Monthly Archives: August 2008

Only 119 Days Until Christmas.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is not to ever deprive yourself of the Christmas spirit.  Sometimes, I start feeling that yuletide glee earlier than I should.  Like, in the summer, I’ll be tempted to put on a Christmas Mix CD.  But then, I think ‘no…I’ll ruin it for myself by starting too early’.  But that’s proved to be mistake.  If I squelch it when it crops up, it never seems to come back with the same ferocity when I actually need it to.  My holiday spirit won’t be bossed by anyone, least of all me.  I  thought that maybe I should hold on to this entry until the holiday season but I’m feeling it now.  So, I’m sorry…I just can’t suppress it any more.  I can’t risk dampening my holiday spirit.  So, today’s great thing is:

 

#30 Vince Guaraldi’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas” Score

If you’re American, you know just what I’m talking about.  If you’re from elsewhere, you may not be acquainted yet with this score (or not knowingly at least–it’s been covered and referenced in soooo much pop culture that, chances are, you actually do know it).  Guaraldi, known to his peers as “Dr. Funk” was a jazz man from San Francisco.  Here’s a quote about him from Jon Hendrick’s:

“Vince is what you call a piano player. That’s different from a pianist. A pianist can play anything you can put in front of him…A piano player can play anything BEFORE you can put it in front of him”.

Amazingly, mustache-wearing is the LESSER of his two talents.

Amazingly, mustache-wearing is the LESSER of his two talents.

 

Vince’s big break came in the nerve-wracking call to stand in for the suddenly unavailable jazz maestro Art Tatum at the Frisco club Black Hawk.  (Weirdly both Vince and Art died at the age of 47–different calendar years, but still–woooooohhh!).  BCB (before Charlie Brown), he had his biggest hit in 1963 with “Cast Your Fate to the Wind”–a song that actually resurfaced in 1965 when British easy-listening band, Sounds Orchestral, covered it.

 In 1965, he was contacted by television producer, Lee Mendelson– for a Peanuts Gang and Charlie Brown documentary–one that, to this day, has never aired.  Still, Mendelson was thrilled with the output and asked Guaraldi to score what is now a classic by anyone’s standards, the “A Charlie Brown Christmas” animated special.  Here’s a sampling from the special which originally aired in 1965:

 

This particular piece “Christmas Time is Here” has been outsourced to scads of other films and television shows and covered umpteem times by other musicians.  Notably, “The Royal Tenenbaums” used it prominently.  In fact, the director of that film, Wes Anderson, comments that he chose Buckley the beagle as the Tenenbaum family dog as a tribute to Snoopy.  In typical ‘Hollywood doesn’t know shit’ fashion, the network execs were horrified by Lee’s choice of Guaraldi for the Charlie Brown special and didn’t believe that jazz would work for a kid’s program.  They thought it would be a disaster.  Thank God nobody listened to those guys.  The result is a fantastic example of a piece of music that is both joyful and melancholy at the same time.  Throughout the the score, you experience the ebullient lift in spirit that comes with the holiday as well as the bittersweet blues that one can sometimes sink into if left alone with your own thoughts for too long.  Sometimes this dynamic occurs within the same song.  Or, maybe I’m just bi-polar.  Either way, amazing.

Forty years on and we Americans still consider this to be one of our best Christmas offerings.  I’m not the only one held in it’s powerful grip.  Here’s a video from Rochester, NY of someone who pimped their Christmas lights to synch up to another Guaraldi classic from CB Christmas, “Linus and Lucy”

God bless people who take the time to do these things. 

 “A Charlie Brown Christmas” moralizes that the true meaning of Christmas lies far far away from commercialism–something we’ve all heard dozens, if not hundreds, of time.  But Charlie Brown, with its allegory of the scrawny Christmas tree, is especially touching.  The sickly tree that Charlie chooses for the Peanuts Gang’s Christmas pageant is initially, and quite meanly, rejected.  Later, it’s adorned with a bauble and appreciated by everyone.  The cartoon, famously produced on the fly and on a shoestring budget, shares a few qualities with that tree.  Sure its sound and editing is a bit choppy.  But anyone with a set of eyeballs…or maybe in this case, even just earholes, can see it’s a beautiful thing.

