Thursday, December 31, 2009

The 2009 Golden Ashtray Awards: Honouring The Worst of the Worst in Cinema

Ladies and Gentlemen, 2009 has come to an end, what a fucking awful year this ever was. Seriously, if this movie was a person, people would be lining up down the street just to kick it in the ballsack. Therefore, what better way to close the year than by pointing out how terribly shitty it was. And so, I give you: Notes on Bar Napkins' 2009 Golden Ashtray Awards. I haven't actually created any trophies, but feel free to make your own at home and send them to the winners with a missive about why they suck so much.

The Stupid Ed Hardy Hat for Douchiest Movie
  • Transylmania
  • Stan Helsing
  • I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
In what I can only call a motherfucking landslide, the adaptation of Tucker Max's douchebag manifesto proved to be the douchiest douche to ever douche a douche. If Jon Gosselin fucked Spencer Pratt in the ass, and then Spencer Pratt douched the jizz into Tila Tequila, and then the baby was douched out nine months later, it still wouldn't be anywhere nears as douchey as Tucker Max is.

The Shit Where You Eat Award for Most Squandered Good Will
  • Judd Apatow for Year One
  • David Cross for Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel and Year One
  • Michael Cera for Year One
  • Sacha Baron Cohen for Bruno
While Michael Cera's limited acting range is beginning to creep up on people, David Cross wins the award for dragging any and all credibility he had from his fantastic performance in Arrested Development, dragged out back, beat it, shoot it execution style, then dumped it in a trash can. But hey, at least he managed to bought a house, right? Good for him.

The Kick In The Vagina Award for Most Misogynistic Film
  • Bride Wars
  • All About Steve
  • The Ugly Truth
  • New In Town
It's really only fitting to give this award to Katherine Heigl, who seems to find it perfectly suitable to deem herself a feminist symbol, admonish Judd Apatow for his male-centric humour (Which in all honesty bears a grain of truth), and then appear in abysmal chick flicks where marriage is the be-all, end-all goal for women everywhere.

The Book Burning Award for Worst Literary Adaptation
  • The Time Traveler's Wife
  • I Love You, Beth Cooper
  • Watchmen
  • Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant
I debated giving this one to I Love You, Beth Cooper, which managed to suck everything clever and irreverent out of a great book and leaving behind another vapid teen flick, but The Time Traveler's Wife wins it for taking what is probably the best book of the decade and absolutely running it into the ground, giving us a bad Hallmark movie that you'd end up watching at eight on a Sunday.

The "Oh Shit, It's That Guy!" Award or Best Cameo
  • Mike Tyson for The Hangover
  • Francois Sagat for Saw VI
  • Paula Abdul for Bruno
  • Bill Murray for Zombieland
Say what you will about 2009, but you have to give it credit where credit is due: It had some pretty kickin' cameo appearances. If this was any other year, Sagat would win it by the sole virtue that he's fucking Francois Sagat, but let's face it, Bill Murray wins this one hands down. It's a wonderfully post-modern joke, and he milks it for all it's worth. On the plus side, Sagat can console himself with the fact that he can do laundry on his stomach and Bill Murray can't.

The *Head-Desk* Award for The Trend That SERIOUSLY Needs to Stop
  • Vampires (The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant)
  • Disney Concerts (Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience)
  • 3D (Friday the 13th, The Final Destination)
  • Movies Based On Toys (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra)
It's a true testament to how annoying I find these movies that I didn't give the award to Vampires, but Movies Based on Toys really need to just die out. Look, beloved childhood toys are great and all, but I wouldn't even play with these things in real life for two hours; Why would I watch someone else play with them for two hours?

The Awkward Shifting In Your Seat for The Most Embarrassing Performance
  • Kevin James for Paul Blart: Mall Cop
  • Chris Klein for Street Fighter: Legend of Chun Li
  • Sandra Bullock for All About Steve
  • The Whitest Kids U Know for Miss March
Oh Chris Klein...You were in American Pie, then you kinda faded into obscurity, then you emerged with what is either the most Andy Kaufman-esque move in history, or you just showed up and gave the single most cringe-worthy the world has ever seen (barring Nicolas Cage in The Wicker Man). Runner up goes to Kevin James for two hours of fat jokes.

