Saturday, December 29, 2007

Top 5 Things to Look Forward to in 2008

Dan's Top 5:

1. Bush's Final Year - I don't care if we collectively decide to elect a seedless Chia Head of Richard Nixon next November. I can't see how even the worst (and there are some pretty bad choices in the primaries) of potential candidates could be anywhere close to the atrocity that has been the George W. Bush administration. I echo the sentiments of David Cross, who claimed that he may go down as the worst American President ever.

2. The Summer Olympics - Sure, it's in China, but who gives a shit? (Other than Communist-fearing Republicans) This is the Olympics, and it gives us all a chance to be distracted and actually proud of our country for a few weeks. It also gives me a chance to listen to Bob Costas (winner of the Not Joe Buck award) for some decent commentary and enjoy a free four-hour concert in the form of the opening ceremonies.

3. Fantasy Baseball - This needs no explanation. The only reason it isn't any higher is because it's an annual occurrence.

4. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - Reported release date is next summer, and you're going to have to go see it. You have no choice. Either you want to see a fourth awesome movie from the Indiana Jones series, or you want to see who you should blame for making the two-decade effort fall flat on it's face. I have no idea how the movie will be, but it's probably going to be either extremely awesome or extremely poor.

5. The Last Game at Yankee Stadium - There will undoubtedly be a lot of talk about how the final Yankee Stadium game will be the end of an era. While the Yankees of yesteryear might not have been pure evil (I'm not entirely up to date on my baseball history...) the new Yankee Stadium will doubtlessly be tainted with the spirit of the Evil One from day one. Here's to you, Yankee Stadium, and those fabled players of old of whom it is said it's possible not to hate them.

Ryan's Top Five

1. The NFL Draft - How will Carl Petersen fuck this one up? Does Ryan Sims have a younger brother? I don't know, but we have a very high draft pick (as we fucking blow), so I am, of course, intrigued.

2. KC Royals Improbable World Series - KU football wins Orange Bowl, anything on God's Green Earth can happen.

3. KU Basketball National Championship - I still argue that jinxing things is bullshit. Why? I've intentionally NOT jinxed things for most of my life, and what has it gotten me? That FSU Championship in 1993 and nothing else.

4. Fantasy Baseball - Dan said it all.

5. Ryan Fox Fantasy Football Championship Repeat - Damn straight, homey.

Tim's Top 5
Note: I'm posting this in June of 2008.

1. Its inevitable end. - God, this year has been awful.

2. Phillies playoff tickets - Oh man, I really need to do that again this year. I really enjoy playoffs, and it's clear the Indians are screwed.

3. The Indians trading C.C. Sabathia for magic beans - We all know it will happen, I just want to know if we get anything in return.

4. The Bengals falling into the first pick in the 2009 draft. - Welcome back, Bengals.

5. Josh Hamilton winning a triple crown - I'm pulling for him.

Honorable mention: Hopefully economic recovery of some sort. Some of us pay our bills...doesn't that do something?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Top 5 Players That Are Hilariously Included in the Mitchell Report

Tim's Top 5:
I read the report, it's a load of garbage, but it is awesome to see that some really really inept players are accused of using steroids or HGH. The whole list of people included on the list is included at

1) Tim Laker - Wow. Seriously? It must only have improved his pitching (0.00 ERA), because if steroids empowered him to hit .226, it's truly shocking to think how bad he'd have been without the help.
2) Manny Alexander - See Tim Laker.
3) Nook Logan - How much farther did he want his bunt singles to go? If we've learned anything from Bonds and Canseco, it's that steroid use can really have detrimental impacts on people who try to steal bases regularly. Without the ability to steal bases, exactly what is it that you'd employ Nook Logan for? Bagging groceries?
4) Chuck Knoblauch - Combining him with Rick Ankiel, I can conclude that performance-enhancing drugs are apparently the primary cause of neurotic inability to throw a ball to its intended location.
5) Wally Joyner - This just lends unnecessary credence to the theory that taking steroids doesn't improve your ability to play baseball. Admittedly, he was washed up by the time he admitted using them, but he wasn't particularly un-washed up all that often in his career.

Dan's Top 5:

(Disclaimer: I'm only pulling names that I recognize from Wikipedia, and don't really know too much about the ones who haven't played recently.)

1. Jeremy Giambi - The shame of being named in the Mitchell report is nothing compared to the shame you experience when you realize that you're the lesser of two Giambis.

2. John Rocker - When you're John Rocker, steroids is probably the least offensive thing you've ever done. That includes playing for the Devil Rays.

3. Rick Ankiel - From what I understand, his use of HGH was prescribed by a physician to aid in the healing process after major Tommy John surgery. So following doctor's orders is, in some cases, banned by the MLB.

4. F.P. Santangelo - Don't know much about him, but allegedly he bought HGH in 2000 and 2001. All that for a single home run and an average of .197? Also, the name is fun to say out loud.

5. Eric Gagne - Apparently bought steroids in 2004. That was the year he got ten fewer saves than the year before, and his performance has sucked ever since due to injury. There are so few outstanding relievers, so why even bother with steroids?

Ryan's Top Five

1. Phil Hiatt

2. Phil Hiatt

3. Phil Hiatt

4. Phil Hiatt

5. Phil Hiatt

Monday, December 10, 2007

Top 5 "Essential Album Artists"

Aha! Not so fast's in quotes, therefore it's a defined term. Here's the definition:
Essential Album Artist -- You have to have every album. Period. There's something on every one of them that's worth owning, and not just easily replicated by buying a greatest hits comp and going to the concerts and singing along with 1/3 of the songs and being pissed they didn't play every hit. They have to have pushed out four albums -- not counting compilations -- and they have to do it with a band with the same name, you can't just declare Ben Folds a winner by counting his three actual albums with the eponymous Five and his two solo albums. Not that you would anyway. This list gives severe glory to those who lived fast. The Sex Pistols didn't last long enough, Bob Dylan lasted far far too long.

Tim's Top 5:
1) The Beatles - This is too easy. Every one of the thirteen albums is essential because they're all good, even if Please Please Me is too teeny-bop and The White Album is too admired by everyone. Best album: Abbey Road; Worst album: probably With The Beatles, but it still has absolute masterpiece songs on it, it's just also got Please Mr. Postman, which makes me weep inside.

2) Elliott Smith - Elliott Smith has a couple of careers, spending his early days with Kill Rock Stars recording quiet and rough albums, but eventually reaching the sprawling orchestral production of Figure 8. Not only are each of Elliott's albums essential, but he also made Good Will Hunting's soundtrack essential just by including an altered version of Between the Bars and Miss Misery. And, just for good measure, his album with Heatmiser -- Mic City Sons -- is even more essential than all the others, even though it doesn't count to the overall album total. Best album: Either/Or, though I love Figure 8; Worst Album: probably Elliott Smith, but it's still a great album.

3) Pearl Jam - If you like Pearl Jam, you understand that every album, every track becomes essential, because even if the album version of Bu$hleaguer sucks, you'll hear it on an official bootleg and realize it's the greatest song you've ever heard. They can release countless compilations, concert albums, and every time one hits my radar, I still consider buying it. I own them all and although I don't listen to them as much as I should, they're all essential. Best album: Yield; Worst album: Binaural was going to get my vote, then I remembered that they recorded Ten. Ten is the winner. It may have performed a great civic duty by bringing Pearl Jam to my 13-year old consciousness, but radio play has ruined its hope of being a respectable album.

4) The Clash - Sandinista! is a mess, but it's a mess that's still got a lot of value, it's just thinly sown among the 36 tracks, and it's being compared to two of the best albums anyone ever recorded. The Clash and London Calling should both be in the top 50 albums of all time, Best album: I'll say London Calling, because I know I'm supposed to, but I really think that The Clash might be the superior album in my own mind. And Give 'Em Enough Rope blows my mind too. Worst album: definitely Sandinista!, but it's well worth it for being the one person you know who owns the album and has actually listened to it.

5) The Old 97's - Helped in no small part by the small number of albums, each one has value. They run a number of genres in the time span, with the first two being definitely more dependent on country influences with the rock sounding more like Buddy Holly than the Beatleish pop influence that overruns Satellite Rides. In between, Wreck Your Life, Too Far to Care, and Fight Songs run the gamut, but each one has at least a half dozen commendable tracks. Worst album: I'm not enamored with Hitchhike to Rhome, which is too lo-fi country for me, but I think Drag It Up is their weakest effort, because it was an all too conscious effort to return to Hitchhike without the sense of youthful reckless innocence that made an innocuous debut acceptable.

Honorable Mention: Oasis - I don't own Standing on The Shoulder of Giants or What's The Story, but I could easily buy both; Bruce Springsteen - warrants serious mention just because he came surprisingly close for someone with a 35 year career, but Devils & Dust is just not a good album (Magic is, however), and I've never felt a need to own Human Touch or Lucky Town. R.E.M. - god, Reveal is awful. Shame on you, Michael Stipe.

Dan's Top 5:
1. Jimi Hendrix - You could argue that he released three albums as the Jimi Hendrix Experience and one with the Band of Gypsys, but really, all that truly changed was the bass player. There's no question where all the talent was. You shouldn't just buy Jimi's albums, you should have every song memorized. Any sort of "greatest hits" collection does not do the man justice, and "Band of Gypsys" is just as good as anything he did with the Experience. Four albums, no dead weight - the epitome of what this list should be.

2. Peter Gabriel - It's interesting to see how Peter's music has evolved from when he started as a solo artist to now. It's vastly different, but there was never any loss of quality. There really aren't any weak albums, unless you count his soundtracks. Assuming not, his second album was only a modest effort, but I'll forgive that since Peter Gabriel III was one of the best (and most underrated) albums ever.

3. The Beatles - I was going to try to come up with a different fifth artist, but I realized that (a) I couldn't think of anyone, and (b) the Beatles were good enough to be repeated in this list. I probably wholeheartedly agree with Tim here, and I'd like to add that it's because of the Fab Four that we have the standard of a band writing its own songs and consisting mainly of guitar, bass, and drums.

4. Radiohead - Not only do I have all albums, but I have all the B-sides as well. Weak albums include Pablo Honey, Kid A, and Amnesiac. Awesome albums include OK Computer, The Bends, and Hail to the Thief. I credit them with having re-established the album as a valid work of art. Now if only more than a handful of artists would put more effort into making complete albums.

