What we want and what we need and what we REALLY want and what we REALLY need.
1) One - Yeah, I know, it sounds trite, but One is the irreducible primary and indicates superiority in many ranking systems. It also echoes a homonym of such achievement because you can be "Number One" if you have "won". It may be the loneliest number, but that's only because it can stand on it's own. Now I know some of you will argue that you can't have One without Zero, and I'd agree that from a purely relativistic sense you're right. But I would also say that Zero becomes irrelevant without One. At this point many would probably argue that One is nothing without Zero, and I'd say shut up and let me get on with the rest of my list.
Some snarky observations upon comparing the Top Ten Book lists between Amazon Canada and Amazon US.
- Canadian list topped by a box set of books about soul-sucking vampires. US list is topped by a book authored by a soul-sucking vampire.
- Both countries' readers have a whole lot of faith that Dan Brown has a brilliant storyline left in him.
- Canada balances out US right wing political theory with Malcolm Gladwell.
- Canadian list finished by a box set of books about soul-sucking vampires. US list is finished by a book authored by a soul-sucking vampire.
- Number nine on the Canadian list is a book about "The difficult choices a family must make when a child is diagnosed with a serious disease are explored with pathos and understanding...." Number nine on the US list is about the difficult choices a book buyer must make when an entertainer's demise is exploited by pathos and misunderstanding.
- If Dan Brown is to get to number one on the US list, he must lengthen the title of his book to The Lost Symbol: How I Lost an eBay Auction for the Holy Grail to Mary Magdalene When That Bitch Bid Sniped Me While I Was Staring at the Proofs for the 25 Ambigrams I'm Gonna Get the Publishers to Fork Out Big Bucks For When They Print This Book. Guaranteed number one.
- 7 out of 15 unique titles (that aren't box sets) rely on the overused colon for their titles.
- None of the titles contain the letter "z".
- Only one book contains a vanity self-reference to the author... actually, to the author's common sense.
- Only one book name drops an American Revolutionary in the title (strangely enough not on the Canadian list). I wonder if the devout religious followers of the author know he's inspired by a man who said "I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church."
Top Ten Books at amazon.ca
- Sookie Stackhouse Boxed Set by Charlaine Harris
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows
- The Book Of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
- The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
- Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller by Jeff Rubin
- Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
- Three Cups Of Tea by Greg Mortenson
- Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
- My Sister's Keeper: A Novel by Jodi Picoult
- The Twilight Saga Collection by Stephenie Meyer
Top Ten Books at amazon.com
- Glenn Beck's Common Sense: The Case Against an Out-of-Control Government, Inspired by Thomas Paine by Glenn Beck
- The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
- The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power by Jeff Sharlet
- Sookie Stackhouse, Books 1-7 by Charlaine Harris
- The Help by Kathryn Stockett
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows
- The Shack by William P. Young
- Unmasked: The Final Years of Michael Jackson by Ian Halperin
- Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto by Mark R. Levin
I refuse to participate in the 25 Things meme on Facebook as I don't think Facebook is a good platform for long-winded text entries and I'm half-convinced that the FB gurus started the activity themselves as a means to move people from blogging to staying on the social network du jour.
While I do admit to a lovehate relationship with lists, as evidenced in previous blog entries here and here, I will define my participation in the activity from the reverse angle and present "25 Things I Didn't Want to Know About You"
1) You wet the bed every night until you were 17... you only wet it twice a week now.
2) You voraciously defend Richard Gere's reputation on the gerbilling accusations at the pet store three times a week.
3) Your musical "guilty pleasure" is the Mamma Mia soundtrack... your regular listening habits include the entire ABBA discography.
4) You watch NASCAR, but not for the crashes.
5) You keep lube beside your clock radio.
6) You once mistook Preparation H for toothpaste.
7) You once signed a petition to make LOLspeak an official language using your Twitter name and included the @ sign.