The Tingly Feeling In Your Pants Award for Movie I'd Like To Fuck
  • Crank: High Voltage
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • Avatar
  • Zombieland
If it were based on individual characters, this would either go to Crank or Basterds; if it were for visuals, Avatar; But on the whole, Zombieland was the balls-out sexiest movie of 2009. The gore, the humour, and Emma Stone with a shotgun? Sweet zombie jeebus, if you need me I'll be firing one off in my bunk.

The Sad Penis Award for Worst Sex Scene
  • Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg in Antichrist
  • Patrick Wilson and Malin Akerman for Watchmen
  • Seth Rogen and Anna Faris for Observe and Report
  • Katherine Heigl and a pair of vibrating panties for The Ugly Truth
While the rest of the nominees are unintentionally awful in their own special way, Antichrist took the initiative to make sure that blood never flowed to your penis EVER AGAIN. Seriously, do not go see Antichrist if you ever plan on having sex ever again.

The SPOILER ALERT! Award for Best "OH SHIT!" Moment
  • Charlotte Gainsbourg cutting off her clitoris with a pair of rusty scissors in Antichrist
  • Alison Lohman being dragged to hell in Drag Me To Hell
  • Bill Murray gets shot in the face in Zombieland
  • Mo'Nique doing anything in Precious
Ho. Lee. Shit. You know something is fucked when Mo'Nique's pitch-perfect acting tops a woman literally mutilating her genitalia. Mo'Nique was a fucking force of nature, absolutely terrifying in her abusive nature. If anything, the OH SHIT!ness of it comes from the fact that the performance of the year came from Mo'Nique of all people.

The In My Pants Award for Movie Title Most Improved By Adding "In My Pants" to the End of It
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
  • I Love You, Man
  • The Ugly Truth
  • I Can Do Bad All By Myself
I Can Do Bad All By Myself In My Pants...'Nuff Said.

The "About Fucking Time!" Award for Best Return to Form
  • Disney for The Princess and the Frog
  • Sam Raimi for Drag Me To Hell
  • James Cameron for Avatar
  • Henry Selick for Coraline
While the other contenders on the list all deserve this award, they've really only been nominated because they haven't done much since their last big hit. Therefore, Disney wins it for finally going back to the formula we love them for. Is it anything entirely new? Hardly, but it's what we've come to know them for, and quite frankly, it's a huge step up from the CGI crap they've been offering recently, so hey, why the hell not, right?

The Diamond In The Rough Award for Most Surprisingly Good Movie
  • The Hangover
  • Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs
  • Paranormal Activity
  • Whip It
I was going to give this one to The Hangover initially, until I realized that everyone knew this was going to be a good movie and I was the lone funsucker in the corner, sipping the haterade. So instead, I'm giving this one to Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, which had every opportunity to suck and instead churned out a solid, fun movie instead. Kudos on that one guys.

The Turd In A Box of Chocolates Award for Most Surprisingly Awful Movie
  • The Time Traveler's Wife
  • The Invention of Lying
  • Men Who Stare At Goats
  • It's Complicated
The Time Traveler's Wife and It's Complicated would have won this if the trailer hadn't sucked so bad, and The Invention of Lying would have taken it if it weren't released during early fall, so the win falls squarely on Men Who Stare At Goats, which, despite a great cast and a promising trailer, sucked so hard it wasn't even unintentionally funny.

The Feel Good Family Moment Award for Best Kids Movie
  • Coraline
  • Up
  • Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs
  • The Princess and The Frog
While this was personally a toss-up between Coraline and Up, the latter worked better as a movie-movie while Coraline just worked better as a kid's movie. If that sounds complicated, maybe it is; While Coraline worked perfectly as a movie that kids could enjoy, Up just happened to be a great movie that was also a cartoon. So if we're judging on the basis of what works best for kids? Coraline.

The "You Like Me! You Really, Really Like Me!" Award for Movie That Deserves to Win The Oscar for Best Picture
  • Up In The Air
  • Avatar
  • The Hurt Locker
  • District 9
Plain and simple, The Hurt Locker deserves it. While Avatar is stunning, it lacks a powerful storyline. District 9, on the other hand, was a great movie but ultimately chose to extreme a medium for it's subtext. And finally, Up In The Air is really just far too dated. Ultimately, The Hurt Locker is gritty and raw enough for it to win the gold.

