20 December 2007

Talking animals = GOLD

Like most red-blooded Americans, I hate TV commercials. But thanks to Consumerist, I saw some that made me laugh. For real! You will, too -- if you don't, you don't have a soul.

I like this'n too.

Ming blue?

29 November 2007

El Conquistador

Hello. It's been a while. I have started numerous posts but I never seem to have enough time to make them DMBYSC-worthy. Anyway, I know it's bad blogger form to blog about how you've been ignoring your blog, so here's a baby ocelot from the Louisville Zoo:

Best part? They named him "El Conquistador."

29 September 2007

A Special Night for Everyone

I went to Nashville last Friday and caught Local H live. I have waxed rhapsodic about the magnificence of seeing Local H perform live, so I'll spare you the purple prose, but as always, the band delivered and I was glad I went.

1) No equipment malfunctions, thus no Scott Lucas hissy fits\
2) Three new songs were played; all three are really fucking good (I've heard two of them on the band's MySpace page) and I can't wait until they put out a new album
3) "Buffalo Trace" was played
4) Lucas called out some drunken asshole who passed out on the stage:

Set list:
Them's Fighting Words
Bound for the Floor
Fine and Good
Eddie Vedder
California Songs
Hands on the Bible
Buffalo Trace
Hey, Rita
All Right (Oh Yeah)
Fritz's Corner
High-Fiving MF
- - - - -
I Like Little Boys
Wolf Like Me (TV on the Radio)
Toxic (Britney Spears)
That's What They All Say/Star-Spangled Banner/Good Night (Cheap Trick)

06 August 2007

Big Rock Weekend

Friday, August 3: Road trip to Covington for a show by Interpol. Even though I think their new album has a few dead dead spots, I thought it was a fine show in an interesting venue. And it has to be said: A pleasantly high number of hot hipster chicks were in attendance. It it also has to be said: Carlos D's new frontier dandy look is not half as striking as his Hitler Youth look, mainly because that little douchebag Brandon Flowers beat him to it.

The venue, the Madison Theater, was pretty cool. It was sort of like Louisville's Palace without seats. My pal Shay and I were parked near the sound board. Some guy standing behind me saw me writing down the song titles as best I could and about seven or eight songs into the show asked me if any selections from Interpol's first album had been played. I replied, "Not yet." To which some oaf in a Killers t-shirt (hmmm) turned around and said, "You don't have to stand here if you don't want." Which made absolutely no sense to me or the guy who asked me the question, so we just gave Mr. Killers a who-asked-you-asshole look and he turned around.

But wait, it gets better. The sound techs had several small fans aimed in their direction. Mr. Killers couldn't help touching them and changing them, and he got thrown out, which was, all things considered, pretty fucking hilarious. But at least he didn't have to hear anything from the first Interpol album.

Set list:
Pioneer to the Falls
Slow Hands
Rest My Chemistry
Public Pervert
Pace is the Trick
The Heinrich Maneuver
Not Even Jail
- - - - -
Obstacle 1
Stella Was a Diver
(thanks to Shay for filling in the gaps)

Sunday, August 5: Road trip to downtown Louisville for Queens of the Stone Age at Coyote's, which I had always asumed was a cowboy/biker bar. And it is, but they've been booking rock shows of late (Modest Mouse are scheduled later this month). I was supposed to interview one of the Queens for an article in LEO, but I couldn't make things line up with my schedule (I work a day job), so in the interest of not blowing a deadline, I backed out of the assignment. Which kind of sucked because it meant that comp tickets were not coming anymore, and the admission was $25, which seems a little steep for QOTSA, but whatever -- we got in to Interpol free, so I guess it all evens out. Once agin, Shay was along for the ride, as was our pal Chris. We met at Chris's house in beautiful Jeffersonville, Indiana and had a few adult beverages before we crossed the river for a night of heavy rock.

Now, I dig QOTSA, but I must admit that two of their last three albums have kind of left me underwhelmed. I was especially disappointed by their somewhat patchy third album, Songs for the Deaf, because it came after their start-to-finish brilliant second effort, Rated R. Happily, their newest effort, Era Vulgaris, grew on me after repeated listens, particluarly "I'm Designer," "Make It Wit Chu," "Turnin' on the Screw" and "3's & 7's."

So anyway, I was pretty psyched to see them play live -- especially material from Rated R. I figured "Feel Good Hit of the Summer" and "Lost Art of Keeping a Secret" were both guaranteed, but I was hoping maybe they'd throw in "Auto Pilot" or "Monsters in the Parasol" as well.

The joke was on me: QOTSA completely ignored Rated R. Assholes. It's like Josh Homme read my mind and said, "Let's fuck with this jackass and skip Rated R tonight, boys."

Whatever. It was still a decent show -- they played a lot of stuff from the new disc -- but still a letdown.

This never wopuld have happened if Nick Oliveri was still in the band.

Set list:
Regular John
Do It Again
First It Giveth
Tangled Up in Plaid
3's & 7's
Into the Hollow
Misfit Love
Suture Up Your Future
Burn the Witch
Turnin' on the Screw
The Fun Machine Took a Shit and Died
Little Sister
Sick, Sick, Sick
Go with the Flow
- - - - -
No One Knows
Song for the Dead

15 July 2007

Don't Stand So Close to Me, Or: Packed Like Lemmings into Churchill Downs

The Police performed in Louisville last night. I went. Fantastic weather, fantastic venue (Churchill Downs), fantastic sound, fantastic show.

