Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy New Year & Fuck "New York, New York"


Not to sound like an old bastard, but in my opinion, it's a crime against humanity when anything but Auld Lang Syne is sung after the ball drops at 12 am. Get out of here with this "New York, New York" shit, that's weak sauce. Here's my favorite version of Burns's poem that I listen to every New Year's at the strike of 12. It's from a Big Country concert shot at the Barrowlands in Glasgow in the early 80s. The performance beforehand is epic, however the best part comes at the very end when the band is finished playing. I still get chills when I hear the crowd singing at the end of the video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMeipHcDmbI

2nd place goes to Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians.
Have a Happy Hogmanay!

Room 237


I watched a documentary on the Shining. Specifically, it's just about people's thematic interpretations of the flick.

There are a few different people who put forth some interesting ideas. However, none of them really present anything terribly convincing as far as I'm concerned. People see what they're most familiar with. With something as interpretative and esoteric as Kubrick symbology you're bound to come up with some wild shit. And it can't all be right. In fact, almost all of it will turn out to be wrong.

It's not about the holocaust, the manifest destiny, sexual ghosts, AND the moon landing. So what is it about?

I think there are some neat things that are pointed out in this documentary, but without Kubrick weighing in (from beyond the grave) then it's hard to really give credence to anything that's said.

The most provocative and interesting portion is the whole "Kubrick faked the moon landing footage and this is a confession" suggestion. That's the biggest pill to swallow, but probably the one with the most evidence.

Most of these people just string together two or three things and call it a theory. It's pretty fucking loose if you ask me. Especially the chick who's going on about Minotaurs. She's grasping at straws.

Honestly, I haven't seen the Shining in over 15 years. I need to watch it again. That's all I know. It scared the crap outta me at the time. Beyond creepy.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

the Wild Rebels


I missed the second installment of Motorcycle Movie Night this year so I decided to catch up and watch the Wild Rebels at home tonight.

It's from 1967 and it's a hodgepodge of genres. One exec posits that the kids today are into stock car racing, another must mention biker flicks, a third chimes in that gangster/robbery flicks are big business, and a fourth proposes that the protagonist carry a guitar and break into song from time to time to win over the lady viewers. And so Wild Rebels is born from the boardroom.

I imagine it went something like that. Then 15 days later the movie was in the can.

It's all of those genres but none of them. The biker element is the most prevalent for sure, but it's sort of sullied by the cross-pollination that's going on. Wild Rebels is definitely no Wild Angels. No, sir!

But the three-man biker gang (plus obligatory mama) is called the Satan's Angels, and their president is pretty cool. The prez has a unique vibe. His presentation and the fact there's so few locations and actors make it almost feel like a play at times. Wild rebels, on Broadway!

It's definitely worth seeing, as I'm pretty much going to see every single classic biker flick ever made. I genuinely don't think that's too tall a task. There's a finite amount from the 60's and 70's. And I'll watch em all.

It has some funny moments. Obligatory terrible continuity. Paper-thin script. Shitty effects. Crap lighting. No boobs.

But the dialogue is righteous, man. It's outta sight. The way these cats jive, man...it'll blow your mind cuz you're so square you're shaped like a box.

Stream the whole movie on youtube via the link above.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Best Music of 2013





What can I say? 2013 was a great year for music. Not in the sense that there were one or two life changing, amazing albums, but in that there were albums that were consistently good to great released throughout the year. Sure, there were some underwhelming releases (Cut Copy and Sebastian Tellier come to mind), but for the most part it was a amazing year for really good albums. Listed below you will find my convoluted and biased list for the best music of 2013. Hope you enjoy!

(I've created a mix of my favorite tracks here, stream it from your phone or computer and dig it now!)


 


1 a. Arctic Monkeys: AM - Wow. I've listened to this band since their debut (I mean how could you not?) and although I've always enjoyed their music, this is the first release I've loved. It's great from start to finish. The backup falsetto vocals by the drummer add so much. Great, great album.



1 b. CHVRCHES: The Bones of What YouBelieve - Anybody who knows me knows that I have a huge soft spot in my heart for anything that hails from Scotland. Hell, I'm unabashedly a huge Big Country fan. People who know me even better know I love synth pop from the 80s. So it makes complete sense that Chvrches is my favorite release from the last couple years. A perfect release in many ways.

Savages: Silence Yourself - Easily the best live show I've seen this year, maybe one of the best bands I've ever seen live. In a write up I did earlier this year I made reference to them as not being the best musicians...I couldn't have been more wrong. All of these ladies fucking crushed it on stage. They play angry.

The National: Trouble Will Find Me - To me, this in their best album since Boxer, a return to form. If there weren't so many incredible albums this year, this would have been my number one.

