Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Quick movie review

Up in the Air: George Clooney plays a professional downsizer and aspiring motivational speaker who only feels at home while on his quest to accumulate 10 million frequent flyer miles. His company hires an ambitious wunderkind whose cost efficient idea to fire people via the internet threatens to make Clooney obsolete, so he takes her on a cross country trip to show her that his line of work requires a personal touch. In return she - along with a fellow professional flyer that he's been periodically hooking up with - shows him that his detachment from his family and lack of a permanent home is not any way to live.

Clooney turns in another fine Clooney-esque performance. Vera Farmiga's sublime buttocks and Anna Kendrick also do well in their roles. Director Jason Reitman crafts yet another great movie*, though it may be a tough watch for some people, given their circumstances as a result of this economy. For everyone else, though, this one enjoyable flick.

*True, I absolutely HATED the dialogue in Juno, but every other aspect of that film is above par. Honest to blog. And I can't heap enough praise onto the terrific Thank You For Smoking

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

"I hope everybody likes my gifts, I must say. Although I doubt some will score as well as I had hoped because not everybody likes acrylic."

Fun fact: For my last year of trick or treating I dressed up as Ed Grimley.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Eve!

I listen to a lot of Christmas music. A lot. And my absolute favorite "new classic" is this song - "Merry Christmas Eve" by Better Than Ezra. Originally a B-side on their 1995 "Rosealia" single, it's chock full of Christmas imagery. Maybe that's why I like it so much.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way..."

Well, another Festivus has arrived and I still haven't thrown a party. Maybe next year. That gives me 365 days to buy a pole.

Happy Festivus! It ain't over until you pin me.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Requisites: Christmas Albums

Christmas music. It can be corny. It can be beautiful. It can somehow be both at the same time. Not everyone likes it, though. But what do you do when you're faced with throwing an impromptu Yuletide cocktail party - serving peppermint martinis, no doubt - and realize that you come up short in the festive music department? Sure, you could tune into your local "music the whole office can agree on" station, but then you run the risk of having your soiree prematurely killed by the likes of Marian Carey, "Christmas Shoes", and songs about reindeer mauling elderly relatives.

For just such an occasion I've compiled a list of must-own Christmas albums. Every self-respecting celebrator of the season should own these masterpieces:

The Vince Guaraldi Trio: A Charlie Brown Christmas As far as Christmas music goes, it all begins and ends with this jazzy, nostalgic gem. Start your party with "Christmas Is Coming". Close it with "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing".

John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together Who doesn't like John Denver? Who hates the Muppets? Godless heathens, that's who. With all due respect to Bob and Doug McKenzie, this serendipitous collaboration produced the definitive version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas".

Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, The Ratpack: The Christmas Collection, Christmas with Dino, Christmas with the Rat Pack Add instant cool to your cocktail party with this trio of albums featuring songs by Frank, Dino, and Sammy recorded during their classic Rat Pack years. It's sure to make revelers who've indulged in a bit too much wassail go all ring-a-ding-ding, baby.

Various Artists: Merry Mixmas, Christmas Remixed, Christmas Remixed 2, Verve Remixed Christmas Like the music used in pretty much every seasonal commercial and Gap/Old Navy store over the last four or five years? Then you'll love these reworkings of classic Christmas songs. While some remixes are better than others, they're all at least interesting.

Johnny Mathis: Merry Christmas At first one may want to dismiss this album's title as being a bit trite, but if you listen to the songs it sounds as if Johnny's really sending out his heartfelt holiday greetings personally to you. His take on "Sleigh Ride" IS the sound of Christmas.

South Park: Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics Swiss Colony beef logs. Judaic exclusion. A singing piece of shit. This album's hilarious and perfect for lightening the mood, though "The Most Offensive Song Ever" is very appropriately titled. It's sure to pick up the spirits of even the most dour seasonal depression sufferer.

Various Artists: Ultra Lounge: Christmas Cocktails Part One, Part Two, Part Three Take the coolness of the Rat Pack albums listed above (which share some of the same songs with this series), add a heavy helping of kitsch and you've got this set of lounge music compilations. Lush, sparkly, and delightfully tacky.

Barenaked Ladies: Barenaked for the Holidays Keeping things goofy, these Canucks made one heck of a jaunty Christmas album. "Elf's Lament" - a song detailing a labor dispute between Santa and his workshop employees - alone is worth the price of admission.

