Thursday, June 9, 2011

Quick Hit: Get Ready to Flip The Shit Out

If Willard Scott wasn't already creepy enough, check this video.  Slick Willard plays a creepy as hell Ronald McDonald.  If you don't believe me, then I guess I'll just have to live with that.  Nah, just kidding.  Watch the video.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

First Post Back: Remembering Gil Scott-Heron

He's backkkkkkkk!  And no, I'm not referring to Gil Scott-Heron (he's dead), I am referring to myself.  I apologize to everyone for my extended absence.  I was going through finals and then drinking the finest French Cognacs across the Orient.

Anyway, today let's all take a moment to remember Gil Scott-Heron.  Remember how rap and hip-hop used to be about conveying a message?  Or telling a story using colorful, poetic wording and strong political undertones?  Me neither.  But, I am told that rap and hip-hop was once like this.  For that, we owe a great deal to Gil Scott-Heron.  He is one of the artists, at least the most well-known, who tried to bring Spoken Word Poetry to music.

Now, we probably all do remember Public Enemy, right?  You at least remember Flava Flav.  Well, they were in large part inspired and influenced by Scott-Heron.  They used his no-holds-barred style to create some of the best rap music ever created (not so much Flava Flav, he was just standing around yelling "Yeaaaa boiiii!").

Look him up, and listen to some of his stuff.  Or, at at least watch this video and skip ahead to 2:26.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Quick Note About Updates

Dearest friends,

I've been travelling a lot since my last update and have been without internet access most of the time.  I know, I know, living without internet access is like living without dwarf tossing.  Anyway, I apologize I haven't been updating lately.  However, I will be settled back in a few days and get back to awesomeness!

Cheers mates,
The Satirical Swashbuckler

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Get a Change of Underwear Ready: "Fast Five" Review

You know how some movie franchises get really tired after the first one or two?  One of those series like Terminator where anything after the second one starts to suck?  Where it's just an obvious attempt to lure unsuspecting idiots back into the theater?

This isn't one of them.  Fast Five is the best of the The Fast & The Furious franchise.  I shit you not.  It is the most entertaining, action-packed, film in the series.  Here's why.

First of all-- action.  This movie is more of an action movie than a racing movie, although it has plenty of that too.  I also get the feeling that this one had the highest budget.  They destroyed a sh'load of cars in this movie, all to my great delight.  You remember that scene in Blue Brothers where like 30 cop cars crash into each other?  It's like that, but better.  There's also plenty of run 'n' jump, shoot 'em up, chase 'em down action scenes.  I don't want to give too much away, but Director David Lin does a great job of keeping you entertained in this one.

Second, Vin Diesel.  We all know that Diesel's absence ruined the second and third movies.  We also know that Diesel's presence can make any movie amazing.  Diesel doesn't disappoint here as he becomes the focus of this movie, unlike the first movie where Paul Walker was the protagonist and Diesel was just the awesome guy.

Third, "The Rock" Dwayne Johnson.  You could have left The Rock out of this movie and it would still be plenty intense and action packed.  But, adding The Rock is like adding some habanero peppers to one of those spicy-ass suicide hot wings or whatever on "Man Versus Food" with Adam Richman.  The Rock's character in this movie is simply over-the-top.  He brings intensity to every scene; he yells; he runs; he beats the shit out of people; he kills people with ease; and he is just all around bad ass.  Moreover, he looks fucking huge!  He was already a pretty massive guy, but it looks like he bulked up for this movie.  I never though Diesel could look like just a normal guy.

Fourth, an unstoppable force meets and immovable object-- the fight between Diesel and The Rock.  This fight scene alone is reason enough to watch this movie.

Fifth, the ensemble cast.  It's kind of like Ocean's Thirteen without George Clooney and instead with a bunch of B-level actors.  You've got the Japanese dude from Tokyo Drift played by Sung Kang (who actually died in that movie but who gives a fuck?), Gal Gadot from Fast and Furious, Elsa Pateky who is an actress apparently, Paul Walker, and superstar Tyrese.  Oh yeah and Ludacris is in this movie for some reason too.  The only person they didn't bring back was Michelle Rodriguez because her character is dead (although that didn't stop them from bringing back Sung Kang, apparently).

Lastly, setting this movie in Rio de Janeiro works.  Miami didn't work for 2 Fast 2 Furious, but for some reason Rio works here.  A lot of this has to do with the great production values and the flashy directorial style of Lin who never lets you get bored even for a single second.

