Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
I just made 100 of these little doo-dads. They're sandwich cookies, so that means 200 times (if you don't count the last 8 I burned in the oven while heating up lunch) I cut out the shapes, dipped them in egg, then into colored sugar ... before being baked, cooled, and glued together with buttercream.
I got the recipe from my Omi a couple of years ago, and have since made them with my family members', including Omi's, help. But this is my first attempt on my own. They were puffier than hers, so I didn't roll out the dough thin enough and probably didn't let the dough rest long enough; but man, they are light as a feather and sure are tasty.
So I'm pretty pleased right now; if not totally exhausted.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
I love it when I fall in love with a band so hard that it takes all I have to keep from talking about them ... all. the. friggin'. time.
I hate it when said band is fronted by a very dear friend, so it sounds like sycophancy of the highest degree if I publish good press about them.
But let's face facts. This is neither the Times nor the Trib. It isn't even the Post. Hell, my only audience is my family and friends ... so screw it.
Therefore, in absolutely no disingenuous terms, let it be understood that The Hobo Wives have been one of my new favorite bands since last April when I first heard them all together at the Lemmons show.
I'd heard their rough tracks before the show; but once they took the stage, it became obvious that the talented outfit's fabric was so tight-knit that the songs pretty much play themselves. The songwriting is stellar, the sound is incredibly rich and completely alive, and all of the musicians and vocalists are, in a word, gifted. Since then, I just can't seem to get enough of the lush melodies and jangly guitars that tell their alt-twangy melancholy tales of woe.
It's not completely unrelated that I have always appreciated and very much believed in Matt Kahler's songwriting since we met. After 10 years of friendship, a 400 mile move to the north, and a rich compilation of competent musicians and vocalists in his arsenal, he seems to have finally found solid footing as the musician I always knew resided within.
As a friend, I couldn't be happier for him. Personally, I couldn't be happier for me; and no, not just with the satisfaction that comes with being right. Their brand of southern-fried rock is just what the doctor ordered to soothe the aches that accompany these days of financial uncertainty.
It's relatable, believable, and damn catchy.
Which is why I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if we heard a lot more from this group once they're finished in the studio and start out on tour.
Until then, please to enjoy their available tracks on MySpace:
Monday, November 24, 2008
The first time I saw Patton Oswalt live was the stuff of legend.
Wait ... let's go back.
The first time I saw Patton Oswalt ever was a repeat of his Comedy Central special, "No Reason To Complain" on TV. This after being reassured that, "No, no, he's really good," after my arched-eyebrowed query, "uh ... isn't that the dude from 'King of Queens?"
He is easily the funniest person I've ever seen; certainly one of the funniest comics, and quickly became my favorite. Call it blasphemy, but even more so than Bill Hicks or the other obvious choices. What can I say, this guy speaks with a voice that I understand. And he has killer timing, and works the hopeless, nerdy schlub thing so deftly in his favor.
So shortly after "No Reason," the "Comedians of Comedy" series aired on Comedy Central. I was addicted. On their own, I can do without the antics of the in(s)ane Bamford, the toilet-obsessed Posehn, and the hell-bent-for-leather-on-being-"out-there" Galifanakis; but as the team behind Oswalt, the series never failed to disappoint.
So in the spring of 2006 when it was announced they'll be doing another tour, I bought the tickets for the Chicago stop; we ended up showing for what turned out to be the 2nd show at the Logan Square Auditorium (actually a ballroom).
I don't even know how long the show went on; all I know there was a brief period before when Bamford was politely annoying, Posehn told his dick jokes, and Mirman was just plain weird ... and then a whiskey-addled Patton went on for about 2 1/2 hours with maybe a 5 minute breather somewhere in there.
It was easily the hardest I'd laughed, in earnest, ever. I barely had 2 drinks that night; and was on my feet all night after one of the longest weeks of my life, after having just buried my great-aunt, who was like a grandmother to me, before making the 5 hour drive up north on a Friday night after a full week's worth of work.
The next day, Patton would refer to it on his site's blog as, "[T]he best show of the tour, and maybe the best show I ever did. "
This Saturday's show was very different. It was eons away from that balmy April night in Chicago 2 years ago. The room of the swanky downtown casino was lined neatly with rows of cushioned seats. Patton himself has lost a good 30lbs (or better). He was dressed in tweed and slacks. No whiskey this time, just a bottle of water. Instead of fronting a pack of guerrilla comedians, he was announced by the emcee as the "[V]oice of Ratatouille," and "[Y]ou know him from 'King of Queens.'" He was all alone.
And yet, the audience -- including myself -- roared the entire hour and a half. At his second show of the evening.
It is clear from his act that he's a changed man by his family comedy successes, especially those of late. I certainly wouldn't say for the worse ... but you can tell that he's not really sure what to do with himself these days. He's still searingly witty and cynical; and while it is clear that he's at odds with that fact, I don't see it ever changing.
So, long story short (too late); it's best to sum up that I still strongly identify him. Perhaps now more than ever.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Today when I read about a band named Jesus H Christ and the Four Hornsmen of the Apocalypse, my interest was immediately piqued. Not that the name of a band necessarily says anything about said band, but as far as band names go, this one was pretty clever. Even if wordy.
