Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Onion A.V. Club's Inventory

How stoked is CSD headquarters? How soon is now?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Easing You Into An Autumn Of Dick

Let's face it, Moby Dick is a thick book, and not everybody has enough free time to read a 650 page allegorical novel, even one that's universally praised. For those of you who would like to participate, but don't have the time to actually read the book, the Moby Dick audio book, narrated by Burt Reynolds(!!!), sounds like not just a perfectly acceptable substitute, but perhaps one of the short-list greatest things ever, alongside the printing press, sliced bread, birth control, and The Wire.

Autumn of Dick kicks off on thursday, October 1st. I'll be posting my thoughts on the first week's reading the following weekend. I hope you all decide to read along!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

U2's 360 Degree Tour

On Thursday night, U2 played the Meadowlands for the 28th time. Signs of age are starting to show - both cosmetic signs, like Adam Clayton's white hair and The Edge's ever-present wool knit cap, and more substantive ones, like Bono's increasing tendency to sign an octave lower rather than stretch to hit the high notes on songs like "With or Without You" and "The City of Blinding Lights." But with those signs of age come marks of experience. U2's playing sounded tighter than I've ever heard it before. The Edge's guitar playing, so innovative and creative in their recordings, was somehow both elegant and powerful in person. The Edge's greatest strength as a guitarist (besides the sonic innovations for which he is so well known) is his ability to blend in with the rest of the band for most of a song, then step up with a dynamic riff without consciously 'soloing,' then seamlessly blend back in with the rest of the band. "Till The End of the World" was a big highlight for him. Larry Mullin Jr.'s powerful, precise, flourish-free drumming was at its understated best.

Bono was Bono. His new look - muscular, leather jacket, buzz cut - was a bit of a shock, and he seems to have adopted an aggressive singing style that occasionally makes it sound as if he's shouting. This style works great for song's from the band's latest album, but he seemed to struggle with the sad, pretty songs - like "With or Without You" that have been highlights of U2's live shows in the past. And he didn't pull a girl on stage from the front row and sing to her, as he often has in the past - is it possible he's too old for that? Somehow, that just didn't seem right. But he's still a magnetic presence, speaking about global politics and African poverty in a way that really ties it into his music, and he led the audience in a few of the most enthusiastic sing-alongs I've ever heard.

It was a great show. Even if you're not the biggest fan of U2, they are one of the bands you've got to see in person before they stop touring. I am an enthusiastic fan of long standing, and if this is the only show of theirs that I ever see, I will feel as if I got my money's worth. I got the full U2 experience.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Best Ad Since "The Most Interesting Man In the World"

Dos Equis' Most Interesting Man In the World campaign is an all-time classic, but for sustained inspiration its difficult to top Old Spice, which has turned out consistently amusing advertisements for the past five years or so. Their new ad is one of their best, with the one-handed golf swing and the guy casually strolling back into the frame at the end providing genuine laugh-out-loud moments.

Proposing: An Autumn Of Dick

The success of Infinite Summer has inspired us - we think that large online book clubs are a great way to help people get through long classic novels you'd otherwise never read. One such book that has been sitting on our shelves, gathering dust for more than a decade, is Herman Melville's Moby Dick. If you've read it, you're probably still, on some level, proud of yourself for having done so. If you are a former liberal arts major and you haven't read it, you probably feel a little bit guilty about it. Be honest.

Thus, we propose an Autumn of Dick. Starting October first and running through the third week of December, we can read this novel together in digestable chunks short enough to a) allow us to read other stuff simultaneously and b) to get ahead, or easily catch up, if we have to skip a week. I will post updates every Sunday, with some thoughts on the book and a space for reader comments.

Below is the schedule. Who's with me?

Week 1: Chapters 1-9 (51 pages)
Week 2: Chapters 10-19 (50 pages)
Week 3: Chapters 20-32 (53 pages)
Week 4: Chapters 33-42 (53 pages)
Week 5: Chapters 43-53 (51 pages)
Week 6: Chapters 54-63 (52 pages)
Week 7: Chapters 64-77 (55 pages)
Week 8: Chapters 77-88 (57 pages)
Week 9: Chapters 89-100 (52 pages)
Week 10: Chapters 101-112 (47 pages)
Week 11: Chapters 113-130 (56 pages)
Week 12: Chapters 131-Epilogue (38 pages)

P.S. I know what you're going to ask, and yes, Jake Taylor can read the classic comics edition. He's in the middle of a pennant race, and he's distracted, what with watching game film and having long philosophical conversations with Willie Mays Hayes and so forth.

