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.