Tuesday, September 9, 2008

TIFF: Finally!

I'm standing on the east side of Yonge St, half a block north of Queen St. Waiting in line to get into the Winter Garden theater to see "Synecdoche New York". There are two movies lining up; the other is Soderbergh's "Che", in the Elgin. There's another lineup for Visa cardholders, to get into the the Visa lounge beforehand. The irony of getting into the Visa lounge before "Che" is, no doubt, lost on most of these people.

On the sixth day of the festival, after seeing nearly two dozen movies, I finally saw an undeniably great movie. Finally!!! And that movie was, unsurprisingly, "The Wrestler". Darren Aronofsky adds another winner to his resume, even though it's a much smaller, more personal, movie than his last couple. He is, simply and truly, one of the greatest filmmakers working today.

The movie, however, belongs entirely to Mickey Rourke, in a performance that will generate tons of Oscar buzz. It's every bit as intense and physical - and brilliant -- a performance as De Niro's in "Raging Bull". Unforgettable.

Monday, September 8, 2008

TIFF: Restless

So although it's only Monday, I'm well past the halfway point of my fest. I'm about to see my 21st movie... and I finally get to sleep in tomorrow. The only way I could do the fest and not lose my mind entirely is to have a top-heavy schedule. My first four full days of festing had 5, 4, 5, and 6 movies. Tomorrow's a much lighter day, since I'm only seeing three movies. ("Only". No wonder normal people think us festers are nuts.

Oddly enough, though, I have yet to see a great film at the fest this year. I've seen some really good ones (including another Scandinavian one today, "Cold Lunch"), but nothing that's gotten me too excited. It's another reason I'm looking forward to tomorrow, since I'll be seeing both "Synecdoche New York" and "The Wrestler".

I had some great screenings over the weekend, including "Zack and Miri Make a Porno". The movie itself is a lot of fun, and easily among Kevin Smith's best, but the whole point of going to that movie was to see Smith himself. And boy does he give good Q and A. And Elizabeth Banks has a really dirty mouth, too.

Now I just need to find someone to practice the Double Dutch Rudder with.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

TIFF: Idiot Walk, Part 2

Quote of the night:

"Can't anyone in this party pull out of ANYTHING?"
- Bill Maher, in reference to Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin's pregnant teenage daughter.

"Religulous" was a hoot. Definitely controversial, but it also delivers the goods.

And here are a couple of shots of the protesters outside the Ryerson theater. There were about 10 of them, and they were there when I showed up about 90 min before the movie, and they were still there when the movie and Q/A ended, about 4 hours later. They're so cute; I wanted to walk up to them, pinch them on the cheeks, and say (in the voice I use when talking to my three-month-old niece Sawyer), "Who's protesting a movie? You are! Yes you are!"

(There was some debate in the lineup and in the theater as to whether the protesters were real, or if Maher and Larry Charles had staged the whole thing. Maher answered that question: "If we had hired them, they would have been a lot more creative!")



TIFF: Must-see

As if I weren't psyched enough for it, I see that Aronofsky's "The Wrestler" won the Golden Lion in Venice. Awesome. This should help redeem his reputation after it undeservedly took a hit after his misunderstood masterpiece "The Fountain" was released to tepid reviews two years ago. I'm seeing "The Wrestler" on Tuesday... can't wait!!

TIFF: Idiot Walk

Note to self: sending photos to the blog from my phone doesn't work well.

Y'all will just have to wait a few hours to see photos of the handful of protestors outside the Ryerson, where Religulous will be screening later tonight. They're so funny.

TIFF: About Horten

I mentioned that I have a thing for absurd Scandinavian comedies. "O'Horten" is a prime example why. Odd Horten (his name, but also an adjecrive that describes him) is a train engineer facing retirement, and trying to decide how to spend his remaining years. The movie's melancholy tone and subject matter are reminiscent of Alexander Payne'a great "About Schmidt", but the oddball characters are quintessential Scandinavians. The movie is directed by Bent Hamer (my new favorite name) and worth keeping an eye out for.

Friday, September 5, 2008

TIFF: The Axemen



Left to right: Thom Powers, TIFF documentary coordinator; Jack White; Jimmy Page; The Edge; producer Thomas Tull; director Davis Guggenheim; producer Lesley Chilcott.

From the premiere of the documentary "It Might Get Loud". The documentary itself was pretty good, but the screening and discussion afterwards were fantastic.

Now if only The Edge would get back to the goddam studio, so U2 can finish their new album.

TIFF: Your movie sucks

Toronto audiences are notoriously polite. Even after the worst movies, there's generally a smattering of applause. So I knew that one of the movies I saw today must have really sucked, because no one applauded when it was over. Although the fact that it was ovee should have inspired a bit of applause.

The movie in question is called "The Sky Crawlers", and it sounds really good on paper. It's a Japanese animated movie about young pilots fighting in WWII-type war. It's a beautifully animated movie, but absolutely deadly to watch.

My other movies today were much better, especially "Revanche", a terrific Austrian movie involving a cop, his wife, a criminal, and his illegal immigrant prostitute girlfriend. The movie zags when you expect it to zig, and it's nice to be kept off-balance.

Tonight: "It Might Get Loud". Bring it on!!

TIFF: Morning Bell

I keep forgetting that there is one serious drawback to my fest planning: I'm just not a morning person.

Here it is, only the first full day of screenings, and I'm already wishing I could just sleep in. Unfortunately, I won't get to sleep in until Tuesday, when my earliest movie is at noon.

Plus, I'm not a coffee drinker, so that's not helping.

But this is another reason I like to front-load my schedule... I'm usually fine for about five days, regardless of the number of movies I see. Once the middle of next week gets here, even the most exciting movies might not be enough to keep me awake.

Of course, if the movie's just bad, I appreciate the chance to nap.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

TIFF: Edison and Leo

The first movie I saw at TIFF 08 was a gem of a movie called "Edison and Leo". It's the first full-length stop-motion animated movie ever produced in Canada. The title characters are an inventor and his son, and the movie's plot involves a bizarre series of events that lead to Leo, the son, becoming electrified. The movie was co-written by George Toles, who often collaborates with the great Guy Maddin; "Edison and Leo" has the spirit of Maddin's work, which is a good thing, and not just because Maddin is absent this year. (He's had movies at the three previous TIFFs I've attended.)

Tomorrow brings the first full day of screenings. I've got five lined up... including what I hope will be a chance to get up close and personal with Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White at the guitar documentary "It Might Get Loud". With any luck, I'll have a chance to update the blog from my Samsung Instinct during the day, while I'm either standing in line or quickly wolfing down Teriyaki Experience. For now, I should attempt to get some sleep. You don't realize how exhausting it can be to watch movies until you try to watch 20 movies in a four-day period.

TIFF: Hello

Hello, Time of My Life readers.

Brian assures me he's got, like, millions of readers, so I'll shocked if my readership (of four) doesn't at least DOUBLE throughout the next week.

In his recent post discussing the evolution of TIFF, Brian makes some good points about the festival itself: yes, the business end of things has become very important. And more often than not, the movies that GET the gala spots don't actually DESERVE the gala spots. ("Ghost Town"? Really? I liked that movie ok the last time I saw it, when it was called "Heart and Souls" and starred Robert Downey Jr.)

But here's my dirty little secret: I LOVE that the galas are awful. Let the corporate honchos pay $40 for something I wouldn't even watch on an airplane, and the real film fans will be over *here*, watching the interesting movies.

This is the fourth year I've done TIFF, and if all goes according to plan, I will be seeing 35 movies by the end of the festival. Some of the movies are higher profile movies - I can't wait for Aronofsky's "The Wrestler" or Kaufman's "Synecdoche New York" - but of course I'll also be seeing my share of random, offbeat, foreign movies. I've got a thing for absurd Scandinavian comedies, so expect to be hearing about a few of them. I do not, however, have a thing for social-realist European dramas, so I doubt you'll be hearing about any of them. Unless the fest's guide really misled me on some titles.

Now I think it helps to know what types of movies I like, in order to compare my opinions to yours. I know that I respect the opinions of certain critics (like Owen Gleiberman in the increasingly trashy EW) because I tend to agree with them. (Whereas others, I often disagree with, like Ebert. Yet I always read Ebert, because I find him thoroughly entertaining.) So, to properly place my opinions in context, here's a list of some of my many favorite movies.

Nashville (the greatest movie ever made), The Searchers, Cabaret, The Lady Eve, The Shop Around the Corner, The Passion of Joan of Arc, Jules and Jim, Aguirre the Wrath of God, Some Like It Hot, A Fish Called Wanda, Aliens, Short Cuts, Toy Story.

I think The Godfather Part 2, Citizen Kane, and Singin' in the Rain are good, but overrated.

I think that the best directors working today are David Lynch, Alfonso Cuaron, Darren Aronofsky, and Steven Spielberg. I have very little, hardly any, use for non-narrative cinema.

I think that, as good as Atom Egoyan and David Cronenberg can be, Guy Maddin is the greatest Canadian director.

Brian would describe my music taste as "MOR". (Not that I'm still bitter about that, Brian.) U2, REM, PJ Harvey, Radiohead, Springsteen, 1972-and-earlier Rolling Stones. I think REM's "Automatic for the People" is the greatest album ever made, and I think Arcade Fire is the best band in the world today.

