Wednesday, October 1, 2014

31 Days of Halloween - Day 1: Return of the Fly

For the last few years I always do a 31 days of Halloween month. The past few years I re-read all the original Goosebumps books and before that I'd watch 31 horror movies. However I realized every single time I watched 31 Horror movies I exclusively picked ones I enjoyed. I decided to do something slightly different. I composed a list of every horror movie I owned and put them in alphabetical order. Then using a random number generator I generated 31 numbers and watched the movies that corresponded with those numbers. Some are great films and others… well… are less than fun let's say. I hope you enjoy!

Day 1: The Fly Collection - Return of the Fly (Movie #167)

When I was a kid my parents showed me The Monster Squad. That was the beginning of my love affair with horror movies. While it took me until Junior High to be comfortable watching modern R-rated horror films (all thanks to my cousin Dave and a little film called Scream) I loved the old classics. I must thank Crestwood House Books for their amazing Monsters book series as they helped me discover all the classic titles. One of the titles they introduced to me was The Fly. However when I finally saw the original I was greatly disappointed. The monster in the movie didn't look like the monster picture in the book. It wasn't until years later I realized the picture they used was the monster from it's sequel Return of the Fly.

The Bible To 7 Year Old Matt Kelly

I was excited to rewatch this film. I always liked the look of The Fly in this movie more than any other Fly film (including the incredible remake). That being said I forgot how slow, boring and frankly… bad the first hour of this movie is. While the original film had the framing device of Inspectors trying to solve the murder mystery of Andre Delambre this film is totally linear.

That's not necessarily a bad thing but at least while the original dragged we were reminded of the violent opening that hooked us in. This film doesn't have that. Instead we're left sitting waiting for the film to get exciting without having any little tastes of whats to come until 45 minutes into an 80 minute long film.

The film never finds it's tone which also hurts it but the fly creature in this is still awesome (even though  it's obvious right away that the actor in the costume can't see). It's a shame it's so under used. I'm not sure why something as simple as giving it a larger head and fly leg makes it so much better but it truly does improve the look of the creature.

The movie takes place years after the original. Phillipe's (Andre's son) mother has died and the mystery of his famous fathers death has never been solved. Francois (Vincent Price) finally tells Phil the truth of his fathers death and Phil swears to continue his father's research. He asks Alan (an employee of Francois) to assist him in his research.

Alan turns out to be a traitor and when his trickery is discovered he fights with Phillipe successfully knocking him out. He drags Phillipe's body to the transporter and captures a fly as well as an additional fuck you. I think you know what happens from there.

All in all the film is a rough rehashing of the original but on a much lower budget. I really didn't enjoy it as much as I had hoped I would but I will sing praise for the film's monster until the day I die.
Matt Kelly is the host of the popular podcast The Saint Mort Show, a frequent contributor to, the founder of Chords for Cures and the co-writer/co-director of the upcoming comedy Describing the Moon. He also loves it when people surprise him with purchases from his Amazon Wishlist… just saying.

Friday, September 26, 2014

A Second Spinning (Round 4)

I've been buying albums like crazy ever since I was in 3rd grade. There's been albums I've loved and albums I've hated. Some from local bands, some from big names and even more from my 8 year Christian Music age. I've decided to take a stack of 20 albums that I disliked in my collection each month and give them another listen to see if over the years my opinion has changed.

Here's my breakdowns and reasons why

My Opinion Didn't Change On

Fun Lovin' Criminals: 100% Colombian I loved the Fun Lovin' Criminals debut album Come Find Yourself and excitedly grabbed their follow-up album. When I heard it I was really disappointed. Almost all the things I enjoyed about their previous album were gone except a handful of tracks (Southside, Big Night Out). While I appreciated the chill-jazzy vibe they were going for it doesn't work for them quite like the hip-hop influenced rock worked on songs like Scooby Snacks.

Daniel Johnston: 1990 Daniel Johnston is an artist I really appreciate, but appreciation doesn't mean I have to enjoy listening to his music. Daniel is a truly unique songwriter which is why so many of the covers of his songs are great, but Daniel himself is someone who musically I can only stand for 5-7 minute increments. There are a handful of amazing songs on this record (Funeral Home, Devil Town, True Love) but more often than not it's songs that overstay their welcome.

