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Mike Reyes, aka Mr. Controversy, has considered himself a writer ever since he was a child. He wrote for various school publications from about 1995 until 2006, and currently runs both The Bookish Kind and Mr. Controversy, which is an offshoot of the regular column he wrote in High School. He's also authored several short stories such as "The Devil's Comedian", "The Devil v. George W. Bush", and most recently "Wait Until Tomorrow". He resides in New Jersey. Any inquiries for reprinting, writing services, or general contact, should be forwarded to: michaelreyes72@hotmail.com

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Vamp-O-Rama: 2/5 - "The Nymphos of Rocky Flats" by Mario Acevedo

Back again with part 2 of 5 in the Vamp-O-Rama series. As per usual, real vampires are the players and exciting, offbeat vampire stories are the game, and we're just one book closer to the awesomeness that awaits in Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. Allons-y!

One of the most interesting themes I like to keep in mind during this little marathon of mine is the similarities and differences of vampiric lore throughout each book I read. What used to be one, flat set of rules naturally has to be permutated and expanded for more modern times, as well as general creativity/freshness of plot. Some stories do really well with their inventive ways of keeping vampires current (The Strain did this quite well) and some fall flat with their attempts (Twilight...epic fail). The Nymphos of Rocky Flats falls into the "Win" category, continuing the streak of vampire books that don't suck, and don't sparkle.

The women of the Rocky Flats Plant in Colorado are horny. And we're not talking garden variety horny, we're talking "gotta have it every time, all the time, gun to your head to get it" horny. For some, this might seem quite weird; but for Felix Gomez it's his job. Seeing as he's a vampire/private detective, he's double covered on the weird front. Newly turned after a tour of duty in Iraq, Felix is still somewhat of a n00b to the vampire community, as well as being a private investigator. But he'll learn quick, because as any good detective will tell you, the best lessons are sometimes learned as they come at you.

Acevedo has a wicked sense of humor, as well as a taste for noirish and sexy escapades. If you were wondering what it'd be like to make out with a faerie, but aren't currently dating one, this is the closest you'll get to experiencing it first hand. While this entry is a little weak plotwise, it's forgiven seeing as it's the first entry in the series, as well as his first novel. First entries are all about the background, and while The Strain managed to overcome this obstacle, it's clearly accredited to the fact that Del Toro and Hogan were more experienced writers. The supporting cast of characters are just as interesting as the protagonist, as we're introduced to other vamps, a Dryad (a form of faerie), and even vampire hunters and aliens.

As for his take on the vampire mythology, most of the classic rules remain intact. Vampires hate silver, hate garlic, and love sex and blood. Felix, however, is another case of "vegetarian vampire", however, it's because of his tour in Iraq that Felix has a distaste for human blood. His guilt over certain events prevents him from enjoying what's ultimately better for him, and it tends to hold him back in terms of his vampiric powers. Lucky for him (and for us) he's still a dangerous man to deal with even in his weakened state. The book also introduces vampires to the world of the tantric by giving them powers to see not only a person's aura, but also be able to identify what type of lifeform they are by what color their aura burns. This makes for some very awesome descriptions of color, as well as a neat addition to the vampire's toolbox.

A fast paced read of intrigue, sex, and humor; I not only recommend The Nymphos of Rocky Flats, I can't wait to continue reading the series. Acevedo's unique brand of storytelling mixes conspiracy theories and creatures of myth into a good time between the (book)covers.

Another book staked, another takes its place. Vamp-O-Rama continues...

1. The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan
2. The Nymphos of Rocky Flats by Mario Acevedo
3. Vampire Zero by David Wellington
4. Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore
5. Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Monday GAAAH! (3/29/10)

The weekend, once more, has been too short. It's passed in a blink, and sure enough it was well worth the time. But now, it's time to punch in for another week of GAAAH!

- Vamp-O-Rama continues as I work my way into Book 3. Another book review will be coming your way today (or in the near future). As always, should anyone have suggestions for both books or reading marathons, feel free to notify. (I'm even thinking of a sequel...Vamp-O-Rama 2: Raising the Stakes, so more vampire books will be appreciated. I'm also thinking of a couple more interesting marathons coming in the future.)

- How to Train Your Dragon was the Number 1 hit this weekend (naturally), but the big surprise was that Alice in Wonderland held a second place finish after both losing IMAX and 3D screens, as well as competing with the Net buzz of Hot Tub Time Machine. Here's next weekend's Futile Box Office Predictions:

1. How to Train Your Dragon
(3D...IMAX...you know the drill.)

2. Clash of the Titans
(RELEASE THE KRAKEN!)

3. The Last Song
(Gopher Cunt McSnaggletooth...Nicholas Sparks...you know the drill.)


Lovable Loser of the Week: Clash of the Titans
(Because Warner Brothers rushed it into a shite 3D conversion job.)

- It's raining again. Didn't we already receive our quota for the Spring? Can't we go back to 60 and sunny?

- Fox cancelled 24 this weekend. Somewhere out there, Chuck Norris is preparing to hide in his closet. Because when Jack Bauer doesn't have a nation to protect...he hunts.

- Easter is this weekend. Time to dye some eggs, receive chocolate, and think about just how a man can resurrect himself mere days after being crucified. Without being a zombie, of course. Because the Bible never has stories like THAT.

- Doctor Who starts this weekend in the U.K. Excitement abounds, seeing as I consider that my Easter present from the Universe.

- Why does the sample music for Windows always sound cool? They always get the neat, obscure songs that you've never heard of and make them available to you for free. Good deal, Mr. Gates.

- Did I mention New Moon blew goat? Seriously, that shit just fucks with your head.

