Ten Canadian Records You Shouldn't Live Without -- No Anne Murray, I promise!
Monday, June 30, 2003
True Patriot Love I feel really good about being Canadian this year. Not that I haven't felt good about it before, but right now it feels like we're making some real progress as a nation. The recent decisions to decriminalize marijuana and recognize same-sex marriages make this a truly exciting time. Canada is setting the pace for change and American legislators are struggling to keep up. (It's too bad some Americans are trying to amend their laws in the wrong direction.) I'm also proud that we did not take part in the war in Iraq, even if I'm less than thrilled with the way our prime minister has handled relations with the United States of late. Of course, there's still a chance that we'll never see the aforementioned bills make it into law, but the fact that things have come this far is a tremendous improvement. For now, I'm happy to live in the progressive, liberal and secular society of Canada. Have a happy Canada Day!
XTC - "Frivolous Tonight" -- This song was bugging me because I couldn't figure out who Colin Moulding's voice reminded me of. Then it hit me -- Richard Gere as Billy Flynn Chicago. Now it is ruined.
Sean Connery voted the worst film accent -- Shurely some mishtake!
Wednesday, June 25, 2003
After seeing Hulk I went back and read that Roger Ebert Hulk
review. It's still bunk. I'm sick of people writing reviews about how Hulk/X-Men/Spider-Man/whatever is a "comic book movie for people who don't like comic books". What the heck is that supposed to mean? That line is only ever used by people who think comics are "too good" for them. If Ebert had ever bothered to read Hulk comics he'd realize the "classical tragedy" overtones of the film was always apparent in the comics. Outsiders always approach the superhero genre with a pre-conceived notion that it's all far-out silliness and since it can't happen in real life it's incapable of expressing anything more than a prepubescent wish-fulfillment fantasy. Grow up already, people. It's called a genre. People wear costumes and have secret identities because that's how superhero comics work. I don't complain about the cowboy hats and accents in westerns, do I?
Hulk -- Like a lot of people, I was worried about the cartoonish look of the computer-generated Hulk in the early previews. Everyone I talked to agreed that he looked horribly fake. Preoccupied with the computer effects, I was less concerned that The Powers That Be were tinkering with the Hulk's origin for the film. Recent character revamps in the Spider-Man and X-Men films seemed to work, so I was willing to accept a reworking of the Hulk tale. Besides, Ang Lee is the master of the "repressed desires versus duty" story so it had to be good, right? Right?
I turns out CGI Hulk is the best thing in the film. Everything else gets bogged down in an unnecessary attempt to update the science and motivation behind Bruce Banner's transformation.
I was never a fan of the Hulk comics but I still found it hard to accept the complicated reworking of his origin. It takes an extraordinarily long time before we even get to the accident that triggers the Hulk. If they had stuck to the comics it could have happened about 30 minutes earlier.
It's a classic case of not trusting the source material. Or more likely not understanding it to begin with. There was already plenty psychological drama to work with in the original story (gifted child abused by his father grows up into an emotionally repressed scientists only to have a freak accident bring out a physical manifestation of his rage) without changing everything around.
I wanted something more subtle or at least more compelling than the ridiculous backplot they cooked up. Dysfunctional family life is something we can all relate to. Having your dad use you as a scientific guinea pig isn't. It makes Hulk's origins more of the pre-destined Superman DC variety than the everyman characters Marvel is famous for.
The film would have been a lot better jettisoning Banner's dad altogether (except for traumatic flashbacks, of course) and focusing on the Bruce-Betty-General Ross triangle. Recently, I heard a comedian say that no matter what his teenage daughter's male friends say to him all he can hear is "Hi sir, I'm here to have sex with your daughter". If Hulk isn't the prime example of every father's nightmare son-in-law I don't know what is.
Also, teenage sidekicks get a bad rap but Rick Jones was sorely missing in this film. Any sort of comic relief would have been welcome. Everything was so dour and humorless. On the bright side, the action sequences were great and CGI Hulk looks spectacular. He's incredibly lifelike and sympathetic.
So another missed opportunity then. Let's just hope Hollywood gets the Fantastic Four right or it'll be clobberin' time…
Tuesday, June 24, 2003
XTC - "Your Dictionary" -- I stumbled across the lyrics for this song while reading the ILM thread about spell-out songs. I downloaded it and now I can't stop listening to it (dear RIAA: I'm going to buy the album so please don't sue me...) It's right up there with Elvis Costello's "I Want You" for my favourite bile-filled love/hate songs ever.
It's the cold calculation of the song that really gets to me. While most songs of this sort, such as "I Want You", have an organic off-the-cuff quality, "Your Dictionary" is clearly the result of a lot of hard work. The lyrics have been carefully constructed and Partridge's vocal delivery is calm but as still as sharp as a razor. He's like a classic Hitchcock villain -- plotting his revenge down to the very last detail, boiling with hate on the inside but cool and collected on the outside.