Vampire Weekend: Modern Vampires of the City - If there's one song that will bring me close to tears when I've had too much to drink this year, it's Unbelievers.

Daft Punk: Random Access Memories - Not my favorite release for sure from one of my favorite DJs of all time, but a great release based on some amazing singles. (For what it's worth, my wife says I'm way underselling this one)

My Bloody Valentine: mbv - Duh.

Rival Schools: Found - As a hardcore kid at heart, it's pretty easy for me to throw any Walter Schreifels' project on a list and call it a day. But I really, really like this record and it's not just an obligatory nod to my past. It's a good album. I never loved United By Fate, but I really enjoy Found. Feels like a great album that was recorded early 00s and still has enough staying power to listen to today. 

Merchandise: Totale Nite - This s a band that borrows elements from all the genres I love (80s, shoegaze, post punk, etc...) Love this guy's voice, one of the most underrated bands...plus they were hardcore kids.

Wavves: Afraid of Heights - The soundtrack to my summer.

Deafheaven: Sunbather - The album is brilliant. To qualify this album as the best metal album of the year is doing it a disservice, one of the best albums of the year. I know that's a little redundant seeing as this is my best of list!

Run the Jewels: s/t - It only took like 10 years for rap to become relevant (to me at least) again! A fun album that represents the L.B.B. for sure.

Washed Out: Paracosm - Didn't appreciate this album until I heard it live. The sound guys had sooo much trouble during their set, so much so that the band played for a couple minutes straight with no music coming through the PA. Eventually, the band noticed and it was a great site to see Ernest Greene/Tyler Florence get a little pissed and embarrassed while still trying to embrace the chillwave vibe. Regardless, a solid album that reminds me of summer.

Arcade Fire: Reflektor - Can't say much more about these guys that hasn't already been said by everybody else, so I'm not going to say anything.

A$AP Rocky: Long.Live.A$Ap - This dude's young and I can't think of many MCs that are better lyrically than Rocky at this point. Most impressive rap album I've heard in years...like 20.

Rogue Wave: Nightingale Floors - Solid album by a consistent band, the gem of the album is the cover of Nearly Lost You.

Foxygen: We are the 21st Century Ambassadors... - Stand out track is San Francisco, it would be right at home on any Wes Anderson sound track.

Phoenix: Bankrupt! - How does a band consistently churn out great releases year after year? Money in the bank.

Yuck: Glow and Behold - This one came out of left field for me, I've listened to Yuck before and never gave them much thought. But I love this album. When tracks from this album started popping up on my iPhone, I kept thinking it was a song I forgot about by the Boo Radleys or Teenage Fanclub. I can't think of much higher praise than that.

Kayne West: Yeezus - Really for me, this album is all about Bound 2. The rest of the album is too angry for this white boy. Kanye's the one guy who's got an edge lyrically on Rocky.

Tegan and Sara: Heartthrob - I am embarrassed to say Closer was my favorite pop song of the year...that is, until I heard the new Chvrches album. The album has no place on my list but I loved this song at one point.

Honorable Mention: Noctum: Final Sacrifice, Julianna Barwick: Nepenthe, The Haxan Cloak: Excavation.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

the Last Emperor


I've been meaning to watch this since...oh...1987.

Hot on the heels of the book I just read on Confucius, I streamed Bertolucci's epic about the last emperor of China. I need to rest my knee after surgery a lot, so this gave me almost three hours of couch time.

At first I almost turned it off. It's set exclusively in Asia yet everyone spoke English. It was driving me fucking nuts. I think Bertolucci sold out big time, and really lost a huge part of the experience by making everyone speak English. Especially because they speak English with Chinese accents, like that's more believable. It still throws everything off. But I stuck with it because it was Bertolucci, so I figured I'd see what all the hype was about. And rest my leg.

It was a history lesson that tied into the book I just finished. So from a "get your world history knowledge from movies" perspective, it was good.

China's history is fucked up, man. For a country with so many innovators, they've suffocated themselves in groupthink from day one. I don't know how those individuals, those innovators, ever got a voice with so much conformity. We see where it got them. But the film underscores how the last century of Chinese evolution was potentiality the most wasted opportunity for growth. They've fucked themselves with conformity for far too long. I think the next century will be China's time to finally blossom as a nation of individuals.

I think China's fascinating and I'd like to go some time. Can burn em for the sins of their past. They've suffered under the hands of the Japanese and they've strangled themselves enough.

Anyway, the film was alright. It didn't blow my mind. Peter O'Toole (R.I.P.) was the best thing about the flick. I also really liked the governor at the prison camp. He played his roll well.

