Sunday, January 25, 2009

Know Your 80s Charity Supergroups

The 1980s were a weird time. That is a huge compliment because the 1970s came just before, and they were odd, too. The Eighties were the era of the space shuttle, neon clothing, "Just Say No", MTV, Hands Across America and... caring about Africa by way of recording music. How did this all happen???

Before that time, no Cold War American really cared about the rest of the world, and especially not places like Ethiopia. But social awareness came into being (somehow), and we're all the wiser about the litany of famines and genocides (still going on) today. I would say 99% of that knowledge came from two groups of pop stars that came together and wrote songs specifically for the Dark Continent. But, do you remember which is which?

Band Aid
Song title: "Do They Know It's Christmas?" (aka Feed the World)
People count: 44
Blind persons: 0
Jacksons?: 0
Ghostbusters involved? 0
Artists still alive today: all 44
Music video:

USA for Africa
Song title: "We Are the World"
People count: 45
Blind persons: 2
Ghostbusters involved? Dan Akroyd
Jacksons: 7
Artists still alive today: 42 (RIP Ray Charles and Waylon Jennings... update 2009: Michael Jackson)
Music video:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

New Year's Break

LIFE AS A MUSIC VIDEO is on a brief hiatus (expected to return in Feburary, 2010).

This way I can tackle many of the back-end website things, etc.

Meanwhile... enjoy these music video blogs (I realize they are more boring):

Happy 2010!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Best of the Year 2008: Films

Annually reviews some pop culture and ranks a best in categories like film, music and television. This year is expanded to include critiques. This.... is.... 2008!

I was very disappointed in the Indiana Jones blockbuster this year, and it really rattled my expectations for film franchises. So, here's to some new film ideas with (hopefully) some sense not to churn out sequels. OK, maybe Iron Man can make a spinoff or two. They have my permission.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall
If Superbad was the essential 2000-era comedy about adolescence, this is the one for adulthood. The cast of characters are relative newcomers, but that's what makes watching it great. It's a level playing ground for hilarity, and the guys and girls all have their different takes on the whole "Sarah situation". Unlike the past decade's comedies, Sarah Marshall really commits to the storyline and doesn't just tack it on at the end.

I haven't kept up with all of the new CGI-cartoony children's movies, but this Pixar joint is one for the ages. From the get-go, the tranquility of this film is what sells it. I don't think a word is spoken in the first 30 minutes, and it's just soothing for a kid or an adult who often are punched in the face with cute dialogue. Peter Gabriel also has a song during the ending credits!

Tropic Thunder
I expected this to be funny, and it is exactly met my expectations. RDJ scores another hit in his "sober years streak", and injects some buffoonery to the often-too-dramatic Vietnam War pseudo-era. Ben Stiller is actually funny, too. I wonder if he's apologized about the retard jokes.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
David Fincher has been taking ambitious stabs at portraying a time in history, last time with Zodiac. In this one, he chronicles New Olreans from the Depression to Hurrican Katrina with stunning accuracy, expanding a short-short story into a 3-hour adventure. Ben Button will probably win a score of Oscars--cinematography, art design, makeup. But, there's something un-emotional about this that makes it just a silver medalist.

Iron Man
Yes, I know this is a superhero movie, and Robert Downey is Tony Stark. And I know director Jon Favreau isn't the toast of the town. But seriously it's the gold standard for comic book adaptations, and a slam-dunk for producers with sequel money in their eyesights. Comedy and a surreal attitude are a big deal for comics, and unlike the Dark Knight, this one is neatly packaged for consumption.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Best of the Year 2008: Albums

Annually reviews some pop culture and ranks a best in categories like film, music and television. This year is expanded to include critiques. This.... is.... 2008!

The notion of an "album" is to make something bigger than just a group of songs--"the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts". And although some may think the album is a dead format, it isn't. It's not going to disappear. I can walk over and touch my albums, because they do exist. Hell, vinyl still exists. There's not much more intimate a thing to do than listen to a weird non-single by a band.

MGMT: Oracular Spectacular
"Time to Pretend" is an anthem for all those people who ignore the politics and the tragedy of being American, and instead look to the horizon with a positive vibe. Just watch their music videos if you're depressed. "Kids" reminds me of children's programming from the 70s, where utopian life once existed.

Guns N' Roses: Chinese Democracy
I had to include this for fear of the wrath of Axl. Who knew that a band without Slash, Duff, Izzy and Matt Sorum had legs...

Nine Inch Nails: The Slip
Although a booming intro and a radio-friendly middle give this release a name, the soul of the album really exists in the latter tracks. "Lights in the Sky" and "The Four of Us Are Dying" break new ground for a 20-year career of big beats mixed with piano tinklings. Every Halo that Reznor puts out is worth its weight in gold. Ghosts I-IV is the only real exception to the rule.

***** 2008 BEST ALBUM *****
TV on the Radio: Dear Science,
It's energetic but at the same time soothing to hear while in a bathtub. Every track could be a single on the college radio, and yet they all seem to blend together. I can't really describe the sound of the album.


Thursday, January 1, 2009

Best of the Year 2008: TV Shows

Annually reviews some pop culture and ranks a best in categories like film, music and television. This year is expanded to include critiques. This.... is.... 2008!

When the writers' strike happened in late 2007, the television world held its breath. It was in the middle of filming some of the biggest scripted shows for the next year, and if it didn't get something on camera soon, the big networks were going to all-reality programming (dear god).

I know it's somewhat stupid to pick a "best" in at the end of the year when show seasons end in May, but there is logic to my purpose. Using the end of the year, I can see the end-of-season cliffhanger and also see the conclusion in the premiere. A very effective way to see if a show rebounds.

Destination Truth (Sci Fi)
Anyone who has seen an episode can understand how hilarious it really is. From getting lost in the middle of a lake (yes, really) to being scared of a creepy statue-dog, this show is like one big gift basket of standup material. Oh, and there is a token blond on the team who is afraid of the dark. Studying cryptozoology was never so fun!

Lost (ABC)
If you're not on the Lost locomotive yet, see the second half of season 1 and buckle up. This show is still top-notch. To recap season 4 (only still 90 days on the island): the rescue ship is actually a Kill-Ben-Linus mission, Michael returns as a spy, Locke is in a casket, Sun becomes evil, Sayid becomes an awesome vigilante, the island disappears and Ben wakes up in a desert and throws up.

Superjail (Cartoon Network)
More than a year after the pilot broadcast, the first season of the ultra-violent (and hilariously drawn) sci-fi jail and its inhabitants finally satisfied the Adult Swim masses. Just remember it's a cartoon, and there is no Jailbot destroying all in his path.

***** 2008 BEST SHOW *****
The Office (NBC)
The year 2008 saw late entries from the second half of the Office. But "Dinner Party" was totally worth the wait. So was Jan's pregnancy, Jim pretending to propose to Pam 80 times, Toby's fence jump and the new HR employee Holly Flax (I already miss her!) Later Pam went to art school in NYC, and I seriously thought the show was going to axe the Jim-Pam romance. I know better now (fans would be outraged).


Movies watched in 2020

Here's my annual list. I beat 2019 by about 60 . I stopped tracking TV series, too. The only films I saw in theaters were: Star Wars IX,...