Thursday, October 30, 2008

Gashouse Gorillas - Death of the American Dream Part 4 (yes it's the last part)

So here we are at the final part, the not so dramatic but very amusing finale to a tale of two shakes.

Go to their YouTube channel for more artsy fartsy sketches.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bar Spotlight (Football Season Edition): Cody's Ale House

Cody's Ale House
154 Court Street, just south of Atlantic Avenue
Cobble Hill
(I forgot to put these addresses to start!)

Cody's is quite simply one of the best bars I've been to to watch the games on Sunday. You have Sunday Ticket, plenty of TVs all around (although the quality and color temp varies) at different angles for great viewing lanes. It's crowded but never too much so, and beyond the numerous Steelers fans, you have most teams represented here. There's zero tolerance for unruliness or obnoxious behavior or spats between rival teams. But it's different than say, 200 Fifth.

Nestled in Cobble Hill only two blocks off Atlantic, it's fairly nonchalant from the outside, you may even pass by it without noticing the crowd inside. The bar is cozily shaped on the right with two levels of TVs by the bar, a string of tvs by the high tables on the left, and a few TVs in the back on the plateau'd table area where if you're lucky you can grab with a few friends early.

The staff here is top notch, these guys love the game and you don't even have to say anything, if you're perched near a TV and they see you have a particular team's apparel on, they'll make sure the TV near you has your game on, and your first pint comes with a "good luck" as well. That's the shit right there, you know you're in for a good time a great establishment (that has a rotating cheap pint, can you say Amber Bock for 3.75 last week?). People here are friendly and nobody really looks out of place. You'll see the regulars kind of hunched at the front of the bar and then sporadically the cornucopia starts. I actually was offered a seat so I could eat my food at a high table where the dude's girlfriend left to run an errand for a few minutes and he was like, "yo you should sit down, she won't be back for a while". Then, when she got back and I got up, they were like, "no worries I'll just pull up another chair". Oh Cobble Hill.

The waitress is SUPER nice and she knows how to work the crowd, and by that I mean she's always on the move and comes around often for refills and has no problem even if I just want a Diet Coke, she'll grab it for me.

The food ain't half bad either; I enjoy the chicken fingers and the calamari is decent. The salads are pretty fresh as well if you're looking for something a bit healthier.

There are no pretentions here, or even outlandish behavior, it's one of the most civilized bars for football that I've been to with this amount of a crowd. Most of the women here are decidedly short and cute as well, although during the weekday there's not much atmosphere, this is definitely very high on my list every Sunday when I'm picking a spot to hang.

The picture below is old; the TVs on the pigeon stands above the bar have been replaced by flatscreen TVs, and the back section with the tables has also been equipped with 4 TVs, one on each wall.

Folks it doesn't get any better than this really.

You can check out Cody's on Yelp here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Gashouse Gorillas - Death of the American Dream Part 3

Here we are, the dramatic third part of the flaming doc, Death of the American Dream, or DAD, or DOTAD.

As usual, you can see Gashouse Gorillas material on YouTube here:

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Poster Critique: Up

Let's put Pixar in context; the consistency of their work I think puts them up there as one of the great, and productive, production houses ever. The high quality animation that they churn out, they pretty much have it all taken care of, 200+ million at the box office, a constant sense of wonder with each film, incredibly respected collaborators like Brad Bird, and unique stories that allow them to push themselves artistically and in the animation field. It's the Pixar brand, and when you get to that point, you allow yourself to be included in a great circle starting with the old studio system all the way to something like the Miramax during the 1990s.

In that sense there's really not much to critique about Up; all they really have to do is slap "Pixar" on it...oh wait they did. There you go, that's reason enough to see it. But they do it again with an adorable teaser poster that hopefully has been rolled out or will roll out soon, because I'll get to the theater super early just to look at it and get all warm and fuzzy before seeing possible crap. Such as Danny Deckchair, starring the wonderfully cute Miranda Otto, and from which I'm sure the creators of Up had to have noticed, both their poster for it and the idea behind balloon flight.

