Dec 31, 2009

Best of 00's...Books

Let's get literary up in here.
  1. The Hank Thompson Trilogy: Caught Stealing, Six Bad Things, A Dangerous Man; Charlie Huston 
  2. The Joe Pitt Casebooks: Already Dead, No Dominion, Half the Blood of Brooklyn, Every Last Drop, My Dead Body; Charlie Huston
  3. The Lost, Jack Ketchum
  4. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon
  5. The Road, Cormac McCarthy
  6. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire/Order of the Phoenix/Half-Blood Prince/Deathly Hallows,  J.K. Rowling
  7. This Is Where I Leave You, Jonathan Tropper
  8. The Ruins, Scott Smith
  9. The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen
  10. The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova

Posted via web from moviegoer's posterous

Protocast 3: Sherlock Holmes Review



Happy New Year's Eve. I have been working extensively on finishing some fiction, so the podcasts have been few and far between. I have done a few videos in the meantime - I posted the review of 'And All Through the House' last week for Christmas - but this is the first chance I've had to do a podcast in a couple of weeks. I just added a pic over the audio so I could post it as a video, but otherwise it's just a podcast. Enjoy.

Dec 30, 2009

You want lists. I've got lists.

Here's the first of my Best of...the Decade lists. I'll post the rest over the next couple of days. Read, discuss, and enjoy!

Best of...Music

  1. Andrew W.K., I Get Wet
  2. The Darkness, Permission to Land 
  3. The Streets, Original Pirate Material
  4. Coheed and Cambria, In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3
  5. LCD Soundsystem, LCD Soundsystem
  6. U2, All That You Can’t Leave Behind
  7. The Drive-By Truckers, Decoration Day 
  8. ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, Source Tags & Codes
  9. System of a Down, Toxicity
  10. The Killers, Hot Fuss

Obviously, these albums are personal choices. I'm sure I'm still missing some great ones. I thought about doing a songs list. However, I'm an album guy, and with a few exceptions, most of the songs would have come from the ten albums listed above.

Tomorrow's list: Books!

Posted via web from moviegoer's posterous

The Videogamer on...2009.

The Videogamer’s Top Games of the Year

 

  1. Batman: Arkham Asylum. Rocksteady’s first entry into the Dark Knight’s universe was spectacular. It looked great and played greater. This near-perfect game is like The Dark Knight of the comic book videogame world.
  2. Fallout 3 DLC. What better game to play in 2009 than my newly crowned Game of 2008 (sorry, MGS 4), and Bethesda made that a reality by releasing some stellar DLC  for Fallout 3. Broken Steel was easily the best; it took the 20 level cap off the game and rewrote the ending a bit more openly. The most atmospheric entry, Point Lookout, is next. The Pitt and Operation Anchorage follow a more distant 3 and 4, while the final episode, Mothership Zeta, is also the least satisfying. Still, none of them are bad. I recommend anyone that hasn’t played the game pick up the Game of the Year Edition, containing the full game and all 5 DLC add-ons, now!
  3. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Uncharted 2 finished third almost by default; 2009 was not a great year for games, not when compared to last year and the slate of games expected in 2010 (Bioshock 2, Mass Effect 2, God of War III). It’s truly a superb game. Naughty Dog really outdid themselves. I’m a big fan of Nolan North’s voice work as well; he’s like a disembodied Nathan Fillion. Still, it has all the staying power of the matinee serials it idolizes. The further I get from playing treasure hunter Nathan Drake’s second adventure, the less I remember about it.
  4. Assassin’s Creed II. My most recent conquest, ACII rights the wrongs of its predecessor (repetitive missions, extra-twitchy guards, boring open world travel) and adds a huge, healthy dose of history. The setting, Renaissance Italy, is also a far cry from the typical sci-fi, combat zones to which gamers are usually transported. The settings are fantastic, but some of the early in-game movies are not the prettiest.
  5. God of War Collection. Be it 2005, 2007, or 2008, nobody beats Kratos. The vengeful Spartan’s PS2 adventures look great when experienced on the hi-def PS3, and both games boast trophies. What a great way to whet appetites for what might be the game of 2010, God of War III.

 

Honorable mentions:  Resident Evil 5, Guitar Hero: Metallica, Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time, MadWorld, Killzone 2, New Super Mario Bros. Wii

 

Downloadable Games

  1. Shadow Complex. Awesome Metroid-vania excitement on the Xbox Live Arcade.
  2. Flower
  3. Shatter

 

I have played Halo 3: ODST and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, all of which could conceivable make the list if their single player experience were longer or I cared one bit about multiplayer, which I don’t, so they didn’t make the list. I would have liked to play Borderlands before finalizing the list, but you can’t have everything.