Set list:
Message in a Bottle
Synchronicity II
Walking on the Moon
Voices Inside My Head/When the World Is Running Down
Don't Stand So Close to Me
Driven to Tears
Truth Hits Everybody
The Bed's Too Big Without You
Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
Wrapped Around Your Finger
De Do Do Do De Da Da Da
Invisible Sun
Walking in Your Foootsteps
Can't Stand Losing You/Regatta de Blanc/Can't Stand Losing You
- - - - -
King of Pain
So Lonely
- - - - -
Every Breath You Take
- - - - -
Next to You

18 June 2007

Tool Time

Saw Tool in Evansville last night. A damn fine show.

Set list:
46 & 2
Lost Keys (Blame Hofmann)
Rosetta Stoned
Wings for Marie Part 1
10,000 Days (Wings for Marie Part2)

Lots of extended material. During "Lateralus," members of opening act Melt Banana joined Tool for an instrumental freakout.

Slight problems: Maynard James Keenan's vocals were low in the mix, but for all I know, that may have been intentional -- he's not your standard metal band frontman. Also, this being Evansville, there were plenty of rednecks, hillbillies and other assorted white trash in the audience. My favorite was the one who started moshing during the slow, understated part of "Wings for Marie," which is a song about the death of Keenan's mother.

14 June 2007

The Only Thing I'm Neutral On

What American accent do you have? (Best version so far)


("Midland" is not necessarily the same thing as "Midwest") The default, lowest-common-denominator American accent that newscasters try to imitate. Since it's a neutral accent, just because you have a Midland accent doesn't mean you're from the Midland.

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11 June 2007

Don't Stop Believin'

I was wrong about The Sopranos.

...or WAS I?

The show ended on a typically open-ended, ambiguous note, par for the course, as anyone who watches the show should know. Of course the interwebs were ablaze with numerous postings, articles and suchlike. Many of these armchair producers were whining and crying that they didn't get a "real ending," that it "denied them closure." Fuck them. If they want neat, pat endings, they should stick with Entourage. Real life doesn't end in a nice, neat bundle. Threads dangle, sometimes forever. I realize we watch fiction precisely because it's the rare place where everything can come to a ciomplete ending, but I think these folks would have been even more disappointed if David Chase had brought every single plot element back in for a contrived ending.

I was just happy that Phil Leotardo got shot, and then had his head run over by an SUV. That was all the closure I needed.

09 June 2007

You Don't Need a Gynecologist to Know Which Way the Wind Blows

The Sopranos ends tomorrow night.

I don't know if The Sopranos is the best TV show ever, but it is certainly ONE of the best shows ever. When the show debuted way back when, it was accompanied by a wave of hype which, frankly, turned me off, and coupled with the fact that at the time we didn't have HBO, I didn't watch the first season as it aired. But HBO reran the series and my curiosity got the best of me so I had a friend with digital cable tape the first season for me (thanks again, Jimmie!) and I was hooked. I'm not made of stone, people.

In fact, Vitamin Jen and I liked it so much, we upgraded to digital cable just so we could watch The Sopranos as each episode aired. And despite the fact that the show's creators got a little arrogant, taking upwards of 18 months off between seasons, I am and always will be a fan of the show.

Meaning that when he final episode airs tomorrow at 9 p.m., well, since I'lll probably be slugging down some bourbon, or at least a Woodpecker, all through the broadcast, there may be tears when those final credits roll.

Here's my speculation as to what's gonna go down:

Due to the show's overall tone and based on previous story arcs, I am among those who thinks that Tony Soprano will be killed in the final episode. My theory is that Paulie Walnuts has been working with Phil Leotardo on the sly and that he will be the one who plugs Big T. Remember that Paulie was kissing up to Johnny Sack several seasons ago, so we know that he has considered jumping ship before, and in last week's episode, Sil and Bobby told Paulie they were gonna whack Phil at Phil's goomar's house, and then Phil magically never shows up and the goomar's father got whacked instead. Phil's absence was explained as Phil having left town immediately after ordering the hits on Tony, Sil and Bobby, but this was just speculation on Tony and Sil's part. And in that vein, when we saw Phil's lieutenant Butchie discussing the three killings (Tony, Sil and Bobby), one of the crew asked if they were gonna whack Paulie. Butchie said no -- protecting their inside man? One final tidbit: It has been widely reported, since the series began, that Tony Sirico, the actor who plays Paulie Walnuts, agreed to take the role on the condition that his character never "turn rat," and I've seen these anecdoyes circualting again in press accounts of the show's finale. I think that's a big ol' red herrring. I think when he said "turn rat," Sirico just meant that his character would never go to the Feds -- I think it's entirely reasonable that Paulie would join a new crew if he thought it was in his best interests.

Based on all of the above, that's what I think is going to go down. But then, predicting what's going to happen on The Sopranos is not an easy thing to do, which is one of the reasons why the show is so beloved by its fans. And why it will be missed.

31 May 2007

Shut Your Cakehole, Caruso

Somewhere, there’s a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow missing a very solemn, very fugly leprechaun dressed in black.

