December 2007 Archives

Vikings 2007

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Remember when I said this?

Just forget that I said that o.k.?

Music 2007

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I really shouldn't be doing a 2007 music review as I didn't listen to a whole lot of new music but it's the end of the year, I have a blog, and I listen to music so here goes...

Soundtracks/Compilations: I did listen to a couple of Soundtracks this year. One I really enjoyed was from the movie Once. The movie was great and the music was integral to the story, heck it was the story. Fortunately the songs stand on their own outside the movie theater. Glen Hansard's spare compositions get under your skin. Highlights are Falling Slowly (which is the story of the movie) and When Your Mind's Made Up. The duets are nice too. Across the Universe was another soundtrack I listened to. Unfortunately it doesn't rate as high as Once. The movie was so visually stimulating it's hard to take these songs away from the movie. It comes across as another Beatles cover album. Speaking of Beatles cover albums, I also really enjoyed the Darfur album full of John Lennon songs. There were a lot of surprises here and I found myself coming back to this album time after time. Strong songs include U2's Instant Karma and Power to the People by the Black Eyed Peas. Definitely a keeper.

Rock: I got Neil Young's Chrome Dreams II just for buying two tickets to his Northrop concert. It was o.k. The two long rockers were pretty good. Probably not an album I'll listen to much in the future. Wilco's Sky Blue Sky was definitely one of the albums of the year. It had a real 70's vibe for me and Nels Cline's guitar work was jazzy cool. Jeff Tweedy was in fine vocal form and I really dug Either Way and On and On and On. The concert made me appreciate Impossible Germany, and Hate it Here is a great post break up song.

Alternative/Punk: Spoon got so much press that I just had to check them out and Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga was pretty damn good. I should be listening to more of Spoon and may check out their back catalog. Arcade Fire's album Neon Bible was treated as a lost Gospel. Of course it couldn't possibly exceed the praise but it's a pretty damn good album. The year's highlight for me was the Klaxon's Myths of the Near Future. Arty, Punky, nothing like you hear on the radio. This is the one to turn up real loud. Thanks Timmy B for turning me on to this. Radiohead's In Rainbows took a while to warm up to, but I'm really start to like it. Not as good as O.K. Computer (what is?) and I probably like Hail to the Thief better but still pretty damn cool. This band has set the bar so high we sometimes forget that most music pales in comparison to Radiohead's o.k. stuff (I'm talking to you Shane). Finally a disparaging word about the Shins' Wincing the Night Away. God that album sucked. I can't believe anyone likes this crap. Biggest pile of dung I've heard in a long long time.

Singles: Young Folks by Peter, Bjorn, and Young is by far the song of the year. Infectious tune, cool vibe, and kick ass whistling. Can't count how many times I heard random strangers whistling this groove. Close runner-up: Gone Gone Gone by Robert Plant and Allison Krause. What a cool country-infused song. I always turn it up when I hear this one. Almost close runner-up: Anyone Else But You by Michael Cera and Ellen Page. Closes Juno and is a perfect coda to a nice little movie. Can't help smiling listening to this one.

What were your 2007 music faves?

Movies 2007

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Here are my favorite movies of 2007...

I’m Not There. Movie of the year hands down. If you know the story behind Dylan, seen Don’t Look Back, read the David Hadju book, etc., the movie may have more meaning, but it is glorious nonetheless. Great film making from a Director who truly loves the subject matter. A must see.

Juno. Very arch, but with a heart of gold. I felt at times that the 16-year old Juno was witty and composed way beyond her years but we do see some vulnerability come through at the end. I saw this movie with my teen kids, including my daughter who is adopted and whose birthmother was 13 at the time of her pregnancy.

Superbad. Raunchy, profane fun. The thing is, guys think, act and talk just like the characters in this movie. I thought the ending was great as it laid out exactly the emotions guys go through when deciding when to leave their pals for regular sex with a girlfriend.

Across the Universe. Great vision, great music. On par with Moulin Rouge but without the choreography.

Into the Wild. Beautifully shot, emotional, thought provoking. Sympathetic to Chris McCandless while also showing the hurt he created in those who loved him.

Once. Nice, quiet little movie with characters you absolutely adore. Simple story, simply told. No big surprise at the end, stupid subplots, or unneeded characters. Great music that is integral to the story.

Pan’s Labyrinth. I think this movie was officially released in 2006 but didn't make it to Mill City until 2007. Great vision, set pieces, and acting. Very dream like, you wish it were a fantasy story.

