Friday, September 28, 2007

Spittin' Wicked Randomness, Vol. XXIII

I've been pimping The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman, a hilarious TV show on IFC that nobody seems to watch besides me. The sense of humor is a little hard to explain, but it's got a little bit of Curb Your Enthusiasm, a little bit of Absolutely Fabulous, and a lot of Laura Kightlinger. Check out the DVD of the first season.

Good news: I fixed my turntable! $10 (plus shipping) for a new belt, 15 minutes of fighting with the stereo, and it's up and running!

I've done some updates on the post about my first two punk shows, including a copy of the flyer for the second show. While I was scanning that in, I decided to get this image:

This is from Fallout, a zine put out by Winston Smith (the guy that did all the Dead Kennedys album covers). It's from 1984, and printed on newsprint. I think I got it through a mail order catalogue. Lots of pre-photoshop collage art mixed with essays about how 1984 was coming true and stuff. It actually inspired me to go out and buy a copy of 1984.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

What I Been Listening To, Vol. 2

The Eat - It's Not the Eat, it's the Humidity

The Eat were a pop-punk band from Florida whose records, particularly the "Communist Radio"/"Catholic Love" 7", have become absurdly collectable over the years. By the time I got into the punk scene, they were already broken up (I remember my girlfriend's older sister was a big fan), and until recently the only song of theirs I'd heard was "I Led Two Lives", which appeared on a compilation album of Florida bands called The Land That Time Forgot (still have my copy!). This CD collects all their recorded work on one disc, and adds a second disc of live stuff.

The sound, especially on the early singles, is incredibly hyper and bouncy, with hooks galore sticking out. This stuff'll burrow into your ear and not get out. As great as "Communist Radio" is, the 5-song God Punishes the Eat single does a great job of following it up, especially on the second side, with bouncing-off-the-wall tunes "Silly Drug Songs", "Nut Cop" and "Kneecappin'" back-to-back, but I think the third release, the cassette-only Scattered Wahoo Action from 1983, is where they really hit their peak. There's still some great pogo punk like "She's Pissed Off" and "Holy Mary", and a harder punk song called "Subhuman", but there's a bit more variety. "I Led Two Lives" and "Nixon's Binoculars" have funky beats and saxophones (although the latter is too derivative of Talking Heads, it's still an insanely fun and catchy tune), while "Hey, Jackass" and "Living Like a Pig" have some very nice vocal harmonies and hooks. The newer stuff, recorded in the late 80's for an album called Hialeah that was eventually released in the mid-90's, is not quite as good, but at least you know you're not gonna get double-dipped on this. And the live stuff is fun, especially the set that begins with a cover of Zappa's "Flower Punk" with lyrics altered to include some local references ("I'm gonna be a punk all summer, then I'm going back to Georgia Tech") which then segues into "L.A. Woman."

One serious gripe, though, is with the booklet included. Whoever did layout on this thing fucked it up badly. There's not one, but two pages of liner notes repeated (and other pages clearly missing). Very unprofessional, and I hope they plan on cleaning up the mess.

The Dirty Projectors - Rise Above

If you haven't heard of this, here's the story. The guy from this band was visiting his mom, and found the empty case for his cassette of Black Flag's Damaged album. The cassette wasn't there, but the lyric sheet was. It was his favorite album in, like, 8th grade, but he couldn't remember how any of the songs went, so he went and recorded his own versions. Or, I should say, recorded his own songs using the lyrics, because they are completely removed from the Black Flag tunes.

Musically, it's as far from Black Flag as you can get, and there are some funny moments, like the lilting voices singing "This fucking city is run by pigs/They take the rights away from all the kids," but it's not one of those joke albums of phony lounge versions of punk songs. In fact, I don't know what to compare it to, because it doesn't sound like anything I've ever heard (Morrisey fronting a gospel choir, maybe?). Has anyone ever heard anything else by this band? Does all their stuff sound like this?

