Friday, May 26, 2006

Unless You're 80, You Can Safely Skip This Post

UPDATE-O-RAMA: I added links to the songs, so youse can downloads 'em.

You need to check out this site, Pandora. You type in some artist you like and it comes up with a playlist of songs that are in that person’s style. It’s not like Amazon where “people who bought John Tesh also bought Kenny G”; it actually does the matches based on similarities within the songs themselves. It’s nifty and, for reasons beyond my understanding, free.

Well maybe the stupid broad should have put out

Someone recently asked me what my 10 favourite songs were, and this post seems as appropriate a place as any to list them. Since some of these songs have literally been covered hundreds of times, I’ll list my preferred covers (not that I’ve heard them all, obviously).

- Moonglow – Jackie Gleason, possibly. The version I have seems too upbeat to be his, though.

- You and the Night and the Music – I sort of pair this one up with the one below, as they both appear in The Band Wagon, but I guess they’re not too terribly similar. This is one of the few cases where I prefer a vocal version, as it’s always done very sleepy and slow whenever I find a recording that’s strictly instrumental.

- Dancing in the Dark – Frank Sinatra has the best version for the same reasons as the previous song.

- Luck Be a Lady – Everyone should go and rent Guys and Dolls (or buy it at Shopper’s Drug Mart for $10) just to see the odd spectacle of Marlon Brando singing in a musical. The Crapshooters’ Dance” in this film is basically an insanely orchestrated version of Luck be a Lady, and is worth seeking out. I found it on Limewire without any trouble.

- The Man I Love – Someone I don’t know, but Napster (I’m talking back in the day – not pay Napster) listed it Jackie Gleason. I don’t think so, however. Again, too upbeat. I also have a version I know is his for sure, and it's nothing like this one (though I guess he could have done two versions in his lifetime). I could die happy if I knew who recorded this version. The movie Hero, with Dustin Hoffman and the plane crash, features this song prominently.

- I’m Gettin’ Sentimental Over You – I think it’s Bert Kaempfert, but I can’t guarantee. All I’m basing that on is the fact that it features Ray Conniff-like vocals and a distinctive bass line. Reader’s Digest releases these giant compilation CDs of old music that often fail to mention, you know… the people who actually recorded it, so I can never be sure.

- Brazil – I’ve never really run across a mind-blowing recording of this one, but I know it has potential. I guess Terry Gilliam made a movie of the same name set in some sort of… 1984-like dystopia or something, and half the score is this song? I’d really like to see that. At any rate, the best recording is the one I have by Esquivel! (he put the “!” in his name, not me)

- Beach Samba – I’ve only seen two versions of this song, one by Astrud Gilberto and another by Walter Wandeley (if you like anything done on a Hammond organ – perhaps the D’Urbervilles? – then you’ll like anything this guy did). Gilberto’s is the best version. Of all these songs, this one is perhaps the most obscure.

- The Girl From Ipanema – This song gets a bad rap, with the muzak and elevator music jokes and all. I have no idea why. A recording I recently found by Percy Faith is really cool. I also have a version that pairs it up with Manha de Carnival (Portuguese for Morning of the Carnival?) for some reason. That’s good too, but I have no idea who recorded it.

- Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars (Corcovado) – This is one of those Brazilian songs that, annoyingly, go by two different names. Antonio Carlos Jobim’s is good, though perhaps a tad too slick. Still worth it. Frank Sinatra has a good vocal version, which is nice. You’d kinda think his would seem corny and disingenuous, considering he had nothing to do with the development of bossa nova and he might just be trying to horn his way in on the action. Not so, it seems, cause I end up “buying” that he does actually mean the words (well, as much as one can, considering he never wrote it).

- From Russia With Love – This is the first “real” Bond song, and probably still the best. It certainly has a number of interesting recordings. I’d get the one by the Village Stompers.

- Beyond the Blue Horizon – The Ray Conniff version is nice. I think it might be an earlier work of his, since he doesn’t use the gimmick where female and male voices are used as various instruments (which can get irritating after a while, anyway).

