I think about a world to come where the books were found by the golden ones, written in pain, written in awe by a puzzled man who questioned, "What are we here for?" All the strangers came today and it looks as though they're here to stay.

-David Bowie "Oh! You Pretty Things"

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day & Night (2010)

Traditionally, I have had little room for Pixar's animated shorts in my list of favorite films, but Day & Night, the animated short that premiered in front of Toy Story 3 was probably my favorite part of going to the movie theater that day. (I could also make an argument for the ending of Toy Story 3, but I didn't really think that the film itself compared to the power of Day & Night.) It seems that 2010 was the first year in some time that made me interested in such Academy Award categories as Best Documentary Feature (Exit Through the Gift Shop, which incidentally did not even win) and Short Film (Animated) (Day & Night, which also did not get the award). Perhaps 2011 can bring more interesting documentaries and animated short films, and perhaps I'll be happier with the Academy's choice of winners... It could happen, right?

Attack the Block Trailer

Animation of Don Hertzfeldt

Don Hertzfeldt is a highly respected creator of short animated films. His style has become influential in the production of a bunch of the best recent animated television shows (Aqua Teen Hunger Force, for example). Here are a few of his videos.

Arnold 365, Day 90 (Commando)

Banner by Adam Friedli.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Priest Trailer

I admit, with Josh Toulouse, that this probably won't be any good, but that doesn't keep me from wanting it to be good.

True Blood

There are a variety of reasons why you might overlook the hit HBO vampire drama True Blood. Perhaps you're convinced that nothing that Alan Ball makes can ever compare to Six Feet Under. Perhaps you're at your wit's end with this vampire trend and True Blood seems like just another Twilight knock-off. Maybe you've read the Sookie Stackhouse Novels and think the television version falls short.

I am fortunate (and also unfortunate) that I have not yet watched Six Feet Under, that I haven't seen a vampire show since Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and the last vampire I watched was Lost Boys), and that I haven't read a single book by Charlaine Harris. I am able to watch True Blood unmediated by these prejudices and I love it. It engages me on a level that only LOST, Twin Peaks and Battlestar Galactica ever have, and it deals with issues of race, sexuality and religion in a way that I haven't seen since I first read Uncanny X-Men.

Oh, and the music's fantastic. Watch True Blood already.

Friends With Benefits Trailer

This is one of the most promising romantic comedy trailers I've seen in recent history.

Religion Gone Wild: The Stained Glass Windows

Thus the wild-fire of idolatry now flies furiously through all the tribe of Dan, who, like the thieves that have carried away plaguy clothes, have insensibly infected themselves and their posterity to death. Heresy and superstition have small beginnings, dangerous proceedings, pernicious conclusions.

            -Joseph Hall, Contemplations

Idolatry means making or owning an idol for religious purposes, or worshipping it, whether it be a representation of the true God or of some false god. ... the worship of the true God in the form of an idol is accounted no less grave a sin than the worship of devils.

            -John Milton, Christian Doctrine

Religious superstition is not dead.

            -Thomas E. Miller, Portraits

While sitting in my "Religion and Violence" class I heard a Christian minister tell a story, and though my memory is neither photographic nor eidetic, I have made an attempt to recount the story here:
I was preaching about the woman who was accused of adultery by a crowd (John 8:2-11), and at the end of the sermon I handed everyone in the chapel a stone and said they could throw them at me if they wished. A woman spoke up and exclaimed that, after hearing this sermon, they could not possibly throw stones at me. The congregation couldn't have stoned me in the first place. Of course, I stood in front of the stained glass windows just in case.
The last sentence was uttered in jest, the suggesting being that breaking a church's stained glass windows with a stone is more evil to a Christian than assaulting or killing another human being. Though it was intended as a joke, I felt kind of scared of the joke's implications. I know that historically, and if we're being honest, presently, there are Christians who value objects, depictions and buildings more than they value human life. I believe that a joke like this would never even be told if there weren't enough people in the world who understand the impetus behind it in her audience, and the fact that this many people understand what it is like to value objects over living human beings is the reason for my fright.

