Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Best Band Name

I started thinking about this the other day when I downloaded a song by I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness. I have a thing about band names. People have always said that you can't judge a book by its cover, but I have a theory that you can, in fact, do just that. I know I wrote about it on my other blog, but I'll summarize it here because I can't find it there. The theory is this: if you like the band name, you are more likely to like the band and its music, because (stay with me now) the band and you think alike-- you both think that name is cool, and so you both might like other things in common. Follow me on that?

Never mind. The point is, band names have come a long way from the Hollies or The Beatles or even Pink Floyd. They are all over the map now. You'll notice, as you peruse the list of some of my favorites (culled off my iPod just now) that I tend to like the longer ones, but I have some criteria for declaring a band name the best that I'll explain more in a moment.

Anyway, here are the ones I like just on the basis of I like them:

The Apples In Stereo
Cake (and there's a story behind why I like that one.)
Dropkick Murphys
The Flaming Lips
Fountains of Wayne
Kings of Leon
Mercury Radio Theater
Modest Mouse
Nine Inch Nails
Over The Rhine
Say Hi To Your Mom
Spinning Jennies

Remember, I'm not saying these are the best bands, just great names for bands. Although since they're all on my iPod I do like them, or at least some of their songs.

A good band name -- not the best ever, but a good one -- catches your interest, makes you think for a second, and, ideally, tells you what category your music is in. Group called "The Killers"? Straightforward pop, right? (Which is why it was so sad that Da BoDeans became The Bodeans, and why Spooner became Firehouse -- and both suffered a little as their name watered down their music.) But "Nine Inch Nails?" You know you're not getting Clay Aiken-stylings there. When My Sister first made a tape for me with a band called "Modest Mouse" I knew to expect something a little different.

But the absolute best is not listed there. The absolute best is not just kind of lengthy (which I like) but also sticks in your head because it's self-contained, and also happens to more or less give you a feel for the kind of music they make: when you say the band name, you get a sense of what kind of music that band should make, and then when you listen to the song, they actually make that kind of music.

I'm talking about Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, which is commanding, and kind of funny, and also captures the mood of their quasi-Talking Head-esque music, which is complex and interesting and also mysteriously upbeat -- like the band name. So Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, you've got my vote for The Best Band Name. To help you agree with me, here's a video for "Over And Over Again."

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Best Mascot, New Nominee

Once a snowball begins to roll, it can't help but get bigger and bigger, and that's how it is working with The Best Of Everything. From humble beginnings (me) TBOE has grown to captivate a readership of... well, dozens. But dozens of very smart, very cool, very hip people who certainly know what they like and certainly know that what they like is, in fact, The Best.

Cool, smart, hip people like Horrorgirl, who in her everyday life is doing the smart thing-- spending most of her time writing the next great horror novel, which she expects to not only be excellent, but also to feature (and I quote) "gore, aliens and sex." So much so she feels it necessary to warn that: "If you are an alien interested in gore and sex, and you are reading this in dismay, my book IS about you."

So, if you are the alien version of Quentin Tarantino, you should perhaps be looking for royalties from Horrorgirl, who you can learn more about by going to her Myspace page. Horrorgirl has not weighed in yet on The Best Horror Movie Ever. I'll be eagerly awaiting that. But until then, we have to be content with Horrorgirl's opinion on The Best Mascot, which she says is:

"those slugs from Santa Cruz." Asked to expound on just why, Horrorgirl replies that she "used to get drunk in Santa Cruz with a bunch of punkers back around 1990. Santa Cruz has a special place in my heart." And she gave me permission to quote it!

So there you have it: A new nominee: the Santa Cruz Banana Slug, nominated as The Best Mascot Ever, and for what might be the best reason ever. If getting drunk with a bunch of punkers isn't a great reason to love a banana slug, I don't know what is. Thanks, Horrorgirl, and good luck on the novel.

This is the Santa Cruz Banana Slug when you're sober:

This is the Slug after a few drinks:

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Best Soda Ever

I drink a lot of soda. A LOT. Soda (pop, whatever you want to call it) takes up a disproportionately large percentage of our grocery budget. That's probably not surprising, since my dad worked for Coca-Cola when I was growing up.

And it's mostly limited to diet soda now, since I lost all that weight in part by not drinking 90 ounces of Mountain Dew per day (which alone would be almost 1200 calories) but there is one soda that I'll drink that's not diet* and which is so good that I buy it only periodically because I like it so much (I've learned that willpower begins in the grocery store, not in the 'fridge.)

That soda is

Honestly, I'm at a loss for words. Do you like those Dreamsicles, or Creamsicles, or whatever they're called (Having checked, it's Creamsicle.) Stewarts has captured that, which means they've captured not just orange, and not just cream, and not just cold carbonated bubbly beverage, but they've captured YOUTH. They've captured a frozen treat on a stick, filled with a surprise of sweet-cream ice cream, melting and ephemeral as you sit on the back porch in the shade taking a break before going back to the world series of wiffle-ball where the crabapple tree is second base and invisible men can steal home. That's what Stewarts has put in a bottle and sells you in a four-pack. It's the Best Soda Ever, not just for the taste but for the memories caught in that taste.

*PS: I know that they offer it as a diet soda, but I think that would take away from the forbidden-fruit pleasures of it. So I drink the regular.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Best Painting Ever

When I was a kid, I remember going to the Milwaukee Art Museum on many a field trip, and each time, I was somewhat mystified by a painting there. I was mystified because I thought "That's not art." I thought "That's nothing." I thought, "I could do that." And I saw it every single time I went there, and never understood why it was art.

This is that painting:

It's called "Red Yellow Blue II" and it's by Ellsworth Kelly.

Later, when I was reading a book -- Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams, if you must know -- I came across a quote that explained to me, finally, why "Red Yellow Blue II" is in an art museum. I'm not going to quote him verbatim here, but the gist of it was that things are genius because they don't seem to require genius. In a discussion about the catflap, a character pointed out that Isaac Newton discovered it and that it was genius because it makes everyone say "I could have thought of that" but they didn't.

So "Red Yellow Blue II" is an artwork that displays that particular kind of genius, the kind that makes you think "I could have done that," but you didn't.

My nomination for the Best Painting Ever is not "Red Yellow Blue II." I'm not as interested in celebrating the quiet, thoughtful kind of genius that takes 27 years to accumulate. I'm interested in celebrating the open kind of genius that demonstrates itself to you right off and makes you want to cry because it's so beautiful, and for that you need look no further than this:

Just sit and look at it for a minute. Look at the way you can see brushstrokes and the colors mixing and the stars are larger than the houses below. There is nothing about that painting that isn't perfect. It reduces its elements to their constituent parts-- you can almost see the atoms that make up the trees and the stars and the house, suggesting that we are all made of the same stuff (right, Moby?) and with the stars being that big he creates the feeling that they are close, they are looming, their beauty becomes almost overwhelming.

But what really gets me is you can see the wind. You can actually see the air flowing around the things in the picture. I don't know why that makes the picture so great, to be honest -- I'm not an art critic -- but it does.

You can't look at Starry Night without feeling the madness and pain and love of life that Van Gogh is expressing, and feel how your own life embodies that painting, too. It takes what everyone thinks of as a quiet, peaceful, beautiful thing, a starry night, and retains that quality while also showing the turbulence that surrounds us even at the quietest times. And that, my friends, is what makes it The Best Painting Ever.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Best Joke, New Nominee

I have to tell you, I think MySpace is a glorious thing. Since I got more active on my site there, I've been getting more hits on these pages and more nominations, and it just keeps going up and up.

Now, here comes yet another disagreement with my opinion (I have teenage kids, so I'm used to that) and a new nominee in the category of The Best Joke Ever. Here is Allex Spires (who right now is featuring the very cool, very classical Brahms Hungarian Dance No. 5 on his profile page) commenting on my nomination (The Monk Joke) and setting up his own favorite for your review:

[When asked whether I could post his nomination on TBOE:] Sure, I don't know how. It's not my joke, however, but I think it's better than the monk, which is great to tell but just pisses you off if you read it.
. . .
From: Allex Spires Date: Jul 6, 2006 7:14 AM I disagree. Funniest joke I've ever heard:

Sherlock Holmes and Watson were out in the woods one night, camping, they had their tent set up and a fire, roasted marshmallows and sang Kum-Ba-Ya or some late nineteenth century English variation, cooked sausages over the open blaze and then decided to go to sleep.

During the night, Sherlock felt a chill and his eyes opened and he looked up, his eyes widened as the night sky so much more pure than in the heart of London, on Baker Street, gazed on him as he gazed up he woke Watson and said, "Watson, my dear fellow!"

Watson woke and asked "Whatever is it, Holmes?"

Sherlock pointed up and Watson exclaimed, "how beautiful the stars are out here."

"What does that mean to you, my dear chum?" asked Holmes.

"Oh, when I was a boy we used to look at the stars," returned the doctor, "we would gaze up and just imagine how insignificant we are and how vast and amazing all of the universe would be. We'd try counting them sometimes but there are far too many. Maybe," he turned and looked at holmes, "in all that vastness there is life on another planet, perhaps looking back at us as we look at it and we'll never know. "

Sherlock Holmes looked at Doctor Watson and said, "no, you idiot, someone stole our tent."

Now, I have in fact heard that the Sherlock Holmes Joke was voted to be the best joke ever but I can't remember where I heard it and I can't find confirmation of that. If you can, let me know, but since TBOE is the official Internet site for determining what is The Best, I can't promise that I'll consider some other source binding. But now you have two nominations for The Best Joke, and you can just hear the world gearing up for this battle.

Monday, July 03, 2006

The Best Disney Princess Ever

Wonders will never cease, it seems. In a short span, this site has begun to attract newfound attention and now, for the first time ever, we have a category that I did not create. From TBOE nominator Susan comes a brand new category, one I wholeheartedly endorse as being suitable for submission to the masses (that's you.) Here is Susan on her nominee for The Best Disney Princess Ever:

I would like to make a nomination for best disney princess ever. [My friends and I have had an ongoing debate about this for a few years now.] The best Disney princess ever is Sleeping Beauty.

There are many reasons for this, first of all, she is one of the classic Disney princesses and was first released in 1959. She is the only Disney princess who is seen most often wearing pink. The movie also has no hidden innuendos in it like "The Little Mermaid" or "Cinderella." (e.g., in "The Little Mermaid" girls are taught to do anything to get the boy and in "Cinderella" children are taught that they should just deal with abusive parents by creating a fantasy world. Sleeping Beauty is also a real princess but she isn't spoiled and grows up living as a peasant, which makes her more appealing. She also doesn't seem to be the main character in the movie, sharing the spotlight with Prince Charming, the fairies, and Maleficent, who is one of the coolest Disney villians. Overall Sleeping Beauty is just awesome and she is definitely the best Disney princess ever.

I have to confess that my favorite of the movies referenced was "The Little Mermaid," which, if Susan's right about the message would be only natural, what with me being a guy and all. But it's hard to argue with her logic, and so there's your newest nominee in your newest category: Sleeping Beauty, the Best Disney Princess Ever.

The Best Horror Movie Ever, New Nominee!

I CANNOT believe it. My opinion is being challenged, and not in a very meek way, either. Susan, who has also weighed in on the best fight scene now has gone and read my entry for The Best Horror Movie Ever and has come up with a
contrary opinion?

