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Another Portland Blog

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Short reviews for things I've been wasting my free time on lately

Radiohead's In Rainbows: I think we all need to get together as a planet, think this over and come to the following consensus: this album sucks, pure and simple. Yes, we're all happy to see Radiohead back after a too-long hiatus and, yes, the fact that they released the album themselves may forever change the music industry. Also: sure, the album has an interesting theme and it's "cohesive." With that out of the way, let's look at the music itself. Ok, track one is kind of interesting. Thom's doing a hip-hop thing here but, so what, it sounds like more glitch rock. Track # 2, sure, it rocks a bit but "it's the 21st century! It's the 21st century!" is a line that sounds like something Bono would shout out between songs at a concert in Cleveland. The rest of the album? Tedious crooning over the same solo guitar and meandering orchestral score all eventually winding towards a still-born conclusion after a mercifully brief 10 tracks. The fact that the band disappeared for four years and this is the best that they came up with leaves me thinking that they've finally crossed over into the darkest corners of Brian Eno-territory. Sorry Radiohead, it was fun (and by fun I mean liable to make me want to lie down in my freshman dorm room and stare at the glow-in-the-dark stickers on the ceiling in a paralytic state of melancholy introspection) but isn't it time for you to re-recorded The Bends and sell all the songs to iPod commercials? It worked out OK for Bono, didn't it? Don't you want to be even more super rich and beloved like ol' Bono?

Cavemen: I'm one of these idiots that thought the commercials were funny and somehow feel responsible, on some karmic level if nothing else, for this show's existence. I'll give the poor schmucks drafted into producing the show Cavemen for ditching the laugh track and going with the whole single camera thing but there's no getting around the fact that you can't base a decent sitcom on a one-joke ad for car insurance. And that's the entire show: jokes about cavemen in modern times getting hassled by humans, over and over and over again. The second episode was devoted to an affirmative action lawsuit so there is nowhere for the writers to go from here. The worst of it is that I have my DVR set to record the show every week, which means I'll probably keep watching it for reasons I can't quite explain. If you find any obsessive 3,000 word tomes about how terrible Cavemen is with my name attached to them on Television Without Pity, you'll know the reason why.

30 Rock: Because of the DVR, I've seen every episode of the show so far. I still can't tell if it's any good or not. Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey are funny but the intern, Tracy Morgan and everyone else on the show? Er, no. After dozens of episodes I also can't tell you what "The Girlie Show" is supposed to be. Is it a fictional version of SNL? Is it broadcast live? What the hell is it? Every time I try to get out (ie finally delete 30 Rock as a series recording) it brings me back in with a joke like "Werewolf Bar Mitvah."

Battlestar Galactica (season 3): I cried like a little wussy girl when (SPOILER! WOO!) Starbuck's daughter was hauled away by her real mother. Damn those evvvvvvvvil Cylons! This is soooo the best soap opera on TV right now. Way better than As the World Turns. The next season doesn't start until February? Boooo!

Into the Wild: So...abandoning modern society to run off into the Alaskan wilderness ill-prepared in the dead of winter is a bad idea? Ok, thanks Sean Penn. I did not know that.

M.I.A.'s Kala: More albums should use shotguns as musical instruments. You hear that, Radiohead?

The Darjeeling Limited: (SPOILERS!) It was pretty decent until the brothers got to the river and the ending was a total letdown. Plus, I was hoping Bill Murray would show up later in the film to dispense advice and reveal that he was just like them once but wound up spending his life running from his demons. His cameo was downright lame. If only the three main characters could have bonded over hunting down that nun-gobbling tiger instead of a dead 3rd world child. Wow, Slate was right...except not really.

Photoshop: That's Laura Bush in the photo at the top of this blog. You know, because of the URL? http://laurabush.info? Get it? Sorry for slicing off the edge of her hairdo. Cutting and pasting photos with a laptop mouse is more difficult than actually cutting and pasting them with actual glue and scissors.

Neal Gabler's Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination: I recently finished this biography of the entertainment kingpin. A few things you may not already know about "Uncle Walt": he drank, smoked and swore almost constantly, hated communists because he was convinced they helped stage a labor strike at his studio in the '40s, treated his employees poorly, allegedly didn't have sex on his wedding night, walked miles in the snow to sell newspapers in order help feed his family as a child, had no less than two nervous breakdowns and may have (but probably wouldn't have) forever changed society if he had gotten his original vision for EPCOT off the ground before he kicked the bucket. Also: not a Nazi.


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