Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Film Review—Atlas Shrugged, Part One

All the good directors and actors must have been on strike while this film was being made. It’s bad.

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Film Review—The Graduate

“Matthew Arnold set up three criteria for criticism: 1. What is the writer trying to do? 2. How well does he succeed in doing it? (…) 3. Does the work exhibit “high seriousness”? That is, does it touch on basic issues of good and evil, life and death and the human condition.” —William S. Burroughs, from A Review of the Reviewers

Let’s have a look. Number One on the list—what were the minds behind The Graduate attempting to accomplish? I believe the main objective was to constantly play Simon and Garfunkel songs while Dustin Hoffman stares at stuff, and also provide a set-up for the church scene in Wayne’s World 2.

Number Two—did they succeed? Well, the whole movie centers around Dustin Hoffman, staring at various things while Simon and Garfunkel songs play. They succeeded in that goal. The Wayne’s World 2 church scene also makes a whole lot more sense to me now. Success there as well.

Number Three—did the work touch on good/evil, the human condition, etc.? Yes, opposing forces meet, mingle, and ultimately clash. The themes and symbolism present in Hoffman’s erotic hotel rendezvous’ with the older woman which then segue into a relationship with that woman’s daughter are relatable, and could even be said to be archetypes present in Jung’s collective unconscious. And, finally—being honored with a parody by Mike Myers is a hallmark of “high seriousness.”

Going by these criteria, the movie appears to be flawless. By my criteria, it appeared to suck.



I Get The One Subway Sandwich “Artist” Who Was Influenced By The Minimalist Movement

It’s my own fault, really. I wasn’t paying attention when my sandwich was being made right in front of me.

I got home, bit into the sub. It made a whooshing fart sound, then deflated. I opened it up. The general layout was an embarrassment. The few ingredients in the sandwich were concentrated in the middle. A few pickles, a light splattering of black olives, a couple of tomatoes. Even the cheese had somehow withdrawn and puckered. A total of two pieces of green pepper were visible.

I’ve never had a Subway Sandwich Artist drop this kind of bomb on me before.

I would have gladly eaten a sub prepared by a Dadaist or Surrealist Sandwich Artist, if it would have gotten me more than four banana peppers. The sandwich I crave needs someone, maybe and Expressionist or Impressionist, who isn’t afraid to bombard the sub with rich, girthy, experimental swaths of ingredients, and more than one pass with the mustard bottle. But a Minimalist? I love a diversity of styles, but Minimalism has no place in Subway.

This sandwich artist was clearly rejecting the bombastic array of rich textures and colors before her in some sort of sick rebellion against the norms of conventional Subway Sandwich Art. I wanted a sandwich that would make me feel like this:

The Scream, by Edvard Munch, 1893

But got this:

Black Square, by Kazimir Malevich, 1915

Next time I go to Subway, I will be asking the potential Sandwich Artist to display a catalogue of previous works, as well as a list of creative influences.

Product Review: Lay’s Chicken & Waffle Potato Chips

“Short of examining the entire history of each individual participating, short of anatomizing each soul, what hope has anyone of understanding a Situation?” —Thomas Pynchon, from the novel V.

So, what is the situation here? We have chicken. We have waffles. From what I’ve heard, the combination is wildly popular in the deep American South. Then we have a potato chip company, trying to fuse the two into a flat, crunchy, wafer-like substance.

We’ll start at the beginning—what do we know about chickens? They taste good, especially when cooked and slathered in any variety of sauces—teriyaki, barbecue, sweet & sour, the list goes on—but what business do they have canoodling with potato chips?

And the waffle—a doughy member of the cake family, commonly stamped with a gridded pattern of craters that house syrup, butter, and any other condiment desired by the diner.

Then comes Lay’s, a potato chip manufacturer with origins in the American state of Ohio. Of what interest is a soul food classic to a corporate giant? All signs point to something vile, sinister, and altogether dastardly that will probably in one way or another screw over immigrants or the lower class.