Dave Matthews Band: Everyday I've spoken previously of my love/hate relationship with DMB. It feels like my enjoyment of his music 100% depends on my mood at the time I'm listening to it. Repeated listens of his stuff has lead me to comfortably conclude that I enjoy the albums Crash and Before these Crowded Streets but Everyday for me will always been an album that has two amazing song (The Space Between & Everyday) one or two decent songs and a lot of filler.

Sarah McLachlan: Surfacing McLachlan is capable of writing some of the most beautiful songs ever, but she's also capable of writing some of the most forgettable and boring. At the time of release I was in love with every single on this record and assumed with 4 great single out of 10 tracks the rest of the CD will be amazing. Instead I found one non-single that I liked a lot (Witness) and a bunch of stuff that put me to sleep. 

Albums I Appreciated More But Still Don't Love

The Cranberries: To the Faithful Departed I've never been a huge Cranberries fan. They've written some amazing songs and this album is probably my favorite of theirs, but I'm still not a fan of it. There are some great songs on it however. Salvation will always have a place in my heart, I loved that song and video. It was the first song by the Cranberries I actually liked (it wasn't until a few years later I discovered Linger and Dreams). While there's a lot of fun songs, there's a lot of drawn out tracks as well.

Creed: Human Clay This is basically where My Own Prison was last round. The songs I remembered (Are You Ready?, Beautiful) I still loved while the songs I'd forgotten about (such as the two tracks after Higher) were forgotten for a reason. I still think that Creed gets unfairly trashed because they could (and did) definitely know how to write a great song or two… they just weren't so great on making great albums.

Element 101: More Than Motion I wish this album was catchier. I kinda feel like the band was trying to get away from the Pop Punk label and enter into something more Indie Rock. I respect any band that's willing to take chances and make changes of sound but Indie Rock Element just isn't as fun and catchy as Pop Punk Element was.

MxPx: Pokinatcha MxPx's first album was one of the last ones I heard by them. This definitely was a disadvantage to it. There's nothing wrong with the album, it has a lot of great songs on it, but after hearing Life In General and Teenage Politics this album just didn't stand a chance. It's a good album but nothing more.

Albums I Really Enjoyed More Than I Thought Was Possible

Seven Mary Three: American Standard Seven Mary Three had two really great singles in the 90's. When I picked up their album I just wanted every song to be Cumbersome, they weren't. Now many years later, I'm quite glad their not. This a great album that could have only existed in the 90s.

Relient K: Apathetic EP At the time I picked this up I only enjoyed two songs, that's a bad thing for an EP. Now I appreciate every track on it but my favorite track still remains In Like a Lion (Always Winter).

Cat Stevens: Catch Bull At Four From the second I heard Cat Stevens' music I became a fan. Two of my favorite songs of his were Sitting and Can't Keep It In. When I picked up the album that contained those two songs they were the only ones I think I listened too. This may have been the actual "First Spinning" for me but damn it if I don't rank this up there with Tea for the Tillerman as one of Steven's best works now.

Ace Troubleshooter: It's Never Enough I always wanted to like Ace Troubleshooter more than I actually did. But now, I adore them, so I suppose I got what I wanted. This was the first record I bought by them and wasn't a fan. Not sure why because it's a quite delightful and catchy pop punk record.

KoRn: Life is Peachy I don't know why I fought this for so long but I'm a KoRn fan. For whatever reason I didn't want to admit this in the 90's/early 2000's. When I decided to listen to KoRn I remember saying that their only good album was Follow the Leader (even though I owned their first 6 albums) and would constantly say that the only good song on Life is Peachy was the 50 second long Twist. But fuck it, it's a great album.

Last Tuesday: Resolve In doing these re-listens I'm starting to think that Last Tuesday was secretly one of my favorite bands. I own every album they released and bought their newest albums the second they were available but for some reason I never really got super into their music (until now). There's nothing much to say, if you like good pop punk with two vocalists you should already be listening to their stuff. It's a shame their done.

