Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy In Paraguay

Star Trek dubbed with nonsense dialog that matches lip movements = hilarious.

[via Geekologie]

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Om Nom Nom: Origins

Perhaps the most important educational documentary I've seen in recent times:

[via Boing Boing]

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

My November albums:

1. Steel Panther - Feel the Steel
2. El Perro Del Mar - Love Is Not Pop
3. Sunset Rubdown - Sunset Rubdown EP
4. Life Without Buildings - Any Other City
5. Tor/Sufjan Stevens - Illinoize
6. John Vanderslice - Emerald City
7. Ne-Yo - Year of the Gentleman
8. Sam Roberts - Chemical City
9. Dennis Diken - Late Music
10. R.E.M. - Live At The Olympia
11. Earthless - Rhythms From A Cosmic Sky
12. Mastodon - Leviathan
13. Amon Amarth - Twilight Of The Thunder God
14. Sleep - Dopesmoker
15. Blut aus Nord - The Work Which Transforms God
16. Opeth - Watershed
17. Baroness - Blue Record

Metal albums discovered here.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Symphony Of Science - "Our Place In The Cosmos"

Symphony of Science is back with another outstanding geeky auto-tuned gem. Once again, Carl Sagan takes the lead, proving he is still modern science's greatest poet. But he's getting terrific backup on the hook from Richard Dawkins!

"A Glorious Dawn"
"We Are All Connected"

Just discovered the 7" vinyl of "A Glorious Dawn". The album's B side is "An etched reproduction of The Voyager Golden Record".
Only six dollars? Hell. Yes.

[via Geekologie]

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Fabulous World Of Jules Verne

I discovered the delightful trailer for The Fabulous World of Jules Verne while watching the DVD 42nd Street Forever 5 with my friend, Dr. Lao. I immediately wanted to go out and find a copy of the film.

Fabulous World is a 1958 Czech film based on the Jules Verne book, Facing The Flag. What makes the movie so cool is its gorgeous production design and stop motion animation. Everything in the movie is made to look like old fashioned engraving illustrations like those found in the original editions of Verne's book. And the live action, animation, and other special effects are meticulously integrated.

You can watch the entire movie in pieces on YouTube, but the quality of the print is pretty lousy and you don't get to see a lot of the detail that went into it (the trailer found on 42nd Street Forever is much better looking). It's a great example of how innovative filmmakers could be on a tight budget, and long before CGI became available.

This movie is begging for a restoration. And with the popularity of steampunk these days it wouldn't even be that hard to market. Here's hoping someone will pull this out of obscurity and put it on DVD or Blu-Ray where it belongs (ahem, Criterion).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Al Roker Gets His Nub Yubbed

On October 30th, the entire cast of the Today Show got into the Halloween spirit by dressing like characters from Star Wars. They even hired extras to play characters like the Ewoks featured in this clip. Maybe you should have a better screening process for extras when you have a live broadcast...

That Ewok is my new hero.

[via Geekologie]

Monday, November 09, 2009

Beer + Clam Juice...Oh, It's Happening

Introducing the Chelada, an unholy concoction of Budweiser and Clamato. They might as well have called it Cthulada, and slapped an image of ten thousand tormented, wailing souls on the label.

[via Laughing Squid]

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Paranormal Activity

I saw The Blair Witch Project way after all the hype had died down, and was completely underwhelmed. Paranormal Acitivty wasn't very high on my radar for this reason. Generally when something starts to get hyped as the SCARIEST MOVIE EVER, I tend to tune out. But I ended up going, and was fairly surprised.

I found Paranormal Acitivity to be a pretty successful attempt at the faux documentary style. And it was genuinely scary (something which Blair Witch was not), and gradually built the scares up in a very effective way.

There are a lot of familiar elements at play, including characters that are so thick headed you want to throttle them. There are a lot of don't-investigate-the-creepy-sound! moments, but at least the stubbornness feels like a character trait rather than poor writing like it does in lesser horror films.

There are some very startling and disturbing moments, and everything is heightened by the convincingly natural performances. This should become a classic rental or purchase for people looking to creep themselves and their friends out.

Where The Wild Things Are

I really enjoyed Where The Wild Things Are, but wasn't blown away by it. I loved the style of it. The special effects were very impressive (props to the Jim Henson Company, and the CGI crew).

I always appreciate kids movies that aren't afraid to have real emotion, or be scary occasionally. Some of my favorites growing up were movies that terrified me in certain parts, like The Dark Crystal and The Secret of NIMH. Wild Things has a lot of serious stuff going on. It really captures the range of conflicting emotions that young children have to deal with. And splitting those different emotions into the different characters of the Wild Things was really clever.

