Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Total should-be Art Brut song title, yeah? Yeah.

Obnoxiously 'eclectic' attempt at a "mux" here:

Spacious Playroom for Nodin

While I'm aware that, to some of you, there's nothing new about this concept, I'm just getting into the mix (so to speak) and from here on in this is how I'll be doing the Nodin-themed mixtapes that I sometimes send to some of you - this way we cut the Post Office out and people don't have to worry about losing/breaking/etc. those shiny aluminum discs anymore. Aren't you relieved? No? Well, I am.Enjoy! Click a song time to get the ball rolling.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Things I Learned Watching "Baby Mama"

It's been a good few months since I saw this, so bear with me.

  • Dear Maura Tierney: I read an interview with you in Entertainment Weekly (I think) sometime back in which you revealed yourself to be an irreverent, swaggering tomboy in the Kim Deal mold. So why don't you ever take acting roles that reflect who you are? How come you're always in the lame wifee/mother/love-interest/wishy-washy parts? Why do you settle? I'm sure the money's great for this sort of thing, but look, ER's gonna be over in a year, you're gonna need an income source, and it's high time you really tackled something challenging and meaty. Life's too short to keep settling for bullshit that's beneath you, like that insipid Welcome to Mooseport flick that was beneath everybody involved.

  • Dear Holland Taylor: must you always be a drunkard or evil or annoying or an evil annoying drunkard when you sign on to projects? Really? It's on your resume? You have it added to your contracts? Oh, okay. Note: I seriously thought you were Francis Fisher! My bad.

  • Yeah, it's sorta heterosexually suspect to be a single dude in your 30s running a smoothie shop named Super Fruity with a logo featuring a suggestively-peeled banana. Especially if you look exactly like Greg Kinnear. That's amusing! But not that amusing.

  • Who knew that Sigorney Weaver and Steve Martin were capable, at this stage in their long careers, at stealing a movie from Tina Fey without breaking a sweat? Not I, certainly.

  • Dear God: please never, ever allow Amy Poehler to don a tank top onscreen again. That's all.

  • Dax Shepard/Romany Malco spin-off now. Now!

  • Baby Mama's best trick is it's sneakiness, it's willingness to move in a sort of low-key stealth mode in which the gags come along one after another without calling a lot of attention to themselves - a lost art in the boys-mostly, boisterous Atapow age. You settle into the movie's absurd-but-not-totally buddy-picture rhythm, and sometimes you're surprised, but the general energy isn't manic enough to make it seem as though time's flying by. So we're lulled, we're comfortable, we're supine - until the baby shower scene where Fey's character utters two noxious words that remind us what this movie's really about and sorta jolts us out of our stupors. No spoilers from me; you'll know what I mean when it happens, and it will catch you off-guard.

  • Wow. I thought I'd have a lot more to say about this one, but I'm out; I've got nothing else.

Stuff I Learned Watching Summer Blockbuster Trailers

I never make it to the movies, for reasons surely familiar to others of my age, income bracket, and responsibilities. (Only one I caught in a theatre this year was Baby Mama. More on that eventually, perhaps.) I do, however, watch enough television to catch plenty of trailers that torture me with two-minute teasers of what I'm bound to miss, and it occurred to me that it might be kind of fun to just review these trailers - summer movie trailers, in particular - instead. They're ranked from potentially abysmal to potentially awesome. Let's ride:

Genre: Stoner comedy. Let's clarify: an Atapow-affiliated stoner comedy, which, given my admitted weekness for dumb-smart hilarity, is like Voguing to Danzig catnip or some shit.
Music: "Paper Planes," by M.I.A., which is oddly fitting given the conflation of gunplay and ganja here.
The plot, near as I can figure: Stoner accidently witnesses a murder, goes on the run with another stoner, gets caught, etc. Hilarity ensures, even if it's probably a buzzkill for the protagonists.
Key dialogue: There's a part where some pasty schlub baddie cocks a shotgun and goes "Thug life!" in this effeminate, mocking falsetto that kills me everytime I think about it, prompting me to imitate him frequently during last weekend's sweaty, strenuous move into the new house. I'm embarassed to admit that if I hadn't read Somebody Scream! recently, the cultural significance of this line would've been totally lost on me because I never spent much time (i.e. more than like 10 minutes) with Tupac's albums; I was more of a Biggie Smalls guy.
Odds that I'll ever actually see this thing: 1 in 10, I hope, at least on DVD if not on the big screen. What say you, Alecia? Are you game?

