Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Suspended Indefinitely

That's right, I'm closing shop here. I was never a huge fan of the interface anyway.

By next Wednesday, this account will be deleted. Fun while it lasted, but a failed target.

Be sure to switch over to my new, much more attractive, capable of keeping up with my creativity website over here.

Varb For Me

Suspending Blog

Listen. I'm sorry to the 12 people that have been coming to the blog regularly, but something doesn't quite feel right about it to me right now. I know the Internet can be a fickle medium, but in using various tracking systems since relaunching the blog I've seen some pretty ridiculous patterns of inconsistency in how people are responding to this project so far.

I'll probably continue what I have been doing here on a yet to be opened Live Journal blog that will also go a bit more into my personal life, but for right now: TrentSketch Reviews is suspended. Stopped. Halted. Paused. Immobile.

When I come back, it will be a big push. Be ready.

Varb For Me

Monday, April 23, 2007

Review: As Told By Ginger

This post is inspired by the wonderful people at Television Without Pity, without who I would forget to write about under appreciated shows like Nickelodeon's short lived As Told By Ginger.

What happens when a show on Nickelodeon decides to tackle more adult themes than farts are funny? We've seen it happen with Doug, Hey Arnold, Invader Zim, The Wild Thornberries, and As Told By Ginger. Nick cancels it, rarely re-airs it, and (with the exception of Invader Zim, which can only be explained by Jhonen Vasquez somehow stealing the rights to the show back from Nick) never release the series on DVD.

As Told By Ginger, for those who were not among the 12 people to watch it regularly, was the story of tween Ginger, an aspiring writer, trying to get by as best as she could in the difficult social climate of a new school for her final year of middle school. Tackling issues as light hearted as school rivalries and perfect birthday gifts to seldom seen in animation topics such as death, interracial romance, intelligence, class struggles, and single-parent households, Ginger was more advanced than a Nick show should be.

With intelligent dialogue, a realistic and consistent style of simple animation, and a theme song from Macy Gray, Ginger attempted to provide well thought out entertainment to the Nickelodeon watching masses and failed with everyone but fellow writers, critics, and awards bodies.

I guess what it comes down to is this: if you see Ginger on television some time, watch for a few minutes. It's not a show for everyone, but if you can get into it, you'll understand why the show still has a loyal group of fans that aren't all preteen girls with self-esteem issues.

This show is so under appreciated, I can't even locate an episode or clips from an episode that would make you all fall in love. I can't even embed or link to the opening theme, and I don't have any equipment with me to pull up clips myself right now.

Instead, I'll link to my new online store from Mintd.

I actually prefer it to Etsy, since there are no listing fees and you can post three items for free, but you could, say, call a listing Bags and post every bag you have as a different "color" or "size" variation. It's a good thing.

Varb For Me

Not a Review: What is this Urge I Feel

I have the strangest urge today.

I have an unnatural desire to go outside and just bask in the sunlight and warmth of a beautiful NYC spring day.

What the hell is wrong with me? I should be holed up inside a darkened room still covered in sun screen (lest I get any color) listening to songs filled with euphemisms about ninja teddy bears or films with chronic kool-aid syndrome (so much blood they had to thin it out with water, hence a kool-aid looking spurt).

Shame on me. For shame.

Varb For Me

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Review: Masters of Horror Episode "Sick Girl" by Lucky McKee

Hmm...I don't think I've previously mentioned my obsession with the work of director/screenwriter/actor Lucky McKee yet. One, I know his cousin, and thanks to knowing his film May, did very well in a forensics tournament once upon a time. Two, May is one of the best horror films of the last ten years, deftly combining black humor, wonderful realistic characters, and a twisted concept to a simultaneously sympathetic and horrifying conclusion. Three, he got screwed over big time with his film The Woods, once thought to be strong enough to demand that M. Night Shymalan rename his then titled The Woods to The Village, only to shelve the film for the better part of, about, two years and then release it straight to DVD, stripping it of all special features the week before it's release and it's still better than most of the crap films out there. Four, he stepped in at the last minute to direct what is still my favorite episode of Showtime's Masters of Horror series Sick Girl.

Sick Girl tells the story of entomologist Ida Teeter (the always wonderful and lovely Angela Bettis) who receives a strange specimen from a professor in Brazil. She eventually has Misty Falls (horror queen Misty Mundane, aka Erin Brown as credited here), a talented young artist, move in to her apartment, and all hell breaks lose.

A twisted horror comedy (what else) of a lesbian romance turned wrong at every step, the dialogue will have you laugh till you cry, while the practical effects and gore will have you cringe. The screenplay is intelligent, witty, and utterly disturbing, and McKee shows off his ability to pull out fantastic performances from his actors through understanding and collaboration that has endeared him to repeat contributors, like Angela Bettis. The true break out performer in this is Erin Brown, who is known in some circles more for her sex appeal than her acting ability. Erin fills Misty Falls with a sort of vulnerability and innocence that truly makes her turn for the worse all the more effective. Plus, she was very kind to me when I met her last year and even signed an autograph for my brother's friend who kind of has a huge crush on her (well, her work anyway).

If you are on the fence about which episode of Masters of Horror to pick up, I would personally say there are two strong choices. If you want straight horror with only a bit of dark humor, go with Cigarette Burns from John Carpenter. If you want dark humor with a nice bit of horror, go with Sick Girl.

Oh yeah, it also has Patricia Clarkson, another repeat contributor to the work of McKee. Told you he's popular.

Varb For Me

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Review: Music Video Bjork "Earth Intruders"

So today was spent making more inventory for my ever expanding online shop through etsy (clicky clicky), and I am exhausted. My sewing/crafting/art station is set up like a workbench, meaning no chair to sit at while sewing/crafting/art-ing, meaning I stand up the whole time, meaning I was on my feet for six+ hours today since I refuse to use a pattern for anything I work on. Takes out a huge portion of the creativity and personality of the work. I would rather free form a design that I'm proud of than create cookie cutter perfect inventory for a website that claims to sell handmade work any day.

So, sorry for posting ANOTHER Bjork review, but the video was leaked today and it is beyond awesome.

Imagine, if you will, that wonderful sequence in Disney's Fantasia where all the pilgrims are travelling along the forest and hills during the Ava Maria. Take that style of overlayed animation, only execute it with dancers in costuming that wouldn't be out of place in Disney's Animal Kingdom. Now turn that into a 2-D cut out shadowbox style animation over an ever changing background. Make sure the choreography follows not the rhythm of the song, but the patterns and movements of the backing instruments. Now, add in Bjork's gigantic head as the face of the Earth, some lasers destroying the immediate environment, and Bjork's crazy music and you have some very bizarre, yet wonderfully delightful art.

Suddenly, I have a strange urge to see Bjork direct Disney's The Lion King.

Varb For Me

Friday, April 20, 2007

Review: Music Video "Lip Gloss" by Lil Mama

Gather round, my children, and let me tell you a tale.

Seriously, I feel like I would be betraying ya'll's trust if I did not let you know at the onset about what will surely blow up to be the huge novelty jam of summer 2007.

Meet Lil Mama: a sassy tone deaf rapper with an affinity for over the top choreographed "retarded" (I seriously remember an MTV news segment on a whole lot of teenagers who liked to get retarded, meaning dance around like damn fools in some weird amalgam of hip hop, krump, demonic possession-like movements, and straight up stupidity) dancing. She will never have another hit song on her own again, so she better stretch what little fame she will achieve and save her dollars for the good stuff (MAC cosmetics at Macy's...duh).

In a video that seemed more fit to be a plot point (or wrap up point) in a Christopher Guest movie, our protagonist is dropped off at school by her mother, only to be given a last minute gift: a silver bracelet/locket filled with magically, poppin lip gloss that makes everyone want to be her friend. As she merrily dances her way through the school day, Lil Mama picks up more and more friends until she has to admit in the end to her mother that that lip gloss really is poppin.

It's as awful as it sounds: enjoy.

Varb For Me

Not a Review: Check Out my Etsy Shop

What the hell's an Etsy shop and why should I care?

Etsy is the web's premiere location for crafters and artists to sell their original handmade work to a worldwide audience. The money goes directly to the crafter/artist after a 20 cent listing fee directly to Etsy.

My shop is Secret Linings. Buy something.

Varb For Me

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Mini Review: High (Haute) Tension Film

I'm am so tired it's not even funny. I worked moving food, decorations, props, sets, costumes, make-up, cars, and cartons from 6:00 AM till 4:00 PM today for the Shakespeare festival my play was performed at, and I didn't even get to fucking see it. However, all of my former English teachers saw me and made the connection that only TrentSketch is crazy enough to come up with such a warped version of Shakespeare. They loved it and requested I do Othello next (which I will...eventually) and told me I should pursue playwriting. How quickly they forget the quality of my writing. I've been making English teacher's jaws drop with sentence structure, phrasing, and creativity since I was in kindergarten.

I literally just woke up maybe 20 minutes ago (it's 11:30 PM now) so here's a mini review of High Tension, one of the best slasher films of the decade:

One of the most inventive and refreshing slasher films in recent memory. The play on gender, sexuality, and mental dynamics in friendships (and more) was written to perfection. Cecil de France was wonderful as Marie, and the supporting cast was strong as well. Nice balance of gore and suspense, plus I actually loved the ending.

