August 7, 2008
Movies I have to stop and watch
These are the movies that when I see them on TV I have to stop and watch. I'm sure you know what I am talking about.
- Mr. and Mrs. Smith
- Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
- A Christmas Story
- Back to the Future
- The Shawshank Redemption
- The Matrix
- The Princess Bride
- Fight Club
- Napoleon Dynamite
And when Hot Fuzz finally gets shown on TV, that will probably jump to the top of the list!
I have spoken.
August 6, 2006
Songs I am ashamed to say I like
|Why do I like this movie? Someone please help me!|
Songs I am ashamed to say I like
- "Ray of Light" by Madonna -- Yes, I am ashamed to say I like this song. I actually like a bunch of Madonna songs, but this one is probably my favorite. It is kind of catchy. There is little doubt that Madonna is a gifted musician. It is too bad she is as goofy as a bed-bug.
- "Let's Go Crazy" by Prince -- When the opening line starts, "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today 2 get through this thing called life." Goosebumps, people. Goosebumps! Pathetic? Yes. Will I apologize. Ummm ... no. Besides, if you have ever seen Prince's guitar solo at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" you know that Prince can really rock when given the opportunity.
- The Entire Foreigner Catalog -- Fricken' Foreigner! I don't know what it is about them, but I will stop to listen to any Foreigner song on the radio. They were talented musicians and songwriters! Can you deny it? Plus, along with Iron Butterfly, REO Speedwagon, and Foghat they will undoubtedly be making an appearance at a "Monsters of ROCK!" show near you very soon.
- "Elephant Love Medley" on the Moulin Rouge Soundtrack -- This is particularly shameful, I know. Combine this with the fact that I actually like this movie and ... well ... I should probably just turn in my penis at the nearby hardware store tomorrow. Admitting I have a problem is the first step.
- "The Boys are Back in Town" by Thin Lizzy -- Oh yes. When I found out this song is actually a part of a rock opera, I could no longer deny my love for it. Curt, you have shown me the light! Thin Lizzy forever, man!
That's it for now. Please let me know if you have any additions. Stay tuned for popular songs which I just plain hate. That will probably be a longer list. Until next time!
March 27, 2006
Songs that have to be played back-to-back
So, I was traveling in my car to someplace last week (can't remember where) when the radio started to play "Need You Tonight" by INXS. Whenever I hear this song on the radio I can only think of two things: 1) wow, I love this song! and 2) they better play "Mediate" next. Do you know what I mean? On the INXS album Kick, "Need You Tonight" and "Mediate" appear back-to-back, and radio stations have always played them like they were a part of the same song (which they kind of are). Anyway, it got me to thinking about what other song combos are always played back-to-back on the radio? What song combos should always be played back-to-back?
- "Need You Tonight"/"Mediate" by INXS -- I'll put this first because I have already talked about it.
- "The Happiest Days Of Our Lives"/"Another Brick In The Wall Part 2" by Pink Floyd -- Do people even realize these are separate songs?
- "We Will Rock You"/"We Are the Champions" by Queen -- Should always be played together, never apart.
- "Heartbreaker"/"Living Loving Maid (She's Just A Woman)" by Led Zeppelin -- I don't think I have ever heard these two songs separated on the radio
- "Eruption"/"You Really Got Me" by Van Halen -- You might hear "You Really Got Me" alone, but never "Eruption" alone.
- "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"/"With a Little Help from My Friends" by The Beatles -- Again, they just go together like peanut butter and jelly
- "Brain Damage"/"Eclipse" by Pink Floyd -- There are probably more like this from Floyd, but you can't have "Brain Damage" without the climax of "Eclipse." They shouldn't even be separate songs.
That's all I can think of off the top of my head. Any that I have missed?
March 21, 2006
Of band names and new music
I've been listening to a lot of new music. New music that has brightened my meager existence and given me reason to smile (or somesuch nonsense). Anywho, this is what I've been listening to:
- Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah -- This is an awesome album people. At first I couldn't get past his whiny voice, but now I kinda dig it. Give it about 10 listens and you'll be hooked. Its kind of like getting addicted to coffee, I suppose.
- Separation Sunday by The Hold Steady -- Yes, Jim in St. Paul, I am finally listening to this album! My good buddy Jim in St. Paul recommended this to me about 6 months ago, but did I heed his advice? No! I am a stubborn jerk sometimes. For example, I've had about 2.76 million people tell me that they don't want a new stadium, but do I listen? NO! So there. Separation Sunday rocks and is very unique. I definitely dig it. Thanks for the recommendation Jim! And finally, I have been listening to...
- Twin Cinema and Electric Version by The New Pornographers -- I'm going to have to take some extra space and time to explain this one.
Usually a band's name is very important to me. For example, I simply refuse to listen to anything by The Barenaked Ladies. That has got to be one of the dumbest band names ever. I just have a feeling that listening to their music will decrease my IQ by at least 30 points every time I hear them. All because of their band name. It may be shallow, but what can I say? I am who I am.
Another example is the Butthole Surfers. I don't care how good their music is, I will never listen to them. Never ever. That band name takes the cake as the dumbest, worst name in the history of recorded music. Ghastly. The Butthole Surfers could make the all-encompassing album, an album that creates world peace and makes my Cheerios less soggy, but I won't listen. George Carlin could travel back in time and help them with their high school history class final project, but I will still refuse to listen. No, no, no!
This brings me to this new band I am listening to: The New Pornographers. Usually a band name like this would cause me to think twice about picking up their album. For one, it is a stupid name. This cannot be argued. And secondly, it makes for uncomfortable conversations and even potential rumors. Take for example this possible conversation:
Mike: Hey Shane, what are you listening to?
Me: Oh, a great new band called The New Pornographers. I really like their music.