- Workplace drama sucks. I've had some incidents lately that have really gotten under my skin. Just when you think you know someone and they're friends with you, they start shit up and spiral things out of control as they are wont to do. May the receive some sort of karmic retribution, since it's assumed that they believe in that sort of thing.

- Law and Order UK hit DVD in the US recently. I'm going to have to check this out for myself and see how it is.

Here to play us into yet another new week is Mr. Scruff with his awesome (and Windows 7 sample music worthy) composition, Kalimba.



Friday, March 26, 2010

Happy Friday Video - 3/26/10

In 2004, while I was over in London, I saw a show called Play Without Words during its run at the National Theater. It was one of the most awesome stage experiences I'd ever witnessed, as the entire play was (naturally) without dialogue...only dance and Jazz. Here's your Happy Friday Video, the trailer to Play Without Words.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Musical Anatomy: Ke$ha – Tik Toc

I’d like to introduce a new feature to the blog today. For now we’ll call it “Musical Anatomy”, but if a funnier name comes up then it shall replace it. This week’s subject is Ke$ha’s annoying little slice of ear rape, “Tik Toc”.

Ke$ha’s debut single “Tik Toc” isn’t a rap song. No, this is much worse Animal altogether. (Get it?! Brand synergy, bitches!) This is a song so annoying it makes Lil’ Wayne’s voice almost sound melodic. (Just kidding! Modern science has emphatically proven that’s never going to happen.) It combines everything I hate about pop culture: extremely superficial women, horrific pop music, and P Diddy’s refusal to fade like a fallen Rap idol should.

A little background on Ke$ha, thanks to the Wikipedia, shows that some time after being featured on a season of The Simple Life, Ke$ha dropped out of high school and moved to California to live the dream. She’s sung background, co-written, and even appeared on other artists songs, the high point of which lead to her being discovered after featuring on Flo Rida’s increasingly annoying hit “Right Round”. (A future target for Musical Anatomy.) Collaborating and working with such figures as Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, and 3OH3!, it’s safe to say that she’s about as resilient as a case of “The Clap”, only this one’s meant to infect your ears.

So here’s how we’re going to do it. I’ll provide the lyrics and the video, along with my own color commentary on each. I’ll break the lyrics down by verses, and I’ll break the video commentary into time-coded references. Other than that, all you have to do is enjoy and be prepared to read a lot of text. Here goes nothing!

Wake up in the morning feeling like P Diddy
(Hey, what up girl?)
Grab my glasses, I'm out the door, I'm gonna hit this city
(Lets go)
Before I leave, brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack
'Cause when I leave for the night, I ain't coming back

Right out the gate we get an impromptu “celebrity” cameo! It’s P Diddy, ya’ll! Seriously, this guy hasn’t been relevant for about a decade now, and something tells me another decade will rid us of Ke$ha, Gods willing. Though reading it in lyric form, it seems as if Diddy is some sort of “force ghost” mentor in Ke$ha’s career. He is her Old Ben Kenobi! Also, brushing your teeth with a bottle of Jack…seriously, I know you’re from Tennessee (which, to further the Star Wars connection, could be likened to Mos Eisley I guess. I’ve never been, so I can’t judge), but you don’t HAVE to act like a dirty Southern alcoholic to sell records. However, I’m not so sure it’s acting on this girl’s part.

I'm talking pedicure on our toes, toes
Trying on all our clothes, clothes
Boys blowing up our phones, phones
Drop-topping, playing our favorite CDs
Pulling up to the parties
Trying to get a little bit tipsy


Now we get to the superficial part. Pedicures, clothes shopping, texting boys…yeah, all the stuff feminists talk about, isn’t it? That’s right, our friend K-Money is supposedly a feminist due to the fact that not only is she signed up for the Lilith Fair, but she has songs that paint men in a derogatory manner. (Again, this is Wikipedia we’re talking about, and they’ve labeled her single “Blah Blah Blah” as the derogatory song. I don’t know…a song about a girl trying to sleep with a guy, and having no strings attached, just might be a love anthem more than a derogatory insult for some men.) Yeah, way to raise the banner kiddo. I know other songs on the album sell the Feminist point, but c’mon you’re selling THIS single. That’s like promising better Chocolate in a Resse’s at a Peanut Butter convention. (Oh, and the distortion at the end of this verse can go to fucking hell. It’s not a design flourish, it merely betrays the quality of the recording. And the music for that matter.)

Chorus: Don't stop, make it pop
DJ, blow my speakers up
Tonight, I'mma fight
'Til we see the sunlight
Tick tock on the clock
But the party don't stop, no

The simple party anthem of the new decade. Behold and fear its mighty presence. This is the sole reason this song will be blasting at weddings, sweet 16s, proms, and romantic comedy trailers…it’s about getting your party on, having fun, and being a girl! Because every girl speaks like a retard. (I want to kick whoever started the whole “I’mma” craze. IT’S NOT A WORD! SPEAK PROPER ENGLISH!)

[repeat chorus, facepalm]

Ain't got a care in world, but got plenty of beer
Ain't got no money in my pocket, but I'm already here
And now, the dudes are lining up cause they hear we got swagger
But we kick em to the curb unless they look like Mick Jagger


We’re back to the drunk part again. And not only that, but now we’re apparently promoting that girls with daddy issues go and search for their own Mick Jagger look-alike. That’s right, girls! Embrace the wrinkly old British man with the tabloid past and the endless supply of money. It’s what all Feminists do.

