Monday, June 30, 2008

Know what I'm sayin'?

I'm in such a good mood right now I can barely stand myself. So to share in the happiness wealth, here's my favorite video ever.

Now playing: Fall Out Boy - Thnks Fr Th Mmrs
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Weekly Chart: 6/23-6/29

When you see the Decemberists riding the top of this chart, it's because I've been in either a really bad mood or a really good mood. Thankfully, it's the latter this week. In fact, the same can be said for several of the artists you see here: Ben Folds, the Proclaimers, Bob Marley, and especially Van Morrison -- if I'm listening to them, things are looking way up or way down.

The Stones take their place near the bottom of the ten, as usual (I always end up listening to the Stones near the weekend, for some reason), and Weezer gets new life thanks to the addition of a few of their tracks to Rock Band. And then there's Fall Out Boy. And, um...uh, no, wait, I can explain. Honest.

No, I can't.

Shut up.

1. The Decemberists (32 plays)
2. Ben Folds (27)
3. Death Cab for Cutie (25)
4. Van Morrison (13)
5. Fall Out Boy (11)
5. The Proclaimers (11)
7. The Rolling Stones (8)
8. Weezer (7)
9. Bruce Springsteen (6)
10. Bob Marley and the Wailers (6)

See the entire list here.

Now playing: Fall Out Boy - I've Got All This Ringing in My Ears and None on My Fingers
via FoxyTunes

Monday, June 23, 2008

"Thanks to our fear of death in this country, I won't have to die...I'll pass away! Or I'll expire, like a magazine subscription!"

George Carlin is dead. I'm glad I got to you see you perform live, George. Even if you had ventured long into the goodnight of crankiness and bitterness. You just might have been the funniest man I've ever heard or read.

You once said that your job was "thinking up goofy shit." You did your job and did it well, sir.

We'll miss you, George. You cranky old motherfucker.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Weekly Chart: 6/16-6/22

Shortly after its release, I picked up Death Cab for Cutie's new album, Narrow Stairs. I was completely taken with the first single, "I Will Possess Your Heart," but after downloading the entire record, I promptly forgot about it and never listened to it. I finally caught up with it this week, and guess what? It's one of the greatest albums I've ever heard in my life. To say that it's dominated my iPod since is an understatement: not only does it win, and win handily, and easily eclipse any mark by any artist in any previous week, but all those plays are since Thursday. Seriously, find this album now. No, right now.

The rest of the chart is filled out by other fantastic music I couldn't stop listening to. Coldplay's new album remains incredible, and only gets better every time; Vampire Weekend doesn't sound anything like their name would imply, and is one of the best new bands out there right now; and where has the Hold Steady been all my life?

1. Death Cab for Cutie (81 plays)
2. Coldplay (52)
3. Vampire Weekend (32)
4. Bright Eyes (31)
5. The Hold Steady (30)
6. Dire Straits (17)
7. Devo (16)
8. Genesis (14)
9. The Hives (12)
10. The Vines (8)
10. Michael Jackson (8)

...Yeah, that's right, motherfuckers. Michael Jackson. Do something.

See the entire list here.

Now playing: Death Cab for Cutie - Bixby Canyon Bridge
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Just what the Dr ordered

In January, I swore off caffeine. I did this because I was a rampant insomniac, and only getting 3-5 hours of sleep a night and then trotting to two jobs every day was kind of killing me from the inside. I thought -- hey, if I stop drinking soda, maybe I can sleep some more.

It's June now, and I don't get any more sleep than I used to. And I've descended into foul, pissy depression. I mean, even more than usual. So last night, I said fuck it: I drank Dr Pepper for the first time in half a year. And it was like someone took a broom inside my head and brushed out the cobwebs. Sunlight flooded my soul, I think.

My gods! I can see! I can see again! I can feel again!

I'm drinking Coke right now. Life feels so much goddamned better I can't begin to tell you.

Have a nice day!

Now playing: Death Cab for Cutie - You Can Do Better Than Me
via FoxyTunes

Friday, June 20, 2008

Karma police, arrest this man!

Sometimes, people do get what they deserve: CNN political commentator/minion of Satan Glenn Beck missed his TV show last night because he fell down a flight of stairs.

That'll put a smile on my face all day today.