There was also enough quirky humor to keep things from getting too bogged down in angst and grief. Bob and Terry were a particular highlight.

Great performances, direction, soundtrack...All around terrific movie. The only thing that kept it from being a classic for me was the general lack of story. But it's hard to fault it for that since it already has more story than the book. It's hard to create conflict in a movie without real villains. But it's still a great adaptation.

Carl Sagan Day

"Those afraid of the universe as it really is, those who pretend to nonexistent knowledge and envision a Cosmos centered on human beings will prefer the fleeting comforts of superstition. They avoid rather than confront the world. But those with the courage to explore the weave and structure of the Cosmos, even where it differs profoundly from their wishes and prejudices, will penetrate its deepest mysteries."

Today is the first annual Carl Sagan Day. We all know that he sounds good auto-tuned (if not a little bit like Kermit the Frog). But his voice and words are beautiful enough without manipulation. Take this brief ode to our planet:

Sagan's gift, more than anyone else I'm aware of, was in highlighting the beauty of science and nature. His ability to see the whole of mankind's history and future in a single blurry snapshot of a pinpoint in space is startling.

The fantastic radio series/podcast, Radiolab, featured the following story on their episode entitled "Space". It perfectly illustrates Carl Sagan, the scientist and the romantic.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

My new music from October:

1. Dead Man's Bones - Dead Man's Bones
2. Death Cab For Cutie - Narrow Stairs
3. The Divine Comedy - A Secret History
4. The Feelies - Crazy Rhythms
5. Flight of the Conchords - I Told You I Was Freaky
6. Lil B - Based Blunts Vol. 1
7. Mika - The Boy Who Knew Too Much
8. Mojo Nixon - Bo-Day-Shus!!!
9. Mojo Nixon - Frenzy
10. Mojo Nixon - Gadzooks!!! The Homemade Bootleg
11. Mojo Nixon - Mojo & Skid
12. Mojo Nixon - Otis
13. Mojo Nixon - Root Hog Or Die
14. Mojo Nixon - Whereabouts Unknown
15. Mojo Nixon - Whiskey Rebellion
16. The Mountain Goats & John Vanderslice - Moon Colony Bloodbath
17. The Mountain Goats & Kaki King - Black Pear Tree
18. Muse - The Resistance
19. Music Go Music - Expressions
20. Roy Orbison - The Very Best Of Roy Orbison
21. Sufjan Stevens - The BQE
22. Tegan & Sara - Sainthood
23. Uri Caine Ensemble - Wagner e Venezia
24. The Very Best - Warm Heart Of Africa
25. Yo La Tengo - Popular Songs

Fuzzy Wuzzy Was A Bear...

Bears look weird without fur, apparently:

[via Boing Boing]


Illinoize is a very tasty mash-up album of Sufjan Stevens songs with various hip-hop artists, including Outkast, Aesop Rock, Brother Ali, and Gift Of Gab (of Blackalicious). Oh my yes.

[via A.V. Club]

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Michael Moschen

Remember that cool crystal ball trick Jareth did with his hands in Labyrinth? Michael Moschen was the juggler behind that wonderful image. Here's a video where he makes that trick look like child's play:

[via Laughing Squid]

xkcd - Movie Narrative Charts

The latest xkcd strip is both an exercise of supreme geekery, and a wonderful work of art. Click for the largeness.

I want a posterized version NOW.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I've Been JibJabbed In The Back!

Leslie posted this sweet video on Facebook. It's the the must-see Halloween movie of the year!
Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Now You Know...

G.I. Joe: Resolute, the awesome animated miniseries written by Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan, FreakAngels), is coming out on DVD next month. This brief trailer shows the proper way to update the beloved franchise (hint: it doesn't involve power suits):

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Symphony Of Science - "We Are All Connected"

Another awesome auto-tuned science track from the people who made "A Glorious Dawn", featuring Carl Sagan and others:

I don't think the hook is quite as catchy as the first one, but I really hope they keep making more of these. I can't get enough!

Thursday, October 15, 2009


There is an aspect of zombie stories that is about wish fulfillment rather than horror. It's fantasy for people who like to imagine the complications of life being stripped down to its basic elements, where the rules no longer apply. Or in the case of Zombieland, have simply been replaced with a different set of all important rules.

Zombieland is another zombie comedy, but one that sets itself apart from previous ones like Shaun Of The Dead. Whereas Shaun is often about paying homage to classic zombie movies, Zombieland takes the zombie concept and just goes to town with all the wish fulfillment stuff. While the characters are often in peril, they don't spend most of their time cowering or running away. Rather, they seem to make the most of things. A huge section of the plot revolves around two of the characters making their way toward their favorite amusement park. Because if the world has ended you may as well ride a roller coaster or two.