Its just a shame they suck; no, that's not true. They don't suck; the horn section is actually really good. But not one second into this video, I officially hated the frontwoman.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Last night, Geoffrey Velvet (aka Jeff Tweedy) & Co were on the Colbert Report rockin' for the cause to vote. While Wilco is a long-time Obama supporter, their message is a bi-partisan effort to encourage people to get out and vote next Tuesday.
So by going to http://wilcoworld.net/vote/index.php/, anyone who plans on voting (or anyone who wishes to fib) can make their solemn promise to Wilco to vote in the presidential election and, in exchange, will receive a free live recording of Wilco and the Fleet Foxes covering Dylan.
In case you missed 'em, here's the interview:
... and the performance of "Wilco The Song:"
Side note: has anyone else found this year's voter encouragement efforts as far more digestible than 2004's "Vote Or Die" campaign?
Friday, October 17, 2008
My two favorite candies in the world are the most impossible to find. One doesn't even exist anymore, and the other one has been "renamed."
The first, Shock Tarts. Now Wonka calls them "Shockers." Available nearly everywhere in my teens, I do cartwheels of joy if I happen to stumble upon them in a convenience store on a road trip these days.
Photo by erikaland
The second, RIP, is the original recipe chocolate flavored Twizzlers. Now they've made them "better" with Hershey's chocolate in the recipe. They're only okay; barely passable, really. Nowhere near the delicious, tough old chewy choco-Twizz's I still crave to this second. (The photographer named above is one of the many who shares my chagrin.)
Only, I couldn't even find the "new" crappy chocolate Twizzlers today! I went to 4 different Walgreens(es) in my area, and a Target. The nice gentleman who was restocking the candy aisle at my third Walgreens kindly deflected my frustration, saying that it's a common problem; he even had one STLPD officer tell him once that he's only able to find them at Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart. The name makes me shudder. And, crave them though I do, I'm not driving into Maplewood to satiate a sugar fix.
5 different stores is my max. If that sounds ludicrous, rest assured it was a short trip. That's how many Walgreens there are within a 2 mile radius of my house.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
I have always been mature for my age; responsible, accountable, relatively knowledgeable.
Today; however, I get a far more telling item in the mail, the very least of which do I care to indentify. Yet.
A complimentary copy -- addressed to me -- of More Magazine.
What can I say, I'm a sucker for free bathroom literature, especially those with Michelle Obama as the cover story; so I tear off the plastic, put the subscription offer into the shred bin and flop the rag into the basket by the toilet without a second thought.
But once I get to thumbing, I notice a disturbing trend in its literary substance:
The word "ageless" appearing repeatedly in the makeup ads. Multiple photos of "distinguished" looking ladies accompanying the articles entitled: "10 Women on TV Who make Over-40 Look Fabulous," "10 Reasons We're Glad We're Over 40," "Fashion For Grown-ups," and then ...
"Retirement For The Restless."
Folks, More.com describes in its little top left corner as "Celebrating Women 40+."
But I'm not even 30 yet!!!
Where do these muckrakers get their demographic data?
More alarmingly, how did they get my name?! I don't give anyone my address or phone number. How do these people find me?!
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Want to understand the root cause of the current economic meltdown?
I don't want to make this blog political, but I just watched a film anyone who has a credit card should see.
Which is everyone.
What amazes me is the timeliness of this film; even though it was made at least 3 years ago.
Monday, October 06, 2008
Sunday, October 05, 2008
It's a well known fact that Cardinals fans have two favorite teams: The Cardinals, and whoever is playing the Cubbies.
We may not have made it to the big show this year; and while it normally gives me no joy to watch the Dodgers win, I have to say, watching the sweep tonight was almost as happy as October of 2006 was for me.
100 years and counting ...
100 years and counting ...
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Back when I was a CD store-managin' music snob, I managed only two people that were older than me; both guys. One was a total misogynistic, undermining pain in the ass (think The Office's Dwight -- he's exactly the guy) and the other was a punk rock / hippie / stoner / drunk / raver kid named Mike Cornish.
I use the word kid, because he was in his early twenties ... even at my current age of 28, that's a kid.
That, and he was a completely reckless idiot. I mean, we're talking about a guy who always had money for illicit drugs, cigarettes and booze, yet -- daily -- still wore his preteen retainer which held an undersized false tooth in the hole where one of his incisors once resided. Because he didn't have the money to more permanently replace it. Or the insurance. Or maybe he just didn't care.
He was a fun reckless idiot nonetheless. He always kept us laughing with his shenanigans and vocal stylings of whatever happened to be playing over our sound system.
So, being a stoner, its no surprise that he loved Ben Harper. When Burn To Shine was released in 1999, nothing -- short of an outright veto by myself as the presiding manager on duty, which was exercised at least once or twice -- would stop him from putting that disc in at some point in his shift.
This song in particular was a favorite, and he'd often sing at the top of his lungs when restocking CDs, cleaning used game systems, vacuuming ... you name it.
So while this is an excellent soul torch song, instead of it reminding me of some melancholy romantic encounter; forever burned into my memory is Mike's infectious laugh, ridiculous sense of humor, silly little false tooth and ... to our surprise, pretty decent voice.
For a white boy.
Artist: Ben Harper and The Innocent Criminals
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Okay, this is a bit off topic, but I have to divulge a secret.
Kashi's Honey Sunshine cereal is the best breakfast cereal ever.
