Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Top Three TV Shows of 2008

We watch a lot of television during the day, mostly because our parents love to abandon us to our own devices and they think that a tv set is as good as human company. And they're mostly right, except for the fact that the tv doesn't scratch behind our ears or apply Neosporin to our armpits when we lick them raw from anxiety. Heh, but we would never do that... As a result, we have a lot of good candidates for this year's Top 3 TV shows, but here are the winners!

3. This American Life. (Original Review) We are dedicated listeners of NPR's weekly radio program, This American Life, so when we heard that Showtime was turning it into a television show, we were excited to see the results. Sometimes when you love something a little vintage or outdated you are often disappointed by the modern version (see Planet of the Apes), but nothing of this sort happened with TAL. The brilliant Ira Glass kept the same format, an hour of stories or interviews based on a theme, but it's more vivid and fascinating in 2D. We'll continue to listen to the radio show, which we'll always adore, but we enjoy the tv show immensly, and can't wait to watch Season 2.

2. Dexter. (Original Review) Interestingly enough, this show also plays on the Showtime network, we never realized how great their programming was. This is the show about a Robin Hood-style serial killer, a man who has some psychological need to kill based on his traumatic childhood that he resolves through vigilante justice in the Miami area. We like the show and the questions of morality it brings up. Is it right that we want Dexter to escape from the cops? Should we be cheering that his no-good victims on, or rejoice in their death? But the show can get quite gruesome, and is not for the faint of heart. This is a good one, though we preferred the first season to the second.

1. Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip. (Original Review) This show was cancelled a couple of years ago to make way for 30 Rock, which we think is a shame. Though they are both about television networks and SNL-style shows on those networks, they are fundamentally different, and we wish there could have been a place for both of them. We love 30 Rock and think it is hilarious, but it doesn't hold a candle to Studio 60. This show is smart, funny, and fast-paced; it reminds us a lot of the West Wing and the intelligent writing that made that show famous. We mourn this show like we mourn Arrested Development, and it makes us like 30 Rock a little bit less for pushing this smart gem out of the way. If you've never seen it, you can check it out on Hulu.

That's it for smart and sassy tv shows of 2008. Everyone stay safe tonight, don't sniff anyone's butt unless you really want to get to know them, if you know what we mean! Enjoy your new year, and we'll see you tomorrow for the Top Three Movies of 2008!

Honorable Mentions: Flight of the Conchords, Gossip Girl, and House MD (our daddy's pick).

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Top Three Albums of 2008

We're back today to evaluate the top three albums we reviewed in 2008!

3. Flight of the Conchords Soundtrack. (Original Review) This album is awesome. The songs are taken straight from the tv show, so they're hilarious if you've seen the show, but they're still quite funny even if you haven't. We especially love the song about robots, and we frequently switch the words so that the song talks about how canine beings rule the world. We think that Aunt Annie, our doggie overlord, would be pleased. (Our daddy's pick!)

2. Be Ok by Ingrid Michaelson. (Original Review) Having listened to Ingrid Michaelson's previous album, Girls and Boys, we were excited to hear Be Ok, but nothing prepared us for what we got. This album blew us away with its depth and clarity. We listened to it for about a month straight, and it's been in our elite playlist ever since. The songs are such a rich mix and so different from one another, that we never get bored with them. We love her voice, her interesting lyrics, and her simple back-up that brings out the quality of the singing. Hurrah for this album!

1. We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank by Modest Mouse. (Original Review) We've been listening to Modest Mouse for some time now, and we were blown away by this newest album. The band has seamlessly incorporated a more "rock-and-roll" sort of sound while still maintaining the raw passion found in Isaac Brock's voice and lyrics. We love this album, and find ourselves gravitating back to it continually, a rare thing for us. Holy cow, what is that amazing thing wagging at the end of my butt?! I have never chased that before!

Well those are our favorite albums for 2008, we hoped that you enjoyed all of the music from this year. We wish that your 2009 will be filled with puppies and great music and rawhide treats.

Honorable Mentions: The Hotel Cafe Presents.... Winter Songs by Various, Under the Blacklight by Rilo Kiley, and the Spamalot Soundtrack.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Top Three Books of 2008

Alright, so we've been negligent over this holiday season, forgive us! Our parents went to Florida and we spent a week at Grandma and Grandpa's house terrorizing Aunt Annie. What a Merry Christmas it was cuddling with Grandpa Chris, eating Aunt Annie's fancy food, and barking at every living thing to walk by the house, which Aunt Heady espeically loved!

In this last week of 2008, we thought we'd join in the tradition and make a 'Best of' list for each of our traditional categories. Today, the top 3 books we read in 2008:

3. The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston & Mario Spezi (Original Review) This book is a true crime story about a serial killer roaming through the hills outside Florence, Italy and the reporter who became so wrapped up in the police investigation that he was charged for the murders himself at one point. This book is not intended for quesy readers as it gets a tad graphic at parts, but anyone who enjoys a good Law & Order will enjoy reading about the 'Monster of Florence,' the Italian Ted Bundy you didn't know that you didn't know!