When I was in elementary school a girl once brought an odd-looking book into class. A group of people gathered around her and began gawking at the foreign characters. It looked like the sort of strange script one might find in a book of sorcery in a film, perhaps even The Necronomicon. I remember approaching this girl and saying, "What's the big deal? It's just some stupid book." The little girl's face became grave and her eyes met mine and she replied, "This is the Bible." I felt sick, like the bottom of the world had disappeared from beneath me. The sound of children saying "Ooooooh" became a din, rising and rising in volume and intensity like the score of a Kubrick film.

This scene took place at a public elementary school, and yet everyone was convinced that my act of calling the Bible stupid, even accidentally, was not only something that would get me in trouble with our teacher, but something that would invoke the wrath of God. If children had more than a thirty second attention span they might remember me to this day as a heretic for what I said that day. It was commonplace for kids to tear down other kids with words, pranks and violence - I remember girls saying "Iew" whenever I'd pass by and boys kicking me and calling me names simply because I was fat - but it was forbidden to say anything negative about the book.

It is not difficult for me to think of ways in which religious objects are treated with deference. People wear crosses and stars of David around their necks. There are some religious traditions whose Bibles are gilded with gold, incredibly ornate. It is not uncommon for people to kiss such a Bible to show respect. Most pilgrimages revolve around the idea that certain places are either more holy in and of themselves or more holy because they contain powerful religious relics, possibly even the body parts of saints and heroes. While one may think first and foremost of Muslim pilgrimages to Mecca, Jewish pilgrimages to Jerusalem, and the mass pilgrimages that Christian devotees have taken in centuries past, this trend is certainly not limited to "the people of the Book." Buddhists have, for some time, travelled and given respect at mounds called stupas which are said to contain remains of the Buddha and other relics.

Even Micah, the protagonist of Judges 17 and 18, holds a great deal of deference for religious objects: "This man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and teraphim, and installed one of his sons, who became his priest" (Judg 17:5 NRSV). The New Oxford Annotated Bible describes a teraphim as "some type of household deities used for divination purposes," and though an ephod is usually understood as "an elaborate priestly vestment," in conjunction with the teraphim it is more likely to refer to "some sort of idol" (382). In Judges, David M. Gunn writes that ancient historian Pseudo-Philo identifies this teraphim as images of boys, calves, a lion, an eagle, and a dragon, "each appropriate for relaying the diving response to a particular type of request" (233). When I think of this passage I no longer think of silver statuettes. After the story I heard in my "Religion and Violence" class, I see these animals painted on glass, growing in beauty as the light shines in on a congregation. But now they have transformed into Biblical heroes, Noah courageously saving humankind from a great flood, father Abraham, Jacob who would be known as Israel, Moses the deliverer, Jesus the savior (probably in at least more than one scene), etc. Perhaps we can even throw in Constantine, Augustine and Aquinas, later heroes of the faith.

The following verse, Judges 17:6, casts the biblical figure of Micah in a different light: "In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes" (NRSV). This is commonly interpreted as a criticism of Micah's actions in constructing these images. It has been argued that one of the most significant themes in the entire book of Judges is that of idolatry. But can we view the importance of Bibles, crosses, and stained glass depictions of biblical stories as idolatrous in the same light as silver, gold and wooden statues of foreign or household gods? A traditional Catholic answer is that there is a distinction "between an idol, the likeness of something false, and a religious image, the likeness of something real" (Gunn, 234), but this is certainly not the end of the discussion. Many Protestant theologians have, with varying degrees of vehemence, proclaimed that likenesses, whether of "some fake god" or of "the true God," are all under the criticism of Torah commands against graven images.

Wherever you fall on this distinction, there is a discussion to be had which is less concerned with the proper application of doctrine and more concerned with the value of human life. Not to pick on the Catholics too much - I believe that nearly every religion or denomination has some sort of violence or violation in their pockets that can be revealed with enough shaking - but the extent of violence perpetrated during the Crusades alone justifies a critique of Christian attitude toward the value of objects and human lives. In Shusaku Endo's challenging novel Silence, protagonist Sebastião Rodrigues (based on real-life Jesuit Giuseppe Chiara) is forced to trample a fumi-e, the Japanese word for a carved likeness of Jesus Christ, in symbolic renunciation of Christianity. If Rodrigues refuses, thousands of Japanese Christians will be tortured and killed. Silent throughout Rodrigues's persecution, Christ finally speaks to Rodrigues in this time of important decisions, saying, "Trample! Trample! It is to be trampled on by you that I am here" (176). Endo's Christ denies power to the superficial act of trampling a carving and verbal renunciation, suggesting both that the human lives at stake far outweigh the fate of the fumi-e and that true faith cannot by limited by its superficial expression.

