Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Happy Birthday, Matt Chester


We made this video a while ago as a silly joke, and some of the comments got pretty intense.

He's so handsome, and doesn't he know it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Failure Pile in a Sadness Bowl


I've just learned about the KFC Double-Down sandwich, and I must share it with the world.

Does a cheese and bacon sandwich sound good to you? Did I mention it comes with a yellowish condiment of some kind? No, it's not mustard, it's a vague substance called "Colenel Sauce." Still not appetizing? Okay, fine: what if instead of using bread, you used two pieces of fried chicken? Boom. KFC Double-Down.

Let's have a contest: first person to finish eating it without their heart stopping wins!

There's really nothing that hasn't already been said about this sort of thing, but sweet lord do I really want Patton Oswalt to give his thoughts.

Just to add to the overall awe-inspiring nature of this food-type item, the TV commercial profiles a bunch of hungry bros who are sick of all that bread 'n shit on their fuckin' sammiches, yo! Where can I get some food that shows I ain't no pussy?


Your slogan is "unthink?" Hell yeah! Thinking is for dweebs! (Does KFC know that "unthink" means "to dismiss," therefore telling me to ignore their food?)

Even Dennis, the prison guard who got drunk in the hospital waiting room with Don Draper, thinks that this sandwich is the greatest! That's right, I can connect this sandwich back to Don Friggin' Draper, the pinnacle of all manhood! What are we waiting for? Let's eat!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Battle of the Beards Commences



The Battle of the Beards ended last night, with both parties congenially calling a draw and shaving at the same time. Naturally, this meant a facial-hair-photo-shoot was in order.


Phase One: The Modern Goatee - Traditionally, a goatee consisted solely of hair on the chin, but most people today include a mustache in the definition.
David really wanted to get rid of that pesky mid-cheek area, in order to hide his lack of connectors. To compensate, he really let those sideburns shine.
Note the fullness of Matt's goatee, allowing it to encompass his warm, supple lips.


Phase Two: The Imperiale - Traditionally defined as a mustache with a "soul patch" of any size.
Matt looks like Wild Bill Hickok or an extra from a Buster Keaton film, while David looks like Inigo Montoya or an extra from Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End (you know, the movie where you left the theater saying "I can't believe I got my hopes up for that one").

Phase Three: The Mustache - Burt Reynolds. Geraldo Rivera. Tom Selleck. Creepy Uncles You're Not Sure How You're Related To But You Just Go With It. The Mustache has an illustrious history, and we're proud to stand in the bristly shadow of greatness.

Yes, the contest is complete, and from looking at these pictures I think we all came out winners. That includes even you, dear reader.

Stop-Motion

Good Lord, I love stop-motion; it's not the most difficult effect to achieve, but it does take obsessive patience. Any film-making amateur who has the will can create something that looks magical.

Here are some of my current faves:

First, Jan Svankmajer: please watch every short and feature-length film this man has made. His work is absurd, terrifying, beautiful and horribly depressing: welcome to the Czech Republic! Almost all of his art takes a not so subtle jab at the smothering routine of life in a communist country.


Seriously, watching all of these films made me excited to go study abroad in CR--what's wrong with me?

Some more recent stuff that is also sweet (none of this comes close to Svankmajer's art...but it's pretty!):


And, because orchids are my favorite flower:


And this final one is an ad (picture me sneering) but I will tamp down my moral objections to consumerism or America or camera companies or whatever it is that I object to because this is just straight AWESOMESAUCE:


Insert Coin

Insert Coin from vurup on Vimeo.


Animation students from Argentina, Mexico, and Columbia team up to create something that blows most American student films out of the embargoed water. They call themselves Vurup, and I'll be keeping an eye on them.

Miranda July - Extras

This is something special. Miranda July is an artist who meticulously recreates the costumes of extras from various films, and does her best to pose exactly like them. It's pretty entertaining, check it out over at Booooooom, and then type in the secret password (you know it already) to check out Miranda's website.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Web Oddities: Childhood


Some things that amaze and dumbfound, all loosely related to childhood, found on the ever-inspiring Internet.


