Monday, February 9, 2009

Sincere Flattery

Dear Cold Play,

I love you. I really do.

I don't care if they call you watered down Radiohead. We all already knew that and it's OK. Very few people operate in the Radiohead spheres of Awesome and no one really expects that of you. There's really only room for a few; The Beatles, Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Earth Wind and Fire, and Kurt are up there and that's about it.

I'm writing because I'm feeling a little disappointed. It's been one thing after the other after the other lately. Whats going on guys??! You're all amazing musicians and writers and showman but I'm getting a bit tired weathering your lack of tact or capacity to distinguish the line between "influence" and "thievery".

You're already neck deep in the nasty copyright lawsuit about Vida la Vida...

You're costumes for the Grammys
have sort of been done before...
I mean, what were you thinking?! It may have been cool on paper but truthfully (and I wouldn't say this if I wasn't a friend) they scream "delusion of grandeur" and "overcompensating". You're doing well, but like I said before, you're not there, not yet. Yes you're from England, yes you're brilliant, yes you're all hot but don't get ahead of yourselves.

In your defense you did give proper props and thanks to the original gentleman so you preempted some scrutiny. Well done there.

However, and this is the point of my letter, I recently saw your latest video. I was excited because this my favorite song on the new album (well done there too), however, about 15 seconds in I was a bit ill at ease -

It sported that efforted, non-charming kind of silly, eerily familiar look you've taken to lately. I thought about it for a second and by the bongos it came to me -

Gentleman! Beck did this, like, 3 years ago. There is NO WAY you all could not have known that. Now, I know marionettes aren't exactly a copyrighted medium but come on. Either you need to desperately hire a fact checker, a media specialist, or retain my services because you're batting 0.

Beck is totally known for his performance art versions of a set and especially the marionettes. They centerpieced is 2006 tour. Everyone knows this. Especially the everyones that buy your albums. He even staged his puppets trashing Radiohead's dressing room. Beck is phenomenal. I'm never disappointed in him because he is a bonafide original. I'm considerably less inclined to pay the same compliments and respect to yourselves.

You are artists! You understand the angst of creating something and how you desperately hope it will be respected and received and that whatever you're trying to say will be heard. All of this is quite disturbing because of someone fronting their field YOU. SHOULD. KNOW. BETTER.

You should be setting the standard like the gentlemen who rocked those jackets first did, not skating around the edges of credibility. Get it together guys. Put the beers down and start thinking again dammit!

hopeful that you'll do the right thing and come up with something original on your own and save yourselves from becoming the band version of a formula studio trilogy,

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Title: The Last Kiss
Director: Tony Goldwyn
Original Release: 2006
Awesome Rating: Thumbs Up


It was the last something. I don't know what it is about movies with the word "Last" in them but it seems to be the kiss of death.

The Last Legion -

Last Action Hero -

The Last Unicorn - I know... HEYWAIT! WARMFUZZIECHILDHOODMEMORIESNOTOUCHZONEALERT. Just go back and watch it. Now. As a grown up. Stellar cast but it gives new definitions to the terms "tone deaf" and "repeat photography". It's a gloriously bad movie, but a bad one nonetheless.

Save the Last Dance - another warm fuzzy flick but lets be honest, its a glorified after school special. Much like Ferngully: the Last Rain forest.

I Know What You Did Last Summer...

There were a few good ones that have dodged the curse:

The Last Samauri
The Last King of Scotland
The Last of the Mohicans
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
X-Men: Last Stand

So any forensic specialist, such as myself (I've completed the 15 hour course of Law and Order viewing - don't worry) can see that only John Williams, super powers, being on foreign soil, or all 3 can or will save you from the Curse of Lastness. This movie had none.

Zack - you let me down man.

