Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

Don't let the door hit ya, 2008 - it's time to make room for 2009!!!

We hope you all have a fun time ringing in the New Year tonight. Remember guys: Friends don't let friends make resolutions they have no hope of keeping and that will only serve to depress them sometime in mid-Febuary when they take stock of their lives and realize its been all for not. For realz.

Have a good one. 2009 = BEST YEAR EVER!!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A gaze into 2009

Gottcha by the balls!

Recently, Red and I looked into our patented Gingers is the Watchword Crystal Ball® and forsaw the year that is about to be hoisted upon us. Most of it was filled with a clouded haze of red wine and Netflix (kind of like 2008 .... and 2007 .... and '06...) but there were a few highlights we thought you might like, nay need, us to share:

LiLo and Sam Ronson adopt a child, name her Cady, and become the poster couple for a Repeal Prop 8 campaign.

The Obama administration is racked by its first scandal when the “shelter dog” the first family adopted turns out to be former Westminster Kennel Club champion Topfield-Cloverhill Buggybumpers, an (actual) purebred Basset Hound.

Red's obsession with Beyonce becomes so great, she insists everyone refer to her as Sasha Fierce.

Britney Spears is photographed doing the walk of shame from Dustin Diamond's place.

Viewers of MTV’s The Hills can’t decide which is worse: The brutal beating and robbery and of Lauren Conrad behind a Hollywood club, or that fact that Justin Bobby was totally flirting with Lo, but when Lo told Audrina, Audrina didn’t believe her and now they’re not speaking.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince makes more money than anything in the history of ever.

The 40th anniversary of the first lunar landing is celebrated with the announcement that NASA will be shut down as a cost-cutting measure and all space shuttles are being sold to Dubai as a tourist attraction.

The 40th anniversary of Woodstock makes Liz feel really old, because she remembers the 25th anniversary of Woodstock like it was yesterday.


With unemployment nearing 15 percent, the only bright spots in the US economy are the bindle industry and Solider of Fortune magazine.

Dave Coulier shocks everyone when he stars as a mentally challenged lawyer who prosecutes G.W. Bush for war crimes. He goes on to win the Oscar for best actor, prompting Alanis to finally admit Jagged Little Pill is all about him.

The world is shocked, shocked!, when relations between Israel and its neighbors don’t improve at all in 2009.

Anything you guys see coming? Let us know!

Monday, December 29, 2008

...and they'll make beautiful music together

Zooey Deschanel and Ben Gibbard are engaged. Indie rockers make the cutest couples.

Talents I Discovered During the Christmas Holiday

I am amazing at Wii Bowling - When I say "amazing," I mean "not as terrible as I am at Wii baseball, golf and tennis." Plus, my Mii is totally hot.

I was made for Rock Band - I always suspected I'd love Rock Band, but I had no idea I'd be awesome at it, too. So, maybe I'm only awesome at the singing part (all that karaoke finally pays off with 100% accuracy, suckas), but I can hit 2 drum pads on beat at least 60% of the time. I choose to believe this means I totally missed my calling to be a hot chick drummer, a la Karen Carpenter. I think, ultimately, it's the universe that loses most.

Did you discover any hidden talents this holiday season? Are they, unlike mine, actually helpful on your path to greatness?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Best Books of 2008

In addition to being grandmas who like to be in bed by 10, Liz and I are book nerds, too, so I said, "Hey, Liz. Let's compile a list of the best books we've read this year" and Liz said, "Good idea.
It'll make us look wicked smaht." (this exchange may or may not have just been created in my mind.) So here you have it. The best books Liz and I read in 2008:

Liz's Picks

The Nine
by Jeffrey Toobin: Who knew the Supreme Court was so fascinating?

Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart: One of the funniest books I have ever read.

The Law of Dreams by Peter Behrens: A graphically realistic story of a kid escaping the Irish potato famine.

The Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons: Superheroes .... or are they? You'll be hearing a lot more about this next year.

Red's Picks

The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard: Murder, mystery and Edgar Allan Poe run amok at West Point Military Academy.

Generation Kill by Evan Wright: I think you've heard me blabber enough about this book and mini-series. Just read it already.

King Dork by Frank Portman: Previously, Portman was known to me for rocking out in Mr. T Experience (and producing such relatable gems as "Even Hitler had a Girlfriend"), but he will now be fondly remebered as the dude who wrote this awesome and hilarious tale of adolecence.

A Fan's Notes by Frederick Exley: Pistols is always going on and on about this novel about alcoholism, mental illness and football fandom, so I thought I'd check it out. It's actually really good and proof Pistols isn't always wrong about everything. I was shocked, too.

If you've read anything exceptional this year, let us hear it. If you're lucky, maybe it will end up on our list next year. Dare to dream.

