Saturday, February 27, 2010

Song to get you through the weekend: "Step On" by Happy Mondays


Four reasons why I chose "Step On" by Happy Mondays:

1) I'm in the middle of a '90s kick.
2) I love all things Madchester.
3) This song's got a killer bassline and beat.
4) For no apparent reason other than to make my nephew laugh, last night at Food Lion I was dancing like Bez does in the video.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Bonus Crush of the Week: Kiira Korpi

This week's Bonus Crush is Finnish Olympic figure skater Kiira Korpi. I don't really follow her sport, but I'm a big fan of hers.

Finland, Finland, Finland, it's the country for me.

Crush of the Week: Julia Mancuso

This week's Crush is U.S. Olympic skier Julia Mancuso, who has taken home two silver medals in this year's games and is now the most decorated female skier in U.S. history. Loves me a woman in a winter hat.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Song to get you through the weekend: "Ode To My Car" by Adam Sandler

This morning's alternator replacement marks my car's second major repair in 2010. I can't afford to do a different costly fix each month (as it's now averaging), so hopefully this trend doesn't continue. But I still need a new timing belt, tires, suspension, and maybe brakes. Yeah, I'm pretty fed up with my car and would love to get a new one, but that's definitely not in the budget. Thanks, exorbitant monthly student loan payment!

(Video link for my Facebook peeps. Heads up: NSFW, unless you work at the docks or on the set of "Deadwood".)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Bonus Crush of the Week: Torah Bright

This week's Bonus Crush is Australian Olympic snowboarder Torah Bright, who won a gold medal in last night's women's halfpipe competition.


Crush of the Week: Liudmila Privivkova

This week's Crush is Russian curler Liudmila Privivkova. Yep, women's curling seems to be my thing.

Who knew that there are such things as Russian girls next door? What's next? The reveal that the Russians love their children, too?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

"We're sending our love down the well": 8 charity song parodies

The new Haiti-benefiting version of "We Are the World" and its accompanying video premiered several days ago and, as you can imagine, it's pretty freakin' terrible. AutoTune? Really? Good intentions aside, the original song is pure fromage and this update doesn't make it any better. Perusing the list of participants made me feel old. Who are these people? Justin Bieber? Trey Songz? Barbara Streisand?

The 1985 original gave the nation a collective warm fuzzy, but now it's kind of hard to take these songs seriously, due in large part because of all of the benefit song parodies that sprang up in the wake of "Don't They Know It's Christmas" and "We Are the World". Here are some of the best:

Pulp: "Bad Cover Version" - Perhaps my favorite skewering of the charity song paradigm, Britpop legends Pulp decided to pay tribute to themselves by bringing in a who's who of rock and pop luminaries (via look- and sound-alikes) for the hilarious video of their excellent 2002 single. They totally nail the "hey, we're having fun in the studio!" wankery that's usually shown in their more serious counterparts. And I never tire of a good Tom Jones impersonation.

"The Simpsons": "We're Sending Our Love Down a Well" - Bart's "there's a boy trapped in a well" prank goes awry when he actually gets stuck in one and Springfield's celebs (and Sting!) are there to "raise awareness". Pointing out the absurd futility of benefit songs? The Simpsons did it.

"30 Rock": "Kidney Now!" - In an effort to find a matching kidney donor for his newly discovered biological father, Jack Donaghy arranges a surprisingly hip group of musicians (including Declan McManus, international art thief) for "Kidney Now!". For pure lyrical content, this song tops the list. And Sheryl Crow got paid!

"Weird Al" Yankovic: "Don't Download This Song" - In 2006 cultural/food commentator "Weird Al" Yankovic shed a light on the guilt tripping and shortsightedness of the music industry ("Don't download this song or you'll burn in hell before too long") while simultaneously exposing the ridiculousness of a group of multimillionaires making an empty gesture for charity. And, as with most of his satirical songs, he was right on point.

Comedy Death-Ray Xmas Nativity Choir: "Do They Know It's Christmas?" - Last year the geniuses behind Comedy Death-Ray assembled a who's who of left coast comedians to record a riff on "Don't They Know It's Christmas" to benefit, well, Comedy Death-Ray. This song's got one of the best lines to go balls out and oversing (ironically, of course) and Chris Hardwick totally nails Bono's original "tonight thank God it's them instead of yoooooou".

"Upright Citizens Brigade": "Little Donny Aid"
There's an unfortunate epidemic amongst our youth: little boys unaware of their freakishly enormous penises. Thankfully, the Upright Citizens Brigade created an episode-long sketch to bring this problem to our attention.

Tonto, Tarzan, and Frankenstein: "We Are World" - "There choice we make/Saving own lives/To make bright day, you, me."

