Saturday, December 29, 2007

My Trip to Israel, Vol. I

Instead of writing about my whole trip (which would be thousands of words long and not be of much interest to most), I'll instead over the next few days post some of the nearly 800 pictures I took while I was in Israel.

The first picture I took while in Israel. It was shot at the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.

In the basement of the Jerusalem Gates Hotel, where we spent five of the eleven nights we stayed in Israel

They had cool stop signs in Israel.

One of the 3,000 beautiful views that I saw; this one came from near the Arbel, a mountain.

Mesha, our tour guide throughout the trip, who lead us through the country, and gave us the history of Israel. Although he was a slightly weird guy, the trip wouldn't have been the same without him.

To quote the Kinks, people take pictures of each other. Here, I'm taking a picture of Rosina and Mo, who had to leave the trip early because his parents passed away in a tragic accident. More about Mo later.

The group trekking down the Arbel.

Mesha leading us on a trail

Such a beautiful country.

Our security guard/medic who only joined us when we were outside. When inside, we had another woman, Shamrit, who would later become the world's worst medic by becoming dehydrated while climbing up a relatively easy mountain.

More tomorrow.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Five Best...Jerusalem Songs

I only got back from Israel a few hours ago, and am too tired to write much about my trip, but here's a themed post still:

#5. "With a Shout" by U2

We're gonna be there again
Jerusalem, Jerusalem

#4. "Jerusalem" by Matisyahu

Jerusalem, if I forget you,
Fire not gonna come from me tongue.
Jerusalem, if I forget you,
Let my right hand forget what it's supposed to do

#3. "Jerusalem" by Neil Diamond

Well I was rollin'
On the way to Jerusalem
I was headed for the Promised Land
And nothing make me go against the tide
But I took a little turn, yeah
Was on the way to Jerusalem
What's another day more or less
You pay your money
And you take your ride

#2. "This Year" by the Mountain Goats

There will be feasting and dancing in Jerusalem next year
I am going to make it through this year, if it kills me

#1. "Blind Willie McTell" by Bob Dylan

Seen the arrow on the door post
Saying, "This land is condemned
All the way from New Orleans
To Jerusalem."
I traveled through East Texas
Where many martyrs fell
And I know no one can sing the blues
Like Blind Willie McTell

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I Got Them Bye Bye Blues

As mentioned before, I'll be in Israel on a Birthright trip and won't return until December 28. Until then, Five Best will be on hiatus. While I'm gone, be sure to check out Anecdotal Evidence, Mr. Ken Kurp and Green, How I Want You Green.

Seeing as this is my last posting until I return, I need to leave something good for people to see, so below are my two favorite song verses of all-time.

Until I'm back, I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas, and they should get ready for many a-picture and posting about Israel. Shalom!

Inside the museums, Infinity goes up on trial
Voices echo this is what salvation must be like after a while
But Mona Lisa musta had the highway blues
You can tell by the way she smiles
See the primitive wallflower freeze
When the jelly-faced women all sneeze
Hear the one with the mustache say, "Jeeze
I can't find my knees"
Oh, jewels and binoculars hang from the head of the mule
But these visions of Johanna, they make it all seem so cruel

So now I'm goin' back again,
I got to get to her somehow.
All the people we used to know
They're an illusion to me now.
Some are mathematicians
Some are carpenter's wives.
Don't know how it all got started,
I don't know what they're doin' with their lives.
But me, I'm still on the road
Headin' for another joint
We always did feel the same,
We just saw it from a different point of view,
Tangled up in blue.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Five Best...Christmas Cover Songs

#5. "Baby It's Cold Outside" by Zooey Deschanel and Will Ferrell

#4. "Merry Little Christmas" by Frank Sinatra (sorry for the terrible video, but this song had to be on the list somehow, and there aren't many versions of it online)

#3. "Little Drummer Boy-Silent Night-Auld Lang Syne" by Jimi Hendrix

#2. "Baby It's Cold Outside" by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan

#1. "Frosty the Snowman" by Leon Redbone and Dr. John

Here's another cool video: a guy in Rochester, NY set his outdoor Christmas lights to flash on and off to the rhythm of "Linus and Lucy" by Vince Guaraldi.

No Christmas would be complete without "It Feels Like Christmas" from A Muppet Christmas Carol. It's one of my favorite holiday songs.

Friday, December 14, 2007

NSFP Albums o' the Year

As appeared in Tuesday's issue of the New School Free Press.

Myself and two other reporters on the paper, Kyle McGovern and Joe Veix, picked what we thought were the best albums of the year.

