Friday, February 29, 2008

Read 'em and weep

Those are the sloppy, unreadable handwritten pages of my now-completed saying story, "Stealing Signs." This one's in the bag, kiddies.

Jesus, I have a lot of typing to do before midnight.

Now playing: David Bowie - Suffragette City
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

This post is a perfect example of why I can't manage to get any writing done in my house

I just redid the Links section of this here blog, which you can see down there on the right. Great websites, all.

And damn Tycho to hell -- I read about Garfield Minus Garfield in someone else's blog post yesterday, but he got around to hyping it before I got a chance. Bastard!

In addition to buying the new Beth Kinderman album, this weekend will probably also find me purchasing the Lost video game. As previously discussed, I simply cannot help myself: I am a Lost whore. Nothing can be done.

I just remembered that I bought Stephen King's Duma Key, like, two weeks ago, and haven't really started reading it yet. I'll get to it. Some day.

Is that enough procrastination for you? Can I actually get some work done now?

*shakes Magic 8-ball*

Very doubtful.


Now playing: Dave Matthews Band - Cornbread
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Typical situation

A timeline of this afternoon:

1:30 PM. Returned home from Job Number Two. Checked e-mail, checked my RSS reader for website updates. Decided to work on my short-story-in-progress, "Stealing Signs."

1:45 PM. No work done.

2:15 PM. No work done.

2:25 PM. No work done.

2:35 PM. Did some mild reorganizing of my 100 Favorite Albums list, worked on a new version of my 100 favorite songs list, read the Wikipedia articles on a few Modest Mouse albums. Designed an awesome Modest Mouse playlist for my iPod. No words written on the short story.

2:45 PM. Grabbed my notebook, left the house. Went to Village Pizza and Seafood. Ordered a sandwich and some onion rings. Alone, with no distractions, wrote three pages in fifteen minutes.

Same as it ever was. My apartment is the enemy of productivity.

Now playing: Modest Mouse - The Stars Are Projectors
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Weekly iPod Shuffle: 2/24/08

Good lord, I took a bath on my Oscar predictions. I got the Screenplay awards, Supporting Actor, Actor, Director and Picture. In other words, the easy ones. I took a bath on everything else. There Will Be Blood didn't win Picture or Director, of course, but yay for the Coens! Enjoy those Oscars you should've won for Fargo! (No Country for Old Men just wasn't the best movie of the year. It was the second-best, which is closer than the Academy usually gets. So good for them.)


1. "Your Woman," White Town
Wow, who even remembers this song? I've though of making a new list -- 15 Songs That Will Always Remind Me of High School -- and this quirky little track would certainly make the cut. It was originally released on an EP titled Abort, Retry, Fail?, 'cause I guess DOS references were hip among the French techno scene in 1996. (****)

2. "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant," Billy Joel
His best song, from his best album, The Stranger. My appreciation for Billy Joel is something else I get from my mom -- my eyes, my irritable nature, and Billy Joel. Two of these are good, at least. (*****)

3. "Mercy Street," Peter Gabriel
Oh, and Peter Gabriel -- I get that from her, too. This is an absolutely gorgeous song -- it's up there with "Warehouse" and "The Unforgiven" for me, and it's one I could listen to forever. The music is dark and hushed, Gabriel's intricate harmonies gliding over a pulsing bass line; the air of sorrow and dread is carried with little percussion, aside from a few bells and a bass drum. But after he sings of "mercy, in your daddy's arms again," there is a respite from the darkness: a whistle, haunting and beautiful, cuts through the gloom like a flashlight. He wrote the song in tribute to Anne Sexton, the late poet; oddly enough, Dave Matthews wrote one of his best songs, "Grey Street," about her, too. (*****)

4. "Fever Dog," Stillwater
If you've never seen Almost Famous, I really don't know what you've been doing with your life. "I am a golden god!" (*****)

5. "What'd I Say?" Ray Charles
You know what sucks? When I was growing up, the only thing Ray Charles was to me was the guy who sang in Diet Pepsi commercials: "You got the right one, baby -- uh huh!" This is why I cringe every time I hear the Who or Led Zeppelin or, Prophets save us, the Beatles in television commercials -- there are children who are going to grow up hearing "Rock and Roll" and think, "car commercial!" That is so very, very sad. (*****)