A strong 8/10.

Varb For Me

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Not a Review: Oh dear I spoke too soon...

Remember how I themed yesterday the good, the bad, and the ugly? Well, turns out my short play is the ugly.

Everyone who has read (or read from) the actual script thinks it is pretty funny. What those kids did to my script is kind of disgraceful.

The two ringleaders have the comedic writing abilities of a young Ryan Seacrest (which is to say none). They rewrote, for those of you who read it, the initial motorcycle mention, expanding it to such a point that the last second call back in the finale didn't even get a chuckle, not even a groan. It came off as far more self-indulgent and too clever/cute for its own good. They also expanded the knock out time from three days to three weeks, since they thought three days was unrealistic (and everything else was a mirror image of real life: Shakespeare is known for his anachronisms and horrific, fantastic impossibilities, they lend charm to his scripts; I ain't saying I'm the next Shakespeare, but I did pay tribute to much of his writing style). They also refused to do the Nurse sequence deathly straight as I advised them (so over the top soap opera-ish it's piss your pants funny) even though that's how they played every other scene.

I'm a mess.

New review later tonight.

Varb For Me

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Review: Nine Inch Nails "Year Zero"

I've mentioned my unwavering love of all things crazy and Bjork on this thread before, but I think Trent Reznor just one-upped her most successful musical experiment: Medulla.

No, the new Nine Inch Nails album "Year Zero" is not almost entirely ac capella (I wish, cause that would just be a dream), but it does try to push the boundaries of the music industry by taking apart the traditional thought process behind music and creating something that is both true to the earliest stages of music and completely out of this world/futuristic (take that Justin Timberlake).

The album is a sonic explosion of dissonance and loud electronic sequenced rock, and the overall feel and campaign of the record is incredible. Let me just pull up a quick screen grab of the flyer stuck to the back of the album to continue their year zero theme:

When Trent is in his full on sexy rocker mode, he made me contemplate whether or not I could ever love a man in that way (the track in question is Track 4, The Good Soldier, which is (not) surprisingly about sex). However, when the political discourse takes center stage (tracks 6-7 (Me, I'm Not and Capital G)), the album suffers. Me, I'm Not had an interesting enough production/arrangement behind it to be bearable, but Track 7 made me wish for the dulcet tones of Britney Spears "Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman Either", and I hate that song.

The best part of the album to me is the incredible campaign surrounding it, which is fully followed up with the environmentally friendly tri-fold paper based CD packaging, though the album does still contain a fully plastic (and harder to remove the disc from than usual) CD holder that kind of cancels out the environmental good will.

TrentSketch Safety Tip: Remove the CD booklet from the outside edge of the case, not the inside, otherwise you will rip and destroy your cardboard case.

Get this album. It's that good. Hopefully, the Grammys will reward NIN's efforts with an album of the year nomination (hey, they like the White Stripes, why not NIN). It's already guaranteed another victory in Alternative album (over Bjork...sigh, my girl just can't catch a break there).

Buy it. Now.

Varb For Me

Review: Avril Lavigne's The Best Damn Thing

The huge risk an artist runs when they label their album The Best Damn Thing is having it be a complete and utter mess. Avril Lavigne took that risk, and has failed miserably.

I have been a long term Lavigne sympathizer. When I heard "Complicated" for the first time on MTV, I thought the girl had the potential to be an edgier Mandy Moore, and her second album showed a level of sophistication far surpassing her peers.

But apparently she was too punk rock for quality.

The new album has a whole lot of Gwen Stefani-esque chanting (not even good chanting like Hollaback Girl, more like Wind it Up chanting) without any of the charm. It features over the top ridiculously heart felt goth-tinged lyrics like Dashboard Confessional without any of the levity, heart, or self-deprication of Chris Carraba. And it features the musical stylings of a Blink 182 coverband led by a former Real Worlder too fat and whorish to appear on the challenges.

I wanted to believe that maybe there would be a good track or two on the album, but there really isn't. Her first single, Girlfriend, is the only decent track on the album, and I use decent in a very generous way here.

Avril Lavigne has completely lost me with her effort-filled screamo...that isn't supposed to be screamo.

Varb For Me

Not a Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

WTH? You aren't doing another review yet? I hate you Trent Sketch.

I hate myself too, I know. But I do have a little mini theme day.

I will be experiencing three pop culture phenomenon today:

The new NIN album: a guide to creating an engaging and newsworthy marketing campaign without betraying your image.

The new Avril Lavigne album: an exercise in how far I can take an artist's awful, immature antics.

The final rehearsal of a short play I was commissioned (without pay) to write for a high school theater troupe: an exercise in patience as I've been told by my friend that they changed a "few things" like punchlines, cast list, characters, actors, costumes, songs, and more. If my favorite bit in the entire play is missing, I will be pissed. Some stank ho will have beer poured in their weave, is all I'm saying.

So one of these is clearly good (NIN...duh), my short play is supposed to be so bad it's good (it's a farce of a parody of a Disney channel original idea for goodness sake), and Avril Lavigne's album is just ugly.

Reviews of the NIN and Lavigne albums coming later today (here's a sneak preview: NIN kicks so much ass on this album it's not even funny, Avril Lavigne suddenly thinks she's Blink 182 B-sides never released in America as covered by New Found Glory after 2001 when the lead singer's voice kind of gave out on him) as well as an investigation into why God hates me as explained by the results of that rehearsal.

Here's a link to the full script as it should be performed, and yes, with heavy edits to the Disney aspects and more over the topness, it will become a screenplay, cause there genuinely is some good stuff here for a funny crime thriller (at least it's not an environmentally aware horror film, right? (you need to be logged in to see it, but yes, that is for real, and I will be making that environmentally aware horror film, even though the premise is a little shady (rim-shot)).

Tip your waiters, lest they wind up being contestants on some B-Rate reality show like The Search for the Next Pussy Cat Doll.

Varb For Me

Monday, April 16, 2007

Not a Review: I hate rain

Not really. I normally enjoy a good rainy day. But this rain storm that hit the northeast left me stranded in NJ, which meant that I had to miss out on an audition and an invitation to do some back up vocals for a friend's band tonight (a few months ago he pulled me up on stage and made me sing for him on his band's cover of "Steady As She Goes" by the Raconteurs and has been trying to get me on stage again ever since).

I'll bang out a review tomorrow. Right now I need some sleep.

But I will leave you with a video that, while I'm sure you've already watched it, always leaves a smile on my face:

And one more clip for good measure (Two actually, my single favorite episode of Naruto from the Chunin exam arc, you really don't need to know the show at all to enjoy it):

Varb For Me

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Review: Website

Ok, this seems like a strange review topic, but it fits within the scope of the site. is an online community for crafty people who think outside the box. Just looking at the homepage gives an indication of the kind of things you are getting yourself into by joining these forums:

The featured projects include: a clock made with artist trading cards (3X5 one of a kind art cards designed by the artist as an informal exchange with other artists they meet, it's cool), a mirror built with panels of wood covered in soda can labels, amiguri (Japanese-styled crocheted stuffed toys) food, a jacket hand embroidered with many many images of people, a sewing machine made from felt, and a bizarre (yet strangely adorable) looking kitten covered in long shaggy red fur.

The site is ridiculously awesome. There are craft challenges going on all the time where you compete against other site members for, what else, crafty supplies and paraphernalia (like the currently ongoing felted inanimate object challenge, clothing from your favorite time period challenge, or stenciled tattoo art challenge, among many others). But that is not the main draw of the site by a long shot.

Many people feel that hobbies like knitting, sewing, embroidery, and glass working are all boring, stale, outdated or for old people, but it's simply not the case. is an encouraging community for the artist in all of us.

So pick up some popsicle sticks and don't you dare use them to to merely build a birdhouse roof (not that I'm censoring you, but wouldn't a bird-mansion be a far more rewarding project constructed entirely out of hand stained popsicle sticks including columns, windows, doorways, and maybe even a stairwell or chimney be far cooler and more rewarding? like a southern palatial manner only for birds? come to think of it, I do have some popsicle sticks upstairs...) and join in on the fun. You can even check out my post with no replies in the Halloween section, which clearly happened because people were intimidated by its total awesomeness.

Varb For Me

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Review: Shear Genius

I'll get it right out of the way: this show is incredible. It is filled with some of the most ridiculous characters to ever appear on reality TV, including one entertaining fellow who goes by the name Dr. Boogie (I'm not kidding). My favorite contestant, Paul-Jean (aka pretencious may or may not be from the south of France judging by the accuracy of his English grammar but was so damn cocky, confident, and charming you couldn't help but fall in love with him (oh, did I mention he was a foreign person on a Bravo Reality show? That never works out too well)) was already kicked off for subjecting a poor girl to this monstrosity, but what do you expect when the contestants are literally told to go shop in Michaels Arts and Crafts store and make hair art? It's just a shame that they did not cast a weavologist this season, but maybe Saphyrii (from Flavor of Love 2 and Charm School) or Top Model's Kathleen (of the fierce piece) can be on next season. That would be good TV.

