Saturday, September 11, 2010

VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of All Time

Well, VH1 did another one of their useless "of all time" lists, which just means stuff for me to comment on.

100 Alicia Keys
I hate Alicia Keys' music. I've never liked it; it sounds like it's out of a Fake Soul Music kit that someone bought at a drugstore or something. I also wish they'd just ban her music outright on American Idol; I'm sick of hearing white girls try to sing "Fallin'" like it's some kind of soul classic.

Seriously, you have 100 artists to fit on here, and you're wasting time with Alicia Keys?


99 Hall & Oates
I don't know if they'd be on my own list, but I like Hall & Oates. They were big when I was a kid, of course, but I kind of dismissed them (like a lot of artists from the 80s) as I got older. When I used to drive for a living, back in 97-2000, a lot of radio stations started playing an hour of 80s music at lunch as the inevitable nostalgia set in, and one day I heard "Kiss On My List," nice and loud, and was a little bit blown away. Since then, I've come to really appreciate Hall & Oates in a way I didn't as a kid.

FAVORITE SONG: "Kiss On My List," "I Can't Go for That," "You Make My Dreams," "Rich Girl," etc.

98 Depeche Mode
I'm not a big fan of Depeche Mode, though Becca certainly is. (She's still got Depeche Mode on vinyl.) She's hipped me to some of their early stuff, and I've been enjoying an amount that surprises me. Frankly, I got sick of them back when I was in high school and seemingly every track from Violator was a single and got played to death on Q101.

FAVORITE SONG: "Enjoy the Silence" is the only one I really, really love.

97 Pretenders
I haven't ever gotten much into the Pretenders. For a while, it seemed like those 80s music lunchtime programs played "Brass in Pocket" every single day, and it's a decent song, but every day? I find I like their earliest music, but I haven't really delved into the catalog to try and rediscover their music. Maybe at some point. They always seemed like a gentler Blondie to me.

FAVORITE SONG: "Stop Your Sobbing"

96 Journey
They're okay. I like just about enough songs of theirs to fill one side of an LP. My Dad used to have their Greatest Hits cassette and play it a bunch in the car. (Jeez, I'm old enough to remember when a tape deck in a car was an unusual luxury.) I think their placement on this list has a lot to do with the popularity of Glee.

FAVORITE SONG: "Anyway You Want It"

95 OutKast
They probably wouldn't be on my list, but I dig OutKast. I have a few of their albums. Are they still even together, or what? I thought the Idlewild soundtrack was great, and then they just sort of fell off the face of the earth.

FAVORITE SONG: "Hey Ya," but "The Whole World" is the first song of theirs I really couldn't get enough of.

94 Mariah Carey
I think she's hot. Her music is something I don't care much for. I can't fathom how she's sold so many records, to be honest. I guess it's just something that flies over my head.

FAVORITE SONG: "Heartbreaker" is the only one I can remember, but I like that one. They all sort of blend together for me. That said, I do like her music videos, but not because of the music...

93 Pearl Jam
Pearl Jam sucks.

FAVORITE SONG: Yeah, right.

92 LL Cool J
I've always felt he was overrated. He gets credited a bit with mainstreaming rap music; I'm not sure if that's accurate, but I do remember when he did an episode of Unplugged and it was a really big deal to have a rapper on the show. None of that is to say that I don't like LL Cool J, because I do. Not a giant fan, but I like a number of his tracks.

FAVORITE SONG: "Mama Said Knock You Out" really is fantastic. I heard it the other day for the first time in years, and it's great.

91 Green Day
Green Day is as overrated now as U2 was in the early and mid 90s. I think they've been looking for a way to sell out for a long time (their treacly ballad "Good Riddance" was a start, America loving treacly ballads as they do), and finally hit the jackpot when American Idiot gave them something every band longs for: a way to sell out by selling a product that pretends it's not a product and not for sale.

FAVORITE SONG: "Basket Case" and "American Idiot" are pretty much the only ones I like.

90 Elvis Costello
I love Elvis Costello, but up to a point--that point is about 1987, with occasional good songs here and there. I do think he belongs on this list.

FAVORITE SONG: "Accidents Will Happen," "New Amsterdam," "Oliver's Army," "Alison," "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding," "Everyday I Write the Book," many others...