Some TV: anything by Joss Whedon. The Office, 30 Rock, Mad Men. I think The Wire is the greatest thing ever produced for television. I watch Lost, but I've always thought it was terribly overrated.

One other note about this blog: I started it as a way of keeping track of my attempt to listen to everything on my iPod, including lots of terribly embarrassing stuff. The name of the blog is a reference to a certain lyric in a certain song that really exemplified what the blog was to be about. Then I got super-busy at work, and that project (and the blog in general) got put on the back burner over the summer. Now that fall is here, I expect to be much more actively blogging. If you like what you read, or if I say something that pisses you off, I hope you'll stick around.

Monday, September 1, 2008

TIFF: Line up in line is all I remember

It's Labour Day morning, and for film festers, this usually means standing in lines. The first lineup is for picking up the ticket orders that got processed over the weekend, and this line moves pretty quickly. But the second lineup - at the box office, trying to use up unused tickets - is long and moves slowly. Seriously, it's not uncommon to spend ALL DAY trying to get shit taken care of.

But because we did so well in the random draw on Friday, there was no great need for us to pick up the tickets today. I've still got two tickets to try to use, and I might move some stuff around in an attempt to get into the other "Synecdoche New York" screening (or I might hope tickets become available for the one I tried to get into)... but it's just not worth the hassle of waiting around in line.

So I think I might go see "Man on Wire" this afternoon. Because god knows I'm not going to be seeing enough movies on this trip.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

TIFF: The results

Well, we did really well in the order processing.

The three of us had orders for 115 movies, and we actually got 112 of them. Unfortunately, I didn't get 2 out of the 3 of those... including one that near the top of my must-see list, Charlie Kaufman's "Synecdoche New York". I'm going to spend some time today rejiggering the schedule, since there are also a few titles I got that I'm not sure I want to see anymore.

Off to see Avenue Q this afternoon. I saw it in NYC last November, and can't wait to see it again. Back with more on TIFF later today.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

TIFF: And so it begins...

So here I sit in the Calgary airport, awaiting my flight to Toronto for this year's film fest. I won't get to post this to the blog until I arrive in Toronto, so this is technically a message from the past. Spooooooooooky!

This will be the fourth straight year that I've attended TIFF, and it's a lot of fun. It's one of the most important festivals in the world, but unlike the other majors (Cannes, Sundance, Venice, New York) TIFF is very public-friendly. Altogether, there are over 300 titles, and multiple screenings of each. (Usually 2 or 3.) The screenings are held in various venues in downtown Toronto, all within maybe a 20-minute walk of each other. Screenings start at 9 am, and run throughout the day, including midnight screenings of assorted genre pics.

Of course, because Toronto's got a great reputation as a public-friendly film festival, demand for tickets generally exceeds supply. (Except during daytime screenings during the week, which is when I tend to watch a bunch of movies.) But the TIFF folks actually have a pretty good process in place, which is likely as fair as it could possibly be.

Early July: tickets go onsale. There are assorted packs available, including a 50-movie Festival Pass for the truly hardcore. And while it's physically possible to see 50 movies throught the 10 days of the fest, I know my limits. I start going a little funny in the head sometime around 30. The last three years, I've bought a Daytime pass (good for 25 movies starting at 5 pm or earlier) and a 10-coupon Book (good for 10 movies anytime). This definitely works for me, and is also the cheapest option for that many movies.

Aug 19: The complete film list was posted on the fest website. Assorted press releases in the weeks leading up to this date gave us information about some titles that would be screening, but having the full list really gives us the chance to figure out the movies we want to see, the movies we might see, depending on the schedule, and the movies we want to avoid. It's a curious process, especially for some high-profile movies: do I try to get tickets to movies that I'll get to see in a few weeks anyway, or should I try for some more obscure titles that sound potentially interesting? I try to balance it out, and attend a few high-profile titles, especially if the director and cast will be in attendance. I've also got a thing for absurd Scandinavian comedies, so I always try to keep track of those titles.

Aug 26: The complete schedule is released, at which point all hell breaks loose. Between Tuesday morning and Friday at 1 pm, we need to plot out a first draft of the schedule and drop it off at the box office. The process of drafting a schedule can take a couple of hours (me), or a day and a half (my friend Steve). But, even if later buzz makes you want to remove some movies and add others, that's no big deal. Even if screenings are sold out, tickets generally become available. THE hottest ticket last year was Ang Lee's "Lust, Caution", which I didn't get into but Steve did. I considered just camping out at the box office and asking them "Are any Lust, Caution tickets available? How about now? How about now?" but I decided against it.

Aug 29, 1 pm: the random draw occurs. I need to explain one other thing: when you drop off the order envelope at the box office, it gets put into a box. The box has a number; altogether, this year there were 78 boxes. They randomly draw a starting box (this year: 9), and then process the boxes sequentially from there (9, 10, 11... 77, 78, 1, 2, ... 8). We were in box 41, which places us comfortably in the top half of the order processing.

Sidenote: a couple of years ago, I had what I thought was a moment of genius re how to maximize our chances for a particular screening. Because you could purchase multiple tickets to a movie with the 10-Coupon book (and the now-defunct 30-Coupon book), I filled out my order ASAP to get into a low-numbered box, and Steve dropped his off as usual on Friday, and each of our orders had two tickets to this movie. This gave us a good split in the processing, and based on the random draw, I got two tickets to the movie, and Steve didn't. The movie in question: Guy Maddin't silent extravaganza "Brand Upon the Brain!", featuring live narration, foley artists, and a castrato. Most of the rest of the audience had no idea what they were in for, but Steve and I loved it.

So, the orders are currently being processed. I'm expecting an email some time today, with the details of what movies I got and what I didn't. (Let me check now... brb...) Nope, nothing yet. It'll likely be in my inbox when I get off my flight.

Back with more details about certain titles once I get the (fingers crossed) good news.

Friday, August 8, 2008

This is only a test

Attempting to post via email from my Samsung Instinct. That is all.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Oh MERYL

Some thoughts on the worst movie of the summer, "Mamma Mia":

- Do we like ABBA just for the songs, or also for the recordings? The arrangements and instrumentations, and the multi-tracked vocals contribute as much or more to the songs' brilliance than simply the melodies, choruses, and lyrics. The songs do hold up, even when being "sung" by some of the cast members here, but some of the magic is missing. (Contrast with, say, the songs of Leonard Cohen. Listen to kd lang or Jeff Buckley covering "Hallelujah" -- they simply transport the song to a level that Cohen simply couldn't on his own.)

- The stage is far more forgiving of a story with this plot than the screen is. On stage, "Mamma Mia!" is a completely joyous experience, a concert of some of the best pop songs ever written with a few story threads running through it. On screen, the story's narrative problems are accentuated -- the fact that the movie actually removes scenes that contribute to character development only makes things worse. The movie never really establishes any connection between Skarsgard's Bill and Walters' Rosie, or between Baranski's Tanya and Pepper the bartender. So there's really no oomph when those pairs of characters get their big numbers ("Take a Chance on Me" and "Does Your Mother Know", respectively).

- Director Phyllida Lloyd stages the musical numbers almost completely without imagination ("Money Money Money"), or just bizarrely (why ARE Walters and Skarsgard crawling across a rooftop?). My favorite ABBA song and my favorite number from the stage show is "Does Your Mother Know". The original song is a bit creepy, what with the male singers flirting with a much younger woman. But the instrumentation, with its horns and piano, is the closest thing ABBA came to writing a Stones song. In the musical, Tanya, the maneater, sings the song to Pepper, the flirty bartender, as a way of showing how far out of his depth Pepper is.

- For a bunch of Greek boys running around without shirts, they certainly are a hairless bunch. Maybe Pierce Brosnan had a clause in his contract saying that his chest had to be the hairiest on screen.

- I didn't think I would ever say this about a movie musical based on ABBA songs, but the movie's simply not gay enough. Where's the playful shots of well-built guys, their torsos glistening in the sunlight? The movie's in such a hurry to tell its story (not realizing that the story is actually the least interesting part) that it never takes time to enjoy itself.

- As for the setting, even sun-drenched Greek islands get bored after a while. The climactic wedding sequence takes place at a church so remote that even Werner Herzog would dismiss its location as "too remote".

- And when, exactly, is the movie set? It would seem to be present-day, based on the comments about Sky creating a website for Donna's crumbling hotel. And yet, the flashbacks to 20 years ago actually refer to the characters as, I think, flower children... although that may just be the lyrics of one of the songs. And Brosnan's Sam mentions that he's got "two grown children", even though Sophie herself is only 20 years old, and Sam was childless but engaged when he and Donna met 21 years earlier. Still, it's best not to expend too much energy worrying about something that the film-makers obviously didn't care about.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mental Image of the Day


From an article in the Calgary Herald:

Julie Wright has seen dog feces, used needles and condoms walking to work from her Bankview home.

Ahem. Grammar much?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Kim!

From my hometown newspaper, apparently Elisha Cuthbert enjoys the quiet pace of PEI, which she's currently visiting with boyfriend Dion Phaneuf. Says Cuthbert: "You’ve got everything here. You have water, you have golf, you have fishing, you have great food. It’s just a beautiful place."

No mention, unfortunately, of PEI's biggest selling point: a refreshing lack of mountain, and therefore a refreshing lack of mountain lions.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ten by Ten

Tonight, CBS aired the latest of its AFI "Top 100" lists. A bit different this year -- they counted down the top ten American movies in each of ten different genres. And while I freely acknowledge that such a list is, as always, complete bullshit... well, that doesn't stop me from having an opinion on them.


