Sunday, December 31, 2006

Landmark Theatres Suck

Here is my lame-bot top 9 films of the year. It seeps of such sadness because the "indie/world" theatres in Denver suck. Case in point, Little Miss Sunshine is STILL playing at the Mayan (it has been there since July). The Queen is still at the Chez Artiste (it has been there since October). There is the Starz Film Center, but it's so damn expensive I never get to go. I actually miss Ft. Wayne because of the cinema center. Plus, most of the movies I watch are old, not new, so I will later publish my top 25 new/old films, and it will be much better. So here's my top 9 of what I was able to see.


1. Three Times by Hou Hsiao-Hsien. Yes I am totally cheating right off the bat. This was released in 2005, but it never came to Denver. So I had to wait for it to come out on vids IN 2006 and it was easily the best movie of the year. I don't have sweet amazing abilities like Paco, but I know that as of May he hadn't seen this yet either, so I feel justified in including it. I don't know what to say about it because words cannot come even close to doing it justice. If you're familiar with Hsiao-Hsien, you will know that this is true. There is no way to describe his beautiful and subtle story-telling. You can't do it. Not the general you, but you, the person reading this right now, cannot do it. I defie you.

2. The Cave of the Yellow Dog by Byambasuren Davaa. Ever since I saw Mongolian Ping-Pong I have been in love with Kiddie movies from Mongolia. This is another one. This is also recorded as 2005, but it came to Denver in 2006. That's my story. And this story is simple, touching and beautiful.

3. The Last King of Scotland by Kevin Macdonald. This was totally in my face. The ethical implications and moral questions it raised were about as subtle as the symbolism in Jean Cocteau's Orphee (namely, not subtle at all). But they were still really good questions. In the tradition of Fernando Meirelles, Macdonald forces us to think in a pretty direct way how our indifference to oppression in the two-thirds world is detrimental to the alleviation of said suffering. For this I am grateful.

3. Volver by Pedro Almodovar. I've never been a giant fan of Almodovar or Spanish Cinema in general. Maybe it's their proximity to France (one of the film capitals of the world) or perhaps it is that Bunuel set the bar too high and no one can live up to it now. I don't know. Regardless, this seemed to be El Ano de Pedro with the tour of Viva Pedro (five of his earlier films) as well as the theatrical release of Volver. The reason it made the list is that I think it is a step in the right direction for Almodovar. It lacks his usual reliance on suspense and thrill. There is still the annoying supernatural crap that is always there (kind of like why I hate Orphee), but it worked in this case. It is stripped down with gentle and compassionate dialogue and story movement. Not a masterpiece at all, but it is progress.

4. Little Miss Sunshine by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. I know. I'm sorry. I can't help myself. Many people think this was the most over-rated film of '06. '06's Napolean Dynamite. Here's my theory. There is an emerging New Wave in America that is taking its cues from the French New Wave. There are a number of films over the last 5 years that are minimal and quirky, mostly centered on the nature of family dysfunction. Things largely kicked off with Wes Anderson's Royal Tenenbaums and have progressed with Noah Baumbach's The Squid and The Whale and continues with Little Miss Sunshine. I would give you more examples but I can't remember right now. Anyway, this is a trend I like. Little Miss Sunshine is the weakest of these, but it is among them. Plus Dwayne is totally Josh Fortney and auto-bonus points for using Sufjan Stevens (especially because this could be a stretch, but when they cut to Frank, it's right at the part when Sufjan would be singing "I've made a lot of mistakes" and then cuts away, if it wasn't instrumental. If that was intentional it is totally sweet)

5. The Fountain by Darren Aronofsky. This would have been lower if it would have enjoyed greater commercial success (yes, I'm petty). It also seems a bit coincidental that there are 'three times' that are addressed in the film. Ripoff city. But this time it's not just the same actors, but the same characters as well. Hsiao-Hsien times two. But as usual, Aronofsky is super-odd in both his story-telling and dialogue. It also raises some goodies about mortality and crap.

6. Sweet Land by Ali Selim. Charming as hell. That's all that needs to be said. Not Amelie charming, but charming nonetheless.

7. Running with Scissors by Ryan Murphy. This had to make the list out of respect to Augusten Burroughs. Anytime there is a book-to-film adaptation of a book you love, it can't meet your expectations (c.f. Everything is Illuminated). This was also the case here. There's always great stuff that is left out, and it's never the way you picture it in your brain. Despite all this, Running with Scissors did much to approach my expectations, and because I figured it would be lower than my expectations, it thereby exceeded my expectations. Casting notes: Joseph Cross as Augusten was brilliant. Gwyneth Paltrow as Hope was a bad move in my book. Maybe if they dyed her hair black. Hope has black hair in my brain.

8. Wondrous Oblivion by Paul Morrison. I'm a major sucker for uplifting films with British kids in them (Billy Elliott, Dear Frankie). Plus there is some sweet overcoming racism action. Not exactly great film-making, but it's a heart-warming romp.

9. Pan's Labyrinth by Guillermo del Torro. I didn't get to see this yet. It's only in NY/Chi circulation. But it's an adult fairy tale. This reminds me of Roald Dahl's adult fiction, which is phenomenal. I realize it is a punishable offence to put a movie on here I haven't seen. I have no excuses. So, number nine only because it makes me think of Roald Dahl.

There you have it. Paco's list will rule the hell out of mine. I did a lot of old-timey watching this year.


Saturday, December 30, 2006

Lost? Lost? W(here)TF are Michael and Walt?!
Man, this show sure sucks lately.

My top 6 episodes of Lost, airing during the Fall of 2006.

{{{Where are all the lists, compadres? We should be having three or four per day! Jake, who were your favorite Chicago artists of the year? Dusty, regale us with your random criticisms of 2006: the year in film! Andy, what were your favorite running shoes of the past year? Liz, top questions of 2006 asked by customers at your job? Adam, top five papal quotes of 2006! Brian, do you still breathe air and stuff? Everyone else, post every once in a while so that the masthead to the right doesn't look so ridiculous! Let's go, people! We're losing daylight here!}}}

1. Ep1: A Tale of Two Cities -- This one ranks number one essentially because of the cold open. Yeah, holy freaking crap, it was pretty good. It starts in a suburb, at a book club -- and then Benry Gale shows up and you realize it's where The Others live. Then a freaking plane crashes! Yes, a freaking plane! And suddenly it's the mother of all holy flashbacks: to The Others right before our little Losties got stuck on the Damn Island!

