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Archive for June, 2011

can we be done now?

(still working on a name for this segment)

Transformers 3 review

Chris Tanski, pop culture contributor

While I grew up I watching He-man, GI Joe and Transformers, I was never that into these properties. I do own toys from them but whereas I display my Star Wars toys proudly, my He-Man, GI Joe and Transformers toys sit in my basement in plastic bags ready to be put on eBay someday. That being said  I am forever and always will be a Star Wars guy. That was my toy of choice. So when it came time to movie-ize the Transformers properties I was excited for the possibilities but not geeking out about it. When the first movie came out the contingent of friends who I saw it with hated the movie. Cool action, but the humor and comic relief was so ridiculous that we just couldn’t get into it. When asked why I hated part one I summed it up by saying “A robot ‘peed’ on somebody”. Plus, as a father I was appalled at how something so aggressively marketed towards children was so blatantly inappropriate in language and sexual tone.  I get it! It was a PG-13 movie with PG-13 things in it. Nonetheless it irked me and it in turn led to my bias against it. Especially when I saw fathers bringing their 10 and unders to the movie (I manage a movie theater). Part 2 came out 2 years later and it was even worse than part one. This time I wasn’t alone in my vitriol. Critics and fans also bashed it and it ended up getting the Golden Raspberry Award for worst film that year. It is now 2 more years later and part 3 has hit the scene. Now in 3-D! I will say that the 3rd entry in the series is by far the best one.
Positives –
  • the 3-D is probably the best use of the gimmick since Avatar. As of late any movie that has been released in 3-D, those particular houses showing them have underperformed. People are quickly tiring of it. This one is totally worth the extra bucks to see it. 
  • the special effects are probably the best I have ever seen. If this doesn’t win the Oscar I will be shocked.
  • The action set pieces are breath taking. That scene of the building being cut in half by a worm saw robot is the highlight.
  • the first 10-15 minutes are so awesome. I love how movies are taking real history and incorporating sci-fi or horror mythos into them (ala X-Men :First Class)
  • Alan Tudyk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Negatives-
  • Holy Running Time Batman! With trailers the movie is almost 3 hours long. Yikes! There were so many stupid moments and story arcs that could have been cut. It would have made for tighter less ridiculous film.
  • Once again the stupid comic relief and humor rears its ugly head. Nothing near the ineptitude of the first 2 but they are still there.
  • The human characters were a little bit better in this one but still poorly written.
  • Normally I love Shia. There was just something off with his character in this movie. And it didn’t work with me.
  • I love Ken Jeong. Please take a little break. It seems you cameo in every movie these days and your role cameo in Transformers 3 is pure garbage.
  • Ugh! The ending. With this being the last of the Michael Bay trilogy I needed a more satisfying ending.
For all the pros and cons I can very much say I was entertained by the movie. It was a never-ending assault of the senses, check your brain at the door blockbuster summer film. I was never bored (unlike my buddy who fell asleep many times and thought the film was brutally bad) and the last 40 minutes are just pure action delight. Pony up the dough and see it in 3-D. It’s more than meets the eye… Ugh! Sorry about that one.  I rate it a 6 out of 10.

Follow Tanski on Twitter and make sure to check out his cool mash-ups, available as t-shirts and stickers!

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For those of you following the Upper Deck Sitcom Character Fantasy Draft, the payoff is near. The fifth and final round is in the books and the full results can be seen here. Each showrunner now has a full slate of 5 characters and is hard at work devising a pitch to present to you, the voters!

The pitched Fantasy Sitcoms will be pitted against each other in tournament format, with voters deciding their fate until one show remains. The Fantasy Sitcom that wins will be awarded its very own 100% original opening credit sequence complete with music!! Stay tuned!

sorry Jerry, but George and Kramer got drafted!

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My wife is a breakfast person. I am not. She likes to start her day with coffee and some sort of nourishing sustenance. Some fruit, a bowl of cereal, or a bagel are her morning meals of choice. I prefer to tough out the morning on just a beverage and maybe something small to eat, but I typically save my appetite for lunch, a meal with much more possibilities. One morning not too long ago, we decided to start our day the right way, with a stop at Dunkin’ Donuts. Dunkin’ is one of the few places we agree on for breakfast because, well… because of donuts, that’s why. Donuts rule. My wife being more of a bagel connoisseur, ordered her favorite, blueberry. “I’m sorry, we don’t carry blueberry anymore,” the polite employee informed us.

it shouldn't be that hard, folks

“You don’t carry blueberry anymore?” my wife inquired, “as in, like, never going to have them again?”

