February 5th, 2011

Yeah, so I haven’t used this thing in a looooooooooong time. Way back in April 24 was still a TV show and Renee Walker had just died. I’ve been busy, so I didn’t have time to spend on the usual expansive lists that I have every year. I still wanted to document something for posterity though, so here it is – my condensed list of everything I liked in 2010!

2010 was a terrible year in general for movies, and adding to that I’m pretty sure I missed some of the few good ones to come out. That said, here are the films I felt like writing about.

7. Scott Pilgrim vs The World
I found this movie to be simultaneously hilarious and a little annoying. Yeah, I “got” the humor, but this is the first time I felt like I was too old for what I was watching when it wasn’t a film specifically targeted to children.

6. Shutter Island
This seems to be a love-it-or-hate-it film, but I really appreciated the Hitchcockian feel for this movie.

5. Harry Brown
I become more and more an appreciator of Michael Caine the more of his movies I see. This is like Dirty Harry Goes To London with a heavy dose of Gran Torino.

4. The Town
Ben Affleck finally justifies his existence! (And yeah dude, we get it. You’re from Boston. Give it a rest). It’s a great heist movie but I honestly not sure if I would’ve seen it if Jon Hamm and Jeremy Renner weren’t in it as well.

3. The Social Network
Nobody knows exactly how true these events were, but if half of what’s in this movie is true, then Mark Zuckerberg might be the worst person in the world. Either way, it’s a captivating movie with an amazing soundtrack.

2. Inception
Man, it’s really tough to put this film at #2. Chris Nolan can do no wrong. BWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!! (That would be the trailer music).

1. Toy Story 3
TS3 and Inception battled it out in my mind all year for the “favorite movie” title and there really isn’t much separating the two. I’m not one to cry at movies (hey, I’m a dude!) but it was really a struggle to keep it together at the end of this one. Maybe the best trilogy of all time?


10. The Office
The massive let down of the wedding episode highlighted what a shell of itself this show had become. The characters (especially Jim & Pam) became obnoxious and caricatures of themselves while plot lines were raised and dropped randomly. However, the show is still good for some laughs. Five seasons worth of good will and the awesomeness of the baby episode gets it a mention here.

9. Archer
This show is 30 minutes of unceasing crudity…and I love it.

8. 30 Rock
I finally caught up of 30 Rock’s back catalogue to realize that season four was a bit of an off season for the show. Still great stuff though.

7. 24
Farewell, dear friend. It was time to say good bye to Jack Bauer as the tedium of the first half of this season was approaching the unwatchability of season 6. If it matched the intensity of second half rebound, I’d be tempted to say the show still had more in the tank. As it is, I’m just happy it went out with some dignity.

6. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
I had serious concerns about this show’s decline early in the season, but it recovered nicely with a great second half. The baby episode was an all-time great.

5. Community
Thank God this show emerged just as The Office began its tailspin last year. I love me some Alison Brie!

4. Sons Of Anarchy
After an epic season two, I thought the show floundered a bit until the MC takes a road trip to Ireland where the stakes are raised and the back story of the Teller family is fleshed out some more.

3. Boardwalk Empire
I know this is supposedly based on true events, but the happenings on this show are too outrageous for me to give it the unbridled praise everyone else gives it. I’m sure Martin Scorsese will still sleep soundly knowing I still enjoy it a lot.

2. Mad Men
This is probably my favorite season since the first. We really find out what these characters are made of when the chips are down. We saw Don seemingly hit rock bottom and how he “recovers.” (Or distracts himself enough so that real personal change isn’t a necessity).

1. The Walking Dead
I have serious concerns about the sustainability of this series long term based on the attrition of quality from episode 1 to 6, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the awesomeness that is “season” one for what it is. The pilot episode is one of the greatest hours of television ever produced as far as I’m concerned.


Also receiving votes (in no particular order):

Elvis Costello – National Ransom
Fake Problems – Real Ghosts Caught On Tape
Wild Orchid Children – …Are Alexander Supertramp
Free Energy – Stuck On Nothing
Butch Walker – I Like You Better When You Had No Heart
House of Heroes – Suburba
The National – High Violet
Motion City Soundtrack – My Dinosaur Life
Gaelic Storm – Cabbage
Spoon – Transference
Sufjan Stevens – The Age Of Adz
The Graduate – Only Every Time
Cary Brothers – Under Control
Johnny Cash – American VI
Dr. Dog – Shame, Shame

13. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Mojo
This is the soundtrack to my road trip through the American southwest that never happened.

12. Eminem – Recovery
Most certainly Em’s best material since “The Eminem Show.” I realize that is saying absolutely nothing.

11. Murder By Death – Good Morning, Magpie
After so much melancholy, apocalyptic material, this album’s relatively lighthearted, almost poppy, sound was a welcome surprise.

10. Against Me! – White Crosses
I can see a lot of long-time fans disliking White Crosses, but it’s maybe my favorite driving album of the year.

9. Steel Train – Steel Train
If this album came out 4 years ago, it might be an all time favorite of mine. It sounds like The Cranberries doing a cover album of Joan Jett songs. While there’s a lot to like here, the full effect is like eating a whole bag of M&M’s. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing.

8. Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More
After a year of making inside jokes about the name of this band, I finally checked it out and loved it. Indie meets folk/country.

7. Titus Andronicus – The Monitor
If Neutral Milk Hotel were a New Jersey punk band, “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea” would’ve been this album. The concept of comparing a relationship to the Civil War doesn’t come off nearly as pretentious as it sounds. The only thing that keeps this from being higher on the list is that the length and subject matter make it too overbearing to return to very often.

6. The Hold Steady – Heaven Is Whenever
They say the mark of a good pitcher is the ability to win when he doesn’t have his best stuff. My opinion of this album may have dropped as time went on, but mediocre Hold Steady is still pretty dang good.

5. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
This genre is not exactly what I would consider home turf for me, but this album’s epicness was obvious even to me. Evidenced by the title of the album (even every single thing the man does), Kanye is not one to know when to stop. That excess and unpredictability is what makes this album so great.

4. Los Campesinos! – Romance Is Boring
Probably the best band recommendation I received this year. RIB carries an amazing momentum in each song from beginning to end. Brilliant wordplay is matched by exhilarating instrumentals.

3. Jimmy Eat World – Invented
Invented doesn’t instantly click like previous albums, but once explored, it marks a return to the Clarity/Futures style and quality that is expected from this band after an enjoyable, but disappointing “Chase This Light.” (“Interesting” side note: I’ve gotten a new job within a month of each JEW release dating back to Bleed American. Weird, right?)

2. The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang
While the “freshness” of The `59 Sound is gone, this release is a worthy follow up to their breakthrough album. In some ways, it’s even superior.

1. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
I didn’t think that Neon Bible could be topped, but I think this may be my favorite release by these guys. While I don’t love every song like I have on their previous releases, the sum of the parts resonates on a level like nothing they’ve done before.



April 13th, 2010

RIP Renee Walker
Day 7 – Day 8

I gotta be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about this one. On the one hand I feel like 24 is capable of anything once again after coasting for the last couple of seasons (come on, Larry doesn’t count as a shocking death). I’m definitely engaged again. However, I feel a lot like I did after they “killed” Tony – like maybe they’ve pushed it a little too far. They’ve killed off the two most interesting characters this season in back-to-back episodes. On the other hand, I like the idea of Jack flying off the handle and finally shedding the political correctness that’s plagued the show since season 6 and I LOVE the idea of Chloe now being in the position of trying to stop Jack from doing something harmful to the investigation. I’m definitely getting the this-is-the-last-season-so-anything-can-happen vibe now (although this pretty much means they wouldn’t dare kill Kim, right?)

One last request: now that Logan’s back, can he stay for the rest of the season and maybe have CTU recruit Aaron Pierce and Mike Novick to try and stop whatever he’s scheming? Some redemption for Tony would be nice too. Also resurrect Michelle and Palmer, please. That is all.




January 24th, 2010

2009 was an embarassment of musical riches. After a lackluster year last year, this is the best 365 days of musical releases for me since at least 2003 (maybe ever). I expanded the list to my top 20 meanwhile a third of my “most anticipated” albums weren’t even released and I still have a few albums I didn’t even get around to. Translated: I did the best I could but it was nearly impossible to include all the noteworthy music, let alone rank things appropriately. The “also receiving votes” section has more quality to it than ever, but just because I got tired of writing don’t ignore those entries. With that in mind, here are my subjective highlights of the year in music:

Old School:

Van MorrisonAstral Weeks
Bruce SpringsteenBorn To Run
The WhoWho’s Next
Joe Strummer and the MescalerosGlobal A-Go-Go
The ClashAnything and Everything


New Found Glory – Not Without A Fight
This album isn’t as bad as the other albums in this section, but if I wanted to listen to something that sounds like this, I’d pull out one of their superior albums from ten years ago. I may be in the minority here, but I thought this was a step back after displaying some growth in Coming Home.

Eminem – Relapse
There were a couple stand out tracks, but this was mostly trash (and not the good kind like his earlier stuff).

Two Tongues – Two Tongues
How can two of the genre’s top song writers produce such an unmemorable collection of songs? Say Anything was clearly saving it’s best material for their self titled release. Hopefully Saves The Day does the same with their upcoming album.

RX Bandits – Mandela
The talent in this band is undeniable, but I had always listened to them because of the horn element, which unfortunately was completely taken out in this latest album. The keyword in this categorization is clearly “disappointing” instead of “bad.”

Also Receiving Votes:
They do not get a thumbnail but they can try again next year.

Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Fightstar – Be Human
Ace Enders and a Million Different People – When I Hit The Ground
Umphreys McGee – Mantis
Mutemath – Armistice
Franz Ferdinand – Tonight
Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
MeWithoutYou – It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All A Dream It’s Alright
Harlem Shakes – Technicolor Health
Mew – No More Stories / Are Told Today / I’m Sorry / They Washed Away / No More Stories / The World Is Grey / I’m Tired / Let’s Wash Away
Dashboard Confessional – Alter The Ending


THE MIGHTY MIGHTY BOSSTONES - PIN POINTS AND GIN JOINTS20. The Mighty Mighty BosstonesPin Points and Gin Joints
“I was in a barroom that was somewhere on the southern shore of Boston/The tender of the bar poured me a whiskey on the house/I had a love for whiskey, I chased it with a beer/I have a love for Boston and I loved writing it there.”

Out of all the reunion albums I was expecting this year, this was the one that actually happened (not sure what Blink 182 and Eve 6 are out there doing right now). Considering how many ska bands regularly get played on my iPod, it’s surprising that for the most part I’m pretty cool towards most of the Bosstones’ discography. The exception is 2002’s A Jackknife To A Swan which I really dig. Considering they have been on hiatus since that album, my anticipation for PP&GJ ended up not matching up with the final result. There are some quality jams to be found here (thus a presence on this list), but overall I was disappointed, particularly with some lazy songwriting.

Best Tracks:

I Wrote It
The Bricklayer’s Story
A Pretty Sad Excuse

ALL TIME LOW - NOTHING PERSONAL19. All Time LowNothing Personal
“Maybe it’s not my weekend/But it’s gonna be my year/And I’m so sick of watching while the minutes pass as I go nowhere/And this is my reaction/To everything I fear/Cause I’ve been going crazy/I don’t want to waste another minute here.”

I just can’t help myself. I like crappy music sometimes and this is an example of that vice. All Time Low popped onto my radar because they were a local band to me when I was living in Maryland. Now they seem positioned to be this generation’s Blink-182 (when I say “this generation” I mean the horrible, thieving, whoring, Twilight-loving, Hot Topic generation who are too young to know who Monica Lewinski or Lou Bega are). The lyrics are stupid and poppy and this album will probably rot your brain, but it really is great driving music. At its best it sounds like New Found Glory in their heyday. “Keep The Change You Filthy Animal” seriously could have been written by NFG in 2002.

