Thursday, March 08, 2007

Desert Island

I was watching The Office episode "The Fire" the other day, and Jim was quizzing the employees about their "desert island" movies, or the movies they would be watching for the rest of their lives. I always love these activities but I tend to think a little too seriously about them. Nevertheless, here are some ideas for movies, albums, and books (Keep in mind, I have an iPod loaded with hundreds of albums, tens of audiobooks, and space for a few movies. These things are fun! It's like one of those MySpace quizzes that only girls take the time to fill out):


I don't think I've seen enough classic movies to really make a commitment, but I'm getting there. I'm evolving.

My all-time favorite movie is Swingers, so that's a given. A great Guys movie with Vince Vaughn at his smooth-talkingest and Jon Favreau not weighing 350 pounds yet. This movie changed my life. Single-handedly brought the phrase "you're so fucking money and you don't even know it" in my rotation of quotes sophomore year at college.

I suppose I would need to have one of the Godfathers, but Part I or Part II? Part II is an absurdly long movie and you get two stories out of it, so that would take up some time. But I think the original is a superior movie. I'll take Part I.
I'm looking at my DVD rack and not seeing a lot of classics in there, besides The Departed, but I'm pissed because the DVD doesn't have a director's commentary. What movie doesn't have a commentary track at this point? Isn't that a prerequisite to make a DVD nowadays? Especially a Scorsese film?

I have a problem with buying very bad movies that I only like ironically, like How High and Pootie Tang. I'm trying to kick this habit, but it's like heroin. They seem like such good ideas at the time.

I put the list of AFI's (the American Film Institute, not the semi-shitty band) 100 Greatest Movies on my Netflix queue. I'm in a Scorsese phase right now so I've watched Taxi Driver and I'm waiting for Raging Bull, Mean Streets, and Goodfellas, but I've been able to watch Citizen Kane, On The Waterfront, and A Streetcar Named Desire. These are all good movies, though I thoroughly enjoyed Citizen Kane. Considering it is regarded as the greatest movie ever made, I think that should make the cut by default.

Anchorman never ceases to make me laugh, so it's definitely coming along. I still quote Ron Burgandy, Champ Kind, Brian Fantana, and Brick Tamland all the time, months and years after other people moved on to Borat lines. Anchorman just does not stop being funny to me. I watch it every time I'm down.

So I'm bringing my all-time favorite movie in Swingers, two legitimate classics in The Godfather and Citizen Kane, and a ridiculous, quotable movie that gets better every time in Anchorman.


My first choice, without question, would be OK Computer by Radiohead. Like most of the music I'm into right now, I've only really been exposed to/acquired a taste for it in the past 6-8 months. Simply put, I think this is the greatest album ever recorded. It is a flawless work of art that flows together perfectly without one song that I'm not heavily moved by in some way (except maybe "No Surprises" which I really like but don't love). Even the album art is great, it fits the theme perfectly, just a weird blue/green wasteland.There is never a time where I don't feel like listening to OK Computer.

However, I think the follow-up Kid A is almost as genius, and upon checking on my iTunes play counts, it actually has more spins the OK Computer. Neither are very uplifting, but since Kid A is pretty hypnotic and tends to put me to sleep, it will have to stay home. OK Computer keeps my attention for each song, just because it rocks so hard.

I read somewhere that you should pick an album you don't really understand, something really avant garde. Often with records like that, it takes many, many listens before you "get it." There are sort-of-weird albums I didn't like when I bought them at the time in middle school or high school (Pearl Jam's Vitology, Tool's Lateralus) that I love now, because I have grown as a music fan. I'm gonna need something that will take a while. I'm gonna need something really weird.

I'm taking TV on the Radio's Return to Cookie Mountain. This is an album I bought last fall after reading countless reviews calling it the "new OK Computer" and every critic having it at the top of their Best Of lists for 2006. As stated about 70 times already, I love OK Computer, so I bought it. But, as much as I try, I just don't get it yet (except "Wolf Like Me," and "I Was A Lover," which are legitimately awesome), despite possibly having the greatest album title ever imagined. I try to like it, because I feel smart when I understand something like this, but so far it ain't happening. Return to Cookie Mountain is just flat-out weird most of the time, but maybe over a period of a couple years it will "unravel itself" and I'll think it's genius. Or maybe that will be the sun poisoning.

Most people would assume I would take a Coheed & Cambria record because I don't shut up about them, but this is not the case. I used to think long and hard about which one I would take because I go back and forth about which one I think is the greatest (again, I've put far too much serious thought into this desert island game). But my conclusion is this: while I have periods of time where I think that no other band has ever made great music, I also have periods of time where I just can't take it. It's not love/hate relationship, because I will always love them, but enough can be enough. Coheed & Cambria has reached the point of diminishing returns. Until they come out with something new and great (hopefully soon!), Co&Ca need not punch their ticket.

I'm going to have to keep this island On N' Poppin', so some hip-hop is in order to preserve my sexy. Jay-Z's The Blueprint. This is another great, great album. A lot of classic rap albums feel dated to me, such as Illmatic or The Chronic, and I think rap albums in general are more just collections of songs rather than true "albums" with common themes throughout. The Blueprint doesn't really get old for me, and its theme is evident: Jay-Z is way, way more awesome than you or I shall ever be. Produced by Kanye West before he became insufferably annoying and overrated as a rapper, it's his best work. The album is not marred by any guest appearances other than Eminem on "Renegades", who, as Nas said in "Ether", murdered Jay on his own shit. That verse made me love Eminem. I like Rolling Stone's summarization: "If Frank Sinatra ever made a rap album, he would have made The Blueprint." Whenever I listen to it I feel like I should be wearing a suit smoking Cuban cigars. However, I doubt I'll have access to these luxuries. The suits will be worn by monkey butlers.

Every desert island needs an obligatory Led Zeppelin record, because every desert island needs to rock. I'm taking Physical Graffiti over anything else in the Zepalogue. This might be considered cheating because it's a double album, but I think you get the most bang for your buck. It's got "Custard Pie," "The Rover," "Kashmir," "Sick Again," "In The Light," "Trampled Under Foot," "The Wanton Song," among others. It's a pretty heavy record, and even though it's not technically their best, it is the last great Zeppelin album. My favorite Zep album is III and Houses of the Holy is probably the best over all, but I enjoy listening to Physical Graffiti the most. It makes me feel like summer, which I bet living on a desert island is pretty much summer all the time.

So, to summarize: OK Computer, Return to Cookie Mountain, The Blueprint, and Physical Graffiti. That's a pretty good selection, I think.


Books, I don't know. I've never really read that much. I guess I would take anything by Chuck Klosterman, probably Killing Yourself to Live, but hopefully by the time I go to the island he would have put out an anthology or boxed set of everything and I could sneak that aboard the boat/hydrofoil. He's definitely my favorite writer, as most of you can tell with my constant quoting and away messages. While his Esquire columns have kind of sucked lately, Klosterman is still a genius.

Since I'm on an island, I'll have time to amass complete world knowledge. I'm sure this is cheating too, but I would take The New York Times Practical Guide to Practically Everything and The New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge. I love almanacs and I love The New York Times, and there's gotta be some shit in one of those about building a raft.

I should probably take an old classic. War and Peace is apparantly good, and I think it's like 6,000 pages or something. That will kill some time. Ah fuck it, just mail me my goddamn Esquire.