6. "Into the Mystic [live]," Van Morrison
Van the Man goes all kinds of crazy on the timing of the vocal here, as if he's trying to screw the song up. But you know what? Some songs are just too good to ruin. (Except, probably, by YouTube covers. I learned my lesson with "Across the Universe.") (****)

7. "She's Electric," Oasis
Sample lyric: "She's got a sister / And God only knows how I've missed her / And on the palm of her hand is a blister." If Noel Gallagher took longer than five minutes to write this song, he should be ashamed of himself. It's pretty catchy, though. (****)

8. "Good Time," Leroy
You may recall this from an early episode of Scrubs. I don't know who Leroy is, but his song isn't bad. (****)

9. "From a Buick 6," Bob Dylan
Not to be confused with From a Buick 8, the mediocre Stephen King novel. (****)

10. "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters," Elton John
Also prominently featured in Almost Famous, which is one of the best movies ever made -- seriously, what are you doing, go watch it already. (*****)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Be Kind Rewind (review...not really)

In thinking about Be Kind Rewind, the new Mos Def/Jack Black comedy, I find myself in a conundrum. I loved the film's premise. I liked the visuals. And I adored the emotional resonance director Michel Gondry found in the amateurish, homemade film making. But the movie itself was overlong and narratively confused, often unfunny, and pretty boring. Thumbs in the middle, I guess?

Anyone familiar with my -- ahem -- "filmography" might see some similarities in the mini-movies found in Be Kind. Imagine if we'd shot Atom Smashers 3: The Return of the Noble Gas in its entirety, with a straight face: that's what happens to several classic films here, as a ludicrous accident wipes out the entire library of a small video store and its proprietors are forced to make their own stock to appease their customers. Those customers, of course, love the charming remakes, and more movies are demanded.

And it's important to that emotional resonance to understand why they love the remakes. It's not that they're too stupid to see the difference between them and Hollywood films, or that Hollywood films are so awful that the difference is minimal -- Gondry thankfully avoids either of those missteps. And it certainly isn't because they manage to duplicate the technical wizardry of the originals. The "swedes" (their term for the remakes) are enjoyable precisely because they lack that technical wizardry -- the lack of skill and resources make the film making process itself undeniably fun. And as the swedes grow more popular, and more and more people from the community join in to make them, the films become intensely communal. Their enjoyment is only partly from the film itself -- the rest is reminiscing on the fun one had making it. And that's the part of Be Kind Rewind that got to me.

Yes, I still think Shades 0 is funny on its own...but I really love it because of how much fun it was to shoot. I could describe "Sixteenth Specimen" as "rancid, incompetent crap" (and would be generous in doing so), but I still love watching it. I still have a video of a "wrestling" match between Stephen and me that I could watch for days -- you think because of the skillful wrestling? Hardly. In its sweded mini-movies, Be Kind Rewind celebrates the very art of filmmaking, and how much fun the simple act of, well, acting can be.

Which filled me with joy, and nostalgia. And, well, guilt. I thought of the movies we made -- and of the movies we didn't make. There were lots and lots of ideas, of course. But none of them got off the ground because My steadfast insistence on quality and competence. And why? I mean, it's not like Exposure (who remembers Exposure? anyone?) was going to Sundance. We weren't competing for friggin' Oscars here -- I tricked myself into thinking I was Orson Welles and gave up on too many ideas simply because they wouldn't have been perfect.

Unfortunately, the actual movie of Be Kind Rewind isn't that successful. It takes far too long to get to its point, and the rest of it is weighed down by a hokey plot ripped off from, oh, I don't know, forty movies off the top of my head ("If we don't raise [amount of money] by [arbitrary deadline], the city is going to demolish our old but charming building that has important historical relevance to the community!"). But I'll be damned if the final scene isn't a wonder, as the entire town gathers to watch the final sweded film -- an original, no less, finished mere moments before screening.

That's not much a review, I know. But, honestly, Be Kind Rewind isn't that much of a movie. I certainly don't recommend anyone actually go out and see it.

Now if you'll excuse me, I think it's been too long since I've watched Shades 0 again.

Now playing: Oasis - D'You Know What I Mean?
via FoxyTunes

Friday, February 22, 2008

Jumping off the board without checking for water: I predict the Oscars

It's been well-established that I am remarkably dense when it comes to predicting anything, especially the Academy Awards. But what the hell? I like doing it. On Sunday, we'll see just how incompetent I really am. Plus, this gives me a chance to bitch about some of the snubbed non-nominees -- though really, the Academy did an awesome job this year. This is the first time I can remember that I didn't have a problem with any of the Best Picture nominees.

