Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium

You buy your ticket underneath the hanging skeleton of Super-Croc who “didn’t just live at the same time as the dinosaurs, he ate them!” The body of the monstrosity extends over the entrance and you walk into the main hall of Ripley’s Believe it Or Not Odditorium.

The gaudiness of the marquee incited in me the feeling that the place will be a rip-off. Its incredibly centralized, tourist-trap location —Times Square —did not help lessen my dread. I expected one large hall and maybe one or two more rooms after following the staircase. Instead, I spent hours looking through room after room after room of the collection.

If you are a fan of the show, then the odditorium hardly holds surprises. Nonetheless, it is a different experience —looking at six-legged calf skeleton on TV versus seeing it well-lit and rotating in front of you. If you haven’t seen too many (or any) episodes, then the appeal is like that of any sideshow. In any case, the episodes are played for your benefit in various rooms, including a small theater dedicated specifically to that purpose and placed at a point when all you really want to do is sit down anyway. Continue reading

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So Twisted He’s Crooked

A crooked Little Vein book jacket

It’s hard not to see Spider Jerusalem when reading about the private detective Mike McGill in Warren Ellis’ debut novel, Crooked Little Vein. The book reads much like the Transmetropolitan comic, the graphics are simply replaced by explicit imagery of human depravity limited to words. The circumstances of the novel’s coming into this world are also suspiciously reminiscent of McGill’s alter ego’s state of affairs with a never-tiring editor hounding him for a book.

Aside from all the commonalities with the comic that made Ellis’ reputation, Crooked Little Vein certainly stands up on its own as a decadent and hyperbolic catalogue of perversities visited upon the (human) body and mind beginning with some fairly innocent lizard loving and continuing on into sexual needs requiring suffering of innocents. All this is tied together by McGill’s mission to retrieve the American Constitution. The one bound in hide of extraterrestrials with untold power within its pages.

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Ra Ra Riot and Tokyo Police Club are Friends of P

Friday, August 10, 2007. It was a cold and overcast night, but an entertaining one, because it included Ra Ra Riot and Tokyo Police Club plus openers Ford and Fitzroy at the Bowery Ballroom. I call it the night of the EP’s (None of these artists have released a full length album). Doors opened at 8 PM so I decided to not show up ’till 9 hoping to see the openers finishing up their set. However, I arrived to an empty ballroom with members of Ra Ra Riot just hanging out. I stood around for a few minutes but felt awkward ’cause I was there all alone. At that point I decided a nice drink may help. Ordered a vodka with cranberry (not that this is important but just felt like mentioning it) and as I waited for the bartender to prepare my drink, I was informed the opening act had not even performed yet.

I’m actually glad I made in time to see Ford and Fitzroy. With interesting melodic beats and catchy lyrics, it was hard not to enjoy them. The singer looked and sang like he was the love child of Jack White of The White Stripes and Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance. The rest of the band looked indie and someone felt it was important to shout out loud “You guys are really thin.” It was quite amusing. Overall, I enjoyed Ford and Fitzroy’s set and would recommend fellow Tokyo Police Club and Ra Ra Riot fans to check them out.

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Make Room for Cap’n Shakespeare: Review of “Stardust”

Yvaine on unicorn

“Stardust” seems to have crept up on me. Although I’ve certainly heard of it and have been waiting for it, I didn’t actually expect it anytime soon. A novel by Neil Gaiman made into a movie, filmed somewhere in gorgeous Scotland, with Michelle Pfiffer already cast to play the witch, my hopes were rising.

The plot is fairly simple, and, amazingly, very similar to the one in the novel. A boy in an English village is in love with the pretties girl around and to prove his devotion he promises to bring her a fallen star from beyond the Wall, which has never been crossed, except by his father. There lies a magical world filled with witches, pirates, enchantments as well as some answers as to the boy’s questionable heritage.

