Thursday, December 28, 2006

2006: A Year in Review.

It was suggested to me that my post this week should be a sort of year in review type of post. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense to speak to each of the categories I tend to write about, namely Music, Movies, TV, and Cars. I’m definitely not versed enough in any one topic to do a Top 10 Best of, so I’ve decided to stick to a Top 3 Favorite format. Now in order to become one of my Top 3 Favorites, I have to have seen the movie, listened to the album, etc. There are probably plenty of other great things out there; nevertheless here are the ones that influenced me the most this year.

Top 3 Favorite Albums of the Year

3. Mates of State: Bring it Back—This album came out of nowhere and easily became my soundtrack for the summer. For those who don't know, Mates of State is a husband/wife, drums/organ duo. When I heard they were opening for the Death Cab for Cutie show in August, I thought I’d brush up on their latest and greatest. You know when critics call things a “tour de force”, well that term perfectly describes this album. It’s a string of eclectic, almost power ballad-like tracks that culminate in an organ-induced chant fest. Stand out track: Punchlines.

2. Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins: Rabbit Fur Coat—Well, I’ve already spoken to Jenny’s live performance capabilities. But this album itself is a sweet ode to modern folk rock. There are very few fun and haunting albums these days—this is one of them. When you listen to this album there’s definitely a bit of a time machine effect. It’s almost like you’re transported back to a time when the line between country and rock wasn’t so defined, a la Cash and Carter. Stand out track: Rise Up With Fists!!

1. The Killers: Sam’s Town—This choice might actually come as a surprise to a few. But the post-modern bliss that is Sam’s Town took the cake for highest Play Count in my iTunes this year. Honestly I’m not sure exactly what it was that captured me about this album. I know it has something to do with the way this album deconstructs pop-culture and the fact that it absolutely rocks. Check out Upto12’s Kyality-inspired review for more. Stand out track: Read My Mind.

Top 3 Favorite Mainstream Movies of the Year

3. V for Vendetta—rarely do flicks have a solid combination of action, drama, wit, and let’s say… thought-provoking power. V surely qualifies in each of those categories. Was it hard to look at that mask for a full 132 minutes? Yeah. But the poetry, the unique story-telling structure, and a very hot, shaved-head Natalie Portman totally made up for it. Basically, this film was vindication to us, the fans of the original Matrix, who felt totally betrayed by the sequels. Was V for Vednetta great? Yes. Is the Wachowski Brothers’ debt paid? Not yet. Stand out feature: killer DVD packaging.

2. Casino Royale—Critics agree, 6 weeks after release, Casino Royale is still sporting a 95% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Seriously, that’s like Lord of the Rings good. You’ve got to appreciate a flick that has both the edge of a movie like Snatch and the mass appeal of a something like Patriot Games. If you haven’t seen it, do. And if you have seen it, you can come with me—I totally want to see it again. Check this previous post for additional thoughts. Stand out feature: amazing street climbing opening sequence.

1. Stranger Than Fiction—When I look at my favorite movies of all time there are a few things they all have in common. First, they can almost all be labeled ‘dramedies’—there’s a tight, purposeful script with great balance of powerful emotion and smart humor. Second, there’s a high level of production design with great sets and locations, costumes, and lighting (not to mention some killer cinematography to showcase it all). And finally, there’s an exceptional soundtrack with inspiring songs and an original score that doesn’t have to rely on typical Hollywood conventions to get the point across. Out of all the films I’ve seen in 2006, Stranger Than Fiction fits the bill for my fave film of the year. Stand out feature: fantastic motion graphics by MK12 out of Kansas City, Missouri.

Top 3 Favorite TV Shows of the Year

3. LOST—Well, so far, Season 3 has been, let’s say… interesting. This show has the uncanny ability to piss me off then totally redeem itself within a single episode. It’s unreal. Honestly I can be so frustrated with an episode, and then in the very next moment a flawlessly executed scene will completely blow me away. Take for instance the World Series scene with Jack or the do-you-love-him scene with Kate—amazing stuff. I don’t care what you say, I'm still a fan and I can’t wait for the rest of the non-stop season. Stand out moment: anyone kissing Kate.

2. The Office—Forget Season 1, stop comparing it to the original BBC version, embrace the characters, then just sit back and enjoy. I’m discovering more and more that it’s the supporting cast that makes this show exceptional. It’s even better that half of the supporting cast are writers for the show as well. I’m a stickler for details and somehow, someway they jam enough in that I’m craving more and more as the week goes by. Exploding fist pounds, faxes from the future, warp-speed brainteaser solving, it’s all good. Stand out moment: “Right place at the right time.”

1. 24—Okay, all I have to say is wow. This is what television is all about. First, it was a non-stop season, meaning no missing weeks and no reruns—awesome. Second, they’re unabashedly killing people left and right, giddy up. Third, Jack was hitting the perfect balance between being completely insane and totally in control at the exact same time. It was stunning. You look at most shows out there, and when they’re hitting that 5th season (and sometimes sooner) they just start falling apart. Bravo to Kiefer and the team for making Season 5 even better than Season 1. Stand out feature: Jack’s awesome military hoodie and satchel full of spy goodies.

Top 3 Favorite New Cars of the Year

3. Ford Mustang GT—I am so down with the rebirth of the muscle car. There is a certain amount of irony built in, I mean here we are in an energy crisis of sorts, and finally Detroit is making some cars worth revving your engine at. Ford has pulled out ahead of the pack with a beautiful reinterpretation of the classic Mustang lines. Now this car only works in the GT incarnation or better. The base model is a joke. But when you get a couple of fog lights on there, some nice alloys, and that classic fastback roofline, it’s a fantastic looking vehicle. Stand out news: word on the street is that a Bullitt Edition is expected to be released next year!

2. Dodge Charger/Magnum Police Interceptors—For the first time in decades police officers have vehicles worthy of a decent car chase. These cars make the Impalas and Crown Vic’s out there look like grandpas on patrol. If intimidation is a valid law enforcement tactic, then these cars are it. Granted they may also inspire the occasional criminal (or car fanatic) to drop the hammer just to see how those machines handle, but I’m glad that precincts have determined that it’s a risk they’re willing to take. Stand out detail: those blacked-out rims just look mean.

1. BMW Z4 M Coupe—The moment I saw photos of the Z4 Coupe Concept from the Frankfurt Auto Show, I thought: they have done it. They’ve made the car that I’ve dreamt about for years. With its silver matte-finish and graphite grey deep-dish rims, no one can deny its iconoclastic impact on the automotive landscape. It is everything a sports car should be. And the best part? Within 6 months, BMW released this very concept, preserving nearly every detail, as a production vehicle in both stock and M Division models. Has any car company ever taken a bona fide concept vehicle to production that fast? I’d honestly like to know. Time will tell how the Coupe will influence car design in years to come, but for now it’s the hottest car on the road. Stand out detail: the new Coupe comes with BMW’s new iPod Seamless Integrated System to boot.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Pirates 2: The Real Villain was a No-show.

The other night, we rented and watched Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest for the very first time. We missed it when it was in the theaters, so we were fairly anxious and excited to catch it on DVD. We actually rented it the day it came out. That evening we tucked the kids in, popped some corn, positioned the couch just right and got ready for what should have been a smashing sequel to an exceptional popcorn flick.
First, lets talk about why the first Pirates was so great. Even though at its very core, this film is utterly Disney—being based on the classic Disneyland ride, it was much more Depp than Disney. And what does that mean? It means that there was a rebel-ness about it, a can’t-believe-he-got-away-with-that vibe to his performance.

When Michael Eisner visited the set of the first Pirates, early on in the shooting schedule, he was disturbed by Depp’s portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow. Eisner vocally opposed things like, oh let’s see, the heavy use of eyeliner and his drunken/effeminate demeanor while shooting. Apparently Eisner thought he put the kibosh on it all—that was until he saw the final cut of the film and Cap’n Jack’s performance was there, as we know it in all its glory. And I guess it really wasn’t that big of a deal to him once the buzz started, not to mention the Oscar nod.

As far as Pirates: Part Deux is concerned, here’s what I think happened. Besides the indecipherable plotline, the complete lack of character development, and the over-the-top action sequences that had nothing to do with the story itself—I think the issue was this. Rather than the film being great despite Disney like the first one, the second one was trying as hard as it could to be great because of Disney.

The real villain was MIA, there was no Eisner to snub and you could see it in Johnny’s eyes. There was an expectation already set and he couldn’t come out of nowhere with a jaw-dropping performance. Depp with no Eisner is basically like Superman with no Lex Luthor, flat, soulless, and without real conflict. Plus the flick was also like 45 minutes too long, but whatever.

PS: For more awesome Eisner folklore check out the book Disney War by James B. Stewart.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Now Turn Your Hymnals to Number 2002.

In 1968, David E. Davis, the Editorial Director of Car and Driver wrote the first US review of the BMW 2002. Here are some very cool excerpts from that groundbreaking article:

“As I sit here, fresh from the elegant embrace of BMW’s new 2002, it occurs to me that something between nine and ten million Americans are going to make a terrible mistake this year. Like dutiful robots they will march out of their identical split-level boxes and buy the wrong kind of car.

“Depress the clutch. Easy. Like there was no spring. Snick. First gear. Remove weight of left foot from clutch. Place weight of right foot on accelerator. First stoplight. I blow off aging Plymouth sedan and 6-cylinder Mustang. Not worthy of my steel. Too easy. Next time. Big old 6-banger Healey and ’65 GTO. GTO can’t believe I’m serious, lets me get away before he opens all the holes and comes smoking past with pain and outrage all over his stricken countenance. Nearly hits the rear-end of a truck in a panicky attempt to reaffirm virility. Austin-Healey is a different matter. Tries for all he’s worth, but British engineering know-how is not up to the job. I don’t even shift fast from third to fourth, just to let him feel my utter contempt.

“Nobody believes it, until I suck their headlights out. But nobody doubts it, once that nearly-silent, unobtrusive little car has disappeared down the road and around the next bend, still accelerating without a sign of brake lights. I’ve learned not to tangle with the kids in their big hot rods with the 500 horsepower engines unless I can get them in a tight place demanding agility, brakes, and the raw courage that is built into the BMW driver’s seat at no extra cost.

“What you like to look for are Triumphs and Porsches and such. Them you can slaughter, no matter how hard they try. And they always try. They really believe all that jazz about their highly-tuned, super sophisticated sports machines, and the first couple of drummings at the hands of the 2002 make them think they’re off on a bad trip or something. But then they learn the awful truth, and they begin to hang back at traffic signals, pretending that they weren’t really racing at all. Ha! Slink home with your tail behind your legs, MG. Hide in the garage when you see a BMW coming. If you have to race with something, pick a sick kid on an old bicycle.

“I’ll be interested to see who those 10,000 owners of the 1968 BMW 2002 actually turn out to be. The twits won’t buy it, because it’s too sensible, too comfortable, too easy to live with. The kids won’t buy it because it doesn’t look like something on its way to a soft moon-landing and it doesn’t have three—billion horsepower. BMW buyers will—I suspect—have to be pretty well-adjusted enthusiasts who want a good car, people with the sense of humor to enjoy its giant-killing performance, and the taste to appreciate its mechanical excellence. They will not be the kind who buy invisible middle-of-the line 4-door sedans because tha
t’s what their friends and neighbors buy. It’s too real.

“The German paper Auto Bild recently called the 2002 the Fluster Bombe, which means ‘Whispering Bomb’. Feel free to test-drive one, but please don’t tell any of those ten million squares who are planning to buy something else. They deserve whatever they get. Now turn your hymnals to number 2002 and we’ll sing the two choruses of The Whispering Bomb.”

PS: In case you’re wondering whatever came of good old David E. Davis, I’ve discovered that he’s just been made the Editor-in-Chief of a new car mag called Winding Road. Here’s a little video to see what he’s up to, and correct me if I’m wrong, but it looks like he’s behind the wheel of an X3. Very interesting.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Am I really not that Bond-ish?

When I asked somebody if they’d seen the new James Bond movie this weekend, they sorta looked at me funny and said, “Uh did you?” When I replied in the affirmative, he was all, “Huh, you don’t seem the type.” What the heck is going on in the world when a guy like me doesn’t seem to be a Bond-type-of-guy. I mean seriously—I love cars, gadgets, and girls. Period.

I did see Casino Royale this weekend, and as a loyal Double Oh, I’m officially saying, it rocked. For those of you who for some mega bizarre reason have never ever seen a Bond-flick, they’re renowned for more than just for cars, gadgets, and girls. They’re also known for evil earth-orbiting villains, outlandish locations, and over-the-top double entendres. So when you’re supposed to be buying that there’s a steel-toothed giant named Jaws or that Denise Richards is a nuclear physicist, at times it ends up getting a little sketchy.

So what was so unique about Casino Royale? It was very much leaning to the realism end of the spectrum. Not like, oh let’s say, Munich-real, but definitely the most realistic Bond since the original Dr. No. The film basically uncaricaturized the franchise. The violence was stylized, but raw. The love scenes were sexy, but not sexual. And the poker scenes were subdued, but captivating.

Bottomline—go see it. Don’t listen to me or anyone else for that matter. Go form your own opinion. Now that I’ve said that, let me give my one and only critique. I needed a slightly longer chase scene. And by chase scene, I mean CAR chase scene. There, I’ve said it. That is all, over and out.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Beebee Guns and Go-carts.

For my 30th birthday a couple of months ago, my awesome wife completed my Wes Anderson collection with the final addition of Rushmore to my DVD library. And I’m here to tell you that it’s neither hipster-like or clich├ęd for a former film student to love the films, or better yet movies, of Wes Anderson.

The previous time I’d seen Rushmore, I was in film school and it was everyone’s “favorite film”. I’ll be honest, it was surrounded by way too much hype, something I’m often guilty of myself (sorry Danimal). I’d heard lines quoted so often, and the actual flick just didn’t do it for me. It just seemed to relish in its own irony. Yeah, yeah, yeah I get it, the kid shoots beebee guns and drives go-carts, very nice. Though, I do remember that the music was great and that I absolutely loved the hotel bee scene.

Then on Christmas Eve, 2001 in NYC we saw The Royal Tenenbaums and something happened to me. Not only did I add a film to my Top Ten (where it soundly remains), I also had a stark realization. I discovered that Wes wasn’t using beebee guns and go-carts to show how hip and ironic he was. This guy actually loves beebee guns and go-carts, he’s completely earnest about these type of things. He probably is a keynote speaker at beebee go-cart conventions.

This is a discussion my esteemed colleague Matt has argued now for a while: earnestness is the new irony. I’ve since heard this term, or something like unto it used to describe other films and music, but Matt used it first (I think).

So, watching Rushmore for the second time, I was reminded how amazingly detail-oriented Wes is. We’re talking METICULOUS. You can tell that he directs every prop, every costume element, every word uttered, and every note played. The result is nothing less than an opus for the earnest.

PS: I’d also like to take a moment and touch on the redheaded stepchild of the Wes Anderson filmography, good old The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. This flick doesn’t get credit it deserves. Let’s once again apply the earnest theory to this one. What we have here is the realization of every 13 year-old boy’s pencil sketches. There’s an ex-warship transformed into a high-tech exploration vehicle. It has a helicopter, a minisub, and forward observatory. The crew wears beanies, Adidas, and carries Glocks. And, of course, there’s the constantly topless script girl. Like I said, every 13 year-olds’ dream.
So if you love Glocks and minisubs, and enter this one with an open mind, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Sofia Style.

So a few months ago, I was routinely checking out the latest and greatest on Apple Trailers and I came across the teaser for Sofia Coppola’s next flick Marie Antoinette. Can I just say, I love teasers. I think the world would be a better place if all previews were teasers. Think about it, great music, great imagery, no spoilers. Anyways, the moment I saw this teaser, I probably watched it a half dozen times right then and there. I also downloaded it for iPod and with a play count that’s now well into the double digits.

I will tell you right now Sofia’s teaser is the best preview I’ve seen in a long time. It is the perfect juxtaposition of lush visuals, awesome ‘80s new wave magic and brilliant editing—basically an emotionally energizing music video.

So on Friday, we went and caught the premiere. We thought for sure we’d be a couple members of a small audience. I mean this is Sofia, it wasn’t going to be your typical romantic comedy (which is really what it is). Well, it turns out that Scarlett hooked up Sofia again. The Prestige was selling out left and right and the overflow caused us to have a packed house.

Now I am not a huge fan of The Dunst, and I normally don’t go out of my way to see her (you know, the vampire teeth and all). But I was compelled. The film was very visual. It was by no means a dialog driven narrative and therefore it was
, well let’s just say… slower. Cinematography, editing, production design, were all top notch making this flick worth a gander. Now on to the music.

The music was incredible. A perfect mix tape of ‘80s almost hits. Even the score was extra cool, chill solo electric guitar. I have only two musical complaints. (Soundtrack spoilers ahead, beware.) To my utter dismay, the film was mysteriously missing the “Age of Consent”, the amazing New Order track from the trailer. It felt like you were totally expecting to see that one old friend at the reunion and they never ever showed up. The second oddity was the addition of The Strokes’ track “What Ever Happened?” Not only was this very much out of place in the musical landscape, it’s not even that amazing of a Strokes song. But all in all, film and the soundtrack were undoubtedly Sofia’s style.

Bottom line: I’d definitely recommend Marie Antoinette for a single viewing, but it won’t be gracing my permanent collection.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Being a Driver: A Commitment to the Car.

There are two kinds of BMW owners out there: there are your average owners and then there are drivers. I’m sure you’ve seen the average owners, the hair, the make-up, the brand new 330Ci. Yeah, that’s not me. First of all I don’t have any hair. Second, I don’t wear make-up. And finally, though I do own Bimmers (yes, that’s exactly how you spell it) I also know how to drive them.

Why a BMW, one might ask? Well, I think there are 3 reasons: heritage, driving experience, and design. When I was growing up I remember driving with my padre on a windy highway along the Hudson River in our cherry red ‘76 2002. The perfect combination of leather, oil, and breeze in the air, totally complemented the rollercoaster-like handling of that groovy old car. A 2002 has huge windows all the way around the cockpit and is completely driver-centric. Even though it’s not registered at the moment, I now have my own 2002, a ’75. I also drive a ’99 M Coupe.
In Bimmerese, M stands for Motorsport, the tuning division of BMW corporate. They make cars go fast. Driving the Coupe on a daily basis has taught me a few things about upholding the brand. First rule: when you see another BMW driver (not owner) you give ‘em a high-beam flash. Bimmers worthy of the high-beam flash include: retro vehicles, like 2002s and Bavarias, other M cars, and unique or well-kept BMWs. Now, if a fairly standard BMW model high-beams you, you may flash back, this is actually a fellow driver disguised as a mere owner.

Second rule: choose who you smoke wisely. When you’re at a stoplight, and the car next to you revs its engine, look before you leap. You’re a BMW driver, you can’t just drop the hammer on anyone. First you have to be able to beat them, second, they need to be worthy competition. So what does that mean? Well, it means comparable cars are best—other Bimmers, other German cars, go for it. (Just watch it with the Porsches, someone might know how to actually handle one of those things.)

It’s some of the Japanese cars that get tricky. Nissan Z? Do it. WRX? Light ‘em up. (Beware of the STI.) Modified, spaceship-like Honda Civic? Not even close to worthy. You see where I’m going with this. Mustangs, Camaros, and even Corvettes are all fair game, but let them make the first move—otherwise ignore.

