Friday, February 27, 2009

Celebrity Apprentice Odds...Because we love to gamble!

Full disclosure - I have never watched one single episode of Celebrity Apprentice, or regular Apprentice. No, I'm not one of those anti reality TV people, crying that they signify the downfall of modern civilization. I mean, you put Brett Michaels in a house (or bus) with a group of marginally attractive "ladies" and I'm popping popcorn in anticipation. I just never got on the Trump train way back when. So, you can take that into consideration when reading the rest of this.


I do know my bottom of the rung celebrities, and it seems Trump has amassed some doozies for his latest show. My goodness. I assume he sent out his casting directors with explicit instructions to visit bus stations and Howard Johnsons to round out his crew. He might be breaking laws without using quotes around "celebrity" or at least throwing an asterisk next to it.

That isn't to say there aren't some intriguing characters on the show. In fact I think there are just enough to get me to at least think about watching the first episode, airing this Sunday night. Perhaps not the most glowing endorsement, but it's an endorsement nonetheless. And Trump has to be happy with that, right? Right?

On the flips side, a breakdown of the odds I give each "celebrity" to win this whole shebang...

Apologies for not including photos. For some of these people, I'm fairly sure you've never seen them before. To get a look, please visit the official Celebrity Apprentice site. Names are followed by what NBC describes them as being famous for. That in itself is full of humor...

Annie Duke
Poker champion

My personal odds on favorite to win. She showed some intelligence and moxie on (and I can't believe I A. saw this; B. remember this; and C. admit to this) 1 vs. 100. See for yourself:

As a poker player I think her competitiveness will really come out, more so than her "I just want some TV exposure." It's going to take her a long way and possibly give her what she needs to win the whole thing.

Andrew Dice Clay

At some point he is going to mouth off (over under 6 minutes into the first meeting with Trump) which won't endear him to many people. Will Trump find it cute? Possibly the first 75 times it happens, but then that 76th time will come along and BAM - so long Diceman. Somewhere Nora Dunn is weeping laughing right now.

Brian McKnight
R & B Star

First of all, calling McKnight "star" without at the very least preceding it with "former" might be grounds for libel. Second of all, I think his lack of star appeal on the show will take him far. Far enough to win? Time will tell (and hopefully someone who watched this show, because I'm already having regrets telling you all I might watch the first episode).

Brande Roderick
Playboy Playmate

I can guarantee one thing - Ms. Roderick will not be eliminated in the first round. She could openly make out with Steve Wynn on Trump's Polar Bear rug (you know he has one) and she isn't getting eliminated. Why not? The 2 Bs. Blond and Bosomy.

Clint Black
country Star

When you look at the list and think about it, Clint Black might be the biggest star there. Sure, not to us snobby, hipster northeastern viewers, but to that ginormous middle part in the country we like to call Boring Part of the Flight Land, this guy is Elvis...or something. Trump knows this, wants Celebrity Apprentice to get huge ratings and therefore won't even entertain the notion of firing this guy before the semis. A safe bet.

Claudia Jordan
Model, Deal or No Deal

Being brunette isn't going to help her. Neither is the fact that her biggest gig seems to be opening a silver suitcase. She's eye candy so that might save her a few rounds, but unless we hear "Ivy league education" and her name in the first episode, Trump will quickly writer her off.

Dennis Rodman
NBA Star

Rodman's stint can go one of two ways. He'll be kept around a couple rounds, ending up in the bottom fairly routinely to show off his "off the cuff" nature in the boardroom, until he's finally eliminated toward the end, or he'll storm off the show within 15 minutes. There's really no middle ground. Also, I'm assuming there's a boardroom and multiple people up for elimination that Trump ultimately decides on, but if that's not the case I apologize.

Hershel Walker
NFL Star

Sure, he has a multiple personality disorder, but any guy who ever played Russian Roulette, no matter what personality it is, is going to get some props in my book.

Jesse James
Entrepreneur/TV Star

He works on cars I think? He's listed as an entrepreneur so that has to count for something. Other than that, this guy is a wild card, and wild cards always seem to make some noise in irrelevant reality TV competitions, which is why I love this guy for a value bet. And if you don't know what a value bet is, well that just means you don't have a gambling problem. Consider yourself lucky.

Joan Rivers

Another one that will run her mouth. I really can't see Ms. Rivers willing to sully her (perceived) status and stoop to some of the lower levels she will have to to win some of the show's challenges.

Khloe Kardashian
Reality Star

There's something to be said about our society when someone is a big enough star to go on a reality show because she's been on previous reality shows. If I were the other contestants, I'd put a target on Khloe's back for degrading their already questionable celebrity status. I doubt she'll get any favors from them. And Trump? He's going to be mad that he could only get Khloe from the Kardashian Klan, and will more than likely hold it against her. First round exit? Don't bet against it.

Melissa Rivers
TV Host/Producer

Producer? I'm impressed! Melissa went a long way on that celebrity survival show in the jungle, so she has experience with advancing in reality TV competitions (I wonder if that's on her resume? - skilled in advancing on reality TV competitions). She also has something that no other contestant has - the desire to show up her mother. Don't sleep on the spite a daughter has to stick it to mom.

Natalie Gulbis
Golf Champion

This is the type of contestant that can sneak up on everyone. I'm 90% sure none of the other contestants know who she is (75% probably don't know the women have a professional golf tour), so no one is going to perceive her as a threat. Plus, I follow her on Twitter and she seems pretty smart.

Scott Hamilton
Figure Skating Champion

What's Scott Hamilton been doing for the past 25 years other than Olympic figure skating commentating? Pushing his agent to get him on a show like this. Add that to a competitive drive and a Napoleonic stature and you have the makings of a reality television celebrity. He wins this and he takes that title away from Khloe. Cat fight!

