well, what has 2009 done for me lately?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Just got done reading a friend's latest blog post, and that, combined with the very sudden deaths of two dear people (within a week of one another), my dog Sophie's cancer diagnosis, Grandma's medical problems, and some other personal sh!t, I'm going to go out on a limb and say, "I'll see you in Hell, first quarter of 2009."

So let's look on the bright side, because sure, 2009's yielded a few nice--even great things. And here they are:

Eastbound & Down. If you've been disappointed with The Office and are still waiting for Seth Rogen & co. to produce something really laugh-out-loud funny, this it. One reviewer said that Kenny Powers is the best character television's produced since David Brent. He's right.

The premise isn't anything impressive--Kenny's a former major-league pitcher down on his luck who takes a job as a substitute gym teacher--but it's all worth watching for Kenny. He's so well-realized that you almost like the throwaway lines best ("What's his name? Fuckin' Shrek? ...no, huh?"; "Do not stare at me with those dead eyes, you church-bitch...instantly I regret saying that"; "Work, drugs"). The supporting cast is very well-endowed, too.

Lose It! This application rocks--you can track the calories and nutrients of everything you eat, and it has a huge database of general and brand-name foods. If you can't find whatever the Hell you're eating, you can create a new entry; if you're cooking something, you can input all the foods that go into the recipe, and it'll give you the total calories and nutrients for that, too; if you exercise a lot, it has a large database of exercises and how many calories each one works off; if you want to reach a certain weight by a certain date, it'll set up a daily calorie-intake plan that'll help you reach your goal.

And it's free.

Gran Torino --Too bad the best movie of the year came out in January.

I don't know about you, but every Clint Eastwood-directed movie I've seen always seems very slow--High Plains Drifter, The Eiger Sanction, Pale Rider, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Space Cowboys, even Unforgiven--but Torino's four minutes shy of two hours with a plot summary that reads like stereo instructions, and it keeps you hanging all throughout.

Clint Eastwood being a badass and grunting for about the first half-hour is eerily captivating. Then there's another half hour of him reeling off every ethnic slur we remember our grandfathers uttering after a quart of Wild Turkey: Christmas Eve 1985. Then there's the brother from Drew Carey. And a dog. And drinking PBR and smoking and chucking a fat Chinese kid and mannin' up another Chinese kid and yeah, no matter how you summarize the plot it sounds boring...but I have yet to meet someone who didn't love it.

For you film buffs who think it's beneath you, imagine someone combined Ikiru with Tokyo Story and then lightly Dirty-Harry-ized it.

The Oregon Trail--technically not a 2009 offering, but Gameloft revamped it for the iPhone/iPod Touch. It's not free, but it's as fun as the old one--though you're not able to hunt whenever you want and then sell the meat off so, even though you're a teacher, you make it to Oregon City with several thousand dollars and kids so stuffed with bison/bear meat that even the piercingest of snake fangs couldn't penetrate their doughy legs.

There's a lot of mini games, too, including fishing, collecting berries, repairing the wagon, panning for gold, a Simon-esque game where you send telegraphs, and, of course, hunting. The only one that kind of sucks is where you navigate the river, so it's nice they carried that over from the original.

And your family can still get cholera and dysentary and snake bites and broken arms and legs and carried away by eagles and eaten by bears, and there's funny animations that go along with all of them. It's also a breathtaking sight when you blast away your first bald eagle. Sweeeet.

Merriweather Post Pavilion--I don't know, I like this album. And I'm ashamed to admit I heard about it on NPR.