Saturday, December 27, 2008

Candy Cane Children


If you are as sick of Christmas music as this grinch is, you should enjoy the White Stripes' offering to the yuletide canon.

The 2002 rarity "Candy Cane Children" currently plays on the whitestripes.com homepage automatically one click past the Betty Page RIP tribute photo. The track (I believe) was released as a vinyl single only and has never appeared on any album. It's short, but sweet vintage Jack and Meg.

Photo courtesy of whitestripes.com

Friday, December 26, 2008

Lazy-length movie review: "Burn After Reading"























I finally got this in from Netflix this week, and immediately added it to #3 on the 2008 roundup blog.
It makes the year in film look a little bit better.

While watching "Burn After Reading," I couldn't help but think of the character in "Rounders" who said "If you can't spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, then you are the sucker."

That quote applies to all the idiots wheeling and dealing for a piece of questionably important intelligence, lost by John Malcovich's low-level CIA data analyst in "Burn After Reading."
But the quote might also apply to the members of its audience still waiting for the "jokes" to start as the credits began to roll. In other words, chances are you're one of the crass Americans being satirized. The Coens find the dumb in all of us, not just the crowds that flocked to "Beverly Hills Chihuahua." I'm alright with that, and then again, not everyone has the same sense of humor. People do stupid things, and the Coens have made a career of writing and filming dumb people executing extraordinarily dim-witted plans that eventually lead to their own demise.

"Burn After Reading" is funny as hell. The humor is at times as painfully black-hole biting as the Coens' darkest work, and absurd as their lightest. All of the main characters think they are sharks in a tiny pond, unaware that the pond is actually a fishbowl sitting on the desk of an indifferent owner. Brad Pitt goofs it up as a dorky physical trainer at a suburban gym, Francis McDormand plays a knuckleheaded middle-aged women who will do anything for plastic surgery, George Clooney completes his "idiot trilogy" with the Coens as a sex-addicted glorified security guard for the U.S. Treasury Department, and Malkovich is a pretentious wannabe sophisticate with delusions of grandeur. It's all way more fun than it sounds — and as one of the few sane characters says while trying to find out what all the fuss is about "they're all sleeping together."

By films end, the Coens include a few scenes of ultra violence and its near-subtle social commentary, but they never pose in political stances other than showing how mindless and inevitable violence has become in America and how little any of it makes sense.

Grade (I don't think I've kept the same scale yet): 86/100

BLACK KEYS singer/guitarist to release solo debut on 2/10


When I first heard the Black Keys in high school, it was a sort of "FINALLY! JESUS! WHY IS NO ONE ELSE MAKING THIS MUSIC ALREADY?" moment.
Perfect, low-fi scuzz guitars, blooze-soaked beyond their years vocals and monster riffs, it was pretty much perfect for a blues/Hendrix/Zeppelin loving 17-year-old, and the band's run of three albums starting with the debut "The Big Come Up" through "Rubber Factory" are pretty much perfect still. Then came "Magic Potion," while solid, sounded like a band able to conjure its signature sound with a too-easy push of a button.
2008's "Attack and Release" was the groups first record to feature a producer besides drummer Patrick Carney, employing the knob-twirler of the moment Danger Mouse (of Gnarls Barkley) to add swamp-soul synths in the back ground and otherwise act like a third member of the group. I still listed the album as one of my favorite records of '08, but frankly I was a bit disappointed. Danger Mouse might be wearing out his welcome, we'll see.

So when I heard Dan Auerbach (vocalist/guitar player) was going to release a self-produced solo disk this February (just 9 months after "Attack and Release") I was a little worried but mostly surprised. In the last few years Carney has started a record label that features ultra-obscure garage and avante guard acts, and is producing records all over the place. The fact that Auerbach is producing this himself, releasing it the Nonesuch label (not Carney's) and slid it under the radar until recently left me guessing. Is this going to be some backstabbing grasp for mainstream rock schlock? Thankfully, no. Three of the songs are available for listening on his myspace page, and they aren't that big a departure from his "Black Keys" tracks, and are in some ways stronger than some of the best on "Attack and Release." His production actually sounds closer to what I imagined Danger Mouses' would have on "Attack and Release." Anywho, it's an unexpected Black Keys bonus, even if it's missing Carney's floor-dropping backbeat. Let's hope this isn't the result of splitting tensions in the band.

Here are the myspace tracks for listen:
http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=429788739

favorite is "Trouble Weighs a Ton"

Here is his label page, with the same tracks for sample:
http://www.nonesuch.com/albums/keep-it-hid

Thursday, December 25, 2008

FIRSTIES!

Depending on the Web site, comment boards can occasionally be more interesting than the object of discussion itself. Sometimes the entertainment value lies in the irrelevant, inane or half-baked nature of the posts. But when you stumble upon safe havens for complete and articulate thought, the comment boards can actually add insight and (most importantly) sharp humor to the subject at hand. Luckily for masochists and idiots everywhere, those safe havens are few and far between. Starting with the most shit-stained comment board on the planet, YouTube, and ending with this Troll's favorite, here is the countdown of four Web sites and their message boards.

YouTube.com
The majority of Youtube commenters need to be quarantined for humanity's sake, LOL, which I guess, due to the popularity of the site, Fag!, means that the human race is no longer worthy of existence, LMAO Nobama!!!!!. YouTube can feel like a virtual playground for every snot-nosed 14-year-old know-nothing with a keyboard. A quick survey of any YouTube discussion reveals that: A.) just because someone can use Internet Explorer doesn't mean they should; B.) 9/11 was the most elaborate conspiracy ever executed by President Bush, Jews, Muslims and most notably Fags!!!; C.) everyone is a Fag; and D.) Hopefully the majority of commenters on YouTube don't accidentally stumble onto any of my favorite Web sites.

IMDB.com
(Internet Movie Database)
The most useful site for quick and easy cast/crew reference and fact checking has only slightly better boards than YouTube. It is possible to find plenty of reasonable discussions regarding themes, interpretations or insights (both good and bad) on nearly every movie ever released. But sometimes it feels like everyone else commenting on IMDB claims to be cousins with an extra who nearly made it on set and almost saw so-and-so hungover and/or visibly angry. If you aren't said cousin, then you are surely asking commenters if so-and-so shows her tits in the movie, or claims that so-and-so looks like a specific porn star or other attractive actress. Like any other site, reasonable questions are often answered with extra nasty bile and condescension. Still, I religiously check IMDB (to find what an actor's name was, etc) immediately after watching most movies, and (in the case of a lot of David Lynch films) go to the message boards for new ideas and insights into the cryptic symbols.


