Saturday, April 28, 2007
2. David Palmer in "24" (Dennis Haysbert). America gets a black president who spends all of five minutes worrying about civil liberty violations, making him a vast improvement over real president.
3. "Jed" Bartlett in "The West Wing" (Martin Sheen). America gets a Nobel laureate whose policies seem strikingly Clintonian, except that he's a lot more fun to listen to.
4. James Marshall in Air Force One (Harrison Ford). America gets a neocon president who, personally, kicks Russian terrorist ass. (Bonus: fascinating opening sequence in which special ops kidnap evil post-Soviet dictator fools with moral sense.)
5. James Land in Mars Attacks! (Jack Nicholson). America gets Randle Patrick McMurphy. Must have been a lot funnier on paper.
6. Unnamed in The Rock (Stanley Anderson). America gets a nonentity with noname who spends 15 seconds thinking about killing 50 unnarmed civilians in order to save San Francisco.
7. Unnamed, McKenna, and Unnamed in X-Men, X-2, X-Men 3: The Last Stand (David Black, Cotter Smith, Josef Sommer). America gets three nonentity presidents. Makes sense that America would search out bloodness figures with zero screen presence in near future where everyone hates and fears rise of charismatic, sexy mutants who walk around in tight leather.
8. Thomas J. Whitmore in Independence Day (Bill Pullman). America gets uncharismatic dude who can't deliver a halfway decent speech as aliens destroy world. Choice of people calls into question human race's right to exist in the first place.
9. Bill Mitchell in Dave (Kevin Kline). America gets complete dick, eventually saved by likable dude who looks just like complete dick.
10. Andrew Shepherd in The American President (Michael Douglas). America gets....aww, that's sweet. He's rediscovering love as a middle-aged man, meaning that even someone as lowly as the American president can find someone.
1. Sappho - Fragment
By the cool water the breeze murmurs, rustling
Through apple branches, while from quivering leaves
Deep slumber streams down.
2. Wang Wei
On branch tips the hibiscus blooms.
The mountains show off red calices.
Nobody. A silent cottage in the valley.
One by one flowers open, then fall.
3. Percy Shelley - To the Moon
Art thou pale for weariness
Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth,
Among the stars that have a different birth—
And ever changing, like a joyless eye
That finds no object worth its constancy?
4. A.E. Housman - Stars, I Have Seen Them Fall
Stars, I have seen them fall,
But when they drop and die
No star is lost at all
From all the star-sown sky.
The toil of all that be
Helps not the primal fault;
It rains into the sea,
And still the sea is salt.
5. W.B Yeats - A Deep Sworn Vow
Others because you did not keep
That deep-sworn vow have been friends of mine;
Yet always when I look death in the face,
When I clamber to the heights of sleep,
Or when I grow excited with wine,
Suddenly I meet your face.
6. Antonio Machado - Summer Night
A beautiful summer night.
the tall houses leave
their balcony shutters open
to the wide plaza of the old village.
In the large deserted square,
stone benches, burning bush and acacias
trace their black shadows
symmetrically on the white sand.
In its zenith, the moon; in the tower,
the clock’s illuminated globe.
I walk through this ancient village,
alone, like a ghost.
7. Adelaide Crapsey - November Night
With faint dry sound
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisped, break from the trees
Sunday, April 22, 2007
10. God Bless Robert E. Lee, Johnny Cash. Not QUITE as neo-Confederate as you might think -- the gist seems to be that Lee is heroic for surrendering and saving lives. But still, fairly dubious...
9. So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright, Simon & Garfunkel. Art Garfunkel warbles pompously and unmelodically about architecture. It's a shame Art was such a douche, because he really did make Simon better.
8. I'm Henry the VII, I Am, Herman's Hermits. You know a list is in trouble when this tune cracks the top 8. It's not even technically about the king. But the Hermits win points for irresistible infectiousness: "Second verse, same as the first!"
5. For the Love of Richard Nixon, Manic Street Preachers. Sorta mediocre, but there are some classic clips of Nixon speeches thrown in.
