Sunday, August 31, 2008

Wacky Fun Links

Little bit of cleanup here on the last day of August...and a fine day it is, whenever you can see your favourite ball club beat Satan's squad. The Blue Jays are now 70-66, so they at least have a shot at finishing above .500. Yay consistent mediocrity! Fun fact: since the 1994 strike, only six teams have never made the playoffs --- the Blue Jays, Rays, Royals, Brewers, Pirates and Nationals. And right now it's looking like the Rays and Brew Crew are solid bets to get into the postseason, which leaves Toronto alone with the three worst franchises in baseball. Just great. In a way, I blame my cat. We got him on the same day the Jays won the 1993 World Series (thus why I wanted to name him 'Carter' but was overruled), and since then the team hasn't won a damn thing. It's probably some karmic influence related to owning a cat and rooting for a team named after birds. Maybe this means I should sell my cat, but that wouldn't work since, as music has taught me, he'd just come back the very next day.

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Onto more pleasant matters, namely the ten coolest commercials directed by well-known film directors. Most of these I hadn't seen before, and of the ones I had seen, I didn't realize in most cases that such big names were behind the camera. Now, a couple of the directors (Gondry, Fincher) got their start in TV ads, so it's a bit of a cheat --- it's not like, "Oh yeah, here's a Swiffer Sweeper ad directed by Stanley Kubrick" or anything like that. Even still, it's worth noting when the likes of Michael Mann or Terry Gilliam are involved in a simple commercial. I also love how Wes Anderson's commercial is a self-parody, while Lynch's commercial only seems like self-parody.

I must say, however, that while the Spike Jonze entry on the list was good, this other Jonze ad was great. Oh, Sweden. Is there nothing you can't do correctly?

(Self-plug, my list of the top ten Spike Jonze-directed music videos from last year. Yay re-hashing old material! I'm basically David Lynch.)

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The latest Oscar poll is up, so get to voting, people! The 'winner' (really, the loser) of the last one was Chicago, with five votes, narrowly edging out Beautiful Mind. I've got to say, I'm surprised --- I actually like Chicago a lot. I even own the DVD. My vote mos def went to the largely terrible Beautiful Mind. But, the people have spoken. Who am I to argue the results?...well, wait, actually, Departed somehow got two votes, so I'm forced to argue things once again.

The only other votes went to Return of the King (wtf?) and No Country For Old Men (double wtf?). Seriously, everyone liked Crash and Gladiator? Boy....I'm at a loss.

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And finally, this is who the Republicans think should be vice-president of the United States. I think my favourite user comment was "She has experience staring blankly into a camera and saying other people's words: perhaps she is ready to be a Republican president..." Not to be outdone, expect Stephen Harper to name Jennifer Hedger as his new finance minister.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Vicky Thunder Pants (or, three movie reviews)



The most interesting part of Vicky Cristina Barcelona is that we as viewers experience the film and its events as a trifle, which is the opposite of how the two main characters see things. For Vicky and Cristina, this was a life-changing summer and things were never quite the same again. For the audience, we realize that both girls are basically just flaky and worthless and thus are by far the least interesting things in the movie. Well, that's not quite true, I guess Vicky's fiance and Kevin Dunn's character are less interesting, but they're at least supposed to be dull by design in order to give their wives a chance to be so dissatisfied. Dunn's character's name is Mark, which was troubling from a personal standpoint. Am I crazy, or are there very few heroic Marks in films? This might be a topic for a future blog.

The reason we the people see VCB as a trifle is because this is how things seem to the two real main characters (at least in terms of audience sympathy), Juan Antonio and Maria Elena. One cannot help but see the movie as simply one in a series of episodes in the forever-ongoing drama between the couple, and frankly, given the charisma exuding from Bardem and Cruz, I would've rather seen a few more of those episodes. You have to love how Javier Bardem goes from playing the mop-haired Anton Chigurh to, essentially, the coolest man to ever live. How long do you think it took him to accept this role? "Ok Javier, I'd like you for the role of the suave artist who beds three different beautiful women in the space of 90 minutes...hello? Hello?" Woody couldn't finish his pitch because Bardem had dropped the phone and raced off to the set, leaving a Javier-shaped cloud of dust in his wake like in an old cartoon. You immediately buy into Juan Antonio's attitude towards life and love while, conversely, both mocking Cristina for falling for it so shallowly and mocking Vicky for taking such a stereotypically prudish turning-up-of-the-nose to it. Rebecca Hall, btw, got to play the traditional Woody Allen role of "The Character That Would Be Woody If He Was Acting In This Movie." This was a particularly light example of this phenomenon because, as you may have noticed, Woody Allen isn't a beautiful twentysomething woman, but still, you'll notice a Woody character in most of Allen's films. Notable recent examples include Will Ferrell in Melinda And Melinda, and Kenneth Branagh in Celebrity. While Rebecca Hall didn't exactly set the world on fire with her performance, at least she did a better job than Kenneth "I Am Jon Lovitz's Actor Character" Branagh.

But, the bottom line is, you resent Vicky and Cristina for being such posers in the magical Barcelona in the movie and basically want to just get to the fireworks factory, a.k.a. Juan Antonio and Maria Elena. They're basically a sexy, Spanish, insane version of George and Gracie. I wanted to see more of them, particularly Maria Elena. I hadn't heard much about VCB going into it, but I had heard that Penelope Cruz gave a hilarious, scene-stealing performance that was getting Oscar buzz. Maria Elena is built up for the entire first half of the movie as this wild force of nature, and while what Cruz delivers is indeed pretty great, she's only on-screen for about 10 minutes. She has the one awesome scene where she rants at Cristina while Juan Antonio (who up to this point had been the definition of cool) is meekly reduced to repeatedly asking her to speak English, but after that, we see far too little of Maria Elena. As I said, an entire movie about these two would be much appreciated, though I'm not sure if Allen is quite the man to make it. Someone get Pedro Almodovar on the phone.

In summation, VCB is pretty middling Woody Allen. If Allen's filmography was the White Album, this movie is Why Don't We Do It In The Road. This is actually kind of ironic, given that the road is one of the few locations where the characters don't have sex. The movie's other big selling point is that after seeing it, you will want to hop on a plane to Barcelona so fast that Air Canada may have to sedate you in order to not disrupt the other passengers. I kind of love how it took Woody 30 years of making movies before he discovered that he could shoot films outside of New York. If he had gotten to Europe sooner, he could've gotten in on the whole underage-wife thing a lot earlier.

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Tropic Thunder is pretty amazing, though it will take a few more viewings before we can answer the burning question of 'was it funnier than Zoolander?' It's a close call. Zoolander had Billy Zane, walkoffs and using black lung as a punchline. Then again, Tropic Thunder had panda-killing, a grown man tossing a small child off of a bridge, and Tobey Maguire as a bi-curious monk. Yow.

What may eventually cinch it for Tropic Thunder is Robert Downey Jr., who gives one of the funniest performances I've ever seen. He is just so completely into it that you can't help but laugh at every word that comes out of his mouth. The weird thing is, the character is kind of a contradiction --- Kirk Lazarus is supposed to be this intense actor who gets deep into character in his films, but yet, throughout the film, he's still Kirk Lazarus talking about acting and the real world, but just Kirk adopting the manner of a rugged black Vietnam vet. I guess script-wise, one of the major three actors (Downey, Stiller, Black) had to be the semi-voice of reason, but otherwise, it would've made more sense to have Kirk so deep into character that he didn't even acknowledge the fact that he was in a movie. I guess this was all a moot point since Downey was so funny, and plus then we wouldn't have gotten the scene where he warns Stiller about the dangers of going 'full retard' into roles.

