Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Shane's Most Hated Movies of 2008

Well, since I've established the movies I enjoyed from this year, it's time to find out what I thought was God awful. Spoiler alert and whatnot.

5. Doomsday
Had I known when I was about to watch this movie that it's basically a jumbled bunch of bullshit I probably would have tolerated it more. As it stands, I was overall unimpressed by this hodgepodge of movies themes and cliches.

The movie is about a killer plague that breaks out and forces Great Britain to wall off the infected area to save the rest of society. Thirty years later the virus resurfaces and the government deploys a crack team of specialists into the quarantined area to search for a possible cure. It sounds interesting, but it basically feels like every post-apocalyptic movie I've seen. It rips off movies like 28 Days Later, Resident Evil, Escape from New York, The Running Man, Underworld, Gladiator, and the Mad Max trilogy most of all. Some would say that it's an homage to these films, and I say it's not much of an homage if it doesn't claim its own identity and feels like a cluster of films edited together. It starts off as a virus apocalypse, then a futuristic zombie film, then an 80's wasteland film complete with rebel punks in asinine make-up and outfits, next it becomes a hokey medieval flick complete with castle and an unfair battle for freedom against a huge gladiator-style opponent, then they wrap it up with a Road Warrior desert highway chase. Admittedly, it has its moments of ridiculous stunts and gore, and in the right company it could be entertaining to watch and laugh about, but in the end some amount of originality would have been nice.

4. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
Yet another example that Hollywood will eventually destroy everything you love. And I really do love the first Mummy film; I loved the characters, the story, the setting, the villain, the action, the hammy dialogue, and the special effects. It was all good, well-balanced fun. Then the second film came along and some of the original magic was captured again, but ultimately it was a lesser experience.

Now, the third film is out and it turned out to be as big a cash-in as I had feared. I gave it a chance, and I was willing to forgive the film for not technically having an actually mummy, and that O'Connell's son looks like his younger brother. But I can't forgive the movie for not having Rachel Weisz (thought I respect her for being smart enough to avoid this), and for taking place in China, and including horrendously bad cgi three-headed dragons, and yetis. Goddamn yetis! Brendan Fraser looked impossibly bored with the film and the acting was crap.

I would summarize the plot for you, but I've forgotten most of it. Just know that an evil force is resurrected mistakenly, a yeti kicks a field goal, Rick O'Connell yells at things, his brother in law forgets that he's the comic relief, the world is saved in some convenient way, and you'll wish you had not wasted 90 minutes of your life.

3. Jumper
For me a bad movie is defined more by its wasted potential, because even some of the worst films ever can be entertaining to watch and mock. Jumper is about David Rice, a guy who can teleport anywhere he wishes with just a though. That's a cool power to have. The film follows Rice as he discovers that he is not alone in his gift, and that "Jumpers" are being hunted by "Paladins", and have been for hundreds of years. That sounds like an interesting setup for some epic battles and chases. Wrong! It's actually an excuse for a long and boring backstory for Rice, followed by his boring pursuit of a girl he likes.

Any entertaining action bits are kept to a minimum, and even the film ends as if they want to kick off a series about this. It's like they're teasing us with what's to come. Problem is, I don't give a shit about the characters at all ... at all! Rice is played by Hayden Christensen (whom I would describe as a personality black hole), and is just awful as the lead; his character spends most of the time being a boring ass mooch on society. He has a crush on some girl, thought it's hard to tell since he has the acting range of a waste bin, and when we get to know her we find that she is also completely uninteresting.

The movie is only 88 minutes, and still there were long stretches of nothingness for me to wonder, "When is something fun gonna happen!?". Sadly when the action does pick up, it's disorienting or brief. The best way I can think to improve the film would be to replace Hayden Christensen with someone with more charisma, such as a mannequin glued to a Segway, and then replace all the jumping bits with Nightcrawler's scenes from X-Men 2.

2. College
This movie is not only a terrible sexy teen romp movie, it's a disgrace to comedy in general. It's about some guy named Kevin and his moronic friends who decide to visit a college to find out what college is like and to have a drunken good time. You know how movies (comedies mostly) for the last 30 years or so have depicted college life as an endless party of sex and shenanigans? Well this film pushes that cliche to the edge of human reason, as the three friends sail off in a sea of booze, tits, and disgusting fraternity hazing.

This film is not funny in any way. It's mostly offensive and stupid. In fact, every moment Kevin's fat friend, Carter, was on screen, I wanted to strangle him. I'm going to stop here because the more I think about this movie, the more I can feel my blood pressure rising.

1. The Happening
Once again M. Night Shyamalan got me. He got me with The Village, Lady in the Water, and now this. I really enjoy his earlier work, but lately every film he makes draws me in and then disappoints me, confuses me, or just plain infuriates me.

This movie is about a weird global crisis that makes people kill themselves, and so the film follows a high school teacher (Mark Wahlberg), his family and others as they flee for their lives and try to figure out why this is happening. Even thinking about the plot now, I'm intrigued. If I put myself in the shoes of the characters, it would be terrifying. But it's such a vague premise! People are committing suicide because of something? So...why? Well, I'm gonna ruin it for everyone...it's the trees! Nature is threatened by us and trees are releasing stuff into the air and it causes people to off themselves. What?! Well here's another great movie idea: What if all of a sudden peoples' hair turned into poison? Or for no reason when people drank water their arms and legs fell off? Or ... to quote Freakazoid ... what if suddenly all the air in the world turned to wood!!?

In films like Signs and The Village, Shyamalan would avoid showing us the monster or threat to build suspense and terror, but in this movie it feels stupid and cheap. You have characters talking about and looking at shocking things that are happening off-screen that you can't see. At one point Wahlberg and some survivors are running away from the wind. That doesn't even make sense! Either the film is deliberately not showing you what's scary, or there's nothing to show. And when people are killing themselves in the movie, they do it like robots committing suicide. Sure, that's strange, but if people were doing these things and realized they were doing it, but couldn't stop themselves, then that is terrifying. That sort of thing gets a gut reaction.

This movie took every opportunity to be scary, shocking, and entertaining and flushed it down the toilet. In the end the crisis was ridiculous, the acting and dialogue was cringeworthy, and the movie as a whole was painfully disappointing. It's my fondest wish that someday someone will remake this film scene for scene in a balls out, splatter-fest of over-the-top gore. And I hope they call it It's Really Happening ... or Happen!: The Happening.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Shane's Favorite Movies of 2008

Obviously I can't make a list of the best movies of 2008, cause lord knows I haven't seen all of them. But I'll certainly share my faves of the year. Also, expect a second list counting down the shittiest movies next week. You gotta have some balance, right?

5. Let the Right One In
This movie really took me by surprise. Made in Sweden, it's about a boy named Oskar who falls in love with a girl, named Eli, who moves in next door. Turns out that she's a vampire. I know that sounds kind of straightforward and not so amazing, but trust me, this movie is unique. It's a pity that it didn't get the hype and recognition as Twilight, because it is a much more interesting take on vampires. I can see how some may be turned off by the movie because the characters are strange, the settings are depressing, and the mood of the film is unsettling, but that why it succeeds as a horror film and a tragic story of adolescent love. There is at least one scene in the film that was over-the-top ridiculous. But those moments are far outnumbered by ones that are shocking, gruesome, and terrifying, including a final scene that is bound to leave you agape. I'd recommend it to any lover of horror films, as it's creative and dark film making, and presents one of the creepiest vampires in years.