The effect of shifting the style completely away from the teen agression of Black Flag is to put the lyrics in a somewhat different context. They're saying the same things, but sometimes they mean something slightly different. Instead of rage and agression, it sounds like yearning for transcendence, yearning to "rise above". I'm 25 years older than I was when I first heard Damaged, and I'm not exactly filled with rage anymore, but I am still yearning to rise above.

The Black Lips - Good Bad Not Evil

Not sure what to say about this except that it's really good, sometimes funny garage rock with bits of VU, Stooges and Pussy Galore influence. Loaded with hits--these guys just write one great song after another. What kind of world is this where a song like "Bad Kids" can possibly avoid being a top 10 hit? Thanks to Zane for reccomending it.

Knights of the New Crusade - A Challenge to the Cowards of Christendom

A joke Christian punk band. They have the more-hardcore-than-thou attitude shared by both evangelicals and punks, in this case denouncing other Christian rock bands for not being explicitly Christian enough in their lyrics. The packaging is done up in Jack Chick fonts. I'm actually not 100% sure this is a joke. Like, you see the title "What Part of Thou Shall Not Kill Don't You Understand?" and you assume it must be an anti-abortion song, but it turns out to be anti-war. Maybe they're serious? The best songs are actually the covers of the hymn "The Son of God Goes Forth to War" and the gospel song made famous by Elvis, "The Big Man." And the final track has the singer speaking in tongues, which is pretty funny. Thanks to Bob for sending me a copy.

Random Thoughts on Knocked Up

I can't believe they left this scene out! By far the funniest moment in the film (if it were in the film).

The Cirque du Soliel on Mushrooms scene was one of the more accurate representations of what people on psychedelics actually act like. Seth Rogen going "Whaaaaaaat's heeeeee doooooooiiiiiiin'?"--funny stuff. Let me also say that, if they ate all the mushrooms that were in that bag, that's a LOT of fuckin' mushrooms for two people to eat, especially if they're then going out in public.

The Steeley Dan argument rang very true to me. Something about that band that's so divisive among music geeks. Some people really see them as a great, cool band that combines jazz musicianship with pop songwriting skills without becoming too prog, and others see them as lame, watered-down boomer rock, and neither side can believe it when they hear the other interpretation. (I guess I fall in the latter category--I don't hate them like Yes or Boston, but I sorta passively like them without ever thinking about it, like The Doobies, Eagles, or Elton John.)

Monday, September 24, 2007


^That's got to be one of the hottest things I've ever seen on screen.

Rewatching Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof, I still think it's probably Tarantino's least movie, and I still think it's pretty great. There are spots where the patented Tarantino Dialogue, for the first time, starts to get on my nerves, and there are little bits that seem like they have serve no purpose, but it's hard not to be entertained while watching these girls strut around in Daisy Dukes and listening to the great soundtrack.

If Kill Bill is comparable to Paul's Boutique--a perfect piece of entertainment crafted entirely from samples--then Death Proof is more like Check Your Head--a loose, experimental work that has some parts that fall a little flat, but adds up to a fascinating whole.

The "missing reels" that have been restored for the DVD are pretty cool. I thought "Hold Tight," the song that plays during the fatal car crash, was about the best song Tarantino could possibly dig up, but the song that Butterfly lapdances to ("Down in Mexico" by The Coasters) might be even better. And I really like the convenience store scene (no reason at all for it to be in black and white, though. That's just showy). Getting the Italian Vogue isn't really necessary to the story, but it struck me as a very funny bit.

Watching this again, my favorite thing, which nobody else seems to be focusing on, is what a hilarious character Stuntman Mike is. He's the embodiment of phony machismo, and when the mask of overwrought masculinity falls off and he immediately starts whining like a baby, it's really a pretty awesome bit of comedy acting on Kurt Russell's part.

Russell spends most of the movie strutting around in a studied, tough guy cool borrowed from Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson, little bits of Elvis (like all Tarantino characters) and...Kurt Russell. It's no coincidence that, when he's making his big move on Butterfly, he slips into a John Wayne imitation, donning our culture's most machoized persona, as it were.

