Friday, January 30, 2009

These guys make the 1985 Chicago Bears look like the Wu-Tang Clan

Niles Leonard drops science. Jesse Franklin is a supa MC. Cecil Boseman gives you a nickel bag of funk. Ronnie Ashland busts mad rhymes. But it's Charlie Carson that truly rocks the bells.

Ain't no half-steppin' with these guys because they're just here to win the Super Broker Shuffle!

Credit due: wh1skeylover for bringing this to my attention. It's been floating around for a while, but I couldn't think of anything else to post today.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Toothless and broken

Picture it: London, March 2001. I check into a hostel that reeked of wet towels, only to discover that I had left certain necessary toiletries back in the States.

Undaunted, my friends and I go to the chemist and I check out its selection of combs, among other items. One immediately caught my eye: a small, tortoiseshell model, packaged with a similar black one. They was the right price (cheap!), so I bought them. For the rest of the trip they performed swimmingly.

I was so impressed with how the comb handled my dark chestnut tresses, that I made it my primary comb. Over the years it has served me well, but in the last few months the comb has steadily been losing its teeth. But it soldiered on, taking whatever I threw at it.

Unfortunately, this week it broke and lost most of its functionality. Is it any coincidence that this horrible event occurred the night before I had my first haircut since Thanksgiving (yes, I felt like a dirty hippie)? Rest in peace, old friend. I am forever grateful for your years of service.

Some may claim that British steel is the pride of that land's manufacturing industry. While that does indeed rawk, I contend that it is in fact comb production that should receive the accolades. The sun still hasn't set on that part of the Empire.

I have a vague idea of where I put the tortoiseshell comb's black partner, but I'm not completely certain it's there. Unfortunately, I fear that I'll have to resort to replacing it with an inferior, likely toxic comb produced in Red China. *sigh*

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Anyone up for lunch in Chandler, AZ?

Watch CBS Videos Online

I let out a Homer Simpsonesque drool when I watched this piece about the Heart Attack Grill (for several reasons).

Of course, with a restaurant of this nature, not everyone can take a joke. Surprisingly, it wasn't the health nazis that tried to put their foot down.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

No region can contain me

A few weeks ago I decided to spice things up in the bedroom and buy a cheapy DVD player. No, not for that. Who watches that on DVD anymore? It's all about the internet nowadays. Seriously, I just wanted to be able to watch an episode or two of "NewsRadio" before I turn in each night (it's comfort comedy), reading books be damned. Plus, it'd be nice to have on those sick days when I'm bedridden. But I digress.

I ended up getting this Philips player from Target. It turns out that by entering a simple code via the remote, it becomes region free and can play DVDs from across the globe. (Cue "A Whole New World.")

So where do I go from here? There are only a handful international titles that have ever piqued my interest: the UK's "Spaced" and Japan's Grindhouse set. But I already have the superior Region 1 version of the former and I don't really want to drop 100 large on the latter. Plus, a complete Grindhouse DVD is supposed to be released Stateside...sometime. But then again, I'm still waiting for the long-promised Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair.

I'm sure at some point I'll pick up a Pulp concert DVD. And maybe the Special Edition of the Fratellis' Here We Stand. But those are the only interesting things currently on my radar.

What else is out there? Any kick-butt special editions that we're neglected over here? Great movies and TV shows unavailable to us Yanks? Awesome concerts or video collections by cool bands that aren't quite mainstream in the US?

And what online vendors would you recommend a budget-conscious person shop at?

Note: I tried my damnedest to have the DVD display in the picture above read "80085," to no avail.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Happy Burns Night!

Happy Burns Night! To celebrate the poet's 250th birthday, I'll be finishing out series "Life on Mars" series two, cleaning my room, doing my weekly grocery shopping, and then settling in for my regular Sunday TV viewing (Fox animated shows, "Flight of the Conchords," "Secret Diary of a Call Girl," "Big Love").

Unfortunately, I don't have any scotch on hand, so I'll have to make do with a wee nip of Bernheim. I'm sure it goes just as well with shortbread.

Note: The guy who made the Mr. Burns picture used above has made some other really cool pictures.

