The Three Greatest Spielberg Films
Dec 31st, 2009 by Pinback

Steven Spielberg has made a lot of movies. Some of them were mailed-in cash grabs, some of them were impressive pieces of moviemaking, and some were among the greatest movies of all time! Let’s take a look at the top 3:

#3 – Close Encounters of the Third Kind

A fantastical sci-fi romp, with all of the touchstones of a Spielberg movie (cute kids, astounding special effects, masterful action sequences, wry sense of humor) but with the added foundation of a note-perfect picture of a modern suburban family, and the effect of such astounding events on it. Dreyfuss has never been better than he is in this, and even little one-off, throwaway lines (“Toby, you are close to death!”) become something approaching unforgettable. Pretty much flawless.

#2 – Saving Private Ryan

If you take out the two battle sequences that start and end the movie, you’re left with one of the grittiest, best war movies that there is. But those two sequences, which must comprise at least 45 minutes of the movie’s total running time, are so indescribably great that I can’t even begin to describe them. Until Children of Men came out, I’d say these were the two best battle scenes I’d ever seen. As it is, they’re still 2 of the top 3. Which saves us the hassle of doing a Three Greatest Battle Scenes thread.

#1 – Jaws

Created and defined the term “summer blockbuster”, but none since has gotten close. Fun, exciting, hilarious, I could watch it a thousand times and never get bored. The first half is a trip, but once the three stars get on the Orca and begin the hunt, it becomes magical, becomes transcendent. Also includes Robert Shaw’s U.S.S. Indianapolis monologue, arguably one of the three greatest single scenes ever put to film.

Nobody who reads this will agree with me about any of this.

Inglourious Basterds Review + DIRECTOR FIGHT
Dec 30th, 2009 by Pinback

Inglourious Basterds begins in brilliant Tarantino style, with a long, drawn out, very quiet scene where the dialogue carries the show, the tension building throughout, until you can’t barely take it anymore, and it explodes in a blast of horrific violence. At this point, I’m giving it four (****) stars.

But then the movie does a weird thing, for a Tarantino movie: It does the same thing, over and over again. For two and a half hours.

Each individual scene, if it had started the movie, would be golden. Always, a scene of implied danger and paranoia, and always, the witty (largely subtitled) banter continues, and the danger piles up with every word, and the tension mounts and mounts, until WHAMMO!

But they’re not all the first scene. They all come in a row. And at some point, even though you’re enjoying the scene, you realize you’ve been watching people build tension through dialogue for nigh-on two hours now, and is anything ever really gonna happen?

It does, finally, in a great climactic scene, and overall, I have to say I was entertained and intrigued throughout, but damn, it just didn’t quitesnap for me, as a whole. I’d call this movie Tarantino’s “Benjamin Button” — As with Fincher, even when he missteps, it’s interesting. But yeah. Can’t… can’t give this one full marks quite yet.


Now, it’s time for DIRECTOR FIGHT.

Tarantino himself has said that Paul Thomas Anderson is his biggest filmmaking bud, and they sort of have an implied competition between them to outdo the other. Each now has made five films (I’m combining the Kill Bills, as God intended). Let’s see WHO IS WINNING:

Tarantino: Reservoir Dogs
Anderson: Hard Eight/Sydney

Hard Eight was great, a quiet first step into the director’s Hall of Fame for PTA. But Dogs was a bombastic, hilarious, super-cool, awesome launch into it, and I watched it a million times, and is an all-time classic.


Tarantino: Pulp Fiction
Anderson: Boogie Nights

Both came into their own with these sophomore efforts, and although Pulp Fiction got more cred for getting the Oscar nomination, both have become classics to the same extent. To pick one is to be unfair to the other.


Tarantino: Jackie Brown
Anderson: Magnolia

I liked Jackie Brown. You don’t hear much about Jackie Brown, though. Of course, you don’t hear much about Magnolia either, except for me constantly trying to explain to you that it’s the greatest movie ever made.