I'm talking about everybody getting crunk, crunk
Boys tryin' to touch my junk, junk
Gonna smack him if he getting too drunk, drunk

Now, now, we go until they kick us out, out
Or the police shut us down, down
Police shut us down, down
Po-po shut us


Yes…let’s just distort things again. Also, what’s with the repetition? Do you have some sort of short term memory problem we don’t know about, coupled with the previously mentioned alcoholism and daddy issues? Let someone know Ke$ha. We’re here to help you and exploit your life story into an Academy Award nominated melodrama about the triumph of the human spirit. (Especially if you continue to act Black. That'll just trigger waves of White Guilt so big we'll have to put Maine on tsunami alert.)

[repeat chorus x2, down a fifth of Vodka and shatter bottle over head]

DJ, you build me up
You break me down
My heart, it pounds
Yeah, you got me

With my hands up
You got me now
You got that sound
Yeah, you got me

DJ, you build me up
You break me down
My heart, it pounds
Yeah, you got me

With my hands up
Put your hands up
Put your hands up

Now, the party don't start 'til I walk in


This is starting to sound like a robbery, which is funny because the only way Ke$ha would get me to love her and her music was if I had a scortching case of Stockholm Syndrome. If the party doesn’t start until she walks in, it probably wasn’t going to be that fun of a party anyway.

[repeat chorus x2, shank DJ with the remains of the Vodka bottle you shattered. Go to jail, regret nothing.]

With a song like that, how could it possibly get any worse? Well...have you seen the video? (Remember kids, the following comments are time coded according to the version of the video included here.)




00:03 – This video brought to you in Rohyphnol Vision!

00:08 – Oh just go back to sleep and save us all the fucking aggravation.

00:10 – So P.Diddy’s polished image is just a sham to cover up the fact that he gets blackout drunk and wakes up in a bathtub? I call bullshit on that.

00:13 – Whatever could be so interesting as to alert Ms. Ke$ha’s widening glance? Oh wait…it’s a more interesting video being shot on the next lot over.

00:20 – I see her brushing her teeth, but no bottle of Jack. The only bottle of Jack I saw was the empty one on the floor. So either she literally shattered the bottle and brushed her teeth with the glass shards (which would be painful and stupid) or she’s just a liar. Minus 2 Street Cred.

00:24 – You’re not coming back?! SWEET! While your at it, drop the Auto Tune machine off at T-Pain’s house. He needs it to record his next album, Swaggalicious. (Don’t ask.)

00:28 – Ke$ha won’t admit it, but she’s really reusing her audition tape from the time she tried out for the role of Bella Swan.

00:30 – This is the family Ke$ha killed to feed her liquor habit.

00:40 – Filmed in glorious Jack-O-Vision.

00:44 – “BITCH, YOU DON’T KNOW MY LIFE!”

00:45 – “I know what I’m masturbating to tonight! No more Harry Potter DVDs for me!”

00:47 – I don’t want to know where that fist has been, what it’s done, or who it’s friends with…just delouse it and get it out of my sight you mangy whore.

00:49 – Apparently Ke$ha bought this bike from private auction. It used to be Liberace’s, until even he looked at it and said, “Geez, that’s too gay for even me!”

00:55 – Where’s an errant cement mixer when you need one?

01:00 – Choose from the following: A.) That kid sure is giving a clinic on overacting; or B.) “I know what Jimmy’s masturbating to tonight!”

01:07 – Really? We’re gonna go back to the Ghetto Blaster trend? Really?

01:08 – This is what happens when you try to Americanize “The Red Balloon”.

01:11 – I give you Ke$ha’s living arrangements in a year’s time.

01:19 – I’d make a joke about Ke$ha blowing guys in the alley about now, but this dude looks like he’s stolen her thunder in that respect.

01:26 – Ke$ha’s dad picks her up. No, literally…he’s soliciting her hardcore.

01:30 - …and she accepts. Why am I not surprised?

01:44 – I’ve seen pornos with more convincing set ups.

01:48 – She’s lucky there isn’t a lightning storm at this point, because she’d make a prime conductor.

01:59 – And at this point it’s revealed that Ke$ha is just a Miley Cyrus clone gone wrong that’s had Jack Daniels spliced into its DNA. (That explains the whole dad-banging thing.)

02:18 – Did I mention she auditioned as Victoria also? (I’m sorry, my mind has been scared from the Twilight movies. That and having to pause, rewind, and replay this video more than any human should.)

02:19 – Ke$ha makes a non ironic physical reference to pole dancing. I make an ironic joke about how that’s prologue to her future career. Everyone leaves happy.

02:50 – Oh what fresh, glittering Hell is this?!

03:02 – If you’re wearing jeans like these, you may as well be naked.

03:22 – “Daddy gets ta’ do ‘er…Uncle gets ta’ watch.”

03:29 – Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be “teh skanklets”.

03:33 – Oh look, she’s missing a boot! There’s got to be some sort of meaning to that, doesn’t there?

03:35 – I contemplate watching the video again.

03:36 – I contemplate suicide.

03:37 – I realize I’m way to awesome for that and pet a grizzly bear.

Phew! Glad that's over. That's all for this week's Musical Anatomy. Please leave any comments, suggestions, or songs you want to see dissected in the comments field or on the Facebook wall.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Song and Dance, Track 7

As we all know everybody's been worried about the economy, which leads to less spending, which leads to...a worse economy. We're all falling on hard times, and no matter who you blame or who you praise, it's universally acknowledged that we could be doing better. Well, as you all know, I enjoy helping people out. As such, I'd like to give the nation's advertisers and CEO's this little ditty to sell the point of increased consumer spending. Please enjoy.

The Advertising Rag (Buy, Buy, Buy!)

