Friday, February 29, 2008

Five Best...Seattle Songs

#5. "Heart of Rock 'N' Roll" by Huey Lewis and the News

D.C., San Antone and the Liberty town, Boston and Baton Rouge
Tulsa, Austin, Oklahoma City, Seattle, San Francisco too
Everywhere there's music, real live music, bands with a million styles
But it's still that same old rock and roll music that really drives 'em wild

#4. "Seattle Was a Riot" by Anti-Flag

Seattle was a riot, they tried to pin on us
But we didn't show up, with gas and billy clubs
An unarmed mass of thousands, just trying to be heard
But there are no world leaders that want to hear our words.

#3. "Seattle" by Perry Como

The bluest sky you ever seen in Seattle
And the hills the greenest green in Seattle
Like a beautiful child growing up free and wild
Full of hopes and full of fears
Full of laughter full of tears
Full of dreams to last the years in Seattle, in Seattle

#2. "Francis Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle" by Nirvana

It's so relieving to know that you're leaving as soon as you get paid
It's so relaxing to hear that you're asking wherever you get your way
It's so soothing to know that you'll sue me, this is starting to sound the same
I miss the comfort in being sad
I miss the comfort in being sad
I miss the comfort in being sad

#1. "The Mud Shark" by Frank Zappa

The origins of the Mud Shark are as follows: There's a motel in Seattle, Washington called the Edgewater Inn. The Edgewater Inn's built on a pier, so that means that when you look out your window, you don't see any dirt; it's got a bay or something out in your backyard. And, to make it even more interesting, in the lobby of the aforementioned motel, there's a bait and tackle shop where the residents can go down whenever they want to, and rent a fishing pole and some preserved minnows and schlep back up to their rooms, open the window, stick their little pole outside and within a few minutes, actually catch a fish of some sort that they can bring into their motel room and do whatever they want with it. You know what I mean? Now, in this bay, there's quite a variety of! Not only do they have mud sharks up there, they got little octopuses that you can catch. And all these denizens of the deep can come in real handy. Let's say you were a traveling rock 'n' roll band called the Vanilla Fudge. Let's say one night you checked into the Edgewater Inn Motel with a 8mm movie camera, enough money to rent a pole and, just to make it more interesting, a succulent young lady (Mnaaaah!) with a taste for the bizarre. My mind drifts back to a meeting, a chance meeting in the Chicago O'Hare Airport where the members of the Vanilla Fudge told Don Preston about a home movie they made at the Edgewater Inn with a Mud Shark. I'm gonna tell you, this dance, the Mud Shark, is sweeping the ocean!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

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

Even after all these years, it's still mind boggling that a song sung by Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Ray Charles, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson, among others, could be so bad. But "We Are the World" is overshadowed by bad lyrics, tacky production and the presence of Huey Lewis, Steve Perry and Kenny Loggins, who are only some of the terrible artists that were there on January 28, 1985. A noble cause (and one that brought in millions for famine relief in Africa), but it's still a horrific song.

It's always entertaining when my Unkie Ken sends me a YouTube video because I know it's going to be something I've never heard before, like Freddie Bell and the Bellboy's "Giddy Up a Ding Dong."

Why can't Tom Waits just tour again?

There's something very entertaining about watching Louis Armstrong and Johnny Cash talk about Jimmie Rodgers, and eventually break into a performance of "Blue Yodel, No. 9." Two men who have nothing in common have everything in common here.

Last week, residents of Chicago were lucky to have five straight nights of Wilco in which they performed their entire catalog. What I would have given to be able to go to those shows, but instead, I'm left scrapping for mp3s and watching YouTube videos, like this one of "Kamera."

From one of the Wilco shows:

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Apollo Theater Amateur Night

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

I came to the Apollo Theater expecting to be the only white person in attendance. After all, that's what movies like The Jacksons: An American Dream and The Buddy Holly Story have led me to believe. But I left with the image of a 70-year-old Jewish grandma doing the Rockaway to Fat Joe's "Lean Back."

The "World-Famous" Apollo Theater, established in 1934, has had some fantastic names grace its stage: Otis Redding, Jackie Wilson, Billie Holiday, James Brown—with many of those names performing at Amateur Night, held every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. But seventy-four years later, Amateur Night is only a smudge of what it used to be.

Amateur Night works as such: if the audience likes you, you get to stay on the stage and finish your song, comedy skit, violin solo, whatever the participant thinks the audience will like; but if the audience doesn't like you, you're booed off the stage and escorted by the Sand Man, an "executioner" who dances and entertains the crowd, behind the curtains never to be seen again.

The night's MC, Drew Frazier, is like The Office's Michael Scott's impression of Chris Rock: loud and not funny. He led the audience through about twenty amateurs hoping to make it big, all the while telling the audience terrible, stereotypical jokes (Ever hear the one about black people not liking cold weather? Yeah—and it's still not funny). The amateurs ranged from American Idol-esque to a crew of steppers to a girl playing violin to Beyonce's "Crazy in Love."

The only truly memorable highlight was the house band, Ray Chew and the Crew. Sounding like a mix between Dave Matthews Band and Booker T. & the MGs, they provided some sorely needed soul to otherwise crappy performances.

The night I went, the Sand Man came out twice, and that was the best part of the show: seeing terrible singers getting booed off stage and just being generally humiliated. At one point, Mr. Man came out dressed as Michael Jackson, and made some easy jokes about being a pedophile. Forty years before this sad event, the Jackson Five tore up this very stage.

