Saturday, January 27, 2007

Born to Gaze into Night Skies

Wincing the Night Away - The Shins

Garden State had to be a blessing and a curse for The Shins. On one hand you have Natalie Portman claiming the band’s song, New Slang, will change your life which is some pretty lofty praise. But on the other hand, it sets up almost unreachable expectations and failed to, at the very least, change my life. Although it has been three years since Portman’s declaration and four since the band has last put out an album and now is set for their biggest release Wincing the Night Away, a title that may come from singer and guitarist’s James Russell Mercer bouts with insomnia which could also be credited to being the inspiration for the opening track Sleeping Lessons.

Whereas most bands would have tried to go more mainstream after all the hoopla surrounding the exposure in Garden State, The Shins not only decided to stay with indie label Sub Pop instead of signing with a major label like many of their peers in recent years, but the ended up making an album more experimental then in the past. Wincing the Night Away is even darker at times than previous album too which, aside from the insomnia, could also have been inspired by Mercer’s house being robbed including the masters of New Slang. In a bit of irony, that song was licensed for a McDonald’s commercial, the money Mercer used to buy the house where the masters were stolen.

It’s not surprising that insomnia is a major inspiration for the album because it is at it’s best when you are listening to it at night with little light as the synthesizers pour over you while you teeter in half awake, half dream territory. The best here is the soothing Phantom Limb, the funky Sea Legs, and the closer A Comet Appears which is the most stripped down song here and a good way to end the album. But don’t expect any song on Wincing the Night Away to change your life, unless you are on whatever drugs Natalie Portman’s character was on during the Garden State.

Song to Download - A Comet Appears

Wincing the Night Away gets a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Come Fly Away with Me

Every once in a while I get contacted by major marketing companies that sends along some cool news and has even lead to some cool opportunities like giving away a Knights of Prosperity t-shirt to one of you. The latest is for a DVD that comes out next week, January 30th, Flyboys. I don't ever recalling hearing about this movie before, maybe it's a straight to video type deals, but the movie looks right up my alley as I am a big history buff especially when it comes to war movies. Here is the product description, "Inspired by the true story of the legendary Lafayette Escadrille, this action-packed epic tells the tale of America's first fighter pilots. These courageous young men distinguish themselves in a manner that none before them had dared, becoming true heroes who experience triumph, tragedy, love, and loss amid the chaos of World War I. Hang on for the ride of your life!" To commemorate the release of the DVD, they are running a cool contest:

Win the chance to fly in a real air-to-air combat scenario with Air Combat USA!
Submit video content, photos or written stories to our special Flyboys MySpace Group!

- Show your respect and appreciation to our American Veterans by submitting photos, uplifting stories (written or video testimonials) to the Flyboys MySpace Group. Highlight your own personal experience, a friend, or a family member who is a Veteran or current service person.

- Eugene Bullard, made history in the Lafayette Flying Corps as the first African-American aviator. As a part of Black History Month, submit written stories, video testimonials, and pictures of how African American leaders (or moments in African American History) have affected or shaped your life.

- Do you know a volunteer who makes a difference in your community (fire fighters, red cross volunteers, etc)? Tell us their story in either in written or video format and why they should be honored.

To learn more about the movie an other contests check the Flyboys Official Online Team. Below are some stills from the movie:





Thursday, January 25, 2007

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

Okay, the title is a little sarcastic because I fully believe that it should only snow on December 24th, two to three inches, and melt by the 26th. Instead it was snowing when I woke up today and the ground was already completely white and it rarely stopped all day netting about five inches so far with a chance of more to come. Yippee. Shoveling today made it twice for this winter which was the exact amount I did the last two winters. What happened to this global warming that Al Gore went on and on about? Do I need to buy a bigger SUV to keep it from snowing again? Should I shell out for a Hummer?

What’s worse that actually looking out your window while the snow piles up is driving through it. I though I would be saved from having to trek all the way out to class tonight because all the snow but the cancellation didn’t come. Is there a worse feeling then hearing all the school closings and yours is the only one missing? I remember in grade school our superintendent had his own snow plow so he would refuse to close down our school system. One time we were out at the bus stop after every other school had closed and he actually drove by with his plow and said school was just going to be delayed one hour while he finished plowing.

