Friday, October 31, 2008

Time Management

Oh man, I am having one of those weeks when I'm so busy, that every moment of time is accounted for. I'm writing this post in the, literally, 5 free minutes I have today. There is no point to this other than that I haven't blogged in a few days and feel that I should.

Here are some things that are awesome despite stressful times:
  • My dog Willow is over visiting and I love her so much.
  • I just got a new MacBook Pro. More on that later.
  • It's friggin Halloween.


OMGgottagoTTFN

Monday, October 27, 2008

London Ontario Zombie Walk 2008

I am of the firm opinion that the zombie walk phenomenon is the best thing to ever happen to the world. I'm so glad that London has one every year now. I managed to make it out yesterday, albeit as a puny human and not a zombie. Here are some pictures.









I love how every zombie had some twist or detail that made them unique. The girl above has a pencil sticking out of her neck, and that guy held the severed hand in his mouth the entire time.









The makeup on the one above was amazing. Every time I see a girl dressed as a zombie, part of me falls deeply in love.



I'm not a photographer and my pictures aren't the best. Check the London zombie walk's official site and the event's Facebook page for better professional-type pictures.

I love this one that someone else took:



And here's a closeup of that amazing makeup:



I so wanna participate next year. I think by that time it won't be so offensive to go as zombie Heath Ledger TOO SOON


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See also:


Movie Review: Saw V


Meh. Saw V is probably the worst of the five movies. Unlike a lot of horror aficionados, I don't automatically hate every new Saw movie, but this one was just bland. The few gruesome traps - the reason for these movies existing - that are featured in Saw V are not as original or squirm-worthy as in the previous installments. The majority of the movie is flashbacks and exposition that has you wishing it would just get back to the main story.

If they keep up with releasing a new Saw every Halloween, something needs to change to spice the movies up, because it's getting stale. Jigsaw's ability to perfectly predict human behaviour is already in the realm of the supernatural, so why not just have him rise from the dead so zombie-Jigsaw can replace his less-interesting method of causing havoc from beyond the grave.

Still, there are a few moments in there worth seeing if you're a Saw fan. I'd wait for it to come out on video though. Er, on DVD. Jesus, look how old I am.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

World Zombie Day

Happy World Zombie Day! I so wish I was able to attend London's zombie walk this year. I have a feeling it'll be pretty huge.

Here's video from last year's:



Here are some kickass pictures of zombies:



(Metrix X on Flickr has a few more awesome photos like this)



(via Poblin King, who has more amazing art on Flickr)



(via GS Imagery on Flickr)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Double Review: Silent Hill (The Movie) and Silent Hill: Homecoming (PS3)


I've always been a fan of the Silent Hill games. The first one used a limitation of game hardware at the time (not being able to see very far) and turned it into an atmospheric trademark of the series (oppressive fog and darkness). It was subtle and creepy. You could wander around in the fog, encountering nothing for long stretches of time, but what made it scary was knowing that a monster could pop out of the fog or darkness at any given moment.

When the monsters did start coming, each one was a major threat. The difficult controls and crappy weapons available to the character were pretty ineffective, giving the game the feeling of a hopeless nightmare. That oh-my-god-something-is-trying- to-kill-me-and-my-legs-won't-move-and -I'm-going-to-die feeling. The monsters themselves were creepy representations of other story elements, purposefully woven into the game.

The thing with both the Silent Hill movie and Homecoming, the latest game, is that both of them ditch the subtlety. In the game, the main character is immediately thrown into a creepy run-down hospital full of monsters. In the movie, the main character is in town for about 30 seconds before being jumped by a hundred monsters. Horror is about building up tension, and both of these Silent Hills fail in that sense. They are also less coherent. Like, why are there zombie nurse things standing around? Just because they were creepy in the game so they had to be thrown in there somewhere?

This artwork for the movie also makes no sense. The kid never loses her mouth anywhere in the movie. The only reason for this poster is "LOLOL get it??? It's called Silent Hill and she's silent cuz she ain't got no mouth LOLO LROFLOL!! !11!"

The movie is also comically bad in other ways. The characters reactions to the horror around them makes little sense. After finding out the road they drove in on has turned into a crater, being attacked by burning ghost babies, and shooting an armless monster that tried to cover them with goo, all they can calmly say is "I think something weird is going on in this town." Then there's Sean Bean, who spends the entire movie running around doing absolutely nothing. He literally plays no role in the plot whatsoever.

I still recommend both Silent Hills despite these criticisms. The game gets considerably better after getting out of the run-down monster hospital. And the movie may not have gotten the feel of the early games right, but it did get the look right, which is worth seeing. And some individual scenes are pretty fantastic.