2. Marley and Me by Josh Grogan. (Original Review) This book is best summarized by it's subtitle: life and love with the world's worst dog. It wouldn't be a good book list without a classic book about a dog, and this is one of the best that we've read. We imagine that this is what a book about Aunt Annie or Aunt Kenya would sound like, but not us. We're perfect angels who have never chewed on anything inappropriate, licked anywhere we shouldn't have, or been disobedient in any way... But back to the book, it's awesome and if you haven't read it yet, you really should!

1. A Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs. (Original Review) We read this book fairly recently, so maybe it would be further down in the list had we read it back in April, but we loved it. A man takes on religion wholeheartedly with one goal, to attempt to live the Bible literally, and we get to see what became of him and his religious beliefs because of it. This was an interesting book about family, religion, and ritual and we really really liked it. Read it!

We're looking forward to 2009, with hopefully more great books like these! Remember, if you have any recommendations for books or any other media, feel free to leave them in the comments or email them to our mother at cassandra dot fawson at gmail dot com, she doesn't trust us to have our own email address, not since we used her credit card to help out that deposed Nigerian Prince!!!

Honorable Mentions: Haunted by Dorah L. Williams, The World Without Us by Alan Weisman (our Daddy's pick), and White Tiger by Aravind Adiga.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Music: The Twilight Soundtrack

After enjoying the Twilight Movie, we decided to pick up the soundtrack.  We were impressed by the list of artists that we enjoy, such as Iron & Wine and Collective Soul.  We liked the soundtrack, but we didn't love it.  The music is a bit hard for us, but it's pretty fun.

"Thought I was a fool for no one.
Oh baby, I'm a fool for you.
You're the queen of the superficial,
And how long before you tell the truth.

You set my soul alight.
Glaciers melting in the dead of night,
And the superstars sucked into the supermassive."
-- Supermassive Black Hole by Muse

"I was a quick wet boy, diving too deep for coins,
All of your street light eyes wide on my plastic toys.
Then when the cops closed the fair, I cut my long baby hair;
Stole me a dog-eared map and called for you everywhere."
-- Flightless Bird, American Mouth by Iron & Wine

Quick vote:  This is a pretty fun cd, but it's not incredible.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Books: The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

We've been hearing a lot about The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, winner of the Man Booker Prize, and for once we agree with what we've heard about it.  This book has exceeded our expectations, and we devoured it nearly as quickly as we devour Dingos.  

Balram, an Indian chauffeur, writes a letter over the course of seven days to a Chinese minister who is searching information about entrepreneurs.  So Balram sends him the story of how he became a driver in the first place for a rich Indian from America. Balram got his own break when he murdered his master, stole a large sum of money, and finally started his own taxi business in Bangalore.

Quick vote: This book was lyric and beautiful, an Indian Crime and Punishment. We highly recommend it!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Blogs: The Big Picture

We've been following the blog The Big Picture for a while now, and we really like what we see.  The blog is an offshoot of the Boston Globe website and it shows big news stories through pictures.  The pictures are often thought-provoking and interesting.

This specific picture comes from Venice where there has been great flooding recently.  It's incredible to think of home being waist deep in water, or for us, head deep!

Quick vote:  This blog is a lot of fun.  We recommend it for your news and photography interests.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Movies: The Ten Commandments

Our father recently owned that he had never seen the Charleston Heston classic, The Ten Commandments. So we picked it up and sat through the nearly four hours of incredible cinema from 1956.

This classic film follows the Biblical story of Moses and his quest to free his people from Egyptian slavery and the cruel hand of the Pharaoh. We love this film, though the special effects look extremely dated, the acting and the screenplay is impressive, even 52 years later.

Quick vote: If you haven't seen this (like our father!), do. It's a classic, and worth watching again if it's been awhile.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Music: The Hotel Cafe Presents... Winter Songs

Now that Thanksgiving has past, it's time to roll out the Christmas music. This year, our favorite Christmas album is The Hotel Cafe Presents... Winter Songs, which is a compilation from some of our favorite indie women artists (e.g. Brandi Carlile, Kate Havnevik, Fiona Apple) singing some classic Christmas carols (e.g. Sleigh Ride, I'll Be Home for Christmas) in combination with some new music as well (e.g. Winter Song, The Heartache Can Wait).

Quick vote: This is the best Christmas cd of the year, we love it!

Aunt Annie's 2 Cents: Santa?! Are you my mommy?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Books: A Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs

We have been hearing about this book from NPR, our beloved readers, and Amazon recommendations for months, and we finally got around to reading it over the Thanksgiving break. The book is a nonfiction documentary following A. J. Jacobs for a year while he attempts to follow every rule found in the Bible including the simple clear cut ones (give 10% of your income away in tithing) to the obscure ones (don't wear different types of fabric at the same time).

A. J. Jacobs is a secular Jew living in New York who undertook a large project to find more religion in his life through living all the rules in the Bible, no matter how arbitrary they may seem. The writing and content is hilarious, and we very much enjoyed this search for God in one of the most-read books of all time.

Quick vote: This book was hilarious and definitely worth picking up this Christmas season!