Sunday, August 31, 2008

The 10 Common Fruit and Vegetable Juices, Worst to Best

I will go ahead and admit that "common juices" isn't actually a technical term or anything, but I excluded combinations of juices, which means these are about the only ones that anyone ever really has. Also they're the only ones named on the Wikipedia entry for "Juice."

10. Tomato Juice

This one loses a lot of points and ends up this far back not because it's disgusting--it's not, really--but because it's such a generally unacceptable drink by itself. You keep this stuff around to make bloody marys, not actually to consume on its own. And this is a list about JUICES, not about COMBINATIONS, as I already articulated. Also, it's the official state drink of Ohio, and Ohio sucks.

9. Carrot Juice

Who drinks this shit?

8. Pineapple Juice

This one, like tomato juice, is used frequently as a mixer, but not so much as to completely overshadow its importance as a beverage, a task at which it sucks. Come on, guys, this stuff is sour in the bad way, made from probably the most overrated fruit ever, and comes in those weird gross cans where you have to puncture the inch-thick lid keeping the world safe from pineapple juice.

7. Orange Juice

Okay, here. Orange juice is an okay juice. It's not a bad juice, it goes well with breakfast things in general, etc. etc. There's just no reason it should be the most-consumed juice. It's entirely mediocre. Every time I have it without pulp I think I probably like it with pulp better, and every time I have it with pulp, I think I probably like it without pulp better. The truth is that I just don't like orange juice that much.

6. Grapefruit Juice

Now we are starting to get into the "better than average" juices, but not that far into it, and actually this should still be in the "worse than average" category if I'm taking "5.5" as "average" "position" and if I could "do" "math." However, grapefruit juice trumps (HAHA THATS MY NAME) orange juice in the citrus juice category, and it's one of the few juices that I think is actually substantially better than simply eating the fruit that produces it. (This may be mostly because grapefruits are annoying to eat.)

5. Pomegranate Juice

Here is where these juices start to get seriously delicious. Pomegranate juice is kind of the snobby, uppity newcomer to this list, but we shouldn't dismiss it for that reason, because it is very tasty. I don't really give a shit about this antioxidants are the key to health movement, but I am awfully glad that the focus on them has brought to our attention this delicious juice. It is really expensive though, and it can leave an oddly unsatisfied aftertaste in your mouth, though, so pomegranate juice comes in at number five.

4. Mango Juice

Yesssss this stuff tastes really good. Mango is an excellent fruit, and its juice is excellent as well. I know mango isn't actual citrus, but I think of its juice in the same category as orange and grapefruit juice, and it definitely destroys those two. I am craving some mango juice right now as I am typing this.

Also, important to mango is the ability to shout out the Eddie Izzard line "Freeshly squeeeeezed mango juuuuiiiiice" (at about 4:36 in that clip, all of which is good).

(NOTE: If you do this and the mango juice isn't actually freshly squeezed, Eddie will find you and kill you.)

3. Grape Juice

Grape juice, like another member of this list that I'm not naming BECAUSE YOU'RE NOT THERE YET, is something that a lot of people associate with childhood. Apparently, kids like grape juice enough so that vitamin companies made vitamins that tasted like grape juice, Fun-Dip made Fun-Dip that tasted like grape juice, and the Greek kids made wine. (That didn't really make sense or work as a joke, but I'm moving on.) Notice that all of those grape-flavored things (yes, all two of them I named, but also there are more) taste way more like grape juice than they taste like grapes. That's because stuff that actually tasted like grapes would be watery and not all that great. I love grapes, but grape juice is just actual good flavor of grapes more concentrated, ergo better.

Kids like grape juice because they're awesome and grape juice is awesome.

If you drank grape juice instead of wine at church, you are going to hell.

If white grape juice were on this list, it would be probably between 4 and 5.

2. Cranberry Juice

Cranberry juice is extremely sour and extremely scrumptious. It's another one that has a lot of rep as a good mixer (which it is), but it is also delectable on its own, and that is what earns it a place here. Also important to cranberry juice is the ability to quote The Departed while drinking it, which is actually much more integral to cranberry juice than Izzard is to mango juice.

Yes, I have decided that what you can mix juice with doesn't count for anything, but what lines you can quote while drinking it are important. Fuck you. This is my list.

Cranberry is also a superfruit, which means it fights crime.

1. Apple Juice

If you do not agree with this choice, you have not drunk enough apple juice. Specifically, you have not drunk enough Martinelli's apple juice, which is one of the finest beverages in the world, if not THE finest. Apple juice is better than apple cider because it just is.

You liked apple juice when you were a kid because you were cool. Now you think you like orange juice better because it is more socially acceptable. The Man is getting you down. The Man likes orange juice more than apple juice because he is a stupid dick.

Drink more apple juice and live a happier life.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Top 33 Fictional Haircuts

I wrote this on the Amtrak train from Buffalo to NYC, you guys! That train ride was a legitimately bad experience! Don't worry, though. Tomorrow, you will get the many thoughts that ran through my head as the train whistled (or lurched, at times) through the New York state wilderness.

Today, though... fictional haircuts! They're haircuts that don't exist! So don't ask the barber for them or he/she will look at you funny.

33. The Belvedere/Belding

32. The Common Loon

31. The Joe Vs. The Volcano

30. The Dan Uggla

29. The G.K. Chesterton

28. The Look Lively

27. The Six Figure Celery

26. The Duckblind

25. The Saltlick

24. The Dice-K

23. The Eager Mike

22. The Times They Are A-Changin'

21. The Dennis Franz

20. The Sidd Finch

19. The Dad Can't Lose

18. The Weekend Updike

17. The Thurman Bunsen

16. The Leaning Loomis

15. The Capitol Steps

14. The Mitch McCroy Special

13. The Manifest Destiny

12. The American Jesus

11. The American Public

10. The More than a Feeling

9. The Comeback Kid

8. The Cardiac Kid

7. The Cincinnati Kid

6. The Best Years of Our Lives

5. The Chuck (as well as its variants, The Flipped Chuck, The Flopped Chuck, The 

Flung Chuck, and The Far-Fetched, but Still Entertaining Chuck)

4. The Ghostbuster

3. The Gutbuster

3. The Buttguster

2. The Boastguster

1. The Ghostbuster 2

Friday, August 29, 2008

57 Things that Went Through My Head When I Read that Sarah Palin Was the Republican VP Nominee

In the style of this list, which was basically a way for me to cheat what is supposed to be a restrictive format (but ended up being one of my lists that I was happier with), I will present my real-time thoughts from today about McCain's VP nominee.