Flight manifest

Tonight's new episode of "Flight of the Conchords": "The New Cup"

Bret and Jemaine's fortunes unravel after Bret buys a new tea cup. With emergency band funds unavailable, Jemaine takes desperate measures in hopes of supplementing their income.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Song to get you through the weekend: "Don't Look Back in Anger" by Oasis

Given my re-evaluation of Oasis, I've been listening to a lot of them this week. While I found (What's the Story) Morning Glory? to be just average, I think this is an excellent single.

Has this song been used in a movie before? If not, I'm surprised. Seems like it'd be the perfect tune to play as the young, attractive couple reconciles, closes in to kiss in the rain, and the credits fade in.

Make it happen, Hollywood.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Bonus Crush of the Week: Dana Perino

This week's Bonus Crush is former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino.

I always thought she was foxy. And as has been pointed out here before, foxiness knows no political ideology.

Crush of the Week: Annie Wersching

This week's Crush is actress Annie Wersching, who plays Jack Bauer's FBI sidekick Renee Walker (a.k.a. Agent Freckles) this season on "24."

Frankly, I find her freckles to be kind of a turn on. She can torture me any time (provided that we establish a "safe word").

Thursday, January 22, 2009

(Re)Evaluation: "(What's the Story) Morning Glory?" by Oasis

Oasis. Familiar to millions, yet I was never really a fan. Sure, the band's big singles were inescapable, but I never really had the desire to delve deeper into their catalog. I think that the reason for that was twofold: 1) they were (to me, at least) overexposed during the height of their US popularity, and 2) I found them to be a blatant Beatles rip-off - a charge which I'm sure they'd acknowledge, if not embrace.

Which is odd because I'm a huge fan of bands that could be described as "Beatlesesque," like XTC. And as silly as the mid-90s Oasis/Blur War was ("But is not Oasis the greatest British band since the Beatles? Can we not vote on this?!"), I'm also a consumer of Britpop. Heck, I consider Pulp's stellar one-two punch of Different Class and This Is Hardcore to be in the upper echelon of pop music. Their run is even more impressive when you booked end those albums with the lesser-but-still-rather-good His 'n' Hers and We Love Life.

So, as the years passed, the sole entertainment Oasis provided me came from Liam and Noel Gallagher's outrageous and hilarious quotes that popped up frequently in music magazines.

Recently on a message board that I'm a member of, there was a post about how people feel about (What's the Story) Morning Glory? 13 years later. Does it still hold up? Is it considered an essential 90s alternative album?

And that got me to thinking: why not give this band another shot?

So, here are my impressions upon first hearing the album in its entirety:

1. "Hello" Not bad. I see that Gary Glitter shares the songwriting credit on this one. What'd the Gallaghers steal? More than the beat?
2. "Roll With It" Now this is the Beatles cover band that I expected to hear. It's an okay rocker.
3. "Wonderwall" Ah, the big, ever present hit single. I never noticed that there's a string section in this song. What the heck is a "wonderwall" anyway?
4. "Don't Look Back in Anger" Of the Oasis songs that I'd been previously exposed to, this is my favorite. It's got a good melody with an anthemic, sing-along chorus. I can just picture myself at the pub with me mates, belting this out as it plays on the jukebox. Or telly or lorry or crisp or whatever the heck they call a jukebox across the pond.
5. "Hey Now!" Sort of a disappointing follow-up to "Don't Look Back in Anger." We're back in Blah Territory. Not bad, but not all that great, either.
6. "Untitled" (aka "The Swamp Song - Excerpt 1") Interesting, but it'll be excised from my iPod the next time I connect to iTunes.
7. "Some Might Say" I really like the chorus of this song. Oasis, you've won me back...for now.
8. "Cast No Shadow" Apparently, this was written for Richard Ashcroft. Meh. He can keep it.
9. "She's Electric" The best thing about this song is the shuffling (yes, Beatlesesque) beat. The melody doesn't really do much for me, though.
10. "Morning Glory" Pretty cool intro. I imagine that this song is pretty good live.
11. "Untitled" (aka "The Swamp Song - Excerpt 2") See my comment for track #6.
12. "Champagne Supernova" This is a fitting epic closer for the album. These boys sure do like their drugs, don't they?

