30 November 2005

Tomorrow: Dolly Summons Shub-Niggurath, the Black Goat of the Forest with a Thousand Young; Hilarity Ensues

I've always loathed Bil "Don't Call Me Bill" Keane's craptacular "Family Circus" comic strip. It's trite, it's treacly, it's poorly drawn (even more so now that Jeff "Don't Call Me Jeffy" Keane has taken over the strip) and so on and so forth. How many fucking times can the whole punchline be some half-retarded kid mispronouncing "spaghetti and meatballs?" In the "Family Circus," it's twice a month.

So when I stumbled upon this parody, which masterfully combines sentimental schmaltz with Things That Should Not Be -- via Defamer, via Boing Boing -- I knew I had to share it with you, dear readers. Somehow, I never pictured Jeffy as a member of the Chorazos Cult. He always struck me as more of an Azathoth acolyte -- he's the Seething Nuclear Chaos, you know. Enjoy!

29 November 2005

Deck the Halls with Blood and Entrails

Family Media Guide lists its ten most "ultra-violent" video games for 2005.

Now I know what games I should try to get Santa to bring me for Christmas!

Pray to God Jagger's Wardrobe Doesn't Malfunction

Rolling Stones to play the Super Bowl halftime show.

Yawn. The Stones haven't been viable as a creative act since, what, 1978? I love it when they put out a new record and the critics all line up to kiss their tired, wrinkled asses while simultaneously saying the band's previous record was rote and by-the-numbers. In other words, all the reviewers who say that A Bigger Bang is a great record now will say it sucked seven or eight years from now when the Stones release its follow-up.

28 November 2005

Suck On This, DeCurtis

Once on VH1's Four on the Floor, Anthony DeCurtis declared that as long as he had any kind of say in it, Black Sabbath would never be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I guess DeCurtis isn't as powerful as he once was -- the Sabs are getting inducted into the hall. I wonder if Ronnie James Dio, Vinnie Appice, Geoff Nichols, Ian Gillan, Bev Bevan and any of the other 48 musicians who have played in Sabbath get to join, or if it's just Iommi, Ozzy, Geezer and Bill?

Other acts to be inducted this year: the Sex Pistols, Blondie, Lynyrd Skynyrd and noted rock 'n' roller Miles Davis.

Don't pout, Anthony: Maybe Sylvester will get in next year.

27 November 2005

Black Friday, Gray Saturday

Visited the in-laws for Thanksgiving. Good food, good times. Christ in heaven, it gets cold up by the Great Lakes.

Jen's mom doesn't have cable (!!!) and the only stations that come in well on her TV are Chicago's ABC and UPN affiliates. I was fortunate enough to watch a few episodes of The Parkers, which I had always assumed to be a shitty sitcom that played into negative ethnic stereotypes. Now I know for a fact that The Parkers is a shitty sitcom that plays into negative ethnic stereotypes. Also, series star Mo'Nique looks like a tranny.

Anyway, the day after, we took a trip to IKEA. Man, I love me some IKEA. We were finally able to get that stupid wardrobe we desperately need, plus some other stuff. Only problem is that the wardrobe is too big to fit in our car, so we had to leave it at her dad's house. He'll drive it down in his F-350 in a week or so.

We listened to the audiobook version of Sylvia Nasar's A Beautiful Mind, which, surprise surprise, differs greatly from the movie. For starters, the book gets pretty heavy with all the technical jargon. Listening to Edward Hermann rattle off extended passages dealing with game theory and applied mathematics and the eggheads who dreamt it all up is edifying yet pretty challenging. I'm glad it wasn't night time or I might have dozed off. Still, I appreciate that the book doesn't assume you're a moron and dumb everything down. However, even though we got the abridged version, there are still three CDs to go.

George, Where Did It All Go Wrong?

A sad yet morbidly fascinating cautionary tale.

"I spent it all on booze, broads and fast cars. The rest I just squandered."

24 November 2005


Things for which I am thankful:
  • my wife
  • my family
  • our cats
  • my friends, peeps, homies, amigos, dawgs, niggaz, etc.
  • steady employment
  • living in Louisville
  • my health
  • books, CDs, DVDs, etc.
  • cable television
  • the internet
  • western civilization
  • my rights, privileges and freedoms as a U.S. citizen
  • food
  • water
  • oxygen (the gas, not the cable network)

23 November 2005

I Joaquin the Line, or: A Boy Named Leaf

Johnny Cash. The man, the myth, the legend. Gone, but not forgotten, especially now that the big budget biopic Walk the Line is in theaters, garnering critical praise and talk of Oscars for its stars, Joaquin “Don’t Call Me Leaf” Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon. Haven’t seen the movie, and I most likely won’t until after its DVD release. For all I know, it could very well be a great flick that I’ll enjoy watching.