Random Shit

Bender from Futurama sings the Chargers song...Let's Go Bolts!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Travel Nightmares: The Real Deal

Since I moved to San Diego from Boston, people frequently ask me if I miss the snow. Not really I say, because snow is pretty while it's falling, then its just a royal pain in the bootie.

Case in point: My recent trip home. Here’s what went down.


Direct red-eye flight from San Diego to Boston, expected to land early Sunday morning: Cancelled

JetBlue’s offer to put me on a flight that will get me in Tuesday morning: Unacceptable, though apparently only alternative.

United Airlines flight from San Diego to Washington, DC to Boston that will get me to Logan International later Sunday night: Discovered on Cheaptickets. Booked.


Flight to DC: Boarded. Arrive one hour early.

Voicemail from parents discovered upon arrival: Connector to Boston has been cancelled.

JetBlue flight from DC to Boston: Booked, by awesome parents.

JetBlue flight from DC to Boston: Delayed, several hours.

Checked luggage, which was supposed to go from DC flight to Boston connector: Down in DC baggage claim, according to bored sounding United flight attendant.

Baggage from DC flight: Not coming. Wait at baggage carousel for one hour. Bags finally come down.

My bag: Not among them.

Line to talk to baggage claim: Long.

Phone call from parents while in line: Bad. JetBlue flight has been cancelled. Logan apparently closed, at least for the time being.

Attempt to not lose it and start tearing up and kind of crying: Fail.

Amtrak train that leaves DC at 10 p.m. and will get into Boston at 8 a.m.: Awesome parents say will book.

Older brother’s former roommate: Lives in DC, agrees to hang out with me for a little while until I get on train.

United Airlines: Booked me on a flight to Boston at 8 a.m. the next morning. (Without alerting me in any way). Amtrak will get me in quicker. Tell them to cancel it.

Baggage: Supposedly being sent on a flight from DC to Boston at 10 p.m. that night.

Faith in this plan: Low.

Hatred for United Airlines and desire for it to go bankrupt: High.

Amtrak train at 10 p.m.: Full

Time I got up this morning: 6 a.m. PST.

Food I've eaten: One piece of toast.

Eyes: Tearing up again.

Amtrak train to Boston at 3:15 a.m.: Booked by awesome parents.

Bus ride to where brother’s former roommate lives: $3.10.

Amount spent to get exact change for bus: $4.76 (approx).

Brother’s former roommate: Most gracious.

Wings, pizza and Guinness at The Capitol Grill Pub: Delicious.

View of the Capitol from brother’s former roommate’s apartment: Impressive.

Temperature in DC: 29 degrees, wind chill of what feels like -75 degrees.

Sleep attempted before 3 a.m. train: 4 hours.

Sleep achieved: None


Train: On time!!!

Cities between DC and Boston: Far too many.

Sleep achieved on train: 2 hours (approx)

Boston: Welcomes me at 11:30 a.m.

Awesome parents: Haggle with baggage claim guy at Logan and convince him to give them daughter's bag. Then pick up travel weary daughter at South Station.

Home cooked meal, nap and warm shower on arriving home 30 hours later than expected and literally taking planes, trains and automobiles to get there: *siiiiiigh*

Happy Hanukkah!

I realize we only have one Jewish reader (that I am aware) and I only have 1.5 Jewish friends (my ex-boyfriend is both half-Jewish and half a friend), but I love the Jews. I can't help myself! So, here's to celebrating your 8 nights of fun, gifts of white gold hoops and Chinese food on Christmas day. Happy Hanukkah to you all.

I have no idea

At the Movies: Milk and Frost/Nixon

It's that time of year when the excellent movies are released and I go to the movies like it's my job. (Seriously, won't someone please pay me for this? Please!) This weekend, I caught 2 films which are locks to garner Best Actor Oscar nominations.

First up is Milk. Sean Penn stars as Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person elected to public office in America. It seems ridiculously obvious to say it, but Sean Penn is phenomenal. I found myself choking up every time he made a speech. I'm too young to remember the real Harvey Milk, as he was assassinated just weeks before I was born, but Penn seems to perfectly capture the man. Also great are Emile Hirsch as one of Milk's co-activists and Josh Brolin as Milk's adversary on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Director Gus Van Sant does a terrific job blending archival footage with new scenes to capture the 1970's and the gay rights movement. Milk is definitely one of the best movies of 2008.

Frost/Nixon is wonderful in it's own way, but it's not nearly as powerful or moving as Milk (and really, it's unfair to compare the two as the only thing they really have in common is their biographical nature...and the fact that I saw them both the same weekend, but, as people keep telling me for some reason, the universe does not revolve around me). Frost/Nixon tells the story of David Frost, English TV presenter, who garnered the first in depth interview with Richard Nixon after his resignation. I was a bit wary about F/N, as director Ron Howard can be hit (Parenthood) and miss (How the Grinch Stole Christmas). Here, he definitely gets it right, but F/N will be remembered mainly for the amazing performance by Frank Langella as Richard Nixon. Langella creates a man who's stubborn, arrogant, self-conscious, yet totally likable and pitiable. I left thinking Nixon wasn't such a bad guy after all. Maybe that's how my kids will view G.W. Bush (hahaha. Like I'll ever have kids).

