Sunday, January 27, 2008

Snobfest 2007: The Songs

Finally, we are at the end. Here are my favorite songs of 2007. If you live in LA, you can as always ask for a copy. For those who don't, I've decided to do things a little different this year. I've embedded a flash player for the playlist if you simply want to listen. I've also compiled them all into a zip file to download here. Let me know if you have a problem opening the zip file.

Now on to the songs. It is a little bit dancey this year.

Justice: D.A.N.C.E. - Sure this song has been played to death, but can you blame them?

Whitey: Wrap it Up - I have to support the funky Ohioan even if he is from northern Ohio.

The Virgins: Rich Girls - Nice little Clash-lite ditty that just rolls along in a comfortable groove. My favorite moment is the "you don't have to be such a...asshole all the time" line.

The Wombats: Kill the Director - Post punk guitars, background "oooohs," shout along chorus = great guitar pop song.

Cheap Beat: Club Cheap Beat - It's like they made this song with me in mind. They knew I wanted a growing dance hook of jangly guitars and bouncing bass, and just when I'm to the point of tiring of the hook they throw in a chorus of background "bahs." That alone would've been enough for me, yet they then throw in some background "ohs." Sigh.

Vampire Weekend: Walcott - This seems to be everyone's favorite track from my blog this year, so I guess I don't need to say anything about it. Oh, their debut album comes out this Tuesday.

Matt & Kim: yeah yeah - This song lead to this post. I want to make songs like this in my little apartment.

Ghosthustler: Parking Lot Nights - Or maybe a song like this.

breakbot: happy rabbit - For some reason at the beginning of this song I'm always reminded of the Peanuts theme.

LCD Soundsystem: All My Friends - Probably should have made the album list of Snobfest this year.

White Williams: New Violence - Ok, the dance portion is almost over. I imagine those of you who like your intricate chord changes are a litt-Oooh hand claps.

Jens Lekman: The Opposite of Hallelujah -

I picked up a seashell
To illustrate my homelessness
But a crab crawled out of it
Making it useless

And all my metaphors fell flat
Down on the rocks where we sat
She asked where are you at?

Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova: When Your Mind's Made Up - I love how this song builds.

Lucky Soul: Add Your Light to Mine - How I like those sweet bouncy horns.

Dusty Rhodes and The River Band: Dear Honey - I have no idea why I like this song. It's like a San Fran flower child country band wrote a song based on the 90's alterna rock quiet loud song structure.

Blitzen Trapper: Wild Mountain Nation - How many slide guitars does a song need?

Cheyenne: The Whale - It's like a midwest power pop band wanted to write a dance hit. It just chugs along like it should fit between LCD and breakbot, but is doesn't.

The Broken West: Down in the Valley - My LA theme song for the year.

Dinosaur Jr.: Almost Ready - J. Mascis! Barlow! Murph! I wish this song was in Guitar Hero or Rock Band.

Vincent Vincent and the Villains: I'm On My Own - This is exactly what you should expect from a band with this name.

Ida Maria: Oh My God - The angry sing along song of 2007. It just drives itself home till you think it can't build anywhere and then there's that one "Oh My God!" that busts through what you thought was the song's ceiling and you suddenly find you voice a little ragged.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Snobfest 2007: The Movies

Once - Is there a more tonally satisfying last shot than the one in this movie?

No Country for Old Men - If you had to be stalked by either Michael Myers or Anton, who would you choose? I think I'd go Myers.

Hot Fuzz - I really wish "By the power of Greyskull" would have caught on as a catch phrase for 2007.

The Lookout - ...

Juno - Went in expecting another Little Miss Sunshine, but was pleasantly surprised. I am getting awfully tired of these Mod/60's folk/ indie rock soundtracks. I thought Wes Anderson already called dibs on all the Kinks songs? The duet at the end though made it worth it. Is anyone else surprised that we haven't tired of Michael Cera's schtick? This sounds like I'm backhand complimenting the movie. I really enjoyed it. Loved the parents. Loved how it didn't stick with Garner's character being the "bad" one in the marriage. Very funny.

Ratatouille - With this gem, The Incredibles, and The Iron Giant, Brad Bird has his trifecta. I guess that's why he's moving on to direct live action.

3:10 to Yuma - Maybe I just sorely missed a good western, but I enjoyed this movie immensely.

Knocked Up - Apatow still needs an editor, but he's consistent.

