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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wednesday Morning Music: Magnetic Fields - "Zombie Boy"

Not every song on the Magnetic Field's newest album benefits from the distort now, ask questions later approach, but "Zombie Boy," Distortion's penultimate track, is a sheer delight. It's humorous and menacing all at the same time, just like zombies.

(I don't know anything about Torchwood except that it's a Dr. Who spin off and, according to some guy at Blockbuster, only super nerds watch Dr. Who.)




Favorite Lyrics:
You seem to have died
of some form of the pox
They left you inside
your tiny black box
I heard when you cried
and I answered your knocks
Let's make you a bride
with another two cocks

As a special bonus, check out this Zombie Zombie video for their song "Driving This Road Until Death Sets You Free." It's a retelling of John Carpenter's The Thing using GI Joe figures. And it's awesome. Read the rest of this article.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Stop Already and Sunday Bloody Sunday presents...


ZITS:
WHIMSICAL TEENAGE FARCE
OR
UNSTOPPABLE PARADE OF MEDIOCRITY

Teenagers are difficult to deal with/be around/share the planet with. They're obnoxious, sarcastic, and rude. If you need proof, visit your local mall, purchase a soft-pretzel, find a comfortable bench to relax upon, and take in the show. If you don't have the time (or the intestinal fortitude) to waste your life at the mall, just think back to when you were a teen. In fact, take a moment right now. I can wait. Go ahead

Scary, huh?
Maybe you're a teenager right now. If so, save yourself years of bickering with your parents and realize that you are an asshole. You probably don't mean to be, but you are. All teenagers, to some degree, are insufferable assholes. I know what you're thinkng, Emo Jones--"it's just a stereotype," but I know I speak the truth because I have been there. You can't help it. It's puberty and spontaneous erections and the rap music. It's got you all bug-a-boo.

With the exception of Doogie Howser and that super-powered cheerleader who helped save the world that one time, teenagers are lazy, tech-obsessed mooches who are simultaneously appalled by their parents and dependent on them for spending money. In that respect, Jeremy Duncan, the 15 year old hero of the popular comic strip Zits, is a worthy representative of the species. Look at him, with this laptop, digital camera, electric guitar, and his Starbucks. He is Mr. Teenager 2008. All he needs now is a Blue Tooth jammed in his ear hole. Since 1997, writer Jerry Scott and illustrator Jim Borgman have been entertaining America with Jeremy's exploits and I'm here to say it's gotta stop. In truth, Zits is far from the worst comic strip out there (I'm looking at you, Marmaduke), but it's offenses are still most grievous

First of all, we get it! It's been 11 years of the same hackneyed crapola. Teenagers are lazy. Teenage boys like teenage girls a whole lot. Teenagers would rather have their toes gnawed off by field mice than be seen in public with their parents. Over and over and over and over...STOP IT! How much humor can you keep mining from the same funny pit? Jeremy is tapped out, man--seriously, there is no more comedy gold left in his cartoon bones. Let him die. Or at least let him grow up. Jeremy hasn't learned a damned thing in 11 years and at this rate when he reaches his late 30s he's going to be like Will Ferrell's character in Step Brothers-stupid, whiny, and prone to violence, not to mention painfully unfunny.

Secondly, I just hate stuff like this:

DAMMIT! What more do you want, Zits? We get it--teens and parents will never see eye to eye. Ugh.

What's the answer though? How do you make a comic strip feel fresh and new? Apparently Borgman has shown interest in tackling weightier issues like drugs and premarital sex, and while that is a terrible idea, at least he's thinking outside the panel. But Scott isn't having it, so I guess we can look forward to another 11 years of Jeremy sleeping in late and being a dick to his parents. Pardon me if I don't LOL.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Concert Review: Old 97's -- Moore Square Park, Raleigh, NC



The Old 97's may be the quintessential alt-country band. From the boozy desperation of Uncle Tupelo to the nuanced nostalgia of The Jayhawks to the pop aspirations of Ryan Adams, the Old 97's run the gamut of alt-country sensibilities. On top of that, they're just a good, good band, and Fight Songs, their 1999 bid to break it big, is one of the best albums to carry the alt-country tag. So when I was offered the chance to see them for free in Raleigh's Moore Square last night, I took that opportunity. I'm glad I did.

I must admit to having lost track of the Old '97s over the past few years, but what Rhett Miller and company brought to downtown Raleigh last night was just as urgent, rollicking, and raw as I remember them being in the early '00s when I first encountered them. In fact, they reminded me just how much their brand of whiskey-soaked barroom country rock is missing from modern country music. Sure Toby Keith and company wax nostalgic about the small town bar with its small town bar band, but they play big fucking stadiums and suck (mostly). The Old '97s are the real deal, and they're good.

Unfortunately, I wasn't seeing the Old 97's in a smoky bar. I was seeing them in a public park with homeless people, tree-climbing kids, hippies, and literally thousands of beer guzzling 20-somethings wearing novelty t-shirts advertising how much beer they drink. Oh, it wasn't so bad. The night was cool, there was a breeze, and the show was free. The band played songs I already loved and a few that have convinced me to check out their new album. This isn't the nostalgia act that usually plays shows like this. This is a real, relevant band. Props to the folks who put the show on for inviting a band the audience can enjoy before the encore. A good night was had by all.

photo credit: vsmoothe/flickr (from an earlier show) Read the rest of this article.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

5 Lamest Youth Group Anthems

Inspired by Matt's Sunday School lament of a week ago, Jonathan now regales you with tales of his youthful religious experience in "A People's History of Rock presents 5 Lamest Youth Group Anthems." Tell him to get a life.


The early 1990s were a time of much-ish turmoil in our great-ish country. Christians were being attacked from all corners by hateful entities like the ACLU, the United States Constitution, and a little band called Nirvana. Rock music was being assaulted by those great bastions of mediocrity, big-time corporate radio and American Christianity. Amidst this turmoil, the decades old institution of Christian Rock enjoyed a renewed sense of relevance coupled with record-breaking sales figures as conservative Christian parents across this exceptionally adequate nation that I love (really!) sought a new form of entertainment to compete with the raw, primal sound coming out of the Pacific Northwest. The following list presents 5 songs aimed at Christian adolescents released by major (in Christian terms) labels from 1991 to 1995 (actually, they were all released in 1993). Oh, and they're all lame.