Tarantino: Kill Bill
Anderson: Punch-Drunk Love

Here’s where I have to try really hard to keep my personal bias from coming into the picture. I think PDL is an unbelievably, perfect, awesome movie. I think Kill Bill is less perfect, but also unbelievably awesome, and huge, and entertaining from the first frame to the last. So while I know if I could only get to see one of them for the rest of my life, I’d go PDL, I can tell which way the wind blows.


Tarantino: Inglourious Basterds
Anderson: There Will Be Blood

I was rooting for another neck-and-neck contest, but at about the 1 hour 45 mark of Basterds, I would have killed for Daniel Plainview to have rumbled onscreen and beat Hitler to death with a fucking bowling pin.



This is a fun battle, I do hope it continues for years and years.


It’s been pointed out to me that I forgot about Death Proof, which doesn’t totally count I think, in the same way the Kick the Can part of Twilight Zone The Movie doesn’t really count towards Spielberg’s score.

But okay, let’s be complete here:

Tarantino: Death Proof
Anderson: …

Alright, here we’ve got a decision to make. What else do we have from PTA’s ouevre to put up against Death Proof?

The natural choice would be A Prairie Home Companion, which technically is a Robert Altman film, but Altman was dying while he was making the fucking thing, so he brought in PTA, his protege, to man the director’s chair while he was busy kicking the goddamn bucket. So APHC is almost sorta half of a PTA movie, which would be fitting, since Death Proof was originally half of what you paid to see if you went to Grindhouse.

That seems fitting.

But no. Fuck it.

Tarantino: Death Proof

Jonsey thinks Death Proof is the worst movie of all time. Jonsey would likely say that the Mattress Man commercial is NOT the worst movie of all time, so on the Jonsey scale, this is an easy call. However, things are a little more complicated in Pinback Land. On the one hand, you have Kurt Russell skating through about fifteen different film styles, including one really boring one where those bitches sit around and talk about nothing for a half hour. On the other hand, you have Hoffman bouncing onto the fucking pavement.

I can’t decide.


Cancelling Xbox 360 Gold Membership Is A Fucking Horror Show
Dec 12th, 2009 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Three months ago my brother wanted to play some stupid baseball game with me over the Xbox 360. Well, I never got around to getting the game. I thought we could play Warlords instead. He didn’t buy Warlords because I didn’t get the baseball game. Somehow, in this debacle, I upgraded my 360 account to “Gold” membership.

In a desperate, greasy cash grab, Microsoft demands money from you in order to play video games over the Internet. It was fucking sickening when they started this shit, and it’s equally shitty now.

Three months later, all I’ve ever used the service for is playing Robotron against people. Even that’s a fucking mess: two players go at the same time, and when the first player dies off… the second player’s game is immediately over. I know. I know!

So, I don’t want them billing me any longer for this shit. They’ve stung me three times now, made $36 off me, which would have allowed me to purchase every 360 Live Arcade game I’ve ever wanted. I’m going to document the process of attempting to cancel my account, because it’s a hilarious clusterfuck.

One word before I get started, however: for the most part, I’m very neutral on Microsoft as a company. The two things they do, consistently, as a company that absolutely drives me insane is continually change their fucking GUIs and refuse to adopt a consistent, multi-platform GUI.

Continually changing their goddamn GUIs means that every tutorial is out of date a few months after its created. I was going to take a bunch of screenshots of the hell I’m going through with the cancellation, but what’s the point? Their terrible, terrible site will have a major upgrade sometime soon, and all the work in documenting how terrible the last version was would be pointless.

I don’t think managers at companies really understand how this is such an abortion for the consumer. Any form of internal in-application help doesn’t work. It just doesn’t. Most of the time the “help” option in a program just takes you to a website that isn’t maintained. No, the way normal people get support for your product is to type in search terms on the net and read blog or forum posts. You have to maintain some consistency. I can understand the first major revision – initially, you need to get stuff out there so it works. Fine, fine. Next, you want to make it look nice. Cool. But to constantly rework GUIs like every Microsoft product… what a mess!

