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B. E Jackson RSS Feed (Pennsylvania)

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New York
New York
Price: $13.99
151 used & new from $0.54

5.0 out of 5 stars maybe lou reed's best album, March 31, 2015
This review is from: New York (Audio CD)
You know I didn't actually know Lou Reed continued on with his solo career after the 70's until I went online and actually did a little research. Turns out he has several highly praised late 80's/early 90's albums that went by unnoticed by me and apparently most people across the country, most unfortunate being New York which is the one album I've become most interested in playing because of the many positive reviews. Lyrically it really seems like Lou Reed kicked his usual drugs and dangerous city living subject matter up several notches. Some of these lyrics FLOOR me! Really intelligently and creatively written, on the same level as Bob Dylan's classic mid 60's period which is astonishing. The lyrics can be incredibly grim too. The negative effects of drug use displayed as raw as can be. Musically I think New York is on par with the best 70's stuff that Lou wrote during the glam rock phase. Basically New York is a masterpiece. If it wasn't for the internet I NEVER would've discovered this album either. Talk about extremely little attention given to New York (the album, obviously not the city).

"Dime Store Mystery" contains a bit of the classic Velvet Underground sound in the guitar playing with a calm orchestrated rhythm carrying it through- what an unusual combination and only a sign of more unusual things to come. The guitar solo is Crazy Horse-like and grungy which immediately makes me think of the resurgence in success that Neil Young had during the same time as New York with Neil's Freedom album. Lyrically the song seems to be about contemplating the meaning of life and death it would seem, subjects familiar to anyone who's heard a couple Lou Reed albums in their time. Also decomposition of bodies and the message to never waste a moment of precious time are more subjects, probably leading to a bigger meaning that I can't figure out.

"Strawman" is slow-moving and anthemic with a LOUD guitar sound similar to grunge once again while also subtly recalling the 70's glam movement. Lyrics are about questioning if we really NEED to own all kinds of expensive things. The answer is we do not! I personally hate owning expensive things. A simple life is superior to me, while only having to spend a moderate amount of money just to get by is good enough. Forget the rich lifestyle! I think it's strange and somewhat funny that the song pokes fun at rock singers with the self-righteous/found God line. Also I like the "Do we need another million dollar movie" line because nowadays, with the amount of movies being released, the amount of money required to make them and the amount of money they earn, this subject should be taken more seriously nowadays! I bet Lou wished he had saved this song for 20 years later. And the "politician with his pants down" line is hilarious timing since, well... you know. A few years after 1989 something really big and newsworthy (and embarrassing for the country) happened that we all remember. :)

"Bushload of Faith" is somewhat generic and uninspiring based on the guitar playing with uninteresting drumming as well, and lyrically it's about the difficulty of depending on anything. It's somewhat preachy to be honest and I expect a higher level of quality out of Lou Reed than this. I like how it mentions that you can't even depend on family, church or God which gives it a deep meaning on the level of John Lennon perhaps, but less of an impact on the listener (probably because Lou Reed never expressed the immediately striking emotional range that Lennon did).

"Good Evening Mr. Walkheim" is almost upbeat and playful but... don't go around calling *this* playful mister! The lyrics are about Jesse Jackson and the Civil Rights movement. It's cleverly written so someone not paying attention to the lyrics would think it's just a happy type of song. Fooled ya! At least I think so- heck if I know. Lou Reed's way too clever for me. Excellent Roxy Music-like guitar soloing too. Not sure if these lyrics are offensive or not either. Didn't bother paying attention to them in tremendous detail. "Beginning of a Great Adventure" contains BB King-like guitar blues in the beginning, but Lou's vocals give it a sudden change in a jazzier direction with finger snapping qualities as well. Nice experimentation there, Lou! This adventure is not quite like any adventure I've ever been on! The lyrics seem to be about raising a kid and trying not to isolate him from the world. Maybe fearing the kid might grow up like having personal issues like Lou Reed? Nah can't be that. Excellent guitar licks throughout.

"Endless Cycle" is more beauty in disguise, since the tune seems to be country-influenced but there's a serious message behind the lyrics. Like all Lou Reed songs, right? He'd never write something meaningless and forgettable in the lyrics department. No he doesn't go for that. He was too smart! Anyway I may be wrong, but the lyrics seem to be totally twisted concerning a family that all partake in drugs, and they suffer by having trouble thinking clearly and physically the damage is done and irreversible. If THAT'S the message behind these lyrics, whoa! Deep stuff! Creepy stuff too. Can't say I've ever known a family where *every* member is doing drugs. Usually it's just the father or son, but these lyrics cover a lot more. Hopefully this is based on a fictional story.