That's the main problem with the Apollo: there's an attempt to stay with the past, but that's only by name dropping people like Otis and Ella, not actually providing the kind of setting these artists would want to thrive in. At one point, a guy dressed as Ronald McDonald came out and told the crowd how great the Apollo is.

And up in Music Heaven, James Brown did not feel good.

(It goes without saying, but the picture being used was not taken by me)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Five Best...Kinks Albums

#5. Something Else by the Kinks

Released: September, 1967

Best Songs: "Waterloo Sunset," "David Watts" and "Death of a Clown"

"Waterloo Sunset" is one of the finest songs ever written, and quite possibly my favorite song not written by Bob Dylan or one of the Beatles. Its the album closer, and perfectly sets up the next three albums: Village Green, Arthur and Lola.

#4. Face to Face

Released: December, 1966

Best Songs: "Dandy," "Session Man, "Sunny Afternoon" and "Mr. Reporter"

The Kinks first great album, Face to Face began to showcase a new kind of writing from Ray Davies, drifting away from "You Really Got Me"-lyrics to character songs that still haven't been matched.

#3. Lola versus Powerman and the Moneygoround

Released: November, 1970

Best Songs: "This Time Tomorrow" and "Strangers"

For my write-up of Lola that appeared in the New School Free Press, click here.

#2. Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)

Released: October, 1969

Best Songs: "Victoria," "Mr. Churchill Says" and "Arthur"

Sure, this album has a few hiccups (the guitar solo on "Australia" is kind of lame) but "Victoria" is the best album opener outside of "Like a Rolling Stone," and the album has a perfect mixture of the solemn ("Yes Sir, No Sir") and the rockin' ("Arthur").

#1. The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society

Released: November, 1968

Best Songs: "The Village Green Preservation Society," "Picture Book" and "Village Green"

Pristine, vintage, beautiful. Just three of the many words that could be used to describe Village Green, an album that probably feels as much of a throw-back then as it does now.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Five Best...Songs from Wednesday Morning 3 A.M.

#5. "He Was My Brother"

Freedom writer
They cursed my brother to his face
Go home outsider
This town's gonna be your buryin' place

#4. "You Can Tell the World"

Well you can tell the world about this
You can tell the nation about that
Tell 'em what the master has done
Tell 'em that the gospel has come
Tell 'em that the victory's been won
He brought joy, joy, joy, joy, joy, joy
Into my heart

#3. "The Times They Are A-Changin'"

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
And the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin'
The first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'
For the times they are a-changin'

#2. "Wednesday Morning 3 A.M."

My life seems unreal, my crime an illusion
A scene badly written in which I must play
Yet I know as I gaze at my young love beside me
The morning is just a few hours away

#1. "The Sounds of Silence"

"Fools," said I, "you do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you"
But my words like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Five Best...Artists Who Reached Number One Simultaneously in the US and UK

#5. Men at Work

Song: "Down Under"


Do you come from a land down under?
Where women glow and men plunder?
Cant you hear, cant you hear the thunder?
You better run, you better take cover.

When: 1982

#4. Beyoncé

Song: "Crazy in Love"


I look and stare so deep in your eyes,
I touch on you more and more every time,
When you leave I'm begging you not to go,
Call your name two or three times in a row,
Such a funny thing for me to try to explain,
How I'm feeling and my pride is the one to blame.
'Cuz I know I don't understand,
Just how your love your doing no one else can.

When: 2003

#3. Rod Stewart

Song: "Maggie May"


Wake up Maggie, I think I got something to say to you
It's late September and I really should be back at school
I know I keep you amused but I feel I'm being used
Oh Maggie, I couldn't have tried any more
You led me away from home just to save you from being alone
You stole my heart and that's what really hurts

When: 1971

#2. Simon and Garfunkel

Song: "Bridge Over Troubled Water"


Sail on, silver girl, sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
Oh, if you need a friend,
I'm sailing right behind

Yes, like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will easy your mind

When: 1970

#1. The Beatles

Song(s): "Can't Buy Me Love," "A Hard Day's Night," "I Feel Fine," "We Can Work It Out," "Paperback Writer," "Hello, Goodbye" and "Get Back"

Lyrics (of just my favorites, due to their being so many):

I'm so glad that she's my little girl,
She's so glad she's telling all the world,
That her baby buys her things you know,
He buys her diamond rings you know,
She said so.
She's in love with me and I feel fine.

Life is very short, and there's no time,
For fussing and fighting, my friend,
I have always thought that it's a crime,
So I will ask you once again

It's a dirty story of a dirty man,
And his clinging wife doesn't understand.
His son is working for the Daily Mail,
It's a steady job,
But he wants to be a paperback writer,
Paperback writer.

Get home Loretta
Your mother's waiting for you
Wearing her high-heel shoes
And her low-neck sweater
Get on home Loretta
Get back, get back.
Get back to where you once belonged

When: 1964-1969

Friday, February 22, 2008

Five Best...Personality Songs

#5. "Dead Souls" by Nine Inch Nails

Someone take these dreams away
That point me to another day
A dual personality
A strange but true reality

#4. "You're My Everything" by Nat King Cole

You're my everything underneath the sun
You're my everything rolled up into one
You're my only dream, my only real reality
You're my idea of a perfect personalit

#3. "Daytime Dilemma (Dangers of Love" by the Ramones

Miss Personality, a grade A student naturally
She had it all worked out, but things aren't what they seem
Is this real or just a dream?
And things will never ever be the same again

#2. "Seen and Not Seen" by Talking Heads

Maybe they imagined that their new face would better suit their personality....Or maybe they imagined that their personality would be forced to change to fit the new appearance....This is why first impressions are often correct...

