Saturday, November 05, 2005

Special Edition Showdown: Office Space v. Big Lebowski, Part One

The past couple of weeks have given us two rereleases that are particularly meaningful to yours truly, the Achiever's Edition of The Big Lebowski and the Special Edition (With Flair!) of Office Space. The only caveat about the releases is that while the Achiever's Edition of Lebowski is in wide release, the Office Space box set is available only from Best Buy. Aside from that, these are two heavy hitters in late 90's cult cinema, and I'm quite excited to see remastered editions of both films. Now, the real test with these releases is not so much with the films themselves, but with what each release adds to the viewing experience in terms of on-disc bonus features and the quality of the goodies that the box sets offer for their price. I'll start with the first special release, The Big Lebowski.

The Big Lebowski: Achiever's Edition

This box is modeled after the bowling lanes where The Dude, Donnie, and Walter launch their balls right "into the semis." It's a substantial-feeling box with a glossy finish that opens up to a felt inlay that displays the DVD and a package of paper drink coasters featuring the characters of the film and their signature drink recipes. Behind the coasters is a somewhat underwhelming bowling ball chamois featuring the film's logo, and behind the DVD is a set of oversized post card stock pictures of scenes from the set of the film taken by Jeff Bridges. I can't help but feel that the producers of this set could have taken more care in offering higher-quality items, such as perhaps one ceramic coaster, as opposed to four paper ones, or picture-stock paper rather than picture postcards. Minor details you say? Not for a box that lists for $49.98. Why not a coaster that looks like the rug that was micturated upon in ol' Duder's apartment? Perhaps a little poster of Nixon bowling? How's about a special cocktail glass for enjoying those "caucasians?" This set just lacks creativity; especially in the light of a film whose creativity inspires so many as to hold cross-continental festivals in its honor.

Moving on to the DVD, this special edition does little to separate itself from the original release in terms of extras. The film has been digitally remastered, and looks and sounds superior to the original release; what with a 5.1 Dolby surround soundtrack available and an anamorphic widescreen display. So, the important thing is that fans now have a high quality version of the film in hand for now and eternity to celebrate at their (our) whimsy. This is where the good news ends. The potential of the bonus material that could have been released is simply so high that to only include the same featurette from the first DVD, along with typed production notes and still images from the set, is a "fucking travesty." The trailer for the movie is not even included, as it was on the original DVD. A whole feature on the Lebowski Fest that occurs in Louisville, KY would have been ripe for inclusion here, for example. This release is bereft of any sort of thought in regards to the features that fans of this film would enjoy. As Walter would say, "This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass!"

My conclusion, "the goddamn plane has crashed into the mountain!" Skip this box set, and pick up the special edition DVD on its own. You'll save $30.

Greymatter's Report Card: TBL Achievers Edition
SE DVD: Film - A
Features - F
Box Set: Design - C+
Content - C-

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Best Of C-U - Greymatter's Picks

The Buzzard released it's Best of Shampoo-Banana this week, and that seemed like more than enough reason to shake off the dust and wake up the echoes cheering my name. Err, perhaps the cheers are not quite as loud as I purport them to be, but they're at least a smattering of yelps.

Without Freddy, I mean, further ado...

