Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Top 2 Dakotas

Yesterday was the 120th anniversary of North and South Dakota's entrances into the Union. I know this because my mom sent me an email to that effect. I have always had an affinity for these two venerable Midwestern states, but I've shamefully never taken the opportunity to rank them in terms of their excellence.

2. North Dakota
Is North Dakota the worst Dakota? No. Definitely not. It is the second-best Dakota, and a close, close second it is. North Dakota has many wonderful attributes... for instance, it's home to a huge number (percentage-wise, at least) of Vikings fans. It also has Fargo, without which, there would be no Fargo. Its state slogan is "Legendary", which means it must be Barney Stinson's favorite state ever. Sacagawea was from North Dakota, as are Lawrence Welk and Chuck Klosterman. (...Who, at the very least, are very fun to make fun of. Did you ever hear about the Chuck Klosterman Soundalike Contest? Oh man, that was a fun joke that Rob and I invented once. It all started when Rob said that "The Thong Song" lacked the ironic posturing of "Baby Got Back" and thus, should be heralded as the true 90s ode to the posterior. Anyway.) Also, the Red River Valley is there, as in that song I like, "Red River Valley". And their state beverage is MILK!!! North Dakota, you're doing JUST fine.

1. South Dakota
But South Dakota has to be my number one. When I was 7, my parents asked where I wanted to go on our summer vacation. Naturally, I chose South Dakota, mainly because its state capital was Pierre, which is like, the French version of my name or whatever. What followed was a mad-cap half-cross-country adventure that involved a lot of iterations of the license plate game, a brief stop in Minnesota to watch the Twins play the A's, a terrifying encounter with a prairie rattlesnake, camping in the Black Hills, playing Teddy Roosevelt in a weird, spontaneous-presidential-passion-play at Mt. Rushmore, hanging out with some German tourists, refusing to walk with my parents through a buffalo herd, and, best of all, visiting the Corn Palace in Custer, South Dakota. Yeah. It was epic.

Anyway, aside from all that, Deadwood happened there, Thomas Vanek of the Buffalo Sabres was born there, as was Tom Brokaw, um, what else... oh, their state beverage is ALSO milk, and to top it all off, the state fossil is the Triceratops (WHAT!? You can have a state fossil!?!). Suffice to say, South Dakota is pretty much the best Dakota ever.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Top 5 Mountain Goats Love Songs

I promised several lists about Mountain Goats songs, and I make good on promises, albeit days later and dollars shorter. (What?) Also, Rami, you are absolutely right about "Sax Rohmer #1". That song is a million bloody fists of fury hurling themselves at the door of heaven itself.


5. "Going to Queens" (from the album Sweden)

John Darnielle is just plain, damn-good at writing all the possible kinds of love songs. One of his real strengths is the "new love" love song, and for me, this song is the perfect example of that. This song captures that moment when everything speeds up and you realize, goddamn, I really do love this person. And it's never when you expect it--and it's never why or how, either. For this narrator, it's his lady coming out of a shower, dripping wet, while kids outside on the street are jumping rope and singing songs. Something singularly beautiful happens in that moment and the lover becomes "all [he] ever wanted", "all [he'd] ever need".

4. "Broom People" (from the album The Sunset Tree)

Another kind of love song that John can really knock the hell out of is the "Oh God, there is nothing in this ridiculous world that makes any sense, except for you" variety. This song always reminded me of my aunt and uncle, mainly because of the '36 Hudson he references in the first line. According to the man himself though, it's about a kid who gets terrorized in school, but falls in love with this life-changing girl--so even though he still gets the hell beat out of him by the jocks, he can handle it, 'cause he's got his girl. (That's nice, too.) I just love how triumphant it is... despite all the shit and mess and pet hair and "good reasons to freeze to death", this guy knows that when his woman comes over and they close the door, they get to share something that no one else has or understands. If that ain't love, well... I'd say "then I dunno what is", but come on, there's no question here--that's friggin' love, man.

3. "Going to Georgia" (from the album Zopilote Machine)

OH MAN. Then, there is the I-am-an-unpredictable-explosive-force-but-I-know-that-you-will-keep-me-safe love song. "Going to Georgia" is basically a perfect song. It's also the first Mountain Goats song a lot of people here. There is such raw, desperate power in this song--both the lyrics and the vocals--that you cannot help but give it your full attention; it commands you to listen, frankly. "Two big hands and a heart pumping blood and a 1967 Colt .45 with a busted safety catch" is one of the most terrifying-yet-gleeful images I can think of. Fun fact time: Pitr and I have a sweet Mountain Goats faux-cover band called Wolves in the Walls, in which we introduce ourselves as "Two Big Hands" and "A Heart Pumping Blood", respectively. (Was that fact not fun? Oh well, sorry. No refunds.)

2. "International Small Arms Traffic Blues" (from Tallahassee)

Honestly, I could have put on all of Tallahassee, an album so earth-shatteringly, mind-bogglingly, noun-adverbially good, that it should be a required course in all US high schools. This is not pretty love. This is not sweet love. This is not lovely love. This is a painful, destructive, watch-the-hell-out, I-will-take-you-down-with-me love that has no respect or regard for anything but its own consummatory force. The cutesy-at-first-glance similes are the hook of this song ("our love is like the border between Greece and Albania", obv), but is there anything that sums this album up better than the bitter-and-yet-disarming admission "the way I feel about you, baby, can't explain it / you've got the best of my love"? Spoiler alert: Fuck, no!

