Thursday, January 31, 2013

100 Movies That Make Me Love Film: 53. Eight Days A Week

53. Eight Days a Week

I would love to meet Michael Davis. In his relatively short career he wrote an action-comedy (Shoot ‘Em Up), a horror comedy (Monster Man) and 3 teen flick/romantic comedies. It’s those three romantic comedies that make me want to meet up. Yes I loved Shoot ‘Em Up and Monster Man but in those romantic comedies Michael Davis created a leading male character who narrates the film and accurately describes the mindset of an adolescent boy. Of those films Eight Days a Week was always my favorite, however the films need each other to survive.

Eight Days a Week takes place the summer before Peter and his crush Erica (Keri Russell) go off to college. Peter has loved Erica (his next door neighbor) for his entire life but it’s not until his grandfather convinces him that he must make a grand gesture to win Erica’s heart.

Peter declares his love of Erica and promises to spend the entire summer sitting under Erica’s window until she falls in love with him too. The film is told from the front lawn as Peter begins to notice the weird aspects of his suburban life. 

There’s his best friend Matt who has masturbated so much that it’s lost it’s appeal, he now searches out new and exciting ways to get off (including but not limited to having sex with a watermelon). Matt is the sexual voice of reason.

Peter also sees the younger generation following in his own steps. He sees himself in one kid, while he can see Erica’s boyfriend Nick in the local bully. 

It’s kind of sad. American Pie is praised as the Teen Flick that brought the R-rated Teen film back, but Eight Days a Week pre-dates it by almost 2 years. I’d even argue that while the acting isn’t fantastic (though I love Joshua Schaefer’s performance) it’s at times a more sincere look at the teenage boy. 

After Eight Days a Week Davis followed it up with 100 Girls which has a similar character as Peter (this time named Matt) in college and finally Girl Fever has Sam recently graduating college. These films all could have been about Peter but I believe Davis wants us to believe that all 3 guys end up happily ever after with their true love. 

Davis hasn’t written or directed anything since 2007’s Shoot ‘Em Up. It makes me sad but I’m hopeful that he’ll return to direct another teen flick in the near future.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

100 Albums That Make Me Love Music: 53. The Hippos: Heads Are Gonna Roll

53. The Hippos: Heads Are Gonna Roll

In 1999 A show debuted on Nickelodeon called 100 Deeds For Eddie McDowd. The show followed a bully (played by Seth Green) who is turned into a dog and will remain a dog until he performs 100 good deeds for people. The show was cancelled after 40 episodes so you can only assume that Eddie McDowd is now dead, but regardless, the opening theme was a ska song. By this point I was a full out Ska kid and I loved this song and had to find it.

To this day I still can’t find the specific song but in my digging I found out that it was performed by The Hippos. I immediately went online and purchased their only two albums Forget the World and Heads are Gonna Roll. While I adored Forget the World for it’s crazy upbeat ska sounds, Heads are Gonna Roll blew me away and quickly became my favorite album of all time (and despite being #53 on this list, still is my favorite album of all time).

For Heads are Gonna Roll The Hippos decided to blend their Ska sounds for Forget the World with a New wave-y synth-driven pop songs. Every song on this album has single potential. The hooks are infectious, the music can only be described as fun but sadly this was their last (real) album.

I remember the first time I heard Wasting My Life and just thought, these guys know how I feel. They’re love sick but humorous about it. They can’t stop doing things out of a strange love devotion. From the opening drum beat of Lost it to the final strum of Paulina (Reprise) the boys in The Hippos have bared their hopelessly romantic souls. 

If you’ve never heard The Hippos before in your life, I recommend you purchasing this album. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Self Observational Sunday: When The Real World Hassled Me

Straight Up What did You Hope to Learn about here
If I was someone else would this all fall apart
Strange where were you when we started this gig
I wish the real world would just stop hassling me
- Matchbox 20 “Real World”

This song will always represent the summer of 1998 for me. This isn’t shocking; if you grew up around this time you know how impossible it was to avoid Matchbox 20 in 1997/1998. Their album Yourself or Somebody Like You was just a hit generator that would not quit. It’s hard to even pin down the biggest single off the record as it had at least three top 5 songs. But despite all this Real World is the one that makes me think of 1998. Specifically one particular week I spent in Maryland with my (then) best friend’s family.

