Thursday, April 29, 2010

If I only had 30 seconds to prove Nicolas Cage is the best actor of his generation...

...I would give you this clip.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Two Great Videos & The Happiest Rodent Ever

Because Tuesdays are totally the new Mondays, most of you could probably use a pick-me-up. So I'll stop being a ranting, raving doucheplatoon for one day and spread some happy.

1. Sassy Gay Friend Does Othello

Two very different yet very awesome videos today. First up we've got Sassy Gay Friend. This guy has torn apart Romeo & Juliet and Hamlet already and both are awesome, but this Othello performance is on another level.

2. Video proof that Bango is the NBA's best mascot

This is just the best. While Bango is backflipping off a 20-foot ladder, dunking, and not dying, an hour to the south Benny the Bull is taking kids' shoes and sitting his fat ass on people. Benny and Bango: practically twins!!

3. The Happiest Rodent Ever

Since the two people who read this blog are my mom and that one guy from high school, chances are you've already seen this photo, as I've spammed half of my email contacts with it. But in case you haven't, here you go. This little guy may have a bit of a mouth on him, but you cannot possibly fault his passion.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Happy Boobquake Day! Also, Two Reasons I'm Quitting Twitter

Today is National (Global?) Boobquake Day, inspired by the knowledge of a Middle Eastern cleric. He has the inside scoop on what causes earthquakes. It's not seismic waves in the Earth's crust, as "science" would lead you to believe. The Iranian media quoted Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi as saying:

"Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes."

I've never seen a quote that went from wise to batshit insane so quickly. Exposed women lead young men astray? Sure, I can see that. They corrupt their chastity and spread adultery? Well, okay, maybe a little sexist, but I catch your drift. This behavior increases earthquakes?

Wait. What?

So to determine once and for all if this theory holds water, a blogger in West Lafayette (pictured above, I think) has declared today to be Boobquake day. Facebook group here.

Reason #1 I'm Quitting Twitter: I'll never top this tweet.

Reason #2 I'm Quitting Twitter: TOO MANY MEANIES

If you have a Twitter account, you likely have occasional "Wait, why am I following this person?" moments. Here's one of those cases for me. Instead of trying to sum up the utter pointlessness of this guy's updates, here's a screen cap of what he's posted simply in the last day.

twitter fail

So I sent this guy the following:

His reply:

So I'll be canceling my Twitter account just as soon as my tears clear up enough to let me see my monitor.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

An NFL Rant: This Has Ben On My Mind for a While

Well, it turns out Ben Roethlisberger is a dick-waving redneck pervert (his dong might be gray, by the way. Proof). Now that the Steelers' 100 million dollar QB is officially a menace to coeds everywhere, I'd say it's about time to enact a moratorium on the media calling him "Ben."

This paternal garbage was infuriating even before it was discovered Roethlisberger swings his lasso around like a two year old who just discovered it's there. But now that this information has come to light, people are still calling him Ben. For real, you idiots. This needs to stop.

You don't know him. He's not your kid. It's not hard to type Roethlisberger. If you don't know how to spell it, Google it. And if your only job is to SAY his name, either on TV, radio or podcasts, you have even less of an excuse. It's three extra syllables. Do you know how unprofessional you sound? Let me lay it out for you.

When you say: "Roethlisberger took his penis out and screamed YUMMY YUMMY DING DONG TIMES!" you sound like you're doing your job.

When you say: "Ben took his penis out and screamed YUMMY YUMMY DING DONG TIMES!" you sound like you're telling a story of your kid's most recent bathtub experience.

Stop being a dumbass. Figure it out.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Radiohead Fans Are The Worst

Radiohead and I are like that one roommate you never quite gelled with. Great dude, everyone loved him, but for some reason it just never clicked for you. Click here to see their video for Paranoid Android, one of my favorite songs off of my favorite album of theirs. I can acknowledge that this is good music. I think the reason I'm not very into Radiohead is because I'm afraid of falling into one of the following groups.

The "What's the Deeper Meaning?" Radiohead fan


The "Radiohead is kind of underground despite being mainstream and politicians hate that" Radiohead fan

The "Radiohead Is Better Than Your Favorite Music" Radiohead fan

Every one of these groups has its share of idiots, but the last group is the worst of the worst. My band is not better than your band. There's no way to prove it. Music is by far the most difficult medium to argue. When I'm listening to Paranoid Android, I think the hook is catchy and the lyrics are impossible to comprehend. But maybe the lyrics resonate with you because you can think outside the box, or you think the government is spying on you, or you're tripping on acid. We all hear music differently. This is why Pitchfork is full of shit, by the way.

After rambling on about how pointless it is to argue music, it's time for me to contradict myself: Lady GaGa is not actually that awful. In fact, she's kind of badass. She's interesting, her songs are catchy, and above all, fat kids love to sing them.

To all Radiohead fans who fall into any of the above groups: Get Did. Seriously. I might love this music if I wasn't so scared of my musical tastes shrinking to one band and one band only. You're all idiots.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Rant: Jam Bands Suck

Time for another edition of Arguing About Musical Opinions: The Most Pointless Discussion Humans Can Possibly Have. Are you as excited as I am? Let's get started.

As you can see to the left, Dan Bardin is a moron.

On a day much like today roughly two years ago, I realized jam bands are brutal. I forget what song I was listening to, so let's just say it was one of the hundreds of versions of "Watchtower" DMB has played over the years.

I'm knocking DMB early on in this rant, so let me clarify by restating that all jam bands suck. Who's your favorite jam band ever? I'll go out on a limb and say it's either DMB, The Grateful Dead or Phish. My personal favorite jam band (and one of my favorite bands ever) would be Gov't Mule. And guess what: if any song by any of these groups hits my iPod and exceeds the 10 minute mark, it's getting skipped. Even Mule. I don't have that kind of time. I buy my books in a matter of seconds, I skip TV commercials and my movies are mailed to me. I've completely run out of patience when it comes to these interminable songs. Because here's the deal, and I'm gonna boldface this point for emphasis:

Jam Bands are consistently lauded for their improvisation skills, when in reality everyone playing is too stoned to realize a song should have ended 6 minutes ago.

