Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spotlight On: Van Morrison

If you only know Van Morrison through his hits "Brown Eyed Girl," and "Moondance," then you're not really getting the full effect.

Now, I'm not about to write some long form bio on the man - simply check out his wikipedia page for all that information. I will however, point you to some of his music and open the door to more, should you decide to pursue it.

Let's start off with the fact that Mr. Morrison isn't known to be the most personable singer. Take for example this performance of Brown Eyed Girl, on American Bandstand...

But now let's take a look at him giving it his all...This from The Last Waltz (and if you haven't seen The Last Waltz and enjoy music, you're stupid)...

(apologies for the quality, but the music and heart still comes through, I think)

So now, let's take a look at the 5 best Van Morrison songs ever, a list that can't be debated because it's locked in stone.

#5 - The cliched wedding song that still holds up even though everyone really does use it for their wedding...Into the Mystic

2 things about this video...

1. I love his jacket. If anyone has a lead on where I could score something like it, I would be indebted to you forever.
2. If he weren't playing guitar there, and you saw him walking down the street, you'd think he was a serial killer, right?

#4 Wild Night (and don't you dare reference John Cougar Mellencamp)

#3 St. Dominic's Preview

#2 Ballerina

#1 Cleaning Windows/Tupelo Honey

Seriously, I can't pick...

And because I stumbled across this while researching (unfortunately, I can't embed it) here's a live version of Moondance, with a couple of all stars in the band.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A highly cool, highly impractical weapon

For when you need to kill someone in a completely garish, yet impractical way, I offer you the machete slingshot...

I will be honest, if you asked me to sketch what a guy who made a machete slingshot before I saw the video, that's the guy I would have sketched.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

One movie; one take

The following trailer is for a Uruguararian (it's from Uruguay) horror movie based on a haunted house. What's so special about another haunted house movie aside from the fact it's from Uruguay? It's allegedly shot in one take...

Seems impressive from the minute + trailer...especially the lighting they had to use (candles, lanterns, etc.) and it really seems to set a creepy mood.

Unfortunately, there seems to be no mention of an American release for the film, but fret not; it's of course been remade by Americans, starring the Olsen twins'...younger daughter!

Monday, March 28, 2011

An Ode to Big Wheels

Of course every child growing up wanted the Green Machine; it looked completely cool and you didn't steer it with a wheel, you steered it with pedals. The Green Machine was named after it's completely awesome color; no cool big wheel would ever be caught dead using red and yellow. Red and yellow was for baby's and other tykes who couldn't handle speed.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mountain Bike Awesomeness

A clip from the documentary Life Cycles, a movie about, from what I can tell, biking. And even if you're not into biking, I think you will enjoy the clip. Some really cool video shot here...

For more information on the documentary, check it out here.

Surfing: TIlt Shift Style

Short (42 seconds) tilt shift video of surfers. I've yet to see this technique used poorly. Of course, I haven't randomly searched youtube for it either. I want to keep my innocence intact.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Seagalness of Steven Seagal

The past few days the Internet has been given this video of every bone Steven Seagal has broken in his movie career...

A. That's a lot of broken bones.
B. I have really lapsed on my Steven Seagal movie roles. He pretty much has a decade of movies I've missed out on.

Regardless, the above video is very good, and very nice, but does it hold candle to the wisdom Seagal drops on us in this clip?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tilt Shift Awesomeness: EuroDisney

Well, tilt-shift videos still haven't jumped the shark for me. Here's a cool one of EuroDisney...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Boogie Boarding a Dam

This video has its ups and downs...

Up: The quirky music they chose as the soundtrack
Down: The badassery of the upcoming stunt is a little diminished when they pull up in the Subaru.

Up: The badassery comes back up a little bit when they skid out to get to the dam.
Down: Then they start talking.

Anyway, it's shot pretty cool, and looks like a bunch of fun, regardless of their EXTREME ATTITUDES!

Monday, March 21, 2011

March Madness in Lego Form

This is both for fans of NCAA college basketball, and Legos!

I would love to see the Bryce Drew/Valparaiso buzzer beater (unrelated, I love the announcers in that clip, speaking about how close Valpo came, with the previous shot, before the end game drama), which I think is more exciting than some of these...though these seem to be collected solely of championship games.

