Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I Don't Care How "Trendy" This Seems

But I have a serious man crush on Ezra Koenig from Vampire Weekend. He's just an incredibly stylish, good-looking man.


iTunes Celebrity Playlists

So I've been trolling the iTunes celebrity playlists looking for people that I could conceivably get along with. Here's what I've discovered:

Danny Boyle (director, 28 Days Later, Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire) has incredible taste in music, as does Rainn Wilson (The Office).

Kat Dennings has better taste than Michael Cera, and seems more clever too.

The Daily Show Correspondents listen to pretty crappy music, as does the entire cast of Entourage except, weirdly, Adrien Grenier.

Mike Myers is a Neutral Milk Hotel fan. Who knew?

Carlos Mencia is an ass, officially in every way now.

Vince Vaughn listens to a lot of country, but like cool country, old Merle Haggard stuff.

Alan Cumming (probably best known as Nightcrawler from X-Men 2) likes "No Diggity" by Blackstreet because it makes him think of bending girls over and slapping their asses, "in an ironic, modern-man sense of course."

Jason Bateman likes Belle and Sebastian and Pixies!

Wes Anderson has a predictably awesome list; so does the Schwartzman.

Zefron and V-Hudge have terrible taste, and can only name like five songs between them. I can't say I'm surprised.

Jason Lee's isn't bad.

John Cusack's list inexplicably has Bob Hope on it, and two Gnarls Barkley songs. And on that note, I haven't really listened to The Odd Couple, but Gnarls' first album, St. Elsewhere was unjustly overlooked. Skip "Crazy" and check out "Just a Thought," and you'll see what I mean.

Anyway, I'm over that. I just thought it was a fun diversion. Nighty-night and all that.

A Wild and Crazy Guy

I've always had some mixed feelings for Steve Martin. The Jerk is one of the funniest movies I've ever seen, and from what I've heard of his early stand-up and SNL work, he was sort of a genius. Plus, he was often on The Muppet Show, which is awesome. But nowadays...Cheaper by the Dozen? The Pink Panther? These aren't just bad; given who made them, they're embarrassing.

However, Steve Martin is also an author. Sometimes his books become movies that are better than they should be (Shopgirl), and sometimes they do not (all of the other ones). His most recent, though, is his memoir Born Standing Up, a lucid and clever account of his early years, from his being a Disneyland employee on up to The Jerk and beyond. In reading, I realized something: this is where Steve Martin's been. It's like he's sleepwalking through the movies he's in and pouring all of his talent onto the printed page. A few excerpts:

"[Mitzi, my girlfriend] had been swept away by director John Frankenheimer, who, twenty years later, tried and failed to seduce my wife, the actress Victoria Tennant, whom he was directing in a movie. Mitzi was simply too alluring to be left alone in a foreign country, and I was too hormonal to be left alone in Hollywood. Incidentally, Frankenheimer died a few years ago, but it was not I who killed him."

"I learned a lesson: it was easy to be great. Every entertainer has a night when everything is clicking. These nights are accidental and statistical: Like lucky cards in poker, you can count on them occurring over time. What was hard was to be good, consistently good, night after night, no matter what the abominable circumstances."

I could find more, but I won't. I'll simply urge you to read it, because it's a quick read, and it's hilarious, and it's poignant, and it's oh-so-worth it.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Top 20 Albums of 2008

Well crew, here it is. The top 20 list. I don't think I'm going to include blurbs on this one like last year's, if only for the sake of time, but we can discuss it in the comments section if you really want.


20. Saint Dymhpna by Gang Gang Dance.

19. Flight of the Conchords by Flight of the Conchords.

18. Hold On Now, Youngster... by Los Campesinos!

17. Attack & Release by the Black Keys.

16. The Bake Sale by the Cool Kids.

15. Modern Guilt by Beck.

14. Songs in A and E by Spiritualized.

13. In Ghost Colours by Cut Copy.

12. Santogold by Santogold.

11. Remind Me in 3 Days... by the Knux.

10. Oracular Spectacular by MGMT.

9. Feed the Animals Girl Talk.

8. Saturdays = Youth by M83.

7. Volume One by She & Him.

6. For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver.

5. Vampire Weekend by Vampire Weekend.

4. Dear Science by TV on the Radio.

3. Fleet Foxes by Fleet Foxes.

2. Nouns by No Age.

1. Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel by Atlas Sound.