Squirrel Nut Zippers: Christmas Caravan Because every party - regardless of holiday or theme - needs some hot jazz to give off a speakeasy vibe. More artists should cover "I Like the Winter Weather", you know?

Bing Crosby: Merry Christmas It's got his version of "White Christmas" on it. 'Nuff said.

I realize that this list may arrive too late to restore your Christmas street cred this year. Luckily for you, these'll be heavily marked down on December 26th and you can be ready for next year.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Song to close out the weekend: "(Let's Have a) Patrick Swayze Christmas" by Joel and the Bots

As a tribute to one of the victims of Celebrageddon 2009, here is Joel, Crow, and Tom Servo from the great "Mystery Science Theater 3000" singing the Road House-inspired "(Let's Have a) Patrick Swayze Christmas".

Wanna make this the Swayziest Christmas of them all? Grab my '09 Christmas mix - featuring this beloved carol - here.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Angels we have heard on highTunes

Just in time for you to be snowed in this weekend*, I've lovingly tucked your favorite aural Christmas tradition into your virtual stocking. This is the eleventh edition of A Very Micah Christmas that I've compiled and by now most of the tried and true classics have been used. But hopefully you'll find some new favorites among the older chestnuts.

Presenting the soundtrack to your holiday enchantment:

1. "Your Christmas Whiskey" - The Minus 5
2. "Let It Snow" - Luscious Jackson
3. "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" - Weezer
4. "(Let's Have a) Patrick Swayze Christmas" - Joel and the Bots
5. "Frosty the Snowman" - Ella Fitzgerald
6. "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" - Barry Manilow
7. "Christmas Night in Harlem" - Louis Armstrong
8. "Blue Christmas" - Dean Martin
9. "Hard Candy Christmas" - Leigh Nash
10. "Fairytale of New York" - The Priestess and the Fool
11. "Santa Can't Stay" - Dwight Yoakam
12. "Christmas All Over Again" - Butch Walker and Taryn Manning
13. "Santa Baby" - The Hot Toddies
14. "Christmas Medley" - Pee-wee Herman
15. "Christmas with the Jews" - Elizabeth & the Catapult
16. "The Chanukah Song" - Neil Diamond
17. "Dreidl-Bells" - DJ Flack
18. "Come All Ye Faithful" - Halford
19. "The Christmas Song" - Redd Foxx
20. "Maybe This Christmas" - Ron Sexsmith
21. "Jolly Old St. Nicholas" - Eddy Arnold
22. "Christmas Don't Be Late" - Jessie Torrisi
23. "Present Face" - Garfunkel & Oates
24. "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth" - C.W. Morris
25. "We Three Kings" - Spinal Tap
26. "Luau in December" - King Kukulele & the Friki Tikis
27. "Baby, It's Cold Outside" - Carmen McRae & Sammy Davis, Jr.
28. "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm" - Julie London
29. "White Christmas" - Frank Sinatra
30. "Oíche Chiúin" - Enya
31. "Auld Lang Syne" - Billy Idol
32. For me to know and you to find out!

Grab an .rar file of the mix here.

Some thanks: my brother for track #24 (an older recording had to be used because his Mac/recording studio was broken), my nephew Hunter for help with a secret related project, and the fine folks at Patrick Henry Pub for the CD release party

Want more Yuletide audio goodness? The past couple of years of mixes can be found here and here.

*For those in Richmond, at least.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

See ya, Ukrop's

So, legendary regional grocery chain Ukrop's is being bought by Giant's parent company. Four thoughts:

1) I'm sure I have an old Giant card from my tenure in NoVA tucked away somewhere, so I've already got that covered.

2) It will be nice to finally buy beer and wine (on Sundays!) at a former Ukrop's building.

3) I guess this was the last year of my tradition of frying up a batch of Ukrop's-bought oysters for Thanksgiving. Future oysters will be from Ukrop's in name only.

