The Craft (1996)

Posted in 2014, Halloween Endurance Tests with tags , , , , , on November 18, 2014 by shenanitim

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[Here’s one of the leftover Halloween Endurance Test reviews. I started watching film as I always do, then stopped once I realized that I had enough time to either review films, or prepare to move to Korea. I went for the safer “prep for Korea” route, so google images lost out on five or six ripped photos to spread across the internet. My apologies to the fans of Neve Campbell and Fairuza Balk.]

Today’s movie is the Craft. It’s the mid-90s film that started the whole Wiccan revolution; causing untold amounts of frumpy, unpopular, high school girls to stop trying to enter the mainstream, and instead celebrate their frumpiness/different-ness. In other words, detestable. I have a feeling that one needs to watch this while wearing black eyeliner and frowning uncontrollably, or else the film’s true meaning will be missed.

The Craft also stars four women who were slated to be Hollywood’s next big thing. Neve Campbell was trying to break from her Party of Five typecasting with the Bonnie role, Nancy (Fairuza Balk) was typecast here as the evil queen witch, and two other witches who obviously made no impression on popular culture. Naturally the witches all go to a private Christian school, , because no one would care that they’re dressing in black if it wasn’t in direct odds with a dress code. No one would bat an eye in public school, have you seen the Substitute?

Hatred of Goths aside, it is rather sad that the film that kept Girl Power alive during the down time between Bikini Kill and the Spice Girls has a plot that’s so boy-centric. Nancy is known as the school slut after sleeping with some boisterous jock, and rather than assert herself, she instead personifies the charge.

After this opening plot point, the film borrows the time-honored girl theme: jealousy. Nancy is the old head witch, and new witch Sarah (Robin Tunney) comes into town and starts stealing her thunder. So a fight is obviously in the works; leaving us with 60 minutes of build-up before it comes to a boil.

The girls start off light, playing “Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board” at sleepovers which proves they have powers. So next they get some revenge on a local jock who’s telling everyone he slept with Sarah. Nothing major, he just becomes infatuated with her, and so become the laughing stock for all his friends. Marcia Brady (Christine Taylor) suffers slightly worse; she tells Rochelle (Rachel True) that they’ll never be friends because Taylor’s character “doesn’t like Negroids,” and loses all her hair for it. Neve Campbell’s character is a cutter, and thus a narcissist. (She’s all about her.) She uses her new powers to cure herself of a skin condition, rather than get revenge.

Nancy changes everything when she makes a Monkey’s Paw-esque wish for money; causing her (abusive) father to suffer a heart attack so her family inherits a life insurance windfall. This profiting from evil causes a pivotal change in the group dynamic, as the other girls eventually become scared of what she’ll do to stay in control. (Nancy’s need for upward mobility also begs the question of how she got into the swank private school to begin with. Seriously, her school was used for the original Beverly Hills 90210, yet she goes there while living in a trailer. The disparity there just doesn’t work out.)

Nancy gives Sara’s charmed boyfriend a well-deserved tirade about his and his friends’ objectification of women, but her tirade rings false, as Nancy’s grudge against Sara is weak at best; Sara wants to quit the group, and apparently must die for it. So the whole “you treat all women like whores” speech is delivered by a woman who turns on a friend due to the shallowest reasoning possible. So she denounces men while personifying every objectionable female stereotype imaginable. Objectification that goes well beyond the script, if the numerous bouncing breast shots director Andrew Fleming filmed are any indication.

Leaving the film with two interesting features. One is how one of the main protagonists transforms into the main antagonist. A switch not as deftly done as the hero-turn in Eli Roth’s Hostel, but still a commendable idea. Most times the good guys are the good guys, and the bad are bad; without any complicating factors mucking things up.

The second interesting aspect is how one of my favorite zines*, Everything I Touch Turns to Shit, took its name from a line here.

*As in a zine that I always read about in my AK Press catalogs and wanted to order, but never actually did. So who knows whether I would have enjoyed it or not, though I’m guessing I would’ve just on the strength of that title alone.

Hi, My Name is ShenaniTims, and I’m Proud to Say I Will Eat Anything

Posted in Free-Range Tampa with tags , , , , , on November 18, 2014 by shenanitim

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I promise I won’t become a food blog, I promise I won’t become a food blog, I promise I won’t become a food blog, I promise I won’t become a food blog, I promise I won’t become a food blog, I promise I won’t become a food blog, I promise I won’t become a food blog, I promise I won’t become a food blog, I promise I won’t become a food blog.