I'd recommend both Milk and Frost/Nixon, but if you must choose between the two, go see Milk.

James Franco also stars as one of Milk's lovers. Thank you, Lord, for The Franco.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Rant: The missing white girl shuffle

Listen, there’s nothing funny about little kids getting murdered. I’m not going to pretend there is. And it’s even less funny when their parents might have killed them. It’s tragic, sick and wrong. All that being said: Why the f$!# is the national news media so consumed with the Caylee Anthony case?

I can’t turn on the news or stand in line at the grocery store without seeing her adorable and therefore TRAGIC little face and pictures of people with no remote connection to her except that they also read about her while in line to buy potato chips holding protests and candlelight vigils on her mom’s lawn.

In case you guys aren’t news junkies, or have servants who go to Rite Aid to buy $6 bottles of Little Penguin for you, Caylee Anthony was this three-year-old girl in Florida who went missing a while back, and the cops think her mom killed her. They found her remains recently; DNA tests confirmed today that it’s her. It’s awful. But it’s also really not news outside the metro-Orlando region.

And yet…

Of course we all know the real reason this “is” news: Adorable white girl goes missing = International news frenzy. It’s like Natalie Whatshername and the one from England. I’m all for Amber Alerts and getting the names and faces of missing kids out there so they can be found, but if you’re cute and white, you apparently also get your disappearance turned into a quasi celebrity event. Can you imagine if Suri Cruise went missing? I think Nancy Grace would have a stroke on the air.

My real question though is this: Who cares about this stuff? Not in like a passing, "Oh my God that's terrible. Her poor family" kind of way, but in a "I'm going to devote roughly 4,000 hours of my life studying this" kind of way. They’re presumably flogging this case like a drunken sailor because its getting ratings, right? But I have never once been at a gathering of any kind and heard anyone mention it. I can’t remember ever clicking on a link to read more about the story. I have pieced together everything I know about it from the covers of People and the National Enquirer. I don’t know anyone who’s acted differently.

So what do you guys think? Am I just soulless wench who clearly wasn’t born with what you humans call “feelings,” or is this thing blown just a little out of proportion when compared to the grand scheme of things like cholera epidemics and human trafficking and this guy’s hair?

At the Movies: Synecdoche, New York

Last weekend, I ventured to see the new Charlie Kaufman film (his directorial debut) Synecdoche, New York. If you've seen any of the previous work penned by Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovich), you know he can be trippy as hell and SNY is no different.

Philip Seymour Hoffman stars as Caden Cotard, a theater director with health and marital problems. After a series of events, he decides to stage a huge reality theater piece, where he basically recreates scenes from his life and the lives of his fellow New Yorkers. He experiences love and loss and, you know, the stuff of life, but these themes are juxtaposed with weird, Kaufman-esque touches like a constantly burning building and a weird psuedo-stalker. Confused? Yeah, I was, too. After my viewing, I emailed Garney and said "I loved it, but I don't think I got it," and he, being his brilliant self, said, "I don't think there's too much to really get about it but rather appreciate Kaufman's work for its bizarre authenticity." Then he compared it to Fellini's 8 1/2 and it actually made more sense...sort of.

Synecdoche, New York is totally weird and, at times, incomprehensible, but it's definitely worth seeing. Plus, Samantha Morton plays a buxom, curly haired redhead and I can kind of relate to that kind of woman...for some reason. Check it out and report back with your thoughts.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What's the Best Gift You've Ever Received?

(Disclaimer: I will probably offend someone reading this by neglecting to mention their awesome gift giveryness. I apologize in advance.)

In case you haven't heard, the holidays are upon us. Rather than provide you with gift giving ideas, I thought I'd share some of the best gifts I've ever received from my friends (because my friends are really effing great and maybe some of their awesome ideas will inspire you to greatness, or something). Here now, in no particular order, are the greatest gifts I've received in the mail from friends (have I added enough qualifiers yet?) over the years:

* Books - This year for my birthday Garney gifted me with King Dork, a book he thought I'd enjoy (I just finished it and I highly recommend it to all). The gift was totally unexpected, which is always fun. A book may be my favorite gift ever because it says, "Hey. I read this and thought of you" and someone thinking about me is the greatest gift of all...for the both of us.

* DVD/Socks/Guinness Coasters - I spent a chilly weekend in Boulder with my old friend Mike a few years ago. Upon my return home, he sent me Guinness coasters from the bar we went to (coasters which proclaimed "Guinness: Only 120 calories!"), socks to keep my feet cozy (because, being from Cali, I neglected to pack socks, never expecting to be snowed in an extra day) and a DVD of the Woody Allen film Play it Again, Sam (because we'd talked about how much I like Casablanca). It was one of the most thoughtful (and romantic) gifts ever. I totally should have dated that guy.

