31 December 2006
18 December 2006
I used to bore my Evansville Saturday lunch cronies with countless tirades about how Hanna-Barbera ruined TV cartoons. Out of respect for the dead -- and out of respect for his truly awesome "Tom & Jerry" shorts for MGM -- I'll refrain from besmirching him just yet.
The strip's fans say that those who dislike Mallard's antics hate the strip's politics, and while that certainly plays a role in my own personal irritation with it, my main gripe is that IT JUST ISN'T FUNNY. Needless to say, Tinsley's arrest was the first time he ever made me laugh.
In fact, the funniest Mallard Fillmore was a parody strip done for America: The Book:
That is, until now. This strip ran a couple of days after Tinsley was arrested:
Man, you can just taste the frothy irony mixed with deep, rich schadenfreude. Cheers, Bruce!
14 December 2006
This op-ed piece from The Guardian sums it all up nicely.
12 December 2006
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A judge rejected a request by two fraternity brothers to block the DVD release of the hit spoof movie Borat.
...The South Carolina fraternity brothers sued Nov. 9, claiming they were tricked into making racist and sexist remarks to British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen in Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.
...The fraternity brothers claim the filmmakers got them drunk before getting them to sign release forms agreeing to appear in the film. Their names do not appear in the lawsuit. The film “made plaintiffs the objects of ridicule, humiliation, mental anguish, and emotional and physical distress,” the lawsuit claims.
05 December 2006
But I always thought the yellow ballet slippers he wore looked a little, well... faggy.
Well, it looks like Marvel did a redesign, and while the yellow split-toe combat boots are an improvement, they're not much of one.
Go team comics!
22 November 2006
The lawsuit came down in late September. I just found out about it a week ago when I visited the Comics Journal web site. Ellison’s suit alleges that Fantagraphics defamed him in the upcoming book Comics As Art: We Told You So and that they violated a California “rights of fair trade” law by, in a nutshell, printing Ellison’s name on the cover of The Comics Journal Library 6: The Writers without using the little ® symbol (Ellison has trademarked his name), and that they committed libel by referring to Ellison as a "famous comics dilettante" on the cover of same (see for yourself).
Where to begin?
I like Harlan Ellison’s writing quite a bit. The school library at good old Dexter Elementary had a paperback copy of Ellison’s I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, which I read for the first time when I was in the sixth grade. I didn’t understand some of the material, but I kept at it through the years -- Bosse had several Ellison titles in its library, and the Evansville public library system had even more – and eventually I caught up. Ellison is a science fiction writer whose output consists of primarily short stories and critical essays. Often times, the introductions he pens for his story collections are more entertaining than the stories themselves. Personally, I think the stuff he produced in the ‘60s and ‘70s is his most rewarding and that arguably the quality and most assuredly the quantity of Ellison stories has tapered off since then.
Ellison is also (in)famous for his strongly held beliefs and opinions, and his willingness to share them. He is also known for kicking ass (figuratively and literally) and taking names, and he is known for more than a few feuds with any number of folks who have deservedly or not incurred his wrath. Throughout much of his career, Ellison gives lectures and speeches, and although I have never attended one myself, they are legendary for their sheer entertainment value, but also because Ellison is only too happy to rehash stories of conflicts he’s had with various writers, fans, ex-wives, actors, movie studios, whathaveyou. Consequently, over the course of his career, he has developed a reputation for being a cantankerous fellow who does not shy away from a fight when he believes he has been wronged. This makes him a highly divisive figure in the inbred SF community. Many people love Ellison unconditionally; many people loathe him.
I also like Fantagraphics quite a bit. As comics publishers, they are unequalled, as they have given the world such titles as Hate, Eightball, Love & Rockets and The Acme Novelty Library. More significantly, and more germane to this whole kerfuffle, is that Fantagraphics also publishes The Comics Journal, which is the only serious source for comics industry news and information. The Journal, not unlike Ellison, takes an uncompromising stance: when they like something, they will praise it accordingly, and when they dislike something, which has been known to happen from time to time, they will not hesitate to excoriate it.
In other words, Ellison and Fantagraphics (which, accurately or not, has become synonymous with Gary Groth and vice versa) are peas in a pod, whether or not they care to admit it.
Problem is, Ellison and Fantagraphics kind of sort of have a long history of mutual loathing and distrust after the Fleischer lawsuit. You can read about that whole debacle here, but in a nutshell: Ellison and Groth were at one time friends; Ellison gave an interview in the Journal wherein he called comics scribe Michael Fleischer “bugfuck” – in a complementary manner. Fleischer didn’t like it and sued. Fleischer lost, but in the years leading up to the suit, Groth, Thompson and the Journal appeared to goad Fleischer in print, which cause the defense lawyers several unwanted headaches, which led to the deterioration of Groth and Ellison’s friendship.
So the current suit. I am not a lawyer, but I have read a few court filings in my day, and most of them are written in wordy legalese (“Wherefore on the eighteenth day of April of the year 2004, claimant alleges the defendant did commit a blatant act of libel, thereby irrevocably harming plaintiff’s good standing et cetera.” Ellison’s complaint is far from dry. It’s downright breezy and amusing. In fact, it reads as if he himself wrote it and then had his lawyers sign off on it. Don’t know if this is standard or not, but I would let the attorneys draft my court documents just to err on the side of caution.
I understand you have to make your case, but I feel Ellison is just a little too glib and self-congratulatory in his introduction (“countless awards?” Like if you asked him he couldn’t tell you exactly how many Hugos he has won).
Elsewhere, Ellison practically libels Groth and Thompson in his complaint. He makes them sound like a gay couple that print comics as a front for some nefarious criminal enterprise – running drugs and funneling the profits to al Qaida, perhaps.
Now, whoever came up with the “famous comics dilettante” descriptor on the cover of The Writers had to have known that it would not go unnoticed. They were poking the bear, in other words, and now the bear is all riled up, baring his claws and fangs. Furthermore, every other writer listed on the cover of The Writers is credited with comics titles the wrote. As far as I know, Ellison was never the regular scripter on any comics series (That Dream Corridor thing doesn't count, as those were adaptations of already published stories), but would it have killed Groth to take the high road and just credit Ellison as "author" or something innocuous?
Regardless, Groth and Thompson have been much more circumspect about this lawsuit than they were during the Fleischer suit, but message boards all across the interwebs have been humming with speculation and analysis from anybody with internet connectivity. Obviously, The Journal’s message boards are pro-Fantagraphics. Elsewhere, some people are hoping that Ellison’s suit puts Fantagraphics out of business.
A guy named Kevin Greenlee – who says he actually is a real, live attorney, BTW -- weighed in on Heidi MacDonald's Beat blog, pointing out that while Ellison may very well have been pleased with the terms of his settlement with AOL, the fact that he did indeed settle and not go to court means that, in strictly legal terms, he really shouldn’t classify that suit’s outcome as a win.
Unsurprisingly, this sent Ellison into a rage, prompting him to respond by belittling Greenlee while completely, and perhaps deliberately, missing the point of Greenlee’s entirely lucid observations. Not wanting to miss any chance to suck Ellison’s cock (I speak figuratively here), fanboy-made-good Peter David chimed in with his own two cents, also completely missing the point in Greenlee’s observations in a nauseating display of sycophantic buffoonery. You can read the whole exchange here, but I’ll boil down the gist of David’s posts if you don’t have the time (or stomach) to read them in all their purple prolixity: “My close friend Harlan won that AOL suit, even though he settled it, because HE SAYS HE WON IT, so shut up! Love, PAD. PS: I am a close friend of Harlan Ellison.”
A more accurate way to describe Ellison’s AOL adventure would be to say he didn’t lose, which allows him to save face. Because no matter how loudly and/or frequently he proclaims that he won that suit, he did not.
Anecdote: Ray Bradbury spoke in Evansville eight or nine years ago. I attended, as did a friend of mine who ran into his English professor from college. They talked about SF and its place in serious literature. The professor was effusive in his praise for Bradbury. My friend asked about other SF writers. When he mentioned Ellison, the professor said, “Never heard of him.” I mention this because as much as I enjoy Ellison’s work, he does seem to think he’s more famous and renowned than he actually is. Sure, all the sci-fi nerds and comic book geeks know who Harlan is, as do some TV folk, but a household name he isn’t. This is not to say that his suit is meritless, or to take away from his successes, but it points out the egos involved.
And Ellison is no spring chicken -- he's 72, and 10 years ago, he had a heart attack. I'm sure that all the stress and aggravation Fantagraphics caused him is nothing compared to the stress and aggravation litigation will cause, but it's his life. I've read quotes from Ellison in which he states that pursuing legal action is indeed costly and time-consuming, and his time could be better spent elsewhere, but there ya go.