I really have no interest in becoming a food blog.

Unfortunately, one of the tough realities of moving to Korea is that food becomes a major part of your day. Given that I’m now nearly mute (I know two phrases in Korean, “hello” and “thank you;” which are really the only two I’ll need), and the native, written tongue is still indecipherable to me, means buying food is a challenge. Pictures work great if the restaurant has pictures, which is important since the Korean diet is (literally) worlds away from the one found in the US. Things that are big back home (i.e. cheese and butter) aren’t found easily over here. Green peppers and mushrooms, on the other hand, and found nearly everywhere.

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So like most foreigners, I’ve become a fan of gimbap. Gimbap is the Korean equivalent to a sub; only with rice wrapped in seaweed substituting for the bread. It’s easily made (i.e. quick), cheap, and pretty ubiquitous, making it the go to meal after work.

The one major hurdle I face with (slowly) becoming a gimbal connoisseur is that their menus can easily be confused for a math quiz (see photo above). A gimbal shops don’t have pictures, so if you don’t know the symbols for a chamchi gimbap (tuna), then you’re shit out of luck. In the restaurant each table has a pad of order forms and a pen, and you just check off what you want and hand it to the nice cook hovering in the wings.

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So my homework has been (after taking an order form home) to look up new gimbaps each night after I go home. I look up the Korean characters, type them into Google, and then stare at the images trying to figure out what is what. I usually end up confused anyway, as modeum kimbap looked like black beans, but didn’t really taste any different than chamchi. And for the sake of experimentation nudeu gimbap is pointless, as it’s “nude” gimbap – so rice, seaweed, and what I assume are sliced up vegetables.

Luckily I’m down for eating anything, so I’m pretty comfortable just ordering blindly off the sheet too. When in Rome, right?

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Tonight I hit the jackpot by also ordering kimchi dumplings, which, in actuality, are more like kimchi pierogis. So if you’ve ever wished your pierogis came stuffed with spicy and sour fermented cabbage instead of cheese, meat, or mushrooms, then kimchi mandu is for you. I’m proud to say that Jeonju is the Korean food capital, and kimchi and I have hit it off splendidly, so I’m sure this one will be in rotation for awhile now.

One Week In Korea

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on November 15, 2014 by shenanitim

Last week I moved to the other side of the world. I wrote a post about the experience (mainly what it felt like to be on a plane for 16 hours (12.5 of them without a break), but as that would take time to type, and I want to explore tomorrow, I figured I’d post some pictures I took of my new neighborhood.

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Just look at this sign, it's begging to be photographed. And then bought from, even if they don't carry men's shoes, just so you can carry home a bag with that logo on it.

Just look at this sign, it’s begging to be photographed. And then bought from, even if they don’t carry men’s shoes, just so you can carry home a bag with that logo on it.

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Soda Shoes quickly became a lead contender for "ShenaniTims' Favorite Korean Shoe Store" on the basis of name alone. "Soda" + "Shoes" is practically Biblically holy in my book. Factor in their selection of men's shoes, and Present of Santa's lead wasn't looking so secure anymore.

Soda Shoes quickly became a lead contender for “ShenaniTims’ Favorite Korean Shoe Store” on the basis of name alone. “Soda” + “Shoes” is practically Biblically holy in my book. Factor in their selection of men’s shoes, and Present of Santa’s lead wasn’t looking so secure anymore.

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I don't drink coffee, but if I did, it would only be from the Seven Monkeys Coffee shop. I (also) don't own a Seven Monkeys Coffee mug, but this condition is easily rectified.

I don’t drink coffee, but if I did, it would only be from the Seven Monkeys Coffee shop. I (also) don’t own a Seven Monkeys Coffee mug, but this condition is easily rectified.

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Tune in next week when I explore a Korean grocery store; hilarity (assuredly) ensues!

