Sunday, January 20, 2008

the universe is shaped exactly like the earth

Ron Paul responds nicely to this horribly biased question from a "fair and balanced" Fox News debate. Since Paul just took second place in Nevada, I'm not sure how you can consider him "unelectable" already, and the real outrage is that the media has no business whatsoever trying to tell viewers who is electable and who is not. I'm fairly certain a network that is truly "fair and balanced" would simply report and let viewers make up their own minds. Apparently Fox ended up cutting this clip from their replay of the debate. I'm not sure if that's because they realized how awful their question was, or (more likely) because they didn't like the way Paul turned it around nicely. Meanwhile, a local Fox affiliate actually conducts a great interview with Paul:

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The 2007 Davie Awards

This marks the fourth year of the Davie Awards, the annual post where I subject you all to shameless plugs of the things I liked the most from the past year. Every year it's the same story: when it finally gets around to December, I hurry to watch all the movies, play all the games, and listen to all the music that looked good but I hadn't had a chance to sample all year. Then I procrastinate compiling the lists, and worst of all, providing some sort of commentary about my choices. That's why this year, most of the commentary devolved into an almost stream-of-consciousness series of blurbs, without any good, thorough explanation. Oh well. For better or worse, the point is that I've now officially wrapped up another year. Hope you enjoy it.

Album of the Year: Year Zero by Nine Inch Nails
Runners-Up: In Rainbows by Radiohead; Era Vulgaris by Queens of the Stone Age; Alive 2007 by Daft Punk; Neon Bible by Arcade Fire

Top Ten Albums
  1. Year Zero - Nine Inch Nails
  2. In Rainbows - Radiohead
  3. Era Vulgaris - Queens of the Stone Age
  4. Alive 2007 - Daft Punk
  5. Neon Bible - Arcade Fire
  6. The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust - Saul Williams
  7. Its Not How Far You Fall, Its the Way You Land - Soulsavers
  8. Zeitgeist - The Smashing Pumpkins
  9. War Stories - Unkle
  10. Icky Thump - The White Stripes
Honorable Mention: Sound of Silver by LCD Soundsystem; Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D by Nine Inch Nails; Live at Massey Hall by Neil Young; We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank by Modest Mouse.

Music DVD of the Year: (tie) Beside You In Time by Nine Inch Nails;
Unplugged in New York by Nirvana

Best Concert: The Smashing Pumpkins - Asheville, NC
Runners-Up: Queens of the Stone Age - Columbus, OH; Chris Cornell - Cincinnati, OH

Year Zero was the clear winner halfway through the year, but I was happy with the number of quality albums put out in 2007...whether or not their "pay what you want" approach to selling their new album online was really a cheap marketing gimmick, Radiohead's In Rainbows was solid...considering that the 2007 Daft Punk tour was being lauded for its incredible visuals, the fact that they only decided to release a CD of the tour shows how strongly the music stands on its own, and has convinced me that the French duo is one of the best live acts around right now...this year was full of surprises from artists I'd never really listened to before, including Arcade Fire, Unkle, LCD Soundsystem, and the White Stripes...the new Saul Williams album (a collaboration between Williams and Trent Reznor) had a superior online release strategy than Radiohead's, but with the album wasn't quite as good...Mark Lanegan is one of my favorite singers, and his partnership with the Soulsavers on their album was fantastic...Zeitgeist isn't even close to the best album put out by the Smashing Pumpkins but I was still happily surprised...Beside You In Time is one of the best concert DVDs I've seen, and the added bonus of the unedited release of Nirvana's Unplugged in New York made it a great year for concert DVDs...the massive three-hour Smashing Pumpkins concert in Asheville was easily my favorite show of the year, although all three concerts I went to were a blast.

Movie of the Year: No Country For Old Men
Runners-Up: Hot Fuzz; Control; Gone Baby Gone; The Bourne Ultimatum

The Cohen Brothers did a fantastic job with No Country For Old Men, which was easily my favorite movie all year... Hot Fuzz was another hilarious hit from the people behind Shaun of the Dead...being a Joy Division fan, I loved Control, a biopic about frontman Ian Curtis...Gone Baby Gone would have been the best crime drama all year if not for No Country...The Simpsons Movie could have been better, but I was still very entertained...The Host is probably the most unknown movie on the list, but it was a great comedy/horror movie out of South Korea.