(He's also currently suing Paramount over characters in a Star Trek tie-in novel. So it goes.)
My own humble opinion is that this Ellison/Groth pissing match has gone on long enough, and to varying degrees, all camps have demonstrated that they are, or at least have been, assholes.
19 November 2006
Verdict: I loved it. On paper, it sounded like, well, a seven-minute segment on a cable TV comedy show stretched to 90 minutes. Usually, this is a recipe for disaster (see: any movie built around any SNL recuriing character from the past 20 years). (Yes, this includes Wayne's World.) But, I'm a fan of Da Ali G Show and since every entertainment information outlet seemed hellbent on spoiling every last bit in the movie, and also with the rash of lawsuits and complaining in the press that some of the movie's unwitting participants are involved with, I figured I'd better check it out before media saturation totally ruined it for me.
Borat was that rarity: a comedy that made me laugh. I recommend. If the DVD has enough extras and deleted scenes, I'll probably buy it.
Ominous anecdote: We were originally going to catch an early Sunday matinee at the Baxter. When we arrived, we saw three fire trucks in front of the theater. There was a fire and the Baxter was closed for the day. An omen? I bravely, heroically decided to catch an evening matinee at Stonybrook, which did not have any fires that day. Success.
10 November 2006
(Disclosure: I freelance for LEO, the paper that Yarmuth founded. I even met the guy once or twice. He doesn’t remember me.)
Whether Yarmuth’s election will bring a Golden Age to Kentucky’s Third District or not remains to be seen.
06 November 2006
AFTER 13 YEARS TOGETHER, THE STRING CHEESE INCIDENT ANNOUNCES AN END.
The String Cheese Incident posted an announcement on their website on Friday, November 3, 2006. The post reads:
After summer 2007, Billy Nershi is leaving The String Cheese Incident to pursue other musical projects. There will be only a limited number of Incidents between now and then. Current plans include Thanksgiving in Atlanta, a New Years Eve blowout in San Francisco, Winter Carnival in Colorado, and a return to Red Rocks. Presently, there are no plans for The String Cheese Incident beyond summer of 2007.
The band would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to our friends and fans for all your support.
As you may recall, I don't like jam bands very much, so this news means nothing to me.
02 November 2006
Here in Louisville, Republican Third District Rep. Anne Northup, who has been in office since 1917 (approximately), is facing her strongest opponent in ages in Democrat John Yarmuth -- or is that John Yarmuth! -- the guy who founded and used to own LEO. Sadly, I don't think Yarmuth is going to pull off an upset, because while Anne is generally useless, she's really good at winning elections.
Also, while this is Louisville, Louisville is still in Kentucky, so us local godless pinko faggot commie liberal Democrats should never be surprised that there are always plenty of willfully, proudly ignorant hillbillies around here who will gleefully vote against their own best interests so long as a candidate espouses vague platitudes about standing for family values, defending marriage, etc.
26 October 2006
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Black Sabbath boys are back, as the new band Heaven and Hell. Guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler, drummer Bill Ward and singer Ronnie James Dio—former members of British metal supergroup Black Sabbath—are forming the band named after their 1980 hit, according to their publicist. They plan to launch an international tour next year.
“The fans have been wanting to see this for years and years. Now was just the time,” publicist Maureen O’Connor said Wednesday.
Original Sabbath vocalist Ozzy Osbourne said in a statement that he wished Iommi and Dio well, and he made it clear there was still only one Black Sabbath.
“Tony Iommi and Ronnie Dio are working on a project together which has nothing to do with Black Sabbath. There is only one Black Sabbath,” Osbourne said in the statement released by publicist Lathum Nelson.
“Ozzy, Tony, Geezer and Bill will be touring late next year along with a new Black Sabbath album,” Nelson said. “However, Ozzy wishes Tony and Ronnie much success in their project together.”
Since its formation in 1969, Black Sabbath has undergone numerous member changes and reunions.
Dio, who replaced Osbourne as part of the band’s early ‘80s lineup, has been recording new songs with Iommi in England, O’Connor said.
14 October 2006
This is not news in the strictest sense of the word because it was announced October 6, but I think the situation merits an editorial in the inimitable DMBYSC manner you know and love.
So, Tower is closing its stores. For many years, Tower has been a destination store for music nerds like me. I've visited Tower stores in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington DC, New Orleans, Dallas and, most frequently, Nashville. Yes, I've led a rich and full life. "Liberty Bell? Fuck that shit, let's go to Tower and check out the imports."
Jen and I were in Nashville Oct. 6-8 visiting Tony and Sarah. We were driving around when we saw some fool wearing a sandwich board that read, "Tower Records/Store Closing/Up to 30% Off All Merchandise," along with some miniscule fine print. So off we went to check out the store and see if there were any great deals to be had. There weren't, because practically everything, including CDs, was a mere 10% off. I ended up buying a Madness comp because a) I'd seen that Maxwell House commercial that uses "Our House" and I had the song stuck in my head and b) it was stickered at $9.99, which was incredibly cheap for Tower, and with 10% off, I got it for under $10 (just barely, but still).
And that's what killed Tower, I think. I'm so used to seeing new CDs priced in the $8.99-$13.99 range that whenever I dropped into a Tower store over the last few years there was always a moment of sticker shock when I'd see all the new CDs "on sale" for $15.99 or whatever. I'm all for supporting independent music stores and the like, but I'm also all for supporting myself, so if I can find something cheaper at Target, Best Buy or online, I'll buy it there. It's a no-brainer.
Many of the articles and obituaries that have flooded the interwebs since the big announcement have focused on the sales clerks and their deep musical knowledge, painting pictures of helpful Tower employees roaming the store, striking up conversations with shoppers, making recommendations and turning them on to artists they might not have otherwise discovered, which never happened to me -- all the Towers I visited were populated with snotty hipster douchebag assholes straight out of central casting who would sulk behind the counter as if chained there, dressed in their too-tight "vintage" t-shirts purchased pre-distressed at Urban Outfitters, just so painfully mortified that they had to mingle with people who might actually listen to something other than Deerhoof or Panic! At The Disco or whoever Pitchfork told them was hip that month. Consequently, I mainly bought magazines and toys -- yes, toys -- from Tower and I bought my music online (or I got review copies straight from the publicist, hee hee).
But still. I feel depressed that Tower has bitten the dust. This is an instance where the phrase "the end of an era" genuinely applies.
13 October 2006
Mastodon Blood Mountain: Awesome music, retarded lyrics about abominable snowmen, dragons and tree people. Plus, it’s a concept album. Thankfully, the lyrics are mostly unintelligible, but it’s hard to take a band seriously when they geek out so hard. Review should run in LEO soon.
Pinebender Working Nine to Wolf: These guys sound like Low, if Low played metal. Dense slabs of rock that crawl along at a pace best described as glacial. I love it. I have no idea what the title means.
Planes Mistaken for Stars Mercy: Their name makes them sound like emo douchebags, but they aren’t. Kinda metal, kinda hardcore, but not metalcore. Hard to describe, but I’m gonna try (in LEO, so I can get paid).
I seem to have been pigeonholed as "the metal guy." There are a lot worse things to be pegged as, but naturally I consider myself to be a multifaceted jewel and shit; I can appreciate (or dismiss with authority) music of all kinds.
02 October 2006
Kiss guitarist turned down by Supreme Court
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Ex-Kiss guitarist Vinnie Vincent lost a Supreme Court appeal Monday in a dispute over royalties with his former bandmates.
Justices declined to consider lower court rulings dismissing Vincent's claim that he is owed royalties for his contributions to the heavy metal band's 1983 album Lick It Up.
Vincent, whose real name is Vincent Cusano, played with Kiss from 1982 to 1984, co-writing "I Love it Loud," "Lick it Up" and other songs.
The case is Cusano v. Klein, 05-1492.
(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
"Klein" would be Gene Klein (nee Chaim Witz), a.k.a. Gene Simmons, FYI.
From what I've read on the interwebs -- which are, of course, the most trustworthy and accurate source of information anywhere, ever -- Vinnie Vincent is a real pain in the ass. He also should have read his contract with Kiss a little more closely. Simmons would sooner cut off his own dick than enter a business deal that doesn't favor Simmons.
29 September 2006
The ethnic experiment is quickly over on Survivor as race-based tribes are eliminatedJesus H. Christ. If any of these entertainment "journalists" had ever bothered to watch more than a token (no pun) episode of Survivor, they would have known that four tribes of five members will be merged into two tribes of eight three episodes into the season. It's basic math -- the contest couldn't sustain itself otherwise (or, more accurately, one or more teams would be so comically overmatched that it would be unfair).
