Sunday, February 22, 2015

2014 Recap - Music

We all know my well-established rule: no blogging about the albums you purchased until a few weeks after the Grammy Awards. So now, after an appropriate period of time, here are the 2014 albums I enjoyed, from best to least best:

The New Pornographers - Brill Bruisers
Spoon - They Want My Soul
Mike Adams at His Honest Weight - Best of Boiler Room Classics
U2 - Songs of Innocence

Real Good
Ex Hex - Rips
Hospitality - Trouble

First Aid Kit - Stay Gold
We Were Promised Jetpacks - Unraveling

Not Released in 2014 So Why Do I Still List Them?
Tears For Fears - Shout: The Very Best of Tears For Fears
Talking Heads - Stop Making Sense (Live)
Tesla - The Best of Tesla
Def Leppard - Pyromania
U2 - War (Remastered)
U2 - The Unforgettable Fire (Remastered)
Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream (Remastered)
Blur - The Best Of
Veronica Falls - Waiting for Something to Happen
Arctic Monkeys - AM

Thursday, February 19, 2015

2014 Recap - Film

I waited for a timely day to post this, just before the Oscars. I definitely did not wait this long because I just kind of hate being online after staring at a screen all goddamn day at work.

2014 movies I saw, from most liked to least:

Kind of a mess, but mostly awesome. It is the only movie on this list that featured remote planet landscapes, hot spaceship action, and Jessica Chastain’s nice face.

I loved Miles Teller in The Spectacular Now and it seems clear that I will love him for years to come. I am so, so thankful that the jazz performed in this film sounded fun and was not of the smooth variety. The impossible question the movie poses -- how much can you or should you push someone toward a goal -- struck me from a philosophical standpoint, and perhaps more boringly, from a new parent standpoint. And speaking of boring new parent stuff, Interstellar had an impact on that area of my psyche as well, so I guess you can ignore my top two picks due to the unfair influence of my hormones.

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Kind of a lot of deaths for a madcap movie, now that I think about it. You could say it’s too much like the previous Wes Anderson movies, but it still looks pretty and makes me laugh, so keep it up, you corduroy'd dandy! (The best tweet of the Golden Globes was Julie Klausner’s “I'd fuck Wes Anderson so hard his shots wouldn't be centered anymore.”)

The LEGO Movie
Liam Neeson’s cop was probably my favorite character. I didn’t love the switch to reality toward the end, despite the positive message it gave to the movie.

The Guardians of the Galaxy
I finally saw this last week, so it had a lot of hype that it didn’t quite meet. Groot was great, John C. Reilly was criminally underused, the prison break was fun. But my gosh, they introduced one billion characters in the first 15 minutes of this thing. I felt like an old man trying to keep everything straight.

Edge of Tomorrow (Live Die Repeat)
Pretty good! I read this avclub note before I saw it, which I thought about constantly: “I saw Edge Of Tomorrow. It’s set in the future, so Groundhog Day would have already been out. So at some point, [Tom Cruise] should have been like ‘It’s like fuckin’ Groundhog Day. I keep having to do the same thing again.”—Geoff Tate script doctoring Edge Of Tomorrow, on the Doug Loves Movies podcast

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
It has its moments, but yikes. Here’s some winter SPOILERS for you… He meets another army guy while exercising, so they become best friends for no reason? They didn’t want to come up with a new bad guy, so they recycled the bad guys from the first movie? You know, the one that took place in the 1940s? The biggest yikes is the Winter Soldier himself. They even recycled the GOOD guys from the first movie. As if any of us gave a shit about Captain’s ol’ pal Bucky.

The Imitation Game*
If the goal of this movie was to inspire people to look up Alan Turing on Wikipedia, it was a success. But when you do read more about Turing, and about the liberties the screenplay took, you wonder why they felt the need to muck up the history of an already fascinating man and the British codebreaking effort. Why try to turn the story into A Beautiful Mind? Because it won some Oscars, probably, and I suppose they’re laughing all the way to the Oscar bank, seeing that Cumberbatch and Knightly were both nominated for their roles. I could be convinced that Cumberbatch did a nice job of steering clear of Simple Jack territory, but Knightly’s performance didn’t seem special, and I have a hard time believing that there wasn’t a more deserving nominee out there.

