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JG2’s Toppest Albums & Singles Of 2014 (Annotated Edition)

I only continue to do this because Village Voice forces me via the Pazz & Jop ballot. The 2014 lists are dedicated to young one Rik Mayall. Rik, your death continues to fill me with profound sadness.

JG2’s TOPPEST ALBUMS OF 2014

1. Babymetal – BABYMETAL

Who knew Kawaii could save metal from itself? Japanese school girls bring ABBA-esque melody and untold charisma to extreme rock’s grim battlefield, setting off an hour that would wow Francis Scott Key. BABYMETAL is the year’s black and blue dance party pinnacle.

2. Run The Jewels – RTJ2

Another swift upper cut from the dynamite Killer Mike + El-P combo. No time wasted, so space misused, so very authentic. Any other rappers who might brag about “teabag[ing] a piranha tank” would be laughed off the Internet. Extra points for the Zack De La Rocha cameo.

3. Cannabis Corpse – From Wisdom To Baked

Death metal and pot have paralleled each other in ascent to the mainstream, so perhaps death metal about pot was inevitable. A hilarious grind even if you’ve never cradled a bong or owned Eaten Back To Life on vinyl.

4. Riff Raff – Neon Icon

All the benefits of cotton candy with none of the hangover. Sealed his place on this list the second he referenced Mario Kart in the slippery party starter “Kokayne.” What a crime that song wasn’t released as a single.

5. Ghostface Killah – 36 Seasons

“Staten Island ain’t the same”; thankfully Ghostface is, which means we’re in a renaissance. This hip hop + soul gumbo simmers on the stovetop. You can feel the heat but it’s oh so comforting.

6. Brody Dalle – Diploid Love

If Dalle is looking to secure a Joan Jett legacy this is a rabbit kick in the right direction. Feisty, self-assured, endlessly anthemic (thanks mostly to Brody’s smoky vocal heft). Extra points for the Shirley Manson cameo.

7. The Oath – The Oath

Roaring doom rock worthy of soundtracking your next exorcism. Johanna Sadonis’s ghostly wail has a numbing effect, which is perfect salve for the sonic panzer behind her. Unfortunately, these evil nieces of Heart have already broken their Oath (the band dissolved last year).

8. Nashville Pussy – Up The Dosage

Meanwhile, below the Mason-Dixon Line, gnarly shit-kickers tell it like it is, even when it doesn’t benefit their agenda (see “The South’s Too Fat To Rise Again”). If rock is dead Nashville Pussy’s trying to punt the corpse, and that’s plenty entertaining.

9. Del The Funky Homosapien – Iller Than Most

Technically a mixtape that Del himself described as “nothing super heavy,” but Iller packs plenty of finely focused disco robot punch. The Homosapien flow slips and slides all over, never going off track, occasionally offering refreshing candor (see the Beastie Boys shout out).

10. Blood Red Shoes – Blood Red Shoes

Delightfully growling and disaffected effort from this Brit pop garage duo. May not be their strongest composition-wise but it sets a fine mood (if you enjoy standing in moderate rain at the bus stop).

JG2’s TOPPEST SINGLES OF 2014

1. Riff Raff – “Tip Toe Wing In My Jawwdinz”

Captures all the bleary intrigue of staying awake until sunrise.

2. Brody Dalle – “Meet The Foetus/Oh The Joy”

A cold, futuristic ballad whose melancholy crashes into nihilistic punk sneer.

3. Run The Jewels – “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry”

This density traps you under its rigid thumb, slowing you to an intense crawl.

4. Nicki Minaj – “Anaconda”

To paraphrase J. Lydon, don’t accept the old order, destroy it.

5. “Weird Al” Yankovic – “Handy”

If Al decided to focus on nerdcore rap I don’t think any of us would complain.

6. Primus – “Pure Imagination”

Just demented enough to satiate.

7. RHCP2014 – “Abracadabralifornia”

Jon Daly gets the Chili Peppers in his cross hairs and I shit myself laughing.

8. Sia – “Push (Feeling Good On A Wednesday)”

More uplifting than a “South Park” spin-off has any right to be.

9. Kidz Bop – “Wrecking Ball”

This is probably how Disney era Miley would have approached it, right?

10. The Oath – “All Must Die”

Sexy swagger de la muerte.

Unsolicited Musings On Humanoids From The Deep

– answering the question: what if Creature From The Black Lagoon combined elements of Jaws, Alien, and Halloween without managing to be more entertaining than Grease 2 and also there’s a ventriloquist?

– it’s astounding how many dead dogs this movie serves up in the first 15-20

– it’s astounding how this movie portrays ventriloquism as an aphrodisiac

– Doug McClure isn’t the most swashbuckling hero but I was with it until they put him in a hooded rain slicker; suddenly he’s the sad child waiting at the bus stop, fighting back tears because Papa won’t take him to “Barney: Live”

– disturbingly realistic: the gore; disturbingly unrealistic: tie between the dj who cannot correctly pronounce “salmon” in a town whose entire economy appears salmon-based (maybe that’s performance art, who knows) and the kids who go sunbathing at a beach in Washington state mid-Autumn

– you gotta respect the fact that once a character gets a black eye they keep it for the rest of the movie (Anthony Pena takes so many shots to the face by the end he looks like a rotten plum)

– I’m surprised Ann Turkel’s infamous “I’m a professional scientist!” line has never made it to a t-shirt

Humanoids From The Deep is a dramatic and evocative title but a more accurate one would be Rapist Cabbage People vs. The Noble Indian, Sex-Crazed Teenagers, & Other Cinematic Stereotypes

– it’s a shame this was one of Vic Morrow’s final movies; at least he commits, and I’ll be damned if his perm + creeper mustache combo ain’t happenin’

Unsolicited Yule On “Christmas At Pee Wee’s Playhouse”

– this special has a higher rating on IMDb than Home Alone, proof Chris Columbus faulted by not hiring Charo to play Macaulay Culkin’s mom

– Spellcheck knows “Macaulay” but not “Culkin”

– it’s just now dawning on me that despite his physical adultosity Pee Wee Herman is supposed to be a child and therefore lacks the maturity to always make correct judgments or decisions; it helps to consider this when viewing, for one minute PW is telling us that giving to others is the real meaning of Christmas and the next he’s enslaving Frankie & Annette to draw his Xmas cards so he can play in the snow with Magic Johnson

– every celebrity you’d expect to appear on a Pee Wee Herman Christmas special from 1988 does: Cher, Little Richard, Dinah Shore, Zsa Zsa Gabor, the Del Rubio Triplets, k.d. lang, and Grace Jones (who arrives en route to a White House visit; because she is Grace Jones, however, she is traveling via the U.S. postal system in an oversized Christmas present box; probably cheaper than a plane ticket)

– similarly, every “Playhouse” regular you’d expect to appear does: Pterri, Randy, Chairy, Floory, Konky, Miss Yvonne, the King of Cartoons, Reba, Cowboy Curtis, Clocky, the Countess, Cool Cat, Chicky Baby, Dirty Dog, Penny, the dinosaurs in the wall (who are Jewish!), and of course Billy Bologna (my personal favorite for reasons I will never be able to fully convey/understand)

– this is the tv special that birthed the famed “Feliz Navi-blah” exchange; Ricardo does a great job keeping his patience as Pee Wee butchers his native language (does PW even go to school or is he just another dirty uneducated backwoods truant?)

– there’s a scene where Randy, the obnoxious marionette whose usual rap is cruelly teasing Pee Wee/the Playhouse denizens, attempts to make a point about the commercialization of Christmas; PW counters with something like, “Fine, then we won’t give you any gifts!”, which prompts Randy to backtrack; I don’t know why I expected PW to acknowledge Randy’s point or allow the least likable character to engineer a teaching moment, I don’t even know why PW lets Randy live in his Playhouse when all he does is disagree with and shit on everyone else (I have to assume they’re brothers and they were willed into joint ownership of the Playhouse)

– Joan Rivers cameos for a nanosecond from the set of “Hollywood Squares,” the only indication all of this is taking place in “the real world”

– Little Richard should have received an Emmy/Golden Globe/extra pinky ring for his dramatic “I quit ice skating!” speech

– the climax of “Xmas @ PWP” occurs when Santa Claus shows up to basically announce he’s canceling Christmas because Pee Wee asked for too many toys; this could have been the tipping point for PW’s transformation into complete sociopath, but (SPOILER ALERT) the man-child quickly remembers “the true meaning” of 12/25

– at first the fruitcake jokes seem like they aren’t going anywhere, but trust me, they pay off in a marvelous visual gag

– they should have added another hour to this gaudy cheese-fest and released it theatrically in place of Big Top Pee Wee

– if you’re forcing a grade out of me, how about A for vision, B for execution

– speaking of execution, I’d like to see Randy die in the electric chair

Unsolicited Bantha Poodoo RE: The Star Wars Episode VII Teaser

– they’ve finally discovered the best way to move a robot around the desert: glue it to a beach ball

– every single film made in this day and age must feature a sequence that takes place in the rear of a cargo plane; if you don’t like it, move to Siberia

– yo, that girl is driving a giant stick of deodorant

– yo, that lightsaber has a mustache

– YOU WANTED THE BEST YOU GOT THE BEST THE HOTTEST SPACESHIP IN THE GALAXY THE MILLENNIUM FALCON [guitar solo]

– can America accept a Millennium Falcon with a square satellite dish?

– no shot of C-3PO clasping hands w/ Chewbacca a la Predator?

– this entire movie might take place in one afternoon on the last day of school (excuse me, the last day of space school)

– overall these table scraps make Star Wars 7 look reasonably exciting; guess I should start working on the Bib Fortuna costume I will wear when I camp out for opening night

– on the other hand, if I find out Max Rebo isn’t in this I’m switching to Battlestar Galactica (the original, with Dirk Benedict)

Station Identification

My name is James Greene, Jr. (please, call me James) and I am a freelance writer. My work has appeared in such storied publications as Crawdaddy!, Orlando Weekly, New York Press, PopMatters, Splitsider, Geek Monthly, Nerve, and Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader. I also wrote the liner notes to Gluecifer’s best of/rarities album Kings Of Rock (currently out of print).