My rave review here may have been influenced by the fact that I saw the movie in a packed house that laughed at pretty much everything for 90 minutes. That sort of environment (especially when watching a comedy) definitely plays a factor. In fact, the audience provided a laugh in and of itself --- when Tom Cruise makes his first appearance, I laughed both at his character, and at the crowd's en masse slow realization that holy crap, that's Tom Cruise. I always wonder, when I see on Cribs how some famous person has a personal movie theatre installed in their home, do they bring in large groups of friends to fill the place out? Otherwise, they're losing a lot of the cinematic experience by just sitting by themselves with their feet up, smoking a big cigar like Sideshow Bob watching an Ernest movie.

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The story of how I came to see The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants II: Pants Harder is probably more entertaining than my review will be. Ok, so, basically, my friend Aron and I were going to see Tropic Thunder and we invited along our friend Lori as well. Lori said she was on the fence about going, but asked what theatre and show we were seeing and said she might meet us there. So, I head downtown to pick up tickets (by the way, this was on Tropic Thunder's opening night), only to be told that the last two screenings were sold out. Uh oh. So I called Aron and hastily arranged to pick him up and haul ass to another theatre, where we just managed to get into a packed house.

Now, as you'll notice here, we didn't exactly tell Lori about this. I would've done it myself except apparently her phone was on the fritz, so calling was out of the question. Aron fortunately was able to send her a Facebook message that got to her just before she left for the theatre and got stood up, so in the end, everyone ended up winning. Well, I guess except Lori, who didn't get to see Tropic Thunder, but that leads to the next night. The two of us were chatting on MSN and I made some comment that I owed her a movie, to which she immediately brought up seeing Traveling Pants as I suddenly realized the gravity of my mistake. I then compounded things by begging off driving into town for the 6:40 show at the theatre a block away from her house since I wouldn't make it in time (it was 6:30 at the time of our chat, I stand by my claim --- I'm not Nigel Mansell, people) and instead proposed that she take the streetcar to the stop near my building, upon which I'd drive us into Etobicoke for the 7:25 show.

Now, those of you with even a basic knowledge of Toronto geography will see the flaw in my plan. I was counting on a streetcar to get halfway across the city in a pretty condensed period of time, especially given that my place is still a 5-10 minute drive to the Etobicoke theatre depending on traffic. So poor Lori ended up spending a good half-hour on the streetcar, all the while cursing me under her breath. As god as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly....and that it was no more than a 20-minute ride from Queen/Spadina down to my Queensway pad. I take that route all the time back home from the ballpark, though now that I'm actually writing it down, it occurs to me that I'm taking the streetcar at night when there's no traffic, whereas she rode it during rush hour. Huh.

Anyway, the upshot of it is that we didn't make the 7:20 show, and I ended up driving back downtown with Lori to attend the late show at (you guessed it) the theatre a block away from her house. The mood of the car ride was similar to the one that followed Homer forgetting to pick up Bart from soccer practice, except that at least I didn't spill ice cream on Lori's head. And that, my friends, is the sordid tale of how I (a heterosexual male) ended up seeing the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants II: The Legend of Curly's Pants.

What the hell am I even supposed to say about the movie? To paraphrase Dennis Green, it was what I thought it was. The girls all learned important life lessons, they dated guys with rather improbable abdominal muscles and in the end, they all remained the very best of friends. The main dramatic point of the film was (hold onto your hats) when the pants were lost in Greece by Alexis Bledel's vindictive little sister. Holy. Fucking. Shit. Such villainy has rarely been seen on the big screen. The Joker wasted a lot of time blowing up hospitals when he could've really gotten Batman's goat simply by losing his pants in a foreign country. Maybe that's a DVD extra --- Batman soaring through the skyscrapers of Hong Kong, all the while using his night-vision goggles to scan the streets for any sign of the Bat-trousers.

Some basic flaws.....

* Alexis Bledel, a.k.a. the whitest girl ever, was supposed to be from a Greek background. You would've had an easier time convincing me that Robert Downey Jr. was actually black. Or that Heath Ledger actually descended from a long line of clowns.

* Bledel's character, an art student, dates the guy who's the nude model in her class. First of all, the guy looked sort of like Derek Jeter, so I immediately hated him. Second, if you're the nude model, isn't it a pretty big risk to date one of the people you're posing in front of? I mean, keeping your concentration as a nude model must be hard enough, but when the person you're intimate with is right there in front of you, doesn't that increase your chances of....uh....certain body parts 'breaking the pose,' shall we say? Unless the guy actually was Jeter and thus could more easily be absorbed in the guy trick of thinking about baseball.

* America Ferrera's mother is played by Rachel Ticotin, best known as Arnold's love interest in Total Recall but to me, she'll always be the cop from Falling Down, one of my personal choices as one of the most underrated movies of the 90's. With this vast background, ergo, I had trouble believing Ticotin as just an average suburban mom. For example, when she was giving birth, her eyes didn't even pop out of her head like when she and Arnold were trapped outside the space station in the zero-gravity environment.

* In other hilarious casting news, Blake Lively's archeology professor was Shohreh Aghdashloo, best known to most as the matriarch of the evil Araz family in season four of 24. This is the problem when someone is best-known (at least to me) as a villain, especially one as memorable as Dina Araz --- it's hard to suddenly flip the switch and accept them as a kindly teacher, no matter how good an actor they are. To this day, if I ran into the guy who played Buffalo Bill on the street, I'd probably punch him in the face and call the cops.

* Amber Tamblyn's character's boyfriend briefly dates Alexis Bledel's younger sister, the aforementioned pants-loser. He does this not out of spite or malice, but simply because he likes the younger sister and thinks nothing of the fact that his ex might be upset about it. Smooth. He further proves his worthlessness by not knowing how to properly apply a condom without breaking it, which causes his initial breakup with Amber in the first place. Seriously, what a douchebag. As a man, I was offended at this stereotypical portrayal of my gender. On the bright side, Bledel's sister at least looked more Greek, with eyebrows thicker than a Chekhov text.

* The loss of the pants is treated by the girls with DEFCON-1 seriousness. I mostly kept a look of vaguely bemused disdain on my face throughout the entire film, but I laughed out loud when one of the girls actually snapped, "Guys...we need to focus on the pants here." They actually drop everything and travel to Greece in order to look for them. Once they get there, they....well, they mostly just hang out. I guess they put up a few flyers. Maybe the DVD will have a deleted scene of Blake Lively walking through the streets yelling 'Here pants!'

* And finally, the basic conceit of the series, namely that one pair of pants could fit four women of distinctly different body types. There is not a woman on the planet that believes that such a garment would actually exist. You don't even see anything so outlandish in the Harry Potter books --- that's right, J.K. Rowling knows the score. The four girls and their single pair of pantaloons is the exactly inverse of my situation. I own four pairs of pants of ostensibly the same size, yet none fit in exactly the same way. Though if I ever lost one of them, you guessed it, I'd be off to Greece! And by Greece, I mean Mark's Work Warehouse.

In the end, Lori was entertained, if not by the movie so much as taking pleasure in watching me watch the movie. She explained to me how the plots of the movies actually differed from the books, since the plot of this film was largely taken from the fourth book in the series, and thus there's lots more to the story from the second and third installments. More Traveling Pants movies? Oh joy. I'll go and see one of those around the same time I see Rebecca Hall win an Oscar.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Team-Up #3: Kyle and Mark Discuss The Summer Olympics





Kyle talked about the Beijing Games on his blog, and I've talked about it on my blog, but now, in this post, we BOTH talk about the Olympics....at the SAME TIME! This is the same kind of logic that leads to movies like Rush Hour being made, but, without further adieu....

Kyle: Alright, I'm too self-conscious to start this, so you'll have to...

Mark: Ok, it begins......... ......now. So, the Olympics. Good thing we're writing this before people completely forget about them and move onto a) NFL season, b) MLB pennant races, c) Democratic convention, d) Labor Day parties.....and then pretend I named 89 other things before getting to the FedEx Cup.

Kyle: I know this is strictly about the Olympics, but, quickly: a) I'm just getting into Hard Knocks (great show! How have I missed the first SEVEN seasons); b) I don't want to talk about this; c) was it me or did Hillary's endorsement of Obama not really contain an endorsement...or talk about Obama? Maybe they could make self-aggrandizing speeches a demonstration sport in 2012.