I think we’ve all had a best friend like mine. For the sake of his own privacy we shall call him Martin. Martin and I met in Pre-K and became friends. For the most part he was the only true friend I had in elementary school (I mostly hung out with kids that didn’t like me much or were simply the kid of my parent’s friends) however Martin and I genuinely got along and enjoyed most of the same things. I don’t think we ever fought. My parents even became close to his parents. However when I was in 3 rd grade Martin’s family moved away. They didn’t move too far (about 30 minutes away) but when you’re 9 they may as well be dead.

We did everything in our power to stay close. I’d spend a week at his house in the summer and then he’d spend a summer at my house. It’s funny that I consider him my best friend because honestly there’s not a ton of memories I have; mostly just birthdays and those 2 weeks every summer. The only glaring difference is the week my family stayed with his family in their beach house.

I admit this is sounding like the opening on a Stephen King novel. No that week we didn’t develop telepathic powers, search for a dead body or fight a killer clown/spider thingie… mostly we crabbed, went to the beach and watched TV. The reason I remember it is two reasons.

1. Matchbox 20’s the Real World. That song was on TV and the Radio every time we turned one on. It was ridiculous. We’d turn on MTV… there’s the music video; turn on the radio… It was on; we even saw them perform it as musical guests on 3 different talk shows that week (2 late night shows and one morning show). It became so ridiculous that we couldn’t help but laugh about it. I hear the first few notes of that song over a decade later and I’m transported back to those memories… and then I remember

2. It was pretty much the last time I ever saw Martin. I’m sure there was another sleepover or birthday party mixed in there but by this point we were both in 7th grade… making new friends and we fell out of touch. My mom and his mom still spoke on the phone and years down the line we became facebook friends but still never found time to hang out or reconnect

I’d been thinking about this topic for a while now. Something kept telling me to write it and maybe Martin would read it when you posted it on facebook and maybe that would lead us back down the road of reconnecting. For the last few weeks I’d considered messaging him on facebook and working out a time for us to get lunch and hang out. Yesterday my mom told me that Martin’s family checked him into rehab for heroin addiction. It’s funny how we lose touch with the people we love the most sometimes.

This one is for you Martin. I hope you're well, I love you and I can't wait to reconnect.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

100 Movies That Make Me Love Film: 54. Once

54. Once

I remember in 2006 working in a video store when Once arrived a few days before it’s street date. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to watch it as people told me it was a musical. I don’t have an issue with Musicals (frankly I love most of them) but I like things like Little Shop of Horrors, Anything Goes and Dr Horrible things that are fringy and weird. At the end of the day I have a hard time calling this a musical.

Once is about an unnamed street musician who meets an unnamed flower seller one night. Together they become friends over their mutual love of music and start writing and playing songs together. The reason I refuse to call this a musical is because the songs are all natural in the movie. No one breaks into song, the only music comes from these two performers singing

Furthermore the songs don’t drive the plot forward lyrically, they’re simply performances about the characters lives. 

The film was shot on a literal microbudget (only about $160,000 in the US) but contains some of the most beautiful songs ever written. The song Falling Slowly received a well deserved Oscar victory as well as a Grammy nomination.

If you just like good music then you should track down this movie because theres’ not much to discuss to the plot. It’s a beautiful love album how music connects people.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

100 Albums That Make Me Love Music: 54. Violent Femmes

54. Violent Femmes

I remember hating Violent Femmes at first. I considered them wuss rock in Junior High. By the time I reached High School however I loved them BECAUSE they were wuss rock. Their self-titled debut is their masterpiece (which shouldn’t be a shock). The album  contains their 3 biggest mainstream hits as well 3 fan favorites. 

I remember laying awake listening to y100 at night and hearing Blister in the Sun and Add it Up constantly. Despite being songs from the 80’s the completely represented the “alternative rock” sound more than most alternative artists of the 90’s did. 

This is an angsty album with songs like Kiss Off and Gimme the Car. Gordon Gano pulls his aggression out and spills it across the pad and paper through the entire album. The albums not all pissed off rage however, songs like Please Do Not Go and Prove My Love are beautiful little ditties of high school love. 