1. Really?
2. ...REALLY?
3. ...REALLY?!
4. He can't possibly think that Clinton supporters are that dumb, can he?
5. ...are they?
6. Okay, stop being a sexist asshole, Rob, maybe he picked her for non-obvious reasons.
7. Let's take a look at her political record. What is the best repository of accurate information?
8. Wikipedia.
9. I love the fact that I can think that with a straight face. This century rules.
11. This century rulez.
13. Okay, Sarah Palin. Let's hope she isn't some "insultingly female" choice who conforms to standard outmoded notions of feminity.
14. In 1984, Palin won the Miss Wasilla beauty contest, where she played the flute and won "Miss Congeniality."
15. Well, fuck. This isn't starting well.
16. Okay, well it's obviously not an attempt to swing Alaska, which he'll win.
17. Maybe even more of the Republican vote will go to Alaska now.
18. Maybe they will SUPER-WIN Alaska.
19. That would be pretty cool, right? If your party won some high percentage, like 80% of the vote in a state then...
20. 80% of your vote would go to the Electoral College?
21. Oh right, I just remembered that the Electoral College is retarded.
22. Nice one, Rob, rail against the Electoral College. Tough target, man. That's like challenging a manual burn victim to a thumb war.
23. Wow. Here is a direct copy/paste from Wikipedia: "Palin, when asked about Senator Clinton's complaints regarding her coverage by the press, said 'that doesn't do us any good, women in politics, women in general, wanting to progress this country...when I hear a statement like that from from any woman, I think that there is a perceived whine.'"
24. Oof.
25. Let's watch that video that is the source material.
26. Oh my God, she sounds like a jerk given that quotation, but she comes off as completely reasonable in the interview, and the words are obviously removed from context.
27. It's almost as if someone wrote that Wikipedia article intentionally to distort the issue.
28. She also said that she wanted a sports scholarship, but couldn't get one, so she did the beauty pageants to get a scholarship that way.
29. That is actually completely reasonable. I am at a loss.
30. Wikipedia has misrepresented things.
31. I might have to start taking Wikipedia with a grain of salt in the future.
33. That is kinda bad, though.
34. She's still a weird choice.
35. It doesn't with jibe the "experience" stuff...
36. But it's not like the experience stuff wasn't stupid in the first place.
37. It's not actually because anyone really thinks offshore drilling is a serious issue in this election, is it? That would suck.
38. Anyone whose vote is affected by the "issue" of offshore drilling is missing parts of their brain.
39. It's on par with abortion and gay marriage as far as issues that people don't really have to be that informed on in order to have strong opinions.
41. AND...
42. AND...
44. Hey, guess what was a bad idea, Rob? Doing a list related to politics, because it makes you a preachy unfunny asshole.
45. Which is how I am on every other list. Never mind.
46. I am going to finish that thought anyway, which is that the debate on offshore drilling is basically "I LIEK POLAR BARES" vs. "FILING UP F150 COST TOO MCUH," where the latter issue won't be affected and the former doesn't matter because the environment is gay anyway.
47. ...And the environment probably won't be affected, or whatever my "serious" reason on that one is.
48. Anyway, it's a stupid way for stupid people to reduce the economy to a stupid issue about stupid stupid stupidity.
49. Now I'm angry. Time to get a haircut.
50. I am now getting a haircut. I have thoughts very infrequently.
51. "Do I want my hair styled in a fauxhawk?" Just because that question is hilarious to ask as the first question after you are done cutting my hair, and because I'm a masochist who enjoys doing terrible things to himself, I am going to say, "Yes."
49. Good one Rob, now you look like an asshole.
50. That was something that obviously really happened today that I wanted to fit in here but I couldn't.
51. I am now breaking the rules of a format I created to break the rules of this blog. Maybe meta-ing everything out will fix it all.
53. Yep, it did.
54. Okay, people are infuriated because she's pro-life, blah blah, anti-gay, blah blah, well guess what? THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IS CURRENTLY BOTH THOSE THINGS. Are you really that fucking surprised that McCain chose a Republican as his VP nom?
55. And seriously, she comes off as reasonable if wholly divergent from my political opinions, which is what I also think about McCain, so you know what? They're a nice match. Even if she is the same age as one of his daughters.
56. Maybe he picked her for a crass reason, since I can't really see why else, but honestly? She's not a bad choice, and I'd be happier with her as VP than I would with Tim Pawlenty, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, etc. etc.
57. Never do political lists again, Rob. That thing about your lame fauxhawk was the funniest part of this.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Top 13 Grilled Cheese Cheeses

Oh my gosh, everybody! I have to tell you this before I start on my list for the night. Today, during Barack Obama's acceptance speech, he totally looked right at me and smiled! When our eyes met, my heart died a little (in a good way) and my soul peed a lot (in a great way). It is time for us to America once again! I just used America as a verb... I have been waiting so long to do that!

Therefore, it makes sense that tonight's list is about grilled cheese sandwiches, specifically the best cheeses with which to make them!

13. Brie
These first few cheeses do not come without some qualification. They need accompaniment, they need assistance; in fact, these cheeses need so much help to make a good grilled cheese, one might ask if such a sandwhich can still be classified as a grilled cheese sandwich. Nevertheless, let's continue. Brie is a soft cheese. When you melt it, it's gooey and borderline runny. It makes for a weird consistency on grilled bread. This is why you throw on some meat (turkey or ham will do nicely) and some condiments with bite. Mustard--good, sharp, yellow mustard--does the trick real well. But isn't this like, some sort of grilled cheese welfare system? Aren't we just giving brie handouts to supplement its flaws? The beauty of the grilled sandwich is its brevity, its ease of composition, not some with-a-little-help-from-my-friends song and dance routine.

12. Gruyere
Gruyere is polar opposite of brie when it comes to its potential as a grilled cheese cheese. It's hard, it's taste is complex--mixing sweet, salty, nutty, and... earthy? THX WIKIPEEDS. Throw this cheese on a sandwich, and it becomes the frontliner. It's the Reggie Jackson of cheeses. The French put it on their croque monsieurs. I say, good for the French. I want to be able to appreciate the jambon, guy. (That means ham in Frenchman-talk!) The best thing I ever had gruyere on was a burger. To really balance out this cheese, you need to slam it up against a big-ass, beefy burger patty. That really says something.

11. Manchego
UM, YOU GUYS. There is a fantastic creation being manufactured at the 9th Avenue Vinter's Beer and Cheese Annex. Manchego + chorizo + quince paste + panini = your mouth just died and went to heaven. Buuuuuuuuuuut... again, we have the cheese-welfare argument. Is that a grilled cheese sandwich or some other taste creation that happens to use cheese and some sort of grilling/pressing procedure. (PS: Anyone who knows/gives a damn about grilled cheese actually fries their sandwich.) It's too hard and cranky to throw it on alone, ya need the chorizo and the quince!!! Still, though. It's amazing.

10. Swiss
This is not my first choice of cheeses. I'm not a Swiss kind of guy. But I understand the appeal. It's like Lars Von Trier movies, I guess. I know they're well-made and, to borrow a phrase, at least there's an ethos. (OMG, Lebowski fans, did I just equate Dogme films to Nazism?! PLEASE ADVISE!) What I'm trying to say is that if you're ordering swiss on your grilled cheese, you probably know what you're doing. You like subtley. You crave minimalism. That's cool. I don't. (But I'll admit that Swiss reaches towards the right kind of consistency, and more important, the stand-alone nature, that potentially makes for a good grilled cheese.)

9. Havarti
Hi, Havarti. It's time we had a little chat. I think you're a good, semi-soft cheese with an interesting buttery flavor. You go really well with Pinot Noir, and that's great. You have these neat, little wholes and I think that's both iconoclastic and iconic. But I think you have a little bit of an inferiority complex. You don't think the cool kids will like you as you are, so you try to gussy your shit up with additives... dill, cranberry, jalapeno, carraway. What even is a carraway?! (Dear The Carraway Caucus. I know what you are, it was something called a joke. Why don't you look up Please, Havarti. "To thine own self, be true." I'm pretty sure that's from High School Musical, so... y'know.

8. Jarlsberg
Rob lobbied for Jarlsberg's inclusion and I totally support his choice. According to Wikipedia, the Jarlsberg we eat today is actually a re-invention of a recipe that died out, begging the question--if it's so good, why did it go extinct? As Jeff Goldblum says in Jurassic Park (because really, in every movie, isn't he just "Jeff Goldblum"), "Dinosaurs, they they they, they had their chance!" Jarlsberg, I'm glad you're back in the land of living cheeses but I see why people let you slide beyond the pale. You're kind of a weird Swiss-Havarti mix. And that's cool, y'know, nothing against mixing different things. You managed to improve on both cheese, frankly. But, um, couldn't we have just put two different cheeses on one sandwich and given that a try instead?

7. Provolone
Provolone is like your boring friend with a great DVD collection. You go over to watch a movie, but then you have to talk to them afterwards and it is SO hard. You're always thinking, "Man, you sure do suck at conversations, but you wouldn't know it from all the Criterion Collection DVDs you own! Oh man, can I borrow The Third Man?" (In this analogy, Provolone's actual taste is the boring part, and I guess the hypothetical promise of Provolone is the DVDs.) When I see provolone, my gut reaction is, "I like that! It fuses bread together so well! It isn't messy! It has a subtle yet original flavor!" But then when I order it, I remember, oh wait, provolone has no kick, no zest, no flair! Practically, you've got it going on. But you're not a performer, provolone.

6. Sottocenere
This cheese is Rob's baby. (Wow, I needed a lot of help with my cheese list.) I will cut and paste our gchat on the subject, as I have no recollection of trying this cheese:

"Rob: it is a really really soft cheese that has like a mild-type flavor somehow without being mild

11:46 PM i feel like problems with other grilled cheeses are like...
11:46 PM cheddar - too overwhelming towards bread

11:47 PM provolone - better in that direction but without any bite
11:47 PM munster - similar, and one of the best, but still not enough bite and a little to hard to melt that nicely
11:47 PM sottocenere is somehow really soft and not disrespectful towards bread but with enough bite

11:48 PM "not disrespectful towards bread"
11:48 PM what the fuck am i saying"

I dunno, man. But I am legally bound to agree with you.