The Cars One an earlier Round I praised Heartbeat City by the Cars. While their debut has more hits on it, I still prefer Heartbeat. That shouldn't take away from the fact however that The Cars put together a fantastic collection of tracks for this debut. If you're a fan of New Wave and don't have this album already, you're fucking up.

Dispatch: Who Are We Living For While I first heard Dispatch near the end of High School they're a band that represents college more than anything for me. This was the last album of theirs I purchased and I didn't like it at all. I wanted another album that sounded like Bang Bang, this was a little too heavy for what I expected out of Dispatch and it had too many random jam session tracks. Now those are probably my favorite pieces of the album.

Now I Love This Album

Brave Saint Saturn: So Far From Home Five Iron Frenzy is my favorite band and has been for well over a decade. When I purchased the Brave Saint Saturn album I was not used to disliking any songs by FIF. I think my only reason for not liking this album was because of two or three songs I didn't like, when relistening to this I still remembered the words to practically every song (and it had been a good 7 years since I listened to any of these songs), even the songs I didn't like in the past (Rocketown, Gloria) I found a little enjoyable this time around.

Bright Eyes: Letting Off the Happiness One of my favorite songs ever by Bright Eyes is the opening track to this album (If Winter Ends), the rest of this album was (to me at the time) too random and bizarre. Styles were constantly different and none of the songs felt like they belonged on an album together. Those are now many of the reasons I like this album. The only thing I really dislike about the album is the decision to put 10 minutes of feedback between the last track and the hidden track… but that's hardly a reason to hate the album as a whole.

Pearl Jam: Vs Last round I got a little flack for my continued lack of enjoyment towards Pearl Jam's Ten in relistening to their follow-up record Vs. I realized what my problem is with Pearl Jam in general (or at least for me… obviously they have legions of devoted fans so I'm in the minority here). Pearl Jam's stuff at it's best is short. Compared to the 4:30-5:00 song lengths on Ten most of the songs on Vs are a solid 3:30 minutes long. In fact my least favorite song on the album (W.M.A) is the only track over 5 minutes. Fast, Raw and Straight to the point is how I prefer my Pearl Jam apparently. The longer the song is, the more likely Eddie Vender is just gonna repeat the same lyric over and over and over again.

Refused: The Shape of Punk To Come When I first heard Refused I was in a friends car and he played me New Noise. That night I went home and bought the album on amazon and awaited it's delivery. Now I was late to the party on this band and this was maybe 5 years ago. I already knew the album was considered a masterpiece so maybe the heavy praise for the album sent me in with high expectations but I remember driving to classes listening to it for the first time and not feeling really… anything. This time however, three minutes into the opening track Worms of the Senses I found myself thinking "This might be my favorite album I listened to this round". It absolutely was.

Matt Kelly is the host of the popular podcast The Saint Mort Show, a frequent contributor to, the founder of Chords for Cures and the co-writer/co-director of the upcoming comedy Describing the Moon. He also loves it when people surprise him with purchases from his Amazon Wishlist… just saying.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

RetroActive Book Review: Animorphs #2 - The Visitor

Animorphs Book #2: The Visitor

As I said previously I am really excited to be revisiting this series having loved it so much as a kid. Book 2 is narrated by Rachel who for some reason I remember her being my least favorite narrator. About 15 years later I can see why I felt this way, her narration is very awkward and reminds me of all the female Goosebumps narrators that I can’t stand. There’s always a competitiveness in those characters that makes the narration seem painfully forced.

It’s a decent enough story. At the end of the first book they discovered that the Principal of the school was a controller. Rachel’s best friend was the principals daughter so they decide she should morph into her cat in order to spy on the Yeerks.

Not a ton happens as far as action scenes but I was shocked by the emotional notes of this book. It examines a broken home as well as parents who will do ANYTHING for their child and an intense way.

But this particular book does not push the storyline anywhere so there’s not much more to say about it. 