1. "There Will Be No Divorce" (from the album The Coroner's Gambit)

This is... this is just... gah. I can't even say anything. I am gushing, I know. This is why I don't write about the Goats that often, I get to this place where I want to jump up and down on people's faces, screaming "Why don't you love this the way I love it!" (Also, pause for a moment and notice that all these songs are less than three minutes long. The sheer amount of poetry-per-second is baffling.) Anyway. This is a simple song. There were hard times, the end was in sight, but at five in the morning, the narrator watches her sleeping and knows it's going to be okay, it's going to work out. Perfect.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Top 19 Excuses For Not Posting In Forever

You. Guys.

So the other day, I got an email. It was from Barack Obama. Now, we don't know if it was THE Barack Obama. (And who really is Barack Obama anyway? Think about that.) This email was in the form of a comment on our most recent post--if early September can be called recent. The comment said, in effect, "Hey, please post, you nerd-jobs." This marked the third such comment in a short span of time... the second was from a commenter named Professor Remix and the first was a postscript in an email from my mom.

Barack Obama, Professor Remix, and my mom.

Is that not the raddest fucking superhero team of all time? So rad, in fact, that I was inspired. Inspired with such fervor, that on this, my 24th birthday, I am posting once more. And as Barack Obama requested, it's a list of excuses for not posting for so long.

1.) The Obvious, Pt. I: I started grad school at Princeton in early September, so... yah. At first, I was just way over my head, but I'm starting to get a grasp, so I think there's plenty of listing in my future. THIS I PROMISE YOU, PARMLOTTERS. (All six of you. And that includes the League of Professor Remix, Barack Obama, and Mom.)

2.) The Obvious, Pt. II - Rob is doing his thing in LA and his thing involves twittering about his dinner and shit, which, though technically in list form, is not just not the same. THERE. I said it. Also, I miss you, Rob. THERE. I said that too.

3.) You guys, THIS is how I wanted to commemorate September 11th this year, did you not get it?!

4.) Yeah, see, the time between September 11th and my birthday is known as The Troubles. It's this whole big thing... there's fasting and rituals and you're not allowed to post on blogs.

5.) Wait, did you not buy your Troubles calendars?

6.) They're like Advent calendars, but instead of with ornaments inside, it's pictures of me giving the thumbs up.

7.) Anyway.

8.) Oh! Oh! This one is real... early in October, I wrote a bunch of lists, actually. They were all about the Mountain Goats, in honor of the October 6th release of The Life of the World to Come, their new album.

9.) 'Cause, y'know, I talk a lot about how I love the Goats, but I never actually list about them.

10.) That's kinda messed up. It's like I'm not pullin' my weight! But then it was a like, a week later, and it seemed too late. Eh. I'll put up a few soon.

11.) Anyway. (Again.)

12.) Um... Brett Favre. Oh wait, we're done blaming Brett Favre for things, cool!

13.) While we're at tt, 6-0 BABY!? The last time the Vikes were 6-0 on my birthday, it was 2003. The Darkness was on the radio, the whole country was wondering if Frodo would evvvver make it to Mordor, and I was totally a senior in high school.


15.) Jersey has a no-blogs allowed law, on account of all that blog-corruption.

16.) Every list I think up lately is about some combination of Bon Jovi, acid wash, and face perception.

17.) This whole grad school thing was a big lie and I have been on a 41-day PCP vision quest. The good news is, I won! The bad news is, there is no bad news! I was just joking.

18.) I was actually just waiting for Barack Obama to email me.

19.) OKAY. I still got it! Sorta. Now back to reading...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Top 17 Tracks on Abbey Road, After Many Iterations of Google Translate

Hey, no more sad lists for a while, okay? I am settling in at Princeton, where there are so many raccoons and where the Health Services nurses hit on you shamelessly while administering immunizations. 

So, apparently, it is "Oh Man, Weren't The Beatles Great!?" Week or something. As I have stated before (though not in itemized fashion), I was never huge into those guys. My favorite Beatles song was "Rocky Raccoon". That probably speaks volumes. Whatever, y'all--I was too busy learning life lessons from John Prine and Judy Collins and Bob Dylan. Lush harmonies, perfect pop songs? Eh, okay. John Prine swears in a song about Christmas. That was cool.

This being said, it's also the birthday of that kid Pat Higgiston, one of the Okay Guys of All-Time. And he just loooves those Beatles. So in honor of all that, here is the tracklisting to Abbey Road, after being translated from English to Chinese to Norwegian to Polish to Hindi to Thai to Welsh to Yiddish to Chinese and back to English. Or something like that.

1. Together We Come
...re-contextualize that sexually!

2. Things 
...from the people that brought you Stuff.

3. Maxwell Yinchui 
...art, plain and simple.

4. Oh! Expensive 
...sounds like a T. Rex song.

5. Octopus Gardens 
...from the makers of Squid Forests.

6. How To (This Will Be Difficult) 
...sounds like a Talking Heads song.

7. When You Are In the Sun 
...you should wear some sort of protective gear or lotions.

8. Because
...oh, come on. LAME.

9. He Has Meant That Money 
...sounds like an Of Montreal song.

10. Sea-King 
...oh, come on. BORING.

11. Average Mustard Man 
...from the folks who brought you Ketchup Lady on the Street.

12. Polythene Palm 
...sounds like a Pavement song.

13. She Went To the Bathroom, Through the Window 
...oh, come on. GROSS.

14. Gold Sleep 
...is what happened to the dude sleeping outside her window. ZING!

15. To Carry Such a Weight Of 
...sounds like a Smiths song.

16. Final 
...oh, come on. LITERAL.

17. Her Pi
...oh gosh, I don't even know. You guys, other languages are ridiculous.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Top 15 Things I Will Miss About New York

I am no longer a New York City resident. This is how I feel about that.