But personally, I’ve never cared for Joaquin Phoenix; he’s the Jim Belushi to River’s John, and taking the role of a dead show biz personality, especially a recently dead show biz personality, is a fast and easy route to boosting your reputation as a "serious" actor, so long as you don’t completely fuck it up. Jamie Foxx, I’m looking at you and your Oscar.

This recent trend of Cash worship all strikes me as opportunism and cheap sentimentality disguised, badly, as love and admiration for Cash’s life and music. It happens all the time in the media. For lack of a better term, let’s call it “Hey, This Guy’s Gonna Die Soon So We Better Pretend We Always Thought He Was Cool to Boost Our Own Hipster Cred” syndrome. Well-meaning they may be, but the blatant phoniness behind all the posthumous love is more than a little repulsive. They’re afraid they won’t be able to ride the hip train unless they pay lip service to the recently deceased godfather du jour. And I’ll bet if you put a gun to the head of one of these “hardcore” Johnny Cash fans and asked them to name three of his songs – and “Walk the Line,” “Ring of Fire” and “Folsom Prison Blues” don’t count -- they would draw a total blank. And probably wet their pants, but that’s beside the point.

(Many of these Cash fanatics can’t even correctly name the tune that started the penultimate wave of sudden Cash love. Hey, King Cred: You’ll have to do better than “that one Nine Inch Nails song” if you want to impress the clerks at ear X-tacy. If you love the song so much, would it kill you to refer to it by name? I realize that “Hurt” is a lengthy, complex title, but make an effort, fucktard.)

And be honest: When you heard that Phoenix was playing Cash and Witherspoon was playing June Carter Cash, did anyone besides their respective agents think the casting was perfect?

It reminds me of when Johnny Carson announced his retirement, and all the big Hollywood stars that were just a little too cool to go on The Tonight Show during Carson’s decades as host suddenly crawled out of the woodwork to express their admiration for his show. What I really thought was bizarre was how critics, pundits and other assorted halfwits all joined in to talk about how magnificent Carson’s show was and how it was still funny and vibrant, when anybody who had bothered to watch an episode of The Tonight Show prior to Carson’s final two weeks on air could’ve told you that the show had, in fact, settled into a rut of tedious mediocrity. But I digress.

I’ll give Rick Rubin props – he was on the Cash love train a decade before things got all maudlin and phony. And I’ll give props to Cash himself; he never seemed to have an inflated sense of importance, even after all the nitwits started pretending they thought he was cool.

Listen to Cash’s music because you enjoy it, not because you’re biding time between your Ray Charles Greatest Hits CD and the next hip dead old singer.

Who Cares?

From a Marvel Comics press release...
Marvel is pleased to announce the unveiling of our very own podcasts! ... Podcasting at Marvel.com enables fans to be a proverbial fly on the wall as they listen to creators talk about all of the aspects of what goes into making a comic book. In the near future, there will be many more uses for this innovative technology that is gaining popularity every day on the web. In joining the podcast revolution, Marvel hopes to bring fans closer to their favorite creators, update fans on exciting upcoming projects, and release news that podcast listeners will literally be the first to hear! We thought the best project and special guest to unveil this new development at Marvel.com would be Damon Lindelof, and he was thrilled to be a part of it.
...and so on. I can't imagine anything less exciting than listening to a comics writer droning on about how he wrote a particular funnybook. Except maybe actually sitting down and reading said funnybook.

22 November 2005

All Mixed Up

The Cars to reunite?

Without Ric Ocasek?

With Todd Rundgren taking his place?

From the Boston Herald, via Can't Stop the Bleeding:
Boston legends The Cars are finally back together.

Sort of.

After months of speculation, it has been confirmed that the band is prepping for a tour next summer. But it won’t include Ric Ocasek, Cars founder, co-lead singer and main songwriter. His place will be taken by veteran rocker Todd Rundgren.

Only two genuine Cars, guitarist Elliot Easton and keyboardist Greg Hawkes, are involved in the reunion, which will be billed as the New Cars. (Original Cars singer/bassist Ben Orr died in 2000; drummer David Robinson has retired).

Rounding out the new lineup are two of Rundgren’s longtime collaborators: Singer/bassist Kasim Sulton and ex-Tubes drummer Prairie Prince.

Hey, I like Todd Rundgren and all, but this is just a dumb idea.

