My photo
Athens, Ohio, United States
"Art and love are the same thing. It's the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Moment of the Decade #1

Now that we've reached the end of the 00's (2000's? Nothins'?) it's time to start counting what rocked and what sucked about the decade that we all came of age in. This was a decade that contained both my first kiss and first caramel frappuccino and I want to honor it.

Instead of the usual top ten lists and recaps, I'll take things in a different and probably less satisfying direction. I'm going to present, in no particular order, the moments that stick out most in my mind from this past decade.

These won't be real-life events like the time Tom Cruise jumped on Oprah's couch or the time M. Night Shyamalan took an actual shit on celluloid. These will be moments from the content of pop culture, itself. Scenes, chapters, lines of dialogue, chord progressions, etc.

We'll start off with a scene from one of the most strangely underrated movies of the decade.

Avner and Louis - Munich

Here is a scene from Steven Spielberg's Munich in which Israeli assassin Avner (Eric Bana) meets with his French informant Louis (Mathieu Almalric) in Paris. Avner and his merry band of killers, demolition experts and accountants have been cutting a bloody path across Europe, bringing Jewish vengeance to the Israeli athletes killed in the 1973 Olympics terrorist attacks.

Read screenwriter Tony Kushner's brilliant depiction of the scene. Then do yourself a favor and do it again.

Avner is standing in front of the display, which has been changed -- a new but still beautiful modern kitchen. Behind him, reflected in the glass, he sees Robert, walking-towards him, smiling gently. They make eye contact through the reflection. Robert seems to be standing right behind Avner. He's asking Avner something, either moving his lips or it's just a question in his eyes.

It will be beautiful. Eventually

Avner places his hand over Robert's face. Then he turns. Louis is standing there. Avner stares at Louis, hard. Louis takes a handkerchief out of his pocket, then reaches past Avner to wipe away the handprint that Avner's left on the plate glass window.

Ali Hassan Salameh is in Tarifa, on the Spanish coast. He's in a compound guarded by all the
predictable trouble.

Avner doesn't respond, staring a Louis as if not seeing him.

Bomb makers often die accidental deaths.
( shrugs )
In Athens, you shot a KGB agent. Many people must want t o kill you, Monsieur Storsch. But why would I do that? You pay better than anyone.
A beat.

It ' s dangerous, going after Salameh. But he planned the Munich massacre. Eliminate him and they'll let you go home. Don't you think?

They look at one another.

Yes, Louis. I do. They smile at one another, not friendly, but, Avner having acknowledged his affiliation, both know that this is the end of their business together.

You could have a kitchen like this someday. It costs dearly. Home always does.

Politicians, talking heads and public school teachers have been trying to explain to me why those silly people in the Middle East have been killing each other for so long. And I never understood any of their reasonings or rationales.

When I saw this scene, it all finally made sense. Here is Avner, a man who has been killing human beings in the name of his country and is nearing the end of sanity. He is standing in front of the sanitary, safe and ultimately corny representation of home that Western culture has built. Then Louis says "You could have a kitchen like this someday. It costs dearly. Home always does."

And suddenly it all makes sense.

Regardless of how sanitary, safe and corny it may be, every man, woman and child on Earth would give almost anything for that elusive concept of home. Especially when they believe they are entitled to it.

There it is: the reason for the Middle East crisis in three lines or less.

Maybe some people can understand the socio-political reasons for Arabs and Jews fighting each other. But I can't. And I need Hollywood and Tony Kushner to lend me a helping hand. In that moment I understood exactly why those silly people are dying in that far off land.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

One for Now and One for a VH1 Recap Special

First of all, I'd like to apologize for my little outburst just earlier. I wrote that just last week but it will appear just below this post so in the mind's eye, this will have occurred immediately after the previous one. History will never know (unless history pays attention to time stamps on blogs) that I had a full week to recover from my meltdown. So let's pretend that my post JUST HAPPENED (to quote Ricky Bobby).

Sorry to Twitter users! Sorry to anyone looking for legitimate readable content! Sorry to mom and dad for using "fuck" in a blog title!

Anyway, let's move on with our lives.

It's the end of the decade which can only mean one thing...LISTS! LISTS! LISTS! OMG! OMG! LISTS! OMFG! LISTS!

