Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Best Records of 2008 - Honorable Mention

So, I'm finally going to list these things out and I want to start with ten records that didn't make the cut, but where pretty awesome nonetheless. In no order...

Jenny Lewis - "Acid Tongue". There hasn't been a record this year that I've been more back and forth on than "Acid Tongue".There are great songs on the record - "Acid Tongue", "Sing a Song For Them", "Godspeed", "Pretty Bird" - but there are also some plenty-fine-though-not-memorable ones as well - "Jack Killed Mom", "Bad Man's World", "Black Sand" - and there's the problem. Jenny set the bar too high on her last set of solo material, the brilliant "Rabbit Fur Coat", which had no filler whatsoever. "Acid Tongue" is fine and listenable and at it's best pretty damn great, but it just don't live up to its predecessor.

My Morning Jacket - "Evil Urges". "Evil Urges" was a rather divisive record. Some people straight hated it. Not me. I'm one of the eight people in the world who actually likes "Highly Suspicious." While there was certainly a good deal of departure from the expected MMJ sound, songs like "I'm Amazed" and "Sec Walkin'" kept it recognizable and anchored a really nice record.

Lykke Li - "Youth Novels". Swallow this, America - we live in a world where Lykke Li is not a pop superstar. Unbelievable. Youth Novels is a great pop record spearheaded by a number of absolute PERFECT pop singles ("I'm Good, I'm Gone" and "Little Bit"). But, alas she's probably a little too raw, a little too honest and most damningly too smart for the rest of the world. Which is unfortunate, but we'll keep her for ourselves...for now.

Tim Fite - "Fair Ain't Fair". Man, is Tim Fite great and he is criminally underrated. Last year, he released an online only record for free called "Over the Counterculture" which was a serious and highly political affair. It was excellent, but it wasn't necessarily fun. Enter "Fair Ain't Fair" - a kitchen-sink gem that served as the perfect antidote. Songs like "Sing Along" ("One more time for the la-di-da, three more times for the ba-ba-ba, we wanna, we wanna, we wanna la-la-la"), "Big Mistake" and "Yesterday's Garden" contributed to the best BBQ, not to mention hip-hop, record of the year.

Be Your Own Pet - "Get Awkward". "Get Awkward" was a strange swan song for Tennessee's Be Your Own Pet seeing as how three songs (including the record's best "Becky") were removed from the US version by their record label because they were deemed "too violent". Even without them, however "Get Awkward" was a ton of fun and BYOP's youthful vigor was in full force. It may not have been as good as their "pretty close to perfect" debut, but it was still good enough to make BYOP's breakup one of the most unfortunate in recent memory.

Kathleen Edwards - "Asking For Flowers". Kathleen Edwards ain't showy, but damn is she good. First and foremost, Edwards can spin a yarn, which she'd been doing over two sterling records prior to "Flowers". She's on par with some of the best songwriters currently working and her records continue to be reliable, if not wheel reinventing, gems.

Randy Newman - "Harps and Angels". People who think Randy Newman is just that guy who writes songs for Disney movies are wildly misinformed. At his best, Newman is the sharpest and funniest social critic and boy oh boy, does he hate President Bush. "Harps and Angels" is THE definitive protest record of the Bush administration, but besides that it's a fun listen and great to have Newman back pissed off.

Torche - "Meanderthal". Torche's "Meanderthal" is the best metal record I heard all year. It's kind of like anti-metal. Sure there's heavy, sludgy riffs, but oftentimes these are coupled with actual melodies making "Meanderthal" the best metal pop metal record since Queens of the Stone Age's classic "Songs For the Deaf".

Alejandro Escovedo - "Real Animal". "Real Animal" is simple good old fashioned rock 'n roll and who better to do it than Escovedo, a true rock 'n roll lifer and one hell of a songwriter. "Real Animal" looks back on a life made exciting and meaningful because of rock 'n roll. "Real Animal" is, at times, poignant, but never cheesy and producer Tony Visconti helps shape Escovedo's best record in a long time.

The Mountain Goats - "Heretic Pride". John Darnielle can stop surprising people already. He can rest on his laurels if he'd like, but it's as though he physically can't. Every Mountain Goats record is great...all of them. And his live show is consistently awesome. For "Heretic Pride" Darnielle has gone back to writing about characters, rather than himself, and the result is something approaching sublime, just listen to "San Bernadino" - it's simple and gorgeous and just may be my favorite Mountain Goats song yet.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Best Records of 2008 - The Hold Steady's Stay Positive


The Hold Steady are my favorite band. I cannot be objective when it comes to them. They are such a huge part of my life and I love them. I thought the best way to talk about their recent record "Stay Positive" would be to copy and paste and email I sent to some friends right after "Stay Positive" revealed itself to me. It's full of true passion. I really, really love this band. Here it is...

"Stay Positive"

WOW!!

I've had it for a month now and it just wasn't catching me. I would
listen here and there, but kept going back to like three or four
songs and skipping whole chunks at a time.

Three days ago, I made it a point to listen to the whole thing. To
give it my full attention. To listen to it two or three times if I
needed to. I didn't need to. By the time track three ended, I knew
that this was it. This is the album the Hold Steady have been
promising to make since record one. It's their masterpiece. It's
easily their best record and could quite possibly be one of the
single greatest rock 'n roll records EVER recorded.

It's exciting and It's contemplative, it's sad and it's funny, it's
nostalgic and it's right now, It's fresh and familiar. It's a study
of contradictions that work so perfectly together. It's inspiring.
It makes me want to listen to nothing but the Hold Steady. I just
keep going back and suddenly all the older songs are better. I was
running into getting sick of them because I've listened so much, but
now they're new.

I don't know how they did this. I couldn't have loved the Hold Steady
more then I did after "Boys and Girls". But I do. I love them more. I
want them to be the only band in the world. There just isn't room for
anyone else.

If you haven't been able to spend time with "Stay Positive", do it.
Please. You may think "One For the Cutters" is plodding, but then
around the fifth or sixth time, you hear the story and the
harpsichord and you'll realize it's the best song they've ever done,
until you hear "Slapped Actress" which is really the best song
they've ever done. It's so good.

I get chills.

This is why someone invented music

This is the greatest band in the world.

No doubt.

Be happy you're alive for them.

Really.

The Best Records of 2008 - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' "Dig!!!Lazarus Dig!!!


"Dig!!! Lazarus, Dig!!!" is awesome.

In 2004, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds released a double album which was really two separate albums called "Abbatoir Blues/Lyre of Orpheus". This is relevant because even after having been around for thirty years (counting his time with The Birthday Party as well as some non-Bad Seeds solo records), many considered "Abbatoir/Lyre" to be his masterpiece. I was one of those people. I was so drawn to that record and have spent so much time with it over the past four years.

"Abbatoir/Lyre" was going to be impossible to top. But then, all of a sudden it wasn't.

It all started when the first single from Nick Cave and the Bad Seed's latest record, "Dig, Lazarus Dig!!!", the title track actually, was released a full month before the record. I downloaded the song and listened to it for a month. It was an aggressive, strange carnival-barking sing along that had all the elements of the best in the Cave cannon.

But that was just the beginning. "Dig, Lazarus Dig!!!" is really a great record. Is it better than "Abbatoir/Lyre"? I'm not sure, but it's close and I have said at various points through the year that it was. I spent the past week revisiting it quite a bit while trying to put this list together and it's hard for me to decide. But, it really doesn't matter. In the context of the music released this year it is virtually without peer.

It is wonderfully ramshackle one minute ("Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!", "We Call Upon the Author") and then it's gorgeously poignant the next ("Hold on to Yourself", "Jesus of the Moon"). This is what sets "Dig!!!" apart. Whereas "Abbatoir/Lyre" were two records with two different styles, "Dig!!!" has managed to meld those two styles into just one perfect record. Cave is having a tremendous 2000's with two (really three) amazing records, not to mention a really fun side project with Grinderman last year. But can he top it? I'm not asking him to, but I wouldn't put it past him.

Sometimes my ideas don't make sense.

I keep a small notebook with me at all times. If someone says something funny, I write it down. If I say something funny, I write it down. If I see something funny, I write it down. If I have a sketch idea, I write it down. If I... you get it.

Anyway, sometimes I go back and look at it and I have no idea where something came from or why I thought something was funny, or even what it means at all.

This is a new column wherein I will look back through my notebook and transcribe exactly what I found...

"Fake AIDS. Maybe a guy pretends to have AIDS to get sympathy? Then maybe people find out he was lying, but then he actually gets AIDS and no one believes him like 'The Boy Who Cried Wolf'"

That's an actual idea I had at some point in my life.

Since there was no Gossip Girl last night - Pat Facts

-I have read the first fifty pages of "Infinite Jest" five times and have still never gotten further and now that David Foster Wallace has died, I feel sorely obligated.

