Monday, December 29, 2008

GONE FISHIN'

Goin' OFF THE GRID like Jason Bourne for a week or so.

Be back Tuesday, Jan 6th -- have a good new year, Hatesexy peeps!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

2008 Geek Film List

So: I'm a film geek. Not a FAN so much as just a GEEK. I've been criticized in the past for not seeing enough quote "grown-up" unquote movies. But I think you guys, my loyal and humble readers, all know i prefer science fiction / fantasy / superhero crap / horror films / stupid comedies / spy movies / cartoons to, y'know, films about relationships and costume period dramas and that kind of thing. You also know that, every year, that my list is mostly gonna contain those types of films. I haven't seen "Milk" or "Gran Torino" yet, and I'm sure I will at some point, and I'm sure when I do I'm gonna love 'em or at the very least appreciate them. I have, however, seen Iron Man twice.

So -- you know me, you know what I like. My name is Jonny. I'm a geek. Here's my list.

(*note* -- I notice I didn't see any comedies this year, or barely any, and certainly none that make the list. I didn't see Tropic Thunder. I didn't see Zach and Miri. I will at some point, and then we can talk again.)

Iron Man. Sorry folks, for my money, the best superhero film of all time -- okay, mayyyyybe barring the original Superman from '79, or at least the first half of that film before Luthor enters the picture -- is Iron Man. Mah friends, it is pitch perfect. It FEELS like the original comic book in every way. It isn't overwhelmingly dark like a certain other superhero film this year, and it isn't overblown or occasionally stupid like, I dunno, Daredevil or Spider-Man 3. And best of all, it exists in a larger universe where there are actually other superheroes, and they interact and connect, which is like frickin' geek catnip, y'know? Robert Downey, Jr. is amazing casting, I'll watch Jeff Bridges act the fucking phonebook, and I even liked Gwyneth "Fishstick" Paltrow. FUN. It was great, great fun, the most fun I've had in the movies in a long, long time.

Wall-E. Just -- wow. A feast for the senses, a gloriously funny and heartwarming film that never descends into maudlinity. I'm glad the film critics across the country are acknowledging how amazing this film is, too -- usually animated flicks get shoved into the "kids' films" bucket and ignored come awards time (except, of course, in the technical arena -- whee!) The main character doesn't even SPEAK except a few noises and to say his own name, and yet you fall madly in love with him, and that's an accomplishment. Possibly the best Pixar film thus far (but then, I have weird tastes -- my second favorite is Cars, with its love of Route 66-ania).

Cloverfield. Somewhere between the knocked-out audience we sat with for this film and eight months later, public opinion shifted on this film. Don't know why, don't know how. Totally undeserved, too -- for my money, the best pure scares I had in the movies this year BAR NONE. This was what I wanted all the "giant monster ravages the countryside" movies of the 50s to be like -- all assault and terror and never-ending twists and turns and peril (if they'd had budgets that allowed for more than MAN IN SUIT! maybe they would have been!) J. J. Abrams took an old cinema staple, turned it on its ass and whooped it up for the cynical digital age, and managed to scare the fucking beejezus out of me while only BARELY EVEN SHOWING THE MONSTER IN QUESTION. Y'know? Amazing. Creepy-crawly and scary and amazing.

Burn After Reading. Okay, fair's fair -- I love Los Bros. Coen. I think, although "No Country" was one of the best films I've seen in the last 10 years, that I like them best when they write little unassuming stories like this one full of extremely stupid people that fuck each others' lives up. Their "big" movies are great, but when they shoot low they end up hitting high anyway. Those who saw it: tell me you didn't jump TWENTY FEET IN THE AIR when, smack in the middle of the movie, it suddenly takes a huge left fucking turn that leaves you completely stunned. And Brad Pitt's performance is best-supporting-actor Oscar-worthy, methinks.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I stand by my original opinion -- in fact, if anything, this film was better upon second viewing. Apart from a couple wobbly moments at the very beginning -- it takes Harrison a minute or two to find the heart of the character again, and can someone please keep George Lucas away from cute CGI creatures for the rest of eternity? -- it hits the mark, over and over. And again: the original films were the serial adventures of the 30s, THIS film was all about 50s sci-fi, and that is why there's aliens in it. Okay? Are we settled on that point?? The script coulda been a little punchier in places, but I still think this film will age well. Talk to me in ten years.

Quantum of Solace. I just wrote the review for this one, so you know how I feel. Bond has never been about the gadgets and broads, and winky-winky double entendres do not "sexy" make. A taut, fascinating, slightly mystifying, visually-fascinating thriller, and an intriguing addition to the series. Next time: Moneypenny. Please.

The Incredible Hulk. Wondering: how come nobody was talking about this film? Again, saw it twice, better even the second time, part of the same "larger universe" thing that Iron Man is, and perfectly nails the comic book in question. Great casting, great acting, great CGI (WAY better than the last Hulk film, like way way better), and some terrific action. One slight misstep: Tim Roth, whom I normally adore, seems mismatched. Not quite as fun as Iron Man, but I still had a total blast.

The Dark Knight. FINALLY I get to the Dark Knight, and honestly, I wasn't sure if it was gonna make my list, because I have some serious misgivings about this one. Yes -- Heath Ledger's performance was career-defining, and it is a tragedy beyond tragedy that he won't be able to reprise the role, nor be recognized for it in his lifetime. But in the rush to congratulate this film, there are some serious problems with the film that have been overlooked. #1: doesn't anybody mind Bale's "gritty Batman" voice? #2: the tone is unrelentingly dark, almost to the point where it becomes funny. #3: it's overlong by about half an hour. #4: I'm not sure the two-face arc works, and did we really need to kill off Rachel? What was the point of that, exactly? ISSUES. I have issues. I recognize the achievements of this film, but I think the first one was far better, visually and plotwise and acting. It's GOOD but I think there are two other superhero movies this year that far surpass it.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. I know, I know -- its so unhip to like The Big Jesus Lion Story with its anvilicious allegories and bright-sunny-happy mood, anymore. But I get so sucked into this world in a way I don't with, like, Lord of the Rings or (sorry!) Phillip Pullman's. I remember reading these books as a kid and maybe they didn't make me think like LOTR or hate God like the Amber Spyglass but man, did Lewis get where kids wanna be when the real world gets 'em down. And I think the films do a damn fine job of capturing that -- visually enrapturing, faithful to the source material, beautiful and airy-light and fun.

The X-Files: I Want To Believe. We just saw this last night, and I have a question: Do you all, like, not like the X-Files anymore or something?? Why did nobody go see this? I fully anticipated, from the numbers it did and the reviews it got, to suck, or at least be totally mediocre, but it, like, DIDN'T. It felt like a great, well-developed X-Files episode, and maybe that doesn't make it a great movie but it sure makes it a good something or other. It's creepy and scary and has great character arcs for Mulder and Scully and at no point did I go "man, this is stupid" or "man, I'm so sick of the "mytharc" crap" or whatever that I did at the low points of the series. As Harry Knowles points out: these characters are our friends. I missed them, and this was FAR, FAR, ***FAR*** better than it got credit for. Give it a rent, without fear.

MOVIES THAT DISAPPOINTED ME:

Speed Racer -- LOOKED astonishing, like visually one of the coolest films ever. Feather-light plot-wise. Fun, but not ENOUGH fun.

Hellboy II -- I just blogged about this and still, GAHHHHHH.

Get Smart -- not actually disappointing -- can any movie with Anne Hathaway be TRULY disappointing?? -- and I *did* laugh, but it didn't go NEARLY far enough into screwball territory. Buck Henry, come home, all is forgiven.

The Ruins -- the book gave me the SERIOUS CREEPING HEEBIE-JEEBIES for weeks. The movie wasn't scary at all. FAIL.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

LA Denizens: upcoming Silver Phial show!

My Mixed Emotions vol. 453: Phil Collins

I so desperately want to hate Phil Collins. I mean, duh, right? There's really nobody in the history of rock I should hate more, is there? Nobody more despicably commercially-minded, nobody more kind of icky and British-'cause-it's-cute and bald and horrible. Nobody who is more the exact antithesis of everything that's good and right and rebellious and angry and dark and cool about rock music. He is a black hole of hip -- he actually sucks OTHER musicians' hipness in with him. When he played with Led Zeppelin at Live Aid in '86 or whenever, he actually made THEM less hip. And they're a fucking bulletproof tiger. He's twenty-five shades of wrong, thirty-two fucking flavors of wrong. He's Phil Fucking Collins, motherfuckers, and he's a pariah non pareil.

Except -- my problem, folks, is that I can't. I just can't hate him. I've managed to fix my inability to hate Coldplay (that lyric about Roman Catholic choirs singing made me so physically ill I was on bed-rest for a week just to recover, and I'm glad Joe Satriani is suing them for it, 'cause they were askin' for it) but even WITH the soundtrack to Tarzan, I can't fix this. It's a problem.

Let's examine, for a moment, why, exactly:

1. He was in A Hard Day's Night and you weren't. Unfortunately, this automatically makes him cooler than you. Maybe not cooler than most other musicians of that era but definitely cooler than you. So that takes away the "high and mighty" defense, i.e. "I was in the Brian Jonestown Massacre for ten minutes so I'm cooler than Phil Collins." Were you in A Hard Day's Night? You weren't? Case closed.

