Friday, December 31, 2010

Two Thousand (Top) Ten

Here they are: my ten favorite songs from 2010. I was originally going to break this post up into two posts, giving every song a full review, delving into every song with vigor and purpose. Then I remembered how hard it is to write one review, much less ten. The result is a compromise: five full song reviews, five ten-word reviews. Upon review, I’m not sure which style of review I prefer, you decide I guess. So without further ado, my top ten of 2010 (in no particular order).

Teenage Dream—Katy Perry

This song is the reason I still listen to the radio. Which is saying a lot, because honestly, I don’t need to listen to the radio to hear new music. I’d still be pretty happy with my usual routine of music consumption: check out the major music blogs (Pitchfork, Stereogum, Aquarium Drunkard, to name a few) give any well reviewed song/artist a listen on or grooveshark, and if I like it I’ll download it. But every year a pop song comes along that none of the blogs cover, because most blogs consider themselves “above” pop music (side-note: Tom Ewing writes an amazing column called the Poptimist for Pitchfork that is consistently well-written and insightful and is definitely the exception to the rule that I just stated). This year “Teenage Dream” was the song that made me flip through the stations five or six times waiting to hear it before putting in a mix cd as I sat in traffic—and then 20 minutes later do another scan. I’ve fallen in love with other pop songs before, but I’ve never really admired one before. And honestly, I really do admire the construction of this song. “Teenage Dream” is the perfect pop machine, every part working with maximum effect towards a single purpose, no energy spent on extraneous bells and whistles. Consider the elements: a "four to the floor" beat, a two note guitar line, some nice guitar crunches during the chorus, some background synth, a totally sweet breakdown at the 2:48 mark, which leads to the cathartic blast for the final minute. And I haven’t even gotten to the lyrics yet! And they’re the best part! I find it impossible to listen to “Teenage Dream” without imagining that Katy Perry is singing to me, and I have the feeling I’m not the only guy who feels this way. I also suspect that lots of ladies imagine themselves singing this song to the man of their dreams. Here lies the essence of this song, it simplifies the very scary realities of sex and love into innocent desires. “You make me feel like I’m living a teenage dream” Katy Perry states, which reads as “You make me feel like I did before I got all caught up in the BS of sex and dating as a young adult, which is a difficult world to navigate and often leads me to have reservations about actually becoming close to a person of the opposite sex”. Maybe I’m reading way too deeply into this song, and my assessment of it is far too subjective, but this song gives me hope, and that is far more than most pop songs are able to do.

Sweet, sexy, sixties inspired ditty. Toe tapping will occur, inevitably.

Wait for Me—Anais Mitchell feat. Ben Knox Miller and Justin Vernon

“Wait for Me” is the centerpiece for my favorite album of the year, Anais Mitchell’s fantastic Hadestown. I had a hard time picking a favorite song from this album, but ultimately I settled on this one because I think it encapsulates what this album is all about better than any others. I should give you some background on this album: Hadestown is a modern re-telling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth (google it, and while you’re at it, read Sara Ruhl’s play about it called Eurydice) set in what seems like a post-apocalyptic New Orleans, with guest voices from the likes of many of today’s folk heavy hitters (Ani Difranco, Greg Brown, and Justin Vernon to name a few). “Wait for Me” uses Justin Vernon’s falsetto to its best abilities on the lilting and beautiful chorus in direct contrast to Ben Knox Miller’s harsh and gravelly voice (think Tom Waits). The dynamic of these two voices working against each other creates a jarring effect, one that’s hard to shake. It’s a great song on it’s own but it’s best listened to in the context of the entire arc of the album, so go out and buy it now and give it a listen—you will not regret it.

Radar Detector—Darwin Deez

Prozac for the ears. The definition of catchy. Lovely.