I'm getting a pretty good education in all things nerdy at my Marvel Animation job. One thing my generation got shafted on: Ultraman. Instead we got the much watered down Power Rangers. Ultraman likes to rip the ears off his opponents and wave them around, taunting them. Those Japanese really know how to make kid's shows.




Hey! It's Gooby! He loves hanging upside down and talking about "letting it rip!" He also loves falling over! And eating! And sledding down hills with his over-imaginative schoolboy friend! Just don't let evil professor Eugine Levy catch him! Maybe singing about invisible things will stop Eugine dead in his tracks! Oh Gooby, you're such a delightful scamp!



I have some vivid memories of lying on my couch when I was younger, with my head dangling over the side, looking up at the ceiling and pretending it was the floor. Whenever a family member would walk in I'd shout "you're upside down!" I remember wishing I could actually build an upside-down house. Leave it to the Germans.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Where The Wild Hipsters Buy Things



I work with a lot of dudes in their mid-to-late-thirties, and it's weird how quickly we can shift from complete agreement with each other to sheer bafflement at our discordant opinions. We all really enjoyed Flash Gordon, yet they all think Jurassic Park is a terrible film. Really stupid stuff like that.

One day, Spike Jonzes' adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are came up. As you may already know, I'm pretty pumped about this film. I loved the book and think that Jonze has both integrity and talent. His fear of CG effects and use of enormous costume/puppet hybrids made me think he'd gain points in the eyes of my coworkers. Not so.

Essentially, it all comes down to that decade of difference. My formative years were the nineties, theirs were the eighties. I'm fully embracing the current independent music trend, while they see it as a bastardization of something more pure that they experienced. They might be right, but all of us were kids who couldn't connect with what MTV had to offer, so we looked elsewhere. We just did it in different years.

Simply put: I am the exact demographic for Where the Wild Things Are. Show me a lonely kid with an over-imaginative mind and you've piqued my interest, but throw some Arcade Fire over that and I'm suddenly melting in the palm of your hand. The thirty-somethings won't have the same reaction. They missed the boat, never to sail off through night and day and in and out of weeks, almost over a year to where the wild things are.

Urban Outfitters promoting an entire clothing line and bizarre costume shenanigans inspired by the film gives my coworkers ample ammunition against my generation and I. Maybe it's a little cringe-worthy to see such pandering to the enclave of indie/hipster youths, but it's also damn good marketing. Major motion pictures will always have merch, and this seems like an obvious pairing.

Another decade will pass, and when I'm thirty I might be having a very similar conversation with some young P.A.s. They'll probably be pumped about the impending film adaptation of Captain Underpants, with a completely electronic score and accompanying motion-graphic t-shirts that light up. I hope I'll possess the hindsight not to scoff.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

TV and Twenty-Somethings



All of the above images were taken from the most recent iTunes e-newsletter, promoting their "Fall TV Spotlight."

I was overwhelmed by the amount of slinky twenty-somethings lounging around/on top of each other, as if there's some sort of nudist-inducing-mono epidemic ("I'm so tired, maybe taking off the extra weight of my clothes will help.") Vampire Diaries and Real World Cancun are tied for most bare skin per pixel.

This isn't a post about how these shows signify the downfall of pop culture, simply because these shows are nothing new. Pretty people are fun to look at, it's always been that simple. Sex will never stop selling.

But to all you TV producers and executives out there (who read this blog fervently, no doubt), take note: twenty-somethings have so much more to offer.

Yes, we are glistening and vernal, which are traits worthy of romanticising, but we're also quirky as all hell. We fumble around adulthood like we're riding without our training wheels for the first time, and while it's not always pretty, it's mostly hilarious. We're genuine in our dream-chasing and heartfelt in our interactions, and therefore we're failing constantly. That's also mostly hilarious.

And although we're doing it all sans designer clothing, I won't be changing the channel anytime soon.



Sunday, September 13, 2009

This Week's Guilty Pleasures

1.  Soulless Music

Today's specimen:

Jejune lyrics, heavy synth, and it's MSTRKRFT. This is not "Un bel di" from Madame Butterfly; you won't listen to this song and experience any emotionally induced heart palpitations. But you will unconsciously sing the line, "Remember when you caught my eye? You gave me rainbows and butterflies" all day until you want to seppuku.