#1. "Personality Crisis" by New York Dolls

Well we can't take it this week
And her friends don't want another speech
Hoping for a better day to hear what she's got to say

All about that, Personality Crisis you got it while it was hot
But now frustration and heartache is what you got

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Five Best...Songs from Summerteeth

#5. “Via Chicago”

I printed my name on the back of a leaf
And I watched it float away
The hope I had in a notebook full of white dry pages
Was all I tried to save

#4. “Nothing'severgonnastandinmyway(again)”

Waste the days, waste the nights
Try to downplay being uptight
Oh, you're right, but I believe
A kiss is all we need

#3. “Can’t Stand It”

The way things go
You get so low
Struggle to find your skin
Oh hey ho
Look out below
Your prayers will never be answered again

#2. “ELT”

I didn't mean to be so stupid
So far from home
Oh, what have I been learning
By being all alone

#1. “A Shot in the Arm”

The ashtray says
You were up all night
When you went to bed
With your darkest mind

Your pillow wept
You covered your eyes
And you finally slept
While the sun caught fire

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Early in the Morning, I'm Callin' YouTube: Johnny and Neil Edition

Johnny Cash singing "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" to a bunch of soldiers in Civil War-era clothes is an interesting sight--and one that sounds really good too. The camp value of Johnny and the soldiers singing the chorus together is off the charts.

Until last night, I had no idea that Johnny did a cover version of "Heart of Gold" because I don't own his album Unearthed. Less surprising is that it's actually quite good--including the guitar playing of John Frusciante from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Johnny Cash on Seasame Street singing "Nasty Dan" to Oscar the Grouch is just gold.

Many of the finest musical performances on YouTube are by Neil Young, circa 1971, with "Old Man" and "Heart of Gold" leading the way.

My favorite Neil Young song? "Powderfinger," and although this video doesn't sync up perfectly, it still packs a punch that few other songs do.

Lastly, here's Neil singing "The Needle and the Damage Done" on The Johnny Cash Show.

Such great artists.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Five Best...Songs from A Hard Day's Night

#5. "Tell Me Why"

If there's something I have said or done,
Tell me what and I'll apologize,
If you don't really can't go on,
Holding back these tears in my eyes.

#4. "I Should Have Known Better"

If this is love, you've got to give me more,
Give me more, hey hey hey, give me more.

#3. "A Hard Day's Night"

It's been a hard day's night, and I been working like a dog
It's been a hard day's night, I should be sleeping like a log
But when I get home to you I find the things that you do
Will make me feel alright

#2. "I'm Happy Just to Dance With You"

I don't want to kiss or hold your hand
If it's funny try and understand
There is really nothing else I'd rather do
'Cause I'm happy just to dance with you

#1. "If I Fell"

If I fell in love with you
Would you promise to be true
And help me understand
'Cause I've been in love before
And I found that love was more
Than just holding hands

Friday, February 15, 2008

[Hero] Youngest Baby Beatles Show in Diaper-Hey Jude

The greatest (and only) version of "Hey Jude" I've ever heard.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Five Best...Valentine Songs

#5. "Sleepwalker" by the Wallflowers

Cupid, don't draw back your bow
Sam Cooke didn't know what I know
I'll never be your valentine
The sleepwalker in me
And God only know that I've tried

#4. "When I'm 64" by the Beatles

When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now,
Will you still be sending me a Valentine,
birthday greetings, bottle of wine?

#3. "St. Patrick's Day" by John Mayer

No way November will see our goodbye
When it comes to December, it's obvious why
No one wants to be alone at Christmas time
And come January, we're frozen inside
Making new resolutions a hundred times
February, won't you be my valentine?
And we'll both be safe 'til St. Patrrick's Day

#2. "Love Minus Zero/No Limit" by Bob Dylan

People carry roses,
Make promises by the hours,
My love she laughs like the flowers,
Valentines can't buy her.

#1. "My Funny Valentine" by Frank Sinatra

But don't change your hair for me
Not if you care for me
Stay little valentine stay
Each day is Valentine's Day

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Oscar Predictions

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

With shows still in reruns (except for Lost, thank God) and relief not in sight, it's a good thing that the Oscars will be shown on February 24 on ABC. If not, the only thing else to watch would be repeats of the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet…With that terrible (and fuzzy) thought in mind, here are my Oscar 2008 picks:

Best Director
Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men

You'd think it'd be impossible to do better than Fargo or Barton Fink, but somehow the Coen Brothers outdid themselves with No Country for Old Men. Beautifully shot and expertly paced, it's nearly a perfect movie, and one that will give the brothers their first directing Oscar.

Best Actor
Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood

When Daniel Day-Lewis decides to do a movie, it's a treat, and while There Will Be Blood has some ridiculous scenes in it (meaning pretty much the final ten minutes of the movie), he is endlessly fascinating to watch and always the focus of attention.

