Saturday, January 1, 2011

Song of the Day: "Infinite Arms"

The title track from Band of Horses' Grammy-nominated album starts off 2011's songs of the day.

Its gentle, atmospheric melody is hangover-friendly. You're welcome.

Song: "Infinite Arms"
Artist: Band of Horses

Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy Birthday Ben Kingsley

You have to love a top-rate actor with a great sense of humor. Earlier this year he did a video audition (a la Heidi Montag) for Michael Bay and the next Transformers movie. (Rerun, but worth it.)

Here he is as Don Logan, his character from Sexy Beast, and Anthony Hopkins:

And finally, he brought Don Logan to Live Aid in a series of promos:

Ben has an Oscar and a Grammy, along with 4 Emmy nominations. Clearly he needs to pick up an HBO miniseries role to get the E in EGOT, then it's on to Broadway. I'm sure he'd handle My Fair Lady just fine (as Henry Higgins, NOT Eliza Doolittle, although that would be interesting to check out). If you thought I was going to say The King and I, almost.

Happy birthday dude! Rock on.

"No wise man has the power"

I'm hanging out in the living room, on fireworks watch, which is boring. So why not blog? "Because maybe you'll find yourself writing about Michael McDonald" would be an answer. Why, it seems like a year ago I almost named the shitty decade that was 2000-2009 (and if you're one of those people who asserts that there was no year 0, ergo decades run 1-10 and that decade is only ending today... get a hobby [and it's cute that you think the modern calendar has been kept accurately and consistently all this time]).

I stand by the past (or just now passing decade) being designated The George W. Bush decade (here).

But today is Michael McDonald's birthday, and dude picked up 3 Grammys for "What a Fool Believes" (for the arrangement, as the songwriter [shared with Kenny Loggins], and as one of the Dobbie Brothers for Record of the Year; he has 2 others... so far), and I really like the song. So let's play a bunch of variations.

There are a daunting number of covers, including one by Aretha Franklin. Maybe this is why McDonald made the somewhat atrocious Motown albums: revenge.

Matt Bianco's cover reminds me a lot of the lounge act in Lost in Translation ("we're Saulsalito").

Why yes, George Michael DID do a cover of this song once, thank you for asking.

When you think Michael McDonald, you think M People (what do you think the "M" in M People stands for?):

And finally, one of the few non-disco songs to top Billboard's Hot 100, the original by the Doobie Brothers (here's a bit of music trivia: "doobie" is a code word for a marijuana cigarette).

It's gonna be a long night.

Michael McDonald, I will wish you a happy birthday if you promise no more Motown covers. Otherwise we might have words.

Hat, broach or pterodactyl

Midge early in the evening--in basement
It's New Year's Eve, and I have drugged my dog.

It's one of those nights when fireworks go off, and Midge is deathly afraid of fireworks, so I gave her 2 pills before dinner, just in case.

My neighbors never fail to disappoint, and by disappoint I mean either set off fireworks or possibly small arms fire. Either way, Midge stumbled up from her panic room in the basement. She's now in the bedroom next to the living room, and I have TCM's Marx Brothers marathon on, with the volume a little loud, hopefully to distract from potential fireworks noise. It just takes 1 for her to try to flee--I don't know what happened in the first 2-1/2 years of her life, but clearly it wasn't all good.

I think she's in good shape now, and I'm keeping an eye on her.

Between Marx Brothers movies, they played a montage of people who passed away in 2010, and back-to-back they showed Peter Graces, Leslie Nielsen, and Barbara Billingsley. So as I say goodbye to a crappy, seriously disappointing year, let's at least laugh. Here's to Airplane! (98% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes).

I'm not going to try to micromanage your year by telling you to have a happy one. You have the kind of new year you want to have.

2010 Singles: "Runaway"

Kanye West debuted this song on the MTV Video Music Awards back in September, and I never got around to posting it as a song of the day. But I'll include it here for singles list consideration. Eric sent me some year-end list-type stuff and I'm listening to this among one of the playlists.

Kanye makes music that I like, I'll give him that much.

"I'm so gifted at findin' what I don't like the most
So I think it's time for us to have a toast"

Song: "Runaway"
Artist: Kanye West/Pusha T

Oh no, Amy, I can't get to you!!!

Several months ago I read an article about a morning drive DJ named Rick Burgess who took to our public airwaves and said there is no way to biblically justify their... our... MY lifestyle. That article prompted me to write "My Open Letter to Rick Burgess" (here).

I am able to review the different search terms that bring people to my blog, and an occasional string that brings people is something like "Rick Burgess first wife." I don't know anything about that, and I don't have a lot of curiosity about him. But for some reason, others do, and some of them find my blog.

A few days ago I received a rather lengthy comment from someone named Amy that has been, while not "weighing" on me, at least distracting me a little. It was a comment that I wanted to give some consideration to, to give her a non-snarky reply (she specifically left her Google blogger ID in case I wanted to reply)--the comments are here. I sat down to write something to her directly, that I wasn't intending to post here, only to discover that she didn't set her Google blogger profile's privacy settings to allow me to reply to her! Oh noes!

I did a quick search using some of the details she shared, and I may have found her via Twitter. So I will wait a few days for a reply before posting the reply here.

UPDATE: Weird. I did a search on 3 aspects of her comments (her first name and 2 other pieces of personal information she shared) and found a blog from someone matching those 3 things. I reached Amy F. via Twitter to her complete confusion and concern about identity theft ( weird coincidence but that's all). Anyway, I'll give her a few more days and post here if I don't hear back.

2010 Singles: "Heartbreaker"

Girls made last year's singles list with "Lust for Life" and their song "Laura" was pretty good too. This year they're back and "Heartbreaker" is an admirable follow-up. I don't have a good description for their sound: jangly upbeat mope rock? Upbeat and mope don't go well together, do they? I'm open for suggestions.
"There's a voice in the back of my head
That says you're always going to be alone
Go turn the TV on, turn off the telephone"

Song: "Heartbreaker"
Artist: Girls

2010 Singles: "Indeed I Will"

David Gray's best track from Foundling isn't ON Foundling, it's on the something something edition of Foundling.
"When you’re with me baby
Be happy to take it just as I find it
As I find"

Song: "Indeed I Will"
Artist: David Gray

2010 Singles: "Shame"

Fantastic duet between 2 middle-aged British dudes (wait, they were in a boy band? they're so old) that I think I listened to 28 times over 2 days. And not because my phone has become a piece of shit (which it has) and kept repeating it.

Oh, and Gary Barlow is the greatest British songwriter of all time. Really.
"So I got busy throwing everybody underneath the bus
And with your poster 30-foot high at the back of Toys-R-Us
I wrote a letter in my mind, but the words were so unkind, about a man I can't remember"

Song: "Shame"
Artist: Robbie Williams/Gary Barlow

2010 Singles: "Bartelomo and the Buzzing of Bees"

How many Ted Leo and the Pharmacists songs does this make? I think it's 3 but there was a possible fourth that seemed like would just amount to gilding the lily. I think I've made my point.
"You've paid and you've been paid, but at what pains, just to belong?
You've played, but have you been played by this game all along?"

