Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Feed The Animals by Girl Talk
Greg Gillis spins bits and pieces from every genre of music, creating mash-up CDs that sample hundreds of artists. The result is danceable and rock-worthy--the best part is picking out recognizable oldies and seeing how they fit in with other songs. Where else can you find Tears for Fears, Cheap Trick, and Missy Elliot mixed together? The experience can be messy and confusing and I mean that in the best way possible.
For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver
This album is something of a direct contrast to Girl Talk. Bon Iver's music is rich with softly layered harmonies. If you don't like his voice at first, listen to it a few more times. It'll grow on you. Skinny Love, Creature Fear, and Re: Stacks stand out for me.
A.M. by Wilco
For all my Wilco love, up until a few weeks ago I wasn't very familiar with this album. A.M. is Wilco's debut contribution, post-breakup of Uncle Tupelo. As a whole, the cd much more strictly alt-country than their later experimental stuff. And while I love it when Wilco grows as a band, it's nice to go back and hear their roots, quite literally. A.M. is reminiscent of the good old days of Neil Young and The Steve Miller Band. "Casino Queen" could have very easily been written by Don Henley during The Eagles' prime. Early Wilco is country music for rockers and rock for cowboys.
Fearless by Taylor Swift
So a bunch of you have listed Miss Swift as your guilty pleasure music and I'm definitely a member of that club. If they made cards, I'd carry one. I bought this cd for the Lil' Bro for Christmas and I think he mostly just wanted it for the poster. While I'm not a fan of her live performance (SNL like whoa!), Taylor reminds me of a young Shania Twain, in that it's some of the better pop-country I've heard in years. I've been known to sing "Love Story" at the top of my lungs in my car. Her lyrics are surprising wise, although still a tad simplistic and syrupy. She's, what, 17? Give her time for real heartbreak and she'll be unstoppable.
Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances by Maureen Johnson, John Green, and Lauren Myracle
During a wild snowstorm in Gracetown, Virginia, three couples come together through unlikely-yet-fated occurances in this hilarious and sweet colloboration. Each story showcases that author's talent, but all three have a feel for the pangs and joys of teenage romance. I found the book to be more memorable than I expected. If Let It Snow was a food, it'd be the marshmallows in your hot chocolate. More substantial than cotton candy, but in the end, it's still sugar.
My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park by Steve Kruger
I read this in one sitting, staying up far too late to finish it. This epistolary novel follows the lives of three high-schoolers through their personal journals, IMs, email, with the occasional correspondance between the adults in their lives. Ale is an ambassador's daughter, Augie is a Broadway diva struggling with his newfound sexuality, and T.C. is in love with Ale and smarter than he lets on. Some common YA themes are present, like the dead mother, unrequited crushes, and the young kid who helps a character figure things out. (The young kid in this case being Hucky, an utterly charming deaf 6yo who believes Mary Poppins really exists.) I felt like all of those themes were freshly interpreted. I remember laughing and crying during many of the scenes and I loved how the parents and teachers played an important role.
Such A Pretty Fat, by Jen Lancaster
I got a kick out of Bitter Is The New Black, Jen's first novel about her struggle with unemployment. I didn't read this book looking for diet advice; I read it for a good laugh. And as I expected, Jen's trademark superficial commentary and snark served its purpose. Jen's funniest when she's struggling with her desire to get thinner--it gets a tad boring near the end when she actually starts losing weight. But good for her, I say! One of the best parts was the part when Arielle got a shout-out for never having seen Footloose. I was like, "I know her!" Jen Lancaster's mixture of self-pity, pop culture, and a personal trainer named Barbie plays out quite nicely in her (third) memoir.
Ughhhhhh I hate Adam Sandler. That is all.
(Okay, that's not all. There is no magic to this movie. The only thing that kept me from stabbing myself in the face was Keri Russell's beauty.)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Benjamin Button clocks in (pun) at just under three hours. I don't think a minute could have been cut. The bizarre concept of living backwards is a great foundation, but at its core, this movie is a timeless (pun again) love story. Also notable: This was the first time I ever felt truly attracted to Brad Pitt. Dang, that man can wear a white t-shirt.
HSM 3: Senior Year
Maybe I like Zac Efron, OKAY? Don't be judgin'. I love the HSM franchise because you know exactly what you're going to get. You know Sharpay will be a straight-up witch, you know Troy is going to sing a super angsty song about his future, you know that Darbus will be her crazy Darbus self! One actor that surprised me was Lucas Gabreel (Ryan Evans). He has some impressive comedic chops-I hope he goes far. The script is squeaky-clean and the dance numbers are seriously good, not to mention the ultra-catchy music. HSM captures the heart of the old-time musical, which is something that not many shows have been able to do lately. (That's part of the reason why we need to Save Broadway.)
Marley & Me
I haven't read John Grogan's book yet, but I intend to after seeing the movie. Marley's outrageous behavior is a good foil to the relationship of John and Jen, the young journalistic couple. The movie isn't solid all the way through. The beginninng was much better than the middle or end and when it was over, SPOILER ALERT, I sobbed my eyes out. (It's a freaking dog movie, people, what do you expect?)
The 66th Annuel Golden Globe Awards
The Globes are the lowest common demoninator of network award shows, but that doesn't stop me from watching each year. There were some unexpected wins (Kate Winslet!) and some confirmations of what I already knew (30 Rock is awesome; Drew Barrymore's crazy). Ricky Gervais provided some great humor--"I told you, do a Holocaust movie and the awards will come" and Tina Fey's internet tirade was fantastic. Sally Hawkin's genuine gratitude at winning was a real high point for me. She captured the spirit of why we even honor celebrities in the first place.
Battlestar Galactica, Seasons 2, 3, & 4
You expect me to condense that into a paragraph or two? Psh. My BSG geek-out post is coming on Thursday.