-My favorite actor is Jeff Bridges.

-I hate vacations. Not time off, I love that, but the idea of using all your time off to go somewhere just seems stressful. Full disclosure, I haven't really been on many vacations, but I don't find them appealing at all. If I can drive somewhere in three hours, that's fine. That's more like a getaway. For example, like a cabin somewhere that sounds great. Hole up in a cabin for two days by a fireplace, drink wine and play board games - count me in. But, something for a week or more, no thanks. Especially if I have to actually do things like see sights. Ugh!

-While we're on this topic I also hate adventure of any sort. Even something like a roller coaster. Pass. I prefer to keep my feet on the ground thanks. Just getting through the day is enough of an adrenaline rush, you know? Waaaa Waaaaa! (I'm positive that last line didn't translate in writing).

-If I was going to name a boy child, the absolute last name I would call him is Brad.

-I almost always laugh during the show "Intervention". I know it's wrong, but I can't help it and it makes me feel bad about myself.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Best Records of 2008 - Okkervil River's "The Stand Ins"


Even if Okkervil River's "The Stand Ins" doesn't find it's way to the top of my best records list, it will stand firmly as the single most underrated record released in 2008.

"The Stand Ins" while brilliant, is coming on the heels of its companion piece, last years "The Stage Names" which happened to be my favorite record of 2007. Most fans of "The Stage Names" are still listening to "The Stage Names" seeing as how it's beautiful and all and I think some weren't ready for part two just yet.

Well get yourselves ready because "The Stand Ins" is almost as beautiful as its predecessor. Listened back to back, it truly feels like the greatest double album ever recorded - which is what it was intended to be. There's no filler. Not one even mediocre song between the two records and I'll say this - the only thing that gives "The Stage Names" the edge is that there is one more proper song than "The Stand Ins"

"The Stand Ins" is a bit more upbeat which, depending on your taste, can either add or subtract points I'd assume. It's emotionally complex, obviously and Will Sheff's songs play out like the greatest short stories, as usual. It's safe to say that Sheff is among the top three songwriters working right now.

In a lot of ways, Okkervil River are the anti-Hold Steady, which makes it odd that they are my two favorite modern bands. While The Hold Steady stress inclusion, Okkervil River tend to keep their fans at arms length. This actually works and is what makes their records so essential. You'll pick through each phrase uttered by Will Sheff and that's the point. I find Okkervil River to be very accessible, but they're the kind of band that while you can enjoy their songs the first time around, more will be revealed through repeated listens. Like Arrested Development. The show. Not the hip-hop group with Baba O Jay.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Mike Huckabee tries to explain why it's okay to be prejudiced against gay people in this country, but Jon Stewart is having none of it

That's pretty much it.

Carrie Fisher is my favorite person on earth

She's basically a real life Lucille Bluth. I love her. And I want her book right this minute.



She was so great, they kept her around for more awesomeness

The Best Records of 2008 - The Gaslight Anthem's "The '59 Sound"


For some reason, the Gaslight Anthem are usually lumped in with some wildly inferior bands (tourmates Rise Against spring to mind immediately) but they couldn't be further from that cookie-cutter mall punk sound. The Gaslight Anthem (and I'm stealing this) are more like Bruce Springsteen as sung by the Bouncing Souls.

Their latest record, The '59 Sound, is a truly great rock and roll record. It's unpretentious to a fault (they quote "Round Here" by the Counting Crows without a hint of irony) and manages to be earnest without a hint of cheese - no easy feat I assure you.

The Gaslight Anthem are indebted to their influences, name-checking them early and often (from Bob Seger to Tom Waits and the aforementioned Bruce Sprngsteen). The songs are uplifting and the canvas they're painting on, like The Hold Steady, may seem limited in scope, but in their hands surprises with minute details in lyrics that can make you laugh and cry. It's easy to see why teenagers love this band-they're singing about them-but these songs are anthems meant to be played loud and grown-ups will find just the right level of nostalgia to keep them interested.

There were better records released this year from a technical perspective - The Gaslight Anthem are not out to reinvent the wheel here - but, I don't really want to listen to those records as much as I do "The '59 Sound" which happens to be my most listened to release of 2008 and is looking to remain that way in 2009.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Because I would want to meet at Grand Central Station to talk about my abortion as well.

Wow. Wow. Wow.

Unbelievable. Really. Just great stuff last night. I even took notes.

-I want to start by saying there is not a more believable bloodline in television than CeCe, Lily and Serena. Those are three beautiful women.

-Eric had a funny line regarding Lily - "All she does is make lists and yell at people" which actually sounds a lot like me, except for the yelling at people part.

-Lily: "Nobody's comforted by a tuna tower." This was the line of the night until Ms. Blair Wladorf: "It's not maternal. I've been spending too much time with Cyrus and I'm turning Jewish."

-Here's the thing about the Cyrus/Blair relationship - It shouldn't work, but it totally does! Wallace Shawn is such a pro and when their scenes together end, I immediately want a new one, but unfortunately I usually just get Aaron.

-On the Aaron front. OH MY FUCKING GOD! Nobody like him, right? If you like Aaron, please let me know. This is a huge misstep in what has been an otherwise compelling season. I'm not saying Serena shouldn't have a not-Dan boyfriend, but you mean to tell me this guy was the best choice. And maybe the actor isn't as bad as I think, it could just be the character. I think it's a mixture. I think they both suck. I hate them and want them off my television.

- I always find it odd when grown ups know about texting. I mean, I know they know about it, both of my parents do it, but it still feels like something that should confuse grown ups and it doesn't. These are the same people who couldn't program VCR's in old cliches right?

-When Lily was listening to Bart's voice mail in the park I said "That lipstick is loud" and Mara motioned to my pad as if to say "write that down." I did.

-Tonight I started calling Rufus "Doofus". I know it's not that funny, but it made me happy and I can't believe it took me this long to get to that place.

-A word about Ed Westwick. He's amazing. Even when he's being over the top, and there were moments last night when he was flying really high above said top, he's compelling and believable. If Emmy voters weren't such snobs, Westwick would get nominated for his work in this episode. He ran the gamut of emotions like no other actor on this show and in just one episode. It was a tour de force. No jokes here at all, I was that impressed.

-He should have played Edward Cullen in Twilight.

-Apparently Lincoln Hawk only had one song and ol' Doofus loves singing it. At one point I couldn't find the name Lincoln Hawk in my brain and I referred to them as Falcon Crest. I knew their name wasn't Falcon Crest, but Mara thought it was funny and did the "write it down" gesture so, again, I did.

-"Death clarifies things. It brings some people closer together, pushes other people farther apart." Welcome to Cliche Town population Rufus Humphrey.

-Christ Dan and Serena! How many times do we have to go through the same thing over and over and over. We get it. You belong together, you're both boring. Just fucking do it already.

-I liked when Serena told Lily she was going away with her boyfriend and Lily told her she thought it was a great idea. Yep, it's a great idea for my high school aged daughter to go on vacation for a fuck paradise with a mousy looking twat. Makes sense.

-Oh, hi Aaron that's a great outfit for your dad's wedding. I see you've buttoned your top button that's great, but just one thing YOU'RE NOT WEARING A FUCKING TIE TOP BUTTON FACE!

-I thought the Lily and Chuck face-off would be nastier.

-How many turtlenecks does Rufus own and how have we not talked about this before?

-So, Lily had an abortion. We think. Or maybe she had a kid and gave it up for adoption. It's unclear. Either way. Whatevs.

-January 5th? I have to wait almost a month for a new Gossip Girl. Really? I don't know if I can handle this.

Anyway. A. No question. Great episode. Chuck alone is worth the A.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Best Records of 2008 - Portishead's Third


As a pretty big Portishead fan - their classic 1994 release "Dummy" is top 50 records of all time status with me - I was pretty excited when it was announced they would, after 11 years, release a very long awaited third record.

Said record, aptly titled "Third", may not be exactly what Portishead fans were expecting. In a lot of ways "Third" is less a reintroduction to a once beloved outfit and more an actual introduction to something different. The trip hop movement of the nineties, spearheaded by "bands" like Portishead as well as Massive Attack and Tricky, was pretty close to dead and, it seems, "Third" was basically the final nail in the coffin. When a group so tied to trip hop, as Portishead were, releases a record so outside the genre, you may as well just come to grips with the fact that it's over.

The good news is, this isn't a bad thing. Portishead version 2.0 is actually pretty awesome - they swell now and have synths and the drums kick in hard and fast at points. I think that's a ukulele driving the Beach Boys-esque harmonies in "Deep Water"! Beth Gibbons voice is still in tact though - as vulnerable as you remember it, but also as beautiful.