Third rule: there’s nothing wrong with a friendly game of cat and mouse on the freeway. Cat and mouse is not about winning or beating the other guy. It’s about mutually pushing your cars into slightly more extreme driving conditions. This works best when the other vehicle is a BMW driver and you take turns being the ‘wing man’.

Bottom line is this, you either get it or you don’t. There are a lot of BMW owners out there and only a handful of drivers. So when you come across one, make it worth it.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Godfather of Modern Rock.

So, a friend has been debating who’s the greatest American rock band. He’s been considering just about everybody. I've been thinking about this a lot lately—and after watching The Coldplays on a rerun of their Austin City Limits performance after midnight the other night—I'm gonna have to throw R.E.M. into the mix. Michael Stipe made a special appearance and I think that even though he personally hasn't been musically relevant for nearly a decade, his influence is undeniable. So here’s a brief history of my on and off relationship with R.E.M.

Other than the Huey Lewis tape my aunt gave me for my 12th birthday, my first rock anything was R.E.M. Green, on vinyl, for Christmas that same year. I cannot even tell you how many times I've listened to that album. I started gathering tapes of the old stuff next. Through junior high and high school, I'd say R.E.M. shaped nearly all my tastes: clothes, movies, girls, everything. Automatic was even more impactful than Green. Its acoustic edge led me to tons of new music. I was kind of known as the kid who liked R.E.M.

Then there was Monster. And all the sudden all the kids who used to make fun of me for liking R.E.M. were piling into their moms' minivans to go the concert at Giants Stadium. The clincher happen one day at my locker when I overheard this little, blue-haired freak say to his buddy: "I heard this brand new R.E.M. song today, it's called Superman."

That was it, I was officially betrayed. But after the mish, I went and bought both Monster and Hi-Fi—let's just say they're both currently on my iPod. I’ve purchased every R.E.M. album since then, but rarely listen to them. Their new sound, never really appealed to me. Then, the song Leaving New York came out. It kicked my trash. It was layered, beautiful, and passionate and it inspired my wife and I to catch the SLC concert at the E-Center.

I somehow, without knowing it, managed to get 5th row, center stage tickets. And other than the mega-creepy Michael Stipe raccoon make-up, the concert rocked. Honestly the standout songs were actually The Great Beyond and Imitation of Live—two totally new-sound songs. So that was weird. But easily the best song of the night was their rendition of the original version of Drive—not that crap funk version they played for a few years. I'll be utterly honest here and say (cuz Matt would comment and tell everyone anyway), that it maybe made my eyes water. I totally realized how much of my youth was tied to that anthem.

So here's the deal, when bands and artists like The Coldplays, Radiohead, Nirvana, Grant Lee Phillips, etc. cite R.E.M as a major influence, contributor, and/or friend—you know something's up. Okay so R.E.M. isn’t the greatest American rock band, but Michael Stipe is without a doubt the Godfather of modern rock. And let’s face it, we all know who the greatest American rock band of all time is anyways: why it’s U2, of course.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I’ll See You in Another Life Brotha!

So it’s Wednesday 8:00 pm and we’re recording the Season 3 premiere of LOST as I type. Kids are still kinda up, so we’re gonna watch it later. And let me tell you, I am so stoked. Last night we reviewed some episodes in anticipation for the big night. We watched both the premiere and finale of Season 2. Basically it was Desmond’s storyline.
Why is Desmond my all time favorite character on that show? Seriously. The guy’s been in 3 maybe 4 episodes and he’s drunk in half of those. You barely know anything about him. But it’s what you do know about him that makes him rock. Here’s what we know:

He digs Mama Cass.
He has a killer Scottish accent.
He pulls off long hair.
He drinks egg yolks.
He enjoys not reading good literature. (Just like me.)
He runs around empty stadiums giving advice on life to other stadium runners.
He makes cameo appearances on 24.
And he has an awesome catch phase.

(Pausing and watching the premiere.)
Back. I just watched it. Okay, I’m officially LOST.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

How I Lost my Fear of Redheads (and Twins).