Tom Green
1 google to 1

I opted for the largest number known to man for Mr. Green's odds because there is no way Trump let's the person responsible for this:

Win anything he's involved in. And there's no way Tom Green is going on this show to win anything from Donald Trump. They probably have some weird agreement already worked out behind the scenes already for Green to do something "Tom Greenish" on the third show so rump can get all theatrical and toss him off.

Tionne Watkins
R&B Star, TLC

Not Left Eye, not the other one, but the other one from TLC. Apparently she went by T-Boz. I'm guessing there will be such a general state of confusion as to which one she was in TLC, followed by false accusations of her burning down former Atlanta Falcon Andre Risen's house that she'll garner a lot of the sympathy/anonymity one needs to succeed on these shows.

Links of Interest 2/27

I will argue (if you really want to get into it) that Nick Arcade is one of the top game shows of all time. I'd put it in my top 5. So, a movie about it? I would definitely go see it. As long as Phil Moore was prominently involved.

Your daily Russian link (maybe this should be an ongoing feature). This one is about a hole.

Remember the Unabomber? Well, it turns out he was kinda right. Minus the bombs. Looks like I'm going to have to dig out that manifesto of his.

Here's a chart that shows fuel consumption for a number of different modes of transportation.

A Clue remake is in the works. Let's hope they have the intelligence to keep Martin Mull in the works. He needs the work.

A resort in Dubai designed to invoke the lost city of Atlantis. I bet you can sty there cheap now.

The pros and cons of all this Google Map stuff.

Can a full moon really make people crazy? Or turn them into werewolves?

Just in case you get really annoyed with your neighbor.

An essay about backroom politics, mineral mining and corruption.

An ode to the Waffle House. In Esquire. It makes me mad since Cline and I have been extolling the virtues of this place and writing love songs about it for years.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Top Albums of 2008 - Goose Edition

So we've already seen Cline's awesome best of 2008 music list, and now it's my turn.

Yes, we're two months into 2009, and 2008 feels as relevant as Pet Rock I have on my mantle. Everyone is hopping on the new thing bus, leaving me at the curb holding a greasy bag of 2008's music. But I'll let you in on a little secret - in the three years I've been tabulating a list of my favorite music of the year, this is the earliest I've ever gotten one out. I mean, it's not even March yet!

A quick look at how I do things. Because music is so subjective, it's difficult for me to say what is the "best" in a given year. Why is my opinion any more valid than anyone elses? Why is anyone elses more valid than mine? I'll let you in on another little secret. My opinion trumps no ones, and no one trumps mine. The opinions of others only hold the amount of weight you give them. So I'm not saying anything on this list is "better" than anything; I'm saying I simply like the music on this list more than anything I've heard in 2008.

2 Quick notes before we dive in...

1. To create this list, I looked at a lot of end of year best of lists, asked for recommendations and searched stuff out that I heard might be cool. I listened to a lot of albums...a lot were good, a lot were bad, and a few I hated.

2. We've made it easier than ever to buy the music on this list. Simply click on the album title (or the MP3) and it will take you to a direct link to Amazon. Yes, we get a percentage of the sale, but we promise it won't change us. We'll be the same sons of bitches we've always been.

Ok, so let's take a look at the list...

10. Dr. Dog - Fate (MP3)

Fleet Foxes got a lot of accolades this past year for their album. And while I’m not one to say people’s personal taste sucks (because when you get right down to it, these lists are simply personal opinion and there is no right or wrong answer. In fact, I’m just writing this in hopes you’re entertained, and don’t care one way or the other whether you think the music I’ve selected is good or not) but seriously people who like Fleet Foxes? Their personal tastes suck (and if you didn’t see that joke coming, then maybe you shouldn’t be reading this).

Seriously though, I think Dr. Dog (a band out of Philly so who knows, maybe I have a bias) is leaps and bounds better than the Foxes. I think their music offers a great variety of sound and ideas that Fleet Foxes hasn't shown yet. I know it's pointless to compare bands, but I wanted to make sure that all the people that jumped on The Fleet Foxes bandwagon got a chance to listen to a group that is, in my opinion, riding the same train but doing it better.

Here's the video for Hang On, my favorite song off the album...

9. The Black Angels - Directions to See a Ghost (MP3)

I thought long and hard how to describe the music on this album. Here’s a few I came up with:

“It’s a modern day update to the last hour of the Apocalypse Now soundtrack.”

“The soundtrack to an acid trip teetering on the edge between good and bad.”

“What you would have on the radio driving to your first midnight orgy held under a bridge somewhere."

"Something to listen to when you need to dispose a body."

Any of those ever happen to you? Didn't have the right music to set the mood? Well, thank God for The Black Angels.

Here's the video for the song "You On the Run," which pretty much captures the essence of the band:

And here's a song not on the album but awesome nonetheless, and guaranteed to make you think Pink Floyd (simply for the name alone): Sniper at the Gates of Heaven:

Also not on the album, here's Black Angels covering I Wanna Be Your Dog at Bonnaroo last year:

8. Blitzen Trapper - Furr (MP3)

The concept of the traditional rock band is dying. Music is trending toward the individual artist, with instruments becoming an afterthought. People are flocking to see DJs spin and program to watch the pretty lights and sounds emanate from electronic boxes while sipping on ecstasy shakes and pawing one another. Weed and LSD don't work at these shows; they're your grandfather's drug.

The extension of the cock isn't a guitar anymore, it's a USB cord, plugged into a projector designed to blink in 120 BPM time.

And yet there are still bands who are resisting our silver plated overlords and fighting the good fight. Bands like Blitzen Trapper. Their path is straight backwards, to a time when musicians with instrument talent were considered gods…When the guitar was an extension of sex. Listen to them and pick out the Dyaln, Beatles, Who references as their warm sound washes over you. We don't have to lose our souls to the cold, mathematical sounds of programming and Tron just yet; Blitzen Trapper is proof of that.