2. Early Genesis was indisputably righteous. They may not have the cache they did back in the 70s, but even still, people will qualify their hatred of Genesis and Phil Collins with the phrase "...but they were good when Peter Gabriel was in them." And it's true, they were. And Phil's drumming plays no small part in that -- if they'd had a wimpy, tempo-less drummer like, say, a Carl Palmer, they'd have about 1/10th the power they did have. I mean, Steve Hackett ain't exactly Tony Iommi, so why'd they rock then? A: Phil Collins. Plus, dig his harmonies with Peter Gabriel -- they have the identical voice and there's times you can't tell who's singing what.

3. Early-late period Genesis is better than you think it is. I ain't talking about the just-post-Gabriel era of "Trick of the Tail" because frankly, without Gabriel, their prog-rock noodlings lacked, y'know, intellectualism and eccentricity, which is kinda why the group was good to begin with (well, that and Gabriel's foam-rubber costumes -- it was like watching the prog-rock Rock-A-Fire Explosion!). It's just lots of long noodly guitar solos. But there was a brief, shining moment when Phil's commercial leanings merged perfectly with the still-present progressiveness of the group AND the just-developing new wave influences of the early 80s. I'm talking about the Duke and Abacab albums, and a few surrounding singles.

Let me prove it to you:





4. You like "Against All Odds." You do. I mean, maybe you don't think you do, but I bet you really do. Flash back with me to the mid-80s -- that is, if you weren't, like, a zygote at the time. You're at a high school dance. That pretty cheerleader you've been eying is sitting over in the corner. You wanna dance with her, but they're playing Van Halen, and what's the good of that?? Suddenly "Against All Odds" comes on. Ah -- it's your in, my friend. You approach her. "Um -- care to, uh, dance?" you stammer. She looks coyly up at you, beautiful in her feathered hair and geometric-patterned dress. "Okay," she shrugs. Good enough. Phil Collins says: you're welcome.

5. There is at least one other Phil solo song you secretly like. Late at night, when nobody's home, you've got that one Phil Collins song on your iPod, and you play it, and maybe cry a little bit. Maybe it's "Sussudio," and you wonder, endlessly, what does it mean? Maybe it's "In The Air Tonight" -- did he watch that guy drown, or didn't he? For me, it's an obscure little low-level hit called "I Cannot Believe It's True," which has the power to take me RIGHT BACK to 1982, and my very first kiss with the lovely Eithne Daire. Sigh!



6. He is a good drummer.



Get past the minute and a half of Peter Gabriel pretending to mow the lawn, and listen to Phil's playing. He's solid like Bonham, but then fills like Bill Bruford, and he never ever ever gets in the smegging way, and he grooves. And any way, you probably haven't heard this song, so give it a go.

So end result: I hate Phil even less and maybe you do too. Or maybe you still feel a deep, abiding loathing for him, in which case only sixteen hours of Miami Vice will help you, and that isn't on YouTube.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Year end addendum

How the heck could I have forgotten the Cure's "4:13 Dream?" HOW?

It's phenomenal, and if you don't have it, GET IT.

Monday, December 15, 2008

WLOL listeners and Hines and Berglund fans!

I didn't even remember this song EXISTED but Trix mentioned it last night, and then Max blogged it this morning, and WOW did it bring back a flood o' memories. Morning DJ's Hines and Berglund on now-defunct radio station WLOL 99.5 in Minneapolis played this until it became actually disturbing.



I think it is actually *impossible* to feel shitty when you listen to this.

(PS: The little YouTube link has the title wrong -- it is HUBBA - HUBBA ZOOT ZOOT. Not Hubba Bubba. Hubba Bubba's the gum. Got it? Good.)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

FUCK

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Some Albums I Liked In 2008

Okay, so my rant goes like this: I've read so many year-end lists, now, and have been utterly *appalled* at how much awful, ball-less music is contained therein. Indie Rock reigns supreme these days -- playing music that lacks actual, honest-to-christ rock is cool, and being completely intellectual and up in your own head (vs. enjoying rocking your balls off) is, like, totally in. As much as I try, I can't get it up for, like, Vampire Weekend. Or Death Cab For Cutie. Or Likke Li, or British Sea Power or or or or - GAHH. GAHH! Ball-less! And drab, and so totally NOT SEXY, if that makes any sense.

That said: there's lots that DOES turn me on, and you'll notice a preponderance of actual, sexy ROCK. I'll leave the R&B list to friends of mine who know more and listen more -- there was a lotta great THAT this year, too, but this is my expertise:


Glasvegas, S/T -- sounds like the Jesus and Mary Chain fronted by the bloke from the Proclaimers. And if that frightens you, and it probably should, you'll be pleasantly surprised, methinks. The songs are magnificent, epic, big, sweeping, great, fun.

Black Angels, Directions To See A Ghost -- one chord and the truth, or something like that. Dark, evil psychedelia, from the Spacemen 3 region, filtered through a bit of freak-folk sensibility, but not the icky bits, if that makes any sense.

Black Mountain, In The Future -- dark, ominous, HEAVY rock and roll. Stoner rock to be sure, but damn smart, mysterious stoner rock.

Glen Campbell, Meet Glen Campbell -- in which the man proves that he's STILL FUCKING GOT IT, as witness his ability to turn my very least favorite Foo Fighters song (do I have a favorite? I do not!) into something transcendent. I could listen to him sing the phone book. Swear to god.

Darker My Love, 2 -- would be on the list if it contained only "Two Ways Out," my favorite single of the year, hands down. As it happens, it contains ten other magnificent songs, and a healthy smatterin' of pure fuzztone bliss.

Duffy, Rockferry -- THAT VOICE! THOSE SONGS! THAT PRODUCTION! I mean, you'd have to be, like, *dead* to not appreciate how cool this is, and how righteous. If yr. sad that Amy Winehouse will never make another album, Duffy should at least ease your pain a little.

Flight of the Conchords, S/T -- comedy rock that actually, y'know, rocks. Most comedy records have very little replay value -- once the joke is done, YOU'RE done. Meanwhile, I played "Motha'uckas" about two hundred times this year and still love it.

Foxoboro Hottubs, Stop Drop and Roll!!! -- pure, unmitigated, hook-laden garage-rock glory from a disguised Green Day. Who knew they had it in 'em? Best song: "Red Tide," which appears to be a Kinksian ode to a woman's "special time."

Magnetic Fields, Distortion -- hated it at first. STILL hate the sound. Like, HATE. Meanwhile, the songs have grown on me, BIG TIME.

Oasis, Dig Out Your Soul -- in which our esteemed Mancunian heroes turn in an album with only two dud songs. Its a fairly magnificent work, and if this list was in any order, would reside near the top, if only to piss off Jim DeRogatis, who continues to (as always!) miss the point.

Primal Scream, Beautiful Future -- the fuck? Did nobody buy this record? Did nobody notice its strange and unholy combination of fuzzrock and 80s new wave pop?? It's magnificent. Go back, relisten. It should be in EVERY critics' top ten.

Raphael Saadiq, The Way I See It -- Motown revivalism at its purest -- but oddly, it doesn't just wallow in soppy balladism, it actually ROCKS. A magnificent album that gets better with every listen.

The Raveonettes, Lust Lust Lust -- my SECOND favorite single of the year was the fuzz-laden "Aly, Walk With Me," a mysterious spy-music slab. Elsewhere, there's enough three-chord pop to make the ghost of the Primitives happy.

Ryan Adams, Cardinology -- discussed in these very pages. I shan't reiterate other than to say its my favorite breakup record.

The Verve, Forth -- one shitty hit single and an entire rest-of-the-album of cool psych-rock stoner jamz. It was far better than it was given credit for, and deserves a relisten.

Polara, Beekeeping -- their best since the 2nd, or even the 1st -- a magnificent slab of angry, fuzzy, uplifting, rip-snorting songwriting, one of THREE (!) albums auteur Ed Ackerson put out this year, ALL of which are totally worthy listening. Maybe my second most-played album this year.

AC/DC, Black Ice -- if it wasn't so perverse, and if it wasn't five songs too long, I'd let this one top my list of the year just for being, y'know, so damn PURE. It's AC/DC, it's heavy, it rocks, game over.

Brian Wilson, That Lucky Old Sun -- in which our man finally delivers an entirely solid album of pop glory in the form of an odd conceptual ode to California, the less boosh-wa version of his Van Dyke Parks collabo "Orange Crate Art."

Kings of Leon, Only By The Night -- Amazon.com let this album top their list, and power to 'em for it. I think I would too, if this list had numbers. "Stadium rock?" Sure, if you define the term as meaning "songs with tremendous hooks and power." A killer album, and CRIMINALLY underrated.

Paul McCartney / The Fireman, Electric Arguments -- in which our other man delivers a fully experimental, loose, fully awesome psych-rock album for the first time in years. If you'd wondered where "Pepper"-era McCartney went -- here he is, like *really, fully is*.

MGMT, Oracular Spectacular -- yeah, okay, this one IS indie, but its magnificent. Here's a group that writes great disco-pop-dancey-whatever songs, perfect for indie radio play, but with INSIGHTFUL, INTERESTING lyrics and great arrangements and hooks.

REM, Accelerate -- who knew they had it in 'em? I certainly didn't think they had a jot of actual rock left, and they managed to turn in a non-sucky album that's about, oh, 2/3 great. This one is tending to hover at the bottom of official polls, like they feel they should nod to it so REM doesn't think its okay to go back to writing bad Beach Boys pastiche -- but I think it stands on its own.

