Friday, November 30, 2012

Itchy & Scratchy, En Masse

I try to avoid back-to-back video posts but this is EVERY Itchy & Scratchy cartoon.  I mean, if anything would make you break a vow, this is it.  "I'm sorry baby, it was only in sickness and in health, it didn't get anything about watching a bunch of cartoons-within-cartoons," he said, while banging his secretary.  Hey wait...that strawman wasn't even watching the Itchy & Scratchy video during sex....I think that was a PLOY.

You're damn right this is over 48 minutes long!

I'm not saying I'm a terrible journalist, but one day I will find an excuse to use "You Need A Heart To Live!" as a headline.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cheadle Planet Redux (And Threedux)

Hot on the heels of Don Cheadle's first appearance as Captain Planet ("hot on the heels" meaning, of course, about a year later), here are two more instalments.  That blue suit is beyond stylin'. 

Captain Planet 2 from Don Cheadle     

Captain Planet 3 from Don Cheadle     

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cloud Atlas

I'm usually not a "spectacle" guy when it comes to movies.  Some folks see movies as primarily delivery systems for the kind of visuals, special effects and epic vistas that you simply can't get in any other form of media, and while I appreciate that (and realize that, in large part, this is the reason why cinema became popular in the first place), I just like a good story.  That's it.  No matter what James Cameron might tell you, visual smorgasbord-style films are way easier to make than films with genuinely interesting, unique stories. 

So after establishing that, I'll now directly contradict myself by saying that I loved Cloud Atlas.  I'd rank it amongst the best movies I've seen all year.  The overall theme of "everything is connected and we all play a role in each other's lives" is about as cliched as it gets, and yet man, this film is something to see.  The gimmick of the film is its six plotlines, each of which is set in a different time period ranging from the 1840's to centuries in the future.  It takes about 20-25 minutes to get introduced to every story and get used to the switching between the six, but it's not terribly hard to follow, especially since the six stories directly and indirectly reference each other in various ways.  All six also climax at the same time, leading to about an hour straight of pure drama.  It's a very long film (close to three hours) and while you could've trimmed 20 minutes from the final product, it certainly doesn't drag.

The Wachowski siblings directed the 1840's seafaring adventure and the two stories set in the future, while Tom Tykwer directed the stories set in the 1930's, 1970's and 2012, respectively.  The Wachowskis, of course, are most famous for the Matrix series and while Cloud Atlas shares those films' habit of trying to make grand statements out of very basic pop philosophy, CA is much more focused, despite the several stories.  Tykwer directed 'Run Lola Run' and I've spent the last decade-plus thinking he's a good director based on that one great movie, though he's done nothing but disappoint me since until now.  What made RLR interesting, though, was that while none of Lola's three realities were alone strong enough to sustain an entire movie, the three in combination were, and the same is true of Cloud Atlas.  You can overlook the weaknesses and inconsistencies of each individual story since ultimately they're just one-sixth of the overall movie.  The 1930's tragic romance and the far-distant future drama were probably the strongest of the stories overall, while the 1970's thriller had a lot of holes and the 22nd-century sci-fi extravaganza felt like the Wachowskis were just trying to rehash both Matrix and Speed Racer.

The other gimmick is that virtually all the major and minor roles in each story are played by the same group of 13 actors.  The size of the roles range greatly in size from story to story (Halle Berry might star in one story and then just make a tiny cameo in another) and there are no major connections between the actors and the characters they play in each story, aside from the fact that Hugo Weaving and Hugh Grant always play the villains.  You need a versatile group to accomplish this, and the likes of Weaving, Grant, Berry, Tom Hanks, Jim Sturgess and the immortal Jim Broadbent are more than up to the task.  Broadbent especially, man, why isn't he more famous?  I mean, he has an Oscar and he is working constantly, but I feel like he should be there in that Phillip Seymour Hoffman group of actors who aren't superstars but everyone would say, "Oh yeah, he's an awesome actor" whenever they're mentioned.  Beyond the big names, the lesser-known Doona Bae and Ben "the new Q in Skyfall" Whishaw are both asked to carry a story each and they do it very well.  Weirdly, Susan Sarandon is in the cast but has only small roles in four of the stories.  You couldn't find something more for Susan freakin' Sarandon to do, team?

