Friday, April 30, 2010

What's Your Favorite Song For a Friday Afternoon?

For your consideration: The Hold Steady: "Two-Handed Handshake"

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Under the Great White Northern Lights

The White Stripes' Under the Great White Northern Lights is a live album, recorded during an extended tour of Canada. This tour has already developed mythological qualities in rock circles - how the White Stripes travelled by bus and propeller plane, how they plays concerts at bars, bowling alleys, and retirement homes, how they played small towns in every province, and had a free, one-note show in St. Johns, Newfoundland, that left the audience chanting "One more note! One more note!" They played towns a series of small towns like Yellow Knife (its in the Northwest Territories) where basically every person under age 40 showed up to see them. Yes, it was performance art, and yes, they were self-consciously manipulating their own image, but whe those pretenses are backed up by musicianship this strong, all of that can be forgiven.

The White Stripes excel at using the studio to make two musicians sound like an entire band. Other than one song that has an accordian part, every note on this album was played by just two people, Jack and Meg White. They're not perfect - they rush through some songs and miss notes occasionally, but they make a lot of glorious noise come out of their two instruments. The songs don't sound perfect, nor do they sound like their album versions, sandwiched between ovations. A lot of these songs are far superior to the album versions, particularly "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself" and "Blue Orchid," which has never sounded better. And they mix in enough covers and deep cuts to keep you guessing. Its a great recording, made all the better by the crowd noise, always up in the mix, which makes you feel as if you are right there in the room with them. The crowd on this album is more than just vague background noise - you hear them stomp their feet, clap along with "Seven Nation Army's" famous into, and hear individual members of the audience shouting out.

Sometimes, Jack White's enthusiasm gets the best of him, with self-indulgently fretty outros, random shouting, and a sort of agitated speaking-as-singing that doesn't quite work. It may fail to sound pretty from time to time, but it never fails to sound like a concert - a sweaty mess of a small-venue concert. The effect is electic. Mid-way through "Seven Nation Army," Jack White sings "I'm gonna blow your mind/make the sweat drip out of every pore." By the end of this album, you'll believe him.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Too Weird To Be Funny?

I really like Stephen Colbert. He's hilarious, and the targets of his satire are always deserving. He and Jon Stewart are two of my favorite people on television, but, together, they were my favorite team on television. I miss This Week in God, and Colbert's running "senior _____ correspondent" joke.

Comedians, almost to a man, prefer Colbert to Stewart. Colbert's background is in improv; Stewart's is in stand-up, which isn't considered to be as hip or as edgy by the comedy cool kids; indeed, many of today's most popular stand-ups, such as David Cross, became popular stand-ups only after getting famous by doing improv and sketch comedy, instead of working their way up through the stand-up comedy ranks as previous generations of stand-ups had done. Colbert's absurdist sensibilities, which sometimes comes close to being meta-comedy, can lead him to some annoying self-indulgent places, as was the case with this bit last night.

Did anybody laugh after the bad pun (other than an uncomfortable chuckle?) I know what Colbert was trying to do - we all get it - but the bit had reached Monty Python and the Holy Grail-levels of "get on with it!"-ness well before the guys came out with the sedan chair. Just a lot of weirdness all around.

NPR Will Put Music In Your Ears

NPR Music has been on fire lately, with a free downloadable concert from Hot Chip and The XX and steaming audio of Together, the new album from The New Pornographers.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Winter's Tale - The End of the Novel

What's the opposite of a surprise ending? Calling the ending of Winter's Tale 'predictable' would not do it justice, but after a couple of hundred pages of foreshadowing and manuevering all of the characters into place, the ending seemed . . . inevitable.

A couple of people reading along with the novel have fallen a week or two behind, so I don't want to include too many spoilers in this week's post. Instead, I'll take the "scattered thoughts" approach. Even so, you should be warned that spoilers follow.
-Jackson Mead's bridge, which finally appears on December 31, 1999, is a made of pure light. Perhaps I missed the point, but until fairly recently I assumed that the "bridge of pure light" was a metaphor. I didn't expect him to actually build a bridge of pure light, beginning at the Battery and stretching into heaven. What does it symbolize, and what are we to make of the fact that it falls apart?

-The burning of New York was an exciting chapter, and was particularly bracing, coming as it did after so many chapters of lighthearted whimsy. Other than Printing House square and City Hall, which portions of the city survived, and what conclusions are we to draw from seeing what burned, and what was saved?

