Friday, July 13, 2018

Sona Needs A Car

The legendary Sona/Conan (Sonan?) comedy team reunites to get Sona a new vehicle.  Frankly, I was hoping for one of those hummers, painted in the shade of Conan's hair.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Saint Mark 2.0

To be canonized as a saint in the Catholic Church, one must have two recorded miracles to their credit.  Piece of cake.

MIRACLE THE FIRST: Years ago, I was doing some work while listening to music, and my iTunes shuffle randomly delivered these four songs in a row.

* I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For (original album version)
* I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For (Rattle & Hum live version)
* Pride (Rattle & Hum live version)
* Pride (original album version)

This was on a complete shuffle of my entire library, so it wasn't a case where I had a specific U2 mix or anything.  Out of over 600 songs at that point, this exact quartet came up.  I ask you, what are the odds of that happening?

Now, you might ask how this could technically be a miracle from my own hand, as it would seemingly be just a coincidental spin of my iTunes' song-picking matrix.  But, think about it....who put the songs ON the iTunes in the first place?  #Mindblown #GalaxyBrain #Whaaaaaaaat

MIRACLE THE SECOND: Years ago, my friends and I were hanging out at the Palasade, London's finest all-purpose game-based eatery.  Picture a Chuck E. Cheese for adults.  After a night of carousing, we hit the arcade for some fun, and I happened upon a Deal Or No Deal game.  I selected my briefcase* and away I went, with the machine offering tokens for the arcade's prize booth in lieu of actual cash.

* = sadly, I don't remember the exact number of my case.  If I had to guess, it was Aaron Rodgers' #12, or perhaps #5 in honour of Johnny Five from Short Circuit.

I almost instantly knocked several of the biggest dollar values off the board with my first few cases, leaving me with a tough decision.  Statistically, I probably should've walked away right there and taken the banker's offer...but no.  I went into the next round and knocked out more cases, leaving just the "million dollars" at the top and then a long dropoff to the remaining figures.  Again, by all logic, I should've taken the banker's next offer....but no.

On and on we went, until there's just my own case and one remaining on the board.  The million is still active, as is one token minor dollar amount, $25 or something.  The banker offers me the halfway point between the two sums.  Anyone with any vague knowledge of the Monty Hall Problem would've been screaming at me to take the sum and walk away, secure in the comfort of being able to spend my tokens on at least some candy rather than risk it all and wind up with one stinking token and would hardly have bought me a single Skittle.

And yet, I just knew.  I rode all the way to the end with my briefcase, and sure enough, there was the top prize.  I was a millionaire, of sorts.  The Palasade patrons were treated to quite the display of whooping as I celebrated my victory, with the machine just spewing out tokens in an unbroken stream of glory.

If I recall correctly, I spent all 100 tokens or whatever it was on those little rocket-sticks candy things.  They were delicious.  My dentist probably shuddered, but whatever, it was glorious.

So there they are, my two miracles.  Ball's in your court now, Pope.  Question, do I actually have to be Catholic to be a saint, since that might be a bit of a roadblock.  Also, since there already is a Saint Mark, so I get Roman numerals beside my name or what?

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Between Two Ferns?!

As one might say about Hangover sequels except without the tinge of disappointment in their voice....they're still doing these?  It's hard to top the surreal nature of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as guests, but if you think about it, Seinfeld is basically the president of 90's comedy.  Sure, why not.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

The Warriors Aren't "Unfair"

Boogie Cousins just signed a one-year deal to join the Warriors for the mid-level exception ($5.3 million) salary.  The move has triggered a fresh wave of complaining about how the Golden State dynasty is bad for the NBA and how the Warriors' accumulation of talent is somehow unfair or anti-competition.

Here's the breakdown of why this argument is, in short, dumb....

