Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What a Cloverfuck!

One of the things that got Mr. Iris and I to brave the cold weather this past weekend was to watch the highly anticipated Cloverfield. We've been excited about this ever since we saw the preview for it before the Transformer's movie. But OMFG, this movie BLOWS!

Major Spoilers Below Picture!
You've been warned.

Now before anyone starts busting my balls, I begrudgingly give this movie credit for it's "realism," meaning the shaky camera POV throughout the whole movie (because obviously they wouldn't be traveling with a full-body camera stabilizer), the lack of information known by the military (too much knowledge during those scenes would denote that they knew it was coming and did nothing. OMG Terrorist Monsters!), the confused masses fleeing Manhattan like cattle, and all the time the main characters spend sitting around staring blankly or making bad jokes. Those are all things that would probably happen if this were real, but just because those touches are there doesn't mean it makes the movie GOOD.

What really blows is that you have a legitimate monster movie, but you BARELY SEE THE MONSTER. Instead what you get is Hero Boy, his frat buddy, and two other tag-alongs plodding through Manhattan with the notion that they must "save the damsel in distress," aka the girl with whom Hero Boy recently became "more than just friends." To the writer and director, you guys have months of hype and a real element of surprise and that's the plot line you go after? Weak, man, weak. Let me tell you something: if realism is what you were going for, then you should know that boy heroes do not exist. Boys nowadays...they're not going to rescue some one-night stand who's already hooked up with another guy. No fucking way. And especially not if there's some giant outer space praying mantis-looking thing out tearing up the city. Real boys would be tuck-tailing and saving their own skinny asses, and I wouldn't blame them one bit. Shit, I'd probably knock them down trying to get out myself. My friends should know that, while I love them dearly, if a enormous mutant whale-o-pus should venture from the briny deep with a raging case of PMS and begins wreaking havoc in the city we're residing in, then all bets are off, and you're on your own. No hard feelings, guys. I'd expect you to do the same. I can hear some of you saying, "But Iris, he loved her! They said so to each other at the end of the film!" Yeah, yeah, yeah...well I'd be saying some crazy shit too if I were being bombed and death were knocking at the bridge. I mean, no one wants to die single. Am I right?

And while we're on the topic, what about that shitty ending? Just "Hi, I'm so-n-so," bombs drop, and *poof* they're dead, so let's roll the credits? Come on! Obviously the government is still intact enough to send a recovery team/cleanup crew, who found the tape. The opening credits with all the DoD warnings tell us that much, so why not let us in on a little more like where the hell did it come from, what the hell did they do about it, or what the hell was it? Or are the producers trying to set the stage for a sequel with a static-y radio broadcast clue that when played backwards whispers, "it's still alive". Nuccas, please! There isn't enough Dramamine in the world to get me to go to another installment of Gyrating Camera Theater.

And for those that are saying "Jesus, Iris, where's your suspension of disbelief? Can't you just give in a little for the sake of entertainment?" Well, folks, it was all consumed with believing that cell phone batteries come fully charged direct from the package at the local Radio Shack, that the characters are in possession of a SUPER CAMERA that comes with standard lighting, night vision mode, unending amounts of battery power, limitless amounts of video tape, and is also apparently made from that indestructible black box material they use on aircrafts, and that the cameraman's name just happened to be "Hud" (Head-Up Display anyone?). Oh, and the fact Hud films the entire time even while being attacked by the monsters. Not just attacked once--but twice! Okay, so maybe Hud took the "How to Film Bjork in Airports" class and really is that tough. But still...do I have "sucker" written on my forehead?

A big thumbs down for Cloverfield for me. By hey no surprise here...the Big Giant Head liked it. I'd just be careful of his judgment. The Christ Clone Trilogies and Rob Sheridan. 'Nuff said.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

LONG OVERDUE Dresden Dolls Concert Review...

Man, dear readers, have I ever been in the doldrums lately! I've got an excruciating, relentless case of writer's block, and PMS is causing me to bloat and brood. And to top it all off, I lost my IPOD TOUCH on the streets of Chicago!!!

It was last Sunday; I was running late to meet up with a dear friend and was rushing towards the cafe where we were supposed to meet, carrying some unwieldy belated Christmas presents for her. My ipod (my precious!) must have fallen out of my pocket at some point because it wasn't in my purse, nor was it hiding in my car. And all I could think was, "Mr. Maise is going to KILL me!" Well, not kill, but he would be pretty pissed, seeing as this was my birthday/Christmas present. So clearly, I'd have to hatch some plot straight out of I Love Lucy to secretly buy a new one, and then I'd be out a few hundred bucks, and if it were lost out in the world somewhere, it would mean that someone would take it, keep it, and then laugh at my music, my video selections and blackmail-material photos before erasing it all and downloading Avril Lavigne or some shit. I felt naked and despondent.