On with it!

Best Picture
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
(will win)
There Will Be Blood (should win)

The Academy screwed over Fargo, and everyone remembers. The Coens' return to form is a perfect place to make up for it. Too bad for P.T.A., but I don't hold any illusions that he'll ever win anything. He's just too fucking weird.

Where the fuck is... Zodiac. It feels like that came out three years ago, but it was only March. Too long, I guess, for the Academy.

Best Director
Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood (should win)
Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men (will win)
Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton
Jason Reitman, Juno
Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

See previous statements regarding the Coens and Paul Thomas Anderson.

Where the fuck is... Joe Wright, Atonement. Seriously -- what the hell? Did you guys watch the same movie I did? Did you get up and go to the bathroom during that scene in Dunkirk? The first truly depressing missed nomination.

Best Actress
Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie, Away from Her (will win)
Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose
Laura Linney, The Savages
Ellen Page, Juno (should win)

Ellen Page is wondrous as Juno's title character and deserves the win, but I wouldn't worry: judging from her work to date, this won't be her last invitation to the dance. Julie Christie is racking up every precursor award in sight, and the Academy won't disagree with the crowd.

Where the fuck is... Keira Knightley, Atonement. Though, really, I'm fine with the list as-is.

Best Actor
George Clooney, Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood (will win) (should win)
Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd
Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah
Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises

Blood is a mean, savage character study of a mean, savage man, and Daniel Day-Lewis practically sets the theater on fire with his intensity. The baptism scene -- "I abandoned my child!" -- is flat-out mesmerizing. One of the greatest screen performances. Ever.

Where the fuck is... James McAvoy, Atonement. That's two truly depressing snubs. There are more, of course.

Best Supporting Actress
Cate Blanchett, I'm Not There
Ruby Dee, American Gangster (will win)
Saoirse Ronan, Atonement (should win)
Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

Where the fuck is... Imelda Staunton, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. She managed to be scarier than all the other villains combined -- such a dark, murky film, and the greatest terror of all hides behind fluffy kittens and a pink sweater.

Best Supporting Actor
Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men (will win) (should win)
Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson's War
Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton

Oooh, this is a tough one, as Bardem, Hoffman, and (especially) Wilkinson are terrific. But Bardem owns No Country; it's him you remember after the credits roll.

Where the fuck is... Paul Dano, There Will Be Blood. It would take a miraculous effort indeed to stand up to Daniel Day-Lewis's inferno, and Dano does that and more. Depressing snub number three, and this one really hurts.

Best Original Screenplay
Juno (will win)
Lars and the Real Girl
Michael Clayton
(should win)
The Savages

The script for Juno is a gem, though it is overly cute once in a while ("homeskillet"?). Michael Clayton is the real winner here, for its crackling dialogue and genius structure.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Away from Her
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
No Country for Old Men
(will win) (should win)
There Will Be Blood

Blood is a thunderous motion picture, but its true power lies in its visuals and performances. From what I understand, the script for No Country is lifted practically word-for-word from Cormac McCarthy's novel, and it works in spades.

Where the fuck is... Charlie Wilson's War. But then, I'm an Aaron Sorkin mark, as I've previously discussed.

Those are the important awards, anyway. I'll be back tomorrow with the rest of them.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Apparently, the new Star Trek movie has been pushed back... all the way to next May. This blows.

That is all.

Now playing: Jim Rome - Thu, February 21st, 2008 Hour 1
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Weekly iPod Shuffle: 2/17/08

The feedback on Revolver so far is "good, but not the best," which was my feeling as well. For those who share in my obsession with enumeration and list-making, I just finished putting the finishing touches on my list of the 25 best songs of 2007; I'm working on Oscar thoughts and predictions. And also a new short story, "Stealing Signs," which will be done before the end of the month.

Anyway -- on with the shuffle.