Basically, it's a very effective blend of Project Runway (with weekly, I kid you not, Hair Shows, and the finale being an extravagant hair show battle the likes of which I haven't seen since Mo'Nique's Hair Show (sadly, I cannot find a video clip online, but if you flip to BET often enough you might catch it (might, as in you will) between airings of Soul Food)) and Top Chef (every week a Short Cut (nice pun, lots of nice puns on this show) challenge will determine order selection for models and pecking rank among the designers). The best part: Jaclyn Smith, of Charlie's Angels and her own line of clothing a K-Mart fame, is inexplicably the host. And she looks simultaneously incredible and awful, thanks to some alleged plastic surgery.

The best part: this guy on the left thinks he's Sweeney Todd
. I just wish I could find a photo of him on elimination day.

Varb For Me

Not a Review: Got a New Gig

I have to recommend the site if you are trying to get some paying freelance writing work. After you sign up, you can put in bids (as in, how much you want to be paid) for various jobs from writing to editing to computer programming to voice overs and more, post your resume, and see if anyone bites. I don't want to go into too much detail, but I'm now going to be writing 25 articles a week for a site based on a list of provided keywords for about 94 dollars a week. Not to bad for some short articles. Check it out if you want some writing work. You could do far worse.

Varb For Me

Friday, April 13, 2007

Review: 1985 Cell Phone Makeover Game

I feel like I've been neglecting my duties to review things that don't feature live actors/bitches, and therefore found out about, so help me, a fun little diversion site that just launched.

The 1985 Cell Phone Makeover Game puts you in charge of Dusty, a hopelessly tacky, unfashionable Motorola phone - from 1985. This brick of a phone is given to you, the visitor, to style as you see fit.

With snarky comments and fast one liners, Dusty isn't going to just take his makeover lying down. You can customize the hair, eyes, mouth, hat, shirt, pants, accessories, and background of your own Dusty.

The fun really comes in when you finish customizing. When this site starts to build up, people will be able to view and review your own Dusty's, and you can do the same. You can also send it to a friend or yourself on your phone or post it on your own blog, like this:

Meet Rustyliglione

Ok, the music is absolutely annoying (maybe they'll add more tracks later on, but the mute button sure is a handy feature for this site) and the options, while good, are not as varied as they could be for a makeover game, but it's still a fun little diversion. These games are always good for a quick bit of fun, a time waster, really. You could do far worse than choose to makeover your own Dusty.

I mean, who doesn't want to clutter up their Myspace with more free junk that you customized yourself? I know I do.

The one thing I do wonder about is what this site is going to get for doing this. Is it a subsidiary project of Motorola? Another phone company mocking Motorola? An accessories dealer? Or are they just making money on advertising sales and per click ads? Probably somewhere in between the first three, and definitely the last.

This review comes courtesy of, where your integrity always has a price tag (just kidding (but not really)).

Varb For Me

Not a Review: Happy Friday the 13th Everyone

I love Friday the 13ths. I don't know how I will celebrate this wonderful, perfectly overcast way, but I know the worst thing I can do: fight my way through NYC to get to the Port Authority and go to scenic New Jersey for the weekend (woo?). I don't know why, but I am absolutely determined to watch some AWFUL horror films today, but don't want to spend the money to go see Disturbia or The Reaping, so it'll be off the Blockbuster for me (or on with less savory means of obtaining films, though I feel like an awful person everytime I stream readily available content in the US over the Internet).

Also, this weekend I will finally get to see the new Bravo Reality TV series: Shear Genius, and everything I've read indicated the title is appropriate. They had a challenge to make fancy dancy hair styles with crafting supplies, for Jebus' sake.

Think I'm joking? Look at them all here. These photos make Tyra Banks' hair look good, people. That ain't right.

Varb For Me

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Review: Larry King Live as Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel

I've mentioned my almost undying love for Sarah Silverman before, but there has been one sticking point that truly does upset me: she's dating Jimmy Kimmel, and she can easily do so much better. I'm sure it's his fart jokes and beer-buddy status that keeps them together (it ain't his looks), and it certainly isn't his attitude based off of this fiasco.

Someone behind Larry King Live thought it was a brilliant idea to have Jimmy Kimmel fill in one night, and the results are truly disgusting. This review focuses on how Jimmy Kimmel harassed Gawker editor Emily Gould. What follows is what I published as a news story through Associated Content on the incident. And they paid me. Go figure.

Jimmy Kimmel went on the attack against entertainment blogger Emily Gould, refusing to let her say more than one sentence at a time when he filled as host for Larry King Live on April 6.

The show seemed to be going in an innocent enough direction, discussing the extremes paparazzi will go to for their story, and bringing in guests representative of both sides of that debate. Then enter, via satellite feed, editor Emily Gould.

Immediately, one could sense that the mood of the program had changed. Jimmy Kimmel immediately went on the offensive against what is admitted by Gawker to be the most ridiculous feature of their site: the Gawker Stalker.

The Gawker Stalker allows anyone in New York City to report a celebrity sighting, sending in a message describing when and where they saw the celebrity, and how they were behaving. Apparently, a few months prior to the broadcast, Jimmy Kimmel was caught drunk, staggering out of a bar, and being belligerent towards fans trying to obtain an autograph, and Mr. Kimmel did not like the report.

Instead of focusing on the extremes the paparazzi go to for photographs, the five minute segment with Emily Gould was practically a bloodbath. For example, even after Emily Gould mentioned that the site normally took well over a day to post the celebrity sighting, more than enough time for that celebrity to have left, Jimmy Kimmel and his panel of experts insisted that she was lying and that the responses were posted immediately. They claimed that Emily Gould (who is not the founder or creative director of the site, just a paid editor) was looking forward to a lawsuit and was encouraging crazed fans to actually come in and attack celebrities. One expert went so far as to state that many celebrities are assaulted or even murdered each day and the media never mentions it. Kimmel went so far as to accuse Gould of profiting over the pain and suffering of celebrities through advertising, and would even claim that buying ads on a blog is "ridiculous". It is apparent, however, when visiting many popular blogs that Mr. Kimmel himself and his network constantly purchase such advertisements to promote his late night talk show.

Eventually, Jimmy Kimmel would mention his grievance about appearing on the Gawker Stalker, and claim that it was offensive to his family who visited the site. Instead of providing an objective debate on a very current and relevant subject, Jimmy Kimmel used his appearance on Larry King Live as an opportunity to advance his own personal vendetta against the blogosphere and damage the reputation of one well respected author.

While Kimmel may feel that he had the chance to get back at the big bad bloggers, his behavior on the show may have actually hurt his case. As Gould would state on the show, blogs are almost a form of citizen journalism, but like the weekly tabloids at the supermarket, you can't expect a one hundred percent accurate report. People have been given the opportunity and tools to realize that just because a person is on TV does not mean that they are a better human being.

In other words, I hate you Jimmy Kimmel. I hate everything that you and your privacy obsessed celebrity friends stand for. If you are going to make a career out of being in the public eye, then you need to understand that you are going to be in the public eye. The most disgusting thing about this incident, though, is how every other Blogger took this as an opportunity to attack Emily Gould for being a weak person. Which doesn't help. At all.

As Tyra Banks would say: Learn something from this:

And Emily Gould's reply. This is how you handle bullies.

Varb For Me

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Review: Bjork "Earth Intruders"

I love Bjork. Let's get that out of the way right now. I don't think she's every released a bad track, and is one of the most talented and prolific artists of the last twenty years. I also believe that she wrote the single greatest pop song of all time with "Pagan Poetry". There is no one out there who is quite like this crazy Icelandic songstress.

So, when I heard that Timbaland, aka producer who destroyed what respect I once had for Nelly Furtado with a truly shitacular album aka producer who created some of the best beats ever, was producing her album, I weeped. As in I literally started crying and questioning why Bjork had forsaken me. I mean, I defended her for the darkest day in Olympic Opening Ceremony history: her live, but misguided, performance of the wonderful song Oceania. I have never seen athletes that confused and scared before in my life.

But no worries: the track is fantastic. It is the closest Bjork will ever come to doing a hot dance track, and I see this being the dubbed in song of choice for Season 3 of So You Think You Can Dance for anyone performing modern/jazz to a song they can't get the rights to. It's pure Bjork, but peppier, but just as crazy as you love her.

This isn't the real video, but it's the clearest audio I can find of the song. So enjoy a fan made video of Earth Intruders created with the classic game Ice Climbers.

Varb For Me

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Review (woo!): Grindhouse

I promised you I'd be back, and here I am, reviewing the single most entertaining film I've seen in years.

Let me start with a simple fact: Grindhouse isn't exactly going to be walking away with any Academy Awards (though the argument could easily be made for make-up, and when the Weinsteins release Planet Terror and Death Proof as seperate full length feature films later this year, Death Proof could conceivably be a contender for original screenplay), but it is so much fun.

A common misconception is that Grindhouse is a sleazy horror film. That's simply not true. It's also a side splitting comedy with strong female empowerment motifs.

Let's just go in order:

Machete Trailor: thank goodness Robert Rodriguez is actually making this twisted revenge film, since Machete's trailor is one of the greatest ever made. A Mexican day laborer, nicknamed machete, is hired to execute a high power assasination, only he has been set up by enemies and almost loses his life. He swears revenge on all those who betrayed him. Wonderful way to start the film.

