All posts tagged: Matt Springer

They've done just what they set out to do

The Great Summer Movies: Keep Believing, Keep Pretending

Summer movies usually demand a great suspension of disbelief. They’re heavy on special effects and deal with outlandish situations, whether superheroes and sci-fi or wacky gross-out extreme comedy. There is, perhaps, no greater suspension of disbelief than a green felt frog somehow convincing you of its dreams. The Muppets have been around since 1955 and have survived through several TV series and films, web shorts, record albums, books, DVDs, comic books, action figures, plush toys, and a theme park attraction. In 1979’s The Muppet Movie, the Muppets realized their full potential. The Muppet Movie allowed Jim Henson’s unique blend of emotional punch, endearing characters, and ludicrous humor to find its greatest expression. It’s nothing if not ambitious. We open with the Muppets in a movie theater, preparing to watch the flick they’ve just completed about their own origins. In other words, a classic film-within-a-film. Right off the bat, we know we’re not dealing with your typical kids movie. Kermit T. Frog (Henson) is an amphibian with a simple dream: To entertain. He heads off to …

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The Popdose 100: The Greatest Love Songs of All Time

Much like our 100 Greatest Covers post last year, this was a collaborative effort for the Popdose staff.  Although our list of nominees was a bit smaller – only 300 songs – the voting was every bit as competitive, with our #7 and #8 songs being separated by just one tenth of a point.  As a collective, we wish you a happy Valentine’s Day, whether you’re a member of a Bizarre Love Triangle, a pair of Two Hearts, or even if you’re a member of the Lonely Hearts Club.  Love to all. — Zack Dennis If you’re listening on Spotify, you can find a link to versions of all of the songs here. 100. “You Belong to Me” – Bob Dylan. Of all the things that can cause friction in a relationship, physical distance can be one of the hardest to endure. It softens a couple’s strengths, and makes every single problem – even the smallest ones – harder to address. Without a definitive end in sight, very few long-distance relationships survive. And yet, almost …

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The Greatest Cover Songs of All Time: Honorable Mentions

Last week, we published a compilation of the 100 greatest cover songs of all time, as voted by the Popdose staff.  Of course, our way of tabulating the results (you can see the original spreadsheet here, if you’re really, really, really curious) meant that plenty of worthy songs were going to be left off the final list.  So we decided to include a few more songs that some of the staff felt deserved an “honorable mention.”  Each of the songs below is special to at least one of us, and even though none of these had broad enough appeal to make our Top 100 list, we thought they were good enough to at least get a tip of the cap. Opelousas (Sweet Relief) – Maria McKee. Originally performed by Victoria Williams. Taken by itself, Maria McKee’s cover of Victoria Williams “Opelousas” isn’t all that remarkable of a song. It’s a nice update to the low-key original, with a much bigger sound and scope, but what makes this cover great, and the reason why I included …

Fandango: George Lucas Faces Jon Stewart — A Report From “Star Wars” Celebration

To some, he is the Flanneled One. The Bearded One. Baron Papanoida. The Maker. To others, he is a former mythmaker who has since surrendered any pretense of creative integrity in a fool’s quest to sell toys, or maintain absolute control, or whatever he really wants deep beneath his plentiful chins. To most of you, he’s just the guy who made the Star Wars movies, George Lucas. The faithful, recent converts, and lapsed followers alike gathered in Orlando, Florida, this past Saturday for what was billed as “The Main Event”–an hourlong sitdown with Lucas, hosted by The Daily Show‘s Jon Stewart. It was part of Star Wars Celebration V, a four-day party for Star Wars geeks, the kind of thing where if you’re into it, no explanation is necessary, and if you’re not, no explanation will suffice. I don’t know who was the driving force behind recruiting Stewart as interviewer; it could have been an idea hatched by the show’s organizers, Reed Exhibitions, or something concocted by Lucasfilm. It was a masterful idea, as Stewart is …

Rekkids: Elvis Costello & the Attractions, “The Ultimate Gangster”