Sky Blue Sky
by Wilco

Upon first listen, I was a little disappointed in the album but as time went by, I realized how good it actually is—which is why it’s my pick for one of the year's top albums. There’s a restraint throughout, which only occurs when a band has a total understanding of themselves. Maybe in a better year for music (2006, for instance), *Sky* would have placed lower, but with songs like the haunting “On and On and On” and deceptively solemn “You Are My Face,” it’s something for the boys from Chicago to be proud of.

-By Josh Kurp

Dandelion Gum by Black Moth Super Rainbow

If Boards of Canada stopped sampling, purchased real instruments and dropped Prozac like jellybeans, they'd sound a bit like Black Moth Super Rainbow. BMSR found an unexplored niche between electronica and psychedelic rock somewhere in the boondocks of western Pennsylvania. Compared to other records released this year, Dandelion Gum sounds thrillingly different.

We All Belong by Dr. Dog

With their third record, Dr. Dog have fully established their sound, proving that a classic rock framework doesn't have to sound overly derivative. We All Belong has a subtle, tight production that glues together each harmonious, hook-laden track into a beautiful, cohesive whole.

-By Joe Veix

Boxer by The National

The cover of Boxer couldn't be more fitting: the black and white photograph of the National performing at a wedding fits the record's cinematic arrangements and the band's professionalism. The guitars beautifully complement one another, the drumming is precise and Matt Berninger's slightly-drunken slur makes his wordy lyrics romantic. The National aren't doing anything new, but they have made one of 2007's tightest records.

In Rainbows by Radiohead

The off-balance drums of “15 Step” are familiar—expected even—until that sugary riff sinks in, opening what is Radiohead’s loosest album in years. Free from their contract with Capitol Records, Radiohead actually sound somewhat relaxed. Nothing on In Rainbows resembles Hail to the Thief's tense tantrums. The closest relative is "Bodysnatchers," when Thom Yorke expresses the frustration of being under contract: "I'm trapped in this body and can't get out."

-By Kyle McGovern

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Rock 'N' Roll Revisited, Vol. IV

As appeared in Tuesday's issue of the New School Free Press.

Sam Cooke makes me wish I were black.

Sure, white people can claim the vocal stylings of John Lennon, Levon Helm and Buddy Holly but they're nothing compared to the rawness and power that Cooke's voice has over his listeners—a combination notably apparent on Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963.

Cook (he added the "e" because he thought it sounded classier) was born January 22, 1931, in Clarksdale, Mississippi (now home to the Delta Blues Museum). He began as a gospel singer and eventually starred with the hugely popular Soul Stirrers. In 1957, he took a secular turn with "You Send Me," which spent six weeks at the top of the R&B charts.

In the next seven years, Cooke had 29 Top-40 hits, including "Chain Gang," "Wonderful World" and "Cupid." His public image was clean-cut, but in private he lived the sort of life preachers warn against. Cooke's music was closer to R&B than almost anything else on popular radio.

That's why Harlem (from the name of a Miami club) is such a great album: It's not over-produced. All you hear are drums, guitar, bass, King Curtis' sax, Cooke and the screaming crowd. The opening track says it all: "Feel It."

Although the takes of "Cupid" and "Chain Gang" are fantastic, "Bring It on Home to Me" might be the high point of the album. It starts with Cooke singing like a preacher, the band waiting for his cue. Once they kick in and Cooke sings, "If you ever change your mind/About leaving, leaving me behind," the holy/secular line is blurred forever.

I return to my previous statement of, to quote Lou Reed, I wanna be black when listening to "Twistin' the Night Away." It's sexy and catchy and in this performance, Cooke teases the audience to "wave the handkerchief 'round." The album ends with "Having a Party," and Cooke's voice has grown hoarse, which he exploits. He implores "Mr. DJ" to "keep those records playing/'cause I'm having such a good time/dancing with my baby."

The following year, at the Hacienda Motel in Los Angeles, Cooke was shot to death by the hotel's manager. The details are sordid. It was a sad ending to the life of one of the great gospel/soul/pop singers. In 1986, he was in the inaugural class of musicians inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Live at the Harlem Square Club was reason enough.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Greil Marcus Profile

As appeared in yesterday's issue of the New School Free Press.

If you've read Bob Dylan's Chronicles, you know who Greil Marcus is. If you've seen I'm Not There, you may have noticed his name among the credits. If you're a part of his class at The New School, you won't forget who he is.

Marcus, who teaches "The Old, Weird America: Music as Democratic Speech—from the Commonplace Song to Bob Dylan," was once described as the "bespectacled Zeitgeist surfer" because of his trademark round glasses and cross-cultural acumen. He is a treasure for The New School to have for he's one of the country's leading music historians and writers.