Animated
10. Finding Nemo
9. Cinderella
8. Shrek
7. Beauty and the Beast
6. Toy Story
5. Fantasia
4. The Lion King
3. Bambi
2. Pinocchio
1. Snow White and the Seven Drawfs

As expected, it's largely the Disney canon. (The rules of the list process limit it to American movies, so that excludes Miyazaki or "The Triplets of Belleville".) No major complaints; I'd have "Toy Story" at the top of my list, and my second Pixar movie would be "The Incredibles", not "Finding Nemo".

Fantasy
10. Big
9. The Thief of Bagdad (1924)
8. Groundhog Day
7. Harvey
6. Field of Dreams
5. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
4. King Kong (1933)
3. It's a Wonderful Life
2. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
1. The Wizard of Oz

Tough one. A really broad category, since it includes both "It's a Wonderful Life" and LOTR. Should Cuaron's "A Little Princess" be classified as fantasy? If so, it's every bit as good as "The Wizard of Oz". (Yeah, I said it.)

Sci-Fi
10. Back to the Future
9. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
8. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
7. Alien
6. Blade Runner
5. The Day the Earth Stood Still
4. A Clockwork Orange
3. ET
2. Star Wars
1. 2001

I can't really argue with much of this list. I'd personally pick "The Terminator" and "Aliens", and likely "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" over "ET" if I could only have one Spielberg.

Sports
10. Jerry Maguire
9. National Velvet
8. Breaking Away
7. Caddyshack
6. The Hustler
5. Bull Durham
4. Hoosiers
3. The Pride of the Yankees
2. Rocky
1. Raging Bull

"Tin Cup" really really REALLY should be on this list. I'm not sure if I've seen too many movies that are more overrated than "Rocky". And I know it's heresy, but I prefer "The Color of Money" to "The Hustler". I've also not a huge "Raging Bull" fan, but... fine.

If you're going to count pool as a sport so you can put "The Hustler" on the list, then I sure as hell can put cheerleading ("Bring it On"), bowling "Kingpin"), or poker ("Rounders") on mine.

Western
10. Cat Ballou
9. Stagecoach
8. McCabe & Mrs. Miller
7. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
6. The Wild Bunch
5. Red River
4. Unforgiven
3. Shane
2. High Noon
1. The Searchers

What, no "Johnny Guitar"? (I'm kidding.) (Sort of.) Still, I'm impressed that they remembered Robert Altman, a director who's been notoriously absent from most of these lists. On the plus side: no "Dances With Wolves".

Gangster
10. Scarface (1983)
9. Little Caesar
8. The Public Enemy
7. Pulp Fiction
6. Scarface (1932)
5. Bonnie and Clyde
4. White Heat
3. The Godfather Part 2
2. GoodFellas
1. The Godfather

Fine. I still haven't seen either "Scarface", or "Little Caesar", but I can't really complain about the other 7 titles. I'm not the hugest fan of Coppola's Godfather movies, particularly the second one

Mystery
10. The Usual Suspects
9. Dial "M" for Murder
8. Blue Velvet
7. North by Northwest
6. The Maltese Falcon
5. The Third Man
4. Laura
3. Rear Window
2. Chinatown
1. Vertigo

Omigod, do I hate "The Usual Suspects". But apart from that (and possibly "Dial M For Murder"), you really can't argue with this list. There's a handful of the greatest movies of all time, right there. (I'd also include Lynch's "Mulholland Drive". Not to take anything away from "Blue Velvet" of course, but MD is one of the very few greatest movies ever made.)

Romantic Comedy
10. Sleepless in Seattle
9. Harold and Maude
8. Moonstruck
7. Adam's Rib
6. When Harry Met Sally...
5. The Philadelphia Story
4. Roman Holiday
3. It Happened One Night
2. Annie Hall
1. City Lights

Whoa. No Preston Sturges, no Ernst Lubitsch, no Billy Wilder. TWO screenplays by Nora Ephron, but no Sturges or Lubitsch or Wilder? For shame! (On the plus side, they picked the best Tracy/Hepburn movie with "Adam's Rib".)

Courtroom Drama
10. Judgment at Nuremberg
9. A Cry in the Dark
8. In Cold Blood
7. Anatomy of a Murder
6. Witness for the Prosecution
5. A Few Good Men
4. The verdict
3. Kramer vs Kramer
2. 12 Angry Men
1. To Kill a Mockingbird

Um... "Inherit the Wind"?

Epics
10. The Ten Commandments (1956)
9. Reds
8. Saving Private Ryan
7. All Quiet on the Western Front
6. Titanic
5. Spartacus
4. Gone With the Wind
3. Schindler's List
2. Ben-Hur
1. Lawrence of Arabia

... fine. I'd prefer "The Bridge on the River Kwai" as a Lean picture, but for such an eclectic category, this is a pretty good list.


Read the full post.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Shades of Grey

So Katherine Heigl is in the news again, this time for removing her name for Emmy consideration. The "Grey's Anatomy" star says: "I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination and in an effort to maintain the integrity of the academy organization."

People are, naturally, frothing at the mouth about this. Heigl has established a reputation of being outspoken, a bit of a pill; she's also had some choice words about her big-screen breakthrough "Knocked Up" (calling it "a little sexist"). Previously, she'd used her powers for good, saying that former Grey's costar Isiah Washington "needs to not talk in public" after the whole TR Knight / Patrick Dempsey / "faggot" episode.

And while her words may have been a bit indelicate, they shouldn't hide one simple fact: Heigl is right.

Her character, Izzie Stevens, had an awful AWFUL year, dating back to late-season 3, when she all of a sudden developed a mad crush on her married best friend George. George/Izzie as a couple made sense to NO ONE who watches Grey's Anatomy, and it was perhaps the primary reason why the show's fourth season suffered in quality. Fortunately, by the end of the season, the relationship was long dead, and Izzie had finally returned to being the likable no-nonsense character we'd known in the show's first couple of seasons. (Grey's itself had a tremendous resurgence post-strike, and it looks to be on track for a terrific fifth season.)

Heigl's win last year was a huge surprise; she was nominated against two of her superlative co-stars, Sandra Oh and Chandra Wilson, AND the brilliant Lorraine Bracco and Aida Turturro from "The Sopranos". (Also Rachel Griffiths from "Brothers and Sisters", which I've only seen a couple of times.) Heigl herself was shocked at her win, as she should have been -- LOOK AT THAT LIST. I like Heigl, but there's no comparison.

I also love that Heigl is outspoken. She even corrected the Emmys announcer when she mispronounced "Heigl" when presenting an award. She's not a shy wallflower-type, and that may be why people are turned off by her comments. If you believe the cynics, it may simply be an attempt to get out of her contract, but that doesn't make her comments any less true.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"And I want a million dollars..."

So, since posting yesterday's complaint about the TIFF website, I see they've updated it with info, stating that it will be updated at the end of the month. And, this morning, Coldplay has reshuffled their tour, and they're now NOT coming to Calgary at the end of the month. With this, and my earlier sports predictions, apparently I'm a jinx. I've already learned not to make sports predictions (on that note, should I then officially cheer for Tiger at the US Open?), so maybe I should stop talking about all future events altogether, and just focus on stuff I've done.

Now I've just got to start doing stuff, in order to have stuff to write about.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Catching up...

And because I've been super-lazy the last couple of weeks, here's a brief post touching on a bunch of topics:

1. I go through phases where I'll read, like, 10 books in two months and then nothing for the rest of the year. And this is one of those busy-reading phases... more specifically, it's an Ian McEwan phase. I read Atonement last fall, before the movie came out, and in the last two weeks I've read "On Chesil Beach" and his brilliant Booker-winning "Amsterdam". I'm currently reading "Enduring Love"; "Saturday" and "Black Dogs" are on deck.
2. I also read Julie Andrews' memoir "Home", which I loved. I particularly liked her thoughts on her voice and her singing lessons; since I can hit precisely one note when I sing (the note of the long second syllable in the word "complain", leading into the chorus of "Friends in Low Places"), I find it fascinating, if a little abstract, to hear someone talk about how they developed and maintained their instrument.
3. I've also been going through a bit of a Broadway phase... using youtube to track down some classic clips. This, from the Tony Awards a few years back (which I wish I'd seen), is particularly cool (it may take a while to load, but it's totally worth it):



4. I also discovered that Corey Reynolds, whom I love from his work on "The Closer", originated the role of Seaweed in "Hairspray" on Broadway. I'd LOVE to see a clip of him performing "Run and Tell That".
5. Why the HELL hasn't the Toronto Film Festival website been updated for 2008 yet? It's less than three months away!
6. Downloaded the new Coldplay album this weekend. And it sounds like nothing they've done before. Early standouts: "Lovers in Japan" and "Strawberry Swing". They're in Calgary at the end of July; can't wait to see them live again.
7. I've been getting caught up with "Psych" on DVD. Great, great show! Unfortunately, it (like Burn Notice and The Closer) isn't airing on a Canadian station, so it's looking like it'll be a summer of torrents for me.
8. I'm TOTALLY buying an iPhone next month. The Wii can wait.

Friday, May 30, 2008

If I'm to be your camera...

Here are a few photos from the REM concert in Vancouver, May 23 2008.










