Executive Decisions

Vanity Issue

Soundtracking My Harvard

Freshman Year

1. “Get Over It” by OK Go. An irrepressibly fun song. Somehow ended up seeing these guys live three times freshman year, once at the now defunct House of Blues in the Square.

2. “Push It Forward” by The Streets (in particular, “around here we say birds, not bitches). The first song I downloaded at college where I fell in love with the demo version without knowing it wasn’t the album cut, then listened to the final version and thought it was pants.

3. “The Scientist” by Coldplay. Can’t think of a defensive rant right now. This song’s perfect.

4. “Bandages” by Hot Hot Heat. Interviewed the band, saw them live on The Crimson’s token. Bonus points for “Brazil”-referencing video. Minus points for immediately becoming irrelevant two years later.

Sophomore Year

5. “Hey Ya” by Outkast. It’s all been said.

6. “Such Great Heights” by The Postal Service. Couldn’t figure out where that cool quote in Karen Taylor’s AIM profile came from until these pleasant little bleeps showered all over me and gave me something to calm down to before every premed midterm.

7. “Teenage Wristband” by Twilight Singers. Oh, this song is so pretty.

8. “I Luv the Valley (OH!)” by Xiu Xiu. Completely impenetrable for most of the people I’ve played it for (including the two Montrealites I met in Guatemala who dismissed it because of its lazy French), but anyone who’s really listened to this thing can attest to its emotionally bulldozing effect. Pain’s always been Xiu Xiu’s orgasm, and here is their finest release.

Junior Year

9. “Breathe” by Fabolous. Nothing like hearing about “money hungry bitches” in an MIT auditorium.

10. “Heartbeats” by The Knife. Didn’t actually hear this until this year, but I probably could have heard this in my fifth grade C + C Music Factory days and still fallen in love with it. Proof that our machines will not necessarily render us incapable of love.

11. “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)” by The Arcade Fire. This song, above all, will be the one I associate most with my strongest memories of college: the walk to C-32, surviving all-nighter problem sets, and of course, their incredible TT’s show.

12. “Since U Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson. Forever tied with my Artsies.

Senior Year

13. “Fake Palindromes” by Andrew Bird. This guy has only gotten better since he played at my high school’s local talent showcase.

14. “I’ll Believe in Anything” by Wolf Parade. Seems like the only song I’ve listened to for most of this semester.

—Ben B. Chung

13 Best Christopher Walken Roles

There are a few actors who have made me so intrigued in modern film. There are of course the stunning performances by the figures listed as the icons, like Pacino, De Niro, Redford, Hoffman, etc. But, for me, the defining performer of the last 30 years has been Christopher Walken.

1. “Sleepy Hollow” (1999)—The Hessian Horseman

The New York Times review noted the fright make-up is completely gratuitous. ‘Nuff said.

2. Fatboy Slim’s music video for “Weapon of Choice”—Unnamed

Showing Walken’s classically trained dancing moves, this Spike Jonze directed piece is spare and direct and amazing.

3. “True Romance” (1993)—Vincenzo Coccotti

The defining bad-ass.

4. “Annie Hall” (1977)—Duane Hall

He actually acts. Well. And is funny.

5. “Pulp Fiction” (1994)—Captain Koons

The watch is still there.

6. “King of New York” (1990)—Frank White

This is ambition. An inspiration to all the lil’ drug dealers coming up through the mean streets. Abel Ferra’s film is “Scarface” for natives.

7. “Batman Returns” (1992)—Max Shreck

Comic-book sleaze executed with complete conviction.

8. “The Deer Hunter” (1978)—Nikonar ‘Nick’ Chevotarevich

Russian Roulette.

9. “Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead” (1995)—The Man With The Plan

You don’t want to do this.

10. “A View to a Kill” (1985)— Max Zorin

Outshines Dolph Lundgren, Grace Jones and a very aging Roger Moore.

11. “Mousehunt” (1997)— Caeser, the Exterminator


12. “Catch Me If You Can” (2002)—Frank Abagnale, Sr.

Leo’s pa is the only affecting part of the movie.

13. “Gigli” (2003)—Det. Stanley Jacobellis


—Scoop A. Wasserstein

Top 5 Reasons to Take Time off From Your Band in 2005

5. The Creative Well Hath Run Dry.

The Symptoms: When you write your 200th song release, you recognize something familiar in it, and in fact, you realize it is your 1989 song re-rendered to different lyrics.

The (Wishful) Culprits in 2005: At least I wish the Dave Matthews Band would recognize that it just may be time for a break from touring if 8 of their last 9 album releases have been live recordings.

4. The Burnout Finally Hit.

The Symptoms: You find yourself hurling a non-functional telephone at a hotel concierge because all you want to do is make one flipping phone call home

The Culprits in 2005: We feel your pain, Russell Crowe. The world may never know if 30 Odd Foot of Grunts could have been destined for Grammy glory. Naw.

3. The Fake Musician Has Regained his Popularity and Can Get Back to His Roots.

The Symptoms: After a string of forgettable movies and playing that dreamy guy on “My So Called Life,” your acting career—and knack at cracking into the paparazzi eye with rumored romances with toothpick actresses (Lindsay Lohan and Scarlett Johansson, anyone?)—have finally begun to pick up.

The Culprits: This is to you, Jared Leto, without whom 30 to Seconds to Mars might have had a fighting chance, or just been a lightning fast-trip to outer space.

2. The Popstar Has Gotten Too Big for Her Britches.

Symptoms: You marry an unemployed man and believe you should share your “luck” in love with the world via a telecast of amateur videotapes and a reality show. Plus, you literally grow too big for your britches because you’re pregnant.

The Culprits: I miss the smutty single Britney.

1. The Pursuit of College Girls— and Intellectualism.

The Symptoms: After multiplatinum albums and Grammy nominations, you realize hook-ups with groupies just aren’t as fulfilling anymore. So you re-enroll at Harvard, apparently a bastion for the young, the restless, and the rejuvenating.

The Culprits: Here’s looking at you, Rivers.

—Vinita M. Alexander

The Five Hottest Revolutionary War Nonfiction Books

1. “His Excellency: George Washington,” by Joseph J. Ellis. (Knopf, 2004.) The least phallic monument to the Father of Our Country (though Ellis does wax poetically on GW’s sterility).

2. “Thomas Jefferson: Author of America,” by Christopher Hitchens. (Eminent Lives, 2005). Anti-Jeffersonians were just playa hatas.

3. “Alexander Hamilton,” by Ron Chernow. (Penguin Books, 2004). Hamilton paid off his paramour’s husband so the fling could go on. And when faced with charges of adultery, he ‘fessed up without haggling over the meaning of the word ‘is.’ Perhaps the most dapper man to ever hold the position of Treasury secretary—at least until Larry Summers.

4. “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life,” by Walter Isaacson. (Simon & Schuster, 2003.) He invented the lightning rod, the bifocal, the Franklin stove, the fire department, and the safety school (Penn).

5. “1776,” by David McCullough. (Simon & Schuster, 2005). Not nearly as salacious as the musical by the same name.

—Daniel J. Hemel

Can You Handle the Truth? A Few Great Lines From “A Few Good Men”

I know what you’re thinking. Well, at least I know a few things you might be thinking, and they pretty much go along these lines: Isn’t incessantly quoting movies slightly annoying and kind of old? Did you just get lazy writing your list and turn desperately to in the throes of despair? Are you, Marianne F. Kaletzky ’08, really random, slightly weird, and completely underqualified to be on the Crimson? Why on earth should I read a list about some stupid movie I don’t really care about?

The answers, respectively, are maybe, no, definitely, and because it’s awesome. My roommates and I happen to be addicted to this movie, and after reading this list, you might be too. Because—let’s face it—“you can’t handle the truth” is only the beginning.

1. “Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns.[…]You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall.”

Deep down in places I don’t talk about at parties, I think Jack Nicholson is ridiculously cool. Actually, I do talk about it at parties.