In all, I find it to be just like many other albums that strike a chord with the general populace: a knock-out tune or two ("Don't Look Back in Anger"), a handful of strong songs ("Some Might Say," "Morning Glory," "Hello"), and the requisite filler (the untitled songs, "Hey Now!"). I hear from trusted sources that Oasis's debut Definitely Maybe is superior to this album and that some of the best songs from the Morning Glory sessions are, in fact, B-sides. I intend to seek those out next.

Personally, I think nostalgia is influencing those calling (What's the Story) Morning Glory? a classic. But I'll be the first one to admit to doing the same thing. After all, I think the Soup Dragons' Lovegod is required listening, simply because it was the soundtrack to my high school years. And also because it's totally awesome.

Note: Originally, I planned on (Re)Evaluation to just be dedicated to rewatching movies that I didn't like originally (and their sequels), but I believe that to be a way too limiting subject. So, from here on out, it's going to be a place for me to evaluate any media (popular phenom level or otherwise) - movies, books, movies, TV shows - that I either initially missed the boat on or disliked upon release.

30 rock tumbler

Tonight's new episode of "30 Rock": "Retreat to Move Forward"

Liz accompanies Jack to his corporate retreat. Meanwhile, Frank helps Jenna prepare for her role as Janis Joplin. Kenneth helps Tracy through a diabetes scare.


Office chatter

Tonight's new episode of "The Office": "Prince Family Paper"

Michael and Dwight go undercover to do a bit of industrial espionage on a paper company competitor. Meanwhile, the rest of the office holds a debate to settle the question: is Hilary Swank hot?


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Quick movie reviews

Gran Torino: Excellent. A growling Clint Eastwood portrays a racist old coot who shakes the Crime Stick and takes back the streets, while growing in the process. Sure, there's some subpar acting by the supporting players (forgivable since they're largely newcomers), but Clint carries the film on his manly, gruff shoulders. There's lots of talk about this movie dealing with race relations and, while it does, I think it's just as much about generational divide and a longing for a time when people respected each other. Fun tip: before watching this, make up some racial slur bingo cards.

Ghost Town: Call me crazy, but I'm an unabashed Greg Kinnear fan, so I was looking forward to this film. Outside of an episode of "The Simpsons" and For Your Consideration, I'm pretty ignorant of Ricky Gervais's work (wasn't he on some sitcom in the UK?). Maybe I just don't "get" his humor because, while I found the movie charming, it really didn't bring the funny. I like how they play around with the concept of ghosts (sneezing is caused by walking through one), though.

Wanted: Big, dumb, fun action movie, but with faults. Sadly, Angelina Jolie is approaching "bag of antlers" status - get her a sammich. Stat! And I honestly don't mind CGI that much EXCEPT when human characters are extremely fake-looking (Spider-Man/Matrix Syndrome), which took me out of this movie's climactic shootout. People have said that Morgan Freeman possesses the "voice of God," so it was kind of funny hearing him say "motherfucker."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I think Stephen Colbert did this bit eight years too early

And don't blame me for today's coronation. I voted to re-elect President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho. I mean, c'mon: he's also a porn superstar and five-time Ultimate Smackdown wrestling champion.

But I don't hate the new guy. I wish him well, but I'm skeptical.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Happy Lee/Jackson/King Day!

I'm going to celebrate by seeing Clint Eastwood portray an old, racist coot in Gran Torino later on today.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Flight manifest

Tonight's season premiere of "Flight of the Conchords": "A Good Opportunity"

Bret and Jemaine fire Murray for neglecting them in favour of the Crazy Dogggz and almost immediately they receive an offer to write a jingle for a commercial. Meanwhile Murray's fortunes reverse after he discovers that the Crazy Dogggz big hit is a rip-off of a 1990s Polish song.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Song to get you through the weekend: "I'm Sorry Now/You Mama You" by Jude

I've been listening to a whole lot of one of my favorite singer-songwriters Jude's music this week, partly because my copy of Cuba arrived in the mail and partly because he's reentered the pop culture consciousness after he outed himself as a - *gasp* - conservative a few days ago (it's a good read).