I read Endo's Silence for a course called "History of Christianity in East Asia," and while discussing this book there was a student who felt betrayed by Rodrigues. "Why couldn't he just remain faithful? Why did he have to trample the fumi-e?" she asked. This course was taught at a seminary which gave me good reason to believe that this student was not just a Christian but a future leader of the Christian community. I consider this Christianity gone wild. In the story of the woman accused of adultery, Jesus responds, "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her" (John 8:7 NRSV). In response to the congregation who is ready to stone an adulteress in a modern-day church, there is a part of me that believes a minister would respond, "Don't you dare throw a stone in the sanctuary. If you're going to stone her to death make sure you drag her out back. Oh, and stay away from the prayer garden. Brother Judd put a lot of good money into the prayer garden and we don't want it to go to waste."

Let's hope that part of me is wrong.

Arnold 365, Day 89 (Conan the Barbarian)

Banner by Adam Friedli.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Chubby's Burger Shack

Chubby's Burger Shack is in a gloomy part of Fort Worth surrounded by auto repair shops and 99 cent stores. The building is easy to miss. When you pull in it is never clear whether you're going to get a lube job or a fantastic meal. Chubby's is one of the many great restaurants in Fort Worth that is hidden in plain sight in a neighborhood you wouldn't expect to have anything more than an Applebees or a Chili's.

Chubby's projects the atmosphere of a small-town saloon. The people sitting at the bar all seem to know one another, a Texas variation on Cheers. After having a great meal, customers can ring a cowbell on the way out, an action that invokes a cheer from everyone else inside.

The menu has a bunch of choices, but I've never been able to see past the Big Nasty, a half-pound burger with chili, bacon, grilled jalapenos, onions, Monterrey jack and cheddar cheese. The Big Nasty is easily one of the best burgers in Fort Worth, and certainly the biggest of the best. The toppings compliment well the flavorful beef, and combined with a side of french fries or onion rings (both are really tasty) the Big Nasty is one heck of a meal.

Having recently become concerned with my health, I can tell you that Chubby's lives up to its name. My pants never quite fit right the day after I've eaten a Big Nasty. You should definitely check out Chubby's, but you probably shouldn't make it a habit. Chubby's goes well with a rigorous exercise regime.

I liked Chubby's Burger Shack enough that I've invented an advertising slogan: "Chubby's Burger Shack - I've got a Chubby just thinking about it!"

Chubby's Burger Shack
7618 Camp Bowie West
Fort Worth, TX 76116

Arnold 365, Day 88 (Commando)

If you ask me, this should have been the trailer for Commando.

Banner by Adam Friedli.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Super Trailer

Mama's Pizza

There are approximately 15 billion restaurants in the United States alone called Mama's Pizza. That's a 15% increase from last year. Though there are only 13 billion Papa's Pizza restaurants, Mama's employees make 20% less in profits than Papa's employees because America's full of patriarchal bigots. The above information is based entirely on lies. But seriously, there are a ton of restaurants called Mama's Pizza.

The Mama's Pizza that I am referring to is on Berry Street in Fort Worth, Texas. When you walk inside there's a really cool home-town independent pizza place feel. The servers are attentive and cool. There's a giant TV for watching March Madness basketball or whatever people much cooler than I am watch. (As anyone who has shared a hotel room with me recently can attest, I'd probably be surfing for King of the Hill reruns if they gave me the remote.)

As you may remember, I've been trying to overcome my pretensions Brooklyn-style and Chicago-style pizza are the only way to go. Like nearby Mellow Mushroom, Mama's Pizza does not fit into either of the main pizza styles. Unlike Mellow Mushroom, Mama's doesn't attempt to make gourmet pizza. If I had to describe Mama's Pizza I would have to say that it is like a home-style version of the kind of pizza you get at Chuck E. Cheese's, and while that description may not make your mouth water, Mama's Pizza certainly will.