Here's the band playing the title track on Conan:

7. The Hold Steady - Stay Positive (MP3)

Stay Positive is not a revolutionary album, but it is a great rock and roll album – something we’re finding less and less of. Impersonal in a good way, singer Craig Finn creates his songs for a more general audience this time around, leaving Charlemagne, Holly and others behind.

Unfortunately, I loved those characters, and I loved the way Mr. Finn recited their stories and memories to us. That's why, the first time I heard Stay Positive, I was disappointed. In my head, it didn’t hold up, and left me wanting more. Sure, it had big riffs and some clever wordplay, but it had neither the wit and “fuck life” attitude of Separation Sunday, nor the full sound and sly polish of Boys and Girls in America. In fact, for a brief instant, the term “watered down” entered my head. But I continued to listen, and realized I was wrong.

The evolution of sound from Boys and Girls in America to Stay Positive come in the instrumental arrangements and new sounds. Additional horns, new vocals and even a harpsichord come into play. Sure, some fail, but if we don’t reward the risk, then no one will ever attempt anything new again.

I didn’t want to put this in my top 10, but at the end of the day it wouldn’t let me forget it. The Hold Steady refuse to go away. And I for one am glad about that.

One of my favorite youtube videos...the mashup of the Muppets and Sequestered in Memphis. It's been taken down routinely, so watch it while you can:

6. The Black Keys - Attack and Release (MP3)

Every time I mention this band to my friends they immediately invoke the White Stripes. As in, “Aren’t they just like the White Stripes?” Now, while I can’t argue that both bands have two members, have a color in their name and frequently dip into the blues genre for inspiration, I don’t see the similarity. The sounds of both groups are different in my hear. Maybe both groups sound incredibly similar and I’m just missing something. I’m not above suggesting I’m an idiot.

But that’s beside the point, because The Black Keys play filthy, dirty blues to perfection. And while Dangermouse is on board for this album, he leaves the beeps, boops and heavy production back at Gnarls Barkley’s house. Like a good ump in baseball, Dangermouse doesn’t allow his presence to be noticed; instead he allows the gnarled, raw sound take center stage. And that raw sound kicks ass. Evovled into a controlled snarl, The Black Keys have harnessed it, allowing it come out when it's needed, and pull back on its leash when it gets too scary. Whenever I hear The Black Keys are working on a new album I get excited for what I will get to hear. And I haven't been disappointed yet.

Here's The Black Keys performing "I Got Mine" at Abbey Road:

5. Black Mountain - In the Future (MP3)

A phrase like "catchy psychadelia" is one that I'm sure frightens both people that enjoy Britney's latest and people that cling to the desperate chance that CAN will get back together, but it needn't. At least when it's used to describe the sound of Black Mountain. Because BM (an unfortunate acronym to be sure) give both camps that phrase invokes the seriousness they deserve.

Black Mountain makes music that doesn’t apologize for wanting to live in the same neighborhood as 70s prog rock bands AND the cute little apartment complex of catchier pop bands. So many bands have tried and failed to make this sound work; Black Mountain has found the formula and does it well.

This album includes the 16+ minutes opus Bright Lights, which is almost an entire album itself. I liken it to the Genesis masterpiece, “Supper’s Ready,” another album within an album song that takes the listener on an aural journey through many landscapes both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. Not everything in it is enjoyable, but that only gives the food stuff a higher peak for which the listener to jump off and get involved.

Listening to Black Mountain gives me the simultaneous sense of both the familiar and unfamiliar. And I love them for it.

Here's a live version of the song "Tyrants:"

And, if you'd like to enjoy the epic "Bright Lights," here's part 1:

and part 2:

4. Girl Talk - Feed the Animals (MP3)

Sure, there’s a much larger debate about this album, and it’s a wonder where the lawsuits are, but that has no bearing on how entertaining the thing is. Bug out to the infectious beats, marveling at just how easy Feed the Animals makes it to get out on the dance floor and dry hump that pretty boy or lady you saw in the sequined shirt when you first came in. Never mind that it’s your neighbor’s house, and your actions will surely cause a scandal and lots of investigative journalism from Herb, that creepy guy no one likes that came to the last community meeting and filled the at-large chair because no one else wanted it. Girl Talk pushes all those thoughts and worries into tomorrow, filling your present state of mind with “Oh yeahs” and “I remember that ones” due to the possibly thousands of old school, new school and no school songs Girl Talk culls, collects and concocts into booty shaking gems. It's a musical time loop, overlaying the present on the past and giving you a chance to bump and grind in two different eras. Who knew Girl Talk would become the Lost of music?

And here's the man behind Girl Talk, talking about a serious problem:

3. Frightened Rabbits - The Midnight Organ Fight (MP3)

I wish this album were around during my romantic woes in high school. Unfortunately, all I had was Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever to comfort and aid my heartache. And while Mr. Petty can write a finely crafted song, Running Down a Dream just could not comfort me as I cradled my knees, contorted into a ball and cried myself to sleep every night. (Ok, maybe every other night, but only because I caught Letterman's top 10.)

Lush when it wants to be and sad when it has to be, The Midnight Organ Fight runs the gamut of emotions, and translates it all into beautiful music that offers no clichés or Hollywood movie plotlines. Providing more than depression and sorrow, it's also not your standard break up album.

The song "Heads Roll Off" by Frightened Rabbit:

2. Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid (MP3)

Full, lush songs that take the listener on a journey down a river of melodies.

Some scientist somehow took Sting and Dave Gahan (singer from Depeche Mode), and morphed them into one person. That weird Sting/Depeche Mode abomination somehow escaped its shackles, and instead of questioning its existence and the meaning of life (like that pussy monster in Shelley’s Frankenstein (and let’s be honest- who really thinks she wrote that to begin with?)) chose to find a few more musicians and become the band Elbow.

I mean, that’s the only scenario I can think of that can explain this band’s sound. If you have any other suggestions, I’ll certainly listen, but they better be pretty convincing.

The only negative thing I can say about this album is, aside from the first song and maybe one other, every track feels as though it could be the last song on the album. Whether that’s a negative is up to you.

