26 Comments

  • fuwalda says:

    Ah, the Eurovision Song Contest. You’re lucky I read this blog, because I’m among the few people in American who have watched this farce multiple times. Not since I left Europe, however.

    I heard something about the contest once that might explain why some of the acts aren’t great, but I’m not sure if it’s true or not: The winning country is expected to host the next year’s contest, and the expense has gotten so great that most countries don’t even want to win it any more. Again, I’m not saying it’s true, but it might be somewhat true.

    I kinda liked that Ed Nortan guy. That was the best one you posted.

  • Justin Garrett Blum says:

    Yeah, I was having that conversation with my wife yesterday. I asked her what a country like Moldova would do if they actually won, since it’s a struggling nation that could never afford to put on the kind of elaborate show that seems to be expected with this thing. She told me that she had heard something about Spain specifically asking people not to vote for them for that reason. The easiest way to go about that is to simply send up an act that isn’t fantastic, so that makes a lot of sense what you say.

  • fuwalda says:

    I’m looking at the list of winners now, since other than ABBA and Lulu, I couldn’t think of any others, but I figured some other famous names must’ve won.

    Celine Dion won in 1988… for Switzerland. That’s odd, since she’s Canadian, right? How could she possibly compete for Switzerland? Is she a Swiss citizen?

    I also perked up a little when I saw that Secret Garden won in 1995, until I realized I was thinking of Savage Garden. I have no idea who Secret Garden is.

    Lordi won in 2006. Remember them? Their winning performance became an internet sensation because it was the weirdest thing ever. I’m sure you’ve seen it.

    And that’s all.

  • Justin Garrett Blum says:

    Yeah, I remember Lordi. I think that was the first year I watched it with my wife. That was a big WTF. That was when I realized I would never truly understand people from Europe, my wife excluded.

  • Andrea says:

    I was a little bored by Sweden. I couldn’t tell you a single word she said. Was she speaking English or Swedish? I loved Moldova! Best thing since O-Zone! I did love those Russian ladies too. Reminded me of my babci.

  • Justin Garrett Blum says:

    Yeah, Lili told me she read some article that indicated that Sweden’s victory was pretty much a foregone conclusion. I’m not sure why. I think because it was considered such an amazing song.

    I wouldn’t mind the Russian ladies if they were performing in the park or something, but it just seemed kind of absurd to have them performing for all of Europe.

    • Lili says:

      They also predicted that the Russian babushki would come in second place, and they did… I don’t know on what basis they make these predictions, because I was sure nobody would take that performance seriously. I thought the Swedish performance was nice, but I couldn’t understand one word either (well, except “euphoria”). I liked Moldova’s performance, too. And I did like the show overall. It’s interesting to see what kind of music is popular in each of those countries.

      • Justin Garrett Blum says:

        I’m going to have to listen to that Swedish song again to see if I can understand the lyrics. I have to confess that I pretty rarely even pay attention to the lyrics the first few times I hear a song.

        All things considered, this wasn’t a bad show–at least, what I saw of it this year. There weren’t too many terrible entries, anyway. πŸ˜‰

  • Mariana says:

    Justin, I think Loreen is amazing and the song is amazing. Sometimes you don’t need to analyze things. Just to enjoy the performance as it is: her voice, the rhythm, the music. It just clicked with me (and with the rest of Europe). And don’t care if it’s outdated Eurodance or whatever the critique is. I just love it and she rocks. She is genuine and simple and does it from all her heart. The fact is also I have listen to it more than 100 times – I can’t listen to anything else now. I’ll see when I get tired of it. I will probably. And I will also forget it in one year from now. But for now – I enjoy it. Here is the link on you tube with more understandable English: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5qURKt4maw
    About Nina – she was great and she rocks. She was my second favorite. I supposed she’d get critique for resembling Winehouse to much. But what the hell – she is amazing. And if she doesn’t drink (too much) and take drugs, I believe she can do it better than Winehouse. No offence for Winehouse – I like her too:))

    • Justin Garrett Blum says:

      I wasn’t criticizing it at all, really. I said it was all right. I just didn’t think it was objectively so much better than some other entries that didn’t rate even half the votes. “Amazing” is a word I tend to use fairly sparingly, but I guess I’ll let you get away with it since you live in Europe and maybe you know better. πŸ˜‰

      Me, personally? I didn’t even watch the entire song the first time I put it on, and I actually prefer something like what Moldova sent, purely on the basis of it being catchy and danceable. But that’s a personal thing.

