Tuesday, October 19, 2010

THIS JUST OUT: Topher-Grace's-Fall-Out-of-Page-One edition

Posted on Tue, Oct 19, 2010 at 9:26 AM

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MUSIC
Page One, Steven Page

It's a special time in a boy's life. A very special time. A time after he's slipped loose the bonds of parental oversight, gotten out there and made it on his own, doing the thing he loves. He's found a great group of guys who really know how to rock, but they've been playing together so long and achieved so much success they reach a mutual decision to strike out on their own, prove their own mettle and see what each of them is made of.

Unfortunately for Steven Page, it's the time in his life when he got charged with snorting cocaine* and for possession of marijuana, so his band — Barenaked Ladies — decided it wasn't too tacky to kick the co-founder out on his ass.

But now he's back and more solo-er than ever with his debut release, Page One. With an album title that's a not-terribly-clever pun on the singer's name, we're already off to a good start**. I'm no doctor of brain surgery (which I presume you're supposed to be when interpreting song lyrics), but I did almost hit my brother in the head with a shovel one time, so I think I can confidently state the lyrics to the first track, "A New Shore," feel the slightest bit autobiographical.

"As the captain of this band of merry sailors/I'm a black mark, I'm a failure/So before you watch me drown/I'm relinquishing command for something I don't understand/this man's about to turn his whole life upside down."

The first thing I write after getting kicked out of the band I created might not include the line "I'm a failure" when referring to myself as "the captain of this band of merry sailors"... But then, he makes money and I write snarky things about those more accomplished than me on the Internet. His time spent as the chief lyricist for Barenaked Ladies is evident, as are his chops as a guitarist. Though the style may be different, it's nice to know Page kept some of the genius.

  • Fly Me To The Moon, Rod Stewart — It's always cheering to see albums from artists I assumed have been dead for years. The fifth in his "American Songbook" series, this edition makes one wonder why it took five years between Nos. 4 and 5. Maybe it's just extra good?***
  • Come Around Sundown, Kings of Leon — When they went in the studio to record their fifth album, the Kings of Leon said it was going to be "darker" and "grungier" than past efforts. When they finished, it came out "chilled-out" and "beachy." Funnily enough, none of those adjectives are traditionally associated with sounds.
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Glee Cast — So what if they're not actually going to the air the episode until next week? The important things to remember are a) the show needs to be talked about 14 of the 24 hours in a day, and b) FOX has to make money, you guys. They've already canceled one of their three new shows, and Running Wilde is actually worse than the one they axed.
  • Words Words Words, Bo Burnham — He's no Reggie Watts, but then, who is? Burnham's an up-and-coming comic who's clever, but a little too immature. Still, should be interesting to see if he grows out of Adam Sandlerism. Check for yourself.   ---

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DVDs
Predators

It's always a good sign when the DVD comes out three months after the theatrical premiere, right? That means soooo many people wanted to see it in theaters the company just couldn't wait to give them the DVD. Right? Right?

There's a lot you can say about the Predators movie. "How come the minorities got picked off first like it's a pre-2000 horror film?" might be one. Or perhaps, "If the aliens have the capability to pick up these people and transport them across the galaxy in order to give fellow aliens the thrill of the hunt, why would you strap parachutes on their backs and let them fall thousands of feet to the ground, thus increasing the chance they die before you get to have your fun?"

But that's not important. What's important is that Topher Grace finally got a part in another movie. That dude musta been hungry. He quit That '70s Show like four years ago, got the Spider-Man 3 movie, and hasn't done anything else. I'm worried about him, you guys. That's why you should go out and buy this movie old That '70s Show DVDs to support him. And Danny Masterson. And Laura Prepon. And, well, pretty much everybody except Mila Kunis and Ashton. I mean, a TV show ensemble cast hasn't collectively fallen off the face of the earth since Friends. Nobody wants to see another Joey. Give what you can.

  • Smash His Camera — You know how paparazzi go around trying to invade the lives of celebrities and generally let everyone else feel better about themselves because Madonna buys Chunky Monkey too? This is a movie about one who harassed Jackie O, Marlon Brando and Steve McQueen. Good movie. Horrible person.
  • Oceans — Walt Disney's legacy of releasing nature films† continues unabated with Oceans. It's like Avatar, only now you can actually appreciate you're underwater, instead of watching The Smurfs' Adventures Under the Sea and pretending it's some great cinematic achievement.
  • Please Give — Oliver Platt? Amanda Peet? I was in even before I found out it has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 88 percent. The plot description doesn't sound like much — "a husband and wife butt heads with the granddaughters of the elderly woman who lives in apartment the couple owns" — but I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.

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VIDEOGAMES
Fallout: New Vegas (PC, X360, PS3)

With life, death. This, at least, seems to be the theme of the Fallout franchise. Where the first game began with your character's birth, now you're starting off from a fresh gunshot to the noggin. It’s not as "OMG I'm blowing up the White House"-y as the first, but cavorting around in Vegas with some big-ass guns is pretty neat, too.

Sure, there's a bunch of backstory and exposition and complicated socio-political machinations that could ultimately result in your doom. But let's not talk about those. Let's talk about the arsenal. There are twice as many weapons as in the last game (that's good). But they're mostly variations on the same weapons (that's bad). Still, you can customize them (that's good). But the customizations are pretty much just "aim better" or "shoot farther." ( …. ) That's bad.

It's still a hybrid RPG-FPS (pronounced "Rippig-fippis"), but in addition to the normal difficulty levels they also added "hardcore," which basically means you're running it in Sims mode (make sure your character eats enough, sleeps enough, goes-into-the-bathroom-and-you-remove-the-door-so-he-dies-in-there enough, etc.).

All in all, it's pretty much the same game as the first with some new features, new levels and — unsurprisingly — new gameplay bugs. But really, who's complaining about more Fallout?

  • Kirby's Epic Yarn (Wii) — Kirby's always been known for trying out new styles of gameplay (Kirby's Pinball Land, Kirby's Toy Box, Kirby's Air Ride, etc.), and this is no different. It's a neat idea, but let us hope it's not to videogames†† what the slapdash "follow the ancient clues to solve the mystery/find the hidden treasure" was to movies (I'm looking at you, everything Nicholas Cage has ever been in).
  • Vanquish (PS3, X360) — A videogame character who smokes (and isn't Solid Snake)? Say it ain't so! What will the children think when they see a person on-screen wearing an Augmented Reality Suit and fighting in space against people shooting bullets and missiles at him? They might start wanting cigarettes!
  • DJ Hero 2 (PS3, X360, Wii) — Despite the fact the first game flopped, Activision never knows when to quit with games that require stupid, expensive add-on peripherals (see Tony Hawk: Ride, which is also getting a sequel).
  • EA Sports MMA (X360, PS3) — Because if any one activity gets popular enough, you know they're going to try to make a videogame of it at some point, regardless of how ill-suited the activity might be to on-screen representations (see DJ Hero, DJ Hero 2).
* He initially claimed it was calcium. Because, as you know, the best way to absorb calcium is through the nasal cavity.

** See Mike Love's Mike Love, Not War (halfway down the page), Greg Kihn's Next of Kihn, or both Spastic Ink albums: Ink Compatible and Ink Complete.

*** His last album, Soulbook, only went platinum in Canada — not England, where he was born. Even David Hasslehoff can record a record that goes triple platinum in his home country.

† It's actually pretty cool. Even though the nature films didn't used to make a ton of money (pre-IMAX), Disney still felt it important for people to be able to see nature they otherwise might not be able to.

†† For further reading, see here.

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