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Archive for December, 2009

The Awkward Movie Challenge: Magnolia

December 23, 2009 By: Category: Greatest Hits, Movie Reviews, The Awkward Movie Challenge

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According to Netflix, Mike and Jeffrey agree with each other on movies 84% of the time. In their weekly feature, The Awkward Movie Challenge, they search valiantly for that sweet 16% that results in big arguments and big laughs.

Mike:

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When we go to the movies, we have fairly reasonable expectations for whatever flick it is we’re going to view. If we’re to watch a comedy, we want to laugh. If a horror movie is on the docket, we want to get the chills. A drama should wrap us up in its plot, or at least engage us with characters worthy of emotional investment. At the very least, we want to be entertained. Some movies actually fulfill such expectations. A lot don’t. But then there are a select few that take our expectations, lift them over their heads, and smash them to pieces. I recall having such an experience around this time a decade ago. I was a big fan of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights, a movie that blended the epic storytelling of Scorsese’s Goodfellas with the puerile silliness of a seventh grader telling dirty jokes to crack up his friends at recess. So, naturally, I was psyched to see Anderson’s follow-up, Magnolia (released ten years ago this Friday). The trailer was pretty incomprehensible, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. The cast was pretty stellar, though (Julianne Moore and Jason Robards, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Melora Walters, Melinda Dillon, Phillip Baker Hall, William H. Macy, John C. Reilly…). Tom Cruise was in it too. (more…)

Help with Your New Year’s Resolutions

December 22, 2009 By: Category: Best of 2009, Lists

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(Editor’s note: As the end of the year approaches, the Awkward contributors have been hard at work putting together their end of the year lists. In today’s installment, Honor offers some helpful advice on managing your New Year’s resolutions. Enjoy our other lists here.)

1. Improve Your Relationships
Trust me, I used to work above a place in Beverly Hills called Dr. TATTOFF: Wait until after the paternity test results come in to get that tattoo. Ballpoint pens have blue ink for a reason.

2. Exercise More
Medical fact: you burn calories by breathing, digesting food and excreting waste. Save exercise for when you’re dead and these methods are no longer an option. (more…)

Awkward Movie Review: Avatar

December 21, 2009 By: Category: Greatest Hits, Movie Reviews, Movies

avatarUntil last week, I had absolutely no interest in Avatar. I’m not a James Cameron hater. I still think Aliens is one of the best action-adventure movies ever made. The first two Terminator movies were cool. I even thought Titanic was just fine. It did not make a huge lifelong impression on me, but for the 12 1/2 hours I was in the theater, I remember being interested in what was happening. Spoiler alert: the boat sinks.

That being said, Avatar just did not look good to me. Three words: blue cat people. I’m all for computer animation if it involves adorable Pixar characters, but I have yet to see anyone convincingly combine CGI characters and people characters. I mean, I guess that’s why people were so pumped about this in the first place, because Cameron was assumed to be the first person who was able to do it properly. But then the previews came out, and the blue cat people looked like bad video game animation. So I wrote it off as a movie I would not be attending. Until the rave reviews started coming in, and I decided that I didn’t want to be left out of the conversation at the water cooler. Even though I am the only one in my office right now and the only person who would try to talk to me about Avatar at the water cooler was me. Also, someone else bought tickets for me. (more…)

The Fifteen Best Old Albums That Were New to Me in 2009

December 21, 2009 By: Category: Best of 2009, Lists, Music, Opinions, Videos

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When Jeffrey asked me to come up with some sort of “Best of 2009” list for Awkward, I told him, “Listen, Hot Lips: I’m an old, crotchety douche bag who lives solely in the past… and not even my past! I’m talking about the past of some stinky old hippie who got beaten with pool cues at Altamont! I haven’t seen ten movies in 2009 worthy of recommendation. I read maybe three books that were published this year, only one of which didn’t give me the dry heaves. Albums? Do they even make those anymore? Yes, Jeffrey, I recommend you take your ‘Best of 2009’ project and stuff it into your tear ducts, because I bet that would hurt like a mother.”

