12.19.2011

The Best of 2011: Movies

This year I saw a lot of bloated garbage. Truth be told, I enjoyed a lot more old movies this year than I did new ones. I don't know why; movies sucked this year maybe? I don't know. Anyways, long story short, I saw 4 movies this year that I actually liked. Here's a breakdown of them in about 1 or 2 sentences:

Bridesmaids
At first I hated it. Then I talked to people and realized I was stupid. It's pretty good, right? Melissa McCarthy is the best.

Martha Marcy May Marlene
I love cults. I love movies about cults. I love this movie.

The Muppets
Loved it. Loved it. Loved it. I smiled the whole time I watched it. Everything about The Muppets was charming.

Cedar Rapids
There is no movie this year I quoted more, re-watched more, and wished I'd owned on DVD more than Cedar Rapids. I love this movie. I want to watch it tonight again.

Movies I still want to see:
Tabloid, Into the Abyss, Terri, Win Win, and maybe if I get around to it, I'll eventually see Drive.

The Best of 2011: Podcasts

This is a new category this year! 2011 was officially the year I stopped listening to music and started to get heavily into radio programs. 2011 will forever be the year I became the lamest shit in the universe. Whatever. DON'T CARE. Podcasts have given me a new way to be an introverted, antisocial shell of a human being and I am okay with that. In the event you're old or a dum-dum or you just have no idea what the internet is, a podcast (shorthand for...uh...iPod broadcast? Podular Casticulitis? I don't fucking know, and I'm sure as shit not going to put forth the effort to Google it. Nothing about The Skip-Raid has ever been about education or bettering yourself, so you're going to have to go elsewhere for news and functional thoughts).

Anyways, here are the podcasts that I listen to with such frequency that I could probably categorize them as religions on my yearly census form.

8. The Tobolowsky Files
Here's a fun fact! Ned Ryerson from Groundhog Day has a podcast and it's incredibly entertaining. Stephen Tobolowsky has been in just about everything (including a one-episode role in Community as the professor who teaches the Who's The Boss class). All this podcast is is an hour or so of Tobolowsky talking about something that happened to him on a movie set, which would seem pompous and boring if it weren't for Tobolowsky's incredible gift of charming storytelling. He is so good. I like to put on The Tobolowsky Files when I need to fall asleep; his voice is so reassuring (I think it's because he's from the South). Anyways, Stephen Tobolowsky is easily one of my favourite people in the whole world and I just love that he's making an oral record of his time in Hollywood.

7. Doug Loves Movies
I am not a stoner. I love Stoner King Doug Benson. Doug Loves Movies is very simple: Doug gets a few friends together and they talk about movies in a live club setting. The odd time he records them without an audience, and these are my favourite episodes. I don't know what's wrong with me - I just hate hearing an audience. I think it's because I usually laugh at the things no one else laughs at, so I get stupid judgmental when the audience laughs at something and I think "That wasn't even that funny...". Plus when he records in a studio, I think he's higher, which makes it much funnier. Oh, Doug Benson, you chubby drug-addict, I love you.

6. This American Life
I SWEAR I'M NOT ONE OF THOSE!!! I used to think that people who listened to TAL were total boring pieces of crap who loved the smell of their own farts; then I finally listened to an episode (thanks to CBC Radio 1 airing it on Sunday nights at 11:00pm) and I am in looovvvveeee. Oh, Ira Glass. Ira Ira Ira Glass. You adorable bespectacled smart urban chosen person. TAL is really lovely EXCEPT when they get people on who tell stories in that weird, drawn-out breathy way? "Thattttttt....was the final.....time....I saw....my.....faaaaaather....at the...chicken..raaaanchhhhhhh".

5. Superego
Oh boy, do I ever love talking about Superego! Except that it's SO DIFFICULT to explain, but I'll try:
- 4 comedians
- all good at improv
- I think a lot of the sketches are improvised?
- good guests (Patton Oswalt, Andy Daly, Paul F. Tompkins)
- they do a lot of fake commercials?
- it's only 30 minutes long - give it a chance.
- IT'S THE FUNNIEST, SO START LISTENING TO IT OKAY?

4. Mohr Stories
My friend Tim got me on to Mohr Stories, Jay Mohr's podcast that he records from his house. Jay Mohr is the craziest guy; he started doing stand-up when he was like 15 or something, did SNL, accidentally fell into acting, got Jerry Maguire, got Picture Perfect, was supposed to be the next big thing, didn't, sort of fell into obscurity, did a great show that nobody watched called Action, does stand-up again. But he is the cutest, sweetest guy who has all these stories about acting and his family and how he was a dickbag when he was drinking (he's sober now), how he's constantly scared he won't get work. Plus, here's something I bet you didn't know: Jay Mohr is one of the best impressionists you'll ever hear. He is SO GOOD. Also I think I fell in love with him when he had Kevin Nealon on and he was talking about SNL and Nealon kept being like "what are you talking about? I don't remember that sketch..." and I was like "I DO! JAY, I KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT!!"

3. How Did This Get Made?
This is the best idea for a podcast and OF COURSE it was made by Paul Scheer (you genius dum-dum who is funnier than I'll ever be). Paul Scheer, June Diane Rapheal, and Jason Mantzoukas talk about a shitty movie. They usually have a guest (my favourites have been Adam Pally and Kumail Nanjiani) and the movies range from truly shitty classics (Battlefield Earth) to current crappy bombs (I Know Who Killed Me). It's always funny, even though sometimes you get 4 people talking over each other and you want to yell ONE AT A TIME into your speakers.
The first one you should download: The Mac & Me episode. HOLY SHIT.

2. How Was Your Week?
I just discovered Julie Klausner, and that makes me feel like a stupid shit. How did I ignore HWYW for as long as I did? Oh yeah, because every time I was in iTunes I'd go "Girl Podcast? NEWP. See you never" which is wrong and stupid (but also a little true. I mean, I tried to give The Apple Sisters a chance, and that's something I deeply regret). Anyways, Julie Klausner is very funny, very Jewish, very into The Real Housewives of EVERYTHING, hates Patti Stanger, loves basset hounds, knows a lot about Broadway, and has funny friends and gets good guests. Also she never sucks up to her guests, which is something I really enjoy. Anyways, Julie Klausner is my new idol and I look up to her like a big sister. PSYCHO!

1. Sklarbro Country
HENDERSON!!!!!! OSBALDESTON!!!! Folks. If you happen to be a citizen of the calming shores, then I don't need to explain to you why Sklarbro Country is on this list. I don't need to explain why it's number 1 on this list. I don't need to explain to you why you should donate money to Earwolf Studios to keep Randy and Jason recording podcasts for the next 10 years. I don't need to explain avalanches, punched waterfalls, racist Vin Scully, Randy Moss's dog, the 11's and 12's, Bruce Jenner, Sam Elliot, "Ziggy played the Sklar", Monday Night Jihad, brief obsessions with LA Law. In the event you have no idea what the hell I'm talking about, Sklarbro Country is twin brothers (Randy and Jason Sklar) and they talk about stand-up comedy, sports, and indie music. Look, I hate sports as much as the next sport-hating hateful sportsmonger, but this podcast is so easy to listen to. You don't need to know anything about sports; you just need to know what's funny. Get on the iTunes and download as many episodes as you can. Immediately.

Best of 2011: Television

Some people are movie people and some people know everything about music. I am proud/ashamed/back to proud again that I know as much about television as a million Wikipedias. I love television. Be it crappy, shitty, campy, stupid, low-brow, I think you get where I'm going with this. So here is a list of the television shows I couldn't do without this year. Please note: 30 Rock isn't on this list. IT KNOWS WHY (it sucked hard this year is why).

11. Any show about Kardashians
Ew ew ewwwwww I can't believe I'm saying this, but this year I really got into Keeping up with the Kardashians. What the hell is wrong with me? I'm not a stupid person. I'm not obsessed with celebrities or tight dresses or hair extensions or listening to people speak as if they're emerging from a coma. But for the love of god, I totally got into the unholy army of attention that is the Kardashian family. I cried while watching all 4 hours of Kim's pretend-fairytale-princess wedding.

10. The League
I wasn't sure that I'd like The League. I started watching it because it has a few of my favourites in it (Paul Scheer, Jason Mantzoukas, Nick Kroll), but it's about fantasy football, which is...you know. But it's so funny. Seth Rogen finally made our Dirty Randy dreams come true (above) after a million jokes about a character that I was sure didn't exist.

9. American Horror Story
Thought it would be lame; pretty much awesome. I like to describe it as Twin Peaks on a McDonalds budget. It's so stupid and campy and the acting - DIOS MIO - the acting!!! It's SO BAD. But it's enjoyable and dumb and scary.

8. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
...will always be on this list. Always.

7. Happy Endings
I was seriously the biggest Happy Ending bigot you'd ever meet. I didn't know it, I didn't want to know it, I thought it was dumb, I hated Casey Wilson. My friend told me to keep watching it and give it a chance. After watching 3 continuous episodes, I'm really into it. Hell, even Elisha Cuthbert is growing on me (and everyone knows she was the WORST part of the show. Now she's getting better). I like it. I don't mind that it's the show that bumped Cougar Town. I want it to stay on the air.

6. American Dad!
American Dad will always be funny to me, even though it's a Family Guy spin-off. It is, and it isn't. It's barely a Family Guy spin-off; the only real similarity is that Brian the Dog talks and Roger the Alien talks. But Roger the Alien is one of the best characters on television and HE ISN'T REAL. I watch the show just for Roger now (well, and Francine. And Steve and his friends. And when Roger dresses up as Martin Sugar. Oh god, I'm laughing to myself now). Anyways, you're probably not even watching American Dad and that's alright, because some of us are and we're a very loyal legion of dorks and will never let this show get canceled, so you can totally start watching any time you want.

5. Angry Boys
I got so obsessed with this show. It's so good. Well, some parts are lame - I don't totally love S.mouse. Actually, that's not true - I love S.mouse's interactions with his father and girlfriend. And I love when he's driving through the ghetto blasting Slap My Elbow and the thugs walk over to the car and they peel away and he mouths "what the fuck". Also I hate Chris Lilley for making me laugh at this show one minute and then cry the next. OH GOD, GRAN! When Kerri-Anne died - ugh. I'm a loser, this just in.

4. Parks and Recreation
This season gave us Tammy 1. Also it gave us Tammy Zero. Holy lord, WHY DON'T MORE PEOPLE LOVE THIS SHOW AS MUCH AS ME?!?! Fuck, let's continue this conversation below, shall we?

3. Community
Speaking of shows people don't love as much as me...Community: The show that is almost canceled! Lord love a duck, how is it that people haven't fallen in love with Community? Oh wait, I know - it's the same people who nominated Zooey Deschanel's riveting turn as Jess in The New Girl for a Golden Globe award. EW EW EW EW I HATE PEOPLE. If you want to know why Community is so good, go to the YouTube and type in Community + Kiss From a Rose. Oh god - HOW DOES IT ONLY HAVE 35,000 VIEWS?!?!?!?

2. Breaking Bad
I didn't put a picture of the show because - really - how can you beat a picture of Aaron Paul dressed as a chicken and Bryan Cranston dressed as Tio Salamanca? You can't, good answer. So this year I flip-flopped on Breaking Bad pretty hard. The first part of Season 4 was terrible - I think Bryan Cranston was given far too much creative control. But then the last half of the season? Holy shit, no spoilers, but WHAT THE FUCK, GIANCARLO ESPOSITO?!?!?!?!?! God damn. Give that man an Emmy. Give him an EGOT. I don't care. He's the best. Anyways, it would have probably been given the #1 spot if it weren't for all the splotchy episodes in the beginning.


1. Louie
Yep. We all know this show is incredible. Just start watching it if you're not already, okay?

Honorable mention:
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
Every fiber of my being feels regret when I turn on the TV and dedicate 1 to 2 hours of my life to this show. It's the SAME DAMN SHOW EVERY WEEK. Sad family is sad, Ty Pennington gets drunk and crashes his car into their shitty house, Ty announces he's building them a new house, sad family goes to an ABC-approved vacation destination (aka Disney World), crew spends thousands of dollars turning their house into lots of painted plywood and black and white photographs and shit with family trees, sad family comes home, MOVE THAT BUS!, sad family's dreams have come true, I cry on my couch into a bowl of Doritos.

Of course this list does differ a bit from last year. What's missing?
Law and Order: SVU
It was well-publicized that 2011 would be The Year Without a Stabler. Me no likey. SVU is Detective Elliot Stabler, and Detective Elliot Stabler is SVU. Now SVU is a bunch of new cops, barely any Ice T or Richard Belzer, Olivia Benson has been scaled way back, and no Chris Meloni. What a shame. That show could have gone on forever (thanks to nutcases like me who love to watch new ways for network television to be creepy and disturbing while maintaining a PG rating). Instead this season will probably be its last. Dear NBC: if you cancel SVU, please just make a new show called Stuffy Cops Learn About Internet Sex Stuff that Teenagers are Totally Doing (But Probably Not). "Hey chief, take a look at this. Turns out kids are using games like Angry Birds to create fake online avatars where they live out sexual bird-themed role-play. It's nothing but a new way for predators to get their rocks off".

Dragon's Den
If you're American, you know this show as Shark Tank (which - really - is it even on anymore in the US?) But in Canada we have Dragon's Den and it used to be my favourite show...until...they totally replaced one of the judges with this new guy who is a total wet blanket. And also Robert Herjavec is growing out his hair and it looks SO GROSS.

Cougar Town
PLEASE CANCEL 'THE NEW MANIC PIXIE DREAM GIRL HOUR WITH ZOOEY DESCHANEL' AND BRING BACK COUGAR TOWN.

12.12.2011

I went on vacation; here are my thoughts.


So you might have noticed that I have been absent lately (BAHAHAHAH who am I kidding? No one noticed this.) The reason for me being MIA has been a terrific combination of laziness, business, and going on a vacation. Unlike my sister, who goes on vacation like it's her job, I never leave my house. It's just that I'm not particularly enamored with the idea of traveling. Besides, is there anything more douchey than when rich white kids talk all wanderlusty? "You need to attend the school of life and get your degree in world cultures. This year I'm taking 3 months to get my masters in Exploring the Streets of France". That's cool, but if I don't show up for work, I don't get paid, so I can't exactly leave town for 6 weeks. Am I jealous? No, I have Google street view; I've seen everything I need to without the smug attitude that comes with saying "You haven't lived till you've seen the sunsets of the Serengeti".

Anyways, my idea of a vacation is absorbing as much low-brow culture as possible; I think that's why I love Florida so much. Is there any other state that fully embraces how trashy it is? I feel like if you called Alabama or Georgia 'a pile of garbage', some native would go "Hey, come on now, Atlanta just got that new contemporary art museum, so that ain't so bad." Meanwhile, if you said the same thing about Florida, the response would be "Hell yeah, we're trash! Fucking proud of it! I ain't putting on pants just cause it's my daughter's wedding. Fuck all y'all snobs." And yeah, I love this. I love how self-aware Florida is. I love how I feel both totally unwelcome and embraced with both arms wide open every time I visit. I like Florida because I fit in; I want to surround myself with other trashy people and eat at Cracker Barrel and we all look around at each other and think "There isn't nobody in here with a proper haircut; we're all in this together." Also, fat people.

I hadn't been on a vacation in over a year, so I decided to take a week off work and go somewhere with a guy I just started seeing. I was told this would be either the best idea or the worst idea, but really - who cares? I'm not donating a kidney. This time I wanted to branch out and go somewhere different than the East side of 'Merica; I know the South inside and out, and I could probably drive Florida with my eyes closed, so we decided to find the second trashiest place in the U.S. and settled on Las Vegas. Spending a week in Las Vegas is enough to drive anyone to kill themselves (especially in this post-The Hangover world we live in), we also decided to visit Los Angeles. All in all, we put our feet in three different states: Arizona (for like 30 minutes), Nevada (the biggest little eyesore in America), and California (home of former disgraced Governor Arnold "Jingle All the Way" Schwarzenegger). Here is a summation of my vacation:

