Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I Come Not To Praise 2008, But To Bury It

2008 is thankfully behind us now, but the specter of a "best-of" recap has been haunting me for the last few weeks. So I write this, not under duress, but with a sense of begrudging obligation. Hopefully, once I've gotten this out of my system, I can go back to not writing about other stuff.

Good Movies I Saw In Theatres
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Iron Man
The Dark Knight
Tropic Thunder

2008 wasn't exactly a banner year for theatrical releases, but there were a few diamonds in the rough. The real winner of the year had to be The Dark Knight. Despite all the hype and the haters, it was easily the best movie I saw in theatres over the course of the year.

Crappy Movies I Saw In Theatres
Burn After Reading
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Quantum of Solace
Righteous Kill

I think, if nothing else, I'll probably remember the year in movies that was 2008 for its disappointments rather than its triumphs. The Coen Brothers' Burn After Reading was especially disappointing, seeing as they made my favorite movie from 2007, No Country For Old Men. And the less said about Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and George Lucas' love for CGI monkeys, the better.

Albums I Bought
The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely
Elvis Costello - Momofuku
Wolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer
Beck - Modern Guilt
Matthew Good - Live at Massey Hall

2008 wasn't a great year for music either. I try and keep up with new bands and new music from artists I already follow, but it just seemed that there wasn't much happening in music this past year.

Good Books I Read
"The Book of Other People" a short story collection edited by Zadie Smith
"The Watchmen" by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
"Diary" by Chuck Palahniuk
"Life, the Universe and Everything" by Douglas Adams
"Ham on Rye" by Charles Bukowski
"Mastering the Universe: He-Man and the Rise and Fall of a Billion-Dollar Idea" by Roger Sweet and David Wecker

I would recommend any and all of the books listed above. I especially enjoyed Palahniuk's Diary and Bukowski's Ham on Rye.

Ahh, I feel a little bit better now. I certainly hope 2009 has more to offer than 2008 did.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Ackermansion is Closed

Sad news kids, Forrest J. Ackerman, science fiction pioneer and grandfather of genre geekdom, passed away last week. Ackerman coined the term "Sci Fi" and was also the creator and editor of the Famous Monsters of Filmland (aka Famous Monsters) magazine. Ackerman's home (aka the Ackermansion) served as a museum for his vast collection of horror and science fiction memorabilia, allowing fans to see original movie props from the golden age of cinema through to the present.

I first became aware of Mr. Ackerman (who was fondly called Uncle Forry by his fans) sometime in the mid-nineties, during the comic book/trading card/collectible boom. The Ackermansion and its staggering collection of books and props were frequently featured in a number of documentaries on collecting and/or classic genre films. For me, the Ackermansion was one of the holy grails of movie geek must-see locations. Sadly, I'll never get the chance to get a guided tour from the man himself.

Ain't It Cool News has a few tribute pieces featured on their site. Some of which you can read here and here.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

That's one surly Sasquatch

Hey Kids! Did you miss me?

This blog has definitely proven to be a source of disappointments, but usually those disappointments were reserved for you, the reader. But now I've gone and disappointed myself. For the longest time, I took some pride in the fact that I had posted an entry at least once a month since I started this blog. Usually it was a blatant cop-out or a placeholder post, but dammit, it was better than nothing. So, it was especially disheartening for me to realize on Monday that I totally forgotten to pay literary lip service to this blog throughout the entire month of November.

I suppose it could be worse. It's not like I was trampled to death by frantic shoppers. I used to look forward to watching the news reports about Black Friday. Those short CNN clips that showed people scrambling and fighting one another in an attempt to be the first one through the doors at 5 am. Usually the insanity resulted in little more than some scrapes and bruises and surprised testimonials from the morons that waited all night in the cold so they could save $50 on a new TV. Like a black eye in a mosh pit, the violence and subhuman behavior was always seen as something simultaneously shocking and yet somehow inevitable. I say, next year, give those Wal-Mart greeters tasers.

Speaking of things shocking yet inevitable, winter is upon us. I can't speak for everyone but here in the Maritimes the onset of winter is often viewed as an unprovoked personal attack. Every year Maritimers seem to greet the snow and dropping temperatures as if they were experiencing these meteorological phenomena for the first time. Some find themselves asking questions like, "why is it so damn cold?" "What the hell is this white stuff falling from the sky?" and "Why don't I know how to drive anymore?" I'm starting to think that all the vitamin D we soak up from the summer sun erases all the painful winter memories from our brains.

