5:33 pm

Guess what? It's time for "I don't care what goddamn day it is" Music Post #5!


Who wants some strings? Of course you do, even if you think you don't. That's right, I'm looking at your, Mr. Vocaloid. Strap in, shrug on some gigantic 70's headphones, and get ready to blast into one-hit wonderland, baby. If you weren't wearing jeans, you are now. If you already were, they have now been transformed into soul-crushingly unhip bell-bottoms. Your car, if you have one, has become a Levi's Edition AMC Gremlin.


Bask in the EYE-SEARING GLORY of BLUE.

If you didn't previously have a car, you now own a collection of weird overhangs and fuzzy carpeting that vaguely resembles an automobile--also known as a Levi's Edition AMC Gremlin.



Wait, I was supposed to talk about the song, wasn't I? It's catchy. Very singable, as long as you don't try to hit those Mickey Mouse-level high notes. It says "disco version," but it's not really disco since it didn't make me vomit up a pair of platform shoes. It's no Earth Wind and Fire, that's for sure. More of a laid-back soft-rock/pop track with some orchestral influence--sort of like ELO. Yes, this was basically my excuse to post an ELO song without posting an ELO song. What can I say? I have an uncontrollable lust for string sections in pop bands, and god damn if that isn't an underpopulated niche. No, symphonic metal doesn't count. I prefer it when each instrument is used with care and purpose, as opposed to layered on top of 600 others to make an inscrutable wall of pure noise.


I tried to find a picture of a symphonic metal band to caption, but all I found was a bunch of people that go to my local Starbucks. Also, discount Johnny Depp.

9:36 pm

Undertale





Rarely, you come across a game that really leaves a mark on you. Maybe it was a childhood favorite, something you played for hours when you had nothing better to do (besides your homework.) Maybe it was your first experience with a big, open world, or an in-depth story that really drew you into the game's universe. Maybe it was the kind of game you'd end up playing for hours, not even realizing how much time you've spent until you glanced at the clock. Maybe it was the kind of game you'd pick up in 15-minute stretches, whiling away your time on public transit as you made your best attempts to ignore the seething mass of humanity currently impinging on your personal space. Maybe it was an anomaly; an outlier. Something that stands alone even now; a well-loved, well scrutinized and irreplicable oddity turned out by some mad, coffee-powered genius at 3 am in a damp basement. Or maybe it was one of those games that everyone just knows is a big deal when it comes out. It lands in the market with a big, weighty sploosh, like a sumo wrestler belly-flopping into a swimming pool. Everyone respects its presence, lest they be slapped with the heaving man-tits of justice.

Whatever kind of game it was--and there were probably many in your life--each one persists in your memory for some reason or another. They hold a special place in your heart, and occupy precious space in your memory banks next to grandma's baking and the time you shat yourself in second grade.

I knew, at some point within the first hour, that Undertale would one of those games. Why? Well, you see, dear reader... I'm not going to tell you.

Hold on, friend, don't switch tabs to a compilation of people dying in car accidents just yet; there's a reason why I'm not giving this game a proper review.


No, that reason isn't "because I'm lazy." 
Considering my track record, though, that's not a bad guess. 

The reason I'm not going over this game with a fine-toothed comb because I want you to go into it with as few expectations as possible. The feeling of discovery--the pure, unadulterated sense of not knowing what will happen next--is rare in gaming. With the internet, and hence, a million spoilers at your fingertips, it's hard to stumble into anything blind. Even if you sequester yourself into a Luddite-esque technological dead zone, you still know, to a certain degree, what you're getting yourself into when you pick up any given game. Shooters will be shooters. Ubisoft games will have the sort of baffling glitches that arise when a game is developed in three weeks. The next Call of Duty will have even more patriotic cock stroking than the last game, somehow. Racing games will be ruined by small children and stupid adults who think that the ass end of your car serves as an alternative braking function. RPG franchises will be the same as the last one, but different enough that nobody complains. Sonic will probably be disappointing, and Mario probably will not. Battlefield will be a fucking mess until you download 5 gigabytes worth of updates. A Telltale or Bioware game will include at least one dialogue option that does something wildly different than what you imagined. It will also be a critical choice that results in someone getting eaten, shot, or punched in the face.

You get the idea. We all have preconceived notions based on the genre, or the developer, or the publisher, or the series, or even the box art. Most of the time, those preconceived notions are correct. I mean, hey, we've been wasting our lives on these things for years, right? It's hard not to notice trends. Triple-A games rarely surprise, and when they do, it's the bad sort of surprise.


Unless you wanted Assassin's Creed to branch out into horror, that is.

Indie games are more adept at providing novel experiences, to be sure. While the unadulterated market that gives us all those wonderful indies also floods us with boatloads of nearly unplayable and/or terrifying shit, the gems that arise from the muck of OH GOD PLEASE HELP ME are worth it. Like Undertale. Undertale is so, so worth it.

Undertale is the kind of game that to review beyond the most generic of comments is to spoil. The visuals are intentionally retro, but charming. The music is great. The story took me up and down the whole range of emotions, sometimes going from one extreme to the other with the ease of a fat guy on a Harley who somehow doesn't crash even though he's using both hands to scratch his balls instead of steer. The characters are the heart of the game, and they're wonderfully written. The mix of low encounter rates and unique, fun combat FINALLY makes for a turn-based RPG that doesn't feel like a chore to play between story bits. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me wonder when I was going to experience something like it again.

So this isn't a very good review, or even a good post. It falls under the sort of heaping praise that I usually find hard to take seriously. Believe me, I get it. I know what you want; you want the same thing I want before I dive into any game. You want a look at the mechanics, the gameplay, of the way things work. A hint of how the story will be told. A weighing of positives and negatives. But you have to understand, it's best if I tell you nothing. Zip. Nada. Not a fucking thing. You should experience it--every little glorious bit of it--for yourself. You just have to trust me on this, as I trusted the friend who recommended it to me. You deserve to go into this thing blind, whether you enjoy it as much as I did or not.

Harken back to the pre-internet days, where your only sources of gaming news were your friends and the occasional monthly magazine. Imagine you see a game in the local shop that catches your eye. You've never heard of it before; nothing about it rings any bells of recognition. It is an unknown quantity, and thus, a dangerous thing to drop your cash on. Still, it attracts your attention. You can't tell exactly why--something about the cover, or maybe it's the box blurb. Whatever it is, you get a feeling, stirring somewhere inside you, that this is going to be an experience worth your money. What the hell, you decide. Why not? So you buy it, shoving your grubby little kid hands into your pocket and plunking a wad of cash on the counter. Take it home. Eagerly open the case, greedy fingers ripping the safety plastic with what would be considered reckless abandon if anybody ever gave a shit about that cockblocking pseudo-saran wrap. You gingerly, yet eagerly, place the game into whichever receptacle it belongs in. Finally, you turn it on. You're headed into the complete unknown, and everything after the familiar whir of a disc in the tray, the thunk of a cartridge in the slot, or the chime of a boot jingle will be a surprise.

