Thursday, December 30, 2010


It was a great year. These records are all awesome.

1. Caribou - Swim (Merge)
2. Yelawolf - Trunk Muzik 0-60 (Interscope)
3. Waka Flocka Flame - Flockaveli (1017 Brick Squad/Warner Bros/Asylum)
4. Taylor Swift - Speak Now (Big Machine)
5. The-Dream - Love King (Def Jam/Radio Killa)
6. Big Boi - Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty (Purple Ribbon/Def Jam)
7. Actress - Splazsh (Honest Jon's)
8. Ost & Kjex - Cajun Lunch (Diynamic)
9. Jazmine Sullivan - Love Me Back (J Records)
10. Lindstrøm & Christabelle - Real Life is No Cool (Feedelity Recordings)
11. Erykah Badu - New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh (Motown)
12. Diddy-Dirty Money - Last Train to Paris (Bad Boy)
13. Rick Ross - Teflon Don (Slip'n'Slide/Def Jam)
14. Los Campesinos - Romance is Boring (Arts and Crafts)
15. E-40 - Revenue Retrievin' (Day Shift) (Heavy on the Grind Ent.)
16. Ciara - Basic Instinct (LaFace Records)
17. the Extra Lens - Undercard (Merge Records)
18. R. Kelly - Love Letter (Jive)
19. Mad One - House Girls - the Album (Devine uk)
20. Mr. G - Still Here (Rekids)
21. Twin Shadow - Forget (4AD)
22. Joanna Newsom - Have One On Me (Drag City)
23. Sade - Soldier of Love (Sony)
24. Emeralds - Does It Look Like I'm Here? (Editions Mego)
25. Laura Marling - I Speak Because I Can (Virgin)
26. Ted Leo & the Pharmacists - The Brutalist Bricks (Matador)
27. Roll the Dice - Roll the Dice (Digitalis)
28. Grinderman - Grinderman 2 (Mute)
29. Ikonika - Contact Love Want Have (Hyperdub)
30. Efdemin - Chicago (Dial)

More writing to come. Singles list (w/ YouTube playlist) on 11/9 after it is counted down in a power hour format at my birthday party.

*science could reposition these ad infinitum, btw

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


The ever-forward-thinking Sony (via J and Arista) (who did such a great time promoting this album, btw, have you heard about it?) won't let me post a YouTube of the huge, Salaam Remi-produced "Love You Long Time", so listen to the also very-good single, "Holdin' You Down", and then check out Jazzy's album Love Me Back.

A lot of the modern R&B I'm into (Dream, Ciara, etc.; Erykah is the big exception) spends most of its time going for futurism, and that's not what Jazzy does at all. But hers (and her producers') is not a conservative retro, but rather one open to playing and having fun with 70s, 80s, 90s, and 00s R&B (and hip-hop and reggae), and her voice is one expressive and varied enough to put a lot off.

Year-end lists are coming, figured I should do some writing.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010



Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ciara - "Gimmie Dat" video

This shit is amazing.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Waka Flocka Flame's wonderfully named Flockaveli

The bad:
Most of the guest appearances by the less-known rappers are pretty forgettable, and there are a lot of them. The Wale verse in the middle of the otherwise excellent "No Hands" is such that I'm probably going to make an edit of the song without it ("I'ma put her on the train/little engine could" is the actual closing line of his verse) and the Gudda Gudda verse is a typically embarrassing affair.

The good:
Pretty much everything else. Driving from NY to Chicago and back in July, I told fellow traveller Molly (who loves Waka) that I didn't know if I could take a whole tape's worth of Waka at once but this album proves me about 100% wrong. He's not a bad rapper, but he's a great performer. If you think that ad-libs and yelling can only take a rapper so far, I think this might be the album to prove you wrong (listen to the last minute of "Bustin' At Em" to start. The mostly Lex Luger produced tracks are busy and jarring and loud-as-hell and they combine with Waka's energy as well as any producer-rapper tandem have in a while, and when Drumma Boy stops by with a Roscoe Dash hook for "No Hands", Wacka kills it as well. I'm still trying to figure out how this doesn't get boring for me over 72 minutes, but it's just such great high-energy rap that I keep putting it on. WAKA WAKA WAKA WAKA FLOCKA FLOCKA FLOCKA FIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT! (oh, also, there's a song with Pastor Troy called "Fuck the Club Up" so you should listen to this now).

Thursday, September 16, 2010

mooooovies (#8) (playing catch-up)

The Ghost Writer (dir. Roman Polanski, 2010)
Anyone hoping for an Auteurist reflection on Polanski's legal flare-ups (are those people out there? I'm prolly just strawmanning) probably won't find much here, but it's definitely a solid thriller that falls apart in the last act (fucking Google) but is still totally worth it. MacGregor is fine, but Brosnan is great whenever he shows up as either a patsy or a master conspirator who's losing it or both. Olivia Williams is great too and Tom Wilkinson comes in at the end to grab a scene with his teeth and take it the hell away from Ewan. Finally, the score is ill.

Leaving Las Vegas (dir. Mike Figgis, 1995)
A few Sundays ago I went to a bar at 11am to watch Liverpool play, then took a cab to a different bar to watch the Bears play, then went home and roommate Sarah wanted to watch this one, which she had on Netflix. I hadn't seen it since the first time I saw it, at which point I was probably way too young to see it. The fact that Nic Cage won an Oscar for this amazes me, cynical Oscar obsessive that I am, because he's really not holding back any of his ridiculousness. The exchange about whether Ben is drinking as a way of killing himself or killing himself as a way of drinking is awesome in how the movie acknowledges the line's cleverness and dismisses it at the same time.

The 19th Wife (dir. Rob Holcomb, 2010)
Of course we were gonna watch a Lifetime Mormon Murder Mystery, though we probably could also have predicted that it might get boring after a while. It did. I'd rather be watching Big Love for my LDSploitation kick (though we are watching TLC's Sister Wives tonight).

Piranha 3D (dir. Alexandre Aja, 2010)
Aja is a talented dude (even Mirrors had like 2 good things in it) and it's nice to see he can do horror-laughs as well as tragic murder/rape/burning alive scenes. This was pretty much exactly what I wanted it to be, and Jerry O'Connell is surprisingly hilarious as Joe Francis. The only disappointment is (SPOILERS, but not ones that should make much difference ) that the main character doesn't end up leaving Jessica Szohr (not any more fun here than she is on Gossip Girl) for Kelly Brook. Elizabeth Shue is suitably heroic.

Greenberg (dir. Noah Baumbach, 2010)
I don't think the advertising for this accurately portrays how much of an asshole Ben Stiller's character is. So, for a while, I avoided the movie, thinking, though I don't know why I was being so pessimistic, that they gap between what the movie would expect me to feel for the character and my actual opinion would be huge. It turns out, Stiller's Roger Greenberg is a monster of a character prone to ill-timed freak-outs and being completely inappropriate, and he's not all that charismatic or charming, but Stiller plays him well enough to allow some empathy. and Rhys Ifans and especially Greta Gerwig are king-sized in this. Looks pretty too.

Catfish (dir. Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, 2010)
Whether it's faked or not (and if I had to bet money I would bet that at least some of it isn't exactly on the up and up), I'm kind of split on Catfish. On one hand, it does have an interesting subject (the one the fillmmakers "stumble upon", not the protagonist, who is not at all interesting) that raises some good questions about what we do with reality in the virtual space. On the other in hand, the more I think about the movie the more I think that the filmmakers could do better with it. The visual style that constantly reminds you that the movie is about the internet could go, for one. But the worst part for me is the narrators and how, once they find a subject that is obviously more interesting than their original subject (co-director Ariel Schulman's little brother Nev), they can't pull back a little and take themselves further out of it. I would still probably recommend this, but it would probably be better as a short subject that cuts a lot of the stuff with Nev out of it.

