Proof that advertising works

OK, you’ve all seen that VW ad featuring the kids that look like all of us circa 10 years ago dancing to this great garage song, getting into a row with their downstairs neighbor. They climb into their VW, the song still blaring. Eventually you see them dancing to the tune in their new house. The problem is that back then none of us could have afforded that car or that house. But, hey, the point of the ad is that things are different now! So, believe it or not, I broke down because of that ad: I bought the CD. The group is Kings of Leon, and the song is “Molly’s Chambers”. Classic garage, and it’s one great song. The rest of the album isn’t bad either.

Saw “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” last night. At one point, I turn to N and say, “this movie validates my taste in pop music.” Not that it particularly needs validating. But it is nice to see Devo gaining new respect these days. Mark Mothersbaugh does a few of his tyical Wes Anderson cues for this pic–nice but almost too understated. Not as effective as the scene underscored by the classic Devo tune “Gut Feeling.” And the use of “Search and Destroy” is almost too on the nose. Especially since I got the thought process behind the choice right away. They’re rescuing the bond company stooge… stooge… Stooges… Search and Destroy! Oh well, Wes isn’t exactly an obscure director (not, I mean, into obscurity) and it is after all one of the greatest garage band songs ever. I always like hearing Bowie in a film but I think the samba gimmick fell a little flat. eXpecially at the end of the film when you first hear Bowie playing Queen Bitch, and then right away the Samba guy. Ouch! That’s not playing fair!

Right now I have Kasabian in the deck. Thanks to Clickradian AG for the tip. I had seen them on Letterman, then saw their video on Mexican MTV. So we have critical mass. The story here is that BMG copy-protected the thing so it won’t just play in a CD-ROM drive. Oh no you di ‘nt! Forced me to copy WMA files and play those. Hey BMG, that sucks. Especially since I’m the only person in the world who doesn’t listen to mp3s. I listen to CDs exclusively. Oh well, I guess it’s just a challenge to get at the uncompressed audio.

The “Team America: World Police” DVD is out, and if you saw the theatrical release, it’s still worth watching to see the stuff they had to cut out to avoid an X-rating. Once again, the songs make the picture. I particularly like “Pearl Harbor Sucks and I Miss You.” Which brings me back to that Sith business. I don’t want to write too much about. In the New Yorker review, the writer can barely keep to the subject (look, the movie is just plain bad) and supposes that it would have been more effective as a silent picture. No dialogue, just the music. I agree, but even better would have been puppets! The puppet acting and dialogue in Team America was for the most part more convincing than what Lucas accomplished. How does he do it? He must put his stars through the “de-actorizing machine.”

You didn’t really think I was going to buy a car did you?

Movie Review: Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith

I’ve got an ear for accents and I delight in listening to them, placing them. Quite naturally, I’m somewhat of an expert in Canadian accents, and please notice the plural there. There is no more one single, defining Canadian accent than there is a single defining American or French accent. But, of course, there are some mannerisms and characteristics that one might call typically Canadian or American–vocal markers. There are a few of these markers that always leap out at me, and make me cry “Aha! A Canadian!” I’m sure I have a few false negatives here and there, that is, I miss out on the clues and don’t notice a Canadian. But my false positive rate is about zero. Once I call it, I’m almost never wrong.

So I was almost startled to hear my detector go off in the middle of watching Star Wars II, Send in the Clones. Startled because who would think of Darth Vader as being Canadian? Well, to be honest, he wasn’t Darth yet, he was still Anakin Skywalker at the time. Something about his accent was making me prick up my ears. But I knew the truth the moment he uttered the word that always is a dead give-away: “Mum.” In the scene when he buries his mother, he most clearly makes the utterance “Mum” not “Mom” as an American future dark lord of the sith would say. Lucas has such a tin ear, I’m not surprised he missed it.

And you thought all Canadians were so polite…

UPDATE: since this movie was all about ‘splaining things, why did Lucas omit the question: just what blunt force to the head caused Yoda to forever speak with messed-up syntax? You have to thank Lucas for at least one line, which I can’t wait to see used in a presidential press conference: “But Mr. President, ‘only a Sith deals in absolutes!'”

Breaking News!

From the “Now-he-can-tell-you-what-he-Really-thinks-about-library-science” department:

This just in: we have heard that Prof. Downey has been granted tenure!!! Proof that you can slag off your flute practicing and still be a success in life. Congratulations, J.S.!

Things that go boom… chuppa-chup-chup-chup in the night

Early this morning, I had a dream that I was piloting a helicopter. I’ve never actually piloted a real helicopter, although I’ve played with a simulator a bit. Frankly, I think I would be a bit nervous if I ever had to take over the controls–I’d feel more comfortable if I had to, say, land a passenger jet in real life. There’s something so un-aesthetic about helicopters. In the dream, I had passengers with me, but I can’t remember now who they were. I do remember one detail, which may be significant (in case any psychoanalysts are reading, please reply with your diagnoses). I had some trouble figuring out the controls, but quickly realized that to go down, I had to push up on the stick. Up is down; down is up. A metaphor for the times we live in?

Once the four of us (two humans, two cats) finally began to wake up, I realized why I was thinking about helicopters: one was hovering over our apartment, for hours and hours. Not exactly a unique situation in Manhattan. One hears all sorts of strange sounds, some benign, some disquieting. One Sunday morning last year, I’m certain that a I heard a fighter jet do three or four loops of the island and then zoom off. Yikes! And early one morning, we were wakened to what we were sure was the sound of a nearby building collapsing. We never did figure that one out.

Normally, a hovering helicopter is the harbinger of a nearby bigwig. I thought perhaps the Bush twins were having some late-night dim sum at Mr Chow. But it turns out that some reveler had decided to celebrate the British elections by setting off a couple of home-made grenades in front of the building housing the British consulate around 3:30 this morning. About 8 blocks from here. We didn’t hear the pops, probably because someone was doing one of those long horn-honks. 3:30 am is prime time for long horn-honks around here.

Not much damage done, just some shattered windows and a disfigured planter. One thing I find bizarre is that no one has mentioned that this building is very close to the Citicorp building, which if you recall became a target two days after the end of the DNC convention last year (it had been strangely fortuitous timing for the Republicans). Well, we will assume that this little event was the work of a lone kook and continue on with our Cinco de Mayo celebrations…

Update: wire stories keep mentioning that this building is near the UN. Well, it’s not really. By that measure, all of east midtown would be near the UN. The stories also mention a Dutch UN worker found “loitering” in the area. I believe that this era ended at least two decades ago, but 53rd & 3rd, immortalized in the Ramones song of the same name, was in the 70’s the main hustler pickup corner in the city.