Look at the scene where Pam gets in his car. He explains the whole deathproofing process, in which he's basically locking himself into an armored car. He's got a thick wall of plexiglass protecting him from his passenger. Yeah, this is one tough motherfucker. He can kill girls by running them down with what is, for all intents and purposes, a tank! Or he can lick their toes while they're asleep.

Is Stuntman Mike even a stuntman? On the one hand, he does seem to be speaking as a Tarantino surrogate when he's explaining to Pam about car crashes and stuntwork in the movies. And he does have what seems to be a stuntman's car. But it seems very purposeful to have the bartender say he doesn't know whether Mike is telling the truth or just bullshitting. It would make a lot of sense for the whole stuntman trip to be just another part of his mask of bullshit masculinity, and makes a lot of sense in the context of the second half--"Stuntman" Mike thinks he's a badass, until he meets The Real Thing.

I like this idea of Tarantino subverting the macho cinema that he so loves, and that so many adolescent (in either the literal or mental sense) males seem so obsessed with. "Yeah, we get to masturbate to Kurt Russell's badassness again! Wait, he's a pussy! WTF?" It's almost an "answer movie" to the idiotic (but very entertaining and beautifully composed, let me just say) 300.

The one really big problem I have with the movie is the girls leaving Lee with the hillbilly, and going so far as to put sexual ideas in his head before they leave. Bobbie said something like, no real woman would do that, or no woman would have written that scene (I can't quite remember, it was after seeing it the first time), and I have to agree. It did put me off a bit. The other obvious complaint is that there were at least two opportunities where they could have let Zoe back in the car after losing Stuntman Mike, and failed to do so, but I can accept that, since it would have negated so much of what the movie was set up to do.

I also want to point out that Rosario Dawson does really good work in this. Tarantino's lines never sound anything less than natural coming out of her mouth.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Tex Avery's Droopy: The Complete Theatrical Shorts

In 1942, Tex Avery left Warner Bros. animation studio, where he had developed Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig, mentored Chuck Jones and Bob Clampett, and pioneered the fast-paced, gag-heavy style of animation with which the studio is associated. He ended up at MGM, where he produced the wildest, wackiest cartoons of the classic era. This DVD collects those MGM cartoons featuring Avery's most famous recurring character, Droopy Dog.

I've been hoping for a collection of Avery's MGM work for some time now, so I'm both happy to have this and a little disapointed with how chintzy it is. I'd much rather have a 4 disc set of all Avery's MGM toons, but this is a nice start (Wikipedia lists 70 MGM Averys, so it would probably be two volumes). The set also includes several post-Avery Droopys, none of which seem particularly exceptional.

I can accept that. I understand that Droopy is going to sell better than the name of Tex Avery. But I don't like that this is such a bare-bones set. There is a 15-minute documentary on Tex, but none of the commentary tracks, archival footage and other goodies you get from the Looney Tunes sets. I would think that the success of those sets would show that it's a good investment to load these sets up with good stuff. The weird part is that this set is put out by Warner Bros. Even has the same word-for-word disclaimer about politically incorrect content.

Having said that, I can't complain about the packaging. Above is the back cover of the inner case, below is the inside of the case. Both make me very happy.

I hadn't seen any of these films in a while, and I was wondering if they were as funny as I remembered. After watching the Looney Tunes Vol. 3 collection, I had come to the conclusion that Avery's protege Bob Clampett may have actually done this type of stuff better. Well, maybe he does, maybe he don't, but these are some fantastic cartoons.

It's not just the animation, but the design as well. Check out this scene, where the wolf escapes from jail by drawing a door on the wall and walking through it. But he doesn't draw a realistic, square door. His door is bursting out at odd angles, as if exploding from the energy. Everything is at some bizzarre angle!

Seriously, check out the backgrounds in this one. It's like a cartoon drawn by Picasso!

This sherriff character is my favorite. Check out the tiny legs and the mouth that's always in profile, even when he's looking straight ahead.

This scene is about as wacky as it gets...

Amen, Brother!

