Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Favorite Books of the Noughties: At Last

Oh, my friends, how many Noughties lists I have made this month! And how quickly they will go stale, like Christmas cake left under the couch. But now you'll know what I LIKE while I'm busy complaining all the rest of the year about the things I LOATHE.

It is worthwhile to say that I also loved Stephen King's Dark Tower series, particularly Song of Susannah, and J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series (who DIDN'T, I ask you?). Honorable mention as well to the Dune books of Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson, 'Anonymous Rex' by Eric Garcia, Eoin Colfer's 'And Another Thing..'. I'll stop there. It's a reminder to me that I don't read enough, and that there are many things I never got around to that would probably be equally well suited to this list. But it's favorites, it's subjective, and mine, and it stands.

(Why eight? Screw you.)

8. Why We Suck by Dr. Denis Leary
Just as in TV, I love comedy, and in this case I find it very instructive. A self-help book VASTLY more helpful than that balderdash 'The Secret' (oh yeah, the Universe is so generous that if you just WISH REAL HARD it will just GIVE you any frakking thing you desire regardless of what you deserve. THAT'S how the universe works, sure, right. That's why so many people die every minute. Of starvation, for example. They weren't WISHING TO LIVE hard enough.) And yes, Denis Leary-- more of a doctor than that douchebag Dr. Phil. A balm of a book for those of us sick of the entitled, pompous jerks humans so easily become.

7. Star Wars: Millenium Falcon by James Luceno
I like tripe. So sue me. I've read forests of TV and movie tie-ins. This one was a lot more fun than most, a family adventure exploring the history of the greatest spaceship character of them all. Sorry, Moya, Planet Express Ship, Enterprise. You know I love you all. (Mike loves all spaceships equally: this entry is entirely arbitrary.)

6. Our Inner Ape by Franz de Waal
I love monkeys. Good thing, too, that's what us primates are, at heart. This Dutch dude had plenty to say on the bonobos and their similarities and differences to the human monkey. Most of which stuck when I read it and I find myself interjecting factoids from this book into conversation even (perhaps especially) when it isn't appropriate.

5. Jennifer Government by Max Barry
Tongue-in-cheek detective adventure in a cynical consumerist dystopia. And from Mike Bookstore to all of you this festive season: "Drink Coke, Enjoy Stomach Cancer".

4. Last Words by George Carlin & Tony Hendra
My friend Darrel played some Carlin comedy monologues for me this year, I watched some of his routines on YouTube and HBO. That old dead guy was awesome. Funny, yes, whip-smart, too, and with some vital introspection as well. Farewell, Rufus dude. May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house.

3. Mike Nelson's Mind Over Matters by Mike Nelson
It's a bunch of facetious, meandering anecdotes. By a giant, meaty Midwesterner who talked to puppets for a living. I love it so. Making the pessimism of Schopenhauer funny? Priceless.

2. Variable Star by Robert A. Heinlein & Spider Robinson
Another dead guy, plus his quirky acolyte. And one of the better books I've read, ever. I guess after buildings fall, and our world view is shattered, we tend toward cynicism, misery, German sitcoms, and other painful pursuits. And that's probably healthy, I don't know. Nothing wrong with it, at least. This is not one of those pessimistic entertainments. Optimism in the face of disaster sucks. And it's the only choice that makes me happy.

1. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds 9 by 22 lovely people who aren't me... AND ME!!!
Speaking of things that make me happy, three years ago I got to taste the manna from heaven that is being a published author. And I've made precious little progress on that front since. But, what the hell. The best thing about the future is that there's more of it tomorrow, right?

So happy new year! Keep reading, keep writing, keep bumping uglies, and let's make 2010 into something even more awesome than the Roy Scheider movie of the same name.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Favorite Comicbooks of the Noughties

Two days left in the decade, two blogs of favorites left to tell. Obviously, these last two posts had the most thought go into them, but they were also the hardest to winnow down to a scant eight (except music, music was a bitch as well).
Anyway, I wasn't a comic fan since birth, just since this decade and its stumbling, fumbling, often humbling comic book movies edged me over that way. Superheroes and sci-fi remain my main concern, so this list should surprise no-one. Anywhere. EVER.
I also want to give honorable mention, first to the artists I fail to mention in my top eight, you've done a bang-up job but I don't remember all your names. Also to Gail Simone- she's really damn great and this list came up something of a sausage-fest... sorry. Finally, to neglect them was like tearing out little bits of my soul, so to JSA, Star Wars: Tag & Bink Are Dead, Franklin Richards: Son Of A Genius, The Irredeemable Ant-Man, and every single Boom! Studios Comic I've ever read-- you all rock. And so, skipping the list I intended to make of my 8 favorite things Joe Quesada did to make me stop buying Spider-Man, here is:

(Why eight? That's how many fingers I have left with two thumbs up.)

