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Che, Part Two-Reviewed

February 5, 2009

kevinby Kevin Egan • Operation Itch Contributing Writer   header 

 more  in HUMOR   read all posts by Kevin Egan
 

 

 

 

 

 

B

At the end of Che, Part One, viewers were left with quite a cliffhanger. After Castro (Demian Bichir) fell to his death in a field of vines and every enemy of Ernesto “Che” Guevara (Benecio Del Toro) had been eliminated through violent means, our protagonist had been dubbed heir to the thrown, while simultaneously shutting out his wife from his affairs. It was an unsettling moment as the door was closed so forcefully in her face. Still, we loved the Guevaras and desperately desired to see more of them. With Che, Part Two, director Steven Sodenbergh pulls no punches, giving us viewers the family epic we had been waiting for. Saturated with plot twists, celebrity cameos (Adam Sandler as Batista) and endings upon endings upon endings, this sequel supercedes the possibilities already established by other films, taking us into unexplored territories.

enecio Del Toro as Ernesto "Che" Guevara in the comedic romp, Che, Part Two.

enecio Del Toro as Ernesto "Che" Guevara in the comedic romp, Che, Part Two.

Part Two begins exactly where Part One left off, except this time around, Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) returns to the present time to warn Che about his troubling children and the havoc they are wreaking in the future. This catapults Che on another wacky adventure, outsmarting his old nemesis, Biff (Thomas F.Wilson), and rescuing his family from danger. Then, once Che believes he is clear of all hijinks, an apparition of his mentor, Ben (performed elegantly by the late Alec Guinness) appears, instructing him to go to the Degoba system, to study with an old Jedi master named “Yoda.” While Che follows this path outlined for him by his old friend, his children find themselves in trouble once more, except this time it comes in the form of a shark. Luckily for them, a desperate-for-any-kind-of-work Michael Caine (as himself) shows up to help them in their struggle.

Just like in Part One, Del Toro is again magnificent in the triple roles of Guevara, his wife and his ornery grandfather. And although the “fat suit” he wears through the second half of the film will most likely earn the make-up team an Oscar nomination, it is what Del Toro does with the suit that one finds most appealing. His ability to conjure up deep and funny voices for all three of the characters, as well as contort his face to provide the most comic expressions, is a skill unrivalled in the cinema today. Robert DeNiro himself could do no better.

Without giving too much away in regards to the ending, Che, Part Twoborrows from the classic comedy, Clue, offering multiple endings, each shown separately, depending on which theatre you attend. If you’re like me, you’ll see it more than once, hitting every theatre in town, for no other reason than to ensure you catch all the unbelievable ways in which Che’s fate hangs in the balance. This one’s a keeper!

4 out of 5 stars.  Bring the kids!!!

 

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Lefties Feel the Recession More than Most

January 26, 2009

kevinby Kevin Egan • Operation Itch Contributing Writer   header 

 more  in HUMOR   read all posts by Kevin Egan
 

Pitcher, "Lefty" Gomez in 1908. 

Pitcher, “Lefty” Gomez in 1908.

 

 

 

 

America's most famous "Lefty."

Ben Franklin: America’s most famous “Lefty.”

 

SAN DIEGO (AP)- After conducting a nationwide survey of numerous factions of Americans, The Center for Demographic Research released startling results today, concluding that left-handed people have been hit hardest by the current recession, more than any other category of Americans. 

“It seems that many left-handed people have been the first to be laid off at work,” said Nancy Frightenwood, spokesperson for The Center.  “In the blue collar world, most machines are built for right-handed people, which leaves the lefties at a disadvantage. And in the white collar world, it seems that simple things like office supplies can cause trouble for Lefties, slowing down their productivity and contribution to the company as a whole.” 

Many left-handed Americans, or “Lefties,” are grateful for the survey and the attention it has brought to their plight.  Massive demonstrations are currently being planned in multiple cities across the country, protesting the prejudice that has singled out lefties in these hard economic times.  In addition, Thursday, Jaunary 29th, is being dubbed, “National Left-handed Awareness Day,” to help shed some light on this troubling trend.         

