Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Run! Pee! Now!!!!

I heard a little interview on NPR yesterday that I just had to share. There is a website out there where people can post the best times during a movie to go take a pee break, called Brilliant!! I am pretty dang good at holding it, but my husband never fails to go the bathroom during a movie. This website was designed for him!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Say It Ain't So

Just heard in the Twitterverse that Kuzui Entertainment, who retain the rights to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, are planning a "relaunch" movie. The Hollywood Reporter says that they do not want to use any of the beloved characters and have not yet even asked Joss Whedon if he would like to be involved at all.

I am sorry, but if there is no Whedon, there is no Buffy. Also, how do you make Buffy the Vampire Slayer without Buffy. Or Xander. Or Willow. This has disaster written all over it.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The invisible influence

A few years ago, when I was young(er) and dumb(er), I remember asking my mother what was the big deal about the Beatles. They had a ton of famous songs, but they really did not sound all that much better than other bands. Catchy, yes, but nothing that no one else was doing. My poor mother might be not a pop culture junkie, but gave me the perfect answer: "you don´t know how dull music was before the Beatles came around".

The Beatles is only one example of band, movie, game or TV show that does not look all that impressive for the untrained eye, mainly because they have been so massively influential that they don´t look all that exceptional anymore.

For someone that did not had to slog across the dreadful movies of the eighties, "Pulp Fiction" is just another clever post modern artifact. Yeah, wicked script, clever writing, tons of witty quotes and cute time line gimmicks. As artifacts go, it is a very shinny one, but it is not that different. Of course, that misses the point that movies got a whole lot better after/because "Pulp Fiction", basically because they were shamelessly ripping it off. The movie was such a change of direction that it is easy to forget what it spawned.

We have this kind of movies across the decades, hidden in plain sight. "North by Northwest" is just another clever action thriller; of course, it just invented the whole idea. "Jaws" it is just another summer blockbuster - just the one that invented the concept. "Night of the Hunter" basically invented the psychokiller movie. Even "Citizen Kane" is only obviously great if you have watched some of the stilted wrecks that were typical of the era - movies that no one watches anymore.

The same goes for TV shows (and that´s why "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is awesome, kids), videogames ("Ocarina of Time", "Half Life", or even "Super Mario Bros"), music (Joy Division, for instance), comics (Watchmen) or even novels (Don Quixote, if I have to be a snob). Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but sometimes it has the side effect that it makes your work invisible - what you added to the art gets such a widespread use that it is easy to forget that you are the one that brought it to life.

And yes, "Buffy" is that kind of show. One hour drama with long arch plots, character focused episodes (no, Lost did not come up with that), irony, pop culture references galore and smarty-pants self awareness looks common now, but it wasn´t used all that often a few years ago. But that´s a discussion for another post, where we workship the Whedon as he deserves.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

ABC or Always Be Cancelling

The TV industry is releasing their fall line ups, and you all know what that means...the AXE is out! Sometimes TV execs do the right thing and put struggling (aka horrible) shows out of their misery. For example Cupid is out (thank God) as well as Knight Rider (thank Kit). However there are always some shows that get the axe before their full potential is realized (or even after their full potential is realized ala Arrested Development). This year is no different.

Per usual ABC is one of the worst offenders. Officially canceled shows include Pushing Daisies (which we knew some time ago but it is still very very painful), Samantha Who?, Dirty Sexy Money and the very promising The Unusuals (poor Amber Tamblyn - she has been through this before with Joan of Arcadia). Although I did not care for it, Eli Stone also got chopped and that show has a weird, unexplainable cult following (I think Katie Holmes' guest spot cursed the show).

I have decided that once Lost is over I am going to take a break from ABC. The only new show they kept that I care anything about is Better Off Ted and that almost did not make it. However Wife Swap and the Bachelor were sure things. Sometimes I am sad to be an American.