"I was invited by [Director of the Writing Program] Robert Polito," said Marcus about coming to The New School. "I go where I'm asked, and it's pretty much that. It was something to do that I hadn't done before," referring to teaching a lecture course.

Marcus was born January 1, 1945, in San Francisco, and attended the University of California-Berkeley during the epochal Freedom Speech Movement in the early nineteen-sixties. Berkeley, he said, "increased the depth and dimension of education" and "what you studied in class was played out every day."

After earning his B.A. in American Studies and while earning a Ph.D. in political theory, also from Berkeley, he started writing reviews for a fledging music magazine based in San Francisco: Rolling Stone. He started with the magazine, founded by Jann Wenner and Ralph J. Gleason, because "You could write about anything for Rolling Stone," Marcus said, and because "I was just so bored."

His first publication was a review of The Who on Tour, which he judged "a complete con."

"I was pissed off," Marcus says, "so I wrote a review, sent it in, bought the next issue and there it was."

Marcus became the magazine's first reviews editor, earning $35 a week for "about seven, eight months." But in 1970, Wenner fired him: "I went into Jann's office to talk about my role at the magazine, and after leaving the meeting, I felt great. When I told what had happened to my wife, she told me, 'Greil, you were just fired.'"

"To this day," he added, "Jann says that I quit, while I say that I was fired."

After his departure from Rolling Stone, Marcus started writing for another music magazine, Michigan-based Creem, where he reunited with the legendary music journalist Lester Bangs.

"I had read Lester's pieces in Rolling Stone in the spring of '69," Marcus said, "and when I became reviews editor, I noticed there was tons of stuff coming in from this guy. Lester was just fantastic and in my first issue, I choose two of his reviews: one for Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica and one by a band named It's a Beautiful Day."

In 1982, Bangs died of a cough medicine overdose, and in 1988 Marcus edited a collection of Bangs' writings, Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung: The Work of a Legendary Critic.

"On and off," Marcus said, "I found myself playing the big brother role to Lester."

In 1972, Marcus edited his first book, Rock & Rock Will Stand, which included several of his own pieces. Three years later, he published Mystery Train, which the New York Times said, "Should be read by anyone who cares about America or its music." Marcus places rock 'n' roll—specifically Elvis Presley, Robert Johnson, Harmonica Frank, Randy Newman, Sly Stone and the Band—in the context of American history and such quintessentially American characters as Captain Ahab and Stagger Lee.

Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century, taking on everything from Dada to the Sex Pistols, came in 1989. Published in 1996 was the book closest to what Marcus is teaching at The New School, Invisible Republic: Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes, later re-titled The Old, Weird America. It can be described as a look at the creepy side of America through the lens of the recordings Bob Dylan and the Band made in the summer of 1967.

"It's a class about old folk music languages," said Marcus. "A set of languages that nobody wrote, but sets of people spoke and lived, and it came to be."

During the class, Marcus has discussed everything from folk songs like "I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground" to the use of black face on The Sarah Silverman Program. The subject of Dylan frequently turns up. In fact, it was Dylan who gave Marcus the idea to re-visit the book.

"I met Dylan one time," Marcus said, "and he asked me, 'Why don't you write part two of Invisible Republic.' That meant he had read it, and found it worth talking about," adding, "It was very gratifying."

Marcus says on Dylan, "He's not a museum keeper, he's someone who plays with the tradition. Dylan sees it as the most interesting thing about the country."

Although Marcus will return to Berkeley to teach a course in Culture Criticism in the spring, in one semester at The New School, Marcus has given students some insights into what makes America America.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Juno Review

As appears in today's issue of the New School Free Press.

Starring: Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner
Director: Jason Reitman

There's a song by the Velvet Underground that goes, "I'm sticking with you/'Cause I'm made out of glue/Anything that you might do/I'm gonna do too." It's played in the middle of Juno, and is the perfect fit because it details the kind of innocent and pure love that makes the movie so much fun.

The film—which details Juno (Page) getting pregnant with her maybe-boyfriend, Paulie (Cera), and deciding to give the baby to a seemingly-perfect couple played by Bateman and Garner—could have easily been full of clich├ęs (Where the Heart Is anyone?), but first-time writer Diablo Cody knows how to navigate her way around a screenplay.

The first five minutes of the movie take getting used to because you must first get accustomed to Page's diction. She's full of lines like, "You should've gone to China, you know, 'cause I hear they give away babies like free iPods. You know, they pretty much just put them in those t-shirt guns and shoot them out at sporting events."

