Sunday, August 29, 2010

Song to close out the weekend: "Chief Rocka" by Lords of the Underground

I came downstairs this morning to find that my nephew had set up my old Playstation 2 and was playing NBA Street Vol. 2. (So blurry! Hi def has spoiled me.) That has arguably the best soundtrack in all of video gamedom, Rock Band and other rhythm games excluded. For the most part, hip-hop today sucks. Back then, even the commercial stuff was quite listenable and sometimes quite great. I'll take Lords of the Underground over the Auto-Tuned to death claptrap currently on the radio any day. And get off my lawn!

Also, yesterday I got a little sucked into an infomercial where Pat Boone was hawking a compilation of '50s/'60s music sung by an endless parade of Betty Drapers and Pete Campbells. Well, maybe not Pete. But it got me to thinking that it won't be long before we see Dr. Dre and Ed Lover occupying half an hour of TV real estate preying on Gen X nostalgia and shilling a series of K-Tel "Golden Age of Hip-Hop" recordings. And this thirtysomething curmudgeon will buy them.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Micahpalooza '10: served on a bed of French fries and melted cheese

Over the weekend Micahpalooza continued with a quick road trip to Pittsburgh. It didn't start out too well, since a combination of being in the back seat, the sun beating down on me, and reading and a typing a flurry of text messages* made me sick and we had to pull over three times so I could vomit. Ugh. On the plus side, one of the stops was in New Stanton and, while I was upchucking, I was soothed by the sounds of New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle" directly followed by R.E.M.'s "Talk About the Passion". For that it won Pennsylvania Turnpike Travel Plaza of the Year.

The main purpose of my visit was to celebrate Shamrock & KPMD's** spawn's first birthday. It was truly the best Curious George themed party I've ever been to.

Dinner one night was sammiches at the original Primanti Bros. where I had a very heart smart one that consisted of pastrami, cheese, onion, tomato, a fried egg, and French fries. I opted out of the cole slaw because, well, I don't like cole slaw. If that exposed me as tourist, so be it. The fact that I have a beard and not just a mustache did that before I even sat down in the place.

The culinary highlight, though were the Savory Waffles (Bacon! Egg! Cheese!) at The Waffle Shop. They say to try it with hot sauce, but I used syrup. Delicious. I want a waffle maker now. As for the restaurant itself, I especially liked the talk show set up in the back of the place and look forward to checking out some of the interviews they have archived on their site.

The trip back was much, much less eventful. And I was perfectly cool with that.

*I CANNOT read in while riding in a car.
**Remember them? Is anyone reading this anymore?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Song to close out the weekend: "Smalltown" by Lou Reed and John Cale


"There's no Michelangelo coming from Pittsburgh"

As part of this year's Micahpalooza festivities I took a quick road trip to Pittsburgh to wine and dine and celebrate good times with great friends. And since Pittsburgh is the hometown of Andy Warhol, what better song to post than the lead off track from Lou Reed and John Cale's song cycle dedicated to the late artist, Songs for Drella? Fun song, but Pittsburgh ain't that bad.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Micahpalooza '10: up in smoke

In what's shaping up to be a yearly tradition (or at least, I dearly hope will be), tonight the folks over at Rifftrax are yet again beaming a live event into theaters nationwide, this time skewering message movie classic Reefer Madness. I've seen Mike Nelson's solo riff of the movie and it's quite funny, so I'm really looking forward to Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett joining him. And I don't even indulge in the wacky tobaccy!

What a way to kick of this year's Micahpalooza. Tomorrow: Pittsburgh.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Quick movie reviews: Scott Pilgrim vs. the Expendables

The Expendables: My expectations were sky high - how could they not be? - but I left a little disappointed. Just a little. My biggest gripe is that, for a movie that aims to bring back the glory of '80s cinema, Syvlester Stallone opted to film the action scenes mostly using the trendy "extreme close-up/ADD editing/shaky cam" trifecta, so a lot of times it was hard to tell what was going on. Other than that, you get exactly what you expect: laughable dialogue, little plot, and tons of explosions. I had a blast! Kudos to Terry Crews for having the most awesome character name ever ("Hale Caesar") and providing the best "blow 'em up good" sequence of the film.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: Another slight disappointment. It wasn't as funny as I'd hoped and I'm totally over Michael Cera's charms. Also, I didn't buy the relationship that drives the plot. But this flick is director Edgar Wright's show. He really shines here, with loads of visual quirk, creative editing, and a very brisk pace. Hey, Hollywood, how about letting Wright direct every movie?

Toy Story 3: Congratulations, Toy Story 3. You're second only to Big Fish in the category of films that make me bawl like a schoolgirl. I hope you're happy with yourself.

The A-Team: By all accounts, I should really hate this movie. The last thing the world needs is a cinematic retread of a silly '80s TV show. And that flying tank scene shown in the trailer? Stupid, stupid, stupid. But guess what. The movie's pretty damn fun for what it is. Going into it, my expectations were low, but Bradley Cooper and company won me over.

Iron Man 2: Eh, I liked it well enough, but it suffers from sequelitis. There is way too much going on and the film seems a bit bloated. Robert Downey, Jr. is excellent, as usual, and you can't go wrong with Scarlett Johansson kicking butt in a skintight suit, but I've got to give top honors to Sam Rockwell, who improves every movie he's in. He steals the film. My new favorite actor? Maybe.

