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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

This Could Never Happen Now: C'etait un Rendevous

On Christmas, I went to my aunt and uncle's house. Now my uncle and my two cousins are huge car enthusiasts, which I must admit I am not. The whole first hour I was there they kept talking about this movie called Rendeveous that my uncle got for Christmas. Finally, they popped it in, and I was blown away. I watched it three more times with them. This is that movie, actually called C'etait un Rendevous. It is a ten-minute film released in 1976 in which the director, Claude LeLouch, strapped a camera onto the front of a Ferrari 275 GTB and drove through Paris at 5 or 6 AM. There is a ton of mythology surrounding the film, which you can read here. Also, I highly recommend seeing it on a large TV with surround sound. It blows this version out of the water. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Why Isn't This A Hit? The Thermals--"Pillar of Salt"

Do you have that favorite song or movie or TV show or book or whatever that everytime you hear/watch/read it you find yourself wondering why it isn't a huge hit? Well, I've decided to to take a look at my personal "should-be hits" and explore why they should be hits and why they are not and then wonder what would happen if they were a hit. Today, I'll start with the song "Pillar of Salt" by The Thermals.



WHY IT SHOULD BE A HIT
Did you just see that? Was that song not catchy as hell? Why isn't that getting played on your town's version of K-Rock or whatever CBS radio is calling your local alternative station? Hell, why isn't it getting played on your local Kiss FM pop station? It's that catchy. Why can't I hear this ANYWHERE, college radio included? I didn't hear this until this past Saturday--even though it came out on August 22--and I'm piping hot mad that I had to go that long without it getting stuck in my head. Do we really need the same Red Hot Chilli Peppers song they've been releasing for the past 8 years instead of this? Seriously? Even the video is fun and engaging. These guys (and gal) are edgy and hipper than me, yeah, but they sure do seem like fun. Hell, I'd even throw a little something into the girl (and maybe the drummer, if only out of sympathy since he doesn't seem to be getting alot of facetime). What the fuck, radio stations? PLAY THIS!

WHY IT ISN'T A HIT
Maybe the Thermals are just a little too edgy, MAN! Or, maybe they just don't want the success and fame and turned down offers to turn them into stars. Or maybe the vague religious allusions in the lyrics rub corporate big-wigs and Average Teenage Consumer (the only people still buying music, really) the wrong way. And it's not even because the lyrics are necessarily anti-religious. I mean, Nine Inch Nails are pretty anti-religion, but they get tons of radio play. I think it's the fact that "Pillar of Salt" doesn't explicitly say anything about religion, but only implies it with the way the words are sung and with the general image the band puts out. Also, I heard about The Thermals and "Pillars of Salt" on hipster blogs, which means that hipsters like the song and The Thermals, and anytime a hipster tells an average Jane or Joe what to listen to, Jane or Joe's natural instinct is to resist. Also, the video is pretty goddamn hipster itself, with the Arrested Development (the TV show, not the rap group) chicken dances thrown it and cameos by the lead singer of the Decemberists and other (likely) hipster icons (I honestly don't know who those other people were).

WHAT IF IT WAS A HIT?
If "Pillar of Salt" were a hit, I'd still love it, but I'd feel guilty about loving it rather than hip because I love it, much the same way I feel guilty about loving Fall Out Boy or My Chemical Romance. Also, while here, in the real universe, I take The Thermals and their image seriously (despite knowing little to nothing about them) and assume that they formed a while ago and have only gotten to "Pillar of Salt" after many lean years on the road. In the alternate universe where "Pillar of Salt" is a huge hit, however, I would assume that The Thermals and their image are huge, prefabricated shams, and that the band formed a month before the release of the song and that each member was chosen based on how they appeal to a certain demographic. Perhaps it's better that the song is not a hit.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Pop Rock 2006: Pissing my brother off with all of the damn emo

Tonight I conclude my Top 20 albums list with a look at my six favorite pop rock records. Enjoy.