I've been a fan of his ever since I was music director for my college radio station way back in the mid 90s. We received a copy of his 430 N. Harper Ave. one day and I was hooked ever since, following his career from indie to major label back to indie. Whenever he released an album, I bought it. Honestly, I never knew his political leanings all these years because he never interjects his views into his songs. What a concept!

Anyway, way to go, bud. Hope you enjoyed your career in the arts. :)

How about a bonus song? Here's "Gay Cowboy":

It was written back in 1999 or 2000, but became fortuitously relevant several years later.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Crush of the Year 2008: Christina Hendricks

This year I turned the selection of the Crush of the Year entirely to the Micah World readership and your choice was clear: Christina Hendricks.

On "Mad Men" and in her other acting projects, Ms. Hendricks exudes class, grace, and pulchritude. My fear is that now that she's in the national spotlight, she'll be pressured into conforming to Hollywood's whacked out standards of beauty and go on the Jennifer Connelly Figure Killing Diet. Let's hope not.

For once, my personal favorite candidate was also that of the electorate. Big Red had a mandate with six votes (seven, if you count jasdye's mention of her while abstaining) while Alicia Witt and Gov. Sarah Palin tied for second place with two votes each. Several other women received single votes, but I'm sure they would say that just being nominated is an honor.

A bust (*snicker*) of Christina will be placed in the main corridor of the Hall of Crushes, along with previous honorees Tina Fey, Scarlett Johansson, and Shandi Finessey. So, kudos to you, Christina Hendricks.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Office chatter

Tonight's new episode of "The Office": "The Duel"

When Andy finds out about Dwight and Angela, it's a fight to the finish when the two men decide to take matters into their own hands.


30 rock tumbler

Tonight's new episode of "30 Rock": "Flu Shot"

Liz campaigns for her staff's right to get flu shots from Dr. Spaceman, but Jack will not allow it. Since Elisa is working seven days a week, Jack tries to think of creative ways for spending time with her.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

20 reasons to live for yet another year

Okay, let's stop dwelling on 2008 and look ahead to 2009. The following things on my pop culture radar are what I'm anticipating most in the coming year.

  • Lily Allen's It's Not Me, It's You Her debut was one of my favorite albums of 2007 (as well as 2006, for that matter), so I'm really looking forward to hearing her follow-up.

  • John Wesley Harding's Who Was Changed And Who Was Dead This album by one of my favorite singer-songwriters doesn't officially come out until March, but I already have my copy (he's selling it early on his site). Get it. It's great.

  • D'Angelo's James River While it's not set in stone that my fellow Richmonder's long-awaited album will be released this year, it's been hinted. Come on, D. I need some new music to play while I sex up the womens.

  • Depeche Mode's new album Playing the Angel was a nice return to form for the band. Let's hope they can maintain that level of quality.

  • The Pacific HBO's Band of Brothers is the single greatest thing ever produced for television. This miniseries - chronicling the Pacific theater of WWII - has a lot to live up to.

  • "Flight of the Conchords" While the second season's first episode is already up online, I'm waiting until this Sunday to watch the premiere properly. I'm really hoping it brings the funny, like last season.

  • "Breaking Bad" March sees the second season of this show about an unfulfilled high school chemistry teacher who turns to cooking crystal meth after finding out that he's been diagnosed with cancer. I've always enjoyed Bryan Cranston's work (Watley on "Seinfeld," Hal on "Malcom in the Middle"), but he's operating on a totally different level here.

  • "The Office" (kinda/sorta/not really) spin-off I still don't have much of a clue as to what this is all about, but I'm there.

  • "Important Things With Demetri Martin" One of my favorite comedians working today debuts his own Comedy Central show this February. That's enough to get me to tune in.

  • "Curb Your Enthusiasm" The long wait in between seasons (the last new episode aired in November 2007) is only making me jones for this painfully awkward comedy even more.

  • Inglorious Bastards Quentin Tarantino's long-in-the-works World War II movie is finally coming out. Can't wait.

  • Dead Snow Nazi zombies. Do you need to know any more? And the fact that it's subtitled means that it's art.