If there is a more ludicrous television characterization than that of Lieutenant Horatio Caine as played by David Caruso on CSI: Miami, I haven’t seen it. For those of you who don’t watch the show, Caruso stars as the ringleader of a squad of crime scene investigators who work in and around Miami. Aside from the obvious gaffes – like, which hack writer thought the name “Horatio” would inspire anything besides eye-rolling and/or snickers? -- CSI: Miami deserves special praise for using so many formulaic ticks and gestures to flesh out Caine’s persona in lieu of any actual character development.

Caruso’s Caine is such a smug, obnoxious prick that I can’t help but wonder if Caruso is portraying him that way deliberately. He’s certainly nailed down a few gestures and mannerisms that just annoy the living shit out of me – so much so that I get a masochistic thrill out of watching the show just so I can see how many times in any given episode that, for example, Caruso puts his hands on his hips, turns his head so he’s not directly looking at any other actor and then delivers his portentous pronouncements as if he’s some brilliant, infallible, inscrutable cross between Sherlock Holmes, Mr. Spock and Socrates. If you’ve ever seen one of these instances of TV magic and not felt an immediate urge to bludgeon Caruso with a heavy object, than you must be a robot or something.

And as CSI: Miami prepares to launch yet another season next fall, there are literally hundreds of scenes of Caine putting on those fucking sunglasses while delivering a supposedly witty bon mot with the same exact vocal inflections. I’ve seen more varied and nuanced performances in old Clutch Cargo cartoons. Why, somebody should make a clip that strings a bunch of ‘em together, so you can see what I’m talking about.

Oh wait, somebody did:

I like the way the person who edited this video left in Roger Daltrey’s scream from “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” CSI: Miami’s theme song – it helps underscore Lt. Caine’s sheer ridiculousness.

And as for those show-opening witticisms, I liked them a hell of a lot better when Jerry Orbach as Detective Lenny Briscoe on Law & Order did it – he came off as a regular guy with a realistically cynical perspective on his job, not a sanctimonious douchebag. Caruso should check Orbach’s performances out on one of the innumerable L&O marathons running on TNT or USA – he might learn how to change up his line delivery.

17 May 2007

Parents: Watch Your Fucking Children

She got served. Serves her ass right.

Next time, bitch better BRING IT.

26 April 2007

Those Who Sneer Will Fade and Die

One summer day 20+ odd years ago, I bought Ultravox’s 1981 LP Rage in Eden at the Book Broker for $2. I was just barely cognizant of Ultravox because I had seen portions of their “Vienna” video on USA’s Night Flight, and the reason I remembered them at all was more because I thought their name was cool rather than “Vienna” making much of an impact on me. But when I glimpsed Rage in Eden’s elegant Peter Saville-designed sleeve* and I put it together that this was indeed that Ultravox, I knew I had to purchase it. So I did.

And best of all, I wasn’t disappointed after I pedaled home, fired up the stereo and put on the headphones. Rage in Eden showed that synthesizer-driven new wave music needn’t necessarily be synonymous with shitty bands and singing haircuts (e.g., A Flock of Seagulls, the Human League, Modern English). And even though I can understand why some people might find Midge Ure’s vocal stylings a tad bombastic and overblown, I really like the way he sings on this album. He belts it out like nobody’s business (“We Stand Alone,” “The Thin Wall”), but he can also dial it down a notch for more subtle shadings (e.g., “Your Name (Has Slipped My Mind Again),” the title tune). My favorite cut from Rage in Eden is easily “The Thin Wall,” a bouncy little number with vaguely sardonic lyrics (“They shuffle with a bovine grace and glide in syncopation”) and mountains of symphonic synthesizers.

So from that day on, I was heavily into Ultravox. About a year later, I got my first job (at Hardee’s (shut up)) and with my very first paycheck, I purchased brand-new copies of Vienna and Lament at the Disc Jockey in Eastland Mall. Vienna came out before Rage in Eden and was Ure’s first with the band, while 1984’s Lament would prove to be the “classic” line-ups final release, as drummer Warren Cann split after its release (the remaining three members – Ure, Chris Cross and Billy Currie – released an album called U-Vox in 1986 but I have never heard it).

Both Vienna and Lament are great records. The former features the epic “Vienna,” of course, as well as more straightforward, rocking numbers like “Passing Strangers” and “New Europeans,” plus stylistic holdovers from their previous incarnation as a more glam/Krautrock outfit with the spoken-word character study “Mr. X” and the sweeping, soaring, cinematic instrumental “Astradyne.”

Lament is a slightly different kettle of fish. The best songs are all frontloaded on Side 1, making Side 2 seem a little underserved, so I took the liberty of rearranging the album’s running order and dubbing a cassette version for myself. Purists will be aghast that I tampered with an artist’s original vision, but I really think my version flows better than the official sequence.

Side 1
"White China"
"One Small Day"
"Dancing with Tears in My Eyes"
Side 2
"Man of Two Worlds"
"Heart of the Country"
"When the Time Comes"
"A Friend I Call Desire"

DMBYSC Special Mix:
Side 1
"White China"
"Man of Two Worlds"
"Dancing with Tears in My Eyes"
"When the Time Comes"
Side 2
"One Small Day"
"Heart of the Country"
"A Friend I Call Desire"

Of course, the CD version of Lament features numerous extended remixes, two b-sides and two instrumental versions, but I didn't have those on vinyl. Feel free to dig out your own copies of Lament and listen to both running orders and let me know what you think.

