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Announcement Time!

June 10, 2009

If all goes according to plan, very shortly I shall have myself a shiny new MS degree. And that, dear friends, is where I shall part with graduate school. It’s been fun – well, not fun. But educational, at least.  Consequently, I am also moving. I haven’t found employment yet, so the final destination has yet to be decided. But, for now at least, I will be heading home to Colorado to enjoy the summer, and if I’m lucky enough to find a job there, much more of the year.

Leaving Los Angeles might be harder than I initially thought it would be. While I am more than happy to leave the traffic and pay parking and smog behind, there is quite a bit I am going to miss. My neighborhood, the copious movie theaters showing all the little indie films, the beach, Trader Joe’s. And I only just discovered Yogurtland.  Most of all, I’ll be sad to leave my new-found friends.

So, I probably need to change the name of this blog, huh? I don’t know what the mechanics are involved with changing the url, or if it’s worth the trouble, but I will look into it. Any suggestions?

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Project 365 Days 77-92

June 9, 2009

mosaic77-92

May Album Review

June 8, 2009

thermalsNow We Can See – The Thermals – The Thermals are an indie rock band out of Portland, OR. I picked this album for May because I really liked the title track, “Now We Can See”.   I’d never heard of them before, but this is their fourth studio album. It’s a bit macabre – written from the perspective of a dead person. The first track “When I Died” goes, “Yeah when I died/my head did swell/I said to myself/nature should take its sweet time/ I was already losing my spine.” A lot of the songwriting delves into letting go, giving in and feeling pretty good about it. There’s some interesting commentary on the state of the earth, or rather, the state of the earth and human manipulation of nature. The pronoun “we” is used quite frequently, and you get the distinct impression that Hutch Harris isn’t just including the band. Rating: 4

petergabrielSo – Peter Gabriel – So I’ve been  trying to listen to the albums on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list, and deciding just go to be too bothersome so I let a random number pick this one. I’m not a huge fan of Peter Gabriel.  This album was not my favorite. “Sledgehammer” has always been a song that has freaked me out. Something so overtly sexual coming from that man just gives me the willies. Also the music video was stop motion, and I hate stop motion.  The rest of the songs were meh, with the exception of “In Your Eyes”, which I do really like, but only because of its association with Say Anything. Rating: 2

For June, I’ll be listening to 21st Century Breakdown by Green Day and Bookends by Simon and Garfunkel.

Away We Go: A Review

June 7, 2009

About a month ago I was able to go to a screening of Away We Go at the Pickford Center, part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  Afterwards they had a Q & A with Sam Mendes, the director, and John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph.  Krasinski plays 30-something Burt to Rudolph’s Verona.  They’ve been together since college, but haven’t gotten married – mainly because Verona refuses Burt’s proposals. After finding out they’re expecting, Burt’s parents happily announce they’re moving to Europe before the baby will be born.  Suddenly untethered, they decide to test out possible future homes for their child: Verona’s sister lives in Tucson, Burt might have a job in Madison, and they have college friends in Montreal.  The refreshing thing about this movie, as compared with Sam Mendes’ prior work, is that Burt and Verona are completely in love. It’s the two of them and then there’s everyone else.  At one point, unsure of how their lives and their relationship are going to change with the addition of a child, Verona asks Burt, “There’s no one in love like us, right?”  Krasinski said it was probably his favorite line of the movie. They work surprisingly well together, though when I initially heard who was cast in the female lead I was doubtful.  As someone who’s mainly known for comedy on Saturday Night Live, Maya Rudolph did an outstanding job in a somewhat dramatic role.

The screenplay was written by one of my favorite writers, Dave Eggers, along with his wife, Vendela Vida. Sam Mendes mentioned that one of the things that really drew him to the script was that it expressed such optimism and was a really original screenplay.  Overall I really enjoyed it – really funny, touching, thoughtful. I felt there were a few moments that were a little overwrought, but it didn’t wreck the movie.  The supporting cast is just amazing – Catherine O’Hara, Allison Janney, Jim Gaffigan (listening to him go on and on about Phoenix nearly made me cry I was laughing so hard), Maggie Gyllenhaal. Especially keep an eye out for Chris Messina and Melanie Lynskey, the college friends in Montreal. Krasinski said that in his opinion, besides Maya, Messina gave the best performance in the film. I won’t give away any plot details, but Mendes mentioned that right after they shot the scene at the bar, Messina flew home and became a father the next day. If you see it, I guess you’ll understand what I mean.  Paul Schneider wowed as well. I loved him in Lars and the Real Girl and I’m excited to see what body part he broke falling into the pit on Parks and Recreation when it starts in the fall.

In the end it seems pretty obvious that they were meant to end up where they did, but the original had them saying screw it and moving to Costa Rica. The rewrite is much better.

If you see this movie, please let me know what you think! A friend of mine was able to be an extra for the scenes in Tucson. Keep your eye out for the hot female bartender!

Project 365 Days 61 – 76

May 31, 2009

mosaic61-76My apologies for the radio silence of late. I took the comprehensive exam for my Master’s degree on Friday! Things should be less busy now. Should be.