The band has had a fair share of bitter feuds and a couple disappointing albums but I think the fact that the band went 9 years without releasing hardly any new material before breaking up 4 years ago is the most disappointing. 

Whenever I write a song it’s always with the hope it’ll come out sounding like something on this record or it’s follow-up Hollowed Grounds. So far I haven’t come close.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Self Observational Sunday - Sorta Writa

I’m a writer. I promise.

I know it’s hard to believe but I am a writer. It’s just that I suck at finishing what I started. Currently I’m working on a variety of different things yet it feels like none of them are even close to completion. Sometimes when I say “I’m a Writer” I feel like a liar. I feel like those guys who drunkenly did an open mic once and start saying they’re a comedian.

Maybe I feel like that because I also do that.

I guess I’m sort of a comedian? I’ve never claimed to be a stand-up comedian. Perhaps I should just say I’m an entertainer. That’d technically cover all the bases; but if I’m not entertaining than I’m a liar once again.

Let’s take a step back in time. If you were to look at my childhood you’d notice that a big chunk of it was spent in front of the TV with my toys. I would ‘direct’ them to recreate stories I had written. In my basement I produced performances of Ghostbuster 3, Jaws 5 & 6 not to mention Ace Ventura 3 and at least 3 different adaptations of X-Men for an audience of myself.

I even have papers I wrote in 1st grade stating that I wanted to make movies when I grew up. This has never stopped; but I’ve been sidetracked multiple times. I’ve been sidetracked over the years with (a) laziness and (b) pop culture obsession. The only thing I like more than creating music, literature, comedy and movies is dissecting them. I love having an audience listening to me. It gives me a thrill. However if you’re a relative nobody like myself (I’m just barely an internet celebrity) no one gives a shit what your opinion is.


I actually have a few scripts I’ve been working on although only one of them is remotely close to being finished (currently in it’s 7th draft) while the rest are in their first or 2nd draft or in most cases just a brief plot outline.

Beyond that I have an idea for a book of essays written in an autobiographical style (very Chuck Klosterman inspired) as well a few columns for websites and magazines. I mean I guess in theory if I have writing assignments than I’m a writer. I just don’t feel like one.

Right now I’m working on an article about Tuesday being the 10 year anniversary of the Chappelle Show premiere; hardly following the dreams of the ambitious five-year old filmmaker. At least thanks to my new years resolution I’m forcing myself to pull from my life and create sincere blogs from a personal place instead of the usual movie/music review.

That being said I have no fucking clue what to write about next week. Shit.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

100 Movies That Make Me Love Film: 55. Super

55. Super

A few months ago when I discussed Take Me Home Tonight I said there was one other film from 2011 that would be appearing on this list. It was this. I probably watch somewhere in the realm of 1,000 new movies every year (thank you Netflix and occasional unemployment). While I enjoy most of the movies I watch for either the reasons they hope for (the movie is well made) or ironic reasons (it’s so awful that it’s incredible), but few tend to leave an emotional resistance with me; this list is obviously compiled of those films that left an imprint on me and Super certainly does that and more.

Super tells the story of Frank D’Arbo (Rainn Wilson), a short order cook who lives a rather bland and disappointing life. The only piece of joy in it is his wife Sarah (Liv Tyler), a recovering addict whom he met at work. One afternoon Sarah is missing, Frank discovers she’s run off with a drug dealer and strip club owner named Jacques (Kevin Bacon). After the police won’t help him Frank decides to become a super-hero.

He goes to a local comic book shop looking for inspiration when he meets the energetic comic shop employee Libby (Ellen Page). Frank creates the persona The Crimson Bolt and starts fighting crime armed with a wrench. The Crimson Bolt quickly becomes a media sensation although he’s viewed as a violent psychopath. When he’s wounded in a botched attempt to rescue Sarah he goes to Libby for help.

Libby immediately wants to join forces with Frank and become his Robin. While he’s originally not for the idea due to her emotional instablity, she eventually convinces him that with his wound he needs the help. The two of them storm Jacques home to rescue Sarah. Libby is killed by a stray bullet and Frank stabs Jacques to death.

In the end Sarah and Frank don’t end up together. She does however stay clean, marries a man she loves and has children. Frank lives alone, but remembers fondly his days as The Crimson Bolt and being Uncle Frank to Sarah’s kids.

