Sunday, September 30, 2007

Bearded Jonny? Or DAVE GROHL. You decide.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

So in case any of you were wondering where I am -- yes, I know, THRONGS of you, armed with cameras and a chance at a lock of my hair! -- I *am* in fact back in Los Angeles, "workin' it" and continuing in my attempt to wrestle this city to the ground, throttle it, and then tongue-kiss its corpse. Today, in a freak of nature that has the hale and hearty Angeleans scattering like cockroaches into their million-dollar abodes, it is raining. What's so frickin' big about rain, you ask? I didn't know either, but when they shut my work down a couple hours earlyyesterday it struck me that the rain in Los Angeles is a lot like the Oobleck in the Dr. Seuss book "Bartholomew and the Oobleck," in which a bunch of wizards summon forth green gloppy stuff from the skies to please a bored king. In other words: they ain't got a clue how to deal with it. It's kind of funny. I stood up at work and screamed at the top of my lungs "YOU ARE ALL A BUNCH OF PUSSIES." My co-workers looked genuinely hurt. "Hey -- I'm not a pussy," one of them said, with a slightly hangdog expression. Note to self: do not call the workers at your new job "pussies." Even if its true. YOU ARE ALL PUSSIES, LOS ANGELES.

Listening to: the sound of rain.

Watching: rain. Pissing down from all angles. I moved here to escape this nonsense.

Reading: these words as I'm typing them to you. If I could read "rain," I probably would have to.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Oh, NO!

First Charles Nelson Reilly, now Brett Somers!

I guess it figures, since they were such foils of each other on "Match Game," huh? One goes and then sends for the other from the great beyond so they can snark with God. Or possibly about God.

"When Jesus was on the cross, the Roman soldiers stared at his huge BLANK. His huge BLANK."

(Charles Nelson and Brett scribble furiously)

Metal Machine Musings

This here is a kind of loveable interview with the famously prickly Lou Reed who seems to be getting kinda sweet in his dotage, har har (as if someone as intrinsically brainy and with-it as Lou could ever have a "dotage"). Nevertheless, its interesting to hear his perspective -- what sounds like maybe its his honest perspective, too, minus any myth or bullshit -- on "Metal Machine Music," an album I admire the hell out of but, like probably the rest of you, have never made it all the way through.

Scratch that -- I should say most of you. I have one friend who adores MMM, and listens to it constantly. To him I say: power to the people, brother, I feel that way about a lot of supposedly "unlistenable" music (I play Steven Reich's "Music for 18 Musicians" weekly), but for some reason the cascades of feedback on MMM have never sat right with me. Maybe ten years from now -- music like that has a way of sneaking up on me. I'm still waiting for those last few John Zorn things to sit with me (the ones where Mike Patton goes GHRHGHRMFJERKHWERLKSDJLKJDF:KJELKJKLSDFJKJDHF really loud over some pretty awesome thrash-jazz-metal-crunge-funk-fuck).

Supposedly, if you listen close, you can here vaguaries and subtleties and light and dark and chiaroscuro and such in MMM -- to me its always just sounded like one loud SKRONK, but I'm willing to very much admit that I'm wrong. Perhaps this live performance that's just out is a way for me to rediscover it. Dunno. I'm willing to stand behind the bleak, Grand Guignol-ish-ness of "Berlin," or even the sweet pop of "Coney Island Baby" but in much the same way the noise disc on Neil Young's "Arc/Weld" failed to sit with me, to quote Juno, to me, "It's just noise, man."

That said: Sorry, Juno. I finally was in the right place to enjoy "Daydream Nation," 20 years after the rest of the universe acknowledged its awesomeness. Let's just say its the perfect example of me playing against type.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Songs that make me well up with tears, no matter when I hear them, #25456:

"America" by Simon and Garfunkel. Never fails.

