Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Best Sing-Along-With Singer

I was, to go with this post, hoping to put in a video of Donald Faison singing a Neil Diamond song, because he actually does an amazing impression of him. But I couldn't find one. Why has nobody posted that?

The video I have might be better, though, because it provides the original Neil and a snippet of each song. And you're probably humming along and you would be singing along except that you're at work and can't let people know that you're not actually working on your TPS reports. But you will be singing those songs, as soon as you can and each time after that that you listen to a Neil Diamond song.

There can't be anyone in the world more fun to sing along with. He's got nonsense lyrics ("And the tune can be sung and the words all rhyme, deedle-lee dee dee deedle-lee dee dee deedle-lee-dee,") he's got soaring choruses ("Pack up the babies and grab the old ladies 'cause everyone goes,") he's got rhythm, he's got guitars, he's got more nonsense lyrics ("And no one heard at all not even the chair") and most of all he's got

That VOICE! That Neil Diamond voice that echoes and resonates and is shouting and crying and laughing and you just want to imitate it and make it your own, don't you? Has anyone
ever listened to a Neil Diamond song and not tried to sing like him? No way.

I was making dinner one night a few weeks ago and "I Am I Said" came on my iPod and I couldn't help it, I tried to sing it like Neil and had a great time. And I do everytime it comes on. Right now, you're thinking of doing that: "She got the way to move me, cherry!"

So go ahead and do it. I'm sure Neil won't mind. We'll never sing quite like him, but we'll never quit trying.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Best Album

I thought about starting off smaller, like I did with Elvis. Or sub-dividing into "pop" and "rock" and other categories, but then I thought, Why not just go for the gusto. Why not just ride my own melt and name the best of all time.*

And maybe there can be some debate about this, but I don't think so. I've heard The White Album. I've heard Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. I've heard Abbey Road (and once wrote a novel based on that album in a weird way.) I've listened to Dark Side of the Moon. I never thought much of The Joshua Tree, and in fact thought Rattle & Hum was better (I know, heresy, except that Rattle had a more visceral feel to it and took more chances. It holds up better to repeated listenings.) And that seems to be the list of the albums people would put up here if they ever bothered to nominate something. (You hear that, people? Nominate something! Between Saturday and today, 8 people looked at this but didn't comment or nominate or anything. Don't be shy.)

So I've considered alternatives, and I always come back to this:


I got this album as a gift from my uncle for my birthday back in what must have been 1987 since it came out in 1986 but my birthday is in January. I kind of liked Paul Simon a little, and I liked the song "You Can Call Me Al" off this album, and my uncle (who was living with us) must have been at a loss for what to get me because this was an unusual choice. But I loved it the minute I heard it, on cassette (this was the 80s) and I loved it every single time I listened to it since then. I've got all the songs memorized. I know them in the order they appear.

This is one of the few albums, there's maybe three, that I've liked every single song on and kept liking them. The weakest song ("Under African Skies") is still better than the best on most other songs. It manages to be unique and new 20 years later, and the African and zydeco beats and influences don't come off as just gimmickry. Plus, it has "Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes" which is both romantic and sweet and bouncy and should, by rights, have been a great hit but never was for some reason. And it has "Graceland," which should be the first song on any drive mixtape (or mix CD or mix playlist) because it not only has a good beat for driving but it's about driving and it fits any drive anywhere because Graceland is a metaphor. Or not, because once when I was bored and stressed and depressed all at the same time and listening to this album, I decided I would go to Graceland, and did that.

Graceland. By Paul Simon. Go buy it now. It might not synch up to The Wizard of Oz, and it didn't spark any rumors that (this) Paul was dead, but you'll never get tired of listening to it.

If you want to listen to parts of it, and haven't yet heard any of it (and how could that happen?), you can check out snippets here. I have no idea (yet) how to stream an album or even if that's legal, so if Paul Simon reads this and wants to give me permission to do that, let me know. And if anyone who's not Paul Simon knows how to do that, let me know that, too.

* From the movie "Reality Bites." Those of you who read my Myspace blog know (now) that I have a personal bias against Ethan Hawke that stems entirely from this movie and the fact that he was supposed to be some kind of hero in it, so I'm co-opting his stupid catchphrases for my own. The actual whole quote is: There's no point to any of this. It's all just a... a random lottery of meaningless tragedy and a series of near escapes. So I take pleasure in the details. You know... a quarter-pounder with cheese, those are good, the sky about ten minutes before it starts to rain, the moment where your laughter becomes a cackle... and I sit back and I smoke my Camel Straights and I ride my own melt. Got that? "... ride my own melt." Like that means something.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Best Happy Celebrity

So not to make this about my adventures in blogging and programming, about which you would be better served reading Thinking the Lions or my Myspace blog (not that they talk about that too much, either, but those are more about me and less about thing that are The Best) but I spent way too much time trying to format this one today. I wanted it to be a column of pictures on the left and the words on the right.

It won't be, because I can't figure out how to do that and I do have a life. All of which is secondary, or tertiary, to the actual point of this nomination (and remember, these are nominations so far, although if nobody else ever nominates then I will be the last word on what is the best) which is to put up a nominee for the Best Happy Celebrity.

She is pretty. She is also a good actress, from what I've seen of her, which is not much. I've seen her in the Slither previews. I guess I saw her in Seabiscuit but I don't remember that. She was in The Heights, which I'll never see. And I saw her in The Forty Year Old Virgin (you can get a brief glimpse of her in the trailer below). And most recently, she was in what will probably be the last episode of Scrubs, where she didn't laugh or smile as much as she had in Virgin but she still did a fair amount of that, and as I was watching that episode, I thought to myself,

Is there a celebrity anywhere who has as charming of a smile, as engaging of a laugh, as invitingly warm body language as Elizabeth Banks? Just seeing her smile makes you want to be in on the joke and smile with her. She deserves more fame than she has, I think because she does a good job of acting, but more because it's just fun to watch her be happy on the screen.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Best High School Mascot

sA while back, I began a project of collecting t-shirts and sweatshirts from schools with unusual mascots -- unusual being by my designaton, of course. So far, I've got UC Santa Cruz's Banana Slugs , the Tarheels, , Pittsburgh State's Gorilla's,, Richmond's Spiders, ,and the Hodag from Wisconsin ,

These are all very unusual, I think you'll
agree, when compared to the usual Spartans and Warriors and Eagles.

But the king of them all I finally got just this last year. The best, weirdest, most perfect mascot of them all. Perfect because it stems from the name of the city, and best because it's so exactly-the-opposite of awe inspiring that it comes full circle back around to inspire awe in a weird, anti-matter way. I couldn't find any logo or mascot or team, so I'll have to go with this:

The Rock Island Rocks.

Don't you love it?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Best Rock & Roll Song

The music speaks for itself. But if I had to add something, and I do, because that's the rules of this site, then I'll say this: First, it's about sex when you're seventeen -- and everything is about sex when you're seventeen. Second, it's got the best guitar riff ever. And third, it's about sex when you're seventeen.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Best Celebrity Baby (Right Now)

This is an ongoing debate Sweetie and I have, because she very much likes the celebrity magazines and she's always pointing out celebrity babies. I enjoy them to a much lesser extent, and get a better kick out of people making fun of famous people. Or making even more fun of them.

So the other night we're watching VH1's "Celebrity Babies 2006" (which may not be what it was actually called) and the debate began again about which baby we thought was the best. Britney's baby was roundly panned, for example. We debated the rest, and I weighed in with the one I'm going to nominate:

Little Apple Martin.

How can you NOT like that? Look at her: big forehead, slightly googly eyes, a worried/serious expression. She's the best. No other celebrity babies come close. And I don't even like her parents, or think they're particularly good looking. And it's not that Apple herself is good-looking (sorry, baby). It's just that she's the best, hands down, because she takes all these features that on their own would be nothing, or even ugly, and makes them cute by their conglomeration.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Best Fight Scene In A Movie

This one's for the Boy, who came up with this category. Although he hasn't yet told me what he wants to nominate, so I'm entering my own nomination.

There was really only one good thing about the sequels to The Matrix, and that one good thing came in Matrix: Reloaded. That one good thing was the fight between Neo and the many Agent Smiths. (And Agent Smith made a great villain, probably in the top 10, so maybe Best Villain should be the next category?)

But the Agent Smiths fight was great because it not only was a great fight with martial arts and street fighting, and overwhelming odds, but those odds were all made up of the same guy and it didn't look fake in the least. I think the Many Smiths fight led to the use of one guy as the Oompa Loompas in Tim Burton's remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, so it also was a groundbreaking piece of filmwork. But besides that, there is just something so cool about the wave of Smiths ebbing and flowing at Neo and him trying to fight them off, their skill and their numbers, until he has to flee. So that's my nomination for the Best Fight Scene In a Movie: Neo vs. Many Smiths.

(And some people agree with me!)

And Thanks To IFilm for the Video!