    • Lili says:

      I liked Nina’s song too, but I still couldn’t get over the fact that she was trying so hard to look and sound like Winehouse… Aside from that, I thought it was a very nice song and she has a nice voice.

  • fuwalda says:

    I rewatched the Swedish video.

    This chick definitely has some serious pipes. She can *sing*. But who cares because after about thirty seconds it’s boring. This just isn’t a very good song. Maybe with a song by a better song writer (Sammy Cahn, perhaps, or George Gershwin) her vocals would be able to shine, but this song is way too repetitive and boring.

    But it’s definitely in English, but other than a few phrases (something til the end… of… time…), I have no idea what she’s saying, either because of her vocals or because of the mixing of the sound.

    At the end of the day (to use a Europhrase), this sounds like a pretty decent rip off of Celine Dion from circa 1997. Or, in other words, like a top 40 song from Europe now.

    • Justin Garrett Blum says:

      In fairness, anything that’s in the top 40 in America would be terrible. This song is at least aiight.

  • fuwalda says:

    I also rewatched the Russian video. If that’s really the best the country had to choose from, then… well… that’s sad, because they really were terrible.

    Having said that, do I read that they came in second place? That’s awesome! Sure, they were terrible, but they were very cute and very charming and I bet they’re all very nice, cool ladies. They should’ve won!

    • Justin Garrett Blum says:

      You read that correctly–they came in 2nd place out of something like 26 countries. It was a fairly distant 2nd to Sweden, but they still got a ton of votes. People loved them, apparently.

      Fair enough. My wife told me that’s the best that Russia has ever done in Eurovision.

  • fuwalda says:

    I also rewatched the Moldova video. This song is so fucking awesome. How many people are in this band? That might be the entire population of Moldova on the stage for all I know. I’m glad they got to take a field trip.

    But, seriously now, this guy can also *sing*, and he’s damn handsome. He’s the Justin Garret Blum of Moldova. I remember that one time we went to Karaoke.

    • Justin Garrett Blum says:

      ha! I’m cracking up. Maybe I’m the Pasha Parfeny of the United States.

      Yeah, karoake. That’s when I realized that being able to sing Mozart in a chorus and being able to sing…I dunno…Pearl Jam or whatever it was that I sang, are two totally different things. The problem with karoake–and I have more recent experience with this as a result of those Karaoke Revolution games for PS2–is that you have to sing them in the key of the original singer, which is kind of a pain in the ass because so many pop songs are sung in a pretty high register. I’d do better if I could specify the key.

  • fuwalda says:

    I think you sang Nirvana and Nat King Cole, both of whom were featured on “Now that’s What I Call Music 1956/1996.”

  • fuwalda says:

    True story: I came back to the blog today specifically to listen to that Moldova song again.

  • fuwalda says:

    When he says (I think), “You heff neva been to mah show!!” it’s like he’s talking right to me, cause I haven’t.

  • fuwalda says:

    Or maybe he’s singing about “The Man Show.” Maybe that show just made it to Eastern Europe.

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Article

Eurovision got trolled by Russia

Eurovision is a song competition about which I knew nothing before I met my European wife. And that’s not hugely surprising, since almost nothing that vies for victory in Eurovision ever makes it over to this side of the pond…and perhaps rightly so, since a lot of it is kind of generic. On the count of being generic, I suppose I would probably say that Russia’s entry this year at least avoids that. But at the same time, the fact that this pack of warbling octogenarians took second place and hundreds more points than some entries that were actually decent, makes me think this may be one of the most successful Eurovision trollings by any country ever.

But you be the judge:

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13 Comments

  • fuwalda says:

    I’ll be short too:

    Tobey Maguire sucked in those movies. He was miscast and never worked as either Peter Parker or Spider-Man.

    Super 8 was neat to look at, but it was boring. A film needs more than just nostalgia to work on its own.