5. Cheddar
Oh, hi there, upset. Look at me, I'm Cheddar... I take it for granted that everyone loves me, I've been on top for soooo long that I've lost touch with what it means to be a cheese of the people, I've started to be composed of sub-standard ingredients and some pundits are suggesting that I'm losing my touch. LISTEN UP, CHEDDAR. You could easily have been up with too hard/too soft cheeses. I'm tired of your bullshit. You used to define cheese for me, sir. You used to be the obvious answer to the question "What kind of cheese do you want on that thing you ordered?" Now, you are in danger of becoming the t-shirt of cheese. Oh, you don't get that? Read my last list!

4. Monterey Jack
Doesn't this cheese sound like a cowboy pirate? And Pepper Jack is like Pepper Potts from Iron Man... she's the cowboy pirate's long-suffering secretary and sometime love interest. Wow, this is a spicy hypothetical second-life for Monterey Jack! Also, it goes well when toasted or fried between two slices of bread. My only complaint is that it is sometimes it is hard to cut you and arrange you on a sandwich such that you are fully melted into one integrated mass of cheese.

3. Mozzarella
Oh yeah, I'm going there. This is a stand-up cheese, ladies and gentlemen. You love it on pizza. You love it in little ball shapes with tomatoes and spices. And admit it, it makes a DAMN good grilled cheese. It's not always practical, it's certainly not my number one ungrilled cheese choice, but when you apply an open flame to this cheese, something magical happens. It's like a ballplayer who only seems to hit when the game, nay, the season, is on the line. Some may say you play when you want to play, mozzarella, but I am grateful for those moments!

2. Muenster
Ooooh, Muenster cheese. How I love you. You are salty, which I like. You are melty, which is great. You come in such a form that bread-sized slices of you are possible, which is convenient! You go well on any bread and always bring out the flavor in said bread. You have a funny-to-spell name--awesome. You remind me of "The Munsters"--great. Once, a deli-guy knew me as Muenster Man, which is cool, because that sounds like Monster Man, which makes me some sort of half-man, half-monster, who also is particular about his cheeses!

1. American
YOU GUYS. BARACK OBAMA IS GOING TO BE THE NEXT PRESIDENT. BECAUSE OF THIS, I WOULD FEEL WEIRD AND FRANKLY, TRAITOROUS, IF I DIDN'T PICK AMERICAN AS THE NUMBER ONE CHEESE. And let's be honest. Two slices of bread and some Kraft singles are a heavenly combo. Throw in some milk and tomato soup and you have just America'd your stomach. Yes, we can! Yes, we can! YES, WE CAN!

Top 7 Reasons Why I Just Switched to the Web Browser Opera

Well, I just today changed over from Mozilla Firefox, which used to be the best browser available, to Opera, which is now the best browser.  It became the best browser as soon as I got it because I'm really cool.  Here's why (no not a list of why I'm really cool that would be pretty much infinity long):

7. Opera has a pretty sweet name

It reminds me of, like, opera the music, you know?  I mean, I don't actually ever listen to Tristan und Isolde, or whatever, but if I did I would be pretty cultured, so I'll probably continue to lie about it and say I do.

6. The new Ctrl+F function on Firefox is really stupid about capital letters

Here is a serious grievance.  Anyone who has the latest version of Firefox, hit Ctrl+F and then search on the page for "firefox" (no caps).  It won't return ANY hits.  And they CHANGED that function.  It makes SO much more fucking sense for it to return search results no matter the capitalization, like Firefox used to and Opera definitely does.  That way I can search websites for things like "supakoolgurl815" and get a result for "sUpAkOoLgUrL815," which is probably the most important thing you can do with the internet.

(EDIT: Oh my God this is apparently becuase I had "match case" checked. IDIOT HERE WHO SHOULD PUT IN FOR A TRANSFER TO THE 17TH CENTURY.)

5. Opera features include "Spatial navigation" and "Web 2.0 Forms," NEITHER of which Firefox has

Okay I actually have no idea what those mean I just took them from here.

4. Ryan North uses Opera

Ryan North, creator of Daily Dinosaur Comics and patron saint of this website, has stated several times that he uses Opera.  Also, now that I have named him the patron saint of this website, I would like to take a minute to name The Replacements our official band, Minnesota our official state, and Warren Zevon our official singer-songwriter.  AND ALL OF THOSE PEOPLE USE OPERA.

Yes, that's right, the state of Minnesota uses Opera.

3. Opera has this sweet thing called "Speed Dial"

It's this thing where you open a tab and all the sudden there is like a PHONE NUMBER PAD-y thing and you click on like 9 or whatever and my #9 is this blog and you go there right away.  It's like bookmarks but easier and cooler and better by so much.  And it makes me feel retro by reminding me of phones.  Remember when everybody used those?  Different time, the sixties.

2. Firefox was messing up streaming internet videos on my computer a lot

This is pretty much the only actually real reason why I switched, but shh, don't tell the other reasons that.  YouTube videos often don't load on Firefox for me, or they load about two seconds and freeze.  Same goes with most other streaming videos.  For instance, say hello to this little bit of hilarity (from Jake and Amir, who are fucking awesome):

Lunch Meeting from Amir on Vimeo.

If you're on Firefox and that isn't playing for you, well, it's FIREFOX'S FAULT.  SWITCH TO OPERA NOW.

(Note: There may be some easy way to fix this Firefox problem that I don't know, in which case, I'm stupid and didn't need to go to all this trouble.)

(Another note: Internet Explorer also plays videos fine for me, but what am I, a philistine?)

1. Opera is totally way more indie

Ha, I was kidding about the above being the only real reason I switched.  THIS is the only real reason I switched.  Seriously, look at this graph, of current browser user share:

Man, how played out does Firefox look, bitches?  See that red sliver?  That's Opera.  Fewer people use OPERA than OTHER, what now?  Opera is the indie-est browser right now.  Hopefully, once a lot of people start using Opera, another even indie-er one will come out so I can switch to that one and talk about how I only liked Opera's early stuff.

(Note: I actually tried to switch to Opera about a year ago because I thought it would be indie-er and make me cooler, but after a week I decided I didn't like it as much and switched back.  But I'm not switching back now, because they changed some of the features I didn't like.  For instance, when you right click something, you can now open it in a foreground OR background tab.  This is the kind of versatility I demand from free products I download from the internet to made me hipper.)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Top 18 Overrated Things

Well, I have to admit it... Rob's second-to-most-recent post really inspired me. Reading about all that music that people overrate so frequently, compounded by the arduous two-day task of composing my favorite last tracks, has really gotten me thinking: maybe it would be easier if I took a swing at some things I don't like! Now, I'm not good at specifics... we all know that. So, this is going to be a pretty wide-ranging list. However, you can be sure that hobos, vice-presidents, and fictional plot devices won't be on it. (Hey nerdos! I just linked to a bunch of my old lists... in case you haven't read them! I want you to get a sense for who I am so that we might one day be able to call each other friends!!!)

18. Butterflies
Why do you people like butterflies so much? All day, all I hear is, "Oh my gosh, I saw the cutest butterfly today. It was in a stroller and its mom looked so proud and it was sort of pointing and laughing at me on the subway. OMFG so cute." You guys... that sounds boring. I can point and laugh, why don't you like me? It's just that, um... I mean... what I'm trying to say is... wait. You meant babies, right? Shoot. I like babies.

17. The electoral college
Ugh... this one has me real angry, you guys. And I'm not going to screw it up like babies/butterflies. (And now that I think about it, I don't like babies that much. They are scary-looking and wrinkly and they shit without warning and no one yells at them!) Anyway. The electoral college is seriously overrated. Just ask Sammy Tilden, Grover Cleveland, Al Gore. These are the only three guys in US History to have won the popular vote, but lost the electoral vote. They would have been three of the sweetest presidents, too! Well... okay, fine, Grover Cleveland had two other chances, once before this loss, and once after... and maybe Gore is more effective as a powerpoint-writer/award-winner... but seriously, Tilden was a Nic Cage-style badass. More importantly... the E.C. makes it possible for a candidate to win eleven--ELEVEN--of our fifty states [the most populous 11, obvs: California (55 votes), Texas (34), New York (31), Florida (27) Illinois (21), Pennsylvania (21), Ohio (20), Michigan (17), Georgia (15), New Jersey (15), and North Carolina (15)] and still win the election. The other candidate would have an overwhelming victory in the popular vote, but come Inauguration Day, they'd be nursing a double whiskey coke and growing a beard. That's BULL.

