Archive | January, 2013

An Open Letter to Liz Lemon

30 Jan

Posted by: Alex

Liz lemon high fiving

Dear Liz Lemon,

First of all, let me just make it clear that I know you’re not real. You are a character created by Tina Fey, my comedic hero. On the eve of the 30 Rock series finale, I am beginning to feel nostalgic about one of my favorite television shows of all time. I will miss the unbelievably witty one-liners and references. I will miss the brilliant delivery by Alec Baldwin and the absurdity of Tracy Jordan. I’ll even miss Lutz. But the person I’ll miss most is my favorite television character of all time, Liz Lemon.

Liz Lemon I want to go to there

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It’s Mix Time: Year in Review

25 Jan
Outdated technology makes excellent furniture.

Outdated technology makes for some fancy furniture.

Posted by: mthep

Once upon a time, for my 26th birthday celebration, I decided to hand out mix CDs as party favors to everyone coming out. Just a little thank-you to all of those kindhearted friends (and friends of friends), who opted to leave their cozy, warm homes in mid-January,  to come out to the bar and help me celebrate.  I set two rules for the mix: 1)  to only include songs that I had heard for the first time in the last year, and 2) the songs had to have stuck with me somehow; be they meaningful or just catchy. Of course, I was also worried about appearing super cool, so I tried to keep the “obscure indie music”  ratio pretty high (Sorry pop music! We both know I can’t quit you).

Surprisingly, I’ve managed to keep this tradition going, and this year marks Party Favors Mix #7.  Thankfully, I’m much less interested in impressing people now – and it’s a good thing, because I also have more trouble finding new music with every passing year. I’ve gotten into a comfortable rut, listening to lots of the same bands I’ve listened to for the last decade, but having this annual challenge in the back of my mind helps keep me on the lookout for new music all year long.

These mixes have become time capsules for me, although I certainly didn’t set out to accomplish that. When I listen to old versions, I can still remember what most of the songs relate to; relationships and break ups, live shows and road trips – like an auditory trip down memory lane.

Thanks to the wonders of Spotify technology, I’m happy share this year’s version with you. I make no assertions that these tracks would be on anyone’s annual “best of” list, but it’s pretty representative of the soundtrack to my life for 2012.

spotify:user:mthep:playlist:7cVb8B5uSfyiBKPcsQToPk

And as a bonus, here’s my favorite music video from the last year/the only music video I’ve watched in the last year;

Are any of you out there sentimental music scrapbookers too?

Girls! Girls! Girls!

17 Jan

Posted by: Alex

I don’t know why Amanda Bynes felt the need to pierce her cheek –

a bynes cheek

But here’s what I do know: Girls is back and I could not be happier about it!

In short, Girls is about 4 twenty-something women living in New York, post-graduation. It stars Lena Dunham, who is also the head writer, producer, director, creator, composer, caterer, best boy grip, and camera guy. She just won a million Golden Globes and I feel like she’s some young, freaky comedy genius. She does have the backup of Judd Apatow (whom I love), so that probably helps. Especially with the catering.

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Podcasts: Beyond Ira

11 Jan

The soundtrack to Ira’s life.

Posted by: mthep

I get the impression that, with the exception of a few notable productions (cough This American Life cough), the wide world of podcasts goes pretty much unnoticed. And I get it; there are a lot of options out there – and most of them are pretty terrible. But if you know where to look, I swear you will find some of the most entertaining free* content available on the internet. (*Most podcasts don’t cost anything, but if you find a few you really like, throw some money at them when they ask for it. And they will.)

To save you guys the trouble of wading through the sea of poor audio quality and lackluster content that is the iTunes Store Podcast category, I’ve listed some of my favorites below to get you started. First, some ground rules;

  1. Reserve judgement on a show until after you’ve listened to at least a few episodes. Even with the shows I really enjoy now, it took me a while to get a good sense of them.
  2. That’s all, really. It would have just sounded weird to say “ground rule” instead.

Advice

I have this problem where I am constantly offering advice – and it’s almost always unsolicited. Instead of taking responsibility for my actions, I am going to blame the media. Savage Lovecast, to be exact. I’ve basically grown up with Dan Savage’s advice, ever since discovering his written column back in junior high. For me, his podcast is like icing on the advice cake.