- How Insensitive (Insensatez) – There’s a ton of good recordings of this. Herbie Mann and Wes Montgomery are worth it, but Antonio Carlos Jobim’s is my fave (here, again, his might be slightly overproduced). Still, within a half hour, you should be able to find 6 worthwhile, different recordings.

- Recado Bossa Nova – I think this one might be rare, but the only recording you need bother yourself with is Zoot Sims’. It’s like… two different versions in one, too. This would be in the top three, I think.

- Red Roses for a Blue Lady – This song wouldn’t have made the list if not for the Bert Kaempfert version. And if you’re partial to having vocals in your music, Dean Martin’s is good, too.

Alright, so it’s more than 10, but you get the idea. A few of them probably deserve “honourable mention” over “Top 10”, but… whatever. Also, I note that there’s nothing especially funny, ironic or cynical about this post. So, I apologize.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

And You Thought the Smash Bros. Post Was Impenetrable

I have this

Last night I watched Who Framed Roger Rabbit. For those of you who know me, this is by far my favourite film of all time. Sometimes people (mostly females) say a movie is their favourite, like, “Oooh, Kate and Leopold is my favourite movie!”, but they don’t really mean it. In my case, I’m deadly serious.

Anyway, now that I’m technically an adult, a few nagging things popped up at me that I never really noticed as a child. They don’t especially ruin the movie, but there are certain contrivances in Roger Rabbit that I’d like to point out:

1) The part where Roger handcuffs Eddie. Obviously the producers needed some reason for the two characters to become inseparable and have to hide from the Weasels, so… what, they just have Roger slap some cuffs on Eddie as part of a joke? And Eddie doesn’t happen to have the keys to the cuffs? Contrived!

2) The Weasels, hiding in the sewers, find out Roger is hiding at the bar because they, what, just happen to overhear Eddie and Dolores speaking in the middle of the street? Contrived!

3) This one bugs me. So when Doom is doing his “shave and a haircut” thing at the bar, Eddie can’t stop Roger from bursting out cause his sleeve’s caught on the spyhole? Lame.

4) Outside Maroon Cartoons, Jessica knocks Roger out and sticks him in her trunk so he won’t get hurt. That makes no sense, and it’s an artificial way to make her seem possibly evil.

5) Later on, when Roger regains consciousness, he takes Jessica’s car for a joyride through Toontown. Obviously, this is a cheap way to get him out of the picture so Jessica and Eddie have to team up and go off in search of him with Benny. But, really, Roger wakes up after being knocked out and just decides to drive a car around? Contrived.

That’s about all I have. The big problem with a lot of these is that without them, the plot would not be able to progress as it did. They’re not deal-breakers, but they still don’t make much sense.

Also this - Thanks for painting it, Chinese children!

I also have some questions regarding toon death in the film. It is categorically stated by Lieutenant Santino that the only way to kill a toon is to use dip. It’s part of Doom’s big plan, after all. Nevertheless, there are several instances in which it’s either implied or directly stated that cartoons can die in other ways. I don’t really mind this, but it does undermine dip’s dramatic importance.

Here are other instances where dip doesn’t seem to be the only thing that kills toons:

1) What’s the point of Eddie’s cartoon gun? If he can’t kill any cartoons with it, why bother? Is he going to use it to kill Doom, who he assumes to be a human? Can humans be killed by cartoon guns? If so, why doesn’t Eddie bring a cartoon machine gun or bazooka, instead of a revolver (that’s another issue in itself, which I will address shortly)?

2) Santino says “Remember how we thought there wasn’t a way to kill a toon?”, yet it is said that the Weasels’ “idiot hyena cousins” died by laughed themselves to death. Not only is laughter, apparently, a way to kill toons, but this fact is seemingly well-known.

3) In the Acme factory, when Roger comes bursting out of the pipe, he holds a real gun to the Weasels. They back off, apparently fearful of being harmed or killed.