15. Buying groceries at 4AM

This is as good a place to start as any. Maybe this was just me, maybe I didn't even do this all that frequently, but even really early on, this was one of the things that gave me that "Goddamn, I love this place" feeling. You're up too late, you need a soda or some milk or some soup or something, and you end up walking away from the bodega with a pineapple, just be-fucking-cause. 

14. Watching NY games in NY bars

I will tell you a story. Once, I was watching a Giants-Vikings game at Mercury Bar on 9th. The Vikes had the block on lock; they'd picked off Eli Manning five times. The old guy next to me had the craggiest face I'd ever seen, and he was hitting on the 20-something Emory grad next to him by talking about his ex-wife. (They were still close as close, he begged her to understand.) I'll never forget what he said after the fifth interception--"Fuckin' Giants," he goes, "Born losers." They won the Super Bowl six weeks later. People get down on NYC fans--too hard, too much pressure, too fair-weather. I think it's a different story. They want to convince themselves they're rooting for the underdog. Nothing wrong with that.

13. Getting to know people you've never spoken to

For us, it was Gutter Rockstar--a scraggly, ex-roadie-type who played his guitar (terribly) for all the street to hear. Or Pigeon Kicker--a guy who looked vaguely like Tommy Davidson and kicked pigeons. Or the guy who masturbated by the basketball court every once in a while. Or the bouncer outside of Mixed Emotions, the most poorly titled strip club ever. Or the Sam-the-Eagle lookalike guy who always took the subway at the same time as me, even when I was late, or (god forbid) early. Or those Bryant Park couples you'd always somehow end up next to... and you never go, "I'm sorry, didn't we sit together last week during 'The Thing'?" 'Cause that would have been weird! It's like being the guy who notices the live lobster pinching the passed out drunk's toe on the A-train, and saying, "Oh gosh, what has gone wrong?!" It's New York. Nothing has gone wrong. Don't mention it. If you do, it all falls down.

12. Running by the river

All throughout my six years in New York, the best bet was always Riverside. When I lived up in Morningside, I'd cut into the park at 116th and head down to 86th or so; for the past few years, I'd run up from 47th to 86th... either way, that was always my place. I never got a gym membership; the treadmill idea just didn't seem right. There is nothing in the world like turning a corner through a clearing and seeing the sun explode across the condos on the Jersey shore. Not even kidding. And sure, the water smells like sulfur and pain--the pain comes from Jersey--but there's just something so perfect about that run.

11. Those things you never really intended on doing

I never went to the Statue of Liberty. I never climbed the Empire State Building. I never saw a Mets game. I never visited the Bronx Zoo. I don’t even think I went to the Central Park Zoo. The only time I was in FAO Schwarz was waaay back in 8th grade. It gets easy to wear these things as cynical badges of honor, but that’s probably taking it too far. It’s almost more like, “Well, I haven’t been to the Statue of Liberty… but I can pretty much guess, ya know?” 

10. Adaptability

That's the thing about cockroaches, they know how to make do. Invent a new kind of Raid, the thirty percent of them that are immune to it will run off into some dark corner and breed like hell. New Yorkers--for all their anti-roach vitriol--are just like that. Our freezer door broke off, we jimmied it back on. Our toilet broke, we invented a way to flush it without the lever. They killed the 9-train, we all said, "Oh, okay." Buildings collapsed, cranes fell, bombs went off, kids got shot, we just turned the page and said, "Well, you know." Maybe this is not the best way to go about things, but I won't forget it.

9. The outer boroughs, goddammit

We had a long-standing and unfortunate dispute in my apartment about whether or not the outer boroughs were worth a damn. I can say, without qualification, I have had time(s) of my life (TM) in all five beautiful landmasses that make up New York City. I just want that to be known, and understood, and accepted.

8. Christmas

This is a horrible, horrible cliché, but it’s goddamn true. There is no better city in which to spend Christmas than New York. It just heightens every little emotion, every bit of cheer. It’s not just the iconic things—the Rockefeller tree, the mad crush of humanity at Macy’s—it’s dopey little moments… walking back from the corner with your Starbucks holiday cup, past the porn store window with mannequins dressed up as slutty elves… then, holding the apartment door for some mom carrying five thousand presents, saying your genuine-non-obligatory Merry Christmases, and heading on in, somehow thrilled that there are pine needles all over your too-tiny-common-room-floor.


1. NYC Duck Tour Ducks

Oh Jesus, these scare me so much. I don't know why. I am not that scared of people in costumes, even big puffy, foam/felt anthropomorphizations. But there's something about that friggin' duck that would stand at the end of our block, almost daring us to pass… that just shivered me to the core. Anyway. I can’t say anything more about this or I will have nightmares.


7. How seeing celebrities never gets old (...until your friends start to get famous)

Nathan Lane’s regular order at Starbucks. David Hyde Pierce stalking Caitlin. Laksh making Judy Gold laugh in the elevator at BMI. The double-whammy of David Schwimmer and Noah Emmerich on Columbus and 72nd. The party that evaporated to go see Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana outside the Barnes&Noble on 66th. Tom pissing off Janeane Garofalo at the Wet Hot American Summer screening. And, oh man, the best one… running smack into Tracy Morgan on 50th: “I’m so sorry, Mr. Morgan!” “Think nothing of it! Be on your way!” (As far as the parenthetical goes… I kid, I kid. Sure, it’s a weird feeling when classmates end up on magazine covers. But at least you get to pull the whole, “Oh, him? Yeah, I knew him” deal. Which is nice.)

