Excessive Dictionary Usage

1. Still can’t believe we have a new president. I suppose the first real transition I was conscious for was Clinton to GWB. It’s kind of weird that we keep on progressing like this. This is the fifth president in my lifetime, already. Craziness. Okay. No more of that.

2. @John_Agnello suggested I write about my irrational fear of peanut butter. I don’t have an irrational fear of peanut butter.

3. Also – John_Agnello @obviate “WTF, where’s my peanut butter cups, Brendan!!!” Completely random.

4. Tomorrow night is Animal Collective at Metro. I’m really excited. Talk about seeing a band at the height of their powers. These guys are EVERYWHERE lately, and I feel incredibly privileged to be able to get to their gig. I have some serious anticipation for this gig. My camera’s broke and being repaired, but I’ll try to take what I can with ye olde iPhone.

5. Went to lunch with my good friend Jordan De Shon today. We remarked that 2009 is a painfully bad year for big movie releases. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince as well as Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (atrocious movie title, btw) looks to be the only semi-decent big ticket flicks coming out for the summer. I sincerely hope Hopefully Pixar continues their streak with Up. If anything, the main character has the bestname since Mike Wazowski. Get this – Carl Fredricksen. Carl!

6. The new U2 single sounds like dogshit. I don’t even think I finished it, and I used to like U2. A lot.

7. The new Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band record, Working On A Dream is streaming over at NPR. Click the link to hear it. I’m sort of disappointed with it. There’s enough there to hold my attention – but it’s like, the songs feel really half baked. Disappointing, but not terrible.

8. No Doubt is touring this summer with Paramore. It’s good they’re getting back together. I saw them in 2002. Good show. Unfortunate that they’re playing with Paramore. Okay, okay, so I dug Misery Business! I’m sorry!

9. I could not believe my ears when I heard this. Wow.

10. Most fast food is an excellent idea in theory, but poor in execution. Just sayin’.

One Twenty Oh Nine

obama

I was inspired today watching the inaugural festivities, and decided to cobble together a mixtape featuring songs I felt were appropriate for the occasion. Enjoy!

Click here to download.

Tracklist:

Change Is Gonna Come – Otis Redding
The World Is An Open Door – Franz Nicolay
Sorrow – Bad Religion
Afrobama – Cody Chesnutt
Come Together – The Beatles
The Times They Are A-Changin’ – Bob Dylan
Black Man – Stevie Wonder
Constructive Summer – The Hold Steady
I Want To Take You Higher – Sly & The Family Stone
The Start of Something – Voxtrot

The World Is An Open Door

At long fucking last, we’ve come to the final day – erm- final HOURS of the Bush Presidency.

The morning of January 20, 2001 has been seared in my mind for eight long years. It was cold and snowy here in Chicago. I sat in my room quietly as I watched GWB take the oath of office. There was something painfully unfair about the whole event. I was fifteen at the time – old enough to have a political conscience, so the Bush v. Gore election from the previous November hurt – yet I really was not mentally capable of handling the repercussions of that ugly and incredibly costly election.

One day short of eight years later, I can look back and safely say we are not at all better off than we were before George Walker Bush took office. The Twin Towers no longer punctuate the New York City skyline. Thousands of our troops are dead in two very costly (and completely unnecessary) wars. So many scandals and controversies. No progress. Had there not been strict restrictions on stem cell research, by this point, we could have been leaps and bounds ahead in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s research among others. Nah. It’s against Dubbya’s religious beliefs. Ugh.

I could go on and on. Not necessary at this point.

Tomorrow is such a big day for our country. It’s the 1UP in this Super Mario game we call life. This is the do over. At 11 AM CST, and Barack Hussein Obama takes office as the 44th President of the United States.

That still blows my mind every time I think about it. Like many other Americans, I feel like I have a personal relationship with the guy. It’s like watching your kid go off on the school bus on the first day of school. I haven’t forgotten his cheaply produced Senate ads from 2004. I remember thinking: “Who the fuck is this guy?”. Then he became Senator. Then my mother and I watched him declare his candidacy for President on that cold day in February 2007 in our kitchen. Then he became the frontrunner. Then the candidate.

Then that perfect, inspiring, life-altering moment in Grant Park that mild evening in November.

Now we’re here. One night before the weight of the world is placed firmly upon his shoulders. I can’t deny that I’m rooting for him every step of the way. I think it’s that important. If it’s anyone that can direct us out of the trouble we’re in, it’s this dude.

Barack Obama is no messiah. He may not even get half of the things done he’s promising to get done. The challenges he’s facing are immense, and quite possibly, are beginning to rival those of FDR’s first days in office during the Great Depression That’s definitely something to consider. Regardless, Barack Obama, motivates people to be better. To try a little harder. That’s what matters. We can’t do the big things without the push to get us going. He’s providing the nudge.

This transfer of power represents a change of course. A total 180 from any other American Presidency we’ve ever seen. I’m hoping to see some openness in government again. We need a modern presidency. One that keeps the nation involved in the changes and allows us a voice that we can hope will listen.

I look to tomorrow and the days that follow with excitement, cautious optimism, and even some idealism. Regardless of your politics, I think that’s something everyone can invest a little in. Your future depends on it.

With examples of the past eight years and this seismic change in leadership, I hope that this country can again be a place to be proud of – instead of angry with.

Right Turn, Clyde.

According to Box Office Mojo, this weekend’s top-grossing film is Gran Torino, a film rumored to be Clint Eastwood’s final bow as an actor. The film has been nominated for a handful of awards and, quite possibly, could be a contender for Best Picture at this year’s Oscar ceremony.

With this in mind, I come today not to praise Eastwood, but to bemoan an element of his repertoire that has been left moldering on the shelf for nearly three decades.

Clint Eastwood makes fantastic “tough guy with a monkey sidekick” movies.

When we look back on the 1970s and 1980s, we tend to compartmentalize them neatly into two groups: the disco glitter bomb of Studio 54 closed up shop, making room for the cigarette boats and dayglow of Miami Vice, and never the two shall meet… except that this isn’t the real story.

For a glimmer of time, America was fascinated with a sort of pearl snapped, Coors guzzling image sold as “countrypolitan.” Films like Urban Cowboy popularized the wearing of ten gallon hats and Wrangler jeans and Justin boots, while artists like Eddie Rabbit and, most importantly, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton made inroads into Top 40 radio (fun fact: “Islands in the Stream” was written and produced by none other than Barry Gibb. Listen to it again- it’s a jam!)

(You’re welcome, America.)

As much of Madison Avenue probably didn’t have a clue as to what “western cool” was, a strange glut of vaguely hick, often shirtless, and- I can’t say this enough- Coors-fueled diversions began to crop up. Movies like Smokey and the Bandit seemed to capitalize on the bubba-sploitation of earlier films like Walking Tall with a degree of authenticity, but the most curious subgenre to emerge was that of the tough guy with the monkey sidekick.

Television had B.J. and the Bear, but the pinnacle of the “tough guy with a monkey” came with 1978’s Every Which Way but Loose. Clint Eastwood, an established “tough guy” riding high on the success of his earlier westerns and his take-no-prisoners films as “Dirty” Harry Callahan. With Loose, Eastwood found himself as a significantly toned-down badass named Philo Beddoe (the film is rated PG, as opposed to Clint’s harder R films of the 1970s) who drives a truck, occasionally engages in bare-knuckle brawling, and pals around with an orangutan (the ape of choice for this genre- see also Tony Danza in Going Ape!).

I’m not going to discuss the plot much further beyond that- there’s not much else worth discussing. Eastwood does hook up with his then-girlfriend, Sondra Locke (fun fact: she later sued his ass for all manner of awful things), which should make for a romantic subplot- thankfully, we don’t have to endure much of that. Instead, we get Clint beating dudes up, chugging a beer while driving a truck, getting in a bar fight with an orangutan as his only backup, wailing on a biker gang, and spending time with his ma. It’s awesome- so awesome, in fact, that the “Bachelor Party” episode of How I Met Your Mother gives the movie a well-deserved shoutout (Clyde flipping the bird is cited as the third-best thing in the world.)

As the “countrypolitan” fad faded in the early 1980s, films like this seemed to drop from existence. Some twenty years later, country has emerged as every bit as viable a force in record sales, yet the byproducts of that bygone era seem to have been a bit more, shall we say, gentrified (to wit: a remake of Walking Tall scrubbed much of the chicken-fried goodness from the original, giving us a hero named “Chris” taking on casinos and drug dealers instead of moonshiners- I don’t expect any Patterson Hood songs about this guy any time soon.)

In this age of remakes and “re-imaginings,” perhaps no genre is as deserving a further investigation than that of the “tough guy with a monkey” film.

Clint, please consider a more fitting coda for Philo Beddoe… please.

In conclusion, America, I give you Ted’s third-best thing ever:

Magic Eye is frustrating

1. I saw The Wrestler tonight. Fantastic movie. Still wasn’t my top flick of 2008, That distinction goes to a little known Christopher Nolan flick. Still, excellent acting, Mickey Rourke deserves an Oscar nod. Ernest “The Cat” Miller even shows up! Dude’s packin’ a few pounds now, but still good to see quality former WCW jobber.

2. It’s 2009, which means the 90’s were over ten years ago. That also means we get farther and farther away from the unfortunate date of this picture.

3. I’ve rediscovered the Matador Pavement reissues. Obtaining them has been a Brendan Christmas tradition every even numbered year since 2002. So much stuff to sort through. Admittedly, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain and Wowee Zowee didn’t get too many spins from me. Now’s the time to change this. Did they ever have a bad album? They’re four for four (woo, that was fun!) so far. I can wait the two years for Terror Twilight to see if they go for the quintfecta. (That can’t possibly be a word, but I like it. I’m not looking it up, so deal with it.)

4. I got a ticket to see Animal Collective for Christmas. I was completely surprised. My mom rocks. I thought it was totally sold out (it is). It’s going to be a lot of fun.

5. Speaking of which, Merriweather Post Pavilion had it’s vinyl release on Domino today. I came very late to the Animal Collective game, like, Strawberry Jam late. That record went for the jugular. This one’s good, a bit too Panda Bear-y for my tastes, however. THAT ALBUM COVER IS COMPLETELY SCREWING WITH MY HEAD.

6. I’ve been on an epic sushi bender lately. There’s this sorta-chain place in the burbs I’ve been hitting called Sushi Station that has a conveyor belt and a large selection of rolls. Not terrible. My special someone and I also hit up Coast Sushi too, but it wasn’t too hot. If you’ve been following our Twitter feed, you’ll see that we were seated next to a minor celebrity. Yeah, I geeked out a bit.

7. The next time I’m in Madison, I want to check out Tex Tubb’s Taco Palace. The food looks pretty incredible, as well as the decor. Look at that menu and try to tell me it doesn’t look delicious.

8. The greatest rock and roll band in the world is playing the House of Blues in eight short days – headlining the Len and Bob Bash for the Cubs this year. Tom Morello is opening. I love this blurb from the Cubs website:

CHICAGO — Chicago Cubs broadcasters Len Kasper and Bob Brenly will team up outside the broadcast booth to host the third annual Len & Bob Bash on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009, at the House of Blues in downtown Chicago.
This year’s Len & Bob Bash will feature the internationally known artist The Hold Steady. Created in 2004, Brooklyn-based The Hold Steady are known for their mixture of classic rock, folk and hip-hop, and have rapidly gained international acclaim.

Hip-hop?! Really? Nice work, PR person.

9. I am addicted to 30 Rock. Such a good show. NBC has good comedies, and still, their network is constantly being shit on. Why? I suppose, I don’t really watch any TV when it airs though, so I don’t really know.

10. Anyone have any good Inauguration Day plans?