Tuesday, September 28, 2010

THIS JUST OUT: Too-controversial-for-its-own-good edition

Posted on Tue, Sep 28, 2010 at 10:02 AM

MUSIC
Lonely Avenue, Ben Folds & Nick Hornby

The ambassadors of hipsterdom to their specific media type (music and novels/novels-turned-into-movies about music, respectively) collaborated for this much-anticipated recording, each bringing their talents to one side of the musical equation. Ben Folds certainly sounds like Ben Folds, while Nick Hornby's lyrics are distinctively his ("You know what hope is/Hope is a bastard/Hope is a liar/A cheat and a tease").

It's an enjoyable listen, if not technically sock-blowing. By the time you get to the third track, "Levi Johnston's Blues," you'll know you've made a purchase worth keeping on the "Recently Played" auto-playlist in iTunes. But really, the most important thing you need to know is they have a song about me. No, really! The first track, "A Working Day," goes "Some guy on the 'net thinks I suck/And he should know, he's got his own blog." I have a blog on the Internet and think lots of things suck! But your psychic abilities aren't quite as honed as you'd like to think, Ben Folds. I don't think you suck (this time). Once again, I am triumphant. Victory lap around the Internet, everybody!

  • World Gone Crazy, The Doobie Brothers — It's retro week at This Just Out, and we're kicking things off old-school. Old, old, old, old, old, old school.
  • Invented, Jimmy Eat World — "Consistent" can be a good thing (if you're on the receiving end of William Tell's arrow), or a bad one ("consistently psychotic" is not marriageable material). In this case, it's good.
  • Going Back, Phil Collins — The title refers to Phil Collins "going back" to his Motown roots, not "going back" to the vile pits from whence he emerged. Sadly*.
  • Making Monsters, Combichrist — … I don't think I'm allowed to make this joke.
  • Legend Recognize Legend, Lazerbeak — I know you probably think I just chose this because of the album cover. But that's not true; the album cover is lame, the band's name is what sold me. It's still pretty sweet music, though. Check it.

DVD
Family Guy's "Partial Terms of Endearment"

Oh, Family Guy. I don't know why you put yourselves through the pain of making controversial episodes that would never air on network television but garner plenty of publicity for the inevitable DVD release. It's almost like you do it on purpose or something. But you would never do that, right Family Guy? You'd never sell out. This one-episode release is the "BANNED FROM TV" episode "Partial Terms of Endearment" that discusses abortion. It's difficult to figure out exactly why Fox refused to air the episode, as the abortion stuff — though stupid and unfunny — didn't seem all that controversial.

It's pretty much just a standard episode: Peter's kind of dumb, most of the cutaways are baffling (the Special Catalympics featuring slow-witted cats was particularly apropos of nothing) and sometimes even the writers forget what the setup for the non sequiturs are*. Heck, the most offensive part of the episode was when Peter dressed in a Nazi uniform in order to create a porno scene, which had little if anything to do with abortions. The DVD also includes extras like downloadable songs and Seth MacFarlane's latest attempt to either launch his own variety show or his career as a Vegas lounge singer** ("Seth and Alex's Almost Live Comedy Show"). Diehard Family Guy fans will probably snatch it up either way, but the rest of us can wait for it on Netflix. After we've watched everything else and disc two of Night Court has a weeklong delay.

  • Get Him To The Greek — I feel the same way about Russell Brand as I do about Justin Bieber, simple trigonometry and pay-cable; I just don't get it.
  • Exit Through The Gift Shop — The definition of "documentary" has been on the decline since Michael Moore started making them, but Joaquin Phoenix finally broke it. Luckily, it doesn't matter if ETTGS is "real" from a story standpoint. It's still worth a watch. ---
  • Iron Man 2 — Personally, I'd rather just go watch Iron Man twice. But to each his own, I guess.
  • Babies — To me, children are like home movies: They're only interesting if they're yours. Apparently, when you combine the two, it's a worldwide hit. But I think I'll just stick to my original hypothesis, thanks just the same.

VIDEO GAMES
Dead Rising 2 (X360, PS3, PC)

Finally, the video game that actually made the XBOX 360 worth buying gets a sequel. Too bad Microsoft wasn't smart/greedy enough to lock it in as an exclusive this time around (though I doubt it was for lack of trying). The sequel has improved on its predecessor in some respects — instead of going around taking pictures (apparently the developers didn't learn from Pokemon Snap), you can now combine items using duct tape, which is about 113 percent more awesome than it sounds (lightsabers, anyone?).

The constant pressure of the clock can be annoying, especially to a generation of gamers reared on Grand Theft Auto-style open-sandbox gameplay; the clock feels (and is, really) an artificial way of keeping the pressure on. Still, the game is loads of fun, and you can always save, ignore the mission and just tool around on a zombie-killing spree. There's even some excellent social commentary on what people will do without the safe restraints of polite civilization — the answer to that question is, like the mutilated remains of a zombie who got too close to the chainsaw-and-kayak-oar combo you duct-taped together, not pretty.

  • FIFA Soccer 11 (PS3, X360, PSP, PS2, NDS) — Oh boy! A virtual rendition of a sport primarily composed of running around! That's like making a video game about playing a musical instrument that requires almost as much skill as playing the actual instrument.
  • Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock (PS3, X360, Wii) — At some point, the fad has to die out? Right? Right? Oh, yeah. American Idol. Nevermind.
  • Sid Meier's Pirates! (Wii) — I don't mind telling you, my fraternity was obsessed with Pirates back in college. When it first came out on PC. Six years ago.
  • Greg Hastings' Paintball 2 (X360) — I don't get it. If parents aren't going to allow violent video games in the house, they're probably banning toy guns and things, too. But paintball's somehow going to slip by? That'd be like a parent forbidding the kid to own a BB gun, but Airsofts are OK because "it's plastic!"
  • Battle VS Chess (X360, PS3) — I don't know why it's called Battle VERSUS Chess. it's not like you're fighting your chess pieces for control, and the winner gets to stay in the real world while the loser is banished to the depths of the game until they can best a human player. Though that would be pretty cool.
* I keed, I keed. I loved the soundtrack to Tarzan. Almost as much as I love Brendan Fraser (wrong man-raised-by-apes, I know, but bear with me).

** The setup was Peter saying, "It's a life-changing decision‚ like an Italian deciding to get glasses." We then cut to a Guido in jeans and a white T-shirt reading an eye chart. "Ay! Oh! Oh! Oh! Ay! Oh! Oh!" he yells, reading the "AOOAOO" line ... meaning the joke was that Italians say "Ay!" and "Oh!" a lot. Get it? Get it?! Then please, explain it to me.

*** Deep down, I think he harbors a desire to be Frank Sinatra. Although, uncoincidentally, Fox didn't air this show because it was (SURPRISE!) "too controversial." Guess how controversial it actually was†. Go on, guess.
  • † Not very.

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