Friday, July 31, 2009

The Underground Paperclip Movement



My boss HATES paperclips. And it's hilarious.

Any job that most people would think was suitable for a paperclip, he will invariably staple.

To him, paperclips symbolize chaos: maliciously disguised as an organizing force. When you work in animation, there's an enormous amount of paper that needs tracking, and a lot of the artwork has several elements that need to stay together (such as specific overlays or redresses). Whether it be binder clips, file folders, staples, anything is better than a paperclip in the eyes of our art coordinator.

Therefore, we've heard him say some hilariously fascist remarks about paperclips while breaking in the new P.A.

"What are these paperclips doing? We don't use paperclips. There are no paperclips on this production. Don't go all jackalope on me dude."

As you could probably tell from my boss' use of the term "jackalope," he's not a humorless guy. In fact, he's known for bombing people's cubes with hand-made posters, poking fun at the target's quirks or referencing an inside joke. For example, I do an impeccable impression of Archangel from AirWolf, so he bombed my cube with this image.

Today, the paperclips strike back. Viva l'agrafe de papier.



Tuesday, July 28, 2009

This 3D Trend

I don't know about this 3D trend. The 3D glasses make everything darker and it hurts my eyes. But if I opt out and see the film in 2D I feel like I'm missing out on something important to the film. But then I see the 3D and remember that it's not important at all. Not at all. And it's like every movie now. The Tron movie, Harry Potter, I dare you to put out an animated film that's in two dimensions. And the bottom line is there's yet to be a film that's used the gimmick of 3D in a fun and clever way. You know, in that Honey I Shrunk the Audience style in-your-face, this is 3D mother fucker, kind of 3D.

I wanted this to be short. Get it off my chest. But now I'm upset.

Monday, July 27, 2009

"Tron: Legacy" trailer

And so begins the aftermath of Comic-Con: check out the trailer for Tron: Legacy.


Having recently re-watched the original, this trailer really disappoints me. Everything looks way too textured, the characters look like they're wearing leather suits. This isn't the Matrix. It would have been cool if they went for something closer to the original look where the contrast was bumped so high you couldn't see the fabric of their costumes, or the textures of the walls around them. Objects were primarily defined by those neon shapes within them, but now they're using that more like an afterthought.

It's cool that Flynn (Jeff Bridges' character) has turned evil, and it's cool that Daft Punk will be doing the music. Maybe there's a chance the plot will be decent, but anyone who says Tron is about more than the visuals is lying to themselves. And right now, the visuals are a huge letdown.


Above: new.
Below: old.
UPDATE: Apparently this isn't exactly a trailer, it's just some very polished FX tests. So there's still time to right the wrong that's been done...

Friday, July 24, 2009

White Rabbits - Free Music Vid

Act now! For a limited time, iTunes is offering the music video for "Percussion Gun" as a free download!

Do you like downloading music videos? Does anybody? Really?

Whatever, I like this band and it's a simple-yet-effective vid, so I downloaded it.

You can also just watch it online, like normal people do:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Topol & Matchmaker Night

Tonight Fiddler on the Roof opens at the Pantages in Hollywood, billed as Topol's "Farewell Tour." Last night, however, was a special preview show hosted by JDate and the (impeccably-edited) Jewish Journal, dubbed "Matchmaker Night." The premise: single Jews had to type in the special code ("JDATE," of course) while purchasing their tickets, receiving a sizable discount that even gentiles would appreciate.

I, however, got the ultimate discount: my mom works for the Jewish Journal and was able to score some comp'd tickets. When we realized one of my friends couldn't make it, my mom decided to attend as well. It wasn't until I was walking to the theater that I realized how potentially disastrous bringing your mother to a singles function could turn out. But then again, that's probably the most Jewish thing a guy could do.

When fellow RSF blogger Matt Schwartz heard about "Matchmaker Night," he could hardly contain himself.

"Dude, imagine saying 'Grandma, grandpa, meet my girlfriend. Guess how we met.' I don't think anything would make them happier! And fuckin' Topol, dude!"