The rest of the episode? Meh. All we get is Jack, Kate and Sawyer, with nary a mention of Locke and Charlie and the awesome hatch explosion that turned the sky all holy-hell-white. And also some Jack flashbacks that were sort of nice, but upon further review, actually really annoying. But damn, D-man, Benry barking out orders to that scary Ethan dude was pretty cool. And Juliet knowing the skinny on Jack’s entire past in the holding cell was an awesome "hell what?!?" kind of moment. Good job, J.J. Good job.

2. Ep3: Further Instructions -- A Locke episode! A John Locke episoooode! Ooooooooo! D-d-d-d-d. Say yeah! So anyway, this one was mostly awesome, because it was about John Locke and had a special appearance by the ghost of Boone (with surfer hair?). Plus, Desmond and Hurley got some wicked-funny "Dude, you're naked" jokes to tell. And we learned that Desmond can see the future! The future, Conan? Yes, my friend, all the way to the Year 2000!

While Locke's flashbacks were only half-good (sort of like a ho-ho stacked up against a twinkie), Locke's vision quest/paste-induced hallucination was pretty righteous. But what ruined this episode for me was that the dumb polar bear was back, and that it captured Eko, but decided not to eat or maul or otherwise do him any harm besides just sort of gnawing on him. Pretty lame. Polar bears should only show up when Walt reads those comics, and since Walt is somewhere out at sea, this episode made me kind of want to kill myself by the end of it. But only sort of, because of the awesome naked jokes and the ghost of Boone and how they made me want to live. So here I am, and here we are, making lists.

3. Ep2: The Glass Ballerina -- This was the first Sun and Jin flashback that totally made me want to barf. Sun's having an affair? Big whoop. Okay, sort of new for her character, but still, lamis to the maximus [additional fake-latin jargon here]. And during the whole Kate-loves-Sawyer scenes I nearly clawed out my eyes, and I would have, had I claws to, you know, claw with. But this episode had two OMG moments where I actually think I said, Oh my God! The first was when Benry revealed to Jack that The Others have access to the outside world. What? What!?! Oh yeah, Jack, we get FOX Sports and everything. Here is a video tape. Why we don’t have DVR is beyond me, but we’re interrogating you in a freaking submarine so stop asking so many Doggamn Questions!

But that wasn't the best part. That came when Sun shot that stupid lady in the stomach while Jin and Sayid were trying to set an ill-conceived trap for The Others. Yes, in the stomach! Take that, Others! Our women may be having affairs in lame flashbacks, but they will still shoot you in the stomach should you goad them into doing so by saying "you won't shoot me" over and over and over again! Seriously, best moment of my life.

4. Ep5: The Cost of Living -- This one time, Neil Gaiman wrote a graphic novel called, Death: The High Cost of Living. It was about Death personified, and how she had to spend one day every 100 years walking the earth as a human to better understand blah-blah-bitty-blah. It was good, and was drawn by Chris Bachalo, who is pretty much nails when it comes to penciled sequential art. Then, a few years later there was this crap-filled episode of Lost with a similar title. And I hated it. *SPOLIER ALERT* Eko dies.

Okay, so this episode had its moments, like when Sayid, Locke and the new kids, Nicki and Paulo (who are dumb and will be dead soon so I'm trying to pretend to like them so that when they do die, I will at least be a little bit sad) see a video feed of Patch-Eye somewhere else on the Damn Island. Who is he? Where did he come from? Is he one of The Others? Answers I'm sure we'll get sometime in Season 7. Until then, Eko gets into a fight with the Black Smoke Monster and dies real bad. Had he not died, this episode (because of Eko's sweet flashbacks) could have jumped up a spot or two. But now, with most of the tail section dead, you have to wonder why they introduced that plotline in the first place. You also have to wonder where the hell Rose and Bernard are, and why they decided to introduce Nicki and Paulo when they've got Rose and Bernard hanging out off-screen. Honestly, you've got to wonder alot of things about this show. Like, why does it have to suck so damn hard these days? BKV rings activate! Clean up this mess now!

5. Ep4: Every Man for Himself -- Does anyone else remember when Sawyer's episodes didn't taste like buffalo-crap-on-a-stick? Like that one time he shot a man who had an affair with his mother that led to his mom's murder and his dad's suicide, and it turned out to be the wrong man? Holy sweetness, that was good television! Now we just get ho-humb flashbacks about his illegitimate child and even more ho-hum island stories with Sawyer having a fake kill-switch planted deep in his heart. Oh yeah, and there are two islands. At this point, who freaking gives a crap? Remember that ginormous foot-statue we saw last season you dumb producers?!? WTF was that? I wouldn't care if this was an island chain with a resort on the other end, just re-learn how to build story tension already. It was kind of sad when the rabbit died, though.

The one moment that brought this episode out of the cellar was when Kate quoted Jack's immortal "Live together, die alone" line after Sawyer told her to escape without him. He might be boring lately, and she might have lost all sense of character, but that's a damn fine catch phrase if you ask me.

6. Ep6: I Do – What sucks worse than a bad Sawyer episode? This. Jack operates on Benry. Locke and Company deal with the death of Eko. Kate and Sawyer have gross "We haven't showered in days" sex. And Eko's Bible stick completely misquotes John 3:5. And that's the mid-season finale.

Anyways, Kate's flashbacks were sort of nice, but they didn't further the story or tell us anything new about her character. However, the last three minutes nearly redeem this episode from total pointlessness when Jack defies Juliet by not killing Benry in surgery, then threatens to anyway unless Kate and Sawyer are let go. Matthew Fox yells real good. Someone get that man a Golden Globe. A Golden Globe for good yelling. Kate, damn it, Run! Truer words were never spoken. Run little lovelies, all the way to February when hopefully this show will be fun to watch again. Because waiting for Locke episodes to come around just don't cut it. That being said, God I love this show. Please get better soon. We miss your face.

[Screencap courtesy of]

I'm feeling state-o-centric

Everyone will not be able to relate to this list because most of New Belgium's specialty brews are not available outside Colorado. That doesn't matter to me.


1. Lafolie - Miller High Life calls itself the Champagne of Beers, but it is filled with grossitude. The real champagne of beers is Lafolie. At 30 bucks per wine-sized bottle, it is actually like Champagne, but beery. Before you think I'm living on the high hog, you better recognize that I only drank this at the brewery this past year for free. Free tastes of 30-dollar beer. That's right. They age it in cedar casks for three years. First prize at the Belgium Beer Festival in it's class. It beat out all the brewers from Belgium at being Belgian. It's like Sour Warheads in beer form.

2. 2 Below - The winter brew this year is a cornucopia of hoppy flavors. What a delicious explosion of things I don't understand.

3. Bier de Mars - This was available late winter '06 and it was a nice little transition from winter to spring. Named for its red hue, it deserves the 3 spot if only for the sweet Mars on the top of the tap at the brewery. Plus it's very tasty and unique.

4. Skinny Dip - The summer ale this year was sort of a mix between Sunshine Wheat and Fat Tire. So it wasn't super-original or as good as the previously mentioned brews on their own. But it was a nice smooth ride down the amber slide of love next to the Southmoor Park pool on hot summer days.

5. Saison - This was the autumn brew that was a lame attempt at an Oktoberfest beer. It tasted like the Pumpkin flavored Blue Moon. Blue Moon is owned and created by Coor's, so it is terrible by default. Thus, this was easily the worst NB brew of '06. Eat that criticism, Peter Bouckaert.

I guess this doesn't leave much room for criticism, because it is totally right, and because most of you have probably never put these tasty treats to your lips. So I guess, post counter-lists of great seasonal micro-brews for your area...if you're into that. It's your call. I don't care. Damn.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Season 3, mostly; some Season 2

Since I only heard about 17 new albums this year, and can't remember what books I read, here is a list of funny things I heard on Curb Your Enthusiasm either this year or last year or possibly two years ago, too. Ummmm, and the really bad words have had their prefixes changed.

  1. Wanda: Why'd you fire the black man?
    Larry: I fired the black man... because... he's the guy who set up the whole system here and it doesn't work! And he's here like... every week, I'm givin' him checks, we've got five remotes, I can't turn it on....but I know, you know, *black* man can *never* do anything *wrong*, at least to get fired from a job! Black people *always* do everything right!
    Wanda: [Walks over to TV, pushes button, fixes it] You gotta turn the damn satellite on for the TV to work! See the little green light? Just gotta turn it on! Or you can fire the black man. Whatever works for you.

  2. Larry: What are you doing there?
    Man: A little plumbing.
    Larry: A little plumbing! Got to plumb! Plumb the depths! The depths of hell!

  3. Larry: Hear the birds? Sometimes I like to pretend that I'm deaf and I try to imagine what it's like not to be able to hear them. It's not that bad.

  4. Susie Green: You fat truck! And you bald piece of shampoo! Where's the milking head?
    [After Larry and Jeff steal a doll's head from Jeff's kid to give it to the daughter of some executive at ABC]

  5. Richard Lewis: Ya mucked it up! You don't know how to use a doggamn cell phone!
    Larry: It was a shampoo cell phone!
    Richard Lewis: A mucking praying mantis could use that doggamn phone!
Okay, that last one was pathetic. But I'm trying to keep it within the realm of things you wouldn't feel bad saying in church. And who doesn't like to say "doggammit!" in church?!?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Top 29 Non-Hip-Hop New Albums of 2006 (Which I Know Of, Or Had Time To Give A Proper Listen)

Here are my favorite non-rap albums released this year from the past year. Since I already made the Top 15 Hip-Hop Albums list, i excluded Hip-Hop from this list. A lot of those albums would go on this list, but then I would have to boot off some of these and that is too confusing and stupid. Anyway, I would highly recommend all of these Jammzzz, so if you don't know them check them out. If you do know them and don't like them, you are hugely wrong but its okay too.

Aside from The Knife, which for me was clearly the best album of the year, all of the albums in the Top 15 are pretty interchangable. The same goes for the 16-29 which are all great together, but not as good as the Top 15. Since there are 29 albums I won't comment on all of them just on a few at random.

1. The Knife - Silent Shout (Rabid) - This for me was by far the best album of the year. I love this album and every moment on this album. I love every song individually and I love them together as a whole. This album is a huge masterpiece of electronic/undancible dance music, but the thing that really excites me is that it doesn't feel like The Knife has reached any kind of pinnacle at all. This doesn't seem like the end or the final record before a break up. It's not some Kid A plateaux, which bands reach and then slowly drift out of existence. It's just a solid cohesion of The Knife's ideas and aesthetic coming together and ripping all the skin off your face. It's darn good. If you like electronic music even in the least you need to enjoy this. And even if you don't you should give it a try.

2. Girl Talk - Night Ripper (Illegal Art) - This was definetly the most fun album of the year. Girl Talk (despite being around a while) isn't the first person to do these kinda mash-ups, they have been around for years. But Girl Talk has made them fun as hell and really, easily listenable. I'm all for obscure, impossible-to-listen-to, messed up, damaged music, but most people aren't and so Mash-ups have mostly stayed in the shadows (that and they are usually filled to the teeth with illegally used samples). But Girl Talk has (sort of) brought it out more into the open. I don't know if next year or a few years later this will be in some kind of pantheon of awe-inspiring records, but I could care less if it has "staying power." It is a huge party in bag and its fun as all get out. It also accomplished two feats that make it remarkable: First, it actually makes me not just like, but love Sexy club rap, which I most definetly kinda hate. But this makes me love it! And there are some reallly seriously moving and transcendant moments of music during which the words being said are hilarious, disgusting, and innappropriate. Second, it makes me like guitars + rapping, another thing I most definetly do not ever like, ever.

3. Danielson - Ships (Sounds Familyre) - Danielson make their best album ever and finally get some recognition. People still can't get past his voice, which is too bad, because that voice is filled with so much Joy. Seeing them live is probably and important event for your life.

4. Junior Boys - So This is Goodbye (Domino)

5. Nathan Fake - Drowning in a Sea of Love (Border Community)

6. DAT Politics - Wow Twist (Chicks on Speed)
- When this first came out it destroyed my mind as all of thier albums do. It's still amazing. Like the Danielson of childish, messed up, electronic music. This one actually gets a little bit poppy, at least in comparison to thier music in the past. As a reference point, I used one of thier older songs in that Davis hall Bikes and Spears thing I did.

7. Xiu Xiu - The Airforce (5 Rue Christine) - For a long time I stayed away from Xiu Xiu, only kinda listening to them and then writing them off. But then this year (before the release of this album) I suddenly gave them a real listening to. And man!!! Seriously. They are incredible. Yeah, there is the creepy pedophilish lyrics thing, and the is it real or all a melodramatic act thing. But forget all that (or don't). Jamie Stewart is a serious pop genius. And Xiu Xiu continue to make some of the best anti-pop pop music around. The Airforce is no exception, and actually a bit of an improvement over thier mildly disappointing (for me) last album.

8. Subtle - Wishingbone (Lex) - This isn't a proper album, I guess it is more of an extended remix album but it is really good. Subtle came out with another album this year that was hailed as them finally getting a coherent voice and making actual songs, with better production. But the lo-fi incoherence of thier earlier releases are what I love about them. And this album is thier best in that catergory.

9. Bonnie "Prince" Billy - The Letting Go (Domino/Drag City) - Initially I didn't dig this. Not that I hated it or something, I mean it's Will Oldham. But I wasn't getting into it. But recently I have been loving it. Another solid release.

10. Tim Hecker - Harmony in Ultraviolent (Kranky) - The song, "Chimeras" rules.

11. Peter Bjorn and John - Writer's Block (Wichita)

12. Uusitalo - Tulenkantaja (Huume) - Finland Rulz! I have discovered the amazing music of Finland this year! I hope to make a list of my Fav. Finnish bands soon. Nice minimal house music. Good for night time.

13. Liars - The Other Side of Mt. Heart Attack (Mute) - I wasn't buying the hype until a few weeks ago. Then it suddenly struck me and I love this album. It may or may not be some kind of concept/story album but I hope it is and the last track is beautiful and nice.

14. Howe Gelb - 'Sno Angel Like You (Thrill Jockey)

15. Mountains - Sewn (Apetaartje)

16. Barbara Morgenstern - The Grass is Always Greener (Monika Enterprise)

17. Keith Fullerton Whitman - Lisbon (Kranky) - Not as good as Playthroughs but awesome and seemingly overlooked.

18. Matmos - The Rose has Teeth in the Mouth of the Beast (Matador) - Maybe I should move this one higher. It's good.

19. Hot Chip - The Warning (Astralwerks/DFA)

20. Matthew Herbert - Scale (Studio !K7) - One of the best producers ever. Sometimes his style keeps me from loving him completely, but I can't deny his skillz. This album is very nice though.

21. Joanna Newsom - Ys (Drag City)
- Come on just like it. It's good. Don't be dumb

22. Chihei Hatakeyama - Minima Moralia (Kranky)

23. Vapnet - Jag vet hur man väntar (Hybris)

24. Booka Shade - Movements (Get Physical Music)

25. The Whitest Boy Alive - Dreams (Smalltown Supersound)
- Erlend Oye rules!!! What a guy, what a voice, what a life.

26. Destroyer - Destroyer's Rubies (Merge)

27. Cat Power - The Greatest (Matador)
- Lived in Bars is the best song she has ever written.

28. Ellen Allien & Apparat - Orchestra of Bubbles (BPitch Control)

29. Band of Horses - Everything All the Time (Sub Pop) - Actually I only really listened to the songs, The Funeral, and St. Augustine. But that's all you need.

That's a rap (but not hip-hop). There are some more albums from 2006 that I haven't had enough time to listen to yet, that might be on there. Also there are of course some that I don't have or won't discover until later. Alright, post your counter-list or your rebuttal or your insults or questions!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Top 15 Hip-Hop Albums of 2006

(This was originally posted last week at catfish and also at MP's Xanga. Here it is again for list week. Also I uploaded all these pics but for some reason only the clipse one works. But I'm too lazy to upload them all again. so sorry. If you really need to see them while you read you can read this at MP's Xanga)

This is the Best Hip-Hop of 2006 as decided by resident scholars, Paco Michelson and Matt Plett. If you don't like these choices, then you are must realize you are either a) a whack mc, b) a weak-ass cracker, or c) frontin'

Now Behold!

1. J Dilla - Donuts (Stones Throw)/The Shining (BBE)

(MP) My favorite producer EVER passed away this year. Jay Dee aka J Dilla put out two albums in 2006, deserving the #1 spot. I "grew up" listening to his music, actually. His songs made me love hip hop. Seems like he made music for ALL my favorite artists. Probably not a coincidence. Anyway, "Donuts" is the main reason he is #1 on my list. 31 amazing tracks of soul and funk samples, drum beats and the best, richest Dilla album ever. It makes you feel damn good the whole way through.
P.S. The album totally seems like his goodbye to the world. Strange actually that he died less than a week after it was release. In "Stop" the Dionne Warwick sample repeatedly moans,
"You're gonna want me're gonna need me."
That's for damn sure.

(PM) We were just becoming friends and dude croaks off. I didn't like Hip-Hop in high school like Plett, so J Dilla has only been an enormous shadow over my life for a few years. But this year was his year for real. Donuts was the best album of the year and maybe the best album of his life. Perfect in length, perfect in everything. An instant classic as the oxymoron goes. This album is a beautiful mess of beats and noises and samples and all kinds of knowledge. This is one of best beats albums in Hip-hop history. Sucks that he died in his prime, but I guess his prime has lasted for more than 10 years. But I wonder where he was headed, and what kind of sweet new beat frontiers he would explore, spilling mad science all over the place. But what a way to go out. Goodbye Dilla, the producer's producer. We are gonna miss you bad. And How you gonna put this at number 38? What kind whack business is that? 38? WTF?

2. Ghostface Killah - Fishscale (Def Jam)/More Fish (Def Jam)

(MP) Everyone loves Ghost, right? I mean the eagle arm cuff, the robe, the goofyness, the Ironman references, the voice. Fishscale is awesome! This album has songs from MF Doom, J Dilla, and Pete Rock. No other rapper can still set a scene and tell a story like Ghost. So good, I actually paid for this album.

(PM) While I would never be so insane as to pay for this album like Matt, I would pay big money for that eagle arm cuff. If you guys haven't seen that in action, you better get with it. Ghostface is the only member of Wu-tang that never fell off. He has never taken a misstep, unless you consider being amazing a misstep. If he has one fault, it would be his crew (now, not Wu Tang) are a little weak, but that just serves to make him seem more sweet. And damn if More Fish isn't just as good as Fishscale, Eat that Sufjan!

3. CunninLynguists - A Piece of Strange (The LA Underground, QN5 Music)

(MP) This was forgotten by too many people because it came out in January. This Kentucky group has always had some of the best beats in the whole world. Production and lyrics are amazing. Plus Cee-Lo was on this album too. Everybody loves Cee-Lo too, right?

(PM) At first, we couldn't remember if this really came out this year. If I was a music writer I would say that this was the most slept on album this year. But CunninLynguists have always been ignored. Their newest album is as hot as ever, although I personally think not as clever or good as Will Rap for Food. There is really no reason why these guys aren't bigger (is it their name?). The Words, tha beats, and tha flows, are all tight as hell's bells every album. This is one is no different. And Cee-Lo!

4. Oh No - Exodus into Unheard Rhythms (Stones Throw)

(MP) Yeah, he's MadLib's little brother. Yeah, this album solely works from samples of Galt MacDermot (HAIR the musical) who I can honestly say I don't know much about. Some of the music is familiar, but man! Who cares. This is amazing! If it hadn't just come out, it might be higher (see Nas as well). Anyone who loves hip-hop has to pay attention to Stones Throw right now.

(PM) FIrst of all, Matt is correct. Stones Throw is "the" label right now. Heads everywhere better recognize. If you like amazing rare and lost reissues of rap, funk, and soul, or if you like amazing new hip-hop artists. Stones Throw invites you to their house for dinner. And this new deal from Oh No is incredible! I listened to it straight through twice when i got it. Man it's good. Trust me. Most fun album all year, except Dilla's. Get on it!

5. J. Rawls - Presents The Liquid Crystal Project (Hum Drums)

(MP) J. Rawls is from Columbus and I totally want to meet him. This instrumental album is soft and beautiful and jazzy and as smooth as 2% in the summer. I literally got this because of the album cover and it turned out to be the biggest surprise of the year for me. Dude is jazzy jazzy soul beats king and amazing. He has three tribute songs on the tracklist. One to "T.R.O.Y." by Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth, one to Bobby Hutcherson's Montara, one to know...cause it's friggin' Dilla.

(PM) Matt told me to get this one, and I thought he had just made up the name as a joke. Then I thought maybe it was another Madlib alias. But its neither and J. Rawls is awesome. This album gets you right from the beginning. You know it is incredible right away, and it just gets better and better. I knew this would be up there on albums of the year during the first time I listened to the first track. Booyah!!! It's totally a jazzy dons donis! Put this fire into your brains!

6. Rhymefest - Blue Collar (Sony BMG)

(MP) The funniest rapper of the year and also has Kanye for the beats. Not a bad combo. "Brand New" was the best rap single of the year. I think. Here's some lines from Blue Collar:
"I listen to that weak shit - all of it - I can't follow it
[Barf] Excuse me - I'm "whack"tose intolerant."
and this one for the ladies,
"I'm the man to see, livin the fantasy
Pocket full of Stones like Sly and the Family
Lift your shirt girl, show me the mammaries
Next week I'll still have good memories."
......come on that's funny.

(PM) This came out while i was in Afghanistan, so I missed the boat a bit, but I am now happily on board. He has a lot of funny raps, and sometimes I like him better than Kanye. Maybe that is because he doesn't ink deals with Ford like Kanye. This album is great, and I think he will make even greater stuff in the future.

7. Aceyalone (w/RJD2) - Magnificent City (Decon)

(MP) It's got RJ on it so Paco and I love it. Seriously I had a tough time not putting this higher. Needless to say, dope beats dope rhymes.

(PM) Seriously, Aceyalone is sick. Even if some people think he is stuck in 1992, he's the damn best rapper stuck in '92 there is. The flow man, the flow! Shit is hot. Aceyalone is to Freestyle Fellowship what Ghostface is to Wu-tang. Plus RJD2 is always a sweet ass fellow.

8. Strange Fruit Project - The Healing (Om Records)

(MP) On the positive rap front, Strange Fruit Project have been around just maybe not heard too much. Spiritual, soulful, clever, this album was my #1 for a large part of the summer.

(PM) Matt is pleased that this year I seem to be inching my way more and more towards the r&b abyss. But I have always been into Jazzy (ha) rap, and while this is more souly, I can dig it.These a guys are darn soulful. They some really tight, solid, uplifting dudes. Really, its really nice. really really nice, and pleasant. This one is gonna get overlooked and slide under the carpet, but you should get it back and dust it off on put it on the table. The listening table

9. Clipse - Hell Hath No Fury (Star Trak, Zomba)

(MP) Most overrated album of the year but still really really good. Started out at like 15 on the list but got better with every listen. "Mr. Me Too" and "Trill" are sssoooooo gooood.
If you want the feel of the radio joints with better everything, here's where to start. Pharell can't ruin everything, as long as he's not performing live. Ugh. Pitchfork sucks.

