Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The time of the year when I rank things:

Movies of the year edition.

The Top 7
1. Fantastic Mr. Fox – I rarely get to say everyone should see a particular movie. Everyone should see this particular movie.
2. Zombieland – So fun. Everyone was at the top of their game. And the game was fun.
3. In the Loop - Viciously funny.
4. Avatar - I liked this movie. It’s my 4th favorite of the year. But it didn’t make me giddy like the top 3.
5. I Love You, Man – The Hangover is the more innovative comedy. But I just like Paul Rudd, Jason Segel and Rashida Jones too much to let them get beat.
6. District 9 - Overrated (by nerds at least, if not the general public), but still pretty darn good.
7. The Hangover - Not hilarious the entire time, but when it wasn’t hilarious it was at least amusing.

The Penultimate 7
8. Coraline- Aesthetically pleasing. Pleasingly creepy. Creepily entertaining.
9. (500) Days of Summer – A flawed, but ultimately enjoyable film. Many of the flourishes may not have worked, but I appreciated the effort.
10. Drag Me To Hell – Not the scariest film of the year, but the return to old-school tactics, masterfully done, elevates the film.
11. Star Trek – They did almost everything right. But even if they had, I’m not sure it would’ve cracked my top 7.
12. Ponyo – It was weird, it was aimed at kids, I still had a good time.
13. Watchmen – Honestly, I can’t tell you what went wrong. But something did. And that something made this good, but not great.
14. Paranormal Activity – This was the scariest film of the year. But even at 86 minutes, it was 15 minutes too long, and those 15 minutes sucked the fear out of it.

7 That were still pretty pretty good
15. Observe and Report – There were some things I loved about this movie. Just not enough. It did feature the funniest near fatal shooting I’ve ever seen.
16. Adventureland – Dramadies are hard to do. This didn’t have quite enough comedy to pull it through. Both the drama and comedy were good, they just need to get the ratio right.
17. Funny People – The people were funny, the story was flat.
18. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – I enjoyed the film. But it had Megan Fox in it so everything else was just icing.
19. Sherlock Holmes – Not bad by any means. But for a movie about the world’s greatest detective, by a director famous for complicated frenetic plots, it was pretty straightforward and predictable. Predictable but fun.
20. Terminator: Salvation – It was dumb fun. It would’ve been better with Megan Fox.
21. Fanboys – Only made the list because of Kristen Bell.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

ChrisMix and Christmas

If you haven't received a ChrisMix or requested one, and don't plan on doing so, you can find most of the music on iTunes:

ChrisMix 09

ChrisMix 09: Outback

Did you know iTunes only lets you make 7 copies of a song? Seems like that hasn't happened to me before. In any case, I had to get creative in making more mixes.

Merry Christmas all. Here are some random Christmas videos to help you put off wrappping:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Not Scrooge, I just have standards

Here's my thing with Christmas music.

I like Christmas. It's fun, it's got religious stuff, it's got a season etc. And I support all of December being Christmassy, as I support all of October being Halloweeny etc etc. So the Christmas songs coming on after Thanksgiving doesn't bother me. Before Thanksgiving I think is a stretch, but whatever, that's not my issue.

I love variety. There's a reason my ChrisMix is all new music. I listen to dozens and dozens of new bands every year. Sure, Radiohead is, and (fingers crossed) always will be awesome, but, I love getting new music.

What was the last good Christmas song? Do we have to go back to the 50s for Rocking Around the Christmas Tree or Jinglebell Rock? I'd accept Last Christmas from 1984, but still, that's 20 years ago.

Yes, I'm sure there are thousands of Christmas songs released every year, but the fact that a song mentions, or is even about Christmas, doesn't make it a Christmas song to me. Half of being a Christmas song is being about Christmas, and half is the reminiscent nature. It's not a traditional favorite unless you've heard it before, to establish the tradition.

And I realize I'm contradicting myself. I want more Christmas songs, but I want them written before I was born so I grew up with them. And since recording artists don't have time machines, that puts them in a hard position.

So what do we get? Covers. And, if you recall, I love covers. BUT, the problem is who is covering the music. Who does Christmas covers? Josh Groban. Mariah Carey. Crappy people. Yes, there are awesome covers out there, David Bowie doing Little Drummer Boy, pretty much anyone doing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (my favorite Christmas song) but those don't get played on the Christmas stations. They do the same 20 songs I've heard, over and over again, only changing the innocuous mainstream drivel-schlocking pop singer singing it.

