Life Goes On

ATTENTION: We now interrupt The Dave & Kristen Show's steady stream of movie, music, and book reviews to bring you something from our actual lives. Yes, imagine that, using our blog to update you on what we are up to.

A quick word on that—it seems like most of our family news is Eddie-related, and thus it is relegated to his blog. As for Kristen and I, it feels like we haven't left the house all winter. Luckily, there are countless ways to write about the aforementioned media, so we haven't been short on blogging material yet.

We went down to Cedar City on Thursday night to spend the weekend with Kristen's family. I have to say, aside from not getting paid as much, I am really digging the short work week. On Friday morning, we dropped Eddie off at Kristen's brother's house and drove down to St. George to go the temple. This was our first time going through this temple, and it was a nice break from the cold weather (and the boy too—don't tell him I said that).

On Saturday morning, I went golfing with the guys. While I have played "Mario" and "miniature" many times, this was my first time playing "real" golf. Let me assure you that I was awesome, never once hitting the ball out of bounds, botching an easy putt, or swinging and missing the ball completely. Unfortunately, there are no photos, scorecards, or testimonials to back up this claim.

Back at the house on Saturday afternoon, the weather was really nice, so we sat out on the front lawn for a while. Eddie obviously wasn't used to the prickly feeling of grass on his bare legs, so he kept lifting them up in the air just high enough so they wouldn't touch the blades.

Eddie's cousin Riley has just started walking. Perhaps in just a few more months, he will be joining her.

Grandma Andrews spending some quality time with her pride and joy.

Finally, on Saturday night, I bowled a 6 pack of strikes on Wii Sports en route to pro bowler status and a new house record of 229. So if my new golf career doesn't pan out, at least I will have Wii bowling to fall back on.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.


Let the Wild Rumpus Start

Maurice Sendak's Where The Wild Things Are is one my all-time favorite children's books, so I was cautiously excited when I heard it was being adapted into a live action film. Most of my apprehension subsided though when I heard Spike Jonze was attached to direct. His original, offbeat touch seems to be a perfect fit for this classic story of childhood mischief. I haven't seen any of Jonze's full length movies (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation), but I am very familiar with his always inventive music videos, most notably Weezer's Happy Days tribute "Buddy Holly," and Fatboy Slim's "Weapon of Choice," which most people know as the video where Christopher Walken dances.

The release date has been pushed back a couple of times before eventually settling on October 16th. There has been very little info released about the movie until just recently. The first poster showed up online a few weeks ago, and this week, the first trailer made its debut. As always, it is difficult to judge a whole movie based on a 2 minute clip, but I am loving what I see so far. The character designs are very faithful to Sendak's illustrations, and Arcade Fire's "Wake Up" sets the proper tone for what looks to be a very imaginative journey. But that's enough blabbering from me. Take a look, and by all means, don't keep your thoughts to yourself.


Favorite Commercials, Pt. 3


Singin' In The Rain Remix (Volkswagon Golf GTI)
"The original, updated."

After watching Singin' In The Rain for the first time a few weeks ago, I was reminded of this too cool for words reimagining of its most famous scene. Now I'm hoping for a sequel featuring a remixed version of "Make 'Em Laugh." (Video)

Wrestling Abe Lincoln (Diet Mountain Dew)
"I'll give you a reply!"

I just saw this commercial for the first time last night. I didn't actually laugh at all while watching it, but I started to innocently chuckle as it was ending. Soon I was laughing uncontrollably, and continued to do so for a couple of minutes. My favorite part has to be when he whacks the guy doing the old timey boxer routine over the head with a chair. (Video)


Black & Decker Snake Light
"Yeah I'm the snake light, I get around 'n' round 'n' round..."

My friend Scott and I used to sing this jingle all the time back in the day. I'm still not sure why we found it so awesome, but that doesn't change the fact that it is. (Video)

Partnership for a Drug-Free America 1
"You, alright! I learned it by watching you!"

Man the dad in this is such a jerk. He has the nerve to interrupt his son with "Answer me!" as he is trying to answer, then we find out he was a druggie all along. And what about that mustache? Jerk. Jerk. Jerk. (Video)

Partnership for a Drug-Free America 2
"This is drugs. This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?"

The anti-drug public service announcements of the 80's could totally beat up those "Truth" ads we see nowadays, am I right or am I right? (Video)

How Many Licks? (Tootsie Pops)
"How many licks does it take to get to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop? The world may never know."