2. “There is nothing on this earth sexier, and I mean this, than a woman you have to salute in the morning.[…]Course, my problem is, I’m a colonel, so I guess I’ll just have to keep taking cold showers until one of you gals is elected president.”

Score one for feminism.

3. “I have two books at my bedside, Lieutenant: the Marine Corps Code of Conduct and the King James Bible. The only proper authorities I am aware of are my commanding officer, Colonel Nathan R. Jessep, and the Lord our God.”

Pretty much says it right there.

—Marianne F. Kaletzky

Top Artistic Gifts to Give

Please everyone on your Chrismukkwanzaa list this year by getting them one of the best artsy gifts of 2005. Someone has a December birthday too…

1. Mother: “Gilmore Girls-The Complete Fifth Season” DVD. Bond with mom over one of few sitcoms that is both consistently sweet and witty. I swear, it’s good, just give in.

2. Roommate with guy troubles and/or your own ex-boyfriend: “Are Men Necessary?” by Maureen Dowd. No explanation necessary. And no, the brilliant New York Times columnist says, they’re not. Awesome.

3. Gay friend you’re shamelessly hitting on: Tickets to “The Odd Couple” on Broadway. Neil Simon’s writing, Joe Mantello’s direction (“Wicked”), and the star power of Matthew Broderick and gay icon Nathan Lane make this sure to be a fantastic show. And with ticket prices of $100, your generosity will either sway your crush into switching sides, or just provide a profoundly ironic line on your credit card statement.

4. Brother: X-Box 360 Perfect Dark Zero. According to my fourteen year-old and twenty year-old sources alike, this game is “totally sweet.” Better graphics and a good balance between shooting, stealth and puzzle solving. Shrug.

For the slightly more mature sibling: “No Direction Home: The Soundtrack (The Bootleg Series Vol. 7)” by Bob Dylan, is essential listening for Dylanistas, a profoundly interesting music history lesson, and just a generally damn good album.

5. Best female friend and/or developing love interest: “Blahnik by Boman: Shoes, Photographs, Conversation” by Eric Boman. 224 pages of Manolo Blahnik shoe pornography will drive your favorite girl wild. The photography is also phenomenally creative—Boman nestles a pale green mule among ferns as homage to Blahnik’s recurring botanical themes. If you really love her or really want action, pair the artful book with “Sex and the City-The Complete Series” DVD set, in which the sublime stilettos play an important supporting role.

—Kristina M. Moore

Top 10 Least Likely Hip-Hop Instrumentals

Countless groups in rap history have borrowed melodic snippets from James Brown and George Clinton’s Parliament. Egregious offenders have been known to rhyme over other artists’ songs practically in their entirety (Vanilla Ice and Puff Daddy, I’m looking in your direction here).

But when used carefully, one of hip-hop’s greatest strengths is its ability to assimilate a mind-boggling diverse variety of source material. The next time you hear someone complain about how all rap “sounds the same,” have them check out one of these tracks:

10. Listen to those smooth Motown trumpets and funky beat on jazz-hop jesters De La Soul’s classic “Eye Know.” Smokey Robinson? Nope, that’s actually bleached-white classic rock group Steely Dan (the track is “Peg”), who are also namechecked on Chicago rapper Common’s song “I Am Music.”

9. In a notorious example of this phenomenon, A Tribe Called Quest’s debut single “Can I Kick It?” takes Lou Reed’s “Take a Walk on the Wild Side,” relatively unadorned, as its beat. Unsurprisingly, the lines about “colored girls” singing didn’t make the transition, but the laid-back bass line survives amid Afrocentric lyrical nuggets.

8. Old-school pioneers and Native Tongues Posse founders Afrika Bambaataa turn the shiny Teutonic synthesizer lines from Kraftwerk’s “Trans-Europe Express” into the electro funk-rap beauty of “Planet Rock.”

7. It may come as a surprise that the Wu-Tang Clan were classically inclined; in the beat for Ghostface Killah’s “Black Jesus,” the RZA samples a chorus from Wagner’s “Lohengrin.” If the German composer’s rabidly racist devotees (Hitler was one of many) had lived long enough to hear it, they would have surely soiled their lederhosen.