4) This one’s debatable, but it appears as though the crazy weasel in the straightjacket dies not from laughter, but by being caught in the dip machine’s spinning… cylindrical bristle thing.

Got this lying around somewhere

Also, what’s the deal with toons? How are they created? Can two cartoons naturally produce a baby toon? Does an animator sit at a desk, draw one, and then it pops off the page? If so, could just any joe do that? Could I create some ultra sexy woman toon and just have sex with her all the time? Could poor people create toon food and eat that? Why don’t I just create a toon airplane and go on vacation with that, for free? What about the portable holes? Those have real practical uses outside of the cartoon world.

Are all toons actors? Are they created with the express purpose of appearing in cartoons? If Baby Herman is nothing at all like his on-screen character, that suggests that perhaps they aren’t. How do toons come by their personalities? Are they developed by the animators, or do toons come into them as naturally as humans?

Roger says that Thumper is his uncle. How do cartoons just become related? This would presumably support the theory that cartoons can procreate. Why does Thumper appear relatively more rabbit-like, compared to Roger and his human characteristics? Is Roger the result of a humanoid cartoon/rabbit cartoon pairing?

Why do toons go by the same name in “real life” as they do in the cartoons they appear? Clark Gable didn’t always play a character named Clark Gable in every single one of his movies, so maybe toons are created expressly to appear in cartoons.

Are toons created by humans, or are they naturally-occurring? If so, when did they first show up, the 1900s, or in prehistory? Is there only one Toontown, just outside LA, and has it always been there? How does Marvin Acme own Toontown? Did he create it?

Can toons age? Baby Herman says that he’s 50. Since the movie is set in 1947, does that mean he was created back in 1897? Did cartoons even exist back then?

Some other general questions and observations:

- What’s the deal with anthropomorphic toons, like the shoes and musical instruments? Are they sentient? Do they have rights?

- What happens to the Weasels’ angels after they die?

- When did Eddie’s brother die? Everything (his desk, the story Eddie tells) implies it was a while ago, but he’s in the photos from Eddie and Dolores’ trip to Catalina. How long ago was that? The film from that trip had been sitting in the camera the whole time. How long can a person reasonably leave film lying around in a camera before they get it developed? In those photos, Eddie and Dolores appear the same age as they do in the rest of the film.

- Why is Betty Boop in black and white? It’s implied that this is a condition she cannot change. What about Mickey and Porky and all the other cartoon characters who were originally black and white as well? How come they were colourized but Betty isn’t?

- Why does Eddie go for Acme’s buzzer when they’re carting his body away, anyway?

- I’d really like to see the version of the movie without the toons, which I guess is just Bob Hoskins talking to nobody.

- Acme owns Toontown, but LA apparently has some sort of jurisdiction over it, as Judge Doom has authority there, and Eddie and Teddy often went there in their early days on the police force. How does this work out, legally?

- Eddie’s gun is from Yosemite Sam, according to an engraving on the inside of its case. Why didn’t the two exchange words when Sam showed up outside of the Acme factory at the start?

- Like how Mickey is complicit, with Bugs, in giving Eddie the spare tire. It’s possibly the most mean-spirited thing Mickey has ever done.

- When Doom grabs Eddie and Jessica outside the Toontown tunnel, why doesn’t he grab or kill Benny?

- Cartoon Doom has all sorts of special powers (springs on feet, razor blade hand). Can just any toon do this?

Anyway, that’s about all I’ve got. I know it’s not much, but hopefully it will get you thinking.

By the way, if you want to read a synopsis of the Roger Rabbit sequel they never made, Toon Platoon, check this out. It actually sounds pretty decent.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Lest We Remember in the Cheesiest Way Possible

Not having a job in the summer gives one a shitload of free time, as I well know. With some of that time today, I’m going to take a look at the cheesiest shit you will ever see.

I’m sure you’ve seen the September 11th gifs and jpegs out there, either on some Geocities site or an email forward. And if they have tugged at your heartstrings, please stop reading my blog immediately. If I was dating someone who was genuinely touched by a jpeg of a crying eagle that was reflected in a wavy java applet underneath, I think I would have to break up with her.

