Thursday, September 27, 2007

What's New, Pussycat?

A whole lot, that's what! There are a whole bunch of new shows on the TV networks this year. Last year I was a bit jaded by the end of the TV season, resolving to retreat into a cocoon of a select few trusted shows by trimming my regular schedule (bye bye, silly melodrama of Gray's Anatomy), and not having any interest in the new crop to come. That stance has softened over the summer so that I'm willing to give several new shows a try for at least one episode. Here are the first two:

Journeyman (NBC Mondays) - Seeing the commercials for this over the summer, it didn't appeal to me at all. Fox's New Amsterdam seemed more interesting to me (although it looks like it won't air until January, and reading the summary, it looks schmaltzier than I thought). A blogger I read got a sneak preview and recommended it, so I gave it a try. I really liked the first episode. The way they handle the time travel is very similar to the book The Time Traveller's Wife, which I loved. There was an interesting mystery about the dead fiancee, too. But then the last five minutes happened and it ruined it for me. The overly dramatic conclusion with his wife, and the realization that he's going to travel back in time every week to do some random good deed killed it for me. Quantum Leap was fun, and I was also in high school when I watched it. I don't need to see it again. I'm not even interested in the fiancee storyline anymore, which I'm sure they'll drag out all season long. I did like the star, Kevin McKidd, though his American accent wasn't very consistent.

Reaper (The CW Tuesdays) - Again, this is a show I read a bit about in the spring, but I wasn't keen on because of another show I read about called Pushing Daisies (from the creator of one of my faves, Wonderfalls). I read a review of it in EW last week and decided it was worth a shot. Man, am I glad I tuned in! It was awesome! Here's the unique premise: guy finds out on his 21st birthday that his parents sold his soul to the Devil before he was born. Now Satan is collecting the debt and enlists the guy to capture evil souls that have escaped Hell. Intriguing, for sure, but what sells it are the snarky characters. It's really funny. I highly recommend it. Kevin Smith directed the first episode, and may direct more later. Let's hope the non-Kevin eps are just as good. Check it out. They're rerunning the first episode tonight.

That's all for now, but I'm planning on watching a bunch more and writing them up here. Next show is tonight's Dirty Sexy Money. I'm staying far the hell away from Private Practice. Ugh.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Finally, a review of the new music I got for my birthday

I know it's a bit late, but I'm sure some of you would like to hear about the CDs I got with the generous Amazon gift certificate my wife gave me for my birthday. I'll list them in ascending order of my level of excitement and anticipation, and then I'll give a short review of each one.

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8. Guster - Satellite EP. I love Guster, and respect how they've matured and evolved their sound over the years, but I've also liked each new album a little less than the previous one. The last album I truly loved was "Lost and Gone Forever". I've only listened to this once through, and it didn't make a huge impression on me. This is more of a collection CD, where I make sure I have all the releases from my favorite bands.

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7. Michael Penn - Palms and Runes, Tarot and Tea. This is a kind of "Greatest Hits" for Michael, but not really. I usually don't buy greatest hits albums, but this has some unreleased stuff and alternate takes/demos of album songs. It's another collection CD. I'm pretty disappointed, actually. There are at least three songs left off I feel should definitely be on there, and both the unreleased and alternate-version tracks are nothing special.

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6. Queens of the Stone Age - Era Vulgaris. I love "Songs for the Deaf" and "Lullabies to Paralyze" by this band. Josh Homme is one tier down from Jimmy Page in terms of rockin' riff genius. The band just flat out rocks, but in a creative, unique way. This is their newest, and it hasn't got a lot of great press. I really like it, though. Good, rocking QOTSA album.

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5. Queens of the Stone Age - Rated R. This, their second album, was kind of a collection CD, but I also read great reviews of it. I like it a lot, but it doesn't rival "Songs for the Deaf", and I actually like "Era" better. Maybe it will grow on me the way "Lullabies" did.

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4. Rush - Snakes and Arrows. Fresh off seeing a great concert by this band and regretting not being familar with the songs they played from this album, I was really looking forward to this CD. I was excited that there were 3 (three!!!) instrumentals on it. Having listened to it a few times, though, I'm not that in love with album. There's a lack of energy to the music, except for two of the instrumentals, and a lot of it sounds too similar to other recent albums. Just reading the lyrics, I like the themes Neil Peart explores on the album, but it's clumsy in execution. It seems that I'm constantly in the minority among Rush fans about what's a good album and what's a weak one. Vapor Trials, their last release, is much better in my opinion(although apparently the sound mixing on that album is horrendous).