Garden State set such a high bar for the faithful indie music jokesters that compile and populate the Zack Braff message boards. We were expecting the back lit 5' Taz plush Fair prize of a movie and what we got was a snaggle-toothed mini-stuffed opossum from a carnie with a strange semblance who looks at you like you ought to be pleased. Those milk bottles are weighted man -

It wasn't a train wreck of a film but it was much like unto teaching a 15 year old how to drive stick in a parking lot with speed bumps. Completely unpredictable, deafeningly irrelevant, angry but with a good soundtrack.

It had all the bones of a good movie, great actors, multiple and entwining story lines, rural town setting... All cinematic properties were in effect except everything employing the art of story telling ie: pacing, editing and writing. They seemed to have been second to a lot of sex and couples endlessly fighting and then making up with a shrug.

If you're looking for realistic relationship type stuff I suggest Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It drives home the point much better.

Sorry to be brutal Zack. I still love you but I gotta write whats on my heart. No snaggle-toothed opossums here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

My Real Friends

Show: How I Met Your Mother
Seasons: Currently running in 4th
Network: CBS
Awesome Rating: Exploding High 5

My reconciliation with television has been a long process. We broke up for a long time. Reality television was catastrophic and I never got into Friends or Seinfield. I know, I know - I'm from a different planet. I never liked 90210. If something its too popular its my knee jerk reaction to abstain. I know - I'm bonkers, but thats a whole other blog.

The last show I really liked before I found Lost was My So-Called Life. After Lost I wandered into the hilarious halls of Arrested Development and 30 Rock, fell in love with Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (RIP - you were ripped off Alan Arkin. I'll witness). I got sucked into Heroes, The Office, Rome, Avatar (more on that later), and for a bit Fringe.

So when I had more than a few people buzz at me about this show my first impulse was "I'm all full up. I'll let Best Week Ever keep me current on the rest" and for the most part I have but some of the clips that I saw of Barney Stinson kept me laughing for days and I decided to put in the little red envelope request and I wasn't let down. This is a great show.

This isn't a ground breaking show of any kind. It's just a really awesome version of the good parts of a lot of different shows. Its told in retrospect like The Wonder Years so there is this overarching sense of closure even though you don't know what's going to happen next. This is a group of much more approachable people who act like adults, very funny adults mind you, but adults, not over indulged adolescents like some other ensemble show that takes place in New York...

The cast is a perfect blend of believable bonkers. Ted (the protagonist) has two very different but believable best friends. Marshall, his college roommate who is a simple, hilarious, slightly oafish Minnesota guy going to law school that sings about every thing he does who has been with his girlfriend Lilly for 9 years who is your typical red headed, buck ten, kindergarten teacher by day, beer chug contest winner by night girl. The other, mine and everyone's favorite, is Barney Stinson. The over the top casanova who you'll never see out of a suit or without a pick up line played by the timeless Neil Patrick Harris who recently earned a Golden Globe nomination for his magic tricks, rapier wit and delivery. Robin is the inital love interest that gets folded into the group is the tolken Canadian and career girl.

Its funny but it feels real. The stories escelate and never die much like they do with a group of friends. The jokes keep running through build on themselves much like Arrested Development did. Everything from slap bets to articles in each other's apartments. Its awesome. They either have great writers or the sense to hire a contunity director, or both.

Its the little things that I really like about this show. Like every character is either eating or drinking something in nearly every scene. TV too often I think doesn't depcit this but real people eat and drink. There is alot of alochol in this show, I'm not going to lie, but people do drink. A lot. The girl's clothes are AWESOME. Stylish without being alienating (like Sex in teh City), its funny and witty without being alienating either.

What I think I like most of all is the intergity of these characters. Like they're all not dsyfunctionally codependent on each other. They all have cohesive lives outside the apartmet or bar and each one is really independent in their own way. Consequently they each bring a really different flavor to the table at McClarens. Much like a group of friends I'd rather be in.

I'm only half way through season 2 at the moment but I really like what I see. I'll keep you posted but I doubt I'll change my mind

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Not the Same Old Schizz

Show: Wicked
Venue: The Pantages
Awesome Rating: Exploding High 5

My relationship with this show goes way back. Yes it is a relationship, that's how much I love this show, music, and story.