Honestly, I want to like their stuff. But I think the following conversation ought to happen:

MSN Messenger Team Lead, June 2008: We’ve completely reworked the MSN Messenger interface. It looks great. We’re proud of it.
Some VP, Somewhere: Excellent. Well done.

MSN Messenger Team Lead, December 2008:  We’ve completely reworked the MSN Messenger interface. It looks great. We’re proud of it.
Some VP, Somewhere: Haha erm. Okay?

MSN Messenger Team Lead, February 2009:  We’ve completely reworked the MSN Messenger interface. It looks great. We’re proud of it.
Some VP, Somewhere: Okay, this is your third rev in a year. You obviously wasted our time with the previous two. Do you have plans for yet another GUI revision? Were you working on … how many of these are you working on at once? Don’t you understand that, with GUIs, there is an end game? You’re all fired.

And again, I’ve logged an embarrassing number of hours through MSN Messenger. Of the chat clients I’ve used, it’s by far the “best” one. But – for instance – if you attempt to maximize the version I’m using, it won’t fully maximize. The upper bound is a few pixels from the top of the screen, just enough for, say, a full-screen browser window that ought to be behind it, to have its close/minimize buttons at the top-right corner of my screen. I have probably closed a browser window instead of MSN Messenger due to this infuriating error a hundred times. Clearly, someone decided that MSN Messenger ought not to adhere to the min/max protocol of EVERY OTHER FUCKING APP ON THE PLANET, and that person and the people who approved this behavior ought to be shot.

(Unless it’s a bug, but Jesus Fuck, how are bugs like that still happening. Anyway, I don’t think it’s a bug.)

But refusing to adopt any sort of consistent UI is a Microsoft standard. Why does MSN Messenger look nothing like Windows XP or Vista? Why does the 360 dashboard look absolutely nothing like that of the Zune? Why does Internet Explorer have nothing in common with Media Player? Why does Office 2007 look like it was the result of some terribly-mismanaged Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri cultural artifact exchange? I mean, I know why: Microsoft is a giant corporation and the divisions making the various products have absolutely no contact with each other.  But it’s not acceptable.

With that, here’s what I had to do to cancel my Xbox Gold membership.

1) I went to and signed in with a hotmail account. I won’t get into how dumb it is that they bought hotmail, and that my e-mail account for accessing Xbox live is now something I use for absolutely nothing else. As if there were a legitimate reason in the world stopping me from using I guess the fine they got for bundling their garbage wasn’t big enough, they haven’t learned a thing.

2) After clicking on some screens that were unhelpful, I got to “Modify Your Billing or Personal Information.” Again, this website is unlike any other Microsoft site or product that I’ve ever used before.

3) This directed me to the Billing and Account Management Site at What the fuck does that have to do with anything? I consulted a couple other Google Searches to ensure that I didn’t want to be there.

4) I somehow got to this page, don’t ask me how, because I couldn’t reproduce the process:

It helpfully states, “If you purchased a pre-paid membership and you do not have a renewal set, you will drop from the Gold membership tier to the Silver membership tier when your Gold membership expires.” And I just have to shake my head, as if there’s any fucking option to not have it renew. Way to go, I just found the most useless sentence in Microsoft Product History.

5) Again, I have no idea how I got there, but I found out where my credit card was listed. I thought it best to just remove it as a valid form of payment. I am instead told that there’s an outstanding balance on the card. What the fuck does that mean? If there’s an outstanding balance…. charge the fucking card!

At this point, I’ve given up. I search Yahoo! Answers for two things – how to cancel this abomination through the phone, and how best to kill myself.

I then have to call up the 1-800-4myxbox number and talk to a person to cancel my account. They make a half-hearted offer to get me to convert to a yearly membership in exchange for the full cost of a yearly Gold membership (that will no doubt renew) and 800 Xbox points in blood money. 800 points, wooo, I could play Qix++ for seventeen fucking minutes and complete it. WHAT A DEAL.

