to get a new one. Blessing in disguise anyone? No? OK then.

So in any case, I'll be back soon. Thanks for your patience. Except those of you that have stopped reading my blog just because I didn't post anything for a few weeks. You people can go straight to hell.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I am a grown man and I listen to:

Britney Spears.

Britney's career over the last 3 years has been an absolute whirlwind. After spending the majority of the decade as one of the world's most successful pop singers, as well as one of the most sought after sexual icons of her generation, she suffered a little bit of a fall from grace - actually it was more like a plunge into the icy depths of bald-headed, child-neglecting insanity. Even though Blackout, the album she released at the height of her craziness, was really really good, mostly everyone, myself included, had written her off as another former child star who had succumbed to the pressures of ridiculous superstardom.

So in light of all this, Britney's comeback in the last few months has been utterly astounding. It started with very small steps: a guest appearance on a popular sitcom, a non-disastrous appearance at the MTV Video Awards, and finally last week her comeback was cemented with the release of her new video, Womanizer, in which she looks once again like the iconic sex symbol she once was. Its almost enough to make me forget that just a year ago she looked like this:


I was a little ambivalent about the song itself, but since I first heard it, it has wormed its way deep into my consciousness and I now think it is amazing. The song and video have already found unprecedented success, so it looks like we'll be getting plenty more from the lady who once somehow managed to make this guy look like the father of the year. And I couldn't be happier for her.

Monday, October 13, 2008


I've been trying as hard as humanly possible not to continually comment on the absolute insanity that is the US presidential election, but this video was far too good to pass up. I'm not going to rant or say anything snarky about this, as its really not even funny, its actually quite terrifying. I think the United States should just split into two countries and be done with it.

via Shabooty

It's really hard to imagine that 6 weeks ago, barely anyone had any idea who Sarah Palin is, and now she is one of the most famous human beings on the planet. Anything featuring her is going viral almost instantly, for example the above clip was uploaded 4 days ago and has now been viewed 1.2 million times. Or this hilarious clip of Palin getting viciously booed at a Philadelphia Flyers game which has had almost 1 million views in two days. It's objectively fascisnating, but if she wins on November 4th, I'm taking the first space elevator off this damn planet.

steampunk ray guns!!!

For those of you who aren't massive geeks like I am, steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction that usually takes place in 19th century Victorian England, and is generally credited as having been popularized in mainstream fiction with William Gibson's The Difference Engine, and even moreso with Alan Moore's the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (the graphic novel, not the awful Sean Connery movie.)

WETA Workshop is Peter Jackson's special effects company, and along with Stan Winston studios, is probably the coolest company working in practical effects today. They have constructed an amazing line of hand-crafted steampunk rayguns that are so awesome my head actually just exploded. Check them out:

via Geekologie

To find out more, click here, and I would also like to remind everyone that Christmas is rapidly approaching, and Lord Cockswain's Ray-Blunderbuss "The Unnatural Selector," is selling for only $7,900! It's a steal!

Oh, and also check out Steampunk Star Wars, a really neat reimagining of the Star Wars universe in a steampunk context.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

why do I cuss like a sailor?

I was just perusing my last couple of posts and noticed that I use profanity in almost every one of them - a disturbing trend which I have now realized traces all the way back to the beginning of this blog (for example, the title of my third post is F*CKING F*CK.) At first I didn't think much of it, but it has slowly dawned on me that for most modern day, enlightened individuals, this isn't exactly standard procedure. How can I really expect to sound intelligent or be taken seriously if I talk like some kind of crude street urchin?

I've examined the vastly superior blogs of other like-minded, beer-bellied layabouts and I can't help but feel that sometimes, instead of coming across as entertaining or thought provoking I can be a bit vulgar and boorish. Or is it that my colourful vernacular is the product of a different sort of pop cultural landscape that just doesn't exist anymore? I thought I would try to examine the origins of my sailor-like speech patterns and see if I could come up with some kind of greater explanation for what it all means in a larger, social context. At this point it seems unlikely that I will be able to do that, but bear with me here, I feel like rambling. Let's see what I can come up with.