* Homemade Quote Collections - While in high school, some friends and I kept a journal of sorts where we wrote incredibly self-deprecating blurbs that all began "You know you're pathetic when...." When my friend Jason went off to college, we continued to sign our emails with these "patheticisms." For my birthday that year, he created a new book of sorts, full of all the crazy and witty things we'd said over email. It was incredibly surprising (being the jerk I am, I just deleted the emails after I replied) and totally rad.

Contrary to popular belief (mainly due to things I've written), I'm not incredibly materialistic. I'll take a thoughtful/memorable gift or card over diamonds and a Mercedes any day.

So, enough about me and my incredible friends. What's the best gift anyone has ever given you?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Newsflash: Rom-Coms Screw with Your Preception of Romance

I always suspected watching Say Anything 527 times in high school warped my expectations of what men will actually do to be romantic, but now there is scientific proof. "Relationship experts" at a university in Edinburgh had 100 people watch the John Cusack/Kate Beckinsale romance Serendipity, while 100 other people watched a David Lynch film. They discovered the group who watched Serendipity were more likely to believe in "fate and destiny" (while the other group, presumably, all committed suicide rather than finish watching a David Lynch film). Finally! People can officially blame their unrealistic ideas of love on external forces! Victory!

I'll never let go, Lloyd. I'll never let go.

Best TV of 2008

Like Liz and her music, I am a connoisseur of television. Sometimes, I wonder how I ever lived without a DVR (and how anyone lives without HBO). I'm pretty sure I watched more TV this year than ever in my life, and here are my pics for the best of the best (I've included a memorable quote from each show because, you know, I effing love me some quotes):

10. Real Time with Bill Maher HBO - Sure, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are more popular, but Real Time is, for my money, the best political program on TV. In an exciting election season, Bill talked about things others ignored and contributed greatly to the most encouraging election in my lifetime. Memorable Quote: "You know who's bitter in America? I am, because shit-kickers voted twice for a retarded guy they wanted to have a beer with and everybody else had to suffer the consequences." - Bill Maher

9. Summer Heights High HBO - Like Flight of the Conchords last year, nothing made me laugh harder. Australian Chris Lilley is a bloody genius. MQ: "No offense but I seriously hate all fat people." -Ja'mie

8. Battlestar Gallactica Sci-Fi - The re-imaged nerdfest just keeps getting better. I won't say much about this season, as Liz is still catching up, but I eagerly await the final installment of this incredible series early next year. Thanks to Dave for getting me into this show. MQ: "Old gods die hard." - Six

7. The Office NBC - While I think this show is failing to live up to the terrific first seasons, I still love the Dunder-Mifflin gang...especially Michael. His love, and loss, with Holly this season was perfection. I never thought I'd say this, but more Michael and the randoms, less Jim and Pam drama, please. MQ: "As it turns out, you can't just check someone into rehab against their will. They have to do it voluntarily. They have to hit rock bottom. So I think I know what I need to do at this point. I need to find ways to push Meredith to the bottom. Um. I think I can do it. I did it with Jan." - Michael Scott

6. Pushing Daisies ABC - We're big fans around these parts of this already canceled gem. Creator Bryan Fuller is apparently cursed to be too creative for his own good. 'Tis a shame. MQ: "The pie-maker considered how not telling Chuck the truth about her father was a lot like being locked in a prison. Then he considered how being locked in a prison was actually much worse than some silly metaphor about truth." - Narrator

5. Ashes to Ashes BBC - It wouldn't be a TV list by Red if there wasn't some British show you've never heard of. This show, a sequel to the BBC version of Life on Mars, follows a modern cop, who is shot and wakes up in the 80's. It's totally awesome, mainly because of the performance by Philip Glenister as DCI Gene Hunt, who can sexually harass me anytime. MQ: "Right! How many birds does it take to screw in a light bulb? Two! One to run around screaming 'What do I do?' and one to shag the electrician!" - Gene Hunt

4. 30 Rock NBC - Oh, Liz Lemon. Can I move to NYC, move in with you and make you my best friend? Pretty please? MQ: "[The Postmaster General and I] had a falling out over the Jerry Garcia stamp. If I wanted to lick a hippie, I'd return Joan Baez's phone calls." - Jack Donaghy

3. The Wire HBO - I almost forgot the final season aired this year. One of the best TV shows ever came to a close and, while not the best season of the series, it left me satisfied. I love seeing actors from The Wire pop up everywhere from 300 to Lost to the 90210 remake. Every time, it's like seeing an old friend. MQ: "The bigger the lie, the more they believe." - Bunk