4. James K. Polk, They Might Be Giants. Martin Van Buren wasn't "an abolitionist", and this isn't what you'd call a "good" song, but shit: half of it is about the 1844 Democratic convention! How awesome is that?
3. Cortez The Killer, Neil Young. An interesting case: this is without doubt my favorite song on here, with its slow churning guitar and appropriately mystical atmosphere. The opening lyrics are great: "He came dancing across the water, with his galleons and guns." But Neil loses points for essentializing the Aztecs ("hate was just a legend, and war was never known"), lavishing praise on Montezuma, and seeming to celebrate human sacrifice. As he later said to his biographer, "What the fuck am I doing writing about Aztecs in 'Cortez the Killer' like I was there, wandering around? 'Cause I only read about it in a few books. A lotta shit I just made up because it came to me."
2. I Dreamed I Saw Saint Augustine, Bob Dylan. Who needs specificity when you can have poetry? I haven't read enough (OK, any) of Augustine to know if there are real connections being drawn here, but I do dig this song.
1. Mr. Churchill Says, The Kinks. Political commentary! Famous speeches committed to music! Mention of Beaverbrook, Montgomery, Mountbatten, and Vera Lynn! What more could you ask for? Churchill is in the title, but not in the best line:
"Mr. Beaverbrook says /
We gotta save our tin /
And all the garden gates and empty cans are gonna make us win..."
Thursday, April 19, 2007
10. Hotel Arizona, Wilco.
9. Massachusetts, The Bee Gees. A little syrupy, but it's got a hook. Supposedly a response to the hippie westward movement of the late '60.
8. Montana, Frank Zappa. Do you think Frank Zappa ever really spent time in Montana?
7. Georgia On My Mind, Ray Charles.
6. Alabama, Neil Young. I actually like the Leonard Skinner tune, but this is Neil we're talking about. Even though I know he didn't spend much time in Alabama.
5. My Idaho Home, Ronee Blakely (off the Nashville soundtrack).
4. Oklahoma, U.S.A., The Kinks.
3. The Only Living Boy In New York, Simon & Garfunkel. Sinatra was the obvious choice here, but in fact it came down to this one against Sting's transcendent masterpiece, "Englishman In New York." He's an alien! A legal alien!
2. California, Joni Mitchell.
1. Nebraska, Bruce Springsteen. Wins although most of the action takes place in Wyoming. "Well sir I guess there's just a meanness in this world..."
Next up: 10 reasons why Scott Walker is better than you, or me.
1.) Genesis, Cinema Show - 11.06 (the second half is among the finest instrumental music I've ever heard in rock)
2.) Yes, Close To The Edge - 18.32
3.) Bruce Springsteen, Incident On 57th Street - 7.45
4.) Neil Young, Ambulance Blues - 8.56
5.) Van Morrison, Astral Weeks - 7.00
6.) Bob Dylan, Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again - 7.05
7.) The Who, Love Reign O'er Me - 6.37
8.) Fairport Convention, Percy's Song - 6.55
9.) XTC, Travels In Nihilon - 6.56
10.) Radiohead, Paranoid Android - 6.22 (Okay, not quite 6.30, but c'mon, it's close enough)
11.) Peter Gabriel, Come Talk To Me - 6.42
12.) Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Frankie - 7.20
13.) Roxy Music, Mother Of Pearl -6.52
14.) Pavement, Fillmore Jive - 6.39
15.) The Fall, Hip Priest - 7.34
16.) King Crimson, Starless - 12.17
17.) David Bowie, Teenage Wildlife - 6.56
18.) Can, Oh Yeah - 7.23 (I could've chosen any number of Can songs - Halleluwah, Future Days, Mother Sky, etc. - but this has always been my favorite)
19.) The Cure, One Hundred Years - 6.41
20.) Derek & The Dominoes, Layla - 7.02
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
1. Bob Dylan, Visions of Johanna – 7:33 (Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands is beautiful but not quite gripping for all twelve minutes.)
2. Van Morrison, Madame George – 9:25
3. Velvet Underground, Heroin – 7:12 (Sister Ray is half an hour long, but I get pretty bored around the six minute mark.)
