Saturday, October 14, 2017

Random Nonsense


Happy Sudden Departure Day!  (Well, not ‘happy’ if you’re Nora Durst.)

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I often post whenever a favourite band of mine releases a new single, though you may notice I didn’t do so when the Killers unleashed “The Man” upon the world.  No big mystery why — it’s a pretty weak song.  Sadly, the rest of their Wonderful Wonderful album is similarly uninteresting.  It’d need to give it a couple more listens to give a truly fair assessment, but for now, I’m not sure there’s even a single track that could track the Killers’ top thirty-seven. 

Unfortunately, the Killers seem to be abandoning their pop hook-laden style in favour of more soundscape-ish type stuff.  “The Man” is the only song on the record with a big fat hook, though since that hook is missing sharpness, perhaps that’s a sign that the band doesn’t have their classic sound in them anymore.  There was a five-year hiatus between albums, so it’s also possible that the Killers as a whole don’t have much oomph as a creative collaboration anymore.  This sounds a bit grim to say that a band is washed up, though given that the Killers’ entire vibe has been “sounds like a semi-washed up lounge band in a mostly-empty Vegas saloon, except they play keyboard rock,” it could be a fitting end?

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Imagine going on the Oregon Trail and dying of something other than dysentery.  What a waste.

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Since Kumail Nanjiani is hosting SNL this weekend, it seems appropriate to feature his recent “Clueless Gamer” appearance on Conan.  I’ve got to disagree with Conan on this one — the character should have Kumail’s voice.  If you’re going to the trouble to cast a well-known actor to do comedic voice work, it only makes sense to use his actual voice, right?


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Two recent SNL observations….

* the papyrus font sketch was nothing special.  Not sure why the internet suddenly fell in love with it

* new cast member Heidi Gardner hasn’t really had a breakout yet (fair enough, it’s only been two episodes) but she did have a weirdly good acting moment.  To recap: the sketch was a spoof of daytime talk shows, with Heidi playing an angry teen, Aidy Bryant playing her distraught mother and Kenan “Fifteen Seasons!” Thompson playing the so-called drill sergeant type of character often see in such shows, brought on to straighten the teen out with some boot camp discipline.  The punch line is that he mentions something about being her daddy, and Heidi and Aidy then wholeheartedly embrace this as a legitimate offer to become the father. 

Pretty thin last-sketch-of-the-night premise, whatever, yet it did contain Heidi’s character talking about how she could now tell people “that’s my dad!”  It was said with such pride in her voice that it added a minor tragic twist to this goofy sketch, as this white-trash character was so desperate for a father figure in her life and she was inevitably going to be let down again when (or if?) this situation was eventually sorted out.  In short, when Heidi Gardner wins an Oscar in 15 years, don’t be surprised.

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I’m not going to see The Snowman since it looks either very silly or very generic, so my theory is that the killer is actually a woman.  See, the twist here is that the name is both a reference to their snow-themed killings and the gender.  As in, not pronounced “Snowman” but removing the ‘it’ from “it’s no man.”

Man, I should write horror movies.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Pwnage, Renaissance-Style

Few figures in history have been as hilariously and thoroughly humiliated for all time as Biagio da Cesena, who served as Papal Master Of Ceremonies under four Popes in the 16th century.

A late-night dive down the Wikipedia hole led me to an exploration of classic artwork, and Michelangelo’s The Last Judgement.  This led to my discovery of Biagio Martinelli, the pride (or shame, as it turned out?) of Cesena, whose own Wiki page consists largely of this anecdote.  Imagine having one’s life summed up in so inglorious a fashion…

“After the completion of The Last Judgment da Cesena said of the fresco, "it was mostly disgraceful that in so sacred a place there should have been depicted all those nude figures, exposing themselves so shamefully". Da Cesena went on to say the painting was more suitable "for the public baths and taverns" than a Papal chapel. In response, Michelangelo worked Cesena's face into the scene as Minos, judge of the underworld (far bottom-right corner of the painting) with donkey ears (i.e. indicating foolishness), while his nudity is covered by a coiled snake. It was widely said that when Cesena complained to the Pope, the pontiff joked that his jurisdiction did not extend to hell and the portrait would have to remain.”

The Pope in question was Paul III, by the way.  For someone who didn’t have any say in the fiery pits of hell, Paul III sure knew a thing or two about sick burns.  Still, Paul III couldn’t compare to the all-time funniest Pope, who tops the humour rankings on name alone.

I feel like countless prudish, unctuous and stuck-up characters in literary history — everyone from Red Dwarf’s Arnold Rimmer to Shakespeare’s Malvolio — owe a debt to Biagio da Cesena as their true-life inspiration for perfect comeuppance.  The moral of the story is, don’t mess with Michelangelo.  In fact, the creators of the Ninja Turtles should’ve named Vernon Fenwick (April O’Neil’s obnoxious reporter co-worker) something like “Vernon Biagio” or something as a shoutout to someone else that was often made to look silly by a Michelangelo. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Meet Your Second Wife

When it comes to YouTube, SNL only makes some sketches available to international viewers a couple of years after airing.  So now, I am finally able to post the single funniest sketch of the 2015-16 season and one of the funnier sketches of recent memory.  This was absolutely savage, big belly laughs on virtually every line...in fact, it's unfortunate that the title is right there in the video (and atop my post!) since the reveal of the game show's name is one of the very best moments.  It gets even funnier if you imagine Will Arnett just sinking into a couch in a full-body cringe while watching.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Drunken Master

I recently watched ‘Drunken Master’ and have some thoughts….

