Music Video Review: Thrift Shop, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

I’ll preface this review by stating prior to hearing his new album, The Heist, which I’d highly recommend, I had only heard of this guy a few times..never actually listened to what he had to say. This is a scene by scene, shot by shot review of his music video for the album’s hit single, Thrift Shop. 

So the video begins with a wide shot of a bunch of haggard looking people rocking really weird shit. Roller blades, fur coats, and scooters. Thrift shop shit. The crew is lead by a particularly strange looking fellow with a particularly strange looking haircut wearing a particularly strange coat. We’re thinking this is probably Macklemore, but there’s no way to be sure… because I’ve never seen a picture of the guy, and this dude is very very white.

Woahh a DeLorean. If thrift stores sold cars, they would sell DeLoreans. We’re to assume the driver of the car is Ryan Lewis – the album’s producer.

And there he is again, flanked by two bizarre looking women sucking down big-gulps and pulling him along on his scooter while he just chills. It looks pretty fun, to be perfectly honest. At this point we know he’s our protagonist. He hops in the whip.

0:40 – Macklemore starts rhyming immediately upon entering the club. His opening line, “Walk up to the club like what up I got a big cock/nah I’m just pumped up on shit from the thrift shop” He’s totally jazzed on his get-up. Mink, jeans, hoes. Standard proCEEJah.

“Ice on the fringe is so damn frosty/the people like, damn..that’s a cold-ass honky.” Says the convinced-looking black dude in the club. We’re starting to get the vibe, and we’re starting to rock with it. The song is incredibly catchy, and Macklemore flows quick with wit and we try to keep up, smiling most probably. We’re all starting to think we knew a kid exactly like this guy in high school.

“Draped in a leopard mink, girls standing next to me, prolly shoulda washed this, smells like R Kelly sheets….PISSSSSSSS” and we see an improvised R Kelly roll past the camera, blindfolded, and smiling like a pedophile.

1:06 We are now in a massive thriftstore/warehouse where Macklemore is hopping from sofa to sofa in a billowy mink while a crew of shady looking people dance through the aisles. Intercut with slow motion, and the beat is juiced. We cut to a creepy looking old man as Macklemore references stealing grandpa’s style. “They had a broken keyboard/I bought a broken keyboard/I bought a ski blanket/then I bought a kneeboard.” This speaks to the ridiculous assortment of shit one will find in any random thrift store. We see a cut of Mack kneeboarding, which is funny.

“I’m gonna pop some tags/only got twenty dollars in my pocket/looking for a come-up/this is f*#^ing awesomeeeeeee”

Hook time. We witness, throughout the video, that the hooks are performed by various people..none of whom are the actual artist.. well I’m not totally sure of that seeing as I can’t find any evidence that this person, Wanz, actually exists. But I’m guessing it’s not the first character featured on the hook – A massively obese white woman who stares at the camera like it’s an infant while she flawlessly recites the lyrics. It’s pretty funny, and is paired with solid camera work.

We’re off to the second and third verses, where Macklemore continues rapping about how awesome the items he finds in store are, and we watch as he and his conglomerate of ridiculous looking amigos get buck in the warehouse.

“They be like ohh that gucci that’s hella tight/I’m like yo, that’s 50 dollars for a t-shirt../limited edition lets do some simple addition 50 dollars for a t-shirt that’s just some ignorant bitch shieettttt/I call that get swindled and pimped, shiett/I call that getting tricked by a business/ that shirts hella dough/ and having the same one as six other people in this club is a hella DONT/ peep game, come take a look through my telescope/ tryin get girls from a brand, and you hella WONT”

Keep in mind that this album is currently the #1 selling album on iTunes, and is getting some serious pub. And it’s cool that his message is what it is. I mean, on its surface is completely stupid, but the overall thought is valuable. He’s on top and he doesn’t care about the material stuff we’re all so used to hearing about. The thrift store itself can be a symbol for either an actual thrift-shop, or more importantly for individuality…as cliche as that sounds. He’s from Seattle, this track is one of many quality songs you’ll get on The Heist…so go get it.

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Laughter in the Dark: a simple review

I had not read any Nabokov. A simple fact that astonished a family friend of mine, and he insisted I do so right away. He retreated to his study and returned with the 1938 English translation(a translation done by the author himself) of Nabokov’s 1932 novel, Laughter in the Dark (previously, Kamera Obskura). 