By DAVID BAUDER / AP Television Writer
NEW YORK (AP) -- All the hubbub about the Survivor ethnic experiment turned out to be pretty worthless. Why? Because after only two episodes, producers merged the black, white, Asian and Latino tribes into two mixed-race gangs on the CBS reality show Thursday night. No explanation was given for the quick abandonment of segregation; it seemed to pass by so quickly as to mean nothing.
So the show didn't "abandon" the tribes-divided-by-ethnicity concept due to negative publicity, as rocket scientist/brain surgeon David Bauder seems to be implying; they "abandoned" it because they were always going to abandon it.
Frankly, I never understood all the hubbub the concept generated, other than the predictable hand-wringing from uptight namby-pamby East Coast media douche bags. It's not as if the contestants were kidnapped at gunpoint and forced to participate. Also, one of teh main criticisms of Survivor -- and reality shows in general -- is that the players all tend to be lily white. Well, now they've got a show where Caucasians aren't the majority, and all they do is bitch.
26 September 2006
We noticed several older ladies -- like, 70 and up -- at the venue and wondered what the hell was going on, as the senior set is not known for frequenting weeknight shows in smoky rock clubs, but it turned out that one of the ladies was the singer's grandmother. Even a cold, unfeeling robot like me found that tidbit to be almost impossibly adorable.
In other family news, the girl running the merch booth was a cousin and she cut me a deal on all three of the French Kicks discs. Thanks, girlie!
The opening band, the Little Ones, were not nearly as atrocious as I feared they might be -- honestly, I kinda liked them, especially their keyboard sound -- but with their name and their fusion of indie rock with '60s pop, they run the risk of regular ass kickings.
On the way home, we saw an 18-wheeler parked on the shoulder with its cab fully engulfed in flames. It made a striking post-apocalyptic image, but regrettably, I did not have a camera with me to record the inferno for posterity.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush says it is naive and a mistake to think that the war with Iraq has worsened terrorism, as a national intelligence estimate concluded.Seriously, what is Bush's fucking problem? He's either 1) a lying scumbag or 2) completely delusional.
Actually, he's probably 3) both.
20 September 2006
Even though it's a tradition as old as the proverbial hills, I have never been a fan of comic book creators making cameos, or worse yet, extended appearances, in their books. It's a self-absorbed, cutesy-poo move which only serves to interrupt the story and demean the medium.
Plus, more often than not, the creators tend to glamorize themselves up way too much. Anybody remember the lean, trim physique and thick, luxuriant (and clean) head of hair John Byrne always gave himself when he threw together one of his "wacky" Fantastic Four covers? Apparently, there were no mirrors in the Byrne household during his run on FF.
My "favorite" example comes from an old Iron Fist story wherein Danny Rand happens upon a softball game in Central Park and Chris Claremont invites him to play. "Hey man, I'm Chris," Claremont smarms. The issue would have been the Best Comic Ever if only Rand had activated the power of the Iron Fist and punched Claremont in his shaggy face. Batter up, mother fucker.
Anyhoo, no comics pro was ever more fascinated with himself than Stan "The Man" Lee, and Marvel is releasing an entire series of comics wherein Stan bumps into various characters from the Marvel Universe.
From the press release:
In the second of a series of specials celebrating Stan Lee’s 65th year of working at Marvel, “The Man” gets to meet the Master of the Mystic Arts: Dr. Strange. In Stan Lee Meets Dr. Strange, Lee pens a tale with art by Alan Davis where Stan journeys to Greenwich Village to catch up with his old pal Dr. Strange... Filled with more high-profile creators than you can shake a Wand of Watoomb at, Stan Lee Meets Dr. Strange is fun-filled celebratory romp through the Marvel Universe for fans of Marvel, both yesterday and today.Maybe Stan can explain to Dr. Strange, not to mention the Hoary Hosts of Hoggath, why a guy who makes a million bucks a year wears such lousy hairpieces?
14 September 2006
Rock Star: Supernova wrapped up last night. Lukas the humunculus won. Unsurprising, seeing how Tommy Lee and especially Dave Navarro practically fellated this singing haircut every episode.
Lukas's ascention is also unsurprising, seeing how Gilby Clarke criticized Dilana’s lyric-writing skills as “literal and unimaginative” while praising Lukas. Here’s the chorus from Lukas’s cretinous original tune, “Head Spin” -- “I don’t know why you make my head spin/Why, why?/No one’s perfect.” Yeah, Gilby, Lukas is a regular Bob Dylan.
If you can’t tell, I’m disappointed by the outcome. Of the final four contestants -- Lukas, Dilana, Magni and Toby – the only one I actively loathed was Lukas. I realize that musical tastes are completely subjective, and what sounds good to one pair of ears sounds bad to another pair, but Lukas is a special kind of no-talent, a wee little poseur whose “originality” came entirely from the sale rack at Hot Topic.
And his singing? Nigger, please. As Jason Newsted regularly pointed out during the season’s run, Lukas’s vocals were always strangulated and forced, and not in a good way. Lukas can pull off a passable Thom Yorke imitation – like when he sang “Creep” 80 times on the show -- but when left to his own devices, he bellows like a walrus, thinking he’s conveying emotion when he's merely conveying increased volume. Plus, he suffers from Alanis Morrissette Syndrome, wherein a singer adds extra vowels to words, puts emphasis on wrong syllables and otherwise tries to be “quirky” and “original” but just comes off as mannered and trite.
My theory is that Tommy Lee figured he’d get more pussy on the road if he had a guy that was uglier than him singing for the band. Welcome aboard, Lukas.
Of course, what did Lukas really win? The original material Supernova trotted out during the show’s run was uniformly bland and forgettable (in that regard, Lukas is a perfect fit), so if he’s expecting fat royalty checks from Supernova’s multiplatinum album sales, he’s going to be very disappointed when the record drops. And also, it’s highly unlikely that Lee is going to give up his day job in Motley Crue for Supernova. Ditto for Jason Newsted with Voivod. Ditto Gilby with… whatever the hell it is he was doing before this show came on the air. Which means that Lukas's future doesn’t lie with Supernova.
Best of all, Lukas will forever be known as somebody who won a job on a reality show, which means any claims he ever might have had for artistic cred are over, and legitimate musicians will avoid him like the plague once this Supernova business is finished.
Except they won’t be called Supernova:
Court rules that television’s ‘Rock Star’ band can’t use the name Supernova
By SANDY COHEN / AP Entertainment Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The band from the reality TV show “Rock Star: Supernova” cannot call itself Supernova when it takes its act on the road, a judge has ruled. A Southern California rock band that has called itself Supernova since 1991 and recorded three albums under the name sued CBS, the show’s participants and Mark Burnett Productions in June claiming unfair competition and trademark infringement.
08 September 2006
Another thing that interests me about the Eagles is that I hate them.
Something that interests me about Chuck “Voice of His Generation” Klosterman is that I hate him.
As befitting any celebrity of Chuck's meager stature, a backlash is already well underway -- has been for a year or two, in fact -- and should hit maximum velocity once the reviews for Klosterman's latest book* start trickling in, but here at Death May Be Your Santa Claus, the Klosterman animosity has been festering for a good long while. Because, fucking hell, I hate Chuck Klosterman.
I've never met the guy, of course, but I still hate him, because Klosterman embodies a school of writing that permeates what passes for journalism these days, wherein every article, story and sidebar is nothing more than a glorified diary entry in which the author, instead of describing the ostensible subject, writes about how the ostensible subject relates to the author and how the author personally reacted to the subject and, if the reader is lucky, what the author had for lunch that afternoon. Frequently, if the subject is a famous person, the writer will try to make the reader believe that during the course of writing his piece, the writer and his subject became close buds because the writer is just that cool. And if the subject is female, the writer will try to make the reader believe that he was this close to fucking said female subject because the writer is just that much of a stud.
In other words, nearly every article written by writers of this ilk is not about Ostensible Subject; it is about The Writer Writing About Ostensible Subject. This is also known as taking the easy way out, or phoning it in, or half-assing it, because it takes more skill, preparation and integrity to do the job correctly.
In all fairness, Klosterchuck isn't the only guy making a living with this schtick. Other notable "writers" who are more gifted at self-promotion than they are with, you know, writing, include smug assclowns like Joel Stein and A.J. Jacobs, but thankfully, no one is characterizing Stein or Jacobs as the voice of their generation (so far). Unlike Big Chuck.
