Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My Latest Obsession: Bag of Bones

I have a ton of mixed opinions on Stephen King novels. I've been trying my best to read every one of his novels. Sometimes they're pretty decent, sometimes their unbearable but every once and a while I read one that is undeniably great. Bag of Bones was such a book.

At first I was having a little trouble getting into it. At first I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy it much as it was reminding me of Duma Key which I disliked, however I was eventually pulled into the mystery of the novel and couldn't put it down.

Bag of Bones is probably one of his greatest novels full of twists and turns and at least 3 different "What the Fuck" moments. I don't want to spoil too much for those who haven't read the book, just enjoy the slow burn and see if you can figure out the mystery before you reach the novels end.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

100 Albums That Make Me Love Music: 27. Atmosphere - When Life Gives You Lemons, Paint That Shit Gold

27. Atmosphere: When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold

When I first heard Atmosphere’s 5th album I was a newest fan. I had owned Seven’s Travels for a few years. I wasn’t a huge fan at the time but over the years it grew on me and I bought godlovesugly and Lucy Ford and fell in love. So I excitedly picked up When Life Gives You Lemons when it was released and was kinda left feeling confused.

It kicks off with Like The Rest of Us, a laidback track using just a simple drumbeat and piano to create the beat. This goes throughout most of the record, laidback tracks and real instruments. What also stood out to me was that lyrically it felt much less personal.

Instead of writing about his own life Slug seemed to focus on fictional characters (which admittedly still allowed him to shine as a storyteller), I probably would have never listened to the album again if it wasn’t until I got to the track Yesterday (#9), the piano-based letter to his father immediately captivated me. I decided to give the album a second listen and fell in love with songs like Puppets, In Her Music Box and The Waitress.

By the third listen I was head over heels for the entire record. A few years later I consider it the best thing in the Atmosphere discography. If you’ve never heard Atmosphere before, I think this might be the best introduction record.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Self Observational Sunday: Studio Days

I recently bought a VCR and hooked it up to my TV. I've been working my way through stacks of old VHS tapes and came across the old TV Studio memory tapes. I was struck with sadness when watching them.

You see, TV Studio wasn't like other clubs on campus. While other clubs involved having a shared interest in things Studio went further than that. I can't say this for EVERYONE but most of us joined the studio because we had an intense love of film to the point that it kinda separated us from other normal people.

Studio wasn't just a club it was almost like a second family. I'd get up early and be in the school an hour before school started setting up the cameras and getting things ready for the show. We'd eat lunch in the  studio and after school we'd hang out. Sometimes we'd film a short intro, sometimes we'd watch TV, sometimes we'd kick around a hacky sack... but very rarely did we go home at the end of 7th period.

We'd tape events so we'd have dinner together, we went of field trips, we entered (and won) film festivals and on weekends I'd even hang out with people form the studio.

What made me upset while watching these is that I realized that despite the fact that I hung out with these people 5+ days a week, I haven't seen 95% of them in a decade. If it wasn't for the studio, High School would have been a different experience (and not a memorable one).

Somedays growing up sucks.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

100 Movies That Make Me Love Film: 28. SLC Punk!

28. SLC Punk

I think Matthew Lillard has a painfully under appreciated career. Whenever I mention that I like him people typically laugh, but if we’re going to be honest let’s face it, he’s almost always the best person in his movies. He’s the best part of Scooby Doo, Scream, Serial Mom but his shiny role is in SLC Punk. This film came out at a time when most kids (myself included) knew Green Day and Blink 182 as their punk bands. While we were aware that bands like The Ramones and Sex Pistols where a thing this is the movie that introduced me to The Exposed and The Stooges.

SLC Punk follows a group of hardcore punks in the 80’s while living in Utah. Great performances and great editing keep this film interesting right from the start. While the plotline is mostly focused on a “day in the life of” for these kids you can tell they all come from real life of the writers and directors.

The film also takes liberties with the timelines jumping back and forth throughout the film. The film ends on one a sad note that you don’t completely expect. I don’t want to fully spoil what happens but it creates a genuine turning point for Lillard’s character. Lillard performs this transition so perfectly that it really is a shame he didn’t receive more praise after it’s release.