"Third" happens to be a revelation. It's not the easiest listen, but it's not supposed to be. Portishead were never easy and I wouldn't expect anything different from this new model. Just because they've made a different kind of record does not mean they should make it any easier for us. That's not to say I don't like easy - I do...very often. But, I also like to be rewarded for diligence and I stuck with "Third" and now it's unquestionably one of my favorite records of the year.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A few thoughts about this season of Top Chef

Surprisingly, I really like Fabio and can't stand Jamie.

I was positive I would hate Fabio - his alliance with Stefan, his "I'm better than the Americans" attitude - but I don't. Not even a little. He's kind of self deprecating and obviously talented and most importantly, he's funny. He's in my pro column for now.

But Jamie, oh Jamie. You were supposed to be my favorite. Oh, how you've disappointed. You're mean and though you're a tiny, cute lesbian with sweet tats I can see through you. I was fooled by a Kenley once and I shant be again.

Ariane is making the finals. This I'm sure of.

I always hate the guest judge, even when I like them I hate them.

My guess for Top Chef slogan T this year is either Fabio or Danny. Neither has said anything that memorable yet, but just wait.

Melissa's bangs are atrocious. I find it hard to look at her. That's mean, I know but still.

I kind of think Hosea and Leah are adorable, though I'm confident they'll get old really fast.

Eugene looks like he just got out of prison.

The guy who left last night, Alex I think, looks like the WWE wrestler Umaga.

Carla is awesome. There is no season without Carla. She's crazy. I fear she's not long for the Top Chef world and what a sadder world it will be.

There is no other reality show on TV that has contestants who use the phrase "throw (someone) under the bus" more than Top Chef. In fact, it may overtake "I'm not here to make friends" as the single most cliched reality show phrase period. Probably not, though.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

This is awesome

Funny or Die posted this video today and it's great. It's called Prop 8: The Musical and it exposes all of the Prop 8 supporters as the hateful bigots they are...except with jokes.

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

WOW

Those of you who know me, know I love Morrissey. I'm a huge Morrissey fan. But guess what? I am officially an even bigger Morrissey fan because apparently this is the cover of his new record...




There is a possibility this is not the cover art, but either way it's awesome and so is Morrissey.

Three more Pat facts - up from two last time.

I had pumpkin pie for the first time in my life this Thanksgiving. Turns out, it's pretty good. It's not great, but I'd definitely eat it again.

When I was a kid, I had a big crush on Leslie Ann Warren who played Miss Scarlett in the Clue movie.

I'm positive the greatest television character of all time is Jackie Harris played by the brilliant Laurie Metcalf on Roseanne. There may have been some that are more "socially important" or something like that, but for sheer entertainment and killer line reads - it's Jackie in a walk. Number two - Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development.

Because apparently Olympian Nastia Lukin was on last night's episode and I had no idea.

It's the Bart dies episode! Finally!

Let's just say the Chuck/Lily story is gonna get nasty and awesome. This has the potential to be a pantheon Gossip Girl moment, providing they don't mess it up like they did much of last night's episode.

For starters, there was too much going on in the world of Humdrum and Serena. I'm not even going to comment on it. They have the "metaphorical cutting of the tie" or whatever Dan said. Haven't they done this like thirteen times already?

Every time Aaron comes on screen I cringe. I'm so predisposed to hate this guy and his photos of Serena are not art, they're stupid.

Lexi was cute though.

I do love the mini-Blairs. They make me laugh. It's good to know there are girls out there who can carry on the Waldorf legacy while she's off at Yale.

My favorite is Hazel.

Oh and Lil' J is coming back to school bitches!

Rufus' record collection looked like shit, huh? For a hip dad who lent an imaginary Pixies box set to Nate I thought he would do better than Jeff Beck and Aeromsith. Jesus and Mary Chain? XTC, even?

Say what you will about Jessica Szhor, but my girl can cry. Vanessa spent most of last night crying. By the by, why can't Vanessa do one dastardly thing without having to come clean about it? She's too perfect. Frankly, it's a little annoying. And of course she's never felt that way about anyone before, Nate! The last person to show romantic interest in her was Dan. No one likes, Dan.

Which brings me, briefly, back to Dan and Serena - believe it or not, I wish they would get back together because then we'd only have to endure one Dareena storyline per week.

How great are Blair and Chuck? I mean, honestly. We don't even need to talk about it. They are absolute magic on screen together. When they're scheming, they can make even the worst episode at least passable.

Solid work from Dorota as per usual.

Line of the night: "I gave her that headband."

I didn't think it was possible for the GG wardrobe people to top Chuck's "anchor cardigan", but they have and I'm sure you all know what I'm talking about. That sparkly jacket was ridiculously awesome!

Why are there always parties and balls in the world of Gossip Girl? I mean always.

I guess I should talk about Rufus and Lily...there I talked about it. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

The see through dress wasn't all that see through. I mean, who cares really? You can see more Serena tit in clothes that aren't see through. Vanessa should have owned it, that would have been great

Dan was excited for the snowflake ball. You know why? Dan's gay.

The Norman Mailer reference was forced. Remember when Norman Mailer was on Gilmore Girls and you totally believed it? Me too.

Beta Chuck. HA!

I used to work right under an elevated subway train and when the train is going by, you cannot hear the person on the other end. I used to have stop conversations. Dan, though, had no problem.

Overall not great, but Blair and Chuck knock it up a full letter grade, so B-

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Things I'm Thankful For

So, people love making Thanksgiving "What I'm Thankful For" blog posts. It's true - they do. Well guess what so do I.

These are things I'm thankful for

-First, people - I'm thankful for my loving parents and family, my super kick-ass girlfriend/best friend Adrienne, my super kick-ass roommate/best friend Mara, all of my friends, but for the purpose of this blog only the ones who I know read it, so Joann, Lorianne, Elana, Brooke and Torp (if anyone else reads it, well, I'm sorry, I had no idea) and my cousin Ann, who I know reads and who was very recently responsible, along with myself, for stealing a signed photo of Matt Lauer from a bar after a Squeeze show. Also, I'm thankful for The Dan Ryan and my comedy wife Sarah Walker and by extension, Twinzees.

-Professional wrestling. I know some people think it's lowest common denominator entertainment, but there's an art to it that only people crazy enough to see it get. It's ballet. A weird, testosterone driven ballet. Special thanks to Edge, for being consistently entertaining and to Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels for working the best program I've seen in, probably, five years.

-Bones. The television show Bones, which is very quietly one of the best, most consistent shows on TV. This is thanks mostly to the two leads David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel whose chemistry drives the show as a sort of modern day His Girl Friday.

-The Hold Steady. For existing.

-Sam Adams Winer Lager. I know, it's so stupid to put a beer, but I really love the stuff. It's delicious.

-Bits

-Sound Opinions - the world's only rock 'n roll talk show.

-Sports Radio 66 WFAN. I honestly could not live without it.

-The "Murmer" reissue and the "Brighten the Corners" reissue. I'm not sure what it says about me when I get more excited for reissues of records I already own then new records I haven't heard yet. I'm getting old.

-Impressions that my co-workers do - especially Ted's Bruce Springsteen and another one, Mike's Kat Williams and Torp's Keith Hernandez. They're all special in their own way.

-Brunch - It's my favorite thing in the world

-Magazines - They're great.

-The January returns of Big Love and Friday Night Lights, two of my favorite shows.

-TV on DVD. It's really one of the best things to happen in modern technology. You mean I can watch any Roseanne whenever I want? Stop. No, you can and it's great.

-Music Hall of Williamsburg - You mean there's a venue where even I can see the stage? Wow.

-Gossip Girl

-Adrienne's Turkey meatloaf because it's almost better when used for sandwiches following it's initial run.

-The New York Jets - just having a fantastic year.

-The New York Mets - they break my heart every year, but I'd rather have them than not have them, you know?

-1littlefish - for making my blog legit.

-The great comedies of 2008 - Pineapple Express, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Tropic Thunder and Role Models. I loved them all and Bill Hader was in almost all of them.

I'm sure there's more, but I'm spent so...there's that.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Best Records of 2008 - David Byrne and Brian Eno "Everything That Happens Will Happen Today"


David Byrne and Brian Eno's "Everything That Happens Will Happen Today" is the lead horse in my best of the year list right now.

I can't say enough about this record. Byrne and Eno are an intimidating force. They're much smarter than everyone (a fact made plain in a great quote from former Talking Heads bassist Tina Wymouth. When asked about the friends, she derogatorily said - and this is paraphrased - when they're old they will be each other's only friend because no one else is smart enough) and their music is sometimes very inaccessible.

Some adore their first non-Talking Heads collaboration, 1981's "My Life in the Bush of Ghosts", but I've always found it sort of cold. There are stellar moments, but as a whole I don't revisit it much. The complete opposite is true of "Everything That Happens..." It's warm, inviting and instantly accessible. It's Byrne and Eno inviting everybody to the party rather than having a selective guest list.