I recall the next book “The Encounter” being my favorite book. I used to love Tobais’ narration. Let’s see how it holds up!
Matt Kelly is the host of the popular podcast The Saint Mort Show, a frequent contributor to, the founder of Chords for Cures and the co-writer/co-director of the upcoming comedy Describing the Moon. He also loves it when people surprise him with purchases from his Amazon Wishlist… just saying.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

10 Horror Movie VHS Covers Forever Etched Into My Brain

I've talked about this multiple times on my blog but there are few memories I hold as dearly as visiting the video store. I would walk through the horror section every time (even when I was too much of a pussy to watch horror movies I'd still love just looking at the covers).

When I finally became brave enough to rent the videos I would be in my local mom and pops store for 40-50 minutes looking at every cover and considering "should I rent this?" I will say this in advance, 7 of these movies I didn't rent back the and four of them I still have yet to see. Regardless I will always remember these box covers.

10. Monkey Shines
This cover terrified me. TERRIFIED ME. Look at that fucking monkey! This movie would have scared me if the entire thing was just that monkey clashing it's cymbals while staring into my soul. I put this movie off until it was available on Instant watch a few years ago. I thought it was strictly okay (although I know many who love it). 

9. House IV
Don't get me wrong the VHS covers of House and House 2 also captivated my brain but this was the one I remember really freaking me out. The previous covers had an element of comedy that I always felt this one lacked. I've yet to see this one for a pretty ridiculous reason. Despite having multiple chances to watch it I kept putting it off until I had a chance to see House 3: The Horror Show even though I knew it wasn't a legit House sequel. Thanks to FearNet a few years back I finally did get to watch that so House IV you best not disappoint!

8. Bloody New Year
Until about two years ago when I saw this cover on VHSPS' website I thought I was going insane because NO ONE knew what I was talking about. This cover always captivated me (but never scared me). I've yet to see this one but I'll probably order it off VHSPS very soon.

7. Society
I saw this movie for the first time this summer but I've remembered the cover for years. It was one of those covers that looked so bizarre that it captivated me but I wasn't sure if I actually wanted to watch it. Years later I heard nothing but praise for it and decided to grab it off VHSPS. It is nothing short of a horror masterpiece. If you haven't seen this one you owe it to yourself as a horror fan to track a copy down!

6. Halloween 2
This might be one of my all-time favorite posters. This specific image, I've seen other versions that have been changed for DVDs but it's the simplicity of this one that I adore and will always remember. This is the only movie on this list that I saw the movie before I ever saw the cover. I caught Halloween II on television right around the point I was just beginning to get brave enough to watch horror movies. That has nothing to do with the cover, just a fun fact.

5. Elves
When I became a horror movie fan I started taking it seriously immediately. It was right in the beginning of the internet's popularity and I discovered a site called Video Graveyard which was (for about two years) my horror bible. If they praised a movie then I'd see it, if they hated it… I'd avoid it. They were not impressed with Elves so despite how much this cover intrigued me I never rented it. Now I regret it since it's a hard movie to find. That being said I've discovered it's also available on VHSPS so maybe I'll pick it up along with Bloody New Year to prepare for X-mas 2014 and New Years 2015.

4. Blood Beach
This was another notoriously bad movie that captivated me. I almost rented this movie more times than I can remember and constantly wanted to know why this woman was being pulled into the sand. I did eventually see it through VHSPS and while I didn't hate it it's definitely not a masterpiece. Despite all that it's tag-line "Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Back In The Water - You Can't Get To It" is one of the best of all-time.

3. The Funhouse
I was mesmerized by this cover for years, I saw it on Video Graveyard and thought it looked awesome but my local video store never had it. One night I was spending the night with my grandparents and my grandmother and I went out to rent a videotape. As I walked around her video store I saw that they had a copy of The Funhouse and immediately had her rent it for me. After everyone went to sleep I watched the movie and honestly I struggled to stay awake. I was beyond bored by it. Years later I kept hearing praise about it and rewatched it thanks to Netflix, it quickly became one of my all-time favorite horror films. I hate the new cover out there which is just a close up for the clowns face (with added drool), I'll always prefer this killer jack-in-the-box cover.