I think we all knew that The Orange Box would be the Game of the Year winner hands down, and since The Orange Box actually includes three awesome new games, I decided to make it easy on myself by just picking the entire collection...Episode 2 was a fantastic new addition to the Half-Life 2 story, Team Fortress 2 is the funniest and best multiplayer game to come out in a long time, but the puzzle-based Portal probably takes the cake (corny pun intended for those who get the joke [Justin-and probably no one else])...the only game that I came close to liking as much as The Orange Box games would be Peggle, an addicting arcade game from Pop Cap Games that is definitely worth checking out.

Best TV Special/Mini-Series: (tie) Ken Burns Presents The War;
the BBC's Planet Earth

Top Gear is a hilarious British car show, which is immensely entertaining, even to someone like me who really doesn't care too much about cars...the very politically incorrect It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia and the awkward Flight of the Conchords were the two best comedies of the year...I don't really like Robot Chicken, but the Star Wars episode was classic...both Ken Burns' The War and the BBC's Planet Earth were fantastic documentaries...I'd recommend both to everyone.


Sports? 2007 was a terrible year for sports! The year started off on a horrible note with Ohio State being destroyed by Florida in the NCAA Football National Championship. The year continued down hill from there, with the disappointments including an awful year from the UC Bearcats basketball team, the Bengals' first losing season under Marvin Lewis, Rich Franklin failing in his bid to reclaim his middleweight title in the UFC, and the UC's basketball team getting off to another bad start for the 2007 season (although they have been surging in the first half of January). Then there were the other disappointments, such as the New England Patriots' undefeated run in the 2007 football season. I suppose if I stop being so melodramatic for a few seconds, I can admit that there were some bright spots in sports from 2007. I finally got to see a team I liked win the Super Bowl for the first time in years when the Colts beat the Bears. It was a fantastic year for UC football, with the Bearcats putting together an impressive season. Ohio State football put together a pretty good year too on their way to another appearance in the national championship (my disappointment over them losing again in the championship game will have to wait till next year).

Person of the Year:
I thought about including a Person of the Year category, but when I realized the only two people I'd consider giving it to would be Ron Paul or Trent Reznor, I decided that maybe it wasn't such a good idea. My support for Ron Paul is no secret and I'm sure most of you have heard me ramble more than you'd like to over how he's one of the few politicians who is trying to defend our civil rights, protect the Constitution, and limit the power of the federal government. Then there's Trent Reznor, who has to be the most exciting person in music right now. He has been an outspoken critic of the record industry (dropping his Interscope label this year after fulfilling his contractual obligations to them), orchestrated most the writing, production, and online release of the new Saul Williams album, and as if that wasn't enough, released a fantastic new Nine Inch Nails record, a remix album for that record, and a great live DVD. Always looking out for his fans, Reznor released the mixing tracks for every song on Year Zero (allowing fans to create their own remixes), launched a remix website for fans to post their remixes, and openly encouraging fans to "steal" his music rather than pay the ridiculous prices set by the record labels. These two men are the best people out there right now in their respective fields, but since everyone is probably sick of hearing about them from me, I decided not to say anything about them.

Well that's it for this year. Tune in around this time next year for the same old story.

an occupation to stand alone

Mark Lanegan--the grunge legend of The Screaming Trees and his own solo career--is commencing a tour in support of his newest act, the Gutter Twins in March. Lanegan is probably one of my all time favorite singers (we'll call him a poor man's Tom Waits, but that doesn't quite do him justice), and it was just announced that the closest he'll be to Cincinnati is in Chicago on March 7th and Cleveland on the 12th. Who wants to go to one of those shows with me? I'd really love to see Mark in concert at some point. We'll call it a birthday present to me if you come along with me (and no, I'm not asking anyone to pay for me and I'll drive). Considering the obscurity of the band, I'm not expecting tickets to cost too much.

**Never mind, if I could read I'd see that the closest he'll be will be the Southgate House in Newport on March 11th. I'm totally going, even if it is by myself. Now you don't even have to commit to a road trip to go along with me.

***Yep, tickets are $15. I'm there.

Monday, January 07, 2008

black mirror knows no reflection

Jess and I went skiing at Perfect North last Friday, making it the first time in at least six years that I've skied. I got the hang of everything just fine. It was only Jess' second time skiing, and I thought she caught on really well by the end of the day. We picked the perfect day to go, too; we'd thought about going that Wednesday but the temperature was in single digits all day which would have been horrible, and clearly this sixty-degree weather we have now wouldn't have been good. Hopefully I won't wait another six years before I go again.

Thursday, January 03, 2008