It's whole grain, non-sugary (in other words, grown-up), Captain Crunch. That doesn't destroy the roof of your mouth.
For a breakfast cereal addict like me, its perfect.
Monday, September 29, 2008
I can't decide if it's disconcerting or incredibly cool that the moaning troubadour's tune (and one of my favorite Moz tracks) "Every Day Is Like Sunday" graces the NFL Networks' new promos.
Granted, it's someone covering Morrissey. But still. Interesting.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
Aside from loving their name, I found their remix of Pela's "Lonesome Hearts" the summer car jam of 2007.
Now I have another reason to adore. This music video:
Freeze and Explode
They're damn catchy.
Stream their latest tracks:
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Last week we watched Dummy, a sentimental little indie flick staring Adrien Brody as a young man who quits his 9-5 office job to fulfill his dreams of becoming a ventriloquist. It was cute, and pretty funny; costars were Illeana Douglas and Jessica Walter (of Arrested Development fame) and both never cease to crack me up.
However, more notably than the movie I couldn't help but notice the entire soundtrack was reigned by a certain male singer/songwriter's whine; starting with the opening sequence and peppered in at least 2-3 other moments into the movie as well. His timbre was reminiscent of an early-90s Twin Cities Dave Pirner / Paul Westerberg variety; but I couldn't quite place where I'd heard that voice before.
So I set about some research and found the guy's name is Mike Ruekberg. I open the flash site, and on the very front page I get my answer.
His most current project is The Red Button, who I fell in love with last year; or more specifically, with their retro-tastic single "She's Going Down." I have to say, his partnership with this fellow Seth proves a much richer, and far more interesting and fun audible experience than his solo work ever could have been.
Though I can only strongly recommend the Button, you can stream sounds from both on their-respective-spaces:
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Ahhhh, Premium Movie Channels. Whether or not you actually do, you have to love them. They bring you little nuggets like 10 Items Or Less when you can find nothing better to do with an hour and a half.
It wasn't anything dazzling or particularly moving; but it was enjoyable. At first glance, the movie is just satirical view into how out of touch with reality not just actors, but movie stars become; but really, it's more than that. Morgan Freeman plays the role with such grace and charm -- not an air of snottiness -- that it almost ends up being a love letter from Hollywood to the real world.
Plus, the female lead is super cute.
Here's the trailer.
I suggest you check it out on SHOHD. If you're lucky enough to get it free, like we do. If not, just rent it. Netflix it. Whatever.
Friday, September 12, 2008
I can't hear this song and not think about Baltimore.
Not because the name of the city is in the title, but because it reminds me of a very specific moment in my life that just happened to be after a 3 day stay in the greater Baltimore / DC area.
I was traveling alone back to St. Louis, sitting in the middle seat of a three-seat row; the plane was shuffling toward the runway of Reagan National when this song seeps into my earbuds ... at a moment I least needed it to.
It struck me during the opening line so violently that it took every fiber of my being not to break down, sobbing, amongst the complete and total strangers who surrounded me.
The weekend, while generally a fun trip with friends, had been such a colossal failure on so many levels. Instead of a momentary escape from the disaster that was my life back in St. Louis, it ended up being just another painful reminder of how horribly bitter and meaningless life can be.
So here I was, life in shambles; sad song stinging very much in the foreground of what already felt like such a desolate, lonely existence ... stranger in a strange town, surrounded by strangers ... rain falling outside the window, one seat over to my right, four and an aisle to my left.
It rained, snowed, sleeted, every day that weekend; from the day I arrived up until well after I left.
Even if I wanted to skip the song over, I couldn't. The moment seemed too appropriate to ignore. The plane nosed homeward, no ... a house no longer a home. The moment suddenly was a glaring reminder of how I had to contend not only with my own heartbreak, new found borderline addictions, past failures and regrets, but also the heartache of knowing that it wasn't only my relationships that weren't immune to such devastation.
It represented the perfect moment of uncomfortable, unwarranted, unwelcome solitude; so eerily in tune with the song's theme, forget the spooky coincidence of the song title. And while instinct would rather leave me weeping for hours on end in response, much like my life at the time, I forced myself to suck it up.
To stare into the headrest of the seat in front of me, bite my lip, force those tears back ... and just let the moment pass.
One note at a time.
Artist: Counting Crows
This is a new feature section that I plan on recurring at least monthly, because I like the idea so much ... it just dawned on me in the car trip home from Ellisville this afternoon, when I realize how much of my life I relive through song.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Back in the day, when I was an employee of an independent music store, instead of helping customers or restocking shelves or even bothering to dust the oodles of filthy old jewel cases that sat out in the bins, my coworkers and I would stand around behind the counter and wax philosophical on just how incredibly genius rock was, and, in turn, how genius we were that we could make such observations.
The subject of today's blog comes courtesy of Diana, thank goodness for her keen internet-news eye. It reminds me of those carefree days of my youth as music store manager. And quite honestly, after the day I've had, I really needed the laugh.
Two Minutes and 42 Seconds in Heaven
Just go read it already.
Whatever you do, for crying out loud, stop sending me photographs of the Twin Towers going down in the fiery blazes of hell. I watched them, on a loop, for 2 full weeks on TV 7 years ago. Those are images this tiny, albeit sentimental, pea brain of mine would rather not retain.