Mark: At least she ripped on McCain for a while, which basically has the same effect. Seriously, there is no more overblown media storyline than "Will Hillary's supporters vote for Obama?" Of course they will! They're not idiots. They're not going to vote against a guy who agrees with 90% of their platform for a guy who agrees with 20% of their platform.

Kyle: They will on Thursday (because it'll be a catatrophe otherwise), but in November? Who the hell knows? They may just be stupid enough to do something that illogical (some of them, at least). Incidentally, how horrible was Hil's "sisterhood of the traveling pantsuit" line? I considered performing a makeshift lobotomy on myself after hearing it...

Alright, now, let's FOCUS. How were the Olympics for you? How many hours of coverage did you end up watching? Don't you miss them just a little bit?


Mark: I actually watched more of these Games than I have of any Olympics since Salt Lake City. That's what happens when you're marginally employed and keep weird sleeping habits.

Kyle: For all the talk about the time zone issues--or was that just me?--it kind of worked out perfectly. Live stuff in the a.m., replays of important stuff at night. Plus the whole 12 hour thing made the math super-easy, which is always appreciated.

Mark: Yeah, as much as people complained about certain networks (i.e. NBC) not showing live coverage, it was nice to see an important event in primetime rather than, say, LIVE skeet shooting or something.

Kyle: I'm in the same boat, btw, except replace "Salt Lake" with "Atlanta." I must've watched at least 100 hours, which is impressive/troubling, since I was on honeymoon for the first eight days of the games.

Kyle: I have a theory that NBC should just put up "LIVE" all the time. The idea being that people, ultimately, really don't care if it's not live, so long as no one tells them.

Mark: You'll make a great lawyer, Kyle.

Kyle: I'm putting that on my CV.

Mark: Now, Kyle and I have arranged a few talking points to help arrange this conversation. It's like a presidential debate --- I call Jim Lehrer!

Kyle: I'm Tim Rus--...never mind.

Mark: Let's just assume you meant Tim Russ from Star Trek: Voyager.

Kyle: Nice

Mark: (He played Tuvok, btw...I'm single, ladies)

Kyle: lol

Kyle: Carrie says that that guy was basically Voyager's Spock. I can live with that.

Mark: Oh man, Carrie's a closet Trekkie? Awesome.

Mark: So, anyway, point #1......who was the Olympics' MVP?

Kyle: Well, I think it pretty obviously comes down to one of two people: Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt. Stop me if you disagree.

Kyle: (Man, I'm horrible at staying on topic, but: we went to a wedding last Saturday and, for the kissing game, you had to answer Star Trek trivia (for the groom) or Star Wars trivia (for the bride)...and it was impossible. Though the dozens of vodka and sodas probably didn't help things.)

Kyle: OK, I say it's Phelps...and it's probably not all that close. 8 golds, 7 world records, 2 amazingly memorable finishes--that's a lifetime for most Olympians.

Mark: It's hard to argue, yeah. Too bad his middle name wasn't Vincent, then he could literally do the RVD points-to-self taunt by saying 'M-V-P'........Ok, so I just went to Wikipedia to check out Phelps' entry. Turns out his middle name is Fred. So instead of being MVP, he ends up sharing two-thirds of his name with a crazy racist.

Mark: That said, Bolt's story is pretty amazing. A guy that size, representing a whole new generation of sprinter, breaking two world records (one of which was thought to be unbreakable, the other he broke basically while in second gear), and he just only took up the 100m within the last year.

Mark: And good lord, you were right there in Jamaica in the midst of all of this going on! Was it a veritable Boltamania down there?

Kyle: According to SI, he'd been begging his coach for months to run the 100 and his coach basically said, I'll let you run the 100 as soon as you break the Jamaican record in the 200, which he promptly did. I find this amusing because it makes Bolt seem like he was 9 at the time. Now it'd probably go down more like "I'm Usain Fucking Bolt and I'll run the 10,000 if I feel like it."

Kyle: I've been asked about the Bolt buzz when we were down there and, frankly, it was non-existent. He broke the world record in the 100 our last day there and I didn't hear a single person mention it. Of course, it was an all-inclusive resort, and I imagine much of the staff spends most of the day trying not to cry, but still...

Kyle: Also: three world records if you count the 4x100, which, in itself, appeared untouchable.

Mark: Whatever happened to the days when Canada just poached Jamaica's best sprinters and they all ran for us? Ah, the past.

Kyle: Good times! We were like the Yankees (to the Carribbean's Expos) in the track world. We should definitely go back to that.

Kyle: So, then, are you planting yourself in Bolt's camp...or just playing devil's advocate here?

Mark: No, overall, you've gotta say these Games were all Phelps, all the time. Almost annoyingly so.

Kyle: Wasn't it satisfying to see the entirely-too-smug Mark Spitz put in his place?

Mark: Poor Spitz. Sad day for a fellow Mark. It was bad enough that he couldn't come back from Munich and be all "Pretty rad Olympics, eh?" since everyone was still broken up about the murdered Israeli athletes.

Kyle: That's a fair point re: Spitz. I don't even know: did they do the whole ticker tape parade when he got back...or did everyone sort of pretend that the Games didn't happen? All I know is he retired--at 22!--before the year was out. I also think his ridiculous mustache hurt his marketability just a bit.

Mark: I couldn't disagree more. We need more goofy moustaches in sport. Just look at Giambi this summer --- he started a fever. Sports fans love mustaches, end of story. How else do you think Sal Fasano keeps getting on major league rosters?

Kyle: Hmmm...true. I may need to re-think that. I just find his "Spitz '72 vs. Phelps '08" answer ("well, you really can't compare eras, so who knows?") to be totally disingenuous. He's obviously better than you, why not just admit it and move on? There are Marinos and there are Aarons in this world, and Spitz is definitely a Marino...except with hardware.

Mark: Spitz has got a point, though. That's always my answer when my brother pulls the 'athletes today are better than any old-time athlete' card. Marino is another athlete who would've been more highly regarded if he had a mustache.

Kyle: lol...given that he grew up in Pittsburgh, it's actually fairly astounding that he didn't sport a stache.

Mark: But anyway, we'll save this debate for a future team-up about facial hair.

Kyle: Looking forward to it!

Mark: Ok, topic #2........Canadian MVP?

Kyle: [crickets chirping]. I'd say Simon Whitfield.

Mark: I'd vote for Carol Huynh, just because she was the one who finally broke through and won some hardware. But really, you could pick anyone. Nobody really stood out for Canada in the Games.

Kyle: Is she the wrestler? If so, that's not a bad choice. The reason I say Whitfield is that he won gold eight years ago, but no one seemed to be talking about him this year. Then, the CBC announcers totally write him off during the run, at which point he miraculously runs everyone down. Admittedly, this would be more clear cut had he not been passed right at the end.

Mark: That's also notable because I think it was the only time in the whole Olympics that a CBC announcer actually didn't think a Canadian had a shot.

Kyle: lol, good call. Van Koeverden seemed poised to be the guy, but then he beefed his first race. Damn you, flag-bearer curse!

Mark: I didn't know about that curse until I saw a feature on it after the Games. That's downright shocking. Maybe we should try to avoid it in Vancouver by letting....I dunno, Stephen Harper carry the flag.

Kyle: I like it! Or a polar bear. Then we'll be known as "the team no one wants to fuck with."

Mark: Eric Lamaze was the only Canadian to win more than one medal but.....yeah, equestrian isn't a sport.

Kyle: Hehe...I was just about to say: I suppose you could make a case for the cokehead (aka "Josh Hamilton on a horse"), but then we'd have to recognize the event as legit.