Kick-Ass (dir. Matthew Vaughn, 2010)
Kick-Ass has an oddly similar problem to Catfish, in that if it dumped it's main character for a movie about the endlessly more entertaining Hit-Girl and Big Daddy (the latter played by Nicolas Cage, so obviously he's awesome), it would probably at least stand a chance. As it is, I really disliked most of this. I've never read the graphic novel this is based on and I haven't read Wanted either, so maybe it's just a coincidence, but I think after these two movies it's safe to say that if you're adapting a Mark Millar book for the screen, you should probably just find a way to cut out the voice-over narration.

The Town (dir. Ben Affleck, 2010) (SPOILER below)
I had pretty high expectations for this after Affleck's excellent Gone Baby Gone, and I'm happy to say that I liked it a lot. The acting is the best part, especially from Jeremy Renner as a little pitbull of a man and Affleck as a local-boy-makes-good-makes-bad-tries-to-just-even-out. Blake Lively is a pleasant surprise too, more or less playing a younger version of Amy Ryan's Gone Baby Gone character as filtered through J-Woww. There's a good car chase, the heists are well-staged, and while Affleck is playing with a lot of types here, the characters work. Just like in Good Will Hunting and Gone Baby Gone, the concept of neighborhood is a major theme here, and I really dug the kind of optimistic fantasy of the ending, which has it both ways as Affleck's character is forced/able to leave the neighborhood but is still able to contribute to the neighborhood by donating money to build a new hockey rink. Considering the harsh moral decision at the end of Gone Baby Gone, it caught me off guard in a good way. If Ben wants to keep adapting crime novels or Boston novels or whatever, let 'em do it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

mooooovies (#7)

Machete (dir. Ethan Maniquis and Robert Rodriguez, 2010)
A few weeks after The Expendables comes another long-awaited B-action movie and on the whole this one is probably a little better. Everyone here is king-sized, Michelle Rodriguez (once finally revealed in the eye-patch/leather ensemble) making as striking of an entrance as Trejo. But Trejo is great, no doubt about it; just like the Expendables wins by focusing on the faces of Stallone, Rourke, Lundgren and co., Machete makes the most of every wrinkle in his face (along side his comic timing, which is awesome, but not nearly as awesome as Cheech Marin, who is as funny here as he has been in a while). Also, the way Jeff Fahey's (villainous) character eats Mexican food at lunch ("pass the salsa") without comment is a better than anything in (the bad) Crash or Babel by far. (okay so the deaf club scene in Babel was pretty great).

the Crazies (dir. Breck Eisner, 2010)
It's kind of a sum-of-its-parts Horror Movie (let's see if I can make this work), by which I mean that the overarching concept isn't revolutionary or super-interesting (it is a remake, and I haven't seen the original but don't really know anyone who loves it), but the horror scenes themselves are so well done that it all works wonderfully. American Horror movies (dramas too obvi) have been mining the terror of rural Americana for almost half a century, but Eisner uses the grey landscapes more effectively than I've seen anyone do in a while. Farm equipment and (especially) a car wash are also used well, and hey, I guess I do pretty much like Timothy Olyphant.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

This movie is probably going to be terrible, but...

...what is it about the framing of this shot (from the trailer) that makes me almost sure that Carrie Mulligan is about to get hit by an oncoming truck?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Givin' you more of what you're funkin' for

52. Funkadelic - "One Nation Under A Groove" (Warner Bros., 1978)

Perhaps the clearest statement of the part of the P-Funk ethos that sets out to unify everyone into one groove nation (and maybe the clearest statement of that by anyone, it's certainly not an ideal limited to George Clinton), "One Nation Under A Groove" is the kind of sloganeering that gives sloganeering a good name. I would say that if you only had to hear one P-Funk song it would be this one, but if you hear this song and don't feel like looking further into the catalog for more bass lines, harmonies, and total-body grooves like this one, we have fundamental differences, you and I. The 12" version is 11 and a half minutes long and about 8 and a 1/2 minutes in, when the synth-bass groove starts changing it up under the chorus, is when it goes from next level to that other level.

Monday, August 30, 2010

mooooovies (#6)

Dude, Where's My Car? (dir. Danny Leiner, 2000)
Watched this on Saturday night with roommate Sarah and friend Petey, trying to take a drink every time they said "dude", "shibby", or "continuum transfunctioner", which I would imagine is, at worst, the second best way to watch this movie. One thing that seemed drunkenly apparent was that Ashton Kutcher was like ten times more entertaining than Sean William Scott (this might be because of the screenplay, I noticed Kutcher once in a while getting to say something that sounds like it makes sense, and then undo it with something incredibly stupid, whereas SWS just has to be dumb right off the bat). Either way, a Saturday night well spent. And Pete passed out before the movie ended.

The Time Traveller's Wife (dir. Robert Schwentke, 2009)
We decided that this was going to be better than the Emmys, and in the end that was probably the right choice (of a set we limited to two for no real reason). It gets a bit repetitive after a while, but it's not that bad, and the melodrama is at least focused on two very likable people. Bana's affability almost became a joke around the hour mark, actually, but what can I say, I like the dude. Honestly, the fact that it's a sci-fi movie very clearly targeted at the Nicholas Sparks audience is almost enough to make me like it on principle, and while it could be a little clearer on some of the details, it's still not a bad little movie.

I'm not a common tart

I apologize that it has taken me so long to let all 4 of you know about Ost & Kjex's Cajun Lunch, one of my favorite albums of the year, and a treat for those of us who were close to giving up on the possibility of "quirky" as an adjective without a negative connotation. It's basically a house record with white-boy falsetto singing and lyrics mostly about (and sometimes from the point of view of) cheese, but it's well produced enough for all that to work. "The Yellow Man" is like the fifth different favorite song I've had on here, but it's the current one so it's the one I'ma use here. The drum programming is kind of bonkers, I think, in the way the hi-hats and sparely-used snares manage to hypnotize while not upstaging the (endearing, I think) vocals and then go kind of kitchen-sink interesting with a minute and a half to go. Cop this shit.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

mooooovies (#5)

The Beat That My Heart Skipped (dir. Jacques Audiard)
I should note that I watched this in two parts about 3 weeks apart, but I enjoyed this Audiard crime flick almost as much as his Oscar-nominated Un prophète. Like that movie, The Beat... focuses on the development of a young criminal, in this case a not-completely-legit real estate broker named Thomas Seyr and played by Romain Duris with a great nervous grin. Seyr's never altogether realistic dream is to escape a life of shady business to follow in his mother's footsteps as a concert pianist.

The way Audiard, who also co-wrote the movie, uses music is a great variation of a kind of cliche in which a troubled urban character is calmed and refined by art. Seyr never seems as nervous terrorizing squatters as he does trying to get his Bach piece right. Overall, it's an interesting portrayal of the difficulties of changing one's life, more specifically reconciling what one really thinks one wants (concert pianist like yr dead mom) with what one is used to (crook like one's dad, played here by Niels Arestrup, who is good but doesn't quite steal the show like he does in Un prophete).

The Brood (dir. David Cronenberg, 1979)
I'm going to slowly work my way through all the Cronenberg I haven't seen in the fall, I think. I guess it would be spoiling to say who the villain here is exactly, but the way his/her psychological damage is manifested is awesome. The colors, the blood, Oliver Reed's menace, the terrifying children, yes this is very good end-of-the-70s horror.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Then don't fucking come here, motherfucker!