I've got some more horror movie reviews coming up. Just watched Fright Night for the first time ever (I know, I suck), and look what just came in the mail that I totally forgot I even ordered from Amazon:



Ignore the sweet, sweet 2001 Blu-Ray for now...because that's friggin Troll AND Troll 2! Two movies on one disc! They even crammed some special features on there (trailers for BOTH movies!!)! As you know, Troll is one of my favourite movies ever, and while I haven't seen Troll 2, it's widely regarded as on of the worst/best movies of all time.

BE TWICE AS AFRAID LOLROFL!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Captain's Log, Stardate -314189.617328223

Today, in the bathroom, I glanced at the gap under one of the stall doors and noticed that there was a guy in there who had taken his shoes off while he took a dump. I could also hear the faint tinny sound of music playing through headphones. Not only is it kinda gross to take off one's shoes in a dirty bathroom stall, but is it really necessary to get that comfortable in order to poo?

A lot of people read while they crap, but I find even that strange. How long does it take to shit? Personally, it takes me no more than 5 minutes to pinch off a good sized loaf. Hardly enough time to get through even a short magazine article. When I do find something interesting to read in someone else's bathroom, I end up sitting there for 20 minutes until my legs are tingly and people start assuming I don't eat enough fiber.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go make a log entry of a different kind.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

of Montreal - Skeletal Lamping



of Montreal released their latest album, Skeletal Lamping, yesterday. I've listened to most of it, and it is wonderful as always. The thing about of Montreal is that they do not sound anything like anyone else. Their music doesn't fit a genre, it doesn't pay tribute to anyone, it doesn't try to be anything except of Montreal.

I've written before about how great they are. But if you still don't believe me, look at the track listing for their album "The Early Four Track Recordings":

1. "Dirty Dustin Hoffman Needs a Bath"
2. "Dustin Hoffman Gets a Bath"
3. "Dustin Hoffman Thinks About Eating the Soap"
4. "Dustin Hoffman Scrubs Too Hard and Loses Soap"
5. "Dustin Hoffman Does Not Resist Temptation to Eat the Bathtub"
6. "Dustin Hoffman's Wife Comes Home"
7. "Dustin Hoffman's Wife Seems Suspicious About the Absent Tub"
8. "Dustin Hoffman Feigns Ignorance of Missing Bathtub"
9. "Dustin Hoffman's Wife Calls in Detective to Dust for Porcelain Particles on Dustin Hoffman's Tongue"
10. "Dustin Hoffman's Tongue Taken to Police Lab Where It Is Used as Toilet Paper and Reading Material While on the Toilet"
11. "Dustin Hoffman Offers Lame Possible Explanation for Missing Bathtub"
12. "Dustin Hoffman's Wife Makes a Sarcastic Remark, Cuts the Head Off a Duck, Places It Where the Tub Was and Begins to Groan"
13. "Dustin Hoffman Becomes Indignant and Wets Himself"
14. "Dustin Hoffman Quits Bathroom and Climbs a Tree"
15. "Dustin Hoffman's Children Enter the Bathroom"
16. "Dustin Hoffman's Children Don't Enter the Bathroom"

See? Awesome.

You can get Skeletal Lamping at eMusic four about 3 or 4 bucks, or at Amie Street for more (but without signing up for a monthly thing). I recommend eMusic...there is plenty of good (and DRM-free) stuff on there for really cheap, and because it's really cheap, you can be a little less cautious in trying out new music.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Wick Snuffed Out

One of London's oldest bars, The Wick, was secretly smashed with a wrecking ball on Sunday. The whole situation is extremely sketchy. The demolition started just before a meeting planned to discuss the building's future as a protected heritage site. It was so rushed that utilities weren't even shut off, and there was still beer inside. It was left half-destroyed, with debris falling to the unprotected street below.

I've only been to the Wick a few times, but I've always had a great time there. It catered to a different crowd than the Richmond Row university types (e.g., not many places would feature Dennis Humble). I am sad to see The Wick die just as I was getting to know it.

I have no problem with the owner of the building tearing it down if that's what they need/want to do. But it didn't have to be done so sketchily. They could have at least waited until its status as a historical building was decided upon; if it was really just a useless old building, as many maintain, then fine, tear it down a few days later.

But dude, look at this:



I'm not sure when this map of London is from, but there's the Wick with its own stables, nestled among mills and carriage factories. I don't know if that sort of history is worth taxpayer dollars to preserve, but it does make its eradication all the more tragic.