5. The Police - Each one of the five studio albums they made has two big hits on it, as well as a handful of other good songs. Apart from Synchronicity, no album is phenomenal, but if you're going to listen to the Police, it's not that hard to just get all the albums.

Honorable Mention - Smashing Pumpkins, Blur. They would have made it were it not for one single album (Zeitgeist, Think Tank) in their catalogue. So much for last hurrahs. (Yes, I do know Blur are back together and recording a new album.) Also, Muse. Their first album - Showbiz - was decent, but not a must-have like their other three.

Ryan's Top Five

1. The Beatles - Best: Sgt. Pepper or Abbey Road. Worst: meh, why try.

2. Badly Drawn Boy - Man, I love Badly Drawn Boy. Best: One Plus One Is One. Worst: probably Born In The UK, though it's still good.

3. The Decemberists - Four studio albums, all excellent. Best: The Crane Wife (is one of the best albums of this decade).

4. John Lennon solo - Wings had a lot of crap. John Lennon did not. Best: Imagine or Plastic Ono Band, but I actually really like Double Fantasy, nuts to everyone else.

5. Harry Nilsson - All right, I don't own all of them, as some are difficult to locate. That said, I've heard tracks from all of them. Did I mention I love Harry Nilsson? Best: The Point!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Top 5 Things You Want for Christmas

For simplicity's sake, I'm going to limit this to things that are withing the realm of reasonable expectations. So no private jets, getting to meet non-Baldwin celebrities, or personal slaves. Also, this list is in no way a petition to anyone for gifts - just another Top 5 list. That established, here we go:

Dan's Top 5:

1. Gift Cards - For prices on DVDs and books, there's really no beating, and DVDs in particular are my drug of choice. The only forseeable downside I can see to this one is having to get another DVD shelf, and packing even more crap up when I leave Blacksburg.

2. A Great Album on LP - Trying to find good albums that I feel are worthy of owning on LP is usually a pain, and there's a chance I've overlooked a really great album on my occasional eBay searches. Of course, the drawback is that it's not for anyone who has a lack of knowledge of my taste in music. There's also the chance that I may already have it.

3. Money - Really, this is probably the one thing I could really use the most, but the brutal irony of money is that, while the most useful gift, it shows the least possible amount of thoughtfulness. I know that I'd feel like shit if I just handed a small wad of cash to someone for Christmas, even if it's what they - like me - really wanted. It doesn't show that I really know their likes and dislikes, which is what everyone really wants - proof that someone "gets" them.

4. A USB Recording Interface - Like the Mbox Mini or something. I've recorded my Bass PodXT to the computer before, bit it sounds like there's a lot missing and it's not recording properly. Having recorded through a friend's Mbox unit, I think it will do the trick for any and all music recording needs I have.

5. A Nice Thiers-Issard Straight Razor - I have two straight razors so far, but only my Henckels is a real pleasure to shave with. However, I'd feel like a real jackass asking for one more shaving item when I've already well-established in that hobby.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Top 5 Favorite Bands/Artists Circa 1995

Here's a list that precludes any apologizing--the top five bands that you were into in 1995. In other words, imagine you are doing a Top 5 Bands/Artists list of all-time--as your 1995 self.

Ryan's Top Five

1. Smashing Pumpkins - Around this time, I was dead-convinced that 1979 was as good as a song could get, and I was in love with the video. For videos, see also "Tonight Tonight," which may be the greatest music video ever made. "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" really captured that angst I was feeling...and by "angst" I mean a predilection for playing rock music with cool lyrics very loudly. See also "Zero," which still is the one of the best songs to play when you're angry (thank you, Baker).

2. Green Day - Enamored with "Dookie," I acquired (my mom bought) "Insomniac" without hearing any of the music, which is a rare thing nowadays (thenadays?). I remember playing "Brain Stew/Jaded" quite loudly, on one occasion getting my grandma to remark, "This isn't music." For a 12-year-old, I felt pretty empowered with my righteous rebelliousness. Of course, I was overlooking the fact that I owned CDs by: Hootie and the Blowfish, the Rembrandts, and Sheryl fucking Crow. Anyway, I really loved Green Day at this point in my life, and they've successfully done everything to destroy that relationship since.

3. Offspring - Oh man, did I ever love "Smash." The song "Self Esteem" epitomizes my infatuation with playing rock loudly, and to this day I can't pass it on the radio without turning the volume up to 11 and singing along. I also bought their prior albums without hearing any of the music and, well, ... I can't recall a track.

4. Oasis - Ranking Oasis behind Offspring is painful even if this list has little to do with objective awesomeness. Anyway, the two big songs I was obsessed with from this album were "Wonderwall" (still great) and "Champagne Supernova" (I don't really need to hear it anymore). I was not that into "Don't Look Back in Anger," which for some reason I heard again in 2000 and fell in love with.

5. Weezer - Here's the thing: I loved the blue album, but I didn't really get into all of it until later in life. This was the first album I ever got, and I was still very much single-track-minded; when I found a single I liked, I honed in on it to an extreme fault. Thus, in 1995 I listened "Buddy Holly," "The Sweater Song," and "No One Else" way too much, and other (better) songs like "Only in Dreams" and "My Name is Jonas" not as much.

Honorable: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Weird Al Yankovic, and it feels like I'm probably leaving some folk out... I think I've pretty much nailed this list though.

Dan's Top 5:

This is actually extremely hard, since I did not even get into popular music until 1999, and even then I was only into classic rock. It took a long time before I became a fan of more modern artists. That said, I'm going to turn back the clock a bit and list a few bands that were popular at the time, as well as some of my early favorites from my beginnings in '99.

1. Van Halen - Oh my god, have you heard Eddie Van Halen play the guitar? Van Halen will always hold a special place in my heart as the first rock band I really liked. For a hard rock band, they were really pretty original during the early David Lee Roth years. There were a lot of different swing and jazz influences when it came to song structure and style, and there was an undeniable sense of humor in their performances. As much as I've worn out their songs in my head, there's still a pretty good chance that I won't skip over them in my music library.

2. Pink Floyd - I remember when I first listened to The Wall. It actually really freaked me out, the way Trainspotting did. Beyond serving as my personal introduction to the concept of concept albums, Pink Floyd really became the first band I really took ownership of. i considered them visionaries, and I still love the band to this day.

3. Weezer - By 1995, only the Blue album had been released, so I have to factor in my would-be impression that Weezer would continue with such greatness. Apart from a few Pinkerton and Maladroit songs, however, this turned out to not be the case. Still, since I consider that album one of the finest of the 90's, I imagine it would have had a significant impact on my by this point.

4. Blur - I'm assuming I would have been able to find out about Parklife in '94, and subsequently hail it as the best thing to hit music since the decade started. I would have had to rely on the Internet, though, and I can't remember if I had access to it back then. Anyway, that album kicked ass and it sold me on Blur.

5. R.E.M. - I still don't know this band well, but I imagine that if I were into music in 1995, they would be one of my top 5. Man on the Moon is one of my favorite songs, albeit pretty much the only R.E.M. song I know apart from their biggest radio hits. I imagine that if I bothered to collect the rest of their albums, I could find something good on all of them, even though this is just intuition talking.

Honorable Mentions: Probably everything Ryan mentioned with exception of Offspring.

Tim's Top 5:
This is kind of difficult, because I really remember my taste in 7th grade (shudder) and I remember my taste once I was forced to fend for myself when I started college (whew). In between, not so much. Apparently, however, a couple of the answers are easy. Really, given that I had a brother four years older than me, the better title for my list would be "Things My Brother Was Into and I Followed Him Into"...

Frankly, I don't recall Oasis - What's The Story (Morning Glory) or Smashing Pumpkins' Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness until 1996 (which is when I saw The Smashing Pumpkins at my first ever concert...but apparently both were released in 1995, or so ITunes tells me.

My list isn't really my idea of the top 5 bands of all time circa 1995, but they were the people I was listening to. Hell, I know The Beatles are better than The Dead Kennedys, but just ask me which I've listened to in the last few months.

1) R.E.M. - This was one of the few spillovers from junior high that hung around. I still think Monster is their second best album ever, and Automatic For the People was the highlight, so it's not hard to defend R.E.M. fanhood. They would then go on to release Up, and there was no reason to fear for the future. Then they released Reveal and there was no reason to forgive.

2) Matthew Sweet - Well, well, well, the truth comes out. It's not really a guilty pleasure because his work after In Reverse is a sheer house of horrors, and I can argue in favor of both 100% Fun and Girlfriend. But really it came just as much from a hyper-pop sensibility merged with my newfound arrival in Nebraska which really required you to support local artists...and it was either Matthew Sweet or 311 and Blue Moon Ghetto. Lord, be glad I chose Matthew Sweet.

3) John Lennon - The John Lennon Collection was the first album in my BMG investment of my freshman year and I listened to it relentlessly. I didn't get into the Beatles full-on until 1996, but I'm pretty sure this album was in the collection in 1995 and predated my full British invasion investment since the Who and The Sex Pistols would follow in ensuing months. The single greatest hits album was like a gateway drug to good taste, and all the albums I owned before it can't take that away.

4) Oasis - I was still hung up on Rock 'n' Roll Star from Definitely Maybe, and I got really hooked on a very emo-ish Don't Look Back In Anger somewhere around this time, and I definitely followed my brother hook, line, and sinker into Oasis. Oddly enough, though, I never bought the album. I still don't own it...and I own Heathen Chemistry and The Masterplan. I'm not entirely sure whether it was really 1995 that Oasis made it impossible to ignore them, but it was close enough to count them.

5) Gin Blossoms - I'd like to pretend I could put Guided by Voices or Pavement into this spot and get some indie street cred, but it'd be a total lie. I was four years away from getting any genuine interest in those bands, so it's got to be Gin Blossoms. At the time, I'd had maybe three sips of alcohol, but apparently I had optimistic views of potential future alcoholism and loved the relentlessly bleak pop sensibilities of New Miserable Experience. I liked Weezer's songs on the radio, but didn't buy the Blue album until a year or two later, Nirvana's Unplugged in New York didn't make it into the rotation of albums I'd get obsessed with until the last month of my freshman year, and I had just moved, so I was really finding my footing in Nebraska and didn't have time to develop good taste. At least that's my story.

