Monday, August 31, 2009

Links of Interest 8/31



Crazy time lapse video of the smoke from the forest fires outside of L.A.

You never like to hear about stuff like this. There has to be a way to tweak the current system to ensure there aren’t any questions left after an execution.

Pirates and the Antarctic? I’m in.

A fairly morbid playlist to get you going this Monday.

If you’re ever at Quizzo, and you have no ethical code to not cheat, and the question is how many people are currently in space, this is the website for you.

Speaking of space, here’s a slideshow of projects NASA gave up on.

Talking with author Neil Gaiman.

David Cross has a new book out, and he’s speaking to Time about it.

Remember the scene is Casino Royale where Bond is chasing the guy and there literally running up the side of buildings and jumping all around? It’s actually a sport called parkour. Here’s a video showing people doing it in New York.

Looking back through the history of Addidas sneakers.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Best Tweets of the week 8/21 - 8/28

Every week I go back and post my favorite tweets I got during the preceding week. Want to be included in the lunacy? Follow me and be funny, interesting, or threatening! As always, here are the rules:

  • I skew toward the amusing
  • I won't publicize anyone's stuff if they are locked unless they give me permission (the KChop rule)
  • @ replies rarely get on here unless their self explanatory and don't need set up
  • I do love me the setup and punchline stuff, but if they span over multiple tweets, I'm not inclined to include them.
  • Diplo is immune to any of these rules (and now so is Yoko Ono).

Ok, let's go to the tweets...



debenham I just saw the World's Biggest Horsefly outside my window. Or at least that's what his t-shirt said.

FriedWords I bet the hardest part about the Kool Aid guy busting through your wall is later having to show all the grown-ups where he touched you.

FartSandwich "I need a second job," exclaimed coworker. "How about a handjob?" I asked. ...and that's how we all got fired, I'll say, to my grandkids.

Jim_Hamilton Note says hot water out Thursday at 10. Turns out they meant Friday at 9. There is a smelly tenant uprising brewing.

PFTompkins Heading to the wedding of dear friends in Massachusetts. Via train. You know what that means-- *sigh*-- there's sure to be a murder mystery.

PFTompkins MURDER TRAIN UPDATE: Thought I discovered a corpse in the bar car; turns out standard-issue Acela scarecrow had fallen over.

Jim_Hamilton When I hear someone laugh at work, I wonder if they really work at the same place as me.

designbuff So I'm thinking of pickling some stuff this weekend…I'll start with my liver.

muchty 4pm on a Friday is the cute girl you dump when her hot sister turns up an hour later.

davio1962 Thought of learning to sell real estate, but the market is horrible. Now learning to sell surreal estate, and the market is unbelievable.

usedwigs breakfast at Ikea, quite tasty (no allen wrenches required)

FartSandwich Just remember, folks, your car runs on dinosaur juice. In the future, robots will run off people juice. Baby juice will be the sweetest.

sherriva Driving through West Virginia and I see the cutest little crystal meth looking towns. So quaint.

wood Does anyone actually read the public timeline? Because honestly it's like trying to have a conversation with a tinfoil hatted hobo.

GodAwfulBastard I don't want to make an idiot out of myself at this wedding. What's the most polite way to get the bride's number?

mhglover Oranges then beer, you're in the clear. Beer then oranges, you've made a terrible choice in your rhyming proverb composition.

slag_mag I don't know how many times I've told my 8 year-old that her Bloody Mary needs more pepper. She just abhors constructive criticism.

FriedWords Have to say I'm really disappointed in this home vasectomy kit. The directions are all in Spanish & this hammer they included looks used.

xrayedman My dying wish is to hang with Russell Crowe. We could get drunk and get laid and he could teach me to speak Australian. It would be awesome

therealcherilyn first day of school tomorrow. thank god. now my kid can pretend to do homework while watching tv instead of just watching tv.

WadetoBlack On Aug. 31, DirecTV will no longer broadcast the Versus channel. Now how am I supposed to not watch hockey this year?

hotdogsladies I suspect some of every cop's confident charm comes from knowing he can beat you with a stick until you agree he's confident and charming.

Rayke Getting emotional over demoting my Ghostbusters tshirt to an undershirt. This is why I wake up next to a pool of tears and vomit everyday.

RexHuppke In retrospect, "I'm the king of mutha fuckin' Skeeball, bitches!" may not have been age-appropriate for the Chuck E. Cheese crowd.

CranberryPerson MARRIAGE TIP: If your kids are going away for a week starting Monday, you make DAMN SURE your sexiest sweatpants get laundered on Sunday.

DoucheLarue what if brett favre had an evil twin named rhett stavre and he was the one that kept retiring. it would give a whole new angle to the story.

FartSandwich I just got asked if I was old enough to buy a lottery ticket by the cashier. Sang all of Sussudio to prove it. Got my ticket, lost my pride.

CourtneyReimer I had a little lamb last night. So far the only one singing about it is my stomach.

nottjmiller I don't know what's worse. The smell of mcdonalds or the smell of the people that eat at mcdonalds. The proletariat.

morgan_murphy excedrin rapid release gel caps are the greatest discovery of my 20's (the sunken pirate ship I found off the coast of Bali falls to #2)

yokoono Plant a conceptual seed of love and peace in the minds of people. It will grow into a tree of love and peace in each person's heart.