This isn't the first movie to use a gimmick like this, but I admit, I found the game-within-the-film of spotting the various actors in the different stories to be an awfully fun sideline.  Cloud Atlas has some under some criticism for taking this acting exercise to the extreme and having some actors play characters of different races, in varying degrees of believable makeup and prosthetics.  Obviously I don't think the filmmakers were trying to be offensive in any way, and I think was just a production decision rather than, y'know, cast Asian actors to play Asian roles.  (As it is, the white actors playing Koreans end up just looking like Vulcans.)  Beyond just the "same cast in all the roles" gimmick, the filmmakers also might've literally been limited to hiring a certain number of actors --- despite its $100 million budget, Cloud Atlas was actually an independently-produced movie, so if you've got the likes of Tom Hanks and Halle Berry in the fold, you might as well use them as much as possible. 

Besides, the major prosthetics and makeup made the role-identifying game much more fun.  For instance, that fellow in the picture?  Hugh Grant, naturally the first person you'd pick to play a post-apocalyptic cannibal warlord.  (Zhou Xun's character in that same storyline looked oddly like my friend Christine.)  The end credits list the actors and show which roles they played, which led to some funny "whoa!" reactions from the audience at my theatre.  Funniest comment was from a girl behind me who said, "wow, that was ALL Tom Hanks?"  Now, if you've seen the movie, Hanks is the one actor who escapes any real involved prosthetic work.  I mean, he's got heavy makeup on in a few of the stories but you can always clearly tell it's Hanks.  I imagine when this same audience member walked out of Master Of Disguise, she was blown away that it was Dana Carvey the whole time.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The 79 Best Bruce Springsteen Songs

After hitting up U2 and the Beatles, we hit the next member of my personal musical Mount Rushmore, the Boss himself.

As always, I cut things off when I got to the songs that I just 'liked' rather than really liked or loved.  That number ended up being 79, so as always, if I've left your favourite Springsteen song off the list, just pretend I had it at #80 and it was a tough, agonizing, last-second cut.

This was one tough list, btw.  Not only did I have my usual vague feeling that I could do this list again tomorrow and the order would be markedly different, but such a ranking is difficult for Bruce songs since they vary greatly from the album cuts to the live versions.  To use one example, "4th of July, Asbury Park" wouldn't be here if I was ranking album tracks, but the live version was probably a top-25 song, so I just split the difference.  I think what clinched it for my #1 choice was that the album track, the live version and the acoustic/piano live version are all phenomenal.  Truly it is the song of champions, and yet it was still a tough call since I so dearly love the #2 song on this list.

Another caveat: though I'm a big Springsteen fan, there are undoubtedly loads of B-sides and rarities I've never heard before, so for all I know, I haven't heard my favourite Boss song yet.  That's the beauty of being a fan of a musician with such a deep back catalogue --- my #5 pick, for instance, is a fairly obscure B-side that I hadn't heard until a couple of years ago, and now I love it so much I want to dance to it with my daughter at her lesbian wedding.  Also, it's a tribute to Bruce's 40+ years of recording consistency throughout the years that I've got at least one track from each of his studio records….except for 'The Ghost Of Tom Joad,' that album sucked.

If you don't recognize a title on this list, I heartily recommend checking it out on YouTube, since there are few better ways to spend couple of hours than falling down a YouTube hole of Bruce Springsteen music.  Onto the list!