2. Mad Men AMC - What a year for our friends at Sterling Cooper. Year of the ladies...and it was incredible. This show makes me long for the days of dresses and suits and drinking in the office. And then there's Joan. Sweet, sweet Joan. *sigh* MQ: "One day you're there and then all of the sudden there's less of you. And you wonder where that part went — if it's living somewhere outside of you — and you keep thinking maybe you'll get it back and then you realize it's just gone." - Peggy Olsen

1. Generation Kill HBO - What do you get when you take a fascinating and funny book about recon Marines entering Iraq, hand it to the brilliant David Simon and Ed Burns, mix in a ton of hot dudes and put it on HBO? Simply, the greatest TV production of 2008. Catch it today on DVD. MQ: "Saddam is just part of the problem, if Saddam invested more in the pussy infrastructure of Iraq than he did in his fucking gay ass army, then this country would be no more fucked up than say, Mexico." - Cpl. Josh Ray Person

Honorable Mentions:
Life - Please watch this show before they cancel it. Gingers everywhere will thank you.
Skins - BBC America calls it their version of Gossip Girl. It is, if GG were, like, a zillion times better.
True Blood - I never expected to enjoy a vampire show so much.
Lost - I'm all caught up now and I'm hooked. My mind has been sufficiently blown.

Let the debate begin...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Lots Better Than Your Neighbor's Tacky Decorations

Recently, my lovely friend Falwless posted a rant about Christmas lawn decorations. She ain't seen nothing yet*:

My neighbor's house. Unfortunately, I took this picture before the added the holy family on the front steps.

The neighbor's neighbor joined in on the fun. The neighbor mainly has a Disney theme, while the neighbor's neighbor (I'm pretty sure they are related) is more House at Pooh Corner. They refrained from lighting everything for a few days (the electricity bill must be a bitch), but I finally caught the lighted goodness Saturday night:

It's much brighter in person. As Liz asked last year (oh, yes. They had these same decorations last year. And from the state of most of them, they've had them since at least 1989), "Can they see your neighbor's house in space?!" Of course, she has this in her house so I don't think she can make fun of anyone:

Happy Holidays, people.

*horrible picture taking by yours truly. I'm already gunning for Blog with the Blurriest Photos at next year's Drysdale's.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Happy Birthday Garney!

Today is Garney’s birthday. He’s exactly 50 weeks older than me, which probably has something to do with us basically being the same person. I knew of Garney before I ever actually met him. A mutual friend would tell us about each other and how much we had in common. When I finally spent some time with Garney, I realized that friend was right. We spent hours playing movie trivia games (I was, at the time, the only person to ever beat him at the game we played. Irreconcilable Differences is his kryptonite), talking about movies (Garney has total recall of who won every major Academy Award…ever) and even seeing movies on occasion (he said to me recently, “Man... how did we go see both Romeo and Juliet and Titanic together and never hook up?” A mystery of the ages, for sure). Not much has changed in the 10+ years we’ve been friends. Now we just talk about movies over g-chat.

Since Garney is one of my favorite humans ever, won’t you please join me in wishing him a very happy birthday?

Friday, December 12, 2008

R.I.P. Bettie Page

Hey, Bettie Page died.

Since I wasn't a teenage boy in 1955, I don't really have anything to add to this, but it felt like it was a worth a mention.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What Pop Culture Lies Would You Tell for Love?

I just stumbled upon this article which claims 33% of women and 46% of men lie to their friends or potential lovers about their reading habits to appear more impressive and intelligent. I get that, as I am very wary of men who don't read (why, I've even mentioned it before), so men are always all, "OMG. I was reading Kurt Vonnegut the other day. That dude makes me LOL."* Now, this article makes me suspect these non-existent gentleman callers may be exaggerating a bit. How dare they! It also got me thinking about lies I've told for love and/or street cred. I can't think of anything I've specifically told someone I was into when I wasn't, but I can think of a few things I've neglected to tell people because I "fear" their judginess. I will now reveal one to you, friends, because what is my purpose here if not to have you mock me incessantly? Here goes:

I love the album Millennium by Backstreet Boys. Love it. I know every word to every song and I listen to it probably once a month and sing my damn head off. It is now, and will always be, one of my favorite albums to sing along to.

I won't get into why I own and know this album, but I do...and I'm okay with it...but I'd probably wait until married to spring this info on a potential suitor. Except, I've just told all of you. I guess that takes all the single men who read this out of my dating pool. (Nice one, Red. Like you need to make that pool smaller. You're such a dummy sometimes (confession #2: I talk to myself...often)).

Anyway, what lies (or lies of omission) would you tell for love or lust? Let's see you top my BSB confession. I'm pretty sure I am untoppable!

*totally a quote from my imaginary boyfriend.

This (mostly) Just In...

Golden Globe Nominations Announced - Garney did very will with his predictions (he's so amazing that way...especially considering most of the nominated films have not yet been released). I think it's finally Kate Winslet's year to win the big awards. About damn time.