Once Juno and her father, played by Peter Parker's boss from Spiderman, decide to give the baby to Vanessa (Garner) and Mark (Bateman), Juno keeps going to their house when Vanessa is gone because of how much she and Mark have in common. Those similarities are in gory movies and the Stooges, though—not exactly ABC Family material.

Juno begins heading over to the house daily, not seeing how weird it is for her to be friends with the baby's "father." It becomes even weirder when she realizes that Mark and Vanessa have marriage problems, and that he has the hots for her.

For all fans of Arrested Development, you might be disappointed to know that Michael Cera and Jason Bateman don't share a scene together. But while Bateman isn't quite Michael Bluth, Michael Cera still retains much of what made George Michael Bluth so great.

Page and Cera are fantastic together, and Cody's dialogue for them sounds ridiculous when read off of IMDb, but really works in the movie.

The final scene of the movie, in which Cera and Page are both playing guitars and singing to one another, is the perfect ending to the perfect beginning of Cody's career—one that's worth following.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Five Best...Fruit Bands

#10. Agent Orange

#9. Blind Melon

#8. Moby Grape

#7. Cherry Poppin' Daddies

#6. Bananarama

#5. Apples in Stereo

#4. The Lemonheads

#3. Blind Lemon Jefferson

#2. Chuck Berry

#1. The California Raisins

Saturday, December 8, 2007

We Sail Tonight for Singapore

Tom Waits turned 58 yesterday.

I mention this because a) he’s great and b) he writes lyrics like this:

Well, Peter denied and Judas betrayed
I'll bail with the roll of the drum
And the wind will tell the turn from the wheel
And the watchman is making his rounds
Well, you'll leave me hanging by the skin of my teeth
I've only got one leg to stand
You can send me to hell
But I'll never let go of your hand

If I could see anyone live, it’d be Waits.

If I could be a musician that wasn't ’65 Dylan, it’d be Waits.

If I could have anyone’s humor, it’d be Waits’.

I think you can tell I’m a fan.

Here’s another classic:

Now don’t be a cry baby
When there’s wood in the shed
There’s a bird in the chimney
And a stone in my bed
When the road’s washed out
They pass the bottle around
And wait in the arms
Of the cold, cold ground
Cold, cold ground

And another:

Let’s follow the fire truck
I think your house is burning down
Then go down to the hobo jungle,
And kill some rattle snakes with a trowel
We’ll break all the windows in the ol’ Anderson place
And steal a bunch of boysenberries
And smear ‘em on our face
I’ll get a dollar from my mama’s purse
And buy that skull and crossbones ring
And you can wear it around your neck
On an old piece of string.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Five Best...Creepy Disney Villain Songs

#5. “Who’s Been Painting My Roses Red?” from Alice in Wonderland

The phrase “off with their heads” is thrown around a lot these days, but when you actually think about it, it’s actually referring to someone literally getting their head cut off by an executioner’s axe. And in Alice in Wonderland, that’s the punishment the Queen of Hearts wants for Alice after noticing her flowers are a different color. Very kid friendly, no?

Creepiest verse:
They're going to lose their heads
For painting the roses red
It serves them right
They planted white
But roses should be red
Oh, they're going to lose their heads...

#4. “Cruella De Ville” from 101 Dalmatians

In the middle of writing this posting, my friend Kyle from the newspaper commented that one of the staff members of the New School Free Press reminded him of Cruella. For my safety, I won’t say who he’s referring to. I had totally forgotten about Cruella and this creepy song—which isn’t necessarily sung in a scary fashion (after all, it’s good-guy Roger who sings it), but is more because of what she symbolizes: greed, cigarettes, fashion, ugliness—all reasons good enough for this song to be here.

Creepiest verse:
Cruella de Ville, Cruella de Ville
If she doesn't scare you, no evil thing will
To see her is to take a sudden chill
Cruella, Cruella de Ville

#3. “Be Prepared” from The Lion King

The best kind of Nazis? Hyena Nazis. At least that’s the thinking of Disney, which decided to give Scar’s minions an authentic Nazi feel, complete with raised arms and having them march in unison. The song, sung by Scar, tells of what’s to come for his hyena brethren: “I know it sounds sordid/But you’ll be rewarded/When at last I am given my dues/And injustice deliciously squared/Be prepared.” If that’s enough to reel you in, let it be known that the voice of Scar is provided by Jeremy Irons.

Creepiest verse:
So prepare for the coup of the century
Be prepared for the murkiest scam
Meticulous planning
Tenacity spanning
Decades of denial
Is simply why I'll
Be king undisputed
Respected, saluted
And seen for the wonder I am
Yes, my teeth and ambitions are bared
Be prepared!

