Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mad Men Medley

Call me a liar and I won't disagree. I had grand plans to do in-depth write-ups of each episode of Mad Men this season, but through two episodes I just haven't had the time. I've watched both, but to do anything more than summaries would have taken too much, and I'm only going to get busier. So, as the season goes along I may actually delve into it, but for now I think I'll just try to put up a post every week where myself and the other couple people watching can talk about it. Some highlights from the first two weeks: 

Friday, August 21, 2009

TV: Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

Normally, something with that title would sound like the kind of overly precious, indie-pandering project that I run screaming from. This one's got a major plus on its side though, and his name is Joss Whedon. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Flaming Lips at the Greek, 8/17/09

It's pretty easy to toss around terms like "childlike wonder," but I think a lot of us don't really remember what that means. We know that it was great, and that it sounds really good when you describe your reaction to something that way, but understanding it as a concept and feeling it are not the same thing. Unless you happen to be at a Flaming Lips show, that is. 

Sunday, August 16, 2009

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad Men World

As I mentioned about a month ago, Mad Men is the best show on television right now. I demurred when it came to explaining why, mostly because it's a show that moves at a very measured pace, without many grand moments; it expects the viewer to invest in the characters and trust that it knows what it's doing. Don't worry, it really, really does. If you haven't seen the first two seasons, I very strongly urge you to go back, rent them, and then call in sick for a few days and charge through all twenty-six episodes. The third season begins tonight at 10 on AMC, and the strength of the writing and acting will probably still be enough to grab you if you haven't watched it before, but you'll be missing out on two years of character development. I had entertained the idea of analyzing/summarizing the first two seasons leading up to this one, but I realized that was a greater task than I was up for, and with only a few people I know who read the blog and watch the show, I'll spare everyone the master's thesis in dramatic television. What I will be doing, however, is writing summaries and analysis of each episode as the season goes along. I'm not sure how in-depth I'll be able to get, and they may take a day or two, but hopefully any of you who are fans will join in the conversation as we try to figure out where things are headed for Don Draper and everyone else at Sterling Cooper.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, that is supposed to be me in that picture at the top. To Mad Men yourself, go here.

Guitar Heroes, or Why Linkin Park is Awful

As you can probably tell from the majority of the content here, I listen to music quite a bit, and I lean toward the rockin' end of the spectrum. I also really enjoy movies, despite my previous statements about their shortcomings. Taking those two facts into account (or was it three? I hate math), it should come as no surprise that this movie would be so appealing to me. It Might Get Loud, Davis Guggenheim's documentary about three guitar icons of the last forty years, came out Friday. Guggenheim, who directed An Inconvenient Truth and was a producer on Deadwood, has brought together Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin, The Yardbirds), The Edge (U2) and Jack White (The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather), to talk about music, their history of playing the guitar, and to play to and with each other. In addition to an apparent attempt at an apocalypse of awesome, it also looks like a good film for any guitar buff, or just people who have ever loved any of the music these guys make. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Liu Kang vs. Zangief

Some of you may know that a few months back I helped a couple friends on a spec film, which basically means the director, Troy Kooper, wanted to have something in his portfolio to show to prospective clients. The concept: a guy emerges from his home wearing a wife-beater, mouthguard and ridiculous helmet, and proceeds to pick fights with anyone he sees. His first victim is some un-witting (and dashingly handsome, I might add) fellow he comes upon in a Belmont Shore alley. This was a very professional production, with a director of photography and an expensive camera, though we did it somewhat guerilla style. It was a lot of fun to film, even though I spent most of the day waiting for my scenes to be shot, and I'm extremely pleased to see how it turned out. Eugene has said there's an even better cut of it out there, but I've yet to see it, so for now, enjoy. There are shorter versions on Troy's website, which I've added to the list over on the right side of the blog, or you can see them here. My favorite part? The whole day I was thinking to myself, "Self, don't you agree that they need some driving, ominous, Black Sabbath-y music for this?" Then Grace, who plays Girl With Cellphone, showed up wearing a Black Sabbath Vol. 4 shirt, and I knew I was onto something. So imagine my surprise when I saw the clip finally and heard Black Mountain's Sabbath-indebted "Don't Run Our Hearts Around." Perfect!

Monday, August 10, 2009

"We are hardly nerds. Would a nerd wear such an irreverent sweatshirt?"

I've never been very interested in comic books. Sure, at one point I had a bunch of random stuff as I dipped my toe in, and I got into a couple of Predator and Aliens series from Dark Horse comics, but I think that was as much about the violence and prior obsession with those films as it was about the comics themselves. Other than those and the graphic novel Maus (which I suggest you read if you haven't), I was more or less comic book illiterate. Well, then the famous graphic novel Watchmen was made into a film, and I decided I should see if it was all it was said to be. The short answer: Yes. While I hope to eventually write something more in-depth about it, I wanted to mention a couple other series that I've plunged into since. 

Friday, August 7, 2009

Free Lions at the Yost Theater, 7/31/09

I have to admit, I'm having a hard time figuring out how to talk about this show. Two of my best friends are in this band, and I used to be a "contributor," so to speak. Ok, fine, I sang backup vocals at their first show last year, but I was there as the first set list was cultivated from lead singer Shayne Fee's solo eight-track recordings into full blown songs, so I'm obviously pretty close to the whole thing. In the end, I think "brutally honest" is the way to go, since that's how I am most of the time anyway. Luckily, I really like the band, beyond just the usual loyalty to friends' projects, so I have almost entirely positive things to say. Way to go, Free Lions! 

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wonderboy and Young Nasty Man to the Rescue

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the Beastie Boys having to back out of Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival because of MCA's cancer (his surgery went well and he's currently recovering before starting his chemo treatment), and since then I've been wondering, with great anticipation, who would replace them. Well, today it was announced that Tenacious D would be headlining the final night of the festival, and while it's a bit of an unorthodox addition, I couldn't be more excited. From the time their album came out eight years ago it's been one of my favorites, both for its ridiculous humor and surprisingly strong songs. A few years back I even treated (subjected?) people at a friend's party to my karaoke (well, I sang over Jack, but whatever) version of almost the entire album. Yeah, it's safe to say I like them a lot.

Hopefully they'll have a backing band like in this video:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Oh. Em. Em. Eff. Gee!

Not to get all hysterical or anything, but I'm extremely excited by this news, to say the least. I haven't really had occasion to talk about them much yet, but Queens of the Stone Age is my favorite band, so any music news about their frontman/creative mastermind Josh Homme is going to pique my interest. If you throw in Dave Grohl and John Paul Jones (bassist for Led Zeppelin), I may get positively apoplectic. Well, let me introduce you to Them Crooked Vultures. This has been rumored for a while, but this is the first anyone's heard of an official name or website. I can't see how this would be bad, unless the three of them decided to go completely bonkers with experimentation. Mostly, though, these guys just like to rock, and I expect this supergroup of supergroups to blow me away. Somehow I think I'll be mentioning them on here again.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Wilco: Wilco (the album)

Call it Wilco week here at I Think It Has Something To Do With Oatmeal, as I'm bookending it with Jeff Tweedy and friends. Plus, I bet Christopher Lowell is a huge fan. Anyway, in my never ending quest for more content for all you lovely people, I'm going to start trying my hand at album reviews, both for new stuff and older gems I think everyone should hear. Stay tuned for the retro reviews, but this week I want to extoll the virtues of Wilco's latest effort.