For those of you who don’t know me, there are a few things that scare the bejeebies out of me. They are, in this order, redheads, twins, Shirley Temple, and unicyclists, which on that last one is actually less of a fear of and more of a hatred toward. So up until now, my worst fear would have been twin, redhead Shirley Temples on unicycles—but that changed last night.

So what happened last night? Well, I went to a good old fashion barnyard stomp. Yep, that’s right. The star of the show was a sweet, little redhead from the western plains of La La Land—because in case you didn’t know—Los Angeles is apparently the new Nashville. Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins graced the timber roof and cinder block walls of Kilby Court last night and the show was kickin’.

Jenny and the Watson sisters stepped on to the stage with gold sequin mini gowns; the band was decked in jeans, tie-less tuxedo shirts, and suit jackets. They cranked up the amps for the tracks from their country-style, gospel-infused, indie-undertoned debut album Rabbit Fur Coat. And I will tell you right now, there was pitch-perfect harmonizing, super twang slide guitar, and yes oh yes, synchronized booty shaking.

Instead of a loud, obnoxious redhead, I saw a sweet little super-cutie who wailed on the guitar and sang like an angel. And the twins were actually engaging and fun, not creepy or alien-like. Let’s just say, I was into it. I was into it big time. And until my next run in with redhead twins, I think that maybe, just maybe I might be cured.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Tune in.

I'm a TV guy. I grew up with a healthy dose of Thundercats, Airwolf, Perfect Strangers, and even old reruns of the Dick Van Dyck Show. (Man, I hated it when he wouldn't trip over that ottoman.) Since then, I’ve grown to absolutely love exceptional television. Movies always come off as the upper echelon of Hollywood, while TV gets dubbed "the small screen". But I think it's way harder to craft a compelling series, than to captivate someone for an hour and a half or two.

So the fall TV season is always an exciting time. My wife puts together a list of new shows worth investigating, and we check a bunch out. This season looked very promising, seemed like a great line up especially from NBC and ABC. But I'll be honest, we've turned a bunch off after about 5 minutes of torture and for the few where we actually lasted through the pilot, trust me when I say that we won't be back at the either the same Bat-time or Bat-channel. This has been true so far of all new shows this season, except one. For two weeks now, I've tuned in to NBC on Monday night at 10/9 Central, to the new series: Studio 60.

Yeah, I'm not really a fan of the title either, and that was almost a turn off. But, I've learned my lesson from Arrested. (Quick theory: Arrested Development would still be on the air if it didn't have such a crap title.) Anyways. This combination of West Wing, The Whole Nine Yards, and Jack & Jill alums has proven to be totally intoxicating. For those of you who don't know, Studio 60 is a behind-the-scenes Sorkin drama, set at an SNL-style show, based out of LA, on a fictional network called NBS.

Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford are brought in as a crack writer/director team, with the challenge to salvage the network's flagship show headed up by Amanda Peet. The premise sounds all right, but I'm here to tell you the show rocks. With stinging dialog that's witty and fast, as well as classic West WIng Steadicam action, even after two episodes you already feel like the show is tighter than tight. If you think about it, each episode can showcase a week's worth of prep for that week's show. It's pretty brilliant.

Here's the best part. Perry is funny, but not haha funny. Whitford is annoying, but not irritatingly annoying. And Peet is sexy, but not dirrty sexy. It's like the writers figured out what we loved about these actors, and ditched what made us roll our eyes at them from time to time. Bottom line, it might be too soon to tell, but this combo could just end up being the perfect storm—so tune in.

Monday, September 25, 2006

...The Films of M. Night Shyamalan.

Okay. I know I've started this blog in the post-summer-blockbuster-afterglow, but feel the undeniable need to comment on a feature that—to this day—still sparks a rift in the carefully crafted sub culture at my not-so-humble place of work. Scattered sporadically around the studio, are small pieces of paper with a single phrase printed on them: "I hate the films of M. Night Shyamalan." They've been written on time and time again, "I love the films of..." or "I'm indifferent towards..." Apparently there have also been some songs written, rhyming M. Night's name with a number of unsavory items. So what might you ask has sparked all this heated behavior within an otherwise docile (ha) working environment. It was of course, M's latest summer flick, Lady in the Water.