1. DeGarmo and Key - "God Good, Devil Bad" (1993)
It's easy to see why youth leaders in the early 90s, who were mostly raised on ZZ Top and corn nuts, would fall in love with this song. It's got everything born again bad asses love to talk about from the old days: seedy motels, tattoos, southern-fried riffs, and…um…interesting haircuts. The song is inexplicably inspired by a man who has "a tattoo on his arm of Jesus and the Devil side by side." Even more inexplicable is the fact that our protagonist decides to confront this man. Retard. After what certainly is a severe and well-deserved beating, all our hero can utter is "God good. Devil bad." Hey, that's the title of the song! There's also some bullshit about Madonna mixing sin and God and the standard complaining about people who wear crosses and use "nasty language." Lame. Also, I'm pretty sure that guy in the target vest is in DC Talk!



2. Carman and DC Talk - "Addicted to Jesus" (1993)
Christian crooner Carman is often credited as being an artist that isn't afraid to "shake things up." I'm sure there was a certain amount of backlash to the whole comparing Jesus to drugs thing, but not nearly enough in my opinion. A2J? WTF? Is this seriously going to keep anyone off drugs? Or draw anyone to Christianity? This video is notable for a guest appearance by DC Talk in various costumes that defined the time period: overalls, ties with shorts, oversized shirts, and baseball caps abound. There's lots of complainin' 'bout various social ills like smoking in the boy's room and havin' heart attacks. Then we get to praise the lord with our feet. Through it all, DC Talk tirelessly encourage us by shouting "kick that groove," "pop goes the devil 'cause the devil goes pop," and "bust the devil (bust him up)." Carmen imitates a whacky doctor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and a pirate. In spite of all of this, this video is exceedingly lame. Please watch it.



3. Carman and Petra - "Our Turn Now" (1993)
What? Carman again? Actually, I could fill this list with fucking Carman, but I've chosen to highlight songs that feature other youth group luminaries like DC Talk in "A2J" and Petra in "Our Turn Now." There's nothing more rock and roll than rebellion, and there's nothing kids like better than having something to stand up for. In the '90s, Christian leaders started getting wise to this and started a campaign encouraging kids to "break the rules" and pray in school, despite the fact that there isn't any rule against praying in school. (and if there were, how could it possibly be enforced?) In this video Carman and Christian rock dinosaurs Petra team up to form a holy union of suckiness to helpfully explain how God was kicked out of public schools and show what public schools look like without God. So what's happened to our schools since God was removed in '62? Well, let's see. Based on this video we have, uh, pregnant students, guns, drugs, interracial kissing…oh, and creepy dudes with instruments hanging out in the halls. I think I saw that dude with the Mickey Mouse shirt on Dateline. My favorite moment comes at the 2:34 mark when Carmen and Petra singer John Schlitt looks surprised when the camera catches them dancing with each other.



4. Audio Adrenaline - "Big House" (1993)
I admit that I find this song more than a little appealing. It's simple, catchy, and easy to sing along with, but I think it's the band's personality that drives their success. In this video they seem like a bunch of goofy, amiable kids. In fact, they remind me of the Monkees, and I love the Monkees. Their main draw, however, is exactly what makes them lame. Audio Adrenaline ARE just a bunch of kids who met at a small college and formed a band together, but they also, after signing to ForeFront records, completely gave themselves over to their record company. The result is an exceedingly lame 1992 dance-pop debut album that references Barney Fife and includes a song called "One Step Hyper."
"Big House" is from their 1993 sophomore effort that, if I remember correctly, was marketed as an exercise in artistic freedom. In interviews the band would talk about how important it was that they have control over the sound of this album, and there's even a song called "We're a Band" that answers the criticism that they're a manufactured commodity. I guess Christian record execs started getting wise to the fact that things like writing your own songs, playing your own music, and dressing yourself were important to cool kids in 1993. The album cover features a grunged-out version of Audio A. The album title was Don’t Censor Me. But the songs are still silly and overtly grounded in conservative Christianity, and the music, while certainly more guitar driven, wasn't really anything like…well…anything that was popular at the time. Also, singing about how cool your dad's house is, even if it is your heavenly dad, isn't cool. I suppose this might be a pretty good religious children's song, but for teenagers, it's totally lame.




5. Geoff Moore and the Distance "Evolution…Redefined" (1993)
Another imaginary boogieman the Christian right set up for kids to rebel against instead of their parents was Charles Darwin's completely sane and unbelievably enlightening theory of evolution. In this video we get a batshit crazy douchbag in a tasseled leather jacket encouraging children to make fun of their science teachers. In 1993. What the Hell?
The teacher in the video (probably played by a member of DC Talk) begins the video by foolishly proclaiming that "all life is a continuum. All living things, despite their awesome diversity, are related to each other." Wait. That's not foolish. That's simple science. Simple science that seems to make the cute girl in the class nervous: "You mean I have some of the same genes as a monkey? Grody!" Luckily, smarmy douches Geoff Moore and the Distance live in her textbook. To defend his position, Moore sets up the classic "your uncle was a monkey" straw man and affirms that instead of "accidents of nature," he believes humans are the "work of a kind of loving creator." I guess that evolution doesn't say anything about the presence or absence of a creator is beside the point. Instead, Moore believes in a "redefined" evolution that includes something about a changed heart. I don't see what this has to do with the origin of man, but it's definitely lame.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

5 Lamest Comic Book Movie Heroes

1. Ghostrider: Guilty...of being lame!
2. Bibleman: While not techincally a comic book character, Bibleman is featured in something called a "Biblezine." I can only imagine the cry of anguish that was raised by his thousands (hundreds?) of pint-sized fans when Bibleman was revealed to be none other than former sit-com star turned tattoo-covered fat-ass, Willie Aames.
3. The Human Torch: In this case, I don't mean lame as in stupid, just lame, like, he's kind of a chotch.