Super was written and directed by James Gunn, who has a track record that most writers would dream of. Super is his masterpiece. The levels of subtext and emotion are beyond impressive as well as his lack of fear at making his characters potentially unlikeable.

The film is constantly being compared to Kick-Ass, this is unfair for a few reasons. Super was originally written years prior to the Kick-Ass comic’s creation for starters. But the biggest difference is that Kick-Ass‘ sense of realism starts to crumble mid-movie, Super keeps it going from start to finish. It shows the psychological aspect of what would happen to someone if they decided to take the law into their own hands. Frank goes from sad and pathetic to being short-tempered and resorting to violence to solve even the simplest situations (like butting in line).

None of these characters are 100% good people. Kevin Bacon (the villain mind you) is the most likable character. Frank you sympathize with, but you also get the feeling that he’s mentally not all there. Libby is completely insane and her death is justified and necessary.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

100 Albums That Make Me Love Music: 55. Soul Coughing: Ruby Vroom

55. Soul Coughing: Ruby Vroom

The first time I heard Soul Coughing was in 1995 when they released the single Super Bon Bon. It was one of those songs so weird and different and with such a strong What the Fuck factor that it was impossible to ignore. My cousin went out and bought the album Irresistible Bliss. Neither of us were fans and quickly forgot about them until the single Circles a few years later. While Circles was a massive hit for the band I still didn’t give the band much attention until one day my friend was listening to Ruby Vroom.

This is one of the most bizarre albums I’ve ever heard. It’s like Alternative and Jazz had a baby that spoke only in weird free form beat poetry. The first song I heard off it was Moon Sammy, a song that contains lyrics like ‘Behind the wall, there is a chair. Moon Sammy knows, the chair is there’. Regardless of the Dr. Suess-style lyrics the song was intensely catchy.

However I still wasn’t won over by the album until the second listen when I heard Bus to Beelzebub. The song is a bizarre story about a bus going to hell and samples Powerhouse by Raymond Scott (known as the Looney Tunes assembly line song). There’s something about the upright-bass driven song and sample that just got me extremely happy whenever I heard it. It was that and Casiotone Nation where the songs that made me run out and buy the song.

Soul Coughing still has a sound that no one has ever been able to match. With a clean electric guitar, upright bass, jazzy drums and random samples all work together to help to make the songs sound more incredible. The album was filled in Sunset Sound Factory in Hollywood. The studio had a storage room filled with toy-whistles, rattles and other random toddler instruments. The bands started bringing these into the studio and playing around to create an even more unique and bizarre song.

After living in California I can comfortable say that the song Screenwriter’s Blues best describes the life of Los Angeles. Between the sadness of the song, the desperation of struggling for money and the rantings of M Doughty.

Soul Coughing released two albums that while sold better than Ruby Vroom was not as well received by critics or fans.  The band broke up and Mike Doughty became a solo musician.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Self Observational Sunday: What's in a Name?

Let’s talk about Genre

I love music, this should be obvious to anyone that has been friends with me on Facebook. I have my own song-a-day page, I’m blogging a list of the 100 albums that make me love music, I throw charity concerts, etc. I love music so much that Genre’s begin to blend together. This has been made extra clear to me on one of my favorite subreddits /r/poppunkers

I feel like Genre is a tough thing to specifically pin-down. As genre’s evolve they expand; suddenly people are part of the genre by association. The most controversial (and most downvoted) posts on the subreddit involved two artists: “Weird Al” Yankovic and Weezer.

The “Weird Al” fiasco happened over the summer. I decided to post his parody of “American Idiot” titled “Canadian Idiot”. It’s a fun little parody, far from his best but let’s face it “Weird Al’s” style of anarchy laced parodies and originals is punk attitude in a comedic New Wave package. Surely I thought, this parody of Green Day’s explosive hit would go over huge. How wrong I was.

“Weird Al’s Not Pop Punk” was the overwhelming reply. While I agree with the statement that doesn’t necessarily mean that his parody of a pop punk song isn’t. It’s not like he changed the music and turned it into a polka. The song sounds exactly like the original track (which is accepted as pop punk).

The next offense I made was posting something off Weezer’s Blue Album which someone stated wasn’t pop punk but Alternative Rock. I again don’t disagree.