(PM) It does get better with each listen. But I am not convinced yet, and its definitely overrated. But Clipse's logo is awesome and looks kinda like the K records logo. Also I like that hat and that stove. And are those maps on the wall there? Anyway, the Neptunes are good when they don't open their mouths. and The Re-up gang is the best-worst name for a crew ever. Its a good deal. Listen to it.

10. The Coup - Pick a Bigger Weapon (Epitaph)

(MP) This is Paco's choice mostly, but The Coup are always awesome and cool, I mean look at Boots' do. The single with Black Thought was awesome. I felt like I heard more about them and the album than I heard the album, though.

(PM) Everyone's favorite commie rappers are back! I love The Coup. Boots Riley is a funny name. When Matt says, he heard more about them, he was probably talking about from me. Plus how many female producers are there out there? Pam the Funkstress is a good name too and she brings the funk. Political rap without being dry, self important, or just pissed off all the time. Bush and Saddam sex jokes. Rapping with a fake british accent but not making a track that sucks like that NaS one. Being smart and funny at the same time, but still representing. Coming correct. When most rappers would just say suck it, biatch, Boots says,
"But economically i would propose that you go eat a dick as employment"
and make it not break the rhyme or sound awkward. Other good lines:
"If I can't change the world, I ain't leavin'
Baby,that's the same reason you should call me this evening"
and also:
"All that fight for freedom shit; we know that shit is phoney
Free to work at Shoney's 'bout one hour for six boneys"
Haha, Shoneys!

11. The Roots - Game Theory (Def Jam)

(MP) Paco doesn't agree but I thought this album was pretty dang tight. Their first release on the big Def, sounded great at times and soft at times. But it's the frickin' Roots, man. The Roots Crew.

(PM) Matt and I made this deal where I could chose the Coup's new album which he didn't really love that much, I he could chose this album which I didn't really love much. So yeah. The Roots are sweet though. No doubt about it. They are consistantly solid. This was decent.

12. Madlib (The Beat Konducta) - Vol. 1-2: Movie Scenes (Stones Throw)

(MP) Yeah, another instrumental. Madlib is totally an iconic genius in hip hop at this point so whatever he touches turns to ice. (Rap Joke) Anyway these beats are things not of this earth. Once again the Man comes through without the need for Quas, thank God. "Pyramids" makes me want to be a musician more than any other song this year. And he probably made it in 5 minutes. I wish.

(PM) For those of you that don't know Madlib, he has about 10,000 aliases, and churns out billions of releases all the time. and the thing is that they almost always rule. Some rule more than others (Madvillian, Jaylib, Yesterday's New Quintet), but he has to have some kind of disease or disorder that makes him continously crank out the hits. It's not unusual for a sweet new artist to make their debut only for it to be found out later that it was just Madlib doing his thing in disguise. Another sweet disc of jams. Nuff said. Man, I need some weed.

13. Nas - Hip Hop is Dead (Def Jam)

(MP) Comes out tomorrow, I guess so it's hard to place in the list for longevity but in one week has moved up two spots so who knows what we'll say in 2007. I looked forward to this album almost as much as OutKast this year. And I feel like he came through. The most talked about album all year without even being out yet. The album title says it all. Everyone had a view of what NaS was saying with the album title before they even heard it. Did not disappoint, except for the song where he uses that dumb mafia voice over a really good beat. At least he and Jigga hugged it out, bitch.

(PM) I have to admit that I wasn't really looking forward to this, and I only downloaded it for the sake of the list. But It's definitely a solid album. Like Matt said, short term its getting better and better, by next year who knows. NaS is not an eccentric genius, he's a real normal solid genius. Sometimes that makes me get bored with him. But NaS is one of the best story tellers in the game, and this is one of his best albums in years.

14. OutKast - Idlewild (LaFace)

(MP) OutKast. This is OutKast. I mean the best hip hop duo EVER is doing a movie? I gotta see that, man. I mean Andre was nails in that Four Brothers movie and Big Boi was in that ATL movie wasn't he? It should be good. Plus Speakerboxxx was awesome even if Andre don't rap no mo. Well, months after the album and movie have been released I still haven't seen it. Which pisses me off. The album is obviously a bit of a letdown (it's not #1). But it's got good songs and is very creative and probably is better if you've seen the movie. I will, and I will love it I'm absolutely sure. Big Boi is still crazy ass rediculous good on his rhymes and Andre does some decent stuff but I still long for the days of "Elevators" and "B.O.B." but even this their worst album yet is better than most people's best ever.

(PM) Dammit. It's OutKast. This album sucks. Bad. I mean what the hell? There is no way around it. It sucks bad and I want to die. But its OutKast! Even a bad OutKast album is a good album for somebody else. And its a soundtrack. Soundtracks always suck a little bit outside of the movie. But man. OutKast is the best group ever. How can the two best rappers in the history of hip-hop, make the 14th best album of the year? That's like Jesus dying before he gets to the cross. While carrying it he gets a little too tired and just gives up the ghost. Passes out for our sins. ATLiens, Aquemini, Stankonia, Love Below/Speakerboxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx were all incredible groundbreaking albums. But this? Let's face it, they aren't two dope boys riding around in a caddy anymore. They are rich and they are making movies and all kinds of things that will probably turn out to be whack. I just hope they don't turn into Busta Rhymes. But whatever, these songs are okay, or yeah...fine, decent, even when they are half-assing it they still sound better than most people, like, I don't know, The Game. Yeah, at least it's better than that.

15. Murs & 9th Wonder - Murray's Revenge (Record Collection)

(PM) Both Murs and 9th wonder are talented nice young gentlemen. Murs frequently represents with dope rhymes and 9th wonder is a friendly beat magician. Might be both of their best releases. But the good part is that they both have a way to go. Neither of them feel like they have reached their pinnacle or run out of ideas. Murs was never really at home at Def Jux and seems to be hooking up with similar minded dudes. Good things may be in store for us. But for now they left us with a darn fine album.

