Saturday, June 30, 2018

Use Your Illusion I and II*

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

McCartney Carpool

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

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

My AFI Ranking

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

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

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

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

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

My ranking!

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

Saturday, June 23, 2018


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

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

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

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

Monday, June 18, 2018

Hot! Live! Music!

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 14, 2018

World Cup Predictions

They started the World Cup before I could make my picks?! Poor form, FIFA!

GROUP A (predicted order of finish): Uruguay, Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia
GROUP B: Spain, Morocco, Portugal, Iran
GROUP C: France, Peru, Denmark, Australia
GROUP D: Argentina, Croatia, Nigeria, Iceland
GROUP E: Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Costa Rica
GROUP F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea
GROUP G: Belgium, England, Tunisia, Panama
GROUP H: Colombia, Poland, Japan, Senegal

This sets up a bracket of....

Uruguay vs. Morocco
France vs. Croatia
Brazil vs. Mexico
Belgium vs. Poland
Spain vs. Russia
Argentina vs. Peru
Germany vs. Serbia
Colombia vs. England

...and from that, I'll predict Brazil over Germany in the final.  Revenge for the infamous 7-1 drubbing at the last World Cup!  Fun fact: during that game, I was at the dentist getting a cavity filled, so they had me all novocaine'd up.  When I left the appointment, they had the game on the TV in the reception area, and upon seeing the 4-0 scoreline at the time, I honestly thought I was still loopy from the medication.  As a bonus pick, I'll go with France over Argentina in the third place, as Messi's LeBron-esque attempt at being a one-man team again is not quite enough.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Canada's In The World Cup?!

I'll hold off my official World Cup predictions for a day to look ahead to the 2026 World Cup, in a nod to this morning's breaking news that the joint bid of Canada/Mexico/United States has been awarded the tournament.  Now, Canada and Mexico will only be hosting 10 games each while the U.S.A. hosts 60, so this is about as much of a joint bid as Destiny's Child was a joint effort between three pop stars of equal stature, but still, yay Canada!

This means that, for all intents and purposes, Canada's hilariously inept men's national team has finally made it back into a World Cup.  Technically, FIFA has yet to officially decide whether or not all three host countries will get automatic bids, but the odds are pretty good.  After all, the tournament is expanding to 48 teams in 2026, so they'll have plenty of extra space for more North American teams to qualify.  Heck, with a 48-team field, maybe Canada would've qualified anyway! on...

It's certainly a major landmark for Canadian soccer, Canadian sport, and really the nation as a whole.  It should be noted that the proposed number of games and venues for our country has yet to be finalized, with no guarantees that the announced cities of Vancouver, Edmonton, and Toronto will end up with games. 

In the midst of this uncertainty, I propose that my hometown of London, Ontario step into the driver's seat.  We have several soccer fields in town, some of which I myself played on as a child!  Oh, how I hated it!  The matches were less competitive games for me than they were a necessary evil to obtain orange slices.  My parents still to this day talk about how they've never seen me more miserable than when my eight-year-old was half-heartedly running up and down the pitch in the midst of a massive downpour.  I guess they bring it up since moments of pure misery were pretty rare in my childhood, and thus this one really stood really, strong parenting on their part!

London not only has soccer facilities, but MULTI-FIELD facilities.  That's right, sports complexes with three, four, maybe five or six fields able for use at any given time.  In the name of efficiency, we could play four games at once and roll through the entire group stage in maybe a week.

I can't speak for every set of fields, but the one near my parents' house (the actual site of my Roy Batty-esque "tears in rain" game) serves particularly tasty french fries in the snack booth.  Just saying.  If the French national team has a game scheduled in London and tries the fries, they'll definitely back me up on this.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Sting & Shaggy

This is not a drill --- Sting and Shaggy have teamed up to collaborate on a new album.

To be clear, this is indeed Shaggy of "It Wasn't Me" fame, and Gordon "Sting" Sumner from The Police.  It's not, like, Shaggy from Scooby Doo and Sting from pro wrestling teaming up to solve crimes and/or beat up the bad guys.  (Frankly, I think Sting would handle the heavy lifting on both the investigative and muscle sides of that team.)  This is indeed two musicians of seemingly disparate backgrounds joining forces to whip up a record that we can all enjoy.

And frankly, why not?  What's stopping them?  Sting's had some interest in reggae even dating back to his Police days, so if anything, he's probably overdue to make an album with an actual reggae artist.  And Shaggy can't very well be a reggae fusion artist if he isn't fusing reggae with something else.

I'm not going to buy this album but what the heck, tip of the hat to the two of them for making it.  This seems to be the general consensus about this whole project, as exemplified by this review from NME's Jordan Bassett.  He only gives it two stars, yet he can't bring himself to fully pan it.

"There’s something weirdly enjoyable about this cheery abomination of an album. The camaraderie is palpable. These are staggeringly, beautifully unselfconscious men, insulated by success, and they have honestly no idea how ludicrous they look and sound....Their hearts are in the right place, even if their better judgment was sunning itself somewhere in Kingston."

If Shaggy and Sting make another record, they absolutely have to title it "Cheery Abomination."  Anyway, here's the first single, judge for yourself!

Friday, June 01, 2018

The Hiatus

After years of sticking to a 10 posts-per-month schedule, I decided to take May entirely off.  Now, I guess you could say my streak still lives since I'm technically still averaging ten posts per month when I actually post, but this is splitting hairs to a comical extent, even for a bald guy.

Why the break?  Basically, just a combination of a busy workload, some life stuff getting in the way, and maybe even **quiet voice** just a bit of boredom about blogging?  In theory, this month away will recharge my batteries, and I indeed do feel a bit more pep in my step as I write these words.  Even though I'm sitting down and live an overtly sedentary lifestyle, I'd definitely have a jaunty stride if I ever stopped being lazy.

Stay tuned for most posts as we roar into June.  Same blog time, same blog channel!