Category: Diversions

Are you not entertained? If it plays on a screen or emanates from speakers, we’ll cover it.

Jonesy’s Random Movie Review #1

I’m hoping that this new segment is both entertaining and intriguing enough to bring back volume to the Thirdand7 family. It’s proven to be a little more difficult than I imagined to keep content flowing, but I’m hoping to make this a weekly edition.

For Christmas in 2010 I received Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide, where he provides reviews and ratings on more than 17,000 movies. Now the fact that this man has seen 17,000 movies is amazing itself. I’m going to randomly select a movie from his collection and provide my own review (if I’ve seen it of course). Today’s Entry:

Bubba Ho-Tep: (2002) Starring: Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis
Chances are you probably have never even heard of this movie. Chances are you’d also never think about watching this movie. It’s a B Movie to the fullest. The plot is hokey, the stars are C-List to most people, and there was little to no promotion from the studio. To a film buff, Bruce Campbell is a God. He is THE greatest cult actor of all time, starring in The Evil Dead Trilogy and numerous other low-budget movies and TV shows. In Bubba Ho-Tep, Bruce stars as an elderly Elvis Presley who has been hiding in an old folks home for years. His only friend is John F. Kennedy (Ossie Smith), a black man who claims to be the murdered President; as part of the cover up, the government died him brown. As you can tell from that setup, this movie is not playing in the realm of reality.

Here’s the best part: while living at the old folks home, people start dying, which to the normal person does not appear to be a big deal as most residents are on their deathbed. But to Elvis and JFK, they notice that the deaths are not what they appear to be; they are in fact murder. The duo discover that an ancient mummy has been resurrected from the nearby museum and has stumbled upon the retirement community. Elvis and JFK are the only two people who can stop the mummy and put an end to it’s murderous ways.

The movie is hokey beyond belief, but it’s the rapport of Campbell and Davis that saves the film. With other actors, the characters could have simply been thrown up on the screen in a slapstick way. Campbell fully embodies Elvis and breathes humor and honesty into his role. Davis is so convincing as JFK, that you actually believe his story of being the tortured President. In the end, you are right by their side, rooting for them to pull off the impossible.

Leonard Maltin’s Grade: B
Jonesy’s Grade: C+

In Cinemas: The Hunger Games

First Things First- THIS IS NOT TWILIGHT. THIS IS NOTHING LIKE TWILIGHT. IF YOU THINK THIS IS TWILIGHT YOU ARE AN IGNORANT HUMAN BEING.

Okay. Yes this is a movie based on a Young Adult novel series; but it’s not a sappy love triangle story between fictional creatures. The Hunger Games is a story about a girl leading a rebellion against a corrupt capital regime who just so happens to have 2 boys in love with her. In my opinion, and since it’s my blog post it doesn’t matter, The Hunger Games has more in common with Braveheart than Twilight. Yeah, I just said it.

The last fiction book I read was…I couldn’t even tell you. But once I discovered The Hunger Games, I read all 3 in 2 months, which is like a miracle for me. Did I read it simply because I knew there was a movie coming out? Probably, but I sure am glad I did. The film version is absolutely faithful to the book, with some minor omissions and additions that help move the story along. First off, Jennifer Lawrence is my new crush; she can throw me around any day. There is no other actress in Hollywood that could have played Katniss, that’s an absolute fact. She completely embodies the character from the pages and brings the exact amount of sincerity and roughness needed for The Girl On Fire. In terms of the other casting, I’m a big Josh Hutcherson fan; I’m not even sure why. I think he was perfectly cast as Peeta. Baby Hemsworth (Liam, Thor’s Brother) is sufficient as Gale in the 10 mins of screen time he has in volume 1. Woody Harrelson is a decent Haymitch, the drunken sole victor from District 12.

If you don’t know about the Hunger Games, then you probably don’t care about this review or even seeing it. Everyone I’ve talked to that saw the film loved it. This is an action movie. It’s a movie about kids being forced to kill each other in a televised event for the enjoyment of their government. It’s a minor love story, in between Tracker Jackers and Muttations. I cannot wait for Catching Fire, December 2013.

Overall Grade: A-

The best music you’ve ever heard (by someone you actually know)

So this is where I briefly indulge in a little bit of shameless self-promotion.  As some of you (likely a very few) may know, February is the month during which The Wire (an indie newspaper based out of Portsmouth, NH) hosts the RPM Challenge.  The challenge is essentially this: you record and produce an album’s-worth (at least 10 songs and/or 35 minutes) of original music in the 28 days of February.  It’s not a contest and there are no “winners” or “prizes” (hence the use of the word “challenge” as opposed to, say, “contest”), and there is no enforcement on the time period outside of the Honor System, for the type of people – myself included – that still practice such things.  Nonetheless, the Challenge has built up quite a following since it’s inception in 2006, with just under 2000 bands/artists taking part this year alone.  That’s a lot of music, all independently produced.  The bigwigs at Warner Music Group are probably all grinding their teeth and pulling out their hair right about now, and rightly so!  Your Evil Empire cannot last forever….