There will be people that hate this movie I’m sure but for me it represents a period in time that I wish I was old enough to have experienced first hand.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My Latest Obsession: SR-71

If you are a child of the 90's/early 2000's you know SR-71. However you probably just know them as a one-hit wonder that provided us with the song Right Now (also known as that song in every teen flick of 2001). I know a lot of people were let down by the rest of their debut Now You See Inside, however I was a huge fan right off the bat, mostly driven by Mitch Allen's vocals.

However SR-71 kinda disappeared into obscurity as quickly as they appeared (except for that song which I still hear pop up in various movies). They continued to be relatively popular in Japan and released their final album only in Japan (until a few years ago when it was made available on iTunes). This album "Here We Go Again" is what I want to discuss as it's the album I'm most obsessed with/their best record.

Right off the bat this album has their most famous song. I'm not talking about Right Now I'm talking about 1985 (made famous by Bowling For Soup). I still prefer the original Bowling For Soup's version for the music and melody but SR-71's original (released the same year) has better lyrics. (for your listening pleasure)

However the stand out track for me is Axl Rose. Similarly to 1985 it deals with someone's struggles with accepting that the 80's are long gone. It's worth tracking down a copy of the album on Amazon and/or iTunes and check it out!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

100 Albums That Make Me Love Music: 28. Blood Brothers - Crimes

28. Blood Brothers: Crimes

Shortly after I graduated High School I was riding in my friend Brian’s car. He was playing Blood Brothers Burn Piano Island Burn. It was my first exposure to The Blood Brothers and despite most people’s usual dislike for Johnny Witney’s falsetto vocals (once described as sounding like a ‘child being tortured’) I was really into it.

A few months later I was walking around the local mall and saw the FYE was selling one of their records for $5. Without knowing if it was the one i had heard in Brian’s car or not I purchased it anyway. I remember putting it in my car and within the first minute of Feed me to the Forest I was hooked.

I recall being so into the record that I went out of my way to make sure it took me 40 minutes to get home (I only lived 15 minutes from the Mall) so I could hear the entire record. The album never left my car that year (except for when a passenger couldn’t take Whitney’s vocals). 

The album is extremely political (influenced by the re-election of the Bush administration) and it shines throughout the album. It’s extremely critical towards the media specifically with songs like Trash Flavored Trash (about how the news covers Celebrity Sex over real news) and Peacock Skeleton with Crooked Feathers (which is obviously about NBC)

My favorite track has always been My First Kiss At the Public Execution. The track’s extreme energy makes me angry I never got to see this band live. Between the furiously heavy guitars and Johnny’s wail of “Go!” the song is post-hardcore perfection.

If you’ve never heard Blood Brothers this is a great starter album. Plenty of people will tell you the early stuff is better (and they’re honestly probably right) but this one will always have a place in my heart.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Self Observational Sunday: Goin' Down to South Park

So this week I decided to rewatch South Park. I haven't watched the first season since I bought it on DVD roughly 5 years ago. There's a two things I noticed upon watching these first 13 episodes.

1. It's a VERY different show than what the show is now. The first season was 90% shock with 10% social commentary. These days South Park is a brilliant social commentary that occasionally shocks but these days is simply seen as satire. For this reason a few of the episodes don't hold the same comedic weight I remember them having when I was younger... but I still laugh, a lot.

2.  The funniest parts in the DVD are the introductions Matt and Trey do before each episode. Half of the segments are them sitting by a fire and the other half are them on an old-timey western show (including scratched up film). These segments (for the most part) are overly clean and purposely lame ("A hoot and a holler" gets said about 10 times). It was during this that I realized how brilliant Matt and Trey truly are.

When South Park came out I was in Jr. High. Even though I didn't watch South Park religiously at the time, I knew who Matt and Trey were. Not only that, I knew what they looked like. That's incredible. I was in late high school before I figured out what Matt Groening looked like and I don't think I figured out who Mike Judge actually was until a year or two ago (I could name all his projects but he could stand next to me in an elevator and I'd have been clueless).

Matt and Trey (while being most famous for South Park) managed to make sure that they can exist without it (and proved their abilities to do so with the popularity of Team America and Book of Mormon).

Maybe I'll keep a running commentary as I rewatch all the seasons, but I'm not positive.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

100 Movies That Make Me Love Film - 29. American Pie 2

29. American Pie 2

When I was a kid my dad used to show me movies like Porkys and Hollywood Knights. This films were foul-mouthed and sex filled hard-R comedies about high school students fighting against the school system. By the time I was in Junior High the ‘teen flicks’ had turned into PG-13 films with mostly unrelatable characters. This doesn’t stop me from loving these films but except for Can’t Hardly Wait (which perfectly defined the 90’s teen generation) none of them really spoke to anyone.