1. "Jungleland," Bruce Springsteen
Stephen King quotes from this song extensively at the beginning of his masterwork, The Stand. This is the closing track from Born to Run, Bruce's own masterwork. There is some meaning there, but I don't know what is. (*****)

2. "Between the Bars," Elliott Smith
Probably my favorite Elliott Smith song. I cannot for the life of me understand his voice -- I try singing along to this song (or any of his songs), and I end up singing way, way too loud. It's barely a whisper, really. And yet it carries so well. (*****)

3. "Silver Street," Ben Folds
A track from Ben Folds Live. It's a fantastic song, so I'm unsure why it's never wound up on an album (or even one of his iTunes EPs). But then, it's so perfectly realized here that a studio version would be superfluous. It features some of Ben's best piano. (*****)

4. "A Day in the Life," The Beatles
The finale, of course, to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which is often declared the best album of all time. It's not -- in my opinion, it's only the fourth best Beatles album, forget the best of all time -- but "A Day in the Life" is good enough that I'm willing to concede the hype. And obviously you know that the line "He blew his mind out in a car" is a reference to the death of the real Paul, who was replaced with a lookalike during the recording of this record, right? (*****)

5. "Montreal," The Tragically Hip
This is actually a live bootleg -- another fantastic song that the creators have chosen not to include on any of their records. It's about a real incident in the late eighties, when a crazed gunman stormed into a college in Montreal, separated the men from the women, and began shooting the girls. 14 were killed, and thirteen others wounded before the maniac killed himself. Gord -- who introduces the song by calling it "a song about the identification process" -- eulogizes one of these victims: "She used to like lavender pantsuits, long black velvet gloves/Smiles across crowded rooms to the only boy she ever loved." The chorus then follows with one of the most devastating images I've ever heard in song: "Don't you worry/Her mother's gonna make her look good/Don't you worry/Her father's gonna make her look good." Try as he might, the killer can't take away her beauty. And Gord laments the tragedy, and all those dead "Because a coward won't die alone." The Hip have performed this song exactly once in the last seventeen years; I don't blame them, frankly. (*****)

6. "Best Week Never," Patton Oswalt
A piece of stand-up from his superb album, Werewolves and Lollipops. He describes his firing from the staff VH1's Best Week Ever, thanks to his viciousness toward Paris Hilton: "If she could get cancer of the AIDS of the leukemia of the eyes, that would make me happy." (*****)

7. "Carouselambra," Led Zeppelin
From Zep's much-maligned "Hey, let's sound exactly like Genesis!" phase, which lasted all of one album. Unfortunately, it was their last, as John Bonham died (choking on his own vomit after imbibing a small lake's worth of vodka, naturally) and band called it quits. The song is great, actually, but then -- I like Genesis. (*****)

8. "Cleanin' out My Closet," Eminem
I think one could make a strong case that this was the last great burst of creativity we'd get from Em before his flameout. It's certainly up there with his best work, and the best of hip hop anywhere -- very few rappers can work up the emotion that vibrates through every beat here. I remember listening to this song on the radio with my mother once; she said, "So, he hates his mom?" I confirmed her interpretation, and explained Em's extensive mom-hating discography. "And by 'cleanin' out my closet,' he means he's leaving her behind and moving on without her?" I concurred, and my mom -- who had her own problems with her mother -- just scoffed. "If it was only that easy." (*****)

9. "Where the Wild Things Are," Metallica
Steve and I had the entire Reload album memorized. I don't mean the words -- I mean everything. Together, the two of us could've hummed and air-drummed the entire record without accompaniment. And the centerpiece of our front-seat concert performances was always "Where the Wild Things Are," which features killer harmonies and a slick two-part vocal bridge. Singing alone in my car, the song just doesn't sound right. (*****)

10. "Angel, Won't You Call Me?" The Decemberists
Uh-oh! Look who it is! Eh -- I'll spare you the commercial. I'm in a good mood. (*****)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

That's one way to do it, I suppose

I braved the rain and general poor conditions this morning to run an important errand: I went to the bank and deposited the large stack of cash I've been storing next to my computer monitor over the past couple of weeks. Now, "large" is relative in this case: it amounted to about $150. Since half of them were ones, though, the stack was certainly tall.

After depositing the money, I made two more financial actions within five minutes: I used my cell phone to pay my cable/internet bill, and then got some gas at the Wal-Mart gas station. Afterwards, I decided to pick up some lunch, and traveled to Sonic. Before ordering, I wanted to check how much money I had left in my bank account, and so called up the automated service line.