Posted via web from moviegoer's posterous

Gallagher on...Everything?

Comedian Gallagher in an interview with the Onion, talking about everything from politics to comedy to behavior in public...and with enough hatred of 'the youth' to fill a retirement community.

Gallagher on mediocrity:

Well, I don’t think Katie Couric should have been the anchorperson for the news. She was originally a kicky young woman that did the on-the-street interviews, and she was known for her cuteness, and that’s why she was hired. The lady on the desk with all the stature that doesn’t speak good, Barbara Walters, was more of the kind of person you would have as an anchorperson, but in America, they are afraid to take a chance on people who aren’t known. This is how Conan [O’Brien] ended up with The Tonight Show: Rather than take a chance on somebody, they decide to advance from within. We promote people until they reach a point at which they’re incompetent.


Before you think up a retort to Gallagher on the topic of mediocrity, you should go take a look at the interview. It's blunt, angry, bitter, even impassioned, and it's not something I would have expected from the 63-year-old comedian. I'm not saying he's right about what he's saying (or that I even think he's right), but it's an interview that deserves a read-through, because this is the kind of stuff I would imagine George Carlin to be saying rather than Gallagher, and, well, it's intriguing. The Onion AV Club seemed ironically interested in the comic, and I am almost positive the interviewer had no idea that this was going to happen:

Then of course President Clinton ruined oral sex. [It’s] now an acceptable activity for a virgin, and doesn’t qualify as sex. So somewhere in there is a loss of morality—a mediocrity. You know, I think when Clinton ruined the presidency, it certainly made my point of mediocrity. We never pick a president who is above, we pick somebody we identify with: the lowest level, the most common. We didn’t pick the best politician in the Bush family, which of course was the governor of Florida. We picked the beer-drinking good ol’ boy. Ask them to lead us in areas that maybe didn’t require a good ol’ boy. You know, this is what I notice. Of course, I’ve been excluded from a lot of show business in America. So I’ve got a point of view that I don’t mind expressing, because I’m really not ruining a career that’s not really happening.


Interview: Gallagher

Dec 27, 2009

Cinema Collection of 2009



Lasting seven minutes and consisting of clips of 143 movies, here is a montage of the best of cinema from 2009. It's a well-edited piece and deserving a watch. It even sort of makes you want to watch the movies that didn't do so well this year.

Audio Surf: Ride Your Music



Audiosurf is a music-adapting puzzle racer where you use your own music to create your own experience. The shape, the speed, and the mood of each ride is determined by the song you choose.

You earn points for clustering together blocks of the same color on the highway, and compete with others on the internet for the high score on your favorite songs.


Go to the site: Audio-Surf.com

Dec 26, 2009

The Moviegoer on...Sherlock Holmes

  
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Posted via email from moviegoer's posterous

Dec 22, 2009

Dec 21, 2009

Dec 20, 2009

The Moviegoer on...The Road


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As great as the book was, could The Road be adapted into a movie of equal, or superior, quality? Hear what the Moviegoer says.

The Moviegoer on...Avatar


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Could James Cameron's return after a decade-plus absence be the best movie of the decade? Hear what the Moviegoer has to see about Cameron's latest epic.

Dec 18, 2009

The Videogamer on...Why the Wii Sucks


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Here's the first of what I hope is a new feature of Jinx Protocol. In under two minutes, I'm going to take apart or put together a topic of my choosing. Some mini-pods will be by the Videogamer and others by the Moviegoer. Enjoy!

Dec 15, 2009

Appaloosa: A Review

Starring: Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen, Renee Zellweger, Jeremy Irons, Peter Pettigrew, The Coach from 'Major League'.