  • Watchmen For years I've heard that this is the greatest graphic novel ever, so I've got some catching up to do before the movie comes out. If it comes out, that is.

  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine It had me at X.

  • Untitled George Romero Zombie Movie Let's face it: Diary of the Dead sucked. But Romero's earned enough goodwill for me to always give his (zombie) movies a gander.

  • The Fantastic Mr. Fox Sure, the fact that it's a Wes Anderson movie will get my butt to the theater, but what I'm really looking forward to is Jarvis Cocker's music.

  • The Year One I'm an unabashed Judd Apatow junkie, so I'm looking forward to seeing his take on Biblical times.

  • Untitled Bruno Movie Borat was a hoot. Bring on Bruno.

  • Star Trek I am by no means a Trekkie (heck, I've never seen a full episode or movie), but two people will get me to pay money to see this: Simon Pegg and Diora Baird.

Video Games
And two reasons to push back your suicide attempt until 2011:
  • The Arrested Development Movie Michael Cera seems to be the only holdout. I say, make the movie without him, as I have no doubt that Mitchell Hurwitz can find a way to credibly write out his character. This world needs some new Bluth family hijinks. Now.

  • The Expendables Sylvester Stallone writes and directs this action film featuring himself, Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Forest Whitaker, and possibly Sir Ben Kingsly and Sandra Bullock. An early account indicates that this will be a Big Ball of Awesome. After this film's release, the universe will surely collapse in on itself.

That should keep you entertained for the next 12 months.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Best of 2008: albums

1. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend Ever wonder what Paul Simon's Graceland would've sounded like if it was produced by Wes Anderson? Here you go. Really, there's not one clunker on this album, a winning mix of orchestral indie sensibilities and afro pop.
2. Frightened Rabbit - The Midnight Organ Fight Just a stunning album from start to finish. Highly recommended for fans of heartfelt music, casual cursing, and thick Scottish brogues.
3. Steve Poltz - Traveling/Unraveling This is sort of a cheat, since I'm counting both of his '08 albums as one. Each of the singer-songwriter's albums are great. Whittle them down to their best songs and you have a remarkable album.
4. She & Him - Volume One Albums by actresses-turned-singers usually end up to be huge messes, but Zooey Deschanel - with help from indie hero M. Ward - bucks the trend by keeping things simple and organic.
5. Mates of State - Re-Arrange Us This married duo gave their sound a little more intimacy by switching from organs to pianos, but luckily they still kept the wonderful, hooky melodies.
6. Neon Neon - Stainless Style This concept album about auto magnate John DeLorean (think Back to the Future) sounds uncannily like it was made in the 80s. Love it.
7. Los Campesinos! - Hold On Now, Youngster/We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed Another two album cheat, but I find this Welsh band's combination of indie pop, singalong choruses, and glockenspiel (!) to be utterly irresistible.
8. Hayes Carll - Trouble in Mind Though "She Left Me For Jesus" got all of the attention, the rest of his album holds up just as well, including his twangy cover of one of my favorite songs (Tom Waits' "I Don't Wanna Grow Up"). I wish more country music sounded like this.
9. Lenka - Lenka Unabashed pop fun. That is all.
10. My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges After years of writing them off simply because of their name (I thought they were a whiny emo band), this is my introduction to their music. Other reviews have stated that this album doesn't "sound" like MMJ. So, I guess my favorite MMJ album - which includes "Librarian," a lovely song about my fetish of choice - isn't a MMJ album, after all.

In a first for the Micah World Best Of, I'll post the rest of my rankings in the comment section, so as not to clutter up this post. Keep in mind that I excluded from consideration EPs, Christmas music, compilations, stand-up/spoken word discs, and albums that I feel that I didn't listen to enough to give an informed spot on the list.

Simply awful:
Scarlett Johansson - Anywhere I Lay My Head
At least try to sound interested, hon.

Disappointments from favorites:
Del the Funky Homosapien - Eleventh Hour
Dido - Safe Trip Home
The Fratellis - Here We Stand
Jenny Lewis - Acid Tongue
Smoking Popes - Stay Down
Kanye West - 808s & Heartbreak

Welcome back, cutter:
The Cure - 4:13 Dream

Best backstory:
Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
Boy dissolves band, breaks up with girl, and gets sick. Boy retreats to Wisconsin cabin for three months. Boy emerges with a very pretty album.