So there you go, peoples! Discuss!

It's Been a While

But I'm back, again, to blog it all up, freestyle.

I want to make this a noteworthy post though, so...

The new Animal Collective album, Merriweather Post Pavilion, has leaked, and it's damn good. It's...dancier than earlier Animal Collective, but still obviously an AC record. I agree with what Stereogum had to say about it; it's time to start handicapping year-end Best of 2009 lists.

I had a link to it here for you, but I've been asked to remove it. Sorry guys.

my own Best of 2008 list will be coming soon.

Monday, September 15, 2008


That John McCain is in a dead heat with Barack Obama.

This is insane. John McCain, Sarah Palin, Rudy Giuliani, et al., have been blatantly and openly LYING for weeks now. People have called them on it, but no one seems to care. Anything Obama or Biden or anyone on the left says is immediately fact checked to within an inch of its life, but clearly the right gets a free pass.

Exhibit A: The big one, Sarah Palin's Bridge to Nowhere. I guess there was a proposal to build a ludicrously expensive bridge to an island with like fifty people on it. At the get-go, Sarah Palin supported this bridge. God knows why. Congress then came in, and said "um...this bridge is sort of a stupid idea. There's no way you're going to recoup this money." So Palin agreed with Congress, at the very last minute. Now she's stamping around claiming she had always been against the bridge. People brought up that she, well, wasn't. She continues to claim that she was. Nobody seems to mind much.

Exhibit B: Barack Obama recently said "you can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig," in reference to McCain trying to pretty up his Bushy politics in "change" and "Palinism." The McCain campaign decided this was a sexist reference to Sarah Palin and flew into a rage, accusing Obama of gross sexism and demanding an apology. This is ludicrous. As Obama pointed out on Letterman, taking the analogy to its logical extreme, Palin would actually be the lipstick, and McCain's policies would be the pig. This is clearly the McCain campaign grasping at straws against its opponent. Also of interest is that McCain used this exact same expression against Hillary Clinton during the primaries; no one cried sexism then.

Exhibit C: There was an ad in the past couple of days that states that "Barack Obama supports comprehensive sex education for kindergartners. Learning about sex before learning how to read?" This, again, is a blatant lie. What Obama supported was a reform in sex education for the K-12 set, dealt with "age-appropriately." The only mention of kindergartners in the whole program would be for tactics to avoid sexual predators. Is McCain against teaching kids how to not be molested? That's what this ad is really implying.

Exhibit D: John McCain keeps saying that Obama wants to raise taxes; however, Obama's tax policy would actually include 80% of the citizenry having LOWER taxes, particularly those in the lower and middle classes. Only 10% of the population would have higher taxes, and that's almost solely the super-rich.

Exhibit E: Sarah Palin is supposedly the anti-earmark champion, having railed against them while governor, and neglecting to mention that she requested over $27 million dollars in earmarks as mayor of Wasilla. Yes, Obama got more money for Illinois in earmarks, and Biden got more for Delaware. How is that different? Neither of them are pretending to have been constantly anti-earmark. Neither of them are lying.

The fact of the matter is, the McCain/Palin team have devolved into a team of liars and knuckle-dragging politicians. The reason is, this battle HAS to be fought personally for them to have any chance. Even leading GOP strategists claim that if this is solely about the issues, Obama wins hands down. People aren't sold on Obama though, so the GOP has to make it personal for them to have a fighting chance.

Speaking of issues, let's take a really quick look at what Barack Obama supports:

A timely withdrawal from Iraq.
Repeal of the Bush tax cuts.
Education reform.
Universal health care (or at least very close).
Increased environmental regulation and alternative energy research.
Net neutrality.
Guest worker programs.
Federally funded faith-based programs.
Increased attention to Darfur.
Increased diplomacy and tact in foreign relations.