In "Bush of Ghosts" Byrne and Eno used found sounds and basically cut and pasted them together in an experiment that pre-dated electronica. The new record relies on actual music and melody - it would sound right at home next to Eno's work with Byrne's Talking Heads.

This is a really good thing. "Everything That Happens..." is a positive, dare I say, pop record with themes of wonder. Byrne's vocals have never been better and the lyrics evoke a childhood curiosity that suits the easy, relaxed vibe of Eno's arrangements.

In short, I love this record. Byrne and Eno have remarked that this was their stab at an "electric gospel" record. Okay. Sounds good to me. Regardless, it's easily one of the best records of the year.

The True Blood finale was bad

Really bad...achingly bad.

Nothing happened! Absolutely nothing. In fact, this post is gonna be really short because I don't remember anything happening and the whole Rene chases Sookie and tries to kill her thing, I was nodding off...literally. This isn't some hollow statement "Oh, it was so bad, I fell asleep." No metaphor. I was falling asleep during what, I'd imagine, was supposed to be the most tense moment of the series.

Here's the verdict:

-Tara's not dead which is a shame.
-Jason, who was completely uninterested in the anti-vampire church while in jail, is now apparently a part of said anti-vampire church.
-I can't remember what happened with Sookie and Bill, but it was boring and Bill almost burned to death which actually would have been great.
-I kind of, sort of like the Balfour brothers and I'm interested in why Andy has such an ax to grind re:Jason.
-Funniest moment of the year - Arlene digging through Rene's box and finding the cassette titled "Cajun Dialect for Actors." It was so faux tense. I laughed out loud.

All in all True Blood was and is so very bad. I'm glad it's coming back though, because I really love to hate it. See you next summer, Sookie!

Meanwhile bring on Margene!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Twilight - The Final Verdict

Alright, so Twilight the movie was fine. Just fine. Here were the best parts...

-Anna Kendrick as Jessica - Without a doubt the best thing about the movie. Great timing, super funny - she nailed it. In fact, the best stuff in the entire movie was the high school stuff. It's amazing that I find all of these minor characters scores more interesting than both Bella and Edward.

-Charlie in the movie is way better than Charlie in the book.

-As suspected they cut out a lot of talking. In fact, there were some really quick unintentionally funny moments wherein music would swell and you would see Bella and Edward talking to each other, but wouldn't hear it. Thank God.

-The movie had a sense of humor, which I was shocked by.

-Three words - Edward plays piano. This is the funniest thing in the movie. It's almost worth the price of admission for how ridiculous it is.

-The "baddie" vampires are in the whole movie instead of just at the precise moment where Stephanie Meyer realized there was no action in her story.

-Alice's badass killing of James.

Alright, here are the bad parts...

-Robert Pattinson - He's really not a good actor.

-Not enough Jacob - I happen to like Jacob. Apparently he comes into play much heavier in the later books and becomes a possible love interest for Bella. There are some fans who claim to be in Team Jacob as opposed to Team Edward. I don't fall into either camp, but I like the actor who played Jacob much better than Robert Pattinson.

-The last 200 pages of the book make up for about ten minutes of screen time, which is a shame because the last 200 pages of the book were the only interesting part. Put it this way - it was really easy for Bella to get away from Alice and Jasper.

-Not enough Alice. I love Alice. She's my favorite character in the book. She's barely in the movie.

-Did I mention Robert Pattinson is not a good actor? He's not.

-The Twilight series hates sex. Hates it.

All in all the film was overwrought like the books and ultimately unsatisfying. Twilight baffles me. I should love it, but I don't. I'm still gonna read the next book though.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Let's Hope For Berlin

This is amazing. Absolutely amazing. I almost feel bad for Kristen Stewart here. Key word is almost. It's a really bad interview, but not in a Lauren Conrad way, more in a "alright, Kristen Stewart you may act it, but I'm positive you don't have anything better going on. Show some enthusiasm, you're on Letterman for god's sake.



To see a young actress absolutely nail her first Letterman interview look no further than Blake Lively...



And I don't even like Blake Lively all that much, but she's really good at being interviewed by David Letterman, that's for sure.

Best of 2008 Part 1

So, the end of the year is fast approaching - that time of year for my most pretentious pasttime - telling you what the best records of the year are!!!

So, I usually do top 20. I don't know how it's going to work this year. I think I'm going to just start writing about random records that I thought were great this year here and there and then when it really comes close to the end of the year I'll post the definitive list.

These are all the records in contention in absolutely no order. This may change as I may have forgotten something. We'll see.

Blitzen Trapper - Furr
Okkervil River - The Stand Ins
Los Campesinos! - Hold on Now Youngster
Titus Andronicus - The Airing of Grievances
The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
No Age - Nouns
Cadence Weapon - Afterparty Babies
Calexico - Carried to Dust
The Cool Kids - The Bake Sale
David Byrne and Brian Eno - Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Dig! Lazarus Dig!
Lucinda Williams - Little Honey
Deerhunter - Microcastle
Department of Eagles - In Ear Park
Drive By Truckers - Brighter Than Creations Dark
Dr. Dog - Fate
Evangelicals - The Evening Descends
Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
Frightened Rabbit - The Midnight Organ Fight
Times New Viking - Rip It Off
The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound
Girl Talk - Night Ripper
The Gutter Twins - Saturnalia
Islands - Arm's Way
Jennifer O'Conner - Here With Me
Kathleen Edwards - Asking For Flowers
The Kills-Midnight Boom
The Last Shadow Puppets- The Age of the Understatement
Lyle Lovett - It's not Big It's Large
M83 - Saturday Youth
Marnie Stern - This is it...
Martha Wainwright - I Know You're Married...
The Mountain Goats - Heretic Pride
Oxford Collapse - Bits
Portishead - Third
REM - Accelerate
Ra Ra Riot - The Rhumb Line
She and Him - Volume One
Shearwater - Rook
Silver Jews - Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea
Bob Mould-District Line
Steven Malkmus - Real Emotional Trash
Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
Sun Kil Moon - April
Tim Fite - Fair Ain't Fair
TV on the Radio - Dear Science
Jenny Lewis - Acid Tongue
The Walkmen - You and Me
The War on Drugs - Wagonwheel Blues
Wolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer
Be Your Own Pet - Get Awkward
Black Mountain - In the Future
Death Cab For Cutie - Narrow Stairs
Beck - Modern Guilt

Twilight - I'm ready to get this over with.

Alright, so I've got Twilight at ten o'clock. I finished the book last night and let me tell you - Eeesh. Not good. I can still see it being a decent enough movie because they will have to cut out at least fifty percent of the book. Parts like - Bella and Edward talking, Bella and Edward brooding, Bella and Edward lacking any sort of sense of humor, Bella and Edward asking each other questions and then answering them and vice versa, Bella and Alice talking, Alice drawing, Jasper and Alice talking, Jessica and Bella talking etc. etc.

It moves at a snails pace. There is no action. In fact the only action in the whole book (the James/Edward fight) doesn't even happen. I mean it does, but Bella's passed out so we only hear about it. It does look like it's actually going to happen in the movie, which is a plus.

Also, that scene in the trailer when they're high in the trees, that's not in the book and it looks awesome. So, hopefully the movie takes liberties on the books many deficiencies. This might make teenage girls mad, but it will make me happy.

I have to say, I'm not so big on this Twilight thing. It's the first YA thing that has actually made me feel creepy - and I watch Degrassi. I could always justify things like Degrassi though, because come on, I love it for the cheese factor. And the Gilmore Girls because the writing was sharp and they made Sonic Youth references and the characters were quirky and interesting. Not Twilight. Twilight has none of those things. Twilight feels like it was made for child molesters.

Which is why I find it weird that adult women love these books. It's kind of gross. To me, this all or nothing relationship between Bella and Edward is so high school where every moment is of the utmost importance and everything is the end of the world. It's pretty real in those cases, but shouldn't most adults look back on those things and be grossed out by them and not want to revisit them.

Further, a lot of these adult women who love these books have daughters. Would they want their teenage daughters pledging things like "I'd rather die than be without you" to any boy at that age, especially a boy they just met. It seems to be sending the wrong message.

Lastly, grown women lusting after the Edward Cullen character is as creepy as it gets. I know, I get it - he's supposed to be 100 years old, but he looks like a high school kid and is in love with a high school girl - which 100 years old or not makes him a teenager. Gross.

Alright, I'll be back later tonight or, more than likely tomorrow, for thoughts on the movie.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

1 day until Twilight

I'm actually getting sick of Twilight. It's actually a bit frightening the way girls are reacting to this thing. They're screaming and crying. Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart were on the Today show this morning and it was super weird. I'm pretty sure Kristen Stewart hates Robert Pattinson because he's kind of creepy and clearly in love with her and she's like "no thanks." My favorite is her answer to the question as to why she thought Pattinson should play Edward...