JephKelley Bought a candy bar for 95 cents. Paid with a buck. Walking out, cashier asks if I wanted my nickel back. I refused because that band sucks.

davio1962 Looking to start my first off-shore bank account. Financial constraints currently limit me to a bag of nickels and some arm floaties.

slag_mag Madoff's mistress says he's a "terrific" kisser, which is terrible timing because HE'S IN PRISON RIGHT NOW FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!

therealcherilyn i had a dream that i shot my neighbor. oh wait, that wasn't dream. related: i shot my neighbor.

diplo Stockholm is full of spooky energy and xenophobia .. late night empty streets in the summer- I wanna see bikini team not falafal shop fightz

tollehaus Do whales get sick too? You know, when they people watch?

xrayedman Went snipe hunting and finally bagged one. It looks like the neighbor's poodle. Oh well, even if I'm wrong this is a win- win situation.

BlueLanugo I bet camping sucks for clowns. The tent must seem so tiny when compared to that giant circus tent. And also bears find clowns delicious.

trumpetcake If cookies were horses, fatties like me would eat horses. Good God it would be horrible. I'm so glad cookies aren't horses.

CourtneyReimer I wish I could warn the toilet of the guy who just passed me gulping a half-gallon jug of water.

hotdogsladies Ellie's realized she can use her baby monitor as an intercom; now, @madmann and I are butlers for a small, insane person with a megaphone.

nhmagpie I always get this mixed up. After which holiday is it a fashion no-no to wear a white bikini to the office?

hotdogsladies A bad analogy is like a dildo made of peanuts; it's confusing, offensive, and very dangerous for people with allergies.

CranberryPerson ALWAYS keep a spare suit and tie in your office. You never know when a quick change will allow you to sneak back in line for free ice cream.

kolchak Pretty sure my cat just did the Nazi salute. This explains why my copy of "Schindler's List" was all chewed up.

hotdogsladies Today's fashion-forward teen enjoys an empowering range of options—from "sad hooker on her way to work" to "sad hooker on laundry day."

DougBeatty Forgot how awful Jaws 3 ending is. Imagine Rocky, but replace Philly, Sly, and triumph w/ SeaWorld, Quaid, and relief that movie is over.

xrayedman Sitting in highschool carpool line. Some of these moms look like they know their way around the stripper pole.

davio1962 Tonight’s Fortune Cookie: Life is a hopeless, dark mass of despair. Your Lucky Numbers Are: 2, 6, 11, 19, 35

amynicole21 One week into being a non-smoker, and my sense of smell is returning. Related: People are gross, and you all stink.

Aimee_B_Loved My parents' house is pretty much a soup kitchen for my sister and I. We go there for a warm meal.

FriedWords Humidity smothers my fear. The stench of rotting flesh & vegetation fills the air. I'm prepared to die. Washing these dishes is my Vietnam.

adamisacson If life were more like "New Yorker" cartoons, today I could be getting paid to sit behind a huge, empty desk and be a prick to everybody.

Dianneamus I want to be reincarnated as one of the mirrors in the Ambercrombie & Fitch dressing rooms. I bet they've seen some interesing things.

diplo still in sweden about to get meatballs and breakdance in the street less gooo! warning!

debihope My bologna has a first name, it's "General Tso chicken".

Caissie Dear woman in front of me, Making the deli guy toss only loose corn with Romaine at the salad bar is humiliating for all of us. Go with God.

thomaslennon New tattoo I'm getting 10 inches high across my abs: DAME JUDI DENCH FAN 4 LIFE.

randomleopard my living room is a crimescene of breastmilk. well, at least the baby is growing.

michaelianblack I feel like they're overselling any dessert that has the word "jubilee" in it.

Links of Interest 8/28

Revisiting Hurricane Katrina.

How safe does the government make us on planes?

Probably at least a little safer than travelers were in the 70s.

Watch the Little League World Series – you never know when you might see the players again.

For all you budding alcoholics out there – a guide to drinking at work.

Why are we so aroused by Craigslist’s Missed Connections?

The people behind the Nigerian email scams.

And you all thought the yo yo was done.

Best original movie scores.

A planet that shouldn’t exist but does.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Links of Interest 8/27

G.I. Joe and the American Army.

Interview with Ang Lee.

Awesome astronomy photo taken from Sequoia National Park.

This is a lot of detailed information about the Hutts from Star Wars.

The Conversation has a really cool opening shot.

An article questioning why we work so hard. I always wondered what is the obsession is some people have working for other people other than the inner drive to excel. I’d rather turn that drive however into a hobby or something.

How Craigslist defeated the once mighty eBay.

A playlist of Tarantino and the music he chooses for his films.

If you like maps, you’ll want to click here.

I have no idea what the idea for this website is, or what the ultimate goal is, or anything really about it. Still, I found it strangely hypnotic to watch it gather data. And what I did learn is that there are a lot of people out there with my name that are a lot more accomplished than me.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rock out with the 70s!



Radiohead is obviously the face of genius music. I'm not here to argue that. U2 is slowly kicking and screaming their music in sold out arenas, and I'm not about to criticize them. Pearl Jam quietly nabbed the elder statesman, tied him up, threw him in a closet, and took over his duties. I'm not one to question their behavior. All these bands are successful, critically acclaimed (occasionally) and play to their fans. And they should.

But don't you ever find it all a bunch of pussy music sometimes?



I'm not talking specifically about these bands either, because I know they rock and can get a sea of people to waver their hands in the air and "move as one" to their music. I'm talking more about the state of music in general. Emotional rock and roll seems to be sitting at the end of the music table desperately trying to hear the conversation the other genres are having, straining its ears but only catching bits and pieces. Sure, occasionally it will speak up, and the others will lend a polite ear, but for the most part it's left alone to wallow in its boiler makers, remembering the old times.

And that's a shame.

Because it used to be that roaring guitars, smacked, machine gun drums and screaming singers ruled the roost. I'm of course talking about good old fashioned 70s hard rock and roll. Back when picking up instruments and playing a gig at night meant coke and blow jobs. Back when the music meant something other than a simple paycheck.

Of course, I certainly am by no means an expert on this genre of music. So I went to the round table of experts. A group I can't name here for fear of wiretaps. A gang of guys that don't have nicknames; they have aliases. A bunch that have listened to Jethro Tull's Thick as a Brick n its entirety...more than once.

So please, think of this as a time machine that can only go back 35 years or so, back to a time when you played music to get over the fact that you weren't gonna get laid.



Whaat did I miss? Include that I shouldn't have? Let me know in the comments below.

Links of Interest 8/26



Interview with Patton Oswalt.

The Chinese view Ikea slightly different than us. Slightly.

Well, I’m never one to shy away from something that makes Cal Ripken Jr. look bad.

Will the UFC lose popularity because it didn’t sign Fedor?

6.7 billion of us can certainly make a mess.

You think your boss is bad? Couldn’t possibly be as bad as these.

A look at the peak oil theory.

Cool animation of how the international space station came together.

If you’re into architecture and cool buildings, this is for you.

Tall roller coasters
. In fact, these are the tallest roller coasters in the world.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Links of Interest 8/25



(Note: Usually, the video I include has at least some tenuous connection to a link I put up. Today's has no such connection. It is just too awesome to pass up. You're welcome.)

Bad albums by good bands.

Dave Sedaris’ take on Australia.

Barry Sonnenfeld’s favorite tv theme songs. Not nearly as good as these of course.

Get your learn on about indie rock.

I read this article and the headline is a little misleading – it suggests Craigslist is antiquated, and yet the article is more about what drives Craigslist. I think Wired also stumbles a little by following the Craigslist article with an article about how lo-fi technology can be extremely successful in the marketplace – something Craigslist seems to embrace.

Yes, Apple does occasionally make mistakes.

Cocaine bars
. In Bolivia. What could possibly go wrong?

The mp3 changed history. Or created it. I guess it’s not possible to change history without a time machine.

A meaty dessert.

Want better mozzarella? Make your buffaloes happy.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Links of Interest 8/24

What would you be willing to sacrifice in the name of environmentalism?

Places you don’t want your kids getting an education.

Erupting volcanoes – seen from space.

Marketing a movie is harder than it looks. Allegedly. I might suggest it isn’t, it’s just that movie marketers are idiots.

Don’t believe the hype – hacking can get you in trouble.

Migraine headaches lead to some bizarre typing.

Living life on the edge.

I’m having a very difficult time believing this is real. Though even if it’s fake, it’s brilliant. And if it is legit? I might move to Cleveland just for the news coverage.

Awesome protest signs.

Though I’m afraid of the impending apocalypse, I’m not afraid it will happen like these.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tilting at Ivory Windmills

  1. Running a 4-minute mile.
  2. Breaking the sound barrier.
  3. Laughing out loud at a Jay Leno monologue.

These accomplishments once thought impossible, were achieved by preternaturally driven individuals who kept their feet on the ground and their arms outstretched starward.

Now another such individual has reared her head from the swamps of mediocrity we’re all slowly drowning in to utter this proclamation:

“I have come here to chew bubblegum and do impossible things…  And I’m all out of bubblegum.”

When those face-down in the aforementioned swamp made confused sounds and grunt-bubbles, she sighed and clarified:

“I will teach Cline how to play a musical instrument, more specifically, a piano.”

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you…

The Salieri to my Hulce…

The Escalante to my LDP…

The Pfeiffer to my Coolio…

And the lady who puts the “Ho” in “Don Quixote”…

Miss Samantha Wittchen

 

God Has a Decidedly Cruel Sense of Humor

Some examples:

I love being outdoors in the hot summer sun, yet am blessed with a complexion that can best (and charitably) be described as “Brando in Dr. Moreau-esque”. 

I’ve always loved sports and playing them, while Daryl Stingley has mocked me for being slow and uncoordinated.

My passion for music runs deeper than both of those. 

Yet if you’ve seen me do karaoke, you know that I rely almost entirely on over-the-top performances rather than any ability to sing in order to entertain my drunken friends. Even when I sing karaoke with my favorite band, Marah:

 

And since my earliest concert-going days, I’ve had to look out of the corner of my eye to stay in rhythm with the other people clapping.  My internal metronome is almost entirely missing, though I have gotten moderately better at this in recent years.

Curse you, unseen bearded chick in the sky!

Why I Chose to Start This

Despite all those limitations, I have a long-held desire to be able to produce music that is neither comical nor wince-inducing.  It’s a quiet desire as a rule, but that ember occasionally will smolders brightly.

A few years back, a friend even offered to buy me some musical lessons as a birthday present.  I passed, not feeling like I had the time to devote to it. 

But something got me kick-started a few months back.  Not even sure why.  I took the initiative of emailing a few musical friends and asked if they could recommend piano teachers.

Why piano?  Yes, it’s not easy to transport, but you do look slightly less douchy sitting down and banging at the keys, as opposed to pulling out an acoustic guitar.  And I have decent-sized hands, so I figured that could only help.

One of the jazzbos I emailed, Miss Wittchen responded to let me know that besides being a professional harp wrangler, she also taught piano.  Partially to make this more germane to a pop culture blog, and partially to keep myself interested, I told her I wanted to learn a pop song that I loved.  My goal was to find something that would be a “Medium Rare” on the difficulty scale. 

I brainstormed a bit to find the song that would fit the equation and after eschewing a Laurie Anderson performance piece, I settled on R.E.M.’s “Nightswimming”.  It’s a beautiful song with a simple, fairly repetitive melody.  Her initial response was to make sure I knew my place:

I distinctly remember wanting to know how to play that in high school, and I didn't have any music for it, so I sat down and figured it out by ear.

Egoist.

But she was enthusiastic to try out a slightly unorthodox teaching style:

… a blended method of study that involves learning to play by ear plus some fundamental note reading work and a little music theory thrown in. I think it would be more similar to a jazz training than a classical training, which would certainly be fun for me.

There’s that ego again, being asked to help others, but ensuring that her needs are taken care of first. 

All kidding aside, it seemed to me like a great match, since the odds of my short attention span hanging in through a month of music theory and “Chopsticks” were slim and none.

And “slim” just died of pancreatic cancer.

Lesson #1

It took place 8/11 at Miss Wittchen’s elegantly appointed West Philly artist’s retreat.

The lesson focused mostly on the basics, hand position and such.  But true to the hybrid approach outlined above, we worked on the first couple of chords (correct term?) in the song.

It went by fast and she was good about writing down the things I needed to remember and practice.

The only problem was not giggling too loudly every time she said “pianist”.

I felt like I was not just scratching the surface of the world of the piano, but that I hadn’t even got into the cab which would take me to the airport where I would catch a flight to the small town where I would hire a guide to take me to the remote cave where I drop to my knees, shovel through 5 feet of earth, where I could finally see the surface and scratch it.

But I have every intention on seeing this through and then tackling other songs.  Wish me luck.

 

Getting a Piano

Sam recommended that I get a keyboard or piano from Craig’s List to practice on.  I put out the word that I was looking for one among the Twitter/Facebook hive mind.  Almost immediately, my friend Marie said that they were selling her grandmother’s house and getting rid of a baby grand piano.

My original plan was to get something smaller and less ambitious.

But you don’t get a chance to acquire something this beautiful that often.  Once, in Thailand and twice in Burkina Faso, I let objects of similar beauty pass through my fingers.  Never again.

Unless it costs too much to move.  Naively, I figured I could get several of my burly friends to help me move it and do it on the cheap.  But this fucker is as heavy as it is beautiful, kinda like Delta Burke.

So I’m pricing piano movers.  It helps that both the origin and destination are on the first floor and they’re only a few miles apart.  If you know anyone who works cheap and doesn’t resemble a bumbling comic duo or threesome from the golden age of black & white comedy, drop me a line.

 

P1040656

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I hope the movers don’t employ these methods, as cool as they are:

 

I hope they’re more like this:

 

Miss Wittchen's Q&A

I sent her the following questions to answer prior to the first lesson.

1. Give a brief musical bio of yourself.

I began studying piano at the age of 4.  In high school, I decided that I wanted to go to college for music but realized that there were a lot of pianists out there, so the competition was going to be fierce.  I switched my main focus to harp and attended the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, where I studied with Kathleen Bride.  Since returning to PA in 2001, I've played harp with numerous regional orchestras, as well as studio orchestras for such recording artists as Olivia Newton-John and Connie Francis.  I teach piano and harp privately, and I am currently Professional Associate for harp at the University of Pennsylvania.  Along with my sister, mother and Dan Nosheny, a friend from Eastman, I make up the other quarter of The Wittchen Initiative, a musical group that performs an eclectic mix of music for the unique instrumentation of two harps, voice and tuba.

 

2. What were your initial thoughts when I asked you to teach me piano?

I did actually think twice before responding to your inquiry about piano teachers and telling you that I teach piano myself.  However, the main reason was completely unrelated to you, specifically.  I wasn't sure that I had time to take on another student.  But unlike my other students, who are mainly kids, you have the flexibility to take lessons at night, so I figured we could probably work it out.  My other concerns were that you might be uncomfortable taking lessons from someone you know socially and that West Philly would just be too far away to go for lessons.

 

3. Briefly describe your approach to these lessons, and how it might differ from your normal technique.

My approach to these lessons is definitely different than my normal teaching technique, and that's largely because your goals are different from most of my students (again, children).  Adult students also differ from younger students for a number of other reasons, with which I won't bore you by enumerating here.  Basically, for the beginning younger student, there's a well established pedagogical structure for teaching them piano.  The exact path a student takes varies based on which set of method books you use, but having used a range of different methods for different students, I feel like I can safely say that the overall structure is basically the same for the young beginner.  The student progresses through musical concepts and learns pieces of music that demonstrate those concepts.  These songs are often such chart-toppers as "Washday Boogie," "Buckin' Bronco," and the ever-popular "Camel Ride."  For most beginning younger students, their goal--or their parents' goal--is to become proficient at the instrument and play progressively harder music.


For adults, this can also be true, and for the adult with the goal of proficiency, there is also a fairly well-established pedagogical structure.  However, I find that adults are often driven by a more definable end goal (to play a particular song, to play for a specific event, to join a band).  I also find that since adults have often been exposed to more musical genres than children, they frequently have a specific style of music they'd like to learn.  (As a side note, I didn't have any idea that one could actually take lessons in jazz piano, instead of classical piano, until I was a senior in high school.)  Since that's the case here, I don't think a traditional structure will work well.  My plan is to take an approach that uses individuals songs that you're interested in learning as a point of departure to teach more of the fundamentals (note-reading, rhythm, technique), which is essentially the opposite of the established structure for young beginners, which introduces fundamentals and then makes up songs to go with them.
I think ear-training (listening) is going to play a much larger role in this approach, understanding harmony will be more important, and note-reading will follow as a support structure.  (Okay, so that wasn't brief at all.)

 

4. Do you think my non-existent musical skillset will help or hurt with the process?

I don't know.  Sometimes people with no musical training have very good ears, or they're able sing well, or they're really good at patterns or memorization.  And sometimes they're tone-deaf and hopeless.  It remains to be seen which category you'll fall into.  It usually takes a couple lessons to become apparent either way.  And if it turns out you're the latter, at least you can take comfort in the fact that you can still be quite successful if you're tone-deaf and hopeless.  But you might consider changing your name to Kanye first.