That's my thing with Christmas music. I like listening to MY Christmas music. Just probably not yours. And I don't listen to mine every day, just every once in a while, in small doses. Then it's great.

Avatar: great but could be greater

When we left and started talking about it, Peetie thought I didn't like the movie. This is not accurate. I quite enjoyed Avatar, it just had some issues. Few movies lack issues. But I still liked it.

I don't have a lot of criticism that's unique; other critics have all said it before. The story is thin, 100% predictable and with sub par dialogue. None of these are dealbreakers, especially in an action movie, which is what this is. It just dropped this from being an excellent movie to a very good movie.

The visuals are amazing. Cameron claims it will change the way you think about movies, which it doesn't. Really, I don't know what would change the way I think about movies unless the characters started asking me about how my shift at the hospital went. But certainly, the CG is the best I've ever seen, and there wasn't a single "that's a special effect" moments, which is extremely rare. The 3D was done very well, though personally, it sometimes knocks things out of focus just so they can have something else pop out at you, which isn't ideal.

The characters, despite the sub par dialogue, despite being CG, were very personable. There wasn't a lot of depth to them despite being 3D, but they were effective and evocative. They were simple archetypes, doing their archetypal thing, but doing it well and making it look pretty.

So, the moral of the story is that you should go see Avatar. If you're a nerd and have been hearing the hype for the last half decade, it's not going to live up to your wildest expectations. But if you're just looking for something in the theater this weekend, it'll rock your socks. And pony up the 10 bucks to see it on the big screen, because you'll get more out of it. And pony up the 15 to see it IMAX and/or 3D because that's how it's meant to be seen. And maybe it will change the way you think about movies. Or at least about Smurfs.

Friday, December 18, 2009

In case you missed it.

I need to watch Iron Man again. Yes, Spiderman is my favorite. Batman is the coolest. But Iron Man was just fun. I'm looking forward to this sequel.

I'm seeing Avatar tonight. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

ChrisMix 09

This year the songs are in chronological order, from Chromeo in January to Glee in October. If I were super cool I’d have two from every month, but I’m not. Also, sorry songs from November and December, I’ve been too busy. They follow the ChrisMix rules, new artists, one song, no (minimal) swearing etc. Let me know if you want a copy.

