Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Hey! I'm officially an Angelean! A 5.4 on the richter scale!! It felt like being in a boat on a REALLY choppy ocean, for about ten or fifteen seconds. At first, I thought a really big truck was driving by. I hear it was much worse in other parts of town -- things falling off shelves, etc. -- but out here in Venice, it was pretty mild. Everybody's okay, BTW, for those of you who are wondering. 'Twasn't a big one. Scared the crap out of Bayswater, our fat black and white cat, but that's about it.

Eventually we'll plunge into the ocean. But not today.

Unrelated note: currently taking in the new Primal Scream record. It's...strange. I'm so used to them being so dark and dank and scary as shit that what the hell do I make of a cheerful happy 80s pop record?? There's a freakin' disco song on it that sounds like Blur from ten years ago. It's kind of baffling. I'll let you know what I eventually think of it. Right now I'm on the fence.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I Am So In Love With This Album.

You folks know how much I love Glen Campbell, right? I'll go a step further and call him the greatest American singing voice besides Elvis Presley -- there's just something about his rich, honeyed baritone that stirs something deep inside me. Most people will cop to liking his Jim Webb tunes ("Wichita Lineman," "Galveston," "By The TIme I Get To Phoenix") but I dig his entire catalog of amazing songs -- yes, INCLUDING "Rhinestone Cowboy" and "Country Boy (You Got Your Feet In LA)" which I understand even more since moving out here.

Recently, though, Glen's sort of fallen off the "cool" radar, massively. He's had a couple drunk driving episodes, and he's become a cheesy Branson, MO staple, which is never a good sign. You all saw his recent mugshot -- he don't look pretty, I'll tell ya that. That's why his new album, Meet Glen Campbell, is such a godsend in a way -- like Johnny Cash's American recordings, it seems to have reminded Glen, and hopefully the American public, why he was so god-damn cool in the first place.

The concept is pretty much the same as the American stuff, though also the same as all of Glen's 60s records -- find a batch of songs that you wouldn't normally think Glen would sing, and let him loose on interpreting the stuff. There's some really interesting song choices, which helps -- "These Days" by Nico and "Jesus" by the Velvet Underground are the coolest, and really piqued my interest -- and the producer seems to understand what people wanna hear out of a Glen Campbell song, because the sweeping strings and low-tuned guitar solos are well in effect.

But it's Glen's singing voice that makes the stuff absolutely sparkle. His version of "Sing" by Britpop group Travis actually makes me like the song, so gorgeously does he croon it. I wouldn't call his version of "These Days" *definitive* (it's hard to beat Nico, ferchrissake) but his version is definitely tear-inducing and magnificent. He sings "Jesus" like he means it, and strips back the layer of Lou Reed irony (one of my all-time favorite VU songs, btw). He tackles Paul Westerberg's heartbreaking HEARTBREAKING "Sadly Beautiful," his lament about his daughter growing up, which, as a guy with a daughter, literally made me bawl. And his pair of Tom Petty songs actually renders Petty's versions irrelevant.

You'll wonder about two songs -- his cover of "Times Like These," a song I actually loathe by the Foo Fighters, is so lovingly rendered it almost makes me forget I hate the song, but it's still such a thin melody and lyric that even wrapping it up in delightful string arrangements doesn't help its anemia. On the other hand, the overplayed "Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)" by Green Day is turned into a "Gentle On My Mind" country song, which it almost was anyway, and that version actually strikes pretty damn hard.

The album closes with a sumptuous version of "Grow Old With Me," a John Lennon song so damn heartrending I can't even listen to it in its original incarnation. Glen, I will grow old with you, even though I know you're not singing to me. If this is a predictor of how your late-period career is gonna go, I'm right there with ya. I hope everybody else is too. I really do.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


(This essay is in celebration of tomorrow night's screening of Pretty In Pink (featuring Jon Cryer!!) at the New Beverly Cinema as part of the Mondo Diablo film festival.)