Best Actress
Julie Christie, Away From Her

This category comes down to two people: Julie Christie and Ellen Page from Juno. And considering the Oscars like old people rather than younger ones, I’ll take Christie.

Best Supporting Actor
Javier Bardem, No County for Old Men

Javier Bardem brings a terrifying vacancy to his character, the awesomely-named Anton Chigurh. Never being able to tell exactly what his character is thinking, Bardem gives no reason for the murders he commits—and it's simply chilling. One of the finest performances of the year.

Best Supporting Actress
Cate Blanchett, I'm Not There

It's Cate and everyone else. Cate does such a fine job playing one of many Bob Dylan's in Todd Haynes' I'm Not There that at the end of the movie, you forget you're watching a 38-year-old Australian woman, not Bob, circa 1966.

Best Picture
No Country for Old Men

The finest movie of the year will (and should) win Best Picture, which is something that doesn't always happen with the Oscars. After all, Chicago and Crash have won in recent years…

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

It Was One Year Ago Today

On February 12, 2007, I started Five Best. One year later, I can’t believe I’m still doing it. Technically, FB began before that as a column in The New School’s newspaper, Inprint, now the New School Free Press. But the blog actually began during, fittingly enough, Jazz History.

The class was from 9-11:40 a.m., and in the stuffy, mini-auditorium, sitting in one seat for nearly three hours became uncomfortable and occasionally boring. The class was interesting enough, but I needed something else to do. Luckily for me, I always brought my laptop along, and would normally just read articles.

On that fateful day, I’m not sure what lead me to starting Five Best, outside of my wanting to have a blog and already having a column that I loved to do. Plus, I love music (which is what the majority of my posts are about), so that helped.

So, with a post on John Wesley Harding, I began Five Best, and while I have since stopped doing it for the newspaper and instead took up Rock ‘N’ Roll Revisited, I’m happy to continue doing it on Blogspot, and hope to for quite some time more.

Here are some people and websites I’d like to thank: Any time I need lyrics, I go to this website, for they have a great collection of songs with the (mostly) correct lyrics.

ExpectingRain: My favorite Bob Dylan website, and one that has also linked to my blog on multiple occasions.

Ken Kurp of Mr. Ken Kurp: For consistently (and lovingly) mocking my blog, and for making me laugh—when it actually gets updated, that is.

Nadia Chaudhury of Green, How I Want You Green: She's my girlfriend (and it's our six-month anniversary in a few days), so I kind of had to include her. Plus, she'll occasionally send me articles that are born to be blogged about, like one about Hitler's music taste.

Susan Kurp: If my mom hadn’t shown me The Last Waltz, I’m not sure if I’d be listening to the music I listen to today.

Patrick Kurp of Anecdotal Evidence: Without my father’s own blog, I would never have started mine, and many of the things I’ve written about came from conversations between the two of us.

Five Best...One-Season Television Shows

#5. They Honeymooners

#4. Undeclared

#3. Firefly

#2. Stella

#1. Freaks and Geeks

Monday, February 11, 2008

Rock 'N' Roll Revisited, Vol. VI

(As will appear in tomorrow's issue of the New School Free Press)

The Kinks
Lola versus Powerman and the Moneygoround

It's sad how little the Kinks are known, at least in comparison to two of their contemporaries they inspired, the Who and the Rolling Stones. But recently the Kinks got a much-needed boost of popularity thanks to Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited. In the movie, "Strangers" and "This Time Tomorrow" are used during climatic scenes, and in choosing the songs to play instead of actual dialogue, it goes to show just how poignant the Kinks are.

Both of those songs are on 1970's Lola versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, which outside of being the longest named album by someone other than Fiona Apple, is also a rock 'n' roll masterpiece.

It's also an album that's particularly relevant today. Much of Lola deals with Ray Davies, lyricist and lead singer, and his utter frustration at record companies and the music industry as a whole. In "Moneygoround," he sings, "There's no end to it, I'm in a pit and I'm stuck in it," referring to the never-ending cycle of where song residuals go.

The Kinks draw on a sense of mature playfulness, which separates them from other bands at the time, like the Small Faces who could never get beyond amateurish lyrics. The playfulness side of the Kinks can be felt in their biggest hit, "Lola," a song about dancing with a woman who turns out to be a man, and includes the great line, "Well I'm not the world's most masculine man/But I know what I am, and I'm glad I'm a man/And so is Lola."

"This Time Tomorrow" is one of the Kinks best songs, and one of my favorite songs of all-time. Davies' voice sounds anxious and torn when he sings, "This time tomorrow, what will we know/Will we still be here, watching an in-flight movie show/I'll leave the sun behind me, and watch the clouds as they sadly pass me by." The rest of the band (Dave Davies, John Dalton, Mick Avory and John Gosling) provides a tender musical background. Try listening to this song when leaving someone you love behind, and you'll understand its power. It's also one of the finest songs ever to begin with the noise of an airplane taking off, like the Beatles' "Back in the USSR."

The rest of Lola has songs about being free ("Intro" and "Got to be Free"), about going back to pre-industrial times ("Apeman") and a simple one about "daytime, nighttime, every day you can hear the music play" ("Denmark Street").