Fuckin' Topol, indeed. The man's still got it, and he's pretty spry for a seventy-something-year-old. He was still doing all the dancing and upward-fist-shaking that the role demanded. His voice has changed with age (his slight lisp makes him almost sound like a Jewish version of Sean Connery), but for the most part he's hitting those notes. He also possesses great comedic timing, which I already knew from his performance as Dr Hans Zarkov.

All in all, it was a great show. Remembering how bleak things get in the second act, I tried to keep it light during intermission by saying things like "man, I love the Nutcracker!" loud enough for the nearby old ladies to hear.

That was the extent of my interaction with the opposite sex at "Matchmaker Night." Thankfully, the whole thing was very understated. There were some cupcakes near the bar that had the JDate insignia printed on the frosting. Lord knows nothing attracts young singles more than free baked goods and theater. Well played, JDate.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sweeping Generalizations About Los Angeles That May Or May Not Be True

  1. If you have no interest in the film industry, then LA has no interest in you.
  2. The Valley is a lot like most of New Jersey, only with palm trees and In-N-Out.  So, slightly better than New Jersey, but basically still a giant strip mall. 
  3. It’s hot.  Inferno hot. Welcome to LA, also known as the eighth circle of hell!  Enjoy stewing in your own juices alongside pimps and panderers. 
  4. On the upside, there are beautiful beaches nearby.  On the downside, if you want to drive anywhere you must first slaughter a bull and make an offering to The Traffic God.  Otherwise, he will make your two-mile journey take two hours and by the time you get to Malibu you will want to hari kari. But everything will be better once you run screaming into the cold Pacific and fall out of your ill-fitting bathing suit and drink some red wine and take a disco nap.

Honest though, I had a great time in LA, but for some reason I'm no good at describing happy events--I'll leave that to David.  Angst is easier; I could talk all day about unrequited love, guilt, spiritual emptiness, ego and unhappiness.  I have a hard time admitting when life is good. Temperamentally I'm more like Matt Chester, who has a wonderful sense of humor but writes post-apocalyptic plays that end in suicide:

"After all, the point of art--like war--is to show people that life is worth living by showing that it isn't."  

Right?  Am I right?

Monday, July 20, 2009

"This is when things get weird for you..."

I had a great Saturday night, and it wasn't until reflecting on it later (at approximately 3:AM over some one dollar burgers from Carl's) that I fully appreciated how bizarre things got.

Before I compile the List o' Strange, let me set things up: Colt 45 and Vice Magazine hosted a free gathering at Three of Clubs, with live music and DJs all night. Har Mar Superstar headlined, which right away should have tipped me off that this wouldn't be an ordinary evening.

Wasted Bracelet Bestower - Once the grumpy bouncer had checked IDs, he motioned us toward a woman to give us pink paper bracelets. The woman just stood there, eyes half-closed. After the bouncer yelled at her, she fumbled around my friends' wrists until the bracelets were sloppily attached. I, however, was not so lucky: she put mine on with such force it felt like she was trying to make a tourniquet.

Way Too Much Colt 45 - The event boasted they'd be serving free pints of Colt 45 'til 11:PM. When we got there the bar was all out, which was probably just as well. Quantity wins over quality when it comes to malt beverages, and they certainly weren't handing out 40s. Regardless, it was surreal to see hundreds of Colt cans crowding the tops of tables, and feel them crush under your feet every now and then.

This also meant that every napkin and coaster had a big picture of Billy Dee Williams' face, flashing that winning grin that won him a cushy gig in the Cloud City. There was even a life-size cut-out, with "Works Every Time" written on his chest.

A Bearded Rapper Who Resembled Tobias Funke - If David Cross gained some pounds, grew a long beard, and rapped about Los Angeles, then he'd pretty much be Jimmy Jamz of Brother Reade. I respected Jamz and DJ/producer Bobby Evans, (who looks a lot like Waldo without the winter hat) for their darker undertones, smart rhymes, and ability to get the crowd moving. Apparently they have an album out entitled Rap Music. Word.

Creepy Old Man Having A Blast - Lost in a sea of hipsters was a scrawny old man, who was having the time of his life. I guess I only call him "creepy" because he looked so out of place, but other than that he seemed pretty amiable.

When Jamz mingled with the audience while rapping (which he did frequently,) this old guy was right there next to him, bopping along with a pleasant smile. I'd give anything to know his story.

