Saturday, January 30, 2010

Fashion request via Zhane

Sorry for the low quality YouTube capture but ladies, can we please bring back this baseball shirt and cut-offs look this summer? So dope.

Friday, January 29, 2010

I might have a new Favorite Movie Named Election

Okay, so I'm more or less joking, I've only seen Johnny To's Election the once and comparing it to Alexander Payne's wonderful film would be apples (for teachers) to (blood) oranges. But seriously, if you have Netflix (it's on instant) and like crime movies (and who is reading this and saying "Nope, don't like crime movies"), you could do a lot worse with an hour and a half than spending it with this movie about a Hong Kong Triad electing its next chairman.

Election is far from the first movie to present the mob as a business, but the way it does so is pretty wonderful, especially in the section that is essentially a long relay race (with a literal baton that is a symbol of power) in which you're not quite sure who is on whose side, but they aren't really sure either. The triad involved in the film has some well known and charismatic leaders, but when an organization so big and relatively shadowy starts breaking down, it's hard to tell who you should be taking orders from, never mind who the people around you are taking orders from. This is handled hilariously as a man beating the shit out of another man and his victim both receive phone calls with instructions to help each other out, then awkwardly do so.

It's not a John Woo-style bullet ballet, but there is some very effective violence. The acting is really awesome all around and the two stars are especially solid. Simon Yam plays the level-headed father of an adolescent son who is nevertheless the potential leader of a crime syndicate and Tony Leung Ka-Fai is his rival, who brings depth to a character whose wardrobe would probably be enough to make him reasonably awesome.

Heavily recommended, and I'm going to watch the sequel very soon.

21 years and I ain't ever met a good cop

For someone who so often blasts the notion of there being any objective "good" when it comes to music, it's amazing the amount of disconnect (verging on disbelief) I feel every time I read/hear someone talking about Drake being good at rapping.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Two Lovers

I fired up the Netfix Instant last night and watched James Grey's Brighton Beach melodrama Two Lovers, featuring Joaquin Phoenix as Leonard, a bipolar but in some ways very lucky (with the support of his parents, with the love of a Nice Jewish Girl who, for reasons not made all-the-way apparent, cares about him very much) man who lives with his parents and falls in love with his nothing-but-trouble neighbor, played by Gwyneth Paltrow with enough charm that you can see what he sees in her, but not enough crazy that you know very soon he should run away from her as quickly as possible (and that he won't). Vinessa Shaw (from the Hills Have Eyes) is great as the aforementioned Nice Jewish Girl, and the decision to have her character be not only caring and the daughter of the main character's father's business partner but also actually interesting is a great one. "Not only are you in love with a crazy person, Leonard," I screamed, "but you have this great girl who loves you who is amazing. Go back to her, you idiot!"

Yet there's something about Leonard's choices I understood, which I think is largely down to Joaquin Phoenix, who is as great here in his happy bits as he is in his mopey ones. He even raps and dances a bit which can't help but remind one of his recent whatever-the-hell-it-was/is, which works great, if you're me and love "real life" and movies interacting. And, while to color palette is kind of what you'd expect from a sad-ish 2010 movie about a loner in Brighton Beach, Grey has a hell of an eye for composition. I won't spoil the last shot, but everything about it, starting with the body positioning of the the two central characters and continuing with a zoom out to the rest of them, is just gorgeous.

RIYL: Melodramas, Joaquin Phoenix, New York Movies, Movies About Moving Back In With Your Parents, Visconti's Le Notti Bianche, GOOP (not really),

Disco in the new era

I'm just gonna say that if you like Disco and/or House, you might want to be all over anything that Tensnake puts our right now. This is the A-side to his new 12" "Coma Cat" and I like it very much.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Baby it's yours

69. TLC - "Red Light Special" (LaFace Records, 1995)

You know we had to keep it a little extra sexy for song number 69, it's not like we're adults or anything. This has recently become my favorite song on CrazySexyCool and is definitely my favorite thing Babyface has ever written. As the iconic video makes explicit, the ladies are super in-charge on this one, so even when they're offering themselves up fully ("Baby it's yours, all yours") it's clear they're taking great pleasure in their power to do so. "If I move too fast just let me know/'Cause it means you move too slow" is an awesome, sexual bravado-filled bait-and-switch. Chili gets a little more tender on the middle-eight, which sounds more like the hits Babyface was writing for Boyz II Men at the time, and adds depth to (and doesn't at all dilute) the empowerment of T-Boz's verses.