Opening act 1, The National. They kick all sorts of ass:

... and, of course, the collection of dinosaurs:



Read the full post.

Chorus and the Ring

Well, now that I've finally found the goddam cable that connects my camera to my computer (it was in a box with assorted audio/video cables, including approximately 50 feet of coax cable. God.), I can finally upload some photos I took (soon), and the video of the gorgeous acoustic version of Monster's "Let Me In". You can see how great my spot right in front of the stage was. I missed about the first 30 seconds of the song, because I'm an idiot. But here's the rest:

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Broadcast Me a Joyful Noise

Just got back from the fantastic REM / The National / Modest Mouse concert at Deer Lake Park in Burnaby. It's a gorgeous venue, if not exactly the most accessible. (Not as bad as Thunderbird stadium at UBC, though.) This was the third time I've seen REM... I don't think this show offered any revelations for me, but it didn't change my opinion that they are one great fucking rock and roll band.

For the second time at an REM show, I was pretty much in the front row. (And given that, at the third show, I was in the 10th row, that's a pretty great track record.) I managed to get some great photos... which I would have posted with this item if I'd remembered to bring my camera-to-computer cable with me to Vancouver. Oh well... when I get home.

I arrived at Deer Lake Park sometime around 4:45, made my way thru the slow-moving line to get into the venue by around 5:15. This venue's a huge general admission amphitheater setup, so most of the people already there were lounging on blankets or in the beer tent or what have you. A small cluster of folks were gathering at the stage, so of course I joined them. And proceeded to stand on the same spot for pretty much the next five hours. And my back and legs will, I'm sure, be sore for days.

The National appears on stage earlier than I expected -- a bit before 6. Actually, I expected them much later, since I just assumed it would be Modest Mouse first. (I think I just expected the acts to appear in the order in which I was interested.) The National tore thru about 10-12 songs, mainly from Boxer and Alligator, and they're terrific live. Watching them perform, rather than just listening to their albums, I see that the Arcade Fire comparisons actually make a bit of sense, in how they attack the songs and the instruments. Singer Matt Berninger's a little too introverted, though. As I'd hoped, "Abel" and "Mr. November" kicked all sorts of ass live.

Modest Mouse were... well, they weren't as bad as I'd expected. In my head, I'd lumped them together with bands like Death Cab For Cutie, but they're a lot more energetic and feisty (as opposed to Feisty) than that. I actually recognized a couple of the songs, which I wasn't expecting.

REM took the stage just before 8, and (as I expected they would) ripped into the opening track of their fantastic latest album Accelerate, "Living Well's the Best Revenge". Over the next two hours, they played another 7 tracks from Accelerate, and about 17 songs from throughout their brilliant career. Some titles: "Electrolite." "Sweetness Follows." "Country Feedback." "Disturbance at the Heron House." They even went as far back as their first couple of records, pleasing some of their longtime fans... "Time after Time (Annelise)" and "Second Guessing" and "West of the Fields" and "Gardening at Night". Fucking GARDENING AT NIGHT, people. That makes up for the fact that they didn't do anything from Lifes [sic] Rich Pageant.

They even did an acoustic version of "Let Me In", which I've got some video footage of. I hope the footage turned out; I'll post it, if it did.

In Rolling Stone's review of Accelerate, David Fricke alludes to the two different REMs of the last decade: the one that made the (subdued, reflective, experimental) albums, and the one that rocked like nobody's business in concert. It simply took Accelerate (an album they really, really needed to make) to help most people realize that they're still the best American rock and roll band in the business. (Who's their competition? Seriously, I'm asking.)

And DAMN do those Accelerate tracks sounds great live!

Read the full post.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Heading West

Well - that unannounced hiatus lasted longer than the planned couple of days.

My brother was in town last week, and I spent some time entertaining him. Good time. Then the long weekend happened, and I spent the entire weekend doing sweet fuck all. I didn't even see a movie. Well, I did hang out with friends, had a barbeque and played their Wii. I MUST BUY A WII.

And now I'm off to Vancouver for the weekend. I'm really looking forward to it; I haven't been to Vancouver in about 2 years. I spent most of 1999 (and about half of 2001) in Vancouver, and although I have no interest in living there again, I love going back for visits. It's a beautiful city; I just can't wait to walk around downtown, hop on the ferry to North Van, come back downtown and wander up Granville Street, visit the gay village, and walk the seawall along English Bay. One of my favorite spots in Canada is the hill by the beach overlooking English Bay and Stanley Park and the islands. I could just sit there for hours. And have.

I'm also going to try and visit my Vietnamese girlfriend. When I lived there, I frequented a Vietnamese joint at the food court at the Pacific Centre, and I got the same thing pretty much every time. One of the staff there started referring to me as her boyfriend, and would recognize me every time I'd come back, even months or years later. I don't think I've seen her since some time in 2005, though, so I'm sure she's long forgotten me by now.

The main reason for the trip to Vancouver at this particular point in time is the REM concert on Friday night. I've been a huge fan of REM for a long, long time, and I've had the pleasure of seeing them live a couple of times already. There a phenomenal live band, and their brilliant new album Accelerate ought to translate well to a live setting. Opening for REM are Modest Mouse (meh) and The National. A friend of mine, the unrivalled King J, had recommended The National to me over a year ago, as a band he'd admired since their debut. (He's a rock journalist, and knows whereof he speaks.)

And because I've been getting into The National lately, I've kept the iPod Project on hold for an extra couple of weeks. I've spent much of my spare time listening to some new (and new-to-me) music lately: The National's Alligator and Boxer. Madonna's new album Hard Candy (which took a long time to grow on me). Duffy's Rockferry. And Robyn's new album Robyn. (Remember her? "Show Me Love"? Her new album's fantastic.)

And I'm about to start listening to Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago, after reading two recommendations of it, from my friend Brian and from the inimitable former Miss Alli at TWoP, Linda Holmes at Things What Things. But soon: I've got thousands of crappy songs on my iPod that I've got to get back to!

Coming soon: A full review (hopefully with pics) of the National/REM show!!!

Fastlove

Um, did they just make the gay stripper say the line about being "bold and naked by your side" in the Father Figure portion of the George Michael medley on the American Idol finale?

Well then. Carry on.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Don't Forget the Lyrics!



This was a lot of fun.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Primary Colors

So I was doing the dishes tonight, grooving to the Hairspray soundtrack. (Oh, shut up. It's awesome and you know it.) And while "The Legend of Miss Baltimore Crabs" was playing, it occurred to me: omigod, Hillary Clinton is Velma Von Tussle!



No really. Velma's all about the shameless self-promotion, even going so far as to use questionable techniques in an election (stuffing the ballot box in the Miss Teenage Hairspray for her daughter; screwing the judges in her own Miss Baltimore Crabs pageant years earlier). And no one really likes her.

And then, while listening to the fantastic "Run and Tell That", it occurred to me: Barack Obama is Seaweed J Stubbs. Both are charismatic black men of the next generation who were raised by single mothers. And, since Michelle Obama isn't white, that's pretty much all I got by way of comparison.

Still, one of Seaweed's lyrics seems to work in this analogy as well:

I can't see
The reason it can't be
The kind of world where we all get our chance
The time is now!
And we can show 'em how
Just turn the music up and let's all dance!



I tried to carry the Hairspray analogy further, but then had a bit of cognitive dissonance, because John Travolta already basically played Bill Clinton, so let's just leave it at that.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

No Sweat, Part 2

So the city-wide hunt for a new anti-perspirant might be over. I've tried three different products over the last 10 days, and I think I might have found an adequate replacement for my longtime choice. Here's the rundown.

1. Degree Ultra Clear Cool Rush. Not a bad scent. It's one of those supposedly "clear" solids that nevertheless makes it look like you've got pit dandruff hours after putting it on. I HATE white flakes on my pits. God.

2. Right Guard Spray. Not bad. I accidentally grabbed the "scented" rather than unscented one, and holy hell does it have a strong scent. Still, I'm not really a fan of spray-on anti-perspirants, if only because I'm simply not that coordinated with my left hand. PLUS, it leaves a white flaky residue. More pit dandruff - argh!

3. Gillette Power Beads Clear Gel Cool Wave. Basically, this is as close as I could possibly get to my old favorite. Same brand, same scent, different form. The gel goes on surprisingly well, and doesn't take long to dry at all. It's a bit messy (just a bit), but not enough to drive me to any of the alternatives.

At least I don't have to try Tag Body Spray for Sick Cats. (And I would totally provide a link so that comment would make sense, if FOX weren't such assholes about youtube, or if I could access Hulu in Canada.)

So now that this issue of utmost importance has been settled, we now return to our regularly scheduled pop culture ranting.

iPod Project: Reconsidering How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb

So I've kinda put the iPod Project on hold over the last couple of weeks. I'll get back to it soon, but I wanted to spend some time acquainting myself with The National before the REM concert in Vancouver in two weeks. And I wanted to spend some time with the new Madonna album (which has gradually grown on me -- but it's not as good as Confessions on a Dancefloor).

I've also been spending some time with a couple of old favorites. I recently saw Young@Heart (more on that soon), and that's made me want to listen to Coldplay's X&Y. (Plus, their imminent new album has gotten me in a Coldplay state of mind.) I also finally had the chance to see U2 3D a few weeks back (ten-second judgment: great filmmaking, ok set list that would have been better if it had been the full-length concert).

