Saturday, January 31, 2009

Contest! Prizes!

I realize it's en vogue to hate the Oscars these days. But even after a good year like 2007 (No Country For Old Men), it's hard to forgive the last fifteen years of celebrated mediocrity.

I like good movies, and I like trashy movies. There are few pictures I don't like. But AMPAS (pronounced amp-ass) seems to prefer formula over feeling. Year after year, Oscar nominated films neither challenge nor titillate. The medium is meant to entertain, right?

My uniquely unoriginal challenge is a classic contemporary CONTEST:

Predict most accurately 2009's Academy Award winners and I will supply a MODEST PRIZE!

You Must:
  1. post your answer in the comments section of this blog post
  2. post your prediction for every nominated category
  3. in the interest of protecting your privacy, email me at, explaining which post is yours. you will need to do this to claim your prize!
This is like a horse race. Do not vote for who you think should win or who deserves to win. Vote for who you think will win!

Here is the link to the nominations... This is the outline form but you can get more interactive here.

Copy and paste your answers using this template:

Actor... Leading:

Actor... Supporting:

Actress... Leading:

Actress... Supporting:

Animated Film of the Year:

Art Direction:


Costume Design:


Documentary Feature:

Documentary Short Subject:


Foreign Language Film:


Music (Original Score):

Music (Original Song):

Best Picture:

Best Animated Short:

Best Live Action Short Film:

Sound Editing:

Sound Mixing:

Visual Effects:

Adapted Screenplay:

Original Screenplay:

Whoever most accurately predicts the winners will get a dope-ass prize, TBD.

And yes, there will be a runner-up.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Trial Run

Here's a short compilation. I realize it's kinda ghetto with having to physically start the next song, and the segues won't be perfect but if you can start the next as the previous one ends you'll retain some of that.

The Girly Version:








Cybermixtape.... That will probably be the name of my post-electro-nintendo-synthpop group.

Anyway, I am lamenting the loss of the mixtape. When I really got into music (around 1990) it was through the magic of mixtapes. I had access to the KHSU library of CDs and I would go up there and tape songs that my friends were talking about. My aunts would loan me tapes or friends would suggest songs to go track down. I would make mixtapes of songs I had never heard based upon recommendation.

It didn't take long to cultivate the practice. Initially I made them for myself, but when you start to make more friends, especially girlfriends, they become a heartfelt gift. A sublime exchange.

Mixtapes were a stepping stone from the radio generation that spawned my own. They afforded personalization, but carried the varietal tone and flow of radio. What I loved was that I could follow Green Day with Holst, The Offspring, or Dre Dog and it worked. It was both more free to interpretation and more constrained by my own knowledge of music.

Digital music started off rocky. I remember transferring songs that I had downloaded on my Dad's computer (which had dial-up) to my computer via 3.5 floppy disks. One song wouldn't fit on a disk so we had to compress and break up the files into two or three parts. I would carry one at a time back and forth until I had transferred them. It probably took 100 hours to download 100 songs and transfer them from one computer to another.

Despite these setbacks, mixtapes rapidly became mix-cds. I was a bona fide napster junkie during its heyday. I had made the transition to digital music. It was convenient, and best of all, free. Mix-cds were basically the same platform, albeit more organized. Instead of judging time by the width of tape left, your burning software would tell you precisely how many seconds were left. I liked this advent, as it allowed you layout the playlist before you committed it to plastic. I could sqeeze some cool 46 second instrumental tracks or a clip from a movie to introduce my mix without worrying about cutting it off.

Eventually, though, CDs have disappeared from my life. I am the first to admit my technophilia. I am not a gadget freak, but I cannot imagine not having my ipod. My personal grasp of music has so digitized that my ipod is the only physical embodiment of my tastes. I haven't bought a CD in 2 years.

Many people have postulated the meaning of this headphone generation. Radio is certainly a dying form. Why listen to what someone else will play for you when you can self-program? Amazon and pandora and itunes will tell you exactly what you want to hear based on your finely tuned library. I was at the KRFH studio today and the DJ told me that 3 people were currently listening to the stream. Three people! What is happening?