16. Man-eating anythings
Why do we reward these assholes? Oh, hey, huge sharks that kill humans! Let's give you a week of programming--maybe you can use those commercial blocks to peddle your pro-Carcharodon message of people-munching. What up, big mean bears! You wanna star in a documentary? How about a bunch of them! Great! AGH, my face! Guess what. We are easy to kill. We are fleshy, pale, hairless things who like microwave hot wings and internet porn. Ruthless killing machines shouldn't be so proud about doing us in... we were easy prey. And we shouldn't congratulate them!

15. Hybrids (if you buy a shitty hybrid)
Aw, man! I just bought a hybrid and I am totally doing my part! My carbon footprint is like, a baby shoe! I am a better human than that fat man spreading mayonnaise on his belly! Wait, what? Not all hybrids are created equal? Some just flat-out blow? WHOA! I sure hope I fall on the right side of that fence! DO YOUR RESEARCH, AUTO-CONSUMERS! THEY HAVE MAGAZINES ON THIS STUFF! (I THINK!)

14. Early SNL
When they released the first season on DVD, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. But, I'm poor, so I didn't. Luckily someone left it in Caitlin's suite in EC, so now we own it? The thing is, when I watched it, there were long, long stretches of sketches that were just... bad. Like, weirdly bad. And like, badly weird. It's cool to see drugged-up people make fools of themselves, but when you have these incredibly juiced up perceptions of them already, to see them do it is just, well, sad. I'm obviously not saying there weren't incredibly funny moments... the iconography is there, no doubt. (And even the most batshit Muppets sketches are better than what has passed for humor on recent seasons of SNL, if for no other reason than there was some effort evident in their sheer absurdity.) But... I dunno, man. I wasn't blown away.

13. The color red
I am tired of meeting people whose favorite color is red. (Frankly, I am tired of meeting people who want to talk about their favorite color.) So many bad things are red! Blood, red pen marks on bad essay, red states... that's only three and I'm having a panic attack! Also, what about when the stock market loses points--they report that shit in RED. You owe it to the economy and therefore America (whose favorite thing is economics) to not like red anymore. Go turn in your government -issued Favorite Color Cards now!

12. Feta cheese
This is a good cheese to have on, say, a gyro or... on the side of some souvlaki. Maybe on top of a Greek salad. Great! If you are doing any of these things, you are eating Greek food. DUDE. How often do you do that? Probs like, three times a month. IF YOU'RE REALLY WEIRDLY INTO GREEK FOOD. And yet, when people list their top five cheeses (which is all the times), feta always sneaks in! What is that!? GUYS! You know you don't like feta that much! You just like saying feta! That's fine, but wait until you've thought of a fifth cheese and then say it as much as you like! Feta feta feta... I GET IT. But, please... Jarlsberg. Havarti. Muenster. Colby fucking Jack, if you must. But not feta, friends.

11. Lemons
Lemons are a fine garnish on fish or in iced tea, but I personally think that limes beat them in every other category. Lime goes better in beer. Key Lime Pie >>> Lemon Merengue. Lime-infused tortilla chips are more addictive than morphine. No one calls Brits "lemonies". Also, I would rather eat a whole lime than a whole lemon. Just sayin'. (BTW: Jack Lemmon is totally cool.)

10. Calling Derek Jeter overrated
Sports dudes. (Of which I am one.) You are in a business that is a little different than music. Whereas musicians like Radiohead do not show up on trading cards with their "music stats" printed on the back, athletes do. (Sidebar: how sweet would music trading cards be?!?!?!?! Built To Spill's card would have stats like "Jangly, angular guitar riffs per album: 6.3"! Springsteen's early work would have "Dylanesque lyrics per song: 25.34"!) ANYWAY. You can use those stats. IF YOU DO, the Jeter overrated diatribe goes out the winder. .315 life time batting average. on pace for 3,000 hits, bats a quaint .314 in the playoffs, etc etc etc. Plus he's clutch, plus he's a leader, plus he's gutsy, plus he sleep with hot ladies. NOW, if you're one of those wacky sabermetricians and you want to talk about how he's the most ineffective defensive player in baseball... (btw, good on ya saber-bos for inventing a useless need--people to give you stats above and beyond the normal, non-mom's-basement-dwelling stats--and then filling that void... that is American and I am a patriot!) GUESS THE DUCK WHAT. My favorite team, the Minnesota Twins, is chock-a-block full of effective defensive players and they sure as hell don't have the recent World Series to show for it. My favorite player, Little Nicky Punto, the tiny superhero, is an absolute DEMON in the field... only problem is, he loses his swing for seasons at a time. Ya need clutch hitting to win, folks.

9. "Radio, Radio"
As one of the biggest Elvis Costello fans this side of the Big Drink, I feel a certain pride in taking issue with the quasi-reverence that is paid to this song, and that one performance on SNL in 1977. It makes for an interesting curio of a protest anthem, but you've got to admit that it's directed at a pretty small niche... even in '77, I'm pretty sure people had realized that radio is subpar and that you can get all the listening advice you need from your friends and the guy at the record store. Radio corruption goes back to the 50s and the Payola scandals, dude! What's more, this is nowhere near the best Costello song. It's not the best early Costello song, it's not the even in the top five songs on This Year's Model. To be honest, it's kinda generic. It's even got some of that Weezer-hypnotism that Rob loves to rag on! It's a fine song, just don't let your Elvis Costello exploration begin and end with it.

8. Illinois
This is an issue of honesty, folks. Illinois is part of the mid-west. I love the midwest. I love their hotdish. I love their waves of wheat. I love Minnesota, mostly, but I love it all secondarily. Now here's the thing about some Illinosians I've met. (Whoa! I thought I made that word up, but spell-check is giving me the okay! Nice!) Anyway, some of these cats like to pretend that being from Chicago (or near Chicago... or being able to spell Chicago) makes them somehow not midwestern. GUYS! Play fair! I think Chicago is great. I've been there twice and both times were super-great. I rode in a ferris wheel, I ate pizza, I have NO complaints. But be true to your ethos, dudes!

7. The Dark Crystal
Labyrinth, The Princess Bride, The Neverending Story. You don't need a fourth movie. It will only be worse than the other four. If you are one of the kids who liked Dark Crystal more than these touchstones of childhood, you were pushed into the sandbox frequently as a child and forced to eat caterpillars. I'm sorry for bringing up that memory, but you need to deal with it.

6. T-shirts
I think t-shirts are a fine garment. I'm wearing one right now. However, it's important to note that I'm only wearing one because my laundry is in the wash right now. I'm wearing this because I have no other options. It is though I am a member of the Donner Party and I am chewing on my uncle's flesh for sustenance. Except I am wearing a t-shirt. T-shirt wearing is all well and good, but it is, at best, a default option. It's not the best option.

5. Skylights
You guys. If you want natural light to stream forth from the Heavens, there is a really good place to see it. It is called the out-of-doors. You can go to your door, open it, and walk into a non-shady place. The sun will stream accordingly. Note: If you don't have a door, you can probably climb out a window. If you don't have windows, you are inside a box and are sort of fucked. Skylights are expensive, opening doors is not--again, if you have a door.

4. Bernini
Do you guys know about this thing called the Uncanny Valley? It's the totally sweet idea that when a human likeness (a robot, an animation, etc.) looks and acts too much like a human being, it's revolting and scary and creepy. Bernini's sculptures were basically the marble version of photorealism and it sends my brain on a crazy camping trip in the Uncanny Valley. Everytime I see Apollo and Daphne, I get worried that at night, those two come to life and run around the Galleria Borghese, playing pranks on ridiculously stereotyped Italian security gaurds. Stone should not have such tenderness! (And now that I think about it, that Apollo/Daphne midnight gallery romp sounds pretty cool. Like A Night at the Museum for the Squid and the Whale crowd.)

3. "Scrubs"
When you can basically improv a better version of a show after watching a few episodes, something has gone wrong. The initial thrust of this show was great, but when it turned into the Family Guy of hospital dramedies, shit got real. Real bad.

JD: I've got a patient here with an enlarged heart...

The Todd: (to some nurse) And I need you to be patient with my large, hard--(the nurse slaps The Todd)


JD Voiceover: And then I realized, maybe it's not such a bad thing to have an enlarged heart. Well, no, it probably is a bad thing for Mrs. Kowalski, but what I'm really saying is, maybe I need to care more!

Eliot walks in, bouncing and grinning.