4. King Leonidas: You know, your highness, all that screaming and growly-talk is not good for the voice. You're going to regret that in the long run I'm afraid. I won't say anymore because the last time I bad mouthed the film 300 (which I thought was boring) on the interwebs, I was threatened with quite a grisly death (i.e. something about my entrails being used to stuff a pillow for Frank Miller's dog).
5. Steel: Wait, Shaquille O'Neal was allowed to make another movie after Kazaam? Are you serious? To be fair, I haven't seen Steel, but look at that picture. Do I really have to see this piece of crap to know Steel is super-lame?
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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

5 Lamest Comic Book Movie Villains

1. Mr. Freeze (Batman and Robin, 1997): Menacing, psychotic, bent on Gotham City's destruction...and a master of puns! Here's a couple zingers courtesy of Dr. Victor Fries' frozen-hearted alter ego:

"You're not sending me to the cooler." (zing!)
"Ice to see you." (stop...my sides)
"If revenge is a dish best served cold, then put on your Sunday finest. It's time to feast!" (that's not really a pun, but okay)
"Allow me to break the ice. My name is Freeze. Learn it well. For it's the chilling sound of your doom." (um, please stop)

"Let's kick some ice." (that one doesn't even make sense, sir!)
2. Satan (Constantine, 2005): Peter Stormare plays The Prince of Darkness as a drug-addled, homosexual Marlon Brando with attention deficit disorder. The results are, um, confusing?
Two-Face (Batman Forever, 1995): Let's remember Tommy Lee Jones for his wonderful work in films like The Fugitive and No Country for Old Men, not for this shrill, simpering take on one of Batman's greatest enemies. I did like his sexy sidekicks, Sugar and Spice, but for a quality Two-Face, see The Dark Knight.
Galactus (Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, 2007): "Storms a-brewin'. We better head down to the cellar."
Shark (Batman, 1966): Damn sharks! They're always getting in the way when you're trying to save the day. Luckily, back in the 60's, Batman's utility belt included a can of Shark Repellant for just such emergencies.
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Monday, July 21, 2008

'08 Summer Movie Report: The Dark Knight

First, I'd like to extend a heartfelt thanks to Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, and Hellboy II. Thanks very much for your quality stories, amazing action sequences, and wonderful casts doing top-tier work. This summer's crop of comic book adaptations have been among some of the best comic book films on record. The Dark Knight, on the other hand, is simply one of the best films I've ever seen.
Chances are you've already seen Christopher Nolan's latest (I mean, did you see the numbers? Who didn't go see this thing last weekend?) and share my feelings. This film is epic, man! It's hard to figure out where to start, or if to start at all, because you really should see it for yourself. Right now if you can. Really. If you are at work right now, turn off your computer, pull up your pants, get in your car, and drive to your local cinema.

So, remember when Jack Nicholson played the Joker long, long ago? Well, forget that. I'm not saying Jack was no good, because his Joker terrified me as a young boy, but I'm no longer a young boy (though you wouldn't know that looking at the stacks of comic books surrounding our downstairs couch right now) and I need a Joker who entertains as well as makes it difficult for me to sleep without a night-light. My friends, Heath Ledger IS that Joker. Ledger loses himself in the role, a role that for many will be remembered as his crowning achievement. His trademark cackle is appropriately horrific, his love of diabolical schemes is entertainingly psychotic, and his Disappearing Pencil magic trick is not one I'd recommend for a child's birthday party. I've heard a lot of people say he steals the movie, and while I do agree his portrayal of Batman's greatest foe is one for the history books, there are a lot of other people in this film doing great work as well.


Like Christian Bale. I found it hard to take him seriously in Batman Begins at times, only because I was not prepared for his gruff way of speaking. I know, Batman is menacing and his voice needs to be appropriately gravely, but c'mon. It didn't bother me too much in the new film, until the end when he and Two-Face engaged in a Gruff Voice Off in a burned out warehouse.

Oh, yeah, Two-Face! I love Two-Face.

You must see this film. In fact, if you are still reading this, you obviously ignored me before and that kind of hurts me feelings. Now get going!

GEP's Grade: A
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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Smack-Down Mini: Dracula Dead and Loving It VS. Hot Shots!

The place: a crowded Mexican restaurant in Athens, Georgia. The players: your humble author and Nick, my close friend and designer of our corporate logo. The argument: which is the better spoof movie, Mel Brooks' Dracula Dead and Loving It or Jim Abrahams' Hot Shots!

Perhaps this debate sounds silly to you, dear reader, and I couldn't agree with you more, but to be fair we had just taken a brewery tour and one of us (who shall remain nameless, but wasn't me) had a few too many, if you catch my drift. Drunken or not though, the argument grew quite heated, considering the subject matter, and eventually spilled over into the parking lot. I don't remember how it started, but I do know how it's going to end--in a good old-fashioned GEP Movie Smack-Down!
Title: Dracula Dead and Loving It

What the hell?: I think the argument kicked into high gear when Nick had the audacity to make the following statement: "This is the best work Leslie Nielsen has ever done." So, the man who gave the world Detective Frank Drebin and uttered the classic line, "I am serious...and don 't call me Shirley," finally hit his stride with this minor Mel Brooks picture? Is that what I'm to understand, sir?

To be fair, in this section of the Smack-Down I classically describe what the movie is about, so here we go: it's about an hour and a half.

The truth: If your idea of comedy gold is funny accents, Dracula Dead and Loving It will probably be your choice for best comedy ever. I have the same complaint with this film that I have with every other Mel Brooks film--it's not funny enough. I've never been a huge fan of Brooks (his films, to be fair--I find the man quite charming), but I keep giving him a chance. Dracula Dead and Loving It is a waste of time to watch and it seems like Brooks was aware of that the whole way through. Harvey Korman scores a few laughs as Dr. Seward, whose solution to every problem is an enema, and Steven Weber's terrible British accent (which I think was purposeful) made me smile quietly to myself once or twice.
Title: Hot Shots!

What the hell?: If you thought the Charlie Sheen/Jon Cryer comedy alliance started with CBS's Two and a Half Douchebags, you couldn't be further from the truth. Ducky and The Sheenster had already cracked America up with this spoof of Top Gun. The first ten minutes of Hot Shots! is funnier than the entirety of Dracula Dead and Loving It. I've always preferred the spoofings of Jim Abrahams and those Zucker Boys to those of Mel Brooks anyway. Hot Shots! contains clever wordplay, a sensual love scene in which Sheen cooks breakfast on Valeria Golino's stomach, a hilarious helium-peace pipe ceremony, and a running chihuahua gag that made me laugh every single time. Plus, its got Lloyd Bridges, perhaps the funniest man in the spoof genre after, well, Leslie Nielsen.

