Friday, June 19, 2009

I Ain't No Bookwormy Type

This New Years, I resolved (among other things) to read more. The goal: 50 books during the calendar year...

Well the year is almost half over. You might ask, “Hey Jeff. How many books have you actually read?” The answer is three. Three of fifty (6 percent, for the non-math wizards).

I’m not particularly surprised by this… I lack stick-to-itiveness. I go through a lot of phases. Anyways… I’m back on board. While there’s no chance I’ll make it to fifty, let’s see if I can at least make it to double digits.

And here’s the best part: thanks to the blogosphere, you all can come along for the ride! I’ll keep you posted.

So… the three books I’ve actually read in 2009 are:
1. The Stanger by Albert Camus
A quick read but kind of a downer. Very psychological.
3 stars

2. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
Impossible to read and not think of the movie. Excellent book.
4 stars

3. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
In spite of its length, this was a fantastic read. Highly recommend.
5 stars


Currently reading: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger


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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Not Much of a Blog Post But...

Last night, I was playing DJ while Emily and I were playing Wii Mario Kart. I played this... she said it was the worst song she has ever heard.



I disagree. That's all.

Jeff’s Rental Reviews (x 5)

Greetings moviegoers! Here it is, another Rental Review… made possible by Jeff’s Blockbuster Rewards membership. You know the drill; eerily similar to my regular movie reviews except in an abbreviated, rapid-fire style.

He’s Just Not That Into You (2009)
Emily was sick. This was my best attempt at doing something thoughtful. It was as expected, a generic chick flick. What’s it got going for it? It’s cast. Sure that’s an impressive collection of actors but no one can tell me that Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Connelly and crew are having trouble finding a dude.

Verdict:
2 Schaibles




Valkyrie (2008)
This is the perfect movie to pair with Defiance if you’re looking for mediocre WWII-themed double-feature one afternoon. The two are pretty similar… right down to the boring feature protagonists. These are not characters in a drama, they’re saintly warriors who suppress the evil doers with zero internal conflict. With that in mind, both films earn identical ratings.

Verdict:
2 Schaibles




Taken (2009)
Your run-of-the-mill action-laced, ticking-clock thriller, Taken stars Liam Neeson as a retired “preventer,” who has 96 hours to track down his teenage daughter after she’s kidnapped in Europe by sex traffickers. Taken’s bizarre mix of father-daughter sentimentality and ass-kicking violence make an odd pairing. While the action is engaging and the film was briskly paced, there were several moments of unintentional comedy (lousy dialogue) and the ending completely lost its treading.

Verdict:
2 Schaibles




The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)
Despite the glut of fog machines, glowing spheres and TV actors (Don Draper? Coach Taylor?!?), a good portion of this remake is unintentional comedy. I like the eco-friendly message but the last 15 minutes play out like a hurried concession to the audience’s need for a happy ending.

Verdict:

1 ½ Schaible




and a retro cut…

Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
A selection from the middle (non new-release), Boys Don’t Cry is based on the real-life story of Brandon Teena, a trans man who was raped and murdered by his male friends. Hilary Swank won the 1999 Academy Award for her performance and it’s easy to see why. She was excellent. It’s not the most depressing movie I’ve ever seen (nominees: Revolutionary Road, Requiem for a Dream, An Inconvenient Truth) but it’s up there.

Verdict:

3 ½ Schaibles





You may have noticed that I’ve added a complete list of my movie reviews on the right side. Of course, those of you who only visit my blog through Google Reader won’t. Shame on you; you’re missing part of the experience.

Anyways, I thought this would add credibility (hopefully) to my reviews. You can put them in context. Or you can make sure I don’t just hand out the Steve Sears 3 Star rating to every movie I see.

Editorial Note: While I may review old movies (like Boys Don’t Cry) I’m not going to include them in this list… a movie should be reviewed during the period of its release. It’s a contextual thing.

Take On Me: Favorite Covers (Mixtape #6)

I posted my last mixtape more than a month ago… and there are massive protests in Iran. Coincidence?
Assuredly not.

So here we go… my cover songs playlist. There are some obvious standards in here and hopefully some below the radar selections that will make me seem oh so much cooler.