When Jeffrey stopped sobbing, he said, “Pretty please.” Now, I’m not made of stone, so I told him I’d toss him a piece I was already posting on my own site: the award-winning* Psychobabble. He said, “Whatever.” So, here’s The Fifteen Best Old Albums That Were New to Me in 2009. Enjoy!

*Awards may be self-administered.

15. I’ve Got My Own Album to Do by Ron Wood (1974)

On the cusp of the collapse of The Faces and his recruitment into the Rolling Stones’ ranks, Ron Wood went into the studio with a few buddies and a few bottles and cut a characteristically sloppy solo record. Surprisingly, I’ve Got My Own Album to Do wound up being more than a bundle of drunken jams. “Am I Grooving You” may be a dumb lyric slapped onto a lazy guitar lick and “Crotch Music” may marry a dumb title with dated jazz-rock fusion, but there are a surprising number of quality songs on this record. Wood duets with future fuehrer Mick Jagger on “I Can Feel the Fire”, getting the record off to a rousing start (although it would turn into an even fierier item during live performances with The Faces), but the ballads may provide the most memorable moments of I’ve Got My Own Album to Do. “Far East Man”, co-written with George Harrison, is gorgeously reeling, and “Mystifies Me”, on which Wood goes pipe to ravaged pipe with Rod Stewart, is a lovely, ragged, countrified love song. Stewart also steps in to give a little boost to the Chuck Berry-esque rocker “Take a Look at the Guy” and mask Wood’s drunkenly tuneless delivery of “If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody”, but this remains Wood’s show all the way through. (more…)

Video of the Day

December 18, 2009 By: Category: Videos

According to Buzzfeed, this song was created to replicate the sound of American English without actually using any English words. What? I don’t know. I don’t get it. I would also take this information with a grain of salt, since Buzzfeed claims this guy is German when he is clearly Italian. One thing I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt is that this is one fuh-resh video. Enjoy. And Happy Friday!

Bonus knowledge: according to Wikipedia, this dude (Adriano Celentano) has sold 70 million albums in Italy. He is also “the most famous dancer of the hula hoop fad.” That’s one impressive resume.

Dear Terrifying Ocean Thing

December 16, 2009 By: Category: Awkwardness

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You are the worst thing I’ve ever seen. I hate you. What are you doing on my website, you creep? Your teeth are the worst. So are your creepy eyes. Go on, get out of here! Shoo!
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Oh, okay. You’re not very big. That’s better. You can hang out. You are still creepy, but I guess you’re sort of cute, too. But wait …
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AHHHHHH!!! WHO THE HELL IS THAT?!? Is that your friend? Get him out of here! He’s frightening my customers!

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The Best Viral Videos of 2009

December 16, 2009 By: Category: Lists, Videos

Videogum has compiled the Best Viral Videos of 2009. Viral videos are God’s most special gift to America, even though they take up a lot of my somewhat precious time. Now, thanks to the genius of Videogum’s ever-hilarious Gabe Delahaye, you can enjoy these videos in a way that feels productive. Thanks, Gabe! Keep up the good blecch!

The full length versions of my favorites are after the break. (more…)

The 15 Best Albums of 2009 that You Probably Will Not Like

December 11, 2009 By: Category: Best of 2009, Greatest Hits, Lists, Music

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If you had asked me to list my favorite albums of the year in, say, October, I would have told you that this was one of the best years for music in ages and I could hardly choose between all my favorites. If you had asked me to list my favorite albums of the year this week, (which you did, as you’ll recall–I think we were at Arby’s), I would tell you that nothing really stood out. Albums that I thought were masterpieces upon first listen (The Decemberists’ The Hazards of Love, Kid Cudi’s Man on the Moon: The End of the Day) quickly reached their saturation points. Artists I love released albums that barely warranted a second spin (Tegan and Sara’s Sainthood, The Hidden Cameras’ Origin: Orphan).

