Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Music: AML I by Cassandra Fawson

For the past couple of weeks, our mother, Cassandra Fawson has been compiling a playlist of the best musical sing-a-long songs, and she has finally finished the first volume of it. The songs are fresh, memorable, and most of all; sing-a-long-able. We love popping it into our parents' car cd player, rolling down the windows, and drooling outside while singing along with some of the best. We look forward to her future editions.

If you're interested in a copy, send an email to our mother at cassandra (dot) fawson (at) gmail (dot) com with your address included, and she will send you a cd.

Quick vote: Singing, musicals, we love it!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Books: 1491 by Charles C. Mann

We had heard a lot of this book, 1491, before we ever picked it up, mostly on libertarian-esque blogs. The book's subtitle proclaims it contains: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, and it delivers as promised. The book chronicles the history of Native Americans and what they had really been up to before Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

This book was written to answer a question, what were the Americas like before European settlers arrived? There are many misconceptions that the Native Americans were a bunch of Nobel Savages who lived in harmony with the land and didn't attempt to alter their environment in any way. This book disproves that theory, as well as describing several theories for human migration into the Americas, and chronicling many of their civilizations and their relationship with their environment. It was fascinating to see a myth that we had been taught since we were puppies disproved so soundly in this hefty book.

Quick vote: This book was quite thick, but we really enjoyed it. If you're interested in truth and Native Americans, check it out!

Thanks to all of our loyal readers that attended our Aunt Jiggy's dedication at Beaver Mountain this past Saturday! We're sorry we missed you!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Blogs: Fantasy Football

We're not huge sports fans, but this year we've been following a little bit of football due to ESPN's Fantasy Football. Our parents each ended up with their own fantasy team and we've found ourselves tuning in to see how well they are performing. The idea is that you can create your own 'fantasy' teams by drawing desired players from all of the teams in the NFL, and then they are scored each weeks by various technical criteria (we know little about the details).

So far, Sandy Bob's Babies are 2-1, and the Killin' Whales (our mother's team) are 1-2. Go Fawson Fantasy Teams!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Movie: Sweeney Todd

It seems fitting, since we've been focusing on musicals lately, and we reviewed Dexter yesterday, that today we would combine the two and review Tim Burton's latest movie, Sweeney Todd. We have never seen the actual musical, so we didn't know what to expect from the film, but we were excited. The result? Another Tim Burton masterpiece with his eclectic cinematography, bizarre costuming, and surreal sets. But unlike other Tim Burton movies we've enjoyed (e.g. Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Edward Scissorhands) this movie was gruesome. Violent in a truly Tarantino-esque fashion.

Sweeney Todd (Johnny Depp), the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, is returning from serving penance for a crime he didn't commit. He was framed because a lusty judge was after his beautiful wife. He ends up in cahoots with Mrs. Leavitts (Helena Bonham Carter) who helps him plan his evil schemes. Johnny Depp was pretty awesome in this film, though we were quite disappointed in Helena Bonham Carter's casting, her voice was too weak and her character unconvincing. We were also suprised to see Sacha Baron Cohen (aka Borat) with a cameo as a rival barber.

Quick vote: This movie was gruesome, but well made. Not for the faint of heart, or the faint of ear, as some of Mz. Carter's singing is quite gruesome itself. (Ah, nepotism. She's Tim Burton's wife.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

TV: Dexter

We had heard a lot about Showtime's tv show, Dexter, but we finally got around to watching it and boy are we glad we did! It is smart, savvy, and though a tad gruesome at times, we've really been enjoying it.

Dexter Morgan works for the homicide department in Miami's police force as a forensic analyst specializing in blood splatters. He is also a serial killer. His adopted father, a legendary homicide detective, recognized Dexter's personality quirks early in life and taught him to cover his tracks and to kill only those that deserve it. So in his spare time, Dexter finds those people that fall through the cracks of the Miami police system and takes care of them his own special way, all while trying to fake his way through a normal life with friends, relatives, and his girlfriend.