"I shop at used book stores" aside, I kind of like Kristen Stewart.

Anyway, the book is just about done and it's not really exciting. They really just talk about stuff. They sit in places and talk and talk and talk. Stephanie Meyer is not a good writer.

My excitement level is down almost to "Can I just get this over with already"

Two Pat facts...Enjoy

1.) I love AC/DC.

(Here are bands that AC/DC is better than - Guns 'N Roses, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Kiss and Van Halen. Here are bands that AC/DC is not better than - Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Aerosmith, Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.)

2.) I don't watch any incarnation of Bravo's Real Housewives series. I know when you're watching Top Chef or Project Runway and you see the commercials for "The Real Housewives of some place or another" you probably think, "I bet Pat watches those shows and I bet he loves them" because it looks like I would and because you often spend time thinking about my television watching habits. Truth is, I've never seen an episode. It's not for any high horse reason and I'm not judging you if you like those shows at all. It just so happens I've never seen it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Twilight update

Alright, so this is three posts in a row that deal with vampire related topics. Couple that with all the True Blood stuff and this blog is becoming scarily goth.

Anyway, I bought my tickets for Twilight today and I got a little further in the book and business has picked up. Bella just had to tell Charlie she was leaving since "the hunter" is after her. There was a lot of fast driving and Edward telling everyone what to do and there was baseball, which seemed odd.

I'm positive the movie will be way better than the book and as a result my excitement level has increased to really excited.

Something I love today

Videogum posted this video yesterday and I'm obsessed with it.



It really makes me laugh. In my DJ Bobo research though, I came across some pretty disappointing news. He's not actually one of those weird dudes who thinks he's a vampire. It's just a song. In fact DJ Bobo is huge in Switzerland, like super-duper huge, like Madonna huge. He's got a million songs - they are mostly all bad, but still he's got a million of them and he's super popular so he gets the last laugh.

Anyway, "Vampires Are Alive" is still really funny. I especially like this line - "Tonight is the night of a thousand years/Don't be scared, don't drown in tears." When he heard it, my friend Jay said "yep, those words rhyme." That's funny.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Twilight countdown

Alright, so I'm absolutely swept up in the hype surrounding Twilight, which comes out on Friday and which I will see that night. Truth is though, I'm reading the first book now and I actually kind of hate it. I'm almost done and it really feels like nothing has happened. I'm 350 pages in and all that fighting and stuff that you see in the movie's trailer hasn't even happened yet. Hell, I haven't even gotten to the reveal that Jacob is a werewolf. All they do is talk. "Do you have questions?" "Yes and I'm going to ask some now." And then they ask each other questions. Shit it was 200 pages before she even found out he was a vampire.

I thought I would be way more swoony for it and I'm just not.

But alas, it's a big pop culture moment so I'm in.

My big question though, will it make $65,000,000 in it's first weekend? I'm actively hoping it does.

I'll be updating my Twilight excitement status throughout the week. Right now it's pretty excited.

I was way more excited for Nick and Norah though. Apparently I only get excited for movies based on YA novels. I don't even want to think about what that says about me.

Beyonce corners the market on awesomeness

I had always held up Beyonce's "Crazy in Love" as the benchmark for the modern R&B/dance single. It's the best one and, honestly, nothing has come close since (Alicia Keys' "No One" may be the closest, but even that's not very close).

Why do I bring this up? Well, Beyonce may have done it. She may have bested herself. I'm not positive yet, but it's damn close. "Single Ladies" may be the best R&B/dance single of the modern era (which I put at, well, the last fifteen years). While the subject matter may be a bit anti-feminist (why should a woman need to be engaged to feel fulfilled in a relationship? Not all women even want to get married), it's infectious groove, killer chorus and "woah,oh, oh's" (also used to brilliant effect in "Crazy in Love")put it in the pantheon.

Congrats Beyonce. You're officially our generation's Tina Turner and that's no easy feat.



PS: While I don't own any Beyonce albums (I imagine there's a lot of filler) there is no way that her greatest hits record is not going to be a five star perfect, all-time top album, like Immaculate Collection good. Think about it, "Crazy in Love", "Ring the Alarm", "Deja Vu","Baby Boy", "If I Were a Boy" "Irreplaceable" and "Single Ladies." Shit!

It's like ripping up emancipation papers for an early Christmas present.

I'm guessing this will not be the majority opinion today, but I really liked Gossip Girl last night. I found it sweet natured and, dare I say it, nice. On a show that's usually so mean spirited and cold, it's kind of comforting when everything ends up working out in the end. I don't want it to happen too often, but as a change of pace every once in a while, I'm on board.

Let's get into it.

-Oh Vanessa. Poor, naive Vanessa. Her description of her Thanksgiving pre-Humdrum Humphrey invite was nauseating. This is paraphrased, but apparently she was not going to spend it with her parents who were staging a vague protest, but rather she was going to go "to her studio" Ugh! "rent Berlin Alexanderplatz" Super Ugh! and "have an Amy's organic" dinner Ugh to the ugh ugh. I rewound it just to hear it twice. Everything about it was annoying. Here's the thing though - I totally bought it. What else would a pretentious 17 year old "artiste" do on Thanksgiving?

-Dorota's fast becoming my favorite character. Her ringtone for Eleanor - "I"m a Slave For You." Priceless stuff.

-Line of the night, as ush, goes to Blair for her disdain at the Rose's daring to take her shopping...at Century 21. I cackled.

(PS: I really need to start writing things down when I watch so I can stop paraphrasing - I did it once, but now I keep forgetting. Sorry)

-I loved how the FBI agent, Vanessa and Chuck had to literally spell everything out for poor, stupid Nate. Or at least I though of him as poor, stupid Nate until Mara said, and I agreed, I don't know what's going on either.

-Aaron is so fucking horrible that I am officially starting to like Dan. Like, actually like him. To the point where I was totally on his side last night. I don't want to like Dan. Please, get rid of Aaron.

-Side bar - I know everyone is pretty convinced that Bart is dying and he probably is, but does anyone want to start a write-in campaign suggesting they rewrite it and make it Aaron?

-Mara hated the episode last night and I kept getting mad at her throughout. Great example is when Nate was delivering his speech to the Captain she was sighing and complaining and I paused it and said "stop, I am trying to have an emotional moment." I'm a fag.

-Another was when she was trying to make sense of the whole Captain kidnapping Nate and his mom. Mara: "Why would her parents pay him off when they won't even give them money now?" Me: "It's fucking Gossip Girl!" She's probably right.

-Everybody hates Lil' J and last night, I certainly called her bad names, but let me submit this - at least she brings drama. Real drama. Let's see, emancipation from parents vs. an idiotic scrufftastic boy learning about your "sordid" past...I'll take the former every time.

-Blair loves holidays...all of them and they never seem to be going her way, but then they do!

-Also, Aaron FUCK OFF! Why can't Serena drink if she wants to. Drinking is fun, you asshole. Does anybody like this guy? Here's how that went down for realz..."So Serena here's the thing I'll stop fucking other girls, but the only way I'll do that is if you stop drinking. I really need you to take care of me." It was blackmail, essentially. I hate him, I hate him, I hate him.

-I love Vanessa stealing the letter at the end. For all the sweetness and light in the show prior to that, it was the quintessential bitchy Gossip Girl moment.

-Memo to the writers: A Pixies box set doesn't exist. Therefore Rufus cannot own it and one step further, since it's imaginary he could not have lent it to Nate.

-Lily is so totally in love with Rufus, though her secret name for him in her cell phone is "R" which doesn't really cover her ass.

-Lily was institutionalized. Big effin deal. I thought those were going to be sex pics.

-How inappropriate was Serena's Thanksgiving dress? Very. But it was still awesome.

-I spent a lot of time trying to figure out Chuck's mothers age. 8/7/69! She wouldn't even be forty. Really? You expect me to believe that she had Chuck at 21? Come on. That was the most unbelievable thing in the show's history.

Alright, I'm spent. I'm grading this one on a curve. I understand the complaints, but I really liked it. Mara actually said it was the worst Gossip Girl ever. I imagine a lot of people would echo that sentiment, which means if she gives it an F and I give in A, I should meet in the middle with a C, but this is my recap and I liked it so...

Final Grade: B

Monday, November 17, 2008

Because I just need it once more, to complete the circle

You may have noticed that I haven't really written about True Blood much lately. Why? Because I've actually liked it for the past few weeks and in my world if you don't have anything bad to say, you probably shouldn't say anything. Where's the fun in that.

But last night? It was bad! Real bad. So, congratulations, True Blood - you're back exactly how I like you...terrible.

You can trace True Blood's slow ascent and quick demise to the arrival (and subsequent killing) of Stephen Root and Lizzy Caplan; or the only two characters on this show that have ever been even remotely interesting.