She Needs Me—Jamie Lidell

Perhaps the best thing about this song is its sense of humor. Scratch that, the
second best thing about this song is its sense of humor, the real best thing about this song is the seventies funk sexiness that oozes out of every pore. The first time I heard this song was while I was working my first shift at Urban Outiftters—I had a very hard time restraining myself from groping the nearest mannequin. Seriously, if you can listen to the bass line of this song coupled with Lidell’s Stevie Wonder-esque voice and not start shaking your hips just a little bit, you might want to check and see if you still have a pulse.
But back to the humor thing. This song would be totally ruined if it took itself too seriously. Without any humor, you might start feeling self-conscious about wanting to get down with everything within a three foot radius--but when one of the opening lines of a song is “she needs you in the morning, just to cook her some eggs sometimes,” you know it’s okay to be giggling a little bit when you scoot closer to the person next to you.

Excuses—The Morning Benders
Sounds like the 40’s, 60’s and today all at once.
(Side Note: If you click only one link on this post, have it be this one)

Burden of Tomorrow—Tallest Man On Earth

Kristian Matsson, the Swede behind the Tallest Man On Earth moniker, hasn’t strayed much from his original formula--slick folk guitar and unique voice—but in his case it doesn’t matter. Matsson is such a talented songwriter that it doesn’t matter that the elements never change, the result always seems to be new and fresh. Throughout his career Matsson has been compared to Dylan, but this comparison is too obvious, and dare I say it, diminishing of Matsson’s talents. Matsson’s ability to create a memorable melody is what sets him apart from Dylan (and for that matter, every other guy with a guitar) and “Burden of Tomorrow” showcases these talents better than any of the other stellar songs on his 2010 release The Wild Hunt.
The melody on this song is so catchy that it took me at least three listens to realize I had no idea what the song was about. Upon further investigation…I’m still not sure. The lyrics are pretty obtuse but still beautiful, and almost inspiring: “Aww but hell I’m just a blind man on the plains/ I drink my water when it rains/ and live by chance among the lightning strikes.” Maybe it’s this mystery of meaning that kept me coming back to this song over and over again throughout 2010, or maybe it was the melody, or maybe it was both. Whatever it was, I hope the Tallest Man On Earth keeps doing it.

All Delighted People—Sufjan Stevens
Alternative Song Title: “Don’t worry guys, I still Got It.”

Bloodbuzz Ohio—The National

My favorite thing about The National is that every song feels like the entire band is staring at you straight in the eye, daring you to look away. It’s not confrontation: it’s bold-faced honesty. “Bloodbuzz Ohio” keeps this tradition alive, and ratchets it up to another level. Jagged guitar lines, a driving beat, orchestral swells, and some of Matt Beringer’s best lyrics yet all combine to build an incredibly moving song.
The lyrics in “Bloodbuzz Ohio” are certainly not what you would call “linear,” but they definitely tell a story. Consider the following samples: “Stand up straight at the foot of your love/ I lift my shirt up,” “Lay my head on the hood of your car/ I take it too far,” “I still owe money, to the money I owe,/ I never thought about love, when I thought about home.” The images here are simple, clear, and relatable. “Bloodbuzz Ohio” is a song about the dogged pursuit of love, and it’s repercussions: loss, depression, anger. But it might be about something else too. Although The National are often dismissed as being a one-note band (that note being “moody and depressed”), if you listen closely, this song strikes a new note: hopefulness. The chorus, and final lines are self-aware: “I’m on a blood buzz, yes I am/I’m on a blood buzz, God I am.” It’s as if Beringer is acknowledging his own predisposition to sorrow, admitting that maybe it’s just a “buzz” after all, and not the end of the world.
“BloodBuzz Ohio” is the perfect song to play for someone who has never heard The National—a perfect example of the band at its best: dark, captivating, and beautiful.

Two Door Cinema Club—Something Good Can Work
Brits with a drum machine inspire positive attitude about love.

Happy New Year everyone, I have a feeling 2011 has a lot of good music in store for us.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Best Music of 2010

It's that time of year again when we make lists that only really have personal meaning, but can probably be enjoyed by others!

Best Artist From Last Year That I Still Listen To: Darwin Deez

Best "Hey, Remember How I Said To Watch This Band in 2010? Nailed It!" Album: "Treats" by Sleigh Bells

Best Album To Fulfill Both Your Rockin' and Reflective Needs: "Lisbon" by the Walkmen.