Best soundtrack:
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
"Dracula musical!"

So retro they're nowtro:
Raphael Saadiq - The Way I See It
Al Green - Lay It Down
Tom Jones - 24 Hours
Sharleen Spiteri - Melody

Screw you, music industry:
Paul Westerberg - 49:00
A full length album for only $.99! I just wish it wasn't one long track.

Kick-ass shows:
Gogol Bordello
Steve Poltz
Michael Ian Black & Michael Showalter

Friday, January 09, 2009

Best of 2008: songs

In previous years I've only listed what I deemed to be the best singles, but I found that that is unnecessarily limiting. For 2008, I've decided to just jot down my favorite overall songs, limiting it to one per artist except for Frightened Rabbit, because I couldn't narrow it down to just one. Yeah, I went a little crazy, but here they are, in no particular order (Check out the playlist below; YouTube links are provided where available):

1. "Time To Pretend" by MGMT Who knew that an indictment of the rock 'n roll lifestyle could sound so joyous? Too bad the rest of the album (minus "Kids") is pretty bland.
2. "Dangerous and Sweet" by Lenka Best pop of the year? Maybe.
3. "Dream Cars" by Neon Neon The greatest 80s song made in 2008.
4. "That's Not My Name" by the Ting Tings I defy you not to sing along.
5. "Oxford Comma" by Vampire Weekend Who gives a fuck about an oxford comma? Me, for one.
6. "Oh Girl" by Raphael Saadiq So retro it's nowtro.
7. "California Girls" by the Magnetic Fields Catchy, distorted bile.
8. "My Backwards Walk" by Frightened Rabbit Excellent, excellent song about the inability to break off a relationship.
9. "Keep Yourself Warm" by Frightened Rabbit Quite possibly my favorite lyrics of the year: "I'm drunk and you're probably on pills/If we both got the same diseases, it's irrelevant, girl."
10. "God & Suicide" by Blitzen Trapper I have no idea what the heck this song means, but I can't get it out of my head.
11. "The Girl" by City and Colour Very sweet song, perfect for every wooing mixtape I make in the future.
12. "Man-Sized Wreath" by R.E.M. They finally rediscover how to rawk out.
13. "My Only Offer" by Mates of State The sound of domestic not-quite-bliss.
14. "My Year In Lists" by Los Campesinos! Fast, short, glorious, and to the point.
15. "I'm Walking This Road Because You Stole My Car (Don't Go)" by Fascinoma I was exposed to this humorously melancholy song on an episode of "American Dad," of all places.
16. "What's This?!!" by Teddy Thompson Man unwittingly gets thrust into a relationship and is cool with it. Micah likes this song. Second best lyrics of the year: "Take you out anywhere/Tie you to the kitchen chair/Either's good."
17. "Girl Downtown" by Hayes Carll I really root for Billy whenever I hear this song.
18. "Shameless" by the Fratellis They've only been on the scene for a couple of years and they're already bitching about the kids? Still, it's a fun pub rocker.
19. "Konichiwa Bitches" by Robyn Missing comma aside, this is the perfect sassy, Swedish electropop to blast in your car during the summer.
20. "You Don't Know Me" by Ben Folds with Regina Spektor My favorite piano man duets with my favorite piano woman. They should totally do this song at Howl at the Moon. Is Howl at the Moon still around?
21. "Evil Urges" by My Morning Jacket Basic libertarian philosophy set to a groovy beat: "It ain't evil baby, if ya ain't hurting anybody." Or maybe it's all about free love, baby. Who cares?
22. "You" by Atmosphere The lone hip-hop song on my list. It was a down year for the genre, but this song kicks all sorts of butt.
23. "Spiraling" by Keane The second greatest 80s song made in 2008.
24. "Paper Planes" by M.I.A. Best song by an artist I otherwise don't care about.