6. Becoming a local at a chain

No one really likes going to Duane Reade. It’s too bright, they sell Valentine’s Day shit in December, and the aisles are arranged in the most arbitrary manner possible. It’s easy to loathe this part of New York living. But you guys, how cool are the Duane Reade ladies on 47th and 8th. Spoiler alert: the coolest. Like, cool enough for one of them to have been convinced I was Pacey from Dawson’s Creek. To be honest, for a few minutes, she made me believe I was. Oh, and how about the stand-up fellas at the Subway on that very same corner? Heroes. Heroes, all of them.

5. Being in love

As if “Christmas in New York” wasn’t too much of a cliché already. (Talk about heightening an emotion…) Being in love in New York is tough, because you’ve got to play up to a certain level. It is not, for instance, like being in love in Portland, Oregon. In New York, you almost have to get wrapped up in it, in this crazy, spinning feeling of there-are-eight-million-people-here-but-all-I-want-is-you, so-let-me-take-a-taxi-through-the-rain-to-you, I-hope-you're-wearing-my-favorite-dress-but-I-will-settle-for-anything-as-long-as-it's-you. It’s not too hard to lose perspective—this is both a comfort and a cause for concern. Joan Didion wrote about the boundless possibility of New York; nowhere is that possibility exemplified than in New York love.

4. Brunch

The New York City Sunday Brunch is a lazy, boozy tradition as old as Sunday itself. (Probably.) The reservation that you always eclipse by about fifteen minutes; the friends who will “definitely be showing up in like, twenty—thirty tops—we hope…”; the menu which is always some variation of the same damn thing, wherever you go; the bottomless Mimosas, which hours later leave you pleading for a retroactive bottom; the bill… AAAH, the fucking bill, which you are now too gone to pay sensibly, so you throw in $7 or $50—one or the other, there’s no in-between. Yes. Brunch. Unforgettable.

3. Stoops

Living on the ground floor of our Hell’s Kitchen apartment made the stoop an inevitability. And a glorious inevitability it was. Pound for pound, there is no better hang-out-drink-a-beer-talk-weird-to-strangers place in the world than a stoop. If that’s what you’re into. If not, I dunno, man. Try a library, I guess. I’ll be on the stoop if you need me.

2. The fact that every street has some memory tied to it

My dad and I were pulling onto the Henry Hudson and driving north up the West Side; it was like we weren’t even passing streets, every two hundred feet was just the beginning of another “Oh man, remember that time…” This makes New York problematic. It’s hard to run from your own story if every single intersection, every subway stop is a reminder of something that happened.

1. The fact that all my friends lived there

In the end, it’s always the same. The best part of New York or San Fran, or Paris or London, or Cleveland or Tallahassee, or Perth or Peoria—it’s always going to be the people you lived with, the people who became your family. You won’t find the moments on the bus tours. (It’s a sappy thing to say, but after six years, I think I’ve earned my sap.) To me, New York wasn’t Times Square or Derek Jeter or the Brooklyn Bridge. It was running down and back the 72nd St. pier with Tom. It was every time Laksh cooed at that scene in Goodfellas where Paul Sorvino cuts garlic with a razor blade. It was falling asleep on Frank’s couch in a plate of Big Nick’s French toast. It was every “Jaws isn’t the name of the shark!” exclamation from Caitlin. It was playing snow-means-we-can-tackle football with Mike and Colin on the Amsterdam overpass. It was Rob walking over to McGee’s and saying, “Hey, what if we had a blog?” It was all the little things that could have happened in any city, but somehow meant so much more because they happened here, to us, now.

And now now is then.

Of course… there’s no law saying I won’t be back.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Top 4 Fictional Characters Named "The Greek"

I am a guy who notices patterns. I'm what you'd call a pattern-noticer. Here's one I noticed today. If you ever want to give a character a name that is enigmatic, imposing, and ethnic, you'd do very well to go with "The Greek". Here are just SOME (ie, I stopped thinking of others) examples!

4. The Greek in Guys and Dolls

We don't know a lot about this The Greek. We know two things, in fact. We know he is a high-rolling gambler and we know that he is in town. (This is established in the opening dialogue to "The Oldest Established", in the first act.) In my high school production, they had this kid named Yanni play The Greek, on account of he was Greek. Race-casting! I feel like there was so much more to know about this character. In fact, if I were some sort of editor and the script to Guys and Dolls crossed my desk, I would have circled this line and written the note, "But who IS the Greek... what does he WANT!?" This is why I am not some sort of editor.

3. Zorba the Greek

Alexis Zorba is the protagonist of Zorba the Greek, written by Nikos Kazantzakis. I have never read this book, nor do I intend to before posting this list. I will tell you, instead, what I imagine Zorba the Greek to be about. I bet there is a guy named Alexis Zorba, who realizes that his last name is way cooler than his first name (which is actually a girl's name?), so he tells everyone, "Nah, blood... just call me Zorba, okay?" Anyway, Zorba's just hanging out on a hillside, eating olives and figs and stuffed grape leaves, when one day, his mom goes, "Zorba, you can't just lead this life of leisure, eating traditional Greek foods and probably looking after sheep. You've got to go to town and make a man of yourself, learn the truths, and build a family worthy of your name." He does this, in accordance with his mother's wishes, but he finds much pain. He meets a woman and they fall in love, but she isn't true to him. He learns many truths, but comes to realize how much he can never know. He becomes a man, but at the cost of his innocence. He returns to his mother and his hillside and his sheep. He weeps, and he is once again whole.

