Thursday, July 31, 2008

Blast from the Past: The Vines

Does anyone care about the Vines anymore? Did anyone ever?

I don't think so, but I still find it hard to resist their lazy (in a good way) psychedelic-grunge regurgitations. I also insist that despite their reputation for being a horrible live band, that I saw them play a solid show back in July of 2002 at the Opera House in Toronto.

Well they've got a new album out called Melodia, which is available in North America through insound and is also streaming on myspace.

The new single, He's a Rocker [mp3] is a nice li'l ditty. Watch the video after the jump...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hollywood is threatening my borders...

Word is that 2010 will see the release of a Robocop remake, helmed by Darren Aronofsky (of Requiem for a Dream and The Fountain).

This is sacred ground they're treading on. Paul Verhoeven's Robocop has got to be one of my all time favorites. But at least they've got a quality director on the project of "reimagining" the film. From MTV movie news:
Their new "Robocop" is a reboot along the lines of Batman Begins.

"None of [the earlier films are] going to be canonical, as a matter of fact," Fischer revealed. "I wouldn't say it's a direct sequel."
My guess, with Aronofsky on board, is that it will be a lot darker than the 1987 film, especially since they're already jumping for the Batman Begins/The Dark Knight comparisons (look out for an action noir renaissance people!).

In any case, the new film won't be able to touch the hilarious satire of the first film. Check out one of its genius mock commercials:

So, really, this remake doesn't scare me. What is else there to say... but, "Bitches leave." Oh Clarence Boddicker, you rapscallion.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Animal Planet Goes Awry

Weekly Teinou brings you wild weirdities from the animal planet...

Leopard Mauls Alligator: via

Monkey-Faced Pig Born in China: via Ananova

Wild Deer Interrupts Morning Espresso in Italy: via

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Golden Age in Television Drama?

Honoring the season premiere of "Mad Men" that aired last night, I put together a little timeline using dipity.

See the big picture over here.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Rock Challenge - Remote Edition [Vol. 2]

Favorite Song Resuscitated by a Quentin Tarantino Movie.

1. Bobby Womack - Across 110th Street (from Jackie Brown)
2. Nancy Sinatra - Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) (from Kill Bill Vol. 1)
3. April March - Chick Habit (from Death Proof)

Follow link below for more info:

Tarantino has a knack for putting together amazing soundtracks to his movies. I heard him say he uses popular tunes because he doesn't trust a composer to come up with something as good. Either way, I think he has done well to expose people to music that they either never knew or that they'd forgotten about completely. These three are some of my favorites because they work so well within the movies, and on their own.

Not yet familiar with the Rock Challenge? Check out Volume 1 (complete with history and pseudo-instructions)

Basically, just take a listen to the songs in consecutive order (right click to download) and then pick one that sticks out based on whatever criteria you see fit (on the poll in the top right of the page).

Vote Mookie... not Wilson or Blaylock?

I don't usually watch "Canadian Idol" or "American Idol" or "Dancing with the Stars" or "So You Think You Can Dance?"....

It's not because I'm an "Ed McMahon's Star Search" stalwart. It's because I find the whole talent pageant thing stale and way too cheesy (minus any kind of ingratiating, nudge-wink camp factor). And when this trend blows over, these shows are so going to date the 2000s and make us groan in embarrassment (they already have if you've caught the "American Idol" recap shows).

And even more than that, I just usually find the contestants way too earnest and posey.

Follow the link below to read and see more:

But that's all been thrown on its head by a contestant on this season's "Candadian Idol". Mookie Morris from Toronto (in full discolsure, who's brother I went to university with).

Mookie, who's real name is Peter but got his nickname from the famed Toronto Blue Jays player Mookie Wilson, is the antidote to all the phony-baloney "rockers" that have been featured on these kinds of shows. Sleezoid D-bags like Daughtry who's rock pedigree is built on regurgitating post-grunge rip off artists like Fuel, designer stressed t-shirts, and bad facial hair.

Mookie is actually cool without trying to be cool. He's got some nice snarly vocals (without trying to sound like Eddie Vedder) and instead of looking tortured, he actually looks like he's having fun. Remember Chuck Berry anybody? Remember Rock n' Roll?

