22 December, 2010

My Favorite Holiday Movies

In honor of the holiday season here is a list of my favorite holiday movies. Are your favorites here?

By the way, this is no particular order.

10. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

Why? Because Beaker flips Scrooge the bird. Besides, who doesn't love Jim Henson's Muppets.

09. Gremlins (1984)

Why? Do you really have to ask. This is a holiday classic.

08. Scrooged (1988)

Why? Bill Murray. Not to mention Bobcat Goldthwait and Carol Kane. Hilarity.

07. Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas (1977)

Why? It's a heartwarming story about an otter who tries to make Christmas better by entering his jug-band in a talent contest. Jim Henson was the man.

06. Elf (2003)

Why? Hilarious and heartwarming at the same time. Will Ferrell is a riot. James Caan is completely rotten. Zooey Deschanel is fantastic and we get to hear her sing. If only we didn't have to listen to Mary Steenburgen sing.

05. Eight Crazy Nights (2002)

Why? Because Adam Sandler is funny even when he's animated. Wait, when isn't Adam Sandler animated?

04. Prep & Landing (2009)

Why? Because, that's why. It's something different and it was highly entertaining. Two problems, it was over to fast and I can't find it on DVD.

03. Die Hard (1988)

Why? This could be the best Christmas movie ever made. Yeah, it's not technically a Christmas movie but really, does it get much better? Put the kids to bed and watch Bruce Willis blow shit up in what is still one of the best action movies out there. Not to mention, it features a Christmas song by Run D.M.C.

02. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Why? Because more than 15 years later it is as popular as ever, Jack Skellington is one of the greatest characters ever created, Tim Burton produced it and it has music by Danny Elfman. And, in case you were wondering, claymation is awesome.

01. Olive, the Other Reindeer (1999)

Why? Because its pretty odd but has fantastic voice talent including Joey Pants, Jay Mohr & Michael Stipe. I like the look of it. Its produced by Matt Groening. Mostly though, its because of Drew Barrymore who plays Olive.

12 September, 2010

Goodwill Hunting

I made a trip to Goodwill today. I love shopping thrift stores. There's one rule that you have to respect though when thrift store hunting, you have to be prepared to walk out with nothing. Some days you find nothing & some days you find a veritable treasure trove. This trip happened to be one of those days when the stars were aligned. In fact I'm going to tell you about my last 2 Goodwill trips because as far as entertainment shopping in thrift stores goes, these last 2 were the mother load. I'll start with my most recent. Also, you should understand that I'm not talking about a Goodwill store in NYC or even say, Tampa, in which you would expect to find a huge amount of ultra cool stuff. My Goodwill is located in a little place called Spring Hill, Florida. It's basically a retirement community although over the years since I was in high school, it has become more & more populated by families. Anyway, here goes.

01. Soul Asylum - Let Your Dim Light Shine (1995).

I actually don't know this album very well but I do love the first album by them & this one has "Just Like Anyone" on it which I love and not just because Claire Danes was in the video. I'll be giving this a listen in the next few days.

02. Weezer (The Blue Album) (1994).

This is another one I don't know much of. When it came out with "Undone - the Sweater song" as the lead single I wasn't impressed. I also wasn't a huge fan of the song "Buddy Holly" either. However "Say it ain't so" is fabulous. I've since grown to like "Undone" as well & have liked a lot of what they've released since.

03. 24 seasons One & Two (2001 & 2002).

I absolutely loved this show when it first came out. There was nothing like it. I did begin to lose track eventually thanks to Heroes being on at the same time. I'm looking forward to catching up thanks to Netflix instant streaming.

04. Forrest Gump special collector's edition (1994).

This is one of the best movies of my generation & an amazing performance by Tom Hanks, maybe the best of his career. And in case you were wondering, that's saying something. Oh, and in case you didn't read my blog about movies that make me cry, don't forget the tissue box while watching this one.

05. Harold & Kumar go to White Castle (2005).

Yeah, this movie is really funny. Plus, there's a great performance by Neil Patrick Harris playing himself.

Pretty good trip, no? Well here's what I got on the previous trip. This trip I didn't find any movies or TV shows but a bunch of good cds. Keep in mind that these are just the ones that I actually bought.

01. Corinne Bailey Rae (2006).

This is actually a really good album. I loved the song "Put Your Records On" & I had heard & liked the album opener, "Like a Star' as well but wasn't sure that this was an album I would like all the way through but I do. She has a fantastic voice.

02. Vanessa Carlton - Be not Nobody (2002).

I love the songs "A Thousand Miles" & "Ordinary Day" & also "White Houses" which is not on this album, but again wasn't sure that this would be something that I would listen to all the way through either. I do like it quite a bit though. Vanessa may not be Fiona Apple but that's ok. This is a good album.