I hate it when most bands reunite because they're usually only a fraction of their former selves—look no further than Zeppelin and the Sex Pistols. But I do hope the Kinks come back together (they're thinking about it) just so that I might have the opportunity to hear "This Time Tomorrow" and the rest of Lola done live.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Five Best...Ongoing Jokes on Arrested Development

Two years ago today, Arrested Development had its series finale. On that fatal day of February 10, 2006, Fox showed the final four episode in a two-hour block. My Mom and I TiVo'd those episodes, and we waited over a month to watch them because we didn't want the show to end.

Well, we eventually did watched them, but Arrested is now more of my life than ever before. I've got two friends, Kayley and Nadia, who I can quote the show with, and there's even rumors of an Arrested Development movie.

The show works like an in-joke: it's not funny unless you spend a lot of time with the Bluth Family, but once you do, you feel special, like you're part of something that very few others are.

If I could suggest one show for someone to watch, it'd be Arrested (yes, even over The Simpsons) and with that in mind, here are the best recurring jokes over its three years on air:

(I should mention that I don't make reference to who these people are outside of their name because that'd take a much longer entry to explain, and as soon as you start watching the show, you'll know everything that's needed to know)

#5. Bleeps

Sometimes using a bleep is funnier than actually using the word "shit," and Arrested Development takes full of advantage of this. It leaves the joke more open-ended, and even on the DVDs, they kept the beeps in.

Michael: You know, I'm in pretty good shape, Buster. You could be eating my dust all day.
Narrator: Buster was starting to give as good as he received.
Buster: Yeah, and you could be eating *bleep* that's gonna *bleep*.
Michael: Well, let's hope it doesn't come to that.

Narrator: Gob was recently hired by the Bluth Company's rival, Sitwell Enterprises. And although he started off well...
Gob: 52 percent of the country is single. That's a market that's been dominated by apartment rentals. Let's take some of that market. I call it "Single City."
Narrator: ...His ideas failed to evolve.
Gob: It's, like, "Hey, you want to go down to the whirlpool?" "Yeah, I don't have a husband." I call it "Swing City."
Stan Sitwell: Let's get into some new areas, if you don't mind.
Narrator: But Gob continued to fine-tune his first one.
Gob: How do we filter out the teases? We don't let them in.
Gob: This goes for the guys, too. Because sometimes the guys are tapped out. But check your lease, man, because you're living in *bleep* City.

Buster: [about Lucille] It's like she gets off on being withholding.
Michael: Whoa. Buster.
Gob: Look who's got something to say.
Buster: [impersonating Lucille] I'm Mom and I want to shoot down everything you say so I feel good about myself.
Gob: Look who's ragging on the old lady.
Buster: Cause I'm an uptight *long bleep* Buster *long bleep*, you old horny slut.
Michael: Well, no one's going to top that.

Gob: Please refrain from discussing or engaging in any inter-office *bleep* and *bleep* and finger *bleep* and *long bleep* or even *bleep*, even though so many of us are begging for it. Oh, and if anyone lays a finger on my sister Lindsay, I'll take off my pants, I'll show you my *bleep* and I'll personally *long bleep*.

#4. The Chicken Dance

Evidently no one in the Bluth family has ever seen a chicken. Evidence can be found here. And here. And here. But be careful not to do the dance in Mexico.

#3. Lessons

This is a tough one to explain: George Bluth used to terrorize Michael, Lindsay, Gob and Buster by getting a one-armed man named J. Walter Weatherman to teach them "lessons." Here's one of them:

Young George Sr.: Will you kids keep it down in back?!
[Car hits pedestrian, whose secretly prosthetic arm is severed and lands on bonnet of car. Screams from Bluth siblings.]
Young George Sr.: Oh my God! This innocent man's arm has come off! This would never have happened if we hadn't had to go out for milk!
J. Walter Weatherman: And that's why you always leave a note.

And another:

Michael Bluth: I need the guy with the fake arm, J. Walter Weatherman.
George Bluth, Sr.: Oh, he's dead. You killed him when you left the door open with the air conditioning on.

#2. Franklin

Why does Gob own a black puppet wearing track pants? That's never actually answered, but it doesn't really because of how funny Franklin is. In the newspaper office at my college, my friend Kayley and I made the computer background this picture of Franklin--and considering no one has complained, he'll be staying there for quite some time. Plus, Franklin and Gob's song is a highlight of the show:

Gob: It ain't easy being white
Franklin: It ain't easy being brown
Gob: All this pressure to be bright
Franklin: I got kids all over town

Here's some more great lines:

Narrator: In an effort to "hip" up his act, Gob had briefly introduced a puppet.
Gob: [as Franklin] Can I tell you something, my man?
Gob: Sure, Franklin.
Gob: [as Franklin] You are one cool *bleep* Speaking of mothers, let me give that oatmeal some brown sugar. [the puppet kisses Lucille]
George Sr.: Get off my wife, you bastard.
[strangles Franklin]
Gob: [as Franklin] What's the matter with you?

Gob: Franklin said some things Whitey wasn't ready to hear.
Michael: Gob, weren't you also mercilessly beaten outside of a club in Torrance for that act?
Gob: He also said some things that African-American-y wasn't ready to hear either.

George Michael: Is Franklin going to be there?
Gob: See that, Mike? Kids love Franklin.
George Michael: I just don’t want him to point out my “cracker ass” in front of Ann.
Gob: Imagine what he'd say about her.

Lucille: They’re not going to let you in at the country club with that.
Buster: [As Franklin.] I don’t want no part of your tight-ass country-club, you freak bitch!

