Lonely Avenue, Ben Folds & Nick Hornby
The ambassadors of hipsterdom to their specific media type (music and novels/novels-turned-into-movies about music, respectively) collaborated for this much-anticipated recording, each bringing their talents to one side of the musical equation. Ben Folds certainly sounds like Ben Folds, while Nick Hornby's lyrics are distinctively his ("You know what hope is/Hope is a bastard/Hope is a liar/A cheat and a tease").
It's an enjoyable listen, if not technically sock-blowing. By the time you get to the third track, "Levi Johnston's Blues," you'll know you've made a purchase worth keeping on the "Recently Played" auto-playlist in iTunes. But really, the most important thing you need to know is they have a song about me. No, really! The first track, "A Working Day," goes "Some guy on the 'net thinks I suck/And he should know, he's got his own blog." I have a blog on the Internet and think lots of things suck! But your psychic abilities aren't quite as honed as you'd like to think, Ben Folds. I don't think you suck (this time). Once again, I am triumphant. Victory lap around the Internet, everybody!
Family Guy's "Partial Terms of Endearment"
Oh, Family Guy. I don't know why you put yourselves through the pain of making controversial episodes that would never air on network television but garner plenty of publicity for the inevitable DVD release. It's almost like you do it on purpose or something. But you would never do that, right Family Guy? You'd never sell out. This one-episode release is the "BANNED FROM TV" episode "Partial Terms of Endearment" that discusses abortion. It's difficult to figure out exactly why Fox refused to air the episode, as the abortion stuff — though stupid and unfunny — didn't seem all that controversial.
It's pretty much just a standard episode: Peter's kind of dumb, most of the cutaways are baffling (the Special Catalympics featuring slow-witted cats was particularly apropos of nothing) and sometimes even the writers forget what the setup for the non sequiturs are*. Heck, the most offensive part of the episode was when Peter dressed in a Nazi uniform in order to create a porno scene, which had little if anything to do with abortions. The DVD also includes extras like downloadable songs and Seth MacFarlane's latest attempt to either launch his own variety show or his career as a Vegas lounge singer** ("Seth and Alex's Almost Live Comedy Show"). Diehard Family Guy fans will probably snatch it up either way, but the rest of us can wait for it on Netflix. After we've watched everything else and disc two of Night Court has a weeklong delay.
Finally, the video game that actually made the XBOX 360 worth buying gets a sequel. Too bad Microsoft wasn't smart/greedy enough to lock it in as an exclusive this time around (though I doubt it was for lack of trying). The sequel has improved on its predecessor in some respects — instead of going around taking pictures (apparently the developers didn't learn from Pokemon Snap), you can now combine items using duct tape, which is about 113 percent more awesome than it sounds (lightsabers, anyone?).
The constant pressure of the clock can be annoying, especially to a generation of gamers reared on Grand Theft Auto-style open-sandbox gameplay; the clock feels (and is, really) an artificial way of keeping the pressure on. Still, the game is loads of fun, and you can always save, ignore the mission and just tool around on a zombie-killing spree. There's even some excellent social commentary on what people will do without the safe restraints of polite civilization — the answer to that question is, like the mutilated remains of a zombie who got too close to the chainsaw-and-kayak-oar combo you duct-taped together, not pretty.