PS: Oh, I forgot Gary Louris' "Vagabonds!" A phenomenal, gorgeous little record -- modest, homespun charms, to be sure. Better even than the last batch of Jayhawks records -- and that's saying something, the group never managed anything close to a bad record. Oddly, the best track is the bonus track "Three Too Many" which is the very best song Gene Clark never wrote.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Holy crap! I got reviewed by Pitchfork!

...last year, for a ten-year-old recording, but HEY! I'll take it.

Shatterproof: "Prozac Melody" [from Splinter Queen; MCA; 1996; r: Catlick; 2007]
In a different 1996, Shatterproof would've been a success story-- maybe a modest one, with a single enduring alt-rock chart entry รก la Spacehog or fellow Minneapolitans Semisonic, but a success story nonetheless. In the actual 1996, MCA didn't find anything compelling in Shatterproof's grandiose college-friendly Badfinger/George Harrison-style power pop, and the band wound up being purged from their Fort Apache imprint before their sophomore record could be released. Shatterproof were repeatedly denied a shot at releasing their second album's recordings elsewhere and eventually broke up, and when I heard this song for the first and only time on college radio a year or two later, it was credited to two of the ex-members' subsequent band, Lunar 9. Some 10 years later, in the middle of a period spent listening primarily to rap, dubstep, r&b, and the odd bit of stoner rock, I stumbled across this song again on an otherwise lukewarm reissue of Shatterproof's indefinitely shelved MCA recordings. For a song I'd spent so little time actually hearing and so much more time trying to reconstruct inside my head, "Prozac Melody" was surprisingly close to what I thought it should've sounded like: a leisurely but massive-sounding guitar overlaid with a bed of pseudo-orchestral keyboards and a warmly Anglophilic borderline-falsetto lead vocal. The one thing that I forgot: the weirdly mordant, mournful-slash-cheerful cast to the lyrics: "I get my sunshine from a pill/ It's my Prozac melody/ I fell in love with someone ill/ It's my Prozac melody." It's even got a huge anthemic build-up at the end, which I really wish a festival crowd could've gotten the chance to sing along with. [Nate Patrin]

One thing I disagree with: "Splinter Queen," which is available on iTunes, is nowhere near lukewarm, its fucking genius and you all should rush over and download it IMMEDIATELY if you haven't already, 'cause its kinda fucking great. The combination of my erstwhile nemesis/songwriting-partner/best-friend Jay Hurley's melancholic but extremely celebratory melodicism and my Brian-Wilson-By-Way-Of-The-Mid-90s arrangements makes for what *I* think is a lost gem of the era, and to my mind, "Mum's The Word" is the best thing on there. As for the rest -- heh, sure! FEED MY EGO. It needs it. (Thanks to Ashley for finding that review!)

PS: I am ALL ABOUT "weirdly mordant, mournful-slash-cheerful." Its kinda awesome that he LIKED that, so many other people in my life have had a problem that I write these extremely cheerful songs that always have the saddest, most depressing lyrics, but that's kind of what I'm about. Like a piece of rich chocolate candy filled with arsenic.

(EDIT) PSS: I should mention that the "massive singalong coda" was written by Chris Hill, auteur and songwriter for Mercurial Rage, and its always been my fave part of the song.

Monday, December 1, 2008

So when did it become uncool to like Oasis?



I remember in, like, '94 or '95, when "Definitely Maybe" came out, it was so goddamn cool to be an Oasis fan. Ed Ackerson from Polara, who was and still is the coolest guy I know, hipped me to them early on -- I remember him telling me they were like the Stone Roses only more rock, "and what the hell is wrong with rock?" he asked. When my old band Lunar 9 got accused of "aping Oasis" -- which we never did, it's the same reason Oasis get accused of aping the Beatles, its so easy to pigeonhole melodic rock music with whatever's the handiest and easiest correlate -- it didn't really seem like an insult. In fact, I took it as quite flattering -- it meant my songs were, y'know, memorable if perhaps a bit easy at times (true!) and that we had pudding bowl haircuts.

Then, at some point, the tide fucking TURNED, and boy did it turn hard. I suppose Oasis didn't help matters by making "Be Here Now" which is the very definition of rock n' roll coke bloat (but, then, do we fault Fleetwood Mac for making Tusk? The Stone Roses for making Second Coming? The Stones for making Goat's Head Soup? No, we do not, or should not). They followed it up with "Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants" which got more attention for the title typo than the music within, and "Heathen Chemistry" which didn't get any attention at all for anything. At that point, saying you liked Oasis was just about like saying you liked Matchbox 20 -- it meant you sucked. It wasn't even cool anymore to say you liked the first two albums, which I think we can (or should!) all agree were fucking great albums, top to bottom. It wasn't even cool to have pudding bowl haircuts anymore.

Meanwhile, though, it was really quite okay to still like the Dandy Warhols (for a while) or Black Rebel Motorcycle Club or the Brian Jonestown Massacre or any number of other fuzzy/melodic bands with interesting hair. In fact, it was actively encouraged. If you were in a band, and you had Oasis influence you buried it deep under a layer of dark black fuzztone and sang in a really LOW REGISTER (see: my heavy metal post) and that pretty much covered it up like a thick layer of pancake over a zit.

And like, for a time, I was Oasis Fan #1. And I'm not usually prey to Public Opinion about SHIT -- hell, I'm the guy who'll stand up and say he likes JOURNEY, full stop. I'm not afraid to express an unpopular opinion if, in fact, I believe strongly in it, and I'll defend it eloquently. And yet, even I fell prey to the anti-Oasis sentiment. When someone likened my new batch of songs, which are far more fuzzy and rawk, to Oasis, I remember being a little stung. Hell, I'd been trying to do the Dandy Warhols or the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club or the Brian Jonestown Massacre, why the hell do they think it sounds like Oasis?

Then it struck me, and I'm about to express an unpopular opinion: Oasis are basically those bands, only they write better songs. It's true. Honest to god. The difference between a Darker My Love or a Morning After Girls and Oasis are really quite minimal. I bet they have the same batch of influences -- the Beatles. The Stooges. The Small Faces. Psych-rock in general. The Stone Roses. Ride. My Bloody Valentine. The Velvet Underground. They probably dress the same (only the American bands have beards, now) and they probably think the same and maybe they do slightly different drugs (coke vs. heroin, or coke vs. heroin, coke, whiskey, more coke, and some pot) but they're basically the same type of bands. And its not like the Cool Bands write better lyrics -- shit, the lyrics on the Dandy Warhol's best record fucking quote "Charlotte Anne" by Julian Cope, and I'm hard pressed to understand the sentiment behind Darker My Love's excellent but really-equally-lyrically-vacant-to-Oasis "Two Ways Out," as much as I adore it. They aren't even more consistent -- was there even half a good album in the Brian Jonestown Massacre's latest, "My Bloody Underground?"

The crime Oasis seem to have committed, then, is simply that they write songs with memorable hooks. They're those bands, only with Memorable Hooks.

For some reason, this has Fallen Out Of Favor with the hipster contingent. It is now far more cool to write long droney songs with maybe one or two notes involved in the melody. Unfortunately, this does not result in More Better Songs. It might bring more to mind the Velvet Underground and the long bits of "Sister Ray," but what it alas means is that you can go to shows by lots of these bands and go home without remembering a single song. This is not good, people. This is bad. The Velvet Underground, I'd like to remind you, also wrote "Sweet Jane" and "Who Loves The Sun" and "What Goes On" which are nothing if not big gigantic hooks.

Meanwhile, the new Oasis record is receiving the predictable "best album since..." type of reviews, and their star is rising ever so slightly as a result. Most American critics fall back on the usual "they suck 'cause they ape the Beatles" trope -- which has never really been true except in the occasional ballad, if anything the group started out aping T. Rex and moved onto louder things -- and treat the band as a kind of hysterical British joke, like the rock equivalent of a Roger Moore Bond film or something. They somehow failed to notice that "Don't Believe The Truth," their album previous to this one, was also mostly great, or that "Mucky Fingers" on that one was a more believable and likeable Velvets rip to ANYTHING on the latest Brian Jonestown, or that "Lyla" was the great comeback single that never was. Never mind, though, "Dig Out Your Soul" is as good as some of the critics who listened to it are saying it is -- you'd have to be braindead not to feel a thrill from "Shock of the LIghtning" or to feel the awesome psych-groove in "Falling Down." And c'mon -- if "I'm Outta Time" isn't Liam's prettiest, best singing ever, I'm a Monkey (Man)'s Unkle, okay? There's great songwriting all over the thing, and great playing, and great production, and its subtle and psych and kool and dark and all other manner of adjectives and its time you took another look and maybe realized its cool and maybe they always were rather cool, okay?

I realize, though, that at the end of the day it is still basically pop music, and if you have a problem with pop music IN GENERAL, like songs with hooks that are 3:30 and get played on the radio, you're not gonna get turned on to Oasis. No matter, though, next time someone says my songs sound like Oasis I'm gonna be more than okay with that, thank you very much. I've come to terms with it all.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Yay! New Miyazaki film!!

I am a massive, massive fan of genius filmmaker/animator Hayao Miyazaki, and you should be, too. If you haven't seen the master's films -- and I don't use the term "master" lightly; he is absolutely, without question, the finest animator working today -- you need to, now. Every one's a gem, from his 80s masterwork "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind" to the gloriously adorable "My Neighbor Totoro" to the magnificent "Princess Mononoke" to my personal favorite, 2004's "Howl's Moving Castle" and everywhere in between, he doesn't have a single dud in his catalog, nor is he likely to, ever. His attention to detail is astounding -- every texture, every cloud, every mountain is lovingly rendered with absolute care, and it makes his films a joy unparalleled.