We’ve hit a rough patch on our economic ranch.
And we need to rope the steer into the dough.
Though we’ve seen Madoff and Ponzi, out there’s a financial Fonzie.
‘For the Bear Sterns Bible tells us so!

To gallop into surplus, is something that behooves us.
Because everyone’s crying, “Give it back!”
Our stock market is steeping, the CEOs are creeping.
And everyone is weeping like Glenn Beck.

So we as investors of the highest degree,
Ask you the consumer with a plea of piety.
To do what you think is best in life.
Which would be, pre-cise-ly, the alleviation of our strife!

(Bum bum bum)

That green stuff in your pocket, looks oh so nice in ours.And we don’t mind at all that ya’ spend it in bars!All we ask is you look our way, maybe throw a couple dollars of pay.And tell all your friends that they can do the same.
(If we go out of busi-ness, then you’ll be to blame.)

(Bum bum bum)

Buy buy buy, all you can stand!
This su-pply outweighs all de-mand!
And we gua-ran-tee this opp-ortu-nity,
Won’t last long now so buy, buy, buy!

The cash that you are spending, we’re heart-ily recommending
That at least ten per-cent would happen to come our way.
Or fifteen if you’re modest, that’d simply bust our bodice
And we’d be over a barrel, down the old Ni-a-gray!
(Old Ni-a-gray!)

(Bum bum bum)
Buy buy buy, all we’ve got to give!
This is the stuff you need to truly live!
And we gua-ran-tee, you’ll be so damn ha-ppy.
Get your grins out babe, and buy, buy, buy!

Do you need a new recliner?
Is your father a coal miner?
Well then nothing could be finer than good ol’ massage!

(Bum bum bum)

Or maybe it’s the kids!
Bored out of their own eyelids!
Well get a load of this, it’s a ro-bo-tic pup!

(Bum bum bum)

And Grandma never has to worry,
When she’s up and in a hurry!
As long as she can scurry in a big ol’ Jaguar.

(Big ol’ Jag-u-aar!)
(Bum bum bum)

Buy buy buy, all the live long day!
It’s the A-me-ri-can Way!
And we gua-ran-tee, that this economy.
Will soar so high, so buy, buy, buy!
(Look at it go!)
Straight to the sky, so buy, buy, buy
(With us in tow!)
So empty your wallets and buy, buy, buy!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Vamp-O-Rama: 1/5 - "The Strain" by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

In celebration of the publication of Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (being distributed by my good friends at Hachette Book Group), I've taken it upon myself to sample some modern vampire lore. Real vampires mind you, not the fake sparkling variety. With that in mind, please enjoy the first of five (so far) book review entries in the reading marathon cleverly (or not) named "Vamp-O-Rama".

I need a copy of The Fall now. It's not an exaggeration, it's not some cute attempt at becoming the heir to Pete Hammond's ass kissing throne, I literally want to read The Fall right now. Simply because the ending of The Strain leaves the story in a place that begs to be continued, and not with just a cheap cliffhanger but with an uneasy feeling of a storm brewing in the distance.

The book opens with an Old World fairy tale being told to little Abraham Setrakian, the boy who will grow up to be a bad assed intellectual/Vampire Slayer. The story, naturally, is about the origin of vampirism in Europe and how a noble family fell member by member into the dark curse that will soon plague New York, and eventually (if the book holds to its promise on the dust jacket, as well as the title of the next installment) the fall of Mankind. Throughout the book we get interludes into the life and development of Setrakian, which is an interesting B-story; however it is not the A-story.

That honor goes to the aftermath of a Boeing 777 landing at JFK airport, but somehow shutting completely down after landing. The aircraft goes dark, all the shades are drawn, there's no sign of life, and a mysterious casket is found with some rather grim carvings displayed. This puts the CDC's elite team of specialists (code named Canary) on alert. Their leader: Dr. Ephraim "Eph" Goodweather. Their job: to suppress a viral outbreak before it leaves the airport. Their success: obviously a failure, if you want a trilogy. What starts as an unexplained event that killed all but four souls aboard, turns into the beginnings of a viral vampiric plague that threatens to destroy Mankind.

The Strain is a collaboration between acclaimed film director Guillermo Del Toro and crime writer Chuck Hogan that not only uses real vampires but upgrades them using some specifications Mr. Del Toro had used in Blade II. (The Reaper Strain used in the film is extremely similar to the description of the vampires in this book.) These are not vampires you'd want your daughter to go running in the woods with, these are nasty, filthy, dangerous vampires that burn in the Sun and can sense your heart beating and your blood coursing through your veins. What's more, by the end of this book a Vampire war seems imminent and not the "show up out of nowhere and leave just as quickly" type. More like the "hard scrabble, three factions against each other, anyone could die" type. Indeed, a good portion of this book deals with vampire violence and feeding; so I wouldn't recommend this for the Sparkletards. (Unless you want to jolt them back to reality with a heavy dose of blood and scares.)

This book is a slow burn, as all good "Part I" stories should be. Thankfully, this book avoids the "Part I" curse of being too heavy on the backstory and not heavy enough on the action. It sets up the universe, establishes the characters and puts them through the paces, only to set them in place for the next round by the end of Round 1. It doesn't feel forced, it doesn't seem short changed, it actually hits a happy medium of storytelling many aspire to, but few actually execute. It definitely helps that Del Toro's disciplines as a supernatural storyteller are blended with Hogan's skill set as a mystery writer in such a way that neither end gets robbed of its fair share of plot.