03. Gwen Stefani - Love. Angel. Music. Baby. (2004).

I have been a Gwen Stefani fan since the video for No Doubt's Just a Girl was on constant repeat on MTV (remember when they actually played music on music television). The band is a bunch of great musicians but it's Gwen that made them who they are. I'm of the opinion that she is one of the great "front-people" in music history. It didn't surprise me that she did solo work and continued to be successful.

04. Ani Difranco - Little Plastic Castle (1998), Up Up Up Up Up Up (1999) & Dilate (1996).

Okay, so I probably shouldn't admit that I never really knew much of Ani's music other than 32 Flavors (which is an amazing song) but it's the truth. Boy was I missing out. All three of these CDS are good but Dilate is incredible. I've already listened to this cd quite a few times. "Untouchable Face", "Dilate" & "Joyful Girl" are all amazing songs worth listening to over & over again. This is quickly becoming one of my favorite albums.

Drum roll please...And now for what is possibly the GREATEST Goodwill find of all time...

05. The Presidents of the United States of America (1995).

First off, I should tell you that I can't believe that I haven't owned this before now. I'm ashamed really. "Peaches" is one of the great sing-along songs of my generation & when "Lump" comes on the radio I turn it up as loud as possible. I get excited like a kid pulling into Disney World. I even convinced my cover band to play "Lump" withing the first month that I joined the band. But, if you know those songs & love them but have never heard the rest of the album, you're missing out. Every song is that good. From the first ("Kitty") to the last ("Naked and Famous"). The songwriting is top notch although obviously quirky. It only becomes more impressive to know that they don't play normal guitars. One guy plays a 2 string & one guy plays a 3 string. This cd has pretty much been in the player since I walked out of the store & will stay there for quite some time. Thank you Goodwill.

10 August, 2010

Movies That Make Me Cry ( & I'm not afraid to admit it.)

The other night I sat down with my wife to watch The Curious Case of Benjamin Button finally. I had been wanting to see it for awhile but hadn't gotten around to it. When it finally came from Netflix it got put in the drawer and we kept passing over it for whatever we could stream through the PS3 because of it's length. It's pretty close to three hours long. But finally we decided to watch it. It's an intriguing story about a child this is born old and grows younger as time goes on. What a great character. Brad Pitt plays the part well and it is quite funny at times but yes, there will be tears. It got me thinking about some of the movies over the years that have reduced me to a blubbering idiot in front of various people who now have just slightly less respect for me as a man. Oh well, who cares. Everyone needs a good cry now & then.

5. Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan (1982)

Okay, this one may seem silly but the only thing I remember about this movie is that when I was a 6 year old kid watching this in the movie theater, every single person in the theater, not just me, was crying when Spock died. Okay, everyone except my father.

4. Toy Story 3 (2010)

First of all, I just want to mention that Toy Story is one of my favorite movies of all time. I'm a sucker for a story like that. It's a pretty emotional movie, which I think speaks to how great it is, that a grown man can be moved by a story about a bunch of toys. The animation was amazing for the time but it's the story & the characters that make it worth watching again & again. I also liked Toy Story 2. It was a good sequel, which is more than you can say for most sequels that have Disney's name on the cover. So when I heard that number three was in the works I was pretty excited although I was a little concerned with a small matter of who would do the voice of Slinky and whether or not ANYONE should. But, I'm a huge fan of the series and a father so inevitably I ended up at the theater to watch it. Take my advice, if you go see it bring a box of tissues or at least wear an extra shirt to dry your tears on because they WILL be flowing. If they don't, you're a heartless bastard.

3. Any movie in which at some point Clare Danes cries

Here's the thing, when Claire Danes cries there's this little like twitch in her chin. You've seen it. You may not have noticed but you have seen it. It was in Romeo & Juliet. It probably happened multiple times in My So-Called Life. It was probably most prominent in 1996's To Gillian on her 37th Birthday. I don't know why it is but when her chin starts twitching I start crying.

2. What Dreams May Come

This may be the saddest movie ever. There is tear inducing content throughout. I don't even want to talk about it.

1. Forrest Gump

What Dreams May Come may be the saddest overall movie of all time but I don't think there has ever been a single scene in a movie that brought the tear deluge like the scene in Forrest Gump when Forrest (Tom Hanks in his most brilliant performance in a career full of brilliant performances) is at the grave of the love of his life. This scene makes me pause the movie and go into another room to pull myself together before watching the rest. It's absolutely heart-wrenching.

31 July, 2010

Rolling Stone Magazine hates Eddie Vedder!

I've noticed an alarming trend. Okay, I'm probably exaggerating. A little. Maybe.

