Labor Day weekend is upon us and for all intents and purposes summer 2014 is dead and gone. But we’ve decided to let it go out with a laugh by reflecting on some of the best unmade concepts for summer movies. Yeah, this week we pretty much go in the direction you’d expect anyone to go with summer ideas, nothing really out of the ordinary here. You know, just the usual ghosts and utopian themes that most people think of when they think of the warmest season.
I’m a little hesitant to make such a claim, since there are a lot of funny shows on TV right now, and in particular on Comedy Central, but Nathan For You might currently be the funniest show on television. Sure, a traditionally scripted show like Brooklyn Nine-Nine or Bob’s Burgers might deliver a more steady stream of chuckles and guffaws. But speaking from my own personal experience, Nathan For You is a show that has left me increasingly satisfied because each episode has such a high probability of at least a couple of huge, aching bellylaughs. And these are the kinds of laughs I live for. They’re the kind of laughs that I tend to get only when I’m watching something that’s obviously rooted in reality, but consists of situations that are so absurd and so unbelievable that really there is no other acceptable physical reaction. Continue reading
The Stream Police investigate whether or not Pod People walk among us in this week’s review of the 1956 sci-fi classic, Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Michael and John also take some time to discuss the decline of the Simpsons and what that means for future generations.
2:28 – Simpsons Discussion
24:20 – Invasion of the Body Snatchers Review
47:52 – John and Michael Recommend
52:54 – Next Week’s Episode
The sudden and tragic death of Robin Williams seemed to hit the entire world pretty hard. Harder than most celebrity deaths. Part of that may be because the circumstances of his demise stand in such stark contrast to the kind of person we all wanted to believe he was. But I’d like to think it was mostly because he was one of the hardest working entertainers that ever lived and probably the only person who will ever live who could justifiably be criticized for telling too many jokes too fast. He’s someone who many of us associate closely with our childhoods, and it’s hard to let him go. And the great thing is we don’t have to; Robin Williams left behind a vast library of movies as his legacy. This week, join us as we reflect on our favorites.
I wrote this a while ago, and then forgot about it due to blog problems/comedian-induced grief. But anyways…
Jenny Lewis is someone who I’ve probably undervalued over the years. This might come from the fact that Mildly Pleased contributor Matt Carstens has a mild obsession with her, and for some reason the two of us can never see eye-to-eye on the artists that either of us love. Also, for many years I wrote off her former band Rilo Kiley as a decent little mid-00’s indie outfit, albeit one that seemed a bit slight compared to a lot of their contemporaries. However, in the past year or so, I’ve found myself listening to Rilo Kiley quite a bit, and in the process finding myself drawn to Jenny Lewis’s whole vibe. Because despite her pitch-perfect vocals and status as a manic pixie indie dream girl, I’ve found myself appreciating her most of all as a lyricist, as there’s a biting wit and a dark undercurrent of sorrow that often seems to undercut her innate pop sensibilities. Luckily, Lewis’ latest solo release The Voyager sees her indulging this particular side of her music, as there’s a definite “aging indie rocker contemplates the meaning of it all” vibe, but with a decent amount of insight and pithiness as well.
To a certain extent, The Voyager falls under a certain category of album I like to refer to as “voidfillers”, meaning that it fills the void of a particular kind of album I liked from the year before, and thus listening to it is an attempt to fill that void. In this case, The Voyager fills the impression left by last year’s Days Are Gone by Haim, as it has that same sort of pristine pop vibe while feeling like a distinct product of Southern California. Unsurprisingly, Jenny Lewis here often has the heir of an older, wiser version of the girls of Haim, as she similarly rode a wave of hype earlier in her career, and still seems to be figuring shit out. The album most of all finds Lewis reflecting on the fact that relationships don’t get any easier the older you get, but she does it in a way that’s still pretty consistently infectious. Granted, I’d be lying if said I wasn’t predisposed to liking the more upbeat power-pop leaning numbers like “Aloha & The Three Johns” and “Love U Forever”, which come later in the album. But I think for the most part The Voyager sees Lewis staying true to her country and AM pop influences, which often makes for very pleasant music to put on in the background of your late summer evenings.
So maybe I’m undervaluing Jenny Lewis once again by saying that I’ve been listening to The Voyager just to scratch that Haim itch that I need so badly. Also, I don’t know how much I’ll continue listening to this album now that the new Spoon release is out, which has sufficiently been distracting me with its awesomeness so far. But the fact of the matter is, The Voyager is a perfect album for this time of year, as it heartily embodies the lazy days of August, while pointing the way for the cold realities of autumn. Also, I guess I have this album to thank for pointing out that famous dudes dressing up in drag is kinda played out, but famous actresses doing it in a music video is almost unbearably adorable. So thanks for that, Jenny.
Favorite Tracks: “Head Underwater”, “The New You”, “Love U Forever”
I know there’s already been a huge outpouring of love and mourning for Robin Williams on the internet and Twitter tonight, and there’ll probably be plenty more in the coming days, but I felt like sharing a few thoughts nonetheless. Mainly, because despite never really acknowledging Robin Williams as someone that I have a ton of appreciation or admiration for, this loss has been hitting me in a deeper place than I would’ve expected. I think this has to do with the fact that because I grew up in the era when Robin Williams was doing kids movies (as well as more serious adult fare), he has been an omnipresent force in mine and people my age’s lives since from about as early as I can remember. I mean, sure, as a comedy fan there’ve been times when I’ve taken issue with the fact that people who don’t know anything about comedy seem to think that Robin Williams is the pinnacle of comedic genius. But the thing is, Robin Williams was probably the first person to ever give me the impression of what a so-called “comedian” is, and the fact that Williams was ultimately bigger than comedy itself speaks magnitudes towards the man’s talent.
Also, despite Robin Williams’ persona as a motor-mouthed, joke-a-minute schtickmeister as a stand-up, it is kind of remarkable how subtle the dude could be in so many of his film roles. And it’s not just that he could be near-comatose in one role and relentlessly comedic in another, but that he could find so many multi-faceted ways of going between 1 and 10 on the Robin-O-Meter. Hell, it’s almost a cliche at this point — the idea of a comic actor who wants to be taken seriously, so he starts taking roles in overly serious dramas. But I think the main reason this cliche exists is because Robin Williams was able to find so many different areas between the light and the dark, and do it so effortlessly.
Now, it’s no secret that the darkness is often what drives a lot of comedians to gain acceptance from the world through their comedy, and perhaps that darkness just became a bit too overwhelming, since at this point Williams’ death has been ruled a suicide. But all I can say for certain is that there are few entertainers that were able to radiate joy the way Robin Williams did, and hopefully we here at Mildly Pleased will be able to put together some sort of podcast-oriented tribute in the next week or so.
Today’s treat is a grab bag of album reviews I meant to discuss during my younger more vulnerable years (A few months back) but didn’t want to. These aren’t because I didn’t have the time, oh no, these are a beast of another nature entirely. The following four albums are albums that I listened earlier in the year and was so disinterested that I couldn’t even bring myself to make words.
I have a few other albums that I plan on reviewing at some point, specifically the latest from Swans, Damon Albarn, and Kaiser Chiefs (not too optimistic about those last two) but I’ll most likely wait for the blog’s end of the year wrap up. Until then bear with me, it’s gonna be a bumpy night.