This is why studio versions of songs are generally a more manageable 4 to 5 minutes. The band members are much less likely to be tripping balls in the studio, and even if they are, they'll have a producer in their ear telling them to wrap it up because nobody wants to listen to 5 extra minutes of "improv."

And therein lies a key component to digging the jam bands, particularly at live shows. You'd best be in some kind of altered state.

I've been to numerous DMB shows, and every time I hear a killer 20 minute version of "Too Much" and I'm ready to off myself, but before I do I look around, and EVERYONE IS ENJOYING THEMSELVES. For a while, I wondered what was wrong with me. Am I a hipster? Are my tastes not as diverse as I thought they were? Turns out all the people grooving to another endless DMB jam were simply higher than Brittany Murphy.

And to those of you telling me I forgot booze: I didn't forget booze. Being trashed at a concert is the worst. You're in the bathroom a majority of the time, and when you're actually hanging out listening to music, it's impossible to comprehend.

Back to Dan Bardin. He's a moron, yes. But I can't fault him. I know him better than most people on the planet, and I know that he learned guitar thanks to DMB songs way back in his early teens. That's some powerful nostalgia that's impossible to argue away. This is why he agreed with me that all jam bands suck...except for Dave. It's completely hypocritical and also completely understandable. Nostalgia has power. It's why I think Homeward Bound is a dynamite movie, when it fact it most likely bites the big one.

But for the rest of you idiots, you have no excuse. Once again, and hopefully the third time is the charm: JAM BANDS SUCK. In the time it took you to listen to Dark Star, you could have heard four Black Keys tunes. Increase your musical efficiency, grow up, and above all, stop thinking you have to get high to enjoy music. You don't. The music just has to be good.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Greatest Tampon Ad You'll Ever See

So there I was, hanging out and teaching myself a new song on the guitar. It was Thickfreakness by The Black Keys, if you must know. Yeah, I'm kind of legit. No big deal.

As I learned it I could actually feel my Badassery Meter increasing. I may have to get a tattoo soon. But this is beside the point.

The real reason I'm telling you this is as follows: I play the axe with headphones on so I don't disturb the dog and the neighbors. I was being called by The Jess, but I couldn't hear her because of my crunchy grooves. She finally got up and got my attention in the next room (she's totally super sick and stuff so this was difficult) and showed me a commercial she rewound on the DVR.

Gold. This ad will do for tampons what The Man Your Man Could Smell Like did for men's body wash. You can trust me on this. If there's one thing I know, it's tampons.


I've been sent the 2nd greatest tampon ad you'll ever see. Thanks to Amanda for the heads up.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Two Horrendous March Madness Commercials

If you've been following the tourney at all, you've seen these two ads. I couldn't find the State Farm commercials featuring The Man With Every Race or the Nissan ones that for some reason have a narrator with a speech impediment. But these two ads will do just fine.

Also, I've heard people are annoyed with the Exxon Mobil nerds and the Coke Zero guy. I don't have a problem with them, even after seeing their commercials over 30 times at least. However, I have a definite problem with the following ads:

They show this ad during EVERY. COMMERCIAL. BREAK. I am not kidding. I will no longer fly Southwest. I don't care if bags fly free, a message conveyed through varying degrees of obesity. Yes, I live 10 minutes from O'Hare and over an hour from Midway. What's your point?

"HAVE YOU EVER DRIVEN A CAR THAT HAS PURE SILVER DUST POLISHED INTO THE WOOD? OF COURSE YOU HAVEN'T." What a smug little shithead. The best thing about this ad is the surrounding landscape. Are they trying to tell me the Infiniti M is an off-road vehicle? Because it would not be a good idea to get dirt on the silver dust.

"I'm sure glad I chose Infiniti over Lexus, BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz! Sure, this thing may handle like garbage, but feel that breezy air conditioning!"

Professional Perspective:

For an expert's take on these two brutal ads, let's toss it to news reporter Gordon Boyd, who's live on the scene.

Well said, Gordon! I, too, hurled my poorly-assembled notes in disgust upon viewing these ads.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How I'm Passing the Time

The Jess is in Mexico on Spring Break with her grad school ladies. They're just like Sex and the City!!!

So what do I do in the meantime? I send emails to myself about new guns to try out in Call of Duty. My life is super awesome and slightly sad.

mw2 rpd

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Brackets. Brought to you by various Disney villains.

It's madness time, people! I want your brackets. Email them to me by writing ltrayser at gmail dot com. If you tell me you can't email them, you're lying. Take a screen capture of it and send it my way. If you don't know how to do that, Google it. It's pretty easy and you'll feel like a champ when you do it correctly.

Below are the brackets of entrants so far. If you hover over each bracket you'll be able to see who its author is. Also, clicking on the bracket shows you a picture of each author's cinematic sponsor. They may or may not all be Disney villains. Anyway, let's get it started.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Facebook Comment Ninja Strikes Again

So silent. So deadly. I'm like a two day old fart.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Lindsay Lohan is suing eTrade. After you find out why, you'll be even more confused

Two awesome videos:

Today in bullshit news:
Remember that eTrade "milkaholic" Super Bowl ad? Turns out the milk-crazy baby was named Lindsay, and so, eTrade is now being sued for $100 million by Lindsay Lohan. This is a real thing.

Lohan claims she has first name recognition on par with Madonna and Oprah. Remember The Parent Trap? Freaky Friday? Mean Girls? Decent flicks that showcased a budding star's potential. Now she's a complete train wreck. What a jackass.

And finally, here's your perplexing pop-up ad of the day:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Best Picture/Director

Note from Luke: This is Bighead's final Oscar Preview post. To read his past entries, check out the links below.

[Top 10 Snubs]
[Supporting Actress]
[Supporting Actor]

[Best Actress

[Best Actor]

I'm combining the Best Picture and Best Director categories because they happen to fall in the same order. The directors are going to be in parentheses following their respective movies.

10. The Blind Side

Sandra Bullock single handedly carried this movie to the top ten. This feel good summer blockbuster will get more viewers tuning in to the Academy Awards which is the main goal for expanding back to ten nominees. Is it one of the top ten movies of the year? Probably not. However, this is the perfect movie to round off the Best Picture category.