*In a recent Q/Mojo special edition, Peter Saville rather unprofessionally mentioned that the work he did for Ultravox (and there was quite a bit of it) was phoned in, but I’ll be damned if they’re still not cool-looking album sleeves.

13 April 2007

Hail Hydra, Immortal Hydra

Way back in 1979-80 – can’t remember the exact year -- my dad had a WGBF bumper sticker on his car. He was driving home from work one night when the “WGBF Prize Fan” spotted the sticker pulled him over.

(How a radio station vehicle effects such a traffic stop is unknown to me, but that’s irrelevant to this anecdote.)

The prize van’s pilot dumped a few t-shirts, a Frisbee and a few more bumper stickers on Vitamin J Sr., but best of all, they gave him a “six-pack” of vinyl LPs. So dad came home that night with an armload of promo stuff. I was already heavily into the music by that point, so I was most intrigued to see what records the old man had scored.

Half of them were so memorable that I cannot for the life of me recall what they were, although I do remember that I was dismayed that they all had little notches and holes punched in the sleeves – as I would later discover, this is the mark of the promotional release.

The three that I do remember included some band called Oak, Permanent Waves by Rush and Hydra by Toto. It wasn’t until much later in my life that I realized that all of the records were by artists that weren’t exactly in heavy rotation on WGBF’s airwaves, and that the station’s largesse wasn’t motivated so much by spreading the wealth as it was getting rid of records they weren’t going to play and were therefore just cluttering up the offices.

Regardless of motives, I was pretty impressed by the fact that a little bumper sticker had enabled someone to score six albums at one pop. I was a little less impressed when dad announced that he already knew a few people at work who would give him a few bucks for the records, as I kind of had assumed he’d let me keep them all. Worst of all, Permanent Waves went out the door the next day, so I eventually had to buy my own copy after I got heavily into Rush in the eighth grade.

But there apparently weren’t any Toto fans where my dad worked, and I was able to hang on to Hydra. The album was the follow-up to their epononymous debut record, which contained the hit “Hold the Line,” so I knew who Toto were, vaguely, and better still, Hydra’s first single, “99,” was in the Top 40, so I had heard it a few times. “99” is a slow, introspective ballad with lots of keyboards. I used to think that it was semi-orchestrated as well, but what I originally thought was a horn section turned out to be synthesizers meant to sound like horns.

Anyhow, “99” excepted, I didn’t know what to expect when I first listened to Hydra, but I dropped the needle and let the magic unfold.

I almost always read the liner notes before I listen to any album, and although the lyrics were included in Hydra’s packaging, mysteriously, only the opening phrase from each of “Hydra’s” verses are presented in brackets for some reason, i.e., [[There was a man]]; [There was a lady]]; [[There was a dragon lord]]. I’ve always wondered why the full lyrics weren’t incorporated, but it made the song seem more enigmatic than its companions.

The song fades in on an ominous orghan chord and then just as quickly fades out on a heavy sound that always reminded me of some big sea creature plopping down out in the depths of the ocean – Davy Jones’s locker made audible. There’s some barely audible humming and other assorted studio tomfoolery before the song properly gets underway...

“Hydra” the song tells a story that any middle school-aged geek would find tantalizing, something about the abovementioned dragon lord, throats getting cut, freedom versus love, all the important stuff. Better yet, its music kicks ass. Although the tune is credited as a group compositin, it’s quite obviously maing songwriter David Paich’s baby. Paich plays keyboards, so the song has tons of ‘em – organ, piano, synthesizers – and they’re all used to great effect.

Next track is “St. George and the Dragon,” and at this point, it seems as if Toto has some kind of mythological creature-themed concept album going here. “St. George” is definitely a companion pice to “Hydra,” although it’s much more upbeat.

Next is “99,” which is a good piece of solid adult contemporary pop craftsmanship with faux-jazz flourishes during its extended outro. The wisdom of addressing a lover as “99” gioves the song a vaguely SF aura, and it turns out Paich was inspired by the movie THX-119. It would have been cooler if he had written it in tribute to Agent 99 from Get Smart. Barbara Feldon was pretty cute back in the day.

Back to Hydra. Side 1 concludes with “Lorraine,” which uses the soft verse, loud chorus dynamic that would be later used to great effect by such acts as Husker Du, the Pixies and Nirvana, none of whom would be caught dead listening to a Toto record. This is not to say that “Lorraine” sounds like Nirvana – far from it. They just share a basic structural similarity, especially if Nirvana had used lots of piano and synthesizers and fretless bass.

Side 2 is the less accessible half of Hydra but it’s still pretty enjoyable. “All Us Boys” is yet another entry in that canon of songs about male bonding, and as a seventh grader, I assumed that as soon as I got my driver’s license, I too would find a posse of rowdy hooligans with which to drink, smoke and carouse. The song is not quite as balls-out as it perhaps it should be, given the subject matter, but as with all the tracks on the album, it is impeccably crafted.

Now, impeccable craftsmanship goes against everything that rock ‘n’ roll is supposed to stand for, but this is Toto, which, it should be noted, was comprised of six seasoned veterans of the Los Angeles studio musician circuit. For example, most of the band played on Boz Scaggs’s big hit records from the ‘70s, and nothing defines MOR slick lite rock like Boz Scaggs. Hell, Paich co wrote “Lowdown” and “Lido Shuffle,” two tracks for which I have more of these warm fuzzy childhood memories. Regardless, the band’s pedigree amply illustrates the fact that they could play the living shit out of their instruments, particularly Lukather and bassist David Hungate.