Furthermore, how is it possible that Paul Simon isn't recognized as one of the great poets of the 60s rock era? I think their image as "the group your fuddy-duddy folks liked" killed 'em during the punk era, or something -- of course that's hoo-ha, your parents liked 'em but that doesn't mean they, like, suck or something. They liked 'em because, like the Beatles, Paul Simon's songwriting spoke and continues to speak to a massive swath of people. There's something for everyone -- astonishing melodies, clever turns of phrase, gorgeous, soaring singing, interesting song structure, just exactly the kind of thing nobody's doing anymore. Okay, yeah, that makes me sound like a fuddy-duddy, but where *are* our poets? Who's writing lyrics that bowl you over? There's plenty of bands I like but nobody where I'd go "I'd stack this guy up against Paul Simon or Bob Dylan." Feh.

Someone help me across the street, will ya?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I get to blog it first!

Official Juno Trailer!

So, I'm listening to a download of Brian Wilson's remarkable new song-suite "Lucky Old Sun (A Narrative)."

On first listening, I have to say that about 90% of the stuff knocks me out completely. It strikes me that FINALLY, AT LAST, Brian is making the kind of music he should be making at this stage of his career -- mature sounding stuff with bigger thoughts behind it and some thought given to structure and arrangement rather then just a random toss-off of odds'n'ends; very much like an evolution of the best of his 60s and 70s work rather than the odd digression something like "Imagination" sounded like. Its quirky enough that it contains the soul of the man that made "Love You" and "BW88" but polished enough that it sounds like the guy who made Pet Sounds and Smile, too. Much like "Smile" itself, it contains the distillation of BOTH of Brian's personalities, and I think that's what makes it special. Whereas a lot of Brian's later works don't necessarily contain either of them.

It does work best as a whole, but so does Smile, in a way, no matter what your "whole" was (even if it was just your home mix !), and that's kind of the beauty of this kind of music. It has a THING behind it and tying it all down which says to me that some real heavy thought has gone into it. I get the feeling that this is the kind of thing Brian MEANT to do with Smile and stuff like the Fairy Tale, but now he's finally in a place where if he TRIES, and works his ass off, he can pull that stuff off the way he means to.

In a lot of ways it strikes me that this is Brian's answer to "Orange Crate Art." That album has always struck me as Van Dyke's paen to California, sort of a sepia-tinged, nostalgic look at kind of a plummy, comfortable California, the kind of place occupied by a kind of country charmer like Van Dyke. "Lucky Old Sun" is a different animal, but related -- the sepia-tinging is replaced by a 1960s saturated color television set, and its not quite the same California, really -- its very much the California of "Surfin' Safari" but looked back upon from a later period, which is really kind of a neat perspective, in the same way it was great to hear Brian at three-score-and-five years old singing "Heroes and Villains."

Specific songs are gonna have to wait for later, the more I get to involve myself in it. On first blush I adore every incident of the ol' Shortenin' Bread riff, 'cause that's so the heart of Brian Wilson in a lot of ways. And I think "California Roll" kicks my ass in a certain way. There was nothing that struck me as unpleasant or wrong and the narration rang true as well. Oh -- and there's not a question in my mind that these songs are Brian Wilson-penned -- they absolutely contain all the hallmarks of Brian Wilson compositions, and that is as distinctive as a fingerprint. Even his best imitators can't find that THING, that distinctive BRIAN WILSON THING that only Brian can wield. These songs have that in spades. I think even the most paranoid "Brian Doesn't Write His Own Songs Anymore" detractor can hear that.

First blush: not counting Smile, this is the best work he's done since "Brian Wilson 1988," or, if one's being particularly generous (or hates the farting synths on that one), since "Love You" or even since something like "Friends" which was the last time Brian tried a sort of loose "suite" of related sounds and songs. Its certainly the most coherent and striking piece he's attempted since any of his comebacks, and the man who's writing these songs sounds more confident and cocksure than the guy who's been touring for a while. He knows he rules. That's beautiful to see.