Here's a perfect example of the Depeche Mode vibe with their song "Grounds for Divorce:"

1. TV On the Radio - Dear Science (MP3)

I really didn’t want to like this album. In fact, I pretty much dismissed it when it first came out because of how much I hated Return to Cookie Mountain. Yes, I’m the one. But then, I saw it popping up on so many year end lists, that I felt I had to give it a shot, if for no other reason so I could defend its omission.

The problem with that plan?

I enjoyed the album. Immensely.

Yes, there were times after listening to it I questioned just how much I liked it, but I kept going back to it, realizing how challenging and emotional it was. And above all else, and the thing I thought TV on the Radio was missing – it’s catchy. It’s something you want to listen to repeatedly, because it sounds good. For this album, they chose to lose the pretentiousness, or at least hide it behind some catchy riffs. And strangely, the strategy of using 8 sounds where 2 would do, works. I don't know how, but it does.

The one thing I will say is that they're spotty on live performances, though they don't sound too bad here:

So the moral of this tale? Other than just enjoy the music you enjoy and say Fuck You to anyone who suggests you're dumb? Music still surprises, often when you don't expect it to.

I hope you enjoyed the list, and please...I'm always looking for new music. So if you think I've missed anything, you're probably right, and I'd love to hear about it in the comments.

Links of Interest 2/26

Much like the author of this article, I’m no wine pro and rely on pretty packaging for my purchases. It seems wineries might be catching on.

An outtake of the song Revolution from the Beatles. Listen to the progression between 1 up to 9.

The seven largest things ever stolen.

This certainly sounds made up. And I'm not so sure I can depend on any Russian news agencies at this point.

It's like the movie Pi without the bad guys and trepanation.

Did Stanley Kubrick predict the future with the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey?

Even if you're a well known session drummer, you still need a gimmick to sell your album. Josh Freese has one. I particularly enjoy the $75,000 limited edition.

It used to be the only thing archaeology sites had to worry about was plundering Nazis.

It won't be a plague that kills us, it will be nanotechnology.

Bizarre (some even might go so far as to say stupid) college courses.

Inside the world of taxi cab dispatchers. It’s not as easy as Louis made it out to be:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Links of Interest 2/25

10 beers you should try before you die. I've tried none of them. Not happy I don't see the meat beer on here I've sampled and loved.

An $8 chocolate bar. Is it expensive because it’s good, or good because it’s expensive.

The real Robinson Crusoe.

Calculating the force of a stabbing can determine guilt apparently. I always thought the stabbing kinda determined guilt, but that's just me.

The second best news of the day. Richter is returning to Conan!

And here's the best news of the day. I'll let it be a surprise.

An interview with Tom Colicchio, the bald judge on Top Chef (without the accent).

The "it" comedian of the moment, Demetri Martin.

A compare and contrast between the cells in your body and the stars in a galaxy. Quite possibly need to be stoned to fully enjoy.

Album covers that are almost as important as the music underneath them.

A look at how and what DaVinci thought about all the time.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Links of Interest 2/24

Just in time for two days after the Oscars, a look at some really bad acceptance speeches.

Greek guy breaks out of jail by grabbing rope ladder from a helicopter. What was he in jail for? Among other things, trying to escape jail by grabbing a rope ladder from a helicopter.

Funny public service announcements.

A look at the upcoming 2009-10 television landscape.

The mystery of Phillip Seymour Hoffman's do rag - solved. The answer? Glorified bed head.

Ghostbusters 3 news. Though I’m not happy the writer takes a swipe at Ghostbusters 2. Where else would we get to see Viggo? Don’t answer that.

Think you need a fancy camera to take good pictures? Think again.
Writer Michael Lewis talks about what it's like to write.

A 3 page article about how airlines should board their passengers on a plane? Alright, I'm in.

The most famous (angry) movie critic you've never heard of. Because he hates movies.

Advice columnist fight!

Monday, February 23, 2009

An entertaining Oscar night on Twitter

I realize I'm beginning to sound like a shill for Twitter, and want to preface this article by saying I'm not. I certainly will, and if you have the means, or just want to forward this to the Twitter offices I'm all for it, but as of right now I'm just a big fan.

I will also say Twitter is not for everyone, and that is evident in the daily requests I get of people trying to sale me their get rich quick schemes on there. I wish there was some way to eliminate the riff raff like that from Twitter, but until then, I just put up with it. Twitter is not easy to figure out, and I myself am not 100% sure of its value.

But last night gave me more than a glimpse of its potential...

Following a live event on Twitter can be difficult, but the level of difficulty is completely up to you. That's because Twitter allows you to choose who you want to follow, so you can manage the number of "tweets" (yes I think that's a stupid word but I think it's part of the social online vernacular, so I'm going with it) you'll receive. Now, with a live event, tweets usually get ramped up since people are reacting immediately. So when that Japanese guy name dropped Styx classic song Mr. Roboto last night, my page exploded with reaction (all good by the way).

(It also exploded when Bill Maher came out. People really don't like him. Here are a few examples...)

janiehaddad Bill Maher's wearing a Fruit Roll Up.

drew42e I wish he'd make his oscar disappear, up Mahers arse

radiocolin BIll Maher, shut the fuck up. You're an asshole.

But what makes following a live event special? Well it's not so much the constant tweets, it's the comraderie one feels with the people you choose to follow and the people that are choosing to follow you. It's like MST3K - on a really large scale, or hanging out with people at a bar drunkenly insulting all the pretty people on the boob tube (speaking of boob tube - Sarah Jessica Parker - thanks for bringing your gigantic puppies on stage with you. Delish).

However fake the feeling might be (because I honestly don't believe Richard Roeper was reading all my comments last night,) it's fun to believe it's a genuine sense of sharing. And since you get to control who you follow, you can create a small, social scene of like-minded individuals.

