New shows

HOW HARD IS IT TO MAKE THE MUPPETS GREAT?!  Apparently hard as hell because the new Muppets is a pile of garbage. I had hoped to write about the new shows I had watched this week with glowing reviews. But geezus, this is unbelievably terrible.

The previews weren’t great. They weren’t even good.  But I had hopes that the obvious Office rip off would some how work. It didn’t. I was hoping to show it to my children, but there’s no way this is going to keep their interest.  It didn’t even keep my interest.

Parks and Rec tried to be Office-like, and season 1 was by far the worst season. After that, it found it’s own way and became one of the great American treasures of the recent past. The Muppets will have to go A LONG way to get there. I don’t see how it gets a 2nd season.

The other obvious rip off this year is Blindspot. It’s a combination of Memento, and the Bourne movies. And since both of those things are amazing, Blindspot works.

Jaimie Alexander is a Jane Doe who is found in a duffle bag in Times Square. She is covered in fresh tattoos with no memory of anything before waking in the bag.  Her ink helps the FBI solve crimes.   It is the first new show that I am legitimately excited to see. The premiere episode was pretty good and left lots of room for improvement, but I can’t wait to see where it goes, and who tattooed her and for what reason.

The second episode was on last night, and I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet. Monday Night Football, and finishing up Sunday’s Once Upon a Time and all that. But after the first episode, this may already be a season pass type show.

Granted, I don’t have the best of luck with that. My early seal of approval is usually a death sentence. So watch it while it’s on, because it’s destined to go away really soon.

UPDATE!!!  Alright, since I am a dumb dumb and forgot to post this, I had time to watch the 2nd episode of Blindspot.  Rather than re-write the whole post, I just decided to add to it.  Seemed easier.  And I’m all about being lazy.  So now that I’ve seen it again, I don’t feel as strong about it as I did before.  They are moving way too fast.  The main FBI agent apparently had a young friend go missing as a child and he thinks our Jane Doe is her.  Um, no build up to that I guess.  “Hey remember that girl I knew 25 years ago that went missing that tragically changed my life forever that we’ve never mentioned because this is only our 2nd episode and could have been stretched out over the entire first season?  Yeah it’s totally Jane.”  Wow, okay.  We can talk about that.  Where did that come from?  It felt really forced.

I’m not expecting great things anymore.  It may have been first episode excitement.  I still like it.  But the way episode two went, I have a feeling its all downhill from here.  Which is fine, because Arrow starts next week, and all my time goes into Arrow.  Yeah, I know it’s only an hour a week, but trust me, I’m all about Arrow starting next week.

Finally!!!

It took 10 months. I’ve mentioned this a few times, but there is a bar down the street called 36 Handles. If you join their beer program, and finish all the beers on tap, they’ll give you a mug with your member number and whatever name you want on it.  If you couldn’t figure it out by the name of the bar, there are 36 beers on tap. It took us 10 months.

My buddy Chris and I have been friends since the summer before high school. We met at the basketball camp the school put on during the summer. We were 14, and have been great friends ever since. We went to college together, and since many of our friends went elsewhere for school, we spent a lot of time together.

While we were in school, there was a bar that was stumbling distance from my apartment. It was awesome. The owner knew us by name, and made an amazing house shot called a Red Flag. He would never tell us what was in it. But it tasted like amazingness.  They had a basketball hoop and every week would have HORSE tournaments, even though the court was incredibly tiny.  Best part was, they would pirate Raider games from a city outside the blackout area. Then Tom sold the bar and it was never the same.

We had been looking for a local hangout ever since. We tried the bar that was eventually closed when U.S. Marshals escorted the owners off the property.  We tried the bar that had a mechanical bull, but they got rid of it and it just never really felt right.  They kept changing their theme nights, and we never knew what we were getting when we went in there.

Then we found 36 Handles. It has a trivia night (which we’ve won once, and finished 3rd another time).  Bartenders who recognize us, and a reason to keep coming back (the beer membership).  We found our new bar!!

I will admit, not all the beers were to my liking. And not all the people there are nice. One girl who has a mug there spent a solid 10 minutes making fun of literally everything I was wearing one night. She was hammered and unpleasant.  Luckily, that was a one time thing. Everyone else is great.  To be fair, I do dress like a complete loser.  So she did have a point.