Disaster L.A.: the Last Zombie Apocalypse (2014)

Posted in Halloween Endurance Tests with tags , on November 9, 2014 by shenanitim

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Disaster L.A.: the Last Zombie Apocalypse might be the only zombie movie that’s improved by not showing zombies. (Even if it does have a criminally stupid subtitle. I don’t recall the zombies being defeated, and since a new zombie film premieres every 3.4 seconds, this won’t even be the last one this year.) Gripes aside, when the film starts off, the first 30 minutes has a strong set-up; centering around Los Angeles being hit by a cluster of asteroids. While anyone who looked at the box art knows that the film is about zombies, keeping the zombies hidden works surprisingly well. (Especially considering how hard I derided Resident Evil for attempting the same trick.) Maybe it’s just the current state of horror, where everything is about zombies, but I really enjoyed the respite from frenetic brain-eating when the filmmakers opted for atmosphere over undead gore.

In a nice nod to the godfather of zombie films, George Romero, Disaster L.A. opens with the Earth being bombarded by meteors; meteors which cause humans to become brainless zombies. (While the cause of the zombie apocalypse is never identified in Night of the Living Dead, it is revealed that there was a strange meteor crash earlier that day before the events take place. This has caused many viewers to believe that this is what caused the dead to rise, this or some sort of radio waves from Jupiter.

In Disaster L.A., it’s understood that the meteor has caused the zombie outbreak. Which sets the film up, tonally, as the polar opposite of Romero’s. Whereas Romero always focused on people becoming trapped in the various levels of civilization, here it’s a group of friends trapped in one of the largest cities in the world. Granted, in Land of the Dead our heroes were also confined in a city, but it was a city surrounded by water; thus providing a sense of inclosure.

Disaster has none of that. Instead it provides otherwise gorgeous sunsets (the stuff of postcards and tourism boards), freeways (all offering chances to escape), and enough housing that the protagonists could conceivably hide out for ages and never be found by the roving bands of zombies. It’s our heroes own overpowering fear that leads to their downfall. (In a sense you could say that, in this, the zombies are the superior life form, in that they don’t bring their own demise upon themselves.

This, naturally, only works if you allow your own mind to run free when watching the film. Otherwise what you’ll get is a live action version of Dying Light. Not the worst thing in the world, but certainly something you’d rather play than watch.

Diary of the Dead (2007)

Posted in Halloween Endurance Tests with tags , , on October 27, 2014 by shenanitim

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Apologies for the lack of movie reviews. I’ve been prepping to move to Korea, and that’s a bit more important than talking about how much I hate witches. Which is a lot.

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But I have tried to watch some horror films this season, so here I’m going to rattle off reviews from the top of my head like I used to do back in the day. Before I felt the need to imdv every actor’s name and make sure I understood stuff. Kind of drains the fun out of a silly pastime.

I’ve watched Geogre Romero’s Diary of the Dead before; I think it was the year I reviewed the two Troll films. I don’t remember thinking too highly of it then, so maybe the seven intervening years have either a.) softened me up, or b.) improved the film. I’m not ashamed to say, I rather like the movie now.

Diary of the Dead has Romero abandoning his tired plot device of scaling the zombie action. In Night of the Living Dead it was individual families fighting the zombies. In Dawn of the Dead it was sects: the survivors versus the zombies versus the outlaws. Day of the Dead broadened the scope further: the military versus the dead. And Land of the Dead reached the zenith with a war between the upper class, the lower class, and the dead.

Let’s face it, Night… and Dawn of the Dead are stone cold classics, Day of the Dead is beloved now, but back in the day no one cared much for it, and no one ever mentions Land. The well had gone dry, and Romero’s social commentary was becoming both predictable and heavy-handed.

So Diary thankfully jettisons it, and returns us to Night’s micro- scale. Individual college students out making a movie (thus explaining the use of DV) who are trying to cope with a crazy situation. While I’m not usually a fan of movies shot in DV, Romero gets a pass because he’s a legit director who knows how to frame a shot so that he’s not just relying on the gimmick of “this was shot on direct video!” There’s few zombies, but when your cast is five or six people, you don’t really need many zombies to be threatening.

It would be interesting to now go back and watch Survival of the Dead, one where I believe Romero returned to Dawn’s level of societal preoccupation, to see if that one has grown on me also. Unfortunately I only have another week or two in FL, and searching through my storage shed isn’t on top of my to-do list.

Ringu (1998)

Posted in 2014, Halloween Endurance Tests with tags , , , on October 1, 2014 by shenanitim

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Ringu is the Japanese horror movie that birthed what many _imdb_ commentators consider one of the scariest US horror movies ever – the Ring. I watched the Ring years ago, and wasn’t too terribly impressed (the only thing that stood out was the bleak Seattle landscape), as it’s more chiller/thriller than Texas Chainsaw Massacre gore-fest. I know what works for me with horror movies: silliness with copious amounts of blood. Seriousness is, of course, anathema to that.