Mark: You know the standard joke of 'They should give the horses medals!' I actually believe that --- they SHOULD give the horses medals. In a world where Barbaro, Cigar, Secretariat, etc. become household names, a medal-winning horse would be box office gold. We could train it to carry the flag in its mouth, alongside your DHARMA-trained polar bear.

Kyle: Hmmm, wouldn't the horse just eat the medal? Maybe more hay is a more equitable solution...btw, can you name any of the Canadian horses? I assume there was more than one (as opposed to just wearing one right down).

Mark: Lamaze's was named Hickstead, I remember that.

Kyle: Impressive. Unless you're just making that up...

Mark: One horse was named Special Ed, which just made me laugh out loud. It would've been great if Ian Millar had been riding the same horse for all these years. He just shows up in Beijing with his beat-up old nag.

Kyle: lol. I'm picturing a U-shaped horse.

Mark: "This is my horse, Uey Lewis. We'll win a medal yet!" "Sure, Ian, whatever you say. Now, go stop your horse from trying to break its own leg."

Kyle: Sticking with Millar, do you think he should come back in 2012? I figure if a senior citizen medals, they have to discontinue the event immediately.

Mark: Absolutely bring him back. It took him this long to win one....he's finally on a roll. Canada needs all the medals it can get

Kyle: Tough Olympics for us. Objectively, we went on a real tear near the end, yet everyone still seems kind of dazed from our first week failures. Also: despite having only about 10 million more people than us, the Ukraine beat the piss out of us in the medal count.

Mark: Well, the Ukraine is strong. And really, Canada was only guilty of bad pacing. If we had won just a medal a day, everyone would've been calling this the best Games ever.

Kyle: Well, we won roughly 3,000 medals in Los Angeles [editor's note: 44, actually] but it may no count, due to the Soviet boycott.

(Also, speaking of Dharma--we were too!--have you noticed how eerily similar the Bay's Olympic logo is to the Dharma octagon? I bought a travel coffee mug for that very reason.)


Mark: Hmmm, is the Bay's president actually Marvin Candle?

Kyle: Maybe he can tell us how we'll do in 2038...

(btw, I'm incredibly jealous you discovered the LOST countdown timer first.)

Mark: Well, I also wasn't on a honeymoon. Ok, topic #3...most interesting subplot. It's not exactly sports-related, but the whole 'IOC and NBC are tacitly ignoring China's human rights violations' thing never got old. Runner-up...how Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin obviously hated each other.

Kyle: lol...but they're roommates! Roomates always get along!

Kyle: NBC's coverage was both inexcusable and totally predictable on this front. This is why I was so irritated when China got the games over Toronto. This whole "well, getting the games will encourage China to be less flagrant with their HR violations and/or the rest of the world will learn about their HR issues" is (and always has been) a bunch of bullshit. Once it's showtime, everything is always going to be whitewashed. Like, you can't have Mary Carillo going to an acupuncturist, followed immediately by an expose on, say, the Great Firewall. It just doesn't work.

Mark: Speaking of Nastia, she and Norm Macdonald were guests on Leno last night. I was secretly hoping for a replay of the legendary Norm/Courtney Thorne-Smith incident from Conan.

Kyle: I missed that. Did he hit on CTS or publicly shame her?

Mark: Oh man, see if you can find it on YouTube (editor's note: Found it!) It probably didn't help that CTS was there promoting her new movie co-starring Carrot Top.

Kyle: I think you know that I side with Lukin in any sort of gymnast feud (do you agree that she looks a bit like Kristen Bell?), but I kind of got the impression that they respected each other (even liked each other) but would smash the other person in the face if that's what it took to get the gold.

Mark: I'd look up their pictures, but don't want to ruin Kristen Bell for myself. I don't find female gymnasts attractive at all --- first of all, they're too young. Second of all, they're too tiny. Third of all, they're vaguely creepy.

Kyle: I don't disagree with ANY of those points, although I'd suggest that their remarkably well-adjusted for girls that fling themselves at/onto/across apparatuses (apparati?) for twelve hours a day.

Mark: Can we start a band called the Apparatuses?

Kyle: Yes. Yes we can. I call lead singer!

Mark: Dang! Ok, I call....keyboards?! Crap.

Kyle [on what as the best subplot of the Games]: Personally, I'd probably vote for the shaky gymnastics scoring here, which I found utterly fascinating. Or Rogge inexplicably going after Bolt. What a fool.

Mark: Ooh, I have more on the Rogge/Bolt thing, but that's for later. Yeah, the scoring all-around was shaky at best. Boxing, wrestling, judo, taekwondo....at least Shawn Johnson didn't kick a judge in the face.

Kyle: Question: if that happened, would Bush have pulled a Castro and used the whole "the judge was totally asking for it" defense? That would be hilarious.

Kyle: I can't believe that something as crooked as Olympic boxing is still a recognized event. That Roy Jones Jr. screwjob ending happened TWENTY years ago and the system is still messed up? Why not just get it over with and bring in the WWE?

Mark: I'd watch Olympic pro wrestling. Judges could score based on appearance of realism versus how hurt the other guy actually is, showmanship, coolness of moves, etc.

Kyle: Actually, that would be sweet. Undertaker's routines would have a start value of 1.5...versus 7.5 for one of the Hardys.

Mark: lol "Ohhh, Undertaker's in a Hell in a Cell match, Jim. He's really raising his difficulty value to start with." And if Bob Costas was amused by Bela, he'd go nuts over Jerry Lawler.

Kyle: Totally. I'm completely behind this idea now.

Mark: Canada could've kicked ass in this event over the years. Bret Hart, Owen Hart, the Rougeau brothers, Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit....oh wait....

Kyle: YIKES. Of course, the whole "Spanish announcing table getting smashed" gag probably wouldn't work...

Mark: It could still work. Guys could just get slammed through the Spanish, French, Botswanan, Ugandan, Indian, Chinese, etc. announce tables

Kyle: Look, Mark, the Ugandans need that table to live, ok?

Mark: They could live with it if it meant a gold medal for Kamala, the Ugandan giant. Who I think was actually from Memphis, but still.

Ok, point four.....most overblown story. This was where I was going to bring up Rogge and Bolt.

Kyle: Go for it.

Mark: Basically it's horseshit, as you said in so many words in your own Olympic post. The fact that he was still able to set a record while 'coasting,' is actually more impressive, in my view.

Kyle: Totally. I mean, part of me did want him to run hard and go into the 9.5s, but I can hardly blame him for celebrating the way he did. And: I have no idea where Rogge got the idea that Bolt cruised in the 200. If you watch the tape, he runs hard the whole time.

Mark: Apparently he was running into a headwind....which makes the record even more mind-blowing. He broke an unbeatable record INTO THE WIND. btw, Michael Johnson = Nick Faldo. He was great on commentary. Wasn't Johnson supposed to be a sullen jerk back in the day?

Kyle: You're totally right: he was informative without being pedantic and was completely gracious when his record was eclipsed. Maybe we got too caught up in the whole 150m debacle...

Mark: Clearly Bolt and Phelps need a 150m half-swimming, half-running challenge to decide the world's greatest athlete.

Kyle: If you could somehow work a horse into that equation, I'm totally sold.

Mark: Let me get my drawing board....What was your most overblown story?

Kyle: I've talked about this elsewhere--on the blog, to Carrie, random people on the street, etc.-- but the whole "the Chinese gymnasts are younger than they're represented to me" strikes me as the sourest of sour grapes. Even Sergio Garcia would be embarrassed to make this point. And if I here one more American (the same country, you'll recall, where it's most famous female sprinter is now in jail, in part, for lying about her steroid use) cite the precedent of "rules are rules," I'm going to flip out. I firmly believe this never would've come up had that American (Schiamone?) not fallen off the beam, costing the U.S. the team title in the process.

Mark: Truth. Why complain about the alleged age gap when there's plenty of (valid) possible complaints about the judging?

Kyle: Agreed. My OTHER most overblown story is basically everything surrounding the opening ceremony.