That is kinda what I figure Zorba the Greek is about.

2. The Greek in “Black Diamond Bay” by Bob Dylan

Oh man, have I told you guys how underrated Desire is? For an artist like Dylan, there's a lot of the catalogue that you might never really get to appreciate, so I am sure thankful that my dad was like, "Hey kid, you should listen to Desire, okay? It is a for-real good album, and 'Black Diamond Bay' is as good a story-song as just about anything." Anyway, the Greek is this diplomat/spy/criminal (these things are never clear...) who's doing business on this tiny island, and after things go awry, spoiler alert, he hangs himself, but the wacky thing is that just after he does, the volcano explodes and the island sinks under ocean. Honestly, it doesn't make much more sense than that, but the song is super-tight and has excellent violin accompaniment. 

1. The Greek on The Wire

You guys, this The Greek is pure-bred, factory-bottled Evil. And he's OLD, too! (Old guys can be evil!? I was not aware!) He's into drug trafficking, sex trafficking, stolen goods trafficking, air trafficking, kitten trafficking, pants trafficking... basically any kind of trafficking. ALSO, he might not even be GREEK!?! What!? C-c-c-c-come on! That's just deliberately confusing. Oh, and way to have a mole inside the FBI, you weird, old, evil, maybe-not-Greek dude. All in all, he's terrifying, he's enigmatic to a fault, and he's certainly ethnic--even if we don't really know what kind. Yeah. That's why he's the best The Greek there ever was.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Top 1 Things That Get Me Every Time

1. "I gave her my heart, she gave me a pen." (Lloyd Dobler, played by John Cusack in Say Anything...)

There was a time in my life when I thought every word of this movie was truth. I had the poster on my wall and everything. I didn't think twice abut boomboxing a girl to win her back. "In Your Eyes" wasn't just a good song, it was a romantic endgame. John Cusack wasn't just an actor, he was a walking Bible. There was a time in my life when I was eighteen.

Relationships don't end because your dad says so, and they don't get fixed because he's started stealing money from old people and he gets caught. No one wears those ridiculous Ione Skye sundresses. Kickboxing is not a future. Lili Taylor will never give you advice, and even if she did, it'd probably be bad. You will never, never, ever have a substantiative relationship with your sister's five-year-old... kickboxing or not. Yes. The past few years have been an education.

And yet.

There's something in that line that always gets me. Every few years, it will continue to get me out of nowhere. Breaking things down to the most reductivist, economic level possible. Perhaps past the relevant, sure... but sometimes, that's the only way that makes sense. Anyway. It gets me every time.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Top 8 Snarky, Jaded Websites

8. Cake Wrecks

Oh man! These cakes suck! We gotta let someone know! I wanted to order a sweet cake and instead I got a suck cake! I bet it tastes like a day old bag of cake shit! (Eds. note: What is that? {My note: ED, GET BACK TO WORK!}) Look, so some renegade baker/mom put George Michael on a cake. That's a pretty baller act of confectionery if you ask me. I'm not gonna hurt anyone's feelings over that. I might have a piece though. Like, the cheekbone.

7. FMyLife

Oh, here's the other thing about a lot of these websites... they showcase this new, weird trend of people making their failures super public. To me, this is both hilariously humble and staggeringly self-absorbed. (Eds. note: Too much consonance in this post. {My note: NO ONE ASKED YOU, ED.}) Wow... you have enough confidence to tell the world that your girlfriend broke up with you over the phone while sleeping with your brother. That's awesome. But you also feel the need to anonymously tell everyone. That's weird. And you don't really get anonymous pity in return. It's like howling "A DOG SHIT ON ME!" into the abyss. Where's the catharsis here? Oh my god, is catharsis dead!? All this time we were worried about irony...

6. Texts From Last Night

FMyLife to the next level, and by "next", I mean drunk. (Eds. note: Need to limit the "and by x I mean y" usages... {My note: WHO THE FRIG DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, ED!? STRUNK AND/OR WHITE!?}) And again with the weird, anonymous bravura thing. Entries usually fall into one of three categories: 1) Here is how poorly/confusedly I am texting... I am having an amazing/awful night; 2) Here is how little I remember and how many weird things I found in my room... I must have had an amazing/awful night; 3) I slept with an amazing/awful person. Okay, cool.

5. Look At This Fucking Hipster

It's at this point that I'll say... look, I obviously check all these sites semi-daily. I'm not hatin', I'm just trend-spottin'. (Eds. note: Really? {My note: THE SAME COULD BE SAID FOR YOU, EDWARD.}) I actually dig this site pretty hard, and this one time, at a party in Williamsburg, a dude turned to me after a particularly ridiculous-looking person entered, and that dude said to me, "Oh man, LATFH," and I laughed so hard Yuengling came out my nose and we high-fived. I'm fine with hipster-directed e-vitriol. That being said, it's 2009. This is no longer a difficult target. What's next, taking pot-shots at David Schwimmer? (Actually, can we?)

4. Fuck You, Penguin

Because there were too many Cute Animal Websites, they had to invent Fuck You, Penguin. It's a simple concept--cute picture, angry blurb about how the animal is annoying. It is as though the internet is screaming, "Look, we got Obama elected, can we just screw around with unimportant stuff for a while?!" (Eds. note: You sound silly when you speak for the internet. {My note: YOU SOUND SILLY WHEN YOU SPEAK!)

