31 March 2005

The Tribe Has Spoken

Damn. A full week has gone by since last I fed the blog here.

For those who were concerned, I recovered from my illness and made it to work the next day.

Well, Steph is still in the running on Survivor, but it's down to her and Bobby Jon of the pathetic Ulong tribe. I really don't see how it would be possible for the two tribes not to merge next week, but I would love to see how Survivor's producers would handle it if they didn't merge, because Survivor contestants cannot vote for themselves, so if Steph and Bobby John (he's from Alabama, hence the double name) were to go to Tribal Council, they could only vote for each other and there would be a tie. Would they have Jeff Probst flip a coin?

I also watch The Amazing Race, which I think is the purest reality show in that it's purely a meritocracy: the best teams go on to the next leg of the race, while the team that arrives at the current destination last is eliminated from the show. The social aspects that make Survivor such a crapshoot really have no effect on the outcome.

Meanwhile, the University of Louisville Cardinals basketball team is heading to a big championship game this weekend. Here in America, where priorities are nothing if not completely backwards, the local media is pretty much shitting themselves covering every asinine angle they can dredge up. One angle that does interest me, however, is what happens if the Cards pull it off and win the NCAA championship? Will all the loyal fans here riot and smash shit up? If they do, will it extend to my neighborhood? I sure hope not. But let's face it: The average sports fan? Is a fucking beer-swilling, dimwitted lout. I mean, what better way to show support for your favorite team than by flipping over a few cars and setting fires? Woo-hoo!

Here's hoping that the Fighting Illini beat the Cards Saturday so I don't have to find out how "enthusiastic" the local fanbase is the hard way.

24 March 2005

Couch Potato

Lord, I love me some reality TV. Last night's Survivor was yet another heartbreaker. I'm rooting for the Ulong tribe, and they pretty much suck ass. They have yet to win an immunity challenge, which meant that after last night's Tribal Council (I feel so dorky typing that out), they were reduced to three members down from nine since the first episode. I always tend to pull for the underdog in any given situation, but I also have a TV crush on Ulong's Stephenie. I thought I'd hate her, but she's grown on me. I also thought she was unattractive -- her features are kind of manly, especially when her hair is pulled back, which it usually is on the show -- but now I think she's pretty cute. Must be the lack of clothing. Gamewise, she's very determined, reasonably low-key and she appears to be playing the game well. Let's hope she's not promptly voted out once the two tribes merge.

23 March 2005

She'll Bartend Your Party

Kings of Leon were at Headliners Monday night. We saw them at Phoenix Hill Tavern back in 2003 and they were pretty good, so what the hell? We went. I like the Kings but I don't love 'em. Their debut EP Holy Roller Novocaine was killer; the debut album Youth & Young Manhood was every song from the EP plus a bunch of songs I didn't care for and their latest, Aha Shake Heartbreak was also so-so. But free tickets is free tickets. Or so I thought.

Well, apparently, the Kings, or their tour manager, or somebody, thought that Louisville was on Central Standard Time, which it certainly is not. So the Kings were running at least an hour behind. It's rock 'n roll, which isn't necessarily punctual, but c'mon: They didn't take the stage until 10:50 p.m. They probably should've been wrapping up by then. And I know I'm showing my age, but it was a Monday night and I had to go to work the next day. Nevertheless, things eventually got off to a great start because they opened with "Molly's Chamber," my favorite song of theirs and also the song featured in a new Volkswagen commercial. They played well, especially bass player Jared Followill, who was rocking a beautiful Thunderbird. But since we'd been at the club since 8:30, and we're old, remember, we only made it through eight or nine songs before we split.

Sorry, guys. I'll catch you next go 'round.

21 March 2005

Don't Monkey With My Business

Here's a review I wrote for a painstakingly straight news organization. Accordingly, I couldn't use the excessive profanity that seems to exemplify my writing style. However, I've inserted a few comments in red that I judiciously left out of the "official" version.

Back in their '80s heyday, Duran Duran was seen as something of a joke: An MTV-concocted bunch of pretty boys posing and preening through video after video with no real musical substance behind them.

How times change. In the present day -- the era of Ashlee Simpson -- Duran Duran now seem positively venerable. After all, they wrote their own material, played their own instruments and were able to perform live without cheat tracks. Although the group never actually disbanded, Duran Duran was reduced to a core of two original members -- singer Simon LeBon and keyboardist Nick Rhodes -- after the other three left at various points. Guitarist Andy Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor (no relation) were the first to split; bass player John Taylor (again, no relation) left a decade later. As with most bands, the original line-up was the best. As with most bands that break up, a reunion seemed inevitable, and it finally happened for the Durans last year. A new album (Astronaut , Epic Records) was recorded and the newly reconstituted band hit the road.

