Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Thom Yorke Performs New Radiohead song

So, recently, Thom Yorke has been playing a few solo gigs here and there, performing music off of his brilliant The Eraser album, as well as some Radiohead songs.

The cool thing is that he also performed a new song, making a point to identify it as "a new Radiohead song". Give Up the Ghost is the first new song attributed to the band since August 2009, when they released Harry Patch (In Memory Of) and These Are My Twisted Words, both of which were available for download.

Below you'll find the incredibly shaggy (and is that grey in his beard? Man, I'm getting old) Yorke performing the new song at the Big Chill Festival in Eastnor, England a few weeks ago.


Sci-Fi Tech That Will Kill Us All (11) : The BEAR

Meet Vecna Robotics' Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot, or BEAR. I'm going to let the video speak for itself, but as an intro, here's what BEAR's severely misguided creators have to say about their flagship product:

Designed to locate, lift and rescue people in harm's way, the humanoid BEAR can do what humans can't: lift heavy loads and carry them long distances. Whether on a battlefield, in a mine shaft, near a toxic chemical spill, or inside a structurally-compromised building after an earthquake, the BEAR can rescue those in need without risking additional human life.

The BEAR combines the versatility of tank-like tracks, and powerful hydraulics to do all sorts of pretty terrifying things, as seen below:

Yeah, watching it smash through glass, lift barbells and drag clearly unconscious human bodies is creepy enough, but then, HOLY FUCK, DID IT JUST TRANSFORM? It clearly transformed and rolled out there at 0:33. I think we just found the leader of the robot army that society has foolishly been building.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Comic Observations: Batman, Inc.

So, as I have mentioned elsewhere, I have pretty much left DC Comics in favour of Marvel, with a few exceptions. I'm still reading Green Lantern (though I really don't know why as I haven't been excited about it for months now), I still collect the trades for 100 Bullets (though I'm a little behind), and I'm still reading Batman & Robin, which remains a joy largely thanks to writer Grant Morrison's amazing talent.

In the past, I've written about how his stories tend to confuse the fuck out of me, but upon reflection (and a few more reads) I usually begin to regard them as utterly brilliant. He just has a completely masterful way of telling modern stories that recall the flavour of earlier eras while still containing some of the most innovative, bizarre, and fresh concepts. I've gone so far as to completely reverse my initial reaction to Batman RIP and now call it the best Batman story in a decade. Here's a cool interview that describes his stance on Batman.

He's been behind the Batman franchise for a few years now, and he's doen some incredible things. Since Bruce Wayne's "death" in Final Crisis, former Robin Dick Grayson has taken on the mantle. In the series The Return of Bruce Wayne, it's been revealed that Bruce was in fact zapped by Darkseid back in time and is now bouncing back towards the present through his family history. Amensiac, and yet still driven to survive against all odds, other heroes such as Superman have become aware that Darkseid has turned Wayne into some sort of living weapon, and when he finally figures out who he is and returns to the present, he might destroy the world. In effect, Wayne's indominatble spirit, his greatest asset, is now being used against the world. Cool, huh?

Meanwhile, fans have been sort of loving Grayson as Batman, and his partnership with Wayne's abrasive uber-assassin son Damian, who has become Robin. So, you've got two popular characters trying to fill the same role. But there can be only one, right? Well, not according to Morrison and DC.
Morrison is leaving Batman & Robin to create a new title, Batman Inc, which finds Bruce Wayne returning to the role of Batman and taking a more global stance on his mission. He is basically sertting up Batman as a worldwide organization. Grayson will continue as Gotham's protector, but Wayne, in a slightly different costume, will focus on "franchising" Batman, going so far as to have numerous others take on the role throughout the world.

Personally, I think this could be an amazing idea, or a complete disaster. On the one hand, it's bold and certainly innovative to have Wayne take on a global view, it also runs the risk of weakening the brand through diffusion. Still, it does allow fans of either Batman to have their cake and eat it too, while opening up the adventures of the Caped Crusader to other locales and new frontiers.

Trust a complete wacko like Morrison to take such a tried and true icon in a totally new direction.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

New Look For the Nerd!