Then as I was about to start high school American Pie came out and completely changed the game. These characters talked like us, they said fuck, they were open about sex and they weren’t ‘rallying against a system’. They were more focused on getting laid. After the original American Pie teen films would never be the same, it’s because of that 1999 original that a film like Superbad can exist today.

Rarely do sequels match or top their predecessors and most people would argue that American Pie 2 isn’t one of those films, but I disagree.

Unlike most films released with kids in mind American Pie 2 sends a message that you rarely see in films. It discusses the concept that some people peak in high school. In the past whenever this has been “discussed” it’s always been the ‘asshole jock’ character being a bald guy at 40 still wearing a letterman’s jacket.

American Pie 2 however has our like-able main characters trying to relieve high school glory, unsuccesfully. Jim who hasn’t had sex since Prom, trying to get with his high school crush. Kevin is desperately trying to get back with his high school girlfriend. Finch is still hung up on Stifler’s mom, Stifler’s trying to keep partying. Oz seems the most matured character compared to his original asshole jock role in the first film. 

Yes, it does suffer the cliche’ sequel problems. It tries to up the shock level and while the results are funny they come off forced and unrealistic (unlike the original that even at it’s most absurd still came off believable). 

American Pie 2 was the first DVD I ever received so for at least a week until I purchased a few more DVDs I just watched this repeatedly. It’s the reason I love special features like Commentary tracks (as the film has 5) and became sort of a yearly viewing for me now. It’s probably for those reasons (as well as just loving these characters) that I was way more excited for American Reunion than most other people.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My Latest Obsession: Dead Like Me

Now I've seen Dead Like Me previously. However for whatever reason it wasn't until I rewatched this past month that I truly appreciated it for what it was. I've always enjoyed Bryan Fuller's TV shows (Although I haven't see Hannibal yet) but until a month ago Wonderfalls was without argument my favorite of his shows.

However, sitting down and rewatching his Showtime Series (which he left after 5 episodes) I picked a new favorite (ironically the one he had the least input in and liked the least). The true success story behind this show is casting. If anyone else played these characters it'd fail (the direct-to-DVD movie proved this).

If you've never seen this show before try to track it down. It's funny, sad and dramatic all at once. There are few shows that blend dark comedy with sincerity so greatly (but don't watch the movie unless you ABSOLUTELY feel like you HAVE to... but prepare to be let down).

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

100 Music That Make Me Love Music - 29. The Beastie Boys: Paul's Boutique

29. Beastie Boys: Paul’s Boutique

Like most people my age. I grew up loving the Beastie Boys. Last year when MCA died I was beyond devastated and wrote a farewell letter for But also like most kids at that point I knew Ill Communications and Licensed to Ill and not much of the things in between.

I even recall a few people telling me to just ignore Paul’s Boutique all together because it’s just bad. I don’t remember who these people were... but they’re fools. It wasn’t until later when I kept hearing it referred to as one of the most important albums of all time. Finally I just went ahead a purchased it and like many other people have said... it changed my life.

Okay, that’s probably a little much but you get my point. This has been called the Sgt. Pepper of Hip-Hop and that’s not an overstatement. It is the best rap album ever made (only 2 other rap albums rank higher on my favorite albums ever list). 

The Beasties did the balliest thing possible with this follow up album. They choose that the follow up to their MASSIVE album by doing a record that sounded NOTHING like it. Instead of party rock music that has a few samples of classic rock songs they created a 14 track album built out of 105 samples. Check out the impressive combination of random song samples in the opening track Shake Your Rump.

That’s just the start. This is one of my favorite albums to just put on and drive around blasting. If someone has filled your head with the idea that the CD sucks, ignore them and buy this CD. It’s a must have.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Self Observational Sunday: BROME

The 3 of you who check my blog/read regularly may have noticed that I didn't have a Self Observational Sunday last week. That was not out of laziness nor did I forget to do it. You see my brother was home from Florida. When given the choice between finding 30 minutes to write a SOS or finding as much time as possible to hang out with my brother .... brother will win everytime.