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Everclear is headlining Taste of St. Louis this year!!!
Yes. I have guilty pleasures too, just like the lot of you. So screw you with your judgments. I'm going to get to see them for freeeee!
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
In tribute to the end of summer, which while is not officially until the equinox, but in my mind will always be book ended by two holidays -- Memorial Day and Labor Day -- here is my summer 2008 mix tape.
A collection, in no particular order, of the most influential and infectious tracks that had me singing at the top of my lungs all summer ... whenever no one else was looking.
I Am John Loney, Dear
Holes The Hobo Wives
Finders Keepers The 75s
When U Were Mine Cyndi Lauper
I'm Not Going To Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You Black Kids
The Breeze Dr. Dog
We Had It Right Nellie McKay feat. K.D. Lang
Chains Sons and Daughters
C'mon, C'mon The Von Bondies
You Don't Understand Me The Raconteurs
Exactly Where I'm At Ween
A Minha Menina Os Mutantes
Hesitating Beauty Billy Bragg & Wilco
Ears Like Golden Bats My Teenage Stride
Why Do You Let Me Stay Here? She and Him
Now, Mother Nature; bring on the Fall!
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Having a fiance with a ice cream addiction is difficult. Okay, maybe conflicting is more the term. Because, while I am not addicted, I definitely have a humongous sweet tooth that doesn't need the encouragement.
Last night; however, after our divine dinner of falafel and kebabs at Cafe Natasha on South Grand, for dessert we decided to stop in at the new icecremaria -- Emack and Bolio's -- whose banner boasted the slogan, "Ice Cream For The Connoisseur."
It did not disappoint. Better yet, it made me giddy with delight that my order was nearly fat-free!
I ordered the Key Lime frozen yogurt (made with skim milk and lime juice) ... when I asked for a sample, I was expecting soft serve. Instead, I get a popsicle stick sample jammed with a hard ice cream that is so smooth and creamy and deliciously lime, not to mention full of bits of graham cracker crumbs running through it. In other words, it did not at all give the impression of a frozen yogurt.
Or in other words, a perfect frozen yogurt. This is definitely what I order. In a sugar cone, please.
It occurred to us that it was a franchise / chain as we perused the artwork on the walls; which made me more curious about the business, since I really try to stay away from chain food.
On further investigation, it seems to be that the Boston-based company's M.O. is making "socially conscious" treats that contain no artificial ingredients; and every frozen treat is made fresh weekly in the stores.
So while the local mainstay will always be Mr. Ted Drewe's, I'm certainly not above satisfying our household's cravings/addictions over at E&B's again.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Lame, but this is the phrase that comes to mind when I open to its photo shoot in this week's EW.
The photography is so high-contrast, the poses far more provocative than your typical EW spread. It was so similar to high-fashion model photography that I had to check out the guy, Guy Aroch to be exact, online. He makes Jennie and Shannen look like super foxes; and I don't even think either (especially Doherty) are especially attractive.
His website only has a link to e-mail.
Then I found this:
He does pretty gorgeous stuff.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Friday, August 22, 2008
Zissou is on HDNet films tonight, which prompts the question, "When is Wes Anderson's next film going to be released?"
I'm in love with his films and adored The Darjeeling Limited, regardless of what the ass clowning critics may have said. I knew his next feature was going to be an animated full-length.
But a stop-motion animated adaptation of a Roald Dahl novel?
Where do I sign?
Most impatiently of all, when?!
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Ironically enough, this story was brought to my attention moments after I'd just completed chapter one of Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation.
I know, I know. I haven't read it yet. What can I say? I'm a slacker, and only recently in a non-Sedaris brand of non-fiction type of mood.
Regardless, the hubbub is that Papa John's has apparently commissioned, and completed, a man-made crop circle cut into a wheat field backing up to Denver International Airport for the viewing pleasure of -- er, and to hype the new all-wheat crust to -- all who visit ... including attendees of the Democratic National Convention.
The irony was simply too strong for me to not comment.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
It's the weekend, so I'll keep this short.
I finally saw it last night, and I have to say, the new Batman movie is pretty damn awesome.
Go see it. On a very big screen, with a very good sound system. Like The Moolah.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Usually when I hear the words "French pop," I immediately imagine scenes of Japanese girls with green hair having brightly-colored martinis in a space-aged bar at the edge of the universe.
Anyone who has ever listened will know why. For those of you who haven't it's because ... it's just ... so spacey. Airy. Background music, but still listenable and irresistibly charming; even if you don't know French. Or maybe because you don't know French.
So it's a surprise to me to find a group making lush French pop to the beat of a different drummer; a far cry from Dmitri from Paris' outlandish sound, Miou Miou brings a more provincial, earthy feel; likely due to their Czech Republic upbringing.
It's even more evident in the utterly adorable video for "A l'été de la Saint-Martin '68."
Miou Miou Online:
Thursday, July 24, 2008
It was the summer of 1994; ah, I remember it as though it were yesterday. The sights, the smells ... most importantly, the sounds. One of the biggest hits that summer was Warren G. and Nate Dogg's "Regulate," and I knew it forwards and backwards; or so I thought. There was this one line that always troubled me ... I thought it was:
"I can't believe they're taking Lawrence Welk."