Biggest Disappointment: I Am Legend. It had potential but it turned out to be a big zombie chase movie. Definitely wait for the DVD.

What were your favorite movies?

Books Read 2007

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Here’s my annual review of Books read this past year. Mostly non-fiction because that’s what I like!

Gettysburg Gospel – Gabor Boritt
Although only 2 plus minutes long, the Gettysburg Address is arguably the most famous speech ever given. Not well received or understood when it was spoken at the dedication of the Gettysburg Cemetery, it grew in esteem over the decades. Abraham Lincoln is easily our most fascinating president.

Shape of Things to Come: Prophecy and the American Voice – Griel Marcus
Another dense and oblique treatise from Griel Marcus on the meaning of America: From its glorious founding as the bright City on the Hill, America was constructed on a promise that that was so vast it could only be betrayed by its citizens. However through that betrayal American gained its voice. Griel uses popular culture to show us the connections between this ideal and the betrayal. Like I said it’s dense and complicated. Think of Bruce Springsteen’s album Nebraska and that’s what Griel is trying to describe only he takes 350 plus pages to say it.

In the Trees – Richard Preston
A fun and compelling story of a bunch of scientists who actually climb into 350 foot redwood trees to study them, creating a new science as they go. Absolutely fascinating and amazing. Highly recommended to all.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling
The 7th and final book of the Potter series and Rowling actually pulls it off. As usual, a gripping page turner except for a slow “camping trip? in the middle. A fun end to a great series.

Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light – Patrick McGilligan
Biography of the great director. Great insight into the movie making process, Hitch’s life and the golden age of Hollywood. Covers a lot of the same ground as the Spoto book but if you like Hitchcock, you want to read this book.

Worst Hard Times – Timothy Egan
Fascinating book about the families that stayed in Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas during the dust bowl years. One of the greatest man-made disasters ever created and we hardly know anything about it. A must read if you like recent American History

A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry of the Beatles – Mark Hertsgaard
Focusing on the creation of the music that we all love, this book provided a great insight into the Beatles and their songbook. If you want to learn about the songs, their inspiration and their creation, this book is a must.

The Replacements: All Over But The Shouting – Jim Walsh
Oral History of the Replacements that I reviewed here. I find myself going back and re-reading passages. The oral history style can be limiting at times but still a great read.

The Natural – Bernard Malamud
Baseball as great literature. Although an effete, urban intellectual, Malamud perfectly describes the sights, sounds, smells, and characters of pre-WWII baseball. If you’ve only seen the movie, you also need to read this book, but be careful, the story isn’t wrapped up in mom and apple pie at the end. Third time I read this book.

Cool of the Evening: The 1965 Twins – Jim Theilman
Story of the 1965 American League Champion Minnesota Twins. Now over 40 years since their historic run, it was fun to read how much of an interesting team this really was. Only a Herculean effort by Sandy Koufax stood in the way of the Twins first World Series Championship.

Chimes of Freedom – The Art of Bob Dylan’s Art – Mike Marqusee
Second time I read this book. If you want to discover how Bob Dylan’s early work reflected and shaped the politics of the early 1960’s this book is for you. A great companion to A Day in the Life reviewed above.

Into the Wild – Jon Krakauer
I read this book when it first came out and re-read it after I saw the movie. The movie is great, the book is better. Fascinating tale of Chris McCandless and his journey to find himself. The book and movie may be sympathetic to Chris but both don’t shy away from describing the emotional damage he left behind to those who loved him.

Never Mind the Pollacks – Neal Pollack
About the third or fourth time I read this book. Side-splitting funny, vile, disgusting, and oh so right on. The adventures of Neal Pollack -- world ‘s greatest rock critic who, in Zelig-like fashion, finds himself discovering all of the rock’s greats. Neal’s father was killed by Elvis Presley, cried “Judas? when Dylan played his second acoustic set at Freeport, gave Lou Reed his first blow job and shot of heroin, turned Iggy Pop into what he is now, was an amnesiac roady for Bruce Springsteen, and discovered Kurt Cobain under a bridge and introduced him to “she who shall not be named.? If you like Rock and Roll you must read this book.

What did you read this year?