Song: "Bartelomo and the Buzzing of Bees"
Artist: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists

2010 Singles: "Jamie, My Intentions Are Bass"

For some reason, the band !!! was being confused by the band The The in my public library's catalog (I called it a database, and my friend with a graduate degree in library science said "what database?" and when I described she corrected me--but it's not a card catalog, just a catalog). She said the system isn't designed to supported non-alphanumeric characters, but they had come up with a workaround when I brought it to their attention (weeks before my conversation with Diane). Not all my stories are interesting.

!!! is pronounced "chk chk chk" (or so they claim), and while I've heard a couple of tracks of theirs, I don't know if I could characterize their music (I'm much more knowledgeable with The The). This track is funky and wry, an interesting mix. Well played dudes!
"She said this seems like a story from out of one of your songs
Well, she had me there and I couldn't say she was wrong"

Song: "Jamie, My Intentions Are Bass"
Artist: !!!

2010 Singles: "It's a Shame, It's a Pity"

Seattle band The Moondoggies. Possibly their second album. I think that's as far as I got.
"It's a long way down
Don't get tangled in a crowd"

Song: "It's a Shame, It's a Pity"
Artist: The Moondoggies

Happy Birthday Taylor Hackford

I've been a fan of director Taylor Hackford since I found his 1980 movie The Idolmaker on cable a gazillion years ago. Its charms are hazy to me, years later, but I seem to recall really digging it. Hackford's gone on to make movies of varying qualities, including a favorite (Delores Claiborne) and a Best Picture nominee (Ray). I was happy for him to finally get an Oscar nomination with Ray, and today I learned that he won an Oscar before he made The Idolmaker. So now I have to judge White Nights a lot more harshly (also, Lionel Richie won an Oscar for "Say You, Say Me" from that movie... really?!).

The Idolmaker really is a good movie (it's been a while, but I'm pretty sure--86% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes). It's based on the dude who discovered Fabian, and features a fantastic performance from Ray Sharkey (he won a Golden Globe, which isn't really a big deal until I need it to help confer credibility, but I am inconsistent, so "grain of salt"). It's the first feature film for Peter Gallagher and Joe Pantoliano, and, AND, Tovah Feldshuh (but it wasn't her first movie).

TOVAH FELDSHUH. She would go on to have the longest-running one-woman show in Broadway history (Golda's Balcony, the success of which is largely due to it running only like 1 hour and being scheduled conducive to the schedules of tourists trying to fit in several plays into a long weekend, not that I know anyone like that), THAT Tovah Feldshuh.

Here's Gallagher, Sharkey and Feldshuh:

You can watch it free on Youtube (here), so really, I've given you your New Year's Eve excitement. You're welcome.

And happy birthday Taylor! Rock on!

2010 Singles: "MoneyGrabber"

Chris Wilson brought this Fitz & the Tantrums song to my attention, and I loved it right away. I shared it with some coworkers who were similarly enthusiastic. I think it was Eric who started to dig deeper into their album, only to find not much else. Should they end up in the 1-hit wonders bin, at least they gave us a really fantastic single (as opposed to, say, "Butterfly Kisses").
"This ain't your home
So I'm showing you the door
Wave goodbye now, it's time for you to go"

Song: "MoneyGrabber"
Artist: "Fitz & the Tantrums

2010 Singles: "Zorbing"

Storonoway's Beachcomber's Windowsill is one of my favorite albums from 2010 and difficult to actually remember. I played it in the rental car when Sonya and I spent the weekend in Bodega Bay and I believe "lovely" is the word she used. So think of that as one of the quotes you see in a movie commercial "'Lovely' says Sonya."

It really is.
"Lying in your attic
I can feel the static
The storm has broken, Heavens open"

Song: "Zorbing"
Artist: Stornoway

2010 Singles: "She's Always a Woman"

There's something about the tone and execution of this cover of a Billy Joel classic that continues to impress me. Joel wrote the song about his then-wife Elizabeth, who took over as his manager and was able to put his business affairs in order, so his version has an appropriate sentimentality to it. Naturally when you find a woman so amazing as to inspire you to write a song like this, you divorce her in 8-10 years; I wonder if she gets any publishing money for this song in her divorce settlement.

Fyfe Dangerfield eschews sentimentality for a breezy-but-soulful delivery that makes this less of a cover and more a remake. It's more style than substance, but that's completely appropriate--he didn't write the song, and it's highly likely that he's never even met Elizabeth Weber, so this totally works as far as I'm concerned. Too little would be detached, too much would be sappy, but he's found something that works.
"She can kill with a smile
She can wound with her eyes
She can ruin your faith with her casual lies"

Song: "She's Always a Woman"
Artist: Fyfe Dangerfield

2010 Singles: "Take Me Into Town"

Dr. Dog. If that doesn't tell you everything you need to know, you haven't been paying attention. This is their second song I'm including in the 2010 singles reminders.
"Well I've been talking to the dog for days
But you know it's just no use
She's sitting like a sphinx and I can't get to the truth"

Song: "Take Me Into Town"
Artist: Dr. Dog

2010 Singles: "Hollywood"

When I made this song of the day back in November, John wondered why the video didn't include Buble himself. THAT video wasn't embed-able (at the time), so I went with the lyrics video. Watching the Buble-included video now, I don't think I would have felt as good about the song had that been the video that got used. I like Buble (by the way, how do you get the little "not an umlaut" thing over the e?) but there's something about the various costumes (or just the Bieber one at the beginning) that has an aura of a John Mayer-esque douchiness.

Wait, is it misogynistic to use "douche" as a pejorative? And did Reggie Bush really not understand that "no homo" might be insulting to teh gayz? Nigger please. (BTW, who's his dad again? Cause he doesn't look like Jeb or George W. or Neil.)

Back to Buble: the "play different characters in the video" thing won Taylor Swift an MTV Video Music Award, which in turn caused Kanye West to interrupt her acceptance speech, which in turn caused a groundswell of sympathy votes which enabled her to win a Grammy for Album of the Year. So I expect big things for Buble coming out of this video. Also, is it just me (it usually is), or does he look a lot like dude from How I Met Your Mother in the car crash scene? (Tall dude, not unfunny dude or Neil Patrick Harris.)

"Well, remember when you're rich that you sold yourself for this
You'll be famous 'cause you're dead"

Song: "Hollywood"
Artist: Michael Buble

Song of the Day: "Ass on the Floor"

I close out 2010's songs of the day with another track from Last Train to Paris that I will, begrudgingly credit to Diddy-Dirty Money. In the (cough) highly unlikely event that Diddy changes his name in 2011, I will, of course, regret showing him a modicum of respect.

When I heard "Yeah Yeah (You Will)" I was instantly taken with it, and surprised at its Euro-disco feel. I don't mean to trivialize the things that triggered this album, and its musical themes, but I think it's safe to say "Diddy really likes Ibiza." This track starts with a more traditional hip hop sound thanks to Swizz Beatz (who is American), but in trying to described the music, "drum and bass" isn't really appropriate. It's like a marching band's snare drum is driving the song--for the purposes of this post, just start listening at 0:35.