I read Gregory Maguire's book that spawned the whole thing. I don't recommend it. The show tells the story much better without the graphic, horrific, and pointless tangents Maguire manages to get himself lost in every 30 pages or so.

It started when my brother handed me a burnt copy of the show's music to keep me company on a drive home from Utah once. I'd seen the ads for it all over NY when I was there during that Spring but didn't get around to seeing the show. I was curious. It didn't leave my CD player for a good 3 months and I declared it the new love of my life to all who would listen. I read the book and prayed that the show would be different when it made its way to LA. When it did I saw it with a group of friends for one of their birthdays and was completely and totally blown away. In the good way. Like couldn't move from my seat for a few minutes after the curtain call or stop clapping during it. This show made me feel and think and love all at the same time. Most shows only make you feel something but without much brain power or they make you think but don't move you. Its rare when a show does both for me and with such amplitude. It was immediately shortlisted.

The music is so good and so smart it stands on its own without a show and is so descriptive that I had literally staged the whole show in my head numerous times the months I sang along before the show got here. When it finally did I wasn't let down. I was dreadfully unimaginative compared to what they brought. They deliver an Oz scaled production and characters. Galinda is beyond presh. She makes being a girl fun again, and credible.

I saw it for the 5th time with my best friend over Thanksgiving weekend and it was still an amazing and moving experience. I've cried every time but once. Its a story about two VERY different but very good women and about friendship and sacrifice and life and what it deals you and BRILLIANTLY address social norms that we don't typically air out in pop culture. Like what makes something good and what "good" really means. Like is something better or just permanently changed? Or both?

The Anti-Bush sentiments are in full force, but what do you expect? It's Oz...

It's closing in a few weeks and I will miss it but I think that I did it justice while it was here.
I love the theater so much. Its such a different medium for thought and experience than movies or books or concerts. Its its own wavelength with its own brand of awesome and amazing and this show qualifies for both. You feel smarter when you leave and entertained and enriched. You're asking questions about things and concepts, not people and costumes. Its as much of a message as it is an entertainment and I think TH ATS why I love it so much.

If you haven't seen it yet, go! Right now! Quick! Like a bunny! Before it leaves.

Seriously. Go defy gravity and be popular and be changed. For good.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Title: For Your Consideration
Director: Christopher Guest
Awesome Rating: High 5

Christopher Guest and his posse make the world a better place. It’s a fact, probably a scientific one at this point.

Spinal Tap - Classic
Best in Show – Marvelous
Waiting for Guffman – even better (my fav of all of them btw)
A Mighty Wind – Presh

His most recent effort, For Your Consideration, a satire on Hollywood and the movie/entertainment culture was my most recent red envelope and I love loved it for all the normal reasons that I love Christopher Guest Movies.

Its subtle brilliant writing, every single person in the cast is good enough to lead it but smart enough to just gloriously be in the ensemble, everyone is hilarious and is the relatively same brand of hilarious and gets the other people’s brand of hilarious and they don’t compete with each other, they work together. Its highly quotable, the humor distills on you because its layered. You get things (well I do) a week later and have a hearty laugh all over again. The Christopher Guest brand is pratically necessary to cope with modern life. I don't think I could think of a better way.

Fred Willard is a gift to humanity and should work till he dies. He made this movie for me. He and John Michael Higgins

Eugene Levy needs to work till he runs out of steam too.

Jennifer Coolidge is one of the funniest women that has ever walked the planet. She made A Mighty Wind for me.

Parker Posey, I heart you. Lots and lots.

And I could go on and on. I laughed at this movie, I cried, I empathized, I cringed, I did everything that Christopher Guest movies make you do and I remain the lifelong fan I’ve been. Carry on good man, carry on.

Prepare to Smolder

Title: Quantum of Solace
Director: Marc Forster
Awesome Rating: High 5

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was for this movie. I think it would be an understatement to say I love James Bond and I love James Bond movies, because it would be.