When I saw Pretty In Pink for the first time, it was like the fucking scales fell off my eyes. Prior to this, I'd always assumed that the reason I couldn't score with the ladies -- like, ever -- was because I was ugly. I mean, you guys see what I look like, right? I'm not hideous. I'm smart and funny and sorta charming and I dress interestingly, what's not to like? So I just assumed I was looking at myself with over-familiar eyes and figured there must be something I wasn't seeing. Maybe girls didn't like guys with big noses. Maybe I wasn't friggin' blonde enough. Maybe I shoulda been more footbally. I dunno. Something.

But no. The reason was because I was -- and still am -- Duckie.

Its more than just a surface thing, although at the time the movie was released I fucking DRESSED just like Duckie, even before the movie came out. That was a pretty canny portrayal of New Wave Geek Circa 1986, and props to the costume person, because I was wearing that vintage jacket / bolo tie / shirt-with-the-collars-up / hat combo. And I, like Duckie, was kind of nerdy, and smart, and bitter as hell but sweet and kind and friendly and approachable. So I mean, yeah, I was Duckie in that way.

What I mean, though, is that I am always -- always, without fucking fail -- the "best friend" of the protagonist. And despite the protestations of the geeky masses, Molly Ringwald got it fucking right when she insisted the ending be changed so that Andie ended up with BLANE. Sure, every geek in America cried in agony at that moment, but can I have a what-what, fellow Duckies? Does that always happen, or what?

It was my entire high school career. I'd fall madly in love with a girl, and end up being her best buddy in the universe, and we'd hang out 24-7, but the entire time she'd swoon for some big ol' hunk. The worst example of that was a girl named Jenni Adams. Boy, did I have it for her. And you'd figure she'd have it for me, too. We had everything in common -- same musical taste, same dress sense, same artistic leanings, same sensitive demeanor. We spent every possible moment together, too. Hung out, played music, went to museums. And yet she was in love with this hunky, dreamy actor type named Tom virtually the entire time we knew each other. Broke my heart.

It didn't end there, though. It continued for the rest of my life. I could list at least ten other instances over the years when I ended up falling for someone and playing the Duckie role in their life while they fell for fucking BLANE. It never fails.

I keep trying to analyze it. There's a huge part of me that thinks its the "nice guy" vs. "bad boy" syndrome -- you know it well, folks, the notion that people fall for folks they know are ba-a-a-a-a-a-d for them because they're exciting! and thrilling! and dangerous! and the nice guy -- me, usually -- gets left in the dust because they're safe and boring and drab. I think that's part of it. There's another part of me that wonders whether there are some guys that are "GUYS' GUYS" and some guys that are "girls' guys." And girls love hanging out with girls' guys, because girls' guys are the type of dudes who get along best with girls and kind of understand the female temperament and mindset more than the typical male one, but when it comes to the primal, hormonal mating instinct they're naturally drawn more to GUYS' GUYS because, well, they are REAL MEN. And some people fight that instinct as hard as they can because they know that Andie was meant to be with Duckie but they just can't fight the allure of BLANE.

And, well, part of it is undoubtedly that people can sense desperation from folks of either sex, and it is, as they say in Super Troopers, a stinky cologne.

But no, I think its more psychological than that. Check out how Duckie woos Andie. He sings "Try A Little Tenderness." He follows her around like a puppy dog. He pumps her up when she's down. He listens to her. He talks to her. He loves her. But is Duckie romantic? Duckie is not. I mean, he is in a really non-traditional sense, I guess, but then check out BLANE. How effortless it all is for him. He just swoops in there, makes those eyes at her, looks at her smolderingly, and ups the fucking ante on the pure chemistry. I think what Duckie lacks is that. And I fear -- I fear -- that my lack of that is what has made me a lifelong Duckie. For me, that requires effort. All the Duckie stuff, the singing, the romantic empty gestures, the talking, the listening -- no problem. Its that fucking BLANE smolder I ain't got. And that is why Duckie is so fucking bitter and angry at BLANE in the movie. He knows he ain't got that, and never will, really. Poor Duckie.

