Friday, February 29, 2008

Recent Viewings 2/29/2008

After writing up these reviews, I noticed the only one I liked was the TV series. So, I put that review first if you want to cut to the chase.

Dexter (Showtime Original Series)
The awesome premise of this show is Dexter is a sociopathic serial killer who was raised right (his adoptive dad realized what he was and helped guide his compulsions to "good" ends), who therefore murders other serial killers and miscellaneous criminals.

Even more brilliant, Dexter narrates the show, so we know his thoughts, which are the best part of the show. When one of the women wink at him in a suggestive matter, he sighs mentally and groans, "I wish she wouldn't do that. I have no idea what it means." Being

Also hilarious is the one cop who suspects Dexter is something other than what he seems, Sgt. Doakes. He's one of the characters/actors who can drop the f-bomb like it was poetry. I perk up every time he comes into a scene because he always makes it better.

Amazingly, they're airing it on CBS on Sunday nights, so you can tune in to see if you enjoy it too. Sadly, you'll miss Doakes' best lines, but it's still a hoot.

Aside from Ashley Judd getting nekkid, Bug is to be avoided.

I thought it was going to be a creepy horror story about bugs that got under your skin. But it was really about how insanity can be contagious. Gosh, newsflash, huh? Uh, see any true explanation of Scientology (or if you want a more fun, useful example, see any version of The Manchurian Candidate) if you had any doubts about contagious nuttery.

When it was over, and I was past mourning that lost hour and a half of my life, I thought: This really reeks of having come from a stage play, and sure enough, it had. The writer of the piece is renowned in the theatre world for getting his actors nekkid. You'd think he'd come up with story a lot less transparent (har har) if his true motive is getting to skin.

Hell, just hit a shaker bar and get it over with, methinks.

Heartbreak Kid
Didn't see the original so I can't provide any comparison, but this version is lame. The best (and perhaps only real) joke in the whole flick is when Ben Stiller's character gets stung by a jellyfish and his new bride comes to his rescue by peeing on it, and her exposed bush is a sight to behold (NSFW!!!). (This is the third outrageous bush gag I've seen in movies, the others being in Waiting and the first Scary Movie.)

This one was close but no cigar. I really enjoyed the first few scenes of dialogue because that is how teenage boys talk about sex and their frustrations at that age. But when they get to school, the movie begins the barrel roll as it goes tits up.

It eventually becomes so absurd, it's the only comedy in memory that so thoroughly cornholed my suspension of disbelief I recall thinking "aw, c'mon."

I have to admit I was amused by most of the "McLovin'" story arc, so if you're bored one night and you don't have to pay for it, it may be worth spin just for that.

I've was digging on Red Curtain Movies while they offered Divx movies, and one of the flicks I snagged was this one. It was from an (illegal, I'm sure) cam recording, meaning someone took their video camera to the movie and taped it off the screen. For about 1/5 of the film, the culprit's clothes are in the way, etc. It's a miserable way to view a movie. However, I really just wanted to get an idea if I liked it enough to hit the theatre and see it right.

I couldn't get past the first half hour it was so bad. I thought that in addition to being a bootleg from a cam, it might have been a working print, or the cam guy had only taped sections of the movie. I went out to the movie spoiler and read the plot summary, and by gum I had seen the actual theatrical release of the movie.

The narrative jumps are so drastic and unintelligible that I would mentally reel, trying to catch up as the next scene played. I was able to eventually bridge the narrative, but it made for annoying viewing.

And why did they think it was a good idea to make a movie about a guy with the same superhero power as the favorite character on the TV show "Hereos"? And then tell a story not nearly as good.

Picard says it best:
Music Notes 2/29/2008
U2, Supertramp, Noe Venable, and One from the Heart

Borrowed a copy of the remastered edition of The Joshua Tree by U2.

This is one of the few instances I've run across where remastering didn't really improve the sound all that much. It's a scootch louder, but not really any clearer or with any more dynamic range. (Bass response is usually the biggest winner in remastering, but here it sounds the same.) Merely turning up your volume makes the old sound identical to the new. I wonder if I'm missing something or if the commentors on Amazon who mention how good the remastering have compared it to the original.

I was especially disappointed (I will forever hear Kevin Kline saying that word in my head) in the sound of the song "One Tree Hill." It's a hidden jem on the set, and it's always sounded muddy. I was hoping a dust-off would clean it up, but alas, they must've recorded that one on crappy tapes or machines.