Misc. Honors:

Best Efficient Action Movie with a Crappy Sucker Punch Message Ending: The Kingdom

Best I Shouldn't be Enjoying this Movie as Much as I am to the Extent that I'm Feeling a Little Guilty About it Movie: Shoot 'em Up

Best Beautiful Mess of a Movie: There Will Be Blood - I like that this movie has brought out A Reader's Manifesto type criticism. I think it fits. At times I was annoyed and at times bewildered and at times enamored. I fully support this movie and the experimentation of it, but I didn't love it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Snobfest 2007: Albums

So here are my favorite albums of 2007. I will follow this up with movies and then finally songs. For your viewing pleasure, I've embedded videos from the albums selected. Enjoy. A little warning: the Okkervil River and Afghan Whigs videos are slightly risque.

Blitzen Trapper - Wild Mountain Nation + Cool Love #1 EP

Rarely do kitchen sinks album work, and work as well as Wild Mountain Nation. It's a mix of psychedelic, alt country, power pop, and even a little dash of The Dead. There's the swinging freak-out of the opener Devil's a Go-Go. The Dead like countrified jam of the title track. The Beckish pop of Sci-fi Kid that's hit a few TV shows. The most amazing things is that with all this mixture of different styles it actually holds together. There's a great exuberance and joy to the music. Then you add the EP which you should pick up simply for the title track, Cool Love #1. I just wish it included A Lover Loves too. Pick up these two records and dance the freak-out it will do you some good.

Dinosaur Jr. - Beyond

I hate to repeat myself, but rarely do reunion albums work. Actually, they never work. I can't think of one. At least I can't think of one that is close to being as good as this album. 19 years since the original trio put out Bug, they got back together and put out this album. And you know what nothing has changed. Maybe I am feeding my love for this album with a little nostalgia, but I don't care. It's a great rock and roll record.

Once Sountrack

This will be the only time I will ever put a soundtrack on Snobfest let alone a soundtrack to what is basically a musical. If you still haven't seen this movie, I don't know what you are waiting for. It recently came out on DVD. Borrow it from a friend. Netflix the damn thing. If you did see it and didn't like it, you know what? You have no soul. That's right only the souless could not like this movie.

Jens Lekman - Night Falls Over Kortedala

Damn those Swedes and their ability to make irresistible pop music. Jens has once again created joyful melancholy music. I have always admitted a love for sweet pop songs with string and horns creating the catchy as hell melodies. On top of these melodies Jens recites his witty lyrics in a wonderful deadpan delivery that makes you smile to his relatable tales. This is perfect for those long weekend drives when you aren't in a rush to get where you are going.

Okkervil River - The Stage Names

With this album and their last album and appendix, Okkervil River has been given my "first day purchase" seal of approval. I will buy their next album the day it is released without thinking. With Stage Names it seems Okkervil River have taken everything and compressed it all into a dense nine song album. The opening and closing tracks are the two standouts of a great album. I will take Okkervil over Mr. Bright Eyes' whiny naive preaching any day.

Lucky Soul - The Great Unwanted

This could probably be a nice companion album to Lekman's previously mentioned one. There's a little Motown, Beach Boys, and 60's girls group wrapped up into a wonderful pop album.

The National - The Boxer

Another artist that has received the "first day purchase" seal of approval. Once again The National have created a genius album that you can't really appreciate with a few passing listens while you clean your apartment. There are no "rockers" like "Lit Up" or "Mr. November" on Alligator. These songs still pack a punch. I hate assigning numbers my Snobfest selections, but if forced this is the best album of the year.

The Afghan Whigs - Unbreakable

What? Don't look at me like that. I know it's a compilation album, but come on. I finally get to put an Afghan Whigs album in Snobfest. I had to do it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


It took 9 years but Tottenham has beaten hated rivals Arsenal. The crowd was absolutely out of their gourds the whole match. Add the fact that they trounced them 5-1 and it is a great day for Tottenham supporters.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Cloverfield: A Titan Review (Very Very Slight Spoilers)

To ring in the first "big" movie of the year, I though I would do a hardly famous Titan review of Cloverfield.

