Thursday, April 30, 2009
Top 7 Reasons That the Original Tom Waits Version of 'Downtown Train' Is Better Than the Rod Stewart Cover
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
The other night, I heard Tom and Caitlin discussing the current state of music while The Decemberists played on The Colbert Report. The general consensus was that Tom doesn't get music today and that musicians, The Decemberists especially, take themselves to seriously. I'm not entirely sure I agree, but I see where they're coming from. (I think it takes a certain amount of self-awareness and goofiness to write a folk-rock-opera, especially one about rakes and drowning and queens and... whatever the fuck The Hazards of Love is about. That being said, I dunno if we really needed a folk-rock-opera.)
Anyway, I think a good sign of a band taking themselves too seriously is the length of its song titles. But they could also just being having a good time... who knows, really. I don't, but that's not going to stop me from continuing to write this list.
(The opposite of really long song titles is rap skits. Oh man, the minute you record a rap skit, you are basically saying to the world, "Listen. We're only in it for the goofs." Like, "Where Are My Panties?" on Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. Good call on that one, Laksh.)
15. "You Are A Runner And I Am My Father's Son" - Wolf Parade
I have no way of evaluating the truth of this statement, but the boys in Wolf Parade are Canadian, and that’s as good as trustworthy. (They are Canadian, right? Did I make that up? “Oh, Peter… he thinks everyone is Canadaian.”)
14. "Up on Your Leopard, Upon the End of Your Feral Days" - Sunset Rubdown
You can make your own Sunset Rubdown song. It’s really easy. Just come up with a balls-to-the-wall ridiculous statement about another person, with a hint of nature-themed mysticism to boot. (For instance, “You Painted My Woods With Sunfire, I Cried ‘Nay!’”) Great, there is your title. Now, just drone anxiously and yelp for five or six minutes about childhood and wolves and maidens or whatever, and you are basically there.
13. "Oh God, Where Are You Now? (In Pickeral Lake? Pigeon? Marquette? Mackinaw?)" - Sufjan Stevens
Several of these are longer via the addition of parentheticals. (That is kind of cheating, but whatevs.) There were also a bunch more Sufjan songs with long titles, but I figured it would be overkill. Hey, by the way, it’s almost getting to be time for us to say, “Remember Sufjan Stevens?”!
12. "Final Countdown Of The Collision Between Us And The Damned" - Public Enemy
Really just a 49-second loop of beats and bleeps. And I guess at the end we collide with the damned? That part is less clear.
11. "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You" - Black Kids
Oh, Black Kids. If only you had like, two other songs that I liked.
10. "Listening to Otis Redding At Home During Christmas" - Okkervil River
It would be kinda funny to start an Okkervil River tribute band called like, Overkill Revir. Oh god, if I ever do that, just… beat me with a book or something.
9. "Nothing In This World Can Stop Me Worryin' Bout That Girl" - The Kinks
As featured in Rushmore! Man, how good were The Kinks. I mean, yeah, “You Really Got Me” and “Lola”, sure, fine. But those boys could range it from straight-up, boogie-down garage rock (the aforementioned) to giggly goof-ass college boy stuff (“A Well Respected Man”) to emo/indie bedrock (“Strangers”, “This Time Tomorrow”).
8. "Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight" - Whiskeytown
You’re excused, Ryan Adams!
7. "Pigs That Ran Straightaway Into the Water, Triumph Of" - The Mountain Goats
The refrain of this song is “I come from Chino, where the asphalt sprouts!” so I always imagine that it is being sung by Ryan Atwood of The O.C. …I’ve said too much.
6. "Thank You Mario But Our Princess Is In Another Castle" - The Mountain Goats & Kaki King
Hey! Cool! Another Mountain Goats song. And one is about video games, no less.
5. "Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again" - Bob Dylan
Note: Back in the 60s, this sort of predicament was cool to joke about, now it’s a DSM-IV recognized psychological disorder.
4. "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding" - Elvis Costello & The Attractions
Oh, hello, my karaoke song. Don’t believe me?! FEAST YOUR EYES! (Thanks for the video, Lauren.)
3. "Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis" - Tom Waits
This is maybe not so long of a title, actually, but… I mean… goddamn. That is a title. It’s got stuff we can ALL agree on as a family—Christmas, Minnesota, and prostitution. NICE.