Eliot: JD! You were wrong about that thing you said earlier, but I'm gonna let you off the hook. However, when I say let you off the hook, I mead "lord it over you".

JD Voiceover: As long as I'm under you... get it, that was a sex thing. Oooh, also--here's a visual gag. Remember the enlarged heart thing? (Eliot's boobs grow.) HAH! Score!

Dr. Cox walks in.

Dr. Cox: I hate you all but not as much as I hate a list of pop culture references and catchphrases. You should all feel suitably shamed. You are bad doctors, for certain, but for some reason, I am not a bad doctor for failing to be a better mentor.

The show closes as the hospital burns to the tune of Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah".

2. Being careful not to leave your prepositions dangling
I basically just put this here so I could rep Rob's new slant rhyme: "Hangin' preps, no regrets!" That's some poetry to be proud of!

1. Shoes, frankly
I am not wearing any right now and I feel fantastic. So why do people insist on imposing this totalitarian feet-imprisoning trend? Aaaaah, I am spreading my toes right now and it is awesome. The thing is, though, I am alone and at my house in Buffalo. This sort of behavior might not be cool at a party in New York City.

Top 5 Reasons Why Why Are Not Currently Winning Any Blogger's Choice Awards

Devoted reader of this blog that you are, you certainly remember a few days ago when I implored you to vote for the awards that we so clearly deserve, especially that golden prize above all others, the "Hottest Daddy Blogger" award. (Note: you are going to need to read that entry to understand some of the rest of this.) Here is an update: we are not winning.

Seriously, we have three votes, and I'm pretty sure that two of them are from Peter and me. SO, what is the deal? This is obviously the best blog you have ever read, you peon, and we deserve awards accordingly. Well, some things are going wrong:

5. We are not giving out enough sexual favors

Some jerk calling himself "Ed Unloaded" is the current leader in the "Hottest Daddy Blogger" category. And according to an investigative report that I just made up: he's only winning because Ed unloaded on thousands of his adoring fans in exchange for their vote. That was disgusting, I'm sorry, but I had to report on it because it's true. (Note: it's not.) Anyway, like Ed, I will now perform sexual favors for anyone who votes for us. (Note: I will probably make Peter do it if you are fat.)

4. The difficulty of signing up is deterring people

The only people who read this blog, I'm pretty sure, are friends of ours who are lazy and bored at work. Lazy people, then, click on the links, realize that they have to go through the arduous process of signing up and RECEIVING A DAMN E-MAIL from the stupid website before they can cast their vote. Basically, what I'm saying here is that the Blogger's Choice Awards are prejudiced against our key demographic of lazy people slacking off their work. This is bigoted, and I demand some sort of institutional correction or compensation. GEORGE BUSH DOESN'T CARE ABOUT LAZY PEOPLE.

3. Cystic fibrosis

2. Not enough people read this

Of course, the most obvious answer is that the best blog ever isn't getting enough votes because not enough people know that it's the best. I am taking steps to correct this, including posting my most recent (and incendiary) list to, which I hope will make lots of people predisposed to hate us come here, and then maybe ironically vote for us to win since they hate us so much now? Okay, I'll be honest, I didn't really think this one through all the way.

However, let me take this opportunity to plug the website, where you get an account that keeps track of all the music you listen to, and makes you weekly charts and such to track what artists you've been listening to most over the last week, few months, year, etc. It's ideal for people who feel the need to compartmentalize everything in life into lists, which clearly both Peter is (that is a link to Peter's profile, yeah that's right I'm just giving it out without permission) and I am (that is a link to my profile, which I don't need permission to give out because it is mine).

ALSO, Peter, I encourage you to post your most recent list to (in the journal section), and since that one is awesome and positive about music, it might actually make people come here who will love us and vote for us (this one makes more logical sense than the one before). ALSO, Peter, I love that we can talk to each other over our blog, and make a bunch of other people read what is just a personal message to you. ALSO, Peter, my rash hasn't really gotten any worse, has yours?

1. You are a jerk

Yes, that's right, most of the reason that we're not winning is because of you. It is your stupid fault and everything about you that makes us not winning. I hate you. I can't believe that you won't just take a few minutes out of your day, head over to the Blogger's Choice Awards, and cast a few votes for this wonderful light of a blog in your dark, dark life. Don't you ever give back to anything? All you do is take, take, take. Well, if you have a minute of good will in your cold, dark heart, sign up on the site and vote for us in all four categories, but mostly that last one, which is Hottest Daddy Blogger and the award we want most of all.

You have been a leech, reading us without loving us publicly, or promoting us, or even commenting on us, for too long. It's time to give back.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Top 25 Closing Tracks

OH MAN! This took TWO days! My next list is going to be simple as dirt... Top 5 Grilled Cheese Cheeses or something.

25. Train in Vain - The Clash
from the album London Calling.
I was in a bar one night, getting a drink with an ex, and this song came on. No one says it like fuckin' Joe Strummer, man... ("Well, some things you can explain away / But my heartaches in me till this day"). That really killed me dead. To be honest, this track feels a little weird coming at the end of this particular album--after all the jazzy, angry, socially conscious punk, here comes this heart-broken gem. But they're The Clash, man; they're the only band that matters.

24. Lawyers, Guns, and Money - Warren Zevon
from the album Excitable Boy.
Here is my unabashed declaration that Warren Zevon is the most underrated musical artist of all time, beyond The Mountain Goats, The Replacements, and Frederic Chopin. (Okay, Chopin's pretty rated.) His songs work because they are experientially layered. You listen to it once because it's got a catchy melody. You listen again because the lyrics are witty and the general vibe is fun. You listen again because you've formed a bond with the characters. You listen again because you've come to identify with the ebulliently dark (or darkly ebullient?) themes that run through Zevon's lyrics. You come back and you come back and you keep coming back because these are not songs, they are brilliantly crafted novels set to music.

23. It Ain't Hard to Tell - Nas
from the album Illmatic.
Rob and I were having a mini-debate (read: gchat conversation) about what the greatest hip-hop album of all-time is, and Rob brought up Illmatic. (Actually, I think he led with Illmatic and the discussion sprang from there. Anyway.) It's a pretty worthy submission, eh? Now, I know people complain about rap songs that exist solely to extol the lyrical virtues of the artist, but when done right, it's hard to argue. Plus, the placement of this song at the end of the album justifies all of Nas' comparisons (beginning like a violin, ending like Leviathan, deleting stress like Motrin, etc.); after hearing now-classic tracks like "NY State of Mind", "The World is Yours", and "Life's a Bitch", well... you kind of have to agree!

22. Reservations - Wilco
from the album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.
This from Rob Trump (because he is awesome and I am lazy): "When you wind up at the end, at "Reservations," it's not unreasonable to feel like you've been put through about everything a relationship and life can put you through. So when Tweedy expresses his inability to adequatly express himself--"How can I convince you it's me I don't like"--it's relatable. And when he expresses his inability to even make sense of himself--"I'm bound by the feeling so easy to fake"--it's even more relatable. But when he lets us know that no matter how arch- or meta-analytic he's going to be, that "None of this is real enough to take me away from you," that is beautiful and cathartic. And next are the best lyrics on Yankee and some of the best he's ever written: "I've got reservations / About so many things / But not about you / But not about you." To go through everything that Yankee signifies and end on this statement...that's one of the strongest declarations of the power of love in any art I know."

21. This Is Not What You Had Planned - The Wrens
from the album The Meadowlands.
On a purely elemental level, this probably isn't a great song. I never find myself saying, "Um, shoot... I really want to listen to 'This Is Not What You Had Planned', that great, good catchy tune. It is probably the perfect pop song!" But on a purely performative level, this song does what every song should do: it crystallizes the artist's emotions and superimposes them into the consciousness of the listener. It's like forced empathy. According to an interview in Stylus (seriously one of the best interviews I've ever read), the track was the product of the bassist breaking up with his girlfriend, getting drunk as a cougar, and stumbling into the studio, ready to improv.

20. Sleep of the Just - Elvis Costello
from the album King of America.
I was really tempted to put "What's So Funny About Peace, Love, and Understanding" on instead (and not just because it's my karaoke song!), but I like to take every chance I get to pimp King of America. This is the most criminally underrated album of the 1980s. You simply will not find a better appropriation of the country western ethos.