Friday Random Top 10

Jamie Lynn Spears Pregnant at 16!! A perfect end to a bad, bad year for low-talent celebrity females. May all paparazzi-friendly females get a 6 pack of underwear under the tree this year. With that, this week's Top 10:

1. End of the Day - Beck
2. Retreat - Minutemen
3. You Tell Me - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
4. That's the Story of My Life - Velvet Underground
5. Believe Me Natalies - The Killers
6. Goodmorning Heartache - Billy Holiday
7. I'll be Gone - The Rumbles
8. Fool to Cry - Rolling Stones
9. Forgotten Works - Klaxons
10. Donald Lowes - Washboard Hank

What's your top 10?

Cloverfield!

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O.k. I'm officially geeked out on the movie Cloverfield. If you've been to a movie theater you've seen the poster of a headless Statue of Liberty and a swath of destruction through lower Manhatten. Besides that poster there's been little publicity...until now.

Below is an extended clip from the movie. Apparently the entire film is like this -- shot from a video camera of someone who was witnessing the events presented in the movie. If this extended clip doesn't suck you in, I don't know what would.

I actually found one review and it's pretty damn funny. If you've ever checked out Aint-it-cool-news you might have run into Neil Cumpston and his reviews. This one doesn't disappoint. Here's the review. By the way, the language is pretty raw, no images so I guess it's semi-safe for work. Definitely don't read it if you have a nine year old looking over your shoulder.

Also I plan to check out a bunch of movies between now and New Years. I'll review them as I see themr. However, I Am Legend is just so so. Decent premise, intense as all hell, but kinda dumb. I plan to see I'm Not There, Juno, Walk Hard, maybe Golden Compass, and a few others so I'll have a good list to review. Check back soon!

Check the clip above and let me know what you think in the comments. Like I said, I'm salivating over Cloverfield right now.

The Hobbit is Coming to a Theater Near You!

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Besides getting an I-Pod Touch, if this doesn't make your Holidays brighter, nothing will...

ACADEMY AWARD-WINNER PETER JACKSON AND NEW LINE CINEMA JOIN WITH MGM TO PRODUCE “THE HOBBIT?...

Los Angeles, CA (Tuesday, December 18, 2007) Academy Award-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson; Harry Sloan, Chairman and CEO, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM); Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne, Co-Chairmen and Co-CEOs of New Line Cinema have jointly announced today that they have entered into the following series of agreements:

* MGM and New Line will co-finance and co-distribute two films, “The Hobbit? and a sequel to “The Hobbit.? New Line will distribute in North America and MGM will distribute internationally. Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh will serve as Executive Producers of two films based on “The Hobbit.? New Line will manage the production of the films, which will be shot simultaneously.

The two “Hobbit? films – “The Hobbit? and its sequel – are scheduled to be shot simultaneously, with pre-production beginning as soon as possible. Principal photography is tentatively set for a 2009 start, with the intention of “The Hobbit? release slated for 2010 and its sequel the following year, in 2011.... For more information about “The Hobbit? films, please visit www.TheHobbitBlog.com.

Ballpark Development

There is an article at MinnPost about further issues swirling around development rights and the new Twins ballpark. Now it’s obvious from the article (link) that the reporter didn’t speak to anyone representing the Twins and the reporter, G.R. Anderson, while generally pretty good, will favor one side over another in his stories. Given that, the article does not bode well for having the new Twins ballpark surrounded by new development.

Essentially the article states that the Twins don’t want any building obscuring the view of the Ford Center (owned by the Pohlads) or have any building allowing views into the new ballpark. If true, I think the Twins are being shortsighted. Besides being a lousy place to watch a baseball game, the Metrodome was a big disappointment in creating development around it. Part of that was driven by the Sports Facility Commission in not wanting any competition for its high price beer and hotdogs.

What will really make the new Twins ballpark a special place is if new development happens in and around the ballpark. This includes bar and restaurants, shops, transportation and housing. Give people a reason to come early and stay late, even if they don’t have a Twins ticket. Right now all we know is that the ballpark will be a multi-modal transportation hub.

The Twins should be encouraging development around it’s ballpark, not trying to minimize it. If a building, especially residential, offers views of the ballpark, who cares. It adds to the excitement, the liveliness, the overall vibrancy of the ballpark. Wrigleyville in Chicago is always given as a great example. Of course Wrigleyville has developed over 80 plus years. The LoDo area around the Rockies ballpark is a better example. The Rockies ballpark revitalized a tired warehouse area in Denver. There’s no reason why the Twins ballpark can’t do the same. Now if we can just convince the Pohlads…

Friday Random Top 10

Wow, Mitchell Report out on steroids in Baseball and our own RonDL White made this list. Of course he followed the Minnesota model of cheating and while still sucking (made famous by the Gophers Football team and Luther Darville).

