Category Archives: Editorials

How I Learned to Let Go of Oscar

I don’t have a television, because, as I told Bassey, that’s something the employed have. Normally, this is not a problem. And my feelings on the Oscars I have already made plain. I still think inviting diehard Eurotrip fans would fix everything.

And yet. We still wish it could be something, the small, very small part of us that lingers on a Baldwin making a joke about the Baldwins, as the channels go by. Okay, maybe we just love a guaranteed trainwreck, if famous people are going to be in it, even if it happens at approximately three miles an hour.

So, it was in this milieu that I decided, as penance for my recent blogging absence, I would seek out the true spirit of Award Season, wherever it may hide. The results show the darker side of life through Oscar’s eyes.

Oscar the Grouch

It might have been a good idea to plan this more than an hour in advance. Needless to say, the two sure-fire TV owners were not home. The Wilson Ave laundromat, my usual TV source, was stuck on Spanish soaps. No matter, the Internet led me to Williamsburg, which you might think would be the place least likely to care about the Oscars. True, it was a lederhosen-only affair, but that only increased my foolish yearning to find entertainment value in this somehow.

Skipping down Lorimer Street to a band that was really cool three years ago in a clearance Gap coat, I brought shame upon the hallowed night I sought, even ten contiguous states of irony away. I ignored the glances from all around that seemed to say, “We have far more important places to skulk to than a Oscar party, but if we were going to one, we would not even slow down going by if we saw you through the window.”

More determined than ever, I tried to remember if I had seen any of these movies besides Up and the 45 minutes of Avatar I saw before, delirious with Sigorney Weaver and 3-D aggravated flu, I sat somewhere quiet and had an acute episode of not vomiting.

Sighing a little in contentment at not needing to even make an effort not to vomit at the moment, I reached Pete’s Candy Store. Yes, that’s a bar.

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Movie Monday: Charlie Wilson’s War

Purchase | Netflix | HD Trailer

Keep Your Eye On The Ball

“Why is Congress saying one thing and doing nothing?” asks Joanne Herring, wealthy Texas socialite played by Julia Roberts in Charlie Wilson’s War. “Well, tradition mostly,” replies Tom Hanks in the lead role as the recently deceased Congressman Charles Wilson. Given the present political impasse on Capitol Hill you might think Ms. Herring is referring to current health care reform efforts, which will be the topic of discussion this Thursday during Obama’s big televised “summit” meeting. It seems like the line could also refer to just about anything, implied by Wilson’s response. In fact, the film is set in the 1980s and tells the true story of the most expensive covert operation by the American government (that we know of). Such incisive, poignant dialogue matched with solid, straightforward filmmaking and an all-star cast makes Charlie Wilson’s War the most dangerous political drama to come out of Hollywood in the last decade.

Charlie Wilson’s War is especially effective because it’s a subversive exposé on American politics wrapped in a pretty Hollywood package. It’s got sex, drugs and political intrigue, a minor reference to then U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Rudolph Giuliani, not to mention Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts and the always-awesome Philip Seymour Hoffman. Aaron Sorkin—well known for his careful handling of American politics in films like A Few Good Men and television series like The West Wing—excellently adapts the story from George Crile’s 2003 book. Director Mike Nichols brings Sorkin’s scintillating script to life with a modest yet skillful approach.

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Can We Have Brahms Without Raisins?

The Hype Goes On. Without us, I mean. For today, anyway. Call it a boycott. We tried to sound the alarms, but they did not listen. Apparently we will have to be fleet of finger and track down the goods ourselves.

I was encouraged by the two of you who clicked on my latest attempt at bridging the high and low to ponder, can classical music be blogged? Would anyone care if it were?

You must watch this immediately.

Now, you may have been compelled to click Related Videos. There is exactly one live performance of Johannes Brahms there. It is a terribly recorded youth symphony. There is a nice close-up of a timpani roll at the start, however. The roll is remarkably smooth and sensitive given the performer’s age.

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No Hype Machine Like the Super Bowl – Can America Still Belt it Out?

So, technically, I didn’t watch this, but my roommate did!

This is not a new thought, but it is a thought nonetheless: People, in the stands, used to sing the national anthem. Now they politely watch some celebrity do it. Probably with live autotuning.

Is this a problem?

Anyway, here are some American minstrels. Are they good? Let’s find out:

Charles Bissell – It Ends With A Fall

This is a little gimmicky in its lo-fi-ness, but there’s some meat underneath.

Friendly Fires – Hold On (Holy Ghost! cover)

This is just plain awesome.

And a Nigerian. But Nneka was on the TV, just like football! I’m not really a fan of this song, but she rocked out on Letterman:

Nneka – Heartbeat

How to Make a Best-Blogging Remix

Nine of the top 15 most-popular songs on Hype Machine right now are disco remixes. There is nothing wrong with disco remixes, except everything.

You are confused. Who cares if someone makes a bad remix?

I cannot answer this question.

I will, however, detail this enemy to artistic effort and nuance with the most effortful and nuanced of blog posts: A how-to!

How to Make a Remix and Maximize Your Pan-Flashing and Feedback-Looping Quotients:

  1. Choose a song that hasn’t been remixed yet that is either: a) topping the Billboard charts, or b) the Hype Machine charts.
  2. Steal Reason and some samples.
  3. Slap together a few loops.
  4. Make Important Decisions:

Will the synth hits be on the beat or off?

Will the song have a rising echo that overtakes the verse to get to the chorus?  If so, how many times?

Will the sampled song end after the hi-hats and bass end or before? Maybe we should end with that Jens Lekman finger cymbal. No one’s done that yet.

Now blast it off to as many hype machine blogs as your email program can handle, and you, too, can resound across the blogodrome!

Movie Monday: Parnassus is Pure Gilliam

The best place to catch me on a Friday at midnight during my high school days in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, besides a random house party, was a small one-screen independent movie house called The Times Cinema on West Vliet Street. A local college radio station, WMSE 91.7 Frontier Radio, sponsored the weekly late-night cult screenings known as The Midnight Movie. This was almost always a fun time; the atmosphere was relaxed and the audience would randomly shout stuff during the film.

You can imagine my friends and I occasionally preempted these nights with illicit drug use. One evening I found myself unable to handle the bizarre visuals/plot of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil while intoxicated. Before walking home I had a chat (in my mind) with the life-size plastic statue of Alfred Hitchcock that stands in the theatre lobby. I wonder what inanimate Hitchcock would think of Gilliam’s latest opus, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus? Personally, I think it’s worth a trip to the temple.

In his initial encounter with the Devil aka Mr. Nick—played brilliantly by music legend Tom Waits — the title character claims, “You can’t stop stories being told.” Mr. Nick replies, “That’s a weak hypothesis.” If you know about Gilliam’s production difficulties you can see how close this statement hits home. As such, the film is Gilliam’s most personal to date. Parnassus’ much-ignored traveling show is analogous to the ex-Python member’s filmmaking career. In the film Parnassus is compelled to enlist the help of the mendacious Tony — Heath Ledger’s final role — in order to stop his daughter from being handed over to the Devil on her sixteenth birthday. In real life Gilliam must deal with slimy studio executives to get his films produced and distributed.

If art did not imitate life what would be its purpose? Pure entertainment, I guess. Since we have more than enough of that these days, I’m rooting for sincerity, complexity and visual poetry—all reasons I enjoy this film. Most critics quibble over its confusing plot. That the film is somewhat hard to follow is an assertion I’m not going to refute. But aren’t easy narratives boring and kind of annoying? When I go to the cinema I don’t want to be spoon-fed. I want to be entertained, but I also want to think.

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The Grammy's: 2010 Viewing Awards

I’m not a music person, I’m a TV person, so I can say with the utmost authority that The Grammys are the worst of the televised awards during Awards Season. They lack the opulence of the Oscars, the inferiority complex of The Emmys, or the inebriation of the Golden Globes. There’s no buzz surrounding who might win, and the outfits usually don’t merit a next-day critique. Jay-Z wore a tux. It fit. Blah.

Still, there are musical performances by famous people who perform music, and awards are handed out. So in the spirit of precise and meaningless award-giving–the Grammys purpose for being–I present you with the The Viewing Awards, Grammy Edition.

Earliest Reminder that the Grammys Have a Much Older Demographic than the VMAs
Lady Gaga’s bloodless opening performance

Worst Attempt by Stephen Colbert to Make Jay-Z Crack A Smile

“What up, Z?”

Best Attempt by Stephen Colbert to Make Jay-Z Crack a Smile

“Oh, did you not get one of these?” After pulling an iPad out of his suit jacket

Ugliest Dress Ever in the History of Dresses
Kristen Bell in a mock turtleneck dress with a triangle neckline cut out

Best Marriage of 1996 + 2010
Beyonce performing Alanis Morrisette

Most Awkward Presenting Pair
A darling Norah Jones and a drunk Ringo Starr

Most Charming Presenting Pair
A delightfully bantering Mos Def and Placido Domingo

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