July 15, 2006

A Visit to the Rock Hall

I spent 5 1/2 hours at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame today, and it was glorious. even though i've been living in Cleveland for three years now, i still hadn't visited during that time. i had been once, though, back in high school, so i didn't think i'd enjoy today's tour as much as i did. maybe it was the tour guide, who offered interesting insights into the exhibits and into bands which, for the most part, i was already pretty familiar with. the temporary bob dylan exhibit was great, the main exhibits in the basement are full of some great artifacts, but these weren't even the highlights for me. the first of these was the pink floyd stuff, which is very limited in the hall of fame, but the Division Bell heads and the Wall display are pretty awesome. i asked our guide why there wasn't more Pink Floyd stuff in the Hall, but he wasn't able to give me a very satisfactory answer, beyond the idea that since the band is still alive and touring (even if separately) they may be hanging on to their stuff. still, to have two giant artifacts there from my favorite band was great to see, both of which i don't remember from my first visit, somehow i must have missed them...
as for the second highlight, it was the hour long video presentation of all of the hall's inductees, presented with each year's induction class together. the video is just a montage of performances and videos of all of the inductees, but seeing them together like that was fantastic. i got really emotional during the video, and i'm not even sure why. maybe it was seeing all of those musicians who were gone before their time, wondering what could have been. jim morrison, janis joplin, hendrix, john lennon, marvin gaye, otis redding, buddy holly, richie valens, the big bopper, keith moon, john bonham, duane allmann, the list goes on and on. some people say that that is part of the mystique of these musicians, that seeing them playing for another forty years beyond their prime would be painful, and it's for the best that all we have is those brief flashes of brilliance. as neil young sang, it's better to burn out than to fade away. yeah, maybe, but i'm pretty sure stones fans are happy with the forty years that they've had to listen to new music from their favorite band. but maybe that wasn't even it, maybe it was just being assaulted with all of these images and sounds of some of my favorite music all at once. as i walked out, i heard some girls sitting outside complaining about the video because it was just a bunch of pictures and songs from the bands inducted. and yes, that is all it was, but to me, that is what the place is about. the entire rock hall exists to celebrate the music of these people, and what that music has meant to individual listeners and to the world, and that's what the video represented in one quick extravaganza of sight and sound. rock and roll has had a huge impact on the world, and maybe those girls wanted to see a video telling them about that, but sometimes the music is enough as it is. or at least it was for me. oh, and one other highlight, seeing the lyrics to Rockin' in the Free World written by Neil Young on a manilla folder, i actually teared up. i honestly don't think there are many better verses than the second one in that song: i see a woman in the night/with a baby in her hand/under an old streetlight/near a garbage can/now she puts the kid away and she's gone to get a hit/you know she hates her life and what she's done to it/there's one more kid that'll never go to school/never get to fall in love, never get to be cool/keep on rockin' in the free world

clearly, the title and chorus are not meant as some pro-american anthem. i wonder if any idiot politician asked to use it for his campaign, like reagen did with Born in the U.S.A., which if you actually listen to the lyrics, and have the mental capacity of an eight year old, than you'll realize that it isn't quite the USA lovefest that Reagen thought it was

to anyone who hasn't been there and enjoys music, even if it isn't the music you typically associate with the rock hall, take a chance and visit the place. it can help bring a better understanding of where music is today and where it has been, and how some things never change. the exhibit on teen idols, which has outfits ranging from ricky nelson to britney spears, and the exhibit on the negative reaction to rock and roll's emergence (you realize they used to burn beatles albums, right?) were particularly pertinent even today. see, cleveland does have something to offer the world.