8. Ultimate Spider-Man by Brian Bendis, Mark Bagley, & Stuart Immonen
Making the most of the Marvel movie audience, this comic revamped Spidey's origin and the events of his tumultuous 15th year. For a whole decade (and counting) it's been the only trade series I've bought consistently. Bendis deserves my praise for Daredevil, Alias, and Avengers as well.

7. Amazing Spider-Man by J. Michael Strazynski & John Romita Jr.
Trapped for decades in teenager mode, Spider-Man FINALLY had some stories where he acted like a grown-up. Mentoring and inspiring his students, patching the rifts with his wife, exploring his spiritual side, facing his mortality, sharing the truth of his dual life with his beloved Aunt May, and much more. Splendid art and mature storytelling highlight a series I may never be willing to buy again. (for full details, ask a Skrull named Joe Q.)
JRJR does a wonderful job on anything he's attached to, and JMS's Thor is also quite good. And considering how rarely I give a crap about Thor, that's saying something.

6. Strangers In Paradise by Terry Moore
Zounds! It isn't a superhero comic. It's on the list because it's charming, funny, romantic and sexy. I really have to buy this series and read it all, because there are times when superhero comics fail to have the answers to the questions that matter to me. Like the ineffability of the human heart and other poetic crap.

5. Invincible by Robert Kirkman & Cory Walker
I like everything I've read by Kirkman, no exaggeration of his talents is possible. From Marvel Team-Up to The Walking Dead he always does right by me and it's another series I need to buy and catch up on. There's an alien in it called Al the Alien. I'm really not doing it justice. Just read it, o.k.? Thanks.

4. Green Lantern by Geoff Johns
I wish I liked Hal Jordan more, because everything GJ has done for GL is awe-inspiring. I literally think Johns could start a religion with this 'emotional spectrum' jazz. From GL: Rebirth to the Sinestro Corps War to the astonishingly good Blackest Night I cannot gush enough. Sci-fi superheroics cleverly weaving stories from decades past into richer tapestries. Go, Geoff, go!

3. Legion of Superheroes by Mark Waid & Barry Kitson
They're a good team, Waid and Kitson. The Legion are also a good team.
See Legion Week or any Legion comic ever for details.

2. She-Hulk by Dan Slott, Ty Templeton, & Juan Bobillo
I don't buy as many comics as I want to. I can't afford it. And Marvel comics doesn't need my help anymore. They've got Disney. And Disney NEEDS to give me a She-Hulk movie. I don't ask for much. Just figure out how to expertly balance superheroics, legal drama, and comedy with a metatextual, metrosexual, werewolf-marrying, barfing-on-her-boss green supergal. Actually, considering how well superhero comedy has done historically I'm surprised this lasted as long as it did. Thanks, Dan & Ty.

1. 52 by Mark Waid, Greg Rucka, Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns, Keith Giffen et al
Bookmonkey said what needs to be said. As far as I'm concerned, this was the best thing superhero books did this decade: in terms of sheer output, art and writing quality combined to make something more than the sum of its parts. EVERY WEEK FOR A DAMN YEAR!

Thanks to these and so many others, I am a comic fanatic for life despite all the continuity screw-ups, cross-over convolutions, crazy-making cost per cover, and kooky Quesadas.
Make mine Comics!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My Favorite Live-Action TV of the Noughties

Hope you all had delightful Christmases and will have a New Year of wondrous splendor! Speaking of which, here's what was the best in television in the last decade. Not just my considered opinion, but the god's honest truth. Beg to differ? Blow me. Metaphorically, of course. Then, go write your own blog.

The Top 8 TV Shows that weren't cartoons in 2000-2009
(Why eight? That's how many fingers I have left with two thumbs up!)