My personal favorite is the pepperoni and sausage. (Pictured here, however, is the pepperoni and Italian sausage.) Mama's Pizza sausage is small and crumbly and it really hits the spot. Like most pizza, Mama's Pizza is good frozen, so get a big pizza and enjoy it for a week. After that, proceed directly to the gym and spend the next three weeks eating salads. (I just started watching my figure. Can you tell?)

Mama's Pizza
1813 West Berry Street
Fort Worth, TX 76110

More Portal 2 Trailers

Pre-ordered. Impatiently awaiting pre-load and release.

Sucker Punch on Fat Train

I went and saw Sucker Punch with a couple of friends recently. The first trailer made it look like visual dribble. The second trailer suggested that it might have a deeper story akin to Pan's Labyrinth. The movie itself was not very good. Whether Zack Snyder was using this movie to show off his craft and audition for other movie franchises or simply to give tribute to those people listed in the credits who recently passed away, the result was a bad movie. Fellow blogger and friend Josh Toulouse recounts our Sucker Punch experience on his blog Fat Train. Click here to read his post titled, "Sucker Punch is What Happens to the Audience."

Arnold 365, Day 87 (Commando)

Banner by Adam Friedli.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Arnold 365, Day 86 (Red Sonja)

Banner by Adam Friedli.

The Road (2009)

Whereas Cormac McCarthy's respected novel The Road almost seemed gimmicky much of the time, the film adaptation starring Viggo Mortinson was nothing but genius. We are thrown into a post-apocalyptic world with no political, religious or practical cause presented. The environment is falling apart and all living humans must fight for the remaining resources in cities and towns. As canned goods become scarce many turn to cannibalism.

The Road is primarily concerned with how a parent can raise a child not just to survive but to be a good person in a world where any society remaining is devoted to victimization and violence. These two individuals, father and son, attempt to keep the last light of humanity burning in a world of utter darkness. They are almost certainly doomed, and yet they carry on. The Road teaches an interesting lesson on good and evil that is not abstract. Good and evil are present in every human being and they vary in prominence according to human choice.

Whether one is in a chaotic and crumbling world or a seemingly ordered society, life comes down to what choices you make.

South Park

Sorry, dad, I was just being the voice of the generation.

I think I may have learned more from South Park than in any class I've ever taken. I've learned that both sides of any debate are usually ridiculous, obscuring any real solution in their battles. I've learned that the perspective of a child gives us our best way out, but that adults, in their obsession with arguing, tend to either ignore these children or convince the children to become more like them. I've also learned that when adults make stupid decisions and ignore their children, horrendous monsters attack and the children are the only ones who can defend the world against total destruction.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lizzy Caplan

Actress Lizzy Caplan. Like so many of today's comedic favorites, Caplan got her start on the TV series Freaks and Geeks. Since then we've seen her as Marlena Diamond in Cloverfield, Casey Klein on Party Down and, of course, as the lovely Amy Burley on True Blood. Lizzy Caplan is a personal favorite of Amy and I, and she probably should be for you. She's smart and has delivered a surprising variety of performances over the last few years. I'd keep my eyes out for Lizzy Caplan if I were you.

Hippopotamus Defecation

I don't need to defend myself. Hippos poop in a strange and interesting way, different from any animal I've ever encountered. Posting videos of Hippos taking dumps on my blog is something that I find beyond your reproach.

Taco Bell Volcano Taco

The seasonal Volcano menu has always added an interesting zest to the non-traditional Mexican (non-Mexican?) food of Taco Bell. Since I've devoted myself to finding great local cuisine I don't find myself getting fast food very often, but it is good to know that the Volcano Taco awaits me should I return.

Why You Couldn't Be Batman, Part One: Introduction

For years I've encountered people who said, "I could be Batman with that kind of money," and for years I've just ignored them, until one day I just couldn't take it anymore, shouting, "No! No, you couldn't be Batman. I don't care what you learned in Project Charlie. I know you're smart and successful and special, but you can't be Batman!"