ChrisMix 09

1. Bona Fide Loving – Chromeo

I’m proud to say that I used Garageband to make this, The ChrisMix Remix of the song. It’s got extra beats, a horn section, audio samples from Veronica Mars. No, really I just cut off the super annoying minute of outro. You’re welcome.
2. Grounds for Divorce – Elbow
I’m sure the lyrics to this song mean something to Elbow, but they mean nothing to me. They just sound awesome. With awesome handclaps. And super awesome bass. So in summary, awesome.
3. Can’t Stop Moving – Sonny J
This is my tribute to MJ. Sure, it’s not actually the Jackson 5, but it sounds like their kids got together and formed a band. And if there are Jackson kids beyond Blanket, so should totally do that.
4. Gasa – Reset!
This song will likely be polarizing, love it or hate it. Actually, everyone I’ve played it for has hated it. But you’ll love it under the following three conditions. 1) You’re at a rave. 2) You’re driving. Just try not to speed. 3) You’re me.
5. Bang Bang – K’naan & Adam Levine
I put this song on a friend’s mix and she said she basically didn’t listen to the rest of the music. Please don’t just listen to this song. Even if it’s Andre 3000 reminiscent goodness.
6. Imitosis – Andrew Bird
I probably should’ve hopped on the Andrew Bird train earlier, but I’m most definitely on it now. For one, he uses words like osmosis and mitosis n his music. For another, he makes up words like imitosis, perhaps only to rhyme with mitosis and osmosis. In any case, you should hop on the train too.
7. Never Had Nobody Like You – M. Ward
The first of two Zooey Deschanel connections on the mix. This is a bit of a cheat, seeing as M. Ward is the other half of She & Him, who made it last year. And Zooey provides backup vocals on this song. But I allowed it for the following reason: it’s great. I liked the S&H album, but I like M. Ward’s album much more. Keep it up.
8. Strobolights – Supercar
One of my favorite albums of the year was a mix I was given for my birthday by The Boy Who Could Fly. Really any song from the mix could have made it onto my mix, but almost at random I picked this one. It’s a Japanese band (cool points) and it sounds like Sigur Ros (cool points) but is more upbeat (cool points?).
9. She Loves Everybody – Chester French
I made monthly mixes this year for my own benefit, and Chester French managed to make it onto at least half of them, usually with different songs. The album has enough variety and enough quality that they just kept making it. Here’s my most recent favorite song from the album, though that may change again later.
10. I’m Going for Your Brother – Blank
One of my original reasons for ChrisMix was to let people know where to find new music, and I’ve slacked in that respect. But I can tell you I found this one from Palms Out Sound, which is a hipster electro site that gives out free remixes, nearly daily. Like all electronic music you have to listen to 7 bad songs to get to 2 good ones, and 1 great one (if you’re lucky.) I consider this one a great one. And not just because it’s about rejection, but that helps.
11. Destination Calabria – Alex Gaudino ft. Crystal Waters
I got a bit too into European House music this year. Or as a friend put it “Club Axis music.” Axis is our local dance club catering to those of the homosexual persuasion. But this song clearly doesn’t swing that way, what with the music video containing the sexiest marching band ever committed to film. So sexy in fact that I really wouldn’t suggest viewing it. You’ll never let your kid play the saxophone.
12. I’ll Kill Her – Soko
Strange story, this song was playing in the background of a youtube clip. So after some searching I found it. Turns out it’s a French singer (which explains her outrageous accent you silly King) and was the number one song in Denmark for a time. Once again, my Danishness is affirmed by my affinity for this song.
13. Crying Blood – VV Brown
This song kicked the Noisettes off the ChrisMix. To be fair to the Noisettes, their album is better. But this song is better. Failed romance in British retro pop is a winning formula.
14. New in Town – Little Boots
Another fantastic album all around. I sometimes forget how strongly my Britophilia runs. For instance, who was number one on the Sound of 2009 British music rankings? Little Boots. Who else was in the top 10? Florence and the Machine, La Roux, Lady Gaga, VV Brown and Passion Pit (which would’ve made my 3rd ChrisMix album). It’s not like this song is about tea and crumpets, but evidently the singer’s nationality still resonates with me.
15. Here Comes Your Man – Meaghan Smith
I love The Pixies. I love Pixies covers. I love this song. (500) Days of Summer had a number of issues, but the soundtrack was not one of them. If I could find a girl with Zooey’s taste in music, but who wasn’t a queen B, I’d be happy.
16. Armour Love – La Roux
Did you know, the La Roux is a hairstyle in Britain? Like The Rachel over here. But it takes a certain kind of girl to pull it off. Like being this singer.
17. Dog Days Are Over – Florence and the Machine
Florence claims this song “was recorded with no instruments in a studio the size of a loo." I don’t know how that worked, but it certainly worked well. I imagine it’s hard to decide what to put on your debut album, so Florence put out a double album. And it’s all good.
18. Does This Mean You’re Moving On – The Airborne Toxic Event
I thought I should include some American rock so I didn’t come across as some Euro expat. Here’s some. I like this album a lot, but the songs do run together a bit. This one is my favorite.
19. Now We Can See – The Thermals
I couldn’t tell you what it is, but some songs make you sing along, and some songs, while equally enjoyable, just make you sit back and listen. It seems like every Thermals song makes me want to sing along. And although I find Pitchfork a deeply flawed institution, they did recently rank this song as in their top 100 for the year.
20. Psychic City – YACHT
For some reason I came across the acoustic version of this song first and though, what’s this junk? Who listens to this? Then I heard the studio version. Ahh, I see. I listen to this. Trippy weirdness, catchy and fresh.
21. The Wind – Alan Lastufka & Tom Milsom
This guy wrote the book on how to be a Youtube musician. Seriously, he did. I haven’t read it. I just like this song.
22. Somebody to Love – Glee Cast
As much as I hate liking popular shows, I am a pretty loyal Glee follower. Their take on recent hits (Rehab, Golddigger), old favorites (Can’t Stop Believin, Bust a Move), and even showtunes (On My Own, Defying Gravity) have turned out well. But they knocked one out of the park with this Queen cover. It’s not even in my top twenty Queen songs. But they reinvigorate a slightly sleepy number with teenage angst and the drama only high school theater can provide.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Every day

Every day someone asks me if I've seen this video. I have.

Now you have.

It's pretty funny. My favorite part is being allergic to the direction East. I feel your pain lady.