Via Pandagon, where it's accompanied by a good Defense of Insufferable Music Snobbery.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What I Been Listening To

The Coup - "Head of State" from Pick a Bigger Weapon

That's not really the best song on the album, but it seemed like a fun one to share. These guys are great. Jello Biafra has a cameo.

Aesop Rock - "Citronella" from None Shall Pass

It would be pretty damn cool to sample The Residents' "Smelly Tongues" for a rap record. But how much cooler is it to sample Snakefinger's cover of The Residents' "Smelly Tongues"? Which I've actually always wanted to sample--it's a great beat.

The Fabulous Mark III - "Psycho" from the compilation Texas Funk

I got this album from the library, and it may be my favorite of the recent wave of funk comps. Not a lot of smooth soul-funk on here, just hard-edged beats, distorted guitars and nasty Hammond organs. The intro to this song sounds like something off the first Stooges album, and while that's the most extreme example on the comp, it's pretty representative of the sound. There's a track by DJ Shadow's favorite funk band, Mickey and the Soul Generation.

Now that I've gotten most of the old stuff I want off of emusic, I can download stuff that I just hear is good from people, even if it's not targeted to my particular taste. Case in point, this new Spoon album. It took me a couple listens to get into it, but it's pretty great stuff.

And my friend Bob's podcast-y thing. A great cross-section of vintage punk rock every week. I hope he keeps it up.

P.S. - Don't forget, tomorrow night, FREE COMEDY in the Ice House Annex! See Bobbie and Sally do their long sets!

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Spike Jones Joint!

Finally, a good looking DVD collection of Spike Jones performances. The stats on this sound pretty good:

Renowned for "murdering the classics" and creating satirical original songs, bandleader Spike Jones is seen at his crazy best in this four-disc collection. In addition to four early NBC broadcasts, two 1951 "The Colgate Comedy Hour" programs and two 1952 installments of "All Star Revue," the collection features Jones hits including "All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth," "Glow Worm," "You Always Hurt the One You Love," and more, plus an audio CD of two 1945 pilots from NBC. 165 min. total.

Of course, it could be a lot better, since Wikipedia says "The band starred in variety shows on NBC and then CBS from 1954 to 1961." Maybe the "hits" mentioned above are culled from those shows. I can't find any real information online. So everyone buy this DVD, so that The Powers That Be will see the wisdom of releasing all that footage from The Spike Jones Show in big, beautiful boxed sets. If you're not familiar with Spike, here's a taste:

Cocktails For Two

In the Hall of the Mountain King

William Tell Overture ("Beeeeeetlebooooomb")

As excited as I am about this, it's also a bit of a problem. It's coming out the same day as the Twin Peaks set, AND the fifth volume of Looney Tunes, which all adds up to about $160! Why must all the good stuff come out at the same time (If I recall correctly, last year Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Dazed & Confused and Cemetary Man all came out in the same week, or a week apart or something). Well, I already have the first four volumes of Looney Tunes (long story), so I guess that's as much Looney Tunes as I'll ever need, but then again, this one has a whole disc of Bob Clampett stuff, AND a whole disc of early stuff. Why must the gods torture me so?

Vote For Z-Man!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

This Weekend

At the movies this weekend:

The Egyptian has a Riot on the Sunset Strip Weekend. Friday night is a double feature of Riot on the Sunset Strip and You Are What You Eat. I caught Riot on Flix a while back ever seen those episodes of Dragnet where they arrest hippies who are on acid? Imagine one of those lasting two hours. It's got a reall TV look, and come to think of it, not nearly as funny as a Dragnet episode. BUT, it does have The Standells and The Chocolate Watch Band, and a great (very long) scene of a hippy girl doing interpretive go-go dancing while the acid kicks in, which is pretty damn cool. Big reason to go to this: Discussion between films with Larry Tamblyn and Tony Valentino of The Standells. And to see the very rare, not-on-DVD freakout You Are What You Eat, which includes live footage of Frank Zappa and the Mothers.