As everyone can see, the site has a new look. I think it's a sleeker, more modern kind of style. Anyone have an opinion? Like it? Hate it? Let me know.......and I probably won't do much about it, but you can't say I don't ask!

Michael Ian Black Goes All "Network" On a Dude

Michael Ian Black, who is a funny, funny man (even if I don't love Stella as much as my best friend Scofe does) went completely berserk on a heckler the other night. This wasn't in a Michael Richards offensive insanity way, in fact, it was sort of the direct opposite of that.

He blogged about it in a typically funny and honest way. Read all about it. Done?

Okay, his response, while perhaps a little extreme and embarassing to him personally, was right on the money. Say what you want about Obama (and I would say he's only guilty of naively taking advantage of people's ignorance of how their political system works and how hard it can be to actually accomplish major change), I think it's fair to say that there are people out there who don't like the guy, and don't think he's a good leader and what have you.

He's not Hitler.

And here is the major problem with the Internet age, it makes morons think their opinion matters, and the more contrary the opinion, the more it feeds their ego. Here are some popular Internet phrases that should be banned unless strictly warranted:

  • Insert Name Here raped my childhood, dreams...basically any inappropriate use of the term "rape". Look, George Lucas made some shitty movies. That's all he's guilty of. Rape is something that happens a lot of people. It's horrible and ugly and has no comparison to the creation of Jar Jar Binks.

  • Calling anyone a fascist who isn't actually a fascist. You can insert Communist, Socialist, and/or Terrorist here, too. No matter what you believe, the people who attach themselves to those "ism"s are usually not too shy about doing so. It's an ethos they want to be a part of. Very, very, very few people in North American society can muster the energy to vote, let alone join a fringe ideology. There are some people that are followers of these systems, but you can usually spot them coming.

  • Comparing non-genocidal maniacs to Hitler, Stalin or Mao. If you have a body count less than a hundred thousand people, you're simply not in their class, folks. As Obama has not ordered the systematic murder of any one group of people that I know of, I think we can hold off from comparing him to one of history's greatest monsters. Calling him Hitler is vastly ignorant of both Obama and Hitler. I'm not saying you can't be inappropriate about these guys; I for one find Stalin hilarious for some reason. But these comparisons aren't meant to be funny, or to ridicule a frankly horrible historical figure, but to demonize someone for a "crime" that is in no way equal to the travesties committed by those they're being compared to.

So, Mr. Black, while you may be a little sheepish that you resorted to such fury in retort, I think the douchebag deserved to be roundly ridiculed, and I hope he learned something. Here's an excerpt from an article where Black expounds on why he thinks he may have gone a little too far in his outrage:

Here's the thing: I honestly believe that the vast majority of Americans want the same things; peace, opportunity, a fair shake, and the freedom to pursue their version of happiness. Democrats want that. Republicans want that. Oprah wants that. Ted Nugent wants that. Everybody. The arguments arise about how we get there. I just think we'd all be better served if we gave each other the benefit of the doubt instead of automatically demonizing the other guy. Here's the thing I am trying to keep in mind: the other guy isn't automatically the asshole. Whenever I start to think that he is, I have to remind myself, "The asshole, perhaps, is I."

Words of wisdom.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Nerdlinger's Most Anticipated Films of Fall 2010 (Part 2)

Here's Part 2 of my look at the films I'm looking forward to the most this coming fall/winter.

5 - True Grit - Now, this is an odd one. The Coen Brothers are almost impossible to pigeonhole. They can make the best dark crime films tinged with black comedy (Blood Simple, Miller's Crossing, Fargo, No Country For Old Men), they can make bizarrely heightened comedies (Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou?), totally unique and obscure art films (Barton Fink, The Man Who Wasn't There, A Serious Man) and attempts at more broad hi jinks that are interesting misfires (The Hudsucker Proxy, The Ladykillers, Burn After Reading). With this film they're making their first full-fledged western (though No Country...was close) and they're tackling a role that won John Wayne his sole Oscar. Granted it's Jeff Bridges, but still, that is daunting. I for one am really quite excited to see their take. It could fall into their misfire category, but the Coens are never boring. (Dec. 25)

4 - The Fighter - I'm of mixed feelings about David O. Russell. His films Flirting With Disaster and Three Kings are amazing. I Heart Huckabees has its fans, but I'm not one of them. His actions on-set border on the utterly reprehensible and unbalanced. He seems to have generated no shortage of ill will but he is still regarded (justifiably so) as talented. So, when you hear he's just made a boxing movie with frequent collaborator Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale, maybe he's met two actors who either won't take or can handle his technique of mental cruelty. Wahlberg plays a welterweight fighter on the road to a comeback, who is helped by his recovering Crack Addict brother (Bale). If done well, you've got a lean, powerful and crowd-pleasing Oscar contender. (Dec. 10)

3 - Biutiful - Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s latest film stars the incredible Javier Bardem as Uxbal, a lonely man involved in criminal enterprises and who, Bardem won Best Actor at Cannes, and Inarritu is getting praise for this film, which, like his previous films (Amores Perros, 21 Grams and Babel) is dark, but unlike them follows a more linear story. Bardem seems incapable of being anything other than captivating (he was even amazing in a terrible film like Love in the Time of Cholera), so at the very least, you'll be blown away by his performance. (Dec. 17)

2 - The Social Network - Aaron Sorkin wrote the screenplay. It's about the creation of Facebook and the subsequent legal battles, and friendships that ended, in the aftermath. The cast is full of young actors on their way to the top, and has David Fincher ever made a bad film (Okay, let's not count Alien3)? What more is there to say? (Oct. 1)

1 - Blue Valentine - The story of a married couple's life together, told in a non-linear style, this film directed by Derek Cianfrance took Sundance by storm this year, and apparently, both stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are amazing. I'm excited to see a grown-up look at the realities of a truly adult relationship. Both of the stars have shown real potential in the past, and could possibly mature in two of the best actors of their generation. One not to miss. (Dec. 31)

Honourable Mentions:

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger - I love Woody Allen, but he can miss as often as he hits these days.

Hereafter - Clint Eastwood dives into the metaphysical and the supernatural? I'm intrigued, but as a film maker he's never been interested in the fantastic.

Howl - James Franco as Allen Ginsberg. Could be brilliant. Could be beyond irritating.

The American - George Clooney as an assassin is intriguing, but it otherwise looks familiar.

The Tree of Life - Brad Pitt and Sean Penn star in a film directed by the legendary Terrence Malick, which will certainly look beautiful, but could also be ponderous to the point of dullness.

Nerdlinger's Most Anticipated Films of Fall 2010 (Part 1)

It's that time again, when the leaves turn, kids go back to school, and Hollywood attempts to prove they're capable of producing more quality films than All About Steve and The A-Team. Oddly enough, so far this year, I can't see any clear-cut Oscar-favourites coming down the pike. In fact,t here looks to be more than a few smaller, riskier films poised to step up to the plate, which is a welcome change from bloated prestige pictures that don't deliver.

Without further ado, here's part one of my list the ten films I'm most looking forward to this fall/winter, with a "honorable mention" section of films that might surprise me. Let's get the show on the road!

10 - Waiting For "Superman" - Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth, It Might Get Loud) directs this documentary that examines the American public school system, how it is broken, what opportunities are available for the average student, and what steps could be taken to fix the myriad problems faced by today's kids and educators. The film follows a selection of promising kids as they struggle to gain the best chance for a quality education. Should be powerful, engrossing, and most all, a great generator for serious discussion of reform. (Sept. 24)

9 - Miral - Julian Schnabel (Basquiat, Before Night Falls, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) directs this film about Hind Husseini's attempt to found an orphanage in Jerusalem following the creation of the state of Israel. The story is told through the eyes of Miral, a young women in the late 1970s who leaves the shelter of the orphanage and falls for a politically active Palestinian man, leading to her becoming embroiled in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Schnabel is major league film maker of singular vision, so this may not be two hours of fun, but it should be affecting and bold. (Dec. 3)

