Thursday, April 02, 2015

1st Quarterly!

2015 is doing just fine so far.  What a can-do year!  We've got two (maybe 3??? Embrace the mystery!) of the original four horsemen engaged, as well as my brother Tim. What a banner year for the young ladies of America. Lucky lasses!

Here are a bunch of tangents that would probably make an interesting curve of maths
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The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmitt is so goddamn lovable.  Titus is the greatest new character TV has seen is a few years.  There are definitely still some growing pains, and less finesse than 30 Rock by a mile, but it is worth it for the glory of Titus.



Steph and I are catching up on The Americans (recommended, not required (yet)), so I haven't caught Better Call Saul but will after the semester ends.

Saying goodbye to Parks &Rec was sad, but it was time.  Community is still fresh and forging boldly ahead, so climb back aboard and you won't be disappointed, I guarantee it.

Kroll Show was a brilliant universe and Broad City just keeps getting better.  Seriously wtf happened to Comedy Central?

Last Man on Earth has some definite promise, but is more interesting for the fully-realized world of lost humanity than the humor.

Sufjan released an incredibly heartfelt new album, Carrie & Lowell.  I admit preference for Seven Swans Sufjan Stevens, so take it with a grain, but this album is just an amazing step into the soul of a man wrestling with grief, and it captures something rare and communicates it so truly: fresh grief often feels most like a tender hollowness, like you've realized you were a paper-thin vessel all along and you can't bear anything more to be taken out of this beautiful world.  He confers this with his usual ineffable grace, and the results feel like a journey you're happy to share, like you're accompanying your friend to releases ashes from the Bridge of the Gods on a perfect June day.

We've also got nice new releases from the Decemberists, Belle & Sebastian, Modest Mouse, Death Cab for Cutie.  I love how fresh and assured all four sounded.  Perhaps none had outstanding songs you'll treasure forever, but all were akin to visiting old friends and finding them just as warm and true as ever.  Oh and Jamie xx's new album will rule all.

The Mountain Goats- Beat the Champ has moments of the truly great speed-freak story-telling of Darnielle and he's delving into a subject that he loves deeply.  But there are also detours into jazz and atonal and borderline easy-listening piano composition that seem meant to lend complexity to the inner lives of his wrestlers, but only detracts and robs them of their true weight.  He's gone to the well too often with his slow, soft delivery and it just doesn't produce the same results he achieves with velocity.  The richness of the lives of blue-collar pro wrestlers doesn't need an Instagram filter.  Its pretty and gritty and dire on its own, and he knows it better than most.  Give us the turnbuckles dive, give us the drama and trust we'll find the subtext ourselves.

Decemberists- Growing pains have subsided and we get this- a wonderfully mature album, full of the wistfulness they've always done so well but minus the distracting McSweeney's narratives.  Instrumentation back from the groggy detour to resemble the subtle brilliance of his Tarkio work.  Which, in case you've forgotten, is a very good thing.



Belle & Sebastian: Fun stuff; like the Decemberists', in that nothing is quite as theatrical or memorable as the past, but lovely to hear fresh new work from them, especially with such pulse.

Mark Ronson: very fun album with lyrics by The Michael Chabon.  Don't get turned off by the early Msytikal-tries-to-be-James-Brown fail, the rest of it is goofy-uplifting disco-funk stuff with vintage Stevie Wonder harmonica to give it an oddly reassuring historic heft. Uptown Funk is the favorite single of the year so far.

Sleater-Kinney: gosh, I wish I liked it more.  Seeing them in April, hopefully it translates better.

Haven't had the opportunity to see many movies yet (continuing education is a bitch) but I can report that Jupiter Ascending was actually great fun, and a truly disturbing allegory for our time of debt-harvesting corporations farming humanity for life-force. Wheeeee!

I'll check in again soon but let me know what I'm missing!

ps
Kyle Kinane's new standup album is great and up on Spotify now

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Goodbye Harris and Jerome

I was bummed all of yesterday after hearing Harris Wittels died.  His name may autocorrect to Witless, though he was any but! (Worst sentence I've ever written, but Harris would have liked it.)  Harris was a creative force between Parks & Rec, writing some of the best episodes, and was one of the finest real-person guests ever on Comedy Bang Bang.  He had a 3-episode arc with Adam Scott and Chelsea Peretti called "Farts and Procreation" that you absolutely should listen to.  The name is a red herring, it was a particularly inspired and antagonistic improv story he and Adam Scott invented, each trying to pull the rug out from under the other.  He had a very unique comic voice- it was slow, deliberate, unshowy, weird, and truly imaginative.  Harris was the anti-hack.  In a medium where the loudest voices often drown out their quiet counterparts, he had an amazing knack for slipping in punches.  He had seemingly no ego- he didn't need the laugh, and you couldn't shame him, so he allowed the comedy to go to deep and strange places.

