Sunday, December 28, 2008

One-Man Wind Waker Theme

This is a delightful cover of The Legend Of Zelda: Wind Waker's theme song, played on numerous instruments by one dude.

[via Joystiq]

Friday, December 26, 2008

No More Kings - "Sweep The Leg, Johnny"

No child of the 80's can watch this without being moved. While I don't know a damn thing about this band - nor do I really care - they've created a tribute to one of the greatest movies of all time. And for that we are grateful.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Aimee Mann's Christmas Carol

This is a great parody of A Christmas Carol, featuring Aimee Mann as Scrooge. Michael Penn, John C. Reilly, Paul F. Tompkins, and Michael Cera also make appearances, as well as others.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Playlist

1. "Winter Reveries", Hans Zimmer, Toys Original Soundtrack
2. "Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow", Knoxville First Baptist Church Choir
3. "Christmas Lullaby", Songs For A New World
4. "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch", Aimee Mann, One More Drifter In The Snow
5."God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen", Barenaked Ladies & Sarah McLachlan, Maybe This Christmas
6. "12.5 Days Of Christmas", unknown acapella group
7. "Winter Weather", Squirrel Nut Zippers, Christmas Caravan
8. "O Come O Come Emmanuel", Sufjan Stevens, Songs For Christmas, vol.1 - Noel
9. "When The River Meets The Sea", cast of Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas
10. "The Closing Of The Year", Tori Amos, Toys Original Soundtrack

Merry Grizmas

In this clip from the Colbert Christmas special, Stephen learns to accept his nemesis. It's a glorious message of peace, love, and understanding.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I haven't been following the Blogojevich news that closely, but his picture is all over the place right now. And every time I see it it strikes me as a bit odd.

There's just something about him that looks kind of artificial, or something.

Than it hit me.
Am I crazy, or does he bear a slight resemblance to Boy?

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Complete 8-Bit Jesus

Apparently that chiptune Christmas album I linked to recently was just a sample of the full album yet to come. And it has now arrived. So go download it.

Bonus: a completely different chiptune Christmas album, via Offworld.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

I've always loved the song "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas", but Zhubin's post from last year made me love it even more. It bears re-posting.

"Did you ever notice how stupid the lyrics to "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" are? Specifically, the second to last line:

Through the years
We all will be together
If the Fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now

I always thought it was weird, because the melody has such a wonderful melancholy undertone to it, but the lyrics don't match it at all, and that one particular line seems jarringly out of place. You're whispering to me that we'll always have each other, and then you suddenly command me to decorate a Christmas tree? Well, fuck you. That's not the kind of relationship I want to last through the ages.

Well, guess what? I did some research on the subject, by which I mean I Googled the song title and looked at the first few websites, and it turns out I have a good perception of editing. The "shining star" line is a revision of this original verse:

Someday soon
We all will be together
If the Fates allow
Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now

Much better. Now the whole verse makes sense. The first three lines aren't a throw-away line about how happy we are together, but actually a hope that someday we'll be together."

Read the whole thing.

I've heard this a few times this Christmas season, and I always sing along with the original lyrics.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

No...No! NOOOOOOO!!!!!! *sob*

Some interesting updates on the Cowboy Bebop movie.

Apparently they want to stretch the series' first episode into a full length movie. While that was a great episode, and introduces the series nicely, it doesn't contain half of what made Bebop a great series. Fey Valentine, Radical Edward, and Einstein were all introduced in later episodes. And while I'm sure they'll try to cram all of their introductions into the movie, it just isn't going to work properly. They either need to create an original story, or focus on one of the bigger stories with Spike and Vicious.

But the worst possible news is this: Keanu Reeves wants to play Spike.

Spike is witty, charming, and subtle. Keanu Reeves has all the charm of a mildewed log at the bottom of a compost heap. And he would look ridiculous with all that hair.

I am no longer looking forward to this.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Laser Sharkbear Holiday Gift Guide

Here is a quick list of things you should all buy for me.

1. A signed Brandon Bird print. Preferably this one:

I've already expressed my love for this.

2. Adorable 9/11 plushies

Unfortunately, these aren't actually for sale. But I want them.

3. Donkey Kong Jenga

A geek must-have.

4. Creepy baby head bowl

If this wasn't sold out I'd be eating tomato soup out of it already.

5. Horrified B Movie Actor Action Figure Set

These would go great with my tiny teddy.

6. Steam Punk goggles

Steam Punk is the tits. Back off, haters!

7. Kickass 3D anatomy puzzles

So much tidier than actual cadavers.