As it turns out, the lyric is, "I can't believe they're taking Warren's wealth." Which makes perfect sense, seeing as though he's talking about getting jacked.
In any event, today's videos come as a personal challenge from a friend to expand my reader demographic. The first is what Tom sent to me, a quite impressive performance by Myron Floren leading the band with his accordion in a 1967 episode of The Lawrence Welk Show.
To dispel the myth that the squeezebox is for golden oldies; however, I present a video of probably the most prolific female accordionistas of our time, Ms. Jenny Conlee of The Decemberists.
While the video quality isn't great, you can tell this girl is far more than skilled. I saw them in the Duck Room back in 2005 and she is by far the most impressive performer on stage; probably largely due to the fact that she's of a very dainty frame and only stands about 5' tall, giving her the appearance that she's wrestling the accordion rather than playing it.
While The Decemberists widely appeal to, well, pretty much only band and theatre geeks ... Jenny's proof positive that rocking out on the accordion isn't a thing of the past.
It's just still pretty uncool.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Does anyone remember the Arctic Monkeys?
Alex Turner, the frontman of said Britrock outfit is back with the London Metropolitan Orchestra and Rascals' Miles Kane in the form of The Last Shadow Puppets with the album The Age of The Understatement. The only understatement here is that this is really good stuff.
Here's the video for the album's title track:
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Dr. Dog is back!
Fate is in stores starting today (apparently FYE may have some autographed copies available online) and samples from their MySpace are very promising. Oh how I can not wait to see them next Wednesday! It'll be my first Bluebird outing. Report surely to follow.
In the mean time, please to enjoy this track from 2007's We All Belong, courtesy of Park The Van records.
Dr. Dog - My Old Ways
Also, fitting as it is Discovery Channel's Shark Week this week; the golden voice is back! (Alright, she has been about a month, I've just missed it until now).
My Brightest Diamond has recorded yet another spooky, beautifully orchestrated album, A Thousand Shark's Teeth. A sample track is available on MBD's MySpace:
I've finally tired of the buzz surrounding the newest "synth-pop" group that sounds just like all of my favorite 80s bands of old. The newest review mentions of their sound's resemblance to the likes of Robert Smith and Morrissey ... so, fashionably late as usual, I just checked out the Black Kids.
I think you should too.
Particularly "I'm Not Going To Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You." It's Cure-tastic. In fact, here's the video:
I am a total sucker for a good pop song. It's true.
Hit up their MySpace for other songs:
Friday, July 11, 2008
You love her or hate her. I'm of the former category; even though she's not the world's best actress (she obviously plays only one character in any given role, and hunch has it its "herself"), I've always thought she was cute, dry and quasi-talented enough to be girlcrush-worthy.
Here's a new reason: her musical project with M. Ward, She and Him.
Which, of course, I stumbled upon in Vol. #79 of Magnet. It was just an advert, but it was the full-page back cover which, oh I don't know, kind of demands your attention; and seeing as though I was interested enough to roam to MySpace to check out Scarlett Johansson's (pathetic) attempt at musicianship, I figured one more actress-turned-song stylist dab wouldn't hurt.
Stream the music at their MySpace:
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Coming soon to an arena near you, the New Kids on the Block!
Seriously, is anyone going to attend the shows on this tour? Who is interested? People like me, whose 10 year-old selves adored them above God way back when? Are they taking their kids along? Is there a new album?
This, along with the announcement of the "new" 90210 (with Shannen Dougherty, Jennie Garth and Joe E. Tata rumored to be involved) seems so hopelessly sad and desperate. I just have no idea what kind of an audience this seriously appeals to; as far as I can tell, this only applies to the "morbid curiosity" sector in which old fans have in has-beens.
Which, while it's certainly not enough to actually purchase tickets to a mega-theatre concert; it probably is enough to the CW this fall ... if for no other reason but to see just how bad Shannen and Jennie look compared to the new teen class.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Ah, what my summer in St. Louis wouldn't be without a visit to The Muny.
Last week, the fiancee surprised me in a way that I'd never expect such an overtly-straight man to do; he took me to the theatre. No, not just the theatre. The outdoor theatre in St. Louis; the one that specializes in musical theatre.
The reason being that they were running The Producers last week.
I've seen the original movie version (Gene Wilder / Zero Mostel) once, but only after seeing the updated musical version (Matthew Broderick / Nathan Lane) several times. And being an unrepentant fan of musical theatre -- "the greatest two words put together in the English language" as executive producer Paul Blake remarked earlier in the evening -- why wouldn't I?
I had never seen the stage version, so I was delighted to find that was where we were headed Sunday evening after a delectable dinner at Crown Candy Kitchen. Unlike some productions of the past, it did not disappoint; the Muny flew in actors from Broadway for the main roles, and it showed. The set design was the best I've ever seen at the venue, particularly the "Springtime for Hitler" scenes. There's something incredibly powerful about a backdrop of four huge red Nazi flags along the entire Muny stage; it definitely was more startling than watching it on TV.
Mel Brooks is a genius, but the original was definitely wanting of "more," and the musical revival of it perfectly fleshes an already great idea out into a top-notch one. Obviously the movie is the best way to see the show, especially if you can't afford orchestra seats, because you get the full weight of all of the expressions on the actors' faces; which is pretty key in some scenes, and would have been missed had I not already known what was coming. The only problem with relying on the movie is its missing some pretty hilarious tunes like "The King of Broadway," "In Old Bavaria," and "Where Did We Go Right?"