He also wrote Humblebrag, which is a tremendous take-down of Twitter culture the perfect airplane or beach read.

We also lost Jerome Kersey, which super-blows.  One of the all-time great Blazers and cornerstones for our golden era team.  My first hobby and obsession was following the NBA, all because of that team.  My latent nerd devotion to detail and hero-worship came to light as I watched he, Drexler, Cliff & Co. play absurdly high-level team basketball.  I would pretend to be him in the backyard.  Jerome Kersey played beautiful basketball.  It was worth losing in '99 to the Spurs; he deserved a ring.

We also lost Kevin Duckworth recently, and that was caused a similar black-cloud.  It might have been less because I thought it was a weird anomaly, just one of those things.  I'm not really ready to start losing those guys.  They played grown-man basketball and did the city proud.  I'll never love a team more.

Steph got me a collection of those Dairy Queen Blazers' glasses from the early 90's, with the great cartoon players. They recently brought them back for the current Blazers, and I think this is the first team that really deserves them since Drexler left.  I love how these guys play, and wish I got more games.  Can't wait for the playoffs.

The first ritual that has really worked in a long time was pouring one out for Harris, Jerome and Kevin last night.  Wild turkey in the snow.  I felt so much better, instantly at peace.  I hope they are, too.

So ends the only blog post on the internet that co-mourns a niche comedian and two Trail Blazers.  Thanks for reading, it felt good to get off my chest. By the by, Portland's very own Agalloch, metal vets of nearly twenty years, make excellent Viking funeral music, if you have any ghosts you need to lay to sleep:

Friday, February 20, 2015

Somebody got drunk and spelunked


Even money on Pat?

Monday, February 09, 2015

Favorite Singles of 2014


I'm finally fed up with the lack of scale of Top X lists, in that they don't provide the amount of space between 'finishers,' so I'm going to practice setting auction values for our fantasy league up-coming this fall.  With a budget of $200, this is how I'd go about assembling my roster of 2014's radio singles from the flooded market.


11. Paramore "Ain't It Fun" ($1) Very fun, fine power pop.

10. Calvin Harris "Summer" I'm only human. ($2)

9  FKA Twigs "Two Weeks" Love the production so much. ($3)

 8.  Sam Smith "Stay With Me" Dude can sing.  Too bad I'll be hearing it mashed-up with Tom Petty "Won't Back Down" forevermore. ($6)

7. Ariana Grande "Break Free"  I get that she's an automaton.  A damnably good one.  It is pretty refreshing to hear a girl who can actually sing after the yearly standard-lowering has brought us Demi, Selena, Katy, etc. etc. ($10)

6. Tove Lo "Habits" Steph was on this before anyone.  Queasy fun. ($12)

5. Nick Jonas "Jealous" Hate away! ($18)

4. Charli XCX "Boom Clap" Unfortunately she has to keep dumbing herself down for radio hits, but it is worth it, for her and everyone.  Dumb Charli>>>>Smart Katy ($25)

3. Jessie Ware "Say You Love Me" Really hoping she pulls off the Adele/Sam Smith Trans-Atlantic crossover.  ($35)

2.  Coldplay "A Sky Full of Stars" (William Wallace's FREEEEEEEEDOM except from GOOP.) This honestly is a strangely healing song and Martin's sappiness seems extraordinarily well-earned, at last. ($40)

1. Jessie Ware "Tough Love" Unreal. ($50)

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Favorite Podcasts of 2014

5. The Duncan Trussell Family Hour ($10)
4. The Andy Daly Podcast Pilot Project ($30)
3. The Adventure Zone ($45)
2. Mike and Tom Eat Snacks ($50)
1. Harmontown ($65)

/$200

While I'm at it, you should absolutely listen to Scott on the Criterion Collection's podcasts. I subscribe on Android with the Player FM app and listen at 1.5x, like I do all my podcasts, which makes Scott sound like the most eloquent cokehead you've ever met.  I've found him on these 11:

 Episodes 155153, 152151, 150, 149, 148, 147, 146, 145, 141

The newest, Port of Shadows, was a fantastic discussion that brought a ton of historical context to the film, including the phenomenal factoid that the Vichy government blamed the French defeat in WWII on this film.