It's a certainty that Chuck (and Stein, and Jacobs, and Chuck's colleague at Esquire, Scott Raab) had some English instructor somewhere tell them, "Write what you know." The problem with this platitude is that it used to be understood that the writer would then go out and learn a few things (i.e., get some actual real world life experience) so that he would then have interesting things about which to write.
This is why Klosterman and his ilk fill up innumerable lines of copy describing episodes of Saved by the Bell and/or their painfully vanilla sex lives -- when the totality of your life experiences can be summed up with "watching TV" and "going to college," the well runs dry pretty quickly. Yet these cretins have built lucrative careers chronicling their pampered, sheltered upbringings and the consequent gigantic sense of entitlement they instilled in them. God bless America.
Now, I'm not down on Klosterchuck because of his success... although, actually, I am, because in all sincerity, damn near anybody (and by "anybody," I mean "me") could do what Chuck does, but somehow, he and/or his agent has convinced quite a few folks that Chuck's bullshit observations are weighty and significant. Except if I was cashing a hefty book advance, I'd keep the self-aggrandizing digressions and general navel-gazing to a minimum and put some real fucking content into my writing, but then, my work ethic is a little sturdier than Klosterman's. Jealous? You bet your ass I am.
(Having said that, I do have to admire the fucker for managing to sucker major media concerns into paying him to crank out the dreck that he cranks out. Stick it to the man!)
Also, I'm not hating on the Big K merely because he frequently writes in the first person (I'm writing this on a fucking blog, for Pete's sake). I'm down on Chuck because when you parse any of his four -- yeah, FOUR -- memoirs, or his column in Esquire, or if you catch him speaking in his nasally, whiny voice in Metal: A Headbanger's Journey, it doesn't take very long at all before you realize Klosterman rarely, if ever, has anything meaningful or insightful, or even witty, to say. Don't believe me? Read this excerpt.
(Note to Chuck: The reason she didn't love you wasn't because you're not John Cusack; she didn't love you because, well, you're Chuck Klosterman.)
Furthermore, I'm down on Chuck because when he drops his Chronicler of Our Times/Voice of a Generation act and writes a straightforward article and can manage to not wander off into his trademark brand of tedious self-examination, he's actually pretty good. A few years ago, he wrote a story about classic rock cruises in Spin ("Ship of Dreams") that was downright touching in spots. "Irony Maidens" was another nice piece, as was this Q&A, in which he managed to make the Bravery -- or at least, their singer -- seem like decent human beings.
But those days appear to be a tiny speck in the rear-view mirror of Klosterman's career trajectory. A recent example of Chuck's vapidity is the essay he cranked out for the Criterion release of Dazed and Confused, which reads as if it was written 20 minutes before it was due while Klosterfuck was sitting on the toilet.
There are many drinking games one can play while watching Dazed and Confused: Take a swig when someone says "man," take a shot each time Wiley Wiggins touches his nose, etc. Here's a literary drinking game: Read Chuck's essay in the DVD booklet and swallow a mouthful of your favorite alcoholic beverage whenever Chuck refers to himself in the first person. If you live to see the next day, you have the constitution of a Merchant Marine, because while the subject of Chuck's essay is supposed to be Dazed and Confused, it's actually all about Chuck and how it took him a year to see the movie and how he's always stoned when he watches it and how Chuck interviewed Richard Linklater once and they talked about how cool Chuck is and blah blah blah. In other words, shut up, Klosterman.
When you read a critical assessment of a CD, movie, book, if the writer has done his or her job, at the end of the review, you will say to yourself, "I should listen to that CD" or "I should see that movie" (if it's a positive write-up). When one reads Chuck Klosterman, one doesn't think, "I really ought to see this movie." One thinks: "Gee, I sure would like to hit that fucking douche bag Chuck Klosterman in the head with a crowbar."
*Klosterman's new book is called Chuck Klosterman IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas. The title by itself is offensive because 1) ironically or not, Klosterman is comparing his ouevre to that of Led Zeppelin, which would be analogous to and nonsensical as, say, Creed comparing themselves to Martin Scorsese, and 2) because Chuck Klosterman has never had an idea in his life, let alone any dangerous ones.
04 September 2006
This is probelamtic for a Rock Snob such as myself because Zep's albums were meant to be listened to as such -- they're one of the few bands whose albums were albums and not two or three great songs with seven or eight tracks of filler spread out over an LP.
Since I got the Mac and since it came with iTunes installed, I knew I could rip all the tracks and then listen to the albums in their intended sequence again. And since I have no life, I decided to start that process this afternoon. I'll probably burn two albums to one CD for economy's sake, but this project was long overdue.
24 August 2006
From January '98:
Metallica - Reload
The "alternafication" of Metallica, part 2. Reload is a continuation of last year's Load; this album consists of newly finished basic tracks that were recorded for the previous album. Load created a big stink among Metallica's fearsomely devoted fan base because, besides the fact that James Hetfield and crew explored new musical avenues, ALL FOUR MEMBERS GOT SHORT HAIRCUTS -- heresy! Whatever tonsorial flourishes the Metalliboys feature, it's the music that matters, and while Load was hardly a radical departure, it did mark the first true shift from the trademarked brand of Metallica power thrash. So nobody should be surprised that, cover art and all, Reload is more of the same.
Reload commences with "Fuel," a burly rocker that features cool harmony vocals and a riff that swaggers not unlike vintage Aerosmith. "Bad Seed" opens with a guitar line that sounds like an Alice In Chains outtake. "Low Man's Lyric" has a hurdy-gurdy solo. First single "The Memory Remains" contains a creepy deathbed guest vocal from Rolling Stones hanger-on Marianne Faithfull, and "Devil's Dance" sounds like "Son of Sad But True." And speaking of unwarranted sequels, Reload also has "The Unforgiven II," an extension of one of Metallica's lamer songs. Which is not to say that Reload isn't any good. Besides the weak spots, the album displays Metallica's newfound fascination with intriguing melodic ideas ("Where The Wild Things Are," "The Memory Remains"), and there's still plenty of crunchy, ultra-hetero guitar tomfoolery to satisfy those fans who didn't abandon the band after Load ("Attitude," "Slither").
Tampering with a proven formula is a risky proposition, but for artists to grow, boundaries must be redefined and envelopes pushed. I suppose that Metallica's "new direction" is admirable, but I kind of miss the seven-minute slabs of testosterone that they were grinding out in the '80s. "Master Of Puppets," "Creeping Death" and their ilk are awesome songs. Too bad Metallica have apparently ditched their Eurometal roots in favor of this likable but lukewarm new style. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
From January '99:
Metallica - Garage Inc.
Considering that Metallica's last album, 1997's Reload, was basically a bunch of songs that weren't good enough to make it onto 1995's Load, is it any surprise that the band has gone back to their long-haired roots and recorded a fresh batch of obscure and semi-obscure metal and punk cover tunes? Is this merely a respite between "real" albums, or a creative dead end? Six of one, half-dozen of the other.
Whatever the reasons behind Garage Inc., the band knows its riffology and respects its humble origins -- back when Megadeth founder Dave Mustaine was Metallica's lead guitarist, they were practically a Diamond Head tribute band. This being Metallica, Garage Inc. is a two-disc set encompassing nearly every cover song the band has committed to tape during its 16-year history. The first disc is the new old stuff (Garage Days Re-Re-Revisited?), and it contains a surprising range of sources. From Thin Lizzy ("Whiskey in the Jar") to Blue Öyster Cult ("Astronomy") to, er, Skynyrd ("Tuesday's Gone"), the band acknowledges a fondness, if not a debt, to classic rock stylings.
But those influences and tendencies, though not exactly overt, were never really in question. It's the other selections that elevate Garage Inc. from a mere housecleaning stopgap to an interesting insight into the brains of the Metallicats. For example, who would've thunk that James Hetfield dug Nick Cave? Not me, but Hetfield and crew slide into Cave's "Loverman" as if they were raised on a creative diet of Delta blues and Henry Miller instead of uncelebrated Eurometal bands and H.P. Lovecraft. And the band's straight reading of Bob Seger's AOR staple "Turn the Page" adds touches of, gulp, pathos and reality to Metallica's generally perceived "Kill 'Em All" road warrior persona.
The band also pays tribute to more obvious forefathers, like the supreme masters of metal Black Sabbath, covering "Sabra Cadabra" with a few bars of "A National Acrobat" thrown in for fun, as well as Danish ghoulies Mercyful Fate, who are honored with an 11-minute medley. And apparently you can't get Metallica into a recording studio without them playing Misfits and Diamond Head songs, and both "Die, Die My Darling" and "It's Electric" get the treatment here. Ironic how Glenn Danzig and the Diamond boys have seen more royalty action from Metallica's covers of their material than from the original versions, innit?