And then of course, there's the retweet - possibly the greatest thing you can get in the Twitter universe. Because everyone on Twitter not only has their own following island, it's easy to miss great lines that people tweet. But retweeting solves this. Say you have an especially funny line like Paul F. Tompkins had last night about seeing Kevin Kline:

Twitterkins Why is Sam Waterston wearing that fake mustache?

You can bet I'm retweeting that to my followers - and giving credit back to Paul F.

I think above everything else out there, Twitter has come closest to recreating a true social gathering for agoraphobics. And I mean that in the best sense possible. I mean where else could you feel such a close bond with Kevin Pollack?

kevinpollak Not for nothin', I've only been a twitter for 6 days, and because of it, this is the most fun I've EVER had watching this glorious parade.

Like I said before, I don't think Twitter is for everyone, and I don't think the collective group of people using it have completely figured it out yet. But after last night, I think we're getting closer.

And just because I had so much fun, here's a sampling of my favorite tweets last night with appropriate set up if needed. Yes, some of mine are included, because I'm an egomaniac...

scharpling phillip seymour hoffman equals a pile of soft serve vanilla ice cream wearing a hat.

Goose I'm rooting for Denise Richards in Dancing with the Stars because she out crazied Charlie Sheen

michael_bay Documentaries? Seriously? Those are not actually considered movies, are they?

(it's fake Michael Bay, but totally worth following)

After the Dancing With the Stars commercial aired...

TheCline - My long-time crush on Belinda Carlisle has just expired. She hit the wall and the wall fired back.

After Will Smith fucked up...

TheCline - No one can tell me that Will Smith's "dynamite" line wasn't planned on his part. I've seen calculators that weren't as calculating.

After Slumdog won all the sound awards...

Goose Anyone else think Slumdog Millionaire was the first movie listed on the sound awards' ballot?

During the Jerry Lewis tribute...

Goose That Man on the Wire guy is cracking up right now.

Goose when he passes - do we get the nazi clown movie released? That will set the bar on how much I wish him to die. DougBenson Ive only missed four! Who wants to fight?!

On the death montage...

Caissie I think the In Memoriam montage should be introduced by the celebrity most likely to die next.

On the previous Best Actress winners on stage...

TheCline - Loren comes in as 3rd-most fuckable in that group.

When Winslet mentioned her shampoo bottle Oscar...

Goose What else did you do with that shampoo bottle Ms. Kate?

On Streep bringing her "daughter" as her "date"...

Goose are we certain that's Streep's daughter? Hiya - it's Oscars after dark.

When the best actors came out on stage...

Twitterkins Great idea, playing "The Magnificent Seven" theme to welcome FIVE PEOPLE.

TheCline - Frost/Nixon is Langella's second-best movie. The best? Masters of the Universe with Lundgren & Cox.

On seeing Adrien Brody's hair...

DougBenson Hair contest is over!

Twitterkins The Black Crowes dude LOVES Richard Jenkins!

DougBenson Ben Kingsley and Mickey Rourke should be Bond villains. In the same movie!

When best picture was announced...

Goose Frost/Nixon probably won but Spielberg just wanted to see a bunch of Indian kids running around on stage.

After seeing the montage of upcoming movies in 2009...

TheCline - Can I pay someone to make sure I never see "Old Dogs", even accidentally?

So if you've made it to here, and chuckled a couple times, I'd recommend you head to Twitter and work on who you want to follow. And if you didn't, well, you can always get your entertainment from our blog.

Links of Interest 2/23

While I'm sure it's just a ruse to attract more of an audience and he won't really be leaving the show, this is the sort of thing that can refresh The Office and take it back to it's glorious, awkward beginnings.

Do you own a real doll? Wait, don't answer that. I don't want to know. Let's just say if you do, and if you happen to uh, break it - this is the guy to contact.

Hey you might have a disease that no one even knows about yet!

A haunted tunnel in Massachusetts.

Scientists are working on genetically modifying fruit to make it healthier for us. So it's only a matter of time before we have to fight it in the streets.

The top 10 modern mysteries.

Reminisce about the 80s by reading this guy's old love letters. Didn't live in the 80s? Then I don't know what to tell you. Maybe you can think of it as classic literature.

Myths about the weather.

A store that sells "death antiques." Yeah, I don't know what they are either.

A look at tombs and cemeteries you should try to visit before you die. Or, maybe visit when you're on the verge of dying. Though I doubt you'll be laid to rest in any of these.

Crazy phenomena from around the world.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Links of Interest 2/20

What it's like to write for Conan O'Brien.

The flap about the Facebook Terms of Service.

An appreciation for the movie Eyes Wide Shut.

Dispelling the myths about the wild west.

Sometimes a high tech problem has a simple, low tech fix.

Can a writer help panhandlers by tweaking the message on their signs?

Is free speech too harsh a concept in an online world?

A former Guantanamo Bay guard tells all.

It's not a question if life is out there, it's a question of how much life is out there.

Why “25 Random things about me” on Facebook is awesome.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thought on Lost: "316"

"Get the faith out of my Lost!"

That's the twitter I sent out last night during the episode. Not because I'm not a believer in faith. That's not a debate to get into right now. I can certainly enjoy a show or movie (or book or other form of entertainment) that deals with faith in a positive and constructive way. But having it show up on Lost last night irritated me, because after a great start to season 5 with a lot of questions answered and new potential (and I'm way on board with the time travel and have been for quite some time now (I'll keep pimping myself too with that link)) they have reintroduced the idea of faith/religion having a large relevancy with what is going on.

I get the fact that Jack is a man of science and Locke is a man of faith. And that they are juxtaposing those notions this season (Locke is currently embroiled in some of the scientific aspects of the island; Jack has to believe in things he doesn't understand) but the faith subplot has largely been a minor point so far this season until last night. The whole recreating the craqsh to the best of your ability seemingly has no rational explanation, nor does Locke having Jack's dad's shoes on, which was a pretty huge disconnect for me. Now, if they go ahead and explain it in an upcoming episode and it makes (at least a little) sense, then I'm ok with it. But right now, as I watched, it took me out of the episode and annoyed me. Oh well, that's my rant.