“Correct,” replied the orange and pink clad harbinger of bad news.

“Wow. So NO Dunkin’ Donuts location will have blueberry anymore?” asked my wife, doing her due diligence.

“Nope,” she confirmed.

Even I was a bit shocked. I hadn’t studied up on bagel demographics lately, but I would have assumed blueberry was at least a top 10 selection everywhere.

The weight of this decision made at the Dunkin’ Donuts corporate level became even more unbearable when my wife learned that our nearest Bruegger’s (a bagel restaurant) had halted blueberry production as well. Their website still lists blueberry as a flavor under bagels, so there is still hope.

A few weeks later, on one of our weekly shopping trips, we were informed by a bakery employee at our favorite neighborhood grocer that Wegmans (the mega-grocery store of western New York and beyond) had stopped producing blueberry bagels. (update: we have since discovered that this particular report is erroneous, however, blueberry has yet to resurface at our location)

“Wow, you know I really thought blueberry was more popular,” I said, “but I guess not if everybody is dropping it.”

I took my query to America’s preferred research tool, the internet. Most lists of “most popular bagel flavors” include blueberry in at least the top 5. Here is an example: New York Bagel Cafe & Deli lists their top four most popular bagels as plain, everything, cinnamon, and blueberry.

So I guess my question is, is blueberry on the Mount Rushmore of bagels? Are the tastes of the American bagel consumer changing?

If you had to pick only four flavors as most representative of the essence of bagels, would blueberry be included?  I say yes, along with plain, everything, and maybe sesame seed? Or wheat? Pumpernickel? Not sure, but blueberry is definitely in. What do you think?

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This is a t-shirt I somehow don't own

Arrested Development had many recurring jokes during its three year run. One of these was centered around a used runway staircase on wheels that the Bluths were left with after having to abandon their costly company jet. Michael Bluth frequently warned any family member who was taking the stair car for a drive, “You will have hop ons.” A hop on occurred when a needy hitchhiker of some sort would attach his or herself to the Bluth stair car for a free ride. This was a common occurence because of the stair car’s low maximum speed capablity, and because well, it was a rolling staircase. At times the only available mode of transport, the stair car became a stalwart of the show. It even made a cameo on the hit Fox drama 24.

The Upper Deck Weekend Hop On will be a recurring segment that showcases a guest contributor, an interesting link, or content that won’t feature very much original writing by me (I think you deserve a break from time to time). Enjoy!

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In the first of what will hopefully be multiple guest-writer debuts this week, the Upper Deck unveils a new recurring segment called “Love Letters of Love”. Author Corey Chapman gives us unprecedented access into the mind and heart of a fan, and a little celebrity advice for good measure. Enjoy.

Dear Mr. Eddie Murphy-

Hi! I hope you are well. My name is Corey and I am a huuuuuuge fan, from your early days on the small screen as a not ready for prime time player on “Saturday Night Live” to your break out theatrical performances in “Beverly Hills Cop” and “48 Hours”. Heck, I still quote your stand up specials “Delirious” and “Raw.” That bit you did about Elvis having to sing everything? Love it! But that’s not why I am writing you today. You already know (and probably get a TON of fan mail) about how amazing a career you have had. Pretty much everything you touch turns to gold! But there is one area where you didn’t go platinum…

This morning started out like any other typical corporate Monday morning. I was clock watching by 8:05, trying to come up with a to-do list for the weekend, still five days away. I picked up the phone to call my first customer of the week, totally expecting to be blown off, like so many times before. In my profession, it’s rare to have an upbeat, thought-provoking conversation with a customer on Monday morning. It’s like everyone can sense the vibe over the phone that we are collectively bummed out that the weekend is over and we are back to the daily grind.

I know what you are thinking Eddie, “Who are you and how did you get my home address?” and “Should I sign on to do Norbit 2?” Keep reading Eddie, this ends well.

So I ask for the decision maker, which in itself is code for “I am a salesman, I want to sell you something.” Immediately, I go somewhere I boldly go about 50 times a day: ON HOLD. But today was different. Instead of listening to adult contemporary hits of the 90s (who doesn’t love Roxette and Celine Dion?) or slow, mellow jazz (that I have fallen asleep too) I was given a treat. Your 1985 smash record “Party All The Time” started right up as if the Hold Music Gods knew I needed that pick me up to start the day.

