Monday, August 30, 2004

Movie Review: Suspect Zero

Those of you who like to check up on these things will know that "Suspect Zero" opened just slightly ahead of "Supergenius: Baby Geniuses 2" over the weekend. Both movies just opened, and both performed below their expected levels. The only difference is that "Suspect Zero" had a chance to be a good movie, while I do not doubt that the other one would only have had a better chance in Hell if it had a corncob pipe and two eyes made out of coal.

The movie focuses around an FBI profiler who underwent a breakdown and a demotion after beating the crap out of a murderer, and dragging him accross the Mexican border into the United States. Some of you may also know that the Feds hate when that happens. Naturally, he has spiralled down into a deep psychological despair, as the job of pursuing criminals has worn down his mind, blah blah blah. Can't we just once meet an FBI profiler who likes to go home, pop some popcorn and watch Powerpuff Girls with his lady friend? Do they ALL have to have demented melancholia?

Anyways, Ben Kingsley is the only actor in this movie. Everyone else are actually corpses given life through the wonder of CGI. Seriously, Carrie-Anne Moss must still be caught by the Matrix, since she was sleeping awake the whole damn film. I have never felt as little empathy for anyone as I did for her and Eckhart, the 'star' of the movie. Ben, however, in the first two minutes of the movie makes one of the best creeps that has ever been put to film, the creep you love to hate and sympathize with, and secretly wish you could be.

All in all, this could have been a TREMENDOUSLY good film had it been given a proper treatment. It was slow, the pacing jumped around too much, and some scenes were probably spliced in the wrong order. Although the idea, the concept, and the story were top notch, it was the cinematic equivalent of taking French butter-wine shrimp, rare filet mignon, and hand-made double-cream tiramisu, mixing it all up in a blender and serving in a pint mug. In theory, the finest meal that could be imagined. In practice, quite unappetizing and possibly hazardous to your stomach.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Social Review: Politics

The advent of the partisan system was undoubtedly the biggest step forward in a fair and socially equitable governmental system. The advent of Americans was also undoubtedly the biggest setback to this.

I mean, lets take a look at the American bi-partisan system. You have the Republicans, a right-wing political party who believes that America should be the only kid in the schoolyard making decisions. You also have the Democrats, a right-wing political party who believes that America should be the only kid in the schoolyard making decicions, but they usually do it a bit nicer. It's standard psychology.

If you tell someone "Choose either Option A or Option B", less than one percent will say "What about Option C?" This is because the need for choice has been eliminated from this aspect of life. What do you do if you're a left-wing pro-choice American? You have no major party to vote for. What do you do if you-re a Marxist Communist? Well, after the shit-kickings, you still have no party to vote for.

American culture has been bred to pick either side of the same coin as the people to be in charge of their government, and the politicos continue to get away with it because they simply say "Well, if they dont like us, they can vote for the other party". But there IS No other party! It's the same basic party, one of them just happens to be a bit crankier than the other.

Other countries aren't exempt. In Canada there is between three and six major parties, merging, collapsing, re-merging, choosing unfavorable acronyms (Yay, Conservative Reform Alliance Party!) and so forth. Britains parties keep eachother in check, but the foreign policy hasn't really changed much since the European carpet-bombings. Now they just bludgeon us to death with culture, and act shocked when we rip it off. Whoa, different rant...

Of course the military despots of certain other countries aren't really moving forward, either. Sure, having one guy in charge really gets rid of a lot of red tape, it does tend to lead to black vans cruising around in the night and wives waking up in husband-less beds the next day, simply because said husband was heard to utter "Damn King Whoever". The old Argentinian treatment really cuts down on dissention. As the old saying goes, Power Corrupts, and Absolute Power is Kinda Cool.

Humans feel the need to gather and socialize, and I am all for that, I really am. Cities, even states allow for economic freedom and personal safety. But at what point does the empire get too big for it's speedo? Many of the Pacific Rim countries that have less than a million people also have no military, few police, no guns, and probably the happiest citizens on the friggin planet. This is mainly because they have nothing of "true value", like oil, gold, or cheap labor. There sure isn't much in Afghanistan, but it does produce 75% of the worlds heroin, and it has been getting invaded for over a thousand years almost without interruption. There isn't much in Iraq, but it does have a buttload of oil. (Oh, man, I'm not looking forward to the Americans finding out there's a trillion barrels of oil under the Canadian Shield, once we get the extraction processes working at a more effective rate, more than triple whats left in Iraq.)