Planet Terror: sick, twisted, over the top zombie-esque fun (though the creatures aren't zombies). Rose McGowan is phenomenal as Cherry, a stripper who wants nothing more than to be a stand-up comedian, even though she isn't very funny. Cherry and other citizens of Texas band together in an effort to save their lives against flesh hungry humans covered in disusting boils and wounds that ooze green slime. As disgusting and horrific as it is, this is one of the most effective comedy films I have ever seen and perfectly captures that late 1970's early 1980's splatterfest vibe while updating it to relevancy in 2007. Kudos, Mr. Rodriguez. All is forgiven for The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3-D.

More Trailors (I believe this is the proper order):

Werewolf Women of the S.S.: If you know anything about Nazi-sploitation films, then you realize that Rob Zombie nailed the over the top cheese and sex factor of these films with his hillarious take on the sub genre. My favorite of the fake trailors.

Don't: Simon Pegg is a genius. Don't is a perfect spoof of the hard hitting advertising for 1970's British Gothic Horror films that wind up coming off as comedies rather than horror films. This would legitimately be a very disturbing horror film.

Thanksgiving: Eli Roth's slasher film trailor, and I wasn't that impressed. It was just as misogynistic as all his other work combined and seemed like a pointless slasher. Perfect score for nailing the 1980's horror film, poor score for taste (surprise!).

Death Proof: Holy shit is this a good fucking film. Slow and deliberate, the story follows two groups of young women who face the misfortune of going one on one with an amazing Kurt Russel as Stuntman Mike. Rose McGowan once again impresses here, but the film is stolen by stunt woman Zoe Bell playing herself on screen. An effortless performance that requires a whole lot more effort than you would imagine for one of the greatest stunt sequences ever.

The film is worth seeing before the Weinstein's hack it apart and put it back together as seperate features. The experience is more than worth the 3+ hour running time.

Varb For Me

Thursday, April 5, 2007

The Bitch is Back: An Actual coming soon

So after spending 10+ hours in the pouring rain yesterday whoring myself out to ABC's American Inventor, I now have a real product that I was point blank told to get the patent for and push to every possible retail marketplace I can. Apparently the idea is strong enough to sell, but not strong enough to put on national television. Whatevs.

That, of course, means The Bitch is Back! Holla! Big old shout out to the 7 people who have ever visited this site more than once! Woot!

I leave you with the greatest thing ever on Reality TV: hip-hop Natasha. What it do, shorty, indeed. Recognize. Now which one is the dude?

Varb For Me

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Not a Review: Where the hell have you been?

Wow, 9 days without a post. Apologies, of course.

Would you believe I was abducted by aliens who didn't have WiFi? No.

How about: remember me mentioning working High School: The Musical? Yeah, that's what happened. Whenever I go back to this particular theater group, I'm worked to the bone and treated worse than a slave working very very long days with little breaks and spending every last dime I have to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Since then, I have come down with a very bad case of Strep Throat, but cannot even receive medication for it because my university does not accept my family's health care plan (or so the receptionist claimed, since she didn't even bother checking and was a freshman at the school).

Speaking of school: I'm getting the hell out of NYU. I feel like this college is eating my soul. I started taking classes in fall 2004 and still haven't learned a single damn thing. My grades aren't as great as they should be because most of my professors decided that my major is the red-headed stepchild of NYU (it straddles between three different schools and that means we aren't actually people) so when it comes to curving the grades in the end, my major always winds being bumped down a letter grade (or three) to make room for more pure students. You would think that would mean the courses directly related to the major would be more accepting....Nope! Sine I'm not a tape recorder and refuse to parrot back word for word exactly what the professor or text book said and instead choose to show that I have actually learned the material by expressing the exact same thing in my own words, I wind up receiving lower grades than people who literaly sit there with the texst book on their laps during tests and copy answers directly from the books.

So, any suggestions for a great art school (interesting fact: I'm currently enrolled in a degree program for music and now wish to never formally study the subject again) with a program focusing on advertising or creative writing that I can fight my way into?

Varb For Me

Monday, March 12, 2007

Review: Jesus Camp (2006)

When I decided I was going to write a review of this film, I knew that it would be an uncomfortable challenge for me not to judge the people or views expressed in this film. I am going to focus on the actual film itself, but I most likely will have to dive into the content as well.

I also would like to express this now before I begin this review: while my blog is at times intentionally sarcastic and bitchy, it will not always have that tone. No one is a one dimensional person and while this Trent Sketch character may be dedicated to providing reviews of anything and everything the world of media has to offer, they will not all be written in the same tone, have the same style, and be seen as the same style of review. Sometimes, humor is the best way to express an idea, sometimes, anger, but always, it will depend on the context of the subject matter. A review of Norbit will not take the same approach as a review of a documentary about a significant political issue, and that is something that I will stand by with this blog until the day I stop writing in it. Nothing is as clear cut as always being an aggressive, insincere ass about other people's work, and truly - it is never my goal to come across that way. I know I cross the line (everyone does), but I really do want this to become a steady source of reviews that will entertain but also be a springboard for thought and discussion on media.

Disclaimer: unfortunately, Jesus Camp did not win any awards. It is, however, a very award-worthy film that has been recognized with glowing reviews and intelligent discussions that, for this kind of topic, is all the reward it needs. That is why it is being discussed on Award Winning Film day.

The Review:
Jesus Camp is the quite possibly the most talked about documentary of 2006. The documentary looks at the lives of three children, no older than 10 years old, attending famed Evangelical Christian Youth Minster Becky Fischer's week long religious sleep away camp. The goal: continue their service as soldier's of the Lord.

I believe this documentary is very suspect. It is my understanding that a documentary should ideally take an objective view of a non-fiction subject and craft it into a narrative of an idea (a political concept, historical event/figure, current events, religion, lives, competition - actual things that have happened/are happening/are believed to be happening/happened). However, this film subtly makes it strong biases known at the very start of the film. Instead of allowing viewers to come out with a conclusion based on their own understanding of the footage presented, directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady immediately cast judgement on the Evangelical Christians featured in the film, Becky Fischer in particular, by using a radio personality's rants on the destruction of our youth and America by Evangelical Christians as the intended voice of reason in the film. Sure, there is evidence presented to support this man's statements, but there is also evidence to go directly against it. The directors have attempted to portray the adults shown in this documentary as horrible human beings who brainwash their children into blindly believing extreme conservative political views under the mask of religion.

Do I agree with what anyone in this film is doing? Not entirely. My own belief (I'm a Catholic) is that people should be free to believe what they want to believe, but need to hold true to those beliefs and not compromise them. If you believe that the destruction of the environment is the most important issue in the world, don't just say that and do nothing: stand by it. How does this relate to the film? A lot.

I found this to be simply the most disturbing film I have ever viewed in my life, mostly because I have never experienced anything like this before. I have watched films filled with murder, rape, assault, harassment, violence, stalking, fights, blood, gore, sex, nudity, torture, and far worse: but those were concepts that I had been exposed to in some way (either in real life or, for most of it, through the news, television, radio, discussion, books). But I had no working knowledge of how Evangelical Christianity works, the belief structures, and the rabid dedication of its practitioners. Becky Fischer mentions that liberals are going to be shaken to their core by what they see in the footage, but I don't believe that is entirely accurate. Anyone who has not experienced this kind of passion towards religion will feel something from the footage. I've never experienced a child show such dedication to a cause that they start crying, and shaking, and calling out for what they believe in. It's disturbing because it's something that I had never seen before.

The documentary tries to make it seem like anyone who believes in this is wrong. Is a horrible human being. Is crazy. Is a danger to society. I'm not saying they are right, but I'm most certainly not going to say they are wrong either.

This type of power that comes with belief can be used for good (I believe Becky Fischer truly believes it is her duty to share her beliefs with young people, and all she is trying to do is awaken these beliefs in young people - even if her language tends to be extreme at times, and her choice of analogy ill-suited towards positive representation of her beliefs to non-Evangelicals: her heart is in the right place, and I can respect that), for manipulation (there were two other preachers featured in the film: one who taped shut the mouths of children to protest abortion and provide a medically inaccurate depiction of the development of the fetus in an effort to trick children into fighting his political fight, the other who talked about how Evangelicals are running America, and how great it is to wield that kind of power and control), or for self-advancing attacks (the radio announcer was using attacks against this type of Christian mindset to advance his own political and religious causes, not stand on his own beliefs but trample over someone else's for power).

As flawed and biased as the film is, it nonetheless makes a strong statement: something many films that follow traditional thoughts or practices fail to do in the slightest. If nothing else, you should try to watch Jesus Camp for the sake of exploring not just the subject matter at hand, or to see how this type of footage can be manipulated any way you like, but to question the nature of truth.

Varb For Me

Not a Review: I Declare a Theme Day

I, Trent Sketch, declare that today, Monday, March 12, 2007, shall officially be known as Award Winning Film day. You can expect reviews of many award winning films to appear today on this site, to help wash the taste of that gay shepherd movie out of my mouth.

Expect reviews of:
The Lives of Others
Children of Men
Pan's Labyrinth
Battle Royale
Jesus Camp

And more to come today.

That is all.

Varb For Me

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Review: Brokeback Mountain

I figure that, since I technically didn't post yesterday (oops), I might as well roll with the piss everyone off game and recreate my three reviews of the film Brokeback Mountain.