Monday, June 23, 2003
Last night I watched a program on Sigmund Freud before I went to bed. It discussed how he came up with his theories about how dreams are wish fulfillment fantasies and repressed desires and fears. With this fresh in my mind, I went to sleep and had another Larry David dream (although there was no sexual content this time). Clearly, Larry resonates deeply with my subconscious. Where is Freud when you need him? (And for the record, Larry did not show up Saturday night. Bruce Springsteen did.)
Greg Packer: walking soundbite -- This is pretty bizarre, yet I can totally understand it. Apparently this fellow Packer hangs out at prominent media events so that he can give the "man on the street" quotes to the journalists. As any journalist will tell you, one of the shittiest jobs you can land is the conducting "the streeter", where you stop passersby, take their picture and try to elicit some sort of intelligible remark on something they really have no expertise or interest in. So as Sheryl McCarthy says, it's no wonder so many journalists were eager to quote Packer. They probably just wanted to file their stories and go home.
Saturday, June 21, 2003
I had another dream involving me and Larry David last night. I wonder what it all means...
Andrea told me last night that she'd discovered my Art of the Mix persona. It felt odd. However, she also said she's getting into the Magnetic Fields, which is always a good thing.
Dear makers of Pur Source vodka cooler: Last night at The Coast 10th Anniversary Party I asked my former j-school prof if the novel he was writing was "erotic historical fiction". I blame your drink. Also, Source Lite is horrible. I don't care how few calories it has -- it's awful stuff.
Andrea thinks blogs are the Great Equalizer in our human existence. We may look all cool and composed on the outside, but inside we're just nervous wrecks. Unfortunately, the nervous wreck became my dominant personality last night.
As an entertainment reporter, I think one of the key signs you are beyond rehabilitation back into the real world is when you use the term "Tinseltown" in your work.
[comic geek rant] Roger Ebert instantly blows any shred of credibility in the first sentence of his review of Hulk: "The Hulk is rare among Marvel superheroes in that his powers are a curse, not an advantage." Um...excuse me? What Marvel comics was he reading? Certainly not the ones with The Thing, Spider-Man and the X-Men, that's for sure. [/comic geek rant] I'm waiting to read the rest of the review after I see the film, as Ebert has an infuriating habit of giving away the first hour of any movie's plot in his reviews.
Tuesday, June 17, 2003
Having a bad day? Just remember, things could be a lot worse. You could be peeing winged beetles.
Thursday, June 12, 2003
PopMatters has a review of Dererk Jarman's Jubilee which contains some thoughts on the days when punk was relevant. Having just posted a long rant on punk the other day maybe I'm not one to talk, but am I the only one bored to tears with the constant retreading of the Sex Pistols story? If I have to see another retrospective "history of rock 'n' roll" VH1 special with either Malcolm McLaren or John Lydon droning on and on about how they shocked -- shocked! -- the nation I'll puke. We've heard the stories about billion times by now and what with The Filth and the Fury you'd think there wouldn't be much more to say about it all. But oh, no. There they are again. They should hook up with Ray Manzarek from the Doors and join the "Remember When We Were Dangerous?" club for senior rockers.
I couldn't figure out why one of Yahoo's most popular photos was what looked to me like a scrap between white trash. Then I enlarged the picture and found out it was actually Bush falling off a Segway. Told ya the road map to peace is a bumpy one!
Tuesday, June 10, 2003
Anger is an energy
Having grown up on a steady diet of Green Day and Bad Religion during my teens, I can appreciate the Onion's recent '90s punk decries punks of today article better than most. But I still couldn't shake the feeling that no, the mid-'90s punk revival was different from the current wave of Sum 41 clones. But it took watching Transplants' "D.J.D.J." video for it all to click.
Quick video recap: The band plays on a platform in the middle of a swimming pool belonging to what looks like a Miami beach resort. Fans out on the balconies go apeshit, throwing furniture into the pool. But the killer for me was the girls dancing next to the band. They are stereotypical video wenches who appear under the impression they have entered a spring break wet t-shirt contest.
If it was just another band from Ajax I probably wouldn’t have though anything of it. But Transplants is the project of Tim "Lint" Armstrong, formerly of Rancid. The sight of the Epitaph veteran cavorting with video bimbos was truly weird for me.
The videos for "Smells Like Teen Spirit", "Longview", "Keep 'Em Separated" and some of the other '90s "classics" didn’t contain any cheesy T&A but they were still great to watch. But once the bands became more successful and had to put out videos on a regular basis, the creativity began to wane.
Personally, I blame The Offspring's "Pretty Fly For a White Guy" video. That it was intended to satirize rap video cliches didn't matter. It still tapped into the basic sad truth that no matter how punk a teenage boy likes to think he is, he'll still enjoy watching a woman shake her ass in his face. Thus was born what I like to call "frat house punk".