I adore James Bond. I think he's almost a perfect character. He's Every Man but The Man’s Man too and he does it all with a myriad of awesome gadgets, in a flawless suit, a British accent, and HOT cars. I’m not sure there could be a more perfect man for me.

I love the concept of Bond Girls too. That may be a bit of a betrayal in the eyes of uninformed self-proclaimed “feminists” but I say Nay. Bond Girls are awesome. I think it’s a not-so-secret wish of mine to be a Bond Girl. Because not just any pretty face/model lady can cut it as a Bond Girl. Oh no – it is a coveted and sought after title that few have in Hollywood. They’re brilliant, capable, and kick butt and they do all of it while being devastatingly beautiful and perfectly dressed. They’re as much of an idealized woman, I think, as Bond is the idealized man.

And don’t start me on how perfect Daniel Craig is for this part. I might go on for 3 days about how blue his eyes are or how his delicious perma-pout is or his nearly perfectly proportioned soccer player body and perfect understanding of the character so James’ famous one liners are perfectly delivered, or how well he wears vests (which are the singlur piece of clothing that always brings me joy). Don’t get me started…

Casino Royale was a marvelous experience for me. I saw it three times in the theaters and own it now. I had high hopes for Quantum of Solace and when I heard that MY car, the car of my heart and dreams, The Aston Martin DB9 (if I had this car I would never need the physical aspects of a marriage and I would have 10,000 if its babies) was to be The Bond Car this time around, if it was possible, I was even more excited.

So imagine my let down when I got to the theater and I only got half of the movie I wanted. It was a good movie, don’t get me wrong, definitely worth seeing, but it’s not BOND.

Firstly – where are the gadgets??!! There were NO cool secret cameras or paralyzing spray in the form of a tuxedo button or a tazer that could stun an elephant that was a dangle earring, NOTHING like that. There was some kind of Star Trek data pad that was kind of cool at MI6 headquarters but that was about the extent of the technology flex the film had.

Secondly – The Bond Girls. They totally weren’t Bond Girls. Eva Green was a perfect Bond Girl. These other two were beautiful but there was NO moxie, not real threat or presence on the screen. Bond loves the women he does because they challenge and fascinate him. They’re on his same level of intrigue and excellence. These girls might as well have been cocktail waitresses. They were scenery, not players like Bond Girls are, and I was disappointed. And I don’t think it was because of bad writing or the characters. They were written well, I think it was casting, I think the two girls they had just weren’t Bond Girls at heart. They had no desire to kick your trash make you love them because they did. THAT’S how Bond Girls work.

Third and lastly – this is Bond not Bourne. Alliteration doesn’t give you license to blend storylines or chase scenes.

Let’s step it up and remember the formula next time around boys, do I make myself clear? Good. Impress me.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Catching Up

So I have a myriad of updates for this blog and the thought of doing a post for every single one of them kind of makes me want to curl up in a corner and talk to myself.

So to alleviate the possibility of needlessly getting put on medication and still not letting my 3 faithful readers down I'm gonna break it down A-Team Montage style.

The Hotel Cafe and Concerts Front

I've seen 5 shows since Episode I.

Episode II-
Rogue Wave
Awesome rating: High 5

They were great. When I first heard these guys I thought that their vocals were the same person re-dubbed a few times because their blend was so perfect and counter-tenory but I was happily proved wrong when every single player in the band was a vocalist and a gifted one. And you know me and a band with good vocal technique (lovelovelove!!!).... They were amazing. I'm still looking for one of their songs. Their bass player was amazing but looked like a slightly intoxicated extra from Deliverance. He made for good watching though.

Episode III
Mandy Moore
Awesome Rating: thumbs up

I know, I know. Mandy Moore???! As in Candy and A Walk to Remember? Yesh - that one. After the Zack Braff break up she decided to let herself feel a little bit more and had the good sense to date Greg for a stint too and the musicality rubbed off. Her new stuff has bit of grit and personality. Patrick and I went and it was surprisingly fun. She had the microphone up too high the whole time and was singing with her neck strained looking up and that sort of bugged me but she was up there with just her guitar/piano player who was also a co writer of a lot of her stuff and it was good. The music was catchy and they played a lot of stuff that was still embryonic and for the new record because the Hotel Cafe is a perfect place to flex new stuff. We're a supportive audience.