* The next time I’m in a “best athlete ever” debate, I’m going to mention Jackie Chan.  I don’t actually believe this (the best athlete ever is Andre “Red Light” Racicot), but man, Chan in his prime was just unreal.  I’d only seen middle-aged Jackie Chan from his North American movies,  so I couldn’t have been more impressed at seeing Vintage Jackie for the first time.

* Do you like action scenes?  There are at least 20 kung fu fights over a 90-minute runtime!  Look no further than Drunken Master for your action movie needs!

* Do you like live-action cartoons?  That’s basically the movie, given Jackie’s comedic fighting style.  At one point he actually farts in an opponent’s face, then tosses him face-first into a pile of feces that just happens to be nearby.  Imagine a violent Adam Sandler…or, wait, I remember the Bob Barker incident.  Okay, a MORE violent Adam Sandler.

* But Jackie is no Bugs Bunny omnipotent type.  He spends a good half of the movie getting thoroughly beaten up and humiliated by any number of opponents, including a) his own aunt, b) the drunken master himself and c) a gang of, I guess, really aggressive waiters and bouncers at a local restaurant?  Some explanation on the latter…Chan tries to scheme his way out of paying for a meal, which leads to at least a half-dozen guys trying to beat him down.  They win via sheer numbers, and punish Jackie by repeatedly punching him in the stomach to make him vomit up the food he stole.  Good lord!  On a related note, this is also how they deal with shoplifters at Arby’s.  The best part is that Jackie is trying to skip out of a meal that costs a grand total of $1.05.  I’m shocked the restaurant owner can afford to hire so many goons with such rock-bottom prices.

* The plot, as it were, is that Jackie is a cocky young martial artist and the son of a great kung fu master.  Despite his skills, Jackie is definitely in need of some humbling, so his father arranges for him to be taught by an eccentric old-timer who is an expert in the art of “drunken fighting,” which is essentially just trying to be as unpredictable and seemingly off-balance as possible (as if you’re drunk) so your opponent can’t predict your next move.  Spoiler alert — things work out for the best for Jackie, though if the father wanted his son to learn truly advanced kung fu from a master, why not just send Jackie to his aunt?  She seems to be at least tied for first place in the ‘biggest badass in the movie’ standings.  Jackie does eventually win the final fight by adopting a so-called “feminine” style, so maybe that’s a nod to Auntie Wong’s mastery.

* In classic Spider-Man fashion, the main villain (Thunderleg) bests Jackie easily in their first meeting.  Jackie is drying his pants off over a fire when they first encounter each other, and after Thunderleg wins the fight, he adds insult to injury by burning Jackie’s pants up in the flames.  Jackie Chan recently received an honorary Oscar for his incredible contributions to international cinema, though I’d argue he should’ve received an actual Oscar for his emotional response to watching his pants get burned.  Who won Best Actor in 1978, Jon Voight?  Please.  Sure, Voight had to capture the physical and emotional pain of a Vietnam veteran, but does that compare to the torment of watching one’s own pants burned in front of one?!  I think not!    

* Thunderleg is the big bad, though there is a very notable minor villain with the name of “Rat, the Iron-Headed Bullet.”  This fellow’s big move is to just lower his (admittedly hard) head and run at people.  It’s a pretty great gimmick for a ‘little bad,’ sort of like how every opponent in Punch-Out has a specific strength that you have to stay away from. 

* I figure this was due to some creative dubbing rather than the original screenplay, but there are some A+ insults in the dialogue.  After the soaking-wet Jackie sasses Thunderleg, the villain responds with “a big mouth on a wet ass.”  I mean, Jackie is indeed drenched and his character is indeed a big-mouth….but geez, Thunderleg, that’s a Tobias Bluth-level example of trash talk.  Later in the film, after Thunderleg insults Jackie’s father, Jackie retorts with “You watch out, or you’ll have a body with no ass.”  Good lord, what kind of martial art is so destructive that it can somehow remove someone’s hindquarters and yet still leave the body functioning?  Or, was Jackie’s point that he’d ‘remove’ the ass in the sense of sticking something where the sun don’t shine?  So many unanswered questions, I may need to watch Drunken Master 2.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

NHL/NBA Predictions

A new hockey season is upon us, and for the first time in well over a decade, I have expectations.  Could the Maple Leafs actually take another step forward this year, or am I (and Leafs Nation as a whole) setting ourselves up for disappointment?  This is still a young and ostensibly rebuilding team, don't forget.  A step backwards wouldn't be a shock.  To their credit, the Leafs front office didn't go nuts with "win now" signings or anything, since Patrick Marleau isn't exactly the last piece of the puzzle at his advanced age of *checks Wikipedia* 72 years old.

My predictions!

East: Penguins, Capitals, Rangers, Blue Jackets......Canadiens, Lightning, Maple Leafs, Panthers
West: Stars, Predators, Blackhawks, Jets, Wild.....Ducks, Oilers, Sharks

Stanley Cup Finals: Ducks over Rangers

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While I'm here, let's get the NBA picks out of the way as well, unless some other major superstars switches teams in the next month.  Also, because it's pretty obvious that Golden State is going to win the title again.

East Conference: Celtics, Wizards, Cavaliers, Bucks, Raptors, Heat, Hawks, Pistons
West Conference: Warriors, Thunder, Rockets, Spurs, Trail Blazers, Clippers, Nuggets, Timberwolves

NBA Finals: Warriors over Celtics