* Golden State built its core group from within.  Five other teams had a chance to draft Steph Curry in 2009.  Nine other teams had a chance to draft Klay Thompson in 2011.  EVERY team had a chance to draft Draymond Green in 2012, as the Warriors didn't take him until the second round.  This is some all-time talent mining, as Golden State is the rare NBA powerhouse that wasn't built around a clear-cut, top-of-the-draft franchise player that everyone knew was going to be great from day one.  Just as crucially, because these guys weren't all total blue-chip picks, Golden State was able to sign them to contract extensions that ended up being massive bargains for the team, and allowed them the future salary cap space for signing the likes of Kevin Durant.

I think this is at the root of most fans' anti-Warriors frustrations --- they're just mad that their team didn't draft this well. 

* Because NBA history is littered with superstar players (like Kevin Durant) leaving their original team to join up with a team that has a better chance of winning.  I have to laugh when I see NBA old-timers complaining that they would've never "joined a rival" as Durant allegedly did, when half of the big stars in history pulled strings to end up with their preferred team, usually the Lakers.

Also, people seem to be overlooking the 'free' aspect of free agency.  Why *wouldn't* Durant have wanted to join Golden State?  If you take it from a real-world context, if someone is working at a successful-but-flawed company, what would be wrong with them leaving for a job at the most successful company in the same industry?  The same fans ripping on Durant for this so-called sellout move would've been the same fans criticizing Durant for his lack of rings, had he remained in Oklahoma City with the seemingly-insufferable-to-play-with Russell Westbrook.  It wouldn't surprise me if Durant made up his mind about leaving OKC the moment the Thunder dealt James Harden; here was a team that had an even better homegrown trio than the Warriors, yet they threw Harden away rather than pay a few extra million in luxury tax money.

* The same "why WOULDN'T a free agent want to go to Golden State" argument can be applied to Cousins, albeit in a very different circumstance.  Cousins is trying to return from a torn Achilles and very well might not actually take the court until 2019.  He's going to be spending this season figuring out what he can and can't do physically, so this is definitely not going to be the All-Star version of Boogie that fans are remembering.  I'm sure he would've loved a max contract had one been on the table, but teams were understandably not willing to make such an offer to a player coming off such a major surgery, not to mention a player with Cousins' off-the-court baggage.  It wouldn't be a shock if Golden State outright releases Cousins at some point if he becomes an issue, either physically or personality-wise, since the team has so little invested in him.  

* Getting back to my point about how NBA stars throughout history have happily joined up with better teams, why are fans acting like the Warriors' superiority is somehow a new thing for basketball?  No league is as dynasty-driven as the NBA.  From the Celtics to the Lakers to the Bulls to the Lakers again to the Spurs to the Warriors, not to mention mini-dynasties in between like the brief periods of dominance for the Pistons, Rockets, and Heat, the league has always been all about teams completely taking things over for years to decades at a time.

The Warriors are almost surely going to win the NBA championship against in 2018-19, so if you're tired of watching them win, too bad.  After next season, however, things get interesting.  Thompson will be a free agent.  Durant has a player option for 2019-20, so he could potentially pursue another challenge elsewhere.  If the original team was Phase One and the Durant era was Phase Two, it'll be fascinating to see how things develop for Golden State in the next phase of their dynasty, if it even remains a dynasty.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

The Maple Leaf Forever

Can you believe I let it get past 11pm on Canada Day before making my traditional July 1 "here's a bunch of Canadian stuff" post?  Shameful.

We begin this year's collection with JOHN TAVARES SIGNING WITH THE MAPLE LEAFS.  This is not a drill, people!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Use Your Illusion I and II*

Our first bit of visual trickery has two rules. Stare directly at the red dot for about 30 seconds. Then, look away at a blank surface and start blinking your eyes rapidly. A rather surprising image will appear as you blink. You guessed it, it's Frank Stallone.