Let's go back, way back, to a simpler time, when I trusted in film critics and Hollywood Awards Hype to tell me what I should see and appreciate as groundbreaking independent cinema.

December 11, 2005:
I arrive at my favorite little chain movie house in NYC to an opening night screening of Brokeback Mountain. I hear it is one of the best films of the year, and quite possibly a film that will survive the ages as one of the truly great pieces of filmed art. I had read the novella before I even knew there would be a film adaptation and loved the tragic story and beautiful, sparse prose.

2 Hours and 14 Minutes Later:
That is the single worst film I have seen all year. My God, it makes Saw II look like Rosemary's Baby, and even I'll admit that the Saw franchise is mediocre at best (let's save that for another review...). It was 2 hours and 14 minutes of cloud porn, with an occasional beat down or gay sex scene. Anna Faris was incredible (of course she is, she is the single most underrated movie actress consistently working today: thanks Scary Movie franchise for simultaneously creating and destroying her career in one gloriously so-bad-it's-good farce), and that cloud porn sure was pretty, but NOTHING.HAPPENED. Nothing. Heath Ledger was strong, Jake Gylenhaal was just awful (just like in Donnie Darko - another review for another day), like I always knew he was. Michelle Williams was far better than the character she played and full well deserved the attention she received. But this was a film with more shots of clouds than plot, and truly, if it had been about a straight romance: it would have been critically panned for being an exercise in self-indulgent filmmaking.

2 Weeks Later:
Maybe I overreacted. It was opening night, I wasn't feeling my best, the theater was overcrowded, and I was tired. So, I'll go buy another ticket for Brokeback Mountain. Just in case, I'm bringing a magazine and sitting near the aisle.

2 Hours and 14 Minutes Later:
That was a great issue of ReadyMade Magazine: I have some great ideas for projects to do over break. Oh, the movie? God awful. That score is one of the most snore-inducing things I have ever heard, yet everyone talks about how brilliant it was. Jake Gylenhaal is a little better than I thought (on the scale of From Justin to Kelly acting, with Justin Guarini being the lowest and Anika Noni Rose being the highest, he falls into a firm Greg Siff - which for non-American Idol obsessists, is the equivalent of, say, David Arquette in Scream III: passable, not great, but good enough to barely create a realistic character and advance the story), while Heath Ledger is worse than I thought. The accent is great, as is the physical embodiment of the character - including not moving his jaw - but that's as far as it went. No real emotion (other than that great beat down scene at the fireworks I love so much: drunken rage rocks! woo!). Anna Faris and the rest of the female cast acted circles around the males, and that's fitting, considering they were in the only scenes that weren't just an excuse to shoot pornographic scenes of clouds slowly passing by a mountaintop. What the hell? Stop with the cloud porn! Does Ang Lee have a fetish or something, because this isn't his only film that likes to focus on clouds. I mean, Quentin Taratino has a thing for big ugly amazonian feet, but at least they aren't in every damn frame of his films. Jeez! Wake-up people: It's a bad movie.

Three Weeks Later:
Hmm...a whole lot of award recognition for Brokeback Mountain. Maybe I should give it one last go...

2 Hours and 14 Minutes Later:
Those poor clouds. Wait: did I really just spend 33 dollars in less than two months to rewatch a film that I absolutely hate in NYC? Fuck that. Brokeback Sucks.

March 5, 2006:
What do you mean this won for best score, adapted screenplay, and direction at the Oscars? Well, look on the bright side: how much worse could a Gustavo Santaololla score get?

November 10, 2006:
Gosh, Babel would have been such an amazing film if it wasn't for that awful score. So boring and repeti...oh, of's that same guy that did Brokeback. Suddenly I appreciate that score so much better: at least it had more than one chord repeated over and over. Shoot, this score makes Notes on a Scandal sound like Mozart.

February 25, 2007:
WTF? They gave him Best Score AGAIN? Screw this, I'm going to the opera.

So you see class: God really does hate me.

Please feel free to comment with all your hate messages. I've taken far worse flack for far greater films than Brokeback Mountain.

I'd link to a Brokeback Mountain video, but I'm afraid it would eat away the rest of my soul.

Varb For Me

Friday, March 9, 2007

Review: Bam's Unholy Union

All right, sorry for the late posting. Even though I have officially been on spring break for over 24 hours now, I have done more work in the past 24 hours than I have the past three years at my school. Thanks to my ridiculous over achieving ways in high school, my mother - who works in the school system - will forever be entangled in the going ons of my high school's drama club (former Thespian Society President here and star of every damn show ever while I was in school, as well as acting stage manager, costume designer, set builder, lobby displayer, graphic designer, programs, tickets, flyers, promotion, advertising, fundraising, choreographer, assistant director, lighting, sound, effects, and that was just the last show I did). This year, they are staging Disney's High School: The Musical, and right now I need to save the off-stage events from complete distruction. Go Wildcats! Woot.

Trent Sketch Safety Tip: Avoid the movie like the plague people. Run! Run! Run for your lives!

On with the reviews.

I hate Jackass. I hate Wildboys. I hate the new Celebrity Death Match. I hate the new Road Rules. And I hate Viva la Bam. Why? Because they are utterly stupid displays of ridiculous stunts that many people I know are dumb enough to repeat in person. There is no redeeming quality to any of this drivel.

So how can I hate that and inexplicably love Bam's Unholy Union? Simple: I love drama. The stupid stunts are balanced out with pure bitchiness from Bam's wife Missy and his entertaining mother April, and Bam actually gets stopped from doing the worst of his work. If he does go through with something that would make Jesus cry, Missy makes him pay for it any way she can. And best of all: unlike the other marriage reality shows on MTV (Newlyweds, Till Death Do Us Part, and that unwatchable Travis Barker/Hooker Wife show), Missy and Bam are very clearly in love. It's no reality sham for money, there is actual chemistry here that makes it seem like Bam may actually be a human being and not just a worthless meat puppet also-ran skateboarder.

Hopefully, for once (please?), MTV won't destroy every ounce of goodwill I have towards a show by running into the ground with way too many seasons that try to recreate what was enjoyable about the first (cough Real World cough).

Varb For Me

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Review: The Notorious Bettie Page (2006)

I was not entirely sure what I would think of this film when I watched it today. It's been on my to see list since I read rave reviews of Gretchen Mol's titular performance, but I also read that the film wasn't nearly as good as her performance.

After watching it, I believe I might need to revisit the Sketchy's, because this is certainly one of the best made films of 2006. The film is a biopic of former pin-up queen Betty Page, focusing on her photographic and film work as a gateway into her actual personality and beliefs.

The technical film making is spot on: the various qualities of black and white/color film stock capture the actual passing of time in the film in a realistic way, while adding a visual interest many biopics neglect in favor of superficial analysis. The most interesting visual trick is showing the actual covers of magazines Bettie appeared on with Gretchen Mol posing as if the shoot were happening live. The direction is spot on and I am eager to see more work from Mary Harron (of American Psycho and I Shot Andy Warhol Fame). If she keeps choosing smart projects like these, she will certainly become a force to be reckoned with in film.

The performances are terrific, especially Gretchen Mol as Bettie and Lili Taylor as Paula Klaw - a photographer who shot most of Bettie's work. Mol captures the purity and innocence of Bettie with great ease, while Taylor pulls off a funny - yet caring - money loving business woman to perfection.

The film is great, but be forewarned: there is a whole lot of nudity and bondage in the film - tastefully executed, but there none the less. If this makes you uncomfortable, I probably wouldn't recommend seeing it. But for those that can handle the content, The Notorious Bettie Page is a surprisingly uplifting, inspiring tale of a woman who wanted to live her life the best way she knew how, no matter what.

Varb For Me

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Review: Norbit

So even though I'm not feeling much better, I realized that if I didn't start posting in this blog again, it would end up dying. And dying isn't fun. Believe me, I've had way too many failed projects that weren't nearly this much fun or rewarding (woot! 3.70 via Google, only 96.30 more and I can collect!).

I am not very proud but certainly pleased to say that I did not pay a dime to see Norbit, and neither did my darling mother. A family friend apparently buys every bootleg available, and I will be working my way through a classy stack over spring break (2007: NJ Suburbs, now where'd I put my swimmin' trunks?) including Stomp the Yard, The Hitcher (remake), and Black Christmas (remake). I might even build up enough nerve to finally watch Dreamgirls (might, Beyonce scares me, yo).

So, let's start with the positive. The make-up is incredible. The only character that looks anything like Eddie Murphy in the film is Norbit, and that still looks quite different considering the impressive under bite, scrunch to the face, and head protecting fro (it's in the film, I'm not making this up). Mr. Wong - an elderly racist Chinese man (not making this up, yo) - looks convincing elderly and bald, while Rasputia looks realistically obese and bitch-faced. I'm just waiting for when, ironically, the film that lost Eddie Murphy his Oscar is nominated for one (best make-up, more of a lock that Click was).

