Favorite New Old Albums Of 2010

After listing my favorite new albums of 2010, I figured I’d also have some fun with a list of records I really dug that I bought this year, but didn’t come out in 2010. I’ve mentioned this before, but I buy a LOT of CDs on the cheap at garage sales, yard sales, flea markets and at stores. I rarely spend more than $7 on something new and get all kinds of deals at those other places, so I’ve been able to acquire lots and lots of music I missed out on in previous years. This list has a whopping 12 records and/or bands on it, but I’ve written about a few of them previously, so I won’t get into too much detail on those. Hit the jump for all the goodness you can handle! Continue reading Favorite New Old Albums Of 2010

Songs Of Summer “We Belong Together” by Mariah Carey

Like a few other entries in Songs Of Summer, I’m not sure if Mariah Carey’s “We Belong Together” actually came out in the summer or not, but I have a very distinct summer memory of the song. See, after graduating from college I went back to Toledo and spent a few months hanging around with my friends, drinking, playing Halo and working at Barry’s Bagel Shop. My friends had a house that I would go over and hang out at, which meant I spent a lot of time in the car late at night driving from their house back to my parents’ listening to the radio (the car I was driving only had a tape player).

I should probably lose every bit of credibility I’ve ever had for what I’m about to say, but Mariah Carey knows how to sing the shit out of a song and she sure does that on “We Belong Together.” I know the song’s about a break-up and everything, but it still made me think of the future missus who was living in New Hampshire (for the geographically challenged that’s a long ass distance there between NH and Ohio). I’m not sure if there’s anything quite like that feeling of useless craziness between graduating from college and getting your first real job, but I was feeling that pretty intensely for a few months until October when I got the call about an opening at Wizard. Everything changed after that, but this song still reminds me of driving through the after-midnight streets of Toledo, driving past the mall and the flashing yellow street lights, missing my lady. For the record, she still makes fun of me for buying this song on iTunes and knowing all the words, so that’s what sentimentality gets you.

Halloween Scene: Student Bodies (1981)

After watching Slaughter High and linking to it on Facebook, my buddy Harmony from Toledo (we met while working at Barry’s back in the dizzle) recommended I check out Student Bodies. Now, usually when someone suggests a cheesy-sounding horror movie from the 80s, you’re in for some campy nonsense. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Student Bodies isn’t just another slasher flick, but actually a parody in the vein of Scary Movie, but, you know funny! Zing!!!

I really really liked Student Bodies (thanks Harmony!). Not only is it funny, but it also adeptly captures the feel and tropes of the slasher genre and only a year or two after it really kicked off. Actually, as opposed to comparing it to Scary Movie, it’s like a slapsticky Scream. You get a rundown of the rules (the killer only kills people who have had or are just about to have sex). But, in addition to the characters being aware of the rules, we also get treated to on-screen clues like a body count and what not.

There’s a scene early on when this girl and her boyfriend are in her product placement-filled house while her parents are out. The boyfriend hops in the showed and the girl is killed by what looks like a walking trash bag. After he’s done, he jumps into bed with the corpse and says the amazing line “You’re not responding to my maleness.” His delivery is a bit awkward, which I’m going to guess was intentional to mock some of the crummy actors in other slasher flicks. After he gets killed, her parents come home and her mom keeps screaming at all these random things (dishes not done, food eaten, etc.) meanwhile her dad says “I hope she wasn’t murdered in our bed.” It had me rolling.

I highly recommend this movie for any horror fans, especially if you love 80s slasher movies. It nails all the beats and is over the top in a hilarious way. Good stuff. Also, there are scenes that will remind of Pulp Fiction, Home Alone, Wizard of Oz and Toxic Avenger.

Halloween Scene: Smoke and Mirrors (1997)

One of my personal reasons for analog books as opposed to digital ones is that analog ones can go on a journey with me. Sure you can take your Kindle with you, but are you really going to remember where you left off on that digital book you started reading a couples years ago? Will you even have the same Kindle in four years so you can pick it back up and finish where you left off? For me the answer is no, even though it would be better on the Earth as far as the paper use goes. Anyway, the point I’m getting at is that Neil Gaiman’s short story collection Smoke And Mirrors and I have been on our fair share of journeys. I originally bought this book back in September of 2005 when I was waiting in the Detroit airport for my flight to JFK to go in and interview for Wizard. I had been out of college for about four or five months and was wondering what the hell I was going to do with an English degree aside from heading back to the place I interned at (Wizard). I had been working days at Barry’s Bagel Place as a deli worker and spending my nights playing Halo 3 and drinking Sweet Tart Whiskey at the Chad Chad Toth house. Good times, but I felt kind of like a failure. So, when I got word that Wizard was hiring, I jumped at the chance to interview.

It wasn’t the first time I flew on my own, but it was the first time I flew on my own into JFK and then drove myself in a rental car to Nyack where I stayed in a hotel by myself and went in the next day for a job interview. It was also the first time I made a real effort to read a short story book. At this point I had read two books by Gaiman (Good Omens and Neverwhere) and none of his comics. It was a new edition of the stands as the original came out in 1997 and this one in September 2005 because it had a preview of Anansi Boys (a book sitting in my giant pile of books to read along with his next short story collection Fragile Things and a couple of his kids story books).

