Thursday, April 16

The Oprahcalypse

Quick on the heels of the news that Ashton Kutcher (of all people) beat CNN as the first twitter account to reach 1 Million Followers is the revelation that Oprah is joining up.
So how is the twitterverse taking it?

[Listening to:  Vernon Reid - "You Say He's Just a Psychic Friend" ]

Wednesday, April 15

That's My Jam: Almost Famous

It's interesting how the other day how my Stevie Salas fanboy post led to a discussion about musical family trees -- those extended families that happen when bands breakup and former members head off in different directions or join up with other people for side projects and whatnot.

I could probably totally geek out and write pages and pages of music nerdosity about that sort of thing (and I surely will one day soon) but it dovetails kinda nicely into an opportunity for me to introduce people to another of my secret fave artists that I really feel is about to take off and become one of the next big things -- Imani Coppola.
Here's essentially how it worked:
  1. Young grommet guitar player discovers Metallica in the mid-late 80's, gets utterly obsessed for a while.

  2. Reads some guitar magazine interview with Metallica lead singer/rhythm guitarist/Napster-hater James Hetfield in which he's pictured wearing a Faith No More t-shirt.

  3. Wondered what was up with that and soon discovered a truly awesome band that soon after blew up on MTV with their exploding piano/dying fish video.

  4. Faith No More gets tons more interesting (and less MTV-Faith No More-ish) in the late 90's, leading me to become aware of lead singer Mike Patton's other group Mr. Bungle -- which becomes sort of a full-time obsession for a year or two (leading to a whole other tangent of purchasing John Zorn albums which is too complicated to get into right now) -- except that after a few albums Mr. Bungle sorta becomes The Fantomas and then becomes Tomohawk and it becomes clear that keeping up with Mike Patton's career track is sort of a pain in the ass and half the albums he's been putting out lately are only him making weird noises into a telephone microphones anyways.
Life gets infinitely easier when I decide that it's much more simple to just feel happy
about seeing Patton's name on things, like Bjork albums or the credits for I Am Legend.
Then Mike Patton goes and screws all that up by putting together a project called Peeping Tom, which is just loaded with fascinating collaborations -- including this awesome song called "Sucker" with Norah Jones of all people that is not only permanently locked into my iPod, (it also prompted me to stop talking shit about Norah Jones) -- but most importantly included contributions and then live tour band support playing violin (and we all know how I feel about sexy girls who play violin) by one Imani Coppola, whom I had not heard of before at that point.

Turns out Coppola has a rich history, but for many years was categorized in sort of a limboland of artists that I don't really personally find interesting like Paula Cole, Sophie B. Hawkins, and Meridith Brooks.
Truth is, as much as I always love to say that I'm completely
open-minded when it comes to music, it's not always 100% true.
For example, when I hear that someone performed on the Lilith Fair it almost immediately puts doubts into my mind about how much I'll like their music (despite the fact that MeShell Ndegeocello was on that tour). But then I read a little further and I find out that Coppola was apparently snarking on all the other artists the whole time -- including an interview she did with Toronto Sun back in 1997 that instantly made me adore her:
"I think [Sarah McLaughlin]'s a good songwriter, at times, and singer. She's boring to watch live, though.."
So I started looking into her music and found all sorts of awesome stuff, none of which fit into any sort of single category. She's all over the map with styles and genres -- which I actually prefer in an artist, but rarely find these days.
Here's the first song of her's that I fell in love with -- Woke up Hwite
Anyways, recently she put out an album with a band she's in with DJ/Programmer Adam Pallin called Little Jackie -- which if you're looking for groups to compare it with fits in nicely with Gnarls Barkley (a band I wish I could love but have grown utterly tired of despite their obvious talent and quirkiness because club DJ's got a hold of that "Crazy" song and just beat it into the friggin ground).
Little Jackie is a blast.
Much like Gnarls Barkley's debut album, it's loaded with summer songs. Road trip music. It's a little girly (not that there's anything wrong with that), but my impression (read: fantasy) is that Imani is probably the kind of chick who not only knows how to rock eye shadow, but also gets mad at hockey teams who trade away decent veterans for unproven minor league prospects right before making a playoff run.