I know I am partly to blame for this phenomenon. But I still love to put my ipod on shuffle and listen to the way it pairs songs; or discovers something I haven't heard before; or plays my favorite song from 4 months ago. I love radio and I think we need to make a conscious effort to pay attention. What better way to discover new music? What a communal, holistic way to share one of humanity's most beloved art forms.

Radio will never be the same but what we can do, us gen-y music lovers, is keep alive our very own radio shows: the mixtape. I am not sure how to do this. My dear friend Jamie has tried to revive the form multiple times with limited success. We're growing increasingly isolated, and can't bring ourselves to rally behind what we perceive as an archaic process.

So let's find a new format. I'm suggesting a written list. None of us are getting any less familiar with the web. If you post a list people can at least youtube the songs in order. It's not pretty, but for a generation that is rejecting both the album and the radio playlist, we must fight for this lost art form.

If you know a better way to express yourself, by all means share it.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

More Short Film Extravaganza

Here's another terrific free site. No, sorry, wrong NFB.

Canada's National Film Board, however is the world leader in indie animation. They've produced dozens of little-seen Oscar nominated shorts. I haven't explored this site much but they seem to host a lot of stuff. Neighbours is quite good.

It doesn't look they have Madame Tutli-Putli available on their site, but I found it here. Really great, if you have 17 minutes.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What's the point

Now that this I've been reading about how to write blogs, or at least how to make them interesting, I've been thinking that maybe I take too broad of an approach on this one. But the fact is, I don't know enough about any one subject to pontificate freely or frequently on it. Therefore, for the time being, you're gonna see a host of topics that I find mildly or terrifically interesting. Mostly it'll be on movies, music and games. But there will also be food, anecdotes, random web things, personal musings, stuff about my life or whatever the hell I feel like.

In the future I may branch off and devote a blog to my original idea for this one: Post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction. If this interests you, then let me know. For the time being I'll just include it all here for everyone to pick through. This potpourri approach should allow me to post frequently enough to keep you interested... we'll see.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I have vague memories of this Johnny Depp flick: Benny & Joon. Remember that? Of course you don't. But they ripped this off.

Speaking of Chaplin... The first special features. And if that doesn't move you go watch some Chaplin. He's easily the best pre-sound movie-man.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Christina mentioned that she had fond memories of my top ramen cooking skills, something I honed out of destitution and desperation. I don't eat top ramen that often any more, at least the nissin/maruchan variety. My diet is still probably 60% percent noodles, though. Sandwiches being the other 37% of course.

The other day in a rush between school and work I whipped up this remarkably good lunch out of spare parts lying around my kitchen. Borrowing heavily from something Dave Manzella made while camping last summer, I boiled spaghetti noodles and baked chicken with a bunch of garlic and onions. For a sauce I fried a bunch of garlic in olive oil, added a small tin of anchovies my bosses gave me for Christmas (hard times this year) and one bunch of kale chopped into 1 inch ribbons. That over the noodles with the chicken was the best thing I'd made in a while. Super simple and tasty. The anchovies make it nice and salty, but be careful because any more of them might have been too much.

Ramen-wise, I pretty much only eat Nongshim spicy noodles these days.

These bad boys are super good! But they might be a little too spicy for a lot of people. I generally use only about 3/4 of the flavor packet to keep the spice down. For some reason they work wonders on hangovers too.

They make a seafood version of this too, but it's a little too weird/fishy for me.

Another super good noodle pack is Samyang chacharoni. These are hard for me to find around here so I don't eat them very often.

The directions say to add the sauce to the water, but they're also good if you drain the water completely, then add the sauce pack. They're drier that way but really good. In fact, that's how I started eating them and now if I make theme watery, it tastes bland.

Each of those are really well complemented with Kimchi of course. This, sadly, is way overpriced in little Arcata, making me wish we had our own Koreatown. Oh well.

