Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Yesterday my parents tasked me with the seemingly innocuous job of dismantling and breaking down our rusted picnic table in the back yard.
My hand slipped while using the crowbar and slammed itself right into a jagged piece of rusted metal. The only thing that stopped its unforgiving path through my skin was the thumb bone. If I had used just a slightly different angle it could have quite possibly sliced through all the arteries in my wrist. Instead, blood just started squirting out of my thumb. Conversely, if I had been operating the crowbar with my feet, I would have definitely castrated myself. Or, even more scary, if I had been using my mouth to operate the tool, I most surely would have been decapitated. Back to the thumb. Since we live in a wonderful country that doesn't believe in keeping health care costs down, or forcing health insurance companies to offer reasonable plans, I didn't go to the emergency room, because the ER, stitches, cleanup and the necessary shots would have come out of pocket. So instead I have a pile of bandages keeping together a small but infinitely deep wound.
Tetanus is a concern with any rusty stab wound, which brings us to the picture above. My friend Jamaster Jay Miska advised me to look up pictures of people that have died from tetanus. The disease makes all your muscles constrict, creating an arched back and horrifying grin as you die. Like the "'80s guy" from Futurama that died of "Bonitis." I don't know the last time I had a tetanus shot, so I drove across town to the Illinois Department of Health for the $10 punch in the arm. The DoH is like the DMV only with friendlier employees. I got to sit and wait for a half an hour listening to toddlers named Destiny and Serenity scream and yell while their parent(s) sat idly like no one else is in the room. My only salvation were awesome posters such as this jem, "Some of your most valuable shots take place off the court. Vaccinations... they work!"
If the waiting room wasn't tourture enough, I now have a sore shoulder to go along with my useless thumb. Fuck you, picnic table.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
I first heard Dr. Dog at Bonnaroo three years ago. My response was a simple, "that was kinda good, a bit odd though..." I didn't know any Dr. Dog songs, I think my cousin and I picked the show out of the dozens playing that day because the name sounded weird and we didn't have a clue what they would sound like. They had shaggier hair then, bright-orange sun glasses and a decidedly lo-fi, tape-warped spin on their Abbey-Road-era-Beatles sound. In nearly every review of Dr. Dog's CDs, the writer either quickly caves and just calls them Beatlesesque, or spends a paragraph talking about how only lazy critics call new bands Beatlesesque - how the phrase has almost no meaning since most pop/rock has some roots in the Beatles, etc, - and then ends up calling them Beatlesesque anyhow. I didn't think much else about the Bonnaroo show until two years later when I saw them open for the Black Keys. I still didn't know any of the songs, but the new ones were even better than the old ones, and ever since each new release has been pre-ordered.
Dr. Dog's early records didn't sound like a band ripping off the Beatles, more like a bunch of Philadelphia kids with ear infections who grew up listening to the Beatles on a mono stereo. I heard someone say, and I co-opted the phrase, that their last album "We All Belong" sounds best on broken car speakers. It's a compliment. Dr. Dog's albums make you feel like a little kid, getting a ride home from the swimming pool in a station wagon without air-conditioning. AC would feel good in a Mercedes, but in a wood paneled Chevy Malibu wagon I'd rather have the windows down. Essentially, Dr. Dog's CDs turn me into a nostalgia whimpering puppy.
The band features two songwriters who alternate singing responsibilities. Toby Leaman has a gruffer/edgier voice and his songs are moving a little darker with each album. Scott McMicken's voice is the more warbly of the two, and his songs typically tend to be more hopeful. Released on Tuesday, "Fate" removes a lot of the dissonant tones and sloppy-is-a-virtue aesthetic of the early albums. It's a decidedly cleaned up effort. Almost too glossy in spots for my liking, this album sounds best on fully-functioning car speakers. But the strength of the band has always been in their melodies and harmonizing, not the gimmicky production and charming idiosyncrasies.