And everyone seems to enjoy killing zombies for the most part. They even keep track of who had the best "Kill of the Week". Zombieland is generally an apocalyptic movie for optimists. In this world the geek can get the girl, you can hang out with your favorite celebrity (I won't reveal the amazing cameo, although it's unlikely it hasn't already been ruined for you), and you can smash and loot to your heart's content. The only downside seems to be that there is never a Twinkie around when you need one. Oh, and all your loved ones are dead (but let's not focus on that, shall we?).

Zombieland is an incredibly entertaining film (with a ton of potential sequels, apparently). I'm a huge zombie fan, and it's great to see such a fun, original take on things.

Lincoln Shot First

I effing love this shirt:

More wonderfully geeky shirts at TopatoCo.

[via io9]

Friday, October 09, 2009

You Don't Mess Around With God's America

Today NASA is gonna punch the moon right in its stupid moon face. That'll show it who's boss. Here's a fairly accurate representation of how it all went down:

Finally, science is beginning to live up to its potential.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

My new music from September:

1. Voltaire - The Devil's Bris
2. The Non-Commissioned Officers - MAKE-OUT with VIOLENCE OST
3. The Octopus Project - Hello Avalanche
4. ArcAttack - Live in Abu Dhabi
5. Makeup And Vanity Set - Presents... The Protomen
6. Voltaire - Banned On Vulcan!
7. They Might Be Giants - Here Comes Science
8. I Come to Shanghai - I Come to Shanghai
9. Nellie McKay - Rumor Has It
10. Loudon Wainwright III - High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project
11. Voltaire - To the Bottom Of The Sea
12. BLK JKS - After Robots
13. Bjork - Post Live
14. Yat-Kha - tuva.rock
15. Alice Cooper - Billion Dollar Babies
16. The Protomen - Act II: The Father of Death
17. Charles Blandy - WHEELER: The Construction of Boston
18. Voltaire - Live!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Hugh Laurie - "Mystery"

Dani and I watched A Bit Of Fry And Laurie last night. This song by Hugh Laurie was the highlight of the first episode for me:

If you're only used to seeing Laurie as Dr. House, it's pretty amusing to see him doing his earlier comedy work.

Geisha Is...

Cay Izumi, star of ROBOGEISHA, performs a pole dance to "Dirty Diana":

Now that's how you publicize a film.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs was one of my favorite books growing up. When I heard about the film adaptation I was more than a little worried that another piece of my childhood was about to get dragged through the studio muck, stripped of its soul, and stuffed with needless pop culture references. Then I noticed that it wasn't being produced by Dreamworks and my fears ebbed...a little. The trailer revealed my worst fears: the animation looked nothing like the illustrations, and the plot and characters from the book were completely replaced. How could this not suck?

Then along came Keith Phipps' review, which restored a glimmer of hope. I've now seen it, and what can I say - sometimes the studio gets it right.

The movie only vaguely resembles the book, taking the premise and abandoning pretty much everything else. But the new characters and plot are fantastic in their own right. CWACOM is an irreverent, subversive, action-packed celebration of geekery. It's as if the filmmakers made a movie for themselves, and if any kids happened to enjoy it that was fine too.

The story is basically about a geeky kid who grows up to be a nutty inventor (Bill Hader), tinkering away in his elaborate treehouse/laboratory. One day he invents a device that converts water into any food you want, one thing leads to another, and suddenly hot dogs are raining from the sky. Throw in a greedy mayor desperate for tourist dollars, and you have a formula for zany shenanigans. Along the way he teams up with a hyperactive police officer (Mr. T), an amateur weather girl (Anna Faris), and a talking monkey. Bruce Campbell, Neil Patrick Harris, James Caan, Benjamin Bratt, and Andy Samberg are also featured.

There are some very good messages thrown in for the kids about healthy eating, and being true to yourself. But none of it is heavy handed. Mr. T never explicitly tells kids to eat their greens, but the message is there. There are also some great scenes where the inventor encourages the weather girl to be herself after he catches her willfully acting dumb. He even gives her an anti-makeover, having her wear the glasses she usually hides, and putting her hair in a pony tail. I think it's a positive scene for young girls to see, and it's a nod to all the guys in the audience who appreciate geeky girls.

The story is fast paced, and the jokes come with frequency and often hit to some degree. It's one of the funniest movies I've seen all summer, and (dare I say) more entertaining overall than Up. I hope I haven't offended the animation gods by saying that. Both movies garner jokes from animals talking with electronic voice boxes, but CWACOM spreads it's humor out a bit more. There are more characters to enjoy, and the pathos isn't as overwhelming. It's simply more fun. (Again, I bow to Pixar, and all that she has given us. Always.)