In conclusion, go see this movie.  You should know by now that, as far as quintilogies go, the fifth one is always the best.  It's simply bigger and better than the other ones.

Rating: 9/10 (minus 1 point for having Paul Walker in the movie)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thoughts on "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" Remakes

So, in case you haven't heard, the American remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is coming out this December.  Now, I typically don't like the idea of remaking a movie that came out just two years ago.  However, I am slightly intrigued by the idea of this remake.  I'm also a little worried.  Here's why.

First of all, Trent Reznor will be doing the soundtrack for the remake.  Considering the first one didn't even have a soundtrack (I think), this is a pretty cool plus.  Also, Trent Reznor is the shit.  He is the greatest artist of our generation.  If you feel differently, you're wrong.  It's not Kanye.  Shut up.

After all, T Rez (those in the know call him T Rez) won an Oscar for that facebook movie that I didn't watch.

Trent Reznor even looks like the chick from the Swedish movie.

Also, I'm kind of excited because David Fincher is directing the remake.  In case you've forgotten, Fincher did Fight Club, a favorite of teenage males everywhere, and Se7en, a favorite of teenage males everywhere.  So, it's pretty clear he has some range.  He will also, no doubt, try to remake The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as darker and edgier.  He gives me hope because he's made some good movie (Fight Club, Alien 3), although he has also made a few heaping piles of etc. (Panic Room, The Curious Case of Benjamin "I'm trying to win an Oscar" Button).

The new girl they cast seems all right.  But, Noomi Rapace is a tough act to follow.  And I've never actually seen Rooney Mara in anything before.  It does look like she transitioned from nice girl to tough girl pretty smoothly.

My greatest concern about this film is that it just seems so unnecessary.  The Swedish ones were awesome.  So, what could the difference really be?  Is this just a cheesy attempt to try to reach a wider audience by remaking it in English designed for an American audience.  Probably, and that's lame.

Also, the new one has Daniel Craig set to play Blomquist.  That guy has as much acting range as a rock.

So, what do you think?  Who saw the Swedish ones?  What would you like to see out of the American versions?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Humorous, if You Can Understand it, Post: Message from a Hipster

Hey everyone, hipster here.  I wanted to take a few minutes of my time and your time (like it's worth anything) to tell you about what you can do to be like me, an awesome hipster.

First, you have to start listening to better music, instead of the mainstream stuff you're listening too now.  Try starting off with some Bob Dylan or something.  I have like 8 of his albums, all from the Bootleg series and all on vinyl.  Vinyl is just so much better.  It's so much more real.  Also, try some Vampire Weekend, but only their early stuff before they went mainstream.  Start listening to some music ironically, like Journey.  Always listen to Journey, but only ironically.  I would tell you some other bands to check out but you've probably never heard of them.

Next, start hanging out at cafes.  I used to hang out at Starbucks, but there's too many business types there with jobs and stuff.  So now I hang out at independent cafes around town.  I like to take my Mac (Macs are way better than PCs btw.  They just work), put on some headphones and listen to Metric (you've probably never heard of them), and just sip on black coffee all day.  Oh yeah, I drink my coffee black because cream and sugar is disgusting.  Not to mention it comes from animals.

That brings me to another point.  Go vegan, or at the least, vegetarian.  That means you can't eat stuff that comes from animals like mainstream beer (it comes from capitalist pigs, get it?) or meat.  You also have to be sure that people are aware you are vegan.  Be sure to work it in to the beginning of every conversation.  If they ask you why, just get indignant.

Also, start shopping at American Apparel.  I like to buy clothes from there, wash them so they look worn, and then tear little holes in them.  Then I tell people I got them from a thrift store.  Try to get as many scarves as possible, in addition to converse sneakers.  Be sure to advertise the obscure bands you listen to through your clothing, but only if it looks sufficiently worn.

You also have to be sure to get rid of a few things.  Like your TV.  Not having a TV makes you better than everyone else.  It's hard to explain why, you really have to feel it to understand why.  There are a few things that you do have to own, however.  Buy a lot of books, preferably from used bookstores.  Always walk around with a copy of Jack Kerouac's On the Road.  You don't need to actually read it, but bring it with you to your local independent coffee shops.

Make sure your parents keep supporting you.  So, you're 28 years old and working on a master's in some type of humanities at a small college (you've probably never heard of it).  That means you will need money to keep supporting you.  Buying 6 lattes a day at independent coffee shops can add up.

Lastly, be very liberal.  But don't bother voting or anything like that.