So anyway, after “All Us Boys” comes “Mama,” which serves as a showcase for singer Bobby Kimball’s vocal chops. Although Kimball was ostensibly Toto’s lead vocalist, three other band members take turns at the microphone: Guitarist Steve Lukather sings “99,” keyboardist Steve Porcaro sings “A Secret Love,” and Paich sings “Hydra,” “Lorraine” and “All Us Boys.” Regrettably, it kind of proves Toto’s critics right by saying that I assumed all of the above-listed tunes were sung by Paich because the three Toto guys who aren’t Kimball all have similar phrasing and vocal tones, i.e., they sound alike, which is probably why Toto was always denigrated as being bland and nondescript.

Next is “White Sister,” which is sort of a companion piece to “Mama” – more woman-done-me wrong brought to life by Kimball’s over-the-top wailing (“over-the-top” is not used pejoratively here). The album wraps up with “A Secret Love,” which serves almost as an aural after-dinner mint or something; it’s slight and airy, but deliberately so.

For somebody who has railed against the evils of Chuck Klosterman and the pointless self-referential anecdote, I realize that this entry could have been a whole lot more succinct had I eliminated the whole prize van build-up and written a straight album review, but I felt the need to couch my appreciation for this slice of classic rock heaven with a qualifying preface, i.e., “I was in grade school so I didn’t know that Toto were terminally uncool.” And even though I like to think that I never apologize or make excuses for my tastes, I couldn’t help myself for some reason. Because, well, it’s Toto.

But still. There’s something beautiful and magical about that time in your life before your critical facilities are fully formed, before your adult sensibilities are in place, when your tastes are at their purest, most unfiltered and you’re not too cool to like something.

I’ve written before about my teen years and how I rejected most of the music I liked pre-high school because I thought I was above the pleasures of classic rock and heavy metal, in some sort of adolescent attempt to “put away childish things.” This was before I realized that replacing Cheap Trick and KISS with the Buzzcocks and Husker Du only makes you look cooler to your fellow rock snobs (which is not to say that I never really liked the Buzzcocks or Husker Du -- I'm just using them as examples). In the real world, almost nobody cares what kind of music you listen to. And besides, just as one can appreciate and enjoy both White Castle and filet mignon, so too can one enjoy both the Cars and Van der Graaf Generator.

If you like it, it’s good. That’s really all that matters. And by that definition, Hydra is a great record.

Um, yeah, sorry that wasn’t exactly earth-shattering in its profundity…

12 April 2007

Moment of Silence (Wide Open Beavers Edition)

Kurt Vonnegut dies at 84.

I read Cat's Cradle when I was 14. I stayed home sick from school one day when I was a sophomore and read Mother Night all the way through. Saw him dedicate a library at University of Evansville in 1987 (or was it 1986?). Heck, on this here very blog I list Breakfast of Champions in my "Favorite Books" section. In other words, Vonnegut's books made a big impact on me (and about 12 million other people).

Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.

So it goes.

10 April 2007

House of Grind

Saw Grindhouse this weekend. I’ve seen more movies in a movie theater in the past six months than I did in the past three years. Earplugs help tremendously – since most movies are shown with the sound pretty loud, you can hear all the dialogue and ‘splosions yet all the inbreds chatting with their companions and eating popcorn with their mouths wide open seem to vanish. I’m kicking myself that I didn’t think of using them sooner.

Well, anyway, I saw Grindhouse Saturday night and I’ve been processing it ever since. No, it’s not a deep movie by any stretch of the imagination. The only thing deep about it is the dent your ass will leave in your seat thanks to the flick’s 191-minute running time. But the most fascinating thing I found about the whole experience was that I really enjoyed one segment, hated the second, but I can’t stop sulking about the one that sucked.

But actually, the best parts of the whole shebang were the much-ballyhooed trailers inserted before the main features. The trailers worked so well because they all played into the grindhouse aesthetic without having to, you know, construct actual movies around their concepts. My guess is that were, say, Rob Zombie to actually film Werewolf Women of the SS, complete with Nicolas Cage as Fu Manchu, it would be a piece of shit. (Speaking of Rob Zombie: If he ever divorces Sherry Moon Zombie, she’ll never work in movies again – she was in the Werewolf Women trailer for about 17 seconds and she was still outperformed by the props, the costumes and the titles.)

As for the main events…

Planet Terror: A success. The story: Chemical weapons are unleashed on a town in Texas. Most people become mutant zombies; those who are immune band together to battle for humanity’s salvation, or something like that. Lots of shit blows up, and Rose McGowan gets a prosthetic leg.

Robert Rodriguez’s liabilities as a filmmaker became assets in this case. The disjointed narrative was still coherent enough, the violence was suitably over-the-top, the dialogue was the perfect blend of knowing satire and pure Velveeta, the casting was damn near flawless, and of course, the whole machine gun leg thing was pretty cool. The sight of badass El Wray (Freddy Rodriguez) leading the survivors of a mutant attack down the road while riding a child’s toy motorbike was memorable, to say the least, as was Quentin Tarantino’s melting penis. And Fergie gets killed!

Is it stupid? Deliberately so, but it’s fun, too. Every movie can’t be Children of Men, you know.