Where this book excels though is the disturbing nature of the events and creatures that inhabit the text. Though it is only the first part of the series, it moves with enough action and at a fast enough clip to remain just as intriguing as any second installment of a trilogy would. Which brings us back to the original point of order...I really want to read a copy of The Fall right about now. I've contacted the publisher, and hopefully they'll get back to me with a yes or a no; but either way I really want to read the next instalment simply because the first was such an addicting read. The Strain is one of those rare books that I have no problem raving about and recommending an automatic buy, simply because it's both original and extremely enjoyable to read.

(Also, if you get the chance, go rent Blade II. It's the best entry in the series, and you'll have a good frame of reference for what theses vampires look like. Either that, or go to the book's official website for some interactive bits.)





The Vamp-O-Rama Line Up continues...

1. The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan
2. The Nymphos of Rocky Flats by Mario Acevedo
3. Vampire Zero by David Wellington
4. Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore
5. Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

The Monday GAAAH! (3/22/10)

It's almost April, which means it's almost...well, that means it's almost April.

- My friends and I barely survived New Moon thanks to the Rifftrax commentary. It was such a bad movie, that even the Riffers were having a hard time making fun of it, and that's saying something. At least Twilight was bad enough that it was cheesy and fun to mock. This though, this was fucking painful. I might just have to pick up the books again and finish this damned journey. I mean the book can't be as bad as the film, can it? (Sidebar: Eclipse looks like it's going to be a bigger heap of fail, and Bella Swan seems to be the biggest literary cunt since Scarlett O'Hara.)

- Dear Facebook and Blackberry, when someone's deleted from your phone/friends list; it'd probably be a good idea to delete their birthday from the phone as well. Chances are, they've been deleted from your life for a reason.

- Unsurprising: Alice In Wonderland won the weekend box office.
Surprising: Diary of a Wimpy Kid managed to pull a Second Place victory.
Deserved: The Bounty Hunter crashed into Third Place, showing that Jennifer Aniston should sail out with Jennifer Lopez on the S.S. "Retire Now While You Have A Shred of Decency". Here's this weekend's Futile Box Office Predictions

1. How to Train Your Dragon (Kids film + 3D + IMAX = Number one.)

2. Hot Tub Time Machine
(Marketing buzz on this film is unbelievable, plus it seems like the perfect "Friends Night Out/Revenge for seeing The Bounty Hunter" picture.)

3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid
(Kids films usually have at least one weekend of legs on Off Season weekends.)

Lovable Loser of the Week: America, for having to deal with a week of Miley Cyrus on Good Morning America, in order to promote the latest Nicholas Sparks film/cash cow, The Last Song.

- I'm still disappointed in you, Michael Sheen. Tron Legacy BETTER wash the taste of New Moon out of my mouth.

- I hate Aviator Sunglasses. I usually call them "Asshole Sunglasses" because it just seems like an asshole thing to wear sunglasses that are designed to indimidate and reflect a person to themself.

- South Park returned to form this week, and honestly the most funny bits about it were the Tiger Woods videogame segments. Other than that, it was pretty Meh.

- The Health Care Bill passed last night, which means the Russians will probably be invading any moment now; so stockpile your Glenn Beck books and your country music CDs as you prepare for the day we take our country back from the Socialists.

- Now that the Right Wing is whipped into their masturbatory ferver, I'd like to say that The Health Care Bill is the right thing for America to have passed. It's not perfect, but over time we can add/subtract to it so long as we have the votes and the hearts to do it. I know people on both sides of the argument, and if we stopped demonizing each other and worked together, we might be able to achieve some sort of grand compromise that works to everyone's advantage. Of course the odds of that happening are as great as my chances of winning the Lottery. On Pluto.

- I've finished The Strain. Expect a review shortly after the publication of this column. I recommend it highly to anyone who is into real vampires, folk legends gone evil, and Guillermo Del Toro.

- Be honest...who still has left over Corned Beef in the fridge?

And here to play us into the week is Clutch with their awesome zombie slaying song Electric Worry.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Happy Friday Video - 3/19/10

I probably know this short by heart, seeing as I used to watch Honey, I Shrunk the Kids about once a day during certain years of my childhood. Here's Roger Rabbit and Baby Herman with the first of three Roger Rabbit shorts, Tummy Trouble. (Please, no Health Care jokes.)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Monday/Tuesday GAAAH! - 3/15/10

Another weekend has come and gone, and another week is about to start. Still, it could be worse...the Sparkletards could be running things and we'd all be proper fucked. Let's get started...

-
Donna Simpson, a 43 year old woman from New Jersey, wants to become the world's fattest woman by working her way towards 1000 lbs. Meanwhile, the editors of Weird N.J. couldn't be happier, and Tilly has the Margate Elephant preparing a spot for her in the "Jersey Social Hall of Oddities". Honestly, this woman is a mother and it's ridiculous that she not only is aiming for 1000 lbs, but also her husband is supporting her in this goal and she runs a website that people pay to see her eat fast food on. The Internet scares me sometimes.

- Heidi Montag has been cast in her first film, which happens to be Adam Sandler's next feature film endeavour as well. Oh Adam, I thought you couldn't sell out any further after that horrific Kids Choice Awards ad you did with fellow sell out/former funnyman Kevin James. Not only am I praying for a Segway scooter double homicide, I'm also withdrawing any positive mention of "I Now Pronounce You, Chuck and Larry" and I'm advising people NOT to see Grown Ups this summer, for the sheer fact that their reproductive organs may melt at the sight of it. Oh, right...Heidi Montag is to film as explosions are to the Human Body...only masturbatory fodder to Michael Bay, but scary and harmful for the rest of us.

- I still hate Full Screen over Widescreen. You want to watch half the picture? Wear special glasses that block out a quarter of the screen on both sides.