He's back in Florida for the time being and it seems like unless I save up enough dough to visit him in the fall I won't see him again until Christmas. I miss him. He's one of those people that lights up a room and is so full of energy that you can't help but be active when he's in your life.

Since he left on Wednesday I've almost only left my house for work reasons. What I'm driving at is that he's the person who gets me off the couch.

While he was home I recorded a fascinating podcast with him. THe episode will be released in about two weeks. I can't wait til you hear it!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

100 Movies That Make Me Love Film: 30. Free Enterprise

30. Free Enterprise

As I do more of these lists (sorry for all my facebook and twitter followers who are sick of this only 29 more weeks right?) I’m realizing that at least half my favorite movies I discovered watching Showtime. Free Enterprise is no different.

I remember catching the movie in the middle and watching about 45 minutes of it and then I had to leave. I had never seen anything else in the film until almost 6 years later when I found the DVD for sale somewhere. I had no clue what this movie was actually about until then.

When I first saw it I just assumed it was about 2 guys who are obsessed with William Shatner due to loving Star Trek as kids. However there’s so much more to it. The film is about importance of Sci-Fi to some people, the importance of the escapism. It also discusses issues of growing old as well as relationships. It basically plays out like a Seinfeld episode written by Kevin Smith.

Mark and Robert are struggling writers in Los Angeles as well as die hard sci-fi geeks. They’re unhappy with work and unlucky with love and dealing with turning 30. 

There’s more pop culture reference than what’s good for it (in theory) and the dialogue occasionally sounds too forced but regardless these are my friends. As I listen to these guys make Star Wars references and get excited at a chance to see Wrath of Khan on the big screen I can’t help but see myself and my friends in these people. 

One of the biggest elements of the movie that appealed to me was that Mark and Robert aren’t show as socially inept. While they have action figures and obsess over a 70’s TV show that doesn’t mean the women don’t date them. This isn’t the Big Bang Theory. 

Their lives come to a weird place when they find themselves developing a friendship with William Shatner after running into him in a bookstore. They’re disillusioned by his porn obsession and his desire to create an all hip-hop version of Julius Caesar but they don’t allow it from keeping them from developing a bond with their childhood hero.

If you’ve ever loved science fiction, felt isolated in high school or just love pop culture based dialogue this is a movie for you.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

My Latest Obsession: The Mars Volta: De-loused in the Comatorium

The Mars Volta: De-Loused in the Comatorium

I can't say I disliked At the Drive-In. That absolutely was not the case, I actually quite enjoyed a good handful of their songs however I was not obsessed with them like many music critics. Perhaps that's the reason that I constantly was putting off listening to the Mars Volta.

However after a ton of people telling me I had to give them a chance I decided to pick up their debut album to see what they were all about. It shattered my mind.

I understand that this album is a concept album but I frankly wasn't listening to the lyrics closely enough to decipher the story, my ears were far too focused on the music. There are moments of intense insanity (specifically on the track Drunkship of Lanterns) and moments of beautiful (I hate that I'm about to use this word) epicness.

Also this album managed to do that very few have been able to accomplish in the life of Matt Kelly. I have a relatively short attention span which has made me pretty unforgiving to many Prog-Rock songs. However this album kept my attention even during Cicatriz ES a song in the dead center of the album running over 12 minutes long. I didn't lose my attention even when the song broke into an 8 minute "feedback solo".

This is not an album for everyone but this record certainly made a big impression on me.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

100 Albums That Made Me Love Music: 30. Panic At The Disco: Pretty. Odd.

30. Panic At The Disco: Pretty. Odd.

When I was just starting college the world was introduced to Panic at the Disco. It was like Fall Out Boy but more theatric and weird. At the time I didn’t really think much of them. They had one or two songs I heard and thought were okay but I didn’t go running to the local CD store to purchase it or anything.

Flash forward to 2008. One of my best friends Matt was in a local band called Racing Kites. They had just completed a month long tour and he was telling me how much I’d like the new Panic at the Disco album. I was doubtful but he kept describing it to me as “a Beatles album”. I still didn’t believe him.

Now around this same time I got into the video game Rock Band (admittedly way later than the rest of the world) and I was exposed to “Nine in the Afternoon” for the first time. And dammit. Not only was it catchy but there was an undeniable Beatles influence behind it. The next time I was in Matt’s car I asked if he could put it on.