Now, I’m going to pick the best 3, but you can rest assured there’s a ton of shit I had to leave out, for brevity’s sake.

This one might be familiar to you, because of the crying eagle. You’ll see him crammed together with a bunch of random "patriotic" elements in a number of bad 9/11 Photoshop jobs. If you’re lucky, you might even find the crying eagle animated gif, though I haven’t run into that in years. Here he’s been matched up with the Stars (not so much the Stripes, but don’t worry – they’ll make an appearance elsewhere), an exploding tower, the Pentagon and a lady being helped by a doctor. You can tell he’s a doctor cause someone photoshopped one of those shiny metal circles on his forehead that doctors haven’t used since the 1930s. Subtlety, as you’ll notice, is not a quality shared by many of these things.

Here’s an animated gif, and I hope it shows up properly. To me, it says, “I care that 3000 people were killed on September 11th, but not enough to make a public expression of this feeling that is meaningful or nuanced in any way”.

And, Jesus, it musta been tough for this person to choose between doves or angels to surround the sparkling heart. Probably a lot like deciding which of your kids to save from the Gestapo.

Eagle? Check. Old Glory? Check. War imagery? Check. Juvenile call to incite violence? Oh, you betcha. Yep, this one has it all. I don’t know Todd Beamer’s politics, but if I know that if I died under really tragic circumstances, I’d be pretty pissed that Bush was using my last words to kick off a war or two (warning: political commentary) … or three. Equally annoyed would I be to find that single, 30-something, probably overweight receptionists with bad perms were forwarding these last words superimposed over a terribly unoriginal background all in the name of “remembrance”. But that’s just me.

I could go on. There are so many to choose from. I’ll just add a few more honourable mentions for your enjoyment. Click for full size!

One site called them “digital paintings”. Before that gets spread around, let me just say that, no, there is no such thing as a digital painting. There is such a thing, however, as a tacky, infantile digital “memorial” to dead people who, more than likely, would be embarrassed to hear that they’re being commemorated in such a fashion.

PS: It goes without saying that about 50% of the sites I grabbed these from had patriotic MIDIs embedded into the page, if not some country song in *.wav format. Way to make the Internet usable, you backwater, jingoistic hicks!

PPS: No comments on the Smash Bros. sequel? Man, I thought everyone would be going nuts for that one!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Holy. Living. Christ.

In late-breaking news that maybe one specific person reading this blog will care about, Nintendo is making a new Smash Bros. for their next system. And it will be online. And Solid frigging Snake will be in it, implying that perhaps other 3rd party characters will make appearances (Sonic and Mega Man would be fucking nuts – you could literally have Mario fight Sonic).

It also has that angel guy from that obscure Kid Icarus game (I don’t get why everyone loves that game), and a suitless Samus.

Yeah, you can play as Samus without her frigging suit. That’s nuts.

I don’t know what to say, other than nobody really cares about this shit other than Andrew and possibly Nate, and Nathan has difficulties navigating the Internets, so he’ll never read it. Aaron would also go nuts over it, but I think he was eaten by crocodiles 2 years ago or something. Too bad. He’d appreciate the suitless Samus more than anyone else, I think.

Now all we need now is a Mario Kart that doesn’t suck, and we’re good to go.

PS: It occurs to me that Adam and Nik would also be very pleased to hear this news, though I suspect that Adam's Smash Brothering days are behind him.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

People Who Are Having More Sex Than You #2

In the second installment of our continuing feature, we turn our gaze to this comely young lass. These are photos I found on Facebook. That is, they are publicly available. That is, this lass knew exactly what she was doing and what was showing when she posted these photos (larger versions of which are available when you click the photo). This means that she is so fucking unbelievably nutty in the sack that my brain can't really process it. Try it. Go ahead. Do you know a woman who is so fucking sexy that she knowingly puts photos of her tits on Facebook? No, no you do not. And if you did, you still would never be able to have sex with her.