3. Awkward Family Photos

Yep, the 80s were a rough time for hair and clothing. So were the early-to-mid-and-okay-sure-the-late 90s. During this time period, there were some photos taken. Now it is time to laugh and thank god that we are all wearing Mad Men suits and sipping the finest brandy and shooting our bad-ass glocks into the air just because we feel like it. Oh wait. We are all still broken. Time has not healed us. The future will be awkward. Awkward is the only certainty. (Eds. note: I feel like we got off on a bad start. {My note: You're right, Ed. OH WAIT, NO, ACTUALLY, YOU BLEW IT.})

2. FailBlog

In theater, the rule is that when you cannot express yourself sufficiently through words, you sing, and then when song fails, you dance. On the internet, when you cannot express your awkwardness through texts, you tweet... when tweets fail, you post embarrassing photos. When you still haven't proven yourself to be worthless, you post videos of your friends trying to dunk by jumping off of rooftops and missing the rim completely. I'm not going to link. Search for it yourself. While you're doing so, meditate on how fun it is to be part of the New Lost Generation. (Eds. note: Preachy much? {My note: DICK MUCH, ED!?})

1. Peter and Rob Make Lists of Things

WE'RE BACK(ISH!), FOLKS! Yep, the other day, Rob was like, "Hey, it's our 1 Year Anniversary, except, actually, it was like, two weeks ago. Yay?" Then we cooked a sumptuous meal and watched a rom-com together, because that's what you do on anniversaries. Anyways, who's snarkier than us, right!? Heck yeah! (Well, except when I'm all, "Hey, here is a list of some things I made up.") And don't expect it to stop any time soon! 1 MORE YEAR! 1 MORE YEAR! 1 MORE YEAR! (Eds. note: You can't make me say it.)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Top 10 Most Underrated Films

10. Reign of Fire (2002)

Instead of writing why I love this movie so much, I just want to ask you all for a moment of silence for the fact that this was released in 2002. 2002! @))@!?! (That was 2002 in all-caps.) Gosh, seven years is a while. 

9. The Party (1968)

This movie got a little forty-years later buzz recently, when it was mentioned in like, every review of The Love Guru. (Either in the form of "This is not as good as The Party" or "Didn't we decide this sort of thing was a bad idea after The Party".) Well, forget it, because this movie is in another league. Peter Sellers (as Hrundi V. Bakshi) deserves every single Oscar ever for this performance, including the ones he didn't win for Dr. Strangelove. Far from the obviously awful, obviously awful route that British-guy-in-Indian-face could easily go, this film is sweet, subtle, and absolutely friggin' hysterical. Also, the original tagline was "If you've ever been to a wilder party than this... you're under arrest." Um, this movie has some sort of legal jurisdiction over similarly-wild parties? Double points!

8. Beautiful Girls (1996)

Aaaaah, I have dropped so much "OMG BEST MOVIE EVER" praise on this film, ever since two minutes into my first viewing of it. What can I say... get a cast of that-guys and that-girls, get the dude who wrote Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead to write the script, set it at a high school reunion in upstate NY, throw in Matt Dillon and a baby Natalie Portman... yeah, there's no way I'd go crazy for that movie. What, there's a "Sweet Caroline" singalong? Oh god, tell me where to go, I am already going crazy for this movie.

Starship Troopers (1997)

Really just for that moment when Neil Patrick Harris touches the gigantic bug's brain and yells, "IT'S AFRAID! IT'S AFRAID!" and everyone cheers. Oh, also, how did America not get that this was a satire on jingoistic recruitment films from the 40s and that the basic message is war makes fascists out of even the best people. I read a nice bit on CHUD.com that basically said, "This is the best 9/11 film ever made, even though it came out in '97." Yup.

6. Return of the Secaucus 7 (1980)

Okay, so it's basically The Big Chill before there was a The Big Chill. (Yes, I know, five thousand other people have made this connection already, but it's just true.) But here's my whole deal on that. They both have their merits. Secaucus 7 has long, rambly, banter-packed scenes that feel like actual conversations--ie; there's a 50/50 chance between brilliance and boredom. Chill has the laser-refined script and and the perfect score and the gift-wrapped ending, where even the heartache is the good kind. This last bit, incidentally, is my favorite thing about Secaucus 7--it deeply appreciates the "So... what next?" aspect of life. You can't just reconcile your loves, losses, and old ideals in one weekend at the lake. 

5. Dog Soldiers (2002)

So, by now, it's pretty cool to like Shaun of the Dead. And I see why... I mean, it's a perfect movie, after all. But if you want to make a deeper foray into very bloody, very funny films from the British isles, Dog Soldiers is a great place to start. The laughs to screams ratio is off the charts--which director Neil Marshall kind of abandoned on his next film, The Descent, but whatevs. I like werewolves more than cave-monsters, anyway. (As a grad school-bound 23-year old, that is exactly the kind of sentence I should stop writing.)

4. Kicking and Screaming (1995)

Again, this is a film I give pretty regular laudations to... for good reason. Yeah, you've got your "End of high school/college is crazy!" movies. Yeah, you can find a Baker's dozen of "We are adults for the first time!" films. Oh, and don't get me started on the billion and one movies that follow the "We have drifted for so long..." plot. This is the in-between of the three. A perfect triangulation. Oh, sure... all of these characters will be totally fine in a year. But there's that brief but crushing time period immediately following graduation and lasting until you decide that you are actually a real person--that's a killer. (A killer for wealthy-ish white kids who can always teach at their high schools, sure... but, I mean, we're people, too. Right?) Endlessly quotable, eternally watchable. Also, Parker Posey.

