Friday, March 31, 2006

Cover songs known to have been played by Van Halen prior to the release of their first album:

30 Days in the Hole (Humble Pie) * Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers (ZZ Top) * Brown Sugar (Rolling Stones) * Can't Get Enough (Bad Company) * Catch Your Train (Scorpions) * Don't Call Us, We'll Call You (Sugarloaf) * Drive My Car (Beatles) * Eighteen (Alice Cooper) * Firehouse (KISS) * The Fool In Me (Robin Trower) * Francine (ZZ Top) * Funk #49 (James Gang) * Get Down Tonight (KC & the Sunshine band) * Goin' Home (Ten Years After) * The Grind (Tommy Bolin) * Gudbuy T' Jane (Slade) * Hallelujah (Deep Purple) * Hideaway (Cream) * Houses of the Holy (Led Zeppelin) * Ice Cream Man (John Brim) * If You Can't Rock Me (Rolling Stones) * In For the Kill (Budgie) * It's Your Thing (Isley Brothers) * Jean Genie (David Bowie) * Keep Playing That Rock and Roll (Johnny Winter) * La Grange (ZZ Top) * Last Child (Aerosmith) * Live For the Music (Bad Company) * Make It Last (Montrose) * Man on the Silver Mountain (Rainbow) * Maybe I'm a Leo (Deep Purple) * Might Just Take Your Life (Deep Purple) * Nobody's Fault But Mine (Edgar Winter) * The Overture (The Who) * Rock and Roll All Nite (KISS) * Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo (Rick Derringer) * The Rover (Led Zeppelin) * Slow Ride (Foghat) * Sitting on Top of the World (Cream) * Speedy's Coming (Scorpions) * Spoonful (Cream) * Still Alive and Well (Rick Derringer) * Stone Cold Sober Again (Queen) * Summertime Blues (Eddie Cochran) * Superstition (Stevie Wonder) * Suzy Q (Creedence Clearwater Revival) * Sweet Emotion (Aerosmith) * Toad (Cream) * Trampled Under Foot (Led Zeppelin) * Tush (ZZ Top) * Twist and Shout (Isley Brothers) * Waitin' For the Bus (ZZ Top) * Walk Away (James Gang) * Walk This Way (Aerosmith) * War Pigs (Black Sabbath) * We All Had A Real Good Time (Edgar Winter) * Where Have All The Good Times Gone!! (The Kinks) * You Really Got Me (The Kinks) * Young and Wild (Venus and the Razorblades) * You're No Good (Linda Ronstadt)

1. They really liked ZZ Top.
2. I would love to hear Van Halen's version of "Get Down Tonight."
3. Venus and the Razorblades!?!?!?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

On Libertarianism

Socialism is an infantile philosophy. It plays to the desire to not only have the state take care of you, but to hand over all responsibility for one's own life, all decisions, all individuality to the collective state.

Libertarianism is, by contrast, an adolescent philosophy. It works on the adolescent urge to break from society, declare one's own individuality, and insist that nothing outside of yourself is your problem. Anyone who has been around self-involved teenagers can recognize these characteristics imediately. The motto of the Libertarian Party should be "Fuck You, Dad! You Can't Tell Me What To Do!" Preferably, it should be printed on a seal patterned after the cover of Rush's 2112.

Somewhere in between infantile dependency and adolescent rebellion, there is an adult worldview that is capable of seeing beyond the black and white of these immature philosophies.

I am not a socialist. I am a capitalist. I believe in the capitalist system. It's a great system, it works well, it encourages achievement among it's members. I believe in the free market, I believe in entrepeneurship. The problem is that the right has exherted such a strong pull (and the left given so little resistance) in recent decades, that they have actually managed to move the center far to the right, and the language with it, so that we use the term socialism to refer to capitalism with reasonable government oversight, regulation, and social programs, and capitalism to refer to an absolutist, laissez-faire form of capitalism, a sort of religous adherence to the forces of the free markets.

America will never be a socialist country. Libertarianism is so ingrained in the American character that I cannot imagine an America that even resembles the socialist democracies of Europe. But that doesn't mean we have to invest the government with a superstitious fear, and believe that any use of the government for the good of the people is dangerous.

