Wednesday, October 31, 2007

This Is Halloween!

I mentioned it last year but you really should go see The Nightmare Before Christmas in 3D if it's playing near you.
It's the best way to celebrate any holiday.

Thriller Re-revisited

Last year I posted the Indian version of Thriller.
This year it's the Filipino prison version:

It's quite an impressive undertaking! Of course, it's easy to pull off when you have hundreds of slaves you can force to dance for your amusement.

Movie Night 8

Our last Halloween night was another short one, unfortunately, do to low turnout and technical difficulties. Oh well...

1. "The Soldier and Death" -
The Storyteller was featured as the second half of the sorely missed Jim Henson Hour, which I thought was pretty much the greatest thing on television at the time. Hopefully there will be a release of the entire hour-long episodes in the future, but until then the separate release of The Storyteller will have to do.
This episode is one of the best. It's the simple tale of a wandering soldier who acquires, through good deeds, a magic deck of cards that can never lose, and a cloth sack in which he can trap anything by commanding it to get in. He then uses these items to gain fame and fortune, and eventually capture death himself.

2. The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (2001) -
This is one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. A spot-on parody of old B movies.
A scientist and his wife rent a cabin in the woods so that he can study a fallen meteor that he believes to be lousy with an element called "atmosphereum". Meanwhile , another scientist (quite possibly mad) intends to use said atmosphereum to revive the Skeleton of Cadavra, an evil skeleton with amazing psychic powers. And meanwhiler still, two aliens have crash landed on Earth and need atmosphereum to power their spaceship. But their pet mutant escaped in the crash, and who knows how many untold millions will die by its hand? If only it did have hands...
And they all must contend with Animala - half woman, and half four different forest creatures. What will happen when all of these people collide?
Hmm...I wonder...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Lego Pirate Cake!

Joe and Tara have outdone themselves with their latest cake creation.

Behold the Lego Pirate!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Halloween Playlist

Here's a little Halloween playlist I've put together.
In no particular order:

1. Squirrel Nut Zippers - "Ghost of Stephen Foster" from Perennial Favorites

2. Lisa Germano - "...A Psychopath" from Geek The Girl
Genuinely creepy song with an actual frantic woman's 911 call, as someone tries to break into her house, playing in the background. One of the most genuinely disturbing songs I've ever heard. Do not listen to it alone in the dark.
Meanwhile, Lisa's lyrics don't help to alleviate the tension: "That thing of mace, the thing of mace, where did I leave it/ A psychopath, a psychopath, he says he loves me/ And I'm alone, and I am cold and paralyzed, I can't move."

The end of this track on the CD contains a few seconds worth of some random, silly gypsy-like tune, almost as an apology for freaking your shit out moments earlier.

3. Gorillaz - "Ghost Train" from G-Sides EP
Good party music about a ghost train. Also, Gorillaz rule.

4. Aquabats - "Monster's Wedding" from Vs. The Floating Eyeball Of Death!
Great novelty song in the vain of "Monster Mash", about a wedding attended by a menagerie of monsters. Made for Halloween.

5. Queens of the Stone Age - "Burn The Witch" from Lullabies To Paralyze

6. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes - "Science Fiction Double Feature" from Are A Drag
The classic intro song to Rocky Horror Picture Show by the best punk cover band ever.

7. Sufjan Stevens - "John Wayne Gacy Jr." from Illinoise
Beautifully haunting song about one of the most disturbing serial killers in American history.
Lyric sample: "He dressed up like a clown for them/ With his face paint white and red/ And on his best behavior/ In a dark room on the bed he kissed them all/ He'd kill ten thousand people/ With a sleight of his hand/ Running far, running fast to the dead/ He took off all their clothes for them/ He put a cloth on their lips/ Quiet hands, quiet kiss/ On the mouth."

8. I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness - "The Owl" from Fear Is On Our Side

9. Jonathan Coulton - "RE: Your Brains"
Hilarious song about a recently-turned zombie trying to convince an old coworker to let him and the rest of his fellow brain biters into the building.

10. Scott Walker - "Jesse" from The Drift

Surprised to actually find a video for this one. It's pretty strange stuff.

11. They Might Be Giants - "I've Got A Fang" from Mink Car
Upbeat song about a guy with a fang. Sure, it's good for opening up cans of tomato juice, but it doesn't really endear you to your girlfriend's parents.

12. Jonathan Coulton - "Creepy Doll"
So there are two Coulton songs on the playlist. Sue me.
This video isn't official, but it gets the job done:

Bonus Track:
Cocteau Twins - "Strange Fruit" from BBC Sessions
I found this while googling for other folks' Halloween playlists. So maybe it's cheating, but whatever.
The Cocteau Twins managed to take a haunting civil rights song about lynching and make it sound as if it were playing on a stereo in Hell.
Here's a sample the whole track from their site:

So what's on your Halloween playlist?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I Am The Radiskull!