4. Bruce Springsteen, Backstreets – 6:30
5. Prince, Adore – 6:30
6. Tindersticks, Sweet Release – 8:55
7. Cat Power, Colors and the Kids – 6:35
8. Rolling Stones, Can’t You Hear Me Knocking – 7:15
9. Tom Waits, Burma-Shave – 6:34
10. James Brown, It’s a New Day – 6:27 (I’m giving him the missing three seconds for exceptional funkiness.)
11. Neil Young, On the Beach – 6:59
12. Big Brother and the Holding Company, Ball and Chain – 9:37
13. Al Green, For the Good Times – 6:32
14. Curtis Mayfield, (Don’t Worry) If There’s a Hell Below, We’re All Gonna Go – 7:50
15. Built to Spill, Velvet Waltz – 8:33
16. Outkast, Liberation – 8:46
17. U2, All I Want is You – 6:32
18. Modest Mouse, Teeth Like God’s Shoeshine – 6:53
19. The Wrens, 13 Months in Six Minutes – 6:50
20. Marvin Gaye, Right On – 7:31
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
10. Marisa Tomei (herself). The ultimate early-mid '90s babe on the ultimate early-mid '90s show. Learned that "manure" really isn't such a bad word. Beats Uma Thurman and Jon Voight (the actor, not the periodontist) in the real-life Hollywood category.
9. Keith Hernandez (himself). Reminds you how deep Seinfeld's roots sink back into the '80s -- Most college students today weren't born when Keith last had a good year in the majors. But he was dynamite in the show's first-ever hour-long episode. "Go ahead, kiss her. I'm a baseball player, damnit!"
8. Bob Sacamano (off-screen). In the heard but never seen category, Kramer's legendary friend edges out Lomez, who was an interesting chap but didn't operate a condom factory, sell knock-off Russian hats, or ever catch Rabies.
7. Tony the Mimbo (Dan Cortese). George: "He's the first cool guy I've ever been friends with in my life! You know, it's a different world when you're with a cool guy."
6. Poppy (Rene Santoni). Flamboyant restauranteur opposes abortion, hand-washing, and urinals over a number of episodes. "Poppy... got a little bit sloppy."
5. Sidra Holland (Teri Hatcher). "If that's Rushdie, they're real." "If they're real, that's Rushdie!"
4. Sue Ellen Mischke (Brenda Strong). Heiress to the O Henry candy bar fortune, the inspiration for Peterman's "Gatsby Swing Top," and Elaine's "Lex Luthor."
3. Bob (?). Fiery, lisping antique collector and militant AIDS-walker. Described by Kramer as a "street tough" after he and his partner Cedric made off with Elaine's armoir. "Was you talking to him? Because you was obviously talking to one of us. So what is it? Who?! Who was you talking to!?"
2. Crazy Joe Davola (Peter Crombie). Opera-loving stalker and martial arts expert. "Beats up" three thugs in Central Park, in what must be one of the weakest TV "action" sequences not involving Chuck Norris. Sic Semper Tyrannis!
1. Mickey Abbott (Danny Woodburn). The littlest minor character of them all -- a part-time Christmas elf, part-time TV stand-in, and full-time anti-communist. Participant in one of the greatest Seinfeld conversations of all time:
Kramer and Mickey: Rock, paper, scissors, match!
Mickey: Alright, rock beats paper.
Kramer: I thought paper covered rock?
Mickey: Nah, rock flies right through paper.
Kramer: What beats rock?
Mickey: Nothing beats rock.
Kramer: Alright, come on.
Kramer and Mickey: Rock, paper, scissors, match!
Kramer and Mickey: Rock, paper, scissors, match!
10. The Museum of
9. Braslav Lakes
8. The Mir castle complex
7. Marc Chagall Museum in
6. Struve Geodetic Arc
4. Navinki International Festival of Performance Art
3. Khatyn WWII Memorial (“Graveyard of Villages”)
2. Bialowieza Primeval Forest
1. The Radziwill Dynasty Residence in Nesvizh
Monday, April 16, 2007
1. A Tomb for Boris Davidovich by Danilo Kis. (The horrors of totalitarianism in seven horror stories. Serbian.)
2. A Way of Life, Like Any Other by Darcy O'Brien. (A Fitzgerald-esque comedy about the fall of a Hollywood couple based on B-movie stars Marguerite Churchill and George O'Brien and written by their son. American.)