He's got good taste too, as he's been performing songs like "Twist n' Shout", "Valerie" by Mark Ronson via The Zutons, "These Eyes" by The Guess Who, and "Naive" by the Kooks (clip below, song starts at 1:07).

Proving Mookie's impressiveness, I think this Monday will see the unlikely event of me actually voting on one of these talent shows. Do the same yourself. Vote Mookie! (Next show's on Monday July 28th at 9pm).

Song of the Week: Sigur Ros

Although it wasn't released to much fanfare, I want to make it known that the new Sigur Rós album, Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust ("With a Buzz in Our Ears We Play Endlessly"), is wonderful.

Their last album Takk was a bit underwhelming, and () was a bit exhausting, but this new record brings them back to the brilliance of Ágætis byrjun.

Listen to Track 2 off the album and I'm sure you'll be convinced: "Inní mér syngur vitleysingur" (mp3)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Creepy Chuck E. Cheese Animatronics Make Love (in the club)

Have you seen this?!

I'm haunted by Rolfe DeWolfe and Mitzi Mozzarella all over again. This video perfectly perpetuates the love/hate relationship I had with these possessed robotimals in my childhood.

And in addition to Usher's "Make Love in the Club", you can watch the Rock-afire crew syncing to the White Stripes, MGMT, and Shakira. And there's a documentary (of questionable quality) coming as well.

Check out the Detroit News article to learn the story behind these creepers.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Antidotes: The Mowercycle

I need (to make?) one of these.

It's the more environmentally friendly choice and another added bonus of the push/ride mower is that: "the knife-like cutting action is better for the lawn than a rotary-blade power model."

Get to it MacGyvers. Via Neatorama.

Backyard Theater: Batman Begins

I almost forgot to update you guys on my foray into backyard movie exhibition.

Last Saturday (July 12th), one week before the release of the now legendary The Dark Knight, I hosted a Batman Anticipation Party. For the party, I fulfilled a long gestating dream and set up un petit cinema in my backyard for a screening under the stars.

There were no stars, but luckily the rain held off, and overall it was a success.

First we battled over Batman trivia, then we watched a wonderfully dated reel of drive-in concession stand commercials (my favorite is the one for movie pickles).

Next, I threw on a compilation of the trailers for all of the previous Batman movies, and finally we sat in awe of the TDK extended trailer. The main event was Batman Begins, a fitting primer for sure.

That was all set up on my laptop (using powerpoint, idvd, and quicktime) which I connected to a standard office video projector and a couple of speakers.

I set up the screen by attaching two old vinyl signs together which I then staple-gunned to three wood posts that I drove into the ground. Then I fastened a large sheet of black-out cloth to the signs (usually used behind curtains to protect them from the sun) with self-adhesive velcro to give the screen a smooth look. It ended up looking really good with almost zero imperfections in the image.

The photos (sort of) give you an idea what it was like:

I highly suggest you bring this idea into your own backyard/neighborhood. Let's stand for community rather than retreating into our personal home theaters!

If you want some more hints, definitely check out the great website/messageboard The awesome people who contribute really gave me the jumpstart I needed to put my urges for outdoor cinema into practice.

Friday, July 18, 2008

TDK: Early Review

click to enlarge image (ie. put this on your desktop now)
I saw The Dark Knight last night.

I've been waiting and thinking about this movie since August 1st 2007, and it doesn't disappoint one bit.

Brace yourself because this movie is... well, it's... it's a symphony, it's intense, it's an opera, it's bladerunner, it's frank miller, it's relentless, it's punk rock, it's joyless, it's dangerous, it's citizen kane, it's heath ledger, it's menacing, it's christopher nolan, it's an epic, it's frightening, it's an addict, it's moving, it's heat, it's black, it's enrapturing... it's one of the best movies i've ever seen.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

TDK Mixtape

If The Dark Knight was a person, what kind of person would he be?

First off, yes, it would be a "he". And we know his favourite colour would be black, so your next question would probably be: what music does he listen to?

Here's the answer to that burning question. The Dark Knight's playlist:

Listen to the mixtape HERE and the entire songs on (this nifty site seems a bit buggy, try switching your browser if it doesn't work straight away).