2. Genki Crepe

Ice cream. Strawberries. Whipped Cream. Nutella. Cheesecake. Weight Gain. Arterial Plaque. Premature Death. Devastated Family. Wasted Potential.

3. Drunk Self-Portraits Taken On Your Computer At 3AM Wherein You Pretend To Be Both Coy And Dubious.

Tuesday's specimen:











4. Time Eating Websites

Sorry friends, I can't hang out with you tonight because I need to spend more time on my writing AKA look at shit like this for an hour:

Aesthetically Awesome But Emotionally Vapid Music videos on Vimeo. I should probably just file this into the Soulless Music category.

This week's specimen:

Major Lazer "Pon De Floor" from Eric Wareheim on Vimeo.

Directed by Eric of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! Need I elaborate?  

I really want to send this to my old Women's Studies professor and get her reaction. I'd also like to discuss why the yellow-mohawked guy in the video uses the moniker "Domestic Violence." Just call me Domestic Violence. For real sir?

Also, these things are distracting me:

Everything Is Terrible

Zach Galifianakis

I want to see more of the world why aren't I traveling I should get on a plane right now and just go I could do anything I'm young white and over twenty-one the possibilities are endless kind of overwhelming actually I think I'll just make some lavender chamomile tea and call it a fucking night

That's all for this week.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Battle of the Beards - Week 3

Week 3 - Matt Schwartz is kicking my ass. Although he started a couple days ahead of me, there's no denying his beard comes in thicker. Matt threatens to nickname me "Patches," because there are quite a few places on my face that hair just doesn't grow. For example, note how I lack connecters from my Zorro mustache to the rest of my beard. I also was told shaving my neck might make things look better. Bad advice, it made me look like I had a chinstrap.

I'm definitely gonna last till the 22nd, because that was my initial promise, but then I think I'm ready to leave this patchiness behind me.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

9


At 9:09 last night, I saw an advanced screening of the film 9. While I certainly enjoyed watching it, I couldn't help but leave the theater feeling like I'd been duped.

As I mentioned before, this film definitely has a unique visual style that sets it apart from most of the CG we see today. The steampunk aesthetic doesn't get much mainstream attention (as is the case with most sub-genres of science fiction), but I appreciated the intricate and impossible technology in this film, resembling a dark extrapolation of something out of a Jules Vernes novel. You can tell that (creator/writer/director) Shane Acker loves this stuff, and he put a lot of attention into every design. So much, in fact, that I began to suspect the plot existed purely to serve the visuals and not the other way around.

While there are some impressive action sequences, they slowly start to feel repetitive and lose their immediacy, especially since I was never quite sure why I cared about these potato-sack creatures. They hop around saying things with great conviction, and I kept waiting to buy it. Things get unintentionally ironic in the last act, when we find out that machines turned evil because they lack a human soul - a weird sentiment from a film that's all computer wizardry and little emotional investment.

Even more disappointing are the moments in which we see what could have been. When #9 (voiced by the ever-breathy Elijah Wood) finds the dead body of the scientist who created him, essentially a fallen god, he does little more than politely pat the corpse on the head. Meanwhile, #1 (voiced by the ever-awesome Christopher Plummer) gets off the hook far too easily, and his cruel dictatorship (and silly bishop hat) never really get dealt with. Essentially, the film brushes over anything that could have lent some depth or gravity.

In a lot of ways, 9 feels like a shallower Wall-E: a post-apocalyptic tale that isn't warning us about anything, but at one point felt obligated to. You know, through that thing called a "plot." So while I can applaud the daring production design, I'm disappointed I was lead to believe the entire film would be equally unique.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Tell Mr. Man With Impossible Plans To Just Leave Me Alone

If I could ask everyone I know two personal (verging on intrusive) questions, they would be: Do you connect specific songs with emotionally explosive periods of your life? and Which songs?

I went to a bar this week where they were playing a lot of Jawbreaker and Jets To Brazil—two bands that I listened to pretty compulsively when I was sixteenish.  I’m having a major Nostalgia Fest and rediscovering all of my old Emo favorites from sophomore year of high school.  Man, I sure did feel a lot of feelings in 2002…unlike now.

There are some songs that I’m just not ready to hear again.  I may never be ready.   Example: Elliott Smith – Waltz #2.