Take this as a good sign or a bad sign, but Cloverfield is exactly the movie I thought it would be but not what I would hope it would be. It is a kind of Blair Witch and Godzilla mash-up. Rather than focus the story on scientists and the military trying to stop the monster destroying Manhattan, the movie tells the story of those caught underfoot of the monster. Its a smart idea, and is technically pulled off quite well. A group pretty young urban professionals gather to send off their friend, Rob, who is moving to Japan to be vice president of something. After establishing who's who through normal party talk and relationship banter, all hell breaks loose as the monster attacks. The small group of friends led by Rob try to get out of Manhattan alive. There are some nice set pieces from getting caught in a fire fight between the military and the monster to walking through a subway tunnel to a quick stop at a military post. The hand held camera on the whole works well by putting the viewer in the dust and screams filling Manhattan. There are still cliche's like the night vision scene that you know would happen, and was ten times scarier in The Descent. There are no answers given to where the monster came from ala Tremors. It's just people trying to survive. My problem is I didn't care. The characters come across like they are from some teen TV drama. They are young, pretty, whiny, and disposable. We don't care that Rob wants to go back and save the girl who he never told he loved. Shouldn't they have characters we can maybe identify with? Though who else would film themselves trying to escape a monster destroying Manhattan? Maybe that is the point in this You Tube inspired movie. But you have to care if they die don't you? Cloverfield is a solid popcorn monster movie that is cleverly done and tightly paced. I just wish I cared.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Snobfest 2007: Video Games

Best "Forget the Story Let's Just Play" Game of the Year: There have been plenty of sandbox games: Grand Theft Auto, Saint's Row, Mercenaries, etc. The designers give you one big city or area to play around in and do what you want. The problem is it the games got a little boring if you ventured too far off the set story line. Sure there are side missions and other challenges you could try to accomplish, but it was all kind of eh. "Kind of Eh" I think is the new title of this blog. Anyway, earlier this year a game called Crackdown came along. A crap load of people bought it for one big reason: Halo 3 demo included! The thing is the game is a lot of fun, and it's not the story that is fun. It is just playing around in the world that really makes this game. Making it even better is playing online with a friend. There are gang members and their bosses you can have fun killing, but there are so many more satisfying things you can do as two super human cops. Play dodge ball with cars, rocket launcher tag, sucker kick your friend off a tall building (never ever gets old), play HORSE with jumps, and so on and so on. Finally a game that makes just playing in the sandbox fun. Now if it only allowed four players online.

Best "It's Like a Movie" Game of the Year: Call of Duty developers, Infinity Ward, did the smart thing on its fourth installment by taking it out of WWII and placing it in modern day because I don't think I could have played another WWII game. It would've been a shame if I hadn't have picked this game up because it is simply brilliant. It is still a finely tuned and expertly paced Call of Duty game. It still looks fantastic. The developers just seemed to have brought it all together in Call of Duty 4. From the chaotic assaults to manning massive gun from a gunship to working your way across an abandoned city to snipe a warlord it is all expertly told and laid out. It really is like a six hour movie that concludes in a fantastic set piece. Most of all I'm simply happy that bad guys can no longer hide behind doors and thin walls. The bullets pass through objects they should pass through. Is some militant hiding ducking behind a barrel? Unload into the barrel to take him out. My only real complaint is that there is no co-op, and no cover system like Rainbow Six: Vegas or Gears of War.

Best "End of an Era" Game of the Year: This year has basically seen Sony walk away from the Playstation 2. This year the system has mainly seen Guitar Hero bonus crap, sports games, and a slew of Japanese RPG's. There was though one huge last gasp made by the PS2, and that was God of War II. The developers squeezed every bit they could out of the decade old system to deliver a thrilling game worthy of its predecessor. The story may not be as compelling as the original, but that could be simply chalked up to the cliff hangerish ending. It still moves the story of Kratos forward with polished combat, the always appreciated frustration free puzzles, and great boss battles. If Metal Gear doesn't cause me to buy a PS3, I'm certain God of War 3 will.

Best Over Anticipated Game of the Year: What else but the final chapter in the game franchise that saved Xbox? If it wasn't for Halo would there even be an Xbox 360? Halo 3 was easily the biggest game of the year. It sold millions of copies. People all around the world either couldn't wait to see how it ended or couldn't wait to be cussed out by 10 year olds. Halo 2 made me swear off online gaming with strangers. Anyway, Halo 3 is actually a good game. I still get thrill when I take down a Scarab. It's like Luke taking out an AT-AT. The story came to a satisfying conclusion. I really like the meta-game in four player co-op. But my own personal glee comes from the Grunt Birthday Party skull. Seeing grunts heads explode in confetti when shot followed by children screaming "Yay!" never gets old...never.