9. Precious (5. Lee Daniels)


8. A Serious Man

I'm pretty sure the Coen brothers can't miss. Especially with the new format of ten Best Picture nominees, they could make one movie every year and it'd be up for an Oscar. They write, produce and direct every time and they seem to never fail. And although this movie isn't even close to the caliber of say...No Country For Old Men, it's quite enjoyable.

Michael Stuhlbarg plays a Jewish professor in this dark comedy whose life basically gets dumped on over and over again. His wife hates him, his children don't respect him, and his brother (the only constant in his life) is socially awkward and won't leave his house. I know. Sounds hilarious, right?

It's held back by its unknown status and the fact that most people don't especially like dark comedies, but I highly recommend Netflixing it.

7. Up

People are really stressing the fact that this is only the second animated feature to be nominated for Best Picture and I guess that's an honor, but let me tell you why I have trouble putting Up in the "Best Animated Picture Ever" category.
  1. It's not even close to Beauty and the Beast
    As some of you may know, Beauty and the Beast was the only animated feature to be nominated for Best Picture and that was when there were only five nominees. It was nominated because it was ahead of its time and it's hard to a.) make a good musical, and b.) make a good animated feature. Beauty and the Beast did both.
  2. It's not even close to WALL-E
    WALL-E is the best animated movie ever made. Hands down. And although Up is a masterpiece and Pixar is really learning how to tug at your heart without making it inappropriate for kids, I find it hard to give it the credit that I probably should.

6. An Education

You can come out of this movie with two different mindsets: I hated it because it was creepy, or I loved it because the creepiness didn't seem as creepy as it should have. If I read the script before I saw the movie I would've freaked out and refused to see it.

Plot: A thirty-something man has sex with a sixteen year old. Oh wait, she made him wait until her seventeenth birthday. So it's totally not creepy.

Carey Mulligan owns the whole time, and Peter Sarsgaard somehow makes his character charming, not creepy. Hard to do in a role like the one he played. The supporting cast does exactly that; they support Mulligan to perfection, and there are two dominant and memorable cameos by Emma Thompson and Sally Hawkins that top off the picture.

5. District 9

This movie give me hope for the film industry. Sometimes movies come along where I think, "is this the best Hollywood has to offer?" When I see a movie being remade for the tenth time or Rocky still fighting while he's in a wheelchair, I tend to get a little upset. Can't somebody on earth be creative? But then this sci-fi thriller comes along and my heart feels good.

Like last year's Best Picture winner, Slumdog Millionaire, right after I watched this movie, I was mad that I wasn't the one who thought of it. If you haven't seen D9 yet (and you don't mind some blood and you can stomach your way through it), watch it now.

(And I'm mad at myself for forgetting Sharlto Copley on my 10 snubs list. I would've loved to see him nominated for Best Actor. He deserves it this year more than Morgan Freeman.

4. Inglourious Basterds (4. Quentin Tarantino)

I've heard from a lot of people that Basterds has the best collective acting in the bunch, but it all starts with Tarantino. I wish I could write like he can. He's the best at writing 20 minutes of well-crafted, meaningful dialogue, and then following it up with 3 seconds of mass chaos.

I was hooked on this movie the moment I saw the first trailer. I knew going into it that I was going to see a lot of blood, and that the movie itself was going to feel like Tarantino (ensemble cast, broken up into chapters, strong female lead, etc). It had everything I hoped for, and then some. Listen, I have no sympathy for Nazis. What was shown in that movie was nothing. SPOILER ALERT: How Hitler dies in this movie is not even close to how I wished he died. It was Tarantino saying "Forget facts! I'm making history the way I want to make it!" Awesome.

I think this post might just be my masterpiece.

3. Up In the Air (3. Jason Reitman)

Both Basterds and the film not to be confused with Pixar's Up had scripts that owned. It'll probably win Best Adapted Screenplay, and this might be my favorite acting cast this year, so it feels strange putting it at number 3 on my list with such qualifications, but I have two very big reasons for it (see number 1 and number 2).

Everybody just fits perfectly into their roles in Up in the Air. George Clooney was at the top of his game and Vera Farmiga's quick wit complemented Anna Kendrick's spastic ways to perfection. Even Herny Rowengartner's mom made a great appearance.

Also, Jason Reitman is officially a director not to mess with. He's here to stay. Thank You For Smoking in 2005, Juno in 2007, Up in the Air in 2009. Very impressive, especially considering the guy's 32 years old. Whatever he makes in 2011, I'm seeing.

2. Avatar (2. James Cameron)

The next two movies are the clear front-runners for both of these categories, and although I feel the Best Picture and Best Director winners should always go to the same movie, that doesn't always happen. This is because only directors in the Academy vote for best director and the entire Academy votes on Best Picture. Most years this doesn't matter, but I think this year it will.

Avatar was unlike anything you will ever see. James Cameron created a whole new world. I felt like Jasmine in Aladdin. Awwwwww SNAP. If they made a 24 hour featurette called "The Making of Avatar," I would watch every second...Twice. I think the Na'Vi are a real species. They sure seemed real to me. Unfortunately, if I had the ability to do what Cameron did, there were a couple things in this movie where I went "I would have done that differently." Sigourney Weaver quickly comes to mind.

Between Best Picture and Best Director, Avatar has the best chance to win Best Picture. Regardless, it will most likely clean up at least 5 of its 9 total nominations. Avatar grossed over a billion dollars and changed film making forever, but as far as Oscar is concerned, this is not Cameron's year.

1. The Hurt Locker (1. Kathryn Bigelow)

There is nothing wrong with this movie. Let's go through it.

Writing: A+
All movies start with the script. Mark Boal went into Iraq and followed a squad of bomb techs around, so he knows his stuff and it shows. He writes about their job and that's it. As a strong conservative, one of the biggest things I can't stand about movies involving Iraq is the bashing of our government. Boal leaves the politics out of it. Hurt Locker isn't pro-war or anti-war. It simply tells a story. It just happens to be an incredibly powerful story, and one that makes you think once it's over.