Lyrically (yes, fuck you, I said "lyrically), the song provides key advice for your New Year's Eve plans: "When you're in the club, get your ass on the floor." If you go out to a party or nightclub tonight, dance. If you go to Club Couch (hey Melanie), try sitting on the floor in front of the couch--it's a totally different experience!

Since this comes so late in the year, I'm giving it the "singles" label, along with "song of the day" (because I know you care about my label taxonomy and its application), and all my "singles" labels get lyrics included. Employees of Andrews McMeel Publishing should stop reading now.
"You're the love of my life
But you hurt my heart twice
Now I'm drunker than a muthafucker
Trying to find my way back to your heart you muthafucker"

Song: "Ass on the Floor"
Artist: Diddy-Dirty Money/Swizz Beatz

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Singles: "Empire State of Mind"

This was a late 2009 release, but I didn't include it among my 2009 singles, so I'm making it eligible for 2010. Please remember to file all complaint forms in triplicate.

Jay-Z takes his swagger to 11 and proclaims himself the new Sinatra. I have no problem with that. I've been more and more impressed with Mr. Z over the past couple of years. One of these days I might even get an album.
"Catch me at the X with OG at a Yankee game
Shit, I made the Yankee hat more famous then a Yankee can"

Song: "Empire State of Mind"
Artist: Jay-Z/Alicia Keys

A date with N8

N8 Biehle 12/30/2010

Nathaniel something Biehle, that is. His look is obviously that of one whose midday nap has been disrupted so one can be paraded around in front of complete strangers. I look exactly the same way in this situation.

Oh, and parents were also present. Whatev.

A Venn diagram related to your genitals

(h\t Richard Smith who passed it along from... ?)

(Click image to embiggen.)

Song of the Day: "Bound to You"

The heart of the movie Burlesque is its music.

I actually have no idea if that's true, since I haven't gotten around to seeing it. But it provides a good introduction to the second of its 2 Golden Globe-nominated songs, this one by Christina Aguilera, so it has that certain needless running up and down every note within her vocal range something. Although not as bad as it's been in the past. Aguilera shares writing credits with Sia Furler (aka Sia, aka chick from Zero 7) and Samuel Dixon (aka I have no idea), so if the song wins, Aguilera wins. That's not true with Cher's song, but then she's Cher, she's already won.

Here's just one comment from the youtubes re: this song:
i remember sitting in the theatre and seeing and hearing christina sing this beautiful ballad and i was in another place wow so much emotion and feeling i almost cried i got chills!WOW!

Song: "Bound to You"
Artist: Christina Aguilera

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 Singles: "Dog Days Are Over"

To me this Florence + the Machines song is from 2009, but it has been pretty ubiquitous lately. And Florence Welch has got a fantastic voice, so what the hell, it's now a 2010 single!
"Leave all your love and your longing behind
You can't carry it with you if you want to survive"

Song: "Dog Days Are Over"
Artist: Florence + the Machine

2010 Singles: "My Time"

A little more math rock, courtesy of Minus the Bear (teehee, love their name).
"It's what you want
It's what you need
I'm just the same baby"

Song: "My Time"
Artist: Minus the Bear

2010 Singles: "Dance Floor"

Picking up a few from early in the year that I missed. First up, power pop meets dance music with Apples in Stereo...
"The dance floor
Isn't there no more
But my body's still moving"

Song: "Dance Floor"
Artist: Apples in Stereo

Glenn Greenwald on Wikileaks

My go-to guy for all things related to civil rights, is the go-to guy on the Wikileaks controversy. Stay current with him at Salon here or follow him on Twitter here.

In his recap of an appearance on CNN, Greenwald happened to summarize concisely why I like to call George W. Bush a war criminal/criminal against peace (article here):
[Bush's Homeland Security and Terrorist adviser] "Fran Townsend was a high-level national security official for a President who destroyed another nation with an illegal, lie-fueled military attack that killed well over 100,000 innocent people, created a worldwide torture regime, illegally spied on his own citizens without warrants, disappeared people to CIA 'black sites,' and erected a due-process-free gulag where scores of knowingly innocent people were put in cages for years."
What he doesn't say (but I will), is that Dick Cheney did all those things, AND with his Halliburton stock and stock options, he got wealthier doing it. Which is why I call Dick Cheney a war criminal/criminal against peace AND a war profiteer.

"Am I strong enough to see it through"

Happy birthday to Yvonne Ellison.

Song of the Day: "Shine"

Melissa Etheridge won an Oscar for Original Song a few years ago, for the documentary An Inconvenient Truth. The producer or director of that movie is back with Waiting for Superman, and John Legend's in the Oscar race with this original song.

Song: "Shine"
Artist: John Legend

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 Singles: "Fuck You"

I don't remember writing this song with Cee Lo Green, but I must have, right?

This one goes out to all my friends in Customer Service at Andrews McMeel Publishing.
"If I was richer, I'd still with with ya
Ain't that some shit?"

Song: "Fuck You"
Artist: Cee Lo Green

2010 Singles: "I Want the World to Stop"

More from Belle & Sebastian's Write About Love. Scots!
"Let me step out of my shell
I'm wrapped in sheets of milky winter disorder"

Song: "I Want the World to Stop"
Artist: Belle & Sebastian

2010 Singles: "Men Will Do Anything"

Yes, more from Here Lies Love. I'm glad the album hasn't become mainstream, since I can make this Crystal Pepsi's signature song, and not have to fight the other drag queens over it.
"What's the matter with me baby, am I not good enough for you?
If you prefer that slut okay, I'll tell you what we'll do"

Song: "Men Will Do Anything"
Artist: Alice Russell/David Byrne/Fatboy Slim

2010 Singles: "How I Left the Ministry"

John Darnielle from the Mountain Goats making his second appearance, here as part of The Extra Lens.
"There was one thing
I found that I couldn't help thinking
As they pried me
Free with the jaws of life"

Song: "How I Left the Ministry"
Artist: The Extra Lens

2010 Singles: "Ready to Start"

I feel like I've been posting singles for a while now, and I'm just getting to Arcade Fire? I'm surprised at how much I love The Suburbs. Its nomination for Album of the Year at the Grammys gives me something to root for, although they'll probably be relegated to a win in the Alternative Album category... still, they'll be doing better than Liza.
"I would rather be wrong
Than live in the shadows of your song"

Song: "Ready to Start"
Artist: Arcade Fire

2010 Singles: "Cadence"

This song is my first exposure to Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band, I can tell you more when the album comes in; it's in my library queue. And I think this qualifies as math rock.
"Building in your suitcase
Is the evidence of an escape"

Song: "Cadence"
Artist: Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band

Sadly true

Today's Dilbert (click to embiggen).

Happy Birthday Stan Lee

He is a mega comic book dude. Mega.

And part of that is the depth of what he's done. And part of that is the breadth of what he's done. And part of that is length of time he's been doing this (that) shit: his first story as a writer was in 1941. It's unclear to me how involved he is currently in the myriad of projects he's started, but I think it's safe to say that at 88 he's almost as active as my Nana.