Not-at-all Honorable mention: definitely Weird Al Yankovic, Foo Fighters, U2, yikes...Genesis, Inner Circle? I really liked fake reggae when I moved, but only reggae that clearly distanced themselves from any sort of drug use (my relentless hatred for frat boys was preordained)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Top 5 side a, track 1's

Having temporarily resuscitated the blog and doubled our production from last month, I figure I should up the ante once more before I leave the country for a week so I can finally buy the new Nine Black Alps album.

I had concocted my list a great deal of time ago, but never posted the homage, so here it is. My only preamble would be that I'm not going to snipe songs that I enjoy on an individual level because as great as "Gimme Some Lovin'" is, I don't know that it suits the album it introduces at I don't mention it in the list.

Rob’s Top 5:
1) “Janie Jones” by The Clash from the album The Clash [UK]
2) “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye from the album Let’s Get It On
3) “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana from the album Nevermind
4) “White light/White Heat” by The Velvet Underground
5) “Radiation Ruling the Nation” by Massive Attack

Having lent out my copy of the novel ages ago and never having it returned unto me, I can't provide you whatever analysis Hornby would here.

Tim’s Top 5:
*The US version of The Clash led off with “Clash City Rockers”, not nearly the track Janie Jones is, hence, I have to leave it off my list because I’ve never heard the UK album in its pure unaltered form. So, although my list looks a fair amount like Rob's, it's not the same.

It is also not a coincidence that four of the five albums (the first four) would rank among the top 50 on my list if I were ever to venture into such a fool's errand.

1) “Tangled Up In Blue” by Bob Dylan from the album Blood on the Tracks - I have, throughout many periods in my life, been certain that this is my favorite song. I'm not entirely sure why or how it reached this status, but it is Dylan's finest hour. He'd moved away from his overtly political period, gone through his diversions into Nashville Skyline and a period of underwhelming material that history has essentially overlooked. All the lyrics are memorable, even though they never really add up into one coherent story and are essentially dispensable -- Dylan himself has continued to change the lyrics after the album was released -- but the song essentially captures the story of a man wandering, which seems to describe Dylan himself for most of the decade preceding the song, trying to find himself in folk music, electrified rock, Nashville country, only to find himself in a new place with no direction -- the only thing to do was to keep on keepin' on. And so he did, and this is the result.

2) “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye from the album What’s Going On - Edwin Starr's "War" might typify what the post-Reagan generations will typify as a protest song from the 1960s, but this is the perfect protest in my mind. While other protest songs might inspire anger or motivate you to lash out, this is a seductive plea for humanity, not the dispatching of violence with another kind of violence. Until you really listen to the lyrics, you could have just mistaken it for another Marvin Gaye track. The song itself is so richly layered, part orchestral, part celebration of life and friendship, and part pleading for hope. It's the song that saved and destroyed Motown, and a lead-in to an uneven, but fantastic album that no one should be without. Combine this song with "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" and "Mercy Mercy Me" and Marvin Gaye accomplishes more with those tracks than most great artists will in an entire career of singles.

3) “Rocks Off” by The Rolling Stones from the album Exile on Main Street - Exile is widely regarded as The Rolling Stones' finest album, and I'm not one to argue. It's certainly the only one I own, though a case could be made for Let It Bleed or Sticky Fingers. The song is almost the antithesis of What's Going On, while there's ostensible production, everything about the track sounds extremely raw and conveys a sense that you're actually in the same room with the band that just isn't present on any other song I can recall. It's pure energy, both frenetic and kinetic, with a half-dozen instruments and vocals taking the lead at some point. The rest of the Stones' work may only be rock 'n' roll and generally likeable, but this IS rock 'n' roll, defined. It is also worth mentioning that the producer of this track, Jimmy Miller, also was the producer on the aforementioned "Gimme Some Lovin'". Pure genius.

4) “London Calling” by The Clash from the album London Calling - While #1 and #5 on the album seem to convey a sense of unfettered optimism, London Calling is their polar opposite -- a near-suicidal screed -- that the world was facing impending disaster. It was not a subtle message, whether it was burning up in the sun, nuclear war, a new ice age, floods, or, yes, zombies. It has a screamed urgency that creates a perfect counterpoint to the fatalistic and apocalyptic inevitability. In a world certain to be wiped away in a nuclear explosion, perhaps the best you can hope for is to drown first. If you're ever facing nuclear annihilation, take the song with you to your bunker. You'll understand.

5) “Mother We Can’t Get Enough” by The New Radicals from the album Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too - That's right I'm installing "new classic status" after a list of safe ones. The New Radicals' album was totally overlooked because the only reason people bought it (myself included) was "You Get What You Give", the ubiquitous song of 1999, ranking right up there with "Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen". With the lead single and a price of $6.99 when I bought it at Best Buy, I had little to no intention of listening to the rest of the album. Thankfully, I did. From the Yoko Ono-ish voice saying "Make my nipples hard, let's go!", this song and most of the album is pop mastery that explains easily why Gregg Alexander (the primary member of The New Radicals, as well as the producer of the album) has since become a leading producer of other music. This track, however, ranks as the pinnacle of the album, despite its too-obvious attacks on consumer culture. The rest of the album fails to reach this point, although there are three or four other semi-essential tracks, including "Jehovah Made This Whole Joint For You" and astoundingly "You Get What You Give".

Honorable mention: "Help!" by the Beatles from the album Help!; “Thunder Road” by Bruce Springsteen from Born to Run; "The Boy in the Bubble" by Paul Simon from Graceland

Ryan's Top Five
I'm a bit surprised, I didn't expect my Top 5 to turn out like it did...but I felt compelled to go with the new-one-among-some-old-safe-ones strategy, which led to me bumping some worthy contenders. But I digress.

1. "Imagine" by John Lennon from the album Imagine - Well, this is one of the best songs ever written, so, you know. It gets downplayed (even by myself) because of its omnipresence and, as Jack Black would put it, it's obviousness. Oh well.

2. "Purple Haze" by the Jimi Hendrix Experience from the (US) album Are You Experienced? - Personally, I prefer songs 3-5 on my list, but you cannot underestimate the legendary sound of this song's opening guitar riff. Led off one kick-ass album, to be sure, and one of the best albums from one of the best decades of music (excluding, of course, the 1890s).

3. "London Calling" by The Clash from the album London Calling - What Tim said. No argument here--much like song #2 on my list, this song wastes absolutely no time in kicking ass.

4. "Hells Bells" by AC/DC from the album Back in Black - And this one too. I'd be lying if I said I was the biggest AC/DC fan in the world, but that's only because I know too many other fans who are obsessed. Surely this is one of the greatest classic rock albums of all-time. I'm a big fan of ominous openings, and frankly ominousness in general; the bells here achieve said goal. Bonus points for being a better sports intro song than Welcome To The Jungle (says I).

5. "The Crane Wife 3" by The Decemberists from the album The Crane Wife - Well, here's my new one, but this song really is awesome. "The Crane Wife" is definitely one of the best albums of this decade and a masterpiece of, as Colbert put it, "hyper-literate prog rock." This song adeptly sets the tone for the rest of the album, which gels quite well.

Honorable mentions (lots, and in no order, except for the first two): "Baba O'Riley" by The Who [Who's Next], "Back in the USSR," "Sgt. Pepper," and "Taxman" by the Beatles, "Who Loves the Sun?" by The Velvet Underground [Loaded], "Take a Bow" by Muse [Black Holes & Revelations], "My Name Is Jonas" by Weezer [Weezer], "The Sounds of Silence" by Simon & Garfunkel [Sounds of Silence], "Gotta Get Up" by Harry Nilsson [Nilsson Schmilsson], "Space Oddity" by David Bowie [Space Oddity], "Five Years" by David Bowie [Ziggy], "Fight Test" by The Flaming Lips [Yoshimi], and "Go-Go Gadget Gospel" by Gnarls Barkley [St. Elsewhere]. Phew.

Dan's top 5:

I'm a bit unsatisfied with my list, since I feel like (a) I'm cleaning up after two pretty good lists by simply listing obvious omissions, and (b) there's not too much that's fresh or original about my list. I'm sure that I'll probably regret it once I stumble on something I missed on Wikipedia within the next few hours. I also maintain Tim's criterion of a decent-to-good album is also necessary for inclusion. That being said...

"Baba O'Riley" by The Who from the album Who's Next - I remember making a mix CD of the best tracks ever. The scheme was, I would pick the best track 1, the best track 2, et cetera until I ran out of room on the CD. So naturally, track one of that CD is my number one here. I remember looking through a lot of potential candidates before firmly deciding on this one the second I saw it. The "synthesizer" intro (actually just created using the arpeggio effects on a Lowrey home organ) is one of the best introductions to a song I've ever heard, and it blossoms into all-out rocking shortly thereafter.

"Wouldn't It Be Nice" by The Beach Boys from the album Pet Sounds - Barry would give me so much shit for this one, since it's such an obvious choice. I had to include it though, since none of you other jerks decided to give props to one of the best pop albums ever. Probably the album's most recognizable song, as well, and the epitome of chamber pop.

"Space Oddity" by David Bowie from the album Space Oddity - One of Bowie's masterpieces, I think it's a shame that it hasn't been mentioned yet. Even though it sounds dated, especially when compared to everything else Bowie has done, it's still a masterful bit of songwriting and performance. Loses just a few points because the song tends to overshadow most of the rest of the album (at least in my eyes. Yes, I do realize how much "Memory of a Free Festival" kicks ass.)

"Jenny Was a Friend of Mine" by the Killers from the album Hot Fuss - My new classic status is bumped up to #4 instead of the usual #5, simply because Hot Fuss was such a great album. This first kickass track was a sign that this band was fresh and new, sort of the same way Jacqueline was a great start to Franz Ferdinand's eponymous debut. Of course, if I had chosen that one, it would have been way too obvious that I was sucking up to Tim. This way, it's a bit more subtle.

