Thursday, December 9, 2010

My Favorite Records of 2010

If you haven't gotten a chance to listen to any one of the albums off this list I suggest you get to the nearest record store pronto. 2010 has been one of the best years in music in a looooong time.

1) Kanye West- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

2) Arcade Fire- The Suburbs

3) Janelle Monae- The ArchAndroid

4) The National- High Violet

5) The Tallest Man on Earth- The Wild Hunt

6) Beach House- Teen Dream

7) Local Natives- Gorilla Manor

8) Max Richter- Infra

9) The Walkmen- Lisbon

10) Best Coast- Crazy For You

11) Sleigh Bells- Treats

12) Big Boi- Sir Luscious Leftfoot: The Son of Chico Dusty

13) Deerhunter- Halcyon Digest

14) Wild Nothing- Gemini

15) Joanna Newsome- Have One On Me

16) Cee Lo Green- The Lady Killer

17) LCD Soundsystem- This Is Happening

18) The Roots- How I Got Over

19) Sufjan Stevens- The Age of Adz

20) Spoon- Transference

21) No Age- Everything In Between

22) Broken Social Scene- Forgiveness Rock Record

23) Sun Kil Moon- Admiral Fell Promises

24) Four Tet- There Is Love In You

25) Band of Horses- Infinite Arms

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


One of my favorite articles on the ever-pretentious is th "5-10-15-20" features where they have artists write a little blurb about music that they were into when they were ages 5, 10, 15, and 20. I always think it's interesting and I try to find out whether the person is lying or not. If there are no embarrassing album choices--then the person is obviously lying. Anyways, I thought it would be fun to do it for myself so here we go...

Age 5: The Beach Boys- Greatest Hits

Probably the first CD I was ever given as a kid. I'm not really sure why my parents gave the record to me as I realized when I got older that neither of them were that into the beach boys. I guess they just figured that because I lived at the beach it would be a good thing to bring me up on the Beach Boys. Who knows? Regardless it was a pretty good choice. Also, I may be lying about my age on this one, it's simply the first CD I remember actually having. But it's my blog, So I make up the rules so I say it counts. Also, when I have a five-year-old I'm gonna make sure he or she's able to sing both Beach Boys and The Clash--or I'm not letting him or her go to kindergarten.

Age 10: David Bowie- Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

This is on here for one specific reason. We used to take yearly trips to visit my Dad's family in Pittsburgh, PA. From Wilmington, NC that's about a 8 hour trip. My Dad used to have this zip-locked box of CDs that he would bring to listen to on the trip. We would listen to this CD at LEAST three or four times each way. Also, an honorable mention goes to Welcome to My Nightmare by Alice Cooper for the same reason. My Dad never really sheltered me from music--I owe him a lot for that.

Age 15: Dashboard Confessional- The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most

What, you thought I was going to lie about an actual album on here? Everyone has that guilty pleasure album, the one that "got you through those painful blah blah blah." I'm not gonna lie, I jammed to this CD. My parents and siblings cringed, I just turned up the dial. Now I look back and laugh (and shake my head). Good (hilarious) times. But I will admit, these tunes were MILES ahead of what is spewing out of speakers these days. I mean Owl City? Please. At least Dashboard was honest. Even if it was embarrassingly so.

Age 20: The Hold Steady- Boys and Girls In America

Lots of great stuff came out in 2006, TV on the Radio, Band of Horses, Yo La Tengo etc. But this cd was the one that was on constant rotation in my car. What can I say? I was in the throws of college, having a blast, finding out who I was going to be, and of course, meeting the woman I would spend the rest of my life with. Boys and Girls in America always reminds me of my wife and those early days when we were getting to know each other. We would go to rock concerts 3 hours away on weeknights, make eachother mix CDs, and stay up way to late watching movies. Little did we know four years later we would be here.

*Also, I'd like to note that this was the CD I listened to on the way to my wedding. I told my best-friend Kyle to pick whatever he wanted and this was what he chose. Coincidence?

Next year I'll be turning 25 (!!!) which is crazy for me to even think, let alone type. Music has and will always have a pretty big impact on my life. I can't wait to see what kind of impact it has on me in the future. I can only imagine it will be comparable to my past.

I can only hope.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

America's Better Angels.

Today in this country I see newsreels about people throwing rocks at teenage girls who walk into abortion clinics, bullies videotaping closeted teens having sex to humiliate them, and bigots advocating Iranian planes to fly into muslim community centers. I get called un-American because I support more federal funding for the education system and because I don't think it should be ok for someone to have to wait only 5 minutes to buy an assault rifle. It angers me that in a country where we've made so much progress that there are people who are literally trying to make "progressive" a dirty word. All in the name of protecting the constitution of course. Which leads me to todays news about Byron Williams who, inspired by Glenn Beck, took to the streets armed with a 9mm handgun, a shotgun and a .380 caliber rifle, to start a revolution by shooting up the ACLU (yes the American Civil Liberties Union, the "evil" organization designed to make sure that people's constitutional rights are protected). Apparently there are people in this country who love our constitution so much, that they would hunt down and kill the people who actually make a profession out of protecting it. So glad you can contribute to our political landscape Beck, really, I am.

The thing that baffles me about right-wing politics today is how backwards their views are. "We want small government, but we'll allow you to wiretap our phones in the name of security. We want government out of our financial lives, but we want it throughout our personal ones." Sometime you just can't help but shake your head.

But I can look into their faces with clear eyes and a full heart and say "I've beaten you."

I disagree whole-heartedly with everything that the Tea-Party and the extreme-right stand for, but I've beaten them and they don't even know it. I believe in the freedom of speech. I have the right to disagree with everything they say, but I will fight to the death for their right to say what they think. That is what people on the right can never understand. It's what America is all about, what it's always been about. To quote Aaron Sorkin: "America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say 'You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the 'land of the free'."

There are millions of people around the world who disagree with everything that I think and that I say, but as long as we have the ability to say them, as long as we have the ability to think them, we can call ourselves Americans. America was founded on stories of greatness, of people who faced overwhelming odds and overcame them, not just for the good of the country but for the good of the people. America was shaped by people like Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr., and John F Kennedy. These people gave us hope for tomorrow, they believed in our better angels during times when it looked as though we would break.

I believe in America's better angels.

To quote Sorkin again: "Every time we think we have measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and we're reminded that that capacity may well be limitless. This is a time for American heroes. We will do what is hard. We will achieve what is great. This is a time for American heroes and we reach for the stars."

Monday, October 4, 2010

Film Review: The Social Network

The Social Network is the type of movie that needs to be seen twice to fully comprehend the beauty in it's intricacy. The movie moves at such a break-neck pace that it grabs you by the neck from the excellent opening sequence and doesn't let go until the credits role. People are calling it the movie that defines our generation. I have a hard time arguing with that statement, because it is half a good thing and half a bad thing.

Let's face it. We are pretty clever. In a world where information is spewed into our brains at a seemingly infinite rate, people "our age" have kept up with it pretty well. Those at the forefront of innovation are getting younger every day. One of Obama's head speechwriters during the campaign was in his early twenties. Matt Mullenweig created the website known as Wordpress which has capitalized on the blogging craze (which if you ask me has only enhanced the potency of the "written" word). And of course there is the central character in "The Social Network," Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of facebook.

The film doesn't paint Zuckerberg in a positive light. It doesn't paint him in a negative light either. He's simply smug and narcissistic (we get this from the fantastic opening scene), which I feel are attributes one could attribute to most young people. The Social Network shows what it takes these days, warts and all, to become the youngest billionaire in the world. Sure the movie is a fictionalization of the real events, but the meat is still there. The law suits, the backstabbing, the excitement, the disappointment. It's just written in a more allegorical way that makes the story about more than just the creation of facebook.