Amazon.com
My favorite Amazon.com product reviews are the "One Star" ratings that typically use an entire arsenal of cliches to denigrate an apparently disliked CD, movie, appliance, whatever. These usually rail against "critics and Hipsters" that tell everyone to like "total garbage" that isn't actually any good. Example: "How can you f*cking morans [sic] like the WHite Stripes?!? They are erratanting!!!! [sic]." These people are gloriously full of shit, uninspired and typically illinformed in their opinions about the genre or product.

AVclub.com
The best comment boards on the Internet belong to my favorite Web site for arts and entertainment coverage, the Onion's AV Club. Staff writers on the AV Club actually join in on the discussions below the stories, answering questions posed by readers, or occasionally defending content in the story. There has been at least one commenter who was actually offered (and accepted) a job on staff after the Web site noticed his consistently informed and witty rebuttal. Some of the funnier things I have ever read were posted by nobodies below the story. The discussions have a propensity to delve off into interesting tangents, arguments and conversation. There are even AV Club comment board celebrities, if you will. Often imitated but never replicated, ZODIAC M0THERFUCKER always types in caps, is more extreme than any other human being on the planet and would probably kill your extended family with unbridled vitriol given the chance. He doesn't comment often anymore, but the AV Club staff will email him with requests to weigh in on certain stories.

Here is one of his more inspired exchanges, from when the AV Club's Taste Test feature asked ZODIAC to provide commentary about some really spicy chips:

http://www.avclub.com/content/feature/taste_test_death_rain_habanero

The boards aren't solely for ironic nonsense, the majority of posters on the AV Club know their shit, and aren't too modest to let everyone know about it.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

2008: The Crappening (updated again on 12/28 I keep remembering things I forgot to add)

I spent a good amount of this year catching up on some of 2006 and 2007's albums that I didn't grab the first time around. 2006, in particular, was an awesome year for music. I finally listened to "The Crane Wife" by The Decemberists, "The Loon" by Tapes n Tapes and "Boys and Girls in America" by the Hold Steady. I also bought "Boxer" by the National, one of '07s best records.

Though it can't compete with the last two years, music fared better than film in 2008, and did do an OK job fulfilling its most useful purpose — distracting me from everything happening outside my front door. Some of my favorite bands released overhyped and underwhelming records (My Morning Jacket, Black Keys, Beck, Kings of Leon) but the year stayed afloat thanks to a handful of promising debuts. In fact, 2008 churned out the best crop of indie freshman in recent memory. Haunting folk by Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver hung like a thick fog, slowing down my daily chores with heavy reverb and timeless harmonies.

Vampire Weekend succeeded in reinventing the wheel, making ska and African rhythms sound fresh 25 years after art-damaged kids and popsters alike turned the same trick.

And, with the year's best singles, MGMT brought danceable Psychedelic glam-rock into dorm rooms everywhere.

Favorite albums:
1. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
Youtube video is the track "White Winter Hymnal"

2. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
Youtube track is "Cape Cod Kwasa Kwasa"

3. Bon Iver - For Emma, forever ago
Youtube video is "Skinny Love"


4. The Walkmen - You and Me
Youtube video is "In the New Year"

5. Girl Talk - Feed the Animals
Video is "Play Your part (Pt. 1)"


6. MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
Video is "Time to Pretend"
7. Dr. Dog - Fate
Video is "The Breeze"

8. Deerhunter - Microcastle
Video is "Agoraphobia"

9. Blitzen Trapper - Furr
Video is "Furr"

10. The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely
"Solute Your Solution"

11. Black Keys - Attack and Release
"I Got Mine"

12. Ponytail - Ice Cream Spiritual
"Beg Waves"


13. Hold Steady - Stay Positive
"Sequestered in Memphis"

14. TV on the Radio - Dear Science
"Dancing Choose"



15. Black Mountain - In the Future
"Wucan"


Biggest Disappointment:
My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges

Moderate Disappointments:
Beck - Modern Guilt
Gnarls Barkley - The Odd Couple
Kings of Leon - Only By the Night
Kanye West - 808s and Heartbreak
Lil' Wayne - Tha Carter III
Cold War Kids - Loyalty to Loyalty

Albums yet to be fully digested that could possibly make the list:
Okkervil River - The Stand Ins
Portishead - Third
WHY? - Alopecia
Spiritualized - Songs in A and E
Magnetic Fields - Distortion
No Age - Nouns
The Knux - Remind Me in 3 Days
Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks - Real Emotional Trash
Department of Eagles - In Ear Park
Jenny Lewis - Acid Tongue

Albums I didn't even get to:
She and Him - Vol. 1
The Kills - Midnight Boom
The Bug - London Zoo
Randy Newman - Hearts and Angels
Q Tip - The Renaissance
People Under the Stairs - Fun DMC

Heralded albums that I could give two shits about:
Hercules and Love Affair - Hercules and Love Affair
Fucked Up - Chemistry of Common Life
Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs
Coldplay - Viva La Vida

FILM

2007, and 2006, were probably the two strongest years of the decade for film. Last year had prestige films actually worthy of prestige in "No Country for Old Men," "There Will be Blood" and Zodiac, a comedy classic in "Superbad" and a good comedy in "Knocked Up."

2006 was worth it of not just for "Children of Men" and "Pan's Labyrinth." Admittedly, I didn't see many of this year's films, spent most of my Netflix que catching up on classic and obscure old movies. But, 2008 did have two of the strongest summer blockbusters in recent memory with "The Dark Knight" and "Wall-E." Other than that, the year was grim.

Favorite films of '08
1. Wall-E
2. The Dark Knight
3. Burn After Reading
4. Tropic Thunder

... and that's it

Best comedy that wasn't Tropic Thunder
Role Models

Biggest surprises
The Bank Job
In Bruges
The Foot Fist Way

Guilty Pleasure
Hitman

Disappointments
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
W

Yet to see
Slumdog Millionaire
Pineapple Express
Man on Wire


Monday, December 8, 2008

THE GRAMMMYS!!! ughhhhh ...

The Grammy Awards has backed itself into a paradoxical corner.

The artists nominated (with few exceptions) in the major categories are neither the inane pop heard on Top 40 radio stations, nor is it the critic/indie rock currently receiving the best writing and influencing serious artists of the future. Besides the two or three acts with the most nominations, the hundreds of other slots are filled by marginally acclaimed music listened to by nearly nobody. Industry types assume that an acclaimed indie band wont bring the ratings, but they would feel silly giving (fill in the top 40 name blank) an award for Record of the Year . Finding interesting popular music to give awards to is nearly an impossible task. No one buys a Christina Aguilera CD because Pitchfork (they would never) gave it a good review. But poeple will tune into the awards show if Xtina is peforming, same goes for J. Lo, whoever else is hot ... im dating myself ... shit.