I highly recommend this movie to anyone. I would say it's almost more fun for the adults than the kids. Also, I saw it in 3D, which definitely looks marvelous, but probably isn't necessary if you want to save a few bucks.

The Origin Of Stupidity

Mr. Cameron is at it again!

And here is perfectly reasonable response to Mr. Cameron:

[via The Huffington Post]

Sunday, September 20, 2009

District 9

I went in to District 9 with my expectations lowered as much as possible. I thought I would like it, but there was enough uneven feedback to keep me from getting my hopes up too high. It turned out to be one of my favorite movies of the year.

This was an interesting year for science fiction. On one end we had Moon, a heady suspense film about the meaning of individuality and humanity. And then there was Transformers 2, an amazing social experiment to see if large crowds of people would pay to have hot pokers jammed into their skulls for two hours (I'm assuming, since I'm one of the alarming few who didn't). District 9 rests comfortably in between, with a fortunate lean toward the Moon side of the spectrum. It's an action movie, but it's also got some subtle social commentary layered throughout.

I don't want to give too much away, because I believe going into it with less knowledge of the plot is better. But it is basically the story of a man who gets caught up in a predicament with aliens stranded in South Africa. The story was often surprising, and I was completely absorbed throughout the movie. I really have no complaints about it at all. There was a lot of very intense action, and the special effects were fantastic. Even compared to movies with much larger budgets.

This was easily one of the type five most entertaining movies of the year for me so far.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Cursed Pirate Girl

One of the nice things about Dragon*Con (of which I have yet to post anything about here) is the opportunity to discover new things to obsess over. One of the nicer discoveries I made was the comic Cursed Pirate Girl, by Jeremy Bastian.

His artwork caught my eye as I was perusing the comics artist alley, and I ended up walking away with the first issue. It is an epic fantasy tale of a young privileged girl who befriends another girl who claims to be the daughter of a great pirate. The young pirate girl also has a terrible curse on her, as the title suggests.
The comic is gorgeously illustrated with intricate, detailed line work, that is remarkably drawn at the same scale it is printed at. It's a very old fashioned style that is perfectly suited to the story.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

My August music downloads Part 2, in alphabetical:

1. No Question - Got Game?
2. The Octopus Project - Identification Parade
3. Pink Floyd - The Division Bell
4. The Protomen - The Protomen
5. Shearwater - Rook
6. Simian Mobile Disco - Attack Decay Sustain Release
7. Simian Mobile Disco - Temporary Pleasure
8. Thee Michelle Gun Elephant - Chicken Zombies
9. Thee Michelle Gun Elephant - Gear Blues
10. Thee Michelle Gun Elephant - Sabrina No Heaven
11. Tomoyasu Hotei - AMBIVALENT
12. various artists - Weezer - The 8-bit Album
13. Vieux Farka Toure - Fondo
14. The Weepies - Happiness
15. The Weepies - Hideaway
16. White Rabbits - It's Frightening
17. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz!
18. Yoshida Brothers - Yoshida Brothers II
19. The Young Republic - Recession Special EP
My August music downloads Part 1, in alphabetical:

1. Andrew Bird - Music Of Hair
2. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
3. Bessie Smith - The Essential Bessie Smith
4. The Decemberists - The Hazards of Love
5. Dengue Fever - Venus On Earth
6. The Fugs - First Album
7. The Fugs - The Fugs Second Album
8. The Fugs - Virgin Fugs
9. Gossip - Music for Men
10. How I Became The Bomb - Deadly Art
11. The Ink Spots - Greatest Hits
12. Jim Noir - Jim Noir
13. Joe Hisaishi - Gake no ue no Ponyo OST
14. Loudon Wainwright III - Attempted Mustache
15. Loudon Wainwright III - Recovery
16. Magnetic Fields - The Charm of the Highway Strip
17. Mew - No more stories...
18. Neil Young - Archives Vol. 1

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Eternal Earth-Bound Pets

This wonderful organization of animal loving atheists is dedicated to taking care of the pets left behind by those taken by the rapture. It's a lovely gesture, and I hope to become a member!

[via Boing Boing]

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Inglourious Basterds

I'm a big Tarantino fan. I look forward to everything he does, and haven't disliked one of his movies yet. I've been following the Inglourious Basterds rumors for years, and have been dying to see what he would do with a WWII film. Now that I've seen it I'm not really sure what to make of it.

On the one hand Basterds features some of Tarantino's best writing and direction. But at the same time the movie seems to be lacking something. Like Kill Bill, the tones and styles of Basterds come from all over the place. But they don't seem to gel quite as well as they did in Kill Bill. Some of the stylistic flourishes are jarring. Most of the scenes are deliberately slow, building tension up to a sudden (usually violent) climax. And because the scenes are so drawn out, whenever Tarantino decides to insert a quick cutaway, usually for a laugh, it disrupts the flow in a very awkward way.