4. Hellboy 2: The Golden Army
Alright, first off, I know this isn't an amazing movie. It's not going to win awards or change the world, but it was entertaining as hell. With the direction of Del Toro, I found this film to surpass the first one in its vision. The art of the characters and their world is fantastic to look at and it was so refreshing to see so many elaborate costumes and practical special effects used instead of cgi. The last several years have exhausted me with its brief shots of real actors cut together with 20 minutes of a computer animated superheroes participating in elaborate action sequences. With Hellboy, for the most part it was real people interacting with real environments. Just look to the final clockwork battle between Hellboy and Prince Nuada if you don't understand what I mean. Along with the action itself, the characters are all likable (a favourite of mine being Johann Kraus, voiced by Seth MacFarlane). I love how the film is dark and ominous one moment, then humorous and light-hearted the next. All in all it was a genuinely fun film and it left me excited to see how the inevitable third film will play out, as well as any of Del Toro's future projects.

3. Iron Man
Another fantastic comic superhero that hit the big screen with much success. I'll admit that I knew little to nothing about Iron Man before walking into the theatre, but that didn't stop me from being sucked into its world. The casting for the film was fine, but Robert Downey Jr. stole the show as Tony Stark; the rich jerk you can't help but love. It's nice to see a superhero who isn't constantly conflicted with his/her identity, or haunted by a tragic past, or burdened by loved ones who share his/her secret. No, Stark is a man who will fight for a cause with the resources at his disposal, and eat up the spotlight at the same time. Iron Man is a great movie, filled with smart humour, a tight script, and just the right amount of action to set itself apart from the rest.

2. In Bruges
Taking place in... get this... Bruges, this movie tells the story of two Irish hit men, Ken and Ray, who hold up in the city after a job in London goes wrong. With great performances from Ralph Fiennes, Brendon Gleeson, and Colin Farrell the story is filled with tense twist and turns and haunting imagery. Despite being as dark as it is, the film finds a great balance of comedy and drama. There are some really hilarious bits of dialogue, and the interactions between Farrell and Gleeson are great. After some horrendous travesties in the past ("Alexander" for instance), I had almost lost hope in Colin Farrell as an actor, but he gives a funny and moving performance here. The ending builds to some gut-wrenching moments, and this is definitely one of the best films of the year.

1. The Dark Knight
Sorry if it was too obvious that this would be number one, but this is just an awesome movie period, and nothing else comes remotely close to how good it is. Like Hellboy 2, this movie relies more on practical special effects and stunt work and that immediately helps to create a grittier, darker, and more realistic world. So much so, that Gotham is more believable than the New York we see in the Spiderman movies. I know it's weird, but it's true.
The dialogue is sharp, the acting is impressive (Harvey and The Joker in particular), and all the characters are interesting and likable. So it makes more of an impact when things go wrong, and boy do they go wrong. With the pure evil of the Joker, casualties are to be expected. Heath Ledger's role as the Joker was a big deal even before his tragic death, and it only increased the focus on his performance. Despite this, his Joker lives up to all expectations and is a remarkable and nuanced take on one of the greatest villains ever. His presence in the film in accented with ominous sounds and tones that capture the tension perfectly, knowing that anyone he encounters is in danger. Also, I love that we never discover the true origin of the Joker, and it's a great juxtaposition to the fall of Harvey Dent. Which brings us to our next foe.
Dent's transformation into Two-Face is more tragic than any other villain I can think of and it's executed so well alongside the growing fear and hopelessness in Gotham while the Joker spreads his own brand of anarchy. The final look of Two-Face is stunning and proves that Aaron Eckhart was the right man for the job.
In general the film is so great because it captures the right atmosphere, gives us compelling characters, tells a emotionally powerful story, gives us so much to think about, and makes it all believable. Some might say that it's a bad thing for a superhero movie, but the Batman comics are grounded more in a realistic world than most other comics. Gotham is a city where one man's insanity can push him to do unspeakable evils, and another man's will can push him to fight that evil. This film shows us that world and it has proven itself to be a groundbreaking piece of cinema.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Most Unappreciated Super Heroes (that don't suck)

It's not all glitz and glamour in the world of super heroes. In fact, there are dozens if not hundreds of costumed weirdos who don't receive anywhere near the credit they deserve. My criteria for this list was simple mathematics: the overall quality of the character times the amount of recognition he/she receives from his/her peers divided by the square root of their total popularity among us, the reading and/or viewing public. Enjoy.

5. The West Coast Avengers/Avengers West Coast
Originally created simply to keep Avenger Hawkeye out of everyone's hair, the West Coast faction of Earth's Mightiest Heroes got a raw deal right from its inception. Sure, Hawkeye could be pretty annoying but the other Avengers could have treated him a little better than "Hey, why don't you create your OWN awesome team, champ? ...over there."'

Eventually referred to as the Wackos by the snooty East Coast team (who got to keep the name, Avengers), these guys actually did some real good, fighting legitimate villains like Dr. Doom, Ultron and Mephisto. And their ranks weren't always filled out by C-list rejects either. Even Dr. Pym, the Scarlett Witch and Iron Man were members at one time or another. Although the stupid government eventually stuck them with the insufferable US Agent.

On the fan side of things, they managed an impressive 102 issue run along with a couple annuals and one-shots.
Eventually dissolved by the Avengers core team, the last issue is a symphony of pettiness and outrage. Captain America and the Vision in particular are extremely condescending, pointing out the "flaws" of the Wackos (including - get this - "a constantly fluctuating roster"!! those fucking HYPOCRITES) and then lead a vote to disband the team. Iron Man, still a Westie at that point, agrees but only because he wants to break off from the Avengers altogether. And who can blame him? "Earth's Mightiest Heroes" apparently thought of themselves as "Earth's High and Mighty Heroes".

The West Coast Avengers would briefly become Force Works and then nothing. Several of them were absorbed back into the core team and I'll always be pissed that they rejoined them at all.

4. Darkwing Duck
Not taken too seriously because he was a Disney hero, Drake Mallard's dark alter ego was actually a pretty stellar crimefighter. Of course the show was primarily a satire of the super hero genre and was always full of jokes but the tone was still fairly dark for something that was part of The Disney Afternoon. It was a show before ever hitting comics (in the pages of Disney Adventures, at least) but I'm still including it here.
And even within his own world, Darkwing had to suffer the embarrassment of the public and media always preferring cyber boyscout Gizmo Duck. Their relationship was a great take on that of Batman and Superman.

True, he could sometimes be a little overly dramatic and showy but he always got results. St. Canard, Disney's version of Gotham City, could always rest easy with DW on the job.