Samuel Bluck, 53, of Indianapolis, Indiana, one of many left-handed people currently left unemployed by the recession, had recently been let go from his job at the Eddington Scissor Factory, causing “a double wham-y,” as Bluck described his situation, since not only had the machinery that built the scissors been designed for right-handed use, the scissors themselves were made exclusively for right-handed people as well.    

“There were times I found it almost impossible to test the scissors to see if they functioned correctly,” Bluck says.  “I knew when lay-offs were announced, I’d be the first to go.  I could see it in my foreman’s eye.”   

Gretta Dench, 41, of San Diego, California, also felt the pinch of the recession when she was relieved of her job with the banking firm of Addison and Flight, a job she had held for over twelve years.
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The Fifteenth Round, A Bucket of Tears and Losing a Home

January 16, 2009

kevinby Kevin Egan • Operation Itch Contributing Writer   header 

 more  in Arts & Culture      read all posts by Kevin Egan
 

I promised myself when Dennis asked me to contribute to Operation Itch that I wouldn’t write about politics, considering almost everything on the site is political in nature.  I also can not express myself politically as well as people like Dennis so I usually write about what I know best: music and film.  I do, however, plan to take this next week to let out my final gasps of frustration at what has happened over the last eight years.  I just want to get in a few more final jabs before the bell rings, ending the fifteen round.  I’m well aware that nothing I write will cause the knockout I wish it would.  Obviously, my opponents are too powerful to be punished for their sins but like Rocky Balboa in the original Rocky film, after he realizes he can’t beat Apollo Creed, I just want to know I went the distance and I did my best and got a good few shots in before the end of the fight.  Although, the truth be told, the damage done over the last eight years will be echoing throughout the world for years to come, much like the brain damage Rocky suffered after going the distance against Apollo.

 Okay.  That being said…

 I was a lone man, sunk in the middle of my couch, crying like a child.  President-elect Obama was on the television accepting the Democratic Party’s nomination for president.  Although, there were parts of his speech that were moving, I was not crying because I was touched by what he had said.  I was well aware that he was a politician, an expert on rhetoric, knowing just what buttons to push to tug at our hearts and minds.  It was an historic nomination but that was not what brought me to tears. 

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Shotgun Party: The Finest Trio This Side of The Rio Grande

January 7, 2009

kevinby Kevin Egan • Operation Itch Contributing Writer   header 

 more  in Arts & Culture      read all posts by Kevin Egan
 

“Shotgun Party is definitely in many ways a crossover band,” says Jenny Parrott, lead singer and songwriter for the Austin-based trio.  “Most of our music is written by me and I love soul, R & B, vintage jazz, country and Bjork.  Chris, the bass player, is a huge bebop & Beatles fan and Katy is a classically trained violinist whose life was changed by bluegrass.  We all add very different and hopefully complimentary things to our sound.  It is hard to put an accurate name on this type of sound but we often get away with ’swing,’ ‘pop’ or ‘country.’”

click for the Shotgun Party myspace page

click for the Shotgun Party myspace page

Regardless of what name you assign to their sound, their music definitely “swings.” 

Chris Chrepp’s upright bass and Jenny Parrott’s steady strumming on the guitar provide the perfect driving rhythm for Parrott’s playful melodies, Crepp’s and Katy Rose Cox’s impressively tight harmonies and Cox’s extraordinary fiddle playing.  The end result is a combination that can put a smile on the face of even the most miserable of curmudgeons.   

In fact, it was that combination that helped the band land a residency one of Austin’s most legendary venues, The Continental Club.  It was after a CD release party that went extremely well that the band began playing The Continental on a consistent basis, eventually landing them the prestigious spot at Happy Hour. 