Jay Leno Going Primetime - Rather than spare us all from his unfunniness when Conan takes over The Tonight Show next year, Jay will stick around for a nightly talk show at 10pm. The only question really is why? Oh, and who actually likes Jay Leno? My ex-boyfriend did, but he also broke up with me, so I think we can all agree he makes terrible life choices.

Newsweek Uses the Bible to Defend Gay Marriage - In an interesting article, Newsweek looks at those pesky parts of the Bible where Jesus says to "Love one another" and the ideas we have culturally rejected, such as polygamy and murdering adulteresses, to make a case for gay marriage. It's a great read, even if the argument is so obvious you just want to kick all the religious screamers for their hypocrisy.

Tomorrow is National Hug a Ginger Day - Or so says some girl on Facebook. I think you all know what to do.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Best Albums of 2008

In addition to all the reasons I listed last year, this list is inherently flawed because in the Lizabethan Calendar, 2008 was "The Year of the Sinus Infection." I had four, am currently fighting a fifth, and I’ve tripped the life pharmaceutical for much of the past 12 months as a result. This may have skewed my judgment.

With that in mind, here are The Top Ten Albums Liz Heard in 2008. As always, feel free to mock, judge, and tell us your own favs! (And yes, I acknowledge the irreconcilable whiteness of my picks).

10) The Hold Steady: Stay Positive - The best bar band since the E Street, the Hold Steady’s big, classic rock sound is still going strong on their fourth album. Despite the title, Stay Positive is a slightly darker record than the band’s previous efforts, showing the un-fun side of all those townie parties they love to sing about. While Stay Positive unfortunately peters out towards the end, if you’ve ever found yourself wishing they’d make a movie of On the Road with a soundtrack by AC/DC, this is totally your scene.

9) Jenny Lewis: Acid Tongue Rilo Kiley’s last album Under the Blacklight was under whelming, and I think it’s because the band’s main singer/songwriter Jenny Lewis is putting more effort into her solo work these days. While that makes me murmur disapprovingly like Marge Simpson, it hasn’t stopped me from enjoying Lewis’ second solo effort, Acid Tongue. There are a few missteps, but Acid Tongue is largely chock full of goodies that showcase Lewis’ crystal vase of a voice and her ever-increasing songwriting capabilities. Rockabilly rave-up “See Fernando” and roadhouse stomper “Jack Killed Mom” are worth the price of purchase/time of pirated download alone.

8) Ra Ra Riot: The Rhumb Line - Take one part new wave, one and a half parts Arcade Fire, half a part Belle and Sebastian, two parts mind-numbing cold of Syracuse, NY and voilá, you have this record of intimate anthems by an exciting new band. The song “Winter ’05” - which might be about their drummer who mysteriously drowned last year - is one of the prettiest/saddest songs on the year.

7) The Walkmen: You & Me -
This whole album sounds like it was recorded in a bomb shelter, which makes sense in a way, because so many of the songs start off kind of muddled and murky and then explode into a caterwaul of uplifting fuzz. People have been trying to get me into The Walkmen for years, this album finally did it.

6) Sigur Rós: med sud I eyrum vid spilum endalaust This Icelandic band writes what appear to be mini rock operas for woodland gnomes in a made-up language. And it’s awesome! I have no idea what they’re saying, but they speak to my soul. Definitely not for everyone, but I urge you to check them out and give them a chance.

5) Okkervil River: The Stand Ins - Okkervil River wins the award for “Most Self-Loathing Band,” and we’re all the better for it. On last year’s The Stage Names and this year’s The Stand Ins, the band chronicles the downsides of playing music and touring (isolation, disconnect, fraying relationships, etc.) but covers these themes in catchy, witty, folksy rock songs that have you gleefully humming along to someone else’s misery. And ain’t that what pop is all about?

4) She & Him: Vol. I Not only does she have gorgeous eyes, cool bangs and decent acting chops, it turns out Zooey Deschanel is also a good singer/songwriter. I officially hate her. But I sure do like this album she did with M. Ward. It’s a fleeting record with sparse arrangements rooted in country, folk and ‘60s girl group, but there’s something about it that’s more than the sum of its parts. Listening to it reminds me of taking a leisurely drive through the countryside on a sunny day in a convertible, which – it should be noted – I’ve never done. But this sounds like what that should feel like, you know?

3) The Helio Sequence: Keep your Eyes Ahead Back before they finally got kind of a big, I could never understand why Spoon wasn’t more popular. Not in that music snob, “Why do people only like simple, poppy junk?” kind of way, but specifically because Spoon was poppy and catchy. I have similar feelings about the Helio Sequence. There are so many bands out there borrowing from Pearl Jam, Death Cab for Cutie and Bob Dylan, but none seem to do it as well as this deceptively unassuming group. Keep your Eyes Ahead will not blow your mind, unless you thought riffs and chords could never be interesting again.