I believe in the individual. I'd even go so far as to say that I believe in placing the rights of the individual over the collective good of society. What I don't believe is that the rights of the individual are the ONLY thing worthy of consideration. Balance.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Jim's Burgers Update

News on the Jim's Burgers location: according to the L.A. Times, there will be a new place opening there, called Oinkster, which I guess takes the ironic Fred 62/Swingers concept from coffee shop to burger stand. "Expected to open in late April or early May, the Oinkster will serve up what Guerrero is calling "slow fast food" including pastrami made from scratch, rotisserie chicken, Belgian-style fries with homemade dipping sauces, and shakes made with Fosselman's ice cream. It will also serve beer and wine." Yeah, that's what everyone wants--a place that charges $15 bucks for burgers and fries, and you can get a bottle of Chateu du Blobbity Bleau with your pastrami. I mean, it sounds like fun, but doesn't it kind of defeat much of the appeal of street chow? But I'm sure those twits you see hanging around the trendy joints on The Strip wearing expensive designer suits over Foghat t-shirts will be happy to shell out for it.

How's this for a month of movies: The American Cinematheque has Film Noir, Italian Giallo and Swedish Erotica, all in the month of April. Overload! They're showing Thriller: A Cruel Picture (aka They Call Me One-Eye) in the Swedish program, with the star in person! It's supposed to be one of the major influences on Kill Bill (along with Lady Snowblood), but it's also said to have extremely disturbing rape scenes, so I'm not sure whether I want to be trapped in the theater with it. Mostly, it's the Noir stuff that has me drooling.

Sought-after (at least by me) albums posted about the web: Dean Elliot's Zounds! What Sounds! is here, The GTO's Permanent Damage is here, the third Blue Cheer album is here (although it's not that good--Guitarists Randy Holden's solo album is better), and Parliament's in-and-out-of-print Rheunium is here.

Putting that Blogger technology to good use: I Was A Teenage Gluesniffer - scans of 80's punk zines!
Shaukasten - classic exploitation flick posters!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Good Stuff

From The Fake Life:

A Scanner Darkly
The Black Dahlia
This Film is not yet Rated
American Hardcore
Masters of Horror, Season 2
The Host
Next: A Primer on Urban Painting
Pan's Labyrinth

The Digital Underground:
Tribulation 99/Peepshow
The Films of Kenneth Anger, Vol. 1

What's Left?:
The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse
Ace in the Hole
Going Ape!
Song of the South and "The Censored Eleven"
Get Crazy!

Geek Pin-up of the Week: Pam Grier
The Black Dahlia: The Bus Tour
Top 15 DVD's of 2006
Summer Reading: Oxford American
Dance! Dance!
Watch It, Man!
Top 10 (OK, 4) Endings to Spike Lee Movies
The End of Cinema as We Know It

From Psychedelicatessen:

Video Archives:
The Drunken Hero
The Chlorinator
The Psychedelicatessen - Monster Song (Live, 1991)
The Wild World of Hasil "Haze" Adkins
The Rhythm Masters
Perez Prado
Johnny Cash Meest "Bob" Dobbs
Chris Rock vs. Stephen Wright (on Headliner Magazine)
The Happening (1967)

Movie/DVD Reviews:
Sin City (Robert Rodriguez, 2005)
Cartoons That Time Forgot: The Ub Iwerks Collection, Vol. 2
Fritz the Cat (Ralph Bakshi, 1972)/Heavy Traffic (Ralph Bakshi, 1973)
Godzilla: Final Wars (Ryuhei Kitamura, 2005) (plus my Top 5 Godzilla Movies)
Danger: Diabolik (Mario Bava, 1968)
Star Wars Ramblings
Land of the Dead (George Romero, 2005)
1776 (Peter Hunt, 1972)
The Brothers Grimm (Terry Gilliam, 2005)
Forty Guns (Sam Fuller, 1957)
Munchausen (Joseph Von Baky, 1943)
Serenity (Joss Whedon, 2005)
Batman Begins (Christopher Nolan, 2005)
King Kong (John Guillermin, 1976)
King Kong (Peter Jackson, 2005)
Myra Breckenridge (Michael Sarne, 1970)
A Scanner Darkly (Richard Linklatter, 2006)
Lady Vengeance (Park Chan-Wook, 2005)
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (Russ Meyer, 1970)
The Killers (Robert Siodmak, 1946/Don Siegel, 1964)
Snake in the Monkey's Shadow/8 Diagram Pole Fighter
Grindhouse (Tarantino/Rodriguez, 2006)
Tideland (Terry Gilliam, 2006)
Dreamgirls (Bill Condon, 2006)
Inland Empire (David Lynch, 2006)
Hairspray (2007)
Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson, 2007)
Horror Movie Roundup (Halloween, 2007)
Girl 27 (David Stenn, 2007)
Killer of Sheep (Charles Barnett, 1977)
A bit on Ratatouille
Hollywood Boulevard (Joe Dante/Alan Arkush, 1976)
Blast of Silence (Allen Baron, 1961)
Shine a Light (Martin Scorsese, 2008)

