Thoughts, notes, observations on the everyday nonsense of American Pop Culture from one of the most not-hip people on the face of the planet...

Friday, June 24, 2005

AFI missed a few

AFI picks the best movie lines? Not quite.

Yes, the American Film Institute, once again, thinks it is the end-all-be-all of movies and decided to make some sort of list meant to resonate as “the truth” throughout pop culture. I agree with it, for the most part. The top 10, especially makes sense when you take movie history into account.

But I think the AFI was stuck in its own age group a bit too much, because if they made this list the most quoted movie quotes, it’d be quite a bit different. Many of these movies I’ve never seen and I don’t think even permeated culture enough for any lasting quotability (c’mon Animal Crackers?) So, I present to you a few of long lost quoted quotables for your consideration:

  • “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for – move along.” And/or “That’s no moon…. it’s a space station.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars
  • “I recommend you start drinking heavily.” – Bluto, Animal House
  • “This is where Cameron goes berserk.” – Ferris Bueller, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  • “You're out of your element Donny!” Walter, The Big Lebowski
  • “I’m not even supposed to be here today!” – Dante, Clerks
  • “I am a Golden God. I dig music. And I’m on drugs!” – Russell, Almost Famous
  • “Stuntcock!” – Everyone, Orgazmo
  • “I swear to god, I'll pistol whip the next guy that says shenanigans!”- Chief O’Hagen, Super Troopers (but it’s hard to pick just one!)
  • "I do believe you have my stapler..." - Milton, Office Space
  • “The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.” – Jules, Pulp Fiction (another tough one)
  • “How many assholes are on this ship, anyway?” – Dark Helmet, Spaceballs
  • “It’s twue! It’s twue!” - Lili von Schtup, Blazing Saddles
  • "You see, in this world there's two kinds of people, my friend: Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig." - Man With No Name, The Good, the bad and the ugly
  • "Well, you may run like Mays, but you hit like shit." - Lou Brown, Major League

    OK….that’s enough for now. If I listed every movie I regularly reference, I’d be writing all day. What would you add?

  • Monday, June 20, 2005

    Lane Smith, you rocked

    This week, America lost an underrated figure in pop culture” Lane Smith, who died at age 69 early last week. Who, you ask? Only one of the best character actors ever. C’mon, you know this guy.

    He is known to many as “that prosecuting attorney in My Cousin Vinny”…but in my heart, he’s a fake journalism icon. Smith played Daily Planet editor Parry White in TV’s “Lois and Clark” - which was my favorite show at one time (and he was in the movie Network to boot).

    The man made me want to be a reporter, because he was the coolest editor ever. Though he was a bit outrageous in his editorial decisions (letting Lois Lane keep her job despite her massive idiocy and unethical behavior, for one)…he was surprisingly realistic in his demeanor. He was a take-no-prisoners news mind for the fictional ages. So I loved him.

    Thanks a lot, Mr. Smith. Though you toiled in relative obscurity and had to make a film with Pauly Shore, you were a big part of my formative years.

    Tuesday, June 14, 2005

    Radar returns!

    On my just-concluded vacation, I made quite a discovery. I was browsing the newsstand at Chicago Midway Airport when the bright, silly cover of Radar magazine caught my eye. With a photo of President Bush giving a medal to Paris Hilton, how could it not?

    Well, it isn't exactly new...but it's new to mos tof us that don't live in New York. It's actually plucky relaunch of the often-cited, short-lived (and wildy overhyped) Radar of two years ago - and this time the mag seems to have found a new groove (and actually getting play in the more-interesting-than-they-thought Midwest).

    Radar’s tagline describes its wide range of stories to a T: Pop. Politics. Glamour. Gossip. A magazine for pop culture fanatics, cynical politics aficionados, liberal readers and general haters…Radar is a long time coming. With a cynical, smart-ass tone that doesn’t bother to hide bias (or play nice), Radar tackles issues from faked fame to child stars to a surprisingly candid and heartfelt story from the front lines in Iraq. And the takes it has on business, politics and media has a feel as if it is written specifically for those in the media business (and its most adamant consumers).

    It isn’t a piece of crap gossip rag like Us Weekly or a serious thumb-sucker like Time or Newsweek – it takes the best of both and shakes it up with a healthy style influx from Slate and Salon. More blog than paper, more attitude than’s exactly what a smart reader needs for a quick read. Check it out.

    Tuesday, June 07, 2005

    And I just had to share this...

    I found a kindred soul in the business who hates on Coldplay even worse than I do...but for the exact same reasons.

    The most e-mailed story on the NYT site today, this review single-handed describes why anyone with the right amount of cynicism can easily dismiss this band's completely unearned status in the world of music. Not since Triumph did his share of ragging in 2003's "I Keed" has Coldplay backlash been so much fun. This hate is a work of art. Absolutely beautiful.