4) Who says boycotts don't work? CW, you won.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Riffmas

Oh, man. I CANNOT WAIT until tonight's live Rifftrax show: "Christmas Shorts-Stravaganza!" Considering that the "Mystery Science Theater 3000" gang's take on Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is among my favorites of theirs (their riffing of the surreal Mexican import Santa Claus is also a good 'un), the festivities should not disappoint. And if they do, the performance by "Weird Al" Yankovic should redeem any slow parts.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bonus Crush of the Week: Iliza Shlesinger

This week's Bonus Crush is comedian Iliza Shlesinger.

She's an impulsive and uninformed choice. This evening I was clearing out the ol' DVR backlog by watching "Surviving the Holidays with Lewis Black" and she was briefly featured in it. From what I gathered, she's cute and had some funny quips and that's pretty much the extent of my knowledge about her. I've got to do some more research...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Crushes of the Week: "Inglorious Basterds" women

This week's Crushes are Mélanie Laurent and Diane Kruger, the two women featured in Quentin Tarantino's most excellent Inglorious Basterds.

They were both new to me when I saw Inglorious Basterds* and I thought each did a great job holding their own against the likes of Brad Pitt and Christoph Waltz. I'm really looking forward to watching them - and this movie - again (and again).

*Well, I did see Kruger in the craptacular Troy, but I mostly wiped that film from my memory.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Song to get you through the weekend: "Christmas with the Jews" by Elizabeth and the Catapult

Christmas with the Jews from Elizabeth & the Catapult on Vimeo.

Here's a little preview of the Christmas mix that I made this year, which I'll be posting here next week. This song - "Christmas with the Jews" by Elizabeth and the Catapult - reminds me of the time about 10 years ago when my holiday travel plans were temporarily thwarted by ice and snow, and a Jewish friend invited me over to spend Christmas Eve with him, his family, and their friends. Good times.

Happy Chanukah (if that's your dealy-o)!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Finally! A cheese made specifically for me.

Choose your quip and discuss why:

A) I bet it tastes great on Wonder Bread with some mayo.
B) It's holding all of the other cheeses down.
C) Ever notice how some cheeses dial phones like this...

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Song to close out the weekend: "Do They Know Its Christmas?" by the Comedy Death-Ray Xmas Nativity Choir

Usually, I pick up my calendars for a heavy discount as January fades into February, but not for 2010. Why? Because the fine folks at A Special Thing and Comedy Death-Ray are including a Christmas CD with the purchase of their comedian-filled calendar. Included on that CD is a version of "Do They Know It's Christmas" by the Comedy Death-Ray Xmas Nativity Choir.

If there's someone that makes you laugh on TV or in movies*, chances are he or she is featured on this song: Paul F. Tompkins, R.O. Manse, Tig Notaro, Rob Huebel, Patton Oswalt, Mike Phirman, Jimmy Pardo, Brian Posehn & Scott Aukerman, Garfunkel & Oates, Aimee Mann, Chris Hardwick, Paul Scheer & June Diane Raphael, Doug Benson, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Nick Thune, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Cracked Out, Dragon Boy Suede, Natasha Leggero, Thomas Lennon & Ed Helms

Man, what a line up. I can't wait until my calendar and CD ship.

*Provided you don't exclusively watch the Blue Collar Comedy Tour or Comic View

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Pixelated Pigskin Prognostications: Championship Round Two

The Great Xbox 360 Swami knows nothing of Richmond's miserable yet winning performance last week. It lives in the now, buzzing the tower and making its superior spill coffee on himself. Based on its CPU vs. CPU match, it predicts the following outcome for tonight's game:

Richmond 33, Appalachian State 25

Now go on with your bad selves.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Bonus Crush of the Week: Little Boots

This week's Bonus Crush is English electropop star Little Boots (née Victoria Hesketh). I find her debut album Hands to be a lot of fun.

In addition to crafting a nice slice of pop, she's also completely adorable, especially when she's rocking out in her little black dress:

How can you not love her?

Crushes of the Week: "Community" women

This week's Crushes are Alison Brie and Gillian Jacobs, two of the stars of the hilarious "Community". (Brie also does a fine job as Trudy on "Mad Men".)

"Community" is a great show. NBC better not kill it. But I can't imagine the network has much else waiting in the wings.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Christmastime is here.

Undeterred by Obama's unthinkable preemption* of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" last night (good grief!), I brought Charlie Brown and his "not such a bad little tree" out of storage and put them in my cube today. Fluorescent lights, please...

*You know, maybe he is unamerican after all.