It starts out simple enough. Opening track "The Breeze" is mostly a one guitar, one voice affair, with some maraca mimicking the sound of a locomotive in the background, "chica-chica-chica-chica." The back of the liner notes fold out to a b/w picture of the band standing in front of an old train and overgrown tracks. Much of "Fate" deals with what the album title would suggest. Time passing, things fading, arriving at our final destination. On "From" the band actually sings about a "choo-choo train," a phrase no post-adolsecent should use, but I'm a sucker for the band, and their playfulness makes it work. Most of the other songs have the layered guitar lines, tinkering piano, bass and vocal harmonizing we have come to expect from a Dr. Dog album. "The Beach" might be the loudest/darkest song by the band to date - trash can drums, horror house organs, shouted vocals by Leaman and guitar with dirty style. Like any other Dr. Dog relase, "Fate" isn't flawless. Occasionally all the climbing background vocals and escelating melodies can become a bit irritating, but those moments are few and before long Dr. Dog returns to its old ways.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
1985 Back to the Future
Classics often ignored - Better off Dead, Brazil
1986 Ferris Bueler's Day Off
Stand By Me
Classic often ignored - Blue Velvet
1987 Full Metal Jacket
The Princes Bride
1988 Die Hard
1989 Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
Classic often ignored - Wild at Heart
1991 Terminator 2
Slience of the Lambs
1992 Reservoir Dogs
1993 Nightmare Before Christmas
Classic often ignored - True Romance
1994 Pulp Fiction
Classic often ignored - Ed Wood
The Usual Suspects
1997 L.A. Confidential
1998 The Big Lebowski
Saving Private Ryan
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
American History X
1999 The Matrix
Being John Malkovich
Classics often ignored - Eyes Wide Shut, Election
2000 O brother, Where Art Thou?
Reqium for a Dream
Classic often ignored - American Psycho
Classic often ignored - Ghost World
2002 The Pianist
City of God
2003 American Splendor
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
2005 A History of Violence
The 40-Year-Old Virgin
2006 Pans Labyrinth
Little Miss Sunshine
V for vendetta
Classic often ignored - Children of Men
2007 No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood
2008 The Dark Knight
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
This is the follow up post to “An Album for Every Year.” It named my favorite album of each year I have been alive. While constructing that list, all I really wanted to do was go back and pick my favorite albums from some of the classic rock and early punk years. In the previous entry, I had some troubles with the mid-‘80s, but this 1962 – 1984 span creates the opposite problem – too many great albums.
These lists can prompt you to think about artists and albums in totally different ways, and eras in general. Looking back at some years like 1996, I was too little to appreciate how much great and diverse music was released. Or how different Radiohead and Beck were from everything else when they hit their respective creative strides.
I regret that so many of the same artist dominate each year, but its my "favorite" album list, and not my "best" album list, because I have too many listening gaps to even attempt to canonize two decades ... and it would be arrogant.
1962 Bob Dylan – Bob Dylan
1963 Bob Dylan – The Freeweelin’ Bob Dylan
1964 Nina Simone – The Best of Nina Simone
Honorable mention – The Kinks - Kinks
1965 Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisted
Close Second - Otis Redding - Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul
1966 Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde
Honorable Mentions - Otis Redding – The Soul Album
John Mayall - Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton
1967 The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club band
Honorable Mentions - The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground and Nico
Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced?
Van Morrison – Blowin’ Your Mind
1968 The Rolling Stones – Beggars Banquet
Close Second - The Zombies - Odessey and Oracle
Honorable Mention - Johnny Cash – At Folsom Prison
1969 Led Zeppelin – II
Close Second - The Beatles – Abbey Road
Honorable Mentions - Led Zeppelin – I
Rolling Stones – Let it Bleed
Neil Young – Everyone Knows this is Nowhere
1970 Led Zeppelin – III
Honorable Mention - Creedence Clearwater Revival – Cosmo’s Factory
1971 David Bowie – Hunky Dory
Close Second - Led Zeppelin – IV
Honorable mentions – Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers
Allman Brothers Band – Live At Fillmore East
Pink Floyd – Meddle
The Who – Who’s next
Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On
The Faces - A Nod is As Good As a Wink to a Blind Horse
1972 Rolling Stones – Exile on Main Street
Honorable Mentions - Neil Young – Harvest
Curtis Mayfield - Superfly
1973 Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon
Close Second – Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy
Honorable Mentions – Randy Newman – Sail Away
Bob Marley – Catch a Fire
Bob Marley – African Herbsman
1974 Tom Waits – The Heart of Saturday Night
Honorable Mention - Bob Marley - Natty Dread
1975 Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
Honorable Mentions - Bob Marley – Live!
Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy
1976 Thin Lizzy – Jail Break
1977 Elvis Costello – My Aim is True
Close Second – Pink Floyd – Animals
Honorable Mention – Talking Heads – Talking Heads 77
Television - Marquee Moon
1978 Elvis Costello – This Year’s Model
Close Second - Tom Waits – Blue Valentine
1979 The Clash – London Calling
1980 Joy Division – Closer
Honorable Mention - Talking Heads – Remain in Light
1981 Rolling Stones – Tattoo You
1982 Michael Jackson - Thriller
Honorable Mention - Elvis Costello – Imperial Bedroom
1983 Talking Heads – Speaking in Tongues
1984 U2 – The Unforgettable Fire
Monday, July 21, 2008
This is an interesting excercise that has been making the blog circles. Pick the best album from every year you have been alive. The 2000s and '90s were easy.
But my '80s music knowledge is pretty spotty. I know the albums by my favorite groups and the pop and new wave singles, but as for what was then called "College rock" I don't know more than few songs by The Jesus and Mary Chain, Cure, Smiths, Pogues, Nick Cave, Pixies, Husker Du, etc. Same goes with some of the critically acclaimed pop artists like Prince and Paul Simon, who supposedly have solid albums to back up the singles. I only have two ears, and it takes plenty of energy keeping up with all the new stuff, let alone continue to educate my self on the '80s.
If only I could write this list going back to the 70s and 60s, I could have a more informed selection.
The next installment will be an album for every year before I was born.
1985 Talking Heads - Little Creatures
1986 Beastie Boys - License to Ill
1987 REM - Document
1988 N.W.A. - Straight Outta Compton
1989 Black Crowes - Shake your money Maker
Close Second - Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique
Honorable Mention - Red Hot Chili Peppers - Mother's Milk
1990 A Tribe Called Quest - People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm
1991 Nirvana - Nevermind
Close Second - Pearl Jam - Ten (of course)
1992 R.E.M. - Automatic for the People
Close Second - Rage Against the Machine - Rage Against the Machine
Honorable Mention - Eric Clapton - Unplugged
1993 Wu Tang Clan - Enter the 36 Chambers
Close Second - Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream
Honorable Mentions - Nirvana - In Utero
Pearl Jam - Vs.
Snoop Doggy Dog - Doggystyle
1994 Weezer - (Blue Album)
Close Second - Pearl Jam - Vitalogy
Honorable Mention - Beck - Mellow Gold
1995 Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Close Second - Radiohead - the Bends
Honorable Mention - Ben Folds Five - Ben Folds Five
1996 Beck - Odeley
Close Second - Eels - Beautiful Freak
Honorable Mentions - Cake - Fashion Nugget
Wilco - Being There
Weezer - Pinkerton
Rage Against The Machine - Evil Empire
1997 Radiohead - OK Computer
1998 Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Honorable Mentions - Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
Beck - Mutations
1999 Wilco - Summerteeth
2000 Deltron - Deltron 3030
Honorable Mention - Radiohead - Kid A
2001 Spoon - Girls Can Tell
Honorable Mention - Ryan Adams - Gold
2002 Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Close Second - People under the Stairs - O.S.T.
Honorable Mention - White Stripes - White Blood Cells
The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
Black Keys - Big Come Up
Blackalicious - Blazing Arrow
2003 White Stripes - Elephant
Close Second - The Shins - Chutes Too Narrow
Honorable Mention - Kings of Leon - Youth & Young Manhood
2004 Black Keys - Rubber Factory
Close Second - Wilco - A Ghost is Born
2005 My Morning Jacket - Z
Honorable Mentions - Kings of leon - Aha Shake Heartbreak
2006 Bob Dylan - Modern Times
Honorable Mentions - The Black Angels - Passover
Tapes n Tapes - The Loon
Decemberists - The Crane Wife
2007 Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Honorable Mentions - Radiohead - In Rainbows
Amy Winehouse - Back to Black
Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
Okkervil River - The Stage Names
Band of Horses - Cease to Begin
Panda Bear - Person Pitch
LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver
2008 Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
Sunday, July 20, 2008
The Dark Knight>XMen 2>Batman Begins>Batman Returns>XMen>Sin City>Ironman>Batman>Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles>Hellboy 2>Blade>Blade 2>Hellboy>Superman>Punisher (2004)>Superman Returns>Spiderman 2>Spiderman>Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2>Superman 2>Superman 3>Punisher (80s)>Spawn>XMen:The Last Stand>Blade Trinity>Superman 4>Hulk>Spiderman 3>Fantastic 4>Daredevil>Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3>Elektra>Captain America>Cat Woman>Fantastic 4: The Rise of the Silver Surfer>Ghost Rider
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
"The Squid and the Whale" - hated it, didn't finish it. One of the most pretentious movies I have ever seen. Here's my attempt at Squid and the Whale dialogue -
Jeff Daniels - "People are dumb, yes, people are really dumb."
Daniels' son - "I like name dropping authors and famous works of prrrrrrose"
Daniels - "Me too. Kafka, Kafka Kafka, Well I guess it's time for me to go do something really emotional and kinda mean spirited."