8) You still check the bulletin board in your building every day to see if people have ripped off one of the phone number tags for the flyer you put up about your "Handmade Crafts for Sale" and then rush back into your apartment to sit by the phone with the lights off.
9) You are building a wall in your basement of empty 2 liter bottles of dollar store Cream Soda.
10) You made a conscious decision not to speak "baby talk" to your cat because you wanted him to learn the proper way to yowl for Meow Mix.
11) You have a rash and/or are chafing. (I don't care where it is or how you got it, just don't speak of it any further)
12) You speak of your child's feces like you're gazing on the golden city of El Dorado.
13) You are only fourteen months away from completing your five year photoessay entitled "Things I've Cut or Clipped From Me".
14) You never gave up on the Laserdisc format and it's "close to DVD" resolution even though it's been all but dead for twenty years.
15) You overuse unnecessary articles by always saying "The Facebook", "The Twitter", and "The Skype".
16) You always say you're not "feeling fresh".
17) You decorate your house for the Olympics.
18) You have been hanging on to old issues of Tiger Beat for 25 years because you're sure that when Kristy McNichol makes a comeback they'll be worth something.
19) You scrapbook.
20) You consider shopping a hobby.
21) You once went to a concert because you overheard someone you thought was really cute say he/she was going there and you wanted to run into them and have something in common.
22) You have a collection of soaps, shampoos and other sundry bathroom items from every hotel you've stayed at that you keep on a curio shelf and will not open for fear of reducing the product's sentimental value.
23) You think it's quite acceptable to replace every lyric after the first line of a song with mindless monosyllabic gibberish.
24) You spend fifteen minutes in every supermarket you enter evaluating the wobble of grocery carts to ensure the success of your comsumer experience.
25) You would gladly write 50 or 100 things people didn't know about you if only a whacky social network spamming activity would prompt you to.
So that's it - 25 things I didn't want to know about you... or anyone for that matter. Here's an idea; let's pass this idea around and I think we'll learn a hell of a lot more about our friends without feeling like we're playing a bad game of Scruples.
all dates from comingsoon.net
July - 2012
Some slim pickings for what's usually a solid month of the year. I've not, and will not, see a Harry Potter film in the theater. That being the case, for the apocalyptic geek in me... and the fact that John Cusack is in it, 2012 is my pick.
Never before has a date in history been so significant to so many cultures, so many religions, scientists, and governments. "2012" is an epic adventure about a global cataclysm that brings an end to the world and tells of the heroic struggle of the survivors.
August - Inglourious Basterds
When one shakes random director and genre generators and comes up with Quentin Tarantino and World War II... how can I not see this?
"Inglourious Basterds" (sic) begins in German-occupied France, where Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent) witnesses the execution of her family at the hand of Nazi Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz). Shosanna narrowly escapes and flees to Paris, where she forges a new identity as the owner and operator of a cinema.
Elsewhere in Europe, Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) organizes a group of Jewish soldiers to engage in targeted acts of retribution. Known to their enemy as "The Basterds," Raine's squad joins German actress and undercover agent Bridget Von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) on a mission to take down the leaders of The Third Reich. Fates converge under a cinema marquee, where Shosanna is poised to carry out a revenge plan of her own.
September - The Informant
Okay, something strikes me as strange when too many post-apocalyptic/futuristic/vampire options are given in the first couple weeks of the month. I'd rather stick with Soderbergh and Damon.
What was Mark Whitacre thinking? A rising star at agri-industry giant Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Whitacre suddenly turns whistleblower. Even as he exposes his company's multi-national price-fixing conspiracy to the FBI, Whitacre envisions himself being hailed as a hero of the common man and handed a promotion. But before all that can happen, the FBI needs evidence, so Whitacre eagerly agrees to wear a wire and carry a hidden tape recorder in his briefcase, imagining himself as a kind of de facto secret agent. Unfortunately for the FBI, their lead witness hasn't been quite so forthcoming about helping himself to the corporate coffers. Whitacre's ever-changing account frustrates the agents and threatens the case against ADM as it becomes almost impossible to decipher what is real and what is the product of Whitacre's rambling imagination. Based on the true story of the highest-ranking corporate whistleblower in U.S. history.
October - Where the Wild Things Are
I've gotta give give mad retro respect to a Maurice Sendak book being made into a film by Spike Jonze no less.
An adaptation of Maurice Sendak's classic children's story, where Max, a disobedient little boy sent to bed without his supper, creates his own world--a forest inhabited by ferocious wild creatures that crown Max as their ruler.
November - Sherlock Holmes
Not that I care too much that Guy Ritchie is involved... Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Pipes anyone? But it's Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. Thankfully this is coming out before what I'm sure will be a notoriously unfunny comedic remake that's rumored with Will Ferrell and Sacha Baron Cohen. I almost picked The Wolfman with Benicio Del Toro, but I really wish they hadn't gone period piece with it. I was hoping for a modern-day adaptation.
In a dynamic new portrayal of Arthur Conan Doyle's most famous characters, "Sherlock Holmes" sends Holmes and his stalwart partner Watson on their latest challenge. Revealing fighting skills as lethal as his legendary intellect, Holmes will battle as never before to bring down a new nemesis and unravel a deadly plot that could destroy the country.
December - Avatar
I get the feeling there are still WAY more announcements for film releases almost a year from now, but, based on the known titles as of now, James Cameron alone wins this for me. What looks like a solid cast is bound to be surrounded by some spectacular cinematography and effects.
"Avatar" tells the story of an ex-Marine, thrust unwillingly into an effort to settle and exploit an exotic planet rich in bio-diversity, who eventually crosses over to lead the indigenous race in a battle for survival.
all dates from comingsoon.net
January - Taken
Luc Besson co-wrote this and he's got a mind that's just twisted enough to make it good.
A former government operative comes out of retirement and uses on his extensive training to rescue his estranged daughter from a slave trade operation.
February - The International
Looks kinda like a Bourne film, which is fine in my books.
Interpol Agent Louis Salinger (Clive Owen) and Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Eleanor Whitman (Naomi Watts) are determined to bring to justice one of the world's most powerful banks. Uncovering myriad and reprehensible illegal activities, Salinger and Whitman follow the money from Berlin to Milan to New York to Istanbul. Finding themselves in a high-stakes chase across the globe, their relentless tenacity puts their own lives at risk as their targets will stop at nothing – even murder – to continue financing terror and war.
March - The Watchmen
I've been waiting for this film since the Terry Gilliam rumors over ten years ago. Can I pay someone to put a Fatwa on Rupert Murdoch if Fox blocks this thing?
A complex, multi-layered mystery adventure, "Watchmen" is set in an alternate 1985 America in which costumed superheroes are part of the fabric of everyday society, and the "Doomsday Clock" - which charts the USA's tension with the Soviet Union - is permanently set at five minutes to midnight. When one of his former colleagues is murdered, the washed-up but no less determined masked vigilante Rorschach sets out to uncover a plot to kill and discredit all past and present superheroes. As he reconnects with his former crime-fighting legion - a ragtag group of retired superheroes, only one of whom has true powers - Rorschach glimpses a wide-ranging and disturbing conspiracy with links to their shared past and catastrophic consequences for the future. Their mission is to watch over humanity...but who is watching the Watchmen?
April - State of Play
Holy cast Batman!
Russell Crowe leads an all-star cast in a blistering thriller about a rising congressman and an investigative journalist embroiled in an case of seemingly unrelated, brutal murders. Crowe plays D.C. reporter Cal McCaffrey, whose street smarts lead him to untangle a mystery of murder and collusion among some of the nation's most promising political and corporate figures in "State of Play," from acclaimed director Kevin Macdonald ("The Last King of Scotland").