The "I could be Batman" trend usually intends to reflect the fact that, unlike other DC superheroes like Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern, Batman is fully human. He has no super powers and yet he does as much good as any of the more powerful heroes. An unfortunate side-effect of this trend is that it reduces Batman's power to the power of money. As one of the most wealthy citizens of Gotham, Bruce Wayne/Batman simply buys his way out of trouble. This is simply not the case.

Because of the magnitude of wealth in my home town, I've had something of a chip on my shoulder for some time towards people with money, and yet Batman, one of the wealthiest fictional characters in recent literary history, is beyond my reproach. There is so much more to Bruce Wayne/Batman than his riches that I consider his money insignificant. For reasons we will discuss later, money is not important to this hero. It it is not already clear why it is ridiculous that you could be Batman, consider the amount of wealthy citizens that have arisen in the world and compare this to the complete and utter lack of Bat-people in our world.

In the next few weeks I intend to publish a series of essays explaining the precise reasons why you can't be Batman. Stay tuned. It should be fun and interesting.

Part Two: Those Wonderful Toys can be viewed here.
Part Three: Of Fists and Feet can be viewed here.
Part Four: Crime Alley can be viewed here.

Arnold 365, Day 85 (Conan the Destroyer)

Banner by Justin Tiemeyer.

Friday, March 25, 2011

David Bowie Aladdin Sane (1973: RCA)

1. "Watch That Man" - 4:25
2. "Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-1972)" - 5:06
3. "Drive-In Saturday" - 4:29
4. "Panic in Detroit" - 4:25
5. "Cracked Actor" - 2:56
6. "Time" - 5:09
7. "The Prettiest Star" - 3:26
8. "Let's Spend the Night Together" - 3:03
9. "The Jean Genie" - 4:02
10. "Lady Grinning Soul" - 3:46

While The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars is often credited as the best Bowie album and the reason David Bowie is a household name, I think that the album's greatest strength lies elsewhere. While on the Ziggy Stardust tour, Bowie wrote an even better album titled Aladdin Sane (or as Bowie has called it, "Ziggy goes to America"). Songs like "Panic in Detroit" point to this origin of Aladdin Sane most obviously, but it has been suggested that all of the songs on the album have some location they're pointing to.

Aladdin Sane is a story of "A Lad Insane," a young man diving into the abyss of mental chaos, a theme that is propagated by a musical interplay between order and dischord. The fact that this album was written on tour and much of its mythology gives images of a touring celebrity, one can assume that, like the Pink Floyd album Wish You Were Here, Aladdin Sane points to the difficulties of sudden success and its effect on the human mind.

I think that limiting an album like Aladdin Sane to one theme can be dangerous. In fact, I think that Aladdin Sane could not have been successful if it didn't speak to the rest of humanity in some way, people who will never become celebrities but remain, like Bowie, freaks, the people on the outside. There are certainly themes of love, lust, loss and disdain present on Aladdin Sane, and who can't connect in some way to that.

Bowie is the foreigner in America who both belongs (is from England) and doesn't belong (is an all-out American rock star, and what rock star doesn't belong in America?). His religious zeal for a transcendent love that fully welcomes desire breaks through opposing forces - citizen/foreigner, gay/straight, majority/marginal - freeing all of us to come out (not out of the closet so much as out on the stage) as exactly who we are.

The experience of "A Lad Insane"/Aladdin Sane is never far from any of us.

Arnold 365, Day 84 (Terminator)

Banner by Adam Friedli.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Directorial Disappointment on Fat Train

If you're a faithful follower, then you know that I was very excited for the March film Battle: Los Angeles. Aaron Eckhart (Harvey Dent!!!!) and Michelle Rodriguez (who has been spot on since they killed her on ***SPOILERS*** LOST) in a movie about an alien invasion - how can it go wrong? Well, it wasn't a very good movie. Luckily, however, my disappointment served the positive purpose of giving Josh Toulouse over at Fat Train an introduction to his post titled "Directorial Disappointment." Check out the post here.

Baltimora "Tarzan Boy"

Baltimora, "Tarzan Boy" from Living in the Background (1985: EMI).

Publication History: Achala Nabhastala (Unmoving Sky)

This is a particularly embarrassing inclusion in my publication history.