So Ringu starts off with one serious setback already notched against it: I disliked/wasn’t impressed by its localized variant. Watching the source material and some of the issues I had with the remake are (predictably) resolved. One issue with the Ring is why are the denizens of the greater Seattle area using VCRs in the digital age? Ringu sidesteps this concern because it was made before the big leap to digital was complete. (According to the dates provided in the movie; sometime in 1996 or ’97. [Actually 1998]) So the people you see here would conceivably still use VCRs. Hell, the news office heroine Reiko [Nanako Matsushima] works in has actual newspapers lying around! Her cameraman even uses an old school videocassette recorder!

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While I certainly don’t agree with the verdict that this film, or any of its decendants, are terrifying, I do enjoy aspects of it. First and foremost, it’s like a video scrapbook to earlier times. ’96/’97 was prime-time for buying/collecting/hoarding VHS copies of B-movies for me. Blackest Heart Media, Unknown Video, VideoSearch of Miami, all homes of videocassette weirdness for the pre-internet days. Back when you had to mail your order in, and wait for it to arrive in the mail, all sight unseen. You bought movies from word-of-mouth and the lurid descriptions kept in the catalogs.

Ringu and the Ring bring this all back for me. The VHS (obviously), I visited Seattle in ’06 (not too far off from the Rings’ production), and stayed in wayward motels where waking up chained to the bottom of a well wouldn’t be too out of place. (I once spent the night in a scary hotel where the owner appeared to have wooden, George Washington-teeth, and a bizarre obsession with knowing whether I had family in the area. I slept with a chair lodged under the doorknob; bad in case of a fire, but great for establishing a sense of security. The trip ended with a night in a Motel 6 with discolored carpet from what I assume was bloodstains leading from the bed to the sink (or vice versa).) Given my memories of Seattle circa the Ring-era, Ringu feels at home too. A simpler time even, back when Hollywood’s remake machine was restricted to overseas properties.

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Not to mention Reiko makes a much more believable heroine then Naomi Watts ever did. One third of the way through the film, and Reiko hasn’t even been cursed yet. She’s playing a real journalist, investigating an urban legend about high school kids dying of fright. At this point in the American version and Watts is running around Puget Sound trying to save herself and her son from certain doom. We’ve met Reiko’s son Yoichi [Rikiya Otaka] maybe once in the Japanese version, and he’s way in the background as far as developed characters go. This is mom’s show.

While there’s a decent amount of supernaturalism in the film (I don’t remember Naomi Watt’s ex being a psychic in the American release), and the pacing and acting is superior, Ringu’s story is still a garden-variety Scooby-Doo mystery. A exiled, tortured psychic being pimped out by her mentor/lover, who gives birth to a stronger psychic hell raising child who brings an end to the whole charade. Rather than read minds, she can kill with her mind; yet for some reason in the afterlife she crawls out of the television to murder her victims.

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Reiko and her psychic ex Ryuchi [Hiroyuki Sanada] find the tortured girls unmarked graves, give them a decent burial, and still end up being haunted. Which leads us to the original’s biggest diversion from the remake, the ending. Finding no solution in burying the accursed dead in hallowed ground, as Ryuchi dies from the curse shortly after avenging (Sadako) the girl’s death, Reiko takes the only option left to her to save her son, by passing the curse onto her father. It’s a brutal ending underlined by the utterly majestic sunset she’s driving towards as the voiceover let’s us into her plan.

The Brothers Grimm (2005)

Posted in 2013, Halloween Endurance Tests with tags , , , , , , , on April 26, 2014 by shenanitim

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[I originally typed this review during 2013’s Halloween Endurance Test. It has been sitting unpublished/-polished ever since. Enjoy.]

One of the first things you learn in college, besides where to score free condoms (the health clinic), and how to score free drugs (the white dude with dreadlocks down at the end of the hall), is that folktales are living, breathing stories. With each tale coming complete with variants as plentiful as there are overweight anthropology professors to collect them. You’ll also learn that the fabled Brothers Grimm didn’t so much create these tales as codify them; giving restrictive shapes to tales that often encompassed both wanton violence and coprophilia. The Brothers Grimm becoming almost as famous for who they were and what they did than the tales they worked so hard collecting.