and now, for a list of the coolest random stuff i heard while at the rock hall:
1. Prince wears a size 1 in women's clothing
2. Pearl Jam used to call themselves Mookie Blaylock, after the Atlanta Hawks guard, apparently just because they thought it sounded cool (while I already new this, i still think it's so cool it's worth mentioning)
3. in San Francisco they printed Janis Joplin caricatures on napkin-sized paper....that was perforated and used for dropping acid
4. Charles Manson wrote a letter to Rolling Stone after they featured him on the cover, he signed it with a swastika and asked for a free subscription
5. Otis Redding's plane that crased left from Cleveland on its way to Pittsburgh (only interesting cos now shards of that plane with his name on it reside in a display case in the rock hall, and cos cleveland is clearly bad luck for anyone who comes here, just look at otis, bill bellicheck, kellen winslow jr.)
6. the Rolling Stones and the Beatles switched images, as the Rolling Stones grew up rich while the Beatles were the punks of their day, but the Stones were the tough band while the Beatles had the clean image early on

that's it for today, enjoy the heat

Superheroes

The imperfection of Superman logic: I had this conversation with someone recently, and since i'm watching Unbreakable on TV right now, superheroes are on my mind. While watching Superman Returns, i was taken out of the movie during one fairly crucial scene. Spoilers to follow. He lifts what is essentially a continent of crystals out of the ocean and hurls it into space, but the thing that bugged me was the fact that he is shown to be working hard and struggling to move this sizeable object. this comes after he stops a plane that's lost control and is about to crash. he is shown having to work to stop it. superman struggling to move something suggests a limit to his strength, which actually goes against the understanding that he his powers are infinite. if he is struggling to lift a continent, what is the limit of his physical strenght? can he stop a planet? the assumption is that he could, but then his displays of exertion are illogical. i understand that watching a superhero, even if it's superman, effortlessly lift a continent would bother more people than him sweating to lift it, but it really took me out of that scene and got me thinking about how superheroes are depicted. in Unbreakable (which is actually my favorite Shyamalan movie), Bruce Willis is testing his physical limits by lifting more and more weight while bench pressing, and he is shown exerting more and more effort to lift those weights. but that doesn't really bother me, because even if he has superhuman strenghth, it doesn't imply that he has limitless strength, so the scene still rings true to me, unlike the scene in superman. and yes, i'm a huge dork.

more on shyamalan: the trailer for his newest movie, Lady in the Water, is out, and it's available here. and i think it looks fantastic. but, and here's the rub, so did the trailers for Signs and the Village, both of which, i feel, fail to deliver on the expectation set forth by the trailers and the first halves of the movies. it is the endings to each of these movies that don't really do it for me. while some people would argue with me on that opinion for Signs, I don't think too many would for the Village, which i found to be very dissapointing, mostly because he unnecessarily complicated the story. honestly, wouldn't it have been a shitload better movie if there really were monsters in the woods? but the reason i'm sticking with him, at least for a few more movies, and will go see Lady in the Water, probably opening weekend, is because he is damn good director. my main issue is with him as a writer. he has relied too much on the big twist so far in his career, when he should try making an entertaining movie that is a little more straightforward. making an audience think is commendable and a worthy cause, but forcing the issue with stories that just make the audience laugh when the big twist is revealed (i was witness to this in the Village, more than a few people laughed outloud) makes me wish for a simpler, but more enjoyable, movie. so anyway, here's rooting for a keeper with Lady in the Water.

July 14, 2006

Headbutts, Vampires, Magic, and a lack of football

so the World Cup ended last Sunday, and i was obsessed with it while it was going on, but, just as with most sporting events, my interest quickly fades as something else catches my eye. i watched the final of course, which will most be remembered for Zidane's headbutt. it's an unfortunate ending to a great career, but i've already lost interest while writing this sentence...

so i'm watching From Dusk til Dawn right now, and i've come to realize that it is an amazingly guilty pleasure that is a helluva lot of fun to watch. and i must admit, i find the 2/3 of the movie that doesn't deal with vampires to better than the third that does. george clooney is a badass. so's harvey keitel. tarantino isn't much of an actor, but he does play a damn good crazy guy. he can still write though, and seeing it again makes me even more excited about Grind House. read an interview Entertainment Weekly had with them (Robert Rodriguez and Tarantino) here.