His new film is called "Ponyo On A Cliff By The Sea," and it's due to be released domestically sometime in 2009, though it was already a runaway hit in Japan. I've read that Miyazaki took special care to render water and waves in this one, which takes place mostly at sea. It's the story of a goldfish princess who wants to be human -- kind of a twist on the "Little Mermaid" myth. It is heart-meltingly adorable.



When it comes out, go see it. And rent every single one of his other films, if you haven't already.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Why I Hated Hellboy 2

Let me preface by saying what a willing audience I was for this film -- I love literally EVERY OTHER FILM Guillermo Del Toro has done (except I haven't seen "Pan's Labyrinth" 'cause, well, I'm fragile, sorta, and i *know* it's gonna make me bawl, but c'mon -- we can all agree that its great, even if I haven't seen it, right?). I loved "Mimic" even, I've seen it like ten times. I loved the first Hellboy movie. I loved all of Mike Mignola's Hellboy comics. I even have all the ANIMATED Hellboys that came out between the movies. AND you guys know me -- I'm the guy that finds something positive to say about *loads* of crappy films. I *like* crappy films, even -- hell, how many times did I see "Flash Gordon?"

And yet -- I wrenched the film out of our DVD player halfway through. 'Cause, see, the mix of humor and dark superhero action was ALL WRONG, like jarringly horrifically gut-wrenchingly wrong. The first film was dark -- not, like, BATMAN dark, but it had a moody surreality, and you had the feeling there was some genuinely menacing spirituality going on, y'know? Like -- you wanted to believe Hellboy was gonna kick some serious ass, 'cause the freaky Nazi guy with the metal mask was fucking terrifying and if he was gonna fuck with you, you were GOING DOWN, in a really ugly way. But it was still funny, y'know? It had plenty of laughs, and they felt like RELIEF when they happened.

THIS time, though, the EMPHASIS was on the laughs. I mean, any film that starts with a teenage Hellboy on Christmas Eve is already starting on a kind of bum note (and wtf with the shitty makeup in the ENTIRE MOVIE???) but then to make whatsisname from Arrested Development a MORE MAJOR CHARACTER and frame the thing with his desire to get Hellboy to like him? Yuk yuk yuk, only not really. None of the humor is actually funny -- witness Hellboy and Liz Sherman's jarringly awful fight at the beginning, or the introduction of Krauss' character, played with the most ridiculously off-pitch German accent EVER (performed by Seth McFarlane, that should have been a no-no RIGHT THERE).

And none of the darkness felt -- well, DARK. The elf-dude was lame, and LOOKED lame, and all the sort of underworld stuff felt really CLEAN and muppety, like the stuff in Return of the Jedi, and while I appreciate makeup effects instead of shitty CGI, this stuff didn't feel DIRTY enough, or GRUNGY enough, and every five-minutes there's a horribly ill-timed attempt at a joke, and by about halfway through we were like "do we care about ANY of the characters? Is this as horrible as I think it is?" And yeah, it WAS.

So we didn't get all the way through, but man, if it gets SUDDENLY REALLY LOTS BETTER halfway through, maybe I'll be sorry, but WOW.

I still love Del Toro and Hellboy as a kind of concept or whatever, I hope he can do a third, but MAN ALIVE, that almost was bad enough to ruin everything for me.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Weekend Photo Bolg

Ahh -- a relaxing weekend for once! I could blog about the strange gig we played on Friday at 2AM at a gallery downtown that smelled like fresh spray paint but I think the brain cells covering that memory were killed by the fumes. So let us move onto the REST of the weekend, which was lovely.

First off, we hit the Schindler House, a fantastic 1920s residence a few blocks from us which has the distinction of being the first piece of architecture built in the Modern style in America. It was designed by Rudolf Schindler, a disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright and nemesis of Richard Neutra. It's been lovingly cared-for and restored, and is used currently as an art gallery. Fans of modern architecture, check this out (all photos, of course, by the talented Miss Trixi B, except the ones she's in):


This is an awesome view of the back of the house. Notice all the wood -- and notice how low-hanging everything is, the ceilings were only about 6'5", meaning my friend Jay Hurley would be banging his head all the time if he lived there.


'nother view of the back. That viney thing up near the top left? That's the SLEEPING QUARTERS. They're open air, up on the roof of the building.


This fantastic shot is one of the open-air fireplaces in the backyard.


For Trixi fans (and there are many): The lovely Miss Trixi B in the kitchen of the Schindler House.


...and in amongst the bamboo in back of the house!

On our walks 'round the neighborhood, we also discovered THIS house, about which I know absolutely nothing:


...then, we visited the set of The United States of Tara, the Spielberg/Cody program for which Trixi works. Here she is sitting in the chair of one John Corbett, whom you may remember from Sex In The City and Northern Exposure:


Coming soon: my review of the HALF of Hellboy 2 that we made it through before WRENCHING the fucking thing out of the DVD player.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Relationship Post #423456: Healing From Shit

Dear folks who've been dumped, been through a divorce, a breakup, or some other horrible relationship-ending explosion of shit,

How often have you heard this phrase: "Why can't you just get over it?"

If you're like me, or everybody else I know that's been through a divorce, or a breakup, or a death, or getting dumped outta a long-term relationship, the answer is "a fuck of a lot, all the time, from just about everybody you know."

It usually comes from someone with the best intentions -- like, you've just got done with time #2034 of bitching about the ex and you're either angry or sad or some wicked combination of the two, and somebody who hates seeing you like that lets fly with that phrase. It's out of concern, usually (usually -- I'd say that Trix's boss who said to her, snarkily, "it's been a month now, why can't you just get over it" was probably slightly less than concerned for her well being) and its certainly almost never meant maliciously but --

-- here's the thing. It's not like you can switch on a switch and "get over it." That's not the way it works.

As I've mentioned before, the breakup leaves everybody with a list of fucking outstanding issues. Since nobody ever follows my advice on "how to properly break up with people," most of the time they think the best thing to do is to be quote-unquote "honest" and tell the other person just exactly why they're breaking up with 'em, and those psychological scars, combined, mind you, with feelings of abandonment and fear and depression and two thousand other emotions that just come along with any breakup, no matter how big or small, run fucking DEEP.

And the way it works is: you have to work through every single one of them, one at a time, painfully, before you can heal. And just so everybody knows: that can take a really long time. How long? They say that you can't fully heal from a relationship until HALF AS MUCH TIME HAS PASSED AS THE RELATIONSHIP LASTS. Did you hear that? Half as much time as the relationship lasts.

Now, that's just a general rule of thumb. That's obviously not hard-and-fast by any means. Some people heal faster than others, obviously, and some people heal slower. There's people out there who've been through a divorce or death or breakup or whatever who never heal. And sometimes they heal outwardly but are still suffering like damn inwardly. Like: I "healed" from my breakup with The Ex Before Last, outwardly, really quickly. Like I was glad I was out of the relationship, really glad. But I spent three years -- THREE YEARS, and that's just about exactly half the length of the relationship -- having pretend arguments with her in my head. Going over ALL the hurt, all the bad feelings, all the stupid crap I went through bit by bit by bit until somehow, magically, I finally worked it out to my satisfaction.

That's how I do it. Pretend arguments in my head. Or "draft" emails that I never send, that's my current M.O. But other people do it differently.

And this where I get really condescending -- to the folks who say "why can't you get over it," you honestly can't know until you've been through it. You say to yourself "but I've been through all kinds of breakups!" Yes, maybe you have. But every breakup effects everybody differently. And the length of a relationship makes a HUGE HUGE HUGE difference. And how the breakup happened makes a huge difference too, like a really huge one. A mutual "parting of the ways" hurts far less than getting dumped for a supermodel or even a totally normal average person, y'know?

And even if the person you're concerned about is currently happy in a NEW relationship? Honestly, that doesn't make a bit of difference. Again, speaking of the Ex-Before-Last, I was VERY happy in a relationship the entire time I was carrying on arguments with my ex in my head. I know there's some of you out there who feel me -- yeah, you KNOW you should be focusing on the positive, you know you should have your head 100% in the relationship you're in 'cause it's awesome and rad and whatever else, but guess wha? You can't because there's still some healing to do, and it takes how long it takes.

(And furthermore: even if the person you're healing from SUCKS BALL-SACK? Doesn't matter one bit. Just doesn't. Because it isn't about the quality or quantity of the person. It's about PAIN and HEALING and SCARS and all that stuff cannot be rationalized away by saying "well, I'm better off now, aren't I?" Although it certainly HELPS to tell yourself that, sometimes, it is not a cure-all by any means).

So people? Be patient with the healing folks, okay? Honestly. It takes how long it takes. Sometimes it takes a scary amount of time. But it does happen.

Ronnie James Dio (or, why I think shrieky voiced lead singers are awesome)

On the way into work this morning, I was cranking Black Sabbath's "The Dio Years."