6. The Killers—Sam’s Town
This album is actually a little disappointing, but will probably grow on me just like Hot Fuss did (it wasn’t until three months after I bought it that I finally listened to it).
HIGHLIGHT: “Enterlude”/”Exitlude”

"Bones"


5. Snow Patrol—Eyes Open
This album has three of my favorite songs of the year on it: “Hands Open,” “Make This Go On Forever,” “Set Fire To The Third Bar featuring Martha Wainwright,” so, you know, kudos to Snow Patrol. Also, “Chasing Cars” is giving Hinder’s “Lips of An Angel” and Buckcherry’s “Crazy Bitch” a run for their money in the race to be the most played out song of the year.
HIGHLIGHT: “Hands Open”

"Hands Open"


4. Hush Sound—Like Vines
This is a girl/boy piano rock band that adds a refreshing twist to the whole Panic! At the Disco/Fallout Boy genre. Just a real sweet, relaxing listen.
HIGHLIGHT: “We Intertwined”

"Wine Red"


3. Matchbook Romance—Voices
This is my angry album of the year. I don’t know how to explain why this is better than the fifty other bands that sound exactly like this, so I won’t. Sorry.
HIGHLIGHT: “What A Sight”

"Monsters"


2. Taking Back Sunday—Louder Now
If you have liked any one song of this album you may have heard, then you will like this album. Every song sounds like the one you heard.
HIGHLIGHT: “Make Damn Sure”



1. Yellowcard—Lights & Sounds
You may be wondering how I can call myself a blogger (which, by the way, I never do) after naming Yellowcard among my top 20 albums of the year. Aren’t I supposed to be edgy and hip? Shouldn’t Joanna Newsom be on here instead? Well, the fact of the matter is Lights & Sounds is a CD full of singles. Every song could be on the radio. And when I think of pop music, I think of stuff I hear on the radio. Therefore, Lights & Sounds is one of my favorite albums of the year because I like listening to it. It is an enjoyable time. Sure it’s fluff, but sometimes you need a little fluff to stay sane.
HIGHLIGHT: “Sure Thing Falling”

"Rough Landing Holly"

Friday, December 15, 2006

2006 Indie Rock: A lot of new shit that sounds just like the old shit

Tonight the countdown of my top 20 albums of 2006 continues with my 8 favorite indie rock records. These are the albums that I don’t necessarily like all that much but that make me feel cool and important. Enjoy.

8. TV On The Radio—Return To Cookie Mountain

In the May 2005 issue of Esquire, Chuck Klosterman wrote a feature about the best music of the 21st century so far, which you can read here. Number 21 and last on the list was the release Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes by TV On The Radio, an album Klosterman wrote this about:

This is an interesting record. Actually, that's not true. This is a bad record. This is a stupid doo-wop noise-pop record that (on occasion) accidentally sounds like Beck's Midnite Vultures. But you will like this album if you are trying to nail some superhot hipster chick in your office who only sleeps with cool guys.

That pretty much says exactly why Return To Cookie Mountain is among my 20 favorite albums of the year.
HIGHLIGHT: “Province featuring David Bowie”

"Wolf Like Me"


7. Mates of State—Bring It Back
This album somehow sounds minimal and simple despite obviously high production values. Bring It Back takes me to a different time and place where the sun is just emerging after a rain and everyone feels melancholy.
HIGHLIGHT: “Running Out”

"Fraud In The 80s"


6. Silversun Pickups—Carnavas
For readers from the Cleveland area between the ages of 23 and 33, this sounds like something you would have heard on The End. For readers outside the Cleveland area, Silversun Pickups sound like a depressed version of Veruca Salt.
HIGHLIGHT: “Waste It On”

"Well Thought Out Twinkles"



5. The Format—Dog Problems

This sounds like a one-man Broadway show, as the lyrics are very introspective and personal but the musical style and arrangements are quite outlandish.
HIGHLIGHT: “Dog Problems”