-The final encounter with Pearly Soames unfolded differently than I expected it to; we saw Althansor lose his power at the end of the novel, but Peter Lake had become so powerful and magical, and Soames so much of a laughingstock, that their fight in the church came as a shock. Thoughts?

-One of the most interesting topics in the book was its use of metaphors that turn out to be far more literal than expected. Sometimes, this relates to the geography of Helprin's New York, for instance the Isle of the Dead, the Bridge of Pure Light, and even the village in upstate New York so remote that nobody can find it unless they've been there already as someone's guest. What do you make of Helprin's blurring of the line between reality and fantasy?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Weekend Links

The New York Times Book Review discusses The Heights, the Brooklyn-centric new novel by the author of What's Eating Gilbert Grape.

"Manhatta," by Yoni Brenner, is one of the funnier things The New Yorker has run in a long time.

Also in The New Yorker, Ken Auletta discusses whether the iPad can save the book business.

The Yaliens Among Us - The New York Observer's culture section profiles Yale's New York City alumni and how they relate to one another.

The AV Club's running "Gateways to Geekery" feature has an interesting primer on the work of the cult British post-punk band The Fall.

Our trip to The Thermals' concert at Brooklyn Bowl on Wednesday inspired me to dig this old 'Random Rules' with Kathy Foster up out of the AV Club's archives.

And, finally, just because they're awesome:
The Thermals, covering Nirvana's "Sappy" and Green Day's "Basket Case"

Saturday, April 24, 2010

High Violet

The National is one of our favorite bands, and their new album, High Violent, is being streamed by The New York Times as part of a lengthy feature about the band in the NY Times Magazine.

I've listened to High Violet about ten times now, and I really like it. It sounds like a mix of their two previous albums, the introspective, intense Boxer and the moody, rockin-out Alligator. The songs are strong - at first listen, "Terrible Love," "Runaway," and "Lemonworld" seem like the big stand-outs. If I have one complaint, it is that a few of the songs have studio effects - mainly reverb - that sounds strange if you are familiar with their previous albums, or with their live shows. When they played Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last month, their performance of "Terrible Love" was one of the best-sounding songs I've ever seen on late-night television. Hearing the more studioed-up album cut is a bit jarring. But this album's definitely a keeper - keep your eyes open for it when it hits stores on May 11th.

The National - "Terrible Love"

Friday, April 23, 2010

Brooklyn Bowl/The Thermals

The special lady friend and I went to Brooklyn Bowl on Wednesday night to see The Thermals' concert. We were skeptical at first - the idea of a concert venue/bowling alley situated at the corner of Wythe and N. 11th Streets in Williamsburg sounded too much like Ground Zero of the Hipster Apocalypse. But we were wrong to pre-judge; the space is really cool (refashioned out of an old factory, its all dark wood, heavy stone, and LEED lighting), every song played over the stereo could be found in our iPods, the restaurant serves gourmet comfort food from Blue Ribbon, including macaroni & cheese, brisket, and BBQ beef sandwiches, and there are big screen televisions everywhere, broadcasting live sporting events. The concert space is much bigger than I expected (standing room for about 1,500 people) and, best of all, they refuse to over-sell tickets, so that even sold-out shows leave the audience with elbow/dancing room. It is a very cool place.

The Thermals were at the top of their game - sweaty and shouty and fun, with lots of sing-a-longs and a couple of bitchin' bass guitar solos from swoony CSD-crush Kathy Foster. They played six or seven new songs, from an album that is apparently supposed to be released this fall. All of them sounded good, even if they didn't leave them with enough time to play the Nirvana, Green Day, and Breeders covers for which they have become so well known. Still, it was a great show.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Get Out Your Lighters

Blogmigo, Wormbook author, and all-around cool-kid Ellen Wernecke saw CSD-favorite band The Hold Steady at the Bowery Ballroom the other night, and (apparently) it was awesome. I believe her, because there's video evidence:

We're looking forward to their new album, which is due to come out next month. Until then, videos like this, and their previous album, Stay Positive, will have to hold us over. We've been listening to Stay Positive quite a bit lately, in particular the song "Lord, I'm Discouraged," which features a guitar solo that sounds like something that Slash would have played, if he was a member of Journey and the year was 1983. If that sounds like the very definition of "awesome" to you, well, you are not alone.

What's Your Favorite Neighborhood?