Episode IV
Steven Kellogg and the Sixers
Awesome Rating: Exploding High 5

This was one of the funnest shows I had been to in a while. These guys are more folk rock than the normal indie singer/songwriter stuff that I grab at the Hotel Cafe but I LOVED it. All of the guys are ADORABLE and the music was fun, upbeat, positive, well written and really loved by the band. You could totally tell. All of them were just having a blast and it leaked out into the crowd. I went with the timeless Lauren (who was in town for the Swell Season concert) and we just giggled and smiled the whole set long. They even took time to tell us their favorite bad jokes during a bridge and played a euphonium as part of a song and as an ode to a band members band geek roots. Absolutely wonderful

Episode V
Greg Laswell
Awesome Rating: Exploding High 5

Yes, yes. I saw him again. No I'm not stalking him. He's just that good and was just as amazing as all the times before. One of his songs from the new album has been on every episode of Grey's this season and a few other shows. I almost dry heaved when I wandered into my mother's room and she had that HBO vampire wannabe-Twilight show on (True Blood, I think) and my Comes and Goes in Waves was playing (which is still the most played song on my extensive iTunes). I was lit for Greg that hes getting such exposure, but the really bad vampire show???! Come on. Greg is way too good for that. Grey's - I can get behind that. I have no doubt he's going to be huge and getting into his shows will eventually be an expensive claustrophobic nightmare so I'm enjoying him as much as I can right now when there is breathing room and a chance to say whats up before the show.

Non-Hotel Cafeness

Ingrid Michaelson
Venue: House of Blues Anaheim
Awesome Rating: Exploding High 5

This was my 2nd time seeing Ingrid. The first was at the Hotel Cafe tour in April and she was a stand out performer then and considering what the line up was that's saying something;

Greg Laswell
William Fitzsimmons
Cary Brothers
Jim Bianco
Priscilla Ahn
Jessica Hoop
Ingrid Michaelson

I originally went to the show for William Fitzsimmons. He isn't signed and its hard to find gig of his so when I saw this and started scrolling through the line up it might as well have been Christmas. I was like What? Wha??! WHAT?? with every name down the line up. It was like everyone I was listening to and loving. It was a fabby show because there were acts I didn't know either hence I left a big Meiko and Ingrid fan.

Ingrid has gotten some serious radio play and stuff since then and has her OWN tour now and so that's what I went to with my marvy friend Molly. Ingrid is a NY girl that just knows who she is and knows shes good at what she does and she is SO comfortable on stage and so the whole show is equally fun and comfortable. She's infectious and so smart. She used the world "proclivity" (in regards to the men she dates and their baldness) in a radio interview I heard once and the interviewer just stammered. It was brilliant and I knew we could be best friends. I wouldn't expect anything less from a red headed Long Island girl with saucy glasses. I think I really am developing a girl-crush. I don't know many people who can turn a ukulele and a Death Cab cover into a spiritual experience. My favorite song of hers remains "The Chain". I love her voice, I love her writing, I love her moxie and vulnerability. Shes a gloriously human artist. She talks smack about her junkinthetrunk during shows and convinced us to sing along louder by painting a picture of a date where she asked to touch our boobs. How can you not have a girl crush on someone like that? I mean- really....!

Her openers were marvy too. Newton Faulkner has had my attention this week. He plays guitar like the kid from August Rush and has brilliant resonance and a head full of delishly crazy dreadlocks. Totally fun on stage.

Album Front

Artist: Snow Patrol
Album: A Hundred Million Suns
Awesome Rating: Exploding High 5

I've had this album recommended to me by 3 people in the last 3 weeks and I finally got it from Christian this last weekend when I was in DC and it's life-changingly beautiful. Every track has grit, poetry, passion and is dripping with that organic kind of expression that most Celts and their art have. It goes straight from their heart into yours, none of this pit stopping in the brain stuff. Favorites are The Golden Floor and If There is a Rocket Tie Me To It.