Here are a couple of videos for ya.
I don't know if any of you have heard of Devil Doll & Radiskull, but I was really into these cartoons back in the day. Back when the internet still had a fresh coat of paint on, that "new tube smell", and Shockwave was the hippest thing around.
I rediscovered them through a very obscure reference in one of my comic books, of all places. And just in time for Halloween...

The animation hasn't aged terribly well, but they still carry a nostalgic charm for me. Hope you like them.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Are You Prepared For Halloween?

Halloween is almost here, and you've got everything you need...Or do you?

Poor little Betsy has agreed to sacrifice her own beloved cat for a Halloween ritual.

Unfortunately for her satanic neighborhood friends, little Betsy is a dirty snitch.

But Miss Johnson isn't worried about spells.

After a lengthy and very inappropriate conversation with her student... there still time for Miss Johnson to save the day?

Yes, but not before nearly strangling the poor kitten in her righteous fury.

Happy Halloween!

By the way, anyone else notice the problem with that cat?

Movie Night 7

1. Dog Soldiers 2002 -
My favorite werewolf movie. It's about a squad of British soldiers running a routine training mission in the hills of Scotland, until they discover they've been used as bait for a much larger, more dangerous mission. This movie has great dialog, memorable characters, genuinely funny humor, great costume designs (werewolves are refreshingly CG-free), and excellent action.
This was a re-buy for me. I wish I'd kept the original, because the new one has terrible cover art.
(Original cover art is above).

2. Slither 2006 -
I hadn't seen this since it was in the theaters. I remembered liking it, but I had forgotten how good it really was. A parasite from outer space infects a man in a small town. He gradually transforms into a hideous beast, while infecting practically everyone else in town. This movie is great because of how the alien threat evolves. It is also very, very funny. This movie does not take itself seriously, even using the monster for some great jokes. There are some really good gross-out moments, too.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Please Refrain From Making Any "Wand" Jokes

So, J.K. Rowling has apparently outed Dumbledore, according to this Washington Post story.

I know some of you have read/are reading these books. Hope this news doesn't change the experience for you too greatly.

I'm not surprised by the news at all, since I've always believed all wizards to be gay. But that's just me.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Movie Night 6

Hitchcock night has been postponed until next month, since Hitchcock doesn't necessarily demand to be viewed in the spirit of Halloween. He's not that kind of scary.

In lieu of Hitchcock this week became "New Zealand zombie comedy week". A perfect substitute.

1. Kitchen -
From Wholphin Vol. 3, this French film is about a woman preparing dinner for her husband. While not exactly fitting within the night's theme, it does include a human battling a disgusting creature. The creature in this case is a lobster.
There may also be a blender involved.

2. Dead Alive (1992) -
When it was announced that Peter Jackson was directing the enormous Lord of the Rings trilogy, I thought of this movie and said, "Really?" It was hard to believe that the director of this movie (not to mention Meet the Feebles) would be in charge of one of the most expensive and risky movie projects of all time.
Not that Dead Alive is a bad movie. But it's incredibly gory, not exactly family-friendly.
If you want to see a man plow through a room full of zombies with a lawnmower, twice, than this movie is for you.

3. Black Sheep (2007) -
Several years later we have another New Zealand-based zombie movie. This one is about zombie sheep that bite people, who then become zombie were-sheep. This movie should win every Oscar.
Also, the special effects were done by Peter Jackson's Weta Workshop. Neat!

Monday, October 08, 2007

My Eyes Are Melting! Melting!
What A World! What A World!

Now that I've gotten your hopes up with that great Futurama preview, time to dash them on the rocks with this abomination:

Here's a list of character names from the movie juxtaposed with their original counterparts:

D.G. = Dorothy Gale
Glitch = Scare Crow
Cain = Tin Man
Raw = Cowardly Lion
Azkadellia = Wicked Witch of the West
Mystic Man = The Wizard

So, besides having grating references to "the O.Z." this show features character names so X-tremely radical that you simply can't believe how awesomely tubular they are.
The costumes are also terrible. Is that a lion-man, or the retarded offspring of X-Men villain Sabertooth and those Geico cavemen? Alan Cumming's character shows us what the cover of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" would look like if it was inhabited by emo zombies. And the Tin Man has been turned into a badass cowboy for some fucking reason.

Here's a list of other modern, edgy changes - which, incidentally, I have completely made up - sure to transform L. Frank Baum's beloved children's fantasy into a carnival horror show:

1. Original songs by My Chemical Romance.

2. Flying monkeys replaced by flying monkeys with electric Razor Scooters.

3. Emerald City now called Bling-Bling Land.

4. Toto makes an appearance as ten-story-high mecha-dog, T.O.T.O.

5. "I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas, anymore," delivered with extra thick, self-aware postmodern irony.