Best Tracks:

Break Your Little Heart
A Party Song (The Walk Of Shame)

ARCTIC MONKEYS - HUMBUG18. Arctic MonkeysHumbug
“The next time that I caught my own reflection it was on its way to meet you/Thinking of excuses to postpone/You never looked like yourself from the side/But your profile could not hide/The fact you knew I was approaching your throne/With folded arms you occupied/The bench like toothache/Stood and puffed your chest out like you’d never lost a war/Although I tried so not to suffer the indignity of a reaction/There was no cracks to grasp or gaps to claw”

Let me start out by saying that if this were the Arctic Monkeys’ first album I would not have listened to any of their other ones. I definitely had to let it grow on me. Every song still sounds like it belongs in a James Bond movie, but now they belong in the boring parts. Maybe the parts in M’s office. There are still a few standout tracks that will grab you on the first spin, but enjoyment of this album comes just relaxing and going along with the looser feel. While I like this album, it’s not really what I’m looking for from this band. I’d gladly trade in some maturity and band growth in favor of some of the infectiousness of their first two albums.

Best Tracks:

Crying Lightning
Pretty Visitors
The Jeweler’s Hands

FAKE PROBLEMS - IT'S GREAT TO BE ALIVE17. Fake ProblemsIt’s Great To Be Alive
Indie Rock/Punk
“You said I do not love him anymore/And as the words left your mouth/I should have went for the door/But I forgot how skilled an actress you are /So I stuck around like a fool asking for more.”

Fake Problems’ sophomore album It’s Great To Be Alive is my first exposure to the band and it definitely made an impression. The album tackles issues ranging from relationships to religion to loneliness. The band seems to come from a punk background, but has expanded on that base to include a wide array of instruments that will always keep you on your toes. At times this band even sounds like something that would be concocted by the Muppets (and I mean that in the best possible way).

Best Tracks:

You’re A Serpent, You’re A She-Snake
Level With The Devil
Heart BPM

THE DANGEROUS SUMMER - REACH FOR THE SUN16. The Dangerous SummerReach For The Sun
“So tell me what you think of the atmosphere/And all those months inside my head/Well do you really believe in me?/I will hold this like a gun/Because I’ve got some things to do.”

This is that album that I kept forgetting about but when I would listen to it I’d still be surprised by how good it is. Instrumentally, there isn’t anything groundbreaking going on here, but it is catchy enough. What sets this album apart is the deceptively dark lyrics that if you’re not paying attention would not seem to go with the style of music being played. I’d also recommend this Ellicott City, Maryland band to anyone who is missing The Starting Line (at least their later work), because the similarity of styles, particularly the vocals, is striking.

Best Tracks:

Settle Down
This Is War

CHUCK RAGAN - GOLD COUNTRY15. Chuck RaganGold Country
“A wise old friend recently told me/An idle mind is the devils playpen/Mind the gaps and watch them closely/Spread the love but choose your friends wisely/Love yourself to love your family/And find the difference between wants and needs/Be sure to stop and count your blessings/Smell the roses and fight for something.”

Chuck Ragan was a part of the inexplicable folk phase I went through for a couple months this year. I got hooked on his first solo album Feast Or Famine and anticipated this album for much of 2009. There’s something about this style of music that takes me to a peaceful place. This was my soundtrack to several summer sunsets on my deck this year with a beer in hand. I’m not sure why this style of music has never clicked with me until now, but I know I’ve never needed a peace of mind more than I have this year so maybe it all makes sense.

Best Tracks:

For Goodness Sake
Done And Done
10 West
Ole Diesel

“I thought you sang so tastefully/But now I see I was wrong/Your serenade turns to filth/when I leave so, please, cut the love song.”

First of all, thank God somebody got a haircut, so I don’t have to vomit every time I think about this band. I guess it’s better to vomit because of hair than because of your music though (I’m looking at you, BrokeNCYDE). Thankfully, this is not AFI’s problem. I really only started listening after Decemberunderground so my frame of reference is ridiculously small but Crash Love is my favorite release by this band. Gone are the synthy grooves of Decemberunderground replaced with a more poppy sound while still remaining true to the band’s goth-punk roots.

Best Tracks:

Okay, I Feel Better Now
Darling, I Want To Destroy You
Cold Hands

BIG D AND THE KIDS TABLE - FLUENT IN STROLL13. Big D And The Kids TableFluent In Stroll
“8-6-5/Baby study the rhyme/Dancing in the street all loopy and blind/2-3-9/My little partner in crime/Didn’t study for the test and it’s past bedtime/8-6-5/Baby study the rhyme/Feeling like we’re moving through water tonight/2-3-9/It’s a victimless crime/Just digging on the feeling of feeling sublime”

This album really came out of nowhere to become a staple of my summer soundtrack. I’ve never been a fan of this band. Like, at all. So I’m not sure why I even gave it a chance, but I’m glad I did. They call their new style “stroll,” which is described on Wikipedia as “a mix of double-dutch, ska, reggae, and soul.” Double-dutch? I’m pretty sure that’s as made up as “stroll,” but the final result is a breezy, relaxed album that I will probably breaking out for many summers to come.

Best Tracks:

Doped Up Dollies On A One Way Ticket To Blood
Describing The Sky
A Kiss A Week
Fluent In Stroll

CARTEL - CYCLES12. CartelCycles
“Let me reintroduce myself/As a man with a cause/I’ve had a lot of time to think/And look at who we are/And I’ve got nothing left to say/But we’ve got to carry on/And I’ve got so much left to do/But I’ll start with this song.”

Following Cartel’s pop-punk classic Chroma, there were a lot of high hopes for their follow up self titled album. I, and many others apparently, were left a little disappointed. Only this year did I finally decide that I was perhaps too harsh on the self-titled, but Cycles really represents more what I’m looking for out of this band: upbeat pop-punk tunes. While Cycles doesn’t reach the heights of Chroma, it is more a step in that direction. In fact, if I have a criticism of this album it’s that it’s a bit too homogenous and could maybe use a couple more change of pace songs. Regardless, this album is exactly what you’d expect with catchy summertime driving tunes and terrific vocals.

Best Tracks:

The Perfect Mistake
Only You
It Still Remains

ELVIS COSTELLO - SECRET, PROFANE AND SUGAR CANE11. Elvis CostelloSecret, Profane, and Sugarcane
“If you were my life’s companion/As it seems you may turn out to be/I’m contemplating/How I hope I’ll find you waiting/At the very end of this crooked line.”

As prolific as Costello is (he’s released 11 albums in the past 8 years), I try to always to at least check out every release. Last year’s back-to-basics album Momofuku was certainly a highlight of recent years but in years past this bluegrassy offering would have been pretty quickly discarded by yours truly. Oddly, I was actually in the midst of a folk/Americana kick inspired primarily by Chuck Ragan, so this was released with impeccable timing.

Best Tracks:

Complicated Shadows
Hidden Shame
The Crooked Line
Changing Partners

GREEN DAY - 21ST CENTURY BREAKDOWN10. Green Day21st Century Breakdown
“Mayday this is not a test!/As the neighborhood burns/American is falling/Vigilantes warning you/Calling Christian and Gloria!”

Note to Green Day: you are not The Who, no matter how much you’d like to be. The first couple of times I listened to this album I hated it. Part of that was probably based on my thoughts on the first single, “Know Your Enemy,” which could be summed up with, “It took you five years to write…this?” That song fits a lot better within the context of the album, but still I don’t find much that really sticks out in the first half of this record. Luckily it’s so freaking long, that there’s still plenty of material that packs a punch in the second half. The bottom line is that I can appreciate wanting to give your fans as many new songs as possible after producing nothing for five years, but someone really needed to tell Green Day to take a hatchet to maybe a quarter of these songs. It would have made the final product a much more enjoyable listen for me.

Best Tracks:

Restless Heart Syndrome
21 Guns
American Eulogy

THE DECEMBERISTS - THE HAZARDS OF LOVE9. The DecemberistsThe Hazards of Love
“And here I am, softer than a shower/And here I am, to garland you with flowers/To lay you down in a clover bed/The stars a roof above our heads/And we’ll lie until the Corn Crake crows/Bereft of the weight of our summer clothes/And I’d wager all/The hazards of love.”

This band is so weird, but so good. After the critically acclaimed The Crane Wife, The Decemberists got even more ambitious and wrote a musical. As best I can tell the story is as follows: a girl falls in love with a boy who occasionally shape shifts into a fawn. They do it on a clover bed and the girl gets knocked up. The dude’s mom is some sort of forest queen witch who forbids him from being with the girl. Meanwhile a Rake who has murdered his wife and children has kidnapped the girl. SPOILER ALERT: I’m pretty sure everyone dies. I knew a guy who did that in high school once. You want something a little more mainstream, perhaps you should be looking elsewhere.

Best Tracks:

The Hazards of Love 2 (Wager All)
The Wanting Comes In Waves/Repaid
The Rake’s Song
The Hazards of Love 4 (The Drowned)

MANCHESTER ORCHESTRA - MEAN EVERYTHING TO NOTHING8. Manchester OrchestraMean Everything To Nothing
“You mean everything to nothing/You mean everything to nobody/But me.”

The theme of this album can pretty much be summed up by the second line of the first song: “I am the only son of a pastor I know who does the things I do.” The lead singer’s religious hang-ups hang heavy from beginning to end and it’s a bit ambiguous where he’s ended up with the bulk of the album seeming to deal with the fallout of a newfound disbelief, but ending with the line, “Oh my God, let me see again.” As someone who grew up in a very Christian household but ended up not as well behaved as my parents would like, I always find albums like this interesting. I only wish the music itself were more consistent. This album contains some of my favorite songs of 2009, but also some tracks that I can hardly ever get through without skipping. This would probably be an album of the year contender if it was able to maintain the highs that it often achieves.

Best Tracks:

Shake It Out
Everything To Nothing
The River

SAY ANYTHING - SAY ANYTHING7. Say AnythingSay Anything
“Your life is always the post of something else/Where is the present in the way that you present yourself?/And it’s disgusting how little that you try/The existential equivalent of pink eye/Drink alone and watch TV/You’re expecting harmonies/To tap your tunes with silver spoons/Anthem of impending doom/Guiding Satan’s steady hand/Forcing Beatles to disband/It’s ego freaks and drama queens/The young at heart know what I mean.”

Max Bemis, the Jewish, foul mouthed, pill-popping man ho, has apparently married and converted to Christianity and now he writes songs about Jesus and, oddly, the Lehigh Valley. Not that any of those developments are bad, but a fan of Say Anything would have a right to be skeptical of the band’s future output given their past material. I’m happy to report that this self-titled release is the best material they’ve done this side of the classic …Is A Real Boy. I’m apparently the only person left who still enjoys In Defense Of The Genre, but I will admit that double album was just flat out too long. I have a hard time imagining a fan of IARB who did not enjoy IDOTG not being won over yet again by this album. SA is quick and to the point, but still maintains the lyrical wit that you would expect from Say Anything. You would think that a spiritually content Max Bemis, who is apparently finally in a stable relationship, would not be as interesting. As he says in “Mara and Me,” “I can’t keep writing the same damn song over and over again,” and this new mature and content tone wrapped up in the poppiest melodies they’ve ever written is surprisingly satisfying given that background.

Best Tracks:

Hate Everyone
Do Better
Mara and Me

MORRISSEY - YEARS OF REFUSAL6. MorrisseyYears of Refusal
“It’s not your birthday anymore/There’s no need to be kind to you/And the will to make you smile and belong has now gone/It’s not your birthday anymore/Did you really think we meant all of those syrupy, sentimental things that we said yesterday.”

Years of Refusal was the first album this year that really made an impression on me, which I was not expecting given my history with Morrissey (my history with Morrissey being listening to “Every Day Is Like Sunday” maybe twice a year). The difference this time around is that he has traded in a little bit of his old man emo for some old fashioned rock and roll. The dude is still mopey and battling hang ups that he should have shed decades ago, but this time around the music behind it is equally interesting. I’m not nearly well versed enough in Morrissey’s discography to know if there’s an equivalent album out there, but this is the first material I’ve ever heard from him where he sounds like he’s almost having fun while doing his sad clown routine.

Best Tracks:

Mama Lay Softly In The Riverbed
When I Last Spoke To Carol
It’s Not Your Birthday Anymore
I’m OK By Myself

THE AVETT BROTHERS - I AND LOVE AND YOU5. The Avett BrothersI And Love And You
“There’s a darkness upon me that’s flooded in light/In the fine print they tell me what’s wrong and what’s right/And it comes in black and it comes in white/And I’m frightened by those that don’t see it”

I’m taking a huge risk ranking this album where I am and I have a feeling that I may be splitting the difference one way or another. At the time of writing I simply have not had enough time with it to make a final judgment so I could see it being in my top 3 albums for 2009 or I could see it being lower than this. As you can see from the preceding albums on this list, my tastes shifted slightly towards a more rustic sound this year (while never quite going all-out country). I feel like all those albums may have just paved the way for me to fall in love with I And Love And You. My instincts are telling me that this will be a “gateway drug” if you will into folk music just as Dog Problems was for me into indie music. Whether that pans out or not is yet to be decided, but what is certain is that The Avett Brothers have written an album full of touching lyrics set to melodies that are simplistic, yet beautiful almost in a spiritual way. While I don’t want to get tired of this album any time soon, I’m anxious to dig into their back catalogue whenever that eventually happens (or perhaps even before).