Directed by: Ed Harris

Overall: ***1/2

Most crime movies are westerns disguised as crime movies. Elmore Leonard wrote crime novels that were more or less westerns dressed up with snarky dialogue and showdowns set in Detroit instead of Dodge City. Robert B. Parker, as it were, writes westerns disguised as crime novels. Well, that's not necessarily true, as 'Appaloosa' is about as bare-bones a movie can be (based on Parker's novel). But the relationship between Harris's and Zellweger's characters is more reminiscent of Humphrey Bogart movies than John Wayne ones. In fact, all of the relationships between characters are reminiscent of crime flicks than of their dirtier, horse-filled counterparts. The "sheriff", Virgil Cole (played excellently by Harris), has a buddy-cop banter with his "deputy", Everett Hitch (Mortensen). Virgil, like a husband stumped by the weekly crossword at the breakfast table, can always count on his erstwhile partner Hitch to deliver a word that's just out of reach for him. Similarly, Hitch is unfaltering in his admiration for the other half of the gun-wielding duo, supplying the other on-screen characters with a steady stream of compliments about the man's better qualities. In that respect, the movie tries to balance the (crime)western and the love story between Virgil and Hitch, but it is often disrupted by the appearance of Ally (Zellweger's character and Virgil's ostensible love interest).

Westerns are typically movies in which men are men and women wash the dishes. 'Unforgiven', Clint Eastwood's superb revisionist tale, ushered in a sort-of new era in the Western, leading up to the 00s. What we have seen recently is a spate of films influenced by books influenced by movies. It's a post-revisionist, post-western world we live in, in which the dynamic in the films is slowly trying to be placed gently in the pre-revisionist cradle, for people who yearn for John Wayne.

However, 'Appaloosa' is just proof that there has been too much intermingling between genres for us to return to simple, unironic storytelling. While the sexual charge between lonely men in westerns pre-1966 was only implied, now it is either overt or too blunt to miss. It's as though we cannot tell a western with a straight face anymore (no pun intended). If you don't believe me, please - pretty please - watch 'Appaloosa'. At one point, Everett, in chiding Ally, basically says, "You and Virgil are together, and so are Virgil and I. We are all together." If there had been no guns and halfway through the film it were revealed that Everett was a woman, no one paying attention would have been surprised.

And it's not as though I've tried to lay the sexual framework onto the movie. It's either deliberately there, the director (Harris) honestly does not see it, or else he is baiting the audience. I'd like to think it is a mixture of all three, since it's too there for anyone to miss it. Coming in, I had expected a straightforward, old school western, but I got so much more. Even though it is full of violence - often actually representative of the "misunderstood" silent type routine - and of action and brooding, the chemistry between the three main characters outweighs it all. It's not always intriguing - in fact, sometimes it's downright tedious - but it seems as though that was what Ed Harris was going for in the direction, so he gets extra points for effort there. It wasn't a straight-faced telling of the typical western, but it does maintain plenty of the genre's staples: kidnapping, damsels in distress, trains, "Injuns", gunfights, love triangles, long silences, horses, and, of course, funny mustaches.

Dec 14, 2009

Comic Book Heroes Transposed Into Old War Photos



From The House of Milk:

There is a collection of photos from WWII showcasing superheroes in the thick of battle, palavering with generals and such, and just being awesomely Photoshopped into the action. I posted something similar, except it had to do with Star Wars instead of Comic Books.

Dec 12, 2009

Australian Astrologer Gets Ostracized on Aussie Show



I am almost embarrassed for astrologers who come on television and then get shown for the hacks that they are...almost. See, the problem comes in when people live their lives by delusions created by charlatans who give them a false sense of hope...based on what? It doesn't take a Mensa member to know that twins do not suffer the same fate. Astrology offered humanity a quaint, basic form of "predicting" that is no longer necessary or viable in the slightest sense, and the more that we come to know about the world, the less astrology can offer it.

Roger Ebert: On James Cameron's Avatar

Watching "Avatar," I felt sort of the same as when I saw "Star Wars" in 1977. That was another movie I walked into with uncertain expectations. James Cameron's film has been the subject of relentlessly dubious advance buzz, just as his "Titanic" was. Once again, he has silenced the doubters by simply delivering an extraordinary film.

~Roger Ebert, Avatar

I've been thinking about James Cameron quite more than usual lately. Thinking about him at all is quite more than usual, but anyway. I've wondered just what got into his mind that he would think that sinking 250 million bucks into Avatar would be a good idea. I've heard comparisons to a live-action 'Ferngully', which doesn't make me think it would draw in enough people to cover half of the budget put into it, let alone make the movie worth seeing.

However, and I can take it with a grain of salt, there is a near-unanimous consent on 'Avatar' from the critics. Roger Ebert could not have gushed more expansively if he tried. Of all the 33 critics on Rotten Tomatoes, only three have slapped it with a rotten rating (and I wonder how much ire was directed at the hype, rather than that movie). It's still got a week before release, and whether or not the hype worked will be evident after next weekend - or perhaps the next, depending on word of mouth - so we'll see.

