Sunday, July 25, 2010

Song to close out the weekend: "Secret Wars" by the Last Emperor


One of these years I'll fulfill a lifelong dream and attend the geek Mecca (and increasingly relevant) San Diego Comic-Con. Until then, I'll just have to live vicariously through online reports. And I'll listen to the Last Emperor's "Secret Wars", where he pits comic book characters against some of 1999's hottest backpack rappers (and does some hilarious impersonations of them).

This is another one of those songs that takes me back to my DJ days. I have the 12" single (see, this was back in those dark days when one had no choice but to purchase physical copies of music), but I don't believe I ever worked it into one of my sets. But it was fun to just put the headphones on and listen to it. Indie hip-hop and comic books. It doesn't get much geekier than that.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The exhilarating tension between being and becoming: 13 of my favorite baseball-influenced pieces of pop culture

It's been quite a week for America's pastime. The All-Star game happened. George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard passed away. The Orioles and the Nationals are still sucking. Admittedly, I don't follow the game all that closely, but I do love a good day at the ballpark. Unfortunately, I haven't made the trip this season (or even taken a nap to a televised game on a lazy Saturday afternoon). But I have revisited some of my favorite baseball-referencing pop culture:

"Eastbound & Down": Gloriously mulletted and hilariously profane, Danny McBride totally inhabits the role of disgraced former MLB pitcher Kenny Powers. Not only is the HBO show my favorite baseball-related slice of media, Kenny keeps on entertaining during the "off-season" via his Twitter feed.

"Manager's Corner with Earl Weaver": Speaking of profanity, this has got to be the funniest baseball-related viral audio, from back before any such thing was labeled "viral". It's been said that this was all a put on, but I'd prefer to think it's an actual artfully crass on-air interview.

Major League: The greatest baseball movie ever? Yes. I've put the sequel out of my mind, but I hope the possible third flick will match the hilarity of one of the best '80s comedies.

"Homer at the Bat": Yes, "The Simpsons" is relevant to all aspects of life, even baseball. Here Mr. Burns recruits nine pro players to act as ringers on the Springfield nuclear power plant's softball team, with hilarious results. ("I thought I told you to trim those sideburns!") Given the MLB's waning popularity and the dominance of "The Simpsons" in our culture, it's not surprising that most of the ballplayers featured in the episode say that they're more remembered for it than their on-field accomplishments.

"Talkin' Baseball" by Terry Cashman: This song is pure nostalgia for me. The aforementioned "Simpsons" episode has a funny parody of this tune ("Talkin' Softball").

"Space: The Infinite Frontier with Harry Caray: Hey! I love everything about this sketch: Will Ferrell's crazy impersonation of the late Cubs announcer, the absurdity of the premise, Jeff Goldblum's breaking up.

Peanuts: Charlie Brown's decades long losing streak is one of the comic strip's constant sources of melancholy. If Charlie Brown is such a terrible pitcher, why don't the kids replace him? Because the whole team's lousy.

"Gamechangers Episode 3: A Legend in the Booth": Hank Azaria's take on fictional legendary baseball announcer Jim Brockmire is an instant classic.

The Baseball Furies: Though in retrospect this face painted, bat wielding, and pinstriped street gang from The Warriors is pretty silly, as a kid they freaked me out.

Larry David as George Steinbrenner: I resolved to include just one baseball-related aspect of "Seinfeld" and the relationship between George Costanza and "Big Stein" won out. Sorry, Keith Hernandez.

"George F. Will's Sports Machine": "Throw the ball, George!" This sketch from SNL's heyday is definitely not piffle.

"Fanatic of the B-Word" - De La Soul: "Come on and do the baseball." HOW?! Dance songs are supposed to explicitly tell you how to do the damn dance. Still, the Prince Paul-produced beat's killer.

"The World Series Defense": I'm including this episode of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" because it's a correct representation of Philly sports fans' obnoxious behavior.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Quick movie reviews: hard boiled thug edition

Get Carter: Thanks to my newfound obsession with the books from Hard Case Crime, I'm actively seeking out all things crime noir: tough men, femme fatales, P.I.s, grittiness, cons, heists, revenge, and lax attitudes towards cigarette smoking. So naturally I had to watch Get Carter. Though the pace would best be described as "simmering", who knew that Michael Caine was such a bad ass back in the early '70s? Certainly not me, since I was only familiar with him in such pictures as Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Goldmember, and, uh, Jaws: The Revenge. Caine takes the names of those responsible for his brother's death and then extracts his vengeance, scoring with the ladies in the process. Awesome.