Some other thoughts from the episode...

About five minutes in I got a text from my resident art geek telling me that lamp post is a reference to The Chronicles of Narnia and that the painting in the monastery (for lack of a better term to call it) was Doubting Thomas. Luckily, soon after that we got a little more explanation from Ben about the painting (though seriously, can we ever take anything Ben says at face value at this point) but I have no idea what the name, "lamp post" signifies. I also would have never gotten that reference, so kudos to my art geek friend.

Ben covered in blood at the marina? I'm not saying I know what's going on there, but I will say I have a bad feeling about Penny's whereabouts right now. Revenge for Alex? I guess we'll find out. I will say the first time I've ever really seen Ben flustered was in last week's episode when he saw Desmond show up. It was as if everything else he had figured out except for the Desmond curve. We'll see if that comes up later as well.

So, are we going to get a whole bunch of new castaways on the island? Seems as though there was a correlation between how accurate they could recreate the initial plane crash to how close to the "present" they could get to on the island. And no, I can't explain that sentence.

Ben is upping the dickishness, isn't he?

Anyone else think Desmond was going to hit the pendulum when he was talking to Eloise? Why didn't he just grab it? Ride it around a little bit? Like you wouldn't have laughed.

Love that Lapidus is back in the picture. Also loved his realization when he saw the survivors on his plane. "We're not going to Guam, are we?" Seriously though, is Guam really an ideal destination?

Do we think Sayid is on the plane of his own free will, or did Ben get him caught and brought back? I can't imagine he needs to be extradicted back to Guam for anything.

Ok, so let's revisit the Top Losties I Want to Hang Out With:

1. Ben - Seriously because if I'm not, he could show up bloody talking on the pay phone in front of my house. At least I could keep my eye on him.
2. Faraday - He's simply got to know something.
3. Jin - Seems like he's doing pretty well for himself
4. Jack - Even though he's walking around in a fog, obviously stuff is revolving around him.
5. Miles - I know he has a nose bleed and might not be long for this world, but still he's a survivor. I hope.
6. Lapidus - Hopefully he isn't eaten by a monster next week like the pilot from the original crash.
7. Hurley - Though I hate him, of everyone else he is acting like a rational person facing the irrationality of the situation he is in. Nice touch buying up seats on the plane.
8. I fully expect Sayid to be cuffs free on the island. Still...allegedly going against Ben last week can't be good.
9. Locke - Sure, dead now, but awesome ice burn on Jack, and c'mon - he's so not going to be dead soon.
10. Kate - Well, she's still alive. Who knows what she did with Aaron. Guess? Gave him to Claire's mom, because she's really a softie at heart!

Notables not on the list:

Juliet, Sawyer - Yeah, those nose bleeds can't be a good sign.
Jin - Boring.
Desmond - Yeah, not so sure how the family is, so...
Charlotte - well, she's dead and all. And I know that doesn't mean that much on the island, her death scene seemed pretty grave.

Links of Interest 2/19

A ghost town zoo. It's like 12 Monkeys without the animals running around on the desolate highways. Ok, so it's nothing like 12 monkeys.

Finally, a super group worthy of the "super" moniker.

Profile of a shoplifter. A fashion shoplifter.

So this guy thinks he pinpointed Bin Laden's location. And it isn't Morgan Spurlock!

Hear about that porn stuff that happened during the Super Bowl in Arizona? Here's a detailed look at what happened.

How the current mood of the US (read - gloomy) can affect us all.

A guy finds an abandoned caravan in the woods. Or so he thought.

While I hate Miracle Whip, this is a cautionary marketing tale for businesses – especially in this current economy.

How to make the delicious salty/sweet treat kettle corn.

Shadowing a model during New York's Fashion Week.

How the economic crash might affect us in the future.

The positives of Grand Theft Auto.

Micropayments is the idea that people will pay a small amount of money to download something. Buying music from Itunes is a adequate example. With the newspaper industry on its last legs, there’s support to try this model with papers. Here’s a prediction on whether it could work or not.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My Favorite Music of 2008 (Part II: The Songs and the Concerts)

Quibble with my choices for favorite songs if you will.  But compared to the Billboard Top 10, I can guarantee you, our readers the following:

  • 30% less Chris Brown
  • 145% more guitars
  • An overlap of only one song


Christ, that’s a shitty Top 10.  It’s almost entirely slow/mid-tempo R&B ballads.  No wonder Chris Brown went all Ike Turner .  He had to be all backed up with rage from singing such dreck. 

Let’s see if I can do better...

As with the Top Albums article, eligibility was independently determined via the iTunes Year field.  I sometimes struggle trying to put into words exactly why I love certain songs or artists.  It’s usually much more of a gut reaction.  So of course, this will be another lengthy, wordy post about my favorite songs.  At least there’s lots of A/V goodness. 

Just about all the music I list here can be found in an Amazon aStore I created.  So help a brother out, would ya?


The Top 10 Songs

10. Old 97s - “Dance With Me

Love the surf guitar-propelled urgency and the insistent lyrics demanding to know if someone…

Wants. To. Dance. With. Me.  Tell me now, or I’m gonna be setting up camp a certain distance from you.  That distance would be the distance as defined by the restraining order plus a foot or two.

Ah, that felt good.  Here’s a live clip of the song and a bonus performance of “Doreen”.

9. Two Cow Garage - ”Skinny Legged Girl

It was a tough choice between this and “Bastards & Bridesmaids”, but I love the internal math of this one. The protagonist is counting up the “drunken Bukowski ramblings” he’s written a girl he’s fallen for.  Hard.  Against his better judgments.  The verses establish the intensity and the chorus releases that tension with a pent-up burst  of angry, rueful acknowledgement.