Which brings me to what is one of the strongest aspects of the film, its script. The film is written so tightly, so intelligently, that the next thing Aaron Sorkin will be writing is his Oscar speech. It has Sorkin's signature style, blazing fast and impossibly witty, framed in a story that only Shakespeare could have made up. The writing never talks down to the viewer, expecting the audience to keep up as Zuckerberg spits all kinds of computer lingo in the opening 20 minutes. It all goes over our heads--and it's supposed to. Sorkin wants us to understand how smart Zuckerberg is. To take the time to explain in arduous detail what Zuckerberg was doing would only have taken us out of the moment, not to mention bored our eyes out (though i suspect that if there is one writer who could have pulled it off it may indeed be Aaron Sorkin).

The acting is flawless, with both Jesse Eisenberg (who plays Zuckerberg) and Andrew Garfield (who plays his best friend Eduardo Saverin) turning in Oscar-worthy performances. The chemistry between these two is fantastic, you see their friendship in their eyes and their body language, which only makes the film's events that much more powerful. Justin Timberlake is perfectly cast as the devilish Sean Parker, who gives a similar performance to that of Peter Saarsgard in An Education. He plays someone so slick, so charming, that it is tough not realize his real motives.

And lastly we have the masterful direction of David Fincher. What I loved most about Fincher's direction is that the director seemed to play it cool. Known for his innovative special effects and flashy sequences, the stylish director only uses the special effects when necessary, and usually they are so seamless that the audience has no idea that it's even happening (which of course is the best kind). For instance the Winklevoss twins are played by one person, Armie Hammer (another stand-out performance), and through the use of camera tricks and special effects goes completely unnoticed. Fincher pulls fantastic performances out of the young actors, let's the writing do the talking, and paces the film perfectly. That is what a director is supposed to do. Bring everything together and make sure it is all working toward his overall vision. With a resume that includes films like Se7en, The Curious Case of Benjiman Button, Zodiac, and Fight Club, to say his latest film is his best may come with some speculation. But nonetheless, The Social Network is Fincher's most focused, most concise, and overall best movie yet.

The Social Network defines a generation. It show how we are different from any other generation before us. But perhaps the real crux of the movie is the revelation that as much as the world changes, and as much as we change with it, human ambition is and will always be an amazing, beautiful, dangerous, and at times dirty thing.

Don't hesitate to stand in line for this one.

5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Married Life Is So...

Awesome, actually.

People told me things would be different. That ring changes a lot. Even though you guys lived with each other, you will notice some changes. It's a lot of responsibility. All of these phrases were spoken to me in one form or another, a majority of which were said within a week of the big day. I knew most of what everybody was talking about, but I gotta admit, It kinda freaked me out a bit. I love Lia with my whole heart, and I knew that I was able to handle marriage--because to me it meant being able to spend the rest of my life with my best friend. But because I had no doubt in my mind that I wanted to get married, when all of these statements started surfacing, I suddenly wondered Do these people know something that I don't?

Well the answer is yes and no. Yes it feels different, but only in good ways. There is more of a sense of respect in the house. Things seem lighter and easier. Perhaps it's because for the first time in a few months we are able to shut off the planning mode and be a real-life couple again. We can go on dates (we just recently saw The Town and loved it by the way), we can cook nice dinners, we can plan which TV shows we will get addicted to this season. I sense it lasting this way forever. When I look at Lia I see myself 50 years from now, probably still crudely hitting on her like I usually do. I know things will change, there will be babies, new houses, new cities, and new jobs. But I can't help but think that throughout all of those changes, it will still be Lia and me--the two kids who met in college and fell in love.

Over %50 of marriages end in divorce these days. I'm no psychologist, I haven't even been married a month. But if you ask me why, I'd have to say that a lot are because of a lack of respect. People get so wrapped up in themselves these days that it doesn't surprise me their are so many unhappily married couples. One of the best bits of advice I ever got about marriage was from my Dad. He said "In a marriage its not you give 50% and she gives 50%. You both give 100%. Your life is over when you get married, you're about to start your lives." I think that if people really truly dedicated themselves to each other, instead of just being with each other, you'd have more happily married couples.

Also, you have to laugh. Life is always better when your laughing. I can't imagine married life being any different. Lia and I laugh a lot. And I have no doubt in my mind that we will be laughing together forever.

(And nothing makes me more excited.)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I'm Back

So it has been a while since I've posted. Probably due to the fact that the most important (read: best) day of my life occured on September 4th, 2010. I married my best friend, Lia Kerner (who now goes by Lia Dangelico--it has such a nice ring to it)!

The countless days of planning (mostly done by her) paid off and we had the most beautiful ceremony a couple could ask for. We had friends come from all over (even one flying in from London) to share our moment with us. We couldn't have been happier (even though we felt as though we could sleep for days after it was over).

To all three of you who read my blog, I'm gonna start it up again in the very near future (Oscar season is right around the corner). I know the anticipation is killing you (or at least that's what I tell myself)--but the next blog entry will be coming in the next few days.

In other great news I finally buried my worthless piece of crap known as a blackberry, and got a beautiful, sexy iPhone.

So thats a beautiful, sexy wife, and a beautiful, sexy phone in the same month--I'd say I did pretty damn good.

See you all in the next couple of days...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Why It Sucks To Be A Star Wars Fan...Sometimes

So news just broke that George Lucas will be releasing the Star Wars films on Blu-Ray. 'Bout damn time. Also he noted that they would be the Special Edition versions and not the orignial theatrical versions that we all grew up with. Why wont he just remaster the theatrical version for us? It's too expensive, he says.

Yeah, I'm sure it's too expensive George. Maybe if you werent investing so much time and money bastardizing your own creation then it wouldnt be so bad. Also, there is no way in hell it is too expensive. Look at Blade Runner. Ridley Scott gave us 5 versions of 1 film that looked absolutely beautiful. Sure on the workprint version there were some specks and other signs of aging. But it was still sweet to see. And you want to know the funny part? Nobody prefers the workprint version of Blade Runner. Millions and millions of fans (I'd go as far as to say everyone) prefers the original theatrical version of Star Wars. I mean why in the hell does Greedo need to shoot first--other than to make Han less of a bad ass? I will never, in a million years, understand why that change was even thought up, let alone made.

So George, let's face it. Youd be nowhere if it weren't for us. When I was three years old I watched my first Star Wars film and the rest is history. I know every line by heart. I bought the toys (just as Lucas wanted) I grew up with Star Wars on my mind, bringing along it's philosophy in the way I think and live. It becae a part of who I am. The same is said for millions and millions of people around the world. If it werent for us George, you wouldnt be anywhere near where you are today.

How about you give us what we want?


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Reflecting on The Suburbs by The Arcade Fire

The Arcade Fire has been my favorite band since I first listened to them. They have that power over me where when I hear their sound I simply say "yes, that is music". Their debut album Funeral is, and will always be, my favorite album of all time. I bought it at a used record store in Raleigh, North Carolina, not having any idea the impact my purchase would have on me. They were epic, yet personal. Majestic, yet refined. Then in 2007 they released Neon Bible, and showed the world that Funeral was no fluke and that the Arcade Fire was a band that was not only here to stay, but that they were an important force in our muscial landscape. Now in 2010, they bring us The Suburbs, a sprawling double LP of epic proportions. And yes, they knocked it out of the park for the third time in a row.

This is a long Arcade Fire album. With 16 tracks (not one being filler), the album clocks in at just over an hour. It is classic Arcade Fire, with epic choruses, pulsing melodys, and existential lyrics. Yet, The Suburubs is Arcade Fire's most ambitious album yet, including influences from Springsteen ("Modern Man") to even Depeche Mode or New Order ("Half Light II"). Influences aside, this is still, without a doubt, an Arcade Fire album.

The Suburubs is about just what it's title entails. Life growing up in cookie cutter houses, and the hopelessness of living the way you are "supposed to." It maps all of the hopes and dreams that can deteriorate as life in the suburbs of America locks you in. The lyrics are the Arcade Fire's most personal yet, as Win sings on the title track "I want a daughter while I'm still young, want to hold her hand and show her some beauty before the damage is done." It's as if he knows that with age he will become jaded and tired. He wants to be able to pass on his views while he still has them. While they are still hopeful.