Mike: I bet if they are singing about pornography.
Me: What? No, that's not it, let me explain...
Meanwhile, Paul has overheard parts of our conversation from a few cubicles down...
Paul [thinking]: Shane likes pornography? And not only that, it has to be "new"? ... what a pervert! I'm going to have to spread this rumor...
Paul: Hey John, did you hear Shane is using company time to look at pornography?
John [my boss]: No, I guess I'll have to fire him.
Do you see how quickly a band name can make my life unravel? It is quite frightening actually. So, when I come across a band name like "The New Pornographers" I have to seriously think if it is worth potentially losing my job in order to enjoy their music. Well, as you can probably tell, I have decided the risk is worth it.
Twin Cinema was widely regarded by many to be one of the finest albums of 2005, and I can't argue with that. Electric Version is also a fine effort which I am enjoying right now. And for the record, they do not sing about pornography!
So, to wrap this up, here is a list of what I consider to be some of the dumber band names (in order of how dumb I think they are):
- Butthole Surfers -- I think I have already established how dumb this name is
- Barenaked Ladies -- Again, just plain stupid.
- Hoobastank -- Yes, there is definitely something that "stanks" around here.
- Goo Goo Dolls -- Lame, lame, lame. And they are making sugary pop to back it up. Disgusting.
- Deathcab for Cutie -- Good music, but really, I don't get this band name. It is kind of creepy, truth be told.
- The New Pornographers -- if I can't talk about your band in public, you have a stupid name. Do you want to make money?
That about covers it. If you can think of any others, put 'em in the comments.
February 17, 2006
My favorite songs right now
Like I said in the previous post, I have an iPod, but one thing I have done very little of is use the playlist creation function of this handy little piece of hardware. I've been listening to some new (for me) music lately so I thought I would put together a new playlist so I could listen to these new gems without having to search for them all the time. I know, I'm quite the technological genius, but I've been satisfied with the shuffle function for so long that I never really considered this. Anyway, here is what I'm digging right now:
- "Gideon" by My Morning Jacket
This is an oddly powerful song. I really enjoy it.
- "Lightening Blue Eyes" by The Secret Machines
This is from their upcoming album "Ten Silver Drops" (graciously given to me by Jim in St. Paul). Strangely enough, the album only has 8 songs, and this is probably the best. Fantastic. If you haven't heard it yet, you will.
- "Upon the Tidal Wave of Young Blood" by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Oh yes, I'll definitely say "Yeah!" with an emphatic exclamation point at the end. I'm not sure the singer would win any "American Idol" contests anytime soon, but the song is a real toe tapper.
- "Lazer Beam" by the Super Furry Animals
I just love the beginning to this song. Good effects and guitar work from this Welsh band. It has a very 1970s feel to it.
- "He Woke Me Up Again" by Sufjan Stevens
He woke me up again to say hallelujah ... I wish I knew more about what this song is about. It is beautiful. Sufjan Stevens is the master of the understated banjo. I can't believe this is a good thing.
- "The W.A.N.D." by The Flaming Lips
I'm trying to get into the new Lips album At War With the Mystics. This is the first single. It is good, but like any Lips effort it takes a while to get used to. Very creative.
- "Dead Man's Rope" by Sting
I love this song. It certainly has a religious theme which I always gravitate towards, and it reminds me a little of "I Still Haven't Found" in that the narrator is searching. A good contemporary gospel song.
That's all for now. There is more, but you get the idea.
December 16, 2005
Best Movies Viewed in 2005
Like before, these are the best movies I've watched in 2005. These movies didn't necessarily come out in 2005, although in this case most of them did. And this is only a fraction of my movie viewing. According to Netflix I have returned well over 60 discs this year (some of them TV shows). Hard to believe. But these are the movies I enjoyed the most. So, without further ado...
- Finding Neverland
Without a doubt my favorite of the year. I was really blown away by it from the acting, to the story, to the ending. A triumph all the way around. I think I am getting sappier and sappier in my old age.
- Batman Begins
Yes ... this is the way Batman is supposed to be. One of the few movies that I actually saw twice in the theatres (although one time was at the discount theater). Can't wait for the next one.
- Napoleon Dynamite
Oh my goodness do I love this movie. I will probably buy it to own (when I can find it for $10). I have found, though, that you either love this movie or you hate it. I am definitely in the "love" camp.
- Fight Club
One of the few times where the film adaptation is just as good and may even surpass the original book. This movie just blows me away. It doesn't matter how many times I watch it, I always sit there riveted to the screen. Tyler Durden ... I will never forget that name.
- Mr. and Mrs. Smith
I have a confession to make: I really like Brad Pitt movies. Like I said yesterday, with a wife and three kids I have nothing to prove to anyone. I'll like what I want, and there is nothing you can do about it! Angelina Jolie didn't hurt either. I must have been in a weird mood while I was watching this one, because I really enjoyed it.
- The 40 Year Old Virgin
How can you not like a movie where the overall premise is of a guy waiting until marriage to have sex? Then again, it is pretty raunchy. Oh well, I watched this one with two good friends, and we laughed until we cried. It is hilarious, if you can overlook a certain amount of shocking crudity.
- Kingdom of Heaven
Yep, I'm one of the few that liked this one. In fact, I liked it a lot. Good battle scenes, and it prompted me to do some research into the crusades and the background of this story. Fascinating stuff, really.
- Matchstick Men
I waited a long time before I watched this one, and for no good reason because it is really quite entertaining. Nicolas Cage usually bothers me, but he did a bang up job. The movie features a nice twist at the end, too. Good stuff.
- March of the Penguins
If you haven't seen this one, you are missing out. I cannot believe what those male penguins have to go through to protect those eggs. Absolutely amazing.
- Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
I was surprised with how much I liked this one. Jim Carrey does his usual good work, and the sets are very appropriate. My kids liked it too.
- War of the Worlds
This one is ranked a little lower because I expected a lot more out of a Spielberg film. It was still good, don't get me wrong, but it was missing something, and at times I found it a little boring. Good ending though.
- Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
The best of the prequels, hands down. If not for the crappy love story, this film would have been ranked a lot higher. As it is, the opening scenes with the space battle, and Obi Wan's pursuit of General Grievous (not to mention a pit stop on the Wookie planet) all make this film pretty good. The love story between Anakin and Padme is just horrendous though.
- Kill Bill Vol. 1
A little gruesome, but still one of the most creatively filmed movies I saw all year. I didn't like Pulp Fiction at all, but I think Tarantino deserves some credit for this effort.
- SuperSize Me
Funny, surprising, and educational movie, yet after watching it I have still been to McDonalds a few times. And I ask you, who else has had to throw up after eating a super-sized meal? What a pansy.
Fantastic movie about the battle between faith and reason. I can't say enough good things about it, so I won't even try.
- Cold Mountain
I held off on watching this movie for a long, long time. My "boredom meter" was on high alert. But I actually enjoyed it. Not enough to watch it again, but it was good. I must have been in the right mood.
- Million Dollar Baby
Sad, sad, sad. Enjoyable, but sad.
Any I missed? Let me know...
December 5, 2005
With the Vikings win yesterday everyone seems to be talking about Daunte vs. Brad Johnson. Who should be the starter next season? Would the Vikings be this good with Duante still at the helm? First of all let me say I think Brad Johnson is just what the Vikings needed this year. He has played phenomenally well, and he deserves all the accolades he is receiving. However, he is 37 years old. History will tell us that substituting a young, talented QB with an older QB that has had one good year is just a huge mistake. Remember when we replaced Brad Johnson with Randall Cunningham? No, next year put Daunte back under center. I love Brad Johnson and all that he is doing for us, but Daunte is still the future.
Stupid Packers. Can't even beat their so-called "arch rivals." Show some pride, Favre! I can't believe how putrid the Packers are right now. There is still a way to salvage the season (by beating Chicago at home), but I doubt this team has the backbone to pull that one off. Thanks for nothing!
I worked on my family's Christmas letter last night. Does anyone else find the yearly Christmas letter absolutely painful to write? Every year I go through the same thing with my wife: me "putting my foot down" and refusing to write the letter, and her begging me to "just do it" (with her of course) until we finish it. It usually turns out pretty good too. But I just can't stand writing the stupid thing. I don't know why.
I watched the T-Wolves last night and was impressed with the team effort. KG only scores 11 points and they still pull out a seemingly easy victory. The key to this team obviously isn't KG dominating night in and night out. It is Wally and someone else scoring at least 15 and the team playing some solid defense. But especially Wally ... whenever he plays well the team does better as a whole. At least that is what I'm seeing this year. Maybe SBG can do some analysis of it.
Watching the game last night got me to thinking about how I would improve it. There is no doubt in anyone's mind (I don't think) that the college game is vastly superior to the NBA. Quite frankly, besides the playoffs, the NBA can sometimes be excrutiatingly boring. So, if I was comissioner, what would I do differently? Hmmm...
- First of all I would decrease the number of games played in a season. 84 games means way too many games are meaningless. I would probably drop the number of games to 60 at the most.
- Secondly, I would decrease the number of teams that make it into the playoffs. I would institute a playoff system ala the NFL and MLB where only the division champions make it in plus a couple of wild cards. Again, this will have the effect of increasing the importance of regular season games, and it will also make the division races a little more meaningful. Right now, who cares about the divisions?
- I would allow any kind of zone defense. If a team wants to play the 2-3 then so be it. No more delaying the game with these stupid illegal defense calls. It would also force teams to value pure shooters a little more rather than players that can just back a defender down to the basket. Man! I would get rid of that stupid defensive three second rule so fast it would make your head spin.
- I would definitely increase the shot clock to 35 seconds. Increasing the shot clock will bring back the fundamentals of basketball (offensive ball movement anyone?) we obviously enjoy while watching the college game.
- I would institute international rules like referee-less sideline inbounds passes. That would make it a little more interesting. The trapezoid shaped key is just stupid though.
- I would also get rid of that stupid rule where an offensive foul can't be called if a player is inside the half circle under the basket. Huh? Who was the genius that came up with that? Let the players actually play defense! You know, the defense that they learned throughout their whole lives playing basketball? If you are planted and a player comes into the lane out of control and knocks you over, I don't care where you are, it is an offensive foul!
- Finally I would fire any NBA television director that switches a fast break shot or impending dunk camera angle from the half court view to the baseline view. You know what I'm talking about. You are watching a fast break unfold, you are excited that it will probably be a dunk, when at the last second the camera view switches to the baseline. Your TV is suddenly filled with just a shot of the basket and a player dunking the ball and maybe a defender's hand. Man I hate this angle! Show me the half court view! I want to see the whole play unfold! I want to see the trailing options, I want to see the defenders try to set up, I want to see the angle of attack! Sheesh this makes me angry!
That's about it. With these changes the NBA is bound to be better. If Stern needs any more advice he knows where to find me.
October 26, 2005
Hello everyone. Today I'm "phoning it in" as the Twins Geek used to say. Today I'm going to list out some of the "greatest hits" of the Greet Machine, or in other words the most popular posts I have made on this humble blog. And not necessarily because I think they are great or because I think they are popular, but because I can see they are popular based on hit statistics.
People hit this blog through Google probably 70% of the time, meaning Google is my top referer. I've mentioned before that the term "rabbits" is by far the most popular search, but here are some of the other posts that get hit from Google.