The Monuments Men
I wanted to see this, because when I saw The Rape of Europa years back on PBS the subject matter blew me away. Clooney took a big dump on it. I mean, really big. It was the dump to end all dumps. We are given no reasons to like the ramshackle team of art heros. Zero. Bill Murray’s character’s backstory is literally a ten-second shot of him looking at architecture blueprints while on a scaffolding. Then, BOOM, can you believe he’s now a part of this ragtag bunch? I can imagine a movie on this topic told from a sympathetic perspective of Hitler that would easily, EASILY, be better than this boring garbage.

*Denotes in-theater experience, and the increased expectations that come with it
**Denotes in-theater IMAX experience because I always pay extra to see outer space in IMAX, duh why wouldn’t you

2014 movies I still want to see and think I’ll like:
Obvious Child
Force Majeure
John Wick


Goddamnit, Harris Wittels died today.

If you want to understand my heartbreak, and I don't think you should, but if you want to, listen to his heroin confessional on Pete Holmes' podcast, which was one of my favorite few hours of 2014.

I'll be spending some time pouring over his old appearances - Analyze Phish killed a lot of time for me while I waited for PET scans in 2011. Goddamnit.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Trailer Trash

We had to sit through these three trailers ALL IN A ROW last night before watching The Imitation Game.

I can bearly stand this, you guys!

That Richard Gere is pure sex, guys! Even your 65-year-old aunt that they targeted this movie toward is like, "Too formulaic. If I wanted to watch some dried up old bitches snipe at one another I'd go to my hairdresser!"

Let's watch Johnny Depp and Gwyneth Paltrow "pretend" to be kooky socialites! JK let's kill ourselves!

Sunday, January 04, 2015

2014 Recap - Podcasts

The best podcast episodes of the year, according to me, who listens to a lot of podcasts.Like, a lot! Sometimes I listen to one while we're getting the children awake and ready to go, then one on my commute, one on my way home, and one or two during an evening (if I am playing PlayStation during that evening).

The Andy Daly Podcast Pilot Project

“Hail Satan” is a very distant third place among the ADPPP episodes, but I loved the “Chip’s Tips / Tip’s Chips” segment very much. The other two episodes are modern classics and likely the finest two podcast episodes of any year.

You Made It Weird

I usually find Pete Holmes’ podcast to be too self-centered and repetitive, but these two episodes were special. Harris Wittels’ story of breaking up with a Scientologist that leads to buying heroin in an LA park is crazy, and Dave Hill’s tale of performing stand-up comedy at Sing Sing prison is crazy good. While Dave Hill’s “The Goddamn Dave Hill Show” podcast is not on this list, I do look forward to it every week.

Mike and Tom Eat Snacks

This is just good advice about who should be baking Nabisco’s gingersnaps.

U Talkin U2 to Me?

Todd Glass was invited onto this sort-of U2-centered podcast to discuss the nu-metal band Staind. Why Glass? Because his surname combined with Staind made a funny title. Why Staind? Because Scott (Scott A., not A. Scott) likes to sing the titular opening lyrics to Staind’s “It’s Been Awhile” after people say “It’s been awhile” in casual conversation.

Comedy Bang Bang

These two episodes stand out as the top of the crop from another great year of CBB. Every guest and character in both episodes are consistently hilarious, from the priest to H.R. Geiger to the elf to Aimee Mann. The holiday episode also features a great dissection of why “The Little Drummer Boy” has terrible lyrics.

Uhh Yeah Dude

About 36 hours into his life, it was decided that my son needed to be transferred to another hospital for some CPAP therapy. It was late at night when I got in my car to drive over to that hospital, and I had to decide what to listen to on the trip. You aren’t in the mood to crank some classic Beatles tunes when you are concerned for the welfare of your newborn, and you don’t want to cry along to Elliott Smith while you’re trying to keep your car on the road. I mean, they don’t really have any Spotify playlist for those kinds of emotions. I decided to listen to Uhh Yeah Dude. It wasn’t a favorite episode, just the one from the week prior that I hadn’t heard yet. It was definitely the right move. I’ve been down with UYD for 200-some episodes by now, and my two old friends talked me through it.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

2014 Soundtrack

I do this every year. These songs are what I loved this year, or what reminds me of this year, and are arranged in my preferred listening order. The playlist fits on an 80-minute CD.

Download the zipped folder here. Then, like, unzip it. If the songs get lost in your media library, just search for the ones with the genre labeled "Dan2014".

U2 - Invisible

U2 sprang “Invisible” on us during the Super Bowl commercials. I say “us”, but assuredly I was the only one at the Super Bowl party go gave a rat’s ass that this song was available for free download for the next 24 hours, thanks to a (RED) charity promotion. Honestly, the first thing I did after walking a few blocks home in the cold was fire up iTunes and grab the song. It was the beginning of a year full of U2.