The scenes that work in this movie work very well. The lengthy opening scene, or "chapter", is the best example of the slow buildup that Tarantino re-uses multiple times throughout the movie. It's a scene almost entirely of dialog between two men, one of whom is one of the best villains I've seen in a movie ever. My other favorite scene comes later, and has pretty much the same effect, only with more people thrown into the mix. Neither of these scenes focus on the Basterds themselves.

The trailer for this movie is pretty misleading. This is not just a movie about a group of American soldiers running around Nazi-occupied France and collecting scalps. That's only about half of it. The other half centers on a Jewish French woman who runs a movie theater that has been chosen for the premiere of Joseph Goebbel's latest propaganda film. The two stories of the film are barely connected, but they converge at the theater for the film's final conflict.

With the exception of maybe Brad Pitt's character, none of the Basterds are ever fully developed. A few of them get a single moment to shine, but for the most part are relegated to the background. Their story has some really great turns, and most of the movie's fun comes out of their scenes, but again it feels like something is missing. Perhaps two major plot threads were just to much to sustain in such a slowly paced movie. I'd be interested to see if there is much deleted material, or is this was Tarantino's vision from the start.

Both stories are revenge fantasies, neither one quite as satisfying as the one in Kill Bill. But it's a fun movie, more about WWII films than the actual war itself. I feel like I need a second viewing now that I know what to expect. I could see this one growing on me over time. I just don't feel it's quite up to snuff with the rest of Tarantino's work.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"Legion" Makes Armageddon Fun Again

Legion could do for Armageddon what Slither did for alien apocalypse:

You had me at "demon granny gets blasted off ceiling with shotgun."


I was disappointed to see that Ponyo (or Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea, to use its full translated Japanese title) was playing at the large Pinnacle theater as opposed to Downtown West like all the previous Miyazaki releases. If it had been released at Downtown West there might have been a good chance of seeing it in Japanese with subtitles. Showing on one screen at the biggest theater in town pretty much guarantees a dubbed release. But it seems unlikely that Disney even released a subtitled version in theaters, and that was probably a smart decision. Outside of the ardent anime fans (and Miyazaki fans in particular), the audience for this movie is really young. More Totoro, less Mononoke.

But I'm a fan of all Miyazaki's work. Even - if not especially - movies like Kiki's Delivery Service, which features no greater conflict than a young girl trying to regain her confidence. But under Miyazaki's masterful direction movies like this absolutely brim with charm and beauty, and even a sense of serenity. When's the last time a movie simply made you feel content? Miyazaki handles tenderness and youthful wonder with such a sure and honest hand that it never gets bogged down in false sentimentality or schmaltz.

So, even with the dub (and it's really not a bad dub) it is a fantastic movie. The story of a young sea creature that wants to become a human is obviously inspired by The Little Mermaid, but it is grounded in a unique world. It's a fairly loose adaptation, filled with all the incredible detail Miyazaki is known for.

The only real action scene takes place about halfway into the movie. The rest is saved for great character moments, adventure, and a pleasant story that takes its time to unfold. Even when the entire world is in peril you never get the sense that anyone is too worried about it. The characters in Miyazaki's lighter films prefer to take things in stride, and that's something I can get behind. It's nice to spend time in a world where even evil isn't entirely committed to getting its way all the time.

The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker has been receiving a lot of hype lately, and I will now add to it. The movie somehow manages to show what life on the ground is like for an American soldier in Iraq while not getting overly patriotic or sentimental, and while keeping you on the edge of your seat for the majority of its running time.

The tight focus of the film is centered on a group of soldiers who get called in to disarm IED's. Part of what makes the movie so successful is that it doesn't stray outside these few soldiers' points-of-view. It's done with a near-documentary style and almost a complete lack of musical score. There also isn't much of a story, so much as a series of vignettes as the company counts down the last few days until they get to go home for a while.

Any further description might spoil the layers of tension that are masterfully built up through the movie. It is easily one of the best movies I've seen this year so far.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

My new music from July:

1. Allen Toussaint - The Bright Mississippi
2. RIP SLYME - Time To Go
3. Regina Spektor - Far
4. Bat For Lashes - Two Suns
5. Au Revoir Simone - Still Night, Still Light
7. We Were Promised Jetpacks - These Four Walls
8. Future Of The Left - Travels With Myself And Another
9. Focus - Hocus Pocus
10. The Move - Message From The Country
11. Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca
12. RIP SLYME - Talkin' Cheap
13. Beirut - March of the Zapotec & Realpeople: Holland
14. An Horse - Rearrange Beds
15. The Low Anthem - Oh My God, Charlie Darwin
16. M83 - Saturdays = Youth

Bobby McFerrin Is A Wizard

World Science Festival 2009: Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale from World Science Festival on Vimeo.