Cannot WAIT for a full album of this work.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

So, back in Minneapolis. PHEW. That was one hell of a shit of a deal. My report doesn't even do it justice. My stony little heart is swollen with pride!

So, "Graduation." If you're like me, and the other 200000000 people in the world, you probably picked up a copy of this today (unless you're sans taste, in which case maybe you picked up the 50 Cent record instead? For shame!) I'm still digesting but it sounds slicker and less baroque than last time, probably because of the lack of Jon Brion presence on there, but there's still enough awesome batshit crazy stuff to interest me, like the fucking cool Can sample here and the Mountain sample there, and there, and there. Plus, the guy's flow is smooth as butter, as always. Gimme a few more listens and I promise I'll give you a decent review. My initial impression: very positive, but maybe not quite as floored as last time -- but then again, I was REEEEALLLLY floored last time, so if we've got, y'know, "Magical Mystery Tour" instead of "Sgt. Pepper" or whatever, to hyperbolize the FUCK out of it (Kanye ain't no Beatle, I'm just drawing a comparison level-wise) that's still not bad at all.

Dude, I'm really MORE psyched about the initial reports of the new Brian Wilson suite "Lucky Old Sun (A Narrative)" coming out of the UK. Advance word from even some of the more cynical critics is that this is indeed "Smile" part deux, or at least "Orange Crate Art" part deux, which, considering that was 90% a Van Dyke success, is not fucking bad at all, is it? On there's a couple preview tracks, the best of which is "Midnight's Another Day," a staggeringly magnificent song equal to anything the man did in his heyday and I do NOT say that lightly. And a Gershwin-esque track called "Live Let Live" snuck out on the "Arctic Tale" soundtrack too, and that song garnered twenty, thirty plays from me and Deebs. Again, more as I hear more.

GLAD AS HELL to be with the kiddo this week. There was a four-foot-tall hole in my heart these weeks in LA -- as much as I adore it there, it just ain't the same without her. We picked up a pop-up book of "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon," which I read on the plane and absolutely fell in love with. I understand its not well-regarded as King books go, proving once again that people have NO TASTE WHATSOEVER. I was in tears at the end. Honest.

Monday, September 10, 2007


So, uh, I'm back. Um --

You want the goods on the Toronto Film Festival, no?

Like most probably the most awesome time of my life. Even though "Juno" isn't MY success per se (although seeing Jason Bateman play a slightly more skeezy but no less, um, arrested version of myself is pretty awesome) I'm still thrilled sick at all the buzz and craziness that's been going on around here. I mean, seriously, BUZZ. CRAZINESS. A buzz as loud as the swarming of hundreds of buzzing honeybees slowly dying from that weird hive sickness thing. That loud. Man, I'm proud of that girl.

- Meeting all the Juno actors was mind-bogglingly cool. Diablo and I are both rabid Arrested Development fanatics (TOO LATE -- its our fault, like exactly our two people's fault, that the show was canceled because we only watched sporadically, curse us forever!) and meeting the Bluths (both of whom are awesome human beings AND hysterical actors) made my geek head spin around like that little kid from the Exorcist who was hot in all those prison movies. Also rad: J.K. Simmons, who didn't at all seem to mind me telling him how killer awesome he was in Spider-Man. Well, he was. There's no denying, is there? Can you imagine another human being as J. Jonah? Alison Janney was gracious and kind and sweet, Ellen Page is fucking HARD FUCKING CORE and Olivia Thirlby is kind of the surprise awesome actress from the film, when you see it you'll go "wow, ELLEN IS GREAT and wow, MICHAEL CERA --" and suddenly you'll go "and holy shit, Olivia Thirlby is tearing the living shit out of that part," but she's so effortless at doing so you almost don't notice until of course you suddenly do. I say she's channeling my wife -- you folks who know her personally will have to decide.