One of the best parts of The Suburbs is the fact that it really highlights Win Butler's songwriting. "Suburban War" may be one of the strongest songs they have ever written. It's a love song, detailing a relationship that exists as the world around them changes. They realize, as life takes them seperate ways, that the place they grew up in has morphed into something unrecognizable. But towards the end, the realization hits that perhaps it wasnt the town that changed, but themselves. "All my old friends, they don't know me now," Win chants at the end. It's aching, bittersweet, yet somehow still hopeful. As the girl in the beginning tells Win "the past won't rest until we jump the fence and leave it all behind." She could be talking about eachother, about the town, or just the fact that the only way to grow is to do so facing forward.

It may sound bleak, just as the idea for Arcade Fire's debut Funeral did. But what has always been prevelant in Arcade Fire's songs is that the ablilty to resist is within ourselves. We all have the ability to make up our own minds about how we view things and how we handle them. We can see the death of family member as a terrible thing, which it is, but we can also choose to celebrate their life. We can let the suburbs of America turn us into zombies, or we can fight it. We can think for ourselves and maintain ourselves. Though things may seem hopeless, they only seem that way. We cant control how things shape us, but we don't have to lose who we are to the world around us.

This album is a classic, just as Funeral and Neon Bible are. In a world where most people have forgotten what it means to sit and listen to an album, where singles sell on iTunes at a more exponential rate than albums do, the Arcade Fire grabs us by the shoulders, sits us down, and makes us listen. They make us realize that craft, emotion, and honesty are the only key ingredients in making music.

The Suburbs is music in it's rawest, most beautiful form. It is absolutely perfect.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Film Review: Inception

Spoiler Warning: If you have not seen the film do not read what I'm about to write unless you dont care about having the ending spoiled. And trust me, you do care.

Inception is Christopher Nolan's masterpiece. What exactly does that mean? People have been saying it, and I certainly agree, but what does it mean? First off, the film has to fire on all levels, score, acting, directing, writing, originality. Inception gets a check in every box. For a film to be considered an artist's masterpiece though, it must basically be the director's brain on a platter. It has to be personal without alienating the audience. It must have themes that transcend time. It must age well. While we won't know whether Inception will age well for a few years, my bet is on yes.

I think the brilliance of what Nolan has done, and the reason the film will stand the test of time, is that he has made a truly subjective film. Theories have been flooding the internet about whether or not Cobb's spinner fell at the end. People have said that the whole thing was a dream, that half of it was a dream, that Cobb was actually having a Mr. Charlie pulled on him by Saito. They have been all over the place. And they have all, in one way or another been correct. But how can that be? How can all theories be correct? Well because no definitive answer is given, so any guess, as long as it makes sense, could be true.

But here is the thing. Cobb himself didn't turn around to see if his spinner fell. It didn't matter to him. He got to see his kids and be with his kids again. To him his mission was accomplished, his wish fulfilled, whether it was a dream or in real life. Does happiness, or contentment, only exist if other people can see it or experience it? I dont think so. It's all a state of mind. So if he saw his kids in a dream (especially a lucid dream), to him that's just as good as seeing them in real life.

Inception is a film that you have to see to believe. I've never seen anything like it before, and I can't wait to revisit the film. Nolan uses special effects, rather than having the special effects use him. He never let's his visuals overtake the story (which believe me, with these visuals is a feat in it's self). Hans Zimmer creates his best score to date, taking nods from everything from The Dark Knight to Blade Runner. Leonardo DiCaprio is fantastic as usual. It's amazing to me the empathy he can draw from his audience. The supporting cast gets just enough character development to move the story forward (which is enough because it's not their story anyways it's Leo's). The structure of the film seems confusing at first, but when you see the characters act out what they were talking about it all makes sense.

I can't say enough about Inception. It's a blast. To me, Inception is perfect. It has everything I look for in a movie.

Also, for all of you who are wondering: I think Cobb was with his kids in real life at the end, I dont think it's a dream. Why? Because it's what I want for his character.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

List of the Week: Favorite Head-Scratcher Movies

Word on the street is that Inception is complex as hell. Word also is that it's a masterpiece. I love a meticulously plotted film. One that will engage me and keep me glued to the screen. If it's made well enough, it will warrant a "I'm gonna have to see that again." Sometimes films can be too complicated, during which they become a bit of a mess...but when a well-told complex story comes along, they can be great fun. Here are a few of my favorite movies that get better (or at least more understood) after seeing it more than once. These movies are either complicated in structure or meaning. Either/or they are much fun to pontificate over.

In no order...

1. Memento
2. The Matrix
3. 21 Grams
4. Solaris (1972)
5. Eternal Sunshine fo the Spotless Mind
6. La Jetee
7. Adaptation
8. Mulholland Drive
9. Barton Fink (Some may disagree but I had to watch it twice before I got it.)
10. Primer

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Bummer Summer for Movies

Ok so what have we seen this summer that blew us away? Toy Story 3, definitely. Iron Man 2, umm it was great, not as good as the first though. What else? Knight and Day, hell no. The Last Airbender, HEEEELLL no. Sex and the City 2, someone shoot me. But what else has there been? Really nothing.

Yes we have Predators which looks like fun, and we also have Inception, which may save our Summer (early reviews say it is a masterpiece and possible Best Picture front-runner). Scott Pilgrim vs. The World looks hilarious and fun. Dispicable Me looks pretty funny too. But if you think about it this Summer has really sucked for movies.

I will say though, last Summer may have spoiled us. I mean we had Star Trek, District 9, Up, (500) Days of Summer, Julie & Julia, Inglourious Basterds, and The Hurt Locker. All fantastic films in their own right, and those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

Maybe studios are just prepping themselves for next summer's onslaught of Superhero films (both Captain America and Thor are coming out), but who knows.

Oh well, you can't win em all, Cinema. Don't worry, I still love you.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Existentialism, Age 10

The radio broke in my car. This wouldnt be that big of a deal considering it was just a blown fuse, but considering all the autoshops were closed due to the holiday I was going to have to wait until Lia and I got back from our vacation in Wilmington to get it fixed. Basically it meant 9+ hours on the road with nothing to zone out to.

In order to pass the time, Lia pulled out one of my books of short stories and decided to read some of them aloud. She began to read a story that was written by a professor who taught at our school, David Gessner. It detailed an existential crisis he had when he was around 10, during which the thought of "nothingness" terrified him so much that he suffered from anxiety.

The story really spoke to me in more ways than one. While I didn't share some of the same views as the author, I too had an existential crisis at around the same age. I never spoke of it, I never had any extreme anxiety over it, but it certainly caused me to stay awake at night. I would lay in bed thinking about why there is so much detail in the world, why was it created as such. What was the point in making the colors a certain way, and does it even really matter. What was the point in creating air, if the absence of it only leads to death? These questions racked my brain as I laid in my Jurassic Park themed bed, staring at my ceiling.

To an adult, thoughts such as these may seem trivial, but to a child they can keep you up at night. Not being able to understand things, knowing that you don't understand them can be maddening, especially to a child with an imagination as vivid as mine was.

The story made me wonder how many other kids went through these sorts of thoughts. Pondering the universe. I wondered why when adults think these things are they deemed strange or even crazy. Such thoughts seem to me to only be human. Questioning the purpose of things has always been an important, if terrifying/controversial activity. However scary it may be to have these thoughts or questions, I always find it to be enlightening. It's through asking these questions that we begin to discover what we believe in. It certainly led me to my own personal faith.

I think that when you are a child your mind functions at its most freeing. You are not strapped down by the conventions of the world and other people. You are able to think and process things without the filter of a 24 hour news cycle, reality tv, and billboard advertisements.

Things just are, when you're a kid.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

List of the Week: Best Things About Going Home (Wilmington, NC To Be Specific)

Tomorrow at around 2:00 I'll be heading to my hometown of Wilmington, NC. At times, Wilmington was my favorite place on earth. At other times I'd rather spend a day in Hell (which actually would be comparable if you visited Wilmington in the summertime). But I guess that is to be expected of your hometown. We never realize how much where we come from has had an effect on us until we leave. Or at least I didnt. After I left I realized I missed a lot of things about my home (both big and small). Here are some of my favorite things about the sleepy little beachtown I call home.