The nominations fill the void between cutting-edge brainy rock and soulless T-Pain executions, and land somewhere in Starbucksland. In other words, the nominations are as safe as telling Grandma that you like her pumpkin pie - acoustic guitars rule (along with 4/4 song structures) and any female vocalist needs to sound slightly less edgy or interesting than Amy Winehouse.

I don't think anyone worth a shit was raving about Jason Mraz's new album. You can put it on in the background and not offend your frumpy aunt, but it's not going to inspire any creative thought or new perspectives about music or the world. Same goes for Coldplay, who's "Viva La Vida" was only slightly less bland than "X and Y" and "Rush of Cold Blood to the Head." These are the kind of nominations you get when the pop-country bunch, ring-tone rap and auto-tuned R 'n' B are the top-selling genres and the best sounding artists print 80,000 copies of their albums on tiny labels. The Grammys simply split the difference and nominate Coldplay, which is popular enough with soccer moms who refuse to admit that they are, in fact, soccer moms. Nominations for Adelle, Duffy, Mraz and even Plant and Krause are for big corporate acts that long to be indie, the rock 'n' roll version of in-denial soccer moms. Some of the acts - Coldplay - are actually pretty popular and can fill stadiums. Others - Adelle and Duffy - are simply on major labels that try to promote them as something big when really I don't think anyone is listening to more than maybe their single.

But, the Grammys have always been afraid to go out on a limb, or be in on any current or future trends. That's how you end up with Jethro Tull winning best Metal album over Metallica in 1990. With our short memories, obvious past mistakes such as the Tull/Metallica debacle are often white-washed by the fuzzy glow of romanticism. People are relentlessly nostalgic about pop's past (why can't music - that actually sells - be as good as it was in the '60s? blah blah blah). While there is some truth to that idea, I don't remember the Clash winning album of the year for "London Calling" in '77, or N.W.A. winning in '88. The Grammys would always rather be safe than sorry, even if the year's most offensive album is the most relevant and influential. (I can see why the Grammys would not like to award an album containing "Fuck the Police,," as its stand out track, as best album of the year - but it did sort of popularize a little thing called gangster rap.)

There is also a reason Lief Garret and the Partridge Family are still popping up on VH1 circle-jerk sessions - people listened to a lot of horrible fucking music back in the day, too.

So the Grammys have always been a little behind, but the lag only becomes more apparent as the glaring riff widens between what's "interesting/good/creative/accomplished, etc" (at least defined by the Pitchfork/hipster/critic crowd) and what's "popular" (at least according to the Jonas Brothers set.)

Side note: When did tweens become the American barometer for pop? Isn't it universally accepted that tweens are the least cool age to be - i.e. - wannabe teens with childish reflexes? Have you ever been in a middle school? I don't think even middle school kids like middle school kids. If anything else, their recent choices for entertainment have been dubious at best - High School Musical, WTF? ).

Admittedly, the Grammys did seem to do slightly better this year than past, but barely. The nominating commitee threw folks like myself a few bones. But M.I.A. most likely would not have received a nom if the "Pineapple Express" trailer didn't introduce "Paper Planes" to sorority girls everywhere. Little Wayne was one of the nomination leaders. "Tha Carter III" - was a good album, but it doesn't hold a stick to other hip-hop monuments. Radiohead received a bunch of nods. Kings of Leon did also, for probably the worst song the band has recorded, "Sex on Fire," off the band's weakest LP so far. And with the Grammys weird-ass calender, 2007's Radiohead's album feels like ancient history.

The category that really exploits the Grammys overall lack of fresh opinion is "Best New Artist." The obvious omissions strike the heart of this entire rant. The debut by the Fleet Foxes is my favorite record of the year (in any category). They are a bunch of 22-year-old Seattle kids that construct baroque-folk melodies and harmonies as rich as anything by the Beach Boys, CSNY or (more recently) Band of Horses. I'm not the only one, the album has one of the year's highest scores on Metacritic.com (an average of critic reviews across the country). Vampire Weekend, whose debut might just be my second favorite album of the year wasn't nominated either, neither was MGMT. Here's who was nominated: Adele, Duffy, Jonas Brothers, Lady Antebellum and Jazmine Sullivan. Who the fuck is Jazmine Sullivan? I subscribe to three music magazines and check at least 3 or 4 music Web sites daily and have never heard of her or her music. Duffy and Adele are preprocessed, over-hyped, over-packaged Winehouse-lites, and The Jonas Brothers have already been popular on the Disney channel for at least three years.

I will only be watching the Grammys this year if I can score some really pure heroin, or have been in a debilitating car wreck and rejoice at any opportunity to kill four hours.

Of course this rant is deflated by simply saying "Your entire look at the Grammys is warped through the lens of your own tastes."

And my answer is: my tastes are better, and you should know that already.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Get Smart



I'm going to keep this brief.
"Get Smart" was fucking awful. 
It didn't get very good reviews, but I figured Steve Carell could at least drag its bloated carcass to the finish line. Not so. The film should have been fucking massacred by critics, straight "Fs" and one-star reviews from every known film scribe would have been appropriate. Unfunny, incoherent, inconsistent and irritating. The film's lazy, cliched hackery makes the rest of the bile that rolls out of Hollywood look like art. "Get Smart" has has no respect for the audience, treats you like shit, asks for a reach around and hopes you have never seen another movie to compare it to, ever.
That is all.

P.S. The movie fucking sucks

P.P.S. Anne Hathaway is hot.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The annals of bad taste: "Pink Flamingos"

The latest entry in the series that's slowly taking over the-blog-that-no-one-reads is the mother of all tasteless and trashy media. Without Pink Flamingos, there would not be a Jackass or Borat. But most people probably recommend the execution of its director/producer/writer John Waters after viewing, or at least demand their previously virgin minds back. I would never recommend this film to anyone with a soul.

When people discuss the most disgusting scene in "Pink Flamingos," they usually reference Divine eating shit seconds after it tumbles out of a dog's asshole.


So, ordering the notorious John Waters 1972 trash classic from Netflix, I figured that would be the pinnacle scene (or nadir, I don't even know any more) of filthy behavior perpetrated by Divine and her cohorts. Everything else in the film would be a little less extreme. I figured, "hey it can't be much worse than 'Jackass,' and it was made 30 years ago, how shocking could it really be?"


I was wrong. There are two scenes in particular, plenty more foul than said shit-eating scene, that I will never be able to un-watch. If people really wanted to mention the most disgusting scenes in the film, they would have to admit to watching some sick shit, and that's how you end up with me and my three buddies, which now have a shared, scarred experience — similar to the recent South Park where the gang can't get images of Indiana Jones getting raped out of their heads after seeing the most recent film in the franchise. You know how your parents seemed to walk in on the worst part of any movie growing up, even innocent ones? Well, they could walk in on just about any second of this film and disown you forever.