Best Tracks:

I And Love And You
Head Full Of Doubt/Road Full Of Promise
The Perfect Space
Ill With Want
Incomplete And Insecure

JOHN MAYER - BATTLE STUDIES4. John MayerBattle Studies
“I was a killer/Was the best they’d ever seen/I’d steal your heart before you ever heard a thing/I’m an assassin and I had a job to do/Little did I know that girl was an assassin too.”

Continuum was the album that took John Mayer from someone I never listen to to someone that I listen to when I’m in a certain mood. Battle Studies may very well be the album that turns him into an anytime, anywhere entry in my playlist. The bluesy elements of Continuum are gone in favor of a more straight up acoustic sound, although there is also some experimentation with his traditional sound. What is most striking to me about this album is how relatable all these relationship-based songs are while being written by a dude whose actual love life can’t possibly be relatable to more than .3% of the general population. I’m certainly not included in that .3%, yet I can’t seem to get enough of this album.

Best Tracks:

Heartbreak Warfare
Perfectly Lonely
Friends, Lovers, Or Nothing

BRAND NEW - DAISY3. Brand NewDaisy
“Little light/Lead us through the night/And if we die burn down the forest/Chariots/Carry us distances we don’t care to walk/I’m on my way out.”

It took me three albums but I finally cracked Brand New’s code. I knew before listening to Daisy that a) I wouldn’t like it right off the bat and b) what I was expecting is not what I would be getting. Even expecting the unexpected it’s hard not to be taken aback by the sheer brutality of the opening track “Vices.” The second track settles back down into familiar BN acoustic territory, but the edge of that opening track rears its head fairly regularly. I usually don’t care for the whole screamo thing but it didn’t take many spins before realizing that the screamy songs were my favorites.

This is also the first album where Jesse Lacey hands the reins over for the bulk of the album lyrically and unfortunately it shows. While there were a few cringe worthy moments in The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me, they seem more prevalent this time around (“I’d serve you drugs on a silver plate?” “Run a million miles if you want first prize?”), and the nonsensical filler track, “Be Gone” is even more obnoxious than “Untitled” in TDAGARIM. With the disclaimer that this soon after its release my attitude was the same towards The Devil and God (which I now consider a much-loved classic), Daisy appears destined to merely be an album I like a lot instead of an album I love. Ask me again in a year though.

Best Tracks:

At The Bottom

MUSE - THE RESISTANCE2. MuseThe Resistance
“They will not force us/They will stop degrading us/They will not control us/We will be victorious.”

OK, so I’m waaaaay late to the Muse bandwagon, but I’m glad I’m hopping on when I am. My first exposure was to the single “Uprising” and it dawned on me that I was listening to a non-country band that actually seemed on the same bandwidth as me politically. Whether that was their actual intent or not, it’s certainly easy to interpret this album as a collection of libertarian “fight the power” anthems. Yes, this fit my mood every well this year. It’s almost as if they sat down and tried to write 1984: The Album and it is every bit as epic as the novel.

In a year where every day’s news headlines seemed to bring a new outrage it felt good to drive home from work in the evening cranking up this album and feel a little more empowered to fight back. I don’t know how this album will age on me years from now, but I do know that I will have a hard time listening to it in the future and not have it instantly take me back to 2009.

Best Tracks:

Unnatural Selection
MK Ultra
Exogenesis Symphony: Part 1 (Overture)

FUN. - AIM & IGNITE1. fun.Aim & Ignite
“We were the get rich quick kids/We never got it right/So we settled for the center of town/Where all the rich white kids is out looking for a fight/Got the blonde one staring me down/And I really want to take a swing/I can’t help but remember James Dean/See we are part of the few who agree/That hey he lived life fast but he died/Me, I’m gonna live forever.”

This was probably my most anticipated release since The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, and even in a musically dense year with many great releases, this is easily my favorite album of 2009. The Format’s Dog Problems was an immensely influential album for me, so after that band’s demise I couldn’t help but accept with some trepidation the announcement of lead singer Nate Ruess’s new band. That trepidation disappeared completely upon hearing the demo for “Benson Hedges,” and while listening to the complete album I realized that Mr. Ruess has reached rarified air (matched only by Jim Adkins in the Clarity through Futures era), where every song he writes seems to hit me in just the right spot.

From the chaotic and ironically titled opener “Be Calm” to the 7 minute-plus closer “Take Your Time (Coming Home)” you’re never sure what twists and turns the album will take instrumentally, yet it is simultaneously accessible and poppy. In a better world the ELO-esque single “All The Pretty Girls” would dominate the summertime radio waves. All songs are bolstered by Ruess’s confessional lyrical style with the best example probably being his moving tribute to his parents, “The Gambler.”

I could go on, but let me close by saying that the older I get and the more music I’ve listened to, the harder it is for an album to really affect me the way music did regularly when I was younger. Aim & Ignite is like a more mature, contented, and orchestral version of Dog Problems. Years from now I will be cherishing Aim & Ignite alongside Dog Problems as essential albums of my life.

Best Tracks:

Be Calm
Benson Hedges
All The Pretty Girls
Walking The Dog
The Gambler



January 17th, 2010

1. Green Man! (February 11 – Disney World)

2. Give me a Gob (February 13 – Disney World)

3. Yuengling Bock (May 9 – Yuengling Factory)

4. The Only Team We Can Still Beat (May 23 – Nationals Park)

5. Today we celebrate our Independence Day (July 4 – Washington DC)

6. FeFe hits people (July 8 – Coca Cola Field)

7. Beer me one beer please (July 17 – Hofbrauhaus in Pittsburgh)

8. Checking out what a government funded name sponsorship can buy you (August 15 – CitiField)

9. The New Evil (September 7 – New Yankee Stadium)

10. Greatest pub ever! (September 7 – McSorley’s)

11. What to do at the US Open if tennis bores you (September 7 – US Open)

12. The Lord blesses these proceedings (September 19 – PSU vs Temple)

13. Old Maining (September 25 – State College)

14. What time is it?! (October 24 – PSU vs Michigan)

15. Drinking + Ice Skating = Not so bad (December 29 – Rockefeller Center)



January 10th, 2010

Wow, it’s really getting hard to write new stuff for this one every year since it’s basically the same list rearranged. Of course, it’s a real possibility that five of these programs won’t be on the air next year so I guess I need to find some new shows to like:

SCRUBS7. Scrubs
“For the record, he was the best that ever came through this dump. John Dorian was the first and only doctor I ever met who cared as much as I do. And you can forget about him being a just and exceptional physician, because the fact of the matter is, he’s a damn exceptional person. It’s why people gravitated to him. It’s why I did.”

Die, Scrubs, DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIE! As far as I’m concerned Scrubs did die after season 8…finally. And thankfully, it died with dignity…before it was resurrected for a ninth season which I am ignoring. I am ignoring it because this show, which was so great in its earlier seasons, and was running on fumes in its later seasons, beat the odds and returned to respectability for what was supposed to be one last run. The final minutes of the series finale though were perfect and worthy of some of the best material that preceded it.

Best Episode: 8.19 – My Finale: Part 2

PRISON BREAK6. Prison Break
“Men in my employ anticipate, they cover their bases. They refuse to fail, which you seem to be doing with unyielding consistency.”

I didn’t watch a single episode of this show live on the air and that’s probably for the best because this show works best when it’s moving too fast for you to notice how implausible everything is. I always viewed this as 24-light and while not up to the quality of the Jack Bauer Power Hour, this show was just flat out entertaining. The constant set backs our protagonists faced occasionally frustrated me, but I guess that means I cared about the characters. I always recognized this show’s ability to create some highly hateable bad guys, but I didn’t realize how much I cared about the good guys until the finale of the show, which was surprisingly touching.

Best Episode: 4.22 – Killing Your Number

THE OFFICE5. The Office
“Well, well, well. How the turntables.”

I’m not sure there’s anyone who would consider season four of The Office a highlight of the series, but like many TV shows it seemed like it got messed up because of the writer’s strike. Some of the momentum of the first couple of seasons was regained in season five, but the “magic” truly was gone the second Jim and Pam got together. They tried to get us to care about Dwight/Andy and Angela or Michael and Holly, but those relationships will never be as successful as the original, which I think is the real lacking factor here because the show is still pretty funny taking into account how long it’s been on the air. The Michael Scott Paper Company story line was a good one, so I was surprised they axed it as quickly as they did. Pam’s character also got shaken up and taken in a direction I’m not sure I like. I still watch the show regularly, but it is no longer a guaranteed good time like it was in it’s heyday.

Best Episode: 5.23 – Broke

244. 24
“So help me God I will kill you, and you will stay dead this time!”

After a, ahem, lackluster season six and an entire year off due to the writer’s strike 24 finally came back with some vengeance, but I think at this point that the show will never really be “back.” Saying season 7 was better than season 6 is akin to saying Mike Doyle was a better character than Erin Driscoll’s crazy daughter. It’s faint praise. That’s not to say that this season was not full of great moments. Tony’s return as a good guy turned bad guy turned good guy turned bad guy again was welcomed as was the change of settings to DC. The take over of the White House (which apparently was built on top of the Potomac) was exciting, although probably the most implausible thing they’ve ever done, and new characters Renee Walker and President Taylor were great additions. The promos seem to be implying that season 8 will be 24’s swan song. I’m on board with this idea and I’m hoping it reaches the heights of it’s glory days, but if it merely is up to the standards of season 7, I will not be disappointed.

Best Episode: 7.3 – 10 AM - 11 AM

LOST3. Lost
Don’t worry, dude. Everything will be fine when Jack changes the future. Or the past. One of those.

Year-to-year this is always the hardest show for me to write about. After almost giving up on Lost during season three, the past two seasons have been ridiculously entertaining, but after being off the air for six months I’m always thinking, “What the hell happened this year?” Of course, I’m often thinking that right as an episode is ending too. From what I remembered, Jack and the rest of the people who got off the island successfully go back while all the folks who remained on the island are jumping around time like a skipping record. In the end a bomb goes off and presumably the plan being hatched is successful because failure means every single one of our main characters was incinerated with one full season left to go. Next season sees the conclusion of the Lost saga and we’ll finally see if all this nonsense was worth the time invested.

Best Episode: 5.17 – The Incident

IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA2. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
“Tabitha: So, he does have a drinking problem?
Charlie: Oh, big time, big time. But if I’m being honest, my problem’s less with the fact that he’s drinking more that he’s doing it without me. And then I start thinking, “What’s wrong with me? Am I not fun to drink with?”
Dennis: Oh, no, don’t do that to yourself. No, you’re plenty of fun to drink with, trust me, Charlie. You get really, really drunk, and then you get reckless, and it’s a lot of fun.”

Even the best of comedies are well into their decline by their fifth season (see: The Office), but It’s Always Sunny seems to keep getting better somehow when you would think they would start running out of ridiculous scenarios for The Gang. (In fairness to The Office, they have like 30 episodes per season while IASIP only has 12). This year The Gang “exploits the mortgage crisis,” performs an intervention on Frank, goes on a road trip to the Grand Canyon (but ends up never leaving Philly), celebrated the 2008 World Series victory in a basement, enacted the D.E.N.N.I.S. system for taking advantage of women, and of course tried to deal with their cousin “Gail the Snail” played by none other than Chloe O’Brien.

Favorite Episode: 5.4 – The Gang Gives Frank An Intervention

FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS1. Flight of the Conchords
“You guys are dorking up my vibe with all the dicks. You need to spread the dicks out a little, create some lady space.”

After being hastled for probably more than a year to watch this show, I finally gave in to find out that I deserved all that hastling. As is tradition, I just got hooked on the show right as it was ending it’s run on HBO (after only two 10 episode seasons). The greatness of FOTC slaps you in the face during season one and this second season has many great moments, but it was starting to wane towards the end so it may have not been a terrible thing that creators Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie decided to call it quits even though I was a little disappointed where the characters ended up. I’ll always have the DVDs and albums I guess.