 

5. How many lessons do you estimate it will take before I can play a decent version of Nightswimming?

It'll depend on how much you practice.  (How's that for a patented music teacher response?)  I'm going to set the over/under at three.  Let the betting begin. (Cline - If I could have bet my house on the over, I would have.)

 

And these were the questions she answered after the first lesson

 

1. How did the lesson go?

I thought the lesson went well.  I forgot just how many terms there are to explain in order for me just be able to communicate with someone who is a complete musical neophyte.  But I am heartened that you were able to retain and play back for me the right hand melody in the correct rhythm and with the correct notes during the first lesson.

 

2. How uphill a road do I have?

I think your biggest challenge is going to be developing technical proficiency (finger strength and individual finger movement).  The good news is that's pretty much the easiest thing to work on, and the progress you make should be directly proportional to how much time you put towards it.  The second biggest challenge is going to be taking in and remembering all the information I'm going to throw at you relatively rapidly regarding rhythm, note reading, melody and harmony.  It'll be a lot, but it's not impossible, and as long as you take a relaxed attitude towards it, it should be relatively fun, too.

 

3. Would you like to adjust your over/under?

Yes - I'm changing it to 5.  I feel like I don't know which side of that bet I'd take, but I'm pretty sure I'd take the over with 3 at this point.


A 23% Less Goofy Picture of My Teacher

It’s the least I can do.

Correction

The Popcorn Trick’s fact-checking department has just informed me that no one has ever actually laughed out loud at a Leno monologue. Apparently, Eubanks doesn’t count.

Friday, August 21, 2009

What is the defining movie of the 2000s? PART 5: 2004



This is an ongoing series to attempt to figure out what the defining movie of the 2000s is.

Earlier segments...

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4



Let's start with the Academy Award nominees for best picture...

Million Dollar Baby
The Aviator
Finding Neverland
Ray
Sideways

Right off the bat, I don't see a contender in the bunch. Million Dollar Baby arguably went off the rails at the end, sucker punching the audience with its ending and theme. I won't give it away even with the statute of limitations on spoilers long since expired. Let's just say it starts as a boxing movie and ends as a...well not a boxing movie. I give Clint Eastwood all the credit in the world for making the left turn; it's his prerogative obviously, but it's still a pretty big risk in today's world of society demanding more of the same and not rewarding creative risks. (That's an argument and theory that is way too big to get involved in right now.)

I will give Million Dollar Baby a lot of credit for taking Hillary Swank (she of Boys Don't Cry cross dressing fame) and turning her into a knockout (pun fully intended) at the 2004 Oscars. Say what you will about Ms. Swank, but she certainly got in shape for the movie and flaunted it for all it was worth.

The Aviator?
Scorsese's kinda desperate attempt to get an Oscar falls a little flat. A biopic pic about Howard Hughes, the performances are great, but it doesn't feel like a true Scorsese film. It's sad that he didn't win for the films that define his ability and art (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas), though I find it sadder that he did win for the deeply flawed The Departed. Of course, because he did, I have an excuse to post this:



Finding Neverland?
It's about Peter Pan, right? Ok, fine, it's about the dude who wrote Peter Pan, Sandy Duncan. Whatever. If I want some Wheat Thins I'll go to the store and get them myself. No chance this movie is the defining movie of the 2000s.

Ray?
Great performance by Jamie Fox, with a terrible outcome: We now have to deal with Jamie Fox thinking he's a credible singer. So while we got a great tribute to Ray Charles, we also got another auto tune single. I call it a wash.

Sideways

While the beginning of a century obviously is a cliched symbol for birth, growth, beginnings etc., and this film at first glance harbors few of those feelings, I'd argue Sideways is a good candidate for the defining movie of the 2000s. Sideways takes a slightly offbeat look at the conflicting nature of what make males tick, and what makes them attractive to women - all under the guise of being about wine. Great performances and a little deeper than a Lifetime movie, I'm going to add it to the short list. I realize many people have since forgotten about it and it probably doesn't have a shot, but whatever.

So, after a fairly weak 2004 Academy Awards selection, let's head to the mainstream...

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Sure, we all have seen Anchorman so many times we're tired of it; there's a backlash against it (as there is against anything that becomes mainstream popular); we use the many quotable lines from the movie as comedic crushes in our everyday dialog with coworkers at the watercooler. Still, if we can look past the cliched jokes and tiredness of it, and remember back to when it first came out, we can see...it was a moderate hit. Nothing special.



Still...

It obviously gained a lot of traction on cable and DVD, because you can't spend time too many places anymore and not hear it quoted. Pairing the "holy trinity" of Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and Judd Apatow together for the first time, the formula somehow works. Unfortunately for them, they didn't write down the formula and eventually went on to create mediocre films in an attempt to duplicate it. And though Elf and Old School came before it, this movie seemed to the the one that crowned Will Ferrell as the go to guy for comedies (at least for the next few years). So it simply has to be considered as the defining movie of the 2000s.

Kill Bill Vol. 2
I know this is breaking the sequel rule, but I'd argue that this is almost completely different than the first part. I'd also argue that making Kill Bill one long film, with just a few simple edits, and we wouldn't need to debate what the defining movie was - it would be this.

Personally, I enjoy Vol.2 much more than Vol. 1. It feels the more complete part, with a huge payoff at the end - something obviously the first part couldn't accomplish. While it still maintains the violence and vengeance theme, it also introduces regret and whether or not revenge is all it's cracked up to be. The consequences of the characters actions feel more real in this part, and as a result they seem more human.

Napoleon Dynamite
There are two types of people on this Earth: those who enjoyed Napolenon Dynamite, and those who will punch Jon Heder in the face if they ever see him on the street. Ok, so maybe that's a little drastic, but this movie seems to really split the audience apart.