[via Boing Boing]

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Some concept art has been released for a supposed steampunk-style Mickey Mouse Wii game in development, tentatively titled "Epic Mickey". It's pretty wild:

Eat your kingdom heart out, Kingdom Hearts.

[via Joystiq]

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Focus - "Hocus Pocus"

Focus to Jethro Tull: "We see your jazz flute, and raise you one scat-yodeler/snaggletooth-whistler."

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Away We Go

Aside from the amazing cast the reason I most wanted to see this was Dave Eggers. I'm a big fan of his writing, so I knew there would be something worth seeing here. Still, I'd heard mixed reviews, so I wasn't really sure what to expect.

The beginning started a little slow for me. It took me a while to settle into the tone of the movie, and the dynamic between Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski. But once I settled in I really loved it.

The movie deals a lot with parenthood, and how various people rise to the challenge. I used to think that I hated annoying kids, but then a couple weeks ago I realized that it was actually the parents of annoying kids that I hated. Away We Go fits nicely into that world view, which may explain why I liked it so much. As Rudolph and Krasinski travel the country, visiting old friends and family, some of the people they come across are parents from hell. This leads to a lot of awkwardness and funny situations, but it also plays into Rudolph's fears that she may end up in similar shoes.

And that's mostly what the movie is really about. Rudolph and Krasinski finding their place, and becoming comfortable with the new path their lives are taking. It's a very entertaining road trip movie. Each stop along the way is like a little short story unto itself. Some of them are hilarious, some of them are heartbreaking. The movie comes close to being overly sentimental in a couple spots, but I never felt that it crossed the line.

For me, Away We Go is a fantastic movie. It's a romantic comedy for people who hate romantic comedies.

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet

This is one of the prettiest indie games I've ever seen. Why's it got to be PC-only?

Monday, July 13, 2009


Bruno was probably my least favorite character from Da Ali G Show, so I was a bit puzzled when I heard Sacha Baron Cohen was making a movie based on him. Then I saw the trailer and it changed my mind. The word "genius" gets tossed around almost in every conversation I've heard about Cohen, and I've even used it a few times myself. But I think for the kind of character acting he does you'd be hard pressed to find someone more dedicated to the roles he inhabits. I think the real genius comes when he refuses to break character under any circumstances. When most others would flee for their lives, he pushes things way past the point of comfort. There are several points in Bruno, for example, that make you wonder how he even got out alive.

Or maybe that's not genius. Maybe it's just crazy. In any case, it's hilarious. Bruno certainly ups the anty when it comes to uncomfortable (and often gross) situations. Like in Borat Cohen uses his over-the-top characterization to reveal things about people they might not normally reveal in more comfortable settings. He's often going after easy targets, like Bill Maher does in Religulous. No one will be surprised that there are homophobes in Alabama, but it's still funny as hell to see them squirm. And many of these people deserve to be mocked, whether it's the Christian homosexual deprogrammers, or the stage moms who will subject their babies to anything if it means they get the paycheck.

Bruno isn't as funny as Borat, but it's pretty close.


Moon is an excellent science fiction movie about a solitary man working on a lunar mining station. He has only three weeks left from a three year stint, and he's starting to lose it. I don't really want to give anything more about the story away.

I am always a fan of Sam Rockwell, but he is particularly good in this. It's a challenging role and he pulls it off nicely. Kevin Spacey is also good as Rockwell's robot companion on the station. There is a really nice dynamic between them. There are conscious shades of HAL here, but this robot really holds its own in the realm of great movie robots.

If you like serious, heady sci-fi like 2001 and Primer then you'll almost certainly like Moon.

The Pixel Gives Birth To The Polygon (Or Something)

Video Games from MUSCLEBEAVER on Vimeo.

[via Offworld]

Friday, July 03, 2009

The Brothers Bloom

It's probably not a good sign when your entire movie is upstaged by a cat that appears onscreen for about ten seconds in the first scene. Either your movie has some serious flaws, or that is one fucking great cat.

Fortunately for The Brothers Bloom it is one fucking great cat. Unfortunately the rest of the movie doesn't quite live up to its promise. The Brothers Bloom begins as a wonderfully quirky comedy set in a world not too far removed from one you might see in a Wes Anderson movie. This is Rian Johnson's follow up to the billiant Brick, which if you haven't seen it, is one of the greatest debuts from a director/screenwriter in the last decade.

