Mendini by Cecilio Drum Kit


Mark: Welcome back Derek. It’s time for another Half-Baked Product Review.

Derek: Great! I’m ready to emerge from my mid-winter vitamin D cravings and tackle a new Chinfest. What are we reviewing today?

Mark: As you already know, I have long felt that there is a musical genius somewhere within me, just waiting to be released. I think that genius’s time has come, so I bought a Mendini by Cecilio five-piece drum set, and I need you to help me assemble it.

Derek: A drum set?! I love drums! When I turned 11, I asked my parents if I could have a drum set for my birthday. But they told me no, God hated the drums, and since I didn’t want my house destroyed or invaded by locusts, I never asked again—why risk the arbitrary wrath of an omnipotent being, I always say. So, you must be pretty brave or not mind locusts, I guess. Anyway, to this day, I often imagine that I’m playing the drums, though I’d never dare approach such a profane instrument in real life. Continue reading

Review: Alexander Payne’s Downsizing


Mark: Well Derek, it looks like we both survived another X-Mas without being killed by Santa. That means it’s time for another Half-Baked Review Chinfest. Today we’ll be reviewing the latest film by director Alexander Payne, Downsizing. With its sci-fi premise about people having themselves shrunk down to five inches tall, Downsizing is being called a departure for the maker of more character-driven dramas like Sideways and Nebraska. I consider myself a fan of Alexander Payne, and not just because he’s from Omaha. How about you, Derek?

Derek: Welcome back, Mark! I don’t know about you, but I always enjoy the X-mas season, with the gleam of holiday laser sights, the smell of gun oil, and the mortal terror of the hunt. And I’m a big fan of Alexander Payne—he made that movie about the Statue of Liberty getting an abortion, right? Now that’s science fiction! Continue reading

Harry’s Razors Review


Derek: Welcome back, Mark! The holiday season is hitting its stride, and that means one thing: our thoughts turn to the awful hair that grows unceasingly from the male face. It looks like the ol’ Chinfest is going literal this time as we review Harry’s Razors. Are you familiar with Harry’s, Mark?

Mark: Of course. Those are the guys that bought a German factory and had it shipped over brick-by-brick so they could employ American workers, right? Good to see the promise of renewed American manufacturing being fulfilled—nobody makes things that cut and slice quite like us Americans!

Derek: Something like that, I’m sure! Anyhoo, I thought it might be fun to test out some of their fine products and review them. We’ve reviewed one movie already, so it’s probably time to expand our horizons.

Mark: Or is it stuff that blows up good that Americans make best? Well, it’s stuff that kills efficiently, at any rate. And I can’t wait to try out Harry’s Truman Set, which includes an ergonomic handle, two blade cartridges, and Harry’s own shave gel. I got the handle in olive green—one of four available colors—because it seems like the sturdiest choice, and I plan to use my razor a lot. Also, I am interested in the allusion to Harry Truman, the only human in history to authorize the use of nuclear weapons, and he was also known to shave, I believe.

Product shot 2 processedDerek: For those not familiar with Harry’s, it’s one of the growing number of direct-to-consumer producers that have emerged in the last few years that offer everything from cosmetics to mattresses to clothing. Companies marketing basic products to men seem to be prominent, something that I suppose stems from the notion that men hate shopping in actual stores for things they don’t like to buy but have to. Like underwear. According to prevailing social norms, I need it, but I hate buying it. I certainly don’t like going somewhere just to purchase it, and honestly, I’d rather wear the same underwear for a decade or more. You can take the unpluralized “underwear” however you want—the point is, I don’t like to buy it.

Razors are probably the same way for a lot of men. I certainly don’t spend much time thinking about it. I last bought razors two years ago when I got an entire crate of Schick Hydro 5 blades for $6 at CostCo. I was down to the last cartridge, so I figured I either had to go to CostCo again or order something off the Internet. And since those were the only options I could think of, and going to CostCo is right below “owning parrots” on my list of things I really don’t want, I tried the Internet.

