Monday, June 30, 2008

New tracks from the mighty Silver Phial!

Hey, folks -- check out the Silver Phial MySpace page, will ya? We have a new track up called "Aeronautique" which is currently my favorite song we play (it changes weekly, they've *all* been my favorites at various times). We also posted a swell remix of "Mountain Boy" done by yours truly.

Go now!! And friend us if you haven't friended us already!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

For Doctor Who Geeks Only

Holy crap, was "The Stolen Earth" not the best episode EVER??


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Food Review: McDonald's Southern-Style Chicken Sammich

Hatesexy: eating weird-ass food so you don't have to.

The Southern-Style Chicken Sandwich is the first time in a looooong time I was completely swayed by awesome advertising photography to devour something I normally wouldn't. The billboards and bus-kings are all over LA. I wish I could find an example, but this photo from PR Web is pretty close:

MMMM. Doesn't that look good? That crisp, fluffy bun...that delectable and juicy-looking hunk of meat...those amazing, crunchy-looking, I'm getting hungry just thinking about it. For weeks now I've been telling Trix that I just had to have one, like immediately. Sensible girl that she is, she told me "Dude, there's no way those things are as good as the photographs."

Last night, though, we found ourselves starving at 10 PM after a dance recital, and so , culinary experimenters that we are, we decided it was time to give 'em a shot.

So how are they?

Well, frankly, I had no idea what "Southern-Style Chicken" was, being, y'now, from about as far North as you can possibly get. Apparently this sandwich was invented to compete with a popular Southern restaurant chain. But hell, when I think Southern Chicken, I think gravy and there's no damn gravy to be seen.

What we have? A buttered bun, two pickle slices, and some chicken. That's it.

It's tiny. Seriously. Its really small. The bun is crisp and fluffy, I suppose, and the meat is juicy. But c'mon, juicy meat at McDonalds? You just know those bastards injected a portion of Mashed, Reprocessed Chickeny-Flavored Meat Goop with 2 gallons of water to make it juicy.

No gravy. I swear, I wanted gravy.

At any rate, end result? It's fairly yummy, but its really just like having a McNugget sandwich, which, y'know, sounds like something you'd concoct if you were really high. "Oh, dude, we have those leftover McNuggets from last night, and a couple buns from the grill-out last weekend. I think there's some pickles. Oh, and margarine!! Let's throw it in the microwave and eat the shit out of that stuff. Puff puff pass, dude, puff puff pass!"

I give it a firm 6 out of 10. Its on the good side of good, but it sure ain't nothin' to write home about.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I Steadfastly Refuse To Twitter!

Why? You ask. Everybody's doing it! And they literally are. Almost every single one of my friends has a Twitter account at this point, and have been Twittering madly away day after day.

I swear, I'm not being a luddite. The thing is: I can't fit my thoughts into brief snippets. I'm a blabbermouth. I talk too much and have too much to say, and like the sound of my own virtual voice too much. Plus, I like to overexplain. Have you noticed? I hear you all collectively chuckling -- Oh really, do you? Well, the good thing is that you never, ever wonder what I'm talking about. I just can't find it in my heart to be cryptic or obscurantist or poetic, really. It's my old journalism training, or further back yet, my debate training. Make a point, develop it, sum it up.

I mean, if there's an album I like, it would take me thirty lines of Twitter to write about how I feel about it! And I'd have to do it from my cellphone. And the way I see it, any thought I feel compelled to write about I usually feel compelled enough to develop it into a blog entry, otherwise I just, y'know, think it. Or call Trix and bug HER about it.

Not to say I don't enjoy reading other people's Twitters. There's quite a few I follow on a regular basis, and there's some folks who totally suit the snippet-thought format. And there's some folks who are just good in any medium.

Not me. For good or for ill, I'm afraid I'm a blogger.

Dudes, you KNOW I'm talking shit. You KNOW that three months from now I'll have a Twitter account with two billion entries on it, and someone will point out that I swore I'd never Twitter and I'll regret ever posting this blog entry, and everybody will LAUGH MERRILY at my discomfort.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Wait...Seriously...Did That Just Happen??