(Oh, and despite the infinitely less cool stand-in in the video, the solo on this song is, indeed, played by Slash)

Leonard Cohen Live at The Isle of Wight (1970)

(we are quite happy that our friend Ben is now a part of this jam. here he comes now. - ed.)

After three days of bad vibes, vandalism, and fires, Leonard Cohen started the penultimate performance at the third Isle of Wight festival by asking everyone in a weary crowd of six-hundred thousand to light a match. Big big balls.

I went and saw Murray Lerner's documentary of this performance earlier tonight (playing through Thursday at Cinema Village) and it was soooo satisfying. The movie is crystal clear and simple, catching Cohen while he was writing Songs of Love and Hate and tottering on the lip of his own sound. The band is world-class and huge too, constantly switching instruments while semi-circled around the Ladies Man and looking as laid back as a baked-out livingroom. And Leonard is smiling most of the time, even when giving the ultimate bummer a beautiful melody or dedicating songs to dead friends. Strolling on to stage in pajamas and a safari coat, Leonard-as-Young-Man looks a lot like a hybrid of Bob Dylan/Billy Madison: a little Jewish prankster who thinks too much about pussy but is too smart to really get in trouble. Dig it?

Lerner occasionally wanders into a dialogue about the controversy and violence of Isle of Wight, but these bits mostly feel like little caricatures of hippie angst, framing the moment well but ultimately just disrupting the Cohen. He does best when he stays with the songs, shooting with two cameras only, one looking up at Leonard from the pit, and another casually ambling around stage like a lost band member. The setlist is prime, dipping into most of the heavies from the first two records while framing some tunes that were brand new at the time (a throat ripping "Diamonds in the Mine" stands out...). But, really, I don't want to spoil it for you, my friends. I don't want to spill the beans. Because its fun to pretend you are seeing Leonard Cohen in the 70s, really fun. And who the fuck wants to read a concert review of a film anyways?

The movie is only 64-minutes long too, the perfect length. Go on your lunch hour.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Make me feel like I'm on cloud nine

70. Connie - "Rock Me" (Sunnyview Records, 1986)

A symptom of listening to music in the internet age is that I'll inevitably once-in-a-while discover something in my iTunes library and have no idea how it got there. Maybe a friend sent it, maybe I found it on a blog or a message board. There's a kind of lost feeling, a contextual mystery.

Except it's a completely different kind of contextual mystery than the common one of the pre-internet era, hearing a song on an unlabeled tape, on the radio, or blasting from somebody's car and having no idea who it is. With most mystery mp3s, that data is there in the tags or, at worst, a brief Google search of the lyrics away. The harder-to-solve mystery becomes not the identity of the song/performer or even its context in musical history, but the personal context in which we received it.

Q: Where were you when you first heard "Criminal Minded" (Connie's "Rock Me"/"Toxic"/etc.)?
A: Well, I was in my living room when it appeared through a void (Except it was there all along).

(If by your second time hearing this song you're not singing along to the "I want it, I need it..." part of the verse I'll be very surprised)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Better listen what he's sayin', punk

An early entrant into the 2010 Best Video contest, Yelawolf goes very literal with this one. Again, no reason to sleep on Trunk Muzik.

And I feel like William Tell

Co-creative credit to the homie Rich on this one, I have to say.

71. Squeeze - "Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)" (A&M Records, 1980)
The use of player-specific songs developed first among American sports in baseball, and in a rather unlikely manner. While baseball players (especially closing pitchers) were identified with individual songs long before those in football or basketball, the first fan-created parody chant was esoteric enough that it surprised this writer greatly not to have found an earlier example with more obvious lyrics and a more contemporary melody.