In summation, I believe that people are basically good. Cities are a good idea. Interacting with the world around you is the only way to live. Electing people you don't like to do it for you is just fucking retarded.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Music Review: Monster Magnet, Last 3 Albums

As soon as I heard "Space Lord" on the radio one night while driving a technically-stolen car, I became utterly hooked by new metal. The song, while kind of goofy, was great loud metal, with skillful guitar and the inimicable voice of Dave Wyndorf. I went out and bought Powertrip, and didn't like it. I found Dopes to Infinity at a pawn shop, though, and LOVED it. Thus began my progression of Monster Magnet fandom. See below.

Dopes To Infinity - 1995

Without a doubt one of my favorite heavy metal albums, Dopes to Infinity was packed to the absolute brim with thundering, rocking, well-layed guitars, marching-beat drum-lines, and the scream-tacular voice of Dave Wyndorf. That trademark cat-screech can still come accross as the definiton of hardcore nearly a decade later.

Huge songs, most of them nothing more than guitar solos linked together with peculiar lyrics, make up half the album, paying far more attention to the rhythm section than most other metal bands. The rising, falling, cresting lead and rhythm guitars intermingle with tremendous skill, making this a perfect album to crank up and try to fall asleep to.

9.25 out of 10

Powertrip - 1998

It was only recently after hearing "Powertrip", the song, used in the commercial for the movie Soldier, did I dig up my copy of Powertrip. Vowing to give it a second try, I played the whole thing in my Discman. About fifty times.

I couldn't believe I didn't like before! The first ten songs are very similar to the far on "Dopes to Infinity", just compressed. Huge, meandering guitar solos have given way to short, sharp, brilliant musical interludes. Far more storytelling than "Dopes", it is said that Dave got a penthouse suite in vegas, and wrote one song per day on a steady diet of booze and casinos. He then brought the whole band in, recorded, and went on tour again.

The many drug and alcohol references are so very, very obvious that I doubt anyone would feel influenced to try either one. "I'm driving the tractor on the drug farm" might be the least subtle musical hook ever used. Despite that, the song "Tractor" has an infectuous beat, as do most of the songs on this album. It is impossible to drive slowly, walk slowly, or do anything slowly with this playing (except for the song "Baby Gotterdamerung", which might confuse the hell out of you if you just listened to every song before it.)

8.5 out of 10

God Says No - 2001

I had bought it when I saw it in a pawn shop, listened to it once, and didn't like it much. Realizing that I had just re-tried, and liked, "Powertrip", I dug out my copy of "God Says No" last week, and put it in my Discman. A few of the songs skip, but I'd have to say that half of it is awesome, fully what I would expect from them. The tracks have gotten smoother, glossier, losing the garage feel of "Dopes", but the same undeniable beat and rhythm are there. Dave's lyrics are getting wierder by the day, but if they make sense to him, more power to him, I say!

I am still getting into it, but I'd have to say that Monster Magnet peaked shortly after "Dopes", maybe in the middle of "Powertrip". "God Says No" is pretty damn good, but it is an attempt to recapture the magic of "Dopes", which was waning for "Powertrip", and is now mostly gone. Intellecuatlly recreated but spiritually lacking, "God" is a must for any real fan.

7.0 out of 10

I still have to go out and buy every other album of theirs, since I haven't heard their EARLY stuff, so I'll get back to you when I find it!

VERDICT: Go out and buy "Dopes To Infinity" right now, you freaking idiot! Do it! DO IT, I SAY!!!

Society Review: Money

Arguably the stupidest thing humans have invented since the inception of murder. I mean, pre-fixed-currency, human wealth was determined by what you could do through hard work. Land, a home, cattle, necessities... these were things ANYONE could get through simple hard work. It wasn't a matter of posessions, it was a matter of a person using his hands, and his mind, and his willpower to make life better for himself.

Nowdays, all you need to make a lot of money is parents who have a lot of money.

I know people who are hard workers, dedicated, and willing, who struggle just to make enough money to put $4 of gas into their motorbike so they can make it to work. I know incredibly smart, naturally talented people who are forced to work telemarketing jobs because they aren't sufficiently well-rounded or wealthy enough to go to college.

I also know people who are self-centered, self-posessed, ignorant of the world around them and generally offering nothing to the human race but a good tan and shiny teeth. This is because they have no jobs to go to, so they can hang at the beach. This is because they have enough money to get bleaching jobs to cover up their smoking. This is because their parents bought them a new car because they totalled their first one.

Money is no longer now in the hands of the hard-workers, it's in the hands of the people who are descended from hard-workers. I am working my ass off at my job and my home and it will take me 96 years to save for a down-payment on a crappy house, despite the fact I will be long-dead by that point.