(MP) Kept having to push this down, was at 11 originally. Murs continues to put out good stuff and this time with good ol' 9th wonder on the boards. 9th's best album yet? I think so. Anyway, Murs lines are a mix of smart and smartass. "We all chase money cause we scared to chase dreams." "For if a soul is avenged through the deeds of a friend/Then success has always been the best form of revenge". I really liked this album and it was too short I wanted more, that's probably why it dropped on the list. I'll leave you with lyrics from "Yesterday & Tomorrow," I can take some advice here too.
"...Shake that attitude and do what you can
Set a couple goals follow through with your plans
Time waits for no man and tomorrows not promised
So if shes still alive shoot a call to your momma
Cause the fighting and the drama, its just not worth it
Nobodys perfect, ain't none of us worthless
We all got a place, and we all got a purpose
Now I'm not taking y'all to sunday service
But ya clap your hands as you stand up and work it
Like your grandmama used to do that fan down at worship
Spread it, pop it, and wave it in my face
Put your hands around your waist, let me ride to the bass like..."
Honorable Mention:
"Peanut Butter Wolf Presents Chrome Children", Jay-Z "Kingdom Come", Collective Efforts "Medicine", Jedi Mind Tricks "Servants in Heaven Kings In Hell" , Pigeon John "Pigeon John and The Summertime Pool Party", Cut Chemist "The Audience Is Listening", Lupe Fiasco "Food & Liquor", and Cadence Weapon "Breaking Kayfabe"

Top 1 List Weeks of 2006!!!

YESS!!! Merry Day-After-Christmas to MMW and friends! Anyway, We have indeed begun list week here at Midwest Mindset. Now it doesn't look like that because no one has posted yet, but rest assured it is. I am finishing up my lists here at my list HQ/Laboratory. Lists are hard work but we all know they must be made. If now how will the year know how to end? How can we begin the next year if the old year hasn't ended? I mean get real, list haters. Get real. Sheeeeeesh.

So, anyway. I will be back with the first of my lists soon. I advise you to do the same. If you aren't a member feel free to tack your lists on at the end of this post or any subsequent posts. Get your list rear in gear! Let's see that crap! Oh man! Oh crap! OH MAN! YEAH! YEAH MAN!!!!! YEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Celebrate! Dedicate! Light Those Lights! A Miracle Happened There!

Happy Chanukah all my friends and families and framiendlies! Today marks the 7th day of the Hanukkah season, unless you're reading this after sunset, at which we will have entered the very last day of the Festival of Lights and/or Dedication. Take a minute to watch these awesome videos I found surfing the net for Hanukkah resources to use at the Boys & Girls Club. Somewhere in this great nation a pair of Jewish kids who were apparently big fans of Arrested Development have created a series of short films staring Itche Kadoozy, a rabbi puppet. I would suggest starting with the Hanukkah themed mini-series found here, but there are plenty of other videos about the Torah, too. Enjoy.

Baruch atah Adonai, yo!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

If you have some time I could use some help

So I'm currently researching the Arian Controversy, and the development of "Nicene orthodoxy." All the while I'm wondering, what place does the creeed hold for Christians, and their communities? And, how do people understand the creed? So if you want to read it over and answer a few questions for me that would be great. Some of this may end up in a paper of mine, you just never know. The following version of the Nicene-Constantinople Creed is the one used in the Mass, and the words in parentheses were not in the original creed.

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unsee. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, (God from God), Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died, and was buried. On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father (and the Son). With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

So my questions are:
  • Does this creed play a role (form a basis for belief) in your local church and/or your larger faith tradition? If so, what?
  • Does it play a role (form a basis for belief) in your personal faith life? If so what?
  • In describing the Son, what does the word "begotten" mean?
  • In describing the Son, what does the word "one in Being" mean?
  • In a few sentences please describe where the Son comes from?
  • When Christ suffered during his crucifixion under Pontius Pilate did the Father suffer as well? Please explain?
  • Please add any additional thoughts.

I don't mean to prostitute the blog for my own benefit, but thanks for your help.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Billy Graham and the Talking Cow

I ran across this story about a bit of a disagreement that Billy Graham is having with his son Franklin (you know the next Billy Graham). It's really interesting and extremely disturbing.

The family dispute is centered on where Billy and his Ruth should be buried after they pass away. Ruth Graham has told her children that she wants to be buried in a spot she picked out in the mountains where they lived as a family when the kids were growing up. Franklin has other plans though...
The building is not a library, she says, but a large barn and silo -- a reminder of Billy Graham's early childhood on a dairy farm near Charlotte. Once it's completed in the spring, visitors will pass through a 40-foot-high glass entry cut in the shape of a cross and be greeted by a mechanical talking cow. They will follow a path of straw through rooms full of exhibits. At the end of the tour, they will be pointed toward a stone walk, also in the shape of a cross, that leads to a garden where the bodies of Billy and Ruth Graham could lie.

Throughout the tour, there will be several opportunities for people to put their names on a mailing list.

"The whole purpose of this evangelistic experience is fund-raising,"

I realize that this sounds ridiculous and yet it's very true.

This is causing MAJOR problems within the Graham family as one might expect. Ned, Franklin's younger brother, stands with his mom and has even gotten a notarized statement from his mom to assure that she's not buried next to the talking cow. Billy's not sure what he thinks and Franklin's in some office somewhere telling people what the cow might be saying.

It really is a must read and it will be VERY interesting to see what happens and what it does to the Graham legacy.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

there's just something about those Colorado basements...

in a weird twist in what is now an old story, another megachurch pastor in Colorado came out over the weekend. if this is the church I think it is, I attended here, briefly, and hated on it a little bit over palm sunday last year. things that are interesting about this story are the parallels with haggard; apparently, Paul Barnes started a church out of his basement, too. also interesting: last week CO approved a measure to define marriage as between a man and a woman. it's gotta be getting weird out there.

denver & the west
Pastor resigns over homosexuality
By Eric Gorski
Denver Post Staff Writer
Article Last Updated:12/11/2006 02:49:00 PM MST

Barnes' Sermon

To hear what the Rev. Paul Barnes said during the fall of fellow pastor Ted Haggard, about the "masks" most of us wear, click here.

In a tearful videotaped message Sunday to his congregation, the senior pastor of a thriving evangelical megachurch in south metro Denver confessed to sexual relations with other men and announced he had voluntarily resigned his pulpit.

A month ago, the Rev. Paul Barnes of Grace Chapel in Doug las County preached to his 2,100-member congregation about integrity and grace in the aftermath of the Ted Haggard drugs-and-gay-sex scandal.

Now, the 54-year-old Barnes joins Haggard as a fallen evangelical minister who preached that homosexuality was a sin but grappled with a hidden life.

"I have struggled with homosexuality since I was a 5-year-old boy," Barnes said in the 32- minute video, which church leaders permitted The Denver Post to view. "... I can't tell you the number of nights I have cried myself to sleep, begging God to take this away."

His wife, Char, cradled his hand. Barnes declined an interview request through the church.

Unlike Haggard, who had the ear of the White House, Barnes is not a household name. He is a self-described introvert who avoids politics, preferring to talk about a Gen-X service at the nondenominational church he started 28 years ago in his basement, church officials said.

Barnes and Grace Chapel stayed out of the debate over Amendment 43, a measure approved by Colorado voters last month defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

"I can't think of a single sermon where he ever had a political agenda," said Dave Palmer, an associate pastor.

Palmer said the church got an anonymous call last week from a person concerned for the welfare of Barnes and the church. The caller had overheard a conversation in which someone mentioned "blowing the whistle" on evangelical preachers engaged in homosexuality, including Barnes, Palmer said.

Palmer met with Barnes, who confessed. At an emergency meeting Thursday, a board of elders accepted Barnes' resignation after he admitted "sexual infidelity," violating the church's code of conduct. Church leaders also must affirm annually that they are "living the moral and ethical teachings of Scripture in my public and private life."

Asked for details of Barnes' transgressions, Palmer called them "infrequent events in his life" that to his knowledge did not take place in recent months.

Sitting cross-legged in jeans and an open-collar shirt, Barnes spoke in his video about evolving feelings growing up in a firm moral family: from confused little boy to adolescent racked with self-loathing and guilt.

In their only talk about sex, Barnes said his father took him on a drive and talked about what he would do if a "fag" approached him.

Barnes thought, "'Is that how you'd feel about me?' It was like a knife in my heart, and it made me feel even more closed."

When Barnes experienced a Christian conversion at 17, it gave him a glimmer of hope. But his homosexual feelings never went away, he said. He said he cannot accept that a person is "born that way," so he looks to childhood influences.

Barnes said he asked God many times why he was called to ministry, to start Grace Chapel, carrying a "horrible burden."

The soft-spoken Barnes is an unlikely big-church pastor.

After graduating from Dallas Theological Seminary, Barnes and his wife moved to Denver and began a Bible study. His church met in a school and a mortuary, bought property at Colorado Boulevard and Arapahoe Road, and now occupies a campus off County Line Road that used to be a car dealership.

Barnes described struggling with what he believes is the biblical teaching that homosexuality is an abomination. Over the years, he grew to accept that "this is my thorn in the flesh."

Barnes expressed hope for a future where one can "be who you are" and be accepted and loved in the Christian community and also spoke about "separating some of the teachings from Scripture" from Jesus Christ.

Palmer said he wasn't sure what Barnes meant, but Barnes told him that he believes God views homosexuality as a sin.

Barnes said he has been in counseling three times and never found anyone he could talk to.

His wife said on the video that she didn't know about her husband's struggles until he confided in her last week. The couple has two daughters in their 20s.

Char Barnes said she feels "like I'm living someone else's life" but was grateful her husband revealed himself. The couple said they hope to stay in Denver. Near the tape's end, Paul Barnes says, "This is what it is, it's right, and it's time."

Church elder Russ Pilcher said the reaction at services Sunday was largely concern for the couple. "I thought, 'Where did I fall short in making myself so unapproachable that he couldn't come to me?"' Pilcher said.

Paul and Char Barnes will get counseling, but unlike Haggard, they will not go into seclusion or report to a board of reconcilers, Palmer said. He said it will be more personal and that church members will play a role.

Associate pastor John Zivojinovic is the interim senior pastor, and choosing a successor is still months away, Pilcher said.

Given the Haggard story, Pal mer was asked whether Barnes' fall from grace would expose the evangelical community to further charges of hypocrisy.

"The criticism is valid if you look at perfection being the mark, because the next person who stands at our pulpit is going to be guilty of not being perfect as well," he said. "Does that mean we have to change what we say about the word of God? We can't do that."

Staff writer Eric Gorski can be reached at 303-954-1698 or

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Get your motor running...head out on the highway!

High way to the list-zone, list-zone, take a ride into the list-zone!!!!!

That's right, kenny loggins is ready, and you should be too!

It's the end of the year! So that means its time to make insane and copious amounts of meaningless, slighty irresponsible, immoral or otherwise exciting lists! List list lists! It's my favorite time. Earlier in my life i didn't like lists as much and that was a stupid pathetic time in my gray existance. So don't be a dillweed! Get in on the action while the action is hot!

So not yet. This is just a warning. But beginning at roughly the last week of december lets post our lists! you can post on your own or you can comment on a posted list with a new list. If you are not a member here of course also please post on the comments your own lists. these can be whatever you want! top 2s, top 5s, top 10s, top 50s, top 10,000s! They can be bottoms too. Of course i recommend the usual topics, new music, new old music, new books or new old books, new movies or new old movies, best news stories, or best posts on mmw. but feel free to post whatever else you want too, best food of 2006, worst chairs in my house of 2006, best way to track dogs gone bad of 2006 and etc... Just remember its the list zone. so if you haven't started thinking about these yet, then get on it! if you have then just keep salivating and preparing for th elast week in december! I know that there could be something awesome in that week too, but we gotta do it sometime and next year is too late, we can't talk about old stuff in the new year! time marches on! forever!

okay! do it! oh yeah! (also you don't have to post all your lists at once,and you can revise in face of arguement or embarresment or whatever all week. Lets just call that week list week, oh and also christmas i guess.)

Official Midwest Mindset List Week 2006 Dec. 24ish-30ish coming soon!!!

take a ride into the list zone!!!!!!