My interview process went really well and I felt pretty good about it. I also happened to be there for staff writer Rich Ho’s last day and I got to go out for his last day lunch and then met everyone down in Nyack for his last day. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t incredibly nervous the night before. Aside from meeting Rickey and the gang down at Olive’s the night before, I also picked up a small bottle of Jack and a 2 liter of Dr. Pepper to take the edge off. I felt like a total weirdo reading Neil Gaiman and drinking Jack and DP in a shoddy motel room, but it also kind of made me feel like a legit writer. Like, I bet Hemingway did the same thing. He loved DP, right?

Anyway, I got the job and was there for about 4 or 5 years. And, oddly enough, it took me about that long to finally finish this book. I was reading The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon for a few days when I realized it was October and decided to try and finish a horror-ish book for Halloween Scene. I can’t honestly say I remember the short stories I read four years ago or even a year ago, but I read from “We Can Get Them For You Wholesale” to “Snow, Glass, Apple” in the last month or so and I really enjoyed them. I’ll be honest, I didn’t necessarily get the poems (they’re not really my thing), but I did force myself to read through them.

It’s fascinating reading these short stories and what interested Gaiman and how he turned them into stories. “We Can Get Them For You Wholesale” takes assassination and turns it into a business like any other, “Murder Mysteries” takes a look at the very first murder in the city of Angels and “Snow, Glass, Apple” flips the script on the Snow White story, plus it has vampires! If you’ve never read any Gaiman but are interested in what the hype is about, this is a good place to start. Like I mentioned above, I only read Gaiman’s books for a long time. I think I even read American Gods before getting all the way through Sandman (both of which I highly recommend). I can’t remember all of the other comic projects of Gaiman’s I’ve read, but I haven’t been all that into them. Luckily, I started off with his books which have always been of a high quality. I think, next to Elmore Leonard, Roald Dahl, RL Stine, Christopher Pike, Dr. Suess and whoever wrote the Arthur the Aardvark books, he’s one of my most-read authors and I’ve been happy with everything I’ve read (book-wise, I couldn’t get into 1602).

So, this book definitely has sentimental value and will probably never leave my shelf. It’s been from wherever it was made, shipped to Detroit, flew to New York, flew back to Detroit, then drove to Ohio and then drove back from Ohio through Pennsylvania into New York again. It might have even made a few more road trips that I’m not thinking about (I think I took it to Ryan’s wedding in Connecticut last weekend). Anyway, it’s a fun story to tell and, even better, it’s a good book. Wouldn’t it suck if I had all these memories tied up in a book I ended up hating? Whew. Seriously though, Gaiman’s books are amazing and they’re not all “Goth craziness” like people might think thanks to the more vocal Sandman fans (ankhs for everyone!). Check it out!

Still Waiting…for a good follow up to Waiting

Back before I moved out here in 2005, I went with a couple of my friends who also worked at the Bagel Place (which has since been demolished and rebuilt as something…very different)to see Waiting… starring Ryan Reynolds, Justin Long and Anna Faris. It’s basically a look at a day in the life (though a crazy one) at Shenaniganz, an Applebees-like restaurant. Even though it wasn’t the same kind of restaurant we worked in we could totally relate to hating jerk-hole customers, relating to each other and playing games to make the day go by quicker (though, they didn’t involve balls).

Anyway, I’m a big fan of the movie. I worked with a lot of people during my 7-ish years at the bagel shop just like the people in the movie. Plus it had the above mentioned actors along with John Francis Daley who, like everyone else, I loved in Freaks and Geeks and a bunch of other actors I would eventually come to know and love like Chi McBride, Luis Guzman, Vanessa Lengies (yeah, I like Stick It, deal with it) and even Dane Cook who I like much better as a comedian, but whatever.

I actually get the itch to watch the DVD every time we eat at one of those TGIFriday’s-type (that’s can’t be the way to write that), though I usually don’t ’cause, you know, I’ve got a lot of other stuff to watch. Anyway, when I heard that the sequel, Still Waiting… came out I was cautiously interested. I put it at the top of my Netflix queue and got it the other day.

Well…

It’s not a good movie. The guy who’s supposed to be the Ryan Reynolds-type character just isn’t as good of an actor and can’t play off the lovable jerk character (also, making him kinda racist probably wasn’t the best choice). Overall, the characters just aren’t as real or interesting as the ones written in the original (even the few recurring characters), which is strange because, as far as I can tell, it’s the same guy who wrote the original (Rob McKittrick who also directed that one, but not this one).

I can’t say I’m disappointed or surprised because, hey, it’s a straight-to-DVD sequel to a movie that didn’t do all that well in the first place. I did appreciate the fact that Justin Long popped up in a cameo. Uh, I guess the following counts as a SPOILER, if you care. I like that he came back for this movie, but I’m not sure if I like the scene, where he basically tells the bartender that his life still ended up shitty after quitting at the end of the first movie. He sure gives a hilarious performance though and I was actually thinking “It’d be interesting to write a movie that starts where movies like Waiting and Empire Records end, with the guy leaving his dead end job and seeing how well they actually do with that” and then that essentially happened.

Oh well, I’ve still got the original, which is still rad, so who cares? Anyone else see it or even want to?