First, I am not a poet. I do not like to write poetry. When it comes to me writing poetry, I don't think there is any way to do it well. What convinced me that I should attempt to be a published poet, I will never know. It probably had a lot to do with being a moody teenager.

Second, I am fairly certain that I simply listened to the Pink Floyd song "Echoes" from the album Meddle. For the title, I was hoping to find something that sounded profound, so I used an on-line translator to change simple English words into exotic words from other languages. "Achala Nabhastala" is a really bad translation of the words "Unmoving Sky" into sanskrit using such a shady method.

Finally, this was published in a compilation of poems by The International Library of Poetry titled The Layers of Our Souls. If any of you have ever encountered The International Library of Poetry in your time, then you know that they will and do publish anything and everything. They do this in order to get those who have been published to buy their hard-cover anthologies. My family bought two copies of The Layers of Our Souls to celebrate my publication, but when I first opened my personal copy I noticed that regardless of how terrible my own poem was, nearly everything else in the anthology was even worse.

Because it couldn't possibly make you as sick to your stomach as it has made me, its author, I present to you "Achala Nabhastala (Unmoving Sky)" from The Layers of Our Souls (ISBN 0-7951-5055-5).

Duty Calls (Call of Duty Parody)

Arnold 365, Day 83 (Conan the Destroyer)

Banner by Adam Friedli.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Arnold 365, Day 82 (Terminator)

Banner by Adam Friedli.

Arcade Fire Funeral (2004: Merge)

1. "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" - 4:48
2. "Neighborhood #2 (Laïka)" - 3:31
3. "Une année sans lumière" - 3:40
4. "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)" - 5:12
5. "Neighborhood #4 (7 Kettles)" - 4:49
6. "Crown of Love" - 4:42
7. "Wake Up" - 5:35
8. "Haïti" - 4:07
9. "Rebellion (Lies)" - 5:10
10. "In the Backseat" - 6:20

1. I go to a crappy bar on Division in Grand Rapids, Michigan to hear some of my best friends spin some records. My buddy Elliot comes up to me and explains that he has been listening to this band that I would love called Arcade Fire. He tells me to look them up but I ignore him, assuming wrongly that Arcade Fire is an ambient techno group.

2. During Fashion Week in 2005, David Bowie joins Arcade Fire on stage to play the Arcade Fire song "Wake Up" live. I find out that David Bowie considers Arcade Fire his favorite new band. As a result, I finally give a listen to the 2004 album Funeral.

3. The first trailer for Where the Wild Things Are surfaces. It is a beautiful balance of Spike Jonze's vision of the Maurice Sendak children's book with Arcade Fire's "Wake Up" as the audio track. I show the trailer to everyone I encounter who is anywhere near a computer anywhere.

4. My friend Andrew tells me that I look exactly like Win Butler, the lead singer of Arcade Fire. I take it as a high compliment. Several others have noted similarities in appearance ever since.

5. I declare Arcade Fire's Funeral the best album of the 2000s. Shortly afterward, Pitchfork releases a list of the best albums of the 2000s. The top positions are filled by 1. Radiohead Kid A, 2. Arcade Fire Funeral and 3. Daft Punk Discovery. Though they gave Radiohead their highest honor, Pitchfork confirmed my hypotheses that Funeral was the best debut album of the 2000s and that Arcade Fire was the best new band of the 2000s.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Terminator (1984)

Reasons for my belief that X-Files was heavily influenced by The Terminator:

1. The alien bounty hunter played by Brian Thompson is similar in both appearance and function to the terminator played by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

2. Brian Thompson, the who played the alien bounty hunter on X-Files, played a punk alongside Bill Paxton in The Terminator.

3. Special Agent John Doggett, the agent brought in to find Fox Mulder in later seasons, is played by Robert Patrick, the same actor who, as T-1000, was brought in to find (and kill) John Conner in Terminator 2.

4. Later seasons of X-Files develop the mythology of super-soldiers who are part metal/part human, in much the same way Arnold Schwarzenegger's terminator model incorporates both flesh and robotic parts.