Though their album (Also free via iTunes! Did you hear?) was delayed until Fall, Scott Aukerman and Adam Scott’s “U Talkin’ U2 To Me” podcast filled the gap. The Scotts led me to:
  • Watch a ZooTV era concert on YouTube
  • Watch the Red Rocks concert on YouTube
  • Sing “Bad” loudly at my kids while shaking a rattle, in an attempt to calm their cries
  • Re-evaluate “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” on the way to the airport
  • Laugh heartily at the “Stained Glass” podcast episode while waiting for a flight
  • Enjoy “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” on a recycling/Freddy’s Frozen Custard outing
  • Download the tracks I was missing from Zooropa
  • Buy discounted and remastered versions of “War” and “Unforgettable Fire”
  • Download their 2001 Notre Dame concert, featuring an endless Bono speech on third-world debt
  • Download their 1987 Illinois show, featuring Bono saying “Chicago” in a Da Bears style accent during “Bullet the Blue Sky”
  • Create an animated gif where Aukerman looks like Bono’s Macphisto
  • Seriously consider purchasing Fly-style sunglasses from
  • Seriously consider putting Fly-style sunglasses on my Christmas list before deciding I couldn’t live with myself for owning $120 sunglasses shipped from Portugal
  • Perform “One” at karaoke in Nashville
  • Perform “With or Without You” at karaoke in Kansas City
  • Enthusiastically listen to “Songs of Innocence” and post a review on Phil’s Facebook page
  • Receive a CD of lullabye-d U2 songs
  • Watch some of the (RED) concert from Times Square where Chris Martin and Bruce Springsteen subbed in for the injured Bono, but, like, WOOF those guys did not sound great
The first version of this soundtrack had six U2 songs on it. Yikes!

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Hey Paul

After the first few days of hearing people say, “Hey, Paul” to my newborn child, I remembered this song existed. I didn’t remember how it sounded, though, until I pulled it out of my hard drive. That’s when I saw that the band had a song called “Anne with an E” on their second album. That’s Lizzy’s middle name! WHOA!

St. Vincent - Digital Witness

Every album, St. Vincent has a song I really love, but I struggle to get into the other songs. 

Blur - Tender

I picked up Blur’s greatest hits this year, and had flashbacks when hearing “Tender”. I completely forgot I knew this song, thanks to repeated plays by Phil during college.

The New Pornographers - Backstairs

I had a fever for four straight days in September, a few weeks after “Brill Bruisers” was released. So I was at that point in my relationship with the album where several songs were getting stuck in my head, and I was worried that hearing the repeating chorus of “Backstairs” while tossing and turning and hoping for the fever to break would cause me to hate the song and the album forever. But it didn’t.

Danzig - Twist of Cain

My peak of listening to this song corresponded with the Royals’ playoff run, wherein Lorenzo Cain was named the ALCS MVP. It’s an amazing coincidence on par with the similarities between Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.

Weezer - Ain’t Got Nobody

Nice comeback album by Weezer. I listen to a lot of podcasts when I do yard work, and now I’ll probably think about Marc Maron’s interview of Rivers Cuomo every time I plant grass. You will note that this song ends with “doo-doo-doo”s.

Spoon - Do You

You will note that this song begins with “doo-doo-doo”s. I saw Spoon live at Liberty Hall on September 21, and it was much more impressive than the last two times I’ve seen them. (And I had liked those previous shows!) The stage setup was pretty neat. There was a big mirrorball dreidel thingy hanging from the ceiling that was put into use during this song. Like this:

Best Coast - I Don’t Know How

I use year-end best-of lists to sample a lot of artists’ songs, and this one came up in a 2013 list. It grew on me. I bet this song would be terrible if a dude sang it.

First Aid Kit - Heaven Knows

Sometimes a podcast will end before my commute, and I won’t want to fumble with my phone to start another, so I switch the stereo over to CD mode. This CD spent a long time in the chamber as I waited for new music to buy. No matter what track it was playing when I switched over, I made sure I heard “Heaven Knows” before I pulled into the parking lot.

Hospitality - Last Words

This is a good album, and I feel bad that my main memory of this song is hearing it in my headphones as I deplaned in Kansas City and hit the restroom.

Talking Heads - Swamp (live)

Stop Making Sense was another stop in my YouTube concert series, watching stuff via Roku in the living room while the infants just kinda laid around and wished they could sit up. I hadn’t seen it before, and it was good, but I expected a bit more from the inflatable suit gag. (Molly was shocked to hear this, and explained that she and Casey used to restage the concert with action figures. Weird childhood, ladies.) I’m still a little confused about my education in the Talking Heads - there are probably some great less known songs of theirs that I’d enjoy, but I’m not going to buy all their albums to figure out what those songs might be.