I don't know what else to say. English guy reviewing Italian movie about Asians thinks lone Englishman is the best thing about the movie. Whatever.

Oh, favorite era was the post-flapper-pre-WWII era. That little spell when everyone just looked fucking suave and perfect. If I had a time-machine I'd make a stop in China circa 1934. And in London. And in New York. And Paris. And Detroit and Chicago...yeah. That'd be great.

The last emperor had a bum life.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Confucianism / World Religions


Just read a book on Confucianism that I picked up from a garage sale this summer. I started picking at  it early in the week when I was laid up from surgery.

This is a high level introduction to Confucianism. Origin, belief, organization, ritual, history, etc. I found the last two chapters most interesting because they were more about the last 100 years in China. Confucius's teachings and China's strict adherence to them really connect a lot of dots for me. China has certain attributes deep-rooted in their culture and now I understand where those attributes come from. It all stems back 2500 years.

It's interesting to read about China's adoption and rejection of this central aspect of China's history. It puts contemporary China in perspective for those of us who don't really know about the fabric that underpins their cultural make-up. A little more light has been shed. A little more understanding has been established.

I definitely found this book educational. Is it a riveting read? No. But I work with Chinese colleagues and I'm interested in Chinese philosophy, so it certainly enhanced my understanding of both.

Confucius seemed like a good bloke with good ideas. But like many wise men; foolish men took his teachings and ruined them. When you adhere to something without progressing for hundreds or thousands of years...it'll turn to shit. I'm sure if Confucius was still around he'd be evolving continually, not stagnating like his followers. Preserving him in amber. Fuck that.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

R.I.P.

Watching Lawrence of Arabia as a kid helped grow my love for film and British history.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Walking Dead: Vol 19


This was a good one! Fucking action packed. Just when I thought it was a bridge to another cliff-hanger, no, they still brought the goods. Exciting read for sure.

Once again, very stoked to see how this plays out. I really dig Jesus and King Ezekiel. Two really cool characters. When Ezekiel was explaining his relationship with his pet tiger, Shiva, it almost brought a tear to my eye. I can relate, brother.

Of course there was the obligatory moment when I wasn't sure if a character or two were male of female. But that happens every book because TWD is the best book out there with the worst art. Sorry, it could be so much better.

Very satisfying read, though.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Event Horizon


I've been meaning to watch this again. I hadn't seen it since it came out in the theater in 97. I always remembered it as a good, legit sci-fi flick. Scary to boot. Turns out that my memory was a bit off.

The movie definitely borrows from Hackers when it come to the laws of plausibility and the presentation of all things scientific or computer-oriented. Hackers had the Prodigy and Event Horizon has Crystal Method. Where as both movies are cheesy...I don't really find any redeeming qualities to Event Horizon. Where as I take a perverse pleasure in watching Hackers over and over again.

Event Horizon has a crap, cheesy script. The effects are mediocre. The plot is thin. The ships borrow heavily from H.R. Giger.

But the flashbacks into Hell are pretty gnarly. I remember seeing some stills in Fangoria. Real cool shit, even today.

Stay away, though. I've just saved you the 90 minutes. It's not as cool as it seemed when you were 17.




Best of 2013



I read a shockingly small amount of books this year. I was reading a lot of periodicals, and with tearing my ACL, getting surgery, starting a new band, buying and selling houses, etc...I just haven't had that much freakin time for film and books! Anyway, here are my lists. Honestly a bit anti-climactic for 2013.

Top 5 books I read in 2013:
Richard Branson: Losing My Virginity
The Conqueror Worms
Panther Baby
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
The 4-Hour Work-Week

Top 5 comics I read in 2013:
Sláine: The Horned God
Criminal: The Deluxe Edition Volume 2
Abandon the Old in Tokyo
Good-Bye
Black Blizzard

Top 5 documentaries I watched in 2013:
Fastest
Searching for Sugarman
The Four Year Plan
The Story of Film
Truth in 24 II

Top 5 Biker Movies I watched in 2013:
The Loveless
The Hard Ride
Chrome & Hot Leather
The PeaceKillers
Run, Angel, Run

Top 5 movies I watched in 2013:
The Skin I Live In
2046
Lost in Translation
Mr. Nice
The Loveless

Top 10 albums I got in 2013:
Anathema: Weather Systems
Autopsy: The Headless Ritual (best DM album. best artwork!)
Chelsea Wolfe: Pain is Beauty
Vastum: Patricidal Lust
R.A. The Rugged Man: Legends Never Die
Rhymefest: El Che
Zodiac: A Hiding Place
Saprogenic: Expanding Towards Collapsed Lungs
Watain: The Wild Hunt
Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions: Through the Devil Softly


If you take anything away from this whole list, make it the top 5 albums I listed as well as the top 5 comics. 

