Listen, we all know I'm not the most religious guy on the planet. Okay, I'm not even close. But working at Borders for the past six months has made me realize that some things are less "miracles" and more "makin' a buck."

About a month or so after being hired, I was assigned the awesome job of re-arranging the entire Religion section. All the Bibles, all the Christian Inspiration, all the Christian Fiction, all the Jewish, Hindu, Atheist, Muslim, etc...everything needed to be arranged and spread out to new shelving in order to make room for new product. So, over the course of two or three shifts, I became very, very, VERY familiar with a lot of books I had never crossed (zing!) paths with prior to this.

One of those books was a bestseller entitled, 90 Minutes in Heaven.

You see, this guy was in a horrible car accident. Died. Went to Heaven for 90 minutes (I guess they have clocks in Heaven) and then woke up alive? Oh, AND THEN decided to write a book about it. And it sold a shitton. (That's a lot)

But that book came out in 2004.

A couple months ago, I started getting lots of people coming in asking about, "This book about a kid who went to Heaven and came back..." and I'd tell them, "Oh you mean 90 Minutes in Heaven," as I walk them over to the Religion section. But they'd stop me and go, "No, I already read that one, this one is about a kid in a wheelchair!"

Yes, there's apparently another book about going to Heaven and coming back. So, I made a mental note and went about my days working and sorting books. Then, around November, a new round of customers came in looking for, "This book about a kid who went to Heaven and came back!" As I go to grab "The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven" they stop me and say, "No, I already read that one, this kid isn't in a wheelchair!"

Ugh. Heaven is for Real! Soooooo, TWO books about children going to Heaven and coming back come out within months of each other?! Seriously?! I know I'm a cynical asshole, but c'mon!!! You got to admit that's pretty far fetched...even if you believe in Heaven and religion in general.

But, my absolute favorite is a guy who wrote a book not about going to Heaven and back, but HELL!!!

He even wrote an amazing follow up entitled, 23 Questions About Hell which answers incredibly complex questions such as, "Isn't God mean for making Hell?" and explaining that Hell is actually within the center of the Earth. Yeah, you didn't know that?! Hell is exactly 3,700 miles underneath the Earth's center. Which means we can totally go visit if we just dig deep enough!

Oh, and course all of these books are located in the Christian Inspiration section, not Christian Fiction...



(keep in mind, I did not see: THE HURT LOCKER, MOON, A SINGLE MAN, A SERIOUS MAN, THE INFORMANT, PRECIOUS and a few others...but I did see these...)


Yes, it was long. Yes, it was based on an unfilmable graphic novel. Yes, it was visuals over characters...but dammit, it was also awesome. So much so that my wife, who hadn't even read the comics, LOVED this movie. And last time I checked, she was a chick. So it did something right. (Maybe it was just the large naked blue guy?!) I'm curious to see what Zack Synder does next and I'm pretty sure Jackie Earle Haley is a fucking star now. It wasn't the best movie of the year, but it was definitely one of the most interesting and visually stunning films of the year.


Speaking of impressive visuals, James Cameron never lets you down. His stories are pretty "ho-hum" and tacky, but they get you through with awesome flying creatures and big gunned robots. And, if nothing else, it gets the "Travis Award" for being one of the only IMAX 3D films that didn't get me light-headed or give me a weird headache. James knew what he was doing and lit the scenes with enough light that they literally pop off the screen. It goes without saying, but you should see this in theaters...cause even on Blu Ray, it's not going to be the same experience.


Seriously. Fucking Star Trek?! I know, believe me, I know. I've NEVER been into Star Trek. My friend Jon used to watch The Next Generation with his parents and I'd sit there, rolling my eyes, wondering when we could go do something, ANYTHING else. Molly was into the TV shows as well, and since this had J.J. Abrams involved, I decided to give it a shot. Holy shit, it was really good. Exactly what a Summer Blockbuster should be. Lots of action, awesome and fun characters, and just overall a thrill ride. Nothing Earth-shattering, but dammit...a good movie. Period. Look past the fact that it's titled "Star Trek" and you'll be surprised.


Another one I had ZERO interest in seeing. I saw the trailers. Thought the "shrimp" aliens looked cheap and lame. Heard about the $30 Million budget and wondered why this wasn't going "direct-to-DVD?!" Then started seeing the good reviews and heard nice word of mouth and gave it a Saturday night. Not at all what I was expecting. Shot as if it were a documentary, treated as if aliens had actually landed here, not as in "take us to your leader" or "prepare to die!" Instead, they were refugees. Put up in slums, treated as a disease none of us wanted to deal with. They've been here for decades, and aren't even the main focus of the story. The alien angle was more of an excuse to challenge how we treat one another. Probably a better movie about apartheid than Invictus. And the last 20 minutes were better than ALL of the shitpile that was Transformers 2.