By my mental calculations, I knew there would four pending transactions:
  1. $1.03, for a song I purchased on iTunes yesterday. (The new Counting Crows single, "You Can't Count on Me," which is phenomenal.)
  2. The $154 deposit I just made.
  3. The $149 cable/internet bill.
  4. The $5.32 in gas I just bought. (It would've been $5 flat, but I got distracted for a second and went over. And when gas is pushing two-eighty, the numbers move pretty quickly.)
But the kind robot voice on the telephone told me I had five pending transactions. Puzzled, I asked the computer to list them. The Counting Crows; the deposit; the bill. Then...

"Card transaction -- debit -- $75.00."

What the hell? What seventy-five dollars? But then...

"Card transaction -- credit -- $69.68."

Um, what?

I thought about that for a good three or four minutes before I did the subtraction and realized the difference: $5.32. The amount I paid for gas.

Wal-Mart decided that instead of simply charging me for what I bought, they would take fifteen times as much, then immediately credit back the rest. I can't think of a convincing reason why it should be this way.

Now playing: Van Morrison - Ain't Nothin' You Can Do
via FoxyTunes

Friday, February 15, 2008

Damn you, Google!

As promised, the new episode of That's When I Reach for My Revolver is up. The title changed again, as you see. It's a good thing I let it sit for a few days, too -- upon further review, I found I'd neglected to include an entire character's plot. Oops. This was corrected, and the word count expanded well beyond my original goal. Uh, yay, I s'pose.

Unfortunately, as you'll notice if you head over there, I can't publish the episode directly to the blog. I wrote in Word, see, then uploaded it to Google Documents, thinking I could publish it straight to the blog from there. And I can, except for two problems: 1) the episode is apparently too long, and Google Docs simply no-sells my publishing attempts; and 2) even if it did work, a shorter test post proved that it would jack my formatting all to hell.

So, instead, I just posted it as a separate document via Google Docs, as I did with "The Great Decree." I hope this doesn't upset anyone too much.

A few notes. At one point, the stage directions call for the song "Thirty-three" by Smashing Pumpkins. If you have this song on your computer, by all means play it when it comes up. If not, you can play this video in another browser window.

You may remember me talking about a Revolver short story, which I started and abandoned. I threw it out because most of it was simply an excuse to tell one simple anecdote about Patrick and Rebecca, and that was the only part I cared about. Well, look no further: that anecdote is the one Rebecca tells Angela in scene three. And no, it's not in part inspired by an actual event in the author's life, how silly of you to think that.

I think that's it. Any questions or comments, you know where to find me. In the meantime, enjoy the episode. If you like it, tell your friends. Also, if you like it, tell me. I like feedback.

And when you're done, here's the one and only Van Morrison. No one has a good video of "Astral Weeks," so here's a rather boisterous live version of "Cyprus Avenue," which is on the same album.

Now playing: Van Morrison - Astral Weeks
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, February 10, 2008

You can write, but you can't edit

Well, would you look at that -- the eleventh episode of Revolver is done.

I haven't uploaded it yet, so don't bother looking for it. I wrote the last half very, very quickly (a good chunk of it by hand while sitting at Brake Check), and I've decided to let it sit for a few days, then go over it to make sure it's restaurant-quality.

The finished episode will be presented to you, the viewing public, on Thursday night/Friday morning. This is a promise, friends. The title I've settled on is "Synchronicity I," but this could change six or seven times before you see it.

And thank you for your help, Regina. It was greatly appreciated.

Now playing: The Mars Volta - Miranda, That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore
via FoxyTunes

Weekly iPod Shuffle: 2/10/08

First off, a side note: Kanye West just lost Album of the Year again. I'm starting to think it's personal. Die in a fire, Grammy voters. Anyway.

1. "Don't Cry [Original Version]," Guns N' Roses
As opposed to the "Alternate Lyrics" version, which appears on Use Your Illusion II. Neither version boasts particularly deep lyrics, and no one is really quite sure why we needed two of them. Of course, we're talking about the Use Your Illusion records, and no one is really quite sure why we needed two of them, either. This track features the late Shannon Hoon on backing vocals. You may remember him as the front man for Blind Melon; prior to that band hitting it big, he hung out with Axl in the studio and ended up both on this song and in the video. A writer with less integrity would draw a straight line between working with Guns N' Roses and dying of a heroin overdose four years later. I am not that writer. (****)