(I'm editing this last graf because of something Trix suggested, and I think she's right) I think the reason my current relationship has so much hope is that I'm shifting the paradigm -- instead of going for the Andie, I've finally found the person Duckie SHOULD have been after all along, Annie Potts' character Iona (well, age difference aside, har har!). That's the one *I* was *actually* hot for when I saw the film, even though I had kind of a Ringwald fetish at the time. Iona was the cool record store clerk with the awesome clothes and the cool hair and -- well, she was actually cool. I think she wants what Duckie has to offer -- charm, wit, verve, stylishness, kindness, love, stability, belief. There's people out there who want that, and those are the people who end up with Duckie in the end.

So, y'know, fuck BLANE. Duckie's my man.

Monday, July 21, 2008

"Spaced"....The Final Frontier

The day after I saw Shaun of the Dead -- and then saw it again because it's the kind of film you need to see at least twice right away, so chock-full of awesome is it -- I headed to my local video store in Robbinsdale, Minnesota (yeah, we actually had one that wasn't a Blockbuster -- astonishing, I know!) to look for the one other thing the Creative Team Behind The Movie was responsible for at the time -- a TV series called "Spaced." I scanned the shelves in the "import DVD" section. I scanned the shelves in Comedy. In Drama. In Sci-Fi.


"Do you have 'Spaced' on DVD?" I asked the Surly Punk Teen behind the counter.

"Is that the movie with the guy from Saturday Night Live and Dave Chappelle?"

"No -- SPACED. Its from the people who did Shaun of the Dead."

"Oh -- right. Yeah, that's not on DVD yet. I don't think its ever gonna come out on DVD either, man."

And so, downtrodden, I had to let "Spaced" slide, because at the time there was no YouTube, no Torrents (well, there were but of course I'd never download anything illegally, right?) and really no way for me to get my grubby hands on the thing.

After I saw Hot Fuzz -- which I proclaimed loudly outside the theater to be the best film of the year -- I renewed my search for "Spaced." I found out it was available as an import, but of course for some stupid reason there's a formatting difference betwixt the UK and the US and I'm too stupid to figure out how to turn my DVD player into a multi-region geegaw. So, of course, there's a YouTube now, and some of the episodes are available on there, and I've managed to watch some but not all of them.

But tomorrow -- finally -- "Spaced" is coming to DVD in the US.

The reason "Spaced" is so unbelievably amazing is because of the extreme confabulation of talent working on the thing. You have director/co-writer Edgar Wright, a guy so well-versed in the history of geek-film that he manages to reference just about every movie ever made while crafting a frenetic, potently funny, action-packed style of his own. You have Simon Pegg and Jessica Hynes (nee Stevenson), unbelievably hysterical actors and brilliant co-writers who manage to imbue their characters, Tim and Daisy, with a humanity that yr. usual comedy shows can't possibly muster (Doctor Who nerds: Simon was The Editor in "The Long Game" from season 1, and Jessica was Joan in "Family of Blood" in season 3). And there's an unbelievable array of supporting talent, including the always brilliant Nick Frost, Simon's foil in Shaun and Fuzz, Julia Deakin, Katy Carmichael and others.

What's it like? Hard to describe. Imagine a US show like -- oh, say, "Seinfeld," considered a peak of American comedy, as a starting point. Now imagine it on speed, as directed by Sam Raimi during his "Army of Darkness" phase. Now up the intelligence level of the scripts by, like, twenty. Now throw in homages to action films, science fiction, video games, classic films, other television shows. And add in ten times the heart, so you actually care about the characters. And make it consistently funny. You're almost there.

Have you seen Shaun and Hot Fuzz and the trailer for Don't in Grindhouse? Did you like them? Of course you did. It's like that, only in half-hour episodes, and nobody's head is crushed by a minaret.

Head down tomorrow and pick it up. Trust me. Finally, you'll get to see what American television almost stole and raped, and why there was such a universal outcry when it almost happened, and why it didn't translate onto generic US network television worth a great goddamn, thank god.

(Note: if you guys listen to Jonesy's Jukebox on Indie 103.1 -- and yes, you can listen on the interwebs -- you can catch Edgar, Simon and Jessica at noon LA time on Thursday!)

SORRY, FOLKS! I'm back, this time for real.

Wow. The last two weeks have been BANANAS. We moved, which creates enough busy for two people, but then we ALSO had stuff to go to almost every evening of the week AND on the weekends, which meant double-triple-busy, which meant I didn't have time to update the blog, like, ever. And I'm sorry. It won't happen again, I promise.

