Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Couple of Changes for the Oscar Nominations

As with the Top 10 films of the year, I am compelled to make a few changes to my Oscar nominations, as There Will Be Blood was more impressive than I thought it would be.

So, here are the categories that PT Anderson's new film has been nominated, followed by my original prediction and if there is any change:

Prediction: Daniel Day-Lewis
New Prediction: Daniel Day-Lewis

It was evident from the teasers and trailers that this would be Day-Lewis' year again. And with all the commendations given to him so far, his win was sealed from the get-go.

Prediction: Atonement
New Prediction: Atonement

I am sticking to my guns with this one, because Atonement was the best-looking film of the year by a mile.

Prediction: The Assassination of Jesse James...
New prediction: The Assassination of Jesse James...

If this year isn't the year of Roger Deakins, then the Academy needs a huge rehashing process to do.

Prediction: The Coens
New Prediction: The Coens

No comment necessary here.

Prediction: The Bourne Ultimatum
New prediction: There Will Be Blood

There Will Be Good Storytelling...for shizzle.

Prediction: No Country
New Prediction: No Country

There Will Be Blood suffers from outstanding acting to shine as a film on its own.

Prediction: No Country
New Prediction: No Country

I'm sticking to my guns again for this one.

So, there has only been one change. I was absolutely sure that it would sweep the Original Score award, but to my chagrin it's not nominated. Surely, one of the biggest omissions in this category...perhaps the biggest. Shame.


Rethinking the Top 10

Perhaps I was too hasty when I submitted my Top 10 movies to the public (the modest crowd that they are), because this is the second time I am pushing a new movie into the list. If the move titles had any feelings, I would be the hate-mail recipient of some quite formidable titles. However, fortunately I am dealing with inanimate non-living and non-existing objects - I'm not going to go into a Barthesian discussion here about the significance and existence of names.

Here is a new Top 10 list for you, as Yours Truly finally saw There Will Be Blood yesterday:

1- No Country for Old Men
2- The Lives of Others
3- The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
4- There Will Be Blood
5- Gone Baby Gone
6- Knocked up
7- Feast of Love
8- Sunshine
9- Atonement
10- Eastern Promises

If you want to compare the previous lists, you can check here and here.

There will be a review soon up on my other blog ( Make sure you check it out within the next few days.


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Pure Reason Revolution

I am constantly reminded by my iPod that I possess an incredible album by a British band called Pure Reason Revolution. Their debut album, The Dark Third is full of LSD-inspired, haze-inducing, catchy-as-fuck prog epics unheard of ever since Roger Waters decided to run Pink Floyd like Robert Mugabe runs Zimbabwe.

Their sound is also reminiscent of The Beach Boys, but fortunately they try to do something different in each song instead of not fixing the-thing-that-ain't-broke.

I can't wait for their new album and I hope to see them out here on the East Coast very soon, because they are, right now, occupying the coveted spot of the-band-I-have-to-see-that-still-exists-today. And, I think they will be there until Zeppelin decides to tour, or something.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Top 10 Albums re-vamp

Like I said, those Top 10 lists are flexible. In fact, this has just come to my attention. While doing some research, as you do, I found out that the one Moonsorrow album I have, Viides Luku - Havietty was actually released in 2007.

For those of you not familiar with Moonsorrow, they are a Finnish metal band that incorporate black metal with extreme prog doodling. As a result, you have an album with two songs. The shorter one is just over 26 minutes long. It is an insane album - no crazy prog stuff I have comes even close to these songs. They are absolutely amazing. Hence, without further ado, I present you my revised Top 10 Albums of 2007:

1- Raising Sand by Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
2- The End Is Begun by 3
3- Black Stone Cherry by Black Stone Cherry
4- Hello Master by Priestess
5- From Beale Street to Oblivion by Clutch
6- Dark Passion Play by Nightwish
7- Viides Luku - Havietty by Moonsorrow
8- III: Over the Under by Down
9- United Abominations by Megadeth
10- Send Away the Tigers by Manic Street Preachers

I feel sorry for Porcupine Tree's Fear of a Dark Planet, but a late run by these Finns is unavoidable. Also for statistical reasons, there are two bands from Finland on this list. The other is NIghtwish. Those crazy Finns...they are pretty good drivers, too. What's up with that?


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

80th Academy Award Nominees

And here it is...quite probably the most exciting time in moviedom is nigh. This morning, the Academy (whoever they are) announced the nominees for the upcoming ceremony. Now, there is a key question here: will there be a ceremony?

I'm not a fan of the red carpet shenanigans of the celebrities and their new hot dresses. However, the Golden Globes showed that without the ceremony, the awards are useless. Absolutely obsolete. The only use for them is to print them on the DVD covers to pump up the sales for the "critically acclaimed fare".

Without further ado, let me give you my humble analysis of this year's nominees:

- George Clooney for Michael Clayton - a shoe-in nomination, but I don't think the movie, or the performance actually, was memorable enough to win.

- Daniel Day-Lewis for There Will Be Blood - whenever he is nominated, he is the favourite - deservedly. The Academy still owes him for Gangs of New York. Regardless, he is a god among acting talent.

- Johnny Depp for Sweeney Todd - Oh, Johnny...who doesn't love you? But, I still feel he had a better chance for Pirates.

- Tommy Lee Jones for In the Valley of Elah - I haven't seen the film, but I'm pretty sure he did a great job. However...who saw the movie in the first place?

- Viggo Mortensen for Eastern Promises - the fight scene in the bathhouse is deserving the nomination alone, but it feels like a caricature role.

And the winner is...Daniel Day-Lewis


- Casey Affleck for The Assassination of Jesse James - for me this was the performance of the year. And any other year, it would have been the clear favourite. But...

- Javier Bardem for No Country for Old Men- usual, Mr. Bardem steals the show. One of the scariest characters ever put on film.

- Philip Seymour Hoffman for Charlie Wilson's War - perhaps the movie is too light for Oscar, but Hoffman always delivers.

- Hal Holbrook for Into the Wild - just hoping that the Academy gives the award to the person who deserved it this year and not make amends to clear up old omissions...

- Tom Wilkinson for Michael Clayton - good performance, but again, not that memorable.

And the winner is...Javier Bardem


- Cate Blanchett for Elizabeth II - she should have won for the first one. This feels a little bit of a stretch to me.

- Julie Christie for Away From Her - the momentum from the Globes should carry her to the finish line.

- Marion Cotillard for La Vie en Rose - a role tailor-made for Academy, but her downfall could be that the Academy might favor an American, or better-said, an English-speaker.

- Laura Linney for The Savages - has she been not good at anything?

- Ellen Page for Juno - the best thing in the movie. She might be too young to win, but I wouldn't be surprised.

And the winner is...Ellen Page


- Cate Blanchett for I'm Not There- a woman playing a guy? An icon? The only thing against her is that she won this award before.

- Ruby Dee for American Gangster - a filler nomination.

- Saoirse Ronan for Atonement - I thought Keira Knightley's performance was far more moving, but she did a good job.

- Amy Ryan for Gone Baby Gone - one of the two revelations from the movie (the other is Ben).

- Tilda Swinton for Michael Clayton - another amazing performance. Unfortunately, the movie doesn't have enough buzz.

And the winner is...Cate Blanchett


- American Gangster - it was Harlem, all right. But it wasn't anything special,

- Atonement - looked and felt amazing. Without extreme theatricality, it replicates the time perfectly.

- The Golden Compass - Pullman's world is hard to bring onto the screen, but they did a good job of it.

- Sweeney Todd - haven't seen it yet, but Burton's films always looked stunning.

- There Will Be Blood - a strange choice, maybe, but a very strong contender.

And the winner is...Atonement


- The Assassination of Jesse James... - the sepia colors, the scenery, the look...absolutely fantastic.

- Atonement - some very clever camerawork and the interior shots are great too.

- The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - haven't seen it yet, but if the trailers are anything to go by, then this could be the dark horse.

- No Country for Old Men - when was the last time a Coens movie didn't look great? Can't remember? Because there isn't one.

- There Will Be Blood - I think Day-Lewis' performance takes all the attention away from the camera.

And the winner is...The Assassination of Jesse James


- Julian Schnabel for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - perhaps a surprise win in the Globes, but it looks like a real contender.

- Jason Reitman for Juno - well, clearly the thing that struck with this was Ellen Page. Not a director's movie. I'm sure Ang Lee is cringing somewhere...

- Tony Gilroy for Michael Clayton - it looks good but a tad too slow and pretentious.

- Joel & Ethan Coen for No Country for Old Men - it's their year, for sure.

- P.T. Anderson for There Will Be Blood - every film student's favourite film director, but will the Academy like him as much.

And the winner is...are...the Coens


- The Bourne Ultimatum - the only thing going for it was the editing, but it might be a little too hectic for the older members.

- The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - again, judging from the trailer, it might just go home with the trophy.

- Into the Wild - haven't seen this one too, so I have no comments...

- No Country for Old Men - the Coens have always been very meticulous, and this is no exception.

- There Will Be Blood - again, too strong a performance for the movie to shine elsewhere.

And the winner is...The Bourne Ultimatum


Unfortunately for me, I haven't seen any of these films yet. I blame the time I spent in Los Angeles.


- Atonement - the use of typewriters as percussion was genius and it added another layer of tension to the film.

- The Kite Runner - haven't seen this one either, but I read a lot about how good it is.

- Michael Clayton - I can't even remember the music...

- Ratatouille - too much Pixar brass gives me a headache.

- 3:10 to Yuma - westerns always do well in music, so this could be a contender.

And the winner is...Atonement


- Atonement - the inconsistency in the second half will be the downfall of this otherwise shoe-in-genre film.

- Juno - too light and indie to win, but even the nomination is as good as a win. And the cliche...this year's Little Miss Sunshine

- Michael Clayton - it was too long ago for the members to even remember it. It wasn't that good anyway.

- No Country for Old Men - if this doesn't win...well...I will do something else with my life.

- There Will Be Blood - perhaps too dark to win.

And the winner is...No Country for Old Men


- Christopher Hampton for Atonement - a beautiful script with sharp dialogue, but the shift in second half is a little awkward.

- Sarah Polley fort Away From Her - a filler nomination.

- Ronald Harwood for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - when it comes to scripts, the Academy has a soft spot for the foreign films, so it wouldn't be a huge surprise.

- Joel & Ethan Coen for No Country for Old Men - it might be a little too faithful to the novel, but the Coens use some of their magic too.

- Paul Thomas Anderson for There Will Be Blood - not a screenwriting movie.

And the winner is...are..the Coens.


- Diablo Cody for Juno - this will win, but it doesn't take enough risks. Then again, that's perfect for the Academy.

- Nancy Oliver for Lars and the Real Girl - I'm pretty sure the premise is a lot more interesting than the end result.

- Tony Gilroy for Michael Clayton - serious subject matter could be working in its favour.

- Brad Bird, Ian Pinkava, Jim Capobianco for Ratatouille - the animated scripts are, unfortunately, bound to the, I'm not sure this is good enough

- Tamara Jenkins for The Savages - I'm not sure if anybody has seen this yet...

And the winner is...Juno

So here it is folks. These are only some of the nominees...the ones I care about anyway. So, we'll see in four weeks whether I did good or not. Then again, my picks might change as I watch the other nominated films.

So until then...


Monday, January 21, 2008

Assorted Top 10s on the 'Net

Like I said before, there's no way escaping the Top 10s and this will be no exception. While I was measuring the waves of the Internet, I came across a few Top 10 films of the year. And I thought I might share them with you.

First off, let's start with the World's Most Respected Film
1- No Country for Old Men
2- The Lives of Others
3- The Assassination of Jesse James...
4- Gone Baby Gone
5- Knocked up
6- Feast of Love
7- Sunshine
8- Atonement
9- Eastern Promises
10- Hot Fuzz

Rotten Tomatoes gives an interesting list, where Ratatouille comes up as number one. Although I'm not a huge Pixar fan, I can't say I enjoyed it too much. That said, it's better than a couple of the films they put on Top 10: Hairspray and Zodiac. I have nothing against the latter, but...come on...Cute doesn't mean good. Then again, I had Feast of Love on my list...

Top Ten Reviews features a more-or-less consensus list, as it is compiled from various reviews across the board. Ratatouille once again comes up as the leader. The one rather interesting entry is the Korean monster flick, The Host. I had some issues with the tone of the film. In fact, I am stuck with writing a review for it. Watch this space.

Richard Corliss (Time), meanwhile, compiles this list, where the top two slots are the same as Yours Truly. However, he puts a reissue, Charles Burnett's classic Killer of Sheep. I'm not sure if it should be eligible. As far as a naturalist approach goes, the film has few peers, but its merits end there. Oh, and his list also features Beowulf...

Roger Ebert compiled a very unremarkable list (very much like mine, actually...). He puts Juno in number one. Even though I enjoyed watching it, one thing stuck with me throughout: could it have been less predictable had it taken some risks?

On that note, I will give the list of one of my friends. Here's the Top 10 list of Wheeler Maidrand Crowley:
1- Juno
2- Gone Baby Gone
3- No Country for Old Men
4- Superbad
5- The Bourne Ultimatum
6- The Lookout
7- The Assassination of Jesse James...
8- Knocked up
9- Southland Tales
10- Grindhouse

I have seen nearly half of these films with him, so I'm not surprised at their inclusion. But, dude...The Lookout? Really?

And finally, a little bit of research on my part from the imdb. From their list of films between the years 2000 and 2009, these are the Top 10 of the year:

1- There Will Be Blood
2- No Country for Old Men
3- Juno
4- Ratatouille
5- The Bourne Ultimatum
6- Sweeney Todd...
7- American Gangster (What?! - ed.)
8- 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days
9- The Man from Earth
10-3:10 to Yuma

The people spoke.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Top 10 Films Re-Boot

You might remember my Top 10 films of the year blog about a week ago. There I mentioned that any 2007 film that I would see is likely to creep up into the list.

Today I was flabbergasted by "The Lives of Others" and I wanted to put it in its deserving spot of No. 2 (sorry, "No Country..." still rocks). However, some Internet searching reveals that (actually imdb) the said film was first released in 2006. The catch is it was released in festivals and what-not. It entered the American and British markets in 2007. In other words, even though it was originally released in 2006, there was no way for me to legally watch it then.

So, here is the updated Top 10 films of 2007:

1- No Country for Old Men (Dir: Joel & Ethan Coen)

2- The Lives of Others (Dir: Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck)

3- The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Dir: Andrew Dominik)

4- Gone Baby Gone (Dir: Ben Affleck)

5- Knocked up (Dir: Judd Apatow)

6- Feast of Love (Dir: Robert Benton)

7- Sunshine (Dir: Danny Boyle)

8- Atonement (Dir: Joe Wright)

9- Eastern Promises (Dir: David Cronenberg)

10- Hot Fuzz (Dir: Edgar Wright)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


As per usual, I was perusing the Holy Land of cyberspace with my iTunes on (don't worry, this is not another iTunes-related blog) and a song that I haven't played for a long time came on: Chainsaw Charlie (Murders in the Rue Morgue) by the almost-inimitable monsters of shock-rock W.A.S.P..

There seems to be a reason why this band never got the notoriety they deserved. Yes, they were following in the footsteps of Alice Cooper; they were not as campy and catchy as Twisted Sister (but, my God, they are so much better); and they weren't as controversial as the God of Fuck, Mr. Marilyn 'look-I'm-so-clever-I should-be-a-philosopher' Manson.

W.A.S.P. had the chops to compete the best of them and for some unknown reason they are not mentioned when there is a stupid thing that a teenager does somewhere. Where are you, people? I mean we are talking about a band whose lead singer (with the awesome name of Blackie Lawless) sharpening the knife he attaches to his crotch on stage! He climbs on to his microphone, which is essentially a motorcycle handlebar with a myriad of skulls and chains! And, with the exception of Mr. Furnier, he can write songs. Take a listen to Animal (Fuck Like a Beast), L.O.V.E. Machine, The Idol, The Headless Children, or the absolutely amazing I Wanna Be Somebody. In fact I dare anybody not to feel pumped up and ready to smash something after listening to the latter song.

Actually, and I am contradicting myself wildly here, I was very surprised at the number of people that showed up to their gig in Nottingham Rock City a few years back. But then again, a lot of people show up for any band that comes to Rock City.

I dedicate this day to W.A.S.P. and their amazing repertoire. What was I going to say? Oh yeah, and I am going to be somebody today!


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

iTunes Survey

It seems like I can't get enough of this. But I promise this is the last one of its kind. This is by false45th. Here were my results:

How many songs: 7063

Sort by Song:
First song: "A Tout le Monde" by Megadeth
Last song: "10001110101" by Clutch

Sort by Time:
Shortest song: "Interlude #1" by Warrant (0:10)
Longest song: "Jddstd Syntynyt" by Moonsorrow (30:10)
[technically speaking it should be "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence" by Dream Theater (41:17), but iTunes somehow divides the song into 8 parts]

Sort by Artist:
First artist: AC/DC
Last artist: 311

Sort by Album:
First album: "Abandon" by Deep Purple
Last album: "5150" by Van Halen

Top 3 Most Played Songs:
1- "Jolene" by The White Stripes (53 times)
2- "Supermassive Black Hole" by Muse (40 times)
3- "Stand by Me" by Ben E. King (37 times)
"Redneck" by Lamb Of God (37 times)

First Song that Comes up on Shuffle:
"Halo of Flies" by Alice Cooper

"sex" - 23
"death" - 93
"love" - 393
"you" - 620

Number of Songs Starting with "I", "I'm", "I'll", "I've", "I'd" - 153

Songs with the Most Different Versions:
I don't have more than two versions of any song and there are too many to name here.


Monday, January 14, 2008

More iTunes Shuffle Stuff

I have made some googling in the last few hours and I came across several journal / blog entries for iTunes shuffling the like of which I was trying to make. So here are some of the surveys that I found. The rules are as follows. Open you mp3 player on your computer and put it on shuffle. As you answer a question, skip to the next one. And no cheating! So here are a few surveys that I found:

This one is on

It starts off in an interesting way, but then takes a speedy decline towards adolescent doubts...still pretty interesting answers that came up for me.

How am I feeling today?
Let's Get It on by Marvin Gaye

Will I get far in life?
Thank You in Advance by Hazy Malaze

How do my friends see me?
You Look So Young by The Jayhawks

Where will I get married?
Orion by Metallica

What is my best friend's theme song?
Was I Right or Wrong? by Lynyrd Skynyrd

What is the story of my life?
Buying My Way into Heaven by Sammy Hagar

What was high school like?
Dostum ['my friend' in Turkish] by Haluk Levent

How can I get ahead in life?
Weakness by Opeth

What is the best thing about me?
Shadow Play by 3

What is today going to be like?
Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden

What is in store for this weekend?
Janie's Got a Gun by Aerosmith

To describe my grandparents?
Magic Man by Rattlesnake Remedy

What song will they play at my funeral?
Desire by Zwan

How does the world see me?
The End Complete IV: The Road and the Damned by Coheed & Cambria

Will I have a happy life?
Dr. Octavia by Black Label Society

Do people secretly lust after me?
I Bleed by Pixies

How can I make myself happy?
Love, Hate, Love by Alice In Chains

What should I do with my life?
Stream of Consciousness by Dream Theater

Will I ever have children?
The Rocker by Thin Lizzy

What is some good advice for me?
White, Discussion by Live

How will I be remembered?
Inside by Jethro Tull

What is my signature dancing song?
A Dios le pido ['I ask God for you' in Spanish] by Juanes

What is my current theme song?
I Choose by the Offspring

What does everyone else think my current theme song is?
Strangeways by Deep Purple

What type of women do I like?
Thunderhead by W.A.S.P.

This next one can be found on this website:
It's actually pretty interesting: Your life as a movie soundtrack...

Opening Credits: Child in Time by Deep Purple
Waking up: Thankfully by Bayside
First Day at School: I Scream by Down
Falling in Love: Low Desert by R.E.M.
Shower Scene: Lack of Communication by Ratt
Fight Song: Red, White, & Blue by Judas Priest
Breaking up: Mutant Rock by The Meteors
Prom: Pass the Clock Part 1 by Mostly Autumn
Life's OK: Oasis by Kitaro
Mental Breakdown: Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day
Driving: Back to Back by Deep Purple
Sex Scene: Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition by Serj Tankian
Flashback: Ready An' Willing by Whitesnake
Getting Back Together: Little Bombs by Aimee Mann
Wedding: Still Life by Iron Maiden
Birth of Child: Hardening of the Arteries by Slayer
Final Battle: Angel Witch by Angel Witch
End Credits: The Idol by W.A.S.P.

There are more of these, but I'm getting a little bored. So, this will do.


iTunes Shuffle

Well, since I am unemployed and bored, I thought I'd play my iTunes library in shuffle and see what comes up. Here are the 30 (why? I don't know) songs that come up:

Ghosts by Chris Cornell (Carry on): I'm not sure I like this song yet. Sometimes it feels like a filler and sometimes I get into it a lot.

Baby Hates Me by Danko Jones (sampler): It definitely has a groove, but not that remarkable.

Can't Live Without You by Scorpions (Blackout): You can't really go wrong with the Scorps. It feels a little too similar to Van Halen for comfort, though...

Nickelodeon by Marc Bolan & T-Rex (20th Century Super Star Disc 1): A mandolin-led song that is easy on the ears.

Not the One by the Offspring (Smash): Every song on this album is awesome. And this is no exception.

In Perfect Harmony by Within Temptation (Mother Earth): The problem with the female-led goth-metal bands is the ballad situation. This is a case in point.

I Am the One (live) by W.A.S.P. (The Crimson Idol Disc 2): It's W.A.S.P. for godsake! Of course it is amazing.

Beyond the Wheel by Soundgarden (Ultramaga OK): An early gem. They used to sound so menacing.

Sulk by Radiohead (The Bends): Back in the day Radiohead used to write songs...

Flight by Kitaro (The Best of Ten Years (1976-86): Kitaro makes every note his own. Brilliant.

Run Away by Live (Birds of Pray): A radio-friendly ballad that is not too corny.

The Sign of the Southern Cross by Black Sabbath (Mob Rules): One of Sab's best songs. The riff is heavier and headier than anything out there.

(Your Love Is) Drivin' Me Crazy by Y&T (In Rock We Trust): I haven't had a chance to listen to this yet...

River Town by Live (Birds of Pray): One my favourite Live songs. I would love to hear this live (geddit?).

The General by Dispatch (Bang Bang): I love the intro to this. Gets a little boring towards the end, though. Actually it gets boring when he starts singing.

Are You Ready? by AC/DC (The Razor's Edge): I mean, do they need any comments?

Overcome by Live (V): Another Live song? The only good song on that otherwise terrible album.

Comatose by Pearl Jam (Pearl Jam): Absolutely fucking fantastic. But, aren't they always?

April Come She Will by Simon & Garfunkel (Tales From New York - The Very Best of): Sitting on a beach, playing guitar while my girl is lying next to me...

Stoned in the Temple by Glenn Hughes (The Way It Is): The Voice of Rock...'nuff said.

Ride a Black Swan by Zwan (Mary Star of the Sea): A shame they didn't follow this up.

The Frayed Ends of Sanity by Metallica (...And Justice for All): Is it me or have NKOTB sampled the intro for Step by Step?

Warm Tape by Red Hot Chili Peppers (By the Way): The only hiccup in an otherwise perfect album.

Enter Sandman by Metallica (Black album): I don't think it's that good. They have far superior songs on this album.

Broken Face by Pixies (Surfer Rosa): Well, it's the Pixies...

Nobody's Fault but Mine by Led Zeppelin (Presence): Dave Mustaine claims this as the best Zeppelin album. I'm beginning to agree with him.

Lazy Days, Crazy Nights by Tesla (The Great Radio Controversy): There is something different about Tesla that I can't put my finger on...

Endless Summer by Zwan (Mary Star of the Sea): Please, bring Zwan back!

So Far Away by Dire Straits (Sultans of Swing - The Very Best of): Not their best one, but a very very underrated band.

O Death by Ralph Stanley (O Brother, Where Art Thou?): One of the amazing tracks on the best soundtrack ever. Period.

Well, with the exception of The Sign of the Southern Cross and River Town I don't love any of these songs. But I can assure you, I have far better songs in my library...Yes, I do...


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Back From Vacation Part 2: The Epic Journey

If I remember correctly (well, I could just open a new window and read it, but you know...) I left off last time with my first day in Switzerland, with grocery shopping in Germany (I just can't get over it...).

My parents arrived the following day and in the next couple of days were spent hanging out and eating lots of awesome food. When the day arrived for my parents to leave, I went to the airport with them as my flight was a few hours after theirs. After they checked in and I bade them goodbye, only to see them later that night in Istanbul, I started waiting for Regan (my beautiful girlfriend).

However, things were actually getting pretty interesting by this point. I was going to meet Regan (my beautiful girlfriend) at Zurich airport. To save some money, we found the cheapest ticket we could muster up on the so-called cheap airfare sites on the net. She was going to fly from Boston to Zurich with two stop-overs. One at Philly, the other at Munich. The catch was that she had about 35 minutes of lay-over at Munich. Yes, we were pushing a little bit. But, as always, I was being overly optimistic. I was checking her flight status with my BlackBerry at the airport and everything seemed fine. As I was making my way through Cormac McCarthy's can-you-be-any-more-pessimistic masterpiece The Road, my phone rang and it said "unknown number" - the dread of everyone in the cellphone universe. I knew it was her and about twenty-five different scenarios passed through my mind after I pressed the answer key and lifted the phone up to my ear. Yes, her flight in was late and she missed her connection. Well...

We had another problem. Our next flight was in four hours. And the next flight from Munich to Zurich was in an hour, but the line was way too long, she said. So, somehow she managed to pull some strings and found a place in the next flight. She also managed to have her bags checked in all the way to Istanbul. God, I wish I was blonde and beautiful...

Anyway, she came to Zurich. Kisses, hugs, etc. We made our way to our next flight to Istanbul...via Paris. For those of you who have no idea about European geography, it's like going from Boston to New York via Chicago. We made it to the flight and sat down waiting for take-off. Then we saw our bags wheeled in on a cart. After a couple of minutes, Regan's (my beautiful girlfriend) two bags were waiting on the tarmac. Surely, something must be wrong. I called the stewardess and told her the situation. She came back to me by saying that those weren't our bags. Like, how? I can see them outside. They are our bags. No, sir. How do you know they are your bags? Well, how do you know they aren't? Surely, I can recognize my bags when I see them.

While this...I don't know...ludicrous discussion was going on, the plane started to move...we were left with staring at our bags...

After landing in Paris we cracked another one for the Supervisor / Stewardess (I wanted to punch her, because she was constantly smiling). We tried to tell our predicament to ground staff, but French being the French(sorry, I don't believe in stereotypes, but this incident sort of persuaded me that stereotypes might actually be accurate when it comes to Air France staff) we received no help. After landing in Istanbul, the Turks being the Turks (when it comes to my own people, stereotypes are an understatement), they couldn't find our bags on the system. Which means that they were lost...

You have to wait for the next instalment to find out what happened next.


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Golden Globe Nomiations

I believe the cancellation of the upcoming 65th Golden Globe Awards ceremony will be the biggest effect of the WGA strike on the regular viewers. Love 'em, or hate' em, the awards season is the most exciting time of the movie calendar. The pundits who hate ceremonies as such LOVE writing about how much they despise them. They are not absolutely necessary, but they are damn good fun! It is especially annoying to know that the SAG asked its members not to cross the picket lines to attend the ceremony, yet they were all present at the Critics' Choice Awards last night (1/8/07). Talking about hypocrisy...

Anyway, there won't be a red carpet and Isaac Mizrahi (thank Zeus for that), nor will there be tears from the Best Actress winners. But, it's also sad that we won't be able to see the people we all wish to be (come on, admit it) all in one room, sipping campaign that cost more than the money I have in my bank account and patting each other in the back for making $20 million more last year.

I want to see what the press conference will be like this weekend (apparently the cancellation of the ceremony will cost NBC an estimated $15-20 million!). And, as always, I am curious as to who would win. So here are my picks for some of the categories. The only disclaimer is that I haven't seen any of the mini-series or made-for-TV movies, so they don't appear here. Also for some of the categories I haven't seen each film. So I made a rule that I will pick the categories where I have seen at least three films / shows. These are, by the way, my dream winners. Not who will win, but rather who should.

Without further ado, here are my picks for the Golden Globes:

Best Picture - Drama: No Country for Old Men
Best Actor - Drama: James McAvoy for Atonement
Best Supporting Actor: Casey Affleck for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Best Supporting Actress: Tilda Swinton for Michael Clayton
Best Director: Joel and Ethan Coen for No Country for Old Men
Best TV Series - Drama: House M.D.
Best TV Series - Comedy: 30 Rock
Best Actor for TV Series - Musical or Comedy: Alec Baldwin for 30 Rock

Not a huge list of picks, but I had to be objective...

Anyway, this list will expand as I watch the remaining candidates...but, by that time it will be too late...

Monday, January 7, 2008

Top 10s of the Year

Yes, it's that time of the year, when people with absolutely no authority declare their favourites for the year. And Yours Truly is no exception. But, let's face it - it's fun to make them and it's also fun to read them and damn their author.

So, without further ado, I give you my Top 10 albums and films of 2007. Note, however, that this list might change any day, since I will be watching films and buying albums from 2007 in the future too. And with all likelihood, some of them will creep up into the following lists.



1- Raising Sand by Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
And absolute gem of an album from two very distinctive and talented singers. There isn't a filler here as one song transcends to another seamlessly. Perfect.
Recommended download: Nothin'

2- The End Is Begun by Three
Each and every one of these unpretentious prog songs are incredibly memorable for their hooks and intricate arrangements.
Recommended download: All That Remains

3- Black Stone Cherry by Black Stone Cherry
The newcomers of the year, the Kentucky band showed the world that you don't need to lead a hedonist's lifestyle to come up with grooves and hooks.
Recommended download: Rain Wizard

4- Hello Master by Priestess
What is fantastic about this album is how each song sounds unique, yet make up a whole cohesive unit.
Recommended download: Blood

5- From Beale Street to Oblivion by Clutch
Great songwriting and musicianship all around. Like all other Clutch albums, it is full of gems and oddities.
Recommended download: Electric Worry

6- Dark Passion Play by Nightwish
Defying all the expectations, Nightwish came up with a fantastic album that reminds everyone what an amazing band they are once again.
Recommended download: 7 Days to the Wolves

7- III: Over the Under by Down
The sludge-masters are back...with a vengeance. It is mature and full of interesting ideas. Their best work to date.
Recommended download: Nothing in Return

8- United Abominations by Megadeth
Yes, they're back. May not be a classic 'Deth album, but whets my appetite for what is next to come.
Recommended download: Never Walk Alone...A Call to Arms

9- Send Away the Tigers by Manic Street Preachers
Manics? Cheerful? No way...yes way, sir. It's chock-full of hook-laden gems and masterful songwriting.
Recommended download: Your Love Is Not Enough

10- Fear of a Blank Planet by Porcupine Tree
An album that requires MULTIPLE listens. However, the rewards you get from it are worth the time it requires of you.
Recommended download: Way out of Here

Also worth mentioning (in alphabetical order):
Blackbird by Alter Bridge
Carry on by Chris Cornell
Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Vol. 2: No World for Tomorrow by Coheed & Cambria
Devin Townsend Presents Ziltoid the Omniscient by Devin Townsend
The Butcher's Ballroom by Diablo Swing Orchestra
Systematic Chaos by Dream Theater
Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace by Foo Fighters
Latest Version of the Truth by Mustasch
In Requiem by Paradise Lost
Elect the Dead by Serj Tankian
The Varangian Way by Turisas

And now the films...