19. Play Your Part (Pt. 2) - Girl Talk
from the album Feed the Animals.
This is kind of cheating, but maybe not? Like "Faithfully" and "International Players Anthem" are both great songs, but I dunno if they'd make this list if they were last tracks. (Okay, they totes wouldn't.) But, man... mash 'em up and Jesus God it is bombastic brilliance.

18. How a Resurrection Really Feels - The Hold Steady
from the album Separation Sunday.
The Hold Steady are the hardest-working, hardest-rocking, hardest-drinking band in the world. They come from Minnesota and love baseball and America and adolescence. Stay Positive is my early favorite for album of the year, by the way. This song, the closer to the quasi-concept album Separation Sunday, is what I listen to when I think about going to church. In this album, a Minnesota heroine (Holly, short for Hallelujah) falls in love with the wrong crowd, does a bunch of drugs, has sex for money (?), falls in love, listens to some tunes, gets born again by the Mississippi River, and ends up in Ybor City, FL. She may or may not die at some point, she ping-pongs between Hold Steady regulars Charlemagne (her sometime pimp, sometime lover) and Gideon (sometime lover, sometime cowboy skinhead?), and finally, in the end, finds God. She literally climbs a church crucifix and finds him. Fuck the perfectly crafted pop song. Give me a story like that.

17. Videotape - Radiohead
from the album In Rainbows.
I had no expectations for this album, I'll be honest. I wasn't a huge Hail to the Thief fan, I heard the early buzz and was ready for a letdown, but then, after 2 of the best dollars I've ever spent, I ended up loving every minute of In Rainbows. Looking back, this track is probably 65% responsible for that adoration. It's an acknowledgment that all things, good and bad, come to an end, and that in the final moments, all we have are, well, moments.

16. The Band Played Waltzing Matilda - The Pogues
from the album Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash.
If I was writing a list of story songs, this would be near the top. A harrowing depiction of the Australian involvement in the Battle of Gallipoli, this song has probably my favorite lyric about war ever... "I looked at the place where my legs used to be / And thank Christ there was nobody waiting for me / To grieve and to mourn and to pity". Though the lyrics are borrowed, Shane MacGowan's bitter delivery puts a dour, decided cap on the greatest Irish punk-folk record ever recorded.

15. Is This Music? - Teenage Fanclub
from the album Bandwagonesque.
This popped up on the AV Club's list of the best instrumentals by mainly non-instrumental bands and I think it was their best inclusion. This is a ballsy song, full-stop. Eleven glowing, fluorescent, Alex-Chilton-on-ecstasy tracks and then... bam! You get this electric elegy that feels like it's about to burst into more poetic lyrics but never does. In fact, it's somehow distant and withdrawn; it manages to undercut the cheer of the previous songs, but still brings a smile to your face.

14. Scenario - A Tribe Called Quest
from the album The Low End Theory.
Hahahahahah... I love this song. I love Tribe. I used to this while mowing lawns all the time. This is probably my favorite hip-hop album, too... so there's that. There that is. Yeah, yeah, it's about how good they are at what they do, and about what sorts of things their raps are like, and who they are better than, and what kinds of unpleasantries and unmentionable acts they will perpetrate on your person if you step to them, but come on... this shit is as fun as it is sophomoric, as funny as it is scatological.

13. Butterfly - Weezer
from the album Pinkerton.
There's a great moment in one of my favorite films, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, where the narrator (Robert Downey Jr.) is talking about the author of a pulp crime serial, who is quoted as saying that his creations were just bullshit. RDJr responds to this sentiment bitterly: "What did he know; he was just some writer." That's how I feel about Pinkerton and about Rivers Cuomo selling his heart-on-sleeve paean down the river. You made yourself vulnerable and it was beautiful, dude. Deal with it. Yeah, songs like this one make you sound like a stalker, a sketch, even a misogynistic bastard--but that's the hard part about love. It's a bold statement, be proud of it.

12. Say Yes - Elliott Smith
from the album Either/Or.
Rob said he'd kill me if I didn't put this on... want to know a secret? I KIND OF DON'T BELIEVE HIM, BUT I LIKE THIS SONG ANYWAY. My roommate for the first two years of college would play this whenever he broke up/was falling for a girl. Somehow, it really does manage to capture both feelings. Also, and this is amazing, check out this quote from the Wikipedia article: "In an interview, Smith said that the song was written about 'someone particular and I almost never do that. I was really in love with someone.' It is also the greatest song ever written. Ever." If they said it, it's true!!!

11. Come On Up To The House - Tom Waits
from the album Mule Variations.
Far and away my favorite Tom Waits song. (And I have many, many runner-ups.) The album positively tornadoes upwards into "Come On Up to the House". Triumphant and yet damned, this is a shining moment in career full of shining moments. (Aaaah, I am talking about moments again!!! Why can't I be more like Rob and write about stuff I don't like! Um, here's one... rap skits! Como te fuck, man? Way to break up the flow of your album with "humor"... it is in quotes because it's actual funniness-content is dubious!)

10. Desolation Row - Bob Dylan
from the album Highway 61 Revisited.
This was my favorite song in the 8th grade. My mom made fun of me because it doesn't really make sense, but I didn't listen. Like a lot of Dylan story-songs, he rambles through characters and images as though he's lost in a museum, but he sure isn't looking for the exit. You catch vague whiffs of an arc, you get the sense that you're supposed to identify with certain characters, but by the end, you don't really know what happened. What matters is that the song has happened to you; you are left living in some emotion.

9. Darkness on the Edge of Town - Bruce Springsteen
from the album Darkness on the Edge of Town.
I would listen to the Boss sing the phonebook. Actually, I bet that'd be amazing. "Adams, Amy... whoa-whoa-uh-oh! Adams, Andy... Andy and Amy... woo-oo-oh-oh!" But this song chilled me to the core when I heard it for the first time. It has all the escapist fantasy of "Thunder Road" and "Born to Run", but it's got a brutal defeatist streak, too. Perfect for night-time drives.

8. Rock N' Roll Suicide - David Bowie
from the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.
Sometimes, this song is too painful to listen to, frankly. It peels all the braggadocio of the previous tracks and reveals a shaky, vulnerable Bowie/Ziggy, too famous to live, too young to die. This is what a good closing track should be, both a commentary and an expansion on the rest of the album. Here, it's perfectly executed.

7. Here Comes a Regular - The Replacements
from the album Tim.
Rob was telling me about how he thinks this should be the theme song for How I Met Your Mother and THEN it showed up in the season three finale. How is that for the universe speaking?! I was telling Eva earlier about what it's like to live in Buffalo, about high-schoolers drinking in parks, about the smart kids growing up and leaving, and the rest taking over the family businesses... about long weekend days spent in bars, thinking about being back in high-school, drinking in the park. Maybe this song should be the theme song for Buffalo.

6. Party For Your Right to Fight - Public Enemy
from the album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back.
What up, titular line. What up, battle-cry. This song is a call to arms. This song doesn't pause to crack wise or to ref the rapper's lyrical prowess, and the only names it drops are slain Black leaders. This song is determined to burn a message into the auditory cortex of the listener, and to prevent it from fading into obscurity as you go searching for the next tape to play.

5. This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) - Talking Heads
from the album Speaking in Tongues.
So, you might be wondering, "Hey Peter, why is your favorite song number five and not number one?" Thanks for asking, faceless internet person! Well, I don't know. What I do know is that this a seriously sick top five. Is there a better portrait of longing than the lines "I'm just an animal looking for a home / Share the same space for a minute or two"? Well, sure, maybe you could find one, but goddamn, that's timeless.

4. You Can't Always Get What You Want - The Rolling Stones
from the album Let It Bleed.
This is hardly just a song anymore. I can't listen to it without seeing that scene in The Big Chill, the subsequent discussion in High Fidelity, the opening/closing scenes of Californication, or, y'know, every time someone says "you can't always get what you want." But stripped away from all of that, this is song, in its heart of hearts, is still a fucking carnival. It's such a simple sentiment, but it still manages to be both a tribute and a death-knell to the 1960s. The party's over, the 70s are here, the war is still on, we've got each other, and yet...

3. Two Headed Boy, Pt. 2 - Neutral Milk Hotel
from the album In the Aeroplane Over The Sea.
I know a guy who can only listen to this album once a year. I have to say, I totally understand. Most of the album is obscured by a Dylanesque haze of half-images and amorphous narrative, with modest smatterings of WWII/Anne Frank references and then, all of a sudden, out tumbles the closer. I don't want to break it down too elementally and miss the beauty of the forest, here... but just take a look at the closing lines of the last three verses: "I’m still wanting my face on your cheek", "God is a place you will wait for the rest of your life", "But don’t hate her when she gets up to leave"... in the midst of the other (sometimes inexplicable) imagery, here are perfectly condensed statements on the truest pains/pleasures of life: love and loss, faith and disillusionment, companionship and loneliness. I know I'm not saying anything new, but when you listen to this song, especially when it follows the other ten tracks, you will need a moment to recuperate.