Indeed, the first example used as its melody a song which, at the time, was almost thirty years old and its lyrics do not mention the player by name. It began to be sung in the 2010 season by Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim fans to celebrate the newly signed Hideki Matsui and used the melody of British band Squeeze's 1980 song "Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)" to reference Matsui's supposedly prodigious collection of pornographic videos.

Its lyrics were as follows:
Behind the curtain
his collection's complete
when he feels like interracial porn
he reaches high up on his tiptoed feet

Pulling pornos from the shelf
The song spread rapidly via the internet and, with it, what now seems like an essential part of American sporting culture began in earnest.

*Hawthurn, John, Live from Right Field: A History of Fan Songs in American Sports; (Seattle, Amazon Digital Texts, 2031) 5

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I Isherwouldn't see this again

(not an actual still from A Single Man)

I didn't dislike A Single Man so much as I felt cold (or, in Tom Ford's visual language, desaturated) towards it. Ford's use of color saturation to indicate mood was obvious to the point of bludgeoning, but not unpleasant to look at and not completely disagreeable as a visual idea. And the movie's obsession with beauty actually seemed about right as far as reflecting the obsessions of its aging main character (no idea if anything here "accurately" reflected Christopher Isherwood's novel). Still, and despite Colin Firth's very interesting performance, I couldn't bring myself to feel emotionally affected by the film (a film about a suicidal English Professor who has lost the love of his life, btw).

The biggest failure of the movie was for me the scene between Colin Firth and Julianne Moore, playing old friends who once slept together before Firth's character fell in love with Matthew Goode. It could be a very emotional scene and, indeed, it seems headed that way when Moore's Charley drunkenly says something hurtful to Firth's George. It's either an old friend misunderstanding a character who is already misunderstood by most of society or an old friend being very hurtful just to be hurtful. And I briefly couldn't wait to see which it was and what impact it would have, but the argument and the scene just fizzled out. The best thing about it ended up being Booker T & the MGs' "Green Onions", which I spent the rest of the movie thinking about. Melodrama is needed and welcome in sometimes, you know? If your visuals qualify your movie for Least Subtle Movie of the Year consideration anyways, you might as well give us one or two payoffs in the narrative.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

So sick of trying to make my time last and ending up with less

72. The Hives - "The Hives - Introduce the Metric System in Time" (from the Veni Vidi Vicious album, Burning Heart Records, 2000)

One of the many great songs on the Hives' second and best album is this one, a hard rocking number about trying to introduce a revolutionary idea to society at large, and, I daresay, one of the best songs ever about the subject. Their flirtation with both extreme ends of the political spectrum within the context of Rock'n'Roll and Rock'n'Roll Performance (THE HIVES ARE LAW AND YOU ARE CRIME) was so goddamn wonderful and fun; I smile every time "Tick, Tick, Boom" is used in a sports broadcast (which is a lot, recently) cuz I like to see them getting that money.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

YMD's Golden Globes drinking game

This will be added to throughout the broadcast (maybe make that the first rule; drink every time something worthy of a drink happens). Anyways, some basic points that should get you nice and happy. Take a drink anytime:

- Ricky Gervais mentions being drunk (1 drink)
- Anyone else is obviously drunk (3 drinks)
- Anyone brings a drink on stage (1 drink + 1 drink for every drink they take on stage)
- Ricky jokes about how attractive/unattractive he is relative to an actor (1 drink)
- Anyone mentions how handsome George Clooney is (1 drink) (note: if Gervais compares himself to Clooney, you drink for both of these)
- Ricky mentions not being nominated this year (1 drink)
- Anyone mentions the NBC late night situation (1 drink)
- A pair of presenters are both from the same recently/soon to be released show/movie (1 drink)
- The show cuts from a shot of James Cameron to a shot of Kathryn Bigelow, or vice versa (2 drinks)
- The show cuts from a shot of Meryl Streep to a shot of Sandra Bullock, or vice versa (1 drink)
- The camera mistakenly cuts to the wrong person (i.e. Paul Dano instead of Paul Thomas Anderson) (1 drink)
- Anyone mentions Haiti (1 drink)
- As per Mary in the comments, anytime someone thanks God (1 drink)

Please post any other ideas in the comments.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


With a few weeks of hindsight, I think the worst thing about Avatar is probably the Na'vi themselves. There have been many volumes written about the West's construction of the Other with respect to our writings and films about Eastern and other unfamiliar cultures, and while creating Aliens doesn't free us from the responsibility of a dominant culture, it does offer an opportunity: the opportunity to portray a culture other than ours in a narrative without doing violence to/misusing a culture that actually exists.