Sure, the great, blue sky is wonderful and not even that daunting due to the fact that the blue is exceptionally bright. There are so many subtle things about this poster though that really make it an interesting "small object in space" kind of thing. Let's start with the placing of the title; it looks like a cloud itself, massive because the scope of the picture looks to be massive. The tilt of the font and the addition of dimension as the top is bloated really is a great, suggestive piece to bring a lot of whimsy to the poster.

Obviously also, the fact that the house is drawn so tiny with SO many balloons is a fantastic idea that only seems like it could be from a fairy tale. It floats among the clouds, and even has the gentle shadow to show that it's even above the clouds. The use of the flying house is great too, there's a small sense of movement to the right, and it makes you wonder where it's going, and not only wonder, it makes you want to know what happens to this curious house flying around. Is the house flying on their own valition? Did they try a fun experiment? Or maybe that's the story; that the house flies around on purpose, checking out the world from a distinctly non house point of view. It also reminds me of Jack and the Beanstalk, a fun story in it's own right.

The clouds also don't take up the whole sheet, the ample separate from the massive title font and the clouds on the bottom half give buoancy, as if past the clouds there's something even cooler as the house flies right.

As always the bubbly use of color and a wonderfully neutral yellow for the house (reminds me of when they are trying to pick the shade of yellow in Juno).

You can check out Up at IMDB here.

Actors in New York (not a play on that Richard Gere/Winona Ryder movie): Anna Koonin

Keeping things to this coast after talking about Marvelous Toy from Los Angeles, I figure I would bring you up to speed on the good citizens of this city.

Having been a bartender myself in the city, and knowing the kind of culture and sort of pride that many consider and get behind due to its many unique qualities and difficulties, some of the cliche is that actors find fluid and flexible employment in this part of the service industry. You employ a great smile and small talk in your arsenal while also honing listening skills and working on a timer from minute to minute, second to second. Even the act of doing something over and over again can mimic small takes where you engage in an improvised dialogue with patrons.

Anna Koonin is one such woman. Many people and friends have known her for a while now as the baroness of No Idea Bar in Flatiron, although I feel she would say she's a bit more modest than that. Knowing Anna at NYU through class and friends, and her education at that institution under Atlantic and Playwrights gives her a great classic combination of acting perspectives. See, I didn't want to just turn this into Bartender Spotlight, although that is an idea for the future to go along with the Bar Spotlights.

You may recognize her from her small part as a bartender on Guiding Light, or if you're a fan of Newsday, which along with other local publications New York can't seem to get enough of, you may recognize her as the woman with the wine tour in their commercials:

She was also a recent host on NYC TV's They're So New York program, where she got to report a piece on Rooftop Films, a non-profit indie film showcase. You can see check out the program at this link and see her bio and comments here.

She is a proud member of AFTRA (the other large film/tv actors union besides SAG) and is currently also freelancing at the legit agency Harden-Curtis. I encourage you to stop by on Wednesdays and Fridays at No Idea, a good bar in itself but surely made better by Anna's bright and appealing countenance. I understand the uphill battle that many actors face, but she's certainly got a hold on the consistency of work and I'm sure it'll lead to something great.

Some of her recent stuff is on the Midnight Talley Film's YouTube channel, check it out here.

For her official website and contact info, go here:

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Gowanus: The Last Vestige for Ar-teests?

If you're looking for something other than the Brooklyn Flea to go to this weekend, Gowanus is having their annual more-artists-than-you-can-shake-a-paintbrush-at tour where you can observe artists of all sorts in their natural habitats. It's called A.G.A.S.T., Annual Gowanus Artists Studio Tour, and it's this weekend on Saturday and Sunday from 1pm to 6pm, absolutely free.

Gowanus itself has always had an interesting desolation on many of its blocks that is unique to Brooklyn considering the neighborhoods they border. It's like a slightly less fun version of walking around parts of southern Soho/northwest Tribeca, where past industrial activity no longer seems prevalent but there's still the remainders, a lone truck, littered coffee cups, etc.

I can imagine that some cool art is going to be hanging around, I think there are particular inspirations and impressions that many of the artists probably draw from. You can preview all of the participating artists, join yourself, or sign up to volunteer at the official site below. The tour is set up by the Brooklyn Arts Council.

Official site: A.G.A.S.T.