wow, i just found out that Volver, Almodovar's new film, won't be coming out for a while, with the NY and LA openings November 3, meaning that where I am, the relatively podunk Cleveland, I will be lucky to see it by Thanksgiving.

also, the trailer for The Prestige, Christopher Nolan's new movie with Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman (and yes it's about magic, but you can't tell me it looks dorky), is now online. check it out
i hope the final countdown and will arnett make appearances in this one....

is it football season yet?....sportscenter sucks this time of year

July 13, 2006

Muzak

So, The Eraser's arrival came and went, although I don't know with how much or how little fanfare, all I know is that there were plenty of them at Best Buy when I went after work. For those who don't know, The Eraser is thom yorke's first album without the rest of Radiohead. my mind is not yet made up on the greatness of the album, but it does harken back to the kid A and amnesiac days for the band, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. somewhere, i read a description of the album as electronica with thom's singing overlaid, which is fairly accurate, yet i like the songs a lot more than that description makes me think i would. until i have a chance to fully digest the entire thing, it stands as another memorable entry into my music catalogue but, hopefully, it is just a stepping stone to the ultimate radiohead album, which i had expected to have come out by now. it's now been three full years since their last album, which is unfortunate for me because that's when i first got into the band. i've had a fairly extensive discography to delve into over those three years, including six albums, a few EPs, and more singles and b-sides, but the world is due for a great radiohead album, which there really hasn't been since 2000's Kid A.

for the record, my ever-changing list of favorite radiohead albums:

1. OK Computer: top to bottom their strongest album, never straying far from pure genius
2. The Bends: more of a pure alt rock record than the later albums, which makes it a little more accessible
3. Kid A:
4. Pablo Honey: a great debut, the purest and simplest rock from radiohead, which is not intended as an insult, and is much more than just the one-hit-wonder that wasn't of Creep
5. Amnesiac: musically, it's tied to but lacks the appeal of Kid A, but still some great songs
6. Hail to the Thief: just doesn't do it for me; tried to find a compromise between the electronica tendencies of Kid A and Amnesiac and the rock of OK Computer and earlier, but it fails, not horribly, but it just doesn't have the qualities to make you keep going back

remember when you were young?
you shone like the sun....

the other big news on Tuesday, in my life anyway, was the death of Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd's co-founder and original leader. he gave the band direction and meaning in the early years, even though those weren't the years for which I, and most of the world, love the band. in fact, his leaving the band made room for Roger Waters to spread his wings and for David Gilmour to join, thus forming one of the great rock pairings in history. but pink floyd wouldn't have become the greatest band in history (my personal feelings) without syd barrett, even if you don't take into account his inspiration for the entire Wish You Were Here album as well as countless other songs. he was undoubtedly a genius, even if i didn't like most of his songs. he's left a lasting legacy through his catalogue as well as the members of Pink Floyd he influenced and inspired.

shine on you crazy diamond

July 11, 2006

Thoughts for the Day

there's only two kinds of people in this world: those who don't give a shit about anyone else

The Eraser has arrived, more on that in the future.

Rest in peace, Syd.
More on him, too.

July 01, 2006

Why I Will Be Broke in Six Months

Movies. this is going to be a helluva year for movies, even if a bunch of the ones i'm stoked about end up getting delayed to next year/spring/summer. regardless, the upcoming six months to year are absolutely loaded with top notch directors, actors, and films. just to give you an idea, the following directors have movies that are already in production coming out in america, at least according to the latest info from IMDB, sometime between now and early 2007: Richard Linklater, Kevin Smith, Shyamalan, Michael Mann, Woody Allen, Oliver Stone, Michel Gondry, Mike Judge, Broken Lizard (collectively), Brian De Palma, Christopher Guest, Scorcese, Darren Aronofsky, Sofia Coppola, Clint Eastwood, Christopher Nolan, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Linklater again, Richard Kelly, Steven Soderbergh, Mel Gibson, Robert De Niro, David Lynch, Werner Herzog, David Fincher, Danny Boyle, Soderbergh again, and Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez.