Gob: I can’t. I already lost a brother today.
Michael: Franklin?
Gob: Well, I didn’t lose him, but he’s all puckered and white.
Michael: On the plus side, you can take him to lunch at the club now.
Gob: [sobbing] That’s the exact kind of joke he would have loved! (Singing) You know it's true. Everything I do...
Michael: Please don't do this.
Gob:...I do it for you.

Racist? Yes. Hilarious? You bet.

#1. Tobias is gay.

David Cross is in way too much junk (his film career includes She's the Man, Alvin and the Chipmunks and Men In Black II), but I'll accept all that crap to get the character of Tobias Fünke. One of my favorite television characters of all-time, the best on-going of Arrested is whether Tobias is straight (after all, he has a wife) or very, very gay. For evidence of the latter, here's some quotes:

Tobias Fünke: [as Mrs. Featherbottom] Okay, who'd like a banger in the mouth?
[laughs] Right, I forgot, here in the States, you call it a sausage in the mouth.
Michael: We just call it a sausage.

Narrator: Tobias listens to a day's worth of his own words, to see what Michael was referring to...
Tobias Fünke: [on tape]...even if it means me taking a chubby, I will suck it up.
Tobias Fünke: Nothing wrong with that.
Tobias Fünke: [on tape] Oh, I've been in the film business for a while, but I just can't seem to get one in the can.
Tobias Fünke: It's out of context.
Tobias Fünke: [on tape] I wouldn't mind kissing that man between the cheeks.
Narrator:...and he realized there is something distinct about the way he speaks.
Tobias Fünke: Tobias, you blowhard. [chuckles]

Tobias Fünke: Excuse me, do these effectively hide my thunder?

Tobias Fünke: Don't leave your Uncle Teabag hanging.
George Michael: Don't call it that.

Tobias Fünke: Boy, I sure feel like a Mary without a Peter and a Paul.

Tobias Fünke: I'm looking for something that says "Dad likes leather."
Salesman: You mean, Leather Daddy?

(Big thanks to for these quotes)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Ten Best...Movies to See in 2008

#10. The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons

I'm not a big F. Scott Fitzgerald fan, but the story sounds interesting (a man is born and ages backward, going from old to young), I like the cast (Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett) and David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac) is directing it. That could all add up to be a pretty good movie.

Release Date: November 26

#9. The X-Files 2

I only just started watching The X-Files, and maybe by the time this movie comes out, I'll be caught up. If not, I'll get it on DVD. Either way, I'm glad I'm finally watching a show I should have started years ago.

Release Date: July 25

#8. The Happening

Maybe I'm adding this because a friend of mine acts in it (look out for Shayna Levine!) but it might also have to do with this movie supposedly being M. Night Shyamalan return to Sixth Sense-greatness. Plus, Zooey Deschanel is in it, and I'd see anything for her--except Surf's Up.

Release Date: June 13

#7. WALL-E

After seeing Ratatouille two weeks ago, I did a posting on the Eight Best...Pixar Films, mostly meaning to show how Pixar hasn't had a bad movie yet. And although a plot revolving around a robot doesn't terribly interest me, I thought the same thing before seeing The Incredibles, which it turned out to be, well, great.

(You thought I was going to say "incredible," didn't you?)

Release Date: June 27

#6. Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Jason Segal. Kristen Bell. Bill Hader. Jonah Hill. Paul Rudd. Judd Apatow. Need I say more?

Release Date: April 18

#5. Pineapple Express

Seth Rogen. James Franco. Evan Goldberg. Bill Hader. Judd Apatow. Need I say more? Again.

Release Date: August 8

#4. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

From what I've heard, a lot gets cut from the movie, but that doesn't mean it'll be a bad movie. In fact, it'll probably be the best Harry Potter movie yet, what with the cast getting better and the plot being the darkest of any of the previous movies. But I still can't wait for the seventh and final one to come out.

Release Date: November 21

#3. The Dark Knight

Batman Begins was a great movie, and there's absolutely reason to believe this movie won't be as good, if not better. The core cast returns, and the late Heath Ledger, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Aaron Eckhart, Cillian Murphy and Anthony Michael Hall (!) are also in it. There's no way this movie is going to be bad.

Release Date: July 18

#2. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

I don’t care that Harrison Ford is 65 years old and that his last good movie was 2000’s What Lies Beneath and before that, Air Force One…in 1997. It’s still Indiana Jones, and although Short Round (sadly) won’t be in the movie, I think it’s still going to be a very good movie—at least I hope so.

Release Date: May 22

#1. Star Trek

When I heard that they wanted to make another Star Trek movie, I thought to myself, Why? But then I heard J.J. Abrams’ name was attached and Zachary Quinto signed on to be Spock, and I immediately changed my thoughts to, When’s it coming out?!? As someone who has seen nearly every Trek movie and is making their way through the episodes as we speak, it’s essential that this is a good movie or, I fear, Trek will be dead for good.

Release Date: December 25

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Randomness is Essential

And anytime you feel the pain,
Hey Jude, refrain,
Don't carry the world upon your shoulders.
For well you know that it's a fool,
Who plays it cool,
By making his world a little colder.

That's all I wanna say.