But back to driving in the snow, I know all you Sammy Hagars out there can’t drive 55 but when visibility is less than a hundred yards could you please avoid weaving threw traffic like you were part of the Turn Left Only Circuit at Daytona on a clear day in the summer? Seriously, if you have a death wish can you please just put the shotgun in your mouth so you don’t take any innocent bystanders with you? Because instead of getting to your destination a whole two and a half minutes early what you actually end up doing is make everyone behind you late after you bring the traffic to a halt while the police scrap the remains of your car off the highway divider.

There are reasons why the government set speed limits the way they do and it’s not solely to spite you because you are too lazy to leave on time. If you have a lead foot you need something to take your mind off needing to break the law, you can always try listening to Have You Ever Been Mellow, look how well it worked for Dean O’Dell. Personally with all the driving I’ll be doing the next couple months I plan on passing the time listening to my main CD collection, which is already alphabetically ordered, all the way through. After two weeks I have been threw eight albums and is up to the self titled Audioslave album. Maybe I’ll give a prize to anyone who can guess the eight albums I have already listened to. Just a hint, I don’t have any Greatest Hits, Soundtracks, Live albums, or Compilations in my main collection.

Oh and by prize, I mean a pat on the back. And by pat on the back I mean a virtual pat on the back.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I Like This Show, it’s Tawdry week 4

Meat Is MurderWow, now that was an exciting State of the Union speech. Just kidding, of course I was watching the new episode of Veronica Mars. Although I did flip over during commercials and was I smoking something illegal or was that Dikembe Mutombo sitting next to Laura Bush? That’s pretty random. But back to show that didn’t give you that creepy feeling that if anything were to happen to George Bush or Dick Cheney that Nancy Pelosi would be the president, Veronica Mars. If you missed the episode, head over to where you can stream the episode for free or hop over to iTunes where you can download it. While over at iTunes, check out the Official Veronica Mars Podcast to hear who was supposed to be the “Meat Is Murder” rocker and why the monkey (as in “Touch My…”) looked so familiar from the writers of the episode.

So six week have gone by in Neptune also and Lamb in Lamb fashion was quickly ruled Dean O’Dell’s death a suicide because, well, it’s more work if you have to track down a killer. And how nice of his widow to decide to find out if it was really a suicide not right away, but after realizing she was going to run out of money fast since life insurance doesn’t cover suicide. Of course the bottle of Scotch that the Dean was adamant about saving remained unopened leading Keith to take the case. Although this brings up the question; since the case was closed a couple weeks ago, why is the Dean’s office untouched?

Rockin Canadian styleBut this episode really wasn’t about the Dean’s death, no, it was more about mocking our lovely neighbors to the north. It’s great to know in a time of political correctness and when someone says something stupid, equally stupid people come out in droves calling for their firing that it is still perfectly okay to make fun of Canadians, eh? I had the watch the scene again people I was laughing way to hard when Ronnie fired up the Barenaked Ladies and the subsequence dance by the girls. Although I was a little disappointed that back in my college years that I never thought aboot picking Canada for the Around the World; put on some Barenaked Ladies, have some Molson on ice and the latest NHL game for the Playstation all while wearing a hockey jersey.

Dick being DickEqually as entertaining was Dick’s idea of a good time even if it brought back memories of random dude’s junk appearing on my camera back in college. This episode actually brought up even more bad memories for me most notably Piz’s soliloquy to Ronnie that inspired her to go back to Logan even though everybody but Ronnie knew it was about her. I don’t even want to count how many times my speechifying moved a girl to hook up wit a dude that wasn’t me. Also bringing back bad memories was when the plant lady complained about the temperature and said, “If you wanted to see my nipples you should just ask” prompting the dude to raise his hand only for the chick to ignore him. Again, that type of exchanged has happened way too many time. Ladies if you offer, you have to come threw with your threat.