1- No Country for Old Men (Dir: Joel & Ethan Coen)
The Coens are back. Bleak is the word that comes to mind. Another word that comes to mind is perfection. It may be the best film of the last five years.

2- The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Dir: Andrew Dominik)
It's a beautiful canvas on which a great story is painted. Casey Affleck comes up with the performance of the year. Worth the admission for the dinner scene.

3- Gone Baby Gone (Dir: Ben Affleck)
A gripping thriller with genuine performances and a good script. The Affleck brothers did their homework and delivered a fantastic film.

4- Knocked up (Dir: Seth Rogen)
I am still laughing at the jokes months after...that's what makes it an unforgettable comedy experience.

5- Feast of Love (Dir: Robert Benton)
My guilty pleasure of the year. A warm and genuine film.

6- Sunshine (Dir: Danny Boyle)
It makes you hate Danny Boyle for being this talented. Is there a genre he can't tackle? I heard that he is now making a musical.

7- Atonement (Dir: Joe Wright)
Despite slowing down and going to a completely different direction in the second half, it is a very elegant movie with great performances. Special mention for James McAvoy.

8- Eastern Promises (Dir: David Cronenberg)
Aside from an annoying and unnecessary voiceover and a weak ending, Cronenberg again comes up with the smartest movie of the year.

9- Hot Fuzz (Dir: Edgar Wright)
Better structured than Shaun, this is a movie where belly-aching laughter never ends.

10- The Mist (Dir: Frank Darabont)
How about ending the list with another bleak one? Most people hated it, I was hooked the moment Thomas Jane entered the frame.

And those that just couldn't make it:

The Bourne Ultimatum (Dir: Paul Greengrass)
Grindhouse (Dir: Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino)
Lust, Caution (Dir: Ang Lee)
The Simpsons Movie (Dir: David Silverman)
Superbad (Greg Mottola)
Zodiac (Dir: David Fincher)

So, here it is folks. My favourites for 2007. Like I said, these lists will eventually change, but for now they will do.


Friday, January 4, 2008

Back from Vacation

Hello Earthlings,

I haven't been able to communicate with my brethren for about three weeks now and It gives me great pleasure to finally spread the word about Yours Truly's vacation across continents and cultures.

Having spent three days in Boston after my second road trip (this time a return trip) across the US of A, I ventured out over the pond named the Atlantic and arrived at the magnificent city of London. Coming out of the plane and seeing the familiar black-on-yellow signs of Heathrow airport was a welcome I was looking forward to for over two and a half years. Nothing seemed to have changed until I saw the new 20 pound notes. Frankly, they look like monopoly money and it looks like the British Sterling is no longer the coolest-looking currency anymore. The staggering price of the train ticket to Central London was another reminder for me. London IS expensive. This thought stayed with me for the duration of my stay there.

My hotel (so to speak) was near Paddington station and the room was slightly bigger than my car, with the added bonus of a TV with no signal. Great. I walked around London, visited the old sites and met my friend Hattie and her boyfriend Andrew that night. I enjoyed drinking outside of a pub (something definitely missing in the US). I went to Richmond - the old neighborhood - the following day. Sitting on the Tide Tables by the Thames alone and reminiscing about good-old-days was one of the highlights of my trip. That night I watched "The Golden Compass" in Odeon Leicester Square. A little bit of more walking around and I went back to the hotel.

My flight to Zurich was from the City Airport. For those of you not in the know, it is situated in a place where no airport should ever be situated - far away from any discernible tourist or residential areas. I took the night bus at 3 in the morning, along with the drunken brethren of London who were taking the same bus back home. Anyhoo, I arrived at the airport without much hassle. The only significant thing about the airport was the sight of a teenage girl 1) throwing a bag at her father, and 2) slapping her mother. Quite a sight to behold.

Onward to Zurich. My uncle Can and my two cousins picked me up from the airport. Apparently nobody told him what time I was coming, so he had been waiting for quite some time. We drove to his apartment, dropped my bags, and went to Germany for food shopping. Now, that sounds strange, but the goods are considerably cheaper in Germany, so a lot of the Swiss population near the border prefer shopping over there. It takes about 25 minutes from Zurich to the German border. Having finished shopping (which included showing the receipt at the border control instead of a passport), we met my other uncle Cuneyt in Reutofabrik - an old factory now serving as a cafe and meeting place for the young, the hip, and the weird. After coffee we drove to my aunt Canan's apartment. Then we went back to Can's.

This is getting too long, so I better give a break here and save you from utter boredom - if you're not bored already. The second instalment will follow very soon. And until then,