21 November 2005

Can't Stop the Insults

I'm not too big on pro sports. However, I am big on the internets and the blogs -- I hear they're the next big thing -- and while reading The Black Table recently, I found an entry by Will Leitch, the guy who edits Deadspin, the sports blog from the Gawker people. Leitch's entry was about his "online enemy," an unnamed blogger who belittles Leitch and his sports knowledge on a regular basis.

Curiosity got the best of me, so I Googled "Will Leitch Sucks" and lo and behold, the first reuslt points to the awesomely monikered blog Can't Stop the Bleeding. And sure enough, CStB actually has its own little subcategory of posts called "Will Leitch Sucks." The dude is dedicated, that's for sure -- he even posts pictures of Leitch from time to time.

But wait, it gets better. The guy behind CStB is none other than Gerard Cosloy: musician, journalist, record label president and all-around raconteur. I suppose it's possible that there could be more than one Gerard Cosloy on the face of the planet, but c'mon.

Now, is all this daily slagging a little petty and childish? Sure. I feel a little sorry for Leitch, actually, although his haircut does him no favors. But is it funny? Much more often than not.

I know neither of these guys. As a complete sports ignoramus, I don't know if Leitch is truly the buffoon that Cosloy makes him out to be or not, but now I regularly visit Can't Stop the Bleeding.

19 November 2005

Compositions for the Young and Old

Bob Mould played at Headliners last night. As noted earlier, I did a pre-show phoner with Mould for LEO; you can read the article here.

Top-notch show. Small but appreciative crowd. Mould played tunes from the entire catalog, going all the way back to the mighty Zen Arcade through his new album. He started the show playing a 12-string acoustic guitar but due to some loud chatter (did I say "appreciative crowd?") he swapped axes after "High Fidelity" and finished the set on his trusty blue Strat.

Set list:
Wishing Well
Hear Me Calling
Hoover Dam
See a Little Light
No Reservations
Hardly Getting Over It
High Fidelity
Lonely Afternoon
The Act We Act
I Apologize
Chartered Trips
Your Favorite Thing
Celebrated Summer
- - - - -
If I Can't Change Your Mind
Makes No Sense at All

15 November 2005

Reading About Exercising

Today I finished Heft on Wheels: A Field Guide to Doing a 180 by Mike Magnuson. I've read a few of Magnuson's articles in Bicycling, one of which described how he lost 80 lbs. This book seemed to be an expanded version of same, so on a whim I bought it, and indeed, the book describes how he quit smoking, quit drinking and got in shape. It also details a few of the centuries in which he participated. In several spots, he nails that peculiar blend of exhilaration and agony that comes from a nice strenuous, lengthy bike ride. It made me want to join a cycling club.

In other spots, his prose gets a little too self-conscious and "writerly" for my tastes, but he is an English professor -- at SIU, but still -- and those folks are, generally speaking, highly enamored with the sound of their own voices. Regardless, I liked the book.

One last peeve: Magnuson's a tenured English professor, and yet throughout the book, he uses till when he means 'til, as in, an abbreviation for the word until. Believe you me, there's a difference. You can say that while "till" is technically incorrect, it has become part of the common vernacular and is now considered acceptable usage... but I'll still say you're a fucking idiot.

Grammar lesson over. Read the book.

14 November 2005

Getting My Rocks Off

Calm down, perverts -- I stuck Aerosmith's Rocks disc in the car.

Rocks was released in 1976, which means Aerosmith were still drinking, drugging and, not incidentally, making great hard rock records. This album is a classic. "Back in the Saddle" proves that Steven Tyler might not be a technically brilliant singer, but he can shriek with the best of them -- check out those last few "riding HIIIIIGHs." Joe Perry's first solo composition "Combination" has always been a favorite of mine; when I was a kid, I didn't catch all the drug references, but that's why it's fun to revisit old favorites once you've put a few extra miles on your chassis.

But Brad Whitford is the MVP of this disc. His two contributions -- "Last Child" and "Nobody's Fault" -- showcase Aerosmith's accessibility and on "Nobody's Fault," their sense of menace.

Listening to Rocks demonstrates how far the band has fallen. Sobriety's a wonderful thing, I guess, but for Aerosmith, it came at the price of their musical balls. The gauche punchline is that the dreck they've churned out since 1987 has been their most commercially successful material, proving that the American record-buying public, generally speaking, has no taste, rewarding the group for turning into a grotesque parody of themselves.

12 November 2005

Physical Fitness and My Lack Thereof

It's the middle of November and the temperature this afternoon was 70 degrees, so I figured this might be my last chance to get a nice bike ride in before autumn gets here for good. It was so warm, I even wore shorts on my ride.