#2. “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from The Little Mermaid

Ursula is the creepiest man-mermaid (notice I didn’t say woman-merman) I’ve ever seen, but “Poor Unfortunate Souls” used to bore me as a child. Now, it’s one of my favorite villain songs because Pat Carroll, the voice of Ursula, has a perfectly whoreish singing voice. It’s those kind of details that you don’t appreciate when you’re a 7-year-old, but as you get older, you begin to recognize the underlying message of, well, a whore.

Creepiest lyric:
Poor unfortunate souls
In pain, In need
This one longing to be thinner
That one wants to get the girl
And do I help them?
Yes, indeed

#1. “Hellfire” from The Hunchback of Notre Dame

First off, the use of the word “hell” in a Disney animated movie is shocking enough—not to mention how biblical and just down right terrifying the scene and song is. The movie’s bad guy, Claude Frollo, lusts after the gypsy Esmeralda and with “Hellfire,” he’s singing out his worries that he’ll be damned to hell. I can still remember seeing this movie with my grandparents, and being a little freaked out by the cloaked ghosts that look like the Dementors from Harry Potter. It’s also no wonder that Disney went down hill after this movie…

Creepiest verse:
Like fire
This fire in my skin
This burning
Is turning me to sin
It's not my fault

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Early in the Morning, I'm Callin' YouTube, Vol. VIII

I've proclaimed my liking of the Jackson 5 on Five Best before, and I'm backing it up with evidence: "Lookin' Through the Window." It's one of their most mature songs, and sounds like it belongs on the Superfly soundtrack. This version is from the Sonny & Cher Show, and has some terribly awkward dialogue between Sonnny and Michael Jackson, but once the song begins, it sounds really good--even if they're clearly lip syncing.

Sometime next week, I'll post my Rock 'N' Roll Revisited about Sam Cooke's Live at the Harlem Square Club, which appears in the New School Free Press next Tuesday. There's a sad lack of Cooke videos on the Internet, but here's one of him singing "Everybody Loves to Cha Cha" to a bunch of white kids.

Want to see fantastically corny? Look no further than David Bowie dropping by his friend's house, only to find Bing Crosby is there! But, of course, Bowie doesn't know it's Bing, and for one reason or another, they're soon singing a duet to "Little Drummer Boy." 'Tis the season, indeed.

In my last "Early in the Morning," I posted a video of Billy Bragg singing "Superstar" by the Carpenters. This week, I'm posting one of Sonic Youth doing the same song--but, because it's Sonic Youth, it sounds like nothing else.

This is still one of the funniest videos I've ever seen on YouTube: it begins with Lawrence Welk talking about a song being "high on the popularity charts," and you expect to hear some schmaltzy piece of junk; instead, we hear "Sister Ray" by the Velvet Underground (maybe the least popular song ever) being "performed" by the band. It's hilarious and genius.

Eight Nights This Week

When I think of Hanukkah, one of the first things I think of is Adam Sandler’s “Hanukkah Song” trilogy—and this is coming from someone who actually celebrates the holiday. The songs are both educational and hilarious, a rare mix.

Although Sandler hasn’t hit comedy gold since Big Daddy, I think is a good time to reflect on how funny he was (and might still be), and also to think about the holiday.

Oh, and for what it's worth, I think the third song is the funniest

Happy Hanukkah everyone!

“The Hanukkah Song”

Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights
Instead of one day of presents, we have eight crazy nights.

Guess who eats together at the Carnegie Deli
Bowzer from Sha Na Na and Arthur Fonzarelli

Paul Newman’s half-Jewish, Goldie Hawn’s half too
Put them together, what a fine looking Jew!

You don’t need “Deck the Halls” or “Jingle Bell Rock”
‘Cause you can the spin the dreidel with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock—both Jewish!

Some people think that Ebenezer Scrooge is,
Well, he’s not, but guess who is: All Three Stooges.

“The Hanukkah Song, Part II”

We got Harvey Keitel and flash dancer Jennifer Beals
Yasmine Bleeth from Baywatch is Jewish, and yes, her boobs are real

So many Jews in the business
Bruce Springsteen isn’t Jewish, but my mother thinks he is

Two-time Oscar winner Dustin Hoffmonica celebrates Hanukkah
OJ Simpson, still not a Jew, but guess who is?
The guy who does the voice for Scooby Doo

Guess who got bar mitzvahed on the PGA Tour?
No, I’m not talking about Tiger Woods, I’m talking about Mr. Happy Gilmore

Bob Dylan was born a Jew, then he wasn’t, but now he’s back
Mary Tyler Moore’s husband is Jewish, ‘cause we’re pretty good in the sack