I'll skip quickly over the aesthetic opportunity arguably missed by making these new lifeforms basically elongated smurfs and get down to the narrative one. I'm not saying Cameron had the responsibility to create a race with all brand new features and ideologies never before glimpsed by the human race, far from it. We're all for Syncretism here at YMD, we'd just prefer it was poignant, interesting, or FUN. In the Na'vi, Cameron has given us an incredibly boring melange of essentialist stereotypes of Native American and African belief systems. I honestly don't remember if the actual phrase "one with nature" was uttered at any point in Avatar but it doesn't really matter. Clichés, clichés are no fun.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Taxicab confessions

Next time Ramin Bahrani puts out a movie I won't forget to go see it in theaters and then wait like 10 months before finally watching it in Netflix instant, I promise.

Goodbye Solo seemed like kind of a masterpiece when I watched it last night tho, really. It successfully infuses its premise (aging white guy hires Senegalese cabbie to drive him out to a cliff, possibly to commit suicide; they become friends) with both realist depiction of immigrant life in Winston-Salem, NC (America) and 2 interesting characters whose mysteries (especially in the case of the aging white guy, William) reveal themselves slowly and never all the way. William's from society and Solo's pursuit of his dreams in that society could be presented in a neat juxtaposition, but Bahrani's too good for that. Instead, we get a film about America that also has more than a measure of love and respect for its characters, a great film indeed.

I'm not watered down so I'm dyin' of thirst

73. Onyx - "Slam" (JMJ, 1993)

At eight years old I had this song not on Bacdafucup but on the now hilarious looking MTV Party to Go, Vol. 5 (please, please take a look at that track listing), sandwiched in between "Boom! Shake the Room" and "Informer". It was my favorite thing on the compilation (okay maybe it was tied with "Whoomp! There It Is"), basically a New York street rap song pitched somewhere between PARTY and RIOT (and therefore belonging in the same lineage as "Ante Up"). It's not as explicitly (better yet, specifically) violent as "Ante Up", but I'll be damned if Onyx' (and especially Sticky's) cartoonish menace isn't still menacing. It makes perfect sense in retrospect that Fredro and Sticky went on to have some success as actors; there are mountains of charisma in their verses (the first and last, respectively, if you didn't know) on this song.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Worst English-to-Spanish Movie Title Translations of 2009

In the midst of favorite movies of the decade madness, I had almost forgotten that our friend Nancy (whose tumblings you can find here) sent us an altogether different kind of list all the way from Madrid. I can't believe it's taken me so long to post this, but as I believe the grace period for year-end lists is still open (I'll have my 2009 movies list ready by Oscar time, I promise), now is as good a time as any. I'll let Nancy explain:

In Spanish cinemas lots of movies retain their original English titles, but many of them are poorly translated as well. You might recognize this movie poster, but you might not recognize the title, The Crystal (or Glass) Jungle. So I decided to make a list of the horrible translations I have witnessed over the past year while living in Spain.

All the way from Madrid, I present you with . . .


1. Where the Wild Things Are
Spanish Title:
Donde Viven Los Monstruos
Meaning: Where the Monsters Live

Somehow, it just seems less interesting. I thought the movie was entirely uninteresting as well, so maybe the Spanish translation is the better of the two.

2. X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Spanish Title:
X-Men Orígenes: Lobezno
Meaning: X:Men Origins: Wolf cub

Little known fact, the wolverine animal does not exist in Spain. Thus, the hypermasculine super hero is transformed into a baby wolf.