"Tom Sawyer" by Rush from the album Moving Pictures - I doubt anyone else from the Top 5 likes progressive rock at all, much less Rush. I figured I'd give credit to this album, and this song in particular, which is probably Rush's biggest hit. It was a major step forward in the 80's synthesizer era, as it was released in 1981. This album, along with Van Halen's 1984 album, would prove that synthesizers could be used in rock music and still kick ass.

Honorable Mention - "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Simon and Garfunkel from the album Bridge Over Troubled Water, also most of Ryan's honorable mentions.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Top 5 Books You've Read Recently

Kind of a wussy title, a bit like a column you might read in the O magazine. (Well, not 'you,' or 'me,' but whoever reads such columns.) That said, I went with 'recently' so that we could all define this Top 5 as we wish--Tim, for instance, has read (I'm guessing) about 40 more books than I have this year (I thought it was the 15 Book Challenge!). So 'recently' can be whatever you wish, within reason--this year, since June, etc. (The idea for me is that I couldn't include something like Great Gatsby, Sun Also Rises, etc., basically any of the greats that I haven't read in ages. You get me. I'll stop rambling.)

Ryan's Top Five

1. Mother Night, Kurt Vonnegut - I read this earlier this year, and I really believe it is Vonnegut at his finest. I hesitate to say it is his greatest novel, but I don't hesitate to say it's my personal favorite.

2. The Zombie Survival Guide, Max Brooks - To me, reading this book was like one of those movies you never just sit down and watch, but you see enough parts of it to have seen it at least twice. I've read just about every section, some more than once, but never in sequential order. (I read the first 70 pages sequentially and got a bit tired of reading about types of gun, wanting instead to read about fortification techniques.) The whole concept, of course, is brilliant, and the tone of realistic concern and straightforward explanation that defines this book is admirable. Good show, Max Brooks.

3. Ten Little Indians, Sherman Alexie - A shoo-in as this was the last book I read, so it is very "recent." This was a book of short stories. Such books are generally tough for me to follow as I prefer complete novels, but Alexie's writing flows very smoothly and keeps you interested. (He writes a bit like a Native American Nick Hornby who's more concerned great writing than humor.) In the end, it is a book of short stories, and any such book unfortunately varies in quality. Some were excellent ("What You Pawn I Will Redeem") while others were decent, but not great. Hence, Alexie wins the bronze.

4. Bringing Down the House, Ben Mezrich - Here's a book that's not one of my favorite reads ever, nor is it going to win any awards or have any legacy as a "great"--it's just a good and compelling nonfiction narrative. Mezrich is a solid writer; it's not hard to imagine this book garnering similar popular accolades based on its subject matter, but with subpar writing. So it's refreshing that the narrative feels tight, structured, never boring and never too indulgent. Oh, right, it's about counting cards in blackjack, if anyone didn't know...

5. Welcome to the Monkey House, Kurt Vonnegut - In terms of greatness, this surely is better than Alexie's collection of short stories. But, you know, ranking two Vonnegut works so high would be boring. It suffers from the same problems I have with collections of short stories, which normally shouldn't be read straight through; I place a lot of importance on completing a book, so short story collections generally don't interest me. That said, I sometimes follow this belief to a fault, as it's led to me overlooking some damn fine short stories--as in this book. "All The King's Horses" is about an East Asian guerrilla warlord literally playing chess with American soldiers' lives, and it is fucking awesome. "More Stately Mansions" also stands out to me, and "Harrison Bergeron" and "Welcome to the Monkey House" are classic, of course.

Tim's Top 5:
Given that of the 49 books I've read this year, 24 of them were read in their entirety before February 28, I'm going to define "recently" as after May 1, 2007, because it'd be a mockery to define recently as spanning 11 months, but it'd be even more ludicrous to say the last three months, since that would cover 4 books. And I can honestly say I enjoyed at least five of the 17 books I've read since May.

1. Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Read in July (3 days) - This is my favorite Vonnegut work, I'd grown enamored with the premise when they ran ads during MST3K for the Nick Nolte film version that I never got around to seeing. The premise is executed more flawlessly than I could have imagined, since I've always been pretty lukewarm towards Vonnegut's work, thinking I should enjoy it far more than I do. It's more story-based than most of his work, but the story is a simple one, so it really is mostly style that pays off.

2. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer - Read in November (2 days) - The book is relentlessly sad, Christopher McCandless is a tragic figure who struck me as someone who was in many ways like me, just without the relentless tendency to sell out. We share a common interest in getting far too interested in things and taking things way beyond their plausible conclusion. McCandless' commitment to trying to find another path for himself was, in many ways, foolhardy, but it's one that even in failure, strikes me as more respectable than the lives of quiet desperation for which most of us are willing to settle. I'm a romantic, I guess.

3. Too Far From Home by Chris Jones - Read in May (1 week) - I've always been fascinated by the idea of being an astronaut. It's certainly not for me, given that I am 1) not much of a risk-taker, 2) not interested in math, science, or joining the military, and 3) way too old to start planning for a fatality-based career at this point. But their stories are fascinating, and this book tells a story that hadn't been told to death, since people's interest in the Columbia disaster was pretty much limited to the astronauts aboard the Columbia, not those who were indirectly affected by it. Its story of cooperation with the Russians reads like an entertaining study in political science, and it has its share of gripping drama.

4. Can I Keep My Jersey? by Paul Shirley - Read in May (1 day) - Paul Shirley is one of the few blogger-types who can genuinely entertain. He's an athlete, he's an ISU alum, but he's also the person who writes the most like I think I do among people I've read. Anyone who can make me genuinely interested in reading about the NBA must be pretty entertaining.

5. Horsemen of the Esophagus by Jason Fagone - Read in June (2 weeks?) - It's certainly not a must-read, but Fagone's study of competitive eating, its performers, and the popularity growth in the field was more memorable than most of the books I've read this year. Fagone created actual characters, so that I rmeember more people from the book than I do from nearly any other I've read. Whether it's Joey Chestnut, Sonya Thomas, Kobayashi, El Wingador, Tim Janus, or any of the dozens of competitive eaters that have reached quasi-fame, Fagone does a good job of telling their stories and discussing the controversies surrounding the most American of all competitive activities (I will not call it a sport).

Honorable mention: The Bad Guys Won! by Jeff Pearlman, The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon; Blowing My Cover by Lindsay Moran

Books not worth mentioning: Master of Disguise by Antonio J. Mendez; Forty Million Dollar Slaves by William C. Rhoden; Shampoo Planet; I Am America (and So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert; Wigfield: the Can-Do Town that Just May Not by Stephen Colbert, Amy Sedaris, and Paul Dinello; The Cheese Monkeys by Chip Kidd, and Veeck as in Wreck by Bill Veeck

Dan's Top 5:

(Disclaimer: As I simply do not ever get around to reading without great impetus, this list is essentially a ranked list of the last five books I can recall picking up.)

1. Kurt Vonnegut - Mother Night - This one is all Ryan's doing. Looking for something good to read, and ignoring the stack of books that I've bought already and haven't picked up, I called Ryan from the bookstore and asked him for a good Vonnegut book. He recommended this and something else, and his synopsis of this one intrigued me more. It's the best book I've read in a while, but even though it wins by default, it would probably still hold that distinction if I actually bothered to read.

2. Hunter S. Thompson - The Rum Diary - Being a Hunter S. Thompson fan, I was excited to read his novel. I left it for a while, but in the end, it was really good. There was a profound sense of randomness and confusion as I was reading it, but I expect that was the desired effect. One of the strongest settings I've ever experienced.

3. Richard Hack - Hughes: The Private Diaries, Memos and Letters: The Definitive Biography of the First American Billionaire - I finished this book right as The Aviator came out in theaters. It made me really appreciate the movie, and I now consider Howard Hughes to be one of my personal heroes (craziness aside).

4. Jared Diamond - Guns, Germs, and Steel - To be fair, I haven't finished this one yet. I'm still trying to get around to plowing through it, as it's really trying to actively teach you something - a quality I'm not used to when reading books. Once I do finish, though, I doubt it would rank anywhere lower than #2 on this list. It's so informative, and it really changes your perspective on human history.

5. Nick Hornby - A Long Way Down - I loved this, as it was a quick read, and how can you not love Hornby? However, it didn't leave a lasting impression like About a Boy or High Fidelity (if I ever bothered to read it).

Cortney's Top 5

I will preface this by saying that I am not good at ranking things at all-- Ryan constantly asks me what my top 5's are, and I find the rigidity of a ranking system to be a little difficult to work with (maybe that's why I don't like sports). But I'm going to give it a shot.

1. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides: This book is remarkable. Clearly I'm not alone on this one, as it won the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction in 2004. Eugenides intertwines many different themes and stories in such a way that I'm convinced his style is superior to his story (though the story was great too).

2. Night by Elie Wiesel: Another award-winner, thought this won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. This was my introduction to the literature of the Holocaust, and everything I've read since echoes its sentiments. Wiesel is an amazing storyteller, with a lyrical, almost biblical style. Heartbreakingly honest, this book sets the bar for Holocaust narratives.

3. Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier: I have yet to read a Chevalier book I haven't liked or loved. Chevalier's style is difficult to describe-- it's more or less historical fiction centered around fictional and nonfictional characters. This specific novel was a fictional account of how two very different youths in London inspired William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, which happen to be among my favorite works. Sounds dry, but it was quite the page turner.

4. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult: This was one of those bestsellers that I'd heard of through someone or another and picked up at the used bookstore for about $2 (which, truth be told, is where I get most of my reading material these days, which explains a major presence of bestselling contemporary fiction). Little did I expect to be so enraptured by this story. This novel is by no means perfect, but it made me think, and sometimes that's enough for me. Now it's been optioned for a movie, which should be interesting.

5. Under the Banner of Heaven by John Krakauer: This isn't completely fair because I haven't finished it yet, but I'm well on my way to doing so. Krakauer's investigation of the lives of Mormon fundamentalists in the Arizona Strip is chilling. To make a long story short, he's explained how the fundamentalist (read: polygamists) broke off from the LDS church, and how it's basically a glorified way to rape children. Reading this book is like watching a well-executed train's fascinating and horrifying all at once.