8. T-Qualizer shirt

So everyone at the club will know I'm feeling it more than they are.

9. Karakuri Tea Serving Robot

Feudal Japan + robots. Yes, history was this cool.

10. Ice sphere tray

Or the professional version, for making perfect spheres. Because cubes are sooooo last century.

11. Banana Bunker

Just because it makes me giggle.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

eMusic/Amazon downloads of the month:

1. Anonymous 4 - The Origin of Fire: Music and Visions of Hildegard von Bingen
2. Final Fantasy - Plays To Please
3. John Denver & The Muppets - A Christmas Together
4. Sparks - Exotic Creatures of the Deep
5. Sparks - No. 1 In Heaven
6. Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III
7. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
8. Ratatat - Ratatat
9. The Cool Kids - The Bake Sale
10. School Of Seven Bells - Alpinisms
11. Stars - Sad Robots

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

These lists are subject to change depending on movies viewed before the year ends, or simply due to a change of mood.

Top Ten:
1. The Fall
2. Wall-E
3. In Bruges
4. The Dark Knight
5. Elegy
6. Redbelt
7. Mongol
8. Iron Man
9. Burn After Reading
10. Religulous

The Worst:
-1. Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull
-2. The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor
-3. Nick And Norah's Infinite Playlist

Entertaining Diversions:
1. Encounters At The End Of The World
2. Be Kind Rewind
3. Kung Fu Panda
4. The Incredible Hulk
5. Tropic Thunder
6. Wanted
7. Quantum Of Solace
8. Pineapple Express
9. Hellboy II: The Golden Army
10. Cloverfield
11. The Strangers
12. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
13. Harold And Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay

Biggest Let Downs:
1. Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull
2. Quantum Of Solace
3. Hellboy II: The Golden Army
4. W.

Most Wanting To See:
1. Synechdoche New York
2. The Wrestler
3. Rachel Getting Married
4. Frost/Nixon
5. Milk
6. Repo! The Genetic Opera
7. Teeth
8. My Blueberry Nights
9. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Avoided Like The Plague:
1. The Love Guru
2. The Happening
3. You Don't Mess With The Zohan
4. Star Wars: The Clone Wars
5. Superhero Movie/Disaster Movie
6. Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

I compiled a playlist of some of my favorite music of the year. In an effort to keep things under control I forced myself to only include songs that were released in 2008. A shame, considering some of my favorite and most-played albums were a year or two old. Such is life.

I'm not going to attempt to pick favorites, although there were definitely some albums I listened to more than others. All of this music is stuff that I really like for one reason or another. And this list could have been two or three times as long. I devoured a ton of music this year, and still feel like a missed quite a bit.

Here is the list, in roughly the order that I listened to them:

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Offworld is Boing Boing's spin-off video gaming blog. It's relatively new, and so far it's been just as good as Boing Boing. They cover everything from mainstream gaming to indie games, and gaming culture.

It's where I found out about 8-Bit Jesus. It's also the first place I found out about Scribblenauts. One of the most ambitious and exciting games I've seen for the DS. If they pull it off it could be infinitely replayable and fun.

The trailer gives a brief, but tantalizing glimpse at the possibilities:

8-Bit Jesus

8-Bit Jesus is an awesome chiptune Christmas album that contains classic carols done in the style of classic 8-bit games. Super Jingle Bros., for example.
And the best part is: it's free!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Do-It-Yourself Holiday Tip #87

Winter scarves are great for holding ice packs on your whiplash injuries.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

These Vines Are Infested With Scorpions!

I first heard NYC Playwright, Edgar Oliver, on the amazing storytelling podcast, The Moth. I don't know much about him except that I could listen to him speak forever. He has a voice that is very unique, and listening to him is like giving your ear drums a delicate massage.

Here he is telling a story about his youth and reading a hauntingly beautiful poem:

Friday, December 05, 2008


The new xkcd strip This is yet another example of why this is one of the best comics anywhere.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Nostalgia Overload

I felt like rediscovering some of my favorite childhood television programs. Some are pretty obvious, but I'd almost forgotten about a few of these. I've focused on some of the odder shows, skipping favorites like Chip And Dale's Rescue Rangers or Tail Spin (or pretty much anything that Disney made in the 80's and 90's).

I've listed them in the order that they originally premiered:

Bonus - My favorite recurring segment (besides Mathnet) on Square One Television:

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Rack

Stephen introduced me to The Rack, a webcomic about comic books and people who read said comic books. A recent strip sums up my reaction to the new Watchmen movie trailer.