Coldplay: "Zombaid" - Though we never actually see the benefit song performed, Chris Martin and John Buckland of Coldplay very briefly appear in the superb zom-rom-com Shaun of the Dead to promote their cause. I'm glad that after the zombie apocalypse - and mark my words: there will be a zombie apocalypse - there will still be an outlet for celebs to show their generosity. And I still want one of these t-shirts.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Quick movie review

The House of the Devil: From the credits and music to the wardrobe and set design, director Ti West totally nailed the look of the "Satanic Panic" era in this film about a babysitter who signs up for more than she bargained for. Had I not known this movie came out last year, I would've totally thought that it was a forgotten relic from the '80s VHS days*. But while there were some good performances (notably, a very creepy Tom Noonan), a few good scares, and a nice amount of tension at times, the flick's extremely slow burn nature - there are vast stretches were nothing happens - and some plot holes kept me from loving it. I think I appreciated The House of the Devil more than I liked it. Still, I'd say it's worth a viewing if you look back fondly on the mom and pop video store days and want a nostalgia fix.

*In fact, as a clever PR stunt, the film was recently released on VHS.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bonus Crush of the Week: Nicole Joraanstad

This week's Bonus Crush is U.S. Women's Curling Team member Nicole Joraanstad. I don't know what it is about curling, but they produce some of the best girls next door in all of sportsdom. Need proof? Remember the Johnson sisters? Yeah.


Crush of the Week: Lindsey Vonn

This week's Crush is U.S. Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn. There's some doubt as to whether our Great White Hot Hope will be healthy enough to actually compete. Here's hoping that she recovers (quickly!) and cleans house in Vancouver.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

My Oscar noms

Well, the Oscar nominations were announced last week and they were the usual mixed bag of shoe-ins and surprises. While I agree with some of their picks, I haven't seen most of the films that they were culled from (and I still don't care for this "10 Best Picture nominees" nonsense). After a cursory glance at the list of films that I did see last year, I'd like to present the Micah World Alternate Reality Oscar nominations for the big six awards*:

Best Picture
Inglourious Basterds
Up in the Air

Best Director
Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)
Zack Snyder (Watchmen)
Jason Reitman (Up in the Air)
J.J. Abrams (Star Trek)
Neill Blomkamp (District 9)

Best Actor
Sam Rockwell (Moon)
Patton Oswalt (Big Fan)
Sharlto Copley (District 9)
Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen)
Liam Neeson (Taken)

Best Actress
Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air)
Katie Featherston (Paranormal Activity)
Mélanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds)

Best Supporting Actor
Chistoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)
Woody Harrelson (Zombieland)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen)
Ryan Reynolds (X-Men Origins: Wolverine)

Best Supporting Actress
Diane Kruger (Inglourious Basterds)
Catherine Keener (Where the Wild Things Are)
Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air)
Marcia Jean Kurtz (Big Fan)

As usual, there's really no point in speculating who will win, as Bill Brasky will no doubt sweep all of the categories.

1. This list reflects only the 2009 movies that I've seen. There are plenty of others that I fully intend on catching up on (Namely, The Hurt Locker, An Education, Crazy Heart, Avatar, and House of the Devil, among many others).
2. Unlike last year, I didn't list any filler noms. What you see is what you get.
3. What's a lead performance? What's a supporting one? My list. My rules.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Crush of the Year 2009: Alison Brie

The people have spoken and the Crush of the Year for 2009 is actress Alison Brie.

She's currently pulling double duty on a pair of excellent TV shows: "Mad Men" and "Community". Her work as Trudy on the former is great, but she really excels as uptight overachiever Annie on the latter. "Community" started out laugh-out-loud funny and has only gotten better as the season's progressed, due in large part to the believable chemistry of the ensemble.

It also hasn't hurt that her sweaters have seemingly gotten tighter each week on that show, too.

Even greater, she's partly responsible for quite possibly the best moment in television history:

Walter Cronkite and the moon landing ain't got nothing on that.

By exuding grace, beauty, comedic chops, charm, and poise, her selection as Crush of the Year was a no-brainer. Turning the voting over to my readership was yet again the right choice. Thanks, you two!

I agree with her personal assessment. She is amazing.

Ms. Brie's likeness will be placed in the Hall of Crushes alongside previous honorees Christina Hendricks, Tina Fey, Scarlett Johansson, and Shandi Finnessey. But should she fail to live up to her duties as CotY, the runner-up I selected* - Diora Baird - will take her place. Kudos to you, Ms. Brie, and keep up the great work.

So, should I alert her to the fact that she's won such a coveted prize?

*Hey, this blog is mostly a cheertatorship. I only throw the cheerocracy bread crumbs your way every now and then.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Song to close out the weekend: "The Winter" by Apathy

Since the winter is seemingly never going to end, how about a song that wallows in the seasonal depression: "The Winter" by Apathy. (I also like the Inhumanz remix that utilizes a Nine Inch Nails sample, just to add in a little more despair.)