8. Star Trek: Enterprise- Because it tried so hard. Because I love the cast if not always the writing. Because it was Star Trek, damn it. You don't stop loving a thing just because it's old and busted.

7. Better Off Ted- You can love the brand new better, though, because hell, you can't top a good laugh. Make mine Octochicken.

6. House- There are actually TWO NON-GENRE things on this list. Could I actually be... (gasp!)
I'm... growing? Opening my mind to new ideas? Seeing the world in an other-than-sci-fi light?
The answer is no. My cerebellum is hopelessly calcified in favor of its chosen genre and there's nothing you can do about it. Again, if you want stuff like that go write your own blog, cretins. But seriously, this is a hell of a good doctor show.

5. How I Met Your Mother- Did I say two? I must have meant two comedies and doctor show, bee-yotches! Looks like I win the slap bet!

4. The Big Bang Theory- Actually, I'm starting to scare myself, now. You'd think comedy was my only criteria for this list! Doesn't Mike like sci-fi AT ALL anymore? Well, obviously and logically I still do. But, I just can't stop laughing when I think of Cylon toast. BSG itself didn't bring any joy to my life or make me laugh since... well,.. ever.

3. Firefly- Fun, adventure, AND sci-fi? Better cancel this one before audiences start to think TV could be more than a flavorless mudder's milk of mind-numbing tedium.

2. The Tick- And cancel this one too! Geezus! You people just hate Ben Edlund, don't you? Arrgh! O.K. it was the purest madness to assume you could make a sitcom this specialized and expensive. But sometimes madness is the sanest choice of all! Remember, there is no magic hubcap. The magic was within YOU all along.

1. Doctor Who- It has everything. I liked the classic series but I love this one. I want to marry this series and have ten miniseries with it. It was fantastic.

Did I forget your favorite? TOO BAD!! Tell me why I suck!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My Favorite Characters: Green and Mean

Kim Possible is a children's cartoon, which is ideal for me to enjoy as I am a giant mid-thirties child.
I also have a fetish for the green ladies, such as She-Hulk, Orions, and even Brainiac 5's MILF Brainiac 4. Is that wrong? I answer my own question: undoubtedly.
But despite my unwholesome proclivities, the best cartoon villainess of the Noughties (2000-2009) award STILL has to go to Shego as voiced by the lovely and very comically talented Nicole Sullivan.
Never playing second fiddle to John Dimaggio's incompetent but boundlessly determined mad scientist Dr. Drakken, the pair instead became a bickering duo. Never really intended to be used as much as they were either, apparently, but they were just too much fun for the writers and audience alike.
Shego's origin story is very like that of the Fantastic Four: endowed with strange powers by radiation along with her family, she was a member of a high-profile superhero team. Until she got fed up. Surrounded by her dopey, do-gooding brothers she opted instead for the wild and lucrative life of selfishness and villainy. She abandoned the defense of Go City for easy-pickings in Middleton.
And managed to saddle herself with another dope. But at least Dr. Drakken is in it for the money and power. A cad after her own heart. A rotter she can almost admire. But she'd never let him think he was in charge, oh no.
Shego is as sultry a catburgler as Catwoman, as skilled in the martial arts as Mr. Jackie Chan (real or cartoon), and as sarcastic as seven Chandler Bings.
She has very little patience, almost no regard for others, and has made it her life's work to defeat a high school girl. You gotta respect her ability to set attainable goals.
Is it wrong to crush on a cartoon villainess?
I'm almost certain my wife would say yes.
But you married me, lady. It's too late now.

Monday, December 14, 2009

My Favorite Musicals of the Noughties

In making a list of favorite music of the decade, I discovered if I flaked off songs from musicals and TV theme tunes I could create whole new categories. That's why I am awesome!
There are many other possibilities, of course, but as I do not live in New York or L.A. I have not seen half of the musicals "available". Also, I am not made of cash. Also, I haven't seen the High School Musicals and I find all the characters on Glee shallow, inhuman, and reprehensible. Like Kath & Kim without the warmth. If I wanted to see lizards in human skin singing with artificial voices, I'd make my own TV show. Never mind, no, I wouldn't I'm far too lazy. So rather than waste your time with a list of eight musicals I've never made, I bring you.


8. Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny- Classico alone should earn this admittedly imperfect movie a place in our hearts forever. Or be quickly forgotten. Whichever.

7. Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog- So They Say, like the rest of these songs, was finalist for my favorite of the decade. I was willing to trade happy ending for message here, and this HUGO winner was something I preferred to many Hugo NOVELS I've read.

6. My Musical: Scrubs- Friends Forever/What's Going to Happen To Me?
I'm not sure if I'll last with Scrubs: Med School but I love this musical TV episode very much indeed. I well up inside sometimes. In a manly way! And 'Guy Love' is uncompromisingly, uncomfortably hetero and also the gayest of songs. Sometimes you just have to say it: I love you, man.

5. Once More With Feeling: Buffy the Vampire Slayer- Walk Through the Fire never fails to impress me. The whole episode is full of non-expert singers but the music and lyrics triumph anyway. No, I'm not kidding. This is really f@#king good, damnit!

4. Flight of the Conchords the series was the best thing on TV. Is this hyperbole? Is this subjective? Should I just say my favorite? No. It's the best.

3. Hairspray- You Can't Stop the Beat & Without Love are wonderous. My wife played this soundtrack for me, and I still have to imagine the stage play because I've only seen the movie. And I wish they'd let the villainous Van Tussles sing in the movie version because that's one of the most important things I hear in the song: even the villains are allowed to become part of the new world the heroes are singing about. That's what a happy ending SHOULD be.

2. Avenue Q- Schadenfraude & There is Life Outside Your Apartment
The crippling cynicism of modern life coupled with the infectious cuteness of the Street of Sesame was a brilliant notion and I still desperately hope to see this performed someday.

1. Wicked- Defying Gravity & As Long as You're Mine win the best musical of the decade in my book. My wife took me to a performance in London for my 33rd birthday. It was utterly splendid. I was stunned by the ending (having read the book version) but I realised over a bacon and chicken sarnie in a carboard box from Marks and Sparks that I liked it. A lot.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My Favorite Video Games of the Noughties

Man, my thumb aches! I spent the morning and much of last night playing Super Mario Wii with my wife and I've contracted what used to be called Nintendo thumb back in the day. So at the risk of alienating my SIX FOLLOWERS (!) (BTW, thanks, all) I'm going to forgo my list of 8 TV hucksters you should feel comfortable sending your old gold to, and bring you this instead.

(Why Eight? That's how many fingers I've got left when I've got both thumbs up.)

8. New Super Mario Bros. Wii- If the Jones' hadn't loaned this to us, I'd have led with Peasant's Quest, which at least deserves a mention because Trogdor and all the doomed fools who dare oppose him make for a really fine PC adventure parody and I've missed those since I last played Space Quest. Anyway, Super Mario Wii, despite the crippling, debilitating thumb pain, is a sheer delight. Newcomer, yes, but I'm confident it will provide us with many hours of fun at varying degrees of competency. Propeller hats, penguin suits, awesome music and graphics, it's like every previous Mario game at once. But I haven't seen any veggies to pluck up and throw. I'll settle for barrels and my team-mate. Sorry, Mario!

7. Spider-Man 2- The Playstation 2 was my go-to platform this decade. I just don't play as much as I used to, so this list was one of the easiest to make: I probably only tried 20 new games in the last 10 years. But I'm not going to leave off the list any game where the training level has Bruce Campbell hurling abuse at you while you plummet to your imminent death learning to sling a web, any size. I've never completed it, which in fairness is true of every game on this list except number one.

6. Mario Kart Wii- It's also a newbie, but I had a hoot and a half trying it out with our pals the Jones'. I spent most of our first session careening into bottomless pits, but I found steering with the nunchuck joystick instead of the wand itself the second time out improved my not-crashing record amazingly. In fact, I think REAL cars, and indeed starships, should be piloted with joysticks. Who's with me?

5. Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga- I am a great fan of the LEGO games, never thought I would be but there's something deeply satisfying about the shapes I imprinted on as a child, the detailed environments, the puzzles to solve, and the unkillable nature of avatars made out of plastic bricks.

4. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City- A fair few of my traditional New Years Eve parties with Bookmonkey and his family have included this amoral, ANTI-moral, so-sick-it's-well-again kill-fest. I can't tell you how much fun I've had controlling a Hawaiian shirt-wearing, 80's rock-listening, hooker-beating, maniacally vehicular manslaughtering ne'er-do-well through virtual Florida streets. I can't tell you because I'm of the opinion that a year's worth of petty frustrations can be poured into this sort of vicious artificial mayhem and that it prevents me ever actually taking to the streets on a rampage. Of course, there is the school of thought that such games warp young minds and CAUSE real-world violence. Screw you, school of thought!

3. Star Wars: Battlefront 2- Playstation brought me and my then-fiance closer as we exploded one another on the ice plains of Hoth. I have spent more happy hours with this game, shooting droids, respawning, snatching the chance to play as Vader racing at inhuman speeds, saber drawn, cape billowing out behind me, riding tauntauns, crushing my foes with my AT-AT. Ah, good times. Yes, the first 'Battlefront' was a delight. Yes, 'Force Unleashed' would probably rule if I could figure out how to run the insanely complicated force powers. But SWBF2 will always have a special place in my hard, cloned heart.

2. Rock Band Wii- I think I get more fun out of games I play with groups, at least I've started to feel that way lately. Great times with this one, thanks to the people I've played with as much as the music and the challenge. Guitar Hero may have been eclipsed by Rock Band, sadly, but it deserves to be mentioned because I've also had some amazing moments of total solo bliss with my '80's tuneage, clicking and clacking out the chords to Asia's 'Heat of the Moment'. You probably had to be there. My embarrassed wife was.

1. Katamari Damacy- It's got just about everything I could ask for. The chaos and mayhem of Grand Theft Auto (but less bloody), the color and spectacle and sound of the Mario games, and the fine times of camaraderie provided by all of the above. I have enjoyed the experience, and indeed, the tidy philosophy of this bizarre game: where all problems can be solved by rolling things into an ever-expanding, squirming ball of objects and creatures and hurling them into the sun. Get into the Clump Spirit with the Prince of All Cosmos!

We could all take a lesson from these fine video games. And here's to the wonders of the next decade: I'm looking forward to Star Trek Online, myself. I've never really gotten involved in a MMORPG- but it's probably less awful and more addictive than it sounds.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My Favorite Comicbook Villain of the Noughties: Superboy-Prime

No, I'm not kidding.
I was planning a villain to be my character of the week for a few weeks now, but Bookmonkey beat me to the punch! Look at him over there, with his nearly 52 posts. That guy rules, you should really read his blog. Really. READ IT!
So why Superboy-Prime? I genuinely think he's the best new villain in comics this decade. Sorry, Omni-Man, you could completely kick my face, plus as a Viltrumite here to conquer our world and knock up our ladies, you are totally an asshole, no question. (Read Invincible, boys and goils.)
See, I was never that big into DC comics until the Infinite Crisis. In the summer of 2005 Geoff Johns, Brad Meltzer, Gail Simone and a whole gang of their co-workers convinced me Marvel wasn't the only game in town.
Although he previously existed as a minor hero, Superboy-Prime becomes a villain in this storyline, and still one of the finest villains going, to my taste.
Hear me, Geoff: ya done good. I may be able to forgive you for 'She-Hulk runs on fear' someday. Don't listen to anyone who says you didn't write a splendid villain.
Clark Kent, (the Superboy of Earth Prime where DC comics are just fictions) thanks in part to extreme isolation and the regrettable advice of Earth-3's zealot Alexander Luthor, has concluded that Nothing that exists Anywhere is Good Enough. Nothing is as good as he remembers it, in fact, nothing ANYWHERE IN THE UNIVERSES matters except himself. He literally pulls people apart because he thinks they are 'lame'. His thinking has become insane, selfish, and infantile while his powers are sufficient to shatter planets. He's a mad god with a superiority complex and he's the most hurtful thing he could be: a Fan. He's a comic book collector. He's a critic who cannot muster a positive review. He's the villain who could be You.
This, I think, is what sticks in some people's craws.
Even the inestimable Linkara hates him. And I agree with almost eveything that guy spews!
Seriously, Linkara is awesome.
I can't speak to why Superboy-Prime is so badly written in 'Countdown', except that this sentence explains itself. IT'S COUNTDOWN! No, I'm not linking to it. It stinks! KYLE RAYNER is a moron in Countdown. And Donna Troy, too. And the Monitors. It didn't do ANYONE any favors. Chock fulla morons.
Superboy-Prime has a horrifying kill count, including all of Earth-15 and Universe-51. Which aren't as personally hurtful as his callous murders of Pantha of the Teen Titans or Rond Vidar of the Legion. Minor character? Yeees. Still. Awful.
And, worst of all, I UNDERSTOOD his motives. It's all very well to be the Joker and just be Nucking Futs. People are fine with THAT. But Superboy-Prime is looking at the whole of the DC universe amassed since 1985 and thinking what I, Mike, thought: this is NOT a place I want to visit. Wanton, meaningless violence. 'Heroes' as bad as their enemies. Just dark, vicious, endless badly drawn brawls in back alleys and Wonder Woman in a jean jacket.
The difference between little Superdink and I is that I am entirely powerless and hopefully less selfish. I won't be flailing around in anguish because everyone sucks and tearing heads off to prove it anytime soon. But... he does what a villain must: warn us of what we can become at our worst. Superboy-P showed me that needy, embarrassing, whining dark side.
Don't allow yourself to grow so jaded, so anhedonic, so lonely and cut-off from the world that you end up like this jerkus. Choose your friends carefully, but for Mxyzptlk's sake- HAVE FRIENDS! Don't set your standards impossibly high or slack-assedly low. Remember, you are not the only person with feelings. Worlds may not be at stake for realsies, but every individual contains worlds of possibility. So for showing me a face I hope to avoid but find delicious to revisit, thank you again, Geoff Johns.

