Saturday, October 07, 2006

It Takes a Girl to Understand

V - Vanessa Hudgens

To be honest, if and both walked in on me right now I would be able to tell you which one is which. But apparently both were in the Disney Channel’s hit which landed them both record contracts with Disney’s Hollywood Records, the label that has brought us albums from and . We’re not really talking Motown here, but anyways. Now one of the reason I can’t tell the actresses/singers apart is that I haven’t seen High School Musical for fear that is I got up to get a snack during a commercial break, Chris Hansen would be waiting for me in the kitchen. Hopefully just listening to the album won’t raise any red flags over at Dateline.

The first of the duo to get their album out is Vanessa Hudgens, apparently the brunette from looking at the album cover, with her album which I assume isn’t a roman numeral or a nod the alien miniseries from the eighties but rather the letter as she is called “Baby V” a couple times on the album. The album is anchored by the lead single Baby Come Back that oddly samples ’s sad love song of the same name and turns it into a dance track, but remains almost catchy. The album is your typical for pre-teen fair with songs about puppy love gained and puppy love lost along with your prerequisite girl anthem track Never Underestimate a Girl. But even though Drive comes close, nothing on the album is on par with any of Duff’s guilty pleasures, but on the bright side see does sound better than Lohan (which doesn't say much). Now I have a couple months to figure out which one is Ashley Tisdale before her album comes out.

Song to Download - Drive

V gets a Terror Alert Level: Guarded [BLUE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Friday, October 06, 2006

I Don't Care Whether You Like Me or Not

The Family Stone

The Family Stone is one of those movies that were just improperly promoted. From the trailer, it looked like the movie was a romantic comedy centered on a wacky family over Christmas; almost as if one of the children in had brought home a longtime girlfriend he had intended to marry. But The Family Stone was just rarely funny. Now unlike many comedies in recent memories, the problem wasn’t that it was a comedy that just wasn’t funny, instead the movie is more of a family drama that just has some humorous scenes in it.

The movie centers on (Angels in the Outfield) who brings his girlfriend (Footloose) home to meet the family for the first time as he intends to get his grandmother’s wedding ring to give to Parker. But the couple doesn’t mess well primarily because Parker makes her character one-dimensional like she was in a bad sitcom while everyone else is multi-layered. There is a possibility that this wasn’t Parker’s fault, but a better actress here could have made the movie much improved.

Rounding out Mulroney’s family are the parental figures (Coach), the go with the flow dad and (Father of the Bride II), who makes it very clear that she doesn’t want Parker to get her mother’s wedding ring. (Mean Girls) is the moody sister mainly because she isn’t getting any and the resident scene stealer. Taking after his father is (Legally Blonde) who tries to get Parker to get her fly her “freak flag.” Unfortunately they threw in two more siblings which only made things more clustered including a gay homosexual brother who also happens to be deaf (although his black boyfriend is a lot more entertaining) and an even more worthless pregnant sister who spends most of the time in the background with her daughter.

Feeling outnumbered, Parker calls on her younger sister, (Terminator III: Rise of the Machines) whom the Stones take to because, well, she is much more endearing than her sister. Things pick up upon her arrival, but I’m sure I would have liked the movie much better had I not expected to laugh while watching. So be warned if you check The Family Stone out, it’s much more a drama than a comedy.

The Family Stone gets a Terror Alert Level: Guarded [BLUE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Toss Up: Lost vs Veronica Mars week 1

The last two days saw the return of two of the best shows on television with and . So without further ado, here is the first Toss Up of the season.

Juliet is no ParkerNew Chick
Lost: Juliet
Veronica Mars: Parker
Winner: Veronica Mars

Lost: Jack is of his dad (when he thinks he’s nailing his wife)
Veronica Mars: Piz is of Logan
Winner: Veronica Mars

Boom goes the dynamiteLounging
Lost: Not-Henry and Kate have a somewhat relaxing breakfast on the beach
Veronica Mars: Piz and Veronica hang out in lawn chair while the Welcome Wagon dude gets busted
Winner: Lost

Liquor Problem
Lost: Jack’s dad falls off the wagon after Jack attacks him
Veronica Mars: Dick never gets on the wagon
Winner: Lost