Marvelous Toy - Out of the West and into your ears

I sometimes enjoy lo-fi sounds paired with big sonic tastes and lots of instruments thrown together; a band like Saturday Looks Good To Me comes to mind, with their idea that in the golden days of music, well, we recorded and felt the instrumentation more. Then you have bands that really push it onward and upward with a kind of "the bigger the better" mentality I feel, with Flaming Lips and Arcade Fire.

Marvelous Toy hails from different parts of Los Angeles, bringing together a few different sounds that are altogether far away from the pulsating pop or vacuous rock or g-funk rap...or snotty third wave ska (hey ska still love ya). Their angle is really to inject an already full-of-imitators genre with some Western twang, and I don't mean southern country, but a Western western twang, reflecting beauty and starkness from times on a "frontier" of some sort. Jordan Hudock's vocals, I thought at first on their song "You Were Brighter", was trying too hard to channel an indie Johnny Cash minus the deadpan, natural calm Cash's voice brings, but on "Twice the Speed", he really succeeds with a steady delivery and good emotion. On "Waiting For The Fire" the falsettos and chorus do a poor man's Shins.

The keys also keep things old timey down-to-earth or conversely add a pronounced orchestral touch, and some lulling backing vocals from cutesy Ny Lee kind of make you wish you were watching a sunset with a beer, maybe in Silverlake, maybe in the woods, maybe just anywhere.

At the core, they fuse this western aesthetic with slow pop progressions, you know, to mimic being contemplative. While not punchy with their switch ups and bridges, they certainly pull through with a lush sound that I'm sure a band with more members and verve like Arcade Fire could admire. They describe their sound as "a washing machine" but I think they can admit to a more calculated delivery than that.

I'm curious to see where they go from their EP "All Is Quiet", with it's silhouette flowery late sixties San Fran vibe artwork; maybe lyrically they'll inject some uppers and the music will follow. Only in the west I guess.

Marvelous Toy will be playing a Halloween show at R Bar with Les Blanks, The Voyeurs, The Hectors, and Fol Chen. Not a huge fan of the mopey music video but I'm sure live they'll throw a few smiles.

Suggested Track: "Twice The Speed" (not on the EP)

Visit their MySpace page or you can buy here at Amazon.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Do Ya Like Mashups? Well Do Ya Kid? Toy Story and The Dark Knight

This one is really good, I enjoy it when they use the real audio from one trailer and are able to synch it, although it's considerably easier with animation of course.

T-Rex and Mr. Potato Head, watch for their lines.

Bar Spotlight (Football Season Edition): Reade Street Pub

The Reade Street Pub is a downtown/Tribeca establishment complete with neon red "bar" sign fairly centrally located and a provider of some of the best, most delicately tender burgers in the city. Their fries aren't my favorite, but the burgers more than make up for it. I try not to look beyond the apps when eating at the bar during the game; it's an unnecessary cost (I mean, you're already out and about when you could be home watching the game instead, you know, not spending money). The new TVs are fantastic and a huge improvement.

Oftentimes the pub isn't filled with much of a crowd, but the loyalty is unquestioned. A lot of downtown suits come here to relax and kick back, and it's decidedly an unattractive bar in a sense. However, it's one of the few bars that's lit so you can actually see the person you're talking to, a la Limerick in Chelsea, which is a nice change of pace and there's a warmth although it's not the most crowded place. The burgers were really the key, and the fact that it's not loud like the Patriot Saloon, has more bar space than Walker's, and less cheesy than Tribeca Tavern, and certainly more casual than any number of lounges in the area. The only real competition in the immediate area is something like Puffy's or Kenn Broome.

The one oustanding thing about this place is also the beer is as cheap as it gets; there are very few places that are always on the lookout with 3 dollar mugs and as far as I can remember PBR for dirt cheap, comparable to the Patriot, which is probably one of the top 5 cheapest bars in the city.