1. My Friends- While some have moved on to other towns, you can always count on holidays to bring everyone together.
2. Indochine- The best Thai food on our hemisphere
3. Gravity Records- One of the few independent record stores still left standing in America (at least it seems).
4. Blue Post- The best bar in Wilmington. Back in the 1800s it was a pirate hangout. I mean c'mon, it doesnt get cooler than that.
5. The Beach- I didn't take advantage of it nearly enough when I lived there. And I went quite a bit.
6. Downtown ILM- Enough hangouts to fill any number of nights, all snuggled up to the Cape Fear River.
7. The Soapbox- The perfect upclose venue to see your favorite local band.
8. Trolly Stop- Probably the best hot dogs that you can buy outside of a baseball park.
9. Pita-Delight- My favorite lunch spot.
10. The Heat- I know I'm in the vast minority here, but I cant get enough of the southern heat. Especially because Wilmington has a nice salty seabreeze to go along with it.

Yeah, I'm excited about this weekend...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Good Lord It's Hot

I'm a beach kid. I love the summer time. I always have, always will. This summer it feels like the heat is one for the books. I haven't been down to my hometown of Wilmington, NC to feel the how scorching it is there yet, but I will this weekend. Here in Northern Virginia it's pretty hot though. I think about 94 on average, peaking at around 100 in the dead afternoon. A lot of people complain about it, but I don't. I think it's great. I love being able to go outside in just a t-shirt and shorts.

I remember a few months ago we were digging our way out of multiple feet of snow. It was fun, sure, but after the novelty wore off the cold started to become annoying. You could only be outside for a few minutes at a time, and even then you (I) had to be so bundled up that you could barely move your joints. I'm not saying that winter doesnt have it's perks, it most certainly does. I'm just saying, to me, the perks of summer outweigh the perks of winter.

Everyone loves fall and spring. How can you not? The weather is usually in the 60s or 70s. The colors on the trees are always rather brilliant. Most people when you ask them what their favorite season is, they will say fall or winter. But there are those precious few people who love the extremes. They like to feel the sunburn on their arms or the numbness on their toes.

I definitely love the summer the most. I like the way it feels to go on a walk, sweat a bit, then walk into a nice air conditioned room. I like opening the windows, turning on a fan, and putting on some relaxing music. I like falling asleep in the sun, regretting it later that night when you are walking around with a sunburn on the back of your legs. Perhaps the best part of summer is the muggy nights where you can hear cicadas buzzing with the wind rustling through the trees. Or the waves crashing on the beach. I like being able to have the freedom of wearing flip-flops everyday.

To me summertime always takes to long to get here and never stays long enough when it is. Hopefully this one will take its time.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I want this so bad it hurts

I'm taking a poll. Who wants this to be me and Lia's wedding topper?

I Shouldn't Enjoy This As Much As I Do...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Movie Review: Toy Story 3

Some things are just masterpieces, gifts from genius minds that for whatever reason deem us worthy to to enjoy their creations. Not only does Toy Story 3 belong in this private group, but the Toy Story trilogy belongs there as well. Usually the third film is where a franchise falters. Case in point: Spider-man, X-Men, The Godfather, The Matrix etc. One could argue that The Lord of the Rings broke this spell with Return of the King, but I would counter that the book was already written, the story laid out, so Peter Jackson did not have to worry about staying fresh while also being faithful to the preceding films. This is not a swipe at Jackson, I'm just saying that the task at hand for Toy Story 3 was different than it was for The Return of the King.

When my fiance and I walked out of the theater, we dabbed the small remnants of tears from our eyes and asked each other which Toy Story film we liked the most. I couldn't do it. The beauty of Toy Story 3 is that it makes the films seem like one saga. While all three most certainly stand on their own, the best way to watch them, obviously, is in sequential order. We grow with these characters and learn as they learn. Perhaps it helps that I was 9, 14, and 23, respectively, when the three films came out. I saw them all in theaters at different points in my life, and I was able to make a strong emotional connection to all three of them.

Perhaps the message in the third film is the most profound of the three. That what makes life worth living are the people who we live with and the connections that we make with them. Sometimes our "purpose," whatever we think it may be, can change and shift in ways that we are not ready for, but the only way to face those changes is with the people who made us who we are by our sides. Pixar is genius in doing this, bringing out deep messages in family films. They are so good at it, in fact, that it makes me wonder why they seem to be the only ones who are doing it these days.

Regardless, Toy Story 3 is the best film I've seen in a long time, and definitely the best film I've seen all year. There aren't many movies that come out where I would say drop everything and go see it, but drop everything and go see Toy Story 3.

P.S. Make sure you get there in ample time to catch Pixar's short Day & Night. It's the best short film Pixar has ever done and it may be just as brilliant as Toy Story 3 itself.

What I've Been Listening to Lately: My Favorite Albums of 2010 (So Far)

2010 is shaping up to be one of the best years in music we've had in a while, and we still have records from the Arcade Fire and Radiohead (supposedly) coming out. My iPod has been on almost constantly as it tried to keep up with all of the music that was coming in. Here is what I've liked the most so far:

The National- High Violet
Local Natives- Gorilla Manor
Janelle Monae- The Archandroid
The Roots- How I Got Over
Beach House- Teen Dream
The Tallest Man on Earth- The Wild Hunt
Broken Social Scene- Forgiveness Rock Record
LCD Soundsystem- This is Happening
Wild Nothing- Gemini
Four Tet- There is Love in You

If you all havent heard some of this stuff, I suggest you get yourself to your favorite local record store. This is a great year in music that only looks to get better!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Rant About The Decay of Our Culture

People never get sick of talking about the things they love. To me nothing is more interesting than to hear the passion someone has for a piece of art of hobby. To hear someone explain to me in detail why a certain movie or book or whatever is their favorite is music to my ears. That's one of the things that pains me about the death of independent record/movie/book stores. It would seem as though corporate America pulled a fast one on us. It wasn't Best Buy or Wal-Mart that destroyed these stores, it was and Why would we leave the house to get the new cd by The National when we can just order it online? We're even willing to sacrifice some album art, downloading the albums from iTunes where all we get is a small picture of the cover.

Soon the day will come when we can't even go into a record store and ask the person at the front what he or she recommends. Try asking your local Best Buy employee. I'm sure he or she will point you in the direction of the Billboard Hits. Or if he or she is ballsy they might send you to the "up and coming artists" section where you'll find Modest Mouses 7th album. Up and coming--get your head out of your ass.

Sure we have social networks that allow us to connect to entertainment gurus in one way or another but they still don't do the trick. Besides, it's not like people listen to critics anymore anyways. Transformers 2 was almost universally bashed by anyone with a brain cell, yet it went on to gross over $400 Million. Normally I wouldn't care, I'd say "oh well the people who I want to see make movies will make movies anyways because the production companies know that quality work is rewarded in one way or another." Then I read that a studio passed on the new Paul Thomas Anderson picture because it's budget (which was only $35 Million) was too high.

You're telling me that Micheal Bay can get $200 Million to make Transformers 2, and Paul Thomas Anderson can't get $35 Million to make what is sure to be a fantastic film?

I know this post seemed a bit scatter brained--but honestly I'm so fed up with my generation and their bullshit.

And don't get me started on Owl City...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Arcade Fire: In Concert (Coming August 6th)

OK, so I just had what may have been the most exciting/insane 30 minutes of my life. Honestly.

Ever since I purchased their debut album Funeral at an independent record store in Raleigh, North Carolina, I have wanted to see the Arcade Fire live. Their debut album changed the way I look at music and skyrocketed them to the top of my favorite band list. They have stayed their ever since.

Almost 6 years later, I have graduated from high school, college, gotten a job, and gotten engaged (to an arcade fire fan). Things have changed drastically in my life, but I still salivate at every single thing the Canadian rockers put out.

Last Wednesday I was told that the Arcade Fire would be having a pre-sale of tickets for a venue that was a mere 30 minutes from our home. I waited patiently at my computer until the clock struck 10AM (the said time of presale), but alas, the supposed date of my concert was blank. After phonecalls and e-mails to Merge Records, Merriweather Post Pavillion, and Paste Magazine, we came to the conclusion that the presale had had technical difficulties and would go on sale again at a later date.