People say the place was an eyesore. What? I took this picture yesterday, after someone painted "save me" on the side, but it just looks like any other old building in London.



Of course, now the backside isn't looking so hot.



I'm sure the owner has their own reasons for tearing it down. I do find it troubling that many Londoners support the move, though. Perhaps it is some implicit bias against the non-clean-cut image that the Wick and its patrons project. But screw that. I'd rather see 50 more places like the Wick than another bar pretending it's in a bigger city, or some squeaky clean clothing store that tries really hard to be cool, or whatever.

Oh well. All this sketchiness does make for an interesting story.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Halloween and the Meaning of Life



I love when autumn begins, then soon it's Halloween. The trees are half-green, half-yellow, and half-orange, soon throwing off the shriveled leaves that give the crisp air that musty fall smell and the sidewalk that delightful crunchiness. The temperature is just right; like a cool summer night, but all day long.



And Halloween - a bittersweet celebration of light and dark. On the one hand it's about the things that delight us - kids, eating candy, dressing up and having a good time. On the other hand it's about the things that scare us - horror movies, monsters, haunted houses, and ultimately, death itself. Halloween is about that grey area between happiness and sorrow that's strangely comforting to all of us.



I'm worried that no kids will come to my door this Halloween. That I've become an adult living in an adult world. I wonder, though, if we've really matured into these responsible got-it-all together versions of our child selves, or if we've really just gotten bigger and now need alcohol as an excuse to express our natural childishness. Maybe adulthood is the costume we wear throughout the year.



We call it "growing up", but really most of life is growing down, shriveling and falling ever-closer to the permanent holiday we spend a few feet under the ground.



So maybe life is Halloween. It's wearing adult masks to ward off the ghost of adulthood's inevitable end. And though this appears to be a morbid thought, maybe the strange joy we gain from Halloween is the same strange joy we should revel in all year long.

Friday, October 17, 2008

This is Why I Blog

.

My dear dear Phronk!
I have something gloriously odd to share with you.
I was skimming through your scrapbook on your blog today and I stumbled across not one, but TWO pictures on there that I've used as references for watercolor paintings in the past year. It freaked me out a little bit that someone halfway across this continent finds beauty in the same places that I do. -- Sadie



Go see:




Painting #1:



Painting #2:



Isn't that spooky / amazing?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

To Do 2

Technology plays a large role in my life. Here is an excerpt from my to-do list:
  • Back up all my research data.
  • Properly tag all my tracks in iTunes.
  • Decide between buying: A) A new Macbook; B) A new desktop PC; C) A car ; D) Hookers and blow
  • Incorporate internet lingo into everyday life. Say "oh em eff gee" when surprised. Carry a sign with "LFG" written on it when lonely. Say "I anal" when dispensing legal advice.
  • In conversation, whenever I mention a name, precede it with "at". E.g.
    -- I was talking to at Terry today and she is not impressed with at Deirdre.
    - Why are you saying "at" so much?
    -- It only links to their profile if you put the at symbol. Now let's go to at Starbucks.
  • Go back in time 10 years, say "I googled for Wii blogs" to everyone I meet, then watch them get confused.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Words to Not Live By

Here are some more words I do not like:
  • Nuc-u-lar. I know every English-speaking person complains about this, but dude, NUCLEAR. Look how it's spelled. Although apparently there is a rational explanation for all this, I would hope that the leaders of countries wouldn't use words that are in the same class as pasghetti.

  • The phrase "chomping at the bit." First, what the hell does that even mean? Second, whatever it means, it sounds gross. More like a term for overzealous oral sex * than for being excited about something.

  • Females named Terry or Deirdre. I'm really sorry if you have either of these names, but you should probably change it. Deirdres all have white hair and want to kill you. Terrys are older looking than they really are and have a manly face no matter how much makeup they put on. I don't know why this is true, but it is. Strangely, though, Terri as a name is fine, and actually kinda hot.




In this picture, Deirdre is chomping at the bit to attack George Bush's pronunciation of nuclear.

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* Alternative hilarious joke: "More like a term for ghetto circumcision than for being excited about something."

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See also:
- More words I don't like.
- Words that I hate.

Blog Action Day

Screw politics. Today is Blog Action Day, when bloggers get together to raise awareness about poverty.

I'll keep this short and sweet. We just had Thanksgiving, so let's be thankful for what we have, which is a lot. We may get down because we don't have enough money to buy a new Macbook, or we got dumped by a partner, or work is boring, or whatever, but it is worse for a lot of people. Just having a place to sleep comfortably and having enough money to eat are things we should appreciate every single day.