*Making this list has been painful, but only because it's shown me how little I've read recently. I really ought to get back on the ball.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Top 5 Things You Do Not Know How to Do

Tim's Top 5:
1) Swim - Everyone has such incredulity towards my inability to swim. My father only learned because he had to in order to graduate from college, and I don't think my mother is extremely confident in her swimming abilities. And I've lived my entire life landlocked in an era where there were video games like Pitfall and Seaquest to remind me that water is overrun with sharks, electric eels, and alligators who have no goal in life except killing you and sending you over to the start of the level. And, let's be honest, as much as I love water in shower and drinkable forms, as a venue for activity, it's pretty gross. Kids pee in the pool, fish do nothing but have sex and defecate in our rivers and's like you're spending your time laying facedown in Reno. No thanks.

2) Play the guitar - This reaches my list for obvious reasons, given that I'm trying to do something about it. I've always felt my life was missing something, and I think it could be filled by being that dude who tells people he's thinking of starting a band, just as soon as he masters "London Bridge is Falling Down" on his Les Paul. My goal is to start the band, then graciously let someone else take lead guitar and rhythm guitar and second rhythm guitar and bass while volunteering to be the dynamic front man who lacks all musical ability but will get all the groupies. It's a hard knock life.

3) Dance - I shouldn't even include this, because it's abundantly clear that I'm white, so by including it, I'm a cliche. But it's that I quite literally don't know how. I may actually possess the ability, but it can't be intuited, it can only be unlocked by a heroic intake of booze. It's like an extra level on a video game...and the fact that I would think of that as the most apt analogy pretty much explains how we got to the point where I can't dance...followed closely by the fact that I just now am thinking of the nearly-eponymous Genesis song/album.

4) Drive a manual transmission - This is barely appropriate for the list here because I know how, I just didn't manage to pull it off in my fifteen minutes of attempting in my dad's truck.

5) Watch American Idol - It's clearly something one must learn, and I'm definitely in the remedial class where students do so poorly that they take pride in their underachieving. Whatever is fascinating about 1) people who can't sing, 2) people who can sing and choose to do so by performing songs you already know in a way that will make you run to your ITunes to let Stevie Wonder defend himself, 3) fake drama about getting a record contract even though every asshole who makes it past week 1 (and some who don't) gets a record contract of their own anyway, 4) extra fake drama because apparently the phone systems can't even accurately handle the millions of calls people are placing to vote in this all-too-failed democracy, and 5) unnecessarily long recaps of things that happened in the past even though they are totally irrelevant to the end result of the show -- is apparently totally lost on me, so I must be a cultural heathen. Or you're just a pack of morons who couldn't tell Clive Davis from Clive Barker without a recap show and have some sort of bizarre ambivalent sadism, because you enjoy seeing people's dreams shattered by getting voted off, but seeing them simultaneously fulfilled by securing a deal to sell records to housewives who thought you were cute.

Dan's Top 5:

1. Get Paid for These Various Writing Endeavors - Seriously, how sweet would it be if we could actually get these things published beyond this blog that virtually no one reads? In addition, over at my own blog, I come up with an occasional post that's not unfunny. Surely that's worth something to someone? I'm not asking to be a millionaire, but how about a free sandwich? But nope, my other blog with its invasive Google advertising has so far earned me five cents.

2. Juggle - Seriously, juggling is never truly uncool. Once you know it, it seems like it would take very little energy to do, and it's always kind of fun. If you have three of something, you can always enjoy cheap entertainment. On that note, damn you, Ryan.

3. Drive a Manual Transmission - I had one lesson in a truck with a stick shift, and it just frustrates me that he's moved away. So I kinda sorta know how to do this one, but only when there is no other traffic on the road and I get about half an hour of practice beforehand in a church parking lot.

4. Write Lyrics and Vocal Melodies/Sing - I suck at singing, as is true of many people (see Tim's #5), but when I write music, I also suck at coming up with (a) what the vocals should sound like and (b) the actual words that should be sung. Hence, virtually everything I've recorded to tape disk is hopelessly instrumental, and some lyrics would sure sound good.

5. Swim - OK, I really know how to do this one. But the extent of my swimming ability is limited to preventing my own death and propelling myself while floating on my back. I'd like to know how to do the standard freestyle stroke so I could get in some exercise that doesn't involve me getting all sweaty and stinking.

Ryan's Top Five

1. Know a foreign language - Any language would suffice. One of the reasons I wasn't incredibly keen on grad school (read: one of many) was that I didn't want to devote the time to learning a foreign language (as this necessitates going to another country at some point, essentially). I'd really like to magically speak German (I know a little) or Spanish.

2. Play Guitar Hero on a difficulty above medium - Nuts to actual music, I'd like to have the ability to excel at guitar hero. I do not.

3. Participate in an organized sport - I'm actually pretty good at sports, or I would be if I gave a shit and participated in them. I'd like to know enough people to have an organized game of ultimate frisbee (emphasis on the word 'know,' by which I mean not just any of the random hippies I could find at KU).

4. Disciplining Kids - I am getting better at this. I'm still not, however, good. I tend to subscribe to the notion that if I'm cool enough and my students like me, they will eventually listen to what I tell them to do for this reason. Problem: I'm not cool--not only uncool among my peers, but resoundingly uncool to kids. I also have a difficult time punishing kids who I like but who are nonetheless lazy jackasses. Anyway, this is an ongoing battle that plagues first-year teachers, so I don't feel especially bad at discipline, per se.

5. Review books - To be cocky, I am pretty damn good at reviewing books compared to a lot of the shit I read in papers. I do lack whatever knowledge it takes to get published, as any half-hearted efforts I've made at doing so have not really been followed myself. I'm now tempted to make this a Top 1 List and put "Not Be Lazy" at the top.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Top 5 Things Unworthy of Top 5 Lists

(Edit: Tim's preamble)Inspired by an email I saw describing Ratdog as the leading member of what I regarded as the least prestigious honor of all time (see my #1), I concocted this list...things that by ranking, you subconsciously would have to accept that there was something -- anything -- positive about them. (e.g., it's hard to call anything about them "top" -- for instance, "top five members of Creed" would be a possible choice for the list -- assuming both that there are five members and that you could actually bring yourself to somehow differentiate their shittiness)

Dan's Top 5:

1. Top 5 Brutal Dictators - Hitler is #1, of course. That very sentence is the reason this Top 5 would suck, as Hitler is widely regarded as the most evil man in human history. Truly he and all other dictators are unworthy of Top 5 status.

2. Top 5 Lamar Odom Injuries - If you've played me in fantasy basketball, you know that I was plagued by the Lamar Odom curse. This guy has even been injured in a team shootaround. I would have put that as my #1, but a quick Google search shows that he JUST GOT INJURED AGAIN two days ago. This time he didn't even make it to the shootaround. He was driving to the shootaround when he got into a car accident and suffered a concussion.

3. Top 5 Steely Dan Singles - Really, Steely Dan has been on top of my hate list of music for quite some time. In fact, they're the reason I said I hated the 70's for so long. Then I later realized that so much good, non-Steely-Dan-sounding music was made in the 70's.

4. Top 5 Diseases - Malaria, Dysentery, Cancer... Very similar reasoning to Top 5 Creed members.

5. Top 5 Moments in Golf - Golf is a boring sport to watch. Every highlight in this top five is probably just going to be an insanely long putt.

Tim's Top 5:
1. Top 5 Jam Bands - Ratdog was described as "one of the top five jam bands of all time", putting them in company with Phish, Widespread Panic and The Grateful Dead (which itself spawned Ratdog). I can not only not name a fifth, nor can anyone who enjoys jam bands, because they're operating under such a minimal level of consciousness thanks to the pharmacopia that surrounds jam bands that they're not frequent list-makers.

2. Top 5 Terminal Cancers - It's one thing to say Terminal Diseases here...but let's be honest, leprosy is still funny, because you won't get it, no one you know will get it, it involves your fingers falling off, and if you somehow did get it, you really really earned it.

3. Top 5 Reasons to Join a Fraternity - #1-5 You're a douchebag and hope to meet other douchebags with an interest in douchebaggery and/or Dane Cook.

4. Top 5 Sofia Coppola movies - I have to say that, far and away, The Virgin Suicides is the best Sofia Coppola movie...and it is sheer horror from beginning to end. Even though she's not reached five films, just to include her in a sentence with words like "non-shitty", "competent", "workmanlike", "inoffensive", "harmless", and "notpureevil" is a strain upon the boundaries of the English lexicon.

5. Top 5 NASCAR Races - This is actually quite easy...whichever races go the fastest...the Pocono 25, for instance, would be an easy chart-topper, if they didn't then follow it up with 475 more miles. In a world of global warming and oil shortage, I know where we can cut back and save mother earth at the minor expense of destroying the South like none but Billy Tecumseh has before.

Ryan's Top Five

1. Top 5 McDonald's Ad Campaigns - Any list that had to include (or had to admit the existence of) the "I'm Lovin' It" campaign would probably negate the relevance of this website for perpetuity.

2. Top 5 John Stamos TV Shows - Anytime you have to say to yourself "Well I guess Full House would be #1," it's time to consider how much those guns at Wal-Mart cost. You only need one bullet.

3. Top 5 Ethnic Genocides - Similar to dictators. Not a lot of opportunities for laughs.

4. Top 5 Any Teams That ESPN Has Dubbed America's Teams, e.g. Notre Dame Football Moments, Red Sox-Yankees Moments, Patriots Moments, Etc. - These teams are generally fucking evil and should not be spoken of any more than the 9 hours of SportsCenter coverage forced down our throats daily.

5. Top 5 Nickelback Singles - This is an easy answer but the thought of it is still so vomit-inducing, I think it deserves mention on this list.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Top 5 Evil Empires of College Sports

No point in making excuses - we've all been sort of lazy when it comes to this blog. Screw it, here's a new one, at the height of college sports season. By the way, this was originally Ryan's idea.

Dan's Top 5:

Duke - Gains massive points because Krzyzewski actually looks like an agent of Satan. The media (especially Dick Vitale) loves to lick the feet of Duke, even though they're not so hot anymore. Oh yeah, and don't get involved with their Lacrosse team, either. That's not a reflection on their recent rape ordeal, that's just a reflection on Duke.

USC - There is absolutely nothing about this team that I don't hate. From their annoying head coach right down to their McDonald's-themed uniforms. Let's not forget the sunglasses-adorned marching band. That Will Ferrell went to USC is about their only saving grace, but that too may prove to be a curse in disguise.