First, Root's Eddie was the best thing on the show period. He was complex and likable and provided, for just a few moments, some heart in an otherwise freezing cold show. Root's performance was a revelation and makes me hope there is some more dramatic work in his immediate future.

Second, Caplan's Amy. I know, you hate her. Guess what? You're supposed to! To the contrary, you probably also hate Sam and Tara and them you're supposed to like. Unlike pretty much everything else on this show, Amy was intriguing. Why was she at Fangtasia to begin with? and why Jason of all people? Was she really going to quit "V" for Jason, or was she just a sociopath? There were a million possible story threads here infinitely more interesting than Sam as a dog or anything involving Sookie including "the murderer" subplot that's supposedly "driving" the show.

The show really went off the rails last night and there's only one more episode left in the season! The stuff with Bill and Jessica, the Christian girl he "made" into a vampire, was brutal. It was like the worst sitcom ever. Plus, it was devoid of any real emotion - this was supposed to be the hardest thing Bill has ever had to do in his vampire life and it was treated like a throw away moment. Very poorly done.

"Are you looking in my head" "No, I'm looking in your heart" Oh god. Really. There's your True Blood quote of the week, my friends. Pretty much quote of the year. Sums up the horrible hack dialogue that has plagued the show since the first episode.

Faux-nicio Del Toro is the killer. Who cares?

Credit where credit's due - I still don't hate Jason.

Still hate Tara, Tara's mother, Sam, Lafayette, Bill and Sookie though so...

If I were Tara and my mother were refusing to let me come home after I'd put up with all her shit for so long, I would have looked her right in the eye and told her to take a drive to the pharmacy where that fake exorcist works, look for the lady in the ridiculous wig and rip it off and then see if you're still not drinking. Here's the thing, Tara would have done the same thing. Tara's awful. Yet, suddenly she's developed a conscience. Please. Alan Ball knows nothing of consistency.

I liked the way the guy in the diner pronounced the word "vampires"

I guess I'm supposed to be intrigued by this new lady. I'm not...

Thank goodness there's only one episode left.

Is it time for Big Love yet?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I feel guilty that a part of me wants this to be real.


So, this is a National Enquirer picture that is, apparently, Cindy McCain kissing a dude at a Moody Blues show - A dude who is clearly not her husband, Senator John McCain.

Now, this is the National Enquirer so take this grainy snapshot with some measure of skepticism, but holy shit! If this is, in fact, Mrs. McCain - which it probably isn't, but if it is, this is funny on so many levels - not the least of which being that it was taken at a Moody Blues concert.

I'm skeptical in that I don't think Cindy McCain would run around willy nilly kissing middle aged dudes with ponytails at a rock show. However, the pic was taken in Tempe, Arizona and couple that with the fact that a McCain spokesperson declined to comment and we may just have a mini scandal on our hands folks.

Remember that story about people overhearing John McCain calling Cindy a "C"? Well, he may just be getting his comeuppance.

And to think there's is purported to be the "family values" party.

A woman I hated on my walk home from the train

My walk from the train to my apartment is pretty long - it takes somewhere between 20 and 25 minutes. On that walk I often come across people I immediately decide to hate...here's one.

I was walking behind a woman who was talking to a friend on her cell phone, loudly, which is annoying but I'm not as perturbed by that as some. Here's why I hated her - all I heard of her conversation was "I told Sam Champion about it. I emailed him today at work. Ha! Ha! Ha!" and then she repeated it again for the benefit of those who may not have heard her.

Now, this is annoying for both of the possible meanings it could have.

The first, of course, is that this woman actually works with weatherman Sam Champion and wanted people to know that she can have an email correspondence with him at work. This is stupid because, honestly, no one cares about Sam Champion, but it's also quite possible. This is certainly worthy of hate, but it's the other possible reason this woman may have had to make this statement that is actually even worse...

This woman was making a joke about the weather.

It's starting to get cold and this makes some people unhappy. My guess is this woman was having a discussion with a friend of hers about how the change in the weather is displeasing to them, so she was essentially saying, "don't worry I took care of it, I emailed Sam Champion."

Ugh.

It's such a bad joke.

I can't believe that it's worse than dropping Sam Champion's name to try and impress passersby.

Either way, this lady sucked. And I hate her.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Because it's a lot like burning your dresses in a metal garbage can, you know, like a hobo

Oh, Gossip Girl - so good and so bad in just one episode.

Before I even can get started I must thank the GG gods for the casting of Wallace Shawn as Eleanor Waldorf's new man, Cyrus. He's hysterical and it looks like he's going to be around a while, so kudos to Josh Schwarz and staff for bringing in what will certainly be the best part of every episode he's in.

NOT ENOUGH!

I can't say enough about Lieghton Meester's reaction shots. She's the new Bea Arthur, I swear. So often she needs to say absolutely nothing and I still loose it.

Remember when Neli Yuki was brought in by B with the express purpose to...well I don't really remember. Mara and I thought it had something to do with SATs, but i'm positive it was nefarious and now she's part of the clique? Alright.

I hate everything about Aaron. He's Dan Humohrey times ten. He could not possibly be worse. First of all, the maps thing - ridiculous. And someone like Serena Van Der Woodson would not fall for that, any other seventeen year old girl - absolutely, but S is supposed to be sophisticated, right?

Ugh and how creepy was the room with the white sheets and the video of Serena. He's so slimy.

I hate him.

Let's turn to my roommate and friend, Mara Lander, and see what she thinks about the new Serena/Aaron romance (this is taken directly from an email I received this morning. It begins referencing Serena) Really? You’re a free spirit because you wore your beautiful pajamas that are basically a dress to the park? This makes you a hippie? And you’re 17 and casually dating and have a successful art career? Right? We’re supposed to assume that whatever his name is mustache guy is the same age as serena. They went to camp together. And you had a solo show in a happening Bedford gallery and are casually dating your models at age 17. really?

I desperately want Agnes to go away, but strangely not as much as Aaron.

Chuck stuff was blah. I don't need Chuck's daddy issues.

The Dan stuff - super lame. Did you for one second actually think he was going to go through with writing the story? He's a big pussy, just like his father - the worst parent in the world.

Jenny's turn for the worse has been way abrupt.

No Vanessa and no Nate. I miss them when they're not around. It just goes to show what too much S and Lonely Boy can do to make otherwise lame characters missable.

You know what I want? More Hazel! Her delivery on "beggars can't be choosers" as referenced to the weird bus boy with the Flash Gordon hair was kind of Blair-y. In a really good way.

Remember when Lil' J stripped to bra a few weeks back in order to have pictures taken of her by Agnes' pervy boyfriend? Yeah, that guy isn't as creepy as Aaron. (I'm really all over the place with this, but just when I think I'm done with Aaron stuff something else pops in my head and I'm right back at it)

"I am Grace Kelly. Grace Kelly is me."

Dorota meeting Cyndi Lauper was absolute magic. Also pointed out by my roommate and wholly agreed upon from me - it was weird having Cyndi Lauper come to play Blair's party and then never having us see it happen.

I was really glad when Serena said "Thanks for the condescending lecture" to that dickhead Aaron because it was exactly what I was thinking except I would have said something more along the lines of - "alright, fuck off."

Alright, well I think that's it. Pretty weak episode, I'd say especially in comparison to the last two. Scenes for next week look good what with the return of The Captain, so hopefully we'll have less Aaron though that, unfortunately, seems unlikely.

Final Rating: C

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Really Quick

And I'm sure everyone will disagree with me on this, but the scene where Lil' J and Agnes crash Lily and Bart's society party and put on the impromptu fashion show is, up to this point, the single greatest moment in Gossip Girl history.

Mostly because of the cover of "Sheena is a Punk Rocker" by Jemina Pearl, formerly of Be Your Own Pet, and Thurston Moore.

It was awesome. It captured the spirit of the show in all it's debaucherous glory.

I really loved it.

The CW took the video down, I wanted to embed it. If you haven't seen it, really try. Lil' J is awesome.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Apologies...Apologies All

I've been super busy and unable to write. Gossip Girl was great and all is right with the world as I REALLY hate Dan Humphrey, Lil' J however, might be my favorite character at this moment.

Sorry ya'll

I've got Drive-By Truckers and the Hold Steady on Friday night - should be the greatest show of all time despite Terminal 5.

Be back next week...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I can't believe he named his record Cardinology.


Since the release of Heartbreaker in 2000, I have consistently purchased each and every Ryan Adams record. Some people think this is crazy. How could I stay with this guy? He puts out too many records and said records are wildly inconsistent, some bordering on straight up horrible. This I can't deny, but when Ryan Adams and I met on that cool fall day in September of 2000 when I purchased Heartbreaker, (the meeting here is metaphorical) a turbulent relationship began and I can't walk away. In many ways I'm like an abused spouse constantly making excuses for him or defending him to those who look only to bash.