2) TV on the Radio: Dear Science - TVotR’s first album gave me a headache. I liked their second album, but not as much as most people did. With their third album, the band finally achieves its lifelong goal: impressing me. Dear Science is a poetic, hard-rocking dance record that is perfect for parties, driving, grocery shopping and sitting in your room being mad at the world. In other words, a classic.

1) Los Campesinos!: Hold on now, youngster… - Everyone has a musical wheelhouse; that sweet spot that just gets you every time. If you love smoky R&B, you probably can’t resist Mary J. Blige. If you love smack-induced, mid-century jazz, Miles Davis is your idea of an audio homerun. Personally, I’m a sucker for distorted power chords driving lyrics that sound inspired by a hyper-literate teenager’s journal. And so it follows that I love Los Campesinos! The Welsh band remarkably released two full-length albums in 2008, and both are quite good, but it’s the first that made it to the top of this shelf. Hold on Now, Youngster... begins at a break-neck pace and never lets up over 12 songs, pumping out melody after melody, and choice phrase after choice phrase (“You looked less like the Venus De Milo/And more like your mother in a straightjacket”). I’m sure there were more innovative, groundbreaking works of minstrelship released this year, but none I enjoyed listening to more.

Honorable Mentions:

Cut off Your Hands: You and I - A band from New Zealand makes the record The Smiths would have written had Prozac been available in Manchester circa 1982.

Death Cab for Cutie: Narrow Stairs - All those O.C. name checks may have killed their cred, but I think Death Cab is still one of the most consistent exporters of good music working today.

The Gaslight Anthem: Spirit of ’59 - Punk rock from New Jersey with a Springsteen bent (natch).

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Guessing Around the Globes

Ballots are due today from the Hollywood Foreign Press and the nominations for this year's Golden Globes will be announced the day after tomorrow. I decided to go ahead and make my first ever Golden Globe nomination predictions, and discussed my complete list last night on BlogTalkRadio during the Oscar, Oscar! Broadcast with host Jason O'Brien.

Here's what I'm expecting to be nominated in the six major categories (features and lead acting) along with an unlikely wild card that could be a surprise nominee. Every year there is at least one category that garners more than five nominations, and this year I'm betting it will be Lead Actor in a Drama. The three films I'm expecting to receive the most nominations are 8 for Revolutionary Road, 6 for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and 5 or 6 (as a wild card for Supporting Actress) for Slumdog Millionaire.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Revolutionary Road
wild card: Defiance

Burn After Reading
Mamma Mia!
Slumdog Millionaire
Tropic Thunder
wild card: W

Leonardo DiCaprio "Revolutionary Road"
Clint Eastwood "Gran Torino"
Frank Langella "Frost/Nixon"
Sean Penn "Milk"
Brad Pitt "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Mickey Rourke "The Wrestler"
wild card: Will Smith "Seven Pounds"

Anne Hathaway "Rachel Getting Married"
Angelina Jolie "Changeling"
Nicole Kidman "Australia"
Meryl Streep "Doubt"
Kate Winslet "Revolutionary Road"
wild card: Keira Knightley "The Duchess"

Josh Brolin "W"
Pierce Brosnan "Mamma Mia!"
George Clooney "Burn After Reading"
Robert Downey, Jr. "Tropic Thunder"
Dev Patel "Slumdog Millionaire"
wild card: Sam Rockwell "Choke"

Jennifer Aniston "Marley & Me"
Sally Hawkins "Happy-Go-Lucky"
Frances McDormand "Burn After Reading"
Sarah Jessica Parker "Sex and the City"
Meryl Streep "Mamma Mia!"
wild card: Beyonce Knowles "Cadillac Records"

You can see my complete list of predictions that include the other six categories (Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Director, Screenplay, Music Score and Song) posted on MyBlog at MySpace.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Add This to Your Queue: Taxi to the Dark Side

This will be short and sweet, as don't have time to write, yet feel compelled to move that embarrassing Facebook rant down the page.

Taxi to the Dark Side is a documentary about the treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay by US military personnel since the War on Terror began. It's incredibly disturbing and very well made (it won the Oscar for Best Documentary last year) and should pretty much be required viewing by all Americans. See it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Rant: Facebook

I hate social networking sites. Hate them! Yesterday, despite protestations from friends that went something like, "Oh God, Red. Just stop being so crazy and embrace reconnecting with people you don't care about," I deactivated my Facebook account. I don't really know why I hate it so much. Part of it is the snobbiness of being able to say, "I'm not on Facebook." Part of it is because it makes me Matthew Broderick in Cable Guy sad when I log in and have no messages ("Nobody loves you.") But really, my main problem with Facebook is the guilt I feel over not wanting to friend people who request an e-friendship with me. I really want, like, 50 contacts and that's it. At one point, I deleted all the extraneous people I knew I'd never contact only to have them ask to be my friend again! What the hell? Leave me alone, you crazies. I know my status updates are incredibly witty and hilarious, but you will have to try and live without your world revolving around whatever song lyric/30 Rock quote I have stuck in my head at the moment. Geez!