"There Is No Time" initially recalls the explosively loud hair metal movement taking place at the time of New York's release with the guitar riffage the likes of which Warrant and Kix were having success with at the time but with punk undertones, before becoming more lyrically-driven about taking action now to responsibly prepare for the future and that it's time for people to just suck it up and make a difference now. The message is sort of forced and direct compared to most of the material here, but good enough. "Last Great American Whale" has a "Sweet Jane" style riff but more subdued, with lyrics that aren't expressed fully since the song's so short. The lyrics awkwardly jump from spotting the great American whale to a story involving the whale flooding the lands deliberately, before taking another awkwardly written dramatic turn that we should protect whales/oceans by not polluting waters, and how people never stop to think or care about animals. Still a great song, but the lyrics feel sloppily rushed together to me. It's like 3 undeveloped mini stories attached together.

"Romeo Had Juliette" is a mid-tempo rocker with a nice guitar solo abruptly coming out of nowhere halfway through. The lyrics about Christopher Columbus and Manhattan go by at such a tremendous speed that it's hard to understand the message Lou Reed's going for (not that it's easy to understand the message behind most of his songs- it's all up for interpretation unless you're living the life Lou's constantly singing about and can relate firsthand). "Halloween Parade" is more lyrical trickery. It *sounds* like Lou Reed is participating in the craziest Halloween costume party ever, but of course Lou's not necessarily singing about Halloween and instead disguises the message- the many costumes he sees are actually the everyday people he sees. Some of the people come down from the Bronx to cause trouble. On the surface it's a beautiful country song. Love the dark tempo change during the "Past keeps knock, knock, knockin' on my door" line.

"Dirty Blvd" is about growing up in poverty and is based around an effectively simple guitar riff. I think the lyrics are about the hardships growing up in a harsh city environment with an abusive father who only serves to make your life more difficult than it needs to be since you already have a plate load of problems and don't need anymore before eventually relying on a magic book to make your real world disappear, hence the parts about getting out of town. "Sick of You" is a fast sung country tune with lyrics going in many different places, but a returning message focuses on the Midwest with the enjoyable lyrics about a trucker driving into a nuclear reactor. Hopefully this is tongue in cheek, which is what I normally associate with rockers writing unusual lyrics for country songs but again, I acknowledge that I might be way off. I admittedly don't always get Lou Reed. In fact I rarely do. That's why my reviews are probably confusing to Lou Reed fans, lol. I just can't relate to anything the man sung about. Oh and one more thing- I like the line "The ozone layer has no ozone anymore, and you're going to leave me for the guy next door". It's clever because it covers two subjects in one swiftly sung line!

"Hold On" contains more lyrics about New York's rough lifestyle. Lou Reed mentions things that were relevant in 1989 such as Mike Tyson. I enjoy the sudden rocking tempo burst in the chorus which is normal by 80's standards but abnormal by Lou Reed standards. The lyrics are probably the hardest hitting parts of the song since they focus on human rights. "Xmas In February" is a great Christmas song... NOT! Not a Christmas song at all! You won't be hearing this played alongside the Carpenters "Merry Christmas Darling" that's for sure. Instead it's a grim take on unemployment and about a veteran going off to war and returning. The same exact subjects that are always in the news these days which must mean nobody was listening to this song when it came out. Otherwise we'd learn from our mistakes. Too bad, it might have changed something, somewhere along the line. Who knows. A song has the power to change right? Not that I can give any examples. Not that politicians are ever willing to listen closely to lyrics from a rock song, unless it's Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop" for self-confident boosting reasons, hehe.

Anyway New York is a masterpiece. No I can't grasp all the lyrics- sometimes they rush by so fast I can't even make them out. Other times I just can't understand Lou's subject matter. Whatever the case I'm almost certain had I lived in the bad parts of New York City these lyrics would probably hit a little closer to home than they currently do. With that said, I recognize a great album when I hear it. Smart lyrics, diverse songwriting by Lou Reed's standards, catchy vocal melodies, Lou actually singing most of the time instead of caught between whispering and talk-singing (probably the only complaint I ever had about the guy, but it used to be a big one- I like Lou Reed WAY more now than I used to). New York is a mighty fine album.

Shadow of the Colossus - PlayStation 2
Shadow of the Colossus - PlayStation 2
Offered by eknight-media
Price: $56.28
66 used & new from $13.89

4.0 out of 5 stars the long walk, March 28, 2015
Shadow of the Colossus is an extremely hard game to judge for me personally. It basically does everything I dislike about games, but somehow, miraculously, I'm able to ignore most of these personal issues I have and enjoy the game. Seriously, this is incredible! I'm giving this game a high rating based on one or two amazing features. I feel guilty for doing so too.

This game relies entirely on a murky, desolated but surprisingly realistic-looking outdoor environment. It takes the exploration emptiness of many famous Zelda games (at the time of this games release in 2005 however, the only logical comparison would be Ocarina of Time even though Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword definitely feel closer to Shadow of the Colossus's gameplay in my opinion) and the entire concept of Shadow of the Colossus is to defeat gigantic stone-shaped colossal-sized creatures roaming around. These creatures are downright frightening, realistic and intense. I LOVE them! To an extent, they basically all remind me of a certain Metroid Prime boss fight (Thardus).