The Brothers Bloom is an entertaining film with some wonderful performances and set pieces. And like in Brick, Rian Johnson is fudging with genre as much as possible. Unfortunately this time around things get a bit more muddled. The genres don't blend as effortlessly here, so much as simply shift halfway through the film. Somewhere near the end you realize that things have gotten serious, and the playful whimsical tone from the film's start is sorely missed.

That being said, The Brothers Bloom is one of the most original and fun movies you're likely to see all year. It was horribly marketed, not surprising since it doesn't fit into an easily defined mold (which studios to this day do not know how to represent). There are some plot twists and turns, as movies about con men/women are wont to have, but Rian does a wonderful job with the slight-of-hand moments. The twists you know are coming are not really the twists.

It's a shame he wasn't able to carry the silliness of the first act through the entire movie, but it's a damn good first act. And the rest ain't too shabby.
New music downloads from June:

1. Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest
2. Black Moth Super Rainbow - Eating Us
3. St. Vincent - Actor
4. Ratatat - Classics
5. Future Islands - Little Advances
6. Bell Orchestre - As Seen Through Windows
7. Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse - Dark Night Of The Soul
8. Sarah Siskind - Say It Louder
9. Moby - Wait For Me
10. Iggy Pop - Preliminaires
11. Sunset Rubdown - Dragonslayer
12. Ida Maria - Fortress Round My Heart
13. Silversun Pickups - Swoon
14. Coconut Records - Davy

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Hangover

Saw this about three weeks ago but never got around to writing the review.
It's not a great movie, but I laughed a lot. It's fairly forgettable.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories

I love horror games. And the Silent Hill series (the little of it that I've played) ranks alongside Resident Evil as the best of the best. So I'm excited that they're bringing the original game to the Wii. And it's not just a simple port, as this trailer shows:

That looks absolutely terrifying. And the chase system, which includes the ability to see what's chasing you at the push of a button, looks like one of the most innovative features in this genre ever.

[via Joystiq]

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Super O'Brien Bros.

Great bit about Conan's new backdrop:

Rock Beats Scissors, Kraken Beats Jackalope...

This demo video from E3 shows why Scribblenauts has become my most anticipated game of the year:

That isn't from the main game, which features various levels in which you have to summon objects to complete goals. The open nature of Scribblenauts - figuring out the most ridiculous solution to a problem by conjuring anything - is what makes this game so appealing. The video above demonstrates just a tiny portion of the usable objects, but it does show that the selection is diverse.
IGN has a brief description of how the game proper works. Joystiq has a more involved one, detailing a couple of the game's levels.
All of this plus a level editor? Endless fun.

Monday, June 01, 2009

No More Heroes 2

No More Heroes is at least in the top 5 of the funnest games available for the Wii, and one of the first to fill the void of mature games for the system. Like many Wii games it doesn't require you to play on your feet, but it's way more fun if you do. It had crazy, over-the-top violence, and a wickedly funny story that was equally crazy. I am so very thrilled that they're making a sequel. From the looks of the new E3 trailer it promises to be as gleefully sick as the original.
New music downloads from May:

1. various artists - Ben Folds Presents: University a Cappella!
2. Patrick Watson - Wooden Arms
3. Vienna Teng - Inland Territory
4. Art Brut - Art Brut vs. Satan
5. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
6. Metric - Fantasies
7. How I Became The Bomb - Let's Go!
8. Amadou & Mariam - Welcome To Mali
9. O+S - O+S
10. Frightened Rabbit - Sing The Greys

Drag Me To Hell

Drag Me To Hell is the Sam Raimi movie old school Sam Raimi fans have been waiting for for years. Well, maybe not the movie. But it's a close substitute until that glorious day finally comes.

First of all, the trailer for this movie does not do it justice. The trailer makes this look like any of the generic PG-13 horror movies the studios have been pumping out for the last decade. It doesn't reveal any of the gleeful Raimi humor that makes his horror so entertaining. The good news is, none of the good parts are spoiled before you watch the film.

This movie has all of the elements that made the Evil Dead movies the cult favorites they have become. Gruesome hags, demonic possession, unexpected jolts, and plenty of spraying bodily fluids. Most importantly, it has a protagonist worthy of standing next to Ash. You won't believe some of the crazy things Alison Lohman does in this movie. But if a demon was going to drag you to hell in three days you'd probably go a little crazy too. She gives what is perhaps the best performance by a woman in any horror movie I've ever seen. While many horror films have female protagonists, they are rarely given more to do than flee in terror. Lohman is given much more to do, and it's great.

There are plenty of gross out moments, and most of the scares are in the form of sudden jolts and loud noises. But Sam Raimi gives us plenty of silliness too. He's bringing the fun back to horror. And it's a much needed return, when the dour Saw franchise is the biggest thing in the genre these days.