The hardest thing about being a Ryan Adams fan is the man himself. He doesn't make it easy. I've heard sobriety has mellowed him, but let's face it, for a long time - dude was a dickhead AND his records were so uneven AND he was releasing so many of them - It was a tough time. I will insist, however, that on each and every one of those records, save 29 which is an absolute disaster, there were a few classics that sometimes seemed to make the purchase worth while. While I'm on this topic, I'll also say that his most maligned record, 2003's Rock 'n Roll, happens to be one of my favorites of his so maybe I'm the wrong guy to talk to when it comes to ole RA.

Think about it though, Demolition has "Dear Chicago", Jacksonville City Nights has "Hard Way to Fall", Love is Hell has "This House is Not for Sale" and "English Girls Approximately" Easy Tiger, which most people were pretty positive about, has "Goodnight Rose"...there's always something. This isn't even mentioning Cold Roses which is obviously bloated as a double album, but cut out the filler, make one record and you've got a classic.

I guess that's always been the knock on Ryan though. If he released nothing but EPs. he'd be great. Not every song he writes needs to be on the record. And I guess that's true, but I kind of like that the records are flawed. And not in a "well, I'll just delete the undesired songs from my itunes and make that perfect ep for my ipod" type of way. No, I like to listen to Ryan Adams records as whole statements because it seems like nobody makes them like him anymore (though this last Jenny Lewis record has come pretty damn close).

Most artists are content to put out a record they know only has four of five good songs. It's all they need in this day and age of digital downloads. Or they're the exact opposite and they're so concerned with making a perfect record which sometimes happens and when it does (the last two Okkervil River records, The Hold Steady catalog, Dear Science) it's great, but more often than not it doesn't and it comes off pretentious.

Ryan Adams doesn't concern himself with all that. My man has feelings and needs to express them whether you like it or not. Ryan Adams records are like puzzles - piece together Ryan's psyche or how he's feeling this season. Sure, it's self indulgent, but he's also one of the few remaining rock stars and that's pretty great.

Having said all this Ryan Adams released his latest record, the unfortunately titled Cardinology, this week and for every critic saying Ryan's in top form and this is a return to his roots - don't believe the hype. First of all, what are his roots really? Has he ever really strayed to far from them? Even his biggest departure, Rock 'n Roll, sounded like a Ryan Adams record. Sure, it sounded like the Replacements aping Ryan Adams, but it was still Ryan Adams. Second, Cardinology has about five classics, a few decent songs and the rest is filler. It's a Ryan Adams record after all and I kind of take comfort in that.

There's no point in reviewing it. You're either with the guy or you're not. As for me, I'll take a "Cobwebs" if it means I can have a "Crossed Out Name"or "Fix It" virtually any time.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Breaking up is hard to do...seriously...really hard

It’s no big secret that I love television. I love it a lot. Probably more than anyone should. I mean TV’s bad for you, right?

Either way. Last night I had a serious discussion with my DVR who was getting a little bit annoyed with me. You see, I was almost at capacity, which is crazy I know, but I was and I had to make some difficult decisions last night.

It all started with Mad Men. I really like Mad Men. I own the first season on DVD and am making my way through it. It’s slow going though because I’m not really home that much. When the second season started this summer I decided I would DVR all the new ones and watch them when I made it through season 1. Season 2 just ended and it never happened. So, last night I divorced myself from Mad Men Season 2. I erased it all. I figure by the time I actually finish season 1, the season 2 DVD will be out and I can just do it that way.

Clearing Season 2 of Mad Men off the DVR wasn’t even the toughest decision I made last night, either. It hasn’t been an easy TV season for me. See, I watch a lot of sports and a lot of pro wrestling which makes it very hard to keep up with episodic television which hurts and now with Inside the NBA returning - forget it.

So, I broke up with Fringe after the pilot. I like the pilot fine, but not enough to give it the “Save Until Manually Erased” option on the DVR. Which meant, sorry Fringe you’re out. I didn’t even go on one date with Privileged, which I am sad about as I think I would have really liked it in a very Gilmore Girls-y way, which is to say a lot.

Then there are shows that regardless how bad they are I still stick with. We all know how I feel about True Blood, but even worse is Heroes. Heroes has gotten so bad and yet I can’t stop watching it. My devotion to these shows forced me to divorce some shows last night and I am not all that happy about it.

-Greek. I deleted about five back episodes of Greek, but left last nights finale because I’ll probably still watch it. Unlike a lot of shows Greek’s “previously on” catches you up pretty quick. I never expected to like Greek as much as I do, but it’s charming and the characters are likable and nice, unlike Gossip Girl and 90210 - both of which I’m still devout, which maybe says something about me. I figure, I can catch up on Greek in some marathon form at some point or another so…

-Sons of Anarchy – This decision was actually made a few weeks ago, but it’s still stinging. I loved the pilot and even got around to the second episode. Then all of a sudden I blinked and there were four backed up on the DVR. I will watch this on DVD because I think FX does some of the best shows and I loved watching Katey Segal play evil. She’ll probably win an Emmy.

-Dirty Sexy Money - I didn't watch last season, but was intrigued enough to try and give it a whirl this season. I never did. Byezees.

-Pushing Daisies. Yep. This one was tough, but I looked and saw three back episodes not to mention the one that’s premiering tonight and thought “absolutely no way I go back and watch these.” I loved the first season. I was really excited it was coming back and now if it gets canceled (which is likely) it will be my fault. That brings me to another point, if the network is going to cancel something I need to get out. I get too hurt. I am still bent out of shape about the CW canceling Veronica Mars.

-Chuck. This one was actually the most difficult show to break up with. I really like Chuck, but in the end I feel like I can come and go with it. I get it, you know? I don’t need to see every single Chuck. Right? In all honesty I deleted all of these shows in an effort to keep all the Mad Men and then in a quick burst of action just erased all the Mad Men. In retrospect I could have kept the Chuck’s and I’m kind of mad I didn’t. I know, I can watch them online, but I won’t. I hate that.

Like a Bass out of hell

I didn't write about Gossip Girl this week. Not because it wasn't good, it was fine, but because I just didn't have time and then when I did it was too late. Everything had been said.

Having said that, though... Really? Lil' J gets a drastic new look and they barely touch on it. Oh, just another day in the Humphrey house I guess. I can't wait until Jenny ends up a cokehead. It has to happen, right?

Oh! And Agnes? That's such a writer name for a model. The next one will be named Sophie.

I also hate Aaron - he makes Dan look good. Dan, who, after last week's "almost-did-it" attempt to make me like him, I still hate. I love how the GG writers gave Aaron as many hipster accoutrements as possible. Big Ole' glasses - check. Urban Outfitter Scarf - check. Ironic moustache - almost check. He is to hip-sters what Vanessa is to hip-pies. Apparently any character that can best be described with a "hip" prefix is destined to wear a lot of accessories on this show.

Does anyone else find it weird that these high school kids manage to "go and have a drink" and then actually go to a bar, sit AT THE BAR and have a drink? I guess it's all about suspension of disbelief, but I went to a private high school in Manhattan and when I was 16, and this is a true story, I was turned away from seeing Jerry Maguire at the movie theater on 86th and Lex because it was rated R. Swear to god!

Lastly, even I found it weird to watch Lil' J dancing around in her bra. She was very awkward and clearly uncomfortable.

That's it.

the episode was fine. Not as good as last week. B.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Because draining Stephen Root's blood just seems mean.


Here’s a weird twist – I actually didn’t hate True Blood last night.

Relax, I still can’t stomach Tara and all of her rage and I’m slowly starting to think Sam is probably the worst character currently on a television show I watch regularly (which is saying a lot because I watch Heroes, which has Mohinder Suresh, Maya and Matt Parkman and Gossip Girl which has Serena Van Der Woodson and Rufus Humphrey), but for some reason, I wasn’t filled with rage at the conclusion of last night’s episode.

Yes, I still wince a bit every time Alan Ball forces Lizzy Caplan and Anna Paquin to show their boobs for absolutely no reason whatsoever – not that I’m complaining their boobs are great - but it just seems a bit much at times and yes, Bill’s line reads are still unintentionally hilarious, but something about last night resonated a bit and I think I know what it is…

Jason.

Unbelievable, I know but I really enjoyed Jason Stackhouse last night and think I may have been a bit hard on Ryan Kwanten (that’s the actor’s name. I just looked it up) with regards to his acting. I found him oddly affecting last night and his scenes with Lizzy Caplan were almost sweet.

I’m pretty sure the episode wasn’t as terrible as usual because it wasn’t as heavy handed. They really let the characters tell their own story through contemplative moments rather than beating me over the head with their “message”. They weren’t pushing. It felt relaxed, like it’s starting to fit.

Like when fake Benicio Del Toro proposed to the red headed waitress outside the truck. I fully expected a vampire to come out and kill one, or both of them. But, that didn’t happen. It was just a nice moment that was allowed to breathe. I was on board with it.