Friday, February 05, 2010

Best of 2009: albums

1. Metric: Fantasies - Hooks that aim for the rafters, female vocalist, big synths and stadium beats. Yep, this is firmly in the center of my wheelhouse.
2. fun. - Aim and Ignite - Catchy as hell Queen and ELO-inspired indie pop that's heavy on the theatrics and strings? How could I not love this? Their "The Gambler" (certainly not the Kenny Rogers tune) - about the singer's father's marriage, family, and illness as told through his mom's point of view - is like the first ten misty-eyed minutes of Up in song form.
3. Lily Allen: It's Not Me, It's You - I absolutely loved her debut, but feared that she would flame out when she made a follow up. But by using only one producer throughout, she's made a cohesive, highly enjoyable second album.
4. Anya Marina: Slow & Steady Seduction: Phase II - On this album Anya tweaks her twee folky image by adding a bit of rock 'n roll grit. And it works.
5. Codeine Velvet Club: Codeine Velvet Club - This Fratellis side project is a throwback to sixties orchestral pop and a mighty fine one at that.
6. Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavilion - Want a description? Read virtually every other Best of 2009 list's #1 spot.
7. Art Brut: Art Brut vs. Satan - I don't think there's any real "artistic growth" on their third album, but who cares? Art Brut speaks for the everybloke.
8. A Camp: Colonia - The former lead singer of the Cardigans (Love me! Love me!) produced an album that's full of one of my weaknesses: the combination of sugary melodies and dark lyrics. It's like an audio Reese's cup!
9. Mos Def: The Ecstatic - While Mos Def was out in Hollywood, his hip-hop career floundered and his music pretty much…sucked. But in 2009 the great wordsmith put out his best album in years. Here's hoping that he continues to put as much work into his music that he does in his acting. And how about a full length Black Star reunion while you're at it?
10. Dead Man's Bones: Dead Man's Bones - Ryan Gosling + spooky songs + a children's choir = a fun disc not just for Halloween.

Excluded from consideration were 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 evaluation. If there is any interest, I will post the rankings of albums 11-35 in the comments section (just ask!).

Best 2008 Album I Discovered in 2009:
Miniature Tigers: Tell It To The Volcano - What if Brian Wilson fronted an indie pop band and had a fixation on animals and tribal cultures rather than innocence and Americana? It'd sound like this.

Most Unnecessary Album:
Spinal Tap: Back From the Dead - Look, I loves me some Spinal Tap, but very little new was brought to these (mostly) re-recordings of their past songs. The best thing about this album is the accompanying DVD featuring an in-character commentary about the album.

Most Unnecessary Album, Remix Division:
Johnny Cash: Remixed - Yeah, this one didn't need to be made.

Biggest Disappointment:
Jarvis Cocker: Further Complications - I used to think that Jarvis Cocker could do no wrong. It turns out that it's Big Anthem Jarvis Cocker that's always excellent. Rockin' Out Jarvis Cocker is the one that has problems knocking it out of the park.

Other Disappointments:
Tinted Windows: Tinted Windows
Clem Snide: Hungry Bird

Best Reggae Album:
Major Lazer: Guns Don't Kill People...Lazers Do - Reggae beamed in from the year 2380. It's also the only reggae album I listened to.

Most Improved:
Scarlett Johansson and Pete Yorn: Break Up

Sophomore Slump:
Lady Sovereign: Jigsaw - Hey, wha' happened? Her debut was a lot of cheeky fun. Her second album...not so much.

Best Reissue:
The Stone Roses: The Stone Roses (20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)

Note: I have yet to pick up any of the Beatles remasters. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know.

Best cover songs:
The Oak Ridge Boys: "Seven Nation Army"
Taken By Trees: "My Boys"
Discovery: "I Want You Back"
Scarlett Johansson and Pete Yorn: "I Am The Cosmos"

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Kill the damn groundhog.

"There is no way that this winter is ever going to end as long as this groundhog keeps seeing his shadow. I don't see any other way out. He's got to be stopped. And I have to stop him."

I love winter. I love snow. But this is too much. At least let it go away until I get an SUV or some other car that can navigate icy roads. I'm pleading with you, Punxsutawney Phil. Have mercy.

Also, sorry for dragging out "Best Of 2009 Week" into "Best Of 2009 Month" and delaying the Crush of the Year post, but last week my hard drive decided that it would like to die sooner rather than later, so I preemptively had my nephew put in a new, bigger hard drive*. I've been preoccupied with transferring data, setting my computer up, and getting accustomed to Windows 7.

*So much more room for porn pirated music illegal movies my spreadsheets!