29 September 2006

Squeeze Harder, Ben

More hijinks with Stan Lee, this time with the Thing:

...although I have to admit, seeing the Thing's hand wrapped around Stan's throat almost made up for it.

Here's something to cleanse the mental palate:

Ah, that's better.

The "Race War" is Over

The ethnic experiment is quickly over on Survivor as race-based tribes are eliminated

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.
Jesus 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).

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

Kicking It

Took a little road trip to Nashville to see French Kicks live and in concert. They were really good, except for the fact that the lead singer couldn't quite hit the high notes that he pulls off with ease on CD. But hey, that's live music for you.

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.

This Just In: Preznit Still Full of Shit

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

House of Stupid Ideas

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

Fizzling Out

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

Klosterfuck, Or: If This Is the Voice of My Generation, I'd Rather Be Deaf

The essays are very solipsistic and self-absorbed, I'm totally conscious of that. To me, book writing is fun, and I basically just write about things that are entertaining to myself.
--Chuck Klosterman

Another thing that interests me about the Eagles is that I hate them.
--Robert Christgau

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


"Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin has died from a stingray attack.

What a way to go. Not.

But you know that's probably the way he would have wanted to die, so cheers and godspeed.

The Song Remains the Same

I have every Led Zeppelin song on CD. Unfortunately, I have the box set that came out in 1990, which was basically a four-disc greatest hits compilation, and its 1993 follow up, which contained all the songs that weren't on the first set. This means that if I want to listen to, say, Houses of the Holy, I either have to shuffle through all six discs looking for the eight cuts that originally made up that album, or I start shuffling through the six discs and then realize it's too much work and I quit.

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.