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3. Elliott Smith - New Moon. This is a two-disc compilation of unreleased Elliott Smith material. I was way psyched to get this, even though I already had almost half of the songs from my illegal downloading days. Listening through the discs, it is great, but not revelatory. I'm sure the unfamiliar songs will grow on me, but this is more like a collection CD... a very important one.

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2. The Dead Milkmen - Beelzebubba. I'm a big DM fan. I started listening to them in high school when my hard core fan friend copied a tape for me. I bought this album on tape and loved it. It's the one that has "Punk Rock Girl" on it, and lots of other great stuff. Somewhere along the way I lost those first two tapes I had, but started buying CDs of other albums from used CD stores. I never found those first two albums, though, so it was time to rectify that. This album is great. It hasn't aged at all since its release.

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1. The Dead Milkmen - Big Lizard in my Backyard. As you might guess, this was the first DM album I had, the copy made by my friend. It has a lot of sentimental value attached to it, so it was the first CD I listened to once I got the package. Not only was I not disappointed, my expectations were far exceeded. Talk about timeless! You hear people and critics say things like "there's not a bad song on the album" and they're wrong. There are always weak links on an album. This album is as close to an exception as there will ever be. Only the last song, a quasi-instrumental that goes on a bit long, can be considered a lessening of the quality of the other 20 tracks. You know I'm not one of those bloggers that trade in hyperbole. So trust me when I say that this is easily one of the greatest albums of the 80s, nay, of all time. Incredibly consistent, listenable, clever, funny, musically compelling (listen to those bass lines!), full of incisive social satire as well as just plain nonsense. Classic. I shit you not.

That's that. Stay tuned for a new series I hope to start today reviewing some new TV shows this season. Thank God TV is back so I have something to write about.

Friday, September 14, 2007

This post is interactive, Bitch.

Well, kind of. It's a meme. Dara over at blah blah blog posted this today, and I thought it sufficiently interesting to do it, as well. Here are the instructions:

Copy this list, leave in the bands you've seen perform live, delete the ones you haven't, and add new ones that you have seen until you reach 25. An asterisk means the previous person had it on their list. Two asterisks means the last two people who did this before you had that band on their list.

Here's my list (in no particular order). Play along if you like, and let me know if you do.

1. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers**
2. Foo Fighters
3. Bob Dylan**
4. Red Hot Chili Peppers
5. Barenaked Ladies
6. The B-52's
7. Rush
8. Phish
9. Belly
10. Mighty Mighty Bosstones
11. Bim Skala Bim
12. Indigo Girls
13. Tanya Donelly
14. Bob Mould
15. Athenaeum
16. Guster
17. Thanks to Gravity
18. Hey Mercedes
19. The Breeders*
20. Braid
21. Motion City Soundtrack
22. Piebald
23. .Moneen.
24. Blonde Redhead
25. Josh Rouse

Here's some more music fun. I happened to hear Billy Ocean's "When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going" today, and started bopping along. I loved that song back in the day. Who can name the movie soundtrack on which that song appeared?

About the New England Cheatriots, I'll only say this: Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?

I don't have much to say about Spamalot. It was fun. Not great. To someone so enamored of all things Python, I didn't particularly enjoy the parts adapted from the movie. They're not as funny as in their original contexts (although the French taunting gets ratcheted up about 300 notches). Also, I wasn't keen on how it borrowed bits from other movies and TV show skits. But the performers were very good. The Lady in the Lake is a great addition, and the original bits were enjoyable. There are a couple parts in Act II that quite surprised me (can't believe I never heard about them) that I won't spoil. A good time, but not life changing, and not as good as original Python.

Have a good weekend, all.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Man, that was laborious!

Well, my real birthday is now passed, and I'd like to thank all you who acknowledged my blog's birthday, mentioned in my last post.

Here's a list of things I received for my birthday, in good and bad sublists:

Amazon gift card
Spamalot tickets
Dinner and movie date
Two frozen Gino's East pizzas
Hot sex
Extra sleep gift card
Movie theater gift card
News that Kristin Bell is joining the cast of Heroes next season for an extended run
A cheesecake
A homemade Tres Leches cake
Michigan football's humiliating defeat at the hands of Appalachian State
Cleared-up sinuses

Stomach virus and attendant vomiting
Lack of desire to eat Tres Leches cake ever again

It was a good long weekend, only the end of which was ruined by the illness. All I had planned, though, was to weed my yard, so watching TV instead wasn't so bad. Seriously, all I watched over the weekend was college football, reruns of Preseason NFL games and house flipping shows. Good times. Now I have to get back into the swing of work, which is tough. No real news on the moving front. Our initial offer on a house should be rejected or countered by the end of today, otherwise it lapses. It looks like we won't sell our house until next year, since the market's so flooded. It's a bit discouraging.

That's all. More later, after I get cool stuff with the Amazon card.