Saturday matinee is The Cool Ones, described thusly: "Dig this, pussycats: the luscious Debbie Watson stars as a frustrated go-go dancer on the Whizbam! TV show who creates a new dance craze, "The Tantrum," when she grabs the microphone on-camera from singer Glen Campbell." And Debbie Watson will be there in person to discuss the film. Vendors and live garage rock in the courtyard follows, before the night's double feature of The Trip and what sounds like a damn cool documentary, Mondo Hollywood. My favorite part of The Trip is when Peter Fonda is freaking out, and Bruce Dern tries to mellow him out. "Cool down, man. Let's go into the living room." Fonda: "Yeah...the Living Room. Oh, far out, man!" And Sunday is the documentary on psychedelic rock legend Rocky Erikson You're Gonna Miss Me (which I've heard is not all that great) doubled with something called The Love-Ins.

(Side note: since we've broached the subject of garage bands, are you familiar with The Sonics? If not, go here right now. They're probably the best of the genre.)

Meanwhile, The Aero is having a 70mm festival. You're chance to see Lawrence of Arabia, The Wild Bunch, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Baraka and (tonight:) Pink Floyd: The Wall on the big screen in 70mm.

While at the New Beverly, Boogie Nights is paired with what looks like a supremely cheesey 70's flick called Roller Boogie, and Sunday it's Jacques Tati's Mon Oncle and Playtime. Most likely I'll be going to see Mon Oncle. I saw it a long time ago, but I think I had a different expectation of what it was going to be like, and was a little bit disapointed. Since then, after seeing Playtime at The Egyptian, I've become a Tati fanatic, so it definitely deserves another look, and a chance to see it on the big screen is too good to pass up.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Mark Your Calendar!

This is a FREE show! Bobbie will be doing an hour, and Sally will be doing half an hour. Let's pack the place so we can get some good video. Also featuring the hi-larious Kate Roxburgh. See you there!

Harper Valley, USA

So I went home to eat lunch, and I turned on MSNBC for maybe 30 minutes, and saw not one, but TWO idiotic stories. First, this apparantly Fox is going to censor Kathy Griffin's acceptance speach (for Best Reality Show) from the Creative Arts Emmys broadcast.

"Kathy Griffin's offensive remarks will not be part of the E! telecast on Saturday night," the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences said in a statement Monday.

In her speech, Griffin said that "a lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus."

She went on to hold up her Emmy, make an off-color remark about Christ and proclaim, "This award is my god now!"

OK, on MSNBC, they didn't mention the "off-color remark about Christ." If she said something like "Fuck that faggot Jesus, this award is my god now!" then I could understand them editing that. Still, statements like these are hyper-annoying:

The comedian's remarks were condemned Monday by Catholic League President Bill Donohue, who called them a "vulgar, in-your-face brand of hate speech."

Hate speech? Give me a break. Then there's this story about some girl being told to cover up on an airplane because her dress was too "revealing":

"The flight attendant came up to me and asked me if I had a sweater, and I said, 'No, because why would I pack a sweater in the heat?'" Qassim said. "So I asked her why, and she said I needed to cover up."

And amazingly, it's the second time this has happened in a week!

Just last Friday, a woman from San Diego told a similar story to the "Today" show. She said a Southwest Airlines flight attendant had also taken issue with the propriety of her attire.

Now, I have seen people dressed in ways that I would consider inappropriate, but they were showing video of her in the dress, and it was just a cute little cocktail dress. Add in the story about the High School Musical star who had to apologize for someone putting nude pictures of her on the web, and I have to ask, when did this country get taken over by the fucking Harper Valley PTA?

Friday, September 07, 2007

Can We Just Admit That All Republicans Are Gay?

It's been fun watching yet another virulently anti-gay politician be uncovered as a closeted gay man, but is it really surprising? There's no reason based in logic to devote your life to publicly demeaning gays and actively working to deny gays their basic rights. The only reason I can think of to do this is to prove to the world that you are SO NOT GAY. Of course most of these homophobic Republicans are closeted gay men. What could be more obvious?

If you're looking for the blog that outed Larry Craig two years ago, it's here. And Craig's hilarious appearence on Hardball during the Clinton impeachment can be seen here.