 You’d be hard pressed to find a better staff than the one at the Continental Club,” says Parrott.  “They treat musicians very well there.  I don’t know many clubs where the owners book the shows, come out to see the bands play and spend time at their own club.  It seems very hands on.  And of course, the caliber of the music at that club is awesome.” 

 And although Cox is the only original Texan out of the three (Parrott hails from the Northeast and Crepps from San Diego), they are all equally immersed in and dedicated to Austin’s flourishing music scene.  They only have kind words to say about their fellow musicians, as well as their fellow citizens. 

 I enjoy the quality of musicianship here.” Crepps says.  “I also love the camaraderie amongst musicians.   There’s not a lot of animosity.  From my experiences there’s a general interest in what the other bands are doing.”

 Cox adds, “People here in Austin love to dance, eat good food, swim and laugh.  There is no place else like Austin.”

 

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Forgive Them, Movie-goers. For They Know Not What They Do

December 17, 2008

kevinKevin Egan • Operation Itch Contributor
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When my parents split up, back when I was a young child, my father promised he’d visit my brother, sister, and me every weekend.  To his credit, I barely remember a Saturday when he didn’t make the trip from New York City out to the suburbs of Long Island.  He was as regular as clock-work.  And remaining consistent with his consistency, almost every single one of those Saturdays we spent at the movies.  Some fathers may have chosen this outlet because it was the easiest way to keep children both happy and quiet.  My father, I know for a fact, took us because he loved the movies just as much as we did, if not more.      

I remember one of the first Saturdays he came to visit.  He picked my brother and me up from the local bowling alley, where we were doing what my mother loved best: bowling.  Before we left the alley, my father told us about a new movie that had just come out with a lot of robots in it.  He asked us if that was something we’d be interested in seeing.  I enthusiastically said, “Yes!” while my brother, never one for fantasy films, expressed his interest in seeing something with Walter Matthau.  My brother was eight at the time and his taste in films was obviously a lot different than mine and my father’s.  That film about robots that my father was talking about was Star Wars and looking back, I realize, by saying the film had “a lot of robots in it,” he was doing his best to sell the idea of the film to his children because he most likely wanted to see it as well.  I guess I know that because, as an adult, that’s exactly how I would present it.    

The coin toss to decide which film we were going to see that day took place over an open copy of The Daily News, in which advertisements for both films were visible.  I guess my father didn’t have a quarter on him because he ended up flipping a dime instead.  And which ever way my brother called it, heads or tails, it went the other way and I won.  We were going to see Star Wars.   
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The “Anti-anthem” • Yesterday and Today

December 10, 2008

n722515211_4828588_211611Kevin EganOperation Itch Contributor

Born down in a dead man’s town
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
You end up like a dog that’s been beat too much
Till you spend half your life just covering up

Not very colorful lyrics, are they?  Recognize them?  They’re the first verse of one of the most popular American anthems of the last thirty years.  They belong to a song that has been used by some of the most conservative institutions to incite feelings of nationalism and patriotism, particularly during the 1980’s, when a new brand of Republicanism ruled over our collective consciousness.  And as we were proudly proclaiming our superiority over the Soviet Union, unions in the United States were being broken up, the groundwork for market-deregulation was being laid, and tax breaks were given to the wealthiest of Americans, setting off an era of inequality that still exists today.  

 So, what was this song that so feverishly incited a nation to feel so wonderful about itself?  Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A..” 

lis518After the release of the album of the same name in 1984, Springsteen came to represent the mainstream for most rock ‘n’ roll fans.  It was an album that, on the surface, seemed to be a collection of the shiniest pop trash imaginable.  Silly, childish keyboard riffs like the main motif in “Dancing in the Dark” were found to be so laughable, it was difficult to view in Springsteen as the prolific songwriter he had been years before.  To many, he had become a popstar in the same league as Madonna and Cyndi Lauper.  Compared to the punk and heavy metal bands that were blossoming at the time, Bruce Springsteen seemed less threatening than Clay Aiken does today.   
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