- Life of Pi
If you haven't noticed, my review for the book Life of Pi gets a lot of traffic for some reason. One person even attached his own essay in the comments!
- New U2
A simple post about my favorite U2 albums that turned into an argument between Cheesehead Craig and I over which is the better band, U2 or Metallica. In the argument I list statistics on who has sold more albums, and now people come from far and wide to get that data (through Google).
- Revenge of the Sith
In this post I listed my favorite quotes from Star Wars and most people get to it looking for quotes from Revenge of the Sith. Of course, I don't have any quotes from that movie so people probably leave disappointed. Incidentally, you'll note that I have a picture of Emperor Palpatine on this post and I refer to him as Phil Krinkie. If you do an image search for "Krinkie" on Google, that picture of Palpatine is the 9th result. That thrills me to no end.
- Founding Brothers
Another book review post that gets a lot of traffic. In fact, one commenter said that based on my review he is going to use the book in his class. That is pretty slick.
- Texas and Stadiums
I get a lot of hits for this post where I break down the deal for the new Dallas Cowboys stadium in Arlington, Texas. This and my breakdown of the deal to build a new Marlins stadium are two of my biggest stadium related posts.
- Parkinson's Law of Triviality
If you do a search in Google for this famous/humorous law, my post on it is the top result. This is amazing to me. My post on Parkinson's Law itself is on the third page of Google results.
- Songs for a Desert Island II
Of all my songs in this series, my interpretation of "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" gets the most hits. Although I really think I nailed it with my interpretation of "Strawberry Fields Forever."
- Kids and Poop
This post in which I detail a little BM mishap with one of my kids gets a ton of traffic. I must admit, it is a humorous story.
- Restaurants to Avoid
Any time someone searches for a restaurant in St. Paul that is on this list, this post comes up. It lists restaurants that signed a petition against a tax for a Twins stadium. Note that I have take off the comments for this post. I was sick of all the comments from anti-stadium people who said they would use the list to pick restaurants from now on! Ha!
- Top 5 Rock and Roll Guitarists
This post gets a lot of traffic mainly because if you do a search for "top 5 rock and roll guitarists" it is number one on the list! Again, that is amazing.
- Brew-haha in the Backyard
This summer Milwaukee had an event called the "Big Brew Ha." This post which details a trip made by CC and me to Milwaukee, and a bet lost by me, gets hit a lot because of this event.
That's all I got time for. I'll add more later because I'm sure there are some I forgot.
August 30, 2005
The Best Rock Operas
I've been listening to a new album recently: American Idiot by Green Day. The album is scathing critique on American culture, and while I don't necessarily agree with all the sentiments, the music is stunning. It is pop/punk genius. Plus it is one of my favorite forms of rock and roll albums. It is a rock opera.
A rock opera or rock musical is a musical production in the form of an opera or a musical in a modern rock and roll style rather than more traditional forms. It differs from conventional rock and roll music, which is often a song that is unlinked in plot or story with other songs, but overlaps considerably with concept album, song cycle, or rock musical. More recent developments include metal opera and rap opera.
Essentially a rock opera is an album that attempts to tell a story through the songs on the album. Sometimes the songs are tightly bound together (Jesus Christ Superstar), while other times they are loosely intertwined (Sgt. Peppers).
Having said all this, I love rock operas. I feel they are usually the height of an artistic breakthrough for a band. So, when I found out that American Idiot is a rock opera I had to have a listen. Wow. Stunning. Beautiful. And also vulgar (being pop/punk). Anyway, in honor of this awesome album I now present my all time favorite rock operas:
- Yoshimi Battles. the Pink Robots by the Flaming Lips -- Man I love this album if only for the song "Do You Realize?" One of the most beautiful songs of the past 20 years. As a rock opera it is a little confusing, but the music is so good, so different, so ... weird that I put it on the list. May be more of a concept album really. It is debatable.
- Quadrophenia by The Who -- Their second best rock opera and it would probably be third if they would have come through on the Lifehouse project. "Love Reign O'er Me" is a classic.
- American Idiot by Green Day -- Yep. I'm sold. It hasn't won all these awards for nothing (Best Rock Album Grammy). It is a fantastic album. Musical and pop genius.
- The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway by Genesis -- This is pre-Phil Collins Genesis, the Genesis of Peter Gabriel and it is beautiful. While it is a very tight rock opera in terms of songs and story line, the story is merely a vehicle for the wonderful music that drives the entire album. Rumors continually persist that Gabriel will rejoin Genesis to perform this masterpiece again someday. Maybe, maybe not. I would be surprised though.
- The Wall by Pink Floyd -- There are two rock operas that will be remembered for a long, long time. This rock opera by Pink Floyd is the post 1980 rock opera. It represents so many things to so many people from the fight against oppression (Berlin Wall) to a personal fight against depression. Musically and lyrically it is hard to top.
- Tommy by The Who -- This cannot be argued. It was the first and it continues to be the best. A commentary on fame, religion, psychosis, and familial relationship, Tommy ranks up there as one of the greatest rock albums of all time.
So, there you have it. Feel free to suggest others.
August 19, 2005
Movies I really liked but I didn't think I would (as much)
Hello everyone! I trust you are having a good Friday. Me? Well yes, I am thanks for asking. But that is not the point of this pointless post. Last night I watched Napoleon Dynamite again, this time with my kids. My 10 year old loved it, like I knew he would, but my 4 year old and my 6 year old also enjoyed it. In fact, they were mezmerized by it. My 4 year old usually doesn't sit still for movies at all (unless it is a Barbie cartoon), but she watched the entirety of this movie. Go figure. Anyway, watching this quirky movie got me to thinking about movies I have seen recently that I didn't think I would like as much as I did (do?). Here is my list:
- The Sum of All Fears -- This was a really enjoyable movie. I was stunned since I really can't stand Tom Clancy books (usually). Ben Affleck and Morgan Freeman do a stellar job in this one.
