Monday, December 31, 2007
What took off around five years ago has only grown gradually. An art form that combines the sophistication of public radio with the pay of a Daily Iowan reporter, podcasts range from UC Berkley recorded class lectures to mini-videocast sitcoms.
Here are my top 7 (its a lucky number)
1. Mr. Deity*
1. Taking the movie "Dogma" towards a sitcom-ish direction. The meaning of life, Jesus' ulterior motives, and Satin's interior decorating all grace the show's storyline. Using the "nothing" theme, ala "Seinfeld", the show twists religious humor into a weekly videocast. After a slow start, the show has taken off and the 5 minute skits are getting funnier well into the second season.
* not recommended Televangelists and Jesus-Campers
Directly quoted from the podcast episode entitled "How does Uranium work?-
"A pound of Uranium is roughly the size of a tennis ball, yet produces the energy equal to about a million gallons of gasoline."
Discovery Channel guru jackpot.
3. Distorted View Daily
Nasty, dirty things you discussed vividly on the monkey bars in 5th grade. Featuring fetishes, sex terms, fart-jokes, and an after period of distinct self-loathing, this podcast would be a doozy were it not for hilarious commentator Tim Henson. While he presents the myriad of twisted stories, he is right along with you going "Eww...nasty". My description is horrible, but think of the Howard Stern show without the creepiness and obvious pleasure enjoyed by Howard Stern.
4. That's What She Said
Forgive my tears. This show is on hiatus due to the writer's strike. A highly literary analysis of each "Office" episode answers a lot of nagging questions on the show. This, which any good book should do, in turn opens up even more questions. We can only hope than once the show gets going, so will the podcast.
5. The Economist
Whenever I need a touch of high-society to get me through the day, this does the trick. A front-page update of the the day's events, it is a more digestible news source than CNN or NBC alternatives. Plus, who doesn't worry about the economic downfall of the Eastern Pacific?
6. This American Life
Ira Glass' melodramatic syndication is now online, meaning that you can enjoy the cacophony of sound that used exclusively be on NPR. Stories or attempts, like interviewing everyone in a coffee shop during 24 hours, take slices from hundreds of people's lives and show them to the public. His voice alone is worth checking out.
7. Car Talk
The Tappet brothers are cheesy, but in a good way. Like a funny grandparent. Treating socio-psychological-automotive woes, the brothers wit and expertise is unmatched. This a second sample from the NPR jar gets better with age as the brothers become more senile and amnesic.
That is the list, out like '07 and in with '08.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
So here they are, my top favorite things of 2007:
1. No Country for Old Men — The Coen brothers return with something a bit more substantial than Ladykillers, a pretty much perfect thriller sporting a nihilistic heart. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a better suspense scene than Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem’s showdown, and Mr. Lee Jones bookmark musings have kept me pondering for weeks.
2. Ratatouille — It’s a cartoon, yes, but supports the best artistic design of the year and is somehow an astute mainstream commentary on the essence of art. Really.
3. Zodiac — David Fincher’s revival after Panic Room was almost as pronounced as the Coen’s, producing his best since Seven, if not his best period. Complain as you will about its length or its fleeting climax, but in Zodiac Fincher deflates the serial killer mythos perhaps indefinitely.
4. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street — Again with the returns (did any respected filmmaker not have a comeback this year?), Tim Burton brings us another gloomy Johnny Depp vehicle. In an already dark filmography, Burton offers his most gruesome — in musical form no less — take on human failings.
5. Eastern Promises — David Cronenberg continues his move into the mainstream with his new cinematic soulmate, Viggo Mortensen. Mortensen’s Russian mobster is so far the best performance I’ve seen all year, and the Turkish bath fight scene ups the nude action scene ante for good.
6. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters — Every so often a documentary emerges with more narrative energy than any of its contrived competitors. King of Kong couldn’t be more perfect, an American epic of
7. The Bourne Ultimatum — Paul Greengrass makes up for his Supremacy misstep with the conclusion and pinnacle of the Bourne series, a smart hyper thriller with hard punches to the head and heart.
8. Knocked Up — Judd Apatow deserves credit for reviving the rated-R comedy in 2007 (including the underrated Walk Hard), and his own helmed offering is also his best. Too long, a bit sexist — maybe — but also uproarious and poignant.
9. American Gangster — I’m a sucker for gangster movies, and Ridley Scott’s pop epic offers enough bang to scrape its way into the top ten. Denzel is a force, Crowe is quiet yet deadly, and its racial subtext is well worth the journey.
10. Gone Baby Gone — Director Ben Affleck dares to follow in Martin Scorsese and Clint Eastwood’s Boston footsteps, and somehow makes a film that deserves to be mentioned in the same breath. He might not be a great actor, but his brother Casey is, and with Affleck’s steady direction Boston might never been seen positively again.