Here is another classic ad from my youth, but I have a few lingering questions, namely, is that kid wearing any clothes, and how can he let that conniving owl get away with chomping down his entire tootsie pop? (Video)


A Novel Idea

As many of you know, I am a big fan of Daniel Craig as James Bond (what girl isn't?). However, I had never been particularly interested in the older 007 movies. After seeing Quantum of Solace, I had a conversation with a friend who hadn't seen it. She mentioned that she had heard the plot was weak because it was "the only Bond movie not based on a book." I was intrigued by this statement. I had seen and heard enough about the Bond movies to know how ridiculous and campy some of them are and figured there was no way the books could be that lame, so I decided it was time to read some Ian Fleming.

I checked out For Your Eyes Only on a whim when I was at the library, as it was the only Fleming novel on the shelf. I was embarrassed by the scantily clad woman on the cover, so I made sure to put it face down on the checkout pad. What I didn't realize until I starting reading was that this particular book is actually a collection of short stories. Several of the titles have movies named after them, such as "For Your Eyes Only," "From A View to a Kill," and "Quantum of Solace." I was surprised to see that Fleming attempted to make Bond sympathetic in several ways. Bond really isn't a heartless killing machine, but in few of the stories, he goes out of his way to not kill someone, which really turns out bad for him. He is still a ladies man, and I was a bit amused by his treatment of women. I believe at one point in "For Your Eyes Only," Bond tells a woman that she's trying to do "man's work."

My friend was right about one thing, the movie Quantum of Solace is not based on the "Quantum of Solace" short story at all. But she was wrong about it being the only Bond movie not based on a book—Dave tells me the Bond producers have long since run out of Fleming books to base the movies on, with the notable exception of Casino Royale, which I checked out next.

Since I have seen the movie Casino Royale (many, many times), I figured the novel should make an interesting comparison. Surprisingly, the movie does follow the novel relatively closely. Of course, Fleming wrote about evil Russians and SPECTRE, so the screenwriters changed the enemy to a more generic terrorist threat to apply to today's world. But I was surprised to find Bond playing cards against Le Chiffre as Mathis and Vesper watched, and that the torture scene was almost identical. The complex relationship between Bond and Vesper also played a critical role. There was even a man with an eye patch named Gettler (a detail in the movie that Dave didn't even notice until I pointed it out).

Since reading these and a few more, I have developed a new appreciation for the films. Spike TV had a Christmas Bondathon where they showed three Bond movies a day leading up to Christmas, so I decided to tune in. Also, Dave has been checking out several of the movies from the library in light of my newfound tolerance. I have now seen all or parts of Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only, and Octopussy. Dave's only response to all this has been, "Thank you, Daniel Craig."

But Roger Moore is so disgusting that I could still change my mind.


Adventures in Corned Beef

Dave and I are not particularly festive when it comes to St. Patrick's Day (Dave didn't even wear green this year). However, when Harmon's had corned beef on sale this week, we decided to give it a whirl. After all, bargains are a good thing. I bought a slab during my weekly grocery shopping trip and used our favorite cooking site, www.allrecipes.com, to figure out how to cook it.

What you should know is that I am easily grossed out. Just the name "corned beef" makes me cringe a bit. So then when I discovered that the traditional way to cook corned beef is to boil it (I think the technical term is "braise"), I was even more skeptical. But, I thought that if we were going to try corned beef, we were going to try it the way it's meant to be.

So, I opened up the package and plopped the 2.5 pound roast into a big pot, sprinkled in the seasoning, and added water (a lot of water). And then I boiled it. About an hour or so into boiling, we added carrots and potatoes to the mix. I have to admit, it was a little disconcerting to see my beef bobbing around in the frothy water, but it smelled pretty good, so that helped dispel my fears.

After it had boiled for about 2 1/2 hours, we figured it was done. The pink color was a little unsettling, but when we tried it we were pleasantly surprised. And, the roast was big enough that we have leftover shredded corned beef to make sandwiches tomorrow. That means that for just over $7, we got a good dinner and two or three lunches. Not bad, I'd say.