Prelude to the taste test: I properly cleansed my palate—three saltines, washed down with a glass of water. Room temperature, lingering between 69 and 70 degrees, Farenheit. Optimal for ingestion, and its successor, digestion. Comfortable seat. Napkins. Hands washed. Heart at resting rate. Other vital signs—appeared to be normal.

Presentation: The chips had a very light tannish-orange color to them. They didn’t differ in basic appearance from any other potato-based crisp product I have ever consumed. I briefly thought, in a flight of whimsy, that it would be pleasantly delightful if Lay’s had invested in the research and development necessary to produce a waffle-like grid pattern on each individual chip. Then my mind came back to earth, and I chuckled at the notion of how ridiculous that would be.

Initial impression: First chip, of an ovoid shape, equal in area to four quarters, American. There was a noticeable transfer of oil onto my fingers. The crunch, nothing special. If Lay’s thinks they’re gonna come into my house with a groovy new product, believing that I’m not hip to chip culture, and then drop a lackluster crack-a-lack on me, well, then, they’ve got another thing coming. I’m not saying it was a bad crunch. It could have been better. Yet, I couldn’t help but wonder, was this a sly allusion to the delicate, yet noticeable crust of an expertly-crafted waffle, or the first bite of a fried-chicken drumstick, where there is a palpable crunch, but not in an overpowering manner? If so, well-played. If not, then I give them a hearty “eh.”

Taste: I suppose I could have just said this at the beginning—the chips just taste like syrup.

A Dissertation on the Ramifications of Purchasing a Poorly Crafted Fake Moustache

When making a major purchase (house, car, electronics, etc.) the old cliché “you get what you pay for” rings true. But this past weekend, my fellow consumers, I found that in the sick and depraved universe of fake moustaches it rings even more truer than a big ol’ samurai looking guy pounding on a gong.

It started well – the man on the package was the very poster child of upper lip fertility. A crop of hair that was dark, thick, commanding. Everything that I wanted for my own face. A look that says “this man knows exactly who he is and what he wants out of life.” You can’t not buy something like that.

I’m not sure as to the exact price of the ‘stache – it was packaged with a wig – but if I had to guess using the ratio of the size of the wig to the size of the moustache, it would have been about forty, fifty cents. And a fifty-cent crumb-catcher it proved itself to be. Upon taking it out of the plastic bag, I could immediately tell something wasn’t right. The synthetic hair looked real enough, but instead of a steady downward flow, the strands stuck straight out, and in some places up, making the ‘stache appear as if it had an erection. Even worse was the performance of the application pad. The thin strip of paper covering the adhesive was nearly impossible to peel off, and a portion of the hair was half ripped off in the blind rage caused by the frustration.

You can imagine my vexation as I was now walking around with an upper lip that appeared to have erect hair hovering in front of it. The meat of the moustache eventually fell all the way off, leaving me with the sticky pad and a fraction of the bristle that I had started with. At this point it looked like someone had glued pubic hair to my face.

Wisdom to take away from this situation: if you are planning on buying a fake moustache, don’t skimp. Find a local artisan, and pay his/her price, no matter how ridiculous it may seem.

Here’s the Blong (Blog Song). Clubroot – Comedown. Kind of Halloween-y.

Eskimo Spy

*Eskimo Spy was a classmate of mine. He wants to be a “buzzworthy music producer.” And I just want to get rich. So I wrote this. If you like it send me lots and lots of money.

Q – What kind of music would you get if Richard D. James of Aphex Twin fame had a sex-change, got impregnated by a race of aliens from the galaxy of Glarknoid, and gave birth to a baby who loves to synthesize?

A – There would be no way of knowing, because Glarknoidian creed dictates that any surrogate host of a fetus be discarded of immediately after harvest, with the offspring being whisped away to be educated and raised exclusively in Glarknoid culture. In addition to that, the human bank of knowledge on Glarknoidian scales and music theory is vague at best, which would cause any semblance of a tune to fall on uncomprehending ears.