First off: last weekend, we went (with our friends Becky and Jeremy, who rule!) to Palm Springs, which is the most mid-century-modern place in the entire universe. Had drinks at the Palmer Hotel, which looks like a cross between the sets in Down With Love, the Korova Milk Bar in Clockwork Orange, and the classic TV show The Prisoner.

That's me and Trix in our Sunshine State finery, outside at the Palmer, as shot by Becky. I don't even look fat in this one, yippee!

Then, we moved. Our new place is marvelous. Our last place was like a shoebox combined with a catbox. THIS place is HUGE, like extra-super-double huge, with two bedrooms and a dining room and such. I spent much of the weekend repairing the broken pieces of THIS astonishing furniture set:

...which, by the way, I actually accomplished. All the pieces are in good working order (well, except the coffee table, which needs a new set of legs -- next weekend!.

Also, this last Friday, we hit Diablo's awesome Mondo Diablo film festival for a showing of Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and one of Trix' top ten, Fright Night. Besides the fact that both are totally underrated and totally hilarious examples of the genre (honestly -- when's the last time you've seen either? Dream Warriors is both hysterical and totally creative and terrifying as hell, with some awesome performances), the screening featured guest appearances by Chuck Russell and Frank Darabont for Dream Warriors and Tom Holland for Fright Night, all of whom were totally gracious. Frank especially was monumentally cool, hob-nobbing with the horror geeks and taking tremendous pleasure in the film's reception. It was a helluva night.

Saturday night we went to see my homeboy Patrick's other band, The Digs, play at a place where, um, you could procure -- ahhh -- hm. I'm not sure what I can say, here. Let's just say it was a very interesting night and leave it at that. Helluva band, that.

No, I haven't seen Dark Knight yet. Okay? I haven't. I'm going to. I love Chris Nolan, I loved The Prestige even more than Batman Begins, I'm gonna see the film, I promise. Swear to god.

I promise I'll blog lots this week. I have a lotta pent-up writing energy and lots to say.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

In the meantime...

...EVERYBODY needs to watch this frickin' hysterical 50s educational film.

(Actually, this was shot and directed by my genius friend Darren Roark. The fact that it looks SO DAMN AUTHENTIC is testament to his genius.)

I'll blog soon, I promise!

Busy moving, you see. Trix and I found a lovely 2-bedroom in a neighborhood NOT blighted by crazy Russians with the night-terrors and homeless people living in abandoned furniture and the weird-ass middle-eastern hairdresser who says "Shave? Haircut? You need it!" every time I walk by his combination home/hovel/shop. In fact, its quite a lovely neighborhood. There are trees. There's a cafe. Lovely shops within walking distance. I can't wait.

I have an awesome travelblog about our trip to Palm Springs with our friends Becky and Jeremy, complete with photos AND video, so I promise promise PROMISE to put it up within the next day or so!

Friday, July 11, 2008

PS: Sighted!

At my neighborhood dive bar, the Snake Pit, last night:

Paris Hilton and Benjy Madden!

Which is weird as they are the LAST people I'd expect to see in there. But no matter.

I am still hot for Olivia Newton-John.

This clip is my way of promoting Diablo's film festival at the New Beverly Cinema, Mondo Diablo. One of the films she's showing is, of course, the fantastically awful XANADU, for which I've proclaimed my love in these very pages many, many times. Part of the reason I love XANADU is that I love ELO (who doesn't? If you don't, then we have a problem, and I'll have to make you a mix tape). Part of it is my love for 70s Silver Screen Musicals as a genre. And part of it?

OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN, one of my very first crushes as a kid. Oh, how my heart swooned for her.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Hey! Music! Old music!!

So in the Year of Our Lord 199..8? 9? 2000? I was in this band called Medication. It featured myself on guitar and mouth organ, Chris Hill and Brandon Dalida from Mercurial Rage on bass and lead guitar, respectively; Marc Iwanin on drums; Jesse Peterson on rhythm guitar; and Allison Hill on backing vocals.