But the film is a cultural touchstone, released around the same time as "Deep Throat." "Pink Flamingos" is not pornography in the traditional sense, but it's definitely pornographic. "Pink Flamingos" allowed the freaks and assorted counter cultures to go to an art house theater in a big city, and see some truly envelope-pushing shit, roll around in it together and enjoy the stench. The acting is terrible, possibly purposefully so, the film is grainy and the camera is shaky. It's the kind of movie Rob Zombie probably grew up watching (Along with the "Last House on the Left"). In fact, you can see influence from "Pink Flamingos," even though it's a black comedy, all over the "Devils Rejects" and even some mainstream horror affair — i.e — people doing horrible and freakish things to others and themselves just 'cuz.


The plot revolves around a couple, one red haired and one blue, who are deeply offended when they learn that Divine (the main character) is regarded as the filthiest person alive. They take the very idea that anyone could be filthier than them as a personal affront. For instance, the couple's main source of income involves kidnapping hitchhikers, ordering their servant to impregnate them, and then selling the babies to lesbian couples.


The couple's first act of vengeance is mailing Divine a piece of shit gift wrapped in a nice bow and shiny paper. Not to be outdone, Divine and her two grown children embark on a quest of stunts to prove that they are, still, the filthiest people alive.


In short, as my friend said, "that was disgusting, but I'm glad I saw it." I wouldn't use the word "glad," but when its over you feel like you just returned to your own brain. I would not recommend watching "Pink Flamingos," unless you know everyone you are watching it with wont hate you forever. I'm pretty sure one of my friends will need counseling, and isn't that the highest praise anyone could ever give glorified trash?


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The annals of bad taste: "Bad Lieutenant"


"Bad Lieutenant" is the second entry in my ongoing list of films festering in politically-incorrect humor, action, sex, themes, with or without shoddy production values. The first entry, 2007's "Postal" was a self-serious disaster directed by hack-extraordinaire Uwe Boll.

1992's "Bad Lieutenant" is artful yet unsubtle film making. It belongs in the Annals of Bad Taste not because of the quality of work, but because of the content.


Within the first 25 minutes of "Bad Lieutenant," Harvey Keitel's titular character smokes crack, draws his cop buddies into an illegal gambling racket, has a threesome with two lesbians and encourages misogynistic behavior in his two grade-school age sons.

And those are the easy-to-watch scenes. The film not only earns its NC-17 rating, but dives headfirst into a pool of dead MPAA member's severed heads.
I don't know if it was because I was so taken back by the sharp abrasiveness of the film, or if it was never mentioned, but I don't even know what Keitel's character's name was, or where his bank statements are mailed to. One night he sleeps at the aforementioned three-some crowd's crib, the next he stays at some heroine-chic looking model type's who loves to freebase, and the next he's staying over at his Mom's house.

To say Keitel's character has friends is an exaggeration at best. The man displays an impenetrable shell to the other police investigators. But, all his cracks start on the inside, and they grow more obtuse until you can nearly see him splitting open.
The film is firmly rooted in its early '90s setting with a Dodgers/Mets National League Championship Series used as one of the few clues to how many days have passed. Throughout the film, and during many of its scenes void of any dialogue, the games are broadcast in the background on the car radio, or on a bar TV. Watching the Dodgers continue to lose as Keitel digs a deeper whole effectively adds tension and suspense throughout its hour-and-a-half run time. Director Abel Ferrera allows viewers to follow the baseball series without characters talking about it incessantly throughout the film. As his gambling debts begin to build, and he levies his debts from the previous NLCS game double-or-nothing on the next, bookies, drugs and his job close in tighter with each passing minute.

"Bad Lieutenant" is a character study, one that throws around religious imagery, drugs and sex with equal abandon. But character studies still need a plot, even if it is barely used to progress the film's events. "Bad Lieutenant's" excuse for existence hinges on the rape of a nun, its forcing of Keitel to revisit his Catholicism and eventually his slurred, yet charmed investigation into the crime.

This is not a movie to actually like, or even one to endure again, but it can be respected. No other film, besides "Requiem for a Dream," can claim such brutal honestly in its depiction of addiction. There is one scene that I don't feel comfortable describing in detail. Let's just say it involves Keitel repeatedly asking a pair of 15 year-old-girls, pulled over for not having a license, if they have ever (rhymes with bucked) a man's (rhymes with sock), before progressing onto sexual acts.

Ferrara is known for his uncompromising, gritty film making. His best known work, "King of New York" was nearly cartoonishly violent and over-the-top — think "New Jack City" but with more Uzi's and a scene-chewing lead performance by Chris Walken. "Bad Lieutenant" takes an ugly character, gouges out your eye balls with his likeness and ends with a morally interesting yet ambiguous and baffling decision. Is he redeemed? Can anyone be redeemed? Is forgiveness greater than justice, even if that forgiveness is selfish? Ferrara leaves it in the hands of the viewer to decide.

PS I just learned this is being remade by Werner Herzog with Nicholas Cage staring, not kidding ... fear for your eyes.

here is the original's trailer:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I WIN! I'M THE MOST POWERFUL PERSON IN THE WORLD!


Back on July 5 I gave a Colbertian wagging of the finger to Fandango for purchasing and then dismantling movies.com in an attempt to absorb its millions of users.
I took upon the Herculean task of sending angry emails to fandango, asking, no - demanding, that they bring back Mike's Buzz Bin and movie reviews by that Dave White guy. Well, ladies and gentleman, I received an email from Fuckdango this week: Movies.com is bringing back Mike's Buzz Bin and reviews by Mr. White.

These turn of events prove that, once again, I am the most powerful man in the world. My classically trained typing digits posses more clout than Paul Reuben, Fab Morvan, Rob Pilatus and Courtney Love - combined.

If there are any other world-plaguing injustices plaguing your limp, week and completely ineffectual little index fingers out there, I, Fred McSchmeckinstien, will write angry letters to anyone for the small fee of $1,000. It is time I use my powers for a greater good - capitalism!
Next on the list (if anyone pays me the per-letter fee) Henry Paulson, Mugabe, any Arab leaders, every citizen in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and Afghanistan, all of you racists in Pennsylvania still clinging to guns and religion (I couldn't resist).

note: dammit, talking about Blandango on my blog again will probably trigger my advertisement bar to include fuckdango ads again

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Epic Fail

Dear 25 percent of Americans that still support George W. Bush, and/or 40 percent of Americans voting for John McCain:

Your movement is dying a slow and painful death.
It may spring back to life in 8, 12 or whatever years, but it's failed miserably and you are part of the minority still clinging to policies that have resulted in massive spike-covered earthworms eating away at Americans' rectal cavities.