DVD Screencaps:
Danger: Diabolik
Nightmare Alley
Book Revue
Naked Lunch
Citizen Kane
So Wrong They're Right
Flash Gordon - Space Soldiers

Shared Music:

Hillbilly Frankenstein - Hypnotica
Cyril Jackson - Afro Drums
The Voodoo Idols - Temptation
Bottoms Up! for Swingers
The "Wyatt Tape"

Punk (or otherwise) Single of the Week:
The Zany Guys
Peace Corpse
We Can't Help It If We're From Florida
Raymond McCollister,
The Residents
Jerry Reed
Victor Lundberg
Curtis Mayfield
The Beastie Boys
PeeWee Herman
The Circle Jerks
Morbid Opera.

Stumpin' in the Crates:
Lester Maddox
Everett McKinney Dirksen
Sam Erwin
Jimmy Swaggart vs. The Kennedys

Random Music Stuff:
Gay Cowboys in Bondage
James "Blood" Ulmer and Ohio Players
Spike Jones
The Fiery Furnaces - EP
Punk: Attitude (documentary)
The Best of Louie Louie, Vol. 2
The Raymond Scott Orchestrette - Pushbutton Parfait
A Dave Marsh Quote
Oxford American (Fall Southern Music Issue)
No Direction Home (Bob Dylan documentary)
History Loops
Family Favorites
Summertime Albums
20 Years of License to Ill
30 Years of Ramones on Vinyl
50 Years of Louie Louie
10 Years of Experiencing Hendrix
America: Why I Love Her
Pop Songs
Beck - "Earthquake Weather"
Os Mutates and Syd Barrett
The Fade-Out
F - Four from '84
Redd Kross at The Echoplex
Best of 2007
Let's Active - Afoot
The Dictators Go Girl Crazy!
V/A - Lagos Jump
Fiery Furnaces Muxtape
Witchfinder General
Mungo Jerry
The Fugs
King Khan
"Salvation Symphony"
Whistler and his Jug Band
Musical Miscegenation
White Witch
Lux Interior, RIP
Fisking Dumb Music Writing
Rance Allen Group

Book Reviews:
A Whore Just Like The Rest: The Music Writings of Richard Meltzer (also here and here)
The Invisibles, by Bernhardt J. Hurwood
A quote from Central Avenue Sounds
Can't Stop Won't Stop: The History of the Hip-Hop Generation, by Jeff Chang
Louie Loiue by Dave Marsh (also here)
Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk (also here)
Country: The Twisted Roots of Rock n Roll/The Southern Belly

Drug Stories:
Vol. 1
Vol. 2

L.A., Food, Photography, and random stuff:
Museum of Jurassic Technology
Cuban Sandwiches
Ode to a Cheeseburger
Some Photos
Halloween Photos
Richard Pryor
Jim's Burgers
Stately Wayne Manor
View from my Back Yard
My Patio
Top 10 Trader Joe's Items
Good Eats 1
Good Eats 2
Safari Room
Los 5 Puntos
Questionable L.A. History
The General Lee
Too Much Information
The Aftermath
10 Years of Slayage
It's True
Outlaw Food in L.A.
Thai Movie Posters
Letters to the Editor (the Thor controversy!)
RIP Rudy Ray Moore
Mayfair Memories

Movie Quizes (courtesy of Sergio Leone & the Infield Fly Rule):
Professor Kelp
Professor Van Helsing
Professor Brainerd
Professor Potts
Professor O'Blivion
Professor Peabody

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Why The Democrats Suck

I loved George Clooney's acceptance speach at the Oscars, the whole "yeah, Hollywood is out of touch with America, and I'm PROUD of it!" bit. I mean, yeah, you can question whether his assesment of progressive Hollywood was factually correct, but I like the sentiment. It's the first time in a long, long time that I've seen a public figure stand up and say "I'm liberal, and I'm proud of that fact." I wish our Democratic politicians would say something like that, and I guess I hope that by having an actor say it, the seeds are planted for the dream to become reality.