Moby Look-Alike - There was a dude who kinda looked like Moby. Or the dude from "Powder." That's all.

Girl With A Boyfriend Who Wanted Me To Grind With Them Both - For a chunk of Har Mar's set (I'll get to him,) an obnoxious couple was dancing in front of us. I don't blame them for dancing, everybody was, but they were pushing people out of the way to have more dance floor, and getting obnoxiously sensual with each other. Right in front of us. Come on now.

So when the girlfriend grabbed my shoulders in an effort to make a dancing sandwich out of herself, I naturally wasn't down. Therefore, I gave her a stern finger wag, in an effort to say "I apologize for not complying, but I prefer to leave your sandwich open-face." She was confused. It probably didn't help that my finger wagging was in time with the music. That's right, I become one of the many weird things about Saturday night.

Complete Lack of Air-Conditioning - Everybody knows that Los Angeles is a hot place, so why would you do this to us, Three of Clubs?

Saving Best for Last: Har Mar Superstar - There's a proper way to enjoy Har Mar Superstar: first, listen to his music. Enjoy his dancey, catchy pop, and his Prince-esque voice. Next, imagine what body you think that sexy vocals belongs to. Then find a picture of him. Finally, pick up the shattered pieces of your mind and attempt to go back to the life you once knew.

There's an irresistible juxtaposition between Har Mar's sex-obsessed lyrics and the fact that he looks like the cartoon version of Jon Luvitz from "The Critic." You can't help but listen in awe as he croons "I wanna taste your apple sauce" or turns to his band to shout "we are fucking awesome!" He even has a song with the chorus "I'm the fucking man." And when you see how he's able to get everybody in a room dancing, it's hard to disagree.

I'd heard crazy stories about Har Mar's live performances: how he strips down to his skivvies and makes out with girls in the audience. I didn't witness the latter, I can only assume it happened after the show.

At one point halfway through the set, wearing nothing but his undies and a bandanna around his neck, body glistening with sweat, Har Mar turned to the crowd and triumphantly yelped "This is when things get weird for you." He then jumped from the stage to sing/dance/mingle with the crowd. As Har Mar moved past me (and my female friends jumped behind me in fear of becoming his target,) our sweaty shoulders brushed, like two sopping mounds of Jello squeaking past each other.

As he returned to the stage, the dancing girlfriend in front of us proved she wasn't done being obnoxious. She pants'd Har Mar. Right in front of us. Come on now.

Check out event photos from ShadowScene.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Harry Potter and the Cold-Blooded Film

Look! I can be rude like real film critics! But let's keep this casual: "Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince", the 6th of the eight-film series, didn't really do it for me. It's cool though, they've got a bunch more tries. They've split the final book into two films. I think after the first film comes out they'll announce they've split the second film into two parts, and then when part one of the second film based on the final book comes out they'll announce they've split part two of part two into two parts and so on until it's like a fractal or the virus from "I am Legend" except with increasing teen angst. I guess the head zombie in "I am Legend" was angst-driven. He really missed his zombie girlfriend. But who could blame him, she was so beautiful and translucent.

At any rate, let's talk about why the film didn't do it for me.

I remember reading this book. I remember taking it to summer camp where I ran the games program, and cracking it open whenever there was nobody looking. I was engrossed by Voldermort's backstory; the tragic tale of the orphan Tom Riddle, whose eyes I always pictured to be as green as the cover of the book. I learned the answers to questions I had been asking since seventh grade, and just as I thought all had been solved, out came the horcruxes, and the identity of the half-blood prince, and R.A.B. Who was R.A.B.? And then the coupling off. Oh, the coupling off. Harry and Ginny. Ron and Hermione. Me and Cho Chang. (In my imagination). And of course, there was Dumbledore's tragic death (just as I was beginning to recover from Sirius Black's murder at the hands of a terrifying witch who, thank god, I had yet to see in my head as the terrible Helena Bonham Carter). Yeah. I dug that book.