And while it's entirely possible that in reality she's a macro-vegan who thinks all sports are barbaric and only dates guys who wear trucker hats strategically tipped to one side, that doesn't mean that this isn't an awesome little song:

-- "Liked You Better Before"
April's a little early for a Summer Song to catch on, but this is usually when they start showing up on mix tapes and iPod playlists. I'll be pissed if this or any other Little Jackie tune ends up on the soundtrack for some craptastical Kate Hudson movie (the chances for which I fear are pretty good) and probably disavow any knowledge of it -- but sometimes that's the price you have to pay when an artist you wish would always stay indie is this good.

Actually now that I think about it, there are a lot of sorta unknown/indie artists out there that I absolutely love to the point where I sort of quietly hope they WON'T catch on so they could stay "my little band that no one else really knows about." -- I guess that's kinda mean-spirited when you get right down to it, but if that's what it takes to keep the crowds at Earl Greyhound concerts small and manageable, then that's what I'm gonna keep wishing for.
So, who are some of your secret faves that you sorta quietly hope will stay yours forever?

[Listening to:  Killswitch Engage - "The Element of One" ]

Tuesday, April 14

Resisty Rocks

Apparently as a result of a recent decision from corporate, starting Monday morning food and drink will no longer be allowed in offices that are directly adjacent to manufacturing areas.

On the one hand, this makes a ton of sense because to get from the café to my office I have to walk through a hallway where I pass by the entrance to several controlled environments, and if some unforeseen accident were to happen and I spilled something onto the floors, there would be possible problems with contamination.
This is actually one of the main reasons I choose not to eat lunch at my desk.
But this time the new rules include the removal of several previous "acceptable exclusions," like bottles of water with closeable tops AND covered coffee mugs.
I repeat:
NO. Coffee. Allowed. at employee desks. At. All.
You, know -- I used to think you were cute, but now you're starting to bug me. First you make me park all the way over in BFE (although to be honest, about a month after that decree I just began parking in my old spot again and no one's said boo about it), but now you're messing with my coffee -- and I'm afraid that sir, is a step too far.
Btw, can you still call something a black market if you offer cream and sugar?
Unfortunately, this order comes from up on high -- so there's really not all that much that can be done about it without risking my job. I'd still be able to drink my coffee in the breakroom, so it's not like they're banning the drug from the campus completely -- but I don't know that the cleanliness compliance studies that were performed prior to all these new rules being enforced really accounted for just how important people being able to drink coffee while they work is to the production process around here.
So all that leaves me with is this: Revolution.
Now before we get started here, I'd like to take a moment to dispell some rumors -- because unlike other groups who didn't take the requisite time first to check the Urban Dictionary to ensure that their nationwide protest movement didn't just happen to share a name with a revolting sexual act, we at the 'Don't take away my coffee, you wouldn't like me when I havent had my coffee' central offices truly wish to ensure the integrity of our actions -- so please disregard any and all emails earlier this week requesting people to wear the black armbands with the words "Rusty Trombone" written on them.
That was not an official communication.
Now, on to the plan: See, the new order doesn't officially kick in until Monday -- so in celebration, I'm thinking that for the rest of the week I should prepare and then consume the messiest, most hands-on meals I can think of at my workspace.
Think -- It ain't illegal yet.
I'm talking like crawdads, buffalo wings, BBQ ribs (hell I might just finally take advantage of that disgusting free Cole slaw offer the sales guys think we all appreciate), full Maine Lobster -- stuff like that. So what I need from you, dear friends -- is menu suggestions.
Because if they're gonna try to mess with a brother's coffee,
then it's gonna get straight Skeksis up in here, knammsayin?

[Listening to:  88 Keys (feat. Shitake Monkey) - "The Friends Zone" ]

Monday, April 13

Where Are You From?

Because I live here:

       -- Mad Love to OHN for the link (well, sorta..)

[Listening to:  Betty Davis - "Game is My Middle Name" ]

That's My Jam: Secret Badass

At first the dream was the same as it probably is for every other kid that picks up a guitar. Get good, buy a pointy axe, shred faces, smash said guitar, get another one, crush your enemies, see them driven before you, then hear the lamentation of their women.
..And then do it again the very next night.
But then as you take the time to develop your skills and start playing in bands and the reality of the landscape begins to appear, and you realize that it's only a rare few who get to live that dream, if at all. It doesn't that mean you shouldn't try for it with everything you've got --
But when the path is narrow, it's the wise warrior who takes the road less traveled.
Early on in my guitar fandom I started taking note of session guys. Musical directors. The guys standing in the back who's faces you didn't always see but who could play any style at any time and could always be relied on to save the day. Guys like Steve Lukather, Greg Howe, Eddie Martinez, Doug Wimbish, or Carlos Alomar. Beyonce's current all-female backup band is made up completley of players like this -- and while her music isn't generally my cup of tea, when you hear a really fantastic band lay anthing down you've gotta respect it.