Enjoy that feeling of discovery again for me, will you?

5:10 pm

Pickle Doritos are Amazing



Long after the extremely displeasing experience that were Ruffles bacon chips, I finally mustered up the courage to buy another weird flavour of chip. This time, they were everybody's favorite corn chip-turned-meme, and the flavour was pickle. I know, pickle chips aren't out of the ordinary, but I'd never seen pickle Doritos before--and these were no ordinary pickle. No, as the bag boldly proclaimed, these were intense pickle. "Intense radical tubular pickle to the EXTREME," as I imagine the marketing manager said, discarding a half-empty Bud Light and unzipping his pants to urinate on his intern's plant.


"MARKETING!" he yelled into Brad's ear. "MARKETIIIIIING!"

So, you must understand, it was still a risk. My fiver was in jeopardy if these ended up tasting like something starving North Koreans would refuse. Thankfully, they didn't. They tasted like something North Koreans would be executed for eating, on account of delicious snack food being a capitalist evil that must be purged.


Unless, of course, you are Dear Leader. 
Dear Leader can have as many snacks as he wants. Or else.

Anyway, they weren't really as intense as promised. The pickle and vinegar flavours were strong, and absolutely fucking delicious, but "intense" is a word that should be reserved for the salt and vinegar chips that leave your lips feeling like you fellated a salt lick for three hours. Those are intense, and not in a good way. The pickle Doritos were pretty heavy on the seasoning, as Doritos usually are, but the flavour was pitch-perfect. Just enough zing to make you go "woah," but not enough to make you go full 90's "WOOOAAAHHHHH," if you get my incomprehensible scale of woahs. Woah. 

Basically, they were about as perfect as chips get. I inhaled the whole bag in a few minutes, getting enough green dust on my hands to look like I'd just fingerblasted the swamp monster. Seriously, they're delicious--that is, if you like pickle flavoured shit. If you don't like pickle flavoured shit, they should be avoided like people who wear a tail in public. Unfortunately, unlike people who wear a tail in public, pickle Doritos are only available in Canada. So, if you want to ride the mild-to-medium rollercoaster of dill-flavoured amazingness, you have to either live in moose country or order some online. And let's be real here; I don't think I need to tell you how much of a fatass you'll look like ordering chips on Amazon. Seriously, your credit card company will judge you. Amazon will judge you. The person selling bags of chips online will judge you. The eyes of the world will be upon ye, and for what? A powder-covered snack food that lasts half an hour at most. The question you must then ask yourself is: "Are Doritos Intense™ Pickle worth enduring the scorn and mockery of my fellow man?"

Maybe, dear reader. Maybe.

3:52 pm

Just Pretend It's Monday Music Post #4 -- Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon (1978)



How can you not love this song? No, "having different musical tastes" is not an acceptable answer--this isn't a free country, it's an internet blog run by an angry little midget with delusions of grandeur. Different opinions are not allowed, unless you make a donation to my vacation fund. It's not cheap to go to the moon and build a laser cannon aimed at Washington, after all.

What was I saying? Oh, yeah. Enjoy the amazing beat and piano work and vocals and lyrics and everything else. Just turn up the volume and wake up your neighbors. They won't mind, it's Warren Zevon. Everyone should wake up to Warren Zevon. If Trump listened to Warren Zevon, he would magically stop being racist. That's how good this fucking song is. Just click the play button, dammit.

And donate to my moon cannon fund.

4:48 pm

Stupid Wrestling Gimmicks #2 -- Max Moon


A lot of characters from other media seem to be a perfect fit for wrestling, and wrestling, being about as respectful of copyright as a Chinese carmaker, has never been reluctant to take the opportunity--or intellectual property--and run with it. Sometimes, the transition is flawless, and a legend is born whose gimmick is 50% Tony Montana and 50% extra grease, or 100% The Crow. Sometimes the transition falls a little flat, such as when the WWF decided that Max Cady from cape fear would be threatening when played by a wrestler so injured and stiff that he looked like a stop-motion movie in the ring. That gimmick isn't bad enough to be inducted into this hall of shame, though; said wrestler's promos were quite good, and the basic idea wasn't flawed--after all, tweak it a bit and you have Bray Wyatt.

No, this is a list of the worst of the worst, and just like in the Matrix, we have to go deeper. Further down, all the way to where the characters that make absolutely no sense in wrestling live.

First, though, it may be helpful to clarify what makes a character a good fit for wrestling. Chiefly, they should have a distinctive look or personality trait. For instance, Nathan Drake from Uncharted would be a bad choice--even though he's a physically active character who gets in a lot of fights, his appearance is that of a default setting on a character creation menu with some added handsome. As noted with Nathan, though, the character should have some sort of physical ability--it wouldn't make much sense to have Professor X wheeling himself around a ring, now would it?


Not that they haven't already tried the "beating up a cripple" angle.

At the same time, the character's central feature shouldn't be something that's impossible to portray well enough to be believable. That means no laser cannons, no aliens, and no robot suits. Of course, there's no way even the WWF during its universally-recognized shit period in the early to mid 90's would do something that ridiculous... right?

Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to Max Moon:



Part clunky robot suit and part off-brand Megaman, Max Moon has a history as convoluted as his outfit. The gimmick was the brainchild of Charles Aschenoff, better known as Konnan. Yes, that Konnan. How did the guy who ended up playing a rapping wrestler in WCW create the cybertronian monstrosity above, you ask? Well, like most bizarre things that children were exposed to in the early 90's, it came from Japan. Konnan had happened to see one of the era's bread-and-butter robot shows while wrestling there, and brought the idea up to Vince McMahon while discussing possible gimmicks for his WWF debut. Vince had just snatched Aschenoff from WCW's clammy grasp, and was eager for something he thought would be new, exciting, and as I imagine him saying, "hip with the kids." Vince asked if Konnan knew anybody who could design the suit, Konnan said yes, and $13,000 of McMahon's money later, the "Komet Kid" was born.

"Wait, Komet Kid? I thought he was Max Moon." Fear not, hypothetical reader I rely on to patch up my inability to transition smoothly between paragraphs; while Max Moon was the name used for most of the character's run, he debuted as Komet Kid. Moreover, he was alternatively referred to as "Comet Kid" or "Maximilian Moon" depending on what day of the week it was and/or the phase of the blood moon that haunts Vince McMahon's deepest subconscious. To avoid needless confusion over a bunch of names that all pretty much blow, I'll be using Max Moon for the rest of the article.