I happen to fall in the latter category; while I'm not going to punch Jon Heder, I really don't understand the love a lot of people have for this movie. I chuckled at the climactic dance scene. Other than that, I feel it's a very mediocre film. (Quick aside - I'm fairly certain every high school variety show has spoofed - or more specifically mimiced - the dance scene from this movie.)

Still, because it causes such a fierce opinion - both positive and negative - I think it needs to be considered and make the short list of candidates for defining movie of the 2000s.

The Passion of the Christ

I wouldn't be a good Catholic if I didn't mention this film here. That I'm not Catholic is beside the point. Whatever your religious beliefs are, you can't deny the media storm and success this film generated. Not about to go into any detail here myself, I'll instead link you to the wikipedia page to read about the controversy surrounding it.

Reading that page, I noticed not only is this film the most successful subtitled film in America, it's also the most successful rated R movie. Such a controversial and yet still successful movie has to be considered as a defining movie, even if it speaks directly to a specific religious group.

Unfortunately, that seems to be it for 2004. Of course, I can't leave the year without taking a gander at some of the other movies of the year...

D.E.B.S.
Apparently, I'm a 14 year old girl somewhat questioning my sexuality. That's the only explanation I can think of why I'd continually watch this movie. Well, there may be another reason...



D.E.B.S. is a very mediocre movie about a training school for women secret agents going after a beautiful lesbian criminal mastermind who falls in love with one of the agents in training.

I mean seriously, how could you not like a film like that?

I'm not sure if it's suggesting female empowerment or female soft core porn, but at the end of the day I'm gonna say I really don't care.

The Day After Tomorrow
One of my "go to" crappy disaster movies. Dennis Quaid pulls off a fatherly feel, and I've always had a soft spot for Sela Ward. And I haven't even gotten to the disaster stuff yet. Super storms, due to, I guess our wanton disregard to the environment, suddenly form and plunge the Earth into another Ice Age within a matter of days. And when I say Ice Age, I mean it. New York freezes over, soon, and with a killer ice cloud on its way, Dennis Quaid has to get there but quick to save his kid, who is burning books in the New York Public Library to stay warm and dodging starving wolves on a Russian(?) cargo ship he has...you know what? Forget it. Just watch it for full cheese, a ridiculous Dick Cheney caricature and Dennis Quaid's partner/friend crash through a glass roof at a mall.

Oh, and to see what will happen if we keep raping the environment at the rate we are.

The Machinist
Not a great movie, but a great performance. Christian Bale, devoted to the role lost something like 250 pounds during the filming. A depressing Fight Club (and that's saying something) about displaced identities and insomnia, The Machinist is nothing too special other than Bale crazily jeopardizing his health for the role. Had he only had the same demotion on Terminator: Rise of the Machines.

Primer
Another sci-fi, though this one slightly more enjoyable, Primer is a mindfuck time travel movie that I'm not sure the writers can follow. Here's a diagram that explains the time travel theory; and here's a diagram that explains all the timeline the movie uses. (Note: If you haven't seen the movie, don't click on the second diagram. Rather, seek the film out first. It's worth it.)

The more amazing feat of this movie, other than creating a feasible, logical (sorta) time travel film, is that the whole thing was shot for $7,000. Trust me, it doesn't look like it was shot for that little. An amazing feat.

So that wraps up 2004. Agree? Disagree? Feel I've missed something? Please let me know in the comments below!

Coming up...2005!

The Best Tweets of the week 8/14 - 8/21

Every week I go back and post my favorite tweets I got during the preceding week. Want to be included in the lunacy? Follow me and be funny, interesting, or threatening! As always, here are the rules:

  • I skew toward the amusing
  • I won't publicize anyone's stuff if they are locked unless they give me permission (the KChop rule)
  • @ replies rarely get on here unless their self explanatory and don't need set up
  • I do love me the setup and punchline stuff, but if they span over multiple tweets, I'm not inclined to include them.
  • Diplo is immune to any of these rules (and now so is Yoko Ono).

Ok, let's go to the tweets...



chucknoritz Use the KISS method she says. Next thing I know I'm sitting with HR. Fucking acronyms. I don't know them all god dammit!

DoucheLarue going to create vick on my version of madden 10'. also i'm putting his dog fighting at a 99 rating to make it more realistic

paulscheer Parents really freak out when you take off your shirt and jump in the children's fountain at the park with their kids.

JonSunderland wait..if I'm anti bush and anti cheney, but now cheney is anti bush, does that make me pro bush? I need a venn diagram...

blaine23 God, I pray these earbuds are quiet enough to make me look like I'm rocking to something more badass than Kelly Clarkson. On repeat.

tj The Wife has been gone for so long, I just got a little excited opening a pita.

artichoked Finally got my "very long wait" copy of Fame from Netflix. Totally worth it since the movie promises the secret to eternal life.

hotdogsladies 4:21pm. Sipping Trader Joe's Jasmine tea and listening to "Deacon Blues," I modified an `.htaccess' file and became the world's whitest man.

mactonnies "District 9" is the best movie about South African space-bugs I've ever seen.

diplo I jus lef the party that's like the party that u hear about on channel 7 news all teens near naked on drugs and two frogs playing loud noise

Jim_Hamilton If your job isn't to make people laugh, you shouldn't look like Zach Galifianakis.

artichoked "I bought you a special present. A life insurance policy." Bad news if you're in a Lifetime movie.

blaine23 Being home with my wife and kid always makes me ponder life's big questions. Like, what is my other secret family in Tampa doing right now?

CNReilly What's more manly - a gun or a holster? I choose a HOLSTER as I use it for my barbecue condiments and accessories. SMASHINGLY BRILLIANT!!