But then, shortly after I returned home, I got an email from Iris who, along with Gabriel, had been listed as one of my contacts on my ipod. Apparently, someone had found it and was looking to return it! Oh joy! Ro and I will be meeting him tomorrow evening, during which my precious will be returned to me and I will buy my hero a lovely French dinner to thank him.

If this adventure were turned into a movie, it would star John Cusack.

ANYWAY, you might be asking yourself, what does this have to do with the Dresden Dolls' latest performance in Chicago? Nothing! But despite my recent tales of woe, I simply must write this review because I'm developing an enormous guilt complex over it that is only exacerbating the writer's block.

The Dresden Dolls' first eponymous album was responsible for perserving much of my sanity during a very difficult time a year or so ago. Whenever I feel crappy, I always get in my car, drive, and sing "Good Day" at the top of my lungs (except for now, when I'm ipod-less). It's been a while since both Brian and Amanda have toured together, so Ro, Iris, Mr. Iris, and I were happy to report to the Vic Theater on Saturday, January 5th to see them in person.

Now, if you're planning to see the Dresden Dolls, do know that all manner of artsy, burlesque nonsense will be performed beforehand. The first act we saw, for example, was some performance art group performing some ballet version of "Romeo and Juliet" set to Britney Spears' "Toxic." Sigh. Can I get another beer?

Then Amanda explained that the Dresden Dolls were choosing fans to play opening songs for them, and at first I was filled with a sense of dread. Then this young woman, Molly Robison, just blew me away with unbridled awesomeness. Can you believe she's only 17? I can't. Her voice is soothing and hypnotic, and her song, "Yes, Amanda, Yes" is lovely and poignant. Check it out:

Seriously, people. LOVE.

You can check out her Myspace here. Remember her name because I'm certain we'll be hearing more from her soon!

So the Dresden Dolls take the stage and open with a chilling rendition of Pink Floyd's "In the Flesh." Brian's imitation of the original vocals is uncanny.

The Dolls played many of their favorites, ("Miss Me," "Girl Anachronism," "Coin-Operated Boy") as well as some new songs, including this one, "Sorry Bunch."

Brian and Amanda are never less than compelling onstage, even though Amanda appeared to be losing her voice. For my money, Brian is one of the best drummers in the business, and Amanda gives her all to songs that she must have performed about 5,000,000 times by now. In addition, they take audience participation to a new level. While performing "The Gardener," Amanda waded out into the crowd, until she wound up in one of the balconies. (I never noticed her feeling up the dead-looking girl until just now when I watched the video.) Towards the end of the show, Brian and Amanda took a page from Iggy Pop and allowed fans to join them onstage for a chaotic rendition of "You Gotta Fight for Your Right to Party." I love that their fans are gentle enough to let them perform this way without inordinate molestation.

I think if I had one minor criticism, it's that the middle of the set tends to sag with slow, ponderous songs that are light on Brian's thundering drums. And probably the 30-minute instrumental opening to "Half Jack" is overkill. But I think I can speak for the majority of the audience there that night and report that a fantastic time was had by all, and I strongly urge all of you to make a point to see the Dresdent Dolls when they come to your town!

For more Dresden Dolls clips and other Places Parallel exclusive videos, click here. For mouth-watering pictures of a half-naked Brian Viglione, I suggest you look here.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I'm the Hunter

Everyone's favorite crazed Icelandic singer, Bjork, strikes again. This time attacking a newspaper photographer after arriving in New Zealand's Auckland International Airport today.

Bjork, who is in the northern city of Auckland to perform at the Big Day Out concert on Friday, tore "New Zealand Herald" photographer Glenn Jeffrey's shirt after he photographed her arriving at the airport early Sunday, he told news agency New Zealand Press Association according to a report on Monday.

Jeffrey, a news photographer for 25 years, said Bjork was accompanied by a man who asked him not take photos.

"I took a couple of pictures ... and as I turned and walked away she came up behind me, grabbed the back of my black skivvy (T-shirt) and tore it," he told the agency.

"As she did this, she fell over, she fell to the ground," he said. "At no stage did I touch her or speak with her."

Bjork said nothing throughout the incident but her male companion was saying: "'B, don't do this, B, don't do this,'" Jeffrey said.

I'm betting Jeffery has never seen this video which should really be required viewing to those interested in any facet of journalism.

It may be wrong but this video always cracks me up. Jeffery probably unknowingly welcomed Bjork to New Zealand which you should NEVER do without expecting repercussions. Seriously, dude.