2. The Mutilator
I've yet to see this movie but based on the horror podcasts I listen to I'm not missing too much. But much like Blood Beach this was a VHS cover I would pick up and look at during every visit to the video store. One day I do hope to finally see this but I'm prepared to be let down after all these years.

1. Texas Chainsaw Massacre
This is (and has always been) my favorite cover to Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Before I was a horror fan I had an uncle who was. This uncle was the best uncle a geek like I could want. He was rich and owned hundreds of movies, toys and arcade games. I would frequently look at his horror movie covers and I was obsessed with this weird cartoon drawing (I was also obsessed with the cover to Groove Tube). I was so young that I didn't know the title to this movie so when I started seeing the more popular VHS cover for Texas Chainsaw Massacre in video stores I became convinced this was a different movie. It wasn't until google that I was able to look it up and confirm it was in fact an old VHS cover for arguably the greatest horror film ever put to celluloid.

Matt Kelly is the host of the popular podcast The Saint Mort Show, a frequent contributor to, the founder of Chords for Cures and the co-writer/co-director of the upcoming comedy Describing the Moon. He also loves it when people surprise him with purchases from his Amazon Wishlist… just saying.

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Second Spinning (Round 3)

I've been buying albums like crazy ever since I was in 3rd grade. There's been albums I've loved and albums I've hated. Some from local bands, some from big names and even more from my 8 year Christian Music age. I've decided to take a stack of 20 albums that I disliked in my collection each month and give them another listen to see if over the years my opinion has changed.

Here's my breakdowns and reasons why

My Opinion Didn't Change On

KJ-52: 7th Avenue - In the world of Christian Hip-Hop KJ-52 provided the industry with an artist they could finally compare to Eminem. While I genuinely enjoy his later records even when I first bought his debut I was kinda let-down. Later albums showed a nice blend of funny songs, serious topics and great beats. However on his debut he was so focused on sounding "tough" that his decent flow suffers in a general lack of authenticity.

"Weird Al" Yankovic: Alapalooza - This has always been my least favorite Weird Al album. Something just always feels off with it. I think at the end of the day it feels super rushed and in a weird way… a bit of a sell out record. Every song feels like it was written for a different purpose than simply being a genuine idea (we know that Bedrock Anthem was for the Flintstones movie and Talk Soup was a rejected attempt at writing a theme song for the TV show for example). The only songs I truly love on the record are Frank's 2000" TV and Bohemian Polka (however this listen I enjoyed the prince style parody Traffic Jam).

All Star United - I honestly don't know why I bought two All Star United albums since they were far from a band I ever loved. I always really enjoyed their sophomore album International Superstars... however the self titled album never did anything for me. What's disappointing is that the only song La La Land is an INCREDIBLE song. It's definitely worth checking out if you've never heard it before.

Green Jelly: Cereal Killer Soundtrack - This is a tough one to discuss. It's not like Green Jelly was meant to be taken seriously… but they can write good songs! I know that they are capable of it, there's at least four really entertaining songs on this album. But just like when I first bought it the rest of the album just isn't enjoyable. I don't mind so-bad it's good… but usually that involves being more entertaining than this. 

Pearl Jam: Ten - Controversially for people who know me, I never really liked Pearl Jam that much. Of all the 90's grunge groups they were always my least favorite. They wrote some great singles but I always struggled to get into a full album of theirs. I decided to give their massive debut a second spin but in the end I still found myself only really enjoying the singles (specifically Black which might be the best song they ever wrote).

Albums I Appreciated More But Still Don't Love

Audioslave - When Audioslave came out I couldn't have been more let down. I loved Rage and Soundgarden and wanted something incredible. Instead I felt like the album was just bland radio rock. While that assessment isn't necessarily incorrect but they did a really awesome job with radio rock (including some pretty cool guitar solos). I still don't think it's a great album but I could see myself listening to it again sometime.

The Get Up Kids: Four Minute Mile - I have a friend who thinks this is the best Get Up Kids album. Don't get me wrong there's at least three songs on this album that are strong contenders for best song the band ever wrote. However when you hear this album after Something to Write Home About it's already up against the impossible. The biggest issue with this album is simply that it's terribly mixed.