New York Magazine's feature on the 50 Most Livable neighborhoods in New York City has a lot of people talking. In particular, the magazine's ranking of seven brownstone Brooklyn neighborhoods in the top ten has given Brooklynites a lot to brag about, and has inflamed Manhattanites (among others) who thing that Brooklyn gentrifiers just go around smelling their own farts and complimenting each other on how awesome their neighborhoods are.

The reason the rankings turned out as they did is because of the way that the rankings emphasize a neighborhood's cost. Brownstone Brooklyn neighborhoods would strike most people as relatively expensive, but a $2,300 2-bedroom apartment in Park slope or Cobble Hill is still $1,000 a month or more cheaper than a similar apartment in the Village, or on the Upper East or Upper West sides. People who live in Manhattan come to take those prices, but a $3,500 or $4,000/mo 2-bedroom strikes most people as startlingly expensive. Brownstone Brooklyn neighborhoods are more expensive than Queens, Staten Island, or outer Brooklyn, but they're still cheaper than any neighborhood south of 125th Street in Manhattan, and though they may have slightly less shopping and nightlife than the neighborhoods in Manhattan, they have more than Queens and Staten Island. The question really boils down to what you consider to be the ideal neighborhood, and New York Magazine answered it, somewhat predictably, with the non-controversial "happy medium."

The article got me thinking - where would you live if you won the lottery, and could afford to live anywhere? (The question is not limited to New York)

Follow-up question - where would you live, assuming you do not win the lottery, but merely become very successful in your chosen career path?

For instance, if I won the lottery and could live anywhere, I would live on Columbia Heights, but since I don't plan on ever actually being able to afford a $15 million riverfront home, a more realistic goal, if things go right, is to live in a Brownstone between Seventh Avenue and Prospect Park West, between Lincoln and Garfield, or on South Elliot, South Portland, or South Oxford Streets, between Fort Greene Park and Fulton Street.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Winter's Tale - "For the Soldiers and Sailors of Chelsea" through "The City Alight"

Let me begin by saying that I am going to write less about this and next week's reading, because we are nearing the end of the book, and I want to read more for enjoyment instead of taking notes. Feel free to provide your own analysis in the comments.

We are nearing the conclusion of Winter's Tale, and, with every chapter, more of the novel's numerous distinct plot strands are being woven together. Earlier in the novel, I wrote that I could tell that some of what I was reading in the novel's first 100 pages or so was foreshadowing, but the novel's tone was so whimsical that it was difficult to tell what was foreshadowing and what was mere quirk/tone-setting. Now, some of that is becoming clear.

For me, the highlight was when Hardesty and Peter Lake meet in the ceiling of Grand Central station, and recognize each other from Pepitas (though, at the same time, you wonder what took them so long, followed closely by the trip up to the Lake of the Cooheries, with the ancient Harry Penn navigating the sleigh by memory so precisely ("a degree right") and taking Praeger through his family's old house, which has laid silent for decades.

What did you like the most about this week's reading?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Weekend Links

This may be the best Onion article in a very long time.

NPR's story about the poor rate of census returns in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood has inspired responses from The New York Times, Mayor Bloomberg, and, best of all, Stephen Colbert, who, in the process, may have created about three new in-jokes around CSD headquarters. The entire episode can be seen here.

The AV Club taste-tests Whipahol Whipped Lightning, an alcoholic foam, and gives it rave reviews. My favorite line: "I imagine this is what alcoholics think clouds taste like." Also in AV Club taste tests: The "McGangBang" (McChicken Sandwich inside of a double cheeseburger) and the McMorningWood (Egg McMuffin inside of a McDouble cheeseburger).

Twenty Things Worth Knowing About Beer, by web comics geniuses The Oatmeal.

"Prefiguration of Lalo Cura," a short story by the great Roberto Bolano, appears in the latest issue of The New Yorker.

In baseball: Oakland A's catcher Kurt Suzuki >makes one of the more athletic defensive plays you'll ever seen out of a catcher. Arizona shortstop Stephen >Drew's "throw fail" is already becoming the reference point for poor throws from the shortstop position.

And, finally, just because its awesome (and because I just got around to picking up a copy of the CD):

Thursday, April 15, 2010

my kin love to name-check david brooks

David brooks at it again. trying to spin a narrative about duke and butler into something about how hardworking rich people are. clumsy--yes. stupid--you bet. let's go to the tape...

David Brooks: Here’s the trickiest case of all. Before 1995, mothers spent on average 12 hours a week with their children. By 2007, that number had leapt to 21.2 for college-educated moms and 15.9 hours for those with less education. Paternal time leapt from 4.5 hours to 9.6 hours, among the college-educated and from 3.7 to 6.8 among the less educated.

I was fascinated by how parental time correlates to education. Is it possible that college-educated parents are spending more time passing down their advantages than other parents? Could it be that the rich replicate themselves by dint of hard work and parental attention, on top of all the other less worthy advantages?

Uncomfortable questions.

No. no. no. not uncomfortable questions. obvious questions. paid work is not the only kind of work. if you have a better job, you can afford to live closer to food/shops/transit, you can afford a shorter commute (by car not 3 buses), you can afford to own a dishwasher or in unit laundry, you can afford to pay someone to clean your house/mow your lawn/fix your sink, you can afford to buy prepared food. you can afford not to participate in an unrecorded barter economy of favors. that extra time is freed up by more money. it is embarrassing to suggest otherwise. the uncomfortable question is not whether the rich are more darwinianly fit than the poor (hello eugenics!) but whether the structural disadvantages of the poor are being adequately addressed, you moron.

That is One Crazy Circus

During a coffee break at the office yesterday, a couple of my friends and I got into a discussion of our favorite rock and roll documentaries. (For the record, mine is the Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense). One of my colleagues suggested The Rolling Stones' Rock and Roll Circus, which I have still never seen in its entirety, but which features perfomances from most of the great British invasion rock bands and is highlighted by the single coolest version of "Sympathy For the Devil" that has ever been recorded. If you don't want to watch this video three times and learn the little "bongo dance" that Mick does in the last two minutes, then I don't know what to tell you.

Rolling Stones - Sympathy For The Devil (Rock & Roll Circus)

Guillaume | MySpace Video

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

This Is The Only Photo of Jakob Dylan That We Will Ever Post

Jakob Dylan has just released a new album, Women and Country, with Neko Case and her right-hand woman Kelly Hogan in the "Watson Twins" role.

Neko Case is one of Common Sense Dancing's favorite singers, but I've never enjoyed Jakob Dylan's music, because he sucks and has been getting by on his father's name for the past fifteen years. His new album is being sold at Starbucks. Its amazing that singers as accomplished as Case and Hogan would agree to sing back-up for a singer like Dylan; Dylan should be flattered if a singer like Case called him and asked him to provide back-up vocals for her.

Anyway, all of this has gotten me thinking. - how great of a singer would someone have to be in order to make you buy an album of their duets with Jakob Dylan? If John Lennon came back from the dead and made an album with Jakob Dylan, would I buy it? I'm imagining a scene like Book 3 of Inglorious Basterds, where you write a singer's name on a card, stick it onto your forehead, and people start saying names until you guess right.

-Elvis Presley . . . Johnny Cash . . . Django Reinhardt . . .
-Jakob Dylan?
-Correct! How'd you guess?

Related question: how bad does somebody have to be to make me not want to buy an album of their duets with Neko Case? (This question isn't as much fun to ask, because the answer is invariably "Jakob Dylan.")

Monday, April 12, 2010

Winter's Tale - Scattered Thoughts on Battery Bridge, White Horse/Dark Horse, and The White Dog of Afghanistan

-After setting the stage for 200 pages, Winter's Tale began to "pay off" this week, with some major, game-changing plot twists (I won't spoil them here), the first action scenes since Book 1, and some great Wes Andersonish jokes - Praeger's decision to give a mid-winter campaign speech at the Cloisters at dawn, for example, or the scene in which Peter Lake tries to tell Praeger that he's different, meaning he's from the past, but everybody assumes that by 'different,' Lake really means that he's gay.

-Peter Lake becomes a main character again, instead of just the oddity he was in last week's reading. I'm struggling to figure out what Helprin is doing with him - he's clearly not yet at home in the 21st century, but he doesn't seem to be a creature of teh 19th century in any appreciably way - he's out of place in today's world, but he doesn't seem to really belong to the whimsical Cooheries world, either.

-Is anybody else surprised that Peter hasn't encountered Anthasor yet, though perhaps Helprin is saving that for closer to the end of the novel.

-I was a little suprised to see the Short Tails become important again, after so many pages in the wilderness. It was clever how, at first, the reader assumes that 'Short Tails' was just a name that gang happened to choose, but, as the novel goes on, you come to realize that they actually are very short people . . . with tails. Basically, they're the Morlocks of Winter's Tale. The weird battle scene that occurs outside of the Lake of the Cooheries, with little warning - what to make of that? How many Short Tails are there? And why are they so interested in Anthasor if he is clearly not taking them to Peter Lake?

-The construction of the magical bridge, so many decades after that builder was thought to have vanished, is a clever way to tie up (what I think I can be forgiven for assuming was) a loose end. The bridge's purpose hasn't really been made clear yet - does anybody have any guesses as to what it might be?

Take Me, Tina Fey! The Brownie Husband Only Wants You For Your Body!

Oh Tina Fey, as long as I have breath in my body you will never need to resort to a brownie husband. But, um, this skit was pretty funny nonetheless.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Weekend Links

Here's what the CSD team has been reading and watching this week.

My favorite AV Club feature is "Q & A," where the writers take turns answering a question about pop culture. This week's question, "ere is a special place in hell reserved for the sort of snob who says things like "Which pieces of pop culture would you have fonder memories of had they just wrapped up after a certain number of seasons/sequels/albums?" produced some great answers from the AV Club writers, and some of the most annoying comment threads I've ever seen in my life. R.E.M. has been going downhill since Green? U2 never made a good album after The Unforgettable Fire? Really?

Noel Murray's discussion of Heat Vision and Jack, a never-aired late-90's parody of a Knight Rider-type action show in which Jack Black played a former astronaut who flew too close to the sun, gained the power of super-intelligence, and fights crime with the help of a robot motorcycle that is animated by the soul of Jack Black's unemployed roommate (voiced by Owen Wilson) is fantastic - who knew that such a pilot ever existed, and who are the executives who decided against airing the pilot?

I don't typically read Gawker, but its post on the Ice-T/Aimee Mann twitter fight is awesome.

The great Roger Angell isn't writing his spring training columns anymore, but this profile of Jason Heyward and Stephen Strasburg in The New Yorker was worthwhile, anyway.

In The New Yorker, Nancy Franklin reviews David Simon's new show, Treme.

The Onion Sports Network's coverage of Donovan McNabb's trade to the Washington Redskins was brilliant.

And finally, just because its awesome: Evander Kane goes Evander Holyfield on Pittsburgh Penguins' cheap shot artist Matt Cooke.

Evening's Empire

For something so integral to our culture, rock and roll music has inspired relative few significant works of art. Literary heavyweights Don DeLillo and Salman Rushdie have written great rock novels that haven’t found significant audiences, and Rob Reiner’s This Is Spinal Tap and Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous are critically adored movies that have not moves beyond the status of ‘cult classics.’ Long time Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair writer Bill Flanagan’s new novel Evening’s Empire is the latest attempt at creating literature out of rock and roll mythology.

Jack Flynn is a junior associate at a conservative, white-shoe London firm who takes the Ravons, a second-tier blues-rock band in swinging mid-60’s London, on as a client at the request of his firm’s senior partners, who know nothing about rock music but who want to stay in the good graces of an elderly theater impresario whose son manages them. Flynn’s legal training and savvy business instinct soon win over Emerson Cutler, the band’s heartthrob of a lead singer, and before long, the band ends up firing their manager and replacing them with Flynn. Its a predictable, but effective device - as the band’s manager, Flynn can be in on every conversation, can comment on the band as a somewhat neutral observer, and can have off-the-record conversations with individual members outside of the others’ earshot.

Flanagan has an insider’s knowledge of rock music, gathered during a career of covering bands on the road, but at times, the narrative seems structured so as to allow Flanagan an opportunity to show it off. The band goes on tour to America, becomes more successful, moves to a farm in the north of England to get back to nature, before moving to southern California in the 1970’s, New York during the CBGB era, and gets rejuvenated by MTV before ending up in rehab in the late 1980s. Would it surprise you to know that, following the success of Graceland, Emerson takes Jack to Africa to reconnect to the roots of blues music, and that the band, in the wake of a well-received reunion at Live 8, embarks on a lucrative farewell tour, before getting out of music because today‘s performers have no soul? Of course not. Just about every major ‘scene’ in the past forty-five years of rock mythology is covered, and though it may be difficult to believe that a single band’s career could span so much geographic and stylistic ground, Flanagan leavens his narrative with enough wit and telling detail to reward the suspension of our disbelief.

This, however, is also the novel's biggest failing. Though a couple of the supporting characters are memorable, the main characters, particularly Jack and Emerson, move from trend to trend so much that they never really seem to develop distinct personalities. It seems odd that any one musician would have quite as many different experiences as Emerson; furthermore, it would be rare indeed for somebody to be able to change their musical styles so often without losing their fan base.

About a week ago, I described this novel to a friend by saying that it reads like a British Almost Famous. I meant it to be merely descriptive, but, the more I think about it, the more that sounds like a recommendation. Let it be. Evening’s Empire is a solid beach or airport novel for rock fans - well written and insightful without being particularly demanding.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Word Sick

Broken Social Scene is already performing songs from their as-yet-unreleased album at their live shows, which is pretty awesome. "Word Sick" is likely going to be their first single, which makes sense, because its awesome.

Scattered thoughts:

-That bass guitar is big and phallic enough to make Derek Smalls jealous.

-At the start of the video, Broken Social Scene thanks their opening act, The Apostles of Hustle. In March of 2005 I saw The Apostles of Hustle open for The Stars at The Catacombs in Madison, Wisconsin, and they were great - my friends and I kept waiting for their break-out album, which never really happened, but its good to see that they're still out there making music.

-Broken Social Scene has always been a collective, with two or three core members and a group of rotating sidemen and contributors. The core guys sound great (as always), but I hope they find a way to keep their trio of lovely and talented contributors, Leslie Feist, Emily Haines and Amy Millan, involved with the band as they continue to find success in their primary careers.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Stay Away From Open Windows . . .

"Idiot Heart" is stuck in my head, in that way where I just know it won't go away until I've listened to it a couple of dozen times to clear my brain. If you're going to get a song stuck in your head, it might as well be a song as good as this one:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Stay Positive

"Hurricane J," the first single off of The Holy Steady's new album, Heaven is Whenever, has been released (I hesitate to use the word 'leaked,' because its official) to Pitchfork. Its really good.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Scattered Thoughts on The Day in Sports

Kyle Singler may the player that Bill Simmons and the Charlotte Bobcats thought Adam Morrison was going to be? He doesn't have a natural position at the NBA level, but he's tough, a good passer, and as good of a shooter as 6'8" guys get at the college level. He's not a great athlete by NBA standards, but nor is he a bad one, and his defensive awareness makes up for a lot of it. Is he a better Matt Harpring?

Other than Singler, is anybody else from tonight's game a future pro? I say no.

Butler's coach looks to me like a white Barack Obama. Am I the only person who notices this?

Atlanta Braves outfielder Jason Heyward is probably the most-hyped outfield prospect since Ken Griffey Jr., and he hit a homerun in his first Major League game. He is twenty years olds, 6'5" and 220 pouunds. He'll certainly stumble a couple of times before the sesason is through, but he is already famous for denting car roofs with the balls he hit out of minor league ballparks, and he'll be fun to watch as he develops into a star in the big leagues.

Is anybody out there excited for another season of four-hour 9-7 games between the Yankees and the Red Sox? Me neither.

Great job, Tim and Eric!!!

If I could have one superpower, it wouldn't be flight, or super strength; it would be the power to shout "explosion!!!" and make something in the room explode (provided, of course, that it wouldn't injure me or any of my friends).

Old Spice has been on a roll lately. I generally don't like to see my favorite actors and directors make commercials, because that's a slippery slope to nowhere, but I am more than willing to give them the benefit of the doubt as long as the results remain this original and witty. I hope there are many more where this came from:

No Winter's Tale update tonight

No CSD bookclub update tonight, for birthday-and-NCAA tournament-related reasons. Tune in this time next week!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Weekend Links

The past two weeks have been really busy; we haven't posted very much. Hopefully, we'll get things back on track this week. Here's a big dose of links to (hopefully) make up for lost time.

The AV Club's Nathan Rabin discusses Quentin Tarantino's Grindhouse in the latest installment of My Year of Flops. Grindhouse is one of my favorite movies of recent years - my original review of it is a little gushing in retrospect, but I'm glad to see that, despite its lack of commercial success, it has held up well over time.

The New Yorker's Susan Orlean has started a blog, Free Range. Add it to your favorites - its really good.

The NCAA Tournament is almost over, but its never too late to enjoy a Gus Johnson soundboard.

Jakob Dylan(!!!)'s new album, Women + Country, comes on out Tuesday, and he appeared on NPR last week with Kelly Hogan and my future wife Neko Case to sing a few songs off of his new album. Even though Neko looks disheveled and half asleep, she still sounds like Neko, and that's good enough for us.

Not new, but new to us - Blender Magazine's 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born.

The National - "Anyone's Ghost"