And on the subject of dwindling grey matter, Roger Ebert recently wrote and interesting screed on his blog about the death of formal film criticism. Ebert cites the rise in celebrity culture as a major factor in the decline and slow death of print based film criticism. I'm inclined to agree with Ebert to some extent on this topic. A few years ago when I first started reading/using IMDB, their news feeds were mostly filled with stories about films and film productions. In the last year, I noticed that IMDB's news feeds have become almost exclusively concerned with celebrity culture. Who's dating whom, who made what faux pas and what they were wearing. As I said, I mostly have to agree with Ebert on this topic, but there is one facet of the decline of formal (ie. print based) film criticism that Ebert doesn't seem to take into consideration: the internet. The proliferation of blogs and movie based websites has made traditional print based film criticism almost unnecessary. The entire newspaper industry is likely feeling effects similar to those felt by the music and film industry. Traditional media outlets are losing ground every day to the internet. Why would someone want to pay for a copy of the Chicago Sun Times to read a Roger Ebert movie review, when that same review is available for free on his website? I can't blame Ebert for decrying the death of print based film criticism, if all the newspapers fired all the critics he'd be out of a job (more or less).

And finally on a marginally less dour note (no pun intended), I suggest that you all check out one of my new favorite websites Passive Aggressive Notes. The site features a frequently updated collection of passive aggressive notes left for others (roommates, co-workers, customers, neighbors, etc.) If you've ever found a note on your door with a "helpful" suggestion from someone without enough backbone to actually confront you, then you'll enjoy this site.

Monday, October 27, 2008

My Apologies to Mr. Welles

Hey Kids,

- The state of my pseudo-blog-project, My Year of Orson Welles, has obviously gone into the crapper. While my pseudo-obsession with the works of Mr. Welles remains intact, I can't seem to get the motivation to watch and dissect any of his movies. I turned something I love into work, which never works out for me. I'm not ruling out possible future entries in the project, but I hope none of you readers are holding your breath.

- With Halloween around the corner, I've felt the urge to buy and watch a plethora of horror movies. While watching the movies hasn't been difficult, I've found it hard to find horror movies in the usual retail locations. Even the dollar store took down all their Halloween stuff and starting putting up Christmas decorations last week.

- The recent Canadian election resulted in another Conservative government. Don't blame me, I voted for the Christian Heritage Party. (No, I didn't.)

- Ever since I took in my cat Whitey, I've been trying to get her to pull her own weight around the house. All she does is sleep all day. She hasn't looked for a job in months. Now, you might think I'm crazy for complaining about my unemployed cat, but if I were in Japan things would be different. Take for example, Tama the feline station master of a Japanese railway station.

What do your pets do all day? Maybe it's time these freeloaders earned their keep. In these tough economic times pet labor might just be the solution we're looking for.

- And finally, my new favorite YouTube clip, the literal version of A-Ha's "Take On Me"

Happy Halloween Boils and Ghouls!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Empty Theatre

I went to the movies with my father earlier today. We went to see the Pacino/De Niro flick, Righteous Kill. We were the only two people in the theatre. While the movie has been out for a little over two weeks now and it had not performed all too well at the box office, I did not expect to see it in an almost empty theatre. I've been to some sparsely attended screenings, but none quite as bad as this.

As for the movie itself, it was nothing special. While the performances were all fine, the script was sorely lacking. I'm not usually the type who tries to figure out the big reveal well in advance of the final act, but I couldn't help but put all the pieces together before the first film reel changed over. It wasn't the biggest cinematic disappointment of 2008 (sadly, I'd give that title to Burn After Reading) but it certainly was no highlight either.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

You Tell 'Em, Wolfman!

Ah, summer. I'd apologize for the lack of updates and whatnot, but I'm not all that sorry. It's too nice out for me to be writing about Orson Welles and Chuck Norris. Also, it's too nice out for you to be reading this. But in the off chance that it's raining or September or something, here's yet another lame placeholder post.

- My Year of Orson Welles should return in September. I tried to slap together a post for July, but it just wasn't happening. I don't think many of you are actually reading and/or enjoying this blog project, but I'm gonna keep doing it regardless.

- I did eventually see The Dark Knight and it was good. Not quite #1 on IMDB good, but it probably was the best movie I've seen in theatres so far this year.

- This week is Chester Race Week. Some of you might remember that this means seeing old friends, drinking too much, and hobnobbing with the rich and illiterate. I'm anticipating a hangover that should last me until sometime next week.

- I went to the annual Sappy Records music festival in Sackville, NB again this year. It was a good time, despite the poor weather and proliferation of hipsters.

- Probably the most important update though, is that I became an uncle for the first time last month. My sister in Ottawa had her first child, a bouncing baby boy named William. I'm proud to be an uncle, but more so I'm proud that my sister and her husband didn't give their kid a stupid name.

And that's about it folks. See you soon, unless the sun is shining.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Boredom Bunny

It's after six and I'm still at work. On a normal day I'm supposed to get off at four. I am very bored. Here's a picture of a bunny.

Dammit Boredom Bunny, you know I can't go to the movies with all this overtime going on!