Filling The Void

Well, it looks like Pushing Daisies is officially dead. And no amount of magic touching will bring it back. Once again one of television's best and brightest gems is being tossed into the trash heap of history.

I've compiled a list of possible replacements for the coveted post-Lost time slot. May they fare better...

1. Hospital Town
Two young surgeons, John and Jane, fight for dominance in the E.R. One of them is cute, the other one sexy - but they're all professional. When they're not having sex at every opportunity, that is.

2. Police People
Tempers flare at an inner city police precinct when it's discovered that recent recruit, Stanley, is bi-curious. The rugged, and often sexy, chief of police will have to battle his inner bigot after Stanley saves his life from Somali pirates.

3. Law Firm
Holy shit! Court rooms!

4. Reality Contest
Watch ten assholes you would never associate with in public humiliate themselves again and again for the chance to appear in next week's episode. Snakes!

5. Validation
Our charming host tells the viewing audience how smart and kind they are, for forty-five minutes.

6. Loster
No one gives a shit what's on after Lost anyway, right? So why not more Lost? In each episode of Loster you get to see the events of the preceding episode of Lost...through the perspective of Jacob, the surly cabin spirit. Hint: he doesn't know what the hell is happening either.


Ext. Denton's Drive-Thru - Day.

ME: Hello, I'd like a number one combo.

DENTON'S EMPLOYEE: Would you like everything on that?

ME: Yes.

DENTON'S EMPLOYEE: What would you like to drink?

ME: A strawberry smoothie.

Smoke begins billowing out from the hood of my car.

DENTON'S EMPLOYEE: Sir, is your car okay?

ME: I'm...not sure.

DENTON'S EMPLOYEE: Because there's smoke coming out of it. Like, a lot of smoke.

ME: Yeah...

DENTON'S EMPLOYEE: Okay, your total comes to six twenty-two.

ME: Thanks!

Five minutes later:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Favorable Review

The KCS performance of "The Armed Man" on Saturday was reviewed in the News Sentinel. It's a bit odd, but very positive.

I wasn't able to attend the Prop 8 protest due to rehearsal getting out later than I anticipated. Otherwise everything else last weekend went off without a hitch. It was a great week.

On to the holidays...

The day after Thanksgiving I go into work at 4:15 AM. I get off at 1:00 and have to be downtown to sing at the tree lighting ceremony at 5:30. That's going to be a long day. And the next day at work isn't going to be any easier. This is that fun time of year that always sneaks up on you.

This Sunday I'll be caroling with members of the chamber chorale at West Town Mall. I think that's around 2:30 if you want to stop by and see us.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Quantum Of Solace

While it's not as good as Casino Royale, this is definitely a worthy predecessor. The action mostly consists of chase scenes of one variety or another. The editing of these scenes is frustrating at times. There are so many tight shots and quick cuts - often to parallel events happening elsewhere, like a horse race or opera - that it can be difficult to follow at times. There are still some great moments, especially when the chasing stops and the fighting begins.

There's not as much sex in this one as some of the previous Bond films, but I guess that makes sense considering this Bond is in mourning. It's an interesting take on Bond, but it will be nice to see him moving on in the next one. The two Bond girls are appropriately gorgeous, and both of them serve the story very well in their own ways.

The villain is probably the weakest link. He's just not very memorable in a "Bond villain" kind of way. It would have been nice if they gave him some kind of interesting quirk to set him apart. Unless shrieking and swinging an axe around counts as a quirk.

If you're a fan of James Bond, then this movie is very much worth your time. And for some people it will be worth seeing for the Star Trek teaser alone. Very tasty.

Friday, November 14, 2008

New Watchmen Trailer

I look forward to this with extreme apprehension. The comedian looks great. Everything else...

Doctor Manhattan looks great until he starts talking. That voice just doesn't match at all. He is such an otherworldly character, hearing some regular dude's voice coming out of him is just strange. Also, Rorschach has Christian Bale's Batman voice apparently. It's not terrible, but considering how central his character is to the movie it could get old real fast.

The visuals look crisp. But everything almost looks too good. It seems to lack the grittiness of the comic. I have some other minor quibbles, but this movie is really going to sink or swim on the story adaptation. I'm trying to remain neutral. I'm just not sure if a good adaptation is possible.

Sigur Rós - "Glósóli"

One of my favorite videos ever. Absolutely transcendent.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Keeping Busy

The things I'm trying to fit into the next few days keep piling on.

Tomorrow night I'm going to see the UT Opera production of Street Scene.