I stayed tuned to websites and discovered (via the Arcade Fire's twitter page) that the presales for our show would occur on June 9th at 10AM at the Arcade Fire's website. Come Wednesday I was there, again, at my computer, waiting to click go computer crashed. I ran to a co-workers computer, forced her to get up and went through the process. I got the tickets (Front Row!!!) in my check-out cart when the screen froze! I let out a yelp (the same you would hear from a dog when you step on it's tail) and refreshed.

And a gift from God I saw the words I had been waiting for 6 years to see.

"Confirmed Order: Arcade Fire Tickets"

I sat in a dream state and reveled in what had just happened. Not only are they fron row tickets--but Spoon is opening up for them!

Today was indeed, a wonderful day--all I need now is for my fingernails to grow back!

Friday, June 4, 2010

List of the Week: Things To Do on a Friday Night

This sin't so much of a "ranking" post as it is just me trying to figure out what I want to do tonight. There isn't really anything out in theaters that I'm dying to se (although Splice looks interesting). Also, another thing to keep in mind is that I had a fairly busy week and I'm not exactly wanting to go "out" and do anything that requires that much physical commitment, I really just want to relax.

(Note: All of the following will be done with wine)

1. Friday Night Lights- The best show on TV that noone is watching (possibly because it comes on on Friday evenings). I'm actually looking forward to this episode because *spoilers* last week Matt's father was suddenly killed in Iraq setting up tonight's episode to be rather emotional.

2. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus- Some people really cant get into Terry Gilliam's movies, but I really love his visual style. His narratives can sometimes get convoluted but when he is on, he is on. Take Brazil for example. Also, I'd like to see how Gilliam was still able to make this film when Heath Ledger died in the middle of it. Oh yea, and Tom Waits plays the devil--sweet.

3. Another Bullshit Night in Suck City- I'm about half-way through this book and it is really incredible. Nick Flynn is a poet so his memior certainly has some musicality to it. The memoir depicts when Flynn was working at a homeless shelter and meets his estranged father sleeping in one of the beds. It's bleak, depressing, and often funny. Perfect for a relaxing Friday night.

4. Netflix Instant- Because we have over 200 titles in our instant queue there is at least something interesting to watch. Can I also say that I love the fact that Criterion has been making their titles available to the masses the Netflix Instant. Very cool.

5. Do nothing- Sometimes I feel like a slob just lying on my couch diddling on my macbook--but there is definitely something nice about doing nothing at all. I appreciate it.

Hopefully, I'll be able to figure something out.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

New Arcade Fire Songs/Album!

Two new Arcade Fire songs were released yesterday. After listening to them both obsessively i have determined that "The Suburbs" is excellent and "Month of May" is great.

Update: Literally minutes after I posted this. Arcade Fire officially announced their third album entitled "The Suburbs"

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

LOST: The End

I sat down yesterday to write this blog and I couldn't do it. I spent the day in a haze: a mixture of contentness, sadness, and thought. I had never invested so much of myself in a television show before. Over the weekend my fiance, my sister (who was visiting from college), and I re-watched our favorite episodes. We talked about who our favorite characters are (throughout the weekend I think we named them all). We half-joked about how depressed we would be when the show came to an end. We threw our own little LOST party inviting friends and family who we had turned on to the show. When those fateful words "Previously on Lost" were spoken we quickly turned off the lights and focused in. After a mixture of cheers, laughter, and tears (lots of tears) the show came to an end.

That night I had trouble sleeping. I was so moved by what was on the screen that I couldnt just close my eyes and "let go". I wanted to go and find Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse and thank them personally for the gift that they had given me, and my family. I wanted to find J.J. Abrams and thank him for giving those writers the chance to capture our hearts and our imaginations. It seemed as though I would never be able to get my gratitude across. Then I read Damon Lindelof's last message on Twitter: "Remember. Let Go. Move On. I will miss it more than I can ever say."

He understood. They understood. The show meant more to them than it did to us. It was their creation. They know about our gratitude, and they want to thank us as well. We all were on this journey, the actors, the writers, the viewers. It was a group effort. I'll never be able to just forget about LOST. It will be my favorite television show for as long as I live. It was a part of my life where there were so many changes. Where I grew up. My fiance and I wouldnt be the same people without the show. It helped make us who we are. So in order for me to "let go," I am going to write a letter to my favorite show. The show that helped me become who I am today.

Dear LOST,

I miss you already. Thank you so much for taking me, my family, and my friends on this incredible journey. You made us question ourselves and our ways of thinking. You taught us that noone can tell us what we cant do. You taught us that things happen for a reason. And most importantly you showed us how one of the most important parts of life are those who we share it with. I plan on seeing you again in the near future, both in little bits as well in your entirety. Don't worry, I'll finally get a HDTV, so I can watch you in your full glory.

I remember in the beginning I was hooked and that was it. You grabbed me from the start. I had no choice in the matter. You took my heart and ran with it. I was not the only one though. Millions of people around the world loved you. People wrote about you, both good things and bad. The ones that love you stuck around, and you rewarded them with a beautiful and poignant finale. No matter how many times we questioned you, you always ended up coming through.

I wonder what my kids will think of you. Will they be able to be wrapped up in your mystery as their mother and I were? I think you will find your way to touch their hearts. At least I hope so. I want them to love things like I love you. I want them to invest themselves in things the way that I do. I want them to wonder why things are, and then accept them when they get the answer (or when they dont).

Your heart laid in the characters you gave us. The people who we watched grow and change. You were about humanity in general, as we could see ourselves in your characters. You showed us our good as well as our bad, and let us know that nothing is irreversable. We can be whoever we want to be.

Last night I was cleaning up after our party doing the dishes and lietening to your music. I couldn't help but feel as though I had just come back from a close friend's funeral. The kind of friend who helped make you who you are. Please know that this is not a goodbye letter. I will be seeing you again, many times. Take this as a thank you note. Thank you for changing my life. I'll be seeing you again soon. I love you.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

LOST: Why We Love Television Shows

Why does it feel as though we are losing a family member when a TV show ends? People half-joke about needing to find a self-help group after their favorite show ends. I've said so numerous times (although I dont think I've ever meant it as much as now with the end of LOST a mere three days away). I mean if we put things in literal terms, we are just staring at frequency waves being projected through a screen (i think). If you really think about it, the phenomenon of people being hooked on a television show is really a bit strange. They tune in at the same time, on the same day of the week, to get their helping of a story in which they know their will be no resolution--unless, of course, it's the series finale, but even then it doesnt always give you the type of closure that you want (case in point, The Sopranos, although I am a fan of it's now infamous series ending).

Writing has a way of mystifying us, whether we like it or not. It is cool for a teenagers favorite books section on Facebook to say "never opened one," yet they will list forty of their favorite movies and tv shows. Little do they know that none of those movies or tv shows would exist without words on print. A script. Thats where it all starts.

The TV shows that break new ground today are the ones with the brilliant writing. Look at David Simon with The Wire and Treme. Or Alan Ball with Six Feet Under. Aaron Sorkin with The West Wing. And of course, Damon Lindleof and Carlton Cuse with LOST. The list could go on and on, but the majority of "great" tv shows are known for their great writing.

The writing creates the characters and the relationships that we are expected to invest ourselves in. If Sawyer from LOST didnt have snappy one-liners to say, he wouldnt be Sawyer. If President Bartlet from The West Wing didnt inspire the viewer to think what if with his rousing speeches then the heart of the show would be gone.

I don't mean to belittle the actors or the director of a tv show. They of course have to make the stuff work. But here is the thing, you cant get around bad writing. Look at what happened to Grey's Anatomy after the second season. What started as a mature (as well as fun) look at the struggles doctors go through, became a silly contrived attempt at making a Primetime television show a soap-opera. I mean did we really think that Meredith was going to die half-way through the third season? Will somebody please tell me why Izzie is doing surgery on a damn deer? Please.