Every now and then one of these players will move on to bigger and better things, like Led Zepplin guitarist Jimmy Page, Elvis' guitar ace Scotty Moore, Journey guitarist Neil Schon, Me'Shell Ndegeocello, or even Luther Vandross (who started out as a session backup vocalist before striking out on his own) -- but the majority of them essentially hang around until needed, crafting relationships with songwriters and producers and keeping their skills fresh between supporting tours and high-dollar session work.
I wanted to be one of those guys.
One of the best of these is Stevie Salas. Handpicked by George Clinton to cover musical-direction and guitar duties for his solo records; he quickly became a go-to guy for people like Rod Stewart, Mick Jagger, Don Was, and Ronald Shannon Jackson.

You've probably heard Salas before and just didn't know it -- he was the guy actually playing the guitar in the scene at the end of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure when Rufus (George Carlin) asks to jam with Wyld Stallions (if you look carefully you can see the difference in skin color when they show the hands playing the solo). He also provided all those little guitar fills that played whenever B&T would do air guitar.

Salas has been doing solo records for years now, largely under the radar -- but he's as good as they come, and worth every penny to see live. Here's my current fave track of his -- a cover of the old Heatwave disco track Grooveline featuring fellow session ace TM Stevens on Bass and ex-Tackhead singer Bernard Fowler.
I could seriously listen to this on repeat all day long.
Guitar players are obviously my thing, but session players come in all shapes and sizes (Timbaland, The Dust Brothers, Fish-Stick lover Kanye West, and former NIN/Perfect Circle/Devo/Goo Goo Dolls/Lenny Kravitz/Liz Phair/Joe Walsh drummer Josh Freese [who rips, btw] come to mind as examples). Hell, there was a long period where the background music for every Motown record was supplied by a session band called "The Funk Brothers" -- I'm talking all the old Supremes records, Steve Wonder's early work, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, nearly all the Jackson 5 stuff -- the singers were obviously different but literally it was the same 3 guys doing drums, bass, and guitar for every single song.

So the question I have for you is this -- maybe not so much in the world of session players, but are there artists out there that you follow who maybe aren't the name that appears on the top of the album cover? A particular singer, DJ, or producer who's stuff you'll check out regardless of who they're backing up or guest starring with?
And if so, who are they?

[Listening to:  Ted Nugent - "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang" ]

Friday, April 10

The Friday Hot Sheet

Another week comes and goes -- this time with much more emphasis on waking up early and making sure my roomate gets to school on time and has a lunch packed. I'm more of a night owl, so dragging myself up early enough to ensure that his own dragging himself awake rituals don't interfere with getting out the door showing up before the late bell rings has been a real shift. We've done pretty good so far, but there's definitley room for improvement.
Which would be fine, if I hadn't gone and purchased one of these.
I lucked into finding a used/reconditioned one for a good price -- and couldn't really pass on the deal. Curren's been wanting one for a long time, and it's something we can play together. It's a ton of fun, especially when we hook up the Wii Sports and start trying to box each other.

Curren's aunt apparently has one of these, so he's had a bit more practice at it than I got in NYC or when my brother brought his down last Christmas, but we're quickly getting the hang of it. It kinda reminds me of this old TV show we used to have here called "TV Pow" where you would call in and play a space-invaders type of video game by yelling "POW!" into the phone whenever you wanted to shoot your lasers.