Now playing: Bright Eyes - If the Brakeman Turns My Way
via FoxyTunes

A violent argument erupts over whose day was more pleasant

Now playing: Death Cab for Cutie - Your New Twin Sized Bed
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, June 19, 2008

So many friends to backstab, so little time

The Usual Suspects and I gathered together last night to try out White Wolf's excursion into board games, Vampire: Prince of the City. It's a fun game, though the conditions for victory seem a little arbitrary to me -- whoever has the highest score when time runs out (meaning, the prearranged number of turns expires) becomes Prince and wins the game. It works, but it feels a tad strange. I guess, though, it's to prevent games from stretching into infinity, as there's no way to actually defeat any of your opponents for any considerable length of time.

This setup, in fact, makes the final turn an interesting one, as those out of contention for victory can simply choose who they'd like to win. Last night, Brandon and I decided -- with very little debate -- that FRINAN should win. As so he did, as the two of us helped him gang up on René and secure an easy victory. Why did we do this? Well, for Brandon, it was pure, raw spite, I imagine.

Prince of the City captures the shady, untrustworthy nature of the World of Darkness perfectly -- does it better, in fact, than a lot of the White Wolf material itself. The opportunities for alliance and betrayal are plentiful, and add a dimension you almost never see in board games. It mirrors the self-nature of the vampires we're supposed to be portraying. (Yes, we're supposed to be vampires and such. Thankfully, we didn't take that element too far -- I didn't embarrass myself.)

So, if you've got a group of friends who enjoying screwing each other over rampantly, particularly in pursuit of a victory in something as pointless and arbitrary as a board game, Vampire: Prince of the City is excellent.

There are times I'm not grateful enough for the friends I have.

Now playing: Bill Withers - Use Me
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Quien era el mas poderoso

Hi there. How ya doin'? Good? Good. I've got something interesting to share with you. Most reading this probably already know it, but it's good to say it once in a while, so you remember who you're dealing with. Here we go.

I liked Lady in the Water.

Now. I'm not going to try to convince you that it was a good movie -- gods, no. It was downright terrible: poorly written, badly acted, and plodded forward like a sloth on Robitussin. It deserved its critical thrashing, and it deserved its Razzie nomination for Worst Picture. And yet...I liked it anyway.

Why? Because of M. Night Shyamalan.

There's something about the way he makes his movies that connects with me. Is it a dorky film geek thing? Of course it is: Unbreakable is one of my favorite movies ever, and it ain't because of its airtight screenplay. The Village -- which I will tell you was a good movie, and have said so before -- worked because of his tense camerawork and built-up atmosphere. I just love watching the guy work.

But I have drawn a line in the sand here, dude: I will not watch The Happening. No, sir.

The trailer itself -- which I won't bother to post, because I'm sure you've seen it already -- looks like nothing more than a silly self-parody. In fact, if I were making a YouTube video, a mock trailer to skewer his style, that's exactly what it would look like. False tension, overbearing score, and laughably vague dialogue: "There appears to be some kind of event happening!" is exactly what I'd write.

Mr. Shyamalan has long been painted as a egotist, and it's hard not to buy it. And it gets even easier after reading his recent interview with, which comes across as downright delusional in the wake of The Happening's paltry box office and flat-out virulent reviews. It's sad to see a filmmaker I respected so very, very much falling so very, very far. And hard.

Here's my favorite part of the interview: he not only claims The Happening is a B-movie, but declares it "the best B movie you will ever see." I really don't think Night understands what a B movie entails, do you?

But hey: I could be wrong. I am condemning his film without seeing it, which is something I don't like doing. I'll tell you what -- you go watch the movie and get back to me.

I'll wait.

Now playing: Coldplay - Death and All His Friends
via FoxyTunes

Weekly Chart: 6/9-6/15

Sorry about the dearth of material in the last few days -- I've had other distractions, some spotty internet connectivity, and I...well, frankly, haven't had anything to talk about. Steady posting resumes this evening.

For now, here's the chart I would've posted on Sunday had I not forgotten about it. An offhand comment made in an email sent me scrambling for the crazy comfort of my Mars Volta albums, and they take this week easily. It helps that their best song, "Cassandra Gemini," is split into eight separate tracks.

A strong showing also from Coldplay, whose new album -- Viva la Vida, or Death and All His Friends -- is the best of their career by far (and the best U2 album since Achtung Baby -- *rimshot*). Also, Devo. Because they are awesome, goddammit.

1. The Mars Volta (62 plays)
2. Jonathan Coulton (42)
3. Queens of the Stone Age (34)
4. Coldplay (32)
5. Devo (24)
6. Bright Eyes (19)
7. The Rolling Stones (10)
8. Elton John (9)
8. Radiohead (9)
10. The Kinks (8)

See the entire list here.