It's hard to be very optimistic about the Democrats. Here we are, a year and a half out from November '04, and it doesn't look like they've learned any lessons. The primary lesson being that Americans won't vote for someone who is too much of a pussy to stand up and say exactly what they believe. See, I think Kerry misinterpreted that huge block of undecided voters. He saw those numbers, and thought "Bush is fucking things up so badly, if I just don't say anything to offend those undecideds, I'll win." What I believe was actually happening was that those people were really hating Bush, and were saying to Kerry, "just give us a reason to vote for you. Just spell out what you're going to do, and we'll go with you." Which, of course, he never did, leaving the Democrats to skulk like the nerdy nice guy who can't understand why the girls all go for the overconfident jerks.

Right now is a golden opportunity for the Democaratic Party. Bushism is dead. But if they can't present a decent alternative, then Bushism will just be replaced by Reaganism.

See, the problems with the Democrats all go back to 1980, when Reagan bitch-slapped them good, and made "liberal" a dirty word, and the Democrats seem to have bought into Reagan's bullshit as much as anyone. 25 years ago, Reagan laid out his philosophy in "The government is not the answer to our problems. The government IS the problem," and the Democrats STILL haven't answered him. And until they do, they're going to keep losing elections, because they're still running on "higher taxes, more government interference." That's what liberalism means, AS DEFINED BY RONALD REAGAN. And until they offer their own definition, that's what it means to America.

So this is what I want to hear a Democrat say:

When you drink a glass of water, you don't have to wonder whether it has toxic levels of pollutants in it. When you buy food at the supermarket, you know exactly what it contains. You know the car you drive is up to certain safety standards. You know the buildings you live and work in are up to code. You know that if your boss tells you to come in on the weekend to get some stuff done, he'll have to pay you time and a half. You know that if you get laid off, you'll have an unemployment check to at least keep your family from starving or getting evicted until you can get a new job. You don't have to worry about any of these things. Why? BECAUSE LIBERALS SPENT THE LAST 100 YEARS FIGHTING TOOTH AND NAIL AGAINST CONSERVATIVES TO MAKE IT SO.

That's what "big government" means. People hear the words "big government" and they have a negative reaction, but they're not reacting to that sort of thing. They're reacting to the idea of the government wiretapping their phone, or trying to tell them whom they can and cannot marry--the kind of stuff the Republicans are in favor of!

But I don't see anyone in congress right now saying that kind of thing (God, I would be so happy if Kerry, Hilary, Lieberman and the rest of those useless fucks got voted out in the Democratic primary next year!). I suppose there's Barrak Obama, but he's too green to run in '08. Probably better to look at the Governors for our pool, but I don't see much happening there, either. If only RFK, Jr. didn't have that fucked up voice! But I know Americans would vote against him just so they wouldn't have to listen to that shit for 4 years.

The possibility I like: bring back Gary Hart! The guy's an outspoken liberal, tough on national defense, was trying to do something about terrorism long before 9/11, and got sidelined because of a sex scandal that seemed like a big deal in '88, but is hardly worth mentioning post-Clinton. Hart in '08: All Is Forgiven!

And if not, there's always George Clooney. It worked for the Republicans.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Helen Thomas: American Badass

This is the question she asked Bush at this morning's press conference:

Your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime. Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is: Why did you really want to go to war? From the moment you stepped into the White House, your Cabinet officers, former Cabinet officers, intelligence people and so forth -- but what's your real reason? You have said it wasn't oil, the quest for oil. It hasn't been Israel or anything else. What was it?

Monday, March 20, 2006

Family Favorites

I've been exchanging emails with one of my old friends from high school, Bob. Bob owns a record store, record label and distribution house out of Tampa, Fla., and has taken on the task of documenting the history of the Florida punk scene. And we got to talking about a mix tape.