79. Two Hearts
78. From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come)
77. Further On (Up The Road)
76. For You
75. Secret Garden
74. One Way Street
73. Backstreets
72. City Of Night
71. Radio Nowhere

70. Lonesome Day
69. Out In The Street
68. She's The One
67. I'm A Rocker
66. Better Days
65. Mary's Place
64. The Fever
63. Factory
62. Streets of Philadelphia
61. Racing In The Street (electric version from "The Promise")

60. 4th of July Asbury Park (Sandy)
59. Highway Patrolman
58. Growin' Up
57. Incident On 57th Street
56. Pink Cadillac
55. One Step Up
54. Shackled And Drawn
53. The River
52. Tenth Avenue Freeze Out
51. Two Faces

50. Trouble River
49 .When You're Alone
48. Ramrod
47. Long Walk Home
46. Human Touch
45. Jungleland
44. Glory Days
43. The Promised Land
42. My Love Will Not Let You Down
41. Ain't Got You

40. Cadillac Ranch
39. Johnny 99
38. Death To My Hometown
37. Into The Fire
36. Open All Night
35. Missing
34. The Rising
33. All I'm Thinking About
32. Waitin' On A Sunny Day
31. Sherry Darling

30. Wrecking Ball
29. Fire
28. Brilliant Disguise
27. Reason To Believe
26. Darlington County
25. I'm On Fire
24. Blinded By The Light
23. Terry's Song
22. Stolen Car
21. Tunnel Of Love

20. Murder Incorporated
19. I'm Going Down
18. Lion's Den
17. Spirit In The Night
16. Lost In The Flood
15. Land Of Hope And Dreams
14. Bobby Jean
13. The Wrestler
12. Born To Run
11. Rosalita

10. Hungry Heart
9. Livin' In The Future
8. If I Should Fall Behind
7. My City Of Ruins
6. Dancing In The Dark
5. Ain't Good Enough For You
4. No Surrender
3. Badlands
2. Atlantic City
1. Thunder Road

Saturday, November 17, 2012

UFC 154 Predictions

* Georges St. Pierre over Carlos Condit, decision
Here's a sentence I don't think I've ever written before: there's a decent chance Georges St. Pierre could lose his next fight.  One of my cardinal rules in picking UFC bouts is almost always going against a fighter who is coming back from a long absence, be it due to injury, suspension or just a lack of bookings.  Generally anyone who hasn't fought in 9-10 months (I call it my 'pregnancy rule') gets my thumbs down.  For GSP, it's been almost 19 months since he last stepped into the cage thanks to a blown-out ACL that has put some genuine question into whether or not the St. Pierre who dominated the UFC for years is still with us.  In general, elite athletes don't return to form after major injuries and some fall off the map entirely.

This all being said, I'm still picking GSP for a few reasons.  Firstly, if it wasn't for the injury, I think he would walk all over Carlos Condit.  This isn't to say Condit isn't a good or well-rounded fighter, I just don't think he brings anything to the table that GSP hasn't handled in the past.  Secondly, there is no doubt in my mind that GSP has been doing everything possible to ensure his knee is back up to full health, and he wouldn't be fighting unless he was ready; if he'd had any setbacks, he would've pulled out of the fight, Montreal location be damned.  Thirdly, even if GSP isn't at 100 percent (say, 80-85%), I think that still might be enough to take Condit.  St. Pierre beat Jake Shields while half-blind and overcame a torn adductor to dominate Thiago Alves, so if he can adjust to injuries mid-fight and still easily win, it's very easy to think that he's used his training camp to adjust to whatever setbacks his ACL injury may have presented him.  Fourthly, GSP ain't losing in Montreal.  That's just not happening.

It's a tough situation for Condit, who has to face the champ on his home turf and has been getting grief for his cautious-but-smart gameplan against Nick Diaz in February that earned him this title shot in the first place.  Even if Condit wins, he still won't get any credit, as everyone (like me) will just chalk the result up to GSP being rusty.  So really, Condit will spare himself from criticism in defeat.  Silver living!