I've always had a love/hate thing with The Joshua Tree, because it's an achingly beautiful album. But it's aches just a bit too much for my tastes, and I've never been able to just slap it on the music machine and play it through. It's like watching Sophie's Choice after you've had kids - too much to endure, on purpose.

Still, I look forward to the deluxe set of Achtung Baby. Besides being their best album (no arguments folks - it just won't help), the extra songs and remixes they did at the time were as good as anything on the canonical set. They were really mining a rich vein at the time.

Speaking of classic albums, I had the happy accident of slapping on Supertramp's Breakfast in America this last weekend, and was re-blown away by how good it really is. Every song on it is fantastic, and it has not only aged well, but has become even more relevant.

These lyrics from "The Logical Song" are more meaningful today then they were at the time:

Now watch what you say
Or they'll be calling you a radical
A liberal, oh fanatical, criminal
Oh won't you sign up your name
We'd like to feel you're
Acceptable, respectable, oh presentable, a vegetable

If you've not heard it in a while, or have never heard it, go hunt down this slab of fab and get your jollies on.

Memo to the fans.

I keep being amazed by what slowly creeps onto the list of available songs on Amazon's MP3 site.

I was thrilled to find, just today, "Tinkerbell" by Noe Venable - a lovely dark song where the fairy we all need to believe in finds hope after she "busts her brains bashing into window panes."

It wasn't there a week or so ago because I've been trying to get my hands on the tune since I heard it in my daughter's dance troup's recital of "Peter Pan." I knew via previews I wouldn't like the whole album, so was holding out for just this moment where I could snag the single.

If you've got those elusive songs you've been hunting for forever, make sure you swing past Amazon every couple weeks.

While the movie was a magnificent failure, I really liked the music to One from the Heart. Also, now available in MP3s.

I'm a few years behind the times on this, but jeebuz crispies, have you seen this?


Loved this bon mot from Jezebel:

Kate Beckinsale got candid about her ladybits in this month's Allure: "I've only ever had about three boyfriends. Only a handful of people have seen into the Pharaoh's Tomb!" Note to Kate: you probably shouldn't compare your cooch to something cavernous that houses dead people. Even fancy dead people.

And I love M. Blowhard's bon mot on Jezebel itself:
The postmodern miaowing at the chickblog Jezebel can make me feel like I'm trapped in a TV showroom where all the sets have been tuned to "Sex in the City" and "Ally McBeel."

Oh, yes!:

(Click for full size)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It's that bad

Must see:

And here's that moment she talks about in the video, where if she opens a paper and sees people like her imprisoned or being harmed, she'll go dark, too.

Is this really happening?

Monday, February 25, 2008


My kids got this through a recent McD's movie promotion.

Does it look like who I think it looks like?
Ephemera, 02-25-2008

Tiny Fey Owns Weekend Update.
(Ya gotta sit through a commercial. )

Comedian on Fox calls it like it is.

(This one via

The heir of the Johnson & Johnson fortune confirms that many of the uber-rich have a "let them eat cake" mentality.
- The Rich Man's Michael Moore By Robert Frank

I've been thinking on this article for a week, because I found it disturbing but ultimately couldn't put my finger on what precisely bugs me about it. Figured I'd just put it up and let you read it without any of my filters.
- Marry Him! by Lori Gottlieb

In a bit of web synchronicity, I happed upon this quote on shortly after I read the article.
- #414593
DragonflyBlade21: A woman has a close male friend. This means that he is probably interested in her, which is why he hangs around so much. She sees him strictly as a friend. This always starts out with, you're a great guy, but I don't like you in that way. This is roughly the equivalent for the guy of going to a job interview and the company saying, You have a great resume, you have all the qualifications we are looking for, but we're not going to hire you. We will, however, use your resume as the basis for comparison for all other applicants. But, we're going to hire somebody who is far less qualified and is probably an alcoholic. And if he doesn't work out, we'll hire somebody else, but still not you. In fact, we will never hire you. But we will call you from time to time to complain about the person that we hired.

Just made me laugh.

Friday, February 22, 2008


Here's a blog where they provide full "mix tapes" of CDs, and scads of free MP3s. I've found some nice covers thus far.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dave Matthews Greatest Songs and Some Hits

One of the niftiest aspects to our brave new digital music world is songs can be plucked from the vine to be decanted into the perfect personal vintage. (Add metaphors to blender, press "frappe", watch English profs twitch.)