Track Listing:
1. Joey Ramone – “What a Wonderful World” (Louis Armstrong)
My covers playlist has had several iterations… always track #1.
2. Lou Reed – “This Magic Moment” (The Drifters)
Part of the Lost Highway soundtrack. Never saw the movie.
3. The Ramones – “California Sun” (Joe Jones)
Embodies all that is good about America’s first punk rock group.
4. Johnny Cash – “Hurt” (Nine Inch Nails)
Bold statement: the best cover version of any song, ever. Boom.
5. The Killers – “Romeo and Juliet” (Dire Straits)
Notice I did not pick The Killers’ cover “Shadowplay.”
6. Frente! – “Bizarre Love Triangle” (New Order)
Completely transformed.
7. Elbow – “Running to Stand Still” (U2)
Like it better than the original… love the way it builds.
8. Beck – “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” (Bob Dylan)
Beck replaces honky tonk with blazing distortion.
9. Jimi Hendrix – “All Along the Watchtower” (Bob Dylan)
Obvious, I know… but it really has to be included.
10. Nirvana – “The Man Who Sold the World” (David Bowie)
Such a great cover, many people don’t know it’s Bowie’s.
11. Stereophonics – “Handbags and Gladrags” (Chris Farlowe)
The theme tune of the BBC hit comedy “The Office.”
12. Cake – “I Will Survive” (Gloria Gaynor)
Far cooler (and more acceptable) than the original.
13. Laura Cortese – “Just Like Heaven” (The Cure)
A groovy cover of a classic 80s pop song.
14. Cowboy Junkies – “Sweet Jane” (The Velvet Underground)
Nearly unrecognizable seedy grunge.
15. Cat Stevens – “Another Saturday Night” (Sam Cooke)
Have I mentioned that I love key changes (done right).
16. Joe Cocker – “With a Little Help from My Friends (Beatles)
Another TV theme tune... Wonder Years.
17. Richie Havens – “Here Comes the Sun” (Beatles)
Havens has a bunch of really good covers.
18. Thom Yorke – “After the Gold Rush” (Neil Young)
Had a big Neil Young faze awhile back.
19. The Clash – “I Fought the Law” (The Crickets)
Punk-rock gods lend credibility to a clash with law enforcement.
20. The Beatles – “Twist and Shout” (Top Notes)
One of my favorite Fab Four tracks.

Cover Me Bad – Some Truly Terrible Efforts




And the WORST COVER EVER...



Sorry ladies.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Listapalooza

The Best Man recently did a two-part series of Top Five lists… dubbed “Listapalooza” (read Part One, Part Two). Since I subscribe to the notion that creativity is great, but plagiarism is faster, here we are… my own Listapalooza:

Pet Peeves
5. 99% of all Facebook applications.
4. Drivers with dogs in their laps.
3. Cubicle neighbors who are loud eaters.
2. When people say “I could care less.” It’s couldn’t!
1. People who clap at movie theatres.

Most Anticipated Season Premiers
5. Lost – If only because I’m ready for this show to end.
4. 30 Rock – See below.
3. The Office – Thursday night just isn’t the same.
2. Mad Men – Betty is pregnant. What’s become of Sterling Cooper?
1. Friday Night Lights – Coach Taylor at East Dillon?

Favorite Classic Rock Songs
5. Billy Joel – Only the Good Die Young
4. The Doors – Light My Fire
3. The Who – Baba O’Riley
2. Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven
1. The Who – Won’t Get Fooled Again

Favorite Bob Dylan Songs
5. Forever Young
4. The Times They Are a-Changin’
3. It Ain’t Me, Babe
2. Like a Rolling Stone
1. Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right

Favorite Beatles Songs
5. All My Loving
4. In My Life
3. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
2. Twist and Shout
1. Two of Us

Embarrassing Songs on My iPod
5. Rick Dees & His Cast of Idiots – Disco Duck
4. Tiffany – I Think We’re Alone Now
3. Sheryl Crow – Soak Up the Sun
2. Bette Midler – The Rose
1. The Elephant Love Medley from Moulin Rouge

Favorite Songs You May Not Know
Or maybe you do know them… I don’t care.
5. Joshua Radin – Only You (Our Wedding Song)
4. Sugar – If I Can’t Change Your Mind
3. Colin Hay – I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You
2. Yeti – Never Lose Your Sense of Wonder
1. The Jayhawks – Big Star

People with Whom I’d Love to Have Lunch
5. Lance Armstrong
4. Don Zimmer
3. Barack Obama
2. Bob Dylan
1. Ricky Gervais/Stephen Merchant

Best/Most Popular Movies I’ve Never Seen
5. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
4. Titanic
3. Psycho
2. Citizen Kane
1. Casablanca

Favorite Non-Sports Video Games
5. Super Mario Brothers 3
4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II
3. Mega Man 3
2. Punch Out!
1. Area 51 – Arcade game.