[By the way, all of this is brazenly cribbed from his Wikipedia entry (here).] Lee can be credited with evolving the super hero comic genre from a "white hat" hero simplicity to a more sophisticated mythology. After DC's Silver Age launched and the Justice League became a hot title, Lee was assigned to create a new super hero team for Marvel. His wife pushed him to play with writing styles he liked.
Lee gave "his superheroes a flawed humanity, a change from the ideal archetypes that were typically written for pre-teens. His heroes could have bad tempers, melancholy fits, vanity, greed, etc. They bickered amongst themselves, worried about paying their bills and impressing girlfriends, and even were sometimes physically ill. Before him, most superheroes were idealistically perfect people with no serious, lasting problems."
With Lee as Editor-in-Chief, Marvel in the 60s is compared to the French New Wave in terms of how radically the style of storytelling changed. But where the New Wave movement shifted power in the film world from studios to directors, Lee the editor and publisher put/kept Marvel's interests ahead of its writers and artists (and if it sounds like I'm being critical of that, in fact I'm affirming that dude did the right thing--it's something of an emotional issue that people who create classic characters like Batman and Dazzler don't own those characters, the giant publishing company does... no shit, you mean the people who hired you to do a job expect you to do that job? you don't hear about people at the GMC factory complaining that they don't own all those pick-up trucks they helped make).

Granted, putting Marvel's interest first effectively put Stan Lee first, since he has been THE face of Marvel for longer than I have been alive (which, officially, is only like 32 years, with an undisclosed margin of error). But I think Lee personifying the Marvel Comics universe is actually inspired--I don't know if it's something he would have done any way, or if it made sense to him, from an editorial perspective, to give readers someone with some authority who could listen to their complaints and suggestions. There are 7 or 8 names of people from the 70s and 80s who wielded a lot of creative control in the comics business (Jim Shooter, Julius Schwartz, Marv Wolfman, and Roy Thomas come to mind, but I'm sure I'm ignoring some really obvious names) and I'd bet a substantial amount of money that 95% of comics fans can only really tell you about Lee. Even if all Lee did was put his face next to the work of 5 or 6 anonymous writers and editors who operated in a uniform style, that's genius enough, if only to serve as a lightning rod for bitter fanboys. Not that I'm bitter, or a fanboy... hey, let's watch some movie clips!

Happy birthday dude! Rock on!

Song of the Day: "Please Don't Follow Me"

One of 8 or 9 original songs James Murphy wrote and recorded for the original soundtrack to Greenberg (he also wrote the movie's score, and just to confuse me in terms of which hat he's wearing, there's also an LCD Soundsystem song on the soundtrack). When this song came on, late in the movie, I was fascinated enough to use Shazam to identify the song, oblivious to the fact that I just got the soundtrack from the library last week. I just needed to confirm that it was an Anthony and the Johnsons song. (It wasn't, it was James Murphy, somehow that's super fascinating to me, but if you find all this tedious, just click play.)

There's something about this song that makes me think I've been too quick to dismiss the movie. I hate that, being forced to reconsider things--why couldn't I be more like George W. Bush (war criminal/yadda) and just declare any rash conclusion I draw as final? Having his family's CIA connections would be cool too (you know his daddy assassinated John F. Kennedy [or was it Barbara on the grassy knoll? with those shoulders she could handle that caliber rifle with no problem... hmm, if something happens to me Barbara Bush killed JFK]). Now are you ready to listen to the song?

Song: "Please Don't Follow Me"
Artist: James Murphy

Monday, December 27, 2010

2010 Singles: "Tightrope"

Janelle Monae opened for Of Montreal, and she ALSO suffered both from the venue's shitty acoustics, and from wasted effort on needless theatricality. Seriously, 3 to 5 minutes setting the stage for a robot persona traveling back through time, Cindy Mayweather (shit, that name I can remember?! are you kidding me), and I think we forgot all about that within the next 15 minutes. I have no problem with people aspiring to be the next Ziggy Stardust, but maybe they need to listen to Chris Gaines again before they try. Just a thought.

Monae's The ArchAndroid is one of the best reviewed albums this year (wait, crap, technically it's The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III) so I think we're getting on thin ice), and Metacritic ranks it as the 33rd best reviewed album in the history of that site with a normalized score of 91 (here), so I expected an Album of the Year nomination for it (along with Rosanne Cash's fantastic The List, with a "generally favorable" score of 79). I hadn't considered the epic mediocrity of Katy Perry (Metacritic score of 52); thanks Grammy voters.

I instantly fell in love with the song. The video is great and not embed-able (seriously, Janelle, can you set up a proper Vevo channel?), so you'll never know unless you make an effort. I tried to figure out what it was that was so unique but familiar. It's Big Boi from Outkast--it's got some of the best aspects of "Hey Ya" (and I'm not suggesting it's derivative). And the girl tore this song up live.
"When you get elevated,
They love it or they hate it
You dance up on them haters"

Song: "Tightrope"
Artist: Janelle Monae/Big Boi

2010 Singles: "Coquet Coquette"

I don't think this was a song of the day, and I remember Leland sent it to me for just that reason (without realizing that YRock plays the shit out of Of Montreal--it's how I first heard the band: Athens band, played in Philly, listened to online in Portland OR, makes total sense).

I did actually see them live this year. More disappointing than I'm willing to actually admit (the sound at the venue totally sucks, and their hyper-sexual antics would have been really risque back in 1994, but really Kevin, if you wanna blow the hot dancer in the jock strap, none of us are going to be scandalized, sorry... try again in Utah, it might work there).

That being said, they do put together some really interesting albums, with crazily elaborate songs (arrangements and lyrics). Something tells me listening to their music will help with your S.A.T. scores (it's now called "Critical Reading" and not "Verbal"). For example, "coquet" is a verb, and "coquette" is a noun. I believe the song translates to "flirty flirt" but then I do better at the math stuff.
"I don't want to catch you with some other guy's face under your eyelids
Something must be wrong, you give me emotional artifacts that can find no purchase"

Song: "Coquet Coquette"
Artist: Of Montreal

2010 Singles: "Winter Winds"

I'm a little tired of "Little Lion Man" even if I am happy that Mumford & Sons are getting a lot of airplay. Somehow it's getting played at the right variety of outlets that it feels ubiquitous EVEN DURING CHRISTMAS MUSIC SEASON. I ought to be sick of Mariah Carey's new Christmas album, but instead I keep hearing "Little Lion Man."

So here's a song that isn't "Little Lion Man."
"We'll be washed and buried one day my girl
And the time we were given will be left for the world"

Song: "Winter Winds"
Artist: Mumford & Sons

2010 Singles: "Always" (a different one)

I didn't realize there were 2 different songs titled "Always" on my songs of the day list. The do a nice job of balancing each other out, or maybe I'm just trying too hard to write something for each and every song. I don't actually know anything about the band (aside from their name, Junip).

How about I let the song speak for itself? (Oh, that's a good one.)