 

Before...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After some positive affirmation...

After some positive affirmation...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re hooked on his jazz stylings now and would like more Vince Guaraldi, check out the website, still run in his honor.  Vince Guaraldi  Also a great place for mustache afficianados….

I’ll leave you with this video that I found on youtube.  It was created by Ryan King and Dan Hess.  It’s flipping brilliant.  Even with my short attention span, I made it through the whole four minutes.  I was a bit sick of “Hey-Ya” after all the radio play it got, but I think I might have to watch this every day for the rest of my life.

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The Spirit of ’76’

So, today I’m a bit pleased with myself because I feel like I’m a bit ahead of the curve on this one.  Sure it’s been covered by other blogs but most of my readers (hi Mom,  Steph, and Rachael) won’t know about this item yet.  It’s really cool already but has the potential to enter worldwide greatness territory.  If only they’ll hurry up and make more of them!  Derek Waters, the creator of today’s great thing, has a solid comedy resume that includes work with one of America’s leading schools of improv, The Upright Citizens Brigade.  But, the list of people he’s worked with is even better–people like Michael Cera, Jack Black, and one of my faves from my NYC days, Jen Kirkman.  You can find today’s entry all over the Internet these days (but mostly at funnyordie.com)

29.  Drunk History

 Somebody told me that “Drunk History” might eventually get developed into a television series.  I hope so…or at the very least a DVD compilation of sorts.  The premise is this:  get a comedian liquored up and then ask them to regale you with a tale from history.  As a rule, booze doesn’t make you funnier.  Unlike pot, it only makes you more annoying to others.  And potentially violent and barfy.  But this concept works because Derek isn’t asking the comedians to say anything funny.  It’s just funny because the comics are a mess and the historical anecdote comes out with all sorts of personal commentary and swear words. 

The Comedy Store

The Comedy Store

 

 As long as the comics that are cast as narrators continue to treat the gig like a serious exercise, I think the charm will last.  I think they might actually get to choose their own subject matter which obviously ensures that there will be some grotesque passion attached to the delivery of the history lesson.  What elevates this to greatness is the film that accompanies the narration.  They employ comedy stars to act out–word for hiccupy word–what the comedian is saying.  It’s best when the actors keep all the mis-shapen dialogue intact…the burps and stutters in perfect synchronization with their actions.

There are only four episodes so far.  We’ve seen Mark Gagliardi discuss Alexander Hamilton’s duel with Aaron Burr, Eric Falconer take on Ben Franklin and electricity (and in a sequel episode, Franklin’s escapades with adultery).  The latter is exceptionally funny as Jack Black plays Franklin…Black is effortlessly hilarious, as always, but even better is his wig…he looks like a tubby King Charles Spaniel.  The wig almost steals the show. 

You can check out all of the videos here:  Drunk History

But the best of the bunch is probably this one with Jen Kirkman.

 

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

You can read more about Oney Judge here at Kirkman’s blog:   http://jenkirkman.blogspot.com/

She’s a funny gal.  Get to know her!

 

If I’m ever asked to partake in this project (it’s my blog–my fantasies can take whatever shape I want them to), I think I’ll talk about how Superman won WW2 for The Allies.  Sure, our American History classes tell us that Captain America that saved the day, but these covers don’t lie!

If someone drew it then it must be true...

If someone drew it then it must be true...

 

Further proof...

Further proof...

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May The Best (Wo)man Win

I’ve had a bit of a vacation from television since the end of the first seasons of “Mad Men” and “Dexter” (though these are old news in The States, Britain has just aired them…alright?). But, the other day, my girlfriend tuned into BBC’s newest celeb competition show “Maestro”. I heard the constant starting and stopping of Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” from behind my computer monitor and went in to investigate what the hell she was watching. We’re both hooked now. The premise is this: 8 celebrities (except for Starsky and Hutch’s David Soul, most are unknown to Yankees but treasured in Britain) who all profess to be classical music enthusiasts, try their hands at conducting the London Symphony Orchestra. I love her anyway, but the best thing on this show is number Great Thing:

28. Sue Perkins on BBC2’s “Maestro”

I’m not trying to make a massive feminist statement or anything with my title to this blog entry.  It’s just a fact…there aren’t a lot of female conductors out there.  Google search ‘female conductors’ and you’ll come up with all sorts of articles about how few there are out there and why that might be.  Whatever.  The good news is that so far, the women of “Maestro” are excelling and I think the best of that bunch is Sue.