100 Years 100 Movies: Tinseltown Talkies

I have a confession to make. I recently started one of those pesky tags on Facebook. After having only read 16 books from a list of 100 literary classics that Kristen passed on to me, I created a "100 Movies" variation of my own using AFI's 100 Years 100 Movies list. I was surprised to discover that I had only seen 36, and determined I needed to get on the ball if I still wanted to consider myself a movie buff (yet I'm not all that concerned about the low number of books I have read—go figure). Based on my own wish list, and some recommendations from some of my fellow Facebookers, I started putting several movies on hold at the library.

My ongoing familiarization with classic American cinema seems like a logical subject for a periodical series on our blog, so here we are. For my inaugural post, the first pair of movies we watched are actually about making movies, or more specifically, Hollywood's transition from silent films to "talking pictures." They even came out around the same time (the early '50s), but that is where the similarities end, as their approach to the topic couldn't be more different.

5. Singin' In The Rain (1952)

Even though Kristen does her best to turn our lives into a musical with frequent, improvised song and dance routines, we don't really consider ourselves fans of the musical genre. Singin' In the Rain is arguably the granddaddy of all musicals, but my only prior knowledge of the film involved a certain someone swinging on a lamp post. The premise of the film revolves around Hollywood's humorous initial attempts to encorporate sound in movies. Many silent stars are finding this transition to be a difficult one, particularly Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and his squeaky voiced co-star Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen). But let me assure you, any conflict is merely perfunctory as this is about as light-hearted and optimistic as a movie can get. Admittedly, the incessantly cheerful tone isn't really my cup of tea, but the sheer skill and dexterity on display during the musical numbers is something to behold. Donald O'Connor's "Make 'Em Laugh" is a body contorting, show stopping highlight. And like me, whether or not you have ever seen Singin' In the Rain, everyone is familiar with Kelly's iconic performance of the title song on a deserted street in a rain storm. Kristen and I have been mimicking Kelly's broad, toothy smile ever since.
Rod: Lina, you're a beautiful woman. Audiences think you've got a voice to match. The studio's gotta keep their stars from looking ridiculous at any cost.
Cosmo: Nobody's got that much money.

16. Sunset Boulevard (1950)

By contrast, Sunset Boulevard is a much more cynical, biting look at the dark side of Hollywood, so naturally I preferred it to Singin' In The Rain. The story is told from the perspective of Joe Gillis (William Holden), a young, down on his luck writer who has a chance encounter Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), an aging, forgotten star of the silent film era. In a town without pity, these two desperate individuals find solace in each other's arms. But as Gillis begins to look for a way out of this trap that is closing in around him, the wheels of the inevitable, tragic conclusion are set in motion. The black & white film noir stylings, along with Holden's hard boiled, posthumous narration perfectly captures the plight of the Hollywood screenwriter, and gives the film its conflicted soul. As for the other lead, at first glance, Swanson's performance is overly theatrical to the point of distraction, but that is who the character is, so it works. Her creepy glare has also become a fun face for Kristen and I to make at each other, followed of course by a Gene Kelly smile—or better yet, a combination of both.
Joe Gillis: You used to be in silent pictures. You used to be big.
Norma Desmond: I am big. It's the pictures that got small.


You Said It, Pt. 2


"Where were the other drugs going!?"
Batman (Christian Bale) // Batman Begins

"Dost thus have thou a mug of ale for me and me mate? He has been pitched in battle for a fortnight and has a king's thirst for the frosty brew thus thou might have for thus."
Chip Douglas (Jim Carrey) // The Cable Guy

"So... what are you tryin' to say?"
Chip Douglas (Jim Carrey) // The Cable Guy

"Did you hear that?"
Buddy (Will Ferrell) // Elf

"Am I right or am I right or am I right? Right right right."
Ned Ryerson (Stephen Tobolowsky) // Groundhog Day

"Do you have an appointment?"
Secretary (Mary Lou Rosato) // The Hudsucker Proxy

"Why are we eating here?"
Wrigley (Paul Adelstein) // Intolerable Cruelty

"What about their legs? They don't need those."
Grishnákh (Stephen Ure) // Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

"You hear that, Mr. Anderson? That is the sound of inevitability."
Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) // The Matrix

"How do you know so much about swallows?"
Sir Bedevere (Terry Jones) // Monty Python and the Holy Grail

"What? What did you say?"
Nute Gunray (Silas Carson) // Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

"You call hamburgers steamed hams?"
Superintendent Chalmers (Hank Azaria) // The Simpsons