The Fuck Me Gently With A Chainsaw Award for Worst Movie of 2009
  • Year One
  • Old Dogs
  • Miss March
  • Knowing
Year One would have taken it if it hadn't sacrificed it's stars credibility beforehand, while Miss March flew too far under the radar for it to really be called the absolute worst. Knowing was just too unintentionally funny to be full on bad. Which leaves Old Dogs, a movie so fundamentally awful in every facet it's become a joke in itself. From publicity stills featuring crew members visible in the frame to the absolutely shitballs stupid final shot, Old Dogs proved that ANYONE can make a movie, if given enough money to waste.

The Golden Ashtray Award for Best Movie
  • The Hurt Locker
  • Zombieland
  • Up
  • Where The Wild Things Are
While each of the above movies where simply phenomenal in their own way, Up was the movie that quintessentially captured everything we love about Pixar. The studio has regularly been given the shaft since it makes cartoons, but behind the pretty pictures, Pixar's first movie with a fully-human character is ultimately it's most human movie. Sure, it has adorable kids and talking dogs, but at its core, it's a movie about how we learn to love again when the love we had is gone. It still exists, but you can't find it, and learning to search for the love you had is the hardest thing you can do. For making a movie that so thoroughly embodies the human spirit, Up is the best movie of the year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

20 Best Albums of 2009

#20: Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion

Indie Hipster Douchebags may have been rubbing their pubic pitchforks over the album, but underneath the (admittedly) excessive hype is an actually well put together album. Musically speaking, it takes risks that most other artists wouldn't dare, and the production on it makes the entire album razor sharp and occasionally danceable, although you'd still enjoy it more on a controlled substance.

#19: Bon Iver - Blood Bank

Yes, it's an EP. Yes, 25% of the album relies exclusively on auto-tune. Yes, it fully deserves to be on the list. The story of For Emma, Forever Ago's creation has pretty much entered the canon of Indie-Folk legend, and Blood Bank was Bon Iver's way of assuring us that he was more than the sum of his parts.

#18: Karen O & The Kids - Where The Wild Things Are OST

While it may have been something of a commercial failure, but artistically speaking, it was a middle-age hipster's wet dream: Direction by Spike Jonze, adaptation by Dave Eggers, and held together with a score by Karen O. Equal parts playfully naive and introspectively melancholic, the soundtrack was astounding, bridging the gap between childhood daydreaming and adult woe. And Hideaway still breaks my heart into itty bitty pieces whenever I hear it.

#17: Lily Allen - It's Not Me, It's You

Lyrically, it was weaker on the whole than her previous efforts, but it established Allen as an artist who knows her way around bubblegum beats. While she might not be ready to tackle some of the bigger issues, she's still able to effortlessly bitchslap the men in her life who piss her off with little more than clever quips, a breathy voice and some absolutely killer hooks.

#16: Dinosaur Jr. - Farm

At 25 years old, Dinosaur Jr. might be a bit of a misnomer. Regardless, Farm was a surprisingly accessible album from a band that's only been together for two years following their 8 year hiatus. Musically, it feels a bit like a mix-tape of the best songs from 90's college rock radio, channeled into a band who actually knows their way around a guitar.

#15: Wilco - Wilco (The Album)

Considering the album's painfully self-aware title, Wilco (The Album) is pretty much a collection of songs that are quintessentially Wilco (The Band). 'Consistent' may not be the most flattering adjective, but when I say that Wilco (The Album) is as good as you would expect it to be. After 15 years, Wilco (The Band) has created a style so uniquely their own, that each album seems to build upon it, and you can't help but call the resulting work home.

#14: Morrissey - Years of Refusal

Morrissey is fifty years old if you can believe it, and he still sounds as better and depressed as he ever has. And God bless him for it, because the man can still rock out some of the most depressing songs you'll ever hear. He's got the voice of an angel, albeit one in desperate need of some counseling, and he can still rock the ever-loving shit out of you, even if he is at the age where he yells at children to get off his lawn.

#13: Peaches - I Feel Cream

Peaches is filthy, disgusting an absolutely perverted; I wouldn't have it any other way. While Teaches of Peaches may have been her defining work, every subsequent album has proved that Peaches still has that sexually-explicit polish she's become famous for. She still rules the dancefloor with an iron shocker, and I Feel Cream established her as electronica's reigning MILF.

#12: Matt & Kim - Grand

I'm trying very hard to think of a good way to describe this one, but to be honest with you, I honestly can't do it. Words can't describe what exactly this album is. The closest I can get to properly describing it is as a delirious fever dream, replete with crashing drums and frenetic keyboards. It's zippy, scrappy and pretty damn spunky. But once again, that doesn't really do it justice now does it?

#11: Bat For Lashes - Two Suns

To be perfectly honest with you, I honestly didn't see what the big deal was for Bat For Lashes' debut album, Fur and Gold. That being said, Two Suns was a message to the non-believers, as if to say "Didn't like my first album? Well fuck you, my sophomore is going to kick the musical shit out of you." And it did. Two Suns was frigidly beautiful and trippy as hell, and converted those who normally wouldn't give art pop a second look.

#10: Passion Pit - Manners

Manners was dance music for people who normally wouldn't be caught dead dancing. Between falsetto vocals, flawless rhythms and a theme dreamy yearning, Passion Pit created dance music with Indie sensibilities, never losing the balance between twee cafes and sweaty dance clubs. And for people who can't even take a shit without it being ironic, you gotta admit, hipster douchebags are a ton of fun to dance with.

#9: P.O.S. - Never Better

If you thought hard enough about it, you could draw quite a few parallels between P.O.S. and Atmosphere: They both share the same bleakly moralistic style of alt-rap, they both share the same record label, and they both share the same position on my best albums list for their respective years. Needless to say, if you liked Atmosphere's ego-free music, you'll probably like P.O.S. too.

#8: The Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca

The one big problem most people have with indie music is that it lacks the soaring vocals of mainstream Top 40 radio. Sure, anyone can pick up a guitar and mumble a sweet little ditty, but how many can you name with a five-octave vocal range? The Dirty Projectors brought that sort of charm down to the hipsters with intricately woven pop songs that seemed to dance in and out of modern music conventions with almost limitless ease and grace.

#7: Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

Before 2009, Phoenix was little more than a little French rock outfit that enjoyed critical and minor-commercial success. Then Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix dropped and it was over. The album wasn't so much a breakthrough as it was a driving a tank through the front door, with it's first two singles, Lisztomania and 1901, burrowing so far into your brain that you could never hope to get them out. Score one for the cheese-eating surrender monkeys.

#6: Metric - Fantasies

If you take their word for it, Metric's music is about "sweaty fucking". By that logic, Fantasies is the part near the orgasm, when two people are pressed together and every inhale and exhale, each bead of sweat and every miniscule heartbeat becomes magnified tenfold. It's intimate, it's raw, and if you give it enough time, it's one hell of a release.

#5: Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest

No other song encapsulates Grizzly Bear's appeal like Two Weeks. It starts off simply, with a tinkly little piano riff, before adding bits and pieces, sweet little "oh-oh, OH-OH, OH!-OH!"s, a guitar that thumps a long, a steady drum beat, a whirling keyboard, before coming together at the end for one grand aural display akin to a fireworks show. And that's what Girzzly Bear is all about: Little bits and pieces that build to a grand finale.

#4: Neko Case - Middle Cyclone

Neko Case' work has always had a element of nature to it, but Middle Cyclone was when Case finally became a part of her surroundings: a force of nature. Irrational, wholly unpredictable and devastating; she's just as likely to hold you tenderly as she is to tear apart towns and cities in search of something or someone to love. Case's voice rises above the torrential instrumentals as if to let you know who exactly is the fucking boss here.

#3: Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz!

If her discography is of any indication, Karen O can crack a whip like it's no one's business, effortlessly commanding any audience she feels worthy enough to captivate. It's Blitz was Karen O's way of marking her territory on the dancefloor, barking out orders in a voice that can break a heart in seconds flat. When she cries "Dance 'til your dead!", she means it.

#2: St. Vincent - Actor

St. Vincent has never been more conflicted than on Actor. Despite her fragile voice and porcelain features, the woman is a ticking time bomb. From the explosive bridge of The Strangers, sandwiched between Disney-esque woodwinds, to the two-and-a-half condemnation of Actor Out of Work where she chews out and coddles you simultaneously, indecisiveness never sounded so good.

#1: Various Artists - Dark Was The Night
A celebration of indie music, encapsulated for future generations to look back on, Dark Was The Night served not only to collect the best of the best of modern music, but for every album bought, proceeds went to the Red Hot organization, helping to raise funds and awareness for HIV/AIDS. Not only was it a flawless mix-tape, but it also helped fund a worthy cause. Not a bad deal, huh?

Monday, December 28, 2009

20 Best Movies of the Aughts

...In my opinion anyway. Feel free to send me any and all complaints by writing them down on a piece of sandpaper, rollin' it up reeeeeeeeeeeal tight, and shoving it right up your ass.

#20: Zack and Miri Make A Porno

Granted, comedies for the new millenium have been ruled over by the iron fist of Apatow, but Zack and Miri was Kevin Smith's way of showing him who did it first and who did it best. The movie was filthy, hysterically funny, and genuinely sweet without once ever being heavy handed or preachy.

#19: Coraline

This was just one of those movies that was bound to be good. Adapted to the screen by Neil Gaiman from his own book and directed by Henry Selick, it's just one very dark and very sinister fairytale that succeeded by never talking down to the kids and never pandering to the adults in the audience.

#18: Secretary

I made the mistake of first watching this with my parents. Bad move on my part. It's one of the first, if not the only, movie that successfully combined romance with BDSM without playing it for laughs. It's just too wonderfully twisted and kinky people falling in love over a mutual love of the more bizarre and enjoyable forms of sex.

#17: Junebug

Junebug is one of the harder films on the list to initially grasp. At first, it seems a little too stiff, the polite southern charms a little too painted on. Watch it a second time and you realize just how well acted it is. Never has a film so lovingly embraced sheer earnestness, and Amy Adams' performance remains to this day one of the most tragicall overlooked of the decade.

#16: Donnie Darko
Watching Donnie Darko is the closest you will ever get to a literal brainfuck in cinema. If you fail to keep up with the narrative, it probably won't do much for you; But take in each glorious snag in the fabric of space and time, blessedly intersected with occasional flashes of middle-American satire, and you're brain will be lighting up a post-coital smoke.

#15: Spirited Away

Forget the Japanes cash-cows that were Pokemon, Sailor Moon and that one with the children's card games. This is what Anime is all about: Painstakingly beautiful, hand-drawn animation wrapped around mythology, all put together by a man who is so obviously in love with his work you can't help but feel the same.

#14: Half Nelson

This might be one of the few movies that could have made the list based on its soundtrack alone; It's composed entirely by Canadian indie supergroup Broken Social Scene. And if that doesn't do the trick, Ryan Gosling gives a performance that can, for all intents and purposes, knock you on your ass in all of about five minutes.

#13: Pan's Labyrinth

It's hard to describe a movie as being brutal without making it sound like criticism, but Pan's Labyrinth is absolutely brutal in the best possible sense of the word. It's a visual masterpiece that treads the line between childlike fantasy and what can really only be described as soul-crushing cruelty. And I mean that in a good way.

#12: Ghost World

I know I already reviewed this one a while back with AVB, but I stand by what I said: Ghost World should be standard viewing for every self-righteous teen who's hiding their own personal insecurities and uncertainties about the future behind sarcasm and ironic hipster threads. It's a movie about figuring out how to just live when everyone seems to have it together but you.

#11: Finding Nemo

This list could have easily been dominated by Pixar movies, a studio whose worst movies are still heads and tails above most other movies. Finding Nemo was the one that cemented their reputation for creating movies that captured what it really means to be human, even if the main characters were fish.

#10: Almost Famous

There's a part in Almost famous where Lester Bangs drops the famous line "The only true currency in this bankrupt world... is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." That's what Almost Famous is: A celebration of being honest, innocent and compassionate, and sharing it with the world, no matter how uncool that makes you.

#9: Let The Right One In

Easily the most surreal and disturbing film on the list. It's terror doesn't lie random flashes of gore, viscera and intestines, but in a deliberate, slow creep, juxtaposing childhood innocence with a sense of quiet but impending doom. The gradual movement from one to the other, and the inability to go back, is where real scares are found.

#8: Waitress

This is a movie that manages to be heartbreaking both on camera and off camera. The gentle love story of a woman who constantly finds herself a victim of circumstance coping with an unwanted pregnancy is given further depth by the fact that Adrienne Shelly was murdered before she could ever see its release. From that point, it becomes a love letter to her own daughter, a message that someone, somewhere out there will love them enough to just hold them for 20 minutes straight without a trace of selfishness.

#7: Up

When I first wrote about Up, I said something along the lines of "I will end up crying within the first ten minutes of this movie". Ooooooh boy was I ever right. Wall-E may have been lauded for forgoing dialogue for the first half of the movie, but Up has undoubtedly the best opening ever, effectively condensing a lifetime of love into ten minutes without uttering a single word, then spending the rest of the movie figuring out how to cope once the love goes where you can't follow.

#6: Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain may, at this point, be a shorthand joke for anything gay in Hollywood, but this is more a sign of ignorance than any fault of the movie. It's the perfect combination of an absolutely flawless script, spot-on direction and acting performances from a young and all-to promising cast. And it's Oscar snub is still seen as something of a mark on the Academy.

#5: Little Miss Sunshine

How exactly the hell does a movie about a cocaine-addicted elderly man teaching his granddaughter to strip for a beauty pageant become one of the most heart warming films of the decade? No idea, but Little Miss Sunshine was what happens when you realize that yes, all families are dysfunctional and shitty but love just makes it all a little easier to deal with.

#4: Shaun of the Dead

You can't really parody something if you don't love it, and that's what Shaun of the Dead was: it took the piss out of zombie movies while showering them with praise. It proved that yes, zombie apoclaypses are FUN, but at the end of the day those zombies are loved ones, family, friends, and having to (re)kill them is a heart-wrenching experience.

#3: The Dark Knight

Batman Begins was Christopher Nolan's way of establishing the fact that movies based on comics can, in fact, be rooted in reality, and The Dark Knight proved it. It was a dark, disturbing appeal to humanity's ability to stand strong in their beliefs and principals even in the face of absolute cruelty, and Heath Ledger's Joker was the epitome of Machiavellian, tormented insanity. And on the plus side: No Bat Nipples. Woo!

#2: Juno

Fuck the backlash. If you can't see the forest through the trees, that's your problem, but Juno was, and forever will be, the movie that brought indie into the mainstream. It's what happens when fresh young talent comes together and makes a movie that succeeds on talent rather than on budget. It's what happens when you strip a romantic comedy of all the studio-approved gimmicks and leave behind the raw beating heart. It's a love story. That's it, that's all. If that's not enough for you, what is?

#1: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
In the space of an hour and 48 minutes, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind will rip out your heart, break into a million sharp, jagged, unrecognizable pieces and put it back together. It's the closest representation you will ever get to falling in, and losing, love. It will show you just how wonderful, confusing and painful love is. It will show you every single reason why you should not be nor should you ever be in love, and it will show you why every single reason why you shouldn't fall in love will never count for more than the one reason why you should be in love. And you will never, for the life of you, be able to put it into words. At least, not as eloquently and perfectly as Eternal Sunshine ever did.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Tasty Cakes

Posting will resume tomorrow, I swear. In the meantime, don't those Beignets look good? Well, you can find out how to make them and other awesomesauce foodstuffs by checking out the newly rebooted Pornstar In The Kitchen.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Cannonball Read Entry #11: The Stupidest Angel -

For all my ragging and petty criticism, I actually am, in fact, a huge fan of Christopher Moore. Love him. I have every single one of his books, read them all through and through, and despite my criticism, loved every single one of them. That being said, the absolute worst thing you can do is pretend that nothing's wrong when obviously, something is. If anything, the measure of a good book is one you enjoy reading despite it's flaws. It's about making what you love about it worth more than what you dislike, and Christopher Moore has that down to a science.

The Stupidest Angel takes place in the town of Pine Cove, California, the setting of both Moore's previous novels Practical Demonkeeping and The Lust Lizard of Melancholy, making this the most paranormally fucked town since Sunnydale. Anyway, the story starts off with Lena accidentally killing her douchebag ex-husband with a shovel while the fat fuck is dressed as Santa. While former pilot Tucker Case helps her hide the body, the entire sordid mess is witnessed by a young boy, who after wishing upon an angel sent down from heaven for Santa to come back to life, incites a yuletide zombie apocalypse. Ho ho ho.

Despite the fact that Christmas specials are usually little more than holiday cash-outs, The Stupidest Angel marks Moore at his best: Rather than drowning the narrative in winks and nudges and oh-so-clever asides, Moore let's the story speak for itself, pacing the jokes out enough to keep them from being overbearing while still keeping with the absurdist humour he's known for.

The only real problem I had with is was that the overall pacing of the plot was off. If the big seller for your novel is that there's a gigantic holiday zombie massacre, briefly hype it up, rather than spending over half the book building up to it with story lines that just sort of peter out on the way to the climax.

Anyhoo, if you're looking for a respite from Christmas special featuring adorable little kids, jolly break-in artists and elves who want to be dentists, you honestly can't get much better than The Stupidest Angel, which injects a fresh dose of zombie into the overtly cheerful season.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

30 Best Songs of 2009

I'm gonna keep this short and sweet, as no matter what I put on this list, everyone who reads this will inevitably suggest songs I left off or demand that songs be higher/lower on the list. Also, I seem to have contracted a serious case of the stupids, and I may end up leaving you with something riddled with typos and missing words.

#30: Tori Amos
Welcome To England

#29: Taylor Swift
You Belong With Me

#28: Spinnerette
Ghetto Love

#27: Imogen Heap

#26: Passion Pit
The Reeling

#25: LadyHawke

#24: La Roux

#23: Annie
Songs Remind Me Of You

#22: Morrissey
Something Is Squeezing My Skull

#21: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Sheena Is A Punk Rocker

#20: Peaches

#19: Miranda Lambert
White Liar

#18: Wilco featuring Feist
You and I

#17: The XX

#16: Matt & Kim

#15: Lady Gaga
Bad Romance

#14: Bon Iver
The Woods

#13: Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys
Empire State Of Mind

#12: Lily Allen
The Fear

#11: Animal Collective
My Girls

#10: Karen O & The Kids

#9: Bat For Lashes

#8: Antony & The Johnsons
Her Eyes Are Underneath The Ground

#7: Neko Case
People Got A Lotta Nerve

#6: Metric
Gimme Sympathy

#5: Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Heads Will Roll

#4: The Dirty Projectors
Stillness Is The Move

#3: Phoenix

#2: St. Vincent
The Strangers

#1: Grizzly Bear
Two Weeks

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Well Now This Is Pretty Cool

I'm taking a break from random "Best/Worst of the Year/Aughts" to share this little story with you guys: Remember that post I did about the Best Canceled Shows of the Aughts? Well today I got a comment from a woman named Stacey who wrote for the show thanking me for putting it on the list. Oh come on, how cool is that? Seriously, that is just TITS.

That is all.

Also, because I just wanna pack as much awesomesauce as I can into this post, here are The Pipettes covering 'All I Want For Christmas Is You'.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The 25 Biggest Douchebags of 2009, Part 2: #10-1

#10 – Chris Brown

You’d figure that most people would have the common sense to realize that there is no excuse for beating your girlfriend. Chris Brown is not most people. Rather than owning up to his actions and taking the time to do some soul searching and learning from his mistakes, he instead any and all responsibility for his actions both in interviews and through his music. Not to mention his incredibly bone-headed “Oops!” chain and that the media is ruining his career. Obviously, his acting like a total douche bag has NOTHING to do with it. None whatsoever. The sad thing is, not only did he manage to sell 102,000 albums in his first week, but 46% of teens sided with Chris Brown, proving that children are fucking AWFUL.

#9 – Maine

...Or as I like to call it, California 2: Electric Boogaloo. Because apparently, no one learned anything from Proposition 8, Maine became the second state to vote to take away the results of gay and lesbian couples because it was “unconstitutional”, proving once and for all that Maine does not know jackshit about the constitution. Apparently, nothing would ruin the sanctity of two people entering a life-long loving commitment like two people entering a life-long loving commitment.

#8 – Rush Limbaugh

Limbaugh has been a total douchebag for a long time, and I mean a looooooooooooooong time, but this year he really pulled out all the stops. With the Republican Party without a strong leader, the power vacuum was sufficiently filled with Rush’s fat ass. He proved to be a strong leader, if by “strong” you mean “Completely off his shit”. It’s one thing to dislike the president based on his opinions and views, but when you say that you hope he fails when the country is in the worst recession in decades, that just proves that you love your ideals more than you love your country. I mean really, how would a country benefit if a president failed exactly? Wait to think this one through, dumbass.

#7 – Jim Cramer

Look, it’s great that people want to make normally boring areas fun and exciting for the sake of knowledge. Super. But when it comes to people’s money and lifesavings, having fun usually takes a backseat to being able to pay for a roof over your head and for food on your table. But apparently, Jim decided that fuck common sense! Spend spend spend! Spend money you don’t have because the crazy fuck on TV told you so! Needless to say, watching Jon Stewart absolutely butcher him into a snivelling pile was the most satisfying moment of TV of 2009.

#6 – Sarah Palin

Palin would be a much better politician if she actually imposed her on values on herself rather than others. Want the media to stop spreading lies? Great. Stop saying that Obama is creating a death panel to kill your granny and babies. You say you’re ready to be Vice president? Super. Then why did you ditch your post as Governor of Alaska? Because people were too harsh on you? Of course they were. As opposed to saying that you’re political opponent was a socialist friend of terrorists who wasn’t born in this country. Never has one woman spoken so much yet said so little.

#5 – Joe Lieberman

Here’s a thought right here: If the majority of Americans approve of something that would benefit those too poor to afford health insurance while also keeping the option open for those who WANT health insurance to continue using it, it might not be such a great idea to filibuster the damn thing while the American people become increasingly more irate about how completely and totally useless both the house and the senate has become.

#4 – Glenn Beck

No one quite embodied the absolute feeling of paranoia in 2009 quite like Glenn Beck. He out-crazied even the most batshit insane of lunatic talking heads by crying on television, dousing guests with water poured out of gasoline tanks, pulling random words out of his ass in order to misspell words, an proving that no matter how irrational and emotionally unstable a person is, as long as they spout out keywords that people want to hear, they too can have their own show on Fox News. Also, he raped and killed a girl in 1990 (...Or did he?)

#3 – Bernie Madoff

Most people who want to make money usually just get a job. Some will do something amazing and be rewarded with tons of money for it. Some will go so far as to maybe rob some random bank or store. It takes a special kind of assholeishness to create a Ponzi scheme, scam 4,800 people out of a collective $64 Billion dollars and then rot away in jail while you show absolutely no remorse for your actions. On the plus side, he’s now eating pizza cooked by a child molester, so HA! on that one.

#2 – Nidal Malik Hasan

Non-sensible people should stay as far away from -isms as they possibly can. Case in point: This piece of shit, who killed 13 people in the Fort Hood Massacre. It’s one thing to have religious beliefs, but it’s another to use them as an excuse to go on a shooting spree in a military base. Killing 13 people and injuring 30 more doesn’t make you a man of God, it just makes you some crazy fuck who murdered a bunch of innocent people because of what you thought one old book told you to do.

#1 –Wallstreet

Was there ever any doubt these guys would be number 1? It’s one thing to douche it up in the confines of your own home, or TV show, or even state. But when you manage to fuck over a collective nation through your own capitalistic greed, that just goes above and beyond the call of douchey. At what point do you stop and go “Maybe rewarding those who managed to run the American Economy in the ground probably wasn’t the greatest idea?” And people wonder why we feel the need for government intervention. For encouraging a society of instant gratification, greed, and petty materialism that tanked the national economy, Wallstreet is The Biggest Douchebag of 2009.
Until next year, seriously; don't be a douchebag.