Every Tuesday, all the latest video games, DVDs and CDs are released, taunting you with their entertainment possibilities. In order that we might entice you further into wasting your hard-earned money on bright bibelots, here's a run-down of what's out today. (Read previous posts.)
Katy Perry, Teenage Dream
Finally, somebody releases an album of annoyingly catchy pop music. It's been forever, right? But with lyrics like these (the opening to "Firework" posits "Do you ever feel like a plastic bag?" to which I of course must answer yes, I often feel painfully white), getting these songs stuck in your head is more dangerous to your mental health than usual. But obviously, not every amazing thought in Perry's glamour-stricken head can be pressed into album form. That's why "Milk, Milk, Lemonade" is only available through Internet chicanery. It's probably a good thing, though. The song, which is exactly what you think it is (the rhyme every 6-year-old uses to make scatological references), would have signaled the death of the euphemism. Remember, if you're trying to use a double entrende, it has to mean something other than the risqué reference. I'm looking at you, Britney Spears' "If You Seek Amy."
- Apolcalyptica, 7th Symphony — As I’m sure you’re all aware, symphonic metal is not only the perfect expression of music as an art form, but really the preeminent form of vibrations stimulating your cochlear nerves. This, in short, is a musical, stylistic and even physiological masterpiece.
- Conan O'Brien, And They Call Me Mad?, Live at the Third Man — Conan, the comedian/late-night host/internet phenom/live-action Muppet, is releasing not one but two albums. Live at the Third Man is a rockabilly album recorded with the legendary Jack White, while And They Call Me Mad is half improvised-story-inspired-by-Frankenstein and half Conan-being-interview-by-Jack White. I’ll whisper to Conan what I’m often compelled to yell at Seth MacFarlane when I see him doing anything: That’s cool and all, but for the love of God would you please get back to making funny TV?
- Jeremy Camp, We Cry Out: The Worship Project — Even Christian musicians need to pay for their mansions. Fun South Park-inspired game as you listen: Replace all references to “Jesus” with “baby” or some other term of affection. Laugh. Then feel bad. Head to Mass to absolve your guilt.
- Mogwai, Special Moves — As I’m not allowed to have opinions of my own in regard to music (by court order), rest assured this album got an 8.2 from Pitchfork. Revel comfortably in your hipsterosity. (Hipsteraciousness? Hipsteracity?)
- Ra Ra Riot, The Orchard — The first full-length album from Ra Ra Riot, the “raucously literate” (Spin’s description that means, near as I can tell, absolutely nothing) group that spawns effusive adjectival phrases like the Octo-Mom pumps out offspring. RRR (pronounced just by rolling your Rs for half a minute or so, I believe) sands some of the rougher edges off their EP sound in proving that having a bachelor’s in English is useful for something other than making coffee.---
The Simpsons, Season 13
Though not exactly in the "golden years" pantheon of Simpsons seasons (most of the last half was pretty stultifying), Season 13 still provided us with some great episodes. "She Of Little Faith" sees Mr. Burns commercializing the church (Those silly animated characters! Something like that could never happen in the real world!), and "Jaws Wired Shut" is a grand throwback to the emotional underpinnings of great episodes of yore. "Tales From The Public Domain" serves as one of the better cross-over episodes ever — who doesn't enjoy a good Ophelia joke? Above is a Harry Potter send-up from this season’s "Treehouse of Horror."
- The Back-Up Plan — Fans of the genre may have been lamenting the death of the rom-com of late, but I say you can’t kill that which never lived. Jennifer Lopez is trying to get artificially inseminated but then (by pure happenstance!) meets the man of her dreams. It’s The Switch without the switch; i.e., it lacks the sole reason that movie even got made.
- Dorian Gray — You’d think a story revolving entirely around the good looks of its main character would do better as a movie than a book, but critics were mixed. All I can comment on is the studio’s synopsis: “Dorian Gray is very handsome — and very cursed.” As opposed to lightly cursed, or sparingly cursed. Personally, I prefer just a pinch of curse with a dash of doom.
- City Island — A corrections officer who secretly dreams of being an actor attends night classes to help him along, even though his wife thinks he’s out playing poker. It’s a portrait of a (slightly surreal) family facing problems in real-life fashions. Arguments are loud, messy and don’t always wrap up in five minutes; but unlike participating in them in real life, watching these is fun.
- 90210: The Second Season — That’s the second series of the CW remake, not the Beverly Hills, 90210 original. So you won’t see Scott accidentally shoot himself after finding his father’s gun, or Brenda facing the wrath of her parents upon returning from her trip to Mexico. (That show’s so old, even I don’t get my references.)
- Group Sex — The best thing that can be said about this movie is, "Hey! Tom Arnold's still alive. How about that?"
- The Age Of Stupid — If future archivists looked at footage from our time to divine why we did nothing to address climate change, what would they find? Everything in this movie, apparently.
- Kick-Ass Heroes — Coming soon to a Wal-Mart near you in order to snooker unsuspecting grandparents who’re only trying to buy that “butt-kick movie” their grandchildren seemed to like so much.
- Titanic II — I'll make you a deal. If you promise not to buy this movie, I'll let you watch this old SNL animated short called Titey that's a thousand times better. As the fake trailer for the fake movie says, "don't miss Titey — or your child will hate you."
Mafia II (X360, PS3, PC)
The first Mafia game was a hit, building off the success of the enormously popular Godfather game (itself a skinned version of one or another of the GTA series). Compelling gameplay (Shooting up bars! Watching the mob hack your best friend to pieces!) sucks you in and doesn’t let go, though the story is a bit lacking. Decidedly more linear than you’d expect from a sandbox-y game, luckily the team behind the game seems to have taken to heart the lessons learned from the Assassin’s Creed developers: Make sure your missions are different enough to stave off boredom. Law enforcement is a bit rickety — speeding brings down the heat, but careening off cop cars falls into a murkier area. Overall, though, it’s a game about guns, broads and booze. How can it fail?
- Worms Reloaded (PC) — Worms is back! The turn-based two-player Missile Defense-derivative (with WORMS!) is here for another go-round. I’d tell you the features, new additions and upgrades, but who cares? Worms!
- Scott Pilgrim (XBLA) — Because Sony paid extra money for a limited exclusive, probably. Pay attention to the soundtrack — chiptune band Anamanaguchi is superbly suited for this game.
- NHL 2K11 (Wii) — Though I’m always somewhat surprised to come across hockey on TV, it’s infinitely more fun in video game form. Kind of like soccer. Except soccer’s not much fun in video games, either.
- Grease: The Game (Wii, DS) — Because of course. The only real question is why it isn’t called Glee: Grease: The Game.
- The Bachelor (Wii, DS) — I have no idea how you would make this into a game. I really don’t.
- The Treasures of Montezuma (DS) — Despite being a casual game (and thus pretty hard to screw up), one can’t help but note that most references to Montezuma are of the “revenge” variety … calling up all manner of unsightly images as to what “treasures” may await.