Weezer's "Red" Album Makes Me Red with (St.) Anger.

Rivers could fart for an album and I'd still give it a listen.

That being said, what a pile of dogshit. This pile of dogshit smells slightly less pungent than Weezer's last pile of dogshit. The only reason would be track 2 of this album, titled 'The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn).' Okay, this song is also really stupid. Stupid fun. Beginning with a weepy piano line, transitioning into Rivers's patented shit-rap, then some heavy rock, followed by acoustic guitar/vocals, then choral anthems...it's the 'experimental' track. And Rivers's idea of experimentation would be mixing The Blue album, The Green album, Pinkerton, Maladroit, and Make Believe into one track. Oh, including his patented shit-rap (did I mention there's a track called "Everybody Get Dangerous" on here? Guess how the chorus goes.)

Everything else here makes my heart hurt, just as bad as Make Believe did. I used to worship these guys. They changed the way I looked at music. They were my first rock and roll concert, right after Pinkerton came out, age 12. Then, I felt like the only kid who cared about Weezer. A couple years later, everyone else my age realized how emo they were and gave Pinkerton another listen and they became one of the most revered bands of the 90s. Then "The Green album" happened. Okay, fine. They got a pass. "Blue" and Pinkerton allotted them a mediocre album. Then Maladroit. Had a jam or two, and "December" harked back to the Weezer of old. Okay, fine - we'll continue waiting for the next masterpiece.

Then came Make Believe. I took its rottenness personally. Vomiting, and then eating my own vomit, I thought, would be more appealing than listening to this album. The one song that didn't induce vomit or tears was the 3rd track, and it sounded like the fucking Cure. So fuck that song, too - if I want a Cure song, I know where to go.

So I expected nothing of "The Red album." Just promised myself to listen to every album they put out and discard immediately if necessary. Another obvious blunder of "The Red album"...well, I'll preface this by saying that I applaud Rivers for getting over himself enough to make this album a more collaborative effort than "I write, you play. No questions!" However, why the fuck would you let anyone else in the band take lead vocals on a song? You've done a lot of stupid shit, Rivers. Lots. But the dumbest thing you did was extricate your voice from your music - arguably your music's signature. 3 or 4 Weezer songs without Rivers's lead vocals is 3 or 4 too many.

But this song(!) where Rivers started singing "I am the great-est - man that ev-er li-ived..." Like all my friends, the first listen made me slap my forehead/roll my eyes/contemplate skipping the track when he started rapping. Slowly, it started sucking less, caught my attention with an old Weezer sound, and eventually forced me to consider it as a guilty pleasure. I won't hold my breath, but I hope I can say the same for Weezer's future.


The (Un)Official End of the Siskel & Ebert Legacy

In college, I ranted and raved about how much Roger Ebert sucks. No secret - I was always a Gene Siskel fan. Now that the end of their highly renowned TV show, "Siskel & Ebert At The Movies," is nigh...hell. I'll miss hating that slightly chubby, droopy Ebert face. What was "Siskel & Ebert" became "Ebert & Roeper at the Movies," and Richard Roeper sucks as hard, if not more than Ebert. So no, I never really tuned in after Siskel whisked off to the afterlife, but that's not the point.

As much as I hate that Ebert guy and his (re)views, they're almost uniformly different than mine. That's invaluable when evaluating art, something I learned after an extended period of stubbornness. Not that his disagreements would suddenly enlighten me, but only differing opinions will help my intellect for films grow. Ebert has stuck his thumb up for all kinds of stupid bullcrap excuses for movies, but he watches them with different, more learned eyes than mine. I can't discount that.

Due to illness and currently not having a voice, it's been well over a year, maybe two, since Ebert hosted his own show. Even if I want, I can't watch his jowls spout erratic, asinine opinions with succinct and effective criticisms behind them (I still don't get how that happens, how anyone not brainless could stick a thumb or two up for Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, without the tongue placed firmly in the cheek). I didn't think he'd return to television before his mortality took hold, but I can't help feeling like the loss is greater now. Effectively, Richard Roeper and Chicago Tribune critic Michael Phillips had taken over and will continue to seek out a new television show elsewhere.