    Singles Watch - June '05

    The radio is alive with the sound of excellent new music. It seems that everyone who's anyone has a new album or addictive single out. Here’s a short list of the summer songs sure to be the touchstones of 2005:

    - “Blue Orchid” by The White Stripes

    Like just about every other first single off a Stripes album, this song rocks from the window to the wall. Every time this single hits the radio or my iPod, I can’t help but rock out. The freak show that is Jack White is back in high-pitched rocker mode, with a healthy dose of jagged guitar and a creepy ‘stache. And Meg, bless her heart, she can’t play the drums worth a damn, but she manages to keep a thwup of a beat in this song that keeps hands banging on steering wheels and tabletops nationwide. Let’s hope the rest of the album turns out just as well as this little preview (comes out tomorrow).

    -“Feel Good, Inc.” by Gorillaz

    Yes, its ‘that cartoon band.’ They’re back with better animation, but a whole lotta great sound. The combination of Damon Albarn’s dreamlike vocals and the hip-hop stylings of guests De La Soul, this song has all the makings of a great cruiser song. Equal parts trip and hip, I can’t imagine how this album could possibly be bad (haven’t heard other tracks as yet, anyone else?).

    -“Chocolate” by Snow Patrol

    I will concede that this song is in the same vein as just about everything put out by Switchfoot or Keane and it just might be a bit of a girly-melty-pop song…but the lyrics alone are enough to win my ears over. It snuck up on me, I’ll admit, but has become a song I sing along with on the radio.

    -“Finding Out True Love is Blind” by Louis XIV

    Now this song isn’t exactly new, but it is such a summer song. Lead singer/guitarist Jason Hill seems to be channeling the Rolling Stones in their younger days with this rollicking, brash song extolling the virtues of interracial sex. And the come hither female chorus is just so very….hot. There’s really no other way to describe lyrics like this.

    -Wait (The Whisper Song) by the Ying Yang Twins
    OK, it might not really look like it fits into this collection, but this gets mentioned solely because it has to be the most over-the-top rap song ever made. The uncensored version of this entirely whispered song is the most hilariously raunchy dead-serious single to hit rap radio as far as I’m concerned…even I feel a bit blushed singing along. I mean, it actually repeats “beat da pussy up” over and over! Fabulous.

    -“The Best of You” by the Foo Fighters/ “A Lifetime” by Better Than Ezra

    Not many bands can have an extended career without trying to “adapt” or “develop” their sound (i.e. change it because they wore it out). Both of these new singles sound as if they could have been made by these very 90s bands in the 90s…and they are none the worse for wear. As anyone who reads this know, I love 90s alt rock…and I’m glad to see it still exists. Keep on keeping on,

    Honorable Mentions:

    -“Be Yourself” by Audioslave (only cause it isn’t all that new)
    -“Speed of Sound” by Coldplay (if it didn’t sound so much like “Clocks”, it might be more notable)
    -“The Hand That Feeds” by Nine Inch Nails (OK, come on. It’s Trent Fucking Reznor. This man could sing the dictionary to a backing metal sound and I would love it.)

    Wednesday, June 01, 2005

    Beating a very attractive and skinny dead horse....

    Last night, I was unable to sleep and I was left with watching MTV’s Insomniac Music Theater (which usually knocks me right out) – on mute. For one reason or another, the network kept showing videos of various singing floozies, most of which I didn’t recognize.

    Each video had a “hot girl” wearing some form of low-slung pants, a bikini top or otherwise barely-there shirt to show off her hot girl abs, a bellybutton ring and usually some form of shiny oil to make her look…I dunno….sweaty? And, of course, each video had a dark background and a slew of background dancers who were hot, but not as hot as the “lead singer.” And the entire video in each case had no real plot or performance…it was merely a vehicle to zoom in on the “hot girl’s” body. It’s as if the music industry agents never quite came out of that “let’s find the next Britney Spears” mode.

    One of these videos, I found, was by South American Shakira, who I think has a very distinctive voice and great sound…but who I assume will never reach any sort of lasting stardom because her image is so very MTV. She looked and danced exactly like the other floozies I saw in the videos, right down to the three minutes of jump-cut video of her pulsating abs.

    Why is the music industry still putting out these cookie cutter singers? Solo female pop is on the way out (don’t believe me, just look at the charts) and it’s because of a glut in the market. As good as some of the standouts may be, I honestly couldn’t pick them out of a lineup of today’s mass-marketed hot girls. Honestly, are they even that “hot” anymore, if they all look the same?

    Girls with great voices and great talent are still dumbed down by their agents, stuffed into tight clothes to writhe to market-tested pop songs….and for what? To have a big single, an almost-nude Maxim spread and an eventual fade to nothingness?

    It’s a real shame the music industry won’t wake up and see what it needs to be doing. The younger generation has very few real female musicians. We need more Alicia Keys’, not Britney Spears’. We need more girl-fronted rock (a la Garbage), not all-girl pop-hop (a la Destiny’s Child). We need more guitar-playing singer-songwriting women, not high-pitched bump n’ grind girls.

    Hear me out there? Think of all the little mini-sluts you helped to create in our middle schools and consider what sort of music they are going to need when they are actually old enough to have sex instead of look like they’re selling it. If nothing else, think of the future, when you’ll ant to sell boxed sets on TV and you’ll find that all the industry had for about 10 years was a bunch of no-name one-hit-wonders.

    But hell, they were hot.