The magic of J.K. Rowling is in her ability to tell a story. Her pacing is fantastic, her words accessible, and her descriptions are cinematographic; they construct a scene visually in a way that forces the reader to see exactly what she sees as she writes it. No, she's not the best writer in the world. No, her books aren't cerebral or challenging or politically charged. But she told her story in a way that became as close to an addiction for me as anything I've ever read. "Half-Blood Prince" made my heart pound. Yes, okay, I cried when Dumbledore died. Come on, I dare you to say you didn't. I devoured that book and craved the final one.

The film...didn't make my heart pound. It wasn't whatever the filmic equivalent to a page-turner is. Maybe it was the pacing- it was long and slow. Maybe it was the lack of importance- it had no weight to it, almost as if it was made only to serve as a link that bound the fantastic fifth film to its final two installments. It felt like the filmmakers had to get this part of the story out of the way to make room for the conclusion(s). Clearly this film wasn't about action. The most thrilling part of the 2.5 hours was five minutes long and involved a sea of gooey underwater CG dead people. That's okay, the book didn't have a ton of action in it. What it did have was a fascinating story about the rise of Voldermort (one that's pretty essential to explain the location and importance of the seven pivitol, you know, cruxes, of the final film). This movie skimmed the surface of a mere two flashbacks. And they were the highlights of the film. Perhaps the best acting (save the brilliant Allan Rickman and Jim Broadbent) came from the two young Tom Riddles. That was interesting. That was moving. Where was the rest of that? I know the book had it.

At the end of the day, this movie did its job. It set up the ending. I just hope that director David Yates, goes back and figures out whatever he got right with the fifth film (my favorite thus far) and applies it to the final two. If he continues in the same direction as "Half-Blood Prince" we'll be left with two films that serve simply to wrap a story, and not to excite a crowd with a passionate conclusion. Mr. Yates needs to realize that removing almost all the color from a film does not make it dark and sinister. It just makes it bland.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Eggs, LA, Amputees

I have ill will towards Los Angeles. I went there once when I was twelve and I hated it, but at that age I also hated my mother, eggs, and walking. I’ve learned to appreciate all of the above, so maybe I’ll have an LA about-face in the next few days.

Or maybe I’m so loyal to San Francisco that I refuse to clear out even a tiny nook of my heart for another city.

I spent the past hour in Golden Gate Park with a log tucked under my neck like some kind of feral geisha. A few pigeons and one homeless amputee veteran wheeled around my body while I lay listening to the brute grunting of tennis players on a nearby court and waited for the fog to come down. Once the wind picked up I started to walk home but got sidetracked when I ran into someone I used to work with because this is a small town disguised as a metropolis. I love it here. I’m bordering on effusive. Must stop now.

Los Angeles, I’m yours, but only for the next five days.


We Are Wizards


The new Harry Potter film is out, and all my friends went to see a midnight screening. I, however, stayed in (like a responsible/employed adult) and watched a film about an incredibly specific niche of Harry Potter fandom.

"We Are Wizards" profiles some very strange and very inspirational people who show their Potter love through creative outlets: be it music, writing, comics, etc.

The film champions pop culture's potential for bringing people together, it's a celebration of expression, regardless of its bizarre and nerdy origin. As I've mentioned before, I'm not the biggest Potter fan, but that didn't stop this film from moving me deeply.

Enjoy the whole thing on Hulu.

Darwin Deez


In other "send an artist your e-mail and get free music" news, everybody should check out Darwin Deez' MySpace. A whopping 4 tracks of tasty indie pop await you.
I owe this find solely to the infamous and bi-coastal Jamie Peterson. He described Deez' aesthetic perfectly: "Sondre Lerche's first album mixed with the Strokes."
This stuff is stripped down and all kinds of catchy. "Bomb Song" really gets me, but I've also got a soft spot for "Radar Detector," and any song that romanticises Star Maps and Los Angeles in general.
Shame about his hair.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

New Dodos Album - Time to Die

Apparently the upcoming Dodos album has been leaked, and as a counter-measure the band has put a high quality stream of the entire album online (at timetodie.net) with the promise of digital copies on sale in two weeks. You can also sign up for their newsletter and instantly get their single "Fables" for free.
I'm really excited about this album, despite the cover art looking like what would happen if confetti could vomit. Maybe someone had a bit too much Miller Chill...