Song of the year:
Anathema: Untouchable Parts 1 AND 2.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Caché


Here's a creepy flick that I haven't watched in almost a decade.

I saw Caché at the DFT in 04 with Marie. Must have been one of the first few flicks we saw together. It blew me away and I bought the DVD. I raved about it at the time. Since then, Haneke's "Funny Games" (both versions) have also blown me away. The guy is phenomenal.

So, I continue my DVD binge as I'm laid up this week. I popped this in last night. I must admit, it lost some of its luster upon second viewing because it's all about thing being "hidden," and once you've seen it once then it's not quite as hidden anymore. I think I took away different aspects of the film on its second viewing though.

First off, I've you've seen Funny Games and liked it then that's about the only testimonial you'd need to watch this. If you haven't...go watch Funny Games. Then pop this in. It's a psychological thriller. Somewhat Hitchocockian. But with a fucking menace and unease that underpins the entire film. The whole vibe makes you feel uneasy from the first frame through the last. Voyeurism is kinda terrifying. It's a very human fear, and Haneke exploits that fear for the whole two hours.

If you need resolutions, if you need everything buttoned up then stay away. This flick is far more focused on theme and internal struggle than plot and external struggle. It's all relevant, and it's all considered, but dare I say this is a bit more Japanese in its construction. At least, that's my view on Haneke's focus.

Check out the trailer above. See this film. It's a silent powerhouse.

Monday, December 9, 2013

SOMM


I started watching Captain America. I got 45 minutes into it and just turned it off. CGI strikes again. I just couldn't handle it. So what'd I do? Put on a fucking documentary about Master Sommeliers. The obvious choice.

It popped up on Netflix and I gave it a whirl. 90 minute doc following the lives of a few young dudes prepping for their Master Sommelier exam. It's the typical documentary formula for any situation like this. Interview the people, their families, watch them study for the exam, blah blah blah.

It actually blew my mind how intense the test was. The sheer depth of knowledge is pretty staggering. Very impressive.

If you need to kill 90 minutes and want some light viewing...give this a shot. I dug it.

The interesting thing about sommeliers and wine criticism in general, is how varied the answers can be. How varied the critiques can be. One would imagine that if you're a master of anything there shouldn't be much debate about it. It's black and white, right or wrong. It's this wine or it's that wine. We're not talking about appreciation, we're talking about identification. I think there's a weird blurring of the lines with sommeliers; on the one hand it's a hard skill, but on the other hand it's artistic. So it's hard to quantify or test the artistry. I dunno.

I was drinking Gatorade when I watched it. Whatever. It's better than Captain America.


A Band Called Death


I ended up watching two movies tonight. I just checked out A Band Called Death.

I picked up their long-unreleased album as soon as it dropped in '09. I had never heard of the single before, never heard of the band. But I heard one track online and loved it. As a forgotten black proto-punk band from Detroit it was obviously something that piqued my interest.

The album is honestly amazing. The production is crystal clear, but it's from the early 70's so it's not over-produced. It's just high fidelity. High energy. The songs are imaginative. They're visceral. They sound like the Bad Brains...but more expansive. It's genius shit.

So fast forward to 2013. I watch the documentary. It's insightful. It gives a total picture of the band from their inception, through their demise, and into their adult years. It's obvious why they were lost for so long. They didn't do shit when they were around. At least judging by this doc' it appears they were a garage band who never made it past the garage. No mention of shows or anything. They just got into the studio, laid down this album, and got rejected by every label under the sun due to their controversial moniker. Even faced with the option of taking 20k (back then) to change their name and sign a deal...they didn't.

It's kinda crazy that this dude's kid finds out his dad was in a punk band from the internet. It was such a closed chapter in his dad's history that he had never even mentioned it. Cool to see the Livewire Board and peeps I know get a mention on screen. Pops, Minicucci, etc. But anyway...the doc. It's good. It's genuine. It's not amazing. But it's definitely worth watching. Death were amazing.

I've only heard horrible things about their current live shows, though. And from what I saw on the doc...yeah, you don't really need to see em live. They've certainly mellowed as the decades marched on. Stick to the album. Watch the doc. It's streaming on Netflix.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Jackie Brown


Day two, movie two. Since I'm still sitting on my ass feeling weird due to Percocet, I might as well watch more films.

I've had Jackie Brown in my Netflix queue for a long time. This is the Tarantino film I've seen the least. I hadn't seen this for over a decade and wanted to revisit it. So revisit it I did.