Prolly won't watch that either.

It was good to know that such a program hosted by such a scholar aired weekly, enlightening the public in a way that doesn't talk down to viewers.

Not anymore.

I suppose it's natural that execs feel the need to dumb it down to appeal to children, but in my always humble opinion, children actually interested in film criticism will not be interested in this revamped kiddie show. Those children will be found pruning through rottentomatoes.com to find the highest rated, bonehead action flicks and screwball-potty-humor comedies (we won't kid ourselves - even the intelligent kids want that stuff). So, I hope your new show tanks, ABC Disney, and you wake up with bananas in your butts (big kids like potty-humor, too).


Why So Serious? Heath's So Funny! and other Dark Knight thoughts

I think the funniest thing I read about Heath's performance was that it was completely overshadowed by Aaron Eckhart's performance as Harvey Dent. Christopher Orr of The New Republic you contrarian bastard you.

We'll get back to that. He's wrong, by the way. Dead wrong. And stupid.

And not good looking (possibly, I don't know).

Again, Christopher Nolan and company proved with The Dark Knight that summer blockbusters don't have to be total suck-fests of explosions and bad dialogue. 2005's Batman Begins expanded my expectations of what could be a good superhero movie, which continued evolving with Knight. As my latte-sipping-film-connoisseur friend said of this latest Batman flick, "It's not a superhero movie. It's a great film." Sure, whatever - the guy still wears a cape and fights crime. It's a great superhero movie that also happens to be a great film.

All the cast members known and loved from Begins return here (yes, all of them. No one liked Katie Holmes because she lost her teenage-Dawson's-Creek-charm and married a friggin' psycho. And Maggie Gyllenhaal is way cooler, actually acts well, and looks like less of a chipmunk), with a handful of highly anticipated characters, specifically Harvey Dent and The Joker.

(Spoilers kept minimal and insignificant, regrettably)

Now, how anyone could call Aaron Eckhart's performance as Harvey Dent a 'show stealer' over Heath Ledger's joker is beyond my comprehension. The uniqueness to Harvey Dent resides in tragedy. The role of a tragic character has limitations in how the character develops as tragedy unfolds. Not to take any credit away from Eckhart's performance - he was well-cast and executed a gut-wrenching, sympathetic performance. (Everyone knows through Batman folklore that Harvey Dent is Two-Face, but if you haven't seen The Dark Knight, he can fall from grace without becoming Two-Face yet, spoiler haters...)

But don't we tire of the tragic, fallen hero? Even more specifically, the hero? This film's central theme segues nicely into my point that The Joker stole the show and was my on-screen hero. "Why So Serious?" indeed, said the villain/comic relief. The brilliance of Ledger's performance had been lauded an obscene amount before the film's release, to the point of early-July Oscar buzz from critics and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Now I see why people would say crap like that, but that trivialized his performance more than it drew attention to its finer nuances that one can't gauge with a golden naked anatomically incorrect statue. When I think of an obvious Oscar-winning performance, I think of Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood or Helen Mirren in The Queen. Neither of these had mass appeal, which was why Ledger's Joker thrived - the intricacy, brilliance, irony, subtlety, blah, blah, and blah of Ledger's Joker lied in its mass appeal.

(Sorry, gotta start a new paragraph for the posthumous jerking off of how hard this performance rocked...)