"Mustard? No let's be silly!"
The Mad Hatter (Ed Wynn) // Alice in Wonderland

"The easy way."
3-D (Casey Siemaszko) // Back to the Future Part II

"Sorry to disappoint."
Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) // Batman Begins

"Don't tell anybody."
Bank Teller (Bonnie Johnson) // Big Fish

"No, no, no, that's a terrible idea, son!"
Bill Bogs (Alan Arkin) // Edward Scissorhands

Edward (Johnny Depp) // Edward Scissorhands

"Nine Times."
Ed Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) // Ferris Bueller's Day Off

"It's only a model."
Patsy (Terry Gilliam) // Monty Python and the Holy Grail

"That don't make no sense!"
Pete (John Turturro) // O Brother, Where Art Thou?

"I love that story."
Pee Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) // Pee Wee's Big Adventure

Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld) // Seinfeld

"That's gold, Jerry. Gold!"
Kenny Bania (Steve Hytner) // Seinfeld

Principal Skinner (Harry Shearer) // The Simpsons

"Yes, I certainly do."
Poochie, the Rockin' Dog (Homer Simpson) // The Simpsons

The Yes Guy (Dan Castellaneta) // The Simpsons

"Son of a... that's gonna leave a mark."
Tommy Calahan (Chris Farley) // Tommy Boy

"Wow. That's amazing!"
Truman (Jim Carrey) // The Truman Show

"They were cones!"
Sammy (Allen Covert) // The Wedding Singer

C'mon now, surely more than one person has some favorite quotes to share.


You Said It, Pt. 1

There are dozens of lines from movies and TV shows that Kristen and I reference all the time. Recently, we attempted to write down as many of these quotes as we could think of off the top of our heads. Then, with each passing day, we would catch ourselves quoting something else and add it to the list.

After a few weeks of compiling, we ended up with a whopping 60 quotes, which we then organized into five categories and divided into two installments. Some are famous. Some are obscure. Some are funny. Some we like to make fun of. Some we have been quoting for so long that we had to really think to remember what it was originally from.

How you say the line is usually the most important part, so I have gone to great efforts to create a sound clip for each quote. Hopefully they will still make some sense even though they are out of context (though a few don't make sense even in context, which is why we find them funny). For maximum enjoyment, try to imagine Kristen and I saying each one.


"Okay, I'm goin'... takin' off... see ya."
Chip Douglas (Jim Carrey) // The Cable Guy

"Bye, Buddy. Hope you find your dad."
Mr. Narwhal (Uncredited) // Elf

"Hello father."
Barty Crouch Jr. (David Tennant) // Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld) // Seinfeld


"Buck up, little camper."
Charles De Mar (Curtis Armstrong) // Better Off Dead

"Let off some steam, Bennett."
John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) // Commando

"Move it or lose it, sister!"
Lloyd (Jim Carrey) // Dumb & Dumber

"You have only three choices: run... hide... or die."
Danielle Rousseau (Mira Furlan) // Lost


"Beavers and ducks."
Terry (Billy Bob Thornton) // Bandits

"Truly a sight to behold."
Yee Sook Ree (Yuji Okumoto) // Better Off Dead

"You can't buy the necessities of life with cookies."
Bill Bogs (Alan Arkin) // Edward Scissorhands

"Ferris Bueller, you're my hero."
Cameron Fry (Alan Ruck) // Ferris Bueller's Day Off

"People like blood sausage too. People are morons."
Phil Connors (Bill Murray) // Groundhog Day

"But I doubt it, I most seriously doubt it, as I doubt also that you could find a home at Amazing Tales, a periodical which I have enjoyed for many years."
Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins) // The Hudsucker Proxy

"Silly man, I am a baron!"
Heinz, the Baron Krauss von Espy (Jonathan Hadary) // Intolerable Cruelty

"Crumbs on his jacketses!"
Gollum (Andy Serkis) // Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

"Only the thing is... we're gonna have to take the boy."
Tom (M. C. Gainey) // Lost

"Sweet summer rain."
Sheriff Cooley (Daniel Von Bargen) // O Brother, Where Art Thou?