Having just finished John Kennedy Toole’s, A Confederacy of Dunces, I was ensured a smooth transition from Toole’s protagonist: the horribly entitled and pompous fat man, Ignatius Reilly, to Nabokov’s lead role: Albert Albinus, the socially blind and lascivious middle-aged art critic. Both heinously flawed characters, Albinus’s voyage into idiocy is a bit more gradual than the outspoken and ever-aggressive Reilly whose constant threats to have his adversaries, “lashed until they collapse!” are slathered upon us from the opening paragraph.

Although we are informed of his ill-advised decisions almost immediately,

“He was rich, respectable, happy; one day he abandoned his wife for the sake of a youthful mistress; he loved; was not loved; and his life ended in disaster.”

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Boring Afternoon Yields Discovery of Massively Underrated Movie: Galaxy Quest

Another horribly uneventful afternoon. I flip through the channels, as I do so many times throughout these days. I come across Galaxy Quest, a 1999 film about a group of sci-fi television stars who discover the world upon which their fictional show is based, actually exists. It’s a movie I saw when I was younger and loved, so I decided to entertain my childhood inkling and get locked in. But one must be careful when watching a beloved film from his/her childhood. The grading criterium is much looser with children than it is with cynical 24 year-olds. I thought The Perfect Storm was the greatest movie every when it came out. Then I watched it last year and laughed my way through about 85% of it. Seeing as it was a childhood favorite, my guard was up.

Let’s start with a lengthy explanation of the film’s plot. Tim Allen plays Jason Nesmith, a somewhat relevant tv actor who plays the lead role in a sci-fi tv show called, Galaxy Quest.  He is flanked by Sigourney Weaver and Allan Rickman. The show, whether it admits it or not, is a blatant replica of Star Trek. The basic idea could be translated into, what if Leonard Nimoy and William Shattner were summoned into outer space, where they discovered an entire civilization built upon the ideals and themes of their earth-based, completely fictional and completely stupid tv show. Aforementioned civilization was under attack, and leaned upon the help of their idols in order to defeat their enemies and continue their existence.

Nesmith and his team of struggling actors find themselves in the middle of intergalactic war,  and are expected to save an entire race of aliens, who may be the funniest people in the movie. What follows is impromptu crash course in how to drive space ships through mine fields, how to shoot laser guns, and how to deal with people who worship you for all the wrong reasons. The last of which is not at all discussed in the film, but is more of a thematic comment. The final product is a hilarious bit of satire aimed at the comic-con population, but is in no way offensive or cutting. It’s great comedy.

Tim Allen, as Jason Nesmith

I’m not sure where he was in his career, but whatever success came after 1999 should undoubtedly be attributed to his role in GQ. Jason Nesmith is the star of the show, and pretty much the only one happy with his situation. He gets all the love, and can’t understand why the other members of the show don’t share his enthusiasm. We do get a brief look into the private life of his character, and see that it is riddled with alcohol abuse and unhappiness. Tim Allen by the way, is in my opinion, a tremendously under-appreciated actor. I don’t often brag about it, but growing up, if Seinfeld and Home Improvement were on at the same time, I went with Allen nine times out of ten. He does great work in this movie, and is constantly pissing everyone off with his overwhelming enthusiasm. He, more than other characters, undergoes tremendous change and is undoubtedly the movie’s protagonist.

Sigourney Weaver as Gwen Demarco

As you would expect, everyone’s character on the show has a specific job. Gwen Demarco’s job is extremely simple. She is responsible for communicating with the ships master computer. She alone can speak to it, even though everyone can hear what it says. She seems to be the overall voice of reason, and takes it upon herself to keep all the guys under control. She has an amazing body in this film, and it has me wondering what in the hell has happened since 1999. I guess that’s long enough to go from this to whatever the hell she was thinking in Avatar. This is the only film I can think of where I actually find Weaver extremely sexy…a thought that doesn’t usually come to mind when thinking of Sigourney Weaver. But she pulls it off. Brilliant performance from the left wing, tree hugging nut-case.