I’ll spare you from posting the vid of the kid rocking out on stage again. Instead you get a brief clip of some poor bastard getting hen-pecked at an exceedingly early age.  Feel free to use this as litmus test for your current relationship.  If it seems familiar AT ALL, run fast and run long from her emotionally needy grasp.

8. The Streets - “The Escapist

This song has had a strong grip on me since I first heard it.  The lyrics and delivery are standard-issue Mike Skinner, which is not a bad thing.  But I want to live inside the persistently world-weary, yet optimistic hooks.

Here’s the video for the song, which is a good match for its tone.  It documents his alleged 770 mile walk from England to France.

7. DJ Khaled - “Go Hard” 

I discovered this guy via Hip-Hop Nation on Sirius with “I’m So Hood”.  This fantastic slice of hip-hop braggadocio (redundant?) tops it.  T-Pain vocoders the chorus, while Kanye uses a fully human voice to mix some silliness with the bravado.  He even name-checks Dubya.  And Khaled’s beats are almost as good as his shout-out intro.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the filming of the video for this song.  For some reason, it’s hosted by an awkward Asian jewelry magnate

6. My Morning Jacket - “Aluminum Park

This one just leaps off the album.  Unlike some of their anthemic efforts which would take a while to get into 5th gear, this one has 2 speeds.  Breakneck and hellzapoppin’.

I regret not having seen them live this past year, because I keep envisioning this one being played in a windy, sun-splashed outdoor amphitheater.  Also in this vision, I’m a fireman/astronaut.  This clip from Bonnaroo will have to hold me over till I see them next:

5. Jenny Lewis - “Acid Tongue

Simple.  Beautiful.  Breathtaking.

But enough about my ass.  This song’s pretty good too.

4. She & Him - “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?

There’s a lot of things going on in this perfect little nouveaux-retro slice of pop.  I love Zooey Deschanel’s vocals and the production keeps things interesting from the first note to the last.  Just perfect.

As cute as Miss Deschanel is (which would be significantly more than a bug, slightly less than that of a button), she desperately  needs to work on her stage presence.  I’ve seen more energy and movement at a Teddy Pendergrass show.


3. Felice Brothers - “Love Me Tenderly

They set aside the noirish elements pervasive throughout the rest of the album for a wordy, whimsical grab bag of visuals that I *think* is a love song.  If so, it’s probably the first where the lead singer breaks character to name-check the piano player.  Either way, it’s the musical equivalent of that elusive hop in your step.

“A bottle of scotch… <cough> a dime sack and a diamond watch… wouldn’t you like that?"

A bottle of gin… a typewriter and a violin… wouldn’t you like that?”

Here’s a live take on it:

2. Flo Rida (f. T. Pain) - “Low

It’s the one song from 2008 guaranteed to increase the indigenous population of the sovereign nation of Dancefloorvania.  The genius of the song, beyond the beats, hooks, and Mr. Rida's rapid-fire delivery, is that it’s basically an invitation for everyone within earshot to reenact its nightclub narrative lyrics. 

Here’s some guy cwalking to “Low”.  After 20-30 seconds of hardcore Internet research that apparently “cwalking” is short for “Crip-walking”, popularized in the early 70s by LA street gangs.  Apparently this is so threatening to Whitey that MTV has banned any videos that depict it.  Luckily, MTV doesn’t control YouTube:

1. Hold Steady - “Slapped Actress

This was actually a pretty easy choice.  It’s been my favorite song off of Stay Positive from the first spin.

This song has so many twists and turns, you could make a pretty good mini-series from it.  The bombastic guitar & piano intro sets the stage for the drama & glory to come.  There’s lots of name-checking, both the familiar (“don’t tell them Ybor City almost killed us again…”) and the awesomely retro change of pace (“I’ll be Ben Gazzara, you be Gena Rowlands…”).  The lyrical motif of negative instructions (“don’t tell my family, they’re all wicked strict Christians…”) is a perfect framework for Finn’s wordsmithing.

Around the 3 minute mark, however, a brief intermission is followed by “Sometimes actresses get slapped…”, and things get all kinds of epic.  The lyrics which were very personal in the first half of the song are now much more meta.  Finn seems to be commenting on the his and the band’s role in life:

Some nights, it’s just entertainment, and some other nights, it’s real…

Man, we make our own movies…

At around the 4-minute mark, the “whoa-oh’s kick in”, and they propel the song the rest of the way.  This takes a chorus-less song which doesn’t translate fantastically live and gives the crowd something to sing along with. 

Well played, sirs.


And here’s the Top 10 in all their original glory:

Top 10 Songs of 2008

The Rest of the Best Songs



  1. Marah - “Angels on a Passing Train
  2. Black Kids - “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You
    • I wrote a bit about this song way, way back when.  It still holds up as a good example of why Robert Smith should hook up with The Go Team!.
  3. Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings - “100 Days, 100 Nights
  4. Nick Cave - “Dig Lazarus, Dig!!!
    • He’s always struck me as a too morose to get into, but Cave’s telling of a resurrection from the perspective of the resurrectee really jumps.
  5. Jonatha Brooke - “There’s More True Lovers Than One
    • I loved the Mermaid Avenue projects.  Wherein Billy Bragg & Wilco created songs using some recently discovered handwritten Woody Guthrie lyrics.  Loved it to the point that I hold out hope of some day marrying (or kissing) a woman from California so that “California Stars” could be played at my wedding (or while we kiss, before the police come).  So I was wary of another album that was doing essentially the same thing.  But I’m a big fan of Miss Brooke, and if the rest of the album is as good as this song, hot damn!
  6. Mates of State “My Only Offer
  7. Dolla (f. T. Pain & Tay Dizm) - “Who the Fuck is That?”
    • Got this after hearing it in a Girl Talk song.
  8. Gutter Twins - “Idle Hands
  9. Hayes Carll –“Bad Liver & a Broken Heart
  10. The Whigs – “Right Hand on my Heart
  11. Coconut Records - “West Coast
    • First, Max Fischer.  Now, this slice of pop genius.  If I were Jason Schwartzman, I’d retire, post haste.
  12. Japanese Motors - “Single Fins & Safety Pins
  13. Thao - “Bag of Hammers
  14. King Khan & The Shrines - “Torture

The Top 5 Concerts (in no discernible order)

5/20 The Swell Season @ The Tower in Upper Darby, PA

I splurged on some not-cheap tickets and made a rare trip to the Tower to see the duo (Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová) from my favorite movie of 2007 (“Once”) on a full band tour.