"Turn a deaf ear no matter what they might say
Always, always"

Song: "Always"
Artist: Junip

2010 Singles: "Dark and Lonely Night"

I've mentioned how much I love Teenage Fanclub's Shadows album (duh, they're Scottish). It's their 10th studio album and they're 20 years into their career, so they, along with Trashcan Sinatras, are my "early 90s Scot flashback happy thing" for the year.

"Dark and Lonely Night" isn't even ON Shadows, it's on the something something version of Shadows that you can only get from either iTunes or Amazon, and not from Amazon or iTunes. Let me just speak on behalf of ALL former crazed b-side collectors turned middle aged people who WANT to be more engaged with music: QUIT IT. If you want me to buy your album, just give me a fucking album. Don't make me compare the track listings at different sites to figure out which version of an album will satisfy the complete-ist in me. Because Paul Weller has salted that earth (go see how many actual albums The Jam had, then look at how many "greatest hits" albums The Jam has)--I adore my Style Council boxed set, but it also mocks a good amount of time, money and effort I put into getting every fucking piece of vinyl he put out. So bands with core fans over 40, QUIT IT. Make it easier to keep up with your music, and we'll thank you for it. Maybe we'll even buy your music.

This song has a strange formality to the lyrical style (The Avett Brothers had something similar with "I and Love and You"), and I'm not sure what it is about the song that caught me and keeps me. But it's still got me.
"I have held you in the morning bed your sleeping body I do know
Only you could cure the pain and suffering that I do undergo"

Song: "Dark and Lonely Night"
Artist: Teenage Fanclub

2010 Singles: "We Should Go Home Together"

Hey, I almost forgot about this song. That would have been a shame kinda sad. I can't explain why something like this, that's so excessively pop (hyper-pop, as it were) is perfectly okay with me, while I cringe at Katy Perry. Maybe it's because I haven't had to endure Le Kid 4 to 5 times a day, every day, for the past 3 years.
"We should go home
I can see it in your eyes"

Song: "We Should Go Home Together"
Artist: Le Kid

Notes on Greenberg

5 or 6 months ago, I really wanted to see Greenberg. Noah Baumbach's Kicking and Screaming is an all-time favorite movie; and Mr. Jealousy, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zassou, and The Squid and the Whale each have moments of greatness. I didn't get through Margot at the Wedding, but I'm sure it was my ADD (oooh, shiny).

Either Greenberg perfectly captures the awkward state of a man with no self-awareness and poor social skills (SEE ALSO: my life), OR this is a completely joyless movie. It might be both, but if it's the former, then the later is justified. Possibly. My life isn't joyless despite my lack of self-awareness and poor social skills, because I HAVE DOGS! Well, actually, they have me.

Someone addressed the litany of songs in contention for the Original Song Oscar this year, and James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem (I've taken to calling him LCDude for short) wrote several that are eligible. I read that "People" was the track being campaigned for, although the track that I noticed enough to tag with Shazam (greatest app ever? quite possibly) was "Please Don't Follow Me" which will be tomorrow's song of the day. It sounds a helluva lot like Anthony and the Johnsons.

I really don't see it passing the "bake off" round the Music Branch has for song candidates. Members of the Music Branch who want to participate in the nomination process attend a single session where they see a 3-minute clip of the song as it's used in the context of the movie, whether sung by an animated mouse, used in an elaborate dance number, or playing over the end credits, how it's used in the movie can influence a song's shot at a nomination and a win (how crazy!). There are 41 songs in contention this year, so it won't be too long of a day--if you add 5 minutes to consider and score each song while the coordinators queue up the next song (8 minutes per song) you're looking at 5 and a half hours. Add in lunch and breaks, and it's a full day, but I'm sure there's a gift bag involved.

Where was I? Oh yeah, none of these songs are gonna get past that. [UPDATE: And I was right, since none of the movie's songs are on the list of 41, duh.]

Maybe there's a longshot for Original Screenplay (Baumbach's wife, Jennifer Jason Leigh shares a writing credit, so it would be cool for her to finally get a nomination), and I did like Rhys Ifans from a "he was a good supporting actor" perspective, but there's nothing showy to the role and the movie's not a priority for its studio, so he won't get any awards love. I mean, clearly, since we're like 60% through the season and he hasn't been mentioned. but dude did good.

I'm not sure how I feel about Ben Stiller's performance. He will also get no awards love, which is what this post is about, so I get to take this offline for deeper thought. You're welcome.

2010 Singles: "Digging for Something"

I missed the Superchunk boat back in the whenever it was (mid-90s? late 80s?). I associate them around grunge but not actually grunge (like Galaxie 500 or Guided by Voices, who I only discovered in the last 2 years). And I think either Jill and/or Becky is/are (s) real fan(s). Or maybe it's you.

Regardless, this song kicked my ass (in a good way), so rock on!
"Everybody in the half-light out on the lawn
They were kicking up dust 'til they were gone"

Song: "Digging for Something"
Artist: Superchunk

2010 Singles: "Crazy"

I'm not sure if "anthemic" (not anemic) is appropriate for this song. It has some of the trappings of an anthem, but it's also straight out of the James playbook (meant in a good way). It's not a radical change of style, or remixed, or guest starring a rapper, so it's fresh but comfortable. Oh god, that's totally what people who buy "greatest hits" albums say, isn't it?
"This is the face that I was born with
In a race I can't keep up with"

Song: "Crazy"
Artist: James

2010 Singles: "Write About Love"

I got my ticket to see Belle & Sebastian about 10 days before the concert. I passed on the presale weeks before, figuring I wouldn't be in the mood to go so close to another concert and my trip to Louisiana. But apparently my exercising gave me something called "energy" and I decided to search for a single ticket.

I got a front row center seat less than 2 weeks before the concert.

Normally this would be a good thing, but while I consider myself a solid Belle & Sebastian fan, I certainly don't have many (if any) of their B-sides. And they are a total B-side, super collector, type of band. So I felt like maybe there was someone more deserving who should have been there.

Concert karma, I've lost out before. So fuck you to Ticketbastards for not making this seat available to the fans who HAD TO BUY A TICKET AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE. I talked to 3 folks on the front row who paid quite a bit to scalpers to get there because they loved the band so much.

Turns out I got over concert karma pretty quickly, in part because of my space/density issues (the front row is quite spacious).

And I'm glad I stayed up front. The show was fantastic, and lucky you, you can see what it was like courtesy of their Christmas Spectacular live in Glasgow (here) courtesy of NPR (I'm going to miss them when their funds are cut off). The video quality is excellent, although dude sounds a little ragged from the touring. Still, it's an impressive group (they're the white Earth, Wind and Fire), so enjoy! My show didn't have any Christmas songs, by the way. It was October.