Rodriguez also made Machete, a fake trailer starring Danny Trejo as a Mexican hired for an assassination who is double-crossed by his employers. Tagline: “They fucked with the wrong Mexican!” Machete was shown at the top of Grindhouse and serves as the perfect introduction. Sadly, Rodriguez doesn’t quite get the joke – apparently he’s making Machete as a straight-to-DVD feature. Why can’t people leave well enough alone?

Which leads us to Planet Tarantino, a.k.a. Death Proof. Quentin Tarantino’s shotgun wedding of road movies and slasher films comes off as My Dinner with Andre clumsily interspersed with bits and pieces of Death Race 2000. If you haven’t already guessed, this is the one that sucked.

Here’s the nutshell narrative: A trio of sexy, sassy women drive to a bar to celebrate a birthday or something, they encounter a mysterious fellow named Stuntman Mike, who ends up driving his death-proof car into theirs, killing them. Then a second gang of sexy, sassy women drive around talking before Stuntman Mike rears his ugly head, ramming their car before the women turn the tables on Mike, eventually tracking him down, running him off the road and beating him up. The End. Oh yeah, spoiler alert!

Seemingly unaware that movies are a visual medium, the mighty QT fills Death Proof with multiple interminable scenes of various hot chicks talking: driving and talking, standing around and talking, sitting around and talking. What are they talking about? Nothing much at all, of course – viewers are supposed to be so dazzled by Tarantino’s flair for scripting naturalistic dialogue and witty banter that the actual content is irrelevant. Tarantino writes dialog like a jazz cat lays down a heavy groove, motherfucker, and if you can’t hang with QT’s scene, then just shut your motherfucking pie hole and go watch The Queen or else I’ll break my motherfucking foot off in your vajay-jay, bitch.

Or so he thinks. The repartee is actually so clunky and artificial that descriptors like “ham-fisted” and “leaden” don’t even begin to scratch the surface. And there is SO FUCKING MUCH of it. These broads never shut up. Again, it’s a movie: show, don’t tell. Everything else is padding, plain and simple.

Furthermore, numerous plot threads are introduced, built up with extensive dialogue, and then dropped, e.g., Jungle Julia text messaging the dude, the two fratboys trying to get the girls drunk enough to date rape, etc. That's just sloppy writing.

What’s worse is the casting. Sydney Poitier’s Jungle Julia is an unlikable bitch. Jordan Ladd plays… some blonde chick wearing a Tura Satana t-shirt that was put there simply to impress the movie geeks (yeah, I caught it, but I’m omnipotent like that). Stuntwoman Zoë Bell plays… stuntwoman Zoë Bell, and let’s just say that as an actress, she’s a fine stuntwoman.

Worst of all, Tracey Thom as Kim gives a performance that would make Wanda Sykes blush, as it’s full of all the worst stereotypical “sassy black chick” mannerisms and inflections you can think of. It’s like Thom thought she was in an episode of The Parkers, not a Hollywood film, and in fact, it’s actually offensive; it’s such a broad, cartoonish characterization that Tarantino might as well have cast a white woman and put her in blackface.

(Speaking of crap acting, Tarantino himself couldn’t act wet if he fell out of a boat, but naturally, he has “cameos” in both Death Proof and Planet Terror, just like he does in every other damn movie he’s ever made -- remember the meme that was running around that went “He’s an actor, but he really wants to direct?” Tarnatino’s a director, but he really wants to act.)

Elsewhere, Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays Lee, a vapid actress who is too girly to keep up with the main trio of cool chicks, who drop references to old movies and muscle cars and the difference between Aussies and Kiwis while Lee talks about an ex-boyfriend who liked to watch her urinate (that’s Tarantino being edgy). Lee was obviously written as comic relief, as someone for the audience to zero in on and scorn: “What a stupid bitch! She’s never seen Vanishing Point!” (All the little Tarantino acolytes in the audience have most likely never seen Vanishing Point either, but they wouldn’t dare admit that QT dropped a reference that they weren’t intimately familiar with.) But Lee comes off as perhaps the most sympathetic and certainly the most realistic character in the whole segemnt. Go figure.

Meanwhile, of course, this flick is allegedly about crazy Stuntman Mike and his ultra mega badass death proof car (it’s called Death Proof, after all), so you would think there might be lots of footage of the car speeding down wide open highways, peeling tires and the titular vehicle demonstrating is very death-proofness, but apparently Tarantino thought the gals yammering away about their boyfriends and, of course, Vanishing Point, was way more interesting.

The ultimate punchline is that Grindhouse debuted at a modest #4, well below the expected box office totals it was assumed it would garner. Hopefully this will inspire studios to reign in Tarantino's worst tendencies, which are on ample display in Death Proof.

20 March 2007

Set Fire to the Arcade Fire

Don’t get me wrong; I like the Arcade Fire just fine. It’s just that in the media blitz that accompanied the release of their latest album, I’ve been seeing a lot of publicity stills of the band in the newspapers, magazines and online publications of which I am so fond. And, in addition to the Arcade Fire’s dress code, which can be best described as “Mennonite pallbearer,” I’ve noticed something.

Look at the red-headed guy. The one with the slack jaw. The one who always has to be doing something slightly and ever so self-consciously different from his more somber bandmates. His name is Richard Reed Parry (Three names! How very bookish and intellectual!). Li’l Ricky seems to think he looks adorable and quirky when he poses this way, but he just looks like an inbred geek. Sure, he’s in the Arcade Fire, but that makes it even more annoying, if that’s possible.