6. Instead of asking for an oil can, the Tin Man requests that Dorothy update his drivers with a virus-blocking firewall.

7. "Lions, and Tigers, and Bears! OMG!"

8. Dorothy defeats the witch by pouring water on her...and then tossing a live power cable into the puddle, saying, "You're gonna get me and my little dog? Get this!"

One thing is for certain: the term "re-imagining" is now synonymous with "childhood-raping."

Back To The Futurama

I. Can. Not. Wait.
And neither can you. This trailer for the new Futurama movie, "Bender's Big Score," will leave you incapable of not buying it.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Movie Night 5

Halloween month is here at last!

1. The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello -
Yet another Wholphin short, this one from Vol. 2. The quality of the films in Wholphin are astoundingly good across the board.
This one is an animated short done in a silhouette style reminiscent of Asian shadow plays. It is a gothic horror story set in an alternative steam punk-like universe about an expedition in uncharted skies (air ships figure prominently).

It also features man-eating monsters, a mysterious sickness and a mad scientist!

2. Donnie Darko (2001) -
I love this movie, but I kind of played it out after I first got the DVD. So tonight was the first time I watched it in a while. I still really enjoyed it, although there are one or two moments where the dialog feels hokey.
The soundtrack is perhaps the best part of the movie, featuring an epic score, some great 80's new wave tracks, and Gary Jules' cover of the Tears For Fears song, "Mad World". Damn that song still brings tears to my eyes even after so many viewings.
It's also great for playing the Movie Game since the cast includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Noah Wyle, Drew Barrymore, and Patrick Swayze.

That's it. We called it an early night this week.
Next week is supposed to be Hitchcock night, but we'll see how that turns out. So far every time we plan to watch something in advance it ends up changing at the last minute.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Conservatives Are Such Jokers

Adrienne posted a really good piece from the New York Times in her blog. Her blog is private so I'm re-posting it here:

October 5, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Conservatives Are Such Jokers

In 1960, John F. Kennedy, who had been shocked by the hunger he saw in West Virginia, made the fight against hunger a theme of his presidential campaign. After his election he created the modern food stamp program, which today helps millions of Americans get enough to eat.

But Ronald Reagan thought the issue of hunger in the world’s richest nation was nothing but a big joke. Here’s what Reagan said in his famous 1964 speech “A Time for Choosing,” which made him a national political figure: “We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry each night. Well, that was probably true. They were all on a diet.”

Today’s leading conservatives are Reagan’s heirs. If you’re poor, if you don’t have health insurance, if you’re sick — well, they don’t think it’s a serious issue. In fact, they think it’s funny.

On Wednesday, President Bush vetoed legislation that would have expanded S-chip, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, providing health insurance to an estimated 3.8 million children who would otherwise lack coverage.

In anticipation of the veto, William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, had this to say: “First of all, whenever I hear anything described as a heartless assault on our children, I tend to think it’s a good idea. I’m happy that the president’s willing to do something bad for the kids.” Heh-heh-heh.

Most conservatives are more careful than Mr. Kristol. They try to preserve the appearance that they really do care about those less fortunate than themselves. But the truth is that they aren’t bothered by the fact that almost nine million children in America lack health insurance. They don’t think it’s a problem.

“I mean, people have access to health care in America,” said Mr. Bush in July. “After all, you just go to an emergency room.”

And on the day of the veto, Mr. Bush dismissed the whole issue of uninsured children as a media myth. Referring to Medicaid spending — which fails to reach many children — he declared that “when they say, well, poor children aren’t being covered in America, if that’s what you’re hearing on your TV screens, I’m telling you there’s $35.5 billion worth of reasons not to believe that.”

It’s not just the poor who find their travails belittled and mocked. The sick receive the same treatment.

Before the last election, the actor Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson’s and has become an advocate for stem cell research that might lead to a cure, made an ad in support of Claire McCaskill, the Democratic candidate for Senator in Missouri. It was an effective ad, in part because Mr. Fox’s affliction was obvious.

And Rush Limbaugh — displaying the same style he exhibited in his recent claim that members of the military who oppose the Iraq war are “phony soldiers” and his later comparison of a wounded vet who criticized him for that remark to a suicide bomber — immediately accused Mr. Fox of faking it. “In this commercial, he is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He is moving all around and shaking. And it’s purely an act.” Heh-heh-heh.

Of course, minimizing and mocking the suffering of others is a natural strategy for political figures who advocate lower taxes on the rich and less help for the poor and unlucky. But I believe that the lack of empathy shown by Mr. Limbaugh, Mr. Kristol, and, yes, Mr. Bush is genuine, not feigned.