But none of it matters anymore!  Because we are now members!  The number is higher than I was hoping.  I wanted to be #200 on the nose.  But I had to wait for stupid Chris.  So #212 will have to do.  As the bartender told me, that’s what I get for being a good friend.

Me on left, Chris on right

Me on left, Chris on right

IMG_3098[1] IMG_3097[1]

Definitive Songs of the 90s

In his most recent post, Eric contended that ‘Stay’ by Lisa Loeb was the “perfect song of the 90s”. He also added that I countered with the assertion that the Friends theme song, ‘I’ll Be There for You’ by The Rembrandts, was the perfect song of the 90s. This is only half true. My point was that more people would recognize the Friends theme song than ‘Stay’; mainly because Friends was one of the definitive sitcoms of the 90s (a topic/list for another post, perhaps). I’d also add that when I made this assertion I was slightly distracted by yet another lackluster fantasy football draft and a rousing game of poker that we were playing, so I probably wasn’t thinking clearly.

All that being said, however, Eric’s choice of ‘Stay’ as THE song of the 90s is curious (as is his story about singing it at the top of his lungs out the car window with 3 other buddies whilst driving the hilly roads of San Francisco…not that there’s anything wrong with that), because there are SO MANY better songs from this era to choose from. Musical preference is, of course, subjective, and I can only imagine what was going on in adolescent Eric’s life when Lisa Loeb emerged with her folk pop ballad about lost love. Personally, the song doesn’t do anything for me, but there are plenty of other songs from this era that do.

So put on your favorite flannel shirt, pour yourself a giant cup of java, and let’s take a trip down memory lane. Here are my picks of the five songs that define the 90s (better than ‘Stay’), in no particular order:

  1. ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, Nirvana. Is this a cliche choice? Probably. But there is no denying that the “grunge” movement, in all of its angst-y, anti-establishment glory, was a defining cultural touchstone of the early 90s. I was raised by conservative parents who always had the radio dial set to the oldies. Without an older sibling to subvert my musical preferences, I grew up thinking Chuck Berry was edgy. So when a friend handed me a cassette tape (yup, remember those?) of Nirvana’s album Nevermind, my young mind nearly exploded. The sound was raw and powerful, and the lyrics were a giant middle finger to the man. There were a lot of good songs/bands that came out of grunge, but Nirvana and ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ perfectly captured the disillusionment with consumerism and life in post-trickle down America that defined the genre. 
  2. ‘Nuthin’ but a G Thang’, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. The 90s were huge for hip hop and its many sub genres. N.W.A., Tupac, Notorious B.I.G., Snoop Dogg…the list of great hip hop artists that came out of this decade go on and on. As such, choosing the best hip hop song might have been one of the harder decisions to make on this list. Just to illustrate the spectrum of songs under this multi-branching genre, think of an artist like MC Hammer and his song, ‘Can’t Touch This‘, and Wu-Tang Clan’s ‘C.R.E.A.M.‘. Both are really different, but really good, and arguably each deserving of a place on this list. But in the end, I had to go with ‘Nuthin’ but a G Thang’. The song has that classic west coast hip hop sound, is instantly quotable, and gets my head bobbin’ every time it comes on the radio. 
  3. ‘Sabotage’, Beastie Boys. There were a few different bands that attempted to mix rock and rap, a genre known as rapcore, in the 90s. Some didn’t work out so well (yeah, I’m looking at you, Crazy Town), but the Beastie Boys were another story. The Beastie Boys made a lot of great songs in the 90s, but ‘Sabotage’, off their album Ill Communication, stands out. With its turn table scratches, distorted base riffs, and great lyrics, ‘Sabotage’ is an example of rapcore done right. It also has an amazing music video that serves as a reminder of a time when MTV actually showed, y’know, music videos. 
  4. ‘Ironic’, Alanis Morissette. Is there anything more 90s than Alanis Morissette? Ok, maybe Saved by the Bell. But other than that, is there really anything more 90s than Morissette? To me, it felt like she was the omnipresent voice of jaded women everywhere. From songs like ‘Head Over Feet‘ to ‘You Oughta Know‘, her lyrics could have been ripped right out of the diaries of some of the girls I knew in high school. Her album Jagged Little Pill had tons of hits on it, including the aforementioned singles and ‘Ironic’. I heard these songs A LOT, in 1995 and thereafter; which is why she’s the folk pop queen of the 90s, not Lisa Loeb (sorry, Eric). 
  5. ‘Crash Into Me’, Dave Matthews Band. I was never a huge fan of the Dave Matthews Band. I don’t know if it was because they were SO popular, or that their particular brand of soft rock was a little too…soft for my taste, but I was just never able to get on that bandwagon. But the force that DMB was in the mid- to late 90s is undeniable. Playing ‘Crash Into Me’ in the background helped an entire generation of young men (myself included) make it to second base. For that reason alone, it deserves a place on this list. 