Best Album to Play Whenever You Have Company: LP4 by Ratatat

Best Song for Driving: "Daisy" by Fang Island

Best and Only Rap Album I've Ever Purchased: "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" by Kanye West.

Best Future Wife For David Kantrowitz: Any and all ladies from Ra Ra Riot. Yes, polygamy is an option here.

Album That I Like A Lot, But Don't Own, And Therefore Can't Really Praise Much Beyond That: "Brothers" by the Black Keys

I Guess I Like Bands With The Word "Club" In Their Name: Two Door Cinema Club and Bombay Bicycle Club have been on heavy replay for a while now.

Album I Overdosed On And Now Won't Go Near: "Odd Blood" by Yeasayer.

Best Music Review I Wrote All Year: "No F*cking Around" by Rafter

Best "Wow, I Really Thought That Album Was From Last Year" Album: "Astro Coast" by Surfer Blood

Best Artist That I'll Finally Admit I Listen To: Childish Gambino

Album of the Year: "Gorilla Manner" by Local Natives

Song of the Year: "Double Rainbow Song" by Schmoyoho/Auto-Tune The News

On last year's list, I mentioned that I'd like to hear the Harlem Shakes at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve. This year, there's not really a clear choice, but the general "go for it!" vibe that Two Door Cinema Club exudes on several tracks might be a good place to start.

Happy Holidays

Thanks Cassie.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Garfield Minus Garfield

I know that I'm pretty late in mentioning Garfield Minus Garfield, but a whole lot of them made me laugh out loud today, and that definitely merits a post.

The premise is simple: erase Garfield from the strip, and see how existential Jim's actions and words can get.

It's amazing how well a lot of them work, particularly the ones where his optimism is trumped by his loneliness in the space of a few panels.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I'm in it for Blackbeard

Is this going to be a good movie? I wish I cared!

If you show me Ian McShane dressed up as a pirate, then you've successfully tricked me into seeing your film, regardless of how disappointing the other films have been in your franchise.

You win again, Disney. You win again.

Alternative Ending to "Yogi Bear"

This is hilarious, and I love it for several reasons. Not only is it a reference to the great film The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, but cartoon violence played totally straight is always something I can get behind.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Lunch Bag Blog

Coworker and all-around treasure Thomas Perkins has created a blog that chronicles the sharpie cartoons he draws on his children's lunch bags every single day. It's appropriately titled "Lunch Bag Blog."
Those munchkins better do something mind-blowing for Father's day...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

my take on that Kanye West guy

Congratulations, Kanye. You've now reached a place in pop-culture where I can no longer ignore you. Here's my very ill-informed opinion:
I've always been an indie/rock kinda guy, because I'm white and skinny and that's what we do. I've never cared about rap, but over the last few years it's slowly been trickling into my ears, thanks in part to a shift in the genre's subject matter.
Childish Gambino sums it up nicely: "you used to have to act street, now you have a choice." I grew up having a very narrowly-defined image of rappers, in which they're constantly boasting about being the best and fucking bitches like crazy. But now, probably due to the widespread accessibility that the internet provides, I'm finding more and more rappers getting introspective, exploring their crippling self-doubt and the aftermath of bad break-ups. You know, things that even white and skinny guys can identify with.
That was all a very long-winded way of saying that I appreciate how Kanye raps about more than being the best and fucking bitches like crazy. Yes, that's a part of what he does, but it's always coupled with acknowledging the darker side, as if he's always trying to come from a place of emotional honesty. To me, what makes Kanye interesting is how he takes that honesty to extreme and often damaging results. Then he'll feel terrible about it, go into hiding for months, and resurface with a Twitter account and an amazing album.
I think a great example of this painful honesty can be seen in the short film he made with Spike Jonze. We see his party-antics go from funny to downright pathetic, even desperate. Are there other rappers showing themselves in a light other than "I party all the time and it's the best?" (Of course, then the video gets weird with a fuzzy creature that he rips from his chest, but whatever).
As quoted in the ridiculously-glowing Pitchfork review, Kanye West recently told MTV "I do have a goal in this lifetime to be the greatest artist of all time..." This corroborates perfectly with a theory I've been cooking up.
Public persona aside, I think Kanye is taking his work to the next logical step. I think he's asking himself some big questions about being an "artist," both in subject matter and in aesthetics. He's obsessed with high art and high fashion, as seen his his "moving painting" music video for the song Power, and his frequent use of modern dancers and ballerinas. He tweets about wanting cherubim rugs and baroque furniture. He's a mash-up of tastes and influences, and it's creating something entirely different. I don't know if I can say I actually like his 35 minute film "Runaway," but I can say that I haven't seen anything like it, and that it's intriguing as hell. If he can continue coming from a real emotional place and being this visually experimental, then I think one day he'll do something that even a white and skinny guy like myself can deem "genius."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