Genre: Comic book superhero schlock meets Heat. Or so the reviewers claim. If they're right, I totally need to see this.
Music: Total film score clusterfuck overload.
The plot, near as I can figure: Comic book superhero schlock meets Heat. Also: the late Heath Ledger turns the Joker into a captivating sadist, which - along with all the action and violence - is the big reason most folks are so psyched for this. Seriously, does anybody really give a fuck about Christian Bale in Batman's cowl at this point? I almost feel sorry for that guy.
Key dialogue: Again, Heath Ledger as the Joker. Holy shit, you know?
Odds that I'll ever actually see this thing: 1 in 20, seeing as I just finally saw Batman Begins on DVD.

Genre: Can't really be boiled down to a single type; it's like a children's cartoon movie crossed with Short Circuit crossed with a sci-fi cautionary tale. Also: PIXAR! PIXAR rules.
Music: Clicks, grunts, whirrs, other assorted sound effects, etc.
The plot, near as I can figure: Robots in love on a trash-buried, pollution-clogged Earth 700 years after humanity's fled in a giant spaceship, in search of another planet to habitate/despoil.
Key dialogue: There's a non-verbal showdown between groups of robots that might be the funniest cartooning I've seen in eons.
Odds that I'll ever actually see this thing: 1 in 20.

Genre: Comedy. Low, low-impact comedy.
Music: Who even cares?
The plot, near as I can figure: Something about losers becoming huge rock stars; this looks like a waste of time on par with Hot Rod, another numbskull flick starring a promising comedic comer which I also had no desire to see. This abomination seems to exist because somebody thought Dwight from The Office deserved a shot at a film career. Hollywood power brokers, listen closely: even Steve Carell doesn't even deserve a top-billing film career! Everything he's in as the star winds up limp; he kills in supporting roles, though (cf. Bruce Almighty, Anchorman).
Key dialogue: Doesn't matter.
Odds that I'll ever actually see this thing: Okay, okay. I'd watch it on cable in a pinch. Maybe.

Genre: Musical. I pretty much loathe musicals as a rule, though I've got a soft spot for The Sound of Music, among a very select few.
Music: ABBA. Lots and lots of ABBA. When I worked, briefly, in Hazleton, there was a really homely, sorta mutant family that lived downstairs from me. One of the girls - I think she was probably mentally delayed in some way - was obsessed with "Dancing Queen" and played it all day long, over and over again. I wasn't appreciative of this.
The plot, near as I can figure: Meryl Streep banged three dudes one summer a long time ago. Now her daughter's getting hitched and it's time to figure out who's the daddy. Much chick-flick-hilarity-for-Fried Green Tomatoes/First Wives Club set ensues.
Key dialogue: Don't remember anything in particular, but just thinking about it's making me gag at work.
Odds that I'll ever actually see this thing: 1 in a kajillion, even on cable when there's nothing else on. No. Fucking. Way.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Not literally, mind you. Just whip up a tracklisting of 10 songs that remind you of times more carefree than your immediate present, when you could easily while away a Saturday doing absolutely nothing meaningful. I've been thinking about this a bit today, maybe just because there's so much to be accomplished in what seems to be such a short period of time.

To get us started, here's my list:

1. LAGWAGON "May 16" - The chorus here is "It's just another Saturday," which jibes nicely with this project, no? Lagwagon - who keep straggling on despite being well past their sell-by date - specialize NOFX-influenced pop-punk about personal identity. Back in the day when we all carried a lot less responsibility, my brother-in-law, Alecia, and I would crowd into the basement of my in-laws' split level home for Saturday morning sessions with Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2, and this was one of jams that'd play in the background, along with tons of vintage hardcore and rap classics. Good times, even if they both insisted that I was too hard on the joystick.