Missed this one in theaters, but on a whim we rented it and watched it at home. Kickass, quirky love story. Hipster, independent 30-year-olds find out they're going to have a baby and want different advice on what the best way to raise the kid would be...So they decide to take a road trip and visit family and friends. A really funny, really simple, and sweet movie.


Why the fuck did I see this one? I knew the ending. I read the book. I have a kid now and lost my Father recently. But I went. And cried. And feared the scenes I knew were coming, dealt with the dread and sorrow that weighed on my shoulders. But damn, John Hillcoat is an impressive director. And the kid, the fucking kid nailed the scenes at the end. It was moving, it was gut-wrenching, but it's exactly the kind of movie you need to see once and then never again. It hangs with you for weeks after you leave the theater.

4. UP

Onto happier movies...sort of. I didn't realize how many people felt this movie was a downer until my Step-Mom saw it recently. She cried the whole time. At the beginning, at the end. I didn't get that sad while watching it, but will admit that it was able to jerk a few tears out of my eyes. It also goes on record for having one of the best 4 minutes segments in the history of cinema. Don't believe me?


I usually enjoy Wes Anderson films, but his last two films, The Life Aquatic and The Darjeeling Limited, were sort of "meh." This one, however he did it, was ingenious. I think the think that perfected this film, (besides all the lil' details hidden throughout the scenes) was his way of capturing the voices. Instead of keeping each actor in a soundproof box, reading their lines all alone, he took them out into a farmhouse, with microphones, and let them play out entire scenes. It's the most natural ensemble animated movies ever. They cut each other off, take pauses, never missing a beat. You almost forget you're watching stop-motion animation after awhile. But more than anything, it oozes "Wes Anderson movie." Even with miniature puppets, he was able to give this world his unique touch. All three of us, Molly, Lex and I, all had smiles on our faces throughout the entire film. Hell, I'm ranking it above a PIXAR film, how much more good can you strive for in animated features?!


Quentin Tarantino has never let me down. I liked Jackie Brown. I liked his 1/4th part of Four Rooms. I'll defend that Death Proof was far more ambitious than the B-Movie "cheese" it was supposed to be. But still, I had no idea how entertaining a movie about killing Nazis would be. This film was probably the funniest movie of the year. It also holds the title of "Most Intense." It takes it's fucking time, lets entire scenes play out for over 20 minutes, and you simply cannot take your eyes off Christoph Waltz's "Jew Hunter." Tarantino needs to win Best Screenplay for this character alone. Christoph deserves Best Supporting Actor without anyone else even needing to show up. If I wasn't such a hopeless romantic, and didn't like the movie below better, this would have been my #1 movie of the year.


But alas, I'm a sucker for love stories. Oh, AND I have a man-crush on George Clooney. The man is legendary. He's from the old-school Hollywood leading man period. Classic. Charming. And he just puts himself into each role naturally. Him and Vera Farmiga share a chemistry that is sexy, intense, and the kind all of us hope for. But Clooney's character, (pretty much the closest thing to playing himself) isn't interested in long-lasting relationships, and cherishes living in hotel rooms and traveling 320 days out of the year. Still, you root for them, for him to slowly fall for Farmiga's charms (how could he NOT?!) which makes the way director Jason Reitman decides to end it (it's unconventional, like everything he does) all the more reason to sigh. But dammit, you'll enjoy the ride and all the emotions associated with it. And you have to give it up to Reitman for making a film that is directly on the pulse of what is currently going on all around us. To make a romantic drama-comedy about a guy who has to travel the country firing people, and not allow it weigh down the entire film...it's remarkable. The fact that he used real people, who were recently laid off, in the scenes where people are being fired was a nice touch. Overall, filmmaking doesn't get any better than this.




Yes, I'm cheating again. Technically, I'm not sure that you're supposed to include compilations on your "Albums of the Year" lists, but whatever. Both of these collections were stellar. Dark Was The Night included unreleased cuts from Spoon, Beirut, The National and just had a darker tone overall. War Child: Heroes was a nifty idea where legendary artists, (Bruce Springsteen, U2, David Bowie) asked new, rising, (The Hold Steady, Elbow, TV On The Radio) artists to cover their songs.

Both albums were much better than they should have been. A rare treat.


