Turkey Day SoulMix
Happy Thanksgiving! I've been slacking on the SoulMixes but the BIRP! site has helped me out a lot. Here's the November mix for you to enjoy this long weekend.
Happy Thanksgiving! I've been slacking on the SoulMixes but the BIRP! site has helped me out a lot. Here's the November mix for you to enjoy this long weekend.
I couldn't really find anything I was loving this week so I decided to give the Tryout to Greg Hester. I've only listened to a couple of songs so far but it seems like he's the type of act that you'd see at a small venue or bar, really like, but then never think about after that evening.
As for other albums, the initial listen to Them Crooked Vultures was a bit disappointing. Animal Collective has a new EP although I've never been able to grasp why they are so popular. Pitchfork loves Real Estate and didn't like Orenda Fink but I feel like they are about equal; I'm not really all that interested by either. Hush Arbors might have a decent album but I haven't really been able to give it a listen.
In the end, nothing this week seems like it's going to know Port O'Brien off of heavy rotation on my Itunes. The one album that I thought really might have a chance was Travis' Singles collection but after listening to a few I realized that I have completely fallen off of the Travis bandwagon. Not that I dislike them but the songs just don't really do anything for me anymore.
As I was going through a list of all of the movies released in this decade, I'm sad to say that I found that I found myself passing over a lot of good titles because I hadn't seen them yet but loading up my list of god awful films that I'd wasted my life on. And this isn't to say that this decade had a lot of shocking disappointments, I just decided to invest my time in a lot of terrible movies. The reason is because usually when I watch these films I'm lying around, sometimes hungover, other times just not wanting to use my brain. Enter HBO/Cinemax/Starz and their constant barrage of nonsense. How else can you explain why I've watched "Silent Hill"? Twice.
Anyway, I did manage to catch a few of the great movies of this decade and here is my top 10:10. Mulholland Drive
I'm pretty set with that list although I might want to move "The Lives of Others" up there and I swear there are a couple of other films that I might have overlooked. (And no, The Dark Knight isn't one of them.)
As for the worst of the 00's, it was a bit tougher. Some movies were hurt because of their hype. I don't think I can really call Atonement "one of the worst movies of the decade" but I really have no idea how it got nominated for best picture. I hated "The Savages" and "Margot at the Wedding" but there was just enough talent on display to keep them off of the list. I also discounted flicks that I had the good sense to turn off before finishing (count your lucky stars, "Fool's Gold" and "Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever").
On a side note, the WTF?! Movie of the Decade is "Sunshine". Two-Thirds of the film seems like it is trying to be a "2001"-type atmospheric movie and then it switches gears and becomes a remake of "Event Horizon". It's really bizarre. I've never been watching a movie and then suddenly started trying to remember if I had changed the channel. It's a great film for discussion because the beginning sets up a number of interesting possibilities but then it almost literally devolves into a brain dead slasher movie.
I'm sure there are a lot of movies that I'm missing but here are the Unlucky 13 I'm going with for now.Honorable Mention: Femme Fatale: I know I wrote that I wouldn't include films that I hadn't seen all the way through but this one is the exception. The worst thing a bad movie can do is inspire the thought "Why are we watching this?" I've been to more than one crowded party in which everyone was talking and nobody was paying one iota of attention to the TV until this movie came on and then almost everyone started asking, "What the fuck is this?". People angrily asked, "Why is that on?!" like they were offended that the mere presence of this movie in their peripheral vision. Any movie that can get guys to quickly turn the channel off of a half-naked Rebecca Romijn deserves a mention.
I hope that the campy trend comes to an end and people stop trying to make films intentionally bad so they are funny (I see you "The Happening"). How about people try to make actual quality films this next decade, OK? And if they don't want to do that, at least they could supply the general public with a quick best of reel like this one from the horrific "The Wicker Man" so we can get the gist of the stupidity but not have to waste our time on the actual movie itself.