All Over The Place: Music In My Head

I saw Sufjan in Oakland last week and the show was bananas. Fresh, ripe bananas. We're talking french horns, two drum sets, back up dancers, spaceships, etc. It was almost as good as the Black Keys show. Maybe just as good. I'm hesitant to compare the two, but I guess if both artists were foodstuffs, Sufjan would be bananas foster and the Black Keys would be fried chicken. I don't know where I'm going with this.

Maximum Balloon- "Groove Me" (Director's Cut) from Carlos Lopez Estrada on Vimeo.

Sounds like the love child of David Byrne and Michael Jackson. Also, the American Dream is a black man in a Smith College baseball cap.

I never got into Animal Collective, but apparently, this band sounds like them. Also, I love projection light shows more than crisp October mornings.

J-Roddy Walston and the Business - "Don't Break The Needle" from Benjamin Gauvain Hoste on Vimeo.

Firstly, I always planned on calling my backup band "the Business," so thanks for fucking me over on that one, J-Roddy Walston. Secondly, this band and song are both so f-ing fun and from Maryland.

This song is so Mumford and Son-ish in both sound and cheesy sentimentality, and it makes me feel nice. Also, real talk, I'm into the lady-man in this vid. She looks like Paul McCartney.

This is a dangerous song to listen to if you take public transportation, because you'll want to punch all of the smelly plebs invading your personal bubble right in their smelly mouths. Does no one brush in San Francisco? Have we moved beyond that social norm?

O Captain! My Captain!:

Other Bo Carter tunes include, "My Pencil Don't Write No More," "Please Warm My Wiener," "Pin In Your Cushion" and "Your Biscuits Are Big Enough For Me."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sleigh Bells @ El Rey

It's a strange experience to outwardly be rocking the fuck out, and inwardly be intricately plotting how to date the woman you're watching perform. Welcome to a Sleigh Bells concert!

Whenever people around me are making plans of any kind, I like to loudly exclaim "what could possibly go wrong?" If life were a movie, that would be when a piano falls on my head, but so far that hasn't happen and it's just a hilarious thing I say.

So when I predicted that seeing Sleigh Bells would undoubtedly get on my "favorite concerts ever" list, I should have looked above me for that piano.

But how could it not be an instant favorite? Their music is a hard-rockin' dance party, and the lady singer is such an awesome/sexy performer. How could that not be an amazing experience?

One contributing factor: other fucking people. Don't be the assholes who squirm your way through the crowd in order to stand right up against my face and make out with each other or hold your cell phones above your head the entire time. Don't do that. I had to stand through two sub-par openers for this real estate, and you just decide to take my land and fill it with these obnoxious girls (who I can only assume are named Nina, Pinta, or Santa Maria.)

Thankfully, once the band played it was a rocking good time, and I was able to get over the assholes, and even make some new friends. (Highlight: an ecstatic concert goer who exclaimed "fun fun fun!" between songs.) I even didn't mind the light-moshing that ensued. But the party couldn't have lasted more than 40 minutes, which is what happens when a band only has one album under their belt. Still, if my main complaint is "I wanted more," then that's a pretty great time.

