Book Review: I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell

4 08 2010

I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, Tucker Max

“My name is Tucker Max, and I am an asshole. I get excessively drunk at inappropriate times, disregard social norms, indulge every whim, ignore the consequences of my actions, mock idiots and posers, sleep with more women than is safe or reasonable, and just generally act like a raging dickhead. But, I do contribute to humanity in one very important way: I share my adventures with the world.”

– From the back cover of the paperback edition of I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell

Tucker Max, Esquire, is perhaps one of the worst human beings on the planet. We’re talking about total scum of the Earth guy. He foul, rude, manipulative, sexist, selfish, and over all, someone you do not want to associate with.

He is also kind of a hero to me. If I were to see this man, I would approach him, shake his hand, and buy him a beer. I would then proceed to tell him that he represents the worst of humanity, short of someone who commits genocide, and expect him to kick my ass or verbally abuse me, preferably the latter. I would then have a story to proudly tell my grandchildren. Read the rest of this entry »

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Music: Phoenix

3 07 2010

This post will feature a few reviews:

United (2000), Phoenix

In 2000, alt-rockers Phoenix *fully* entered the music scene with ‘United’. In comparison to their newer works, this album shows it’s, young, age – it’s genre is quite varied, reaching the indifferent alternative of the 90’s to the dance-jazz-disco feel of the 70’s. While United lacks a general consensus, it’s amorphous nature is what makes it a solid entry. If you’ve seen Lost in Translation or Shallow Hal, you’ve probably heard ‘Too Young’ – the most known (early) song by Phoenix. When I first heard this song, my foot started taping and my head bobbing… well, if I was in public it was probably internally. Too Young features a great hook of a bass-line and mild lyrics to get lost in the atmosphere of the track. Their second most noted song from this album is ‘If I Ever Feel Better’, which touts a similar dance-like feel that Too Young has. I only recently paid attention to the (wealth) of lyrics contained in this song and I was amazed that these guys packed as much… deliberation?… soul?… into the song. Another notable tune is ‘Funky Squaredance (Part 1/2/3) (Medley)’, which is not only an excellent title but an amusing take on funk – they also incorporate some auto-tuned-robotized vocals into it. Yes, it’s awesome.

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Television (Review): Gravity

21 06 2010

Always interesting, sometimes cheesy, and slightly abstract are some ways to describe Gravity’s strong points. Gravity is a little show nearing the end of it’s first season on Starz. For those of you this may come as a shock… Firstly, Starz is a real channel… Secondly, they have their own programing. You’ve probably seen a promo or two for one of their other series, Party Down, which follows the exploits of a catering crew (and toted Glee’s Jane Lynch as a regular member for season one and Will & Grace’s Megan Mullally in the current season) or heard of their series Crash, which deals in the same subject matter as the identically named movie.  Anyway, back to the subject at hand: Gravity details a group of suicide ‘dummies’ – a ragtag group of suicide attempters who have been forced into a support group. The show centers on the budding relationship of Lily and Robert, as well as the exploits of the rest of the group.

While this show could do much better on a different network with better funding (see the success of other quirky shows on well known premium networks, like HBO’s ‘Six Feet Under’ or Showtime’s mildly-accessible ‘Dead Like Me’), the oddball cast shines through the sometimes poorly written scripts and generally confusing plot-lines. The cast literally covers a wide range of stereotypes for those on the verge of suicide: A successful ophthalmologist who lost his perfect wife, a daddy-issue-toting lonely beauty, a washed up spokes-model, a stepford wife who has a perfectly boring life, a teenage misfit, a former baseball player who lost the pennant, and a construction worker with a small penis. [Okay, the last one isn’t exactly cliche…] I forgot to mention an obsessive, overly-forward, yoga-practicing, gambler of a detective who seems drawn to the beautiful female protagonist, Lily. I can honestly say that I love all these characters equally and they are beautifully performed by their respective players.

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Book Review: When You Are Engulfed in Flames

18 06 2010

When You Are Engulfed in Flames, David Sedaris

David Sedaris is a well-known author of strange essays. I suppose that’s the best way to frame him and this collection: quite strange and quite entertaining. The essays are straightforward slices of the bizarre, touching on schizophrenia, death, and strange solicitations from people who pick up hitchhikers. Sedaris matter-of-factly presents each scene to his audience, describing each bizarre situation and extravagant character from his life with a dry sort of with that eases the reader comfortably into each absurdity, making it easy to accept them as the reality of the novel.

On a purely shallow level this book is very easy to read. The tone is conversational, as if you were listening to a story told by a very sarcastic friend who has lived a relatively quirky life. There are some truly hilarious parts– the sicker your sense of humor, the more of these seem to crop up.

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Book Review: The Satanic Verses

10 06 2010

The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie

Anyone familiar with this book will know that this is pretty much the father of modern controversial literature. Banned in several countries and causing the first instance in which a government publicly called for the death of a private individual, resulting in the death of a little more then 40 people to date, ‘The Satanic Verses’ has certainly caused quite a stir in the Muslim community.

‘Verses’ opens with the story of two Indian actors who have survived an explosion of a hijacked plane over the English Channel. After the fall, both actors begin a metamorphism. Gibreel Farishta, the easygoing and womanizing, Bollywood actor who specializes in playing Hindu gods takes on the characteristics of the archangel Gibreel. Contrastingly, Salidan Chamcha, the strict and uptight voice actor, is dead set on escaping his Indian heritage to fully embrace anglicization, takes on the characteristics of a demon, even so far going as growing horns and hoofed feet.

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Games: VVVVVV Quick Review

7 06 2010

Being an avid gamer, I am always willing to try quirky titles when I have the chance. Today I stumbled across VVVVVV, and it definitely fits into that category. The graphics and audio present in the game will remind you of something from the 8-bit era, with simple controls to boot. Don’t take this game lightly, though, or it will be sure to give you a thorough beating. Be warned, this isn’t an easy game and you will die often.

Title Screen

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Music: Pomplamoose

5 06 2010

Perhaps one of the saving graces of YouTube and the independent internet music establishment is a San Francisco based instrumental duo called Pomplamoose, comprised of ultracute Nataly Dawn and her boyfriend Jack Conte, whom I hate for no other reason except that he’s dating Nataly. Bastard.

You might better know them for their cover rendition of The Cordettes’ Mr. Sandman, used in a recent commercial for the Toyota Avalon.

Sure, they have great original songs, but perhaps their best (and gimmicky) claim to fame is their deconstruction of pop music. Everyone has love-hate relationships with covers, but, very much like Marie Digby’s cover of Rhianna’s Umbrella, Nataly and her tool of a boyfriend proceed to making pop music drivel for the masses more digestible. Perhaps even redeemable. Digby did justice to a well-written song like Umbrella by playing it with the bare essentials, just her vocals and acoustic guitar, without the shite Apple GarageBand beats and cockteasing sexuality Rhianna added to the song. Pomplamoose does the same with both beloved and scorned pop songs.

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