Daniels' son - "Kafka, Kafka, Kafka"
Simply name-dropping famous writers doesn't make your writing great, it just makes it obnoxious. How about using some of Kafka's themes, etc as homage? Then again i dind't even finish it, so maybe they make good by the end.
At least the camera work and Wes Anderson style colors was really cool, but jeez.
"Ratatouille" - Pixar never disappoints (cept "Cars"). Its like old Hollywood, Well-told stories, with real emotions and complex themes for adults, and lots of fun for the kids. So much better than animated movies like "Shrek" that people say are "really funny" and "have humor for adults and kids." Ratatouille didn't have to throw in ham-handed sexual innuendo for adults to laugh at to keep them entertained between kid-aimed idiocy. (OK, there was one moment of innuendo, and it was great.)
"Michael Clayton" - The film never treats the audience like an idiot, never over-explains like other thrillers, and they managed to make a thriller void of any Luddite fear mongering ("Untraceable").
But I do think they tried to disguise a really simple plot by masterfully executing it in a gray and vague way that forced you to pay attention and figure it out yourself.
"Garden State" - I hate the word quirky, but it was quirky. It was funny and charming and clever. It was good. Zach Braff bothers me as a dramatic actor. He just seems to let his jaw hang loose and mouth breaths all over his serious lines. Anyone whose perspective on the world was changed by this film (most of the 20-year-olds in my Film Appreciation class) needs to get out more, and avoid being pandered to so easily.
"The Wire" Takes a while to get into, I'm on the third season now, but it is as good as everyone said it was. Legalize it.
"I'm Not There" Too non-linear for me to enjoy. I'm a huge Dylan fan, so I loved the music, loved the myth of Dylan represented through several fictitious characters, but it was just too abstract for me. I guess I'm square.
"Repo Man" "Lets go eat sushi and not pay for it." hahahaha, 'nuff said, it's a punk classic.
"Adaptation" Another one as good as everyone said it was. Kaufman is a fucking genius.
Google's adsense toolbar scans my blog and creates advertisements relevant to my posts. So, naturally it read my rant about Fandango, assumed I really appreciate the site's services and added a Fandango ad to my blog.
Moments of perfect irony like this nearly make my head explode.
If I were to rant against the evils of lets say, the current White House administration, would Adsense create ads for youngrepublicans.com, or the Nationalreview.com?
I can't wait for future ads running totally against the content of this seldom read blog.
In a meta-irony situation soon to follow, this post will probably only continue to encourage adsense to put Fandango ads on my blog.
Shit, I'm going to need a code word for the previously named Web site. Perhaps I will now refer to it as Farfanoogan. It's final. Who knows what ads the code name will generate.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Movies.com, formerly owned by Disney, was recently bought by Fandango. In an attempt to crowd out movietickets.com Fandango bought movies.com hoping to incorporate its 1.9 million users, and it's generic, easy-to-search url. But even that goal has been poorly handled.
Fandango deleted all of movies.com's users' accounts and posted a message that they all have to come over to the (dark) side and create Fandango accounts.
Even worse, like a classic Gordon Gecko dismantling, Fandango removed all the writers, features, well-written content and industry buzz from the Web site and turned it into a fandango.com clone with a look barely better than an amature Dreamweaver skeleton.
What happened to Mike's buzz Bin? I read that weekly feature every Wednesday since 2003. What about the "8 Great _____" series that provided sharp lists and rankings of different film genres? In fact, the site no longer employs any film reviewers (all film comments are blurbs by Joe Schmo users) nor provides any function besides listing movie times (I can get that on google), posting some trailers (everywhere else on the internet) and selling tickets (that's why Fandango already existed, so I could avoid it completely).
If Fandango had any brains at all it would have left the site intact and just put links to its ticket selling services all over the damn place.
Until then, I'm never visiting one of my old, favorite Web sites again.
If anyone else's nerd rage is firing like mine you can shoot off a disgruntled email here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Apparently fandango has computers answering its hate mail about Movies.com.
Here is the response i received:
From: Jennifer Baker
We appreciate your feedback. We’re taking your opinion into consideration as Movies.com continues to evolve. We’re still working to make updates to the site and work through technical difficulties so please check back soon.
In the meantime, if you’re looking for an archive of Dave White’s past reviews, you can find it here: http://www.movies.com/
Thanks for letting us know your thoughts. Your input is valuable as we move forward.
-- The Fandango Team
Wait, so is this from "Jennifer Baker" or the "Fandango team"? Is Jennifer Baker a real person, or a computer named Jennifer? Anyway, I love automated responses. I'm turning into that guy who writes more and more angry letters to the editor of the local newspaper as he becomes more and more senile.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Following in the path of Radiohead's pay-what-you-want album release scheme, DJ/mashup artist extraordinaire Girl Talk is releasing his latest, "Feed the Animals," right now at http://www.myspace.com/girltalk.
Girl Talk is great for two kinds of people and everyone else in between: The first being those with a paltry music collection and nothing to play when they have a party or gathering of friends, and/or are terrible at making play lists. The other end of the spectrum are music nerds who love spotting out every sample and slice of source material spliced in throughout the disc's insane brain melting.
Thanks to the joy of America's fair use copyright law, unlicensed samples of The Band, the Beastie Boys, Paula Cole, Jay Z, Little Wayne, Kanye West, Avril Lavigne, Steve Winwood, Outkast, Jackson 5, Queen, Huey Lewis and the News, Grand Master Flash, Beyonce, Dexy Midnight Runners, Missy Elliot, Len, Cheap Trick, countless rap artists I don't know by name - on and on, that was just the first 8 minutes - move seamlessly into, over and under each other without break.
For any download between free and $9.99, users can download the entire album free on MP3. Any payment over $10 gets the CD shipped to the persons house when it comes out (and the free download today.) I still feel guilty for downloading Radiohead's "In Rainbows" for free, so I actually paid the $10, whatever.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
A little background: back in the day Springfield had one of the St. Louis Cardinals minor league affiliate squads. They played at Landphier park, capacity about 5,000, until the Stl ball club apparently thought they could find a better city. So, Springfield received frontier and independent league teams like the Sultans (in effete, blinding purple jerseys) and the creatively named Capitals. All those ventures failed abysmally. The Sultans had some of the worst attandance numbers in league history. Think "Major League: Back to Minors" without all the athletes.
So, now the Sliders fill a park during the summer where future major leaguers used to smash baseballs. I don't know what body governs the league, or how someone gets on the Sliders. Was anyone actually keeping score, or was the billboard for show? But, if you charge an admission to see the game, I guess people assume they will recieve some kind of quasi quality entertainment.
And I was, actually entertained. Most of the enjoyment came from the atmosphere and people around me, swissers everywhere, gawky 14-year-olds hawking soda that need to shave the peach stach, the teenager who told us the bottled beer was a rip off. Also, the design of the tiny park is that any ball fouled behind home plate and clearing the short stands has about a 97 percent chance of landing through a windshield. Waj wiped out running up the bleachers to see if the ball killed his Cadilac and dumped his beer all over the place.
It was fun. People brought their kids, we brought our wallets to buy draft beer. Waj and Royal got picked from the crowd to get into sumo suits and wrestle for Cardinals tickets on the infield. Waj won the match, and will recieve two tickets in the mail.
More careful planning would have led us to wait until Thursday to go for the $1 beers, but at least we got half off admission on Monday for Cardinals apparel night. Waj, Royal and Dylan all wore their stupid Cardinals hats, etc and entered at the discounted price of $2 (!) dollars. I just approached the ticket booth and said "same" after they declared they wanted the discount for wearing the correct uniform. I was wearing a red shirt, so i guess that was enough, the ticket salesman didn't even look up from the counter to see the shirt read "Bradley."
The turtle eating a baseball bat is a slight improvement over the last couple logos, and the Sliders don't even have to pay their players. Does anyone else want to punch that fucking baseball in the face?
Of course, we ended up at the bar afterward anyway, open mic night at Marleys and 1$wells. More later on what the possibly homeless, possible just poor guy asked me for money for.
The tremolo pedal, for those of you that don't play guitar, gives the tone a repeatingly wavy, sharp, shaky tone, think surf guitar. Cost:$80.
The Whammy pedal, $200, not to be confused with a wah-wah pedal (Hendrix - "Voodoo Child") might produce the craziest sounds I have ever heard. It cheats for you. Jack White's solos that seem to go higher in pitch than our ears were meant to hear ("Ball and biscuit")? Whammy pedal. Weird heavy metal shit that alternates between a train screeching on the tracks and all over the map sonic shifting? Whammy pedal. I'll never, ever be able to play like this guy in the video, or even describe what I do as playing the same instrument as this righteous ass hole, but I still want the pedal.
Side note: it doesn't just shift the tone sky high, you can use it to make your guitar as deep as a bass, ala the first low notes in "The Hardest Button to Button." Also, I've basically just written an Ad for Digitech, I need to trick some people into reading this blogg and convince Digitech to give me a free Whammy.