Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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Archive for March, 2010

Listeria: The 40 Most Ridiculous Out-of-Context Pieces of Dialogue from The First Half of LOST, Season Six

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on March 25, 2010

First and foremost–this article is not meant to come down as any definitive statement about the objective quality of the ABC primetime TV drama LOST. I’ve gone through just about every stage of push-and-pull with the show, and now I’ve reached a point where I watch it instinctively and no longer question why. Few things are as annoying as people who complain about LOST, and one of those things is people who complain about people who complain about LOST, so I’m going to try to refrain from doing too much of either. It’s a fine show, with many flaws. I watched it last week, and I’ll watch it next week. Value judgments are not the matter at importance here.

Rather, I wanted to write about one specific aspect of the show, which has fascinated me for some time–the unparalleled bluster of the dialogue. It’s not that the dialogue is bad per se, it’s just that it has its own loud, hermetic, rhythmically disntcitive feel, one oddly hypnotic in how jarring it is. This was a style perhaps berthed out of necessity, as the show’s tendency to release exposition only in the form of further-confounding questions for five-and-a-half seasons no doubt called for a lot of dialogue which sounded revelatory while actually saying nothing. Similarly, it arguably makes sense even within the LOSTverse, as the show’s characters have been exposed to so much weird shit without explanation over that time period that they would likely inspire respond in turn by adapting a style of speech to reflect that state of affairs.

But whatever the cause, the result is at lot of dialogue exchanges pivoting on phrases like “Do you honestly expect me to believe that?” or “I think we both know who I’m talking about” or “He said to tell you [x]. He said you’d know what that meant.” And at least three or four times a week, the result is what I refer to as an “Oh, of course” type quote. These are the quotes where one character says something dramatic, unforseen, and largely incomprehensible, and after six years of watching this show, there’s no feasible reaction to it as a viewer except to say “Oh, of course.” Oh, of course the guy posing as Locke is actually the smoke monster. Oh, of course Hurley’s guitar case contains a giant ankh with a hidden message inside it. Oh, of course Jack has to blow up the island with a nuclear bomb because doing so will trigger an alternate reality where he has a shot to maybe get another shot at a relationship with Kate. There’s just nothing you can do with these quotes and developments but accept them as entirely sensible and move on.

What really make these quotes sparkle, though, are when they are stripped completely of their context. It’s amazing how these exchanges that seem almost borderline-logical within the context of LOST just sound utterly preposterous when viewed by their lonesome–as Chuck Klosterman pointed out in a recent B.S. report podcast, anyone who didn’t watch LOST eavesdropping on a conversation two fans were having about the show would just be mind-blown at how stupid the whole thing sounded, and that’s doubly true when viewing these quotes in a complete vacuum. So without further ado, and with a huge assist from the thankfully nutso folks over at Lostpedia (without whom this project would have taken many hours and far too much bandwidth): The 40 Most Ridiculous Out-of-Context Pieces of Dialogue from the First Half of LOST, Season 6.

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Friday Request Line: Bad Liutenant Port of Call New Orleans

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on March 19, 2010

“Andrew… maybe you haven’t seen it yet, but I would love to read an extensive IITS take on “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.” Watched it a third time two nights ago and it’s still a modern classic.” – Garret

First off, thanks for actually giving me a reason to finally buckle down and watch this movie. I’ve been meaning to see Bad Lieutenant since it came out, but for a variety of reasons (mostly because I suck the only new movies I watch these days are ones I can catch at my local multiplex in between my day and night job on Thursdays) I never actually got around to it. Shameful, really.

Anyway, I imagine that there weren’t many people who watched BL:POCNO and said to themselves “Huh, good movie, but I wish it had been a little more out there.” This is, after all, a movie that features the line “Shoot him again, his soul is still dancing,” followed by a dead gangster’s spirit doing windmills on the floor. But fair, or not, that was close to my reaction to this movie. Not that it wasn’t great, and not that it wasn’t fucking nuts in its own right. But I’m sorry, you get Nicolas Cage and Werner Herzog together, you give them a big budget, and you have them remake a movie like the original Bad Lieutenant, and a man can’t help but have a certain level of expectation. And as weird, as disturbing and as absolutely hilarious as this movie was on occasion, it just didn’t quite live up to those expectations for me.

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Charts on Fire / Livebloggin’: MTV’s Top 20 Videos of the Day, 3/17/10

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on March 17, 2010

One of the many wonderful benefits of being a partial insomniac /vampire is that I’m often actually awake for the hours of the day that MTV shows music videos (yes, this really does still happen, although it was a close call for a couple years in the mid-00s). Even better, apparently MTV now has a regular countdown of its top 20 videos of the day from 8:00-10:00 AM, a development which would’ve cost me about about an aggregate year’s worth of sleep if it had happened back when I was 12. And since I’m up for good and have a couple hours to kill before going to the first of my two jobs today–don’t be like me, kids–I figured this would be a good opportunity for me to sound off on some of the top 40’s recent best and brightest. And what luck you all are in to bear witness to my period of semi-lucidity! (I missed #20 switching with Mike and Mike in the Morning–one of early-morning TV’s other rare pleasures–so we’re starting at #19).

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Posted in Charts on Fire | 3 Comments »

Say Anything: Saturday Night Fever

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on March 16, 2010

Mostly as a result of it just being on TV a lot the last month or so, I’ve become obsessed recently with Saturday Night Fever. I always liked the movie and was always fairly fascinated by it–mainly due to the general disconnect between the movie’s remembered public perception (Grease set in the disco era) and the movie’s actual content (Mean Streets with a couple of scenes set in a disco). But since I’ve watched it a couple more times, I’ve come to appreciate it even further, both as a cool and somewhat bizarre moment in cultural history, and as an edgy, surprisingly dark, and just really fucking good movie. Some of the reasons for my recent infatuation:

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Friday Request Line: You Don’t Mess Around With Jim vs. Bad, Bad Leroy Brown

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on March 13, 2010

For this week’s edition of the Friday Request Line, reader and friend of the blog Kyle writes:

“I’m still waiting for my request of several years ago to see the “vs” column on Jim Croce.”

Indeed you are, Kyle. And not without reason–it is a tantalizing question of relative significance. For those of you not particularly familiar with this dilemma, in the 1970s, singer/songwriter Jim Croce had two huge hits with songs on the subject of folk-villain-type badasses: “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim” and “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.” Not only is the subject matter of the two songs basically the same, but the structures are identical, both have the same kind of 30s-retro feel, and the legacy of each ended up being almost the exact same. Unsurprisingly, the difference in quality between the two is marginal at best–but it is there, and as such, it must be determined. Now truth told, neither are by any means my favorite Jim Croce song–those honors would belong to “I Got a Name,” a slightly more understated number whose breakdown is responsible (directly or indirectly) for providing the hook to Stone Temple Pilots’ 90s alt-rock classic “Interstate Love Song.” But this is not one of the songs in question, and thus is immaterial to the debate. So let’s get down to business.

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Posted in Request Line, Vs. | 3 Comments »

OMGWTFLOL: Making Sense of a World Where Sandra Bullock Wins Oscars

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on March 9, 2010

OK, so first and foremost, let’s not act like this is the first time that this has happened. Plenty of Academy Award winners throughout history have had past lives that made their newfound prestige almost impossible to reconcile. Sean Penn was once just the stoner from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Halle Berry starred in Swordfish immediately before Monster’s Ball, and if you had told someone in 1985 that Mel Gibson and Kevin Costner would both win Oscars for directing before Martin Scorsese got his, they’d bash your skull in with a vinyl copy of Brothers in Arms. Part of the fine legacy or the Oscar is its ability to make the unfathomable not only possible, but downright normative–which is why six months from now, absolutely no one will give a second’s thought as to how the chick who made Point Break and K-19: The Widowmaker was able to capture one of film making’s highest honors. It’s part of the process, and we’re all certainly used to it by now–we’ve even come to expect it, to a certain extent.