And some songs unavailable on Project Playlist:

25. "Fort Hood" by Mike Doughty Let the sun shine in.
26. "Once Again" by Steve Poltz An irresistible song by one of my favorite artists. This was co-written by Poltz and Jim Croce's son A.J.
27. "Could Be Worse" by Eef Barzelay But I take pleasure in this song.
28. "Going Back/Going Home" by Butch Walker His life in about 4 minutes.
29. "This. Here and Now. With You." by the Cure Sounds like the best of Wish-era Cure. The goths may balk, but I love it.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

30 rock tumbler

Tonight's new episode of "30 Rock": "Senor Macho Solo"

Jenna is concerned when Liz becomes attracted to a new man. Jack tries to help Tracy and Angie Jordan organize a "post-nup" agreement and Jenna auditions for a Janis Joplin biographical film. Jack finds a new love in the form of Elisa, his mother's nurse.


Best of 2008: television

The flickering images on the idiot box that captured my attention in 2008:

1. "The Shield": It was sad to see this show end, but oh what an ending it was - intense, shocking, and heartbreaking. Vic Mackey got exactly what he deserved in the end. And we got some closure. That's how a series finale should be done. Do you hear me, "Sopranos"?
2. "Mad Men": 2008 was the year that I discovered "Mad Men" and I'm a better person for it. Come for the high quality drama. Stay for alpha female Christina Hendricks.
3. "Dexter": Without a doubt, this is the best show about a Miami serial killer working for the cops on TV. This season's twist - having Dexter get a best friend/protege (Jimmy Smits) - paid off well.
4. "Breaking Bad": The best show you didn't see. Bryan Cranston, playing a terminally ill high school chemistry teacher who turns to cooking crystal meth, really deserved his Emmy.
5. "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia": Maybe it wasn't the strongest season for the gang, but it did introduce the catchphrase "Wildcard, bitches!" into my lexicon. And for that I am forever grateful.
6. "The Soup": Thank goodness for this show. Joel McHale and his crew snarkily wade through hours of TV's wasteland, so I don't have to. God bless you, spaghetti cat.
7. "24: Redemption": After a very long hiatus, Jack Bauer finally returned to kick some bad guy butt. Added bonus: the portrayal of the UN and Washington bureaucrats as cowardly, self-serving, and ineffectual.
8. "South Park": AIDS, Britney, Lucas and Spielberg raping Indiana Jones, giant guinea pigs, Obamatons, vampires, internet shortages...even the usual dud episodes were pretty funny.
9. "John Adams": History is fun! Paul
10. "Entourage": Pure escapism and I love it. Ari and Lloyd are still the best couple on TV.
11. "A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!": This throwback to old school Christmas specials is nostalgic comedy gold and plays better on DVD, where you can ditch the canned laughter. Who knew Colbert was such a capable song and dance man?
12. "The Sarah Silverman Program": Crude, absurd, and funny. The adventures of Brian and Steve continue to be the best parts of the show. Not that the rest of it is totally ozay.
13. "Californication": I watched it all for the nookie.
14. "Secret Diary of a Call Girl": I watched it all for the English nookie.

Special thanks: the writers strike Because of this forced break, I was able to free up more time to go to the gym, read, and do other non-TV related activities. And then that all came to a crashing halt around Olympics time and I resumed my couch potato ways.

Note: I don't include most network shows on my list, since they usually straddle the line between two calendar years. How can you proclaim that a show is the best of the year, when only half of it airs then? So that explains the absence of favorites such as "30 Rock," "The Office," and "Life on Mars" (US) above. I've noticed this year that some critics are remedying that problem by making "Best Episodes" lists, but that would require too much thought, research, and time on my part. I'm lazy.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Best of 2008: movies

