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Everybody Loves a List!!

2003-01-02 - 2:56 p.m.

Over Christmas, someone from high school asked me, "Tornado Ali, do you still write music reviews?" Flattered that he remembered, I said, "No, actually, I don't anymore, but thanks for--"

"Well, good," he said. "Because I can't stand people who write reviews and think their opinion matters than everyone else's."

I think I let my mouth hang open, and then he pretended to be teasing me. I pondered this for awhile, thinking maybe I should scrap my Diaryland end-of-the-year entertainment wrap-up. Then I said fuck it--I'm writing one anyway. So here goes.

The Best Movies I saw in 2002:

(Official disclaimer: writer of this web log does not enjoy blockbusters with computer-generated Scooby Doos; Arnold Schwartzenegger movies; or movies starring cast members of "American Pie," so none of them will appear here. Writer of blog also lives in a land of limited movie choices, and is still waiting to see films like "The Good Girl" and "Adaptation." Just so you know).

1.

"Italian for Beginners.". Every character in this movie will tug at your heart strings and/or make you horny--even the priest. A movie about life and death and love and forgiveness and hope.

2. "Lovely and Amazing." Click for elaboration.

3. "Y Tu Mama Tambien." This movie is excellent because of the acting, the themes, the scenery, the story, and basically for every other reason. But what truly amazed me about it was this: it's the first movie I've seen, maybe ever, in which the sexual situations were graphic but completely un-gratuitous. Sex scenes that were not geared solely toward the male voyeuristic or pornographic point of view. Kind of sad I can only think of one movie that does this.

4. "Punch Drunk Love." It made me feel... punch drunk. I think and hope that P.T. Anderson will have as long and successful a career as Robert Altman.

The Nice Try Award: "Barbershop." I really wanted to like this movie. Really, I did. And actually, I almost did. But it got preachy in weird parts and just didn't do it for me. I did, however, walk away with a crush on Ice Cube, so it was money well spent.

Worst movie of the year: "Star Wars: Attack of the Clones." I wouldn't have minded being attacked by a clone during this movie--it might've felt good in comparison. Second worst: "Austin Powers: Goldmember." I didn't know Mike Myers could be un-funny.

Movies that I thought might suck but actually did the opposite (non-sucked?):

1. "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers." Golum is awesome--those Scooby Doo designers could take a lesson. Also, the battle scene at the end is incredible--probably the best I've ever seen.

2. "Eight Mile." I'm a battle rapper now. Someone should've told Kim Bassinger, who plays Eminem's Mom, that Midwestern people don't talk like they're from Alabama, and that if she was gonna go with the accent, she might have tried listening to all the other cast members, who didn't talk with a Southern accent. But otherwise, it was surprisingly good. It actually managed to convince me for two whole hours that Eminem is more than a misogynistic, homophobic, overrated Vanilla Ice. And that's saying a lot.

Biggest disappointments, but movies that still had merit: "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" (click here to let me expound upon that) and "The Road to Perdition." Both Tom Hanks related.... iiiiinteresting, no? Don't know why people have said the latter was "too arty," but I just thought it could've been more something. Fast-paced, maybe. I think I've been too warped by "The Sopranos" to watch anything else mobster-related now.

Okay. Now for the tunes.

The Best Albums I Heard in 2002:

1. Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. . This one doesn't need an explanation, does it now.

2. ´┐ŻAnd You Will Know us by the Trail of Dead, Source Tags and Codes.Didn't like them at first. Thought the smashing of instruments thing was old and cliched back when the Who did it. Listened to it some more. Started to really hear the melodies. Listened to it some more. Started to not be able to get the melodies out of my head. Started to love the album. Saw them open for "Queens of the Stone Age." Decided to put them on list of best of '02. Gave copy of El Jefe's band's CD to singer/guitarist Conrad Keely. Have not heard a response. Poopy. But still love album all the same.

3. Neko Case, Blacklisted.. Haven't heard it more than three times, just got it for Christmas, and already can tell it's worthy of going on the list.