So I suppose I'll allow not just nominations but comments and dissents, and I'll post what Susan has to say, and we'll let free speech reign and the public decide:

[responding to my nomination about The Amityville Horror]

Oh man. No way. I have to step up in the name of good horror movies ever and tell you that, that movie and all its sequels and the remake were all horrible. Yes I said ALL horrible. I like horror movies so much its hard for me to decide on just one nomination... Not to mention the fact that there are so many different categories of horror movies. I could probably nominate one from every type of horror movie, but I'll just go with my most recent favorite.

Hostel was an amazing movie in general but it was a really great horror movie. I mean how many horror movies have you ever watched and were actually intrigued by the plot line? Not to mention there were plenty of guts and death to go around and of course enough jumpy parts to make the girls scream in the theater. I just loved it because it actually made me nauseous. :)

To show what she's talking about, here's a clip I pulled:

So there it is. The second nominee for The Best Horror Movie Ever. Like I said, we'll let free speech reign and allow the public to decide that I'm right.

The Best Fight Scene In A Movie, New Nominee!

As this snowball gets rolling downhill, it'll just pick up steam. My excitement, and hence use of metaphors, is because there is a NEW NOMINATION! And not even from someone who's related to me but from a total stranger who nonetheless was cool enough to recognize not just that The Best Of Everything is great fun, but also that she has an opinion and wants it to count.

But enough about me. Let's talk about the nominee and the nominator. Not in that order. The nominator is Susan, who goes by the myspace name [love]slave. In her own words:

"I'm Susan, I'm 19, I work at Shoney's as a waitress, I'm a junior at UNC at Asheville, I love movies and writing, and as far as classification goes, I'd have to say I'm a punk rocker. I think that pretty much covers me."

To learn more about her, go to her myspace page and read about her already.

And now for her nomination. I don't pretend to understand it because I never saw the movie, so I let her know that and she was nice enough to explain it to me. So here is the nomination and her explanation in full:

I think my vote for best fight scene in a movie would be at the end of Fight Club when you get to see all of the fights "Tyler" had with himself. And when he makes the gun be in his hand by believing it.

Fight Club is a movie about a man who is played by Edward Norton, even though that character is never acutally named in the film. At the beginning of the movie aformentioned character befriends a man named Tyler Durden, played by Brad Pitt. They start what will later be called Fight Club by having a brawl with each other outside a bar. Fight Club is and underground fighting/boxing/wrestling league and through this organization Tyler starts building an army. He eventually uses his army consisting of all middle class citizens to demolish all of the credit card buildings in America to erase debt. Toward the end of the movie, the viewer comes to discover that Tyler and Norton's character are really one in the same. Norton's character then has several flashbacks one in particular to his first fight with Tyler outside the bar. In the flashback, he's the only person there and he's hitting himself. He also fights Tyler over the demolitions that are about to occur. When the camera is on the two directly you see both characters, but at times the camera shows the view from either a mirror or a security camera in the building. In these scenes Norton's character is the only visible one. He is even shown dragging himself by his neck down a corrodor. It's a great movie and I think its a great fight scene because its a a physical and mental struggle all at the same time within one character.

So there you have it. Susan/[love]slave, thanks for your nomination, and the battle for the Best Fight Scene In A Movie is on. And, because I could not find a clip of that scene, I've got what Fight Club would be like if it were a romantic comedy:

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Best Horror Movie

Look, I know it's dated and I know that by today's standards there is not enough blood and there is not enough sex and the special effects look like something done with Christmas lights. I know they made it into a crummy remake, too, although I don't hold that against it. And I am a fan of horror movies, and know a little something about horror myself.

I know all that, but I also know this: when I was 12, I first watched The Amityville Horror, the original one, and I saw that Jody The Pig in the window at the end (you've got to look for it) and that night I woke up screaming. And about two years back I watched it again -- the old version, again, bad special effects and all -- with the Older Daughter, and I got scared ALL OVER AGAIN. And thinking about it now, frankly, is a little scary. The babysitter in the closet? The moved carpeting? The blind priest, fly room, the pit to Hell in the basement?


There can be no other choice. The Amityville Horror, the original one, is the Best Horror Movie. Ever.