Likely to make the list once they get their ass to Iowa: There Will Be Blood, Atonement, Juno, Once, I’m Not There
Music — Albums
1. The National, Boxer — If anything develops a more bleak vision of middle-class existence, I never want to hear it. Boxer stands as the most cohesive album of the year; no track is worth skipping. Give it time… you’ll be rewarded.
2. Radiohead, In Rainbows —It ain’t a revolution like Kid A, but it’s still a beautiful progression into what I hope is fruitful middle age for the best band on Earth.
3. M.I.A., Kala — It isn’t world music, it isn’t straight pop, but it’s an amazing bridge between the two, danceable and thought provoking.
4. LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver — James Murphy decides to actually write lyrics instead of improvising nonsense, and we get some damn fine poignant dance rock.
5. Spoon, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga — Catchy and crisp without an ounce of indie rock staleness. It’s hard to be inventive and comfortable all at once, but Spoon does it again effortlessly.
6. Feist, The Reminder — Finally, someone who deserves to get big does. Find a better pop single than “1234” or “I Feel It All.” I dare you.
7. Patrick Wolf, The Magic Position — Somehow captures childhood wonder against a background of gender-confused darkness. It makes me happy; sometimes that’s enough.
8. Animal Collective, Strawberry Jam — It’s taken me this long to finally give in to Avey Tare and Panda Bear’s bizarro pop creations, but by the end I was whistling “Fireworks” hidden piano melody, salivating for “Dereks” closing collapsing drums.
9. Jay-Z, American Gangster — He doesn’t live the thug life anymore, but neither do we — and yet we’re still transported. I spent much of 2007 listening to older hip-hop, but it’s hard to find a better offering this year than Hova’s comeback.
10. Burial, Untrue — Burial’s album marked a handful of firsts for me: the first time I’ve heard dubstep, the first time I became addicted to an electronic album. It’s dark, it’s infectious, and it’ll be some of my favorite nighttime music for ages.
Honorable mentions: Okkervil River, The Stage Names. PJ Harvey, White Chalk. Nine Inch Nails, Year Zero. The Arcade Fire, Neon Bible. Beirut, The Flying Club Cup. Justice, Cross. Wu Tang Clan, 8 Diagrams
Still considering: Panda Bear, Person Pitch. Battles, Mirrored. Jens Lekman, Night Falls Over Kortedala. !!!, Myth Takes. Caribou, Andorra.
Music — Tracks
These are hard to order, and might change daily. So here’s what would make up my mix CD of favorites. Ask nicely — perhaps I’ll make you one.
1. Radiohead — Reckoner
2. The National — Fake Empire
3. Patrick Wolf — Overture
4. The Arcade Fire — No Cars Go
5. LCD Soundsystem — Someone Great
6. Spoon — You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb
7. LCD Soundsystem — All My Friends
8. M.I.A. — Bamboo Banger
9. Burial — Raver
10. Feist — I Feel It All
11. The National — Slow Show
12. Animal Collective — Fireworks
13. PJ Harvey — The Devil
14. Jay-Z — Roc Boys (And The Winner Is)…
15. Okkervil River — Unless It's Kicks
16. Radiohead — Last Flowers To The Hospital
Top Five Concerts of 2007
1. The Arcade Fire/LCD Soundsystem, September, St. Paul
2. Rage Against the Machine (w/ Queens of the Stoneage), August, Apple Valley, Wisconsin
3. Reverend Horton Heat (w/ Murder By Death), August, The Picador, Iowa City
4. Wilco (w/ Andrew Bird), October, IMU, Iowa City
5. Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello (solo), October, Carver Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City
I don’t quite want to end this list business yet, so here are some irrelevant top five’s to conclude my self-indulgent entries. Enjoy!
Top Five Meals in 2007
1. Peanut butter toast, with margarine spread underneath
2. Spongebob shaped mac & cheese
3. Panchero’s grilled veggie burrito
4. Masala’s lunch buffet
5. Papa Murphey’s Gormet Veggie Pizza
Top Five Things I Wore in 2007
1. Black hooded sweatshirt
2. Short-sleeved Waldo shirt
3. Africa shirt with creepy tribal mask
4. John Krasinski-inspired Gap jeans
5. Polo shirt I tye-died myself
Okay, so this isn't quite me. Close enough.
Top Five Days of the Week
Friday, December 28, 2007
Check it out.
In other news, everyone should be required to watch the documentary Maxed Out, out on DVD now, before even opening mail from a credit card company.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
I wasn't going to make a post at all this break, but Lauren deciding to anoint herself the "DI Staff's resident hopeless romantic" made me want to speak up. That is a bold statment. I will take you on anyday in a competition and win. Win big time. Since it is christmas right now, i decided to spread some cheer, and showcase my gingerbread creation skill ( or lack there of). u decide. Merry christmas everybody/happy holidays...etc.