This track features Carey Mulligan (Oscar nominee from An Education, a movie I rather enjoyed).
"I hate my job, I'm working way too much
(Every day I'm stuck in an office)"

Song: "Write About Love"
Artist: Belle & Sebastian/Carey Mulligan

2010 Singles: "Flash a Hungry Smile"

Mystery Jets. They are British and this song is the first time I'd heard of them. Serotonin is their fourth album. Now you know.
"Have you heard the birds and bees?
They've all caught STDs"

Song: "Flash a Hungry Smile"
Artist: Mystery Jets

2010 Singles: "All Summer"

This track, from Kid Cudi, dude from Vampire Weekend and Best Coast, is brought to you by Converse. Not sure why, but I don't have a problem with it--they're working with an interesting array of musicians that are teaming up for new songs (Bernard Sumner, Hot Chip and Hot City teamed recently), and... um, I got nothing else. I did finally see a commercial that used this song, so it made a little more sense. Thank you MTV Video Music Awards.

"Everybody chillin' we ain't worried 'bout shit
Everybody chillin' we ain't worried 'bout a thing"

Song: "All Summer"
Artist: Kid Cudi/Rostam Batmanglij/Best Coast

Happy Birthday Sarah Vowell

She's best known as the voice of Violet from The Incredibles, but her day job is writer. She's cut from the same kind of narrative style as David Sedaris, even if the content is markedly different.

I am pretty sure I learned more American history by reading Assassination Vacation than I did through high school and college. Which is MORE about me never reading or studying, than it is about her packing that book full of information. She was nice enough to make it really interesting, although if I never read the text book, how do I know it wasn't interesting?


The Wordy Shipmates gave me a much more compelling look at the pilgrims than anything I got in elementary school. And I'm pretty sure it's accurate (unlike, say, a book by The Onion or The Daily Show).

Happy birthday dude! Rock on!

Song of the Day: "Coming Home"

It's in the Oscar hunt this year, following in the footprints of "The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart from last year.
  • Alcoholic country musician on the downside of a career? Check. 
  • Brash young upstart surpassing the one who gave them their start? Check. 
  • Sung by the multi-talented star of the film? Check. 
  • Tim McGraw? Wait, he's only in this one.

The music and lyrics are by Bob DiPiero, Tom Douglas, Hillary Lindsey and Troy Verges, which means one of them is out of luck if the song picks up an Oscar nomination next month. Which I think is a pretty reasonable prediction.

Song: "Coming Home"
Artist: Gwyneth Paltrow

The People Who Mattered in 2010

The Onion's recap of the year's most important is, as most things from The Onion are, brilliant! From Glenn Beck to Barack Obama, see the whole list here.
Every single day of 2010, Beck's quiet words of humility and reason have touched the hearts of all Americans, healing countless wounds and elevating the level of our national discourse. Indeed, just as Martin Luther King, Jr.—to whom Beck has so aptly and correctly compared himself—once showed the nation the way forward to compassion and civility, so have Beck's stunningly eloquent broadcasts, inspiring political rallies, and bestselling books reassured every living citizen that we are all joined by the same ever-beating heart of kindness, and that gentler roads lie ahead if we could all just settle down, lower our voices, and focus on solving the actual, meaningful problems of our world together.

Barack Obama, the first black president, proved to millions this year that he is either trying his best to lead the nation during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, or he is the modern-day incarnation of Adolph Hitler. One of the two.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

2010 Singles: "Bright Lit Blue Sky"

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti's second song in my singles reminder list, and it sounds totally different from "Round and Round." And I love it.
"Why am I so far from the ground?
My voice is quiet but my thoughts are loud"

Song: "Bright Lit Blue Sky"
Artist: Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti

2010 Singles: "Beauty in the World"

Speaking of songs for future commercials, this isn't an ad for Target, but it easily could be (unless it is and that's why it seems to perfect).

It's another track from Macy Gray's The Sellout. Holler!
"Shake your booty boys and girls for the beauty in the world
Pick your diamond pick your pearl there is beauty in the world"

Song: "Beauty in the World"
Artist: Macy Gray

2010 Singles: "Tiger"

I'd like to think dedicating this song to my coworkers' Hood to Coast relay team helped them finish the race. So I do. I have really high self esteem.

Maximum Balloon is actually David Sitak from TV on the Radio, working in a Mark Ronson-esque manner. The singer is Aku, from Dragons of Zynth. I am totally cribbing off Wikipedia and dude's personal site. (CUE THE RAINBOW AND MUSIC: "The more you know!")
"Let go of everything that you know
Don't hold back what you feel"

Song: "Tiger"
Artist: Maximum Balloon/Aku

2010 Singles: "Bang Bang Bang"

Mark Ronson and something with some other folks.

Also I have no idea what the song is actually about.
"Feathers, I'm plucking feathers
One by one, by one
No more skylarking"

Song: "Bang Bang Bang"
Artist: Mark Ronson & the Business International/Q-Tip/MNDR

2010 Singles: "Come With Me"

When I posted this as song of the day back in August, I noted it's potential for use in a future television commercial. I stand by that.

And I love the song.
"If I could bring you to my home
I wish you come I know you would"

Song: "Come With Me"
Artist: ceo

"... and remember, you can make a difference."

In 1981, 6-year old Adam Walsh disappeared from a Hollywood, FL department store after being away from his mom for 7 minutes. 16 days later his severed head was found in a ditch more than 100 miles from his home.

Since then, his dad, John Walsh, has worked to protect children through the Adam Walsh Child Resource Center, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and by helping craft and lobby for national legislation to increase the awareness of convicted sex offenders as they re-enter society.

I'm sure some of this legislation may go too far--we're a "not in my backyard" society, so naturally any place is too close to a school, mall, park, or, you know, road a child may ride on; I'm not really trying to defend convicted sex offenders, just trying to cut them a little slack as they try to re-enter society. Like women who have an abortion, maybe confronting them with shouting and signs isn't the best approach.

But this is about Walsh, a man who faced a tragedy and helped countless others.

As the host of America's Most Wanted, Walsh has been on TV for over 20 years (more than 1,000 episodes). And it's funnier than The Simpsons. Well, just as funny. AMW has helped capture more than 1,100 fugitives, suspects and other "elements." I used to joke that unless the fugitive was in my living room, bathroom or kitchen while the show was on, I wasn't going to be of much use to them. 1,100+ episodes later, and that seems like it could happen at some point.

For turning the tragedy of you loss into help for others, happy birthday dude! Rock on.

A hero emerges

(h/t Paul Elias at A/P via Salon)

Okay, awesomeness: dude quit his job, and now makes a living suing spammers... and winning!!! Click here for details!

It's the feel good story of the year. Unless something better comes along in the next 5 days.

Or the "don't ask/don't tell" repeal is, one of those 2.

Wow, I apparently don't get The Social Network

Back in October my "notes on" post (here) thought it might have a shot a Adapted Screenplay and Editing.

Since then it has received Best Picture awards from critics associations in Boston, Washington DC, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and the National Board of Review which is really just a group, but they always announce first so we all dutifully include them. Director David Fincher and writer Aaron Sorkin have been similarly feted.

I just don't get it. It's a solid movie, one I enjoyed, but it's getting the kind of unanimity in accolades that's fairly rare. LA and NYC often disagree with each other, or throw a bone to a second film by honoring its director (the movie Carlos was runner up in the top categories from LA, you remember Carlos, right). I thought for sure one of them would have said Toy Story 3-D.