Honest to god? Yr. loyal blogger was at the Playboy Mansion?? Holy crap, hell has most certainly frozen over.

I can't really tell you why I was there 'cause I'm fairly sure somebody must have an exclusive on it and it surely ain't me, but suffice it to say happy god-damn birthday to someone I'm unbelievably proud of, who will always mean a lot to me (edit: okay, it has been officially written about in several places, so I think its safe to say it's DIABLO CODY). It was a stone blast. The Minneapolis Contingent came down en masse for the event. As my friend Blake, whom I've known since my early college days, said to me: "When we were hanging out in Northeast Minneapolis almost twenty years ago, did you think we'd eventually be sharing a drink at the Playboy Mansion?" No, sir, I did not. Celebrity sightings? Oh, plenty, plenty, but again, I'm not sure I'm allowed to write about 'em until someone official does.

Okay, okay, I'll tell you the one that did my geek heart good. You all remember I was very vocal in my love of "Superman Returns," right? Good movie. I still stand by it to this day. So I was thrilled beyond belief to shake hands with Superman himself, Brandon Routh. He is seventeen feet tall and made of pure muscle. I couldn't even look into his face directly or I would have been turned into a pillar of ash.

And PS, I didn't think I could be more impressed with Trix than I already was, but she was awesome at the party. She managed to wrangle a couple of very tough-cookie celebrities, fielded a whole passell of batshit crazy text messages, help out people she doesn't even assist normally, press the flesh with the exact right people in exactly the right way, and generally act as a frickin' impressive rep for her boss, all the while planning and generally taking care of shit for the Minneapolis peeps as well and making sure they were all doing okay. I was so proud. The Industry suits my Trix very well, I must say.

The evening ended -- and hell yes I'm blogging about it, you didn't think you'd escape my pen, did you? -- with most of our friends from Minneapolis naked in a pool. I saw more taint than a 4-H milk inspector. I myself remained fully clothed, dignity intact. I didn't want to shame my male friends. You understand.

The one shame of the evening was that I had to miss my boys in the Explorers Club, who played the Troubadour that very night. By all reports that was one hell of a night too, with an appearance by Darian Sahanaja of Brian Wilson's band, Darren from the Tyde, and other special guests. So imagine my great glee when I found out that they were playing the very next night in Pomona.

Folks, folks, folks -- if you want to see some fucking amazing live rock music, please do yourself a favor and see the Explorer's Club. Holy shit. If you've seen Brian's band, and thought to yourself "there is no way a band that isn't this band can get up on stage and play extremely complicated arrangements with spiritual, righteous stacked harmonies this tight and make it this damn fun," think a-fucking-gain. 'Cause the Explorers Club are MORE FUN -- yes, you heard me -- MORE FUN -- than that. They did backflips. They did choreographed stage movements. They did incendiary solos, stacked their harmonies to the fucking sky, and ripped shit up, despite running on, like, three hours of sleep. Astonishing.

Plus, I got to finally shake hands with their bassist Chris Mondia, also of the Green Fields, and a damn genius songwriter in his own right, whom I've been great friends with for years and years without ever having met in person. Chris is every bit as awesome, enthusiastic, hilarious and just plain damn kind as he is in the cyberworld, I'm happy to report.

So without further ado: FUZZY PICTURES from Trix' camera phone. Sorry -- it was dark!

Here is the Trixi Taxi parked in front of the mansion, its occupant, in a gorgeous handmade dress with skull and crossbones on the bodice, looking rather evil in the flash of the camera.

This fuzzy little image is of Trix and I reflected in the mirror over the circular bed off the game room. Oh, yes, the Playboy Mansion most certainly does have areas devoted to illicit trysts, my friends.

...and myself in the famous Grotto, looking resplendent, if I do say so myself.

And here's myself with the good Mr. Mondia, a collection of bearded harmony-singing country-rock fans. Woo hoo!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Oh, folks!

This is gonna be me this weekend:

Whoops! Wrong type of "naughty playboy." Lemme try that again.