3. The Monster Squad (1987)

I don't think you get how much I watched this as a kid. If you are my parents, I don't think you get how much I snuck away to watch this in secret as a kid. THERE ARE KIDS. THERE ARE MONSTERS. THERE IS A BATTLE BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL. End of story. This was a winner from the pitch. 

My Name is Nobody (1973)

A baby-faced blond gunslinger goes out in search of his hero, so that he can make sure his hero goes out in style, "style" being a hail of bullets. Henry Fonda plays the hero, the baby-face is maybe the first gay cowboy of cinema, Sergio Leone is producing, does the rest even matter? Blurring the lines between slapstick and Western, homage and parody, pathos and bathos, this is a film I will always love. And thanks AMC for showing it at 3 AM like, five years ago...

1. The Long Goodbye (1973)

This film is a drug in and of itself. It takes a while to kick in... suddenly, it grabs hold of you and knocks you clear of your feet before you even see it coming... finally, it spits you out on a dirt road in Mexico, as a whistling man dances away from you. (That is what all drugs are like, right?) You want pedigree, you got it: Directed by Robert Altman, shot by Vilmos Zsigmond, scored by John Williams, based (ugh, loosely) on Raymond Chandler novel, and led by a mumbly, brilliant, tongue-so-far-in-his-cheek-it-hurts Elliott Gould. You want supporting cast, you got it: out-of-the-park performances from Nina Van Pallandt, Mark Rydell, Henry Gibson, and Sterling "Big fucking bear of a man" Hayden, as well as hey-look-at-that-guy cameos from David Carradine and baby Arnold Schwarzenegger. Oh, and Jim Bouton, the pitcher who wrote Ball Four. The 70s, LA, noir, drugs, thugs, booze, money... just watch it.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Top 10 Next Todd Phillips Movies

Hey!!! Were you aware that this one film entitled The Hangover has done very well? Oh, good for you, Todd Phillips, director of movies. I like how all your movies have plots that approximate your titles as follows... The Hangover: Hey, what if there was a hangover! And now he's doing a movie with Robert Downey Jr.!? Cool! What next... I WONDER:

10. Cover Band

What if there was a cover band! These three guys have been seen it all... except fame! Zach Galifianakis plays the bassist with an unpredictable streak.

9. Blackout

What if there was a blackout! These three guys have seen it all... except electricity! Zach Galifianakis plays the ConEd engineer with an unpredictable streak.

8. Day in Court

What if this dude had his day in court! These three guys have seen it all... except justice! Zach Galifianakis plays the baliff who streaks unpredictably.

7. Moving Day

What if it was moving day! These three guys have seen it all... except home. Zach Galifianakis plays the unpredictable Streak, a dude lives his life and gets what's his.

6. The DTs

What if these dudes had the DTs! These three guys have seen it all... except sobriety. Unpredictably, Zach Galifianakis plays the 12-step member streaking towards Step 11. 

5. Summer League

What if there was this summer league! These three guys have seen it all... except victory. Zach Galifianakis plays the unpredictably corruptible umpire.

4. Fixer-Upper

What if there was a fixer-upper! These three guys have seen it all... except the I-beams in the basement. (MORE LIKE WHY-BEAMS!?!) Zach Galifinakis plays the house, unpredictably.

3. Cross Country Flight

What if there was a cross country flight! These three guys have seen it all... except Utah! Zach Galifinakis plays all of the other people on the plane. With beards. Unpredictably?

2. Out of Milk

What if these dudes were out of milk! These three guys have seen it all... except more milk! Zach Galifinakis plays the milk.

1. The Dark Knight

What if there was a Dark Knight! These three guys have seen it all... except a dark knight! Zach Whatever plays the Bearded Whatever. You love it. Shut up.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Top 22 Under-the-Rader MLB Deadline Deals


Well, we here at PaRMLoT are all about bucking trends little by little, AKA, when I'm supposed to be finishing a chapter for work, I write lists about fake things that happened in baseball today (but not really).

Anyway, we've all heard that story about the baseball player who got traded for an expensive dinner or a handful of bats... well, guess what. THINGS LIKE THAT STILL HAPPEN. For instance, today--the date of the Major League Baseball trade deadline--the following trades happened:

22. Gary Matthews Jr. traded from the Angels to the Astros for a relatively sizeable hunk of cheese

21. Marco Scutaro traded from the Blue Jays to the Oriolies for four screws, a thumbtack, and a sheet of paper with a crudely drawn penis on it