Monday, December 7, 2009

My Favorite TV Cartoons of the Noughties

What up? You'd never know it by reading my blog but by certain standards I've wasted my life. It's true! How many hours of cartoons do you have to watch to decide on your favorites of the decade? A metric crapload, that's how many. And if that measurement makes any sense to you, it's because you ALSO have an overdose of pop culture. So I'll skip my list of the eight kindest characters on The Venture Brothers, to bring you this nugget of wisdom.

(Why eight? Because that's how many fingers I have left over with both thumbs up!!)

8. Azumanga Daioh-
The ever-toiling natives of that friendly island in the sea, Japan, brought me many cartoons in the last ten years. And I hardly saw any of them. I suspect I will enjoy Trigun and Full Metal Panic and probably Sgt. Frog, someday. So with apologies to every anime I HAVEN'T seen, I applaud this entirely NON-GENRE program which wins my heart with the sweet and the ordinary rather than with the flying cars and the alien freeloaders I tend to gravitate toward. Cooking IS so fun!

7. Undergrads -
Out, out brief candle! Cal, may you never learn a thing. Rocko, may your liver hold out. Nitz, may you figure out what you want before it's too late. And sweet Gimpy, may flights of TIE fighters sing thee to thy rest.

6. Batman: The Brave and The Bold -
It hasn't been on that long, and toon lifespans being what they are these days I encourage you to enjoy it while it lasts. Old school superheroin' done right, booey!

5. Teen Titans-
Although Legion of Superheroes never had the chance to mature and improve, (sadly in my mind earning the nickname 'Super-Tweeny Man and the Lacklustre Teens of the Future'), Teen Titans DID have years of practice and was all the better for it. By the end of its run it was complex and elegant, and very heartfelt. Very likely the best theme song of all time, too.

4. Kim Possible-
I heard of it, dismissed it as kid stuff, and when it was done I caught it in the re-runs. And I loved it. I really like the Drakken and Shego relationship. I love to see a little of myself in not-so-super supervillains. Selfish, impotent, and world-weary, but indefatigable. Plus Ron Stoppable is a delight. He's also terrible at what he does, with certain very important exceptions. Kim herself obviously owes Buffy and others a great debt, but the show found its own voice and a fan in me.

3. Clone High-
With apologies to Total Drama Island, which was also quite amusing in its first season, I want this series back. And I'll never get it! Arrrgh! It's just tragic! And as a Kennedy, I'm not accustomed to tragedy. Darkly comic, twisted, inventive mad genius. Plus hearing the catchphrase 'You've got crabs, Ass-Face!' made me fall in love with the woman I now call my wife. Because she IS my wife. That's why I call her that. You see. And she neither has crabs nor an ass-face. Break a leg at the audition, baby!