- Also, I need to start collecting the Coen Brothers' filmography. I've already started with Hudsucker Proxy, and I think I can safely omit Intolerable Cruelty and The Ladykillers from the collection.

- Justin Bieber...go the fuck home. New Rule: In order to be a teen pop idol singing about love, you must have pubic hair and a learner's permit. Otherwise you're not fooling anyone, and you come off as looking stupid. (And seriously how the fuck did he get Ludacris to join up with this nonsense?!)

- Alice in Wonderland stayed on top of the box-office, proving that Hot Topic is a force to be wreckoned with when it comes to stealing money from teenage girl's purses. She's Out of my League opened in third place, proving that formulamatic romantic comedies are not going away anytime soon. Green Zone opened in second place, proving that awesome still has a market; provided you have a Disney picture as a babysitter. Here's this weekend's Futile Box Office Predictions:

1. Alice in Wonderland
(Because it only has one weekend of 3D/IMAX screens left before How to Train Your Dragon premieres.)

2. Repo Men
(Because how can you pass up Liev Schrieber delivering lines like, "Give me your fucking heart!".)

3. Green Zone
(Because people might throw some word of mouth around and get more people to see this film.)

Lovable Loser of the Week: Repo Men, because of the Repo: The Genetic Opera comparisons it will draw, for better or worse.

- I reserve this line for usage in a future story: "I'd tell you to go to Hell, but I never want to see your face again so it'd be rather counterproductive."

- I want The Yappy One from Idol to be eliminated if she hasn't already. You know, the one that whined to get on the show after she'd auditioned the last year and didn't cut it? Yeah, she needs to go home.

Not much doing this week, but still it could be a lot worse...we could get more snow. Here to play us into the week is the trailer to Kick Ass.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Happy Friday Video - 3/12/10

I love good television, and I love good movies. When the two meld together, I am in absolute awe. Band of Brothers was one such time where I was impressed at what a cable network could do with a proper budget, a good cast, and creative forces like Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks behind the wheel. If you enjoyed Band of Brothers as much as I did, then this is the trailer you've been waiting for. The Pacific starts Sunday night on HBO.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Book Review: "Shutter Island" by Dennis Lehane

I've added a new feature to the reviews. Instead of pesky links that send you to the book's official purchase site every time the title's pops up, I figured I'd instead format the cover art as a hyperlink. Simply put: if you want to buy a copy of the book, click the cover art. Simple, no? Also, stay tuned at the end for an announcement.

Shutter Island, you bastard you. You sneaky, thieving, unassuming bastard. Indeed, it's been a slightly long and winding road with this book, dating back to early 2009; but here we are in 2010 and I've finally conquered the bastard. The story goes something like this: after it was announced as the next Scorsese/DiCaprio project, my friend Kyle bought a copy of Shutter Island after seeing the trailer last summer. He read it, he enjoyed it, and he teased that the mystery of "Who is Patient 67?" was one that was so twisted not even he picked up on it. With the PR push for this movie in swing not too long after that recommendation, I bought myself a copy before the film's original release date of October 2009, with the intent of having it be something my girlfriend and I would read and discuss. Being the nice guy that I was (and being in the middle of another book at the time) I let my girlfriend take the first crack at unraveling the mysteries of the titular Massachusetts mental hospital. Sure enough, once she'd finished the book she too had been seized by "The Twist!". I was told I had to read this book at once.

Which brings us to about right here. As everyone knows, the film's initial release was postponed to the new release date of February 2010 (Up in the Air's Oscar push and economic worries were both cited as reasons why, though nothing was ever made concrete), and along with it I postponed my eventual reading of the source material. Until my girlfriend and I realized the movie was coming out, at which time I decided if I was going to see the film I might as well read the book. But there was that one thing lurking in my mind, the one thing that always lurks in there when I encounter a work such as this...I wanted to guess the twist. Even before I'd read it, I kept guessing at it.

"Teddy's patient 67?"
"Nope"

"It's all taking place in Rachel Solando's head?"
"You're never going to guess it."

"The island doesn't exist, and he burned his wife alive?"
"Keep reading."

Indeed, I was hounded by my sweet caring other half to "keep reading" the book in order to get to the twist, every single guess being rebuffed as a delusion that I knew what the author was doing. Upon finishing Shutter Island, I learned that some of my guesses were indeed close, others were spot on but missing details, and others were not even in the same country as the truth.

This might be redundant if you've seen the movie, read the book, or lived in a normal amount of social/media exposure; but seeing as it's the critic's job to set the scene, here's the basic plot. (If you're already up to speed, skip to the next paragraph.) Federal Marshalls Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule are sent to investigate the facility on Shutter Island, a mental institute where only the most dangerous and criminally insane call home. Once on the island, we're informed that a Ms. Rachel Solando, a woman who's locked up for flipping out and drowning her kids, has escaped on the island. Our marshalls are there to assist Dr. Cawley and his band of merry psychologists in securing the patient and go back on their merry way home. This being a thriller and all, the intents of all parties involved aren't exactly expressed in an explicit, concrete manner; and there's tons of facts lying in wait to be discovered by prying eyes. Also, things get weird. Really weird. We're talking David Lynch at tea with David Cronenberg weird.

If you needed to retitle this book for foreign markets (you know, the ones without shutters or islands) you could get away with calling it, "Island of the Red Herring Macguffins", due to the fact that some details or plotlines either veer off the course you've predicted or didn't matter in the first place. This is the literary equivalent of a mirrored fun house, and you're tasked with hunting down the truth as if it were Christopher Lee. Know this though: the less you know going in, the better. In fact forget there's even a twist, or if you remember that fact forget the supplementary fact that it's an "unguessable" one. As I kept guessing "The Twist!", I found that it was a slight struggle to get to the moment of revelation. One could say that this is a criticism of Lehane's work with the novel, but that's only until you get to "The Twist!".