Acting: A+
Jeremey Renner gives one of the most memorable performances of the year. Hands down. Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty are the everyday soldiers. They are not douchebags like Channing Tatum that because they have huge muscles, that means they belong in a uniform. Wow, do I hate Channing Tatum. Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes, David Morse were all flawless (and they're collectively on screen for about 10 minutes).

Directing A++
Everything about this movie is perfect. Choosing a cinematographer whose main background is documentaries so you feel like you're in the action with the soldiers was brilliant. Using real explosives instead of the "Hollywood BALLS OF FIRE" was brilliant. Making the movie independently so you could film it on the border of Iraq instead of somewhere like Morocco was brilliant. Making it independently also means you can choose your actors. A studio would have picked Tom Cruise, Denzel Washington, and Adrien Brody as there three main characters. That wouldn't have worked here, because:

*HUGE SPOILER ALERT*The two most famous people in this movie die two minutes into their scenes. Brilliant. Katheryn Bigelow, thank you for making this masterpiece. Oh, and you are extremely hot for 58.

The winner of the Director's Guild top award has won the Best Director Oscar 55 out of the last 61 years. Lucky for Katheryn Bigelow, she has already won the DGA Award so I think this is hers to lose.

So there we have it. Bigelow and The Hurt Locker are my pick to bring home the Best Picture and Best Director Oscars. The Oscars are tonight. You need to watch them. JUST DO IT. IS IT IN YOU? I'M LOVING IT!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Why My Idiot Friends Hate Me


Maybe this is what Dan was excited for. Thanks to @acegrl for the image.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Best Actor: 2010 Oscar Preview

Note from Luke: This post was written by Bighead, resident film guru at Common Vents. Check out his other Oscar preview posts using the links below.

[Top 10 Snubs]
[Supporting Actress]
[Supporting Actor]

[Best Actress]  

5. Morgan Freeman - Invictus

I know basically as much information about Nelson Mandela as Chris Rock tells in his jokes, so my knowledge is kind of limited. He spent 27 years in a South African prison. He was beaten, he was tortured, and he got divorced from his wife after six months. That's basically all I knew before seeing Invictus.

But here's the problem. Biopics need to give their subject material at least a few decades before a movie can be made about them. Let's look at some recent successful biopics. Both Walk the Line and Ray had subject material from the 1950s. Milk's plot unwound in the 1970s. The events depicted in Invictus took place in the early and mid 1990s. That's not nearly enough time between actual events and theatrical events. Strike 1.

The whole point of finding actors to play bio roles is that the actual people (Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Harvey Milk) are either dead or too old to play the part. But Freeman played Nelson Mandela in Invictus while the actual Nelson Mandela could have easily played the same role. That takes away from Freeman's credibility right off the bat. Strike 2.

Also, Morgan Freeman IS Ellis Redding. All of his other characters are wannabes. So, hearing Morgan Freeman do a perfectly respectable Mandela impression was not enjoyable. During the whole movie I was saying to myself, "why is Red talking all funny?" Strike 3.

It seems like a great idea to cast one of the best actors of this generation as one of the most famous political leaders of our time, but that's exactly what takes away from the performance.

4. Colin Firth - A Single Man

I didn't get A Single Man. What I mean by that is I don't understand the accolades it's getting.

The movie is about a man struggling to keep living life and find meaning in it after the death of his longtime partner. If you were bored by that sentence, you're going to be bored by the movie. It's a 90 minute long snoozefest.

Still, Firth performed well. In particular, two scenes in the film were fantastic, which was enough to elevate Firth over Morgan Freeman in my book.

Wow, I'm boring myself by writing this. Let's move on.

3. Jeff Bridges - Crazy Heart

Most people will be mad at me for putting Bridges in the middle of the pack.

He'll most likely win come March 7th and I have no problem with that. It will be nice to finally not have to mention the words "The Dude" and "underrated" in the same sentence. He was fantastic in Crazy Heart. He sang and played guitar like he was a veteran musician. His chemistry with Maggie Gyllenhaal was phenomenal. Still, if I had a vote for Best Actor, Bridges wouldn't get it. Here's why.

I went into Crazy Heart with very high expectations, and when the movie itself didn't fully live up to those expectations, his spot on my list fell. I know my judgment of an individual's performance shouldn't be linked to how much I liked the movie, or what I intially expected, but I can't help it. Sometimes I do that.

It's like having a bologna sandwich for dinner, only it has a juicy piece of steak in the center. That one bite of steak should be delicious, but it's not, because it's surrounded by the bologna sandwich. And I'm not saying Crazy Heart is a bologna sandwich to Jeff Bridges' steak (Crazy Heart is actually a good movie), but you get what I'm saying.

2. Jeremy Renner - The Hurt Locker

If you haven't seen The Hurt Locker, stop everything you're doing and see it right now. If you have seen it, you know that the movie kicks ass and Jeremy Renner kicks ass in it. If you don't agree with me, you're wrong. That's right, your opinion is wrong. I'm watching it again right now. It's probably my 25th time watching it. It's that good.

There was a point in the movie where I kind of thought that Jeremy Renner was not an actor, but an actual bomb technician in Iraq. You believe he knows what he's doing. You believe he needs war just as much as war needs him. You believe that even though some of his tactics are not "by the book," he cares about his men. Before this movie, I knew Jeremy Renner as the bad guy in S.W.A.T and that's about it. Something tells me I won't be forgetting his name any time soon.

I'm assuming all of you were up at 7:30 on February 2nd watching Anne Hathaway announce the nominations. I mean, why wouldn't you be?? And if you were lucky enough to be watching the Today Show, Jeremy Renner's reaction was priceless. He was so happy that his performance got recognized. It was impossible not to be anything but happy for him. When I saw his reaction, I smiled, laughed and clapped for him. And I was by myself, literally cheering for no one to hear. I'm pretty cool.

I just tracked down that video. Enjoy.

I had Jeremy Renner in the #1 spot about 10 minutes ago. Let's just call this position 1-A.

