Saturday, March 10, 2007

Lost in the Simon business, Rangers briefly take 8th spot

Although all of the talk today focused on Chris Simon's clubbing Ryan Hollweg, leading to blood on the ice and an indefinite suspension of Simon, the more important thing is that the Rangers have moved into the 8th spot of the playoff race. In other words, if the season ended today, the Rangers would be the eighth seed. The Blue crew beat the Islanders twice this week, thanks in part to the outstanding play of goalie Henrik Lundqvist. In the past month, he has seven wins, including two shutouts, with a 1.60 GAA, 282 saves and a .937 save percentage. He's putting up the best numbers of any other regular goalie in the league this past month, and it has helped the Rangers rise and remain in contention.

The elation must be short lived, however, as Carolina won tonight and are now two points ahead of the Rangers. There's still plenty of work to be done.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Strange sites

After doing a Google Image Search for "Starman" images (as reference for an upcoming Byting Reviews topic), I found many delightful and amusing web pages that I would like to share with you:

I am a Starman - featuring swastikas in space.

In my Arms - Screen shots of men carrying women.

JoJo Loves Beauty: I'm Good to Go - Young woman with a delightful drawing style, reminiscent of old PSAs. More illustrations are available throughout her blog.

Starman a.k.a. Super Giant - "Welcome to my webpage about the Japanese movie superhero Starman" (bonus: "My Favorite Things About Angelfire * Easy * Fast * Fun").

Laserium Effects - They have done special effects for a couple of decades and still have a shitty website.

The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters - Apparently Superman is a Methodist. I wonder if God created Krypton in seven days, too.

XXX まだ分からない - I would presume this is a photo journal journey across Asia, with accompanying text written in English.

White Buffalo - An indigenous tale about a young girl who gets high on peyote, in the style of a children's book.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Byting Reviews

I have started a collaborative project called Byting Reviews, wherein we believe that the concept of "a picture tells a thousand words" works really well in reviewing film and other entertainment products. If you like handmade MS Paint drawings, you'll approve.

Partly metal, partly real: Sil-ver-hawks

I was never a fan of the show, never saw it, and in fact may not have even known it existed, but when Cartoon Network started airing reruns in the 90s(?), I caught a few episodes. That opening is brilliant, and just goes to show you how amazing the 1980s were. In fact, I remember watching a rerun episode where the Silverhawks were cloned/robots, but their chief (Commander Stargazer?) figured out the clone-bots were not the real Silverhawks. When Quicksilver, the field leader, asked how he knew, he replied, "While it's true you're partly're also partly real."

The show also had some amazing goofy villains like Windhammer, "an environmental terrorist with a huge tuning fork that enables him to manipulate or generate destructive weather patterns," or Zero the Memory Thief, "a long-nosed shady character who steals memories using a cattle prod-like weapon and records them on cassettes." The show was full of great names that described the characters' abilities, such as Yess-man (snake-like), Melodia (musical attacks), Mo-Lec-U-Lar (morphing abilities).

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

IMDb does a great service for our nation

I don't care much for IMDb's new layout, but I sure get a kick out of this category: Female Frontal-Nudity. Here's the top ten highest rated films and television programs with tits and bush:

1. "Band of Brothers" (2001) (mini) 9.6/10
2. "Naked News" (2000) 9.4/10
3. Futari ecchi (2002) (V) 9.3/10
4. "Rome" (2005) 9.2/10
5. "Carnivàle" (2003) 9.1/10
6. Egészséges erotika (1985) 9.0/10
7. Schindler's List (1993) 8.8/10
8. "Undergrads" (2001) 8.7/10
9. "Tatort" (1970) 8.5/10
10. Denei shoujo Ai (1992) 8.4/10
10. The Shining (1980) ' '
10. A Clockwork Orange (1971) ' '

Some notes: Naked News is not all that good either as a news program or a stimulant, although it's fun the first time around. Futari Ecchi is probably some terrible anime, but I enjoy some of the other keywords (Virgin / Hearing Voices / Video / Fondling / Snowboarding). The last three movies are tied for 10th place, but one of those ten is an anime about a girl that falls out of the television and into a young man's heart, or something else equally weird (the manga the anime is based on was created by Masakazu Katsura, who has done many enjoyable projects).

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Graham Bonnet

Graham Bonnet is a rock singer distinguished by his raspy singing voice and is a figure in the metal community due to his collaborations with various guitar virtuosos. His beginnings were far removed from hard rock, however. In the 60s, he had a couple of hits with the pop duo The Marbles.

After various projects in the 70s, including a foray into disco, Ritchie Blackmore hired him to replace Dio on vocals in the band Rainbow. Ronnie James Dio left Rainbow to replace Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath. Ritchie Blackmore was the former guitarist of Deep Purple. This was Bonnet's first dip into the metal world.

Although he only lasted one album (1979's "Down to Earth") and two years with the band, his vocals caught the attention of Michael Schenker, former guitarist with the Scorpions and UFO. Again Bonnet lasted only one album (1982's "Assault Attack"), he seemed to love working with shredders, and thus started Alcatrazz with ex-Steeler Yngwie Malmsteen.

The effort only produced one studio album, but this time Bonnet stayed, with Malmsteen taking off after 1984's "No Parole From Rock'n'Roll" and a live album. Bonnet brought in another dazzling guitar player, Steve Vai,

Vai didn't last beyond 1986's "Disturbing the Peace," and after one more guitarist and album, Bonnet folded Alcatrazz. He provided guest vocals on a few projects, before six string dynamo Chris Impellitteri recruited him for 1988's "Stand in Line."