2. Justice League Unlimited-
I may not have mentioned my affection for superheroes? Anyhoo, this series came the closest to bringing the comic book experience to life for me. The last great achievement from the folks what brung me Batman, Superman, and Justice League. But keep trying to top it! C'mon, I dare you!

1. Futurama- Maybe this is a cheat. It's either the last great prescient cartoon of the Nineties or the first awesome retro cartoon of the 30th century. And thanks to all that hard work and determination, it was all drawn by a single Australian man. A solid core cast of abominable wretches who loathe each other battle monsters and encounter creatures as diverse as the Robot Devil, the Widow Pac-Man, and the Yarn People of Nylar Four. Find your favorites below!For anyone out there still watching TWENTY DING-DONG DAD-BLASTED F@$KING years of the Simpsons, I humbly apologize and exhort you to watch the four seasons and four movies of the gut-bustingest thing the Groenigverse and its minions have ever accomplished. And remember, when push comes to shove, you gotta do what you love, even if it's not a good idea.

Friday, December 4, 2009

My Favorite Songs of the Noughties

This was so much harder to determine than I'd imagined! What ARE my favorite songs from the decade 2000-2009? How, for example, to be fair to They Might Be Giants' latest album, since 'My Brother the Ape ' is very much a favorite right now, but it's got the advantage of being brand new. I love it NOW, but will I love it years later like TMBG's 'Experimental Film'? (See what I did there, I mentioned them anyway.) Will I still love Flight of the Conchords' 'Carol Brown' & 'Friends' when I'm 43 instead of 33? Only Mike 2019 will be able to tell me. If he is still on speaking terms with me. I should fire up the time-viewer and we'll... nah, that's a lot of bother.
So I've skewed the list towards songs I've listened to over and over for years, some growing as hard and stale as overchewed gum, abandoned, then rediscovered under a chair and stuffed back in my mouth to find I still appreciate them. I've even split off unwieldy finalists into favorite TV themes and favorite songs from musicals for later listing. But one further honorable mention should go to a song I didn't hear until recently: Joel Plaskett's 'Nowhere With You' which I heard first covered by my favorite acapella group 'Apocalypse Kow' at my friend's wedding this summer. It's plaintive, sincere, just wonderfully romantic. I wanted it here but fortunately it's more Their song than Mine. Whew! Just 8 songs left. And it only took the entire week to choose...


(Why eight? That's how many fingers I have left with both thumbs up!)

8. 'She Is Beautiful' by Andrew W.K. (2002) This song kicked my face. I even went when he played in Edmonton. Andrew W.K. was the perfect musical antidote to what I perceived as the whiny, wallowing, character-devoid, Nirvana-junkie Nineties. (I'm sorry if you like Nirvana. No, really. I'm so, so sorry.)

7. 'Steal Your Heart Away' by Fleetwood Mac (2003) I really love the album 'Say You Will', listened to it for most of that year at my job. This YouTUBE cover is sweet, too. It still serves as a reminder to me that "Alone We Suffer". Fortunately, I have not been alone for years. Thanks, wife. You are the best.

6. 'Synthesizer' by Electric Six (2003) I have no means to justify this song. Historically, I am no great fan of dance music, mostly because I believe I dance like a spastic with a low-level charge running through the cerebellum. Only more white. But it seems the lyrics are correct when they assert "you can slay the wicked beast, but you can't ignore my techno")
"Be all that you can be, just as long as you are Free."

5. 'White & Nerdy' by Weird Al Yankovic (2006) It's my anthem. I live it, I love it, I bought the T-shirt.

4. 'Robots' by Flight of the Conchords (2007) Let it stand. I love 'Bowie', 'Rambling Through the Avenues of Time', 'Hurt Feelings', 'Mutha'uckas' and so many more, but let one of the first ones I ever heard at Kirk's place on YouTube remain my favorite. Much kudos to the Hiphopopotamus & the Rhymenoceros.

3. 'Fett's Vette' by MC Chris (2001) A hip-hop loving white kid created the best high-speed, foul mouthed tribute to Star Wars' most-eaten-alive bounty hunter. I have never mastered this nerdly tongue-twister and I will never stop trying.