Now that we have that out of the way: acting sucks, characters suck, pacing sucks, continuity sucks, lighting sucks (and it wasn't just the bootleg DVD recording that looks like a five year old with developmental problems made), sets sucked, costumes were ok, direction sucked, music sucked, sound editing sucked. Surprisingly, the screenplay was rather complex for the series of fart/racist jokes it held (my personal favorite running gag: Mr. Wong saying Rasputia was a big ugly gorilla - not joking, people, I'd say watch for yourself but I will not be responsible for people poking out their own eyes or busting their eardrums to stop the madness). If a more adept director had handled the film with a cast that wasn't just Eddie Murphy/phoning it in, this could have been a heartfelt little comedy. Thankfully, I will never have to worry about that ever again.

Suddenly, I have a headache again.

Trent Sketch safety tip: don't watch this film. It's bad for your health.

Varb For Me

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

New content tomorrow

Sorry or lack of update. I only left my apartment for an exam and have been sleeping since. I'll try to get new stuff up tomorrow.

Varb For Me

Monday, March 5, 2007

No Reviews Today

I'm sick. Like, can't get out of bed for fear that I won't make it back to the bed sick. Not even a free ticket to go see Black Snake Moan from a friend was enough to get me out.

Vlog of the week canceled. I'll make it up with the next one. Tons more typed reviews tomorrow for things that would have appeared in that one.


Varb For Me

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Review...Tomorrow: Norbit

Sorry about not being as creative as usual this weekend. I was visiting my family for the weekend and just couldn't get them to leave me alone enough for me to dedicate hours upon hours to sitting on my ass and coming up with witticisms to the soundtrack of Diet Coke, Pop Tarts (mmmm....frozen pop tarts - damn you Idol!, story for another day), and my roommates talking shit about me without realizing I'm in my bedroom - classy.

Anyway, I haven't even had the time to set up my laptop in the basement this entire weekend, so I don't have access to all of my media and everything, meaning the weekly Vlog will be coming tomorrow, and oh what a treat it will be.

For starters, I will actually talk this time. I hope it doesn't drive anyone to suicide.

Second, I will be tackling my most anticipated tear it apart film of the year thus far: Norbit.

Finally, there will be surprises, possibly based around the world of Top Model. And original music. And my face that possesses a beauty America may not understand, but the world of high fashion would love.

Dear Tyra:
Thank you for providing an accurate phrase to describe someone that is not entirely handsome, pretty, ugly, fugly, or hideous, but falls somewhere in between - kind of like a nice Picasso; if nothing else, you have given me this gift.

This is going to be fun. Now where'd I put my combat boots and fake Frat's time for me to go steppin'!

Varb For Me

Review: Reno 911: Miami

Thanks to some connections I have, I was able to get a free pass to the CMJ music festival last Fall and it was one of the best experiences of my life. This is where I was able to learn about Bodog Music (you really can't go wrong with their roster, plus Bif Naked works with them, and she is awesome) and see a screening of Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (I'll add a review of that eventually, here's a preview: easily one of the best films of 2006 and incredibly moving).

One of the unannounced events I wound up attending was a midnight screening of Reno 911: Miami and I wound up being kind of underwhelmed. It just felt awkward: the editing was strange, there were some really unfunny bits, and some dialogue was just lost due to quality.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I took my brother to the movies today and saw this again. The film, based on the hit show, has the Reno 911 Sheriff Department invited to Miami for a police convention, only to be denied entrance, which turns out to be a blessing when the Reno 911 officers are the only police who can still work in the city. All of the regulars are there plus some of the best of the other featured actors (including Dave Holmes, aka former MTV VJ and host of Say Whay? Karaoke who famously lost Wanna Be a VJ to Jesse Camp).

The film is a thousand times better than when I saw it. It has been mercifully edited down by at least 15 minutes, entire scenes appear to have been re-shot, dialogue was dubbed over, and many unnecessary scenes were replaced with comedy gold. If you've seen the show, you know what you're getting into.

For those who haven't: there will be a whole series of vignettes with different combinations of officers in a Cops styled show travelling around Miami in various hilarious situations.

All I can say is this film should not disappoint the fans, now that it has been edited to actually be a film.

Varb For Me

Review: Mark Twang

Ok, I am not going to sugar coat this. I cried a lot on Thursday night because of American Idol. Quite possibly, as far as I'm concerned, the only actual musician who ever made the semifinals (a few had come close before, but were cut just short of making it) Leslie Hunt was sent home. Considering the love-hate thing I had (past tense, people) going on with my on again/off again reality TV viewing relationship with American Idol (we had been on rocky grounds since that whole Frenchie Davis bs - people, she told them about the photos, they knew they existed, they just did not want her on the show, and frankly - she's better off), Leslie was the one thing that kept me tied to this season at all. My back-up contestant, AJ, was also sent home, and he was the only guy that was even close to being record contract ready on the show.

So where does that leave us? I'm seriously (for true this time) not watching Idol for the rest of the season. I will most definitely never audition again for the show (not that Nigel would ever let me get TV time, 0 in 2 there, heh). And, I probably won't tune in ever again, depending on how poorly they treat the contestants this season. However, if they do get the songwriting contest together (recap: AI is allegedly holding a contest for an undiscovered songwriter to write the winner's first single, but they are still hammering out the kinks six months after the announcement) I will enter that, because I know I can write a pretty kick-ass song about unicorns, puppies, rainbows, and reaching for the stars.

And what does all of this have to do with this review? Mark Twang is Leslie Hunt's band, and they kick major ass. Check out the Myspace to hear what I'm judging them on. Every song is a great mix of folk and jazz, the perfect showcase for Leslie's bluesy alto. I'm personally a fan of the song 4 Blond Bitches, but that might just because the band named a song 4 Blond Bitches. The music is awesome, and I'm hoping Leslie can use the one possible advantage of AI - TV Time - to get a nice distribution deal for Mark Twang so they can start touring nation wide. I know I want to see them live, where I will wear my "America Don't Care for Jazz" t-shirt and smile the whole time like a total goofball - not that I've ever done that before (shut-up, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, you don't even know who I am, how dare you judge me for smiling like a total goofball and being the most awkwardly white person in the world trying to groove to your music last spring, not cool Karen O, not cool - still love you, though).

What do you mean you found my AI concert tickets, board game, DVD, video game, other video game, that other video game, and home made Idol merchandise in the trash can outside my house?

No comment.

Check out Leslie:

Bitch is out of her damn mind, and I lover her for it.

Call me!

Varb For Me

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Review: Chiller, New Horror Network

I wanted to make sure I really sampled this new satellite station before reviewing it, and I've come to the appropriate conclusion:

This is my new favorite channel on TV (until there's the ANTM TV, then all bets are off). Any station that airs Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Night Gallery, Friday the 13th: The Series, Twin Peaks, Monster (it has it's moments, but not the greatest), and starting next week Freddy's Nightmares, plus plenty of horror films (including Abbot and Costello Meet the Mummy - the only of those films I have not seen before).

It's not perfect, but it's as close to perfect as any network launch I've ever seen. The commercials are either for Chiller itself or a few smaller ads that don't bug too much. There is editing to account for 30/60 minute formats of the modern age (most apparent in Hitchcock, but those were 27 + minute episodes aired when there was just the intro and closer commercials, so naturally there would be cuts).

All I'm waiting for is some original programming to hit the station. A reality show would be great (Brain Blast!: The Blair Witch Project meets The Amazing Race: Teams of three race around scary locations all over the world to complete challenges, one team killed off (not really, but that would be the gimick, like on Monster House with the gallows) each challenge; I should send a letter, that's brilliant).

This is run by the same company that made Sci-Fi, and so far it seems to have improved tenfold over the Sci-Fi launch. Hopefully they won't start making awful awful movies every week (actually, awful horror films are far more enjoyable than awful Sci-Fi, so write away, Chiller).

Varb For Me

Friday, March 2, 2007

Review: Gremlins (1984)

I was a little surprised to realize while rummaging through the $10 bins at a local CD store that I had never seen the film Gremlins. Yet I have had a lifelong obsession with Gizmo. So, I figured when I couldn't sleep today, I'd pop this into my laptop and have some fun. I mean, with a character that cute, it can't be that scary, right?

Wrong. This is one of the most warped, disturbing, twisted, subversive horror films I have ever seen. I don't know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't this. And that's a good thing.

I turned the film off maybe five minutes ago now and I am still filled with a strong feeling of complete and utter dread. Those gremlins were horrifying, especially that nasty Stripe. But they were also hilarious. But scary. But funny. But cute. But ugly.

The acting isn't spectacular, but it is very realistic. I will say the only way I can describe lead actor Zach Galligan in this film is milk. He was so wholesome and filled with teeth, you couldn't help but just want to invite him in for some hot cocoa and fresh baked cookies.

One thing that actually shocks me about this film: How did it not get nominated for Best Effects, Visual Effects at the Oscars? Never in my life have I been more impressed with the effects in a film as with Gremlins. Never. Am I really supposed to believe that the Academy thought Ghost Busters and an Indiana Jones film had better effects? And what of the gloriously twisted, funny, and terrifying screenplay? I mean, Beverly Hills Cop and Splash were nominated that year, so it certainly wasn't for a lack of serious content.

But I'm just splitting hairs. This film is ridiculous and incredible in every way possible, chilling and hilarious like so many films fail at with even more effort put into achieving that effect, and that voice over ending is quite possibly the most disturbing thing I have ever heard in a film. Chris Columbus is one sick fuck.