    I tried reading the novel TTSP years ago and it was boring. Never finished it. Never cared.

    I love Tintin. The movie, that is. The comic is neat too.

  • Justin Garrett Blum says:

    Well, I’m trying to give Raimi’s trilogy the benefit of the doubt and assume that he and Maguire weren’t attempting to recreate the Peter Parker of the comic books. So I’m judging those movies on their own storytelling merits, and when divorced from my preconceptions about the character, I think Maguire was okay. The character was so mopey and boring, however, that I’ll never speak more highly of the portrayal than that.

    As to Super 8, I didn’t find it boring. I found it pretty entertaining, actually. I just thought it wasn’t necessarily successful at telling the story it wanted to tell.

    I’d heard about the Alec Guiness version of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy a couple of years ago, and I kind of wanted to see it, because I heard it was a great espionage story. Now I only want to see it to know if it could possibly make this story interesting at all.

  • fuwalda says:

    I still haven’t seen the third Spider-Man movie. At this point, why bother?

  • Justin Garrett Blum says:

    Yeah, I dunno…it’s not terrible. But at the same time, it kind of is.

  • fuwalda says:

    On another note, I did recently buy Tintin on Blu Ray. Pretty awesome. This is the perfect kind of movie to own, since even though it’s never boring, it’s still the kind of film I might want to jump through just to watch certain scenes. That huge flashback fight between the two ships, for example. I could watch that scene every day.

  • fuwalda says:

    Also, my interest was piqued somewhat by your comment that Tintin was “a return to the top of [Spielberg’s] game,” so I looked up his filmography to see when he was last on the top of his game.

    His film previous to Tintin was Crystal Skull. While I liked that movie a lot, it would be hard to argue it showed him at the top of his game.

    Before that was Munich. Great movie… but, no, not a game topper. Too… what’s the word… vexing, or perhaps inscrutable. It’s a very well done, interesting film that he should be proud to have made, but Spielberg at the top of his game should transcend cinema and become something of a cultural tent pole. Munich wasn’t that. In fact, if it was on TV right now, I’d probably check the other channels to see if Rush Hour was on.

    Before that was War of the Worlds. I’m embarrassed to admit that I might end this post right her. I don’t care what anybody says, this is an awesome movie. Maybe not “great” like Munich was great, but a real crowd pleaser. If this was on TV, I’d stop what I was doing and watch it, at least until the last fifteen minutes or so when it starts to drag.

    Before that we had The Terminal. I like this movie a lot, but no.

    Catch Me If you Can — taken with the film before that Minority Report — are probably Spielberg back at this top of his game. Both of these are awesome movies that I own and watch all the time.

    So that settles… absolutely nothing, but thanks for playing along. Oh, and the film before Minority Report was A.I. Ugh.

  • Sid 6.7 says:

    Tobey Magiure was in them Spiderman movies? All I remember from them shits was Bring it On’s rock hard nippy nips in the rain. Also remember thinking that Willem Dafoe finally looked kinda handsome for once… when he was wearing the Green Goblin mask, that is.

    • Justin Garrett Blum says:

      I would hate to be Willem Dafoe right now.

      But in all seriousness, I guess that’s the point I was trying to make: Tobey Maguire just isn’t a very charismatic leading man. He ain’t a bad actor.

  • Justin Garrett Blum says:

    heh. Thanks for doing the research. I was mostly making a veiled remark about Crystal Skull, which you know…was aiight, but it wasn’t really Spielberg at his best.

    I liked Munich. Seen it a few times. Wouldn’t mind owning it. Great movie? I don’t know. It certainly wasn’t a crowd-pleaser.

    War of the Worlds I DO own, and I watch it semi-frequently. It’s great. There are so many perfect moments in that film that I wouldn’t feel bad at all saying that it’s Spielberg at the top of his form.

    On a related note, I was recently reading some blog post in which a guy was telling a long story about how he flew half-way across country to see Munich with his friend (or something) because they have this tradition of seeing every Spielberg film together opening night. Some douche in the comments said, “I wouldn’t cross the street to see a Steven Spielberg film.”

    Really? I mean, this guy didn’t even like Raiders of the Lost Ark? Jaws? What an idiot.