* Johny Hendricks over Martin Kampmann, decision
This is ostensibly the #1 contender's bout for the welterweight title but I don't see it playing out that way.  This just has the feeling of a dull, unimpressive, 15-minute decision for whomever the winner ends up being, plus apparently the UFC is pushing hard for this GSP/Anderson Silva superfight to take place within the next six months.  So presuming that St. Pierre wins as expected, he'll have Silva next and Hendricks or Kampmann will have to cool their jets for up to 10-11 months.  Kampmann has been jerked around enough in his career with B.S. decisions that I think he'd wait out as long as it takes to finally get his shot, whereas I could see Hendricks fighting in the interim, maybe even against Nick Diaz.  This is a coin flip result so I'll pick Hendricks solely because when in doubt, assume the fates are aligned against Martin Kampmann.

I'm not going to bother with any more analysis since really, this is a pretty lame overall card.  Way to rest on the laurels of your main event, UFC bookers.  Had GSP gotten injured, you might've had enough Jones/Henderson UFC 151 cancelation situation on your hands.

* Mark Hominick over Pablo Garza, submission, round 1
* Rafael Dos Anjos over Mark Bocek, decision
* Francis Carmont over Tom Lawlor, submission, round 1
* Sam Stout over John Makdessi, submission, round 2
* Antonio Carvalho over Rodrigo Damm, KO, round 2
* Ivan Menjivar over Azamat Gashimov, decision
* Cyrille Diabate over Chad Griggs, submission, round 3
* Darren Elkins over Steven Siler, KO, round 3
* John Maguire over Matt Riddle, submission, round 2
* Patrick Cote over Alessio Sakara, KO, round 1

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Amateur Dream Analysis

DREAM: I'm back in Byron, walking back to my parents' house from our neighbourhood sports complex.  I've got a bat over my shoulder so I guess I was playing ball, though we'll get back to the incongruity of that in a minute.  I'm walking down the sidewalk on this lovely summer's day when I notice a guy in a white, milkman-esque suit and cap sitting on a specialized bike, selling sub sandwiches to passers-by.

I take a closer look at the sub guy and, oddly, it's my friend Jeff.  In real life, Jeff works for the city of London, but here he is, dressed like the Glad trash bag man and handing out subs to smiling customers.  I ask Jeff what's up with the job, and he says (and this is a direct quote from the dream), ""Well, Lisa and I have been scraping toppings off of our subs for years and we finally had enough saved up to get our own business off the ground!"  Lisa, for the record, is Jeff's wife.  Whatever response I might've made is lost to the haze of my subconscious, or else I just woke up.

ANALYSIS: Let's first examine the financial opportunity of a mobile sandwich bike.  We all know that food trucks are a goldmine* but trucks cost a fortune for maintenance, gas, etc.  You can eliminate all of these costs by simply transporting the food on a specialty bike that has some kind of a cooler attached to it, maybe as a sidecar or something.  You'd have to pre-make the sandwiches, of course, and obviously you'd need just an assload of them in the cooler so you wouldn't have to be constantly making trips back to the homebase to reload, and….hmm, ok, there are some holes in this plan.  It's always been a dream of mine to, uh, have a dream about some wild invention that makes me a fortune.  This might not be the one. 

* How else can Dave and Alex afford that swanky new apartment, given that Alex's clothing store never has any customers?  What, are we supposed to believe that a TV sitcom wouldn't ensure that their characters' homes are realistic matches for their financial situations?  Pretty far-fetched!

In fact, this entire dream might be about failed wish-fulfillment.  For example, my ballplaying days are long over, as I haven't hit the field since a softball game in 2008 that resulted in a pulled hamstring and an actual strikeout.  That's right, a strikeout in SOFTBALL.  With my own teammate lobbing underhand pitches to me.  Jesus wept.  It was that game that told me it was time to hang up the glove for good, thus ending a  truly legendary career on the diamond.  So there's that, plus my failed dream of learning how to ride a bicycle.

"Uh, Mark, you could easily just sign up for rec league softball.  And geez, there's really no reason at all you couldn't still learn how to ride a bike."