Okay, okay, I know what you're thinking -- Dio? Seriously? But yeah -- honestly, there's something about the Dio era of that band that I really like. My buddy Dave Beckner swears by it, and I have to say he has a point. There's more actual pop songs on "Heaven and Hell" than there is on the entire first ten years of Ozzy's administration. And yeah -- there's a part of me, the part that was raised on Halen and Leppard, the fucking Beavis and Butthead that still lives inside my head, that thinks songs about dragons and wizards and kings and scantily-clad barbarian women are just COOL, huh huh huh. Y'know? Its the kind of stupid crap that you draw pictures of on your high-school notebook, and also it rocks, and you can bang your head to it, and at 7 AM stuck in traffic on the way into Venice for another day where my comps that I worked for days on will get killed or at least changed beyond recognition, it seemed a little transcendent. That's not to say that Ozzy isn't, well, Ozzy, and there's no question that, like, "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" is a BETTER record fundamentally than "Heaven and Hell," but let's just not totally write off the Dio tenure, shall we?

Also, SHRIEKY VOICED LEAD SINGER.

There was some point in the late 90s/early 00s where every american metal singer in the world decided that shrieky voices were, like, for PUSSIES, and started singing like that asshole from Pearl Jam. 'Cause, y'know, its easier to find people to sing like that, because Bob down the street has a pretty good voice and he has a bitchin Camaro we can take to gigs so Julie from high school will finally fuck me, and he's not gonna get all fucking EGO about this shit, 'cause this is MY BAND, and let's not forget it. Any idiot can sing like the guy from Pearl Jam. I'd give you a sound clip to prove it -- I'M an idiot, and I can sing like that. It's low. You don't have to have any chops. You dont' have to have a range. All you have to have is a lotta testosterone and the ability to write shitty lyrics about how crappy stuff is.And what does that get you? Well, Nickelback is what. And that is, by no means, a good thing. I'll take Poison ANY FUCKING DAY over Nickelback. ANY FUCKING DAY.

Because okay, that's the thing, right? Shrieky voiced lead singers write about chicks and dragons and wizards and more chicks and going to California and how Love Hurts and shit like that (I know he didn't write that, but let me riff, here), and all the low-voiced assholes can do is write about how much shit sucks. What's up with that? Is there something about the ability to sing high that makes you HAPPIER ABOUT LIFE? At any rate -- I will posit that metal written by shrieky guys always always trumps metal written by the low guys.

And that brings me to Justin Hawkins. You may remember a band called The Darkness from a few years back. They had a hit called "I Believe In A Thing Called Love" which featured the ULTIMATE shrieky-voiced lead singer, a stringy British dude with a wicked sense of humor called Justin Hawkins, who whooped and shrieked like nobody's business. He was almost Freddie Mercury-like in sheer range, and he was AWESOME.

Then at some point he went into rehab, and then quit the Darkness. And so what do they do? They replace him with a LOW-VOICED GUY, who immediately gets all serious and singing about life sucking and stuff and then the band BLOWS. You see? You see?

Well, the good news is that Justin Hawkins is back, with a COMPLETELY AWESOME BAND called Hot Leg (yes, just the one of them!) and he's just as shrieky and amazing and hilariously over-the-top as he was before. So low guy that joined what's left of the Darkness? You may go to hades, my friend, because here comes Hot Leg. Enjoy.

I've Met Jesus

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Give me some solace, but just a quantum, they sell big bags of solace, but I don't want 'em!

I'm just gonna get it out of the way right up front: I never, at any point during Quantum of Solace, had any trouble figuring out what was going on. That's one of the main complaints I've heard over and over about this film: that the editing style -- quick, fuzzy cuts mixed with odd symbolic cutaways -- makes it impossible to follow. Dunno -- maybe I'm just used to that style from my years watching music videos (see especially Mark Romanek and Sam Bayer) or maybe I'm just so BORED with the slickitty slick style of the Brosnan-era Bond movies that I'll take anything that's different. Anyway -- got it, followed it, done and dusted.

Also: I keep hearing over and over again that there's "no plot." Huh? There's just the right amount of plot. Plenty of plot. I mean, it's a BOND PLOT. There's a guy, he's up to no good, he's trying to fuck with the world, Bond figures out his complicated scheme and stops him. Right? Is there typically more plot in a Bond film? A subplot featuring a gay love affair between two of the Bond girls? Some kind of subtlety that I normally miss? It features the usual amount of plot. And just a note: the more you say the word "plot" the funnier it sounds.

That all said: I liked it. I fully went in expecting it to be a flawed film, after reading so many reviews bitching about the previous two complaints, but I found myself completely captivated. Its relentless, to be sure -- the action starts right atop and never lets up for even a second. Okay, for a second -- we get the redemption of the Mathis character from the last film -- but other than that, there isn't any pause to reflect at any moment during the film. Which to me is great because I'm not sure I want a let-up, here. It just keeps going, bashes you in the face over and over, and then it wraps up neatly. It's fun.

And it isn't completely po-faced, either. There's plenty of humor, it isn't relentlessly dark -- see especially the growing relationship between Bond and Judy Dench's M, which this time 'round is played for laughs as Bond racks up the body count to Dench's great and vocal dismay. The audience I was with guffawed in all the right spots, too, so it isn't like the beats miss their mark.

Daniel Craig continues to be excellent -- he smoulders. We're not used to a smouldering Bond -- Moore fucking DRIPPED with irritating, winking charm; Connery was a little harder and more rapist-y; Brosnan was just plain HOT and knew it and acted like he knew YOU knew it. Craig's a funny-looking, jug-eared freak, but he fucking smoulders. He walks into a scene and he's SEXY even when he's not. His sexy catches you off guard, which seems more like the kind of sexy a blunt instrument is supposed to have. He's supposed to be a SECRET agent. If he walks through the world being smarmy, everyone's gonna know who he is. Y'know?

Oh, and the opening titles sequence was magnificent. But then, I'm a White Stripes fan.

I've never felt more like I was watching a different film than the critics. I say: go see it, pronto.

(Oh yeah -- the STAR TREK TRAILER -- I feel like that's almost a post in and of itself, but holy wow Jesus was it cool.)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bond. JAMES...Bond.



If you know me, you know I'm a huge Bond fan. Always have been. The first Bond film I ever saw was "For Your Eyes Only" -- I can't remember if I saw it in the theater or on TV, but I've seen every film since then in the theater, usually on the day they're released (it takes an act of God to keep me away, frankly). My favorites, if you must know -- you're all dying for a geek-list, right? -- are, in this order, "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (yes, the Lazenby one! Its a tremendous film first and foremost, and he's a lot better than you remember), "Dr. No," "Casino Royale," "From Russia With Love" and the still-awesome, action-packed Moore departure "For Your Eyes Only."

You'll notice the absence of one particular film from my favorites list, there -- "Goldfinger." That's not to say I don't ENJOY "Goldfinger" -- hell, there's something I like about every Bond film, and that includes "Moonraker" -- but, you see, I am, first and foremost, a fan of a slightly different Bond: Ian Fleming's literary version. "Goldfinger" is adapted from a book, yes, but it also serves as the template for every Bond film for almost twenty years. Gadgetry galore, hot chicks galore (or Galore), a Big Cartoon Villain With A Massive Base And A Plan To Destroy The World, and lots and lots of quips. Roger Ebert, in his review of the newly-released "Quantum of Solace," declares his preference for this Bond, and I couldn't disagree more.

The reason I prefer films like "From Russia With Love" and "For Your Eyes Only" is that they exist in the real world. This is not the fantasy world of "Goldfinger," but an actual world filled with border disputes and angry superpowers and druglord clashes and fucked-up brutal fist-fights. Fleming's superspy always existed in the real world, too. He was human. He was a brutal thug with mad skillz. He liked his drinks a particular way, he liked fancy clothes and fast cars and hot women, but only because those were the small pleasures he could take in a life filled with brutality and ugliness. He drank too much and took too many damn pills to dull the pain of his work. He enjoyed himself, he took pleasure in his occupation, but it HURT HIM. He felt. He was real.

We watched "Die Another Day" -- which I kind of see as the nadir of the Brosnan era -- the other night, to drive this point home. The Bond we get at the beginning of the film is almost the literary Bond. He's captured, he's tortured, he just about loses his life and it DRIVES him. It pushes him. He feels. He's angry. He's a real guy. Then, about halfway through the film, the invisible car is introduced by John Cleese as Q, and we drop right out of the real world. We're now in Sci Fi Fantasy Land again, and for the remainder of the film we get cliche after cliche taken straight from "Goldfinger" -- big villain. Hot chicks with funny names. A satellite that can destroy the world. Gadgets that couldn't possibly exist. Quips and stupidity.

Which is why I'm so happy about the reinvention of the film series, starting with "Casino Royale." The "Goldfinger" template is nowhere in sight. Daniel Craig's Bond is as close to the literary Bond as we could possibly get in 2008's blockbuster-driven cinema. He is that brutal thug with mad skillz, and he's living in a world that's pretty much our own. He has gadgets, but they're simple and practical -- he has a car thingy that diagnoses poison, that's about it. Other than that, this Bond relies on his wits and his fightin' skills. He's still charming as hell, but his repartee isn't filled with ludicrous puns and ridiculous single-entendres. For chrissake, he sleeps with trashy married women -- that's all he can get, at first, and that's totally believable.

Most of all, he FEELS. He's MOTIVATED by something. A complaint I heard a while back (from someone who probably caught a few of the Moore films on TV, not a fan by any means) was that "Bond would never fall in love" like he did with Vesper Lynd. Uh uh, Charlie. Go back and read or watch "On Her Majesty's Secret Service." He not only falls in love, he gets married, and when Tracy Bond is brutally shot by Blofeld's thugs, his desire to avenge her death drives him; a single-minded desire to kill the man who murdered his wife in cold blood. THIS is the same Bond we get in "Casino Royale" and, from what I hear, "Quantum of Solace." He's a real guy. He's not just a haircut and some quips and a martini, shaken-not-stirred.