Best Sandwhich: Potbelly Deli
Best Make Out Spot In Public: the front seat of my car
Best Place For A First Date: Courier Cafe
Best Fast Food: Labamba's
Best Bookstore: Borders
Best Asian Food: Miko
Best Mexican Food: Dos Reales (don't even waste your time elsewhere)
Best Stir Fry: My signif other makes the best I've had
Best Used Store: Rebecca's (for kitsch) Exile (for pop culture)
Best Vintage: Dandelion
Best BBQ: Hickory River Smokehouse
Best Diner: Sam's Cafe
Best Fine Dining: Great Impasta
Best Pet Store: Pet Smart (hey, I don't care about fish)
Best Jeans: My current fave pair are from the Gap, but whatevs
Best Pancakes: Sam's Cafe for hotcakes, Original HOP for the rest
Best Sunset: Mike n' Molly's beer garden
Best Place To Snore In Public: GKC Beverly
Best Fries: Esquire
Best Burger: Farren's (by a country mile)
Best Ice Cream: Jarling's
Best Ambiance: Ko Fusion
Best Park: West Side
Best Salad: Outback's Chop House Salad
Best Politician: Ha
Best Place To Take Your 'Rents: Courier Cafe
Best Chicken Wings: Tod and John's (only available Thur.)
Best Milkshake: Courier Cafe
Best Pizza: Papa Del's (best calzone goes to Bonnie Jean's)
Best T-shirts: Whatever's in my closet
Best Grocery Store: Meijer
Best Place To Watch The Sunrise: This Is A Dumb Question
Act To Watch At A Local Bar: The Beauty Shop
Best Concert Venue: The Highdive
Act At Assembly Hall: Blur (w/Graham Coxon)
Best Place To Buy A Car: Twin City of Savoy (all the rest suck)
Best Place To Buy Music: Exile (on Main St.)
Best Place To Get Apartment Stuff: Target
Best Campus Bar: Ugh... White Horse
Best Downtown Bar: Mike n' Molly's (easily)
Best Sports Bar: Rocks
Best Beer Selection: Mike n' Molly's
Best Bar Games: Esquire
Best Card Playing Bar (?): Bullshit Question
Best Chill Bar: Mike n' Molly's
Best Dance Bar: The Highdive
Best DJ Bar: Mike n' Molly's (DJ Hoff on Tuesday)
Best Bar Food: Esquire
Best Venue Bar: The Highdive/Cowboy Monkey
Best Jukebox: My iPod/iTunes Library
Best Drink Specials: Mike n' Molly's ($1 Old Style drafts)
Best Beer Garden: Hmm... Mike n' Molly's
Best After Hours Food: Labamba's
Best Coffee Shop: Kopi
Too Many Bullshit coffeehouse questions! Kopi's the best
Best Art Gallery: Verde
Best Video Store: Rentertainment
Best Hair Salon: The Hair Cuttery
Best Tobacco Store: Wherever the person I bum smokes off of shops
Best Head Shop: Smoke Shack
Best Tattoo: Altered Egos
Best Radio Station: 107.1 WPGU (til WRFU goes live)
Best Place To Bowl: GT's
Best Movie Theater: The Virgina
Best Local Website:

Headlights Sign To Polyvinyl Records

Hip-hip-hooray! Headlights have been signed to Polyvinyl, and their first EP, Enemies, has been rereleased by the label. So, I guess my digipack copy is now out-of-print. This also means we will eventually get a full length from these guys sometime next year. Woot!

Now if those Beauty Shop albums that I keep raving to everyone about would actually be available in stores. C'mon John! I've got legions of fans waiting with baited breath... and while a compilation album will likely have to do, it's a shame if both Crisis Helpline and Yr Money Or Yr Life don't get a proper rerelease.

JigGsaw are back from their first tour, and will be rocking the Courtyard tonight with the Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, who are a decent band. A little too polished for my taste, but not bad. The JigGsaw album is also pretty good, if a little inconsistent. Earlier versions of some of these songs, such as Holly Brown, packed a lot more bite than the more restrained versions of Zero Generation. They also uncerimoniously dumped their original bass player, DJ, for reasons unbeknownst to this scribe. Gossip, folks!

I'm crazy about the new My Morning Jacket album, Z, and the Danger Doom album by Danger Mouse and MF Doom is solid, as well. And, as a throwback, the remastered version of George Harrison's All Things Must Pass has had its fair of spins lately, albeit with me importing both discs into iTunes and resequencing the songs to their original running order.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Hey, So I've Been Busy...

Since I've been trying to stay financially afloat over the past few weeks by basically working every part time gig I can to make bills, it's been near impossible to maintain the steady flow of writing that I'd been accustomed to doing in the recent past. I just wanted to acknowledge to my readers that while I've not been around as much, I'm not gone for good. I've just been exhausted, and I'm not the wordsmith I like to be when I'm so tired. Time for coffee before work...

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