2. "God's Song (That's Why I Love Mankind)," Randy Newman
You may know Randy Newman from his various soundtrack work -- Toy Story, Toy Story 2, etc. If that's the only place you know him from, you'll be in for quite a shock if you listen to his other material. Behind "You've Got a Friend in Me" is a razor-sharp wit and a fearless lyrical mind, and his songs are as brilliant as they are hilarious. In this one, he rails against religious devotees, casting God as an acerbic malefactor smirking at the prayers he receives from his creations even as he torments them. Shocking this hasn't wound up in a Disney film, huh? (*****)

3. "The Tain," The Decemberists
Are you sick of me talking about the Decemberists yet? Hope not. This eighteen-and-a-half minute opus plays like Jethro Tull covering Black Sabbath, and is one of the band's best achievements. It's based on a tale from Irish mythology, which isn't surprising considering what band we're talking about. For my money, it rarely gets much better than Colin Meloy groaning "Your hands and face are smeared with bloo-oooh-ooooood...." Seriously, I'm not going to stop until all of you love this band. So get cracking. (*****)

4. "The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine," Spoon
It's never been mentioned in-text (on-stage?) in Revolver, but Michael's last name is Valentine. This has nothing at all to do with this phenomenal song, nope, no sir, no way. It is mentioned in the episode I just finished writing, however, that Rebecca's novel-in-progress is called The Stranger Dance -- that does have to do with this song, and she says as much. It'd be nice for me if everyone liked Spoon, too. (*****)

5. "Half the World Away," Oasis
Hmm. This song also features in the upcoming Revolver episode, and my computer is starting to scare the shit out of me. It's Oasis's best song, incidentally. Apparently, it was also the theme to a British sitcom I've never heard of called The Royle Family. According to Wikipedia, the show took place almost entirely in a single room -- the living room of the family's house. The episodes rarely featured a plot, instead focusing on the conversations of the inhabitants. The jokes stem from "awkwardness" and "badly told jokes." And "crassness," most of which apparently comes from a single character. [looks at Revolver script] Hmm. (*****)

6. "I Know," Fiona Apple
Thankfully, this song has nothing to do with Revolver. At least, not yet. It is one of my favorite Fiona tracks, and one of her most sad. It's a love song, but not a happy one; Fiona's lover is so wrapped up in himself and his own problems and that he can't even acknowledge his feelings for her. So she gives up -- not on him, but on winning, and instead vows to simply wait for him to resolve his issues and wake the fuck up. The tempo is only slightly above "dirge," and Fiona's voice is in rare form. "So for the time being, I'm being patient... / And when the crowd becomes your burden / And you've early closed your curtain / I will wait by the backstage door / While you try to find the lines to speak to your mind / And pry it open, hoping for an encore / And if it gets too late for me to wait / For you to find you love me, and tell me so / It's okay: don't need to say it...." The end of that sentiment -- "I know" -- goes unspoken, which makes the whole thing even more heartbreaking: she sounds so defeated. Actually, maybe it does have something to do with Revolver, now that I think of it. Just not this particular episode. (*****)

7. "Stuck in the Middle with You," Stealer's Wheel
I'm not the only one who can't hear this song without thinking about Reservoir Dogs, right? Didn't think so. (****)

8. "Big Pimpin'," Jay-Z
Am I only one delighted to see Jay-Z not win Record of the Year for that awful "Umbrella" song he did with, uh, whatever her names is? Didn't think so. (*****)

9. "Excuse Me," Peter Gabriel
Pete thought it would be a good idea to cram this barbershop quartet-esque piece into the middle of his debut solo album. It is, because the song is great, but to say it sounds out of place would be an understatement. Have I mentioned before that Peter Gabriel is crazy? 'Cause he is. Really. (*****)

10. "Miranda, That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore," The Mars Volta
This track opens with two minutes of frogs chirping, followed by two more minutes of ambient noise. Which says everything you need to know about the Mars Volta. (***)

Thursday, February 07, 2008

If I could give it a gold medal, too, I would

How good was tonight's episode of Lost, "Confirmed Dead"? I give it *****. Or a 10. Or an A+. Two thumbs up. Lost is, as I've maintained before, the best television show of the last ten years, and I would say that "Confirmed Dead" was one of the ten best episodes. Or, one of the five best. Or three best.

Okay, it might have been the best episode ever.

Mini Boss and I watched it tonight at Pizza Place, and could barely sit still in our excitement with each incredible moment. There were about fifty incredible moments, of course, so by the end I was practically pacing around the dining room. Oh, who am I kidding? I was pacing around the dining room.