- Got to talk at length to Edgar Wright, who made my favorite film this year, Hot Fuzz. I told him "I thought "Hot Fuzz" was the best film of the year*," and I'm sure he thought "wow, this guy is blowing smoke up my arse," except those were my exact words upon leaving the theater -- Diablo will attest! -- "Holy shit, that was the BEST MOVIE OF THE YEAR." And it is, too, and Shaun of the Dead was the best movie of whatever the year was THAT bastard came out, and I'm sure whatever his next project will be the best movie of whatever year it comes out, too, especially if, as rumored, he adapts the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels. White fucking hot, that. Plus: He's a PAUL WILLIAMS FAN. Just when you think "this guy cannot get any cooler," he turns around and is a Paul Williams fan. You guys know how I feel about "Someday Man."

- I get a little starstruck around actors (example: Anne Hathaway thinks I'm a total douchebag because I was so dumbstruck I babbled inanely at her about what a great improviser she was!). And I always find that I have nothing to say unless I've had a few (at which point I probably have too MUCH to say). But the one time I got really, really, really starstruck was when I rode an elevator with Jim Broadbent. If you don't recognize the name, he's in *every British movie ever made*. He's in Hot Fuzz, for one, and is about to be in the new Indy Jones for another, and he's AMAZING in Art School Confidential, and Gangs of New York, and about 2000000 other movies as well. I wanted to say "wow, you're so awesome, I loved you in Hot Fuzz -- oh, and by the way, I know Edgar!" But all I said was "". That's the sound of me sweating profusely, looking around nervously, and finally getting off the elevator.

- Ben Affleck is TALL, and Jennifer Garner is STUNNING in real life. She said to me "Oh, I've heard all about you," and I thought "wow, Jennifer Garner knows who I am," which, for a dorky nerd from Minneapolis, is pretty amazing. Take that, Cooper High School Football Team**.

- I have seen, other than Juno, exactly zero films at the festival. Zero. Tonight I'm told we may get to see one, I'll tell y'all how it is. I would have liked to have seen the Cronenberg thing (which J. Reitman nicknamed "Dick Shower Knife Fight" -- when you see it, you'll know) and the Coen Brothers thing. Also, today I tried to find a movie theater NOT showing festival movies so I could see "3:10 To Yuma," but there aren't any.

- Best party: last night we went to the party for "Joy Division," the documentary about the band of the same name (duh) which we didn't get to see (duh duh) -- but dude, PETER FUCKING HOOK was there, DJ'ing a set. You don't understand. When I was in college, I bought a leather biker jaket (it was that era -- I was goth, okay?) and unlike everybody else, who painted "BAUHAUS" on the back of their jacket, I painted my favorite fucking band of the era -- NEW ORDER. Not even Joy Division, but NEW ORDER. To this day, I worship them, and seeing Hookie three feet in front of me spinning a buncha Joy Division/New Order remixes made my sixteen-year-old self freak the fuck out and jump up and down. I danced. Those of you who know me know that I'm too self-conscious and nervous to dance but you better believe I danced to Peter Fucking Hook.

- Seen: Rob Zombie, getting out of a black sedan, looking cool as shit.

- Eaten: a 100 dollar breakfast brunch which seriously was worth the entire hundred dollars, and DELICIOUS sausages from the street vendors. Yes -- I *am* a Vegan, but I swore to myself when I became one that I would always be flexible enough to still allow for cultural experiences that involve meat. If I'm in another country and there's a hot shit meat product like the fucking spicy sausages here, you're damn tootin' I'm gonna eat them. Sorry, pigs and cows. I love you all very much and I don't even wear leather anymore but listen -- I'm also all about discovering cultures from the inside, and sometimes that involves meat.

- Product Review: The Cinnamon Twix. Seriously, folks, the best candy bar ever made by anybody ever. It tastes like that delicious mexican cocoa. You know the stuff. You should DEMAND they start making it in the US, because its seriously *that good*.

More later -- howdy!

* Besides Juno of course!
** Yeah, I still hold a grudge. Almost twenty years and I still hold a freakin' grudge.