Have you been irked by Obama's success? All media has to do is report what's going on in our country and around the world and of course it will appear negative towards McCain, he stands for all the same bullshit that has gotten us here in the first place — even with the incredibly incompetent 24/hour news media, no matter how they try to screw it up with the endless news cycle beating gaffes into your forehead and stretching half-truths and confusing opinions for facts.

Sure, there have been Democrats that haven't helped (Chris Dodd, Murtha ...) but they don't, at least in principle, represent the crumbling tower of Babel.

Simply reporting what is going on in this country looks bad for McCain and that is why Obama is destroying in the polls and many people are finally not voting against their own economic interests. If Wall Street hadn't collapsed, perhaps the Rovian tactics of fear and Evangelical base-stirring could have led the blind to another weaker-than-the-original-yet-still-diabolical Regan facsimile. Palin can try to divide America all she wants between lines of "real-Americans" and, ahem, whatever a "fake American" is, but it wont work. Americans' check books still need to be balanced, houses need to be paid, and giving more tax breaks to large corporations with more pull that any branch of government just isn't going to cut it. (And neither is stopping gays from getting married).

Your movement has failed so miserably that your own candidate, John McCain, claims he will try to change it. He is part of the incumbent party, yet he's co-opted the reform party's slogan, "change."

Lets have a quick summery:
Pre-emptive war and regime change to create a domino effect of democracy in mideast: Fail

Supposed reasons for going into iraq: Fail

Deregulation of banks and lack of government oversight of Wall Street: fail

trickle down economics (Bush's tax cuts): epic fail

Bush's plan to privatize social security: thank god we didn't give it the chance to fail or even more people's retirements would be tied up in sinking markets

diplomatic relations with Russia: currently failing

diplomatic relations with Iran: fail

diplomatic relations with N. Korea: I have no idea

finding Osama bin Laden and stabilizing Afghanistan: fail

diplomatic relations Pakistan: soon to fail

the troop "surge": successful solution to unnecessary problem .. hey! a half success!

leaving office better than you found it: fail

PS: If you think trickle down economics and lack of oversight of Wall Street didn't help to cause today's problems, then you must surely believe that poor people caused the crises.

note: I copy/pasted part of this entry from things I wrote in a facebook message. So, if I ever yearned for any respect/credibility/whatever, I will never attain it and remain a hack forever.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Peaches and Cream (know what I mean?)


I recently watched the excellent 2000 Brit gangster flick "Sexy Beast," and it introduced me to a band called The Stranglers, by way of their 1977 hit "Peaches." (It's the song that plays at the very beginning when the chubby main character is sunbathing by the pool.)
See how this works, one greasy piece of entertainment leads to another ...

Anywho, all it takes is the word "peaches" and I'm thinking about the Presidents of the United States of America. So, in honor of my favorite band in 4th grade, here's a list of my favorite food pyramid (fruit portion) inspired tracks:

The Stranglers - Peaches.
The bass line grooves like some proto-garage soul strut while the singer (whoever he is) sneers like Mick Jagger with more contempt than sex. The organ plops around, and before you can ask yourself how a California quasi-punk band could find such a groove, the singer (whatever his name is) is making near farting noises in what sounds like a vocoder. Whatever.

The Presidents of the United States of America - Peaches
Not to be outdone by the Stranglers, POTUSA still gets thrown on mix CDs occasionally, when I'm feeling really frisky. I will always love this song
they were made, by a man, in a factory ... downtown ...

A Tribe Called Quest - Bonita Applebum
This is the first Tribe song I heard, before I listened to any hip hop, I thought it was good then, but was confused - the only "hip hop" I knew was the shiit on the radio.
Years later I heard "Can I Kick It?" and "Scenario," went and got most of their songs, and realized these were the dudes I saw on TV when I was like 10 singing "Bonita Applebum." I can still see that video, Q-tip and crew in flannel, hiphoppin around, the sound stuck in my brain, man.

Bright Eyes - Bowl of Oranges
I don't really care for bright eyes, he's always sounded a little more dickless than Dylan. This is more along the Neutral Milk Hotel side of his sound, and its a great song.

Marvin Gaye and/or Creedance Clearwater Revival - Heard it Through the Grape Vine
This has to be one of the most covered songs of all time. Even the least musically inclined can probably hear that bass line in between their clogged ears.

Herbie Hancock - Watermellon Man
Contrary to a joke in "Tommy Boy," Herbie Hancock was not one of the USA's founding fathers. But he did record some of the best jazz and funk of the century, this included.

Booker T and the MGs - Green Onions
OK, onions are probably vegetables, I don't really have a clue, but this is one of the all time classics.
Stax's house band was in full effect with this, one of the most indelible, cool-as-ice mother fucking instrumentals to ever grace the organ, drums, bass and guitar. You might not know it by name, but you know the riff when you hear it.

Spoon - You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb
"Cherry Bomb" is one of the best tracks off of the band's 2007's near perfect "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga." How does Spoon mix so many seemingly incompatible sounds and make it sound like effortless pop? This one's throws it all in - the band's first time use of Stax style horns (surprise! It's a list from Ed, I can't go three paragraphs without mentioning Stax), Brit Daniel's always clever but concise songwriting, precise production, very danceable '80s drum beat and post-punk guitar ... wazzle wazzle wazzle ... he must be crazy CUTTING PRICES LIKE THAT!

The Beatles - Strawberry Fields Forever
Haunting nostalgia, beautiful, there's nothing left to say about the Beatles. I believe this song is about one of the fab four's grammar schools.

The Runaways - Cherry Bomb
I really wanted to leave this off the list but it's too damn sexy.

The White Stripes - Apple Blossom
This one just stomps around in all its lo-fi glory, good, not great.

Missed the cut
112 - Peaches and Cream, Beck - Peaches and Cream, Jack Johnson - Banana Pancakes, Gwen Stefani - Hollaback Girl, Warrant - Cherry Pie

Monday, September 22, 2008

The annals of bad taste: "Postal"


Welcome to a new (and hopefully recurring) feature here at the blog-that-no-one-reads, I will joyfully watch films that bathe in the fermenting stew of bad-taste and hopeless shit and dick jokes. We'll start with a newer film, "Postal," the latest English-language travesty from German director Uwe Boll.

It's the wholly unique, completely stupid vision that sets "Postal" apart from the rest of the direct-to-DVD and limited-release litter. Director Uwe Boll's absolute dedication to adolescent, bloody story telling really shoves "Postal" down your throat, whether you want it or not. The film is not a side-tossed idea directed by a studio machine with minimal artistic control and no wriggle room. It wasn't pushed out in response to a marketable trend, with a title that sounds similar to a current blockbuster. It not only aims to entertain, the film actually attempts to make you think, something Boll should have sat long and hard on before he rushed over to the type-writer.

