Monthly Archives: October 2009

Week in Review

I just got back to Portland last night after more than a week working and visiting in the Bay Area. So here’s a quick wrap of my last few days.

The Treasure Island Music Festival

treasure island overview

In it’s third year, the treasure island festival finally sold out. Ticket wise that is. The festival, a past time for me and Annie since its inception in 2007, was packed for both days, meaning more crowds and more craziness. Saturday the 17th was an electronic filled day of dance and DJs galore. I only got to see a limited amount of that day, but it was an earful. MGMT headlined the day, which also featured acts ranging from Passion Pit to Girl Talk to Murs. It was eclectic and exciting to say the least.

Day two, the 18th, was really more my style, with indie rock as far as the eye could see. The day was much chillier, and the music reflected that was Beirut, Grizzly Bear, and The Flaming Lips all gave us some stellar sets. Yo La Tengo was my personal highlight, a group that I have loved and praised for over a decade now, but have never seen live. They did not disappoint, playing an all time favorite (“Stockholm Syndrome”) as well as some great stuff off their latest record Popular Songs. Here’s some more pictures I did not take but which can be found on the treasure island website

flaminglips

the flaming lips

edwardsharpe

Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros

grizzlybear

Grizzly Bear ... I'm actually in this picture. Can you spot me?

After this weekend of fun and excitement, it was time for work. To make money, I set up and help run live events like this past week’s Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. This is the second or third time I did this show, and usually it’s a mixture of hugely powerful CEOs and the bums who want to sell their next big idea. Sometimes there is a special celebrity cameo. Last year it was Former Vice President and Nobel Prize winner Al Gore.

al gore

This year?

Carson Daly

Fuck.

So it was that I exchanged a head nod and eyebrow raise with Carson Daly backstage at Web 2.0 this year. Just a couple of dudes, saying what up.

Fucking Carson Daly man. What a glamorous life I lead.

So I was doing that for the week solid. Long days, lots of fun. It’s my job. When I wasn’t working I was getting reacquainted with terrible TV shows. I can tell you for a fact that TV is killing our minds, and they’re not even trying to be subtle about it anymore. I literally watched a CBS sitcom with a punchline that went: “I’ll have to Facebook him!” (huge unexplainable laughter coming from studio audience)

Sigh.

After so much depressing TV and work, it was high time I drove back up to Portland. Lo and behold, the night I get back there’s a great show happening at the Aladdin Theater. Ironically, or coincidentally at least, the band in question is from San Francisco. Hey, I was just there!

It’s the Dodos, with New Zealand’s Ruby Suns opening.

dodos-590x590

The Dodos is a recently upgraded duo to trio outfit that can be best described as punk folk, or stompin’ acoustic, or tribal country. I’m not sure. I can tell you that the drums from Logan Kroeber are hard and pounding as singer Meric Long’s guitar is furiously picked and strummed while Keaton Snyder’s giant xylophone/vibraphone monstosity is ding donging along and the whole thing is just so good. It’s head nodding, foot tapping rocking out pure white heat, and made for an amazing return to PDX.

Today I had a health exam complete with paper suits and blood letting, but you don’t want to hear about that now do you? Next week I’m off to Vegas, celebrating Ben and Nicole’s wedding on Halloween. Sweet God, I am looking forward to that. Until then…

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Captain Lou Albano, 1933-2009

Rest in Peace Captain Lou

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Classic Movie Review: Nighthawks

Welcome back to Classic Movie Review, where we dig up relics from the past and put them on the pedestal. This time we take a look at a popular, but largely forgotten piece, Nighthawks.

No no no. Not the painting Nighthawks, though that is considered a classic in its own right. But I’m not an art critic. I’m a movie critic. And I usually don’t consider them to be the same thing, unfortunately. No, for now I am talking about the film Nighthawks. The classic movie from . . .

NO! No, what is wrong with my images today? NO, I’m not talking about the 1978 British gay film. Please. I’m talking about the incredibly American not at all homo erotic buddy cop action film with Sly Stallone.

Really. No, that is what I’m talking about. Not the other one. No way. Not that there’s anything wrong with Richard Peck’s 1978 film about a gay man living a double life. No sir, nothing at all. It’s just not what I’m reviewing is the thing. It’s the Stallone Nighthawks. Seriously. nighthawks

Yes. Yes, that’s it. The “one man can bring the world to its knees” Nighthawks. The 1981 classic film that saw Stallone doing his best Serpico impression, teamed with Lando Calrissian, and fighting Roy Batty from Blade Runner. What a flick!