Of course, there will always be folks -- Roger Ebert among them -- who prefer the "Goldfinger" Bond. Or these guys, who wish that Roger Moore would come back:



For them, I recommend a movie called "Austin Powers," 'cause that's pretty much what the Bond films became. Me? I'm gonna be in the front row for "Quantum of Solace" tonight, cheering the best Bond we've had in years and years.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A brief discussion about genetics



Consider, if you will, the genetic factors behind the curious Munster family.

Grandpa Munster and Lily Munster are, quite clearly, Vampires or, as they're popularly known, "Draculas." This means that they're dead people who have been reanimated by whatever spiritual or supernatural force creates Draculas; however, they have, oddly, retained their ability to reproduce -- Lily is clearly Grandpa's offspring, though it is unclear who the mother is. Herman Munster, however, is clearly a monster, or as they're popularly known, "Frankensteins." He, too, is a reanimated corpse, though presumably through the means of electrical infusion of the tissues via some unnamed evil scientist. He, too, retains the ability to produce sperm.

Where the confusion comes in is with the offspring, Eddie and Marilyn. Now, Eddie is clearly an aberration like his parents -- however, he is a werewolf or, as they're popularly known, a "Woofman." Marilyn is quite clearly a normal human girl -- she retains none of the characteristics of her mother's side. What does this say about the crossbreeding between a vampire and a reanimated corpse?

Clearly the wild card here is Lily's mother. Draculaism must not be a dominant gene -- one presumes that Lily's mother was part Dracula and part Woofman and through breeding with a Frankenstein -- simply a reanimated corpse, but basically a normal human, one assumes, BEFORE the reanimation -- the Dracula gene became recessive and the Woofman gene and human gene became dominant. One shudders to think of a Dracula with the lycanthropic tendency -- the thirst for human blood must have made euthanasia essential. Grandpa presumably killed her for her own good, and it is this sorrow which informs him in his daily life.

I would seriously advise Marilyn -- who can "pass" as human -- to notify any potential breeding partners that she has the capability of producing Dracula or Woofman offspring, in case he's not aware of her forebears prior to breeding.

Our next discussion: the Addams Family -- clearly a case of nuclear mutation gone haywire.

Monday, November 10, 2008

New music! New music! New music!

Okay, this is just a LITTLE teaser for the album I'm working on, okay? This kind of doesn't really represent the direction I'm working in, or maybe it DOES in the sense that its darker, fuzzier and more fucked up than the old stuff I did, but its such a cheerful little ditty (unlike many of the others) and there's a nifty story attached to it and so I felt like I should share. Just to get everybody excited about whatever new band I eventually put together around these songs.

The story is this: about a week ago, I had this REALLY vivid dream. In it, I was arguing with my former bandmate and dear friend Mr. Jay Hurley. The argument went like this:

Jay: Dude, it takes WEEKS to write a really good song.
Me: No it doesn't. I can write a song in like four minutes flat.
Jay: Yeah?
Me: Seriously. What's that girl's name you wanted to write a song about forever?
Jay: Matilda.
Me: Okay, I'm gonna write "Matilda." Be right back.

And then I went downstairs, and grabbed a guitar, and WROTE A SONG CALLED MATILDA, in a dream. In a dream. And then the cool thing was? I woke up and remembered every bit of the song, from the chords to the words to everything. And I rushed over to my computer at 5AM and sang the song into it. And the next morning? It still didn't suck. So that night I recorded the song as a full demo with instruments and everything.

And here it is, now retitled "When Trixi Smiles." Enjoy!

"When I'm with you, it feels like home." Somehow in my dream, that sentiment came though, and its absolutely true of the subject of the song.

Weekend Cheese and Onions Clearinghouse



First off, a little old business -- this is Halloween In West Hollywood, a decadent insanity featuring about 400,000 (seriously!) costumed, drunk freaks staggering up and down Santa Monica Avenue and groping each other. Here we see Trixi dressed as Trixie from Speed Racer, touching the extremely rock-hard boobie of Paul Stanley, who looks mayyyybe a little worse-for-wear alcohol-wise -- but man, he's more ripped than Real Paul Stanely ever was, and straighter, too, methinks, if you know what I'm saying.

Yes, I'm saying I think Paul Stanley is gay. No proof, of course, but there it is.

This last weekend, Trix and I went to the desert again. Yeah, we have kind of a thing for the desert. Palm Desert, Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, Joshua Tree -- we frickin' love it out there. The people are kind of a little batshit crazy and the architecture is insane and the MOUNTAINS IN THE BACKGROUND are staggeringly beautiful. There's something so peaceful about it compared to the "spend seventeen hours in traffic and then slit your wrists" insanity that is Los Angeles.

This time, however, we had a REASON to go -- the B-52s!



Trix loves 'em more than anything, and I dig 'em too -- I was at the Northrop Auditorium show where they, like, literally brought down the house in the sense of "caused the entire infrastructure of the building to collapse." They're in, what, their fifties? Probably? I mean, it was 20-some years since *I* first liked 'em, and they were around for ten years at that point already, so yeah, they have to be, but there's NO way you'd be able to tell. Fred's still talkin' smack, the girls still sing like angels, and everybody's still pretty goddamn hot. We even waited by the tour bus afterwards, and Trix got to talk to Cindy a lil' bit. It was fun as hell.



Then the next day we visited this awesome zoo in Palm Desert called The Living Desert. This is Trix with her "appropriate" shoes, as we headed into the desert for a bit of a hike. Yesterday, oddly, VERY oddly, it was like 60 degrees, windy and rainy. The ONE DAY we planned a nature hike, it frickin' rained in the desert. I kept joking that Kyle McLachlan must be around. "HOW CAN THIS BE? FOR HE IS THE KWISATZ HADERACH!" But then, that's a "Dune" joke and near as I can tell, I'm the only one that ever gets my Dune jokes.

I have more fun to post later, including -- perhaps -- some new music? Should I? Should I?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Is it really possible?



Sexy pic of Obama pretending to be Ursula Andress from Dr. No

...we actually won? By a freakin' landslide? Well, at least an electoral landslide? I'm so used to being a member of the Party of Perennial Whiffers and Professional Underdogs that it caught me completely off guard. The energy last night was palpable, all over West Hollywood. Trix and I took to our local watering hole to watch the coverage and imbibe with the locals. When Obama finally took to the podium to give his speech, there was -- seriously -- not a dry eye in the bar. I'll admit fully, I was one of 'em -- I welled up at least three different times during his speech, as well as when they showed Jesse Jackson with tears running down his face. Whatever you might think of the Rev. Jackson, it's been a long, hard struggle to get where we are today, and the man's been at the front lines the whole time. He paved the way for last night, even with "Hymietown." And seriously -- it has nothing to do with policy or social issues or really anything at all except the heart of the man, but how amazing was it that Obama referred to his wife as "his best friend for sixteen years?"

And isn't it nice to have a President Elect who can actually move you with his words? Rather than send you scurrying behind the couch in embarrassment and/or fear? I'll take "articulate." ** It's been eight years of "folksy," believe me, I will take "articulate." Not that McCain wasn't articulate -- I thought his speech last night was more than adequate, and a little charmingly self-effacing. They're both smart guys -- isn't it nice to bloody well force the country to choose between two smart guys, rather than one brainiac east-coast robot and one backwoods hick?

Random thoughts:

- Notice the difference: when McCain mentioned Barack Obama during his speech, the crowd either booed or began chanting angrily. When Obama mentioned McCain during his speech, the crowd applauded. I guess that just says the Democrats on hand were more polite than the Republicans on hand, maybe nothing larger, but hey -- at this point, I'm all for a little politesse.

- I felt a little smug, because I had to endure eight fucking years of people saying, of the VERY close race in 2000 and the semi-closeish race in 2004 "Well, if your guy was GOOD ENOUGH, he would have been able to beat the opposition by a landslide." Um -- HA. HA HA HA HA HA HA. HA. HA. HA.

- In Texas -- TEXAS, where apparently polls showed that 30% of people believed Obama was a Muslim -- McCain only won by 55% - 44%. Notice the county breakdowns. Obama won in the south of Texas -- where he undoubtedly scored oddly huge with Mexican immigrant voters -- and in the Big Cities. I mean, you HAVE to call it a landslide when Texas actually plumps that much for the Democrat. Nothing against Texas -- I actually really dig the state, and have a lotta great things to say about time spent there -- but that's just a little bit of wow.

- I had to doink TWO MySpace friends this morning. One guy posted a bulletin about how he thought Obama was the Antichrist -- like the actual, biblical Antichrist -- and how we hadn't learned enough from Hitler and Stalin. His actual page claimed that we were now officially in "the great tribulation." DOINK. The other guy posted a thing about how "now we know who will bring about the end of the world in 2012 as foretold by the Mayans." DOINK.

- I'm FUCKING PISSED, however, that Prop 8 passed. My friend Ashley posted the most articulate thing I've yet read on the matter, so go there and read that. I'm just too angry at the moment, especially after seeing the pictures of the pro-Prop 8 people actually CHEERING that they took the right to marry away from people, and watching the TV ads the "Yes on 8" people ran, with a kid coming home from school saying she'd learned at school that a "prince could marry another prince." Dear frightened parents: I am going to teach my child that equality is the most important thing ever and that its totally okay for princes to marry other princes and princesses to marry other princesses. And then my child is going to totally infect your child with free thinking and there's nothing you can do about it. You can only fight against common sense and equality for so long. I think this election is proof of that.