Back to the brand new large HD TVs that they have behind the bar at a low level so it's very watchable, they have 3 or 4 along the bar, the projection in the back, and a couple more along the walls (the space behind the bar isn't much so you can really get a homey close up with the games). There were TVs before but were replaced and now it's just actually a good pick to go for the games. The tables on the restaurant end in the back and off to the side are good but the bar is really inviting, everything is just more open here, less stiff. The food sits on place settings with the same old Gaelic ad/history bit, and no one here is afraid to start up a conversation with someone else at the bar. The 'tenders are fairly chatty but always attentive as well. Photos are all around of times gone by.

It's a hop skip to Brooklyn from here, accessible to the A,C,1,2,3 and R trains.

The official site isn't much, so might I suggest the Yelp page here for more info: Reade Street Pub on Yelp.

Gashouse Gorillas - Death of the American Dream Part 2

Here it is folks, Death of the American Dream part 2. It's almost as good as Godfather 2. But not as good as Steel Magnolias.

As always, you can find those Gorillas on YouTube here.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Poster Critique: Saw V

Now I can only admit that I've seen the first Saw movie, and I did think it was a solid movie, and Cary Elwes showed he can still carry a picture even nowadays. I did not think it was particularly great, for all it's devious decisions it put the characters through, it was actually less menacing than I thought coming in. I think Tobin Bell has been an incredibly good heavy over the years from C movies to television shows, he's got a great face, the beady, sleepy eyes have a tiring, alluring, and dangerous effect. It's good to see he has a franchise, and in general, it's actually kind of cool that a franchise can be built around a villian, but part of me feels like a lot of critics pan the series for not having any emotional strength.

I'll probably see Saw V, and catch up to it beforehand with the II, III, and IV, against the judgements of my friends. It is certainly one of the most successful horror franchises and the gore is always noted, as the premise revolves around a visceral obstacle or problem, which can be used to great effect in a story dramatically and visually.

So now we come to Saw V, out for Halloween as per the last four. I chose this poster over the man struggling with the box over his head because besides the tagline for that one: "You won't believe how it ends" I don't think there's much there.

It's to the point where they are able to build buzz by being seemingly elegant and suggestive with the title, leaving out "Saw" and just having the V, which is a strong letter besides being the numeral. The placement at the bottom also leaves the rest of the poster room for no clutter, and leaving out the credits also is a good touch. The Twisted Pictures and Lionsgate logo are less visible under a slight shadow and are mixed up in the arm hair, further leaving the viewer to concentrate on the profile. I really like the Saw artwork over the years and I particularly like this one for it's mystery.

Bell's face can be determined immediately due to the rugged but precise detail, so the viewer is thrown right back into his world, his perspective. He has become this towering figure in the franchise and the main reason why people go to see it; what kind of horrific tests can he think of next? His character, what is the next chapter in his own life? The use of his face as a mask with the messy Jason-ish straps is quite unnerving and very mysterious. The face is so detailed, and the eyes in place and the mask is alive. It presents the question of who is this man, and is he really him? Or is he someone else? Is there a purpose for his blank face, seemingly tired from four previous Saw movies? Or is it the calm before the storm?

All these questions pop up and that's a good thing; I'll want to know if I can figure out any more mysteries to this Jigsaw man, what exactly is there left to explore?

The color is just right, following suit from previous artwork, a kind of blotched, slightly desaturated and grimy tone. The man's hair is tossed, and the ample body hair kind of denotes some sort of beast. But the sedated expression and the mask pulled just so indicates a sort of harmlessness, an elegance almost that clashes with the high contrast background.

I also like how the light illuminates, somewhat harshly, the man's "face", but in essence it doesn't because you know it's just a mask. Everything, although within plain sight and done with great detail, it's just out of the reach of explanation. It's not simple. The fact that it's a profile versus some cheesy head-on shot is also a great advantage. The man may look like he is in a stupor, but again, it's just a mask, so what do we know? We'll have to find out.

Bar Spotlight (Football Season Edition): Coppersmith's

So I bring myself back into Manhattan for another round of Bar Spotlight. Coppersmith's is located in northern Hell's Kitchen, right on 9th Avenue, which essentially gives it a good location stakeout for a football loving bar. The area isn't exactly riddled with TV heavy establishments, so if you're in the area it's a great pick, even if you are further east, I think this would be a great bet if probably the only bet.