Shut up, Voice of Reason!  Anyway, the biggest failed dream here is obviously Jeff and Lisa's business model.  Used toppings stolen from other sub sandwiches?!?!  The mind boggles at the financial implication of buying an actual sandwich from a restaurant, scooping off the toppings and then Jeff making the dollar-bill motion with his fingers like Lisa says, "It's only a matter of time."  Like, where does all the bread come from?  And you've been keeping used roast beef in your freezer for all those years?  Wake up!  It occurs me that I actually don't know what Lisa does for a living despite knowing she and Jeff for several years --- if it's owning a restaurant, I may flip out. 

So really it's failed dreams all around, with the biggest failed dream of all being that in this reality, Jeff and Lisa's bankruptcy-bound business will leave me with one less friend to mooch off of in the future.  What happened to my dream of relying on my friends to keep me afloat?  Am I supposed to rely on the kindness of strangers?  That didn't work out well at all for Blanche Dubois.

Also, let's not ignore the fact that in having a dream about failed dreams, my subconscious is also telling me that I really suck at these dream analyses.  That's just nonsense.  If my subconscious really knew its business, it would be my real conscious, right?  Who's the failure now, subconscious?  You're not even top dog in my mind.  Have fun being the Garfunkel to my conscious mind's Simon.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Supercut, Bond Supercut

Skyfall was pretty incredible and can lay claim to the title of 'the ultimate James Bond movie.'  Yet, some enterprising chap has already tried to create the ultimate Bond film by taking five-minute clips from all 22 Bond movies and editing them together into one (kinda, but not really) semi-coherent film.  If you have two hours to spare, check it out.  It's certainly better than a Fast & The Furious supercut....oh lord, one of those probably exists, doesn't it?  Damn you, internet.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Citizen Boneham

Sure, it was great seeing Obama win and all, but the real highlight of the 2012 election season happened when whatever network I was watching showed the preliminary results of the Indiana governor's race.  The eventual winner (Mike Pence) had a narrow lead over the Democratic challenger, and in a distant third was the Libertarian candidate, who was just listed as 'Boneham' since the graphic was only featuring last names.  I chuckled to myself, not in a Beavis way (huh huh, BONEham.  Huh huh), but rather amused since the only person I knew with that last name was iconic Survivor player and tie-dye shirt enthusiast Rupert Boneham.  Clicking on the laptop, I decided to check out more info about the Indiana governor's race to see if the candidate was related to Rupert…

…only to discover that IT ACTUALLY WAS RUPERT.  FRIGGIN' RUPERT FROM SURVIVOR WAS RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR.  WHAT THE WHAT.  I have no earthly idea how this had escaped my attention until election night itself, but my god, it was true.  Here is his campaign website, which sadly doesn't include any action shots of Rupert in his tie-dyed wonder, though his campaign logo looks suspiciously like a Tribal Council torch.

As the good people of California, Minnesota and Alaska can tell you, America has a long history of electing some pretty wacky-ass governors to run its states, so a Boneham administration actually wouldn't be the craziest thing to ever happen, but man, still.  RUPERT.  I can point to a few reasons why he came up short.

* It's hard to convince voters that you're a competent leader once they've already seen you thoroughly outwitted and outplayed (on three separate occasions!) on a reality show.

* Rupert didn't show much leadership during the legendary Dustin Hoffman/Daniel Radcliffe Scrabble controversy.  If he can't manage that, how can he manage a state's business?

* The crazy-man beard.  Admittedly, seeing Rupert without a beard would be like seeing a clean-shaven Santa Claus, but still, it doesn't look terribly professional.  This is just a social norm, however, not my personal feelings.  I'm personally all for politicians having nutty beards; virtually all of them had wacky facial hair until about the 1930's, then suddenly it was no longer cool.  Nowadays the only politicians I can think of with beards are Thomas Mulcair and Michele Bachmann.