Ah yes, that's more like it. Why, you ask? Ah, I cannot say, I cannot say, but I shall report when I can. I promise.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The ORIGINAL must-see TV

Tuesday nights in the Hunt household circa late-1970-something were sacred. Not for my folks, who undoubtedly would have preferred a game of Yahtzee or having their normal grown-up friends over for Parchese and bridge mix and gin martinis. No, Tuesday nights were my night, my friends.

Two reasons:


I have no idea why two TV shows set in 1950s Milwaukee and based off a George Lucas movie I never even saw at the time resonated so much with a kid whose closest connection with rock 'n' roll culture was watching Sha Na Na's variety show, but they sure as hell did. I know your first response is "well, it's the Fonz, right? Everybody loved the Fonz." But I was probably the only kid in America who didn't*. I was all about Potsie, who, in the initial seasons of the show, was set up to be the breakout star. Potsie was a smart-ass -- the ladies loved him despite his obvious wussiness, mostly 'cause he knew his way around a wisecrack. Richie was hapless, Ralph Malph was just cuddly, but Potsie was cool. Occasionally naive, frequently stupid, but cool -- and all without ever being remotely tough.

Oh, and god, did I love this girl:

Suzi Quattro as Leather Tuscadero. I mean, duh!

I actually dug "Laverne and Shirley" more, and I have even less idea why. I wasn't Italian or Jewish, I didn't live in Milwaukee, my parents weren't remotely working class, and I wasn't, as far as I know, a single woman of "a certain age." Mostly, I think, I had a little crush on Laverne. Not Shirley -- Laverne. She wasn't sexy, really, but she was so damn dry. She could kill someone from 50 feet with a well-placed piece of snark. And there was something about those buck teeth that just slayed me. I still like buck-toothed girls. And redheads. And fake redheads. And girls with initials on their sweaters.

I watched those two damn shows until they were run into the ground -- I weathered the original shark-jump, the departure of Richie Cunningham, the departure of Shirley (kinda rendering that show obsolete, no?), the arrival of Mork from Ork, and -- gahhh! -- the addition of Ted McGinley to the cast. Once they were cancelled, it was never the same. Oh, sure, like every kid in the 70s and 80s I watched "Mork and Mindy." But it wasn't sacred. I didn't care if I was interrupted during Jonathan Winters' hatching from the giant egg. Didn't bother me in the slightest. And every other "must see" night since then has absolutely paled in comparison.

*I mean, not that the Fonz wasn't awesome. Henry Winkler was the best Jew-playing-an-Italian in TV history. It was more like, less love.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Brief retraction

A while back, I posted that I didn't much like the new Magnetic Fields album "Distortion;" in fact, I think I called it a "crushing disappointment." I'd like to take that sentiment back at least partially and allow for one exception: "California Girls," which is a completely awesome, bitter, evil little song with a nasty black heart.

Here's a fantastic acoustic version of it that eliminates the nasty shrill feedback which made me strongly dislike the album. Lyrics fully audible. Yay.

"They come on like squares and get off like squirrels, I hate California girls."

Quiet weekend

Trix is sick. This little bastard:

...has been attacking her upper respiratory system. It was a weekend of low-grade fevers, desperate hacking, headaches to beat the band, sneezing, stomach cramps and lord knows what else. Poor thing. People who know me know I'm a classic caretaker so of course I was buzzing 'round getting her cold meds, food, and whatever else, whilst insisting she remain prone and snuggled into a down comforter. She, of course, would have none of it and spent yesterday sewing. Girl's ass is kicked and still she manages to do shit. When I get sick I just lie in bed and whine.

Vinyl find of the weekend: The Byrds' "Fifth Dimension" **IN MONO** for two bucks. Whoever sold it to me had no idea what he was selling. Also: "S.F. Sorrow" by the Pretty Things on blue vinyl. One of my top ten faves of all time. Hotcha!

This week is going to be strange. I can tell already. It has that vibe about it. I woke up this morning with one pervasive feeling: weird. That's my Psychic Friends Prediction for Monday, June 16th -- high weirdness this week. Stay in, or go to a cabin or something.

