"His voice betrayed a craving for terrible things." -- Don DeLillo

"Shadows present, foreshadowing deeper shadows to come." -- Herman Melville

Send all adoration/vitriol to marc@shadowbloom.com

The Beginning -- 2005 Updates

January 10, 2005

It's the new year, so I'm working on my Best of 2004 lists. First to come will be music with TV and video games likely right behind. My Best of Movies list will hopefully be ready by the start of February. Since so many movies sneak out in limited release at the end of the year, I'm still catching up on everything. Hotel Rwanda and Million Dollar Baby were just released in Philadelphia, for example, and I'd be remiss if I made up my Top-10 list without seeing them first. In the meantime, quick update for today...

The "Ironic" Redemption
I'm making an executive decision here and I think everyone should get on the bandwagon. English Purists, it's time to give up the word "ironic." Just give it up. It's sad, I know, and I've resisted this idea before, but there's just no going back. And if you're thinking that Alanis Morissette is to blame for this, well you're absolutely right. The problem is that the majority of people fall into two categories: 1) using "ironic" incorrectly or 2) not using it at all. The reason is simply that a true state of "irony" is incredibly hard to find or work into your daily usage. Just take this Usage Note from www.dictionary.com:

The words ironic, irony, and ironically are sometimes used of events and circumstances that might better be described as simply "coincidental" or "improbable," in that they suggest no particular lessons about human vanity or folly. Thus 78 percent of the Usage Panel rejects the use of ironically in the sentence "In 1969 Susie moved from Ithaca to California where she met her husband-to-be, who, ironically, also came from upstate New York." Some Panelists noted that this particular usage might be acceptable if Susie had in fact moved to California in order to find a husband, in which case the story could be taken as exemplifying the folly of supposing that we can know what fate has in store for us. By contrast, 73 percent accepted the sentence "Ironically, even as the government was fulminating against American policy, American jeans and videocassettes were the hottest items in the stalls of the market," where the incongruity can be seen as an example of human inconsistency.

"Human vanity or folly?" That's why I never get to use the word "ironic:" it's too damn hard! So Morissette comes along with her "ten thousand spoons when all you really need is a knife" and a perfectly innocent, if rather standoffishly intellectual, word is raped and ruined for an entire generation. Now everyone knows the word, but uses it incorrectly. So what can we do? Honestly, we're not going to be able to correct everyone. Hell, I don't know if I'm ever using it correctly and I supposedly majored in English. We need to let it go and allow "an unfortunate or unlikely coincidence" to become an acceptable usage for "ironic." Because, really, it is fun and easy to use "ironic" in this way and Morissette gave us all a primer on it, so let's stop fighting to restore it to its literary obscurity and instead just come up with a new word to replace our old definition of "ironic." I've been thinking about it and haven't come up with a satisfactory replacement yet...I like keeping the "-ic" construction, so maybe "lyradic," "nadalic," "surpradic?" Latin majors, this is where you guys come in. Suggestions should be sent to marc@shadowbloom.com. Won't it be satisfying if we can give "ironic" to the masses and keep a new word to ourselves? I know I'm a nerd, but I really think I've got something here.

Sight and Sound
Fun link for movie fanatics. I poured way too much time into browsing around this site today. It's the official site for the Sight and Sound Top Ten Poll 2002. Every ten years, Sight and Sound polls "the world's leading film critics to compile a list of the best films of all time." In 1992, they started polling directors as well. The Top Ten going back to 1952 can be found here, but even better, they have a complete list of all critics and directors who participated along with their Top Ten lists. The overall list contains the familiar pantheon fare: Citizen Kane, Vertigo, The Rules of the Game, Battleship Potemkin, et cetera, but the fun is in reading the wild disparity in the individual lists. Controversial director Catherine Breillat (Anatomy of Hell, Fat Girl) picks Salo and Lost Highway. Monty Python alum Terry Jones tosses in Groundhog Day and Quentin Tarantino offers up an expectedly idiosyncratic list including Carrie, Coffy, and Dazed and Confused. They even offer a master list of all films selected, giving you the opportunity to see what insane person picked Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet (Bend it like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha). Way more fun than you may think.

Thanks, but no thanks...
Little did I know that it would be less than a week after my last update about celebrity sex tapes before the Chyna and X-Pac tape started making the rounds on the Internet. Let's put it this way, if I were going to make an ordered list of the celebrities I'd most want to see in a sex tape, Chyna would probably end up on the list at some point, sure, but only after we'd gone through thousands of single-spaced pages of names first. Yikes.

Song of the Moment: "Has It Come to This?" by The Streets.
Exuberant, very British garage rap; Mike Skinner lays down brilliant rhymes over a simple, bedroom-produced mix of slow techno-pops and jazz horns. A catchy oasis from the repetitive slog of today's pop music. "I do the science on my laptop / Get my boys mashed up / You're listening to the Streets / You'll bear witness to some amazing feats"

February 21, 2005

Work on my Best of 2004 Awards (which will be up later this week) has delayed me, but at last, here are my predictions for this year's Oscars. Who I think will, could, and should win...all in this year's preview. Enjoy!