Boll actually poured his heart and soul into the film and crammed every inch of geopolitical and religious commentary he could into so-called themes and plot points. Then again, the director is as known for his video-game adaptation movies as he is for his exploitation of an obscure German tax loophole that allows him to make bank off failed movies. (apparently "Postal" is also a video game adaptation, but have no idea what the two have in common.)

All it takes is five minutes of "Postal" to understand why he has more haters than Rachael Ray, and less talent than Pauly Shore and Steven Baldwin have career sense. The man has challenged his critics to fight on countless occasions, but after his cameo in "Postal" I don't think any vitamin-D deficient scribes are going to take him up on the offer. He looks like one of the Eurotrash goons in Die Hard — slightly silly, yet still menacing (and of course frighteningly German). According to the avclub.com, "major talent agencies refused to let their actors appear in the film on the grounds that the script was too 'disgusting, insulting and over-the-top' for their clients. Many of the actors Boll wanted passed, and distributors refused to take the film out of fear of being attacked by Islamic fundamentalists." Boll thinks the whole world is against him because he speaks the truth, not diarrhea.

He sandwiches his social commentary and political messages between boobs, ultra-violence, dick jokes and girls in bikinis stealing plush male-anatomy dolls called "Krotchys." The bikini-clad bimbos work for a New Age cult leader named "Uncle Dave," [Dave Foley, (how the hell did he wind up in this mess)]. Uncle Dave is in some trouble with the IRS, and he wants to capitalize on "Krotchy's" beanie-baby like craze after he steals the dolls. But, Osama bin Laden and the rest of his homicidal home boys are also after the dolls. Al Qaeda plans to insert vials of Bird Flu into the dolls and then distribute them on a mass scale. "Uncle Dave" is Boll's primary vehicle to smash religion and the lemmings that follow both Christ and Christ-like figures off the figurative cliff. The slams are all far-from-subtle and played-out, or at best, poorly executed.

Boll portrays the terrorists as a bunch of incompetent but American-English speaking, white-collar dudes with extensive keffiyeh collections, and a direct phone line with President Bush who's always helping them out of bullet-ridden jams. It's a scenario that could have produced some good gags, but instead all you get are a few forced smirks. They also film their video releases on a sound stage in a warehouse, fake cave walls and all. One noticeably handicapped terrorist is always crawling around on the ground and looking, well, generally retarded.

Thrown in the middle is the protagonist, named only as "Postal Dude" [Zack Ward, (who?)]. He hates his job, hates his town and really hates his three-thousand-pound wife who's always shaking the family double-wide with some other tooth-challenged neighbor. The most bearable parts of the movie involve Postal Dude's painful existence — a job interview with a psychopathic boss and his evil secretary, a Jersey shore type who always hassles Dude for bus money. But that honeymoon from inane plotting goes out the window when Dude goes all Rambo, shoots terrorist, blows up trailers and jumps on Foley's stuffed-animal-stealing bandwagon. When Dude stops the action to give a 5 minute speech detailing his thoughts on humanity, pointless violence, and the need to come together, he only stops to mercilessly mow down the remaining citizenry.

Like everything in Boll's universe, "Postal" is uneven and out-of-touch with reality. He must have really looked deep and stripped himself of all self-awareness to achieve some zen-like level of cluelessness. When a black cop executes an elderly Asian lady with a shotgun for sitting at a green light through two cycles, the cop says defensively, "She called me a n*****." According to the avclub.com, Boll called the scene his special moment to himself because of his hate for slow (specifically) Asian drivers.

The shootouts and action sequences almost always boil down to Dude waiting for the bad guys to run out of bullets, before stepping out from behind a car/dumpster to shoot all the baddies with a machine gun. For a movie with such a high body count, there really isn't one inspired moment of fight choreography or impressive set design.

The relentless poor taste, irreverence and overall disregard of societal norms would be accepted by me with open arms, if it was funny. But it's not. It's shock humor at its most base level, and political at its most juvenile. Though it does get a few Annals of Bad Taste Bonus Points (ABTBPs) for the sheer number of children struck in the chest and head by stray AK bullets. The kid body count was at least 15.

Film: 1/10
Annals of Bad Taste score (comparative to others movies with similar taste): 3/10

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Radio Raheeeeem

the only part really worth watching in this entire movie.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Baseball and Star Wars


There are so few shared cultural experiences.
It's a fact that becomes more apparent every time I try to relate to anyone about culture, even so-called popular culture. We all exist in different bubbles of taste — different television channels to surf, different Web sites saved as favorites. I don't even know about many of the same bands my musically-inclined friends like. I scour the internet daily to find new artists, listen to new albums, and it's still hard to connect with many people on anything, even music. Pitchfork.com reviews new albums everyday, most of which never appear in the mainstream media outlets — Entertainment Weekly — etc. Even more discouraging, the same albums often don't even appear in other indie publications.

But when I go to a Cub's game and walk around Wrigleyville, everyone has the same purpose — watch the Cubbies win, drink beer, eat hot dogs, yell at the umpires, high-five. That social animal instinct comes out. I should be running in a pack! I should be participating in group think! It's my nature, man ...

Arriving on the North side, you feel like you belong to something, even if it is only for a few hours, and you aren't even really from Chicago. But when the all the cheering and parading is over, you can't help but feel like a sucker. The cliched complaints come out in full force. Did I really just spend more than a hundred dollars on a ticket and concessions? Did I really just use $50 worth of gas to watch grown men run around in a circle and hit a ball with a bat? I just spent a half a week's worth of pay. The owners and players and managers continue to earn millions, but are still hungry for more. Is this the cost today to have a simple, shared cultural experience?

Why is it appealing to shell out that kind of cash for something so superficial? My meager salary is a year's work worth less than Alex Rodriques' payout for one game. It all comes back to that shared cultural experience. For those few hours, I was a part of something bigger, there were 40,000 fans united momentarily for one silly purpose. The same thing that can make a concert more than just music.

Maybe it's because there are some things ingrained into my psyche as a little boy that I will always enjoy, even when I know they are silly and ultimately unsubstantial — baseball, Star Wars and hot chocolate. So even while my attitude rises and falls like an uppercut hitter's swing, I can't help but enjoy going to baseball games. It's a feeling a colder, more rational person would level.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

PAKISTAN, SCHMAKISTAN

THIS IS A DRAFT, FINISH LATER

Well, the story has been buried all day, but Pakistan has ordered its army to fire upon US troops if we violate the country's borders again.

We sure know how to treat our allies.