2. RZA as BOBBY DIGITAL feat. METHOD MAN "NYC Everything" - The best - or most memorable, take yr pick - track from RZA's 1998 debut. Meaningless, but intriguingly so; takes me back to those long, gas-wasting drives back and forth between Chestertown, MD and Newark, Del. to blow wads on music, chicken wings, and The Baffler back in college (and the year immediately after). Meth: "Gotta can't forget Bobby, if I did I'd feel gyped/Like my sandwich ain't a sandwich without Miracle Whip." Today these dudes probably aren't even on speaking terms.

3. CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL "Down on the Corner" - My dad made me a tape that had this song on it when I was a kid, or maybe someone else's version of it; not sure. Anyway, it reminds me of my dad and his cassette-dubbing fetish and how he'd use magic markers on the spine, making little designs (like waves or dots or what have you) to approximate a minimal artwork or something. Such things seem silly and not worth thinking about when you're little, yeah? Then you're old enough to recall your elders at the age you've reached and the passage of time hits you like a load of bricks.

4. THE MOLDY PEACHES "NYC is Like a Graveyard" - I bought this album when I was too broke to buy it with a credit card on the way to an employment agency; I didn't have a job because I'd foolishly quit one - for the first time in my life - a few weeks earlier. Not too long afterwards, 9/11 happened and this song stopped being even remotely funny. In retrospect, this song shouldn't even make this list, because it meant something to me during one of my lowest periods.

5. PAVEMENT "Rattled By The Rush" - Any track off of Wowee Zowee would do here, really. Spring of 1995, senior year of high school, first crappy car (1982 Ford Mustang), broken radio so I'd jam batteries into a portable and bring it with me and invariably I'd be listening to this album, which represented a new sort of freedom and endless possibility. The future was an open book, college loomed, I could reinvent myself as a different person and make new connections = which did happen.

6. GREEN DAY "Geek Sick Breath" - Man, I used to get such a charge out of hearing this on the radio before Insomniatic even dropped. Didn't even know much about amphetamines or what the song meant per se, but Billie Joe's stilted cadence and the hook just worked better than anything off of Dookie, somehow. Anyway, context: driving to and from work as a dishwasher at the Towson Golf & Country Club along winding, leafy backroads, volume all the way up, wearing a GBV t-shirt, winter break or maybe summer, etc. in the VW Jetta I bought from mom.

7. DEPECHE MODE "Walking In My Shoes" - See #3. My pop was killing the music industry even before anybody conceived of the mp3! Also, Alecia loves loves LOVES Depeche Mode, and through her more than anybody, so do I.

8. QUEEN "Bohemian Rhapsody" - Because I watched Wayne's World more than was healthy for a teen and because for a bit I was homies with a dude who was obsessed with Queen compilations. Fuck it - sub in just about any Queens hit single. "I Like to Ride My Bicycle"? Sure. "Killer Queen"? Okay. "You're My Best Friend"? That'll work.

9. HARVEY DANGER "Flagpole Sitta" - The distillation of alt-whatever/zinester/zeitgeist/youth culture post-grunge, maybe that disapora's shark-jump moment, too. It's tough to pin this one to a specific memory because radio molested the hell out of it for what seemed like months. just milked it til it bled and you didn't wanna get any on you, you know? Bill Denton's apartment in C-town near the Royal Farms and the fucked-up night where his downstairs neighbor had a party and a bunch of our crew were there, agreeing to drive Beth Davis to some baseball game and this song coming on and her screaming it at the top of her lungs, so much more besides, and I'm sure I'm forgetting a whooooole lot.

10. MADONNA "Live to Tell" - Adolescence, summer, Towson YMCA camp, heat, sweat, infatuation, rejection, wishing I had the cool OC shirts and jams the other kids had, thinking that'd make me happier. This song really scared me, not so much because of the vocal performance or the lyrics but because of how amorphous and shadowy and emotional the production was.

Care to play along at home? Email me your lists, and I'll post 'em here.