Seeing as how today I am a shameless, filthy internet addict, its difficult for me to think back of what life was like before we were all blessed with this wondrous, porn-filled miracle. But although I may have came of age with the internet, I was definitely a product of the VCR generation. In addition to some basic human interaction and moderate outdoor activity, one pastime I had when I was younger was to close myself in my room for hours on end and obsessively watch my favourite movies over and over again. In one of these films, I could derive hours and hours of entertainment, as I watched them repeatedly until the scripts and soundtracks were burned directly onto my brain. A few that I can think of off the top of my head are Aliens, Terminator 2, Predator, Predator 2, Total Recall, Hard to Kill, Under Siege, Die Hard, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, From Dusk Till Dawn, and Desperado. There is definitely a common thread to this random sampling of movies that the mid-nineties me obsessed over: each one of them was rated R, filled with foul language, and featured scenes of extreme violence (and in most cases, nudity, the most glorious of all the forbidden movie vices.)

This is one of the reasons that I get really frustrated in today's stifling, politically correct, artistic vacuum. There are politicians out there who seem to believe that playing Grand Theft Auto will cause the next generation of children to turn into a group of animal-torturing, psychotic serial killers. This same sort of backlash has been occuring in pop culture for decades, like the 80s and 90s, where spotlight-loving doomsayers like Tipper Gore denounced certain films and records that they deemed to be unacceptable. Or the 60s when a nation of parents recoiled in horror when their baby boom offspring were listening to music that encouraged free sex and drug use. Or the 50s when those same people listened to Elvis, and their parents were disgusted by the success of a sexually explicit, black music-imitating, southern pretty boy. I could go on. The only difference seems to be that today, the politicians are actually winning, and slowly but surely, our culture is being homogenized into a family-friendly, PC heck hole.

Of course, I am a shining example of someone who was constantly inundated with sex, violence, and foul language from the time I was very young, and for all intents and purposes, I think I turned out alright: to this day, I have never been in a real fight with anyone (and seeing as how I am a passive, socially-awkward nerd, let's hope this never changes.) I suppose one of the only tangible effects my childhood indulgences have had on me is in my somewhat vulgar speech patterns. The films of Quentin Tarantino probably had the biggest influence on me in this respect, as even as a youngster I loved the way that he used language, with crude threats of violence, colourful epiphets (that occasionally even ventured into blatant sexism, racism or homophobia,) and pop culture references that came together and became a sort of modern American poetry.

I rewatched Reservoir Dogs in my first year of University after not having seen it for several years, and I was actually pretty shocked at the level of violence and profanity in it, not to mention the fact that it was a much more bleak and nihilistic than I remembered. In fact, I distinctly remember feeling strange that I had watched it so much as a child without ever being negatively affected by some of the film's more visceral moments. But that's just what the reactionaries that like to denounce such things don't understand: even a small child recognizes the difference between fantasy and reality. The inability to do so is just as likely an indication of a mental illness and not proof positive that Satan-loving film makers and musicians are destroying minds with their perverse and shameful "art."

*Though just to clear things up, I'm not advocating showings of Reservoir Dogs to groups of small children, just suggesting that it is more a parent's responsibility to judge what is best for their child, and not leave it up to a movie studio or the government.

Today, both in an effort to market their films to the widest possible audience, and to pre-emptively disarm any potential controversy that could prevent them from making the largest amount of money possible, most mainstream movies are streamlined for a family audience, even if they might have the illusion that they are just the opposite. The ultimate example of this unfortunate practice is in Bruce Willis' limp 2007 sequel, Live Free or Die Hard. As I mentioned before, the original Die Hard is one of my favourite movies of all time, and part of the reason an entire generation of people loved and obsessed over this movie was because of the graphic violence and hilariously vulgar language spewed out by Willis' iconic John McClane character. This is why I was disappointed when I finally saw the film, which unlike any other in the franchise, had been rated PG-13, and saw an unrecognizable, Mr. Clean-resembling Willis, dispatching baddies with the Mac guy in tow, without a drop of blood or a cuss word to be found. He wasn't even allowed to fully utter the signature catchphrase of the series. I was not impressed, but I wish I could say that this travesty had an effect on critics or audiences, as it scored an impressive 81% on and grossed 134 million dollars domestically.