3. The Scarlet Spider (Ben Reilly)
Look, it wasn't his fault he was a clone. And it wasn't his fault he was believed to be the real Peter Parker for awhile either. This guy was in a lose-lose situation from the moment he first appeared and he always did the very best he could. Not to mention his badass nineties take on the Spider-Man costume with that cool, sleeveless blue hoodie. He also invented "impact webbing" which is something Peter Parker never thought of.

Aside from a couple limited series, he only got his own comic insofar as he was Spider-Man for a brief run of that series. He did the job pretty well too, helping save New York from chaos during the whole Onslaught thing. I've always believed that even though he was a clone of Spider-Man and thus looked exactly the same and had the same powers he could still be used well and stand on his own as a character. Marvel though, had different ideas. Instead of maybe moving him to a new city and developing his own storylines and rogues gallery separate from Spider-Man, they only saw him as a huge reminder of the retarded Maximum Clonage and decided to kill him off. Those punks.

2. Moon Knight
Alright, so anyone who knows me well knows this guy is my favourite Marvel hero so I do have a bit of a bias here. However, the fact remains that even though he did manage to have two different ongoing series (with a six issue limited series in the middle) and now has a new series of his own, people have always seen him as C-list. It's even mentioned (repeatedly) in this new series that the hero community as well as general public and villains don't see him as a respectable hero.

Nowadays, that angle actually works pretty well, only enhancing his reputation as a badass maverick. But still. So many people (you know, stupid people) see him only as a poor man's Batman without bothering to take into account any of the massive differences between the two.

How disrespected was this guy? Well, he actually was a West Coast Avenger for a little while and none of THEM even really liked him. Except for Tigra, who had a thing for him. After leaving that group he did get to be a "reservist" Avenger but he never bothered with them and eventually burned his membership card. (take that, snobs)

The new ongoing series has been very well done so far and while fans such as myself mostly agree he is best kept separate from a lot of the major goings on in the Marvel Universe, I would like to see him be part of SOMETHING. I'm still waiting. He's saved all of New York several times and even once pretty much single-handedly averted World War Three. Show this guy some love.

1. Booster Gold
Now we come to the poster child for disrespected super heroes. He's even been billed as "The Greatest Super Hero You've Never Heard Of". For those who have heard of him, he is known as a self-promoting attention seeker who came from the future because he was too much of a loser in his own time to get noticed. He's been constantly snubbed and outright insulted by members of the Justice League and when he became friends with the second Blue Beetle, Ted Kord, instead of that enhancing his reputation, it actually HURT Kord's.

But Booster is a real hero. Instead of just quitting and heading back to his own time where he could at least be rich if not a hero, he's stuck with it, taking all the slander and jibes in stride. When Doomsday showed up and Superman was yet to make the scene, Booster didn't hesitate to face the monster (an encounter that didn't go so well for him) even though with his knowledge of future events, he must have had some idea of what Doomsday was capable of. He later actually loses an arm in a battle with another powerful being. The guy has balls.

There's a great episode of the Justice League cartoon where, after being talked down to by Batman and ignored by Wonder Woman, Booster actually winds up saving the fabric of reality from...folding in on itself or something but no one's around to see it. It sums up beautifully the career of the world's most unappreciated super hero.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Best Episodes of The Simpsons

OK, so this was a nearly impossible task since we keep the lists short and sweet around here and don't usually touch on things as big as "best" but I felt I was up to the challenge. Naturally, taking one of the most popular shows of all time, with a body of over 300 episodes to choose from is a massive undertaking so I had to do a LOT of preparation for this to ensure I wouldn't be looking at this list in the future and saying "damn, I forgot about that one" or "that one really shouldn't be there."

Also naturally, everyone is going to have their own opinion on this one. Luckily, my opinion is the only one that matters.

Deciding what constitutes a "best episode" is also pretty difficult. I found that many of my absolute favourite moments from the show do not in fact take place in episodes I would deem to be among the best. At least not top five best anyway. My main criteria was that the episode had to be great from start to finish with absolutely no lulls and the plot had to be of the very highest quality. There are many Simpsons episodes that make the best of what I would consider to be a weak plot, rising above it with good dialogue or one or two extremely memorable jokes. The episodes listed here all have what I consider to be the very best storylines.

Don't come whining to me saying "what about this episode or that episode?" - this is only a top FIVE for god's sake, there's lots I wish I could have included. I did actually give this one some thought. Dispute me at your own peril.

5. "Homer At The Bat" (season three)
One of the only episodes that heavily relies on celebrity appearances and actually works. While there have been lots of fun celeb cameos on this show, I feel the best ones are those in which it isn't central to the plot. I much prefer stuff like Robert Goulet arriving to play at Mr. Burns' Casino (and subsequently performing at Bart's) to say, Mel Gibson and Homer making a movie together (lame). But this one is my big exception.

The inclusion of nine Major League Baseball players is what the entire episode revolves around. And it's great. From Steve Sax's "runnin' with the law" to Ken Griffey Jr.'s obsession with brain and nerve tonic (which eventually gives him gigantism), this episode is masterfully done. A big reason is it's a great example of Burns' infamous desire to get his own way coupled with his complete lack of knowledge of the world around him (he at first attempts to assemble a softball team made up of long deceased players). His personal battle with Don Mattengly over the latter's alleged sideburns is only outdone by Homer's rivalry with douchebag Darryl Strawberry (who takes to sucking up to Burns and calling him "Skip").

But even with all these professionals present, in the end, it's Homer who emerges as the hero (in typical Homeric fashion) to win the plant the championship. The softball song over the end credits is the icing on the cake.

4. "Bart of Darkness" (season six)
The Simpsons get a pool and Bart breaks his leg. Doesn't sound too special, really. But this episode has a lot going for it. The children of Springfield are nicely featured from Nelson to SherriandTerri to Martin. And while the title is obviously a take on "Heart of Darkness", this episode is really based on the classic Rear Window. Many shows would parody this movie but it's best done here. Jimmy Stewart's character is even included ("Oh no! That sinister looking kid is coming to kill me!"). But we also get a fun look at Bart as he descends into a form of madness before his paranoia regarding Flanders' missing wife surfaces. He writes an amusing English play and plays strange role playing games with boardgame pieces in the dark. And that's only the stuff we know about.

But what I really love about this episode is the little slice of Krusty we get. If The Krusty The Klown Show was a real show, I would watch it all the time. In this particular episode, we are treated to a rare look at "Klassic Krusty" where in the early sixties, shown in glorious black and white we see a suit-clad Krusty discussing collective bargaining agreements. Later, his musical guest is famed Indian musician Ravi Shankar. I just love the idea that Krusty has pretty much always been on TV and that his show always reflected the time period.

We also get to see Springfield's finest using their resources to protect the city - in this case, using a police helicopter to spy on skinnydipping Homer and Marge.

And, like many of the best episodes, there's a great ending. This one with Martin standing naked and alone, surrounded by the ruins of his shattered dream (to be "Queen of Summertime." No, king!) singing "Summer Wind" as the sun slowly begins to set.