Reading the most recent "Rolling Stone" I came across this hilarious smack-down in an album review (emphasis added):

Josh Kelley - Special Company - review by Rob Sheffield

[Regarding] Josh Kelley's new album, his first since becoming Mr. Katherine Heigl ... [snip] ... [H]e sure does hambone it up, never failing to let you know he's touching a special, special lady in the right, right way. Not since Dave Matthews urged you to pull up your skirt and show him your world has there been such egregious seductive vocalizing, though even Matthews could do better than "Cheers to you, honey, because you look so money."

After I pulled myself from the puddle of tears of laughter on the floor, I ran and showed this to my wife. I love Dave Matthews, but that song "Crash" has forever been on our "most mocked" list for the lyric quoted above. There are some concepts that you just can't rescue, no matter how much you try, and "show me your pussy" in a supposed love song is pretty close to the top of that list.

Dave does eventually get it right in the song "Hunger for the Great Light," which is an unapologetic bump and grind song about sex, as opposed to the tender chords of "Crash."

So that got me to thinking that there's a pretty good swath of tunage from Dave that would make a great compilation. "Crash" is not here, of course. And, sadly, the studio version of "Best of What's Around" is not available on the MP3 site. Still, if you're a sorta fan, or a big fan, this is nice set. (Of course, if you have additions or disagreements, the comments are open.)

1. What Would You Say
3. So Damn Lucky
4. Ants Marching
5. Satellite
6. I Did It
7. Dreamgirl
8. American Baby
9. Louisiana Bayou
10. You Might Die Trying
11. Hunger for the Great Light
12. Best of What's Around

I hope my constant readers will forgive me. First, I'm posting pron, then I'm posting spam humor.

Oh well. This was just too good not to put up.

U.S. Navy releases Al Qaeda Terrorist -

The US Navy today, January 16, 2008, announced that it has released a senior Al Qaeda terrorist after questioning him extensively for 27 days while being held prisoner aboard a US aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea.

In a humanitarian gesture, the terrorist was given $50 US and a white 1962 Ford Fairlane automobile upon being released from custody.

The attached photo shows the terrorist on his way home just after being released by the Navy.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Cannot stress it enough - NSFW

I usually don't post stuff like this because I figure all we grownups can find our own internet pron when and if we want to. Besides Michael B has cornered the market on the most interesting blue material, so he's your go-to guy.

However, I just had to share these two with you.

This first one is a news report from Carnival in Brazil about the woman who is the queen of the parade for the year. Apparently you can't go entirely nude, but if someone has ever wanted to find the exact thin pink line between nude and not nude, this woman has found it. And I know every guy viewing this will think, "I want that guy's job."

This other one is in such poor taste that it goes completely full circle and becomes almost … well, adjectives elude me at the moment. The girl who filmed this offers it in the spirit therapeutic approaches to relieve stress. (No kidding, keep watching.) Her momma must be so proud.

(Forgot to give Attu his props.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Baker Street

Dudes and dudettes,

I write you today to tell you of a thing of beauty, a thing of joy.

The Foo Fighters - one of my favorite groups - are now available on Amazon's MP3 store. But that's not the really good news.

The really good news is that one of the best covers ever is now available - The Foo Fighter's cover of Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street".

(Here's an edited Gerry's version on Youtube, if you wanna snag it using the method I describe in the post below. Here's the full version, but the rip is kinda quiet. Here's the Foo Fighter's on Youtube as well, if you don't mind a little lesser fidelity. The video is better on this version, though.)

Btw, Rafferty has explained that it's a song about making your living being a street-corner musician, which he did for a while.

"Winding your way down Baker Street..."
Blowed Up Real Good

Here's a fun post about the best starship destructions on film, complete with video.

Friday, February 08, 2008

So let me show you around, Maybe play you a sound, You look like you're both pretty groovy

(For the record, "Sweet Transvestite," which is the source of the title of this post, is one of those "guilty favorites/wouldn't want to be caught blasting this during" a red light songs.)

Did you know that you can record any audio off the web and make it an MP3? (Or Wav.)

I didn't until about a month ago. When I happed across a page that spelled it out, I said to myself, "Well duh."

All you do is download "Audacity", which is available for pretty much any OS you have. Make sure you get the "LAME" MP3 encoder so you can export to MP3. (More about LAME here.)