Speaking of Vee running back to Logan, may I point out; Vee with uber-bangs, Logan breaks up with her; Vee without uber-bangs, Logan takes her back. Not a coincidence. On more of this phenomenon, check out my Public Service Announcement. But hopefully this getting back together stuff doesn’t last long because Dick is right about Logan when he is with Ronnie, personally I prefer my Logan as an obligatory psychotic jackass. Will hookers be the final straw for Ronnie; or now that Ronnie seems to figure out what Piz’s speech was really about she will finally ditch Logan for good. Whatever the reason, hopefully it happens. Those two characters are much more entertaining apart.

Keith and LandryMy Way out Theory of the Week: Professor Landry did it. This is way out there in that it is too obvious. Maybe this mystery will be less about who did it like previous one, but instead how they did it and got away with it. I’m really rooting for this after the scene with Landry and Keith in the bar where Keith tried to get some sort of confession while Landry just swatted him like a fly. Them playing this cat and mouse game for the next couple episodes could be more entertaining than your usual who-done-it style.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I Like My Heroes to Be Honest and Strong

Freedom's Road - John Mellencamp

Long before Puff Daddy morphed into Diddy with forty name changes in-between, there was Johnny Cougar who is better known today as John Mellencamp. Unlike Puffy, who name changes may be to avoid being associated with his last failure of and album, Mellencamp had to do with shady management and shadier record companies. Throughout the eighties, Mellencamp played second fiddle to Bruce Springsteen when it came for being a voice for the working class and much like The Boss he is still around giving a voice to Middle America.

During the eighties, Mellencamp built his following looking at the underbelly of Reaganomics with anthems like Pink Houses releasing five albums during his presidency. Things have gotten much worse during the Bush era but Mellencamp has been conspicuously absent during the time taking his longest break between records, so there is plenty of material for Mellencamp on his latest album, and first since 2001, Freedom’s Road.

Undoubtedly you have heard the first single from the album and if you watch football I’m sure you are sick of My Country already. Luckily the song it stuck near the end of the album song you are already immersed in it and the song almost sounds fresh again. The rest of the album is much like My Country in that it isn’t overtly political so the songs don’t sound preachy, but if you want to be preached all you have to do is listen closely to the lyrics. Mellencamp saves his most biting commentary for the hidden track Rodeo Clown, but the drunken pool hall sing-a-long may even have the most ardent Bush backers humming along.

That’s not to say the album is even close to perfect, most notably The Americans with it’s overtly simplistic and patriotic lyrics sounds like something that was written by a fifth grader, well or Toby Keith. Aside from The Americans, the rest of Freedom’s Road spends its time giving mention to things that have gone unmentioned for way too long. Ghost Towns Along the Highway deals with the vanishing small towns across the nation. The title track reminds us that sometime people hide behind the word Freedom. Jim Crow, a duet with Joan Baez, is how racism has changed in post 9/11 America. Then Rural Road is a sad story about drugs, abduction, and murder in a small town and how the press deals with it all. Hopefully Mellencamp doesn’t wait as long for his next album as there are only two years left in this administration. Granted there is always Jeb ’08.

Song to Download - Ghost Towns Along the Highway

Freedom’s Road gets a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Apple iTunes

Monday, January 22, 2007

I Didn’t Come Here Looking for Trouble; I Just Came to Do the Super Bowl Shuffle

Before I wax poetic about the Super Bowl match up, I would like all of you to check out this post: Are You Ready for Some Football 2006 and scroll down to bottom. Okay for those who are too lazy, the post from back in September I predicted a Colts vs. Bears Super Bowl. So suck it Line Junkie and everyone else who laughed at me for picking Chicago or told me Peyton Manning couldn’t win the big game, which is one of the worst sports superlatives; it’s not that someone can’t win a big game, it is just someone else beat them. But enough of the gloating.