You gotta love Bjork, who is like 5ft nothin', giving the smack down on reporters and photographers. I think she ought to start a side business offering herself as a bodyguard. There are plenty of young celebrity poptarts who could benefit from her services. Britney might not be in the current nightmare she's in if she just had Bjork to beat down the paparazzi. And Dr. Phil for that matter. Or hell, even beat down Britney from time to time. I'm just saying.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Reunited and It Feels So Good

From Marilyn Manson's myspace:

The duo that started it all, are back together to finish where they left off. The two who co-wrote "Antichrist Superstar," "Mechanical Animals," and "Holywood" will be sharing the stage once again.

Joining Manson and Twiggy onstage for the U.S. leg of the Rape of the World Tour will be Chris Vrenna, Rob Holliday, and Ginger Fish. Tim Skold has amicably split with Manson, but future collaborations aren't being ruled out between the two.

Expectations for the upcoming tour are best described by quoting one of Manson's most infamous lyrics, "Everyone will suffer now". Looks like the shit is gonna hit the FANS.

Great. That's just great, Jeordie. You're out of Trent's band for like 5 minutes and you're back in Manson's arms? Ah...well...maybe some good can come of this. Like shaving your eyebrows and ditching that shaggy, mullet-esque haircut you've been sporting for the past few years.

Honestly the time spent with El Rezzo really hasn't been Twiggy's most fashionable era. The hair, the matching outfits, the vapid stare on and off stage (are we sure he's off drugs?) just hasn't been all that interesting. But I think we can all agree here that back in the day dude looked cute in a dress.

Well maybe not always.

But his willingness to dork out with Star Wars has always been endearing. Whoops! I see your panties! Yes, ladies, I admit I kind of had a soft spot for Twiggy back when no one knew better. Any of you out there willing to admit it or am I in my own private Idaho here?

Perhaps it's a bit superficial to only think of style choices here on their "grand reunion" but really, does anyone actually listen to Manson anymore?

(stay tuned for the upcoming Dresden Dolls concert review by Maise.
For those wanting a sneak peek, look here.)

Friday, January 4, 2008

Oh come on, people!

Today, Trent provided the following update about Saul Williams' latest, The Rise and Inevitable Liberation of Niggy Tardust:

"Saul's previous record was released in 2004 and has sold 33,897 copies.

As of 1/2/08,
154,449 people chose to download Saul's new record.
28,322 of those people chose to pay $5 for it, meaning
18.3% chose to pay."

Given that the entire album was a mere $5, which is about half the price you'd pay for it on itunes and maybe even 1/3 of the price you'd pay for it at Target or Best Buy or other music stores, I find this most depressing.

Artists, especially up-and-coming artists like Saul Williams, need money, folks. That cat with an eyepatch isn't going to pay for his own Meow Mix. I know that not everyone has a lot of expendable cash these days, but $5...that's a single trip to Starbucks for most of us. That's less than 2 gallons of gas. And I think if you can afford the fancy-schmancy ipod to put the music on, you can afford to throw Saul Williams $5 for his work, his livelihood. I understand that some people may have wanted to "try it out first," and perhaps they weren't sure if they were going to like it, and they saw that it could be free, so they thought, what the hell?

Maybe that's just the state of affairs these days, and people simply will not pay for albums. I certainly hope that if those people liked the album (and there's no reason why they shouldn't have), that they intend to support Saul on his upcoming tours. Or buy his merch. Or SOMETHING.

Music shouldn't be expensive, but it's not WORTHLESS. Support your artists, kids.

**The more you know.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A New Year at Places Parallel...

Hi everyone,

I hope you all survived the holidays. I did--but just barely. I meant to post a lot during my Christmas break, but the whole time I was behind the 8 ball in cleaning and shopping and baking and decorating and all the rest of it. Remember when Christmas was the most fun time of the year and not the most stressful? I think I was eight years old then.

Anyway, one of my New Year's Resolutions is to do a lot of writing of all kinds, including our rather Trent-heavy discussions here at Places Parallel. That's why I bring to you now a belated review of a Rob Zombie/Ozzy Osbourne concert I attended on December 16th.

It was kind of a strange coincidence that brought me to the Allstate Arena that night. I have one of those awesome friends who always seems to have free tickets to Bulls and Blackhawks games from work (skyboxes, even!), and she happened to get free tickets for this concert from the United Way (errr?). I was unenthused at the prospect initially, given that I've seen both acts before with Mr. Maise. Ozzy is always lovable, but he's not really my genre. And I do enjoy Rob Zombie, but the last time I had seen him, he was opening for (ugh) Godsmack and was apparently drunk off his ass. It didn't help his performance, as he spent the entire show forgetting lyrics and trying to get the audience to sing for him. It was rather depressing, actually, and I wouldn't want to see a repeat.