It's also a good bet that she has a lot more sex than either you or me. I am willing to bet that, even though I am older, she has had considerably more sex with more people than I have. Or you.

The worst of it all? Fat-headed, balding Irish bastard is also having more sex than you.

PS: Ladies, I don't get it. How does that shirt work? If her hands weren't holding it up, her tits would be falling right out.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Out, Damned Spot!

Rocky (centre) pictured in happier times

Yeah, so I ran over a raccoon today, and I have a strange sense of remorse and guilt. It's funny how quickly and automatically the brain reacts in a situation like that. In literally less than two seconds, this is how my mind worked:

- Good God, I am going to hit an animal, and there is no stopping. Don't bother hitting the brakes, Mike. You're going too fast and it's too close.
- What is this? Is this a deer? No, it's too small. Look, it's a racoon.
(car runs over raccoon)
- Okay, do I stop? No, no, it's dead. I could practically feel the tires ripping it apart. If it's not dead, then I'd have to stomp on its brains to finish it off, and nobody wants to do that.
- Just keep driving, Mike. Nothing anyone could have done.

My mind turns to those idiots who ascribe human characteristics to animals. "Oooh, look at the bad boy! He's so ashamed for ripping up the carpet!" or "Look, Skippy is so happy I got him a treat" or "Little Jasper gets sooo embarassed when I do (such and such)". Fuck you, people. Stop giving human feelings and emotions to animals. They don't have any. They are not like you or me. They live on instinct. There's nothing rational about how they behave or what they do. You think that guy knew what he was doing? They have no concept of cars and roads and what they will do to them.

It's stupid to beat myself up over the whole thing, and, yet - should I not feel guilt? I suppose not. Maybe that's why I feel guilty; because I think I should, but I don't. It was strange how fast the situation came up, occurred, and then I accepted it and moved on. Less than two seconds, literally. But this is the civilization we've constructed. This is progress. For all our roads and high-rises and everything else we enjoy in society, it's understood that things like this must happen. So... I dunno. Go figure.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A Brave Stab at a Man Who Will Never Read My Blog

Which of the following are enduring images of Hell?

Trick question! They both are! The bottom photo is of my ex-roommate's bedroom. It is filthy in a way that reflects poorly on his very character. Now, over the past five years, I have calculated that I've had 11 roommates. They were all good people, and I got along fine with them - except for this last guy. He is, without a doubt, an irredeemable, soulless cretin without a shred of dignity or respect for any other living human being (big fan of Tupac, Biggie and Bob Marley though!). Among his faults:

- Look at that room. The photo is in no way doctored. This is how this person lives for 8 months, at least. It is so messy, you have to figure that something is wrong with him in some way.
- He uses the stovetop element to light his cigarettes
- These cigarettes are smoked indoors
- Big fan of the Italian shower. So bad I can taste it in my mouth.
- Enjoys inviting his friends over at 3 am for a rousing good game of Halo
- If no friends over at 3 am, will engage in an impromptu freestyle session. Again, this is at 3 in the morning.
- Quite often falls asleep around 6 am
- Dates what I can only assume are girls in high school
- Unable to have an emotionally mature conversation with these girls
- Takes handfuls (with his hand) of your margarine to grease up his George Forman grill. Imagine opening your brand new margarine container and finding that a human being has literally scopped a third of it out with his bare hands.
- You know when you wipe your bum, and then put the toilet paper in the toilet? This concept escapes this roommate, as I have found shit-stained toilet paper on his washroom floor.
- Also (and this might have been evident when I mentioned the Italian shower), his B.O. is the type that really fills up his room and kinda makes it awkward to talk to him.
- You know when you talk on the phone, you use a level of voice quiet enough so your fellow roommates cannot hear you? And you know how if they were sleeping (and you'd know they were sleeping cause it was 4 am), you'd be extra careful to do this? This guy doesn't do this.

There are probably more. Perhaps my good roommates can chime in with a few. But, my God, I cannot stress what a terrible human being this person was.