Guns N Roses: Lies - I actually don't mind this album too much. I think it's better than either Use Your Illusion album but I'm also not the world's biggest GNR fan. I definitely prefer the second half of studio recorded acoustic songs (including one of my all time favorites Patience) over the (fake) live songs. In general it's just an uneven album that has both the best and the worst of this legendary band.

Creed: My Own Prison - I used to love Creed than I hated Creed. Now I just kinda like Creed. My Own Prison is half of a great album. Songs like Torn, One, What's this Life For and the Title Track are great songs, however there's a lot of forgettable songs on there as well. Maybe next time I'll revisit Human Clay.

Huey Lewis & The News: Sports - The first time I bought this CD it was because I was obsessed with the song If This Is It. I loved the song still but didn't like the other songs (excluding the other two singles of course). This time around though I found I enjoyed 75% of the album. That being said If This Is It is still the best song.

Albums I Really Enjoyed More Than I Thought Was Possible

Joy Electric: ChristianSongs -  I always loved seeing Joy Electric live. They put on a great show and were always a favorite for me at christian music festivals but I never really dug their sound on CD. However now that I haven't seen them live in almost a decade that doesn't seems as much of a hindrance to the album. The albums simply has good catchy songs on it and what more can I ask for?

Classic Disney Volume 1 - I bought this on my senior class trip to Disney as a souvenir. At the time I wasn't into musicals or a huge fan of those Disney films from my past. Now at 28 when I have that overwhelming love of both showtunes and the nostalgia of classic Disney films I regret not relistening to this sooner.

Last Tuesday: Distractions & Convictions - I don't remember how I found Last Tuesday but they were the first band I ever booked that I wasn't friends with. The put on a great live set despite there being like 15 people at the show. I picked up their album Dear Jessica (which will be on a future second spinning) and enjoyed it for the most part. I then picked up every album they released after that and never totally loved the records until their last album. Revisiting this CD this week however I found it packed with awesome, fast and raw punk songs.

Shorthanded: Forever Yours -  The issue with Shorthanded's album was that I fell in love with the band  based on demos from various Tooth & Nail comps. I preferred the songs in their demo versions and wrote off this album for not sounding close enough to the demos. This might have been the first time I actually listened to at least half the songs. The band isn't anything special but they could write a good catchy song when they wanted to.

Tim Blane: In the Meantime - Like some artists on previous Second Spinning articles I discovered Tim Blane via free live music at my college. I bought it strictly for the catchy title track. This was an extremely fun listen and I can't wait to revisit it again soon.

Slick Shoes - There's really nothing to say about this album except it's as good as previous Slick Shoes albums. I don't know why I didn't like it but loved their previous albums. Also the song Alone is one of the best songs the band ever wrote. If you like Slick Shoes and don't already own this then you're doing something wrong. 

90lb Wuss: Where the Meager Die of Self Hate - When I was kid I didn't know what to think about this band or this album… now in my late 20's I sell don't know what to make of them, but I like them a lot more. In a strange blend of Indie rock, Post-Hardcore and Old School Punk this album is bizarre, angry and completely chaotic in the way it shifts between genres.

Now I Love This Album

Jeff Buckley: Grace - When the only song you know by Buckley is his beautiful rendition of Hallelujah going into this album is tough. There's really nothing that sounds quite like that song (arguably the best cover of all time) and that turned me off right away. Relistening to it though I found it the be an insanely powerful album and much like Blind Melon was in the past I can't help but wish we could hear what more Jeff Buckley had in him.

Saves the Day: Stay what You Are - This album committed the cardinal sin of not sounding like the old albums. There's something about when a band changes their sound that makes you refuse to give them a fair chance. I'm glad I got my head out of my ass to finally give this album the listen it deserved. It's a great and catchy record. Certain Tragedy is my new favorite song Saves The Day ever recorded.