So it seems the dreaded MPAA has won the culture war, and now the violent, vulgar films that I enjoyed when I was younger are quickly becoming the minority, replaced instead by soulless imitations that are more concerned with toy merchandising and fast-food chain endorsement than any type of artistic expression, to be sold en masse to an audience that is all too willing to shell out its hard-earned money no matter what the quality of the product they are purchasing. It is a depressing time to be a voracious consumer of pop culture, although there are definitely a few mavericks out there like Edgar Wright or Neil Marshall, as well as some major Hollywood players like Judd Apatow and of course, Tarantino, who realize that you can still make money without pandering to the widest possible audience or the lowest common denominator, and are attempting to bring back the type of movie that I loved so much when I was younger.

Which brings me back to my original point, if I ever actually had one, which was whether I swore too much, and the answer is: probably. But you know what, if that one simple question gives me a reason to go off on such a disjointed, nonsensical rant, then damnit, I'm going to relish the opportunity. As I mentioned, I was in the mood to ramble, and looks like it was mission accomplished on that particular front; special thanks to the three of you who stuck around for the finale. I guess I just feel passionate about some things. In the future, I will continue to rant about things that I feel are important, or bring you the random weirdness and quirky humour that you've come to expect from me, but in an effort to reach the widest possible audience, I will try not to say fuck quite so much. I've got to make a living somehow.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Revolutionary Road.

An award-baiting drama by American Beauty's Sam Mendes about American postwar suburban angst that reunites Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet?

Oh fuck yeah.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

turing trouble.

The Turing Test, designed by mathematician Alan Turing in 1950, is a test administered to machines to determine whether they are capable of displaying human intelligence. The way it works is a moderator poses a set of questions and basically has a short conversation with a human and a computer counterpart. Afterward the moderator has to point out which one was which, and if he fails to identify the machine correctly, it has passed the test. While no artificial intelligence has ever passed the Turing Test, the idea is that this is ultimately going to be the indication of when a computer has become self-aware, or as I like to call it, the "time to run away to the apocalypse cabin" alarm.

This Sunday, 6 computer programs - with creepy names like Brother Jerome and Eugene Goostman - are going to be "speaking" to interrogators in an attempt to pass the test. I won't be there personally but I imagine it will look something like this:

Yeah...we're pretty much fucked.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

puking puppets.

Beans and Bueller are two Montreal artists that I have been friends with for a few years now. They work in a few different areas of the art world, like filmmaking, but their main area of expertise is puppetry - imagine if you were to exhume and reanimate Jim Henson's corpse and force it to smoke PCP in a dark room for 3 weeks and then set it to work creating the most fucked up things it could imagine with its drug-addled zombie brain - that's the type of stuff that they make. Like this following video:

Monday, October 6, 2008

Alive in Joberg.

Here's a short film I found called Alive in Joberg directed by Neill Blomkamp, who at one point was going to direct the Peter Jackson produced Halo adaptation. He has a great feel for visual effects and the film, like most great science fiction, comments on our own society and how it functions in an intelligent allegorical way. I personally love sci-fi that's very much grounded in the reality that we live in, so I think Blomkamp's use of handheld, documentary style footage really adds something special to the tone of the piece. I'm really interested to see what he could do with a feature film and a major studio budget. Here it is:

found via Ain't it Cool News.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

flirting on the shoreline.