Tara’s mom is still really bad though.

Stephen Root was also great. Finally a vampire besides Bill we can like. I really find this character interesting. He’s not a sex pervert or evil like most of the other vamps. He’s just a lonely guy looking for someone to love him. I’m actually quite interested to see where this storyline goes.

Shit! am I starting to like True Blood? I really don’t want to. Not at all.

The best part of the night, however belongs to Adrienne. She had some real problems with Bill emerging from the ground all dirty and immediately having sex with Sookie. She was so concerned about how dirty Bill was and how that would affect Sookie’s intimate parts. She couldn’t let it go and therefore the True Blood quote of the week does not go to any of the characters on the show, but rather to Adrienne who said

“Alright, fine! Good luck not getting a UTI”

Oh and before I forget, the detective calling the nudist colony was pretty great and his brother is Zach from Gilmore Girls which I can support because he’s pretty great as well.

All in all the episode rates a B, which is really high. God, I hope it sucks again next week, it will make life so much easier.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

CMJ Nights 1 and 2

So, I managed to get a press pass for the CMJ festival. If you’re unfamiliar, the CMJ festival is a music festival which takes place in New York for five nights. Hundreds of bands come and play in dozens of small clubs throughout the city. And I have a press pass! Which means I can go to any show I want, more or less, for free!

Awesome!

Actually, not so much.

The CMJ Festival was tailor made for me and a few short years ago, this press pass would have been the greatest prize in all the world. I would have gone to every single show I could, stayed up well past 2-3 in the morning, had a hundred beers and would still get up the next morning for work and another night of doing it all over again.


I haven’t gone yet and it’s night two. I’m not going tonight. What did I do instead? I came home popped open a can of PBR, heated up a smart one and am watching the World Series, which is easy because I have no rooting interest.



I can sit here and just enjoy some well played baseball without resorting to becoming a crazy person because David Wright struck out with men in scoring position.

What’s happening? I’m going to attempt to figure that one out.

1.) For starters I find it overwhelming. There’s so much going on and even with the press pass you may not get into a show due to venue capacities and that’s annoying.

2.) It’s expensive. Sure the passes make getting into the show free, but once you’re in the venue you’re susceptible to over-priced watered down drinks. Now, I know what you’re saying mom, “Patrick, you can go to a show and not drink.” “Oh yeah. Really? Impossible.”

3.) Hipsters. ‘nuff said.

4.) It’s hard for me to commit to see bands I’ve never heard of. I used to relish discovering new bands – it was great. Now, I want to know some songs and if not there had better at least be some buzz. Last year, Bon Iver managed to set in motion his selling out Town Hall for two nights thanks to some killer, much buzzed-about CMJ performances. People were talking about them before they happened. I haven’t heard boo about any of these bands.

5.) I live in Astoria. The Lower East Side is basically the farthest place away in the world, so if I leave at 2am, the earliest I’m getting home is 3.

6.) I’m getting old. I’m 28. I’m still pretty young and I will go out on a Tuesday or a Thursday until real late, drink a whole mess of beers - no problem. But that’s one night. Not five. I can’t swing five anymore.



You know what though, It’s actually not that bad. And even if I don’t see one CMJ show, I got a really nice CMJ tote bag. It’s big and it says CMJ on it, so it looks like I went. Which means I’m still pretty cool.

Hey you guys, Sarah Palin hates women.

This is kind of rough, even for me. But, it's also pretty true...

Let the blacklash begin!


So, last year Of Montreal released a stone-cold classic record called Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? as well as a pretty brilliant companion EP, Icons, Abstract Thee. The indie rock world rejoiced. Of Montreal were officially forgiven for "Let's go Outback tonight" and indie rock arbiters pitchfork loved the record so much that not only did they rate it an 8.7, they named it the fifth best record of 2007. You know what that means, right? There must be backlash. Their new record, Skeletal Lamping, rated a paltry 5.9 on the pitchfork scale. This coming after weeks of positive buzz and the release of the fantastic single "Id Engager." I haven't heard the record, these days I'm a bit too poor to buy records and I tend to frown on illegal downloads, but I'll guarantee you it's not a 5.9. I'm positive. Indie music critics are the worst. They build bands up just to tear them down. It's kind of sad.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Because I want to hear you say those three words. You know eight letters, three syllables?


Wow. Gossip Girl was so effing good last night! Like, it may have been the best Gossip Girl ever! They really put it together last night. Everyone was represented in some form or another, it wasn't any-particular-character-heavy or light for that matter. It was, truly, just right. Here are some observations.

-I’m coming to think maybe a Serena-less Dan Humphrey isn’t an aberration. I actually liked him last night. Well I shouldn’t go that far. I like the scene when he called Nate on the phone to prove to Jenny and Rufus that he has guy friends. Line of the night – “Love it!” I did kind of hate him at the end and thought Nate was totally in the right when he told Dan he wasn’t his charity case. Mind your business, humdrum Humphrey.

-I'm going to completely gloss over the entire Dangerous Liasons plot line. Not that I didn't love it, it just doesn't need to be talked about.

-Lil’ J didn’t seem so much like a deer in the headlights with regards to acting last night, which was refreshing (though scenes from next week look pretty bad).

-I only complained once last night and to my embarrassment that complaint was “Chuck just isn’t being sexy enough.” He wasn't, it was all squnits.

-Blair had a relatively weak show, not in terms of strength of Blair’s scenes, but just Blair. She seemed weak, which a lot of people will complain about. Me on the other hand – as much as I love bitchy Blair, I kind of love vulnerable Blair too. It also makes you realize that Holy Shit Leighton Meester’s an actual actress.

-Serena was annoying. The youzh. I’m not the first person to acknowledge this blogily (It was in the New York Magazine recap this morning) but I noticed it to so it’s worth mentioning. When Serena showed up at the Bass-Van Der Woodson family party in that dress with no top, I totes expected Bart to punch her in the face. Instead he said “you look nice.” Unbelievable.

-It was really funny how Nate just happened to leave the House Seizure notices in the front of his house while simultaneously trying to pretend that everything was okay. Normally, I would call bullshit on this, but it’s Nate and I totally believe he’s that stupid.

-Did anyone notice how long it took for the hot dog guy to give Nate his drink? Enough time for Dan to give Lil’ J the entire story about Nate being almost a hobo. That’s a long time.

-I always really like Lily, put they really made her a monster last night, no? I wasn’t a fan. She can be imperfect without having to be a completely negligent mother.

-I can’t get a beat on Eric. I mean, I like the idea of the character, but that actor is such a classically trained annoying kid actor, which doesn’t work for something as bubblegum as Gossip Girl. It rings so false. You’re not doing Shakespeare kid. Relax.

-How about that magical negro? He’s gonna save Chuck!

-No high school kid cares about the overtaking of real estate. None.

-I think there needs to be a definition for "the Vanessa face". I mean it's always so pouty and judgy. Discuss.

-That last scene with Blair and Chuck was super hot. It made me feel dirty.

The episode rates an A+

First BYOP, now this!


Earlier this week a band I really love announced they were calling it quits. Throughout their very short tenure, Sheffield, England’s The Long Blondes released a handful of stellar singles and two full length records on indie stalwart Rough Trade.

Today, those singles have been collected on a compilation called, well, Singles.

It’s the definitive Long Blondes disc. You should buy it. It’s great and if you’ve been a fan of this band, the news of their demise will surely be met with sadness. Especially, if, like me, you never got a chance to see them live. I had tickets to their co-headlining tour with the Gossip, but then Rick Rubin made the Gossip cancel that tour. Just another reason to hate Rick Rubin, you guys!

The Long Blondes have not broken up because of creative differences or because the band members hated each other – nothing salacious at all. The Long Blondes have “called it a day” because four months ago guitarist Dorian Cox suffered a stroke and may never be able to play again.

It’s sad, for sure, but the music will continue to exist and hopefully people will continue to discover the Blondes. A lot of fans of those early 7”s were put off by their debut full length, Someone to Drive You Home because it was a bit more polished. I never subscribed to that. I love that record. I think it’s a from top to bottom classic and can’t recommend it enough. It’s mix of girl group melodies and punk rock swagger was immediately catchy for sure, but the record resonated for me to the point where I still go back to it quite often.

Their next record, Couples, was a real revelation. It sounded different. The immediacy the Blondes portrayed on Someone…, while still a factor took a backseat to more challenging material - an unexpected sonic palette that relied less on pop-punk’s sheen and more on post punk’s artsy pretentions. But in a good way. Some were put off, but for the most part fans welcomed the new direction of the band. It was a direction that suggested we may never know where the Blondes would go next.

Unfortunately, now we never will. They will have to live on in just two great records and a perfect singles collection. I’m not sure how many people fell in love with this band the same way I did, but I hope that some still may.