One more week in the ED.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

ChrisMix 09: Outback

No Rules, Just Right

ChrisMix 09 is done. I had too hard a time of narrowing it to one album, so you’ll get two. The forthcoming album follows this ChrisMix rules. This one doesn’t, because it’s a rebel.

1. Myriad Harbour – The New Pornographers
Eliminated for being from 2007. Also, due to pornography, new or otherwise. I go through a lot of music. Sometimes I miss something, like this one that’s been sitting idle for 2 years. So it couldn’t make the final cut, despite being great. And also, because I don’t really know what it’s about. But I’m pretty sure it’s not actually about pornography.
2. Mr. Hurricane – Beast
This song was eliminated for being free on iTunes. I downloaded it, listened, and didn’t love it. But I liked it enough not to delete it. Then I listened to it another dozen or so times, now I love it. So listen to it a dozen times and get back to me.
3. I know UR Girlfriend Hates Me – Annie
Embarrassingly jangly. I get kind of subconscious when I play it with my windows down. I have to turn to the drivers by me and assure them “I’m not listening to Ace of Base or Bananarama. It’s Annie. It’s totally macho.”
4. Boys with Girlfriends – Meiko
Eliminated for being on Grey’s Anatomy. That’s not where I heard it, I swear. You may notice that I include a lot of anti-love/relationship songs. I listen to what I know.
5. Last Stop : This Town – Eels
I love the Eels. But unfortunately, I’ve known them since 1996. And technically this song is from 1998, so there’s certainly a chance I’ve heard it before. In any case, it’s awesome. The Eels are awesome. I’m awesome.
6. Girls – Walter Meego
Eliminated for not being in my top 22. A good song, with a simple but true message. “Everything I do, I do it for a girl.”
7. I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked – Ida Maria
Eliminated for being on the radio. It’s a fun song. I guess I could’ve picked another song as the whole record is pretty good. But this was the single for a reason. It’s a fun sing-along, provided you’re not with a priest or something.
8. I Don’t Want To Get Over You – The Magnetic Fields
Eliminated for past winning. The Magnetic Fields were on the ChrisMix a couple years ago. But I finally made it to listening to all 69 Love Songs, and this is the best one.
9. The Calculation – Regina Spektor
Again, past winner. But an amazing song. I nearly put another song from her new album, Dance Anthem of the 80s, on as well. This one was such quirky-great lyrics that it won the spot, on this, the runner-up list.
10. Let Your Love Flow – Petra Haden
Eliminated for being off a car commercial. And being an artist I knew previously. And being a cappella. But except for those three things, it’s great. And the car commercial isn’t half bad either.
11. Ce Jeu – Yelle
Eliminated for Frenchness. A friend of mine posted a video of herself dancing to this song, which I seriously considered posting here. But I still want her to be my friend. I don’t know what Yelle is singing about, and probably don’t want to. Probably cheese and cowardice and streets that smell like urine.
12. The Girl and the Robot – Royksopp ft. Robyn
Eliminated for being about robots. Also because I think it’s been on the radio. It’s hard to tell since I don’t listen to the radio. But I like Robyn and I like this song. She’s great because she sings good pop music, but pop music that people don’t like, so I can like it.
13. I Am Not a Robot – Marina and the Diamonds
There’s not actually a no-robot rule. I just didn’t like these robot songs well enough to put them in the big leagues. But I still like them, probably more because they’re about robots.
14. Don’t Stop Believing – Glee Cast
Eliminated for being my 2nd favorite Glee song. Now you know there’s another one on ChrisMix Proper. This was in the first episode of Glee, and I kind of worried that they could only go downhill from there. Because Journey is ironic-awesome, and this song is just awesome.
15. Take Me On the Floor – The Veronicas
Eliminated for breaking my heart. Jessica Veronica friended me on facebook accidentally, thinking I was another Chris Sorensen. Evidently a cooler Chris Sorensen, because then she defriended me. But the song is still dang catchy.
16. Symmetry – Little Boots
Eliminated for being too slow. It’s important to have fast songs and slow songs. But pound for pound, I prefer fast. A fast Little Boots song made the top 22, but this one was still a strong contender.
17. At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used To Be) – fun
Yep, that’s The Format guy. I don’t know his name. I just know I like this song better than any The Format song I heard.
18. Wild Young Hearts – The Noisettes
I love the Noisettes. But I told myself I was only going to put one funky/soul/retro song on the ChrisMix and another band got it. So here they shall remain. They’re touring with Lady Gaga in Europe. If you’re in Europe, and love Lady Gaga, here’s another reason to go to the show.
19. Kiss With A Fist – Florence and the Machine
I’m kind of in love with this song at the moment. It showed up in Community last week and instantly made me love the episode. But I didn’t want Steve Earle to feel lonely as the only country-type number, so I put Florence on this mix.
20. Lungs – Steve Earle
I’m pretty surprised how much I like Steve Earle. But I do.
21. Liquid In, Liquid Out – The Thermals
A very simple song about the third most overlooked phase of matter. You may notice that Steve, Florence and The Thermals all clock in right around 2 minutes. Normally I prefer a 4 minute song and start to drift off at 6 minutes, but these little nuggets work well. This album is great, so you should buy it.
22. Carol Brown – Flight of the Conchords
I couldn’t leave this song off after singing it in concert. It’s definitely one of the strongest songs in the Conchords repertoire.
23. Scars – Basement Jaxx
Although I prefer the fast songs, it’s interesting to hear fast bands slow it down. The Jaxx do almost all dance music. Upbeat, move your body dance music. So this wonky number really stood out, in a good way.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Things that happened in Boston