Up is a fantastic movie. Pixar is once again at the top of their game. I loved the characters, the humor, the emotion, and the animation. I've been dying to see Pixar use the new digital 3D technology, and it does not disappoint!

Parts of this movie had me in tears. They really get you to care deeply for the old man right from the beginning. And every character that is introduced is great in their own way. The boy is fantastic, and the villain is wonderfully twisted. But the dogs steal the show. They get so many great moments.

I don't have much to say except this is a great film, and I recommend it to everyone.


Knowing wasn't as bad as you expect a Nicolas Cage movie to be these days. It's pretty stupid, but watchable. I appreciate an apocalyptic movie that actually has the balls to let the world end.

So, Cage finds a mysterious document and within a matter of hours has pieced together a troubling pattern. Troubling because it is so unlikely that he would have pieced it together so quickly, especially while downing scotch like there's no tomorrow.

The document apparently predicts every major disaster on Earth for the past fifty years, with several yet to come. This sends Cage on a wild hunt to see where the trail leads. Meanwhile, his son is hearing strange voices and being visited by spooky Eurotrash gentlemen in black, and having visions of the world burning.

The final reveal is a bit odd, but not Shyamalan bad. Ultimately Cage's successful (however unlikely) uncovering of the truth doesn't amount to anything. He's merely a witness. All his efforts are pretty much for nothing except to take the audience along for the ride.

It's not a terrible movie, just kind of dumb. The characters are all pretty much annoying, and there is some Signs-esque spirituality thrown in for no reason, but lots of things explode! Throw in some unintentional humor and you've got yourself a fairly entertaining afternoon popcorn movie.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Queen - "I Want To Break Free"

Freddie Mercury had one of the greatest rock moustaches of all time. It's on proud display in this insane video:

Bonus! Freddie schools the 'stache-haters on stage:

Friday, May 29, 2009

Jimmy Buffett - "Pencil Thin Mustache"


Coming out for cell phones, and more importantly, the DSi - Ghostwire is an augmented reality game in which you search for ghosts in the environment around you. This is perhaps the cleverest use of the DSi's camera I've seen yet.

And here's a trailer for the phone version:

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chris Dane Owens - "Shine On Me"

This video is an example of what happens when moustaches go wrong. Well, it's an example of what happens when everything goes wrong.

A sword and a hideous pornstache do not a hero make.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wilford Brimley's Cure For Those Beetustime Blues

Not even the beetus can detract from the glory that is Brimley's moustache (or his ability to rock!):

More On Virgin Falls

Went on the Virgin Falls hike with my friends, Sarah and Brook. This was about a ten mile hike. You start up on the plateau and keep descending until you get to the falls.

There are several alternate routes to take, including the lookout path, which has some great views; and the path to Sheep Cave, which has a fairly impressive waterfall that flows out of it.

Big Laurel Falls is the first impressive falls along the trail. The cave behind Big Laurel Falls is fairly large, and is covered by a thick bed of branches covered with fine sand. It's incredibly spongy to walk on. The water below these falls mysteriously disappears into a hole in the ground at the back of the cave.

Virgin Falls was very beautiful. You could climb down to the base of it if you were motivated. The rocks are very slippery. I went about halfway. There is a narrow trail that runs around in front of the falls that gives a perfect view. The spot has the feeling of a paradise oasis in the middle of the woods.

You have to hike back the way you came in. Since it was mostly downhill to the falls, it's all uphill on the way back. Parts of it are pretty intense for amateur hikers like myself. And we were moving at a pretty rapid pace, because one of us had to be back at a certain time.

It was a difficult hike. I wouldn't do it again in a hurry, since I tend to enjoy more leisurely hikes. But ultimately the views were worth the experience. I had a great time.

Virgin Falls

I went for a great hike this morning with some friends. You can see some pictures from the hike here. I wasn't able to upload my panoramic shots in that album so I'll post them here:

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Unusual Times

I've found another blog celebrating the wonderful world of moustaches all this month: The Unusual Times. They run a fancier ship than mine, and also had the good fortune of sending one of their own to the World Beard And Moustache Championships that happened but days ago, in Anchorage.

This month they've been chronicling their journey to said championships with a series of pictures and YouTube videos. This is one of my favorites:

I've just discovered this site, but I'm already a big fan.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Ned Flanders

Ned Flanders is quite possibly the most famous mustachioed cartoon character of all time. And also possibly the most famous evangelical in America. Despite all the jokes at his expense, The Simpsons has shown time and again that God is very much on Flanders' side:

This is either vindication of the faithful, or evidence that there is power in the 'stache.


A delightful animated moustache from the art director of Coraline: