Monday, January 31, 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

Boogie Boardin' Ingenuity

Ok, this is awesome, and I want to try it, but I don't see myself getting out to Hawaii anytime soon. So could someone give me about 1000 square feet of put together trash bags for me?

Interpretive Dance to Whitney Houston

It's a shame that most of us would never do this because we'd feel too embarrassed. Bless this older couple for having some fun at the Pyramid Lounge, with Time Machine, the 80s cover band with the awesome bassist (seriously, keep your eye on him in the beginning).

Lego Weapons

We're about 5 years away from someone robbing a bank with Legos...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Destruction By Water

Crazy video showing the flooding of the Sandy River in Oregon earlier this year. Mesmerizing, hypnotizing and haunting, this video should make you feel how insignificant we really are when it comes to nature.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New HBO Movie: The Sunset Limited

Though movies with a single set and 1-2 actors can be tricky to pull off, especially in this Requiem for a Dream editing world we live in and demand, I have high hopes for The Sunset Limited.

It doesn't hurt that it has Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson spouting the words of Cormac McCarthy.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

F/M/K Will Never Get Old

Before today, I had never heard about the column, Sophie's Choice on the Hairpin. Shockingly, I had never been to the Hairpin before. That's not an indictment on me being a male and having an aversion to female-centric blogs, it has more to do with, by my count, there are over 16 blogs on the Internet - way too many for me to individually visit. And, while I surf the 'net at least 18 hours a day, some content is going to slip through the cracks.

Anyway, the Sophie's Choice column, written by Julie Klausner and Natasha Vargas-Cooper, two successful authors with books (not sure I needed to add the "with books" there, but I'm going with it for now), takes 3 famous people with a similar thread, and analytically breaks down who you would "fuck, marry and kill."

Fuck, Marry, Kill is a great parlor game (seriously my aunt actually has a parlor, and boy did the atmosphere of that room enhance gaming), for people to break out at parties, taking turns inserting attractive and unattractive celebrities and struggling over the hypothetical (hopefully) actions you would take with each.

In one of their columns, the two authors take Bill Murray, Steve Martin and Chevy Chase to task. Three men I would probably say at one time or another in my life I would consider to have idol status. Now, I won't divulge their conclusions and reasoning, because you should read it for yourself. It's worth it.

But I did think it was interesting enough for me to reason out within my psyche.

Many people, I believe would start right off the bat and tag Bill Murray with the "marry" label. He's the bee's knees for a lot of people right now, with his off-kilter, non-conformist approach to the way he handles himself. He also is a critics' darling and seemingly picks his roles based on what he wants to do, which goes against what we think normal Hollywood stars and actors do. (To tell the truth, I have no expertise on how stars pick their roles!) So choosing "marry" for Bill Murray certainly wouldn't get you strange looks in the parlor, and would probably receive a lot of agreement.

The same might also be said for "killing" Chevy Chase. Minus his recent semi-resurgence with his casting on NBC's Community, his career trajectory looks almost like the opposite of Bill Murray's. Failed late night shows and bizarre, brash behavior over the years, doesn't help his cause.

And what about Steve Martin? His career has EKG'ed the last 30 years, taking bizarre turns through novels, plays and, most recently, art collecting. His movie The Jerk is considered a classic, but after that what are his huge movie roles? Planes, Trains and Automobiles? Great, yes, but how much of that greatness is shouldered by the late, great John Candy?

Roxanne? A nice little romantic comedy that men can get behind because of Mr. Martin's performance, but no one is going to defend it from being labeled a chick flick.

My Blue Heaven? Again, a great role for Mr. Martin (playing a mob guy? I thought he was brilliant) but again, not the huge, generation defining title a movie like Caddyshack or National Lampoon's Vacation is.

Uh oh. This is a little trickier than I first thought.

The Decision

Ok, right off the bat. I'm going to say I fuck Bill Murray. The more I think about it, the more he seems the perfect candidate for that. Hip, cool, unpredictable, mysterious...all characteristics of a one-night stand. He's the husband every girl swoons over, and can't understand why his wife doesn't seem to share in their weird enthusiasm. (Quick aside - I know men should deservedly be considered pigs when speaking about attractive women when they are together, but not enough has been said about what happens when women do the same. It can be like a group of hyenas achieving a simultaneous orgasm. At least that's what I imagine that would sound like. But I digress...)

I think however, to move Mr. Murray up into the marriage category would be a mistake for everyone. His personality is simply too strange and unique to be harnessed. He can't handle it, and so how can anyone else assume to handle it? And yet of course, there's simply no way I could "kill" him...

So that leaves Mr. Martin and Mr. Chase for the two remaining categories. And that's where it gets tough. So I'll get right to it.

I'd "kill" Steve Martin.

I know. Sacrilegious on about a thousand different levels. And I'm sure, even though I'll say it has nothing to do with it, people are going to think it's because of the recent dustup he had with his art talk. It doesn't. It has more to do with his inconsistent track record of movies. I mean, don't get me wrong, I will always love him for stuff like this...

But then there's this...

It's bad enough to be involved in a remake of a classic movie. But then to do a sequel...I cringe. I simply cringe.

That leaves me with marrying Chevy Chase. And I'm ok with that. Sure, there would be a few rocky patches (The Chevy Chase Show, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Cops and Robbersons), but the good far outweigh the bad (Fletch, Caddyshack, Modern Problems (yes, I said Modern Problems), Foul Play, early SNL stuff, and on and on...). It's for those reasons that I look back fondly on Mr. Chase, and would have no problem marrying him.

The Catfight 25 Years in the Making

If you ever found yourself standing in a mall, circa 1989, listening to a teen girl belt out bubblegum pop, and thought to yourself, she would look awesome fighting another chick who sings in malls, then this video is for you...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Anne Hathaway - the Female Ricky Gervais

Please enjoy Bill O'Reilly's smear attack against Anne Hathaway and her upcoming co-hosting of the Oscars. You know, because Hathaway has an unbelievable streak of biting, caustic pop culture commentary. I'm guessing this has a little to do with suckling at the teet of the Cruise empire.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Year in Books; a Year in Life

(This is very long, sorry. Print it out for a rainy day should you care to)

The idea sounded deceptively simple.

Read 52 books in 52 weeks or, one year. And it sounded like a perfect quasi-New Year’s resolution. Something that didn’t involve strenuous physical activity, and something that I’d enjoy. After all, I enjoy reading. That, over the years had gotten away from me due to distractions and responsibilities that everyone has to deal with at some point or other.

And so I said, why not?

My job afforded me an hour for lunch, and choosing to pack instead of find some fast food joint allowed me to spend the bulk of that hour reading. I felt if I tried hard and stayed the course, 52 books could be squeezed into my life.

I started with a book I received for Christmas, The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History. Like most people I talk to, I used to like The Simpsons, back when it had a soul, and this book seemed to speak right to me, hinting at uncovering the stories of the golden years of the show. And unauthorized histories? The scandal! Unfortunately, it didn't really deliver, as the bulk of the interviews the book was based on didn't come from the key players, only the periphery and even people not involved whatsoever. I wanted it to be the New York Times covering the story, what I got was TMZ.

And then, just like that, done. My job I mean. Unceremoniously laid off from a position I held for five years. Nothing to do with performance, mostly due to political power plays way above my pay grade, I along with the rest of my department (yes, my entire department was asked to leave), found a bar that Tuesday afternoon and drank our shock away.

Obviously the 52 books in a year challenge was going to be affected. How, I wouldn't know and of course it really wasn't a pressing issue. While some would suggest being unemployed would leave oodles of more time for reading, others might suggest I should spend my time insuring I and my family would still be able to eat.

Anyway, perhaps subconsciously to deal with this major life event, I chose to revisit an author who was so influential in my childhood. Growing up during the height of Stephen King's productivity (and, dare I say, creativity), I had been a fan. (In fact, I'd still argue that Salem's Lot is one of the 25 best novels of all time.) I consumed all of King's major hitters in the 80s, and loved each one (even The Tommyknockers!) But as we both stumbled into the 90s (I, in awkward stages of puberty, he in uneven prose) we went our separate ways, and while I certainly read a some of his other books, he no longer gave me that joy I had felt with him before.

But, having received a Kindle for Christmas, I saw an opportunity to revisit my youth with Under the Dome: A Novel.

Not necessarily a typical King "horror" novel, the book tells the story of what happens to a town (and the people in it), when a large dome shows up and cuts it off from the rest of the world.