Take a look for yourself:

Varb For Me

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Review: The Sarah Silverman Program

Sorry for such a late update today, I genuinely haven't been feeling well (I blame Sandra Lee, that was the one variable in my regular life) so I've been sleeping almost all day. I guess I'll have to wait till tomorrow to review the movie Gremlins (how I never saw this I'm not sure) and Chiller (both the network AND the film).

So, I have my new must-see viewing show, and it's not even a reality show or animated.

The Sarah Silverman Program isn't just for fans of Sarah Silverman. As much as I like her material, the closest I've come to actually seeing her material is the film Jesus is Magic, and I was more a fan of her delivery than anything else. The late night sitcom format is a perfect showcase for her material, music, and acting ability. The casting of the show is great, and the writing is strong enough to stand out but still stays true to the sitcoms that came before it.

This isn't a show for everyone. Sarah Silverman takes a push-button topic, like AIDS, and keeps twisting and twisting it for humor until you just can't stop yourself from laughing.

I will say that I know plenty of people who have fallen in love with the show who also enjoyed Strangers With Candy. It's that style of humor, but feels more like a traditional sitcom.

While this wasn't on the show, I leave you with my all time favorite moment of Sarah Silverman appearances: The Aristocrats. Not safe for work. Not safe by a long shot.

Varb For Me

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Review: Apple Raisin Betty, a "Recipe" from Sandra Lee (actual review forthcoming)

I cannot believe that I have yet to mention the absolute bane of my TV cooking show addicted existence on this blog yet. Sandra Lee, of the Semi-Homemade Cooking show on Food Network. Why this harpy has a career I will never know (well, I'm pretty sure it had something to do with big dinnert, desert, and something to do with pixie stix), but she has provided me and my fellow shrikes with countless hours of entertainment at her loony expense. I mean, how am I supposed to respect a cook who does this for Christmas? TrentSketch Safety Tip: please do not watch this while drinking. Your computer doesn't enjoy being sprayed with a refreshing beverage. Also, make sure that beverage is not a "Cucktail" from SLop. The sad thing is, THAT is an example of LUCID Snandra Lee. You should hear her talk about that time she was "literally vertical" on a carnival ride. It's a hoot and a half.

Anyway, this woman is an abomination, a lush, and a complete and total waste of oxygen.

Later today, I will be posting a video of me assembling (she doesn't give recipes, she gives construction guidelines) one of the most vile ideas she had this past week (it's too early to see how it will stack against the Kwanzaa Cake and plenty of other culturally and aesthetically insulting entries in this series).

Apple Raisin Betty:
Butter flavored cooking spray
2 (21-ounce) cans apple pie filling (recommended: Comstock)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 packets instant oatmeal with raisins and spice, divided (recommended: Quaker Oats)
6 tablespoons butter, divided

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9 by 13-inch casserole dish with butter flavored cooking spray.

Spread the apple pie filling in the bottom of the casserole dish. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and 1 1/2 packets of oatmeal. Dot with half the butter. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Cover with foil and bake for about 1 hour. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

MMmhhh....hopefully I can still stand after making this. I may need to hit up my own cocktail time and when I start drinking THIS early, it's never pretty.

Until later, I leave you with this:

Well, she certainly is a tramp...

Well, that sucks. My computer malfunctioned, I lost all the video footage, and I do NOT have enough money or a strong enough stomach to do it all again.

Here are some highlight photos that show how crazy this nitwit can make me act. And for the first time ever, SandyLooWho actually made me sick with her cuisine. It was bound to happen folks.

Varb For Me

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Review: American Idol

Ok, this isn't going to be a big review.

I've been a contestant on Idol not once but twice. And I'm not saying that just because I showed up to the open call. I'm saying it because I legitimately have made it past the open call and much farther into the competition twice, only to be removed twice not by the judges but the producers. No, I didn't break any rules. I can't disclose the reasoning (darn contracts), but I will say that it was a disagreement over proceedings.

Anyway, this season, so far, is awful. The pimping of contestants has never been more obvious. Why 19 Entertainment somehow thinks that one trick ponies like Sundance Head can be legitimate superstars I'll never figure out.

There is only one beacon of hope in the contest, and that is Leslie Hunt. Unfortunately, her style - a lovely hybrid of folk and soul - does not bode well for her in the contest.

I will say that as of tonight, Paula Abdul has shown herself to be the most entertaining aspect of this dredge of a show now. When she's lucid, her criticism is fitting, appropriate, and shows the full breadth of knowledge that she possesses from her years in the industry; when she's not, her "spirit" "dances" with all the "colors" of the "rainbow". Straight up, it's always a touch down.

I do want this show to be a huge success, so more artists like Leslie Hunt (or my girl April Walsh) can use this show as a high point on their resume. Fortunately for performers, many casting directors a) do not know how big a joke this show actually is, and b) don't watch the show closely enough so people can blatantly lie about how well they did on the show even if they never so much as auditioned.

I'll leave you with my girl April Walsh rockin' out on Bjork. The fact that a girl with this kind of voice, personality, and taste did NOT make the semi's validates this post.

Varb For Me

Monday, February 26, 2007

Not a Review: So I Guess I Can Take This As No Hard Feelings?

In the past week, I have managed to write completely vicious reviews of the new music videos from Justin Timberlake - which I still strongly dislike - and Avril Lavigne - which, so help me, I kind of love right now.

So, there are three possibilities in play for this screen capture from my Myspace:

1) Justin Timberlake and Avril Lavigne have personally acknowledged that I was correct and will give out public apologizes live on American Idol tomorrow night.

2) JtotheT and The Mother [expletive deleted] Princess have a great sense of humor and impeccable taste, meaning they love my blog.

3) Those interns working the Myspace page need to look a little closer into who they let join as the friends of JT and AV. Seriously, letting a no class kinda guy like me into their friend circle only brings them down farther than their own lack of musical credibility does already.

So, I guess what this boils down to is: be like the cool kids. Friend me on Myspace.

Varb For Me

Review: The Academy Awards - Brief and Will Be Updated (Updated)

Wow. Ellen was great. Pan's Labyrinth was robbed. And I don't see how The Departed can win so much, and yet Infernal Affairs was almost entirely ignored by America when it was released.

So much for the great international Oscars, huh?

But at least all the winners go to walk on stage this year...

My favorite moment of the night was that everyone who spoke to Barbara Walters actually lied to her about what would happen on stage. No, Ellen DID dance, Jennifer DIDN'T thank Idol, Helen WASN'T surprised to win, and Eddie DID know that he would never win an Oscar. Heh.

Ellen was the best host they've had since Whoopi. Her style of family friendly humor took a little while for the audience to get used to - her jokes do take a few seconds to set in sometimes - but when they finally caught it, there were smiles all around. Bonus points for out shadow dancing the shadow dancers. Super bonus points for mocking the green initiative (aka self lovin' fest) of the Oscars with the recycled jokes bit.

I was so happy when Pan's Labyrinth was winning everything, and then it just stopped. Considering that, even with three Academy Awards in three very difficult to win categories, the film is sill under appreciated solely because it's a horror movie, it was a little hard to swallow that somehow it lost Best Score. I was expecting the Best Foreign Film loss, but not the one award I thought they had locked.

Speaking of locks - Hah! Eddie lost, like I knew he would. Thanks Norbit. Well, I actually do want to see Norbit. Eddie Murphy is the only actor who has consistently shown that full body make-up does not cover up for a lack of character. As ridiculous as, his movies can be, every part he plays is a fully developed character regardless of the pounds and pounds of make-up on his body. I've only seen one other performance do that in this style of film, and that was Adam Sandler in Click - he made me cry. But Eddie does it voluntarily in most of his films these days. He's a truly talented artist who will be validated one day in a significant artistic way. I knew because of the combination of character type and past losses that Alan Arkin was the true lock for Best Supporting Actor.

Also, best moment of the night is a tie. Animated Film was so damn cute, with the kids from Monster House being animated as pulling a Beyonce and not applauding for the winners. And Anika Noni Rose showed that she was the best thing to show up at the shoot for Dreamgirls by out singing every other person on stage that night. Grammys require good editing to win, Oscars require one good performance to win, Tonys require going out every night and killing it. Hmmm...I wonder which requires the most talent? See For Yourself.

Bonus Clip: Tonya Pinkins award winning performance in the show that got Anika her Tony, Caroline or Change.

Double bonus: Jennifer Holiday killing it as Effie. Jennifer Hudson was good, but Holiday made that show.
And she still looks good enough to have played the role in the film. Bonus points: her singing actually sounds like it belongs in a girl group of that time period.

And the worthless: the shadow dancers are replacing Tyra Banks in my nightmares; why shout out how international the awards are but undercut every single foreign nominee with either a shorter clip or a shortened speech; the montage of America as told by American films featuring numerous scenes filmed in other countries; it's a green night, we get it, now quit stroking yourselves for it, it's a responsibility, not an earth shattering achievement; montage for honorary Oscar winner was so ill-conceived it was funny - the excerpts of printed score didn't even match what was being played, Celine Dion singing was god awful (and I like Celine), and they mentioned that the man scored one of the most universally reviled films in history: The Exorcist II: The Heretic (which I also love); The Departed winning Best Picture when the far superior Infernal Affairs couldn't even win Foreign Language Film when it was nominated.