ALL the time. It's relentless.

“Girl I can’t understand it why you want to hurt me

After all the things I’ve done for you

I buy you champagne and roses and diamonds on your finger-”

The toes are tapping! My smile shines in my tiny cubicle…

“Diamonds on your finger

Still you hang out all night

What am I to do?”

I am looking around the office, desperate for a coworker to ask why I am doing the cabbage patch in my ergonomically engineered swivel chair.

“My girl wants to party all the time

Party all the time

Party all the tiiiiiiime”

Your Rick James-produced anthem got my heart pumping, my body moving, and my brain focused. When the customer decided I had waited long enough, I diffused his case of the “Mun-days” and was able to sell him some of my wares. I am confident this would not have been the case if I was twiddling my thumbs to Jon Secada or Rusted Root. The energy your music provided me turned my Monday morning into a Friday afternoon!

So here is the meat of the message, Ed. May I call you Ed?

I think its time you record a new album! There I said it. I can’t be the first person to suggest this. Can I?

Yes, Rick James is dead, bitch. That reunion isn’t happening. But there are many producers out there that could spin your tales of lost love into chart topping hits. We could recruit the Black Eyed Peas to engineer a few dance tracks, dig up Babyface from wherever he has been hiding the last 10 years for a couple of power ballads, and maybe Trent Reznor could work his magic on a few industrial rock tracks. The possibilities are endless!

I can help work on the sales and marketing of the music. First, we get one of the songs on both your new album AND the soundtrack to your next movie. A little crossover action. Then, while out promoting the movie, we work it into the contract that when you guest on Conan, Leno, Letterman, The Today Show, etc. that you are also booked as the musical guest. And the weekend the movie comes out, you return to your roots at 30 Rockefeller Plaza to HOST & SING on Saturday Night Live! The movie opens number one, the album tops the iTunes charts and Eddie Murphy has reinvented himself!

Give it some thought. It might give you enough juice to get “Vampire in Brooklyn 2” made.

I have to go. I’m sitting on hold and REM’s “Everybody Hurts” just came on. Ugh, Monday mornings….

Love,

Corey

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Guys and girls alike can admit when they see a good-looking lady. A ten, a dime, a stunner, a full-on scorchcake. Whatever nickname you use when referencing a hottie, the one constant when it comes to the beauty of the gentler sex is that there is no constant. Everyone’s tastes are different. If you have friends and you have eyes, you have undoubtedly discussed and debated the visual appeal of womankind. When men find they are in agreement regarding a woman’s exact level of hotness, it is a bonding moment. In the worst of situations, a ‘high-five’ might even occur. Please don’t hold all of us accountable for those weaker moments.

For as many times as an agreement is reached, there is often much dissent. Placing a fair evaluation on someone’s hot factor is a subjective and inexact science. Not only are we deciding ‘yes’ or ‘no’, we have to determine what kind of attractive we are dealing with. Sometimes “hot” is the best way to describe someone, while in other instances “pretty” is the most appropriate adjective. Still other situations call for “cute”; regardless, every person is attractive in their own way. This is where The Wife Pretty Theory comes in.

Hot? yep. Pretty? sure. Cute? be honest.

To achieve Wife Pretty Status, the subject must be hot, pretty AND cute all at once. This feat is harder to accomplish than you might think. I submit Megan Fox for discussion. While it would be irresponsible to claim that everyone in the world agrees that she is hot, I think we are safe in assuming a large number of men and women find her attractive. But what kind of attractive? My fellow theorists and I agree that Fox is definitely hot, could certainly be considered pretty, but cute? Cute would not make a list of the top 10 adjectives used to describe Megan Fox. If you use the term ‘cute’ to describe Fox you have never seen a chipmunk or a baby. That is why Wife Pretty is such a rare and near-unattainable tag.

hot + pretty + cute = Wife Pretty

Few women have achieved this elite status. When the term “Wife Pretty” comes up in discussion, it’s time to listen. We don’t just throw this term around willy-nilly. If you slap the “Wife Pretty” tag on someone you had better be prepared to explain and defend, because further analysis is forthcoming. Modern Family’s Julie Bowen is one of the small handful of candidates that have achieved unanimous “Wife Pretty Status” among our inner circle of theorists (she also has the benefit of not aging a day since appearing 11 years ago as Carol Vessey on the tv series Ed and as Happy Gilmore’s love interest in 1996). To put this in the proper context, some may argue that Bowen’s Modern Family co-star Sofia Vergara is pretty hot in her own right, and that is undeniable, but can you really call her “cute”? If so, state your case and the board will consider inducting her into this exclusive club.