Good to See Again
Lost: Carol Vessey
Veronica Mars: Vinnie Van Lowe
Winner: Lost

Parker with hair: I'd hit thatMusical Choice
Lost: Juliet listens to Petula Clark’s Downtown
Veronica Mars: Parker listens to the Pussycat Doll’s Buttons (also Four Fifty One a.k.a. the Unwashed played Socks and Shoes)
Winner: Lost

Harsh Words
Lost: “It’s not who he is, it’s who you’re not”
Veronica Mars: “You were just his beard”
Winner: Veronica Mars

Kate: yep, I'd still hit thatUndressed
Lost: Zeke forces Kate to shower in what looks like an all-female prison locker room
Veronica Mars: In their first meeting Parker changes in front of Veronica… twice
Winner: Veronica Mars

Lost: It would be easier listing who was in the episode
Veronica Mars: Weevil, Lamb
Winner: Lost

Take off the glasses, give him a shave and a haircut, that's Lucky right?Back from the Dead
Lost: We see Ethan and Goodwin in a flashback
Veronica Mars: I swear I saw Not-So-Luck in Vee’s criminology class
Winner: Lost

Lost: Jack graduated a year before his class
Veronica Mars: Veronica just started up
Winner: Lost

New Place and Already Making “Friends”
Lost: Sawyer is quick to call the other dude in the cage names
Veronica Mars: Ronnie irks the TA when she was all douchebaggy for avoiding spoiler warning to beat is record
Winner: Veronica Mars

Lost: If Kate is not Zeke’s type, that must mean he’s gay right?
Veronica Mars: Will Ronnie take Dream Lily’s advice and fool around with her boyfriend’s ex?
Winner: Hopefully Veronica Mars

Lost: The others gather for a book of the month meeting
Veronica Mars: Parker and Mac gather together to watch America’s Next Top Model
Winner: Veronica Mars

Not-Henry is really, um, okay, I already forgot his nameSurprise ending
Lost: We learn Not-Henry’s last name is, um, I don’t remember
Veronica Mars: Parker goes all Natalie Portman
Winner: Veronica Mars

A new season and Veronica Mars starts this one much like the last by beating Lost in the Toss Up, but was much closer this year. Lost was smart by spending the whole episode on the captured because the other main cliffhanger was less interesting because it’s safe to assume that Eko, Desmond, and Locke all survived. But the biggest cliffhanger was totally ignored. I originally though we were getting a glimpse of Desmond’s lady in the opening flashback, but alas, I was wrong. But we did get to see the Others in their natural habitat and it looks very suburban, yet in the middle of the jungle. How you get building supplies to the middle of nowhere is just another question to add to the massive list of unanswered questions on the show.

The three captives are separated and the guys look to be in left after sets from the horror movie Saw. With Jack realizing that he’s being held in a dolphin tank and Zeke’s joke that the bears figured out Sawyer’s puzzle in less time makes me wonder if they are held in an abandoned zoo. Was the Hanzo Foundation going to set up some massive Jurassic Park type zoo and they had to abandon it when “the monster” got loose? I’m still holding onto the warring faction theory where two entities (maybe Hanzo and the Others) fought for control of the island.

Then there was the dude across from Sawyer, he just screamed plant. His escape was just a test, and he failed. If he wanted to know how far away his camp was then make Sawyer go the other way when they escaped makes me very suspicious of him. But the big mystery was the dissention in the Other camp. I assume Not-Henry was the one not invited to the book club and it didn’t look like Juliet was too thrilled to be the decoy in the much rumored underwater hatch plan.

Then there was the return of two time Scooter Television Awards winner for Best Show, Veronica Mars. In one of the worst kept secrets of the summer, Veronica ended up at Heart College despite being accepted to Stanford. And if that was the worst kept secret, the second worst was that the first mini-season arc mystery would be that of the serial rapist Ronnie encountered last season. But before that happened, we got our first college level mystery of the week which involved Wallace’s new roommate Piz. Anyone find it odd that Piz is from Beaverton. Get it; Beaver-ton. You know; (Cassidy) “Beaver” (Casablancas)-ton. Oh, nevermind. Many great Vee moments following the mystery of the week with Ronnie speaking Spanish and futuristic languages, camping out in lawn chairs (such a college thing to do), and her anti-chick conversation with Mac.