"I don't make monkeys, I just train 'em!"
Pee Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) // Pee Wee's Big Adventure

"You're killin' me, Petey!"
Coach Boone (Denzel Washington) // Remember the Titans

"That cheese is like lava."
Turk (Donald Faison) // Scrubs

"Ahhh! I'm insane with anger!"
Graham Hess (Mel Gibson) // Signs

"It was very dark."
Merrill Hess (Joaquin Phoenix) // Signs

"I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time."
Grandpa Simpson (Dan Castellaneta) // The Simpsons

"Oh I hated the Colonel with his wee beady eyes and that smug look on his face, 'Oh, you're going to buy my chicken,' oooh!"
Stuart Mackenzie (Mike Myers) // So I Married An Axe Murderer

"I bought myself a Juice Tiger. I'm on a new diet. I'm on a Weekly World News Garth Brooks juice diet."
May Mackenzie (Brenda Fricker) // So I Married An Axe Murderer

"Tommy like-y. Tommy want wing-y."
Tommy Calahan (Chris Farley) // Tommy Boy

"I'm goin' higher than before!"
Arnie Grape (Leonardo DiCaprio) // What's Eating Gilbert Grape

"I think I'm getting the black lung, Pop."
Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) // Zoolander

"I invented the piano key necktie! I invented it!"
Mugatu (Will Ferrell) // Zoolander

Feel free to share some of your favorite lines to quote in the comments.


Books I Read This Week

I love to read, but ever since I was pregnant and lost my attention span, reading has been hit-and-miss for me. I take comfort in the fact that I try, even if I don't succeed. I've also noticed lately that I read in spurts. I can go a month or two without reading anything (or in the case of January, only reading one Ian Fleming 007 novel), and then I'll read three or four books in quick succession.

This week was just such a time. I noticed how my "List of Books to Read" keeps growing and I haven't been checking anything off. So I decided to put some of the books on hold at the library, thinking they'd come available at different times and I would read them as I got them. Of course, three of them came available at the exact same time, so I checked them all out.

I'm hoping this will become a regular feature on our blog... assuming that I find books that can keep my attention long enough for me to read them. Without further ado, here are the books I read this week:

Anthem by Ayn Rand

You loyal readers will remember that I am a big Ayn Rand fan (say "Ayn Rand fan" five times fast). I loved all 1192 pages of Atlas Shrugged, so I also read The Fountainhead, and it was great as well. After those, Anthem was a breeze at fewer than 70 pages. I read it in a couple of hours. This novel runs in the same vein as Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World, detailing a future society where the individual's only function is to serve the whole of society. The characters speak of themselves as "we" instead of "I." They have names like Equality 7-2521 and Liberty 5-3000, so it was a bit strange at first. But as the story progresses, you see the liberating effects of education and true love as Equality 7-2521 discovers himself and leaves his "brothers" behind. I would recommend it.
"We are one in all and all in one. There are no men but only the great WE, one, indivisible and forever."

Atonement by Ian McEwan

I decided to read this book because I thought the movie looked good. I didn't see the movie because it is rated 'R,' and now that I've read the book, I can see why. There is some pretty rough language in the book (mostly in the WWII scenes), as well as violence and sex. But it was very thought-provoking. I really liked it up until the last 15 pages. Then it drove me crazy and after I finished it, I couldn't stop thinking about how much the end of the book bothered me. I spent hours trying to figure out why it bothered me so much. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good, heart-breaking love story, but be prepared to be bugged at the end. And for those who don't care if it's spoiled, here you go:

SPOILER ALERT! The story is about a young girl who makes terrible accusations against her sister's lover, which destroys her family. Through the entire book, the reader is waiting for the atonement—the moment when the truth comes out and everything ends happily resolved. That moment comes, but pages later, the narrator turns it on its head by suggesting that she may have fictionalized that part. I know it's fiction, so none of it actually happened, but I am the type of reader who reads fiction to imagine that it's real.

I suppose as an English Lit major, I should appreciate the novel for this twist at the end. I should appreciate that the fact that Briony fictionalized her atonement for her crimes fits beautifully with the rest of the story. Intellectually, I do appreciate those things. But emotionally, I'm still having a hard time with it. According to the Amazon.com review, "Atonement is about the pleasures, pains, and dangers of writing, and perhaps even more, about the challenge of controlling what readers make of your writing." I can't argue with that.
"The cost of oblivious daydreaming was always this moment of return, the realignment with what had been before and now seemed a little worse. Her reverie, once rich in plausible details, had become a passing silliness before the hard mass of the actual. It was difficult to come back."