We Were Promised Jetpacks - Peaks and Troughs

I am glad the title to this song tells me part of what’s said in the chorus, because those Scottish accents can be tough. I do enjoy how the Scots can rhyme “been” and “clean” precisely.

Ghostface Killah - Be Easy

As I mentioned above, I deplaned with headphones like, twice in 2014. Oh, that’s not interesting at all? Well, that’s true. Anyway, I took a flight to Tucson for Jeff’s wedding, and I was pretty sleepy when we landed, but this song pumped me up. It was definitely the most pumped up I’ve ever felt while watching yokels struggle with overhead luggage bins. Later, I was rocking Sleater-Kinney’s “Jumper” as I descended an escalator, and for the first time ever saw my last name held on a placard. By MY DRIVER. Oh, the luxury! (It was the same price as a cab, but still, that’s a quality start to a vacation.)

So, back to the song. It’s my favorite rap song of all time, even though I don’t know the words, and I haven’t heard any other songs in Mr. Killah’s solo oeuvre. I wish people would clue me in on more rap with this kind of bounce. I’m not into wearing headphones around while walking about town, but this experience showed me why people choose to do that.

Kishi Bashi - Philosophize In It! Chemicalize With It!

I listened to this album stream on NPR for one reason: to hear what type of music came from the winners of 2014’s worst indie rock press photo contest.

Even if you ignore the look that bushy beard is giving the camera, there is a lot to dislike about this photo. Too much extraneous clothing, for sure. The woods - bands really love to take these pictures in the woods. Just go live in the woods, why don’t you? And boy oh boy, that mirror. As Gav pointed out, the mirror is there to show us a reflection of PART OF A TREE. We’re already in the woods, guys! We see the trees!

So, I was somewhat conflicted to find that I enjoyed the first half of this album.

Stars - Turn It Up

This is everything I want from a Stars song.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Simple and Sure

Normally a High Fidelity-type rule would prevent one from putting two songs from the same band on a playlist like this, but I am kind of a rebel who plays by his own rules. This was in heavy rotation for me all year, and it was also in a Hershey’s commercial that was in less heavy rotation for me.

Valley Lodge - Go

This song, also the theme song to John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight”, was written and sung by comedian and podcaster and musician (doy) Dave Hill. I fell head over heels for  Dave this year, beginning with his amazing tale of performing stand-up in Sing-Sing prison. That led to listening to other podcast appearances and his own new podcast, The Goddamn Dave Hill Show. He frequently plays guitar riffs on his show, primarily Danzig’s “Mother” and Kansas’ “Carry on my Wayward Son”, but somehow that never gets old, and leads you down a pretty neat path to more Danzig (see above). I anticipate much of next year’s soundtrack to be inspired by Dave’s good taste.

Rose Windows - Native Dreams

After listening to over 200 Uhh Yeah Dude podcasts, I finally liked a song they used as intro music.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Labored Days

I do still think about the blog. Like, when I'm researching images I can use for a presentation, and strange results occur, I'm like, "That's going on the blog."

And I keep notes that I think I might develop into a post.
overrated cheeses
white cheddar
feta maybe?
But the situation is this: my free time is limited due to these children, and I have chosen to abandon the internet during those respites. I'm trying these weird moves like "watching television without looking at Twitter at the same time".

Another issue: do I want this thing to be a dad blog? I've been leaning toward no. But I also think back on how little I wrote during cancer, and I think I will regret that most of the documentation I will have on that time is my medical chart. My kids take up half of Facebook's bandwidth, though, so their development won't be lost to history; maybe my blog can live without them. But content is harder to come by when most of your current events are related to the kids. Do you want to hear about the leaves I raked while I was away from the kids on Saturday morning? Well, there were a lot of leaves. I listened to some podcasts. I also killed some weeds and planted some more grass. Is that good? Is that blog gold?

Third, sickness. The kids were sick over Labor Day weekend and a while after. And then I got sick -- I had a fever for 4 days and that was only slightly less bad than getting poison ivy pretty bad right after the illness subsided.

Fourth, these Royals. The only reason I took the time to write this is because of their Game 6 seven-run second inning. It's a real laffer. The MLB postseason lasts forever. Pity those fans of perennial winners who have to watch this many playoff games every Fall!

That's it. That's the blog news.