Sunday, December 26, 2010

Daniel Radcliffe and the Burgeoning Career

My sole experience with Harry Potter is the Harry Potter movies, and I’m totally ok with that as long as there are still Harry Potter movies coming out. I mean, I’d rather watch the films subjectively as films rather than having to compare them to the books. The problem with this is that I find that my liking of the movies pretty much depends on how much specific characters show up.  I love the Harry Potter for the three following reasons.
1.       Alan Rickman
2.       Gary Oldman
3.       Emma Watson
But mostly just the first two reasons: I will never be satisfied with the amount of screen-time Snape or Sirius Black gets, especially now that Sirius up and got murdered by his bitch cousin Bellatrix Lestrange, which, on a related note, I should say I don't really care if Voldemort is defeated in the final movie; I just want to see Bellatrix wiped off the face of the fucking earth in the bloodiest way possible. Watson I mostly just like cause she looks cute and has smart costume design. 

So, what about Harry Potter? Y’know, the title character of the entire series? Well, he’s alright. I like him enough that I’m interested in what’s happening, but Radcliffe is far more interesting to me as a future actor than as Harry. I can’t wait for his next batch of movies because he’s proven time and time again that he’s not afraid to try new things. Example number one: Extras

Example two: He did horse porn. And by horse porn I mean he posed naked with horses. Stemming from an acclaimed role as a stable boy in Equus in which he briefly appeared naked with horses, Radcliffe agreed to pose for an Anne Liebovitz book named Nude. Did this have a negative impact on his career? Not at all. He’s Harry freaking Potter and he posed stark naked with a horse for the sake of art? Somebody give that man a medal. He had the audacity to risk public disgrace and ridicule for art. That takes some balls (no pun intended). What other cards does Radcliffe have up his sleeve? For all we know, he could be the next Dennis Hopper just waiting for the next David Lynch to cast him as that deranged, pimp monster with mommy issues.  

Werewolves ain't got shit on Radcliffe.
Example three: as mentioned earlier, he’s appeared on stage, but I didn't mention that one of those plays was The Play That I Wrote directed by the almost always wonderful Kenneth Branagh (one of the better things my parents introduced me to). I’m impressed by anyone who can do stage work, but  the fact that he went on to take on more challenging roles (i.e. horse obsessed stable boy) makes Radcliffe even more impressive. Plus, a play directed by Branagh? That’s gold for just about anyone.
The list goes on and on… He spent sixth months working on an Australian accent for a movie he joined specifically because he wanted just a supporting role in a movie. For sweet’s sake, his favorite band is The Hold Steady, a band that played mostly drunk in Columbia, Missouri just a couple of weeks ago. Prepare yourself, world, Harry's gonna take over, and it's hopefully going to be awesome, or at least moderately entertaining and enlightening.    
Joel Samson Berntsen (Kim & Jesse - M83)

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Year in Review: A Complicated Viking Tale...'s 2010 Music Lists of Lisztomania

Top 10 Albums of the 2010 (according to me)

10. The New Pornographers - Together
9. Vampire Weekend - Contra
8. Yeasayer - Odd Blood 
7. Robyn – Body Talk
6. Best Coast – Crazy For You
5. Sleigh Bells – Treats
4. Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
3. LCD Soundsystem - This Is It  
2. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Before Today
1. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Noted albums I have not listened to: Drake - Thank Me Later, Joanna Newson - Have One On Me, Girls - Broken Dreams Club EP, Wavves - King Of The Beach The Walkman - Lisbon, or Deerhunter - Halycon Digest. Forgive Me.

My 30 Favorite Songs of 2010

I'm New Here: also the winner of Best Album Design.

I'm going to try to add more as the week goes on as to why I've picked these songs, but for now I'm just trying to get my official list out there before before music juggernaut Pitchfork publishes their best songs of 2010 list. Here's mine...

30. Little Lion Man - Mumford and Sons
29.  Need You Know - Lady Antebellum
28. Bottled In Cork - Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
27. Written In Reverse - Spoon  
26. Dancing On My Own - Robyn
25. I Feel Better - Hot Chip
24. Zebra - Beach House    
23. Beverly Kills - Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti  
22. U Should Know Better - Robyn (Feat. Snoop Dogg)
21. Not In Love - Crystal Castles (Feat. Robert Smith)
20. Cousins - Vampire Weekend
19. Janelle Monáe (Feat. Big Boi) – “Tightrope”

18. Only Girl (In The World) - Rihanna
17. Drunk Girls - LCD Soundsystem
16. DJ Got Us Falling In Love Again - Usher
15. In The Sun - She & Him
14. Fever Dreaming - No Age

13. Weekend - Smith Westerns 
12. We Used To Wait - Arcade Fire  
11. Afraid of Everyone - The National  
10. Hell Of A Life - Kanye West

There's a weird moment when hearing a track for the first time when there's an "oh maaaaann this is amazing" moment, and then the chorus comes in with "no more drugs for me / pussy and religion is all I need" and then Hell Of A Life becames one of the top songs of the year. And it just gets better with each listen. The beat, the song, Kanye West... I think I just fell in love with a Superstar.

9. Shutterbugg - Big Boi
8. O.N.E. - Yeasayer
7. Rill Rill - Sleigh Bells
6. Boyfriend - Best Coast
5. Hang With Me (acoustic) - Robyn
4. Round and Round - Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti
3. Dance Yrself Clean - LCD Soundsystem
2. Runaway - Kanye West 

Without a doubt I believe that Runwaway is the most important song of 2010, and on top of it being the most important it's also totally fucking awesome. It's an anthem of redemption, and it's an anthem for anyone who's ever fucked up. The fact that the full version is nine minutes long doesn't even bother me. It's one of those songs that applies to pretty much everyone, but still feels deeply personal every time it pops on.