A bit about Sue.  She was educated at Cambridge and whilst there, performed with their legendary comedy troupe, Footlights. She gave stand-up a go, on a dare and was swiftly approached by Mel Giedroyc who, with Sue in tow, formed the comedy duo Mel and Sue. The two both wrote for the other big British female comedy team, French and Saunders. Since then, she’s been a television and radio commentator and has taken to doing the occasional stand-up spot again. To me, she seems like the closest thing Britain has to Ellen Degeneres. Both are somewhat androgynous but stylish lesbian comics who clearly have sneaker fetishes.

Po-tay-to

Po-tay-to

Po-tah-to

Po-tah-to

“Maestro”, according to Sue, is not truly a reality show as it doesn’t reflect anything that typically happens in ‘real life’.  It’s more hyper-reality. I think it’s a valid point.  Most people in their daily reality don’t get to win a shot at conducting a world class orchestra.  A shitty orchestra maybe…but never a world class one.  Here’s the BBC website for the program: Maestro

Like most of the contestants–and to be fair, like most of the people in existence–I don’t really understand what a conductor does. I’ve kind’ve assumed that if you’re good enough to play with a symphony orchestra, you’re probably good enough to read the piece of music that’s sitting in front of you. Music sheets already come pre-programmed with time, tempo, and a range of dynamics from piano to forte. Put everyone in a room together, practice it a few times, and you’ll probably sound pretty good. That’s why these people study music for ages, right? So they can do this? Looking at what a conductor does…he just kind of looks like a figurehead to me. An egghead that kind of vogues along to the beat.

We soon learn though, that the symphony really does take its cues from that figurehead. Even though the music sheet might say one thing…if the fearless leader wants it to go faster, louder, softer, slower, zazzier, whatever, he can do that. Take a look at someone doing it wrong-ish and you’ll see what I mean.  This is Peter Snow, a newsreader, giving it a whack:

I’m not the only one who favors Sue. The judges, so far, seem to love her. They also love drum and bass DJ Goldie.  His talent for the stuff is surprising as it seems to come quite naturally to him even though he admits to not being able to read music.. But, there’s an inability for him to accept judge’s criticism gracefully. I hate that. It’s like when Justin Guarini mouthed off to Simon Cowell. An unlikeable action was his ultimate death knell. Sue, on the other hand is self-effacing and goofy as well as talented. A winning trifecta.

Last week’s theme for the competition was ‘the movies’. The producers sent word of their picks for each contestant. Look at her reaction to getting “The Simpsons” theme song. It’s adorably enthusiastic.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

She also does a kickass job with it. Who knew it was such a difficult piece? Danny Elfman is genius.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

As a final thought, I think I prefer the floppy hair Sue but apparently, her mentor has made her pin it back into the pompadour fashion that you just witnessed in the video clip, so that she might engage the orchestra more with better eye contact. Supposedly he’s trying to coax her fashion glasses away as well…  Here’s an enjoyable little editorial that she wrote for The Guardian newspaper that states as much. Guardian Piece Start the petition now…Save Sue’s Glasses!


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Filed under Music, People, TV

2.5 minute miracles

Movie-going is one of my favorite activities to do on any day of the week.  Come rain, shine, birthday party, New Years Eve, my funeral, whenever…just take me to the pictures please.  I love the popcorn, the fountain soda, the video games in the lobby, sometimes I even like the film.  But, more than anything I love the 20 minute anticipation jamboree that is the trailers.  A great, great, great thing.