So there you have it; my list of top five songs that define the 90s…at least better than Lisa Loeb’s ‘Stay’.

Honorable Mentions:

‘Under the Bridge’, Red Hot Chili Peppers
‘Enter Sandman’, Metallica
‘California Love’, Tupac
‘Say it Ain’t So’, Weezer
‘Loser’, Beck
‘Basket Case’, Green Day
‘Bullet with Butterfly Wings’, The Smashing Pumpkins

Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll

Now I’ve got your attention, don’t I?  Okay, bare with me.  Because this is going to sound ridiculous.  But, I’ve been known to make ridiculous claims before.  At our fantasy football draft, I stated that the perfect song of the 90’s was Stay by Lisa Loeb and Nine Stories.  It’s great.  There isn’t one person who grew up in the 90’s who doesn’t know ALL the words to that song.  I remember going to the bay area with 3 other guys and the song came on.  We had just gotten off the freeway, and we rolled down all the windows and started singing as loud as we could.  It is an amazing song.  Phil tried to claim it was the Friends theme song.  False.  And I love Friends.  I used this song as the wedding party dance song at my wedding.  But how many people know the second verse to the song?  How many people even know there is a second verse?

Back to the ridiculous claim for today.  Over the summer, we watched the new Denis Leary show, Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll.  Leary is a former front man for the band, The Heathens who broke up on the day their first and only album came out.  He has a drug and alcohol problem, and now, he has a daughter who he never knew about.  Elizabeth Gillies plays Gigi who has come to New York to find her father in hopes of making a name for herself a singer with his help.  But only as a songwriter.  As a bandmate, he’s a complete trainwreck.

I love anything with Denis Leary.  I was in 8th grade when No Cure for Cancer was released.  And I can vividly remember listening to it so much in high school that I could recite it line for line.  Rescue Me was a brilliant show that had a great run and I’m glad it was on as long as it was.  So this was a no brainer for me.  Then I found out it also had John Corbett.  I’m not as familiar with all of his work except for Lucky.  Which was so damn good, I can’t believe it was cancelled after only 13 episodes.  I will go to my grave saying that show was treated unfairly.  How dare you, FX.  How dare you.

The best part of the show is by far the music.  In fact, I bought the album online.  I love it so much, I think everyone should give it a listen, and consider buying it.  Part of the reason I love it so much is because I think they are really good songs.  Not the clips from the show, but the actual songs.  Better than a lot of what is put out today (That’s my get off my lawn moment for the day.  Yeah yeah, I’m old.  I get it).  And part of it, probably the bigger part is I am absolutely in love with Gillies voice.  I think she is incredible.  There are so few voices that I find distinguishable today and that can make me lose myself in a song.  She has one of those voices.

I’ve always said the two most amazing voices for me in all of music were Alison Krauss and Amy Lee.  I know, they couldn’t be any different of artists, but I would listen to them sing the phone book.  I can’t forget my favorite female singer, Kacey Musgraves.  She is a treasure to this world, and her songwriting is unmatched for me right now.  I’m not saying that Gillies is that level of a singer (my ridiculous claim isn’t THAT ridiculous), but she is very talented, and her voice is crazy amazing.