1) Gingerbread Hulkster " OOOH YEAAHHHH IM GONNA GET EATEN BY JARRETTS GRANDMA PROBABLY OOOHYEEEEEEAAAAHHHH"
2) Bears third-string QB/Neck Beard Enthusiast/ Drunk - Kyle Orton
"Wheres the gingerbread handle at?"
5) My Sister Hillary made this gingerbread interpretation of me, Jarrett C. Hothan, complete with "Birth Rites" shirt.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Here's a link to a petition to get "The Daily Show" back on the air and end the strike.
I'm not going to stop blogging about this until it is resolved.
*Halfway to Hazard has a couple great songs entitled "Daisy," "I'm Tired," and "Got Back Up."
*Jennifer Hansen wrote "Leave the Pieces" for The Wreckers, and is going to release her own album next spring featuring the single "Joy Ride."
*Lee Brice (my personal favorite of the evening) has already released a coupe singles, "She Ain't Right" and "Happy Endings," but most notably just wrote Garth Brook's latest single "More Than a Memory."
*And of cours Hal Ketchum speaks for himself. Duh - he's a legend.
If you know anything about me, you'll know that the results of last night's show were no less than emotionally devastating to me, given my intense connection to my girl, Tiffany "New York" Pollard. I watched her get her heart broken twice by a man mostly known for wearing giant clocks around his neck. All I wanted for her was the best. Season one obviously didn't cut it, so I was fully on board with a season two. Thus, I have been taking the journey with New York ever since the beginning, with a lot of screaming at my TV along the way.
The thing that I love about ILNY2, unironically, is the way that New York is so unapologetic about herself, however trashy she may be. She looks like Janice from The Muppets:
She has some of the most ridiculous post-implant breasts I've ever seen:
But neither of these things has ever stopped her from being completely secure. New York rarely expresses any self-doubt--she has clearly reached a mental place the rest of us could only hope to one day achieve.
Not only that, she's completely rejected any and all hateful terms that are typically associated with brassy, loud women who just might happen to enjoy sex a whole lot. She'll talk about wanting to jump Buddha (and really, who wouldn't?) for hours at a time, but call her anything less than a lady, and New York will be quick to either kick you off her show, or just go with the good old-fashioned slap to the face.
In this interview with TV Guide, New York was asked:
TV Guide: Some people think that you're a diva.
New York: If a diva is a woman that has an idea of where she wants to go in life, is overly confident, wears too much makeup, wears too many high heels and short skirts, then yes, I'm a diva.
So, you might see that with the gigantic girl-crush I'm clearly sporting for Miss New York, how upsetting it is to me that she's chosen Tailor Made, the whiny, well-moneyed bitch of this season over Buddha, the only other person on Vh1's celebreality lineup as good at line delivery as New York herself, not to mention gorgeous and emotionally centered (hence the nickname). She seems to have gone for someone completely submissive to her, as opposed to someone on a more equal footing. Where I saw a challenge, New York saw nothing but difficulties in the future for her and Buddha. Maybe it's the idea that New York and myself actually don't share a brain that's most upsetting. Either way, I know I'll be soothing the wounds from this for some time...right around the time I Love New York 3 is announced.
-Anna, who is ALWAYS ready to end the day by asking loudly, "DO YOU HAVE LOVE FOR ANNA?" and being surrounded by a flock of hot guys, while a gigantic manservant brings out a silver tray with Bedazzled champagne glasses on it.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Honestly, I was a little disappointed in terms of having a list of full albums I was in love with this year, save for a very select few. Maybe it's because I spent a lot of time this year getting turned on to music that was already years old, or maybe it's because very few albums were actually that great. Either way, while the albums might not have been all that great for me, there were quite a few amazing songs, singles or otherwise. Thus, a list, my favorite thing to write. Click the songs to hear 'em, if you haven't. These are all YouTube links, so I can't vouch for the quality of some of those "slide show" things.
Anna's Favorite Songs of 2007 (in no order)
1. "The Good Life"--Kanye West, feat. T-Pain This song starts parties. I've seen it happen.
2."Umbrella"--Rihanna, feat. Jay-Z. Absolutely flawless pop. Hate away...I'll be over here dancing and wanting an actual Rihanna-brand umbrella for Christmas.
3."Dizzy"--Jimmy Eat World. Jimmy Eat World has the capacity to create really epic-sounding songs without slipping into too much bombast. Though not quite as soul-destroyingly perfect as "23" of their last disc, Futures, this final track on Chase This Light continues the tradition nicely.
4."Sea Legs"--The Shins. One of the comments on this video mentions wanting to snorkel to this song, which is actually perfect. This song sounds just like it's title--off-kilter and rhythmic--but is much more fun.
5."Let Me In"--Hot Hot Heat. The production on this track is stellar--the strings could have been too much, but instead they add a layer of gloss to an already solid song by the underrated Hot Hot Heat.
6."Last Night"--Motion City Soundtrack. I love the slow way this song builds. So catchy.
