Monday, March 31, 2008

On a serious note...

... I'd like to offer a word of sympathy and well-wishes for Diablo and her family. She lost a cousin this weekend in a terrible accident, and I'm sure they're all devastated. Without going into too much detail, her cousin has had a rough life, and leaves behind children who need everybody's prayers right now. Everybody offer her and her family good vibes and good thoughts today, okay?

The Kids, LITERALLY, in The Hall.

So last Thursday, Trix and Peanut were at the offices of The Major Television Program on the Major Cable Network where she works. She was chatting up the producer of the show (an almost alarmingly sweet guy), when who should walk by but Bruce McCulloch of the Kids In The Hall.

"Bruce," called over the Producer, "I want you to meet Trixi. She's a huge fan."

"Nice to meet you," said Bruce. Turned out he was officing just down the hallway from Trix, making him literally a Kid In The Hall. Trix held her tongue -- the last time she met Bruce was at First Avenue in Minneapolis; he was drunk, and he was nibbling on her ear. "Nice to meet you too," she replied, grinning nervously. "I'm a huge fan."

As he walked away, the Producer made an offer: "Why don't you stop by this Sunday? We're doing some filming, you could come by and meet the rest of the guys and watch."

So we did. Trix came up with a "good reason" to stop by the studio, some kind of errand that probably could have easily been done from our living room. As we pulled in, the production assistant, another alarmingly sweet person, came over, clipboard and walkie-talkie in hand and said, alarmingly sweetly, "Hey, Trixi -- let us know if you need anything, and oh -- if you wanna stop by the filming, come on down whenever."

We did The Errand, which took all of maybe ten minutes, and headed down to watch the filming. The Producer was already there, and as we walked up and he greeted Trix with a hug, he said "Oh -- there's a Kid In The Hall, right behind you!"

It was Kevin McDonald (whom, if you're not a Kids In The Hall fan like us, you'll remember from Outkast's "Roses" video). "Nice to meet you," said Trix. "Huge fan, you know."

"Thank you, thanks very much, thank you, thank you, thank you," said Kevin, nervously.

"Last time I saw you was in 2002, at First Avenue," said Trixi.

"Oh yeah, that's right, that was the night Dave got punched." It's true -- that evening, apparently, Dave Foley got slugged by the roadie from a Prominent Cool English Band after an exchange of words.

"Uh -- that was my fault. I was giving him vodka-Red Bulls all night," she replied, sheepishly. "Red Bull makes you angry."

"Well, the guy totally misunderstood something he said -- if anything, its my fault, nothing bad ever happens when I'm around, and I took off early that night. I'm like the Angel of Peace."

"I think we're starting," said The Producer. "Why don't you guys come on in?"

At this point I'm revealing no secrets about the scene we watched -- you'll have to go see Kids In The Hall on their forthcoming tour. Suffice it to say Peanut had to watch Dave Foley say the "F" word fifteen times. At least.

Dave Foley, to me: "Are you sure you want your impressionable young child to see this?" Me: "Eh. She's heard worse." Foley: "Good man. My own child doesn't stand a chance."

Bad parenting? Bruce sure thought so, I overheard him telling somebody "I just don't understand people who bring their children to this kind of thing. It's grotesque." But the way I see it is: Peanut, if nothing else, has a well-developed sense of humor for her age. When I was her age, I'd already seen stuff like "Blazing Saddles" and "Young Frankenstein" which, though they did not contain either the F-word were certainly inappropriate for a kid my age. And she's already seen the compleat Monty Python series AND the second Austin Powers movie. So I figure it was part of her comedy education.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Forgot to mention:

Now! With working link!

One last piece of Gouda to share with y'all: We got to meet the awesome Bryan Lee O'Malley, the creator of the "Scott Pilgrim" books which Edgar Wright is adapting for screen. He did a signing at Meltdown, my second-favorite comic store in the LA area, and he drew a little picture of Scott Pilgrim on one of my books! Buy the books, read them, love them, live them, then see the movie.

The Weekend

This blog entry is maybe a little bit...

...but eh, it was a fun weekend, so who cares, right?