But seeing U2 3D has led me to revisit U2's last album, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. I was hard on it when it first came out, and I still don't think it stands up to their best work... but it's got more highlights than I initially gave it credit for.

I really like "Vertigo" -- it's a great way to start the album, and it's got one of the greatest riffs The Edge has ever come up with. I don't like "Miracle Drug", and "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" is a great bridge in search of a worthy song. "Love and Peace Or Else" is a song I made fun of for the longest time, and I think it's still a bit of a mess, but it is better than I first gave it credit for.

Things pick up with "City of Blinding Lights", one of those big sweeping "Streets"-like epics that keep me coming back. "All Because of You" is a lot of fun, even if Bono cribbed the "choice"/"voice" couplet from Leonard Cohen and that he's likely singing about God, not a woman.

I still hate "A Man and a Woman". "Crumbs From Your Table" is ok, but I still hate the line "Where you live should not decide whether you live or whether you die". "One Step Closer" is just kinda... there. It doesn't really build to anything. It's a bit of a shrug.

And then: "Original of the Species". This is the best song on the album, period. One of my favorite Bono lines ever is "I want the light of what you got, and I want nothing that you're not." My favorite moment on the album is this song's bridge - Bono has no words for his joy, and all he can come up with is a string of "doo"s. (It must be something special if BONO of all people is speechless.) The album proper closes with "Yahweh", which I find profoundly humanistic, even if it's a conversation between Bono and God. (Some copies of the album, including mine, have a bonus track: "Fast Cars", which in an earlier incarnation was "Xanax and Wine", and it's a fun track.)

So, long story short (too late), time has been kind to How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. And I can't wait to hear what they come up with for their new album, due out by the end of the year.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

4 Games to 1



Na na na na...
Na na NA NA...
HEY - EEEYYY - EEEEYYYYYYY!
GOOD-BYE!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

I recently stumbled across an old episode of Cheers. It was a show I watched regularly in high school, starting around the time Shelley Long left. The ep I saw recently was featured both Diane and Coach, so it was well before my time.

Anyway, Diane was telling Coach about Thoreau's "Walden", and she quotes from the text.

Diane: In the midst of this chopping sea of civilized life, such are the clouds and storms and quicksands and thousand-and-one items to be allowed for, that a man has to live, if he would not and go to the bottom and not make his port at all, by dead reckoning, and he must be a great calculator indeed who succeeds. Simplify, simplify.

Coach: Why did he say "Simplify" twice?

Not necessarily the funniest joke, but it still made me laugh.

Anyway, I was thinking about this scene when I was packing up for the move to Calgary. I got rid of so much stuff: All my CDs, almost all my kitchen stuff, a bunch of clothes. I even let my magazine subscriptions expire. I'd been a subscriber to Entertainment Weekly, off and on, since the magazine debuted. It's still one of my main resources for movie reviews, because (as I've previously discussed), Owen Gleiberman is the film critic whose opinion best matches mine.

But with the internet, I get to see Owen's new reviews every Wednesday. And, for some reason, it would take FOREVER for the latest issue to reach Calgary. If an issue of EW appears on newsstands in Toronto (and Vancouver) on Friday, it's not until the following Tuesday - ELEVEN DAYS LATER - that it appears in Calgary (on newsstands, and in mailboxes). For a weekly magazine, that's a concern. And considering Calgary is Canada's fourth largest (and, right now, likely most important) city, it's just inexplicable.

So anyway, I was hoping that the magazine distribution had improved in the couple of years since I left. And, alas, it has not. I hadn't bought any issues since moving back to Calgary, but I wanted to pick up the Summer Movie Preview, because I like their preview double issues. And I knew it appeared in other cities almost two weeks ago now... and when did it show up here? YESTERDAY. Gack.

On the plus side, it's looking like it could be a fun summer at the movies. Wall-E. Hamlet 2. Shyamalan's The Happening. Indy 4. Mamma Mia. It's all good!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Snap Judgment: "Violet Hill"

Today, Coldplay released a preview of the first single from their upcoming fourth album. The album has the unfortunate title Viva La Vida, Or Death And All His Friends.

I've been a fan of Coldplay since a friend encouraged me to buy their debut album Parachutes when it was released stateside in late 2000. And while I acknowledge that the band can be a little...um... obvious with the emotions (cf., "Fix You", which I love but would never defend), I think many people miss that the band has a bit of an edge.

Thus far, their masterpiece is A Rush of Blood To The Head, their amazing second album, released in 2002. And it's got some dark songs on it: the thrilling, almost amelodic opener "Politik", the surprisingly aggressive "God Put A Smile Upon Your Face", and the amazing title track, which is still their best song. (Even 2005's X&Y was not without its dark moments, on songs like "White Shadows" and "Low" and "Twisted Logic".) Basically, if all you know of Coldplay is "Fix You" and "Yellow", that's not the full picture of what the band's about. (Not to take anything away from "Yellow", which still gives me goose bumps.)

So what's up for the fourth album? There are rumors of Spanish influences, although I don't expect them to be as blatant as they are in, say, Madonna's work. If "Violet Hill" is any indication, the band has not forgotten "dark", that's for sure.

There's a driving piano, which definitely sounds like it came from the same band that wrote "Politik"; there's some nice guitar work, and really interesting percussion. Best of all, there's not much falsetto. (Not that I'm opposed to ALL Chris Martin falsettos, but he did seem to be relying on it an awful lot, last time around.)

The best thing about "Violet Hill", for me, is that I can't wait to hear what the rest of the album sounds like. Two months to go!

Monday, April 28, 2008

iPod Project, Day 95

In which Randy experiments with moving beyond his "white guys with guitars, or Madonna" range of his music collection.

Most of my listening experiments with techno occurred in the late-90s, which got me thinking. Were there any key rock albums released in the late-90s? Between, say, "OK Computer" in summer 97, and "All That You Can't Leave Behind" in October 2000? Most of my favorite artists were going thru assorted phases in the late-90s. U2 released Pop, which landed with a thud; Radiohead retreated into the studio and emerged with Kid A, easily the weirdest album to debut at #1 on the charts. REM, dealing with the retirement of Bill Berry, released Up, a really good album but hardly a rocking one. Springsteen was MIA. PJ Harvey released Is This Desire, a notably electronic (but also brilliant) departure from her earlier albums. Beck released the very mellow Mutations. Liz Phair released her great album whitechocolatespaceegg, which I still adore but it hardly set the culture on fire.

Really, it wasn't until 2000-2001, with U2's return and then the explosion of bands like The Strokes and The White Stripes that rock music really made a comeback. Hunh.

Anyway...

It was a bit of a slow week, because I've been listening to the new Madonna album , which has taken some time to sink in, but it's pretty fab.

Chemical Brothers, Dig Your Own Hole
Chemical Brothers, Surrender
DYOH is, 11 years later, still an incredible album. "Block Rockin' Beats" is one of those legendary late-90s songs that's held up remarkably well. "Setting Sun" features Noel Gallagher and sounds like "Tomorrow Never Knows", so even when he's not with Oasis, Noel can't help but sound like The Beatles. The album ends brilliantly with "Where Do I Begin" and "The Private Psychedelic Reel"... and if you'd told me I'd love a song called "The Private Psychedelic Reel" I'd be convinced you were crazy.
Surrender isn't as good, but it does feature a couple of killer tracks: "Hey Boy Hey Girl" and "Let Forever Be" (again, with Noel Gallagher).

Underworld, Beaucoup Fish
I picked this one up when it came out back in 99. There didn't seem to be much in the way of interesting rock music coming out that year (until Beck's underrated Midnite Vultures that fall), and this album got raves, and I loved "Born Slippy" in Trainspotting, so it was a natural purchase for me to make.

Fatboy Slim, You've Come A Long Way, Baby!
"Rockafeller Skank" rocks, and always will. "Praise You" is also legendary, and not just for its genius Spike Jonze-directed video. I also like "Soul Surfing".

Massive Attack, Blue Lines
It wasn't until years after this 1990 album came out that I actually picked it up. I'm sure I saw it on a "You must own all these albums!" list somewhere, at some point, which prompted the purchase. Never listened to it til now. I can see how it's a seminal work in its genre... but it's just not for me.

Daft Punk, Homework
"Da Funk" and "Around the World" hit it big when I was working at a dance club. And they're still pretty cool, but I really don't why I bothered buying the damn album.

Basement Jaxx, Rooty
Another of those albums I bought and doubt I ever listened to. It was part of the great album purchase streak of 2001, when I was living in Denver but in Vancouver for work for months, and taking advantage of the exchange rate. I must have bought close to 50 discs that spring. "Where's Your Head At" is the big single here, although I doubt I could have identified it as theirs before now.

The Prodigy, The Fat of the Land
"Firestarter" and "Breathe" are still great, great singles. The rest of it... meh.

Hal feat. Gillian Anderson, Extremis
THIS is indicative of how big an X-Files fan I was back in the day. This howler features Anderson whispering and moaning idiotic lyrics over a slow-tempo electronic backbeat. This single contains four versions of the song, each siller than the last. (Well, the intro to one of the versions has a vibe similar to Madonna's "Secret Garden", so that's not too terrible.)

Deee-Lite, World Clique
Doesn't really fit with the rest, since it came out about 8 years earlier. "Groove is in the Heart" is on the short list of the all-time greatest dance songs, period. The rest of the album, especially a track like "Power of Love", is pretty fun too.