I can't really even pick a favorite boss fight- I love the way all of them are designed. There's just so much creepiness I feel whenever I encounter one that the atmosphere is almost overwhelming sometimes. Not just the surprise element either- they can scare me even if I KNOW what to expect just based on their intimidating size. The lizard-shaped one that clings/climbs around on walls is probably my favorite, but also the one with a giant axe that tries to smack down on top of you in slow-motion is really adrenaline-rushing too, especially if you find yourself in situations just barely able to jump out of the way. There's even humongous bird and fish-shaped monsters to add some variety, and one that acts like a bull out of control which brings to mind several nightmares I've had over the years involving wild animals chasing me around. He's a feisty fellow!

I think the biggest problem I have with this game is that the exploration is really dry because there's absolutely NO enemies anywhere. The gameplay is based around exploring vast fields and rocky terrain similar to Twilight Princess with the occasional abandoned l temples and rivers scattered about. The game lacks the bright colors of most Zelda titles but I somehow don't care. It's good to have a more realistic environment for a change. This might be one of the prettiest environments I've ever seen- it's THAT impressive! Twilight Princess's open field is quite beautiful, but this is more realistic than Hyrule Field which gives it a slight edge. With that said however, I'd rank BOTH fields in Twilight Princess and Shadow of the Colossus' as some of the very best I've ever seen in a video game.

9 times out of 10 I'd quickly get bored with an empty overworld in a 3D landscape. But... not so much in this game. Since the idea is to search every nook and cranny while riding around on your horse until you finally kick up the bosses, there's really nothing else to do except shoot arrows at balls of fruit on trees. Shadow of the Colossus dramatically lacks replay value. Seriously, once I find where all the bosses are located and find the best strategies in defeating them (more on that below) I can't find any other reason to replay this game other than to get caught up in the realism of riding around on your horse which is admittedly pretty cool too. For all its incredible eye-popping graphics, realistic fields/mountains and commendable attempt at a radically different kind of gameplay, Shadow of the Colossus just happens to fall short on desiring to replay it. A lack of enemies hurts the gameplay to an extent but considered forgivable in this case due to the tremendously unsettling atmosphere and huge unforgettable bosses, but the boss battles themselves can be overlong and tedious if you're the impatient type, or someone who just wants to go into the battle and slash away quickly.

Anyway, the way you fight these oversized gigantic behemoths is like this. You have to wait for the opportunity to climb on top of them once their climbable section is revealed. This can be a long wait, especially later on. There's an ENORMOUS amount of clever trickery moves you can take advantage of in order to reach these sections easier that will become apparent as you get familiar with the bosses/gameplay, and you frequently have to hold on for your dear life once you're able to climb on top of the bosses as they often try their very hardest to shake you off like the little insect you are in comparison to their size. If you fall off... yup you guessed right- you have to climb back up and try again. I get the feeling the designers tried to cover up this particular tedious aspect of the gameplay so gamers could be overwhelmed by the hugeness and intimidation of the bosses... and it worked, I admit! Still, falling and climbing over and over can get tedious later on when the bosses pick up tremendous speed in a few instances, and/or grow significantly bigger which of course means a longer climb for you whenever you mess up. Be warned. However the game succeeds in being REALLY fun just climbing around everywhere and exploring since climbing's usually implemented very naturally and smoothly, and figuring out the best methods to reach the weak points is really fun too.

I like how the game doesn't have much of a story. Most of the lengthy text/cutscenes occur in the very beginning and very end of the game, while the focus in between is exploring everywhere in search of more colossal monsters in your attempt to wake up the mysterious unconscious girl lying down in front of you. Shadow of the Colossus goes for a REALLY big pretentious/grand scale type of presentation, the likes of which put the Zelda series to shame believe it or not (and for years I thought nothing was more pretentious than the most recent 3D Zelda entries but on a few occasions, Shadow of the Colossus surpasses even those game!) Luckily Shadow of the Colossus swept me off my feet on several occasions by pulling me into its constant peaceful (creepy!) beauty, so the grandness of the story/presentation is forgivable in this game. I'm actually forgiving flaws that I'd normally really slam a game for! I guess Shadow of the Colossus really is a masterpiece for the way it manages to hush even *me*, the pickiest gamer ever, haha.

I strongly recommend Shadow of the Colossus. Even though the beautiful vastness of the fields and mountains is probably just a way to cover up the lack of any true fighting and exploration, and even though the monsters can be tedious in finding their weak points/hanging on while waiting for the next opportunity to strike, there's an amazing element of climbing that is done almost to perfection. The climbing elements elevate the gameplay to a whole new level and I'm not sure if any video games released prior to this one had gamers climbing around so freely. It's not like Bionic Commando, but the idea is sort of the same but obviously done on a much bigger scale.