Point Blank: Lee Marvin's bad assness has never been in doubt, however. In this 1967 film based on Donald E. Westlake's novel The Hunter, he plays a baddie working up a syndicate's chain, wreaking havoc on the even worse baddies who betrayed him, including Archie Bunker, Dean Wormer, and Doogie Howser's dad. Angie Dickinson is there for hip '60s eye candy. It was a fast paced and enjoyable flick with some surprising art house touches. Plus, this Point Blank is 100% Keanu-free.

Payback: Also based on The Hunter, Payback is a movie I caught on video when it first came out in 1999, but it didn't make much of an impression on me then. Well, that's not entirely true, because I remember the blue hue of the film sticking out, since that was kind of new in mainstream movies those days. After revisiting it, though, I've come to like it even more. In addition to the action being brutal, the performances are solid, and the dialogue's pretty funny. Repeatedly the "bad guys" (in quotes because Mel Gibson's Parker isn't exactly a Boy Scout) mention Parker demanding the whole amount ($140,000) from the job in which he was double crossed and left for dead, and he'll exasperatedly correct them, saying that he just wants his cut of $70,000. I've heard that the director's cut is an entirely different beast (natural color palette, new score, no narration, different ending, 10 minutes shorter) and I look forward to seeking that out for comparison.

Okay, kiddos. What other films in a similar vein should I check out?

Friday, July 09, 2010

Bonus Crush of the Week: Sara Watkins

This week's Bonus Crush is singer/fiddler Sara Watkins.

Recently I was introduced to her when she performed on a live Nerdist podcast. Instantly I was smitten with her and her music.

Crush of the Week: Mary-Louise Parker

This week's Crush is actress Mary-Louise Parker of "Weeds". To paraphrase Dieter, she is beautiful and angular and, if she were a gas, she'd be inert.

I just discovered "Weeds" this week. Despite my strong aversion to adorable moppets who talk like hip adults and recognizing the fact that each season is more ridiculous than the last, I'm loving it (especially Kevin Nealon as "Councilman Doug"). How else would you explain me plowing through four seasons in a week?

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Today's cheery thought: a new song for my funeral!

I've written earlier about my preferred funeral arrangements, but I've recently stumbled across another song that I want played at my funeral party:


"Love You All" by Cloud Cult

It's a simple yet beautiful song that builds to a glorious finish. Of course, judging by the lyrics, this should ideally be played in the event of me shuffling off this mortal coil before my parents.

Make it happen*, friends!

*Playing the song, that is. Not the whole killing-me-before-my-folks deal.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Micah World Top 25

Here they are, the top 25 songs burning up my iTunes (as of 7.2.10):

1. "Tell It To The Volcano" - Miniature Tigers
2. "Hot Venom" - Miniature Tigers
3. "Stadium Love" - Metric
4. "Summertime Clothes" - Animal Collective
5. "Chinese" - Lily Allen
6. "Going Back/Going Home" - Butch Walker
7. "Remedy" - Little Boots
8. "I'm Walking This Road Because You Stole My Car" - Fascinoma
9. "Sulphur to Sugarcane" - Elvis Costello
10. "God Help the Girl" - God Help the Girl
11. "The World Will Deem Us Dangerous" - Her Space Holiday
12. "Top of the Bottom" - John Wesley Harding
13. "Fairytale of New York" - The Priestess and the Fool
14. "Waters of March (Aguas de Marco)" - Anya Marina
15. "Another Likely Story" - Au Revoir Simone
16. "My America" - A Camp
17. "Me, You and Steve" - Garfunkel and Oates
18. "Funny Little Frog" - God Help the Girl
19. "Twilight Galaxy" - Metric
20. "Move You (SSSPII)" - Anya Marina
21. "Cuba" - Jude
22. "Sleepyhead" - Passion Pit
23. "God & Suicide" - Blitzen Trapper
24. "The Look You Give That Guy" - Eels
25. "Help I'm Alive" - Metric

I've changed how I formulate these since the last chart. I used to pull it from my iPod, but for some reason the playcounts keep resetting. So now I'm using my iTunes' playcounts, which are a bit different. (I haven't listened to many of these songs in quite a while.)