Handsome, unflappable U.S. Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck) is the future of his political party: an honorable appointee who serves as the chairman of a committee overseeing defense spending. All eyes are upon the rising star to be his party's contender for the upcoming presidential race. Until his research assistant/mistress is brutally murdered and buried secrets come tumbling out.
McCaffrey has the dubious fortune of both an old friendship with Collins and a ruthless editor, Cameron (Helen Mirren), who has assigned him to investigate. As he and partner Della (Rachel McAdams) try to uncover the killer's identity, McCaffrey steps into a cover-up that threatens to shake the nation's power structures. And in a town of spin-doctors and wealthy politicos, he will discover one truth: when billions are at stake, no one's integrity, love or life is ever safe.
May - Star Trek
Wow... what a month: Star Trek, Terminator, Angels and Demons, and X-men: Wolverine. I am, however, a sucker for the Trek with Angels and Demons a close second.
From director J.J. Abrams ("Mission: Impossible III," "Lost" and "Alias") and screenwriters Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman ("Transformers," "MI: III") comes a new vision of the greatest space adventure of all time, "Star Trek," featuring a young, new crew venturing boldly where no man has gone before.
June - The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3
I know, I've abandoned the new Transformers movie and Land of the Lost which should have a nostalgia-filled knockout punch for my choice, but... Will Ferrell's in it. Pelham gives me that retro feel that I just hope they can come close to the original on... see the original.
In "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3," Denzel Washington stars as New York City subway dispatcher Walter Garber, whose ordinary day is thrown into chaos by an audacious crime: the hijacking of a subway train. John Travolta stars as Ryder, the criminal mastermind who, as leader of a highly-armed gang of four, threatens to execute the train's passengers unless a large ransom is paid within one hour. As the tension mounts beneath his feet, Garber employs his vast knowledge of the subway system in a battle to outwit Ryder and save the hostages. But there's one riddle Garber can't solve: even if the thieves get the money, how can they possibly escape?
2009 should have the torrent sites... I mean theaters... buzzing with downloads... I mean ticket sales.
For many years, growing up, the week between Xmas and New Year's was simply a week to exhaust every minute of playing time with every new toy I'd received and do my best to avoid wearing any of the new clothes until they were incorporated into my wardrobe when school restarted.
As I got older, the week became an opportunity to hang out with friends, maybe indulge in a few beverages, and count down the days until the real world would descend upon us once again. This also became the time that I developed an affectation for college bowl games where I had no history, no idea, or no stake in the teams, but I simply appreciated the fact there was a game that seemed to mean something on every night. I have since learned that games like the "San Diego County Credit Union Bowl" probably don't mean anything at all except to the teams, their fans, and the execs of the San Diego County Credit Union. This is also the time I learned to appreciate a uniquely Canadian pastime of watching the early round games World Junior Hockey Championships in what was usually some remote Finnish city spelled with six Ks, 14 Ms, and the occasional I or E thrown in for good measure.
As I moved into the phase of my life where pop culture and media became omnipresent in all non-working moments, I came to a new understanding of what this week meant for media outlets: "The Top Ten Best of Worst of Most Interesting Fill in the Blanks of the Year"
So as we move into the Week of Lists, I turn to my new favorite medium, the web, to provide me with further validation for dubbing this week with such a moniker.
The venerable Time magazine has deemed GasBuddy as a best "Advice and Facts" website of the year. While some may think the address leads to a fetish site for flatulence, the page actually allows you to track where the cheapest gasoline prices are across the United States. I can already tell, by using the site, that the next time I fill up, I should drive to Texas. What I really want to know is how "groundbreaking" are they considering themselves with their 10 Essential Websites: Wikipedia, Yahoo Finance, Craigslist, ESPN, Yelp, Facebook, Digg, Google, TMZ and Flickr? Do we really need a list like this? The only site on this list that may even remotely be a stretch of knowledge to people living outside a large urban area is Yelp, and, in many cases, even if they went there, they might not find much local information anyway.
