Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

Posted by Kurt

I didn't expect much when I impulse bought this book at a used book store.  I recognized Toby Young's name from his appearances as an occasional guest judge on Top Chef, where I didn't like him much but appreciated his shameless bitterness, and I found the book title very clever.  When I finally got around to reading the book, though, I was surprised to love it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Carillon Restaurant - Austin, TX

Posted by Kurt

I took a quick trip to Austin this month for a family vacation, and I flew in a night before everyone else, so I made plans with a friend to try a restaurant that used a little more molecular gastronomy than my family members would enjoy.  It turns out that I gave my friend the wrong date (by three months, ouch - I originally said I’d be in town in December and didn’t catch the typo and made all the rest of the plans with “We have reservations for the 21st at 8:30!” I am an idiot.), so I waited by myself for a few minutes debating between eating alone or going to bed early after a long day of travel.  I decided to stick around and enjoy the 6-course tasting menu, and I’m so happy that I did.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bloodrayne 3

Posted by Matt

My affection for Uwe Boll is pretty well-stated on this blog. He is the German director who tilts at windmills, but in this case, those windmills are the film adaptation of violent video games. So more like tilting at cheap motels. I have loved the aggressive mediocrity of Bloodrayne, House of the Dead, and Alone in the Dark. He is the German Ed Wood, and for me, that is a compliment. The original video game of Bloodrayne, according to Wikipedia, pitted a hot girl vampire-human hybrid against some Nazis. Boll interpreted this for the first movie to mean, "Hot blonde girl half-vampire swordfights in the middle ages." For the sequel, he recast her as a brunette on Xanax and had her chasing Billy the Kid through the Wild West. Tonight, I decided to watch Bloodrayne 3: The Third Reich, which will finally pit our half-vampire-full-badass heroine against the spectre of a vampire Hitler. Keeping it classy, German director.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown

Posted by Kurt

Like many people born in 1980 or later, I grew up with a vague notion of Jonestown as a weird town in a jungle where a bunch of people in a cult drank poison Kool-Aid and died.  I use the term “drink the Kool-Aid” when I refer to someone completely buying in to an idea or a cause.  But until I read this book, I never really knew what Jonestown was all about.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Comics roundup for 9/14/11

Posted by Matt

Quick thoughts on Fear Itself 6, Ultimate Spider-Man 1, and some of Marvel's other releases...


Posted by Matt

In honor of finishing my psychiatry exam today, I am celebrating with the most brainless psych movie I could find, Insanitarium, starring Jesse Metcalfe. From the box alone, I am already giggly. The tagline is "Your sanity is the least of your problems," which is either bad grammar and word choice OR implies that sane people will not enjoy this movie. Either way, I'm in. And the back includes the sentence "Trapped inside an inescapable labyrinth, will he and his sister find a way out before the relentless cannibals hunt them down?" So either, A, no, or B, someone is not really using the word "inescapable" well. And if this is the quality control involved in convincing people to pay for this crap, I am pretty stoked about how they'll treat me now that I have committed to watching this movie.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ready Player One

Posted by Kurt

This book is The Da Vinci Code for Swatch Dogs, Diet Coke heads, and guild leaders. For absolutely mindless entertainment, it's just fine, but everything here is about as shallow as a 2-D side-scroller like Super Mario Brothers (and not one of the sequels with a storyline, just the one about jumping and running).

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge

Posted by Kurt

I nearly gave up on this book shortly after I started it. I was born in late 1980, so I was only ten years old when Nevermind hit the stores and brought grunge into mainstream America, so during the years that grunge was vital and relevant, I was a little too young to connect with it. My friends’ cool older siblings liked Soundgarden and Nirvana and Pearl Jam (although the fourth big grunge band is consistently listed as Alice in Chains, I have never had a personal relationship with anyone interested in that band), and I had a couple of Pearl Jam CDs on my shelf collecting dust (because my mom had heard somewhere that all the cool kids liked Pearl Jam, and she wasn’t going to tolerate a kid who wouldn’t even try to be cool), but I was never really an active grunge fan. I mean, I liked flannel because it was a style that was kind to fat kids, but I didn’t personally connect to the music. Even today, I generally reference Kurt Cobain when I’m helping people who want clarification on how I spell my name, but I’m certainly not a devoted Nirvana fan. And the first 100-150 pages of this book are largely concerned with the regional roots of grunge. Many vapid observations about bands you’ve probably never heard of: “Man, I went to that U-Men show at that venue, and I was sooooo drunk...” “Yeah, there was a dead cat at that one show, and it was crazy...” “Yeah, I met this member of my new band in my high school, and we smoked pot at his mom’s house, then I met this other member of my new band in my high school and we smoked pot at my mom’s house...” It was a bunch of people telling inane stories about when they used to be cool in their hometown. And with no connection, I was prepared to give up on the book and write a polite review about how it’s only geared toward those who are already intense grunge fans.

And then Courtney Love showed up.