They made a great first impression on SNL, a great album, but ultimately, it just faded away once the months piled on. Kind of like Vampire Weekend, the buzz and radio play might have harmed them. Still, I'll be interested in seeing where these guys go next!


This is when the eye-rolling begins. I like David Gray. I don't give a fuck that you don't, or that when you think of his music, John Mayer also comes to mind. David Gray is fucking good, he writes impressive, emotionally powerful music. And while this album wasn't the powerhouse that Life In Slow Motion was, it was still a nice record. One I listened to a lot in my car at the end of a long day.


These guys are incredible and I hope they get more buzz with their next album. I've searched some "Best of 2009" lists already, and they ain't on any of them...which is a damn shame. I saw them open for Spoon two years ago and they blew me away. Intense, raw, catchy. Even got Britt Daniel to produce this album for them. They're going places, so watch out.


I actually have my brother to thank for this one. He's always telling me how good Jay Z is and besides a "99 Problems" here or his collaborations with The Roots there, I've never picked up one of his albums before. While he tells me this isn't near the "classic" status as the first Blueprint, it's still easily one of the best albums of the year. A few songs are skipable, but the combo of the first five songs are as perfect as anything else released this year. Whoever says "albums are dead" needs to remind Jay Z. Cause he ain't interested in merely releasing singles and stuffing the rest with filler.


Soundtracks are usually worse than compilations when it comes to being spotty and "5 shit songs for every 1 decent one." But god damn, this soundtrack is something special. Way more ambitious than it needed to be. You can't but wonder if Karen's past relationship with Spike Jonze came into play. They shared a vision of this not being some lame "kids" movie. The music had to be as interesting and challenging as the film itself. And it came out way more awesome than it needed to be.


Well, hello boys! Long time no see. Your last album, self titled, was nice and nifty, but lacked that certain "edge" your early work had. Looks like you found it again with this release. Songs like "Got Some" and "Supersonic" packed a punch unlike anything you've released in years. You found the passion again, you sound like a brand new garage band, out to rock the world with a sense of purpose and drive that no one can damper. This was my "surprise of the year." I wasn't expecting it to be this damn good, and I'm glad they proved me wrong.


These guys were making all sorts of hype and word-of-mouth on the festival circuit earlier in the year, and who knew if their debut would live up to all the hoopla? Good thing they seemed unfazed by the attention and set out to just focus on the music. Out of nowhere they became one of my favorite bands and I can't wait to see where they go from here on out!


When he's not getting arrested for wandering the streets of New Jersey, or releasing a collection of Christmas tunes for a feed-the-homeless charity, he's still producing some of the best work of his entire career. Much like Clint Eastwood, he seems to just keep making interesting, important work by never letting up. He's been on his "Never Ending Tour" since around 1988. Together Through Life hearkens back to my personal favorite, "Time Out of Mind" in that he's reflective of the world around him, while still longing for true love and deep attractions. It would have been my favorite album of the year if it wasn't for...


I've only gotten into Elvis Costello fairly recently, but I always assumed he was rock n' roll. Imagine my surprise when I read that one of his very first gigs was singing a duet with country music legend, (and my Dad's all time favorite artist) George Jones! This album takes Elvis back to his honky-tonk roots and he brings along legendary producer T-Bone Burnett just to make sure it leaves the rest of the music industry in the dust. They recorded the entire thing in three days and songs like "I Felt The Chill Before The Winter Came" and "Sulphur to Sugarcane" just drip good ol' country. Toby Keith and Taylor Swift could learn a thing or two...



Yes, it's that time of year again...the BEST OF lists begin!!!


Yes, I'm already cheating, but both of these games are FPS, (First Person Shooters) both are a lot of fun to play with engaging stories. But sadly, they are short, quick adventures and get a lot of their added gameplay online. Where, an old fuck like me doesn't dwell much. (You can only get your ass handed to you so many times by a 12-year-old boy before you just realize you ain't THAT good.)


Probably the best game I've played yet on the iPhone! So easy to control, so much fun to create webs and capture bugs. Only reason it's so far down the list is because it was over WAY TOO SOON. It was this studio's first game and basically, a test-run to see if you could create something unique for the iPods. I imagine the next one will be much longer (and more expensive than the STEAL of $2.99!!)


I had a lot of fun with this title...before the wave of other games came out and distracted me from leveling up and feeding princesses cake. A multiplayer feast with 32 people battling it out in "capture the flag" type match. Plus, the quirky art style gets bonus points!