- I'm kinda psyched about the Democratic president and the Democratic majority in the House AND the Senate right now. I want New Deal Liberalism, dammit, and I want it now. Also, I'm psyched that hemlines will now rise like they did during the Johnson and Clinton administrations. Yay on all that.

Morning in America, folks. I have to say, I feel pretty good about it all.

** I just wanna point out -- I'm using the word "articulate" in the sense of "compared to President Bush, who is exactly the opposite." It didn't even occur to me until this morning that using "articulate" to describe an African-American man can have severe racist overtones, so if anybody took it that way, I apologize. There's gotta be a better choice of words to describe someone who's able to put together cogent, interesting thoughts with words and speak them in public.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Hells yes, I voted.

...NO on Prop 8, and YES on Barack Obama. Also YES on the less-publicized prop 2, which prevents cruelty to farm animals, and NO on the libertarian screenwriter running for Senate.

Overheard at the polling place: "I'm voting for change, yo!"

Also overheard at the polling place: a poor barking dog who was terrified by the HUNDREDS of people waiting in line. Heartening that there were so many people turning out to vote, but people: don't bring your frickin' DOGS to vote, okay? That right's a few years off yet.

If you haven't voted yet -- VOTE. Okay?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Explorers Club Video!!

Okay, remember a month or so back when I was ranting and raving about the Explorers Club? Check out their first video, an absolutely exuberant little clip for their tune "Do You Love Me."

Do You Love Me?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Recent Record Release Roundup

Queen, The Cosmos Rocks -- there isn't enough invective in the English language to describe how I feel about this record. Like -- I love Queen, okay? Freddie Mercury is the greatest singer in the history of rock music. It's that simple. Elvis had the sex, the soul, the appeal, but there has been NOBODY EVER with chops like Freddie that still made you care deeply about what he was singing and wanna shake your ass at the same time. And as a replacement, we get journeyman bloozeman Paul Rogers? The fuck? How is that even a correlate? Has Paul Rogers ever, even when he was actually good back in the Free days, had even one scintilla of the flair and the power of Freddie? Does anybody still enjoy hearing Bad Company on the radio? Were they even ever any more than Zeppelin third-stringers? Wasn't The Firm already a sick embarrassment 'cause of Paul Rogers 25 years ago? I could name you thirty guys who'd be better than Paul Rogers in Queen, and make more sense -- the list starts with George Michael and goes from there, and no, I'm not kidding -- but apparently formerly-thrilling-guitarist Brian May is content to play with safe. And that's just what this record is -- competent, well-played, extraordinarily safe rock and roll music, and it makes me absolutely sick to my gut, because that's what Queen NEVER were, EVER, was fucking safe. Dig? Don't bother, don't even look at this record or play it on iTunes or steal it from the internet because if you like Queen and you like rock music, it's just gonna piss you off and you'll end up wanting to pull your own fingernails out. Like I did. Fuck you, Queen And Paul Rogers.

Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, Cardinology -- Okay, we've already established that it's super not hip to like Ryan Adams. I mean -- Pitchfork gave this thing a 4 out of 10, and Pitchfork are the arbiters of What's Hip Right Now, and I'm sure right now are listening to the new Black Kids record and patting their own backs at their unimaginative slagging of the "classic rock." 'Cept Ryan Adams ain't really about hip, and never was. Ryan Adams' influences are about as unhip -- the Dead, mid-period Stones, U2 or something, whatever else you'd care to name -- as you can get. Ryan Adams doesn't care. Ryan Adams is about writing pretty songs about his own pain, and if you can't get behind that, you ain't never really gonna get him, which don't matter much to Ryan Adams, as he's gonna keep on writing pretty songs about his own pain probably as a form of therapy, and hell with you anyway, and that kinda makes him cooler than a lotta guys who pose and act all indie and whatever else, that not giving a fuck what you think-ness.

Ryan Adams would like you to know, but doesn't care if you don't dig it, that "Cardinology"'s kind of a corker, and that the first four songs are pretty much solid all the way through. I especially like "Fix It," which is probably the best piece of musical rumination on getting left by someone I've ever heard. At its base, this is a good old-fashioned breakup record, with virtually every song lamenting somebody (Parker Posey?) who left the poor sad sack in the dust, but man, does he manage a buncha great tunes about it. It starts to lag right around "Sink Ships" but wow, the first half just slays. And yeah -- it's "classic rock" in just about every way you can name, and terribly uncool and unhip, but damned if I dont' like it anyway, not that Ryan Adams cares one jot. He's just gonna keep putting out records whether you or I like it or not. Luckily I do.

AC/DC, Black Ice -- Meanwhile, we have the new AC/DC record, available quite conveniently at your local WAL-MART store, and nowhere else, because Brian Johnson thinks the internet steals your vital fluids or something. And the good news is that it kicks lots and lots of ass. The guitars drill themselves into your skull, the vocals shriek and squeal and scream in all the right places, the drums you can feel in your gut (BOOM -- KSHHH -- BOOM -- KSHHH, and nothing else, ever) and the songwriting is tight and heavy and stupid, absolutely irredeemably wonderfully stupid. The other good news is that the band have not changed AT ALL. They haven't gotten any better or any worse -- they're frozen in suspended animation in 1981, and that's kinda what you want, right? You don't WANT AC/DC to write a concept album about each of the 50 states, or make an album of country covers or something. You just want them to be loud and dumb and that's it, and do you really need any more? Hell, we need a band like that, right?

The bad news is that its about six or seven songs too long, but hey, that's what they make skip buttons for, right? There's a buncha killer tunes lumped at the beginning -- "Rock 'n' Roll Train" and "Skies on Fire" and "Big Jack" and "Anything Goes" and then you gotta hit skip and then "Smash "n' Grab" is killer and "Spoilin' for a Fight" and then "Decibel" is super damn heavy and "Stormy May Day" and skip skip "Money Made" and then skip skip skip skip and you're back up atop again. It ain't perfect. It's too long. But it's loud and dumb and will crunch the shit out of your skull and leave you bleeding, and I think that's worth the price of admission. Have fun at WalMart, folks.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

On Lost Friendship

Trix and I have been ruminating and chatting about loss of friendship a lot because it's been happening a lot recently.

I don't mean the slow, gradual burnout that happens to some friendships -- because those are, in my experience, totally reparable. You lose contact with someone, you reconnect with them a year, two years, five years down the line and it's like no time at all has passed. My childhood best friend Adam Lee and I do that all the time. We lose contact with each other for, like, a year or two or ten at a time, but when we finally do reconnect, we're still those dorky kids on the playground with our Star Wars toys. Really, our friendship never died, it just gets put into suspended animation occasionally due to circumstance, but it's still totally real and fierce, y'know? I'd still take a bullet for that mothafucka even thirty years later.

No, I'm talking about the abrupt, sudden stabbing death caused by actually having to shove a friend out of your life for whatever reason, or alternately, being shoved out of someone's life. Sometimes, it's really just a case of "who's the first person to call it quits" -- the friendship was probably over already, otherwise no shoving would have to be done, right? Other times, one person still wants the friendship to continue but for whatever reason the other one doesn't. Either way -- it hurts. People tell you "oh, it's for the better" or "oh, really, you're better off without those people in your life," or come up with all kinds of excuses WHY it happened or HOW it happened, but it still hurts. It's no less real than actually losing those people entirely, like if they actually died. That's what it feels like. That's the only thing I can compare it to.

And it isn't just an "ouch, it hurts," either, like a jab from a needle at the doctor's office; it's more a multiphased pain that lasts a long damn time.

You go through the questioning phase, like -- did I ever matter to that person in the first place? What the fuck did I do so wrong that's causing this? Am I a bad person, or am I a callous person, or was I not enough of a friend in the first place? Was our friendship ever even real to begin with? This phase probably hurts the worst, because you feel like you're to blame for the friendship ending. You start going over and over and over in your head what you could have done differently and keep coming up with no answers, or answers that don't fit the bill, or answers that only solve PART of the problem. I mean, nobody's a saint, right? It's always two-sided, but sometimes you don't come up with enough that accounts for something as harsh as the end of a friendship, and that just leads you to question yourself more. You're sure it had to be your fault.

And then you go through the demonizing phase. And that's like -- fuck that person. I mean, how could they not see that I'm good enough for them? How could they be such a horrible person that they could do this to me? I suppose your typical "five stages" model would see this as the "anger" phase, but it's more than that. It's a kind of ritual hardening-of-the-heart, a protection against further pain, an assurance that your feelings for that person become less than they were before because if they were as strong as they were before, you just know they're gonna hurt you again, right?

I suppose the final phase is something like "acceptance," but you never really accept it. Not really. It's like -- it's over. Sure. That person isn't my friend anymore. But it still hurts. There's still that last lingering shred of pain that might fade to a dull throb but never really leaves your heart. There are triggers -- they're everywhere, right? And everytime you run across one, you get that reminder again. Oh yeah. There was this person in my life, and they're not there anymore, and they will never be again. And even if the pain is just a dull throb, it still hurts.