Anyway, this morning I reactivated my account because there are several people I do want to be in touch with (and Liz and I have an unspoken poke-fest I just can't walk away from). I decided I should gain control over Facebook and not let it control me. And really, I think I found a way to be invisible to anyone I don't want to be "friends" with...which is really the key to my Facebook happiness.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Questions Pondered While Watching the Last 20 Minutes of Christmas in Rockefeller Plaza

- When did Harry Connick Jr. get so skinny? Not that he was ever very big, but he was much hotter with good ol' NOLA meat on his bones.

- Is Hanson totally pissed that the Jonas Brothers stole their gig? And speaking of the Jonas Brothers, they sang some song about giving up all other gifts to get a hot chick for x-mas. It included the lyric, "You can take this awesome scarf my grandma made for me," which is now, officially, the greatest lyric in the history of time.

- Why in God's name did I ever think soy egg nog sounded like a good idea? All the Jameson in the universe can't save this crap. Guess I'll just have to drink the Jameson on it's own. Oh, the humanity!

- Do you think it's too late for me to grow up to become Beyonce?

- Why is Britney Spears so crap at speaking on camera when she's been doing it since she was, like, 5?

- How much better would this show be if produced by Jack Donaghy? There would definitely be way more fireworks and, as we all know, everything is better with more fireworks.

- Are we the only country in the world crazy enough to produce a hour long music extravaganza just to light a damn tree?

I think I'm too cynical for Christmas this year. Add that to the list of reasons I should become a Jew.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sometimes things are better explained through song

I know I keep saying I don't like to get political on this blog, and then I go and get all political, but this video is really pretty funny. And it features Neil Patrick Harris. Who doesn't love NPH these days?

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

(I didn't write that stuff about Jack Black. It came with the embed, I swear!)

Who would play you?

Yesterday I was looking at the page for the upcoming movie Frost/Nixon (I have my reasons) and while reading the cast list, I was astonished to see one of my professors from college is a character in the film! I knew he was a big wig at ABC news in the 1970s and '80s, but I didn't know he was "get portrayed by Oliver Platt in a major motion picture" big.

Naturally, this made me start thinking about myself. Specifically, the age old question: If they made a movie about your life, who would play you? I'd like to say Angelina Jolie or Catherine Zeta Jones, but if we're being honest here it'd probably be the chick with the unibrow from the Planters nuts commercials.

Who'd play you guys?

Nerd Alert! Vol. 3

Calling all BSG fans: The Battlestar Galactica prequel Caprica has finally received the greenlight from the Sci-Fi channel to debut in 2010. I think we can all agree, after viewing the trailer, it's gonna be awesome!

As Liz said, it's nice to see Eric Stoltz working again.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Help! I'm Falling for the Ironic Mustache!

Over the past week, I realized I really like guys who grow an ironic mustache. First, it was the hipster boys at karaoke, singing "I Want it That Way" and sporting skinny jeans. Then, my friend Eric sent me a picture of the mustache he grew after losing a bet and I thought he looked extra adorable. Am I crazy? Or is the mustache making a huge comeback in my heart? (I have no idea what that means.) Once again, I need to you to help show me the way.

Monday, December 1, 2008

This (mostly) Just In: Totally Personal Edition

I had a birthday and everyone noticed - So, I'm 30 now and recovered from my birthday hangover. Thanks to everyone who sent happy birthday wishes via email or text or Facebook. Special thanks to Pistols and MelO for designating a special place for me on their blogs. I started to feel guilty about being so obnoxious about my birthday, but I said, "Self, you only turn 30 once. Be as obnoxious as humanly possible!" I think we can all agree, mission accomplished. I now promise to never discuss my aging again. You are welcome.

I went to a strip club and it was kinda weird, but mostly not that weird - When my grandma asked what time we got home on Saturday night/Sunday morning, I told her, "3:30ish." "Don't bars close at 2?" she asked. "Yeah. We went to an after hours place." That place was Deja Vu. My takeaways from my first strip club experience:

1. The odds of being hit on or even noticed at a strip club are lower than at a gay bar.
2. The ladies room apparently also doubles as the stripper's dressing room/coke den.
3. Watching women dance naked while your 2 male friends honestly and evenly evaluate their looks, taste in music and effability tells you more about those friends than you could ever hope to know.
3. Ginger strippers love me...that's all I'll say about that.
4. The best hot dogs ever are consumed after 2am.

The only birthday picture I can post without incriminating myself or others

I failed as a sports blogger - A year and a half ago, Liz, Dave and I started a little sports blog called Pink Hat Nation. We tried to keep it going, really we did, but no one has posted anything since the Phillies won the World Series. This weekend we all agreed to put it out of its misery. Thanks to the 2 of you who read it regularly. It will always have a special place in our hearts.