So I dunno – they told me on the phone that they’ve actually charged me a couple weeks after they’ve turned on service, so I’m going to get charged again on December 15th for services previously used. This means that the biggest software company in the world can’t:

– Allow you to terminate services through a website

– Allow you to select a method of service that doesn’t automatically renew

– Instantly kill services and require a partial payment for previously rendered services

– Charge you at the time your service begins like every other fucking web product in the world

I mean, they can do these things, they simply don’t want to. And that’s what’s so goddamn infuriating. People are making a lot of money to have stupid, stupid, stupid decisions implemented, and for Christ’s sake, I wish them all dead.

The Stolen Green Chile Recipe
Dec 9th, 2009 by Ice Cream Jonsey

“Stolen!” — Mike Martin, The Mike Martin Travel Agency

We will look back upon these days, where I pirated the new Third Eye Blind album and cooked up green chiles, and we will weep. We will weep for two reasons, both of which I’ll bet you can surmise when taking into account that I’m a pussy when it comes to hot, new music and a pussy when it comes to hot, green food.

I’m posting this stolen recipe in the hopes that Benjamin “Pinback” Parrish will add to it, tell me what I did wrong, and basically help me improve my life to the point where I’ve got more going on at nights than spending it over an unwashed tin pot.


1 handful of medium-heat, Big Jim’s New Mexican hatch green chiles.
1 unraveled discount chicken thigh
1 quarter cup of flour, intentionally listed this way in the hopes that you’ll mess up and use a whole cup
A sufficient quantity of chicken broth
1 ounce of 240 Californium
1 Apple iPhone
1 bouillon cube
$100 in gold bullion


I don’t live in New Mexico right now because the county assessor took a look at the fact that my home had been ravaged by a 30 pound raccoon, homeless veteran and pair of thrown eggs and docked me – me! – a cooool thirty-thousand dollars. I don’t think I’ve made payments that total that, even before interest gets involved. Ergo, you’re going to have to get some Hatch green chiles. I… well, confession time, I don’t know why they’re called that. That, specifically, I mean. In other words, much like the new Battlestar Galactica, I have no idea what Hatch is fucking doing there.

We got ours in Parker, Colorado, although it was later confirmed that I have passed a Hatch dealer on my way to work every day for the past… well, I wasn’t working for all of it, so who knows. This could be that elusive third case for the Snooper Troops.

The Hatch Guy we had was a family man from New Mexico. His wife and young son were with him, and he told us what a standard grill will put out, in terms of BTUs. I thought he was talking about the chiles themselves, so when he said, “150,000 BTUs” I was like, “well, this is fine, then – I’ll have food, one atom at a time, for the rest of my life.” When he later expanded his narrative to let me know he was talking about his gas grills, it made more sense. He had three grills. Three grills with which to roast the chiles.

It only took a few minutes for the chiles to be ready. We had alloted a half hour. He told his kid to get an old garbage pail, and he guided the chiles into it. I was glad to see his son working and not just being a lazy layabout – kid was a new Mexican after all.

We gave the chiles an hour to cool. I left them in my car to make my car smell like roasted green chiles. I don’t have a lot of people in my car, and I have now eliminated any that don’t find green roasted chiles to be one of the finest of all scents. I will harpoon one and throw it around my rear window like an air freshener tomorrow.

The chicken thighs need to come from the Safeway Discount Chicken bin. Thaw them using the “Auto Defrost” command on your 120volt-Compatible Microwave.

Take the 240 Californium and knock it roughly against the kitchen table. This will begin the decomposition countdown. You need to get the chicken thighs to your outdoors gas grill before the Californium weighs one-half ounce. Any more time, and the chicken thighs will go totally off and smell bad and make you sick. Adjusting for the natural half-life of Californium 240, you have just over one minute. Happy hunting!

Set your Apple iPhone’s timer for seven (7) minutes.