Question for the week: what do you do when you love your job but there's one particular person you work with that drives you to fucking insanity? And you have to work very very closely with that person every single day?

Friday, June 13, 2008

On The Joys Of Vinyl

I recently bought a record player (note: not the one pictured here -- I love that "Tubular Bells" is kind of hovering in the background, though, that's awesome!). You'd figure that someone like me (read: total geek) would never be without a record player and you'd mostly be right -- however, our shitty moving company damaged my turntable in the move and I've been dying to play my vinyl.

Why? you ask. That whole thing about vinyl being "warmer" is a myth. CD resolution has progressed to a point where the difference is indecipherable. And you can't play a record in your car, can you, Mr. Two Hours A Day In Traffic? I know all that. I really do.

But no matter what you try to tell me about bit sampling or whatever, I honestly don't care. I'm not an audiophile. Do you know what my record player cost? 88 bucks. It has two built-in speakers (which actually sound pretty good) and no line-outs, so I couldn't plug in Harmon Kardens if I even wanted to. Which I don't. Honestly.

To me, half the joy of playing recorded music is experiential. There's a kind of primal glee derived from pulling a record out of the sleeve and putting it on a turntable. I don't know if its nostalgia, or if its just a feeling of substantiality, that the music you're about to listen to has actual weight. Part of it is most certainly the smell of the thing -- there's a particular scent of old vinyl and record album covers that powerfully evokes pleasant afternoons spent as a teenager listening to Yes' "Close To The Edge" over and over again.

Furthermore: I love, love, love flipping through racks and racks of old vinyl. Ask anybody I've ever dated, especially the ones who fucking hated that fact. I can spend three, four hours at a record store picking out one-dollar Mantovani and Glen Campbell LPs and be happy as a clam. Flipping through "CD WORLD"'s racks of used CDs doesn't have that same thrill of discovery. The "click click click" of those little plastic cases will never replace that satisfying "whoomp whoomp whoomp" of record sleeves banging up against each other.

I just love having records, y'know? There's something so comforting about those piles of 12-inchers sitting in a corner. It makes me feel so worldly-wise and grown-up. Like a cocktail party with Tiki glasses and butter mints might break out at any time, completely out of my control. And there's something so damn satisfying about getting in a mood, any mood, and finding the perfect record to go along with it. Punching it into my iPod? NOT THE SAME. Not even close.

Recently, I thought to myself: if I were to suddenly come into several thousand dollars, and could get anything for myself, anything at all, what would I get? I thought about what would make me the happiest, and honestly, the thing that sprung to mind first was just man, I'd love to head to Amoeba and flip through some records and buy a big stack without worrying about whether I could afford 'em. Simple. If I were to describe my happy place? That would be it.

My final verdict on "I'm Not There"...

I fucking loved it.

I know, I know, I waited too long to see it, and by now its as cold as yesterday's fish. My problem -- I have an issue with standard-fare biopics. Worst offender: Oliver Stone's odious "The Doors," which works best if you view it as a comedy (it has as many quotable lines as "Caddyshack," honestly -- "Naw, I ain't drinkin', ma, just a little low-grade acid!" Who says that?). Recently, I liked and then kinda didn't like "Walk The Line" which featured some magnificent performances but had the whole "this happened, and then this happened, and then this happened" approach, and by the end you know fuck all about who Johnny Cash actually was. You knew he wore black and liked prisoners a lot, and that's about it.

Which is why "I'm Not There" is so fucking brilliant. By the end you really don't know much about Bob Dylan's life, but you feel like maybe you know Bob Dylan. By splintering his personality into a series of vignettes only nominally related to Actual Dylan and by eschewing standard-fare biographical narration for a surrealist approach, you end up deep within the characters that Dylan created for himself, and at the end maybe feel like you have a fragment of an understanding of the guy, which is really all you can hope for.

Random thoughts:

- Yes, I totally dug the scenes with Richard Gere and the weird western town with the giraffes. I get it. It makes sense.

- Cate Blanchett was fucking ROBBED, Oscar-wise. That might have been my favorite performance from last year, honestly. She's a fucking marvel. She's channeling the Bob of that era, but infusing him with this desperate exhaustion -- so damn good.

- Wow, Christian Bale sure can sing, huh? I loved him as Jesus Dylan best, totally forgotten by time, singing his songs to a tiny crowd of the faithful, that was phenomenal.

- What can be said about Heath Ledger? As a father who doesn't get to see his kid much, those scenes broke my fucking heart. So much sadness in that guy, and how good is Charlotte Gainsbourg? Magnificent.

- The little kid at the beginning, singing with Richie Havens -- lord god, that scene brought chills.



Wednesday, June 11, 2008

You guys...'re all hip and with-it and totally un-L-7, and already know all about Flight of the Conchords, right?

Well, for, like, the one of you that may not, here you go. Then watch the entire first season, available now on HBO Video, and NO, I am not being paid to shill.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

On Reclaiming Stuff

So: Along with relationships come experiences, and along with experiences come memories. And when relationships end, and I think virtually everybody can attest to this, some of those memories become extremely painful. This means you find yourself not able to listen to certain music, or go to certain restaurants, or visit certain parks or streets or watch certain TV shows because it hurts too bad -- even just the hint of certain stuff coming on the radio makes your heart break in two, even years later. Right? Or, god help me, is it just me?

Sometimes you never get it back. There's stuff from Major Relationship #1 that I still can't listen to, including the song we played at our wedding (which, dammit, is on my favorite album of all time, and yeah, it's still kinda ouchie even 15 years later). I can't play Belle and Sebastian because it reminds me of breaking off Major Relationship #2 -- not that I was sad to see the ass-end of that sucker (I wasn't -- believe me), but listening to "If You're Feeling Sinister" brings back memories I'd rather not revisit, including time spent in the psych ward of a hospital eating mashed potatoes and yams because they couldn't figure out a vegetarian diet for their one suicidal hippie. Yay!

So what I've done recently is seized the bull by the horns. I've decided that I'm reclaiming each and every thing I lost in the proverbial fire. Mostly music, granted -- that's the worst of it, for me. I mean, who cares if you can't go to That One Perkins On The West Bank In Minneapolis anymore? Big whoop. But to be unable to listen to records you dig? GAHH -- that sucks.

Lemme tell ya: even if its making me stronger (and it is, believe me) it is frequently no damn fun at all. I mean, its fun AFTERWARDS, when suddenly you find yourself able to listen to "Apple Venus Vol. 2" and mostly be reminded of the ten trips to and from Venice, CA you took while listening to it rather than the time your ex threw a scissors at your head in a fight (true story!). But during? It sucks, because you have to relive memories that at best are sorta ouchie and at worst you've spent quality time trying to bury so deeply even the dog can't fucking find 'em.

Ultimately, though? I see a time when I'll be able to listen to every single record in my collection without any pain of the heart variety, and that's awesome. Might take me ten years and a heapin' helpin' of vodka and tears, but I'm gonna do it.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


Edit: reference material, in case you thought I was serious:

The original photo

The Almost Famous version

Friday, June 6, 2008

Showgirls IS the Best Movie Ever, also: Coldplay

Nomi removes her top. She is topless.

1. First off, I have to report on last night's activities. After a depressing day during which a former best friend proved himself to be a craven, cowardly asshole (the worst kind of downer, shaking one's faith in humanity) I was despairing ever laughing again. Nevertheless, we headed, in the company of fellow ex-pat Darren Roark, to the Upright Citizens Brigade theater to see Showgirls: The Best Movie Ever Made. Ever. It's billed as a "dramatic reading" of Joe Esterhasz' script, which is so unbelievably, monumentally, legendarily awful it veers into genius territory. The stage directions are read absolutely verbatim ( ex: Esterhasz has a tendency to overexplain the bare tits of the main character: "Nomi removes her top. SHE IS TOPLESS.") and the parts are read either as broad caricature or deadly serious. And "Mr. Esterhasz" himself is there to explain the film and talk about how he sucked Andrea Dworkin's dick. I'm not sure I've ever laughed harder. Must see.