Like in the picture above. It’s as if the photographer said, “OK, everybody look at the camera – except you, Howdy Doody. I want you to stare distractedly into the middle distance so that everybody who sees this photo will know what a special little snowflake you are.”

Every time I see one of these images, I want to beat this fucktard with a crowbar until blood is coming out of his ears – and even then, I bet he’d still have that doofus expression on his face.

Of course, if Ricky really is retarded or something, I’ll feel bad.

13 March 2007

Great News

An Apple store is coming to Louisville, maybe perhaps possibly.

I hate to sound like one of those Apple snobs -- you know, 'cause I'm so punk rock, etc. -- but I love my Mac mini and everything associated with it. I've had it for a year and it hasn't given me any problems. Plus, it makes putting music on my iPod quite painless.

22 February 2007

'90s Revival Starts Here

If it isn’t already underway, that is.

I was listening to Nine Inch Nails’s Broken EP today in my car. Before that, Dirt by Alice in Chains. Before that, Suede’s first album. Before that, Loveless by My Bloody Valentine. I did this totally by accident, but then I realized that all these albums came out around the same time (1991-1993). Interesting.

So I started thinking about what music came out way back then. Lots of good shit, actually.

Such as:

Nirvana Nevermind and In Utero
Matthew Sweet Girlfriend
Soundgarden Badmotorfinger
XTC Nonsuch
Sugar Copper Blue
k.d. lang Ingénue
Ride Going Blank Again
Ministry Psalm 69
The Church Priest=Aura
Lush Spooky
Blur Leisure
St. Etienne Foxbase Alpha
Julian Cope Peggy Suicide
Massive Attack Blue Lines
Fugazi Steady Diet of Nothing
P.J. Harvey Dry and Rid of Me
Dr. Dre The Chronic
Tool Opiate
Morrissey Your Arsenal
Type O Negative Bloody Kisses
Smashing Pumpkins Siamese Dream
Teenage Fanclub Bandwagonesque
Urge Overkill Saturation

Of course, I imagine I could pick any random year and find 10-20 CDs that were pretty cool, but still.

And this is not to say that 1992 was a musical paradise: that was also the year that Eric Clapton put out that utterly maudlin piece of shit “Tears in Heaven” from his stripped-down Unplugged album (if, by “stripped-down” you mean three guitars, a keyboard player, a bassist, a drummer AND a percussionist plus a trio of backing vocalists – mighty gutsy of you there, Slowhand).

Where was I?

What’s funnier is that from what I recall, I was always unhappy and/or pissed off back then, and yet I’m loving this little musical trip down memory lane.

15 February 2007

Stuff Maxim in the Blender

Dennis Publishing may be putting its American titles up for sale.

I gotta give it up for Felix Dennis: He managed to build a successful magazine that catered to a demographic not known for being the most voracious of readers (of course, all the softcore porn didn’t hurt). Still, Maxim is enjoyable, mindless disposable fluff – something to read on airplanes or at the gym. Or at least it was: I haven’t read it since my “research” subscription expired six years ago (thanks, Bashar).

Maxim’s retarded little brother Stuff, on the other hand, is for guys who find the parent periodical too intellectually challenging, while Blender was originally meant to be an American version of the British music magazines I love so much (Q, Uncut) but fell short of the mark, IMHO.

If I had a few million dollars lying around, I might buy Blender. Any investors who want to bankroll my pipe dreams, contact me via this blog.

03 February 2007

Reign in Blood

You are The Devil

Materiality. Material Force. Material temptation; sometimes obsession

The Devil is often a great card for business success; hard work and ambition.

Perhaps the most misunderstood of all the major arcana, the Devil is not really "Satan" at all, but Pan the half-goat nature god and/or Dionysius. These are gods of pleasure and abandon, of wild behavior and unbridled desires. This is a card about ambitions; it is also synonymous with temptation and addiction. On the flip side, however, the card can be a warning to someone who is too restrained, someone who never allows themselves to get passionate or messy or wild - or ambitious. This, too, is a form of enslavement. As a person, the Devil can stand for a man of money or erotic power, aggressive, controlling, or just persuasive. This is not to say a bad man, but certainly a powerful man who is hard to resist. The important thing is to remember that any chain is freely worn. In most cases, you are enslaved only because you allow it.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

29 January 2007

Now You Have a Reason to Call Me "Dick"

I am:
Philip K. Dick
The brilliant yet trashy master of the reality warp always left you unsure of what was real, but never forgot compassion.

Which science fiction writer are you?

26 January 2007

Put On Your "Fugee" Face

Saw Children of Men the other day (in a theater!). I liked it.

It’s set in the nearish future. For unknown reasons, there have been no births in 18 years and the human race appears to be headed into extinction. Furthermore, wars and terrorist attacks have ravaged much of the planet, and England has become a police state where immigrants (called "fugees," just like Lauren Hill's old group) are rounded up and put into camps for deportation, or made to live in ghettos. A former radical named Theo (Clive Owen) is drawn into a shady revolutionary organization that may have the key to humanity’s future.

Again, I really enjoyed the movie, especially the soundtrack and for the kittens (aww), but I’m also always appreciative of movies that are willingly downbeat – it’s a nice respite from the standard cookie-cutter Hollywood flicks with their grafted-on happy endings.