On Saturday I've got choral rehearsal in the morning. Then I'm going to try to swing by the Prop 8 protest at the World's Fair Park since I'll already be downtown (got an email alert about this tonight). After that is the movie meetup group (movie not yet chosen). And the KCS performance at 8:00.

Sunday I'm going to Allison's senior recital at Carson-Newman. Heading straight from there to Gatlinburg where I've got the time share for two nights.

Then it's back to work as Thanksgiving weekend (and Black Friday) draws nigh. I can't believe November is almost halfway over.

The second Rigoletto rehearsal was this evening. Have you heard this stuff? Some of it is like the fastest tongue twister ever, set to music. How many vowels can you cram onto one eighth note, seriously? It's going to come together, and it's going to be good. But this is one hell of a show for a first timer.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Armed Man - A Mass For Peace

My concert with the Knoxville Choral Society is this Saturday at 8:00.

This is the man who composed the music:

If that doesn't make you want to attend, then perhaps nothing will.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Get Your War On: New World Order

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at

Leftover Political Stuff

While catching up on some friend's blogs I came across this video. It's a bit late now, but I love it.

I can't believe I didn't see this before. I particularly like John McCain as Javert, and Palin as Thénardiers.

Thanks, Steven.

Tropic Thunder

Man, was this over-hyped or what? Very entertaining, but not nearly as funny as I'd been led to expect. Tom Cruise was more of a gimmick than actually funny. The "Simple Jack" schtick was funny the first time and then overused into the ground. I really wish that hadn't been such a large part of the story.

Anyway, on to the good. Robert Downey Jr. was fantastic. I was worried that they showed all of his good stuff in the trailer, but he gives a damn good performance. Jack Black is given some great stuff to do (particularly the bat scene). There's a great twist with Steve Coogan. Nick Nolte is great at the beginning as the most hardened Vietnam vet of all time. The movie looks good, it's very well produced. Great soundtrack.

You probably all saw this before me, but if you haven't I recommend it. It's a good time.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Current Events Explained In Movies

There are a lot of mixed emotions about the presidential election, and it can be difficult to sort everything out. How should we feel about the outcome exactly? The magic of Hollywood can give us insight into this very complicated issue.

The far right reaction:

The moderate reaction:

Everyone else:

Yub nub, baby.

Presidential has some incredible pictures of Barack Obama in their The Big Picture feature:

Go look at them full sized and be awed.

Looking Forward

McCain gave a wonderful concession speech last night. Which was frequently interrupted by choruses of boos. While he talked about reuniting the country, many jeered. Not at him, but at the very idea of That One winning the election.

This was just another sign of how his own campaign had gotten out of his control. It's no wonder his supporters were unable to share his humility and acceptance. After all, he'd spent the better half of the last year driving a wedge between people. Allowing labels like "terrorist" and "Muslim extremist" and "socialist" to be tossed about willy-nilly, with no regard of the negative effect that has on the entire country, not just his opponent.

So if you're feeling a bit sore about this turn of events, keep in mind that the election was won by a man who inspires his nation with a promise of a better future. He inspires the world, which wants to believe that America will once again be a beacon of hope, and not the cynical fearful giant it has been.

Obama didn't run a negative-free campaign, I understand. No one seems to be able to stay squeaky clean the whole way through in this game. But he was certainly the least negative. Never did Obama call his opponent's patriotism, heroism, or faith into question. McCain's campaign can not claim the same (how's that for a rhyme scheme?).

Let no one say that the candidate who stood for hope and optimism did not win. So if Obama wasn't your candidate, I urge you to think long and hard about what he means to the majority that elected him. Then you can continue to be negative if you want. And if that's the case, then it's clear why Obama wasn't your guy.

And to all of you who feel like leaving the country, please let me know if there's anything I can do to make your move easier.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Election Porn

You can keep your Nailin' Paylin.

Actually, completely SFW:
See more Natalie Portman videos at Funny or Die

The Most Important Thing
That Will Happen This Week

I don't pretend to know squat about the sports. But being a Knoxvillian, there are two mighty shadows one must live under: Neyland Stadium and the McRib religion (although some don't separate the two).

I've been listening to Vols fans carry on about Fulmer for years now, and looks like they've finally gotten their wish. Contratulations. Flag poles across the city are being extended today so flags can fly at fuller mast.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Are You Watching Pushing Daisies Yet?

If you're not watching the best show on television, io9 gives a quick rundown on why you should.