One True Thing by Anna Quindlen

I'm not sure where I heard of this book, but after reading the book jacket, I decided to give it a whirl. This book is about a daughter who really comes to know her parents when she returns home to take care of her ailing mother. I'm not giving anything away when I say that the mom dies (it tells you that on the first page). The novel is about finding out who people really are in the face of tragedy. I really liked it because it makes you think about your own relationships and how your view of other people is colored by your own perspective. I wouldn't say it's a fun read, but I would still recommend it to anyone who has a mother. It might make you appreciate her more.
"We'd made her simpler all her life, simpler than her real self. We'd made her what we needed her to be. We'd made her ours, our one true thing."
Coming Soon: The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and Walking Across Egypt by Clyde Edgerton.


U2 Discography: Walk On

Previously: Zoo Station

All That You Can't Leave Behind (2000)

I was busy knocking on doors in Marshalltown, Iowa when All That You Can't Leave Behind came out. I wasn't even aware of its existence until my companion and I were wandering around the mall on P-Day. As we passed Sam Goody, I stopped in my tracks and took a few steps back so I could get a good look at the large promotional poster of the album cover in the store window. Obviously I couldn't rush in and buy it, but I would occasionally hear snippets of "Beautiful Day" in the grocery store or other public places. My first reaction? Awesome! The Edge sounds like the Edge again! My friend Spencer sent me a tape telling me what he was up to, and thoughtfully included "Beautiful Day" in its entirety. I must confess, I was weak and listened to the song once all the way through. When I returned home several months later, It was the first album I bought. However, once the newness factor wore off, I began to notice that after the strong first half, which is loaded with hit singles, the album's momentum slows down considerably. Songs like "In a Little While" and "When I Look at the World" aren't necessarily bad, but they aren't all that interesting either.
Highlights: Beautiful Day, Walk On, Kite, New York
My Rating: 7.5/10

How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb (2004)

The "Vertigo" iPod commercial had already been playing non-stop during the 2004 baseball playoffs (Hmm, I can't seem to recall who won that year...) when I got my first taste of the rest of How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. I was holed up in the basement of Utah State's PR & Marketing building, hard at work in my quest to read the entire internet when I discovered that the full album had been leaked a few weeks before the official release. In light of this, it was quickly made available on the band's official website via streaming audio, and I was happy to get in several early listens. Though it is largely a continuation of the stripped back approach taken with All That You Can't Leave Behind, I immediately preferred Bomb. With its more rock oriented sound, I find it to be a stronger collection of songs overall. On the other hand, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb has to be U2's most heavy handed album title, with their worst cover art since October. Plus, the otherwise solid "Miracle Drug" features one of Bono's most groan-inducing lyrical moments of all time: "Freedom has as a scent, like the top of a new born baby's head."
Highlights: Vertigo, Miracle Drug, Love And Peace Or Else, City of Blinding Lights
My Rating: 8/10

No Line On The Horizon (2009)

For a band with such a mythic career, U2's only competition at this point is their own history. I assure you (along with several hundred other critics), it is quite impossible to discuss No Line On The Horizon without properly setting the table with key moments that have transpired in the last dozen years. After the mixed reaction to Pop, the band released The Best of 1980-1990. The overwhelming sentiment at the time seemed to be that they should go back to being the earnest U2 of the '80s. But two back-to-basics albums later, it has now become trendy to pine for their bygone experimental days of the '90s. Talk about irony.

Like their best work, No Line On The Horizon reconciles U2's unwavering desire for commercial appeal with their restless need to explore new sounds and textures. Songs like "Fez - Being Born" and "Unknown Caller" break away from the standard template, but still manage to sound like U2. Other songs create successful amalgams of seemingly incongruous elements, such as "Get On Your Boots," which frames a muscular Vertigo-esque guitar riff with layered electronic beats, ala Pop. Or "Stand Up Comedy," which features the Edge doing his best Jimmy Page impression. The only song that feels like they were fishing for a hit single is "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight," a late addition that finds itself at odds with the flow of the rest of the album. Other than that, No Line On The Horizon effectively sums up U2's third decade together.