When you get to your destination, it knocks you for a loop. You realize you haven't been lied to, you've just been cleverly misled. While other, lesser authors would have written an ending that invalidates previously mentioned (and possibly continuity flawing) plot points, Lehane writes an ending that doesn't change a thing. Everything that happened indeed happened. Everything that was seen was indeed seen. The only difference is the filter of perception that was used while looking at it all the first time is removed, showing how things really happened. It all makes sense, and the more you think back to your first reading (because you know you're going to read/experience the story again) the more things make sense. I finished the book on a lunch hour, and by time I was driving home a couple days later the story was starting to slip into place.

I've only read one other Dennis Lehane novel (Mystic River), so I don't know his voice quite yet. What I can say about his writing in Shutter Island though is that he's crafted an intricate mash up of a psychological thriller, a personal tragedy, and a film noir. Multiple readings are not only required, they're built right into the structure of the book. This is a rare breed, and it only does the book a greater justice that it's not easily duplicated or terribly derivative.

If you need an idea on what it feels like to read Shutter Island (or you didn't get the previous Bond reference), this video explains it plainly. Pretend "The Reader" is Roger Moore, "The Plot" is Christopher Lee, and Dennis Lehane is Herve Villechaize.



And now, the announcement. Back in my Cannonball Read days, we had a tradition of every now and then engaging in competitions to see who could read five books in a common area of interest the fastest. In the interest of shaking things up around here (as well as celebrating Hachette Book Company's release of Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter), I've decided to embark on my own five book mini-marathon; aptly titled Vamp-O-Rama.

Starting with the current book I'm reading, the next five picks will be Vampire stories; culminating in my review of Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. This was my own idea, as it is stamped with my own brand of madness. (That and I'm an attention whore who clamours for book publishers to notice anyway. So here it is, the Vamp-O-Rama Line Up!

1. The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan
2. The Nymphos of Rocky Flats by Mario Acevedo
3. Vampire Zero by David Wellington
4. Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore
5. Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Monday GAAH! - 3/8/10

Once more I was out for a Friday, and once more I didn't leave you all with a Happy Friday Video. I should start preselecting them on Wednesday and presetting them for release on Friday mornings. Anyhow, here's a cool look at how an IMAX 3D projector works; seeing as the reason I was out on Friday was because I had an adventure to New York City to see Alice in Wonderland at a preview showing. If you ever get a chance, go to the Lincoln Square IMAX theater...it's huge!



Now, with The Oscars having taken place, and some of the winners not exactly being my cup of tea, it's guaranteed that there will be bitching. Not right now though, for now we're just gonna stick to the generalities. (Ok, maybe there will be a Oscar joke or two. It's hard to avoid.)

- Dear Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, You've abandoned your child! You've abandoned your boooyyyyy!

- Alice in Wonderland made an amazing $210.3 million worldwide, with no small help to its simultaneous 2D, RealD 3D, and IMAX 3D releases. It was a pretty alright movie, but I can't help but think the Tron Legacy trailer helped boost the numbers a little too. (It's pretty sweet.) Here's this weekend's Futile Box Office Predictions

1. Alice in Wonderland
(The new bandwagon has arrived. Get on.)

2. Green Zone
(It can't hurt that The Hurt Locker won best picture this past year. Apparently moviegoers want to stay in Iraq. This looks like Hurt Locker meets Bourne, so I'll withhold judgement until seeing it.)

3. Shutter Island
(Did you think it would die that easily?)

Lovable Loser of the Week: Green Zone, because its success will live or die depending on how everyone compares it to The Hurt Locker.

- Even though it looks like an action movie rip off of Repo: The Genetic Opera, I still want to see Repo Men. It looks pretty kick assed.

- The Dude Abides.

- The Coen Brothers and George Clooney continue to show up at the Oscars, and I continue to become comfortable with them. It almost feels like they're friends. (Especially Clooney, since he was wearing my socks in Up in the Air.)

- Spring is coming, and we're getting quite the sampler pack in the mail today. Enjoy the beautiful weather while it lasts...we're rumored to have a huge snowstorm at the end of the month.

- Cablevision needs to stop fucking around with its customers. I'm not one of them, but I know a couple and it's not fair to have TWO separate incidents of "we don't want to pay you more, so we're going to pull you off the air".

- That's-a-Bingo!

- For the third year in a row I've spent the Best Picture Showcase in New Brunswick. Even though it's also showing in the much closer Freehold location, I'd never trade it for New Brunswick in a million years. The crowd is familiar, the stadium seating is awesome, and the Famous Dave's is tasty as always. The only thing that will change is the number of people going, and that seems to be trending upward. Thank you, AMC Theaters. While I might gripe about you sometimes, it's nice to know you have such a movie geek friendly event as a staple.

- Road House.

- Empire State of Mind should be pulled from heavy rotation, because scientific studies have shown that listening to it makes me stabby.

- Expect a book review of Shutter Island soon. I'll try not to spoil anything too much with my analysis.

- I love a good zinger. It's an artform that needs more of a showcase in our modern discourse. Much like motion pictures that can think. ZING!

- How IS a Raven like a Writing Desk? Did anyone actually answer that one?

And now, to play us into the week, is none other than Academy Award Winner Jeff Bridges...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Comic Break! - "Indiana Jones and the Spear of Destiny" by Elaine Lee, Will Simpson, and Dan Spiegle

Every now and then, I need a break from the typical literary format. And what better way to reward my eyes after a haul of reading massive amounts of text, than to read moderat amounts of text with full color pictures! Behold, a Comic Break!