Notre Dame - I haven't talked to anyone ever who actually likes Notre Dame. I think the closest I've ever heard anything come is one of my friend's estranged (probably only for this reason) dad or uncle liked Notre Dame. The fact that their season is in shambles is a great consolation to me. The only reason they lose points on this list is because Rudy was a pretty good movie.

Miami - Probably one of my favorite teams to hate personally, as they seem to have an image that could be described as an East Coast version of USC. The 2003 Miami @ Virginia Tech game remains to this day the best football game I've ever been to. I also hate that they're such arrogant pricks that they fired Coker after a lapse in perfection (that I'd like to think we helped trigger).

Florida - There's nothing I necessarily hate about Florida, other than the fact that they won the Basketball and Football championships in the same year. It didn't seem like they really deserved it in either case. Oh yeah, and Joakim Noah is a dick.

Honorable Mention: Florida State

Ryan's Top Five:

1. UNC - They used to be further down that chain of hatred, but then 2003 happened. I guarantee Roy Williams' departure sparked more "KU fans are babies and should be grateful they had Williams" articles than "Roy Williams is evil" articles. So not only did we have to deal with the pain of Roy Williams choking in the Championship Game as per normal, we had to sit and listen about how we should grow up. Here's what I think: FUCK ROY WILLIAMS. He is a tool and won a championship with Matt Doherty's team after screwing his "friend" out of a job. And listen, media, I turned permanently against UNC when I read in an op-ed column about how "KU fans should thank Roy and wish him well at UNC." Give me a goddamn break. I fucking hated UNC before 2003 and you think now that Roy's there I'll start cheering for them?! I hope UNC gets bad and stays bad forever. I don't value them even as having a nemesis around.

2. Nebraska - This, to be fair, is kicking a franchise while they're down--but that is just what Nebraska did to us for 36 straight years in football. They've assured their spot on this list by having some of their fans complain about teams run up the score against them. Hello Black Pot, my name is Blackest Kettle In History. When I think of the 70-negative 10 drubbings KU endured year after year. Nebraska deserves to be bad for another good decade, at least. Their fans aren't jerks, to be fair. But I've known since that catch against Missouri in '97 that Nebraska really has Satan on their side.

3. Notre Dame - Agreed with Dan, Rudy is the only thing this school has going for it. Everything else: pure evil.

4. Florida - I hate Florida and have hated Florida all my life. The double-championship didn't help. Joakim Noah sucks.

5. Duke - Before UNC this was my least favorite basketball team. Now I am forced to cheer for them whenever they play UNC. This is just one more reason I hate UNC so much.

Honorable mention: Denver Broncos, who are evil enough to qualify in most sports leagues, professional or otherwise. If I was doing solely a KU list, I'd put Mizzou and K-State on here...but they don't really qualify as "empires" so much as "shitty programs that enjoy occasional and unfortunate success."

Tim's Top 5:
1. Michigan - Ok, I admit, I'm biased, I grew up in Ohio, and I have always hated Michigan, in part because all the people who lived in Ohio...loved Michigan. At least in Beavercreek, they did. It was the trendy thing to do, I guess, since Ohio State had taken beating after beating from Michigan in the John Cooper era and was showing no signs of a turnaround. But Michigan represents the purest of evil. Remember the fab five? Remember where Tom Brady went to school?

2. USC - All their teams are professional, their football team is perennially overrated because they don't play anyone, and they're ignored every time the NCAA Sanction van rolls around to punish schools, even though Dwayne Jarrett, Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart, and O.J. Mayo were ALL implicated in scandals.

3. Florida - I'm tempted to just say "The SEC" and call it good, no good can come of any of them in football or basketball as far as I'm concerned, and it just gets everyone from the South bitching about them being disrespected just because it's been eighty-four years since Ohio State has played a game and the SEC title game is two weeks before the national title game. But I hate Florida because I used to like Florida, because of my admiration for Emmitt Smith. Once I grew to be a sentient being, I realized that meant pulling for Spurrier and year after year of over-hyped quarterbacks getting Heisman consideration for doing what I might have done in that system. Then they started really winning by playing a game that only slightly resembles football that's all about moving players around and never getting set (which was illegal last time I checked, but is now what every team in the SEC is doing).

4. Notre Dame - No matter how bad they get, they will be nationally televised. No matter how awful a coach he really is, Charlie Weis got a ton of credit for being Ty Willingham's superior (even if, in fact, the opposite was clearly true). And now they're winning in basketball too. No, I say.

5. Iowa - They're not an evil empire, they're rarely competitive in anything significant, but god I hate Iowa. Seriously, look at the colors. Black and yellow? Disgusting.

Honorable mention: Nebraska's fans (I really bear little animosity toward the school, their fickle fans, on the other hand...), Duke, BYU.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Top 5 Lines from Office Space

I thought of this when I landed on Office Space on Comedy Central while I was flipping through the channels tonight. And it is rather appropriate, as this site has taken a nose-dive over the past month or so, and I'm guessing the biggest reason for all of us (assuredly, the biggest reason for me) can be summed up with Office Space's tagline: Work Sucks.

1. "It's not that I'm lazy, it's that I just don't care." - Peter Gibbons - For me it's really impossible to put this anywhere but #1, even though #2 makes me laugh the most. Not only is it hilarious, it's really a statement of philosophy that has guided my academic and professional life since I first saw Office Space at 3:30am on a Sunday night (read: Monday morning) while I was in high school.

2. "You know, the Nazis had pieces of flair that they made the Jews wear." - Peter.

3. "I can't believe what a bunch of nerds we are, we're looking up money laundering in the dictionary." - Peter.

4. Bob: "Looks like you've been missing a lot of work lately Peter."
Peter: "I wouldn't say I've been missing it, Bob."

5. Bob, to Tom: "What would you say, you DO around here?" I love this line even more after becoming a teacher, as I wanted to repeat it to about half of my students around the time I was entering grades for progress reports.

Honorable mentions: literally everything else in the movie.

Dan's Top 5:

1. "I did absolutely nothing, and it was everything that I thought it could be." - Peter Gibbons

2. "No way. Why should I change? He's the one who sucks." - Michael Bolton

3. "What am I gonna do with 40 subscriptions to Vibe?" - Peter Gibbons

4. "The thing is, Bob, it's not that I'm lazy, it's that I just don't care." - Peter Gibbons

5. "This is a... fuck!" - Samir Nagheenanajar

Tim's Top Five:
1) "There was nothing wrong with it... until I was about 12 years old and that no-talent ass clown became famous and started winning Grammys." -- this entire sequence warrants quotation, see Dan's #2, but, alas. No-talent ass clown has been in my vernacular because of this line.

2) "Well, the type of chicks that'd double up on a dude like me do."

3) "Shit. I'm a free man and I haven't had a conjugal visit in six months."

4) "You know, the Nazis had pieces of flair that they made the Jews wear."

5) "No. No, man. Shit, no, man. I believe you'd get your ass kicked sayin' something like that, man."

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Top 5 Products That You, Personally, Should Endorse

Tim's Top 5:
I'm not necessarily looking for products they'd want you to endorse, mind you, but products that you wholeheartedly support and could shill for without even batting an eyelash.

1) Propel Fitness Water with Calcium - In one month I went from actually being a touch overweight for the first time in my life to being a well-toned athlete capable of running 7 miles just because and finishing a half-marathon. In that month, I have almost cut out drinking soda (1 20 oz. bottle a day sometime between 9:30 and noon) and at home and in the gym, I drink this stuff. While the mixed berry flavor is nothing to write home about, the calcium flavors of mango and mandarin orange have now become the best justification for owning a warehouse club membership. And it's the only flavored beverage with calories that doesn't have high fructose corn syrup. Well done, gatorade.

2) Citrix - I'm not even sure what the name for this is for people other than my employer, it's the equivalent of Gotomypc, since it provides remote access to my firm's server, so that I can work from home -- and lord, I've spent far too many hours doing so. As much as I generally dislike working as a whole, working from home is a much more pleasant experience.

3) Mountain Dew - It's not coincidental that two beverages crack this list, since most of my adult life has been focused on one sort of drinking or another, but Mountain Dew is the one soda I still covet in the morning when I've managed to procure it from the office galley (yes, we have a galley). It's rarely put out for attorney lunches, but when it is, all of them go back to my office with me. It's not great out of cans, but for some reason it's ideal in the 20 oz. plastic bottle. Well done, Pepsi Corporation, it beats out Pepsi One, since you can't get that in 20 oz. plastic bottles and that's all I drink now.

4) Taco Bell food - I really don't eat fast food on a regular basis anymore, but when I do, it's this place I'm heading to.

5) Video IPod - I fought it forever, becoming one of the last people on earth who ever came into possession of one of these things. Now it's an indispensable part of my life -- I've already spent $70 in complementary products (IPod alarm clock that I use to play it at work; AC Adapter (since rendered relatively pointless by said alarm clock), the absurdly priced action jacket so I can use it while exercising...not to mention the Sharper Image IPod speakers my brother has which I covet. It has some drawbacks, but they're actually pretty minimal. The IPhone is lame, though, sorry, but the amount of technology I need in my phone is limited to telephonic communication -- having a phone that plays songs on ITunes seems like a minor benefit at best.

Honorable mention: XM Radio, the 1999 Saturn (I don't like my car, but I still drive it when I could clearly buy something much better); Old El Paso refried beans.

Dan's Top 5:

1. Fender Guitars and Basses - Oh yeah, I'm a musician, too. I keep forgetting. Anyway, I've always prefered the look, feel, and sound of Fender instruments to anything else, especially Gibson and all its sub-companies. The necks are long enough for my big hands to not cramp up too much, and the tones are usually awesome. My dream is to be able to build a custom Stratocaster copy, though. And my main instrument right now is my Geddy Lee Jazz Bass that I bought last summer.

2. The Homeplace - Enough food to kill a small dog for only $12. All-you-can-eat roast beef, fried chicken, biscuits, corn, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy brought out to your table to pass around amongst your party like you were actually eating at home. A visit to Homeplace is typically reserved for special occasions, or when it is learned that someone hasn't ever experienced it yet. Prepare by fasting and ensuring that your stomach is really empty.