7."Keep The Car Running"--Arcade Fire. Perhaps the most accessable Arcade Fire has been? Either way, this song's beat makes me smile.
8."Roc Boys"--Jay-Z. Jay-Z fans are happier than anyone about the release of American Gangster--honestly, it was a bit hard to justify the love with Kingdom Come as the most current album. Thank God for this. Returning to his roots, be it the verses about drug deals or the sampling of old-soul horns, returned Hova to his full former glory.
9."Baby Girl, I'm A Blur"--Say Anything. You might know them only as "that band that sang about phone sex," but Say Anything has crafted some damn good songs on In Defense of the Genre. They're able to work within a bunch of different types of music--compare this danceable number with the more rocking "Shiksa (Girlfriend)."
10."My Moon, My Man"--Feist. Feist's music is sexy as hell. The bass and piano lines in this one makes you want to make out.
11."Hi-Definition"--Lupe Fiasco, feat. Snoop Dogg and Pooh Bear. Lupe and Snoop could have been a huge misstep for both of them. It wasn't, and it's one of the best off The Cool, an album released late enough in the year that it might be unjustly forgotten.
12."Break The Ice"--Britney Spears. I love Britney so much more now that's she's given up on being a pop star (seriously, vocals were never her strong point). This is Britney: Dance Diva, and we're better for it.
13."Hallelujah"--Paramore. Emo-pop needs more girls as fiesty as Hayley Williams, though finding one with quite such a set of lungs (not to mention the hair I not-so-secretly covet) might be a challenge.
14."Fluorescent Adolescent"--Arctic Monkeys. This was so the year for the Arctic Monkey's so-called "difficult" second album. Though perhaps not as definitive as Whatever You Think I Am, That's What I'm Not, the band's Favorite Worst Nightmare proved they're still a band to watch. They tell great stories, and this is one of their best.
15."Don't You Know Who I Think I Am?"--Fall Out Boy. I often like Fall Out Boy most when they make it obvious that they can comment on their situation in the music scene with some humor. Plus, Patrick Stump's vocals on "I'm just a painter..." are unreal. These guys know how to write a solid pop song, even when, like this, it probably won't make it to radio.
You guys post your lists of stuff, or come argue with me in the comments!
Friday, December 14, 2007
Let me first admit that I'm kind of a sucker for these parasocial relationships I make with my TV friends.
Seriously, if Miranda Bailey existed in real life, she would be my best friend. And if Addison Montgomery-Sheppard was a real woman, I would bend over backwards wooing her. (But I'd settle for Kate Walsh, too. I love redheads.)
The Writers Strike plaguing our nation (and I use the world plaguing with full meaning, as it's slowly taking victim TV viewer after TV viewer as it's effects become more widespread and prominent) is seriously interrupting my traditional lifestyle.
Of my normally viewed shows, zero had new episodes this week.
While I'll admit that we may see very few Private Practices from now on (as I'm sure it won't make it past this season, regardless of whether I adore it or not), there are indisputable cult followings behind several of my other favorite shows — namely, Grey's Anatomy and The Office.
Seriously, the strike needs to end. As Claire pointed out, there are very few episodes remaining for several shows. And that's just not okay.
For those of you that haven't already heard of the internet campaign "Speechless," it's worth checking out.
Formed by striking writers, the site's videos (eventually there will be 50) cast highly recognized actors like Sean Penn and Holly Hunter in creative videos hoping to bring their message to light.
Here's a few.
Ugly Betty is one of my other favorite shows, and this one makes me incredibly sad:
I love Susan Sarandon:
I'll leave you with those two, but please do check out more on the site.
I miss Betty Suarez. :(
The technicalities: the Hype Machine is an mp3 blog aggregator, and it's been around since 2005. It basically pulls from a bunch of daily music blogs and websites around the web, and allows for easy compilation of all your favorite songs.
So if you, like me, are perhaps a bit behind the times, stop by and give the Hype Machine a look. Check it out!
Personal faves of the week:
Sea Wolf "You're a wolf"
Bloc Party "Flux"
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Patrick Dempsey whatever will we do without you?
An article in USA Today discusses the impact that the writer's strike will have on not only our beloved television shows but also on movies in 2008.
The verdict for television:
Less clever, innovative shows to get you through the week to Thursday night. More cheap, crappy reality shows. Might as well just unplug the TV.
New shows left of The Office: 0
New shows left of Grey's Anatomy: 1
Tonight's Grey's is a rerun - the coveted new episode will supposedly air at the beginning of the new year.
Thank goodness it's almost winter break, because if not I really don't know if I would make it...
The only good news - Law and Order will be returning to primetime. As if it's not easy enough to find 24 hours a day on USA or TNT.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
In all honesty, I couldn't have asked for a better first semester at the DI, or a better group of people to share it with. So, in honor of the two people who took a chance on hiring a chesty girl with no experience, I'd like to dedicate these two songs to my editors.