Mark Crispin Miller, the author of “The Bush Dyslexicon,” once made a striking observation: all of the famous Bush malapropisms — “I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family,” and so on — have involved occasions when Mr. Bush was trying to sound caring and compassionate.

By contrast, Mr. Bush is articulate and even grammatical when he talks about punishing people; that’s when he’s speaking from the heart. The only animation Mr. Bush showed during the flooding of New Orleans was when he declared “zero tolerance of people breaking the law,” even those breaking into abandoned stores in search of the food and water they weren’t getting from his administration.

What’s happening, presumably, is that modern movement conservatism attracts a certain personality type. If you identify with the downtrodden, even a little, you don’t belong. If you think ridicule is an appropriate response to other peoples’ woes, you fit right in.

And Republican disillusionment with Mr. Bush does not appear to signal any change in that regard. On the contrary, the leading candidates for the Republican nomination have gone out of their way to condemn “socialism,” which is G.O.P.-speak for any attempt to help the less fortunate.

So once again, if you’re poor or you’re sick or you don’t have health insurance, remember this: these people think your problems are funny.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Attend The Tale Of Sweeney Todd

I really hope this movie is good. I just need to believe that Tim Burton is still capable of making a great movie. The preview is promising:

Really, all they needed to show was two seconds of Johnny Depp singing and they insured themselves a huge audience.


Glimpsed this on G4, and was forced to track it down.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Movie Night 4

This week's theme was, apparently, "talk through all the movies." That's what I get for hanging out with a bunch of drunks.

1. The Delicious -
A ridiculous (and delicious) short film about an average businessman becoming obsessed with one of his mother-in-law's old pantsuits. You know, that old story. It's complete nonsense, which is why I love it.
Featured in Wholphin Vol. 1.

2. Labyrinth (1986) -
Best. Movie. Ever. Or at least very high on that list. There's no telling what kind of impact this movie had on me as a child, although I'm sure David Bowie's bulge is forever imprinted in the depth of my subconscious. The music rocks, the art design is top notch, and the special effects - while dated - are better and more imaginative than most of the CGI kid-flicks coming out twenty years later.
Some of group hadn't seen this movie before and I needed to remedy that. But since movie night became chatty night this week, they still haven't really seen it.

3. The Host (2006) -
I didn't get the chance to see this in the theaters, but snagged it once it came out on DVD. The hype surrounding it was probably a little overblown. Harry Knowles' blurb on the front cover, "On par with Jaws", is the kind of exaggerated fan-boy gushing that only he is capable of. Nor is it "a seriously SCARY freakout," as Manohla Dargis of the New York Times would have us believe.
It is a very entertaining monster movie, often more funny than scary, with some great effects and death scenes. It follows the trials of one family trying to rescue their daughter after she is dragged off into the sewers by some sort of mutated salamander.
What makes this movie most unique is the ineptitude of its heroes. Time after time the girl's father proves that he is the last person you'd want in charge of a rescue operation. Almost every heroic attempt is met with failure. Several major characters are dead by the end, due more to human error than any effort on the monster's part. Even the young girl's own attempts to free herself, and another young boy taken hostage, ends in disaster.
I guess I enjoy this movie because of its pessimistic outlook. It seems far more realistic than, say, the absurd heroics of King Kong's protagonists (especially in the remake).

And You May Ask Yourself
Where Does That Highway Go?

This weekend I went to see Knoxville's local Talking Heads cover band, Same As It Ever Was. I've been meaning to see them for some time, but only now got around to actually going. They were excellent. They do justice to some amazing music. It was much more danceable than I previously thought of Talking Heads' music being.

Tonight I checked out David Byrne's journal, which I unfortunately don't read nearly enough. He often writes about his experiences on the road, and much of the culture (musical or otherwise) he witness. Sometimes he's very vocal about politics. Either way, it's good reading.

Oddly enough, one of his recent entries describes his travels down south, stopping by Dollywood, and then having dinner in Knoxville at Market Square.

It was kind of eerie to read about one of my favorite performers stopping through my hometown. Like I could have run into him if I'd decided to go out that night.

Anyway, some of his comments about Knoxville and Dollywood are very amusing.
Here's an excerpt:

"At the Holiday Inn in Knoxville, I saw a sign for the historic town center. Thinking it might contain some character and restaurants, we head there in search of dinner. There’s no one on the streets — not metaphorically, but literally not a single soul is out and it’s not even 8 o’clock. Eventually, we reach Market Square where we see people sitting at some outdoor seats. There are few restaurants, so we’re in luck. They serve me wine in a tiny plastic airplane bottle and we share a nice salad and some salmon. We wonder, where is everyone? Do they come to town to work, some of them, and then go home and stay in at night? Or do they go to restaurants and bars in suburban strip malls?"