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[Stats] #3

In lieu of actually creating new, original content, I’m just going to keep bringing you all the absurd and disparate search terms because jesus there are some hilarious ones. Without further ado, here are the best search terms of the last quarter:

– channing tatum masturbate

– charizard sticky note

– احدث صور زفاف chang tatum

– bad writing on the internet (no idea how this directed to us)

– nudist colony male

– father son relationship

– joseph kony 2012 obama “when saddam”

– plausible horror movies

– channing tatum nose profile

– the vows movie

– kony 2012 oh hell yeah

– channing tatum fart

– kony is going on where

– coma internet telephone

– under shaving seen

If any of the people who found us using one of these search terms are still reading for whatever reason, thanks for everything!

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[Stats] #2

It’s that time again, folks. In an effort to remain transparent here at STFUI, we’re once again bringing you the delightful and often weird stats and search terms that have been bringing an average of two or three people per day(!)  to our humble corner of the Internet in the last eight months or so.

– stfu about Kony

– kony is going on where

– empire records shaves hair

– how to donate directly to kony

– what was “change your profile pic to stop child abuse”

– channing tatum saying the momment of impact the vow

– “female soldier” headshave

– robin tunney nipple

– punishment headshave

– www.ladies headshaving stories

As you can probably figure out, Mr. Covell’s article about the emotional headshave cliche in movies kept us afloat in the ‘creepy Internet weirdos’ demographic (thanks, guys!) for the months of inactivity here at STFUI. We’re also piggybacking off the Kony2012 movement, like the clasy individuals we are, and also Channing Tatum gets some play in the search terms. Sorry we couldn’t tell you how to donate money to Kony, single person who was asking that, maybe don’t Google that one again. ANYWAY, EXCITING STUFF, HUH? Keep tuning in to STFUI, and join us for the next STATS article, when we’ll be able to talk about our 2000th visitor. Maybe! Just think – if you Google something crazy or offputting and find your way here, it could be YOU!

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[Unsolicited Opinion] KONY 2012 is Going Nowhere Fast

Guys, I know we usually address lighter fare here at STFUI, like what if Channing Tatum was played by Zach Galifianakis (And if you’re clicking over from that article, thanks. We love you.). I just want to make sure we’re all on the same page about this whole KONY 2012 thing that seems to have exploded during the last few days. Now, when you tell me that Jospeh Kony is an absolutely atrocious human being, I agree with you. Really, he’s just about as disgusting as they come, but if we can get serious here for a moment, talking on the Internet about getting him arrested isn’t really going to do anything. It’s great that we’ve discovered another little cause célèbre, but if all we’re doing is talking about it, it’s going nowhere pretty goddamned fast. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we’re all informing ourselves on world events and talking about some of the awful, awful shit we’d otherwise ignore, but that’s really all that’s happening. We’re acknowledging the problem, but no one’s really addressing it.

Celebrities I think are great are tweeting about it, so it must be a big deal!

HEY, THIS JOSEPH KONY GUY IS PRETTY BAD. LET’S STOP HIM. KONY 2012!

Yeah, he is pretty bad. And he’s been pretty bad for over 25 years, too. You know what we’re going to change by talking about him on the Internet? There’s gonna be a spike in Google searches for “KONY 2012” and “Kony” for about, oh, maybe two weeks. That’s about the level of change Internet discourse affects.

HEY MAN, I ‘LIKED’ THAT FACEBOOK VIDEO THOSE GUYS AT INVISIBLE CHILDREN MADE!

Good for you. I ‘liked’ NBC’s Community and look what that got us. Lots of people liking a Facebook post doesn’t really do a whole lot.

AT LEAST PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT IT!

Yeah, that’s a good first step. Now what did we decide we were going to do about it?

WE’RE GONNA KEEP TALKING ABOUT IT!

And then what?

WE’RE GONNA KEEP TALKING ABOUT IT!

Okay. So the plan is what? We talk about it, and talk about it and maybe donate a few dollars to Invisible Children? Great. And then what?

WHAT DO YOU MEAN “AND THEN WHAT?”? I DID MY PART! I TALKED ABOUT IT!