You can also sample TDK's tunes on this imeem player, but some songs are only 30sec long:

The Dark Knight's Mixtape (follow link to imeem to listen to full tracks - must be registered)

I got this idea from my friend over at his Nurture. Check out his take on it, where he connects brand identity to the idea of individual's defining oneself by the music they listen to.

It really does seem more and more that people have a need to publicize their music tastes (eg. myspace likes, ipod parties, etc). And the amount of media attention Barack Obama's recent ipod revelation is testament to how one's ipod has become serious cultural currency.

But still, no matter how this inclination to broadcast taste is manipulated by politicians and/or corporations, I think it's still coming from a pretty great place. It stems from that incontrovertible essence of music as a collective medium that is best appreciated communally. Big record companies might try to force us to believe that music is a personal endeavor that should be savored in the privacy of our bedrooms, as they did in the 80s and 90s or at an officially sanctioned concert in a hockey arena, but technology is making it easier to re-invigorate music's shared capacities.

Technology like... (wiki entry), which apparently isn't likely to be shut down any time soon, since it's more about sharing discovery in music rather than wanton accumulation of mp3s.

And by the way, I know you were wondering... what's TDK's favourite movie? Batman Begins. Despite being a manic loner, he values family a great deal.

Let's Get Nuts: Arnold Shwarzenegger Ed.

just try to avert your eyes

Shit is weird in this world. So don't try and deny it.

Photocredit for this goes out to Tin-Kin Hung. I found it on Weekly Teinou.

The video below is another example of the kind of mad hyperreality that the governor of California is capable of spawning. It's a commercial from Japan for... what else, but insanity:

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

4 Reasons I Hate Pixar:

4) Everybody else loves Pixar...

It's no surprise that Pixar's latest release, WALL-E, has garnered breathless praise from most mainstream critics. With a Metacritic score of 93 and a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 97% fresh, the film carries on the tradition of Pixar's critic proof productions.

Some typical quotations from the suffocatingly positive reviews:
"The best American film of the year to date." - Ty Burr, Boston Globe
Mixing Chaplinesque delicacy with the architectural grandeur of a Stanley Kubrick film..." - Liam Lacey, Globe & Mail
WALL-E is a classic..." - David Denby, The New Yorker
You leave WALL-E with a feeling of the rarest kind: that you've just enjoyed a close encounter with an enduring classic." - Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

Of Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, and Ratatouille, only Cars received less than glowing reviews from the critic herd.

And it's not just movie critics either, I dare you to tell anyone that you're not a fan of Pixar films and you'll bound to be the subject of a dirty look or even dirtier words. And since I tend to be suspicious of things that are almost unanimously loved, all this Pixar love drives me a little batty. I never really liked Michael Jordan or U2 either.

And no, I haven't seen WALL-E yet, and it might be a great piece of film, but I if it follows the pattern of Pixar movies, it likely is less than what it is praised to be, and more than what it pretends to be.

3) Pixar loves themselves too much...

The self-congratulatory attitude that runs through much of Pixar's films and marketing produces more smug than George Clooney in his electric car. For an example, check out this teaser promo for WALL-E:

Look at us, we're creative geniuses. We come up with multiple enduring classics over lunch (organic burgers, of course).

Notice as they pat themselves on the back they leave out the NASCAR/Mattel feature length advertisement Cars, or Ratatouille for that matter, which came from the mind of Jan Pinkava who was taken off the project half-way through the film in favor of favourite son Brad Bird.

According to NPR's Bill Wyman, it seems like WALL-E lets Pixar's smugness congeal even more, as its second half unfurls a diatribe on the ills of our consumerist society. Not that I think that that sort of criticism is unfounded, but it's quite another thing to bury that aspect of the film. It's typical of a production house that thinks the world of itself to call a film a "robot love story" when it's also an elitist dystopic save-the-earth parable.

2) Pixar doesn't love kids...

I'm being too harsh, right? They're just a bunch of big ol' kids who do it for the kids, for the kids goddamit. WRONG-E. Fat guys in Hawaiian shirts or not, these Pixar dudes don't love kids, or at least their movies don't.

This might be the most fundamental confusion about Pixar movies. These are not kids movies that parents can sit through. Pixar makes grown-up movies that parents don't feel guilty about letting their kids watch.