- The Matchstick Men -- This one really surprised me. I'm not a big Nicolas Cage fan, but this movie was very good and his performance was quite humorous. A little twist at the end, too. Very nice.
- The Runaway Jury -- I was shocked I liked this one. I didn't care for the book a whole lot so I didn't think I'd like this movie too much. Well, I was wrong. It might be because they changed the main focus of the movie away from smoking to gun control, but I found the story riveting.
- The Count of Monte Cristo -- Holy cow I love this movie. I could watch it over and over again and still love it. If you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor.
- The Spanish Prisoner -- My mom suggested this one and I thought, "OK, I'll give it a try." Well, I was blown away. It was awesome.
- Batman Begins -- I went into this one thinking, "Batman? Yeah, he's pretty cool..." I came out saying, "Batman is freakin' awesome dude!" See the difference?
So, there you have it. Let me know if I should put any others on my Netflix queue.
August 11, 2005
Favorite One-Hit Wonders
I don't know what it is, but I'm having a really hard time writing about sports these days. I mean, I'm still watching the Twins (great game last night), I'm going to the Vikings game this Friday (thanks for the tickets, COD!), and I am really pumped for the Gophers upcoming football season. More about that later, I'm sure. But right now I have nothing to say about any of this. So, let's talk about something else.
Yesterday my brother and I were in the car riding home from work and the song "Amadeus" came on the radio. What a fantastic song. So many memories. Anyway, it got me to thinking about "one-hit wonders" and which ones are my favorites. Which ones get me to stop and listen no matter what? Here is my list:
- "Amadeus" by Falco -- I can't decide if the English or the German version is better. Which one has the Motzart biography in it? I love that part.
- "Let's Go All the Way" by Sly Fox -- I think this song is actually about nuclear war. Good memories with this song too. In college, my roommate (Curt in Grand Forks) had this song on tape. One day we propped his stereo in the window and blasted this song into the courtyard of our dorm. Needless to say, we were the BMOC that day.
- "Funky Town" by Lipps, Inc. -- I don't know why I like this song, but I really, really do. I will always stop to listen to it. I have even been known to bust into a "robot" when I hear it. A very bad "robot" mind you, but as I've said before, I've got nothing to prove to anyone.
- "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell -- This usually tops most people's lists. And it is also up there for me. Good Levi's commercial based on this one.
- "The Promise" by When in Rome -- If you don't recognize this one you would if you heard it. Just a fantastic song. Re-introduced to me by Napoleon Dynamite.
- "Pump Up the Volume" by M/A/R/R/S -- Good movie, good song. I wish they would play this one more on the radio.
- "Whip It" by Devo -- This song is so lame it is good. Wasn't it written some MIT graduates? What is the story behind this song?
That's it for now. Obviously there are more "one-hit wonders" but these are my favorites. Feel free to add your own.
July 21, 2005
Tonight I shall pick up my copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince from the library. If you'll recall, I was number 484 in the waiting list of well over 2,000 library users. I actually got a note from the library that my copy of the book was ready on Monday, but I have waited a little because I was not ready to read it. Anyway, to recap, I could have picked up this book from the library only two days after it was released.
In other words, what in the world are all of you doing still buying books? The last book I bought because I just had to read it and I couldn't wait was The Lost World by Michael Crichton. It was a let down and I vowed to never buy a book again but to use the library to its fullest potential. Now, I have a big list of library holds and they trickle in about as fast as I can read them. Save yourself some money and use the library. And if you are worried about fines don't feel bad about keeping a book a few days longer. Most libraries count on a certain amount of fees and fines coming in. By keeping a library book a little longer you are just giving them a little donation that they most likely desperately need anyway.
I gotta say I am really enjoying the show "Rock Star: INXS" on CBS Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights. The talent on this show blows "American Idol" out of the water (not that I watched that show all that much). Why am I watching "Rock Star" then? I am a fairly big INXS fan and I think this is a pretty interesting way of picking a new lead singer. Although, I must also admit that I am preparing for a let down concerning whoever they pick to replace Michael Hutchence. Hutchence co-wrote most of their songs. I would be very surprised if they can re-create the magic they had when Hutchence was the lead singer. But I don't blame them for trying.
A quick list of my favorite INXS albums:
- Welcome to Wherever You Are: Highly underrated. Good from beginning to end (although I do skip the last song).
- Kick: Phenomenal album that launched them as one of the top three acts of the time. Can't get enough of it.
- Listen Like Thieves: Features their first big hit "What You Need." I like "Kiss the Dirt" too.
- X: "Bitter Tears" ... great tune. "Stairs" is good too. This album was the follow-up to Kick and it didn't really set the world on fire.
- Full Moon, Dirty Hearts : Again, highly underrated. A "dash-off" album that has definitely grown on me over the years.
I like reading the "Letters" section of the Star Tribune, especially when those letters relate to stadium issues. Honestly, I could write every day about the stupid letters I read about this issue. They are highly entertaining. Today there was a letter from a gentleman from SLP who wrote:
I fail to see what the state has to do with a stadium in downtown Minneapolis or the pension program for Minneapolis teachers. If Minneapolis wants stadiums and funded teachers' pensions, let it pay for them.
Do any of you recognize the concept at work in this letter? That's right, it is the Me First platform! Good stuff. Since a new Twins stadium and teachers' pensions in Minneapolis don't directly affect him (and most likely his wallet) then he shoudn't have to worry about them. That's the spirit! A selfish Minnesota is a strong Minnesota! I like how he deftly ties the stadium and Minneapolis educational issues together inferring unequivocally that he doesn't care about either and therefore they are unimportant. Beautiful. Makes me feel all fuzzy inside that I live in such a "progressive" state.