When we started hanging out, I was a sophomore and Bob a freshman in high school. I was, at the time, mostly into heavy metal and 60's rock (Pink Floyd, Hendrix, The that time I might have even started getting into The Velvet Underground and Patti Smith). I had listened some punk (specifically, I had heard albums by the Sex Pistols, Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Adolescents, Really Red, and the Let Them Eat Jellybeans compilation), and liked it OK (I particularly loved the vicious guitar sound on Black Flag's Damaged LP), but I didn't really "get" it--it just sounded like metal being made by really shitty, ameteurish musicians. Then one day, Bob comes in with a tape he got from his sister's boyfriend (actually, as Bob explained in an email "The guy who gave me that tape was not even THAT into punk! Someone gave HIM the tape and then he gave it to me.") with the words "Family Favorites" written on it. It was a mix of hardcore punk, and some of it was even from those albums I had heard, but somehow this mix put it all into context, and it "clicked" with me. I understood what these guys were getting at. They weren't trying and failing to play metal, they were on to something different, more basic, more in keeping with the original spirit of rock n roll, and with a smart-ass adolescent attitude.

Bob and I were trying to reconstruct from memory what was on that tape. I'm pretty sure we remembered all the tracks, although I'm not certain about the order, especially since I made my own version when I copied the tape off of Bob, leaving off some of the songs that didn't impress me on first listen (I actually left The Minutemen track off!). I know the stuff at the beginning and end of each side, and I can place certain songs together because I know they came from certain compilation LPs (Rodney on the ROQ, Let Them Eat Jellybeans, Rat Music for Rat People) or can remember certain transitions, but some of it is just guess work. At any rate, here's my attempt to reconstruct The Tape That Changed My Life:

Side 1:
Iggy Pop - Girls
Dead Kennedys - Terminal Preppie
Minutemen - Search
Agent Orange - Mr. Moto
Circle Jerks - World Up My Ass
Buzzcocks - Orgasm Addict
Exploited - Army Life Is Killin' Me
Sick Pleasure - Herpes Simplex 2
Iggy Pop - I'm Bored
DOA - America the Beautiful (intro)
DOA - You're Fucked Up, Ronnie
Circle Jerks - Live Fast, Die Young
Dead Kennedys - Forward to Death
Dead Kennedys - Let's Lynch the Landlord
Really Red - Teaching You The Fear
Circle Jerks - Murder the Disturbed
Circle Jerks - Letterbomb
The Freeze - Idiots at Happy Hour
The Freeze - Only Alcohol
Gun Club - Sex Beat
Gun Club - She's Like Heroin To Me
The Clash - Brand New Cadillac

Side 2:
Dead Kennedys - Too Drunk To Fuck
Dead Kennedys - We Got A Bigger Problem Now
Meat Men - Mr. Tapeworm (intro)
Meat Men - Toolin' For Anus
Meat Men - Dumping Ground
Flipper - Ha Ha Ha
Bad Brains - Pay to Cum
Feederz - Jesus Entering From The Rear
Subhumans - Slave to my Dick
Rat Cafeteria - Kill
Rat Cafeteria - Tax Revolt
Crass - Banned From the Roxy
Iggy Pop - 5'1"
Gonads - I Lost My Love to the UK Subs
Roach Motel - Shut Up
Roach Motel - Border Patrol
The Conservatives - I'm Nervous
Really Red - I Was A Teenage Fuck Up
Angry Samoans - Lights Out
Circle Jerks - Coup D'Etat
Circle Jerks - Golden Shower of Hits
Dead Kennedys - Holiday in Cambodia
DOA - Let's Fuck
MIA - I Hate Hippies
Dead Kennedys - Plastic Surgery Disasters outro

In retrospect, I can kinda see how this worked on me. It's heavy on adolescent humor, and there's several songs on there that sound stupid to me now, but that I thought were hilaroius at the time. There's also a heavy dose of pissed-off-at-something-but-not-sure-what, which I was definitely feeling: "I got the world up my ass," "I don't need this fuckin' world," "I'm bored," etc.

I should also mention that Roach Motel and Rat Cafeteria were local florida bands (well, I believe both were from Tampa, on the opposite coast, but local-ish). The Rat Cafeteria tracks came from the 7" compilation We Can't Help It If We're From Florida.

EDIT: I was wrong about that, Roach Motel were from Gainesville. I've added a few mp3's to the post. Some of them are from my collection, some Bob gave me, and some came from 7" Punk and Something I Learned Today.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Spittin' Wicked Randomness, Vol. 9

I sometimes have to resist the temptation to just fill this blog with links to stuff on the other blogs on my sidebar. Here's something great that Cartoon Brew linked to: Jot. Fantastic Christian cartoons that look painfully familiar. I can't recall actually seeing these, but whomever did these probably did a lot of work in the 70's on commercials, Sesame Street, and such. At any rate, you're encouraged to watch.

Slater's blog is fucking hilarious. I especially like his post on dual dialogue.

And this is a fascinating blog: "A forum for Pixar and Disney professionals passionate about the Disney Theme Parks to catalog past Imagineering missteps and offer tenable practical solutions in hopes that a new wave of creative management at Imagineering can restore some of the wonder and magic that's been missing from the parks for decades."

A BBC interview with Alan Moore that makes me hate American TV. It's not so much the subject matter--I could conceivably see 60 minutes, say, doing a piece on Moore--it's the production values. Nothing on U.S. TV would ever look like that!

There's so much good Frank Zappa stuff up on YouTube that I don't even know where to start: Jamming with John Belushi on The Purple Lagoon on SNL, a young man playing a bicycle on the Steve Allen show, an old man telling John Lofton to "Kiss my ass" on Crossfire, insane claymation for City of Tiny Lights and Inca Roads, a guitar showdown between Frank and Steve Vai...and every time I check, there's something new!

And here's a great NPR piece interpreting Allan Sherman through the lense of Jewish-American assimilation.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

View From My Back Yard

This didn't turn out as well as I'd like. The cloud was really bright salmon-pink, and the moon ends up looking small and insignifigant in the photo. Still, a distinctly Floridian scene in L.A.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Reminder to Self

Remember to set the VCR to tape The Crack Up off TCM tonight.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Naked Lunch (1991)

Some images from David Cronenberg's film of Naked Lunch. I checked the Criterion DVD out of the library last week. This is Cronenberg's masterpiece. Somehow, this is one of those combinations of two different artists' visions that mesh perfectly.

Man, Judy Davis is so amazing in this film, especially in the early part of the film playing Joan. That intense, sexual look on her face--it's like if you took Femme Fatale and boiled it down to this viscous concentrate of predatory sexuality.

I love this color palette.

Listening to Cronenberg speak on the commentary is interesting. He's kind of exactly like you'd think he'd be. If you've ever heard or read an interview with Russ Meyer, he keeps using words like "Huge," "Colossal," "Gargantuan," and so on, pretty much as you'd expect, and in a similar way it's not surprising to hear Cronenberg use words like "tactile," "sensuous," "viscous" frequently.

There's also a great documentary, with plenty of footage of Burroughs. It mentions several failed or abandoned attempts to adapt the book. Frank Zappa, in the early 80's, apparantly wanted to make an Off-Broadway musical of Naked Lunch! I would love to have seen that. I guess that idea sort of morphed into ThingFish.

The first time I saw this movie was a strange experience, as my friends Dane and Jay had come in from out of town to hang out. Well, they were sort of friends, one of whom (Dane) I knew from college, and his friend Jay whom he brought along. Dane was dating my friend and nextdoor neighbor Tanya. These guys were very rowdy skinheads who drank to excess, listened to Napalm Death and Carcass at loud volumes constantly, and basically acted like hooligans. Somehow I ended up bringing them to a cookout at a coworker's house, and Jay, already drunk in the afternoon, climbed up a phone pole in the backyard. Then we went downtown to the bars, spent all night drinking, and went to a midnight movie at the Tate Center. By this time Jay was beyond drunk, and he threw some kind of drunken fit in the lobby. Dane, my wife, and Tanya spent most of the running time in the lobby trying to talk him down, and I was sort of in-and-out (hey, I felt for the guy, but since I was the one who wanted to see this, I felt minimal guilt about ducking out of the drama to see the film). Finally, about 15 minutes before the end, they got him to calm down, come into the theater and take a seat. Can you guess what happened next? Yep, the movie ends, Jay is sound asleep, head tilted back, snoring, and he just ain't gonna wake up. So we ended up carrying him back to the car. I would say "what a nightmare," but it's hard to use that word for a situation like this after watching Naked Lunch.

I started out this month reading The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon. Excellent book, but I zipped right through it. I was expecting it to be much more of a difficult read than it was. Possibly it has a tougher reputation through association with Gravity's Rainbow, or possibly nothing seems very difficult when compared to Finnegan's Wake (which, by the way, I should be through Book I, Chapter 7 by the end of the month). At any rate, I was done with the book earlier than expected, and had to come up with something else to read, and after watching the movie, I thought maybe I should give Naked Lunch another try. I first tried to read it back in high school, but I loaned the copy to my friend Dan and never got it back (although I doubt that I would have finnished it anyway). I tried again around the time I moved out here, in '96 or '97, but couldn't quite get through then either.

