Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Just like any pretentious blogger is apt to do (and, believe me, I've fallen into several of the traps that bloggers fall into), I feel the need to list my favorites for the year 2011. If something magically changes in the next several days, I will make a revision, but let's assume that the best I've read/seen/heard has already made its mark.


The Tree of Life
Midnight in Paris

If anyone knows me, the first two are quite obvious. Terrence Malick and Woody Allen are up there with the Coen Brothers on my short list. That being said, this would be the first Woody movie in years that I would consider to be great, and I'm as shocked as anyone that a movie starring Owen Wilson (not directed by Wes Anderson) would be near the top. For Tree of Life, there are just so many spellbinding visuals (not even bringing up the dinosaur sequence), and such powerfully-restrained performances, it brought me back to my childhood in small-town Pennsylvania. I didn't think Drive would make my top five, but the movie stuck with me. Bridesmaids was the funniest movie I saw this year, and, Moneyball - well, I'm a fantasy baseball nerd and it held up to my hopes (one exception - Philip Seymour Hoffman turning 6'3" Texan Art Howe into a bit of a schlemiel). The one movie I wanted to see that would probably be on my list is The Interrupters, but it had a very limited release in Los Angeles and I missed it. Just from the trailer, I know I'd eat that documentary up.


Friday Night Lights
Parks and Recreation

The series finale of FNL brought the show to a perfect ending, although I'd be happy if they do follow through with a movie. Don't see it really happening, though. If not, I'll just settle with the fact that Eric and Tami Taylor might just be the best married couple in modern dramatic television.

Three scenes can make it all clear regarding the next three: the "Apple Pie" scene with Margo Martindale and Timothy Olyphant that ended season two of Justified; the drunken reactions of the Pawnee Parks and Recreation Department after drinking Snake Juice; when Louie opens up and tells Pamela how much he loves her, yet understands that it will never be.


The Whole Love - Wilco
w h o k i l l - tUnE-YarDs
David Comes to Life - Fucked Up

The Wilco one was a no-brainer for me and an incredibly biased choice, but it is their most fully-realized album they've done since Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, so it has that going for it, which is nice. tUnE-YarDs became my treadmill album, which sounds like a back-handed compliment, but it's meant in the best way possible. In short, it grooved. The Fucked Up album is a little more difficult. Yes, the lead singer sounds like he gargles Hydrochloric Acid. Yes, it's loud as hell. But it's as ambitious and, in many ways, compelling as anything out there. It's more of a vote for being memorable than enjoyable, if that makes any sense.


Just Kids, Patti Smith
Popular Crime, Bill James
The Art of Fielding, Chad Harbach

The Patti Smith book put me in its time and place more than any other book I read this year. Bill James' book was a strange, curmudgeonly experience, but altogether fascinating. Harbach had fully-realized characters mixed with a John Irving eloquence.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Frosted Pumpkin Pie Pop Tarts

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is pumpkin pie and its many variations. Whether it's the pie itself, or Cheesecake Factory's pumpkin cheesecake, or pumpkin ice cream, I'm all over it. So it was a moment of great excitement for me when Pop Tarts came out with a Limited Edition Frosted Pumpkin Pie version of their breakfast treat. To me, this was going to be the greatest piece of foodstuff ever invented, or the most vile concoction ever set forth on the universe. I didn't think there was going to be a middle ground.

I know your first reaction - Pop Tarts are nasty. I have to disagree. While they're not something I could eat everyday, a Frosted Cherry P-T, brought to the right temperature (just barely browned), is a quality sugar rush. While some of the flavors obviously should not be even tried (Hot Fudge Sundae), I was ready to dive in fully for the pumpkin pie flavor. In fact, I felt that it was my duty.

So, after all is said and done, are the Pumpkin Pie P-Ts a masterpiece or a disaster? Actually, neither. They're surprisingly sedate. I guess because the possibility of pumpkin pie filling overwhelming the whole thing was quite possible, they kept it minimal. Probably too minimal. The frosting wasn't too much, either.  It was...pleasant, but not thrilling. I am disappointed only in the sense that I was expecting an A-plus or an F. Instead, I got a solid B. It ain't Frosted Cherry, that's for sure.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bands I Want To See At Coachella 2012

I didn't make it to Coachella last year, so I'm sure that I'll have the itch to go this time around. That all depends, as usual, on the lineup.

Not that the people who organize the event care whether or not I go this time, but to make the odds better that I show up, here are some of the bands I'd like to see at the event, broken up into bands likely /possibly showing up to the event, and ones who would take some finagling, or perhaps a miracle, to attend.



Pulp got back together last year to play some of the festival shows in the UK this year, and it would make perfect sense for them to attend. Lead singer Jarvis Cocker has played the event in a solo capacity, so I feel like they would be on the list.


This year, when Annie Clark was in town, her concert was on the same night I was going to another show (Wild Flag, I think). She's been on the list for me to see for a while, so she'd be a great second-stage, late-afternoon artist.


Honestly, I just want to see the first ten rows having no idea how to react. On the other hand, my fear is that the first ten rows will know exactly how to act, so I'll stand over on the side a bit, thank you. Check out some of their live videos if you want to see some spent energy. I'll stick with the artsy concept video for the link.


I saw them a few years ago, and they were so good that I skipped The Hold Steady, who are traditionally known as a superb live band. I'd just like to see them graduate to a bigger stage. Here's a video of them all getting killed by twee.



I know they don't seem to get along, but the Pixies didn't, either, and they pulled that off (and they're still cashing mean, playing together...years later). Come on, David. One more time.


Rumor has it that this was a possibility until Paul Westerberg had an accident with a screwdriver, needing surgery. Any chance he's better now? Both Talking Heads and The Replacements fit into the category of Bands I Missed Seeing Live. Let me make it up in one weekend (and, yes, I know it won't be the same without Bob).

There are several other bands I could put on the overall list: eels, a Grandaddy reunion, Dum Dum Girls...I could always see Wilco or Radiohead. Since Sigur Ros isn't quite broken up, yet, they'd be nice to see. Who would you add to this list?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A General Reminder

Just reminding people that Albert Finney is a badass. That is all.