It is an incredible timesuck though. Maybe that's largely because it's the new new and we're all enamoured with it, but "just a little bit more" seems to turn into "way past bedtime" a lot quicker than you think it might. A fact that isn't helped by the fact that bedtime for me used to be whenever I just ended up drifting asleep on the couch.
Now, not so much.
So before the wiimote thing charges back up and we go another couple of rounds -- here are this weeks risers and fallers, and the buzz as it looks from here.
Somali PiratesHow many movies does Don Cheadle have to make before we realize that this isn't just some quaint little folk hero story that just happened to finally screw up and piss off the US Navy? In my mind, stories like this (especially the sort of "cool" angle the whole thing was largely given before recent events happened) sort of points out just how sort of rudderless the media is right now. Newspapers are sinking, TV news is not only accepting the idea of adding spin into their stories, they're whole-heartedly pushing it. What makes The Daily Show so much fun to watch is the way it calls out news agencies on the way they report the stories we've already read in the morning. The idea being that you have the facts of the story in your head, but then you see the CNN's, MSNBC's, and FOX News Networks of the world report the exact same story and it sounds completely different depending on who you watch. Kinda like these Somali Pirates, who I guess were supposed to be like the new cool kids in school but now are the face of a call to action from these talking heads to ..what, nuke the Indian Ocean? I'm no war hawk, but in this day and age I'm frequently surprised by how much hesitation there seems to be when things like this happen. I'm not saying the old days were better -- but remember how stories like this used to be reported in the news? The anchorman would come on and say "US Military forces blew the shit out of some little boat yesterday. Here's why they did it." And then we'd debate whether that was the right move or not? Now you watch the news and it feels like all this waiting around is the military's way of asking me what should be done. And it's like, "Hey, isn't this sorta what I pay you guys for?" What happened to that Navy Seals commercial they play all night long where the footprints show up in the sand after the wave recedes back into the tide. Where are those guys?
Last.fmI have an iPod Nano with roughly 1500 songs on it. Songs I put on there personally because I like them. But what I'm noticing is that after having gotten all those songs on there and enjoying having them all at my fingertips to listen to and rock out with, that now I'm kind of running out of gas on them. Not that I don't like the songs, but that there's roughly 600-700 of them I either skip constantly or just don't play and then a remaining number that I just play to death. It's hard to believe I could wear out on that many songs at a time, but essentially what I'm craving is something like really, really different than the somewhat limited variety that I've created for myself on the iPod. So lately at work I've been just plugging the headphones into my computer and "getting lost" on I'll put in a general term to start a radio station, like "Funk" or "Reggae" and then see what it gives me. If it plays songs I've heard of I'll listen to them and enjoy, but if it presents me with a band/group/singer I don't know I'll put that into the station generator, and then just sort of repeat that process over and over until I'm completely off the beaten path. The results have been exceptionally cool (although I also suspect I'm just really hungry for new music to listen to so everything unfamiliar tastes yummy right now). I suppose you can do this on Pandora as well, but what I've discovered is that for rock, metal, and really old R&B (imho) Pandora is severely lacking. is British, so there's like an overflow of old soul artists on here, and that is just fine by me. I've been discovering groups and singers that frankly I was simply too young to have ever even heard of when they were around, and as such it's almost like discovering an entirely new scene (that you know, happened like 35 years ago). Plus, much like Pandora and Rhapsody, the more you play the more it starts to see what you like -- and I've been treated to some very nice surprises in the past few days, especially in the form of a John Paul Jones solo record I was unaware of, and a project featuring Dennis Chambers, Billy Sheehan and John Novello that absolutley shreds. When I think back to the days where discovering new music meant hit-or-miss methods like waiting desperately for something that didn't sound exactly the same to come on the radio or taking part in blind mixtape exchanges on the Internet (even though those were fun), I feel really lucky to have the chance to use technology like this. It's not a flying car or a jetpack -- but it's pretty damn cool.
Andy SambergI think there's a part of me that didn't want to like Andy Samberg and the whole Lonely Island gang. Part of me that didn't really want to jump on the trend wagon. I get that way sometimes. Old music is better, old movies are cooler, old comedians are funnier, that sort of thing. Problem is, these guys are funny as hell. Movies like Hot Rod, shows like Eastbound and Down, and this new Seth Rogan Observe and Report thing that is already getting a lot of hate from reviewers and watchdog groups for being too dark -- it's kinda hard to act like something's not funny when you're laughing hysterically at it. It's not perfection, and I can still poinit to examples of older comedians/actors/writers who I feel are more consistent and subversive, but there's no way in hell I can deny the sheer awesomeness of this clip, which I posted up on twitter earlier in the week but just can't stop playing, especially when the nitpickers at work start to get annoying.
Much like micro-brew beer, when you start taking a stand and declaring your love for a brand of potato chips that you can get at a major grocery store, you immediatley risk connoiseurs like Penn Jillete coming down on you and extolling the superior taste and quality of some tiny snackmaker that only sells 3-ounce bags of their product in a little convienence store somewhere in Delaware. Well that's great and all, but I'm not really supposed to be eating these things in the first place, so if I just happen to stumble across something at Target that blows a bag of Ruffles away it doesn't really mean I'm a luddite. All that being said -- if you like Pringles but (like me) can't stop yourself from eating an entire tube all at once, see if you can find yourself a bag of these instead. I've only found them at one or two places here in Jacksonville, but they are really, really good. I'm always open to new taste suggestions if you have any, but if you're looking for a new chip and can find these -- it's totally worth the effort.
TexasI guess I shouldn't call out the whole state just because of something stupid that one elected official said, but then I remember that everytime some a-hole in Florida does something retarded, the entire country thinks everyone in this state is that stupid. There's no doubt that as States go, Florida has an extra helping of dumbass on it's plate -- but we aren't the only store in the mall, if you know what I'm saying. Essentially the story goes that Republican Representative Betty Brown and the rest of the House Elections Committee heard testimony from Ramey Ko, a representative of the Organization of Chinese Americans regarding difficulties people of Chinese, Japanese and Korean descent often have obtaining voter registrations and other forms of identification, at which point Representative Brown said, "Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese — I understand it’s a rather difficult language — do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt names that we could deal with more readily here?" at which point I'm pretty much like, "Check, please?"
On My Planet       ..This would happen all the time.