Friend Sarah informed us last night of the curse-filled trailer to the next in MTV's series of RW/RR Challenges, which have, despite the excellent Back to New Orleans season of Real World, been for the last few years consistently much more entertaining than the Real World itself. The preview gives no indication that this season is gonna be any less entertaining. But I would like to draw attention to the logo, which is well... least somewhat confusing in what it signifies? Maybe I'm just more sensitive to this because I'm Eastern European (and love fonts) but why the Cyrillic Яs combined with the Bio-hazard imagery? Not that I don't think it would be cool to set a whole season of the Challenge in an abandoned but still highly radioactive Chernobyl reactor, but this is set in Prague (they use the Roman alphabet with some vowel accents there). Obvi "nuclear meltdown" is easy shorthand for tempers flaring and that's fine (again, can't wait for this shit), but the specifics of this logo are mad silly, no?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

mooooovies (#4)

The Expendables (dir. Sylvester Stallone, 2010)
It's not fair, really, from a critical standpoint. How could I not like this? Jet Li fights Ivan Drago here. Many modern action movies aim for intertextuality by referencing shots, quips, and cliches, but bringing together so many iconic actors (of so many iconic characters) to do an action movie is a whole different thing altogether.

There are things here that are not so good, the foremost of which is the CGI blood. I wonder what the price point difference is between CGI blood and physical fake blood, and whether it gets bigger for something that necessitates as much blood as this movie does, because this shit looks terrible (the fire isn't so good either).

For the most part, though, Stallone knows how to direct this kind of movie. He spends a lot of time on faces, which is awesome when the faces are so iconic. A speech delivered by Mickey Rourke, for example, is a-ok in its content, but the tight (blue-lit) close-up on his face is fascinating. I would imagine that if this movie sounds like a good idea to you, there is no reason you won't enjoy it (do I even need to say that Statham is great?).

Symbol (dir. Hitoshi Matsumoto, 2009, no US release yet scheduled)
Symbol is partly about a man that wakes up in a mysterious all-white room but it's not a horror movie. Instead, it's a (seemingly) absurdist existential comedy. The story of the man (played in kiddie pajamas by Matsumoto) is cross-cut with the (seemingly) unrelated story of an aging Mexican Wrestler getting ready for a match he is not expected to win (pro wrestling is competitive here). It's kind of hard to describe what happens without spoiling a major development that is presented with awesome cross-cutting about 3/4ths of the way into the movie, but let's just say that the scope of Matsumoto's story expands greatly towards the end.

Even before that revelation, however, I was having a lot of fun. The parts with the man stuck in the room, flicking little switches (which are actually little cherub penises) that make seemingly random objects appear and disappear are a great send-up of a style of video-gamey logic in which completely unrelated tasks eventually lead to a reasonable goal. Symbol really strikes me as quite a brilliant, original work and it's really worth going out of your way (internets) to see.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

YMD Summer Jams 2010 #final

Young Jeezy - "Lose My Mind (ft. Plies)"

The end of summer is near, so it's our duty to rectify the mistake of not yet writing about the song I've most enjoyed hearing blasted from car stereos in Bushwick and Beyond.

Much like Gucci's "Wasted" last year, "Lose My Mind's" most immediately gratifying feature is Plies absolutely ridiculous verse in the middle of it (it even has "white girls fun, cuz all them swallow" to rival last year's "I don't wear tight jeans like the white boys, but I do get naked like the white boys"). And I'm still not 100% on whether the hoes call Plies "fantastical" or "Fantastico" (I rap along with the latter) but it's an amazing line either way.

But much like on "Wasted", I realized after a few listens that I like the main rapper's verses as much or more than Plies'. There's the endlessly quotable "goons got goons/rooms got rooms" couplet (actually, it does that a disservice to quote that without the "house stupid-dumb-big" doesn't it?) that ends the first verse, but even that isn't as good as Jeezy's final one, on which his flow gets as playful as ever ("my nickname in the A: strapped up shorty" stuck in my head 24-7) over the lurching monster of a beat. The Recession is one of my two or three favorite rap albums of the last decade and while this isn't as amazing as the first single off of that one (few things are), it has me very very excited for Thug Motivation 103.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

mooooovies (#3)

The Invention of Lying (dir. Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson, 2009)
This was on HBO On Demand so I watched it on a Sunday night not expecting much, and I don't regret it. It certainly has many funny moments and Jennifer Garner does a very admirable job playing a character who is required by the plot to speak almost entirely in dialogue that would normally be obvious subtext (that's a way to look at this movie, I guess: a society without lies is a society without subtext?). The tone here sometimes edges from surprisingly sad to boringly sad though and, well, is it wrong to ask a comedy to be slightly, I don't know, nerdier? That is to say, if you're creating an alternate reality, shouldn't it be a little more detailed? Everything we know about this reality in which lying hasn't been invented seems to suggest that history for the most part has played out exactly the same as it did in our reality (except for/despite the absence of religion). This might be too much to ask, I dunno.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (dir. Edgar Wright, 2010)
Not being nerdy enough is certainly not a problem for this one and it totally exceeded my expectations, which were basically that I would enjoy some of the form but would be super-turned off by the story. I was happily only half right. From the initial 16-bitty Universal logo, Wright's synthesis of video game and comic imagery is totally fun, full of witty sight gags and useful transitions and characterizations (PS though, with regards to using video game stuff in movies, let's not forget Crank: High Voltage, which does it in a completely different spirit but just as successfully). And my fear that I would find Scott Pilgrim himself to be somewhat of a turd wasn't off, but with pretty much every other character calling him a turd at some point it totally didn't bother me like I thought it would. Basically, the Seven Evil Exes thing was a much more complex metaphor for relationships than I expected it to be (haven't read the books obvi) and this was really fun. (Also there's a scene of Scott Pilgrim talking to himself that made me wonder, who's gonna have the balls to pull the trigger on the Michael Cera/Jesse Eisenberg buddy movie?).

I should probably be spreading these out better.

Do you remember we were sitting there by the water

(song starts 30 seconds or so into this YouTube)

By the time I had even heard about this leaking it was #1 on iTunes, such is the power of our Taylor. It's encouraging to hear her writing specifically about being a young adult ("yeah we've got bills to pay" and a line about cohabitation!) with the same skill that she wrote about being a high school kid. The "you made a rebel of a careless man's careful daughter" is super-entertaining verging on annoying, almost in an Elvis Costello way, but I've grown to love it. Yet again Taylor takes a cliche and makes it beautiful.

So basically after a week or so with "Mine" (and, truth be told, a walk home from Greenpoint to Bushwick the other night listening to it on repeat) I couldn't be more excited for this album.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Quick word on poor M. Night Shyamalan and stock

Saw Scott Pilgrim this morning (liked it ok, review to come), but funnier than almost anything in the actual movie was what happened during the trailer for Devil. Not having heard of it yet, I was enjoying the preview, thinking that it was something I might be interested in, and then came the magic words "a new nightmare from the mind of M. Night Shyamalan" and I, along with like 8 strangers in this movie theater full of like 17 people, audibly groaned (and then laughed heartily at the fact that we had all groaned together). Poor M. Night.

mooooovies (#2)

Howard's End (dir. James Ivory, 1992)
This was the first Blu-ray I watched on New Roommate Sarah's Blu-ray player (after the HDMI cable came in the mail I basically just bumped up the highest movie in my Netflix queue available on Blu-ray). The first shot, of Vanessa Redgrave walking around the titular, err, End, is maybe the best thing in the movie visually, but it never goes too far downhill. Emma Thompson is A+ great, and I found myself quite selfishly concerned with her Liberal, middle-class character's fascination with the Upper Class as it parallels my love of all things set in beautiful English country estates. I assumed (having never read it) that the book gives a few of the key plot elements (Margaret and Ruth's friendship, Henry and Margaret's courtship) a bit more time to breathe and, perhaps oddly, that assumption being available actually did a lot to make me accept how rushed those things seemed in the film.

