Thursday, October 27, 2005

Review: Superbeautifulmonster (Bif Naked)

Latest by Bif Naked, and it's nice. I'll admit to being a bit flat on 'Purge', her sophomore effort, but this one hits a lot of the same notes that 'I, Bificus' did. Very much in the mode of Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, and other female vocalists who weren't afraid to display emotions beyond "love" and "worrying about the man you love". She's capable of showing anger ("Let-Down", which is a snarky anthem for every garage-band kid in America), sorrow (an excellent cover of "Nothing Else Matters"--I hated covers when I was a teenager, but I've come completely to the opposite view and think that a good cover song is a thing of beauty), and she's not afraid to admit that she's got a sex drive as healthy as most guys. ("Funeral for a Good Grrl" contains a few lines that made me blush--"I don't want your diamonds/just a necklace of pearls" and "You be the kid and I'll be the candy store" being two of them.)

And "The World Is Over" is a song so damn good that it should be playing hourly on every radio station in America.

So, yeah, this is another very good album from a very good artist. Go. Buy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

L'Esprit D'Escalier

I didn't get a chance to say this at the time, but to the woman who wrote the column in my college newspaper, back when I was a student, talking about how everyone was too quick to label independent woman as "angry", and who wrote the line: "Everyone's talking about Alanis Morrisette as an 'angry young woman' just because she wrote about having flies in your champagne"...

No, dear, I think it was the one about "Every time I scratch my nails down someone else's back I hope you feel it" that got her labeled as an 'angry young woman'.

Nice to finally get that off my chest.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Great Bad Movie Lines, #3

Not so much a bad line as a bad delivery, really. In 'Day of the Dead', the helicopter pilot is rebelling against the evil (well, not so much evil as cracking under the pressure) soldiers. One of them pulls a gun on him, but the leader realizes that the helicopter pilot is the only one who can fly them out of there, and stills his men with the command, "Wait. We need his ass."

Unfortunately, he doesn't say, "We need his ass," suggesting that they can't do without him and have to keep him alive. No, he says, "We need his ass," suggesting that perhaps the remaining body parts are expendable, but that fine ass of his is just too important to lose.

It's not much surprise that the pilot makes a run for it, really.

Friday, October 21, 2005


Yes, two Transformers references in three posts. I'm on fire!

Watched 'Land of the Dead' for the second time last night, and I'm still struck at how the whole thing is a huge allegory for the need for the working classes to revolt and set up a communist society inside the United States. You have the two sets of underclasses, the living (led by a white guy) and the dead (led by a black guy) set against each other in an irreconcilable conflict so that neither side will notice how they're both exploited by the rich. Cholo (John Leguizamo) is someone trying to get ahead by doing the rich's dirty work, but he'll never get anywhere because he's Hispanic and the rich are all racist under the skin.

Eventually the whole system breaks down. Cholo tries blackmail and terrorism, but these tactics are morally reprehensible because they threaten the underclass he should be supporting, and fail. Only when he dies (and joins the underclass in spirit as well as body--"I always wanted to see how the other half lives") can he truly make progress in the People's Struggle. Meanwhile, the living and the dead set aside their differences and slaughter the true source of all evil--the rich. Once that's completed, the dead leave the living in peace and the underclasses prepare to live a new live in their socialist Utopia.

It's a blatantly obvious reading--I'm just amazed he was able to get away with it.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Light Posting...

...because of floods, home repairs, 52-hour workweeks, and if there's a plague of locusts headed towards the Midwest, you now know why. Will get back up to speed later, assuming no meteor strikes.

Monday, October 10, 2005


Anyone remember these guys? From 'Transformers: the Movie', made out of discarded bits of other robots, leader voiced by Eric Idle (as part of a surprisingly star-studded cast that included Leonard Nimoy, Orson Welles, and Robert Stack...OK, it's surprising for a movie about "robots in disguise")...but the main thing was the way they talked. Just as they were made up of discarded junk, so too was their entire culture, the way they spoke and acted, made up of nothing more than discarded one-liners, old pop culture references, and quotes from TV shows and movies.

Sometimes I think we're turning into them.

Only without the ability to turn into a motorcycle and also with way too few laser guns.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Partial Review: Hitch-Hiker's Guide

Watched as much of the 2005 film as I could stand (up through the scene where all the main characters meet on the Heart of Gold), and so, here's a review.

The facetious version: Watching this movie unfold is like being a pregnant woman, going into labor and being wheeled into the delivery room, fully aware of the magnificent potential of the nascent and beautiful life to come...only to have the nurse say, "Your regular doctor is unavailable, so we've brought in Leatherface to deliver your baby. He knows a lot about anatomy, right?"