Friday: We did a lil' bit of bar-hopping -- had a delightful martini at the Formosa before ending up at Canter's Deli, where we saw this guy:

Yup, that's Rodney Bingenheimer, and if you're anybody who loves rock and roll, you should probably think that's pretty cool because Rodney is an awesome God of Rock, having been Davy Jones' double on the Monkees, brought glam rock to the United States (you can thank him that you know who T. Rex and David Bowie are), and been a rock tastemaker on KROQ for the last umpty-ump years (see "The Mayor of Sunset Strip," an otherwise informative documentary that unfairly paints him to be kind of a sad figure -- he so isn't). Trix flashed him the pearly whites and got a nice big sweet smile from the guy, but both of us totally chickened out of talking to him. Phoo. Next time.

Saturday: We took a lovely drive up the PCH where we ended up, at the recommendation of the guy who runs the agency that reps Diablo, at a little seafood shanty called Neptune's Net.

Everybody that wasn't us was a gigantic, mean-looking biker, but damned if the food wasn't amazing. And the drive up the PCH is -- hoo, wow, it's something else. The ocean on your left; gigantic, picturesque cliffs on your right, its really unbeatable. I wish we'd had even longer to just stop everywhere and explore, or sit by the ocean for a while and just stare off into nothingness.

Sunday: delightful cheddar chowder at the home of Patrick and Cheryl, my completely awesome bandmates who, I'm sure I've mentioned, are total geniuses: they regaled us with a new Silver Phial song that blew the top of my head off, much as all their other songs have. We need more gigs, so you can see how fucking brilliant they are.

Patrick, and...

Cheryl. They're so cool we had to wear parkas at their house.

This week: Peanut week! Whoopee!

Friday, March 21, 2008

One more song

My daughter -- you all know her as "Peanut" -- and I don't get to see each other often enough. We talk on the phone almost every day, but she lives in Minneapolis and I live in Los Angeles and eventually maybe that will change, but maybe it won't. I miss her like crazy. She's such an awesome kid I can't even tell you. "Candy Girl" sort of froze her at 3 years old, if you've read that, but she's eight now, and she's rad as hell. Today on the phone I reeled off a whole string of totally confusing information to her, and she interrupted me with "Hang on, hang on. Do you come with subtitles?" I laughed so hard I almost puked.

Whenever I want to sort of feel her close to me, I play this song. That sounds so corny, but there you go, I'm a sentimental guy. Her middle name is "Willow," after this gorgeous, heartbreaking Paul McCartney song, my very favorite off his "Flaming Pie" album.

She's coming next week, for the whole week, and I couldn't be more overjoyed. Enjoy. And happy Easter, everybody.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Musical Soul-Salvation

You folks remember my bleating about the new Bruce Springsteen record last October, and how fucking unbelievably great it is, right? You remember me telling you "even if you're not a fan, you need this record NOW because it is astonishing," right?

This is for those few of you who didn't listen to me, and went "really? Bruuuuuuce? (fist pumping) Dude, why?"

Please. Trust me. Listen to this song. Today I noticed it was my iTunes Top 25 most played song -- 21 plays in the last couple months, which is a LOT for this particular ADD listener.

And remember: *I* wasn't even really a fan when I fell in love with this song, okay?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hypothetical questions

1. If I painted a painting -- let's say it's called "Vase With Flowers" -- and hung it in a gallery, and it got tons of positive reviews and people called it a work of genius -- but then some asshole took the painting down, and totally without my knowledge or permission TRACED IT WITH TRACING PAPER, colored it in with fucking Crayolas (and didn't even really stay within the lines, the slob!), slapped it in a plastic neon-orange frame, and hung it in a gallery RIGHT NEXT DOOR, called it "Vase With Flowers," and charged admission to see it, you'd think the guy was an asshole, right? And I'm not talking Andy Warhol, either, let's say this guy was a fucking moustache-twirling huckster of the snake-oil variety, too, so you don't get THAT kind of hypothetical out.

2. If I wrote a book -- let's say it's called "Man Falls On Ass" -- and it got released to huge public acclaim and people loved my book and raved about my book and formed fanclubs about my book, but then some other asshole, totally without my knowledge or permission, retyped the book but made LITTLE TINY INSIGNIFICANT CHANGES like changing the name of the characters, and then REPUBLISHED the book under the title "Bob's Man Falls On Ass" or something and charged a buck more for it, you'd think the guy was not only an asshole but a complete moron, right? Furthermore, wouldn't people be crying plagarism and taking the guy out back and kicking the shit out of him with "Balls to the Wall" playing top volume?