LA: in Transition

Growing up in LA, "the Valley" had a different stigma than most would expect. The concept of "Valley Girls" died out sometime in the mid-90's, that whole "privileged air-head" vibe mostly breeds in Beverly Hills or the Westside. What the Valley truly represents might be more frightening: suburbia.

The Valley is not the type of place young starving artists (read: my friends and I) would ever want to live. We live in Silverlake or Los Feliz, supporting organic markets and walking to bars that play music so familiar it might as well be from our own iPods. We live in Venice and surf on the weekends or do yoga in the sand. We live Downtown in lofts that we plaster with half-finished paintings that our peers were gonna toss. We do not live in suburbia.

But right now, it feels like LA is gearing up for another transition, similar to the phase that once made all the aforementioned locations "hip." Now that these 'hoods have existed long enough to establish an identity for themselves, most have become just as expensive as any other desirable place in LA.

We can't really predict where the next Silverlake will be, it just sort of needs to happen. And folks like myself are necessary to make it happen. Financial restraints will certainly lend guidance, but it's up to us to stick together and form the desired community in an undesirable location.

Therefore, I'm a little concerned, since "undesirable location" is certainly how I would describe the Valley. A gaggle of my college compatriots all live within a five-minute radius of each other, in shabby houses or cheap apartments on busy streets. We're on the fringe, living just outside the Leave it to Beaver blocks of working class homes. Could it be? Has the transition already begun?

A lifetime of preconceived notions seem to shout "No! Get over that hill before you're flushed into the cultural abyss!" Every time this fear strikes I indulge myself with a craigslist fix, saying to myself "You see? We could totally live in Hollywood if we look hard enough! You'll be fine, you'll be fine..."

Who knows if the Valley will turn into the bohemian hot-spot of our impoverished dreams, these things are tough to predict. But it's equally hard to erase a reputation. Maybe we just have to adopt a pioneer mentality and set up our own colony somewhere previously unexploded by like-minded youngsters.

Onward.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Stagnation

For the past year I’ve been held hostage by writer’s block, and by “writer’s block” I mean myself. I’ve (metaphorically) held a gun to my head and screamed write you fucking coward!  I worry that my thoughts are like lightning bugs trapped in a jar: they need to be released, articulated, or else they’ll rot. But I can’t pistol whip myself into creative production; all of this self-abuse hasn’t helped me perform a single definitive act. Here’s a truth that I hate: if you want something too desperately, it flees from you.

Fanny Howe says that decorating and perfecting any subject can be a way of removing all stench of the real until it becomes an astral corpse.  Meaning, over-analysis is lethal.

So what’s a girl to do?  Step 1:  remove gun from head.  Step 2: acknowledge the fine line between self-reflection and self-absorption and try not to cross it. Step 3: not to sound new-agey, but I need to leave the door of my mind open, which feels risky--what or who am I inviting inside?  Hopefully les mots juste will wander in.  And if that doesn’t happen, I’ll need to find God or start drinking more than I already do:  whatever, as long as there’s movement in any direction, up or down. 

Well, this was cathartic.  Thanks, blog.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Discovery - I Want You Back



Remember back when I said Discovery would be all up in my summer-time-soundtrack-fun-deal?

Well the buzz for their LP has been way more positive than I imagined, partially due to their undeniably awesome (and serendipitously timed) Michal Jackson cover. You can hear it in the above video.

Some are even saying that Discovery's the best electro-pop side project since the Postal Service. Sure, why not?

Give it a listen, and be sure to turn it up so you can hear the slow build.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Bat for Lashes - music vid


To be honest, I'm not really crazy about Bat for Lashes' music, but I do think this video kicks ass. I'd like to believe it's all practical FX without the aid of any computer trickery, but who knows these days...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Batman 3


If I were Batman, I'd be pretty bummed out too.

There's an ever-growing list of reasons why a third trip to Gotham City would be ill-advised, the main one being that our trusted tour guide (a.k.a. director Chris Nolan) ain't really feelin' it.

Understandably so. Dark Knight was a pretty unruly film, running over 150 minutes long with two major super-villains to wrangle. And if you don't kill the Joker off in one movie, it's sort of mandatory he be in the next (what with him being the Clown Prince of Crime and all). Let's also not forget Heath Ledger's buzz-worthy performance, and his tragic death. To say the least, recasting doesn't sound like a fun task.