Tony Shalhoub as Fred Kwan

Everyone recognizes Monk, but Shalhoub plays almost the exact opposite role in this film. Rather than the OCD, high-strung detective in Monk, he plays a laid-back, ‘far out’, open minded technician in Galaxy Quest. Of all the characters, Kwan adapts to the bizarre situation almost seamlessly. He is the only character who pursues a romantic relationship with one of the aliens, and continually pops on-screen from the engine room with terrible news. He is clearly far too okay with the entire situation, which in turn angers everyone else, and his attitude toward everything is completely nonchalant.

Alan Rickman as Alexander Dane

Dane plays the show’s half-human, half-alien thing we’re all so familiar with after star trek. He is by far the most bitter of all the characters, and absolutely hates everyone and everything involved with the show. This is primarily because he sees the show for the joke it really is, and is more concerned with furthering his career as a student of Shakespeare.  Dane wears a rubber thing on his head that is supposed to be indicative of his unearthly roots, but as the movie progressive, the wig becomes more and more disheveled until his hair eventually breaks through the surface and is completely visible. It’s a funny progression, and seems to mirror the story’s movement.

Daryl Mitchell as Tommy Webber

Tommy is the driver of the ship, and is expected to know everything about the ship’s controls immediately upon arrival. The problem is that he knows nothing. He, unlike other members of the group, actually grows into his role. He provides some of that ‘black dude’ commentary while complaining as much as the next guy. Webber is oftentimes forgotten about in scenes, but we are usually reminded that he is massively under-qualified to be operating whatever spacecraft they may be using. He constantly yells at people to stop giving him shit, and if they want to do drive the damn ship, they can be his damn guest.

Sam Rockwell as Guy and MVP of the Movie

Guy is out of his element. Guy gets involved after asking the team if he can pull up a chair and sign some of his head-shots at a convention in Los Angeles. He has no permanent role on the show, and was only featured in one episode, in which he was killed before the opening credits. No one knows his real name, so they call him Guy, because the title of his actual character was Crewman #6. His desire to be ‘one of the gang’ is over-powering, and completely inappropriate, given the stakes of the situation. He knows more about the show than anyone else, freaks out more than anyone else, and continually floods conversations with his desire to be loved.

However, Guy’s victory is perhaps greater than anyone’s, as he is granted a full time position on the show and we can all assume his life is complete.

Galaxy Quest. It’s my underrated movie of the year nominee, and I encourage any and everyone to watch it immediately.

The Tom Hanks Connection

As much as it pains me to admit it, my life has become a series of extremely intense situations surrounded by long expanses of unimaginable boredom. The reason behind this situation is really quite simple: I am currently unemployed, which means I do nothing all day, and when it’s time to do something, it’s time to go to a job interview, which regardless of how many I endure, still manage to rock my psyche with storms of anxiety and self-questioning. An amazingly complex and intricate metaphor I like to use is the Tom Hanks, Cast Away situation. Tom and myself are in very similar situations. His isolation is completely literal, in that he was an unfortunate member of some FedEx plane that went down somewhere over the Atlantic, and by some miracle (aka lucidity and determination) was able to escape the wreckage and ended up on the beach of a deserted isle. My isolation, is a bit more metaphoric, in that I’m not actually running around through the trees of some deserted island in the south Atlantic, but have graduated from college with a degree from the field of creative writing – a field I’d like to add, that I can now confidently deem completely worthless. So as my friends and colleagues go to work every day, I’m pinned up in this house, trying to set up interviews, which I attend about once to twice a week. To continue the metaphor, if my employment is the real-world equivalent to Tom Hank’s rescue in Cast Away, then my interviews are just out-of-this-world massive. It would be like, if once-a-week a plane landed on the beach of Tom’s deserted aisle, and two guys in suits got out, set up a desk, and told Tom to have a seat. The stakes of the meeting will be ruling Hanks’ world. They would then proceed to question him, demanding he convince them of the reasons he believes relevant and deserving of a flight home. If they’re impressed, which they usually aren’t, they say they’ll be back next week, when they’ll bring along another man in a suit, who will undoubtedly be the douchiest of the three, and will more than likely trounce any hopes of escape running through Hanks’ bearded head. BUT, if he passes that test, then they’ll probably say something like, “we’ll be in touch,” which means Hanks will lose another fews years of his life in an anxiety-ridden state of anticipation while he waits. If they’re absolutely sure he’s the perfect candidate, then they will return to his island, make him fill out several booklets of information he doesn’t know, and tell him he has to reimburse them for gas on the trip home. Once he gets home he will find that his wife, the woman whose picture kept him alive through cold and windy nights, the very woman who has fueled his outer-worldly efforts of escape, has long-since given up hope and married a dentist.