Q – What if the first question was posed again, only this time the fetus was absconded with and kept here on Earth? Then the Daft Punk duo came along and adopted, loved, and raised it?

A – Again, there would be no way of knowing, because the Glarknoidians have travelled many light years to find a human uterus worthy of housing their progeny, and if their seed is tampered with, their superior musk-tracking skills will come into play, find and take their baby, and destroy mankind as punishment.

Enter Eskimo Spy. He is 100% Earthling, and has never lived in Richard D. James’ uterus. But please believe he would love to one day. No one is quite sure how long he has been spying on Eskimos. Or is he an Eskimo, spying on us? That has never been made clear. What is clear is that he’ll employ a sinister abundance of twisted synths to eat your cerebral cortex away from the inside out, only to exit peacefully, with everything somehow feeling refreshed and fertilized after the fact. Kinda like what a worm does. When he’s feeling particularly saucy, he’ll even take some bass, and make it ripple and shake, like a tectonic plate. Pepper some drums over that. Then listen. Click the links below to hear for yourself, because you never know when those Glarknoidians are going to descend upon us once again, perhaps this time targeting Eskimo Spy himself.

And here’s the Blong (Blog Song). It’s obviously Eskimo Spy.

Bev’s Wine Bar

Ah yes, the month of June.  A season when the dreaded male variant of homo-sapien, the douchebaggus-erectus, emerges from tanning booths at Lifetime Fitness Clubs across the nation, equipped with popped collars, “athletic-fit” T’s, and protein shakes in hand.  These orange-ish, shrunken-testicled oafs are what I was expecting I would be dealing with upon being invited to a quick Happy Hour beer at Bev’s Wine Bar in Minneapolis.  I mean, if you have “wine bar” in your title, one would expect these specimens to flock around it like an overturned semi full of creatine on the freeway.  But alas, the place was almost empty, and it was just my luck that the Twins also happen to be out of town this week (see older posts for the lowdown on that whole deal.)

But anyways, the conditions appeared to be right for a venture into this little nook nestled quietly onto Third Ave.  I sauntered there with two of my associates, The Red-Headed Ghost in the Canadian Tuxedo, and Slim. And as a fun little exercise, I decided to test my versatility as a writer by assuming the identity of a snooty Englishman. Lets call him Doctor Professor Arthur Esquire Floppingtonsworth, M.D.,  the Third. I also ended up learning quite a bit of British slang in the process.

The atmosphere, while palpable, held distinct notes of pretension, while the furnishings suggested the eroticism of a bygone era.  The bare, gray walls offered a hint of minamalistic opulence. Unfinished 10 meter-high ceilings, whether intentional on the proprietor’s part, or a by-product of brash American ennui, invite the patron to unzip his knickers and wallow in the crapulence of Western culture. One might assume that the bloke behind the bar had not cleaned it any more often than I brush my teeth. This being a winebar, we partook in a lager described to us as a full-bodied wheatbrew. Arthur will be the judge of that. As the collective U.S. waistline continues to expand at an alarming rate, one would expect a so-called full-bodied beverage to have a little more heft to its girth. These people are off their trolley! Gobsmacked that this fermented wheat drink they attempted to serve me was no more malleable than a day old bowl of mum’s figgy pudding, I had half a mind to box the barkeep’s ears right then and there. What a load of codswallop! If this is what Americans are using to get primed for rumpy-pumpy in the hoo-hah(what?), then I must bid them a squiffy ta-ta. Aren’t us Englishmen just adorable with our wonky yakking? Well, I have flapped my gums long enough, and have undoubtedly wasted precious moments of your life that you will never, ever, get back. Toodle-pip!

Today’s Blong (Blog Song) of the day comes to us from Cake. In the words a geeked-out skater once spoke to me, it’s soooooooo chiiiiiiill. Cool Blue Reason.

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