Our House Where Nobody Lives

What do the songs "House Where Nobody Lives" by Tom Waits and "Our House" by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young have in common, outside of being songs about homes? Well, some 3D modelers in India decided to design the houses, and make them available for viewing online. In other words, you can see the "house where nobody lives," and then take a look at "our house."

Who knew they had a thing for Tom Waits in India?

Five Best...Television Homes I Wouldn't Mind Visiting

#5. 1313 Mockingbird Lane on The Munsters

#4. Any giant New York apartment (Friends, Sex and the City, etc.)

#3. Schrute Farms on The Office

#2. The Simpsons residence (742 Evergreen Terrace) on The Simpsons

#1. The Satellite of Love on Mystery Science Theater 3000

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Five Best...Change Songs

#5. "Changes" by David Bowie

(Turn and face the strain)
Don't tell them to grow up and out of it
(Turn and face the strain)
Where's your shame?
You've left us up to our necks in it
Time may change me,
But you can't trace time

#4. "Free Bird" by Lynard Skynard

...And this bird you cannot change.

#3. "Change Your Mind" by Neil Young

When you're confused and the world has got you down
When you feel used and you just can't play the clown
Protecting you from this must be the one you love
Must be the one whose magic touch can change your mind
Don't let another day go by without the magic touch

Protecting you (change your mind)
Restoring you (change your mind)
Revealing you (change your mind)
Soothing you (change your mind)

#2. "The Times They Are A-Changin'" by Bob Dylan

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'.

#1. "A Change Is Gonna Come" by Sam Cooke

I was born by the river in a little tent
And just like the river, I've been running ever since
It's been a long time coming
But I know a change is gonna come

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Five Best...Songs from Damn the Torpedoes

#5. "Don't Do Me Like That"

I was talkin’ with a friend of mine,
He said a woman had hurt his pride,
She told him that she loved him so and
Then turned around and let him go.
Then he said, “You better watch your step
Or you’re gonna get hurt yourself.
Someone’s gonna tell you lies and
Cut you down to size.”

#4. "Shadow of a Doubt (A Complex Kid)"

Sometimes at night, I wait around ‘til she gets off.
She don’t like workin’, she says she hates her boss,
But she’s got me askin’ questions, she’s got me on the fence
With that little certain something, she’s a complex kid,
And she’s always been so hard to get around.
She always likes to leave me with a shadow of a doubt.

#3. "Even the Losers"

Time meant nothing, anything seemed real.
Yeah, you kissed like fire and you made me feel
Like every word you said was meant to be.
It couldn't been that easy to forget about me.

#2. "Here Comes My Girl"

But when she puts her arms around me
I can somehow rise above it.
Yeah, man when I got that little girl standin' right by my side,
You know, I can tell the whole wide world to shove it, hey!

#1. "Refugee"

Somewhere, somehow,
Somebody must have kicked you around some.
Who knows? Maybe you were kidnapped,
Tied up, taken away, and held for ransom.

It don't really matter to me, baby,
Everybody's had to fight to be free,
You see you don't have to live like a refugee.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Ten Best...Memphis Songs

#10. "Cities" by Talking Heads

Did I forget to mention, to mention Memphis?
Home of Elvis and the ancient Greeks
Do I smell? I smell home cooking
It's only the river, it's only the river.

#9. "Music Makin' Mama from Memphis" by Hank Snow

She'll play a little rhythm, do the boogie up right
A Tennessee polka, maybe blues in the night
Ever'body travels from near and far
To hear her when she picks it on that old guitar
My Music Makin' Mama from Memphis, Tennessee

#8. "Memphis Soul Stew" by King Curtis

Today's special is Memphis Soul Stew
We sell so much of this, people wonder what we put in it
We gonna tell you right now
Give me about a half a teacup of bass
Now I need a pound of fatback drums
Now give me four tablespoons of boiling Memphis guitars
This goin' taste alright
Now just a little pinch of organ
Now give me a half a pint of horn
Place on the burner and bring to a boil
That's it, that's it, that's it right there.
Now beat, well.

#7. "Memphis, Tennessee" by Chuck Berry

The last time I saw Marie
She was waving me goodbye
With hurry homedrops on her cheek
That trickled from her eyes
Marie is only six years old
Information please,
Help me get in touch with her
In Memphis, Tennessee

#6. "All the Way from Memphis" by Mott the Hoople

Now it’s a mighty long way down the dusty trail
And the sun burns hot on the cold steel rails
And I look like a bum, and I crawl like a snail
All the way from Memphis

#5. "Memphis Beat" by Jerry Lee Lewis

I'm going to Memphis where the beat is tough
Memphis, I can't get enough
It makes you tremble and it makes you weak
It's in your blood, that Memphis Beat

#4. "Honkey Tonk Woman" by the Rolling Stones

I met a gin soaked, bar-room queen in Memphis,
She tried to take me upstairs for a ride.
She had to heave me right across her shoulder
'Cause I just can't seem to drink you off my mind.

#3. "Proud Mary" by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Cleaned a lot of plates in Memphis,
Pumped a lot of 'pane down in New Orleans,
But I never saw the good side of the city,
'Till I hitched a ride on a river boat queen

#2. "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again" by Bob Dylan

Well, Shakespeare, he's in the alley
With his pointed shoes and his bells,
Speaking to some French girl,
Who says she knows me well.
And I would send a message
To find out if she's talked,
But the post office has been stolen
And the mailbox is locked.
Oh, Mama, can this really be the end,
To be stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis blues again.