This is not some elongated complaint. This is not a campaign for pity. I’m not hanging my head on the sidelines like some Carolina Panther’s quarterback. It’s just an example of my thought process as it’s connected to my massive segments of boredom and movie watching, particularly how they relate to my own life. Tom Hanks stranded on a desert island. Unbelievably relevant in so many lives. It’s all simply a prolonged transition to my next post.

Loser of the Week: Cam Newton

An inverse thought process pertaining to the Boss of the Week post. This week, in addition to a BotW, we’ll discuss the Loser of the Week, which in its inaugural showing will feature Carolina Panthers sophomore quarterback, Cam Newton.

It would appear that ‘Superman’ is finally showing his true colors. No, I’m not talking about the ridiculous over-saturation of Pink things we see in the NFL in October. That’s an entirely different discussion, and something I’ll get into soon. No, we’re instead going to discuss Cam’s sideline demeanor during Carolina’s three-game skid. In an absolute blow-out loss to the defending SuperBowl champs, Superman spent more time hiding under a towel on the bench, than he did throwing interceptions and coughing it up on the field.

But regardless of the outcome, if Cam Newton gets into the end zone, he’ll make sure everyone gets out of his way so he can do his thing. It makes me think that in a streak of dismal performances by the Panthers, an innate sense of selfishness has begun to leak from Cam Newton. Things were great last year for him, because he was a rookie and no one expected anything from the Carolina Panthers. He wins a handful of games and everyone starts talking crazy. This is not to take anything away from his season last year, when he broke the record for rushing TD’s by a QB with 14. But we’ve arrived at a season where things are expected from both the Panthers and their sophomore QB. It was a hot debate before the season began, and how has Cam reacted/performed with these expectations weighing heavy on that cape-laden back.

He’s done terribly. The Panthers are 1-4, have lost three straight, and face Dallas, Chicago, and Washington in the next three weeks respectively. Newton has thrown more picks than TDs. He has fumbled three times, equaling his total from last season. But again, his performance is related, but it’s not the reason he’s our Loser of the Week. He’s featured because of his sideline behavior, as it contrasts to the image he’s pushed upon his after one year in the league. He’s Superman, yet when the going gets tough, the ‘tough’ sits on the sideline with a pink towel draped over his head and refuses to speak to anyone? Doesn’t sound like Mr. Kent to me. An emotional leader? The chips are down, lets look to our captain. Oh, we can’t find him because he’s hiding his face under a towel on the bench. Not that his face would provide anything but more depression and fear, seeing that it’s twisted contorted itself into the most sinister scowl anyone’s seen on television since Jim Carrey in The Grinch.

My message to Cam Newton? Stay in your lane, forget the cameras, and be a leader. Prove to your fans that you’re not embarrassed to be a Carolina Panther. Don’t act like a 6 year-old girl in your press conferences. Stop fumbling the football. Quit acting like you’ve made it. Lead your team by setting a good example on and off the field. Put the towel down. STEP YOUR GAME UP.

Cartoon Network turns 20

October 1, 2012 marks the 20 year anniversary for Cartoon Network. And If you’re anywhere near my age, Cartoon Network probably played a vital role in your childhood. I used to wake up at like, 5:30am on Saturdays and watch Cartoon Network on my parents tiny little tv, in their room, using my dad’s old school(then wayyy out of style) headphones so I wouldn’t wake anyone up. My parents, dead asleep at 5:30am, and me, a five year-old kid sitting two feet away from the television watching Wile E. Coyote chase that little purple Roadrunner; Me chuckling as various ACME explosives lit up the small dark room.

sigh.

Cartoon Network put together a short music video, with the help of some notable music artists – Diplo, RiffRaff, Rusko – to pay tribute to the channel’s iconic history. In it you will see characters from almost every cartoon you watched as a child, from Fred Flintstone to Johnny Bravo. Nostalgia is the name of the game. Enjoy.