1. The Dark Knight: Way to go out on a limb there, Micah. But really, this is an all-around great film. Going in, I was skeptical of the Heath Ledger hype, but his performance was excellent and cemented the movie's place at #1.
2. Iron Man: I wrestled with the idea of having this take the top spot because it was the most fun I had at the movies in 2008. If there was any justice in this world, Robert Downey, Jr. would be nominated for Best Actor.
3. Forgetting Sarah Marshall: Getting dumped has never been so funny. And for the ladies: copious amounts of dong.
4. The Incredible Hulk: A vast improvement over the previous Hulk movie, thanks to Edward Norton's Bruce Banner and having the big green guy actually, you know, smash stuff this time.
5. Hellboy II: The Golden Army: Guillermo del Toro creates a fantastic world and everything is improved from the prior film (CGI, humor, acting, etc.). I still maintain that Ron Perlman's Hellboy is the best character to make the comic-to-film transition, visually at least.
6. Step Brothers: The last act lags a bit, but the first 2/3 is hilarious, if you dig Will Ferrell's manchild shtick (I do). My nomination for the best actor to go from serious drama to wild comedy: John C. Reilly.
7. Tropic Thunder: While it wasn't as monumental as it looks on paper (STILLER! BLACK! DOWNEY, JR.!), it still did bring the funny. From here on out, can we just put Robert Downey, Jr. in every movie?
8. Zack and Miri Make a Porno: Elizabeth Banks' face during "the scene" alone warrants inclusion on this list.
9. Rambo: Finally, an 80s action film for the new millennium. Buried under the layers of blood and testosterone is an actual message, too.
10. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: Nix the sci-fi junk and Shia Lebouf swinging on vines, and it's not that bad of a movie. And let's be honest: nothing that Spielberg, Lucas, and Ford produced could live up to the years of anticipation.

Biggest disappointment (comedy department): Semi-Pro

Biggest disappointment (zombie department): Diary of the Dead

Safe bet for fun!*: 21

More Bourne than Bond: Quantum of Solace

I'm not in the target market, but I enjoyed it anyway, dammit: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

*That's my official entry in this year's Gene Shalit Review Impersonation Contest.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Best of 2008: video games

It seems that every year I play fewer and fewer games. But here are the ones that occupied my time in 2008.

1. Guitar Hero I/II/III/Rocks the 80s I went kinda GH crazy during the first part of the year, but these games are loads of fun. Who would've thought that one could rock out to the Stone Roses, Weezer, and the Beastie Boys in a video game? I am a golden god.
2. Audiosurf Ten of the best dollars that I spent this year were on this game. It builds tracks based on songs in your mp3 library, in which you guide your little space car on them, and pick up/avoid blocks that are synced to the music. It sounds very simple - and it is - but, like GH, it's a winning combination of music and gaming.
3. The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction Smashing stuff up real good is a lot of fun.

Note: Much like with books, I rarely play or buy a game during the year its released, it seems. I've been wanting an Xbox 360 for quite a long time, but now I have access to a friend's GameStop employee discount, so this may be the year. Or not.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Best of 2008: books

Since I'm known as a man of letters, I'm kicking Best Of Week off with 2008's best books (a.k.a. Pretty Much Every Non-Magazine/Internet Bunch Of Words That I Read Last Year):

The best:
Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality by Donald Miller: I just really, really liked this memoir, which details Miller's journey back to God after losing his faith. It's written in a very conversational tone, which makes it seem like he's talking directly to you. While I don't quite always agree with him (mainly, his politics), I found this book to be both enlightening AND enjoyable.

The rest (listed alphabetically):
Dead Sea by Brian Keene
An Inconvenient Book: Real Solutions to the World's Biggest Problems by Glenn Beck
Into Hot Air: Mounting Mount Everest by Chris Elliott
My Custom Van: And 50 Other Mind-Blowing Essays that Will Blow Your Mind All Over Your Face by Michael Ian Black
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Rock On: An Office Power Ballad by Dan Kennedy
Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman
Things I've Learned From Women Who've Dumped Me edited by Ben Karlin
A Year at the Movies: One Man's Filmgoing Odyssey by Kevin Murphy

Unfinished reading, so look for these on 2009's list (hopefully):
Our Dumb World: The Onion's Atlas of the Planet Earth, 73rd Edition* by the Onion
When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
Tobacco: A Cultural History of How an Exotic Plant Seduced Civilization by Iain Gately

Note: This list contains only a handful of books published in 2008 because: a) I rarely buy books right when they are released; b) I have a HUGE reading pile; and c) I'm a pretty slow reader. But the above is what I read - and dug - this past year. Deal with it.

*Hilarious book, but I make only so many trips to the john in a given year.

Go Bucks!