3. Amongst Women by John McGahern. (An unhappy family ruled by an impotent nationalist patriarch. Irish, of course.)
4. To Each His Own by Leonardo Sciascia. (A trippy Mafia thriller. Italian.)
5. The Poor Mouth by Flann O'Brien. (A comedy that includes a riff on the use of Gaelic. Irish again.)
6. A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov. (Novel in five parts about a Byronic asshole. Russian.)
7. The Piazza Tales by Herman Melville. (Includes "Bartleby the Scrivener," a story dear to everyone who has ever worked a temp job and surfed the net all day. American, as you know.)
8. Nocturnes for the King of Naples by Edmund White. (Strange gay classic of the '70s. American. Oh, and did I mention gay?)
9. Dom Casmurro by Machado de Assis. (Lighthearded comedy about one man's descent into madness. Brazilian.)
10. Ultimate X-Men Vol. 1-6 by Mark Millar and various artists. (The finest interpretation yet of an ingenious American myth written by a paranoid Lefty Scotsman.)
1. Blubber by Judy Blume. (A grim meditation on evil. American.)
1. Sitting on the Dock of the Bay -Otis Redding
2. California Love -Tupac
3. Gene Autry -Beulah
4. San Francisco -Scott McKenzie
5. Big Sur -The Thrills
6. Goodbye California -Jolie Holland
7. Hotel California -The Eagles
8. Piazza, New York Catcher -Belle & Sebastian
9. California Stars -Billy Bragg & Wilco
10. Come Back from San Francisco - The Magnetic Fields
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
2. Children of Men
3. Blade Runner
5. Galaxy Quest
6. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
8. The Last Starfighter
9. The Fifth Element
10. Enemy Mine
1. Operation Dumbo Drop – Simon Wincer (Harrowing, inspiring. Also, an airlifted elephant.)
2. The Battle of Algiers – Gillo Pontecorvo
3. Ran – Akira Kurosawa
4. Army of Shadows – Jean-Pierre Melville
5. The Two Towers – Peter Jackson (Extra points for elephant-like creatures.)
6. A Man Escaped – Robert Bresson
7. The Big Red One – Samuel Fuller (The recently restored cut.)
8. Saving Private Run – Steven Spielberg (Assuming the beginning and end of the movie are lopped off and ignored.)
9. Paths of Glory – Stanley Kubrick (Preachy and manipulative but still very good.)
10. Grand Illusion – Jean Renoir (A little slow. Might have benefited from an airlifted elephant.)
11. Casualties of War – Brian de Palma
12. Children of Men – Alfonso Cuaron (I think the refugee camp sequence allows this to qualify this as a war movie.)
13. The Empire Strikes Back – George Lucas
14. Alexander – Oliver Stone (This movie is awful, but the elephant factor is extremely high.)
15. Bridge on the River Kwai – David Lean
16. Willow – Ron Howard (I make no apologies for this choice.)
17. The Dirty Dozen – Robert Aldrich
2. Jorge Luis Borges, Selected Non-fictions
3. Virginia Woolf, The Common Reader
4. William Hazlitt, Selected Essays
5. Czeslaw Milosz, To Begin Where I Am: Selected Essays
6. Robert Louis Stevenson, Selected Essays
7. William James, Talks to Teachers on Psychology and Students on Some of Life's Ideals
8. Edmund Wilson, The Shores of Light: A Literary Chronicle of the 20s and 30s
9. Randall Jarrell, No Other Book: Selected Essays
10. V.S. Pritchett, Complete Collected Essays
11. Albert Camus, Resistance, Rebellion, and Death
12. John Berger, Selected Essays
13. Dwight Macdonald, Against the American Grain
(And probably Emerson, but I haven't read him.)