Dec 10, 2009

Protocast 2: The Music Industry, My Undying Love for Nickelback, Etc.



Is it already time for another podcast? Indeed, it is. This week's Protocast deals with my thoughts on the music industry. Specifically, I talk about how the structure of the industry allows bands like Nickelback (and bands that sound like Nickelback) to command the airwaves with such authority.

Dec 9, 2009

The Day the Earth Stood Still Review



In addition to podcasting, I've decided to throw my hat into the ring of scores of nobodies posting videos to YouTube, so they may be ignored by millions upon millions of people.

Your first question - other than 'Why would you do this in the first place?' - might be, 'Why are you reviewing 'The Day the Earth Stood Still'? Well, I just saw it a couple days ago, and that's the major reason. I figured, Why not start with a movie you just saw, even if it came out last year. I'm going to try and be on the ball a little better in the future and review upcoming or recently released movies, but this is a test run, so bear with me.

If you just want to listen to just the audio (for some reason), you can go over to Clickcaster and check it out, or you can just listen below.

Dec 7, 2009

Kazookeylele - 'The Final Countdown'



And now for a cover version of the song that was NOT in Rocky IV, here's 'The Final Countdown' on a hybrid Kazoo/Ukulele, the Kazookulele.

AS an added bonus, here's the total rock upgrade version of the song, complete with echo, drums, and distorted guitar. You're welcome.

41-Hour Elevator Ride



This is a time-elapse video showcasing a man named Nicholas White trapped in an elevator for just over 40 hours, after he had gone out for a cigarette break. There is an accompanying New Yorker article. Read the article.

Dec 6, 2009

A Short, Surreal MindBomb



I don't know that I have words to describe this video. Watch it and tell me what you think.

Dec 4, 2009

Giving for the Holidays Through "First Giving"



Though I'm not overly sentimental about the holiday season, I do recognize and support efforts to be more universally generous. It has a great impact, even if but for a short amount of time. It is a shame that we tend to only recognize how little others have in a time when we end up spending the most money on gifts that end up in the backs of closets and in storage.

Either way, I've been thinking about having people donate money to charity rather than give me presents for Christmas for years, but it's one of those "next year" tasks that didn't seem like it would ever get done.

Well, this year it's going to happen, in large part to my friend, Maria, who posted a link to a site that allows you to set up a personal web page where people can donate sort of directly to you, and the money raised ends up going to the charity. Thank you, Maria.

Gifts are fine, in my book, but I've reached a point in my life where I have just about everything I could ever need or want and would rather see that money go to a cause that might save someone's life.

The site is First Giving, and it has a fairly simple user interface, so I was able to be up and running in a matter of minutes. Now all I have to do is get the word out to people, which is what I'm trying to do now! You can visit my personal page, which has been set up to donate to the American Cancer Society.

Like I say on the page itself, very few people go through life without being affected in some way by cancer, so I thought it would be a sort of universal cause to pick for a charity. I have lost family members to cancer, and recently, but so have millions of other people, so it behooved me to choose the ACS. I didn't set a goal, and I don't want to be presumptuous and self-important, but donate if you can. If you can't, try to do something else to give back.

Even if you don't feel comfortable giving to the ACS, think about picking up a toy to donate to 'Toys for Tots' or participate in a holiday food drive. That's all. I just wanted to get the message out there. Thanks so much.

Dec 3, 2009

Bill Bryson - Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

I just finished reading 'The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid', which is by far one of the most entertaining and yet informative memoirs I have ever read. It was written by Bill Bryson, and its greatest accomplishment IMHO is recreating the world of the 1950s in the Midwest of America so that I felt as thought I was there, or at least could have been there.

I am generally enamored of all of Bryson's works, and, though this work ranks up there, it is hardly my favorite. I am extremely partial to A Walk in the Woods, for example. It has lit a fire under me, has made me think that someday even I could hop on the Appalachian Trail and experience its singular wonder.

If you get a chance, check out, rent, borrow, buy, or steal(just kidding) one of Bryson's works. If you're too lazy to do it yourself, here is Amazon's Bill Bryson page. Take a gander at it.

Dec 1, 2009

Protocast 1: Netflix/PS3, MoH, Horror Movies, Lost, Fringe, and Dollhouse.



Here is the first 'Protocast'. I discuss a lot of stuff, but mostly I stick to horror/scifi, so beware. 25 min.

My Podcast Alley feed! {pca-8cb5dfbd206bb8a064595abcc5e3f622}