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As such, it should shock no one that Hollywood would eventually become bored with toying with these tales, and instead focus on their collectors. What was surprising, however, is how amusing and satisfying the Brothers Grimm ended up. The film perfectly mimicking the amorphous qualities the folktales had before the Brothers Grimm recorded them.

The film starts with younger brother Jake (Heath Ledger) being sent to buy his sick sister medicine. Jake is, and remains throughout, a believer, however, so he trades the family cow for some beans that he was assured were magic. Older brother Will (Matt Damon) throttles him for believing in fairy tales.

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In the movie’s reality, the brothers don’t record the tales, but avenge them. Playacting hauntings and pretend fighting witches to fool villages out of their money. Until they’re one day caught by Cavaldi (Peter Stormare), and forced to make good on their fraudulent claims. So really it’s Ghostbusters with half the cast, more modern special effects, and baby tears replacing proton packs.

Reality’s edges become even more blurred when you consider that many of the castles in the Brothers Grimm are the real deal. Thus making it nearly impossible to distinguish between German architecture and Hollywood artifice. To make no mention of how traditional fairy tales get chopped up and spliced back together.

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The Brothers Grimm main quest stretching from Hansel and Gretal, waylaid by Little Red Riding Hood’s wolf, having through an enchanted forest, ending up at Repunsal’s tower. The Brothers charged with saving the missing daughters of Marbaden in exchange for their own heads.

All in all, not a bad premise. Except that, in the movie world, all the fantastic elements are fake; as we learn via Jake’s magic beans. The elements remain fake until midway through, at which point we learn all the things the Brothers were pretending to fight actually do exist. While it is rather amusing to see Jake and Will decked out in their special mirror armor, when the fantasies become real is also when the film becomes tiresome.

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Strange as it sounds, but when a film about fairy tales will lose its momentum once the fairy tales become fact. Not even the addition of a genuinely likable character, Angelika (Lena Headey), who plays the Brothers’ belligerent guide, can undo the damage.

Here’s how it works. Once you establish the laws within a fictional world, it’s vitally important that you don’t then violate said laws midway through. I mentioned Ghostbusters earlier, and it’s a great example, because in that film the ghosts always existed. People didn’t believe them, but we, as the audience, knew the truth.

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In the Brothers Grimm the opposite occurs. We’re told the stories are all a big con job, then, moments later, surprise, everything actually was true! It’s just that no one knew except for Angelika and the townspeople of Marbaden.

Which is a shame, as the con artist Brothers Grimm are more likable than the Brothers Grimm undergoing redemption. Also, watching a cursed horse swallow a young boy whole is just silly; no matter how great you think your CGI is. Shame on you Terry Gilliam.

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It’s amazing that with a running time of just under two hours, the Brothers Grimm still couldn’t find a way to provide the entire plot. First we find out that the Marbaden curse is true, then we randomly learn that Jake has a crush on Angelika. No build-up, no implications, just instant fact; similar to how the you learn about the adultery in the Descent.

The script just blindsides you as you watch. Hell, we also learn that Jake had already heard about the Marbaden Rapunzel witch (Monica Bellucci). he just didn’t feel like talking about it; as he does with every other fairy tale. Almost as if director Terry Gilliam couldn’t decide whether he wanted a realistic or a fantastic film, so scripted both to be true in order to hedge his bets.

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Some decent editing would help here too. First the Brothers find the forest is enchanted. Cut to a scene where they’re tortured and are re-assigned to their mission of saving the village. So they return to the forest, and this time meet the Rapunzel witch. Cut back to the village where they’re given the assignment of saving the village a third time.

If you thought reading that paragraph was laborious, imagine watching it play out on-screen.

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Honestly, all pretend reviewing aside, this movie sucks. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, no movie needs to be two hours long. Maybe documentaries that tell bona fide stories, but Hollywood crap? It’s one of those vicious cycles: movie attendance is down, so Hollywood mandates that all films must to two hours to “add value.” Which bore the masses, making them more likely to download said crap that way they can drink/smoke pot/shoot heroine while it plays.

I stopped watching an hour and twenty minutes in. I’ll assume it ends at some point, or the cameramen just got bored and stopped feeding film into the cameras.