Once you become a hipster, a lot of people will make fun of you.  Most people just don't understand where we're coming from.  They've just been brainwashed by mainstream society and don't understand the value of indie music (I love pitchforkmedia!), retro clothes, or irony.  Just be confident that your lifestyle is right and their's is wrong.  Haters gonna hate after all.

I would tell you more, but you probably wouldn't get it.

So, what do you think?  Do you hate me because I am a hipster?  Or is it just because you don't understand me?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Blast from the Past: Remembering "The Fast and the Furious" and "2 Fast 2 Furious"

As you all have marked on your calendars, this upcoming weekend will witness the release of the fifth installment of The Fast and the Furious Franchise.  But, before you watch that, let's remember what made the franchise so awesome in the first place (The Fast and the Furious).  And, also, what made it so horrible (2 Fast 2 Furious).  In order to prepare myself for the upcoming awesomeness, I re-watched the first two installments this past weekend.  Let's remember them together.

"I live my life a quarter-mile at a time," bespoke the Vin Diesel.  Words of wisdom and guidance overflow from The Fast and the Furious.  This was, of course, Diesel's breakthrough film.  The movie that turned him into a superstar.  It was only a matter of time.  Just look at the picture above.  He's staring at you.  Listen to his voice.  You are now aware of Vin Diesel's awesomeness.

Diesel was a lot of what made the first one great.  He yelled at people, acted tough, was cool, and even learned something in the end (I think).  Also, he drove sweet cars.  But there was more to the first one that just Diesel.  The whole atmosphere of early 2000 Los Angeles street racing was pretty awesome.  Ja Rule was also in this movie for some reason.  Moreover, let's not forget the breakthrough performance of Michelle Rodriguez, who would go on to play a tough girl who dies in many other films (see

What made the first one so awesome was completely absent from 2 Fast 2 Furious.  First off, the name was retarded.  Second, there was no Diesel of Michelle Rodriguez or Los Angeles.  Instead, we got Paul Walker, Tyrese, and Cole Hauser.  Mother of God.  We also got a non-sensical plot taking place in Miami, the land where sequels are made (See, e.g., Bad Boys 2).

The first film is the defining film of your generation, whenever you were born.  The second one is a beautiful example of how shitty Paul Walker is at acting.  

There were also a couple of other Fast and Furious films after these two.  Tokyo Drift was pretty forgettable and didn't resemble the previous two films in any way.  Then, we had the blockbuster return of the franchise, along with Diesel, in Fast and Furious.  It looks like Fast Five will be close to the latter than the former.  But, with EVERY previous star of the franchise.  We have Diesel, Tyrese, Ludacris, Jordana Brewster, and even that Paul Walker guy.  Oh yeah, also The Rock adding further awesomeness.  Expect a review of that film forthcoming.

What are your thoughts on this amazing franchise?  Let's hear them folks!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bam! Quick hit Electronica with Tron: R3CONF1GUR3D

Just a quick update to fill you in on a new album release. This past week, Tron: R3CONF1GU3D debuted. It's a bit typical for electronica remixes. A bunch of random artists each remix one of Daft Punk's songs from the soundtrack.

I can't help but think the name is a bit of a ripoff of Nine Inch Nails' remix album for Year Zero, Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D. Either way, I guess it works with Tron's futuristics theme.

I haven't listened to the whole album yet, but from what I have heard, I would say it's just ok. A few decent remixes, but nothing really groundbreaking. Anyway, check it out. It's at least worth a preview.   

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Movie Review: The Lincoln Lawyer

All right, so I know this review is a little late and everyone has probably already seen it.  But, whatever.  I am writing this review now anyways.  And, like good movies, good movie reviews are timeless.  Thus, your argument is invalid.  Now, moving on.

The Lincoln Lawyer is a film about a street-smart criminal defense attorney from LA who gets caught up complex murder case where he becomes personally involved.  Also, the protagonist (Matthew McConaughey) drives around in a super fly black Lincoln, hence the name.  Without giving too much away, that's it in a nutshell.

The plot is fairly gripping and interesting.  Since I kind of work in this area and can relate to the protagonist, I found this particularly fun.  But even those who don't work in the shadier areas of the law will enjoy this.  The plot is well-written and, generally, well-executed.  There is never a dull moment as the story begins with McConaughey racing through a courthouse as he is picking up new clients, trying to get others to pay him, and bribing low-level courtroom employees.  From there, McConaughey gets deeper and deeper into a case that risks his own life as well as those around him.

