MUSIC My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye West
Love him or hate him, you cannot deny these two things: 1) Kanye's popular, and 2) He's crazy. Like, probably-certifiably-if-he-weren't-so-damn-rich levels of insanity (see: Tracy Morgan). Whether he's apologizing to George Bush* or Taylor Swift, it seems like his public life would be a helluva lot easier (and provide him with a lot more free time spent not apologizing) if he actually thought before things came out of his mouth.
Fortunately, what makes him so annoying as a celebrity is what makes his music so great. Universally praised (almost to an absurd degree), My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy sounds as good as its various covers look strange.
So what, if anything, is the takeaway? Kanye, please stick to the musicking and leave the ridiculous-ing to the professionals. Oh, and the authoring, too, if you don't mind.
- Cannibal, Ke$ha — I really, really want to hate Ke$ha. For her name. For her music. For her insipid lyrics.** For the fact that we can't tell if she has a good voice because all we hear is AutoTune. For her music videos, in which people explode into colored dust for no reason. I do want to hate her. But Bieber's still out there, and we have to marshal our forces where they'll do the most good.
- Burlesque Soundtrack, Cher/Christina Aguilera/Various — Seriously, didn't Moulin Rouge just come out a few years ago? Is there some sort of virus going around where if don't we remake every movie within 10 years of its release we'll all die or something? Because I might choose death. I'm just saying, I want options.
- Pink Friday, Nicki Minaj — Despite looking like the love child of Lady Gaga and a Barbie Doll (and sounding like a Ke$ha clone on "Your Love"), this latest-savior-of-the-genre-of-hip-hop might have a legitimate claim to the cross. Maybe.
- I Did My Best, Dane Cook — I don't even understand the concept of a greatest hits CD for a comedian. It's apparently a mixture of some of his most popular bits from different recordings and some unreleased stuff, re-mixed and re-mastered. How do you re-master a live comedy recording? How do you stitch them together? Who the hell still thinks Dane Cook is funny?
- Zen Food, Kevin Eubanks — He finally broke free of Jay Leno's grip. I will rejoice by refraining from speaking ill of the title of his (terribly named) album. (Oops.)
- My Worlds Acoustic, Justin Bieber — I don't know if it's possible to hate someone to death over the Internet, but that's no reason not to try. ---
DVDsI'm Still Here: The Lost Year of Joaquin Phoenix
You can argue all you want about whether veracity is important. Some, like Tim O'Brien, might say it doesn't matter (yes, I'm still bitter). Others, like James Frey, would say that it's probably a bad thing to lie about.† But I think the most important thing to remember when dealing with any kind of entertainment is this: It still has to be good.
Despite however much joy Letterman may have gotten when Joaquin Phoenix first bored everyone to death on his show (Letterman was in on it), the rest of us still had to sit through either a) watching a guy being interviewed who was in the process of completely destroying his life, or b) watching a guy being interviewed who was pretending to be in the process of completely ruining his life. Either way, not exactly a barrelful of yuks, or even particularly interesting. If I wanted to watch celebrities acting like morons, I'd go find Dr. Drew's Celebrity Rehab.††
There may be some meta-philosophical layer that can bring a certain amount of satisfaction in wondering whether what we're seeing onscreen is real, but we get plenty of dramatic tension in actual movies. Growing a beard, wearing sunglasses and losing an entire year of your career isn't any more fascinating than trying to figure out how M. Night Shyamalan keeps getting to make movies.
- The Expendables — A bunch of our favorite action stars team up for a movie? Awesome! Wait, except half of them have cameos of 10 minutes or less? So the entire reason people wanted to see the movie is a lie? That's cool too, I guess.
- Eat Pray Love — This is clearly a movie for females. The more Thanksgiving-appropriate, male-centric version would be: Eat. Watch TV. Expel gas. Eat some more. Nap..
- 2010: Moby Dick Combining the practice of churning out a low-budget movie vaguely similar to a popular film and the practice of mashing up classic fiction with current obsessions, we get a mashed-up mash-up. What happens when you combine a stupid movie with a boring-ass book? I don't know: I'm not dumb enough to watch it.
- The Vomit Gore Trilogy — I'm just going to list what this includes: the full-length features of the Vomit Gore Trilogy (Slaughtered Vomit Dolls, ReGoregitated Sacrifice, Slow Torture Puke Chamber), and a brand-new short film called A Perfect Child of Satan. Am I the only one who thinks the short film isn't really living up to the lofty expectations set by the first three?
VIDEOGAMES Gran Turismo 5 (PS3)
After a mere five-year wait, the Playstation's premiere racing title finally hits the new console. Well, I mean, they did already release Gran Turismo HD Concept with the platform's launch in 2006, when they charged players for every car or track they wanted to purchase (buying everything cost upwards of $400). And then there was Gran Turismo 5: Prologue, which was basically a demo that cost $40 back in 2008. But now you can pay $60 for the whole thing! Woohoo!
This is an enormous game, though exactly what you're going to do with 1,031 cars to choose from is unclear. Regardless, this release is loaded: It's got rally racing, karting, a track editor, stereoscopic 3-D support … the only thing it doesn't come with is a Tony Stewart of your very own. (The licensing issues — and the fact that this isn't a NASCAR game — probably made that cost-prohibitive.)
The game's official release isn't until tomorrow, so there isn't much by way of reaction yet. However, if you're a car nut (especially a Gran Turismo fanatic), it's safe to say you're going to enjoy this game.
* In the most backhanded way possible: "I can definitely understand the way he feels to be accused of being a racist in any way because the same thing happened to me," he said, before saying that people accused him of being racist when he interrupted Taylor Swift's acceptance speech. No, Kanye, people accused you of being an insufferable attention whore. But way to play the (inexplicable) race card.
- Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii) — Thankfully, this time without the drums. (That's right, Donkey Konga, I still haven't forgiven you.)
- Michael Jackson: The Experience (Wii, NDS, PSP) — So. Tempted. To make a child molestation reference … But still, I would refrain from playing it on your Wii. (See? That's better.)
- Crazy Taxi (XBLA, PSN) — Another venerated classic finds new life as a downloadable HD version. Too bad it's $10, not true HD and doesn't include the soundtrack (which is half the nostalgic fun).
** "I … am … cannibal/I'll eat you up/Whenever you tell me I'm pretty/That's when the hunger really hits me/Your little heart goes pitter-patter/I want your liver on a platter/Use your finger to stir my tea/And for dessert I'll suck your teeth/Be too sweet and you'll be a goner/I'm gonna pull a Jeffrey Dahmer." Or, from "Grow a Pear": "When I first met you (panties droppin')/Every time I saw you (it was on an')/One day you asked if we could just talk an'/That's the reason why I'm walkin'/If I am honest/I'm just not hooked on your phonics/... You should know that I love you a lot/But I just can't date a dude with a vag."
† Though this NYMag profile shows that it may not have mattered.
†† Or most reality shows. Or most magazines. Or the E! Channel. Or cable news. Or network news. Or news in general. Or anywhere on the Internet.
††† It's not a dream. If you didn't get that, you weren't paying attention.