January 2007

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Have you ever had one of those moments when you’re watching TV but only really half paying attention? Well tonight during American Idol during a commercial break I was chatting with my roommate when an ad for Target came on. Normally I ignore or fast forward through the ads but this one caught my ear. Playing in the back ground was a phenomenal cover of “Hello, Goodbye” by The Beatles. The original version of the song is great but this cover version blew my mind. It’s really, really good and the singer has a great voice, and well anytime you can find a way to get a vibraphone into the mix it’s all good. I searched on iTunes for the song but came up empty. However the artist’s name is Sophia Shorai. I’ve never heard of her, but based on the cover of that song, I’d like to hear more. Anyhow here’s the commerical courtesy of YouTube:

Pan’s Labyrinth Poster

I have seen the much talked about movie Pan’s Labyrinth and I must say that it was not what I was expecting. It in fact was much, much better. I was aware that the movie was in Spanish, and I had been told that it was spectacular. Hell, it has a 96% rating on Rottintomatoes.com. The highest praise I can give this movie is that it exceeded all expectations to the point where all the hype I’ve heard was nothing compared to actually seeing this film. It is, quite simply, stunning.

I’m familiar with some of Guillermo Del Toro’s other works, namely Blade II and Hellboy. In both it is plain to see that he shows some real talent behind the camera. Blade II was no masterpiece, but it was visually interesting, and overall entertaining. Hellboy was the step up from that, where one can see that movie and know that the director cared for the film and enjoyed making it. Pan’s Labyrinth will come to be THE film associated with Guillermo Del Toro. It is up for several Oscars, including Best Foreign Language Film of the Year, and is the only fantasy movie to have that honor. He has taken his visually appealing style and combined it with a masterful screenplay (also written by Del Toro) and crafted one of the best movies I’ve seen.

The basic plot of the movie is that Ofelia and her mother leave their home to join her mother’s new husbad, a captain in the facist army during World War II. While there she stumbles across a labyrinth, where she meets Pan (descriptive title isn’t it?). Pan tells her she is the long lost daughter of the King of the Underworld (not hell or anything like that). To prove that she is worthy, she must perform three tasks. That’s the basic plot, and it seems pretty simple. There’s much more going on that I don’t want to spoil.

The actors do an amazing job of creating their characters. Even the Captain has more going on in his eyes that shows you he isn’t just a murderer. The standout performance easily goes to young Ivana Baquero, who plays Ofelia. She’s only 12 years old and does a much better job at conveying emotion and creating a believable character than most actors in Hollywood. This is a good thing considering she more or less carries the movie.

While the rest of the movie is terrific, the real highlights of the film are the look and the tone. There is very little happiness in this movie, and the lack of bright colors and dreary setting match perfectly. This also helps to contrast the fantasy set pieces peppered throughout, where things have a bit more color, but not Lord of the Rings bright. However, at times this movie can be as brutal as it is beautiful. There are scenes of intense violence that, while not at Sin City level of being over-the-top, are just as vicious. I may be desensitized to violence, but seeing a man’s cheek sliced open even makes ME cringe. It isn’t excessive though, and is actually used sparingly.

The movie is rated R for “graphic violence and some language.” Graphic violence it has, no question. The language I’ll have to take their word for it seeing as how my Spanish is limited to Hola, Adios, counting, and El Burro. I will also say there is a bit of disturbing imagery along with the violence, particularly in the Pale Man character (played by Doug Jones, who also plays Pan). For those who haven’t seen it, picture an emaciated, pale man with skin hanging off the bone. He has no nose, but two holes in the middle of his head for nostrils, and he has no eyes, nor sockets to keep them. Instead, he puts eyeballs into the palms of his hands and uses those to see. Pretty freaky.

I’m going to steal a well-known rating system for judging this movie and give it four stars (****). I’ll even go one better and say it has the highest recommendation I can give a film. It ranks right up there with the greats, in my opinion. It’s not for everyone, but if you want to see something orignal, emotional, and beautiful, do yourself a favor and see this movie.

Crazy Beatboxer/Looper

This guy’s crazy good at beatboxing and looping. Apparently his name is Reggie Watts, and he’s scary multi-talented. And yes, that does appear to be a Line6 DL4 Delay Modeler

Reggie Watts: Out Of Control on Vimeo

Apparently this is Mr. T Week at PCWEI. On Saturday we had him rapping to kids. Now we’ve got him pimping data virtualization controllers for Hitachi. Yep. You read that right. I know, I know. When you think Mr. T, you may think of The A-Team, or Rocky III, or his kick-ass cartoon. But Hitachi apparently sees him as The T in IT. This little video is very, very strange. But oddly funny.
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Jack Bauer FigureWell, a Jack Bauer figure at least. McFarlane Toys is releasing a line of 24 figures in August. Apparently Keifer was given a prototype of one of the figures, and he decided to take it out partying. The 24 Blog has the full story. Watch out Keifer, Jack’s not going to like this. YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO TRUST ME ON THIS.

Is there anything this guy can’t do?

And of course, “Foggy Mountain Breakdown”:

This video has been making the rounds for a while, but it’s interesting nonetheless. It explains how “The Amen Break” sample (from The Winston’s “Amen Brother”) has been a key piece of music from gansta rap (N.W.A.’s “Straight Outta Compton”) to virtually all jungle and drum & bass music.

It’s kind of long (18 minutes), but it’s very thorough, so true music geeks will get a kick out of it.

I’m not sure why celebrities think they can rap, but at least hilarity usually ensues. This is everyone’s favorite 80s badass Mr T letting kids know moms are cool.

A few observations:

  • Yikes T, are those cutoff jean shorts tight enough? We can almost see Little T.
  • Nice backup dancers. Are they the actual moms from the video?
  • “When you put down one mother, you put down mothers all over the world.” Um…what? Not following the logic there T. If I say “your mamma’s so fat when I get off her my ears pop”, I’m talking about YOUR mamma, and your mamma only.
  • Why do people tell kids to “be somebody”? Isn’t that really only half of it? Shouldn’t it be “be somebody good“? Because Charles Manson was somebody. And Josef Stalin was somebody. And Carrot Top is somebody. But that’s not who we want our kids to be, is it?

I pity the fool who takes T’s advice.

Here’s yet another trailer remix. This one turns the American version of The Office (the funniest show on television…) into a slasher flick. Nicely done!

I think everyone is pretty much familiar with the “Chuck Norris Facts” floating around the net (Chuck Norris sleeps with a nightlight. Not because Chuck Norris is afraid of the dark, but because the dark is afraid of Chuck Norris.). Well, Chuck is in trouble, because here comes Jack Bauer! Time for some Jack Bauer facts!

Top 5 personal favorites:

-Life doesn’t give Jack Bauer lemons. Life asks him which fruit he wants.

-The city of Los Angeles once named a street after Jack Bauer in gratitude for his saving the city several times. They had to rename it after people kept dying when they tried to cross the street. No one crosses Jack Bauer and lives.

-When asked what he got on his S.A.T’s, Jack Bauer promptly responded “Blood.”

-Some people see the glass as half full. Others see it as half empty. Jack Bauer see the glass as a deadly weapon.

and finally…

-It’s no use crying over spilt milk… Unless that was Jack Bauer’s milk. Oh you are so screwed.

Did you hear that? I think Chuck Norris just wet himself.

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