ADDENDUM: The best advice I can give about any "instant noodle" is DO NOT OVERCOOK. I usually undercook them because they tend to cook more in the bowl when you're waiting for them to cool.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Perfect Internet Time Waster

This is a perfect use of the internet. I love that it's getting easier and easier to find obscure movies and music. When DVD took over, a lot of the titles were overlooked, because the major publishers were only publishing the stuff that would sell well. VHS lent itself so well to collectors and enthusiasts because you could dub tapes. Even if the quality was shit, you could at least watch it (most of the stuff I like is trash anyway, so it doesn't need to be hi-def).

But DVD marketing took the reins and now it's a stigma to have a cathode ray TV or a tape player. I've bought into the hype a little bit, and I must say a blu-ray on a 56 inch HD TV looks balls-out awesome. However the downside of this revolution is that it came right when distributors were really starting to dig deep into film archives for releases. With the advent of blu-ray, they won't need to release, say, "The African Queen", when they can just re-release Spiderman 3 again. By the way, there are probably thousands of wish lists and gripes out there about what hasn't been released on DVD.

So as much as I liked seeing "Hitman" on blu-ray, it's no substitute for a wide catalog. That's why I love Criterion and Something Weird. But even they have to keep up with the times, and there's only so much demand for "Bloody Pit of Horror".

Which brings us to the point of this post, which was to share this site I came across (via the Flavorpill newsletter):

Here's an ever growing collection of hard to find stuff whose existence validates the importance of the internet. A new venue for those who can't find the time or money or space for VHS. Sometimes you have to sacrifice quality for the privilege of getting to watch something you wouldn't otherwise see. Check this out, the parachute stunt at the end is batshit-insane. They even have Marilyn Monroe's first (only?) nudie movie, "The Apple Knockers and the Coke".

Plus, it's a good way to kill time before class and makes you feel better than watching skateboard accidents all morning.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Well shoot me if I'm a romantic mush-puppy but this song makes me want to cry just about every damn time I hear it. It's a love tune for us who could give a shit about Valentine's Day but that doesn't mean we love you one hair less.

P.S. I know it's a slog but the minute or so intro is a pretty cute anecdote too.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Not a bad little flick. It's easy to reflect on past movies being influential, but there are some unmistakable parallels to contemporary films.

My curiosity was immediately perked by the title and plot synopsis: "events turn apocalyptic... New York City teems with ravenous gangs." "The Warriors" was released in 1979, four years after "The Ultimate Warrior" and (my memory is mentionably ((I just made up a word)) fuzzy) it involves a similar pre-punk gang disaster storyline. "Escape From New York" also followed shortly in UW's footsteps. "The Warriors", however, is a far more notable movie in its acclaim and affirmed modern cult status. "UW"'s late, late DVD release is telling of it's relative obscurity.

UW will probably fade into the void of its era's post cataclysm survival films, but it stands out as a more solid entry than even its famous peers (i.e. the twist-defined, unavoidably-spoilered-unless you saw-it-in-the-womb "Soylent Green")

Yul Brynner is totally righteous as a hero. In "Westworld", you're secretly rooting for him, in "UW", you're expected to do so. Max Von Sydow is also terrific, and the thoughtful first half of the movie verges on thinking man's sci-fi. They touch on community, mob mentality, fear, desperation, and survival.

Lo, Don't think there isn't action, because there is a high body count, especially for its time. I didn't count, but my estimate is that Yul stabs 30-35 people throughout the course of the story. The choreography of the fight scenes is raw and exciting and the final battle is noteworthy for its grimness. In fact, the entire ending is ambiguous enough to please those fans of "Empire Strikes Back" and the like.

My final tidbit comes full circle to what might be my favorite movie, "Children of Men". There's a birth scene in "UW" that's remarkably prescient to what they did with COM (though less technically proficient). I can't help but suspect that Cuaron was touched by this little gem.