Mark: Speaking of the Internet, I’m looking at Harry’s website right now, and it looks like that factory is still in Germany. I’m a little disappointed, but if there’s anyone better than America at fashioning implements of death, it’s those crafty Germans. Or, as they say in ol’ Deutschland, the ausgekocht Germans! Even their language is designed to bludgeon one into submission.

What I’m really looking forward to here, though, is a close shave for a decent price, and I have to say that the price, at least, looks pretty good: $15 for the Truman Set with free shipping. I think we should get started on our test!

Park bench_processedDerek: I agree! As you know, Mark, I’m a stickler for an authentic and controlled testing environment. And I’m taking Harry’s woolly mammoth logo seriously—it implies that their product represents a manly, natural process for shaving with German steel, just like our Paleolithic forebears used. Since I don’t have a cave or animal-skin shelter handy, I’m using the next best thing for our trial: a bench in my backyard. I figure this is a pretty good approximation of the male shaving experience through history.

So I’ll be living here for the next five days, shaving every morning with my Truman model razor, my Harry’s shave gel, and my will to survive.

Oh, and before we proceed, just a production note: readers will be able to track our shaving progress with the handy photos we’ve provided. You’ve got a healthy face-full of hair, Mark, so I’ll be interested to see what Harry’s can do for you.

Mark: One of my favorite photos! Let’s go! Continue reading

Mini-Chinfest! “The Shape of Water”


From Guillermo del Toro, creator of sci-fi horror classics like Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy, and Pacific Rim and executive producer of Puss in Boots and player of Bullboy #2 in something called Bullfighter comes The Shape of Water. Set during the Cold War, it’s the story of a woman (Sally Hawkins) who, while working in a secret government laboratory/fortress, meets an aquatic creature (Doug Jones) that she falls in love with because it really likes eggs, and who doesn’t like eggs? It also stars Michael Shannon, who plays self-righteous, psychotic zealots better than anybody other than Roy Moore.*

And speaking of depraved sex, there are pretty heavy overtones of interspecies nookie here, or at least some interspecies hot-tubbing. Sounds like social commentary to me! Does this make it groundbreaking Oscar-bait? Probably not, unless you thought The Human Centipede was a sensitive treatment of polyamory, and if that’s the case, you should never watch another movie.

With all the water and probably other fluids in this movie, there are some dominant conceits to be on the lookout for. Metaphor alert: the title of the movie appears to be an allusion to water’s shape being defined by that which contains it. Unless it’s a gas or a solid, in which case there’s a lot more latitude. Can water be a plasma? Not sure the molecular bonds would hold together. Anyway, it probably means love is like water, and the fish-man lives in water, and the woman loves the fish-man, and the fish-man loves eggs.

The Shape of Water hits theaters today, and you should watch the trailer first. And you should probably watch Hellboy first, too, since Doug Jones plays a remarkably similar fish-man in that movie and its sequel, which you can skip. 

*Clarification: the Doug Jones named above is not the Doug Jones running against Roy Moore. Rather, it is the Doug Jones who often plays fish in movies. Roy Moore was invoked only to illustrate depravity and does not appear in The Shape of Water as far as we know.

Thor: Ragnarok Review

Half-baked Review Chinfest banner

Derek: So, here’s our very first Half-Baked Review Chinfest, which I am very excited about! This is a chance for us to bring our unique take on movies to the public. Personally, I think we took the prudent course by letting the Internet mature for twenty years or so before launching this column. No point in rushing, right Mark?

Mark: Right, we’re like a properly aged cheese. But hopefully better smelling.

Derek: Well, if we’re cheeses, then I call Emmentaler, which like me, is Swiss and smells of fresh-cut hay! And speaking of cheese, let’s jump right into the review of Thor: Ragnarok, the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s third foray into the world of Asgard and Midgard and a lot of planets and dimensions. Continue reading