Of course now we have to wait eight weeks until they actually play the championship game, wait, what’s that? It is only college football that waits two months after the regular season to play the championship game. Sorry. Granted two weeks it kind of a wait in itself especially considering I’ll stop caring about the game by Thursday at the latest and will be anticipating the commercials more than the game. Although my interest may be extended a couple days if the Chicago Bears remake the Super Bowl Shuffle. Seriously, who doesn’t want to see Rex Grossman don a headband and try rapping? And really no one could be worse than The Fridge (of course the video is on YouTube, scroll down to the bottom of the post to see it). And is it basically a lock to see George Wendt on Saturday Night Live in two weeks? So before I stop caring, here’s my pick, and since I had them in the preseason, I’ll stay with Indianapolis 27-12 over Chicago.

However the close the game is, and they rarely are, the game can’t be as close as the championship game for my fantasy football league where I lost by half a point. What only added to the agony was that vaunted Cincinnati wide receiver Chad Johnson netted me negative one fantasy points in the finale. So had I just sat him and had and empty slot at the position I would be champion.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

57 Channels and Only This Is On vol. III

Quote of the Week: “Last week I had a gang-banger tagging a dumpster. T looked so real the rival gang came in and shot him again.” (John Waters as a funeral director on My Name Is Earl)

Song of the Week: Humpty Dance (My Name Is Earl)

Big News of the Week: Stream the latest episodes of Veronica Mars, Everybody Hates Chris, Beauty and the Geek, Supernatural, Girlfriends, All of Us, The Game and One Tree Hill over at Right now you can watch the last three or four episodes of the shows. The latest episodes will be up the day after it airs.

I gave the viewer a test drive and it’s much better than say (which I routinely have problems with). The video can go larger than ABC or NBC but not complete full screen like CBS’s Innertube. It says that the video quality is near HDTV but my monitor isn’t so I really can’t tell but overall it is one of the best video experience on the web from the one video I watched.. And unlike the big three there are not even limited commercial breaks (yet).

I’m From Rolling Stone: I never knew that Wait (The Whisper Song) by the Ying Tang Twins was available in karaoke version. I’ll have to check out if old school misogynistic songs are know available because what group of guys wouldn’t like jumping onstage to give a rousing drunken rendition of Automobile.

Beauty and the Geek: A sad week as not only did Misfit get the boot on The (White) Rapper Show but Andrea Ciliberti didn’t survive the elimination round this week. Cue up It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday. And with her exit, Friday Night Lights is back to the must see show at that timeslot.

Let's Rob Mick Jagger: If I were to pick a theme song for my crime syndicate, I’d go with Take the Money in Run, not only is it a much better song than Tom Sawyer it has the built in hand claps that can help in building team unity.

Smallville: Even though he was The Flash Impulse first, it’s hard to see Beaver Casablancas as a good guy. And what was up with the medieval hairdo? Well he was recruited by a Robin Hood wannabe. After this episode I’m ready for the end of Smallville and a Justice League spin-off. Get rid of Martha, Lionel, and Lois, move Lex and Lana to recurring and keep the Clark, Green Arrow, Cyborg, Auqaman, Impulse, with Chloe holding down the fort at headquarters.

My Name Is Earl: John Waters as a funeral director may have been the best stunt casting of the year. Every one of his lines had me cracking up. Though an Honorable mention to Randy’s, “I’ve never had a legal massage before. What’s the point; it’s like drinking non-alcoholic beer.”

Pick of the Week: Veronica Mars, 9:00 Tuesday, The CW: After around two months of waiting Mars Investigation dives into the Dean O’Dell murder investigation. Personally I can’t wait to see Lamb’s reaction to the Dean’s murder mirrors a certain “Plan a Perfect Murder” paper (It’s safe to assume that that is how the Dean was killed and Ronnie wrote that paper, right?). Since this is the start of the new mystery arc, anyone can jump right in with little confusion. And since there is absolutely nothing else on against it (The State of the union will be broadcast on all the other stations, and since he spoke just last week, there won’t be anything new to say), might as well give Veronica Mars a try. Extra reason for all the dudes to watch; the possibility of Veronica getting naked as seen in this clip from the episode:

Promo of the Week: Of course it coincides with the Pick of the Week, a little more to wet your Veronica Mars appetite, really how can you go wrong with seduction, shame, and scandal?: