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Friday, September 23, 2011

Autumn ups and downs

We celebrate the first day of Autumn today.  For me, it has always been my favorite season.  Leaves falling, more crispness in the air, pumpkin picking, football weekends, Thanksgiving, to name a few of my favorite traditions.

The fall/winter movies are always a bit better too.  Within the past few weeks several have come out that I would love to see.  "Drive", "Ides of March", and "Moneyball" lead the early group of Oscar releases the studios will be pushing down our throats.  Ryan Gosling, George Clooney and Brad Pitt huh?  I think I can get the Mrs to join me.

I am a bit curious to see how "Moneyball" translates to the big screen.  Can you make a movie about baseball statistics and get away with it?  I look at the brilliant "The Social Network" as an example of how the mundane can be mesmerizing.  

The new crop of fall tv shows came out this week too.  I mentioned Chaz and "DWTS" earlier this week.  But we finally got to see what "Whitney" and "New Girl" had to offer.   Sadly, nothing.

I think Whitney Cummings is funny and engaging.  When I have heard her on Howard Stern she comes off as personable and good natured.  Her show, meanwhile, was much of the same "Friends" meets "Coupling" meets "The Office" garbage NBC has been trying to shove down our throats for years.  All the sterotypes were there in last night's pilot episode.  30 something worried about keeping relationship fresh.  Role playing games.  Overbearing mother.  Divorced and bitter friend.  A woman who has her boyfriend "whipped."  Only thing missing were laughs.

But there were several from the live studio audience.  And that too was weird and oft-putting.  It is near impossible to reinvent the sit-com.  "Larry Sanders" did it.  "Arrested Development" did it.  If you are going to use the standard formula, a la "Seinfeld" or "I Love Lucy" you will be needing laughs.  

Same goes with Zooey Deschanel's vehicle "New Girl."  You gotta be real damn cute and likeable to carry a show like this.  And maybe because she married Ben Gibbard from Death Cab for Cutie or recorded a commercial for Cotten "the touch, the feel..." I like Deschanel has tarnished a bit of her cuteness. 

She was great in "Elf", "Yes Man" and "50 Days of Summer."  Those projects seem very old about now.  More lazy writing and cliches followed by familiar scenarios and inappropriate behavior in restaurants.  The only thing that changes are the pop culture references and actors.  Otherwise this is 'Dharma and Greg" or "Mad About You."  That is, forgetful comedies that look pretty and have characters we might relate to.  Overall, you might vedge out and give these shows enough ratings to last a few seasons.  But that is more telling on our abject laziness than their overall quality.

Should you require some of that I ask you to watch the shows that surround these two efforts.  Fox's "Raising Hope" and NBC's "Parks and Recreation."  They are both absurd, charming, and laugh out loud funny at times.  

Will keep it short today as life has handed us some harsh realities this week.  In a few hours we head out of town to mourn the loss of someone close, someone special.  I am reminded of a similar loss we had several years ago when my aunt passed.  It is a time when you expect friends and family to come together and heal.  Sometimes it just doesn't happen that way.

Sometimes the family splinters and fractures under the magniitude of the situation.  Sometimes years of ignoring or otherwise avoiding deep rooted issues rise to the surface igniting anger that lay latent forever.

Been years since I have talked to several of my extended family resulting from an explosion like this.  And as the years go by I wonder what that all means?  I wonder if problems that have divided us will ever be rectified?  I wonder if anyone else thinks like this or are resigned to the status quo?  

I look toward the weekend and hope we can celebrate the life that was.  We should acknowledge and praise each other for knowing the decedant...  for being touched by her grace and love...  for being better people for having known her.

Cock eyed optimism.  Always my downfall.

AS I have not written music selections for weeks take a look the attached for what I am listening to lately and what will likely get me through the weekend.  Enjoy everyone and have a great fall weekend.  

"Vampirer/Old Friend" by Caveman from SXSM  I will ride their bandwagon until they appear on the Alt Charts.  This hypnotic double feature falls somewhere between the Dead's "Space", Simple Minds and The Killers.  The end of "Old Friend" live is by far my favorite live performance from the past 5 years.

"She Walks in So Many Ways" The Jayhawks.  One of the Alt-Country's finest is back with an impressive and familiar sounding album.  A true comfort food of a band.  

"Colors"  Grouplove  Hard rocking and haunting track from English alt darlings.  One of the most popular alt songs out there today and for good reason.

"The Crane Wife #3" The Decemberists  I have been falling back in love with this album from many years ago.  I can see why critics hate the new album.  But you should not hate the band/effort for trying to evolve or experiment.  It is not a crime to have better product in your formative years.  Do we hate Abbey Road because it isn't Sgt Peppers??  It is always dangererous to compare a band to itself.  You try writing 10 songs every 2 years.

"Walk" Foo Fighters.  20 years since Nirvana's "Nevermind" and Dave Grohl is still very much alive and well thank you very much.  Looking forward to seeing them in November.  I happen to like the "Falling Down" parody too.  His videos are always entertaining.  This should have been the first single too...  "Rope" was not as good.

"Something Good Can Work" Two Door Cinema Club  Good, clean pop.

"Tonight, Tonight" Hot Chelle Rae  Mainly because my daughter sings all the lyrics and I cannot turn it off when she asks me to put on Hits 1.

"Time Spent in Los Angeles" Dawes  Another track my daughter can sing verbatim and that makes me laugh.  She likes the dirt under fingernails line best.  An impressive second album from these guys from LA.  Take a listen to "Nothing is Wrong" released earlier this year.

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