The High Countries

because it’s all paperweight…

Songs for Sis

Katie and I -- Life at the 2006 Northwest Washington Fair

Katie and I -- Life at the 2006 Northwest Washington Fair

The First in a Series

There’s a warning on the side of blank CD’s: “A good mix tape is the perfect flirtation device.”

Oh, such true words. The problem is, I make a mean mix tape. Somewhere between the 8th grade and my first breakup, I lost the meaning of the mix tape. After a series of relationally ambiguous trades, frivolous hand-outs and altogether unassuming exchanges, I found this medium of hipful/hopeful tunes to be incredibly fun––both to send and receive, and lost all hope of ever harvesting its true flirtatious power. Instead, I began sending them to my sisters in hopes of keeping my skills sharp.

1. Falling Slowly –– Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova
From the ONCE soundtrack. If you haven’t seen this movie. Watch it. I may have given you this already (as well as some others on here; I hope not), but they are terrific songs.

2. The Shadow Proves The Sunshine –– Switchfoot
This is my life’s song right now. It’s the simple story of a man trying so hard to stand up straight all while realizing how difficult it is.  Finally, he looks down to see his shadow; proof of the sunshine above.

3. Beautiful World [Mix] –– Colin Hay

A wonderful remix of a wonderful song.

4. She is the Sunlight –– David Hodges & Trading Yesterday
A terrifically slow and peaceful campfire song.

5. On Your Way –– Eastmountainsouth
One of the most heart-wrenching songs in recent memory. A man singing to his ex-girlfriend saying that he’ll be truly happy for her when she finds someone. He had his chance, he missed it; she deserves better and he wants it for her. It’s a brother and sister singing together on the piece, so I always picture they’re singing it about their respective, significant others. The brother wrote it and it’s beautiful.

6. Cue the Sun –– Daphne Loves Derby

Another great simple song, I picture it sung in the rain, with an old guitar.

7. Shenandoah –– Chanticleer
The one you wanted with the strikingly high tenor. Through the roof!

8. One Moment More –– Mindy Smith
I love this song. Like a desperate cry for the last moments before a breakup or departure to war, or a death. Has a longing, soothing feel to it.

9. Dragons –– Edwin McCain

One man’s journey through drugs and the desperation of watching others go through the same. Each man has his story and with each comes struggle.  Dragons are the dancing smoke-strings seen during meth or heroine.

Beth lost her sister; they came and they took her away. And there ain’t enough pews in the world and nothing I can say. So I tell her I love her and that she’s a friend, and each time I leave her, I wonder if I’ll see her again. And I’m watching the dragons. As they slither out of sight. And I wonder who’ll be sleeping alone tonight.

10. Glory Road –– Trevor Rabin & Alicia Keyes
My favorite simple soundtrack song at the present time. Listen for the change in mood, it does wonders for the workout and Alicia Keyes nails the simple melody.

11. The Funeral –– Band of Horses

This was on a Ford commercial, and I had to have it. I also love their other stuff, its great if you like whispery voices now and then — fun and mellow.

12. Lies –– Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova
Couldn’t help it, had to put this one on there, too. They perform this one in a recording studio (in the movie) and watching Glen is pure genius, singing at the top of his lungs like he’s getting everything off his chest that he always wanted to say. Perfection in poetry of song.

13. Awake –– Secondhand Serenade
This is a little older, but its perfectly simple. I put it in the same boat as some of the other simple ones on this mix. It’s a great one to drive to and everyone needs songs like this now and then.

14. Start Today Tomorrow –– Youth Group
Sort of a fun way of thinking, considering every so once in a while we all just want to stop and start today tomorrow.

15. Closer –– Keb’Mo
One man’s journey toward snuggling…

16. Gravity –– Sara Bareilles
This doesn’t really fit the trend of this CD, but since you are a girl; I never know. It’s a little jazzy and so I don’t know if it’ll be a hit for you. Its slow and…dramatic. Let me know what you think.

17. Girlfriend –– Eve 6
This song is near and dear to my heart. Not only is it the group that Molly [sister] loved growing up (and therefore, I wanted to love too), it’s the song that I literally had never heard until I was cresting the hill going to Las Vegas and it was on my play list! No joke, it was perfect. It’s a true rally song and gets me going to this day. I will fight for this breakup song as an anthem for my generation till the day I die. The melody makes me want to run a marathon…profound echoes of, ‘I will not be broken‘.