Best Trips I’ve Ever Taken
5. Christmas in South Carolina 2009
4. Myrtle Beach – Age 13
3. Block Island Weekend 2005
2. The Sears, Hosseini, Schaible European Adventure
1. My Honeymoon – 40 days until departure

And finally, in response to Emily’s recent post

Celebrity Crushes
(bonus) Kelly Ripa
5. Alyson Hannigan
4. Christina Hendricks
3. Scarlett Johansson
2. Minka Kelly
1. January Jones

Honeymoon Planning: Brief Itinerary

Brace yourself; I’m going to blog about something other than movies. Those of you who are my Facebook friends may have noticed a flurry of Honeymoon-related status messages.

For all of you scoring at home, there are only 40 days before what the press has dubbed the “Schaible-related Newport, RI social event of the season.” It’s very exciting.

The Plan (South to North):

(London to Chipping Campden to Liverpool to Edinburgh).

London, Liverpool and Edinburgh are all pretty self-explanatory. Chipping Campden is a small market town, part of the Cotswolds – an area characterized by its attractive villages, rolling hillsides and outstanding natural beauty… at least that’s what I’m told.

The Agenda:
London: All the touristy things… you know, ride the London Eye, dodge traffic at Abbey Road, visit Buckingham Palace and Big Ben, check out Shakespeare’s Old Globe, etc. Also, Emily and I have reservations at Gordon Ramsay’s place (remember: I proposed at his NYC restaurant), we have tickets to see Les Misérables and Emily’s pushing something called “high tea.”

Chipping Campden: This is supposed to be our “relaxation” portion of the honeymoon. We’ll be staying at a quaint bed and breakfast. We’ll explore the area, check out a few castles but generally, we’re going to just chill in the English countryside.

Liverpool: Rather than eating up a whole day of mooning with a drive straight to Scotland, we’re going to stop in Liverpool (home of legendary bands like The Coral, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and The Boo Radleys). We’ll be partaking in some Fab Four-inspired tourist traps, no doubt.

Edinburgh: Our final destination is Scotland’s capital city. We haven’t done too much planning for Edinburgh yet, other than booking our B&B (it’s centrally located). We’re going to be missing the world-renowned Edinburgh Festival by a week which is either really disappointing (it’s supposed to be awesome) or a great relief (apparently the population of the city more than triples), depending how you look at it.

I forgot to mention a source of much Werchadlo-anxiety… I’m going to be driving much of the journey. We pick up a rental car the last day in London and drop it off in Edinburgh. There are no guarantees but I’m hoping the vehicle looks a bit like this:



Yeah baby.

Jeff’s Movie Review: The Hangover (2009)

It’s not the funniest movie of the year (see: I Love You, Man) but it’s close. This contemporary guy-friendship comedy isn’t the wholesome, cornball comedy that the Paul Rudd-Jason Segal bromance was… it’s straight up raunchy, yo.

Waking up with a hangover and little (or no) memory of what happened the night before is an experience most people can relate to. It’s also a surefire device for comedy. We piece together the crew’s drunken exploits bit by bit… think Memento meets Old School.

Zach Galifianakis, of Between Two Ferns fame, is garnering a lot of attention… and deservedly so; he was hilarious. Ed Helms was well cast as Stu and performed a nice little piano number. Bradley Cooper was the ringleader and had Emily swooning throughout. Mike Tyson’s cameo was as advertised, funny.

There were a few lowlights: With the exception of his first appearance, Mr. Chow did absolutely nothing for me and I’ve never found Rob Riggle (the cop) funny. He yells… that’s not funny.

Nonetheless, I thought it outperformed the high expectations I had for it. I laughed throughout. While I’d put it a notch below I Love You, Man, it’s an excellent dirty summer comedy.

Verdict:
3 1/2 Schaibles