It makes me want to watch the movie all over again. If for no other reason to have "Keep It Gay" stuck in my head, on a loop, for the rest of the week.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Above all, the thing I love most about Kevin Smith is that you can't keep him down. The guy may get discouraged, but he certainly will never stop living his dream.
My teen years were rife with a steady stream of quotations from all of his films, to those who were familiar and those who weren't (the latter receiving guff for being so obtuse). My best friend and I even started a screen play, which I still have in my possession, that was basically a similar version of a Kevin Smith story; Joe Blow has a boring life, a shitty job, an annoying girlfriend, and the girl he really wants is just out of reach, as is the rest of his happiness all of which are solely his own doing.
Everyone loves this guy. Try not to, I dare you. The reason why is because, for the most part, it's all of us. Grass is always greener, "what if I'd done that instead of this," ... maybe it's just the eternal question of the middle class, and no one else, but there it is.
The caffeine kicks in this morning and I retreat to the reading room and flip through Entertainment Weekly to pass the time; in this particular issue, there's a feature on "The Next A-List" of Hollywood. Among them is comedic powerhouse, Seth Rogen. The slovenly, furry, cuddly oddball of whom no one (including myself) can seem to get enough.
There's a reason. I learn in the blurb about him possibly dethroning Adam Sandler as the Jewey comedy giant the world over, there's a mention of his role in Kevin Smith's upcoming film Zack and Miri Make a Porno.
That guy always manages to sneak films by me; back in my teen years, that would have never happened; between my best friend and I, we could smell a new project of his before it was even in production. I just don't have the time to devote to superfandom anymore it would seem. Life gets too complicated with work and caffeine addictions and night upon night at the bars.
Costarring Elizabeth Banks, who I've loved since Wet Hot American Summer, I know it's not going to be "great," but certainly will be fun and a worthwhile see ... at least for me, a seemingly forever fan of his wittily-vile-humor-with-a-schlocky-twist style. The fact that two of today's best young(er) comedic actors star only sweetens the deal; particularly since Smith before insisted on only casting his buddies, who are mediocre actors at best. Some will make appearances, of course, in the new film but it's refreshing to see believable talent at center stage. I'm not alone when I say that the kid in Clerks 2 made that movie; had it not been for him, Smith would have had no hope for his future career. None.
So, here I go again. Going from swearing off Smith films forever after a Netflix viewing of Jersey Girl, to swearing I'll never, ever see Clerks 2, I again slacken my resolve for what I know will be a delightful little surprise.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Being a music snob from way back when in my Slackers days, I've subscribed to Magnet Magazine for ... oh, say ... 6 years. Or 8. I've lost track (though I guess I could figure out for sure since they're all still in a collection in my basement).
That aside, I've renewed the 2 year subscription just about every other year, save for one or two in the early years. A mostly glossy zine, part half-hearted legitimate music rag, it's been my periodical of choice in my mailboxes for years. My favorites are the always entertaining commentary of the "The Back Page" and "Where's the Street Team?", but the interviews and features are usually quite substantial and engaging, the photography excellent, the reviews usually dead-on, and advertisements kept to a minimum.
The accompanying compilation CD; however, is rarely worth the listen.
But my main gripe is these lazy bums can only muster 6 issues a year. Bi-monthly. Meaning, an entire magazine is supposed to be sustainable toilet reading fodder for 2 whole months?!
Yeah, right. Fortunately issues of Blender and Entertainment Weekly started mysteriously showing up in our mailbox; which, while lame, I'd otherwise be bored out of my skull in there. Thank god I have the likes of Desperate Housewives and Gossip Girl spoilers to keep me company instead.
In any event, a few days ago I get the notice that my subscription is about to expire; and that if I would like to do anything about it, to please send more money and your #1 and #2 choices of the following free CDs we have laying around.
The list was as follows:
Against Me! New Wave
Eels Meet The Eels: Essential Eels Vol. 1
Beach House Devotion
Georgie James Places
Photon Band Back Down to Earth
Bob Mould District Line
Sons & Daughters This Gift
The Aliens Astronomy For Dogs
Evangelicals The Evening Descends
Liam Finn I'll Be Lightning
My selections were:
#1: Sons & Daughters
#2: The Eels
My expectations were:
Some random junk band's CD that was neither in my selections nor on the list.
This was the way it was, every time I have renewed.
Same promise of a cool free CD, same delivery of a lame useless one. I had no expectation that it would be different, but Shiva help me if that was going to keep me from trying.
Today, even before delivery of issue No. 79, it comes. The square padded envelope from Magnet.
Inside was my #1.
Talk about a good day.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Since my introduction to the band in 1999 with Summerteeth, and catching my first-ever show of them at the Blue Note that hot summer, I haven't missed a St. Louis showing of Wilco yet.
Last year was the first year that I wasn't afforded the option; as they opted to stop in Columbia for an open-air concert with Dr. Dog instead, and on a weeknight no less. Someone shared an audio copy online of the set with my fiance, which revived my interest in the new album.
