Monday, February 23, 2009

Ten Years Gone: The Roots - Things Fall Apart

This entry is part of an ongoing series in where I take a look back at landmark films and albums released 10 years ago.

Before Things Fall Apart, The Roots were merely respected artists that true hip hop heads name dropped to be in the know. Today, they've reached such notoriety and fame that even your mom will probably know who they are now that they'll be Jimmy Fallon's house band when he takes over Late Night on NBC. It all started with the lead single, "You Got Me," featuring neo-soul poster child, Erykah Badu. The track was something uncommon in hip hop, a love song with genuine affection that dealt with more than just bedding someone and even explored the paranoia that often arises in relationships.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ten On Tuesdays: Ten Best Cartoons of the 90's

After a few recent conversations with friends, I thought what better idea for a Ten On Tuesdays then to pick my 10 favorite cartoons of the decade in which I grew up. I don't use the word "cartoon" very lightly. For some reason, cartoons imply something targeted towards children, which is exactly what I'm going for. I'm not dealing with any of the adult-oriented, more distinguished sounding "animated series" for this list. That means no Simpsons, no South Park, no Beavis and Butthead, no King Of The Hill. None of the stuff that aired in prime time initially. I based this list on how much I enjoyed a show as a kid and how well it has stood the test of time.

1. The Tick (FOX, 1994-1997)

Oh, oddball humor. You are sorely missed on Saturday mornings. Filled with absurd plots and nonsensical monologues (courtesy of the title character), The Tick was required viewing every Saturday. Based on Ben Edlund's comic book of the same name, the show centered around a dim but noble superhero and his nebbish sidekick, Arthur, who wore a moth suit that was often confused for a bunny. The villains, who were even weirder, included the Midnight Bomber, who talked to himself all the time, Thrakkorzog, the alien who lived across the hall from The Tick and Arthur's apartment, and Chairface Chippendale, a man, who well, had a chair for a face. I look back at some of the old episodes and I'm sometimes astonished as to how The Tick made it on to children's programming considering how zany it was. This show is probably to blame a little bit for my warped sense of humor.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Live Blogging the 2009 Grammys

6:57 Showtime is near.

7:01 U2 kicking off the Grammys? Were they even nominated? Ugh! Couldn't the Academy wait till next year to shower their eventual love on them?

7:03 First time I'm listening to the new single. It's not bad, but it's such a downer to start the show off with. Would have been better if we got a more familiar song, like say one from 2008.

7:07 Whitney looked decent, but something was real off about her presentation. J-Hud for the win in a pretty weak category. The Al Green and Saadiq albums were better but didn't stand a chance.

7:09 Man, The Rock, ahem Dwayne Johnson, always brings me a smile to my face, but this is just getting awkward. He totally needs to talk smack about a few stars and layeth the smackdown.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Grammy Winner Predictions for 2009

I've always tried my hand at predicting nominees for the Grammys, but I've never done any prognosticating as to who might win. We'll see how everything turns out this Sunday. I'll also be liveblogging the Grammys this year as well.

Record of the Year

Adele-Chasing Pavements
Coldplay-Viva La Vida
Leona Lewis-Bleeding Love
M.I.A-Paper Planes
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss-Please Read The Letter

Will win: Coldplay. This category usually rewards the most popular song and tends to lean toward more current acts.
Should win: M.I.A. The Grammys have yet to really go out on a limb and give this award to a hip and deserving act.
Overlooked: Estelle's "American Boy", Pink's "So What"

Best Movies of 2008

As promised, here is the list for my favorite films of 2008. Why so late, you may ask? Well, as awesome as Chicago is, we still have to wait like the rest of the country for a lot of movies to get wide releases. In order to make the eligibility deadline for the Academy Awards, studios often release films in New York and Los Angeles, where a lot of the voting contingent resides, just so they can qualify. So while a handful of films make critics' year end list all across the board, the rest of the country usually has to wait about a few weeks to a month until they actually see some of those films at a theatre near them. It's an effective strategy for less commercial films that need all the word-of-mouth buzz they can get and to gain that all important momentum during awards season. All this means is that I had to wait a little bit longer to view some of the movies I was looking forward to seeing and why this list comes to you now in early February.

I've been doing year end lists for movies for a few years now, but this is the first time I've done it for my blog. Here are my previous number one movies:

2007: Persepolis
2006: Children Of Men
2005: Good Night, and Good Luck

I can never understand how anyone says that a year is a bad one for movies. Not every year is going to be a canon year like 1999 or 1974 and it's only about once a decade where we get a special year filled with masterpieces and popular works that redefine cinema. The high standards that a lot of us hold for a year in cinema often overshadow the number of terrific films that are released every year. Would I consider 2008 a canon year? Probably not. One thing I will say that might have a lingering effect is the high IQ of some of the year's biggest blockbuster. Wall-E, The Dark Knight and Iron Man proved that you don't have to dumb it down to reach a wide audience. Who knows? Maybe studio execs will take more chances in the future. While I wouldn't consider 2008 a special year, it was still a great one for me at the theatres. Here are the reasons why.

1. Wall-E

No other movie this year amazed me more than Wall-E. The first half of the movie gets most of the attention and deservedly so. It follows a lonely waste management robot in the future longing for company on a deserted Earth, but the way it unfurls is as cinematically beautiful as anything animated or live-action.