My appreciation for this year’s releases has been slightly dulled by the sheer number of new records I picked up this year. According to iTunes, I currently own 69 records that were released in 2009. That is over 2 days worth of music. I could listen to my 2009 releases from start to finish for 48 hours straight and not hear every song on every album. It is just too easy in this age of digital downloads to go overboard and pick up everything that’s garnering a slight amount of buzz. Also, I have a serious problem. It’s this or Home Shopping Network, and I don’t really have anyplace to keep hundreds of souvenir plates.

All that being said, I still maintain that in terms of quality releases, this year saw a greater percentage than many. We’ll have to wait and see whether I’ll still be listening to any of these records next year, but for the time being, here it is. As you read this list, please keep in mind that I would never give this list to anyone and say, “buy these records.” I can’t tell you how many of my friends I tried to turn on to Los Campesinos!, my favorite record of the last five years, who think it is garbage. I don’t think I have the most eclectic taste in the world, but I do like to give everything a fair shake, and this sometimes leads to me liking music that my hip friends find too mainstream and my mainstream friends find too hip. (Note: I do not have any mainstream friends.) In other words, stuff that no one likes. Enjoy! (more…)

Awkward One Special Holiday Price

December 10, 2009 By: Category: Publishing, Site Notices

Awkward One: Now only $7!

Awkward One: Now only $7!

If you’re like me, you spend every waking moment in December lying on the floor in a fetal position, wracked with indecision over what to buy your friends and family for Christmas or whatever other quasi-religious festival of consumption you celebrate. You dream that someday someone will come along and alleviate your pain with the perfect gift idea, but your mental anguish has left you so incapacitated that all you can think to do is pull up your laptop computer and refresh AwkwardPress.com over and over again, hoping beyond hope for some kind of sign.

Consider this your sign, friends.

For a limited holiday time only, we’ve reduced the price on Awkward One to $7! That’s less than 9 cents per page for a fantastic and handsome collection of short stories that most of the editors’ mothers agree is “readable!*” With prices this low, we should be in jail!

Awkward One is soft and bendy and compact and it adds a lovely dash of sophistication to a Christmas stocking or holiday candy sock. It is absolutely impossible to swallow and makes a wonderful teething tool for infants. Hell, rip it apart and use it as wrapping paper … we don’t care! At this price, you’ll still save money!

*not an actual quote

Order your copy now! Now now now now now now now! No, wait … okay, now!

Top Ten Horror Movies of 2009 That You Probably Didn’t See

December 07, 2009 By: Category: Best of 2009, Horror Films You'll Never See, Lists, Movie Reviews

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So – here is my contribution to the Awkward Press end-of-the-year Top Ten blowout. Given that Jeffrey requested we pick a topic near and dear to our hearts, I went ahead and came up with the Top Ten Horror Movies of 2009 That You Probably Didn’t See. Considering most of the horror movies you probably did see in the theatres this year were absolutely dreadful (Orphan, The Fourth Kind, Saw VI, Drag Me To Hell, The Collector, The Final Destination, Friday the 13th, Halloween II, Sorority Row, The Unborn, The Uninvited), with the potential exception of the box office phenom of Paranormal Activity – chances are, you haven’t seen or even heard of the following horror movies. Unless you’re a total horror film geek like me.

Clay#1010. THE BURROWERS
Written and directed by J.T. Petty.
(Watch the preview here.)

J.T. Petty is one of those filmmakers that seems to volley between making interesting, complex, thought-provoking horror films (such as the amazing S@Man) and bizarro mainstream direct-to-DVD sequels (such as the unnecessary Mimic: Sentinel). The Burrowers is somewhere in between – a Tremors-inspired western yarn, complete with shades of Pitch Black and Young Guns thrown in for good measure. While the movie suffers in the center, it is most definitely a fun film that prefers patience over cheap thrills. Considering Petty is a compatriot to such New York-based indie-horror filmmakers as Ti West and Larry Fessenden, it’s exciting to think what scares he’ll be coming up with next year. (more…)