To tell you the truth, even though Wilco is admittedly my favorite band of all time, I was very disappointed by A Ghost Is Born and completely disinterested in Sky Blue Sky. Seeing it for sale in a Chicago Starbucks and an "are you kidding me?" later, I'd pretty much written it off. On another road trip back from Chicago that spring, a friend started playing it in the car, but I drifted fast asleep in the backseat before "Either Way" was halfway through, before I knew that was the opening track's name.
The VW spots didn't bother me; in fact, they were what started to turn me around. I love my vee-Dub, so naturally it tickled me to hear my favorite band playing in the background of their cutesy new commercials. Especially since I hadn't heard the likes of "Walken" and "You Are My Face" as of yet.
It actually took my fiance, a vehement anti-fan of Wilco's, to get me into the new album. He bought it on iTunes and, after listening, commented that this new guitarist was pretty amazing.
I've been out of the loop. Obviously.
It didn't take long before I knew the entire album by heart, even getting into the noodly tracks featured on Ghost and Sky that usually annoyed me.
In any event, when it was announced that Wilco would be playing not one but two shows at the Pageant, I was overjoyed. Thank goodness we're not going to have any of that Fox Theatre nonsense again. Great venue, but not right for the band. It was bizarre.
We nabbed tickets for the Friday show straight away, which is good because both nights sold out in under an hour of being posted; a day later, they announce a third date. Crazy.
Fortunately we got into the Halo Bar early enough to get a good spot on Nels' side of the stage (i.e. the "drinkin' side") by the time the doors opened. The energy in the house was amazing; I'm sure plenty of people there had tripped to Columbia last summer, but just as many in the crowd were suffering the same live Wilco withdrawals as myself, making for an electric feel to the air.
The opening band was fine, which is pretty good for a Wilco opening band. The only band I've seen open for Wilco that was worth a damn was Calexico, which was sadly during the dreaded Fox Theatre incident.
This group however, a Minnesota trio named Retribution Gospel Choir, gets first place for the biggest bait-and-switch name ever, but makes up for it with its many musical nods to that of its Twin Cities counterparts of yesteryear, Husker Du and The Replacements (and thankfully none to Soul Asylum). They came and went with polite cheers; until they announced they were playing their last song, which was met with thunderous applause.
The setlist was the most diverse, fulfilling and extensive collection of Wilco songs I've ever heard live. I actually think I squealed with glee when Stirratt took the guitar and vocals for "It's Just That Simple." While the setlist was pretty Being There and Summerteeth heavy more than anything, you won't hear me complain. They played "Impossible Germany," "Walken," and "You Are My Face," so all was clever with me.
For the record, the list I've linked too is actually incorrect, as one other user commented beneath it, that was a third, solo-song encore of "The Late Greats". Which makes for another St. Louis first for me. I've never seen any more than 2 encores here, ever; not a one band. I'm very pleased that Wilco was my first.
I'm also fairly certain that I've never seen Wilco go on as long as they did that night.
Many long-time fans would pelt rocks at me for saying so, but Wilco finally has the talented lineup it needed to fully realize the epic rock band potential it's always had. I miss Jay Bennett's harmonies and compositions as much as the next fan, but Sky and this new tour is evidence his time was clearly appropriately spent. If Tweedy can manage to hang onto Nels, Patrick and Stirratt while still cranking out those beautiful lyrics; they'll never lose my faith again.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Last year through my obsession with various mp3 blogs, I was introduced to a band named Ida Maria, who was a high-energy rock band with vocals that resembled Bjork's. I loved them. "Oh My God," "Queen of the World," and "Louie" were in heavy rotation on the iPod and in all CD mixes I shared with friends last year.
Finally, she's gone from unsigned, unpublished, and otherwise unknown into a definite "thing."
I was giddy when I first realized she was finally there for public consumption; obviously, because I wanted more.
But then I listened to her new recording of "Queen of the World." It was overwhelmingly disappointing to say the least. Instead of high-energy toms in the background along with the jangling guitar and frantic vocals, it's become something of a Cat Power/Feist watered-down mess. Slow, disjointed speeds with sleepy vocals. Good lord, can we be done with this smoky, wistful, wide-eyeliner-eyed wankfest? It was fun at first, but I'm suffering from severe burnout.
The good news is, at least some of the original tracks are still intact. Check out "Oh My God" on her MySpace before it's too late.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
So, out of nothing short of sheer boredom this morning, I'm watching Totally 80s on VH1 Classic this morning. Such wonderful moments as Hagar doing am incredibly lame live performance in St. Louis, a live video of "Don't Stop Believin'" shot in -- from what I can tell -- Japan (all the audience members were seated while Perry implores the audience for some sort of placation, and receives none ... brilliant), even "Please Don't Go Girl" by none other than my fave 5 of 1989, NKOTB.
And then, New Edition. Quite possibly the best of all the 80s-90s boy bands, and "If It Isn't Love" is one of the best pop gems the group had to offer. The video started with quick shot to a bespectacled fella in dark, over-sized sunglasses and a voice over that I couldn't quite place; until they shoot his mug again. No, that wasn't ... it couldn't be ... another shot to the band ... then another shot to the sunshaded-mysterio.
Oh, yep. It is. I knew that look on him was familiar. I did, after all, just watch Ray for the first time a couple of months ago.
Ladies and gentlemen, for your morning enjoyment, I present to you; Jamie Foxx, some random Asian girl (presumably the choreographer?) and New Edition.
