Medley of the Day: What is with my taste in music?

Honestly, I can't figure out my brain.

"Bulletproof" by La Roux (2009)

Dance party!

"The Mirror" by Spooky Tooth (1974)

I have to keep listening to this on YouTube because I'm not willing to spend $30 to buy an apparently rare album. Anyway, the combination of acoustic guitar and Foreigner/Bad Company sounding vocals is perfect. Also, acid trip synth.

"Crystalised" by the xx (2009)

I love their vocals.

"Throwing It All Away" by Genesis (1986)

I can't even express how much I can't stop listening to this song. So catchy, so pop perfect, so heartbreaking if you ignore the melody.


The hair on Mr. Bingley in P&P (1995)...

...is so incredibly curly...

...I almost thought I was watching a Simply Red video.

This song's for you, Crispin.


School of Rock 1

So the other day I was talking to my parents, and once we exhausted the common topics of parent-child conversation (mostly consisting of my mom giving me the latest gossip from home and updating me on their current television obsessions), the conversation turned to who was married to certain members of certain rock bands. While this seems like a conversation right up my alley, my parents cannot remember anything for the life of them. Let's just say at one point, my mom confused Bon Jovi, the Allman Brothers, and Van Halen, stating that they all sound the same. And then my soul died.

Anyway, I'm here to poorly inform people on the internet about what the difference between these bands are, if only to save one more person from this terrible fate. Because really, they aren't much alike at all besides the fact that they're all named after band members' last names.

So Van Halen was started in 1972 by brothers Eddie and Alex Van Halen in California, although it was originally named Mammoth. Awesome. So, they found success in their debut album from 1978, Van Halen. David Lee Roth fronted this line-up of Van Halen until 1984. After that, I don't really care. Mostly, the band is known for Eddie's ridiculous guitar solos and Roth's weird high-pitched screamy thing and on-stage spazziness. Also, the band is known for frontman drama I'm too lazy to look up.

"Dance the Night Away" by Van Halen (1979)

Is he or is he not wearing shoes?

It should be enough to explain that Bon Jovi is the band that's seen a million faces and they've rocked them all. But if not, I could see how you might get them confused with Van Halen...in that they're both part of the smilier hard rock set. Founded in 1983 in New Jersey, the band named after lead singer Jon Bon Jovi found success in cheesy rock hits off their 1986 album, Slippery When Wet (see: "You Give Love a Bad Name" and "Livin' on a Prayer"). They also may not have given you herpes if you chose to be their groupie back in the day. I base this solely on the fact that I don't immediately want to shower when I look at them. Take a listen and learn:

"Wanted Dead or Alive" by Bon Jovi (1986)

They also play for keeps.

Now here's where I have no idea what my mom was thinking with the Allman Brothers Band. I think any confusion can be cleared up by this simple formula:

Southern rock ≠ hair metal

In other words, if you feel like you're on a road trip in a car with no air conditioning driving passed miles and miles of flatland, it's probably the Allman Brothers Band. If you've got some mellow guitar harmonies happening, it's also probably the Allman Brothers. If they jam forever on a song and it sounds essentially like this:

"Blue Sky" by the Allman Brothers Band (1972)

In other news, that's a great 'stache.

it's the Allman Brothers. The band was founded in 1969 and was named after brothers Gregg and Duane Allman. Duane died in 1971 in a motorcycle accident shortly after the band found success with its live album, At Fillmore East, but the band carried on. They've dissolved and gotten back together several times, bringing in new rocking guitarists and always bringing in that Southern rock spirit with a slide guitar and Gregg's gorgeous rock vocals.

Any questions?


Best recent purchase

"My Boys" seasons 1-3.

It's like a well-worn pair of shoes wrapped in a flannel blanket. As this show's only fan, who should I convert first?


Meldey of the Day: Pandora hits me with my childhood

"The Living Years" by Mike + The Mechanics (1988)

I feel like I'm driving to a soccer game.

Children's choir! Yes.

"Valerie" by Steve Winwood (1982)

From the 1988 Roll With It concert.

Rolled-up sleeves and suspenders? Please.


This 1989 Kids Incorporated version of "The Living Years" featuring Stacy "Fergie" Ferguson may eliminate the poignancy of the song.

Here's Eric Prydz's 2004 remix of "Valerie" entitled "Call on Me." Warning: thong leotards ensue.

Cannonball Read #20: In the Path of Falling Objects

In the Path of Falling Objects by Andrew Smith ended up crazier than I thought it would go. Absolutely nothing at the beginning prepared me for the Silence of the Lambs villain that cropped up in the middle of the story.

So the book is about a pair of teenage brothers, Jonah and Simon, who live in the southwest United States in the 1970s. They've been abandoned by their mother, their older brother's been in Vietnam, and their dad's in prison. They've decided to travel to Arizona to find their brother now that he's out of the army and their dad who's about to get out of prison. Taking minimal equipment, they start walking, but then are picked up by an odd pair: a pregnant teenage girl and controlling slightly older guy. Almost immediately, they regret the decision, and things just keep getting worse.

One of my biggest complaints is that most of the story is told in first person as if Jonah is telling the story, but every so often it turns to another character and is described in 3rd person, kind of like Jonah is still telling the story, but with a ridiculous amount of insight to that perspective. Most of all, the parts that were from the villain's perspective. It took me out of the story because it seemed so out of place.

Overall, it's a decent read, but it just kept going and odd things kept happening. A hidden commune in the wilderness, death, sex, brotherly tension. I honestly thought desert sage Tom Waits would show up at the rate the book was going. Mostly, I'm just glad it's over.


Happy Fourth of July

In honor of Independence Day, I'll be watching Titanic. Because it's tradition. According to my roommate. So in honor of both America and the first film that James Cameron fooled everyone into thinking was good but was really just overly long and full of special effects, I give you my analysis from way back in April 17, 2008, 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 and 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 fleshed 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.


The blog post that keeps on giving

The latest nonsensical comment to come from my not so in-depth, but surprisingly well commented on discussion comparing Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Twilight:

Okay, I'll put it straight to you. If Twilight was just about a teenage romance (if you can call it that), then there is no point to adding vampires into the mix. Adding vampires and saying that it is a teenage romance novel is just plain stupid.

The only reason Twilight is so popular is because it lures teenagers (mostly girls I think) with young "hot" actors. Total commercial movie, no real substance.
I can't even begin to understand what this means.

And for even more Twilight insight from yours truly, check out my review of Eclipse over at take148.