R Kelly and Broken Social Scene. Two musical entities who, at least on the surface, share little to nothing in common (although one commonality that they do share is that I count myself as big fans of both.) The fact that I get such enjoyment out of both of these artists, who live on two opposite sides of an increasingly chaotic musical spectrum, speaks volumes of my extremely erratic musical tastes - but what would happen were one to combine these two unique sounds?

The answer is: it would be pretty fucking awesome. So check out this brilliant mashup of Broken Social Scene's 7/4 Shoreline and R Kelly's I'm a Flirt:

There's something inexplicably pleasing to my brain that occurs when I hear T-Pain singing when usually I should be hearing Leslie Feist.

This was made by the fantastic the Hood Internet, who have a huge cache of similarly bizarre remixes that almost always come out better than the sum of their parts. You could, and should, spend the rest of the day exploring some of the other stuff they've done.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

what's the frequency, Kenneth?

If you still have never seen 30 Rock, I implore you to drop everything you are doing and start watching season 1 immediately. Over the last 2 years its been consistently one of the sharpest, most well-written comedies on television, and it also has probably one of the best casts ever assembled. You can say what you want about Alec Baldwin and Tracy Morgan, who are both ridiculously hilarious on the show (Tina Fey is certainly no slouch either,) but Jack McBrayer's Kenneth the page character has been one of the bright spots in the bizarre cast of supporting characters since the shows inception.

The wide-eyed innocence that naive country boy Kenneth maintains in the face of the increasingly insane shenanigans that are continually going on at the NBC building never fails to get some of the biggest laughs of any given episode, and McBrayer has managed to perfect the same sort of comedic timing in his recent movie role in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and in the following videos which I found on FunnyorDie:

See more Jack McBrayer videos at Funny or Die

part II is here and part III is here.

plus, as another excuse to post something about Mariah Carey, catch Jack in the video for Touch My Body.

listen to me, I'm a celebrity.

Hello. I am an apathetic 18-24 year old who has never participated in the democratic process. All I want to do is smoke marijuana and watch MTV all day. I know nothing about any world issues outside of what I read in US magazine. Oh, look. Here comes a group of random celebrities. I wonder if they have anything to say about my empty, meaningless lifestyle?

Thank you celebrities. Without your condescending, arrogant words of advice, I would never have known that I can participate in the selection of a new leader for my country. Hooray.


Seriously though, I am having a hard time deciding whether to get angry about this, or concede that there are actually some people out there that will be encouraged to vote by this video. But at the same time, if a person has to be told by Jennifer Aniston to vote, should this person even be allowed to vote in the first place? Think about it.

I still did enjoy Sarah Silverman and Jonah Hill, though I would much rather listen to Craig Ferguson's thoughts on the subject.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I am a grown man and I listen to:

Mariah Carey.

In an effort to start producing more content for Action and Action, I thought I would attempt to start some recurring features (keyword: attempt,) beginning with today's "I am a grown man and I listen to." This is an idea that occurred to me today as I walked around Montreal trying to get somebody to fix my frozen HTC touch (which in the wake of the iPhone's release, is about as appealing and useful to me as a piece of human excrement that has the ability to make phone calls,) all the while listening to Mariah's massive 2005 comeback album, the Emancipation of Mimi.

Although I have been a fan for many years, I have been especially enjoying this album as of late, as it really is remarkable to me that she was able to put out a 10 million selling album only a few years removed from the Glitter debacle (and her ensuing mental breakdown,) and another lackluster selling album in Charmbracelet. I've found out the hard way that the music industry can be pretty unforgiving, and at her age you definitely don't get too many second chances, so I think it's pretty cool that she was able to score her biggest ever US hit with We Belong Together:

As Mariah recently passed Elvis on the list of most number 1 hits in the rock era with 18 (she is second only to the Beatles who have 20,) she definitely has some other songs that are worth listening to. Like this one. And this one. And this one. And despite the fact that I am a grown man, I enjoy each and every one of them. Mariah Carey, I salute you. You are still probably crazy though.