  • fuwalda says:

    Fuck that guy! Hope when he’s crossing the street to see some film at a Fellini retrospective he gets hit by a fucking car. Driven by Spielberg.

  • fuwalda says:

    The first half of War or the Worlds is, maybe, as good a movie as I’ve ever seen. It’s just amazing. The last half… meh. Not terrible, but not as good. When I rewatch it, I usually turn it off after Tim Robbins’s last scene. That’s the moment when it gets boring. That’s probably well after the halfway point, actually. Long story short, that crossing the street guy is a total piece of shit.

  • fuwalda says:

    And nice to hear from you again, Sid!

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Article

Amazing Spider-Man trailer; Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; Super 8; Adventures of Tintin

I’m reading the YouTube comments on the trailers for the upcoming Spider-Man reboot film starring Andrew Garfield. I’m absolutely baffled by the number of people who say that they’ll never be able to accept another actor as Peter Parker after Tobey Maguire.

Look, I’ve got nothing against Tobey Maguire–he was fine in those films–even likeable by some measure in a largely innocuous way. But he hardly defined the role for me, primarily because the character, itself, was never very charismatic, and Tobey Maguire isn’t the sort of actor who could feasibly impart that trait to the role. For example, if you wanted to say this about another actor taking on Tony Stark at the point that Robert Downey, Jr. inevitably abandons the role, I’d understand. Why? Because of charisma: both the character and the actor have it in spades to the point that it’s almost difficult to determine where the actor ends and the character begins.

I really don’t know if they’re going to be able to turn that around in The Amazing Spider-Man, but if nothing else, this trailer at least has one joke that’s funnier than anything Spider-Man got to say over the course of the three previous films. I also love the actor’s delivery, both verbal and body language.

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3 Comments

  • fuwalda says:

    You should’ve sat down next to that guy and said, “Thanks for saving the seats. Where’s everybody else?”

    And, yeah, I knew you’d like that little cameo at the end. After I watched it, I actually thought to myself, “You know who’s going to like that? Justin Garrett Blum.”

  • Justin Garrett Blum says:

    In this case it wasn’t a huge deal, since (a) I was there by myself, (b) it was an 11 a.m. showing the week after it came out, and (c) I got there plenty early enough to still get a good seat. But it did piss me the hell off that one guy was saving what amounted to an entire row right in the middle of the theater. Still, that theater did fill up eventually, and he probably screwed over some people.

    I’ll “steal” a “saved” seat if I have to. I won’t even feel bad about it. Then again, I pee before I go to the movie theater and I don’t buy anything from the concession stand because I don’t eat while watching movies. My opinion is that if you want a seat, then keep your ass in it.

    This is especially true for blockbuster films in sold out theaters. I added a couple of links at the end of this post that I think should be required reading for anybody attending the theater with friends.

    In other news, yeah–I’m the biggest fan of that character that you’ll ever know. Maybe the only big fan of that character you’ll ever personally know!

  • fuwalda says:

    You’re the second biggest fan of that character, after Jim Starlin. (SPOILER?!)

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Article

The Avengers + movie theatre etiquette

So I have an idea for a one-panel editorial cartoon. A guy shows up to a gigantic movie theater that’s totally empty except for one guy sitting in the exact middle of the theater who tells him, “Oh, sorry, every single seat in here is reserved.”

Look, I’m just going to be blunt here: if you’re saving a seat for more than one person (who should probably be your significant other) who hasn’t yet arrived at the theater, you’re an asshole. You know why I usually go through the trouble to get to the theater well in advance of a movie starting? It’s so that I have my choice of goddamn seats. When I get there and there’s some dude who got there one minute before I did and then claimed 10 seats of prime real estate for his nine buddies who don’t even show up until five minutes after the movie starts, that pisses me off to no end.

It’s simple–if you want to sit next to your friends, then fucking get there at the same time as your friends and go in together. I really think that as a society we need to just say “no” to seat saving at the movie theater. I know it sounds dumb, but ultimately, this is going to be the thing that finally causes me to either punch somebody in the face someday or get punched in the face. I don’t know why of all the shitty and obnoxious things that people do, this irks me almost more than anything else. But it does.*

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