Lastly, shuck the chiles. Hopefully, the skin will be burned and slide right off, but your mileage may vary. Additionally, leave all the seeds in, there’s no downside here.

– Throw the chicken broth in the pot. Heat to taste.
– Throw the chiles in the pot, with the chicken broth.
– Throw the bouillon cube in the pot. You’re mainly doing this to get rid of the bouillon cubes from your cupboard.
– When your phone’s timer goes off, relax… Turn the timer off and let the entire memory fade from your short-term memory… ahhhh…. ahhh yes….
– Mix in the quantity of flour you got for yourself. Don’t look or scroll up! Use your memory here, no cheating!
– If you used one-half cup of flour, turn to page 72.
– If you used one entire cup of flour, you have died in the desert! End of session.
– Stir the flour into the broth/cube/chile mixture. Add a little more heat to the stove! You deserve it.
– The mixture will start to bubble and get the fuck over everything, like the toaster, the sink and the George Foreman gr– oh shit!
– Run outside and retrieve the chicken thighs from the gas grill. Grit your teeth over the fact that half the chicken has stuck to the grill itself.
– Throw the chicken thighs into the mixture. Stir vigorously. Cover.

– Wait until you can’t bear it any longer, and throw it all into a secondary container. (It will otherwise stick to the pot, and you’ll need that pot to make more of this crap.)

– Taste! Regret the fact that you didn’t take enough seeds out. You’ll regret it more when you break your fast on it tomorrow, and then extra-more when it travels through your system. Don’t wuss out here, though. Leave the seeds in.

– Realize that you followed a recipe from Ice Cream Jonsey of all people, break off half the gold bullion and get yourself two large cheese pizzas from the local pizza guy. Tip well.

The Three Greatest Movie Performances Ever
Dec 6th, 2009 by Pinback

1. This was originally going to be a top five list, but I couldn’t think of two others that fit the criteria I will list in #2 below. Which is not to say there aren’t any, so if I think of them, I will add to this list. Hopefully you one or two people who still read this BBS can come up with your own nominees and I’ll add them where appropriate.

2. There have been hundreds, maybe millions of great performances in movies over the past thousand years, and this list is not to discount any of them. However, what I’m going for with this list is performances that electrified and defined a movie, performances that command full awe and attention for every second the actor is on film. Not just great acting, but something where you go such and such film was great, but I don’t remember much else about it except for (performer’s name). Pacino DeNiro was fantastic in Taxi Driver, but I remember the movie Taxi Driver more than his specific performance. Hopefully you’ll see what I mean as the list is listed:


The Dark Knight was a good, but not great, action/comic book movie.EXCEPT for the 24-some-odd minutes that Ledger was on the screen, because from the very first shot of his back, as he stares up at the bank, there is no way to take your eyes off him or otherwise not be completely enthralled in what he did up there. He seems like he’s in the movie a lot longer than he actually was, because who the hell cares about any of the rest of it. Added to the performance was just the fact that it was the JOKER, but so fantastically reimagined that all other Jokers kinda totally suck now, I think. And then he died. But damn. Way to go out, buddy.


He’s had a wonderful career playing largely moral, conflicted, good guys, but Jesus Christ, nobody who’s seen this movie could ever see him as anything but Alonzo ever again. I’m conflicted on how good a movie this actually is, because once again, I do not care. Every single inflection and movement and delivery he offers here is so perfect and adrenaline-infused that you don’t want anyone to hurt him because then he’ll stop saying and doing things and then there’s no reason to keep watching the movie. Holy Christ, I can’t believe how great this goddamn performance is, from the first frame to the last. King Kong truly ain’t got shit on him.


What else is there to say other than Charlize Theron broke acting with this. Since this came out, they are still having to come up with something else for actors to do because she already won at it. You probably haven’t seen this movie, though, because you only like movies about spaceships and teen roadtrips.

There ya go. Other performances I considered for this were the aforementioned Pacino, Cage in Leaving Las Vegas, Ellen Burstyn in Requiem for a Dream, and a couple others I can’t remember anymore.

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