Best of all, we got to meet SNL's gorgeous Casey Wilson and Rob Corddry, formerly of the Daily Show and most recently of "What Happens In Vegas," a movie which, despite my personal loathing of the rom-com genre, charmed the shit out of me, partly 'cause of the script and partly because of the riotous chemistry between Corddry and the astonishing Lake Bell. Awesome.

2. Okay. This blog has always been, if nothing else, completely honest. Right? I've never lied to you, I lay bare my soul even when it hurts. And there's something I need to confess to you. Something that's been plaguing my life for years, and something which I've tried depserately to hide.

That is this: I can't bring myself to hate Coldplay.

God, it tortures me! My forebrain knows they write shitty, overdramatic, cliche-ridden songs. My forebrain knows that they're pompous, pretentious assholes who think they're the fucking second coming and so fucking aren't. My forebrain keeps telling me that every fiber of my being should be dedicated to loathing these chumps because that's the kind of music that the world should loathe.

And then? One of their songs comes on the radio and my fucking hindbrain goes "Hey, good song!" and turns up the radio and next thing I know I'm singing along to "Clocks" or that new song that isn't even a song from their new album which is called something like "La Vida Loca." And then my forebrain notices, shudders in abject horror, and turns the radio to an AC/DC song in an attempt to purge the horror.

I refuse to admit that the reason I can't bring myself to hate them is that they're actually not as bad as everybody seems to think they are and that, like U2, their pomposity frequently overshadows their knack for writing catchy melodies that stick in your head. Even though, I dunno, it's kind of true.

God, I'm so ashamed. I'm turning in my Pitchfork Media Music Snob Club Membership Card and retiring to a monastery in the mountains of Greece to get away from this. I need to find myself. Farewell.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Minneapolis: Your Chance To See Prince!!!, not that Prince, but HAPPILY, this Prince!! For those of you Minneapolitans who've been checking out the brilliant Bamboo Nation blog to the right in my blogroll -- and if you're not, you should as Prince is one of the few geniuses I know, both as a blogger and as a playright -- the man himself will be in town on June 5th at Bryant Lake Bowl performing his show/musical Jukebox Stories.

I guarantee you a good fucking time. Prince is absolutely hilarious -- have you seen Weighing Pork Chop, AS FEATURED IN ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY? This is only a tiny fragment of the guy's ability, a tiny eeny weeny snippet of his brilliance.

GO. PLEASE GO. ALL OF YOU. Tell 'im I sentcha.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Why I Love Duran Duran

I first encountered Duran Duran at this cute girl's house when I was in 8th grade. My friend Karsten (this dude who was really into the A-Team and army crap) invited me and my friend Adam along to her place, and if I recall correctly, she had kind of a crush on me (or most likely on Adam, everybody had a crush on Adam). Most importantly, though, she had MTV. Neither Adam nor I had cable television and of course we'd heard about MTV but neither of us had ever seen it. I remember "Rio" being on, and thinking holy shit, this is so cool and sophisticated and awesome. I don't remember the girl's name, even, but I sure as hell remember "Rio."

I became an actual fan in 10th grade, though. This girl named Laurie was in our class, and she was from California, which was totally exotic. She had a cute valley-girl accent, and I was madly in love with her. She dressed exotically and professed her love of men with makeup. Also, she was obsessed with Duran Duran. I hung out with her constantly, despite the fact that she showed no actual interest in me, and as a result started wearing makeup (duh! I mean, c'mon, there was a girl at stake) and listening to Duran Duran. I went with her to the Record Shop in City Center mall to get the Arcadia album the day it was released.

Laurie fell by the wayside but my affection for Duran did not. I listened to "Seven And The Ragged Tiger" and "Arena" and Arcadia's "So Red The Rose" over and over again while I played "Ultima III" on my Commodore 64, and memorized every song. I argued passionately with my friend Neil who liked Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton that John Taylor was too a good bass player. I dressed like Nick Rhodes and got my ass kicked for being a fag. I was in a subculture that wasn't even present in suburban Minnesota -- "new romantic" meant you gave a girl flowers before you got her drunk on Southern Comfort and fucked her in the back of your Honda Civic.