With graphics as top-notch as this, what would usually be major gameplay flaws forcing me to lower the star rating are all easily overlooked in this VERY rare case. Hard to believe I like this game as much as I do. I can't really express how shocked I am! Atmosphere, figuring out boss patterns/weak points, finding boss locations, creative climbing aspects, wondering how the events of taking down one colossal boss after another is going to bring resolution to the storyline and what's going to happen at the end with the girl... this game has a lot of great things going for it if you're patient and understanding enough to appreciate them all. Admittedly I'm not always in the right mood to get into Shadow of the Colossus, but when I AM in the right mood look out! Shadow of the Colossus rocks!

Hampton Farms Super Extra Large Peanuts, 40 Ounce
Hampton Farms Super Extra Large Peanuts, 40 Ounce
Offered by Calli Books
Price: $21.98
4 used & new from $21.97

4.0 out of 5 stars nice peanuts, March 24, 2015
While these nuts are probably fine in the taste department, I'm here to STRONGLY recommend avoiding Hampton Farms peanut butter. At least, the smooth variety. Maybe their chunky peanut butter is an improvement. I picked up a jar of Hampton Farms smooth peanut butter and have regretted it ever since. At first it tasted fine, but then this unbelievably awful aftertaste developed. I nearly wanted to throw the whole jar in the trash it was so bad.

I don't know if the peanut butter was old or perhaps I picked up some kind of healthy style peanut butter and didn't realize it since it wasn't mentioned on the jar, but either way it changed the opinion I've always had that all peanut butter brands essentially taste the same. No they don't, and Hampton Farms is the reason why. I even tried it on a few different occasions to make sure I wasn't imagining things, but met with the same results.

Sorry for the rant guys- just wanted you to know that it's not worth picking up cheaper peanut butter if it's Hampton Farms brand. However their peanuts are apparently fine. Makes me wonder what happens during the peanut butter process that drastically changes the taste.

Funny Farm (1988)
Funny Farm (1988)
DVD ~ Mike Starr
Price: $4.47
137 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars it's gettin' mighty silly out here in the country!, March 20, 2015
This review is from: Funny Farm (1988) (DVD)
Actually Funny Farm isn't entirely based around silliness but you might not believe this if you only watch a few scenes here and there. Silliness is just a part of this films brilliance. It's actually an amazingly well-written comedy. The writing's extremely sharp in fact with most of the events happening for a reason and eventually leading to a fantastic final segment, while never losing sight of the humor (whether clever or silly). It's no secret Chevy Chase was going through his prime in the late 80's/early 90's, and if it wasn't for A Christmas Vacation, I'd easily say Funny Farm is the best movie he starred in from that memorable era.

While watching Funny Farm with my dad tonight, I had forgotten how many years it's been since I watched this movie. It's been at least 20 years. Sure I caught bits and pieces along the way and I can sort of remember *some* of the scenes, but other than the beautiful Irish Setter that runs away upon Chevy and his wife bringing the dog home (funny enough, I thought this particular dog played a bigger role later on such as making a few more brief appearances but I was sadly wrong- too bad. Instead another calmer dog they buy plays a more prominent role) and the abundance of angry snowballs being thrown at his front door near the end... and there's no WAY I could've forgotten the angry mailman who tosses Chevy's mail all over the place due to being drunk by that point in his mail delivery schedule (lol). Besides these segments, I'd forgotten nearly everything else.

Man this movie is genius. Favorite scenes? Well Chevy encouraging a book publisher who happens to be driving to Chevy's home one day and quickly becomes an example of a guy appearing at the wrong place/wrong time as he and Chevy push a giant rock down a hill in an attempt to hit the mail truck as a means of Chevy persistently desiring revenge is really hilarious, or the catcher who got laid out by a baseball bat during a local ballgame without anyone nearby or in the stands caring in the slightest and instead prefer to focus on the game is quite the memorable part as well. Or how about the new dog Chevy and his wife buy, who's a quiet yellow Labrador dog. He digs up a dead person from inside a coffin buried in the front yard, and brings arm and hand skeletons inside the home during the craziest of times! Or when the moving van can't find Chevy's house until the next morning, so Chevy runs outside upon hearing them pull up and goes crazy giving them a piece of his mind only for them to toss his furniture in the nearby lake since they had a rough ordeal themselves just finding his house due to poor directions. Or the ducks who actually duck and hide when the angry mailman drives by (lol!). This movie has it all!