89 Beastie Boys
They're okay. I've never been a big fan, but I like some of their stuff.


88 Bee Gees
I like the Bee Gees, as much as my Dad makes fun of me for it. I dig disco music. I also love their arty stuff from the decade before the disco kicked in. The Bee Gees are awesome.

FAVORITE SONG: "More Than a Woman," "Nights on Broadway," "To Love Somebody," many, many others.

87 George Michael
Again, not on my list, but I like George Michael. Faith was huge when I was 10 or 11.

FAVORITE SONG: "Father Figure," "Faith," "Freedom '90"

86 N.W.A.
I've only ever heard a couple of NWA tracks. I understand their place in music history, but I can't tell you if I like their music or not.

FAVORITE SONG: "Gangsta Gangsta"

85 The Band
I love the Band. I have nothing else to say.

FAVORITE SONG: "The Weight," "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," "I Shall Be Released," etc.

84 Curtis Mayfield
You know, I've barely ever heard any Curtis Mayfield music. I really need to remedy that and take a look at his stuff, because the few songs I have heard are brilliant.

FAVORITE SONG: "People Get Ready," "It's All Right"

83 Earth, Wind and Fire
They're fun. They wouldn't make my list, probably, but they're fun.

FAVORITE SONG: "Shining Star," "September"

82 Steely Dan

FAVORITE SONG: "Reelin' in the Years" is okay, I guess.

If it weren't for Mamma Mia!, I wonder if they'd be on here... Not that I don't like ABBA, because I actually love ABBA, but still, have to wonder...

FAVORITE SONG: "Take a Chance on Me," "Thank You for the Music," "Waterloo," "SOS," "Fernando"... there's a lot of them.

80 Mary J. Blige
I don't like her music. I also don't like how full of herself she is. There's this Bono-like pretension there that just puts me off.


79 Eminem
Meh. Without Dr. Dre, I don't think he'd amount to much. Plus, he's kind of whiny.

FAVORITE SONGS: "Without Me" is the only one I like, even though he's such a bitch in it. Yeah, Marshall, Obie Trice is amazing, clearly. I also like the video for "My Band" by D12. It just made me laugh. Those dudes were funny.

78 Judas Priest
Up to a point, and then not past a certain point. They had their moment where they were very good, but it didn't last as long as people say it did.

FAVORITE SONG: "Diamonds and Rust"

77 Lynyrd Skynyrd
Meh. The other day we caught "Sweet Home Alabama" on the radio, and it was the first time in two decades I could hear that song without wanting to punch the stereo.


76 Run-D.M.C.
I like Run-DMC. They were the shit when I was a kid and rap hit the suburbs.

FAVORITE SONG: "Walk This Way," "It's Tricky"

75 Rush
I like Rush quite a bit; I didn't really get into them until the past decade or so, since I only really remembered hearing "Tom Sawyer" on the radio all the time when I was a kid. I don't remember if I ever heard anything else.

FAVORITE SONG: "Limelight," "The Spirit of the Radio"

74 The Cure
I've always liked the Cure. After about 1992, I don't have much use for them, but until then, it's all great.

FAVORITE SONG: "Close to Me," "Friday I'm in Love," "Just Like Heaven," "The Lovecats," and many others

73 Van Morrison
He probably wouldn't be on my list, but I like more of his music than I think I do. Becca's a big fan.

FAVORITE SONG: "Wild Night," "The Bright Side of the Road," "Moondance"

72 Janis Joplin
It's easy to like Janis Joplin; she was brilliant and she didn't live long enough to do shitty music for movies or anything. I like her, but for that reason she might not be on a list of my own.

FAVORITE SONG: "Piece of My Heart"

71 R.E.M.
Overrated, but at least not quite at the level they were 15 years ago. They were an alright band until "Everybody Hurts" infected the world with Michael Stipe's pretentious bullshit. But I could probably devote half a disc to the songs I like.

FAVORITE SONG: "It's the End of the World as We Know It," "Orange Crush," "Man in the Moon," "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite"

70 Def Leppard
This resurgence of interest in Def Leppard over the years has been pretty irritating. So-so, low-tier hair band with one giant hit, now suddenly remembered as one of the greatest bands of all time. They weren't. They had some rockin' moments, but please, some perspective.

FAVORITE SONG: "Rock of Ages," "Photograph"

69 Tupac Shakur
Not a fan.


68 Otis Redding
Gigantic fan.

FAVORITE SONG: "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay," "Try a Little Tenderness"

67 Coldplay
Seriously? Another band with U2 levels of self-importance and an inexplicable popularity. A bunch of wankers who once wrote a decent tune.


66 Justin Timberlake
This seems pretty high. I mean, Timberlake is actually better than you think he'd be, but is he really better than Otis Redding?

FAVORITE SONG: "Cry Me a River"

65 The Doors
Overrated, but I don't hate them as much as I used to.

FAVORITE SONG: "Light My Fire"

64 Talking Heads
Fantastic. I love the Talking Heads.

FAVORITE SONG: "Nothing But Flowers," "Psycho Killer," "This Must Be the Place," "Road to Nowhere," "Wild Wild Life"

63 Notorious B.I.G.
Really, it's just not my kind of music.


62 Genesis
I'm surprised to see this much love for Genesis, to be honest. Pleasantly surprised, though, as they are one of my favorite bands of all time.

FAVORITE SONG: "Carpet Crawlers," pretty much the entirety of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, Selling England by the Pound, and Invisible Touch, "Follow You Follow Me," many others

61 Cream
I'm not that big into Cream. I like them, I'm just not that big into them.


60 Whitney Houston


59 Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
59 seems high. I like Tom Petty quite a bit, but if you really look through the catalog, there's not as much there as you think there is. I think one disc of Tom Petty music is all I'd really need, and I'd probably add a couple of Wilburys songs on top of that. And why add the Heartbreakers to this list and not add the Attractions to Elvis Costello? It just kind of makes me laugh because Petty's biggest and best-loved album was a solo album without the Heartbreakers... Also, if I never hear "Free Fallin'" again, my life will be a little bit better.

FAVORITE SONG: "American Girl," "Mary Jane's Last Dance," "The Waiting"

58 Cheap Trick
They're okay. Not in my top 100, but they're okay.

FAVORITE SONG: "Surrender," "Dream Police"

57 Iggy & The Stooges
The Stooges are becoming quite overrated these days by people who, um, "always" liked them. Personally, I like Pop's early solo stuff better.

FAVORITE SONG: "1969," "Search and Destroy"

KISS is another group that seems like they have a lot of awesome music, but really don't have a whole hell of a lot after a couple of years. I like KISS, I even like a bit of the KISS I'm "supposed" to hate (I don't care, Music from the Elder is one of my favorite albums), but they probably wouldn't be in my top 100 either.

FAVORITE SONG: "Strutter," "Beth," "Love Gun," "New York Groove" (yeah, it's Ace solo, but fuck it, it's on The Very Best of KISS)

55 Peter Gabriel
I actually wouldn't place him solo above Genesis, but I do like Gabriel's solo work a lot. And his score to The Last Temptation of Christ is excellent.

FAVORITE SONG: "Games Without Frontiers," "Big Time," pretty much is whole first album

54 Public Enemy
Again, another artist I didn't hear much of growing up. I've always meant to finally listen to Fear of a Black Planet.

FAVORITE SONG: "Fight the Power"

53 Little Richard
That seems pretty high, and I'm cynical enough to say that a lot of the people who put him on this list don't know much of his music beyond "Tutti Frutti" or "Good Golly, Miss Molly." I'm willing to admit that I like Little Richard, but I've not delved very deeply into his catalog, either.

FAVORITE SONG: "The Girl Can't Help It"

52 Beyoncé

FAVORITE SONG: "Crazy in Love"

51 Billy Joel
One of my all time favorite artists.

FAVORITE SONG: Among many, the entire Songs from the Attic album.

50 Sade
Really? Why? Because she recently had a hit? Who cares?


49 Parliament-Funkadelic
Yes. Great music.

FAVORITE SONG: "We Want the Funk," "Mothership"

48 Rage Against The Machine
Ha, you're funny, VH1.


47 Jay-Z

FAVORITE SONG: Does The Gray Album count? Because I love that.

46 Ramones
Yes; the Ramones are brilliant.

FAVORITE SONG: "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend," "Rock 'n' Roll High School," "I Want You Around," "I Wanna Be Sedated," "My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down"

45 Al Green
Oh, my, yes. If you don't like Al Green, I don't understand how your emotions work.

FAVORITE SONG: "Let's Stay Together," "I'm Still in Love with You," "Here I Am," "Oh Me, Oh My"

44 Joni Mitchell
I love Joni Mitchell. I'm surprised to see her on here, for some reason, but I love her music.

FAVORITE SONG: "Both Sides Now," "Big Yellow Taxi," "Coyote"

43 Ray Charles
Definitely. Gotta be on this list.

FAVORITE SONG: "You Don't Know Me," "Eleanor Rigby," just about everything from the 1950s

42 Metallica
I don't like Metallica after, like, their first four or five albums. Also: better than Ray Charles? Whatever.

FAVORITE SONG: "Master of Puppets"

41 Van Halen
Stereotypically, I love them before they chucked out David Lee Roth. Anything since, who cares? (Not me.)

FAVORITE SONG: Their first six albums

40 The Police
High, but I do like the Police. I'm still incredibly sick of "Every Breath You Take," though. I think I heard that song on the radio every single day until about 1997.

FAVORITE SONG: "Can't Stand Losing You," "Don't Stand So Close to Me," "King of Pain"

39 The Kinks
Absolutely. I LOVE the Kinks. One of the greatest bands of all time.

FAVORITE SONG: The entire Village Green Preservation Society album

38 Sly & The Family Stone
That's pretty high. Not that they aren't good, but 38? (They are good, though.)

FAVORITE SONG: "Family Affair"

37 Fleetwood Mac
They're okay. This is much too high, in my opinion.

FAVORITE SONG: "Gypsy," "Little Lies," "Tusk"

36 Paul McCartney
See, I don't think he's number 36 good as a solo artist. Of course, you can't discount the brilliance of the Beatles, but as a solo artist, I don't see number 36. I like a lot of his music, too, but a lot of it's more cute than great.

FAVORITE SONG: "Maybe I'm Amazed," but in my opinion, the best solo McCartney song is actually a Beatles song: "Let It Be." It sounds nothing like the Beatles and everything like Paul McCartney.

35 Johnny Cash
Should be higher, to be honest. I love Johnny Cash.

FAVORITE SONG: "Folsom Prison Blues" and about 478 others

34 Tina Turner
I love Tina, but really, number 34? I don't know about that. But I do love Tina. I think HBO ruined the song "The Best," though.

FAVORITE SONG: "We Don't Need Another Hero," "Private Dancer"

33 Guns N’ Roses
Again, that's sort of high for what their actual output was. One of the best bands of their time, but their time really only lasted a couple of years.

FAVORITE SONG: "Sweet Child O' Mine," "November Rain," "Patience"

32 Black Sabbath
Great stuff; and I like the Dio era as much as I like the Ozzy era.


31 John Lennon
I like his music better than Paul McCartney's, but his non-Beatles output wasn't really that vast; I think he's arguably only got two albums that you don't want to skip around on. You could probably boil down the really great stuff to one or two discs. And you know I love John Lennon, but I'm just being realistic about his music.

FAVORITE SONG: "Mind Games," "Jealous Guy," "Imagine," "God," "Love," "Watching the Wheels," "Nobody Told Me"

30 Aerosmith
Oh, jeez, are we still not over Aerosmith yet? To hear some people talk, you'd think these guys were the Rolling Stones. They're really just a bar band with enough decent tracks to fill a compilation. A single disc compilation, at that.

FAVORITE SONG: "Living on the Edge," "What It Takes," "Walk This Way,"

29 Radiohead
The only thing I don't like more than Radiohead are the fans of Radiohead who constantly tell me how smart they are because they like Radiohead.

FAVORITE SONG: "Nice Dreams" is the only one I like. Guess I'm not a genius.

28 Elton John
I love Elton John. He's always been one of my favorites. Of course, he comes and goes in waves; he's also the perpetrator of some real garbage.

FAVORITE SONG: All of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

27 Aretha Franklin
Of course; absolutely wonderful. There's so much good music there, it's too bad advertisers keep just going back to "Respect" and "Think" and occasionally "Chain of Fools." Still, at least they're not going for "Knew You Were Waiting for Me".

FAVORITE SONG: "Say a Little Prayer," "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman"

26 Neil Young
Great, but overrated. I love a lot of his music, but I'm not one of those people who looks at him as one of the great 20th Century folk-poets.

FAVORITE SONG: "Heart of Gold"

25 Chuck Berry
Influential, sure, and a damn great artist, but I don't know about top 25. And I just noticed, where is Buddy Holly? He should be on this list a hell of a lot more than Alicia Keys should.

FAVORITE SONG: "No Particular Place to Go," "Rock and Roll Music"

24 The Velvet Underground
I never liked the Velvet Underground a whole heck of a lot. I like their album with Nico better than anything else; frankly I like John Cale better solo. 24 is insanely high.

FAVORITE SONG: "Sunday Morning"

23 AC/DC
I love AC/DC, but this seems high, too. Frankly, after Back in Black, there's not that much to the Brian Johnson era of AC/DC. Is this because Iron Man 2 almost sort of feature a couple of minutes of a couple of songs?

FAVORITE SONG: "Who Made Who," pretty much everything on Back in Black and High Voltage.

22 The Clash
One of the greats.

FAVORITE SONG: "Tommy Gun," "Lost in the Supermarket," "Rock the Casbah"

21 Bruce Springsteen
I think it's high; I like Bruce Springsteen's music--not a lot of it, but enough of it--but I never bought into the bullshit myth of blue collar Bruce being the voice of the common man. Has he really been as influential as people claim?

FAVORITE SONG: "Dancing in the Dark," "Born to Run," "The Promised Land," "Streets of Philadelphia"

20 Marvin Gaye
Yes. Marvin Gaye is wonderful. Same thing as with Al Green; if you don't dig Marvin, where is your soul?

FAVORITE SONG: The whole What's Going On album

19 U2
Way, way too high. The songs I like could fit on a disc. The Joshua Tree was enormous when I was a kid, and now you just can't escape fucking U2. They wouldn't be on my list at all.

FAVORITE SONG: "With or Without You," "One"

18 Pink Floyd
I think they're good but overrated. They're better when you're stoned.

FAVORITE SONG: "Comfortably Numb," "See Emily Play," "Wish You Were Here"

17 Queen
One of my favorite bands of all time. Perfection. For most of their output.

FAVORITE SONG: "Don't Stop Me Now," "Somebody to Love," "Killer Queen," "Sail Away, Sweet Sister," all of Queen II

16 Madonna
Just... just so overrated. Divorce her from her popularity and obnoxious notions of celebrity, and you really just have a mid-tier dance pop artist who's lucked out from having some really good producers. Her songs could be by almost anyone. Again, everything I like fits on a disc.

FAVORITE SONG: "Oh Father," "Material Girl"

15 The Beach Boys
You all know I love the Beach Boys, pretty much up until Mike Love's insane 1980s revival as the cleanest, cheesiest, lamest, nuke it from orbit so it finally dies band.

FAVORITE SONG: Everything on Pet Sounds

14 Nirvana
I've never liked Nirvana. That whole thing just went over my head. I saw it as just commercial angst, and the music's really not that good. Better than Pearl Jam, but still.


13 The Who
Fantastic band; one of the best ever.

FAVORITE SONG: "Won't Get Fooled Again," all of Tommy, all of Who's Next

12 David Bowie
The god I worship.

FAVORITE SONG: "Starman" and almost everything else he's ever recorded

11 Bob Marley
I've always thought he was heavily overrated. I like one or two of his songs (too many of them have been used on commercials ad nauseum for me to warm up to them now), but come on, number 11?

FAVORITE SONG: "Redemption Song," and even then I like Joe Strummer's version better

10 Stevie Wonder
Wonderful right up until 1984 and "I Just Called to Say I Love You." But before that? Astoundingly wonderful.

FAVORITE SONG: Pretty much everything from 1970 to 1978.

09 James Brown
I just never got into James Brown. I know a lot of people love his music, but I've just never been able to get into it.


08 Elvis Presley
Well, yes. Apart from the phenomenon and Elvis mania and such, I just really dig his music.

FAVORITE SONG: "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You," "Burning Love," many others

07 Prince
Love Prince, but 7 seems high, especially considering everything he's recorded since the mid-nineties.

FAVORITE SONG: "Raspberry Beret"

06 Jimi Hendrix
Hendrix's albums are amazing. Absolutely I love his music.

FAVORITE SONG: "Castles Made of Sand"

05 Rolling Stones
I do love the Stones. One of my all time favorite bands. I think they have to be in the top 5.

FAVORITE SONG: "Let's Spend the Night Together"

04 Led Zeppelin
I've never been that into Led Zeppelin. I like them better now than I ever used to, but they're not among my favorite bands.

FAVORITE SONG: "Immigrant Song"

03 Michael Jackson
People love him a disproportionate amount compared to how good his music actually was. He had, what, maybe three or so good songs after Bad? He will continue to be overrated forever.

FAVORITE SONG: "Human Nature"

02 Bob Dylan
Boy, my wife hates Bob Dylan. I love his music. I think he's full of shit on a lot of levels, but I love his music.


01 The Beatles
Well, yeah. I would've been surprised if they were any lower.

FAVORITE SONG: "I'm Looking Through You"


I'm not one to play the "never forget" game--I think we can all "never forget" while still moving forward in our lives and not descending into the sort of faux-reverence that politicians use to shame people into giving them what they want. And I'm not going to get all precious about remembering where I was and what the mood was like after it happened, because I remember those things quite well and don't feel the need to fetishize it. And I'm not going to talk politics and Ground Zero and etc. I just saw this gif on Tumblr and thought it was kind of nice and decided to share it. I was lucky enough to not lose anyone on 9/11. Many, many other people were not so lucky. This is more their day than mine.

Friday, September 10, 2010


Obama refuses to extend the Bush tax cuts for the rich; Don't Ask Don't Tell is ruled unconstitutional; the US Court of Appeals lifted a ban on embryonic stem cell research; it was announced that Prop 8 will not be defended in court; Terry Jones maybe possibly decided not to have the Qur'an bonfire; and Arnold Schwarzenegger provided the cherry on top by tweeting this:

I'm that kind of person who wonders when the other shoe is gonna drop...

While we're talking politics and society, I recommend you read this Robert Reich piece explaining why it's good for the economy that the rich pay more in taxes. It makes a lot more sense than the counter whining arguing you usually here, such as the old, untrue saw that the rich create more jobs, spend more money, etc.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Two Movies Left...

Still excited.

Rosh Hashana Started Last Night

Happy New Year, my Semitic brothers and sisters. Oh, that I were celebrating this occasion with my darling Kat...


I'm just glad I don't have to hear about how great Sharone thinks he is anymore.

Everything the judges said about him was right: a talented cook, but one with a high opinion of himself who overthinks and overcomplicates things. Pretty magnanimous of Joe Bastianich to offer him a job. I think Sharone's that good; he could work in a professional kitchen. As long as I don't have to hear him talk.

In brief:

:: Sheetal is fucking gorgeous. (It did bug me the way everyone kept pronouncing her name as "Sheetle" instead of "SheeTAHL," though. Seemed like they were just doing it to be disrespectful. What's the difference? Well, like Data said on Star Trek when called "DATuh," one is her name. I actually said once to the TV: "Her name is SheeTAHL, Sharon!")

:: I think Dave is probably starting to get it; he still rubs me the wrong way, even though I think I know where his behavior comes from, but he's starting to get it.

:: Not surprised to see Mike go, either. He just never seemed to manage his time well.

:: Some of those desserts looked really good.

:: Food critics annoy me. The whole canned tomatoes thing... sure, Whitney could have just said she found tomatoes "in the kitchen," but the reaction when she said they were canned was irritating to me. This whole air of "What? I just descended from Mount Olympus so you could serve me and you ask me to deign to eat common person food? How dare you?!"

:: Otherwise, I'm really just looking forward to the final episode. And moreso to the next season of Hell's Kitchen, which is already starting in two weeks. Show must do well. I just like it that there's always a Gordon Ramsey show on.

Burning the Qur'an

By now, you've all heard about this idiocy where some asshole who unfortunately shares a name with one of the members of Monty Python wants to burn Qur'ans on the anniversary of 9/11, apparently to show what a non-violent and understanding religion Christianity is.

See, everyone's credibility on this is a problem.

First, we have Terry Jones, who wants to get across the message that Christianity is less violent than Islam and that America is less repressive than countries where the population is predominately Muslim by burning books.

Then, we have General Petraeus, whose message is that showing such an outpouring of hatred to Muslims endangers troops in Afghanistan as if actually being in Afghanistan wasn't the thing endangering troops there.

And then we have President Obama, who came out and said pretty much the same thing, that this may hurt soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and create more terrorists, as if invading both countries wasn't the thing creating more terrorists.

Not only that, but his Administration just won an appeal and can now prevent anyone who was ever kidnapped, rendered, held without trial and or/tortured by the US government to sue the government in a US court. So, Obama is using the courts to cover up war crimes (both his and Bush's) and denying access to the courts.

I hate moral equivocating, but I will say that what Jones is doing is at least protected under the First Amendment. It's a protest. It's a stupid one--and one done for attention and money, done out of hatred and a misunderstanding of Islamic beliefs, and an act of utter hypocrisy given how much Christians have historically loved to burn and destroy other cultures for not having the same beliefs--but it's still Constitutionally protected speech. (As is my complete and utter condemnation of it.)

Where's the Constitutional doctrine that protects war crimes?

And which is going to be the "recruiting tool" for al-Qaeda that Obama is warning us about? Burning a sacred Muslim text, or kidnapping, rendering, holding illegally, torturing, and denying access to a redress of grievances and abusing the law to cover it up?

The correct answer is both. But that's why Obama doesn't really have a leg to stand on in this one. Because he can't counter a hate-fueled protest for publicity with the notion that the United States is trying to be a just nation in our dealings with the Muslim world.

Why are we so afraid to be decent human beings?

And honestly, if you're part of a church that tells you to burn a book--ANY BOOK--walk out the door and never go back.

UPDATE 9/10: Terry Jones apparently called off tomorrow's bonfire. And I wish I was making this up, but apparently Fred Phelps offered to step in and do it instead. Guess we'll see whose stupidity is stronger.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

Emma Roberts is snotty and out of control, goes to British boarding school, blah blah blah. Seen it, many times, and Emma Roberts isn't interesting enough to at least grab my attention. The kind of movie you forget about as you're watching it. Sadly, it's Natasha Richardson's last movie; an unfortunate one to go out on. * star.

ASTRO BOY (2009)
I found it rather wonderful. I know there were a lot of complaints along the "Wah! Astro's wearing clothes now, my childhood is ruined!" sort of line, but I enjoyed the hell out of this movie; it's sort of half-superhero origin story and half-Oliver Twist with a robot. That this could almost take down an entire animation studio is just further proof to me that American audiences don't know what the hell they want in motion pictures anymore. Personally, I enjoyed how uncynical it was, even with some of the subjects being dealt with. Very handsome and appealing to look at, and great voice work, especially by Eugene Levy, Donald Sutherland, and Nathan Lane. ***1/2 stars.

Meh. Michael Caine and a British-accented Demi Moore attempt a diamond robbery, I get fitful and distracted and roll my eyes at the twist. * star.

(500) DAYS OF SUMMER (2009)
Much too cutesy for its own good. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a greeting card writer who whines his way into a relationship with Zooey Deschanel, who is pretty and likes the Smiths. He's unfair to her, he gets pissed at her when their relationship isn't serious enough (even though she's told him a few times that it's casual and she doesn't want a serious relationship), and everything he likes about her is completely surface-related. I gather that a lot of people who see this movie think that Zooey's character, Summer, is a total bitch for daring to be the perfect woman and then not making this relationship work, but I think Gordon-Levitt's Tom is the real asshole here. Since everything we know about Summer is filtered through Tom's unreliable, fantastical memories, the whole thing is one-sided. You can't really judge Summer because everything we know about Summer is based on Tom's anger and on his overpraise of a girl from work who likes the same bands he does. Tom remains firmly unlikable through the whole movie, and in the end, when he moves on with his life, he just sets himself up for the same ridiculousness. It's an irritating, hipster-infected, sugary movie without a single likable character and that annoying yet prevalent plot device of the immature adults learning the important lessons from an all-knowing pre-adolescent. Ugh. I guess if you throw in a faux-whimsical pseudo-musical number with shitty attempts at dancing, that's enough to fool a lot of people into thinking that a doomed romance where people bond over their love for a band that's recorded nothing since the main characters were in diapers is wondrous. Me, however: * star.

Martin Scorsese's portrait of the Rolling Stones. After an opening sequence in which Scorsese gets across just how hard it can be to deal with documenting the Stones (he doesn't even have a set list until just before filming), he gets out of the way and lets the Stones' performance at a benefit concert speak for itself, adding in some bits here and there from old interviews and TV appearance for context. It's a hell of a concert, and the contextual bits really do add up to not necessarily a definitive portrait, but a great impression of why the Stones do what they do and how they've lasted so much longer than other bands. I enjoyed it a great deal. ***1/2 stars.

David Twohy usually makes predictable-but-interesting movies. Here we have a honeymooning couple in Hawaii (Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich) who are hiking into a remote area just after hearing about killers on the loose and encountering some strange characters. I predicted the twist really early, actually, but then figured the movie would never go through with it. Twohy does actually keep your suspicions up and plays with them a bit. Solid flick. *** stars.

Extremely boring horror film from the era when the real horror was that we were becoming slaves to the things we owned. Here, Oliver Reed, Karen Black, their young son, and Aunt Elizabeth (Bette Davis, who isn't dull even in a throwaway like this and consequently out-acts everyone on the screen without even lifting a finger), rent a house in the country for the summer and, typically, really weird thing start happening. It takes forever to get to the end, and unfortunately you have to endure this awful soft-focus photography that makes you think you're going blind because it's all so blurry. Plus Karen Black is in it. (Halfway through, Becca asked, quite solemnly: "So, what was Karen Black's deal, was she blind or retarded?") And even Oliver Reed is subdued and dull. Dan Curtis directed, if you're into that. * star for Bette.

IRON MAN 2 (2010)
The first movie was unexpectedly cool and funny. This sequel tries too hard to be the same, but instead comes across as calculated and slick. Not much in the way of character or tension, as it's really just trying to split the difference between being set-up for the Avengers movie and trying to be cool. I liked it, actually, but where I thought the first movie was something special, this one is just another superhero movie put out to sell toys and generate sequels. I'd put it in league with The Incredible Hulk as far as Marvel movies go. I did like Mickey Rourke in the movie. *** stars.

Not the action extravaganza it pretends to be, but a solid action flick. I can't help it, I like Stallone. Once again, I particularly liked Mickey Rourke. Not much to say about it, but I dug it. *** stars.

Well, I love Miley, but I hate Nicholas Sparks. Miley was alright in it; not a revelation, or anything, but she proved that she can shed the Hannah Montana thing. With some work, she might have a decent movie career. She plays a troubled high school graduate who goes to stay with her composer father (Greg Kinnear) for the summer, and finds love with an aquarium volunteer. Really predictable and shallow soap opera stuff; this is Nicholas Sparks, so he's got to throw in tragedy upon tragedy upon tragedy in the last 20 or so minutes, beating you over the head with the sentiment porn just in case ideas like "cancer is sad" and "divorce is hard on kids" are too subtle for anyone. ** stars.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Glenn Shadix 1952-2010

I was sorry to hear that one of my favorite character actors died today at the age of only 58 after some kind of fall. Whether it was in Beetlejuice or Hercules: The Legendary Journeys or even Planet of the Apes, he always made me smile.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Sir Spudnik Von Trap

Every time I'm convinced that I never need to see anything steampunk ever again, thank you very much, something wonderful like this steampunked Mr. Potato Head comes along and proves me completely wrong.

More here.

Kristen Bell Mondays

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Song of the Week: "A Year Without Rain"

I really dig the new single from Selena Gomez & the Scene. A lot of her music right now sounds like 1987 to me, but in a good way. So, I'm closing out the summer with this track.