Once you've got it installed and LAMEd, open up preferences and make sure that in "Audio I/O" tab you pick "2 (Stereo)" in the "Channels" selection, and in the "Quality" tab you select a sample rate of "44100 Hz" and a format of "32-bit float".

Before you record, make sure any programs that make noises - such as email going "ping!" when an email arrives - are closed. Sometimes these sounds get captured in what you're recording, and even if they don't, they might cause a gap or static in your recording.

I use MS Windows, so I had to open up the volume control (double-click the speaker in the tray), select "Properties" in the "Options" menu, switch to "Recording" and select "Stereo Mixer" to choose the sound source of audio that's piped to my computer over the web. Remember how to get to this, because you use the slider to set the recording level, which you may have to do every time you record something.

Then, go to or anywhere you can find some audio you want to grab (like those artist's pages on myspace where they offer up complete streaming songs) and let it play through once (as this stores a local copy while you have a browser open). Use this first time through to set your recording input level.

You want to make sure the blue Rorschach wave form display that shows you the intensity of the volume doesn't touch the edges of the gray bars (meaning it's clipping - literally chopping off the ends of the sounds because they're out of range/too loud), but come as close as possible. If you can't turn it up enough while recording, don't worry, you can turn it up after you record. It's just better to get the best volume during the original sample, because that way you insure you don't get any distortion or hidden artifacts if you do have to turn it up.

Once you've set your recording level and let it play through once, close that sample in Audacity, open a new one, and start recording before you restart whatever it is you're recording. Restart it and DON'T TOUCH YOUR COMPUTER until it's done. Sometimes when you swap windows to look at it recording, it will cause a pause or a pop in the track. Wait until you get to complete silence - or if it's a playlist, wait for the next song to begin, then stop recording.

Now trim the silence at the beginning and any extraneous stuff at the end, and you have your source file to output to MP3. If you're going to burn it to a CD, export it in the best quality uncompressed format (which you pick in the "File Formats" tab in "Preferences").
If you have to increase the volume, select the whole track, and in the "Effect" menu select "Amplify...". Audacity automagically calculates the loudest "safe" level for you to record. I usually back it off 0.2 clicks because on rare occasion I've gotten distortion from using the suggested volume level. Once it's done, listen to one of the loudest points and one of the softest points of the recording, if it sounds good, save it.

And there you have it.

This comes in handy when a favorite live version of a song is available only on Youtube. Or if a song hasn't been released yet, but a web video has. Also I put funny quotes from movies on my mix CDs, and you can find most of the best one-liners from movies and TV on Youtube and comedy sites. Frinstance, I recently nabbed the great Dr. Cox line from Scrubs: "Listen Super Girl, I'm gonna break you down into so many little pieces that my grandmother, who can do a thousand piece puzzle of clear blue sky in less than an hour, will never be able to finish putting you back together again, even if she does go back in time to when her vision was perfect." I have yet to find a home on a mix CD for that one, but I'm sure I'll find one.


Oh, in other news, here's a great page on other great ways to get audio from the web - the google search string alone is worth clicking the link; it works like magic. And here's a post I did on ripping internet radio for more free tunage.


This works for DVDs, too. Say you like the themesong of a TV show, or you like the song version as used in the movie (the end of the first "X-files" movie comes to mind), you can snag anything off a DVD.
Even though Joel will probably b-slap me

What a relief to see that someone else thinks Sean Penn is a pretty average actor. Except for his death scene in "Dead Man Walking" and Spicoli, he's never really done it for me.
Best Def of PC Ever

I see by googling it up that this phrase is ubiquitous, but I saw it the first time just this week in an email chain.

The following is the 2007 winning entry from an annual contest at Texas A&M University calling for the most appropriate definition of a contemporary term. This year a definition required for the contemporary term, 'Political Correctness'.

The winner wrote:
"Political Correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end."

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

I Used to Watch the Grammys

But Cracked defines the definitive list of reasons as to why I stopped.
This guy is WAY more composed than I would've been...

And I believe that is the exact sound of someone's heart leaping into their throat.


More fun videos. Make sure your sound is on.

You've probably seen Dramatic Prairie Dog:

But have you seen Dramatic Lemur?:

One of my daughter's teachers showed this one in class. Urban legend has it that if you look closely behind the car as it goes, there's a slight misty thing that might be a ghost.