I was immediately drawn in. Songs like We’re So Starving and She’s a Handsome Woman had a unique sound of Beatles meets punk. But not just in sound lyrically songs like Do You Know What I’m Seeing could have been a B-Side off Sgt. Peppers.

This album suddenly changed my mind entirely about Panic at the Disco as a band. Ever since hearing Pretty. Odd. I’ve always given bands a genuine chance before immediately writing them off.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

100 Movies That Make Me Love Movies: 31. Toxic Avenger

31. Toxic Avenger

The 90’s were a weird time. Anything could become a marketable children’s cartoon. Despite all that, nothing was more confusing than the decision to make Toxic Avenger into a children’s cartoon. But I didn’t care. As a kid Toxic Crusaders was my favorite cartoon. When I say as I kid I mean like 5 or 6 years old.

When I was a kid I used to hang out with my Uncle Craig a lot. He was a huge horror buff and would put together this elaborate and awesome halloween displays. He had thousands of movies, most of which I was afraid to watch. However one day while the family was out in the pool I was in his basement looking at his VHS tapes and suddenly I saw my buddy Toxie’s face on a VHS cover. 

I got extremely excited and immediately put the tape into the VCR. What occurred next was 30 minutes or so of things a 6 year old shouldn’t be watching. Plenty of nudity, a man melting due to toxic waste exposure and finally my breaking point Toxie poking out someone’s eyeballs. I ran screaming from the room and my mother had to comfort me that it’s all fake.

It wasn’t until years later when I was in 7th grade and I rented the movie and finally completed the film. What I found was an incredible movie filled with human and for a low-budget movie some impressive special effects. 

I’d watched the shitty sequels but it wasn’t until college that my true love affair with Troma pictures was rekindled. They are now (and have been for a while) my favorite film company. While they’re not always winners, they always have a charm and heart.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My Latest Obsession: /r/ExplainLikeDrCox

It's not secret I'm a little bit of a redditor. I've had people tell me how awful redditors are and how I shouldn't include myself as one of "them"but I think it's all about the SubReddits. Yes if you go to the main stuff you'll find horrible people but if you just go to your interest wheels you'll be super satisfied. I almost exclusively post in /r/Horror and /r/PopPunkers I found that this subreddit fulfill my needs and everyone there is mostly a good hearted person.

However I recently discovered a subreddi that blew my mind skull with it's brilliant hilarity. Explain Like Dr. Cox.

I haven't posted in this subreddit and probably never will but I can't lie that I get overjoyed just reading people answer everyday questions in that very distinct Dr. Cox style. If you're a scrubs fan, you owe it to yourself to also check this out.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

100 Albums That Make Me Love Music: 31. Eminem - The Slim Shady LP

31. Eminem: The Slim Shady LP

People talk about those magical moments in music. The things that changed the game. The first time the world heard The Beatles or Nirvana. I was never a part of those things ‘first times’. But I remember the first time the world heard Eminem. 

The song was My Name Is and it’s hilarious music video and catchy hook spelled instant success. When I first heard him I assumed it was a joke or a one-hit wonder. It wasn’t that I didn’t think he was talented because I immediately could tell he was, but I first heard him on our local rock station. Before this the only rap artists they played was Beastie Boys.

Much like when I talked about Weird Al a few months ago, the first time the song came out it was all anyone could talk about at Northley Middle School. Now I’ve talked about my religious background really fucking up my ability to enjoy music before in high school. I ignored this ‘foul-mouthed rapper’ for years. I talked about this previously about my secret fandom when discussing the Marshall Mathers LP.

Don’t get me wrong for ranking this higher than the Marshall Mathers LP. Eminem’s Sophomore album is his best record. It’s a masterpiece of hip-hop storytelling and is among the 10 greatest rap albums ever released. Regardless, this is my favorite album of Eminem’s. Call me immature but I’d rather listen to the over-the-top and absurd comic book violence and sex that is presented on this album (‘go-go gadget dick’, ‘I beat up Foghorn Leghorn with an Acorn’) than the most serious (but still great) side of Eminem.

I’ve loved almost all of Mather’s albums (except Recovery... which I realize I’m in the minority about but fuck it, not for me) but it was songs like Role Model and Brain Damage that really got me interested in Eminem. 

One of the best major label debuts in hip-hop history, plain and simple.