As you may have inferred by now (and for those of you who know me and were wondering exactly what rock I’ve been hiding under for the last month or so), I participated in the Challenge this year, which happens to be my second year in a row doing so.  For those of you actually interested in such things (all five of you), you can hear both albums on my official RPM Jukebox page.  I recommend listening with a good pair of earmuff-style headphones (or an actual component stereo hi-fi system, if people other than me still have such things) for best sound reproduction and that “Pink Floyd-esque” experience – though I don’t claim my music is nearly as good or complex as Pink Floyd’s (blasphemy!).  Further, for those of you that are true connoisseurs (read “crazy enough to pay money for such a thing”), you can purchase this year’s album (and preview the amazing album artwork done by my lovely fiancée) here.  Now, before you get all uppity because I’ve seemingly just threatened your wallet with castration, consider these few points:  First off, it’s only $4, which is about what you spend on your quad grande lowfat caramel white mocha every morning – in other words, not that much, and a hell of a lot less calories.  Secondly, at five songs for $4, it’s cheaper than iTunes’ standard 99¢ per song, and you get an actual CD with jewel case and artwork, not just some crappy .m4a’s that are a real bitch to convert into non-proprietary format if you actually want to put them on your (non-Apple) digital media player.  Thirdly, I’ve got a wedding to finance this summer and I really need the cash, so have a heart already!  You wouldn’t stand between a man and true love, would you?  Would you?!

That’s a rhetorical question, by the way.

Now before this post devolves into complete and utter narcissism (too late, you say?), I’d like to take a minute and refer you guys to some other amazing music by someone you may actually know: namely, my brother Adam.  He’s the one that got me started on the whole RPM Challenge in the first place, having taken part in it every year since it’s been in existence.  He was actually going to the UNH in Durham, NH (just a hop, skip, and jump away from Portsmouth) when the Challenge got started, which means he knew about it before it was cool; I think that makes him like a Second Level Obscure Music Demigod or something to you hipsters.  Of course, I’m being facetious here; labeling and ranking things by their level of obscurity in pop culture is so un-hipsterlike…  Yeah.  Anyway, despite the fact that he’s my younger brother, and therefore inherently inferior to me in every way, his music totally blows me away.  You can find his more acoustically-minded music through his acoustichewy project, while his more electric/experimental stuff can be found via his on-again, off-again band, The Fringe.  Both projects are completely amazing and well worth the listen.

Also, if you’re feeling adventurous, I definitely recommend searching the jukebox archives.  There is TONS of music in there for just about every taste.  You’re bound to find something you enjoy.

So I guess that’s all I’ve got.  If you are totally awesome and have great taste in music, you’ll check it out.  If you’re complete losers and Philistines, you won’t and I’ll cry myself to sleep every night for a month like a true Tortured Artist.  Either way, it should be entertaining, yeah?

In Cinemas: Chronicle

Let me tell you about the best under the radar film I’ve ever seen. Chronicle is that movie.

6 months ago nobody knew about this “found footage” superhero movie set in little old Seattle, WA. Now, Chronicle has captured the attention of geeks and critics alike, so much so that Entertainment Weekly gave it an A-. After seeing Chronicle today, I completely agree with the grading.

Chronicle is the unlikely story of 3 high school students stumbling upon an alien-like artifact in the woods. That interaction gives them telekinetic powers that allow them to move objects with their minds. Eventually they hone their skills to the point where they obtain the ability to fly. There is a fantastic sequence where the guys play a game of catch in the clouds. The “found footage” aspect is helped greatly by this gift, as the camera is treated as an object that can be controlled by their mind.

I’m not gonna go too much into the details of the plot, because I think the mystery of it all is one of the great aspects that make the film work. The special effects are fantastic and blend in with the real world action so well that you believe what you are seeing. Chronicle is by far the best surprise in years.

Overall Grade: A-

In defense of U2

I am going to stick my neck out there and offer an unpopular opinion, at least unpopular to speak aloud: I like U2. A lot.

No. I do not think they are not the greatest band ever. But they are pretty awesome. Feel free to disagree. That’s one reason music is so awesome, there is so much of it.

Whether you like them or not, you cannot deny that they are the biggest band in music right now, and have been for, oh, I don’t know 20 years. They sell out every show in every country. Their albums sell as fast as they can be made. They have 12 albums which have sold 180 million copies (60 million more, or so, than Dylan). That’s insane. More Grammys than anyone else.