"Dog Problems"


4. Cursive—Happy Hollow

This very well could be a concept album about The Wizard of Oz, or it could just be about when you reach that certain age when you must give up on your idealistic dreams and accept the life reality has dealt you.
HIGHLIGHT: “Dorothy At Forty”

"Dorothy At Forty"


3. Cold War Kids—Robbers & Cowards
This is a collection of minimalist songs based in rhythm that tell the tales of drunks, murderers, and other assorted characters.
HIGHLIGHTS: “Saint John” (There's already videos of these guys further down the page, so if you want to see one, scroll down.)

2. Annuals—Be He Me
I had never even heard of these guys until two weeks ago when I heard the angriest DJ ever play them on the shitty John Carol University radio station. Now I can't get enough of them.
HIGHLIGHT: “Brother”/”Dry Clothes” (I had to put these together because A) they blend together perfectly and B)I dream that someday they will be linked together eternally while being played during the mid-day workday rock block on your favorite rock station just like Queen's "We Will Rock You"/"We Are The Champions.")

"Brother"


1. The Sounds—Dying To Say This To You

This album sounds like it was released in 1985. It’s full of heavy synthesizers juxtaposed by snarling vocals. Quite simply, it is awesome.
HIGHLIGHT: “Ego”

"Song With A Mission"

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

2006 Hip Hop: Skateboarding, Top Billing From Far Left, Expected Robots, and Dealing, Using, and Quitting Coke

Tonight I will continue my year-in-review with the first installment of the rundown of my 20 favorite albums of 2006. There’s kind of an odd mix, with some relatively obscure bands mixed with some rather mainstream bands (which, if you look at most year end lists, equals shitty bands) mixed with more hip-hop than I realized. Today, I’ll begin with the hip-hop. Let the LISTING begin!

6. Lupe Fiasco—Food & Liquor
Lupe Fiasco raps about things 90 percent of other rappers would never rap about. For example, skateboarding.
HIGHLIGHT: “Kick, Push”

"Daydreamin' featuring Jill Scott"


5. Spank Rock—YoYoYoYoYo
This album is all over the place, with the most disjointed, oddly arranged beats you’ll hear on a record this year matched with rambling lyrics that don’t really make any sense at all. Somehow, this mess comes together to form a blast of a record.
HIGHLIGHT: “Sweet Talk”

"Rick Rubin"


4. Cut Chemist—The Audience’s Listening
Besides having the most awkward title ever (they couldn’t have just gone with The Audience Is Listening?), this album barely qualifies as hip-hop. It’s really just a collection of wordless songs made by some DJ. I guess you could rap over them--as in the track "What's the Altitude"--so I’ll throw it under hip-hop. Regardless of its classification, The Audience’s Listening is a good listen.
HIGHLIGHT: “(My 1st) Big Break”

"What's the Altitude featuring Hymnal"


3. Clipse—Hell Hath No Fury
The best album this year about dealing crack, and, although I don’t know this for certain, I’m sure there was a lot of competition (hell, Spank Rock might be about slinging the rock).
HIGHLIGHT: “Trill”

"Mr. Me Too featuring Pharrell"


2. Ghostface Killah—Fishscale
I learned recently that “fishscale” is a term used to describe the highest grade cocaine since the coke glistens like fish scales. The title fits, then, because this is the year’s best album about doing coke.
HIGHLIGHT: “Be Easy”

"Back Like That"


1. The Streets—The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living
Not only the best album put out by a white British rapper this year, but also the best album about quitting coke, thus completing the entire coke pyramid of my top three hip-hop albums.
HIGHLIGHT: “All Goes Out the Window”

"Prangin' Out"

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Diminishing Skills Music Video Hall of Fame: Tuesday Two-fer!