1. it was OBVIOUS the girl was lip-synching from the get-go.
2. Aside from the fact that the "ugly" 7-year old was replaced by the "cuter" 9-year old fifteen minutes before they took the stage--which is lamentable--how is this casting decision any different than every single Hollywood movie featuring children? I could do without the "how could they?" outrage.

3. So some (most?) of the fireworks were staged...big fucking deal. We weren't actually there watching them, so why on earth would that matter?

Mark: I was far more offended by the closing ceremonies. Jimmy Page playing a 'family friendly' version of Whole Lotta Love? Ye gods.

Kyle: More to the point, how does Leona Lewis manage to big time Jimmy Fucking Page? It's my understanding that she balked at the "every inch of my love" line.

Mark: The line doesn't NECESSARILY imply penis. Well, it does, but it's a metaphor!

Kyle: ...for a penis

Mark: This never would've happened if Jimmy Page had been alive. Also from the opening ceremonies, I was curious to see what other scandals would break. Like, did the Chinese replace Rogge with, say, Daniel Day-Lewis?

Kyle: Full disclosure: I watched approximately 11 seconds of the closing ceremonies.

Mark: Ok, next point....what was the breakthrough event of these Games.

Kyle: Hmmm...

Mark: Your subtitle on this was 'is there even going to be one this year?'

Kyle: I really don't think there was. If forced (you're forcing me, right?) I'd have to go with BMX racing, if only for the wipeouts, the fact that they went with Mario Kart-esque circuit scoring, and the fact that every time it was on, I exclaimed "I can't believe this ISN'T the X-Games!" (As noted, I wanted it to be table tennis, but, alas, no.) Kyle: Maybe (maybe) the free swim, but it happened way too early in the games. In defense of the inclusion of the question, in Olympics past, there have been breakout sports (beach v-ball in Atlanta, snowboard cross in SLC, etc.)

Mark: I can't even think of one. It seemed like this was the 'let's shoot for guaranteed ratings' for NBC after 2006's ratings were bested by American Idol and some other regular programming. Gymnastics, swimming, track...those were the meat and potatoes events, so by god did we ever get a lot of them.

Kyle: Yeah, I agree. Those three events (throw in beach and indoor v-ball, too) amounted to probably 90%+ of NBC's coverage.

Mark: CBC branched out a bit more, but there weren't really any sports that really stepped up and grabbed people's attention. I was hoping for badminton, frankly.

Kyle: TOO FAST. It practically gave me vertigo.

Mark: That's why I loved it. It was like ping pong on steroids, except without the threat of someone running groin-first into the table corner.

I was hoping for more coverage of the shooting events. Not because I'm an ardent fan, but because I inexplicably had a dream a few weeks back where I was a multi-time Olympic shooting medallist. My nicknames were 'Mark the Marksman' and 'The Man With The Golden Gun.'

Kyle: This reminds me of Dwight's dream job where he makes $60,000 a year. Those ARE pretty good nicknames (though the latter could arguably apply to anyone). Why couldn't you dream about dominating a cool event? Shooting medallists don't, I'm sorry to say, get much tail.

(The last sentence is me evidently channeling someone from 1971.)


Mark: Note to readers, I paused a minute before writing my next bit since I was too busy laughing at Kyle's citation of the Jim-Dwight 'dream job in hell' routine. That might be my favorite Office bit ever.

Mark: But I was featured on a Maclean's cover where I stood, guns blazing like the Comedian or something, with all my medals draped over my rifles. It was pretty fictiously cool.

Kyle: Alright, bonus cool points for the Watchmen reference.

Mark: My backup reference was Punisher, but let's just say I recently saw the trailer for the Punisher sequel. It was....unfortunate.

Kyle: Is it still Tom Jane? (He just wants his kids back!)

Mark: No, Jane is out. Too busy with Homeless Dad 2.

Kyle: lol...who's in?

Mark: Some guy from Rome. The name is escaping me.

Kyle: according to imdb: Ray Stevenson. Never heard of him...Ok, what's next?

Mark: Best event and worst event. You covered this yourself in your post, so....to summarize for the new readers....

Kyle: Best: swimming (compelling as all get out), with gymnastics a close second. Worst: equestrian (it's not a sport), but with a special shout out to the dreadfully dull soccer and baseball competitions...and sailing, which is--literally--impossible to follow.

Mark: I think I would've liked Olympic baseball more if we hadn't had to spend so much time watching Team Canada, who apparently hired Gary Denbo as their hitting instructor.

Kyle: Wow...I had to look that one up. I think he also moonlit as Canada's coach in the LLWS last week. (Sorry...that's basically the exact same joke.)

Kyle: He doesn't have an entry on baseballreference.com. Should I be alarmed?

Mark: My personal favorite Denbo stat is that in the one year he was the New York hitting coach, their team OBP was .334. The Yankees! .334! This was in 2001!

Kyle: Man, they should bring him back then. Maybe he's got some compromising photos of Hank Steinbrenner...

Mark: Sailing is pretty useless, I agree. I'd also throw in the marathon, which until the last few thousands yards is basically watching people torture themselves

Kyle: The marathon is, I'll admit, kind of a bore. Plus, now that we've seen a crazy person jump out of the crowd and attack a competitor, I'm disappointed when it doesn't happen. Kyle: What about best?

Mark: I really dug the canoeing. That was a nice story about the guy from Togo.

Kyle: "he's a real hungry canoer. He's actually canoeing for food." Oh, he medalled, right? I heard a bit about this.

Mark: He won a bronze, first medal ever from Togo. I may be slightly biased since I have fond memories of Togoland from SCTV, but still, good on ya, guy from Togo

Kyle: I was about to say that Togo is landlocked, but, no, they're not. Damn, geography. Are you prepared to go on the record with canoeing as your favorite event?

Mark: Yes....yes I am.

Kyle: [gasp]. What an upset!

Mark: What can I say. My parents are members of the London Canoe Club.

Kyle: For real?

Mark: Oh yeah.

Kyle: That's...improbable.

Mark: Oh wait, maybe it's the kayaking club. They even have a canoe-kayak, whatever it is.

Kyle: It's actually a desk.

Mark: Yes, my mother sails down the Thames in a desk. And then says "And now for something completely different...."

Kyle: I'm afraid we just lost our last reader.

Mark: Bye Ryan!

Mark: Ok, next category, best and worst TV personalities. Best....Bela Karolyi by a landslide Vegas has removed 'SNL does a Bela spoof in their first episode' from the board.

Kyle: I'm hesitant to do my best before you do your worst (if that makes sense). My worst is definitely Elfie Schlegel (NBC, gymnastics). As previously mentioned, I wish her ill. She was just so incredulous whenever a non-American scored above 15.5--extremely grating. It's actually kind of pathetic that they'd let someone that incompetent on the air.

Kyle: Bela! Bela was great. At first I was worried that he was too much of a homer, but then I realized that, when it comes right down to it, he's really, first and foremost, a gymnastics enthusiast. Inspired move on NBC's part to show Bela (on tape) watching Nastia win the gold. That was awesome.

Mark: I think my worst with an asterisk is whomever the colour guy for taekwondo was for CBC....the guy that wasn't Nigel Reed. He was a huge homer for Canada and seemed to think that the judges were blatantly ignoring points scored by the Canadian fighters. Then again, I don't know judo at all, plus the judging is always brutal, so he might've been right. Hence the asterisk.

Kyle: I dunno, I saw a Canadian girl actually knock someone from Sweden out...and she still lost. Kyle: Karch Kiraly (beach) was probably my favorite.

Mark: Here's what I love about the Olympics....before an SI article a few months back, I had never heard of Kiraly's name before. Then I found out he's pretty much the universally-accepted best volleyballer ever.

Kyle: In most sports, picking the greatest person in the history of said sport to do the commentary is probably a terrible idea, but dude knows his beach v-ball, and never came across as arrogant. Kiraly is the shit.