JephKelley Driving behind a logging truck is scary. I'm always afraid they'll transform into a huge evil robot and hurl logs at me. Then laugh at me.

daveholmes Listening to NPR = being in a gay bar: I recognize that these r my people, but I kind of get why people beat us up sometimes

xrayedman Wife is afraid that feds can track her on GPS and cell phone. I told her that unless CIA wants a good pot roast recipe she is should be safe

slag_mag I know that California is in a real budget crisis, but I didn't expect to be able to buy convicts and hunt them for sport at the County Fair

CranberryPerson At the drive-thru distributor, my son asks "why do you need beer?" It's been six years, and he doesn't know me at all.

kolchak Can it make me pancakes? No? Then your smart car is looking like a dumbass, isn't it?

kolchak My horoscope said you're a cunt. In a roundabout way.

keithwade Watching this pitcher almost cry while sucking in the Little League World Series makes me sad...that I'm not the one hitting HRs off him.

DaveHolmes Tonight's unstoppable force/immovable object: my desire to go out vs. my reluctance to put on pants. Let's have a good clean fight, things.

davio1962 My minivan and fist full of $20 bills bring all the undocumented workers to the yard.

blaine23 "Who were the colorful happy black guys who had that song?" This is how my wife asks me who Arrested Development are.

debihope If I was District Attorney, I imagine I'd be jumping up in the courtroom yelling "Liar liar pants on fire" more than they do on Law & Order.

Rayke I thought "hair of the dog" was supposed to cure hangovers, but now I'm vomiting up fur and my dog looks retarded.

morgan_murphy If you're weird enough, every store is a sex toy store.

kolchak Geez. The hookers that hang out in Walgreens are really belligerent. Specifically the ones with the Walgreens nametags.

michaelianblack Celebrating my wife's birthday with red velvet cake. Feeling bad about the fact that I'm eating it with my mistress.

therealcherilyn a normal DRY tennis ball weighs 3 oz. add dog slobber to it and it weighs fucking gross & slimy pounds.

TheMaskedBandit I wanna clear the air once and for all: I would kill a human man for a klondike bar.

hotdogsladies Repeatedly adjusting the way one carries a marlin-sized bag of soiled diapers looks less dignified than it did in one's head.

JephKelley Walking on the beach, I found sea glass in the exact size and shape of a bottle of J├Ągermeister. The contents tasted similar, too.

artichoked As far as 'cations' go, I'd also like to spend a couple of days wallowing in my own filth & agoraphobia on a Greycation.

davio1962 Finally gave in to my son re: cell phone. How long before he realizes that the “calls” he makes are only to the TV to change channels?

CranberryPerson I am so tall that I run like a gazelle. A big fat awkward gazelle with a limp and horrible wheezing problem.

Caissie My legs is covered in bruises after being humped by a 120 lb. Bulldog. But, he could have chosen any lady in the room & he chose ME!

sherriva Wouldn't it be great if we could pick our own illness? I'll be having the laying in bed sleeping for 2 weeks while losing 30lbs illness.

BlueLanugo I'll admit it: That "cuz I am YOUR LAYYYYYYDAAAYY!" song is pretty catchy! Never has picking up cat food at Rite Aid felt so majestic.

diplo http://twitpic.com/eg5fk - Jesus ... My life is like a fuckin cartoon.. I jus got arrested in new jersey

FartSandwich At Red Lobster, every microwaved and fried meal is served with a side of regret. Delicious, delicious, regret.

kolchak I can have rough sex and not spill the wine glass I keep on the corner of the bed. Thanks, tempurpedic!

RexHuppke I think asking zoo volunteers how the different animals taste is hilarious. They do too, but they stifle their laughter with eye rolling.

Caissie Some of the wasabi crackers in my bag were WAY hotter than others. I played wasabi cracker roulette and my mucous membranes lost.

blaine23 Day 3 of the diet is going great! Except I complimented a co-worker on his delicious meaty aroma and licked his elbow. That wasn't so great.

Dianneamus Pro tip: Never under estimate the amount of possible opportunities where you look like a douche.

scharpling Watching LOCKDOWN and praying I never end up in prison - I would take over too fast and the power would go to my head. Oh, and FOT CHAT NOW!

linajk Saw "the house" today. The one we both could love forever. Looking for "the bank" tomorrow. The one we both could rob together.

steveagee Had lunch with the lovely Jon Hamm today at the Mad Men set. I had steak, he just took handsome pills.

CranberryPerson There are few questions a wife can ask a husband that are easier to answer than "Is it ok if I go to the American Idol Concert without you?"

PFTompkins Used some miles to upgrade to business class. And someone here is in the business of wearing an aquariumfull of old lady perfume.

morgan_murphy My right arm is my good arm. My left arm hates Jews and buys art at Z Gallery.

kolchak "Well, he did use Twitter a lot" is a phrase you're going to be hearing on all the murderer documentaries of the future.

CranberryPerson I've done my daily pushups and crunches every day this week except for the ones not named Tuesday, and I didn't do the pushups. Still sore.

CourtneyReimer Best cure for insomnia: other people's stories about the dream they had last night.

keithwade Jonas Brothers are in town tonight. I better take my sunglasses & hat with me when I go outside. Do NOT want to get mistaken for them again.

Links of Interest 8/21

That Andrew Wyeth sure was sneaky.

Pitchfork begins to release their top 500 songs of the decade.

I disagree with many of these, but we all know lists are subjective so…

Would the designs in Star Wars really have worked or been practical?

Anyone super excited for James Cameron’s latest film Avatar?

More on the art of the cover song, along with a huge list.

Be careful being on the Facebook, kids.