Oh, fantastic. So, you devoted a few minutes of your life on Facebook or Twitter to saying “Gee whiz, this Kony guy is pretty bad. We should do something about him! Pass it on!” And so did a billion other people. You know what nobody’s going to do? Get out there and take real steps toward fucking changing anything. Yeah, we’re a little more aware of the problem for now, but we live in the developed world, where the motto is “Out of sight, out of mind!”99% of us, myself included, never knew this guy existed until today, and he’s been active for over 25 years. Sitting around and mulling it over on Facebook isn’t doing anything to actually stop the atrocities. KONY 2012, so far, is almost exactly like 2010’s “Change your profile pic to stop child abuse” campaign. Which, if you’ll stop and recall, did somewhere in the neighbourhood of fuck and all to stop child abuse. Changing your display picture to Charizard didn’t do a damn thing to stop kids from getting hurt, just like “liking” a video on Facebook isn’t going to bring down the Lord’s Resistance Army and Joseph Kony. Yeah, we’re more aware, but awareness only goes so far without action.

BUT HEY, I DON’T SEE YOU GOING OUT AND CHANGING THE WORLD.

Well, no, but I’m not dressing up my inaction as action and pretending I did something significant. Even this blog is just more noise in the ether.

WELL, WHAT’S YOUR SOLUTION?!

Short of hacking the universe and running a “Remove all dickbags” program, I don’t really have one. I’m a blogger (at best), not someone in a position to do anything but tilt at windmills and characterize the Internet as an obnoxious jerk who yells at everyone. Donating directly to organizations in a position to affect change is probably a good place to start. An even better starting point would be contacting your political representatives and telling them why this is an important issue. We’re talking about it, sure, but unless we’re willing to act towards making the change we want, nothing’s going to happen

WHATEVER MAN, THIS IS A MAJOR THING, AND WE’LL NEVER LET IT GO.

Sure. Just like we were never going to let go of Occupy, or Arab Spring, or SOPA or literally any of the other causes that swept the Internet and were promptly forgotten about after we all went “Well, shit. #thisisbad”. Income inequality and fiscal accountability, among Occupy’s other goals, still remain unaddressed; people in the Middle East are still protesting their oppressive governments; and SOPA is almost certainly being resubmitted for approval with a few words changed. All of which are cases where we looked at something happening, thought “This is significant” and then erased it from our minds to go get drunk or watch TV or whatever it is the kids do these days. This is what the Internet does. We take up a cause, champion the shit out of it for about ten minutes, and then forget it ever happened.

And that’s really shitty. I’d love for nothing more than Joseph Kony and all of his lieutenants to be captured and tried for their crimes, but the world’s been pretty apathetic about that whole idea for about 25 years. Two weeks of talking about it on the Internet isn’t going to change anything. Joseph Kony has been wanted internationally since 2005, and the fact that he’s not being actively hunted down by a USA-led coalition of the world’s governments isn’t going to change because Facebook was in an uproar for a few days. The truth is, Joseph Kony doesn’t have anything we want, so he’s not exactly a high priority for a government already involved in something like three wars. If that seems like a shitty thing to say, it kind of is. But that’s the state of Western Civilization. If someone’s actions don’t affect us directly, or they don’t have anything we want, governments feel required to give approximately zero shits about that person’s actions. Even if those actions involve sending thousands of children to fight wars. Out of sight, out of mind, right? The world is full of shitty people and situations, and Facebooking and tweeting about it isn’t going to get corporate-minded governments off their cash bloated asses to do a damn about it. If they even could.

You remember when Saddam was captured, how Iraq became just a haven of free speech, peace and democracy? What’s that, there was a power vacuum and an ongoing conflict that outlasted his execution by five years? Oh, yeah. If there’s one thing we’ve got to remember, it takes a hell of a lot more than arresting one man to make a difference. Even if Joseph Kony were arrested, and tried, and executed, that wouldn’t exactly end the conflict in Uganda, never mind all of Africa. Or the rest of the world. But that’s putting the cart before the horse. That’s assuming by some miracle we don’t stop talking about Joseph Kony next week, and tweeting actually accomplishes something for once. Which it probably won’t. Like I said, it has to go beyond that. Now that we’re all aware of the problem, what are we actually going to do to address it? We can affect change, but it takes more than a tweet or a comment. But hey, by all means, keep tweeting that KONY 2012 hashtag and spreading the video around, if you want. For once, I wouldn’t actually mind being wrong.  And hey, at least people are educating themselves, right? It’s a good start, for sure, but direct aid is infinitely more important than advocacy, so if you really believe in the cause, let’s stop talking about it, and start doing something.