Quick vote: This show is not for the faint of heart, but it's really well made.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Music: For My Friends by Blind Melon

Our dad is a long-term Blind Melon fan, so when they came out with a new cd a few months ago, he bought it right away. It's taken us a while to get around to listening to it, but we were glad that we did. Blind Melon is typically a bit too hard for our tastes, something we enjoy in moderation, but not something that we would listen to on a daily basis. This new album, however, is a whole different creature. It's less Blind Melon and more a Blind Melon/Bright Eyes/Spoon amalgamation. We really like it.

"I went drivin' today,
Couldn't help but think of how
You're with somebody else,
And now you've got a child.

It's been a few years
Since I saw you last.
I know you're doin' fine,
You don't miss the broken glass."
--Tumblin' Down

"Scratch my eyes out for you,
Strap dynamite to my sides.
Shed a carcass for you,
Oh, empty out my soul.
I'm begging you, just give me a chance.
Stick with me and we'll see the rest.

Oh, I'm paralyzed.

I'll carve your name here in my chest,
Kill for you, and nothing less.
I'll burn alive no second thoughts,
Just to hear your scratchy voice,
Your scratchy voice."
--Harmful Belly

Quick vote: This album is fun and funky, we really enjoyed listening to it.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Books: Practical Demonkeeping by Christopher Moore

Christopher Moore is the author of several books with great "pick-up factor." What we mean by that is that when perusing the local bookstore, we're continually drawn to his books and pick them up, though we had never read any until now. If we hadn't read so much vampire lore lately, we probably would have read You Suck instead, but rather, we read Practical Demonkeeping.

This book was really fun, involving demons and genies, and all sorts of ancient lore all tied up into a quick-read novel set in the present day in the Northwest. A demon has been traveling about, eating people (mostly shady characters like the drug-dealer, The Breeze) and not getting caught for a century. His master falls for a girl, and grows complacent allowing him to slip off and create some evil plans. A genie has been tailing them and wants to gain his freedom as well as sending the demon back to Hell where he belongs.

Quick vote: This book was quite a fun read, but won't be winning any Pulitzer prizes any time soon!

Aunt Annie's 2 Cents: My mommy sometimes calls me a demon when I pee on her bed. Is that a compliment? I assume so, so I'll just keep doing it.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Blogs: A Softer World

A Softer World is an artsy blog we've been into lately. The blog takes vintage photos and strings them together in comic strip-like formats, adding witty commentary along the way. It's fun, funny, and original.

Quick vote: This blog is very unique and fun. We give it two paws up! (Or four. Or eight.)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Movies: Fiddler on the Roof

This week, we thought we'd review an oldie, but a goodie. Our Grandpa Chris loves this movie, and has passed on this passion onto his children, and now his grandchildren! Fiddler on the Roof is a classic film about Jews in Eastern Europe and what happens when the Russian government decides to teach them a lesson.

This movie follows Tevye and his three daughters, who each choose increasingly scandalous husbands. The family has hopes and dreams, and eventually those hopes and dreams force the daughters to choose between what could be and what has always been. The movie is a beautiful tale of family, love, tradition, and hope. Also, we do love ourselves a good musical, and no one can deny the powers of Sunrise, Sunset or Matchmaker.

Quick vote: Who doesn't love a classic musical? And also one that you can now watch on Hulu? An unbeatable combination.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

TV: The Flight of the Conchords

We rented season 1 of The Flight of the Conchords on DVD last week, and we've been giggling to ourselves ever since. The show plays on HBO, which is usually scary, but there were no naked humans (Gross!) that we saw... The show is about a band, The Flight of the Conchords, made up of two guys from New Zealand, who come to New York to get their band big on the American scene.

This show combines some of our very favorite components. It is funny (dry, British humor), has musical elements (They burst into song, musical style, several times per episode. Also, they are always playing gigs and practicing their songs.), and is suprising. We love this show!

Quick vote: This show is hilarious. It is one of our new favorites!

Aunt Izzie's Wiz-ord: I used to be in a band. I was their mascot. But they kicked me out because I wasn't 'tough' enough. My butt-bow probably didn't help me street cred.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Music: All I Intended to Be by Emmylou Harris

Lately, our taste for folk music has fallen from folk into the realm of country, which is definitely the case with Emmylou Harris' recent album, All I Intended to Be. This album is perfect for a long road-trip across abandoned corn fields and wide stretches of open highway. Emmylou has been around for a long time, this is her 21st album, and the simple truth of it rings in our ears. We love this music, despite its old-time country feel. It seems like something our great-grandparents would listen to...

"So don't be tempted by the shiny apple,
Don't you eat of the bitter fruit.
Hunger only for a taste of justice,
Hunger only for a world of truth.
'Cause all that you have is your soul."
--All That You Have is Your Soul

"Somewhere in the distance,
Northern lights will shine.
You'll be there beside me, my darlin',
Far beyond the great divide.

You'll be mine forever, my darlin',
Far beyond the great divide."
--Beyond the Great Divide

Quick vote: We really enjoyed this album, and we suspect that you will too! Check it out if you enjoy folk music, country music, or quality music of any variety.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Books: Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer

A few weeks ago, Stephenie Meyer's newest book, Midnight Sun was partially leaked onto the internet. Though she urged her fans not to read it as it was a rough copy full of errors and changes, we couldn't help ourselves (We typically have no self-control, especially Sammi when she's around food...) and we devoured it in a few days, and then read it again a few days ago for pure pleasure.

The draft is of a companion book to Twilight but from Edward's point of view. (Twilight is from Bella's point of view, if you're in the dark on this issue.) We really enjoyed Twilight the first time around, but that was nothing compared to Midnight Sun. We wondered how much new content there could be, already knowing the plot of the book, but already (the draft is about halfway done) there have been several surprises. Additionally, we have renewed respect and admiration for Edward, and some of his murky chivalry has been explained. We love this draft and it makes us lick our bums in anger that Stephenie may never finish this incredible manuscript. Finish it! Please! Do it for the bitches!!!

You can read it yourself here.

Quick vote: If you enjoyed the Twilight Saga, you will adore Midnight Sun. But you may want to read Stephenie's disclaimer found here before you delve. Happy reading! (Also, if you haven't read any of the series, for doggie's sake, don't start here!)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Blogs: Cake Wrecks

Today's blog was brought to our attention by our friend Sarah Reale and is yet another, 'mock the people around us for their stupidity' type of blog. But instead of mocking the Average Joe for his once again mistaking their for they're, it's mocking professional cake makers. That's right, you heard us, professional cake makers. People send in their cakes that are made with the wrong things written in icing (Mom Flash Aunt instead of Mom/Aunt or Phillip That That That Wohoo! instead of Phillip... Wohoo!) or perhaps a cake that is just too bizarre to ever have been made, like this cake head, thanks to edible image printing.

Quick vote: This is a pretty fun blog to look at. Always seems to be good for a chuckle, though since we don't really have any cake making skills, we can't mock the makers with the abandon we reserve for grammar and spelling mistakes.

Oh, and happy birthday Aunt Headie!!! If we could cook, we would make you a cake just like this, but with beer inside to celebrate your 21st.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Movie: Sleepless in Seattle

As mentioned previously in the week, our parents just returned from a trip to the Big Apple and we've been thinking about it all week. As such, we thought we would watch the iconic Sleepless in Seattle (now available on Hulu) especially for the Empire State Building Scene.

We hadn't seen this movie in a long time, so it was surprising to us how very cheesy it really was. Sleepless, seems to be the precursor to many movies about the internet, where two people fall in love without ever meeting each other and for some reason or another, can't meet or whatever. (A perfect example of this would be another Hanks/Ryan classic, You've Got Mail.) Eventually, they fall in love, meet each other, and the son, Jonah, is happy in the end to have a new mother. There were many anachronisms, especially in New York, clothing styles, and the whole flight scenario (obviously pre-9/11).