[Listening to:  Niacin - "Stone Face" ]

Thursday, April 9

Aincent Chinese Secret

Zuo Zōngtáng, aka General TsoSo last night I finally broke down and gave into the General Tso's Chicken craving that I've been having for like two weeks. I've been trying to eat healthier, so resisting this particular treat was in my best interest -- but even I knew I couldn't hold out forever. So I headed over to the surest bet in my neck of the woods, this tiny little place called "Quick Chinese."
Is it the absolute best take-out Chinese you
can get in this town? Who knows, probably not.
But unlike so many things in the Baymeadows area (where I live these days) it's an institution. Happy Woks and Asia Gardens might come and go, but Quick Chinese is forever. Which is a good thing, because the food friggin' rocks.

Anyways, I call ahead with my order so it will be ready when I get there (they don't deliver). When I get there the scene is the same as it always is. A line of people waiting and Seinfeld on the TV. Tell them your name, wait maybe a minute and then they hand you your stuff.

Best of all the prices are low, mainly because the place doesn't waste much effort on extras. You get your sauces, but you've got to ask for chopsticks. The other thing that comes from this cost-cutting mentality is that Quick Chinese doesn't make their own fortune cookies. I know a lot of places don't -- but once you find one that does (like they used to at Eddie's in Arlington before it closed), it's hard to go back to the pre-made ones wrapped in plastic.

All that being said, I about fell out of my chair when I opened up my fortune cookie last night.
Seriously, can they really get away with this?
What the hell am I supposed to do with this? Go back to the restaurant and use it like a coupon?
I mean damn, son -- that's just lazy.
The only explanation I can think of is that there's some guy in an office somewhere sitting at a computer who just hates his fortune cookie message-writing job, and every now and then he just boils over and types out something like "Who Cares, You're Not Going to Follow My Advice Anyways," "Stick With Your Wife," or "Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?"

If that's the case, I feel for you man. We all get tired of our gigs sometimes and wish we could be doing something else. Besides, it could be worse -- you could be writing TV commercials:
Either way -- don't take it out on the cookie, man.
That cookie didn't do anything to you.

[Listening to:  Lyn Collins - "Rock Me Again & Again & Again & Again & Again & Again" ]

Wednesday, April 8

Seven Seven Seven Ninety-Three Eleven

"Some days I'm Morris Day. Other days I'm just Jerome."

[Listening to:  John Paul Jones - "B. Fingers" ]

Tuesday, April 7

Actually Spoken During the Course of My Day

"Now that we understand each other, I think it's imperative that we find a way to mess up Margaret Cho's kitchen."

[Listening to:  Pat Travers - "Dedication" ]

Monday, April 6

That's My Jam: MTV Did Not Help You

The story goes that the idea for MTV originated with a bunch of New York radio guys looking to expand their market. They had a bunch of songs/videos gathered that they wanted to share with the world -- but the bands they were featuring weren't considered popular enough to play on regular radio.