Since I haven't updated this shit for a good solid month, I decided to induct two lucky bands into the Diminishing Skills Music Video Hall of Fame. At least they both have a golf theme to them. The first is Dynamite Hack's awesome rendition of Easy-E's "Boyz In The Hood." The second is the Spike Jonez directed Dinosaur, Jr. video "Feel The Pain." Enjoy.



Who the hell are Boys Like Girls and why are they the fourth most played song I own? 2006 Top 25 Songs

The first in a series of year-in-review posts, today's post looks at the top 25 most played songs in my iTunes library for the year 2006. Well, not of the year, since I reset my library on November 4, but it’s probably better that way since my previous top 25 had all Panic at the Disco at the top, by a landslide (we’re talking almost 60 more plays than any other song), since I passed out drunk one night with the album on repeat and forgot about it until 2 or 3 days later. Anyways, without further ado, here they are!

1. Dropkick Murphy’s—“I’m Shipping Up To Boston”

Only because it is on The Departed soundtrack and I like to listen to it and pretend that I’m undercover and on my way to the docks for a big arms deal.




2. Weezer—“Only In Dreams”

Kind of a fluke that it’s number 2, but deserving, as it is probably my second favorite Weezer song (with “Say It Ain’t So” being number one).




3. AFI—“The Killing Light”

A good enough song, but I’m pretty sure the only thing I really, really like about it is the “OH!” the lead singer yelps at the beginning (which he seems to do in every other AFI song, which would mean that I like every other AFI song, which sounds exactly right). (Note: This obviously isn't the video for this song, but you can at least here it and it actually looks pretty cool.)




4. Boys Like Girls—“Hells Over Head”

A result of shuffle: I didn’t even know what this song sounded like until I played it so I could write about it. Now that I’ve heard it, I’m embarrassed that it’s my number 4 most played song. These guys sound like a pussified version of All-American Rejects, and those guys are huge pussies.

5. Carpark North—“Best Day”

Great song. Sounds like one of those gay 80s songs that you listen to while you put your dick between your legs and pretend you’re Jame Gum from Silence of the Lambs.




6. Cold War Kids—“Saint John”

Currently my favorite song. This is the first of five songs by these guys in the Top 25. I only hope that their luster doesn’t wear off like the Raconteurs did (and boy, am I fucking sick of the Raconteurs).




7. Cursive—“Dorothy Dreams of Tornadoes”

Another recent fave of mine. These guys are kind of ska-ish, but just when it’s about to become obnoxious, they tone the horns and other bullshit way down and just make good rock music. I’m definitely digging Cursive.




8. Fall Out Boy—“Dance, Dance”

The only song to be in both the pre- and post-reset Top 25.




9. Alien Ant Farm—“Forgive & Forget”

Alien Ant Farm is weird in that all of their songs sound the same, and most of their songs annoy me, but three or four of them I can listen to at anytime in anyplace. This is one of the latter.


Alien Ant Farm - Forgive & Forget

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10. Bloodhound Gang—“Uhn Tiss Uhn Tiss Uhn Tiss”

You’re not going to find a song with more phallic references than this. “Watch my banana split go straight to your thighs.” Oh my, the innuendo!




11. Cold War Kids--“Hang Me Up To Dry”



Hang me up to dry

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12. Cold War Kids—“Red Wine, Success!”

Believe me, you need to give the Cold War Kids a listen.



13. Cute Is What We Aim For—“There’s A Class For This”

Sometimes I think I’m a thirteen year-old girl, because I am a sucker for catchy pop punk songs.




14. Fall Out Boy—“Of All The Gin Joints In All The Towns”

The first thing that drew me to Fall Out Boy was the insane titles of the songs. At first, I was hoping that this song would actually be about Casablanca. Alas, it instead has something to do with a girl and how she doesn’t like the lead singer, just like every other Fall Out Boy song.

15. The Killers—“Enterlude”

I don’t know what it says about a record when my two favorite tracks off of it are the intro and the outro.