Best Massive Game of the Year: I played only one RPG this year: Mass Effect. I'm not a huge RPG fan, but I will play any game that Bioware puts out. How can you go wrong with the team behind Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic? Well apparently a lot of people think they did go wrong. This game topped a lot of people's biggest disappointment list. To be honest I have a difficult time disagreeing with their issues with the game. The inventory system is overwhelming and at times confusing. It did take me awhile to get some kind of handle on the combat system. Even then I found myself sticking with what little I figured out. I too got sick of all the elevators you had to take. No I don't know why you can sprint only while in combat. And driving that tank around drove me up the wall. But you know what? I still couldn't stop playing. I debated every decision I had to make. I loved being the bad ass with a soft side. Sure I had my character be cold and unforgiving toward those who broke the law or crossed me, but I did my best to help the innocent. (Slight Spoiler) Near the end of the game you are forced to choose which of your teammates you have to send on a suicide mission. For about five minutes I debated the pros and cons of sending either teammate. The thing is once I made my peace with the decision, near the end of that mission you are asked again, "Are you sure you want this person to die." Ugh, that ate up another five minutes debating the fate of two video game characters. See, the story pulls you in, and it's a wonderfully told epic of a story. I did get sick of those elevators.

Best "I Can Rock & You Can Too" Game of the Year: I know I've gone all over this again, but bear with me. This year we saw the battle of the rock star simulator games. It was Guitar Hero 3 vs. Rock Band. I've gone over my pros and cons. Guitar Hero 3 is tough. I mean sneaky tough. You're just going along fine till you hit the brick wall that is "Live in Japan." Then the game makes you cry. Guitar Hero also has the better guitar in my opinion. Rock Band on the other hand is more accepting of new comers. This acceptance also means there wasn't a whole lot of challenge if you simply wanted to play guitar, or knew of nobody who wanted to be a in a video game band with you. Then something happened called "Downloadable content." Downloadable content has put Rock Band ahead of Guitar Hero for me. Harmonix, the developer of Rock Band, clearly knows what keeps a game like this going. Since their release, Guitar Hero 2 has had 20 tracks available for download. Three of those are the boss battles that were already in the game. One was We Three Kings for Christmas season, and there was the Halo theme. The last time they made new content available was Dec. 20th. Rock Band has 41 tracks available for download. From the Monkees' "Last Train to Clarksville" to Radiohead's "My Iron Lung" and on through to Metallica's "Ride the Lightning." Every Tuesday since the game was released they have made at least three new tracks available for download. That alone is why I have played Rock Band every week since I've bought it, and why it gets my pick for rock simulator of the year. I should also admit that it has taken every ounce of self control not to buy the drums and microphone for the game. Once this strike is over, I'm starting a fake band!

Best "Game of the Year" Game of the Year: So we know what this is going to be. It's already been on the top of a number of Game of the Year lists. It is the creepy, noirish, Atlas Shrugged inspired Bioshock. It is almost as perfect as gaming can get. Everything from story to music to gameplay to design is superb. It is one of the few games that got me a little choked up at the end after saving all the "Little Sisters." I had to look away from the TV when I played it a second time and would harvest the "Little Sisters." I got the shivers hearing the clickety scrape of the Splicers crawling across the ceilings. I got that feeling of dread hearing the ominous moan followed by the heavy thumps of a Big Daddy. I even began to feel a little sad after killing a Big Daddy knowing he was only there to protect the "Little Sisters." My point is that the developers have created a world that you can completely get lost in. My only complaint is the pipe dreamish hacking you have to do on vending machines, cameras, turrets, etc. While they are fun for the first couple levels, they soon become an annoying chore no matter how much you up your hacking skills, but that's it. Everything else is perfect.

Best "Bang for Your Buck" Game of the Year: It has an awful name called "The Orange Box." But what comes inside this "box" is pure gold. For the price of one game you get the brilliant Half Life 2 along with the two following episodes. But that's not also get the online multiplayer Team Fortress 2. All of these are A+ games. The real gem in this deal is a short first person puzzler called Portal. In Portal you are a test subject that has to make its way through 19 different levels. All you have is a portal gun that can pick up objects and create portals. For example you shoot the gun at a wall the entrance portal is created. You shoot again at another wall the exit portal is created. You use this along with gravity and a weighted companion cube to solve the nineteen levels where you will apparently be given cake as your reward. It should be mentioned though that graffiti written by previous test subjects warn that the cake is a lie. This alone makes for an ingenious game. What puts it over the top though is GLaDOS (Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System). GlaDOS is who observes your progress and educates you through your tasks. She lets you know about the cake reward, and the physics of the portal gun. "Speedy thing goes in, speedy thing comes out." She also encourages you, "Fantastic! You remained resolute and resourceful in an atmosphere of extreme pessimism." GlaDOS turns out to be the funniest video game character since I don't know when. Here are some other GLaDOS quotes:

"The Enrichment Center promises to always provide safe testing environments. In dangerous testing environments, the Enrichment Center promises to always provide useful advice. For instance, the floor here will kill you. Try to avoid it."