We start in New York, late 70’s or early 80’s. Either way the town is a total garbage dump in this era. Dirty subways, grimy streets, a tough town. The town that gave birth to Robert De Niro and Al Pacino ova’ here. You talkin’ to me? Attica! Attica!

We open on a lady walking down a very dangerous street. She’s confronted by some thugs, but just then, she strikes! Slamming her purse into thug number one, she whistles for help, and takes off her wig, revealing herself to be Stallone! In drag! What? This is what they make you do in vice now?

Stallone chases thug number two, while Billy Dee Williams cuffs the others. You see they’re partners, but there aint no way Billy Dee is getting into a dress. Stallone chases down the thug and whips him good. So there. Now you know our two hero cops, Stallone plays Deke De Silva and Billy Dee Williams plays Matthew Fox.

No! No no no no no. Goddammit! What’s going on here? No, Billy Dee Williams is Det. Sgt. Matthew Fox, not Lost star Matthew Fox. The hell?Nighthawks3000There we go. That’s it, blog. One more screw up from you and I’ll turn this post right around and go home.

We cut to London, and we’re given exact dates as if we care, where a bearded Rutger Hauer is strolling around a department store. But we know better. Somehow, we’ve already guessed he’s the bad guy. We sure know it aint Serpico, I mean Stallone.

He sets down a package, walks out, and sure enough – bam! The whole place goes up and he gets on a phone to tell the media, so image conscious this mad bomber.

Wait a minute Charlie, you’re thinking. This whole thing isn’t really sounding too classic at all. I’ve never heard of this movie, you say. In fact, so far it sounds completely formulaic, uninspired, down right contrived. What’s the deal?nighthawks3

It’s Hauer people. This was Rutger’s first American movie, the man was unknown. But he holds and even surpasses the star power of Stallone and Billy Dee with terrifying aplomb. He’s a cool character. Both a suave ladies man, and brilliant terrorist. He’s scary. Very scary, but with such a natural charm, it’s like he’s not even trying. Trust me on this. I really think this is the movie that got him the part in Blade Runner, his most iconic performance to date.

Ok so we’ve got the bad guy set up. All ready to go. Now the movie’s really going to pick up speed.

Cut to Stallone and Billy Dee busting up a drug house. Another exposition scene involving character development. Ok.

Cut to Rutger hiding out and escaping/ killing a bunch of policemen, or “bobbies” as you Brits would say. Alright, more character development I suppose.

Cut to Stallone and Billy Dee working vice in Central Park, more character development. C’mon now guys, we get it. There shouldn’t need to be this much set up.

Cut to Rutger, talking about how everyone is after him and he needs to go to America. Yea, we could have figured that out. After all, New York is where the story takes place.

Cut to Stallone and Billy Dee arguing with a police chief. Yes, you guys, we get it. They are both loose cannons, wild cards, impulsive, no nonsense cops, both of them. They are partners. Got it.

Cut to Rutger in New York. Movie, please speed this up.

"Somebody put me back in the fridge."

Cut to Stallone and Billy Dee, what is this? Are we just going to go back and forth forever? We’re almost forty minutes in, and nothing has happened to really advance this thing. I’m waiting…

Now we have Stallone and Billy Dee getting recruited to go on an anti-terrorism force specifically to go after Rutger, whose terrorist name sounds a little confused by the way. Wulfgar? Wulf-gar? Like a wolf? Or is it German? Kinda seems like a lazy name. Anyways. Stallone and Billy Dee literally spend ten movie minutes sitting in a room learning about Wulfgar, all of which is info WE ALREADY KNOW. Why are you recapping this thing for the characters, movie? Fucking get on with it.

It even get as tedious as this: Interpol guy lecturing them on Wulfgar tells them that Wulfgar likes nice clothes, women and clubs. Cut to Wulfgar in nice clothes, talking to a woman at a club! Tell or Show movie, not both. Not both! This is like when the teacher gave handouts in school and then read word for word the handout he or she had just given you. Either tell us or hand it out- there’s no need to read to us what is on the paper, no need.