A small group of people in a small group of states in a small country now control some retarded portion of the worlds resources, and will continue to do so simply because they HAVE done so. The International Fusion Project, for example, dedicated to bringing clean, free energy to the entire planet has been stalled because the countries can't agree who's land will be used to build the first one, and reap the monetary rewards.

Money is no longer the end, but the means. It is the means by which I am prevented from ever having enough time to be happy. It is the means by which poor people are kept poor, because they need money to get money. It is the means by which the wealthy distance themselves from reality, allowing them to spend three million dollars on a shore-front condo, despite the fact that it could also feed, clothe, and send every single homeless person in this city to college. It is the means by which the aggressive countries control the less naturally-bountiful ones.

On the other hand, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe money isn't the means... maybe it's the end.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Science Review: Air

In spite of being the major component of the world around us, most people don't even think about it. Air. Nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, and a couple other errant molecules of whatnot and whothere in each breath. Most people also don't even stop to think about the miracle of air.

Air, along with water, is one of the most castic substances in the Universe. Sure, a little bit of sulfuric acid can eat through metal in an hour or so, but it weakens. Air, given enough time, will eat through just about anything, especially when mixed with water. There's trillions of tons of it all around us, bearing down with enough force to actually keep us from exploding due to our internal blood pressure, and dense enough to actually melt carbon steel should it be travelling fast enough.

All in all, I give air a 7.8 out of 10 but it should really consider coming in more flavors.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Society Review: Kelowna

Nestled in the famed Okanagan Valley, Kelowna is often described by tourist handbooks and well-paid testimonial-givers to be the Jewel of British Columbia. Most of the town is lakefront, it's always sunny, and there's lots of money floating around. Technically, this is all true.

Most of the nice parts of town are lakefront. Everywhere else, although still expensive, has wonderful names like "Rutland", where people go when they can't afford to live someplace decent. The downtown core, where we somehow live, is full of $90,000 cars and $90,000 women. There are people with one child driving a Yukon Denali. There are post-midlife men driving penises... I mean, Porches. You know the cars that are 75% hood and 25% bucket seat. There's hundreds and thousands of teenagers with enough money to look like they think they're supposed to and not find anything wrong with paying $300 for pre-ripped pre-soiled jeans or a t-shirt that clearly doesn't fit.

Kelowna is a small town with enough money to delude itself into thinking it's the big city, and of people keep on believing it, one day it's going to come true. Naturally, we're leaving now and beating the rush.

Nature Review: Chickens

For thousands of years, domesticated chickens have fed us with their plump breasts, succulent thighs and nutritious beaks. They have entertained us with their blood-spurting antics after being beheaded. They have warmed our spirits by stuffing our upholstery with their feathers to keep our fat asses comfortable. Truly, they are a wondrous animal, worthy of our respect and admiration.

Well... no. Not really. How dumb do you have to be when a force of hairy monkeys you outnumber ten to one conquers your entire civilization, boils and eats your young, and then deep fries and tears you apart with it's vicious teeth just because it doesnt feel like eating broccoli? I mean seriously! You have sharp claws, sharp teeth, and the ability to jump and hover. Come on!

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Music Review: Clutch - Blast Tyrant

Fans of Clutch are often amazed at the vastly different sounds the band has. Listen to "Soapmakers", a happy hard-rockin nonsensical tune. Then listen to "Pile Driver", an incredibly crunchy, noisy and angst-inducing song that makes you wonder if it sounds musical purely by coincidence. Then listen to "Spacegrass", a huge rambling, bass-rumbling heavy-metal opus meant to be listened to in a convertible. Then listen to any of their blues-heavy songs such as Big News, or utterly random drug-based songs like "Willie Nelson". Listen to these, and try to imagine it's the same band, with the same skinny lead singer.

Blast Tyrant is their latest studio release, and some will notice the obvious similarities between it and the Black Album. Both Clutch and Metallica went from rough, fast studio recordings to extremely slick, well-produced studio-centered albums. Unlike the Black Album, Clutch pulls it off without sounding too pretentious. It is still undeniably them, with thundering riffs by Tim Sult (who still gets to layer 2, 3 or 4 guitar lines at a time, some of them either recorded backwards, ot recorded backwards and then put to music backwards yet again) and the skillful drumming of Jean-Paul, although bass player Maines is tragically underused, his unique leading style present in only a handful of songs (coincidentally, the best ones).

No longer "stoner rock" or "noise rock", Clutch has an album to appeal to those with more mainstream tastes, while satisfying everyone who still think of them as "the best damn band no-ones heard of but me."