To some recent writers holding down the fort on a declining art form:
- Joan Acocella, Twenty-Eight Artists and Two Saints
- Tim Parks, Adultery and Other Diversions
- John d'Agata, Halls of Fame
2. Hampton Roads, Virginia
3. Raleigh, North Carolina
4. Greensboro, North Carolina
5. Austin, Texas
6. Louisville, Kentucky
7. Grand Rapids, Michigan
8. Hartford, Connecticut
9. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
10. Greenville, South Carolina
Sunday, April 8, 2007
5 Genesis Songs That, When Performed Live, Featured Peter Gabriel Wearing Regrettably Elaborate Stage Costumes
2.) "The Battle Of Epping Forest" (nylon stocking over head a la 7-Eleven robbery)
3.) "Dancing With The Moonlit Knight" (kilt, checkerboard black & white makeup, spear & shield)
4.) "Supper's Ready" (flower; also, dress-wearing fox)
5.) "The Colony Of The Slippermen" (hulking testicle-monster suit)
Friday, April 6, 2007
1. John Keats, "Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and Other Poems." This collection includes the odes. (Age 25)
2. Arthur Rimbaud, "Illuminations & A Season in Hell" (Age 19)
3. Mary Shelley, "Frankenstein" (Age 21)
4. David Hume, "A Treatise Concerning Human Nature" (Age 26)
5. Charles Dickens, "The Pickwick Papers" (Age 24)
6. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "The Sorrows of Young Werther" (Age 24)
7. Alexander Pushkin, "Ruslan and Ludmila" (Age 21)
8. Raymond Radiguet, "Count D'Orgel's Ball" (Age 20 - he published another very good novel when he was 19!)
9. Samuel Coleridge, Contributions to "Lyrical Ballads," including The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Christabel, and Kubla Khan. (Age 26)
10. Leo Tolstoy, "Childhood, Boyhood, Youth" (Age 24-25)
11. Thomas Chatterton, Last Poems (Age 17)
12. Percy Shelley, Poems of 1816, including Mont Blanc and Alastor (Age 24)
13. Fyodor Dostoevsky, "Poor Folk" (Age 25)
- Gore Vidal, "The City and the Pillar" (Age 23)
- D.H. Lawrence, "Odour of Chrysanthemems" (Age 24) Only a short story - finally published in a collection with several other masterpieces at the ripe age of 28.
- Henry Green, "Living" (Age 24)
- Philip Roth, "Goodbye Columbus and Other Stories" (Age 26)
- Kaavya Viswanathan, Portions of "How Opal Mehta Got Wild, Got Kissed and Got a Life" (Age 19)
2. "Brown Sugar" (Sticky Fingers)
3. "Start Me Up" (Tattoo You)
4. "Let It Bleed" (Let It Bleed)
5. "Under My Thumb" (Aftermath)
6. "Yesterday's Papers" (Between the Buttons)
7. "Some Girls" (Some Girls)
8. "Star Star" (Goat's Head Soup)
9. "Backstreet Girl" (Between the Buttons)
10. "Stupid Girl" (Aftermath)
2. Mario Lopez, Dating Factory, (2006 TV series), Co-Host
3. Dustin Diamond, 13th Grade, (2005), playing "Corey"
4. Tiffani Thiessen, 5 episodes of What About Brian, (2007), playing "Natasha Drew"
5. Elizabeth Berkeley, 1 episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent (2006), playing "Danielle Quinn"
6. Lark Voorhies, Widows (2002 TV miniseries), character played unknown
7. Dennis Haskins, 1 uncredited appearance on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (2007), playing "Mr. Belding."
3. Nanook of the North
4. Yankee Doodle Dandy
5. Pride of the Yankees
6. Little Caesar
7. Ten Commandments
8. Born on the Fourth of July
10. Lost Weekend
Thursday, April 5, 2007
2. I'll Be Back (A Hard Day's Night)
3. It Wont Be Long (With the Beatles)
4. Don't Let Me Down (Past Masters II)
5. I Want to Tell You (Revolver)
6. I've Got a Feeling (Abbey Road)
7. Penny Lane (Magical Mystery Tour)
8. I've Just Seen a Face (Help!)
9. With a Little Help From My Friends (Sgt. Pepper)
10. Across the Universe (Let It Be)
11. Oh! Darling (Abbey Road)