Now playing: Dire Straits - Money for Nothing
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Quiet lies the locust tells

Apparently, there's a documentary out called Dreams with Sharp Teeth that focuses on the life and career of Harlan Ellison, one of my favorite writers and a profound influence. Suffice to say, I'll have to wait for DVD.

But in the meantime, here's a fascinating interview with Ellison from The Onion A.V. Club. It's lengthy, but worth the read.

Part One.
Part Two.

Now playing: Vampire Weekend - I Stand Corrected
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Weekly Chart: 6/2-6/8

Hey, a five-way tie for first. I used shuffle quite a bit more this week, resulting in a wider spread of artists. And if only Weezer's new album hadn't been so lackluster, they'd have grabbed the top spot, easy.

1. The Shins (20)
1. Van Morrison (20)
1. The Tragically Hip (20)
1. The White Stripes (20)
1. The Rolling Stones (20)
6. Weezer (19)
7. Radiohead (12)
8. Elvis Costello (11)
9. Counting Crows (10)
10. Queens of the Stone Age (9)
10. New Order (9)

See the entire list here.

Now playing: Bob Dylan - Visions of Johanna
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Radiohead is awesome even when played through a copy machine

You may have heard the amazing song "Nude," one of the standouts from Radiohead's most recent album In Rainbows. (One of the many, many standouts.) If not, watch this:

Now then. The band made individual pieces of the track available to the public, encourage fans to remix it themselves. Some of those remixes are good; some are bad. And then some are like this.

(And stick with the video, please; the song itself starts about a minute or so in.)

Big Ideas (Don't get any) from James Houston on Vimeo.

I can't be the only one who thinks that's awesome.

(A voice rises from the back: "Yes, you can be." Thank you, sir, thank you. Security!)

Now playing: Radiohead - Nude
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Like a dart stuck square in your eye

YouTube is filled with videos of people covering songs in their living rooms. I find myself perusing them at random sometimes. Most of them are, unsurprisingly, bad. But every once in a while...

This is katem3, and her version of "A Comet Appears" by the Shins. It equals, or perhaps -- dare I say -- surpasses the original. I can't stop listening to it.

The internet is a good thing, kids.

Now playing: The Rolling Stones - I Got the Blues
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

While you make pretty speeches, I'm being cut to shreds

Hey there, Senator Clinton. I know you won in South Dakota last night, and you gave a speech to rouse your supporters and everything, and you have a plan and you said you weren't going to be making any decisions. I know that. I just wanted to tell you something.

Scoreboard, Senator. Look up at it. You've lost. For reals this time.

Now. Go away. Before you start to do serious damage to the party. You've already destroyed yourself.

Oh, and Senator Obama? First of all, congratulations and good luck in November. But don't even think of naming Clinton your running mate. Don't you dare. Say it with me now: "unmitigated disaster."

That is all.

Now playing: Radiohead - Like Spinning Plates
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

I am certifiably insane

I am. It's true. What else can explain it?

I went into Job Number Two this morning. About twenty minutes after clocking in, the cooks made a startling discovery: the natural gas that powers our ovens was, well, out. No gas. Meaning no ovens. Meaning we can't cook anything. You see how that might be a problem for a restaurant. In any case, with customers walking in and walking right back out again, I was told my services would not be required for the day. So I came home, grateful for a few extra hours off.

I did some reading. (Chuck Palahniuk is an odd duck, ladies and gentlemen.) I took a nap. It was good -- very, very good. And when I awoke, what was the first thing that popped into my head?

"Whoa -- Brent from Corner Gas was in an episode of The X-Files!"

He played a coroner in "Bad Blood," one of my favorite episodes. He appears for maybe a minute, has three or four lines. The last time I saw the episode, I hadn't seen Corner Gas. But now I have, and now I realize that it was him.

This information, of course, came from nowhere. I haven't seen the episode in years. But a quick trip to IMDB confirmed it. I was right.

And I'm a goddamn lunatic, is what I am.

Now playing: The Strokes - Heart in a Cage
via FoxyTunes

Weezer: The Red Album

Weezer - Weezer Well, this much is clear: Rivers Cuomo and his band of merry men no longer give a fuck what you think. That's certainly commendable, given the "Let's pander to the masses!" sound of their last three records. (You may recall us discussing this before.) So instead of a disc of tried and true three-chord power pop numbers destined to scale the charts, we find the band spreading out as far as they can. Rivers plays the drums. Rivers raps. Other band members write songs. Other band members sing. It feels truly experimental, which is not a word I ever thought I'd associate with Weezer. It's a nice breath of fresh air.