3. He’s Just Not That Into You
Spanish Title:
Que Les Pasa a Los Hombres
Meaning: What Happens to Men

I was under the impression that the film is about what happens to the women who are interested in the emotionally unavailable men, but then again I didn’t actually see the film in the cinemas and I probably never will.

4. Funny People
Spanish Title:
Hazme Reir
Meaning: Make Me Laugh

Being an English teacher in Spain you will quickly find that your students don’t know the difference between fun and funny. They think a hilarious joke is “fun” and their enjoyable but normal weekend at home was “very, very funny”. Translators have clearly skipped the confusion with this title and just gone with a direct order - MAKE ME LAUGH!

5. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Spanish Title:
Lluvia de albondigas
Meaning: Meatball Rain

In Madrid it’s always sunny. I believe that the lack of alternate weather makes language for a weather forecast obsolete. A “chance of rain” doesn’t exist here, but meatballs do.

6. Bride Wars
Spanish Title:
Guerra de Novias
Meaning: War of Girlfriends/Fiancees/Brides

One word, three meanings.

7. Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Spanish Title:
Hacemos una porno?
Meaning: Shall we make a porno?

Instead of Zack and Miri doing all the action, the title asks you to join them and get down and dirty in the back row of the cinema.

8. Fifty Dead Men Walking
Spanish Title:
50 Hombre Muertos
Meaning: Fifty Dead Men

In the Spanish version they’re not walking. They’re just dead.

9. Dance Flick
Spanish Title:
Dance Movie – Despatarre en la pista
Meaning: Dance Movie – Doing the splits in the road

Where do I start? Why have they changed half the title to a different English translation rather than Spanish? Why have they tried to explain the ambiguity of the title with the synopsis of doing the splits in the middle of a random street? Thanks, Spain.

10. It’s Complicated
Spanish Title:
No Es Tan Facil
Meaning: It’s Not So Easy

Translating isn’t compliated work, it’s just not as easy as you think.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Have I crossed the line?

74. t.A.T.u. - "All the Things She Said" (Interscope Records, 2002)

There was no better anthem of forbidden teenage love this decade. And what better way to deliver a forbidden teenage love anthem in the 00s than with a "manufactured" "lesbian" Russian girl-group. This got played at my birthday party and it was amazing.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

if you're cruisin', I got that trunk muzik

Yelawolf's Trunk Muzik tape is the first of hopefully many good rap tapes that I've come across in 2010. Wolf's White Rapper-ness is quite noteworthy and interesting (and Brandon Soderberg has already written something noteworthy and interesting about it), and but it's far from the only reason that Trunk Muzik is worth your time. When I first heard Yelawolf on Juelz' "Mixin' Up the Medicine" the voice grated a little, but that's gone away almost completely. Turns out he's sneakily charismatic, whether he's whispering, flowing double time, or singing. The Bun B and Raekwon songs on the tape are great, but this sinister storytelling joint is my favorite right now.

Big things continuing to flow from Alabama in 2010 if this start is any indication.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Up in the errrrrrr

Up in the Air is a bad movie on a few basic levels. The first is Jason Reitman's insistence on "meaningful" montages set to weepy indie and folk-rock. They seem to pile up faster and faster as the movie goes on and they don't get any more actually meaningful.

The bigger problem with Up in the Air lies, for me, in the grossness of the topicality of the whole thing. Where it gets kind of gross is the use of the recession (including of course Real Fired People) to lend gravitas to another movie about an aging loner who realizes that (despite the fact that it's been working out pretty well for him so far) being alone is not the way to spend his life (this general idea is executed much better and with less seriousness in Grosse Pointe Blank). Reitman doesn't really have anything to say about the recession (losing your job sucks) and he doesn't actually have anything to say about isolation in the 21st century or isolation or loneliness in general.

And that's fine, you know, I don't walk into a movie theater needing to be told something completely new about life, I just don't think asking me to feel bad for a George Clooney character because Real People are telling me they got fired is particularly reasonable either.