Green Zone (dir. Paul Greengrass, 2010)
Greengrass is one of my favorite directors and I liked parts of this a whole lot, but I'm conflicted about it on the whole, mostly because of Brian Helgeland's screenplay and how much it spells things that it has very clearly illustrated out in the dialogue. For example, when, during a climactic scene, an Iraqi character tells an American character "It is not up to you to decide what happens here", it seems a bit much, considering how much a) the theme of how American involvement affects the local people we are "liberating" has been hammered home in the movie b) how much it has become part of the Iraq narrative in general. But then again maybe I'm wrong on point b.

Consider summary of the movie on Netflix:
U.S. Defense Intelligence Agent Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear) doesn't want to hear what Army Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Matt Damon) has to say about not finding the weapons of mass destruction -- evidence that could launch a war -- he's been sent to Iraq to unearth...
Considering that the movie starts with the invasion of Baghdad and then moves on to Miller and co. looking for the WMDs, "evidence that could launch a war" seems a bit of an odd way to put things. So maybe the story of what happened in Iraq in 2003 does bear repeating and hammering into the ground. And maybe I just wish it was done in a way that didn't introduce it very clearly in the subtext and then hammer it into you again in the dialogue.

Matt Damon is reliably great here, btw, and Amy Ryan does a decent job looking conflicted as the Embodiment of the Failings of the American Press. Also, the colors in the night-time action scenes are absolutely gorgeous, which actually made me feel a little weird in retrospect.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


The Kids Are All Right (dir. Lisa Cholodenko, 2010)
The moment I keep coming back to when thinking of this movie's appeal involves Julianne Moore's character being asked why she and her wife would enjoy male gay porn and, before being interrupted, actually trying to answer that question honestly. I was shocked, mostly because "why do you guys watch gay porn" (or however it was phrased) was a good enough punchline that I didn't expect it to be followed by something even funnier. This one is super-successful as a dramedy in that the laughs and the drama come from basically the same place, the brilliantly written and acted characters.

Inception (dir. Christopher Nolan, 2010)
I enjoyed it, but I couldn't help being a little disappointed (not based on my expectations coming in but rather on how cool some parts of it were and how boring I found others). I think the way time works in dreams is a brilliant conceit, and man, if you decide to heavily use Edith Piaf in a movie featuring an actress best known for playing Edith Piaf, that's gonna win you points from me nine times out of ten. But now that I think about it, I probably actually cared about the Leo love story here even less than the one in Shutter Island and, aside from some of the hotel stuff, the actual action here was kind of boring, no? And that one dream that was a kinda shitty Golden Eye level? And Ellen Page's boring-ass character? Tom Hardy's dope tho and on balance I still think there's more to like here than not. Plz no sequel.

Dead Ringers (dir. David Cronenberg, 1988)
I'm not quite sure why it took me so long to see this but wow oh wow was it not at all disappointing. At the risk of hyperbole, everything Jeremy Irons does here is brilliant, and ok, I guess most contemporary stories are in some way explorations of identity, but the ones Cronenberg gets are especially vivid and interestingly explicit with respect to this theme, no? Oddly, the scene in which Bev's "instruments" are exhibited as art, much to his chagrin, made me think it could be interesting to watch this with something like Dr. 90210 or Nip/Tuck, to see if we could possibly compare how "Artist" has become part of the myth of the Plastic Surgeon to anything here.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

PROJECT RUNWAY (you're not really reading this)


While we were all watching Jersey Shore, one of our old favorites returned with a ridiculously long premiere. The contestants have potential, Kors, Tim Gunn, Heidi, and Ninagarcia are back in our lives, and an hour and a half is probably too long for this show. But what got me interested enough to write about the first episode of Project Runway season 8 is a new and interesting specimen in our collection of the many wonderful ways that Reality Shows break down reality.

The narrowing down of a group of hopefuls to a group of actual contestants/cast members in an Episode of the television show is nothing new. Before the days of cast lists and whole plots of seasons leaking instantly on the internet, MTV used to do that for seasons of the Real World in a casting special. Top Chef does a quick-fire that eliminates someone right away all the time. But never have I seen such reiteration of the concept of "we're not on the show yet" by people who are very obviously on the show. They're at the apartments, they're doing a challenge, and while a challenge in which more than one person gets eliminated isn't the norm on PR, it's certainly not unheard of.

So how does one process being told that the people competing on the television show you're watching are not really competing on the television show you're watching?

With Tim Gunn, all things are possible.

Friday, July 23, 2010

YMD Summer Jams 2010 #9

Kourtney Heart - "My Boy (ft. Magnolia Shorty)"

This is far from the first thing I think about when listening to music, usually, but is there something about a song that seems to want to be a hit real bad but probably won't ever achieve that status that adds a touch of melancholy?

I seem to recall (I guess I should start taking down URLs of smart things I read for future citations) someone writing something not too long ago about how that kind of discourse used to be the reserve of indie-pop fans and now, with so many people making pop/popular-genre music, here we are talking about well-produced, well-performed, super-catchy R&B songs in terms of them deserving to be in the charts but not having a hope in the world.

Anyways, I read about this Kourtney Heart song on ILM last week and it's dope. Magnolia Shorty's "my boy!" backing in the chorus elevates it like 10 steps.

Friday, July 9, 2010

'Specially when you got a cold glass of wine

53. The O'Jays - "I Love Music" (Philadelphia International, 1975)

I was in Boston recently to watch a Red Sox game, and as my friends and I were trying to get back on the subway with the post-game crowd, we saw a white girl about our age using her digital camera to record a video of an African American gentlemen playing some kind of hand drums for money. Being carried around the corner by the slowly moving crowd, she looked at the musician and very earnestly, perhaps as an affirmation of a common bond between them, said, "I love music, man."

Of course we've been laughing about this for weeks, as at the time it seemed like such a hilarious and meaningless thing to say. It has occurred to me, of course, that one of my favorite songs is this Philly-disco hit by the O'Jays. So why was my reaction to the girl in the subway something along the lines of "LOL, dummy" while my reaction to the O'Jays is "fuck yeah, I love music too dudes!"?

Is it because the O'Jays somehow earn the right to express this sentiment because they're making awesome music? Is it because the ecstatic nature of dance music allows us an appropriate context in which to express simple truths? Is it because there was something in a (seemingly) middle-class white girl (seemingly) trying to affirm the worth of an African-American street performer that made me uncomfortable? Was it just me assuming a good percentage of drunk people leaving Fenway are idiots?


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

YMD Summer Jams 2010 #8

Sky Ferraira - "One"

AMG agrees, this one is official. It's a single from teen-pop hopeful Sky Ferreira, and is produced by Bloodshy & Avant, who have in the past been responsible for three of our favorite Britney songs of the decade ("Toxic", "Piece of Me", and "Radar") and are hopefully taking a little break from their indie band. It wins (admittedly nerdy) points from me right away for the extra two beats thrown in before the first verse starts and then again before the chorus. There are a few surprises along the way, actually: the amount of direct and stretched out repetition, the barely verbalized bridge, the quickly ascending arpeggios in the chorus and the way they kind of grind to a halt in the coda.

And all those surprises have worked as well for me the 13th and 14th times for me as they did the 1st, yes, I'm obsessed with this song.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

YMD Summer Jams 2010 #7

Robyn - "Dancehall Queen"

"Dancing On My Own" is still an official summer jam, but since this morning this has been dominating my brain so thoroughly that it must be declared one as well. It's the second song in a row in which Robyn is dancing by herself, but unlike the last one, in which she is specifically dancing on her own to highlight her loneliness and rejection, this one is more ambiguous and, I think, more interesting.