2. A Day in the Life - The Beatles
from the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
On any other list, this would probably be number one. This was my first favorite Beatles song. Unfortunately for those guys, I am a bigger Pavement fan than I am a Beatles fan. (Sorry, America!)

1. Fillmore Jive - Pavement
from the album Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain.
When I get to the end of an album and things kind of fall flat, I usually think to myself, "Well, they can't all be Fillmore Jives." I sincerely hope I'm not stealing that from somewhere, because I really, really like it. I heard this song for the first time while sitting in the back row of a bio class in a big, collegiate lecture hall. (Shame on me for not getting to this sooner.) It is the first and only time I have ever cried during a lecture on gas exchange.

The 18 Most Overrated Musical Artists of the Last 18 Years

NOTE: I have excluded from this lists bands that have gotten semi-constant positive critical attention but that nobody who actually likes music likes (Coldplay, Green Day, Red Hot Chili Peppers, etc.). This is mostly because insulting those bands is obvious and wouldn't piss people off, and what's the point of making a list like this if it's not to piss people off?

18. Arctic Monkeys

I'm sick of people complaining about how "indie" isn't a genre of music. Yeah, I know that "indie" means "independent," and it refers to bands that aren't signed to a major label. But you're disabled if you haven't realized by now that "indie" has come to mean something else, a specific guitar-based rock band sound--a specific annoying as fuck guitar-based rock sound. Arctic Monkeys are one of the myriad bands to up the tempo of their generic indie rock sound and think that makes it dance music. It doesn't. You will never know, Arctic Monkeys, how I would look on the dancefloor, because I refuse to get on the dancefloor for your terrible attempt at dance music. Anyone who thinks that this is good dance music, you have never actually heard any good dance music. Or any dance music at all.

17. Why?

Speaking of people who think they are things that they are not, how about Why?, which as well as being a terrible band name, is a good reaction to their existence. Whenever I read anything about this band, I read things about how they are in an "undefinable genre." No, they're in a very definable and very well-populated genre, the SHITTY INDIE ROCK genre. The hip-hop influence is negligible and basically only thrown in to make descriptions of them seem marginally interesting, because the band certainly isn't. If you're looking for someone who does legitimately interesting things on the border of hip-hop and modern rock, listen to Aesop Rock. This is crap.

16. Lil' Wayne

Lest you think my ire is directed only at indie rock bands, let present the worst album of 2008, Lil' Wayne's Tha Carter III. Lil' Wayne thinks that he is the best rapper alive. This is only true in some alternate universe where he has murdered Nas, Jay-Z, and every member of the Wu-Tang Clan, then taken lessons from Vanilla Ice until the student surpassed the master. There is nothing to like in Tha Carter III except the Jay-Z guest spot. Yeah, Wayne and his annoying-as-hell voice jump between a lot of different types of hip-hop on this album, and basically each one of them is a separate argument about something that is wrong with modern mainstream rap. One sounds like Usher, who is terrible, one sounds like R. Kelly, who is terrible, one sounds like watered-down Dr. Dre, which, natch, is terrible. And some of them are terrible in a uniquely Lil Wayne way, too. It's like multiple personality disorder, but all of your personalities suck.

For some reason, critics jizzed all over Tha Carter III. I have only one explanation for this: critics met in a cabal in early 2008, realizing that they will seem out of touch if they don't all love some mainstream hip-hop album, and elected Lil Wayne president. Consider your cabal EXPOSED, critics.

15. of Montreal

Here's a band that almost didn't make it on, not because they're not crappy and overrated (they are), but because it's basically impossible to think of a lot of different riffs on "this is the same generic indie shit I have heard from a hundred other bands, none of which I liked." Of Montreal "mixes it up" by adding some stupid electronic noises. BUH BUH BUH GUH. Good for them. Boring.

14. Dirty Projectors

Unlistenable trash, and this is from someone who likes Captain Beefheart.

13. Deerhoof

Basically the same as above, though not quite as self-consciously weird, so a little more accessible, and therefore more liked and more overrated. Still basically no desire to have any sort of a melody that I could not describe as "yelps." Honestly, try to play one of their "melodies" on a keyboard or something sometime. It will make you feel retarded, which is how Deerhoof feels all the time.

12. The Streets

There is nothing to like about this. Nothing. He's not a good rapper--that is to say, he doesn't have a good voice, good flow, good rhymes, or good subject matter--and his production isn't even interesting either. I have absoultely no idea how he became a indie darling hip-hop artist when he is just plain this terrible. Oh, the dude is also supposed to have a sense of humor. If by that you mean that I laugh at how bad he is for ten seconds before listening to something else, I think that indicates that I have a sense of humor and he is just an idiot.

11. Modest Mouse

Here we go again, having to riff on the same "this entire genre of 'indie rock' sucks" thing, but having to do it in a different way. Here's an interesting thing: I actually like Modest Mouse a decent amount, certainly more than any of the other artists I'm filing under "bad indie rock" in this. I like them because their version of "indie rock" is basically appropriating ideas from Tom Waits and cloaking them in the indie guitar sound. Tom Waits is one of my all-time favorite musicians, ergo, what Modest Mouse makes isn't so bad.

So...the best thing I can say about Modest Mouse is that they stole something I like and made it shittier. Yep, Modest Mouse, you deserve spot number 10.

10. Bloc Party

Wow. Here's an impossible one. Another one of those stupid indie rock guitar bands (I'm beginning to think I shouldn't have put so many on this, but the list is already written, so SOLDIER ON), but this one there is absolutely nothing notable about. If someone ever tells you that "indie" isn't a genre, put on some Bloc Party, and say, "Hear this? This is the blank slate, generic form of indie." They will probably say, "Oh, yes, pretty much everything I listen to sounds like this. I have just realized that all of my music is not only able to be pigeonholed, it is also terrible." Just kidding, that would be in an awesome world. In this world, people will not be dissuaded from liking Bloc Party, who are a terrible band.

9. Kanye West

Kanye West is a great, great hip-hop producer. He is also a terrible, terrible rapper. Basically all of the bands above this have godawful lyrics (with some exceptions for Modest Mouse, who stole some Tom Waits lyrical ideas as well), so it's a little unfair to start digging into lyrics now, but you know what? Let's do that. If for no other reason, because lyrical skill in hip-hop is somewhat more important than it is in most other genres, or at least, I feel, it's harder to ignore bad lyricism. So here's the opening of the Grammy Award-winning "Stronger":

Let's get lost tonight
You could be my black Kate Moss tonight
Play secretary, I'm the boss tonight.
And you don't give a fuck what they all say, right?
Awesome, the Christian in Christian Dior
Damn they don't make 'em like this anymore
I ask, cause I'm not sure
Do anybody make real shit anymore?

I think I speak for basically everyone when I, Kanye?

Not coincidentally, this song has fucking awesome production...done by Kanye West. Please man, quit rapping and go back to producing for other people who can rap, like Jay-Z, Lupe Fiasco, and Talib Kweli.

8. Death Cab for Cutie

Alright, I definitely put too many of those stupid indie rock bands on here, I realize that now. I apologize to anyone reading all of these who is now preparing themselves for another "X variant on indie rock is still boring, stupid, uninteresting, and unmelodic." But imagine, imagine if you had to listen to a full album of each of these artists as you read this list, and think of how much sicker you would be of this generic sound even more so than I am sick of writing the same comment over and over. So, anyway: the mopey, slow, sad variant on indie rock is boring and shitty, too.

7. The White Stripes

Okay, here's another one where I actually respect and like the artist a fair amount, but the amount of critical attention is ridiculous. Pretty much all White Stripes songs are interchangeable blues-rock with intentionally stupid drumming...which is a perfect description of all of their first four albums. This becomes really obvious when you look at several different critics lists of the best albums of the last ten years. They pretty much always have exactly one of the first four White Stripes albums on them, but which one? Totally up for grabs. Mainstream choice? Elephant. Pitchfork choice? White Blood Cells. Uber-hip choice? De Stijl. You could remove the lyrics and probably none of the people picking could tell which of those albums they were listening to. Anyway, later in their career, the White Stripes started doing marginally interesting things, with, you know, more than two instruments, to which critics responded, "This is okay, but not as awesome as the really generic rock you guys used to make."