#1. "Back to Memphis" by Chuck Berry

I'm going to leave here in the morning and walk down to the station
I've got just enough money to pay my transportation
I'm going back to Memphis, back home with my Mama
If I have to ride that bus barefooted in pajamas
Back home in Memphis, no moaning and groaning
I know everything will be all right in the morning

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Five Best...Songs from Time Out of Mind

#5. "Standin' in the Doorway"

Last night I danced with a stranger
But she just reminded me you were the one
You left me standing in the doorway crying
In the dark land of the sun

#4. "Tryin' to Get to Heaven"

People on the platforms
Waiting for the trains
I can hear their hearts a-beatin'
Like pendulums swinging on chains
When you think that you lost everything
You find out you can always lose a little more
I'm just going down the road feeling bad
Trying to get to heaven before they close the door

#3. "Love Sick"

Sometimes the silence can be like the thunder
Sometimes I wanna take to the road and plunder
Could you ever be true?
I think of you
And I wonder

#2. "Not Dark Yet"

Well, I've been to London and I've been to gay Paree
I've followed the river and I got to the sea
I've been down on the bottom of a world full of lies
I ain't looking for nothing in anyone's eyes
Sometimes my burden seems more than I can bear
It's not dark yet, but it's getting there

#1. "Highlands"

Well, my heart's in the Highlands at the break of day
Over the hills and far away
There's a way to get there, and I'll figure it out somehow
But I'm already there in my mind
And that's good enough for now

Saturday, February 2, 2008

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

In respect to my posting yesterday about Israel, here's a production of Fiddler on the Japanese. Seriously, Tevye has never looked or sounded better.

My next Rock 'N' Roll Revisited is on the Kinks, so I'd might as well post one of their songs, specifically a promotional video of "Dead End Street" from their great album, Face to Face.

Last night, a few friends and I watched The Ten, a movie directed by David Wain of Stella fame. We were all hoping it'd be as good as the other movie he directed, Wet Hot American Summer, which is one of my favorite movies of all-time. Alas, The Ten sucked and we were all disappointed. So, to get rid of the awful taste of Paul Rudd being in that movie (seriously, he's better than that), here's a clip of him on The Showalter Showalter, hosted by none other than Michael Showalter.

To all Lost fans: how awesome was the season premiere? I'm still pondering why Jack's father was in Jacob's chair...but enough nerd talk, here's a video of Weird Al's take on "Bohemian Rhapsody" set to Lost clips--sort of.

I don't particularly like Rent, but I do love Newsies. So, I was a bit skeptical when I found a video on YouTube of a scene from Rent with "Santa Fe" from Newsies being played over it. But after finishing it, I was left pleasantly surprised at how well they sync up--although I do hate myself a little for watching even one scene from Rent.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Red, White and Jew

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

Due to the fact that I'm Jewish and between the ages of 18-26, I was able to go on a Birthright trip—along with thousands of other people each year. Birthright's goal is to create more of a Jewish identity, and they do this by providing a free trip to Israel.

I spent eleven days in Israel, and had all my airfare board and most of my meals paid for. You could do the whole trip for around 200 shekels, or about $50.

We spent most of our time in Jerusalem—the largest city in the country—where we met our traveling companions: a group of eight Israeli soldiers who stayed with us for five days.

Spending time with the soldiers provided interesting insight into being a 20-year-old Israeli. When a citizen turns 18, they join the Israel Defense Force and are there until they turn either 20 for women or 21 for men. I tried asking a few questions about settlements and what life in the military is like, but it seemed that the military was the last thing the soldiers wanted to talk about. The conversation soon switched to asking Omer, the soldier who stayed with my roommate Matt and me, how to say "that's what she said" in Hebrew.

It's "Ze Ma She Hi Amra."

There are two things on the trip I'll never forget: going to the Western Wall and being in the Dead Sea. One religious, one fun, but both were once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

I don't consider myself to be religious, but even I, the most secular of all the group members, could feel something when I pressed my hand against the Wall. We went during Shabbat, a day of inactivity in the Jewish religion to honor when God took a day off from creating the universe. It goes from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown, and during the most holy time of the week, we went to the most holy of sites for a Jew. After waiting a few minutes to inch my way up to the Wall, I closed my eyes, put my hand up to it, said a quick something under my breath, and walked back to the group's meeting point, being careful to walk backwards so as not to put my back to the Wall. I looked around and saw hundreds of rabbis and other believers swaying and chanting, and I felt a strange mixture of respect for them believing in something so much and pity because they did believe in something that much. It was my very first religious crisis!

The Dead Sea is fun for only about ten minutes, and then you realize how much it stings. After walking down a mile-long road from the pits where my friends and I slathered ourselves in mud because it's supposedly good for your skin, we got to the beach, and with a Maccabee Beer in hand, I laid on the water as if I was sitting on a therapist's sofa and just floated. Of course, I scraped my hand pretty badly on the jagged, salty floor and accidentally drank the water. But other than that, it was great.

On my flight back to Newark from Tel Aviv, in between reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being and not being able to sleep, I thought about everything that happened over the past 11 days, and was left amazed that I had actually gone to Israel, my "homeland." Whether the trip changed me or not, I have no idea, but I am left knowing that I do have a better understanding of what being Jewish is about and with a desire to go back. And maybe even have another religious crisis, if lucky.