16. The Kooks—“Ooh La”

A decent song to chill out to, but nothing spectacular.




17. Lupe Fiasco—“Kick, Push”

Probably my favorite rap song of the year. Who ever though they’d see the day when a legitimate MC rapped about skateboarding?




18. Black Keys—“10 AM Automatic”

These guys are from Akron, and I’ve heard about them since forever ago, but I’d never heard them until this year. I dig the shit out of them, but if you’re gonna buy one of their albums, just buy one since every song sounds exactly like this.




19. Clipse—“Keys Open Doors”

20. Clipse—“Ain’t Cha featuring The Re-Up Gang”
A late addition to the year’s musical offerings, but the Clipse’s “Hell Hath No Fury” sounds like the best rap album of the year.

21. Braund Reynolds—“Rocket (A Natural Gambler)”

A stupid ass club song that just gets my feet movin’!




22. Coheed and Cambria—“Devil In New Jersey”

I drank way more than any person should for almost a year straight, and the result is that I really liked Coheed and Cambria for awhile. In hindsight, I have to wonder why.

23. Cold War Kids—“Tell Me In The Morning”

24. Cold War Kids—“Hair Down”

25. Daft Punk—“One More Time”

The classic French robot club groove.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Arrested Development: "C'mon!"

Gob Bluth and his increasingly expensive suits. C'mon!

Carpet Cleaning Thought: Alzheimer's and blogging

My job at times entails performing carpet cleaning services. Carpet cleaning, for those who have never done it, is a monotonous, boring, repetitive task. Once you get the hang of it, you can just kind of wander into your own mind and think about whatever the hell you want. This is one of those thoughts.

THE MOST UPDATED BLOG EVER

I was thinking, today, as I was cleaning carpet, that blogging may be an effective way to help people with Alzheimer’s. I figured that any old gal or chap could constantly just read what they had posted to remind themselves of who they were and what was going on around them. I considered myself quite a social dynamo, and felt that I had solved a terrible, terrible problem.

Upon further reflection, however, I have decided that I am an idiot. For the first three to ten posts, yes, this idea may work. Beyond that, however, the person would have to start reposting the first post to remind him or herself what he or she had just read or typed. This would create a cycle of at most 10 posts, but that number would decrease to fractions of posts as the Alzheimer’s got more severe. And then there’s the fact that the person would have to constantly stay on at the site since they would forget to go back to the computer if they left. So, this obviously wouldn’t work for the victim of the disease. But then I started wondering if the blog of an Alzheimer’s patient would be interesting and if I would read it. I’d probably give it a glance over once, because it would be interesting, but then would regret it because of how goddamn depressing it would be to actually see someone’s mind deteriorate until the point of mush, until all I’d be reading is three unrelated words posted over and over again. Thanks, but no thanks.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Unbelievable NBA Game

I'm a little late on this one, I know. But here's some highlights from Thursday's amazing Nets-Suns game. Enjoy.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Apocalypto: Making Old Feel New



I have concluded, just recently (and by recently I mean as I am typing this sentence), that every conceivable idea for a story has been told. Well, that’s not entirely true, but just about every story that a movie could tell has been told. For example, my five favorite movies of 2006 were either remakes (The Departed), film adaptations of a TV show (Miami Vice), had no story at all (Jackass II, Borat), or, like the fifth, Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto, is a story we’ve all heard several times before. Have you ever seen Braveheart? How about Gladiator? Have you ever seen any movie in which the protagonist must overcome great odds to avenge the death of loved ones while set within an historically important time period? Yes? Well, then you’ll be familiar with the plot of Apocalypto. Gibson, however, has taken that story—a story that he himself has already told—and made it something completely new. Because of the language (Yucatec, I believe), the imagery, and the context, never once does Apocalypto feel rehashed. On the contrary, Gibson has created an experience that is quite refreshing, a stunning accomplishment considering the amount of death, violence, and gore within the film. In short, I loved it, and amazingly consider it even better than The Departed. Will you like it? Here are a few quick points to help you decide if Apocolypto is for you.