Speaking of Mac, she also got a roommate, Parker, who quickly shot to the top of the list of contenders fore Best Cast Addition for next year’s STA’s. Her first scene with Ronnie brought back some fond memories of college (man I miss undergrad). Unfortunately it looks like we won’t get to see that Parker in future episodes of the show as she fell victim to the serial rapist. Too bad they didn’t hold the rapist storyline to the second or third arc of the season, because I would have minded see more of Perky Parker. But I wonder if Parker is supposed to Ronnie had Lily not been killed which means she might not have been raped either?

At least we got basically two years of classic Dick before he went on his downward spiral. And if you didn’t realized that was Dick in the Union Jack Speedo before he was unmasked then you must never seen the show. One thing I didn’t understand is why Dick had to shack up with Logan at the end? Did something happen to Casa de Killer II? But there was nothing more harsh spoken ever that his “beard” comment to Mac. I cringed ever time I watched it.

Whereas those storylines seemed written for newbies, the other storyline looked be more for the faithful with Keith chauffeuring the eldest Fitzpatrick to hidden away Not-Kendall. The ending here was more shocking than the other storyline with Kith between a rock and a hard place after it looked like Fitzpatrick took out Not-Kendall and left Keith for dead. Will Vinnie Van Lowe come to the rescue? Is Not-Kendall really dead? And most importantly, why did Keith leave his gun in the glove compartment while escorting a felon right out of jail? Here’s my harebrain theory: Not-Kendall was the one that hired Vinnie and is playing all the boys (and was wearing a bullet-proof vest) because she need something from Fitzpatrick before she reunites with her true love, Big Dick.

Now onto some superficial parts of the show. The new credits are slowly growing on me. The look of them are cool and may fit the show better, but my problem is they messed with the song. It just sounds wrong. Then there are the “pods.” Words cannot express how much I hated them. I mention back during my First Impressions of America’s Next Top Model that is they had tampon “pods” for Girls Tuesdays I’d be unhappy and those Aerial thing are basically as bad. Now if I were a guy who turned into the show for the first time to see what the hubbub is about, I wouldn’t have made it past the commercial break because of that. It’s really not a good idea to alienate half the population with a commercial. Plus it’s a complete insult to us dudes who already watch the show. Really I you need a guy to join the slumber party, shout me a holla.

Up next week on Lost, it looks like the Sayid and his party try to find the captive although how they think they will find them is beyond me. Then on Veronica Mars, Ronnie heads to sorority row. Seriously, how great is that episode going to be. Too bad Perky Parker, (presumably) won’t be in full perky mode for the festivities.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I Want to Stay in Love with My Sorrow

The Open Door - Evanescence

There have been a few changes in the band since the releases of their six time platinum debut Fallen. Okay maybe a few changes is an understatement with the perceived musical leader in the group, Ben Moody, lived up to his last name by quitting the band mid-tour only to spend his time working with the likes of (Nobody’s Home), (Because of You), and (Fastlane). Then during the recording of the new album, , Moody’s replacement, Terry Basamo had stroke. And if Amy Lee’s professionally life wasn’t in such disarray, her ex-boyfriend went into rehab just days after the release of the album’s first single Call Me When You’re Sober taking out any debate on whom the song was about.

But as and their massive hit Rumours have told us, sometime turmoil can sometimes be turned into a critical and commercial success. Granted they stayed together through all of that turmoil. The blessing and the curse of The Open Door is that is sounds much like Fallen. It is a blessing because it redeems Amy Lee after many people thought that the band would fail because it was believed that Moody was the driving force behind the band. The curse though is, well, it sounds too much like what they have already down and very little growth on the new album. But some points should be awarded for not retreading the nü-metal pseudo-rapping in their first hit, Bring Me Back to Life.

Despite the familiarity of the songs, Sweet Sacrifice could be called Going Under II, the album is definitely front-loaded as the back half at times make you look at how much time is remaining wondering how much longer will the album will go on. But Call Me When You’re Sober is the band’s best non-power balled as it takes the best parts from Bring Me Back to Life and surrounds them with striking piano chords and biting lyrics that could send any scorned ex-boyfriend into rehab. Then there is Lithium (not to be confused with the song) which tries to be this album’s My Immortal, but fall short of it’s predecessor’s emotion. Same with the album closer Good Enough which just features Lee on the piano. Even the Millennium Choir shows up on a few songs much like that last, but by the time they show up, the album has already become old hat.

Song to Download - Call Me When You’re Sober

The Open Door gets a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Evanescence on iTunes

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Nobody Ever Had a Dream Round Here

Sam's Town - The Killers

Of all the retro eighties synth-pop bands that have been trying to resurrect the sound in recent years, were the only ones that made songs that were listenable. The key to their success was they treaded lightly on the synthesizer sound while Brandon Flowers sang grandiose lyrics which where at heart kind of quirky. Some something happened between that first album and their follow up and that change can be summed up in a name: .

Now I would never be against anyone who would like to model their sound after the Boss, but when your original sound is far from it and works for you, I’m not sure it would be that good a decision to make that drastic change. Plus it hasn’t been that good of a summer for those making grand predictions for their next album (see trying to channel and claiming his latest album being the one that will make everyone take him serious). And when Flowers claimed the album was influenced by Springsteen, apparently he only listened to albums with “Born” in the title because the album sounds like it’s trying to recreate the bombast of Springsteen’s most commercially successful albums. So on Sam’s Town gone are the quirky lyrics, unless you count the absurdly titled Bling (Confessions of a King), replaced by stories of Americana seen through those that live in Las Vegas.

With all the Springsteen talk, the album is bookmarked by a pair of songs that sound right out of with the Enterlude and Exitlude with their lounge act feel. Oddly enough, that album doesn’t even start with the Enterlude, instead it starts with the title track, the band’s first attempted to recreate a Springsteen arena rock anthem. But then for some reason during the break they have a chorus start singing, “I see London.” Maybe I’m just too sophomoric, but I can’ imagine anyone hearing the song for the first time and not think, “I see France” will be the next line.

There is a section in the middle of the album where the band goes back to its roots with eighties sounding songs that are more than Springsteen starting with For Reasons Unknown, Read My Mind, Bones, and My List but are missing the fun lyrics that set the band apart from other bands of the genre, past and present. Bones itself is a morbidly creepy song which sentiment will most like only be increased by the Tim Burton directed video. But in the middle is the closest song the band comes to anything on Hot Fuss with Uncle Johnny. The crushing guitars of the song suggest something darker than the band has ever done and definitely doesn’t come from Springsteen but the choir at the end is reminiscent of the one at the end of All These Things I’ve Done. Unfortunately the band doesn’t hide the fact the rest of the album is mediocre at best.

Song to Download - Uncle Johnny

Sam’s Town gets a Terror Alert Level: Guarded [BLUE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

The Killers on iTunes

Monday, October 02, 2006

First Impressions: Heroes

Ali LarterThere is a good chance that I was the last person to see Heroes. I wasn’t one of the lucky ones that got to see it at Comic-Con (on account that I wasn’t there at all) nor did I get the special code to view it a month early on iTunes. Then this past Monday I was too busy with the Veronica Mars Press Conference (see ) to watch the premiere. Then Tuesday is my massively long class so I didn’t get to see the rebroadcast. And I have much better thing to do than watch the Sci-Fi channel on Friday night when they showed it once again. So instead I watched it this weekend on NBC’s streaming site which doesn’t have any cool name like other channels.

Now I can explain the characters and their abilities but I won’t for two reasons, there a good chance you already know and secondly, gave a better description than I could ever com up with:

The guy from Tokyo discovers he can teleport himself, just like Nightcrawler. A cheerleader discovers she can heal herself, just like Wolverine. A cop discovers he can read minds, just like Professor X. A nurse thinks he might be able to fly, just like Storm. An artist thinks he can see the future, just like Destiny. The stripper can kill people by summoning a dark psychic force, just like Phoenix.

The Asian DudeYep, on the surface, the show seems like a blatant rip-off of the , whom the Asian dude even name drops, but without the cool costumes and more importantly without any archvillains (or are there some). And X-Men may not be the only “inspiration” as the main characters crossing paths even though some are in different time zones has a very during flashbacks feel to it. And didn’t Surface center around a cast that didn’t actually know each other when the show started? And what happened to that show? Of course when I first heard about the show my first thought was the short lived Courtney Cox show (that I had to search imdb to find) Misfits of Science. But you know something’s obscure if they don’t even cover it on any of the I Love the 80’s.

Hayden PanettiereBut what hurts the show is the characters in the massive cast are poorly written and are executed even worse by the actors. Aside from the Asian dude, none of the characters are worth caring about or at all entertaining. And the Asian dude can get old real quick if he doesn’t learn English soon. I watch television to avoid reading. The poor casting is highlighted who single handedly ruined America Dreams as well as headlining The Bedford Diaries. Seriously, how bad do you have to be to only get a half a season on The WB? Then there is , who is best known for bringing the world the whip-cream bikini, so she is excused for her very dry performance and a webcam stripper. The cast is rounded out by the bland (Bring it On 3, yes there up to three of them, don't ask when the second one actually happened) as the bland cheerleader and two ethnic guys who I have yet to be able to tell apart yet. Then there is who gets most of his work because he knows J.J. Abrams has yet to show up yet.

But among the bad writing and acting, the biggest crime against humanity for Heroes is that they relegated to just a dude in a coma without any lines. C’mon, this is Shaft, he should be out having sex with white woman and being an all around bad mother… well maybe I should just shut my mouth. But Shaft should be denigrated like this.

Verdict: After seeing the episode and all the reviews that are extremely hot or cold with very little in the middle, I understand the deviation. The positive reviews are coming from comic-book nerds while the negative one comes from fans of television. So figuring out which side of the fence you reside on will most likely dictate whether you will watch or not. Maybe it was because Heroes was disappointing and Runaway was much better than I expected, but Runaway (see my ) may be the better new show. Heroes airs Mondays on NBC at 9:00 and you can stream the latest episode on the website or buy it on iTunes (see below).

Apple iTunes

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Life Is Like a Box of Chocolates…

Forrest Gump

Back when I first got a DVD player, there were two movies on my shopping list my next trip to Best Buy, the movie that spawned the title of this blog, and the other being Forrest Gump which is this month’s induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame. Being a huge history buff, the latter movie was right up my alley as the title character traveled through the decades and somehow taking parts in some of the biggest events and meeting everyone from Beatles to presidents. All along the journey we were all captivated by portal of the simple man.

Even though Hanks could have carried the movie all by himself, it’s the surrounding characters that made the movie more memorable most of which were introduced to us during Forest’s tour of duty in Vietnam. The equally simple minded Bubba became the yin to Gump’s yang and gives the most interesting monologue on shrimp ever. Then there’s Lieutenant Dan who continues to bump into Gump throughout the movie whether he likes it or not. Of course this was also the breakout role as he totally hit his mark as Gump’s legless wingman for the later half of the movie.

But with all the passing buddies, the movie is still a love story at heart with Forrest and Jenny. (now Penn) brilliantly plays Jenny switching between the girl next door and the girl next door that ends up in Playboy. And some of the best lines come from the two interesting; who at some point of their life said some variation of “Run Forrest run” or “I think I ruined your roommate’s towel”? Another big part of the movie was the soundtrack. At the time the movie came out, I still hadn’t dove that deep into musical history yet, so the movie helped me discover new tunes. Like at the time, I thought Lynyrd Skynyrd only had one song, but I now realize they only have two, granted the second one being a song they like to play in concert for forty-five minutes.

The movie even inspired me to pick up the Winston Groom book it was based on. There were plenty of discrepancies between the two including Forrest being 300-pound plus in the book and Jenny makes it through it too (although she does bite the dust early in the sequel Gump & Co.). And there many more adventures that didn’t make the movie either, not that we will see a movie sequel anytime soon as Groom thought he was short-changed from the profits of the movie. He even starts off the book’s sequel by having have Gump warn people never let anyone make a movie on your life.