Touch and Go, "Would you...?"
I bought this single after moving to Vancouver in spring, 1999. I was homesick for Halifax, where one of my roommates at the time was a DJ, and this was a minor hit in the club where both he and I worked. The lyrics aren't particularly subtle - the rest of the title question is "... go to bed with me?" - but the horns are terrific.

Propellerheads, Decksanddrumsandrockandroll
Miss Shirley Bassey singing "History Repeating"!!!! And... that's all I got.

Moby, 18
Moby, Play
I had Play's "Natural Blues" on another collection, and completely fell in love with it. The whole album is pretty good... even if every time I hear it I keep thinking of Eminem's classic dis: "You don't know me / you're too old / let go / it's over / Nobody listens to techno!"

Tricky, Angels With Dirty Faces
Bought it because PJ Harvey appears on "Broken Homes". Pretty sure I never listened to it til now; don't expect I will again.

Just past three months:
- Total number of songs: 7748
- Total duration of songs: 20.94 days
- Total number of songs listened to: 3062
- Total duration of songs listened to: 8.29 days
- Total number of songs remaining: 4686

I think I'm still well ahead of schedule, which means I'll have to start downloading lots of new stuff.

Read the full post.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

No Sweat

So you might have heard about the latest worldwide grocery crisis. I was at my local Safeway the other night, and was shocked and appalled by what I saw when I went up and down the aisles. I even checked out my local Co-Op, and saw the same thing. It's even extended beyond grocery stores -- the crisis was noticeable at Zellers, Wal-mart, even Shoppers Drug Mart and Rexall. You don't know how much something like this matters until it actually affects you personally, ya know?

Omigod, you guys, Gillette has stopped making my favorite anti-perspirant!!

I'm sure most people are brand-loyal when it comes to personal care products. (Well, when I was growing up, my mom wasn't -- shampoo and toothpaste were whatever was cheap. On the other hand, the soap was always Zest.) You find a set of products you like, and you keep using them. Soap-wise, I'm an Irish Spring guy -- I'm sure it's some type of residual homoerotic advertising brain-washing, from the hot guys the Irish Spring ads used to feature.

But for years, I've been using the Gillette Series Clear Stick, with the Cool Wave scent. NOT the invisible stick (the white stick that claims to be invisible, yet it still flakes and stains shirts), and NOT the clear gel (because the gel is cold and takes forever to dry). It's a clear stick, pretty much transparent, and it works well. But as I was wandering the aisles in grocery and drug stores over the last couple of days: gone!!!

And it's not the first time I've had to switch anti-perspirant brands, either; I think this was my third regular brand over the last 18-odd years. God, if I'd known it was going off the market, I'd've hoarded a few years' supply, like Elaine and the Today Sponge on Seinfeld.

So now I'm experimenting with different brands, different types. I'm trying a Degree Invisible Solid right now (it's got a good scent, but we'll see about the flaking and the shirt-staining issues). I might even try the gels again... maybe sprays and roll-ons even. (If you've got any recommendations, let me know.)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I Can't Explain

In an email to a friend of mine earlier today, I said: "The more I think about Feist, the more I fucking hate her. So precious and twee. She's Canada's Belle and Sebastian." And I know that about 25% of my regular readers (by which I mean, of course, 1 of my 4 regular readers) are fans of Feist, so, uh... sorry, Brian!

The comment itself was pretty much apropos of nothing. We had chatted about her Juno wins (where I was more appalled by the fact that Arcade Fire lost Group of the Year to Blue Rodeo, because apparently it's 1988), and the fact that the ad for the Bell Lightbox at the Toronto Film Festival last year featured a snippet of Feist's song "I Feel It All". But it's the ubiquity of her "1234" in all those goddam iPod ads that pushed me over the edge.

So that got me thinking about other things I despise, either rationally (Michael Moore) or irrationally (Mariska Hargitay). So here's a partial list of Things I Despise Beyond All Reason.

Actors:
- Mariska Hargitay. She's the gold standard for things that irrationally drive me nuts. It's all because I hated her character on ER. I even had to stop watching SVU, regardless of my undying love for Chris Meloni, when I remembered who Mariska Hargitay was.
- Denzel Washington. Because he SHOUTS. ALL. THE. TIME.
- Sean Penn. Because he doesn't know the meaning of the word "subtlety".
- Russell Crowe. He lost me sometime around Gladiator, but it wasn't until he started talking about Ron Howard's "honor" that he made my "shut the fuck up" list.

Movies:
- Crash, American Beauty, A Beautiful Mind, because they won Oscars for their perceived yet mistaken importance, not their quality.
- Cars. The one flaw in Pixar's otherwise great library.
- Anything by Michael Moore, because he's a complete fraud who's more interested in self-promotion than in exposing truths.

Music:
- Belle and Sebastian, whom I had the displeasure of seeing live.
- Nickelback, because they suck.
- "Staring at the Sun", "Hey Jude", "Angie": songs I detest by bands that I love.

Etc:
- Hillary Clinton. And it's possible to hate her without being a misogynist.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Oh well

So the Bruins couldn't do it. Still -- forcing the Habs to play 7 games in the opening round does not bode well for Montreal's chances to go all the way. So that's something, at least.

And here I sit, just building sandcastles in the sand...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

BELIEVE!

So I'm not exactly the biggest hockey fan. In terms of the Big Four sports in North America, I much prefer baseball and NFL football. I tend to only get interested in hocky during the playoffs, and usually only if a team I like is doing well. (Of course, now that I'm back in Calgary, I'll remain interested in the playoffs as long as the Flames last, which may only be another 26 hours.)

I approached the Boston-Montreal first round series with a certain amount of pragmatism: the Habs were the top team in the east, and hadn't lost to the Bruins all season. How could the 8th-place Bruins possibly beat them in a 7-game series. Well, we're now 6 games into that series, and the Bruins have won three of the games... including the two most recent ones.

Boston was down 3-1 in the series; Boston sports fans, with memories of the Red Sox' unbelievable comeback against the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS, scoffed at the suggestion that being down 3-1 is some kind of challenge. And yet, the fact that we're now two days away from game 7 is beyond unexpected. And it looks like Montreal's controversial goaltending decision -- trading Cristobal Huet, putting their fate in the hands of Carey Price -- might be coming back to bite them in the ass.

The Bruins embarrassed Price in game 5 the other night, and tonight's unbelievable third period suggests that Price may have reached his limit for his rookie season. At the end of the second period, the score was 2-1 Montreal. The final score of the game: 5-4 Boston. Six goals were scored in the third period. Five of those goals were scored in a five-minute chunk of the second half of the period; it was some of the most exciting hockey I've ever seen. (Keep in mind, of course, that I'm not the biggest hockey fan, so there's quite a bit of hyperbole in that declaration.)

Game 7 is Monday night. In Montreal, of course. Carey Price is going to have the weight of the world on his shoulders, being at the center of the biggest controversy in the best rivalry of the NHL's most storied franchise. If he doesn't fold under the pressure, I'll be incredibly surprised.

It should be one hell of a game.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Lazy Friday

Because I wanted to post something, and because I simply don't have the energy right now to comment on Forgetting Sarah Marshall or U23D (both of which I saw today), or tonight's spectacular episode of Battlestar Galactica (I can't believe that did that to !!! Shocker!!!), here are a couple of random, hilarious images I stumbled across today.

Nicked from a friend's facebook profile:


And from an email containing fake motivational posters:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I'm a Baracker, baby I'm a Baracker

Bruce Springsteen comes out of the closet!

No, not like that -- he's simply endorsed Barack Obama for president, in a message posted on his official website. Bruce also supported John Kerry in 2004; but, like, many of us, that support was more a vote against Bush than it was a vote for Kerry. (And that's why Kerry lost.) And after Reagan's misguided attempt to appropriate "Born in the USA" back in 1984, I don't blame Bruce for picking sides and letting us know.

In the message, Bruce states, about Obama:

He speaks to the America I've envisioned in my music for the past 35 years, a generous nation with a citizenry willing to tackle nuanced and complex problems, a country that's interested in its collective destiny and in the potential of its gathered spirit. A place where "...nobody crowds you, and nobody goes it alone."

That last line is a quote from the great song "Long Walk Home" from Bruce's amazing 2007 album "Magic". The verse in "Long Walk Home" containing that line is perhaps the most damning indictment of the Bush administration, all the more so for being so understated:
My father said "Son, we're lucky in this town
It's a beautiful place to be born
It just wraps its arms around you
Nobody crowds you, nobody goes it alone.
That flag flying over the courthouse
Means certain things are set in stone
Who we are, what we'll do and what we won't."

Its gonna be a long walk home.

Really, what else needs to be said?

iPod Project, Day 83

I'm nearing the end of my greatest hits collections phase... not sure where I'm going to go next. Maybe random Canadian stuff? Early-90s alt rock? More soundtracks? Hmmmmm. But for now...

Cher, Greatest Hits
Well, of course. But there are some GREAT songs here. "If I Could Turn Back Time" is a late-80s classic. This collection unfortunately doesn't include Cher's duet with Butt-head on "I Got You Babe", opting instead for the original version.

Ace of Base, Gold and Platinum Collection
In my defense, I didn't actually buy this. (I've got friends with bad music taste, so I can take advantage of their collections from time to time.) Having said that, "The Sign" is actually a pretty good song.