Surprisingly, McConaughey actually does a decent job.  I say this is surprising because he is typically-- no, consistently-- a horrible actor.  He also doesn't take his shirt off until like half-way through the movie and only temporarily.  Again, surprising.  The performances on the whole are strong as Marissa Tomei and William H. Macey bring a bit of actual acting experience to the whole thing.

As for negatives, I would point to the direction.  At times, the audience wonders where the story is actually going.  It can be hard to tell when an important point is coming up versus just another scene.  I think the director failed to highlight a few of the major plot lines in this respect.  You will be able to tell when you see it.  But, in one particular instance, it's not clear whether the client McConaughey is dealing with is just developing his own character, or is actually relevant to the plot.

Other than that, however, this film is crisp and gripping.  One even feels dirty as you see some of the greasy moves McConaughey makes.  Most importantly, the story is interesting and riveting throughout, making this film, on the whole, an entertaining outing.

Rating: 8.5/10

Monday, April 11, 2011

The First of Many Album Review: Within Temptation and "The Unforgiving"

I feel so torn by Within Temptation.  On the one hand, they have an awesome vocalist, so gripping riffs, and pleasing hooks.  On the other hand, they feel a bit like "pop-metal."  The type of music, if they ever found it, teenage girls would listen to before telling all their friends they are "into metal."  A guilty pleasure, one might say.  Well, that pleasure continues with The Unforgiving.

First, a word about the band.  Within Temptation, if you're not familiar with them, is a Dutch symphonic metal band.  They sport a female vocalist who is quite talented and really the centerpiece of the band.  They are frequently compared to Nightwish, but not nearly as "epic" or "classical" in their sound.  Within Temptation uses riffs and hooks to go along with some cool guitar solos and imagery involving heaven, hell, angels, demons, nature, and other things that remind me of the Lord of the Rings.  They've released four pretty decent albums so far, this being their fifth.

This album is by far the most cohesive of Within Temptation's albums.  It took them three years to release and they have done a ton of promotion for it.  Making these short films, releasing a line of comics, and really working on the production values of the album.  The song quality is fairly consistent and I don't get the feeling that any of it was intended as filler.

The Unforgiving feels like a concept album and all of the videos reflect that.  There are underlying themes of righteous killing and anti-heroism.  I don't really love all of this, but it's nice to make it cohesive.

At it's heart, however, there are just some great songs on here.  Vocalist Sharon den Adel beautifully sings a ballad like "Fire and Ice" at one point, while the band is in full metal mode on a well-written song like "Demon's Fate" at another point.  When listening to this album, I never feel the need to skip through tracks, except maybe for the single I posted above "Faster."  The songs are simply just very well-written and tightly performed.  The band and Sharon den Adel feed off of each other.  You can tell this is a band that had been together a long time and the singing and the music just meld into each other.

As for the negatives, there aren't a whole lot.  Most of the songs are good, some very good.  However, there are no great, incredible songs.  Former albums normally had at least one or two songs that you knew you were going to love forever.  I don't feel any of those here.  But, maybe this is made up for in the consistent quality of the album as a whole.

Watch the video and listen to the single, "Faster."  However, keep in mind that this is probably the cheesiest (and crappiest) song on the album.  I understand labels like to release the most accessible songs as singles, but take it with a grain of salt.  It doesn't reflect all of Within Temptation's full range and talent.

Overall, worth checking out.

Rating: 8/10

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Movie Review: Born to be Wild

This is a pretty straightforward film; a story about two different communities of orphaned animals.  One is elephants in Africa.  The other: orangutans in Borneo (Indonesia).  The movie begins by giving the background on the genesis of these two movies, then explaining how they operate.  Finally, it finishes up with a case study of an animal in each community.

First off, some of the scenes in this movie are very beautiful.  I watched it in IMAX 3D and it was very easy on the eyes.  The first 3D nature film that I have seen as well.  This is a huge plus and, in my opinion, the best aspect of the movie.

The movie doesn't try to do too much.  Sometimes, nature films and documentaries can get tiresome and boring very quickly.  This one incorporates only the essential parts of the story and the most beautiful scenes.  This is great because it never gets cumbersome.  On the other hand, the movie is only 40 minutes long.  The shortest movie I have ever seen in theaters.  Keep this in mind when doing your own cost-benefit analysis.

As far as negatives, it's hard to find many.  If you don't like hearing about orphaned animals, then you won't like this movie.  If you do enjoy that and love watching nature films, then you will enjoy this.  It really does seem as simple as that.  My one real criticism would be that the film doesn't go as in-depth as it could.  Perhaps this is in an attempt to appeal to a wider audience (which it clearly is trying to do).  But, I thought I would point it out.