Favorite Episode: 2.5 – Unnatural Love



January 3rd, 2010

Taking into consideration that I have yet to see Sherlock Holmes and Avatar, I submit to you my 2009 movie roundup.


It started out with a pretty interesting concept, but quickly descended into … another Nicolas Cage movie.

Where The Wild Things Are
I know I’m in the minority here, but I really wanted to punch the kid the entire film and I got tired really quick of the endlessly whining monsters. I really wanted to like it too.

Also Receiving Votes:

I really need to see this again. There was a lot to absorb in only one viewing.

District 9
A very entertaining, but very flawed movie that had the guts to be different and I can respect that.

Terminator Salvation
This franchise is still barely treading water. I really wish this movie had a plot to go along with the excellent action and effects though.

It’s like a watered down (and shortened) remake of 24: Season One!


201211. 2012
“When they tell you not to panic… that’s when you run!”
Ever since Independence Day (which was my favorite movie in high school up until The Matrix came out), I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for disaster movies. Yes, this would probably have the title of dumbest movie of the year easily wrapped up were it not for Transformers 2 and yes, it is maybe the most excessive movie ever made, but that is why I enjoyed it. I can still appreciate well digitized eye candy and that’s all this movie is trying to be. Sure, maybe this film could have been more if they had decided to develop even one of the characters instead of introducing us quickly to about 75 new characters throughout the film, each with a relative or friend to say goodbye to tearfully and then never see again, but this film isn’t aiming for the Oscars. You should know going into this exactly what you’re getting and if you’re going to complain about “story” and “character development” you really have no one to blame but yourself.

DRAG ME TO HELL10. Drag Me To Hell
“You’d be surprised what you’ll do, when the Lamia comes for you.”
This was a great rebound by Sam Raimi after the cluster eff that was Spider-man 3 (seriously, I hate that movie more every time I see it. I should stop watching it). This is no Evil Dead, but it has the same spirit despite its PG-13 rating. It’s not exactly going for a horror-comedy thing like Shaun of the Dead but it’s nice to see a horror movie that doesn’t take itself completely seriously and doesn’t rely completely on over-the-top gore. It occasionally veered a little bit too much towards ridiculousness (Hello talking goat!), but this was probably the most intense horror movie from beginning to end that I saw this year.

INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS9. Inglourious Basterds
“We got a German here who wants to die for his country! Oblige him!”
Speaking of rebounds, Quentin Tarantino needed one badly after the meh-fest of Grindhouse and that is exactly what he achieved. I could be mistaken, but this might be his first film that occurs entirely in chronological order. It’s a little distracting seeing the Fire Guy and Neal Schweiber in this movie, and unfortunately neither of them have a large enough role to really break out from being anything beyond the other roles we know them in. This is my main complaint about this film actually: where were the titular basterds throughout this movie? The story is compelling, but the best characters were absent from the screen most of the time and even if I was mostly wrapped up in what was going on, a part of me was also just hanging in there until Brad Pitt showed up again.

FANTASTIC MR FOX8. Fantastic Mr. Fox
“If what I think is happening is happening – it better not be.”
Just when you thought claymation was dead comes the greatest entry to the genre since Rudolph!...except maybe The Nightmare Before Christmas and James And The Giant Peach. George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray and others voice characters in this film about a fox who quits his bird stealing job when he starts a family, but wants to launch one more “Master Plan” when he becomes restless in his day-to-day life. It’s probably too early to judge something like this, but this movie probably has the potential to become a classic. Having not seen all of his movies, I would say this is my favorite Wes Anderson movie since The Royal Tenenbaums.

ZOMBIELAND7. Zombieland
“You see? You just can’t trust anyone. The first girl I let into my life and she tries to eat me.”
If you’re going to rip off another movie, it might as well be one of the best movies of the decade. Perhaps zombie movies just lend themselves to mixing horror and comedy better than other sub-genres of horror, but I have to assume that Shaun of the Dead played a major factor in this film’s existence. Replacing Shaun trying to win back his ex-girlfriend is adolescent Columbus trying to woo his first girlfriend. Replacing the crazy and irresponsible sidekick Ed is the crazy and irresponsible sidekick Tallahassee (played by Woody Harrelson). The two movies are, of course, not entirely the same but since SOTD is one of my favorite movies ever, this has to be a distant second favorite zombie romcom. I will say that the scene where they break into a certain celebrity’s house is probably the hardest I’ve laughed at any movie in 2009.

STAR TREK6. Star Trek
“Your father was captain of a starship for twelve minutes. He saved 800 lives, including your mothers and yours. I dare you to do better.”
Let me preface anything I’m going to write on this topic by saying that prior to this movie’s release I kind of prided myself on knowing very little about Star Trek. I have my areas of geekdom where I thrive but this was not one of them and when they announced they were rebooting the franchise I kind of groaned because I was completely cool with Star Trek being dormant. Then came the reviews calling it a “Star Trek movie for people who hate Star Trek,” and of course this Onion story. I figured it was a risk worth taking and it was. It felt good to watch a fun summertime movie without feeling like it was rotting my brain.

TRICK R TREAT5. Trick R Treat
“Wait, there’s another tradition. Always check your candy.”
Every year in October I have a Horrorthon of movies that I watch. It’s not something that I do for any other holiday except the usual Christmas staples. I love Halloween movies, but it’s not so much because I love “scary” movies but because I love the fall ambiance. It’s why Sleepy Hollow is a Halloween staple for me every year and The Exorcist isn’t. Trick R Treat isn’t the scariest movie out there (although it has its share of intense scenes), but it completely nails the fall/Halloween feeling that I love. It seems designed to be a love letter to the holiday with its four interweaving storylines and I would be surprised if it doesn’t end up being a Halloween classic for me.

UP4. Up
“Thanks for the adventure. Now go have a new one.”
After creating a new classic year after year I should not be surprised at how good a Pixar movie is, but I always am. This one is probably my favorite since The Incredibles. While most Pixar movies reach your inner child, this one reaches your inner old man. The opening following the entire life of Carl Frederickson and his wife Ellie (complete with a “not able to have children” scene and ending in Ellie’s death) is a little shocking in how dark it is. It grounds the movie early in that dark reality and it makes some of what comes later more out of place than they would in the usual Pixar film. While the talking dogs were a little odd, by the end of the film I was thinking that this is exactly what movies should be about. It takes you to a different place with a completely original idea. Unfortunately, that is a rare thing from Hollywood these days.

500 DAYS OF SUMMER3. (500) Days Of Summer
“This is a story of boy meets girl, but you should know upfront, this is not a love story.”
When I like a romantic comedy, you know it has to be exceptionally good. I don’t necessarily hate the concept (pretty much every movie has a romantic element to it, right?), it’s the formula that I find infuriating: boy and girl fall in love; boy does something a-holish (in the worst examples the dickish move is completely justified); boy grovels on his hands and knees and tells the girl what a worthless piece of trash he is and she mercifully accepts him back. The quote above kind of says it all about this movie and that’s why I loved it. Not to necessarily say this movie is of the quality of Swingers (another favorite of mine), but it follows that pattern of the ending not being what you expected, or what you were even rooting for for the entire film, but you’re still completely satisfied by it. The soundtrack is superlative as well. It even manages to rip off the worst thing in Spider-man 3 and make it awesome. In all honesty, if you asked me to rewrite this list a year from now, I could see this being at the top of the list, but I just saw it last week. It’s the kind of quality you’d expect from the chick in Elf and the kid in Angels in the Outfield.

HANGOVER2. The Hangover
“You guys might not know this, but I consider myself a bit of a loner. I tend to think of myself as a one-man wolf pack.”
This is the only movie I saw twice in the theaters this year. Easily the best comedy since Superbad for me. Umm, yeah that basically sums things up doesn’t it? This movie was so random that it’s difficult for me to latch on to one specific thing that I liked about it, but I guess that’s what makes it so great. Anyone who’s had a wild night out can relate to the next morning conversation of, “I did WHAT? I don’t remember that happening at all!” This film (obviously) takes that to an absurd degree, and even though the unpredictability of the movie is a major strength it still held up on the second viewing, which will probably be the second of many.

THE HURT LOCKER1. The Hurt Locker
“Colonel Reed: What’s the best way to go about disarming one of these things?
Staff Sergeant William James: The way you don’t die, sir.”

War movies that actually portray the troops as the heroes that they are in real life are so rare these days that I can’t think of a single example since Black Hawk Down. That standard may be a bit high so in general I’ll settle for one that doesn’t portray them as scoundrels and/or psychopaths. The Hurt Locker portrays soldiers in Iraq in 2004 that are certainly flawed (i.e. human beings) fighting heroically which is a miracle in and of itself, but even better it is an endlessly intense action flick that instantly puts you in the shoes of a Baghdad bomb squad at the height of the Iraq War. If there were any justice in the world, Jeremy Renner (who played a somewhat similar role in 28 Weeks Later) would have become a star from this role. For now though I’m grateful to have a great, non-political war movie to enjoy for the next decade until the next one comes out.



December 31st, 2009

Huzzah! And I’m still doing that thing that I always do whether anyone is here or not. Here’s the schedule:

Favorite Movies: January 3
Favorite TV: January 10
Favorite Pictures: January 17
Favorite Music: January 24

As you were…


24: DAY 7 - EPISODE 7.13

March 9th, 2009

RIP Bill Buchanan
Day 4 – Day 7

  • I may write a little more later, but for right now, let’s pay our respects to Bill “Double-B” Buchanan. I think we all saw the writing on the wall after last week’s episode, and he went out in a heroic way that he deserved, but it does little to sooth the agony of losing the man who was, by far, the longest serving head of CTU ever. Let’s hope his dying wish was that his wife Karen never set foot on the set of 24 ever again.


24: SEASON 7 - EPISODES 7.1 - 7.12

March 5th, 2009

Life is more demanding than it used to be and thus one of the little things I had to cut out of my life because of a time shortage (ie “RUNNING OUT OF TIME!”) is my 24 random thoughts. However, I’d still like to throw in some quickies on this season thus far and especially for this weeks double episode:

  • First of all, I guess we should all give a belated, but hearty, welcome back to 24! After two years on hiatus due to a writer’s strike and possibly a collective writer’s stroke during season six, it’s nice to have Jack Bauer back firing on all cylinders even if the events are even more far fetched than before.
  • When I say, “far fetched” I really mean it. The events of this past week are by far the most ridiculous things to have ever happened on this show, and that’s saying a lot.
  • Most vexing development of the new season: we have two characters with legitimate claims to the title “Big Red.” All was fine and well until our boy Aaron Pierce showed up for no legitimate reason (which is reason enough for me by the way). For the purposes of seniority, Aaron will remain Big Red. Let’s hope he’s alive long enough to maintain the title through next week.
  • With Aaron back in Washington, is it safe to assume he’s no longer eating kiwis with Martha Logan? Incidentally, Aaron is the only character other than Jack to be in all seven seasons, so here’s hoping he survives the White House siege.
  • One of my favorite parts of the early season was Jack’s interrogation scene in the Senate. How many times have you wanted someone to respond the way Jack did to these pompous windbags?
  • Tony’s resurrection? I’m sorry, I don’t buy the story. Of course, Tony’s been very shady this whole season so maybe there’s more to what’s going on, but I’m guessing this is the best explanation we’re going to get. Robocop intentionally missed his heart and Emerson just happened to pick him up from CTU, huh? I don’t buy it, but I’m willing to go along with it. For the record, I’m going to say that Tony’s still a bad guy trying to infiltrate rogue-CTU on behalf of Emerson.
  • I like how Bill just took being held up by Jack at gunpoint in stride. Almost like he figured it had to happen at some point, right? Also, you would think if anyone would know to “not fight it,” it would be Bill at this point.
  • Favorite New Character: Agent Freckles Walker, Michelle Replacement (although no one really can)
  • Overall they’ve done an amazing job making it seem like everything is being filmed in DC, but seriously, how many meetings are we going to have on the steps of the Capitol Building?
  • How do you manage to lose both your gun AND your cell phone making a simple jump onto a boat? I was half expecting a shark to quick rip off her pants. Then I realized I wasn’t that lucky. Walker is truly the Lois Lane of this season.
  • Also, Walker was freaking Aquaman the way she swam across the Potomac in about 30 seconds.
  • Sometimes it bothers me that Janeanne Garofalo is on 24, but then I imagine her having to read a script for a show she’s on that includes Jack tasering Red Foreman’s boy toy in the nipples and it all seems worth it.
  • Why does the White House have a holding cell?
  • I don’t know if 24 has been consulting with Vince Flynn again, but a terrorist takeover of the White House was the basis for his book Transfer of Power. It’s been a while since I’ve read it so I don’t really remember how the terrorists got in, but I’m almost positive it wasn’t a freaking sea-based invasion. I remember when I was reading it thinking it would be great for 24. As much as I like President Taylor, how much cooler would this scenario be if they did this while Palmer was still president (the real one, not Wayne).
  • I like how General Juma’s attack plans included an actual picture of the White House. Apparently he just scanned a 20 dollar bill.
  • Soooooooo, think the 24 writers might have been watching The Rock recently? I know LA is far away, but they couldn’t pull up a map of DC to see that the White House is a mile away from even the Tidal Basin? That was one nice thing about the LA location. I have no idea where one landmark is in relation to another out there. Unfortunately, I’m pretty familiar with Washington and these details bug me.
  • That was a pretty solid drill Juma had. Over the time of the commercial break and the previouslies they went from just starting the hole to making it wide enough to fit 3 men.
  • Some people say the character of President Palmer on 24 is a mirror image of our current Dear Leader. I say they are absolutely correct.
  • I loved how Jack and Bill had the whole debate on Bill torturing the Senator’s chief of staff while there’s a guard standing right next to them. That leads me to…
  • Huge pet peeve this season: NO ONE LISTENS TO WHAT’S GOING ON AROUND THEM THIS SEASON People are getting shot left and right in the White House. No one responds. Smarmy guy and mistress openly talk about reformatting the FBI’s servers (don’t get me started) while walking down the hall and no one overhears them.
  • Anyone up for a game of darts with Jon Voigt? Yeah, he’s a biter, but I hear he’s ordering Chinese!
  • Good thing Juma decided to collect captives starting with Bill right after killing scores of anonymous WH staffers.
  • Now we know that when this season was written in the days of yore before the writer’s strike, Hillary was anticipated to be the next president and apparently they assumed John Edwards was the next Vice-President Evil.
  • What’s the only thing cooler than Jack using a tazer on a terrorist in the White House? Jack tazering a phone. . .with the President on the line!
  • I was pretty convinced that either Double-B or Pierce were going to die this week. Needless to say I was relieved, but I have a feeling that will be short lived.
  • Line of the Week: “You sir are weak! You are unwilling and unable to look evil in the eye and deal with it!” The whole torture debate as a whole has been handled much better this year than in season six.
  • My overall opinion on the first half of this season is that it’s a solid rebound and certainly worthy of inclusion in the 24 canon after the lackluster mishmash of season six. However, I can’t help but feel that some of the magic is gone. This whole affair has a very season four feel to me, however, so maybe what is missing is the familiarity. Of course that all lead to the greatness of season five, so maybe what we’re dealing with is a “rebuilding” season if you will.



March 4th, 2009

I think nearly everyone on the right is becoming increasingly concerned with the way Obama and the Democrats are seeking to radically alter the face of this country into their own image. I know I for one got a chill down my spine when I saw this. (And for the record, no, we’re not!). To date, I have not read an article that has gotten to the heart of what’s at stake better than Michael Ledeen, inspired by Tocqueville:

Most of us imagine the transformation of a free society to a tyrannical state in Hollywood terms, as a melodramatic act of violence like a military coup or an armed insurrection. Tocqueville knows better. He foresees a slow death of freedom. The power of the centralized government will gradually expand, meddling in every area of our lives until, like a lobster in a slowly heated pot, we are cooked without ever realizing what has happened. The ultimate horror of Tocqueville’s vision is that we will welcome it, and even convince ourselves that we control it.

There is no single dramatic event in Tocqueville’s scenario, no storming of the Bastille, no assault on the Winter Palace, no March on Rome, no Kristallnacht. We are to be immobilized, Gulliver-like, by myriad rules and regulations, annoying little restrictions that become more and more binding until they eventually paralyze us.

Subjection in minor affairs breaks out every day and is felt by the whole community indiscriminately. It does not drive men to resistance, but it crosses them at every turn, till they are led to surrender the exercise of their own will. Thus their spirit is gradually broken and their character enervated…

The whole article is a must-read, and I felt like I should share. Fascism should not be defined as Hitlerism, but as the merger of the state with corporations, with the church, and with every minute aspect of our lives. I fear this is the destination we will arrive at very soon, but I am becoming increasingly fearful that we will lack the character to return to our founding principles when the pendulum inevitably swings back. I guess I have to put Democracy in America in my book queue now.




February 8th, 2009

Maybe I should start doing this one at the beginning since there are always some releases that come out in between me writing it and actually posting it. Anyway, 2009 looks very not great for movies, while promising to be maybe the greatest year in music of all time. The list of names is staggering and even if half of these scheduled albums are duds, it will still be a pretty good year (not even including the no names that I haven’t even heard of yet).


1. Fun – Untitled
It’s the second coming! The Format is no more, but the former band members can still make music. If the single “Benson Hedges” is any indication then this has the potential to live up to Dog Problems. Or that may turn out to be the most absurd notion since, “Wings is going to be better than The Beatles!”

2. Jimmy Eat World – Untitled
The drama here isn’t so much will it be good (it will be), it’s will these guys ever hit a target release date? They’re saying summer 2009, so I’m guessing fall 2010.

3. Brand New – Untitled
I’m still waiting for the lyric booklet from The Devil And God that I paid one American dollar for. That was a lot of money back then.

4. Blink-182 – Untitled
Yeah. You read that right and I’m not crazy (speaking of second comings). No way that after 5 years of musical maturation under my belt this ends up disappointing me, right?!

5. Say Anything – Say Anything
I hate when bands have self-titled albums that aren’t their first release, but I’ll graciously make an exception here.

6. Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown
Will this top American Idiot? No. Will it really be released this year? Maybe. They can’t distract us with this Foxboro Hot Tubs nonsense forever.

7. Kay Kay And His Weathered Underground – Introducing Kay Kay And His Weathered Underground
Their self-titled is so great. Can’t wait to see what these stinky hippies do next. Dance for me stinky hippie, DANCE!

8. Arctic Monkeys – Untitled
More awesome beats and indecipherable lyrics! Count me in.

9. Morrissey – Years of Refusal
I plan on purchasing this when it is released, but let’s just say that if it were to have leaked or if I were to have accidentally heard it before now, I would probably think it was phenomenal.

10. New Found Glory – Not Without A Fight
Has NFG ever slipped up? Not really. This will be good, not great. You heard it here first.

11. Eminem – Relapse
One of these things is not like the others. One of these things just doesn’t belong. Can you tell which thing is not like the others by the time I finish my song?

12. Eve 6 – Untitled
I can’t prove that this is actually happening, but they’re reformed and touring so a guy can hope, right?

13. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Untitled
This one I can prove! They’re back and recording, baby! 2009 seems to be the year of the reformed bands.

14. Cartel – Untitled
Cartel, there was a time when I called you friend. Stand with me now and make something that doesn’t bore the crap out of me.

15. My Chemical Romance – Untitled
I really liked The Black Parade. Maybe I’ll like this one too!

16. Saves The Day – Daybreak
I’m never sure what to expect with these guys other than vocals like raking a chalkboard, yet I can’t help but anticipate this.

17. Mark Hoppus – Untitled Solo Album
+44 was mediocre, but Angels & Airwaves is terrible. Mark + Tom > Mark or Tom. (Edit: I’m not even sure this is happening any more. I’ll live either way).

18. John Mayer – Untitled
John Mayer has bedded half of the women you’ve ever seen at the magazine rack in your grocery store. The other half is Oprah. He also makes good music.

19. MxPx – On The Cover 2 and Untitled Studio Album
Eh, why not? Should be good for 2 weeks of entertainment come summer.

20. Reel Big Fish – Fame, Fortune and Fornacation
I’d be more excited about this covers album if it wasn’t 65% Poison songs.

21. Two Tongues – Two Tongues
Don’t look now, but I’m pretty sure Chris Conley and Max Bemis are dating.

22. Motion City Soundtrack – Untitled
Still waiting for this guy to cut his hair and lose his powers.

23. AFI – Untitled
Don’t click here. It will ruin it for you.

24. Dropkick Murphys – Untitled Live Album
I don’t usually go for live albums, but I’m curious if the mics pick up the many bloody deaths that take place in the pit of every DKM show.

25. Taking Back Sunday – New Again
Carpathia sounds not so great, but when do the labels ever pick the right first single for punk bands?

26. Thursday – Common Existence
I would have liked A City By The Light Divided a lot more if it didn’t sound like they recorded it at a friend’s apartment party . . . and the microphones were with the neighbors.

27. All Time Low – Untitled
It seems I will never tire of generic pop-punk.

Behold the mediocrity! (With a few notable exceptions)

Arrested Development
Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Inglorious Bastards
Terminator Salvation
Friday The 13th
Toy Story 3D
Futurama: Into The Wild Green Yonder



February 1st, 2009

I have to say that I found this year to be a bit lackluster in its musical offerings. It may have just been a lack of effort on my part. I promise to do better next year. I can, however, guarantee that my list is better than Rolling Stone’s even though we share a few picks. Why? The Jonas Brothers and The Academy Is… are on the RS list. That actually has me rethinking the entries on my list that are also on theirs (although the TAI… album was actually OK). Whatever…

Old School:
Here are some older releases that received plenty of play by me this year:

The ClashLondon Calling
Joe Strummer and the MescalerosStreetcore
Miles DavisBitches Brew
Elvis CostelloTrust
The Beatles – Magical Mystery Tour

Also receiving votes:
No pictures for these guys!:

Jimmy Eat WorldBleed American [Deluxe Edition]
Yeah, this is a cheat, but this is a rare re-release that is worth the cash featuring 18 b-sides (including Last Christmas, Firestarter, and (Splash) Turn Twist) and a new version of “Your House.”

The Foxboro Hot TubsStop Drop And Roll
Just make a new Green Day album already!(!!) This actually made for a pretty good retro-punk diversion in the summer, but I want the real thing.

StyrofoamA Thousand Words
Euro-electro-pop never sounded better. Bright Red Helmet almost sounds like it could fit on Clarity, and one track even features Mr. Jim Adkins, eater of worlds.

Alkaline TrioAgony & Irony
Woo, summer album.

MillencolinMachine 15
Pop-punk has come a long ways since the `90’s (sort of). Millencolin hasn’t, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Panic At The DiscoPretty. Odd.
Don’t judge me! I’d rather these guys be emulating The Beatles than Fall Out Boy, but a song on this album has just as much a chance as being painfully boring as it does being a valid channeling of the `60’s. There’s some impressive instrumentation here, assuming the band actually played everything themselves (doubtful).

Jason MrazWe Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things
Yeah, I listen to Jason Mraz sometimes. So what?

WeezerRed Album
I really like half this album and really hate the other half. “Everybody Get Dangerous” is handcuffed-to-Fran-Drescher painful.


MURDER BY DEATH15. Murder By DeathRed Of Tooth And Claw
Americana Indie Rock
“By the light of the moon, I’m coming home/Howling all the way, I’m coming home.”

I’m not even sure how to label this band’s style (I stole the genre listing from their Myspace page). Imagine Johnny Cash singing songs about slaughtering people in the old wild west in a rock band playing the soundtrack to The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. That’s about as close as I can get. ROTAC is one of those albums where I love it sometimes and then other times I just can’t seem to get into it. That’s the only reason why it isn’t higher on this list because the quality of the music itself is pretty high. Dare I say this is my favorite cello-punk band?

Best Tracks:

Comin’ Home
Spring Break 1899

BRITISH SEA POWER14. British Sea PowerDo You Like Rock Music?
“Beer is not dark/Beer is not light/It just tastes good/Especially tonight.”

Terrible album cover. Worse band name. Even worse album name. The music? Pretty good! While the similarities to U2 are pretty unmistakable (I’ll let you decide if that’s a good thing or not. Remember, Bono isn’t involved here at all!), the music seems considerably more chaotic (in a good way). The downside to that is that when the band doesn’t seem on the cusp of complete musical anarchy, all else seems to blend together (in a bad way). This band is clearly better when it’s just going nuts.