Time's Top Gadget is the Peek Email Browser that's only $99, but has a $20/month fee to do nothing but email. Here's an idea. Take the $240 you'll spend on the Peek subscription next year and buy an iPod Touch that'll let you do email anywhere there's Wi-Fi.
Amazon's Book of the Year is The Northern Clemency by Philip Hensher. Other than sounding like a Robert Ludlum title gone wrong, I can't say I know anything about this book, and, as it possibly may be the next American classic, maybe I should find out... hmmm... "The Northern Clemency begins at the perimeter of a late-summer party, amidst a din of neighbors gossiping one moment and navigating awkward silences the next. But once you encounter the Glover family--in particular, their languidly handsome teenage son Daniel--there's no turning back." Hell, if there's no turning back, I'd better not begin. I'm not too keen on reading about the "languidly handsome". Apparently neither is the Library Journal who's list contained a couple of dozen books with Hensher's nowhere to be found.
Lifehacker has taken the "Best of" list to its deconstructionist next step with The Most Popular Top Ten Lists of 2008 that have to do with all things Life2.0. Of course, for some reason, they chose 20 Top Ten Lists... and that just doesn't jive with my Top Ten sensibilities. I do, however, heartily recommend the Top Ten Conversation Hacks from August. It is rich with ways to feign interest and blow people off.
Last.fm has declared MGMT as their artist of the year based on user "scrobbles" and their number one album is Coldplay's Viva La Vida. NME names MGMT's Oracular Spectacular as the best CD. Amazon's 2008 album is Only by the Night from Kings of Leon. Blender and New York Magazine pimp L'il Wayne's Tha Carter Ill. The LA Times, the NY Times, The Onion and Rolling Stone pump Dear Science by TV On The Radio. And Fleet Foxes self-titled release takes number one from Mojo, Pitchfork and Under the Rader.
But my 2008 number one for useless lists goes to People magazine. And so, put on your helmets for some of the most useless, subjective choices of irrelevant celebrity topics (because celebrities really are people too):
- Most Talked About Star: Britney Spears
- Most Intriguing Hookup: John Mayer and Jennifer Aniston
- Couple Most Likely to make it to 2018: Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner
- Best Baby Style: Kingston Rossdale (for those who care, Gavin Rossdale and Gwen Stefani's kid ((for those who really care, Gavin Rossdale used to be popular as an emo singer in the band Bush)))
- Best Body After Baby: Halle Barry
- Best Boyfriend: Jake Gyllenhaal
- Best Chest: Mario Lopez
- Best Bikini Body: Jessica Alba
- Best Celeb Smackdown: Charlie (Sheen) v. Denise (Richards)
- Best Baby Name: Harlow Winter Kate Madden (Nicole Ritchie's kid)
- Funniest Celeb on the Web: Sarah Silverman and Matt Damon
I feel dirty.
- Best Movie: WALL-E
- Best CD: Bend Sinister - Stories of Brothers, Tales of Lovers
- Best Concert I Attended: Martin Tielli (Casbah, Hamilton ON)
- Best Internet Radio - CBC Radio 3
- Best Sci-fi TV: Doctor Who (BBC)
- Best Variety TV: The Daily Show
- Best Drama TV: Dexter
- Best Comedy TV: Big Bang Theory
- Best BitTorrent Search Engine: isoHunt
- Best Twitter App: Tweetdeck
- Best New Blogging Site: Posterous.com
- Best New Microblogging Tool: Ping.fm
- Best Free App Download: Chrome
- Best Daily Podcast (Tech): Geekbrief.tv
- Best Weekly Podcast (Tech): This Week in Tech
- Best Weekly Video Podcast (Pop Culture): Totally Rad Show
- Best Decision I Made: Starting to Blog and Podcast at lovehatethings.com