2. "Rocket Man (I Think It's Going to be a Long, Long Time)" - Elton John
As previously mentioned, this was my favorite song for a little while when I was a little guy. (Maybe five or six or so.) Despite my early introduction to metaphors, it took me a super-long time to get that this was about the horrors of fame, not the horrors of space travel. Not gonna lie… I kinda like it better my way.
1. "This Is How You Spell 'HAHAHA, We Destroyed the Hopes and Dreams of a Generation of Faux-Romantics'" - Los Campesinos!
WHAT! That’s not a title, that’s a bowl of word salad. Los Campesinos!, you are on warning. (I kid, I kid… I like you guys. I’m still really sorry you didn’t make our Top 15 Albums of 2008 list—even after you basically wrote our theme song, “My Year in Lists”!)
Monday, April 27, 2009
A few days ago, Rob changed my life. He introduced me to "edarem". Edarem is the username of some sort of demon-wizard-sage-prophet living in a basement somewhere, sending out truths into the ether via his computer. Also, it should be noted that Michael Marlin was responsible for letting Rob know about this guy in the first place. (OBVIOUSLY.)
It is too late. Nothing can prepare you.
9. "You Always Hurt the One You Love"
I'm gonna level with you. I used to listen to this song a LOT as a kid. And by kid, I mean, where the hell is my Spike Jonze CD.
8. "Don't Throw Those Mini Blinds Away!"
This is your regular, run-of-the-mill cowboy-song-lip-synching, until he starts playing the old "How much plastic can I stick between my teeth?" game.
7. "NUCLEAR - How To Pronounce It"
Notably, this is the only video he made wearing that ridiculous wig.
6. "The Way Some People Talk..."
EDAREM, DID YOU MAKE UP THESE PEOPLE!?! IF SO, I DON'T CARE! I WANT YOU TO BE THE PASTOR AT MY WEDDING! AND THE MC AT THE AFTER-PARTY!
5. "Walker, Texas Ranger"
I bet he knitted that shirt.
The twisted, bizarre, possibly nude side of edarem!
3. "English - A Very Difficult Language"
This man takes even the most tried-and-true, wakka-wakka observations and crafts them into poetry.
2. "Scrubs Theme Music"
Hehehe... he's so full of talent! It's not easy to get that second "I'm no Superman!" He's RIGHT, dammit!
1. "I Just Love 30 Rock"
This is the first one Rob showed me. It is purebred crystallized mad-genius, forged in the molten core of the sun, and slicked with the dew of the New Age's dawn. I watch this like, five times a day.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Today was April 20th, also known as 4/20. 4/20 was Hitler’s birthday, and now, it’s National Smoke Weed Day. This is an extreme case of correlation not equaling causation.
Not that I have any qualms with the day or anything, just because I enjoy being contrary…
12. Walk into one of the headshops down in the Village, and ring out in a sing-songy voice, “Helloooooo, is there any chance you happen to be selling any a-WEEEEED?!”
11. Rent every damn Sean Penn movie except for Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
10. Bike around with a boombox blaring “Truckin’” on repeat, and if anyone says anything to you, scream “NAH MAN, I’M STRAIGHT-EDGE!”
9. Insist that since possession is 9/10ths of the law, the real day of celebration should be September 10th.
8. Invent a new sport: Frisbee skeet!
7. Go to White Castle and order a salad.
6. Send out the email reprinted in this blog post.
4. Actually, watching The Ruins will ruin just about any day.
3. Oh shit, that last pun was TOTALLY unintentional.
2. Write a list that devolves into unintentional puns.
1. Actually get arrested for marijuana drug possession.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
9. Murder By Death
Oh gosh, I watched this constantly as a kid... didn't get half the references or the dirty jokes, didn't recognize a single person in the once-in-a-lifetime cast, but it flat-out killed me. Neil Simon is just a brilliant, brilliant guy, ya know? And casting Peter Sellers as a Charlie Chan parody? If that isn't an inspired bit of genius, I don't know what is.
8. Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young
I think these guys might actually have been the inspiration for writing this list in the first place. Last week, I started listening to their first few albums on repeat, basically... just out of the blue. All these memories flooded back--me in my living room, listening to my dad's vinyl copy of Deja Vu, my parents harmonizing on "Teach Your Children", getting the twenty-five-years-too-late gossip about Judy Collins and Stephen Stills. I could listen to "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" a million times and never get sick of it. (Fun fact: in high school, Matt and I wrote a movie and a key plot point was one of the characters listening to "Love the One You're With" thirty seven times on repeat. Anyway.) That was kind of how I learned about love, as a kid. You fall for someone, you write a song. They break your heart, you write another. It just makes sense. Mr. Stills says it even better: "There are three things men can do with women: love them, suffer for them, or turn them into literature. I've had my share of success and failure at all three." God, I hope I say something like that some day.