The Winner: I gotta go with Hot Shots! As I said before, Dracula Dead and Loving It is minor Brooks anyway and probably won't be embraced as a classic the way Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles has been. I guess what I'm trying to say is that Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick won't be starring in a musical version of this piece of shit anytime soon. It's lame, poorly made, and worst of all, not in the least bit funny. Hot Shots!, on the other hand, is genuinely hilarious. I'll just chalk this disagreement up to you being sloppy drunk and me being a movie snob, OK, Nick? But seriously, Dracula Dead and Loving It sucks, and I don't mean in a sexy vampiric way.
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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Transmissions from Reality Hell: Know Your G's

From G's to Gents is Mtv's latest addition to the reality TV landscape, a landscape already rife with balding, washed-up rock-stars, psychotic religious dads, and half-dressed skanks. But, hey, let's introduce some hard-drinking, bling-swinging, former prison inmates to the environment and see what happens.

Academy-award winner Jamie Foxx, along with four other individuals, came up with the concept, Sean Combs former umbrella-ist, Fonzworth Bentley, plays host, and the whole thing goes down in a mansion called The Gentleman's Club, which is actually quite the opposite of what one thinks when he/she hears the words "gentleman" and "club" conjoined. It's less of a strip club and more of a fraternity for young men with silver teeth.

Perhaps you're asking yourself, like I was, "what exactly is a G?" Actually, a G can be many things. Let me share with you what I gleaned from the riveting first installment:

1. G (pronounced 'gee') can stand for "gangsta." Some gangstas live the good life with money they've earned from, say, modeling, stripping, or hustlin'. Other gangstas may be flat broke, unemployed, or homeless. (Show contestant, Shotta, for instance, lives in his car. But don't feel too sorry for him, America, it's a Mercedes.)

2. G can stand for 'guido,' defined by solushus on the Urban Dictionary as being "a sad pathetic excuse for a male" who usually resides in New Jersey, wears tracksuits, assaults non-whites and homosexuals willy-nilly, and engages in date rape. I can't see G's to Gents resident guido, Cee, date raping anybody, but you just know he's got some tracksuits packed away with those 17 suits he brought along.

3. According to show contestant and new star of my nightmares, Creepa, G can also stand for 'goon,' which is a person hired to terrorize people. Creepa fancies himself a goon and he's damn proud of it. Neat!

4. I wish G stood for 'great guy,' but I'm pretty sure it does not.
So, now you know what a G is, but what does a G do? How do they live their lives? What are their personal philosophies? Here we go.

1. First of all, real G's represent, son!

2. Some G's spend all day poppin' collars. (Apparently living in your car doesn't keep you from performing this activity.)

3. If a real G's gotta take a piss, he does it wherever he damn well pleases--a tree, a corner, the wall of a rented house, and in Pretty Ricky's case, if none of these makeshift urinals are available, it is perfectly acceptable to simply piss your pants. Now that is straight up pimpin'!

4. And since I mentioned it, let's talk about a G's nickname. Apparently, when one has decided to become a G, he needs to choose a retarded nickname for himself. Some examples: J-Boogie, The Truth, Creepa, and the aforementioned, Pretty Ricky.

5. G's dress to impress. That may mean multiple necklaces, stylish sweat-bands, or a Michael Jackson glove.

6. Some G's work as lab assistants. But don't worry, most don't. Most are hopelessly unemployed. Holla!
And, finally, how much money does it take for a human being who has decided to turn his back on common sense and live an angry, hopeless existence to embarrass himself week-after-week on a reality game-show that is kinda-if-you-think-about-it racist?

Apparently, one-hundred thousand bucks. Yea!
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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

5 Lamest Sunday School Lessons

Because it always elicits a lot of responses, Giant Electric Penguin has decided to add RELIGION to it's ever-increasing list of topics to be discussed, dissected, and ridiculed, when the need arises. God bless us, everyone.
1. "Whatever you hate in life will torture you for all eternity in Hell."
The Sunday school teacher for 3rd and 4th graders at the church we attended in Troy, Michigan was kind of a creepy lady (in fact, half of these lame lessons come from her weird, twisted little brain). She taught us a lot of strange stuff, stuff that certainly added fuel to my just blossoming obsessive compulsive tendencies. I will never forget this lesson in terror. It was suggested that if we hated spiders, truly one of God's most loathsome creations, fostered this hatred until the day we passed from this Earth, then we would find ourselves in Hell, being forever plagued by a constant barrage of arachnids. By middle school I was starting to figure out that this little tid-bit was probably bullshit and began joking that I hated naked ladies with colossal boobs.

2. The same whack-job that warned us of the repercussions of a lifetime of spider intolerance, also shared with us this bit of wisdom: "You must love Jesus more than you love your parents." She made it sound easy as chocolate chess pie: "Hey, kids, love this guy you've never seen more than the people who drive you to your swimming lessons at the YMCA, give you Christmas presents, and feed, clothe, and shelter you. Love him more than the dad who creates amazingly exciting bedtime stories for you and your sister every night and the mom who pulls splinters out of your fingers and once a week makes that delicious Mexican dip you love for dinner." The moment I heard this, I flatly refused. Jesus was going to get love, don't get me wrong, but not more than my parents. As a third grader I would've been devestated to hear if my parents loved Jesus more than me.

3. "Never allow your thoughts to grow idle--that's when the Devil gets in."
This Sunday school lesson fucked me up big time! I heard this and was completely freaked out. "The Devil's gonna get in my head and make me do things--bad things," I thought. I made sure my mind was running at all times, which led to one of my still thriving quirks: counting. I've gotten slightly better over the years, but back in the day, if I let my thoughts slow down for a second, I thought I was in danger of a visit from Satan himself. So I counted words in my head and by high school, though I'd stopped worrying about the Devil, the counting process would sometimes drive me crazy. I didn't even spend the time fending off idle thoughts with reflections on God or whatever crazy bullshit had been crammed into my brain at Sunday school, which I'm sure is what this teacher (who is a menace to society--my only hope is she has been stopped by now) meant when she gave us her warning.
4. "The love you have for you wife should appear as hate when compared to your love for Jesus Christ."
I heard this at a wedding--no joke. A wedding! The preacher was telling two young people bonding their lives in holy matrimony to hate each other. OK, not really, but I mean, what the hell? Jesus wants us to hate? Jesus wants our love for others to look like hate? Maybe he just said it wrong (please, God, I hope he said it wrong), because I'm fairly certain the man who encouraged people to love their enemies, didn't think we'd turn around and hate our spouse, or least make it look like hate. And how does love "appear as hate" exactly? Maybe somebody can clear this one up for me. Lame!