Blog Action Day suggests donating the income from blogs to poverty. My one cent a day isn't much, but if anyone reading this does a certain pushing motion with their mouse over a certain area of the screen above this post, which I am not allowed to talk about, then I will track the resulting cash, match it from my pocket a thousand-fold or so, then donate it here. Similarly, go click at The Hunger Site a few times. Also, consider, that if we have enough time and money to be reading blogs on expensive computers, giving a small percentage of that time and/or money to people who need it way more is probably the right thing to do. There are lots of ways to do that (e.g., UWO's United Way occurs at about this time of year.)

Peace and love and all that. Seriously.



Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Double Movie Review: Jacob's Ladder versus House

Since it's Halloween time, I'm going through my collection and watching a bunch of horror movies that I've never seen before. I didn't plan this, but the last two I watched - Jacob's Ladder and House - have practically the same setup despite ending up in completely different places.

Jacob's Ladder

Tim Robbins plays Jacob, a Vietnam war veteran who lost his son and has issues with his ex-wife.

He begins having visions and hallucinations, before seemingly jumping around in time whenever he is unconscious. He then spends the rest of the movie figuring out what is happening and dealing with his past.

While I do recommend Jacob's Ladder, be warned that it is not so much a horror movie as a psychological drama. The horrific elements, while awesome when they appear, are few and far between. It's more about the mystery of what the hell is going on, which keeps the movie interesting throughout. It also helps that Jacob's hot girlfriend spends most of the movie naked.

House

William Katt plays Roger, a Vietnam war veteran who lost his son and has issues with his ex-wife.

(No, not the House with the caustic doctor....though come to think of it, Jacob's Ladder sounds like a medical drama too).

Whereas the main character in Jacob's Ladder is haunted by his troubled past as manifested in flashbacks and barely-seen shadowy figures, the main character in House is haunted by his troubled past as represented by monsters who want to rip his fucking head off. It is far less subtle, and gets cheesy pretty quick. Once he opens that closet at midnight, fucked-up things just keep happening non-stop until the end of the movie. It's not winning any awards for brilliant writing or emotional depth, but it's a hell of a good time to watch. It also helps that Norm from Cheers spends most of the movie naked being Norm.

Both of these movies are about two decades old, but neither feels dated. I recommend both, but if I had to choose, I'd go with House. It's cheesy fun, with more creativity in it than most of this year's horror movies put together.

Soon, I plan on watching a movie that clearly owes a lot to Jacob's Ladder: Silent Hill. I'm also playing the latest Silent Hill game (Homecoming). I'll probably blog about both.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Food Logic, Volume 8: Coffee + Buttercream Icing


Premise 1: Buttercream icing goes good on cake.
Premise 2: There is such a thing as coffee cake.

Conclusion: Buttercream icing goes good with coffee.

This is honestly not bad. The icing dissolved into the coffee easily, with not a chunk or curdle to be found. A thin oily layer on top let me know that buttercream icing might actually contain butter.

A lot of icing is needed to make a difference to the taste of the coffee, but what a taste it is. Icing has a distinct flavour above and beyond simply being sweet; like how vanilla birthday cake ice cream (you can get it at Marble Slab) tastes way different than plain vanilla ice cream. Similarly, icing adds something more than just sugar to coffee. It adds that ineffable fake-yet-delicious birthday flavour; it's literally like a party in your mouth.

I give it TWO TONGUES UP.


See also: Food Logic Volume 7


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On another note...since I write about food so much, I'm thinking of starting another blog focused solely on delicious and not-so-delicious foods. Stay tuned.

Oh and if you haven't checked out my Scrapbook, be sure to do so. It is sure to provide several seconds of pure entertainment.

Sold

So yesterday, I sold that house I used to own. I went and cashed the shiny cheque from half the profit, then did what any self-respecting normal person does after happening upon some extra money...GROCERY SHOPPING!!!

I splurged and treated myself, since money was no object, and because maybe materialism and gluttony could help stave off the soul-crushing realization that all remnants of my awesome former life are now gone, sold, abandoned, and/or in the hands of other people.

It was a fancy feast, my friends.



See? Those are special occasion pastries. There are four different kinds, so it's like a four-course meal.

And to finish off this bountiful banquet:



This isn't as monetarily careless as it seems, because Ben & Jerry's was on sale; three for ten bucks. That's so cheap! It was at Valu-Mart, fellow Londoners. Get 'em before they're gone. *



* They are probably already gone.