I was actually shocked to hear that Fox was not the worst offender this year. They actually did Joss Whedon fans a solid by keeping Dollhouse for at least 13 more episodes and they held on to Fringe, which really blossomed by the end of the season. Maybe they are coming to their senses finally?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Tinted Windows Acoustic Performance

I love radio contests. My friends always tell me that I am so lucky because I tend to win a good amount of radio contests, but I just tell them that it is just a matter of taking the time to enter everything. For example, last week I saw that kc101 was giving away chances to see Tinted Windows perform in the studio. I thought, "What the hell? I'll sign up for that" and guess what - I went to see them perform three acoustic songs on Wednesday. And it was awesome. You can't win if you don't play people.

By the way, in case you are wondering who Tinted Windows are: Singer - Taylor Hanson of Hanson, Guitarist - James Iha of Smashing Pumpkins, Bassist - Adam Schlessinger of Fountains of Wayne, Drummer - Bun E. Carlos of Cheap Trick.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The old charm of retro hardware

Some people like to use old, inconvenient stuff from time to time. Chrysler buyers. People that send letters on the mail. People that enjoy having vinyl records.

Yeah, vinyl. You know, the big black music thinguies from years past; that old analog contraptions that tried to do carry music using a sadistic looking, needle totting machine to scratch the thing into submission.

Well, in another dark, geeky corner of pop culture, we can find some cultists also venerating old pieces of apparently useless tech. People that enjoy using outdated relics that offer sub-par performance, annoying noises and basic, barebones, simplistic experiences. People that love old, basic hardware. Old videogames. Retro gamers.

I became a member of the cult awhile ago, when I misteriously obtained (cough - cough) a Sega Dreamcast. After much scouring the internets for games and scoring some old classics from Ebay, I must say that the thing has gotten quite a bit of play.

The Dreamcast, however, is not really that old. It came out in 1999, after all; it is barely older than the Playstation 2. Nintendo, however, came to the rescue, with what is probably the most evil ploy to make people spend money ever: the Wii Virtual Console, aka how to make me spend money in 25 year old pieces of code that look like ass on a HDTV, but we love playing anyway. I have given money to Konami way too many times to play Gradius, and that sucker is still fun.

The crown jewel on old relics, however, is my favourite Christmas gift ever: The Nintendo 64 that my wife got me this year. It is a cranky piece of hardware, and some games refuse to work. I really haven´t played that much with it. But it looks so good, under the TV, a tribute to all things fun and Mario that I just adore the thing. Same with the Dreamcast, really; more than the games, it is about owning a little piece of pop culture history - a piece that happens to be fun.

No, I won´t get into the "games back then were better". They were not. The Legend of Zelda on the NES is still fun, but it is a bit like watching a Battleship Potemkin - to appreciate what you are doing, you need to understand at least a bit what the game meant (Zelda is the original sandbox game, by the way; no Zelda, no Grand Theft Auto IV). Most games in some of the "transitional" generations (specially the clunky early 3D, Playstation, Saturn, N64 era) are downright klunky, and don´t have much to enjoy. The few exceptions (like Mario 64) are fun, but downright ugly; early 3D lacking the ultraminimalist charm of pixel art. Nostalgia has a lot to do with it.

In any case, old stuff has its charm. I like old stuff, specially the beeping interactive kind. Next time you see an old, forgotten videogame, remember that it is a little piece of history. 100 years from now, Contra and Bionic Commando (NES versions) will be treasured as we know treasure Harold Lloyd movies.

Beware of Fake IMAX

I was having my morning breakfast, watching GMA and reading my tweetdeck when I noticed that Aziz Ansari (star of Parks and Recreation) is starting a boycott of IMAX, Regal Cinemas (my movie viewing joint) and AMC Theaters. Turns out, Regal and AMC have been building slightly bigger than normal screens and IMAX has been allowing them to use their name and charge an extra $5.oo per ticket for the "IMAX" experience, despite the fact that it is no where near the size and sound of true IMAX. Even Ain't It Cool is getting in on the action.

Total rip off. Shame on you IMAX.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The undying curse of talentless hacks

Some people are nice. You see them on TV, they are cute, charming and talented, and you enjoy watching them. You buy their CDs, watch their movies, follow their careers. It is all nice and good fun.