5. One of my all time favorite religious lessons is "masturbation is not wrong, unless lust is involved." That statement makes no sense whatsoever. It's illogical. Lust is half the fun of masturbation--masturbation is the sole result of lust (unless you are sick puppy, then lust can lead to all kinds of creepy, illegal activities). So, let me get this straight, if I want to masturbate, the church is fine with it, as long as I'm thinking about baseball or motorcycles or Queso Crunchwraps? Have you ever tried to masturbate to a Taco Bell commercial? Can't be done. And I use thoughts of baseball to make sexual intercourse last longer. That is how unstimulating I find baseball. And motorcycles? That's kinda gay, right? No options were provided when this statement was made. Just "don't lust" and "go forth and masturbate."

6. Oh, heck-a-roo, I'm having fun. How 'bout one more? This is perhaps the most heinous of the bunch, an example of why I detest some sub-sections of organized religion, despise those who claim to love Jesus Christ and be committed to his vision for a better world. I have never heard this in any of the churches I have ever attended, but an ex-girlfriend of mine had a grandmother who attended a church that believed that Black people were cursed because Noah's son, Ham, once saw Noah's cock and balls. It's called the Curse of Ham, and apparently because Ham saw Noah drunk and naked and told his brothers about it, instead of covering his father up, black people deserve to be vilified and thought of as 'less than.' Is that about right, Racist Southern Baptist Assholes? Dude, if you saw some silly drunk guy all naked and shit, you'd tell your buddies and you'd all have a good laugh, right? I mean, even if it was your dad. I mean, that's a hilarious story. Although, it kind of sucks if your family line is cursed for eternity. Anyway, my ex's grandmother was brain-washed by a retarded story and because it was told by some self-proclaimed emissary of God, she took it as Gospel and ran with it. That shit is dangerous and irresponsible.

You know, my father teaches Sunday school at his church and whenever I visit on the weekends, I attend his class. I've never heard him talk about hate or give his class excuses for racism. I've only heard Sunday school lessons that actually make me feel uplifted and I don't prescribe to any one religion exclusively. I think that's the difference between smart people doing the teaching and just some dumbass who was in the right room at the right time when the pastor needed a teacher position filled. My dad will work on a lesson all week. He has an extensive library and he'll consult the thoughts of several different writers when preparing his notes. Before you stand up in front of a group of impressionable people (especially children!), you need to be educated yourself, need to be sensitive to the needs of your flock. If not, you run the risk of severely screwing people up, even if your intentions are nothing by honorable.

Amen.
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Wednesday Morning Music: She & Him - "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here"

Passed along without comment. Ok, one comment. Those ghosts are awesome.




Coming soon to a rock club near you. Read the rest of this article.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

'08 Summer Movie Report: Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Attention, Wall-e detractors (i.e. Conservative Republican Nutballs), there's yet another movie at your local multiplex this summer to speak out against. Can you believe that Hellboy II insinuates that human greed is a major factor in the destruction of our environment? How dare Hollywood make such blatantly false statements! Not only that, Hellboy II expects you to have sympathy for a guy who looks a whole lot like the Devil. Hollywood truly is a land of tree-hugging, Jesus-hating, gay-marriage-approving heathens.
You know, I still find it hard to wrap my brain around the idea that there is a large group of individuals in this country that would denounce a movie because it contains a pro-Earth message. Really? I mean, what are conservative talk-show hosts and newspaper columnists telling us when they speak out against a movie like Wall-E? Why is it such a bad thing to remind mankind the responsibility we have to take care of the planet we call home?

That's why it's hard to completely despise Prince Nuada (seen above being strangled), the villian in this summer's Hellboy II. He is sick and tired of the human greed he sees in the modern world, the rampant consumption of resources which is threatening the very existence of his kind. While I do not support his decision to awaken an invincible army of mechanoid soldiers to eradicate all of mankind, I do think he should be given a few minutes on, like, Oprah or The Dr. Phil Show, to explain his side of the story. I would not suggest entering the No Spin Zone however--that douchebag never lets anyone else say a damn thing.

I'm sorry. This was supposed to be a review of Hellboy II: The Golden Army, the amazing new film from Guillermo del Toro, director of my favorite film of 2006, Pan's Labyrinth, wasn't it? Hellboy II is a collection of amazing set-pieces, each filled to the brim with odd-looking beasties, each more amazing then the next. Del Toro's brain is a bottomless well of creativity and I get excited every time he puts out a new film (I can't wait for The Hobbit--OMG!).

This summer is clogged with movies about misunderstood superheroes (The Incredible Hulk, Hancock), but Hellboy remains the most interesting. In this film we learn more about his past and his future, which turns out is pretty grim for the human race. I welcome more Hellboy sequels, though I do need a little breather after the final sequence in which Hellboy and Company take on the hulking golden army of the title. That tuckered me out and I just sat on my fat ass the whole time.

I've enjoyed all the comic book films this summer has offered up so far. They've served as tasty appeitizers for the main course coming to theaters this weekend. But for this week, at least, make mine Hellboy.

GEP's grade: B+
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Monday, July 14, 2008

What the WTF?

These are trying times, people. The world is in chaos, nations are at war, children are dying of starvation, and what can we do but shout "why?" repeatedly into the void--the empty, black void of death, doom, and despair. Who will hear our cries? Who will tell us where to turn, where to go, what to do? I demand MANswers! The cable network Spike (TV for Douchebags) MANswers all of life's difficult questions. Questions like:

*How can I beat a drug test?

*How long can a man survive on beer alone?

*What do the shape of a woman's boobs tell you about her personality?

OK, so I guess they just MANswer questions that men ask themselves, or rather, the questions Spike believes men ask themselves. And, hell, if you forget the MANswer to your favorite question, there's a DVD: Here are some questions Spike might be MANswering on the next rivetting season of this supremely retarded program:

*Beer Bongs: How many is too many?

*How much should you tip a hooker?

*What is the best date rape drug currently on the market?

*Why do all gay men want to have sex with me?