Gorilla Talk

Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)

Watching Exit Through the Gift Shop was like watching a good episode of The Office. One description of the film calls it "The world's first Street Art disaster movie..." This is because the film follows Thierry Guetta, a man who claims to be a documentary film maker but whose documentaries suck, as he becomes a street artist/artist whose art sucks. Compared to director and street artist Banksy, Guetta is an embarrassment, but at the same time he somehow represents what is beautiful about humanity. While he has seemingly zero understanding of the value of his own work, Guetta, through strength of personality alone, forces himself to become a celebrity, not only through the enormous art exhibition that he creates, but because he is the subject of one of the best documentaries in decades. Like a good episode of The Office, it appears that the embarrassment will never end, but amidst the awkwardness there are glimmers of a pillar of an individual. With hours of film to draw from - the fortunate side-effect of Guetta's documentary film making failure - Exit Through the Gift Shop is never lacking.

Arnold 365, Day 80 (Conan the Barbarian)

Banner by Adam Friedli.


I ain't talkin' bout no Dollhouse. I ain't talkin' bout no Full House. I'm talkin' bout House.

(Then we can dig it.)

Gregory House is probably the most interesting and best-developed single character of the 2000s, and the FOX drama House is probably the smartest television show week-to-week I've ever seen. House makes medical diagnosis fun, but that is not why the show is so smart. It is smart because every episode balances out diagnosis with complex psychological speculation and character building between characters who are each, in their own right, brilliant, people with dangerous minds forever in psychological battle, trying so hard to understand one another and how best to function in such an environment.

Sure, the show's openings and House's sudden realizations can get a little old. (Of course, I think that teaching the concept of epiphany in high school and college English got a little bit easier in the advent of House. Eat that, James Joyce.) But the show, and the massive brain known as Gregory House, are aware of these things, shuffling the show's own weaknesses into the interplay that makes House so definitive, so monumental.

In practice, my favorite shows of all time are LOST and X-Files. In theory, my favorite show should be House. (In practice, however, House is not too far from the top.)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cobra Commander for President '04

Sure, we already know who won the election in 2004, and regardless of who you voted for, you didn't get a chance to vote for a hideous villain who "once was a man." In other words, the American populace is disappointed with the results. Here's the campaign video you didn't see, where Cobra Commander promises to cut the $87,000,000 that has gone to the funding of unsuccessful counter-terrorist organization G.I. Joe. Most of us were forced to vote for the lesser of two evils between George W. Bush and John Kerry. Had we seen this campaign video perhaps we could have voted for the greater of three evils, Cobra Commander.

Check out Cobra Commander '04 here.

Gillian Jacobs

Actress Gillian Jacobs. You probably recognize her as Britta Perry from NBC's Community, but there's a good chance you've also been surprised to see her pop up here and there in films like Choke, The Box, and Solitary Man. I'm convinced that the clash of Community's Britta (Jacobs) and Annie (Alison Brie) is for some what Jack versus Sawyer is on LOST or what Bill versus Sam is on True Blood. Whereas America has been obsessed with the balance of bad boys like Jacob and Edward, Community brings us back to the original Betty/Veronica rivalry. Currently, I'm team Britta despite my strong support of Team Annie last season. I wonder if there's a web site devoted to this rivalry...

Amy Grant "Baby Baby"

Amy Grant, "Baby Baby" from Heart in Motion (1991: A&M)

Arnold 365, Day 79 (Conan the Barbarian)

Banner by Adam Friedli.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Paranormal Activities - Fort Worth Army Airfield

June 14, 1947 - William Ware "Mac" Brazel notices some strange and unidentifiable debris at Foster homestead some 30 miles North of Roswell, New Mexico.
July 7, 1947 - Major Jesse Marcel, stationed at Roswell Army Airfield, and a "man in plainclothes" recover the so-called "Roswell debris."
July 8, 1947 - The "object" from Roswell is flown to Fort Worth Army Airfield according to the orders of General Roger M. Ramey of the Eighth Air Force and inspected by Warrant Officer Irving Newton.
March 11, 2011 - Justin Tiemeyer, accompanied by girlfriend Amy Bolan and friends Adam Friedli, Josh Toulouse, Adam Knorr and Corinne Shady see an opening night showing of Battle: Los Angeles at Rave Motion Picture Company at Ridgmar Mall in Fort Worth, Texas.
Last year at this time, I was spending my spring break investigating America's great UFO mystery in Roswell, New Mexico and the surrounding areas. This year I found myself stuck in Fort Worth for my last spring break prior to the completion of my master's degree. While it might seem boring to be stranded during spring break on the campus where you go to school and without a car, I found that instead I was right in the middle of the setting of chapter two of the Roswell story. It just so happens that the UFO debris from Roswell stopped at Fort Worth Army Air Field (Carswell Air Force Base) before being sent to storage at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.