Afterwards, Bonnet spent the 90s releasing a few solo projects and working with various guitarists, including Italians Dario Mollo and Matteo Filippini. In 2002, he rejoined Impelitterri for one more album. Bonnet's most recent project is with yet another flashy guitarist, this time Taz Taylor.

On YouTube, a user named janderson2000 made a pretty good observation about Bonnet, noting that the vocalist "always sang out of his own range, always sounded strained, and ending up more yelling than singing much of the time." I think that criticism is a bit excessive, but Bonnet was a good singer who sometimes tried to sing like a Rob Halford when he was better suited to an approach like Udo Dirkschneider (of Accept). Nevertheless, when Bonnet is on, he has a really appealing and unique voice. It's unfortunate he never found long-term success with any one band, but his various partnerships with rock and metal's great guitarists have produced a diverse and interesting collection.

I love me more than I love you

I found something I wrote last year in regards to a "Can a lightsaber cut Superman?" question:
The things that can cut Superman:

Kryptonite blades
Red Sun lava spears
Children's taunts

Take it to the bank, kids.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Stop politicizing art, damn it!

A few days ago, I discussed how people on both the left and the right want to find the political symbolism in every film. Although Conservatives tend to be more hilarious in their attacks, Liberals manage to find political reasons to like or dislike movies, too. Take the very leftist Dennis Perrin:
A relative of mine through marriage was one of the most queer-phobic men I had ever encountered. He not only hated "fags," he was convinced that they actively recruited children to become "like them," and all the rest of that ignorant bullshit. He and I had many arguments over this, usually while drinking, and no matter how delicately I pushed a specific point, or how easily I countered his bizarre reasoning, he still loathed gay men. Then Jonathan Demme's "Philadelphia" was released, starring the very mainstream Tom Hanks as a gay man with AIDS who faces not only death, but professional discrimination. After seeing this, my relative's views about queers changed -- not completely, not to the marrow, but his once rancid outlook was decidedly altered. Tom Hanks, being recognizable and thus safe, gave my relative permission to be empathetic, and I never again heard him utter the simplistic bile that casually came out of his mouth.

When discussing "Philadelphia" with a member of Act Up! back in New York, I mentioned the above anecdote after listening to his political criticism of Demme's film. "Movies like that aren't meant for us," I said, "they're meant for people like my relative." The activist took this in for a moment, and cautiously agreed. He still had ideological problems with "Philadelphia", but if it helped to eliminate queer-hatred in the heartland, then the movie served a larger purpose.

The same goes for films like "Munich" and "Flags Of Our Fathers". The mainstream may be largely polluted, but it holds the biggest audience; and any effort that can help drain some of this pollution while opening once-closed eyes should be supported or at least acknowledged. Whatever works.

I take this opportunity to say that when a film is has a political or social message, or is somehow politically incorrect, discussing that aspect in the context of the entire film is appropriate. You can talk about how "Check and Double Check" is racist because the two main black characters are portrayed by white men in black face, but much more important is whether the film is even worth watching; it's a comedy, so will I laugh?

The above story about "Philadelphia" misses the point of the movie. It's a great drama, a legitimate tear-jerker, with a powerful story and an uplifting message in the face of terrible bigotry and impending death. While I would be willing to listen to any political criticism of the film (especially because I would be curious about what gay issues a homosexual would be unhappy with), I couldn't imagine not liking the film because of that. You have to be somewhat unhinged, unbalanced, or simply unhappy with your own personal life to not be able to like a great film because of politics.

I recently saw the "South Park" episode which lambasted Al Gore. While I completely disagree with their message about Al Gore coming up with Manbearpig (an obvious allusion to Global Warming) because he wants attention and not because it's real, I had to look at it from an entertainment standpoint as well. Did the episode make me laugh? Sort of. It wasn't the best episode in terms of comedy, which is why I would rank it down. It's not a political thing, however. The Big Gay Al episode doesn't sit with me too well because its so-called positive image of homosexuals is itself stereotypical. However, it's one of the better early episodes because it comes through with sufficient laughs.

People need to learn to appreciate art simply as art first, and then discuss any perceived political content as a sidebar. Otherwise, you end up making choices on which films to see based on imaginary political agendas.

The 1776ers

Someone I know gave me free tickets to the 76ers game last night. Vinsanity and the Nets were in town, so it looked to be a good show. At a 99-86 final score, it wasn't, but there was a pretty sweet dunk by Bostjan Nachbar:

It happened on my side of the court, which was awesome. Definitely worth the price of admission to see that, even though it didn't cost me anything to get in.

The Nets' loss puts the Knicks a half game out of first place. It would be curious if the Knicks made the playoffs, which just goes to show how terrible the Eastern Conference is.

A snapshot from the game last night:

More from our friends at Conservapedia

From the logo discussion page:
REPLY: Yes, it is true that we favor American spellings for words and that we have contributors worldwide, but this is beside the point. Conservapedia is American, unlike Wikipedia which even though it is located in America, does not support America openly. It is very disappointing that this America-based website does not show its patriotism openly. Conservapedia will always show that it is proud to be American. PhilipB 17:26, 7 January 2007 (EST)

Is anyone else bothered that Amazon, an American company based in America, doesn't show its patriotism more openly? We need a Conservazon.