Quick vote: This is a classic love story that portrays New York in a wholly romantic light. It was fun to re-watch it!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Politics: Sarah Palin

We won't lie to you, we're getting sucked into the election again. With the entry of Sarah Palin as John McCain's VP pick, we're once again excited about the voting process. We once again diverge to tell you our true emotions concerning this subject.

Maggie's Opinion: Finally, a bitch in the White House! And such a well-bred one at that. I love her stand on economic issues, she loves free-market capitalism and so do my daddy and me! She's has awesome support of bitches, er, women, and I support her highly conservative pro-life stance. (No aborted puppies!) I don't appreciate her legislature to include creationism as an option in the school system, that's what Doggie Church is for, but I do like her opinions of energy policies and local oil-drilling, something she should know a lot about. Overall, I'm excited about her as a candidate, or co-candidate rather. I think that including her on the ticket will be the best shot that McCain will have towards entering those white gates where all the most regal doggies play...

Sammi's Vote: I can't believe this woman. First off, let's talk about the pregnant daughter scandal; and she's supposed to be conservative? Not with all those illegitimate puppies running around all over the place, she's not. She opposes stem cell research that would help many doggies that are sick or dying. She opposes legalizing marajuana, which really hurts my burgeoning pot business, though she confessed to smoking it herself when it was legal under Alaskan law. In conclusion, it seems like she is just a big fat, baby-making hypocrite. Dogs for Obama!

Quick vote: Sarah Palin is very divisive, especially among bitches.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Music: Spamalot Soundtrack

Our parents went to New York City last week, and saw a couple Broadway shows, but we weren't invited. To protest, we ordered the Spamalot soundtrack, a show we went to a few months ago when it came to Salt Lake. This show was so fun to go to, and hilarious for fans of Monty Python and those that have never even heard of the British band.

"Once in every show,
There comes a song like this.
It starts off soft and low,
And ends up with a kiss.
Oh, where is the song
That goes like this?
Where is it? Where? Where?

A sentimental song,
That casts a magic spell.
They all will hum along;
We'll overact like hell.
For this is the song that goes like this.
Yes it is! Yes it is!"
--The Song That Goes Like This

"He was not at all afraid to be killed in nasty ways,
Brave, brave, brave, brave Sir Robin!

He was not in the least bit scared to be mashed into a pulp,
Or to have his eyes gouged out and his elbows broken,
To have his kneecaps split and his body burned away,
And his limbs all hacked and mangled, brave Sir Robin!"
--Brave Sir Robin

Quick vote: It doesn't really matter if you've seen this musical or not, anyone who likes a good musical (and even some of those who don't) will enjoy the musical stylings of Spamalot!

Aunt Annie's Two Cents: Broadway sure has gone downhill from when I was in the All-Dog Cast of My Fair Lady. I was Eliza Doolittle. "All I want is a bone somewhere, far away from this cold night air!"

Monday, September 8, 2008

Books: When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

We have been reading David Sedaris for quite some time now, even before we knew about his contributions to NPR shows like This American Life. His caustic wit lends itself well to his short-essay format, perfect for a quick read or listen. We picked up the audiobook of his recent collection of essays, When You Are Engulfed In Flames, read by Sedaris himself, and settled in for a great listen.

We were not disappointed. Most of Sedaris' earlier works focus on his childhood and his ridiculous family. But it seems that he has exhausted his stories of alcoholism and fooling his father and has moved on to stories of his adult life, and especially living in France with his long-time boyfriend, Hugh. We enjoyed this different take on life, especially when they travel for Tokyo to help David kick his smoking habit.

Quick vote: If you like Sedaris' earlier work, you will enjoy When You Are Engulfed in Flames. If you did not enjoy Sedaris' earlier work, you will not enjoy this work. It's as simple as that. If you haven't ever read anything by him before, and you enjoy nonfiction essays that are funny and true, this is probably a good place to start. (Or with Me Talk Pretty One Day.)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Computers: Chrome

Well, it's happened.  Google has begun its huge strides towards owning your soul!  They decided to start with Chrome, their new web-browser.  Faster than Mozilla Firefox (our previous browser), more compatible than Windows IE, and trendier than Opera... It's Chrome!!!  (Soul-controlling device sold separately.) 

Though we have always been incredibly happy with Mozilla's line of products including Mozilla, Camino, and Firefox; (As well as content with Safari and IE.) we decided to download Chrome and give it a whirl.  Why not, it's free?!  (Doesn't that sound like a horror flick tagline to you?)  So far we've enjoyed the interface, especially the tabs bar that brings up your top websites whenever you open a new tab.  We enjoy the simplicity of the browser, focusing on the content of the websites.  It does seem to be buggy, however.  For instance, Chrome does not allow us to scroll upward with our scroll wheel.  Down, yes.  Up, no.  There have been other little mishaps such as that, but as of yet we've seen no compatibility problems.

Quick vote:  This is a fun browser, but maybe wait until it's out of beta to switch over completely.  But if you are still interested, you can download it here.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

TV: 90210

We tuned in last night for the highly anticipated remake show, 90210.  (A remake of Beverly Hills 90210.)  We are too young (since we were unborn) to have watched the original show, so some of the allusions were lost on us.  It seemed that there were several characters on the original show returning to grace this show, and some old drama resurfaced, but we didn't really care much about that.

Annie and Dixon are brother and sister (though he is, shhh big secret, adopted) and moving into BH from Witchita, Kansas.  (Evidently, Farmsville USA.)  They arrive on the scene and are stunned by the, there's no better way to say this, richiosity of everyone around them.  The acting was weak and cheesy, but we sorta liked it.  The ingenue, Annie Wilson, bugs hardcore.  Somehow everyone hates her, and then because she is really smiley and naive, everyone adores her.  And then everyone hates her because, and we are the authorities here, she acts like a bitch.  We enjoyed it, but we'd much prefer an episode of Gossip Girl anyday.  (BTW: Did you see that season premier?  Killer.)

Quick vote:  Not a cimematical masterpiece, but we'll probably end up tuning in for more, just to see how everything pans out.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Music: The Moth Podcast

It has been a long time since we have discussed a podcast on this forum, so we'll take advantage of it now. We heart 'The Moth' and their stellar podcast. People hop up on stage and tell 'true stories without notes' that are generally funny, but more plot-motivated than standard stand-up routines. We first heard about it from This American Life's Ira Glass' obsession with them. Sync your iPods (or teeth into) today!

Quick vote: This podcast is definitely worth a listen to.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Books: How the Scots Invented the Modern World by Arthur Herman

When our parents went to the San Juan Islands, they were part of a Fawson Family Book Club. For the club, they read Marley and Me by Josh Grogan and How the Scots Invented the Modern World by Arthur Herman. Though we were not invited (How rude!) to participate in the book club, since we weren't invited to the islands, we decided to read the book anyway in order to better participate in the dinner-table conversations.

This book started out with a deep historical discussion of the Kirks (Scottish Protestants), the Highlander tribesmen, and the politics prevelent at the time. Eventually, the narrative moves on to discuss the measures that Scotland took to further the common man, schooling and libraries and universities, that produced a group of incredible thinkers such as Adam Smith and David Hume. The thesis of his story was that because Scotland was always in the shadow of England, they had to work extra hard to achieve and thus produced many incredible men, ideas, and innovations.

Quick vote: This book started out strong and interesting, but by the end, it felt like Herman was grasping at straws. Seriously, James Bond is the epitome of a Scotsman?! We don't think so Arthur Herman, we don't think so.