So with the help of some programming executives looking to find a way to make cable TV a profitable investment they launched what they essentially envisioned as a "radio station on TV" -- where music would constantly play, interrupted only occasionally by "VJ's" who would provide interesting facts about whatever artist's song had just played and help add a "face" to the thing.
As everyone knows -- the first song ever played on the network was "Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles.
But what I find most interesting about the history of the thing was the way "radio mentality" almost killed MTV.
See, the problem with radio guys is that they usually only see what's directly in front of them. They know what they think their audience likes, so they'll just keep doing that one thing over and over until that audience either grows too old for their advertisers to care about or the whole thing just runs out of gas and plummets to the ground like a plane crash. In the mind of most radio station executives -- if you start up a Pop/Rock station, build it into a local favorite, make a bunch of advertising revenue, give away a bunch of bumper stickers and beer coozies, and then either shut it down or sell the whole thing off to Clear Channel at a modest loss once the ratings start falling off, it's considered a "good run."
Early-era MTV was filled with guys like that.
They played the bands they liked and ignored the ones they didn't -- claiming that they didn't fit the "image" the network was trying to project. And much like the classic rock station that played Bob Seger and Beatles tunes in the day to pay the bills and then snuck in entire B-sides of Zeppelin and Metallica late at night, as long as the ads were getting sold and the Arbitron books confirmed that they were hitting their numbers -- they'd just keep running the thing until the spark went out and then move on to the next number on the dial, just like they'd always done before.
The only problem is -- MTV isn't a radio station.
One of my favorite stories from this period in the network's history is when they brought David Bowie in one day to do an interview, and VJ Mark Goodman sat down with him and essentially said, "Thanks for coming in today and answering a few questions for us today, David," at which point a clearly pissed-off David Bowie jammed a finger in Goodman's face and all but shouted back,
"Actually, I've got a question for YOU -- Why don't you
ever feature any videos by black artists on this network?"
Depending on what source you trust, there are many different explanations as to why MTV was essentially lily-white during it's first few years -- the most popular being the "We were just playing the songs we liked, and most of those artists were rock and roll and new wave bands made up of white kids. It wasn't an intentional slight, it was just the way we'd always worked when we were in radio" defense.

None of which explains why at one point executives at CBS Records had to basically threaten to pull all of their videos off the station unless MTV started playing songs by urban artists.
A few months later MTV aired Michael Jackson’s "Billie Jean" -- and we all know what happened after that.
The odd thing about it is that at one point it was run sort of a pirate radio station. Hardly anyone knew who the Buggles were before MTV showed them to us. Sure, it might have all been part of some larger corporate scheme -- but MTV introduced a lot of us to music we might have otherwise never heard. Most frequently in the forms of scene-specific programming blocks like Headbangers Ball, 120 Minutes, and Yo MTV Raps. Places that for many of us opened the doors to genres and artists we then delved deeper into on our own, especially as the network veered more and more openly corporate over the years.

The interesting side effect of all this is that there were several bands out there that MTV's original myopic view were clearly intended to be helpful to who not only didn't benefit from the added exposure that the network provided, but in some ways possibly found themselves hurt by the addition of a medium that enabled listeners to see the faces of the people behind the songs.

One of my favorite of these is Aldo Nova -- a Canadian quartet most famous for the song "Fantasy." For those of you who might be too young to remember, this song owned on the radio. People loved the hell out of it. And why not? -- It's got huge guitars, a catchy hook, and a chorus that just begs to be sung out loud over and over with any and everybody at the bar who's listening to it.

In fact, it's a huge mystery to me why this song isn't among the many classic rock anthems that have sort of enjoyed resurgence as a result of the whole Guitar Hero video game craze. Seriously, if there was ever a tune custom-made for that game, this is it -- but as far as I can tell it's not on there.

Who knows, maybe there's a Canadian version of the game you can only get north of the border that features levels where you can only jam along to tracks by Rush, Triumph, Saga, Honeymoon Suite, and April Wine. But short of that, this in particular seems to be a song that is slowly fading into the background,
..And I for one can't help but wonder if the video is one of the reasons why:
OK, let’s forget for a moment the inexplicable opening sequence with the Uzi-toting guards and the nerdy guy "protecting" the guitar. Lets move past the presence of a working helicopter that surely sucked up all the working budget for the video, thereby requiring the less-than-convincing special effects used to represent the LASER BEAM COMING OUT OF THE GUITAR THAT IS USED TO OPEN THE DOOR OF THE WAREHOUSE, and let's just move right to the heart of the problem, shall we?
If you're in a band where one guy wants to wear a leopard-skin spandex
jumpsuit, then either you ALL HAVE TO WEAR THEM or no one can.
Seriously, is there anything that kills the rock and roll authenticity of this whole video more than the fact that the guy with the moon boots and the guitar that shoots frikkin' laser beams is being backed up by what appears to be a bunch of bank tellers?