1. I'm New Here - Gil Scott Heron

Never in my life have I had such a personal reaction to song. It's my favorite song of 2010 because it's the most personal song of 2010, at least to me it is. It's not the "applies to almost everyone song" that like Runwaway; it's a song that feels like it was written to me. The first time I listened the it I almost cried. The second time I did cry. It's that rare instance when a song gathers so much meaning over your life that it's scary, and in three minutes and thirty-three freaking seconds. What more can I say? I cried. The End. 

Joel Samson Berntsen (Pretty Girls Make Graves - The Smiths)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Guitarist Johnny Marr Repudiates British Prime Minister's Right To Enjoy The Smiths

British Prime Minister David Cameron apparently loves The Smiths, and Modest Mouse, and Johnny Marr. From the various heated responses to this news it seems like it's something similar to if Glenn Beck said he liked Radiohead.

Hopefully, he's better than Beck, but I have no head for politics, so I'm not even going to head in that direction. 

But it does seem like Cameron has decent taste, at least according to this brief anecdote from Neil McCormick (via The Telegraph): "When I ran into David Cameron at the BBC once, I asked him what was the last CD he bought. Without a moment’s hesitation, he named a new album from an obscure American band called Modest Mouse, who had been working with Morrissey’s old Smiths’ collaborator Johnny Marr (who played every date on Red Wedge’s original tour). I am not sure what credibility it gives him to tackle global economic meltdown, but he is certainly the hippest party leader."

As Jack Torrance would say "Heeere's Johnny!"
I don't know what's weirder, a musically hip politician or the fact that Modest Mouse is "an obscure American band". 

Johnny Marr's reacted on his twitter saying "David Cameron, stop saying that you like The Smiths, no you don't. I forbid you to like it." Hilarious.

Cameron said at an earlier date, in response to the news of his Smiths love  “I’m sure when Morrissey finds that he’s getting an endorsement from the leader of the Conservative Party, he will think ‘Heaven knows I’m miserable now’. But I’m a big fan, I’m afraid. Sorry about that.”

Well, no real conclusions from this except I really enjoy British music, my parents really enjoy British Television, and David Cameron really enjoys Johhny Marr, as does composer Hans Zimmer who tapped Marr to play guitar for the Inception soundtrack. Actually, real conclusion: Johnny Marr is the secret ingredient that helps ignite moments of creative genius i.e. The Queen is Dead, We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank, and The Inception Soundtrack. Cheers, Johnny.

Joel Samson Berntsen (Objects Of My Affection - Peter Bjorn & John)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Glee-fully Oblivious: The Bad Riddle of Glee

Glee. It's getting hard to ignore.

It seems I might be late for the topic, or at least the party, but really I was the first one there. I just realized my driver took me to the wrong address.

Preferences aside, the show's been making some big waves lately, and it's kinda confusing. On one hand, the show's been generating a lot of  "positive" press around the episode "Never Been Kissed" and it's confrontation of Bullies. On the other hand, the show's been generating a lot of "negative" press around the "photo scandal" in the last issue of GQ.

It's polarizing, but helps illustrates the enigma of Glee. Glee has undeniably awesome moments: some of the dance numbers, Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch), and just little quirky movements like when we're told that macho, jock Puck eats TV dinner with his single mom and watches Schindler's List every Wednesday night. But the rest of the show, in my opinion, is a muck of uninspiring storylines, stereotypes, and gimmicks.

I want to peg the show as a safe, moral heavy programming preaching the values of diversity to the teens of America, but I can't. I can't because there is too much random, "inappropriate" crap thrown at the viewer: pot-laced brownies, premature ejaculation, scissoring references, and how internet porn changed how women view guys.

"I didn't want to do a family show," said Glee creator Ryan Murphy. "I wanted to do my version of a family show. But we try to be as responsible as we can, because we know some young people watch. Some of the humor goes over their head, hopefully." Wait, what?

Glee puts on a good act of posing as the model show for American teens, it's central audience, by preaching about societal norms and stereotypes. It looks good to say, it's wrong to bully people because they're different than you. And I fully believe and support that belief, but I don't believe the show does, or at least it's audience. 

The main people I know who watch the show are: 1) girls, who like popular songs and hot guys; 2) gay men, who also like popular songs and hot guys, but who also enjoy the subtext that being gay is okay.

Most of the comments I've heard from teenage girls either revolve around the how hot a guy is, the relationships, or... the songs. But mostly just how hot the guys are. I've never heard any comments whatsoever about how the latest episode of Glee really helped change Sara's mind about the whole verbally-degrading Margret-thing. Truth be told, teenage girls are some of the most discriminating people I've ever met.

Shows have to maintain their audiences, and for Glee to keep their audience hooked (teenage girls and gay men), they have to continue catering to those specific demographics. This means more top 40 tunes, more shirtless guys, more gay. There's a reason why the first episode of bully-centered conflict themed episodes  was centered around Kurt, the central gay man from Glee Club.   

So it's a little odd when GQ, a magazine directed towards strait men, does an article called "Glee Gone Wild" and conducts a photo shoot where Lea Michele and Dianna Agron, the two main female leads of Glee, show off panties, bras, and catholic school-girl skirts. Oh, Cory Monteith is featured too, but he's dressed from head to toe. Somewhat understandably, parents and others are "enraged" by the shoot.

The Parent’s Television Council president Tim Winter responded with the following: “It is disturbing that GQ, which is explicitly written for adult men, is sexualizing the actresses who play high school-aged characters on Glee in this way. It borders on pedophilia. Sadly, this is just the latest example of the overt sexualization of young girls in entertainment."

It strikes me as hypocritical that Monteith is completely clothed, but when the main audience is adult men, it's hard not do focus on the target audience. Sound familiar?

Glee is a slave to their audience. GQ is a slave to their audience.We're all slaves to our "audiences".  They support us, and they love us, but they have specific image of how we need to act and what pleases them. This in itself restricts creativity. If the audience is maintained, why risk change?

This is why the main reason why Glee is stifling to me. They're doesn't seem to be any major effort to make any potentially, risky moves. It's the same storylines, the same conflicts, the same reltionships. They're just rebranded.

"I hate Rachelle now. She went back in time," said a friend of mine recently. "She's just like she was at the beginning of the first season."

I liked the photo-shoot. Lea Michelle and Diana Agron used sex appeal to promote Glee, but more importantly themselves. As Ryan Murphy responded to the photoshoot saying "That photo shoot was not about the show. It was about the individuals in the show. They were actors, off the set, being personalities."

For me, that's a huge relief. Lea Michelle was in the original Broadway Spring Awakening. She's got talent. I can't wait for her to do other work besides Glee. The same goes for Agron, especially after discovering her response to the whole photo ordeal on her tumblr.

"For GQ, they asked us to play very heightened versions of our school characters. A 'Hit Me Baby One More Time' version. At the time, it wasn't my favorite idea, but I did not walk away. I must say, I am trying to live my life with a sharpie marker approach. You can't erase the strokes you've made, but each step is much bolder and more deliberate. I'm moving forward from this one, and after today, putting it to rest. I am only myself, I can only be me."

I'm very appreciative of that last line, and that she explains her actions, but still endorses and defends her actions. Upon exploring her tumblr further, Agron gets even better: Tom Waits videos, Wayne Coyne rolling over audiences, Christoper Walken, and she regularly makes playlists like this:

  1. The Whitest Boy Alive - Burning
  2. Empire of the Sun - Walking on a Dream
  3. Ray Charles - What’d I Say
  4. Chairlift - Bruises
  5. LCD Soundsystem - Dance Yrself Clean
  6. The Kooks - Naive
  7. The Virgins - Rich Girls
  8. The Black Keys - Tighten Up
  9. Phoenix - Armistice (Yacht Remix)
  10. The XX - Islands
  11. Florence and the Machine - Dog Days Are Over
A girl after my own heart.

Moral of the story: I don't like Glee; it's a bad riddle of content, but I do like the people on the show and I do enjoy an occasional risque photoshoot with famous women. 

Bonus Track:  Paul_Dini on twitter: "So the GLEE kids all sing & dance flawlessly yet are supposed to be losers. What race of atomic supermen is their competition?

Joel Samson Berntsen (I'll Be Your Mirror - The Velvet Underground)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

We Are All Andy: Toy Story 3 & Class 2010 Plus: Animated Daycare Prison Break-outs

"Mom, can't I blog about connecting with thousands of teenagers before I clean out my room?"
Toy Story 3 marks a movie experience that will never be replicated for the people of my exact age ever again.

What I mean by people of my exact age is people who belong to the class 2010. People who graduated from high school in spring 2010 and that were entering college for the first time. The central story of Toy Story 3 is about Andy going to college for the first time, and the main majority of my peers in the class of 2010 were gearing up to do the exact same thing.

We, class 2010 millennials, were in the exact same situation as the main character of the number one animated movie of all time. We completely identified with Andy. We were all the same age. We were all going to college. We were all having to say goodbye to our brothers and sisters, clean our rooms, throw out old stuff, and dealing with gettting older.

"It's so sad" and "I cried so much" were phrases I heard from almost anybody that saw the film. Well, I heard those phrases mostly from girls, but still, regardless of gender everyone I know my age identified with the film on some level. A movie of that magnitude, one of the most anticipated sequels to the films that we grew up on, defined us as a generation, our generation: we all were the main character, we were all Andy. Really, we were. Everything fit, we all felt the same.

This will never happen in such a specific way ever again. Sure, we might identify with a father or mother figure in a movie in twenty years ago because that guy or girl is going through the same tough life issues we are, but nothing on such a universal level like this will ever happen again.

I'm so amazed I was part of something so big. It makes me want cry. It almost made me cry in theaters, but my girlfriend was there though, so, y'know, I just kept my tears in my eyes.

Let's Get All Steve McQueen in this Joint
Moving apart from the once-in-a-lifetime part of Toy Story 3, I'm going to talk very shortly about why I love the film so much: the main, physical conflict in the film is a prison-breakout story. Woody's gotta bust his pals outta da' joint. It's even got the classic character of the worn-out oldie who knows all the prison tricks, who decides to give Woody the low-down on the prison in hopes of achieving some sort of self redemption.

It's almost always awesome to see a good 'ol prison breakout, and when Pixar's crafting the details, it's better than an afternoon of old Steve McQueen movies. Who wouldn't want to see Woody stealthily slinking about a prison daycare breaking out his pals?

Also, the giant one-eyed baby doll, Big Baby, pretty much serves as the Leatherface of Pixar: it does whatever Lotso (that pink-bear, gangster overlord) wants it do, it's not the brightest toy in the bunch, it's damaged goods, and it's undeniably freaky. I've overheard moms complain about how their children were scared of that baby. That's because it's the modern incarnation of Leatherface. 

In conclusion, I love Toy Story 3. It's rad.

Joel Samson Berntsen (Aquemini - OutKast) 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Cool Guys, Cool Suits: Revisiting Inception

It's like if Alfred Hitchcock directed Inception!

I was oddly harsh on Inception the first time I watched. I liked it, but I had all these crazy expectations for the film and when it didn't fulfill all of them, I left feeling somewhat disappointed. So, it's weird when, after just watching a restyling of a trailer, that my opinion of the entire movie has changed. Sure it's just flashing all the cool parts of the film, but still, after reflecting on the highlights in retrospect, it's a pretty damn cool movie, even if Leonardo DiCaprio is in it. I'm also oddly harsh on Leo. I don't know why exactly.  I really hated Shutter Island. That may be why... I should consult Freud.

Also, everybody runs around in fancy, expensive-looking suits. Suits make just about anything look cool.Why do businessmen dress in suits? It's because they want to look cool all the time.