And yet, this is the untenable situation Diablo's friend Edgar Wright finds himself in. See, Edgar (along with his pal Simon Pegg and the awesome Jessica Hynes nee Stevenson -- see her in the Doctor Who episode "Human Nature" if you wanna know how completely fucking awesome she is) created this brilliant comedy called "Spaced" over in the UK. It had -- and still has! -- a massive following, and for good reason: not only is it hysterically funny, its also masterfully directed, much like Edgar's films Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead. Making it even more awesome is the brilliant ensemble cast, which also includes Pegg's Fuzz and Shaun foil Nick Frost.

So what happens? Fox buys the rights to the show and decides to make an American version of the thing, thinking they can catch some hot Office bucks. They assign McG, a guy who is responsible for a great deal of cinematic and televised evil (he directed the two Charlie's Angels movies and fucking exec produces The O.C. for which he should be given a good old-fashioned blanket party), to produce the thing. And they hired a second-string TV writer (Adam Barr -- I'm sure he's just fine, he wrote some episodes of Desperate Housewives or whatever, but he's not the level of hysterical genius you NEED for this kind of thing) to write the pilot -- which he does by essentially re-typing the original pilot script with different names. Brilliant.

MAIN PROBLEM: Apart from the fact that we're talking about a McG production, which is its own brand of pure, unimaginable evil, at each and every stage of the game they FAILED TO INFORM OR CONSULT WITH THE ORIGINAL SHOW'S CREATORS. Who are absolutely, rightfully pissed.

See, the reason the US version of The Office worked as well as it did is manifold -- they got top of the line writers and directors (including Paul Feig, Harold Ramis, Joss Whedon, etc), top of the line cast (do I need to list them? You know and love them) and most importantly THEY INVOLVED THE SHOW'S ORIGINAL CREATORS AT EVERY STAGE OF THE GAME.

Fox's decision to NOT involve Edgar, Simon and Jessica means their decision to make this thing comes from the crassest place imaginable -- some cigar-chomping, money-grubbing exec sitting at a boardroom table, going: "Hey, what's hot these days? What's bringing in the ad bucks? The Office? Isn't that a fucking fag British show? Okay, fine, get on the horn and buy me one of those fucking things. What? I don't give two shits from shinola who made it, we're doing this our way. This is the good ol' US of fucking A, I'm not gonna let a bunch of limey ponces tell me what to do. Get me McG on the phone. He's getting a blow-job from a thai hooker? Interrupt him, god dammit, I don't have all afternoon!"

I'm not exactly sure that petitions actually do anything, but signing them sure makes ME feel good. How's about you all go right now and sign the petition and register your distaste at this foul, disgusting situation, and show Edgar, Simon and Jessica some support?

And furthermore, surely you all have multi-region DVD players? (I don't -- but surely you all do, being discerning, intelligent folk, right?) Buy the DVD set of the original series so you're not even slightly tempted to watch the remake.
I *could* blog about how Trix and I drank Guinness at our local watering hole last night JUST LIKE THE REST OF THE COUNTRY, but who'd care? Yawn. Wow, you drank Guinness on St. Patrick's Day? How remarkable and fascinating, whee!

INSTEAD I'll mention that last Friday we saw this guy in concert:

This, my friends, is the legendary Sky Sunlight Saxon, who fronted a group in the 1960s called the Seeds. You may remember them from their classic garage hit "Pushin' Too Hard," or their classic, warped psych classic "The Future." Lester Bangs loved 'em, and they burned bright and fast. Sky himself still plays shows -- but he didn't play a lick of "Pushin' Too Hard" on Friday, preferring instead to play some extremely fucked up but occasionally awesome new stuff, at least some of which sounded made up on the spot a la Jim Morrison at his most extemporaneous.

Sky's recently taken up with Father Yod's Ya Ho Wa religion, and if you don't know about Ya Ho Wa, well, here you go. Basically they're a kind of hippy music/love/god collective who also are a band and make records, most of which are pretty fucking awesomely fucked up. There were no Ya Ho Wa people in attendance on Friday, in fact:

The tragedy: There were like 20 people in attendance. Come ON, Los Angeles. Have a sense of history. This is SKY SAXON, here, he was punk before punk EXISTED, y'know? Attend shows that aren't MGMT shows (not that I don't dig MGMT, but I'm just saying), okay?

The cool thing: Their drummer is most likely gonna be our drummer soon. That rules.

This is why I love Los Angeles.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Awesome Minneapolis writer/anti-hero Steve Marsh weighs in on the Jonny/Trixi engagement and his now infamous "bye-bye Jonny" question here. For the record: I apologized for my neurotic angry outburst to Steve a while ago, he's a good guy and a good writer and, I think, a Uri Geller/Ted Serios-level psychic (but can he make photographs WITH HIS MIND? I think not.) I'm just disappointed that the ensuing MNSpeak thread turned into yet another Juno thread and not a discussion about my loose morals and insane lifestyle.

(Amusing note: The original MNSpeak thread on the topic, months ago, had an anonymous commenter who said I was, in fact, a crazy, fly-off-the-handle loose cannon, as he "knew me from long ago." As I told Mimi recently, I secretly wish that was true. I wish I was the kind of insane, wild, fly-by-night character that had the reputation for being a loose cannon -- alas, I think my reputation as a "milksop" is pretty well set in stone.)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Product review: Absinthe

Ahhh, The Green Fairy, Absinthe. The drink of choice of yr. better romantic poets and impressionist painters (Van Gogh was notably a fan, as well as Oscar Wilde and Aleister Crowley), Absinthe has been illegal pretty much forever due to its alleged (ahem ahem) hallucinogenic properties, as well as its supposed ties to "rheumatism, the gout, epilepsy" and god knows how many other things we now know are caused by anything but drinking Absinthe.

In a rare moment of clarity, the US Government has apparently seen the light and made this wondrous drink legal again, and lo and behold, the Snake Pit, my Neighborhood Bar, has seen fit to not only stock it but feature it. Miss Cody had already sung its praises from the streets of Olde New Orleans, so Trix and I figured we'd be the bold experimenters last night.

Pretty much the entire bar was afraid to try the stuff, so they all sat and watched us, expecting us to start screaming that the bats were coming for us, but that didn't happen. The bartenders did it right -- dropping water from a rather Victorian-looking contraption through a sugar cube to turn the concoction cloudy. We downed the black-licorice-tasting beverage quickly (because, y'know, who the hell likes black licorice?) -- then another -- then waited for the effect.

Wikipedia would have you believe that the hallucinogenic properties are nonexistent, and I can tell you that is not the case, though they have no doubt been exaggerated by legend and lore -- neither of us had any desire to cut our ear off and mail it to an old flame, that's for sure. However: it is definitely different than the effects of plain old alcohol. We were both consumed by what we could only describe as a profound "warm, tingly" sensation. We were definitely more lucid than if we'd pounded, say, two shots of fine aged Scotch, which was intriguing -- intoxication with a modicum of lucidity. And yes, there were definitely visual effects -- not like the full-blown hallucinogenic effects of LSD, say, but a very intriguing sparkle over everything.

We had what I would describe as a "reasonable" amount of the stuff -- I'm intrigued to see what would happen if we pounded, say, four shots of it or something, whether the effects would be heightened or whether we'd just get drunk and pass out. Hm.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Travel Bolg #4

Okay, first off, some pictures, all shot by Trix:

This first one is an abandoned hotel in Tecumcari, NM, featuring an awesome mid-century-modern sign. It's famous for being one of the first hotels ever with the "Magic Fingers" mattress, no lie. This is from the absolute heyday of Route 66.

Here's a lovely photo looking down the street in Tecumcari. Just about every business is abandoned. It feels like the Forbidden Zone in Planet of the Apes. It is both beautiful and incredibly sad.

Finally, this is the gorgeous deco lobby of the Monte Vista hotel in Flagstaff, AZ. The people in the upper right are real, they are not spectral.

Our last day was kind of "hurry up and get there" -- after spending another couple hours messing around in Flagstaff, which we officially fell madly in love with (I could spend a month exploring the lovingly restored 1800s-era buildings as well as the Route 66-ania hotels along the business loop), the rest of the day was basically just ONE. LONG. DRIVE. with a few stops along the way to pick up supplies / pee / gas up. Route 66 fans: I'm sure I-15 from Barstow to Los Angeles is a perfectly wonderful modern invention that speeds up transit but it is also the most DANGEROUS AND AWFUL stretch of road I've ever driven. Gone is the leisurely pace our 50s forebears had, replaced by psychotic Los Angeleans driving 1000 mph to and from the outlet mall on the edge of Barstow. Gah. It sucked.

We ended our trip having a lovely dinner at the Formosa, a gorgeous Olde Hollywood restaurant not five blocks from my house. Its absolutely marvelous -- the food's great, and its loaded with atmosphere and old ghosts.