"I came to dance not to socialize" is a great line, an example of how the narrator of the song foregrounds her objectives (dancing superiority and the recognition thereof) and methods (solitude) but not her reasoning. Is being Dancehall Queen an end unto itself? Should we, especially in the context of an album that includes "Dancing on My Own", assume that there are other emotional factors in the narrator's choice of solitude? ("I'll go down low like she won't..." in the bridge suggests this might just be a completely different way of dealing with the "Dancing on My Own" situation) (A different way of dealing with it through dancing, of course).

It wouldn't be nearly as moving, though, without the chorus melody, which I have to admit has a pretty ridiculous effect on me. It legit almost made me tear up on the train no less than three times today, and I fear what it might to do me if I hear it out/drunk.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

That big dirty stinking bass

In case this interests anyone, here's what I ended up playing at our fairly successful, last-minute-venue-changed party on the weekend. Perhaps I got a bit anxious and played more vocal and pop stuff than I had intended too, but hey it happens.

- Jean Claude Van Damme - "Troop-rallying Speech From Street Fighter"
- DJ Mujava - "Township Funk"
- Shystie - "Pull It (Ill Blu Remix)"
- Business Man - "Dubby Games"
- Aaliyah - "Rock the Boat (Ill Blu Remix)"
- Ame, Henrick Schwarz, and Dixon - "D.P.O.M.B. (version 2)"
- Noze - "Remember Love"
- Tatu - "All the Things She Said (Dave Aude Remix)"
- Outkast - "B.O.B."
- Kingdom - "Mind Reader"
- Ludacris - "How Low"
- Kyla - "Do You Mind (Crazy Cousinz Remix)"
- Ricky Martin - "La Copa de la Vida"
- Donae'o - "Party Hard"
- Public Enemy - "Bring the Noise"
- Whitney Houston - "It's Not Right But It's Okay (Thunderpuss Club Mix)"
- Vitalic - "La Rock 01"
- Big Country - "It's a Big Country (Pure Mix)"

Then the Tay-Tay and Gucci came out.

My big thing from the past few weeks dance wise has been rediscovering how hard Ricky Martin's 1998 World Cup Anthem bangs. I wasn't planning on a Ricky rediscovery but friend Balls suggested we put it on at HQ the other day and it exploded the speakers more or less.

If you enjoy me playing house music along with free drinks and photography, I will probably be playing stuff with a lot less vocals at this opening on Friday from 6 to 9. Come by and shake your ass in a way that suggests you're admiring art. More on that later.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

YMD Summer Jams 2010 #6

Robyn - "Dancing On My Own"

Initially, I kept wanting to see this in the same electro-pop tearjerker vein as Annie's "Heartbeat", but it's not really fair to compare every electro-pop tearjerker to one of the best songs of the last decade. It is quite good though, and if I was still frequenting Trash or whatever I would be very disappointed if this hadn't been added to the playlist.

And maybe it's instructive to compare Robin to Annie anyways. On "Heartbeat", Annie registers for me far more as a part of the track than as a distinct character (the thinness of her voice and ethereality of the vocal production might be a start as to why) She leaves a space in the song; this makes it easier for me to lose myself in it. Robyn, on the other hand, functions more like a traditional (post-Elvis, let's say) pop star. Her personality always comes through much stronger than Annie's, and that's not necessarily good or bad. On "Dancing On My Own", Robyn is clearly present as a well-defined character within the song, a character she's built throughout her career (this is even clearer in the video, where her dance moves become almost too distracting for me).

This all needs editing and expansion, I'm sure, but anyways, "Dancing On My Own" is a jam, and besides being yet another Valiant Heartbreak Anthem from Robyn (I'd imagine it will be balanced on the album by a song about how she'll kick your ass), proves yet again the unbeatable power of the wordless vocal hook.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

YMD Summer Jams 2010 #5

Ted Leo & the Pharmacists - "Bottled in Cork"

Who said we don't summer with guitars anymore? Ted Leo, who I've seen live more times as all but 2 or 3 other bands, put out a very good record earlier this year, and the most suitable song for summer jamming is this, his newest travelogue. Something about the acoustic guitar actually reminds me of frisbee-rock also-rans Guster, but I promise that I mean that in the least insulting way possible. The closing repetition of "tell the bartender I'm falling in love" doesn't seem like it could be any more perfect for summer daydrinking at bars that have backyards (and especially for those Saturdays on which you realize there's not gonna be a break between the daydrinking and the nightdrinking, is there?).

Random Ad Links and the wonderful LOLS to be had

Forgot to post this when I capped it last week, but anyways, is it just me that suspects that maybe authorities have caught a random senile old man, and the real Paul Clouston is hiding in plain sight, sticking out his tongue at the law and enjoying, I dunno, a fairly priced new life insurance policy?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Work the middle

"What better way to spend a day off," I thought, "than to make a little mix to practice for the party we're throwing soon?" So I recorded this mini-mix and figured it went well enough (barring one or two less-than-professional transitions) to post. It starts with a few seconds of the homie Neil and moves through some UK Funky updates of a few classics, some techno, a classic Chicago jam, and YMD fav Tensnake's new remix of Mano Le Tough. It's summer! Come party!

- Neil Young - "When You Dance You Can Really Love" (Reprise Records, 1970)
- Lil' Silva - "Perfussion" (Night Slugs. 2010)
- Matthias Meyer - "Tout Va Bien" (liebe*detail, 2008)
- Geeneus & Katy B - "Good Life (Remix)" (2010)
- Aaliyah - "Rock the Boat (Ill Blu Remix)" (2009)
- Wighnomy Bros. - "Exvola Stupp" (Kompakt Extra, 2009)
- Lucien-N-Luciano - "House Tool's House" (Cadenza, 2010)
- Pierre's Pfantasy Club - "Dream Girl" (Hot Mix 5, 1988)
- Mano Le Tough - "Eurodancer (Dances For Euros) (Tensnake Remix)" (Mirau, 2010)

Download that shit! (Mediafire)

Monday, June 7, 2010

YMD Summer Jams 2010 #4

Big Boi - "Shutterbug"

Obviously. Despite the fact that we're going to know the words to like half of Sir Luscious Left Foot's songs by the time it leaks, anticipation at YMD Headquarters and environs couldn't be higher. Big Boi has a very legit claim to the title of Best Rapper Alive right now, and he maneuvers this talking bassline with the ease and deftness we've come to expect ever since he was "catchin' buzz like a bumble bee" back in the 90s. The singing part of the chorus is maybe even more crucial than the raps though, as far as making this something to cruise summer streets to. "Baby baby" indeed.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

YMD 2010 Summer Jams #3

Gyptian - "Hold Yuh (Remix ft. Nicki Minaj)"

It's not very often you hear a song on Hot 97 without a kick drum (for good reason), but Gyptian and Nicki have been getting a decent amount of play both on the radio and here at YMD headquarters. Entrancing summer jam, though I think it could be a decent sweaty dancefloor break too.

YMD 2010 Summer Jams #2

Terror Danjah - "Acid"

Yet more heat from both Hyperdub and Terror Danjah. The ravey build up in the first minute is hype as hell and the one-note synth riff is nothing if not insistent. Definitely a summer night jam, as much as these things can be controlled.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

YMD 2010 Summer Jams #1

jj - "Into the Light"

Maybe the only summer jam to ever feature audio commentary of a Zlatan Ibrahimovic goal, this is my favorite track of Swedish Balearic duo jj's new album. Their rap and R&B covers are for the most part decently fun novelties, but gorgeous stuff like this keeps makes them a legitimately interesting band (the fact that you can dance to this one sure doesn't hurt its summer jam status).

(PS, seeing if this embed ting works, will find a better way soon).