The best written segments are the ones Chevy has with his wife (played by Madolyn Smith) concerning a novel. You see the reason Chevy moved out to the country in the first place is because he's looking for some peace and quiet while trying to fulfill his aspiring job as a novelist. However despite all the times he sits in front of his typewriter in his room, he can never come up with anything memorable to write about. The chirping coffee-flavored birds outside aren't helping his concentration level any (lol). What makes this particular aspect of the story brilliant however, is that Chevy's wife is actually the one with a writing talent. She's the one who submits a children's story about a squirrel who suspiciously has misfortunes and characteristics exactly like her husband. Obviously Chevy's jealous, and without spoiling what happens he does something very cruel to satisfy his jealous cravings. He pulls a really dirty trick out of his hat! Before this Chevy makes his wife read one of his uninteresting stories when they get a hotel room, and this is unintentionally funny because all his wife wants to do is make love- not read manuscripts. The wife ain't happy about this of course!

Overall when you have a movie as well-written as this one with all kinds of goofy humor in between, you actually appreciate the goofy parts more in some unusual way. Don't just assume the movie is entirely goofy and pointless because there's more going on with the writing than just mindless jokes. There's a really good story taking place. That's what makes Funny Farm so funny! Yes this one is a winner folks. A must watch!

Tammy (DVD)
Tammy (DVD)
DVD ~ Melissa McCarthy
Price: $11.00
28 used & new from $4.54

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars cheer up and straighten up tammy, March 19, 2015
This review is from: Tammy (DVD) (DVD)
To be honest, Tammy isn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I was prepared, based on the commercials I've seen for this, to see a total collapse of anything remotely considered interesting/quality storytelling and humor. Sometimes the movie does venture down this unforgiveable road unfortunately, such as whenever Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon deliberately screw up singing (more like mocking) a classic Allman Brothers Band tune, the scene where Melissa's rolling over a countertop during a robbery attempt which mocks overweight people and should most definitely offend them, and lots of uncreative nonsense and boring cussing parts (like everything in the beginning when Melissa gets fired from the fast food restaurant because of her incompetence/ignorance- every WORD she says here sickens me in its lack of creativity).

However, the movie much to my surprise doesn't *completely* focus on Melissa McCarthy being belligerent and obnoxious all the time. Even though she's clearly the main character who's not only overweight, but is also very directionless in her life and clueless in how she approaches people, she sometimes comes across as a very well-meaning person when she wants to. This attribute of her personality saves the movie in my opinion. Doesn't save the movie enough for me to recommend it, but saves it enough to make it better than I feared.

Basically the story is that Melissa's character and her grandmother played by Susan Sarandon travel around through roadtrips to bars and Niagara Falls, getting involved in parties, accidentally going through with a robbery to save the grandmother in prison, hitting on two different men that both Melissa and her grandmother are attracted to (and the feeling's mutual for Melissa's potential boyfriend interestingly enough- I thought for sure this guy was going to pick apart Melissa and poke fun at her in many different ways, but instead the opposite occurs and he offers support and generosity) and causing all sorts of mischief.

Some of this stuff is surprisingly funny such as the robbery scene at the fast food restaurant. Melissa places a brown bag over her head to cover her face while pointing something shaped like a gun at the cashier lady while carrying on normal and innocent conversations with her and other employees while obtaining food. This scene is one of the best I thought. While other parts are ignorant and disrespectful towards the overweight population.

One thing that bugs me however, is... probably two things. Make that three. The film gets worse as it goes along. The humor gets pushed aside once Kathy Bates enters the picture so a more romantic drama-driven story can develop. Sorry but Melissa's character isn't likeable enough to illustrate a believable romance, and the same can be said for her equally obnoxious grandmother. Also Kathy Bates is limited to a very small role, and I seriously strongly dislike her character being treated with such a total lack of respect. Kathy's an AMAZING actress and deserves better. I did like the meaningful part where she tells Melissa she needs to get her crap together. Also I think it's odd how Melissa's mother played by Allison Janney doesn't tag along with Melissa and Susan's character on this little adventure. I think it would've been better for all three to go on crazy adventures together.

There's other humorous segments too, such as the bar scene and grandma rolling around in a backseat having some fun with a guy, haha. So gross! Also Melissa having to sleep outside the hotel room right there on the sidewalk while wild animals walk by is pretty entertaining due to grandma not quite done with the man she met at the bar, and they lock Melissa outside so they can continue their fun and games on top of the hotel bed, hehe. There's even a pillow and blanket tossed out for Melissa! How generous!

Overall not a film I'd recommend other than for VERY cheap comedy reasons. Too much dislikeable characteristics with Melissa McCarthy rub me the wrong way, and would probably downright offend others. Weak writing and wasting/underutilizing better actresses like Kathy Bates adds to this films misery (hehe, sorry for the pun).