1. George Clooney - Up In the Air

In the first half of the movie, Clooney plays a witty, smooth talking playboy who only cares about numero uno. Then his character completely changes, and he pulls off both sides to perfection. And there are very few actors that can pull off a comedic character in a drama as well as Clooney can. However, some may view this performance as effortless, which hurts Clooney's overall chances to bring home Oscar.

I really, really wish that he didn't win the Best Supporting Oscar four years ago for Syriana. I'm convinced that if he didn't, he would be winning this year.

That may sound confusing. Clooney isn't winning this year? Isn't he in my #1 spot? Yes, but my rankings go by who deserves it most, not who's going to win. I'm fairly certain Jeff Bridges is taking home Best Actor this year.

It breaks my heart a little when somebody wins an Oscar for a piece of work that isn't their best. Seriously, I cry. A lot. When Martin Scorsese finally won for The Departed in 2007, it was great that he finally won, but it's probably his third or fourth best film. Very bittersweet. That's how I feel about Clooney's performance in Up In the Air. I'm pretty sure he gave a career performance, but he'll win Best Actor for a future role that's not nearly as memorable as this one.

The Oscars are March 7th, THIS SUNDAY! Until then read my other previews, and look for the Best Picture preview tomorrow.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Creeps, Casimir Pulaski and Controversial Islam Leaders

Happy Monday, everyone. To all my unemployed peeps, you have the greatest life ever. Enjoy it while you can. Let's get right to the random.

#1: The Drive-By Creep

The Jess and I did some errand-running on Saturday. After dropping off a package at FedEx, we were walking back to the car when a guy drove past us, spotted The Jess and held his glance for a good three seconds as he drove by. Now, I can completely understand this. The Jess is a good-looking lady. And to all you feminists: Yes, this could very well be objectification at its finest and downright creepy as well, but from a guy's perspective, this behavior is understandable. So I'm not going to knock this mystery creep's behavior. I will, however, knock his technique.
Dear Idiot who creeped on The Jess,

You were wearing dark sunglasses on Saturday. It might have been the most overcast day in the history of everything. You obviously didn't need sunglasses to ensure you drove safely. Thus, I must conclude that you were wearing dark sunglasses because of the other benefit: Creeping on chicks.

Good work, Dr. Douche! You've realized that you're able to creep on women without them knowing thanks to the glance-clouding power of your knockoff Oakleys. One thing you forgot, though: In order to keep a low profile, it's important that you DON'T TURN YOUR HEAD. I mean, shit. Your double take was so emphatic I'm surprised you didn't give yourself whiplash.

So, to you and all other wannabe sunglasses creepers: Only move the direction of your glance when you creep. Do not turn your head or you will be busted.

#2: The Greatest Pole

The first Monday every March marks Casimir Pulaski Day. We all know about his heroics in the American Revolution, but the real question is still unanswered: WHERE IS PULASKI BURIED?

According to several witnesses, Pulaski was buried at sea. *WARNING* POLISH JOKE IMMINENT.

Three men drowned digging his grave. Ohhhhhhhh SNAP!

But a grave site was recently examined on a Savannah plantation, where it was alleged Pulaski was buried. Then, after an EIGHT YEAR INVESTIGATION, the results were inconclusive.

Gah! Eight years of looking at a corpse and you still can't tell who it is? Who was running that operation? He spent two presidential terms examining a corpse, and because of that, he gets to answer the question "Was that really Pulaski?" with a resounding "DURRRRRR, I dunno!" What a waste of time.

That'd be the worst episode of Bones EVER.

#3: Farrakhan and Flying Saucers

Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan predicted yesterday that America will face its own imminent disaster and must prepare. This prediction comes on the heels of the Haiti and Chile earthquakes.

Farrakhan has been called a racist and anti-Semitic more than once. I don't know about all that. However, I'm fairly certain that using a premonition about an ascension into a flying saucer to predict future events is slightly iffy.

From Chicago Breaking News:

"Farrakhan described a spiritual experience in 1981 in which he ascended into a flying saucer and heard the voice of Elijah Muhammad predicting historical events that did come to pass."

This is how I imagine things playing out:

FARRAKHAN: I had a vision aboard a flying object in the sky! I now know that bad things will happen! And also good things! Basically, big events will sometimes occur!

Berlin Wall falls

FARRAKHAN: I totally called it!

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Coolest Pucking Blog Post Ever *UPDATE*

Someone needs to run out to CVS and get me some ice, because I've got the hockey fever. Last weekend, a bunch of Crystal Lake peeps drove out to the Des Moines area to visit Daniel, Son of Bardin. There were many highlights in the all-too-short weekend, and one of them was when four of us played NHL 10 online against pretenders.

As if that dynamite video game weren't enough, last night Team USA gave the heavily favored Canadians a 5-3 glass bottom boat ride. Given the recent run of great hockey, both real and digital, it's safe to say that I'm currently loving hockey more than any other sport.

So to mark the occasion, here are a few videos that make you wish you knew how to fire a slapshot or check someone into the boards. Or at the very least, how to ice skate without wiping out.

These are all incredible plays, but I think my favorite might be #4. In his three seasons with the New York Rangers, Marek Malik scored 6 goals. Total. Yet he pulled out that unreal move for a shootout goal and even made the water bottle atop the net dance a little jig. Where in the world did that come from?

Scott Stevens is on here a number of times. You just did not put your head down when he was on the ice. I remember watching his hit on Paul Kariya (the #2 hit in the video) live with my brother. There's a part that this video doesn't show that I've always remembered.

Kariya was knocked unconscious for a few seconds. After the hit and before the trainers got to him, the camera zoomed in on his face. Eyes closed, body not moving. Kariya looked like he was dead. Suddenly, his eyes shot open and he gasped so hard that it fogged up his visor. Then he got up, brushed himself off and kept playing. Hockey players are badasses.

And to cap off the best pucking blog post of all time, here's the great Randy Moller, play-by-play guy for the Florida Panthers. Get ready for the best goal calls you'll ever hear.

*UPDATE* Here's the extended video of that Stevens hit on Kariya. You can see him wake from unconsciousness, come back from the locker room and light the lamp with a screaming slapper later in the game. Paul Kariya is a man. Thanks to Bighead for finding the video.