Revisit your childhood by reading about these simple childhood games. Though we always called “Spud,” “Baby in the Air,” most likely because it sounded more violent.

Author David Sedaris gives us a music playlist and then explains why.

No Steve Sanders? No Ralph Macchio? This list is incomplete.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Links of Interest 8/20



A list of bad ass motorcycle gangs.

Thomas Pynchon’s latest, Inherent Vice, is reviewed.

Interview with the guy who made Police Academy 2 what it is today, Bobcat Goldthwait.

An appreciation of Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue.

This guy is a hardwired Constitutionalist. If you share similar views, you will enjoy this article on how to fly without ID.

Jeremy Piven answers 10 questions for Time.

MTV talks to Brad Pitt and Quentin Tarantino about time travel. Or rather, Inglourious Basterds.

I’m including this link simply for the excuse to now include a clip of the awesome television show that is Small Wonder.

The rapid extinction of the land line.

Not enough people appreciate Pinball. Well I’m here to change that, by linking to this!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Links of Interest 8/19

I am intrigued by the Slow Food Movement.

Oliver Stone and his new series, the Secret History of America.

Why movie execs are stupid. Ok, one reason why movie execs are stupid. And the reason why creative types want to strangle them. Ok, one reason why creative types want to strangle them.

Some rare Star Wars photos you probably haven’t seen.

The dangers of common foods found in your house.

Wanna see the Milky Way? Check out this photo at the Badlands.

The C.I.A. and secret jails.

Alright, Jeff Goldblum!

Worst album titles of 2009?

If you’re a Top Chef fan, you’ll enjoy this feature catching up with former contestants.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Links of Interest 8/18



A look at upcoming movies.

Interview with Eli Roth.

Guy watches Big Trouble in Little China for the first time.

A serious look (by The Atlantic!) of Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds.

What would you do if you weren’t allowed to eat?

Appropriate material with the recent Vick signing, a look into dog fighting.

Track hate groups in the United States.

A look at what Tarantino suggests are his favorite movies of the last 25 years or so.

A look at Hollywood’s worst blockbusters.

I’m not going to lie, I’m fascinated by secret menus. Did you know Taco Bell has one?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Podcast 11.000 – 70% Less Structure, 150% More Rambling

Once upon a time, The Popcorn Trick was nothing more than a frisky little kernel, yearning for the heat that would cause it to explode in flavor and happily die an artificial-butter-flavor-induced death in the mouth of some guy way too old to be watching Twilight for the 5th time.

That kernel had not yet dared to dream of a day when it would sponsor house concerts or be a vehicle for strangers to tell Goose that he’s an idiot.

No, that kernel was borderline adequate at one thing and one thing only: 

Podcasting.

Like McLean Stevenson and Phil Spector before us, we had forsaken that which had elevated us to the upper-lower echelon of show business in the first place.

But that could not and will not stand. 

Is Acid Podcasting Considered a Full-Blown Genre Yet?

It is now.  With our previous 10 podcasts, we had a fairly rigid format with an intro, and outro, and 3-4 segments that were decidedly about something.

Because of the nearly 9-month hiatus, we had a large backlog of things to discuss, so we just started skiffing and broke it up into segments when discussion of a topic naturally came to an end.  It felt good.

Can we do this with every podcast?  If we wait 9 months, sure.

Let us know what you think about the new format, good or bad.

We Will Try To Reduce, If Not Eliminate, The Poor Audio Quality That Makes It Sound Like We Are Broadcasting From Within An Airplane Hangar

We promise.

Audio-Visual Ephemera

Links:

  1. Twitter
    • ThePopcornTrick (Updated every time we post something to the Blog or Podcast)
    • TheCline (personal ramblings)
    • Goose (personal ramblings and frittata recipes)
  2. Vegas
    • In anticipation of our April 2010 Bender in the city that truly doesn’t sleep, here’s an article I wrote about some of my favorite and out-of-the-way places in Vegas to get your drink/bingo/stripper/buffet/leprechaun ON.
  3. I’m a Crappy Contest, Get Me Out of Here
    • Here’s a recap of the brief time I spent as part of this wretched contest.
  4. YouTubing in Public
    • See my shirt-winning entry and hear more about my adventures in the madcap world of YouTube bar contests in this post.
  5. Reverend Cline
    1. 2 of my friends foolishly chose me to marry them.  30 seconds on the Universal Life Church web site, and blammo, I was ordained.  I’d post some pics, but am still waiting for them to be posted by people lazier than I.
    2. I will post the 2 readings that the couple chose.  Keep in mind that the second one was read by someone doing an impersonation of the groom doing an impersonation of Jerry Seinfeld, which devolved during the reading into a Harry Carey homage.
      1. Pablo Neruda -

        I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride; so I love you because I know no other way  than this: Where “I” does not exist, nor “You”, so close that your hand on my chest is my hand, so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep."
      2. Jerome Seinfeld -

        "The idea behind the tuxedo is the woman's point of view that men are all the same, so we might as well dress them that way. That's why a wedding is like the joining together of a beautiful, glowing bride and some guy. The tuxedo is a wedding safety device, created by women because they know that men are undependable. So in case the groom chickens out, everybody just takes one step over, and she marries the next guy."

Video

When I think of Brosnan in Volcano, I immediately think of the Backstreet Boys:

King Khan & the Shrines (aka the intro music)

A little old-time comedy:

Our award-winning film, Get ‘em McGettigan!

Given the opportunity, hopefully we’ll live up to JVCD’s example of how to be interviewed at Cannes:

Our spit takes will be way better than these guys, though maybe not as physically attractive:

 

Some of the movies we mentioned:

Sean Bean makes a cameo on a British sitcom:

“You heard me, Coltrane”