"Welcome To Magical Realism That's Both Magical And Real.
Unlike Heroes, Ned's superpower is unique... and grounded in a reality that isn't rewritten to fit the plot of the week. It's not just that there are very definite rules to what happens when Ned brings someone back to life - and with the show's backstory based around those rules, they're unlikely to change when someone decides that they'd like to keep the undead around for more than a minute - but also that we've been shown what happens when those rules are forgotten or ignored. Even outside of Ned's abilities, however, the show's reality is one that recalls Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, both in terms of wonder and awe and... well, cruel cynicism at how the world really works. We discover a company that rents friends to social outcasts, only to find out that it's been created by a former nerd who killed and stuffed his jock tormentor so that he wouldn't feel so alone, or corpses being disguised as crash test dummies in the laboratory of the factory of a car that runs entirely on Dandelions. The spirit of Roald Dahl is alive in this series, something that's weirdly accentuated by the use of Jim Dale as an ominpresent narrator with a penchant for explaining everything through the use of puns. And talking of the cast..."

Read the rest.

The Guy In China

And the award for What The Fuck Happened To You?! goes to ex SNL cast member, Victoria Jackson:

She was less of a brain dead bimbo when she was playing brain dead bimbos on television. Good god. Every sentence she utters is progressively dumber and also enhances the stupidity of the one before it. She's like a genius of idiocy.


This is a week overdue, but I kept forgetting about it. W. was pretty disappointing.

Josh Brolin and Richard Dreyfuss both turned in really good performances. So did Ellen Burstyn and James Cromwell (though Cromwell was the least like his real life counterpart, in my opinion).

Parts of the movie were funny, with George generally acting like an idiot. But it probably wasn't as funny as it could have been. For one, some of it's just too painful to laugh at right now. George W. would probably be a more likable bumbling boob if he hadn't screwed things up as much as he has. With that said, the movie probably would have worked better if it had gone straight for satire. Thandie Newton's performance suggests she thought that's what the movie was going for.

Surprisingly for an Oliver Stone movie, W. is mostly non-political, focusing on the personal story. With the exception of one scene where Cheney lays out his plan for controlling Iraq's oil and admitting that once we enter the country we're there for good.

I'll give the movie credit for humanizing George W. Bush while at the same time emphasizing some of the things that made him such a lousy leader. But I think ultimately it would have been better to make this movie several years from now, when we all have a little more distance and perspective.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Where The Summer Ends

You probably haven't heard of Knoxville author Karl Edward Wagner. He has slipped into obscurity except for serious devotees of pulp fantasy and science fiction. I certainly hadn't heard of him until I was introduced to an old friend of his, John Mayer. John keeps Wagner's memory alive across the internets.

Here is his reading of Wagner's short horror story, "Where The Summer Ends". The people and locations are based on actual people and locations around Knoxville. And folks from this area will certainly recognize a certain local vegetation that serves as a central device of the story. It's an excellent reading, and a wonderful classic tale of horror.

It's in the range of 45 minutes, so make sure you have the time before you start. And turn the lights out.

You can read more about Wagner as told by John Mayer, here.

The Conqueror Worm

Here's one of my favorite jazz vocalists, Ken Nordine, reading Poe's "The Conqueror Worm".

From the album Closed On Account Of Rabies.

Friday, October 24, 2008

What Nat Saw

I've been a fan of artist Brandon Bird for a couple years now. His whimsical pairings of pop culture figures and childhood memories make me smile.

There's a lot to love. He has an entire series devoted to Edward Norton, aptly named The Norton Anthology. And then there's this. But my new favorite combines two of my greatest loves:

Please don't cry, Natalie. I'm here.

Opie For Obama

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

El Perro Del Mar - "Glory To The World"

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Underrated Movies: The New World

I thought the trailer for The New World looked fantastic when I first saw it. The only other movie by Terrence Malick I had seen was The Thin Red Line, which I didn't like. And enough people told me not to see The New World when it came out, so I wound up skipping it. That was a mistake.

I finally caught New World on HBO about a year later, and I fell in love with it. It is very similar in style to Thin Red Line, so I was surprised at how much more I liked it. Neither movie has a driving plot, relying instead on a series of moments that are content simply to exist on their own. While I found this annoying in Thin Red Line, it gave New World a real sense of immediacy.

I can honestly say I've never really seen a film like this. Malick's unconventional script avoids dialogue in many scenes, choosing instead to use character monologues as narration. Colin Ferrel doesn't even speak for at least fifteen minutes into the film, only staring or nodding in response to others. But none of this ever feels forced. Malick is able to effectively accomplish things in this movie that would feel overbearing, or just plain cheesy, in most other directors' hands.