Super fun concert? Hell yes. Amongst the best I've ever attended? Enter piano from sky.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


A part of me wishes that Clint Eastwood's "Hereafter" was a gritty reboot of the "Ghostbusters" franchise. But that's not what Dan Aykryod is saying.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Thor + Rainbow Bridge

Behold: the show I work on! The fruits of my day job!

As I've mentioned before, I'm not a big fan of Thor. Will the movie look like this mini-episode? From the few images that have been released, it's hard to say. The show I work on tries to stay true to the comics, whereas I think the film will do everything it can to fit within the world Iron Man inhabits.

I guess we'll see as the multi-teared Marvel Movie Plan unfolds.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Bands That Should Tour Together (Purely Based on Name)

Note: these are all real band names.

Spoon + The Knife

Bombay Bicycle Club + Tokyo Police Club

Hot Hot Heat + Cold Cave

The Thrills + The Kills + The Stills

White Rabbits + Frightened Rabbit

Ratatat + Ra Ra Riot + Yeah Yeah Yeahs + O No Ono

Sleigh Bells + Broken Bells @ the Rock the Bells Festival

Vampire Weekend + Fang Island

The Hold Steady + Harlem Shakes

The Walkmen + Run DMC

The Microphones + The Cheap Speakers

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Phil Davison, GOP Candidate

"Okay, your campaign manager, I gotta give you some advice: right now you're at a six. Can you bring on up to a ten?"

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Kings of Leon

The opening images from the above music video made me think "has Kings of Leon made their very own 'African Child?'" Not really, but so continues my love/hate relationship with this band.

To me, they'll never top Aha Shake Heartbreak. They were hailed as "the southern Strokes," and you could see why. Then they went touring with U2 and adopting aspects of their sound, which is great for everybody who digs U2. I do not.

So every time they come out with a new album, I'm disappointed. "It's no Aha Shake," I think to myself. But then I listen to it some more, and I think "It's no Aha Shake, but it's still a pretty good Kings of Leon album."

And strange race-relations music video aside, I dig this single. I've heard the band talk about how a lot of this new album comes from the Aha Shake era, which leads me to believe I'm not the only one who misses that vibe. Bring it back, you crazy sons of a preacher man.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sergio Leone's Arcade Fire Music Video

My Body is a Cage from JT Helms on Vimeo.

Arcade Fire + Sergio Leone = indie rock cowboy opera.

Leone's Once Upon A Time In The West might be my favorite of his films, and my favorite western period. Regardless, it's not an easy one to recommend. The viewer has to be down with Leone's snail pacing, his tight close-ups on squinty faces, and his overall broadness of scope. But damn, is it ever worth it.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Life Commercial - "Protein"

We've come a long way. Not in our cereals, but in how we pronounce the word "protein."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Facebook is evil.

Facebook is evil. Reason #418: people you don't know well or haven't spoken to in many years comment crassly on your inherently-meaningless internet activity.

I responded quickly, and in anger, and it was wrong. Here's what I should have said:

I'm sorry. Let me help you understand WTF I'm saying: it's funny because "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World" is a film that just came out, so what I did was reference Billy Pilgrim, another fictional person with the same last name, from the widely-known novel "Slaughterhouse Five" by Kurt Vonnegut.

No? Okay, I guess I'll just go back to being an unimportant part of your life, therefore incapable of ruining any aspect of it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

P-o-t-a-t-o-e Jr. is running for Congress.

One of my earliest memories is standing in line with my Mom while she waited to vote for Dukakis in '88. I remember giggling because "Dukakis" sounded like "caca." Poop humor is the apex of comedy when you're two. That, and funny faces, and tickling, and Murphy Brown. I loved Murphy Brown. After Bush won the election, I wrote a little ditty entitled "Barbara Bush lives up your tush," which I know my Dad taped me singing, which means there's a lost recording of my first poem floating around somewhere.

