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:

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)


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.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Favorite Films of 2014

16. Captain America: The Winter Soldier $1
15. Life Partners $1
14. Obvious Child $1
13. Bird People $2
12. Edge of Tomorrow $3
11. X-Men: Days of Future Past $4

10. Guardians of the Galaxy $5
9. Boyhood $6
8. Blue Ruin $7
7. Listen Up Phillip $10
6. The Trip to Italy $14

5. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) $16
4. Only Lovers Left Alive $20
3. Inherent Vice $30
2. Muppets Most Wanted $38
1. Grand Budapest Hotel $42


Addendum as always is that I don't see all that many movies and usually just try to see those I think I'll like.  I hope you've already checked it out, but if not you should visit Scott's list for an infinitely more refined and erudite list and encapsulation of the year in film.

Steph also liked Elizabeth Moss and Mark Duplass' The One I Love, but for some reason I was too restless for a movie that night.  But I enjoy Duplass and Elizabeth Moss is my favorite actor of the moment, so I know I will get to it sooner rather than later. This is Where I Leave You and Happy Christmas were disappointing.  I still want to see They Came Together with Poehler and Rudd, and was too busy for Interstellar, which I feel pretty bad about.

*I liked They Came Together.  Goofy farce with a few really great moments.  So excited for the Wet Hot American Summer  show to get started.