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

It's my life, and I'm living it now

54. Armand Van Helden - "U Don't Know Me (ft. Duane Harden)" (Ffrr/Armed Records, 1999)

Starting a song with a sliver of a sample and then unraveling that sample after the intro isn't exactly an obscure technique, but I'm not sure I've ever heard it used to more ecstatic, glorious effect than it is on "U Don't Know Me", the Boston-born Van Helden's 1999 smash (#1 in the UK, don't you know). It's a song about how it feels to be misunderstood and judged harshly by folks who don't know you, and it sure is euphoric.

Monday, May 31, 2010


When I saw Cube back in the early 2000s, I was pretty impressed. I rented it with a friend to get drunk and laugh at, but a few minutes into it I realized I was honestly enjoying it, and even fairly scared at points. Which is why I was so pumped when I saw that its sequel Cube 2: Hypercube was on Netflix Instant. Disappointed isn't the right word, I mean I guess I was disappointed that it was so terrible, but I sure did laugh a lot, which I think makes it all OK. Although it's hilarious, it's such a train wreck that it becomes difficult to watch, even at its paltry 80 minute run-time. I'll save you some trouble and give you a detailed synopsis.

The plot is the same as the first, at least in premise. Six strangers are stuck inside a mysterious cube, with a door on every side that just leads to another cube. Sadly in Cube 2, these strangers are all terrible Canadian actors who try to mask their accents with what appear to be lisps. Among my faves, a blind Asian girl with super sonic hearing abilities, and an old lady with Alzheimers who can't find her dog. This character is more offensive than you can even imagine, but I feel perhaps it might be less offensive than actress Barbara Gordon's new Canadian TV series "Little Mosque On the Prairie." Oh boy.

With brilliant minds like these at work, it doesn't take them long to figure out that they're not in your average, every day regular massive cubic structure with hidden traps and moving walls, but a HYPERCUBE, or a cube with four dimensions." You see a hypercube isn't supposed to be real. It's just a theoretical construct" says one character. Oh but it's real my friend, and it's folding space time, trying to kill them by...collapsing space time...with transparent, oozy...wall stuff?

And Windows 95 screensaver thingies...

Wait, let me fix something.

Yes, much better. The movie continues with absolutely nothing remotely resembling a plot and gives the view the feeling that at any moment it could turn into pornography. Spoiler alert: it doesn't, save for one Skinemaxesque scene in which two characters, without explanation, bone while floating in zero gravity (also not explained). But then things keep happening! Like crazy diamond pillars that are also somehow related to space time, and come out and...kind of...stab...people?

Aaaand then it turns into a black hole. Maybe not. But there's like, a space tornado, as seen here:

Or as I prefer it, here:

And now you've seen Cube 2: Hypercube. Congrats.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Electrocute a barracuda, I'm here to bring the drama

55. Craig Mack - "Flava in Ya Ear (Remix ft. Puff Daddy, the Notorious B.I.G., Rampage the Last Boy Scout, LL Cool J, and Busta Rhymes)" (Bad Boy Entertainment, 1994)

Before we get to the complete headfuck that is LL Cool J's verse on here, let's discuss the stuff that's good in the conventional sense. First, there's Easy Mo Bee's beat, an unquestionable East Coast Rap classic, two notes and hazy waves that are perfect whenever they come in. It's not Biggie's best verse ever, but it's still a Biggie verse. Busta is 1994 Busta, so he's one of the most joyfully unhinged rappers ever. Mack has "your album couldn't fuck with one line," which is wonderful (in a recursive way) because if that's true of any line Craig ever said it's that line itself. Rampage is solid if unspectacular and Puffy, well, it's actually kind of impressive how sure he was of his impeding world domination (even for a rapper), considering they were pretty much just getting started here.

But the LL verse is what really elevates this to sublime. Remember this was after 14 Shots to the Dome, a relative commercial failure for him, and just before Mr. Smith, which had "Doin' It" and "Hey Lover" and pretty much established the grown up loverman LL we have today. So the vocal style at the beginning of his verse does, I think, prefigure that sort of thing, more calmly seductive than on his late 80s songs for the girls. But the content! What the fuck?
Uh! blowticious
skeevy (mmmm)
Give me cous-cous, love me good
Hollis to Hollywood, but is he good?
I Guess like the jeans, uh!
Flava like pralines
sick daddy knaamean?

They way people use the term "ironic" when it comes to enjoying music means either "enjoying something bad" which, you know, why would you, or "enjoying something for a reason opposite to which it was created" which, you know, how the hell would you know and who cares? Is it safe to assume from his MO directly following this song that LL thought screeching "HEEESHEEE" was sexy?

However you explain my enjoyment of LL's verse here, it's good enough for science to rocket this song up to #55 on our countdown. We should all be using the word "blowticious" more often.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hey London

This is the best dubsteppy thing I've heard so far this year, I think. It's called "Picture" and it's by Subeena, who keeps bringing the rhythmic variations subtly enough for them to flow together but often enough for it to be quite exciting. It's all pretty and danceable and interesting and fun, and you should go to Beatport or your preferred dance music mp3 merchant and cop it.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Heaven is Whenever is whatever (?)

It's one thing writing about why I dislike something totally different from what I've liked before, or something from a scene I used to be into but have more or less given up on. That's easy enough. It's harder, I think, to write about why I don't like something by a band I've loved for a long time and for whom a new record isn't that huge of a departure.

That's as much of an excuse for the following lack of insight as it is my usual obsession with why I think and write the way I do potentially getting in the way of my writing, but anyways, I don't like this new Hold Steady record very much and, this being the first time I've not liked something by Craig Finn, I've been thinking about it a bit.

I don't think that Franz Nicolay leaving has much to do with it. As much as I enjoyed his presence (yes, on record too), I doubt any piano fills could liven up the stuff I don't like here. That stuff starts right off the bat with "The Sweet Part of the City", which is right now my least favorite Hold Steady song ever. It sounds them finally getting pulled into a 90s facsimile of classic rock they've always been more interesting than. That I, on balance, prefer Finn ranting to him singing should be no surprise, but this is the most that his lyrical hooks have ever felt lost in a song.

It's not all bad, of course. "We Can Get Together" is even softer than "The Sweet Part of the City" and references a bunch of songs and is mostly about Heavenly, of all bands, but does well with a sweetness that is one of Finn's more underrated attributes. And I've come around on "Hurricane J", a song about a girl that, for once, isn't named after a saint. But in the end, it mostly sounds to me like a bunch of anthems without nearly enough hooks. I might go read the lyric sheet.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I'm set free to find a new illusion

56. The Velvet Underground - "I'm Set Free" (from the self-titled album, MGM Records, 1969)

Guitar solos are sweet, but I rarely listen to songs only for the solo. The rest of this song is good too, but the solo is one of those sublime moments that elevates every moment spent in its company.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Oh, Bono

It's not about Politics, religion, or the economy
It's not about borders, history, trade, oil, water, gas, mineral rights, human rights or animal rights...

I realize that this being Bono's voice makes it extra-annoying, and I realize that ESPN is trying to position the World Cup to US viewers as an Olympic-style, world-uniting event (which it is), and that might be a pretty decent tactic.

But does this ad rub anyone else the wrong way, this explicit call-to-apathy, the idea that the World Cup is so wonderful (it is very, very wonderful) that it makes everyone's problems go away? Especially as they're running ads for the ESPN documentary about the political importance of the '95 Rugby World Cup during the same commercial breaks (a TV network trying to have it both ways, ring the alarm, I know). The World Cup is one of the happiest things in the world, and I will enjoy it immensely, but trying to depoliticize an event as Global as this seems odd. The histories of the nations involved and their current place in the world don't diminish the spectacle or the efforts on the field. At the very least they enrich the narrative and at best maybe some new bit of social consciousness can sneak through to the millions of people watching.

(I'm sure when ESPN is running human-interest stories instead of analyzing football for hours a day next month I will run a furious retraction)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sobre el fascismo

Has any Spanish-language (or English-language) (or bilingual) rapper done a version of this yet? If not, let's get on that, stat.