Anyway, Ben Quayle is one bad-ass mother:

alternative campaign video:

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Epic Douchebaggery

Achtung, this video is not suitable for work or play:

So, you've watched the clip and now maybe you're thinking, "Why? Why would you choose to share this girl's performance with friends you supposedly care about? With strangers even? You're not a good person, Rennie." The only semi-reasonable defense I have is: it's fascinating, isn't it? Watch it a few times. Allow it to claw against your brainpan. No sarcasm here: I'm drawn to this video in the same way that I'm obsessed with Thomas Kinkade paintings and Howard Roark monologues and all things that ring so absolutely totally fucking hollow that you can't help but respect them, almost.

I'm jealous that I'll never be as blindly self-assured and confident in my art as the girl in this video. I don't foresee a day when I'll stand in front of a well-manicured audience, bravely spurting nefarious liquids from my vagina. And I think we can all agree that this is a good thing. Finally, insecurity works in my favor! It's comforting to know exactly who you don't want to be, even if you're not entirely sure who you are. You know?


Amusing website!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Basil Marseaux for Governor

I would not vote for this man.

Apparently this is not a joke, unlike that awesome Yo Yo Master.

Check out Basil's YouTube channel.

God bless us, we say amen, have a good day. See you at the polls. Have a good day.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Also, this blog is in serious need of some GIFs

Pee Wee Herman
this one is relevant to every moment of my life.

How am I not myself?

This is what happens when you spend too long writing insincere cover letters.

There Are No Men Out There

You taking notes, ladies?

Kanye West Tweets As New Yorker Cartoon Captions

I'd like to consider myself a trend-setter, since Kanye West joined Twitter a few days after I did. He "tweets" with such frequency and delivers such hilarious gems, I naturally had to start following him. (I have a growing suspicion that it's actually Tracy Morgan tweeting for him...)
And now some genius has taken his tweets and put them as captions for New Yorker cartoons. Priceless.
You're great, internet.
Check them out here!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Things Hobos and Moms Say

  • Don't you hate it when you get a shopping cart with a wonky wheel?
  • And who's this charming young lady? Aren't you going to introduce me?
  • Don't worry, honey: daddy will eat whatever you can't finish.
  • I'll be right here waiting for you after school.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Testament to the Scene

Our good friend Allen is a super funny comedian. Recently we had the bizarre experience of doing a set directly after Louis C.K, one of the biggest names in stand-up right now. His experience is both inspiring and a worthy portrayal of that warm-fuzzy feeling that comedy is capable of delivering every now and then.

Read it here.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

One More "Inception" Post

This video was found by Matt Schwartz. Blowing my mind into tiny fragments.

Monday, July 26, 2010

In Response to David's "Inception" Post

Pretty much sums it up. They could've cut out the clunky dialogue (i.e. all of the dialogue) and just given me an hour of Joseph Gordon-Levitt battling anonymous men in zero gravity and I would've been satisfied.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Inception - SPOILERS

I saw Inception over a week ago, and my thoughts continue to evolve, particularly about the ending.

I need to see it again, but my gut reaction to the last shot was "it won't stop spinning." I was content thinking the whole movie had been an elaborate dream that Cobb was having, and that Mal (his dead wife) had been right all along. He needed to wake up.

But after contemplating further, it felt like there was too much back-stepping justification to truly commit to that theory. For example: isn't it strange that we only see one small part of Cobb's house, both in "dream" and "reality?" And that when he does finally see his kids, they're once again in the backyard, in very similar clothes and positions? And can we really trust the logic of totems, when it's a concept he'd altered in order to "incept" Mal about the slipperiness of reality?

Regardless of all these questions, I feel like if director Chris Nolan wanted me to land hard on a specific interpretation, he would have given it. Judging from his past films, namely Momento and the Prestige, Nolan tends to reveal the true twist. Leaving the ending of Inception so open has more to do with broader notions of the film's themes, and less about making an either/or decision.

Cobb's dismissal of the totem should be more important than if it truly stops or not. Cobb finally deals with his horrible guilt, by confronting the shadowy version of Mal and making the choice to move on. His perception of himself and his situation changes, much like Fischer's own relationship with his father. In each case, their own personal reality has been altered. It's as if Cobb "incepts" himself.