And unlike most fickle music fans, I kept with 'em. I was already into goth music when "Notorious" came out but that didn't stop me from playing the cassette bald. I was getting nasty with a chick named Karla with a white-dyed crew cut who was into Ministry when "Big Thing" was released, and still I listened to it over and over in my dorm room. "Liberty" -- well, we'll skip that album for a moment, but at the height of shoegaze music, I still bought the "Wedding Album" and memorized it, too. Hell, I bought "Medazzaland" and I'm not sure anybody bought frickin' "Medazzaland."

For the love of god, you're saying, WHY?

My love for the band isn't just based on liking chicks or my nostalgia for early MTV, believe me. Duran Duran are -- believe it or not -- artists. Sure, they're mighty pretty artists and they looked good on television, but they are artists nonetheless. Like the other new romantic bands of the early 80s (Japan, Talk Talk, Spandau Ballet) they were attempting to meld the stylish nihilism of David Bowie with the danceability of Roxy Music and Chic, while coming to grips with the commerical/non-commercial possibilities of the synthesizer as well as the video medium. They just did it better than everybody else, and looked fucking great doing it, so they got played on the radio.

But so what? So did the Beatles, not to compare the two, but commercial viability isn't necessarily a gague of a group's artistic reach, positive or negative. If you go back and listen to the songs they did get hits with in the 80s -- "Rio," say, or "New Moon On Monday" -- and listen without predjudice, you find some exceptionally strange songs. LeBon's lyrics are dense and imagistic, not unlike Jon Anderson from Yes. And the music is synth-driven but oozes with style, not at all unlike "Scary Monsters"-era Bowie, and that's his weirdest phase -- listen to something like "The Chauffeur" off of "Rio" if you want something that's equally bizarre. They were pushing the envelope, they were just doing it in a way that people liked.

Oh, and it's sexy. Every song they ever did is deliciously, moistly sexy. If you wanna get lucky, put on Duran Duran. Seriously. "Notorious" maybe. Its just as sexy as "Avalon" by Roxy Music, and you will get some, if your moves are right.

This is all by way of saying that I've been relistening to their new album "Red Carpet Massacre" thanks to Superbadfriend, who posted the other day about feeling guilty over initially being turned off by the seemingly gratutious/pop-grab Timbaland/Timberlake presence and dismissing the record as being very not Duran Duran-ish. Which is essentially true -- it bears almost no resemblance, sonically, to the band on "Rio." That said: the band on "Notorious" and "Big Thing" and "Medazzaland" doesn't either, and that's because Duran Duran have always been about taking What's Going On Radio-Wise and filtering it through their British Stylish Sensibility and making awesome club-hits out of it.

It sure ain't a perfect record (their last, "Astronaut," almost was, though -- if you didn't get it, do) but it has a lot to love on second, third and fourth listens. Its chock-a-block with Timbaland's beat-boxy stuff and odd production tricks and it almost sounds like the band ain't there, but if you look closely, they sure as hell are. There's no question that's Nick adding synth stabs and washes, and John Taylor's plucky bass pops up all over the thing, it could be nobody else. And once you get used to the modernist sound, the songs start jumping out at you. "The Valley"'s rumbling bass and pulsing synths roil into a nice boil, while "Nite Runner" brings even more sexy back than Timberlake's capable of on his own. I even dig the nasty "Skin Dive," despite Timbaland's weird Cartmanesque "wicky-scratch" asides. I might like "Dirty Great Monster" best, though, it comes damn close to soul with a propulsive saxophone line.

I always stick up for the band against its detractors, occasionally coming to verbal blows -- and I think they're worth it, because I'm not sure there's a band in the history of pop music that's as divisively loved/loathed by their fans/enemies. And the ones who do love 'em frequently love 'em for the wrong reasons -- either as a pin-up group they loved as teenagers or as nostalgia, like Flock of Seagulls or something, who evoke a particular time/place. But Duran aren't boxed in as easily as that -- they keep growing, changing, scaring people, alienating others, and to me, that's a sure sign of real artists.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Pessimists' Review: Sex And The City

Welcome to a new feature of Hatesexy, The Pessimists' Review, in which two people kicked in the balls by love review a delightful rom-com and savage it anally like the bitch it is.

Jonny: to start with, I quite enjoyed it. That said: HOLY SHIT, are you KIDDING me??

Trixi: I enjoyed my reunion with the girls, 5 years after Mr. Big (what kind of asshole refers to himself as Mr. Big? Is It over compensating, like when a small dicked man buys a Hummer?) went to Carrie with his delcaration of 'You're the one'. Yes, she's 'the one', yet 5 years have passed and Mr. *snicker* Big has yet to pony up a ring.

Jonny: We're supposed to love Mr. Big, who has less emotion than fucking HAL from 2001? This is somehow the dream romance everybody hopes for? His marriage proposal sounded like a Japanese businessman proposing a multinational transaction over sake and strippers, and the filmmakers expect us to get all gooey and gushy? Instead, I just got pissed off that Carrie was so stupid she bought it. But that's just the start of this film's problems.

Trixi: Now, I was an Aiden girl, so many may say that my opinion is clouded by that. I have to argue though (and here be spoilers kids), this whole idea of this man lying and abandoning you in the most glaringly public way, then being forgiven all his tresspasses because he appeals to your most shallow and vapid personality characteristics by proposing to you with a bejeweled Manolo Blahnik makes me quake in my Target kicks. I suppose they deserve eachother, but this whole idea of a man treating you like a mindless kitten that he occasionally beats, then MARRYING HIM anyway?!? I repeat --- "?!?"

Jonny: There was a point in the middle of the film where I said to myself: Now this is finally going the way it should. (More spoilers!) Miranda had ditched Steve (whom I've always loathed -- mostly because of how he pronounces "Mi-wan-der") after he cheated on her (offscreen -- we never even found out with whom!) and Carrie had gotten over Big, gotten a new assistant, dyed her hair brown and had finally become a likeable, independent character. I was like: YES. That's what you should do, kids. Self respect. It's all about self respect. And then they go and ruin it completely.

Trixi: Notice - when Carrie loses her senses, her hair turns blond. What are we saying here? The relationship that makes the most sense in the whole film is that of the lesbian and her beard husband (Miwanda and Shteve), only becuase they did the one thing that every single one of these characters should do...GET THERAPY! And, well our favorite Jewish Princess Charlotte was the highlight of the film, but her husband wasn't in it enough for us to get a true gauge of their relationship...i sense some future Soon-Yi possibilities in their future.

Jonny: Man, you are bitter! I personally feel gypped that the only titties we get to see are Miranda's -- and, well, Samantha's, under some sushi. We do get some decent uncut cock, for you fans of Euro-weiner. But by that point in the film your penis will have shriveled up and retreated back into your body cavity thanks to seeing STEVE'S NAKED ASS WHILE HE'S THRUSTING INTO MIRANDA, so you'll spend the entire time wishing for some eye-bleach.

Trixi: Message of the film - Marry the noncommital asshole that treats you like shit. I am anxious for Sex And The City II, when Mr. Big compensates for his failing libdo by trying to score more squirrel, Miranda finally fucks the shit out of a brokenhearted Charlotte, Samantha breaks a hip, and Carrie is finally instutionalized.

Jonny: If the last twenty minutes of the film had featured all four of the girls realizing that they didn't need a man, and the only ones they could count on was each other, and the film had ended with all of 'em single and independent and relatively sane, I would have been in. Alas, I'm afraid I have to give this one a thumbs-down. Oh, and don't even get me started on the old trope of the earthy Urban girl from small-town America teaching Carrie a thing or two about love (not enough about love that she gets to hang out with or even meet the other girls, though).

Trixi: A delightful romp and must see film of the Summer!