I can just picture the scene in the dressing room -- everyone standing there with their arms crossed while an angry Aldo Caporuscio demanded to know where everyone else's leopard-skin suits were.
"Well, the guys and I had a meeting -- and we decided that we're not going to wear them anymore."
"But why!? They look great!"
"No man-- They look stupid."
"The songs about living a Rock and Roll fantasy life! How are we supposed to portray that if you're going out there in button-down shirts!?"
"Hey, we're ready to rock the song, but we just don't know, feel good about the spandex anymore."
"Don't you think it's gonna look a little weird if I'm the only one with one on?"
"That's just it, Aldo -- we were all kinda hoping that maybe you'd go without it, too. At least for the video shoot, you know?"
"Go without it!? Are you crazy? I'm Aldo effing Nova -- Where I go, the spandex goes!"
"Well yeah, but.."
"But nothing! I'm WEARING this. You losers do what you want."
"Come on man, don't be that way."
"You'll see. You'll ALL see. When this video shoot is over, people are going to wanna know where all the rock stars are -- and they're not going to mean you guys. They're going to be looking for the leopard man."
You laugh now -- but do you want to know what the scariest part of this whole thing is?
In the very next video the band put out in support of a song called "Monkey on Your Back" –-
..They’re all wearing matching jumpsuits.
[Listening to:  Jerry Reed - "Amos Moses" ]

Friday, April 3

The Friday Hot Sheet

It's the first week of full time father/son cohabitation, and things seem to be going well. I kinda lucked out in this unexpected shift because it also happens to be Curren's spring break. Honestly, I think they should just re-name elementary school spring breaks to something like "Teachers be tired." I mean, it's not like the boy is piling into a Power Wheels Jeep with 5 of his brosephs and heading down to Panama City to scope out beach bunnies or anything.
I'll tell you what though, if they made a funnel for Capri Sun -- my kid would rule every contest.
I think that's the key here to helping him really fit in -- make up a flyer to put up by the apartment mailboxes that say, "Bladderbust this Saturday!!" And then invite all the neighborhood children.

If you need me -- I'll be the one sitting in the lifeguard chair with the super-soaker full of Berry Blue Kool-aid telling all the children not to forget that every time Elmo refers to himself in third person they have to do a pixie stick shot.
It's gonna be epic. Trust.
So before the entire apartment complex gets together to vote me dad of the year -- here are this weeks risers and fallers, and the buzz as it looks from here.
Jay Cutler
Traded to
Oh man, don’t even get me started. This whole thing has been a clusterfuck from the start, when new Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels offended the tender sensibilities of NFL quarterback Jay Cutler by not only publicly making moves to replace him with his former Patriots protégé Matt Cassell, but then once that cat got out of the bag apparently making remarks directly to Cutler about how he would "never really fit into the new system at all" – leading to the mother of all hissyfits and then this move to trade our Franchise QB away. None of which is supposed to indicate that Cutler or his agent Bus Cook aren't a bunch of whining crybabies (because they certainly are), but simply that there were a multitude of other ways this problem could have been fixed other than a pre-draft day trade. Denver set the price high, demanding at least two first rounders in exchange for Cutler, but when you start throwing around terms like multiple draft picks and "serviceable" signal callers what you’re really saying is rebuilding and as far as this Broncos fan is concerned that’s really not what a team that was on the verge of a playoff berth last season should be working towards. Plus -- Orton’s a stiff. I don’t care what all these talking heads say, if the guy couldn’t win a dedicated starting job away from Rex effing Grossman, then I don’t want him in my backfield. The only way this could possibly turn out well is if we trade picks to get hot rookie prospect Mark Sanchez, but even if we do that (which, btw – hooray, another rookie QB) doesn’t it sort of screw the pooch on the sweet deal we just made? Seriously, I’m not liking this new coach at all. Bring back Dracula.
Lets play $25,000 Pyramid for a second. I’ll give the clues and you guess the answer. The clue is "Marcy Playground" – at which point like 99.9% of the people in the world would say "Bands who wrote Sex and Candy?" -- and I would begrudgingly say yes, but then I would proceed to rail on you for like an hour for not knowing the rest of their catalog. To be completely fair -- I’m this way with a lot of bands, but on my extensive list of One Hit Wonders who got TOTALLY screwed, Marcy P is up there near the top. Think of it like this: If you liked the idea of Dinosaur Jr. but (like me) found it somewhat annoying that Jay Mascus never seemed to have the motivation to oh I don’t know, wake the hell up long enough to sing coherent-sounding lyrics, then Marcy Playgrounds non-Sex and Candy discography might just be for you. And I know lots of people think Jay Mascus is some sort of indie god or something, but you know what? Screw him. Screw him and his stupid hat. If I want to listen to someone mumble in their sleep over a bunch of major chords I’ll buy a Dylan record. If you want some good-time songs with a post-grunge sound, you could do a lot worse than St. Joe on the Schoolbus or It’s Saturday.
Nom Nom
Speaking of indie rock darlings, Nerf Herder lead singer Parry Gripp runs a song-of-the-week website/YouTube channel where he essentially creates soundtracks for Internet Memes, many of which have turned into viral sensations themselves. One of his latest creations is making the rounds like crazy lately, and although I’m sure to be sick of it tomorrow -– it’s kinda hard to deny the mega-joules of cute that are literally pouring off of this thing. What’s worse, on more than one occasion I’ve caught myself sort of singing it as I munch through the daily salads that have become a part of my latest health food/exercise kick. Despite the fact that I probably sound like a moron singing the thing, I have to admit that it does make a pretty effective soundtrack when trying to power through a stalk of broccoli.
out in
the Dark
I used to have a roommate named Ted. Ted couldn't cook. Ted couldn't cook for shit. But like all roommate situations, there came a point where everyone else in the house got sick of Ted skipping out on things the rest of us had to do -- and one day after we brought down the gauntlet on him Ted agreed to cook us dinner. This was back in college, so Ted went for one of the basic food groups as his first offering -- Kraft Mac and Cheese. We all came home from class to find Ted beaming over his creation, and being hungry college boys we dug in without question, only to find the results foul-tasting and wrong. We asked Ted how he could possibly screw up something as simple as box Macaroni and Cheese, and he seemed flabbergasted. "I followed the instructions perfectly!" he said, but then quickly added "except we were out of milk, so I used some of that nonfat coffee creamer instead." My apartment complex is kinda like that sometimes. After a long time of not having one, they proudly announced the opening of on-site gym facilities. People eagerly flocked to the designated space and discovered a series of treadmills and weightlifting equipment. One little problem though -- the room hasn't been wired for electricity yet, so there are no lights. It's a convenient place to work out before the sun goes down, but after that it's pretty much worthless. I'm sure it will be fixed soon, but until then all I can really say is, "You know what, Ted? Maybe you shouldn't really be cooking after all."
I don't know -- it was ok. The 3D was really cool (I guess this movie is the trial run for a new process or something) -- but the odd thing about it was that they basically got the formula backwards. Most successful kids movies have this trick they play where in amongst the kid-friendly plotline and character arcs there are sly little jokes aimed at the adults in the room -- Things that the kids themselves aren't probably even aware that they're missing. In contrast, Monsters vs. Aliens was essentially two hours of jokes aimed at mom and dad with a couple of slapstick jokes, Seth Rogan one-liners, and bright flashy colors tossed in for the little ones. Or to put it another way -- I enjoy it just as much as the next guy when Stephen Colbert takes multiple shots at typical Presidential behavior in the face of a crisis -- but I'm pretty sure most of it flew right over my 8 year-old's head. Although my son did say he liked it -- the simple fact is that he hasn't asked for a single movie-related toy from it since, which in my mind is basically a kiss of death review.
This is seriously cool. It's a website that lets you type in lines of text that are then incorporated directly into a short film featuring animated characters. Obviously there are some limitations to the thing in terms of character movement and getting the computer-generated voices to enunciate the lines exactly the way you want them too, but if you're willing to accept that -- you can basically get these cute little animals to say anything you want them too.

[Listening to:  Dry Kill Logic - "Kingdom of the Blind" ]

Thursday, April 2

Chalky Loves to Ski

I've pretty much got no words to offer in defense here -- except that if the dancing hottie in the red shirt is supposed to be some kind of a problem, then I whole-heartedly call dibs and offer my services in the name of solving it.

[Listening to:  Flaw - "Payback" ]

Wednesday, April 1

Pastor of Muppets

His toy box is bigger than my guitar amp. I hate to sound selfish, but that's not really the way I ever envisioned things working out. Still -- there's surprisingly enough room for both of them in this place, even if I really haven't had much of a chance to play a chord or scale since he moved in.
I tell you one thing though -- this letting him win at all the video games part?
..Yeah, that ain't gonna last much longer.

[Listening to:  Calle 13 - "Electro Movimiento" ]

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