How to bond with your roommates

-Swimming in a nearly empty pool on a perfect weather day
-Marathon of How I Met Your Mother season 1
-Late night decorating including lots of construction paper and glue sticks (I'll have to take a picture of the flamingos--which were all me)
-More How I Met Your Mother, this time season 2
-America's Next Top Model
-Fresh baked cookies
-Totally waking each other up because of snoring/noise/or lamps on
-Being lazy together
-Late nights


Confession: I now officially love Panic At The Disco

Wednesday, in an effort to expand my contemporary music horizons, I decided to buy Panic At The Disco's new album Pretty.Odd. I declare this as one of the few albums that has only taken me one listen to adore. I've been reading some random reviews on amazon.com (only the best) that a lot of people were appalled at the change in direction of the band (apparently you can be too much like the Beatles). I don't really know their first album that well (I did just order it, so I can compare albums when I get it), but I absolutely loved this album.

1. The old timey cover and photos of the band members. And the fact that Spencer (pictured below with a box of Famous Amos cookies), the drummer, and Jon, the bassist, rock some beards.

2. The songs are mostly upbeat and feature gorgeous melodies with some lush harmonies. Usually I find songs that are just "meh" on an album that I always skip, but each song on Pretty.Odd. has some hook/chorus/bridge/harmony that I love about it.

3. Brendon's distinct voice. It's pure but powerful.

4. The lyrics are crazy in a great way. "Mad as Rabbits" is like a combination of the Beatles' druggy "I am the Walrus" and the spoofy Flight of the Conchords' "Prince of Parties". It's very self aware, but not obnoxiously so.

5. Horns! Nothing makes me happier than a horn section. It just sounds more genuine and gives a retro feel that I love.

6. Track 13 "She Had the World". Harpsichord, orchestra, harmony, and unrequited love from the point of view of the loved. My favorite line, "I swear I didn't ruin her/I just made her more interesting", exemplifies the fluffy, nonchalant tone of the song. Plus we get to hear Ryan's very young sounding voice on part of this song; whenever he sings it reminds me of System of a Down's Daron Malakian singing lead on "Lonely Day".

7. These guys are my age (20-22 years old). For some reason that gives me an instant connection with them and a stake in their musical future and I like it.

Anyway, I'm obsessed with this album at this point. You should check it out.

I'll leave you with a video of the band performing one of my favorite songs "When the Day Met the Night" live. It's hilariously crappy footage, but you can hear really well. You can tell they're pretty decent live, which give them exponential bonus points.

Just imagine it it with a horn section...


Good YouTubes:

On occasion I find a YouTube video that doesn't make me want to slit my wrists. This time a found a sweet fan video for How I Met Your Mother featuring the interesting match up of Barney and Robin (and especially one of my favorite episodes "Zip Zip Zip"). Considering this weeks episode where we not only got a new Robin Sparkles music video, but also a fantastic hook-up, this a very timely video. It's short, sweet, and lets us hear some awesome Barney lines.

Also, you should watch this show if you aren't already. It's hilarious.


Titanic: Greatest disaster flick ever?

Most of the world got it wrong*. Titanic(1997) is not a romance. It's a disaster movie--a horrifying disaster movie. I'm not saying that's a bad thing. In fact, it's kind of an awesome thing. And really, what else could you expect from the man who wrote all three Terminator movies, Aliens, and Rambo: First Blood Part II**? Not anything less than terror and shallow character development.


First of all, let's map out why Titanic is pretty much just a disaster movie (or horror if you prefer):

1. Ironic Foreshadowing
Every disaster movie has to have some really awkward exposition detailing how safe everyone is. If it's a meteor, something about the odds of it hitting earth are very slim. If it's aliens, they're probably nice. If it's a boat, it's unsinkable. In any case, all of this quickly becomes moot as disaster becomes inevitable. Going into the movie, the audience knows what's going to happen, so these lines are always ironic. In Titanic, this works to create a facade of romance--they're now star-crossed lovers!

2. A confined place
The characters must be trapped in something in order to create tension later on. This could be anything from a house to a ship. Titanic gets bonus points for continuing to create a confined place the further the boat sinks. The more water fills the boat, the more cramped the space becomes and the more opportunity for chaos (see #6).

3. An attempt at emotional attachment to characters
Usually a girl and a guy meet at the beginning a end up hooking up in the course of the movie. In The Day After Tomorrow it was Jake Gyllenhaal and Emmy Rossum (body heat cures hypothermia, you see). In Titanic, two lovers from different social classes end up really liking each other, sneaking off to spit off balconies, draw/pose for a nude drawing, and hooking up in a very fogged up car***. By the time the Titanic hits an iceberg, we have two characters to root for that we want to stay together.

4. Really bad decisions by the ones in charge
Usually, "Hey, let's ignore this problem." In this case, "Hey let's go really fast in a ship that's already lacking essential safety equipment like enough lifeboats for everyone." Of course it's the worst idea ever.

5. Huge disaster happens
Aliens start shooting people, zombies start attacking****, a boat hits an iceberg.

6. And things continue to go wrong
People start to die. Chaos breaks out. The ship starts filling with water and Jack is hand-cuffed to a pipe downstairs and no one is around to help except Rose and her horrible axing skills and then they can't get on a lifeboat together and then the boat breaks in half and then...it keeps going. Basically, horrible things happen.

In the middle of the chaos, looking sufficiently terrified.

7. Only a few survive
Usually, someone really important or likable dies in the midst of the horror. Um, SPOILER, in Titanic, Jack dies. And so do over 1,500 other people.

8. Half-assed inspirational ending
Hope in America/humanity/love is restored or something. Titanic actually subtly shows us through photographs how Rose lived a very full and adventurous life, but only after having some cheesy lines from the treasure hunter about never thinking about the people on the Titanic before. Then Old Rose throws "The Heart of the Ocean" into the ocean and presumably dies reminiscing of her lover on the RMS Titanic.


Now why did Titanic become the most successful disaster movie ever? The little extras:

1. It's based in history
--which means you can totally take it serious and add in poorly developed subtext about social class. There's more context to work with, which gives Titanic more depth.

2. Great costuming/sets
A lot research and effort(money) went into creating this world and it's very well done. Part of the reason it's such an engaging watch is because nothing looks out of place and is simply gorgeous.

3. Awesome FX
At least for 1997. Some of the CGI is pretty obvious, but overall, the effects are great. Creating a giant sinking ship is very impressive, and it was very well done in this film.

4. Spent a Bollywood amount of time on the relationship we're supposed to care about.
The first half is mostly just spent on the characters and is fairly light-hearted. We get to see more of the main couple than is usually afforded in a typical disaster/horror movie, and therefore become more attached to their destiny. Although not enough time to care too much.

5. The leads do a good job
I'll admit it, Leonardo DiCaprio is actually pretty good. I never got caught up in the Leo craze when this movie came out*****, but I can see the appeal now (suspenders anyone?). His character's only flaws are his association with prostitutes (how Rhett Butler) and his poverty. You can't get much closer to perfection. Also, Kate Winslet is, in all seriousness, radient. In basically a reprise of Marianne from Sense and Sensibility, she has enough spunk to keep the audience interested. Both of these characters are much more likable than the one-dimensional caricatures that usually reside in disaster movies.


However, I still claim this movie is not a romance. To put it simply, because it's not a character movie. It's plot driven. There's little chemistry and little development in the relationship******. The characters on their own are likable enough, but they just don't do much for each other. Almost immediately they like each other and their relationship is sweet and brief. Where's the sexual tension? It's a romance that's more told than shown because so much time is spent in setting up the all the pieces (characters, social-class, the Titanic's greatness). The interactions are perfect for setting up a young crush, but to label that as an epic romance is false. I can see calling it a coming-of-age movie since Rose grows up and escapes her family, but ultimately not enough time is spent on it to even call it that.

And that's what it comes down to. There's more time dedicated to the disaster than the actual romance itself. The relationship is still more flushed out than in other movies of its kind, but when it comes down to it, the relationship is still shallowly explored and way too easy. In the end Titanic is still just a disaster movie. A true and therefore more believable disaster movie that does it's job well. It's filled with tension and protagonists we like, and it has a decent plot outside of the ship wreck itself. Some extra time on the setting makes this the greatest disaster flick of all time.

*$1,845,034,188 worth wrong. Although it is hard to judge a person's motivations for seeing a movie based on box office stats.
**Okay, co-wrote with the help of Sylvester Stallone's genius.
****Yes, zombies are a natural disaster.
*****Nor did I actually see the movie for the first time until about 4 years ago.
******Although not George Lucas underdeveloped. That's just hard to beat.


Medley of the Day: Quirky Edition

First up, They Might Be Giants "Don't Let's Start." This is my new stuck in my head default song.

I already made my sister watch this yesterday, but just because I'm addicted to this song right now, "Sax and Violins" from the Talking Heads.

This one is from the Fun Lovin' Criminals (featuring one of the deepest/best voices ever). It takes a little big to get started, but I guarantee the chorus will get stuck in your head for days. Here's "Bump".


Really Awesome Phrase of the Day

The Phrase: "Verbally Copulating"
Source: Lost, Season 1, Episode 6
Context: Charlie (played by the adorable Dominic Monaghan) witnesses some really obvious flirting between Kate and Jack and expresses his disgust with the phrase "verbally copulating."
Why is it so awesome: 1. Said by a British man, 2. an intelligent way to say "you're gross".

I'm rewatching season 1 to up my Lost nerdiness, and I realized this scene is even funnier than I remembered. Watch the phrase in action:

Bless whoever posted this great scene.


Actor Appreciation: Shahrukh Khan

I'm craving a Bollywood movie. Admittedly, I've probably seen about 7 or 8 Bollywood movies, I'm no connoisseur. But of the ones I have seen, I especially love the ones with Shahrukh Khan, one of Bollywood's biggest stars. If you haven't experienced the endearingly incorrigible actor that is SRK, do yourself a favor and track down a movie staring him.

Check out the excessive bare chest/shoulder. Yesssss...

I've heard that Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge is like the Bollywood equivalent of Titanic (in the sense that they're kind of epic romances that got out of control popular), but let me tell you, this one is way more entertaining. It's about 3 hours long, but like most Bollywood movies I've seen, it's like watching 2 movies.

The first half is very comedic following a recent college graduates in London played by Shahrukh Khan and Kajol *(this on-screen pairing is apparently also out of control popular). Kajol convinces her parents to let her go on a trip to Europe with some girlfriends before she must enter an arranged marriage. Khan also ends up going on a trip to Europe, too, and wouldn't you know it they meet! Khan is somewhat of a flirt with little decorum. Kajol is a dreamer, but is very traditional. Fights filled with sexual-tension and vacation misadventures ensue.

By the end of the first half, they both realize they love each other, but don't admit it. Kajol goes back home to face her impending marriage. Khan goes back home to mope around and drink beer with his dad, until his dad convinces him to go get the girl. So Khan finds Kajol's house empty, only to hear from a neighbor that the family has gone to India for her marriage. Before all hope is lost, Khan finds the cowbell that Kajol bought in Europe--surely a token of her affection--and follows Kajol to India.

The second half is epic! Khan weasels his way into the wedding preparation to slowly making his move to marry Kajol. Will there be a showdown? Will the lovers get together, or will they be shot down by tradition and marriage promises?

Frankly, this movie is ridiculous. I laugh during at least half of it (laughs of appreciation and love).But like I said, anything is great with Shahrukh Khan in it. He is not particularly handsome, but he wins you over with his warm personality. Khan's just playful and charming enough that the movie works. He dances great (did I mention the musical numbers?) and cries like a champ. Really, you can't lose.

The movie I may end up watching this weekend is the one SRK movie I own: Kal Ho Naa Ho. Hilarious beginning, insanely dramatic second half. Tightly-wound and emotionally wounded girl, the best friend who loves the girl, and carefree and loving man who shows them the way despite his own feelings. So great. Plus, this one really does have great music (that none of the actors actually sing, as per usual). The "Pretty Woman" cover is great and filled with overt American propaganda since it's set in New York; "Maahive" features some sweet engagement clothing as well as a cameo by Kajol (!); and my favorite is "It's the Time to Disco" at the local dance club's retro night. SRK is more of a fatherly figure in this one, but does have some great scenes. And did I mention the crying? EPIC!

"It's the Time to Disco" for you viewing pleasure.

Anyway, I recommend both of these movies. Get yourself some snacks, bask in the glow of Shahrukh Khan, and make a night out of one of these.

*Forgive me, I'm just going to use the actor's names.


America's Next Top Model: Bringing roommates together

Nothing brings an apartment together like a good episode or 12 of America's Next Top Model. Whether it's the trashy drama, ridiculous photo shoots, or the crap the judges say in deliberation, people just love this show. I got my boyfriend in high school to watch a good chunk of a marathon one day (as well as his mom and at least one sister). Forget American Idol, or America's Got Talent* and just watch and love the inherent hypocrisy of this show.

So, in the spirit of family togetherness, I'll join my sister in creating a dream team:

Okay, so the sister lineups are similar. Too bad. We just have great/similar taste. Anyway, arbitrary reasoning below:

I love Whitney because 1) she's sassy and 2) looks normal. Anya is creepy and nymph-like; I guess that's my reason to like her. I'm waiting to see Katarzyna become awesome. I think she's actually could get some real modeling work, so the judge better not kick her off because of her "lack of personality" blah blah blah crap. So far, she seems to be fairly normal. Also, it's good thing she got rid of "that weird Eastern European tackiness" (thanks Paulina!), otherwise we might have another Natasha on our hands.

*Note, I would probably watch So You Think You Could Dance over any episode of ANTM. Good dancing actually does take talent.