New Caribou album, people rejoice

I finally listened to the new Caribou album (finally in 2010 parlance = less than a week after it was released, obviously) the other day and I'll be damned if it hasn't been haunting the stereo at YMD headquarters pretty much non-stop ever since. After five or six listens, it's pretty solidly my favorite record of the year (with only the Yelawolf tape in striking distance, really). I'm not sure what I was expecting from Mr. Snaith after the sunny psych-pop of Andorra but a House record wasn't really it.

Lead single "Odessa" shows the most obvious traces of Snaith's collaboration with the Junior Boys' Jeremy Greenspan, sounding more or less like a good Junior Boys track done with Snaith's textural preoccupations. It's great, but the second track, "Sun", is where things really start to open up for me, as warm as it's title implies and building on a familiar drum pattern to build something I would love to dance to outdoors this summer. On the next track Snaith starts getting crazy with the stereo panning and I love every second of it. It's exactly what a Caribou dance album would sound like, now that you think about it, and full of surprises at the same time.

Snaith talks in this Pitchfork interview about how both the structure and compositional tools of modern House opened up all kinds of possibilities for him and, while I'm cynical enough to think about how this won't stop Swim from influencing some terrible "it's like dance music, but by a real artist" writing (why do I Google things*) the more people on the dance floor the better, right? Best Caribou/Manitoba yet? Too early to tell, but maybe.

* Okay, I know, what's the point of getting upset about a site I only stumbled upon by googling "Caribou swim Jeremy Greenspan" but they gets advertising so it must be something, right? And I'm too old to be surprised by people having condescending attitudes towards dance music, but god damn, "a reputation for rigid structures" my balls. And the bit about Kelley Polar and Junior Boys (both of whom I love) "often ditching cliched components of electronica like auto-tuning and forced flanging for more structurally daring feats" is even dumber, right? Because what could "structurally" even mean that Auto-tune and "forced flanging" would have anything to do with it? And they're being structurally daring by applying pop structures to, respectively, disco and, err, electro-pop?

I am 100% for exploring and writing about music from genres and scenes you don't know shit about. But you have to be humble enough to admit that you don't know shit about them. I'm certainly guilty of not doing this once in a while too, but I promise, I'm trying.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Long nights crying by the record machine

57. Elton John - "Crocodile Rock" (DJM Records, 1972)

Good to great songs about dances are a dime a dozen, as are songs about nostalgia for a rock and roll childhood. However, songs about doing an imagined dance to an imagined song during your rock and roll childhood are, as far as I know, quite a bit more rare and the creation of such a thing by Bernie Taupin is a wonderful move. Whether not actually inventing a dance to go with is laziness or allowing for creativity on the part of the listener or both I'm not sure, but it doesn't bother me. The famously and excellently annoying hook is either more important than the lyrical content or just a cherry on top, depending on my mood.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I've seen them kissing out in the hallway

58. The Flaming Lips - "Superhumans" (from the Transmissions From the Satellite Heart album, Warner Bros., 1993)

This is the #1 Flaming Lips hit in my heart, for me the perfect mix of their scuzz and their world-conquering giddiness. The lyrics combine a message of personal sacrifice (one of Wayne Coyne's favorite themes) with with a combination of animal and space imagery that has pretty much become his bread and butter on-stage. The way Wayne strains for the melody here is completely appropriate for someone singing to a love object which seems to be as grand as a galaxy, and the when the guitar solo soars in, briefly, it soars towards the heavens.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ever since the day you put my heart in motion

So the Oscars kind of burned me out a bit, but we're totes back. Here's a wonderful song.

59. Amy Grant - "Baby, Baby" (A&M Records, 1991)

I'm no expert on Amy Grant. I know she's like the most successful Christian artist evehr and that she has a wonderful voice, but I've only really heard bits and pieces of her crossover stuff, my fav of which is surprise, surprise, her mega hit single "Baby, Baby". In my childhood memory, it shares space with early, curly-haired Mariah on VH1 (been doing lots of Mariah re-evaluation in preparation for a party we're throwing, more on that soon), and, listening to it now, it holds up just as well if not better than Mimi's wonderful early singles.

The lyrics are about all of nature showing love for that special someone and while, again, I don't know much about her Gospel stuff, some of the lyrics and imagery here (or is it just me that hears "devotion" and thinks religion) recall songs of worship. It's interesting to me hearing someone who sings about God using the same language to describe a more terrestrial love.

Of course, when I was six I had no idea Amy Grant usually sang CCM and I mostly loved her voice and the awesome solo.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Welcome back

I was a bit worried that Tip's straight out of prison stuff might be "Dead and Gone parts 2-20". Luckily, this is very much not that. Can't wait to see what else he's got.

Monday, March 8, 2010


Things we made/some of our 25-30 guests brought to our Oscar party:

- An Eggucation (deviled eggs)
- An Edumame (Edamame)
- Avatarcado Relish (Guac with apples and blue food coloring)
- The Brownie Side
- Coco avant Pretzels (Chocolate covered pretzels)
- Crazy Liver (Chicken Liver Pate)
- Crazy Tarts
- Ginvictus
- Harry Pottered Rum
- The Hurt Lager
- The Hurt Latkas
- Inglorious Basil Pesto
- Inglorious Bas-tarts
- The Princess and the Frog Legs
- A Serious Amount of Cheese Balls
- Tuna Avatartar
- UPside Down Cake

An incomplete list, I'm sure. What a night.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


So, because of various factors such as my new job, my computer touch pad going insane, and general laziness, I'm not gonna be able to finish this as thoroughly as I wanted. So here are the rest of my winners, distilled for maximally concentrated anger and accuracy.

Visual Effects: Avatar. If it doesn't win this it won't win anything. But it will win this.

Cinematography: Avatar seems to be the favorite, but I don't have any faith in the Academy being willing to give cinematography to something that's mostly animated. So I'm going with Robert Richardson for Inglourious Basterds, possibly Tarantino's prettiest looking movie ever.

Animated Feature: There's a line of reasoning that says Mr. Fox gets this because Up's reward is the Best Pic nom. That's just not gonna happen. Up wins this, though I'm shocked that the Princess and the Frog isn't getting more Disney Return to Glory hype, regardless of it's quality.

Supporting Actress: Mo'Nique. 100%.

Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz 100%.

Best Actress: A week ago I still thought there wouldn't be enough people who liked Blind Side enough for Sandy to win. But the closer it gets the more I fall in line. It's actually not even that the competition isn't good this year, it's that I think Meryl, Carey, and Gabby will all get enough votes that none of them will be able to pull ahead of Sandra Bullock.

Best Actor: There's no reason I can see to bet against Jeff Bridges here.

Adapted Screenplay: This will probably be where they honor Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner for the former Best Picture frontrunner, the shallow, offensive, insipid, boring, stale Up in the Air. A win for In the Loop would be one of the most pleasant and shocking surprises in recent Oscar memory.

Original Screenplay: I liked all of the movies in this category, which is pretty crazy. Anyways, this is between Basterds and the Hurt Locker, and as stupid as I feel about picking Basterds for Cinematography and Writing and then Hurt Locker for picture, I just feel better picking the more talky Inglorious Basterds for a screenplay award.

Best Foreign Film: I've only seen the wonderful Un Prophete and the terrible White Ribbon, but we also have Ajami, which deals with the middle east, The Milk of Sorrow, which everyone seems to agree has no chance, and El Secreto de Sus Ojos, which is emerging into a sort of favorite because it's supposedly the most conventional and straightforward of the five, qualities which the Foreign Film voters have gone for in recent years ahead of innovation or critical acclaim. I'll buy that and go with the Argentinian entry, although I'm scared they might give it to Haneke and his ribbon.