3. "You Only Move Twice" (season eight)
Usually, what makes a strong episode for me is a great representation of the city of Springfield and the many colourful characters that inhabit it. That's what makes the show great. Because it's not only the Simpsons who are entertaining characters. There's Principal Skinner and Moe and Snake and Lionel Hutz and Mayor Quimby etc. etc. etc. Needless to say, any episodes that use the formula "the Simpsons go to x", is not popular with me. I always much prefer to see them in their natural environment. But I do have two exceptions to this - "The City of New York vs Homer Simpson" (not included on this list) and "You Only Move Twice", where the family temporarily relocates to planned community Cypress Creek, with Homer accepting what turns out to be a dream job.

What makes up for us not getting to see Springfield and the things we love about it is the introduction of Hank Scorpio, Homer's new boss, who is, simply put, amazing. Here's a guy who from all appearances is the complete opposite of Mr. Burns. He's friendly and personable and in touch with the world around him. He's approachable and informal. And he honestly values Homer as an employee. But it turns out he ALSO is a supervillain, perhaps even more effective than Burns. Where Burns is happy to exploit his employees and grow fat off the status quo, Scorpio treats his employees fairly and truly appreciates their efforts. And the status quo isn't good enough for him, he seeks to gain even more power. In the first "reveal" of this side of his character, we get a brilliant scene where he goes from happily taking the time to inform new employee Homer of where he can acquire some "business hammocks" to aggressively negotiating a ransom with the UN, blowing up the 53rd Street Bridge during the exchange to "prove he isn't bluffing". He gravely announces they have 72 hours to deliver the gold then......"Back to the hammocks, my friend!" Genius.

This is a rare episode where a new character truly steals the show. The actions of Marge, Bart and Lisa are uninteresting by comparison but they do serve the function of eventually triggering Homer to reluctantly give up his new job - quitting during a Bond movie-style invasion of the complex - to go back to his old life (although he does receive the Denver Broncos as a parting gift from his former boss). Which is for the best, after all. We all know the Simpsons belong in Springfield. But we also live in hope that we will one day hear from Hank Scorpio again.

2. "Who Shot Mr. Burns? part 2" (season seven)
The conclusion to the only cliffhanger in Simpsons history, this episode is great right off the hop. Everyone was aware of the obvious similarities to the infamous "Who shot J.R.?" storyline from the drama Dallas, and this episode took it a step further. It begins with Smithers experiencing the "it was all a dream" sequence. Except as it turns out, it wasn't.

What makes this episode stronger than part one is the police investigation. We get Willy's interrogation a la Basic Instinct ("Videogame??") plus Moe's hilarious lie detector test. Principal Skinner bores the cops to tears before finally telling them what they need to know (which naturally includes another embarrassing interaction with Superintendent Chalmers) and ridiculously random guest star Tito Puente entertains with a delightful sizzling samba (his own unique revenge on Burns) There's also a rare appearance from Dr. Colossus which is not to be missed.

Homer's arrest is suspenseful (for The Simpsons, I mean) and the eventual solution to the mystery is clever and satisfying right down to the final shot of Maggie's eyes, leaving us all to wonder if it really was an accident after all.

1. "Radioactive Man" (season seven)
This one actually came out directly after "Who Shot Mr. Burns? part two". And I'll tell you right now - best season of The Simpsons? Season Seven, hands down.

So here we have a movie being filmed in Springfield. And not just any movie. What's interesting is that this episode came out a few years before comic superhero movies would make their big Hollywood comeback (thanks to Marvel).

There's nothing to not like about this episode. Unlike almost any other, I watch it EVERY SINGLE TIME i notice it's on. I've seen it so many times I could probably recite every line. But I'll spare you here. From Comic Book Guy's initial inquiry into who will be the star, we get some great foreshadowing of the way the world is today - with every single movie that comes out, the public already knows pretty much everything about it months before its release thanks to the Internet.

The reference to the "campy seventies" Radioactive Man television series is a simply beautiful sendup of the old "Batman" show. We get a glorious fight scene ("MINT!) with the dastardly villain, The Scoutmaster ("Don't be afraid to use your nails, boys!") culminating in a groovy dance complete with hot go-go dancers. Somewhere, you knew Adam West was laughing his ass off.

We have a great collision of worlds going on here. This time it's Hollywood meets small town America - Springfield. The townspeople race to exploit the movie and its crew in every way they can while the local children scramble to try to be in the movie. Milhouse is granted the honour of being cast as sidekick Fallout Boy (much to Bart's initial chagrin) and his work on the movie is wonderfully funny.

Ranier Wolfcastle is in the starring role and doesn't disappoint. From his delivery of lines ("Up and at them!!!") to his stunt work ("The goggles do nothing!!!"), we see Wolfy at his very best.

Homer lounges with teamsters while the kids learn the magic of moviemaking (like painting horses to look like cows). Mayor Quimby passes every tax he can think of to squeeze dough out of the film crew and Milhouse struggles with the reality of being an actor. Eventually cracking under the pressure, he takes off. Not even being swayed by Biggest Star in the World, Mickey Rooney, he forces production to shut down as the producers are all broke by that time anyway.

The scene depicting the film makers' attempt to finish the movie without Milhouse by editing together existing footage of him is one of the funniest things I've ever seen. The ending showing the bankrupt film crew being embraced by their Hollywood brethren upon their return to Tinsil Town, complete with "Lean on Me" playing, makes for a great conclusion in all its joyous satire. In the end, the Radioactive Man movie was just too awesome to ever be made.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Terrible Songs by Good Bands

Even really good bands can sometimes come out with a song that sucks. There are different reasons for this - sometimes it's just a product of the band's overall decline as they go from good to not so good to totally lame. Other times it's because the artist wants to branch out and try something he/she/they haven't before and the result is they really, really shouldn't have tried.
And sometimes, it's just completely out of nowhere, nestled among actually decent songs on an actually decent album.

Here's a look at some normally good bands creating some awful music. You'll notice all these songs came out around the same time - I guess it was the power of the millennium...or something.

5. Live - "OK?"

From the 2001 album, V, this maybe shouldn't be all that surprising as it really was an album of hits and misses. I remember upon first listening to it reflecting that it didn't really feel like a cohesive album at all - just a collection of unrelated songs stuck together - and wondering if that impression would fade after multiple listens. Well, it never did. In many ways, V was an album of experimentation for Live and luckily, since they were still a pretty good band at that point (not so much these days), most of the tracks ranged from alright to pretty good. But not this one.

The track in question features talented vocalist Ed Kowalczyk trying his hand at rapping. Perhaps he felt encouraged after having rapper Tricky dropping some rhymes (or whatever the hell the expression is) on opening track, "Simple Creed". Perhaps not. Either way, Tricky is a rapper and Kowalczyk most definitely is not. Not only is it painful to listen to in its pathetic attempt to sound edgy, it's also downright embarrassing if you're actually a fan of the band because you know this just isn't their thing.

Even the lyrics are cringeworthy and just reading them won't let you experience just how awful it is - you really have to hear Ed trying his damnedest rapping them out. No, Ed. It's not ok.

4. The Tragically Hip - "Tiger the Lion"
Another byproduct of a pretty iffy album. 2000's My Music @ Work marked The Hip's first serious foray into the realm of prog. rock. It also marked their first album that wasn't up to snuff after a string of very good albums.