That's all I got time for. Talk to you later.
June 27, 2005
Books I am excited to read
As you might imagine I use the library a lot. As a result I have a lot of books on hold. These are the books I am most excited to read that are in my hold list right now:
- A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin. Good fantasy is hard to come by. The Wheel of Time is becoming so long winded even fans of the series are getting ticked off, and the Sword of Truth series is so stupid I don't understand why anyone reads it. But the Song of Ice and Fire, the series A Feast for Crows comes from is so good, so rich, so detailed ... It is THE book I am looking forward to. If you haven't read any of these do yourself a favor and pick up A Game of Thrones. You won't be disappointed. I am in position 19 of 124 on the hold list.
- Olympos by Dan Simmons. The sequel to Ilium (read my review!) which in itself was a very, very good book. Ilium combines the stories of the Trojan War and Shakespeare's The Tempest within the context of a science fiction environment. I know, it sounds pretty weird. Olympos picks up the story with Hector and Achilles joining forces to fight the gods. Man! What a good story! Position 4 of 21.
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling. Oh yes, Harry Potter books rock. By far, my favorite in the series has been The Prisoner of Azkaban but really all of them have been unbelievably wonderful. I can't wait for this one. Position 486 of 1832 (and I'll probably get it within a week of its release. The Hennepin County public libraries will probably buy at least 500 copies of this title.)
- Magic Street by Orson Scott Card. More well known for his Ender's Game series, Card is also one of the masters of speculative fiction. If this book is anywhere near as good as Enchantment was I am in for a treat. According to the book's description, Magic Street will deal with the world of faries in the modern world, specifically LA. The description immediately invokes memories of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, which incidently deals with faries and is another title you should do yourself a favor and pick up. Position 24 of 24.
- The Hallowed Hunt by Lois McMaster Bujold. Truly, I wish Bujold would return to the world of Miles Vorkosigan, but this book (the 3rd in the Chalion series) will have to do. The first book, The Curse of Chalion was very satisfactory, but the second book, The Paladin of Souls was a little bit of a let down. Hopefully Bujold can pull it together for this one. Position 9 of 23.
There you have it. If you know of any other books that you think I would enjoy based on this list or any of the other books I have read please let me know. I'm always on the lookout for a good read.
June 21, 2005
Off the cuff
Just had my Chipotle burrito. As you might expect it was delicious. Now on Friday, I'll get one for free. To some, two Chipotle burritos in one week might seem excessive or even impossible to stomach. If you are that type of person I'm sorry to tell you that you are a pansy.
Now for a little Father's Day weekend news. On Saturday I marched in the Parktacular parade with my two boys in our Cub Scout pack. That is more fun than you might expect. Then on Saturday night Cheesehead Craig and I went to Batman Begins at the MOA. That is a good movie. Exactly what I would expect out of a Batman film, and it looks like the old Batman movies didn't even happen in this Batman universe. Should be good. The rest of the weekend I spent swimming at the beach and teaching my son how to ride his bike. It was the perfect weekend.
And speaking of super-hero movies, Batman Begins put me in the mood for more of the same, so I watched Hellboy last night. Ugh. That was stupid. Luckily I rented it and didn't spend full price to see it on the big screen. It was bad, to be sure, but it wasn't the worst movie I have ever seen. And if you are wondering, here is my list of the worst movies I have ever seen.
- Tomb Raider -- the worst, most boring, most anti-climactic movie I have ever seen. Bar none.
- Igby Goes Down -- Made me want to blind myself with an ice pick. What a piece of crap.
- League of Extraordinary Gentlemen -- Holy cow, it would take me forever to list all the flaws of this epicly bad movie.
- Leaving Las Vegas -- A real pick-me-up type of movie. I still haven't recovered.
- Son of Sam -- Spike Lee should never be allowed to make another movie again.
There you have it.
And speaking of movies, I was talking with a friend about Revenge of the Sith a couple of days ago and we got to talking about the scene where Darth Vader is re-awakened as the villain we all know and love. If you'll recall, Vader is strapped to the table and it is slowly being lifted into an upright position. Emperor Palpatine is behind him looking menacingly over his creation and you can just see the evil glee on his face. Then, when the moment is just right Palpatine speaks his first words to his new and improved apprentice:
"Lord Vader, can you hear me?"
What the ?!??!? That is the best he could do? "Can you hear me?" I half expected him to say, "Lord Vader, can you hear me? This suit is a new design and might have a couple of bugs. Why don't you just give me the old thumbs-down sign if you see my lips moving but you can't hear a word I'm saying." Man! When you think about it, that line is weak. It should have been something like:
"Rise Lord Vader, and join me in ruling our new empire of fear and despair!"
Or something to that effect. I tell you what, give me $100 million and a few cameras and I'll give you a blockbuster you wouldn't soon forget!
That's about all for now. And if you are going to Twins blogger night, have a good time! I will be going to my son's soccer game instead. Some things just take precedence over the Twins.
June 17, 2005
Issue 5: Which version of U2's "Elevation" is better: the album version, the Tomb Raider mix, or the Influx mix?
This is a tough one. On the one hand I am usually partial to original, album released recordings. However in this case I may have to give both mixes the nod over the album version of "Elevation." The Tomb Raider mix absolutely rocks, and the Influx mix is so different and refreshing that I find myself wishing they had used that version on All That You Can't Leave Behind. In the end, though, the rankings break down as such:
- Elevation Tomb Raider mix
- Elevation Influx mix
- Elevation (album version)
The Greet Machine has spoken.