February 28, 2005

Ahh, thank God, at long last, my Best of 2004 Awards are finished! The best of movies, TV, video games, and music from the past year--all right here.
Just click and enjoy.

With this finally off my back, more smaller updates should be coming soon.

Songs of the Moment: "The Mullet Burden" and "Sandbox Magician" by the Dillinger Escape Plan.
Yes, I'm still listening to DEP nonstop. These two kick off their first EP and run a little over four minutes long together. Furious blasts of early DEP glory. Savor the awesome riff that ends "Sandbox."

September 16, 2005

Yeah, I'm hideously behind in updates yet again. All of my Philadelphia Film Festival reviews will be coming soon, but first, I had to comment on a momentous video gaming development. Last night in Tokyo (which was actually this morning in Tokyo, but let's not get ahead of ourselves), Nintendo finally released details of the controller for their upcoming console. I'm comfortable enough with my video game geekdom to admit that this was insanely exciting for me. Click here for my thoughts.

"It's the same." "No, it's not. It's lower."
I don't think I'm ready to write coherently about Bush's destruction of a whole city yet (without slipping into Audition torture and assassination fantasies complemented by a Tourette's torrent of unending obscenity), but this is awesome.

So, in the fun few days where former FEMA director Michael Brown's resume was ripped to shreds (such as the fact that in his last job as the commissioner of judges and stewards for the International Arabian Horse Association--which is funny in and of itself--he "was forced out of the position after a spate of lawsuits over alleged supervision failures" (Link)--you can't make this stuff up), it came out that, though his bio said he served as an "assistant city manager with emergency services oversight," in actuality, he was only an "assistant to the city manager" (Link). Now, if you're a fan of The Office (either version), you should already be laughing. If not, allow me to introduce you to Gareth Keenan and Dwight Schrute. Or, better yet, let's just hear it from them instead. Download the fun: Gareth and Dwight. So, when you think of the man in charge of the Federal Emergency Management Agency during the worst natural disaster in the history of the country, do you want these two to come to mind? Yeah, that's what I figured.

While I'm on the subject, this is great. My girlfriend told me about this one and it very well might stop working at any given point, so try it out now. Go to Google, type in "failure," and then hit "I'm Feeling Lucky." And what shows up? None other than the most prominent and devastating failure of our times. Gotta love it when Google nails something right on the head.

Song of the Moment: "The Fantasy" by Thirty Seconds to Mars.
I'm going to write more on 30STM some time later, but for now, just go to www.thirtysecondstomars.com and you can listen to the first three tracks off their awesome new album.

September 22, 2005

It's been a pretty crazy few days--it's the big TV premiere week, so I've been drowning in all the new shows; the Phillies are still in a heated Wild Card race that has demanded all of my attention; and I'm already a few weeks behind in movies. That's all before I head out of town for the weekend. But since I'm watching a stupid amount of TV this week, I figured I'd chime in with some quick reviews of a bunch of new and returning shows.

Song of the Moment: "Just Got Wicked" by Cold.
No, it's not 2000 again, but I broke this CD out the other day for the first time in years and right away remembered why I bought it (along with "She Said"). Brings me right back to Sophomore year of college...

November 17, 2005

Let's see...I've finally put a long, long overdue final polish on all my reviews from this year's Philadelphia Film Festival and you can read them in all their glory here.

"As if millions of sportswriters suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced."
So, the Eagles had another back-breaking loss this past Sunday, potentially tossing away their season and relegating themselves to a flood of T.O. "I told you so" stories the rest of the year. But you know who I feel for the most in that loss? Ike Turner. No, no, wrong bit. I meant to say, the beat writers. With four minutes to go in the game, the Eagles held a nice, comfortable 20-7 lead and seemed to be cruising. The defense was holding strong, Westbrook and the running game were finally showing signs of life, and McNabb even broke out with a couple of rushes recalling the Donovan of old. You know all of the beat writers already had their stories prepped and revised and were holding their fingers over the "Send" buttons in their Inboxes. After all, the stories were writing themselves before the game even started: "Eagles Say No to T.O., Down the Cowboys," "Eagles Soar Towards Playoffs!" and so forth. Lots of copy just waiting for post-game player quotes about how the team had a renewed focus, how they were putting the T.O. mess behind them, getting behind their quarterback, and were ready to take charge in the woeful NFC East. The Cowboys then scored one quick touchdown, but that just requires a little nip/tuck on the stories. But once McNabb threw that self-destructive, season-changing interception, you could almost hear the collective sigh from the press booth as everyone broke out their time-tested "Here we go again..." stories and the night turned into a long one.

Song of the Moment: "Hunting (The Universe Breaks My Heart)" by Abandoned Pools.
Abandoned Pools finally released their second album and it's fantastic. If you were a fan of the first one, go track it down immediately. Catchy as hell, great lyrics, propulsive drumming, there's lots to love here. "I've been hunting through forests, through the fields / I've been sailing across the raging seas"

NEXT: The Beginning -- 2006 Updates -- Part One

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The Beginning Archive

2006 Part Two
2006 Part One
2004 Part Two
2004 Part One