3. MATLAB - The single most useful piece of software I ever use, it performs a host of operations and simulations that are necessary for me to give the illusion that I know what I'm doing when it comes to engineering. I can write out lines of code, hit F5, and instantly generate graphical representations of data that will make anyone go, "Hmmm, interesting."

4. Zebra G-301 Gel Pens - The first ever stainless steel gel pen. I've been a fan of the F-301 for a long time, but I would always switch between that and some crappy gel or ink pen when I needed something darker. No longer, as I now have the fantastic stainless steel executive-ish pen that will produce writing dark enough to show up on photocopies.

5. Nestle French Vanilla Coffee-Mate Creamer - I started drinking coffee not even a week ago, and this is probably the reason I'm finally acquiring a taste for it. I'd like to eventually be able to drink it black, but goddamn, this stuff is good.

Honorable mention: Newman's Own Sockarooni Sauce (which I use for pizza), Umbro soccer equipment, Microsoft Xbox 360, Vizio LCD Televisions

Ryan's Top Five

1. Quik Trip (any and all products) - This sounds like I'm joking, but you really must go to a QT to experience its greatness. 7-11 will always have a special place in my heart, but the operation QT runs is so ridiculously above all the other gas station competitors, it's odd they don't have locations everywhere. They must brainwash their employees, or threaten them with beatings like Wal-Mart (I assume), as the customer service is rigidly friendly and remarkably fast. Every location is clean, too. It's like the Target of gas stations, but better, and all other gas stations are K-Mart. More than half the time, I will get one 44 oz. caffeine free diet coke per day from Quik Trip, for $1.06.

2. Wendy's Crispy Chicken Sandwich - I almost said Wendy's, but this is the only thing I ever order there. That said, .99 for a damn good chicken sandwich (with lettuce that is actually crispy) = tres bien. Whenever I'm working and have the means and the time, my lunch invariably (read: every single time) is a 44 oz drink from QT and two crispy chicken sandwiches.

3. Nacho Lunchables - I'm eating one right now. At Wal-Mart, they're 2/$3, which means my lunch every day at school (I vary it occasionally with pizza and cracker-sandwiches lunchables) costs me about 1.70 or so, if you count the soda I bring. Sure, it's not enough food for a meal, which is probably why I'm losing weight (that and the fact that I'm moving almost every single second of the day at work, usually on foot). So, health bonus. You know, sort of. It actually is the perfect amount of food for work, as I'm usually not that hungry and have stuff to do over my lunch break as it is.

4. Barnes & Noble - Not really a product, but hey, why not. I can spend a very long time at this place, and I usually end up not buying anything because I'm a cheap bastard who prefers to find bargains at used bookstores. But, for some reason, I will never pass on an opportunity to go to a Barnes & Noble. It's a confusing addiction, I'll give you that.

5. Slurpee X-treme Gulp - Dan brings up a good point in that the product I like more is in fact the renowned X-treme Gulp (pronounced, we've decided, "kh-streem gulp"). It takes a special kind of mentality to convince yourself that getting 64 oz of diet coke is healthy, but I have this mentality. Here's my original response for slurpee: "This, of course, deserves mention. I haven't had as much recently as I don't live in the same town as 7-11, but to be fair I consumed enough in high school to keep me in good stead for my and several others' lifetimes. Coke or cherry are the only two flavors I consider."

Monday, September 10, 2007

Top 5 Curse Words

Special note to Tory: I really wanted to do your Top 5, but I can't really think of any good movies that I own that would fit the bill. Sideways is definitely a good choice, though. With that stated...

Dan's Top 5:

1. Fuck - I think there's no denying this is king of American curse words. I may be cheating here, but I'm also giving credit for my favorite "fuck"-based derivative, "motherfucker." The root, however, is tremendously versatile, and can be used as almost any part of speech. Take that, you fucking fuck-fucker.

2. Cunt - According to Hot Fuzz, exactly twice as offensive as "fuck," worth two quid in the swear box as opposed to one. This is the last curse word I ever learned, probably because it's more popular in the British realm than here, and I didn't get into British culture until late middle school/early high school. Despite being stronger than "fuck," and the fact that I enjoy it more, I do have to bump it down to #2 simply because it's not as grammatically diverse.

3. Bastard - Saying this almost makes me feel elegant. It's my favorite two-syllable curse word, which hints that there's ever so much more deliberation behind it and that it's not such a slip of the tongue.

4. Ass - A variety of meanings here, and not all negative. (Hey, nice ass.) However, this word achieved personal popularity with James Rolfe's profane NES reviews, a sample of which you can see here.

5. Bullshit - It's weird, because I don't really like "shit" as much as this derivative. A particularly good example of its use is in High Fidelity, wherein Barry rebukes Dick's preference for Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels over the Righteous Brothers.

Ryan's Top Five

1. Goddamn - This was probably the last curse word I came to accept because I always felt vaguely sinful while saying it. The Catcher In The Rye, of course, did a lot to stymie that, and now I find it immensely useful, as it flies through my head pretty often throughout the day. (E.G., student: "I don't know how to do this." me: "That's because you didn't listen when I read the GODDAMN DIRECTIONS. [this last part must be emphasized.])

2. Fuck - To be fair, I prefer what I can do with this more than just the base word. My favorite curse words, really, are "fucking dipshit," or "fucking piece of shit," or "fucking asshole," etc. (Or if we want to be really artistic, "you goddamn fucking piece of shit.") EDIT: Ooh, and also "Fuck me" is a really good way of expressing disappointment. Ah, but then so is "Goddamn it."

3. Dipshit - I'm a big fan of this. "You dipshit." Ah yes.

4. Douchebag - I know I shouldn't say this, but it rolls off the tongue so well. Did I mention, "fucking douchebag"?

5. Damnit - Versatile. You don't always need the sacrilegious prefix.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Top 5 Films to Watch When You're Depressed

The title makes it pretty straightforward, but I'll do a little intro. Whether it's troubles with women or with money, there are movies that when watched offer a catharsis. This list is dedicated to those movies powerful enough to make you forget about things like "bills" or your most recent flat tire that you're not sure you can afford at the moment, but have to afford regardless.

Tory's Top 5:

1. Sideways - The only way I can explain this film is that even though I've never been in such a situation, I have been in times when I wanted to drink. Also, the two characters take actions that any high school student in a similar, representative-of-high-school situation would take, and thus makes it a very relateable movie with Paul Giamatti's character being one of the most real characters in a movie.

2. Stranger than Fiction - I finally bought this on DVD for ten dollars, but for some reason this actually was a limited edition and I didn't get all of the special features (I checked wal-mart, best buy and Target.) Either way, I haven't seen it too many times, but I did wait tables during it, and every time I watched the ending that same feeling that the other movies on this list produce was produced.

3. Once - OK, so I just saw this movie two nights ago, but it was one of the best and most touching movies. There is a single action taken by the boy towards the end of the movie that puts this movie on the list.

4. The Fountain - I am not sure how this got so far down on the list (perhaps I ranked prematurely) but it's on here now. This movie doesn't necessarily have that punch only at the end, but the feeling comes towards the beginning (with the first future scene) and then lasts until the end. It might also get to do with the fact that I think Rachel Weisz is the luckiest woman on earth (for being married to Darren, not for being in this movie.)

5. Rushmore - Returning to a comedy, this movie is one of the funnier ones on this list, and it's probably that comedic element to it that helps get it a spot on this list. I love this movie, and can watch over and over and over and over, which is another reason it got on this list. Plus, the ending is wrapped up so nicely.

Honorable Mentions: Amelie, Punch Drunk Love.

Dan's Top 5:

I really can't explain these films at all, except that they are what I turn to when I am down, and for differen reasons - some are funny, some are about a personal triumph, some are just movies I just know and identify with.

1. High Fidelity

2. Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas

3. Clerks

4. The Shawshank Redemption

5. Better Off Dead

Honorable Mention: Jackie Brown

Ryan's Top Five

These are the movies that make me happy.

1. Office Space - Not just a movie but a state of mind.

2. Hot Fuzz/Shaun of the Dead - I am sick of choosing between the two so I will cheat.

3. The Full Monty - Excellent picker-upper.

4. Wonder Boys - I think I get the same feeling watching this movie that I get while I watch Quiz Show--I feel somehow smarter, more academic. I am a tough nut to crack. (Today is International Idiom Day.)

5. Rushmore - This and Office Space are my two favorite movies, so I have no idea why I ranked them as such.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Top 5 Pythons

From wiki: "The group's influence on comedy has often been compared to The Beatles' influence on music." So I think a Top 5 is in order. I came up with this idea when I landed on PBS, which was airing the German episode of Flying Circus. Let me preface this list with the obvious, that there aren't remotely any "bad" Pythons in my book, but I'm assuming we might disagree on the ranking scheme.

Ryan's Top 5:

1. Michael Palin - I give Palin a slight nod over Cleese, so that someone else can change the order. Palin wrote a pretty good novel in Hemingway's Chair. He was, notably, the dead parrot salesman, the transvestite lumberjack, and the lead cardinal of The Spanish Inquisition.

2. John Cleese - Probably the most talented of the bunch, if we're being objective, which isn't exactly something I pride myself on (hi, my name is Ryan). Played loads of roles, but the ones that come to mind are the Minister of Silly Walks and the double vision leader of the proposed expedition to Kilimanjaro. He was also essentially the host of a lot of the episodes and And Now For Something Completely Different, and frequently narrated. Fawlty Towers is also hilarious, and really so is anything else he's in.

3. Graham Chapman - Probably the most dead of the bunch, if we're being objecti... oh, wait. Played King Arthur and Brian, and he was The Colonel.

4. Eric Idle - He wrote "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life," which really could make him #1. Wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more.

5. Terry Gilliam - I thought about putting Jones here but The Pythons really wouldn't have been the same without their trademark cartoon animation, which even now is eminently and immediately recognizable. He was also great as Patsy in The Holy Grail.

It feels wrong not including Terry Jones, because he was a principal writer of some of the best sketches and also earns bonus points for penning the Labyrinth screenplay. But someone had to go to fit in the animator.

Dan's Top 5:

1. Michael Palin - Unlike Ryan's reasoning, mine is that he truly is my favorite Python. He seemed the most versatile, as well as the most Charismatic. Played practically everything in The Holy Grail, and a number of memorable roles in the television series.