Out of all the Indiana Jones stories, movies, and games that have come out of the entire series' canon, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade has been and always will be my most favorite of them all. My father exposed me to the films when I was a kid, so naturally when Indiana Jones's father came into the picture I took to the element of father and son adventuring together. That, and Sean Connery was the perfect choice to play Professor Henry Jones Sr., a role that required a balance of wit and action that he was all too used to after all of the years he'd played the role of James Bond. Naturally, when I heard that Sean Connery wasn't coming back for what would eventually become Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I felt gypped. The awesome dynamic that was just introduced in Last Crusade was out the window for Crystal Skull. (By the way, bitch move killing Indy's dad off, George. Marcus Brody is sadly no longer with us, but Henry Jones Sr. could have rode off into the sunset or something.)

While Indiana Jones and the Spear of Destiny wasn't exactly the cure-all for said feeling of being gypped, it sure did help ease the sting. In this adventure, Indy and his Dad are after the pieces to the Spear of Destiny - the spear that was used to stab Jesus Christ on the cross. As all artifacts that came into his posession during his final hours, it has mystical powers...powers that the Nazis would just love to get their hands on. Throw in the usual comedic, action packed adventures and lengthy exposition on history; and you've got an Indy serial!

What's probably the best part about an Indiana Jones comic book is that when you read it, you feel like it could have been a serial from the 1930's that inspired George Lucas to write the original trilogy. This "full circle" concept only bolsters the final product and Indiana Jones's place in serial history, and it makes for some pretty cool cliffhangers at the end of the first three books. It's an easy read that can be knocked off in one sitting, and it's an extremely enjoyable effort.

Make no mistake: this is a fun book and it's high on action. Unfortunately the action is so high, the story tends to be rather thin on detail. This felt like it could have been a deleted subplot or a level in one of the video games as opposed to a stand alone story. The Nazis are typical, power hungry Nazis with the typical Nazi motivation to be evil, powerful Nazis. It's all rather one dimensional, and compared to the films I'd take the films any day. This leaves you with a read too quick for a wait in the dentist's office, and leaves us wishing that there were at least four more issues after it. Indiana Jones and the Spear of Destiny is fun enough of a read if you separate it from the films. Otherwise, it just seems like someone keeps skipping over the story parts to the action parts; which leaves out two important aspects to what makes the Indiana Jones saga fun: character development and comedy.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Monday GAAAH! - 3/1/10

First things first...I owe you all a Happy Friday Video for last week. The snow had forced my hand and I was home both Thursday and Friday, so that lead to more sleep on Friday and no post. My fault, but I am fully prepared to make up for it. Here's The Mighty Boosh live on Jonathan Ross with their song "Eels".




Now, the week can begin.

-
Some icicles fell on the Sony Building in New York, causing some glass overhead to shatter and minorly injure some of the guests in the building at the time. When the incident happened, some members of the Jersey Shore cast were inside of the building; which goes to show you that even God doesn't want Season 2 to push forward.

- When did The Learning Channel become The Leering Channel? The only thing anyone could possibly learn is how you could get a television show for doing shit! As long as you've popped out multiple babies or can make a weird fucking cake, you're in! (Or if you're a hot tattoo artist with actual talent. I'd admit, I get sucked into L.A. Ink every now and then. That show gets a pass from me.)

- Not to sound racist, but is it just me or have Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry taken out a patent on African American being a new brand label? It seemed very self important for them to get their names onto the film Precious, which I believe was good enough on its own merit that it didn't need a push from either of their egos. Albeit, I'll never watch the film again (it was that rough of a ride) and Lee Daniels needs some more discipline as a director, but the finished product didn't need these two famewhores to propel it. All it really needed was its own steam.

- From what I've heard of William Shatner's Olympics speech, it just makes me realize that I want to meet this man and have a drink with him. I'm starting to think Denny Crane isn't just a TV character after all.

- Shutter Island was number 1 this weekend, followed by a strong performance from Cop Out and The Crazies in second and third places respectively. Hoorah for good looking movies making the box office tops! This weekend's futile box office predictions:

1. Alice in Wonderland
(IMAX 3D for the win.)

2. Shutter Island
(I don't see this one going away anytime soon.)

3. The Crazies
(Word of mouth favorites always take another weekend of success, and this one has some surprising critical legs.)

Lovable Loser of the Week: Cop Out (for real this time), because the competition is too hard for it to do exceedingly well.

- Accept the mystery.

- Spring...boy, do I miss Spring? Wonder when that's coming back to town?

- The Olympics are finally over...we can go back to silently resenting Canada now, instead of outwardly resenting them through shows of sport.

- Headline from MSN: "Obama, Clinton call [Tiger] Woods". I could see the President calling him to offer some sage advice and guidance, but I assume Clinton is trying to score pointers. Now THERE'S a call I'd love to hear once the Freedom of Information Act allows.

- Went to The Beach for the first time in a while this evening. God did it feel great. Just think, only a couple months left until we all get to play Jersey Shore: The Home Game!

- Jay Leno can still burn in Hell. Here's hoping The Tonight Show crashes and burns. (We miss you Conan.)

- George Clooney should be my stunt double in life.

- I'm starting to think The Hurt Locker just might win Best Picture after all.

- I'm starting to get into this Twitter thing. Look me up: MrControversy83. Better yet, follow me! I could use an army of Twitterati.

- Hey, who turned out the lights?

And now, we'll start the week with a behind the scenes video from Series 1 of Doctor Who. The funny part is, it's narrated by David Tennant, aka the Tenth Doctor, himself. Oh irony, delicious irony.