Friday, June 22, 2007

I'm Sleepy

My plan for tonight was to see Inland Empire, but I ended up staying home for two interrelated reasons. One, I'm just too damn sleepy to sit through a 3-hour nonlinear narrative, and Two, we got a new puppydog!

Her name is B.B. Or BeBe. We're not sure yet. So it seemed like a good opportunity to get some work done, and update the blog. So here's what's new...

My turntable broke. Just as I was about to start ripping all my Redd Kross records. A depressing development, to be sure. I think it's just a case of the belt getting stretched out, so maybe I can just replace the $10 belt and have it working again.

The worst part of it was trying to get the thing disconnected from the stereo to work on it. It's enclosed in an entertainment center with all the wires in the back, and the turntable on a sepertate shelf above the rest of the system. I really miss the bachelor days when the stereo just sat on the floor with the wires easily accessible. The funny thing was, as I was fiddling with all the wires, I found two huge RCA cables that weren't even hooked up to anything! They were just lying loose, tangled in with all the other cables.

At the last minute, I decided not to go see this, so we could check out Janeane Garofalo and Patton Oswalt at The Troubador. Bobbie posted a review on her forum, but I'll throw my two cents in. I was really digging Janeane's comedy back in the 90's. She had a great point of view that came through in everything she said, and I loved the free-form riffing she would do, free from the tyranny of setup-punch structure. In some ways, it was a version of what Bill Hicks had done, from a more female perspective, but didn't go over as well with the angry white males of comedy for the same reason. Thing is, as much as I enjoyed her stuff, I felt like it was going somewhere, like we were witnessing potential that hadn't been fulfilled yet. And then she just kinda disapeared from the scene, and I guess ended up on Air America. Sunday night, I was hoping that I'd see the fully formed results, with a political edge that had been sharpened by her radio work. Instead, I saw her stuck in the same place, and it started to feel less like she was the Ornette Coleman of comedy, and more like...I dunno, like she just wasn't putting any effort into it. I'm a little disapointed. I still see the potential, but I feel like I've been seeing potential for too long.

My favorite of Patton's bits:

"I'm to the point now where my nerdiness is getting in the way of my geekiness. Like, when people ask me what I'd do if I had a time machine, would I go see The Beatles play at The Cavern Club in front of 40 people? would I go find out who Jack the Ripper was? Now there's just one answer: I'd go back to 1996 and BEAT GEORGE LUCAS TO DEATH WITH A SHOVEL BEFORE HE COULD MAKE THE PREQUELS!"

He went on for a good 5 minutes about the prequels, but it probably wouldn't translate well to the printed word. Ask me and I'll do it for you.

Oh yeah, and last Saturday we went rollerskating with our friends Rachel and Robin at the...Starlight or Moonlight or something like that Skating Rink in Glendale. I'm a terrible skater, but it was pretty fun. They still play mostly 70's and 80's tunes--"Double-Dutch Bus," "Kung Fu Fighting," a bunch of other stuff nobody's heard in decades. I guess they figure nobody goes to the skating rink except to be nostalgic or ironic or something. At the end of the night we were all in pain, but all in different places, which I guess proves there are a lot of ways to skate wrong.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Aftermath

"An Open Letter to my Teenage Son"

In honor of Father's Day, a very scratchty 45 purchased for 25 cents or something at a flea market. Check out the B-Side, with a twist ending that will CHILL YOU TO THE BONE!!!

Friday, June 15, 2007

40 Years of Experiencing Jimi Hendrix!

40 years ago this weekend, Jimi Hendrix returned to America to perform at the Monterey Pop Festival after having moved to England. The audience was blown away.

Amazingly, I could possibly argue that that wasn't even the best performance of the festival. Witness Ravi Shankar!

I've noticed lots of folks obvserving the 40th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which is a good album and all, definitely changed the game, but I think you kinda had to be there to believe the hype. Maybe it's the too-obvious signifiers of psychedelia, maybe it's the knowledge of all the ill-conceived rock operas, concept albums and prog rock that followed it, but Sgt. Pepper seems particularly dated 40 years later. I was born about a year after, and I think if you ask most music fans my age or younger their favorite Beatles album, you're more likely to get the later masterpieces Abbey Road or "the white album" (the sprawling ecclecticism of the white album, which most likely was seen as a weakness at the time, seems like its strength in the age of Beck) or the earlier albums Rubber Soul and Revolver, which layed the groundwork for Sgt. Pepper. I probably even like Magical Mystery Tour over Pepper. It has "I am the Walrus," and "Blue Jay Way" slays "Within You Without You."

For that matter, I kinda prefer the Stones' own Sgt. Pepper ripoff, Her Satanic Majesty Requests. Not their best work, but they bring an edge to the psychedelic stuff that keeps it from sounding too flowery. But, getting back to my point, from my vantage point, 1967 is best represented by Are You Experienced? (and The Velvet Underground & Nico, which was actually recorded in '66 but took a while to get released). Those are the albums that changed the way music sounded (for the better) forever, and they still sound as good today. After those albums, my favorites from '67 are The Mothers' Absolutely Free and Pink Floyd's Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Ya know, if you're wondering. No disrespect to "The End," "Sunshine of Your Love," "White Rabbit" or "I Can See For Miles" intended. Or Janis, or Aretha, or...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


So we're flipping through channels a few weeks ago, and we ended up watching a countdown on the Greatest Dancers of All Time on BET. The Nicholas Bros., a tapdancing duo whom I'd never heard of, were number 3 (after James Brown and Michael Jackson). This pain-inducing scene is from Stormy Weather. Unbelievable. These guys are like the Jackie Chans of dance.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Spittin' Wicked Randomness, Vol. 15

I have a new thingy up at The Fake Life. Just a fun, quicky article. Also, in case you haven't heard, Bobbie made the cover of this week's Pasadena Weekly!

Random links:

Joss Whedon rails against The Patriarchy (with charges of "womb envy")!

Amanda Marcotte reviews Alan Moore's Lost Girls!

A book to add to my wishlist!

Alice Cooper on Fresh Air!

Google Map to fine Hamburgers in L.A.!

Potentially great movie news: Tom Waits to star in the next Terry Gilliam movie!

Heated debate over the meaning of Ralph Wiggum's line "Sleep! That's where I'm a viking!" My favorite exerpt: "Yes, exactly - which is why people are arguing about this in the first place - we're used to this goddamn inexterminable cockroach of a language having umpteen layers of literal and figurative meaning. God, I love the Frankenstein's monster that is English. Sewn together out of dead languages and living ones that it kills and uses for spare parts. If the human race were exterminated, English would find a new host or wait for one to evolve. English does not sleep. It waits."

The most insane homemade geek scifi costumes EVER!

Here's one just for Bobbie: The Sweet Tea Line. Replace the arbitrary Mason-Dixon line with the more practical line of the availability of sweet tea in restaurants as an accurate representation of the line between North and South.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Raise Your Hand If You've Been Singing "Don't Stop Believin'" All Day

Going in to the last episode of The Sopranos, I wondered if Tony was about to get capped, or enter witness protection, or take over New York, or if the Russian commando was going to return, but I figured the most likely ending was none of the above. For most of the run of the show, at least starting with the third season, The Sopranos has made it a point to fuck with expectations. They keep teasing the huge mob war that's always just about to break out, but the real drama is always in these small moments. Phil lying awake in bed after killing Vito. Pauly staring at the branch blowing in the wind outside his mother's window. All these little moments that seem to mean a lot, but go unexplained and unemphasized. It's just how life is.

So I like the Breakfast of Champions "..." ending, but for the people that won't go home satisfied without some good gang war action, there was certainly enough in the last two episodes to satisfy. Bobby's big, cinematic death scene, Syl going down in a blazing gunfight, and the series' best villain getting an appropriately gruesome death. And, like all the deaths on the show, it's not neat and clean. It's not just the end of that insufferable prick. He gets shot down in front of his loving wife, and two babies almost die as collatoral damage. There's nothing honorable about the mafia.

I think that's an important point, because this myth of mafia honor has been a central part of the show from day one. We keep getting seduced by the apparant normality and likeability of Tony, then shocked when he behaves like the criminal we know him to be. Everything these guys touch, everyone they come in contact with, gets destroyed, from the gardener to the T-2000 to the low-cost housing project. And yet it's so easy to find yourself rooting for him, like the FBI guy. Dr. Melfi comes to the same conclusion in the penultimate episode that we come to when Tony kills Christopher: Tony is not just a good man stuck in a dirty job, he's a bad person. And in both cases, it's a conclusion that should have been reached long ago.

It's not just the fact that Christopher was a fan favorite who showed an almost absurd level of loyalty to Tony over the years. It's that Tony had so little to gain by killing him. Christopher had caused problems, to be sure, but he was far from an existential threat. His murder is simply a crime of opportunity, a "why not?" kind of murder. And Tony seemed to be contemplating getting rid of Pauly in Miami for little more reason than that Pauly was getting on his nerves.

So, in the end, life goes on. Even murderers enjoy time spent with their family, even as they spend the rest of their life looking over their shoulders, not knowing whether the next moment will bring a happy moment with their daughter or a hitman's bullet.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Screened Out on TCM

This would be a more interesting post, but I'm way too fucking busy, so just a heads up. Mondays and Wednesdays throughout this month, TCM is presenting Screened Out, a program of "Gay Images in Film." It starts in about 5 minutes, with an obscure silent short about an effeminite prospector, followed by a Lon Chaney horror movie. Extra web-goodies here. Gee, I wonder whether any homophobes have posted on the TCM message boards to complain about how they are being oppressed by having to be reminded that gay people live in their world?

Friday, June 01, 2007

Hillbilly Frankenstein - Hypnotica

I was going to post this on my birthday, as my present back to you (whoever you are), but things got busy. So without further delay, I give you my favorite neo-retro-garage-lounge-rockabilly album, Hypnotica!
Hillbilly Frankenstein - Hypnotica (full album)

I bought this on CD back when I lived in Athens, but I loaned it out to someone out here and never got it back. When I was back in Athens on vacation, I went to Wuxtry to look for a copy. They were out, but they also informed me that if they DID have a copy, it would have been about $50, it being so out of print and all. But they did have a cassette ($6!), so I bought that. When I started digitizing my analog music, this was the first thing on the list. This is from the first play after breaking the shrinkwrap (I was saving it). I guess it's customary to include a scan of the cover with stuff like this, but since it's a cassette, there's not much of an image, and I couldn't find one online.

Lots of great surf/rockabilly/garage rock on tunes like "Pitchin' Woo," "Forty-Rod Liquor" and a great cover of the theme from She-Devils on Wheels, "Man Eaters on Motorbikes," but there's also some swanky lounge music ("Class With a Capital K"), swing gospel ("Gravyboat") and creole ("Fatback City Junction U.S.A.," a great tune for BBQ season). The blues tune "Human Tornado" is made up of signifyin' lyrics stolen from Rudy Ray Moore! For a sample, here's one of the album's best rockers, "Pitchin' Woo."

EDIT: Some great video of the band (with a different vocalist) is linked to here.