In my first blog I mentioned Rolling Stone's 500 greatest songs of all time. I believe that I noted that there were some things missing. The biggest missing feature in my opinion is Pearl Jam. Really?!? Not one of Pearl Jam's songs is worthy of being in the top 500?!? Before I go further, let me mention some of the songs that Rolling Stone magazine says are better than ANYTHING & EVERYTHING released by Pearl Jam. #246 Love Shack - The B-52's. I HATE this song. I realize that many people love it and I can see that it's sort of fun but there is no way it's one of the 500 best EVER. #174 Dancing Queen - Abba. Um, what?!? #118 Crazy in Love - Beyonce featuring Jay Z. I honestly don't know this song but I can't imagine anything by Beyonce being better than everything by Pearl Jam. #482 Since You've Been Gone - Kelly Clarkson. Um, no. If you started on American Idol you're immediately disqualified.

Also, on their website, Rolling Stone has a list of their 500 greatest singers. This is list of great singers. Not lyricists, performers, whatever. Singers. Guess who's missing. Yup, Eddie Vedder. Who is there, you ask. How about Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Morrisey. I don't want to take anything away from any of these people as artists or performers but let's face it, these are not the best singers. I love Bob Dylan, the man is a poet, but I don't have enough fingers and toes to count on to represent the number of times I've heard someone talk about not being able to listen to the guy because of his voice.

OK, here's the list...

10 Reasons that Rolling Stone should re-think their stance on Pearl Jam.

10. Ten. The greatest album of my generation. I know, Nirvana was ground breaking and unlike anything heard on mainstream radio and yes, they were the demise of 80's rock but I'll take Ten over Nevermind all day. Better musicianship, better vocals and emotional lyrics that came together in a perfect combination.

9. Into The Wild soundtrack. Proof that Eddie can do it alone if need be. It's stripped down and beautiful, especially the closing song Guaranteed.

8. Vs. Great songs and Eddie's voice goes from soft and touching (Elderly Woman Behind a Counter in a Small Town) to downright scolding (Blood, Leash). Not to mention the haunting closer Indifference.

7. Pearl Jam's cover of Bob Dylan's Masters of War. Here's the thing about this. I didn't know at the time that it was a Dylan song. What does that say about Vedder & Pearl Jam. I believed that the wrote the song about events that were going on in this country at the time. I've since found out more and heard the song and while it's good, it's nothing compared to PJ's version.

6. Riot Act. This is the album that brought me back. I'll admit, I HATE No Code. I can't listen to it. I think there's one good song on the whole album. So, I actually stopped listening to them. I liked songs when I heard them but I didn't buy. Then, for some reason, I bought Riot Act. It was a revelation. Like discovering one of my favorite bands all over again. This is a great album. It's a little more mellow than some of their other work but that's fine with me. Plus, Bu$hleager, although obviously political, which can sometimes turn me off, is poetry set to music.

5. Singles. These guys were so important at the time that Cameron Crow had them be in his movie. Just little parts but it worked to great effect. Not to mention the two fantastic songs that they contributed to a great soundtrack.

4. Longevity. If Kurt Cobain were still alive, and I wish he were, I don't think that Nirvana would have kept releasing music anywhere near the level they were at. Pearl Jam just keeps going with few missteps.

3. Unplugged. Do you remember seeing this. I do. It is probably still one of the best episodes of unplugged ever. If only they would release it.

2. The Jeremy Video. Probably my favorite video of all time. Visually it's stunning. The real weight of it though comes from the lyrics. This was especially powerful for those of us that had been listening to things like Poison & Motley Crue. Yeah, I did. So what. I did however have enough sense to realize that the times were changing and for the better. This song should have been on Rolling Stone's 500 greatest list.

1. Love Reign O'er Me. I knew the guy could sing but to hear them cover my favorite Who song and he absolutely nails it. Is Mick Jagger really a better singer? I don't think so.

17 July, 2010

Late Night Driving Music

I had a gig last night that kept me out until the wee hours of the morning. I don't think I got home until around 4 or 4:30 in the morning. Seems like this is a good time to list some of my favorite Cd's to listen to late at night on my way home from gigs. These are in no particular order.

#1. Kenna - Sacred Cow

This is what I put in last night. If you've never heard this, check it out. Good Stuff.

Favorite Tracks: Hellbent, Free Time, Red Man

#2. Iron & Wine - The Shepherd's Dog

I had never heard Iron & Wine when I found this CD on clearance at Target for like four bucks but had heard it was good so I bought it. It's not only good, it's great. I listen to it quite a bit. Especially late.

Favorite Tracks: Boy With a Coin, Peace Beneath the City, House by the Sea

#3. Soul Coughing - Irresistible Bliss

This is one of my all time favorite Cd's. It's not like anything else I've ever heard.

Favorite Tracks (for late night driving): Sleepless, How Many Cans?, Soundtrack to Mary, Lazybones

#4. Björk - Post

Another one of my all time favorites. Also, another one that's not like anything else out there. I love her voice. I love the production. I love the fact that when I started listening to her, most of my friends would ask what the hell it was (remember that I said that, there will be further posting on people saying what the hell are you listening to?).

Favorite Tracks: Possibly Maybe, Army of Me, Hyper Ballad, The Modern Things, It's Oh So Quiet