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Jon and Kate Plus 400

I make no secret of my love for the TLC program Jon and Kate Plus 8, nor do I make any apologies. It's a cute show full of cute kids doing cute things...and I love cute things, dammit! More than that it is an uplifting story about two normal people who somehow persevere in the face of a very abnormal situation. So when I discovered (via the Gosselin's official Web site) that Jon and Kate themselves would be speaking at a church in Goldsboro, North Carolina, I knew I had to be there. I told the wife and she procured four tickets--two for us, two for my parents (my mother is also a big fan of the show). We decided to make it a whole Lawson Parents Birthday Weekend, including dinner at a much-lauded barbecue restaurant and homemade coconut cake for dessert, not to mention a huge breakfast for the entire Lawson clan Sunday morning. But enough about my perfect family unit.

The Gosselins were speaking at a church with the foreboding name of Highest Praise Tabernacle. I wasn't sure what to expect, but my friends shared some of their thoughts, many of which made me question my decision to attend. It was predicted we would be subjected to a good old fashioned church service as an opener, complete with praise songs, Bible skits, and alter calls. I thought because we had purchased tickets they'd sort of spare us and I was right, for the most part.

We did have to sing...endlessly! Two praise songs ate up almost twenty minutes. The music minister at one point shouted, "C'mon, I want to hear ya," but this was impossible seeing as though his voice overpowered everyone on stage, in the sanctuary, and just about every instrument except the drums. And this guy truly thought he was fronting a rock band--gripping the mic stand with both hands, leaning out over the audience. Also, he wasn't very good.

After the songs, the church's First Lady taught us how to greet visitors: "Now, y'all, there's gonna be a video and then Jon and Kate are gonna come out. When they come out let's just give them a nice round of applause, OK? In fact, I mean, you can clap for the video if you want, but you can also just wait until Jon and Kate come out. You know what? Let's just wait until Jon and Kate come out and then we'll stand and clap and really welcome them."

I leaned over to my mother and whispered, "Does she think we're all retarded?"

After a super-cute montage of family pictures through the ages (and a "preview" of the photos we could purchase after the appearance), Jon and Kate entered to the pre-arranged thunderous applause. I think we did the First Lady proud. God knows if we hadn't, she'd probably would have made Jon and Kate leave and come back after taking a few minutes to repeat her earlier instructions only a little slower.

The church staff was obnoxious, but Jon and Kate were great. They act a lot like they do on TV, Kate doing the bulk of the speaking, with Jon offering a humorous aside now and again. And I knew Kate was attractive, but she is even more attractive in person. In fact, they're both quite attractive, but I guess that is to be expected when large companies and private citizens offer you free tummy tucks and hair transplants. Kate told the whole story of the their lives (most of it old news to super fans, but interesting nonetheless) and then the couple took questions from the audience. Nobody asked anything too terribly thought-provoking and Jon and Kate were pretty tight-lipped about the details of their day-to-day life. Per Jon's request, the final question of the night was asked by a child and guess who the lucky kid turned out to be? That's right, the Pastor and First Lady's daughter, even though the little girl next to Jen was raising her hand as high as it would go and bouncing in her seat.

TLC doesn't allow the unwashed masses to take pictures or video of Jon and Kate, so we were forced to buy photos for $20. But I wanted to meet them, so we waited in line, purchased a family pic (there were also individual pictures of the Eight, complete with original artwork from the corresponding child, but that seemed creepy, so we decided against it) and got Jon and Kate's autographs. They were very nice, very normal people who seemed bewildered that anyone would want to buy a picture of their family and then have them sign it. Kate emphasized many times that they are just normal people, not celebrities, who want to use their show as a) a way to keep a record of their family, not having enough time to take personal videos and b) to speak at churches around the country about their faith in God, a part of their lives that often ends up on the cutting room floor.

Oh, also, when Kate signed my picture, she asked for our names and I said, "Matt and Jen," and she actually wrote "Matten" before realizing she'd messed up. And Jen says Jon flashed her the Asian Recognition Smile, probably surprised that he was encountering one in such a desolate, one-horse town. No offense, Goldsboro area.
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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Prison Break...with boobs!

I've been burned before. Years ago, I accidentally rented Midnight Express believing it to be Midnight Run, the Robert De Niro/Charles Grodin yuk-fest. I know, I know--the whole front cover should have been a give away. I failed at being observant, I guess. Sorry! Anyway, I got home, popped the tape in the VCR, and prepared myself for some hijinks. Instead of witty one-liners and exciting chase scenes, I was treated to nude men making sweet love to one another in a Turkish prison. "When does De Niro show up?" I repeatedly asked myself.

I've yet to see Midnight Run.
With Amazon Jail, I did my research. I didn't want to end up with another 'men-in-prison' movie, full of inmate abuse, triumph over adversity, and swarthy, scantily-clad gentleman engaging in some tastefully shot love-making. First, I read the Netflix 'At A Glance' summary carefully. Nubile young women? Check. Girls in cages? Check. Randy miners? CHECK! Sounded like a rollicking, sexploitative time was coming my way. This was going to be great! I decided there was absolutely no need for any more research. The DVD cover-art told me all I needed to know.

Netflix though must have a policy in place that keeps them from telling the whole truth when describing a movie to their subscribers, and I get that, but c'mon. Let's take a closer look, shall we:

Netflix: "...steamy sexploitation flick..."
Truth: ...boring, badly dubbed, supremely silly sexploitation flick...

Netflix: "[Amazon Jail] follows a group of nubile young women enticed to Brazil, only to find themselves trapped in a white slavery ring."
Truth: It's never really explained where these young women are coming from. From time to time, a group shows up and they're shoved into a prisoner-of-war cage. One girl does mention that she was told she would be interviewing for a tour guide position and suggests to her fellow captives that to keep her interested in accepting the job, those in charge should try being nicer to her. Oh, you mean by not putting you in a cage?! You know, that should be your first clue that the company you're interviewing for is not on the up and up.

Netflix: "Their captors -- planning to turn the ladies into sex toys for big spenders -- toss the girls into a cage, but they band together and escape into the jungle..."
Truth: Their "captors" are nothing more than a cadre of buffoons who are more interested in angrily humping each other and eating popcorn to notice that their sex venture is crumbling around them. Plus, who knew there was so much paperwork in the secret, illegal Amazon jungle brothel business.

Netflix: "[After escaping] they cross paths with some randy miners."
Truth: 'Wacky' miners would've been a better description. I mean, look at this guy!
The girls of Amazon Jungle are fun to look at, but the movie is an amateurish piece of trash that should have been left in the deepest reaches of the Amazon jungle where it would never see the light of day (and probably get crapped on by monkeys). Who would've guessed that a movie filled with orgies, bongos, girl fights, and boobs could be so damn boring?
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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Until we meet again, Jean-Philipe

And now the conclusion of Hell's Kitchen... ...right after these messages!

Well, it's all over, gang. We can finally breath a collective sigh of relief and go back to our lives before this Hell's Kitchen season washed over us, soaking us in the brine of triumph, failure, and Crazy Matt's sweat. Gordon Ramsay has picked a winner and who is it? We'll reveal the answer after the following annoyances.

It has been a pretty eh season--not great, but not at all bad. I, for one, am quite excited about the return of Kitchen Nightmares and by next summer I'm sure I'll be chomping at the bit for another extended stay at Ramsays (fake) restaurant. But for now, I'm glad it's over. I can get back to writing that Great American Novel I've been working on for four years now. I can spend some quality time with my cat (I can tell he's feeling neglected--he just doesn't bite me with the same fiery passion anymore). I can take up scrapbooking. I can have a conversation with the wife about our feelings and whatnot. I can get back to filling my life with crappy movie Smack-Downs. I can finally have some me time.

See you next summer, Hell's Kitchen. Until then, fuck off, you doughnut!

Oh, Christina won.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

What the WTF?: Two for Tuesday

In a brand-new radio ad from Taco Bell, a lonely sad-sack picks up his phone to find a talking Queso Crunchwrap on the line. The overly excited lunch item is ready to rock the young man's world, but the young man initially seems unimpressed, though not at all concerned that he is chatting with a Taco Bell Crunchwrap that has somehow acquired the power of speech. In the end, the Queso Crunchwrap convinces Droopy that good times are forthcoming, making him repeat the mantra "Queso's coming over and Queso wants to party" until the anthropomorphic Crunchwrap is satisfied.

Had it been me receiving this particular call, things would have ended mighty differently:

RING, RING
Matt: Hello?
Queso Crunchwrap (smarmily): Bro, what's goin' on?
M: Who is this, please?
QCW: It's me, the new Queso Crunchwrap from Taco Bell! Can I come over?
M: Wait, who is this exactly?
QCW: I'm spicy and delicious. I'm from Taco Bell. You can eat me.
M: Eat you? I'm sorry, but I think you have the wrong number.
QCW: C'mon, bro, just repeat after me: Queso's coming over and Queso wants to party.
M (frenzied): I don't understand! Why is this happening?!
QCW: You can do better than that! C'mon! Queso's coming over and Queso wants to party!
M: Please, just leave me alone! I don't understand who I'm talking to. This is a...crunchwrap?
QCW: The new Taco Bell Queso Crunchwrap!
M: You are an abomination! You shouldn't be! Truly this is the end of all things! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHGGHHHHH!
Click
QCW: Bro?

Also, get ready opera fans--An Inconvenient Truth: The Opera is on the way!

I'm still waiting for the opera version of Brokeback Mountain to debut, and they drop this on me?! I thought the whole movie-to-Broadway-musical thing was obnoxious, now they're turning some into operas? I understand a Wedding Singer musical, but an An Incovenient Truth opera? Just go crazy, Opera Makers, and turn some of these enduring classics into hacky, novelty operas: Troll 2, Capturing the Friedmans, Hope Floats, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Two and a Half Men--the list for shitty opera-adaptations is endless!

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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Stop Already: Christians vs. Chimps

After a traditional July 4th meal of hot dogs, hamburgers, and BBQ-flavored chips, the family settled down to watch Planet Earth on my sister's brand-new, obscenely-large plasma screen TV. We watched the segment about jungles, a personal favorite of my sister and brother-in-law. Now, I am not generally a fan of nature shows, in fact, in the past I believe I have told people that I hate them. I love animals and all that, but I find nature programs boring and useless.

Planet Earth turned that all around. Have you seen it? Turns out our planet, with all it's animals and plants and such, is actually pretty neat. Planet Earth is an amazing show. Totally engaging and endlessly fascinating, it boasts some of the finest nature footage ever committed to film. I would've been happy spending the remainder of Friday evening parked in front of my sister's giant TV, but the Lawsons love their party games, so we had to break out Catchphrase.
Anyway, at the close of episode Jungles, narrator Sir Richard Attenborough is talking about chimpanzees and how human beings are their closest relatives. Instantly, my father scrunches up his face as if one of the three dogs lounging around the room farted and he had just caught a whiff. My mother was a little more vocal with her exclamation of, "I didn't come from a monkey."

I sat up and responded, "Well, I mean, you know, scientifically, we're very similar to chimpanzees." My mother retorted with, "What do you mean 'scientifically'," her tone suggesting that she didn't trust this newfangled science thing.

"Genetically," Jen said, providing a second rational voice to the conversation. The conversation stopped here, probably because my parents adore my wife and trust anything that comes out of her mouth. She was after all the valedictorian of her high school class and she graduated from an Ivy League school. My dad actually referred to her as the "Brains of the Family" once, in front of me, no less, his beloved son.

But this is not an article about my parents, who I love very much, or even evolution, which, as far as I know, never comes out and says, "hey, everybody, you used to be a monkey!" No, this is actually an article about the conservative Christian's knee jerk reaction to things he/she doesn't fully understand. You see, in my mother's world "evolution" means "you came from a monkey and God had nothing to do with it, so there!" Suggesting that human beings have something in common with the apes is enough to label one a blasphemer. I hope she never finds out about Lancelot Link. "You mean somebody out there thinks a chimpanzee could be as successful a super spy as 007? That is crazy!"

I don't ever knock people because of their beliefs. If they want to believe it all started with, as David Cross says, "a talking snake in a tree," that's fine by me. I'm not offended. I do find it startling that a large group of people could denounce things like evolution and the Big Bang, but to each their own, I guess.

It's this whole knee-jerk reaction to things that so many Christians I know display that irks me. From gay marriage to Harry Potter to stand-up comedy routines. My dad said to me once, "Seems like Christianity is the only thing people think it's OK to make fun of now." That's actually not true, but I guess one is supposed to be separate from the world when they've decided to align themselves with a particular faith, so believing everyone else is against you helps out with all that. And maybe the reason comedians poke fun at the Christian church more than other world religions is the fact that the majority of well-known Christian spokesman are either completely ridiculous or completely corrupt.