This one is for Boss Susan, not to be confused with Pal Susan:
(Let's face it, anyone who has talked to this girl about music for more that thirty seconds knows she's never listened to Neutral Milk Hotel.)
This one is for Paul Sorenson. No explanation necessary, trust me.
The clock had struck the witching hour and it was time to head to the show, which had led me to a mad scramble to find some earplugs around the house. Dinosaur Jr. is legendary for their ear-bleeding shows, so I figured I should track down some sort of protection. Much to my chagrin, the hunt was unsuccessful, but who needs ears anyway?
As my motley crew walked into the Picador, lead guitarist/singer/head songwriter/ax wizard/awesome personified J. Mascis was standing right there! He was just chatting with some dude. That kind of excitement is kind of like walking into your living room before you go to bed on Christmas eve and seeing Santa there eating the cookies. As happy as you are, you still know the best is on the way. My own personal J. Mascis, John Patrick Hennessy Jr., front man of Iowa City band Birth Rites, put in a request to J. for the song "Sludgefeast", which we thought was nothing more than a futile effort. I only caught the last opening band, a sort of psych-garage band Awesome Color, for their last few songs, but I liked what I heard. But then again, I was there for one band.
Just watching Dino Jr. set up their equipment was so imposing, J. Mascis plays with three gigantic half-stacks surrounding him at all times, a sight that made my dainty peter-pan looking ears quiver in fear. The crowd was a pleasant mix of fans; college kids to young professionals to 40-somethings. I've seen this one righteous looking dude around campus and at a Pearl Jam concert in Chicago two years ago, and every time I've seen him he has been wearing the same Dinosaur Jr. shirt, so I was hoping he would be there. Sure enough, he was there, and I told him that mildly entertaining anecdote that you were just graced with. Noice.
Dino Jr. finally slunk onto the stage casually, (J. Mascis just walked through the crowd onto the stage pretty much) and it was time for a collective head explosion. The set began with the opener of their 1985 album Dinosaur, "Bulbs of Passion", letting the crowd know early that this was going to be a career-spanning set. Most of the set was a healthy diet of early 90's songs like "Feel the pain", to new songs off this year's release Beyond, taking time in almost every song for J. to launch into an expansive guitar solo. Even with J's virtuosic skill, drummer Murph definitely is the band's MVP live, on point and pummeling with time and vicious drum fills. The set concluded Lou Barlow taking vocal duties, with another Dinosaur song, "Forget the Swan", providing a cool bookend feel to the performance. I was slightly crestfallen though, because my favorite album You're Living All Over me had been barely represented, actually not even at all at that point. Oh me of little faith. The encore was all that album, rocketing into "Kracked" and then "Sludgefeast" (my friend's request) right after. HELL YES. Needless to say,I sleazed my way up to
the front row with the reflexes of an lolcat ("I can has life changing momentz?").
Awesome night. My ears are still ringing pretty bad, but it was well worth it. If you had to miss out on this concert, I suggest seeing The Sword at the Picador, this Sunday 16th. I just talked to their drummer and all-around good dude Trivett Wingo on the phone and its going to be awesome.
But wait...could my obsession with freerice.com be anymore unhealthy? I'm like that photo-whore on facebook that posts 4 new albums a day and comments on every new picture any of her 800 friends' posts — only with freerice.com.
So I talk about it all the time. So my social conversations often segue to the new word I learned earlier today (did you know habberdasher means a seller of men's clothes?!) and I like to brag about all the grains of rice I've helped donate to the world (620 grains without a single miss). I don't think I have to defend doing a good thing and raising my IQ.
But then I start to wonder about these grains of rice sometimes. Just how much rice is 620 grains? Would it fill a single sushi order? Or the tray of chinese food the freshman waste in the dorms? I'm starting to feel helpless here. Maybe I need to play more. 620 grains isn't enough...what about 620,000? But is 620,000 enough to fill a bag? Maybe I need to donate 620,000,000..oh, god. there goes finals week and goodbye sanity if I didn't lose you weeks ago.
I admit to my problem. freerice.com has become my new facebook, msn.com, cnn.com, and hawk-mail combined. But whatever gets you through the end of the semester, right?
PS While writing this post I donated 980 grains...and learned that parry means to ward off...and...nevermind.
Fiest's dainty voice, playful horns, simple banjo, and jazzy piano all complete the song in a way that everybody is bound to like at least one part of the song. I call this the "machine-gun" approach-this comprises of throwing every trick you have out at once in hopes that each listener can't help but appreciate something in the song.
The beauty of this approach in her context is her video. It takes the same approach. Enjoy a minimalist's set? How about un-coached dancing? Bright sequenced colors? Group choreography? No one likes all of the above. But everybody likes one. And that is the beauty of Fiest. While some love her, its easy for everybody to at least like her (and that sells albums).