The one book to my name is This Music Leaves Stains: The Complete Story Of The Misfits. Please to be consulting the This Music Leaves Stains F.A.Q. for pertinent details. According to the Austin Chronicle I “pull no punches” as I “accurately and respectfully” relate the tale of New Jersey’s most celebrated punk rockers. According to Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster my book is good enough to photograph yourself with at an airport.

Personals: I was born and raised in the southwest corner of Connecticut, the Nutmeg State. Oh, what a state of nutmeg in which we lived and breathed. Brooklyn, Albany, and Florida have also been home. I’ve never been married and I’ve never owned land. I’ve also never had my tonsils out. I had a dog once. Her name was Minnie. I fed her carrot sticks.

I have a BA in organizational communication from the University of Central Florida. Yes, the college where they shot “Superboy.” Somehow Disney still reigns as Orlando’s most popular tourist destination.

You can hear the sound of my voice on Yaxzon Jackson, the podcast wherein I discuss Michael Jackson’s Dangerous with Rollie Hatch.

That’s all for now. Thanks for visiting.

Unsolicited Blah Blah Blah On “The Larry Sanders Show”

– following my umpteenth multi-season binge I have to lock “Larry Sanders” in as my second favorite tv program ever; it pulls off the show-within-a-show concept masterfully, presenting top tier Hollywood parody along side deft exploration of humanity’s awkward, painful flashes (Garry Shandling says “Sanders” is really about people searching for love, and he’s right)

– my first favorite tv program ever is “Space Ghost: Coast to Coast,” which takes the “Sanders” concept and swaps humanity for outer space-themed absurdity (elsewhere in my top five: “The Simpsons,” “Duckman”)

– for a program that ran from ’92 until ’98 it’s hard to sniff out any super dated aspects of “Sanders”; that said, it’s trippy to see the episode where they let a pre-“Daily Show” Jon Stewart take over for Larry and he runs everything into the ground, considering he did the exact opposite in real life

– I’m never prepared for that Garry Shandling/Roseanne make-out scene, and I mean that in the best way; you really get caught up in their attraction (similarly, the Mary Lynn Rajskub/Jeffrey Tambor kissing scene that you expect to be weird turns out very sweet)

– so many great little character flourishes pop up once and are never mentioned again, like Artie’s enjoyment of Pod era Breeders and the fact Paula cuts Darlene’s hair

– watch this show for too long and your head will reverberate with all of Rip Torn’s thunderous growling

– my brain would collapse into its own black hole if you asked me to name my favorite “Sanders” guest star; David Duchovny’s up there, Roseanne’s up there, Bruno Kirby’s up there, Paul Mooney, the Butthole Surfers, Wu Tang Clan, Kevin Nealon…I can already feel neurons dying

– if the holodeck from “Star Trek” was real I’d spend a stupid amount of time lounging around Larry’s office

– my favorite line from this series and possibly from television as a whole is when an exasperated Larry tells Artie, “You know, talking to you is like talking to you”; that’s a top three contender for inscription on my headstone

Unsolicited Musings On GTA V

– my roommate acquired a secondhand copy of this game recently and invited me to play it “whenever”; this is a dangerous thing to say to an underemployed freelance writer

– for all of GTA V’s realism and expertly rendered landscapes it’s still just a dumb video game, something outlined clearly when you want your character to jump a fence but it’s too high so his gangly body just slams against it like a fish out of water (another good example: get enough cop cars chasing you and the game becomes The Blues Brothers in terms of police vehicles soaring through the air and recklessly slamming into things)

– every in-game radio station plays the same five or six songs over and over and over again, which is very true to life

GTA V uses the T.S.O.L. song “Abolish Government/Silent Majority” on one radio station, but considering the objectives of the game maybe they should have gone with “Property Is Theft?”

– I’ve never been to L.A. so I can’t speak to the accuracy of the game’s Los Santos facsimile; it seems legit, but at the same time certain portions appear to be modeled after specific blocks or areas in other lesser celebrated cities, which maybe the designers did on purpose re: hometown pride?

– the coolest auto I have grand thefted so far is a lifeguard’s pickup truck, which is the closest GTA V comes to offering an Ectomobile (yes, I know there are codes/mods you can put in to make an Ectomobile, but come on, I’m a thirty-five year old ex-gamer who dipped before Super Nintendo came out, I’m lucky to have figured out what all the XBox buttons do)

– according to this game there are vicious mountain lions waiting just off the California freeway, desperate for their next taste of human flesh; if they ever make GTA Connecticut they’re gonna have to change that to deer ticks

– one thing you definitely cannot do in GTA V is throw it all away to become a dancer; you can go into the strip club but you cannot climb up on the stage to show everyone your stuff a la Magic Mike, which is total fucking bullshit and forces me to give this game a C

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