I think my favorite part of the clip is the sign in the stands during the Michigan/UNC Webber timeout game that reads "This won't count anyway."

Friday, March 18, 2011

Celebrity Alumni: Moorehead State's own Chuck Woolery

I'm a little bummed; had I known Chuck Woolery went to Moorehead State, there's just no way I would have picked Louisville to win. I've got to do better research.

Anyway, as part of my penance, I'm including some Chuck Woolery awesomeness. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I'm sure you've seen this, but it's definitely worth watching again. And if you haven't...I don't think there's anything that can prepare you for it. Just click play.

Simpsons Songs...In Real Life!

This guy plays a nice little medley of Simpsons songson guitar...

Of course, there are about a billion he missed (I did some rough calculations), the most egregious one being...

Mildly related - when did things the Simpsons show inspired become cooler than the actual show?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Cliff Diving Redux

Why am I sharing this video again - for like the millionth time on this site? 2 reasons...

1. It has some new edits, including some cool super slow motion shots (check out the end credits!)
2. It's still super awesome and you're an idiot if you don't like the composition.

Th Popcorn Trick's March Madness

It's that time of year...a time when illegal gambling, shoddy work production and random bursts of excitement aren't just saved for those weird "sports nuts" in your office.

That's right - It's the NCAA College Basketball Tournament.

To join in the fun with The Popcorn Trick, go here.

Group Name: The Popcorn Trick
Password: Popcorn

There will be a prize. Sadly, the snowmobile trophy, which was denied by last year's winner, hasn't survived. But I'm sure I can come up with something comparable.

Good luck everyone!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Trailer: Super 8

When we first caught a glimpse of Super 8, the collaboration between JJ Abrams and Steven Spielberg, during the Superbowl, I was underwhelmed. The jump/quick edits and craziness felt too much like MTV and not enough like a good ol' fashioned movie, which I selfishly held out hope for. After that, I heard rumors of the plot involving kids hiding an escaped alien, which sunk me into a deeper funk (as deep as a funk of a highly anticipated movie failing to deliver can be).

But then this new trailer hit the streets...

Looking like a mix between Stand By Me and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, this trailer introduces some interesting angles and fleshes out the fact that there may indeed be a story and not just a string of explosions. Regardless of the plot, I will definitely be checking this one out. I can only hope that at some point during the movie a brilliant French scientist comes onto the scene to explain the phenomena.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Killing: AMC's Latest and Greatest

I have Dennis Hopper/Isabella Rossellini relationship with AMC's original programming. I liked Mad Men when I watched it, but not enough to stick with it (I do keep telling myself I'll go back, but I'm kidding no one). I've never seen Breaking Bad, but heard it's fantastic. I loved Rubicon (detailed here), and they took that away from me. Walking Dead I felt had a very uneven season (first episode was fantastic - the middle dragged - last episode has given me hope).

And now here comes The Killing...

Based on a Danish series, The Killing centers around the "investigation" of a girl. I say investigation because, if you watch the above trailer, it suggests the case may be a kidnapping. Of course, the title of the series might give away that teeny tiny spoiler.

Before seeing this 4 minute "teaser," I was definitely excited for this show. Though AMC callously destroyed 2010's best television series, I am set to forgive them and check out The Killing.

After seeing it however, I believe I have a few reasons to give pause...

I'm a little concerned with some of the stereotypes the show seems to be employing - mainly in the councilman's (or guy running for council/some political seat). In the video we see the ambitious, amoral young go getter campaign manager snarkily trying to use the tragedy for the campaign's gain. Which is bad enough - but isn't a political candidate's involvement in this whole case seemingly a cliche? I beg and pray and hope the councilman isn't hiding a deep dark secret about the "missing" woman.

The high school scenes felt a little forced too, right down to the bitch of a drug dealer that seemingly lives alone and acts all tough in front of a grieving father. Are there really kids like that - kids who can operate on a sociopathic level during a murder investigation? It boggles the mind.

I realize this was simply 4 minutes of a entire series, on a channel that is known for creating excellent television fare, so this by no means will stop me from watching the show. What it has done is elevated my concern; if this thing is a standard, by-the-book cop show, I'm going to be really pissed that it exists and Rubicon doesn't.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Comedy Critique: Jennifer Anniston's Internet Viral Marketing Foray

Not 100% sure this is a comedy piece that should be reviewed; after all it is an advertisement designed to sell things. But Smart Water is trying to be funny, so let's take a look...