LOST has kept me riveted throughout the years. It has made me theorize with friends and family. It has frustrated me as well as made me jump with excitement. The show also looks at these characters with a very human lens. A poll was recently done on a popular LOST fan-site asking what people watch the show for characters or the mystery. 84% said the characters. These characters have become our family. We'd follow them no matter what happens. And the bizzareness of the show really proves that. For instance a few of the main parts of the show include, time-travel, a monster made out of smoke, and quantum-physics.

LOST's impact on pop culture has been similar to the great television shows of all-time. It's already inspired knock-offs (Flashforward lasted one season before it got the boot). The fans are starting to have their own cult-like conventions (not unlike Star Trek). And it is one of the best-selling tv-shows on dvd of all time.

If I can say one thing about LOST, it'd be that the journey will not end on Sunday evening. The best part about LOST is watching your favorite episodes over and over again. Picking up on hints and clues that were left (another victory for brilliant writing). People will talk about where the Hurley-bird (fans know what I'm talking about) and who Juliet shot during the time shifts for years. No definitive answer will probably ever be given. Some would think that would be maddening.

LOST fans like myself think it's genius.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

List of the Week: Desert Island LOST Episodes

If I were stuck on an island (get it? get it?) and I could only have 5 episodes of LOST to keep me entertained they would be as follows:

1. The Constant- Stands on it's own as well as being an important part of the series, The Constant is my favorite episode of LOST. It has everything love, heartbreak, time-travel. Brilliantly written, acted, and edited, The Constant is what LOST is all about. Characters whom we care deeply about stuck in mysterious situations that seem hopeless.

2. The Pilot- Needs no introduction. This one started it all.

3. Ab Aeterno- Richard's backstory is similar to The Constant in that it stands on it's own as well as being a important part of the series. An old love story, the answers that are given about the island almost seem inconsequential due to Richard's plight to get back his wife. Brilliant episode.

4. Through the Looking Glass- Perhaps the best cliffhanger season finale in all of LOST the revelation given in the last few minutes is one of the great shockers that the show has become infamous for. The sacrifice made by one of the main characters also is sure to leave the iciest of people with a tear in their eye.

5. Walkabout- The first backstory of one of my favorite characters, John Locke. Here we learn what a tragic figure Locke is and what an interesting predicament he was in before Flight 815 crashed. Gives us the first hint of "powers" that the Island has.

Hopefully with only two more episodes left in the series one of them will show up here (The End prefereably, as long as it gives us a fitting conclusion). It's a bittersweet thing for a show you have been following faithfully for years to end. It is only a TV show, but you cant help but feel as though these characters are your tuesday night family, with whom you checked in once a week, 20 or so times a year. It's a brilliant show that I certainly plan on revisiting time after time again on DVD.

Anybody else got any favorite LOST episodes?

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Many Faces of John Cusack

Good morning everyone! Stumbled upon this site this morning--thought it might help cure everyone's case of the mondays!


Thursday, May 13, 2010

banksy is a genius

"The Army 10-Miler" or "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Accept My Fate as Roadkill"

So in October I will be running 10 miles around Washington DC. Yes, I just typed 10 miles and not 10 kilometers. I was bullied into it by my co-workers. If anything this will be an example of how peer-pressure does indeed lead to death.

I'm just joking, I dont think I am going to die. I started training a few weeks ago and I actually think I will be ok. As my fiance's step-father Eric said "you won't come in first, but you wont come in last either." Pretty good mantra, I think. It made me feel a bit optimistic.

The race also gives me a good reason to take Amelia out for some runs. She can't last too long out there (she just simply lies down in the middle of the sidewalk whenever she has had enough exercise, forcing me to carry her home), but I enjoy having her next to me. She smiles while she runs, which I for one have never been able to do.

I've never been able not to finish a race or not pass any kind of physical test, so I feel a bit confidant about the entire thing, even though after I run for what feels like an hour and I realize Ive barely gone over two miles and it's only been 17 minutes.

There are a few things that help me get the motivation to go farther and faster. Perhaps the biggest one would be the second guitar solo on "Iron Man" by Black Sabbath. Always helps me kick it into high gear when it comes on.

Ill try my best to post updates as I progress wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Stuff I've Been Into Lately

1. High Violet by The National- It may just be better than Boxer. Im not quite sure. Id have to listen to it a few more times before I make an accurate assessment. But the fact that it's even a possibility means that this cd is really, really good. I highly recommend checking it out.

2. The Walking Dead Comic Series- I read the first few issues a while back and just never got around to reading the following stories. Now that they are available in volumes (and books, and omibus volumes) I have been really getting into the series. It is really fantastic.

3. Ipads- Basically I just want one because the are unbelievably slick and cool looking. Also, whenever I go to Best Buy I cant stop playing with them.

4. Following Roger Ebert's Twitter War with the Tea Party- At first it was a friendly debate. Then things were said to Ebert like "how many more pieces of you need to fall off before you shut up?" Don't get me wrong, I hate hearing humans reduce themselves to a level lower than bottom-feeders. It's appaling to me, I understand cheapshots, but making fun of a man's struggle with cancer is just wrong and there is no other way to put it. Watching this group expose themselves as the tactless, awful individuals that they are just makes me laugh--sort of.

5. Leon: The Professional- It was one of my favorite movies when I was in high school, and I hadn't seen it in a while, so Saturday night I decided to pop it in. Good Lord it is good. And Natalie Portman was such a phenomenal actress at such a young age. If you havent seen this film, or even if it's been a while since you have, I suggest you revisit it. You won't be dissappointed!

Friday, May 7, 2010

List of the Week: My Favorite Comic-Book Adaptations

In honor of Iron Man 2 coming out today, I'm gonna make a list of my favorite comic-book adaptations (note that graphic novels will be included as well!)

1. The Dark Knight
2. Spider-Man 2
3. Iron Man
4. American Splendor
5. X-Men 2: X-Men United
6. A History of Violence
7. Batman Begins
8. V for Vendetta
9. Superman
10. Kick-Ass

There ya go. Now go see Iron Man 2 (even though I heard it wasn't as good as the first one, but still awesome)!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Johnny Depp versus Robert Downey Jr.

Ok, so these are obviously the two most bankable actors in Hollywood today, and I just want to point out a few things.

Iron Man would definitely win in a fight against Jack Sparrow.

Robert Downey Jr is self-depricating which makes him cooler because let's face it, Depp is just kinda weird most of the time.

I like both of them and most of their movies.

Thus the most pointless blog entry I've ever written comes to a close.

Hope you enjoyed.

World War Z by Max Brooks

At first I didnt think I was going to be able to get into this book, but then it hooked me in. It's style(snap-shot interviews with "survivors" of the zombie apocalypse) is different so it takes some adjusting, but ultimately it is refreshing. It's more topical and enlightening than it is scary, though it certainly is both. Im only half-way through, but Im enjoying it so far. I needed something a bit "fun" to read after finishing Zeitoun by Dave Eggers (but good lord that book was good, as is all of Eggers' stuff).

What is it about zombies that is so engrossing? Is it the fact that they are just inside the uncanny valley and that they repulse us just as much as they attract us? Is it that they can hold up a mirror to society better than any other horror creation of the 20th century? We see so much of ourselves in the undead that it is scary. Personally, I love trying to answer the what-if questions that the genre poses. Would you be able to off a friend, family member, any loved one--or would you let them turn into something they are not? It's a question I would most certainly ask in job interviews.

Regardless, check out World War Z by Max Brooks. It is fun.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Indie Music is Dead, Long Live Indie Music

Broken Social Scene come with a new record this week. I got a hold of it earlier and it is really fantastic. It's not as good as You Forgot it in People, but it's just as good as their self-titled. Considering You Forgot it in People is a masterpiece and I really wasn't expecting FRR to be as good, let alone better. But it's incredible and definitely worth a listen. Broken Social Scene is one of those bands who you can count on to put out a quality record everytime.

Over the weekend Lia and I were discussing how it seems new artists today (specifically pop artists) aren't really trying. Case in point: Owl City. Good God that stuff is awful. Let's just remove the obvious: it's basically the Postal Service with really, really bad writing. I mean I dont care if this guy likes lightning bugs. Will someone please explain to me why I should care whether or not this guy wants to stay awake or go to sleep?