Also, as some of you may have noticed, that's definitely not Konnan in the second picture--unless Konnan magically became a white guy while in the WWF. As we all know, magic isn't real unless you're a History channel documentary writer or a Disney protagonist; the guy in the suit above is Tom Boric, ring name Paul Diamond, who formed one half of Badd Company and The Orient Express (after Akio Sato left) with Pat Tanaka. In fact, it's quite hard to find any video footage of Konnan as Max Moon; all I've managed to find so far are photos. Even in matches that Wikipedia states have Konnan under the mask, it's clearly Boric; so what gives?

Konnan's tenure as the character of his own creation was actually remarkably short, for a few reasons. As he recounts during interviews, other wrestlers were more than a little jealous of the new guy getting so much attention--and monetary investment--from Vince. Konnan describes himself as being naive and totally oblivious to this as it happened, though he admits his departure from the WWF was mostly of his own doing. He was making good money in Mexico, being a popular luchador as well as acting in a kids' TV show. In America, he was lugging 5 boxes of robot suit parts from place to place for every house show. He got in a fight with the Nasty Boys, which got him in trouble with pat Patterson. The backstage issues only mounted as he started missing TV tapings, culminating in him being fired after only a few months as the character.

As for how Diamond got into the Moon suit, it was simply a matter of timing and Vince not wanting to waste the money he spent--Diamond approached Vince, told him he fit in the suit, and that was that for Konnan in the WWF.

With Max Moon's sordid history and cavalcade of corny nomenclature over and done with, let's look at his entrance!


To be completely fair here, the little flash paper cannons were pretty cool for the time. They would've been much cooler if he was a heel who shot people in the face with them instead of leaving them by ringside then getting his ass kicked, but oh well. His costume looks about as threatening as a basket full of puppies and manages to seem uncool next to the intentionally comedic Repo Man, which is no small achievement. Not helping that fact is Diamond's insistence on rolling around like he's trying to fight a boss in Dark Souls. I'm sure it was to attempt to drive home the "from outer space" thing more, but he just ends up looking like that one kid in elementary school who thought doing tactical rolls would help in a fight. You know, the same kid who thought the Vulcan nerve pinch was an actual technique and had like 20 pockets full of lighters for some reason. In other words, less than convincing. Also less than convincing was the utterly flaccid "jetpack" he wore to the ring occasionally:


Here comes Peter Cottontail, hopping up the cybertrail.

As for the rest of the robot suit, it seems to have disappeared from the WWF along with Konnan. The only images of the thing are taken backstage, with Konnan--I can't find any in-ring or with Diamond. That means you'll just have to imagine poor Charles waddling awkwardly to the ring inside of his LEGO Gundam, instead of seeing it in glorious .gif form as I originally intended.

But I digress. As much as I'd like to continue making fun of his costume and entrance for the next 15 paragraphs, we eventually have to get to the actual wrestling part of wrestling--which both men under the mask were good at. Konnan's fame in Mexico was well-earned, and his tenure in WCW is nothing short of miraculous when you consider all the acrobatic moves he managed to do while wearing pants saggier than Jimmy Carter's neck. Unfortunately, as mentioned before, I can't actually find anything taped of him as Max Moon, so I'll have to take his word for it when he says his matches weren't very good due to not being knowledgeable about the North American style of wrestling at the time.

Paul Diamond may not have held a candle to Konnan's popularity, but he was no slouch either. Badd Company is one of my favorite tag teams, and were one of the first (along with the Rockers) to creatively implement two-person moves beyond finishers and the standard "you grab 'im while I punch 'im" deal. He was above average in singles competition as well, able to put on consistently enjoyable matches when booked against other competent wrestlers. The only exception to that I've seen is his match with Repo Man, which has approximately 700 too many rest holds for a seven-minute match. He didn't have a Shawn Michaels level of ability to pull a great match out of a sedated koala, but he certainly deserved more than ending up as such a jobber that volunteering to become a cyberpunk mardi gras dancer seemed like a good way to move up in the WWF.

Okay, maybe I'm being a bit too tough on the gimmick. At least one of his signature moves, a flying heel kick to the corner, was pretty darn cool.


His finisher is also mildly exciting, though it does look like Boric was one small botch away from breaking his neck every time he did it.


It's fine, they have hospitals in space.

Unfortunately, no amount of good ringwork can overcome flaccid booking, a complete lack of storylines, and a costume that the Men on a Mission would consider tacky; the gimmick quietly disappeared shortly after a loss to Shawn Michaels on the very first episode of Raw.  

That match, incidentally, was very good--despite the best efforts of Vince McMahon and my personal antichrist, Rob Bartlett, on commentary. Bartlett spends half the match doing the worst Mike Tyson impression I've ever heard, and the rest of it trying to be a funny heel like Bobby Heenan but forgetting to actually be funny. Even if he comes up with something that might be amusing, he ends up delivering the line like a disappointed parent about to beat their child and sucks all the possible fun out of it. This match sorely needs Gorilla Monsoon on commentary to say "Will you stop" every single time Bartlett opens his mouth. I will give him credit for two jokes, though. I think the first one was wholly unintentional, as he innocently asks McMahon to identify a move. After a few palpably uncomfortable seconds as McMahon racks his brain for the actual name of something wrestlers do, he quietly mumbles that it's "some sort of reverse chinlock." The second one is this:


McMahon, thankfully, actually calls the match beyond shouting "What a maneuver!" every ten seconds like a brain damaged parrot. Unfortunately, he still has to fake a laugh every time Bartlett spits out another late-term abortion of comedy, and McMahon's fake laughs sound like an old woman choking to death on crackers. Also, he instigated the Mike Tyson bit, which should, in my opinion, get him at least 5 years in a North Korean gulag.

Savage valiantly attempts to save the commentary team from itself, but one man--even a Macho Man--cannot overcome the dreaded McBartlett combination.


Try one now for only $9.99!**
*And your basic dignity as a human being
*And your ability to sleep without hearing WHATAMANEUVER every time you close your eyes

As long as you turn the sound off, it's a fun match full of reversals and the kind of acrobatic... maneuvers that didn't get showcased too often in early 90's WWF. Diamond even manages to pull off a #combat roll that doesn't look stupid, using it to do the "escape the corner as the other guy is running at you, causing him to hit the turnbuckle" spot that I'm pretty sure is in every single WWF match from 1984 to 1997. Michaels sells Max Moon as a legitimate threat, taking a count of about 2.9 after Moon lands his finisher before bouncing back to end it with a superkick and a teardrop suplex.