Last year I was still unfamiliar with Fort Worth. By March of 2010 I had only been in Fort Worth for seven or so months. I knew that Carswell Air Force Base was supposed to be only ten or fifteen minutes from my apartment, but I had never been driven by it and had never heard anyone talk about it. Recently, I came to understand that the air field had been shut down and that Ridgmar Mall had been constructed on the Southern end of the former Air Force base.

Within a week, alien films Battle: Los Angeles and Paul were released in theaters, and the movie theater where I prefer to see my alien movies is on the grounds that hosted the Roswell object for some short period of time. Seeing an alien movie, however bad, where once stood the best known alien artifact in human history - now that's what I call a paranormal activity. Battle: Los Angeles was nothing like I had hoped it would be, but amidst the tragedy of an unsatisfying fictional alien narrative I found myself a part of America's great nonfictional alien narrative for the second consecutive spring break.

Batman: Arkham City Trailers

Arnold 365, Day 78 (Terminator)

Banner by Adam Friedli.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

How I Spent St. Patrick's Day Eve

I could tell you about my adventures in champagne, cheese, and bread. I could tell you about my encounter with Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, Shark Attack 3, and Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus. But it would be pretty redundant, because fellow blogger Josh Toulouse beat me to the punch.

Check out Josh's post "Bad Movie Reviews: Spring Break Shark Week" at Fat Train now.

Arnold 365, Day 76 (Terminator)

Banner by Adam Friedli.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Monitor Files 2: DC Imposters

The Monitor is a DC comics character whose sole purpose is to monitor the universe for aberrations, universe-hoppers who do not belong in our universe. The Monitor Files point out individuals in the smash hit MMO DC Universe Online who clearly are not of this universe.

In the second installation, we deal with a series of characters who should be welcomed by the monitor: DC heroes. But these aren't the DC heroes that we know and love. The DC heroes we know and love are NPCs, whereas these characters are not. These DC heroes are universe-jumpers, and they must be stopped.

1. Artemis

While most of us are unfamiliar with the mysterious women of Themiscyra, but it is the Monitor's job to keep track of even the most obscure creatures of this universe. And the verdict is that this Artemis does not belong here.

2. Flash

This Flash didn't know which direction the bolt on his chest should face, so he just decided to have one of each. Any detective of worth could see through this one, and the Monitor isn't just any detective.

3. Huntress

Huntress is the Earth-Two daughter of Batman and Catwoman, and even if she's been retconned into the Earth-One continuity, this Huntress certainly does not belong.

4. Nightwing

Former ward of Batman, Nightwing is now a hero of his own. But there's only room for one Nightwing in this universe.

5. Red Hood

Let's hope that this Red Hood is the one resurrected by Ra's al Ghul and not the lame one who came back because Superboy-Prime punched the multiverse. Whichever one it is, it certainly doesn't belong in this universe.

Portal 2 Trailers

Arnold 365, Day 75 (Terminator)

Banner by Adam Friedli.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Guide to Video Game Lingo 5

1. pwnStar (noun) - someone who dominates a particular video game to the point of celebrity status, whose friends no longer like playing with.

"Let's leave this server. That dude's a pwnStar."

2. Camping (verb) - "The Act of staying in one spot in a map in a first person shooter video game to gain a tactical advantage over an enemy or group of enemies. The person committing the act of camping is the 'camper' and the spot on the map it is happening in is 'camped.'" (Urban Dictionary)

"That n00b's camping long hallway."

3. Patching (verb) - the process of updating a video game by inserting code into it.

"We can't do multi-player until Stephan's done patching."