Knee Jerk reaction: D

I like Jennifer Anniston; I think she is talented (with the right material), and I think she is more genuine than 90% of the stars in Hollywood. It's possible I'm naive and she has crafted this persona, but hey if so - bravo. It speaks to her talent.

And in the above piece, I think she is trying very hard to make it work. Unfortunately, I think the writing lets her down. Passing through silly viral memes from yesteryear is exactly what the internet ISN'T about. The viral community is always pressing ever forward. The stuff in the rearview mirror is done.

The "internet boys" represent such a cliched stereotype it has gone beyond tired and is now bordering on angering. Seriously, we get it - guys on the Internet are nerds. Brilliant.

The CGI is bad. I realize the budget for something like this isn't on the scale of Green Lantern, but if you're going to use a pure white, THX-1138 set, you have to work around your CGI budget. The puppies segment is beyond poor.

And that's the main problem. Viral marketing videos (either fake or genuine) are a tricky game. They have to offer something that is outside the usual. It has to be something people haven't seen before, something crazy. And this Smart Water video is not that. This video, with a celebrity works...

...because it stars a celebrity doing something you wouldn't expect her to. Our voyeuristic society wants to see it of course, and even though it's just a funny skit, it still resonates with us because it's unexpected.

The Smart Water video shows nothing unexpected.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Racing through the streets of Chile

The GoPro camera is awesome - small enough to wear on your person while you're doing extremely awesome/stupid things, it shoots 1080p video.

And while this video is sadly not at that resolution, it's still dizzying/hypnotizing/nausea-inducing enough to make it awesome. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Comedy Critique: Jimmy Kimmel Exercise Infomercial

Jimmy Kimmel has quietly (as quietly as a current late night host can be), created quite a good show, by embracing bits that have the chance to go viral on the Internet. It probably all started with these...

And now he has another video out - this time with some of the hottest female celebrity stars out there...

Knee Jerk Review: C+

While exercise infomercials seem like an easy target to spoof, and not terribly original, I don't really mind, because if something is funny, it's funny. I'm not going to take points away for the source material.


This piece is cluttered and ultimately doesn't have the focus a funny bit needs. First, it's long - over seven minutes. And 7 minutes is a long time to sustain one joke. And I think the writers obviously knew that, which is why they chose to continually introduce the celebrities. Obviously a good move, as our culture has taken a shine to celebrities poking fun of themselves. So that can obviously work.

First, the likes...

The premise is funny, if a little hackneyed. Kimmel playing a fitness instructor means seeing him and his out of shape body in various exercise clothes. It's worth a laugh or two. And the idea of "humping" as exercising works because of the celebrities involved. Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Biel and the others going over the top in the exercise parts is funny. I'd like to specifically call out Ms. Biel for completely going with the joke and selling it. Comedy works only if you buy into it 100%, and she did.

What didn't work...

I didn't get the malapropisms and other weird word jumbles. I didn't think it added anything. But that wasn't a make or break for the piece. The biggest complaint I had was the inconsistency of the celebrities and their attitude toward "Jimmy K." Both Johansson and Biel play it as if they're madly in love with Jimmy K. A decent premise and a comedy standard of swapping gender attraction. But then we get Eva Longoria and Emily Blunt who both seemingly view Jimmy K. as creepy - with Emily Blunt laying the groundwork for Jimmy K. being a stalker. That comes completely out of left field and way after the video has established Jimmy K as being a sexual desire for major celebrities - which confuses the character. Is he desired or creepy? It would be one thing if he were desired by ordinary women but spurned by celebrities. But to make some celebrities love him and others weirded out by him sends an uneven message that ultimately sinks the bit.

I also if you're going to have a lion, it needs to be a real lion. The cgi is easy to spot and cheapens it a little. And Lohan gets a good line in at the end, but seems under utilized.

I think the bit had a lot of potential, yet only a little was realized. I realize that Late Night doesn't have a lot of time to fully flesh out these bits, and it's an amazing effort just to get something like this made, but with just a little more time spent in the writing room, it could have been up there with "I'm fucking Matt Damon/Ben Affleck."