That creepy old man in the strange opium/dream basement sums it up nicely: "Their dream has become their reality. Who are we to say otherwise?" We each have our own reality, and we just witnessed Cobb finally committing to his own.

If you want to read this theory as explained by a person much smarter than myself, I highly suggest this post. Here's a quote that I dig:

In the end, in absolving himself of the guilt, Cobb realizes it’s rectifying your inner reality, not the outer one, which is most important. With this movie we get bogged down by questions of what is and what isn’t concrete reality and that is all beside the point. It’s only the reality of one’s own mind that matters. The reality you believe to be is the only reality that exists.

With that in mind, wouldn't it have been terrible if we saw the totem fall?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dream Home

The LA Times website is currently profiling a bunch of unique homes, one of which really caught my attention.

I want to go to there.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ra Ra Riot - The Orchard

Ra Ra Riot "Too Dramatic" (Preview) from Barsuk Records on Vimeo.

I love this band. The first time I saw Ra Ra Riot live was at a dinky little space at my college, and since then they've graduated to larger venues like the El Rey, another venue in which I witnessed them rock the house with their string-infused brand of buoyant indie rock.

I was trying to figure out why I haven't written about them yet, and realized they haven't released an album since 2008, making them ineligible for the "Best of '09" list from last year. Little did I know that they spent that year on a farm, recording their forthcoming album "Orchard."

The album comes out next month. Did I mention I'm pumped?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ferris Club

The Ferris Club trailer shows off genius-grade video editing that surfaces the latent multiple personality disorder narrative lurking in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. You'll never watch Broderick's finest performance the same way again.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Rest Transparently in the Spirit that Gives You Rise

I'm doing the best I can to fully absorb the above lecture (split into six parts) given by David Milch at USC.

Solely to help myself understand it better, below I've summarized one of the most interesting segments:

Kierkegaard (who Milch refers to as "half a whack-job") once wrote that "purity of heart is to will a single idea." That single idea should inform everything you do and govern all your behavior (religious example: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you fully live by that one teaching, you've gained religious purity in the eyes of Krazy Kierky!) Once you achieve this, and all of your actions are born out of this single idea, then "the self rests transparently in the spirit that gives you rise." This is a fancy way of saying that while you are your own singular thing, you're also everything that helped make you. In other words, everything that created you and got you to your current state is still a very visible part of you, therefore you transparently exist with it/rest in it.

A lovely Milch quote: "Despite your seeming separateness, there radiates with a perfect clarity the soul of the universe which created you. There's a paradoxical doubleness of seeming separate from each other yet radiating through each other. That's the state of grace, and I would submit that's also the state of art." Whoever is viewing art has come to see something that "seemed to be separate entities as informed by a single unity." In other words, there's a lot that goes into shaping a single piece of entertainment. It's one thing, made by many people. There's a struggle to "will a single idea" in what the artist creates, a struggle similar to what Kierkagaard was talking about.

So Milch asks the big question: "How does the artist reconcile with the competing plains between addressing a large audience and staying true to the internal logic and spiritual conflict of the story he's telling? Is it possible to do that?"

That's all I have the energy to mull over right now, but suffice it to say that I strongly recommend giving this lecture a listen.

The Social Network

As excited as I am about this movie, I worry about how it'll change my perceptions of a web service I use almost every day. In true Fincher fashion, I might get pretty sad. And in true Sorkin fashion, I might hate cocky assholes even more.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Grain & Gram

Grain & Gram: Nick Sambrato, Printmaker from Grain & Gram on Vimeo.

Some day, I wish to be both interesting and well-dressed enough to be featured on the classy website Grain & Gram, which describes themselves as "The New Gentleman's Journal."

So far, they've only featured two dudes, and in comparison to the second, the first piece seems overly concerned with design and less with substance (with such probing questions as "black or brown shoes?") Thankfully, the combination of interview, graphics, photos and video profiling printmaker and entrepreneur Nick Sambrato supremely deliver on what I believe is this website's main ambition: to capture the modern gentleman.

Reading about Nick's work ethic and seeing his no-frills-fashion sense certainly gives all us creative types something to aspire to.