Our second illusion is a man who appears to be losing his head. Not, losing his head in an INXS fashion (I meant only the song, you ghouls!), but rather this fellow appears to literally have his skull vanish. Ooooh! That's incredible! *cymbal crash*

* = My friend Misha is maybe the biggest G&R diehard on the planet.  He no doubt saw this blog title, thought "All right, Mark is going to review these albums, this should be interesting!" and was then horribly disappointed. Sorry, Misha. Even worse, if I do ever review those records, I'll have to use a different title. Maybe I can just allude to the records, and title it 'Use Your Allusion' or something? Use Your Allusion 2? I dunno.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

McCartney Carpool

Like everyone else on the internet, I'm going to share this.  I'm not even a big Corden fan, though this was delightful.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

My AFI Ranking

No, this isn't my latest favourite song ranking, covering the music of AFI.

The American Film Institute released its initial list of the "100 greatest mostly-American movies ever made" back in 1998, and then they released a revamped version in 2007.  There has been some speculation that another update is coming as soon as this year, so just to duck under the wire here, I thought it'd be fun to rank the 2007 entries.  I was partially inspired by the Amy Nicholson/Paul Scheer "Unspooled" podcast, wherein the duo discusses each of the 100 entries after, in some cases, watching them for the first time.  (As a longtime HDTGM listener, it's interesting hearing Scheer talk about actual good movies for a change of pace.)

So first up, I'll be honest...I haven't seen all 100 movies.  Not even close, as it turns out.  The fact I haven't seen over a third of the list may make one doubt my competence and/or credibility as a film critic altogether, some might argue.  To this I say, get your own blog!

The ones I haven't seen, a.k.a. the shame list: 12 Angry Men, The African Queen, The Apartment, Apocalypse Now, Ben-Hur, The Best Years Of Our Lives, The Bridge On The River Kwai, Bringing Up Baby, Cabaret, Easy Rider, The Gold Rush, Gone With The Wind, In The Heat Of The Night, Intolerance, It Happened One Night, The Last Picture Show, Lawrence Of Arabia, Midnight Cowboy, Modern Times, Nashville, Network, A Night At The Opera, On The Waterfront, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, The Philadelphia Story, The Searchers, Schindler’s List, Shane, Sophie’s Choice, The Sound Of Music, Sullivan’s Travels, Swing Time, The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre, West Side Story, The Wild Bunch, Yankee Doodle Dandy

And now, onto the sweet sixty-three.  I should note, by the way, that my personal top 100 based on the AFI jury's criteria (feature film length, at least mostly American-made or American-financed, critical recognition, major awards won, popularity over time, historical significant, cultural impact) would naturally be quite a bit different, though perhaps not as different as you might think.  Consider that just one part of that criteria, the "critical recognition," is specifically related to how good the movie actually is.  I might think a film like, say, 2001 just off the top of my head, is frightfully ponderous, yet I certainly have to include it on a top-100 due to sheer importance in cinematic history.  One has to at least somewhat set their personal feelings aside for a list like this...but let's be real, Vertigo isn't the best movie ever, people.  It may not even be top ten Hitchcock.  Orson Welles scoffs at Vertigo.

My ranking!

63. The Deer Hunter
62. A Clockwork Orange
61. Vertigo
60. It’s A Wonderful Life
59. King Kong
58. Mr. Smith Goes To Washington
57. The Grapes Of Wrath
56. 2001: A Space Odyssey
55. Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs
54. Spartacus
53. The Godfather Part 2
52. North By Northwest
51. The Graduate
50. MASH
49. The Sixth Sense
48. Raging Bull
47. All About Eve
46. The Maltese Falcon
45. The General
44. Forrest Gump
43. Platoon
42. Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid
41. The French Connection
40. Saving Private Ryan
39. The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring
38. City Lights
37. Some Like It Hot
36. All The President’s Men
35. Double Indemnity
34. Rocky
33. Psycho
32. Tootsie
31. Titanic
30. Annie Hall
29. A Streetcar Named Desire
28. High Noon
27. Sunset Boulevard
26. The Silence Of The Lambs
25. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
24. Unforgiven
23. Sunrise
22. Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?
21. The Wizard Of Oz
20. The Shawshank Redemption
19. Raiders Of The Lost Ark
18. Toy Story
17. To Kill A Mockingbird
16. Blade Runner
15. Duck Soup
14. Taxi Driver
13. Do The Right Thing
12. Jaws
11. Rear Window
10. The Godfather
9. Star Wars
8. American Graffiti
7. Chinatown
6. Dr. Strangelove
5. Goodfellas
4. Bonnie & Clyde
3. Pulp Fiction
2. Casablanca
1. Citizen Kane 