What Ledger did was make us forget he was acting. Make us forget he was brilliant. Make us forget he rehearsed these lines. Make us forget they said that Jack Nicholson was born to play the Joker. Make us forget we all raised a collective eyebrow upon the news of Ledger's casting. Make us forget, in the face of a media that would not let us, that this was his swansong performance. As Christopher Nolan predicted, none of this could impact the audience's reaction. The audience need not analyze anything about his performance to enjoy it; on the other hand, they could analyze everything. When he says "...kill the Batman," we all just laughed, everyone. It was funny. Or, you could analyze Ledger's delivery of the line. He understood the monotony and cliche behind such a line, but he also recognized that it is the penultimate goal of a villain, if not specifically the penultimate line. Since when was it a secret the villain wants to kill the hero? Why do other films/villains/actors pretend it is a secret? The Joker mocked the question asked of him by potentially fellow villains with his reply; at the same time, Ledger winked at the audience because his character created an anticipation of the bizarre and unthinkable, yet delivered the obvious response. Almost but not quite playing to the cliche of "easier said than done," in regards to "...kill the Batman." Well-played, Heath. Well-played.

In retrospect, I can't say much about Harvey Dent other than important plot points. It's not as good, period. And now that I've written a full rebuttal to Mr. Orr's claim, I'm going to actually read what he said instead of the tagline.

Oh, but see the shit outta this movie. Nothin' but rock and roll, here.


Dunkin Donuts Vs. Krispy Kreme

Dunkin Donuts eked this one out. I get all excited about Krispy Kremes until I eat one and a half and feel the sudden urge to throw it back up. With Dunkin Donuts, I can eat two and wait hours before I feel like death.

That is all.


Zimbabwe's Inflation and the End of Zimbabwean Currency

Here's a photo of the $500 million bank note from Zimbabwe. This note was introduced to the country in May, because the rate of inflation was so high that smaller forms of currency had become obsolete. It was worth $2 USD.

Here's a photo of a Zimbabwean bank note that is now obsolete.

The newest bank note from Zimbabwe? The $50 billion note. It's value? $1 USD. Why isn't it pictured? Well, I guess it's just too new for a picture to have circulated the internet. Read all about it in this article from LATimes, or click on the title of this blog. Anyone who has talked to me since Zimbabwe's March 29th presidential elections knows my thoughts, concerns and unwilling suspensions of disbelief about this, but it'd be cool to have a dialogue with folks on my comments page.

For anyone ever curious what happens when a country crumbles, we might just see it happen with Zimbabwe. I hope we don't.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

I'm gonna go on a limb here and say that this movie about...uhhh.....well, it's about...uhmm... I'm gonna go on a limb here and say that this movie was pretty stupid.
That isn't to say I wasn't entertained, because I was entertained most of the time. But in my first (documented) disagreement with my best friend A.O. Scott of NYTimes, I found the film very tedious and slow at points, whereas he felt the film "pack[ed] a remarkable range of moods and genre elements into a fairly compact 110 minutes." It definitely felt like one-hundred and ten minutes.

I saw Hellboy II because of Pan's Labyrinth; also, I wanted hard evidence as to what vision director Guillermo del Toro may bring to his version of The Hobbit. I hated the first Hellboy, and thought Blade II was as dumb and pointless as 'dark' action movies could get (not that "dark," full of stupid poses w/ sunglasses, full of...well, shit). At first, I didn't enjoy Pan's Labyrinth either, because I didn't know it was a Spanish Civil war movie with sci-fi/fantasy overtones - rather, the other way around. But the visual style of Pan captivated me, and when I saw the Hellboy II trailers (click on title of blog to view or here), I revelled again in del Toro's visual technique and artistic conception of otherworldly creatures. Ecstatic to see a world filled with nothing but these creatures, I plopped $10.50 on the counter for something I didn't get. Don't assume that a film with such visual cohesion could be, in any other conceivable way, cohesive.

What a mess. And that's fine - why do we see action movies anyway? The key to a successful hodge-podgin mess is that I don't sit back mid-movie and think that. Then I don't care what creatures you've created - my watch suddenly looks way more interesting.

Plus side? I laughed very genuinely multiple times. Del Toro has a knack for infusing humor into his bizarre stories - very much a relief for the forthcoming Hobbit film(s). Put this guy to work, Peter Jackson.


The World According to Greeple.