"Well done, android. The Enrichment Center once again reminds you that android hell is a real place where you will be sent at the first sign of defiance."


"Stop what you are doing and assume the party escort submission position, or you will miss the party."

"When I said 'deadly neurotoxin,' the deadly was in massive sarcasm quotes."

"You're not a good person. You know that, right? Good people don't end up here."

"That thing you burnt up isn't important to me. Not any more. It's the Fluid Catalytic Cracking Unit; it makes shoes for orphans. Nice job breaking it, hero."

To wrap things up go buy The Orange Box just for this game. Just consider all the other games as really really good icing.

I leave you now with the Portal credits. This almost made the list of Snobfest 2007 Songs.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Snobfest 2007: Year in Review

Have you wondered where I've been? Did you think I went on a mission to rid the world of the SEC? Perhaps I became a professional fantasy football player after winning my championship even though I had Willie Parker as running back in the championship game? Some of you probably thought I started my own Celebrity Death handicapping business since I won my Celebrity Death Pool. (Special thanks to Brooke Astor, Lady Bird Johnson, and Dan Fogelberg for their help in making it happen.) Maybe I started touring with a rock band or a Rock Band band? Could I have given up all my worldly possessions and wandered the planet like the Hulk? Sadly, the answer to all of those is: No.

What I have been doing is working on the always loved and partially skimmed through Snobfest. Before we begin though let us look back, briefly, to what happened in 2007.


My Xbox 360 caught the Red Ring of Death.

Ohio State got crushed by an SEC team.

I pulled off the movie trifecta with: Children of Men, Dreamgirls and Pan's Labyrinth.

I gave birth to this:

For a moment I would like to point out how disappointed I am with all these "strike" beards that talk show hosts and others are sporting like a badge of courage. There is no courage in growing a beard. Beards are easy. You can grow one just out of laziness. They cover half your face with no real embarrassment. A mustache takes real courage. You have to make a mustache happen.

And in a moment of complete boredom I made this:


I had my wisdom teeth removed and was fine the next day.

That's all that happened.


Larry "Bud" Melman and Brad Delp pass away. This made March a very sad month.

My readership triples with American Idol recaps.

I wrote the following on March 30, 2007:

"The Indians will beat the Yankees in the ALDS and then lose to the Red Sox in the ALCS. This will reinforce the Red Sox as the second most hated team in baseball."


Lou Piniella loses it and a Cubs pitcher and catcher beat the crap out of each other. Surprisingly, the team improves.

Jennie and Inga visited!

I become addicted to playing a toy guitar.


We learn that the American Idol producers have gotten lazy in trying to hide how rigged their show is.

Anne Marie graduates from college. I get to see how dirty hippies live.

Mandy and I learn that there are squirrels in Arizona that have the bubonic plague! People are apparently fine with this.

Mandy attends her first MLB game.

I began going to have my ass massaged legally through physical therapy.


After months of taking Enbrel, 90% of the psoriasis is gone. I have no complications other than the expected baby arm. I stop wearing a hat. Cats and dogs start living together which is soon followed by mass hysteria.

Tony Soprano dies or doesn't. We will never know. Do you realize that? We will never know! Half of America rationalized themselves into believing this is OK.

The inaugural Movies That Suck Sunday is held.


I become addicted to physical therapy.

The love between bobby and I is tested when we disagree about the movie, The Lookout.

The love is healed by the power of rock and roll and crappy movies when Movies that Suck Sunday II is held.


Anne Marie moves to LA. There is much rejoicing.

My Xbox 360 contracts the Red Ring of Death, again, in the same year. There is much damning.

The Cubs are actually in a pennant race. I lose a year of my life for every game played from here on out.


I join the Reading to Kids program.

The Cubs make the playoffs.


The Cubs are swept out of the playoffs.

I quit smoking

Writers threaten to strike over new media residuals.

I tire of talking about the strike.

The Indians beat the Yankees in the ALDS and then lose to the Red Sox in the ALCS. The Red Sox become the second most hated team in baseball.


Writers strike. Nobody outside of LA and NY really notices.

I rocked them all!

People outside of LA and NY think the writer's strike is over. It's not.


I sit on my ass... a lot.

Christmas in Ohio.

Most of my family wakes up at 6:30 in the morning to go to an Irish Pub to see my Tottenham Hotspurs play Assenal on TV. Perhaps the greatest day of 2007 even though they lost.

January 2008:

Half of LA is still jobless.

Ohio State got crushed by an SEC team. Buckeyes are only halfway to becoming the collegiate Buffalo Bills.