I currently have 1,884 albums on my 160GB iPod. I will listen to them all, in no particular order, and write about them. Punch the Clock is an album often dismissed by die-hard Elvis Costello fans, and I’m not completely sure why. But that’s a conversation for another day. In 1983, EC was touring behind the record, bringing a combo on the road that included the Attractions at its core (Steve Nieve, king of the keyboard jungle; Pete Thomas, the Empire State of stick; Bruce Thomas, the future of the four-string) but added to the mix the TKO Horns, all former members of Dexy’s Midnight Runners. (Appropriate, since the producers of Punch the Clock, Clive Langer & Alan Winstanley, had just a year before produced Too-Rye-Ay for Dexy’s, including the smash hit “Come On, Eileen”). On some dates, the backing singers featured on Punch the Clock, a duo known as Afrodiziak, also joined the band. The Ultimate Gangster (expanding upon the old bootleg The Gangster is Back) documents an entire concert from the Punch the …

Numberscruncher: Music, Books, and Liz Phair

I admit it. I’m one of the people who loved Liz Phair in the early days and who is confused by the choices she has made. It’s an old and tired story, though, so I’ll mostly spare you the rant. Besides, Matt Springer did it better. But I will say this: Phair’s career shows what happens when an artist doesn’t have an editor. As a writer, I find that editors often make my crabby. But most of the editors I’ve worked with have made my work a lot better. They save me from stupid mistakes, suggest words and phrases that make a story stronger, and point me in directions that I had overlooked. Liz Phair has been working more or less alone for years, without a regular band or consistent record label. She thinks “Bollywood” is a great song, and she won’t listen to those who tell her otherwise. She doesn’t need to convince anyone but the buyers. Phair does not have to worry about manufacturing, distribution, and publicity, because she can do it all …

Early Thoughts: Sucky Punch (Really, Zack Snyder? Really?!)

My first inclination upon seeing the teaser trailer for Zack Snyder’s upcoming film Sucker Punch was to post a series of boob jokes to Twitter. That’s not surprising. My response to most things is either a boob joke or a dick joke. After giving the footage a closer look, however, it struck me that there actually isn’t much boobage to speak of. That’s not to say there isn’t plenty of oversexualization of women on display; if you don’t have a sword or a slutty outfit, you don’t belong in this film. Preferably, you need both. It’s just not one of those “HOLY HOOTERS” type of movies. But it’s still scummy, oh yes, and that’s based on just 90 seconds of it, so sure, I’m prejudging a film based on its teaser trailer. Welcome to the Internet.

CD Review: Liz Phair’s “Funstyle” — Great, When It’s Not Shit

The news spread across my Twitter feed late yesterday afternoon like a pixelated wildfire: 1) Liz Phair had a new single out; 2) It was fucking horrible. These things are true. Liz Phair does apparently have a new “single” out, a freebie cut from an Internet-only album she’s selling from her website entitled Funstyle; and that single, “Bollywood,” is fucking horrible. The rest of Funstyle does not go as quietly into the good night; it’s not the wholesale career suicide that “Bollywood” seems to indicate. There are moments that finally fit into the context of Liz Phair’s career; I say “finally” because I personally have a hard time fitting her last record, Somebody’s Miracle, into that same context, so it almost feels to me like she’s been “gone” since her self-titled controversy magnet of 2003. (Which I’ve written about before, so I won’t get into it again, but if you dismiss that record as “Liz Phair trying to be Avril Lavigne,” you are absolutely missing out, and you need to listen closely to it again …

Book Review: Matt Springer, “Unconventional”

See, now this is what Fanboys wanted to be. The debut novel (or novella, as somewhat grumpily conceded in the Author’s Note) from AlertNerd‘s Matt Springer, Unconventional is, according to the front cover’s helpful summary, “a tale of sex, booze, and geeks”…pretty much in that order. And as unappealing as a book filled with drunk, naked nerds might seem, Springer makes it work, thanks to his effortlessly conversational writing and a plot that actually has less to do with Star Wars and Lord of the Rings than it lets on. The story follows a sci-fi-loving trio of longtime friends (Marty, Ron, and Ham — a nickname, short for Hammerhead, as in the minor Star Wars character) on their adventures through one weekend at the UnConvention, “Chicagoland’s number one sci-fi con,” working in plenty of basement-dwelling misfits in Jedi costumes while building toward a few life-changing decisions for the main characters. It’s a framework you’re probably overly familiar with — as you’ll be with Unconventional‘s habit of flashing back and forth between past and present in …