B-Asides: No matter what security measures were taken, it was a forgone conclusion that No Line On The Horizon was going to get leaked before the release date. Sure enough, it occurred about two weeks ago, and the album was soon made available on the band's MySpace page, much like How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb before it. While there was a momentary thrill when I discovered I could listen to it early, part of me missed the excitement of the old days—you know, going down to the record store on the day of the release and anxiously snatching it off the shelf. Then, once you got back to your car, there was some nervous fiddling with the cellophane wrapper and that persistent security sticker before the disc was finally free. One final adrenaline rush would accompany popping the album into your stereo for the first time, not knowing what to expect. This past Tuesday morning, as it took approximately 15 seconds for songs I had already heard several times to load onto my iPod, I couldn't help but think that the moment somehow wasn't quite as significant.
Highlights: Magnificent, Get On Your Boots, Stand Up Comedy, Fez - Being Born, Breathe
My Rating: 9/10
And with that, my "musical journey" comes to an end. I had fun analyzing and reminiscing, and I hope all of you enjoyed skimming each installment and waiting impatiently for the next non-U2 post.


We Heart Burgers

Back in September, I compiled a list of our favorite sandwich places, and you gave us your recommendations. Kristen and I have been attempting to make it around to as many of these places as possible so we can eventually do a follow-up. In the meantime, who likes hamburgers? We sure do, and unlike sandwiches, we will almost never settle for the mediocre fast food version. The overloaded, too big for your mouth kind that you get from sit down restaurants doesn't really do it for us either. We have found that the places that do the burger best are old fashioned diners and drive-ins.

Ab's Drive-In
Locations: West Jordan, West Valley
What to get: The Fat Boy

Their signature burger, the Fat Boy, combines two beef patties with traditional toppings like lettuce, cheese, tomato, onion, and relish. The french fries are hand cut and cooked to order, so they almost maintain the illusion that they are healthier than your average fries. We always get coupons in the mail, and the West Jordan location is close enough to our house (and my office) that we stop in often—and I have the "abs" to prove it.

B & D Burgers
Locations: Salt Lake, Midvale
What to get: Bacon Ranch Burger

Kristen and I would often meet up for lunch when she worked for the U, and we almost always went to B & D. I can't quite pinpoint what makes this place so good—their burgers just have a distinct grilled flavor that has me salivating just thinking about it. We tried the Midvale location once, but it wasn't quite the same. Maybe it's a quality control thing. Or maybe once you take away the adjacent campus, the quaint college atmosphere becomes just plain ghetto.

Crown Burgers
Locations: Salt Lake, Sandy, West Valley, Layton
What to get: The Crown Burger

How do you improve on a hamburger? By adding a heaping pile of pastrami of course (the most sensual of all the salted cured meats). The decadently meaty namesake of Crown Burgers might give you a heart attack before you can finish it, but at least you'll die happy. Note: Other local places such as Astro Burger and Apollo Burger offer virtually the same menu, and even share similarly dated 1970's decor.

Five Guys Burgers & Fries
Locations: Sandy, Midvale, West Valley
What to get: Whatever the heck you want

I'd like to think the brainstorming session for choosing this business name went something like this. Guy #1: Okay, hear me out. There's five of us, we're selling burgers and fries, how about 'Five Guys Burgers & Fries?' Guys 2-5: Brilliant! Let's eat! Yes, their name is incredibly lame, but the food is tasty and the portions are huge. There are only a few basic burgers to choose from, but their selling point is that you can add as many or as few of their 16 free toppings as you like.

Hires Big H
Locations: Salt Lake, Midvale, West Valley
What to get: The Big H

When you bite into a Big H from Hires, everything from the patty all the way to the flour-dusted bun exudes freshness. You can tell they cooked it especially for you. And there's no better way to wash your meal down than with their homemade root beer, which comes in the all important frosted glass mug. What is it about drinking from a mug that makes root beer taste so much better?

The Training Table
Locations: Salt Lake, Midvale, Provo, Sugar House, Layton, Riverton
What to get: The Bleu Bacon Burger

The first time we wandered into a Training Table, we were so weirded out by the "order over the phone" gimmick that we abruptly left and ate somewhere else. However, when we moved to Sugar House, we decided to give it another try. Soon enough, we were eating there all the time. Kristen irrationally craves their variation of fry sauce, which combines mayo with barbecue sauce instead of ketchup. She would probably just use her fingers if we didn't have fries to dip.

Alright, now let's hear your recommendations. I'm sure someone out there is going to mention In-N-Out Burger. I haven't eaten there since I was 12 or so, but I am planning to reacquaint myself when the new Draper location opens sometime later this year.