Mr. Hodgman’s show is consistently delightful, and his verdicts are often surprisingly profound. You should probably never follow MBMBAM‘s advice, but their show never fails to make me snortle while listening at my desk or riding public transport.

The face of sound advice.

Interviews

I love these comedians-interviewing-comedians shows because they’re usually interviewing friends, so there’s a comfort level there that’s rare in other interview formats. You basically get to be a fly on the wall for some funny and interesting conversations between famouses, that most of us normals wouldn’t have the opportunity hear anywhere else. That, and thanks to listening to Nerdist, I now know the appropriate way to greet Nathan Fillion whenever I meet him in person, and I consider that an important life skill to have.

These are not the hammer.

Science & Learnin’

You know how some people say that they want to go back to school because they love learning so much? That’s not me. I strongly disliked school, I got through it, and I will never look back. But somehow, these podcasts accomplish an unthinkable feat for me; they make me enjoy learning. If I could go back to school for a major in Radiolab, I totally would.

Freakonomics turns everyday topics on their head by looking at them through the fascinating lens of economics.  Yes, I said it; economics is fascinating. Or at least, thanks to Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner it is.  How to Do Everything is true to it’s name, and they often have an impressive array of celebrity guests to help answer questions. I usually only listen to two members of the HowStuffWorks family of podcasts, but if you explore everything they have to offer, you could probably find an answer to every question you didn’t know you wanted to ask.

‘Cause knowledge is power!

Square Pegs

I couldn’t fit these two shows in with any other category, but I didn’t want them to be overlooked. Dan Harmon’s show (creator of Community), consists of him drinking a lot, talking a lot, and interacting with the audience. It’s unlike any other show I listen to; it’s funny, crude, and for some reason, I keep going back to it. The show is currently on tour through January.

Throwing Shade is an award-winning hilarious/ridiculous “current events” podcast, and I adore it. The co-hosts, Erin Gibson and Bryan Safi, remind me of grown-up versions of Janis and Damian, in that they are awesome, and I would very much like to be their friend.

In my dreams.

Do you have any podcast favorites I missed? List your recommendations in the comments!

Silver Linings Playbook is Full of Silver Linings…would be an awesome title for this post.

4 Jan

Posted by: Alex

Happy new year, everyone! My new year’s resolution for 2013 is to accept compliments better. So, before you even tell me how great this post is, and how pretty you think I look today, let me just graciously say “thank you.”

As my first post of the year, I want to make it a point to show that I actually saw a movie while it is in the theaters, and I saw one that will probably be nominated for at least three Academy Awards. And I am making my prediction now that Silver Linings Playbook, while very good, will not take home any awards (I’m making this public, friends who come over to watch the Oscars and fill out our Oscar ballot, because when I win, once again, you’ll know I’m not cheating, which I will undoubtedly be accused of).

I would like to eat in a diner with Bradley Cooper. I mean, if he asked nicely.

I would like to eat in a diner with Bradley Cooper. I mean, if he asked nicely.

One thing I’ve learned about myself over the last couple of years is that I have certain genres of television and movies that I like, and I make no time for the others. I like comedies, the darker the better, because I like to laugh and be jovial, but I prefer my comedy smart. Unless you’re the movie Old School, which is one of the best movies ever made. Vince Vaughn doesn’t even have to speak and I am rolling on the floor laughing (sorry, young people – ROTF). If a documentary is made about any topic, I will find it interesting. Add some dramatic music and narration, and you could be telling me about how to fold a box and I will be convinced it’s of critical importance. And I will typically watch dramas in only two forms – political (ideally, based on real-life events. I was as excited for Frost/Nixon as some people are for The Hobbit) or psychological. I guess I like movies about people more dysfunctional than myself because they make me feel normal. That’s where Silver Linings Playbook comes in.

I have chills!

I have chills!

I don’t think I’ll be giving much away in the following paragraphs, so feel free to read on if you’re planning on seeing this movie. Unless basic plot counts as a spoiler, then SPOILER ALERT!!! BASIC PLOT WILL BE DISCUSSED!!! I’m just trying to cover my bases. If you opt to stop here, I’ll take the fact that you’ve read this far as a compliment. Thank you.

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