And boy howdy did we sound like Oasis. No kidding. I mean, okay, sometimes we sounded like the Verve, and sometimes we sounded like Doves and sometimes we sounded like Travis, but those bands all kind of sound like Oasis anyhow and really, in the final analysis, we sounded like Oasis. A lot.

It didn't stay that way, though -- at some point about halfway through the band's run I went insane and told everybody hey, guess what, we're going country now. And I wrote a whole bunch of country songs and brought 'em to the band, and we did them and baffled the crowd and everybody said "Jon, we're not doing this fucking country stuff anymore, okay?" And so then I wrote a whole bunch of psychedelic dark shit that sounded like Brian Jonestown Massacre and it was pretty effing cool and then we broke up the band. As usual.

But this song is an artifact from when we sounded, y'know, like Oasis. Except the thing is, you can totally hear where Chris Hill and I were listening to "Echoes" by Pink Floyd a lot in the early 90s and smoking too much dope because in the middle of the song it suddenly flips into "Echoes" mode and turns into Pink Floyd before I start Liam Gallaghering it up again at the end. "Nya nya nya nya" indeed. Lordy.

But anyway, its kind of a nifty track, even though it does totally sound like Oasis. Download it here. It's from Radio K's "Off The Record" program, live in the studio.

(Oh, PS: I never wrote lyrics in those days. I just didn't. I wasn't in a terribly confessional mode -- not like now, anyway -- and anyway, all I'd have to write about was my miserable failing marriage, and at the time I didn't feel like letting anybody know I was in a miserable, failing marriage and so I just wrote gibberish, and frequently sang the same verse twice. You'd think if you were going on the radio you'd at least try to FLUFF some lyrics, and write SOMETHING to sing, but I didn't even. I sang gibberish. The same gibberish. Twice. Brilliant.)

(PSS: Going back and relistening, I was at least trying to cry for help. "I feel my life passing by, I watch my soul hit the sky, but there's nothing left to do but try, and don't look back." Even when I sing gibberish, I can't help but wear my heart on my sleeve. Sheesh.)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hey, Jealousy!

(Jesus, that title -- I'm so sorry for evoking the drab days of the early 90s for everybody, but of all the stupid jealousy-related titles I could think of, somehow this one seemed the jauntiest. Again -- please. I'm sorry.)

So, I recently found myself jealous.

I had absolutely, positively no reason to be. Trix is as solid as the earth and I know for a fact that she's crazy about me for some damn reason, even if I can't always quite fathom it (okay, okay -- it's the eyes). No, this jealousy was completely and utterly irrational, based entirely (or, well, mostly) on paranoia and fear. Seems I have some "trust issues." Seems they manifest themselves in the form of pure, unbridled jealousy.

Oh, I ain't talking about yr. normal jealousy, where you kind of pout a little until your girlfriend/boyfriend/fiancee/small furry creature from Alpha Centauri mollifies you and assures you everything's okay at which point you all go out for frosty chocolate milkshakes. Oh, no. This was the kind of jealousy where you're up for three days straight with no sleep whatsoever, smoking packs of Camels and drinking 40-ouncers to try to calm your jangled nerves because you are absolutely, positively sure that your relationship is about to come to a screaming end and there's nothing you can do about it.

Like I said: turns out I was imagining the whole thing. Which, if you know me, is typical of me (Allison Hill: NOT A WORD about the goddamn UFO's, okay? NOT A WORD!). But it, like other emotions (happy, sad, underwater), got me thinking about jealousy in general. Like: what's the fucking point?

Someone once told me that jealousy is essential to a relationship. Keeps it interesting, you see. Prevents people from taking each other for granted. If you're always on your toes and worried about whether the other person might up and leave at any minute, then yeah, I imagine it gets you working a little harder with the romance and the flowers and the hott sexx and the flaven, right?

I would like, if I may, to respectfully disagree with that notion, however, for two reasons.

1. It seems to me that jealousy has to do with trust. It seems to me that if the jealousy has gone out of your relationship it probably -- or at least possibly -- has to do with the fact that you implicitly trust the other person to such an extent that the very notion of them cheating on you or ditching you cold makes you chortle, mm HEY HEY. Conversely, it seems to me that if you're jealous of your SO, that might mean, y'know, that you don't completely trust them. Which could be totally unfounded 'cause you've got issues you gotta work through (in my case, trust issues, but I bet self esteem issues would work just as well), but it strikes me that trust is important. Isn't it?