P.S. My life really isn't as depressing as this post makes it seem. I've just been watching too much You Suck at Photoshop.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Fun With Words

It's always strange / hilarious when people talk in third-person narrative when they should be talking in first-person. For example, if I wanted a taco, and I said "Mike wants a taco! BRING MIKE A TACO!", that would be weird. Yet it happens. Bob Dole has a habit of referring to himself in third-person.

However, a habit I have never seen successfully executed is talking in third-person when one should be talking in second-person. For example, if I am having a conversation with Harold, and I say "Harold looks hungry. Would Harold like a taco?", that would be even weirder. And more hilarious. I think people should do it more often.

Another fun thing to do is to make it seem like you used the wrong word when you didn't. Like if you say "my parents really effected my life." Or "the thing I don't like about winter is its cold."

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Say Hi to Your Mother For Me

I have no idea why this made me laugh so hard:



Or this:



Is it possible that Saturday Night Live has stopped sucking again?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Lost:

Saw this on a post along the Thames today:



Weird/cute/sad.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Movie Review: Resident Evil: Extinction


It's October, and as usual that means we here at Phronk.com dress up the blog all Halloweeny, and turn to darker topics of conversation.

Let's start with a movie I just finished watching, Resident Evil: The Third: Extinction. I'm not a big fan of the first and second ones, but I enjoyed this one a lot more. I think the key to enjoying it is to maintain very low expectations, and keep these things in mind:
  • It's not a zombie movie. It's an action sci-fi movie where the bad guys happen to be stupid looking rubbery orc-zombie things. They could've just as easily been angry gang members or rabid puppies, and it would've been exactly the same movie.
  • There is no plot. You are only watching this to see Milla Jovovich kill stuff with big knives.
  • Because it's only a cheesy action movie, you can excuse the horrible CGI.
  • It has nothing to do with the games that share its name.

With that out of the way, it's actually a pretty good post-apocalyptic type movie that really has its moments.

I'm looking forward to seeing some movies that are actually good, though. Anyone wanna go see Quarantine with me? Or the original Spanish one, [●REC]? Maybe I'll review these movies all Mark Wilson style.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!11!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Film as Elixir


Ok so go read this review of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by critic Jordan Hiller and then come back here.

Since you totally didn't read it, here's a summarizing quote:

The film and those like it are merely the reflection of ageing creative people in hopeless search for an elixir.

I haven't seen the movie, but I do find this review pretty ironic. Most of it attacks the movie because its portrayal of teenage life is not realistic, is just a cheap attempt by its creators to hold onto their own youth, and was created to tap into the conflict between youth and adulthood that everyone struggles with throughout their lives.

The irony comes from the fact that the reviewer compares the movie with what I assume are the teen movies of his own youth in the 80s. Again, maybe the movie really is crap, but is comparing it unfavourably to one's own favourite nostalgia-enhanced movies while at the same time dumping on nostalgia really a good way to criticize it?

He does make a good point that movies are not realistic, and present an idealized reality that may only be an attempt to cash in on our obsession with youth. But is that a bad thing? Writers can deal with their own youth / responsibility struggles by creating fantasy, and people can relate with that fantasy when they see it put to film. The search for an elixir of life isn't hopeless; we can take tiny sips of it for two hours at a time every time we watch a good movie.

Additional thoughts:
  • Michael Cera may play exactly the same character in every role he's in, but he's still awesome.
  • I do not disagree that The Breakfast Club and Adventures in Babysitting are cinematic masterpieces.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Masturprocrastination

I'm having one of those days where I woke up sick (for the first time in about 10 months! I was beginning to think I was Bruce Willis in Unbreakable), and even though I'm feeling better now, I'm still using "I'm sick" as an excuse to do as little work as possible.

Also, I can see Best Buy over at Masonville from my office window. It always taunts me. "Come buy a video game and play it!" it says. "I think it's time for a new iPod and a faster computer," it tells me.

It's raining though, so I think I'll stay right here and procrastinate. But then my (old) iPod starts playing songs that put ideas in my head. "Hey Mike," says my iPod, it says "instead of working, why not compile a playlist of songs about masturbation?" Fine, iPod, fine.
  • Green Day - Longview
  • Mr. Bungle - The Girls of Porn
  • Billy Idol - Dancing With Myself
  • Cyndi Lauper - She Bop
  • Peter Gabriel - Shock the Monkey
  • The Divynils - I Touch Myself
  • Michael Jackson - Beat It


On a related note, Elvis Costello's "Pump it Up" is totally impossible on drums in Rock Band 2.

These are only a handful of songs off the top of my head. Can you think of any more? I hope to compile a complete list of every self-lovin' song ever created then publish it in an academic journal.

But until then, head over to my Blip.fm station to hear the fruits of my labour.