The tour made a stop in Louisville Sunday night, and judging the reaction of the sold-out Palace Theatre, the reunion is an unqualified success. Drawing heavily upon their hit-littered past without neglecting their new material, the Durans played a tight two-hour set that kept the crowd on its feet for the duration. However, due to a family illness, Andy Taylor had to fly home to England, so one Dominic Brown handled guitar duties. The show must go on.

The big '80s hits ("Hungry Like the Wolf," "A View to a Kill," "The Reflex") got the biggest responses, but many people new the lyrics to newer tunes like "Want You More" and the risqué "Bedroom Toys." In fact, they opened the show with "(Reach Out for the) Sunrise," as if to say, "We're not just a nostalgia act, folks."

Overall, the band looked good, although middle age has thickened the waistlines, and none of the members appear to have had any obvious plastic surgery. (It's gotta be said: LeBon kinda resembled William Shatner -- sorry, girls.) John Taylor was wearing a skirt, while the rest of the band was more conservatively attired. LeBon seemed to get winded a few times during "Hungry Like the Wolf," and his vocals were mixed conspicuously low, but midway through the set, everything evened out. Taylors John and Roger provided the muscle, proving that a good rhythm section is a good rhythm section, no matter the musical genre.

Giant video screens were used to good effect, featuring close-ups of the band, graphics and even short films, the highlight of which was an anime-style cartoon featuring the Durans gruesomely battling ninjas and giant monsters during "Careless Memories," culminating in LeBon's animated doppelganger destroying a building labeled "Endangered Music Industry" -- a swipe at the band's former record label, EMI. Another highlight was the near snuff film that served as the backdrop for "A View to a Kill," portions of which were downright disturbing. Who knew the Duran boys were such perverts? One wonders what the former teenyboppers made of all the bondage and mutilation on the big screens -- something to think about in the minivan on the way back home to St. Matthews.

The encores of "Girls on Film" and "Rio" ended things on a suitably high note. Duran Duran put on an impressive show, demonstrating how bands with 20-year careers can mix the old with the new.

(Reach Out For The) Sunrise
Hungry Like the Wolf
Planet Earth
Want You More
Union of the Snake
What Happens Tomorrow
Come Undone
I Don't Want Your Love
A View to a Kill
The Chauffeur
Ordinary World
Save a Prayer
Bedroom Toys
The Reflex
Careless Memories
Wild Boys
Girls on Film

Addendum: Me, I was pleasantly surprised by how good Duran Duran was last night. Good show, lads! I was pretty indifferent to them the first time around, although they always had hot chicks in their videos (whatever happened to the actress in the "Rio" video?), but every woman I ever dated, including the lucky one I eventually married, loved Duran Duran, so having their greatest hits in the CD collection was a no-brainer.

19 March 2005

New Day Rising

One of the defining moments of my callow youth was when I decided, on a whim, to purchase Hüsker Dü's then-new LP Flip Your Wig. This would've been in 1985, when I was a junior at Bosse High School. I had always fancied myself something of a music aficionado, but by entering the uncharted waters of underground rock and independent record labels, I took my tastes to a new level. Previously I had spent much of my parents's hard-earned monies primarily on heavy metal and progressive rock albums, but some new wave had crept into the mix and I had also started reading Rolling Stone magazine, whose record reviews were a tad more sophisticated than the ones found in Circus and Hit Parader. In other words, I was ready.

In retrospect, it was highly fortuitous that Hüsker Dü were the gateway to this musical epiphany, because 1) they were so fucking good and 2) they were highly prolific, so there was lots of stuff in the back catalog for me to discover, which I did, most eagerly. When pressed, I'd say that the mighty Zen Arcade is my favorite album by the band, but there will always be a soft spot in my pitch black heart for Flip Your Wig.

Which brings me to Bob Mould, Hüsker Dü's guitarist and vocalist. After the band broke up in 1988, Mould's career was the one I followed most closely (no offense to drummer Grant Hart, who was just as important to the Hüsker sound as Mould... and is also gay) (I guess I should also mention that Greg Norton played bass). Bob's output since then has been up and down. His first solo album, Workbook, was a phenomenal creative triumph; its follow-up, Black Sheets of Rain, was kind of a dud. C'est la vie. However, Mould's worst album is more often than not 100 times better than most other performer's finest work.