One last point, you've got to love Morgan Freeman as the narrator.  All of our lives, we have loved the sound of his voice.  That doesn't change here.  The man is a narration machine.

It's quite limited in it's scope, but understandably so.  What it does, it does well.  As such, this is a hard film to criticize since you get what you expect.  Nevertheless, the subject matter is just "pretty good" as far as I am concerned.  Sure, I love animals and seeing awesome shots in 3D.  But, it's not exactly going to blow me away.

Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A bit of Humor to Brighten Your Day: Tarot Cards for Your Pet

Founds this gem on Craigslist today.  The description reads:

"The Pet Oracle Cards were created with the intention of helping you develop a more intuitive and healing connection with your pets, and ultimately, all animals.

Easy to use, the pet oracle Cards will help you effortlessly tune into and communicate with your pet. It is as though your pet will speak to you through the cards! The cards will amplify your natural telepathic gifts and help you hear the voice of your intuition.

The deck is comprised of 52 cards and was designed to create a playful, intuitive connection with your pet. As you use the cards, you learn more about your pet's physical and emotional needs and how you can best fulfill them.

Dr. Anyes Van Volkenburgh is a veterinarian and internationally acclaimed animal welfare advocate. As a third generation intuitive and healer, Dr. Van Volkenburgh has unique insight into not just the physical ailments of animals, but their ailments on the conscious and spiritual level as well. Dr. Van Volkenburgh combines her extensive knowledge of animals and veterinary medicine with her intuitive gifts to create her own unique brand of healing."

So... how many should I buy?  I was thinking about buying like 12.  A few for myself, the rest as gifts.  They're only $30 a pack.  I would be a fool NOT to load up on these bad boys.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Song Post: Checking in with Beck and his Remix of Lykke Li's "Get Some"

This remix is Beck's most recent song, believe it or not.  It's a remix of Swedish hipster chick Lykke Li's "Get Some."  

Us Beck fans out there know that the man is notoriously prolific.  So, it comes as a bit of a surprise that Beck hasn't released an album since 2008's Modern Guilt, excepting the songs he did for Scott Pilgrim and, sadly, Twilight.

The song is pretty good.  It has a driving, if repetitive, electronic beat.  It's not as dynamic as the original, but I find it a little bit more pleasing.  The original song is good, however I don't find it all that exciting.  This one adds a little something.

Makes me hungry for a new Beck album.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

My Very First Post and Movie Review: Sucker Punch

Movie Review: Sucker Punch

Sucker Punch is mostly spectacle with very little story.  The characters are, at the same time, one-dimensional and colorful.  The plot is edgy and textured, while simultaneously non-sensical.  The one consistency: it's just plain fun to look at.   

First off, I want to begin by saying that some of you will love this movie and some of you will hate it.  Director Zack Snyder isn't known for classical, serious film-making.  Instead, he is know for making rich and vibrant worlds full of blood, action, and dirty eroticism.  You've seen this before in 300 and you see it here again.  If you liked 300, you will probably like Sucker Punch.  If not, well, you can guess.

The movie is successful in several areas.  First, the action sequences are breathtaking.  Snyder really went all out in trying to create fantasy worlds where action and violence occurs at a level impossible in the real world.  These fantasies worlds are quite fascinating; zombie nazis, dragons, and awesome battle scenes pepper these worlds.

The film also succeeds in creating a very textured environment, setting the dark, surrealist tone.  The sepia tones in one universe contrast with the vibrant colors of another universe.  In the most violent fantasies, red and black dominate the screen.  All the while using an innovative soundtrack.

One aspect that won't be talked about with Sucker Punch that needs to be is the soundtrack.  Mostly a series of covers, the songs provide new takes on already existing classics such as The Pixies' "Where is My Mind?" and a mash-up of Queen's "We Will Rock You" with a pounding hip-hop beat.  Interestingly, the star of the film, Emily Browning, sings some of the songs.  Although she is by no means a professional singer, she holds her own and adds a touch of something special to the soundtrack.  

Critics have generally derided this film, and I will as well, for one major reason: the plot simply makes no sense.  Snyder has created a three layered universe where the story lines are intended to correlate.  However, it seems as though Snyder gets lost in his fantasy worlds and failed to make the different layers match up.  This leaves the audience pondering just what exactly happened and why.

All-in-all, this is more or less a "love it or hate it" type of film.  I loved it for the beautiful atmosphere and incredible action sequences.  Nevertheless, I confess that the plot leaves much to be desired.  So, I have to dock a few points.

Rating:  7.5/10