Briefly: The Ultimate Warrior came bundled as a two-fer so here's my concise review of "Battle Beneath the Earth"...
Cheapo- 60's sci-fi is actually pretty and colorful, but its tone is ruined by redundant sets and really, really shaky science (even for 60's sci fi). To be fair, I wasn't paying full attention while this one was on but every time I looked up the predictable storyline had barely inched forward and they were in a redecorated cave. I suppose the ambiguously Asian baddies and totally bogus James Bond rip-off action sequences were the final nail. Oh, but the wobbly ah-tomic bombs would have made Ed Wood proud of their sound infrastructure.


If you haven't seen "Children of Men", please watch it. I'm officially calling it the best film of the decade (So far, of course... 11.33 months to go). Don't read about it, just find the biggest screen and best sound and turn the lights off and enjoy.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


A few weeks ago someone put a flier in my store to promote their DIY music video film festival. This is intriguing because for as long as I can remember I've ideas-- big and small-- to put video to music, and vice-versa.

However, What the Pop requires original music and this is something I have in short supply. I might do something cavalier (damn the copyright laws) but if people know of bands who want recognition this would be a good scratch-your-back situation.

There's a small chance I'll make a video to my (now famous) A Hole In My Heart. Don't hold your breath, though. If you want to listen to it go here. Click on 'songwriter's club' and under 'comets and other heavenly bodies' listen to A Hole In My Heart. It was written by myself and Rachael, performed by me, and produced by Jamie Walsh... Pretty dope. And while you're there, check out Paul Baribeau and especially Veloura Caywood. Her album is free to download and really, really good!

Monday, January 19, 2009


I guess the point of this 'blog is to write whatever the fuck you want but I still have trouble deciding what the tone should be. I've used it primarily as an outlet to talk about what I think is cool (or what sucks) in music and movies... but I like to talk about myself (who doesn't) and I want to be personal as well as objective.

But objectivity is boring and we live too short of lives not to opine. I change my mind all the time. Everything changes, and this is going to be my diarrhetic diary of self indulgence.

Here's a theme that wil dominate; Lists. I love them and hate them, and will publish them all the time. End of the year lists are the best (worst), although I only have this to offer:

The Worst Movie of 2008:

What Happens in Vegas.


Have you heard Tim Fite? Here's a cute acute clip.


the first song I heard and I've been shit on ever since.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Well, its been a while since I've updated. The major scoop is that I'm going back to HSU on Tuesday to finish what I started 9 years ago. Finally. It'll be pretty run of the mill because I haven't decided what the hell I'm going back for, but my most anticipated class is radio production. Presumably I'll have some access to KRFH, which will be a lot of fun... I'll shamelessly plug that in the future.

My mom and stepdad are leaving at two a.m. tonight (tomorrow) on a bus to a plane to Washington D.C. Their trek is going to be hectic, frantic, and totally exciting, and I'm a little jealous of everything but the crowds. I don't think she'll be blogging, or I'd link it. However, they were on the cover of the Arcata Eye this week and there will no doubt be stories to come.

My familiarity with D.C. stems from my current gaming obsession Fallout 3. Much has been said about this little gem already- it's made every 'best-of-2008' list I've seen- and the hype does not disappoint. As a huge fan of the previous Fallout games and Oblivion, Fallout 3 is at the acme of video game construction. The nostalgist and futurist in me me met sublimely on this one. Dystopian apocalyptic postulations always strike a chord with me, as evidenced by, well, the title of the blog. Here's hoping my moms experience in the capitol wasteland is better than that of my virtual weary traveler.

A note on the above paragraph: the term "strike a chord" posed a real problem when it came to typing it. I don't know how many hundreds of times I've used that phrase in speech, but I came to the realization that I had no idea what the origin of the phrase was. Strike a cord- like a guitar string? Strike accord? And then Rachael said "strike a chord" and it all rushed back to me. Duh. Funny when you find those little language quirks you take for granted until they appear in a fresh form. I was 15 when I realized "up and Adam" didn't make sense.

Happy 2009 and Happy Inauguration!!