It normally wouldnt bother me, but I overheard someone arguing on the radio that the reason Owl City exists is because "The Postal Service never put out another record." No, the reason music like this exists is because some studio exec heard it and said "yea, that'll sell." There is an absense of heart, of earnestness. But really this is nothing new. It's just that it is much more difficult to find good music. In today's society, where everything has to happen now, with the snap of a finger, it seems like people dont want to dig to find music that will challenge them and make them think.

Thank God bands like Broken Social Scene, Radiohead, Arcade Fire, and Modest Mouse came just before the "Now Phenomenon." Would they have been able to put out multiple records in today's society? Would they have even been discovered? I want to say yes, just based on the quality of the art they are creating. But you have to wonder.

Now, don't get me wrong. Good music will always exist. It will always be loved and cherished by those who choose to find it. But the issue is this: who chooses to find it anymore? I guess it is our responsibility to keep the art alive. To bring our kids up on our music, crossing our fingers that they will "get it." Hoping that our music will touch them in the same ways that it has touched us. Explain to them that nothing worth having comes easy. Sure you can buy their record on iTunes with the click of a button. But you have to look for that music before you press a button. When you listen to a song you are choosing not to listen to millions of others. We need to teach them to make a good choice.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

List of the Week: Most Anticipated Comic Book Adaptations

Ever since Spider-Man swung into theaters smashing box office records, studios have been scrambling to find the next big hit. Some have been masterstrokes (The Dark Knight, Iron Man, Spider-Man 2), some have been just alright (The Incredible Hulk, Hellboy), and a lot have been just downright awful (X-Men 3, Elektra, Daredevil, Both Fantastic Four). I am a fan of the genre and I try my best to catch all of these flicks, both the good and the bad. So I've decided to compile what I believe to be my most anticipated Comic Book adaptations.

1. Iron Man 2 - Sequels usually fare well in the comic book world (The Dark Knight, Spider-Man 2, X2) but this one has a lot to live up to. The trailers are tightly knit and well made and Iron Man looks just about as bad-ass as ever. Rhodes dons the War Machine suit as they team up to fight Michey Rourke's whiplash. It looks like a lot of fun. Let's hope so!

2. The Dark Knight Follow-up - When we left our Caped Crusader he was on the run from the cops for crimes comitted by Harvey Dent/Two-Fac. Joker was arrested and we assume was sent to Arkham Asylum. When the credits rolled people were left wondering what would happen next. Would there be a sequel? Or would Christopher Nolan let Batman go out on top, let his series end with a masterpiece? Well a few months ago he and his brother Jonathon started writing the follow-up. The excitement and questions came rushing in: What would it be called? The Dark Knight 2? Batman Begins 3? The Return of the Dark Knight? Who is/are the villain(s)? We all expect great things when this one comes out.

3. Green Lantern - Martin Campbell(Casino Royale) is tackling the (or "a" seeing as there are several Green Lanterns) Green Lantern origin story with Ryan Reynolds playing Hal Jordan. Pitch perfect casting if you ask me. Then we got news that they would be shooting the film in 3-D, Avatar style. Then we got word that the suit would be all CGI to achieve an "alien-like" look. Say whaaa? That sounds interesting. The supporting cast is strong as well with Peter Sarsgaard playing the villain Hector Hammond. So we've got a director who knows how to shoot an action movie, a lead actor who seems born to play the role, and one of the most under-rated actors ever playing the villain. I say let them take some risks, this is gonna be sweet!

4. Thor - Im just really interested to see how they do this one without making it cheesy (same goes for pick number 5). Thor seems to be one of the more difficult to make the translation from page to screen, but with Kenneth Branagh behind the camera you gotta think the seasoned vet knows what he's doing. Chris Hemsworth will play the Norse God/ Donald Blake (Thor is placed in Donald Blake's body without him knowing that he is a God in order to teach the arrogant Thor humility) and Natalie Portman will be playing the love-interest Jane Foster. Hemsworth showed his chops in the opening of Star Trek as Kirk's father and we all know Natalie Portman can act. This one will be interesting, with the potential to be either fantastic or a flop.

5. Captain America- Oh, Captain America. One of the most beloved comic book characters of all-time, it will be interesting to see how they pull this one off. Chris Evans is a great pick as Cap (though I personally wanted Matthew Fox) and Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull is excellent casting. Here is the problem, Joe freaking Johnston is the director. The guy who did Jurassic Park III, The Wolfman, and Hidalgo. Three swings, three misses. Rocketeer was alright, and October Sky was a sweet, if overly sentimental, movie. Does he have the chops to pull of a movie like Captain America? His track record would say no, but apparently Joss Whedon (Serenity) is doing a re-write of the script. We'll see what happens...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

List of the Week: My Favorite Album Titles

Naming your album is an art, and one that gets forgotten from time to time. I mean when you are a kid the first thing you do when you create a faux-band with your best friend is name your band, and then you give your band's debut a name--then you start playing music. From the awesome to the ridiculous here we go:

"The World is NOT a Cold Dead Place" by Explosions in the Sky

"Building Nothing Out of Something" by Modest Mouse (In all honesty any of MM's album titles could be on here

"Let it Bleed" by The Rolling Stones

"Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven" by Godspeed You! Black Emperor

"It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back" by Public Enemy

"I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass" Yo La Tengo

"Birth of the Cool" by Miles Davis

"Louder than Bombs" by The Smiths

"Appetite for Destruction" by Guns 'N Roses

"I And Love And You" by The Avett Brothers

Monday, April 19, 2010

Treme Ep. 1.2: Meet De Boys on the Battlefront

So I've decided to write a weekly recap/reflection on what is turning out to be the one of the best shows on television: David Simon's Treme. The follow-up to the series premier had a big job. It's predecessor succeeded in introducing characters and creating a tone for the series. This weeks episode needed to continue its successful march by delving deeper into these characters lives and keeping us interested. It was triumphant.

This week brought the funny, albeit with some dark and disturbing elements. It opens up with the sacrificing of a chicken during a live radio session, which ends up getting our lovable DJ Davis (Steve Zahn) fired. It was a strange, humorous, if unsettling opening to our show. Davis gets a new job at a hotel and proceeds to send tourists, who happen to be in New Orleans on a mission trip, to the seedier side of New Orleans so that they can indeed get a taste of the culture of the city. They go missing, and Davis goes jobless, again. His heart is apparently much bigger than his sense of logic--but we love him for it.

A theme that I thought was interesting throughout the episode was that of pride or respect. Antoine (Wendell Pierce) goes to a gig on Bourbon Street at a strip-club. He is ashamed thinking it is beneath him, but people console him by saying "There is pride on Bourbon Street." Antoine is not convinced. Creighton (John Goodman)is wanting to get back to writing his book about the history of floods in New Orleans (he is already 250 pages in), but he doesn't want to be seen as cashing in on tragedy.

The most jaw-dropping moment of last night's episode was when Albert (Clarke Peters) confronted the thug who stole his tools. We expected a philosophical chat after Albert slammed him up against the wall, but what we got instead was a brutal beating. Albert took a crobar and beat the boy (he couldn't have been older than 20 years old) to death. Could it be that Treme has it's own Omar Little in the tragic figure of Mardi Gras Indian Chief Albert Lambreaux?

Treme continues to deliver when it comes to writing, acting, and music. If it stays on the track that it's on it will be a force to be reckon with come awards season.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Roethlisberger's Uphill Battle

By now we have all heard that the charges against Big Ben have been dropped. We all know about the message that the Rooney's sent to the Steelers by trading troubled Superbowl MVP Santonio Holmes to the New York Jets for a measly 5th round pick.

Now what is next?

Wallace should fit just fine in Holmes' spot, he basically recreated Holmes' Superbowl-winning catch in the game against Green Bay last season. We know that talent is no question for Wallace. The kid can play and it's his time to step up. But what about getting the ball to him? How will Big Ben bounce back after he let down his team and his city by putting himself in a bad situation. Ben has a lot to prove and he needs to do it now.