27.  Movie Trailers

I’m pretty obnoxious about procedure when it comes to movie-going.  If there’s more than two of us, I plan it like a military operation.  There’s a seat-getter (I like middle middle), a snack-getter, bathroom-relief scheduled in, and more often than not, a ‘master of tickets’ who can buy them in advance so we don’t have to wait on line.  I usually demand that people meet at least fifteen minutes before showtime.  Thirty minutes if it’s the opening night of something reeeeealllly popular.  If it’s someone who is perpetually late, I lie and give them a false meeting time so they’ll turn up at the actual meeting time.  If I miss the previews due to someone being late…well God help them.

I have a short attention span, so previews are an absolute ideal format.  A riveting two and a half minute display of salesmanship, a good preview makes you want to watch whatever movie they’re advertising right that second instead of the one that you’ve actually come to see.  It happened last night when I was at the cinema to see “Get Smart”–an OK movie that could have been great had they just gone into full “Naked Gun” mode instead of straddling a family-friendly kind of line.  Well, before that minor disappointment was this gem for “Pineapple Express”.

The music selection to play the scenes through, is of course, key.  The song used in the “Pineapple Express” one is excellent.  M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes” really ramps up the cool factor and the gunshots from the track interplay with the action perfectly.  I think this movie has a “True Romance” kind of vibe based on what I see from the ad.  I like.

The first trailer shown in America was waaaay back in 1913.  A publicist for Loews theatre, Nils Granlund, developed a filmed advertisement for a play called “The Pleasure Seekers”.  This technique proved so successful that they started to develop previews for films as well.  Incidentally, they’re called ‘trailers’ because, for a time, they were run at the end of a film.  That didn’t work out so well.  Most people tend to leave the theatre when the credits roll.  Not me, I like to know who the foley was and see if there are any treats waiting at the end, a’la “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”.  Eventually, they wised up and stuck them at the front of the film to widen the audience–previews!

Nowadays, the release of the trailer is almost as big an event as the actual release date of the film.  There used to be a television show on E called “Coming Attractions” that did nothing but show previews.  Production companies will even publish the information about when previews are going to be released, in front of which movie, and in which markets.  So, if you’re a super-fan, waiting to see the newest Harry Potter preview, you could look online to see that it’s going to play before such and such a movie in most markets.   Or, you could just frickin’ go online and watch it there.

I remember how, in front of one of the first Potter films, there was a trailer for the first Spider-Man film.  As soon as I realized what it was that I was watching (about 5 seconds in), I wriggled in my seat with glee, squealing and clapping my hands together in a very ‘little girl’ way and I have never lived it down.  I still believe that it honestly merited that reaction. 

Because most frequently, the trailers are needed to ignite the advertising blitz before the picture is finished, you’ll sometimes see footage in them that never turns up in the actual completed film.  Other times, as is the case with the following “Spider-Man” trailer, ‘special shoot’ footage is used.  These are sequences that are filmed entirely for promotional purposes.  This is a terrific example.  It’s clear, though, why they had to pull the ad in September of 2001.

 

For the most part, you can also anticipate what type of trailers you’ll get based on which film you’re seeing.  Checking out the latest Will Ferrell?  You’ll get mostly comedy.  Horror films are led by other thrillers and sci fi pics.  I was bitterly disappointed by the previews that I got in front of “Sin City” when I saw it.  I distinctly remember leaning over to my friend and saying “I better see some Spandex soon or I’m gonna be pissed.”  I didn’t get one stinking super-hero preview.  WTF?  I dont’ know who programmed the trailers into that film but they should be punished.

As a general rule, art house and foreign film previews are never as exciting.  They’re just not brash or coarse enough to make a blazingly good trailer.  Sorry Sweden, France, and Lars Von Trier.  Your trailers just aren’t as good.  And that’s all I have to say about that.

There’s a whole artform and industry that’s grown up around the trailer.  Andrew J. Kuehn devoped Kaleidoscope Films in the late 60’s to create movie ads and it’s largely considered to be the most influential production house and the breeding ground for today’s top companies such as, Ant Farm, Trailer Park, and Motor Entertainment.  It’s a competetive industry and there are two awards that the makers of modern movie trailers can strive for:

The Key Art Awards are all-encompassing and celebrate many aspects of a film’s promotion such as poster art, copywriting, and internet advertising.