Friday, February 19, 2010

My Favorite Live Music Video Ever

Because NBC is a bunch of jags with its SNL content, hurry up and watch this video before it gets taken down. Rolling Stone editor David Fricke admitted he screwed up when he excluded Pearl Jam guitarists Mike McCready and Stone Gossard from the magazine's Top 100 Guitarists of All Time list. This video shows you why.

Pearl Jam - Alive @ SNL
Uploaded by Olpio. - Watch more music videos, in HD!

Ho-lee Shnikes. I've seen this video close to a hundred times and I still can't get enough. This is Pearl Jam in the early 90s, rocking harder than any other performer that I've seen on SNL. Thoughts:
  • The SNL crowd is beyond stoked to hear these guys. The host (is that Sharon Stone?) can barely introduce the band with all the screaming.
  • Eddie Vedder's voice is lights out. It sounds just like it does on Ten, the album Alive is on. Almost 20 years later, playing 3 hour show after 3 hour show, Vedder is still singing. Unreal. My voice would be destroyed at that point.
  • Stone Gossard's guitar intro to Alive is legendary. Nuff said.
  • Jeff Ament and the drummer (I think it's Dave Abbruzzese but I'm not sure) have a solid rapport going throughout the performance. The bass player and the drummer hold the rhythm and you can tell they were on the same page.
  • Up until the 3:30 mark, the guitarist on the left, Mike McCready, just kind of hangs out, making you wonder if his axe is even plugged in or if he's there just for show. Then his solo starts. And holy shit, ladies. This is how you play rock guitar. Some guys can fly along the fret board, others can really make their guitar sing with a beautiful solo that still fits the foundation of the song, but not very many can do both. Mike McCready can do both. Whenever I watch this video, I have to rewind to the start of the solo at least once. It's perfect.

Are there any bands out there that have emerged in the last 5 years that can rock like this? If so, please post their name in the comments section. I'd love to hear them. I missed out on the grunge era as it was happening and I've been trying to make up for that fact for a while now. You see, Pearl Jam exploded at roughly the same time the Bulls' dynasty did, but I was 8 years old and sweatpants-clad, oblivious to the history being made around me. CRIMINY!!

Best Actress: 2010 Oscar Preview

Note from Luke: This post was written by Bighead, resident film guru at Common Vents. Check out his other Oscar preview posts using the links below.

[Top 10 Snubs]
[Supporting Actress]
[Supporting Actor]

5. Gabourey Sidibe - Precious

As I've mentioned before, everybody is loving Precious except for me so this nomination was pretty much guaranteed for Gabourey Sidibe. (SPOILER ALERT) She plays the overweight, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her father's second child and the punchline of the movie is that she has AIDS. I don't know what a good performance is in that type of plot line.

Did I feel bad for her? Yes. Was it difficult to watch? Yes. Did I like it when people such as her teacher were actually nice to her? Of course. But I'm pretty sure I would have felt the same way if a broom played the part. I'm not saying that because Sidibe is a horrible actress. She's not. But the content just made her performance seem secondary.

Personally, I wouldn't have given her the nod for Best Actress, but her road to the Oscars has been a nice story and I hope she has a blast on the red carpet. But that's likely the most she's going to get.

4. Helen Mirren - The Last Station

The Last Station was the movie I knew the least about going into the Oscar buzz, but I really enjoyed the film. One of the main reasons was Helen Mirren.

She plays Sofya Tolstoy, the wife of War and Peace author Leo Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer, nominated for Best Supporting Actor) and complements his mundane approach to perfection. Somehow she was able hate him more than anything in her life while still being completely in love with him.

This is Mirren's fourth nomination (she won the Best Actress Oscar three years ago for The Queen), so obviously, she can act. But Best Actress is probably the most competitive acting category this year so she's won't be a two-time winner in 2010. She was great in The Last Station, but this year there's a better British performance and also a better veteran actress performance, so Helen is out.

Side note: She's really hot for 64.

3. Carey Mulligan - An Education

The next three names on my list have been swapped back and forth so many times that I've lost count. I had Carey Mulligan bringing home Oscar the entire week before I wrote this, and I'm glad she's getting all of the recognition, but I'm sad to say I copped out by playing the "she'll get her chance later in life" card. I'm mad at myself. But if I had to pick one person that I would most enjoy seeing Oscar with when the night is over, it'd be her.

Shia LaBeouf is a lucky man. I'm pretty sure if any British woman showed any interest in me whatsoever, I'd marry her on the spot. I just get mesmerized for some reason. I may need professional help to stop this feeling. I'll run down the list of British women who could have complete control over me if they wanted:
  1. Carey Mulligan
  2. Rachel Weisz
  3. Kristin Scott Thomas
  4. Kate Beckinsale
  5. Emily Blunt
  6. Kate Winslet
  7. Helena Bonham Carter
The list is way, way longer but we need to move on.

Mulligan is one of the hot new things in Hollywood and her performance in An Education has been getting very worthy hype since it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah last year. And although she was indeed amazing in it, any awards she is given should have an "Assisted by Peter Sarsgaard" sign on it. To see why, keep your eyes peeled for my Best Picture preview.

2. Meryl Streep - Julie & Julia

Julie & Julia was boring, predictable and altogether stupid...and then Meryl Streep came on screen. She's the best.

The memories I have of Julia Child are watching her on TV and barely moving while I stayed home sick from elementary school. She would kind of just stand there and make comments while some more mobile cook actually did the work. However, that was her in the later part of her life so let's just say I was pleasantly surprised at Streep's energy and charisma while she cooked, ate, and talked... and talked...and talked. When she and Stanley Tucci were on screen I had a smile on my face that wouldn't go away. Even though she may very well walk away with her third Oscar, I copped out again by playing the "she's had her statue. give it to somebody else" card. I'm mad at myself again.

FUN FACT ALERT: This is Meryl Streep's 16th Oscar nomination. Let me put this accomplishment in perspective for you. Including their nominations for this year, the nine other women nominated for Oscars in 2010 (Best Supporting Actress, Best Actress) have 14 combined career nominations, which happens to be TWO LESS THAN MERYL STREEP. Between nine people. Three of the best male actors of all time, Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington and Robert DeNiro, have 16 combined nominations, tying Meryl. Oh, and this is her third nomination in the last four years, so she's not really showing signs of slowing down. She's pretty good at what she does. And because she's really down to earth and totally badass, she'd be the first to say that she also has the most losses in history.