Over the next hour, we dissected the episode while trying to do our actual jobs. We tossed around crackpot theories, laughed at our favorite parts, and speculated on next week's episode. Mini Boss raged against the producers who don't want to pay the writers more money.

God, it's good to have Lost back again.

And more good news? According to Michael Eisner, the Writers' Guild has been given a deal, the leadership has agreed to it, and it's going to the Guild members for a vote on Saturday.

We'll see, won't we?

As a reward for indulging in my Lost obsession (I know you don't care), here is another Decemberists video. You're welcome.

Now playing: Elvis Costello - American Without Tears
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

I don't understand it?

For some bizarre reason, while writing Revolver, I've had this inexplicable habit of ending every sentence with a question mark. I thought it was a strange typing thing, but I've been doing it while writing by hand, too. I can't begin to explain this.

In other news, the next person who wants to talk about the Super Bowl gets punched in the face. Let's all move on, okay?

In other other news, Steve and Hannah's twins were born the other day. Mazel Tov to them, of course. And speaking of babies, learn some big words by listening to "The Infanta" by the Decemberists.

Now playing: The Mars Volta - Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt
via FoxyTunes

Monday, February 04, 2008

No shuffle this week

Sorry: Revolver needed the time. I'll get back to it next week.

And how about Luigi, huh? Take that, Mario!

Now playing: Prince - Darling Nikki
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, February 02, 2008

9 1/2 songs?

Gotta love Wikipedia. In an article concerning Metallica's upcoming album, the author mentions this:
"...but more recently Kirk Hammett has stated that the band may narrow the final track listing again down to between 9 and 10 tracks, of the 14 recorded, depending on whether they pick out the shorter or longer tracks."
Between nine and ten? You can't have between nine and ten tracks on an album. You can have nine. You can have ten. But not between.

That is all.

Now playing: Prince - Purple Rain
via FoxyTunes

And the winner is Hov

So Job Number Two held an Employee -- err, sorry, Team Member Appreciation Breakfast this morning. Just a little get-together by management to show their appreciation for all of our hard work. At eight-thirty on Saturday morning. Attendance to which was mandatory.

I certainly feel appreciated.

They baited the hook by offering us breakfast, which turned out to be a not-that-bad spread of typical breakfast foods. They then gave away prizes by the most contrived process imaginable: they hired some people to run a faux casino in the dining room, handed us five thousand dollars in chips, and told us that every thousand we ended with would be worth one ticket in a raffle to win various prizes. The prizes themselves ranged from lame (some kind of party tray thing) to "would be awesome if I didn't already have one" (an iPod, a digital camera). I finished a thousand dollars up at the blackjack table, tossed all of my tickets into the raffle for a $50 Best Buy gift card, and didn't win.

Before handing out awards, our General Manager told us that it wasn't even their idea to have this party, or to serve us breakfast. "That came from the home office," he said. I'm still not sure why he thought it was a good idea to tell us that.

But then -- awards. First, a few gag awards: the type of high-school-level, inside joke, "Everyone is laughing at you but you shouldn't be mad because we're giving you a shitty joke prize" award that the band used to give out at the band banquet every year. Oddly enough, the recipient of Team Member Most Likely to Have a Breakdown at Work didn't seem too pleased with her certificate and prize (a bottle of Tylenol).

After the "funny" "awards" were done, the managers then moved on to Team Member of the Year awards, one for each department: Servers, Cooks, Hosts.

Oh, and what's this? The Takeout/Delivery department has an award, too? And who might the Takeout Team Member of the Year be?

I've never won anything before. Well, that's not true -- I won a classroom spelling bee in second grade. I won a school-wide geography bee in fifth grade. I won various inexplicable accolades from the Business Professionals of America in my senior year in high school. And now, to that stunning collection of achievements, I can add my certificate for Takeout Team Member of the Year.

All the managers signed it. My name is written on it in purple ink, and -- thank the Prophets -- my name is spelled correctly.

In addition to the certificate, I also received a fifty dollar gift card for...a sandwich place I don't particularly care for.

Feel the love.

Now playing: The Proclaimers - I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)
via FoxyTunes

Friday, February 01, 2008

The balance of the beast

I'm not a superstitious guy. But when you're in something of a crappy mood, and you're starting to become convinced that powers beyond your perception are controlling your life, the last thing you want to read in the daily e-mail you receive from your bank is this:


Now playing: Matthew Sweet - Girlfriend
via FoxyTunes