Bought a lot of books over the last few weeks. First, a trip to the Out of the Closet thrift store in Pasadena to get some back-to-school fashions for Brandie, and they had a ton of decent books. I picked up a copies of The Illustrated Man, The Feminie Mystique (mostly just as a looks-good-on-the-bookshelf item), Pauline Kael's I Lost It At The Movies (excellent!), Niccholson Baker's Vox and my favorite, The Playboy Book of Party Games from around 1970. It's got a very cool, sexy cover, but I assumed it would have a bunch of sex games for swinger parties, maybe complicated variations on Spin The Bottle or something. Nope, mostly icebreaker games, drinking games and bar bets. Still, a cool thing to have.

Then, Brand Books had their big Labor Day sale, and I got John Waters' Shock Value, a Sandman TPB (Brief Lives--last time I was there I got Dream Country, so maybe I can slowly buy them all as I find them in used stores), The Re/Search: Incredibly Strange Music Issue (an amazing find! Worth it for the 20-page interview with The Cramps, in which they don't even discuss their own music, just talk about record collecting, alone!), plus a hardback copy of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (the only one I didn't own in hardback, so it was glaringly missing on my shelf) and a couple other things for Bobbie. Also got a couple cool records there--Nina Hagen's NunSexMonkRock and Thomas Dolby's The Flat Earth. Their record section is largely overlooked, and they have some great stuff for good prices. I almost bought a couple other collectables--they had a 12" of "Johnny Are You Queer?" and a couple records of J.R.R. Tolkien reading poems and songs of Middle Earth, all of which looked to be in good condition. I need to get my turntable fixed STAT.

I also recently picked up a used copy of a Marcella Hazan cookbook, and then my friends Rachel and Robyn gave me a late birthday present--or maybe it was a Labor Day present--Califonria Crazy & Beyond: Roadside Vernacular Architecture. So I guess I have enough to read for now.


And the random:

I just might check out this not-on-DVD Seijun Suzuki double feature at The Egyptian Sunday night.

PCL Linkdump kindly linked to the Hasil Adkins doc I posted on YouTube!

Jason Jenkins reports from the surreal Hello Kitty Puroland Theme Park! Complete with Animatronic Deficating Bears!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Night On Freak Mountain

A classic.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Beck - "Earthquake Weather"

Jesus H. Fuck it's hot.

And it's humid, too. Feels like Florida. Usually, out here, you get the "dry heat," so that even when it's really hot, when the sun goes down the temperature will drop 10 degrees in 30 minutes, so you get some relief. But this weather is holding the heat, so that even if you go outside after dark, it still feels icky and muggy. I haven't been able to sleep well, my stomach is upset, and I'm just sick of this damn heat.

I remember this one really hot day in Florida, when Jason and I were driving around listening to The Stooges' "Dirt," and Jason said "This song has so much mood to it. Maybe it's the heat." There's something about those really, seriously hot days that makes you want to listen to slow, hazy music that matches the way you feel, like you barely want to move. And lately, for me, that song has been Beck's "Earthquake Weather" (which has become my favorite Beck song, hands down).

All the elements of that song come together to make it perfect for extremely hot weather. That phased-out guitar at the beginning seems to imitate the heat waves you can see coming off the road, and it gives the whole thing a hazy sound. Then the beat comes in, and it's this nice, slow, head-bobbing beat. The lyrics seem to hint at dog days--"The days go slow." All the instruments--the soaring guitar notes over the chorus, the funky keyboard over the bridge--have some kind of treated sound that removes their edges and makes them sound as if they're melting in the sun. You just want to sink into the vinyl of your car seat.

The title does, in a round-about way, refer to hot weather, though I wouldn't have known it until recently. Some folks around here seem to believe that earthquakes are more likely in hot weather, as evidenced by this exchange I heard at the office last summer:

"It's so hot."
"You know what I think every time it gets this hot?"
"Shake and bake."
"Yup, shake and bake."
"Oh, I hope not."