Losing a friend is no less painful than losing a relationship, frankly. I mean, who do you have in your life except your friends and your family? And for lots of us -- especially someone like me who didn't have siblings growing up -- your friends are just as important as your family, and your loyalty is fierce and unswerveable except in the face of what I'd call X-Treme Circumstance. But I think people don't realize how painful it is, because some people haven't gone through it. It's like how some people don't understand how much divorces hurt, right? 'Cause they've never had one? "Get over it," they tell you. "Divorces happen."

That's something I don't ever wanna hear again. I guess all things "just happen," right? That's kinda self-explanatory. But it doesn't make the pain any less real, or palpable.

Anyway, losing friends sucks.

Sanctuary is a LIE!!

My favorite scene from Logan's Run!



Dig that crazy hologram effect! Did you know they make those with lasers? Like honest, real futuristic lasers?

Monday, October 27, 2008

I Think I Discovered The Reason Watergate Happened

(This entire post is dedicated to Chris Hill.)

So this weekend Trixi and I were in San Juan Capistrano. See, we've decided we're going to take these cheapy trips every weekend to places that are not Los Angeles, in order to maintain our sanity. San Juan Capistrano is where, like, the monarch butterflies go and hurl themselves off the cliff every summer, or something. I saw that on In Search Of, so it must be true. Also, there is a Mission there, and its really quite astonishingly magnificently ruined and awesome. If you like Ruined Stuff, you have to go there and look at it, 'cause wow.

Also, I bought a Mego Captain Kirk from the 70s.

Here's the Chris Hill part though, and is related to his obsession with the Presidents -- so apparently Richard Nixon really dug San Juan Capistrano, right? There's this plaque at the mission talking about the time he came there and rang the bells. So we went to this awesomely cheesy mexican join in town called, like, "Adobe" or "El Adobe" or "Las Ketchup" or whatever, I forget. But they had an item on the menu called "PRESIDENT'S CHOICE." It was one chile relleno, one enchilada and one taco, and apparently not only did President Nixon eat this particular dish every time he was in town, he had it specially prepared for him at the white house too. And of course, I had to order it -- "for Chris," I said, because I knew he would order it too.



Here's me, making a Nixonesque pose next to my "President's Choice."

And it was yummy, and all -- but it gave me horrible, painful stomach and intestinal issues for two days.

So my theory is: the reason Nixon was such a surly, insane bastard during the latter half of his presidency probably has to do with his stomach being a painful, acid-y mess the entire frickin' time from eating this angry Mexican food.

So, I guess, when you think about Nixon, give the guy a slight break. You probably would have broken into the DNC Headquarters, too, with a gut like that. Seriously.

70s bands: WHY ARE YOU NOT LISTENING TO ME?

Led Zeppelin To Maybe Tour Without Robert Plant.

Lissen: Page. Jones. Bonham. READ MY BLOG MORE OFTEN.

Of all the bands that are proposing this travesty, you are the one that is least the band you'll claim you are without your lead singer. Last I looked, Robert Plant was a) the guy who wrote half the songs, b) the most memorable and apeable thing about your band and c) the guy who got the most and best squirrel in the group.

I know I can't stop you from doing this nonsense. But if you're gonna replace one of the best singers in the history of rock at least get the guy he was a replacement for in the first place.



Terry Reid is still alive and looks better than any of you do. Just an FYI.

Still not going, and you can't make me.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Oh, for heaven's sake.

Link to original blog post if anybody cares.

Did anybody -- scratch that, anybody remotely intelligent, who knows me even a weency, tiny little bit -- think I was serious in the post below when I said that given a hypothetical choice between a huge sum of money and the ability to punch Trix's exes in the gut I'd pick the latter? Anybody? Honestly? Serious as in "gee, I'd really like for that to happen and I'm taking steps to get that together?"

Just to clarify, for the sane and the insane: it's called blowing off steam. I was living through a week when they (as a unit -- do you guys call each other and discuss how best to get our goat?) were causing one or the other of us consternation and turmoil on an almost daily basis. For one thing, I've never enacted violence upon another human being, ever. Seriously: the one time I got into a fight in elementary school, I let the guy kick my ass while I laughed at him. Didn't even swing a single punch. It hurt, but man, it sure was funny. I think I developed a reputation for being either fearless or crazy, and nobody ever touched me again. For another, I tend to write hyperbolically. Dunno if you've noticed that, but I tend to exaggerate for comic effect on a fairly regular basis. I could weed through for examples, but meh -- why bother. If you've half a brain in your head, you've noticed them. Example: If I say, for example, that I'd like to kick Bob Seger's ass nine ways to Sunday for writing "Like A Rock" (which is something I've thought about, certainly, he's been asking for it since about 1972), just for future reference:

I'M PRETTY FUCKING OBVIOUSLY NOT SERIOUS.

Plus, the logistics involved in getting all of her exes together in one place AND rendering them somehow immobile while I punched each of them in a line without the others kind of banding together and defending themselves like a kind of crazy Trix-crazed phalanx would be insurmountable.

Obviously.

Big, giant, bolded-for-obviousness DUH on this one.

You know how I know my girl is hot?

...because we were sitting across from Sugar Ray's Mark McGrath last night...



(...just a refresher in case you don't remember him from his late-90s heyday...)

...and he couldn't stop staring at her all damn night!

I agree, Mark. She's a freakin' gorgeous girl, ain't she?



Sigh. My heart skips a beat.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

So...Chinese Democracy.

I'm famous (check it out if you don't believe it -- LITERALLY FAMOUS) for being the guy to doubt that famously long-gestating albums from legendary bands will EVER come out. I swore up and down that a second Stone Roses album wasn't on its way (and maybe its better that it wasn't, right?) and I swore up and down that there wasn't any way in hell that My Bloody Valentine would ever pull their shit together and release a followup to "Loveless," but...

...oh. I was right about that one.

But of course I also swore that ""Chinese Democracy" would never be released in our lifetime, and I turn out to be, happily or sadly, dead wrong about that. So far I am wildly underwhelmed by what I'm hearing -- it has none of the incendiary punk rock charms that "Appetite" did, nor the thrilling bloat of the "Use Your ILlusions." I'm also pretty sure that it doesn't have a chorus to speak of. Sigh.

Go here and let me know what you think. 'K?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Random Music Thoughts

- So you all know I was a proponent of the Killers' last album, right? After the first album's anemic by-rote 80s rip, I found the gigantic scope of their Springsteen Try to be ambitious and kinda awesome -- ultimately a failure, if you're stacking it up next to "Born To Run" or even Springsteen's latest, but an intresting, huge, bloated, beautiful failure. So last week, right, Trix kept mentioning this song they were playing on the radio. "It goes (she sings) 'Aa-a-a-a-are we huuuuman, or a-a-a-a-a-are we DAWWWWNCERS.' And it is the worst song I've heard in my entire life." Imagine my extreme disappointment when I finally heard it for myself -- not only is it the latest Killers single, of course, but she's absolutely right, it is appallingly, bone-crushingly awful. The music sounds like fucking third-rate bedroom Casiotone demos; there's NO grandiose sweep, no hook, no good melody; and the lyrics are so fucking horrible they just about made me cry. Killers: the fuck is up, guys? What happened to bloated ambition? Couple years you had to piss off and make something better, and nineteenth generation watered-down Spandau Ballet is the best you can do? Are we DAWWWWNCERS indeed.

- Very interested in the new Byrne/Eno album. Haven't heard it it all the way through yet, but an iTunes sampling tells me it's shockingly pop-oriented and really quite amazing. God knows I like Brian Eno, and God knows I like David Byrne, so what's not to like? Has anybody heard this thing yet?

- "Womanizer" -- pro or con? I vote pro. Joe Escalante on Indie 103's morning show was chuckling at it (c'mon, man, it isn't even COOL to chuckle at Britney anymore) and complaining that it sounded too much like Devo. Why is that a bad thing? I think it's a great song, even if her voice does sound rather pieced together, almost like someone's playing it on a Fairlight Synth.

- I'm also of two minds about Raphael Saadiq's latest, "The Way I See It." I mean -- it's good, and by all means go download it as soon as you can, because a closer and more loving Motown tribute you'll not hear this year. He hits all the marks, and the singing is actually damn near astonishing, the more I hear it. He ain't Smokey, but he's got something, this kid (*yes, I know he's not a kid.) But the question I've been asking over on my fave music board is: does it transcend? Does it pull an Amy Winehouse and actually become as cool or cooler than the thing it's borrowing from? I've listened all the way through about five times and I'm still of two minds. Every time through, I enjoy listening, but I'm still hit with the urge to put on ACTUAL Smokey Robinson after its over, and that might portend that it doesn't transcend. But man, is it fun. I mean, really really fun. And unlike a lotta people who channel the "old school," or think they do, this thing isn't just milksop balladry and slow jams -- it actually rocks in places, and you gotta give the man credit for that, at least. Minus two points for the Jay-Z cameo at the end. I loves me some Hova, but he sounds so outta place.

- Don't like Of Montreal now, never have, never will. Sorry, folks.

- High School Musical 3 -- how's the MUSIC, though? I didn't see 2, either (shame, I know!) but, y'know, I gotta hand it to whoever wrote HSM1, the songs stick in your craw. Someone who's heard the choons tell me whether I need to hit the theaters or not. I don't have a Daughter Excuse, so I need it to be really good to drag me into the theaaaatre.

- Bands: please stop hiring tribute band lead singers. I'm giving Journey a pass, but ONLY JOURNEY, okay?