It was revealed this week that President Bush signed off on the cross-border attacks this summer. Initially just bombing raids, each one became more brazen until US commando boots actually touched ground in Pakistan on Sept. 3. There have been repeated reports of U.S. drone aircraft striking militant targets, most recently on Sept. 12.
Our cross border attacks were aimed at Al Queda but more often than not maimed citizens. President Bush does not have respect for any other country's borders. Pakistan hasn't been doing enough to bring law to it's borders with Afghanistan. but they have been making striodes, sending over 100,000 troops into he region. Instead of working with them, we work around them.

Pakistan's pro-US government is the only thing that keeps its citizens from openly aiding the tAl Queda and Taliban. Pakistan's government maintains a huge political risk every day it's in allegiance with the US, and yet we piss it away. The Taliban in Afghanistan would love to expand into Pakistan, and by crossing broders without Pakistani assitance, we are helping the Taliban gain the popularity with Pakistanis it needs to do precicly that.

When I see shit, I follow the smell and more often than not it leads to George W. Bush's doorstep.
He plays my favorite game: how many wars can one President start/instigate?
He has two in seven years. Can he tack on Pakistan in his final at bat? If he's really ambitious there's still time to rile up Iran. And if we're really lucky Kim Jong Il will finally die from that stroke, and a real nutbag will take his place and reclaim its spot on our Axis of Evil shit list.

His cock-sure bravado cowboy act has gotten Mayberry in a real gee-golly pickle this time.

Here is the AP story:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080916/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan

Monday, September 15, 2008

Unfettered Paranoia: A User's Guide


Released this week, Itunes 8.0 comes with a friendly little devise called "Genius."
When I initiated its painfully long start up procedure, the first item of business was "gathering information about your itunes library."
OK, I can deal with that.
Item number 2, "sending information to Apple."

Ahhhhhh
!

Is Genius devouring the digital souls of every computer in America, preceding the unstoppable singularity that instigates the impending war between man and machine? Will we have to blacken the sky to cut off their solar power supply? Oh my God, Genius is coinciding with our green attempts to use more solar and wind power. They will use our own environmentally friendly devises against us for power. That's just mean.
We will have to find a way TO STOP THE WIND TOO.
We never should have turned it on.... oh the humanity... the HUMANITY!
Once we hit the switch we could nveer goooo baaaack, what have we done?
I don't want to be a battery.

Will Genius turn me into an electronic zombie? Will Genius know what song I want to listen to before I do?
Will Genius make fun of me for having a couple albums on my hard drive no one should know about?
Will that annoying Apple guy (Justin Long) from the Apple vs PC ads personally come to my house and create playlists on my computer?

If Genius's diabolical electrons and nucleus logo doesn't tip off some Umbrella Corporation-like deceivery, I don't know what will.

I crush interns with the full mass and anger of my size 15 stompers. every. year.


Last week was Walmart week, this week is nameless, but it continues September's theme of nothing in our meaningless existence changing, ever.


At this time a year ago I was an intern reporter for the Peoria Journal Star.
They trained me in a variety of beats. I got experience writing as a cops reporter, covering local political matters, etc. But mostly I was resigned to the purgatory of featurizing festivals and Civic Center events.


"Hey, just have the intern cover it."

The bizarre thing is, these events happen. every. year. with the same organizers, the same place and the same fund raising goals. They could print last year's article into perpetuity, just changing the date every year.

So now when I read the Journal Star, I read about the same events happening at the same places, for the same reasons, only now its written by another faceless intern with a byline. Every week I partially relive my senior year by reading some hideously bland article about an Alzhiemers Walk.

It's an out-of-body experience. Like it's still 2007, but now there are 2 Ed McMenamins, one writing cheesy articles about cat fashion shows (really) and the other working in Pekin and reading said cheesy articles.

On the sane side of things, it's fun to read the articles about the "Black Expo" and "Fiesta en el Rio" and see how much mental torture and anguish it took for the new intern to wring out 14 inches of newsprint. You can almost smell the embarrased sweat dripping onto the keyboard.

Typically my reaction is as follows: Open paper ... think, "oh my god I forgot all about this event/cat fashion show, it was so horrible I blocked it from memory until now." Audibly chuckle, and then think "I was so much better than this lame intern, I made this event/cat fashion show sound almost interesting."

Take that, intern.

As if I needed another reminder that things don't change, they just become more irritating.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Walmart week, pt.2


I walked out of a Walmart yesterday and didn't know what city I was in, really. Like when you wake up after spending the night in a bed out of town - the temporary confusion and burgeoning panic quelled only after a few moments concentration. It's only a slight exaggeration. In fact, I was in Pekin, Il, but I had to remind myself. Actually, it could have been Peoria, maybe it was Springfield.

Whenever I enter a Walmart I always feel like I've left reality. Shelves are almost comically tall - a Tim Burton architectural perversion - isle lengths are impossible marathons, customers are humorless roadblocks. Drifting around in a florescent bulb nocturnal state, the bright lights and white ceiling nearly put me into a consuming sleepwalk. I can't process all the blinding stimulation, so I tune it out.

This was a special Walmart, it had a McDonalds inside. A McDonalds inside a Walmart is like the golden Turducken feast of a banal existence.

I walked out and everything was the same, or maybe different as everything else, or maybe both. This is not an original idea, but it's still true. The people were fat. I mean impossibly fat, as they are everywhere. Have you ever just sat in a car and watched Americans walk into a shopping center? You can go ten in a row without finding someone who doesn't have type 2 diabetes. I'm in the worst shape of my life but I can still fit between my seat and the steering wheel. I walked out, and there was a Radioshack to the right, a little satellite shopping center with a Gamestop farther to the left. It all sat under gray sky that blended in with the never ending parking lots.

This story has no point. I hadn't been flying, I didn't have jet lag. I was tired. I had been in one too many Walmarts, eaten one to many McRibs, and it finally all congealed into one momentary lack of bearing.

Walmart week, pt. 1

According to the AP, Christina Aguilera has become the latest musician to release an album exclusively through one retailer.
The AP reports:

"The multiplatinum singer announced Wednesday that her greatest hits CD "Keeps Gettin' Better — A Decade of Hits" will be released only at Target. The CD, out Nov. 11, will feature two new songs as well as rerecorded versions of two other hits, "Genie in a Bottle" and "Beautiful."
Aguilera is following a growing list of acts who have struck exclusive deals with retailers. Wal-Mart has had huge success with similar deals with The Eagles, Journey, and Garth Brooks; AC/DC's October release of "Black Ice" will be available only at Wal-Mart, its affiliated Sam's Club and the band's Web site. The Eagles comeback album, "Long Road Out of Eden," was the third-best selling CD of 2007 with 2.6 million copies sold.
Target exclusively released John Legend's "Live from Philadelphia" in January and has had other exclusive releases of special edition albums by the likes of Alicia Keys and Carrie Underwood."


