Thursday, October 22, 2009

For the Ladies Who Rock...We Salute You

I have been contemplating this post for quite some time. I wanted to write a post about girls who rock, because it seems like they are far too few. There are some fantastic female singer songwriters, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell others not named Joan, but they are not what you put on when you wanna "Rock Out" in your pad. Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Diana Krall have some of the most amazing voices ever, but not rock by any stretch of the imagination. The other problem that female rockers unfairly face is that they become a sex symbol, and that sexy symbol status overshadows their Rockerness. No one thinks Bruce Springstein(I am sure there is a better example, but "The Boss" is who I came up with) losses rock credibility because millions of women find him attractive. Some female rockers try to capitalize on this *cough...Pussy Cat Dolls....cough*

Some groups like the The Supremes and many of the other Motown groups come off having too much bubble gum in the their sounds for my rock tastes. Also having a guitar is something of a necessity if you wanna rock. So here are my list of awesome Rocker Girls.

Aretha Franklin-I had actually written a line in the introduction about why she wasn't on the list, but then I listened to Respect and Think and thought about the scene in the Blues Brothers movie, and thought that if Ray Charles would go on my guys rock list because of the way I feel when I listen to Ray, then its only fair to put Aretha on my female list. She does with her voice what a great rock guitarist goes with his six string. Plus she was in Tommy ,the greatest rock opera ever, which was written by The Who so she gets instant street cred for that.

The Donnas-The Donnas do what the Pussy Cat Dolls what us to think they do...nough said.

The Runaways-For those of you who have never heard of The Runaways you are missing out. This was an all-female rock group in the 70s that had Lita Ford, Micki Steele(The Bangles) and Joan Jett in it. This was a band that even the most ardent Jock Rocker would be able to ban his head to. It produced three icons of female rock and is well worth a listen.

Bikini Kill- Hard core rockers from Washington state, that may be the closest XX Chromosome band you can compare to Nirvana. While at the same time starting the Riot Girl movement in music. Political lyrics and feminist themes make Bikini Kill the real girl power band.

The Bangals-Almost didn't make the list because when I listen to most of their popular stuff I think its all pop stuff, but songs like In Your Room made me concede that they earn at least as much rock cred as any new wave band. Plus they have a Runaways alum.

Lita Ford-Slashing guitar that could have made her a stand in for Van Halen any time.

Pattie Smith-One of the first punk rock girls. Blondie and Pattie Smith's solo stuff make her truly hardcore.

Alanis Morissette- As much I and almost every other guy in the late 90s hated her, we can't ignore that Jagged Little Pill was landmark album. And we all had the choruses from this album stuck in our heads for 5 years. She was engaged to Ryan Reynolds which almost kept her off the list, not because I hate him, but because he just doesn't seem like the male equivalent of Tawny Kitaen.

Joan Jett-The ultimate rock girl. When Joan sings "I don't give a damn about my bad reputation." We know she means it. When Avril Lavigne sings a similar sentiment we think she is trying to convince herself far more than she is convincing us. A fun thing to try get someone really obsessed with music talking about girls and rock and when they say "there are no good girl rockers." You say "except Joan Jett." The person will almost always reply "Well, yeah of course I didn't mean Joan Jett" Try it. I promise it works.

There are few names that didn't make it on this list. You are probably asking about Janis Joplin. I was just never a huge Janis fan. I will admit she rocks, because drinking Jack Daniels straight from the bottle is pretty rock n' roll, but I was just never impressed. There are others I am sure, feel free to leave glaring omissions in the comment box.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

15 Thought Evoking Movies

Recently there was a facebook tag rolling around that asked you name 15 movies that meant something to you. You were not supposed to think about it for very long, just type them as fast as you can. I did this, and was really pissed at the list afterward. There where glaring omissions and the inclusions were so weird that the list could have been as bad as the VH1 and Rolling Stone lists(and that pretty bad Rolling Stone left American Pie off of their 500 Greatest Songs list which basically just discounts their entire list). I think what I disliked most about it was the "don't think about it" aspect of the list. That's why so many movies suck, we are not supposed to think about them. I like to think, I like to think about movies. I really enjoy movies that make think about the world differently, or just cause me to become totally immersed in the story. Going to the movies is arguably my favorite thing to do. I love the feeling of the lights going down and the communal experience that is about to take place. I also really enjoy going by myself this ,of course, is one of the things that makes me a total freak. In that vain I am redoing my list of 15 movies, and putting a lot of thought into it.

1-The Lion in Winter: This movie's amazing dialogue, imagine Aaron Sorkin meeting Quentin Tarentino meeting William Shakespeare dialogue. Katherine Hepburn and Peter O'Toole give career performances in the lead roles(O'Toole was robbed of an Oscar by Rex Harrison. Harrison won for My Fair Lady, give me a freaking break). Timothy Dalton and Anthony Hopkins give strong supporting performances. This is a movie that was ahead of its time in terms of theme and pacing.
2-Lawrence of Arabia: Peter O'Toole is far and away my favorite actor and his work will feature prominently in this list. Lawrence is a movie that everyone should see. You will find no better use scenery in storytelling. O'Toole's T.E. Lawrence is one of the finest performances ever caught on celluloid.
3-L.A. Confidential: This movie works on so many levels its hard to describe. The captivating detective story, the complex relationships between people and the imagery of what lurks beneath the surface of all that glimmers. The ensemble cast is simply amazing. The symbolism in this film is nuanced enough that you can re watch it over again and always find something new(pay attention Guy Pearce's glasses when he wears them and when he doesn't).
4-Pulp Fiction: One of the first movies that I watched over and over again, trying to understand what was going on. Its a tapestry whose characters are deep and layered. Its dialogue is crisp and clean. Its soundtrack alone is reason to watch this film. It also two Hollywood icons giving two of their finest performances John Travolta ashit-man Vincent Vega and Bruce Willis as the aged boxer Butch.
5-The Ruling Class: One of the funniest films I have ever seen, and I am one of the very few who have ever seen it. Peter O'Toole plays an English Lord who is convinced he is God, he goes around telling everyone to love one another and preaches peace. This of course means he is a total whack job. This film is an inspired satire of the British class system, and religion. My favorite line is when a women asks O'Toole how he came to know he was God he replies "I realized when I was praying, that I was talking to myself." Highly recommend this film to anyone who loves a smart comedy.
6-The Great Dictator: This showcases the many reasons I love Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin plays Hynkel the dictator of Tomania who bears a striking resemblance to a certain German world leader of the 1930s. Chaplin(who wrote, starred and directed) crafted a magical satire of The Third Reich that infuriated some, scared others and kept thousands in stitches. Its humor as social commentary at its best.
7-The Departed: I love Martin Scorsese. When Maggie and I first moved to Salt Lake I was unemployed, and waiting to start the Police Academy. I watched this movie almost everyday and sometimes twice a day. This made me go a little crazy, but it also made me dissect it(a common symptom of growing crazy is dissecting Mark Wahlberg movies). The themes of identity and fatherhood play heavily in this crime drama. I love the performances and dynamic use of angles and shadows to set the mood of the story.
8-The Godfather(and part II): I really shouldn't even have to list this, its obvious this is one of the most perfect films ever made.
9- Match Point: Woody Allen's comedies are some of my favorite shut in day movies. This drama however had me completely captivated from opening till close. The telling of hard work vs chance make for an intriguing tale that keeps you involved.
10- Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang: Not many people saw this noir comedy, and that's the real crime. Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer both make this movie one of the funniest send ups of Hollywood I have ever seen.
11-The Sword and the Stone: King Arthur was one of my favorite childhood games, in large part because of this film. The Aurthur legends are filled with rich storytelling, drama, and idealism. The animated classic is perfect to watch when young and realize none of us know if we have a king inside of us. As you grow older it connects you with how heavy life can feel, as young Arthur first w deals with weight and responsibility of being monarch so must we all wear the crown of our adulthood.
12-Ratatouille: I love to cook. This movie about reaching for dreams and finding the art inside yourself made it my favorite Pixar immediately. Ratatouille not only teaches us about reaching beyond our grasp, it highlights the art of food and challenges us to find beauty in strange places. The fact their was no verbal communication between the two principals of the movie only add to the depth of involvement we feel watching this "not just" for kids movie.
13-A Christmas Story: This is the only movie that broke my Christmas Movie Time Line Law(Thanksgiving night through New Years Day). Every child(and me to this day) has something they want for Christmas that at some point the are completely convinced they are never going to have. You begin to ponder what life on the 26th will be like with out that special gift, and its a depressing world. Then the magic of finding that gift early in the dark hours of Christmas morning give you the kind of rush you can only have at Christmas.
14-Bowling for Columbine: This movie is a truly amazing piece of cinema. I feel bad for people who think they know what it is, but have never seen it and thus have no clue. Michael Moore asks the question "what makes us America so violent?" This movie is not anti-gun as Fox Noise would have you believe. In fact Moore makes the point very clearly that guns are not the problem. That lots of countries have guns, but are less violent than America. He delves into everything that was blamed for the Columbine attacks, the music of Marylin Manson, violent video games and movies, to guns themselves. He notes that the morning before the shooting the two students went to their bowling class, and asks if we blame all of these other things why not bowling. To anyone with pre-conceived ideas about what this movie is I say see it first, then think, then judge.
15-Star Wars: I watched this and Indiana Jones almost exclusively for several years of my life, and can still answer most of life's questions be referring to Star Wars
15-Indiana Jones: My list I can have two number 15s if I want. He's the reason I love wearing hats, and that I am terrified of snakes.

There are many more that could be on this list. As soon as I post this 15 more will spring to mind.