Periscope Depth

this night is winding down but time means nothing

This media blow has survived the allergy season.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: I caught a few minutes of the movie on TV while eating dinner. Man, did this age poorly. You’ve got wisecracking turtles whose jokes would make Huckleberry Hound roll his eyes. They manage to emote better, even with faces made of literal rubber, than most of their human co-stars. They pit their ninja skills against the Foot Clan, a multi-ethnic gang of high school dropouts and carjackers who live in a subterranean arcade / casino / dojo that’s marginally cleaner than the Good Times Emporium in Somerville, MA. I’m not sure about Shredder’s plan, as the skill sets for “effective martial artist” and “kid too dumb for New York public schools” don’t have a lot of overlap. Were the ninjas the slackers of shogun-era Japan? Did the petulant sons of noble landowners, when asked for the nth time when they’d get off their asses and start bringing home the koku, say, “well, maybe I’ll just become a ninja! d’you ever think of that? I’ve got a lot of projects going on right now.”

As much grief as I give this movie, the full-body Turtle suits hold up remarkably well. They look like they belong in the world they inhabit, as opposed to the glossy slickness of even the grittiest CGI. They’re flexible enough to allow for some mild acrobatics – no Jackie Chan, perhaps, but Leonardo throws a faster punch than David Hasselhoff ever did. And I’ll bet, even adjusting for inflation, it cost less to animate their facial expressions than it would to create a comparable motion-capture in a 2008 film. And yet we still suffer through phony CGI Hulks and Things and Ant-Men and what not.

Also: in one scene, the lieutenant of the Foot Clan actually orders a retreat by yelling “ninja vanish!” Respect.


We Are Scientists: I really, really liked their debut album because of its frenetic garage-punk energy. For whatever reason, they abandoned that sound for their sophomore effort – Brain Thrust Mastery, which sounds dirty if said in any other order – and I’m not sure I like it as much. They go for a bit more of a Killers motif, but with less of the pomp and fanfare. Don’t expect anything to get you out of your seat the way “Callbacks” or “It’s A Hit” or “Cash Cow” did. Still – not bad.


Battlestar Galactica: Man, did this last episode – “Sine Qua Non” – disappoint me. The writers could have excised the Romo Lampkin subplot entirely. Seriously: what function does he fulfill that the Quorum could not have managed themselves? On the other hand, certain scenes – like a long awaited dust-up between the two old men – went over very well in the Coldheart household. I’m not writing the season off yet on the strength of one uneven episode, but I hope the staff has some real kickers in store when we get back to the Cylon base ship.


To close us out, here’s Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal,” set to the Fred Astaire film that inspired it – 1953′s The Band Wagon. If you like either Jacko or Astaire, take seven and a half minutes and watch it:


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