Best Songs:

Lights Out For Darker Skies
Waving Flags

JACK'S MANNEQUIN13. Jack’s MannequinThe Glass Passenger
“And even if your voice comes back again/Maybe there’ll be no one listening/And even if you find the strength to stand/It doesn’t mean you won’t go missing.”

This is maybe the best “disappointing” album of the year for me. It’s not even disappointing; it just fails to live up to the classic album that precedes it on JM’s discography. This was one of my most anticipated albums of the year and it certainly has a fair share of high points, mostly dealing with frontman Andrew McMahon’s battle with leukemia. The tone is understandably a bit more downtrodden than Everything In Transit, which is basically the perfect summer album. However it’s impossible to miss the optimism that is still strung into every song even when dealing with heavy issues.

Best Songs:

Hammers and Strings (A Lullabye)

BEN FOLDS12. Ben FoldsWay To Normal
Piano Pop
“If there’s a God, He is laughing at us and our football teams.”

Until now, most of my exposure to Ben Folds was his song featured on the Godzilla soundtrack from back in the day. I’m not sure if that statement speaks more ill of my music tastes in 1998 or now. I’ve listened to him here and there, but this is the first album of his that I’ve actually given a good amount of listening to. It’s eclectic, fast paced, odd, and frankly, all over the place, but it’s because of that weirdness that I really dig it.

Best Songs:

Hiroshima (B B B Benny Hit His Head)
Bitch Went Nuts

BRAVE SAINT SATURN11. Brave Saint SaturnAnti-Meridian
“And these frail hands/They tremble as they pen for us their last/And these weak words/Can never say what cannot be surpassed.”

So apparently this album isn’t never happening after all. I don’t think I’m overstating it when I declare this album the Chinese Democracy of Christian astro-rock. It’s been five years since BSS’s last release and I had long since moved on from hoping that they’d complete their space trilogy, so when I learned that this album was in the works I greeted it with a big fat, “Meh.” While it was great to hear the voice of Five Iron Frenzy again, my first listen could pretty much be summed up with the same word. Then one-by-one songs started to grab me until I one day realized that I liked this album quite a bit. There are plenty of throwaway tracks here for me and I’d still take new FIF over this any day, but this was a pleasant surprise for me.

Best Songs:

Hero’s Homecoming
These Frail Hands

COLDPLAY10. ColdplayViva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends
“I hear Jerusalem bells-a-ringing/Roman calvary choirs are singing/Be my mirror, my sword and shield/My missionaries in a foreign field/For some reason I can’t explain/I know St. Peter won’t call my name/Never an honest word/And that was when I ruled the world.”

I’m not nearly familiar enough with Coldplay’s previous discography to really compare this with their previous works, but I do know that this is their first release that really grabbed me. I think the fact that I heard “Viva La Vida” about 6,000 times over store intercoms in June alone backs me up on that one. VLVODAAHF (as I assume it’s known to their fans), reminds me a lot of my favorite album last year, Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible, in both tone and theme. The instrumentation is just as lush, however it does lack the epic qualities that I felt with Neon Bible. As I said, I never really listened to Coldplay much, but this album made me a fan.

Best Songs:

Lovers In Japan/Reign Of Love
Viva La Vida

GAELIC STORM9. Gaelic StormWhat’s The Rumpus?
“The closest I’ve come to ending up dead/Was the night that I punched Russell Crowe, the Gladiator, in the head.”

This band has somehow flown under my radar until this year. Unlike Dropkick or Flogging Molly, this is just a flat out Celtic band with no hints whatsoever of a punk influence (even though they actually hail from Los Angeles). The band that made its public debut as the steerage band in Titanic mainly plays upbeat, humorous songs, but it isn’t afraid of to occasionally tell a serious story and even has a healthy dosage of instrumental tracks.

Best Song:

What’s The Rumpus?
Slim Jim And The Seven Eleven Girl
Floating The Flambeau
The Night I Punched Russell Crowe

FLOGGING MOLLY8. Flogging MollyFloat
Irish Punk
“Drink away the rest of the day/Wonder what my liver’d say/Drink/That’s all you can.”

Every year there seems to be one album where I look at where I placed it, can’t believe it’s so low, and double check to make sure I didn’t screw up only to find out that I can’t justify knocking down any of the albums above it. This is that album for 2008. It wasn’t always that way as I was initially a little disappointed with Float coming on the heels of the much punkier Within A Mile Of Home. After adjusting to the folkier Float I’ve realized that not only is it better than Within A Mile Of Home, it may very well be my favorite Flogging Molly album to date.

Best Songs:

The Lightning Storm
Punch Drunk Grinning Soul

FALL OUT BOY7. Fall Out BoyFolie à Deux
“And does your husband know the way that the sunshine gleams from your wedding band?/I will never end up like him/Behind my back I already am/Keep a calendar this way you will always know/The last time you came through.”

After Infinite On High, I figured that I was all but done listening to this band on a regular basis. There were a few standout tracks, but the majority of the songs were quite disposable. When “I Don’t Care” was released as the single for this album, I thought I might be done altogether. Then I listened to it again. And again. And, damn it, this is just the best band ever at making songs that I like even though I know I shouldn’t. Listening to the first half of FAD for the first time, I thought this might actually be the best album they’ve made to date. Unfortunately, there’s a bit of a drop off in the second half, but this is still a step back in the right direction for them. There are also some bizarre forays into politics from time-to-time. Now, I don’t mind some liberal lyrics (I’d be a country fan if I did), but there are some bands that should seriously just shut up and play. FOB belongs in the latter category. If you wear guyliner, I really don’t care about your opinion on the geopolitical challenges of the day.

Best Songs:

Disloyal Order of the Water Buffaloes
I Don’t Care
Headfirst Slide Into Cooperstown On A Bad Bet
What A Catch, Donnie

BRIAN WILSON6. Brian WilsonThat Lucky Old Sun
“Up in the morning/Out on the job/I work so hard for my pay/But that lucky old sun has nothing to do but roll around heaven all day.”

This year seems to be a year for the old folks to rediscover their groove. I’m not a huge Beach Boys fan per se, but Pet Sounds is inarguably one of the greatest albums ever recorded. That Lucky Old Sun is not a towering achievement comparable to Pet Sounds, but it is impressive and that’s even before you consider that Wilson is 66 years old with a fried brain from his `60’s drug usage. TLOS is a wistful look back at Wilson’s youth in California with mentions here and there of the mental breakdown that postponed the release of Smile for almost four decades. It doesn’t seem like there’s a linear story being told here, but almost all the songs run into each other, sometimes connected by a spoken word narrative. If there’s a criticism to be found here, it is that the songs at times seem a bit too trite and sappy, but that’s kind of the point of a 60-year-old singing about his 20s in southern California, right? That said, even in his 60s Brian Wilson’s pop sensibilities remain unsurpassed.

Best Songs:

Good Kind Of Love
Forever My Surfer Girl
Going Home
Southern California

KAY KAY AND HIS WEATHERED UNDERGROUND5. Kay Kay And His Weathered UndergroundKay Kay And His Weathered Underground
“I got a tendency to go and run my mouth/Cause I can depend on no one else/I’ve got my living costs and a bumper sticker that reads ‘All who wander are not lost.’”

Honestly, if this were an objective list rather than having my own personal biases factored in, this would be at the top of the list. Kay Kay is the only thing that remains of the once powerful Gatsbys American Dream empire. You can certainly hear the Gatsbys influences, but this band is primarily psychedelic with only a dab of the GAD craziness. I’d say it’s like The Beatles on acid, but The Beatles were on acid. This is Kay Kay’s debut studio album, but the band initially released a live recording last year, which comprises the bulk of the first half of this self-titled album. Perhaps for the reason of lesser familiarity, I feel the second half is inferior to the first half. However, whatever negatives can be found in this album are more than made up by the incredible instrumentals and melodies to be found here. Definitely one of the year’s best, and the band’s forthcoming release should be right back up there next year from what I’ve heard of it so far.

Best Songs:

Hey Momma
Birds (On A Day Like Today)
Simon Courage Flees The Coop
All Alone

”Cause I know I’ve wasted way too many times/Living way too many lies/How can this be my fault?/I’m always right/There’s a devil in my DNA/Programmed parts from all the starts/Or is there no one else to blame for my tangled up gears and turnstile jobs?/Fact is I’m just a living sum of all my parts.”

Wow. This is a band that responds well to criticism. I’m an LTJ fanboy, so I’ll listen to anything they put out (except maybe Greased), but I have to admit that I’m glad so many people hated In With The Out Crowd, because the result is the band starting their own label and producing their best album in a long time. This was my official summer driving album and after almost a decade where each successive album seemed a little poppier and a little less horny, it’s great to hear 14 new horn-driven punk songs. I don’t think too many people would list this as their favorite LTJ album, but it is the first time since 2003 that Less Than Jake has sounded like Less Than Jake and that’s enough for me.

Best Songs:

Does The Lion City Still Roar?
Golden Age Of My Negative Ways
This One’s Going To Leave A Bruise
Devil In My DNA

THE HOLD STEADY3. The Hold SteadyStay Positive
Bar Rock/Indie
”Raise a toast to St. Joe Strummer/I think he might have been our only decent teacher/Getting older makes it harder to remember we are our only saviors/We’re gonna build something this summer.”

This band is also the maker of one of the best albums of 2006, Boys And Girls In America; I just didn’t know that at the time. The Hold Steady is way more Springsteen-ian than I am typically used to, so it took me a little while to get into them, but once I did I fell in love with both BAGIA and this year’s Stay Positive. SP features more instrumental experimentation than their previous efforts, but the band still stays true to its rock roots and lyrical storytelling. If you can get past the vocals, this album is full of great “sing-a-long songs.”

Best Songs:

Constructive Summer
Sequestered In Memphis
Stay Positive

ELVIS COSTELLO AND THE IMPOSTERS2. Elvis Costello And The ImpostersMomofuku
New Wave
”The night is black as cracked shellac that landed in an attack/Stella is silent as the grave until a needle drags her through the static/Don’t bring me down/I’m trouble bound/Blue song red alert/Who made Stella hurt?”

I’ve long been a fan of Costello’s early work, but this one came out of nowhere to totally rock me in a way I was not anticipating. It’s hard not to admire EC’s eclectic discography as he’s dabbled in almost every major genre (gangsta rap has remained curiously untouched), but for years I’ve wondered why he can’t be bothered to occasionally throw in an album that sounds like he did in the `70’s. This is that album at long last. I’m betting this is the first time I’ve said this about any artist and probably the last: this is his best album in 25+ years since 1982’s Imperial Bedroom. Since IB came out 3 weeks before I was born I’ve basically been waiting for this my whole life. Released “only on vinyl” (for two weeks), this was clearly meant to be a throwback and it succeeds entirely. The keyboard is back, the punchy lyrics are back, and most importantly the fun is back. There are solid reflective tracks here too, but the upbeat songs are clearly the highlight. American Gangster Time, which is basically an anti-American screed, is infectious enough to make even me want to sing along. I’ll probably enjoy whatever direction Costello chooses to go next as well (perhaps polka-country?), but I do hope he starts releasing these old-school rock albums with increased frequency.

Best Songs:

American Gangster Time
Harry Worth
Stella Hurt
Pardon Me Madam, My Name Is Eve

THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM1. The Gaslight AnthemThe `59 Sound
“Did you hear the `59 Sound coming through your grandfather’s radio?/Did you hear the rattling chains through the hospital walls?/Did you hear the old gospel choir when they came to carry you over?/Did you hear your favorite song for one last time?”

I’ve got to admit that I only started to listen to this group because I thought their band name was cool. Needless to say, I think their music lives up to their name. The `59 Sound is a significant departure from TGA’s solid debut album, Sink Or Swim. Replacing the gruff punk rock of the latter is nostalgic, country-inspired lyrics fused with echoey 80’s-like vocals (think The Killers – but not painful to listen to), and pop-punk melodies. While it would be a stretch to call this album patriotic outright, it’s refreshing to hear music in this genre that is so inspired by Americana. Unlike my favorite album last year, The `59 Sound probably won’t be winning any Grammys, winning over the pretentious among us, or even topping other similar lists, but to me this album still feels as fresh and invigorating now as it did the first time I listened to it many months and spins ago. In a year of much musical parity with no clear personal favorite, that’s enough for me to give it the top slot.