Monday, January 4, 2010

YMD's Top 60 Songs of 2009

So, a few days late, I'ma end 2009 with a list of the 60 songs I enjoyed most last year. Back to non/different list content soon. Links provided mostly go to YouTube. Love love love, YMD.

60. Jeremih - "Birthday Sex" (link)
59. Exotic Endangered Species - "Animals Are Awesome" (link)
58. Phoenix - "Lisztomania" (link)
57. Waka Flocka Flame - "O Let's Do It" (link)
56. Precious System - "The Voice From Planet Love" (link)
55. The Flaming Lips - "Silver Trembling Hands" (link)
54. Azari & III - "Hungry For the Power" (MySpace)
53. Kid Sister - "Right Hand Hi" (link)
52. Darkstar - "Aidy's Girl's a Computer" (link)
51. Mariah Carey - "H.A.T.E.U. (Remix ft. OJ da Juiceman, Big Boi, and Gucci Mane)" (link)
50. Pill - "Trap Goin' Ham"(link)
49. Ciara - "High Price (ft. Ludacris)" (link)
48. Desire - "Don't Call" (link)
47. Britney Spears - "3" (link)
46. Q-Tip - "Renaissance Rap (Remix ft. Busta Rhymes, Raekwon, and Lil' Wayne)" (link)
45. Yung L.A. - "Ain't I (ft. Young Dro & T.I.)" (link)
44. Jacek Sienkiewicz - "All Yours" (link)
43. The xx - "Infinity" (link)
42. Whitney Houston - "Nuthin' But Love" (link)
41. Lily Allen - "The Fear" (link)
40. F.L.Y. (Fast Life Yungstaz) - "Party Time (Surf Party)" (link)
39. Joker - "Digidesign" (link)
38. Music Go Music - "Warm in the Shadows" (link)
37. Nicki Minaj - "Beam Me Up Scotty" (link)
36. Ill Blu - "Time To Get Nasty" (MySpace)
35. Miley Cyrus - "Party in the U.S.A." (link)
34. JoJo - "25 to Life" (link)
33. DJ Paul - "Pop a Pill (ft. Lord Infamous)" (link)
32. Joy Orbison - "Hyph Mngo" (link)
31. Usher - "Papers" (link)
30. Still Going - "Spaghetti Circus" (link)
29. Cam'ron - "I Used to Get It in Ohio" (link)
28. Soulja Boy Tell 'Em - "Cold Summer" (link)
27. Kelly Clarkson -"I Do Not Hook Up" (link)
26. Crazy Cousinz - "Inflation" (link)
25. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Heads Will Roll (A-Trak Remix)" (link)
24. Green Velvet - "The Case of the Lost Jacksters" (link)
23. Shakira - "She Wolf" (link)
22. Big Boi - "Shine Blockas (ft. Gucci Mane)" (link)
21. Donae'o - "Party Hard" (link)
20. Jackie Chain - "Diamonds and Cadillacs" (link)
19. Ida Maria - "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked" (link)
18. Electrik Red - "Friend Lover" (link)
17. Maxwell - "Pretty Wings" (link)
16. Gorilla Zoe - "Dope Boy" (link)
15. DJ Quik and Kurupt - "Hey Playa! (Moroccan Blues)" (link
14. Fever Ray - "Triangle Walks" (link)
13. Jamie Foxx - "Blame It (ft. T-Pain)" (link)
12. Joris Voorn - "Sweep the Floor" (link)
11. Dirty Projectors - "Stillness Is the Move" (link)
10. Tensnake - "In the End (I Want You to Cry)" (link)
9. Gucci Mane - "Wasted (ft. Plies)" (link)
8. Moody - "Desire" (link)
7. The Juan Maclean - "One Day" (link)
6. The-Dream - "Take U Home 2 My Mama" (link)
5. Young Dro - "Clean With It" (link)
4. Fuzzy Logic - "In the Morning (ft. Egypt)" (link)
3. Taylor Swift - "You Belong With Me" (link)
2. House of House - "Rushing to Paradise (Walkin' These Streets)" (link)
1. Future of the Left - "Arming Eritrea" (MySpace)