The match really encapsulates Diamond's run as Moon: good wrestling slathered in a big, heaping pile of bad everything else. No matter how hard he tried, it was clear from the first crowd reaction that Max Moon began his life destined to end up lost in space. 


Alone and unloved. Much like Pluto.

8:13 pm

Aggressive Advertising



That's an ad. A real ad. An ad that attempts to sell you a web hosting service on the premise that if you don't choose said web service, you must either eat fruitcake or be anally probed. Unnecessarily. Which of those options are the most frightening, I'll let you choose. Personally, I hate fruitcake. Not only that, but it brazenly accuses you, the presumed survey-answerer, of being an idiot for selecting the probing over the other two options. Who are you to judge, DreamHost? Maybe I don't want free web hosting. Maybe your free web hosting is bad enough that unneeded rectal examinations are preferable to using your services. Maybe I just happen to want a terrible dessert, or something in my ass. Or both. Or both in my ass. You don't know me!

So, this ad lands somewhere between "lizard nipples" and "zilch" on the scale of making sense, but that's why it's great. It may utterly fail at making me want to purchase a domain name, but it sure as hell made me stop and pay attention to it. It is to advertisements what a child in Walmart peeing on Tickle-Me Elmo and screaming is to parenting, and I love it. It's like the ultimate motivational self-help message, because no matter what anyone tells you, you can never be as bad at what you want to do in life as whoever made this shit. Think about it; someone hired them, sat them in a comfy office chair, and paid them to deliberate over what font to type "UNNECESSARY ANAL PROBE" in. For a web hosting ad. If they can land that sort of astronomically unlikely windfall, you can definitely become the star of your own network TV show all about reviewing anal beads. 

If you possess the ability to never take "no" for an answer, even--no, ESPECIALLY--when you should, then you too can be like DreamHost's marketing department; living your dream and completely fucking it up at the same time. 

That, or they all hate their jobs and upper management doesn't actually look at anything they produce before it gets published.

Either or.

11:13 pm

How not to Write: Tragedy


I'm not against bad endings. I'm not against tragedy in media, or literature that looks long and hard at things most of us flinch away from. I'm not against bittersweet endings; nothing makes triumph more poignant than sacrifice. I'm not against even the most hopeless of hopeless downer endings--if they're written well.

Some of the people who perpetrate that sort of ending do not write them well. They're amateur authors trying their hand at injecting the most EZ-bake anguish they can find into their story--that being death, cancer, or a freak accident between two trucks carrying payloads of newborn kittens. Here's a message for you folks: don't do this. There's nothing more painfully pointless than invalidating the main character's 300-page long struggles by having him trip over a plot doorstep and decapitate himself. If the protagonist is going to die, have them do so in a way that matters--and no, I don't mean slapping some ham-fisted, meaningless symbolism on there and calling it a day. This isn't a guide to 90's comics. What I mean is this: have them accomplish something. Whether that be stopping the bad guy's plan, having an emotional scene, coming to peace with their sins, or whatever--have the death mean something. Or else it's just going to come off as cheap, two-for-99-cents drama, because that's exactly what it is.

"Extra, extra! Kirby has polio, read all about it!"

For instance, say you're writing a story set in the present day. A stream-of-consciousness autobiography narrated by your main character, who is at a high point in his life; he got the girl, the job, and has a kid on the way. But, after a routine trip to the doctor, he learns that he has [INSERT FATAL ILLNESS HERE] and will only live for another year or two. From here, you could just write about how tragic and sad and Oscar-baity this all is. That would be bad. No, I'm not saying the plot point itself is bad, but here are better ways to do it:

1: He realizes how much everything in his life matters to him, and vows to make the people who supported him happy. He splurges on gifts, trips, all he can afford without draining the family account. He makes up with old enemies, and meets up with old friends. He does the things he always told himself he would do, but never did. He can, and does, die fulfilled.

2. He feels betrayed. How could random chance, genetics, or whatever else is responsible take his life away from him? He gets a drinking problem, starts arguing with his wife, loses his job. All he can think about is the deadline, the time he has left. Tick tick tick, drink drink drink; it keeps slipping by. He's hounded by regrets; debts unpaid, people unmet, ends not tied, and things both done and not done. Perhaps he makes peace with it by the end; perhaps he finds meaning in the old family religion, or in a book, or a cloud, or a past acquaintance. Perhaps he never does, and dies angry at the world that gave him it all only to yank it away without cause.

Those are by no means the only ways to proceed, or the most original; they're just examples of how to use tragic events to flesh out and enrich your plot, as opposed to just throwing them in like ghost peppers in a pasta sauce. Carelessly adding such potent ingredients to a recipe is a bad idea, and it's the same thing with a story; fuck up bad enough and both scenarios end with someone taking an apocalyptic volcano shit, be it in your bathroom or your comments section. Handle with care; do whatever you can to ensure that the tragedy isn't meaningless. After all, meaningless is the worst thing that a tragedy can be. 

Tragedy is not inherently a bad narrative tool; neither is death, or heartbreak, or a case of spontaneous combustion at a wedding. The thing is, they need finesse to be properly handled--a hell of a lot more finesse than it takes to write most other things. They need purpose. A bad ending isn't good writing just because it's sad--and it's quite awful writing if it makes your reader go "Wait, what?" instead of reaching for a box of "I'm not crying, there are onions committing seppuku on my counter" brand tissues.


Or "Decapitated Shakespeare's Thousand-Yard Stare" (tm) by Downy. 

So please, authors and authorettes, before you pen the dark, existential final chapter of your Dora the Explorer fanfiction, take pause and make sure you aren't tossing in Swiper's tragic death to lung cancer just for kicks. Make the slow, agonizing slip of a cartoon fox into the talking object-filled afterlife matter, dammit. 

1:43 am

Monday Music Post #3 -- The Super Thing by Devo (New Traditionalists, 1981)



Three songs in and we're already getting weird. Devo is one of my favorite bands, despite the fact that my first impression of them was that they didn't actually know how to make music. Past me wasn't exactly wrong; their lyrics range from from barely making sense, to not making sense, to a 12-minute saga that I'm halfway sure is about a guy masturbating to save the dystopian future. So why do I like them? I have no bloody idea. It's probably the guitar, the synth, the funny hats, and the fact that they're a bunch of disgruntled nerds writing music about disgruntled nerd things.

Over their life as a band, they went from angry, raw punk music with electric guitars and homemade electronics to something hewing much closer to the synthpop of the time. As you can probably tell, this song is right in between. It's got some awesome, heavy synth on the low end, and a decently righteous guitar solo. Google says it's about being the one who pushes the button to launch the good ol' nuclear salvo, but as with at least half of Devo's songs, it's really whatever you want it to be. Mostly because the lyrics are almost infuriatingly simple and opaque. Such is the way of the spud boys.