I couldn't find much to like on this album and what I found to truly hate was this song, "Tiger The Lion". I have a hard time describing this song to people without just shrugging my shoulders and saying "it's weird". Well, it is. There's not really a discernable melody to follow (which I guess was sort of the point) and Gord Downie really seems to be trying his best to sound annoying.

The first time I ever heard this song was watching The Hip do an Intimate and Interactive (remember those?) at MuchMusic. Playing to a crowd of diehard fans, they'd managed to make even the newer songs from the then featured album sound passable until they got to this one. I remember screwing up my face in a grimace of confusion as the song washed over me and I tried to figure out where the hook was and what the hell The Hip was trying to do. No answer came. But then they played an old song and everything was alright again.

3. Metallica - "I Disappear"
This one happened right before the wheels fell off for Metallica. So bad, it was on the Mission Impossible 2 soundtrack. And no where else because they sure as hell couldn't cobble together an album at this point - not with James getting smashed all the time again. And Jason about to bail. All I can figure about this song is that the band was falling apart and they threw this mess together in one hell of a hurry without putting in any effort.

It sounds like the whole song is based on a riff rejected for use many times in the past but that just kept coming back to haunt them. Finally, to rid themselves of its demon spirit, and at the same time, contribute something to the impending soundtrack (and get PAID), James Hetfield growled out some "lyrics" over said riff, making the "chorus" quieter before finally getting LOUD and then they solved the whole bridge problem by not really having one - only taking the verses and changing them very slightly, playing it more "urgently". Toss in the compulsory Kirk Hamett screwing around with the main riff to form a solo and bingo, a Metallica song for the ages.

2. U2 - "Elevation"

Lord, how I loathe this song. What makes it hurt especially is just how popular U2 were again at the time of the song's album, All That You Can't Leave Behind's release. It was the second single following the album-opening track "Beautiful Day" (an ok song) - so it was played EVERYWHERE. And it was played CONSTANTLY. I'm pretty sure it was on the Tomb Raider movie's soundtrack as well. I do know it featured a retarded video that was on TV as much as the song was on the radio.

Where to start with this one? It must've taken all of two minutes to write. The vocals on the verses feature an extremely simple rhythm following this pattern: Da...da da da da DA! Da da da da DA! over and over again with Bono making many people hate his voice for the first time. And the chorus was even worse. I know you remember it - sing it with me now! El-A-VAY-SHON!!!! then Bono wheezing out those excruciating "woos" that eventually mutated into "woooohoooHOOO". Argh.

1. No Doubt - "Hella Good"
In 2001, before Gwen Stefani lost her mind, went solo and became a "hollaback girl" bouncing around and singing about bananas, her band, No Doubt, released the confusing Rock Steady. Little did No Doubt fans suspect at this point that it was but a prelude to the madness yet to come.

It was hard to pick just this song and leave the also terrible "Hey Baby" off this list but I told myself I could only pick one. "Hella Good" wins (or loses, depending on how you look at it) due to the fact that its very title features a stupid made-up word. I'm all for artistic license regarding language in songs but there's nothing artistic going on here. So I'll just go with this song. But don't worry, there's plenty else to hate here. Like the truly obnoxious riff that powers the verses. Or how about Gwen's PANTING over said riff at later points in the song? Panting in a song was something I'd previously believed only Britney Spears would stoop to.

When this song came out, I, a fan of No Doubt, was baffled. And I wasn't alone. Suddenly, the punk/rock/ska kids with their brightly dyed hair and multiple piercings who used to jump and mosh to No Doubt's sound were all standing around, looking confused while the asshole poser club people started grooving to the beat. Sadly, we all know what happened next. Hard to believe this was the same band that gave us "New" and "Spiderwebs". Now Gwen's a lot richer, I guess, and the world is a lot poorer.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Ugliest Cartoons of the Nineties

Note: Instead of compiling a list of the most wretched looking cartoons, I wanted to also focus on ugly cartoons that are stupid or unpleasant in their design. For example, shows like "Ren and Stimpy", "Rocko's Modern Life", "Rugrats", and "Home Movies", while ugly in their own ways, will not appear in this list because they've proven themselves with likable characters, clever premises, good writing, and/ or being hilarious. Instead this list is for ugly cartoons with no additional merit.

5. Doug (1991-1994, 1996-1999)
The makers of "Doug" seem to think that you can build a show around a dorky guy and his equally dorky friends. While the animation isn't awful, it is bland to the point of being ugly. Most characters are strangely coloured and outright horrible to listen to. You know a show is bad when the main character is smitten by a plain-Jane girl with a stupid name who sounds like she has a cheese grater lodged in her throat. Also, I don't recall the show ever having any serious conflict to move the story forward.

4. Beavis and Butt-head (1993-1998)
I know I'm asking for trouble because plenty of people really love this show (it was on the air long enough). But I personally couldn't stomach more than 5 minutes of these two social rejects without being repulsed. The show looks as if it were animated with a ballpoint pen in the margins of a textbook, and everyone was ugly to look at. If there was any clever dialogue to draw from this cartoon, it was lost on me since it seems 80% of the show was spent letting the two idiotic characters grunt, guffaw, and wheeze while quivering through a cycle of the same four cells of animation.

3. Aaahh!!! Real Monsters (1994-1998)
As far as I can tell, Nickelodeon believes that no matter what ... gross = fun. This show was about three hideously miserable monsters that live under a dump and learn how to scare people. Genius. The main monsters were a goblin-thing, a reeking hairy gnome thing that carried around it's eyeballs, and a black and white candy cane that could transform and remove her own guts. All I know is that it was 22 minutes of slime, garbage, and greasy armpits.

2. Pepper Ann (1997-2000)
The makers of "Pepper Ann" seem to think that you can build a show around a dorky girl and her equally dorky friends. In a world where everyone wears overly baggy clothes designed for psychedelic clowns, Pepper Ann deals with the daily trials of going to school and having a younger sister who sounds like Barry White. I always thought it was weird that the show seemed to be inhabited by Fido Dido's, and I only just discovered that the woman who invented that 7-up mascot was the one who pitched the Pepper Ann show. Cripes.

1. Hey Arnold! (1996-2004)
The makers of "Hey Arnold!" seem to think that you can build a show around a dorky guy and his equally dorky ... you know what? I think I'm starting to see a trend here. Why is that the eighties were filled with cartoons about warriors, dinosaurs, magical creatures, and giant battling robots, but the nineties gave birth to dozens of shows about regular kids? Ten years earlier any cartoon show would literally blow your mind with an epic opening theme filled with action, adventure, space wars, and lasers. But the shows I've listed might put you to sleep before they even starts. "Hey Arnold" begins with Arnold the football head kid and his ugly friends just walking around. That's it! And what ugly characters they are. It's like a grade school of circus freaks where everyone is jagged, gangly, uni-browed, and misshapen. If you're going to make a show that is hardly interesting enough to follow, why are you making the characters nearly unbearable to look at?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Best Action Movies of the Nineties

The term action movie didn't really exist until the eighties. Before that, there were lots of films with plenty of action but I would agree none of them would fit the definition of the term. I think of 1981's Escape From New York to be the father (godfather?) of all action movies. Then as the eighties continued, the genre was defined by crazy assaults like Rambo and Commando. The heroes were mostly one-dimensional and muscle-bound and the body counts were sky high.