So expect a big chunk of love for The Social Network come Oscar nomination time. I think that will carry Jesse Eisenberg into a Best Actor nomination. I like Eisenberg's work there a lot, but I thought acting like me (smug, know-it-all, poor social skills) might not translate well to Oscar voters, but good news: MY PERSONALITY DEFECTS COUNT AS AN OSCAR-ELIGIBLE HANDICAP (like My Left Foot or Children of a Lesser God or Philadelphia). I need to figure out a ribbon for this.

When asked what I thought should be named Best Picture this year, I didn't have a good answer. I think I saw stuff I liked, but I'm not sure. Maybe that's what's happening. I know back in 98, LA Confidential carried nearly every critics group only to hit an iceberg called Titanic. I don't think Black Swan is it, though.

Here's what I am sensing: Colin Firth, Best Actor, The King's Speech (biopic, physical disability, British, long overdue for an Oscar, JUSTMISSED last year)--he's on a roll. James Franco (127 Hours) and Jeff Bridges (True Grit) are looking solid. And Eisenberg.

Natalie Portman (Black Swan) and Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone) are out strong for Best Actress. Annette Bening (The Kids are All Right) is ignoring my advice and running as as lead, so I kinda want Hillary Swank (Conviction) to grab her nomination (oh yes, I can be a bitch) but that seems unlikely. Rabbit Hole earned Cynthia Nixon a Tony for a really dramatic role of a mother who loses her child (like died, not like at the mall), and Nicole Kidman might not totally fuck it up in the film version, putting her in contention.

On the Supporting side of the equation, both Melissa Leo and Amy Adams are receiving glowing reviews for The Fighter and appear to both be heading for nominations. Newcomer Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) is a lead role running in supporting, which I think helps her considerably (Oscar voters overrode this ploy from Kate Winslet a few years ago, and rightly so, but Steinfeld's youth makes this a little more credible). Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdon), an actress I've never heard of in a movie I've never heard of, is getting a lot of critical acclaim, so I hope that means 1) that's she's genuinely good, and B) that gets her a nomination. Mila Kunis and Barbara Hershey have both been mentioned as possible for Black Swan. I feel like Kunis is stronger for a nomination, but Hershey would be stronger to win (although from this list, Melissa Leo may be the one to beat). Helena Bonham Carter is out there, in The King's Speech, but her inability to get more than 1 nomination before undermines her chances for some reason. Of course if Julianne Moore downgrades her role in The Kids are All Right, she's suddenly ahead. Crap, Marion Cotillard, Inception, I said her name, so that counts.

Christian Bale (The Fighter) has the makings of the early favorite to win at the Oscars. Geoffrey Rush (The King's Speech) and Jeremy Renner (The Town) are strong for nominations. I'm not sure if Mark Ruffalo can pull an Oscar nomination out of The Kids are All Right, but that movie is doing well in awards season so maybe. I was unimpressed with Justin Timberlake in The Social Network, so that probably means he'll win. And Michael Douglas is SUPPORTING in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps... and he has cancer. Since I didn't think he deserved an Oscar for Wall Street, it will be really awesome for me if he wins TWO for the same role (unless, of course, he's really good in this one... like Mo'Nique good).

I also think Red has a chance at sneaking a nominee into one of the supporting categories.

RIP Teena Marie

She passed away at 54, after complications from a seizure.

Rest in peace.

[UPDATE: I'm including this from CNN. She was a woman. She was. Truly.]

Cunt du Jour: Ann HART Coulter

I know naming Ann HART Coulter as a cunt du jour might seem like me naming Midge dog of the day, but you might be surprised to learn that I actually go out of my way to avoid her. I gave up 10+ years watching Today to avoid her 3 or 4 appearances a year. As a whatever-the-fuck-she-is (pundit? policy expert? human-sized novelty vagina?), she says or writes things that I have trouble rebutting. That frustrates me. I know she's wrong when she says things like "9/11 widows are harpies" but I lack physical evidence, like non-harpy DNA evidence from each of those widows.

So I avoid. I keeps my high bloods under control (that plus Dynacirc CR).

Anyway, I didn't go looking for Ann HART Coulter when I saw this (thanks a fucking lot, Towleroad).
"People who are promoting this could not care less about the military. They would like to destroy the military and so it's a win-win for them, either it works, which it won't, or it doesn't work and 'yay the military is wrecked. When we're putting girls and gays in the military we are not taking the military seriously."--Ann HART Coulter

First, let me make sure we're all clear that she's saying women in the military are undermining military readiness. Got that?

Anyway, this was good, really. It was revelatory, in fact. It was with this that I realized why I can't rebut Ann HART Coulter. Because Ann HART Coulter is making shit up, and there's just no fucking way to rebut someone who is batshit crazy.

Here's my official rebuttal: PROVE IT, CUNT.

Seriously. She asserts that everyone (EVERYONE!!!) working to end "don't ask/don't tell" wants to destroy the military.


Olive drab, maybe, but no, she's saying the WHOLE MILITARY. Yeah, cunt, we want to join a club to get it closed. God she is clueless.

What does "destroy the military" even look like?

Normally I'd point to all kinds of empirical evidence of other countries whose military forces have effectively integrated both girls and gays. In fact, I think most Americans who aren't cunts think that girls thing is basically a non-issue here. So normally I'd use this kind of logic, but today I don't have to.

Here's today's rebuttal: PROVE IT. (Sorry, PROVE IT CUNT.)

Give me one factual piece of evidence that suggests any kind of coordinated effort by opponents of "don't ask/don't tell" (like the Joint Chiefs of Staff, why would they want to destroy the military, that's their job) to destroy the military.



(I really do try to avoid that word, and I really REALLY try to avoid it with Ann HART Coulter because I don't want to seem misogynistic, but I checked with my lesbian neighbor and she said, "oh no, honey, have at it" and she's black, so I think that gives me bonus points or something.)

2010 Singles: "From Above"

The collaboration between Nick Hornby and Ben Folds, Lonely Avenue, was a mixed bag (although it's possible I haven't properly listened to it, just shuffling through songs instead of start to finish). I really took to "From Above" though, and the lyrics really are compelling (a word I'm sure I overuse). It's the antithesis of a love song, the "never even thought to fall in love" song.
"Just this vague notion that something was wrong
A naked absence, a phantom limb
An itch that could never be scratched"

2010 Singles: "Get Outta My Way"

I was going to go out on a limb and suggest that Kylie's Aphrodite doesn't have some kind of overarching theme, like a midlife crisis, a ticking biological clock or a break-up. I checked out its Wikipedia entry (here) and I was wrong. It's a celebration of her dance floor roots! I'm not sure if that's a theme, a rut, or just playing to your base, but either way, here's more of the same!
"You’re getting boring you’re oh so boring
And I don’t recognize the zombie you’ve turned into"

Song: "Get Outta My Way"
Artist: Kylie Minogue

2010 Singles: "Wishing He Was Dead"

The retro girl group sound is a good one, but the lyrics are a little more timeless than that. And everyone, once in a while, needs to have a song like this handy...
"If I could snap that neck, that broken record trainwreck
I might feel okay"

Song: "Wishing He Was Dead"
Artist: The Like

2010 Singles: "The End of the World is Bigger Than Love"

If I told you this song was the Ray Conniff Singers, and you couldn't see the name "Jenz Lekman," you might actually believe me. Which gives the idea for a scam with almost no financial benefit.