Here’s the issue I have with genre. Music is like a Venn Diagram to me (specifically rock music). Everything stems from various overlapping influences. Pop Punk almost falls into a category even more difficult to properly pin down; I mean by name alone it’s a combination of two of the most disputed genres.

What constitutes a pop song? Pop is short for Popular music, which originated from 1950’s rock and roll. By definition Pop music can pretty much be anything N*Sync, Michael Jackson, Drake,  Bobby Vinton, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Costello and Katy Perry have all been labelled pop artists in one form or another. It’s ridiculous that a label can cover so much ground.

Then we look at Punk. I mean how many stupid conversations have stemmed from just the argument of who the first punk band was. I mean the typical debate is The Ramones vs. Sex Pistols (A Stupid Argument because if you acknowledge The Ramones as a punk band at all than they have the Sex Pistols origins beat by 3 or 4 years... argument over) but then elements of attitude come up. What about The Stooges or The New York Dolls or The Velvet Underground? I even made the argument that if you define The Ramones as the first official punk band you have to include 90% of the musicians from the 50’s as punk rockers. I mean if anything that’s what The Ramones entire career was; writing (and occasionally covering) faster versions of rock songs from the 50’s.

So what should be constituted as Pop Punk? To put it simply. If you identify yourself as a fan of pop punk; then everything you like could be part of that fan experience. I’m sure you’re going “that’s retarded” but let’s think for a second about some of the “Pop Punk” music festivals out there. Things like Warped Tour and Bamboozle are made up for mostly pop punk bands; but then you have artists with varying pop punk influence that perform. There’s been rap groups like Jurassic 5, Atmosphere, Black Eyed Peas and mc chris. Bands like Weezer and Bon Jovi have headlined festivals plus countless ska, swing and rockabilly grounds and even 50’s Surf Guitarist Dick Dale or 2 different tours. 

I guess the point of this little essay can be summed up into two simple things:
  1. We need to stop being so defensive of title. If you like it, you like it, if you don’t like it you don’t. But to simply dislike something because it’s not to your exact specifications of the genre seems silly. Weezer may not be a pop punk band but they are a major influence to some of the bands that are and even wrote what many consider the original emo record. There’s more to a genre than the non-existing guidelines that you created.
  2. I don’t understand genre and this is just a whiny complaint about reddit downvotes
Talk to you next week!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

100 Movies That Make Me Love Film: 56. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

56. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

When I think of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind the first thing I think of is the amazing trailers. It told you absolutely nothing about the movie but gave you a sneak peek at how imaginative the film had the potential of being. The film is truly a masterpiece.

The plot of Eternal Sunshine seems simple enough. Joel and Clementine break up. They both have a copy erase each other from their memories. Mid-way through the erasing process Joel changes his mind and tries to hide Clementine in new memories where they can’t find him.

But that’s not what the movie is actually about. That’s simply what happens in it. The movie is about life. It’s about how every moment of it (good or bad) are important for our growth. It’s not just about love. As Joel tries to hide Clementine in his past we learn more about his character’s childhood. We see his tortured childhood and his absent family. We begin to feel for him.

Over the years I’ve started to feel like Clementine is more of a bitch than I remembered her being. I wonder sometimes if I’d still feel this way if the movie was reversed and we were looking into her childhood. 

Regardless the script by Charlie Kaufman is adorable regardless of Clementine’s attitude and it’s gorgeously shot by Michael Gondry. Definitely one of the finest Science Fiction Romance films ever made.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

100 Albums That Make Me Love Music: 56. Bishop Allen: The Broken String

56. Bishop Allen: The Broken String

Bishop Allen went from a band I had never heard, to a band I became obsessed with every quickly. It started one evening when my friend randomly sent me a link to a song. That song was News From Your Bed. It’s catchy sing-along style burrowed itself into my brain and wouldn’t get out. 

About a month later I rented Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and sure enough the band is in that movie as well. However they perform the song Middle Management and it sounds TOTALLY different that News from your Bed. What feels like a day or two later my friend Dennis invited me to go to a Bishop Allen concert later that month. So while only knowing 2 songs I went.

I left with a copy of The Broken String. 

I love/hate records like this. It’s a beautiful crafted album with lovely lyrics, melodies and stories to be told. I love albums like this but what i hate is that these albums never retain the magic of that first listening. 

I remember listening to this CD for the first time while driving alone in the mountains. It was late and night and raining. I was driving to meeting up with my friend Jackie so she could follow me back to the mountain house where we were staying. I remember hearing Rain and Click Click Click Click while driving on those windy roads and thinking ‘this is amazing.’

There’s just something about the way that Justin Rice sings and the instrumentation that Christian Rudder uses on songs like Flight 180 and Like Castanets that just pull you into this weird but beautiful world of sounds.

While News from your Bed remains my favorite song on the album the lovely Butterfly Net holds a close second. The beautiful whispery female vocals and soft uke is enough to make your heart melt.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Self Observational Sunday: Teen Flicks that hit a Perfect Pitch and make me Reminisce

Every time I watch a teen flick it makes me rethink how I spent my high school and college years. It makes me contemplate if my life would be different had I not been a Christian in high school or if I had attended a college with dorms? Would I have had more sex? Would I have had more memories?

Not unlike Chuck Klosterman in his book Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs I blame pop culture for this glamorization of everything I feel I missed out on. Klosterman blamed John Cusack for his lack of sex life… I blame teen films in general for time wasting “what if” scenarios. 

The latest film to completely captivate my brain is Pitch Perfect. This film is dumb by most film standards. There’s no real artistic achievements nor is the story hyper unique (it’s basically Bring it On meets Mean Girls plus Singing… I’m not saying that’s a bad thing). The film even made it to #8 on my list of the best films of 2012. However I’ve watched this film at least 6 times; well more than any other film released this past year… and I saw it for the first time less than two weeks ago.

Why do I love this movie so much?

I won’t lie, the music is a good element, but it’s not exactly worth watching the whole movie. I like the songs in Rent but I still dislike the movie in general. It’s also funny and quotable; but it’s not something where the jokes constantly hold up. By the 3rd time watching it many of the punchlines (granted not all of them) had already lost their comedic punch. 

The reason is that it depicts a world of college that I never experienced with characters I’d love to have known. It’s quite ironic that the first time I watched this movie it was with the people who I spent my college years with, yet I’m looking at this college kids and thinking “what if?”

Could I have gotten a girl like Anna Kendrick? Probably not. But then again… maybe? She’s not supermodel hot but she’s approachably cute. The reality is that I can dream about being leading man Jesse all day long, but in actuality I’d have been his geeky roommate Benji. Not necessarily a bad thing since Benji gets to sing one of the best songs in the movie (Magic by B.O.B featuring Rivers Cuomo of Weezer). 

Teen flicks have this power of us (or at least me). It gives us a vision of worlds we never would have experienced. This movie makes me wish I attended a college that had an a cappella group (although in keeping with the ‘I’d have been Benji’ theory I definitely would have gotten rejected) or at least a radio station (which I definitely would have joined). Perhaps this is anti-productive though. While all these things seem cool, I certainly have plenty of great memories from my college years.

I wish I could understand my obsession with these films. I love horror movies but only a handful of them can I remember the first time I watched them. I can remember the first time watching every. Single. Teen flick. The obsession began with Can’t Hardly Wait.

I saw Can’t Hardly Wait right after the last day 6th grade. For some reason I just felt more like a man that day. I wasn’t just some kid any more; I was on my way to the 7th grade. I was a man. That movie is/ was/will always be amazing. It remains one of my favorite films ever made (and it turns 15 years old this year… jealous I’m getting old). I even remember after graduating high school going to a small graduation gathering in the Valedictorian’s basement (yes I was the kid who was friends with the Valedictorian) and we watched it realizing that it still accurately represented our graduating class. In fact the only films that came close to being that accurate were the American Pie films.

American Pie more than any other film completely encapsulates the high school experience. Prom Sucks, Classes are boring and most of the time you’re thinking about sex. Sounds like how High School was for me (just with the added addition that I was a devote Christian at the time and fought back sexual activities to the best of my abilities --- usually I failed). I recently was told that I remind them of Jim from American Pie. Well… actually it was a mix of Jim, J.D. (Zach Braff) from scrubs and Eric Foreman from That 70’s Show… but whatever I’ll take it. The way I see it they are referring to my nerdy, hopeless romantic way in which I carry myself, however while I do see elements of myself in Jim. The Jason Biggs character I relate to the most is his character in Loser.

When Loser came out I was obsessed with it. It wasn’t a very good movie, nor was it particularly funny (David Spade has a great cameo but beyond that there’s zero laugh out loud moments). But I connected to that movie instantaneously. The reason? It gave me hope. I was Paul Tannek and I’d watch that film almost every weekend of high school hoping that come college time I could get a girl as sexy and sweet at Dora Diamond (the hottest character Mena Suvari ever played). Of course, my chances definitely would have been better had I not attended a commuter campus.

But I’m getting way off track. What I wanted to say was if you’re a fan of Pitch Perfect and want to hear more A Cappella check out Chapter 6. They’re pretty great.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

100 Movies that Make Me Love Film: 57. Hairspray

57. Hairspray

Before I knew who John Waters was I knew of the movie Hairspray. I had never seen it but I was aware of it’s existence. Strangely I always was aware of the movie Pink Flamingos. That was the film that got me into John Waters and I quickly started to see everything he had made previously.

John Waters is one of my all-time favorite writer/directors but when I saw his family friendly PG film Hairspray I was shocked at how incredible it truly was. 

With in the first few notes of Rachel Sweet’s “Hairspray” you’re already put into the nostalgic days of the 1960’s music. As the opening credits show various kids dancing you start to realize that unlike Waters’ earlier work this movie comes from a very real/very personal place.

Hairspray tells the story of Tracy Turnblad a plump but caring girl who ends up on the popular dance show “The Corny Collins Show”. She immediately because a fan favorite much to the annoyance of the privileged Amber Von Tussle. The film uses their battle of wits and growing racial tensions to actually tell a touching story of being true to yourself and standing up for what you believe in.

I don’t think anyone was more shocked that the film was given a PG rating than John Waters who previously had to battle for R ratings on his movies. Regardless the king of Shock created a heartwarming movie filled with great dance sequences. It was later turned into a Broadway musical and film adaptation neither of which holds a candle to the original film.

It also was the great Divine’s final film which is quite upsetting because on how fantastically she portrayed her double acting role as Tracey’s Mother as well as the Evil TV producer Arvin Hodgepile.

A film for the whole family (despite being intensely bizarre and weird at times).

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

100 Albums That Make Me Love Music: 57. Weezer

57. Weezer (The Blue Album)

In 1994 I had just discovered music. My cousin Dave had lent me his Offspring and Green Day albums and it changed my life. Green Day immediately became my favorite band so even though I knew Buddy Holly was one of the best music videos I’d ever seen I hated Weezer early on for them beating Basket Case for the best music video award at the 1994 MTV Movie Awards.

It wasn’t until a year or so later when I was watching MTV early one morning and saw the Say it Ain’t So music video. I couldn’t deny how catchy it was. I finally picked up a copy of the album most people agree is one of the greatest rock albums of the 90’s. It’s certainly one of the most successful albums of the decade spawning 3 hit singles and at least 2 radio hits that weren’t official singles. 

The album starts off with a quick acoustic guitar riff before rocking out into the opening song My Name is Jones. The energy contains for 40 straight minutes into the closing 8 minute jam session Only in Dreams. This album shows off Rivers Cuomo’s songwriting and Matt Sharp’s brilliant falsetto and harmonies (which has sadly been missing over the last 11 years).

Cuomo’s songs are sincere and witty. He is unashamed to show off his geekiness in songs like In the Garage. And writes about people he knows in a way that you almost feel like you know them as well (with stuff like My Name is Jones) and also shows his quirkiness on singles Buddy Holly and Undone (The Sweater Song).

Since the release of this album Weezer followed it up with the critical and commercial flop (but now highly praised) Pinkerton before breaking up. While Pinkerton is a more brilliant album in almost every way, the blue album is still the album I prefer, it’s catchier and way more fun. What can I say I love pop music.

After their break up the reunited in 2001 and have been rocking ever since. All their post-Pinkerton albums have been highly criticized and trashed but personally I love them regardless. Because as I said... I love pop music and Weezer still writes some of the best pop songs in rock music.