Here's this week's top 10:

1. Homecoming/Death of St. Jimmy.... - Green Day
2. Slowhands - Interpol
3. New World - Soul Asylum
4. Macy's Day Parade - Green Day
5. 25 Minutes to Go - Johnny Cash
6. Blank Generation - Richard Hell and the Voidoids
7. Next Exit - Interpol
8. Raised Eyebrows - The Feelies
9. Day Tripper - The Beatles
10. Smokers - The Old 97's

What's your top 10?

Christmas Shopping Sucks!!!!

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I tried to go Christmas Shopping last night. What a frackin' disaster. Stores have no sales help. A middle age guy roaming uncertianly through the women's clothes department should be a shining beacon for help (and an easy sale). But no. There's no floor help, just a couple of people manning the cash registers. Prices may be cheap due to sales, but there is very little variety, sizes, colors, etc. And if you do happen upon a store that is busy, everyone is rude, getting in your way, acting stupid.

No wonder internet sales are becoming more and more popular every year. After my disappointing experience at the stores, I came home went on the web and ordered what I wanted in the size and colors I wanted. I swear, no more stores for me.

How's your shopping experience?

Musical Covers

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Covers. We all know it’s a lazy way for a band to get some love from its audience. Take a familiar tune, either play it straight or give it a twist and you have a song that’s instantly loved by the fans. Some bands put out whole albums of covers, while other bands are popular solely due to a strategic release of a cover (I’m looking at you Lemonheads and your cover of Mrs. Robinson). But admit it, you know you love ‘em. There’s nothing better in concert when a band surprises by playing a cover. The more ironic or contrary to the band’s M.O. the better. That’s why people went nuts when the Replacements would play Heartbeat, it’s a Love Beat, by the DiFranco family.

Below are my favorite covers. There’s literally hundreds of covers out there so this is only a partial list. I’d love to hear from others of their favorite covers. Songs played in concert are o.k. but what I’m really looking for are covers that were released on an album or CD. With that, here are some of my favorite musical covers.

Top of the World – Shonen Knife. Off the If I was a Carpenter tribute album. This is a perfect example of a band putting a different spin on a cheesy song. Punk, poppy, it’s 3 minutes of per joy. Shonen Knife is a Japanese band who were singing the song phonetically and it shows. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Hurt – Johnny Cash. I could do a whole post on Johnny Cash covers. This is probably the most famous. Johnny takes a song about self-loathing drug abuse and turns it into a song about end-of-life regrets.

Under My Thumb – Social Distortion. Takes the Rolling Stones song and adds muscle. Instead of Mick boasting, Mike Ness is angry, sings as if this was his last resort in trying to control his wayward woman.

Stop Your Sobbin’ – The Pretenders. Takes the Kinks hit and polishes it up. The song was such a contrast to the revved up songs on the first Pretenders album. When people talk about Chrissy Hynde as typlifying the Madonna and the Whore, this is the song that clinches the Madonna part.

8 Miles High – Husker Du. Takes the psychedelic song and adds layers of punked up guitars. Instead of a heady psychedelic dream, it’s a metal maelstrom of a bad trip.

It’s All Over Now Baby Blue – Grateful Dead. From the Masked and Anonymous Soundtrack. Grateful Dead in full freak mood playing an absolutely gorgeous Dylan song. I practically want to cry every time I hear it.

Smells Like Teen Spirit – Tori Amos. File under “how could she!? The classic play loud song rendered to a single piano and solo singer. Not only does the song hold up, it casts the original in a different light.

Sweet Jane – Cowboy Junkies. Captures the essence of what Lou Reed was trying to say. Surpasses the original by a mile.

Black Diamond – The Replacements. It’s pretty astonishing to think how radical it was for a “punk? band to put a Kiss cover on an album in 1984. Showed that the Replacements were not just a punk band but had influences from all over the musical spectrum.

I Fought the Law – The Clash. A much beefier version of the 50’s classic. The Clash’s rendered this song impossible to improve and retired it from being attempted as a cover forever.

Rhinestone Cowboy – Soul Asylum. From the live album at the Grand Forks prom. Dave Pirner sings with such conviction that you know he’s lived everyone one of those verses.

White Sport Coat – The Gear Daddies. A cheesy version of a very cheesy song. The Gear Daddies reveals the inanity of this song by out-sapping it.

Dr. Wu – The Minutemen. The old Steely Dan song with Mike Watt and D. Boon sing/talking the chorus in two different speakers. Such a different take on a standard song that you will be floored. By far my favorite cover of all time.