The Beastie Boys: To The 5 Boroughs - I have absolutely no answer to why I disliked this album to begin with. I must have been angry or distracted or something. While this isn't their greatest album it's full of everything that made that Beastie Boys great. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Triggered Memory - "Loser"

This week my roommate and best friend got a girlfriend. This was a major blow to my self esteem as this means I am the final "single" friend in my circle of best friends. Last night while he and his girlfriend were out for the night I picked up a DVD that best described how I felt, also it proved the strangest feeling of comfort for me for many years. Last night was no different.

I'm just going to be straight forward here. I didn't have a ton of friends growing up. From Elementary School on up until High School I can maybe think of 2-3 people that I still talk to on a semi-regular basis. I spent many weekends with my family. 

Our friday nights basically involved one of two things. We'd either watch TGIF together or if it was rerun season we'd go to Blockbuster and rent two or three movies to watch as a family. At the time I thought this was completely normal but now at 28 I realized I was quite blessed to have such an insanely close and loving family.  It was on one of those Friday nights that I saw Loser.

The first time I watched it, I didn't really think much of it. I thought the scene featuring David Spade was funny but never thought much more about it. That didn't stop me from buying the VHS tape. I could come up with a million excuses for why I bought a movie but it basically boils down to one thing… I was in love.

Dora Diamond (Mena Suvari) has for 14 years remained one of my three biggest fictional film character crushes (also on the list Kat from Casper and Sam from Garden State…more about them in the future I'm sure). I bought the VHS because of that character. All I wanted in Junior High on into High School was that punky weird girl with a heart of gold. It was in this "love" that I connected so strongly with Jason Biggs' character Paul.

Jason Biggs' early career was basically him playing characters that I could see myself in. I saw myself in Jim when I saw American Pie and I saw myself in Paul.

What started off as a movie that I bought because of a crush turned into a movie I watched once a week because it gave me home. I remember my lonely summers. It wasn't uncommon for me to order a cheesesteak from the steak shop behind my house and eat while watching this movie. I memorized this movie, every line, every musical queue, everything. The soundtrack truly is amazing and introduced me to at least five songs that are among my all-time favorites. 

So why? Why would I watch something that much? Because every time I watched it… it'd give me hope of my happy ending. Despite my loneliness, despite the lack of girls that showed an attraction to me… every time I watched the movie it made me believe that one day I'd find my Dora Diamond. I still do.

Monday, July 28, 2014

10 Songs From the 90's You Probably Forgot Existed

I absolutely love the 90's. It's my favorite decade by a long-shot. I've said multiple times on various places that what impresses me the most about the 90's is the fact that the most popular music and films also were (most of the time) the most critically adored. Think about the most popular things of the 70s and 80s and you'll see how rare this is. However for every amazing song and artist that has stood the test of time and remains popular 20-25 years later there's plenty of great songs and artists that we completely forgot about. Here's ten of my favorites.

10. Dog's Eye View Everything Falls Apart

For a brief period of time this was my favorite song. What's most impressive about that I had no clue who the artist was for at least a month, all I knew was that I heard the song on the radio once and for 20+ years haven't been able to get the chorus out of my head.

9. Coolio C U When You Get There

This was Coolio's last pseudo-hit single. It's actually one of his best songs but sadly it's one of the only decent songs on an otherwise lackluster (and more unforgivably… long) album. This also predates Vitamin C's sampling of Panchelbel's Canon in D by three years. That's gonna count for something right?

8. Lisa Loeb & the Nine Stories Do You Sleep?

I might be the only person who heard this song before Stay (I Miss You). I have a bizarrely specific memory of this song. When I was kid and my parents first got MTV I'd wake up super early on Saturday mornings and end up watching Oddities: The Head, The Brothers Grunt and the MTV Top 20 Countdown. This song is one of the only songs that I distinctly remember being on the countdown. I'm sure there's a few that I could simply guess were on the countdown by thinking of hit songs from 1995 but this is the only video I 100% remember on that list.

7. The Rentals Waiting

I remember the first time I heard Friends of P I couldn't wrap my head around the song or the video. I always thought Waiting was far more marketable but at this point the closest thing to a claim to fame it has is being in Joe's Apartment (yea I know… that's one hell of a stretch). It wasn't until years later with the help of the internet I found out this was a side-project of Matt Sharp (formerly) of Weezer fame.