2. Maybe jealousy keeps you on your toes, and maybe jealousy prevents you from taking the other person for granted, and maybe that makes your relationship exciting, but it's the wrong reason for those things. Its like having a baby to try to save a marriage -- bad idea jeans. That ain't real excitement, or real respect, or real non-granted-taking. All it means is that you're living in a constant state of paranoia and fear, and that's no fucking way to live, especially if it means not sleeping for days at a time and smoking too much, which, with me, it inevitably does.

I dunno -- that's not the way I wanna live, y'know? I wanna have a relationship based on trust and mutual respect and hot sex and friendship, not on jealousy. Maybe that's not exciting (y'know, the hot sex sure is!) but to me it sounds like heaven. 'Cause I have enough stress in my life day to day that I don't need the additional stress of having to worry about my relationship, which is hopefully, the one thing I can trust isn't going to go anywhere.

Which, in my case, it isn't. And for that I couldn't be happier.

Chicken Sandwich Rounds 2 and 3

Okay, just to be sure, I tried the new Southern Style Chicken Sandwich TWICE while in Minneapolis -- once for breakfast on a biscuit, and once again for dinner.

I'm still not feelin' it. Maybe my expectations are too high.

I want gravy. Next time I'll bring my own. Maybe that'll help.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Like James Brown, I'm Back!

Hatesexy folks!

Back finally after a delightful and mostly internet-free trip to Minneapolis. Spent some A-1 quality time with the kiddo, which after like a month and a half was much necessary. Drove up to Trix' folks' cabin and frolicked amongst the trees. Saw a bear. Swam -- or, well, in my case, since I *hate cold water*, floated on a floaty thing. Drank some beer. Got fat. Watched fireworks from the campus of my old college. Delightful. The only thing that sucked is that I didn't get to see -- well, anybody, really. I was so into spending every possible moment with the young 'un, I ended up blowing off far too many folks, and that sucked. I'm comin' back next month, though, I swear!

Brief summary of movies I saw this week:

Wall-E -- kind of a masterpiece. A gorgeous, cute, slightly surreal and disturbing but utterly heartwarming little film. Proof positive that dialogue isn't the be-all end-all -- the two main characters, whom, if you have any heart at all you'll fall in love with by the end of the film, basically just say their names over and over, and yet by the end of the movie their characters are enormously well-drawn and sympathetic and, well, cute. My thing now: I kind of want Pixar to make a bad film, because I just wanna see what a bad Pixar film would look like, as they haven't even remotely approached one yet.

Get Smart -- Disclaimer: I watched them film part of this on a set visit a year or so ago. Also, I ineptly flirted with Anne Hathaway, which was one of the stupidest things I've ever done -- like she'd care, right? But never mind my foolheartiness, back to the review -- Being a huge fan of the TV show, I kinda went into this one expecting a butchery. And I kinda came out of it not hating it. I mean, laugh-a-minute-wise, it ain't the funniest movie I've ever seen. But, okay, Steve Carell in anything = great, and trust me -- Alan Arkin steals the show. Having just watched the original In-Laws this last week, I gotta say I'm in an Arkin mood. I'd watch him read the phonebook. There's a lotta stupid shit, but there are moments of awesome, and I kinda like the controversial decision to make Max not a complete bumbling idiot. Final analysis: not great, doesn't suck.

The Incredible Hulk -- well, come the fuck on, you know I loved this one. I mean, I'm a well-known comic book movie apologist anyway, being one of the only people in the world that will cop to having enjoyed Fantastic Four on some level. But honestly -- this is a tremendous movie. Unlike the last Hulk, which got mired in metaphor and darkness and weird child-abuse stuff, we get plenty of HULK SMASHING SHIT which is kinda what you want out of a Hulk movie, and plenty of Bruce Banner on the run like in the TV show, and plenty of General Ross and Betty Ross and even a Tony Stark cameo. Ed Norton's great, 'nuff said. Can't wait for the Avengers movie.

I'll blog more later, but -- hello! I'm back.