“The Hanukkah Song, Part III”

Houdini and David Blaine escape straitjackets with such precision
But the one thing they could not get out of: their painful circumcision

Melissa Gilbert and Michael Landon never mix meat with dairy
Maybe they should of called that show Little Kosher House on the Prairie

We've got Jerry Lewis, Ben Stiller and Jack Black
Tom Arnold converted to Judaism, but you guys can have him back

Hey, Natalie Portmanica
It's time to celebrate Chanukah
I hope I get an Abtronica
On this joyful, toyful Chanukah

There's Lou Reed, Perry Farrell, Beck and Paula Abdul
Joey Ramone invented punk rock music, but first came Hebrew School

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Why, Santa, Why?

For reasons beyond me, I decided to IMDb search Santa Claus, and what I saw surprised me: he has his own page, complete with the 606 movies or television shows that he’s been in. Whether it’s the title or just because it’s terrible, here are some of the worst Santa appearances:

Passion Island (1927)

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)

The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas (1973)

Benji’s Very Own Christmas Story (1978, played by Fagin from Oliver!)

Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July (1979, voiced by Mickey Rooney)

Santabear’s High Flying Adventure (1987, voiced by John Malkovich)

A Very Brady Christmas (1988)

White Trash (1992)

Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas (1992)

The Town That Santa Forgot (1993)

Miracle on 34th Street (1994)

Who Stole Santa? (1996)

Santa Claws (1996)

Santa With Muscles (1996)

Jingle All the Way (1996)

The Elf Who Didn't Believe (1997)

A Thousand Men and a Baby (1997)

Sometimes Santa's Gotta Get Whacked (1998)

Santa Who? (2000, Leslie Nielsen alert!)

The Agent Who Stole Christmas (2001)

Santa Claus Versus the Christmas Vixens (2002)

The Official Rare Exports Inc. Safety Instructions 2005

Let’s Kill Santa Claus… (2006)

This guy has had a busy career. And I didn't even mention The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause with Tim Allen.

It might seem a little early for me to be doing posts on Santa, but considering I'll be in Israel over Christmas (which will also mean that I'll be on a ten-day hiatus from posting), I gotta start now to make up for the lost time. More to follow.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Five Best...'Purchase' Songs

#5. “Demolition” by The Kinks

I spy with my little eye
Anything here that I can buy.
I see a little thatched cottage
Looking so neat
With compulsory purchase we can buy it up cheap.

#4. “Sea Weeds” by Captain Dan and the Scurvy Crew

Mateys hoist the sails ‘cause it’s time to run
Before my customers figure out the deed I’ve done
But that’s the way it goes
Let the buyer beware
Especially when your purchase could have washed up anywhere

(I just appreciate the name of this group)

#3. “Bad Liver and a Broken Heart” by Tom Waits

I ain't sentimental, this ain't a purchase,
It's a rental, and it's purgatory,
And hey, what's your story, well I don't even care
Cause I got my own double-cross to bear

#2. “86” by Green Day

Exit out the back
And never show your head around again
Purchase your ticket and
Quickly take the last train out of town

#1. “The Gift” by the Velvet Underground
It was a New York company. You could go anywhere in the mails. Then it struck him. He didn't have enough money to go to Wisconsin in the accepted fashion, true, but why not mail himself? It was absurdly simple. He would ship himself parcel post, special delivery. The next day Waldo went to the supermarket to purchase the necessary equipment. He bought masking tape, a staple gun and a medium sized cardboard box just right for a person of his build. He judged that with a minimum of jostling he could ride quite comfortably. A few air holes, some water, perhaps some midnight snacks, and it would probably be as good as going tourist.

The picture on top is what SUNY Purchase looks like after it snowed Sunday morning. Before meeting a friend for lunch, I walked around the campus, listening to the MC5 and taking pictures of the place where I used to be a student.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Bye, Bye, Bye

I’ll be visiting my old college, SUNY Purchase, this weekend, so I won’t be posting on Saturday and Sunday.

But before I go, a story: On the subway this morning, a man with a homemade trolley made of rubber wheels, cardboard and what looked like the noodles you use in the pool (here’s a pic) was announcing that if anyone on the subway was hungry, they could grab some food from him. I see these Givers, for lack of a better term, occasionally on the train, and normally they bring with them sandwiches, something to drink and a kind word about God. While glancing through what the man was hawking, I noticed about 30 cassettes on his trolley. Upon a closer look, I saw that they were mostly religious tapes with occasionally something more “urban” like one called “Alley Oops,” but amidst the musical rubble, I noticed tapes for the Grateful Dead and Yes. Actually, the label said “Greatful Dead,” which is on more Facebook accounts than I count—I’ll bet they’re the true fans.