While I felt some of the storytelling felt gimmicky, I thought this was a great return to form for King. His characters were well fleshed out and the small town politics spiraling out of control kept me turning the page. Sure, the ending felt a bit rushed and tacked on, but what Stephen King ending doesn't? If you haven't picked it up because you think King lost his fastball, I can't recommend it enough.

Patient Zero: A Joe Ledger Novel I received free at a Twitter meetup in Philadelphia in February of 2010. And let's just say there's a reason I got it for free. If you like generic thrillers with a twinge of the supernatural, it's an ok book. Plenty of cliches on top of cliches, but if you're a fan of the zombie genre, then it might be for you.

The Man Who Ate the World: In Search of the Perfect Dinner annoyed me with its pretentiousness; the premise has author/food critic Jay Rayner flying all over the world to find the perfect meal, and great! I get to read about it. It's not that I minded reading about a dream assignment that I was envious of, it was that Rayner didn't really seem to enjoy his adventure whatsoever. And that jadedness seeped into his prose. Unfortunately, Bill Simmons' The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to The Sports Guy seemed to do the same thing with basketball, only with many more words and some humor. I wanted to love this book, as I think Simmons is one of the more influential sportswriters out there, but the book overall comes across as "my opinion is better than yours," which goes against Simmons' "hey, I'm just a fan like you" writing style. Not to mention it's long. Really long. Stop a bullet long. I guess Simmons has reached a point in his career where he can boss his editor around, but that doesn't mean he should.

Michio Kaku is probably one of the 10 smartest people alive. A physicist with a calm, serene delivery, I think one of his greatest strengths is being able to explain incredibly complex theories in a simple, basic manner for the rest of us to understand. I also believe he should be the man pegged to announce the end of the world when/if it comes, because his delivery probably won't send us all into the streets to start looting immediately. I figured he was the perfect guy to help me explore the mysteries of the cosmos. Unfortunately,Beyond Einstein: The Cosmic Quest for the Theory of the Universe is just not easy to understand. And I don't think that's a knock on Kaku. I think the subject matter is simply complex, and you either have a brain wired for it, or you don't.

And I don't.

By the time I finished Kaku, it was April. I had just picked up a job in the soulless financial services industry, helping one of the biggest banks in the country send this country further down the well. Worse, I worked as a contractor, meaning it wasn't full time and everyone looked at me as hired help. I could go on and on about this job, and maybe someday I will, but for now, just know that I'm glad I'm not there anymore. And I'm anxiously awaiting the next wikileaks leak.

Anyway, like I said, it was April. And I was 6 books in. 52 completed wasn't looking good. My head wasn't in the best place, and what was this stupid little self-challenge for anyway?

But I soldiered on. It's not like there were any stakes, and it wasn't like I was torturing myself. I love to read. And, for my troubles, I was rewarded.

If you haven't guessed by now, I enjoy food, and enjoy reading about it. That's why I was excited to read Alan Richman's Fork It Over: The Intrepid Adventures of a Professional Eater to see how a food critic for a major magazine really lived. Plus, he's a Philly guy! Unfortunately, the book is just a collection of his food writing for GQ, and while I like his take on a lot, I wanted a bigger peek behind the curtain.

Nick Harkaway's The Gone-Away World (Vintage Contemporaries) is an odd book. Set in a world that could be ours but is not, the book deals with identity, war, love and many of the other cliches authors write about in an interesting way. These are the types of books I enjoy - found through some book-recommendation-list digging, it's a book that probably many haven't heard about, but many would enjoy. Of course, it didn't prepare me for my next book...

I'm not going to sit here and write 5,000 words on why Twitter is awesome for both society and for the individual. I'll just say that I've crossed paths with many interesting people, and even though I haven't met them, I consider them friends. And one of those friends, happens to be an extremely talented author, who published a book of his short stories.

Matt Debenham's The Book of Right and Wrong (Ohio State Univ Prize in Short Fiction) holds stories about life, its problems, and solutions to those problems, no matter how dirty they might get. Simultaneously tragic and comedic, the stories paint genuine pictures that never offer the Hollywood ending. And that's not to say these stories are full of tearjerker moments; actually we're pretty far from that. What they offer is a look at how life is never black and white, and we're never 100% right or 100% wrong. We're always in the middle, and that's ok.

At least that's what I took from it. Regardless, I can't recommend this book enough. If you take nothing else from my words, please at least listen to this. Oh, and follow @debenham on twitter if you're so inclined.

Coming off the high of The Book of Right and Wrong, I chose to head into non-fiction territory, and picked up Columbine, a detailed look at the events leading up to and including the massacre at Columbine High School. Author/journalist Dave Cullen does an excellent job of telling the story based on his meticulous research, solidifying some things we already knew, and dispelling some of the other things we thought we knew. It's easy (and comforting) for people to blame easy targets such as the media for the tragedies that happen in our lives. Unfortunately, it rarely happens to be the case. Much like people clamored to point fingers in the recent Giffords shooting, the same thing happened after the events at Columbine. This book goes a long way to show that blame is never easy to place in a situation that is impossible to understand.

Staying in the non-fiction realm, but wanting to take on lighter fare, I picked up Mary Roach's Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers a book about death and dying throughout history. Why I felt underwhelmed after I finished, is difficult for me to explain. Though the writing was competent, it felt as though it was just a number of magazine articles strung together. Or perhaps I just wanted more from the book. Death is such an expansive and mysterious subject that our society is both fascinated and scared by it, and I think I expected something a little deeper. Roach seemed to scratch the surface on topics, but not dig deeper. It wasn't a bad book, I just thought it would be different.

I don't know how I stumbled onto Tim Powers' Declare but I think not knowing anything about the premise of the book made me enjoy it more. And that's why I'll say nothing more about it than it's a historical thriller based during World War II and the years immediately following. Complex in narrative (at times detrimentally so), the book tied supernatural powers into the superpowers that survived the second World War, but in ways that are not at first easily understood.

Before I talk about the next book I have to admit something. My personal preference is to finish every book I start, no matter how much I dislike it, simply because I feel like I owe the author the something. I'm not suggesting this is how everyone should read. In fact sometimes I wish I didn't have this bizarre compulsion. Because if I didn't, I would have simply dropped Dhalgren 30 pages in, instead of plodding through it as I did. Do I feel good that I finished it? Not really. I had satisfaction when I reached the end mostly because I knew I didn't have to read another page. Look, I'm sure people will disagree with me, because this book did receive some critical acclaim and I can see how it might speak to some people with its subject matter. And perhaps it owes a lot to the fact that it was groundbreaking when it first came out. But in the age of the Internet, when avante garde can be achieved with 2 clicks of a mouse with your morning coffee, this story and its storytelling offered me very little.

My next book was a much easier read and, at least at the time, much more interesting. Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime delves into the 2008 Presidential race, and takes a look at all the key players, as well as the strategies, arguments, and characters each presidential hopeful had and used to make their presidential bid. Though not as hard hitting or insightful as I hoped (there was hardly any mention of Internet campaigning strategy, which I would have loved to read about), it still painted a picture of what it takes to win the presidency of the United States, and what it can do to someone.

Maybe I didn't get what Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom was trying to accomplish; I found it to be much about nothing using technology and Disney as a backdrop for...not much of anything. Set in the future with fantastical technical advancements (including the ability to come back to life over and over), I felt the book to the reader for granted, and assumed we would just like the premise enough to gloss over the overall lack of substance. Luckily, I followed that up with And the Sea Will Tell an account of a crime committed on a deserted island in the Pacific, written by Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecutor famous for convicting Charles Manson. As an author, Bugliosi writes like a lawyer; factual, with a slight heir of superiority. It's both good and bad in this case - the crime and subsequent trial that follows is convoluted, slightly unbelievable and intriguing, all of which is helped by Bugliosi's straightforward approach. But, as he also is an integral character in the book, some of his opinion gets a little soiled since we can't really make up our own mind. He soapboxes a little and tries to make it for us. Still, it's an interesting book and is recommended for true crime lovers.

Both Paul Auster's The Book of Illusions: A Novel and Jesse Ball's Samedi the Deafness (Vintage Contemporaries) play with identity and the concept of reality. I found myself racing through The Book of Illusions, if only trying to get to the true meat of the story, but never finding it. The whole thing felt like set up for a much larger story. And Samedi the Deafness...well, it started out with a murder in a park and ended with...I won't give it away but the pieces to go from A to B were so tangled with lies, deceit, mistaken identities and parlor game "what if this isn't real" tricks that it crashed in on itself. Which may have been the author's point, so it's possible the joke's on me.

Justin Cronin's The Passage had a lot of hype behind it. Coming out of the University of Iowa's writers' program, Cronin attempted to write a "literary" vampire/dystopian future novel. And while I have issues with the labels "literary" and "genre" (meaning science-fiction) I don't have a better solution to categorize this book. Cronin is obviously a talented writer, I just think he needs an editor or maybe even a good friend to sit him down and explain the idea of focus. Because this book not only has an unbelievable cast of characters, and spans hundreds of years, it jumps around so much and introduces so many new and left-field concepts and then drops them to again pick up the story. I really wanted to like it (it's difficult to mess up vampire-zombie apocalyptic stories), and there are many interesting things here, but ultimately it left me wishing he had simply told the story he started with and left the future stuff for future books. To frustrate me even more, after finishing the novel I learned it's the first book of a planned trilogy, which really left me scratching my head. I still don't see the reason he crammed so much into this first book.

The Billionaire's Vinegar: The Mystery of the World's Most Expensive Bottle of Wine helped me learn about wine, or more precisely, the world of wine collecting. A world I will never be a part of based on the fact that I am not rich. But I don't think I'm missing much anyway; it's not that different from the kids of my youth collecting baseball cards, right down to the bullies who gyp you out of your favorite Tony Phillips' rookie card. Um, not that I would know anything about that.

I do enjoy reading a good thriller every now and then. Still Life with Crows (Pendergast, Book 4) fit that bill nicely. Predictable, absurd, gruesome and easy to read, I breezed through Douglas Preston's and Lincoln Child's umpteenth take on a serial killer, and gobbled it right up. What of course it didn't prepare me for was The Cell: Inside The 9/11 Plot, and Why the FBI and CIA Failed to Stop It a detailed look at how and why 9/11 happened. At different times I believe everyone and no one should read this book, as it delves into exactly how it was planned, and exactly how our country let it happen. While it goes a long way to simply report the events leading up to that fateful day without pointing fingers of blame, it's easy to read between the lines. And it's also easy to see it wasn't anyone party's or individual's fault. It was one domino placed after the last, which ultimately only required a simple nudge.

Finishing that last book on December 29th, I decided that would be it for 2010, 30 books short of my self-imposed goal. But instead of being disappointed at coming up so short, I felt satisfied, realizing I had rediscovered my love for books and found I could still find time for serious book reading in an already hectic existence.

Plus, it gave me new motivation for completing the challenge in 2011. So, until next year...

(If you've made it this far, and received even the slightest bit of interest with the reading, please feel free to recommend a book for my 2011 list. I'm always looking for new, interesting titles, and as you have read, I have many interests and won't discriminate. I can't guarantee I will read it, but I will certainly appreciate the suggestion.)

"Also starring these people..."

Parks and Recreation was back last night, and while I thought the episode was a little uneven, I'll certainly give them some time to get their sea legs back. Of course, I think they could have gone with this opening credit sequence to get the blood boiling a little more...

(thanks to CollegeHumor)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Nic Cage Intervention?

Look, I know Nic Cage had some money woes recently, and I know he has the ability to make quick cash by starring in movies, and I know that this will also probably cause him to maybe take roles that might not be thespian masterpieces, but still. This clip might take the cake.

From the upcoming film Drive Angry, about a guy who leaves Hell in a Hell car and gets chased by things from Hell. Or something like that.

(Warning, the clip is decidedly R, so if your kids are around, maybe not the best time to click on it.)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Beastie Boys' Short Film

I am a Beastie Boys fan. Have been since License to Ill came out. And, while I know this sounds like bragging, I can also say I liked them when Paul's Boutique FIRST came out. Not during that time everyone clamored for it in the mid 90s after Check Your Head came out. No, I'm talking about when it first came out, when CDs were the "wave of the future," and cassettes were still rocking. My copy was red.

Anyway, yes, I've fallen off the map a bit with some of their later stuff (meaning everything after Hello Nasty), but I'll always appreciate them as artists, and always argue that Paul's Boutique is one of the top 5 most influential items of all time. So when I hear about some sort of fictional short film based on the song/video "Fight for Your Right to Party," I'm excited. And now that the cast has been announced, I think everyone is about to get excited. Check it out here.

And, just because...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Kids Dancing = Gold

I don't think I have to say much more than that...

Wintertime at Yosemite

Another entry into the 2011 Awesome Video Contest (hosted by me!). I can totally see this being the introduction to some sort of bizarre sequel to Nell, had Nell taking a really depressing turn. And no, I'm not really sure what that means. Enjoy!

New Documentary about...Parking Lot Attendants

Cameras are everywhere, and everyone has cameras. And that's why we get documentaries about parking lot attendants...

Is it interesting? I have no idea. I'm sure the interviewed parking lot attendants have a cool story or two about society and its parking habits. And I'm sure if I stumbled across it with no pretenses or knowledge of it some night on cable I would watch it and enjoy it. But I'm not sure the world is asking for this to be made.

Still, if you are interested, check out the website here and maybe buy the film.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Bravo Mr. Gervais

Ricky Gervais hosted the Golden Globes last night, and you may read one or two things about it today...

Yes, many of his jokes were biting and took specific shots at people. And were mean spirited. And I'd be willing to bet he won't be asked back. But if you take a step back and look at it, the jokes were funny. And while many people in the audience (you know, celebrities) didn't enjoy it, I bet the viewing audience sitting at him found it funny.

Bad taste is very subjective. What may be in bad taste to you might be perfectly fine to me. I understand with such a large audience you have to walk a much finer line than you would in a comedy club. But I think that's why Gervais went after the celebrities so much. Easy targets who might get mad, but at the end of the day drive home in their solid gold cars. Sure Tim Allen looked visibly ticked off, but it was a funny line, and no one gets hurt by it other than Tim Allen. And hopefully Tim Allen has a big enough sense of humor that he'll get over it. And if he doesn't, he still has that solid gold car.

Celebrities, for the most part, take themselves way too seriously. You saw some of that behavior last night. If only they understood that's why they make such easy targets.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Awesome Fight Scenes

Always in search of great/ridiculous fight scenes I've stumbled through Youtube once again, in hopes of finding something I've yet to see. Now, you obviously can't go wrong with any fight scene from The Story of Rikki...

But I've seen the movie, and while I love the fight scenes, I crave something new. In fact, the kung fu movie fight scenes haven't really been doing it for me too much as of late.

Enter Indian movie fight scenes!

I like this next clip because the protagonist looks like Tom Selleck if he let himself go a little and then spent way too much time in a tanning booth:

Now, can it be considered the best fight scene of all time? Of course not. It doesn't have any unironic shirt ripping or knife licking.

Still, it's pretty good.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New York Seen Through Time Lapse

There will come a day when time lapse videos are boring.

Today is not that day.

Check out New York city through this well shot film...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Catapult Fridge...Not What You Think

When I first read "catapult fridge," I got giddy, and envisioned a group of college kids building and then executing an awesome weapon of destruction launching a fridge 400 yards through the air.

This is not that.

It's still impressive. Kinda. I do enjoy the end slide, suggesting people might want to contact him "for more information." More information about what?

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Year in Time Lapse

It's easy. I'm a sucker for time lapse video/photography. And this one covers a year. Set to music.

If you're interested, here's a recap of how it was all created.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Se7en Ending Reimagined

I can't tell you how many times I've wondered how the ending of the movie Se7en would have looked had it starred puppets. Thankfully, my prayers have been answered...

I think the blue puppet does some especially good work.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The End of the World

2 things I've gleaned after watching this video...

1. This guy is not on the invite list for my next "Celebrate Life!" party.
2. I hope he wasn't gunning for the public relations position on the Black Sea Tourism Board.

Kidding aside, it's interesting to hear intelligent people hypothesize on the end of the world. For me at least. Part of the Big Think series, there's a bunch of scientists and other members of intelligencia predicting how we will all go here. Check it out!

Movie Trailer: Tornado Alley

Documentary about tornados? Sign me up...

Yes, I believe that's Bill Paxton narrating. Perfect. I was half expecting Cary Elwes to drive past.

And this movie really seems to be a real-life version of the movie Twister. I wonder if now we're supposed to acknowledge Twister as a masterpiece?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Josh Groban Gets Down with Kanye West

Apparently it's "like" a late night show sketch day here at The Popcorn Trick. Whatever. Enjoy Josh Groban singing the tweets of Kanye West, curtesy Jimmy Kimmel Live...