However, Mr. Maise really wanted to go, and who am I to deny him, given that he traveled halfway around the world to see two NIN shows with me and my equally obsessive online friends? All aboard the crazy train, then!

Fortunately, we missed whatever dreadful opening act was there that night. I think we heard the last few notes as we bought beer and looked for our seats, and they were deafeningly loud and tuneless. As we found our seats (presumably in the United Way section), I was alarmed to find myself surrounded by 10-year-old boys. The hell? Look, I know Ozzy Osbourne is our generation's answer to Ward Cleaver, but no one could reasonably deem Rob Zombie's stage show (all gory exploitation movie clips and topless strippers) appropriate for children.

But you know, I don't really give a shit that this entire concert was wildly inappropriate for children. You know what *does* piss me off? That I had to be surrounded by the youth on my fucking day off. My second job these days involves working with kids, and I have to see them four fucking days a week. Don't get me wrong--I love the job, and I love the kids. But when I'm off the clock, I don't want to hang out with anyone under 25. Seriously. So given all the nudity and fake blood, I shouldn't have to worry that sitting behind me are going to be 10-year-old boys singing aloud at the top of their lungs, making "Living Dead Girl" sound like fucking Kidz Bop. It was infuriating.

Fortunately, I am happy to report that Rob Zombie was back on his game. I mean, if I had to hang out with Godsmack all the time, I'd probably drink myself into a stupor as well. But he performed all his old favorites with gusto and got the crowd into the show. He always has clips of his reprehensible films playing in the background, and you couldn't pay me to watch that celluloid trash (although Mr. Maise is a fan of "House of 1000 Corpses" and "The Devil's Rejects" for whatever twisted reasons). Although I do have to say that I laughed my ass off at the fake trailer he made for Quentin Tarantino's/Robert Rodriguez's "Grindhouse." It was entitled "Werewolf Women of the SS" and was just as tongue-in-cheek tasteless as you might imagine, but there is this priceless cameo by Nicholas Cage...and if you're curious, you can see it here. (NSFW...duh)

Some might call Rob Zombie a hack or misogynist or whatever, but I find him easy to love with his funk-influenced metal and his boyish love for terrible horror movies and boobies. (Did you know he worked as a technician on Pee Wee's Playhouse? I didn't. Thanks, Wikipedia.) "Superbeast" and "Living Dead Girl" are always standouts. I really wish he'd play "Spookshow Baby," though. Mainly because Mr. Maise and I change the chorus from "She's a killa, she's a thrilla, spookshow baby!" to "She's a chinchilla...she's a thrilla...Rollo, baby!" for our beloved rodent, Rollo, pictured below:

Okay, maybe you just have to be there.


After Rob Zombie had finished, some of the 10-year-old boys had their shirts off with their pants drooping down so that you could see their stupid boxers. YUCK.

Then Ozzy took the stage, and well...he's still fun to watch, but it's ever so slightly disappointing that he doesn't even TRY to be dangerous and scary anymore. He's fully embraced the self-parody. And I guess what else can you do when you're like 80 years old and still rocking? But, oh well. I just hope that certain 42-year-old rockers (who shall go unnamed) never go that route. He opened his show with a lengthy collection of spoof videos: Ozzy performing oral sex on QEII in a parody of "The Queen" (gross), Ozzy on "Lost" (who cares?), Ozzy participating in "Dancing with the Stars" (okay, that was actually pretty funny)...it's rather entertaining, but it kind of killed the mood for me. Like when he hosed down the front rows of the audience with some kind of foam during "Suicide Solution." He played a lot of his favorites, but not enough Black Sabbath, in our opinion. Although God only knows what kind of legal issues surround all that. His voice wasn't especially strong that night, but he might have been sick, and he's like 80 years old or whatever. Regardless, we all love Ozzy, and it was a good time.

Oh, and for some reason, Ozzy is VERY demanding when it comes to audience participation. "I CAN'T FUCKING HEAR YA!" he'd grouse. Well, turn up your hearing aid, old man! Around 10 p.m., us working stiffs were starting to run out of gas (especially when Zakk Wylde gets a three-hour guitar solo), and the true fans were all too drunk, but we still weren't loud enough for him. Sheesh.

So that, my friends, is pretty much all I have to say about that. Stay tuned, as this weekend, Iris is once again trekking to my place, and she and Ro and I are going to see THE DRESDEN DOLLS. Whoo!