Watch Streep in Doubt (in which she got a nomination for last year) and then watch her in Julie & Julia and see the very noticeable range she has.

1. Sandra Bullock - The Blind Side

I really want the Oscar and Razzie for Best/Worst Actress to go to the same person this year. Sandra is nominated for each.

The Blind Side by Michael Lewis was a book that had Michael Oher as its protagonist. I don't know if the movie script was originally written as it turned out on screen, but the film did not center on Michael Oher. It was about Leigh Anne Tuohy saving Michael Oher, and Sandra Bullock owned the screen the whole time. Something that I initially figured would be, at best, a nice, feel-good summer movie now has its lead actress as the front-runner for this year's Oscars.

Bullock and Streep have swapped every award this year (they even tied at the Critics' Choice Awards with a very memorable lip lock to seal the deal) and this one is still up in the air. I'm just picturing most Academy members who are on the fence saying "Meryl Streep has two Oscars. She gets nominated every year so we'll probably give her another chance next year anyway. She doesn't need it. Sandra Bullock may never be nominated again." So my guess is that we'll hear: "And the Oscar goes too...Sandra Bullock!"

She is known for making C-minus romantic comedies, so to see her take control and capture a real life character so well was a breath of fresh air, and she deserves the Oscar for her surprising, uplifting performance.

The Oscars are March 7th, but until then, watch for more of my previews. Peace.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

3 Things To Get You Through Hump Day

I got just five hours of sleep last night thanks to an super-intense Modern Warfare 2 sesh with Chrome-Dog. He actually came over to the apartment to play. How did The Jess react, you ask? Well, she made barbeque chicken wings and sweet potato fries and only made fun of us once the entire night, when we were having an active debate regarding whether to equip our ACR with FMJ or a grenade launcher. And trust me, things were WAY nerdier than that at times. Excellent restraint by The Jess.

On top of that, she knew I didn't get much sleep last night, so waiting for me when I got to work was an email from her with an array of content like lolcats, a picture of a monkey dressed as a cowboy while riding a dog, and an assortment of Arrested Development and 30 Rock quotes. A lot of people know me pretty well, but no one knows me like my Jess.

So to pay it forward, here are some things to help get you through your hump day.

1. Know Your Meme

First, thanks to @acegrl for introducing me to KYM.

This is my new favorite site, and it's absolutely insane how much fun you can have on here. Before I go into it any further, here's a lesson: the word 'meme' rhymes with 'cream.' Do not pronounce it 'may-may' or 'me-me,' or else you'll sound like a big, fat reed. I may or may not have thought it was pronounced may-may before I googled it. Don't make the same mistake.

KYM says its goal is "Documenting Internet phenomena: viral videos, image macros, catchphrases, web celebs and more." It tracks the origin and eventual explosion of these Internet phenomena, and also provides examples, typically submitted by readers. Some of my favorite memes:
  • Nic Cage as Everyone: Takes the actor's face and throws it on pictures, like the one above. That Nic Cage photo also fits the "Argument is Invalid" meme.
  • Ramirez! Do Everything! My personal favorite meme so far thanks to my MW2 addiction. During the game's Campaign mode, Sergeant Foley routinely yells at Ramirez to perform various tasks to complete missions. Foley never calls out anyone but Ramirez. Thus, 'Ramirez! Do Everything!' was born. My personal favorite variations include 'Ramirez! Throw Your Knife at the AC130!' 'Ramirez! Divide By Zero!' and 'Ramirez! Help Me Beat New Super Mario Bros Wii! It's Too Hard!'
  • Crasher Squirrel: A fuzzy little guy who can't help being a dick by ruining photos.
  • Sewer Horse: He's always watching.
  • Grammar Nazi: Here's the one that fits me the best. Whenever someone has a typo in their text, I feel compelled to point it out. Ironically, the people correcting idiots and their horrendous grammar are usually the ones who are ostracized by the rest of the group. But as the chart below shows, the Internet community generally likes bringing up Nazis to try to put an end to a lengthy online discussion, be they Grammar, White Supremacist, or Soup.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Brahs of the Month: STD and T-Star

In the inaugural edition of Brah of the Month, we're starting off with a double dip. I went to high school with T-Star and STD. I graduated a year before them and we were relatively tight at Crystal Lake South, home of the Gators, but until last week I hadn't seen either of them in years. And last week they completely bailed me out, as you'll soon read. Before we bring back Preston and Shane to emcee, let's get some background info on the nicknames of my February 5th heroes.

This one is straightforward. Her first name starts with a T and she always wanted to be a star. Done and done.

This is slightly more complicated. In 8th grade, little STD was playing a board game with her 8th grade friends. She and another girl had S.D. as their initials, so to differentiate between the two, the first girl was referred to as Sa.D. (the a being the 2nd letter of her first name) and St.D. for her. The girls burst out laughing, and a nickname that lasted longer than a presidential term was born.

I can relate to this. When I was in 7th grade, one William Grant Benson lay the first ever nose joke upon me. The other people in the room exploded in laughter, and at that point it was all over. It's a strange feeling to know that an event just occurred that changed everything, and you were powerless to stop it.

It's so heartbreaking, especially considering the amount of work put in throughout middle school to avoid embarrassment. More effort is put forth on this front than on actually doing schoolwork. Pants are belted extra tightly. The latest clothing brands are purchased and worn every day. Erections are concealed with tactical strategies the United States' military would be proud of.

But that's not enough. Even after doing all that work, Fate rushes in with a flying kick to the balls (or a flying punch to the boob). When a new nickname is bestowed upon you without your consent, there's nothing you can do. You can't get pissed. You can't laugh it off. You can't ignore it. All you can do is recognize these turning-point events in life and think to yourself, "Well, I'm boned."

Eventually, you can laugh at these nicknames and even embrace them, as STD and Nosehead have by now. But that doesn't change the fact that middle school is a big, fat shit pile.