It stands out to me. Feels far less stylized and Tarantino-esque than his other flicks. He's nodding to the blaxploitation genre, but he's not. It stars Pam Grier, but it doesn't ham it up like a throw back to her films from the 70's. It's like a very sober version of Pulp Fiction. Almost reactionary to the flamboyance of Pulp Fiction. Like any Tarantino film...it's unique. Uniquely Quentin, and unique in the truest sense of the word.

Samuel L. Jackson kicks out another incredible performance. Obviously. Quentin can write for Jackson better than anyone can. They're made for each other.

I'm getting tired. So...yeah, you've seen this flick. It was good to watch it again. A good refresher for a good film. I wonder what I'll watch tomorrow.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Black Sunday (aka Mask of Satan)


It's been a while since I've posted on here. Been so busy with Temple of Void, work, and buying and selling freakin houses! And now I'm laid up due to my ACL surgery, so I've got some time to watch and read.

Tonight I watched Mario Bava's "Black Sunday." 1960 Italian horror. Particularly good cinematography. The edge lighting was exceptional. Such great lighting from beginning to end. Just take a look at the trailer. Beautiful.

It's a flick about vampires and Satanic possession. There are some gnarly scenes for the time, to be honest. It was a great money-maker for A.I.P. No shock there.

Is it good? Ehhh, kinda. This isn't really my genre, but I found it pretty entertaining no less. If you dig this sort of campy, derivative mid-century Italian horror...have at it! I thought it looked awesome.

Goth.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Heroin Holiday & Dirty Sprite

Vice is one of my favorite websites to go to. My Saturday mornings are spent watching Chris Harris on cars or browsing content on Vice. I don't love everything they do, some of it can be pretty obnoxious, but a lot of the time they get it right. They tip toe the line between real journalists and being exploitive and obnoxious. Anyways, here are two things from the site that I found interesting over the last week, both focusing on different aspects of drug culture, which I find pretty interesting. The first is a video about heroin addicts in Prague cooking their product and the other is an article focusing on the abuse of prescription cough syrup within American rap culture. Enjoy!

http://www.vice.com/Fringes/heroin-holiday
http://noisey.vice.com/blog/lean-on-me

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Mr. Nice


The second druggie film for this weekend, Mr. Nice.

This one hops the pond. We trade Haight and Ashbury for Oxford, England, circa the 60's. Weed is rampant all over the world. Yanks and limeys, toking it up.

This film came out in 2011 and it's by the director of Candyman, oddly enough. I remember that being pretty scary as a 12 year old. It's probably shite, though. Mr. Nice is awesome. Definitely worth watching pronto.

It stars Rhys Ifans and he does a terrific job in this true account of Britain's biggest drug dealer of the 60's and 70's, Mr. Howard Marks. Chloe Sevigny and David Thewis back him up. It's a very well acted film all round.

This film is slick. It's entertaining. Takes you on a good ride from innocent Oxford student to international drug smuggler extraordinaire. And unlike Mesrine, Mr. Nice is a hell of a nice guy.

I liked everything about this. You should stream it on Netflix.

The car porn is pretty sweet, too.

The only odd thing is what appears to be the use of green screens with period footage. I'm not buying the superimpositions of Rhys in the 60's and 70's. It's just no done slickly enough. Whatever.

Yeah, check this out.

Psych-Out


Had a druggie movie weekend. First I watched AIP's Psych-Out and then today I watched Mr. Nice.

Psych-Out is from 1968. Dick Clark produced it, American International Pictures released it, and Jack Nicholson starred in it.

And importantly, Laszlo Kovacs was the DP. (He was famous for Easy Rider and highly revered by cinema nerds the world over.) I just learned that when Jean Paul Belmondo used the alias "Laszlo Kovacs" in Breathless, he wasn't referring to the Laszlo Kovacs. It was just a weird coincidence. Godard dropped Breathless in 1960 and Kovacs wasn't on the scene til later that decade. Interesting.

Anyway, this was an AIP picture from the late 60's starring Nicholson and Bruce Dern...so you know exactly what you're in for. It's drugged-out. It's got a good soundtrack. It's sensational. It has a paper-thin plot. It's crap. But it's good.

Psych-Out is about a deaf girl who goes to SF in search of her brother. She's leaving her troubled life behind and finding solace in weed and LSD, love-in's and jive talk.

Freak out the squares, maaaaaan.

Psych-Out makes it look like everyone in their 20's or 30's in SF was a jobless, stoned, bum. The chicks were all hot and ready to bone ya at the drop of a hat. Drugs were aplenty, and booty was too. Looked like a fun time.

Oh yeah, and everyone talked a lot of psycho-babble and sounded like pretentious fucking retards.

Did I mention Jack Nicholson's character was named, "Stoney?" Yeah.