6. Semisonic Singin in My Sleep

In my last Second Spinning article I mentioned that this was the song that got me really into SemiSonic.  I still think this is the better single but obviously the world remembers Closing Time and this catchy track has just disappeared from the memory banks of everyone except a singular weirdo in PA.

5. The Space Monkeys Sugar Cane

I fucking LOVED this song when it came out. I asked for the Space Monkeys album for my birthday and my parents got it and dear god did I hate that CD. There was one other song I dug (Acid House Killed Rock N Roll) but hated the rest of the album. Eventually I sold it to a used CD store, over the years I still think about Sugar Cane and how much I love the song. It appeared a decent handful of teen flicks from the late 90's and it really is a catchy little track. I just checked Amazon and the albums is available used for a penny, maybe it's time to buy it and give it another chance.

4. Better Than Ezra At The Stars

This was one of the last Better Than Ezra hits (it might actually be their last hit… there's a good chance I'm the only one who remembers the song Extra-Ordinary from their following album and just assume it was a hit). Better than Ezra was a weird group, I loved their singles and then bought their albums and was almost ALWAYS disappointed. When I think of this song I always think of this cassette tape I had (I probably still have it) of songs recorded off of y100 (the local alt-rock station at the time). All these years later this song still makes me feel something in my heart when the chorus hits. I'm not sure what that feeling is, probably just nostalgia, but it hits me every damn time.

3. 1000 Clowns (Not The) Greatest Rapper

The only reason I know this song was because of the Box, and even then it wasn't that popular of a song. I don't know who the two or three people were who ordered this song were but I'm eternally thankful towards them. As far as I know there was never an official 1000 Clowns album (god knows I looked) and the song only existed on the Good Burger soundtrack. I still try to force this song down people's throats by randomly playing it at parties just to watch the looks on their faces as they all slowly remember that this song existed.

I just checked out the 1000 Clowns wikipedia page (yes they have one), turns out not only did they have one album but they're originally from Philadelphia. So that's pseudo-cool.

2. Marvelous 3 Freak of the Week

This is the strangest story I have for any song. In the late 90's I had a friend who would make me burnt CDs. He was the only person I knew who (a) knew about things like Napster and (b) had a CD burner (those were simpler times). MTV used to do a thing about "BuzzWorthy" songs where they would play a 10 second clip of a video that they thought would be a huge hit. This was a BuzzWorthy song… but I don't remember them ever playing the fucking video! I loved the 10 seconds I heard in the clip so when I was making a list of songs for my friend to burn on my next CD I put this on the list. I ended up loving the song. I need to actually pick up the full album one day and see if the rest of it is as good as this song. If you've never heard the song before listen to the song and tell me it's not completely and totally infectious.

1. Black Lab Time Ago

This is my 90's nostalgia song. There is no song from this decade that reminds me of the summers in the 90's quite like this Black Lab song. Shit it's basically the inspiration for me doing this list. There's a good chance I would have forgotten this song years ago if it wasn't for the cassette tape with that Better Than Ezra song. When I first got my license in 2004 I had an old Buick LaSabre that only had a tape-player. Thankfully I had stacks of old cassette tapes. I remember the first time this song came on in my car. I was overwhelmed with nostalgia. I shit you not… I might have cried a little bit. Not like a full out sobbing but this song brought back wave after wave of positive memories that I missed the simple times.

In the summer my family basically lived at my cousin's pool house. They had this gorgeous outdoor pool, with a big deck and a huge grill and outdoor sound system. Y100 was always on and this song was on CONSTANTLY. I simply can't hear this song and not think of a long time ago (hehe) when I believed anything was possible. I've heard one other song by this band (Tell me what to say on the Can't Hardly Wait soundtrack) and I have no interest in tracking down their other songs. Regardless if this is their best song or their worst song… no song of theirs will ever hold the level of importance to me that this song manages to.

Matt Kelly is the host of the popular podcast The Saint Mort Show, a frequent contributor to, the founder of Chords for Cures and the co-writer/co-director of the upcoming comedy Describing the Moon.