Colin: This extremely microbudgeted (£40) English flick was screened on the last night of the "Zombies in Art, Film, and Literature" class I took last week. By taking the point of view of the titular zombie, it puts a fresh spin on a genre that churns out more turds than gems. Sometimes the camerawork gets overly shaky and it suffers the same Multiple Ending Syndrome as Return of the King, but given how much it cost to make, it's impressive. Worth a look, if you can find it.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Bonus Crush of the Week: Rachel from "Big Brother 12"

This week's Bonus Crush is "Big Brother 12" contestant Rachel. Well, make that former contestant, since she got voted out of the house last night.

Her voice and laugh are annoying. Her "showmance" (ugh!) is annoying. She is annoying. But remember that one episode of "Seinfeld" where Jerry is simultaneously attracted to and repulsed by a woman he's dating and imagines his brain and penis engaged in a game of chess? Yeah, it's kind of like that.

Crush of the Week: Britney from "Big Brother 12"

This week's Crush is "Big Brother 12" contestant Britney. I despise reality TV, but this show is my one guilty pleasure.

Sure, she comes off as childish and spoiled, but her sarcastic comments and faces can be pretty funny. Plus, she's got that whole Southern belle thing going on.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Seven reasons why autumn can't get here soon enough

Man it's hot. It's like Africa hot. Tarzan couldn't take this kind of hot. Even worse, the current pop culture landscape is pretty lackluster. Sure there have been some bright spots these past few months (Toy Story 3, "Breaking Bad"), but overall I've been wanting. With thankfully cooler climates, though, comes some hotly anticipated media and such. Here are seven things I'm greatly looking forward to over the next three months and why I'm not in such a rush to kill myself.

"The Walking Dead" (October): Oh, boy. There are few things I'm looking forward to more this fall in life than this Frank Darabont written/directed/produced AMC adaptation of the ongoing comic book. I think we as a nation are finally ready for a television show set during the zombie apocalypse.

Hot Sauce Committee Pt. 1 (September?): After being delayed a year because of MCA's cancer diagnosis, the new Beastie Boys album is hoped to be released this fall, depending on how his recovery is going. Get better, MCA!

Rock Band 3 (October 26): As more and more information gets released about this game, it's shaping up to be epic and I will be required to take a week off of work when it comes out. One word: keyboards! Two more words: "Bohemian Rhapsody"!

Due Date (November 5): Robert Downey, Jr. + Zach Galifianakis + the director of The Hangover and Old School = at least a few belly laughs, right?

E. Claiborne Robins Stadium (September 18): Spider football finally comes to campus when the new stadium is christened at the home opener against Elon Phoenixeses. Now maybe more than a handful of UR students will actually show up for the games. They have no excuse.

In Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks (November 2): Over the past year or so I've become a dedicated listener of Adam Carolla's podcast (even with the ill-advised morning zoo-esque format switch) and the man himself. This should be a good book to read while on the can.

Mid-Term Elections (November 2): Hopefully the insanity will be stopped slowed down, though possibly replaced with a different kind of insanity. But at least it won't cost us trillions of dollars. One party rule is good for no one.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Song to close out the weekend: "Long Hot Summer Days" by Sara Watkins


Miserable enough out there for you? This song by former Crush Sara Watkins is included on this year's Summer Mix and I think it's one of the best songs to really make you feel the heat of this most wretched season. Also, it reminds me that I really need to check out her work with Nickel Creek.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Crush of the Week: Elizabeth Cook

This week's Crush is country singer/songwriter Elizabeth Cook, whose song "El Camino" I put on my summer mix this year.

Her latest album Welder is a good listen. The great thing about Cook is that she's slick enough for the Power Country crowd (ugh!), but twangy and crass enough to hang with the Outlaw Country boys.

Friday, August 06, 2010

My Summer Mix 2010

Man, it's hot out there. Who's up for some cool tunes?

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Some songs on this year's summer mix aren't available for streaming above, so the rest are here (YouTube links provided when available):

Mates of State - "Second Hand News"
The Sundays - "Summertime"
Brenda Kahn - "Mint Juleps and Needles"
Kate Nash - "Kiss That Grrrl"
Lucky Soul - "Love3"
Madeleine Peyroux - "Was I?"
Dwight Yoakam - "Train in Vain"
Elizabeth Cook - "El Camino"
Merle Haggard - "Mexican Bands"

Other seasonal mixes of mine can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, and Doctor.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Requiem for Dr. Beeper

R.I.P. Dan Resin, 1931-2010.

Caddyshack (and, to a lesser extent, his Ty-D-Bol commercials) made me the man that I am today, so this is a great loss. Heaven will be a nice change from dreary old Manhattan.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Song to close out the weekend: "Release Me" by the Like


I just discovered the Like earlier this week and really like love their latest album, Release Me. Between this acoustic take, the studio version, and a remix (free download!), I must've listened to the title track about 20 times this weekend. Totally infectious.

I wish I would've found out about this band sooner. They would've fit in perfectly on this year's Summer Mix, which I will post shortly.