• I’ll say it again: this movie is gory. It’s not quite as bad as Passion of the Christ, but it still has more gore than 95 percent of all movies. Within the right context—such as this film and Kill Bill— the gore is not only welcome, but necessary. If you’re squeamish or need religious justification behind your blood and violence, however, Apocalypto may not be for you.
• Speaking of Passion of the Christ, I hated that fucking movie. I have to make my apologies to War of the Worlds, which I have often cited as the worst movie I have ever seen in a theater. Passion is by far worse. Nothing happens in that movie but a man getting beaten and ripped apart in terribly gruesome ways. If you doubt that he literally resurrected, as I do, then it makes the whole movie a waste of time and all of that suffering pointless. And without justification, the only way the gore works for me is if it has humor in it, but, alas, the death of our Lord and Savior is something few people--Gibson included--find humor in. In fact, if the movie were the exact same but were about Joe Roman instead of Jesus Christ, I firmly believe it would be panned as one of the worst movies ever made. Now, if you agree with me even partly, and hold a grudge against Mel Gibson for that movie or for his personal beliefs regarding Catholicism or Judaism, don’t let it keep you from going to see Apocalypto. The only holdover from Passion is the gore, but as I stated earlier, it is welcome and necessary. One could even argue that Apocalypto comes off as anti-religion (although I’m not sure if that sentiment is intended) and anti-imperialism (which would seem to jive against the idea that Gibson is a red state hero). If anything, Apocalypto paints Gibson as a true renegade maverick of Hollywood who is as gifted a director as he is a crazy bigot.
• The movie does have subtitles, but there isn’t much being said (in a quantity sense, not a quality one), so that shouldn’t be a detriment. Having the movie in a foreign language is a big help to the atmosphere, as well, and the language itself actually sounds pretty sweet.
• I’m still undecided on the animal scenes. On the one hand, the scenes provide a glimpse at how wild the wilderness still was back then and are another very unique addition to the historical epic genre. On the other hand, the animal models are pretty goddamn fake-looking.
• The movie is nearly 2 ½ hours long, but it never feels like it. The action moves swiftly, and Gibson never allows the movie to rest in one setting for too long. In fact, it will probably be the quickest 2 ½ hours you’ll ever spend doing anything (other than sleeping, of course). Unlike other epics—classics like Gladiator and Braveheart included—Apocalypto never slows down or drags. Perhaps it will upon another viewing, but, honestly, the setting and sounds and people are so fresh that every scene, even if it’s something as clich├ęd as a father-son counseling session (of which there are two in Apocalypto), feels like something you’ve never seen before. I know I was going to list things so you could decide if you want to see this for yourself, but fuck you. You don’t know what you should be watching. I’m telling you, go see this and skip the retarded-ass Unattended Minors you were going to see instead. Until next time, don’t make anymore animated films number one at the box-office!


"Macho Man" Randy Savage & Hulk Hogan in...Pro Wrestling Insanity!

For the first post of the RETOOLING, I've decided to go away from the sporting world by featuring a clip from a fake sport. Seriously, there is too much of this steroid-(and probably coke)fueled madness on YouTube to ignore. This first clip features the forming of the Mega Powers, a tag team that changed the world. (You probably don't remember the ramifications of this union of madness and mania because the history books we are taught out of were all published under the influence of the vile Heenan family conglomerate. If you know what I'm talking about, I'm sorry that both of our lives have led us to, in my case, make, and, in your case, understand, that terrible, terrible joke.)

A Tool Re-Tools


It's been awhile since the last post, but I've gone through valid and important changes. I no longer want to write about just sports, but also other things. Since no one reads this, I suppose there isn't going to be a huge uproar over this shift in content and mission. Good. The RE-TOOLING begins this week.