I also loved how, when he was asked if Walsh-May-Treanor (that's just two people, btw) were the greatest team in beach history after they won their second gold he said, without hesitation or equivocation, "yes." Classsy.


Mark: Then I guess my worst is Jim Lampley, who just seemed really out of place at anything but boxing.

Kyle: [nodding]. I can't watch Lampley without thinking about his wife's claw hands. It's like Larry King's ruined me on Lampley for life. In Lampley's defense, Costas hogged all the prime events, leaving Lampley with the shit sports for the post part (though that includes kayaking, your alleged favorite event of the Games). But, yeah, he seemed like a fish out of water.

Mark: Now, at this point, you put 'Diana Swain: secretly kinda hot?' on your list of topics. Uh.....

---- editor's note: At this point, I brought up Kyle's next point, which was "don't you think Diana Swain is secretly kind of hot?" He then mysteriously vanished from his computer for the next little while. ----

Kyle: OK...so we're back from a 25 minute power outage on my end (thank you, York University).

Mark: We were just starting to discuss your forbidden lust for Diana Swain. Why do you swoon for Swain?

Kyle: Wait, wait...did we talk about Lampley's wife claw hands?

Mark: Claw hands?

Kyle: Yeah, it's like this really rare medical condition. Her hands are like paddles.

Mark: Like the Penguin?

Kyle: If that helps, yes. I also wanted to say that enjoyed Ato Boldon (track), Tom Hammond (swimming), and Ted Robinson (aka "Batboy," but mostly because he clearly didn't have a clue what the fuck was going on during the diving...and didn't bother to conceal it.) And, I'll admit, I still enjoy the Costas smirk.

Mark: And the aforementioned Michael Johnson. And Brenda Irving did a good job on the gymnastics.

Kyle: We kind of got screwed over with gymnastics, as they only had NBC in Jamaica. She was good?

Mark: I found her on the CBC feed to be way more tolerable than your archfoe on NBC. It helped that she was actually not a homer.

Kyle: Considerably easier when, Kyle Shewfelt aside, we don't have an able-bodied gymnast in the country.

Mark: If only I had been able to keep the weight off....I figure I picked up enough by osmosis from reading Spider-Man comics that I would've cleaned house.

Kyle: Ah...it's actually Lampley's EX-wife. She suffers something called "ectrodactyly," which, according to Wikipedia, is a rare genetic condition "resulting in her fingers and toes being fused together."

Mark: I think Electrodactyl was the name of one of the Dinobots.

Kyle: Or a Powerade flavour.

Mark: Oh, we're going to hell. Anyway, so, yeah, Diana Swain. Is she on your laminated List Of Five?

Kyle: Totally (re: the hell thing) Re: Swain: no chance. I think it was a by-product of me watching Olympic coverage while dozing in bed before going to work (aka sans contact lenses), but, yeah, I was kinda digging her vibe ("secretly hot," I believe, was my expression of choice). This gets less and less defensible by the day, mind you. Am I way off base? I'm way off base, aren't I?

Mark: She's not bad-looking, by any stretch. But she's what I call TV hot --- that generic type of attractiveness that you can acknowledge as being attractive, but without getting you really fired up.

Kyle: Excellent term! You should add that to the Urban Dictionary. So...what's left?

Mark: Where do these Games rank in Olympic history?

Kyle: Boy...that's an ambitious one. It certainly had its moments (Phelps, Bolt, and...ok, maybe not that many moments). Compared to past years, and referring only to competitions, it was relatively scandal-free, wasn't it?

Mark: Pretty much, yeah. So that's a plus. I'd rank it behind Sydney in terms of recent summer Games....maybe Atlanta too, though that Games was single-handedly elevated by Donovan Bailey.

Kyle: But ahead of Athens and Seoul, right?

Mark: I'm a bit too young for Seoul. But definitely ahead of Athens. I barely remember those Games

Kyle: Dick.

Mark: It was all Greek to me [/rimshot]

Kyle: lol...oh, dear. Save it for the telethon.

Mark: Probably too soon to judge the history question. And, finally.....what was the best moment of these Olympics for you?

Kyle: Lezack outtouching Bernard to win the 4x100 freestyle relay for Michael Ph--er, I mean the Americans. That was incredibly improbable...and dramatic. You?

Mark: Interlude...ok, I'm watching the Jays-Rays game, and apparently Rocco Baldelli's at-bat music is "Dream Weaver." I have no words.

My favorite moment is an odd one...the men's tennis final

Kyle: ...of which, oddly, I saw nothing at all. Go on. (btw, re: Rocco, awesome)

Mark: I was in London the other weekend visiting home and also to visit with some family friends who were staying at my parents' place from England. (So, I went home just to sleep on a couch. But I digress...) Mark: Our friends are a couple and their two young kids....Jack, age nine, and Alexandra, age seven. So I'm watching the tennis final with them, and they're both rooting for Gonzalez. Jack's reasoning was that Nadal losing would irritate his arch-rival, a half-Spanish kid in his class at school. Alexandra just liked saying 'Chile' over and over again. So I watched the match with them, and they got really (hilariously) into it. I didn't have the heart to tell them we were watching a tape delay and Nadal had won hours earlier.

Kyle: Cute.

Mark: Wow, did I just turn into Rick Reilly there?

Kyle: Maybe a little bit...at least tell me you made a bit of money off of them.

Mark: Yeah, I swindled them good. They gave me a pound for just 10 Canadian dollars. I got them good!.....wait.....

Kyle: lol

Mark: Also awesome....Alexandra saying 'Yay Britain' whenever she saw a British flag on TV. So, like, when they're running through the standings in, say, triathlon, and there's a Brit who came in 39th or something. A tiny voice suddenly chimes in, "Yay Britain!"

Kyle: I felt like that during the first week, except replace "Britain" with "Canada" and "yay!" with an expletive-laden tirade.

Mark: lol. And a 39th-place finish would've been too positive a result.

Kyle: Exactly. Perhaps we should leave it at that--in no small part because Carrie will murder me if I don't sit down for dinner. Mark, as always: a pleasure.

Mark: The pleasure is all mine, sir. High-five! Or, as Jim Lampley's wife would say, high-two!

Mark: After your first bite, say 'Yay Ireland!' and then refuse to explain it.

Kyle: Done and done.

Mark: See you at the 2010 Olympics recap!

Kyle: Can't do it. Power outage. I mean: you bet.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Old Albums With New Ears

When I start my own music magazine --- to be titled Noise Mark Enjoys, or NME for short....what?.....really?....well, they can't prove they thought it up first, I'll sue their asses off --- my first order of business will be to institute delayed reviews. Forget this business of reviewing an album in its first week of release. My critics would only review records after listening to them for a minimum of three months. Albums need time to grow on you. You need to think about them, analyze them, examine each track, let it breathe as if you were examine a bottle of fine wine.

This is why some of my old music posts and music-themed Listamanias make me slightly cringe. One's opinion of a disc can vary wildly from listen to listen. For example, take Hail to the Thief. I've been on a Radiohead kick after attending their recent Toronto concert, and thus went through my entire Radiohead collection for a fresh listen. HTTT is an album that I've listened to three times in my life. The first time, when it was released in 2003, I disliked it heavily and thought it was a sign that Radiohead's increasingly electronic direction would doom them. Now, in fairness, this first listen came in my pizza delivery days, so listening to an album in your car's CD player while constantly stopping and starting to make deliveries is probably not the most accurate way of gauging its quality. The second listen, probably over a year later, was no better. And then the album literally sat on my shelf for over four years until I listened to it again last week. Surprise surprise, this time I enjoyed it. Was i partially influenced by the live versions still ringing in my head from the concert? Quite probably, but then again, my two preferred songs on the album were ones that Radiohead didn't play live --- A Punch-Up At A Wedding and Backdrifts. So, in summation, sorry Hail To The Thief. You were in the gulag of my musical opinions for far too long for no good reason. You're the Nelson Mandela of Radiohead's discography.