You can see the difference in the marketing, in the sly humor, and in the films financial successes. For there'd be no way these films would be as popular and ubiquitous as they are if it wasn't for the undying allegiances they promote in adults.

Another big clue as to the Pixar point of view, is the unfortunate fact that they routinely cast children as villains in their films. Take for example Sid Phillips wanton destruction of toys in Toy Story or the obnoxious Buddy Pine's transformation into the malevolent Syndrome in The Incredibles.

This point was brought to my attention by my film professor, who makes the important point that it's pretty irresponsible to make purportedly kid-friendly entertainment that vilifies some of the children it represents.

1) I don't love Pixar movies...

Probably the most immediate reason I hate Pixar is the fact that I find their films generally tedious and underwhelming. The Incredibles was a solid, if a bit hollow, superhero movie and I didn't mind Ratatouille despite its snobbery, but that was pretty much because I was hungry. Other than that, I have either walked out of or turned off all of their other films.

Maybe I'm going to love WALL-E when I check it out (which I most likely will), but I'll have to wade through a sea of this Pixar baggage to get to a point where I'll be comfortable with tagging any Pixar film as "classic".

The Knack of... Matt Furie

The other day I was browsing through T-shirts online and I came across a wicked weird artist named Matt Furie (his website).

Sample some of his cute, cuddly and profoundly disturbing work. It might make you drool into your throat. (click to enlarge)

Friday, July 04, 2008


"It's not a boy... or a girl" = F+
- Solid scare tactics, probably a bit too blunt and maudlin for the cheetos loving kids of today.

Plunge into the contemporary counterparts...

"Insect Fetishists Wet Dream" = C+
- Memorably meaningless, but might appeal too much to the nihilistic crowd.

"Genitalia Odyssey" = A+
- Verging on art porn (and reminiscent of Murakami), simultaneously glorifies and creepifies sex for youngsters.

The contemporary ads were produced by the French Association, AIDES.

Here's a couple far-out animated commercials from the same group at Shedwa blog.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Watch out! The Dark Knight Looms Overhead...

This marketing campaign is out of control...

(and what the heck is that multicolored sockish thing hanging from the wire?)

Collisions in the Real

As we move out of the noughts and into the 10s or the teens, 'the now' seems to be developing a few definitive character traits. One of which that is emerging is the invasion of childhood fantasies into the real - whether it's life imitating art or vice versa.

While religious fundamentalism, terrorism, natural disasters, the oil panic, and the food shortage crisis are dominating socio-polit-economic concerns, a remarkable number of people/artists are transforming their real worlds into fantastic ones that hearken back to their childhoods.

In an era where superhero movies like The Dark Knight and Hancock go to great lengths to make the division between fantasy and reality seamless, there is some kind of need out there to invest in magic and make believe having a place in our physical world. It's no surprise then either, that the biggest literary phenomenon of the last decade is the Harry Potter series, which cast its spell on adults as much as children. [Read Rachel Abromowitz's article in the LA Times for more dissection of the current superhero trend in film.]

Lately I've noticed a bunch of art-work floating around the internet that speaks to this psych-aesthetic. I've collected a few examples below:

Retro Video Games Invade the Physical World
Retronoob, aka Lee Vidal, merges such classics as Street Fighter and Mario Kart into natural landscape photography.

Kids Drawings as Photographs
Photographer Yeonjoo Dung creates elaborate, posed photos based on children's crayon drawings. Via boingboing

Kids Animal Drawings as Stuffed Toys
Lizette Greco and family "create sewn art and artifacts based on the drawings of our two children using only thrifted and recycled materials." Via Drawn!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Happy Canada Day!

Sing along to the Canadian national anthem with ex-Deadly Snake Andre Ethier:

Andre Ethier the Canadian musician/painter meets Andre Ethier the Brooklyn Dodgers outfielder.

To hear the behind-the-scenes story from Andre himself, take a listen to this episode of the Hot Dog Log Jam podcast (around the 9min50sec mark). Complete with details of Andre getting amorous with fellow anthemeer Lisa Loeb!

So if you can't think of anything to do this Canada day, then just throw some Deadly Snakes on your portable music machine and head to the local cinema to check out more deadly Canuck cameos in the The Incredible Hulk.