18. The High Countries –– Caedmon’s Call
This may be one of those you already have, but I wanted to put it on here anyway. This song has more meaning for me than I could ever speak, let alone write. It is the song behind the title of my blog, an allusion to the book that holds the greatest chapter of literature I have ever read; The Great Divorce, Chapter 9 and in my humble opinion, musical genius. I’ve written the group themselves, so they know where I stand. I can’t say enough about it, so I decided to include it.

May 12, 2008 Posted by | Entertainment, Music | Leave a comment

Get Smart (2008)

Steve Carrell LOST season 4 Get Smart

Secret Agent Maxwell Smart (Carell) and Agent 86 (Hathaway) in the Mel Brooks favorite, Get Smart.

Didn’t Miss By Much

By Bryce VanKooten

I can’t decide if I like Steve Carell (Maxwell Smart) more when he is silent or when he is talking. Either way he’s a master. Up until about a year ago, I was unsure if he could do anything besides scream with a straight face, although I won’t lie, whether it was newscast gibberish or Kelly Clarkson expletives––I laughed every time. It wasn’t until his role in Little Miss Sunshine that I really appreciated his acting skills and thus, more fully understood the broad range of talent. Still, Get Smart is not about acting; it’s about popcorn. Plain and simply––great laughs, solid entertainment, fun for all the cousins.

Carell delivers once again in this altered, but still very friendly adaptation of Mel Brooks and Buck Henry’s classic mid-1960s TV series, which starred the late, great Don Adams as super-spy Maxwell Smart, a.k.a. Agent 86. For many, Adams will forever be the true Agent 86, and if you see the movie and can’t get over that, I understand, but nonetheless Get Smart, the movie, brings Mel Brooks kind of humor to a new generation––families included.

Obviously an Oscar-worthy movie (let alone the performance…geez, nominate the guy), it’s clear that Carell was born to play this role. Very rarely (and before recent missteps, Will Ferrell seemed to be reaching this plateau) is an actor or actress so brilliantly comedic that they can simply stand on a stage, saying nothing, and get laughs. Think back to the days of Carol Burnett. Or even Bob Hope doing the Oscars. Both comic giants, at ease in any situation––the audience overwhelmed with their charm. I would like to think that this aura is simply ‘comedic charm’, but more eloquently, it is probably closer to ‘comedic genius’. Not that this movie solely places Steve Carell in comedic lore, but it definitely doesn’t hinder his rise. Once again, he holds any scene he’s in and has you shifting in your seat, leaning slightly forward as not to miss an off-the-cuff reference or quip. With Anne Hathaway playing the uptight, overbearing feminist and Carell fitting nicely as the blatant nitwit, there’s little time left for the gadgets to get laughs, save one.

The funniest scene of the entire film takes place in an airplane restroom. Hands tied, seeking freedom from his bonds (seen briefly in the trailer) Maxwell Smart attempts to free himself by using his weapon of choice: a miniature crossbow. Hilarity ensues, as aiming the bow with his mouth becomes something of a nightmare and the plane’s metallic surroundings causing unintended physics. Refusing defeat after the first couple misfires; this scene builds as we watch the entire sheath unloaded, one painful shot at a time. This sequence alone is worth the price of admission and combined with an obese waltz during a fancy gala, your cheeks will likely have had enough hilarity.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of robust corny comedy throughout the movie; more specifically––anything that happens in the Control hallway, but outside of faltered gags (which may be eliminated––I saw 6-months early test screening), the movie flows well. Alan Arkin is superb as the Chief and Borat’s own Ken Davitian (Shtarker) brings normalcy to the utterly ridiculous––this guy would have been at home in any Mel Brooks ensemble. The other actors, although working well in the flow of the film, rarely hit homerun jokes. From the ‘Silent Force Field’ to the rooftop fight sequence, one thing is true: no question, Steve Carell is funny. His timing and his flair for Death-Valley-dry under-acting make him a perfect 86, with the entire film serving as testament to his on-screen charisma––not to mention, he fits a suit better than most. Get Smart is a breath of fresh, classic air in a time of raunch-fest comedies like Semi Pro, and the upcoming and completely worthless Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Dare I say, “Best Comedy of the Year”? Ah, missed it by that much.
*This review is based on a February 2008 test screening

May 6, 2008 Posted by | Entertainment, Film Reviews, Television | , , , , , | Leave a comment