Attention K-Mart shoppers: the second disc contains all of the out-of-print The $5.98 EP--Garage Days Re-Revisited, various b-sides and one-offs like their thunderous stomp through Queen's "Stone Cold Crazy," and the cover that started it all, "Am I Evil," a track originally done by (who else?) Diamond Head. Now all you Metallica completists can plug almost all the holes in your thrash collections.
Still, after all the hoopla surrounding the band's image makeover and exploration of new (to them) musical paths, one wonders why the sudden retreat back to familiar territory? Will the next Metallica album be return to metal? Obviously, Garage Inc won't be winning over many new converts to their fanbase, but it is cool that a band with Metallica's commercial heft has so lavishly recorded, packaged and hyped tracks by acts that otherwise would be long forgotten. It makes you want to scour the bins at the Book Broker for some old Budgie records. Almost.
11 August 2006
Here's a photo of the well-traveled cephalopod:
08 August 2006
Also, the Rolling Stones are playing at Churchill Downs next month. I'll go -- if I stumble ass-backwards into some tickets, that is.
04 August 2006
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Arthur Lee, the founder of the '60s band Love, has died of leukemia. He was 61.
Lee was diagnosed with leukemia this year. He got a bone marrow transplant using stem cells from an umbilical cord last May, but never left the hospital after that.
A damn shame is what this is. I remember when I stumbled across the band via a typically well-done article in Mojo magazine. I bought the Love Story collection, then Da Capo. Later, when I was at the magazine, Rhino released a deluxe version of Forever Changes and I got a promo of that.
I never dug too deeply into the post-Bryan McLean era of the band, because Forever Changes really is one of the all-time awesome records, even if it does contain the lyric "Oh, the snot has caked against my pants."
30 July 2006
Today is my birthday. Tony and Sarah came to visit, we went out to dinner with Will and Michelle, Helton showed up and in what must have been an age-induced moment of stupidity, I ordered sushi rolls when I thought I was ordering nigiri. Plate after plate kept coming from the sushi bar. I'm sure I looked a fool. I ate as much as I could and brought about two pounds of leftovers home. The cats were delighted.
But the night was not over. We played pool for a while then we went home and burned stuff in the fire pit. Then a few more people showed up and we were up until 4 a.m., drinking, eating cake and burning stuff.
Tonight: Strangers With Candy -- IN A MOVIE THEATER. Wish me luck.
28 July 2006
MADRID, Spain (AP) -- Floyd Landis said the high testosterone that showed up in a drug screening at the Tour de France is the result of his natural metabolism -- not doping of any kind -- and he will undergo more tests to prove it.I shudder to think what those tests that will prove Landis is a veritable testosterone factory may involve, but I'll hold off until the second test is completed, because as somebody mentioned over on Can't Stop the Bleeding, since Landis has a certain advantage when compared to Lance Armstrong in that department.
21 July 2006
I knew I was playing with fire when I took on this assignment, and sure enough, once the issue hit the streets, the comments started trickling in. I expected to offend aficionados of all three genres, but apparently your average fan of AAA radio and/or pop metal has either a) a sense of humor or b) better things to do than type hysterical e-mails and send them to LEO.
You must be sorry misearble men to have such a hateful distorted view on musicians. Here you are trying to publish the "2006 Music Issue", which should be recognizing and appreciating musicians not trashing them.
Its one thing to have an opinion about certain genres and artists, but to place such stereotypical judgement on people is ignorance in its finest form. I believe intelligent arguments are made using wit and knowledge not profanity and pompous vocabulary.
T.E., its pretty dispicable that you say you can't name certain Hip Hop albums because "your children need their father", well I quite frankly feel sorry for your children. If my father was firing off GD, Asshole, and the F-bomb in public articles, and referring to people as nitwits and telling them they have shitty taste in music, I would be pretty ashamed to be your daughter. What a great role model you must be.
So...what white horse did you two ride in on? What is it that you guys do or know so well, because obviously it's not writing or music. Most people I know that are masters of their craft have an implicit respect for it, and don't abuse it to be crude and unkind to fellow artists. But I shouldn't refer to you two as even in the same class as "artists," because you have not created anything but HATE.
I noticed that your editor said he hoped that this article would "create some laughs." Well, I hate to tell you, but it wasn't very funny. I don't see the humor in tearing people down just to make yourself feel better. You must be pretty insecure in yourselves.
To all the editors and publishers that let this article go to print, you should be ashamed to claim it as LEO material. Don't forget that many kids and teenagers read your paper every week.
And not to mention that your paper is owned by a politician running for State Congress. Boy...he must be so proud.
(All spelling errors included in original e-mail, naturally.)
Short answer: Dig the sand out of your vagina, Val, you’ll be a lot happier.
Long answer: If you’re going to criticize an article or book or whatever, make sure you spell everything correctly. Trust me, I learned that lesson the hard way.
Also, get your facts straight: LEO is not owned by a politician running for Congressman; LEO’s former owner is a politician running for Congress. There is a difference.
Furthermore, Valerie blames the other writer for using profanity, when as faithful readers of this blog should know, the potty mouth was all me, baby.
At least once a year, some unsuspecting asshole with his or her panties in a knot sends me an e-mail wondering “what gives me the right” to be critical of the music about which I write.
Two things give me that right: The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, and the fact that LEO (among other outlets) hires me to, well, write what I think about music, be it CDs that I like or horrible crappy musical styles that I don’t. It’s that simple, and if somebody doesn’t like what I have to say, then they are more than welcome to submit samples to the local papers and see if they land an assignment.
Barring that, they can start a blog about all the mean music critics who think the Grateful Dead and their ilk both suck and blow.
God bless America!
13 July 2006
SURVIVOR ANNOUNCES NEW SINGER; BAND CURRENTLY WORKING ON NEW STUDIO ALBUM SET FOR RELEASE IN 2007I'll bet you thought the same thing I did when I read those words: "Fucking Survivor is still together?!?"
July 13, 2006 -- Hot off the presses…former McAuley Schenker Group (MSG) frontman Robin McAuley has replaced Jim Jamison as the new lead vocalist for Survivor.
I'm man enough to admit that I love me some classic rock -- and not in a smarmy, ironic, above-it-all Chuck Klosterman way -- but Survivor was and always will be a crappy band.
The punchline is that at a Local H show in 2005, I was chatting with/sucking up to Scott Lucas and Jen actually mentioned the fact that I wrote the article and it was never printed and Lucas said, "That was you? That was the best interview I've ever done." Whether this is still true is up for debate, and whether he was blowing smoke up my ass is also up for debate. But I felt somewhat vindicated.
Still, the fact that an interview was conducted and an article was written about the band and it was never actually appeared in print is kind of typical for Local H. They are, hands fucking down, the best live rock band in America and they deserve to be as successful as Fall Out Boy or whoever the kids like these days.
Read it and weep.
- - - - -
Local H was a two-man band when two-man bands weren’t cool. They weren’t the first self-contained power duo – bands like Flat Duo Jets, House of Freaks and the Chickasaw Mudd Puppies blazed this particular trail – but now that the White Stripes are being hailed for their "innovative" line-up, the H deserves props for carrying the mantle.
Best-known for their minor 1996 hit “Bound for the Floor,” Local H has maintained a highly consistent level of quality in all their subsequent releases, and their brand-new album, Whatever Happened to P.J. Soles?, is possibly their best ever. The album is named for actress P.J. Soles, who worked steadily from 1975-85, appearing in many cult classics.
“She’s just someone who would always pop up in movies when I was growing up and I always thought she was cool. I must’ve seen Halloween a million times and Rock ‘n’ Roll High School at least half that. She was in Carrie, she had a great scene in Stripes,” enthuses Local H singer/guitarist Scott Lucas. (Drummer Brian St. Clair is the rest of the band.)
P.J. Soles is not a concept album per se, but it does have a theme running through it.
“There’s some stuff on the record that’s kind of about the whole VH1 “Where Are They Now?” type of crap that you just see everywhere,” Lucas says. “It’s just this attitude of what have these people done lately, and it’s being asked by a bunch of people who never seem to have done anything themselves. You’ll see these people on TV making these snide remarks… Who the fuck are these people, where do they come from, and what contribution have they made? It’s ridiculous.”
All this talk of wistful ruminations on icons from yesteryear might lead the uninitiated to believe that P.J. Soles is an introspective record, and indeed, the title cut and “Dick Jones” are both tearjerkers, but Local H always brings the rock. Tracks like “Everyone Alive,” “Heaven on the Way Down” and “How’s the Weather Down There?” hit like a semi truck full of all the songs that Cheap Trick and Nirvana never got around to writing.