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Friday Request Line: Juelz Santana’s “Mixin’ Up the Medicine”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on March 5, 2010

As you may or may not have noticed, we here at IITS have no problem with writing a lot–too much, no doubt, say the haters–about any number of topics, when properly driven. The drive, however, is occasionally a difficult thing to come by, mostly due to a general paucity of ideas–one can only write about Lady Antebellum and the Memphis Grizzlies so many times before the impact dulls somewhat. This is where you, the reader, having taken and taken from IITS over the years, can now finally do your part to give back a little. Every Friday here at IITS, we will be emptying out the mailbag in the form of the Request Line column. So if there’s ever a song on the radio, a new commercial, an upcoming playoff series, whatever, which strikes you as a subject you would be interested in hearing the IITS take on, leave a note in a recent article’s comments or tweet us at, and the upcoming Friday, we’ll issue a short analysis. And if not, just more Old Spice articles. Sound good? Right then.

So, for our maiden voyage, a note from reader Andy Hutchins, left in a recent Black Eyed Peas article:

I post [Juelz Santana’s “Mixing Up the Medicine”] for two reasons:

1) I’d like to hear your opinion on the song.
2) I need to share “Still makin’ money off the white girl — Fergie” with you.”

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Your Cover’s Blown: Yellow Magic Orchestra – “Tighten Up” (1980)

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on March 4, 2010

Archie Bell & the Drells’ 1968 classic “Tighten Up” was always one of the more idiosyncratic US #1 hits. A funky soul number based on a percolating bass line and choppy two-note guitar rifff, the song simply featured Bell commanding his pledges through various musical directions (most of them tightening-up-related) for three-plus minutes of entirely verse-less and chorus-less bliss-out groove. With only a sporadic horn break coming to interrupt the song’s mellow, its hypnotic rhythms had far more in common structurally with the disco and house records of future decades than it did with any of its 60s soul peers (although it’s possible that all soul outfits in Houston sounded like this–I doubt I could name you a single other soul outfit to ever hail from H-Town, unless we’re counting Lil’ Flip). The song’s backstory is just as weird, with Bell being drafted into the Army just as the song was taking off, and getting shot int he leg in the process (thus, as Wikipedia somewhat wryfully points out, making the “we dance just as good as we walk” line “a little ironic”).

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Power Rankings: NBA Bandwagon Teams Going into the Post-Season

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on March 1, 2010

So we’re about two-thirds into the NBA season, and already for many of us (especially those of us in the Tri-State Area), there’s nothing really left to root for with our home teams until the lottery comes. However, in the age of enlightenment (and NBA League Pass), while we grit our teeth and remain supportive to our flailing franchises, we can also let our eye start to wander a little, in search of a team worth hitching our wagons to come post-season time. So as the playoff races tighten and shit starts to get real, the question arises: Who’s worth getting in the bunker with?

The qualities one looks for in a good bandwagon team are many. You want a team that’s familiar enough that you feel like you can kind of naturally slip into their fandom, but not one that’s not so stale that you feel that they can’t surprise you. You want a team that’s maybe a little up-and-coming so you can kind of grow with them, but not one that’s so raw that they don’t have a chance to even make a dent in the first round. You want a team that maybe offers a league vet or two a long-delayed shot at true glory, but definitely not one with so many has-beens that it starts to get depressing.

With all that in mind, I’ve taken the 18 teams remaining with a shot at making the playoffs (defined as within five games of the conference eighth seed for the sake of this article) and ranked them based on their potential for a rewarding bandwagon experience from this point forward. I’ve disqualified the Lakers and Cavaliers due to their being the overwhelming favorites to make the finals, since I can’t really endorse such shallow front-running (And because for wildly differing reasons, I find it utterly impossible to remain objective about either LeBron James or Kobe Bryant). But don’t worry–there’s still plenty of teams to choose from. Here they are, from 18 to 1–and be sure to let me know who you’re watching for these days as well:

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Posted in Clap Clap ClapClapClap, Power Rankings | 14 Comments »