Artist: ABBA
Album: Mamma Mia Soundtrack
Awesome Rating: High 5

I know I'm a bit late on this train but for some reason it just really resonated with me last month. I sang my little heart along and came to the conclusion that its physically impossible to be sad when listening to ABBA. Like, they can be singing about really heavy and sad things but you're smiling and feeling the need to dance the whole time. I heart ABBA and I really heart this movie. Its just above the Muppets in terms of believability and viscosity but I love it nonetheless. If I'm in half as good shape as Meryl Streep when I'm that age give me a gold metal. Seriously.


Movie: Swingers
Director: Doug Liman
Release: October 1996
Awesome Rating: Exploding High 5

I'm also WAY behind the times on this one too. I've been quoting it since high school and I know and love all of the actors and creative talent involved but I have never sat down to watch it ever. So it came up in my queue and was waiting for me when I got home from DC and it was a perfect way to come home to LA. I really love this city and movies like this remind me why. High quotability, fantastic costumes, I could drink up that Vince Vaughn in 3 frosted mugs, smart writing and almost sardonic direction, and its all about LA! Practically a perfect movie? I think so. Is she looking at me now? How 'bout now?

Donde Esta la Biblioteca

Book: The Twilight Series
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Awesome Rating: Tumbs Up

I liked these books. I really did. I LOVED them before the 4th one came out. I was dedicated. I really was. I even dragged a guy friend to a midnight party for the 4th book. I was that excited. I had high hopes but with the 4th book it was kind of like an amazing song that had you all emotional and then ends with a massive atonal double hand slam on a piano keyboard and everyone walking off stage.

Exactly. Like. That.

I think it wasn't edited properly and rushed out and Stephenie didn't have time to Stephenieify it like she did with Twilight. I remain in love with Edward, Alice is my best friend (have any of you met Tracy? Totally Alice. Girl Scout's honor), and Emmet is my fav in the family. I just adore him. Stephenie needs to take some baby naming lessons, that's all I'm going to say about that AND read Midnight Sun if you have a sec. It will exponentially multiply your love for Edward and help you get over any Bella hatred (like it did me). She still drives me crazy but I think I can stand her now that I've seen her through Edward's eyes.

Book: The Ranger's Apprentice Series
Author: John Flanagan
Awesome Rating: High 5

So I originally read these books because a male type to whom I recommended Twilight that read them declared that it was "his turn" and my assignment were these books. It only seemed fair and it's adolescent lit type medieval fantasy. How bad could it be right? There are currently 8 books in the series, 4 only available in the US (it's an Australian series) and I read the 7 of them that he had and was pleasantly surprised. The first 3 books were a bit oooohhhhkaaaayyyyyyish. Just your standard coming of age of a scrawny orphan kid (Will) story by means of learning how to be a "Ranger" or part of the kingdom's intelligence/CIA type force of fighters. Characters were sweet and the plot was captivating enough to let me finish but nothing life changing or evoking the "my kids need to read THIS" reflex.

However, the continuing story and cast finally hit a stride in the 4th book and it continues through the 7th. I'm currently in the 8th right now (and yes I did order it from Australia. Freight isn't what you think it might be) and I'm really enjoying them and I really do think "Yes, my kids do need to read these. They need to know these people and learn the lessons that Will does." They're sweet and of good report. So yay for recommending Twilight and getting something just as (if not more) sweet in return.

Book: Pride and Prejudice
Author: Jane Austen
Awesome Rating: Exploding High 5

I'm making my yearly round on the text and it is still new and familiar kinds of wonderful and as giggle inducing as ever. I love Jane. I love Lizzy. I love Darcy. I love this story and it never ceases to amaze me and make me want to be a better writer. I will always have hope because I will always have Jane.