Ladies and Gentlemen of Los Angeles: Miss Trixi B has officially arrived!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Travel Bolg #3

I'm all fucking Scooby Doo up in this bitch -- we're staying at a gen-yoo-whine haunted hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona, the Monte Vista. Its haunted by like seventeen ghosts, no lie. There's the ghost of two dead prostitutes who supposedly sneak in your room and strangle you at night. Not to mention the ghostly sounds of a baby crying that can be heard in the basement. We've so far seen no apparition but our hallway feels, like, LOADED -- its colder than the rest of the hotel. John Wayne stayed next door (we're in the Lee Marvin suite!!) and he heard the ghostly sound of a spectral bellboy knocking at his door, so we're expecting a late night visit from him. Hope he brings canapes.

Today was the best day of the trip so far -- Route 66 kicked in big time today, like old school Route 66. We spent an hour in a town in New Mexico called Tecumcari, which was, in Route 66's heyday, a major stopover, but now is filled the ruined husks of Guggi-style motels and diners, shuddered up "Cars"-style thanks to the MODERN EXCITING I-40 that now bypasses the sucker. It was absolutely beautiful to people who love ruination and 50s car culture as much as we do. We blew through 2 rolls of film taking pictures of destroyed drive-ins and ancient, rotting motels.

We HAVE pictures, but the hotel's internet connection is all 1800s and shit. We'll post 'em tomorrow, swear.

Product reviews:

- Dr. Pepper Cherry Chocolate (Limited Edition): Trix says it tastes like a chocolate Tootsie Pop (TM) and she's absolutely right. Delightful.

- The "Big Hunk," a weird hard white caramely nougaty thing full of nuts. Trix: "It was far too hard, but if you sucked on it, it got a little soft, and then you're able to swallow it." It tasted great, but was teeth-rotting and kind of hideous texturally.

- Some kind of weird "Nut Cluster" -- it was pink and peanut-filled and was so disgusting I had to spit out the single bite I took. I can't even describe the flavor. Kind of like peanut cough syrup.

Tomorrow: We're LA bound, folks. Can't wait to see the cats again.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Travel Bolg #2

Dateline: Amarillo, Texas.

We are staying HERE.

Why, you ask? Well, c'mon -- we're traveling up the legendary Route 66 (see: either Manhattan Transfer, the Rolling Stones or, in a pinch, Depeche Mode) because, frankly, if you're going from any random destination up north down to LA, you gotta take the highway that's the best, y'know? And if you're DOING Route 66, you can't -- CAN'T -- just stay in Clean Friendly Motor Lodge and/or Smarmy Hotel. You have to find the cheesiest, stupidest tourist trap motels imaginable. And, frankly, having been to numerous Indian/Cowboy/whatever themed motor lodges in my life, the Big Texan is one of the stupidest.

- Our room is "charming" and by "charming" I mean really kinda shitty but with Western crap all over it.

- The restaurant (pictured) is awesome. The steaks are enormous, the drinks are great, the waitresses are cute and say "y'all" a lot, a strolling country band of 80-year-old men play love songs at the table for you, and we watched an Italian man try to consume A FOUR AND A HALF POUND STEAK. The size of a human head. And I mean a BIG human head, not, like, Verne Troyer's head, okay?

- There is a dog area for your dog to play, but they spell it "Dawg."

- There is BOTH a giant boot AND a giant cowboy present on premises.

To sum up, we turn to Trixi: "This room is cute, but it kinda smells like old poo." We're smoking it up, though, to conceal it (YOU CAN SMOKE YOU CAN SMOKE YOU CAN SMOKE).

Tomorrow: New Mexico and Arizona, home of dessicated, run down tourist traps and some of the gorgeous scenery I've ever peeped in m'life.

(Car fans: It's a yellow Cooper Mini!)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Travel Bolg #1

The scene: Hampton Inn, Kansas City. The travel begins after a month of Trixi cleaning her house (and leaving nothing but 2 full cat boxes behind) and getting things crazily in order on both ends. We started drinking at 6 am, having a beer at every single rest stop -- shit, I'm KIDDING, people, sheesh. Actually we're just enjoying a well-deserved moment's peace in our delightful SMOKING ROOM (you can smoke here. You can smoke here. You can smoke here.) listening to the INSANELY POUNDING rain outside. Yes, we soaked in the hot tub. Yes, we enjoyed sandwiches at Bob Evans -- sadly, the restaurant, not the home of the Paramount mogul.

Note: The Twin Bing is the best candy bar ever. If you've driven through Iowa and missed it, GO BACK AND HAVE ONE.

Other note: Kum and Go realizes the humor behind their name.