I'm a sucker for the Katamari. I had both games for the PS2, one for PSP and came close to buying an Xbox (total lie) to get my hands on Beautiful Katamari. Good thing I didn't, cause this collection takes all the best levels from those games and puts them on one disc with amazing 1080i visuals! I played this nonstop for three weeks and STILL didn't find everything out there, which means I might have to go back and finish it one of these days...


A GOOD video game based on a comic book?! Scratch that...a GOOD BATMAN GAME?! Folks, this has never, ever happened. Written by Paul Dini, this game takes place in one long evening...as the Joker traps Batman in Arkham Asylum and all hell breaks loose. A great fucking game, but once you beat it, there's little reason to go back and play it again.


Another one for the iPhone. (Although it just came out for the PS3 as well) Best described as pure video game crack. This simple lil' game isn't anything special, but you CANNOT QUIT PLAYING IT. Ever. You will try one level, then another, then another, and once you get past the unicorn and onto the King Tut cat, you just have to admit you have a problem. It's like Plinko mixed with pure awesomeness. There's no other way to describe it. Just play it and deal with withdrawl when you're forced to go to work.


It would have been easy for Harmonix to just slap The Beatles's name on their Rock Band game, added some lame character models and a few of their songs and called it a day. But noooooooooo, they had to treat this project with the utmost care and respect. What they ended up creating is less "game" and more "interactive documentary." It's a thing of rare beauty, and yet, something that your 5 year old, and parents in their 50's can enjoy right alongside you. Watch the video review up above and feel sorry for yourself that you right off video games as "teenage junk."


Easily the most beautiful game on the list. Easy as hell to play too. You just control the pedal with the controller, shifting it left or right, back or forward...no buttons or combos or score or anything! The worlds start out dead and colorless, and as you float along using the wind to pollinate the ground, more and more life grows and illuminates the world. Once we finally got an HD TV this year, this game took on a life of its own. One of the first things to "burst" off the screen and implant itself into my brain.


Not only is it fun killing zombies, but doing it online, with your boyfriend is even better! Much to Molly's amusement, Kevin and I spent many a nights in separate houses, killing zombies and swearing at one another. (We're on a team, and more times than I'm willing to discuss, I was responsible for killing us both.) Tons of levels, lots of replay value, and the fact that you can play the entire campaign online with a buddy, it was one of the best games of the entire year...


...But not THE best. This is THE best. Uncharted 2 was nonstop, action, adventure, mind-blowing set pieces, incredible high speed chases, fun while tough boss battles...the whole fucking package. You couldn't spend $60 better this year. It put the best Hollywood action movies to shame. Made you realize the power of how intelligent writing, powerful voice acting, and production values can make the perception of mere "video games" shatter into a million pieces.



I smelled something sour as soon as reports started coming in that four police officers were shot and killed inside a coffee shop outside Seattle. No one else was injured. No attempt at any sort of robbery. Some nutjob simply walked into a coffee shop, brutally murdered four police officers, and left.

Then, once they announced the name of the suspect they were pursuing, and Mike Huckabee's name was attached as being the one who let him out of jail the first time, it smelled even worse.

Turns out that Maurice Clemmons wasn't the first inmate Huckabee granted clemency to. Nor was he the last.

In 10 1/2 years, Governor Mike Huckabee granted 1,033 pardons and commutations.

It was so out of hand, FOX NEWS actually did a news story about it back in December of 2007!

"During his years as governor, Huckabee granted clemency an average of about once every four days. Huckabee's successor, Mike Beebe, has issued 40 so far this year, fewer than one a week. Bill Clinton, Frank White and Tucker granted 507 clemencies in the 17 1/2 years they served as governor."

See, this isn't the first time Huckabee has been associated with letting someone get out of prison, only to have that person commit an even worse crime. Wayne Dumond was sent to prison for raping a distant cousin of President Bill Clinton. Seriously. He supposedly "found God" while in prison and ended up raping and murdering a girl in Missouri. While Huckabee to this day says it wasn't HIS FAULT Dumond was released, parole board members said they felt pressured.

Joe Conason over at Salon.com has an incredible article linking all of Huckabee's mistakes and pardons and commutations together...and it all comes down to if they'd become "Born Again" or not.

In fact, there's even a case where Huckabee moved up an execution, (instead of just reducing it to a life sentence like both Mother Theresa and the Dalai Lama had wanted) and that criminal converted while in prison as well...to Buddhism.

Oops, wrong God, dumbass.



Mark me down as not liking Obama's decision to escalate our troop presence in Afghanistan one bit.