DRIVING
We flew into Las Vegas, but after that we drove everywhere. Rental cars in the U.S. are so cheap, I cannot wrap my mind around it. It cost us a little over $100 for a week; that's how much I'd pay to rent a car and drive up to my parent's house in Northern Ontario for a day. For an extremely busy pedestrian city like Las Vegas, driving was super smooth and easy to do; there is literally no traffic in that city. Thousands of cars, no traffic. I guess good city planning? We drove out to the border of Nevada and Arizona, drove to the Hoover Dam, drove to Los Angeles. The drive to LA was amazing; tons of mountains and deserty-things, but I'll talk more about that later. Okay, so everyone talks about how driving in LA is insane and those people are 100% correct; you cannot fall asleep when you're driving in Los Angeles or you will get rear-ended or crash into a Starbucks or run your car off a cliff like the wheelchair kid in Mac & Me. Luckily we drove like Mad Max the whole week and never got into an accident. I know that people joke about the traffic in LA a lot, but it wasn't really ever a huge issue (this could be because Toronto is a nightmare when it comes to traffic, so I'm used to it).

THE DESERT
I always thought it would be awesome to drive through the desert, so we made our way west on a small highway. The trip took something crazy like 6 hours, but it was worth it because I saw a cactus (you know the kind that look like a person with their hands in the air during a bank robbery?) We also drove through Joshua Tree National Park and I saw snake holes. Also there was snow on the ground in some parts. I know, right? WTF. Also everything looked like Road Runner. I felt like I was in a cartoon.

FOOD
Santo dios. We ate a lot of food out of trucks parked in parking lots. All of it was delicious. I want to live my life forever eating out of food trucks. I ate a Pogo that was just cheese. JUST CHEESE. I ate a bun with mac and cheese in it. I had fish tacos from Mexican ladies. Also I drank my first Four Loko; Jesus Christ, I have never drank anything so disgusting in my life (and I LOVE the taste of cough syrup).
I also tried In-and-Out burger for the first time in my life too; this is a big deal, since cheeseburgers are my favourite food and I consider myself to be a bit of an expert. I will say this: I liked In-and-Out, but they're no Burger's Priest.
For the first time in my life I saw lemons and oranges growing on trees, on people's front yards no less! It was really remarkable and made me feel like a child discovering something for the first time. I felt bad taking fruit off people's lawns, so one night I crept up to a house and ripped some oranges off a branch and ate them in the car. Here's the thing about oranges straight off the tree - they're not really sweet. They taste more like orange bathroom cleanser. They smelled wonderful though.

WEATHER
It was always about 20 degrees in Los Angeles. I can't believe that. I'm used to 0 degree Decembers.

RADIO
There are like a million Spanish stations and the rest are good rap stations.

CHRISTMAS

Everyone was buying real-live Christmas trees and everyone's house had tons of lights on it. And if you don't celebrate Christmas, there were tons of glitzy Hannukah decorations on everything. LA is a very festive place for a city that doesn't get any snow.

CELEBRITIES
I honestly don't care for celebrity culture. Actually, scratch that - I fucking love it, especially bony junkies like Lindsay Lohan, but in regards to getting star-struck over people, I just don't. I'm more likely to get star-struck over character-actor Stephen Tobolowsky than George Clooney. So I wasn't actively looking for celebrities while in Los Angeles (and really - would that make for a boring-as-hell trip or what?). But I did see some people that I thought were cool.
Mike Tyson - I physically bumped into him by accident because I'm a clumsy asshole. I am taller than him, which felt super weird, because I always imagined he was 7 feet tall.
NeNe Leakes - NeNe was staying at the same hotel I was, which made me feel very fancy. Because if NeNe Leakes doesn't represent class and elegance, then I don't know who does. I felt a little star-struck over NeNe because people know how I feel about the Real Housewives franchise (aka I LOVE IT). I considered asking her for a picture, but then decided to bask in her glamour from afar while I checked in.
Patricia Field - There was a gala (EW) at my hotel wherein the biggest celebrity there was Kendra Wilkinson (so, the saddest event ever) but Patricia Field was there taking pictures with people and she looked so happy and adorable. I hope I'm her when I'm old (her, or Betsey Johnson).
Amanda Bynes - I'm pretty sure it was here, but it could have been someone else who's had too much work done for someone under 30.

That's about it. I have a post about Vegas slot machines soon and will also be talking about two 'Merican foods that I found totally unnecessary (aka Total Necessary). Peace!