Best Songs:

The `59 Sound
High Lonesome
Miles Davis & The Cool
The Patient Ferris Wheel
The Backseat



January 25th, 2009

Peter Robinson shared this graph via The Corner, and more people really need to be aware of this occurrence (which is why I’m sharing it with the two, maybe three people that still read this site):

Monetary Base

This is how much the money supply has been increased in the past year according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. I have to say that this is probably the first time I’ve seen a graph that has actually scared me. I’m not an economist, but I don’t think you have to be one to see that we’re in for some tough times ahead. Mega-inflation anyone?

I’m not a conspiracy theorist (yet), but this is the most compelling argument I’ve seen yet for the rumors surrounding the future implementation of the amero. If someone were to intentionally try to devalue the American dollar and turn it into the peso, would you do it any differently? Again, I’m not sold on the idea of some secret plot to merge us into a North American Union (not that this is even being done in secret), but as of right now I’m struggling for a rational answer for why this is being done. Of course the increase in available cash will be a momentary patch on the current economic downturn, but surely the “geniuses” in charge of the Fed know the problems that this will cause very shortly down the road.

Also, the fact that this is being almost completely ignored by the media is absurd. I follow the news pretty closely on a daily basis (granted, not as in-depth as I did before), and I was aware of the influx of cash, but I was unaware of the magnitude of this unprecedented action until this morning. Someone who is more knowledgeable about things like this seriously needs to convince me that I’m just whipping myself into a frenzy for no reason, because I am more than just a little alarmed right now.




January 25th, 2009

Here are my favorite pics for 2008 in chronological order. You can see the whole shebang here. As I did last year, I followed a Scrubs-style naming convention:

1. My Keg Tap Disaster (February 9 – Welcome Home Party)

2. My St. Patrick’s Day Meal (March 17)

3. My First IronPigs Game (June 27 – IronPigs Game)

4. My Weird Hair (June 29 – GF/LTJ/DKM Concert)

5. My Massive Footlong (August 9 – Shea Stadium)

6. My Projected Dream (August 16 – Brew Expo)

7. Our Uncomfortable Timed Shot (September 12 – PSU Roadtrip)

8. Our Terrifying Walk (September 13 – Penn State vs Syracuse)

9. Our Syracuse Road Trip (September 13 – Penn State vs Syracuse)

10. Our Wanting To Know If You’ve Ever Seen The Rain (September 26)

11. My Fire (September 26)

12. My Kick In The Head (November 16 – Homecoming Weekend)

13. My COME TO PENN STATE!! (November 21)

14. Our Big Ten Championship (November 28 – Penn State vs Michigan State)

15. Our Ugly Christmas Sweaters (December 20 – Ugly Christmas Sweater Party)

16. My Family Takes Forever To Get A Group Shot Right (December 25 – Christmas 2008)

17. My Lucky Day (December 28 – Eagles vs Cowboys)



January 11th, 2009

Boy, the writer’s strike really hit this year hard. Not only was there no 24, but other solid shows from last year seemed to take a nose dive including Heroes, Scrubs, and South Park. As a result we have a truncated list this year.

TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES7. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
“It’s beautiful here, isn’t it? Y’know, you stay here long enough you fool yourself into thinking this is how it’s always gonna be. Then you remember what this place’ll look like when it’s on fire and you realize you’ll do whatever it takes to keep from watching it burn again.”

I’m pretty sure when this show was first announced all of humanity stood athwart Fox and yelled, “Stop!” I know I didn’t have high hopes, but I checked it out anyway to satisfy my curiosity and was shockingly not appalled at what I saw. This isn’t exactly a classic work of art like Terminator 2 is, but it is very entertaining if only for it’s action despite the moments of stupidity that seem to attack at least once in every episode. I haven’t watched anything from the second season yet, but if they have at least ratcheted down the terrible attempts at humor a bit, I’ll probably like it.

Favorite Episode: 1.9 – What He Beheld

PRISON BREAK6. Prison Break
“Michael: When the exchange is over, and LJ is safe, you and I are gonna spend some quality time.
Susan: When the exchange is over, you better run for your life.”

Well, I finally gave this show a real shot and ended up watching the entire series in the span on a month. Unfortunately, that month was February so everything seems to run together in my mind and thus my synopsis is not going to be very in depth. It took me about half of season one before I was fully on board, but once I was I couldn’t get enough. One thing I’ve noticed is that the good guys have extraordinarily good luck to get out of the jams they get into. However, they also have extraordinarily bad luck to get into the jams to begin with so I guess it all evens out. Bottom line is if you have bought into all the ridiculous twists that have already happened on the show, then buying into the idea of everyone having to break out of yet another prison doesn’t seem as far-fetched as it does at first glance.

Favorite Episode: 3.13 – The Art Of The Deal

LOST5. Lost
“It’s not an island. It’s a place where miracles happen. And—and—if you—if you don’t believe that, Jack, if you can’t believe that, just wait till you see what I’m about to do.”

Midway through season three I almost gave up on this show. It had become so convoluted and ridiculous that the frustration over the overall story was greater than the enjoyment I get out the show on an episode-to-episode basis. Thankfully that ship was righted in the second half of season 3, and Lost managed to carry that momentum into season 4 in what is probably the most solid season since the first (which I doubt will be topped). The flash forwards add a new dimension to the show just as the flashbacks were beginning to get stale. I still doubt they’ll be able to wrap up all the questions they’ve brought up on the show, but this season made me more optimistic that there might actually be a satisfying ending to all this.

Favorite Episode: 4.14 – There’s No Place Like Home

JOHN ADAMS4. John Adams
“Well, if my long residence in London as this colony’s agent to the court has taught me anything, Mr. Dickinson, it has taught me this: that given the choice between doing what is right and doing what is not right, His Majesty’s government will take the latter course every time.”

This is technically an HBO miniseries, but one of the best of 2008 nonetheless. It tells the story of our first Vice-President from his role in our declaring independence to his death, just hours after Thomas Jefferson on the fourth of July. John Adams was a very influential person in our becoming an independent country, yet his life story (at least to me) is not well known. It’s fascinating to see the history unfold, sometimes in ways you don’t expect. Unfortunately, it seems not everything is as historically accurate as they portray. Still, it’s worth a view if only to be disgusted by seeing a founding father get frisky with his wife.

Favorite Episode: 1.2 – Independence

ITS' ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA3. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
“Dee: Maybe there wouldn’t have cats surrounding your building if you didn’t have open cans of cat food everywhere!
Charlie: I have fifty cats howling outside my window because I have ten thousand RATS running around the building!”

Much like Seinfeld before it, IASIP seemed to have hit it’s stride in season four. There were still a couple dud episodes towards the end, but this season made me laugh the most consistently. This year saw the gang “solve” the gas crisis, faking their own deaths, trying to find out who pooped the bed, get voted the worst bar in Philadelphia, crack the Liberty Bell, stage a scary extreme home makeover, write a musical, and be tortured in an loony bin by Sinbad and Rob Thomas. What more could anyone ask?

Favorite Episode: 4.6 – Mac & Charlie Die

THE OFFICE2. The Office
“As a farmer, I know that when an animal is sick, sometimes the right thing to do is to put it out of its misery. With the electricity we’re using to keep Meredith alive we could power a small fan for two days. You tell me what’s unethical.”

This show is the only reason why I wanted the strike to be resolved as quickly as possible. Knowing that I had a guaranteed half hour of good entertainment every Thursday is a comforting thing, and not having that early weekend kickoff killed me. On top of everything, it seemed that the shortened season knocked the show off it’s game for a little bit (although some of that could be attributed to the Jim-and-Pam-are-finally-together transition period). Even in an off year though this show was great as Michael hits Meredith with a car (and then organizes a walk-a-thon against rabies), the temp becomes a total dick as he becomes a Dunder Mifflin executive and launches a new website, Jan goes completely psycho (before getting pregnant), Michael demonstrates what a survivor man he is, and Jim and Pam don’t get engaged at the perfect moment stolen by Andy proposing to Angela.

Favorite Episode: 4.1 – Fun Run

THE SHIELD1. The Shield
“Vic led, but I kept following. I don’t think one’s worse than the other, but we made each other into something worse than our individual selves. I wish I’d never met him.”

Now that this show has come to a conclusion, I have come to a conclusion of my own: this is the best drama I have ever watched. 24 will probably always be my favorite, but I have not seen another show that was as consistently excellent as The Shield. It also featured maybe the best series finale I’ve ever seen (certainly the best since Arrested Development, although the two can’t really be compared). Its amazing seeing seven years worth of plot finally coming to a head as every crooked member of the strike team faced the consequences of their actions (and took some others along the way). It was a perfect ending to an almost-perfect series. I’m sorry to see the show end, but I’m glad it didn’t cling to life longer than it should have. Also on the plus side is I never have to decide between this and 24 for the top slot on one of these lists!

Favorite Episode: 7.13 – Family Meeting



January 4th, 2009

This has been a rough year for movies (and pretty much all media as far as I can tell), and I’m assuming the aftermath of the writer’s strike won’t even be felt until next year! This year it seems Hollywood just sucks. That’s as much enthusiasm as I can muster:

Worst of the Year:

The only half-funny moment in the entire movie was a 10 minute long segment revolving around the phrase “jive turkey.” It wasn’t worth it.

Speed Racer
Good to know I’ll never have to experiment with acid because the Wachowskis are obviously doing enough for all of us.

Mediocre of the Year:

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
I had nothing but bad vibes for this film since I got that same old “They’re seriously calling it The Phantom Menace???” feeling when they announced the name. I need to see it again, but my impression the first time through was that it was a mixed bag and probably worse than it would have been if Spielberg had made this independently from Lucas’s influence.

This was surprisingly watchable, mostly due to Jason Bateman’s awesomeness and Charlize Theron’s hotness.

Favorites of the Year

CLOVERFIELD10. Cloverfield
”Shut up! All right, we don’t know what we saw. The point is it’s still here, all right? So we need to get the hell out of Manhattan! Now!”

This movie really didn’t hold up well seeing it the second time on DVD, but man, it was a load of fun in the theater. It’s like The Blair Witch Project but with less suction and (if it’s possible) even more puke-o-rama shaky cam! (Thank you soooo much Jason Bourne). The dialogue is bad (if you took out the word “dude” in the script I’m pretty sure it would cut the run time by a third), the plot is ridiculous if you apply any logic at all (sure she can run away from the monster! We un-impaled her like 5 minutes ago!) the acting is embarrassing at times, and the monster is disappointing when you finally get a look at it after an hour and a half of teases. What keeps this movie together is the suspense of not knowing what’s going to happen next and the imaginative set pieces. It’s certainly worthy of one viewing, but probably not more than that.

PINEAPPLE EXPRESS9. Pineapple Express
“In case you haven’t noticed – which you haven’t, ‘cause from what I can tell, you don’t notice anything ever – we are not very functional when we’re high.”

This is the Seth Rogan comedy of 2008 that I actually saw, so by default it’s “The Best Seth Rogan Comedy of the Year!” It seems the competition gets stiffer with every passing year. This time he brings along fellow Freaks and Geeks alum Harry Osborne as Saul the drug dealer. The two are forced to become fast friends as one of them witnesses a murder while leaving behind a joint filled with a rare kind of weed that is only dealt by Harry. I’m not big into stoner comedies like I am for beer comedies (both of them!), but in a year dominated by comedies, this was still a highlight.

THE INCREDIBLE HULK8. The Incredible Hulk
“Hulk smash!”

LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOUD NOISES! If great comedies was one trend of 2008, a superhero movie mini-renaissance was the other. This movie, written partially by Edward Norton, is mercifully a clean break from Hulk, which was directed by Ang Lee and was duller than soccer play-by-play in sign language. Instead of pondering super close-ups of still life we get loads of ultra close-ups with angry, screaming abominations unto the Lord (pun intended). While the CGI gets a little out of hand at the end (would it be a true summer blockbuster if it didn’t?) this was an overall satisfying experience that quickly faded from memory only because it was outshone by several other new classics in the superhero genre.

STEP BROTHERS7. Step Brothers
“You have the voice of an angel. Your voice is like a combination of Fergie and Jesus.”

