The Top Ten (+5): New millennium stand-up comedy albums

summit

Obligatory disclaimer: What follows is my latest list of highly specific things I like, presented in the order I like them. This list makes no allowances for anyone’s taste but my own, nor for colossal, head-slappingly obvious omissions, of which, I’m sure, there are many. It’s pretty much as complete as it’s ever gonna get. By reading further, you absolve me, the author, from any liability related to your potentially scarred psyche – permanently furrowed brows, heart palpitations, etc. Feedback on your own favorites, or what I got wrong or right (or wrong), is both welcome and encouraged.  

In a different time, under different circumstances, I might have been one of those outdoor kids so romanticized in fiction, parenting guides, and modern television commercials touting youth activity (in my day, the NFL sadly couldn’t be bothered to help motivate my butt off the couch). Ideally, I would’ve been off running through a field somewhere, or climbing trees, catching crawdads down at the creek bed or building forts with my little friends. Instead, I was the shy latchkey kid of a hardworking, divorced parent, often left to my own devices and largely bereft of friends. So I spent my childhood diligently making my own fun. I liked watching sports, but didn’t play any except youth soccer and backyard basketball. I loved to read and listen to music, and spent an awful lot of time formulating what would become lifelong passions at the feet of MTV and HBO. I never felt deprived. HBO in particular would prove to be a seminal influence, and among its specialties in the 1980s were movies, boxing, and stand-up comedy. I’ve already spoken a time or four here on the first two topics, but comedy proved no less influential on me growing up. Continue reading “The Top Ten (+5): New millennium stand-up comedy albums”

Movie review: “American Hustle” (2013)

american hustle

“Who’s the master? The painter, or the forger?”

The buildup of David O. Russell’s American Hustle is much more intriguing and satisfying than its payoff, which the film treats like an afterthought, even though the stakes are undeniably high – $2 million (in 1980 money, mind you) in federally-funded bait that may or may not have been, ahem, misplaced, the careers and reputations of ambitious FBI agents and several crooked congressmen, and the tenuous fates of the hustlers themselves. Everything pivots on the presumably predictable human behavior that occurs, late in the game, in a shady lawyer’s office. Continue reading “Movie review: “American Hustle” (2013)”