I’m never gonna know you now
but I’m gonna love you anyhow.

Ok, yes, this song is meant to stomp the listener’s heart to a pulpy mess. The album “XO” should be renamed “Background Music For Your Suicide Attempt.” Combine the inherently depressive aspects of Elliott Smith’s life and music with the inherently depressive aspects of being sixteen and you create a terrible Pavlovian effect; for the rest of my life, whenever I hear Waltz #2, it will trigger a tsunami of sad in my brain and I’ll feel small and insignificant as a fruit bat (not to hate on fruit bats) and I’ll start salivating…from my eyes.

But for real, sixteen wasn’t all existential alienation and unrequited love; there was joy too.  That summer I went to France with my best friend and we both became obsessed with Bright Eyes' You Will. You? Will. You? Will. You? Will at the same time.  


Now I write when I'm away,
letters that you'll never read.
You said go explore those other women,
the geography of their bodies,
but there's just one map you'll need.
You're a boomerang you'll see.
You will return to me.

(wait for 2:32.  Just wait for it.  It gets me every time)

Dear Everyone I Know: if you don’t want to tell me about the song you were listening to when grandma passed away or whatever, can you at least tell me what you were into when you were sixteen?  

p.s.  I have a mix tape (R.I.P mix tapes) from freshman year and there are not one, but TWO songs by Nelly on it.  It also features Shaggy's It Wasn't Me.  


Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Death of Pandora

As I write this, I'm enjoying my last free hour of Pandora - the website that crafts radio stations based on your personal taste. Pandora was one of the few redeeming things on the internet, a true beacon of hope glimmering in a sea of filthy groping and "Fred" videos. Soon my profile and stations will expire, unless I feel like making monthly payments.

Let's face it, Pandora: you ain't worth it. Recently you've just been playing me the same old songs, and instead of discovering new artists similar to the ones I like, you're just showing me crappier wannabe bands. Maybe you're just holding a mirror up to my narrow taste, is that why you play the Strokes on almost every station I create? What can I say? It's a hot sound, the kids dig it!

Regardless, my iTunes "Genius" feature has been doing a better job of giving me diversity, and that's only using the 4,000 songs in my library, instead of the vast amount Pandora can pluck from the Music Genome project. I'll stick to perusing music blogs to get my free listens.

I guess the name "Pandora" finally makes sense now. What I thought was a shiny music box filled with (free) merriment turned out to be one of the many "burdens of men" in disguise: a ploy for my wallet. Next time Epimetheus should really trust Prometheus about wedding gifts from Zeus. Okay, maybe that part doesn't apply here.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

August

Have you ever had one of those months where it feels like someone could come up behind you with a sword and hack your head off and it would float like a balloon up into the thermosphere?

That was August.

I don't mean to say that my life is empty.  I just feel absurdly relaxed.  And when I'm relaxed, I get lazy.  And when I get lazy, there is no blogging.  

Apropos of nothing:

There's this Orthodox Jew who lives at the corner of Castro and Market AKA Homo Central.  I see him all the time when I'm walking down 18th.  We observe each other as if there were a pane of glass between us.  So, like, what is his deal?  Is he there to save souls or is he discreetly and guiltily spitting mad game once the sun goes down? Thoughts? 

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Battle of the Beards - Week 2


Matt Schwartz and David Kantrowitz are competing to see who can last the longest without shaving. It's a battle of endurance, will-power, and above all: manhood.

Please note: there's no coverage of week one, things weren't official yet.

Let's hear from the combatants:

David:
Matt can't shave until the 22nd because of his role in the upcoming sci-fi-religious-epic film "Priest." It's only been two weeks, and Matt can't stop itching and complaining. I remember back in college when we tried to take part in Manuary (not shaving for the entire month of January,) Matt chickened out pretty quick. To be fair, I chickened out a week after him, but I still think I got this in the bag.

Matt:
I've consulted with leading industry professionals (my friends who are girls) and have, at their suggestion, purchased an exfoliator, an astringent, and a moisturizer. One night of use and the itching has subsided ever so slightly. I've got the look, the full facial coverage, and now the women's skin products to win this thing. And I intend to.

May the best man win, and may the manliest be the best.

Photos pending!