But back to this song--Lekman is an old school troubadour (the musical kind, not the 12th Century lyrical poets) whose songs use the immediate and intimate to speak about universal themes.
"Tried to call you for an explanation
Of the distance to the star constellations"

Song: "The End of the World is Bigger Than Love"
Artist: Jens Lekman

2010 Singles: "How Your Heart Is Wired"

I haven't gotten the recent Bell X1, Blue Lights on the Runway--I think it's officially a 2009 release--but this was an August 2010 song of the day. I don't know that it will make a final list, it's a good song, but lacks any obvious hooks and many of its charms are subtle.
"My tongue is scaling the north face of your neck and we're glaring like warriors"

Song: "How Your Heart is Wired"
Artist: Bell X1

2010 Singles: "If You Want It"

Add OMD to the list of bands whose return in 2010 was a pleasant surprise. Even if their similes are left wanting.
"Like a bomb that's ticking endlessly,
Can't you hear me calling"

Song: "If You Want It"
Artist: OMD

2010 Singles: "River Deep, Mountain High"

It's also Phil Spector's birthday, and he considers this to be his best song (cowritten by Spector, with Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry), so we start with Tina Turner's original version (the song is credited as Ike & Tina Turner but Phil Spector considered Ike too controlling, so Ike was never around during the song's recording... "this kettle sure is black, let's get it out of here"-the pot).

While I love teh Glee (sic), it's driven primarily by the campy dialogue and not much else. The music can be fun, but the characterization of their song selection as "stuff from a drag queen's iPod" reflects a solid amount of self-awareness about the show and a great example of the dialogue I do love so much. Also their auto-tune really does wear on me. While I won't pretend there's not a little auto-tuning on this, there's a real urgency to this cover, and Amber Riley and Naya Rivera knock this shit out of the park (sports metaphor).

A special thanks to whomever decided to give Naya and Heather Morris more to do this season. It's also great that "other Asian" has a name and everything, but Brittney easily has the funniest dialogue every episode. And Santana takes "bitch" to 11, which is always fun (I can't find the quote, but her glee at having a Breadsticks manager fired for refusing to bring her more breadsticks was good).

Song: "River Deep, Mountain High"
Artist: Amber Riley/Naya Rivera

Congratulations to Cheryl Palin

Hey, I'm as accurate as she is.

(h/t to Towleroad)

I'm sure this is just more of the "lame stream" media, which is any media that points out the variety of ways that she's a fucking idiot. So it's a really vast collection.

"Our people once were warriors..."

It's Temuera Morrison's birthday, and while you probably know Jango Fett, you probably don't know the actor who played Jango Fett (father of Bobba Fett, but more importantly the "original" being from which all Imperial Stormtroopers were cloned).

And yes, we DID watch episodes 2 and 3 on Christmas Eve, why do you ask?

But I know Morrison from Lee Tamahori's 1994 film Once Were Warriors, a powerful and depressing tale of a poor Maori family (it's one of those movies that's incredibly good, and that I never want to see again, like Schindler's List). Morrison is fantastic, and even better is Rena Owen, who gave one of the best performances that year. If you're in the mood for a fantastic, but unsettling movie, it's 94% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes. You've been warned.

I was going to lament that while Morrison gets to be Jango Fett for the rest of his life, Owen got no such legacy. But I was wrong. Because not only is Rena Owen the voice of Taun Wee in Episode II: Attack of the Clones (no idea and I just watched it), she's ALSO Nee Alavar in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (no idea and I just watched it).

Happy birthday to Morrison. And kudos to whomever at Lucas that saw Once Were Warriors.

Happy Birthday Fred Schepsi

In one of those random weird memories from sometime in the late 70s, I remember Siskel & Ebert enthusing about The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, one of director Fred Schepisi's first feature films. Never saw it (give me a break, I was 11 or 12, and I'm pretty sure it didn't play the Lilburn $1 theater, and also it wasn't Star Wars [sorry, it wasn't Episode IV: A New Hope, nerds]). And since then I've been super busy, just not enough time for a 108 minute movie--that's over 6,000 seconds.

Here's a movie of his I have seen: Roxanne. If I were to allocate credit for the movie's brilliance, it would probably go largely to Steve Martin (a good 70%), but that might undermine this birthday post. Martin was robbed of an Adapted Screenplay Oscar nomination (and probably deserved a Lead Actor nomination as well). You know what was nominated that year? My Life as a Dog... he never once turned into a dog. Fail.

But Roxanne is a sweet, smart and inspired update of Cyrano de Bergerac, and it's so good that even Daryl Hannah is good (well, not "good" but "in this movie").

He helmed the HBO miniseries adaptation of Empire Falls, Richard Russo's Pulitzer Prize winning novel (yes, I'm totally cribbing from Wikipedia). Paul Newman does a great job playing Russo rascals (SEE ALSO: Nobody's Fool), but there's not much remarkable about the mini-series (10 Emmy nominations, including 1 for Ed Harris, but only Newman won, despite being on HBO, which is synonymous with "you win an Emmy"), although Helen Hunt can join the list of talented actors who are no longer allowed to do accents.

I was thinking about his film Last Orders the other day (I saw it on the cable listings or something, it didn't just come to me for this post)--I never saw it, but its fantastic cast (Michael Caine, Helen Fucking Mirren, Tom Courtney, Ray Winstone and Bob Hoskins) suggests it could be like Red, without all the shooting.

But my favorite of his movies is Six Degrees of Separation. And credit where credit's due, a good 50% of the brilliance of the movie belongs to playwright Martin Guare, the story is compelling but also chock full of some of the funniest fucking dialog in forever (granted, it's a really dry humor, so factor that in). In addition to Oscar nominee Stockard Channing, there's Donald Sutherland, Ian McKellen, Richard Masur, Mary Beth Hurt, Bruce Davison, Heather Graham, Anthony Michael Hall, Anthony Rapp, J.J. Abrams* and was one of the first movies of Will Smith. Will Smith heeded the advice of Denzel Washington and refused to be filmed kissing another man DESPITE THE FACT THAT HE TOOK THE PART OF A GAY MAN IN A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE. So Denzel Washington is homophobic, and Will Smith is a diva. And even without the kiss, it's still a good movie. (And to Smith's credit, he's since said that he regrets that decision. But that's not to imply the Will Smith is gay and closeted. I have no knowledge that

Will Smith is gay and closeted

so hopefully that's completely clear.) The music in the trailer is unfortunate, so don't judge this based on that. But if you haven't seen it, see it. But not with me, because my constant laughter will just annoy you.

Where were we? Oh, right, Fred Schepisi. Happy birthday dude! Rock on!

* BONUS: director/producer J.J. Abrams (Lost, Star Trek) appears in 2 scenes as one of the unappreciative, trust-fund brats. Someone's put them into a short video (can't embed, but it's here).