Monday, September 21, 2009

It Attracts A Bare Minimum of Window Shoppers

This weekend I made a pilgramage to Chicago's north side to visit Reckless Records, the record store that served as the model for Rob Gordon's Championship Vinyl in High Fidelity. The staff is more or less exactly what would expect it to be ("I hired these guys for three days a week, and they just kept showing up"), the inventory was fantastic, and, fortunately, nobody got their teeth knocked out with a telephone. My friends picked up a used five-disc collection of depression-era American roots music for the attractive sum of $20; I picked up two long-sought out-of-print CDs (The Complete BBC Recordings of Joy Division and the greatest hits of the lovely 80's college radio band The Go Betweens) as well as Jenny Lewis' Rabbit Fur Coat, the sort of beloved mainstream album that rarely shows up on the second-hand market. Really, I can't recommend it enough.

I got out of bed early and made a Monday morning mix tape of highlights from the weekend's haul. Check it out:

Joy Division - The Complete BBC Recordings

Jenny Lewis - Rabbit Fur Coat

The Go Betweens - 1978-1990

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Two of the Many Reasons I Love Football

ADDED (courtesy of an anonymous commenter)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Invention of Lying

Loyal readers, we apologize for the light blogging over these past few weeks - Common Sense Dancing HQ is approximately 24 hours away from having its wi-fi up and running. Until then, check out this trailer for The Invention of Lying. The idea is not terribly original, but this movie's awesome cast (apparently assembled from three of the short-list programs that make owning a television worthwhile) can only result in awesome. CSD favorite Louis C.K. will hopefully break out and become a star in this role, like Zach Galifanikis did in if so, it would be about ten years overdue. What are your thoughts?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thanks, Jessica


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Arcade Fire - "Lenin"

More from the excellent Dark Was The Night compilation. Click on the link in the right-hand column to buy a copy for yourself and support a great cause in the process.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Roger Federer is to Jackie Kennedy as Rafael Nadal is to Marilyn Monroe

Think about it!*

Also, If there is a way for me to possibly sound any gayer, please let me know.^

*I've spent the past week watching Season 2 of Mad Men on DVD, so I've got the early 1960's on the brain. There is enough going on in that show to fill a 200-page monograph, but, in a sentence, I would say that it is a phenomenal season, but not quite up to the unbelievably high standard set by Season 1, primarily because Betty Draper becomes one of the short-list most annoying characters in television history, and there's no other interesting woman in Don Draper's life (like Rachel Mencken from Season 1) to fill the void. But its still great.

^I wrote this on a Park Slope pub's wi-fi while drinking Stella Artois in a Park Slope pub, while watching the U.S. Open on tv while a Band of Horses played in the background. Feel free to call me a Bookworm Hipster Douchebag. A big, gay, bookworm hipster douchebag.

Monday, September 7, 2009

So Far Around The Bend

The Red Hot Organization has been using art and rock music to raise money to fight AIDS for 20 years, and its latest fund-raising compilations, Dark Was The Night, features two discs of great songs by the A-team of indie rock musicians, including CSD favorites Arcade Fire, The National, The New Pornographers, My Morning Jacket, Fiest, David Byrne, and Spoon, among others. I recommend it highly, and proceeds go to just about the best cause there is. You can click on the icon in the right-hand column of this blog to order a copy for yourself, but, in the meantime, enjoy the National's contribution: a great new song entitled "So Far Around the Bend."

The Notorious Park Slope Stroller Brigade

New Yorkers - particularly Manhattanites - love to make the "Stroller Brigade" joke. When they hear that you are moving to Park Slope, or Cobble Hill, or any brownstone neighborhood in which thirty-somethings figure prominently, they will make fun of you for the fact that you will soon be run off of the sidewalk by stay-at-home power moms with double-wide luxury strollers, and have to endure the smug looks of yuppid parents who are under the impression that they own the neighborhood and every single person is intruding on their territory. More than one person told me that I could expect to get run off the sidewalk by "stroller moms" which, in sufficient numbers, form a "stroller brigade." In thirteen months of living here, I am proud to report that there is no more evidence to support the existence of the stroller brigade as there is the Loch Ness monster of Bigfoot.

Yes, Park Slope has a lot of families with young children, but then, this is New York City - almost every neighborhood has a lot of families with young children; its just that Park Slope and Cobble Hill is one of the new neighborhoods that also have a lot of bitchy young people and hipsters who feel as if they are having their style cramped by said families with young children. The single people in Normandy Court and on the Lower East Side don't make these complaints, because families don't want to live in those neighborhoods, and young people in Bay Ridge and Flatbush don't make those complaints, because they're not so self-consciously fashionable as to worry about how the alleged Stroller Brigade is making their neighborhood less cool.

I for one like the fact that Park Slope has a lot of actual families (who live in actual houses, instead of high-rise apartment buildings). If you ask me, they make Park Slope feel like the real world, unlike the "filing cabinets for humans" feeling of certain pockets of Manhattan's Upper East Side, or the Epcot Centerish, playground-for-overpaid-private-school graduates feeling that parts of the Lower East Side and Williamsburg possess. It is a real neighborhood, and, for the most part, I like its vibe.

Having said that, earlier today I set up in a coffee shop with my laptop and my headphones, and I couldn't har myself think because there were three screaming children within a 2-table radius. There's nothing worse than a family with young children coming into a restaurant, having the young child run into something or fall down within the first thirty seconds, then scream in paid for the next half-hour. It just sucks.

But that happens in every neighborhood. What makes the park Slope and Cobble Hill-type neighborhoods in Brooklyn unique is the degree to which the parents indulge their children. Everybody is not just open-minded, but Open-Minded, and these parents, who probably work hard for a living and are eager to finally have a chance to get out of the house, refuse to allow their meal to be interrupted by the fact that their child is screaming bloody murder in a crowded restaurant. Some parents even look at you with a hint of challenge in their eyes, as if to say "go ahead, be the reactionary asshole who gives me a dirty look for having a kid who can't sit still or stay quiet. Everybody else in this restaurant will judge you for it, because they probably have young kids of their own and will be on my side." That part of it drives me to the brink of felony assault.

I lived in four or five cities before moving to Brooklyn (the exact number depends on how you choose to count.) In my experience, little children are the same everywhere, but parents differ widely. Young couples in Buffalo and Madison bring their children to restaurants, too, but if their child starts to scream or act up, they take their child out of the restaurant and go for a walk, or find a bench outside and bounce them on their knee for a few minutes until they calm down. Or, you know, they find a babysitter for a couple of hours. I haven't lived anywhere else where parents bring their young children to restaurants and make you deal with the costs that those children impose, and I feel as if I am justified in finding that part of Brooklyn culture a little bit obnoxious.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Now We Can See

I finally got around to picking up The Thermals' new album, Now We Can See. Review to come. In the meantime, let's enjoy their music video:

Since I jump at any excuse to re-post "Pillar of Salt," (The Thermals' biggest hit off of their previous album, The Body, The Blood, The Machine, and one of the most fun music videos I've seen in years), here we go:

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

One Slow Week For The Blog, One Big Week For Movie Trailers

This has been, and will continue to be, a light blogging week, because I'm moving and don't have internet set up in my new place yet Common Sense Dancing is relocating its headquarters to a baller new pad with marble floors, mahogany paneling, brass fixtures, walk-in humidors, and in-wall shelving to hold our many leather bound books.

So, I won't be writing this week, but a couple of recently-released movie trailers have piqued our interest. and deserve comment:

The Blind Side - the best book I have ever read about football - is being turned into a movie with Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw. Based on the trailer, I would say that it looks good, if a little overly manipulative. Clearly, Warner Brothers has decided to emphasize the familial and racial themes over the football (which doesn't make an appearance until the very end of the trailer.) The story of Michael Oher and the Tuohys is a true one - Oher was drafted in the first round of the 2009 NFL draft - and if they make too many factual errors in the film, critics and football fans will be quick to point them out. Then again, if the movie is marketed to the You've Got Mail set, then the factual erros in the football half of the story won't make much of a difference to the bottom line. When studios make kind-hearted white people the heroes in stories about racial progress, or exaggerate the athletic success of a player in order to make him seem more admirable for dramatic purposes, studios take the easy way out, and, based on the trailer, both appear to be true about The Blind Side. But the book was so good that I am willing to give the movie a chance, even if it prominently features a song by The Fray in its promotional trailers:

The Road - Cormac McCarthy fans may debate whether The Road is the author's best novel, but there can be little doubt that it is one of the most significant novels of the past 30 years, and the cinematic adaptation appears to be equally ambitious. From the top down, the casting appears to be brilliant, and the cinematography elegant and depressing, which is the way that it should be. This film was originally scheduled to be released last winter, in time to qualify for the 2008 Oscars, and such long delays in post-production almost never bode well, but it has too much going for it - pedigree, cast, budget, Oprah - to fail completely. Right? Worst case scenario, it is one of those botched literary adaptations (like The Bonfire of the Vanities) that people debate and discuss for years.

Brooklyn - An NYU film student has remade Woody Allen's Manhattan - long a CSD favorite - as Brooklyn. The concept is perhaps a little too cute for its own good, but, once again, the source material is fantastic, and the imitation of Gordon Willis' cinematography is uncanny. Willis was one of the all-time greats (The Godfather trilogy, all of Woody Allen's classics from Annie Hall to The Purple Rose of Cairo, All the President's Men, The Paper Chase), so, in this case, the film's derivitive nature is no drawback. Odds are, nobody west of the Hudson will care, but I am fascinated.