4. Queens of the Stone Age, Songs for the Deaf.. Of course, if you're a Kenny G fan, you probably won't dig this. But don't be scared away by the name. This band rocks. And sometimes has Dave Grohl as a member. Former Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lannegan provides great, gritty vocals.

5. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, The Rising. Really. I thought it might suck--you know, the Sept. 11 themes, the possibility of cashing in on "Born in the USA" nostalgia-- but I was so wrong. Everyone should hear this record, if only for the simple inspiration you get from knowing that people can still continue to create exceptional stuff when they're eligible for senior citizen discounts.

6. Uncle Tupelo: '89/'93, An Anthology. That Stooges cover of "I Wanna Be Your Dog" alone makes it worth buying.

7. Paul Westerberg/ Grandpa Boy, Mono and Stereo. Nobody really talked or wrote about these albums this year, but they are wonderful. The best solo Westerberg stuff in at least a decade. Maybe ever??

8. The Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. Opening track is awesome.

9. The Hives, Vendi Vidi Viscious. Actually, I'm putting this on here as a representative of other great bands credited with "bringing back rock," like The White Stripes and The Strokes, who I continued to listen to all year but who did not release albums in 2002. I'm sometimes afraid El Jefe will leave me for Meg White.

10. Coldplay, A Rush of Blood to the Head. Wow, I can't believe I'm putting this on here. I never would've even tried it out except I got it for a dollar, so that opened my mind a bit. The song "Clocks" makes the whole thing worth hearing. Of course, by the time I've written this, the radio station near you will have already have played it enough times that you'll hate it.

Album I bought that I need to listen to more, and that you probably do, too:

Jay Bennett and Edward Burch, The Palace at 4 a.m. (Part I). I wish it didn't have the songs on it that were already recorded by Wilco, but I'm just so glad to hear anything by Jay Bennett. I hope he keeps releasing stuff.

Band I thought would get famous but never did: The Catheters (from Seattle). Despite their gross name, they're surprisingly good. Check out Static Delusions and Stone-Still Days..

"Artist" I'd most like to erase from the earth: John Mayer. Sorry, but anybody who sings a song with a title like "Your Body is a Wonderland," dates Jenny Love, and sings in a Dave Matthews-inspired whispery warble has nothing to do with the words "rock" and/or "roll."

Album I will praise even though I agree with what most of the critics said about it: Concrete Blonde, Group Therapy. This was, (is, actually) my favorite rock band of all time, so when they got back together after eight years, with the original members, I nearly peed my pants with excitement. Turns out the album is a little... less than phenomenal. But, it's still got some great new songs. ("Take Me Home," "Roxy," and "Violent," to name a few). In fact, half of the album is great, but the other half of not-great-ness wears it down. The thing is, it made me want to cry, because it's obvious that Johnette and Jim have still got it--I can only hope that they'll continue to play and write material, building from the strengths of this one. For my sake and for theirs, cross your fingers.

Note: I can't do a Best Books of '02 section because even though I read a lot this year, I almost never get books in hardback and therefore hardly read anything brand new this year. Except for "The Lovely Bones," which I thought was okay but way too Hollywood-y at the end. Wouldn't you agree? That ghostly sex scene? Come on.

Radio:

Everything, no questions asked, sucked--with the exception of "Little Steven's Underground Garage," which is the best thing to happen to radio since I don't know when. An actual DJ who--gasp--plays good songs that he picks out, and tells you what's good about them. A radio show that allows you to stay tuned for two whole hours without hearing the same Bog Seger song three different times. I would provide the link here, but it comes up with an audio clip and I wouldn't want you to be reading this at work and get all embarrassed that your computer made a really loud noise.

TV:

What I saw of it was really sucky. "E.R" may not have completely jumped the shark, but I'd say it's hovering. Plus it's not worth watching without Mark Green anyway. I didn't care to watch the second season of "The Osbournes," and watching everybody else's favorite, "Trading Spaces," makes me extremely nervous for some reason. I think Paige Davis and the other members of the crew might be aliens from another interior-decorating planet.

So. Disagree? Have any suggestions for me? Write me a note. And go get Grandpa Boy!!

that was then - this is now

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