This movie is starting to frustrate me. And you know what? Stallone feels the exact same way. He’s getting fucking pissed at this Interpol guy going on and on. “Why are we not looking for this creep?” Stallone asks. And he’s right. This movie is killing me right now? Why?

Finally, Stallone and Billy Dee get out on the streets where they belong, and they start tracking down zee Wulfgar. And just like that, they spot him. Could have done that ten minutes ago. Now the movie is starting to go somewhere. In a dance club, Stallone and Wulfgar share this massive stare down, with Stallone and Billy Dee looking about as conspicuous as any cop could look, and Wulfgar immediately figuring out whats going on. They shoot it out a bit, then run around the city, eventually leading to a tense moment on the subways. Now the movie is finally working.

Billy Dee gets hurt in the chase, leading to a tender moment with Stallone holding him and cradling his face. They look long into each others eyes. It would be touching if I hadn’t already seen these characters developing for an hour already.

What comes after that is a memorable scene involving the Roosevelt Island Tram and a hostage situation. Rutger Hauer plays the villain perfectly, while Stallone goes on yelling things at the top of his lungs like “You’re dead! You’re fucking dead!” The finale is something you’ll have to see, but suffice to say, there’s more cross dressing involved. (Spoiler? Is is possible to spoil a movie from 1981?)nighthawks4

So why Nighthawks? Well, there’s some great performances by actors in their prime, especially Billy Dee Williams, hearing he was in it is why I watched it. The man needs more work. And I’ve already gone on about Rutger. Love that guy. There’s also some good stuff at the end if you can stand getting there. It’s a mindless film trying to be more, and not really accomplishing it. But the effort is worth noting. The music is killer, a synthesizer epic from composer Keith Emerson. A good time overall. AAAANNNDDD, you can watch it for free on Hulu or IMDB, they’re just giving it away. And that’s how it should be. Nighthawks, bringing a whole city to its knees. Chick a wow wow.

-Charlie

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Zombieland

This has been the biggest movie in the country for at least a week now, so this is definately late, but here you go.

Zombieland takes the zombie genre in yet another humorous direction. The entire genre has been more than saturated and played out in the last decade or so, but for some reason it’s still alive and kicking. Wait, that doesn’t sound right.

Well, it’s still popular at least, which means that basically any old hack can take a stab at it and come out a head. Get it? A head? Awesome. I’m hilarious.

This movie starts off pretty much the same as any other undead flick. Zombies take over, people get eaten, world effectively ends. Throughout the movie, Jesse Eisenberg narrates it like he’s reading off his high school book report, blandly giving us his rules and repeating himself at no end. We last saw Eisenberg in another “land” movie, Adventureland, which leads me to wonder what’s next for our little Michael Cera with a fro.

Maybe Familiarland?

Redundancyland?

AmusementParksMustBeReallyCheapToFilmAtRightNowland?

Anyways, he’s the narrator, but he’s not really the star.

No no. That role belongs to Woody “nut up or shut up!” Harrelson, playing his most bad ass character to date. As the Twinkie obsessed, snakeskin wearing, mad eye staring, banjo plucking, zombie killing machine “Tallahassee”, Harrelson reminds us why he’s the man. Every time he’s on screen, he’s the focus, he’s the center, this movie could have been just Woody driving around blasting and slugging out the undead, and it would have ruled. Can’t wait for Zombieland 2: Tallahasse Boogaloo.

This isnt actually in the movie, but damn! Even his Segway looks bad ass.

This isn't actually in the movie, but damn! Even his Segway looks bad ass.

The film has some genuinely funny moments, a good couple of one liners, and probably the single greatest cameo of all time (I won’t tell you, but those dicks at IMDB will spoil the surprise if you want), but here’s the thing with the whole zombie comedy thing for me, a Zombie apocalypse is not really a very funny idea.

I mean think about it. The zombie apocalypse is such a hugely popular idea right now specifically because it is the single most terrifying thing our society can think of. As humans, our most intense fear is being eaten. From the times we were roaming plains with lions and tigers and bears (oh my) we’ve been trained first and foremost to NOT be devoured. It’s science. Add in the very idea of ANY apocalypse, and we’re pretty much bat shit scared. Look at all of the non zombie apocalypse movies right now, from The Road (can’t wait to see it) to 2012 ( specifically waiting until 2013 to see, so I can enjoy the sheer comic absurdity of it). We as humans want two things to never happen to us, and zombie apocalypse is basically both.