At first I was worried I wouldn't be able to find all the albums I read about in Tiger Beat for sale at the Disney Store.
But, if all pop albums and saggy-skinned classic-rock comebacks can be consolidated at Walmart and Target, my most favorite places to buy music, I like won't have to shop anywhere else ever again!
But how will I ever choose between the Eagle's newest dick-shrinking cringe fest and Christina's new versions of "Genie in a Bottle" and "Beautiful?" I won't have to. I'll buy both ... at convenient locations!

But seriously folks, this is the first thing the music industry has done right in about 25 years. Quarantining all the music no one should ever hear in one sterile and safe shopping environment can only be good for the rest of us on this side of the cultural divide. I can pretend it doesn't even exist.
Nearly every CD sold at Walmart (The Eagles, Bon Jovi, Jessica Simpson) is the same bastardization of whatever the hell "country" means now — a grating pop song with a with a hint of twang ... about "down home stuff"... without an urban beat — I guess.
So, all the music sounds and looks the same and it's all sold in same giant store where all the customers smell and taste the same. Like chicken.

In related news, Darius Rucker is releasing a solo country album — that's Hootie, from Hootie and the Blow Fish, the black one in that really white band. You know, that guy they only recently let onto golf courses without having to pretend he's carrying the drummer's clubs.
AP reports, "His timing is good for crossing over. Country radio seems wide-open with Jewel, the Eagles and Bon Jovi all finding success. Besides Rucker, this week's Billboard country Top 10 also includes Kid Rock's "All Summer Long."

OMG OMG OMG, I bet I can find it all at Walmart!

Post Script: If anyone can come up with a catchy genre name for the "country" music recorded by pop and rock acts and sold at Walmart I'll give you a big, platonic yet sensual hug. I can't come up with anything good, here are a few half-hearted attempts:
"Fauxntry"
"Fauxntry Western"
"County Walmartstern"
"Crap"

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Randy Newman playlist


Randy Newman has a new album of pop music out this month, his first in like 9 years or something (I don't feel like looking it up).

For those of you that only know him as the "You Got a Friend in Me" singer from "Toy Story" or a punch line from that one "Family Guy" episode, you are missing one of the most sarcastic, hilarious and satirical singer/songwriters of the last 50 years. His words from the '70s never sounded better, and since I don't have his new CD yet, I'm just gonna go ahead and write about his old shiit. Admittedly, I don't own his entire catalog, and for anyone that actually lived during his heyday this list might seem a little base and obvious, whatever.

1. "Political Science"
Aptly scrapes the war hawks and uber-nationalist blowhards that would have nuked Korea, China, Vietnam, USSR and probably Iraq and Iran too if given the chance.
I want to just c/p the whole lyrics, but I'll pick two stanzas:

"We'll save Australia / Don't wanna hurt no kangaroo / We'll build an All American amusement park there / They got surfin', too / Boom goes London and boom Paris / More room for you and more room for me / And every city the whole world round / Will just be another American town / Oh, how peaceful it will be / We'll set everybody free / You'll wear a Japanese kimono / And there will be Italian shoes for me

2. "Rednecks"
Like any classic Newman song, the irony and sarcasm get so wound around itself by the end of the song that you can't do anything but laugh and smile at the end of the world and its accompanying stupidity. You wouldn't even be able to sing this song without offending some bird-brained soccer mom. I'll let you look up the lyrics or listen to it yourself. Fucking perfect.

3. "Rider in the Rain"
I could be missing something here, but this might be Newman in sincere mode. It's a little country, no piano, just lap-steel guitar, horse trottin' guitar, drums and easy goin' backing vocals.

4. "I Love LA"
On the surface this sounds like a slice of '80s Huey Lewis and the News schlockin' pop. It's been used in countless feel good movies and maybe even a campaign or two. Paying closer attention to the lyrics reveal just how sarcastic the chanted "I love LA / we love it" chorus really is:
"Look at that mountain / Look at those trees / Look at that bum over there, man / He's down on his knees / Look at these women / There ain't nothin' like em nowhere"

5. "Louisiana 1927"
This is Newman with the swelling strings in the background, lush melodies, historical subject matter, not the old grump tinkering away at the keys. He still has that Bourbon
attitude and general distaste for BS.

6. "Mr. President"
Newman's back at the piano, without the strings (until the end) but with a small horn section and a shuffling rhythm section, singing a plea to the President to have "pity for the working man."

7. "You Can Leave Your Hat On"
I crack up every time Newman sings "yes, yes, yes" after telling the woman hes talking to in the song to take off her dress. His mush mouth vocals sound like Fat Albert or Elmer Fud about to get it on. As usual, Newman mixes his absurd humour with some actual heart-felt emotions.

8. "Short People"
Sticks it to the bigots and racists better than any punk band ever could, I don't care that he says the song isn't about anything more than a ridiculous idea.

9. "It's Money that I Love"
"I don't love the mountains
And I don't love the sea
And I don't love Jesus
He never done a thing for me
I ain't pretty like my sister
Or smart like my dad
Or good like my mama

It's Money That I Love

They say that money
Can't buy love in this world
But it'll get you a half-pound of cocaine
And a sixteen-year old girl
And a great big long limousine
On a hot September night
Now that may not be love
But it is all right

Used to worry about the poor
But I don't worry anymore
Used to worry about the black man
Now I don't worry about the black man
Used to worry about the starving children of India
You know what I say about the starving children of India ?
I say, "Oh mama"
It's Money That I Love"


10. "The Great Nations of Europe"
"The Great Nations of Europe had gathered on the shore
they'd conquered what was behind them and now they wanted more
so they looked to the mighty ocean and took to the western sea
The great nations of europe in the 16th century

Hide your wives and daughters, hide the groceries too
The great nations of europe comin through

The Grand Canary Islands first land to which they came
they slaughtered all the canaries there which gave the land its name
there were natives there called guanches, guanches by the score
bullet's, disease the portugese, they weren't there any more

balboa found the pacific and on the trail one day
he met some friendly indians whom he was told were gay
so he had them torn apart by dogs on religious grounds they say
the great nations of europe were quite holy in their way

hide your wives and daughters, hide your sons as well
with the great nations of europe you never can tell

where you and i are standing at the end of a century
europes have sprung up everywhere as even i can see
but there on the horizon is the possiblity
that some bug from out of africa might come for you and me
destroying everything in it's path from sea to shining sea
like the great nations of europe in the 16th century"


11. "You Got a Friend in Me"
Yeah, yeah yeah, fuck off. I like this song.

12. "Sail Away"
Maybe his most well known song.