It's actually more of a red-brown color.
On another related note, I really like Joseph Gordon-Levitt's red leather jacket in Inception. There seems to be a reoccurring theme of me liking red clothing items lately. Maybe it's a fashion trend. And I mean fashion trend on a global level  more than a personal one. Like maybe Italian Vogue announced that this year's color was red. It could happen.

Lastly, my favorite scene from Inception! It's just like a five second scene, but when Joseph Gordon-Levitt kisses Ellen Page in the corporate lobby:  Arthur: Quick, give me a kiss! [She kisses him and then looks around] Ariadne: They're still looking at us. Arthur: Yeah, it's worth a shot. There's an intimacy to that scene. It's sweet, and it sticks in my mind.

 And I think we'll end this one with another video, on a slightly funnier note:

Joel Samson Berntsen (My Sharona - The Knacks)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Zombies And Dictators And Busts, Oh My

I have a thing for Che Guevara memorabilia. I think I might go broke after I found THIS.

In other news, I missed the bulk of The Walking Dead premiere, but I am glad to hear it's not only a smash hit, but also AMC's biggest premiere ever with 5.3 million views. 

The Walking Dead is a damn good comic. AMC produces damn good shows. It's nice when things just work out magically.

In other notes, I watched about fifteen minutes of the the Rocky Horror Glee Show. It was terrible. I wanted to shoot myself. Based on my limited knowledge of the show, I feel I alone could have drastically improved the episode, both with script and with casting of Glee characters as Rocky classics, but I might just be an asshole. But, seriously, why wasn't  Lea Michele cast as Columbia?

Based on what I've discussed with people who are both Rocky and Glee fans, it seems like everyone else thought it was pretty sucky. Missed, butchered opportunities. Tisk, tisk.

Also, did you know the Richard O'Brien (Riff Raff) is the voice of the dad on Phineas and Ferb?

Joel Samson Berntsen (Mr. Ambluence Driver - The Flaming Lips)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

On a Halloween Related Note, It Is Like a Werewolf Transforming Minus The Fur

Please watch all of this video. Please. I promise it's worth it.

On a sidenote, Some slightly more personal posts are in the close future. I just need to motivated myself to finish them.

Matt and Kim have a new album coming out called Sidewalks. I really like the cover to it, and the font. It looks really nice. I'm a font geek.

Joel Samson Berntsen (No P***y Blues - Grinderman)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Conan O'Brien & The Blog Promoted Viral Video of Exploding Testosterone

The moral of the story is I'm a sucker for explosions and promoting TBS.

Joel Samson Berntsen (Changes - David Bowie)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Two Strangers Bonding Over a Love of Burly Man Comics

One night I walked past a group of kind of hard-core looking guys smoking hash at a fountain. One of them had a awesome Wolverine t-shirt on.

"Cool shirt," I said.

The dude looked like he was going to kill me.

"Are you serious?" 


His face went from contempt to a long look of puzzlement to a big, goofy grin.

"Thanks dude."

Dudes don't like having there shirts insulted.

A form of this cover was on his shirt.
  Joel Samson Berntsen (Lola - The Kinks)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Banksy Devises Darkest Simpson's Opening Ever

A very dark Simpsons intro by the infamous graffiti artist Banksy:

I love how it just goes back to the super chipper theme music at the end. 

Joel Samson Berntsen (Lisztomania - Phoenix)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Grinderman 2 review

Originally published as a blogpost for The Maneater 

 Nick Cave initially founded Grinderman after messing around with a guitar — an instrument Cave rarely played — in 2006 and discovering that his lack of skill emoted a primitive and raw style that garnered a new enough sound for his band, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, to transform, with all the same members, into Grinderman. It worked well, and Grinderman met success with a jangled smile, collecting both critical acclaim and commercial success.  Enter 2010 and Cave and the boys are back to premiere the sequel: Grinderman 2.

Grinderman 2 starts off much like any sequel, giving the audience a new taste of old material. The opening track “Mickey Mouse and The Goodbye Man” revs up with the same driving guitar force that barreled through the last album. The first three songs ring with the familiar distorted grit that defined the first album, but after the lead single “Heathen Child,” Grinderman 2 takes a new and different turn.

Suddenly, it’s just Cave reciting his haunting lyrics to the back drop of a steady, soft drumbeat or the plucking of a blues guitar. The song “Palaces of Montezuma” sounds more like the Rolling Stones than Grinderman. It’s a risky move, but a smart one. In an effort to avoid becoming stale, Grinderman evolves from primitive to sophisticated. It isn’t seamless, but Cave and company manage to maintain innovation through several more indirect tracks, proving that Grinderman is more than just a side project.

The main problem plaguing Grinderman 2 is the lack of an album-defining track. It has plenty of entertaining tracks — Cave’s zealous shouts and lyrics shine through as always — but there’s not a stand-out single.

At the end of it all, Grinderman 2 is just another diverting roll in the mud with Cave and company leading the audience through another dark night drive, and while it’s not the best effort, it’s still a throttle-stomping ride through the twisted brain of Nick Cave.

Grade: B

Joel Samson Berntsen (Intergalactic - Beastie Boys)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Guillermo del Toro Gains Friends and Influence

The following is just a bunch of quotes from Guillermo del Toro when was at  Portland's Baghdad Theater & Pub. I ripped all the quotes and words past this introduction from this:, which has further quotes and videos and in all is very interesting. This is just the stuff I personally found very entertaining and intriguing.
  • When asked about he assembled his filmmaking team: "I draw and sculpt, but I'm not a great sculptor, I'm not a great draftsman. So you hire people who are better than you, and you are loyal to those people... The rule is to work only with people you admire or you love. Or both."
  • On adapting other peoples' work: "Once the material is out, it belongs to all of us." And: "Adapting material is like marrying a widow. You have to be very respectful of the late husband's memory, but at some point you've gotta fuck."
  • He thanks people for listening to his DVD commentaries. He prepares his DVD and Blu-ray special features "very carefully" so that they're "as educational as possible." "DVDs are the most democratic way to teach film."
  • "We fear the dark. Make no mistake about it: You can drive your Prius and and type on your iPad, but if we leave you in the dark, you will shit your pants."
  • "Do whatever the fuck you want, even if it's wrong, and then tell about it with honesty. That is filmmaking to me." And: "Success is fucking up on your own terms."

  •  The way he made the little kid in The Devil's Backbone tremble during a key scene? He dumped a bucket of ice down the kid's pants. "I should be in jail!"
  • The last question of the night was about videogames. Del Toro, a dedicated gamer — his children serve as his "wingmen" when he plays Left 4 Dead — is moving into making games, stating matter-of-factly that they're as legitimate of a medium as film and literature. "I expect and hope to create what I would like to see in a videogame," he says, after rattling off some of his favorite videogames at near-incomprehensible speed, just as he did when someone asked him his favorite authors: Shadow of the Colossus, Ico, Gadget: Invention, Travel, & Adventure, Marathon, Halo, Gears of War, Call of Duty, Katamari, Left 4 Dead, Red Dead Redemption, Prototype, Bioshock, Uncharted 2
 Joel Samson Berntsen (Cut Your Hair - Pavement)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Kanye West Kills Saturday Night Live with Power

I wish I had a red suit like this. A pair of Louis Vuitton sneakers wouldn't be that bad either. 

Joel Samson Berntsen (Kayne West - Power)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Jon Stewart interviews George Carlin (1997)

This is very, very interesting.

Carlin to Stewart: "It's been great to get know you a little. And you are going to show us a lot, and I look forward to it."

Joel Samson Berntsen (Jesus Walks - Kanye West)

Monday, September 27, 2010

No Age — Everything In Between Review

Originally published in The Maneater Arts and Enterment Blog: (

Carving out a following at the all-ages, Los Angeles-based venue The Smell, noise-pop duo No Age have spent the last few years making a big name for themselves. Not only have Deerhunter's leading man Bradford Cox, Radiohead’s Colin Greenwood, and numerous others proclaimed their love for No Age, but their second full-length album Nouns placed number three on music monolith Pitchfork’s “The 50 Best Albums of 2008.”

That being said, No Age has some considerable expectations to live up to, and their latest effort, Everything In Between, lives up to every single one.

Everything In Between is like a zipper — it takes No Age’s fuzz oriented, experimental side, overlaps it with their infectious pop side, and expertly meshes it together to form an album chalked full of catchy tracks that race in and through the listener’s head.

The pounding drums, overlapping vocals, and sly guitar picking of the album opener “Life Prowler” sticks in the brain like an expensive adhesive. The standout single “Fever Dreaming” runs frantically with punk guitar and ravaging sound sample. There’s a sweet gumminess to most of No Age’s music that sticks in the brain. Almost every song springs to life with a ridiculously striking hook that forces immediate attention, be it a frenzied guitar riff or a frantic, thrashing drum beat.

The album’s only flaw lies in the lackluster quality of the more experimental, noise-driven instrumental tracks. Songs such as “Dusted” and “Katerpillar” are interesting musically, but leave little lasting impression upon the listener.

No Age said Everything In Between was "a culmination of reflecting upon life's ruptures and triumphs... the process of moving through these moments banged and bruised." It’s a culmination alright, a culmination that has somehow managed to stand up to all the expectations placed by their previous efforts. As the duo croons back on forth on the closing track “Don’t want to be anything but you,” everyone will agree that they don’t want No Age to be anything but themselves.

Album Grade: A- (It's actually a 89.5, but I'm not like one of those dick teachers you had in highschool, I round up)

Joel Samson Berntsen (Infinity Guitars - Sleigh Bells)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Let's Get Together and Defend Phil Collins!

It's intriguing to me that Derek E. Miller from Sleigh Bells is both super intimidating and super knowledgeable.

Joel Samson Berntsen (Fever Dreaming - No Age)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Dangers of Beating a Horse to Death: an arguement for new technology in classrooms

Should teachers attempt to incorporate modern technology into the classroom (cell phones, facebook, twitter, blogs, wikis, movie-makers, etc.) or should there be a line between entertainment and education? Why or why not?

There is a line between entertainment and education, and teachers should be wary of simply throwing in random examples of how they're hip and still understand all the new technology, but that doesn't mean that education can't be entertaining and modern. New technology can be implemented successful if executed with patient procession and used with well-placed caution. By incorporating modern technology into the classroom, teachers have the capacity to draw in students and reach them in new and unique ways.

For example, a teacher could create a twitter for a class and have all the students follow it, this way the professor not only can easily remind them of due dates, upcoming projects, and tests, but the students themselves, if properly motivated, could create an extremely successful networking system. The chances of  successfully cultivating a community student network are much greater when on an established, well-known website such as twitter, than on a school-only site such as blackboard.

Another example is using facebook statistics in a math class: the likely hood of intriguing and roping in students using their favorite website could prove hugely beneficial to both grades and interest (an area arguable lacking in most math classes).

The world is always changing, and to keep educating the world's children teachers have to change with it. It is crucial that the modern teacher think outside the box and integrate new and changing technology into his or her teaching plan for the benefit of the constantly-changing student. Technology can stifle a classroom if the teacher opposes it, but use the right amount of old-school teaching with new school tech, and you'll have a very successful classroom.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I'm Just Thinking About Music and Stuff

I take really long showers.

Sometimes I wonder if people think I'm masturbating in the shower.

I'm not masturbating in the shower.

Joel Samson Berntsen (She Don't Use Jelly - The Flaming Lips)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Friday, July 2, 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Rock-n-Roll Is The New Porngraph(ers)

The New Pornographers came to town.

And I was there.

It was absolutely amazing.

I originally wanted to write a show review, but then I read the River Front Times show review and just got upset. It’s no fun reading something that overanalyzes every aspect and choice of a concert, while nitpicking at every wrong detail of a show. It definitely seems like the writer didn’t go there to have a good time, but just to judge the show (which actually is justifiably considering that’s what a review is, but still, no fun to read).

I went to the show for one simple reason: I love The New Pornographers. I went out of love, not to judge. And I had no qualms whatsoever with the show. I LOVED THE SHOW. I DON’T KNOW WHY EVERYONE IS SO DAMN CRITICAL. STOP BEING PITY BITCHES DAMNIT.

I digress.

I’m a bitter fan boy.

Lessons to be learned from the show:

Bejar crooning with Newman and Case being msuical 
The rotating front line of vocalists Neko Case, A.C. Newman, Dan Bejar, and Kathryn Calder mixed and weaved through each song with such uncanny harmony and accord it made them look like one big family: Newman as the father and frontman extraordinaire, Neko Case as the disgruntled Mom that can just fucking croon like none other, Bejar as the weird, awesome uncle that only shows up on Christmas, and Calder as the new blood trying desperately to prove herself. And she does. She totally does. Every singer brings something fresh to each song and watching them mix and sing the night away can mostly just be described as ecstasy. Pure ecstasy.

Bejar was my absolute favorite part of the evening. Crazy hair, skinny pants and the most unusually pleasing voice in music. Bejar would just wonder off and on stage for each song that needed him, completely chill with a beer in one hand, while wrapping the other around the microphone, knocking each song he sang completely out the park. Myriad Harbor has never sounded so sincere. He also took the lead on the final encore song of Testament to You in Verse. Best encore I’ll probably ever experience.

Neko proved that she’s the best and what she does and Calder was just a joyous ball of energy.

Best Concert I’ve ever been to.

I leave you with this:

Joel Samson Berntsen (Testament To You In Verse - The New Pornographers)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Get Him to the Greek Review

Based on trailers and TV spots, Get Him to the Greek seems like the kind of movie trying to cash in on the popularity of The Hangover. However, this is NOT THE CASE. Sex and drugs and alcohol all play a role, but the movie is alot tamer, and alot funnier than most well-educated and intelligent people would have thought (hey that's you!).

Basically the movie goes like this: the music industry is failing and Sergio Roma (Sean "P Diddy" Combs) needs to make some quick bank, so Arron Green (Jonah Hill) pitches the idea of having washed out, but classic "rock star" Aldous Snow  (Russel Brand) put on a reunion concert at The Greek. P Diddy eventually gets down with the idea and decides to have Green excute the plan since he pitched it, which means Green needs to somehow manage to get an alcoholic, drug-induced rock star from London to the states in time to play the show. Sounds boring and stereotypical right? Hold on...

Russel Brand sort of always seemed like a self-absorbed rock-star douche, which probably partially explains most people's reluctance to see the film, but he's really just another one of Jason Segel's fragile, touching characters. Sure, he was the self-absorbed rock-star douche in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but that comes with the territory of portraying the paramour of a relationship that an entire movie is based around. Lucky for Brand, the length of Get Him to the Greek enables the viewer to actually get to know the "rock-star" Aldous Snow. Brand's actually fairly successful in playing a touching, washed out guy who's really just taken too many drugs to drown out the chaos of a wrecked life (which as cliche as that may sound on paper, Brand actually holds substance once the audience realizes that Aldous Snow is extremely self-aware and more mature than all the other characters in the movie).  

Moving away right along from one perceived douchebag to another, let's talk about Jonah Hill! He's not playing the usual scumbag, dirtbag, douchebag character he usually portrays in almost all of his other movies. He's a mid-level, music geek who who doesn't really have any control over anything or anyone around him. And he actually pulls it off adequately. Whoa!

Elisabeth Moss (The West Wing, Mad Men) also has a major role as Jonah Hill's nurse girlfriend and she's just wonderful as always. Just look at her...

Isn't she cute and adorable? And she acts that way too. *sigh*

Finally, let's get back to that P Diddy fellow: P Diddy is actually hilarious (ex: mindfucking and floating head). He is actually truly hilarious. Most of the funniest parts in the entire movie involve him. And everyone just thought he could only be his terrible fake, corporate pushing rapper self. Shame on you (yes, I'm talking to you Jim Mahfood --No disrespect though man-- your art is dope, as is your satire).

(I can say dope if I want to) 

Anyway, Get Him to the Greek pretty much just surprises everyone by showing that Jonah Hill can act, Russel Brand isn't a complete douche, and P Diddy can actually be funny. Take that preconceived notions! Don't judge a book by it's cover and all that jazz (except for Elizabeth Moss -- totally judge her by her cover).

Joel Samson Berntsen (Hjartað hamast (bamm bamm bamm) [The Heart Pounds (Boom Boom Boom)] - Sigur Rós ) 

Monday, May 31, 2010

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World Trailer #2

Bryan Lee O'Malley's twitter:

radiomaru: today i'm sensing the beginnings of a michael cera backlash backlash

I'm a little iffy on Cera, but everyone else seems perfect.

Joel Samson Berntsen (Baby's On Fire - Brian Eno)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I'm a Big Boi Now

I love Speakerboxxx.

And I like it a lot more than The Love Below. 

And I just had the epiphany that I like Big Boi more than Andre 3000.

And with that realization I'm even more exciting for July 6, 2010, the release of:

 Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty

 Joel Samson Berntsen (Tomb of the Bomb- Outkast)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Let There Be Hope (Sleigh Bells)

Sleigh Bells: Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller
2010 was supposed to be the best year for music ever what with almost everyone of note releasing an album, but we’re almost halfway through the year and we’ve had nothing but lackluster albums with a couple bitch’in tracks. Spoon, The New Pornographers, Los Campesinos!, Gorillaz, David Byrne/Fatboy Slim: all of their efforts have left me sad and crying in a dark corner of my basement, and I’m not talking about that awesome kind of music that actually makes you weep from its sheer sadness, but the kind that makes you just want to go put on one of the bands older records.

But as I look upon the approaching horizon of summer music calendar, my heart swells with a hope that I’ve never felt before, a hope that makes me think that maybe, just maybe, the world won’t be lost to the douchebaggary of Will.I.Am, Owl City, and Train.

Yesterday, I discovered Sleigh Bells full length Treats was officially out and streaming in its complete entirety over at NPR Music blog ( Sleigh Bells got kidnapped by M.I.A after they took the internet by storm with a couple tracks that I heard they made in a basement. Everyone fawned over them with pure delight back then, and everyone better damn do it again. Every single track on Treats is completely awesome raw pop music. The overbearing Brooklyn beats trash and bash any sound waves that dare challenge their insanely intoxicating and booming audacity. It’s got the energy of Iggy Pop’s Raw Power coupled with the producing sensibilities of M.I.A. filtered through Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller (Sleigh Bells) raw power to create extraordinaire electro-clash pop music. It’s just pure freaking delight.

Also, the new The Black Key’s Brothers is looking like it’s going to be another blow out success. I even forgive them for having the same album name as my band. (I know we haven’t even practiced but right now it’s just a concept and the concept name was Brothers). LCD Soundsystem’s This Is Happening comes out in five days. And M.I.A. has a brand spankin new album coming in July, as does Big Boi, which takes home best album title of the year Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty. In a bit of side news, Big Boi actually guested on Martha Stewart: The link is now proving to go to the page and say “false” after a flash. I don’t know what’s up with that, but hopefully that’ll get fix real soon.

You like pictures, right? Cause I sure do.

Joel Samson Berntsen (Rill Rill – Sleigh Bells)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Kick-Ass Review

Article originally written and published in OHS's The Prowl
If you have a problem with profanity, violence and a little girl killing lots of evil men with guns and knives, stop reading this right now; this movie is not for you. Okay, now that we’re rid of those people, let’s talk about one of the most entertaining movies of the year. Take one part “Superbad,” one part “Kill Bill” and one part “Spiderman,” whirl them together, and you’ve got the two hour, pop culture-induced seizure of violent behavior, swearing and hilarity known as “Kick-Ass.”

The movie revolves around the life of Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), a nobody comic geek who’s tired of people just putting up with petty crime and miscreants. So, he orders a scuba wet suit, a set of batons and takes to the streets as a vigilante.  Dave’s just an average guy; however, he doesn’t have any training in fighting crime. So, in his first attempt to stop a mugging, he gets shanked in the stomach, staggers in the street, gets hit by a car and is rushed to the hospital. And it’s absolutely hilarious. The violent slapstick humor constantly rides the line between hilarity and shock, especially once the characters of Big Daddy and Hit Girl are introduced.

On their own personal vendetta against a crime family in New York, Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage) and Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) are the most entertaining characters in the movie. The pair are pretty much hyper-real versions of Batman and Robin, except they have guns, swear and chop up criminals. Moretz’s electrifyingly outrageous performance as the profanity-spewing, butterfly-knife throwing Hit Girl completely steals the show. Seeing a nine year-old dispatch a gang of cocaine-hustling thugs with a double-bladed karate staff of doom is one of the most absurdly hilarious things to have ever hit the big screen.

“Kick-Ass” has an energy that few movies are able to obtain; it aggressively disregards standard morals and societal constraints, yet still manages to get the audience to side with and care for the violence-prone protagonists. The audience is always rooting for Kick-Ass to kick ass. And he totally does (after getting the living daylights beat out of him about four times).

Joel Samson Berntsen (This Must Be The Place(Naive Melody) - Talking Heads) 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Top Five Songs- April Edition

James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem

5. ("Who Loves The Sun?" - The Velvet Underground] Loaded apparently was Lou Reed trying to write an album full of popular hits. He succeeded. This is most pop filled, joyful (sounding) Velvet Underground song I’ve ever heard.

4. ("I'll Call B4 I Cum" - Outkast] Preceded by the "Kim and Cookie (Interlude)" on Stankonia (p.s.funniest interlude ever), I'll call B4 just sticks in your head and refuses to leave. I've been singing the chorus at every tennis practice/match since the beginning of the month, and let me tell you, it's a good way to weird/pysch out people. "Wait... did you just say cum? Why don't you just send it over? Out the blue? What the f*** are you singing about Joel?!"


2. ("Forest Families" - The Knife] - I bought the full album Silent Shout about a month and half ago, and I haven't stopped listening since (except to play other songs on this list). I've been listening to it in segments though, as to avoid getting burned out on Silent Shout and We Share Our Mother's Health (two songs that both share a 50 plus play count in iTunes). I bought the vinyl a couple month back too, so I've just used the sides to break section off the album. I love every section just like I’d love every kid if I had a family, but everyone’s got a favorite and mine is (Side B: Forest Families, One Hit, Still Light). It’s the apple of my eye.

1. ("Drunk Girls" - LCD Soundsystem] The first time I listened to this single I thought, this isn't what LCD Soundsystem is supposed to sound like. I was mistaken. It was what they're supposed to sound like, and they sound like quick-witted, snazzy, socially perceptive dance-rock. I've had LCD Soundsystem's Sound Of Silver for over a year, but I never really gave it a chance. I bought the single, put it in a playlist with Sounds of Silver, and I’ve been jamming in ecstasy since.

Joel Samson Berntsen (One Hit- The Knife)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I'm Locking Myself in a Cabin for a While

Tentative decisions are here. You’d think I’d be listening to Tentative Decisions.

Instead I’ve just been listening to Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago.

Four times through and still counting, and that's just tonight.

Joel Samson Berntsen (Lump Sum- Bon Iver)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Returning to Sender (Dexter and I)

Last summer ago I started watching Dexter (the Showtime series). And it was fantastic. But for some reason I stopped watching it around episode seven. Why? I don’t know; it’s just one of those things that happen.

(Side note: during the title sequence, I would always started craving eggs because of the high detailed and close-up shots of breakfast being made, so I started catering to my cravings and it became a ritual to make myself some eggs, pour a ton of pepper on them, and then start an episode of Dexter; it was one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever experienced in my life.)

This summer, I convinced my girlfriend to buy seasons one and two for college (Ah... I’m a tricky, tricky man). Anyway, she only recently started it, so I’ve started re-watching the first season, and I’m an episode away from the season finale. And man, as I said before, this show is freaking fantastic! Yes. The show is so good it warrants an exclamation point; it is really that good.

I know. I’m behind the times.

The first season? Man, you mean back when the Ice cream truck killer was still around? Geez, Joel. You really are behind.

Yes, this might be true, odd-speaking alter ego of Joel that only comes out in late night ramblings after prolonged viewings of Dexter, but that is not the point. The point is this; I think the ice cream truck killer is my favorite character on the show…

But you know he’s going to die…

Yes, it’s kind of anticlimactic…

But you still are deeply in love and involved with the show…?


Well, then it’s all cool my brother.

Why are you talking like that now?

Like what?

Like William Baldwin in The Squid and The Whale.

My brother, I don’t know if anyone who reads this blog will get that reference… I think it’s time for you to get to bed.

But there’s Dexter to be watched!

But there’s work in the morning my brother…

Right, Right… damn your logic.

Say goodnight to the pretty folks my brother.


Joel Samson Berntsen (Gouge Away- Pixies)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Party in the Castle Commons

We’re in the Shakespeare unit of College Composition. I’m enjoying it, mostly because how easily Shakespeare invents plausible conflicts and character motivation. I mean, almost every character goes through some sort of emotional dramatic character change that radically changes the plot or motivation in some important way.

My problem is the movies, the ones that have castles in them. There’s never anybody in them! In the climax of Hamlet, Hamlet, his mom, his uncle, and a friend turned enemy all are killed by getting stabbed, drinking poison, or getting stabbed with poison. And there’s only like fifteen people watching. Wouldn’t a giant dual with the most loved royalty of the land attract at least a couple more people than that? I’m sure this isn’t really realistic in a play because of the general lack of paid actors, but a feature film could easily fit at least fifty into a giant castle commons.

Anyway, that’s all I got for now. Here’s a clip:

Joel Samson Berntsen (Meadows of the Sea - T.REX)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Gene Kelly & Jay-Z present: The Ascending A’s

While writing a couple papers, I listened to these albums in listed order:

Merriweather Post Pavilion – Animal Collective

The Grey Album – DJ Danger Mouse and Jay-Z

Begin to Hope – Regina Spektor

I threw some singles from Annie, April March, and The Animals in between each album. I guess I just really liked the letter A today.

Also, I threw a Jay-Z quote in my film analysis paper explaining why everyone loves Gene Kelly:

“Lockwood’s a liar, and the audience clutches onto that. They grasp at it and they love it, because he’s like them, he lies. He’s made it, and he’s made it big. In the flash of mere minutes, the audience is enthralled by this charismatic, sexy man because, once again, he reminds them of themselves, only he’s actually made it to the big time. He’s actually a silent film star. Just like Jay-Z once said in lyric, “all the hustlers love it / just to see one of us make it / came from the bottom to bottom to the top of the pot,” and that’s exactly why there’s an immediate liking to Lockwood.”
Etc, Etc, Etc.

Joel Samson Berntsen (My Girls –Animal Collective) one last time before bed

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Top 5 songs that I keep playing

5. (Samson – Regina Spektor] It’s personal.

4. (Psycho Killer – Talking Heads] It’s a hell of a song, and I can’t stop singing it. Let’s hope I actually know how to sing it properly…

3. (Better- Regina Spektor] I’ve recently gone on a stint of loving her again. Not that I ever stopped loving her. The play count on That Time is at forty seven. The rest of the songs are severely under played, so now I’m listening to them. I don’t know why I didn’t listen to them earlier.


1. (Dirty Harry – Gorillaz] I’m gearing up for Plastic Beach, so the Gorillaz are getting played an outrageous amount of times. And there’s just something about the first minute of Dirty Harry. Man.

Joel Samson Berntsen (Sunday Morning - The Velvet Underground)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Do Pop Stars Dream of Decaffeination?

"Why are you drinking a Mountain Dew," asked the kid in gray.

"You mean Mtn Dew," responded the older man, sounding like foreigner as he gurgled the sound of Mtn in his throat.

"Whatever it's called, shouldn't you be drinking coffee or something? You're like, what? forty nine? Isn't it time you stopped drinking that caffeinated devil's piss?"

"I'll stop drinking Mtn Dew," again the older man gurgled the Mtn awkwardly in his throat, "when you stop bobbing your head to Mylie Cyrus songs."

The kid in gray hung his head in shame.

Joel Samson Berntsen (a lipitor commercial on the radio)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Let's All Put On Giant Suits And Dance Around

Today is the last day of my Christmas Break. It’s been weird.

The night before, the last ‘night’ of break, was spent doing relatively nothing till about four in the morning. I awoke to my parents taking turns banging on my door yelling at me to get up or my sleep cycle was going to be screwed for school. Bah.

Anyway, I spent the rest of the day with a dear friend watching Stop Making Sense, the live concert film of the Talking Heads, who I’ve recently become infatuated with. I loved the movie. I have yet to come to any complete conclusions about it though, or Talking Heads for that matter. I’ll get back with you.

Joel Samson Berntsen (Los Campesinos!- You! Me! Dancing!)