The Golden Trailer Awards, as you can probably imagine, focus specifically on the…um…trailer.  Besides awarding different genres of movie previews like romance, horror, comedy, action, etc…they also have really fun categories like best voice-over and best no-budget trailer.  The Golden Fleece Award is given, I’m pretty sure, to the movie trailer that most mis-leads you into thinking that it might actually be a good picture.  Swindled!  Past winners include “8MM” and “Hollow Man”.  Here’s a link to their website:  Golden Trailer

Hopefully next year’s Golden Fleece winner won’t be the following:

Talk about much anticipated.  I’m a bit nervous about it all.  The director is the same one that did “300” which was a beautiful but stupid movie.  I suppose the source material for “Watchmen” is that much better–it could actually be a good film.  I’ll say this, that trailer is wicked.  I especially like the choice of 90’s throwbacks Smashing Pumpkins to set the mood.  Billy Corgan, your whiny vocals promise greatness.  Zak Synder, please deliver.

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The Great Escape

I can’t wait until I’m in a position where I can have a pet.  I’m more of a dog person really, but over the years I’ve grown to appreciate cats.  My sister had a lovely tortoise-shell cat named Scooty a.k.a. Muffin and she was the best.  Really, you couldn’t meet a sweeter little kitty.  She was the type of cat that would greet you at the door when you came home–very social.  So, thanks to Scooty Muffin–God rest her kitty soul– I’m convinced.  Cats may not be the most consistent animals out there, but they are worth the gamble.  I’m at a stage now where in a perfect world where I don’t have a prefurnished apartment and I have enough money to afford the necessities for them, I’d like to have a both a cat and a dog.

The best way to do it, in my opinion, is to march right down to the local animal shelter and start the search there.  There’s always tons of adorable options like this goofball:

Scruffers!

Scruffers!

Or, if you’re looking for a cat, you could take home this little weirdo:

 

Lady Mewington of Fairport

Lady Mewington of Fairport

Or, maybe you’re in the market for something a bit bigger.  Why not take home this lovely lady?

Found rummaging through old pizza boxes in Brooklyn...

Found rummaging through old pizza boxes in Brooklyn...

The point is, there are usually some quality pets you can get for a relatively inexpensive donation at local shelters.  Growing up, both of my dogs were second-hand and they were fan-fricking-tastic. (R.I.P. Wolfie and Duchess).

Still, you should take careful consideration of which lucky pet you are going to adopt..  You should really hang out with the animal for a half of an hour or so before you decide to take it home with you.  Give it a test walk or if it’s a cat, ask for a formal introduction.  Maybe though, just ask if there’s a wee room where you can let it out of it’s cage.  Don’t, under any circumstances, ever take it outside on a leash.  Cats and leashes go together like Moby and Ted Nugent.  It’s just a bad idea.  Today’s great thing is one of my favorite videos available on the web and it serves as a powerful argument to this effect. 

26. Pinky, Pet of the Week

Go ahead and view the infamous clip.  It’s a kind of local television spot for a featured pet at the local shelter.  Good intentions go terribly awry.

 

 

More than just hatred of the leash, I think Pinky had a real thirst for freedom.  Legend has it that he totally made a break for it after shooting this public service announcement and was never heard from again.  (Really!)

I can’t imagine why.  The Placer County Animal Shelter in the sunny state of California looks like an OK place for an animal to remain clean and well fed.  Here’s the website.  Placer

Some beasts just can’t be caged.  Current pets of the week at Placer County include lovely kitties Maryjo and Lorraine.  I can’t stress enough how tickled I am when pets are given common human names.  My friend Paul has a cat named ‘Dave’ and my other friend Jason has a cat named ‘Joan’.  Hilarious.  When I get one, I’m going to call it something like ‘Susan’ or ‘Maude’.  Why they named this cat “Pinky”, I just can’t say.  To state the obvious, it’s an ORANGE tabby.  I would’ve called him Keith or Chazz.