20. Heath Bell traded from the Padres to the Mets for the Asian Jonathan Papelbon

19. Eddie Guardado traded from the Rangers to the Twins for some twine and a particularly sharp chicken bone

18. Stephen Drew traded from the D-Backs to the Mariners for the entire Internets

17. Rocco Baldelli traded from the Red Sox to the Braves for a DVD copy of Entrapment

16. Nick Johnson traded from the Nationals to the Rays for two DVD copies of Entrapment, plus a VHS of Youngblood

15. Huston Street traded from the Rockies to the Brewers for a sturdy 50 year-old oak

14. Boof Bonser traded from the Twins to the Dodgers for the farm, and all its residents

13. Ricky Nolasco traded from the Marlins to the Nationals for the philosophical idea of the Washington Nationals

12. Grant Balfour traded from the Rays to the Tigers for a potato alarm clock and Eva Mendes, who is a lizard

11. Khalil Greene traded from the Cardinals to the Yankees for the gay Jonathan Pabelbon

10. Vernon Wells traded from the Blue Jays to the Cubs for the island nation of Papau New Guinea

9. David Eckstein traded from the Padres to the Rangers for Jupiter’s moon Io

8. Fausto Carmona traded from the Indians to the D-Backs for the naming rights to the next Farrelly Brothers' comedy

7. Willy Aybar traded from the Rays to the Cardinals for the blind Jonathan Papelbon

6. Mark Teahen traded from the Royals to the Rockies for a handful of grapes and $150,000

5. Dennys Reyes traded from the Cardinals to the Rangers for a high plains drifter with nothing to lose but his past

4. Marlon Byrd traded from the Rangers to the Mariners for a can of wasabi peas and a “Kick me!” sign

3. Homer Bailey traded from the Reds to the Yankees for whatever the Native Americans sold Manhattan for

2. A.J. Pierzynski traded from the White Sox to the Indians for window-mounted AC unit and Jhonny Peralta

1. Jonathan Papelbon traded from the Red Sox to the Tigers for the female Jonathan Papelbon

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Top 10 Best Sitcom Episodes of the 2008-2009 Television Season

Well, I had meant to do this before the Emmy nominations were out, but now they are, so that ship has sorta sailed. I'm still offering my opinion, even when there is a much more respected one out there!

10. 30 Rock - "Kidney Now!"

I think I was more into this year's 30 Rock finale than most people--I thought it was far better than last year's finale, scattershot Emmy winner "Cooter." A lot of my enjoyment came fromm the fact that I'm a sucker for satirical points about the division between medium and message, which two of the three plotlines (1. a charity song to selfishly get one person a kidney and 2.a catchy but relationship-destroying catchphrase) dealt with.

9. Flight of the Conchords - "Prime Minister"

Of all the fun things in this episode--the guest starring roles of Art Garfunkel-obsessed Mary Lynn Rajskub and self-important Elton John impersonator Patton Oswalt to start, not to mention the cameo of Garfunkel himself--the one that pushes this episode into the sublime is the parody of Korean karaoke. The whole bit, sung by Bret, complete with both-languaged subtitles and marvelously weird stock footage, is the most consistently hilarious straight two minutes on TV since Alec Baldwin's therapy session last year on 30 Rock.

8. South Park - "The Ring"

I've knocked South Park before here, but man, when they get it right, they get it right. Calling out the Jonas Brothers' purity rings not for being lame but for being an elliptically dirty marketing trick--THAT is satire.

7. The Big Bang Theory - "The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis"

This is a show that started with a terribly lame pilot, but has grown into one of the best sitcoms on TV, centered on Jim Parsons playing an self-important Aspegian asexual (and getting an Emmy nom for it, huzzah!). I wouldn't pick this episode to start with (for that I'd recommend either the first season's "The Loobenfeld Decay" or this season's "The Vegas Renormalization") but once you've familiarized yourself with Parsons' character, his every move in this episode is gold.

6. How I Met Your Mother - "The Naked Man"

Television critics smarter than me have pointed out that at HIMYM's best, it often recalls Seinfeld's social-deconstruction-via-term-invention but with more heart, and this episode is a prime example of that, in what is almost certainly the show's best season to date.

5. 30 Rock - "Gavin Volure"

I was a lilttle underwhelmled by this episode at first, but I kept thinking about it and remembering lines from it, and when I watched it again and realized that it's exactly the groove that 30 Rock has settled into--in a good way. It's not as mind-blowingly surprising as, say, last year's "Secrets and Lies," but it's just an excellent and consistent half-hour of comedy, with jokes like, Steve Martin: "This is my expert on fine art and yelling," John MacEnroe: "Why isn't there any good art in this house!" that I can only describe as perfect.

4. How I Met Your Mother - "Intervention"

Maybe my favorite episode of HIMYM to date, this just has callbacks building on callbacks building to an earned climax--this is like great sitcom writing 101. And something as wacky as old-man makeup as a plotline could only be sold by Neil Patrick Harris.

3. 30 Rock - "Generalissimo"

As I indicated before, I don't think that 30 Rock quite had the highlights of its best episodes last season, but was overall more consistent. That was helped out by a pair of reliably good-quality romantic storylines, Baldwin with Selma Hayek and Fey with Jon Hamm (whose good looks and serious comedic chops make him my biggest man-crush in a long while). This stellar episode is kind of a stand-in for how the several episodes with those characters were for me--brought over the top by Baldwin playing his gay Mexican doppelganger.

2. The Office - "Broke"

Even more so than 30 Rock, this one is a stand-in for The Office's superb 6-episode storyline about the clash between Michael Scott and Charles, the stuffy suit played by Idris Elba. This whole season saw Michael Scott shouldering not only the comedic weight that he always had on the show, but also the dramatic weight--with a major love interest early on and a major professional conflict later. Together they made this season of The Office the best yet, though it was more about the consistency in arc from episode to episode than it was about individual 22-minute chunks. I elected this one the best (over other close calls like "Heavy Competition," which may have the best Office line of all time in, "The meatball parm is their worst sandwich!") in part because all of the wonderful subtle details about Michael that appear when this show is firing on all cylinders. The fact that he has been drinking milk and sugar--JUST milk and sugar--every morning for the past six years, is too perfect for words.

1. Better Off Ted - "Racial Sensitivity"

Well. I have waxed poetic about this episode already. Suffice to say I thought it was the best half-hour of TV this season. Watch it, already.

CAVEAT: I have yet to see more than the pilot of Party Down. Also, there are other shows that I didn't watch, but they're shows that for the most part I don't like.