This is streaming on Netflix. It's not bad to check out. But it's not a "good" movie. It's...interesting.



This Is The End.

A very funny movie to watch during the month of October. Unlike some of these other guys films, where it gets a little more serious towards the end, this movie is funny through the end. Have a couple drinks and enjoy it.



Sunday, October 6, 2013

Dust to Glory


Dust to Glory is a film by Dana Brown. His dad is the man behind Endless Summer and On Any Sunday. So you know where Dana is coming from. Like father like son.

This flick covers the Baja 1000. It's a totally insane 1000 mile race from Ensenada to La Paz, Mexico. Motorcycles, trucks, Beetles, buggies...whatever. Even dudes like Robbie Gordon and Mario Andretti get in on the action. The only crazier race than this is the Dakar Rally.

Brown's cinematography on this flick is fucking superb. Lots of helicopter footage as well as helmet-cam footage. Every angle and perspective you'd want. It's very slick. Really well put together. The Brown's have a very long history with sports documentaries and Dust to Glory does not disappoint.

This film charts the paths of some specific riders/racers, including "Mouse" who's riding all 1000 miles on a bike solo!!! If the race wasn't crazy enough...doing it solo?!

This is streaming on Netflix. Check out the trailer. It's god damn exciting stuff.

These lovely ladies aren't in the flick, but his photo came up when I did a Baja 1000 search...so.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Love the Beast


This was really fuckin good. 90 minuted doc about Eric Bana's Ford Falcon.

I don't really know anything about Eric Bana, but this film ruled. He directed it. It's about the one car that Eric has owned since he was 15 and how it's evolved over the years and been a constant in his life.

Eric and his friends have rebuilt this car 3 or 4 times over the years. This film documents the last Targa rally he entered it in, the time leading up to the race, and a brief period after.

Jeremy Clarkson, Dr. Phil and Jay Leno round out the celebrity cast. Although it's really Eric's family and friends who have the real supporting roles in this flick. Clarkson is as funny and controversial as ever. It's good fun all round.

I don't really want to go into too much detail but this is definitely a flick that anyone slightly interested in cars can enjoy. See it.


Bosozoku by Masayuki Yoshinaga



I ordered this book from Amazon and got it a couple days ago. It's a photo book on Bosozoku gangs. I know I've touched on them a few times in the past, but to recap; Bosozoku are young Japanese biker gangs. Disenfranchised teenagers riding around on modified UJM's. They make noise, lots of noise, get drunk, party, get in small time fights. And wear kimonos when they ride.

A minority of them take the leap into Yakuza, but Bosozoku aren't as bad as their media portrays. Most of them are done by the time they hit 20 years old.

I'm interested in all things bike-related, so I wanted to have this book. It's a very unique tome. It comes in a hefty hard-cover slipcase, but once you pull the book out you realize there's no spine. It's a hard-cover, but all the pages are glued together in one massive accordion fold. So you read it from front to back, and you can make each spread as wide as you want, and then when you get to the end you turn it over and read it the other way around. When I say "read" I really mean "look." It's all photography. If you were to unfold the book it'd probably be over twenty feet long!

The photography isn't that great, to be honest. It could be a lot better. The photographer was at the right places at the right times...but his photos come across amateur. The Bosozoku have a crazy, unique bike style that's all their own. I dig.

It's a cool book to add to the collection, but I wouldn't run out to get this.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Like Water



I started watching the Ultimate Fighter last season. I dug it. And it just started again a couple weeks ago, so MMA is on my mind.

I saw Like Water come across Netflix and I decided to check it out. It's a 76 minute documentary about Anderson Silva. More specifically, it's about his 2010 title defense against Chael Sonnen (who was a couch in last year's TUF).

It was well done. Definitely more smooth and artistic than I expected. It's got a good original score and nice editing. Zero complaints. I guess the one thing...they should have shown the entire fight at the end for those of us who didn't see it live three and a half years ago. But whatever, you see the important parts and get the gist. Looked like a fucking phenomenal match!

This is definitely one of the better docs I've seen about any sort of fighting or martial art. Recommended.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Early Fall 2013 Mix

Here's a quick mix  of some of my favorite songs at this movement. Right now "R U Mine?" is top on that list for sure. You can stream it on yer phone as well. Enjoy.

PS The above pic is one I took from Laneway the other day, more to come on that soon(ish).

Monday, September 16, 2013

Linotype: the Film


A co-worker found this movie so I rented it on Amazon today. We watched it as a team.

Dug it! This was as good a documentary as anyone could make about a fucking Linotype machine. Before computers, before photosetters, there were Linotypes. The machines revolutionized the printing industry about 100 years ago when a Ottmar Mergenthaler figured out how to automate hand composition of lead type. The machine was six times faster than a man. And could leap a building in a single bound.