While I'm on this tangent, I have to talk about the filming of this video. It is all done in one shot. This is 3:20 of pure unedited footage. The average Hollywood film shot lasts 8 seconds. Music videos footage is typically even shorter in an attempt to keep viewers interested. Fiest blatantly disregards this standard and makes visual bliss in the process.
For a video to be one shot, there can be no mistakes, no movie magic, and no stunning images to keep the viewer engaged. In "1234", however, a slew of colorful dancers and eye tricks are all that is needed. Note the beginning and end as dancers seemingly appear and disappear. They have to be there, the filming never stopped. But they aren't visable. Take a look at the "Making of 1234" and see how the Directors use movie magic of a different kind. One that film makers used before computers, touch-ups, or minute editing.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
So I was flipping through the channels when all of a sudden I came across a combination of two of my favorite things in the world: Christmas and Shrek.
That's right: in case you hadn't heard the big news (I don't know how I possibly missed it) ABC aired Shrek the Halls on November 28, and apparently are re-running it whenever they can until Christmas. In this half hour short, Shrek, Donkey, Fiona, and the nameless babes all reunite to celebrate Shrek's first Christmas which of course entails Shrek being a grumpy ogre and hurting everyone's feelings along with some fart and booger jokes. What could make for better holiday cheer?
Will Shrek the Halls go up in the Christmas TV special hall of fame along with A Charlie Brown Christmas ? Probably not. Will it still be watched and enjoyed by children everywhere 40 years later like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer? I don't think so.
While he's always been green, since the first movie Shrek has just been filling his producers' pockets with more and more green until it's just tiring. He has turned into a money-making ogre with no respect for himself or what he once was and what he once taught us way back in his first movie.
Shrek has sold out. And for that I am disappointed.
Dec. 12th at 9 pm, Headlights will be playing at The Picador.
The band hails from Champaign, Illinois, a very musical town that has seen the rise of REO Speedwagon in the 1970's, over-looked alt-rock band HUM in the 1990s, and has become home to a current burgeoning indie-rock scene full of popular labels such as Polyvinyl and bands like post-rock quartet (my boys) Oceans. One of the scene's most on-the-verge bands of late is Headlights, who are pretty swell. I can use informal words like that because this is a blog. To add to this excitement, (in addition to my article in the Daily Iowan tomorrow) here is my brief interview with the lovely Erin Fein, singer/musician for Headlights.
What is it about the Champaign-Urbana music scene that makes it a perpetual breeding ground for upstart bands?
C-U is a college town so there are a lot of people coming and going. Shelf lives of bands can be short but there is rarely a shortage of bands. Also, we have had a lucky history of good promoters like Ward Gollings and Seth Fein. Good labels like Polyvinyl and Parasol. And great venues. Rent is cheap so you can easily afford a place to work and be creative. We live in a really cheap farmhouse where we can be noisy around the clock.
Was there any change in you guys' respective songwriting approach after the fluctuation of the bands/musicians you guys played with? Is there something musically to be learned from a band's break-up?
We have started touring with more musicians but we are still primarily writing as a three-piece. So the process hasn't changed much. However, we are starting to write more as a collective. Nick Sanborn and John Owen have really helped our live show. They've added percussion, noise, accordion and bigger harmonies. As well as live bass and extra guitars. Nick knows all those chords and he went to college and everything.
Being in another band hasn't necessarily affected our song writing approach but we've learned a lot over the years about what it takes to be in a productive band. And how to do it without burning out. So perhaps the lessons you learn from a band breaking up helps you stay together the next time around.
Hell yes. Speaking of music, Dinosaur Jr. is tonight. Look for my surely semi-entertaining, quasi-insightful, inappropriately lol-cats referencing review of the show hitting this blog soon.
Instead I will continue to out myself as a total loser (and also maybe a 14-year-old angst-ridden male). Finch, one of my favorite bands in high school, just announced a reunion tour. Excitement abounds, I know.
Things that intrigue me about Finch:
- babies suspended in ice cubes from CD art for What It Is To Burn
- a song about telling someone you love them ("Three Simple Words") turns into a murder anthem
- the music sounds infinitely better the louder it gets
- and yeah, that's about it, unless you include jumping around my apartment when my roommates aren't home
Even if you think you've never heard of Finch, it's likely "Letters to You" was inflicted upon you by some radio station in the late 2002's and you just don't remember. The band went on indefinite hiatus (i.e. broke up) after no one cared about 2005's Say Hello To Sunshine (including me).
2008 tour dates are as follows:
1/13 San Francisco, CA - Slims
1/15 Sacramento, CA- The Boardwalk
1/17 Seattle, WA - EL Coraza
1/18 Portland, OR - Hawthorne Theatre
1/21 Salt Lake City, UT - Avalon Theater
1/22 Las Vegas, NA - Jillians
1/23 Tempe, Arizona - Marquee Theatre
1/24 San Diego, CA - Soma
2/01 TBA, NY - (East Coast/Midwest tour coming soon)
Question: Who wants to jump around in the mosh pit with me as soon as the Midwest dates are announced?