Saturday, June 23, 2018


 So I'm watching an old episode of "8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown," and Holly Walsh introduces her mascot as an actual mascot --- Kingsley, the new face of Partick Thistle F.C., a Scottish football team.  I laughed at the joke, and laughed even harder when I looked it up and realized that it wasn't even a joke.*  This was the REAL mascot for Partick Thistle, and apparently I've been living under a bridge somewhere since Kingsley's introduction three years ago (as you might expect) created a huge social media buzz.

* = I realize that Walsh stressed it was genuine several times, but you really can't anything said on this show at face value.  For instance, Sean Lock probably isn't actually a cranky psychopath who would happily erase people, Thanos-style.  Probably.

Needless to say, I couldn't be more delighted by the fact that a professional club decided to fully embrace goofiness in such an overt way.  There's technically a theme behind it, as the designer has claimed that Kingsley represents the angst of being a fan of a Glasgow team that isn't Celtic or Rangers, but let's be real, everything about this project is done with tongue in cheek. 
Since, if you're Thistle, why not?  I daresay that Kingsley generated more publicity for the club than anything else in its 142-year history.  Let's face it, beyond Celtic or Rangers, it's very easy for a Scottish football team to get relegated to obscurity.  (Or, simply relegated.)  If pressed to list Scottish teams aside from Celtic and Rangers, I could only name Hearts and Dundee due to general knowledge, Inverness Caledonian Thistle due to their famous upset over Celtic and the subsequent incredible "Super Caley Go Ballistic, Celtic Are Atrocious" headline, and now Partick Thistle, based solely on Kingsley's existence. 

More teams should jump on board the bandwagon.  For instance, it should be noted that Partick's most common nickname is "the Jags," so a sun is a completely bizarre choice for a team that has little-to-no relation to anything solar, beyond their red-and-yellow uniforms.  Ergo, the Jacksonville Jaguars should also adopt a crazed sun as their mascot, replacing Jaxson de Ville.  Perhaps Jaxson and Kingsley should battle it out to determine mascot supremacy, with the loser replacing Blake Bortles as the team's quarterback.  Come on, which sounds like a better QB name --- Blake Bortles, or Jaxson Kingsley?

Monday, June 18, 2018

Hot! Live! Music!

tUnE-yArDs, "Water Fountain"
My enjoyment of this song and this performance is only slightly tempered by my annoyance at having to type out the silly stylized name.

U2, "Moment Of Surrender"
I'll be the first to admit that No Line On The Horizon isn't one of U2's best albums, but that record has seven minutes of pure joy in Moment Of Surrender.  I almost wrote "seven minutes of heaven," but that would've been kind of weird.

Postmodern Jukebox, "Don't Stop Me Now" (Queen cover)
I'm not saying I wasn't impressed by the trailer, but Melinda Doolittle seems like a much better Freddie Mercury than Mr. Robot.

R.E.M. "Let Me In"
This one is courtesy of the "R U Talkin' R.E.M. Re: Me?" podcast, which was formerly known as "U Talkin' U2 To Me."  As you might expect, this pod focuses on the R.E.M. discography rather than U2's albums, but it's still Scott Aukerman and Adam Scott talking nonsense for about 75% of the show.  Maybe a bit less than 75%, actually, since it seems like Adam Scott is a bigger R.E.M. fan and actually has more to say, though it's maybe balanced out by Aukerman knowing very little about the band's post-80's work.  Still, if you like R.E.M. and have patience for lots of non-band-related goofing around, it's worth the listen.