Here are the 7 reasons I like U2:

  1. They are audacious – the most expensive, and most successful tour, ever – 7million+ tickets, 110 sold out shows and literally hundreds of semis to move it around
  2. The lyrics matter – drop the music and the words are still awesome.
  3. They stick to who they are – a little strange, and kind of out there sometimes, but they embrace it.
  4. The Edge – uses a different guitar on every song on stage; also, this
  5. Causes – all bands should have one, and support it, quietly
  6. Innovation – yes they stick to who they are, but they also innovate
  7. Producers – the band has worked with Eno and Danger Mouse, just to name a couple

In Cinemas: The Adventures of Tintin

 It’s no secret that many Americans thought this movie was about a K-9 Cop. Tintin is not a well known character in the States; but he’s huge in Europe.

 Steven Speilberg and Peter Jackson have joined forces to bring the pointy-haired ginger to the big screen using motion-capture technology: fancy word for animation. There are many behind the scene aspects of this film that intrigued me to begin with: Speilberg/Jackson connection, Screenplay by Edgar Wright/Joe Cornish (The team behind Shaun of the Dead/Hot Fuzz), the cast which includes Jamie Bell, Daniel Craig, Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.

 I’m not an advocate for 3D, in my opinion it’s only been done correctly 2 times: Avatar and Tintin. After the first 10 minutes of the film you forget that you’re watching what is essentially a 3D CGI film. The animation is amazing, the action sequences are seemless and the story is reminiscent of Indiana Jones. There is one sequence in particular that was just mesmerizing: the downhill motorcycle escape captured in 1 tracking shot.

The Adventures of Tintin blew me away, it probably helped that my expectations were not insanely high for the film. As loyal readers already know, I have named Tintin my 3rd Favorite Film of 2011. Definately worth seeing.

Overall Grade: B+

Recappin Top Chef: Everything’s Bigger in Texas

It’s that time again: Top Chef is back on the air. I personally have been looking forward to this week for quite some time. There is little on TV anymore that gets me as interested as Top Chef. It is both original and entertaining. That and I love food.

I am getting a late start, but I plan to review every episode.

To kick things off, I like to make a totally wild prediction on the final 3, before seeing a single minute of the show. My guess this season, in no particular order:

  • Paul Qui
  • Andrew Curran
  • Ritchie Farina
I am also excited for this season as there are (for now) four Seattle chefs in the competition:
  • Simon Pantet, Twenty-Two Doors
  • Colin Patterson, Sutra
  • Nina Vicente, Spur Gastropub
  • Ashley Villaluz, caterer
Padma, still hot. Gail, still hot.
Ok, so, now we can get on to the episode.
Right out of the gate this season is different. There are 29 cheftestants all lined up at the Alamo. No meeting at the airport and wondering what’s in store. We also discover that there are new judges: Emeril “BAM” Legasse and Hugh “Unibrow” Acheson. There is a super douche,  who only wants to stick around for Padma. I think he’s wearing fake hair. Tyler Stone you are a douche.
These 29 are not “in” yet. They are divided in to three groups and have to cook their way on to the show. I love the idea of getting to see the last leg of tryout. Each group cooks, they get an hour. And judges eat, then vote. If the group can’t agree chefs are “On the Bubble” and will have one last shot to get in, if there are spots left.
Group One
Emeril, Padma and Tom are standing in front of primal cuts of pork. Everyone introduces themselves and illustrates that they have chops and win awards. Some show that they are SUPER DOUCHY (Tyler Stone, still looking at you. This group has 3 Seattle Chefs and a bunch from Chicago. Some of the primal cuts have multiple regular cuts. Tyler D-bag butchers the chops and tenderloin, but he has no idea what the F he’s doing and totally BONES it. Tyler, Tom will not stand for your bull. Leave now. No really. Get the F out. Tom’s not gonna mess around.
Now there are 28.
The food looks good, overall. I am intrigued by pork cheek ravioli. Someone makes a pork apple caramel thing that looks amazing. Patterson, from Seattle, pours soup all over the plate. It is a HOT MESS and BAM. He gets the axe before anyone can even taste it. Then there were 3 from Seattle. Hey, at least he wasn’t first. Time is what wins Top Chef, and anyone that has watched knows that. I think maybe the chefs have never watched. Simon over cooks his pork and has to pack his knives and go. Then there were two.
A few go through, a few on the bubble.
Group Two
Less get the ax as quick in group two. This group gets to pick a protein and they select rabbit. Nothing exciting here. Nina, from Seattle, runs out of time and can’t even get the rabbit on the plate.  She goes home. There’s a guy named Ty-lor Boring. In the first 30 seconds he was on the screen I knew he was going to spend the season DRIVING ME NUTS! What the hell kind of name is that? I guess that’s where the cockiness comes from. Pretty boy from LA gets though. He might have a chance to go far. Even though he’s a culinary artist. I also like Dakota to go far, based solely on her ability to scare the shit out of the other chefs.
So let’s recap: 3 of the 4 from Seattle are out already. I bet the other goes next week. Piss poor showing Seattle, piss poor.
11 of 16 spots are taken. One group to cook, and maybe a spot will be left for someone from the bubble.
I expect great things from this season.
Top Chef, your time starts… NOW!