*** out of *****
Half Kylie Minogue, half Madonna, and half French sex appeal (just making sure you’re awake), Alizée’s new album, Psychedelices, is a party necessity. Not to be mistaken for Alizé, the lavish drink, this Corsican singer goes down just as smoothly.
Sung entirely in French, lack of comprehension falls by the wayside as the smooth dialect glides over techno beats and alternative guitars, swelling with feminine confidence. While alternating her voice between a steady low and dainty high, Alizée’s album appeals to the electronica side of Europe and the electric rock influences of America.
Cole’s Picks: “Lilly Town” and “Mon Taxi Driver”
— By Cole Cheney
Bow Wow and Omarion
*** out of *****
According to the title track Face Off, there’s about to be some “mass hysteria.” They may be right. Rapper Bow Wow and R&B singer Omarion first collaborated in 2005, when Omarion added vocals to Bow Wow’s “Let Me Hold You” — and the rest is history.
After years of friendship, the pair decided to merge their musical styles together — hoping the combination would lead to greater success for each. The hip-hop beats and catchy lyrics make an interesting, yet pleasing combination. Face Off, the finished product, is definitely one for the charts. In fact, “Girlfriend,” the previously released single, already climbed to the past the half-way mark.
The rumor that this collaboration may be one of the best this year may be a bit overstated, but not far from the truth. In time, these young musicians are bound to please the masses, as they might say.
Lauren’s picks: “Face Off” and “Take Your Clothes Off”
— By Lauren Matovina
With that out of the way, allow me to talk about Foxboro Hot Tubs. They've been cool enough to put up a whole 6-song EP for free (legal!) download right here. Check it out.
Now let me tell you who they are:
That's The Network, a futuristic synth-rock group with song titles like "Supermodel Robots" and "Spastic Society." What do they have to do with FHT, a band with its sound and aesthetic clearly rooted in the 1960's?
That's right. Both bands come from the pop-punk juggernaut of Green Day. Like Billie Joe Armstrong could keep that voice hidden for long.
The Network was formed in the gap between 2000's Warning and 2004's American Idiot as a way to keep the band creatively energized without completely burning out on their typical fare. It looks like Foxboro Hot Tubs is doing the same thing, while managing to tide over us desperate GD fans during the interminable wait for whatever Billie Joe, Mike and Tré have coming next.
More along the lines of the underrated Warning, FHT speaks to Green Day's 60s influences, most notably bands like The Kinks. Check it out.
Yes, Andy Samberg. I'm an SNL purist, and the recent seasons have been grating on my die-hard love for the show, but I'll be damned if Samberg doesn't bring it EVERY TIME. He's a more adorable/less annoying Jimmy Fallon (not that I didn't also possess DEEP feelings for Mr. Fallon). His digital shorts (which he writes with Lonely Island buddies Akiva Schaffer and almost-as-cute Jorma Taccone) are the highlight of every Saturday's broadcast. He brings a youthful touch to an aging show. He's the silly in a sarcasm sandwich, and I love him for it. Though he hasn't been a member of the cast for long (relatively), Samberg has already made a significant contribution, and has made SNL bearable (along with Maya Rudolph and Amy Poehler, who never miss in my book).
Don't believe me? Judge for yourself...
Here's one for you Zac Efron fans.
*Oh, and I know we here at the Arts Blog are pro WGA in the Writers' Strike, but I'm going to post Samberg clips anyway. I think since he's a writer/performer, my karma's clean.
This may be in poor taste, but it's an OC parody. And I love Imogen Heap. And Shia LeBeouf. He's decently hot too, definitely good for a third-base makeout (can I write that?).
This little gem won an Emmy. I love any excuse for Justin Timberlake, the word "dick," Andy Samberg, and Kwanzaa (my favorite holiday) to be united. And I'm especially fond of the early '90s vibe with the suits and facial hair.
Unfortunately I just have to link to the rest of these because they're on NBC.com
Jake Gyllenhaal+Adam Levine+Andy Samberg+embattled Iranian President in NYC= Comic gold.
One of my favorite actresses, and a cameo by super-cute SNL head writer Seth Meyers. Let the shock wash over you.
Finally, this is the video that started it all. Double True.
Monday, December 10, 2007
So, if I don't read Pitchfork or listen to The Hype Machine, where do I find new music, you wonder?
First, the iPhone commercial with Feist's "1234" rocked my world and the iPod Touch features CSS's "Music is My Hot Sex" — which pretty much sums up my life (pathetic, but true). And now, the New Rhapsody/TiVo ad with Sara Bareilles "Love Song" has me addicted in a major way. You can watch the official music video on YouTube.
I'm off to listen to some Neutral Milk Hotel and pretend I'm cool again...