Oh, Bobby, times were much simpler then.
Monday, March 31, 2008
This month’s issue of Blender*, as it turns out, has a feature on St. Louis’s very own Beatle Bob. The reason? The slated-for-2008-release on a documentary film about the man.
I had no idea.
In the teaser (above), everyone one of the interviewees when describing Bob describe him as though they would a retarded son or disabled brother, with the adoration only one would have for someone severely damaged; save for Jello Biafara, who almost seems to envy his way of life. (How very punk of him.) It’s as though these people only like him because they pity him; well, that, and the myth that with his appearance comes fame.
I was just surprised to see that he had such national acclaim.
I am disappointed that the teaser didn’t touch much of the subject matter of the film; which, while it is largely about Bob’s super-fandom, it’s also the shrouded enigma that is the person himself. Who he is, what he does, where he lives. It all seems to be a long strand of lies; and while most speculate it’s due to some sort of psychological disorder, no one knows for sure.
It’s bizarre to me that someone so phony can get by based on ... charm? pity? ... alone; little to no questions asked; or even with questions asked and faux-answers given, and yet still be so highly regarded by so many.
The feature in Blender shed far more light, basically making him out to be a bold-faced, though somehow excusable, pathological liar and thief. Even Lisa (Andris, the former manager of the Hi-Pointe), gets in on the action in defending his shenanigans; something I recall her doing even back in the days of the Beatle Bob v. Baton Bob Non Prophet sketch.
I just don’t get it. He’s an annoying jerk who hinders the music experience for anyone nearby at a show; I remember the first time I saw him, Superdrag in 2000 at the Galaxy, I was amused. The first time I really got annoyed and even angry with him, though, was when I saw the Decemberists in the Duck Room back in 2006. It was an art-nerrrd show and a lot of the younger, super-fans of the group were sitting on the floor in front of the stage as the band began to play (they opened with "Shanty for the Artethusia," if memory serves correctly); less than half the song in, guess who apparates down in stage center, doing his voodoo/card-shuffle jig. It was distracting, and not at all in the spirit of the performance; which, if you know the Decemberists, you know is more cerebral and theatrical than anything.
Even now I feel like I’m giving him more credit by just discussing, thinking, or even reading about him. I guess that’s just it; he’s an intriguing figure, love him or hate him. But I definitely know that I find myself wanting to see this movie now.
*This guy’s blog puts it perfectly in describing what Blender is ... it is total pap, but just sort of randomly started showing up in Brian’s mailbox one day somehow; and how can you cancel a subscription you never subscribed to?
Friday, February 22, 2008
The idea started when I was listening to my albums today while working. It occurs to me that the fine art of the Side Two, Track One has been lost in the digital shuffle; starting with CDs and now certainly in the iTunes download-as-you-like world. But when you stop and think about it, some of the best -- and certainly my favorite -- songs come somewhere mid-way through the album. Yes. Side Two, Track One is the unsung hero of the music world. So here is my afternoon tribute to Side Two, Track One; based entirely only on albums in my possession.
1. "Every Breath You Take" - The Police, Syncronicity
I think I can speak for everyone when I say this is the world's favorite song about the fine art of stalking.
2. "God Only Knows" - The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds
Those boys' lyrics sure are as sweet as their harmonies.
3. "Red Eyed and Blue" - Wilco, Being There
Just a great song about the misery that comes with being drug-obsessed sell outs ... and it launches straight into the next song, which is a very hopeful, fun singalong.
4. "Passionate Kisses" - Lucinda Williams, Lucinda Williams
Before she sold the rights to whats-her-face to make the song a multi-platinum single, my favorite southern fried singer/songwriter recorded her own version of the song on this release. I like it; it's straight-forward, and a really, honest sweet love song.
5. "Don't Get Me Wrong" - The Pretenders, Get Close
This is just an infectious, dance-y delicious pop song.
6. "Moonchild" - Cibo Matto, Stereo-type A
Easily my favorite song on this album, it's silky-smooth R&B as sung by two adorable Japanese funk/soul/rap/trip/hop rockers. They are badass.
7. "Beat It" - Michael Jackson, Thriller
Ahh, the glory days of when MJ was still black. It's one of his greatest hits, and definitely was one of my favorite videos of his; but I dare you to hear this song and not have Yankovic's version plaguing your brain for the rest of the day. Eh, Brian?
8. "Janie Jones" - The Clash, The Clash
This is my favorite Clash song. End of story.
9. "Uptown Girl" - Billy Joel, An Innocent Man
I love the Joel, and this song is a nice nod of his to the "fairer days" of the 50s. At least, stylistically speaking.
10. "Ripple" - The Grateful Dead, American Beauty
I save this for 10 because I know the GIGANTIC ration of shit I'm going to get from loads of people ... but I chose it only because A) it's legitimately a great Side Two, Track One and B) it's involvement in the series finale of Freaks and Geeks. And yeah, I like it. So sue me. I can't like one Dead song?!
Now it's your turn, here are the rules (yes, of course there are rules):1. Go to your vinyl collection (vinyl only will do, no cheating by using your CDs).
2. They must be original release LPs. I.e. No "Greatest Hits" or other compilations.
3. Pick out your 10 favorite Side Two, Track Ones.
4. Post your answers in a comment to this blog.