Let's compare this list to what John McCain supports:

Indefinite involvement in Iraq.
Drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Preserve.
Keeping the Bush tax cuts.
Overturning Roe v. Wade and revoking the right to choose.
Deregulation of net neutrality.
Less comprehensive sex education / "abstinence only" education.
Cutbacks of GLBT rights, including marriage.
Repeal of federal minimum wage laws.
Privatizing social security.
Potential reinstatement of the draft.

Polls have shown that Americans overwhelmingly support what Barack Obama is championing; McCain's platform is staggeringly close to George W. Bush's, a point of view that is almost universally condemned, here and abroad.

The point here is that Barack Obama is doing exactly what he said he would at the start of this; he's running a clean campaign, and working for the people. He's staying above the fray and focusing on the issues. Unfortunately, John McCain kind of sucks, and is therefore lobbing punches into him, even though he's taking the high ground and not fighting back. And don't even get me started on Sarah Palin. I just...come on, America. Most of the rest of the world agrees, and actually, based just on policies, most of the country agrees that Barack Obama is the right choice. Why isn't he leading in a landslide? Is it because he's black? Is it because of those vicious lies about him being a Muslim and lying about being a Christian? Is it because his middle name is Hussein? I'll tell you what it is: it's all of that. It's because folksy John McCain and hockey mom Sarah Palin are able to paint Barack Obama as "the other," a creepy, "not-like-us" foreigner. That's the problem. America is so hung up on image and race that they just may let a senile old man and a right-wing lunatic take control of a country that so dearly needs a tender hand, a leadership team that will infuriate the rest of the world, and will, pardon my pessimism, but almost surely will begin America's slow, inexorable decline into post-Roman obscurity.

So come on, America. Obama/Biden '08. At this point, it's not about comfort. We get it. He can be cold sometimes. He's black. He's young. But he's so very right for our country. If there was ever a time to put aside your reservations and dive in, to sacrifice something for your country, now is the time. All these people talking about sacrifice...now is the time. Sacrifice a little bit of personal preference for the man that will take America where it needs to go. I beg of you. Please.

I just stumbled across the following quote, which pretty much sums up the problem here:

"I will be honored to vote for such a great American as John McCain. I do not agree with many of his ideas, but I respect him to death." - metsarma, supposedly an Independent commenter on a Politico article written by Fred Thompson.

In her recent Charlie Gibson interview, Sarah Palin calmly suggested that war with Russia is a possibility. God help us all.

Monday, April 14, 2008

According to a recent SPIN article

Bloggers make roughly $35,000 a year.



why wasn't I informed?

who's signing my check that I do not receive?

or to paraphrase every money-hungry rap song ever:

"where my money, bitch?"

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I'm - I'm just bein' honest

Outkast makes me sad.

Not because of their music, really, but because they should have been this generation's Beatles, and they screwed that up. They had the style, the grace, the hip-hop and the pop and the soul and the avantfunkwhathaveyou, and, more importantly, they had their fingers on the pulse of cool and the the ears of the world in their pockets. In 2004, "Hey Ya!" was number one on the charts; number two was "(I Like) The Way You Move." Two songs by the same band at the two highest spots; the only artist to do this previously was, in fact, the Beatles.

Outkast could have, and should have, been the 2000s Big Artist, the Beatles or the Zeppelin or the Run-DMC or the Nirvana, the Important Ones, and all because of one album, 2003's Speakerboxxx / The Love Below, an album easily as good as Zeppelin IV or Nevermind. Outkast had other fantastic albums, like Stankonia and Aquemini, but it was this one that was IT. It reigned the charts, and absolutely everyone adored it. "Hey Ya!" proved their pop mettle / importance, "(I Like) The Way You Move" earned them street cred, "Roses" combined the aesthetics of Uranus' second-best frontman (after Prince), Andre "3000" Benjamin, and the durrrty South's most intelligent and capable MC, Antwan "Big Boi" Patton, and the whole dual-identity and quirkiness of the album as a unit earned them major artistic and critical credibility. They had Importance in the palm of their hands. In 2003 and 2004, Outkast ruled the world.