When the nineties rolled around, the genre was evolving. Plots were becoming more intricate and characters more complex. People wanted "smarter" movies but they didn't want this to be at the cost of the action. Here are the movies that I believe succeeded the most in that during the rockin' decade that was the nineties.

5. Broken Arrow (1996)
Maybe this one surprises you. Maybe I don't give a %$#@. I'll admit there isn't any one spectacular thing about this movie. What makes it great is that it's just consistently good, start to finish. Christian Slater's character doesn't have much depth and isn't too unique but he's likeable enough. Samantha Mathis's spunky park ranger is just so adorable (my love affair with the actress began here) and Travolta's bad guy is quirky and menacing. I also really dig the music, particularly the main theme (which was inexplicably stolen and placed in Scream 2 as "Dewey's Theme). Oh, actually, this film does boast one really spectacular thing - the death of the main bad guy. Check it out.

4. Goldeneye (1995)

I almost didn't include this because I wasn't sure if it really fits my own definition of an action movie. I kept movies like Jurassic Park off this list because, despite all their action, I consider them Adventure films (like the Indy films of the eighties). Goldeneye can certainly be seen as an adventure film or spy/thriller or whatever but I finally decided it fits the action bill as well. Because, well, what action!

Plus this was an important film in the Bond franchise coming after the longest gap between movies in history (six years), being the first without a Cold War background, AND featuring a brand new guy to play Bond - Pierce Brosnan. Before it came out, a lot of people speculated it wouldn't work and the Bond franchise was as good as dead. Well, we all know how that turned out. Brosnan's Bond is witty, gritty and a true action star. Sean Bean was a great nemesis too. Like I said, I wasn't sure if I should classify this as a pure action film - then I remember the scene with Bond driving the tank through the streets of St. Petersburgh. Bravo.

3. Face/Off (1997)
Another movie with John Travolta as the bad guy. But wait - he's the good guy too? Huh?!?! People like to moan about this movie's preposterous plot as if there are no other movies out there with preposterous plots. Give me a break. I'll admit that when this came out, the idea of taking Hong Kong super action director John Woo and giving him an American movie featuring two American leading men wasn't necessarily the recipe for a hit. But it worked. The action is almost constant and the gun-fighting is sleek and stylish - not to be outdone until 2002's Equilibrium - which, to be fair, was a sci-fi film. Anyway, I stand by this flick as one of the best of the decade.

2. The Rock (1996)

People love to hate on Michael Bay. Some changed their tune after Transformers (2007). And I'm not really a fan either. But it bugs me that Michael Bay haters like to classify this movie in the same category as Pearl Harbor (2001) and Armageddon (1998) because it's really very good. Sure a lot of stuff blows up - that doesn't mean it can't be good too. So many people want to think of themselves as intellectuals or cultured or whatever to the point that they can't recognize a really stellar action movie when they see one.

And The Rock is a really stellar action movie. The plot is good and the actors are really good as well. Maybe none of it is Oscar material but you can sense Ed Harris's inner conflict - his sense of honour versus his sense of outrage. Nick Cage is neurotic but still heroic and Connery is just pure badass. There's a San Francisco car chase, a good, energetic score, lots of funny and memorable lines AND a crazy gas that makes people's skin melt off while they cough up their guts. What more do you want?

1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
No waffling here about whether this sci-fi movie can also fall under the category of pure action. The special effects were ground-breaking, Arnold was at his best and the bullets were flying. The chase through the fabled Los Angeles River is seen as a landmark moment in action movies (one could say that several scenes were, really) - eighteen wheeler vs dirtbike vs chopper. There's a breakout of a mental asylum with night sticks and syringes - you don't see that in too many movies, really. The bad guy is an unstoppable force and the hero is a reformed (er, reprogrammed) unstoppable force who wears a leather jacket and shades. There's shooting and explosions galore and even a few impalements. All action films look to this one as the mark to shoot for.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Top Reasons for Hurling a Video Game Controller with Rage

5. Cheap Enemies
Nothing boils the blood quite like a computer controlled opponent that defiantly sidesteps the logic of a game to beat you time and time again. Particularly in racing games where your competition is made faster than you at all times. Another way enemies can suck is when they come at you in a continuous stream, making defeating them a futile and unrewarding affair. Any person who has been knocked off a platform for the hundredth time by a floating Medusa head will agree.

4. Difficult Jumps combined with Crummy Camera Controls

In platformers and side-scrollers the key element of game play has always been jumping, and when you are forced to make leaps of faith because you can't properly see everything, well, it's enough to make you kick your dog in the face. Maneuvering in a 3-D environment with an unfair and awkward viewpoint is like running an obstacle course moments after someone has jammed a lemon wedge in one of your eyes.

3. Time Limits

For as long as there have been video games, there have been time limits, and it is nothing more than a cheap way to add challenge. Getting a 'Game Over' screen is bad enough, but when the failure was because of your speed and not your performance, that is aggravating beyond reason.

2. Status Ailments

Each year the amount of energy exerted by players thrashing about in anger because their character was poisoned, is enough to power Austria for seven weeks. Games have been raising blood pressure averages around the world with these irritating hindrances. While being poisoned is the most common, your character can also be burned, put to sleep, turned to stone, confused, beserked, paralyzed, weakened, cursed, frozen, charmed, shrunk, buried, knocked out, stunned, silenced, or transformed into an animal. Police records will show that being turned into a frog is a rising cause for stabbings in America.

1. Sparse Save Points

Including any older game that had no save points whatsoever, this infuriating aspect of games tops the list. Nothing has filled more gamers with explosive rage than dying in a game and not being able to remember the last time their progress was saved. In a game without enough opportunities to save, you are constantly on edge about moving forward. And instead of feeling a sense of accomplishment for beating a challenge, you are dreading the thought of losing your progress at any moment. Then as you're nearing a save point, if you miss a jump, run out of time, or happen to be cursed by some asshole monster, well, you might not only hurl a controller, you may very well take a human life.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Movies That Make You Want A Sword

5. Any Zorro Movie
The original man in black (take that, Cash) and original roof-hopping masked vigilante (and that, Batman) was a great rider. He was also a pretty nifty acrobat. But what made The Fox legendary was his swordplay. He was so deft and fancy he routinely made his opponents look like idiots. I don't think there have been any truly bad Zorro movies. Not mainstream ones anyway. The thing they all have in common is that after watching them, they leave me wanting to dance around like a fool: en guard! parry, parry, thrust!

4. Highlander (1986)
Mostly what this film taught me was that you just aren't going to get anything done without a sword. Guns are cool and all but you've got to decapitate to take care of business.

3. The Muskateer (2001)
Sure it's in no way historically accurate or realistic but it definitely makes swordfighting look awesome. The final fight, complete with falling ladders, is not to be missed.