Before you say anything, yes, I am aware that it's Wednesday. This is my internet realm, I can do what I want.

9:17 pm

Stupid Wrestling Gimmicks #1 -- The Shockmaster


Since most people reading this probably aren't as well-versed in the history of man-grappling as I am, I feel it would be only polite to give you a starter course before I dip you scrote-deep in the stupid.

I'll start with something you probably do know already; what they call "professional wrestling" is scripted. Storylines are planned out, wrestlers are given characters play (called gimmicks), and rivalries (called feuds) are set up. The matches are choreographed, usually to the extent of a few big events, the time limit of the match, and the finish--the rest is up to the wrestlers to ad-lib. Though many people call it "fake," that's not quite the right word--after all, you can't fake a guy getting thrown through a table, or breaking his leg at a 90-degree angle when landing wrong after a jump. It's certainly not a competitive sport, like MMA, boxing or UFC. It's actually the opposite; everyone in the ring has to co-operate or somebody gets hurt. Who wins is dictated by the writers, called bookers, and what they think is best for the storyline--or for business.

Because wrestling is all about getting as many people to watch as possible, be it on TV or in the arena, bookers are under heavy pressure to create captivating storylines and interesting characters. With wrestling's history--in public consciousness, at least--stretching back to the 50's, sometimes the well of characters gets a little dry. Sometimes a bad gimmick is the result of said creative burnout. Some are good ideas, but fall flat in execution. Some are just completely unexplainable clusterfucks, such as the case of The Shockmaster.


What you see above is probably the most notorious debut in all of wrestling. It's a comedy of errors on a colossal scale, and this wasn't during a taping--this was live TV. So hundreds of thousands of fans got to see this guy come Frank Drebining through the wall with the force of a thousand Twinkies and fall over, depositing the bedazzled Stormtrooper helmet on the ground with an light thud. It doesn't get any better after that; you can clearly hear the British Bulldog loudly exclaiming "He fell flat on his fucking arse!" in the background (he gets shushed), while Sid Vicious can only manage a pained "Oh, God." Pretty much everyone there has an immediate vocal reaction; Colonel Robert Parker lets out the most Southern "My lawd" you've ever heard, and Booker T. chimes in with "Who is this motherfucker?"

The motherfucker in question was Fred Ottman, who previously worked in the WWF as Tugboat and Typhoon. He was quite popular; as Typhoon, he held the tag titles with future Stupid Gimmicks inductee "Earthquake" John Tenta. For such a big guy, he wasn't a bad wrestler, either. He had a good idea of how matches should be paced, he had a fair amount of moves, and he could even do some more acrobatic stuff like standing dropkicks in addition to the usual slams. If you couldn't tell, dropkicks are pretty hard to do--especially for a guy weighing somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 pounds.


"My career can't possibly take a massive nosedive after this!"

Too bad, then, that he had to be The Shockmaster. Attempting to salvage the situation, he begins gesturing to what he thinks is Ole Anderson doing a voice-over, but is actually Sid Vicious saying his lines. When the voice-over does come on, Ole can't help but chuckle at the beginning before launching into his speech. Nothing else goes wrong, mercifully, but at this point, it doesn't matter. The crowd is speechless; confused. This is Sting's tag partner that they'd been hyping up for weeks? This is their equalizer? A fat man in a Stormtrooper helmet? Even for fans at the time who were used to some cartoony shit, the whole situation was simply unbelievable.

That's the thing that made the Shockmaster gimmick so bad; not the entrance, but every single part of it. If he came through that wall perfectly, and if everything afterwards went off without a hitch, you'd still end up with the following:

1. A man wearing possibly the most non-threatening, unflattering outfit possible short of a bikini. Seriously, a fucking sleeveless fur jacket? Just because Aladdin can pull it off doesn't mean a guy with the physique of a taller Pillsbury Doughboy can.

2. That helmet. Need I say more?

3. A voice-over that sounds like a talking Christian Bale Batman toy with low batteries and water damage.

Yes, the Shockmaster was doomed from the start. That didn't stop WCW from ham-fistedly attempting to salvage the character, though, because if WCW did anything well it was taking already bad ideas and running them into the ground. The previously-feared mystery tag partner of Sting and the British Bulldog was now a clumsy oaf who wore a hard hat to the ring and had a fucked-up version of "Day Tripper" as his theme. Very subtle, guys. Also not helping was his mustache, which gave him a striking resemblance to that one uncle who peaked in Grade 11 and really, really likes Van Zant.


Rusty late 70's Pontiac not included.

And in case you thought his original intended ring attire would be better... well. You're clearly not seeing the pattern here.


I should make it clear that I'm not making fun of poor Fred, who either had to work with all of this or get fired (he did make the wise decision to go back to the WWF later). If you look up some of his interviews, he seems like a really nice, down-to-earth guy. Most people would be bitter about their entire career, their livelihood, and all their achievements being overshadowed by three minutes that will live on forever. Not Fred. He's taken lemons, fallen through a wall, and made lemonade.

I'm making fun of the people in charge who decided that a Stormtrooper helmet covered in glitter and a jacket most grade-school theatre classes would throw out made an imposing ensemble. The people who decided not to remove that shin-high 2x4 because "Eh, he'll just step over it." The people who thought that this:


Was better than this:


And would look threatening compared to this:


Trust me, WCW and its weird addiction to making wrestlers wear jeans to the ring is going to be on this list a lot. Of course, they never tried to make a well-known, beloved black wrestler into an African tribesman named "Saba Simba," so they've got that going for them.

See you next time.

9:17 pm

Masturbation Techniques


Have you ever been in the middle of a wholesome session of weasel rubbing and thought, holding your dick contemplatively, that it was all getting a little boring? Do you want something to spice up your nonexistent sex life without having to tell the cashier exactly what size of dildo or what Wheel of Fortune porn parody you want? Well, do I have the roughly organized collection of pictures and words for you! Read on, traveler, and discover many heretofore unknown ways to make your ancestors cry.

The Sloppy Ham-Fist


The classic we all know and love. Just grab the thing and yank. Pretty self-explanatory, but that doesn't stop people from somehow fucking it up every day. The bacon cheeseburger of masturbation, a sloppy ham-fist is warm, comfortable, satisfying, and known to cause heart failure.

The British



Much like the ham-fist, the British is a simple maneuver to pull off for newcomers to the art of expressive sausage smacking. It's ideal for royalty, indie band fans who think they're better than everyone else for doing it ironically, British people who want to quickly identify their nationality on Chatroulette, and people with small penises. Some of those may overlap. To perform, simply grasp the tip of your penis with as few fingers as possible, mutter something about peasants, and proceed to distastefully scowl your way to orgasm.