Fresh listens can change things both for the better and for the worse. For example, I also recently re-listened to Amnesiac, and it moved right in to take HTTT's spot as Radiohead's worst album.* Just a bunch of atmospheric nonsense. I think I've made this argument before, but Radiohead probably would've been better served in taking the best (a.k.a. the only good) 2-3 tracks from Amnesiac and putting them onto Kid A to make one uber-record. They could've found room on Kid A by cutting the uselessness that is Treefingers. This is a personal beef of mine, and it may sound odd from someone who enjoys so many bands that are produced by Brian Eno, but I can't stand so-called 'atmospheric' tracks that give an album 'depth' or 'help set the mood' for the next track. Just put on a fucking song. Melody, verses, words, it isn't that hard. If you have a 10-track record and two of the tracks are atmospheric instrumentals, then that's just a waste of everyone's time.

* = Excluding Pablo Honey, since nobody really counts that one anymore, including the band itself. That would be like discovering that Wilt Chamberlain's first time was a minute long due to adolescent pre-ejac and thus using this to disqualify him from a list of the world's greatest ladies' men.

There was also a non-Radiohead related re-listen I recently (so many R words!) undertook. I wasn't a big fan of the Killers' 'Sawdust' collection of b-sides because, well, I thought the tracks were too b-sidable to have deserved a release. My latest experience with the album has made me realize that it's a lot closer to par with the Killers' album-quality tracks, though this is perhaps faint praise given that I'm not as keen on the Killers's A-sides as I once was. Sam's Town got a strong thumbs-up from me when I first heard it, but that's an album that hasn't aged well. I'll be interested in hearing the Killers' next disc to see how they continue to try to get around the fact that Brandon Flowers isn't much of a singer and (even worse) his voice is pretty uninteresting.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Where Does He Get Those Wonderful Toys?

Back to the Future defeats Ghostbusters in the "which is the better franchise?" poll by a narrow 54-46 margin. The latest poll gimmick is the first of several concerning each decade's Academy Award Best Picture crop. I decided to start with the current decade since starting with the 1920's would flat-line the gimmick before it even began. That is unless, say, Maggie and Alan Sepinwall argue the merits of Broadway Melody and Wings in an ongoing series of blog comments that eventually becomes longer than War & Peace.

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Eagle-eyed readers who actually read down the page will have noticed the Lost Countdown Timer, counting down the days until the fifth season premiere. The alternative was removing a daily piece of clothing from a stand-up poster of Evangeline Lilly a la Major League, but unfortunately, no such posters were available. I did find one for Jorge Garcia, however. It is...somewhat less physically appealing. But only somewhat.

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Also coming up is another team-up between Kyle and myself discussing the Olympics. I wish I could put a date on it, but it's surprisingly hard for us two slackers to find enough time for an elongated MSN chat. We're too busy with getting married, going on a honeymoon, going off on a cottage trip, celebrating a birthday....okay, these things may all be Kyle, but I'm busy too! Just the other day I cleaned my bathroom. That counts. Even had to go out and buy a new bottle of Vim.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Old Wedding Photos Found Near A Garbage Can In An Alley Next To An Old Mattress

Full credit to my friend Sarah for being the first to link to what may an internet meme just waiting to explode. Each picture is so lovably goofy that one general sarcastic comment on the whole batch just wouldn't do. Nope --- this couple deserves to have their special day snarked as throughly as possible.



First, the happy couple. It appears as if through some warp in the space-time continuum, Pedro and Deb from Napoleon Dynamite were actually real people and got married 30 years in Southern California. Now, these pictures aren't really in order or anything, but since the next pic is of the actual wedding ceremony, does that mean that the bridge and groom walked each other down the aisle? That just doesn't seem to make sense --- this HAS to be from the reception. Timeline semantics aside, how awesome is the guy in the glasses? Even in the money shot of the happy couple entering, he still steals the show by looking directly at the camera. Forget about shooting an admiring glance like everyone else in the frame; this guy (heretofore known as 'Robert Evans' for obvious reasons) is ready for his close-up.



There are many different kissing techniques out there, and Groom Pedro is apparently a practitioner of either the 'engulf the kissee's face like a venus flytrap' motion or the 'cover their face with both hands so the attention is on you' technique last seen by Susan Sarandon's actress character on Friends.



"Ok, so we have mansion, apartment, house and shack. Now, for cars, I was thinking Lamborghini Countach, Corvette, Sedan and a bicycle with no seat. Any objections?" If they're not doing a MASH game, maybe they're working out the dowry. I love the idea of dowries; they should absolutely be brought back into the modern age. And to avoid charges of sexism, it could be easily adapted to the husband's family paying the price, depending on the situation. Let's be honest....almost any couple consists of one great catch and one person who can't believe his/her lucky stars.



Fresh from negotiating the dowry, the maid of honor (Annie Sullivan) tries to pose bride Helen Keller for a photo. If Helen could see, she would no doubt be aghast that her husband's best man is such a doofus.



Historians would later look back on this moment as the exact instant when the Electric Slide jumped the shark.



Good heavens, it's Abe Lincoln! And Mary Todd, who apparently wasn't nearly the looker that most history books said she was. I was apparently off on the date of this wedding by approximately 110 years.



Words fail me. This might be the best photo ever taken. Let's just say my computer has a new background screen. To further illustrate my point about every couple being made of a dominant and less-dominant (or 'lucky') partner, if either of these two were ever to end up in a couple, you'd better believe their families would be paying a dowry up the wazoo. I'll leave it for you to debate amongst yourselves who would pay the dowry if these two ended up being a gay couple.



Remember that Family Guy bit where Stewie has a job playing the tuba while following fat people around? I'm not sure why that jumped to mind here.



Oh man, the Abe experience gets even better --- he's the father of the bride! Somewhere, Steve Martin kicks himself for not making his character a former U.S. president.



One of these things just doesn't belong here. Ok, this best man is starting to piss me off. First his goofy ass can't even negotiate a proper dowry (I'm assuming). Now he ruins what would've otherwise been a perfectly rad photo of five stylin' people. Ok, the guy on the end is not totally stylin', but compared to the best man, he's Miles Davis. I'll bet during his best man speech he dropped his cue cards and/or told a bunch of inappropriate stories that all started with, "Ok, this one time, we were all soooooo drunk...."



It was all fun and games before the camera took their souls.



Do any of my readers have Wikipedia accounts? If so, could someone go into the article titled "The 1970's" and make this picture the lead image, please? Cheers.



Robert Evans returns! This guy is awesome. Here he is, at a wedding, hitting on the bride with a cig in one hand and a cup of booze in the other. He is 100 percent hitting on her, by the way. Just look at how he's perching his leg in order to aim his bulge in her direction. You can see she is fighting the urge to look down and is wringing her hands with worry over being so tempted by another man on her own wedding day. This is turning into a Harlequin novel before our very eyes.



Good news: the ladies were relieved to be saved from being chatted up by the guy in the plaid jacket.
Bad news: the ladies were saved by.....that guy. Suddenly, Plaid Jacket's story about his summer working at his uncle's pawn shop doesn't sound so dull.



They stood there for 40 minutes before someone pointed out that it wasn't an escalator. Abe's eyes are closed in an example of the blatant disregard for his own safety that make it so darn easy for John Wilkes Booth to bust a cap in his ass.



Not to be outdone by Robert Evans, the groom has some wedding day side action of his own. At the risk of spoiling the rest of the pictures for you, no photographic evidence exists that this wedding just devolved into an episode of Swingtown.



Jodie Foster and Samuel L. Jackson weren't sure why they had been sent back to the 70's (Ziggy was on the fritz and Al hadn't shown up yet), but all they knew was that if this wedding didn't go off as planned, western civilization as we know it would cease to be. And you know what the funny thing is? Due to the paradoxes of time travel, we wouldn't even know if they succeeded or not. Is your mind blown yet? Good, let's move on.



This guy looks like Will Ferrell dressed as Harry Caray, except someone punched Will just as soon as he left the makeup chair.