Boney M, 20th Century Hits
Many fond memories of "Rasputin", still one of my favorite dance songs ever.

ABBA, More Gold
The original ABBA Gold might contain all the heavyweights, but this is still a great collection.

Erasure, Pop! The First 20 Hits
In North America, at least, this title is quite the misnomer. Let's see... there's "A Little Respect"... and that's about it. (This collection also pre-dates their only other notable North American single, the beautiful "Always".)

New Order, Best of New Order (UK)
As with Erasure, here's another band that was never that big in North America. So this sixteen-track collection contains "Bizarre Love Triangle"... and "Blue Monday"... and a bunch of stuff I've never heard before, and won't again. (Fortunately, I've got their great single "Temptation" on the Trainspotting soundtrack, since it ain't here.)

Nina Simone, Verve Jazz Essentials
A cheap-bin purchase, after I became interested in Nina Simone, thanks to Before Sunset and the ads for Six Feet Under. Got "Four Women" later, which has many of the same tracks.

Patsy Cline, 12 Greatest Hits
More for her voice itself than for the country genre. "Walking After Midnight" and "Sweet Dreams" and "She Got You" and "Crazy" are mandatory.

Chris De Burgh, Spark to a Flame
Because "Patricia The Stripper", campy as it is, is still pretty great. I'm not much of a fan of "Lady In Red", but "High On Emotion" is pretty fab.

Violent Femmes, Add It Up (1981 - 1993)
Not necessarily for "Blister in the Sun" - which is, of course, the only Femmes song most hipsters can identify -- but mainly for "American Music", which just takes me back to first year university. I grew up sheltered in PEI in the 80s; there wasn't much exposure, pre-internet, to things like "college radio" or "alternative rock". "American Music" was, thanks to my friend Kyona, one of my first introductions to cool music.

The Animals, Forever Gold
A cheap bin pick-up, after I fell in love with a couple of covers of "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood".

Shirley Bassey, Solitaire
A cheap-bin purchase at the same time I bought The Animals, but every music collection should have "Goldfinger" and "I Who Have Nothing".

Shirley Bassey, Get The Party Started
Last summer, RollingStone.com posted a link to the video for Miss Bassey's cover of Pink's "Get This Party Started". And omigod you guys, I'm not even kidding, it's one of the most awesome things I've ever heard. The rest of this album contains remixes of some other Bassey songs AND featured her wrapping her magnificent voice around "I Will Survive". (Wow, this whole thing is really, really gay.)

Prince, The Hits / The B-Sides
Listening to this 3 disc collection in one sitting, it's easy to make an argument that Prince was the greatest and most important solo artist of the 1980s. (His 90s stuff isn't nearly as compelling.) So many great songs: "When Doves Cry", "Let's Go Crazy", "Raspberry Beret", "Kiss", and on and on and on. I got this as an asked-for Christmas gift back in, I think, 1993. I then proceeded to muck up the actual disc of Disc One (some scratches some stains -- only half the songs would play), which I then replaced about 8 years later via Columbia House. Also, my one actually *good* karaoke performance occurred with my buddy Matt at a work Christmas party in 1999 (ha!), when we did an absolutely extraordinary duet of "Kiss". Because it's all falsetto, you don't actually need a good singing voice to perform it. Of course, I was also drunk to the gills that night, but existing video evidence actually supports my claim. (Side note: that night is also the reason why I refuse to drink alcohol at work Christmas functions (well, technically it was the final nail in that particular coffin), but there's no need to get into the details.) Still, why no "Batdance" or "Party Man"? (And I'm only half kidding.)

As I near the three-month mark:
- Total number of songs: 7711
- Total duration of songs: 20.86 days
- Total number of songs listened to: 2864
- Total duration of songs listened to: 7.64 days
- Total number of songs remaining: 4847


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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Juxtaposition of the Day

Two headlines this morning from the main page of Toronto Star's website, thestar.com:

Monroe film: Some like it very hot
Kennedy would have pulled out, film suggests

The first headline, of course, refers to the recently discovered Marilyn Monroe sex tape. The second headline, alas, refers to Vietnam.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Red

Sunday night, 10:05 pm. Sitting here in the La-Z-Boy, half-watching an episode of Family Guy. It's a beautiful night, about 20 degrees. (Celsius, of course.) The balcony door's open. All of a sudden I hear this low rumbling noise outside, followed by a some loud, raucous cheering.

"Oh, the Flames must have scored," I thought. Turned the channel to the hockey game... and indeed the Flames scored, tying the game at 3. (San Jose scored three goals in, like, the first three minutes of the game, which for some reason I found hysterical.)

I live in a great neighborhood. Technically called "Lower Mount Royal", it's just south of 17th Ave SW, the infamous Red Mile of the Flames' 2004 playoff run, where thousands of Calgarians partied in the streets as the Flames continued their unlikely run to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals that year. We're only three games into the playoffs this year, so there hasn't been much in the way of public partying... yet. If the Flames manage to pull this win out of their ass in the next 30 min or so, I expect we'll see the first street celebration.

The funny thing is: during the playoff run four years ago, I hated the Red Mile shenanigans. (Much like every summer, I hated all the foolishness that went on during the Calgary Stampede.) And yet, when I moved to Toronto, it was one of the things I surprisingly missed about Calgary. (And yes, I even missed Stampede. Although maybe that was just the Mini-Donuts.)

It's just one of the many reasons why, when my plane flew into the Calgary airport on Nov 23 and I had a great view of the downtown skyline, I simply knew I was home.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Face the Music

I love Camille Paglia. I may not always agree with her (although I do agree with her about Hillary Clinton), but I love the way her mind works, and I love the way she writes. I haven't read any of her books, though I keep meaning to pick up Sexual Personae sometime.

During her most recent column on Salon, in which she answered reader mail, someone asked her what she thought of "Madonna's new face" when she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Camille responded:

Madonna fans of the world (among whom I number myself, despite my sniping) should view her as a very grand architectural monument in slow stages of repair and restoration. As with the bitterly controversial cleaning of the Sistine Chapel ceiling, we will all have our opinions about whether the conservators have gone too far or not far enough. But Madonna's still out there kicking, so she needs as much lamination as she can get. We don't want her retiring like a creaky recluse to her flat, as her role model Marlene Dietrich had to do at the end in Paris. So go for it, Madge, but we won't be surprised if one of these days you smash into a thousand tinkling shards right onstage.

Hee hee.

iPod Project, Day 75

Another week of greatest hits collections. All these greatest hits albums, and I DON'T have Paula Abdul? Or Roxette? Or Culture Club? Or Sass Jordan?

I've also started listening to Boxer, by The National, as prep for the REM concert in Vancouver at the end of May. But I'll need a few more listens of that one.

Don Henley, Actual Miles
It's a little odd that I actually like Don Henley, since I really don't have much use for The Eagles. But Henley's solo work - especially songs like "The Boys of Summer" and "The End of the Innocence" and "The Heart of the Matter" and especially the stunning "Last Worthless Evening" - is pretty great. I have a very specific memory of "The End of the Innocence": I once saw the video on MuchMusic on a cloudy August afternoon, at about 1:45 pm. It's a little weird, I know... but much like Heart's "These Dreams" takes me back to junior high, this song just takes me back there. (This collection includes Henley's cover of "Everybody Knows". Apparently, I have versions of this song performed by at least four different artists: Henley, Rufus Wainwright, Concrete Blonde, and Leonard Cohen's original.)

Aerosmith, Big Ones
Not a bad collection -- it's fortunately missing "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" -- but I'm still not quite sure why I bought it. "Love in an Elevator", maybe? Or "Janie's Got a Gun"? "Dude Looks Like a Lady"? Hmmm.

Blondie, The Best of Blondie
Classics: "One Way or Another", "Atomic", "Rapture", "Heart of Glass"... even "The Tide Is High". Great stuff! Sidenote: I can't believe Kirsten Dunst is apparently playing Deborah Harry in the upcoming Blondie biopic. It really should be Scarlett Johannson. (Nothing against Dunst, whom I generally really like.)

Tears For Fears, Tears Roll Down (Greatest Hits 82-92)
Mandatory if only for the amazing "Woman in Chains", featuring Oleta Adams. I have fond memories of "Shout" and "Everybody Wants To Rule The World", but my god "Shout" is a long song. Six and a half minutes! Of repetitive choruses! Still, as I listened to this album, I realized I knew more TFF songs than I thought I did. Hunh.

Crowded House, Recurring Dream (Greatest Hits)
For "Something So Strong" and "Don't Dream It's Over" and (my fave) "Better Be Home Soon".

John Mellencamp, The Best That I Could Do
I will admit a soft spot for "Jack and Diane" -- after a few (or a few too many) beer, who HASN'T observed that life goes on "long after the thrill of living is gone"? Mellencamp might be, like Bon Jovi, grade-B Springsteen, but "Jack and Diane" is as close as most people could get to, say, "Thunder Road". I'm also a big fan of "The Authority Song". I don't mind songs like "Little Pink Houses" and "ROCK in the USA", even if they make me cringe a little. I think I bought this to round out a Columbia House purchase requirement at some point... I'm pretty sure I never listened to it until now.

The Doors, Greatest Hits
While they're not really my thing, I think every CD collection should include "Break On Through". And likely "Light My Fire", which helped the team I was on win Name That Tune at Money Pennies a few weeks back. See, for the bonus round or whatever, you had to identify the song as quickly as possible. My hand was up the second I heard the opening drum beat... of course, I thought it was Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone". Fortunately, by the time the host turned off the music, the distinct keyboards had already started, so it was an easy victory.

The Who, Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy
When it comes to Major British Rock Bands From the 60s-70s, I definitely prefer The Rolling Stones. (Obviously.) I picked up a couple of discs by The Who in a cheap bin at one point, and this one features some great singles like "Magic Bus" and "I Can See For Miles" and "My Generation" and "Pinball Wizard", a song that makes me chuckle and wince for reasons relating to drunken shenanigans back in Halifax. (And I'm glad, really, that Peter keeps bringing it up, so that all of my Calgary friends know the story. GOD.)

The Clash, The Story of The Clash (Vol 1)
So. London Calling is an absolutely superb album, one of the greatest rock albums of all time. And "Should I Stay or Should I Go" (formerly my ringtone) is a great fuckin' song. But I can't say that I'm especially impressed with what I've heard of the rest of The Clash. (I'm a philistine, I know.)

Simon & Garfunkel, Greatest Hits
"Mrs. Robinson", "The Boxer", "Cecilia"... classics. "America" makes me think of Almost Famous... from back when Cameron Crowe knew how to make movies. Simpsons nerd note: until I heard this, I had no idea that Mr. Burns quotes "The 59th Street Bridge Song" right before he got shot.

Poison, Greatest Hits
"Talk Dirty To Me"? "Fallen Angel"? "Unskinny Bop"? If you don't like these songs... well, you obviously weren't a teenager in the 80s. And in terms of big hair band ballads, you can't beat "Something To Believe In" or especially "Every Rose Has Its Thorn". (Still, at 18 tracks, there is A LOT of filler here.)

Stevie Nicks, Timespace - The Best of Stevie Nicks
Random thoughts while I listened to Her Royal Highness, Queen Stevie: the South Park goat in Afghanistan... Lucy Lawless's definitive Stevie impersonation on SNL, opening a Tex-Mex restaurant ("Now there you go again, you say you want burritos..."). And "Stand Back" always makes me think of Jason (aka Bebe) and his hilarious impersonation.

Dolly Parton, The Best of the RCA Years
Look, Dolly's a legend. If only for "Jolene". Or "Nine to Five". Or her beautiful, original version of "I Will Always Love You" (which is still better than Whitney's, if you ask me). I also have a fondness for "Islands in the Stream" (unfortunately expressed via karaoke duets a couple of times). In fact, remember when she stepped on Kenny's foot while they performed the song live at, I think, the American Music Awards? Well, her "Excuse me, Kenny" has become part of the vernacular among me and a certain group of my friends.

The Supremes, The Ultimate Collection
After partying and working at Reflections for a couple of years, I'm completely conditioned to expect the ugly lights to go on when I hear the opening notes of "Reflections". It's 3:30 am and I'm frantically downing the last half of a beer I likely shouldn't have ordered in the first place. Good times.

Ike and Tina Turner, Greatest Hits
Of course, their cover of "Proud Mary" is justifiably legendary, and "River Deep, Mountain High" is an absolutely exquisite song.

Pet Shop Boys, Discography
Lots of great tracks, and I always loved their version of "Where the Streets Have No Name" which also mixes in "I Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You".

Elvis Presley, The Top Ten Hits
I'm most definitely not an Elvis scholar, and would consider myself at best a casual fan. This collection is a pretty good overview, I guess. *shrug*

Chuck Berry, The Great Twenty-Eight
The Ramones, All The Stuff and More
Two collections by artists who basically wrote the same song over and over again.

David Bowie, Greatest Hits 1969-74
Got this from a friend of mine recently. And it's made me decide that I need to get some more Bowie, ASAP.

Sly and the Family Stone, Greatest Hits
If only for "I Want To Take You Higher". Oh, and "Dance to the Music". And "Everyday People".

Janet Jackson, Design of a Decade
So many classic songs from her first two albums! "Nasty" has always been a favorite, and I adore "Love Will Never Do (Without You)". I still like "Escapade", even though I once heard it on an endless loop for about 90 min at the Pizza Delight in Summerside. (The only thing missing is "If", from her third album.)

Mariah Carey, #1s
Um... I think I must have bought this because I love "Vision of Love", her first and best single. "Love Takes Time" is pretty good too. Never listened to the thing in its entirety until now... don't think I ever will again.

After two and a half months:
- Total number of songs: 7711
- Total duration of songs: 20.86 days
- Total number of songs listened to: 2590
- Total duration of songs listened to: 6.91 days
- Total number of songs remaining: 5121

About 1/3 of the way thru. Not bad.

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Monday, April 7, 2008

Twelfth? Right.

This post will not make any sense if you don't watch Battlestar Galactica. Move along; nothing to see here.

As of the third season finale, we've met 11 of the 12 Cylon models. Four of the "Final Five" were revealed in the finale, and some of them - particularly Saul Tigh - shocked the hell out of me. Tigh, who fought beside Adama in the first Cylon war and who killed his wife for collaborating with the Cylons, was one of them. Of course, he didn't know it until "All Along The Watchtower" happened, but still: that reveal left me doing my best Ricky Ricardo "You got some 'splainin' to do..."

(Side note: and how frakking GREAT is Michael Hogan in the role of Tigh? He's right up there with The Wire's Andre Royo as an actor whose great work is woefully underrated.)

The reveal of the Four Cylons really opened up the possibilities for the identity of the final Cylon. It could be absolutely anyone. And we know that the identity of the Final Fifth (tm Alan Sepinwall) will be revealed this season. I don't spend any time trolling around for Galactica spoilers; I pretty much only read the weekly recaps at The House Next Door and What's Alan Watching and Television Without Pity (and you should read them, if you don't). Just something to keep in mind as I now make concrete my prediction for the Final Fifth.

It's GOT to be Laura Roslin.

"President Roslin? That makes no sense!" you say. Oh, and Tigh DOES? Still, I really have no great reason for thinking it might be Roslin. Well, I've got one reason. Remember the opera house dream in the season finale, which turned out to be a shared folie a trois among Roslin, Sharon, and Six? Why should only two of the people who had the dream be Cylons? The opera house dream is analogous to the "All Along The Watchtower" scenes that united Tigh and Tyrol and Tory and Anders, as they discovered their Cylonicity. (Similarly, Roslin's chamalla-induced visions aren't really that different than what Three (that's Lucy Lawless's model number, right?) did, as she attempted to see the faces of the Final Five herself.)

Plus, I've got a great idea for how Roslin's Cylon nature could be revealed. After years of simmering sexual tension, Roslin and Adama finally give in to their baser instincts. And as they (tastefully, of course) commingle, Roslin rolls over on top of Adama... and we see her spine glowing red.

Seriously, how mother-frakking awesome would that be?!?!?

Like I said, I don't scour the web for BSG spoilers, and this is just my own rather unthought-out prediciton. But there's no way in hell it could be worse than the last prediction I made on this blog.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

White and Nerdy

I wouldn't be surprised if this kid gets the holy living snot beaten out of him regularly at school:



Still, this is the type of thing I might've done in school if youtube (or, shit, the internet) existed in the late-80s. Geeky to an extreme AND somewhat closeted? Yeah, those were my high school years.

Back in the day, we did have the opportunity to make movies as assignments in French class. And since I had the best French-speaking abilities of my group of friends, I tended to have the major role by default. I even played a chubbier Dieter in an SNL Sprockets parody. (Like I said, geeky and closeted!)

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Shining

Some thoughts about Martin Scorsese's fabulous Stones concert film Shine A Light:
- Ya know, all things considered, Mick Jagger looks pretty damn great in IMAX. (Keith Richards, however, does not.)
- In fact, I think the IMAX presentation actually highlights just how magnetic a performer Mick Jagger really is. (He IS big; it's the rock stars that got small.)
- The opening sequence of the movie was brilliant. Snippets of Scorsese and the band and various others trying, long-distance, to work out the logistics of the filming... Scorsese wishing Mick would put together a setlist, Mick wishing Scorsese would limit cameras and camera movement... Scorsese finding out that certain lights would actually burn people alive if kept on for more than 18 seconds.
- Lisa Fischer, their backup singer, is fuckin' hot.
- Bobby Keys on sax! Of course!
- The third song is "She Was Hot". Really? A songbook that deep and rich and you do "She Was Hot"? And ya know what, it was actually pretty great.
- There may be a bit too much Some Girls on the setlist for my taste, but oh well.
- And speaking of "Some Girls", they cut a couple of lines, including "Black girls just wanna get fucked all night / I just don't have that much jam." Hard to tell if the band cut the line out of the performance, or if it was simply edited out. (I actually think it might be the latter.)
- One early highlight: "Loving Cup", featuring Jack White. It's one of my favorite Stones songs ("I'm the man that brings you roses when you ain't got none" is one of my favorite Jagger lyrics), and Jack was downright giddy. He's clearly a huge fan, and just loves being able to perform with the band.
- Keith does a fantastic version of another of my favorite Stones songs, "You Got The Silver". His voice hasn't really aged well, but it's not like he had a great singing voice to begin with.
- Christina Aguilera dueting with Mick on "Live With Me" - fantastic. Until now, the only thing she had in common with the Stones was the fact that they both had albums named "Stripped".

Great stuff -- and more enjoyable than anything else Scorsese has done this decade!