The Purge: Anarchy
The Purge: Anarchy
DVD ~ James DeMonaco
Price: $13.99
26 used & new from $4.81

4.0 out of 5 stars better go the other way!, March 15, 2015
This review is from: The Purge: Anarchy (DVD)
I was initially skeptical to watch the Purge: Anarchy because it seemed like it very well could be a watered down poor imitation of the original Purge. Then I remembered something I either wrote or thought about writing in my review of the Purge: that you can take such a storyline and place it in several different settings for a variety of different entertaining outcomes. So while remembering that I said or wrote this, I paid extra close attention to Anarchy and enjoyed it. While the characters aren't nearly as memorable as the ones in the first Purge and it's true this is pretty much a more generic version of the first Purge, where the movie succeeds is being more explosive and action-oriented.

This time the setting takes place in the city streets which is probably where it *should* have taken place all along. Then again taking place in a suburban house makes it more atmospheric and suspenseful especially during the first half since I remember the eerie feeling of silence upon nightfall and not knowing what's going to happen which added to the atmosphere, whereas Anarchy sort of avoids that completely by going right into the purge. There's no denying from an action point of view that the city streets are an ideal location to get stuck in when the night of the purging arrives. Of course we once again have to suspend disbelief that such a concept is taking place, much like the one in the Hunger Games. This is totally fictional obviously because death is never the right way to go about things under any circumstance. To make it legal to actually kill people is a really good idea for a movie storyline perhaps, but please don't take this stuff seriously. There's actually people discussing and dissecting the story based on what they see as flaws, but the movie is clearly unrealistic anyway based entirely on the concept.

So basically you have five characters that bring out the story. One of them, most notably is Frank Grillo's character. While two characters (a mother and daughter) find themselves dragged from their apartment building and about to be kidnapped and shoved inside a van, the other two (a man and his wife or girlfriend) are in an equally terrible situation- their car broke down alongside the road so they need protection to survive the night as well. Frank comes along with his nifty, highly trained always-accurate gun shooting skills and his strong desire to get revenge on the man responsible for his son's death. He often finds himself in the middle of needing to rescue this new group of innocent and defenseless people whenever the situation calls for it (such as whenever a van rides down the road filled with gun-blasting thugs, or people chaotically standing on rooftops preaching/justifying violence, or gunfire blasts out from an apartment room up above directed towards them, etc). Frank's always around when the danger gets crazy.

Overall the movie's really exciting to watch. While it's not as good as the first Purge, it succeeds at taking the same concept and placing it in a different, more exciting environment- throughout the city streets which is basically right in the middle of all the danger. There's a few twists and turns along the way. Since everyone's basically a target for any particular reason that a friend or enemy sees fit given they have the opportunity to kill and get away with it, I'm surprised there aren't more twists and turns.

The ending could've been better though. Without spoiling it, let's just say they introduce new characters during a critical situation, and it feels a bit awkward since we have no reason to care about them since it's close to the end of the movie by that point anyway so the feeling of suspense the conclusion was probably going for falls flat a little bit. The first Purge has a MUCH better (and more graphic and sick!) ending. Also how disgusting is the scene where all the rich people are actually auctioning off the poor as part of a stage show? Forcing innocent victims to be part of a hide and seek game where they have to fend for their lives inside a dark area surrounded by people with guns. Sick stuff! I BADLY wanted that one older lady to get what was coming to her, but Frank's character lets her off too easy! Overall Anarchy is highly entertaining, but please watch the original Purge first.

Price: $9.99

3.0 out of 5 stars partyin' and makin' babies, March 7, 2015
This review is from: Neighbors (Amazon Instant Video)
I was thinking about giving Neighbors 4 stars but there's too many uninspiring moments so I'm going with a 3 instead. My biggest problem with Neighbors is ttat it's an odd combination of a couple different ideas (either incredibly offensive with numerous sex jokes mixed in with a generic house party plotline) but it doesn't quite flow or excite like it should. I'm almost thinking the writers should have made this a thriller instead of a comedy because too many jokes just don't work. It often goes WAY too far into offensive territory such as the opening scene showing Seth and his wife played by the cute Rose Byrne doing it... right in front of the baby who's watching them. If that's not creepy enough, later on the writing continues to dig a hole for itself by actually showing a baby almost chewing on a rubber.

This probably does work in a "Oh my God how shocking can they go!" type of way, but the problem is that the offensive jokes are the only ones worth remembering. It's like the writers had a couple outrageous ideas, and they wrote a bunch of filler around those ideas and tried passing it off as a movie. I come to this conclusion because the rest of the movie is pretty lousy with WAY too much partying, and the only exception is the airbag surprise. Let's just say, Seth Rogen surprisingly goes for a HIGH ride while at his office one day! This scene caught me by surprise pretty good.

If I haven't mentioned it yet, the story's about a college fraternity who moves in next door and they throw parties all day and night much to the displeasure of Seth and Rose. While at first everything's cool- Seth and Rose pretend to be young and hip while approaching the boys as a way to fit in with the teen crowd, but one day the partying and music gets a little too loud so Seth calls the cops even though he promised he wouldn't do that and would instead call the frat boys and ask them politely to turn the music down. After the cop leaves, both neighbors spend all their time getting revenge on each other. Unfortunately Seth and Rose's revenge is limited to busting a pipe and flooding the basement, sneaking through the house undetected later on, eventually fighting the frat boys in a hilarious wrestling/tackle type of way, and even joining in to party with everyone. Really uninteresting stuff.