the summer blockbuster season consists of fun but mostly mindless movies that don't become lifetime favorites. the true quality flicks start up in the fall and continue into oscar season. even during the summer season, though, some of the biggest directors' films are coming out. while many of the movies i'm excited for will, inevitably, disappoint me and many others, the real question is how much money am i going to be spending to see all of these damn movies...i think i should start saving now.

all of these dates are very tentative and will change so don't quote me, use a reliable source instead

June 23 (??): Pedro Almodovar's Volver
Technically this one doesn't count, since it was released a while back in Spain, but it's new to me so i'll take it. The release date seems incorrect, considering it's yet to play anywhere near me, but I'm still excited about it. After All About My Mother and Bad Education, he's clearly making films that are unlike anything i've seen from a U.S. director, and i haven't even seen what's his apparent masterpiece, Talk to Her.

June 28: Bryan Singer's Superman Returns
Only reason he's on this list is because of The Usual Suspects, still one of my all-time faves with, possibly, one of the greatest endings in movie history. Already saw this one and enjoyed it. I had missed the Superman boat growing up, so I am still relatively new to the character. Singer made me want to learn more about him.

July 7: Richard Linklater's A Scanner Darkly and Strangers with Candy
Too bad those financial commercials have already been using that style of animation. This looks like an interesting movie, but i'm still unsure about how I feel about the look. Strangers with Candy: I thought the show was funny, which is all i have to base my interest in it on, considering i haven't even seen a trailer.

July 14: The OH in Ohio
I love Parker Posey and I'm in Ohio.

July 21: Kevin Smith's Clerks II and M. Night Shyamalan's Lady in the Water
Kevin Smith: oh how the mighty have fallen. Makes me sad that he has to resort to a sequel on the cult classic.
Shyamalan: Can he make a movie that actually delivers? I disqualify myself from objectively analyzing Sixth Sense since I knew the secret going in, but The Village was a huge disappointment, and Signs failed at the end for me, so his last complete movie in my eyes is Unbreakable, probably his least successful movie overall. Lady in the Water has a damn intriguing trailer, but who knows if it will deliver.

July 28: Michael Mann's Miami Vice and Little Miss Sunshine and Woody Allen's Scoop
Michael Mann has yet to fail me with Collateral, The Insider, Manhunter, and the epic Heat, although Miami Vice is being bashed by everyone, but the trailer looked cool, and I'm a sucker for that. My only introduction to Woody Allen has been Match Point and Melinda and Melinda, both of which I loved, and Scarlett's in this one again, so I will be there. I paid to see The Island because of her, so now i'm pretty much obligated to see everything she's in.

August 4: Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Oh Will Ferrell, how many quotable lines are you going to be coining in this one?

August 11: Oliver Stone's World Trader Center and Michel Gondry's The Science of Sleep
Too soon? Maybe. I don't know if I'm ready to see it; crying for two hours straight doesn't sound that great to me.
After Eternal Sunshine, the production stills I'd seen, and the fact that Gael Garcia Bernal is in it, this could be a keeper.

August 18: The Illusionist and Snakes on a Plane
Edward Norton has yet to fail me.
How can you not be excited, seriously?

August 25: Broken Lizard's Beerfest
I don't want a large Farva, I want a goddamn liter of beer. That line better be in this movie.

September 1: Mike Judge's Idiocracy
Finally follows up Office Space.

September 15: Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia
Once again, Scarlett. and it sounds interesting.

September 22: All the King's Men and Christopher Guest's For Your Consideration
Great book, great cast, delayed nine months though. That's a concern. As my English teacher, the immortal Shirley Ann Lyster, prompted us to consider while reading the book: who is Humpty Dumpty?
Christopher Guest movie, should be good as usual.

September 29: Employee of the Month
Dane Cook.