6. It may come as a surprise that Californian underground superstars Blackalicious also mined the work of dead white composers for inspiration; the group named one of the tracks on their first EP “Swan Lake.” Sure enough, the beat incorporates the melody of Tchaikovsky’s eponymous ballet.

5. Trick Daddy’s 2005 hit single with Atlantan rapper Cee-Lo “Sugar (Gimme Some)” is a reworking of an obscure Talking Heads B-side called “Sugar On My Tongue.” After all, both art rock and crunk end with a “k.”

4. Cee-Lo’s former group, Outkast posse members Goodie Mob, also dug deep, most notably on their lyrical treatise on black poverty “Sesame Street,” the titular children’s TV show theme providing über-ironic sample fodder.

3. Not only do old-school duo and fellow TV fans 3rd Bass sample dialogue from comedian Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd’s Saturday Night Live routine “Wild And Crazy Guys” on their song “Brooklyn-Queens,” but their peers in EPMD have a whole song called “The Steve Martin,” all about his funky dance in “The Jerk.” Talk about an unlikely hip-hop icon!

2. New York mainstream mainstay Cam’ron takes things to a whole new level of absurdity, sampling Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” (the whole backing synth line, not just the vocal) for his 2004 single “Girls,” and categorically failing to imbue Lauper’s kitschy girl-pop anthem with any street cred whatsoever.

1. In perhaps the most incongruous cultural convergence, both the Fugees’ breakthrough hit “Ready Or Not” AND Mario Winans’ recent single “I Don’t Wanna Know” sample Celtic new age diva Enya’s plaintive melody “Boadicea” (same beat, different key and drums). In the words of Jay-Z (who notably ripped orphan Annie for “Hard Knock Life”), “What more can I say?”

—Will B. Payne

The Top 5 Underrated Aspects of the “Star Wars” Sextilogy

Warning: this list is not meant to be an apologist rant for every crappy aspect of the movies. You won’t find any defense of the fact that there are only two black guys in the six films, for example. Now, without further ado:

5. Padmé and Anakin’s love scenes in “Revenge of the Sith.” Critics and fans tended to dig the last episode, but in order to maintain “street cred” by picking out one point to hate, haters felt the need to put down the love story!

Silly haters. Sure, only recent immigrants with a loose grasp of English would spout out gibberish like: “You’re so beautiful,” “It must be because I’m so in love,” “No! It’s because I’m so in love with you!”

The love story works on a primoridial, infantile level. All of Padmé and Anakin’s scenes read exactly like our childhood fantasies of what our parents’ early marriages must have been like. They don’t have sex, they’re overwhelmingly handsome, and they live in a beautiful, shimmering city.

4. Mark Hamill’s acting. It’s forced. It’s overwrought. There’s no Ford swagger. But dammit, I find that inspiring.

He’s so earnest, it hurts. He’s so simple-minded, so over-the-top, so easy to understand, so vulnerable, so whiny…really, he’s the last, best hope for nerdy, unhip intellectuals everywhere. He lacks anything resembling grit, and has to settle for over-achieving solemnity, instead. And he succeeds! And he doesn’t even need a girl! Which brings us to our third point…

3. The implied Luke/Leia incest. I guess that one only exists in the scene where she kisses him to piss off Han. And also in my head. But the revelation of their siblinghood, on the moon of Endor, is utterly stunning and oft-forgotten.

2. Wipes. Every one of the movies features old-school Hollywood “wipes” of the screen between several shots. No movies besides the prequels have had the balls to do something so wildly anachronistic in the past decade.

1. The prequel trilogy’s near-total reliance on computer-generated effects. Just stare at the crowd scenes. The space battles. The sky-traffic lanes on Coruscant. Never, ever, has there been a set of movies better at completely inventing a visual universe and sticking to it at all costs. It’s ridiculous. I usually cry, just because of how good the Jedi Temple looks.

—Abe J. Riesman