I'll be the first one to admit it, I am a loyal M. Night fanatic. Few can debate, M. Night is without a doubt one of the tightest writers around. Every word uttered in his films has purpose, nothing is left to chance and we can all pretty much agree, this tactic has paid off time and time again. But what about Lady? Why has that flick turned even some fairly satisfied M. Night customers into song-writing Shyama-haters?

So here's the deal. I saw it, I loved it, and I'm here to tell you why. Monster, Zooropa, Dylan goin' electric... why do something different when you got a good thing goin' on? Was there a twisty payoff? No. Were we really, really required to suspend our disbelief? Yeah. Was it slow, and by slow, I mean way, way, way slow? Yes, yes and yes. So what was it that "did it" for me?

It's all about a commitment to quality storytelling. In this case specifically, bedtime storytelling. So this guy hits it out of the park time after time. Can ya blame him for telling a story, just because he felt it needed to be told? Can we sort of agree that he's earned that right? Think about it this way, M. Night's so committed to storytelling, he decided to tell a story that not even his studio was willing to tell, just in case there was someone, anyone out there who was supposed to hear it. Was half the audience asleep three quarters of the way through the flick? Sure. But let's face it, that's exactly what bedtime stories are supposed to do.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Band Game.

So. In my line of work, I'm communicating with new and different people on a daily basis—clients all over the nation. And when it's time for a little break from all the work talk, you gotta relax with a conversation about something, anything else. Today I started talkin' music with producer at an agency in NYC. We each metioned a few bands that we're into, then I sensed it coming: the Band Game. Obviously, the next question was, c'mon say it with me, "So, have you ever heard of The So-and-So's?"

Why is it that anytime you just wanna have a casual conversation about music, it's gotta turn into the "
You've never heard the Whatchamacallits!?!" Followed by the retort, "Well do you know the Whosiwhatsits?" What is with the Band Game? I mean seriously, what is it about music that requires people to seek out that one band that no one else has discovered, then turn around and rub it in another music lover's face? Sounds crazy right? Can't they just say something like, "I think you'd really like the Whatchamajackets!"

So, as I was comfronted with this classic case of the Band Game today—outta the blue—the perfect response popped into my head. Ready for it? "I don't compare, I share." Ok, maybe it's not that cool, actually sounds pretty dorky. Nevertheless, I've now decided that this response will dictate my entire music conversation strategy. So if you ever cross my path, and wanna throw down on the music front, be prepared for it to not go too far.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


So, on the way home today, it happened. I saw my first 2007 BMW ///M Coupe in person. For those of you who don't know, that car is the re-release of the car I currently roll in. It was black, and no joke, my jaw literally dropped. Then I saw the goober who was driving the thing—yug. And it hit me, do I look like THAT when I'm driving my car—am I a pompous cool guy?
I FEEL cool in my car. I love driving it. But when it all boils down to it, is it me? Do I look like a jerk in the thing? OR, do I maybe, sorta, just seen like the kinda guy who just happens to love sporty German cars and maybe got a smokin' deal and maybe won't show off unless he's really provoked? Maybe?

Please say yes.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

It Begins.

Well, here it is, the first post in my all new, super-duper, mega blog. I've subtitled this blog "music, movies, tv and cars." Cuz let's face it, anyone who knows 'Kyality' knows this is all I really know. I'm the dude who grew up with a dad obsesed with German automobiles who made me watch the Ozzie and Harriet Show, and a mom who gave me Neil Young's Harvest Moon for my 12th birthday and took me to see Transformers: The Movie.

So please keep comin' back for my thoughts on media of all kinds and cars, which really just means BMW's. And finally, I'd like to thank Skylar for calling me Kyality and Matt for reminding me of that so I could name my blog. So remember this is not reality, it's kyality.