The Wishful Thinking



The Wishful Thinking is as simple as pretending you have an extra few inches when you really don't. Hover that hand up there, buddy. Length is overrated.

The Julius Caesar



This one is where it starts to get a little difficult. First, put your hand sideways, thumb out, as if riding a snowmobile with cool friends you don't have. Then, begin to make a thumbs-up motion before quickly turning it into an imperious thumbs-down. Open your fingers enough to fit your Peter Piper in and wank furiously, jabbing yourself in the crotch with your thumb as you go. You are now a real Roman Emperor. If you weren't already, try doing this one while thinking of an angry, shirtless Gerard Butler overacting.

The Caesar Salad



Close in name if not in execution, the Caesar Salad starts with pouring Worcestershire Sauce on your dick and ends with a horrible smell and a hearty helping of shame for the whole family. Fossilized bread cubes and tasteless grated cheese may be added for further accuracy, depending on your dedication and willingness to get a horrible infection.

The Firestarter



It's time to go retro. You are a caveman, watching sabertooth tigers gamboll about the wilderness or whatever you do when not hunting, pooping or crying into your Pabst. Night falls, and it is time to start a fire. Do not stop until there is smoke. Needless to say, lube is a no-go in this, the purest and most ancient of all methods.

The Indian Burn


I think this is pretty obvious. Just try not to yell too loudly, or your neighbors will notice.

The Twin Towers


Depending on your personal beliefs, this is either a sudden and unforeseeable attack on your genitalia, or something George W. Bush Jr. planned out so he could have an excuse to steal oil from people in the desert. Either way, it's the reason you can't ride a plane without having your testicles palmed by an unimpressed lady wearing blue surgical gloves.

The Boa Constrictor



Do you enjoy the feeling of being fatally choked by a giant snake? Did that sentence make Freud adjust his skeletal pants? If both of your answers are "yes," get a garden hose and close the blinds, because you won't want the Hendersons to see this one. No complicated procedures here, just wrap your dick in the hose and pull until you might need an ambulance. Remember, I'm not legally culpable for any of this. Just because someone on the internet says you can do something, doesn't mean you should.

The Astronaut


One small fap for man, one gigantic disappointment for your mother; The Astronaut involves finding a small glass bowl, securing it tightly it over the head of your shuttle, and achieving liftoff. This exercise is sure to make your Armstrong, but the only rule is not to let the helmet slip off; otherwise you'll really learn the meaning of "explosive decompression." Try this one and let your semen become space men.

Now that you know of these most hallowed and ancient techniques, you are ready to embark upon whole new horizons in the world of bachelordom. Enjoy mastering masturbation, my friends, and take the following words to heart: as long as insurance covers it, you'll be fine.

1:50 pm

Overcompensation Station


You see them a lot out here. They've got big chrome grilles, lifted suspensions, and gigantic, shiny rims that look like they came straight from a 2005 rap video. They're to rural Canada what big SUVs and Lamborghinis are to the Los Angeles elite. They're a redneck status symbol. They are an undying phenomenon. They are the cowboy's Cadillac.


Now let me shit on your Cadillac.

First of all, Chad--because I'm going to assume that your name is Chad, you're 28, date teenagers and work at the grocery store--those wheels are ridiculous. They're an affront to taste. They meet the eyes like a botched vajazzling job or a starving Ugandan child. I wouldn't be so bothered if they were just ugly--ugly and functional is O.K. The problem is, they're not functional. I mean, sure, they work as wheels at a basic level by virtue of being round, but beyond that... do you know what happens when you try to go off-road with huge wheels and tiny tires? The giant lift kit on your truck suggests that you like to go off-road; otherwise you'd be imbuing your vehicle with a ridiculously high center of gravity for no reason other than perceived status, and clearly you wouldn't ever do something stupid like that, Chad. Here, I'll give you a picture, because I know reading is not your strong point.


See that, Chad? That's what happens when trucks with giant rims and narrow tires go off-road. Without a large enough tire to absorb impacts, every jolt or impact transfers all of its force directly to the wheel. And those big-ass wheels are not cheap to fix or replace. The guy in the red truck has it right; his tires are appropriately sized to stand up to the abuse he intends to put them through. Your tires would be punctured by a medium-sized pebble, or perhaps an unusually sharp carrot leaning at an unfortunate angle. From this fact, I must assume one of two scenarios:

1) You lifted your truck, reducing fuel efficiency, safety, stability, speed, acceleration, comfort and usefulness, just so you could look "cool."

-- Or --

2) You have no fucking idea how to modify a vehicle for heavy off-road use and have never heard of Google before.

Now, both of those are entirely possible. Still, my cynical mind tends to believe that you know exactly what you're doing and simply hope that no one notices.

Everyone notices, Chad. People driving Priuses think you're emasculating yourself; more than that, they hate you with a burning passion when it's time to park and your truck is taking up 1.4 spaces because you couldn't see the curb from all the way up there on the Throne de la Douche.

Ah, whatever. At least you didn't make a donk.

My eyes.

2:59 am

Updates!


Well, it's finally happened. I was really hoping to avoid this, but there comes a time when every blog has a self conscious, "I'll update soon, I swear!" post. Usually, that post is followed by the exact same thing in different words two months later, and then the blog's face is held underwater until there aren't any more bubbles coming up. This can happen for many reasons, including author fatigue, busy real-life schedules, horrible life-altering injuries, and so on.

Good thing I don't have to worry about any of those things! I get up at lunchtime, have no steady job, and the most dangerous thing I do is stay up late watching Cosmos on Netflix until I start staring at the ceiling patterns and thinking about the meaning of life. It's safe to say I'll be here for a while. So what's the deal? Why am I so slow at writing this shit? The reasons are laid out as follows, in no particular order.

~Reasons Why I'm Slow to Update This Blog~

- I'm lazy
- I take seven years to edit shit until my neurotic, perfectionist brain is happy with it
- Videogames exist
- Internet chatrooms also exist
- Little green men have stolen my funny and I can't get it back

What's that? You have no sympathy for the blogger with an incredibly easy life? Ah, but you see, it's so hard to... um... to type words with no restrictions, requirements, or... or...

Yeah, I'm going to stop digging this hole. All I will say is that I can, with 100% certainty, promise you a fat man covered in glitter falling through a wall, this week.

Prepare to be shocked.