Our only hope lies in Nolan's decision to take a break from Gotham and work on a new film, a blackmail thriller entitled Inception. Then he'll be totally refreshed after purging himself of all things Bat-related. Oh, wait... both Alfred and the Scare Crow are in it. The guys who played them, I mean.

Regardless of Nolan's involvement, a third Batman installment feels pretty inevitable, since most studios will pump out sequels of successful films until they die a slow and popcorn-infused death. There are all kinds of outlandish rumors circling the interweb, about Johnny Depp or Eddie Murphy playing the Riddler. You stupid, stupid interweb.

My two-cents: don't use The Riddler unless there's an incredibly original angle to it. I don't want to see another Ace Ventura in question-marked-up green spandex, nor do I feel like seeing another super villain trying to out-fox the Bat with morality puzzles. That was kinda how the Joker was dealt with, and it was a cool departure from his usual "I turned this abandoned toy factory into a slaughter house!" type of escapades.

Who do I want instead? Poison Ivy, as played by Amy Adams.

Stop your scoffing and think about it! They made the whole "evil chemistry" thing work with Scare Crow, so we're already willing to accept Ivy's crazy plant-antics (plantics?). And she's compelling as hell: she's a tree-hugger turned evil. She's green gone bad. Throw in some global warning quips and you got yourself a hot and prevalent super villianess, just in time for summer!

Maybe Wayne enterprises has something environmentally conscious in the works, and she's hired on. Then something goes terribly awry and she shifts from bookish vegan to sultry Bat-hunter! Yeah, I'll just let David Goyer figure it out.

But Amy Adams would be perfect. She excels at geeky and adorable fumbling, which would work for her alter-ego, but she can also be sexy as all hell.



I'm reminded of a scene in The Big Sleep, where that girl working at the used book store goes from bashful to bombshell in the span of twenty seconds (watch the whole smoldering scene, or just at the 2:27 mark for the transformation). Amy Adams would nail that.

Make it happen, movie gods.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Welcome Simple Pleasures

I’ve recently realized that my snobbery is cyclical. When I was young I’d watch any movie, eat at any restaurant my parents told me to. If dad liked it, I liked it. Did the movie make me laugh? Was there an explosion of fire? A great big kaboom? Nice…love that movie. Did the waiter at the restaurant bring everyone their food? Was the food as good as mom’s tuna casserole? Right on…love that restaurant. My general standards for tv were, anything that’s good enough to make it onto the TGIF Line-up must be a winner, and my guidelines for theater were, we don’t go very often, so it’s good (whether I think so or not).

That all changed mid-High School, and reached its peak by Junior year of college. What started as a marked decision to refine my artistic and epicurean palette hastily snow-balled into a full-on snobfest. Nothing would match the artistry demonstrated by “Six Feet Under”, the schizophrenic brilliance of David Lynch, the bleak insight of “Endgame” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”, and, of course, the unbeatable jalapeno-infused yellowtail sashimi at Nobu in New York. Very quickly, few things met my standards of excellence. And just as quick, my intake of the arts became massively stifled.

These days, though, all I really need is to be entertained. And my taste- my firewall of sophistication- is crashing. This means a few things. First- I love family films. I got a kick out of “The Spiderwick Chronicles”. I saw “Up” three times in theaters. I’ve recently gotten hooked on the Showtime Network flop “Dead Like Me”. In a previous entry I mentioned that I’ve enjoyed JJ Abrams’ sci-fi detective thriller “Fringe”. I saw “Away We Go” in theaters recently and had a great time. The characters were quirky and hilarious; the two leads were understated and relatable. In fact, Maya Rudolph gave a subtle and poignant performance that I didn’t see coming a mile away. This puts me in quite a minority; Rotten Tomatoes rates the film at 35.

I imagine that at some point soon I’ll overdose on “High School Musical 3” and the Cheesecake Factory and the cycle will shift again. But in the mean time, I’m quite enjoying…you know, enjoying things. Please though, if from some act of madness I end up seeing Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, find me, and slap me out of my mediocrity-loving reverie.