The movie is essentially the familiar story of Pocahontas, although she's never referred to by name (yet another detail that could have been awkward if not handled so carefully). Anyone with a basic knowledge of history already knows what happens in the movie. Smith is captured by the Powhatans, Pocahontas comes to his rescue, the two romance, but she ultimately marries John Rolfe and moves to England.

The first three quarters of the movie take place in the unspoiled natural environments of the New World. Malick's camera relishes every moment, lingering on running water or trees rustling in the wind. It captures a sense of serenity that I think has only been matched in the various films of Hayao Miyazaki.

At the end of the film when Pocahontas is taken to England (the other New World), the contrast is severe. The movie is stripped of its color, and there are profound scenes of "naturals" walking through unnatural environments. It's a bizarre world with enormous structures and meticulously sculpted gardens (even nature is made unnatural here).

I love the sense of newness this movie conveys with each side discovering the other. And also the profound sense of loss. It's hard not to watch this movie without a twinge of sadness. We, unlike the characters in the film, know how the clash between the Native Americans and European settlers will eventually turn out. The movie only hints at this, however.

What The New World does so well is avoid the This Is An Important Moment In History style of storytelling that historical epics so often rely on. As Ebert puts it in his review, "The events in his film, including the tragic battles between the Indians and the settlers, seem to be happening for the first time. No one here has read a history book from the future." And this is what makes it so refreshing.

A new extended edition has just been released on DVD, taking the film from 135 minutes to about 170. I hear it's really good and can't wait to see it. But I'd recommend picking up the shorter one first, if you haven't seen it yet.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Must. Own. Book.

Abc3D - video powered by Metacafe

This is beautiful design, and cheap!

[via Boing Boing]

Good News, Everyone!

I've just been invited to sing in the male chorus for Rigoletto, the Knoxville Opera's first full production of the season! Whooooo!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

I love Michael Cera. Everything from Arrested Development to Superbad and his various online shorts. I thought that might be enough to make this movie somewhat entertaining. Nope.

Nick and Norah is a dull, dull movie. Almost none of the humor hits. Michael Cera is given nothing to work with, as if the screenwriters were solely relying on his trademark awkwardness to get by. The female lead (Kat Dennings from 40-Year-Old Virgin), while good, is also given nothing to do except awkwardly try to connect with Cera's character. There is never any believable connection.

When they finally do wind up together, it seems it's more because their other options are so terrible rather than any true attraction the two of them share. There just isn't any chemistry. The only reason we're ever given for her attraction to him is that she really likes the mix CD's he made for his ex-girlfriend.

Every character in the movie is so two-dimensional that every moment is like watching boring people talk about how bored they are. There are three gay characters (friends and band mates of Cera's) that only exist to provide the diminishing recurring joke of coming up with a new name for their gaycore band. In what was probably an effort by the screenwriters to avoid gay character cliches, the characters are so stripped of personality that they are practically invisible. And they're still cliches. Go figure.

This also has to be the most uncomfortable I've ever been in a PG-13 movie. Part of this is because I watched it with my parents, true. But what other PG-13 movie contains a scene in which a creepy homeless man asks the lead character if he's ever done it with a dog? Also contained in the movie: a character that spends the entire movie drunk and puking, never-ending frank sexual discussions among teenagers, and a subplot about the lead girl having her first orgasm as Cera fingers her on a couch (discretely off screen, but entirely audible). Come on! It just makes me feel old that it bothered me at all.

I can't really think of anyone I could recommend this movie to. But the 15-year-old girls sitting behind us seemed to like it. Idiots.

Truthful TV Title Cards

Someone took the title cards from today's popular tv series and made them all truthy. Here's my favorite (and the most accurate):

View the rest at Glark.

[via Defamer]

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Frightening Prospect

Just in time for Halloween, here's a fun political poster:

It reminds me of that Alex Ross t-shirt I posted recently. Here's the image again:

If you look carefully in episode 4 of HBO's True Blood, that image is seen in poster form behind the vampire bartender.

[from Laughing Squid]

Green Day - "Walking Contradiction"

I've liked Green Day since Dookie. And I've enjoyed each album since then to some degree. This is my favorite video of theirs, and one of the videos that most stands out in my mind from the 90's.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

New Blog

I've started another blog. It's about robots. I hope to update it frequently without neglecting this one.

Our Robot Masters

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

World Of Goo

World Of Goo was released on the WiiWare channel yesterday. If you have a Wii do yourself a favor and download it. It's one of the most entertaining and original puzzle games I've ever played. Like all great puzzle games, the concept is simple but the execution can sometimes be infuriatingly complicated.