8 - Black Swan - Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder and Vincent Cassel star in this thriller about two young ballerinas (Portman & Kunis) who find themselves in competition for the lead role in Swan Lake. Portman's Nina is an innocent, devoted to dance, but Kunis' Lily is more sensual and dark. Their rivalry warps into a twisted friendship, and then into something darker. Darren Aronofsky has long been poised to become one of the most gifted film makers of our generation, with some critical successes (Pi, The Wrestler), and some divisive films (Requiem for A Dream, The Fountain) under his belt. Here's hoping Black Swan is the one that truly confirms his promise. (Dec. 1)

7 - The Town - Ben Affleck directs and stars in this Boston-set crime film as a local bank robber who finds himself increasingly frustrated by the life he's chosen and aware that it doesn't have many positive end points. He sees his opportunity to change in his growing attraction to a former hostage (Rebecca Hall) who may or may not be able to finger him to a relentless FBI agent (Jon Hamm), while their relationship puts him at odds with his partner in crime (Jeremy Renner) and may endanger his life. Affleck proved with Gone Baby, Gone that he was more than a beefy pretty-boy who fluked into writing an Oscar-winning film. He has a real eye for this kind of gritty crime film, the cast is exciting, and the trailer looks great. (Sept. 10)

6 - Tron: Legacy - The first Tron didn't set the world on fire at the time of its release, but has since become recognized as one of the innovators in computer generated images and has achieved a cult following. That was enough to get Disney to green light this update, which follows the son (Garret Hedlund) of the first film's protagonist (Jeff Bridges) into the computer world, where Bridges has been lost for years. The footage and trailers that have been released look absolutely spectacular, and the story is still intriguing, if a little goofy. Still, could be a blast. (Dec. 17)
See you soon for Part 2!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mara Cast as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

In the big casting news of the day, Rooney Mara has won one of the most coveted roles for an actress in years; that of Lisbeth Salander in David Fincher's adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Mara, who just finished working with director Fincher on his soon to be released The Social Network, has been considered the favourite for the role for some time, although many fan sites held out hope for bigger names such as Natalie Portman or Ellen Page.

Mara, who also appeared in the recent remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street, joins Daniel Craig in the cast, who will play journalist Mikael Blomkvist. Robin Wright and Stellan Skarsgard have been in discussion for supporting roles.

I have never seen Mara in anything that I can recall other than Youth in Revolt, which she was good in, but she seems to be the right age and body type of the role, and if Fincher has confidence, I can go along. Craig is a really good choice to top-line the film.

It's Not the End of Civilization.. But We Can See it From Here.

Justin Bieber has a biopic in the works. What......the......fuck? Now, I am not in the core audience for Justin Bieber, being neither a tween, nor in possession of a vagina, so I do not track the level of relevance this kid exerts, but he's just another pop star right? I mean, we're talking less Ray Charles or John Lennon, more Frankie Avalaon or Bobby Sherman, yeah?

The recently announced direct (who won the job after helming recent masterpiece Step Up 3D) actually said the following:

This is the story of a new voice continuing the tradition of musicians that defined their generation.

Oddly enough, his pants were not actually on fire while he said this.

So, Justin Bieber now has a biopic. For those playing at home, here's a list of musicians that don't have a biopic:

Smokey Robinson

Jimi Hendrix

The Ramones

The Velvet Underground

Bob Marley


Sam Cooke

Iggy Pop

The MC5

Marvin Gaye

Kurt Cobain

Frank Zappa

James Brown

Elliot Smith

David Bowie


But, we've got Bieber all taken care of. We've locked that down. I hear Daniel Day Lewis is in talks to play him.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Belle & Sebastian Release Album Name

One of my favourite bands, Belle & Sebastian, has just released the album art and name for their upcoming album. Here it is below:

That's pretty much the look of every single one of their albums. They don't have a release date yet, which is annoying. but they do have a cool sort of contest going on right now. Band front man Stuart Murdoch has set up a Flickr album where people can post their own photos of your town with the album's title Write About Love scrawled on a public space (non-permanently, of course).

I'm excited to hear some new B&S, as it's been a while since The Life Pursuit. There's a nice NY Times article on Murdoch from last year, which paints him in a complicated light, but it's a fascinating read. Also, here's a link to the band's tour page, which doesn't show any Canadia dates.

Finally, here's a video of the band playing one of their new songs, I Didn't See It Coming below:

Not the best quality, but it does make me eager to hear the song for reals!