And then there’s “Buffalo Trace,” the album’s majestic centerpiece. Clocking in at a manly 10:14, this Zeppelin-esque behemoth was inspired by Lucas’s love of premium Kentucky bourbon, and it name checks the Bluegrass Parkway, Heaven Hill Distilleries and our own fair city – thanks for the shout-out, Scott!
“I wanted it to be big and sprawling, sort of like a western epic. I read this article about whiskey tours in Kentucky, so I just thought it would be kind of funny to write a Neil Young song about taking a whiskey tour, with cowboys on the Bluegrass Parkway -- drink until we get our fill. I thought it was pretty funny,” he says. Funnier still: Lucas is a Maker’s Mark man, but the name “Buffalo Trace” worked best for this theme from an imaginary western -- “Old Grand-Dad” or “Elijah Craig Single Barrel” just don’t have the appropriate ring
“That’s just what me and a bunch of my friends drink,” Lucas says of his tipple of choice. “A friend of mine owns a bar, and [Maker’s is] all we drink.”
As always, Local H is touring behind the album, but unfortunately, it looks as if the closest they’ll get to Louisville is Covington, where they’ll play at Radio Down on May 13. They’ll never get a Maker’s Mark endorsement if they don’t come closer.
11 July 2006
From the Associated Press:
LONDON (AP) -- Syd Barrett, the troubled genius who co-founded Pink Floyd but spent his last years in reclusive anonymity, has died, a spokeswoman for the band said Tuesday. He was 60.What a bummer. Pink Floyd was an almost entirely different animal under Syd's stewardship than it was when Roger Waters assumed control after Syd's breakdown. Floyd circa '67 were a psychedelic pop band with a dark edge, and even before he became rock's premiere acid casualty, Syd's songs had an unsettling undercurrent.
The spokeswoman—who declined to give her name until the band made an official announcement—confirmed media reports that he had died. She said Barrett died several days ago, but she did not disclose the cause of death.
I had wanted to name our cat Fletcher "Lucifer Sam" after a song from The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, but my wife wouldn't let me. She thought it would be bad voodoo since Fletcher is a black cat.
And "Interstellar Overdrive" is the best rock instrumental ever.
06 July 2006
But anyhoo, on Rock Star, the goal is to win the singer slot in a nascent supergroup which consists of Gilby Clarke, Jason Newsted and Tommy Lee. The three stooges here have a hard rock/metal background, which means that the contestants should probably try and sing as much hard rock and metal as they can, and sing it well. Furthermore, image is a consideration, so the contestants need to look halfway comfortable on stage and perhaps most crucially, they need to look as if they actually belong on stage with Guns 'n' Motleytallica, er, I mean, "SUPERNOVA."
So naturally, in each and every contestant's introductory segment, they all glared and glowered at the camera, or else they stared soulfully into the middle distance, or they strode purposefully down dingy alleyways. Most of 'em did all three. You know, to exude street cred. They also all mentioned how rock they were. If you made a drinking game and took a swig of an alcoholic beverage each time one of the hopefuls said the word "rock" or any of its little friends (i.e., "rocked," "rockin'," "rocker"), you would die of alcohol poisoning before the second commercial break.
Fact: If you have to constantly tell people how rock 'n' roll you, or your outlook, or your attitude, or your way of life is? You ain't a rock star. You're a douche bag.
So the format goes something like this: Each singer picks a song, performs it with the house band (named "House Band") and then Supernova, plus producer Butch Walker (nice guy, but most of the stuff he works on is pop fluff) and host Dave Navarro (and seriously: these other guys are all sell-outs to some degree, but they have nothing on Uberwhore Navarro) offer criticism.
Keep in mind, this is supposedly a hard rock band. So does anybody bust out some Black Sabbath? Does anybody play a Motorhead track? AC/DC? Soundgarden? Pantera? Does anybody attempt a note-perfect Judas Priest cover, which would easily prove that you have vocal chops and a passing familiarity with metal? Negatory, good buddy.
The first singer, a lady named Storm Large (!!), did a decent version of "Pinball Wizard" while eye-fucking the camera every time it was pointed at her, which leads me to think she spends more time perfecting her come-hither looks than her vocal scales, but, well, heh heh, she is kind of hot, so I'll let her slide.
After that, a little sissy bitch named Ryan Star (not to be confused with the Ryan Starr who was on American Idol and then The Surreal Life) sang "Iris" by the Goo Goo Dolls, which kind of set the tone for the male contestants. Badass Ryan also spends a lot of time with a scowl on his face, as if he's just so ready to beat the living shit out of somebody, anybody -- but remember: he sang a fucking Goo Goo Dolls song. Dude, if you perform anything by them, you might as well tattoo the word "pussy" on your forehead.
Speaking of foreheads, there's an ugly little homunculus named Lukas something-or-other who bellowed a gruesomely affected Billy Idol song ("Rebel Yell?" I forget). Naturally, Navarro loved it.
Some unfortunate no-talent -- who would later, without the slightest hint of irony, refer to himself as one of the best singers in the world -- did a radically reworked version of noted hard rock staple "Roxanne" by the Police and thoroughly fucked it up. To his credit, Gilby told him it sucked.
A Pueto Rican goth chick sang that Evanescence song that everybody's sick of and made a hash of it, but since she too is kinda hot, Supernova graciously overlooked her vocal shortcomings. Navarro tried to bond with her by habla-ing some espanol and he sounded like the whitest Latino ever, which, of course, he is. Shut it, Dave.
One semi bright spot was Danila (sp?), a woman from Texas via South Africa who did a highly mannered version of "Lithium." She sounds just like Tina Turner, of all people, and when she rocks out -- take a swig! -- rather than try to bump and grind like the other chicks, she runs around and stomps and twitches. This will probably become very tiring after a few episodes, but beggars can't be choosers.
After the show as over, America voted and three douche bags were put in the hot seat. Each picked another song and then the Supernova brain trust voted on who would get the axe. The guy they booted was some geek from Chicago whose redemption song was, ahem, "Planet Earth" by Duran Duran. I don't think he understood the nuances of the show.
I'll keep watching this train wreck for now, if only to smirk at what are certain to be many more ridiculous song choices, as well as to enjoy the Hot Topic-flavored pulchritude of some of the female contestants. And I think at least once, I will play that drinking game I just invented and see what happens.
From the C-J via Gawker:
The new Colonel is younger, better defined, a video-age celebrity chef. And he doesn't have to share his space with the letters KFC. He's meant to represent Kentucky Fried Chicken again. His new look is less like your grandfather and more like your cousin.
Anybody remember those animated spots they did with a "hipper" Col. Sanders, featuring the voice of Randy Quaid ("Go, Colonel, it's your birthday")? Didn't think so.
05 July 2006
HOUSTON (AP) -- Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay, who was convicted of helping perpetuate one of the most sprawling business frauds in U.S. history, has died of a heart attack in Colorado. He was 64.Call me a paranoid cynic, but when you're as connected as Ken Lay was, faking your own death, fleeing the country and then spending the rest of your life (and your ill-gotten gains) on a private island in the Caribbean isn't entirely out of the realm of possibility, no?
04 July 2006
A declarationIt's pretty gay to paste song lyrics in a blog entry, but it seemed appropriate today. I wish I'd bought more Comsat Angels records when I was in high school, because they're all out of print now.
Of the intention
To stop extension into my airspace
I'll put the flags up
Pull up the anchor
And then you'll know you're
in a different place
And I can't stand up and I can't sit down
'cause a great big problem stop me in my tracks
I can't relax 'cause I haven't done a thing
and I can't do a thing 'cause I can't relax
You've got your habits
I've got my customs
I'm sure you know it's got to be this way
And in the future
We'll celebrate on Independence Day
And I can't stand up and I can't sit down
'cause a great big problem stops me in my tracks
I can't relax 'cause I haven't done a thing
And I can't do a thing 'cause I can't relax
Hang out the flags ring in the new,
We should be dancing on the city streets
I know the tune, I know the words,
My mouth is open but I cannot speak
And I can't stand up and
I can't sit down
'cause a great big problem stops me in my tracks
I can't relax 'cause I haven't done a thing
And I can't do a thing 'cause I can't relax
Anyway, it was a pretty nice 4th of July. For one, it rained most of the day here, which meant all the white trash in my neighborhood were unable to set off fireworks all day long. It always amazes me that people with no apparent means of support always manage to scrape together enough cash for six solid hours' worth of fireworks every year. Prioroties.
I probably shouldn't complain: There was one household a couple streets over that used to begin shooting off fireworks on Memorial Day and wouldn't quit until Labor Day, but they've either moved or somebody lost a hand last year, because it stopped this year. God bless America.