It’s been a while, but Will Ferrell has finally returned to form. Perhaps his star just burned too bright in Anchorman, but since then his filmography has been a long list of tepid mediocrity. I’m just going to ignore the fact that he was also in Semi-pro, which is saved from being the worst movie I saw this year only because I was stupid enough to watch Speed Racer. It’s Ferrell’s crudest comedy since Old School (maybe even ever), and even though his shtick has worn a bit thin, this is full of hilarious moments. Just reading the quotes page on IMDB to write this had me laughing out loud.

FUTURAMA: THE BEAST WITH A BILLION BACKS6. Futurama: The Beast With A Billion Backs
“Now I’ve often said ‘good news’ when sending you on a mission of extreme danger; so when I say this anomaly is dangerous, you can imagine how dangerous I really think it is.”

This is the second of four planned Futurama movies and it is about on par with the first one (the third one, Bender’s Game, was a bit tedious for me). While I personally think Futurama is best told in 30 minute episodes, I’ll take any new material I can get. This entry features, well, in the words of Fry, “I went to another Universe and fell in love with a giant octopus; and now I’m Pope of a new religion.” It’s complicated, but no more so than any other storyline on this show. If this show doesn’t come back at some point then this might be the last hurrah for Futurama with the third film being a dud and the forthcoming finale seemingly centered on the obnoxious environmental theme that popped up from time to time on the show. I guess I’ll always have my DVDs…

GET SMART5. Get Smart
“Agent 99: Did you see anything while I was dancing?
Maxwell Smart: Just once, but I don’t think you expected him to lift you that high.”

Up front, I’ll just say I was and am a huge fan of the original TV show starring Don Adams. I grew up with that show on Nick at Nite every night, so I was somewhat leery of the idea of a remake. Casting Steve Carell as Max was a good first step in winning me over even though no one can ever replace Don Adams in that role. Unfortunately, my geekiness over the show kept me from fully loving the movie. Maxwell Smart was a well trained idiot, not a smart analyst with no field experience. Siegfried was a German Nazi type, not General Zod. And for the love of God, Larabee was NOT freaking Champ Kind. You can’t just take whatever actor you want, let him do the same terrible shtick he always does and expect everything to be fine by giving him the name of a beloved character who acts completely different from what is in the movie!! Argh!! That being said, the last minute appearance of Puddy as Hymie was genius. I’d be up for a sequel as this movie was surprisingly solid in both action and comedy. Also Anne Hathaway is strikingly gorgeous in this movie. The movie would be worth seeing just to watch her for two hours.

TROPIC THUNDER4. Tropic Thunder
“I think I can spot a prop head when I see one!”

Speaking of old shtick, this one is starring, written, and directed by Ben Stiller. It’s a surprisingly smart and hilarious spoof on Hollywood in general. You have the aging action star Tugg Speedman, played by Stiller, the lame comedian who plays multiple roles in his movies played by Jack Black, the energy drink swilling rapper-turned-actor played by some other guy, and the “serious” Australian actor who gets awards for playing a gay priest with Toby Maguire played by Robert Downey, Jr. Together they form a cast trying to film a war movie but inadvertently get involved in a real war zone. However, I got my money’s worth on this movie just from the fake trailers they showed before the movie even started.

“This is called farming! You kids are gonna grow all sorts of things! Vegetable plants, pizza plants… Oh, it’s good to be home!”

Death. Taxes. Good Pixar movie. I didn’t care for Cars and Ratatoille as much as some of the old classics, but they still had their charm. WALL-E on the other hand is a return to form even if they didn’t drift too far from form to begin with. I don’t know how long this film went without any dialogue, but it’s amazing how interesting the beginning of the film is while not saying anything! I’d love to see the script just to see how it was all mapped out. Pixar movies are also always nice to look at, but they certainly seemed to have stepped up their game in the animation department for this one. I’m new to the BluRay thing, but thus far WALL-E, by far, has been the best looking movie I’ve watched in the medium. Nothing can ever top the Toy Story movies or The Incredibles, but WALL-E may become a classic as well, despite it’s somewhat obnoxious imbedded political message.

IRON MAN2. Iron Man
“Let’s face it, this is not the worst thing you’ve caught me doing.”

I’m not going to say that anything Jon Favreau touches turns to gold (I remember Daredevil, buddy!), but he has created a few classics in his day. Swingers is one of my favorite all time movies, Elf is a new holiday staple, and now Iron Man set a new high bar for super hero movies . . . for about three months before (#1 MOVIE SPOILER!) The Dark Knight came out. Even though I had only a vague knowledge of the Iron Man story, the casting of Robert Downey, Jr excited me more than any super hero casting since Christian Bale. It seemed even more inspired (maybe even obvious?) after seeing the movie itself. Like The Incredible Hulk, it does get bogged down with CGI (and some iffy acting by Gwyneth Paltrow) in the end, but on the whole the film balances action, plot, and comedy brilliantly. Bring on Iron Man 2!

THE DARK KNIGHT1. The Dark Knight
“Why so serious?”

This movie, on the other hand, I’m not so sure I want a sequel to. Why? Because I don’t think it can be topped. The first thing I said after I saw TDK for the first time was, “This was sooo much better than Batman Begins.” And I loved Batman Begins! In describing this film to others who hadn’t seen it (I’m a midnight movie geek), I would use the “Best movie since ____” method. Except the release date of the movie in the blank kept on getting pushed back the more I thought about it. I think I finally settled on The Empire Strikes Back. In the Batman movies of the past there was always a clear definition between the films. It was as if the villains of the previous films just disappeared for the new one. Not only is The Dark Knight a clear follow up to Batman Begins, but it masterfully balances a large cast of supporting characters including Jim Gordon, Harvey Dent/Two Face, Alfred, and of course The Joker. The subject’s been worn out, but Heath Ledger is spectacular in this movie. From his very first appearance the writing combined with his performance makes The Joker completely unpredictable, menacing, and maybe the greatest villain in super hero movie history. There are two movie clichés that are pulled off here without problem: the villain with no real motive, and the good guy who turns bad guy almost instantly and at no point did I not buy into it. I’ve already written about the War on Terror commentary (yes, I still think Batman is George W. Bush), so I won’t beat a dead horse on that topic. Maybe what impresses me the most about this movie is that on paper, the threat is so much smaller than it was in Batman Begins, yet it feels so much bigger and more threatening. In a day when there seems to be so few releases that even interest me, it’s so refreshing to have this film come along and remind me why I love movies so much to begin with.



December 31st, 2008

Welp, it’s that time again when I spent waaaaaaay too much time writing down what I liked about the ending year. In 2008’s case, media wise, not much. I could just say “The Dark Knight and The Shield are good!” in one post and be done with it, but that’ just not my style is it? Here is the tenuous schedule subject to change (if only because the picture part seems pretty unlikely to get done):

Sunday, January 4: Favorite Movies
Sunday, January 11: Favorite TV Shows
Sunday, January 18: Favorite Pictures
Sunday, January 25: Favorite Music
Sunday, February 1: Looking ahead to 2009

Have a Happy New Year!




November 7th, 2008

Fox released a new season 7 trailer that includes bits from Redemption as well as the rest of the season. Looking pretty sweet:

Also, it doesn’t look like Michelle Dessler will rise to be Tony Almeida’s zombie bride. She’s joining the cast of Lost for this season. Still, it’s nice to see her get some work (and on something that’s a little better than AVP2).




November 5th, 2008

I know this is a sad and disappointing day to many people (myself included), but let’s remember one thing above all: as Conservatives we believe in this country and the principles it was founded on no matter who is in power. We are not liberals who go on a temper tantrum saying how “stupid” the country is because the majority voted the other way. Right off the bat, here are some actual positives of the results from last night:

  • I got to watch The Shield last night! The early call of Ohio meant I could go on with my regular routine.
  • More seriously, the election of Barack Obama is actually a repudiation of a long held Liberal contention that America is a racist country. I desperately wish that this historic event could have involved someone who is not an empty suit, but it’s hard not to acknowledge that the crossing of this barrier is a good thing for America. The more commonplace events like this are, the less traction race baiters like Jesse Jackson will get in their attempts to divide us (although The Onion tries. Heh).
  • Branching off from the “liberals think all Americans are idiots when they’re out of power” notion, it will be nice to have the other half of the country like America again, even though they’re trying to radically alter it. Perhaps now that they share some responsibility, they will have the luxury of taking the War on Terror seriously instead of just squatting on the carpet repeatedly and fingering George W. Bush as the culprit. On a personal note, I’m looking forward to not seeing those “1/20/09: Bush’s Last Day In Office” bumper stickers anymore.
  • While it may appear that the country wants to move to the left, remember that there’s a sizeable portion of the electorate that still doesn’t know anything about Obama other than “HOPE!”, “CHANGE!” and that he comes from outside of George W. Bush’s party. Obama’s liberal voting history runs counter with the centrist campaign that he ran. This presents two scenarios, and both of which (I hope) would end up positive for us: 1) If Obama’s smart enough to know he has to campaign as a moderate to get elected, then he’s smart enough to know he’ll have to govern as a moderate to stay in office. Given the voting results he has the right to govern the way he wishes and if he can hold off the Pelosi radicals in his own party and live up to the message of compromise in his victory speech then he should be applauded. 2) The more likely scenario I see is that there’s going to be tremendous pressure from Congress to bite off more than they can chew immediately and Obama will go along with it. Let’s also not forget that the Democratic Congressional leadership is completely inept and Obama’s first major accomplishment as President will be the first accomplishment of any magnitude of his political career (aside from winning the offices he holds of course). Hopefully this will result in some major missteps (see the first couple of years in the Clinton administration) and the damage will be limited. However, even if a large portion of their agenda is enacted, I still believe this is a center-right country and we’re not ready to accept socialism. Hopefully this will result in a major backlash in two years (see 1994). In 2012 Obama will not have the benefit of having his entire career shrouded in a cloudy haze. If he is truly a wolf in sheep’s clothes then it will be easier to hold him accountable in four years.

For this to happen though, we have work to do. It may just be relief that the eternal election is finally over, but I feel invigorated somehow, especially in comparison to 2006. While `06 was bad, it never felt like rock bottom. This does. This is the Dems’ biggest victory since LBJ over Goldwater, but let’s remember that four years after 1964, LBJ was so unpopular he couldn’t even run for re-election. In 2012 we won’t have perceptions of the Republicans running the country (even though the Democrats have controlled the Congress the past two years) and we won’t be weighed down by having to defend an unpopular president who doesn’t even defend himself (a situation that would have doubtlessly been prolonged had McCain won).

I haven’t figured out exactly what action items need to be taken to restart the Conservative movement, but here is a short reading list in the meantime that I recommend to everyone.

  1. The Constitution of the United States and the Federalist Papers – Let’s start with basics. We all think we know the Constitution, but it’s been a long time since high school. Let’s look at it with fresh eyes to keep ourselves centered. While the Constitution has been endlessly distorted by liberals, one only has to read the Federalist Papers, written primarily by Alexander Hamilton, to see how off base they are. If the 18th century linguistics don’t wear you out, check out the Anti-Federalist Papers as well to see what the arguments against the Constitution were. It’s interesting to see which concerns were valid and which ones didn’t pan out.
  2. Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg – I read this book earlier this year and it is one of the most educationally shocking books I’ve ever read, even while being much more reasonable than the title would indicate. There is history in here that is so out there that your instant reaction will be that it can’t be true. However, in every instance that I researched, Goldberg was vindicated. This is an absolutely essential read for a Conservative not only to understand what’s wrong with Liberal thought, but also to weed out your own Conservative fascist leanings. Honestly, if you only read one thing on this list (other than the Constitution of course) make it this one.
  3. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand – I believe it was meant as a satire of progressives to show what will happen when we punish the achievers, but the extremes described in this book that desperately needed a better editor are quickly coming to pass.
  4. An Inconvenient Book by Glenn Beck – Look! Pretty pictures! You could use a break from all this heavy stuff anyway.

Speaking of Mr. Beck, his must-read list following the election included Liberal Fascism as well as The 5,000 Year Leap and The Forgotten Man. I have not read the latter two, but I intend to. That is all for now class, book reports are due at the end of the month!

Remember even when elections don’t go our way – even ones as seemingly devastating as this – that the pendulum swings back quickly. Four years ago the hot phrase was “permanent Republican majority.” There’s always hope for America because it’s populated by Americans. Let’s act like it by first shoring up what we believe in and then fighting for it.




October 20th, 2008

And while I’d like to credit Sarah for these, most of the credit goes to GOB’s wife here:

Palin Rap

I crack up at 2:16 every time.