It involves building structures out of goo balls to reach the exit, while avoiding various obstacles. Each new level adds some surprising new element that fills one with delight (or is that goo? It's probably goo).

The games visuals are simple, but full of character. And the soundtrack is excellent. The whole package is so well put together I can't believe it was developed by an indie publisher consisting of three guys. This is probably the best game to come out on WiiWare so far.

Here's a trailer:

Here's a few of reviews: 1, 2, 3

Or you can skip those and buy it. Buy it.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor

Yeah, I saw it.

I'm not a fan of the Mummy series. I went into the first one expecting an exciting adventure/horror film. I got camp instead. If you like camp, that's great, but it's not my thing.

I heard enough positive talk about the third movie to give it a chance. It promised to be so utterly ridiculous and over the top that you couldn't help but enjoy it. And it was ridiculous, but not nearly enough to cover up it's flaws.

The biggest problem I have with the movie is Brendan Fraser. I just don't find him compelling at all. He's the action hero equivalent of boiled cabbage. There's just not much to him. A large subplot in the movie is about Fraser trying to reconnect with his son, but it all falls flat because you don't care about anyone involved.

Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh both manage to inject some dignity into their roles. But neither of them are given too much to work with. Li spends most of his time being upstaged by several different CGI stand-ins. When is America going to learn that he is more than a martial arts star? This guy can act, but he's rarely given a chance to outside of China. The Mummy villains have always been about technology before character, though. So I guess I shouldn't have been surprised.

The most delightfully wacky element of the movie is the scene where the Yetis show up. It's stupid and the movie is self-aware enough to know how stupid it is. But after half a movie of business as usual, a handful of Yetis thrown in for no reason did add some much needed amusement. It turns a little sour toward the end when one of the Yetis inexplicably makes a football reference (he kicks an evil Chinese soldier over an arch, then holds his hands up in a touchdown pose). Maybe the Yetis get really good television reception up there in the Himalayas, I don't know.

Ultimately, this movie is as forgettable as the first two. If flashy special effects and hollow stock characters are enough to float your boat, than this is a worthy distraction.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Paper Faces On Parade

I will be performing in the opera chorus on Nov. 1 for the Knoxville Opera's Halloween Spectacular. We'll be performing selections from Sweeney Todd, Phantom of the Opera, and Mefistofele. It is a costume ball, so you'd need to suit up if you want to come. The theme is orange and black.

Tickets start out around $25. There's more info about it here.

Hope some of you can make it. I think it will be a lot of fun.

Update: apparently tickets are even cheaper for students. Like fifteen bucks, or something.

Gary Shandling On Real Time

This week's episode of Real Time had a lot of good moments, but Gary Shandling's comment about Biden preparing for the debate had me rolling. It comes in around the 4:05 mark.

The Streets - "Everything Is Borrowed"

I'm a big fan of The Streets. The new album is excellent. I like the simple story in this video. It's definitely not your average hip hop track.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Scientists have used jellyfish genes to make kittens (and other animals) glow in the dark. I demand these be made available to the public immediately.

[from io9]

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


I'm a big fan of tilt-shift photography and video. If you're not aware, tilt-shift is a focusing technique that makes real life images look like miniature scale models.

There was some great tilt-shift video on the fourth issue of Wholphin.

Another director has combined tilt-shift with time-lapse photography. It gives the added illusion that the images are stop motion animations.

Bathtub II from Keith Loutit on Vimeo.

[from Laughing Squid]

The Cure For Those Summertime Debate Blues

I can't imagine any of the undecided voters in America would have been won to McCain's side by tonight's debate. McCain paced the stage like he was looking for the microphone (hint: it's in your hand, Johnny). Obama, as always, was the calm voice of reason.

I had a hard time staying focused on the debate, since there was really nothing new to learn. It really just made me want to watch this again:

Lincoln Smash!

Needing to take a break from politics I thought I'd write a little about video games. They've been under-represented here lately.

This comes out this week:

Pure joy for fans of the old school Sam & Max game for PC.

Also, if you have a Wii I hope you've been checking out the WiiWare store lately. There had been a dirth of real quality games on the service since the launch. But suddenly the last few weeks have exploded with good stuff.

Most recently Bomberman Blast and Megaman 9 have added some fantastic retro flavor. Bomberman Blast is particularly exciting since you can play online against up to 7 opponents. Also, the first two episodes of Strong Bad's game are available, and the third should be out sometime this month. I also picked up Groovin' Blocks a unique take on the falling blocks puzzle genre in which you try to clear blocks to the rhythm of the music. It's challenging, and the electronic music is good.