Listen, Christians, no one is out to get you (except maybe Satanists, but they're douchebags who don't even believe in the fictional evildoer their church is named after). Before you react, take a moment to reflect. The reality of evolution does not leave an all-powerful God out of the equation, nor does it suggest that we were all once vine-swinging, poop-flinging howler monkeys. So, cool it with the knee-jerk reactions, OK. Take a moment, read a book other than Daily Devotions for the Extreme Sports Teenager once in awhile, and

STOP ALREADY!
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Saturday, July 5, 2008

'08 Summer Movie Report: Wall-e

I'm a sucker for two types of movies: father-and-son stories (In the Name of the Father, Finding Nemo) and misfit love stories (Amelie).  Pixar's latest masterpiece, Wall-e, is a beautiful example of the misfit love story, the misfits being two little robots from vastly different environments.  

Wall-e spends his days on an Earth no longer habitable for mankind.  No birds soar through the rust-colored skies and piles of trash stand tall alongside abandoned skyscrapers.  Wall-e, seemingly the last surviving robot of his kind, is responsible for these trash piles.  Accompanied by his only friend, a cockroach, Wall-e sifts through our forgotten garbage, saving various treasures for his growing collection.
On the other side of the universe, Eve, a probe robot, spends her days on the Axiom, humankind's current home.  A space cruise-liner, the Axiom offers a vast variety of liquified meals one can easily suck through a straw and hover-chairs that make it no longer necessary to walk.  The hover-chairs are also equipped with televisions making true human interaction obsolete.  As a result of these fancy futuristic luxuries, the human collective sport walrus-bodies which they keep squeezed into tight, red jumpsuits.

Wall-e meets Eve when she is sent to Earth to search for vegetation.  Apparently this has been going on for 700 years without a positive result.  Wall-e falls instantly in love, sharing with Eve his vast treasure trove of various odds and ends and introducing her to his favorite film, Hello Dolly, which he watches endlessly. Slowly but surely a love affair develops and that's when yours truly lost it.  Can't help it, dudes.  When I see two super-cute robots in love, forget about it--here come the waterworks.

Wall-e and Eve spend the bulk of the movie simply repeating each other's names, but the emotional punch behind these recitations is powerful. Pokemon beasties do the same thing, but who really gives a shit.

Wall-e is beautiful to look at as well.  From the post-apocalyptic, orange-tinted wasteland that Earth has become to the candy-colored outer reaches of space, Wall-e is your typical Pixar feast for the eyes.  The story of two robots in love is cute, but there is also an environmental message,  as well as a warning about mass consumerism.  And there's a live-action Fred Willard!

As I stated earlier, Wall-e is a masterpiece, hands down the best movie in theaters right now, and my early pick for best movie of the summer season (maybe of 2008?).  As we walked out of the theater, I turned to my wife and pondered, "Why can't all movies be Pixar movies?"  Sigh.

GEP's Grade: A+

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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Beauty vs. Beast

And now, the continuation of Hell's Kitchen... Wait. This isn't over yet? Just give someone a job already, Chef Ramsay! Bloody hell!

Actually, Hell's Kitchen has finally found its stride, albeit in the last three or four episodes, but lately I've started remembering why I fell in love with this show in the first place. I've been absent the last two weeks and for that I'd like to apologize to my wife, who I'm fairly certain is the only person who actually reads my Hell's Kitchen posts. Sorry, honey. We're both more into The Next Food Network Star now anyway (did you see that weird-looking chick slip in the kitchen and spill sauce all over herself? Awesome!).

But here we are, the penultimate episode of season four and who are the finalists: Christina and Charlotte's own Petrozza. I'm pleased by this pairing. After all I predicted it three weeks ago (not online, but at work--ask the ladies in my office). On last night's episode, the final chefs planned their menus, picked out wallpaper, and flew to New York City on a private jet to prepare their signature dishes for the executive chefs of all of Gordon Ramsay's (real) restaurants around the world. Thankfully, Petrozza chose not to prepare his world-famous Hen in a Pumpkin.

And who was on hand to congratulate the final two chefs on making it this far in reality TV's most spirit-crushing, dream-shattering, self-confidence-smothering game show? None other than Whoopi Goldberg herself! Wait. Whoopie Goldberg? Why the hell was Whoopi Goldberg there? She literally said nothing! Petrozza seemed pretty awed by her though, so, I don't know, maybe it was fun for him.

Finally, the chefs chose their teams, picking from the rejects of this season. The episode ended on a cliffhanger: who will get stuck with the equally talent/bitchy Jen and who will find themselves cursed with Matty's inability to complete the simplest of tasks? We shall see. Now let's wrap this up, you doughnuts!

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Worst Vacation Ever: Vacancy

Destination: Home after an uncomfortable visit to the in-laws for an anniversary party.

Disaster: Snuff film producer, Frank Whaley, and his creepy buddies.

Let's just leave the snark by the wayside on this one, folks.  Vacancy is a taut thriller, a sleek, no frills horror film set in a creepy old hotel that makes the Bates Motel look like the Ritz-Carlton.  Vacancy doesn't break any new ground, but it doesn't need to.  It's a well-crafted piece of cinema and everyone involved is on point.

First of all, I want to see Luke Wilson in more horror films.  I mean, he doesn't have to make a career of it--I know he likes to appear in half-baked indie comedies and laughless Hollywood tripe (he's also been a Wes Anderson player, so he's got cred), but I found him refreshing in the role of the put-upon Everyman who has to put up with his soon to be ex-wife (an excellent Kate Beckinsale) and figure out a way to elude the three psychopaths who have made the couple the stars of their latest snuff production.  Frank Whaley (where the hell has he been?) plays a super-creepy hotel manager/film producer who watches the couple from his control room and Ethan Embry (ok, seriously, where the hell has he been???) plays the friendly mechanic/diabolical killer fiend who sets the whole sequence of events into motion.

At 85 minutes, Vacancy is short, tense, and brutal, like any film of the "Couple in a Seemingly Hopeless Predicament With No Means of Escape" variety ought to be.  Director Nimrod Antal cuts out the bullshit and delivers a endlessly satisfying film for horror pros and novices alike.

I was going to write something like "check in as soon as you can" or "have no reservations, rent this one today," but I decided that would probably be kind of dumb, so I won't.

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