7. Dr. Doolittle
There was a period of my life--it may have been a year or so--where I watched this every day. I actually don't remember a lot about it, to be totally honest, but at the time, I was convinced that Rex Harrison was a god. HE COULD TALK TO THE ANIMALS. (I had not yet fully grasped fiction.) The last act of that movie is the most ridiculous, drug-infused explosion of madness, by the way... friggin' huge snails?! An islander dude named William Shakespeare X?! A MOTH THAT FLIES BETWEEN THE EARTH AND THE MOON?! This was my childhood.
6. Elton John's Honky Chateau
This was the main casette in rotation in our car's tapedeck. Every song on it is perfect. I had "Rocket Man" memorized by the age of four or so. I fell in love with a girl named Amy in kindergarten, so "Amy" became my favorite song for like, a day. We had a cat named Honky, so "Honky Cat" was a big hit with me. For some reason, I loved "I Think I'm Gonna Kill Myself", too... which distressed my parents to no end. And John's delivery of the word 'shackles' in "Slave" always got me really psyched. The standout track is probably "Mona Lisas and Madhatters" though, which I rediscovered when it showed up in Almost Famous, and again when I moved to New York for college.
5. The Adventures of Robin Hood
I've already gone off on my love for this film a few times, most recently here... suffice to say, this is where I learned what heroism looks like. (Heroism looks like Errol Flynn throwing a dead deer onto the king's banquet table, incidentally.)
4. A Prairie Home Companion
I can't count the times that Garrison Keillor's voice was the last thing I heard before falling asleep. Okay, that sounded intensely creepy. Um, anyway... best living American story-teller? Maybe?
3. Into the Woods
Okay, so, I know I don't mention this a lot, but I'm kind of a musical theater person. And Into the Woods is why. I mean, for my money, there isn't a better musical out there. There also aren't many better examinations of parent-child relationships or morality or the concept of story or the idea of what consitutes a happy ending... I could keep going. The only thing that kills me is that I never got to play the Baker. (I played the goddamn Steward, just in case you're wondering. Don't. Get. Me. Started. This concludes the gayest rant on PaRMLoT.)
2. Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks
So whether this album is ALL about Sara or TOTALLY inspired by the short stories of Anton Chekov, this album takes that artist-plus-artist's-beloved-equals-art equation and runs with it to friggin' Mexico. (Not that it has a Latin vibe, or anything.) I remember one summer, after my high school girlfriend and I set a date for our break-up... I was working maintenance at my dad's college and she was running the new student orientation. I spent all day driving around in a truck, listening to this. My buddy Trey tried to steal it from me, I think, so I could move on... both to another album and to another girl, I guess. Sometimes you just have to listen to Blood on the Tracks over and over and over until you get it, though.
1. Cat's Cradle
Hands down, not-even-close, best book ever written. Changed me for good, and continues to change me every time I read it. When Laksh bought me a new copy for Valentine's, I was like, "This girl is golden." There is simply no other document that explores the interplay of science, religion, and humanity than this novel. And my dad gave it to me to read when I was eight.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
I can't believe that I haven't seen a comedy deal with this before, because the possibilities for plotlines are seriously endless. A company that makes new things can always make something new to have a conflict around. A short list of things that the company has made/done so far (mini-list!)
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
You guys better win tonight or I am taking over the team like that kid in Little Big League. There will be a reckoning! No one is safe! Not even you, Nicky Punto! Now, slide into first base head-first! Again! Again! Who do you play for! Again! Again!
1. I put up a "Happy Birthday, Paul Rudd" list, but not a "Happy Birthday, Mom" list?!
You guys, this was just bad, bad form. You may recall that yesterday, April 6th, I posted a list chronicling the eight best roles Paul Rudd has played, in honor of his 40th birthday. Well, where the hell was I on March 28th, and where was the tribute list to my dear mother? (Note: I'm not "just now bringing this up" 'cause my dad told me to or anything like that. It dawned on me this morning and I felt totes bummed, so I had to do something about it. In fact, DAD, where was the "How dare you not tribute your mom in list fashion!" email?! Diffusion of responsibility!) Anyway, here are the Top 8 Roles My Mom Has Played:
8) Department chair
7) First soprano (not like, first ever, but still!)