* It's tough for any third-party candidate to break through and actually win an election.  Heck, third party candidates couldn't even unseat Kang or Kodos back in 1996.

* As well, it has to be hard to be a moustachioed Libertarian candidate in Indiana when you're not even the most famous moustachioed Libertarian in that state's political world.  Hey, wait a second….since Ron Swanson would've obviously voted Libertarian, does that mean Swanson cast a ballot for Rupert yesterday?!  What a bizarre conflagration of pop culture.  Rupert already seems like a Parks & Rec character so it's not hard to believe.

Rupert ended up with four percent of the vote, a respectable showing for a guy who do any better than fourth place on Survivor.  Furthermore, Rupert was seen leaving the governor's mansion with a rock in his pocket, so Russell Hantz at least believes Rupert actually won the election.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Daily Simpsons Dialogue, Addendum #1

You might remember my first post chronicling the Simpsons lines that I say on a daily or near-daily basis, and how I mentioned that it would be one of the most-updated posts I'd ever write given how often I'm quoting lines from the show.  Well, here's that first update.  I wasn't lying.  Since lies make the baby Jesus cry……aw man, there's yet another line to be added!

"Lies make the baby Jesus cry."
"This is certainly a disturbing universe."
"I like to put my feet up."
"I didn't cry when me own father was hung for stealing a pig, but I'll cry now!"
"And so we enter….endgame."
"Because shut up, that's why!"
"You worked hard, and in a way, you're both winners.  But in another, more accurate way, Barney is the winner."
"I'm cold and there are wolves after me."
"Marge, I'd prefer it if you didn't tell anyone what happened here tonight.  Not for my own sake, but I am so respected, it would hurt the TOWN to hear it.  Good NIGHT!"  (Note: this one has to be delivered with Jon Lovitz's inflections.)
"Well, I have been eating more!"
"Dramatization, may not have happened!"
"With a dry cool wit like that, I could be an action hero."
"I seen her.  That is to say, I saw her."
"I saw her.  That is to say, I seen her."
"Maude, eh?"
"Why is Mr. Smith killing everybody?"
"Oh, I've wasted my life."
"You'd fold like Superman on laundry day."
"My bones are so brittle!  But I always drink plenty of….malk!"
"There's a 4:30 in the morning now?"
Twiddling thumbs, "Doo, doo, do, do doo…"
"Where'd you get that, anyway?"  "Sent away."
"Why you cotton-pickin'….!"
"Yeah, LOOKS like."
"Well Marge, Self-improvement is a passion of mine!"
"I just wanted to entertain!"
"Don't make me run, I'm full of chocolate!"
"Mrs. Pommelhorse?  Hello?  I'd like to get down now."
"Super Nintendo Chalmers!"
"Done and done!"
"It's good….not great."
"Show's over, Shakespeare!"
"Ewww, beta!"
"All right, time for a crime spree!"
"I mean, attempted murder, what is that?"
"Bad babysitting!"
"I'll just hide under a pile of coats and hope that somehow, everything turns out all right."
"Attention, Marge Simpson: we've also arrested your older, balder, fatter son."
"Spring forth burly protector and save me!"
"That's a paddlin'."
"I heartily endorse this event or product."
"Not Souter!"
"I'm Idaho!"
"Bingo bango, sugar in the gas tank."
"Team Discovery Channel!"
"My eyes!  The goggles do nothing!"
"Avert your eyes children, he may change forms!
"Can't…stop….doing…the monkey!
"Up and at them!"
"Hey maw!  Look at the pointy-hair-ded little girl!  G'yuk!"
"If I had a girlfriend, she'd kill me!"
"Grease me up, woman!"
"It was my first and last blackberry schnapps...I was more animal than man!"
"No, come along, Bort!"
"More testicles means more iron."
"Baby, welcome to Dumpsville.  Population: you."

"You're fired."
"And with good cause!"

"Hey, Surly only looks out for one guy --- Surly."
"Oh.  Sorry, Surly."
"Shut up."