Once Offspring invented frat punk, Blink 182 perfected it. It's no wonder Blink pushed their goofball image so much. Some of their songs were so lacking in content, they had no choice to play up the image. The video for "All the Small Things" may have parodied boy bands but the song itself was even more insipid than the average Backstreet Boy hit ("say it ain't so/I will not go/turn the lights off/carry me home"). At least the "Pretty Fly For a White Guy" video made sense within the context of the song.
And there lies how mid-'90s punk was different from today's bands -- content.
Today's videos don’t even pretend to be humorous or clever and neither do the songs. What are Sum 41 and Good Charlotte's songs about that makes them so punk? The answer is, of course, nothing. Nobody in their right mind over the age of 15 would be fooled into thinking these jokers were even any good, let alone punk.
I don't know why I'm writing this. Why am I always so bothered by other people's ignorance? Maybe I am just as delusional as that punk in the Onion article and nostalgia is getting the better of me. But I'm not that naïve. Like communism, punk was a great idea but ultimately flawed. Unlike communism, it managed to produce some good music along the way. And I do like to think the world is a better place because of Joey Ramone. So while I'm not a Maximum Rock 'N' Roll punk purist, I still have a soft spot for the stuff.
So while I know that the success of Avril Lavigne, who gives the impression that all you need to be punk is a wifebeater and a scowl on your face, shouldn't make me angry, it still does. And you know what? I'm glad. It's good to know I can still feel passionate about something, even if it is something as trivial as what constitutes "punk".
I didn't go to the Dears show on Friday night even though I wanted to. There were lots of reasons but one of the biggest factors was heartburn. Heartburn! What am I, a 45-year-old trucker all of a sudden?
Sunday, June 08, 2003
Knockoff*project - Can't think of what to put on your album cover? No prob...just rip off another band's artwork and pass it off as an "homage". The Ween and Turbonegro covers are my faves. The Sesame Street one is good too...almost as good as Sesame Street Fever with Grover as Travolta. (Via largehearted boy)
Thursday, June 05, 2003
Mr. Darcy voted dream date -- Pride and Prejudice hunk voted the fictional character women would most like to go out on a date with. This story got me thinking about other crushable fictional characters. One of my time-honored favourites for drunken pub conversation is "what cartoon character do you fancy?" The strange thing is, I'm always at a loss to think of any on the spot.
The problem lies in that cartoons are, by definition, caricatures. Since cartoonists have traditionally been men, the sexuality of female toons is accentuated, while the attributes of male toons are generally physical depictions of the character's central personality. Just look at Marge and Homer Simpson.
But that doesn't mean there aren't any crush-worthy male toons out there! Besides, who says looks are everything anyway? Heck, most of the guys on this list aren't even human. I tried to stick to characters from animated cartoons in TV or film. Otherwise I'd just seem completely sad. Anyway, here goes any last grain of self-respect. Without further ado I present you with my list of:
Batman -- The Animated Series and Justice League version, of course! He's a little too brooding for my tastes but anyone who has a reputation as the peak of human perfection has to be worth a shot.
Samurai Jack -- Another brooding hero but at least he has a decent reason to be in a bad mood (banished centuries into the future), unlike Batman's creepy dead-parents fixation. Jack is not only hot but also has a Wolverine-esque habit of getting all his clothes torn off when he fights.
Wolverine -- Growing up, Wolverine was always one of my favourites but he was always a little too hairy and short for my delicate prepubescent tastes. My love for Logan was of the platonic "cool uncle" sort, as exemplified in his relationship with Kitty Pryde (and later, Jubilee). That all changed with Hugh Jackman and the revamp in New X-Men. Phooarrrr!! So I guess I'm cheating since I never found the Wolverine from the first X-Men cartoon series very attractive. (I consider X-Men: Evolution to verge on blasphemy so that's out as well.)
Bender -- I have a feeling any relationship between me and Bender would end rather badly. We'd drink each other into an early grave, like F. Scott and Zelda.
Raphael -- Why did this guy hang around with the other Ninja Turtles when he was obviously so much cooler? Snarky and sarcastic, he's Bender meets Samurai Jack! The original version from the comics is more intense and less-crushable but still rocks.
Groundskeeper Willie -- I'm such a sucker for the accent.
Mr. Clean -- He's in great shape for his age, he's stylish and he's neat and tidy! All signs point to gay but I doubt we'll ever know for sure.
Disney's Robin Hood -- So dashing and debonair, just like David Niven. Little John's gotta go, though.
Wednesday, June 04, 2003
If I had to think of the worst things you could possibly say on live TV not knowing the microphone was still on, I think referring to Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise as bisexuals would be pretty high on the list. (Via I Love Everything)