What I forgot was that it gets a little breezy this time of year, which increases wind resistance, which really harshes my vibe. Yeah, it's a more intense and therefore "better" ride, but no one likes to be reminded how weak and pathetic they are in such a brutal, uncompromising manner. I climbed some hills and stuff today, but all told, I suck.

What's even worse are all the serious cyclists, wearing their spandex bodysuits and aerodynamic helmets, riding on their $2,000 road bikes, zizzing past me like I was standing still. Fuckers.

Part of the problem is my bike itself: It's classified as a "hybrid recreational," which means it's part road bike, part mountain bike. The model I have is more of a leisure/utility bike. It's also a different color scheme than the one pictured. It's pretty heavy, at least as far as bikes go, whereas the high end road bikes are up to 10 pounds lighter than my ride. Don't get me wrong; I like my bike quite a bit, but if I ever want to wipe the smirks off the faces of the little Lance Armstrong-wannabes in Cherokee Park, I'll probably need more appropriate wheels.

(I also think bikes like mine should be called road bikes and road bikes should be called racing bikes, but that's a whole 'nother kettle of mahi-mahi.)

Of course, a much cheaper way to increase my speed would be to lose weight. Right now, I'm at 175 lbs., which according to most BMI charts is average for my height (six feet one inches of All-American Beef, thank you). But it wasn't too long ago when I was 160 lbs. and my hip bones were clearly delineated when I lay down. I've been living pretty high on the hog here in Louisville, eating out every weekend and having sophisticated adult beverages and it's taking it's toll. It all comes back to self-discipline. Sigh.

09 November 2005

Superior, It's Said, Never Gives Up Her Dead

Tomorrow marks the 30th anniversary of the day when the skies of November turned gloomy and the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank into Lake Superior. Even though it's a little corny in spots ("The big lake they call 'Gitche Gumee'"), I always liked Gordon Lightfoot's song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." Jen has both volumes of Lightfoot's greatest hits and once when we were visiting her mom in Hammond, we listened to Gord's Gold Volume 2, which has the song (in a rerecorded version). I'd never sat and listened to it from start to finish. Being stuck in a car on a six-hour drive is as good a place as any to do some serious listening, and I was struck by what an evocative tune it is. Knowing that it's based on an actual tragic event makes it all the more creepy. For me, dying via sinking ship seems like a really unpleasant way to go, even though I've read that drowning isn't painful at all.

This site has pretty much everything you'd ever want to know about the ship, the crew and their eventual fate.

07 November 2005

The Balcony Is Closed

Watched three movies this weekend.

House of 1,000 Corpses: My buddy Will extolls the virtues of this movie on a regular basis, so I figured WTF and picked it up. "Over the top" doesn't begin to describe it. Subtle it isn't, but kudos to auteur Rob Zombie for expertly evoking that bygone era of cheap, violent exploitation movies. With Sid Haig (left) in the cast, you can't go wrong. And hey, the sequel comes out on DVD tomorrow. What a coincidence.

Over the Edge: Troubled youth flick from 1978. Matt Dillon's first role. Fu Manchu wrote a song about it. It's in Cult Movies 3 by Danny Peary. Half the appeal for me was the nostalgia factor. Dated? You bet your life, but it's still an effective little film. Excellent use of then-current music, especially Cheap Trick, the Cars and Van Halen. I also found it quaint and oddly sweet in that all these bad-ass kids barely used any profanity. If they remade it today, every third word would be "fuck." It was a different time.

Crash: I'd heard mixed things about this one, but I liked it, even though it played like Short Cuts crossed with a mega-serious episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm in the way all the disparate elements magically and more than a little unrealistically all tied in together by the end of the movie. Matt Dillon (him again?) was strong. Also, I already knew Jennifer Esposito was easy on the eyes, but Bahar Soomekh? Damn. If only I could pronounce her name. Where the hell is she from, Canada?

04 November 2005

It's Tony's Fault If I Get Fat

Tony is attending a conference here and he's crashing with us. It's nice to see Big T again. Too bad Sarah (a.k.a. "Li'l Mama") couldn't tag along. We really miss those bitches.

Anyway, I haven't been to the gym since Sunday and we've been eating out -- and drinking out -- every night. I hate going to the health club but I'll really hate having to buy a whole new wardrobe if my waistline expands. Gotta have more self control, yo.

I keep thinking about an article I read in Bicycling. Some freelancer in New York City whose name I cannot recall rode his bike everywhere for 30 days. I'd love to try a similar experiment, but November probably isn't the best month to attempt that particular scenario. December and January are probably out, too.