I guess the thing that’s going to make the homeless and hungry feel better about themselves are the Dead and Yes. Why didn’t I think of that?!?

Five Best...Chinatown Songs

#5. “Shoot Out in Chinatown” by the Band

Shoot out in Chinatown
They nailed up every door
They're gonna level it to the ground
And close it up for evermore

#4. “Why Can’t We Be Friends” by War

I seen you walkin' down in Chinatown
I called you but you could not look around

#3. “Shore Leave” by Tom Waits

And I wondered how the same moon outside
Over this Chinatown fair
Could look down on Illinois
And find you there
And you know I love you baby.

#2. “Fat” by Weird Al

My zippers bust, my buckles break
I'm too much man for you to take
The pavement cracks when I fall down
I've got more chins than Chinatown

#1. “Chinatown Calculation” by Doug and the Slugs

Whoever the new mystery man is
I've got to admit, he knows his business
You're reading me now
From the right to the left
And it's coming out just the way you might expect
Chinatown Calculation.
That's cool with no regrets.
(Chop suey, chop chop suey)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Five Best...Lizzy Songs

#5. “Rag Doll” by Aerosmith

Yes I'm movin',
Yes I'm movin',
Get ready for the big time,
Tap dancing on a land mine.
Yes I'm movin',
Yes I'm movin',
Old tin Lizzy, do it till you're dizzy,
Give it all ya got until you're put out of your misery.

#4. “Lizzy” by Ben Kweller

Like Mama said, don’t ya let it go to your head
When ya know you're being fed
I'm so proud to know you
Lizzy, I'll write, I'll sing
Telegraph, telegram
Telephone, tellin' you
I'll be home soon

#3. “I’m a Cuckoo” by Belle & Sebastian

I'd rather be in Tokyo
I'd rather listen to Thin Lizzy-oh
Watch the Sunday gang in Harajuku
There's something wrong with me, I'm a cuckoo

#2. “Sound of Science” by the Beastie Boys

I've got science for any occasion
Postulating theorems formulating equations
Cheech wizard in a snow blizzard
Eating chicken gizzards with a girl named Lizzy
Dropping science like Galileo dropped a orange

#1. “Dizzy Miss Lizzy” by the Beatles

You make me dizzy, Miss Lizzy
The way you rock and roll
You make me dizzy, Miss Lizzy
When we do the stroll
Come on, Miss Lizzy
Love me before I grow too old

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Five Best...'Wonderful' Songs

#5. “Wonderful” by Everclear

I want the things that I had before
Like a Star Wars poster on my bedroom door
I wish I could count to ten
Make everything be wonderful again

#4. “Wonderful Wino” by the Mothers of Invention

L.A. in the summer of '69
I went downtown and bought some wine
I wasted my head on 3 quarts of juice
And now the grapes won't cut me loose

#3. “Wonderful Life” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Speak our secret into your hands
And hold it in between
Plunge your hands into the water
And drown it in the sea
There will be nothing between us, baby
But the air that we breathe

#2. “Wonderful World” by Sam Cooke

Don't know much about history,
Don't know much biology.
Don't know much about a science book,
Don't know much about the French I took.
But I do know that I love you,
And I know that if you love me too,
What a wonderful world this would be

#1. “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
Bright sunny days, dark sacred nights
And I think to myself,
What a wonderful world

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Stand By Me

One of the most adult kid movies I’ve ever seen is Stand By Me. Based on a short story by Stephen King, Stand By Me is a movie about four 12-year-old boys looking to find a dead body. But that description doesn’t do the film much justice because there’s so much more to it than that—and it’s greatly helped by the fantastic acting of River Phoenix (Chris), Jerry O’Connell (Vern), Wil Wheaton (Gordie) and Corey Feldman (Teddy).

If ever you want to see a movie with a kid old enough to hear the word “shit” and appreciate how much having a leech on your you-know-what would hurt, this is definitely worth a rent from Blockbuster or Netflix—especially with a slice of blueberry pie.

Here are my favorite lines from the movie:

Vern: Come on you guys, let's get moving.
Teddy: Yeah, by the time we get there, the kid won't even be dead anymore.

Vern: You guys wanna go see a dead body?

Teddy: Okay, you guys can go through the woods, but I am going right here across this bridge. And when you guys will get to the other side, I will be sitting in there, relaxing with my thoughts.
Gordie: Do you use your left hand or right hand to do that?
Teddy: You wish.