April Album Review

May 17, 2009

crooked fingersForfeit/FortuneCrooked Fingers So I choose this album to listen to because I heard the song “Luisa’s Bones” on Chuck (which by the way- looks to be renewed) and really liked it.  Crooked Fingers are a Denver-based band (it’s a collision of awesome!) led by Eric Bachmann. The album kicks off with “What Never Comes”, a mid-tempo, big-sounding, saxophone-solo of a song.  “Luisa’s Bones” is a story song, about Luisa’s ghosts and those exacting revenge for her murder. Great vocals on the track and used to perfection in Chuck v. the Dream Job (culminating in this). The whole album has got a kind of south-of-the-border gypsy feel to it that makes me think of people dancing around a fire at night. Like in Chocolat. But minus Johnny Depp.  The album’s got several catchy songs, including “Cannibals” and “Your Control” on which Neko Case duets.  The best part is reading all the reviews for this album on independent music sites, mostly complaining about how it sounds “too produced” and “not created” while simultaneously bitching about it being self-released. Bitch, bitch bitch. Anyway, I loved it.  Rating: 4.8

sly-family-stone-805-lStand!Sly and the Family Stone I love me some good funk, and Sly and his fam delivered quite nicely. We actually talked about this band in a history class in college (it was the first band to have black and white people). Watching your uptight white female professor stand awkwardly in front of a lecture hall while “Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey” plays on the room’s stereo system will brighten anyone’s day.  Stand! has the single “Everyday People” which became a number one hit and lives on today in car commercials. “I Want to Take You Higher” and “You Can Make it if You Try” are a couple other classic inspirational we-can-all-be-friends songs.  Rating: 3.8

Rating system:

5- I love it! Bury me with this album.

4- I like it! Will be joining my Top 25 Most Played on iTunes.

3- It was good. I will only be listening to this because music critics tell me I should, or I will be listening to this repeatedly even though music critics tell me I shouldn’t.

2- Meh. Can you resell digital music?

1- Craptastic. On par with most actor-turned-musician releases.

For May (now more than half over) I’ve been listening to Now We Can See by The Thermals and So by Peter Gabriel (courtesy of a random number generator).

The Best Show You’re Not Watching

April 24, 2009

Chuck airs its second season finale on Monday April 27 8/7c. In its sophomore season, Chuck has seen its hero become adjusted to life as the government’s most important intelligence asset- The Intersect, while struggling with his very real feelings for fake girlfriend and CIA handler Sarah and trying to maintain a normal life at the Buy More and at home. NBC has yet to announce that Chuck will be picked up for a third season, much to the shock of its fans. I asked some friends and fellow TV geeks to weigh in on just what it is that they like about Chuck.

1. Obviously, the writer’s strike killed a lot of shows as they were just starting to blossom and others have managed to survive, but just barely. Chuck, I feel, has picked up a lot of steam in the second half of the second season and has potential to do all kinds of crazy awesome things next season. Why has a show that’s as funny and entertaining as Chuck been struggling so much? Should NBC move it to another night? Spend more on advertising the show? More shower scenes?

Eunice: I think the show has just been struggling to find an audience probably due to the fact that Mondays are jam packed with good TV. A lot of my friends who were not Chuck viewers before only needed one forced viewing (it’s ok, I didn’t tie them up) to want more of the show. Maybe if Chuck were moved to Tuesdays or Wednesdays, they might be able to pick up some new viewers.

Anthony: I think the main problem with Chuck‘s struggles is that it is competing against some big shows like House and Dancing with the Stars. I’m sure if NBC moved our show to another night, like Tuesday, then Chuck would have a stronger following.

Jentrie: You know what? Chuck has been pretty phenomenal all season. The premiere was fantastic, and the 2nd episode out of the gate was Chuck vs. the Seduction, which featured one Mr. John Larroquette. The guest stars have been well-chosen. I think Chuck has struggled because of the reasons everyone else mentions – the writer’s strike, the 2-month hiatus in the winter for virtually no reason, and its extremely competitive time slot. I do think NBC will keep it, though. The concept of product placement has been mentioned, and I think that this is where Chuck definitely has an edge over a show like Daisies. If they can continue to use this to their advantage, I think it’ll help quite a bit. I’ll think about that more while I’m buying my $5 Footlong Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki from Subway to eat during the finale….

As for more shower scenes? Yes, please. I think that goes without saying.

Megan: Well I partially feel like the reason Chuck hasn’t gotten such great ratings is that the whole ratings system is outdated. With DVRs and Hulu you don’t even need a TV. I think the network execs realize that, but it’s hard to convince people to buy ad space when you can’t prove anyone watches your show. I don’t know why everyone else in America seems to like Dancing with the Stars better. I can only assume that our faltering education system and fascination with B-list has-been celebrities has something to do with it. Why does America hate everything I like?!?!

Jentrie: I feel the same way! It makes me sad to see creative shows fall by the wayside as networks fill their time with reality shows and crime scene dramas (CBS, anyone? It’s all the same show! Why can’t anyone see that! I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!!)

Brian: I can’t decide why it struggles, probably because I’ve never put a finger on why it’s so good. I mean, when I break it down it doesn’t add up for me. The premise is silly. The science fiction is of the “don’t scrutinize it too closely” variety. Chuck is too good looking to be a nerd. Sarah is too pretty for words. Almost nothing that happens is at all plausible, and the central relationship is the typical unrequited love type.

And yet, it’s such a satisfying show to watch. It’s just plain fun. I root for every single character. So why isn’t everyone else seeing what I’m seeing? This show should be pulling in 13 million viewers a week. And by all means, more shower scenes. That should be the case regardless of ratings.

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