I am a complete list whore. I think the only reason I started a blog is to compile mind-numbingly boring top ten lists at the end of the year that no one really wants to read. Thankfully, Journalism classes have beaten the idea that top ten lists are a good thing so the Internet will not be subjected to any of my mundane lists.

That doesn't mean my love for end-of-the-decade lists has waned in the slightest. In fact I would like to call your attention to a couple of interesting ones that I have discovered.

- The first one is the A.V Club's list of the best Television shows of the decade.

For some reason television seems a lot easier to draw a consensus on than movies in the modern era. I imagine that many lists in the coming month will look nearly identical to the A.V Club's list.

It is essentially perfect.

I do have a few gripes (Futurama's inclusion, South Park and Chappelle's Shows' omissions and two AMC shows back-t0-back immediately come to mind) but most people won't look at this list and think "they're way off." The Wire is the best show of the decade. Arrested Development is the best comedy. Mad Men is showing potential to reach Sopranos-esque levels and The U.K Office is ranked perfectly in relation to the U.S Office.

It really feels like a true consensus on TV's can be reached and the same certainly cannot be said for film or music in the 2000s. Does this mean that television is our most prominent pop-cultural art form of the decade? I would certainly argue for it. But I can't prove it...and you probably wouldn't believe me anyway.

- Next up is the Alternative Press' list of the best songs of the decade.

For as definitive as the A.V Club's list was, this one feels as subjective. Per the AP's M.O, the list features almost exclusive punk, alternative and emo fare with a little bit of hipster shit sprinkled in. Obviously the list was going to be inherently biased based only under those guidelines. We certainly weren't going to see "Single Ladies" or "Lose Yourself" on this list.

Even with that in mind, there seems to be a bizarre heir of subjectivity to AP's declaration. This, however, doesn't mean I don't love lots of it. Here's a snapshot of what's working for me.

99. Cursive – “Art Is Hard”
82. Brand New – “Jesus Christ”
75. Green Day – “Jesus Of Suburbia”
63. AFI – “Girl’s Not Grey”
47. My Chemical Romance – “Welcome To The Black Parade”
46. Against Me – “Thrash Unreal”
45. The Used – “A Box Full Of Sharp Objects”
37. Panic! At The Disco – “I Write Sins Not Tragedies”
33. Silversun Pickups – “Lazy Eye”
32. New Found Glory – “My Friends Over You”
31. Brand New – “Sic Transit Gloria…Glory Fades”
30. AFI – “Miss Murder”
25. The All-American Rejects – “Move Along”
24. Green Day – “American Idiot”
22. Brand New – “The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows”
14. Brand New – “Jude Law And A Semester Abroad”
13. The Gaslight Anthem – “The ‘59 Sound”
12. Jimmy Eat World – “Bleed America”
11. Blink-182 – “All The Small Things”
8. My Chemical Romance – “Helena”
4. Fall Out Boy – “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down”
3. Jimmy Eat World – “Sweetness”
2. My Chemical Romance – “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)”

If I had to reconstruct my own top ten list based purely on what AP featured it would probably look like this:

10. My Chemical Romance - "I'm Not Okay"
9. Brand New - "Jude Law and the Semester Abroad"
8. Blink 182 - "All the Small Things"
7. AFI - "Girls Not Grey"
6. Cursive - "Art is Hard"
5. My Chemical Romance - "Welcome to the Black Parade"
4. Against Me! - "Thrash Unreal"
3. Jimmy Eat World - "Bleed America"
2. Green Day - "Jesus of Suburbia"
1. My Chemical Romance - "Helena"

I can get behind any list that I can construct into that top ten. Also, I would like to live in a world in which an MCR song is the second best song of an entire decade. I can only hope that years from now after Western culture has fallen, archaeologists will find this list and believe that My Chemical Romance was on par with the Beatles.

- But forget about the future, let's talk about the RIGHT NOW.

This might be the best music video I've seen in years. Watch it and try to come up with a compelling argument why Lady Gaga WON'T be the new Queen of Popular Music for years to come. Go on, I dare you.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fuck Twitter

I know Twitter is usually used for micro-blogging but Twitter is stupid SO....

I hate writing research papers.

That will be all for now.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Show Me What You Got

When can we stop calling television shows "television" shows?

I watch plenty of serialized programming: the sublimely charming Glee, the blatantly awful but somehow still watchable Heroes and the infinitely interesting Dexter - but I watch none of them on an actual television. I'll watch them on Hulu, Surfthechannel, Ninjavideo or any other source of questionable legality (don't tell on me).

I own a television, everyone I know owns a television, but not everyone actually ever uses it. Aside from flipping on Sportscenter to quell my crushing loneliness in the morning of waking up alone in a Single dorm room, my TV mostly serves to fill space on the wall next to my refrigerator.

I could use this opportunity to speak about how the Internet is changing our lives but fuck, my professors get paid a lot of money to do that. And I'm sure the target audience on this blog (i.e 3 of my friends and around 4 OU students who stumbled upon it while Googling "synthetic dog steak") really doesn't feel like being instructed on the future by someone who has no better idea of WHAT-IT-ALL-MEANS than they, themselves, do.

So let's talk about what's actually on TV instead.

I usually try to avoid sweeping statements that I will certainly regret later BUUUUUUUUUT....I think NBC's "Must See TV" might have made a sneaky, and largely inadvertent comeback.

Thursday nights features perhaps the most solid 2 hours of comedy on television since Seinfeld signs off. I think this has largely gone unnoticed because everyone (aside from Entertainment Weekly employees) does everything but watch TV on Thursday nights. Sure, many people will watch The Office and 30 Rock, perhaps even Community or Parks and Recreation if they're feeling dangerous...but they won't watch them all straight through or on the night they first air.

It's kind of a shame, though, because if anyone actually sat down for 2 straight hours on a Thursday night then NBC might make a comeback...or at least buy back some love that they lost when they bungled the whole Leno-O'Brien situation.

The Peacock has built up quite a line-up for itself.

8:00 - Community - This got off to a bit of a rough start but has really blossomed of late. Chevy Chase still doesn't quite work for me but Joel McHale is an undeniable star. I don't think Community will ultimately last (see: Neilsen Ratings) but when it dies McHale's career had better take off...or I'll quit humanity forever. His speech about "Shark Week" in the pilot episode is a work of comic genius.

8:30 - Parks and Recreation - Parks and Recreation took off this year and it did it by following a simple concept. More Office, less Parks and Recreation. Characters are now better-defined, funnier and more vibrant and Greg Daniels and Michael Schurr have focused on character-based comedy far more than plot-based comedy (the fact that everyone inexplicably hates the elderly "Jerry" kills me). And aside from being a solidly funny show, Parks and Rec is blessed with good timing, being a show about the inner-workings of small-town government in an age where healthcare is about to become a public entity. NOTE: Do not read into my politics at all on this, I am passing no judgements. Nothing is a bigger drag than having to talk about politics when all I really want to do is express my love for Aziz Ansari and Rashida Jones' smile.

9:00 - The Office - The wedding episode was so good that it should have been the series finale. Just sayin'...

9:30 - 30 Rock - Here is the semi-embarrassing part about not watching shows directly when they air. Usually when one watches a show on television it is a public experience and everyone laughs and interacts together. When one watches a show on a laptop, it is a very solitary experience (twelve people gathered around a MacBook Pro is rather awkward). So I automatically try to refrain from laughter when watching shows alone. 30 Rock is the show that defies my attempts not to laugh most frequently. Just give it the freaking Emmy again now.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Getting Texty

I could not partake in Halloween this year due to my job.

Thankfully, I have friends. And thankfully they have cell phones.

GINA - Dempe has taped a piece of cardboard over his crotch that says "dick flap"
GINA - alex just called Adam a "bisexual fuck." ...I might be the only one textingyou.
ADAM - Oh no.
VINCE - Your bro is doing excellent
GINA - Adam is Houdini and vince is drinking from a measuring cup.
GINA - We lost alex. I just saw Arthur
ADAM - i am talking to your brother. please let me train him.
ADAM - Tell ian no. trust me.
GINA - Annnnnnd Adam is puking
GINA - Alex is helping a young lad get medical attention. Everyone else is roaming arou d the house.
STEPHANIE - We are coming to you. Where should we go?
ADAM - Be careful.
STEPHANIE - Okay will try to stop them from coming
ELLEN - Ian is w/Steph and fine, no worries.
ADAM - I don't know. send him to 7tatue.
ADAM - Where is ian.
STEPHANIE - Brother its me can we come yet
ADAM - Check i an now.
ADAM - Oh boy. tel me hen back.