2. 'Tribute' by Tenacious D (2001) This song is the very definition of Awesome Sauce. I think my favorite part except for every f*@king stanza is the idea that it is not itself 'the greatest and best song in the world' (debatable) but is 'just a tribute'.

1. 'What Aboout Everything?' by Carbon Leaf (2004) I do not think I have much poetry in my soul. Cobain-lovers are agreeing with me. Or plotting my death. (It was just a joke! It was all fer a laugh!) Yet this song, which I first experienced coupled with a YouTube Dr. Who music video, continues to stir my heart, not just with the simple loveliness of the tune, but also the bittersweet poetry in the lyrics. It is hands down my favorite song of the decade.

But I guarantee you I'll bang my palm to my forehead in a few days and say 'I wish I'd mentioned (insert best song ever!)'. Just like how my 8 favorite movies list is missing 'Year One' and my 8 Best Unreleased DVDs didn't mention 'Duck Dodgers' or 'Muppets Tonight'.
So, these blogs are, at best, nuggets of the moment. Kind of like songs.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My Favorite Character of the Noughties: The 10th Doctor

From two thousand to two thousand ought-nine fiction has brought out plenty of new characters, many of whom are very appealing, and will surely be covered here someday anon. For today, though, I'm going to skip my detailed plans to list the top eight attractive Sea Devils, and bring you this instead:
For the last five years, actor David Tennant has put his unique bio-stamp on the longest-serving TV alien of all time: the formerly obscure and now ubiquitous Doctor from the dead planet Gallifrey. The BBC in Wales began throwing great writers, excellent actors, and scads of cash at Doctor Who in 2004, and the program (about a strange man who roams time and space in an old phone box) soared once more.
It's a really, really, really, REALLY exceedingly damn good show. Running continuously since 1963 (with a minor 15 year long exception) Doctor Who boasts the unique and brilliantly clever device of regeneration, allowing the alien Doctor to genetically 'reboot' and take on a whole new appearance and persona each time he meets with death in the pursuit of saving the galaxies from horrible monsters.
The ninth incarnation was really fantastic. I'm rather partial to the seventh and fourth as well.
Everyone has their favorite. Mine is the tenth.
He is splendid. It seems like he's run the entire gamut of emotion in the last 5 years. He's taken down villanous scarecrows and hideous stone angels. He's saved the human race in the year 5 billion. He's loved a human girl and lost her over and over. He's even been copied into a half-human form which finally managed to... well, spoilers. Also, he eats peanut butter out of the jar with his hands.
His companions are brilliant. Rose, Martha, Jack, Sarah Jane... I almost made this post about Donna, frankly. And Donna's granddad Wilf as well. Oh, they're so brilliant! See, good writers, great actors... Yeah! Just, yeah! This is the sort of thing that brings out Gushy McFanboy. The Doctor's tenth incarnation has so much to admire. Running about, healing crowds of zombies, kissing girls, hamming it up while metabolizing poison, weeping at the death of his greatest adversary. A great pacifist, the Doctor, but also a fighter of evil in any form. He's very funny. Very, very silly. Then he'll suddenly turn quite serious, indeed. He's a great one for contrasts. I'd venture to say he's all things to all people. A lonely little boy. A tired old man. A wild-eyed optimist. The universe's cruelest cynic. A romantic. A heartsickened fool. Skilled beyond all reason and hopelessly lost as well.
It sure doesn't hurt that he's handsome. You won't catch my wife ogling the seventh doctor (Sorry, Mr. McCoy).
The 10th Doctor has over 900 years worth of experiences in all the galaxies and all the time that has ever been and some parrallel worlds as well. He has a vast reservoir of love for all living things, and a giant hurt at the loss of his people, his home, his planet. I admire this character for bravery and the strength of his intelligence. For his love of life.
And after so many have come to love him back, this Christmas and New Years we all will have to watch him suffer and die.
His character may be tested, but I have much faith in him.
He's saved us from our nightmares and ourselves countless times before, I'm sure he'll keep right on doing it until The End of Time...
Uh, oh. That's what this next one's called.
Oh, dear.
Long Live the Doctor. Splendid chaps, all of them.