When I picked the book up, I was happy to discover that I had left the bookmark in it from last time, and I only had about 60 pages to go! So in a few days, I will be able to honestly say that I finished Naked Lunch. I can see why I gave up on it, though--it's not so much the disjointed narrative as just the general unpleasantness. It's an icky book, even compared to the movie.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Great Men Gone

Back in high school, I was hanging out with my friend Jason, and I guess we were talking about The Dr. Demento Show, and he told me that he had something like a dozen episodes that he had taped off the radio. Going through those tapes was a great experience. There were so many strange, bizzarre recordings, some of which barely even seemed like comedy (a weird synth-reggae song called "Duck Butter," for instance). Probably my favorite track on the whole thing was a little tune called "I Got No Common Sense," by Ivor Cutler. It was one of the looniest songs I ever heard. I never learned any more about Ivor Cutler, and never came across any of his albums, although I did finally acquire that song through Napster back in the early 00's.

So this morning, Locust St. posted news that Ivor Cutler has passed away. Funny how you are able to learn so much more about obscure musicians when there's an obituary to be written. I didn't even realize that he played the busdriver in Magical Mystery Tour! Also, can anybody British explain this Joycean sentence from the obit?: "The bicycle was his preferred mode of transport, its cow-horn handlebars in the sit-up-and-beg position in line with his Alexander technique practice." That's a head-scratcher on par with "Other residents regard the inspector's skepticism with the strict rule of no wife, no horse, no moustache, always anger and derision."

Ivor Cutler - I Got No Common Sense (mp3)

And then (well, it's a backwards then), returning to work on my lunch hour yesterday, I was listening to The World (scroll down to find the story), and they were doing a piece on the great Malian blues guitarist Ali Farka Toure, and they kept referring to him in the past tense. Turns out he's gone too. I won't pretend I can do a decent tribute to the man--try Benn Loxo Du Tuco. But I will say that the man made beautiful music. He's featured in Scorsese's own chapter of the PBS Blues series.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Oscars: Placing My Bets

First of all, how cool is it that Jon Stewart is hosting the Oscars? I really hope that they just rotate Jon, Chris Rock and Steve Martin for the next 10 or 15 years.

So I organized an Oscar Pool at work, just to make the show a little more interesting, and maybe give me something to root for in the less-cared-about categories. We decided to get it down to 12 categories that people could vote on who don't have too much knowledge: Picture, director, the acting and writing awards, song, costumes, and foreign and animated features.

I split a bit between selections that I think will win and selections that I'm going to be rooting for anyway. I don't care that much about the money, which won't be much, I'm just trying to enhance my experience. I kinda wish I'd seen more of the movies. I particularly meant to have seen Brokeback Mountain by now, but things have just been so busy. I managed to watch Walk the Line last night, and I'll see Junebug tonight. I haven't watched March of the Penguins, probably because I heard that a baby penguin dies, and I'm not sure I can take it. Anyway, here's who I'm rooting for:

Best Picture: Brokeback Mountain. Barring Return of the King, this is probably the biggest lock in recent years for Best Picture, maybe since Titanic. So I go with the safe bet.

Director: Ang Lee. Speilberg's already got two, so I can't see the Academy feeling any need for a director-picture split. And I thought Ang should've won for Crouching Tiger back whenever.

Actor: This is the toughest one for me. I feel really strongly about both Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Terrence Howard. PSH has basically been my favorite actor for the last 10 years, but I haven't seen Capote, and I feel really excited about Howard's work in Hustle & Flow. I believe Howard has a chance, as does Ledger. I'm placing my money on the safe bet of Hoffman, but I'll be rooting for them both.

Actress: I know Reese Witherspoon is considered the frontrunner here, but after watching Walk the Line last night, I just don't think it's an Oscar-calliber performance. So I'm betting on the underdog, Felicity Huffman. She plays a tranny, and you know how the Oscars go for that type of thing.

