Tuesday, October 26, 2010


One of my favorite articles on the ever-pretentious Pitchforkmedia.com 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.