Credit for the term “Wife Pretty” must be given to senior theorist Brady Gavin, who has since taken his hotness hypothesizing talents to Melbourne, Australia.

When it comes to choosing a mate, sometimes we are in the mood for cute, other times pretty, and let’s face it, we are almost always in the mood for hot. That’s why those of us who are lucky enough to have a ‘Wife Pretty’ partner have got it made.

Who else would you classify as “Wife Pretty”?

Who are some men that could be considered “Husband Handsome”?

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1. CM Punk

This article that ran recently on Grantland, the fantastic sports and pop culture website from ESPN’s Bill Simmons, accurately sums up the way most true wrestling fans feel about CM Punk. He is refreshingly honest, his matches never disappoint, and he’s entertaining and accessible on Twitter. His tweets are candid- I can’t eat at Chipotle without thinking of Punk’s tweet praising the restaurant’s consistently solid music playlists. Punk disguising himself as a member of a mariachi band to sabotage Chavo Guerrero’s in-ring championship ‘fiesta’  is one of the highlights of the short-lived WWE version of the ECW show. Punk’s ability to draw the best out of his opponent should not be overlooked. This hidden talent is a common trait among the best pro wrestlers of all time.

2. The Miz

This guy just gets it. He understands what kind of work ethic and professional output it takes to achieve stardom with WWE as a company. Mike Mizanin says and does all the right things backstage so that he is granted freedom for The Miz to say and do the right things on stage. Miz is one of the few top-tier WWE talents who is actually in touch with modern society.When he is not competing, he is impeccably dressed, and carries himself professionally. His ability to manipulate a live crowd is extraordinary, and the fact that we got to see him pre-WWE as a cast member of MTV’s The Real World gave us insight into his background. As a youth he idolized WWE wrestlers and dreamt of one day achieving his own WWE stardom, the common dream shared by all young fans. To know this and see him achieving his goal through hard work and dedication is fulfilling to fans of the wrestling business.

3. John Morrison

Morrison has the potential to be an amalgamation of Randy “Macho Man” Savage and “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels. Like Michaels, Morrison was one half of a successful tag team (where have those gone, by the way?) called MNM, in which he consistently outshined his partner. He invaded the singles scene, where he was accompanied to the ring by WWE Diva and real life girlfriend Melina. His on-camera relationship with Melina evaporated without much fanfare but further exploration of this partnership could have led to a classic “Macho Man/Elizabeth/insert third point of love triangle here” storyline. Morrison only swam in the singles pool for a moment, as he was again saddled with a tag team partner. This time it was an up-and-coming Mike “The Miz” Mizanin, who at the time was half the star Morrison was, but has since gone on to much greater heights. Morrison is probably the most athletic and talented performer the WWE currently has, and thankfully he is back to competing sans tag team partner. I hope his character can continue to evolve, because he already has a firm mastery of the unteachable physical skills.

4. Kofi Kingston

A throwback to the 1980s heyday of professional wrestling, Kingston is hands down one of the most athletic performers in the WWE today. He has an instant likability factor, a characteristic that cannot be taught. His gimmick is classic WWE, slightly overdone at first, but then his natural personality has meshed over time with the character’s identity to the point that the viewers feel like they are getting the real Kofi. He is one of the few WWE Superstars in history that gives the on-screen appearance of loving his job night in and night out, which must be near impossible considering the physical and psychological grind these gladiators put themselves through every day. Kingston’s 2009 feud with then top heel Randy Orton was extremely entertaining, culminating in Kingston’s comical destruction of Orton’s cool new car on Monday Night Raw.

5. Santino Marella

Successful WWE Superstars must possess two qualities: in-ring ability and charisma. A strong charisma factor, referred to in pro wrestling circles as “mic skills”, can cover up a lot of physical and athletic shortcomings. Santino has never really been allowed to engage in much physicality in the WWE, as it seems they prefer to exploit his incomparable verbal talents instead of his grappling skills. This decision is fine by me, although I’d like to see more of the latter, if only to prevent him from becoming obsolete way before his time. Sadly, this dreaded fate seems to be taking hold, as more and more WWE shows pass with nary a Santino sighting. Live crowds and television audiences alike hang on Santino’s every mispronounced word, please don’t take him away from us too soon.

By the way, 4 weeks ago this guy would have absolutely been #1

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