It's a pretty simple bar but doesn't overdo anything, it's certainly tailored toward sports with the big screen projection in the back and the flatscreens lined up behind the bar. The area though gives it a little more character; the doors open up to the street if the weather is nice, and there's a nice mix of tables for groups, high tables for one or two people, and a bar long enough to seat probably 20 people without getting elbowed. The lighting isn't harsh and it would seem to be a nice place to hang out just because, and on the weekdays it's never really that crowded. The tiled ceiling and pale yellow walls give it an easy sense that works well during the day, it's inviting and bright.

So for Sundays, you'll want a pitcher of crap for 12 bucks, which in the long run only saves anyone what, a pint? Bud or Bud light is probably the way to go, but I would definitely suggest getting some food here, the fish and chips are quite good for 11 bucks, you get two nice sized fillets and the bartender although busy is more than happy to serve up a refill on that soda (for some reason, I don't find myself drinking alcohol when eating, it just doesn't happen that much).

The layout really is quite good, they manage to pack a lot of seating into really not a lot of space, there's always a clear path to that bathroom since you're going to need it after throwing a few back.

My only real concern, and I'm not sure if they fixed it for this season, but they have a delay on the big projection screen, a noticeable one that if you have a faster play by play game like football, it's really gives you an annoying sense of "what happened?" when everyone is screaming about 2 seconds before you because you're watching the slow screen. The other problem is that their 3 dollar domestic pint special lasts on a Sunday just like a happy hour during part of the second game (they should probably extend it from like noon to 8). But the all you can drink for 25 bucks doesn't hurt if you really don't care about your Monday's. Pints here are usually north of 5 (a lot of 5.50's) so I would stick with the discounts and the food.

The crowd here really isn't so bad either, suprisingly a lot of women keep the guys tempered and at bay, and it's always good to see a balanced bar (I've seen many a female sports fan sipping on one of their cheesy martini variations, that could be why).

To see their official site, go here.

The Knux - Remind Me In 3 Days...

The Knux (two brothers from New Orleans, now residing in Los Angeles) are gaining a lot of buzz over the past few months as their jangly guitars twang to both "Cappuccino" which was featured on Entourage and their latest, "Bang Bang", which rollicks along and not quite as laid back.

I really like "Cappuccino", although after a few listens it reveals itself to be nothing too special, it's catchy, fairly smooth, and a good song to lead with though because I think it leaves you interested in the old school beat and where these guys are coming from. Their total remix on their MySpace page is refreshing in that it's not just a tempo shift and the song does a 180 turn.

Now "Bang Bang" kind of had the opposite effect on me, I didn't like it at first, but it has grown on me, the low rumble of the chorus with lively versus that shows a range of vocal tones, expressing a slick retro feel without trying to rely too heavily on the music.

They have been labeled "hipster rap", and I think they don't really care for it, but probably won't need to deny it anyway; if they were Outkast's level, it wouldn't just be for the hip crowd anymore. I think we'll definitely have to see what the rest of the album offers, but I think that it will convert more fans than turn people away.

Here's the video for "Bang Bang", with the Outsiders influence in effect. Can't go wrong with that, although I enjoy the "Cappucino" video too, with the split screens and lots of shots of Krispy's fade.

You can check out their MySpace here:

The Gashouse Gorillas - Death Of The American Dream Part 1

Here it is folks, part 1 of a 4 part series (hopefully with that phrasing it'll draw comparisons to 48 Hours Mystery). But it ain't no mystery. We see how Two Shakes of a Lamb's Tail comes about, and with a little help from fellow UCB classmate Jason Curtis, the round of very gentle men is complete. Part 2 to come next week.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Death of the American Dream - A Gashouse Gorillas Production

They're back with a vengeance folks, it's New York's finest and less lamest comedy group of perverted, desperate souls, The Gashouse Gorillas. No, not that jazz band, so disavow all your assumptions.

Check out the trailer for the 4 part series, Death of the American Dream. It's a low key, affecting effort, an unrequited love story of a bar, an establishment that meant something unique to a community years ago. Two friends. Only one will have his heartbroken, and the other, heart attacked by a thirst for the good stuff.

Stay tuned for Part 1 later this week, or if you can't wait, check them out on YouTube.