2:18 pm

Monday Music Post #2 -- The Untimely Death of Brad by Five Iron Frenzy (Quantity is Job 1, 1998)



It's ska time, baby! "The Untimely Death of Brad" tells the story of... well, Brad's untimely death. Who could've guessed? The Brad in question is Nathanael "Brad" Dunham, the band's trumpet player. Thing is, he's not dead; the song is a satirical poke at online rumours of his death, which started after he had a fill-in during a concert. The real reason he wasn't able to attend were family matters, but the lead singer joked that it was because he was dead. Within a few days, the internet was full of people believing that he actually died. The lyrics of the song are bloody hilarious, featuring a line in which they tell you to console the poor dead trumpet player if you see him around.

The song itself is groovy. The trumpet playing is great, especially for a dead guy, and the chorus has been stuck in my head for at least a week.

Interesting fact: Five Iron Frenzy is a Christian band. Being labeled a "Christian band" is usually a red flag for me. Most Christian rock albums consist of 7 different songs that might as well be the same song, except for how loudly and for how long the discount Steve Perry of a lead singer screams "Jeeeeesus!" into the microphone. They sound like someone who only listened to "Dreams" by Van Halen and thought that song was too hardcore made a band by picking a few senior managers from Waffle House and giving them instruments.

For some reason, Christian ska avoids this. Christian ska actually tends to be really good--see the OC Supertones. Maybe it's because ska music tends to have a sense of humour and self-awareness; maybe trumpets just turn everything they touch into gold. Either way, Five Iron Frenzy elevates itself far above the usual schlock by being able to talk about both serious subjects like religion, belief, love, police brutality, and so on, while also having a sense of humour. They are the band that made a 7 minute multi-genre rock opera about pants, after all.

5:07 pm

On Classic Car Chases; or, the Lost Art of Auto-Calamity


As you may or may not know, I like cars. I like cars a lot. Much like a Canucks fan, I can't really justify or explain it. I salivate at the thought of owning a Ferrari Testarossa. My heart is occupied by expensive, impractical things with two seats and barely enough luggage space for one third of the toolkit needed to inevitably fix them. If a billionaire's trust fund baby has ever smashed one into a tree at 100 MPH, I guarantee you I both know what it is and want one. If I ever bought an expensive house, it would be a one bedroom, one bathroom bachelor castle with a garage slightly bigger than Rhode Island. If you cut me, I bleed coolant and start cursing in Italian.


"Il mio fondo fiduciario!"

The only thing I like more than cars with stupid faces are cars that go fast, and that brings me to my subject today: the car chase. Almost an institution in TV and film from the 60's to the 80's, car chases seem to have fallen out of style nowadays. Sure, you have your Fasts, your Furiouses (both of which I heartily approve of) and your James Bonds, but other than those, the art of organized automotive mayhem seems to be lost.

I'm not saying all old car chases were masterpieces. The chases in T.J. Hooker (starring William Shatner), for instance, were orderly, single-file processions that barely seemed to break 30 MPH. They had all the speed of Shatner himself and none of the inexplicable charm. If you accidentally fast-forwarded through them, you wouldn't notice until people started talking like drug-addled chipmunks.

T.J. Hooker, though, is not a shining example; Gone in 60 Seconds is a shining example. You've probably heard of it. The plot is a mess and the acting is sub-par, but neither of those things are what made it famous. 30 minutes of smashing, bashing, engine-roaring, car destroying poetry is what made it famous. 

You read that right.

30 minutes.

The movie spends the better part of your average hour-long TV show, minus commercials, on a car chase. You might think that would be boring; it's not. Every minute is tense, exciting, (mostly) well-shot, and most importantly to me, 100% practical effects. No CGI here, folks; this is 1974. Every wrecked car is a real wrecked car. Every jump was created with a ramp and the stuntman's testicles. It's ambitious, it's dangerous, it's expensive as hell, and it is awesome. If you've got the time and have the interest, watch it for yourself: 


If you don't have a solid half-hour to watch things go vroom, I'll try to explain it as best I can:


That about sums it up. The main character, Maindrian Pace (who the fuck names their child "Maindrian?") glibly espouses that he should've read his horoscope before immediately ramming into an unmarked Mercury police cruiser, igniting a chase that spans six California cities, from Long Beach to Carson. The cars are period barges, softly-sprung and wallowy. They pitch and roll like 4000-pound kayaks. The tires on them are of the era, meaning shit; traction is a pipe dream enjoyed only by race cars and people driving at the speed limit. Drifts, tire smoke and that good ol' V8 roar are the order of the day as Pace and the police try (and fail) to negotiate packed L.A. streets at high speed. Cars get hit. A lot. According to my old friend and teachers' enemy Wikipedia, 93 cars were wrecked in this film; the number seems about right. The sheer amount of carnage on display is incredible, featuring fires, flips, near-death experiences for cast members, and a hell of a lot of irresponsible stunts. It is, in my opinion, as close as any car chase can come to perfection--slightly wonky camera work and all.

What makes it even more impressive is the production; this wasn't some big-budget, star-studded Hollywood blockbuster. On the contrary, if it weren't for said chase, it'd be a forgettable B-movie. The brainchild of one H.B. Halicki (I'll go ahead and say it stands for "Helluva Badass"), Gone in 60 seconds had a budget of about $150,000; small potatoes, even at the time. For comparison, Bullitt had a budget roundabouts $5.5 million. Halicki was the writer, director, producer and star of the movie; he went so far as to do all his own stunts, one of which (the final jump) left him limping for life. He cast relatives and friends for the movie to save money, hence the sometimes-questionable acting. The movie only had a script for the main dialogue sequences; the rest was ad-libbed on the spot, making the act of putting the film together a headache for editor Warner E. Leighton. Even the chase sequences--something you'd think would be thoroughly hashed out beforehand--were sometimes done on-the-spot, explaining some of the seemingly odd cuts made during the scene.
So, this is a great chase. I don't think that's in question. Despite the lukewarm critical reception to the rest of the film, the final chase is widely regarded (not just by crazy, long-winded blog people) as one of the finest ever. Other contenders for that title include such company as The French Connection, Bullitt, Vanishing Point, and The Italian Job. Notice anything in common between those films? That's right, they're all old. Like, "I remember back in the day when L.A. was as smoggy as Beijing is now" old. Bee Gees old. William Conrad being famous old. So what happened to the classic, smoky-burnouts-and-cardboard-boxes car chase?

The first reason, I think, is that people got tired of 'em. They're all well and good when done right, as seen above, but more than half of car chases during their heyday were rote, by-the-numbers affairs that were only really done because they seemed requisite at the time. Watch one 70's detective show, and you'll like it; watch 'em all and you'll be screaming incoherently about conveniently-placed trash cans and bad camera angles. The movie and TV world just became oversaturated with the things by the 80's, contributing to what I must imagine was a general bumper-cam-induced fatigue.