6) First librarian in space (that was a first)
5) Also the second librarian in space
4) "Melissa" in A.R. Gurney's Love Letters
1) Third librarian in space
I love you, Mom!
Monday, April 6, 2009
Attention, the Internet. (Especially you, Parmlotters!) Paul Rudd--noted man among men and PaRMLoT hero--is 40 years young today. Because I am the kind of guy who can admit to a healthy, non-threatening, "I bet that famous guy would totally get me" mancrush, I present you eight of my favorite Paul Rudd roles. (Sorry Anchorman fans, I left off Brian Fantana because Rob doesn't like that movie and mentioning it in a positive light would probably incur a Merkin Muffley Exclusion level cataclysm.)
Oh, also... baseball is here! (Just in time for the Twins to lose their opener to the Mariners. Goddammit. Is Seattle even a city? Whatever. 161 and 1 is not SUCH a bad record.)
8. "Nick Carraway" in The Great Gatsby
Hear me the frig out, America. This is not a good Gatsby adaptation. I will grant you that up front, no money down. But Rudd gets Nick, he gets him in a very quiet, honest way—he’s subtle without being a cipher, a little lost without being emo.
7. "Peter" in I Love You, Man
Mostly for this quote in a recent Times article: “Mr. Rudd, who sees a little of himself in Peter, said he happily occupied a middle ground between macho and metrosexual. ‘I can talk about sports and stuff,” he said. “But I have a season pass for ‘Antiques Roadshow’ on my TiVo. And I can talk to you about all the seasons of ‘Project Runway’ and do it without any shame.’”
6. "David" in The 40 Year-Old Virgin
I like watching people meltdown on screen… it’s not a sadistic thing, I just love the moment when the meltdown ends and the redemption starts. This character is one of the most desperate takes on hopeless romanticism and it’s start-to-finish gold.
5. "Jack" in The Oh in Ohio
Have you seen this movie!? You should. I pumped for it back in ‘05, mainly because of the cast—Rudd, Parker Posey, Danny DeVito, Keith David—and then when I sat down to watch it, I was all, “Aw man, this is a ladies movie about lady parts.” But then Paul Rudd and his beard show up and it is ON. This is a guy at his cynical, beard-wearing, brown-bag-drinking, Mischa-Barton-screwing best. (Well, that last bit is gross, to be fair.)
4. "Adam" in The Shape of Things
This is a crazy-good play and if nothing else, it filled me with the unshakable fear that I would one day be betrayed by an artist. I suppose it happens to everybody in one way or another, but… oh man, in this one... I felt for you, buddy.
3. "Josh" in Clueless
3. "Josh" in Clueless
Aw man, remember when no one knew who Paul Rudd was? Those were the days. Clinton was in the White House, Counting Crows was on the radio, and we all cheered the coming Robotocalypse as Deep Blue beat Gary Kasparov at chess.
2. "Andy" in Wet Hot American Summer
This is when I full-on realized the genius of Rudd. (This is also when I full-on realized how cool denim jackets look.) Andy is simply one of the most lovable assholes ever captured on film, an absolute testament to how much fun it is to watch this guy work. He spits “Fuck you, dyke!” at his semi-girlfriend one second, lets a kid drown the next, and tops it all off by throwing another out a moving van… and you still want to hang with him.
1. "Pete" in Knocked Up
1. "Pete" in Knocked Up
Every once in a while, I go off on a thing about how Paul Rudd legitimately deserved a nomination for this role. You don’t want to be around when this hurricane starts a-blowing. Dude was the heart and soul of this film—the angry, snarkier than thou, hey-check-out-my-baller-Tom-Waits-tee-shirt heart and soul. That scene in the playground with the bubbles, where he says that his children’s smiling faces remind him how he can’t manage to find happiness in his life… killer. And that’s totally his actual Tom Waits tee. I bet that guy has some of the best tee shirts in the world. (Not the best, though. The best tee shirt in the world, of course, is Laksh’s Bon Jovi shirt from some tour back in the 80s. It’s just his face with like, crazy hair and ice-blue-fire eyes. It is the coolest thing imaginable.)