Go back and watch the clip again.  This time, look out for and try to appreciate the shelter employees’ attempts to maintain their cool in a funny ‘he’s not normally like this’ sort of way.  I especially like when the handler says ‘settle down, bud’. 

Only after the cat has thrashed around like a shark on a fishing line does the situation become clearer.  There is, finally, the moment of realization that the situation is desperate enough to warrant a ‘catch pole’.

 

The right tool for the right job...

The right tool for the right job...

 

 And I don’t know what the hell the woman with the cardboard cat carrier thinks she’s going to do.  Christ, woman…Pinky is not having it.  No box can contain him.  She dances around him a little bit trying to kind of blanket him with it.  Useless.  I like it when she realizes her futility and gets the hell out of there. 

Then…the groin attack…twice.  Damn, that cat is ruthless.  Finally, his cool demeanor cracked, the unfortunate Pinky handler mutters “son of a bitch” even if he is polite enough to recover his graces with “excuse my language”.

What follows is a charming little reenactment that someone took the time to post on youtube.  Pretty spot-on in regards to its historical accuracy… A worthy time-waster.

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Lactose Intolerance

Dairy products, like most things are best enjoyed in moderation.  This is something that writer and illustrator Evan Dorkin probably knew when he created the absolutely mad comic strip/book Milk and Cheese.   

25. Milk and Cheese

After all, there have only been seven issues of the comic book to date to be released.  But, to abuse another cliche, all good things come to those who wait.

Brooklyn born Dorkin, which is a just such a fantastic name for a comic nerd, started doodling the characters onto cocktail napkins (seems to be the genesis for so many valuable contributions of society) back in the 1980’s. 

knows that less is more...

knows that less is more...

 

Actually, the character of “Cheese” was born as kind of an in-joke. It was a scribble that he kept taunting his friends with until Cheese was joined by Milk with beer bottles in hand and an underground comic strip was born.  (It should be noted that typically, it’s gin that fuels their violent sprees). 

Right about now, you’re probably completely lost.  Sorry.  I really should have explained this straight out of the gate.  Milk and Cheese are the two temperamental protagonists in the comic strip Milk and Cheese.  They are ‘dairy products gone bad’ and their brief and blood-soaked adventures are also collected in comic book form.   Published by Slave Labor Graphics, only 7 issues currently exist but they’re definitely worth seeking out.  You can kill about half of them by picking up the trade paperback Fun With Milk and Cheesewhich collects issues #1-4.  A near mint first printing of issue number one will set you back 100 smackers anyway.  That’s a lot of cheese!  (Sorry)  To give you an example of the mayhem that the ‘carton of hate’ and ‘wedge of spite’ provide, here’s a splash page from one of the comics.  To offer some–probably unnecessary–exposition, the two have descended upon a ‘furry’ convention.  Furries are adults who like to wear animal mascot-type full body costumes.  It verges into fetish territory.

I should mention at this point that, obviously all these images are trademarked to Evan Dorkin and his House of Fun.

It’s not just the fringe members of society (like furries) that take a beating.  Pretty much everyone has been shredded in the pages of Milk and Cheese from stand-up comedians to street performers to “Star Wars” fans.  I think those three groupings alone cover every single person alive today.  Some people might belong to all three categories.  I do.

In published form, the duo first appeared in a Washington DC area music and culture mag called Greed.  Evan Dorkin has since moved on to writing for mainstream comics publishers as well as television series like “Space Ghost:  Coast to Coast” and the most recent Superman cartoon.  Speaking of cartoons, though there have been offers made, Dorkin hasn’t jumped at the chance to animate his star characters (though he has created other animated offerings–like “Welcome to Eltingville”, which was based on his experiences working at a comic book store).  Why no Milk and Cheese cartoon?  Apparently, he doesn’t think they’d survive the jump.  He might be right.  There’s something about the two bursting out of the illustrated comic book panel that elevate the sadistic comedy of it all.  Any attempt at a cartoon would probably be both watered down and too much at the same time.  Small and fortified doses is how Milk and Cheese work best.