Some people, however, are not talented. They are not fun. They are basically an annoyance, a waste of everybody's time, talentless hacks clinging to their 15 minutes with desperate energy and fearless abandon. They suddenly appear in the pop culture world, and they just stand there, hogging the limelight for a bit, until the public realize they suck and they get kicked out of the stage.

Talentless hacks usually try to develop elaborate mechanisms of survival. They like fame, so they try to stay famous, no matter what. The creativity of those antics varies wildly, going from the mildy amusing (getting into a reality show) to the pretty bold (celebrity sex tape) to the just plain disgusting (Screech sex tape). Some of the pathetic crappy losers even manage to become sorta acceptable if their desperate attempts reach the level of performance art - say celebrity meltdown or Joaquin Phoenix in Letterman.

Of all the tactics to stay in the spotlight, the most obnoxious of all is those pricks that go on and procreate. They get pregnant. The call their siblings. They multiply and populate the radio waves, filling hours of pop culture with repetitive inanity. They become, in other words, the fucking Osmonds, or even worse, a serial adopting agency & procreation factory nightmare named Angelina. They transform from being a single annoyance to a clan.

This is bad for two reasons. First, siblings tend to suck. If the first brother was no good, the siblings are not going to be better. If the mom or dad were talentless idiots, the descendants are only going to inflict more pain, to make us forget. Just look at the wise, wise, wise advice of Palin (mom) and the got-kid-preach-abstinance trainwreck that is her daughter. Second, babies are basically evil, and seriously, we don't care how yours looks like. He will grow up talentless. Get out of the way.

We need a filter. We need a way to wash bad celebrities out of the system, so they never come back. Who, on its right mind, allowed Sanjaya get into a reality TV show? Does America really need more Sanjaya? What have we done to deserve this? Save us. Please. Make it stop.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Please Shoot An Arrow Through 'Cupid's Heart

I wanted to like the new Cupid. I was one of the very few who was in love (no pun intended) with the original series of the same name and concept starring Jeremy Piven back in the 90s. That show only lasted 15 episodes (one of which never aired.) Come to find out, the original Cupid was the first big job for writer, Rob Thomas (not the Matchbox20 douche), who is regarded very highly by yours truly because he created one of my all time favorite shows (albeit short-lived) Veronica Mars.

For some reason, over 10 years later, ABC decided to let Rob Thomas take another crack at Cupid. Just in case you don't know, the concept of the show is this: Seemingly normal guy claims to be cupid. He says that Zeues sent him to earth to punish him for arrogance and the only way he can back to deity status is by connecting 100 couples (true love only) without using any powers. Of course regular earthlings think he is crazy and he is assigned a shrink.

The premise is odd but it worked with Jeremy Piven. The biggest difference between these two shows is that Jeremy Piven actually had sexual chemistry with his shrink (played by Paula Marshall) and it drove the show. This remake stars Bobby Canavale as the title character and Sara Paulson as his skeptic shrink. Unfortunately Bobby plays the character kinda gay (actually he plays him realllly gay) so you don't feel any sexual chemistry between the two. I normally like Bobby Canavale (Station Agent baby) but he is horribly miscast. Sara Paulson has better chemistry with Matthew Perry (as we saw in Studio 60), who I think would have been a much better choice.

I wanted to like the new Cupid but if the guy playing Cupid is wrong - the whole thing stinks.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Fuck You, Fuck You Penguin

Thank you Spence for introducing me the amazing blog "Fuck You, Penguin." I have been crying/laughing for about a half hour now and my stomach/face hurts. One of my fave posts is about peacocks and the post title is, "Keep It In Your Pants Buddy." I could not keep myself composed while reading the post titles out loud to my husband. He had to turn on CSpan to calm me down.

If you love animals (or hate them) this blog is for you.

MET Costume Instistute Gala

Edgy - Good:

Edgy - Bad:

Saturday, May 2, 2009

My New Obsession - Musically Speaking

Why have I not heard of Florence & the Machines until now? Her voice is ridiculously amazing. This is a live video of Dog Days Are Over. Here is a link to the official (very creepy raggedy ann on crack) video. They do an awesome cover of the Cold War Kids' Hospital Beds. Check em out loves.