Sanding Ovations (2013)

Posted in Free-Range Tampa, Hobo-licious with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 25, 2014 by shenanitim

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A few weeks ago Treasure Island hosted Sanding Ovations – a giant sand castle competition. Apparently the giant sand castle competition because it seems like every significant FL beach was hosting one over the weekend. Needless to say, I had to go.

When was the last time you went to the beach and saw art made by people older than three years?

—The Horseman—
Chris Guinto (Key West, FL)

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Chris Guinto’s “the Horseman” was both one of the first sand sculptures I saw, and one of my favorites. What can I say? I like my sculptures like I like my music, busy with too many ideas that don’t always pay off.

Such as the second skull visage behind the first. While I guess the front of the jack-o-lantern doesn’t create the truest skull, you can still see the obvious components. It inspires a skull interpretation, if not showing the viewer one.

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I mean, look at it from the right and you see the (mounted) Headless Horseman.

Shift to the left and you see:

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A clearer shot of the skull components. So that there’s really no reason to place another skull in the back of the jack-o-lantern.

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Especially when the sculpting there is inferior to the detailing shown on the front.

—Wild Card—
Dan Belcher (St. Louis, MO)

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Dan Belcher’s “Wild Card” was another sculpture that was right off from the Sanding Ovation’s entry point. While certainly eye-catching (who’d believe you could make sand do that?), it wasn’t a favorite as its subject, the Joker playing card, is too “11th grade, chubby, metal-head” for my tastes.

Give me abstractness and obtuseness any day of the week.

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—Scattered-Balance—
Elianne in Het Veld (Amsterdam, the Netherlands)

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Elianne in het Veld was the first Dutch contestant of the day. And she brought the heat with a design that intergrated two diametrically opposed ideals: the unforgiving structure of blocks with the innate softness of human physiology.

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The lines here are what impressed me the most. How a giant block of sand could be made to look as if it’s a bunch of thin sand blocks propping each other up.

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—Where Now?—
Jan Salen (Amsterdam, the Netherlands)

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Jan Salen’s “Where Now?” might’ve been the nicest in taking a theme and then breaking said theme down into a million tiny pieces. (Or, in this case, tiny sand people.)

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It also had the competition’s best use of scale; creating a clever illusion of distance so nicely done that you almost forget that you’re looking at sand.

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As such, “Where Now?” won 2nd place; losing out to (1st place winner) “3EY0ND” from a detailing standpoint more-so than a scope standpoint. Both were large-scale productions; I’m guessing “3EY0ND” was just more abstract and thus more arty which edged it toward the win.

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—Chalk Talk—
Marianne van den Broek (Key West, FL)

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“Chalk Talk” shows you just how deceptive these sand sculpture games can be. On any given day, you’d be blessed to find something of this magnitude while wandering a beach. It’d be the topic of water cooler discussion for weeks!

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But here, today, it was clearly second string. Wooly mammoths might amaze down in Key West, but compared to Jan Salen’s “Where Now?” it’s way too little.

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—Ascension—
Rusty Croft (Carmel, CA)

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“Ascension” is another sculpture who’s impact was certainly muted by its neighbors’ grandeur. I mean, here’s a sand castle made to look as if it’s a fish leaping from the water on one of America’s prime beaches.

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Look at the detailing! Look at the empty spaces sculpted within. And it doesn’t even rank!

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—Beached—
Sue McGrew (Tacoma, WA)

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After perusing Sue McGrew’s body of work (at least the work available on her website), one can’t help but feel that “Beached” is an outlier in her otherwise outstanding portfolio.

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—The Key to a Woman’s Heart—
Dan Doubleday (Treasure Island, FL)

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How Dan Doubleday didn’t win a localized award for “Sand Sculpture Most Likely to Win Over the Ghost of Salvador Dali” is beyond me. Though actually being from Treasure Island might’ve lessened the effect of sculpting in a heavy dose of the hometown’s favorite artist.

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Easily the most surreal sculpture of the day, and also the winner of ShenaniTims’ own “Sculpture Most Likely to Remind a Lonely Blogger of a Bizzaro Japanese Art-House Film” award.

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—On Communication—
Benjamin Probanza (Acapulco, Mexico)

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Scanning his website, one quickly realizes that Benjamin Probanza doesn’t just sculpt sand; he’s also a true artiste. With work ranging from sand sculpting (obviously) to animation.