In conclusion, wasn't Helen Mirren's rack glorious last night?

Varb For Me

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Review: Robbie Williams Album Rudebox

It was a sad day when I found out that Robbie Williams was going into rehab, partly because people didn't quite take to his latest release. Robbie has been a huge influence on my development as a musician, and his album Rudebox shows just why that is.

Rudebox is not the easiest album to get into - not by a long shot. Everything seems to be based in electronic loops of unnatural sounding representations of real instruments. Robbie also seems to favor his almost-rap style evidenced in one of my favorite disturbing videos, Rock DJ. TrentSketch Safety Tip: This video is supposed to be funny. It's not smut, it's not vulgar, and it's certainly not an exploitation horror film. It is gory, so it's not for the faint of heart. Also, not safe for work.

But Robbie knows how to pull together super catchy songs that get stuck in your head for days. My favorite track on the album is easily the catchy, kind-of angry Viva Life on Mars. It's so kitschy and catchy and just plain enjoyable. It's also the most traditional sounding song on the entire album.

If there is a weak spot in the record, it is the longer, back-to-back decade songs (1980's and 1990's). They seem too similar and sort of mismatched to what comes before and after them.

Overall, it's a strong album, but not one that I would pay the suggested 18.95 price tag for. Save yourself the cash and download it on iTunes.

Get well soon Robbie.

Varb For Me

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Top 5 Music Videos You Have Never Seen (Released After 2000)

I am a huge fan of the music video. I long for those nights where I just can't sleep, so I curl up in front of my TV and watch music videos until the sun comes up. Because of this habit, I have seen music videos some people may not even think really exist. This list is by no means exhaustive, even with the stipulation of the videos being released after 2000. It's a good starting point for recent forgotten music videos.

Number 5: Hide and Seek by Imogen Heap
Even with her recent Grammy nominations, Imogen Heap is not a household name, and she probably never will be. The most recognition she received was through the use of her song Hide and Seek on the TV show The OC, but even then, people learned the song and not her name. The music video is equally as impressive as the rich tapestry of layered vocals she created for the song with her keyboard and a vocoder. Instead of the standard wide screen format, the camera is turned ninety degrees, meaning the video is seen in a tiny vertical sliver on the screen. The visuals are simple: Imogen in a plain room with simple costume, lighting, and effect changes with her just singing her song. It's beautiful in its simplicity, and a perfect match for this rich musical experience.

Number 4: Gimme by Jill Scott
If I had to pick one artist who truly came into their own since 2000 that will still be relevant twenty years from now, it would be Jill Scott. Her second album, 826+, was a double disc album, featuring one CD of a live concert and another CD of newly released tracks that somehow didn't make it onto Who is Jill Scott: Words and Sounds, Vol. 1. The one single used to promote the release was Gimme, a mid-tempo jam about the joys of being in a strong, sexually fueled relationship. In the video, Jill Scott plays Dr. Love, who brings joy and happiness to all the patients in her hospital with her trust nurses Hugs and Kisses. In the end, everyone feels so great and filled with love that they all dance together. This video is great for two reasons: 1) it shows just how talented Jill Scott is while allowing her to show that she doesn't take herself too seriously; 2) it adds an entire new level of context to the song. Any video that can realistically expand and improve upon the song by adding more complexity to it is a great music video.

Watch on Yahoo! Launch

Number 3: Natural Blues by Moby
This music video, more than any other, truly represents Moby's career. He is best known for his brilliant business sense, linking his songs to international ad campaigns with few people ever learning his name. This somber video shows Moby as an old man - a showcase of some of the best make-up since Michael Jackson's video Thriller - looking back on his achievements at the end of his life while wasting away in a nursing home. Eventually, Cristina Ricci appears as a dancing angel of mercy to end Moby's suffering and bring him new life. This video is so beautiful and so sad that I can't help but cry every time I see it. Leave it to Moby to create a brilliant statement on the fleeting nature of fame and everyone's inevitable end without anybody truly realizing what he is doing.

Number 2: Time and Time Again by Chronic Future
What? An anti-war video that doesn't blame the Bush administration for everyone's problems? Yes, Chronic Future's animated video for Time and Time Again is commentary on what can happen when people choose to fight in a war for reasons other than a true desire to defend their nation. Equally sad and infuriating, Chronic Future used simple, computer generated cut-out animation to make a statement that says far more in three and a half minutes than all the angry words a musician could ever say about war could ever achieve.

Number 1: Pagan Poetry by Bjork
This is a controversial video. It wasn't seen by many because it features brief glimpses of suggestive (and full) nudity. It wasn't aired by most because of the extremely disturbing physical content. The video to Bjork's greatest song - and my favorite song of all time (previously Gretchen am Spinnrade by Franz Schubert - has Bjork stitching strands of pearls into her skin with a needle. The sexual nature is suggested, not explicit, and the graphic content is artistic, not vulgar. This video may be hard to watch, but it is a perfect match to a deeply personal and passionate song. It easily belongs up on a wall in an art gallery as part of a digital display of film making.

Varb For Me

Special Feature: The 2006 Sketchy's for Achievement in Film

In honor of the Academy Awards tomorrow night, I will be hosting my official film awards show live, right now, on my blog.

Introducing The 2006 Sketchy's for Achievement in Film

This is no weak little awards ceremony with five nominees and endless categories. We dive right into the nitty gritty here with Gold, Silver, and Bronze awards in a few succinct categories that cover the full spectrum of films released on 2006. And yes, there will be spoilers.

Our first category is Best Performance in a Feature Film

Bronze - Ellen Page in Hard Candy: Ellen Page provides a tour-de-fore performance unmatched by anyone in her age range in the horribly underrated Hard Candy.

Silver - Doug Jones in Pan's Labyrinth: It's hard enough to act in a horror film and do a good job. Doug Jones gives not one but two of the strongest performances of the year in film in the dual roles of Pan and the Pale Man in the twisted masterpiece Pan's Labyrinth. Chilling work.

Gold - Jackie Earle Hayley in Little Children: Jackie Earle Hayley gives an iconic performance as a pedophile who wants nothing more than to please his mother in Little Children that will love on as one of the greats in cinematic history. Every single frame he's in oozes the pain, frustration, and dementia of this character. This is what acting is supposed to be.

Our next category is Scariest Scene in a Film

Bronze - Mama's Dead in Little Children
: When Jackie Earle Hayley's character becomes completely unhinged upon the death of his mother, you know all hell will break loose. I don't know what I was more afraid of: what he might do to someone else or what he might do to himself.

Silver - Pale Man in Pan's Labyrinth: This is the scariest sequence in a truly horrifying film. From the blood colored walls to the eyeballs in the hand and hanging skin, this scene will be appearing in my nightmares for years.

Gold - The Palace Gates in The Queen: I know what your thinking: Trent Sketch, how the hell is that scary? You know nothing happens to her because this film is based on recent history and the Queen is still alive. Yes, yes she is. But that doesn't remove the tension, apprehension, and fear that Helen Mirren displays in addressing the silent crowd that hates her more than the paparazzi that chased down Princess Diana. Sometimes, implied horror and hatred is scarier than all the psychopathic killers you can lock up in a mental hospital.

Our next category is Funniest Scene in a Film:

Bronze - Borat Opening: Welcome to Kazakhstan indeed.

Silver - Meeting the Prom King in Little Children
: This is the funniest sequence of the film, and the look of shock on those soccer mom's faces is priceless.

Gold - Meeting the New Prime Minister
: This scene embodies the humor of The Queen and the approach to the subject matter: mocking the customs, not the people. That is why the film was so successful.

Our next category is Best Artistic Achievement in Technical Filmmaking

Bronze (Tie) - The Visual Effects Team of Perfume: The Story of a Murderer: This film had the single most convincing scene of CGI I have ever seen in a film: a handkerchief floating in the wind. Breathtaking and worthy of a spot on a digital gallery wall.

Bronze (tie) - Costume Design by Chung Man Yee in The Curse of the Golden Flower
: Just Look At These Costumes. They look even better in motion.

Silver: Javier Navarrete's Scoring for Pan's Labyrinth - The single most haunting score of the year and probably one of the greatest ever composed for film.

Gold - Sound Department of Pan's Labyrinth: The most impressive aspect of this film is the sound design. It is pure perfection. Everything comes to life because you become surrounded in the fantasy world by the sound. Everything else just adds to it.

Our next category is Best Direction of a Film

Bronze - Guillermo del Toro for Pan's Labyrinth: His vision is so perfectly executed, his story so masterfully told, you have to give the man a lot of credit.

Silver - Stephen Frears for The Queen: This film could have easily been a total joke. Frears steers the film away from self parody and into an enjoyable drama that casts one of the most publicized deaths in history in an entirely new light.

Gold - Paul Greengrass for United 93: This is what direction should be. As World Trade Center showed, not just anybody can take on 9/11 and do it in a respectful and intelligent manner. Paul Greengrass is a filmmaker to watch for in the future.

Our final category is Best Achievement in Film

Bronze - Hard Candy

Silver - The Queen

Gold - Pan's Labyrinth

That's it for the 2006 Sketchy's for Achievement in Film

Varb For Me