If Mike D'Antoni really cared about winning this season, he'd probably be very upset with the way his team is playing. The Knicks are currently just 2 - 9 but they are also probably the best 4th quarter team in the NBA. Yes, it helps that their crappy play in the first three quarters gets teams to stop hustling but the Knicks have a knack for turning it on in the final frame. They've outscored their opponents in the last quarter in eight of their eleven games and in seven of those eight, it's been a double digit advantage. All told, the Knicks have outscored their opponents by 57 points in the 4th.
Again, there is a bit of the comical "We got them right where we want them!" aspect to it since they are usually losing by so much but there does seem to be something odd going on there. It's not as if they think they can coast and come back to win; they've only one two games. It's clearly not a winning strategy. As bad as the Knicks are, they are better than they are playing in the first three quarters (although probably not as good as they play in the 4th).
It should be interesting to see if the Knicks can keep this up or if anyone on the team or the organization even notices since they are all more focused on saving money for the offseason so they can go after LeBron.
With Semi-Pro and Land of the Lost tanking, it's not a surprise than Will Ferrell is #1 on this year's Overpaid Actors list over at Forbes. After that, there are a few people that I didn't think would be on the list. Ewen McGregor is #2; obviously his movies don't make money but I didn't know that people were still giving him a legit salary to appear in their films. I thought the Star Wars hangover wore off after The Island. #3 was also a head scratcher as it was Billy Bob Thornton. I don't even remember him appearing in any films lately. Eddie Murphy's Meet Dave probably single-handedly got him the #4 spot with Ice Cube following right behind him. The Bottom 5 were: Tom Cruise, Drew Barrymore, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, and Jim Carrey.
The actor who brought back the most money for every dollar he was paid was Shia LeBeouf, although I think that has more to do with his jumping onto megafranchises like Transformers and Indiana Jones than his own actual drawing power. (Although Eagle Eye did end up making 100 million so he's got something going for him).
The Onion AV Club recently published their list of Best Shows in the first decade of the 20th Century. The list is OK but I can't say that I agree with a lot of what they say. First off, they give a lot of shows credit for just having one great season, ala Deadwood and Veronica Mars (and, to me, Lost). The Veronica Mars inclusion might be the worst (well, besides Buffy which was basically over by the time 2000 rolled around) because they try to defend the choice by arguing that the second season was "paid off brilliantly" even though I don't think I've ever met anyone who liked how the season concluded.
Still, the list got me thinking, what would I say was the best television of this first decade of the new millennium? (The opening disclaimer is the best show that I actually watched. I didn't see Battlestar Gallactica and haven't been able to get itno Mad Men so those and many others won't be on the list.)
The first and, in my opinion, most obvious debate is at the top. The Wire vs. The Sopranos vs. The Shield. I know that a lot of people wouldn't put The Shield up there with those two but that show was a bit more accessible than the HBO shows and, most importantly, never had a down season. I don't think any show has done as good of a job adding new characters and keeping up the intensity like Shawn Ryan's LAPD story. I know I might get a lot of flack from people but I'd actually go with:
#1. The Wire
#2. The Shield
#3. The Sopranos
The last couple seasons in Jersey disappointed me. There was a lot of filler and a number of storylines dragged on a lot farther than they should have (while many others just were never tied up).
#4. The West Wing: I really don't know how the Onion had this ranked at #30. Even if you don't count the first season (which premiered in 1999) and subtract points for the end of the series which clearly wasn't as strong as the earlier years, the show still has some of the best writing on TV in the decade. Even better, most of the great moments in the show are still relevant to what is being discussed today. The arguments over gay rights, the Middle East, etc. are powerful and still better than anything that even Obama could deliver. Honestly, I might even slip it into the #3 spot over The Sopranos.
The next debate IMO is over the best comedy. You have The Office (UK), 30 Rock, Arrested Development, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. I'm sure some people might throw in Family Guy but I really haven't watched enough of it to weigh in on it. I know I'm in the minority on this one but I have the fifth show being:
#5: 30 Rock: Again, I know I'm in the minority but this is one of the few shows that I watch religiously and it always deliver. Well, almost always, last week's episode might have been the worst of the show's run. After that, it's a tough call. Curb's had the longest run but can you blame Ricky Gervais for quitting before the show got stale? In the end, I might go with:
#6: Curb Your Enthusiasm
#7. Arrested Development
#8. The Office (UK)
At number 9, I think I have to go with a show that wasn't always consistent, definitely didn't run very long, but cemented its place in the Pop Culture and inserted the word "bitch" into everyone's vocabulary.
#9. Chappelle's Show
At this point, I'm sure the twelve readers of this site are probably grousing about the shows that I've left off or are threatening to swear off the blog if I don't name their favorite show as #10 but, again, I have to give myself an out and say that I haven't watched a lot of the so-called great TV shows. I've seen about five minutes of "24" and it included Jack Bauer coaxing a retarded guy into getting a message or something. I saw parts of "Freaks and Geeks" but all I ever remember is John Bonham dying (and if that's a spoiler then you should really should be listening to more music rather than watching TV). As I said, I haven't watched enough of "Family Guy" and I don't think I watched much "South Park" either. I want to say "Dexter" but the Jimmy Smits season killed me and I quit watching after that. I loved early season "Entourage" but I can't defend pretty much everything after Medellin. I never watched "Six Feet Under". So in honor of you readers, fair and few, the #10 slot will be reader's choice.
If there's a genre a music that I would call say I'm most into right now, it would be post rock. The ambient instrumental music of Explosions in the Sky is probably the most notable example (they scored Friday Night Lights) and there are other groups like Mono out there that are also on heavy rotation on my ITunes. Apparently, Do Make Say Think is a post rock band and their latest album is good but not as good as their older records. And seeing as that I've never heard of them, I decided to give the old stuff a listen. Not too shabby. Their sounds seems lo-fi-ish or maybe just not as full as bands like Mono and Explosions in the Sky but maybe I just haven't heard enough yet.
People seem to really like the album called Album from the band called Girls but it's just not clicking with me. Not bad, just not something I see myself wanting to listen to very often.
The Cribs albums is good but it seems like they maybe an album or two away from really breaking through. Then again, they may be one of those bands that always drop two or three really good songs per album but never put it together for one cohesive set.
The BIRP! free music download introduced me to Parts & Labor and I'm kind of digging their 2008 offering.
In the end, I decided to go with Port O'Brien's new album "Threadbare". It came out a month or so ago and I think I might have heard a few of the songs here and there but after giving the album a full listen, I've become a fan. Another reason I'm a fan is because, according to Pitchfork, "At Port O'Brien's core are part-time musicians Van Pierszalowski and Cambria Goodwin, who work every summer in Alaska-- he on his dad's commercial salmon fishing boat and she as a baker in little Larsen Bay's only cannery." Talk about indie music.
If I ever decide to waste time and form a pop punk band, I will definitely be covering Sour Milk/Salt Water (as well as Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful") but that's a different discussion altogether.
There's no way that this is going to be as good as Band of Brothers, simply because "Band" is one of the best things ever captured on film. Still, I'm ridiculously excited for the complementary piece based on the war in Japan, "The Pacific".
Hopefully Friday the 13th won't be unlucky for me but it might just be close to my last stand on betting. The obvious choice for the Bet of the Day is the Dallas Mavericks -11 over the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Wolves are 1 - 8 and have lost their last three games by an average of 25 points. The Mavs are 5 - 3 and are coming off of a loss so they should be fired up. The one thing that scares me a bit is that the Wolves burned me once, playing the Celtics close and only losing by 2. This definitely seems like it could be a trap game. However, Minny is without their leading scorer and main offensive threat Al Jefferson. Will this bring the team together or just make a weak team completely punchless? I'm betting big on the latter, putting $150 on the Mavs.
I'm also feeling good about my four team parlay on Friday: Raptors +3.5 over the Clippers, Blazers -1 over the Hornets (hoping that the end of the Byron Scott Era doesn't perk them up), Lakers +4 against the Nuggets, and the Rockets -4 over the Kings. I should probably have learned now to not bet against the Kevin Martinless Kings but third times a charm, right?
I'm also going to try my hand at some NHL betting, just 5 bucks to try to win $50. I'm going with Chicago -1.5 over Toronto, Islanders +1.5 over Carolina, and the Blue Jackets -1.5 over Anaheim.
Everyone knew that Brandon Jennings had talent but the fact that he's gone from Euro-disappointment to NBA stalwart is somewhat surprising. Even more surprising is that he's doing it under the watch of Scott Skiles who has been tough on his point guards. Some people see Jennings starting as a given but Skiles was the guy who just last year stuck with Luke Ridnour over Ramon Sessions (Don't mention this to Wolves GM David Kahn; he signed Sessions and passed on Brandon twice in the draft). Jennings' development has been fun to watch and I'm sure that a number of high schoolers are going to seriously consider the overseas options if he continues his strong play.
Quitting gambling might be one of my New Year's Resolutions the way things are going right now. I just keep picking the wrong games. I also haven't been using my betting system which was working well and I didn't use it again this weekend.
Anyway, I've been ice cold the last couple of weekends when it comes to the NFL but I think I should be coming around. My $50 dollar parlay is Ravens -10.5 over Cleveland, Miami -10 over Tampa Bay, and Denver -3.5 over the Redskins.
As for my 10 dollar 11 team progressive parlay, I have those three games and: Bengals +7 over Pittsburgh, Titans -6.5 over Buffalo, Falcons -1.5 over Carolina, Jets -6.5 over Jacksonville, Vikings 16.5 over Detroit, Saints -10.5 over St. Louis, Arizona -9 over Seattle, and (obviously) the Patriots +3 over Indianapolis.
Usually when people becomes "fans" of something on Facebook, I just ignore it. But a few weeks ago, a coworker became a fan of the Blalock Indie Rock Playlist and, being a lover of making mixtapes, I decided to see what was up with this one. I am very glad that I did.
In what has to be highly illegal, BIRP posts a list of a hundred or so songs every month that you can download for free. Now, like with all indie rocks lists, there's a lot of blah. A lot of songs just float into the background. Many bands seem like they are just ripping off a better indie group. But there are a few gems in there. One of my favorite songs right now is That Is Not My Home by Alec Ounsworth; a song I probably would have never discovered had it not been for BIRP.
So anyway, enough typing by me; just click on the pic below and get taken over to the musical goodness that is BIRP!
Michael Steele continues to exemplify everything that is wrong with modern politics. Yesterday, he outright explained that politicians need to be loyal to their party, not the people who actually elected them.
“Candidates who live in moderate to slightly liberal districts have got to walk a little bit carefully here, because you do not want to put yourself in a position where you’re crossing that line on conservative principles, fiscal principles, because we’ll come after you. You’re gonna find yourself in a very tough hole if you’re arguing for the president’s stimulus plan or Nancy Pelosi’s health plan.”
His position seems to have as much to do with the people supporting the plans as it does that actual plans themselves. I'm reaching new levels of hopelessness when it comes to politicians. The Left can't get out of its own way while the Right seems to be playing to the extremist factions of the party. And I'm really questioning whether Obama made the right choice when he decided to make health care essentially the first major move of his presidency. Maybe he should have focused on the economy and tackled some smaller issues at the start, because right now, the Dems are a mess and can't seem to even agree on their own message.
And, of course, lost in all of this is the actual people.
I'm just sayin'
My luck at betting has really fallen apart. I could see the Thunder ruining my parlay by sticking with the Lakers but the Celtics really let me down by throwing up a stinker against the Wolves. And friggin' Mike Bell's fumble turned a push into a straight up L for me since it allowed the Falcons to kick a late field goal to beat the spread.
Anyway, Thursday is my day to bet on the upcoming NFL games and I've chosen two three team parlays. I bet 50 bucks on Seahawks -10 over Detroit, Indy -9 over Houston, and San Francisco -4 over Tennessee. 40 bucks went towards a parlay of Cowboys +3 over Philly, Packers -9.5 over Tampa Bay, and Atlanta -10 over Washington.
Hopefully I'll pull through with a win because if I don't, the Bet of the Day feature here might have to become purely hypothetical from here on out.
One game into his stint as a Memphis Grizzly, Allen Iverson is unhappy.
"No. I'm not a bench player. I'm not a sixth man," Iverson added. 'Look at my resume and that'll show I'm not a sixth man. I don't think it has anything to do with me being selfish. It's just who I am. I don't want to change what gave me all the success that I've had since I've been in this league. I'm not a sixth man. And that's that."
Now, in Iverson's defense, I watched the game and he most certainly should have been in the game. He's a better fit for Lionel Hollins' coaching style, which consists of little more than just picking which five players to send in the game, and he would have done more than poor Mike Conley Jr. who often seems to be the only guy on the floor who is actually trying to run an offense.
That being said, the attitude is still depressing. At this point in his career, Allen Iverson is most certainly a sixth man on a winning team. He's perfect for a second unit but he's still too much of a freelance artist to be starting on a legit contender. The success of which Iverson speaks is almost totally individual accolades and certainly not team success. (Although, who signs with the Grizzlies and thinks about team success). I was hoping the Iverson could turn the page and enter the new stage in his career but it seems like he still believes that he is a vital weapon rather than a complementary piece.
A.I. has been one of the most entertaining players of his generation but it looks like his career is going to have an ugly ending.
As a diehard basketball fan, I often bemoan the fact that nobody likes to watch hoops. After subjecting myself to the Grizzlies/Kings and Clippers/Timberwolves games, I can't say that I blame people for skipping out on the NBA. Honestly, even the Celtics/Hornets game seemed more about miscues and mastery. The NBA right now is in the middle of a changing of the guard and the new class of player isn't coming along as quickly as one would hope (or expect since most of them were forced into a year of college).
The NFL, on the other hand, seems to be proceeding nicely with their new class. Guys like Maurice Jones-Drew and Chris Johnson are taking off and a number of youngsters like Brian Cushing or Jerod Mayo are quickly making a name for themselves. Hell, even a supposed no-name like Brandon McGowan is winning fans with his hard hitting style of play.
Thankfully, the Celtics don't seem to be having the same problem as the rest of the NBA. I've been a pretty harsh critic of Rajon Rondo but I have to say that I'm glad that the Celtics locked him up. I am a bit nervous about how the team is going to afford to keep Ray Allen around next year. Still, it's nice to have a guy that looks to be a future top point guard at a reasonable enough rate.
Oh, and about the Hornets. A lot of people will blame Byron Scott for what's going on there but he's not the only one to blame. Look at that roster; they really aren't that good. Julian Wright didn't really get all that much better yet he somehow went from bench fodder to starter. Emeka Okafor is a rich man's Kendrick Perkins, only if said rich man is Daniel Snyder. People can whine all they want about an age limit but Okafor hasn't improved much in the league while the prep star Dwight Howard continues to get better, despite pretending to go to a college class.
Elsewhere, people should definitely try to take in a Knicks game (if they are ever on) to catch Danilo Gallinari. I'm not going to say that the Knicks were right to take him so high but he's quite the shooter. I'm just not sure what else he does. Still, he went from being an outright bust (ala Joe Alexander) to a guy who could prove the critics wrong. Also, don't miss Clyde Frazier calling a game. Now that Walton is gone, Frazier may be alone atop the list of best announcers to listen to for a laugh. Where else are you going to hear a point guard described as having "feline quickness".
If you want to hear some homers, check out the Grizzlies (or better yet, don't). Those guys find the bright side of any black hole. Rudy Gay missed a key free throw late in the game and their response was to complement the Grizz on how well they have shot free throws as a team that game.
I wanted to check out some Clippers games this year but it's tough to watch such a waste of talent. For all the talk of problems with young players, it seems like the coaching might be what's fallen the most in the league. I can't remember seeing so many boneheaded plays and just completely mismanaged rosters like this year (and we're only a few games in).
Maybe I'm getting a little ahead of myself but any overstated ideas in this little rant are dedicated to Bill Walton. He was always entertaining to listen to, even if he contradicted himself and didn't seem to take things seriously.
While "Sainthood" is one of my least favorite Tegan & Sara albums, that's not saying much since I love all of their previous work. Also, some of their songs take time to grow on you; I wasn't completely sold on "The Con" when it came out and now I love it.
Most people would probably direct me towards Regina Spektor's latest album as the latest tryout but I'm going to stick with my faves. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the album and definitely recommend listening to their previous albums.