So the idea of an almost unkillable cause they’re already dead force, charging at us with inhuman strength, trying to rip us limb from limb for the direct purpose of consuming our flesh ain’t exactly the Three Stooges over here. And while we’re at it, since when did zombies run? Are we sooo attention deficit as a people that we won’t even wait for the zombies to walk towards us? They have to sprint like they’re going for the gold? When did that start? Probably 28 Days Later, although we all know that’s not a zombie flick. Right on zombie purists!

But seriously, there’s a real terror and dread when we’re trapped in a house and zombies are just sort of lumbering and walking ever steadily towards us, it draws out the tension, the terror. Plus, it gives the fatties a chance to get away too. Rule number one is Cardio after all.

Well, at least Zombieland doesn’t wind up taking itself too serious, like Shaun of the Dead did in the baffling last act of upmost horror. Zombieland keeps it simple, keeps it fun. A hell of a good time, and definately the zombie flick of the year, at least until George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead. You can not stop the Romero, you can only run for your very lives.

-Charlie

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Damn, Dave

Another week, another celebrity sex scandal. Seriously famous folks, you live in the fucking spotlight. Can’t you learn that you need to work a little on keeping it in your pants?

Annie said it right the other day, “Why would a celebrity even make a sex tape?”

Why indeed would a national figure, be he the President or a late night talk show host, risk all of that work for a couple minutes on Mister Toad’s wild ride?

Yesterday, David Letterman told the entire nation that he slept with staff members on his show for years. He also told us that he’s only telling us this in the first place cause we were going to find out anyways. Better to hear it from the jackass’ mouth first I guess.

He was going to be blackmailed, or so the sordid story goes. So he gave it up. Now this stuff happened before Letterman was married, and so far I don’t think anything under age or non consensual happened, but David can’t not look a little sleazy for this. Too bad to. He seemed like a stand up guy there. Even had Obama on his show last week. What a difference a day makes.

Now Letterman, like many other entertainers before him, including recently in the news Roman Polanski-who by the way I am no longer forgiving, the man is a fucking criminal- is stirring up emotions about just what it means to be a flawed figure in the public eye. An eye that has no room for flaws. People are being all, “how could he make all those Monica Lewinsky jokes then?” Like they’re shocked that he would.

People, please get lives. Soon.

People, please get lives. Soon.

This is coming only months after Letterman pissed off a bunch of uptights with a joke about Sarah Palin’s daughter and Alex Rodriguez. He’s really not on his best this year it seems.

But at least he’s not painfully unfunny like NBC’s late night shtick. Conan and Jimmy Fallen hurt, really hurt most of the time. And Leno’s new show? The fuck is happening to late night? Johnny Carson is rolling around in his grave. Probably Ed McMahon too.

What do I think of this whole affair? Frankly, it ain’t none of my business, and I stopped watching Letterman when he stopped throwing shit off of roofs. So what the fuck ever. But seriously celebrities. You guys need to shape the Hell up. This is getting ridiculous now.

Also, Glenn Beck may have raped and murdered a young girl in 1990.

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Comic Books are Awesome, But All-Star Superman is Confusing as Hell

To begin, I’ve never really been a Superman fan. It’s hard for me. I try, I really do. And I understand the importance of Superman, both historically and presently, as the flagship of DC Comics. There is no denying that he is the original superhero, and still the most recognizable figure in comics today. That’s not easy to do, and it’s a position I doubt he will ever be relieved from.

So what’s the deal? I grew up in a very rocky time for Superman fans, especially young ones. When I was 11 years old, Superman died. He died! They killed him, and everyone really thought that would be the end. I remember reading those issues, borrowed from friends and libraries. It was sad, it was shocking, it was over.

And then he came back, and there were these alternate Supermen, there were different dimensional story lines, there was that electric blue version, I couldn’t figure it out. Superman has always been a character whose involvement with space and time has perplexed me. And what perplexes me usually turns me off after a while. It’s like DC does these Infinite Earth series, I just can’t wrap my head around it. This is probably why my favorite comic book hero is still, and always will be, Batman. Sorry Supes, you’re just too much hero for me.

So recently, I picked up All-Star Superman, about four years late to be sure, but no one has ever accused me of being timely with these posts. I have enjoyed a lot of writer Grant Morrison’s work, albeit except when he gets all confusing like in Countdown and that nonsense, and I had heard that this was a re-imagining of the character in a timeless and classic sense. So, I figured this was a Superman story I could get into, the classic characters and amazing adventures without all the muck of this or that storyline.

Well, forget all that. All Star Superman is one of the most confusing convoluted comics I have ever come across. It zips around almost incoherently sometimes, and though hints of classic Superman moments exist, they are largely dropped in favor of a plot that introduces elements completely beyond my mere imagination of the character. Let’s look at Volume One (issues 1-6).

We start with a simple, four panel, eight word backstory, my favorite kind. If I have to sit through one more origin story of Superman, I might scream. While Morrison’s writing is precise and direct, Frank Quitely’s art is even more so a clear and dramatic focus of events. Right off the bat, we get maybe one of the best artistic works of Superman ever created.

The art throughout this book is stunning, simplistic yet effective, probably the best part of the series. And with Jamie Grant’s impressive coloring, and Phil Balsman’s elegant lettering, it’s never a chore to look at. Unfortunately, I don’t really know what I’m looking at half the time.

The story begins at the Sun, where Lex Luthor has sabotaged a spacecraft attempting to collect some of the star’s, um, power? Juice? Whatever? Superman saves the day, but the extreme radiation and intensity of the solar rays, which are what gives Supes all these powers in the first place, has sort of overloaded his system. Yikes.

He’s got more powers, and less weaknesses-just what he needed I’m sure- but is said to be dying, slowly and ironically as it were, and this is evidently Luthor’s plan all along. Smart guy. So Superman is dying, the scientist who he saved is trying to figure out how to A) save him, and B) create other super powered beings in case he can’t, Lex is going to jail for crimes against humanity, and Lois Lane’s got a birthday coming up. Busy fucking first issue folks.

Then we get into the most eye rollingly ridiculous plot line I’ve ever come across. Superman once again tells Lois that he’s really Clark Kent (duh!) and she doesn’t believe him! Why are we still going on this track? It was played out in the movies over thirty years ago. They’ve been married in the comics, she’s found out his identity dozens of times. Get over this whole thing please.

They go to his fortress of solitude and he’s acting all weird right? Secret rooms, dwarf star keys (sheesh, he’s strong, we get it) and leaving Lois alone to wander around his new time telescope. ( It lets him talk to his Super successors, those who come after him, like Kal Kent the Man of Steel…of Tomorrow. What original names we have here. )

There’s so much useless junk in this fortress, it’s a wonder he can get around, genetic libraries, phantom zone map rooms, the freakin’ Titanic! There’s even a point where Superman looks at this mirror and  goes “Mirror of truth, huh?” Even he doesn’t believe all the shit Morrison’s stuffed in there!

And not only that, but Superman gives Lois, for her birthday, not the truth about his dying or anything meaningful but a vial of Super soda that grants her his powers for 24 hours. So they can go on a Super date I assume. Aaaand, not only that, but she gets her own Super skimpy suit, so he’s not the only jackass in tights. Look at this.

I swear I almost put the book down at this point. Really. I was laughing at the stupidity of the whole thing to a point where I just couldn’t take it seriously. For me, comics ( and actually any story out there) need to at least have some semblance of a grounded reality to play off of. Even a sliver, even a speck. So when a Super Sphinx comes about or a future version of Superman, the unknown Superman nonetheless, asks who J.Lo was, it kind of destroys the character and story for me.

I mean at this point it’s too much, and we’re only three issues in. There’s no build up to this, no explanations, it’s all hanky. We jump around to different points waaay too quickly, waaay too briefly. For example, we have a single issue story of an Evil Superman, when Superman is exposed to something called Black Kryptonite (which seems kind of racist, no?) and Jimmy Olson injecting himself with something that turns him into Doomsday to fight him?

The Hell is going on? It’s like a bunch of Superman stories that would boggle even the most hyperactive, attention deficit of comic fans. I can’t keep up with this. There’s an underverse, there’s a 5th dimension Superman, there’s bizarro infra-technicians and worker drones, there’s a measurement of 200 quintillion tons, there’s genetically modified suicide bombs in human form. And it’s all just so, I can’t , why did, who’s zit, what’s zit, AAAAUUUGGHH.

My brain just broke. Thanks a lot Superman.

What do you think Batman would have to say about this comic?

SHUT THE FUCK UP

-Charlie

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