There are some exciting games on the horizon. I'm most looking forward to MaBoShi (although I'm not even sure there's going to be an American release for this one), World of Goo, Tetris Party (more online action), and Cave Story.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Welfare Whities


The best thing about going to see Religulous was that it was screening directly across the lobby from An American Carol (a movie that promises to be just as funny as The Half Hour News Hour, only extended to an actual hour and a half). The movies started at the same time, meaning both crowds milled in the lobby beforehand (lefties to the left, right wingers to the right). And they let out at the exact same time, so we got to look the other side in the eye as we left. Unfortunately no ideological fights broke out. It would have been a good story.

As for the movie itself, Religulous is generally entertaining. Bill Maher questions and/or mocks the major western religions for a while before spouting a heavy handed monologue about how religion will ultimately destroy us. The monologue is the most effective part of the movie, but it's a huge change in tone from the rest of the (mostly) non-serious material.

Sometimes Maher's tone in the individual interviews switches from genuine curiosity to out-and-out mocking which makes me a tad uncomfortable. He's certainly not going to convert any religious people with this film. It's strictly preaching to the choir.

Most of the movie consists of segments about quirky religious people and places. The Creationist Museum, The Holy Land amusement park in Orlando (where the torture and crucifixion of Jesus is set to Broadway-like musical numbers), or a lab in Israel that invents clever machines to circumnavigate God's rules on the Sabbath. None of it is exactly revelatory. Anyone who has an inkling about religion knows about these things already. The most fascinating moments are when the religious figures Maher interviews get caught up in the logical barriers of having to justify their beliefs. Now, some of the people just aren't very intelligent (a U.S. Senator), and one television evangelist attributes teachings of Christ that are nowhere to be found in the bible to justify his lavish attire. But even the scholars who clearly know what they're talking about at some point have to make a break from that intellect to explain their faith. It's baffling to watch.

I really enjoyed the movie. I think, like a Michael Moore movie, it's a bit too biased to be considered an effective documentary. Still, I'm encouraged that a movie with this subject matter came out in America. And even more so that there were no protests outside the theater, and that the sizable crowd in attendance reacted positively, even applauding at the end.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Pushing Daisies

Holly thankfully reminded me that Pushing Daisies' second season premiers tonight.
If you missed the writer's-strike-shortened first season than you missed the best new show on television. It's the perfect blend of dark comedy, whimsy, and absurdity. Also, it stars Lee Pace who was incredible in The Fall earlier this year. The rest of the ensemble cast is equally good, and they have great guest appearances from the likes of Paul Reubens and Molly Shannon.

It also features great musical numbers like this adaptation of They Might Be Giants' "Birdhouse In Your Soul":

Do yourself a favor and watch it. You'll be hooked instantly.


I got bored with the First And Ten entries (especially the name), so here is the same idea pared down and freshly named, Shuffleupagus. Or Shuffy for short.

1. They Might Be Giants - "Vestibule", Cast Your Pod To The Wind

Cast Your Pod was a great bonus disc included with TMBG's latest album, The Else. It is a collection of various B-Sides created for - or featured exclusively in - their podcast. "Vestibule" was in podcast 21A. The video is not of the same recording, but it does feature musical robots!

2. U2 - "Sweetest Thing", The Best Of 1980-1990

The nicest thing about this popping up in the shuffle is that somehow I've never seen this video before. I like it, but Bono's silent mugging performance is weird even for Bono. These were the end of U2's glory days.

3. The Seatbelts/Yoko Kanno - "MUSAWE", Cowboy Bebop OST 5 - Future Blues

Cowboy Bebop will always hold a special place in my heart. It's the first anime series I absolutely fell in love with. It also spawned an incredible collection of music by composer Yoko Kanno. This album features music from the Cowboy Bebop movie. This particular song isn't one of my favorites, but it is a good example of the series' fusion of world sounds.

4. Ween - "Moving Away", The Pod

Burned this from a friend. I appreciate the oddness of the album, but I haven't listened to it all that much. I liked it enough to hold on to it for this long, I suppose. I don't have feelings for the band one way or another. It's just one of those odd bits that pops up from time to time.

5. Kenna - "Sunday After You", New Sacred Cow

I like this album a lot. "Hell Bent" is one of those songs that I could listen to a million times. "Sunday After You" is one of the album's more upbeat songs, but it still has that spacey, late-night-in-the-city vibe. This video is, surprisingly, the best version of the song on YouTube. The drums are overbearing, but you can get the gist of the song if you're not already familiar with it.