June 10, 2005
A list of inspired songs
The following is based on a conversation my brother in law and I had recently concerning inspired music. And by inspired I mean the type of music where even the band or composer would agree that they didn't write the song at all, but that it was handed to them by a higher power to create the perfect song. A song through which they were just a medium for a message from God Himself, where the song transcends all time and space to become majesty. These are only a few of these types of songs, and you are welcome to suggest more in the comments below. And please, forgive my hyperbole:
- "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen -- I'm not a really big Queen fan, but this is probably the best example of this phenomenon. You can't tell me that Freddie Mercury wrote this himself. It is the essence of "inspired." I will drop everything to listen to it when it comes on the radio.
- "Porcelain" by Moby -- What a beautiful work of art, the perfect combination of techo, lyrics, melody, and harmony. It also has a unique simplicity or minimalism that allows the message to escape. Wonderful.
- "Pictures of You (Extended version)" by The Cure -- This is the song that prompted our conversation. Again, it has a very airy quality that encourages the listener to concentrate on what the song is saying and the emotion it is encouraging. It is, quite frankly, the perfect pop song.
- "Hot for Teacher" by Van Halen -- What? You think only frilly-frou-frou songs can make the list? Here is a song that you can't help but get pumped up about. The beginning drum solo, the raunchy lyrics, the face-melting solo ... it is everything a 1980s rock song should be. It is an inspired piece of work.
- "Bittersweet Symphony" by The Verve -- Do you remember the Nike commercial? This song spoke to people. Of course, it made them buy Nike shoes, but the very fact that this ad campaign was so successful says a lot about the power of this song. I challenge anyone to listen to this song and not be completely blown away by the opening crescendo.
- "Where the Streets Have No Name" by U2 -- Curt in Grand Forks and I are going to the U2 concert at the Target Center this Sept. If they play this song (which they probably will) I will probably weep. This is an example of a song that has grown in meaning and stature since its release. When it was first written it spoke about African famine, but now it is a song of healing in the wake of 9/11. Again, just an inspired piece of work.
- "Do You Realize?" by The Flaming Lips -- More a personal selection, but I can't help but listen to this song and think of my daughter. Fantastic music and a wonderful message.
- "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel -- This song has what quite possibly is the most perfect lyrical stanza in all of rock music, "In your eyes, I see the doorway to a thousand churches." What a brilliant example of auditory poetry! That one line evokes beauty, mystery, spirituality, reverence ... isn't that what love is all about? By far, this is Gabriel's crowning achievement.
- "Moondance" by Van Morrison -- Another personal selection, but one that I'm sure Van Morrisson would even agree is his best work. The whole "Moondance" album is really a work of art, but this song stands out as such a unique artistic breakthrough it can only be considered as inspired. And it is my wife's favorite song, for whatever that is worth.
- "Peaches" by the Presidents of the United States of America -- Yes, these guys were inspired. They were goofy, to be sure, but this song is a great example where their goofiness resulted in a song that speaks to the masses. Yes, oh yes, I want to move out into the country and eat a lot of peaches!!! There would be nothing better! Just a hilarious, fun song where everything came together. In a word, it was inspired.
That's about it from here. Have a great weekend everyone! As SBG has already written, I'll be at Canterbury Park with SBG and Cheer or Die this weekend betting on the horses and smoking some stogies. Should be fun.
May 20, 2005
Revenge of the Sith
I mean Emperor Palpatine
I'm going to see Revenge of the Sith tonight, and yes, I am very excited about it. The Star Wars movies have been a part of my life since I can remember and it is actually kind of sad to think this will be the end. So, in honor of my viewing of the final episode tonight I thought I would produce a list of my favorite Star Wars quotes of all time. Feel free to add your own if you think I've missed any, which is highly probable. You'll note, though, that I don't have any quotes from Episode I or Episode II. Besides the Yoda/Dooku light saber duel, I am of the opinion that these movies never happened. Do you hear me? THEY NEVER HAPPENED! On with the quotes:
- "You've never heard of the Millennium Falcon? It's the ship that made the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs." -- Han Solo
Yes! The infamous Kessel run. As you probably know, an average ship can only make this run in 14-15 parsecs. But the Millenium Falcon? 12 parsecs!! Amazing!
- "Laugh it up, fuzzball." -- Han Solo
I don't know why, I just get a kick out of some of Solo's one liners, especially this one.
- I find your lack of faith disturbing." -- Darth Vader
Speaking of one liners, Vader was full of them. I also like "You are a part of the rebel alliance and a traitor." There has never been a better movie villain.
- "Oh, I'm afraid the deflector shield will be quite operational when your friends arrive." -- Emperor Palpatine
Can you just hear him saying this? With all his slobbery derision? Fantastic.
- "Why, you stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf-herder!" -- Princess Leia
By far her best quote. Do you remember Solo's response? "Who's scruffy looking?" Great stuff.
- "No. Try not. Do... or do not. There is no try." -- Yoda
Great advice for any would be Jedis and also great advice in general. Who hasn't used this in a meeting or with your own kids? I know I have.
- "When nine hundred years old you reach, look as good you will not. Hmm?" -- Yoda
So true. If I was 900 years old I would look pretty nasty.
- "But I was going into Toshi Station to pick up some power converters!" -- Luke Skywalker
My favorite Star Wars quote. I just think it is hilarious. The whine. The pout. It is all there. It doesn't get any better. And the Academy Award goes to Mark Hamill!!!
So there you have it. You can try to argue, but it would be pointless. The Greet Machine has spoken. And if you are going to the St. Louis Park Mann theater tonight to see the movie and you see a short, bald man with a dark complexion dressed like Obi-Wan Kenobi ... well, that's not me. But I will be there!
