There are no jingle bells, Batman doesn't smell...

...and fortunately Robin's barely in picture. Regardless , I'm off for the holidays – hope you all have good ones.


Remake or Not To Make?

As with most questions, the answer is yes and no. Or no and yes, in this case. Recently they (as in "they," the nefarious group that lives in shadows and is blameable for anything and/or everything) announced plans to remake both Romancing the Stone and They Live. I don't adopt the zero-tolerance policy for remakes that many do, but I am tiring of mining recent movies for inspiration. Here's the thing – to remake a movie, you've got to have a better reason than the inability to come up with a fresh idea.

And it helps if the original film wasn't all that great. Case in point: there's absolutely nothing missing in Romancing the Stone. Yes, the cars look all boxy and they don't have cell phones, but most of that movie is set in the jungle – it's not like what would've really made it great were more flat screens. Leave it alone, it's fine. Bring out an anniversary edition on blu-ray if you like. Enjoy.

They Live, however, is a perfect candidate. Apologies to Rowdy Roddy Piper fans (or, um, fan?) out there, but the movie is basically a neat idea, horrible one-liners and the longest, boringist fight scene in recent memory. John Carpenter's made some masterpieces, but this ain't one of 'em. So if JJ Abrams or whoever wants to polish up this misfire, I'm all for it... because it'd be fixing a failed film, not trying to recapture a recent success.

So, "they," stick with your substandard science fiction films and leave Romancing the Stone alone. And as for other upcoming remakes, namely Red Dawn, Clash of the Titans, Adventures in Babysitting, Robocop, A Nightmare of Elm Street, Friday the 13th, The Karate Kid, Weird Science, Arthur, Footloose, Flashdance and The Thing, I'd say... sure, sure, I guess, no, if you want, don't bother, prolly not, no, whatev, ok, already did and no.


Better Late... with Whoever

Despite over a decade of remixing and mocking, Guns n' Roses (which basically amounts to Axl Rose, a bunch of guys, and a million Pro Tools) finally released Chinese Democracy... The Offspring, China, Dr. Pepper and an oddly placed apostrophe be damned.

So Buckethead's been replaced by Bumblefoot, but how's the record overall? While I'm certainly not the final word on most music, I did wait in line outside Tower Records in Hollywood to buy Use Your Illusion I & II at midnight, so I'm feeling free to weigh in. What follows is the first thought that popped into my head upon hearing the disc (by which I mean iTunes downloads) for the first time:

Chinese Democracy
Opening guitar riff sounds an awful like a Judas Priest song... oop, Axl's screaming – I guess it is Guns.

Shackler's Revenge
Really good for both guitar and bass in Rock Band... not so much with the vocals.

Hmm... kinda forgettable metal – listeners beware.

Street of Dreams
Pretty good. Sorta like if both versions of Don't Cry had a kid.

If the World
Sounds a bit like Axl wrote this while listening to Yesterdays and watching porn.

There Was a Time
I think G n' R has basically become a power ballad band – not that that's a bad thing.

Catcher in the Rye
aka November Rainstorm?

Interesting Axl screamy harmony with himself... then some mishmosh about don't try to stop us now. Whatev.

Riad N' the Bedouins
Just reading the title sets the expectations for this one at "spectacular failure," and it delivers pretty quickly – Axl opens by screeching that he doesn't care about the story and guess what? Neither do I.

Sounds like Axl's sorry he's not Everlast.

Lines like "could it be the weight I've carried on, like a broken record for so long" are kind of apropos at this point in the album – oh, and the IRS isn't exactly the toughest target in the world.

Not, apparently, that "move it move it" song from the kids' movie – too bad. And a Martin Luther King "I have a dream" megamix? Seriously?

This I Love
Civil War part II – this time it's personal. Down to the "failure to communicate" clip.

Jesus, lighten up – way to go out on a high note. And haven't we heard this song already?

So how's it stack up overall? Ok, I guess. It's not the complete disaster (or no-show) that people predicted, but it's certainly not the next great anything.
If you're looking to cherry pick, download Shackler's Revenge, Street of Dreams and Catcher in the Rye and you'll be good. Those are the standouts – as an album, it's inoffensive but inessential.