Around the time Mould was launching his new band Sugar -- this would've been 1991, 1992 -- he was outed by Faith No More keyboard player Roddy Bottum in an interview in The Advocate. Now, I wasn't a regular reader of that magazine, being heterosexual and all, but MTV News ran a little segment on Bottum's quote and obviously, I had to see it for myself. I ran down to the short-lived Readmore book store in the Ross Center and bought that issue and, sure enough, there it was. Bob Mould was gay -- I mean, if it was in print, it had to be true, right?

Now, I grew up in Evansville, Indiana, a conservative small town. Loathe as I am to admit it, that atmosphere and my upbringing shaped many of my attitudes. To wit: My buddies and I regularly called each other "homo," "queer" and of course, "faggot" much more frequently than we ever addressed each other with our Christian names. Amusing, because I didn't even really know what a faggot was until I was in high school. Personally, I had nothing against "the gays," but I certainly didn't understand them and I was certain I had never met any.

But lo and behold: Here's Bob Mould, this talented songwriter, this monster guitarist, this paragon of indie cred, and he's a homo. It really opened my eyes. I'd never met him, of course, but I felt that I knew him. I certainly looked up to him. I mean, I didn't start donating money to GLAAD or anything, but my attitudes toward homosexuals became more enlightened. So when I read about the discriminatory amendments to state constitutions that the willfully ignorant majority of Americans are voting into law, I always remember my own youthful ignorance and wonder what would happen if, say, a NASCAR driver or a pro football player or some other "manly man" were to come out of the closet. Maybe some of these hillbilly halfwits would change their minds.


How did this celebration of my first punk rock record purchase turn into a rambling discourse on tolerance and all that shit? I'm so gay!

17 March 2005

Erin Go Bragh

It's St. Patrick's Day. You know what that means: Stay the fuck away from all the "Irish" bars in town. The asshole alert will be at RED.

I use quotation marks around Irish because there are a few watering holes here in Louisville that might as well bill themselves as "Canadian," "Hungarian" or "Japanese" for all their Irish authenticity. Around here, if you've got Guinness, Harp, Smithwick's and Bass on tap -- or any combination thereof -- you can call your establishment an "Irish pub."

Having said that, I do enjoy the Irish Rover and Molly Malone's, although Molly's lost serious cred points from me when they stopped carrying Woodpecker and replaced it with Hard Core last summer. For non-cider drinkers, that'd be replacing Harp with Killian's Irish Red -- it's close, but no cigar.

Anyway, the reason I like these two pubs? Because they've got authentic Irishmen (and Irishwomen) on staff. It's the little things.

16 March 2005


Interpol played at the Brown Theatre tonight. Good stage presence, tight playing, overall a really great show, although Paul Banks's voice seemed a little raw -- and he isn't exactly the world's finest vocalist to start with. Carlos D. looks like he takes himself way too seriously, but I couldn't take my eyes off of him the whole set. He's a rock star, plain and simple. Sam Fogarino? Short.

Q and Not U opened, and the contrast was hilarious. Interpol had to have picked them to open this leg of the tour to make them look better: After seeing the three schlubs in QaNU, dressed in whatever came into the Goodwill that afternoon, their beer guts hanging over their trousers, greasy hair flopping about as they did the absolute worst dancing ever, it was hard stifling the giggles. Putting it differently, QaNU looked as if they all had body odor. If their material had been awesome, they would have transcended the handicaps listed above, but their all-too-mediocre art-noise was tedious and uninspired.

But hey, I got in free because I wrote a preview of the show, so I shouldn't complain... although that's never stopped me before.

15 March 2005


Death May Be Your Santa Claus comes from a song on Mott the Hoople's album Brain Capers (1971). Quoth Stephen Thomas Erlewine on the All-Music Guide: All these changes are evident from the moment Brain Capers kicks in with the monumental "Death May Be Your Santa Claus," a phenomenally pile-driving number that just seems inevitable.

What he said. Amusingly enough, the phrase "Death May Be Your Santa Claus" appears nowhere in the song's lyrics.

Death May Be Your Santa Claus is also a movie, accordingto the Internet Movie Database, but I have not seen it.

14 March 2005

Death May Be Your Santa Claus

I just like the way it sounds.