1. It rained.
2. It snowed.
3. My umbrella was turned inside out by the rain.
4. An interviewer was upset I was interviewing outside of Boston.
5. An interviewer told me I had a beautiful soul.
6. I had another 4 interviews that weren’t as noteworthy.
7. I had a tour of the hospital that didn’t include the psych ward.
8. I had delicious chocolate carrot cake.
9. I learned how to use The T.
10. I had clam chowder. At the airport. It was still good.
11. I learned that chowder isn’t the official Boston food. Dunkin Donuts is.
12. They do like beans.
13. They don’t like Boston Market.
14. I went to a Mormon church service in an Episcopalian church.
15. I lost my voice, twice. It was inconvenient while being interviewed.
16. A driver asked me for directions, then swore at me when I couldn’t help him.

Friday, December 04, 2009


Mistakes I Made Today:

1. Staying up until 3 AM (technically today) playing Batman Arkham Asylum last night. This didn't make me happy getting up this morning. But it did make me happy when I was playing so maybe this was a draw.

2. Spending 1.5 hours looking for a USB cord for my printer. I spent literally 1.5 hours looking around my relatively small room for this cord. I opened the box, took out the printer and set everything on the floor. I tried to connect the printer to my computer not 2 minutes later. The cord had vanished. How could this possibly happen? Had I gone insane? Turns out, the printer doesn't come with the cord, you have to buy it separately. But I did clean up my room, find some old notes, my H1N1 vaccination record, and a missing memory key.

3. Forgetting my iTouch in Ohio. So I had to experience my flight without 30 Rock, The Office or Always Sunny to distract me. No Weeds or The Shield either. Luckily I'm a nerd and have a backup iPod with me, so I at least got to listen to Rescuing the Spectacled Bear by Stephen Fry. It was pretty good, but I still don't know what these Scott's Tots are, and why people are talking about them.

Non-Mistake I Made Yesterday:

1. Seeing The Fantastic Mr. Fox. I had intended to see this movie earlier, but for some reason I suddenly had a burning desire to see it, which began about Tuesday. So I rallied the troops (I'll name them so I get to make up some new pseudonyms: Bookwormwood, The General, Peetie, Swoopes, and Sacagawea) and we went. And it was, for lack of a better term, fantastic. Now I love Wes Anderson (which is kind of indie cliche, but whatever) but normally I don't love his movies at first. I watch them and like them, but don't love them until later. His movies have an aftertaste, which many movies don't. After you've seen it, you keep it around in your head and get a different flavor. But with this movie, I loved it right away. Clever things were happening, on average, every twenty seconds. Which is much higher than most films, I assure you. It was funny, it was pretty, it was family appropriate (a novelty for me) and it was just great all around. If you like me enough to be reading my blog, you'll like this movie. And if you don't like me, I'm sure you have something better to be doing than reading my blog. Like seeing The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

I wish I had time to watch the Daily Show

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Scientists Hide Global Warming Data
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

1. John isn't as equal-opportunity mocking as he claims, so it's nice when he takes a shot at the left. Even a pretty weak shot like this one.
2. Here's FoxNews commenting on this clip, and ABC/CBS/NBC's silence on the news.
3. I hope global warming either gets moving or gives up by March so I'll know whether to move to the NE or SW.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

I've whittled it down to 60. It'll be done in a week or so.