Pedro and Deb were initially very pleased to receive a suitcase full of gifts from Pedro's beloved grandmother. But later, when opening the presents, they were shocked to discover boxes and boxes of condoms.



"No, you're the schmoopiest!"
"No, YOU'RE the shmoopiest!"
"Honey, there's a 'c' in 'schmoopiest.' "
"Is there? To the dictionary!"
"God, your teeth are ugly."
"What?"
"Uh, I mean, YOU'RE the schmoopiest!"



The aftermath of the ceremonial best-two-of-three game of bloody knuckles between the bride and groom. The onlookers are stunned that the bride was able to continue after losing the first set in such devastating fashion.



When everyone told Frank they could see his lips moving, he grew a beard to try and obscure them. When that didn't work, he ditched the dummy and just got a live child. When that didn't work, he got two live children. When that didn't work, Frank turned to chronic masturbation. Ironically, his lips never moved during that, as he was too busy biting down on the ball gag.



Plaid Jacket's quest to hook up at this wedding has apparently struck gold! Sure, she has a babushka, but beggars can't be choosers. Unfortunately, their conversation was interrupted when a nearby bull caught a glance of Cindy Williams back there and charged. Plaid Jacket could've been a hero by distracting the bull, but instead he just soiled himself and ran away sobbing. On the bright side, people stopped calling him 'Plaid Jacket.' Then again, even that nickname was better than his new moniker of Two-Shades-Of-Brown-Pants.



Should I ever get married (and judging from this post, who wouldn't marry a man who would spend an hour writing witty comments about a stranger's 30-year-old wedding photos?), I'm doing to cut the cake with the most ridiculous looking sword that I can find. I'm talking like a cross between Highlander's sword, Excalibur and one of Wolverine's claws, except cranked up about 50 notches. Will such a weapon completely take the focus away from the actual cutting of the cake? Yes. But that's just as well, because there's no cake. See you later, suckers! *sound of feet running* *sound of door slamming* *sound of car engine and tires squealing*



Even though he's just married this woman, the groom still can't resist stealing a kiss while stuffing his new wife's face with cake. Auto-erotic cake asphyxiation claims the lives of over one American per year. Mmmmm, erotic cakes....



And we return to where we started, with the happy couple entering holy matrimony. What was the chain of events that led to their photos being found in the trash three decades later? Did the marriage end in divorce, and one or the other bitterly threw away these mementos of the special day? Or was it merely the work of a negligent guest, or a studio that was cleaning out its inventory? Whatever the answer may be, it's pretty clear that everyone needs to start dressing like it's the 1970's again. I call dibs on the Robert Evans glasses.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Rain-diohead

The weather outside was frightful, but the concert was so delightful. If there was any band whose performing ambience would be somehow appropriate in a driving rainstorm, it would be Radiohead. Thankfully the storm clouds subsided about 20 minutes before the start of the show and thus those of us in the non-covered portion of the Molson Amphitheatre could enjoy the show without an umbrella. The pre-show downpour did lead to some cheerful developments, presumably the two rainbows (one very thick, one faint but visible) that were visible to the southeast. I, like about 82 percent of the crowd, commented on the nice touch of a pair of rainbows during a concert from a band whose last album was titled 'In Rainbows.' Perhaps Thom Yorke rented a plane from the Island Airport and seeded the clouds before the show to create the effect. That would be even more above and beyond than Peter Frampton and his inflatable pig.

I was there as a result of a last-minute ticket courtesy of my friends Jason and Robin. At a White Stripes concert in 2003, Jason made a number of comments about Jack White's tight black pants, and I mentioned this interest in a review of the concert in my school paper. Ergo, Jason asked that this blog post not include anything embarrassing that he may have said. No problem. I'll be sure to leave out how, in order to break the post-show logjam at the exits, Jason suggested that I yell out 'I have SARS!' Robin, meanwhile, is the only other fellow Echo owner I know. Our cars got together on a play date once, but they didn't get along. My car (Mr. Eko) ended up stealing her car's (Dennis Echoersley) toys....it was very embarrassing for me as a car-owner. I took a bumpy road home as punishment.

* = by the way, Molson Amphitheatre? What's up with the bottleneck exit? In case you've never been at the Amph before, the whole crowd is forced to file out on the same side of the facility, and those three exits filter out into the same single passage out of the park. For those of us on the left side of the crowd, it took a solid half-hour just to get out of there. If there had been a fire (or, if someone had had SARS), there would've been panic.

But enough of this nonsense. Onto Radiohead. The show was heavy on material from the band's previous four albums, including every single track from In Rainbows. Though I had my issues with Hail to the Thief and Amnesiac, the focus on the new stuff was fine given that the last Radiohead concert I attended was way back at the ol' London Centennial Hall in 1997, so all of this material was new to me. And live, a lot of these songs really took off in a way that isn't apparent on the albums, particularly the 'Thief' tracks. The arguable highlight of the show was a performance of The Gloaming that included a sick visual display. The stage was lit by a series of tubes [/Ted Stevens] hanging down from the rafters that lit up with some sort of LED technology, and when combined with the five-panel video screen behind the band, the overall visual effect was pretty terrific. For Gloaming, the lights took on various shades of green until by the end of the song, it looked like a Matrix bar code was enveloping the band. Now, I could point out how the individualized video screens were from U2's Elevation tour, and the LED curtain was from U2's Atomic Bomb tour, but then I'd just be a dick.

It says something about Radiohead's musical acumen that I greatly enjoyed the show in spite of the setlist omitting almost all of my favourite Radiohead songs. (Since, of course, I'm sure my interest was of major concern to the band. "Hey Ed, do you think Mark will be mad if we don't play his favourite tracks?" "If he is, we'll try to distract him by pointing out how much he and Phil look like each other." "Good idea, mate.") No Just, no Paranoid Android, no I Might Be Wrong, no National Anthem --- no problem. They didn't play High & Dry, which wasn't a big surprise since they haven't played the song in over a decade, but they also didn't play it at the Centennial Hall show either. Given that H&D is actually my favourite of their songs, it's a bit of a pisser. Now I know how my buddy Trev feels. His favourite U2 song is All I Want Is You, and yet in three different U2 concerts he's attended, the band has yet to bust that one out. If they don't play it during next year's tour, all Bono will want is a bodyguard to protect him from a Trev-fuelled beatdown.

Then again, we did get Airbag, Reckoner (the top In Rainbows track, imo), a very rare performance of Talk Show Host, Street Spirit and the show closer, Everything In Its Right Place. From looking at Radiohead's setlists from this tour, the MO seems to be to play everything from In Rainbows and then just randomly select songs to fill out the rest of the setlists. So theoretically, if this tour goes on long enough, they'll eventually get around to High & Dry or something off of Pablo Honey. By 'long enough,' I mean until around 2012.

All in all, 'twas a fantastic show. Great music, great atmosphere, great crowd that was into everything, and even eventually great weather as we got a bit of clear night in the midst of Toronto's Seattle-esque summer. The best Radiohead can is good enough.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Three Hunnert!

I used the 'milestone' tag in the last post but didn't actually mention why in the text. The last post was actually the 300th post I've written for Polivision. As you could tell, I celebrated the occasion by including about 300 links in the last post. In honour of the big tres-oh-oh, let me just say....THIS.....IS.......SPARTA!

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Anyway, onto poll results. I thought the Deschanel family feud would be close, but Zooey ended up kicking her sister's ass by a 75%-25% margin. Man, doesn't anyone watch Bones? Poor Emily.

The new poll is up. It's all about an old post from a few months back when I compared Ghostbusters to Back to the Future. I weighed in on the subject, now I want to see what you all think. Has my influence turned my readers into a swarm of Borg-esque followers, or do you still retain some semblance of individuality? We shall soon find out. Remember, the question concerns which is the better FRANCHISE, so it's not just the movies; it's the cartoons, toys, video games and general pop culture impact.