Reason number two are the cars themselves. 60's and early 70's cars were perfect for chases due to the reasons I described before; namely, high power, low grip and a big drama factor. Every corner was a precipitous dangle over the edge of grip, heavy with engine roar and squealing tires. Skip ahead to nowadays, and you have family sedans that have to be pushed to 80 MPH and over to make a squeak. Low-speed drama is almost nonexistent due to modern tires and suspensions; what was a hairy, edge-of-the-limit maneuver in 1974 is almost a lazy Sunday drive now. Another consequence of those modern suspensions is ride height; see all the off-roading, hill-climbing and bump-clearing shenanigans that went on in the chase above? That wouldn't work with modern cars. Carmakers figured out long ago that lower suspensions meant less body roll, and better on-road performance; since most cars aren't meant for off-road use, there was no drawback to bringing them closer to the ground. A modern Mustang could barely hop a curb, let alone go running free in a construction site like its 70's counterpart. That restricts filmmakers to using only SUVs and trucks, jacking up sports cars to a ridiculous (and obvious) degree, or keeping things on the road--for the most part.

So in order to create drama, filmmakers now have to increase speeds, choreograph more elaborate stunts, be better directors, or gussy things up with CGI. Guess which route most take. I know, I know. "Computer-generated effects have gotten good enough that we can't tell the difference anymore." Except we can. If not by the effect, then by how it's used. For a quick example of how NOT to CGI, consider and shake your head at the following:


Look at that corny-ass shit. It's from 2008, yes, but CGI was good enough by then. It wasn't technology that handicapped the makers of that scene, it was taste. The gaudy panel-switching with no seeming place for the panels to go. The dumb magic blueberry engine juice. That fucking badge. It's awful. Transformers did the same thing, but they actually made it look good. Even then you have the issue with applying CGI in chase scenes; it kind of kills the point of them, to me. Chases are enjoyable to watch for the driving skill, the speed, the choreography and the stunts, sure; but a big part of why I love them is the pure physical mayhem. The destruction. The fact that every beautiful car you see wrecked was an actual car. The difference between having two computerized martial artists fight and hiring some real ones. This sounds almost hipster-ish, but it feels more authentic when I know there's been no fudging of the action, just grinding metal and shrieking tires.

The original Knight Rider, starring David "Chest Hair" Hasselhoff, was corny to the point of constipation, but it certainly did one thing better than the remake; the jumps. Sure, they usually had awkward camera cuts, or obviously fatal damage to the car, or the ramp was obviously in the shot, but I still like them better than the new ones. Why? Because something real, something tangible, got smashed. Well, except for the ones where they just throw a Hot Wheels into a sandbox, but nobody's perfect.


Nobody except Hasselhoff-senpai.

After all this nostalgic mustache-waxing about a time period I wasn't even alive in, I think it's only fair that I talk about some modern car chases that I particularly enjoyed. Starting out with a franchise that somehow got better by the third movie, we have Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift. Unfortunately, the only full video of the chase I could find on Youtube is a music video, so unless you like rap, just turn the volume off and make engine noises with your mouth. Also, spoiler alert for a movie from 2006. Time travelling blog readers and extreme slowpokes, you have been warned.


For a series that previously treated physics like ISIS treats captured journalists, that sure is a hell of an improvement. Big, beautiful drifts, perfect cinematography, lots of cars, some good fender-benders; it's all so graceful I could almost call it a ballet. Remember, this is what the last movie was like:


"I'm so good at driving my car goes 80 MPH backwards!"

So I regard Tokyo Drift as somewhat of a miracle; the movie as a whole is cheesier than a Saskatchewan dairy farm, but damn. Just look at those drifts. LOOK AT THEM.


Hnng.

Next up is Jack Reacher, directed by Christopher McQuarrie and starring Tom Cruise. The choice of Tom Cruise is amusing, because Tom Cruise is 5'7" and Jack Reacher is 6'5". I assume that either his ego or his fascination with volcano aliens filled the missing 10 inches.


As much as I may poke fun at the man who will be forever known mostly for believing in scientology and participating in unintentionally homoerotic shirtless volleyball scenes, he does a damn good job in this movie. Sometimes I forget he's actually an actor, and not just a crazy man who sometimes wanders onto movie sets. The chase is good, too. It's pretty low-key, with no dramatic trumpets or multi-car pile-ups. It doesn't need them; the cinematography is fantastic, with a very heavy atmosphere and some great camera angles. Something about it is just captivating, and I'd say the lack of music makes it all the more tense. Besides, the Chevelle's rip-snorting 454 is more than capable of providing a roaring soundtrack all by itself. I especially like the low, rumbling idle while Reacher and one of Hollywood's patented Serious Black Men (tm) stare each other down. It's like an old cowboy flick, just with horsepower instead of the horses themselves. It's all wrapped up with a neat little bow as the chase ends with Reacher's incredibly casual escape from the police. Seriously, the guy's exit is smoother than a heavily-lubed midget sliding down a laundry chute.

Last but not least, we have Death Proof. This one's got blood, swearing and Kurt Russell being balls-out, pants-on-head crazy, so be warned if you have an allergic reaction to awesome; this will kill you. The rest of the movie is pretty meh, with Tarantino trying to pay homage to stuntmen and slasher films at the same time, leaving the plot with about as much substance as a dehydrated marshmallow. The final chase scene absolves any and all sins of the previous hour, though. Trust me, this one's a ride from start to finish. When Tarantino gets things right, he gets them so right that somewhere in the world, Angela Merkel gets aroused and does not know why. You think that's an incredibly strained connection that makes almost no sense? Well, you're right, but watch the goddamn chase. It's awesome.


That was something, huh? The combination of music, cinematography, acting... everything just works. It's exciting, it's dramatic, it's aggressive, and it's not safe for sensitive ears. There's probably more swearing in those 17 minutes than there is in a day of living with the Iron Sheik, and that's saying a lot.

Aside from the above examples, car chases seem to be a dwindling art. Maybe it's because of waning viewer interest, or waning director interest. Maybe it's the difficulty of smoothly fitting 15 minute speed-fests into most plots, or the difficulty of convincing studios to spend more money on said 15 minutes than on the rest of the movie combined. Maybe it's all of the above. Regardless, some directors, stuntmen and co-ordinators strive to put great car chases in movies today. To those people, the brave souls standing proud against a background of smashed bumpers and needless explosions, I salute you. Your months of work, sweat and fractured bones is my mediocre blog post. Jesus Chrysler bless.

---

More notable car chases that I might write something about, and you might enjoy:

- Freebie and the Bean
- The Seven-Ups
- Short Time
- The Driver
- Ronin

There you have it; my first and most definitely not last automotive post. This one's been sitting in my half-assed, half-finished folder for quite a while, so it's nice to finally let it out of the airlock like a fart in a crowded movie theatre.