You type, it composes a slug of type with matrices, it then casts that slug with molten lead, spits out your finished line-o-type, and then re-files the individual matrices into their original cases. BAM!

So, this doc (or doco, as I just found out they say in Australia) discusses the history of the machine. It portraits some old operators as well as new operators, craftsmen, museum curators, educators, printers and linotype mechanics alike.

It's a low-budget flick but it tells a compelling story. You can get into it even if you're not a designer. I think...

It's a human story and that trumps all.

Friday, September 13, 2013

100 Bullets: First Shot, Last Call


I bought this noir book a while back and just finally read it. I didn't want to get hooked when I had too much on my plate. So now that it freed up a bit I was ready to plunge the needle.

Looking at the artwork for the cover of the first book, and you wouldn't be retarded for thinking this was a Sin City knock-off. Thankfully the hard-boiled criminal noir stands on its own. The characters don't have that glamorized, archetypical Bukowski element that you'd expect. This is Chicago. This is now. These are "gangstas" not "gangsters." There are no "dames," only "chicas" and "bitches." You get where I'm going.

Speaking of dialogue...I'm not totally sold on it. Sometimes it kind of reads like a honky trying to "speak ghetto." Feels a bit freakin stereotypical. A bit cheesy and forced.

The art is solid. It has its own style. It's tight and detailed, yet expressive. I dig.

The story is unfolding into an interesting idea. The first installment seems like it's a bit repetitive, but I'm interested to see how it ties into future books as the characters intertwine.

I'll probably try picking up a bunch of the books used on Amazon or something.

What would you do with 100 untraceable bullets?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Kvelertak


Again, here's some music I like, not sure if anybody else will. Kvelertak are from Norway and their name roughly translates to chokehold. They have some elements that remind me of Turbonegro and American Nightmare. Yeah, I know those points of references are straight from the 00s, but if you listen to them, I think you will agree. 

Kon Tiki


The first movie in a long time I felt like recommending. It's based on a true story. I'd heard of the novel but I never knew what it was about.  I'm definitely going to check the book out now.

So yeah I highly recommend this adventure movie. Especially for the scene below involving a parrot, a shark and two bad ass Norwegians.





Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The 4-Hour Work Week


I'm sure you know of Tim Ferriss. He's written the 4-Hour Work Week, the 4-Hour Body and most recently; the 4-Hour Chef.

I picked up the 4-Hour Body a while back, read it cover-to-cover and really dug it. I only practiced a minute amount of what he discussed, but that's neither here nor there. He does a lot of body experiments in that book and they're not things you can just do lightly. They require a lot of bullshit (read: supplements). But I gleaned some useful exercises and some insights on workout theory. It's a good reference book, especially if you plateau and want to try something different. It's just good to have around.

I liked his style of writing. Very informal, but informed. No pretense.

So, seeing as I'm always into reading about different work theories, management, etc, I knew I had to read his first book, the 4-Hour Work Week.

It wasn't quite what I expected. Although I honestly don't know what I expected.

The subtitle is pretty accurate, upon reflection. That's what it's about. There're definitely things you can try to do. Things to make you money. And things to free yourself from your cubicle. But I'd say this is heavily swayed toward the entrepreneur. Or people wanting to become entrepreneurs. It's less helpful for people who enjoy their office job or whose job simply wont allow them to work remotely. For instance if you're a teacher...you kind of need to be at work. (I know some classes are taught remotely but you're hardly gonna convince your principle that you can work the whole year...abroad.)

I have tried experimenting with some of the ideas, though. Most specifically I've contracted a Virtual Assistant at work. He lives in India and he will do my bidding so long as it doesn't require him to get off of his chair. I.E. he'll do whatever I ask as long as he doesn't have to go somewhere. It's all executed virtually. Via email, Skype, phonecall, smokesignals, whatever. So far it's been more of a success than I anticipated. I haven't found a ton of stuff for him to do yet, but what has been sent his way has been executed perfectly. I think it's something we're going to be able to scale. So even if I gain nothing else, the Virtual Assistant thing has been a cool experiment.

I bought the 4-Hour Chef for Marie for x-mas. She hasn't read it yet, but I read a couple chapters. Even though I don't cook (ever), it seemed like it may be the best book of the three. And I'm going to read it, too. It's just the theories and concepts he explains. The experiments. They're eye-opening and intriguing.

So, while I don't think Tim Ferriss's books will impact my life in a huge way, they're definitely fun to read. And that's why you pick up a book anyway.


Monday, September 2, 2013

London Boulevard


I know Hammer of Doom has seen this before. He said it was worth watching. So years later I'm checking it out.