And I know that everyone who has a Playboy subscription says they "read it for the articles," but I actually do and this one by Thomas Frank completely tears Beck's tactics to pieces.

Here's a small sample:

The funny thing is, Beck’s political views and even his vision of the founding generation are actually repudiated by the very founder Beck loves most. I refer to Thomas Paine, the Revolutionary War pamphleteer upon whom Beck and so many other wingers these days are weirdly fixated. Beck named one of his 2009 books after Paine’s famous 1776 pamphlet, Common Sense—not because of any specific insight, it seems, but because he likes to imagine we are living today under an “out-of-control government” every bit as offensive to “common sense” as that of George III. During his Common Sense Comedy Tour last summer Beck reportedly took to the stage dressed as Paine.

But Paine gave the world more than those two words. And when we open Paine’s even more famous work, The Rights of Man, a defense of the French Revolution, we find that it begins with a denunciation of the very idea of one generation binding future generations. “You must heed the call of generations past,” Beck pontificates in his homage to Paine. “The vanity and presumption of governing beyond the grave is the most ridiculous and insolent of all tyrannies,” Paine slapped back in 1791. “Man has no property in man; neither has any generation a property in the generations which are to follow.”

Should we read The Rights of Man all the way to the end, we find Paine calling on the English government to furnish the public with old-age pensions, subsidies to the poor, payments to mothers on the birth of children (welfare!) and guaranteed employment for everyone in the large cities. Should we carry our interest in Paine so far as to read his 1797 pamphlet, Agrarian Justice, we will find—I hope you are sitting down for this, Beck—that Paine proposed a national pension system based on a property tax! Now, hating Social Security is such a no-­brainer on the right—the host himself has called it a Ponzi scheme—that perhaps Beck’s followers can be excused for assuming that old Tom Paine was right there with them down to the last shake of their Ayn Rand placard. Still, they might have bothered to consult the Social Security website, where they will find Paine’s pamphlet reproduced as one of the “key early documents” in the struggle for old-age security.

And there is something more than a little peculiar about a devoted Mormon like Beck being a Paine fan. Until a short while ago Paine was mainly remembered as the man who despised organized religion. Debunking religion’s historical claims was, in fact, the subject of Paine’s most famous work, The Age of Reason (1794), in which the pamphleteer trashes the Bible book by book, describing the story of Jonah, the virgin birth and the crucifixion all as bad jokes on a gullible mankind. In a famous passage this scoffing founder wrote, “Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is none more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason and more contradictory in itself than this thing called Christianity. Too absurd for belief, too impossible to convince and too inconsistent for practice, it renders the heart torpid or produces only atheists and fanatics.”



I'm tired of having to wait...I wanna see this movie NOW!!!



The AP has a lenghty look at her coloring book autobiography and fact checks the shit out of it.



No, it's not a new horror movie coming to theaters, it's Drudge's latest headline today, on the heels of special elections around the country...

Now, true...as of me writing (typing) this, the outcomes aren't known yet. But if the polling holds up, and chances are it will, Republicans will win most of the elections tonight.

Virgina would be getting a brand new Republican governor, which would be a nice win for them. But Virginia is the only state in the Union which doesn't allow it's governors to serve consecutive terms. So every four years it's a toss-up, and this year goes Republican after currently having a Democrat in office.

New Jersey could be getting a Republican governor as well...which happened back in 2002 as well, so it's not like it never, ever happens.

But the one that is getting all the attention is New York's 23rd District. You had a Democrat and Republican going at it, when out of nowhere a third party candidate named Doug Hoffman entered the race. Suddenly, what was assumed a Republican victory became a 3-way tie. In fact, mere days ago, it appeared that the Democrat might actually win the race! (This district has constantly gone Republican since the late 1800's!)

And suddenly, you had two wings of the Republican party supporting two different Conservative candidates. The Republican, Dede Scozzafava, garnered support from the NRA, Newt Gingrich, and (for a while) Head of the GOP, Michael Steele.

Meanwhile, the wackier, tea-baggier side of the party, including Sarah Palin, Fred Thompson, and Glenn Beck all threw their weight behind Hoffman. In fact, Hoffman even called Glenn Beck a "mentor" on his radio show!

Over the weekend, The Republican candidate pulled out of the race, and as an extra "fuck you" to the GOP, endorsed the Democratic candidate!

Who knows what will happen as a fallout of all of this, but let the Republicans pat themselves on their backs! They were able to hold onto a tiny district in New York that has gone Republican all the way back before the turn of the century!

Bravo boys!

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