Preston and Shane: Howzit, brah?

Luke: Oh, hey guys. I didn't even get to introduce you.

: Well, we thought we'd jump in without your permission. I mean, you were being such a candy-ass BITCH. Am I right?

Shane: Oh, TOTALLY, brah! "Boo hoo, middle school was so hard! I was so awkward and I couldn't control my boners!" Let me tell you something, brah: I OWNED middle school. I rocked pre-algebra, ran track and played basketball, I had a natural 6-pack and I must have been pretty good at baseball too because I totally rounded 3rd base with Kelly Piatkowski. UP TOP!

Preston and Shane high five. Luke watches them, and he must admit, their form is commendable.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Best Supporting Actor: 2010 Oscar Preview

Note from Luke: This post was written by Bighead, resident film guru at Common Vents. Check out his other Oscar preview posts using the links below.

[Top 10 Snubs]
[Supporting Actress]

And here we go. From worst-to-first, here are the nominees for Best Supporting Actor. It should be noted that this order doesn't necessarily reflect who I think will win. It reflects who I think most deserves the Oscar.

5. Matt Damon - Invictus

I may have mentioned this already, but it's worth repeating: Invictus was not good. Unfortunately for Matt Damon, that makes me dislike his performance more than I normally would. So I've gone over it many times trying to find the positives that I didn't notice the first time through. I guess I found a few...

Damon plays South African rugby player Francois Pienaar, so that meant he had to a.) get his body jacked up and b.) rock the very noticeable South African accent, and he did both perfectly adequately. And playing opposite Morgan Freeman's portrayal of Nelson Mandela gave him some good exchanges. But the movie was unnecessarily boring so I didn't care much.

You can blame Clint Eastwood's questionable direction for your spot on my list, Matt.

4. Stanley Tucci - The Lovely Bones

I'm really glad I saw Stanley Tucci in Julie & Julia right after I saw him in The Lovely Bones. If I hadn't I'm pretty sure I'd hate him for the rest of my life.

Certain characters in cinematic lore are so offputting and creepy that you can actually hate that actor forever because of his performance (i.e. Joaquin Phoenix in Gladiator). Usually it's something you're unaware of, but a when a talented actor meets an extremely evil character, the repercussions can be catastrophic.

Tucci was no different. He makes your skin crawl at the sight of him. His hair. His voice. His mustache. It all comes together into the psychotic character that is George Harvey. This unsettling feeling that you get with these characters usually means the actor did a good job, and Tucci was no different. He completely killed it (no pun intended).

3. Woody Harrelson - The Messenger

The Messenger centers around two soldiers who are stationed in the United States. Their sole job is to inform Next of Kin (NOK) that a family member has died in the war in Iraq. I give credit to Alessandro Camon and and Oren Moverman (the film's screenwriters) for showing something that I previously viewed as a tragic, but simple, process and breaking it down for my ignorant mind. The men who must break the worst news imaginable to complete strangers have a job as horrifying as any other soldier in the military. There are rules you follow. There are procedures that you cannot break. You have to hope for the worst reactions, and pray for the best (if there really is a "good" reaction).

Harrelson then brings the character together showing discipline, care and sympathy. He walks a fine line as well, for too much of any one of those elements could make the already terrible situation worse. I can't imagine doing this job for the military, but it looked and sounded like Harrelson had been doing it for years.

Side note: he's near the top of my list for Actor of 2009. He had two great roles last year, both in The Messenger and in Zombieland, which he owned.

2. Christopher Plummer - The Last Station

There's a certain swagger that some grizzled actors get when they're in their later years. And by "later years" I don't mean over 50 years old. I'm talking about the veterans that were around in the silent film era. I don't know if Plummer is senile and he actually believes he IS the characters he plays, but Captain Von Trapp can do no wrong at this point in his acting career. Everything he does seems to be as genuine as any documentary.

Plummer plays Leo Tolstoy in the last months of his life, when the decision of whether to give his inheritance to his family or to the Russian public was in question. Seeing him and Hellen Mirren banter back and forth was a pure joy to watch. Which leads me to why I love and hate the politics of the Academy...

If the Academy put Plummer in the running for Best Actor, that means he misses a nomination by a long shot. So I love that he finally got the recognition he deserves. However, saying that he is a supporting character while Hellen Mirren is a lead character is just plain stupid. If you take Plummer out of the equation, the movie suffers as much, if not more, than if you take Mirren out.

Most people don't have Plummer high on their lists, but the 80-year-old deserved to have his name finally in contention, and I'd pick him to win if not for the next guy on this list.

1. Christoph Waltz - Inglourious Basterds

In all of this year's Oscars, you won't find a bigger lock than this.

Right after watching Inglourious Basterds, I found myself thinking "why did I LIKE that Nazi? Is there something wrong with me?" I thought about that for a good twenty minutes, and it turns out that when I went through the movie in my head I remembered that he was a psychotic killer who deserved much more than just a swastika carved into his head. There is no reason on Earth that any normal American should respect or like anything resembling a Nazi, but Christoph Waltz had me going for a second.

He spoke three languages in the film (German, French and English), and he speaks each language so smoothly and confidently that you begin to believe what he's saying. Waltz could have gone into this role as a crazed Nazi soldier who yells, swears, looks dominant and kills anything in sight, but instead he made his character well-mannered and subtle, one who views his job in the Nazi army as just that: a job. Because of that, viewers find themselves strangely accepting of him. Both Quentin Tarantino and Christoph Waltz have been stressing the fact that "good people aren't always good, and evil people aren't always evil" and it showed in the character.

The only beef I have is that with an ensemble cast like Inglourious Basterds, everyone is a supporting actor even though they can all be seen as lead actors. If Waltz is a supporting actor in this movie, then I don't know who you would call the lead. But the ensemble cast is typical of Tarantino, so it's not really much of a gripe.

For the third year in a row, four of the five men nominated for Best Supporting Actor don't need to show up. If you can name the Best Supporting Actors from the past two years without Googling it, well done.

The Oscars are March 7th. Until then, watch for more of my previews. Peace.

One final note: Mom, do not watch Inglorious Basterds. Ever, ever, ever. No.