The frat boys are far from innocent concerning their weak vengeful arsenal as well. Other than the airbag explosions, they don't really do anything memorable either. It's all done in a playful kind of way and the whole movie feels weak. That's why I feel Neighbors should have been a thriller instead. The tasteless jokes are shocking enough, and even though I have a soft spot for that type of humor it's not enough to make the movie worthy of a viewing. Rose Byrne is beautiful- stunningly beautiful even, and her character is quite hilarious, cruel and good. I like how her voice is between Australian and American. Only when she gets upset does her Australian accent come through. As for Seth, well you know Seth Rogen- he's a typical obnoxious actor most of the time. Sometimes he's funny though, and even in Neighbors he has his moments, but he's nothing special for the most part other a hilarious breastfeeding scene.

Overall well maybe if you're struggling to find something to watch on TV Neighbors is good enough, but otherwise meh. Passable. Perhaps Neighbors should have brought in other neighbors in other homes instead of being limited to just Seth and his family plus the fraternity. The movie needs more, but yeah, passable it is.

The Task (After Dark Originals)
The Task (After Dark Originals)
DVD ~ Alexandra Staden
Price: $9.39
37 used & new from $1.75

3.0 out of 5 stars skip this task, March 1, 2015
The Task is a really average horror movie. Not only does it contain a concept that's been done a million times already, it fails to deliver for the entire first half in the most important area- being scary! I think the movie got off on the wrong foot. We first see a group of teenagers being kidnapped, thrown into a van and taken away. We're led to think that the people responsible for kidnapping these kids are going to be ruthless thrilling bad guys without mercy, however when everyone arrives to their location the "kidnappers" take their masks off and reveal they're part of a reality show TV crew where teens have to stay in an abandoned prison. That was a VERY disappointing turn of events, but it gets worse.

For the next 40 minutes, we're not seeing anything resembling true horror taking place. It's some of the tamest horror imaginable. I wouldn't even say it's written for teens- more like kids. It's *that* mild. It turns out, predictably, that the reality TV crew are staying in hidden camera rooms orchestrating/watching the entire way these teens are supposed to spend their time in this dark dreadful prison. Of course, you can probably guess- there's a real murderer on the loose that neither the teens or the TV crew are aware of, and he pops up on camera to make a surprise appearance every so often.

There's barely any horror while this murderer is walking around either. We see the murderer- he's big, bald and bulky but besides that, he's hardly what I'd call intimidating. He has several opportunities to kill teens but for some bizarre reason he hardly uses them. Instead he's more concerned making sneak appearances before quickly shying away from the overhead camera. This means we don't see much in the way of violence for the most part- the occasional stabbings, one teen being placed in a sticky fly-buzzing situation (hehe), other teens playing up to the reality TV role by revealing their biggest fears and having to face them (such as one vegetarian having to eat meat, another being trapped in a secluded area, and another receiving ass while being placed in an electric chair). It feels awkward how the teens reveal their biggest fears by way of an interview as the story rolls along too.

Everything about the killer seemed off to me. He should have played a bigger, more violent role. The twist at the end which I don't reveal isn't really a twist because we all saw it coming a mile away (and we all noticed the second twist as well- like I said I won't spoil it so let's just say you can't have one twist without the other). Taking forever to get going in the first half and doing a lousy job building memorable characters is one problem, but failing to deliver in the second half while avoiding creativity in the murders and violence with clichéd writing just really hurts this one. Only the one redheaded female teen was memorable because she was feisty and determined to run out of the building once it became apparent what was going on- the rest of the characters were forgettable. Skip.

3M Scotch Masking Tape for General Painting 0.94-Inch by 60.1-Yard, 1-Pack
3M Scotch Masking Tape for General Painting 0.94-Inch by 60.1-Yard, 1-Pack
Price: $6.46
32 used & new from $2.47

3.0 out of 5 stars no sticky, no buy, February 20, 2015
I'm a bit surprised this tape isn't very good. It's not sticky enough. It will stick for a little while depending what you use it on then suddenly lose its stickiness entirely. If you plan on using this tape on frozen food wrapping paper you can just forget that- the tape will come undone in a few days. Basically when using this tape, avoid anything cold or in the area of wetness or dampness. While I understand it's possible this tape may have gotten wet somewhere along the line that I'm unaware of (either in the freezer or perhaps in the store where I bought it) I have my doubts because my roll of masking tape doesn't show signs of ever being wet. It's just un-sticky, unsatisfactory tape. It's also possible this particular roll is part of bad manufacturing... I thought about that too. But I dunno, I don't want to keep buying Scotch tape in the slim chance I did originally buy a bad roll. I'm just going to assume Scotch isn't a very dependable company when it comes to masking tape which is surprising because aren't they supposed to be the masters of tape? 3 stars.