(Unrelated: How many parody sketches do you think James Van Der Beek has written with him portraying Josh Groban?)

Dear Internet...

Gerry Rafferty wrote other stuff besides Baker Street!

RIP Mr. Rafferty. You probably know by now that you will live in our memories through that sax solo.

Jimmy Fallon - Successful Late Night Host?

Sure, he got a lot of shit when it was announced that Jimmy Fallon was replacing Conan at 12:30 on NBC. Known mostly as being the cute guy during his SNL stint that could never keep a straight face in a sketch, people were outraged that he was getting such a cushy gig. And really, 12:30 at night is a cushy gig. Free of the spotlight that the 11:30 hosts have to endure, 12:30 is a place where you can spread your creative wings a little more as well. Which is exactly what Mr. Fallon has been doing. Not only was getting The Roots to be his houseband an excellent move to force the hipsters to begrudgingly give him some credit, he has also focused on his skill/talent of parodying music. Here's just one recent example of that...

Sure, it's not going to set the world on fire with humor, but getting Gwyneth Paltrow to go along with a cheesy 80s hip hop sketch and make fun of herself is no easy feat (I assume - maybe she gets moist thinking about Kid n Play and this was all her idea).

But it's videos like these...

that not only show off Fallon's skill, but also shows off that Fallon gets what his audience wants, and understands how to create a buzz on the Internet. And for that, he should be getting more accolades.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Favorite Video of 2011 So Far

While you may not appreciate nature (and that's your prerogative), I do and I love this video (some might call it a "moving love letter") about the redwoods out in Northern California. Show beautifully, it gives these nature's wonders their appropriate reverence.

I might also turn this into a recurring bit - awesome videos I see throughout the year. If you think you have something that can beat it, send it along and I'll give you credit.

Funniest Ads of 2010

These? While some of the ads are humorous and deserve to be there, off the top of my head, I can think of 2 glaring omissions...

Old Spice:

AT & T Taco Text Message:

In my opinion, I think these 2 are way better. Of course none of the aforementioned ads beat Michael Jordan's Hitler tribute...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Watch Out for the Knife

There's not much I can say about this video to make it better...

Obviously dated, it still has is rather extreme in showing the dangers the police have to react to when confronted with a Swiss Army knife, hunting knife, machete and sword. It doesn't really get started until the second scene, where things escalate way beyond you can even imagine.

Trying to figure out whether this was real or a brilliant spoof, I read in the comments that it's from a video called, "Surviving Edged Weapons." And thankfully, since this is the Internet, I found some more...

I really wish the music and remix portion didn't come in, spoiling the genuineness of the video. It didn't need any of that; played straight it's simply perfect.

Still, I did learn how to make a razor blade hat, and I saw some awesome cleavage, so all in all it's been a great day.

And if anyone can find the entire video for this, I'd be forever in your debt.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Insert “Cover” Pun Here: My Top 6 Live Covers of 2010

Whether or not I write up a comprehensive review of 2010 in music, I got a wild hair up my ass to share this with you.

Somewhat pretentiously, you could call it an account of a blind man’s view of an elephant’s leg.

Much less pretentiously, you should call it the best live cover songs I saw this year.

After the jump, an explanation of why this picture was chosen…


Are you kidding?

This picture was on my Christmas card this year (email me if you want one, I’ve got extras thanks to UPS).

I’m thinking of eating nothing but photo cakes with this image.

I’m starting a math rock band that does nothing but play 20+ minute jams based on the binary information stored within the JPEG of this picture. 

While it may be nothing more than a stolen moment in/near a hot tub on the roof of a Vegas hotel, it makes me smile every time I see it.

Much like when a band I love annexes a song from another band and makes it their own.

Thanks to everyone who recorded these songs (including me). There are some cases where the specific version I saw doesn’t exist, so I found clips of those songs from other shows.  Hopefully you can forgive me.

Now let’s 15% Casey Kasem this shit!

6. Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit – Otis Redding – “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay”

Oct. 22 – North Star, Philly

Tough choice between this and “Atlantic City” (see below), but I gotta go with this perfect example of Mr. Isbell’s Southern Soul.

This was part of a legendary 9 shows in 11 nights run that I wrote about and of which you can read if you click the link contained in this here sentence.