Best Director: Even if they don't give Hurt Locker Best Pic, I'd be shocked if Kathryn Bigelow missed out on this award. She deserves it, too, and so much has been made of her potentially being the first woman to win it and the ex-husband narrative that I can't see AMPAS passing this one up.

Best Picture: Gaaaaaaawd I dunno. I'm just gonna say The Hurt Locker and be done with it. I think the backlash came too late.

Enjoy your Oscars, friends. Big party here.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

DJ Paul is a dog, one you do not trust

60. Three 6 Mafia - "Stay Fly (ft. Young Buck, 8Ball, and MJG)" (Columbia, 2005)

There are only a few minutes left in the annual day on which it is most appropriate to celebrate Tennessee's finest (3/6 of course), so we might as well do it with this monster, which made the transition from "Stay High" to "Stay Fly" effortlessly. I was absolutely overjoyed today when, on my walk to the subway, a dude rolled past me actually blasting Three Six.


Best Achievement in Editing

- Avatar - Stephen E. Rivkin, John Refoua, James Cameron
- District 9 - Julian Clarke
- The Hurt Locker - Bob Murawski, Chris Innis
- Inglourious Basterds - Sally Menke
- Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire - Joe Klotz

Editors. What do they do? Is it science? Is it art? Is it magic? It's a question that's forever haunted people without a film education trying to speak intelligently about the Oscars. So to help us out, we've brought in our friend Jawn Duffy, who actually sometimes edits video professionally (and should probably be doing so now instead of talking to us about it).

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: well Jawn, let's start with who got motherfucking snubbed

Jawn Da’vi: now I have to think about what movies came out this year

Jawn Da’vi:I really wish my category wasn't the hardest one to judge

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: Well then I'll start it off by suggesting two movies that had absolutely no shot at an Oscar nomination (but I certainly like more than Avatar).

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: Crank: High Voltage, which actually does its ADD style on purpose and is something special for it and House of the Devil, which as a horror movie is more or less ineligible for awards but has a better slow build than anything in a long time.

Jawn Da’vi: Well I should preface, that for me, I feel that editing is at it's best when I totally get lost in the world of the movie. People like to call editing "the invisible art" or whatever and that can be because there's always so much more that you don't see than what you do see (and wow, there is always so much more that you don't see). So when I judge editing, it's more about getting lost and not noticing things. Pacing is really important obviously, which is why action movies like Bourne that have recently won can be just as good as a slow burner. It's not so much about the technique, but more about the experience, which is why I love movies like Zodiac or A Serious Man, which I guess is one of my snubs, that and Parnassus

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: (which I still haven't seen, shame on me)

Jawn Da’vi: which I'm guessing was an absolute nightmare to edit

Jawn Da’vi: well, you have seen every other movie out there so it's ok (for now)

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: haha

Jawn Da’vi: but back to A Serious Man

Jawn Da’vi: I knew I'd like A Serious Man from the trailer alone. That is the most perfect trailer I have ever seen. It made me happy to call myself an editor. Which is good because that's how I go around introducing myself. Hi, I'm John Duffy, but you can call me The Cutter!

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: now, a question:

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: (as we move on to who should win) How much of a bloated, over-long film can be blamed on an editor? Like, if the editor of Avatar suggested that it be half an hour shorter, you figure Cameron would just be standing there, like no!

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: Although, wait, now that I look at it he's actually one of the editors argh.

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: but take that question in the abstract, I guess.

Jawn Da’vi: yeah, that movie was a mess. When you're in a movie theater and realizing how long something is, then it's just not good. A lot of that is probably Cameron's massive, facial-hair-needing head. When it comes down to it, Jimmy Camewrong is not going to want to get rid of something that he spent 18 years writing

Jawn Da’vi: like, the little seen or heard from guy that the Coens' work with seems to magically be on the same page as them

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: haha

Jawn Da’vi: it's almost like he's an extension of them. Which is why the realtionship between the director an editor is so important. Directors like Tarantino who work with the same editor over and over again is something that I like. There's a trust there where he knows what Sally likes to do and vice-versa.

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: I mean, I should note that I don't think length is Avatar's only editing problem.

Jawn Da’vi: Oh no, definitely not.

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: Several of its action scenes are completely disorienting in the worst way possible.

Jawn Da’vi: oh but it's an alien world so it should be right?

Jawn Da’vi: or I think it was a moon actually

Jawn Da’vi: man, I hate that movie (by the way, any defense of Avatar from me should be read as sarcasm).

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: noted. So which of these five is the best, you think?

Jawn Da’vi: well, I'll briefly run through the other 4

Jawn Da’vi: ok District 9

Jawn Da’vi: the first third of how this was edited had me completely freaking out. That is EXACTLY the kind of editing that I do, the connecting of ideas documentary style with broll on top, I felt legitimate while watching that. That and the Serious Man trailer made me really happy about what I've been doing with myself over the past 3.5 years

Jawn Da’vi: Inglourious Basterds I also really liked. The first scene alone, as mentioned by countless others, is exactly what film making should be. It took me a little while after that to realize what the film was trying to do, but I liked that, I liked how it turned out, and the storytelling kept me very interested throughout

Jawn Da’vi: Push, I haven't seen, but my question there is how great can the editing actually be with a title that long and ridiculous?

Jawn Da’vi: (pause for laughter)

Jawn Da’vi: OK, and finally The Hurt Locker

Jawn Da’vi: The Hurt Locker is exactly the kind of movie I was talking about in the beginning. From the first frame I was completely immersed. I'm so happy that there's no draft because if that's even a tenth of what it's like to be a modern soldier, I wouldn't even make it off the plane. I'm sure it did with many, I was physically affected watching that movie

Jawn Da’vi: Well maybe not really, but stuff was happening inside of my body

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: I feel like the tension in the Hurt Locker is something that us amateurs ofter give credit to the editor for.

Jawn Da’vi: that's true. I mean a tense movie is a tense movie for more reasons than the editing. But what that movie shows is that everybody from the top down all the way through post, was on the same page.

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: surprise, surprise

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: sorry, wrong chat window. haha.

Jawn Da’vi: haha

Jawn Da’vi: maybe it's just that we're talking about The Hurt Locker, but that "surprise, surprise" totally freaked me out

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: so is the Hurt Locker your pick of the 5?

Jawn Da’vi: yes, absolutely

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: MINE TOO!

Jawn Da’vi: one of the best I've ever seen

Jawn Da’vi: yay!

Jawn Da’vi: the world is safe!

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: OK, now that we've wasted all this time on our opinions, the more important question.

Jawn Da’vi: I've prepared myself to be ready if Avatar wins a bunch on Sunday, but if it gets this one, then something gonna get broke real fast

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: how scared are you that it will?

Jawn Da’vi: ooh, well. I feel pretty good about The Hurt Locker winning. It won the Eddie, right?

Jawn Da’vi: which is an actual thing

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: yeah

Jawn Da’vi: I mean, they can't give Cameron multiple awards

Jawn Da’vi: again

Jawn Da’vi: or maybe they can. But if he's gonna win one, it'll be for picture or director.

Jawn Da’vi: both undeserved

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: I agree.

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: and I also agree that Hurt Locker is taking this one..

Jawn Da’vi: if THL doesn't get it, maybe they'll skip down to Basterds

Jawn Da’vi: she's been in the game for a long time

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: Yeah, I wouldn't be at all upset if Sally Menke won it

Jawn Da’vi: she's to Tarantino what Schoonmaker is to Scorcese

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: Her work on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was pretty great.

Jawn Da’vi: and she was only working with half a shell

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: FIN

Jawn Da’vi: see, that's how you edit.

OK, so my computer is responding to the Oscars being tomorrow by being almost impossible to work with. I'll try, I promise.