It’s a credit to the singers, the songs, and their performances that I enjoyed the show as much as I did.  The emotions that night were of the mixed variety, since “Once” was a shared discovery with a girl who had taken a rusty cleaver to my heart about a month prior.  We even had plans to attend this show together. 

But as the night progressed, the beautiful and the harmonic won over the ugly and the bitter.

They closed with a cover of an old Irish song (“The Auld Triangle”).  The crowd sing-along is cliché, but with the entire Tower audience singing along to a mournful Irish dirge (the best kind), I left there with an uplift in my heart region.

So apparently in Wisconsin, a middle school choir got to sing a few songs with them.  Here’s a Pixies cover which gets all “Another Brick in The Wall” with their children of the corn vocals:

And just because I love this song:

6/8 The Felice Brothers @ Drew's House Concert in Ringwood, NJ

Drew Eckman hosts house concerts at his house on beautiful Lake Cupsaw.  It’s a hike to get there (2+ hours), so I don’t go as often as I’d like.  I’ve seen Marah there a couple of times.

This was the first time I had seen The Felice Brothers while knowing their songs, and it was just incredible. I sat on a couch about 2 feet away from them. They plowed through a bunch of their stuff as well as a few old blues covers.  I was pretty much addicted after this show.

I took a few vids, and here's one of them.  All of them can be accessed here.


6/21 ellipsis @ The Cline Compound in Media, PA

Inspired by people like Drew, I hosted my first (and so far only) house concert at my palatial Delaware County estate.  All the servants were polished to a high shine.

ellipsis is a folk/pop trio comprised of 3 Swarthmore grads and friends of mine.  Vale Jokisch’s drawn-butter baritone is accompanied by Joel Price on mandolin/violin/vocals and Matt Murphy on guitar/vocals.  

To have good friends play fantastic music in my house was enough to stir some sentimentality on my part. I reveled in the fact that those notes and the memories had become part of my house’s history.

There was some terribly lit video, which got all classy and intellectual when it was converted to B&W.  I need to upload a bunch of it, but here is a cover of Old Crow Medicine Show’s Wagon Wheel:

ellipsis House Concert - "Wagon Wheel (OCMS)" (13 of 18) from Chris Cline on Vimeo


6/27 The Hold Steady @ Ram's Head Live in Baltimore, MD

This was the first time seeing them do their new stuff, and also the first time I had seen them in a while.  RHL is a pretty cool venue.  Big and open with several levels of railings, it reminded me of that bar in Cocktail where Cruise read his awesome poetry.

The crowd was hot, the beer flowed, the company was excellent, and it all made for a fantastic evening.

11/8 The Hold Steady/Drive-By Truckers @ The Electric Factory in Philadelphia, PA

I wrote about this one at length already, so I’ll keep it brief.  It’s rare when 2 of your tip-top favorite bands do a show together.  It’s even rarer to have bands with such disparate musical styles (though they do share musical attitudes) find the vibe these 2 acts did that night in Philly.

The Rest of the Best

  • 1/26 Social Distortion @ House of Blues in Vegas
  • 4/11 Felice Brothers @ FU Church Chapel in Philly
  • 6/5 Rilo Kiley @EFactory in Philly
  • 6/17 Centro-Matic @ Johnny Brenda's in Philly
  • 7/31 Old 97s @ Bottle and Cork in Dewey
  • 11/7 NYC – Various jazz musicians @St. Nick’s Pub in Some Part of NYC North of Harlem

The Rest of the Rest

  • 6/24 Slo Mo @ Some Town Center in Exton, PA
  • 7/12 Ellipsis @ A Pig Roast in Pipersville, PA
  • 7/12 O'Death @ The Fire in Philly
  • 7/29 Spiritualized @ TLA in Philly
  • 8/12 Lucero @ North Star in Philly
  • 8/29 THS/Sonic Youth @ TLA in Philly
  • 9/18 OCMS @ EFactory in Philly
  • 9/18 Adam & Dave’s Bloodline @ M Room in Philly
  • 9/21 DBT/Avett Brothers @ Pier 6 in Baltimore
  • 10/2 Felice Brothers @ FU Church in Philly
  • 10/9 Girl Talk @ Starlight Ballroom in Philly
  • 11/6 Gutter Twins @ Warsaw in Brooklyn
  • 11/7 DBT/THS @ Terminal 5 in NYC
  • 12/5 Philly - Caithlin Desmarrais @FU Chapel

What I’m looking forward to in 2009

  • Andrew Bird - “Noble Beast”
    • I picked this up recently, and beyond the first track and single (“Oh No”), it hasn’t really grabbed me much.  Out now.
  • Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – “Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit”
    • His second solo album, though his first billed with his backing band.  Curious as hell in what direction he goes with this.  Comes out 2/17.
  • Booker T. - “Potato Hole”
    • With some help from the Drive-By Truckers & Neil Young, this is the most intriguing project I’ve heard about for 2009.  Comes out 4/9.
  • Neko Case - “Middle Cyclone”
    • Have only heard the first track (“People Got a Lot of Nerve”), but dig it despite her copping lyrical conceits (“killer whales”) from The Hold Steady.   Comes out 3/3
  • Sleater-Kinney Reunion, New Album, and Tour
    • I can dream, right?
  • Slobberbone plays a reunion show outside of Texas, within driving distance.
    • Still dreaming, but less impossible than the S-K reunion.