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[Fifteen Minutes with…] George R.R. Martin

In the first of a not at all ongoing series of interviews here at the rarely updated STFUI, Matt Bickerton and special guest writer Brent Jones talk with celebrated author George R.R. Martin. No really. They did. And it was totally awesome.

Brent Jones: First things first: When will Eddard Stark be coming back to life in your novels?

George R.R. Martin: [Laughs] When Hell freezes over.

BJ: Fair enough. Your fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire has become one of, if not the definitive modern fantasy series. When you first started writing it, did you ever anticipate that it would have the immense cultural impact that it has?

GRRM:Oh, no. Of course not. But, then again, you don’t anticipate. You write the books, and you hope that people will enjoy them, and that they will be popular, but it’s foolish to try and guess how well any book will do. I learned that very early in my career with books my publisher told me would be a big bestseller, and then you know, it doesn’t sell well at all. It’s a crapshoot out there in the world of publishing, and I had high hopes, I thought it was a good book, a good series, and I was hopeful it would find an audience. But really, all you can try to do is write the best book that you can write.

Matt Bickerton: How does it feel to have such a large and dedicated fanbase for the series?

GRRM: Well, it certainly beats having no fanbase. [Laughs] It’s very pleasant. It is a little strange at times, especially this last year, because I’ve been a writer since 1971, and I achieved a certain measure of success fairly early in my life. I won a Hugo award in 1975, I’d been nominated for Hugos and Nebulas before that, I worked in Hollywood before that, to make a living. So, I had an audience, I had a fair amount of success, but now, the success and the size of the fanbase has reached levels I never could have dreamed of. You know, I’ll go to a signing in, say, Slovenia, like I did a few months ago and have 2000 people show up. And that’s great in one sense, but it’s a little scary in another sense. I’m getting recognized which I never did before. Writers, even very famous and successful writers are generally anonymous. I mean, we know what actors look like, we know what politicians look like, but we don’t necessarily know what writers look like, so a writer can usually live his life and go to a book signing or something and meet his readers there. But I think mainly because of the HBO show and my face being on some of the promos, people are recognizing me in the grocery store, and in the airport and approaching me in my daily life for autographs. And that takes a little getting used to, but I’m certainly not complaining. It’s great to have so many readers.

MB: Do you ever feel like, when you’re writing the novels, that you have to please the audience?

GRRM: You can’t think about the audience when you’re writing. Well, you can, but I don’t. Otherwise, it’s almost like you’ve got a censor sitting over your shoulder saying “Oh no, they won’t like that. That won’t be very popular.” You know, you tell your story and you try to be true to the demands from the story itself, and you hope that people will enjoy it, you hope that the audience will respond. But ultimately, as I’ve said before, art is not a democracy. The audience doesn’t get to vote on it, and I think that’s the best way to produce good art, because if you are too conscious of how the audience will respond to anything, it forces you to make the safe choices. You’ll say “Oh, this will be popular. I’ll do that.” and that leads to, I think, mediocre work.

MB: Right. It’s kind of like our joke question about Eddard. I’m sure if everybody in the fanbase had their way, he’d be right there in the story again.

GRRM: Well, I’m sure if I’d put it up for a vote, he wouldn’t have died in the first place. If there had been a poll at the end of one of the HBO episodes, “Should we kill Ned?” I’ll bet the vote would have been overwhelmingly against it.

BJ: Branching off a bit towards the origins of the series, were there any major inspirations for the story in A Song of Ice and Fire? Or, to put it another way, what or who had an influence on your work?

GRRM: Well, certainly. One of the things I wanted to do when I set out writing this thing, was to try to combine a lot of great storytelling traditions, like the wonder and magic that good fantasy has, with the grittiness and realism of historical fiction. So in that sense, I was influenced on one hand by fantasy writers like J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, Jack Vance (a particular favourite of mine), and on the other hand by writers of historical fiction, like Thomas B. Costain or Maurice Druand, the French writer, Nigel Tranter, the Scottish writer, Sharon Kay Penman. All of these writers, in some sense were influences on my work.

MB: Several of the more recent novels in the series have taken longer to write than earlier volumes, as I’m sure many fans have taken great pains to point out to you. Were there any major issues you encountered while writing the books?

GRRM: Of course, there were a lot of difficulties – it’s why the book took so long! You know, I’m dealing with a lot of balls in the air that I’m juggling, and sometimes it’s very difficult to juggle all of them. There was, particularly something I called the “Meereenese Knot” – a series of characters meeting in the city of Meereen – which was very difficult to figure out the correct chronology for, both in terms of story time, and in terms of dramatic pacing. So I wrestled with that, and wrote it and rewrote it several times. Generally speaking, I’m a slow writer anyway, and so the size and scale of this project has slowed me down even more.

MB: The series was originally planned to be a trilogy, wasn’t it?

GRRM: Yeah, way back when, in the early nineties, that was what I had envisioned, a trilogy, but as Tolkien once said about the Lord of the Rings, “The tale grew in the telling.” I can definitely attest to the truth of that.

MB: So, continuing on that tangent, how do you manage the writing process for each novel? How much time would you say is set aside for planning versus writing, for example?

GRRM: Well, I don’t outline. I know the general shape of the book, I know the major events of each book, and certainly I know the ultimate end of the story and the fate of all of the major characters. But I don’t outline on a chapter by chapter basis. In a more cursory way, I sit down and sort of sketch out how many chapters in this book each character will have, and the main event of each chapter. Then I start writing, and of course, before I’m very long into writing, that little rough outline thing that I’ve done at the beginning has got to be thrown into the trash basket. Because the characters take over, and they move the story in unexpected directions. Or maybe something that I thought would happen in one chapter actually requires three to do it the way I want to do it. Chapters get combined, chapters get separated, so it’s almost a simultaneous procedure. It’s not like I outline and then I write. Both of them occur simultaneously.

BJ: How does it feel to see these novels that you’ve worked on for so long be adapted for telvision?

GRRM: Well, it feels good. [Laughs] Especially since it’s a high quality television show that’s very true to the books, and that’s very gratifying. I mean, it’s always nice to sell an option or your work to television or film. For one thing, they pay you a lot of money. For another thing, if they actually produce the TV show or movie, you get a lot of new readers who come to it because of that. And that’s great, because you want people reading your work. The downside of it is, in some cases, what’s going to come out the other end may bear only a passing resemblance to your story, and it may not be very good. I’ve had these experiences before with other works in the past – both good and bad experiences. So, with A Song of Ice and Fire, I was very careful about who I was in business with, and I think I found some great partners with HBO, on the one hand. Their reputation for quality is unsurpassed, and with the writers and showrunners David Benioff and D.B, Weiss who are both amazing guys and amazing writers and producers, who have done a really incredible job of bringing my story to the screen.

BJ: And as you mentioned, I was one of the fans who saw the show on HBO and decided to start reading the books, and about the only major difference I noticed was the amount of time devoted to the wolves was significantly lower in the TV series.

GRRM: Well, as a writer, I can make the wolves do whatever I want. I just write “And then Summer got up on his hind legs and did a little tapdance.” [Laughs] When they actually film it, it’s a little more tricky to get the dogs up on his hind legs to dance. So we ran into a few challenges there. Hopefully they’ll have worked some of that out for the second season.

BJ: And since we know that you’ve written a few episodes of the series, as well, do you think you could elaborate on the differences between writing a scene for television and writing a scene for a novel?

GRRM: The main difference is keeping practicality in mind, like I just referred to with the wolves. There are limitations to budget and shooting schedule. And you know, I’ve worked in Hollywood myself, so I know that, and as a producer on the show, I have a good idea about our budget myself, and the kind of things we can afford. And you have to keep that in mind. I can write a scene in the novel and have twelve characters sitting around a conference table having a heated debate. Then i can give all twelve of them names and all twelve of them will have a line or two as they kind of hash the issue that’s being discussed. Well, when you film that scene, do you really want to cast twelve actors? I mean, that’s what you need. If they have a line, you have to cast an actor and certain guild minimums come into effect, and that has an impact on the budget. Or maybe, do you want to do the scene so that only three people have anything to say, and the other nine people are sitting there, and they can be cast as extras and not paid as much. But then, wait a minute, do you really need the nine people who aren’t going to say anything? Maybe you should just write the scene with the three people who have something to say. So, you know, you have to approach these things with that in mind, with what you can film [on a budget].

MB: So it’s kind of like in the one episode, where Tyrion fought in the battle between the Mountain clans and the Northmen, and it’s kind of a huge battle and a defining moment for Tyrion in the books, but in the show, he just gets knocked unconscious, and wakes up after the battle. Probably one of those areas where a big expensive battle sequence might have been impractical to film.

GRRM: Yes, battles are particularly troublesome. And when I was originally working in television, they were really troublesome, because you had to cast them with actual people. These days we have a lot of CGI tricks, so we can make huge armies as Peter Jackson did with Lord of the Rings without casting 10,000 people. Which is good, but even CGI costs money. So, it’s not something to be used casually. Yes you could do it for every episode, if you had unlimited funds, but while the HBO budgets are very substantial compared to most television shows, they’re not comparable to the budgets of feature films. And even feature films don’t have unlimited budgets. You always have to be cognizant of what you can afford to put on the screen.

MB: Once you’ve completed work on A Song of Ice and Fire, do you think you’ll ever return to the world of Westeros?

GRRM: Well, I’m already writing the Dunk and Egg series. So I will continue to write those – I actually have to do another one this year, and then there will be more beyond that. I don’t know, but that’s years down the pipe, so I’m not going to make any promises. I’ll cross each bridge as I come to it.

BJ: So we might be holding off on seeing a novelization of Robert’s Rebellion or Aegon’s Conquest?

GRRM: Well, I’m dramatizing Robert’s Rebellion in hindsight right now, so I can’t really see myself writing a story about it. Other periods of Westerosi history are another question.

MB: What does the future hold for George R.R. Martin?

GRRM: It holds two more books in A Song of Ice and Fire, most immediately. I have to get those done, and hopefully it won’t take me as long as these last two did, but again, I make no promises. One page at a time.

MB: Well, I think I speak for most people when I say I’d rather have a really excellent quality final copy of a book that took you five years to write than something rushed out in six months to meet demand.

GRRM: Well, that’s my feeling about it, too.

George R.R. Martin is the author of A Song of Ice and Fire, and a producer on HBO’s Game of Thrones, its television adaptation.

Matt and Brent are acting students at Niagara College.

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[Fake But Plausible] – Sequel to ‘Taken’

After the financial success of the 2008 action film Taken, starring an aging Liam Neeson as a badass retired military operative, the studio has announced its plans to move forward with a sequel. Neeson is reported to be reprising his role as Brian Mills, the former government agent whose search for his kidnapped daughter nearly destroyed Paris in the first film.

Image from Amazon

Liam Neeson being a badass reportedly "not a major focus" in the sequel to Taken.

The studio is reporting, however, that despite the original film’s main draw of Liam Neeson “going totally bat-shit-fuck crazy on a bunch of jerks and just straight throat punching them all to death”, critical response decried the supposed lack of a plot beyond the simple premise of a father doing everything in his power to rescue his daughter. In a response to this, the producers of the sequel (reportedly titled 2ken), have stated that although their original vision of a movie where “a totally rad dude like Liam Neeson just kicks the everloving fuck out of continental Europe for 90 awesome goddamned minutes” was well realized in the original film, the major critical concerns will be addressed in the long awaited sequel.

They went on to say “We realize that maybe awesome action and Liam Neeson aren’t enough for some people, and maybe those people are dumb stupid morons, but this is Hollywood, so we’re going to try and broaden the appeal of the sequel.” Essentially, instead of featuring 90 minutes of intense, non-stop action, the sequel will reportedly focus on the fallout from Mills’ actions in Paris. “We’re aiming for about three hours” a studio rep explained, going on to say “Yeah, I mean, there’s some complex political stuff we’re going to need to cover, like we’re going to need all that time for the international criminal trial and stuff. We really want to try and accurately convey the consequences of going on a totally badass rampage across France.”

The film is reported to focus entirely on Neeson’s character’s criminal trial, and takes place almost entirely in the courtroom, and A general plot outline released to the media describes the film as a “Total reimagining of the franchise” going on to describe the plot as “intricate, detailed, and boring as fuck”.

Asked to comment on these new developments, fans of the original film remarked “Whatever.  It still sounds better than Unknown.”

Look for “2ken” to hit theaters in late 2013.

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[Best of 2011… So Far] – Music

Josh: So I was thinking the other day, you know what I love best about music?

Bick: What’s that?

Josh: The way it sounds. So melodic. Almost rhythmic.

Bick: Some might call it musical.

Josh: Nope.

Bick: Oh, whatever. I guess that’s fair. Your thoughts on music, I mean. And wow, what a great segue into our discussion of the best music of 2011 so far. Also, please note I spelled favorite with the boorish, American spelling, just to appease our no doubt enormous audience. Of Americans.

Josh: There is no place for fat jokes in a Best Of article, B. But there is a place for picks of our favorite music of the year. That’s an even better segue, I think.

Matt: Douche. Let’s just go with both. Always best to just jam as many segues in there as possible, is what I always say when I’m talking about segues. So I guess I’ll go first, because importance. Anyway, I guess my favorite musical release this year was Donald Glover’s Childish Gambino EP. Which is kind of a huge deal for me, because mostly I can’t stand the raps and the hip hops.

I guess I mostly just hear the bad commercial radio stuff or whatever, but for the most part, hip hop just doesn’t appeal to me. I can get behind a fresh beat or whatever it is the kids are saying, but if the lyrical content doesn’t appeal to me, then it’s basically all just noise. Which is I think what I love most about Donald Glover when he’s rapping. His lyrics are endlessly clever (‘E.E. Cummings on her face, now that’s poetry in motion’, I am running this bitch, you are just a dog walker,’ Couldn’t see me as Spider-Man, but now I’m spittin’ Venom’), the beats are exceedingly fresh, and the stuff he talks about in his songs actually seems as though it could apply to me. Like, there’s a couple of songs dealing with just being an insecure dude, and that totally hits home for me, being a giant insecure bitch.

And I mean, if you don’t feel like being a huge emotional twat about music all the time, either, he still puts together some really fun songs, like Freaks and Geeks or (to name a song from his last full album, Culdesac) Put it in my Video. Anyway, that’s how I feel about the album, and I know you’ve listened to it as well, so let’s hear your thoughts.

Josh: I did listen to it, on repeat, dozens, maybe even hundreds, of times.

Matt: Hell yeah.

Josh: I think two things made me fall in love with the EP right away: wordplay and normalcy. I mean, yeah, “E. E. Cummings on her face, now that’s poetry in motion” might be the best rap lyric I’ve ever heard. But it’s not just the clever shit; he also doesn’t rap about cappin’ n-words and makin’ cheddar, both of which I’m still unsure of their meaning.

Matt: Exactly. There’s stuff in these songs that everyone can relate to. And I mean, maybe that’s not what everyone’s looking for with rap or even music in general, but I feel like that goes a long way towards making an inherently divisive genre like hip hop more palatable to average schlubs like me.

Josh: Right, but it’s also got great club beats, and I have constant daydreams of bomb ass hipster pixies spilling their PBR and fogging up their horn-rimmed glasses while I freak them to this EP.

Matt: Right…? Like, right now, Lights Turned on just came on, and holy shit, the beats on this song are incredible. I just want to get up and dance, and that’s something I literally never want to do, ever. Like, between that song and Freaks and Geeks, I pretty much spend half my time listening to this album with the intention of dancing or something. Really, my only complaint is that it’s an EP. I want it to be a full release so bad that I would pay honest to god money to buy it. It was released for free, and it makes me want to pay for it, and I think that’s about the best praise I could ever give something. It makes me want to mail my wallet to someone so they’ll make more of it right now. And with that, and this not at all contrived segue, we’ll move on to your pick for the best music of the year so far.

Josh: Alright, slightly different mood with this one, but the same artist race. That was probably a coincidence.

Matt: In all likelihood, this is probably true. I doubt there was a secret meeting somewhere in the world to determine which race the winners of the Best of 2011 So Far (Music) category on a blog with a readership in the single digits. And if there were, it would probably just make me sad.

Josh: Don’t be sad. Affirmative action or not, Raphael Saadiq’s “Stone Rollin’” is my runaway pick for this year.

Matt: I am a terrible person, and I confess that I got the album last week, and am just now finally listening to it.

Josh: Yet another reason why you’re terrible. And the reason it’s my favorite album of the year is simple: Motown is king. It’s been the music genre I rely on most to remind me that the world doesn’t have to be complicated, it can be and often is happy, and when it’s not, just fucking croon, boy.

Matt: I’m only two songs in, but it’s already a really lively, and entertaining album. Which is something I’ve always found about the, honestly, small amount of Motown music I’ve actually heard. there’s an energy which I don’t think you see as often in other genres, and it really makes me want to crank the volume, even though it’s two in the morning.

Josh: Right? And beyond that, it’s the theme of this album that spoke to me even more than his last. He sings about love, longing, and crippling heartache–all of which have been the themes of my 2011.

Matt: But also, I’m getting a kind of Chuck Berry vibe from this third song, Radio. Something about it makes me think of Johnny B. Goode.

Josh: Dude, you’re killing me here. You keep responding before I can get these awesome segues into use.

Matt: Damn. Sorry. I’ll try to stop doing that.

Josh: Well it’s funny that you say ‘stop’ —

Matt: Nice.

Josh: Shut up. Anyway, it’s funny that you say ‘stop,’ because that word begins the proper lyrics in The Answer, by far the best song I’ve heard in 2011. Stop. It’s a word that’s shown up in some of the best Motown around. Stop! In the Name of Love comes to mind. And it’s immensely effective, and kind of typifies Motown for me. Everything is stop or go, love or longing, sex or everything that leads to sex. It’s a genre that speaks to my sentimental heart, stripping away all emotional complexity and driving home the idea of the hopeless romantic where love is the thing that keeps us all alive, and when that ends, it all ends. I read a quote a few months ago when I was wallowing (though I want to clarify, since that line makes it seem like that was something I did in the past; I’m still in the wallowing phase, you see), and since this is a blog, fuck citation: “I don’t know why they call it heartbreak. It feels like every other part of my body is broken too.” Simple, but powerful shit. And it’s the kind of simple, powerful shit that shows up in songs like Heart Attack, Just Don’t, and Over You.

Matt: Yeah man, I get that same hopeless romantic sentimentalism, and it’s fucking killer. Save some wallowing for me, is what I’m trying to say. And having just listened to Over You, I totally hear that same sensation of heartbreak you’re describing. I mean, like I said, I don’t listen to a ton of Motown, but I can definitely see this album staying in my permanent rotation.

Josh: It’s so broken hearted and speaks so much to the way I feel that for months I wanted to put some of his lines as my status updates on Facebook, which is the world’s public diary now, but they might be too honest and capture heartache too well. “You’re giving me a heart attack. Girl I want you back. I just can’t take it no more,” is fucking universal, but also sappy. You put that in a status update and I might as well write, “Slitting my wrists LOL,” but you put that on top of an R&B rhythm, and it just makes my heart melt. And I swear Saadiq got this line from Just Don’t by peering in my apartment window: “I drown myself in whiskey, grass, and beer. Love, I was wishing you were here.” Fuuuuuuuuck. Who hasn’t felt like that?

Matt: Exactly. And what better praise can you give a song than “I wanted to put the lyrics in my Facebook status, even though that is the tackiest shit ever”? I mean, damn.

Josh: Yeah, but I couldn’t do it.

Matt: Well that’s probably for the –

Josh: So I put them on Twitter. Should we end it here?

Matt: I think so. We’ve probably devoted enough of tonight’s time to the entertainment of all of our fan.

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[Best of 2011…So Far] – Movies

In a brief ongoing series, our heroic and intrepid editors discuss what they think has been the best media released in 2011… so far. Tonight’s topic is: Movies. We now return you to your regularly scheduled blogging, already in progress:

Bick: Okay, so should we start this bad boy on movies?