2. Graham Chapman - Probably my favorite of what seemed to be the two "leaders," Chapman and Cleese. I loved the juxtaposition of straight-faced and absurd. Co-wrote “The Ministry of Silly Walks”, "Raymond Luxury Yacht", and “Dead Parrot.” Oh, and here is part of his memorial service.

3. Eric Idle - The musical talent of the group (apart from Neil Innes) and perhaps the most unique of the bunch (he wrote his material alone). Also responsible for "Spamalot," which I would love to see.

4. John Cleese - I really feel bad putting him this low, as it seems like he's one of the smartest of the bunch. However, he's been tremendously successful outside of Monty Python, so I'm sure he'll cope.

5. Terry Jones - I hate to leave out Gilliam, but half of my esteem for him comes from his non-Python directing efforts. So, I feel it's better to have Jones included for his terrific acting and cross-dressing.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Top 5 Guitar Hero III Songs You're Looking Forward To Playing

Now I'm only aware of Ryan being the only other person here who plays Guitar Hero. But since I'm so excited about the new game coming out this fall, here's my list of songs I can't wait to play.

Dan's Top 5:

1. Muse - Knights of Cydonia - I absolutely love this song. At times, I wake up to it in the morning. Having the ability to play this song live - even with plastic buttons - is a godsend.

2. Weezer - My Name is Jonas - You know when you're setting up a computer for the first time with Windows XP, how you have to choose a name for the computer? My computer's name is Jonas.

3. Beastie Boys - Sabotage - Easily the best song this band has ever done, I actually know how to play the main riff on a real bass. So, this is probably the only song I'll be able to play in real life, too.

4. The Rolling Stones - Paint It, Black - One of my favorite Stones songs, this is probably the one I'd probably choose to play on Guitar Hero if I could have only one pick.

5. The Killers - When You Were Young - Great song, but if you're going with a Killers song, you should go with something more guitar-centric, a la Mr. Brightside. Though if it were actually Mr. Brightside, I would probably kill someone in sheer anticipation of the game, so maybe it's a smart choice after all.

Ryan's Top Five

Well, there will be a lot of agreement on this list. Song #1 is easy--Hit Me With Your Best Shot by Pat Benatar, of course. Aha, never mind. Anyway, here goes:

1. through 4. The exact same songs and order as Dan's - Yep, these songs alone are reason enough to buy the game. Which is to say, I'd buy the game if it had only these songs. Or only Knights of Cydonia.

5. Santana - Black Magic Woman - OK, it's a cover, but this song still rocks hard tasty abs washerboard style.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Top 5 Directors of English-Language films

Tim's Top 5:
Given the slowing of the posts on this blog, I'm going to resuscitate it with an overly accessible and simple topic. Enjoy. Moreover, I'll arbitrarily narrow this category in a manner that affects my top 5 list in no way, shape, or form, even with the recent passing of my man Ingmar. Incidentally, I think my next pet will need to be named Ingmar.

1) Alfred Hitchcock - Sorry, his worst movies (Frenzy and Family Plot come to mind) are still worth watching, even though the people in Frenzy are as ugly as they come on screen without the involvement of Tod Browning (Freaks). North by Northwest, Shadow of a Doubt, Rear Window, Dial M for Murder, I Confess, Rope, Strangers on a Train, Notorious, Psycho, Vertigo...hell, even Rebecca. No question here. I can't put anyone else on par with him. They're all eminently watchable, enjoyable, and he told better stories than anyone else has ever mustered.

2) Billy Wilder - Better than anyone on the list for covering all genres of film with his mastery. Nobody else was going to put together One, Two, Three and Double Indemnity, let alone be able to toss in Double Indemnity, Sunset Blvd., Stalag 17, and yeah, Some Like It Hot. And, with all apologies to My Cousin Vinny, which is the most realistic litigation-based movie ever made (no, I'm not kidding), Witness for the Prosecution is probably still the best courtroom movie ever made.

3) Stanley Kubrick - Demoted to #3 because his missteps are so blatant -- the absurdly slow ending of Eyes Wide Shut, that ended about 40 minutes too late and ruined the quality of the film in the process; the second half of Full Metal Jacket, which is only passable; The Shining -- a film everyone else loves, but which effectively abandons the source material that has Jack as something other than a monster at the beginning of the film. But every film he's made is defensible, even Lolita, and he took chances where Hitchcock didn't feel a need to. There simply is no other director who could have made A Clockwork Orange, 2001, or Dr. Strangelove...and that alone makes for a fine career.

4) Woody Allen - This is a difficult choice, because if I had to take all the movies a director had directed and put them on my resume, it's much easier to include Scorsese, as he has never directed Celebrity, Anything Else, Interiors, September, A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy, or Alice, for instance. That said, 1970s Woody Allen excluding Interiors may be one of the finest decades of any director's work -- Love and Death, Manhattan, Sleeper, Annie Hall... yeah, I'd be hard-pressed to turn that down so that I can say I directed Nic Cage in Bringing Out the Dead (albeit an underrated film). Also, Woody Allen won an Oscar for making a good movie, not a really mediocre one.

5) Errol Morris - It's hard not to push him up to #2, but his first two films, including the over-hyped Gates of Heaven just aren't up to par with his later work. And, quite frankly, he doesn't have that much of an ouevre, so it's hard to say that he's accomplished more than Woody Allen, because when Woody Allen had only made eight movies, his resume was better than it is now. He's simply the most impressive documentarian on this earth, and aside from Vernon, Florida, all his movies are intriguing on some level. My favorite is Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control, though The Fog of War is worth the Oscar he took home for it. Bonus points for his series First Person, which was uneven, but was occasionally the most fascinating thing that's ever been on television. Negative points for directing too many Miller High Life commercials (e.g., more than zero).

Honorable mention: Martin Scorsese (GoodFellas alone is a magnificent career, throw in Raging Bull and I'm an ass for dumping him off the list -- but what has he done lately??? Not much that's more than ordinary.); Charles Laughton (he is batting 1.000 and now he's dead, well done for directing Night of the Hunter); Orson Welles (almost certainly would fall down this list if I ever managed to get Blockbuster online to send me his actual movies that aren't The Magnificent Ambersons, Citizen Kane, and Touch of Evil, but they wouldn't he stays).

Dan's Top 5:

1. Stanley Kubrick - I've not seen anything bad by this director, unless you count the second half of Full Metal Jacket.

2. Alfred Hitchcock - I've only seen North by Northwest, but that, coupled with tons of Tim-praise, is enough for me to feel confident with him at #2.

3. Wes Anderson - There hasn't been a bad Wes Anderson movie. I am guessing there never will be.

4. Terry Gilliam - Time Bandits, Brazil, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. There are many who hate them and many who think they're brilliant. I fall into the latter category.

5. Martin Scorcese - I actually liked The Departed, goddamn it. Of course, Raging Bull and Goodfellas were excellent, and I keep kicking myself for never having watched Taxi Driver.

Honorable Mention: Quentin Tarantino. Essentially, he does popular "cover versions" of older movies, only they're originals. To me, he's the "Go! Team" of movie directors.

Ryan's Top Five

I'll use the "I'm going with different people to change things up a bit" ruse to hide the fact that I'm, as Jack Black would say, a cinematic idiot who hasn't seen nearly enough to make this a viable list. Anyway...

1. Wes Anderson - His four movies are four of my favorite movies, and (I think, anyway) exceptionally crafted. He's hilarious and a great cinematographer, and the best soundtrack director ever.

2. Alexander Payne - The fact that I lived in Omaha and still visit often probably pushes him higher than he'd be on most lists. Anyway, I love Election and About Schmidt, and of course Sideways. He really, really gets Midwest life.

3. Edgar Wright - Because Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz rule.

4. Nick Park - OK, technically Curse of the Wererabbit was the only film he's directed, but you could include The Wrong Trousers, A Close Shave, and A Grand Day Out. Anyway, when I have kids, they will know and love Wallace and Gromit (and Arthur).

5. Christopher Guest - Though I haven't seen For Your Consideration... Everything else has been good: Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, Waiting for Guffman.

Tory's Top Five

1. Stanley Kubrick - Besides Lolita, I enjoyed everything that he made (including Eyes Wide Shut, even if it's ending didn't justify it's incredible journey to it; also including the second half of Full Metal Jacket, which I found to be a good portion of a movie.)

2. Darren Aronofsky - Other than Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Darren is definitely my favorite director, and Jeunet is bumped for speaking "French." He has only made three films, but he started out with a cult bang in Pi, arguably the best movie ever made about math/science (10000000000000000x better than What the Bleep do we know, which had a production value that was on par of a educational film made for health class.) He then went on to direct Requiem for a Dream, which is one of the darkest and dreariest movies ever. His most recent is The Fountain, which I loved even if it got a lot of bad reviews.

3. Wes Anderson - The most formulaic director I can think of, but he makes it work. His style lends itself to making each movie have the same feel more so than any other director I can think of, and it's a feeling I will never get tired of and that I am looking forward to in the Darjeeling Limited.

4. PTA - No, guys, not the Parent-Teacher Association, Paul Thomas Anderson. He is bumped down to number four because his movies aren't as rewatchable as most movies I enjoy are. As good as boogie nights is, I can't think of the next time I will take 2 1/2 hours out of my life. However, the fact that he followed Magnolia up with Punch-Drunk Love and didn't get crucified by all of his fans speaks volumes for his potential. There Will Be Blood should be in the top 5 movies of the year.

5. David Lynch - This is obviously simply in terms of him as a director, and definitely not as a writer. I hate the story behind Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive, but the look (Mulholland Drive at least; Lost Highway looks like it has the quality of a home movie) he gives his movies is immeasurably dark. Eraserhead, despite it's awkward storyline, look incredible and for some reason I am drawn to his awkward surrealist-like direction. Even when he doesn't do his own films, he can succeed (at least with The Elephant Man; I haven't seen Dune or the Straight Story.) He also triumphed with Blue Velvet. I haven't seen Inland Empire yet, nor have I ever seen Twin Peaks.

Honorable Mentions: Quentin Tarantino - I will never forgive him for Death Proof, the most boring movie ever made.