What I'm concerned with is the type of advertisements being shown on these channels, especially those for the military. When the average teenage male sits down to watch his Hawkeyes or another team of choice, what he doesn't realize is that these advertisers are taking advantage of their situation. Sports are one of the primary socialization agents of males. They encourage aggression, dominance, any many other hyper-masculine traits. Thus, when a military commercial airs during the middle of a football game, the male is already jacked up on testosterone - and now he wants to kick someones @$$ - essentially join the military.
So males, BEWARE!
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Let me explain; record labels like to save the best albums for the end of the year, often because they know it will be a great way to make up for sales shortcomings during the rest of the year. Holiday shoppers love buying CDs (not as much as they love free downloads or being in front of the checkout line, but you know, they love buying CDs during the holiday season more than during any other time) and us greedy kids love getting them under the tree (or whatever gift-giving ritual you may have).
This year, almost all of the awesome releases from big artists promised to us before Christmas Day have been pushed back or put on hold until after the new year. THAT SUCKS. I can't unwrap a free music download. I can't pull some crappy, half-finished version of an album out of my stocking. For whatever reasons, releases from Mariah Carey, Kylie Minogue, and Lenny Kravitz (to name examples that will cover the tastes of everyone reading this) have been pushed back.
There's a great article about this in the Jay-Z issue of Rolling Stone that came out a few weeks ago, so I won't attempt to take on the issue. But I will say while I'm waiting for my new album by Mimi, or MC, however you choose to refer to that crazy hand-waving diva, I'm reaching into back catalogues to hold me over.
Here are some older albums that I've been listening to, and videos courtesy of some fabulous ladies;
-Annie Lennox, Medusa
Song: "Waiting in Vain"
-Mariah Carey, Butterfly
-Madonna, Ray of Light
Song: "Drowned World/Substitute for Love"
-Sheryl Crow, The Globe Sessions
Song: "My Favorite Mistake"
Whatever, at least "Charlie Wilson's War" is still coming out on Christmas Day. Aaron Sorkin never lets us down (unless you include about eight episodes of "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.") So here's a movie trailer too:
Mike Nichols, Aaron Sorkin, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Merry Christmas.
Friday, December 7, 2007
In theaters today, New Line Cinema's The Golden Compass is a $180 million project based on a series of children's books entitled His Dark Materials, by Philip Pullman. The movie is ironically being compared to The Chronicles of Narnia - interesting, since the Narnia books feature a Jesus-like lion, Aslan, while the book The Golden Compass is outwardly atheist, the whole plot being for the child hero, Lyra, to kill God.
However, despite the symbolic undertones of theology Pullman weaved into the books, a recent article in The Atlantic Monthly exposes how Hollywood eliminated the atheism that lies at the heart of the story - don't want to offend American Christian audiences around Christmastime, now do you?
The controversy surrounding this latest epic-style movie is intriguing, and I think revealing about the way our society views religion. Yesterday's 80 Hours cover story also approaches this issue, looking at the different ways people celebrate (or choose not to celebrate) the holiday season - atheists included.
So even though Facebook groups such as "Do NOT support The Golden Compass" have popped up with over 180,000 members, the movie could prove to be a thought provoking experience - not necessarily to convert someone to atheism, but as a a movie worth intellectual discussion because of its social value in today's religious climate.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
What I actually like about this: the chorus is a recipe. It's useful! Keep an ear out for my smash hit coming soon, "Chocolate Chip Cookies."
Also, Tech is from the metropolis of Kansas City, MO. And he mentions it a LOT. And it never fails to amuse me. The Caribou Lou recipe, with actual proportions, is easy enough to find online (I feel like I might get in trouble for putting it here), and is always listed as the first and only drink to originate in KC. Whoo.
Also also, at 2:30ish, he references Ferris Bueller's Day Off which is AWESOME.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
It's been almost six months since the release of
Wild Hope, Moore's latest album. Coverage, her album before that, was released in 2003. Will it be four more years til her next release?
Call me crazy, but I happen to like Moore and her music. Sure, there was the two-year period where she dated Andy Roddick and I disliked her, but that was just jealousy. Even as a young girl she had a phenomenal, strong, soulful voice. I first fell in love with her after viewing A Walk to Remember, in which she played Jamie Sullivan, a teenage girl dying of cancer. And since then I've been hooked. Whether it be movies (my favorites being Chasing Liberty, How to Deal, and Because I Said So), music, or her clothing line Mblem, I just can't get enough of her.
And, unfortunately there's never much press coverage of her. I suppose in the realm of today's paparazzi that's a good thing, since all the photographers and reporters seem to gossip about are celebrity's negative qualities. So props to her for being one of the few celebrities that have managed to stay in the limelight. They do say any press is good press though. I hope her lack of coverage doesn't hurt her career. I'd be sad to see such a fine singer, songwriter, and actress fade away.
I want more Moore!