It's pretty good. I agree with his assessment. While it's worth watching, you won't be raving about it like William Monahan is the second coming of Guy Ritchie.

London Boulevard has a strong English cast. Lots of staples. I was stoked to see Sanjeev Bhaskar with a small roll, too. He's a funny bugger.

The film sort of walks the middle-path. There are ups and downs, but they could have been much higher and deeper if Monahan had pushed the audience. There's a lot of implied gruesome violence. A lot happens off screen. And while I'm not saying gratuitous violence makes a film better, in this case I think some more visceral shots could have heightened the tension even more.

I dig the plot. It's pretty damn simple. Ex-con trying his best NOT to get caught up in the life again. Ex-con with a heart of gold. Ex-con with a past he just can't escape. Ex-con who's way of life catches up to him. Lots of stereotypical contemporary English lads and gangsters. Del Boy for the 21st century.

It's streaming on Netflix. You should watch it.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Kill Bill Vol. 2


I haven't been neglecting the blog. I just haven't finished a book or film in a while. Uncharacteristic, but I think bands, bikes, and good weather have gotten the best of me. Actually, I've been reading a lot of magazines, reading two books concurrently, and watching some TV series...so that accounts for it, too.

So, I finally put the Kill Bill Vol. 2 disc in my blu-ray player and fired it up last night. I should have watched them even closer together for an apples to apples comparison. I THINK I preferred Vol. 1. It's more of a Japanese samurai / Hong-Kong kung-fu flick, with some spaghetti western elements. Where as Vol. 2 is the opposite. And I HATE westerns, so that gives the nudge to the first part.

There were some real class scenes in Vol. 2, though. The buried alive thing, and the Pai Mei sequence were outstanding.

Anyway, upon re-watching both Kill Bill's, I definitely like them more than when I saw them in the theatre. BUT they're still at the bottom of Quentin's pile. So, if Kill Bill is the "worst" movie you can do...you're about the best Director out there. Cuz they still piss all over most Director's best output by a mile!



Friday, August 9, 2013

Raspberry Bulbs


So out of all the media I 'consume', music is far and away number one on the list. So I thought I would start posting more about bands that I'm into at the moment or have been listening to for awhile. My musical tastes are all over the place, so bare with me. Right now, I'm pretty excited about Raspberry Bulbs. They've got the lo-fi post punk sound with some elements of black metal. Although, the black metal sound is more evident in past releases. Raspberry Bulbs use to be a one man band/solo project of He Who Crushes Teeth, now it features Nick from RORSCHACH on guitar. Have to respect that.

 

 Raspberry Bulbs- Groping the Angel's Face (Stream)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Saga: Volume One

So comic books, err graphic novels, I don't know where to start... I want to love comic books the way that I want to love video games. I feel that both mediums have so much potential and yet in most cases, don't seem to follow through. Now, I'll be honest, I've played more video games than I've read comics. I like to read the Walking Dead, because I love zombies, and I've read the Watchman, because it's supposed to be the best comic ever. Both are good, but I wouldn't say great. That said, the Prez is always talking about comic books and how much he digs them. So I decided to get in on the ground level with a new(ish) series called 'Saga'. It's by the same dude who did 'Y: The Last Man', which I'm told by reputable sources, the Prez included, is incredible.

Saga is a sci-fi story about two warring planets of two different, for a lack of a better term, alien races. A couple (one from each planet) fall in love and have a baby. The main characters are looked upon as defectors, and are hotly pursued by both armies and some bounty hunters. The story is simple, but intriguing enough to keep me reading. The artwork is beautiful, and uncensored, which I can appreciate. 

I really enjoy science fiction when it's really well done. It's a genre that I don't think gets enough respect (Side note: I can't wait to see Elysium). And while Saga isn't the thoughtful, sophisticated sci-fi story I crave, it fills a void for me. This is the first comic that I've read where I'm invested enough in the characters to keep reading. I found this to be a fun read and I am looking forward to reading future volumes.

The Walking Dead: Vol 18


This one was hotly anticipated. After the mindfuck of issue 100...god damn. What's Rick's plan?

"What Comes After" delivers the goods. There are some really grim moments in this one. It's got a lot of action. Some crazy shit happens. I dig the current situation they're in. It's a rough one. But the characters are interesting. There's a lot of tension as things unfold. What exactly is Rick's gameplan? Gotta wait and find out...

I feel like there's a lot of twists and turns jammed into this particular volume. Some real dark territory. After issue 100 I don't think anything's off the table.

Some lazy-ass artwork at times. Annoying that such a high-profile comic has some real lazy drawings.

Again, can't wait for the next TPB. Chop chop.