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He also doesn’t seem to hold much faith “in communication,” judging from the disconnect Probanza put between one’s lips and one’s ears.

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Perhaps it’s just a happy accident, but said disconnect forces one to appreciate “On Communication’s” highpoint: its texture.

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Anyone (or, any of the artists gracing Sanding Ovation with their presence) could have thrown up two monoliths; one bearing a pair of lips, the other an ear, and, with the help of a specific title card, made a grand statement.

It’s the interior swirls representing the mind that really grab the attention though. Especially considering how, on first view, I assumed that Probanza had just etched whatever pattern floated into his head while sculpting.

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No, the placement is deliberate, and the sculpture is better for it. Even the crazy delirious cubist take on the ear and lips mirror how hideous the intricacies of faces look when viewed close up. The pores on the outside of the ear to let the sound in.

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There really should’ve been an award for “Most Deliberate” sculpture.

—3EY0ND—
Nathan Bouchard (Jobi) (Montreal, Canada)

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And then the winner. I really don’t know what to say about this one except that, after viewing it, I really enjoyed Benjamin Probanza’s concise vision.

Here we have a mess of ideas. At first glance it’s pure Cthulu horror shot through Paul Verhoeven’s “Starship Troopers” lens. A giant, insectoid structure with two human hands blindly trying to dig their way out.

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Then, on the backside? Earth. Does Bouchard believe us to be the Brood? I mean, we are redesigning the world to suit our own image, but humanity’s mindset is far different from the hivemind insects have.

Bees, termites, ants, all have certain roles to which they’re bound. Sure, there are many faceless office workers amongst the seven billion humans on the Earth, but there’s (usually) always a chance of breaking the mold. No matter how far off, it’s there. A self-determination so strong that not even one of the world’s most potent brainwashing device, Catholicism, could extinguish it. Instead they adopted it, making free will part of their canon.

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Learning How Not to Sink

Posted in Free-Range Tampa, Live from the C.O., Oldies But Baddies with tags , , on January 26, 2014 by shenanitim

[I’m so glad I’ve left retail behind me…]

“Sir, do you carry baby coffins?”

“I’m sorry, we do not.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’ve worked here a long time and have never seen baby coffins here.”

[Indignant] “Well, do you know where I could get one?”

Guests always get angry when you don’t have whatever they’re trying to buy. They become even angrier when they find out that you’re not, in fact, a walking retail encyclopedia.

No ma’am, I don’t know where you could buy what you’re looking for. Last time I checked, that part of our marketplace was your area. Having cash isn’t enough anymore, we expect you to know what you want to buy and where to buy it too!

Sometimes it’s fun to play along with them awhile, so as to make their eventual disappointment that much more poignant.

“Excuse me, where do you keep the baby coffins?”

“Oh those? Let me think… Yeah, I think we have a few left. What size did you need? I believe I have a couple newborn ones in back, plus a few 2-3 months… Are you looking for any in particular? I know the newborn ones are honey oak, and we might have one of the 2-3’s in expresso.”

“What about black?”

“Please ma’am, let’s keep this civil!”

ShenaniTims, Master Negotiator

Posted in Free-Range Tampa with tags , , on January 12, 2014 by shenanitim

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Truant and I were recently asked by the Venture Compound to help provide programming for their upcoming Venture TV. Obviously we were super stoked, so did what came naturally: raided our local flea market to buy crap to abuse. This is just one of the resultant adventures.

“How much for the case?,” I ask, motioning towards a decrepit hunk of plastic that probably housed baby tools a decade of decay ago.

“$5,” answer the gangly scrap metal dealer.

“$5?,” incredulously, “How much for just the case, without the freshwater testing kit inside?”

[The tool case contained some kind of fresh water treatment kit; of no interest to anyone but hardened outdoorsman/survivalist nuts.]

“Alone? $4.”

Truant: “So he’s saying that the case is worth more than the chemicals?”

“I’ll give you $3 for it,” I offer; feeling comfortable after watching hours of Hardcore Pawn that this is how haggling is done.

BEAT IT!,” shouts the man, now enraged, slamming the chemicals in question back into the now unattainable case.

Not all deals end with a handshake. We found a real tool case, one made from metal!, an hour later. We also found a robot. Click on either of the photos, over or under, to watch the promo and commercial we made from both.

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[Feel free to click either of the images to be taken to their respective commercials. Hilarity ensues!]

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