Josh: That works

Bick: Alrighty then. So, pretty much the best movie I’ve seen (at the theatre) in 2011 is Super 8. It probably has more to do with my not having seen very much this year, but I also think it was just really well made. Abrams clearly intended to capitalize on nostalgia for the 70’s and 80’s genre of Spielbergian sci-fi, and I think in that respect, Super 8 is a fantastic success. Although, even I have to admit the movie kind of falls apart in the last act, although, I think that may actually make me like it more if that makes any sense. Cause, up until the point where they actually really got into the crazy alien bit (spoilers, by the way) the movie had to rely on the cast and their attempts at making a movie.I mean, I could just watch an entire film about those kids trying to make their zombie flick, and fuck all the extraneous sci-fi bullshit. So, I mean, I guess based on nostalgic criteria alone, Super 8 is the best movie I’ve seen this year, and as much as the comics dork in me wanted to like Thor or Green Lantern or X-Men more, I was just won over by nostalgia for a generation of films I wasn’t even alive to experience. Oh, and the fact that they found child actors who were not only competent, but actually pretty good is just incredibly impressive to me.

Josh: I was going to be like, “Gee, are you writing a novel?” and then you did.

Bick: Sorry I wanted to be comprehensive.

Josh: No, that’s good. I haven’t even thought of my argument for Submarine.

Bick: Haha, fair enough. I’ll wait. This is all going in, by the way.

Josh: Okay, let me think…

There is a very thin line that a filmmaker has to tread when dealing with quirk, you know? Someone like Wes Anderson has made a career by wrangling oddball characters, and he generally does a pretty good job. But it almost seems like writer/director Richard Ayoade–a successful comedian and writer in England–took a page from Anderson’s playbook and then said, “Fuck it, I can do better.”

The film is a bit stylized by never flashy, and I love that shit. The story is divided into chapters, like with Inglorious Basterds, and in the entire first part we get bombarded with Oliver Tate’s eccentricities: he dabbles in French music and New Wave, he totes a briefcase to school instead of a backpack, he narrates his life and sees himself as the star of his own eccentric movie. He’s a hyperaware character who knows his status in the hierarchy of school but is overrun with a bloated idealism, and he identifies one of his classmates, Jordana, a girl who suffers from ezcema and too-cool-for-school-itis, as the perfect match for him. He flirts with her in his own weird way and eventually they pair up. This first chapter has the makings of a typical teenager quirky comedy–like Rushmore if Max focused on his own insecurities rather than on extracurricular activities. But as the other chapters unfold, a new, wholly unexpected level of darkness and emotion emerge.

Ayoade doesn’t tell the story through these odd characters. No, he establishes these characters as odd and then drops them into a world where Oliver tackles genuine uncertainty, confusion, disappointment, frustration, and terror. He seems self-assured and somewhat comfortable (or at least accepting) of his quirks, but as the film develops, Ayoade turns that assuredness into self-sabotage. Oliver’s quirks betray him, and it strains his relationships. As a person who also feels like he lives much of his life in his own head, I connected with the strange levity paired with the crushing sadness and frustration that pour out of Oliver. He tries his hardest to be himself and also do the right thing, but sometimes the former butts heads against the latter.

Bick: Now who’s writing a novel? That actually made me want to see the movie even more. Before I was mostly like “Richard Ayoade is funny! And British! And funny!” but the Wes Anderson comparisons, and the discussion of the characters actually intrigues me more.

Josh: It’s insanely good.

Bick: And it just makes me sadder that nowhere near my house will ever play it. We’ll have 6 screens for Transformers, though.

Josh: It’s like when I saw In Bruges and immediately thought, “Why the fuck aren’t Americans doing this?”

Bick: Man, In Bruges was good. Have you seen Super 8 yet?

Josh: Not yet. My parents are flying in tomorrow and hopefully they’ll want to see that. Which also means this 20 or so pounds I’ve lost in the past three weeks will be back and then some.

Bick: Hahaha. Parents, am I right?

Josh: Seriously. We Covells love to eat.

Next time on [Best of 2011… So Far]: Matt and Josh discuss their personal bests for Music in 2011.  Tune in and see how that turns out!

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