But since I am not a person who likes children all that much – I pretty much hate them, actually – I didn’t find the movie’s bleak, oppressive milieu nearly as bleak and oppressive as I was supposed to.

23 January 2007

Blasts from the Past

Why are the negative reviews always the ones that turn out the best?

The Singles: 1996-2006

There’s a thin line between moody introspection and narcissistic self-pity, and for such a burly, scary-looking guy, Staind’s frontman Aaron Lewis is quite a whiny douchebag. From a lyrical perspective, he makes Morrissey look like David Lee Roth. But I guess if I owed my career to Fred Durst, I’d be depressed, too.

It’s not that Staind are the worst band ever; when they rock out, they’re a passable metal act. But the group’s turgid, monochromatic balladry – that is, the bulk of this compilation -- is music for bedwetters.

Closing the disc with covers of tunes by three vastly superior bands (Pink Floyd, Alice in Chains, Tool) was a huge mistake on two levels. First, it spotlights how much of Staind’s sound was swiped from Tool and Alice in Chains. Second, it underscores the mediocrity of Staind’s own material.
- - - - -
The Very Best of Sheryl Crow

For a former Wacko Jacko backing vocalist, Sheryl Crow has done pretty well for herself. Her signature blend of roots rock, folk, pop and country made her a star and allowed her to rack up hit after MOR hit in a decade-long career, plus she’s kept various former members of cult acts like David + David and Wire Train rolling in fat royalty checks and otherwise gainfully employed. Musically, Crow’s material has enough grit to allow soccer moms to feel like they’re rocking out when they buy her discs, while her compositional skills assure a solid level of quality and craft goes into every track. The consummate pro, in other words, and The Very Best of Sheryl Crow is a fine encapsulation of her career thus far. All the big hits are here, but unfortunately, so is her execrable duet with Kid Rock (“Picture”), a country tune that’s an unintentional parody of country music, but I guess that’s why God put skip buttons on CD players.
- - - - -
This is something I did that previewed a then-upcoming event. I thought it was pretty funny. Took me less than five minutes.

I always thought the Transformers were a cheap-ass Shogun Warriors rip-off, but the joke’s on Raydeen, Gaiking and Dangard Ace, because next year, a live-action Transformers movie hits the big screen. But riddle me this: Did you know that the song "You've Got the Touch," as performed by Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights, is originally from the animated 1984 Transformers movie?

Regardless, if you live and die for all things Transformers, you won’t want to miss – I shit you not – BotCon. The convention allows fans to talk shop with designers, take drawing classes, preview new figures, and most importantly, buy, sell and trade the toys around which their lives are based.

The fun runs Sep. 30-Oct 1 at the Lexington Convention Center: Bluegrass Ballroom (430 W Vine St, Lexington, Ky. – ask mom to drive you). Tickets are $9 for adults, $5 for kids (under 4: free).

02 January 2007


Year-end "Best Of!" You knew this was coming. Eventually.

The first five albums listed below are what I submitted to LEO.

The stuff after is what I submitted to the Idolator “Jackin’ Pop” poll. Thankfully, I didn’t have to write capsule descriptions for this poll.

I always miss a few CDs – I am but one man with a mere 24 hours in each day, just like you mortals -- and this year was no exception: Had I heard the Knife’s “We Share Our Mother's Health” before last week, it would’ve made my “Best Singles” list for certain. And so on.


BELLE & SEBASTIAN The Life Pursuit (Matador): A brilliantly consistent disc from a brilliantly consistent band, Pursuit added traces of glam (“White Collar Boy”), boogie rock (“The Blues Are Still Blue”) and psychedelic soul (“Song for Sunshine”) to their already impressive palette. They’re great live, too.

WOLFMOTHER (Interscope): This Aussie power trio takes damn near everything that was cool about ‘70s hard rock – power chords, heavy organ fills, white afros -- and regurgitates it for the here and now.

ARCTIC MONKEYS Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (Domino): Young, loud and snotty. Hooks aplenty. Debut of the year. Et cetera.

GOLDFRAPP Supernature (Mute) Justin Timberlake said he was bringing sexy back this year. Too bad that Allison Goldfrapp beat him to the punch: she’s 10 times sexier than that pantywaist, as “Lovely 2 C U” and “Number 1” demonstrate. Plus she could kill him with her bare hands. She wins.

TOOL 10,000 Days (Volcano): Critics who don’t really listen to much metal will genuflect over Mastodon’s Blood Mountain this year, but Tool’s record is a much more varied, coherent and ultimately, much more satisfying listen. Deal with it.


Local H, ’99-’00 Demos (G&P)

Raconteurs Broken Boy Soldiers (V2)

Your Black Star Sound from the Ground (Wonkavision)

Cold War Kids Robbers & Cowards (Downtown)

Scott Walker The Drift (4AD)


“Crazy” Gnarls Barkley

“Steady, As She Goes” Raconteurs

“Shoot the Runner” Kasabian

“Lloyd, I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken” Camera Obscura

“Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt” We Are Scientists

“So Far We Are” French Kicks

“Wolf Like Me” TV on the Radio

“Redneck” Lamb of God

“The First Vietnamese War” Black Angels

“Throw It All Away” Zero 7


Pulp This Is Hardcore (Island)

Cheap Trick Dream Police (Epic Legacy)

The Clash The Singles Box (Epic Legacy)

T. Rex Tanx (Rhino)

Depeche Mode Violator (Mute)