The lengthier, more accurate version: It's like watching the real Hitch-hiker's Guide movie, as re-enacted the next morning by the guys around the office who were pretty drunk when they saw it, aren't necessarily sober now, and don't remember it really well. The film tries to "improve" on the original (in all its various forms) by botching punchlines, snipping those long talky bits in favor of a romance between Arthur and Trillian, taking great descriptions and turning them into unfunny sight gags, and then having the whole thing be performed by a cast of actors who wouldn't be able to make the cut in a high school production of 'Our Town'.

Martin Freeman completely misdelivers one of the best lines in the story ("We've met") so thoroughly that you have to believe it was on purpose as a means of showing his contempt for the other actors, Mos Def delivers each line as though he expects the director, at any moment, to shout "ACTION!", and I'm firmly convinced that Sam Rockwell is trying to kill me, using his acting as the murder weapon so that the police won't suspect him. His delivery of the line, "Hey baby, is this guy boring you? Why don't you come and talk to me, I'm from another planet," is eye-bleedingly, tooth-grindingly, hideously, Shatnerianly bad, and he just gets worse from there. Zooey Deschanel is decent enough as Trillian, but her character has suffered the most from being rewritten, to the point where we're actually supposed to believe that a smart, clever, witty woman usually asks guys she's just met 15 minutes ago at a party to quit their job, sell their home, and travel to Madagascar with them...and thinks the guy's boring when he doesn't do it. Yeah, something tells me that's a recipe for perpetual disappointment.

Oh, and Marvin looks like a stormtrooper who's just swallowed a weather balloon.

I'm still of the opinion that a good Hitch-hiker's movie can be made. But this is as far from it as you can possibly get short of having it be a one-man show starring Carrot Top.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Actual Review: Hitch-Hiker's Guide

Thoughts, in no particular order:

1) This is talking about the six-episode BBC series from 1981, not the recently-released movie. Don't have much interest in the recently-released movie, probably will never bother to see it. It's not exactly to the book what 'I, Robot' was to Asimov, but I was a bit underwhelmed by the bits I saw nonetheless.

2) Sandra Dickinson is probably the single biggest factor in dragging this series down...but it's not really her fault. She's been saddled with an outfit that makes her look like one of Ming the Merciless' concubines, her hair is just relentlessly 80s in a painful way, and the director has told her to deliver all her lines in an American accent that a) she can't do, b) doesn't make sense for a character from Islington and c) makes her sound like Vanilla Whore in 'Scott of the Sahara'. All that together, and her ability to be convincing as an intelligent, centered astrophysicist dies upon hearing her first line (and it doesn't help that her first line is one that you'd expect to be delivered by an air hostess.)

3) The other big factor is, of course, The Other Head. Yeesh. The actor playing Zaphod does the same awful cod-American accent as Trillian, but it works better on him than it does on her, because he's meant to be larger than life, silly, and not too very bright.

4) The actor who plays Ford Prefect would make a good Doctor, if you went into a parallel universe and took the part away from Colin Baker. (Not that I dislike Colin Baker in the part.) He does have a tendency to underplay every line, delivering them all with this sort of weirdly soothing drone, but he gets the sensibility of Ford right, and that's what counts.

5) The actor who plays Arthur seems a bit too arch for my tastes (it's as though I want to take him and Ford and hook them up to a giant "Charisma Transference Device" and just take a little off the top for him and give it to Ford) but does do what he needs to do for story purposes.

6) Marvin is, of course, magnificent.

7) Production values are low, but then again, it is early 80s BBC. And they get lots of positive style points for keeping to the story's digressive, excursive, ramblingly brilliant style. The general myth about 'Hitch-Hiker's' is that it's horribly plotted, but very funny; the actual truth is that it's cleverly plotted, but that the plot is mostly going on while the characters aren't looking and they don't necessarily notice the plot even after it's happened.

8) It really bothered me at the time that they went straight from the Magrethea stuff to the Milliways stuff, instead of sticking to the source material. You may all now laugh at my youthful ignorance.

9) The actor playing Number One (of the Golgafrinchians) didn't understand he was in a part that was, by its very nature, impossible to overact in. He's way too subdued. (Although, again, this could be the director.)

10) I really, really miss Douglas Adams.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Spoiler-Free Review: Serenity

So they do the thing, with the--the zoom, and the whoosh, and the big--omigod, and they--oh, wow, and the bit with the fight, and when the guy does the--and that scene where Mal--it was SO COOL!

It's not the kind of movie you can give a spoiler-free review of. Go. See it for yourself. I'll just give you one line as a bonus.

"Doctor, I'm taking your sister under my protection here. If anything happens to her, anything at all, I swear to you I will get very choked up. Honestly. There could be tears."