6. Nirvana

Well, duh, you knew this one was coming. I seriously considered not putting it on here, because it's so mind-numbingly obvious, but then I realized that Robert Christgau, a critic on whom I can usually count to call bullshit on a bad band, and Pitchfork Media, that writer of unreadable reviews with a critical consensus that is still often well-earned, called Nevermind an "A" album and the sixth-best album of the nineties, respectively. No. No. No no no no no no. How often does anyone who truly likes music listen to Nevermind, really? It can't possibly be more than once every few years, to reassure themselves of its importance, or something. Nevermind is a stupid album that basically just takes what the Pixies did and makes it glossier as well as making every song sound like the next. I have nothing against glossiness, but when the central appeal of your music is supposed to be how raw it is, you are making stupid, hypocritical music. Oh, also, the Pixies had at least twice the sense of melody, and ten times the lyrical ability.

5. The Strokes

Not a truly terrible band, but a bad band that is responsible for a lot of the other bad music on this list. The Strokes didn't invent the "indie" guitar band sound that I've complained a lot about here, but they refined it into something that could be easily copied by tons of other bands and added an easily imitateable vocalist. All in the name of bad pop/rock. Do you remember their first single, "Last Nite"? Remember how you thought it was nothing at all special, but also not too offensively bad? Think about if you had realized then that basically all critically-approved rock music for the next eight years would sound almost exactly like that. You would have clawed your ears out. You should have.

4.5/4. Animal Collective/Panda Bear

Heellloooooooo, modern critical darlings! I have listened to two different different Animal Collective albums all the way through several times, as well as the one Panda Bear album a few times. I cannot sing a single melody, name a single lyric, or give you a defining feature of any single track other than those that apply to both bands as a whole (kinda folk-y, acoustic instruments, weird noises, obscured voices singing things I can't make out). There is a name for music that does not grab you in any way: BAD.

3. Radiohead

This is a difficult one. It is a difficult one because my high school self unequivocally would have declared Radiohead my favorite band, and when I saw them only a little over two years ago, I really, truly enjoyed the experience. They're a great live band. So how come the only album I reliably go back to is Kid A? It has to do with several things (MINI-LIST):

1) Thom Yorke is a shitty lyricist. See:

Please could you stop the noise, I'm trying to get some rest
From all the unborn chicken voices in my head
When I am king you will be first against the wall
With your opinion which is of no consequence at all
Ambition makes you look pretty ugly
Kicking squealing Gucci little piggy

This isn't a dark portrayal of a post-apocalyptic world, as someone defending it might say. This is just angsty nonsense. "Unborn chicken voices"? What the Christ does that mean? And this is basically as lucid as it gets. Ask anyone what a given Radiohead song is about. They will tell you it is about alienation, technology, and inhumanity. Ask them what another Radiohead song is about. It is about the same thing.

Part of the reason Kid A is the best is because it has the fewest lyrics.

2) Radiohead's music is essentially soulless. It doesn't help that the lyrics are intentionally "inhuman," but what really makes it bad is how calculated the band always feels. Radiohead's music is basically what you'd get if you looked down some list of all the things that were supposed to be in critically acclaimed music: pop music, yes, but with experimental tendencies, adventurous use of time signatures, that doesn't have clear roots in any single genre. But you don't feel it. None of it. I never feel like Radiohead is playing any sort of emotion or statement to me, I feel like they're playing Radiohead to me. Which is hard to relate, because I am not Radiohead.

Part of the reason Kid A is the best is because the songs on it hit you with something, at least. "Idioteque" is the best song they ever recorded.

3) Radiohead is depressing. But Radiohead is depressing in the general "things appear to be quite bad, yes yes" way, not in the personal way that Bob Dylan is depressing, or the cynical, observational way that Randy Newman is depressing. I feel depressed, not in an emotional or connective way, just in a general "I feel shitty because I'm totally supposed to now" way.

Part of the reason Kid A is their best album is because it's least depressing album. Except maybe In Rainbows, which was pretty good.

2. Eminem

Eminem is a bad rapper with an annoying voice. He also should have been included on my list of worst examples of satire, because, like Tucker Max and Maddox, his misogyny, homophobia, and general idiocy isn't ironic, it's just the way that Eminem is. Even more so than The Streets, I cannot figure out how Eminem came to be such a critical favorite. His rhymes can approach competency, but his subject matter is so terrible (killing your wife? did you really think that was a good idea for a pop song?), his voice so grating, his production (which he mostly does himself) so uninvolving and boring, and his lauded sense of humor so NONEXISTENT--really, nothing here justifies how dark and mean it is, unlike Dre's The Chronic, or Wu-Tang's 36 Chambers, say--as to cancel out any possible positive qualities the dude has. He's less interesting than tons of better and worse rappers out there, so why did he get famous and popular? Oh, right, because he's white. And he even admitted it, in verse no less. Eminem sucks. (Also, that song I just linked is hilariously bad.)

(Note: someone reading this might assume I hate all white rappers. I don't. I like Aesop Rock, whom I previously mentioned, the Beastie Boys, and Atmosphere...if he's white. I forget.)

1. Weezer

If there's one thing I'll excuse over any other, it's pop sensibilities. Many of the bands considered for this list, or suggested when I was requesting submissions from friends, were bands like the Killers, Franz Ferdinand, Beck, Ben Folds Five, and Vampire Weekend. (Most of those, by the way, garnered multiple nominations.) I threw all of those out because they're simply too catchy, too good at crafting memorable melodies, and too fun to get stuck in your head and sing to really deserve hatred or ever be substantially overrated.

So how did an unabashedly pop band get all the way to #1? It's simple. The bands I just named are good pop bands. Weezer is a bad pop band. It's the difference between a song you listen to over and over because it's so damn catchy that you NEED to hear it again, and a song you wish would stop playing in your head because it's so damn hypnotic. That's what Weezer is. Hypnosis.

Even people who will readily admit that (working backwards) "Pork and Beans," "Beverly Hills,"Dope Nose," "Hash Pipe," and "Island in the Sun" are the hypnosis-type bad pop music (oh God one of those is stuck in your head now and I am so sorry), a lot of people will still defend Pinkerton and The Blue Album. Including my esteemed colleage and fellow list-maker, Peter. I apologize for this, Peter, but I declare Blue Album worship the worst case of rose-tinted glasses in the history of music. It was one of everyone's first "indie" albums when they were getting away from music everyone hates now, and they have a childish attachment to it now. Cuomo's melodies were just as insipid then as they are now. ("Surf Wax America"? What the fuck? And do the keyboard-test, mentioned in the Deerhoof entry, with "The Sweater Song" to discover that...yeah. That melody is terrible.)

What's more, Rivers Cuomo's unabashedly heart-on-sleeve lyrics (without any real poetic or lyrical ability) were an inspiration to thousands of somehow-even-worse bands that have plagued music since The Blue Album came out in 1994. I'm going to copy and paste this directly from Wikipedia, so you know these aren't just my choices:

Many modern bands such as Ash, Jimmy Eat World,[29][30] Fountains of Wayne,[31] Dashboard Confessional,[31][32] The Ataris,[31][33] Ozma,[34] Ultimate Fakebook,[29] The Used,[30] Hellogoodbye,[35] Relient K,[36] Bloodhound Gang, The All-American Rejects,[37] Good Charlotte,[38] The Pink Spiders,[39] The Academy Is...,[40] Say Anything,[41] The Calgary Sun, Biffy Clyro,[42] Something Corporate,[43] The Stereo,[44] The Fall of Troy, Nerf Herder,[45] Hoobastank,[30] The Anniversary,[29] Saves the Day,[30] Rye Coalition,[29] Tera Melos, Thursday,[30] The Get Up Kids,[29]Motion City Soundtrack,[46] and Ludo[30] and Taking Back Sunday[30] have been compared to Weezer or named them as an influence. (Wikipedia)

Yeah. What a legacy. Why anyone continues to worship these guys, even their early stuff, is a mystery to me. Weezer is the most overrated band of the last eighteen years.

(Note: credit where credit is due, the idea of pointing out bands as having terrible melodic ideas by playing their melodies on a piano was originally suggested, as far as I know, by Dr. David Thorpe, a Something Awful writer, in this column.)