Supporting Actor: OK, George Clooney is probably going to win this one. He's by far the most famous nominee, and well-liked in Hollywood, and he's accomplished a lot this year, plus he uglied up for the role, which always impresses people. Then there's Giamatti, who I love to death, and who got kinda snubbed last year, so it could go to him. Or it could go to Gyllenhaal, since people seem to really love Brokeback. I'm placing another underdog bet here: Matt Dillon. He's been around forever without ever really getting his due, and folks love the idea of a not-taken-seriously actor suddenly proving himself. Plus, he plays a racist, which we all know is such a HUGE stretch for any Hollywood actor, so he gets The Brave Choice Award. But I'll be perfectly happy if Giamatti or Donnie Darko win.

Supporting Actress: I figure this is down to Amy Adams (who seems to have impressed the hell out of everyone) vs. Catherine Keener (who's "due"). I put my money on Adams.

Documentary Feature: As usual, none of my favorites nominated. I guess I wouldn't really expect The Aristocrats, but Grizzly Man should certainly have gotten a nomination. Rooting for Enron (which is fantastic) and Murderball, but we all know the Penguins are gonna take it.

Documentary Short: The Mushroom Club, just based on the title.

Live Action Short: Cashback. Again, just a catchy title.

Art Direction: If I had money on this, I might go with Memoirs of a Geisha, but since I don't, I'll be pulling for Harry Potter.

Costume Design: Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, even though I'm positive Geisha is going to win.

Animated Feature: Let me just start by saying that this category has me all kinds of happy. No Disney, no shitty CG flicks, 3 perfectly worthy nominees in a year without a Pixar film. I like all three, but Wallace & Gromit is my favorite, and I'm confident that it's a lock.

Animated Short: I really wish there were some easy way to see all these. Why aren't they posted on the internet? I'm just rooting for all of them, because I love this medium.

Sound Mixing/Sound Editing: If I had money on this, I'd pick War of the Worlds, which probably deserves to win, but since I don't, I get to root for King Kong.

Editing: I figure this will go to Crash, because it's the type of movie where you can see how editing works pretty easily. Unless it's Munich, which is the only one I haven't seen.

Makeup: Will probably go to Narnia. I really don't care.

Original Screenplay: I put my money on Crash, which I'm sure is a lock. I'm not nuts about the movie, but I don't hate it either. It's OK.

Adapted Screenplay: If I'd seen more of these, I might have an opinion. The only one I've seen is Constant Gardener, which is a good script, but I just put my money on Brokeback.

Foriegn Language Film: I was gonna go with Tsotsi, just based on Moriarty's and Beaks' praise for it, but I figure nothing's gonna beat a Palestinian film about suicide bombers in this political environment, right? So I'm betting on Paradise Now.

Cinematography: Brokeback.

Score: I dunno...

Song: As with the Animated Features, this category is making me pretty happy. These are all real, actual songs, they all seem to have something to do with the movie, and none of them are the tacked-on showtunes from the Broadway adaptations. That one from Crash is a little Enya-y, but I liked it in the film. Hooray for Dolly Parton, but I'm betting on "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp." I mean, how could you not?

Oscar Food: "BBQ" from Dante's Chicken and Ribs. I use quotes because it's not really BBQ--not smoked or anything--but it's not untasty. And they have deep fried dill pickles with chipotle mayonaise dipping sauce. Awesome! And a chance to drain down the excess liquor left over from the party two weekends ago.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Spittin' Wicked Randomness, Vol. 8

One of the most exciting bits of footage in the BBC History of Rock documentary series was some footage of The Stooges playing live c. Funhouse, apparantly on some TV show. I've been wanting so badly to see the whole thing, and now Bedazzled has it. There's actually not much more to it than what was shown, but just the fact that this exists is pretty amazing. He also has some MC5 stuff up.

My friend Jason sent me this link to a video about the legal and artistic aspects of sampling. "Sampling is like the color blue. Is the color blue creative? Well, it is if you use it creatively." (so sayeth Media Assassin Harry Allen)

Do you live in L.A.? If so, turn on your radio to 88.9. Do you hear KXLU, or do you hear some Christian station illegally muscling in on the bandwidth? If it's the latter, fill out this "Evidence Drive" form and send it in!

These guys have made a map to "public fruit" in Silverlake. Story about them on KPCC. Discover the public fruit in your neighborhood! "L.A. doesn't present itself to you. New York is all in store windows and up front. L.A.'s a pretty secretive place."

Here's a fantastic blog documenting a roadtrip down Route 66. Check out the piece on the wig wam motel! This covers a lot of places I'm hoping to visit, so it's pretty useful.