October 6: Scorcese's The Departed
Leonardo is his new De Niro, which I'm not sure how I feel about yet.

October 11: Running With Scissors

October 13: Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain
one of these dates has to be wrong

October 20: Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette and The Painted Veil and Clint Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers
I heard Marie Antoinette got laughed at in France, which could be trouble.
Edward Norton, once again. and Naomi Watts, mmmmm

October 27: Christopher Nolan's The Prestige and Inarritu's Babel
Damn, this could be a good weekend. Both look great, but Babel is the one I've been looking forward to for a while now. I heard a Stephen Gaghan interview, around the time Syriana came out, about the use of these complex, large cast, interconnected stories to tell stories with a larger scope, and I have to say, I've enjoyed these types of movies. Inarritu did it with Amores Perros and 21 Grams, which were a little too similar, story-wise and stylistically, but Babel has some potential.

October/Novemberish: Richard Kelly's Southland Tales and Linklater's Fast Food Nation
Apparently all of the actors in Southland Tales don't even know what it's about, and it sounds huge, but Donnie Darko was too damn good to not give him the benefit of the doubt.

November 10: Stranger than Fiction
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Will Ferrell, Dustin Hoffman, and Tony Hale (Buster from Arrested Development). This could be very good.

November 17: Casino Royale and Tenacious D
Daniel Craig and, supposedly, a new direction to the character could makes this a good Bond Movie, which I really have not found impressive of late.
And Jack Black, always good.

November 22: Steven Soderbergh's The Good German
The stud George Clooney and post-WWII.

December 1: Bug

December 8: Mel Gibson's Apocalypto
If he hasn't completely lost his mind, this could turn out OK.

December 22: Robert De Niro's The Good Shepherd
The CIA, Matt Damon, Robert De Niro, and Angelina Jolie.

End of the year-ish: David Lynch's Inland Empire, Werner Herzog's Rescue Dawn, and Little Children

January 7: Steven Soderbergh's Guerrilla

January 12: The Blood Diamond

January 19: David Fincher's Zodiac
Also among my most anticipated, David Fincher and Jake Gyllenhaal.

March 16: Danny Boyle's Sunshine
He keeps changing genres and keeps delivering, so I have no reason to expect otherwise on this one.

April 6: Quentin Tarantino and Frank Rodriguez's Grind House
One of the most intriguing movie ideas I've ever heard of: Each is directing an hour long horror movie, with fake movie previews in between them. I'm imagining From Dusk til Dawn and Sin City on crack. Delicious, delicious crack.

Well, if you're still reading this, I'm amazed, and I hope you're as stoked about the upcoming movies as i am. Oh, and one final movie for next summer's blockbuster season, fresh off the new teaser trailer that's online: Michael Bay's live-action Transformers movie. Yes, I loved the Transformers growing up, and yes, I will probably see this along with all of the other nerds next year. Only 368 days and counting...

Danildo and Screech

First, the obligatory world cup update. The last few games haven't been quite as exciting as I'd hoped, but the semifinal matchups are doozies: Italy/Germany, France/Portugal. Too bad that Argentina and Brazil had to lose though, they are fun to watch, plus now that i found this website it's lost some of its appeal, although it's still pretty damn fun. variations on my name produce:
1. Danildo (kinda sounds like....)
2. Teca
3. Tson
4. Teta
5. Daniildo (still kinda sounds like....)

The second best internet find of the last week was this gem, the highlight of which is, obviously, the Zack Morris Time-Out power, one whose comedic and practical implications were never truly explored on Saved by the Bell. and as the article points out, Slater tea-bagging Screech is hilarious, which is especially poignant considering Dustin Diamond is soon to be homeless, unless you want to buy one of his crappy t-shirts. Read about it here. Oh, how the mighty have fallen....

Final note for this entry, if you are ever bored, like to read, and can tolerate or enjoy sci-fi absurdity, read John Dies at the End. It's funny, bizarre, unique, and longer than all holy hell. someday i might actually finish it...