Chris: You four-eyed pile of shit.
Teddy: A pile of shit has a thousand eyes.

Gordie: Fuck writing, I don't want to be a writer. It's stupid, it's a stupid waste of time.
Chris: That's your dad talking.
Gordie: Bullshit.
Chris: Bull true.

Gordie: I'll see ya.
Chris: Not if I see you first.

Vern: You think Mighty Mouse could beat up Superman?
Teddy: What are you, cracked?
Vern: No, I saw him on TV the other day, he was holding five elephants in one hand.
Teddy: Boy, you don't know nothing. Mighty Mouse is a cartoon. Superman's a real guy. There's no way a cartoon could beat up a real guy.
Vern: I guess you're right. It'd be a good fight though.

Gordie: Do you think I'm weird?
Chris: Definitely.
Gordie: No man, seriously. Am I weird?
Chris: Yeah, but so what? Everybody's weird.

Chris: It's like God gave you something, man. All those stories you can make up. And He said, this is what we got for you kid, try not to lose it. But kids lose everything unless there's someone there to look out for them.

Gordie: Alright, alright, Mickey's a mouse, Donald's a duck, Pluto's a dog, what's Goofy?
Vern: If I could only have one food for the rest of my life? That's easy, Pez, cherry-flavored Pez. No question about it.
Teddy: Goofy's a dog. He's definitely a dog.
Gordie: I knew the $64,000 question was fixed. There's no way anybody could no that much about opera!
Chris: He can't be a dog. He drives a car and wears a hat.
Gordie: Wagon Train's a really cool show, but did you notice they never get anywhere? They just keep wagon training.
Vern: Oh, God. That's weird. What the hell is Goofy?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Five Best...Spaghetti Songs

#5. “Neal and Jack and Me” by King Crimson

Strange spaghetti in this solemn city...
There's a postcard we're all seen before...
Past wild-haired teens in dark clothing
With hands-full of autographed napkins,
We eat apples in vans with sandwiches...rush

(I had to include this one because it's so terrible)

#4. “Spaghetti Western” by Primus

Laurel and Hardy's the best bet at 4 a.m. on a Friday.
No dreads about the working day after though.
Funny thing about weekends when you're unemployed,
They don't mean quite so much, except you get to hang out with your working friends.
Well, we got us a spaghetti western on 36.

#3. “Lose Yourself” by Eminem

His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There's vomit on his sweater already, Mom's spaghetti
He's nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready

#2. “On Top of Spaghetti” by Tom Glazer

On top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese
I lost my poor meatball when somebody sneezed
It rolled off the table, it rolled on the floor
And then my poor meatball rolled out of the door

#1. “Lasagna” by Weird Al

You want-a some-a lasagna magnifico
Or a-maybe spaghetti
Ay, you supper's a-ready now, where you go
Mama mia bambino
Mama mia bambino, 'samatta you
'Samatta you, 'samatta you

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Playlist, Vol. V

Here's another chance for all you readers to see the bands and artists that I may listen to but haven't yet mentioned in a posting. I put my iPod on shuffle, write down what’s played and, like it always seems to, a song from Elvis Costello’s Goodbye Cruel World did come up. Here’s what I heard:

"Girl Friend" by Modern Lovers
"Young Boy Blues" by Elvis Costello
"The Real Me" by The Who
"Mabel's Dream" by King Oliver
"Slide" by The Goo Goo Dolls
"Midnight Rambler" by The Rolling Stones
"Boom Boom" by The Yardbirds
"Dance All Night" by Ryan Adams
"How Long" by Lead Belly
"Big Black Baby Shoes" by Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band
"Live at PJ's" by the Beastie Boys
"Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)" by Jimi Hendrix
"Sunday Morning" by The Velvet Underground (live)
"Lay Low" by My Morning Jacket

Friday, November 23, 2007

Five Best...Songs from I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight

#5. “Has He Got a Friend For Me?”

Saturday night and I’m all alone
No ring on the door bell, no ring on the phone
And nobody wants to know anyone lonely like me

#4. “Withered and Died”

Silver moon sail up and silver moon shine
On the waters so wide, waters so wide
Steal from the bed of some good friend of mine
My dreams are withered and died

#3. “I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight”

Meet me at the station don’t be late
I need to spend some money and it just won’t wait
Take me to the dance and hold me tight
I want to see the bright lights tonight

#2. “The Great Valerio”

How we wonder, how we wonder
Watching far below
We would all be that great hero
The great Valerio

#1. “The Calvary Cross”

I was under the Calvary Cross
The pale-faced lady she said to me
I’ve watched you with my one green eye
And I’ll hurt you ‘till you need me