Honestly, I think he's gonna go through a lot at the away games from the hecklers. They will not be kind to Ben (as if they ever were). But this is the NFL and this is part of the game. As Tomlin likes to say in the locker room, the Steelers are a "Band of Brothers" and this is no one-man show. This is the team with the legacy of "Mean" Joe Green, Jack Lambert, Terry Bradshaw and Jerome Bettis. The Steelers need to prove why it's an honor to walk in those player's footsteps. Why it's a privelage to don the black and the gold.

The off-season isnt over yet--or even close to it--and I'm already pumped for game day. This is the situation we are in. Big Ben and the Steelers need to show the world that they are the most dangerous team in the NFL. It's time to go back to what the Steelers are known for, smash-mouth football.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Treme: A New Beginning

HBO used to be the holy grail for television. It had The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Deadwood, The Wire, and Sex and the City. All groundbreaking shows in their own respect. Band of Brothers showed us war from beginning to end and pushed the limits for what a miniseries could do. And Entourage was good, if brainless, fun. But those shows have since ended (or fizzled out if you're talking about Entourage) and a new crop of shows started to try to fill the gaps.

Alan Ball's True Blood tried to cash in on the country's vampire phase, but never really caught on (though it the show does have some very loyal followers that swear by it), and Big Love always felt like a Six Feet Under rip off. Other than those two, all of HBO's newer shows (John from Cincinatti , Tell Me You Love Me, In Treatment ) struck out. None could capture the allure, the weight, the quality of the premium channel's previous shows. In short, there was nothing new in these shows, nothing groundbreaking. And we have come to expect nothing less from HBO. After a few years we began to lose faith.

And then last night the premiere episode of David Simon's (The Wire)Treme premiered. We had been waiting for the second coming of HBO and I believe it came last night soaked in jazz and flood water. The sprawling premiere introduced us to people who were coming back home, to find that their home had been changed. The watermarks were over their heads, everything they owned had been destroyed. Loved ones were still missing and the city's infrastructure was virtually nonexistant. Reporters came to the city trying to understand the tragedy, but they just cant. To really feel the heartache of losing your home, you had to be a native of "The City That Care Forgot".

The writing is naturalistic and on-point, the acting subtle and heartbreaking, and the soundtrack pulses like no other. The music and culture of New Orleans are just as much a character in the show as any living thing. The parades that take place in the streets are an enigma at first. How on earth can people parade in their city after it has been leveled by floods. But at the end of the show you understand. These people parade because they have to. They parade because it is in their blood, in their soul.

And the show will not leave out the politics, it is of course about the after effects of Hurricane Katrina. However, what is interesting is that the show doesnt seem to point fingers at any one person. As one character (played by John Goodman) booms "this was a Federal fuck-up of epic proportions." Everyone is to blame for this catastrophe. The Federal Government, FEMA, the Local Government, the Police. Everyone.

Treme premiered just after one of the most intense episodes of The Pacific (another fantastic miniseries that adds to the regeneration of HBO). I looked over to my fiance and whispered about how Treme now had a lot to live up to. From the first blast of the trombone, Treme hit it's stride and never let up. We are being brought along on a journey, a rebirth of the soul as we watch these people return to their lives to pick up where they left off. The pain is real as characters are being portrayed by real Katrina survivors (most of which were in the Spike Lee documentary When The Levees Broke).

With Boardwalk Empire, (a gangster series from the minds of Timothy Van Patten and Martin Scorsese) premiering in the fall we can only expect the best. The thing is, Treme has set the bar unbelievably high. Treme is art on a television screen. Time will only tell if it will live up to it's expectations. If it will indeed mark a new beginning for HBO.

Count this viewer in the believer category.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Film Review: Shutter Island

Martin Scorsese is one of my heros. Honestly, if I were to pick people who made me who I am today (excluding family and friends of course) Scorsese would be very close to, if not at the top of the list. He is a master of cinema, and all of his films have stuck with me and challenged me in ways that other films haven't. The only director today that comes close is the incredible Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia, There Will Be Blood), but only time will tell whether he wil be able to match the cinematic prowess held by Scorsese.

Shutter Island is Scorsese's latest film and it is a masterpiece of the neo-noir genre. Scorsese has taken the darkened hallways of an Massachusetts insane asylum and turned them into a beautiful contemplation of what our minds our capable of. DiCaprio turns in one of his best performances (which if you ask me is saying something) as the tortured detective, Teddy Daniels, trying to solve the mystery of a missing patient, but unbeknownst to everyone else, Daniels has a hidden agenda that unravels as the film plays on.

And of course, there is the twist at the end that everyone is talking about. And here is my opinion about it: it's not that the twist is so shocking, but it adds a meaning and gives the film a sudden depth that forces the film to stay with you. The twist actually adds something to the movie if you allow it to sink in the way that it is supposed to. This is certainly a film that improves on repeat viewings.

The cinematography and editing are top-notch as Scorsese uses just about every trickin the book to capture the images and emotions that he wants. Daniels is haunted by flashbacks of his deceased wife as well as horrors that he witnessed during his campaign in World War II. These sequences are done with a phantasmagorical flair, matching on-screen beauty (although sometimes graphic the images are indeed somehow still beautiful) with incredible music. Scorsese wants you to know how much these events, these people, mean to Daniels. He wants you to know the weight that he carries on his shoulders, and he succeeds wildly.

I will admit that this is a difficult movie. But it is a rewarding one if you allow it to be. Scorsese is one of the best artists creating today and Shutter Island is a marvel. The same Scorsese themes are present: human nature, guilt, and the essence of violece; but he uses those themes to explore new ones as well such as the lengths the human mind will go to protect the body.

Scorsese is my favorite filmmaker not just because he makes great films, it's because his films apply to things outside of the world of celluloid. His films are cinematic marvels as well as gateways for people to explore themselves and the world around them. He is a master of his craft and his art demands to be seen, and Shutter Island is no exception.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Things I've Been Into Lately...

Work has finally started to slow down (for now) and I've been able to set aside some time for the finer things in life.

Lia Daniele Kerner-This goes without saying.

She & Him Vol. 2- I really love this album and I find myself listening to it a lot at work. Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward continue to refine their sound, making the best Indie record Nancy Sinatra never made.

The Fantastic Mr. Fox- Lia and I watched this the other afternoon and thought it was absolutely hilarious. We've been quoting it to each other ever since. Wes Anderson needs to make more movies--one per year will do (as long as the quality holds up).

The "Perfect" Townhouse- Shhh...(Lia and I think we found it--but we're trying not to jinx it).

Springtime- Now that the snow has melted away and the grass has turned from tan to deep green I have no problem walking the dogs. Deep breaths of semi-warm air is good for the soul.

Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago- This record hasn't gotten old yet...and I dont think that it will ever.

Flying Dog Pale Ale- The best beer ever, in my humble opinion.

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers- I started this a while ago and work got crazy so I had to pause. But seriously this book is incredible and I recommend it to everyone.

The Pacific on HBO- The sister miniseries to Band of Brothers, this engaging miniseries tells the stories of three marines during the Pacific campaign in WWII. It's brilliant, thought-provoking, and extremely well-made.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

David and Lia’s (5 Year) Bucket List

1) Pay Off Credit Cards

2) Leave the Country (Twice)

3) Attend a music festival

4) Attend a film festival (Cucalores doesn’t count)

5) Take a road trip (longer than 2 days of driving)

6) Potty Train Marlee

7) Go to one Steelers game a season

8) Buy a house

9) Find jobs we like (or advance in the ones we do)

10) Visit California

11) See more concerts

12) See all best picture nominees each year

13) Read (at least) 5 books a year

14) Write a screenplay

15) Learn an instrument

16) Go to Europe

17) Get a big screen TV (and a blu-ray player)

18) Enter one short story contest

19) Volunteer

20) Do something special with our siblings

21) See EVERY Bruce Springsteen tour

22) Exercise together more

23) Go skydiving

24) See a broadway play

25) Vacation every single summer (and get a tan)

26) Visit our friends more (buy cowboy boots when visiting Lindsey Johnson in Texas