2. Ninja Scroll (1993)
I guess everyone wants to be a ninja. I know I do. There are some dazzling shots of Jube's katana flashing in the sunlight as he battles his foes that really show skilled swordsmanship for what it is: poetry in motion. The battle in the bamboo forest with the blind warrior is pretty breathtaking. Always remember to have a thin cord attached to your sword's hilt so that you never lose it.

1. Kill Bill Volume 1 (2003)
This one really needs no explanation but hey, it's my job. Katanas are definitely the coolest kinds of swords. Even their sheaths are badass and play a part in the fighting. You've got to love how in this movie, being part of the Yakuza means that in addition to getting all the free pizza you want, you also get a katanna that fits right onto your motorcycle. Unfortunately it also means getting dismembered by The Bride and her superior Hatori Hanzo (spellcheck) sword. Like many movies before it, but perhaps in even better fashion, Kill Bill One drives home the point (sorry, couldn't resist) that there is no cooler or more personal a way to kill someone than with a sword.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Best Sandwiches With No Meat

Toasted Tomato

The perfect sandwich for an afternoon snack, comprised of sliced tomato on toast with a slathering of mayo and ample fresh ground pepper. Guaranteed to latch onto your taste buds and headbutt them.

Grilled Cheese

A classic in the sandwich world, it proves that sliced process cheese does serve a purpose, although real cheese does enhance the experience. The gooey melty goodness can be the foundation for many possibilities, such as adding tomato, olive, spaghetti sauce, mushrooms, onions, or sliced meat. Also, if your eating the plain grilled cheese without dipping it in applesauce, your doing it all wrong. Get with the program already!

Apple, Cheddar, and Jam

Critically acclaimed as the perfect breakfast sandwich, it's was first put together in 1930 when a clever chef decided to make the perfect breakfast sandwich. The trifecta of deliciousness is simply strawberry jam, sliced apple, and sharp cheddar cheese on toast. Warning! If you skimp on the cheese and go for something low quality or of a 'whiz' variety, a portal will open and you will be drawn into a dimension of darkness.

Holiday Defeat
Also known as the Super Carb Attack Sandwich, it's the one you make in the middle of the night comprised of the leftovers from Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner (turkey excluded). It's most delicious when hastily make in the dark and may include dressing/stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberries, sweet yams, and turnips.

Peanut Butter and Jelly
Ranked as the most popular use of peanut butter with jelly, this sandwich is the only one in history ever to be knighted. Famous for being supremely satisfying and easy to make - even a one-armed man can do it in 40 seconds - it will go down in history as the poor man's steak.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Worst Halloween Treats You Can Receive

As candy goes, Rockets are not all so bad, but like rice in your burrito, it's basically a filler. These tablets of pressed sugar are nothing to be excited about, and you'll be lucky to amass enough of these to trade for real treats.

Mellocreme Pumpkins
An example of sweet gone wrong. Eating one is enough to make an average child sick, and three or more will guarantee diabetes.

Many a child's Halloween have been ruined to find that they were given dried fruit. This 'treat' even tries to warn eaters by clumping together and fusing to the inside of the box, but dozens of children still consume them and burst into tears every year.

Plain No Name Potato Chips
In the last decade far too many parents have resorted to giving out mini bags of potato chips as a substitute for creativity. Each bag contains 2-3 broken chips and deceptively fills a pillowcase. A child looks to Halloween as a chance to delight in a series of special candies and sweet treats, not to eat several hundred bags of the most common snack food available.

I'm not talking about carnival style candied apples that make a mess of everything, the king of this list is the plain boring ass apple. While receiving apples for Halloween is a good way to discern the squares in your neighborhood, it's the equivalent of getting socks for Christmas. As we all know, eating healthy food on October 31st is a good way to be banished, and apples have caused so much trouble that people even began the "razor blade" rumor in the hopes that this hell fruit would cease being a Halloween giveaway.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Saddest Animated Films

The Land Before Time (1988)
A story of an orphaned brontosaurus and other young dinosaurs traveling through a ruined world in search of family and a promised land. With weeping dinosaurs and a haunting score this movie would have found a higher place on this list had its value not decreased due to the 400 sequels it's spawned.

The Fox and the Hound (1981)
What really makes this movie so sad (besides the entire second half of the movie) is the scene where the widow Tweed brings the fox to the woods to leave him behind. I just have to think about that scene and I get a lump in my throat.

Dumbo (1941)
A movie where a cute and goofy looking baby elephant is teased, picked on, shunned, and laughed at. The central depressing moment is when Dumbo's mother is locked up for trying to protect her son from the torment of being different. Next comes a gut-wrenching scene in the rain with Dumbo going to see his caged mother. If you don't know this scene, then you don't know true sorrow.

An American Tail (1986)
Wow, I remember watching this movie several times as a child, and looking back I've no idea why. It's super depressing in so many ways. First off, it's a movie about an immigrant family of Russian mice traveling to America, and their son, Fievel, becomes lost at sea along the way. From there it's Fievel going from one filthy and dreary locale to the next in search of his parents (always just missing them) and encountering a slew of weird, misleading, and frightening characters. Along with the depressing music, and songs like Somewhere out there, this movie is one of the most depressing cartoons ever created.

Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
Okay, right off the bat, this is a list of one, because Grave of the Fireflies makes the other four movies on this list look like a Blue`s Clues Christmas Special. The movie documents the struggle of a young boy and his four year old sister fighting to survive in Japan during World War II. It`s the only animated film I can think of that I would describe as tragic, but as sad as it is, I recommend it to anyone who hasn`t seen it, because it`s a phenomenal piece of film-making. If you can watch the entire movie and not shed a tear, then you have no soul. Period.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Most Hilarious Quotes From Batman: The Movie (1966)

Let the Drunks Die
Robin: "You risked your life to save that riffraff in the bar?"
Batman: "They may be drinkers, Robin, but they're also human beings ... and may be salvaged(?)"

Saved By a Dolphin
Robin: "Gosh Batman, the nobility of the almost human porpoise."
Batman: "True, Robin. It was noble of that animal to hurl himself in the path of that final torpedo. He gave his life for ours!"

Solving the Riddle
Robin: "That crazy missile! It wrote two more riddles before it blew up!"
Batman: [reading] "'What goes up white and comes down yellow and white?'"
Robin: An egg!
Batman: [reading] "'How do you divide seventeen apples among sixteen people?'"
Robin: "Make apple sauce!"
Batman: "Apples into applesauce - A unification into one smooth mixture. An egg - nature's perfect container. The container of all our hopes for the future."
Robin: "A unification and a container of hope? United World Organization!"
Batman: "Precisely, Robin!"

The 'F' Bomb
Riddler: "You think you're pretty clever don't you, Mr. Wayne?"
Wayne: "Clever enough to outwit you, you stupid @*%$!"

Note: In this scene Bruce Wayne does not use the 'f' word, but actually says 'you stupid thug'. However! It sounds so much like he is swearing at the Riddler that it had to be included on this list. The first time I watched it, I almost died laughing. Check it for yourself and be the judge.