That’s not to say, however, that there’s not some completely bitchin’ merchandise out there.  Check this:

Want!

Want!

Even if it might not make a good cartoon, I think it’d make an excellent video game.  A good old-fashioned side-scrolling martial arts game a’la “Double Dragon” style–with the option of course, for two players to play simultaneously. 

 To wrap up this gush fest, here’s a panel Dorkin created after Bush ‘won’ in 2004:

Too true
Too true…

Oh, and here’s a link to Dorkin’s blog.  It’s a good one.  Dorkin\’s Blog

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Definitely in my top ten websites

As it is Monday when I’m writinig this here blog entry, it seems like a poetic occasion to laud yet another time-killing website.  Today’s great thing is:

 24.  The List Universe

I’ll give you the link in a couple of paragraphs, but let’s have a chat about it first.  This is a website devoted to lists.  Who doesn’t love a list?  I’ll read a list of anything.  This site though, has it down to an art-form.  It’s not solely top tens.  Frequently, they post lists that are a rather random smattering of examples within a category.  For example, they recently had a list called “20 Amazing and Unusual Weather Phenomena”.  But then they go and counter that bit of edutainment with a list of “Top 10 Worst Dolls Ever”.  Fun!  Obviously, they run the gamut.  Even better, they have a random list generator widget on the home page so you can surprise yourself with what to read next.  Tricks!

Because the topics are so varied, I find that it’s a website that renews my interest in the world at large.  No, I’m not particularly educated about or typically interested in the goings on of Palestine, but read about the ten ages of Palestine in a convenient and entertaining list format?  Hell yes!

previously uninteresting

previously uninteresting

 There is an open invite on the site to create and submit your own lists.  But, they’re so good at it, anything I did would pale in comparison.  Here, I’ll have a go just to show you.  Top Ten Smurfs:

1.  Smurfette-for obvious reasons

2.  Hefty–Cuz he’s strong and stuff

3.  Handy–Useful

4.  Brainy–Useful

5.  Jokey–Better to have him on your good side lest you get exploded with a present.

6.  Vanity–Cuz I’m a gay.

7.  Clumsy–Comedy value

8.  Tracker–Because he wears a red feather in his cap

Hates this list soooo much!

Hates this list soo much

9.  Harmony–What’s a world without music?

10.  Sweepy–Because I love Cockney stereotypes

*Bonus Smurf–Brunette Smurfette—Rowr!!!

 

Foxy!

Foxy!

Yeah…that wasn’t so good.  This just serves to illustrate my point that it’s harder than it looks.  Fact-checking is also a must.  You have to be prepared to deal with the input of the readers who can post their dissent and/or their own expertise in the comment section.  You have to have a leg to stand on, in other words. Here’s the website, take a look at how they do it:

The Listverse  Just open up the homepage here and click on one of the lists.

What did you think?  Addictive, yes?

The listverse, it must be said, is more than just lists.  It also hosts forums for hot topics of the day which range anywhere from gay marriage to superhero films and hosts links to a million other amazing articles that they aren’t  responsible for writing but are nonetheless thoroughly enjoyable–a veritable microcosm of other lists.  You’ll find those under “hotlinks” on the homepage.  Today, it enticed me into reading an article about 10 reasons to go gray. 

To be fair, I only clicked the link because I thought it read “10 reasons to go gay”, but I still found it  worthy once I learned otherwise.

Here’s the guy who started it all, Jamie Frater:

Skills!

Skills!

 

A Kiwi who now resides in London, Jamie Frater started the list because like me, he “loves lists and trivia”.

Where our similarities end is besides being a handsome man, he’s also a trained opera singer.  Oh, and actually, up until a few years ago he was actually a software developer.  Oh and he’s a composer now too.  And I thought I was accomplishing alot by keeping this blog updated and working a 9-5.  Fricking geniuses raising the bar for the little bloggers.  Knock me off my high horse why don’t you?  Reading about other people’s accomplishments coincidentally is one of the top 10 ways to deflate your ego.

 Anyway, now that I’ve introduced you two, I hope you happily while away your workdays on the listverse.  You’re very welcome.

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