I started writing this blog 2 1/2 months ago and never finished. Now, it's been so long since I finished the book that I don't feel right trying to assess it until I re-read it. My brief observations here were growing to be something I was really proud to have written, but I fizzled. I wanted to go in-depth in ways I've not really done before - for personal growth, and to feel that my writing did this book due justice. So, I post this with some regret. But, if you've read the book, you might appreciate some of the things I'd gotten to address already. If you haven't read the book, I still spit a little vitriol at the movie version for your entertainment. Enjoy. - 9/23/08

Yes yes, I just finished The World According to Garp by John Irving. It's hard to say with certainty, but it may be my new favorite fictional novel. I haven't read anything so bizarre, yet so true to the American experience, that still holds as much relevance today (if not more, arguably) as it did over thirty years ago when it was first published. Upon completion, I felt shaken to the core, exhausted, awed. Barely stopped crying the last 8 pages. Don't think that's ever happened before. Eight pages.

For those unfamiliar, I don't want that to mislead - my tears were a reaction to some of the finest, most clear-headed prose I've read, along with the feeling of losing a companion (the book). Garp could be considered, regrettably, a tragicomedy. But that word makes me chunder in the back of my mouth a bit. When I think tragicomedy, I think 'bad Robin Williams movie like Patch Adams.' Fine - so the film The World According to Garp also stars Robin Williams. Sue me. But I hear the film sucks too. For example, the cover of the movie shows a plane crashing into a house. That just does not happen in the book. So fuck that movie.

Though no summary would suffice, The World According to Garp is about the life of the 'bastard' T.S. Garp and his one-time-only sexually active mother Jenny Fields. We meet Jenny in a movie theatre receiving flirtatious advances from a soldier during wartime, and Nurse Jenny reaches for her handy-dandy scalpel and sliced the guy from shoulder to wrist.

Summary stops here. And yeah, that's within the first several pages or so.

Incredible foreshadowing on behalf of Irving, establishing a central theme in the novel under circumstances so extreme that it's lost on the reader until Jenny announces her thoughts on lust. Guess what? They're rather negative. Lust plagues The World According to Garp. How ironic, then, that Garp grows to be a young-adult male obsessed with his Austrian prostitutes (during his trip to Austria with none other than Jenny Fields, who knowingly wanted to pay for a prostitute for Garp under the acknowledgement that boys can't help their lust), and then a married man obsessed with the babysitter (not to mention Alice (Alith)).

Lust is common, though. To not lust raises suspicion - an issue Jenny fought regularly after conceiving Garp. There was no husband, no courtship to the rest of the world. I'd argue that Jenny was courted by the invalid Garp, whom Jenny nursed (literally, occasionally) until his death. Garp's father, Garp, only attracted Jenny due to his complete inability to lust. He did lust, though (he wasn't actually nursing, obviously), but he lusted in a way that Jenny could interpret as a need for her nurturing.


Porn Vs. Rugby

I'm disappointed, BBC. First of all, you covered a trashy (fine, perhaps 'relevant' though funny) story without including any of the trash. What kind of hardcore porn was it? Standard missionary? Doggy? Blowjob? Money shot compilation? 70's? 80's? Pubic hair or not so much? Hardcore close-up penetration? Double penetration? Two guys and a girl/two girls and a guy? Interracial? BBW's? Toys? Anal Beads? Foot fetish? Orgy? Lesbian orgy? 69? Voyeur video? Amateur? Big Naturals? S & M? Dominatricies? Chicks with dicks? Bukkake?

I mean, really.

Some may consider this 'blurb worthy,' and blurb-ed it was in five sentences. But isn't this the story that could become a human interest piece? Families tuned in to watch grown men inadvertently kick the fuck out of each other while they play rugby; instead, they got...well, I don't know what the fuck they got 'cause BBC feared divulging specifics. We know that it may have been seen by children. What children? Why weren't they interviewed? What happened to real investigative reporting?! Think of the amazing quotes to be obtained.

Feel free to leave comments of styles of porn I omitted.