Now, if only it were really good.

It starts well. After kicking off with the snarling, snarky "Troublemaker," we move on to the album's standout, "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)," which is no less that ten songs crammed into a six minute medley. They let it all hang out here, ranging from Beach Boys-esque harmonies to Queen choruses to police sirens and drunken rapping. It's all glorious and loads of fun, even if it shifts gears with the ease of a semi. After that is "Pork and Beans," and that's still one of their best singles ever. It's catchy, it's funny, and it's compelling in a way they haven't been in over a decade.

Unfortunately, that's when the wheels start to come off. "Dreamin'" is a great song, but the rest flails about for purchase without finding any. "Heart Songs" and "The Angel and the One" are both overlong and dreary, "Everybody Get Dangerous" is a jokey song that's not funny, and "Automatic" is just bad. It's nice to hear them spreading their wings and trying new things, sure, but it would have been nice to get a good album out of it.

It's time to face the cold, hard truth, kids. It's time to stop hoping that mommy and daddy are getting back together. Weezer -- the blue album Weezer, the Pinkerton Weezer, the Weezer we love -- is never coming back.

Which is truly a tragedy.

Rating: **1/2 (out of *****)

Now playing: Gabriel Mann - Someone Else for One Day
via FoxyTunes

That's one of the best casts I've ever seen

There is no one is this trailer I don't love. Plus the Coen brothers? Oh, I am so there.

Now playing: The Tragically Hip - Blow at High Dough
via FoxyTunes

Monday, June 02, 2008

Weekly Chart: 5/25-6/1

I stopped doing my iPod shuffles a while ago, after growing bored with them. But now I've found another weekly habit to torture you with that you might find interesting. I've started using to keep track of my music -- maybe you've seen the new blue box over there in the sidebar -- and one of the cool things it does is give you weekly charts, showing various stats for the week. Starting this week, I'll post each week's list of my top artists -- the music I listened to most that week. (I'm using artists instead of tracks because I think that's a more interesting list; this week's top tracks, for instance, are split among only two artists.) We'll see how long this goes before I get bored with it, huh?

This week, I discovered a few albums on my hard drive I'd forgotten I had -- namely, Maroon 5's It Won't Be Soon Before Long, which is nowhere near as bad as I remembered it being. In fact, it's pretty good. Also, Blind Melon's Soup, which was as underwhelming as I recalled, unfortunately. I also gave Green Day's Dookie a spin for the first time in four or five years. Some classics never get old. (Random nostalgic memory: I seem to recall that, back in high school, Josh somehow got his graphing calculator to play a tiny, garbled sound clip of "Basket Case." I recall thinking this was awesome. My iPod -- a device an eighth of the size of that clunky calculator and which holds twelve days' worth of CD-quality music -- thinks this is hilarious.)

The top ten (well, eleven; there was a tie for tenth):

1. Jonathan Coulton (66 plays)
2. Maroon 5 (35)
3. Harvey Danger (26)
4. Genesis (22)
5. Spoon (14)
6. Beth Kinderman (12)
7. Blind Melon (10)
7. Radiohead (10)
7. Green Day (10)
10. Billy Joel (9)
10. Coldplay (9)

You can see the entire list here.

Now playing: The Tragically Hip - Cordelia
via FoxyTunes

Nice one, Mom

FRINAN was called for jury duty today. Stunningly, our even-handed, fair-minded friend didn't make the final cut. I can't imagine why.

But I'm reminded of the time my Mom got called for jury duty. She actually found herself seated: it was a drug charge, a guy arrested for dealing drugs in a school zone. Oops. So they picked her, and she prepared to do her job as a decider of his fate.

One problem: the defense attorney realized the entire jury was made up of white people. The defendant? Hispanic. He made a plea to the judge, who agreed and dismissed everyone, starting over with a new set.

Mom came home furious. She hadn't wanted to spend a few days on a jury, but she felt she'd been personally insulted. In the kind of impassioned rant you've probably heard from me, she railed against the defense attorney and the judge, screaming about the implication that she was somehow unable to make a fair and impartial judgment of the evidence simply because of the color of her skin.

"And besides," she concluded, "I knew that kid was guilty just by looking at him."


Now playing: The Tragically Hip - Three Pistols
via FoxyTunes