5. Unnamed Supergroup (Rhett Miller, Nicole Atkins, AC Newman, & A Guy I Don't Know From The Wrens) – Traditional Gospel Song - “Long Road to Freedom”

Jan. 27 – Bell House (Haiti Benefit), Brooklyn

On a night of good covers (see #1), this breezed through the room and gave us hope for a Cowsills reunion.  Rhett Miller (Old 97s) was the only artist I was familiar with as an individual, but have been eager to check out more Nicole Atkins).


4. My Morning Jacket – Bob Dylan - “Tonight, I’ll Be Staying Here With You”

Oct. 21 – Terminal 5, Manhattan

MMJ has always delivered good covers.  An earnest, straightforward, somewhat obvious version of a Dylan song wouldn’t normally take precedence over a Lionel Richie cover (see below), but well, here we are.


3. Titus Andronicus – Weezer - “Undone (The Sweater Song)”

Apr. 15 - The Barbary, Philly

This is the second post in a week I’ve included this clip.  It’s that good.  I love the impromptu reimagining of the spoken word banter.  So damn good.


2. Corin Tucker Band – Elvis Costello - “Party Girl”

Oct. 28 – First Unitarian Church, Philly

Another tough choice (yes, see below).  A rocking punk cover and a raucous version of “The Glamorous Life” provided stiff competition.  But this… this…

This is sexy.  This is forceful.  This is playful.  This is a torch singer breathing hot fire.  This is 5 pounds of quadraphonic sound stuffed into a 2 pound bag.

This fucking rules.


1. Lauren Ambrose & The Leisure Class– Bob Dylan - “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright”

Jan. 27 – Bell House (Haiti Benefit), Brooklyn

This definitely wins the award for most unexpected delight. Didn’t know the actress from Six Feet Under and Can’t Hardly Wait (see below) was musically inclined, but apparently is a classically trained opera singer.  This, however, is not opera.

She leads a kick-ass swing/ragtime band and this Dylan cover blew me the hell away.  Her energy is infectious and the joy on her face is as wide as the Great Wall and equally visible from space.


The Rest

Ted Leo – The Impressions - “Keep on Pushing”

Jan. 27 – Bell House (Haiti Benefit), Brooklyn


Jimmy Fallon as Neil Young – Will Smith - “Fresh Prince Theme”

Jan. 27 – Bell House (Haiti Benefit), Brooklyn


Unnamed Supergroup – Seekers - “A World of Our Own”

Jan. 27 – Bell House (Haiti Benefit), Brooklyn


fun. – Queen - “Radio Gaga”

Jan. 27 – Bell House (Haiti Benefit), Brooklyn


Quasi – The Who – Medley

Apr. 23 - Johnny Brenda’s, Philly (from a different show, however)


Levon Helm & Friends (members of Felice Brothers, Edward Sharpe, Low Anthem, and others) – Bob Dylan - “I Shall Be Released”

Aug. 1 - Newport Folk Festival, Newport, RI (a recap of my Newport weekend)


April Smith – Melanie - “Brand New Key”

Aug. 1 - Newport Folk Festival, Newport, RI (from a different show, however)


O’Death – Pixies - “Nimrod's Son”

Aug. 21 – Rock Shop, Brooklyn (from a different show, but it’s the same borough)


Those Darlins – Johnny Kidd and the Pirates - “Shakin’ All Over”

Sep. 19 – Kung Fu Necktie, Philly (different show)


Two Cow Garage – The Replacements - “Can’t Hardly Wait”

Oct. 19 – Mojo on Main, Newark, DE (different show)


Greg Dulli – The Who - “Pinball Wizard”

Oct. 20 – Johnny Brenda’s, Philly


My Morning Jacket – Lionel Richie - “All Night Long”

Oct. 21 – Terminal 5, Manhattan


My Morning Jacket – The Band- “Makes No Difference”

Oct. 21 – Terminal 5, Manhattan


Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit – Bruce Springsteen - “Atlantic City”

Oct. 22 – North Star, Philly


Corin Tucker Band – Au Pairs - “It’s Obvious”

Oct. 28 – First Unitarian Church, Philly


Corin Tucker Band – Sheila E - “The Glamorous Life”

Oct. 28 – First Unitarian Church, Philly