Northern Lights Southern Cross
Northern Lights Southern Cross
Price: $7.99
75 used & new from $0.81

4.0 out of 5 stars north and south, February 20, 2015
I was originally going to give Northern Lights Southern Cross 3 stars based on a couple questionable moments and a band showing strong signs of going downhill after their classic years were obviously done and over, but I reconsidered based on the excitement I had for the most part.

The biggest question mark is obviously "It Makes No Difference". Perhaps it's a watered down imitation of the superior "Tears of Rage" or just an attempt to copy the Eagles and their laidback classic "Lyin' Eyes", but either way this slow-plodding commercial-sounding country ballad doesn't do much for me. The jazzy saxophone near the end is entirely out of place too, but at least it's interlaced with some nice guitar playing. The song just sounds too much like the Eagles and Orleans and less like the Band I associate with distinctive rock and roll greatness. The "sun won't shine anymore" line might be an indication of the tension the band members were feeling towards each other at the time. I wouldn't necessarily call this song unlistenable, but it's pretty disappointing nonetheless and clearly a few minutes overlong.

Now "Acadian Driftwood" is a major improvement, and honestly the rest of the album is much better. While this song also has a slow-plodding pace very similar to "It Makes No Difference" that could initially be interpreted as lifeless uninspiring songwriting, repeated listens reveal the lyrics and vocal melody are actually a LOT better than I originally gave it credit for. The generic funky parts in the background are forgettable but the flutes are oddly appealing and wildlife-like. Lyrically and atmospherically the song is purely great. The atmosphere does capture a nice calm outdoors setting just before sunset somewhere in the Midwest on flat fields with trees and lakes nearby, which is probably not at all what the band is going for since the lyrics are about a group of people trying to live peacefully outside but other forces make them get up and leave. At least that's my interpretation.

"Forbidden Fruit" is a keeper. Strong verse melody and mid-tempo chorus. Don't touch that forbidden fruit since you only have one life, and you better not waste it! To quote a specific line, I highly enjoy "How can I walk with this ball and chain? How can I land in this hurricane? Or is this part of man's evolution? To be torn between truth and illusion". Really insightful line there. Don't forget about the nice funky guitar solo at the end either. "Jupiter Hollow" feels like a somewhat retreat of the more interesting carnival-like and rhythmic distinctiveness of the early Band days, but it's good enough to be a quality moment anyway. It does unfortunately sound a bit dated and comparable to the late 70's based on the production and mainly the out of place synths (seriously why are the Band using synths?) The line "Like a time machine take you out to a different year" is a cringe worthy line I'm afraid. Brutal choice of words! Otherwise decent tune with good lyrics such as the line "Just like a pioneer in the new frontier, I don't know where to begin because nobody cares when a man goes mad, and tries to free the ghost within". Makes me think these lyrics are more indications of the inner turmoil related to the band members self-destruction but disguised as something else entirely if you go into this album with no knowledge of the Band quickly falling apart at this point in their career.

"Rags and Bones" has a somewhat dark atmosphere. The lyrics are all over the place and you know, I had no idea what "rags and bones" even meant until I did a google search and found it means "someone who collects unwanted household items and sells them to merchants" which explains why the lyrics are about a stroll through town meeting all different kinds of people going about their business. Now it makes more sense. The atmosphere is pretty relaxing and ideal for a warm summer evening near the beach I think. Otherwise the rushed vocal melody is a tad off but workable, and the addition of the Spanish guitar (or something that *sounds* like a Spanish guitar) is nice too but doesn't last long enough. Probably the most experimental song on the album even though it's pretty tame.

"Hobo Jungle" contains typical late 70's devastating balladry in the vocals with a lovely atmosphere. Really beautiful but sad song. It's about the life of a hobo stargazing his days away supposedly, but there's probably more depth to it than that. "Ophelia" is a return to classic Band! Yes this song sounds like it wouldn't be out of place on Stage Fright or any one of the bands... Band's early albums. It just has the right amount of upbeat vocals to be placed alongside the Band's classic material. The brass instruments work nicely, and they even give the song an old-fashioned stage show feel. "Ring Your Bell" is... ready for this? Disco! Say it ain't so! Well it is BUT! It's *good* disco! The horns, the danceable rhythm, the really memorable verse melody... I totally kid you not- it might seem strange to say the Band excels at disco arrangements and trust me I never would've believed it unless I heard it for myself. It works!

Overall well Northern Lights Southern Cross has its forgettable moments, but at least 80% of the album is pretty awesome surprisingly enough. I recommend this after you explore the Band's first four albums.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 20, 2015 12:28 AM PDT

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