But of course, they threw it all away. They dawdled about in a bunch of nothing for a while, Andre 3000 doing some mediocre acting, Big Boi doing...nothing, I suppose, until 2006 saw the release of their joint film and soundtrack Idlewild, a commercial and critical flop that, for now at least, effectively sealed their fate.

This is really unfortunate, because few people now seem to remember that Outkast was amazing, and it was solely because of the personas of the main players (playas?). Both coming out of the durrrty South / G-Funk thing, they diverged on such different paths that it's a shock that they even could work together. Andre 3000 is one of the more stylish and eccentric men in popular music, with a borderline-whiny soul voice and a prodigious flow (which, like fellow soul eccentric Cee-Lo Green, he seriously underutilizes), not to mention a flair for the theatrical, weird, and glamorous. Big Boi, on the other hand, is a typical b-boy, all thugglife hippity-hop, but with a twist; Big Boi is intelligent. He's probably one of the smartest rappers of all time (except maybe Ice Cube, but that's debatable; Chuck D was bright too, but he was sort of radical, and maybe just convinced people he was smart...the jury's still out). So you take this soul-glam ingenue and the most literate thug rapper this side of Atlanta, and you mash them together to create either one of the most unlistenable, pretentious creations of modern music, or today's Beatles.

Outkast began, so promisingly, as the latter; they're quickly, and unfortunately, devolving into the former. I can only hope they come back. We miss you, Outkast.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Humanity Fails at Life

This is taken directly from the Hummer fan page on Facebook:

"The objective of this group is to bring all hummer fans together and to get people to appreciate Hummer as a do it all SUV, not a gas guzzling behemoth that pollutes the environment. back in the late 70's and 80's trucks and SUV's looked like hummers and now some uneducated people are trying to ruin its reputation, here is what i have to say to them (if you cant afford them, or never drove them then shut up) as for environmentalists, you want to save the world get rid of your old crappy cars and do some more research this car is a great truck and have proven their worth over and over again all over the world."

Of course! OF COURSE! We can save the environment by getting rid of our small cars and stocking up on "great trucks" that have "proven their worth" (which seems to have nothing at all to do with the issue at hand, but I digress)! This is a brilliant, revolutionary concept!

Thank you, anonymous writer, for so clearly and coherently expressing your opinions and beliefs. You've certainly convinced me!

Damn Dirty Apes

Charlton Heston is dead?


Thanks (I guess) to Kevin.

Heroes and Monsters

I like music. I like new music. I like new, weird music.

I like Villains.

Villains is a band (or a man, or, or a 19th century French vivisectionist, or a baby genius floating in formaldehyde) from Los Angeles who traffics like a dirty Colin Meloy character in under-the-bridge avant-noir jazzfolkindiepopsomething, and it's very, very good.

I think the best thing about Villains, or at the very least my favourite thing, their music notwithstanding (which is, need I hammer in further, very good), is the fact that they have an aesthetic, which most bands simply do not have. It's borderline intangible, and yet very, very obvious. Villains is like a band of Franco-Italian gypsies rolled into one man, all art and commerce and Edward Gorey. Few other bands have a real aesthetic like that. The Arcade Fire does; they're like sharp-dressed church workers dealing with their own issues on the wrong side of a violin. Of Montreal has it, if free-wheeling acid dreams count as aesthetics. And now Villains has it, and the music itself is better for it. It feels somehow more real, even though it isn't. It's almost like the best alt-country bands in this respect.

Frankly, more music needs to have the romantic sense of whimsy and winking drama that Villains has so masterfully cornered.

Also, supposedly their name will be shortly changed to "Painted Ladies." Just keep an eye out for that.


I Should Really Get Back to Blogging

It's been a remarkably long time, hasn't it?

Months and untold months...

oh well.

I'm (probably) back.

Here are some videos of Black Kids live on Jools Holland for you while I think of something interesting to write: