Thursday, December 30, 2010

Washing Machine by Sonic Youth

This Sonic Youth album is pretty good, but I never really count it in my top whatever. Since it came out in high school, I listened to it about a trillion times, because when you're a kid you can basically just sit and listen to an album without doing anything else and feel like you accomplished something. I bought it on a school trip the day the OJ Simpson verdict came out, and I remember being the only non black person on the bus who was happy about it, not because I didn't think he was guilty or some racial thing, but just because I wanted him to play Nordberg again in the next Naked Gun movie, which never even happened. Check out the songs and remember what a magical time the mid 90s were!


My Year at the Movies: 2010

A lot of people my age don't go out to the movies very often, at least that's been my experience based on where I live and the people I know. Myself, I go a lot. In 2010, I went to the movies 22 times. 20 of the movies I saw were from 2010, one was 2009's Sherlock Holmes and one was a repertory screening of a William Shatner movie from the 70s that I saw at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas. Now the average person might think that 22 trips to the movies is a lot (and it probably is for someone who's not a professional critic), but I didn't even manage to catch everything I wanted to see this year. I didn't get to watch The Social Network, I didn't get a chance to watch Scott Pilgrim vs. the World until it came out on DVD, and Black Swan hasn't even gotten a wide release yet. The movies I saw this year came from a wide variety of genres: comedies, action flicks, horror movies, comic book movies, Oscar bait, and even two movies in 3D. So while a lot of critics are saying that 2010 wasn't a particularly strong year for movies, I can't complain too much, at least no one nuked the fridge this year.

Rating: 75%

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Specials - #12: A Muppet Family Christmas

A Muppet Family Christmas is my absolute favorite Christmas special, it just isn't Christmas for me unless I watch it at least once. There's been maybe one or two years in the last twenty three that I wasn't able to watch A Muppet Family Christmas and those were horrible times which need not be mentioned again. In the special, the Muppet gang decides to head down to Fozzy's mother's farmhouse for Christmas. The Muppets are eventually joined by the Sesame Street gang and the Fraggles. There's lots of singing and laughing and holiday cheer, it's god-damned beautiful. Merry Christmas y'all.

Rating: And a Partridge in a Pear Tree%

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Friday, December 24, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Specials - #11: A Claymation Christmas Celebration

This one might be a little obscure. I can remember watching A Claymation Christmas Celebration back in the day, but I don't think it's been shown too many times since then. In the special, two dinosaurs host a program explaining the origins of popular and traditional Christmas songs. A running joke in the special has characters mixing up the lyrics to "Here We Come A-wassailing," replacing wassailing with waffling, waddling, etc. The special was produced and directed by Will Vinton, the man behind the California Raisins, the short-lived Eddie Murphy series The PJs, and the truly bizarre Adventures of Mark Twain. Basically, if you've never seen the special and you've read this far anyway, just remember it was the 80s, it was stop motion animation and it kinda made sense at the time.

Rating: 2 Turtle Doves%

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Specials - #10: A Garfield Christmas Special

Wow, watching A Garfield Christmas Special last night totally made up for sitting through Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol earlier in the week. It had been quite a few years since I last watched the Garfield special and I'd honestly forgotten just how good it was. It's short, it's sweet, the songs don't suck, the animation is classic, and the nostalgia factor is very high. I was a big time Garfield fan when I was a kid and the television specials were always something to look forward to. Out of all the Christmas specials that I've covered so far, this is one of the only ones that I actually own on DVD. I bought it at the time more so for Garfield's Halloween Adventure, but now I have another reason to dust it off every year. Thinking about it now though, I bought it online and probably got it in an order with a bunch of horror movies, so there's a good chance my name's on a list somewhere now.

Rating: 3 French Hens%

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Trying To Blog While Waiting For True Grit To Start

It's too hard to be witty when I'm surrounded by this many white people.

12 Days of Christmas Specials - #9: Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol has been adapted for films, television and the stage about a gazillion times. I could have easily done reviews for a dozen different versions of A Christmas Carol, but instead I chose to review the one with Mr. Magoo. In case you don't know/remember, Mr. Magoo was a delightfully senile and essentially blind cartoon character who appeared in a number of theatrical shorts and television specials from 1949 until political correctness came into fashion. At 53 minutes, Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol is a lot longer than it needs to be. The special is padded out with way too many crappy songs and references to razzleberry dressing, whatever the hell that is.

Rating: 4 Calling Birds%

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Specials - #8: A Very Brady Christmas

Before watching it again last night, I probably hadn't seen A Very Brady Christmas in almost twenty years. And even though I have no real connection to or affection for the Brady Bunch franchise, this particular Christmas special has been occupying real estate in my head since I first saw it back in the day. This is probably why I was never really good at calculus or why I can never remember people's birthdays. Important chunks of my brain are clogged with memories of Bobby Brady driving a race car and Marcia's cool phone that looked like a panda. Ah, such is life.


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Monday, December 20, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Specials - #7: Frosty the Snowman

I know a lot of children's entertainment is supposed to be kinda dumb, but Frosty the Snowman is seriously retarded. It's a shame too, Frosty was made by Rankin/Bass, the same folks who made the Rudolph special. Only this time around, the special was made with traditional cel animation instead of stop motion animation. It's not even particularly good cel animation either. The voice dubbing is terrible as well, I've seen Godzilla movies with better dubbing. And why the hell does Frosty say "Happy Birthday!" whenever someone puts the magic hat on his head?

Rating: 6 Geese-a-Laying%

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Specials - #6: Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special

My God, the late 1980s was a bizarre friggin' time to be alive. Go back in your mind to the time when Pee-wee Herman was one of the biggest names in children's entertainment. Remember all the neon and the puppets and screaming real loud? I bet you'd think that the guest list for his Christmas special would've featured some really big names. Sure, there were a few: Magic Johnson, Oprah, Cher, and Whoopi Goldberg. But Zsa Zsa Gabor? Frankie and Annette? Little Richard? And musical performances from Grace Jones, k.d. lang, Charo, and the Del Rubio Triplets? Say what?

Rating: 7 Swans-a-Swimming%

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Specials - #5: A Charlie Brown Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas is a bit of an odd duck as far as these Christmas specials go. It's probably one of the only specials to feature both the Biblical story of Christmas as well as an anti-commercialization message. And the protagonist, Charlie Brown, is one hell of a sad sack. It's also kinda funny that this special along with Rudolph and the Grinch, which have been annual staples of the Christmas season, were made over forty freakin' years ago. There's only a handful of specials that have had that kind of durability over the years, which is to say, don't count on watching Shrek the Halls with your grand kids.

Rating: 8 Maids-a-Milking%

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Friday, December 17, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Specials - #4: A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All

Our hero, Stephen Colbert, is just getting ready to leave his cabin to go tape a Christmas special with Elvis Costello when he's confronted by a bear, trapping him inside his woodsy abode. While Stephen laments missing out on the preparations for his Christmas special, he's visited by a hunter (Toby Keith), the Fourth Wise Man (Willie Nelson), his old pal Jon Stewart, a forest ranger (John Legend), an angel (Feist), and there's even a special guest appearance from Santa Claus himself (George Wendt.) There's singing and dancing and eggnog and awkward encounters under the mistletoe. In the end, Stephen learns that there's no greater gift than the DVD of his very own Christmas special, which you can purchase right now at any fine retailer where DVD's are sold. So, if you love Christmas or Baby Jesus or America or anything else for that matter, you owe it to yourself to pick up your very own copy.

Rating: 9 Ladies Dancing%

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Specials - #3: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

I won't bother with a recap of this particular Christmas special. You know what it's about, don't pretend like you haven't seen it a million times already. One of the reasons I decided to review a bunch of Christmas specials this year was so that I could go back and watch some of the classics that I hadn't seen since I was a kid (and some, including this one, that I'd been avoiding for years.) The main reason that the Grinch landed on my list of specials to cover was because of the narration by Boris Karloff, but what turned out to be even better than that was the animation by Chuck Jones which combined Dr. Seuss' artwork with the classic Looney Tunes style. But honestly though, thank God the thing was only twenty-five minutes long, the endless rhyming lists of Who decorations and instruments drove me nuts.

Rating: 10 Lords-a-Leaping%

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Specials - #2: He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special

Everyone who's anyone in Eternia and Etheria is getting ready for Prince Adam and Adora's big birthday celebration. But after some of his trademark shenanigans, Orko ends up on Earth where he meets some adorable little children who teach him all about Christmas. Orko and the children are eventually transported back to Eternia, but the Christmas cheer they bring with them upsets the balance of good and evil. Horde Prime enlists Skeletor and Hordak and their various bumbling minions to capture the children and snuff out the Christmas spirit. Will He-Man and She-Ra be able to protect the children from the Evil Horde? Well, duh. I mean, these specials were made for kids, it's not like they were gonna show Skeletor murdering the poor little Earth children or anything. What did you think was gonna happen?

Rating: 11 Pipers Piping%

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Specials - #1: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Instead of reviewing Christmas songs this year, I thought I'd review a few Christmas specials and I figured there'd be no better way to kick off the reviews than with Rankin/Bass' stop motion classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I realized, while watching the special last night, that it was probably the first time that I had sat through the whole thing since I was a little kid. Now I'm sure you probably all know the gist of the story, Rudolph is born with a shiny red nose which makes him an outcast in Christmas Town (heck, even Santa thinks Rudolph is a freak.) In order to spare his family from the shame of having a freak for a son, Rudolph decides to run away with an effeminate elf named Hermey. Along the way, they make a few friends and learn some valuable lessons about the importance of family (or something like that.) Overall, I enjoyed revisiting Rudolph, especially after I realized that the guy who did Donner's voice was the same guy who did the voice for J. Jonah Jameson on the old Spider-Man cartoon.

Rating: 12 Drummers Drumming%

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Columbia House

So let me get this straight, you're gonna send me a dozen CD's for a buck and then all I have to do is buy three more at the regular price. What's the catch? Oh, so the "regularly priced" discs are actually more expensive than they would be if I bought them in a store and your selection sucks and you charge way too much for shipping. I see. Seems like a pretty shitty business model in the post-Napster age, doesn't it? Oh, what's that, you're actually going out of business? Can't say I'm surprised. Say hi to Blockbuster on your way out.

Rating: No more annoying phone calls at dinner time%

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Dirty by Sonic Youth

Dirty is the most radio friendly rock album Sonic Youth ever made. It was released in 1992, during the height of "Nirvana Fever" or "Grungedom" or "A Recession." My friend Farnell really liked a song from this album used on the My So-Called Life soundtrack, but then when I lent him Washing Machine he practically puked in my face. I don't know why so many of my Sonic Youth reviews devolve into questions of "listenability," but so goes England. If you want to see a young Jason Lee, check it out!


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sister by Sonic Youth

If somebody is trying to be different and not claim Daydream Nation as their favorite Sonic Youth album, they'll probably claim Sister. It immediately preceded DN, but whereas the later album is more interested in long experimental noodling, this album is a lot of radio length songs with surprising listenability for the average dude/tte who hates Sonic Youth. Actually, it's a great album, with the best opening track of all time, so I guess you should listen to it and remember the glory of the roaring 80s.