April 19, 2005
My favorite Twins
While watching the Twins game last night I got to thinking about all my favorite Twins players from the last 30 years. Of course, most of my memories of the Twins come from the early 80s through the present (due to my age of 32). So, here is my list:
- Kirby Pucket -- Regardless of his current problems he will always be my favorite. His catch in game six of the 1991 series will forever be my all time favorite memory as a Twins fan.
- Roy Smalley -- probably the reason I am a Twins fan. I can't remember the year, but I was at the old Met for bat day and Roy Smalley hit a grand slam. I was in awe.
- Kent Hrbek -- His grand slam in the '87 series is hard to top, but lifting Ron Gant off of first base to tag him was hilarious. Do you remember Ron's response? "He should be able to lift me off," Ron said, "He's twice as big as me." What a whining pansy.
- Frank Viola -- Ah, Sweet Music Frank Viola, master of the circle change. I didn't even know what a circle change was, but that didn't stop me from trying to throw it in my back yard.
- Greg Gagne -- I have always had to defend Gagne to my buddy Curt who seems to think Gagne's glove did not make up for his plate discipline. Pish-posh! Gagne was right, he got no respect here in Minnesota. He deserved better. I'm glad things have been patched up somewhat between us, no thanks to you Curt!
Utility infielder Denny Hocking, 35, is hanging on with the Kansas City Royals' Class AAA Omaha team, where he is hitless in his first five at-bats with two errors.
Good old Denny. I hope he appreciates the gift the Twins gave him for so many years.
March 30, 2005
And that's all I need...
Do you remember the movie The Jerk? Steve Martin plays the character Navin R. Johnson, who towards the end of the movie loses all of his wealth and starts walking around his house saying he doesn't need any of this "stuff." Except for random items he decides to pick up like an ashtray, a paddle game ("the ashtray and the paddle game and that's all I need..."), a remote control, matches, a lamp, a chair, and a magazine. For those of you that have seen the movie you know this scene is hilarious, but it is also a little thought provoking. Hmmm ...
If I fell on hard times and lost everything what items would I pick up randomly to try to take with me? Assuming my family would be coming with me, what are the items that I would immediately try to grab before I walked down the street in a bathrobe and my pants around my ankles? The following is what I could think of:
- My surround sound stereo/DVD system. It took a long time for me to get this, and many discussions with my better half. I could not part with it!
- My collection of Minnesota Twins fishing lures. It is my most favorite collection. Anyone can collect bobbleheads! Bah! There probably isn't another Twins fan that has the complete collection of Twins fishing lures like I do. Needless to say, I will be at the May 13 Twins game for the Kent Hrbek lure. That is a given.
- My signed copy of Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. It says, "To Shane, a friend of Ender." It is so true! I am a friend of Ender! I love that book.
- My cable modem. You might be asking why? At this point I will be too distraught to think straight. My cable modem has provided me with hours of entertainment and service through the years. It is coming with me.
- My Last Starfighter DVD. I need something to watch on my surround sound stereo/DVD system.
That's it. That's all I need.
If you'll recall, though, in the movie The Jerk Navin Johnson trades all of the things he "needs" for a thermos. What would I trade all of this for? Can there be any item that would get me to part with all of these prized posessions?
I would trade all of this for a vintage Chuck Foreman "44" Vikings jersey. Like the one I had when I was a kid. That would make me very, very happy.
March 16, 2005
Top 5 Rock and Roll Guitarists
Today I will be ranking the top 5 rock and roll guitarists of all time. My list is composed of guitarists that I find to be really freakin' good, guitarists who weren't afraid to experiment and push the envelope, and guitarists that actually sold a few albums. For example, your cousin Fred could be really good, but has he ever written anything that spoke to the masses? Probably not. Again, you can try to argue, but my list is really the last word on the subject. Enjoy!
- Jimmy Page -- Led Zeppelin -- By far the greatest song writing guitarist that ever lived. "Over the Hills and Far Away" is his crowning achievement (then again it is hard to pick just one).
- Eric Clapton -- A close second. Clapton's guitar work on the live version of "Crossroads" leaves my jaw hanging.
- Jimi Hendrix -- The complete package. Excellent song writing, guitar work, and showmanship. A little sloppy, though. "Voodoo Chile" is by far his best work.
- Tom Scholz -- Boston -- The perfectionist of the bunch. Listen to "Foreplay/Longtime" while you are in a plane that is landing. It will blow your mind.
- The Edge -- U2 -- The king of experimentation. The sounds he gets to come out of his "axe" are phenomenal. His best work is "Until the End of the World."
So, there you have it. Other guitarists that didn't quite make the cut are Stevie Ray Vaughan, Alex Lifeson (Rush), and Eddie Van Halen. You could probably think of more.
Anyway, that is the way I see it.
March 14, 2005
Top 5 Arnold Schwarzenegger movies
Today I'm going to start a new category on my blog: Lists. Every once in a while I'm going to pick a topic and create a list on that topic. The topic selection will be completely arbitrary, and could include topics covering sports, movies, music, life in general, etc. My rankings will be perfect and you probably won't be able to argue with them, but just in case I will leave the comments open. Today's list will be:
The Top 5 Arnold Schwarzenegger movies
- True Lies -- Arnold's crowning achievement.
- Junior -- Arnold deserved an Oscar for this one.
- Terminator 2 -- Possibly one of the better sequels ever made.
- Total Recall -- I am still confused ... did it really happen or did he dream it all?
- Kindergarten Cop -- Arnold + little kids = comic gold.
You may be wondering why I decided to list the Top 5 Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. Really, I have no idea. I was reminded of True Lies today and I just started thinking about what other Arnold movies I have enjoyed. So, there you have it. More lists to come.