Quench It!
Penguin: "I must say that your laboratory exceeds the limits of man's wildest imaginations ... absolutely. And could I trouble you for a glass of water? Your bat gas seems to have left me with a somewhat parched sensation."
Batman: "Over there! The drinking water dispenser is clearing marked."
Penguin: "Thank you. Thank you, sir."
Batman: "Help yourself, Commodore. Slake your thirst. You'll have worse than a parched sensation when we're through with you!"

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Best Stand-up Comedy Specials

Vicious Circle (2006)- Dane Cook
Cook talks about relationships, breaking into a stranger's house, having a one night stand, going to the movies, and a ton of other hilarious stuff in his direct and quirky way.

Skanks for the Memories (2003) - Dave Attell
This comedy album contains just about every single great bit from the mind of Dave Attell. It's dark comedy and random as hell, each joke starting tame and then exploding like an obscene firework. You're either going to be offended or keeling over with laughter.

XXL Tour (2005) - Lee Evans
A show where Evans talks about ... well, everything. A two hour affair where Evans is a nonstop blur of physical comedy energy. I'm pretty sure he sweats the equivalent of his weight. Also, he wraps up the show with two musical numbers he wrote, revealing that this crazy bastard can also really sing.

I Walked on the Moon (2004) - Brian Regan
If you don't know this guy, stop reading this and track down some of his work. Regan preforms amazingly constructed bits on everyday topics, where every sentence is quotable and each expression on his face is hilarious. The first time I watched this show I nearly suffered liver failure I was laughing so hard.

Jammin' in New York (1992) - George Carlin
Yeah, I really couldn't get around giving Carlin the top spot. He talks about war, airlines, his solution for homelessness, and the state of the planet. The material is hilarious and thought-provoking - it's a comedy legend at his best.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Movies that Wasted Their Potential

Super Mario Bros. : The Movie (1993)
I'm not saying that this movie should have been amazing or groundbreaking, but there's something to be said for using source material. This movie wasted nearly every opportunity to be like the video games, which is what the audience was essentially expecting. Seeing this as a child, I convinced myself that it was entertaining, but really it was incredibly weird in a way that only had tenuous connections to the game franchise. What a waste.

Fantastic Four (2005)
A movie about a bunch of awesome superheroes with awesome superpowers. How could you go wrong? Well, it turns out there are many ways. The key thing that makes this movie so bad is that it should have been running over with incredible action sequences and superhero combat, but instead the first half of the movie is wasted showing how the four acquire their powers, and the second half is wasted watching them bitch and moan about having powers. Boo-hoo, I'm different. Blow up a building already! If I wanted to watch a movie about superheroes as whiny outcasts, I'll watch the X-Men trilogy.

Timeline (2003)
I'm sure many people watched this and were at least partially entertained, but this movie (adapted from one of my favorite novels) is horrendously below the mark it should have achieved. The novel itself has action, drama, and intrigue, so much so that it reads with the pacing of a movie. The actual movie, however, decided to change about a hundred things, chop out subplots, characters, scenes, and about two thirds of the events that make the story so compelling and exciting. They hired D grade actors to poorly portray characters that are mere shadows of the author's original vision. A true example of fixing something til it breaks.

The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
The third film of the Matrix series lacked everything that made the first (and to a lesser extent, the second) film so awesome. My biggest problem is that there was nothing new introduced at all. No new characters, new enemies, new conflicts. Plus the main story isn't resolved in a likable way, and most action sequences are rehashed versions of previous ones. Where's the payoff? We wait three movies to see the final show down of man vs. machine in the last city of Zion, and all we get is people shooting squid-bots with bullets. And then ... they shoot more squids. And finally, they shoot even more squids. The original Matrix film was exciting, groundbreaking, and highly stylized, but this finale to the trilogy completely screwed it up. Not only did this movie waste its potential to cap off a wicked trilogy, it was so bad, it makes me dislike aspects of the first two. Egads.

Lord of the Rings (Animated, 1978)
I'll admit that it's not surprising a film could fall short of capturing the grandness of Tolkien's literature, but this film is practically mocking it. It took Peter Jackson and the entirety of New Zealand hundreds of millions of dollars and many years to make "The Lord of the Rings" come to life, and every bit of that effort is clearly on the screen. The 1978 version looks like it was animated by a series of junior high students, who weren't communicating with one another, and many of whom had no arms. The animation is really horrible, half the characters are so homely or stupid looking you want to cry. It wasted tons of time on pointless scenes, and leaped over gigantic parts of the novels, dissolving to an end part way through the second book. The characters are wrong and the world is strange. The only value this movie has, is the material it provides for ridicule.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Songs that use the word "Yeah" a lot

She Loves You - The Beatles
A group that always pushed the musical boundaries in exciting ways, their song used the word a whole 29 times. A few more and they would have exceeded the 30 'yeah' limit enforced at the time on all songs and faced going to jail.

Lithium - Nirvana
Although not an astounding amount of 'yeahs', this song was able to fit in 39 of them. Though, Kurt Cobain sang them from the gut and that should make each the equivalent of 2-3 normal 'yeahs'.

Man on the Moon - R.E.M.
A favorite song of many, this tune kept stacking yeah on top of yeah until a grand total of 56 was reached. Hats off to you, Mr. Stipe. Few artists have been able to sing more than 50 'yeahs' in a song without developing a stutter.

Yeah - Usher
In 2004, Usher released this single, hardly masking his intent to make a song with a shitload of 'yeahs' in it. The song managed a stunning 70 yeah count, and the nation was enthralled. However, scientists are still debating whether or not it qualifies as a music.

Man Research - Gorillaz
A song that puts all others to shame for even trying to use yeah excessively. This song has 164+ 'yeahs' in it, perhaps more if the singer had bothered to sing more clearly. The group had originally wanted to have more than 200 but during a debut performance, two members succumbed to yeahing-lung and were hospitalized.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Most Delicious Pies

Apple Pie
Those who feel that the apple pie deserves top spot on this list are dead wrong as it just barely found a place for being universally known and appreciated. Pie historians will tell you that the apple pie was first prepared in Europe in the 1300's during one of the many "Let's find ways to make apples tolerable" Festivals.

Pecan Pie
Famous for being the pie that won World War II, the Pecan Pie is rich in anti-nutrients, and has the a chemical composition that tricks the brain into thinking that it's just had sex with a giant pecan.

Pumpkin Pie
When served warm with a dollop of whip cream, this pie induces euphoria in the eater, and has been known to cause them to scream and/or win the lottery.

Sugar Pie
One of the finest of open-top pies, this divine concoction is a punch directly to your sweet zone. Oscar Wilde once famously said "Be there a greater experience than that of dining on a pie of sugar, I think not. And anyone thinking otherwise shall have to answer to me. I would likely slap them about the groin with a glove filled with nails."

Lemon Meringue Pie
After 400 years of eating Meringue pies, a man by the name of Eric Lancaster decided to add another ingredient to the pastry, and so the Spaghetti Meringue Pie was born and Lancaster was hung on April 16th, 1880. His brother, Buster, modified the unholy recipe and then the Lemon Meringue was born. Hailed by all as the greatest of pies, except for stupid people who don't like lemon flavuoured things.