I expected the worst; I too dared not hope for anything but a lamer and tamer version of the novel bereft of anything but sweet romance. I gave the movie a chance though, as should you. In fact, go ahead, it really is safe to get your hopes up. Continue reading

Review of “Transformers: The Motion Picture”

transformers_movie_poster_optimus_prime.jpg

Based on the Hasbro line of toys released in the 80’s, along with the popular cartoon, Transformers is an action-packed, all-out robotic war directed by Michael Bay (also responsible for such movies as Bad Boys 1 & 2, The Rock, and Pearl Harbor).

While I have had a few of the toys, and I watched the cartoon occasionally, I will admit that I was never a huge Transformers fan. Perhaps this worked to my advantage here, because having been a hardcore fan of other franchises (such as video games) turned into movies only to find that the movie adaptation completely butchers the canon storyline of the original source is very disappointing (can anyone say Resident Evil?).

Transformers, on the other hand, was made in a way that could be enjoyed by both seasoned and non-fans alike. The only ones who may be left out are the fanatics who nitpick to a fault.

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Graphic Novels That Will Suck You In

Comic books haven’t been simply comic for some time. In fact, if they were ever innocently funny, that was very quickly taken over by sex and violence and, of course, masked men who took tights much too seriously. So, comic book fans allot much bookshelf, or under-the-bed, or behind-the-couch space to the hundreds of issues that comprise story lines of their favorite superheroes and supervillains, or maybe horrible and gory murders, or whatever. Then, someone decided to bind a few issues of comics into one book, call it a graphic novel and deliver it to you via Amazon.com or whatever huge bookstore happened to be near you. And this is how comic books bridged that gap between your average caped fanatic and your basic bookstore browser too haughty or overwhelmed to enter a comic book store. From there several graphic novel canons were derived which sucked the average book reader into the world of beautiful illustrations and succinct dialogue.

So, if you were ever curious about the comic book world, like I was, the following five graphic novels can very easily become your gateway drug. At least that’s what they did for me, especially because they are (mostly) finite and I am not left forever wondering just what will happen next.

Transmetropolitan 1. Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis as drawn by Darick Robertson (a collection of 11 books): I am almost ashamed to say it, but I really haven’t picked up anything by this master until about a week ago. And I am completely hooked. The main character, Spider Jerusalem, is the perfect anti-hero in a post cyberpunk dystopic world. He is jaded, cynical, aging and quick to apocalyptic anger. He is not exactly a protector and he is not entirely a marauder; he is a journalist actively digging for the truth and trying to fulfill an infernal book contract. We meet him atop a mountain, naked, covered only by a mane of hair, holding a gun and surrounded by filth while screaming obscenities at a phone receiver and clutching his last 5 dollar bill. It is gory and hilarious. It also makes me ashamed as the horrible truths of the book are not that far off from what is truly happening in the world. Or could happen. Every page brings with it a new atrocity.

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Siren Music Festival at Coney Island

The day was long and hot, which we could ascertain from the sunburned and exhausted Indie kids lying around in heaps all over Coney Island. Pmel and I got to the Siren Music Festival at about 5pm, just missing We Are The Scientists, but in time for M.I.A.

Two stages were constructed with the Cyclone rollercoaster, and the rest of the amusement park, smack in between. The bands alternated between the two stages, so theoretically, no one had to miss a thing. In reality, thousands of people showed up, and although we were there with 20 minutes to spare before M.I.A. came on stage we were so far away that all we got were occasional glimpses of tiny characters jumping around on stage while nothing but bass and occasional whimper could reach us from the speakers.

MIA Crowd

That’s M.I.A. somewhere off in the distance

Although it was quite difficult to hear her, a discerning listener could make out some of the catchy tunes from her 2005 album, Arular and some new songs from her forthcoming album Kala. Unfortunately, she did not play “Galang,” which was the song
that earned her recognition in the U.S. Her performance was similar to being at home listening to her CD. Although we expected a more vibrant performance, hard to blame her for the weak show considering the circumstances. I would prefer and recommend to see her at a smaller venue. Continue reading

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