Honorable Mention goes out to Luther Wright and the Wrongs who released a note-by-note country version of Pink Floyd’s The Wall. All the between song patter is replicated and every song is played straight but with fiddles, slide guitars and twangy vocals.

What are some of your favorite covers?

Are the Vikings Back In My Life?

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There’s something stirring and I’m not sure what it is. It’s like when you were younger and you come across an old girlfriend and you see her in a different light: she’s cuter somehow; nicer; sexier. You start to question yourself: why did I break up with her again? She wasn’t that bad was she? You remember fondly the good times, rationalizing away the bad times. You ask, should I try again? Do I risk the disappointments, the stupid decisions, the lack of performance?

That’s how I feel about the Vikings right now. Being a life long Minnesotan in my early to mid-40’s I’ve experienced just about every emotion with the Vikes, (except, of course, ultimate victory), but mainly I’ve experienced disappointment. It’s gotten to the point that over the past few years, I haven’t really cared. Sure I’ll watch the games if nothing else is going on but when they lose or play way under expectations, it’s something to laugh about, not get upset about.

Miraculously, the Vikes are playing well, heck, they’re even fun to watch. So do I get involved emotionally again? Do I start to care, rekindle an old love affair with the risk of having my heart crushed? Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect a “Superbowl homeboy.? But right now a playoff appearance and a good (but losing) effort against a good team is all I want and I’ll be hooked, cementing a solid relationship for next year.

So maybe I’ll try to kick it off with this new/old girlfriend once again. Hopefully smarter, more wary when those old habits start to crop up, but in full steam once again. Unfortunately we all know how it’s going to end.

What’s your opinion of the Vikings this season?


Friday Random Top 10

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Twins weren't able to swing a deal for Johan Santana this week. I think the Twins should trade Johan because I don't want them hamstrung with one person making 25 percent of the payroll. The Timberwolves showed us that isn't a good way to run a team. However, the Twins need to get super high value for Johan so they need to wait until they get the right deal. What really concerned me is that Detroit was able to get Cabrera and Willis by trading only prospects. Time was the Twins had lots of prospects, they don't any more (except for a few pitchers). Detorit is mortgaging it's future for wins now and the Twins are building for the future. It's hard to say which way is better. Time will tell.

With that, here's this week's top 10:

1. Blues Mary - The Geardaddies
2. I am...I Said - Neil Diamond
3. The Man in Black - Johnny Cash
4. I'm Always in Love - Wilco
5. I Want to be the Boy - The White Stripes
6. Eyesight to the Blind - The Who
7. Girl Wants to be with the Boys (live) - The Talking Heads
8. Massive Nights - The Hold Steady
9. Man of Constant Sorrow - The Soggy Bottom Boys
10. Toolmaster of Brainerd - Trip Shakespeare

I swear sometimes my I-Pod wants to be a college radio station programmer. Today was one of those days.

Guilty Pleasures

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I watched a movie this week that I really enjoy but am afraid to admit that I like it. It’s the classic definition of a guilty pleasure. With that in mind I’ve decided to confess my guilty pleasures so that I can cleanse my soul of any guilt.

Movies:

American Dreamz. A comedy starring Mandy Moore that is a hilarious spoof on American Idol, our fascination on celebrity, and terrorists. It got horrible reviews, little box office, and most who have watched it have forgotten all about it. I think it’s hilarious.

Camelot. King Arthur legend as told via a big Broadway musical. Cheesy sets, Richard Harris talks-sings his songs, and hokey ending make for a can’t miss sing-along.

Moulin Rouge. A modern day musical where you know the will love interest will die at the end. But those songs, those sets, Nicole Kidman’s luminous skin! I’m a sucker for this movie.

TV:

I actually don’t watch a whole lot of TV outside of sports, movies, and the Daily Show. I used to watch Survivor religiously but I’ve even gotten bored by that. I will stop at The World’s Wildest Police Chases whenever it’s on Court TV so I guess that counts too.

Music:

Sorry not much here either. I have pretty catholic tastes but no Michael Bolton, ABBA, or Backstreet Boys on the I-Pod. I do have K.C. and the Sunshine Boys and Tom Jones but those are more for the irony factor than anything else.

Reading:

Man, I guess I really don’t have a lot of guilty pleasures. I have to admit that I read Hints from Heloise in the paper. Plus Mark Trail in the comics.

What are your guilty pleasures?

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from December 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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