16 June 2006
The punchline: Stan is a jazz aficionado, the absolute worst kind of pretentious, self-congratulatory music snob there is – this is coming from me, remember – and furthermore, Stan is a drummer. [Insert your own joke here.]
One weekend morning, Stan brought in a CD – jazz, of course – to play over the anchors’ IFB earbuds. The show is airing, they hit a commercial break, and Stan plays his disc. A minute or two goes by and the anchor says, “What is this shit? Turn it off.”
Stan was quite livid. For the next few days, he bitched that the anchor made him turn his CD off. “These are some of the finest players in the world, and she calls it shit,” he pouted and mumbled. “Finest players in the world … finest players … these are some of the finest players…”
Stan’s first mistake was trying to foist his tastes upon other people. His second mistake was bringing in whatever the fuck it was he brought in – some Ornette Coleman bootleg recorded in a graveyard in 1961, perhaps – and assuming that his grateful coworkers would lick it up: “Wow, Stan, this 27-minute free-form sax solo that’s going absolutely nowhere is the shit, dude! Burn me a copy!” That’s pretty damned conceited on Stan’s part, and I always admired that anchor for taking him down a peg that day.
I get a lot of advance CDs. This is a perk of being a freelance music critic. I have most of these materials sent to me at work. Today I received a promo of Young Widows upcoming debut album Settle Down City, which is due in August. Young Widows are a Louisville band that used to be called Breather Resist. They decided on a name change when their singer left the band. Regardless of nomenclature, the group plays a pretty heavy, powerful, hardcore-derived style of indie rock with a regular use of dissonance. It’s not entirely inaccessible, but it’s definitely rough sledding if you’re not into this kind of music.
Stan was loitering near my cubicle and he saw the CD. Better yet, he saw the press clippings that accompanied the CD, and right on top was a blurb that appeared in Spin proclaiming Breather Resist a “next big thing.” Spin used the unfortunate phrase “Louisville, Kentucky quartet that exorcise early-‘90s emocore” to describe the band. Stan picked up the clips pack, gave it a brief perusal and then announced to no one in particular, “Well, here’s another band that proves the less talent you have, the more popular you become.”
Where to begin? Well, for starters, I didn’t ask Stan, but I would be willing to bet my own liver that he’s never heard Young Widows or for that matter, Breather Resist, play a single note, so how does he know they have no talent?
Another thing: Spin is a shitty rag, but it is a national magazine and a lot of people read it. How many times have you been in Spin, Stan? Being in Spin is certainly no gauge of artistic merit, but just by being mentioned in it (two years ago), they’re quite a bit further up the musical food chain than any band you’ve ever been involved with, and Breather Resist doesn’t even exist anymore.
Here’s another Stanecdote: He engineers CDs for local bands. Once he brought in some tracks that he had been working on. He couldn’t stop boasting about how great they were, how the band’s songwriting was “solid” and how they “just have a really good sound.” Naturally, they were a thoroughly anodyne pseudo-alt-country knockoff with atrocious lyrics and utterly boring songs – complete and utter shit, in other words, and if Stan had one-tenth the impeccable taste that he says he does, he would’ve realized this. Instead, there he was boasting about this useless band that made Hootie & the Blowfish sound like the fucking Beatles. What a chump.
Dismissing Young Widows sight unseen (or sound unheard, in this case) was an incredibly arrogant and ignorant thing to do. Was he being glib? Oh, sure, but knowing what I do about Stan, it wasn’t too hard to read between the lines.
“Look at these guys, making a living playing the music they create, touring the country, not having to punch a clock or listen to some prima donna newsreader telling them to turn off their cherished jazz CDs. Oh, how I envy and hate them.”
06 June 2006
Check your calendar. This coming Tuesday is June 6, 2006, a.k.a. 6-6-06, Beelzebub’s Social Security number. In the spirit of this fortuitous instance, we have compiled a 666 playlist, the top 18 tunes for this day. Why 18? Because 18 is three sixes, as one memorable skit from The Ben Stiller Show said. The devil, as they say, has the best tunes.
18) Deicide, Legion: Bass player Glen Benton has an inverted crucifix branded into his forehead — this dude isn’t half-assing. Best cut? “Satan Spawn, the Caco-Daemon,” of course, although “Behead the Prophet (No Lord Shall Live)” comes close.
17) AC/DC, “Highway to Hell”: Makes the road to eternal damnation sound like a non-stop party.
16) Electric Hellfire Club, “Unholy Roller”: Because chanting “S-A-T-A-N, he’s our man” to the tune of the Bay City Rollers’ “Saturday Night” is G-E-N-I-U-S.
15) Venom, Black Metal: If you hate thrash, death and, yes, black metal, blame these guys. A classic.
14) Today is the Day, In the Eyes of God: Who is the Black Angel? On this disc, it’s noise terrorists TITD. Sample cuts: “Going to Hell,” “The Russian Child Porn Ballet.” Delightful.
13) Mayhem, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas: These freaks took things too far, what with burning down historic churches in Norway, the suicide of former singer Dead and the murder of guitarist Euronymous by bass player Count Grishnackh. So they HAD to be included.
12) Meat Puppets, “Lake of Fire”: As evocative a description of hell as anything out of Dante’s Inferno — but catchier.
11) Marilyn Manson, Antichrist Superstar: The ultimate statement from America’s sweetheart.
10) Goatwhore, The Eclipse of Ages Into Black: New Orleans supergroup (of sorts) unites to craft dark, swampy black metal under a dark god, into a darker sun.
9) Tool, “Die Eier von Satan”: The devil (and Tool) has a sense of humor. This recipe for hash cookies sounds diabolical because it’s in German. Und keine Eier!
8) Led Zeppelin, “Stairway to Heaven”: But only if you play it backwards.
7) Morbid Angel, “Chapel of Ghouls”: “Your god is dead,” bellows David Vincent, and it’s all downhill from there. Not for the faint-hearted.
6) Iron Maiden, “The Number of the Beast”: This song is actually about a guy trying to break up a Satanic coven. He fails, naturally, but his heart was in the right place.
5) Rolling Stones, “Sympathy for the Devil”: Featuring a snazzy bassline (played by Keef), lyrics inspired by the novel The Master and Margarita and, of course, the woo-woos. Pleased to meet you.
4) Robert Johnson, “Me and the Devil Blues”: Legend has it that Johnson sold his soul to Satan so he could play guitar better. Now THAT’S devotion to the instrument.
3) Black Sabbath: Though the Sabs have recorded much better albums than their debut, Black Sabbath is probably the most Satanic. Fun fact: It was released on a Friday the 13th.
2) Aphrodite’s Child, 666: An epic prog-rock concept album about nothing less than the Apocalypse itself, written by future “Chariots of Fire” soundtrack composer Vangelis.
1) Slayer, Reign in Blood. Well, duh.
05 June 2006
WHITE HOUSE (AP) -- President Bush says he is "proud to stand with" those who support a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.What a shocker. These right-wing tough guys sure are a-scared of the gays, aren't they?
What I find so amusing and pathetic is that these dumbfucks apparently think that if same-sex marriage is recognized, it will somehow also be made manditory or something. It's also amusing how some of these staunch advocactes for protecting "the sanctity of marriage" have innumerable divorces and affairs to their "credit."
04 June 2006
The AP's Frazier Moore summed it up thusly:
Having started strong last March with the near-fatal shooting of mob boss Tony Soprano by his senile Uncle Junior, the sixth season of this HBO drama seemed to wilt, week to week, in synch with Tony’s recovery.
The inevitable murder of Soprano captain Vito Spatafore -- offed by fellow mobsters for being gay -- had taken place in the next-to-last episode. But proving somewhat anticlimactic, it only whetted the audience’s appetite for a decisive dramatic finish to the 12-episode season.
That didn’t happen.
01 June 2006
He designed Space Ghost for starters, as well as the aesthetic given to the DC characters used in Hanna-Barbera's execrable SuperFriends show.
But his comics work was pretty spectacular. He was a master of minimalism, making every brush stroke count. His deceptively simple style was easy on the eye but difficult to emulate. To really appreciate Toth, you have to read a whole story -- one or two panels don't do his work justice.
There's a great article on the Comics Journal's web page that gives detailed biographical info and doesn't pull any punches (i.e., Toth was notoriously prickly and cantankerous and could be a total asshole).
But his personality defects shouldn't distract from his work. Toth was one of the greats from that era, and precious few of the old masters are left.
Now that they don't have to pay royalties, I'm sure a few tribute volumes will hit the shelves in the coming months.
I Suppose It's Possible Other Kids Are Masturbating and Spreading Their Semen Around the School As Well
All I can say is I'm sorry I waited this long. The Squid is one of the most deadpan, hilarious movies I've seen in ages. I liked it so much I bought a used copy on DVD at W&W the day after.
First, it features kids, and yet I wasn't consumed with the urge to climb inside the TV and strangle the horrible little fuckers as I usually am when children are required to emote.
Second, Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney are both really good, and William "Don't Call Me Billy" Baldwin is perfectly cast as an amiable doofus (or philistine, if you prefer).
Turns out it was written and directed by Noah Baumbach, who cowrote the screenplay for The Life Aquatic with Wes Anderson -- who executive produced The Squid and the Whale. Birds of a feather.
29 May 2006
So far, I have watched three of the "Classic Album" DVDs: A Night at the Opera (Queen); Ace of Spades (Motorhead); Bat Out of Hell (Meat Loaf).
I also watched New York Doll, which is about Arthur "Killer" Kane, who seemed to be such a sweet, sad guy. How's this for an ending: After playing a triumphant reunion show with the survivng New York Dolls, Kane returned to Los Angeles feeling a little run down and sick. After three weeks, he went to see a doctor. He was diagnosed with leukemia and died two hours later. If that exact same scenario were presented in a novel or a fictional film, it would be seen as maudlin and unrealistic.
I also picked up a documentary on the Runaways. When the boss is out of town, I always try to hit Wild & Woolly and rent all the obscure and/or foreign movies that she doesn't want to sit through, but I can never remember which ones I want to watch, so I usually just end up looking through the music section (see above).
A couple of weeks ago, Jen and I were playing pool at the Barret Bar. The music they were playing was really good and it was obviously all from the same album. After seven or eight fantastic songs in a row, I went over and asked the bartender who was playing. It was Beck's Guero. Better late than never. I hit a few of my usual used CD haunts but I finally gave up this weekend and bought it new at Best Buy. Now I might have to check out Sea Change.
The album graphics are highly reminescent of Henry Darger's art. As I haven't bothered reading the liner notes yet, this may be intentional.
20 May 2006
15 May 2006
The one on Ratt was amusing in a pathetic sort of way, because Ratt has always been a pathetic sort of band: no real substance, just a nonstop babes ‘n’ booze party train (although I do own a copy of their greatest hits CD – I’m not made of stone). They were no worse than any of their contemporaries, but they weren’t any better, either. I thought it was horribly disingenuous to present the interview segments with former guitarist Robbin Crosby without indicating that he, like, died in 2002 – a factual tidbit they saved until the very end of the episode. Also, singer Stephen Pearcy looks like hell.
The one on Pantera had more meat, so to speak, and it rightly opened with the murder of guitarist Dimebag Darrell Abbott. The show presented Phil Anselmo as the root cause of Pantera’s eventual dissolution, which I don’t think is entirely accurate, but it’s a moot point now. Anselmo is an interesting character. He says he’s clean and sober these days but he looked awfully doped up during his interview segments. I wouldn’t want to ride in an elevator with him, but he is easily one of the most intense performers in metal; a truly scary dude. And Down, his offshoot collaboration with Pepper Keenan of COC (one of many Anselmo side projects), is awesome.
I always had mixed feelings about Pantera. I was working at a record store shortly after they broke big. Practically all of the people who bought Vulgar Display of Power were what you’d expect: ignorant, redneck assholes who thought Black Flag were a bunch of fags, yet couldn’t see the similarities between the two bands. On the rare occasions when I would play Pantera through the store’s PA – mainly to irritate customers or fellow employees – I discovered that despite their white trash audience, I didn’t hate Pantera's music, which was brutally simple and direct. It’s not all that different from a lot of hardcore, only it’s played at a slower tempo.
Anyway, a couple of years ago, I got an advance of The Best of Pantera: Far Beyond the Great Southern Cowboys' Vulgar Hits disc and I favorably reviewed it in LEO. If I can dig it up and I’m not embarrassed by it I’ll post it here for completeness’s sake.
I hope VH1 airs more episodes of Behind the Music. I suggest doing shows on Cheap Trick and the Cars, for starters.
10 May 2006
I tried, as a last-ditch effort, to reformat the Seagate on the Gateway (remember, I reformatted it for the Mac so everything is copasetic on that end -- for now, at least). As expected, that did not work. However, while I was thumbing through the section of the Seagate's instructions I hadn't yet bothered to consult, I saw that Seagate does NOT recommend using their drives to switch back and forth between PC and Mac. So, yeah, this ordeal was pretty much my fault. Whoops. That's what I get for cutting corners.
So anyway, I bought a 1GB flash drive and transferred most of the crucial junk from the Gateway to the Seagate and/or the Mac. I rationalized that expense as being probably what I'd pay for a tech geek to fix it. Of course, the printer still doesn't work, but then, it didn't ever really work with the Gateway after we had its hard drive replaced the first time.
08 May 2006
Known, if at all, as one-half of the creative axis of the Go-Betweens, McLennan was also one-half of the creative axis of Jack Frost, which also featured the talents of Steve Kilbey, who has written a few poignant remembrances of McLennan on his blog. Both Jack Frost CDs are worth buying, and he would probably want to be remembered for his music, not lame tributes on various web pages.
McLennan was 48 years old.
28 April 2006
26 April 2006
I am pleased to report that all four performers delivered, i.e., they made me laugh out loud, which is pretty much all you can ask from a comedy show. What sets the Comedians of Comedy apart from the usual stand-up crap is the comedians’s sensibilities, for lack of a better term – none of them relied on the typical, tedious, tired airplane food or "men and women are so different -- am I right, fellas?" bullshit which makes people think stand-up is such a worn-out genre.
Oswalt was especially funny that night; I particularly liked his riff on the music used on conservative AM radio talk shows vs. NPR (“Man, I know what the kids dig! I’ve got an Ornette Coleman bootleg that was recorded in a graveyard in 1961!”). Posehn was good, delivering his material in that “is he stoned or is he retarded?” voice of his. Bamford was pretty interesting; she used this squirrelly cartoon voice for much of the set but then she would use normal-sounding voices to make jokes about her mother, sister and others. And Mirman has been a favorite of mine for a while, if only for "The Marvelous Crooning Child."
I am also pleased to report that Headliners was way packed. I haven’t seen this many people there since the Spoon show last year.
24 April 2006
Well, while Jen was off gallivanting in Europe last month, we had a power surge or something here at the house and the Seagate freaked out and now neither the mini nor Jen's laptop will recognize it, even though they used to get along and play nicely together in the past. I called Seagate tech support and the guy on the other end (a native English-speaker, but still quite obviously dumb as a bag of donkey manure) told me it sounded as if I would need to reformat the Seagate and start over from scratch.
I had resigned myself to this process and after almost two weeks of putting it off, I was undertaking it Saturday. I decided to go back to the source and reinitialize it on the Gateway so I could resave all the stuff I had previously saved on it so the Mac could once again use the files.
Lo and behold, the Seagate is still on speaking terms with the Gateway. All the files were usable, readable, openable (??) etc. In the interests of worst-case scenarios, I backed up all the files FROM the Seagate TO the Gateway, even though these files are scattered across various folders on the Gateway. I did that so they'd all be in one spot (i.e., one folder named "Jay's Crap" and one named "Jen's Crap.")
Just for shits and giggles, I unhooked the Gateway and tried to see if the Mac and/or the laptop would read the Seagate in the hopes that maybe somehow putting the Seagate with the Gateway "unlocked" it or some such computer voodoo bullshit, but no: neither mini nor laptop recognize the Seagate.
So now I'm stumped. My instinct says I should reformat the Seagate on the Mac, since that's the "main" computer now (I don't care if the Seagate becomes a blank slate now that I backed up my back-ups on the Gateway), but my razor-keen instinct also says that with my luck, the Seagate would then only speak to the mini and forget its old friend, the Gateway. Furthermore, I need the Seagate's 160GB storage capacity so I can warehouse big files, like the songs I've put together in GarageBand, which are insanely massive files. Oh, and all the porn, of course.
And no, the Gateway does not burn CDs because we didn't get a CD burner on it when we bought the motherfucker in 2000, which was my decision so I get to take the blame for that lack of foresight -- although I am considering having one installed just for that purpose, even though that would be an incredibly roundabout ass-backwards, not to mention costly, way of doing it.
At this point I would probably just buy a new Seagate (different brand, obviously) if these things cost $50 or less, but since I dropped nearly $200 on it, I want to try and see it through to its bitter conclusion. For lack of a better term, so I can get closure on it.
Any computer geeks out there reading this, please feel free to leave comments (besides "Sucks to be you," obviously).