You may be thinking, it’s an album from a TV show on FXX.  How good can this possibly be?  F**KING GREAT, that’s how good it can be!!  She was the perfect person to sing these songs.  As good as I think she is as Gigi on the show, she KILLS as a vocalist.  Never in a million years would I have considered buying a song from a TV show like this, much less an album.  But after 10 episodes, I am a huge fan of Gillies and I think everyone should be as well.  Anyway, listen to this song, fall in love with Elizabeth Gillies and go watch more of her performances on YouTube.

And hey!  Good news!  The show was renewed for a second season today!!  Yay for me!!

Don Jon

Damn it!!  Up until this very moment, I always assumed Joseph Gordon-Levitt and I could be best friends. He’s cool as hell and me… well I’m not cool at all.  I mean, I have literally been told TO MY FACE that I’m not cool at all. Now that was because I refused to go do drugs with this horrible girl named Susan in high school, but it still kinda hurt.

Her boyfriend was even meaner to me.  I hate them both to this day.  All my talk about turning the other cheek and forgiving past transgressions doesn’t apply to them.  They will burn in hell.  Now, back to my thoughts on this movie.

But now I just got dont watching Don Jon. A movie Gordon-Levitt (that’s too long to type. From now on, he’s JGL) wrote, directed, and starred in. It also stars my girl Scarlett Johansson, and Julianne Moore.  JGL (see, that’s better) stars as Jon. A porn addicted Jersey stereotype who enjoys himself more when he’s alone with his computer than with a woman.

Once he meets and falls in love with Barbara (ScarJo), she tries to put him under her thumb and get him to be someone he’s not which ends up going about as well as one would expect. Moore plays a night school classmate of JGL who tries to understand more of who he really is while dealing with her own demons.

The movie is terribly boring. It plays out like Groundhog Day, but with porn and without any humor. If that was the pitch, I can see why the movie got made. But why people liked it, I have no idea.  I had to go check on my daughter during her nap and I didn’t even bother to stop it. Just get it over with.

I think four times I had to ask myself where the hell this movie was going and how it was ever going to end. Because it seemed to have no possible resolution. I will admit, the end is the best part of the movie. It wraps up really well, although, I was hoping the last confrontation between Jon and Barbara would have gone a little differently. But I understand where Jon’s character was at that point and why he said what he did and didn’t say what he didn’t say.

Overall, I wish I hadn’t seen it. And if JGL and I ever become best friends, I will absolutely throw someone elses name on this blog and shame them for all eternity. Hey, how often does someone get to be best friends with Joseph Gordon-Levitt?

The Martian

Okay so I was going to write a long post on how incredibly stupid the ending to American Ninja Warrior was, but instead I will just include it here. How can the last stage simply be a rope climb?  The thing I’ve been doing since I was 8 years old!!! Dumbest ending ever. And then of course ANW goes on to claim the guy who did it second is the first finisher. Uh revisionist history, eh? He finished faster. Not first. He was the first million dollar winner. Not the first finisher.

Okay so the movie The Martian comes out.. let’s see.. October 2.  Crap that’s two weeks!!  My two friends, Greg & Ryan have read the book. They always give me grief because they read more than I do. Well not this time, assfaces!!  I started The Martian two nights ago and I’m 25% of the way through. Since I’m reading it on my Kindle, I don’t know what page I’m on.  It goes by percentages.

I will be really excited to see how the movie compares to the book. There’s no way they can take much of anything from the first 5-6 chapters as it’s all the science on how Matt Damon’s character, Mark Watney, stays alive on Mars after he is abandoned by his crew. Spoiler alert if you didn’t know that’s what happens.  So basically it’s all stuff that I didn’t understand.  But it’s still pretty cool so far.

So I’ve got two weeks to finish!  At my current pace I should finish by then. Especially since I know I’m not going opening weekend. I really want to finish by 10/5.

My friend Chris and I joined a beer mug club at our local pub. In order to join, all you had to do is drink each of the 36 beers they have on tap. Then you get a mug with your name and member number on it. Well, we finished a couple weeks ago and our mugs will be ready by then. So all our friends are getting together with us to show them off.  I want to be ready with the knowledge of the book so rub it in the smug faces. What good is having friends if you can’t brag about crap to them?!

Suck it, Ryan and Greg!!