If Grain & Gram keeps this up, they just might make a gentleman out of me.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Broken Bells Video With Christina Hedricks

Broken Bells - The Ghost Inside OFFICIAL VIDEO (Protein Exclusive) from Protein® on Vimeo.

Great interview with Christina Hendricks in the LA Times Magazine section.

Double Rainbow, All The Way.

Believe it or not, this guy has more than one video of himself checking out rainbows and having incredible reactions.

Hey, actors! For those of you who think this might work great as an audition monologue, I couldn't agree more! So here's all of his transcribed dialog for you:

Woah, that's a full rainbow. All the way. Double rainbow, oh my god. It's a double rainbow all the way.

Woah, that's so intense. Woah, man.

Woah. Wo-o-ah. Wo-ho-ho-ho. Oh my god, OH MY GOD! WOOOOOOOO! OH MY GOD! Oh my-wow! Wooooooooo! YEAH! Oh my! Oh my gaaaah! Oh my god, look at that.

It's starting to look like a TRIPLE rainbow. Oh my god, it's FULL-on, double rainbow all the way across the sky. Oh my god. Oh my gah-ha-ha. Oh, god. [Sobbing]

What does this mean? Ohhhh. Oh my god. Ohhhhh. Oh. God.

It's so bright! Oh my god! It's so bright and vivid! Ahhhhh! Ahhhh! AHHH! It's so beautiful. [Sobbing] Aha ha. Oh my god.

[Gasp] Oh my god, it's a double complete rainbow. Oh - my - fucking - god [laughter]. Oh my god [laughter and sniffle].

Does it mean? [Laughter] Too much! Tell me what it means! [Gasps for breath].

Oh my god. It's so intense.

Oh. Ah. Oh my god.

Sir Ian McKellen

Sir Ian talks about everything from the current state of The Hobbit film to past boyfriends. Delightful.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Mad (Republican) Tea Party

I don't know what impresses me more: how much they nailed the look and feel of the original "Alice in Wonderland," or that is capable of witty political satire.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Traffic Camera Photo of Alleged Russian Spies On The Run

As reported by the LA Times, several suspects in the search for alleged Russian spies have vanished. Hopefully this new photo of two suspects (taken by a traffic camera earlier today) will aid the authorities in their investigation.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Advice For Your Next Staff Meeting

Just because I work on an animated cartoon doesn't mean it's all fun and games around the office. We still have very important staff meetings, and thanks to the example set by my coworkers, I'm learning a great deal about how things work.

Here's some advice for your next staff meeting:
  • If a tardy coworker is trying to enter a meeting without being disruptive, it's best to announce their presence by making little trumpet noises with your mouth.
  • Do not indulge in "pity laughter" when somebody tries to lighten the mood. Instead, acknowledge their attempt at humor by enthusiastically saying "oh, laughter!"
  • The higher the volume of your voice, the more people know you care about whatever you're saying. This applies both in and out of the board room.
  • If two coworkers start to talk over each other, it's helpful to select the quieter one and say to him "shut your mouth. You shut your mouth right now."
  • Everybody in the room may think they're the most important member of the team, but it's actually you. Yes, you.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

You Look Like A Tramp

According to the LA Times, a recent fashion show heavily used Charlie Chaplin's "Little Tramp" character and his film "Modern Times" for inspiration, landing the whole thing somewhere between "ridiculous" and "awesome." The slideshow is worth a peep.
The article speculates that fashion designer John Gailliano actually aims at making a statement about our own modern times through his use of the Tramp. More interestingly, it seems to fit in with a current trend in the world of high fashion- the use of "post-industrial" backdrops and themes.

Is the prevalence of these gritty, concrete spaces intended as commentary on the state of the industry or simply a matter of cheaper venues?

It's probably a little bit of both.

I like that Chaplin was mined for both his political commentary and his knack for creating a visually striking "look" for himself. I could write more about how much I respect this man, or about how the first time I ever fell out of my seat from laughter was at a Chaplin short, but I think I'd rather let him "speak" for himself.