Thursday, January 31, 2008

There Are No Straight Lines in New Orleans

Cool article on about my old friend and former bandmate Grayson Capps. He talks a bit about living in New Orleans and the aftermath of Katrina, and his involvement with the movie A Love Song for Bobby Long. I also like his quote about the early days of our first band:

“I was in a band called the House Levelers,” he explains, “which was actually a bunch of actors acting like musicians. We didn’t know how to play a damn thing, but we knew how to put on a show. It became a question of, do I want to do soap operas, or go to New York and go through the rigmarole of being on Broadway, or do I want to do theater now? I wanted to do theater now, and the most immediate access to that was playing music in bars.”

I had the same idea, at the time. Music seemed like the most immediate way to communicate. I'd think of something, right it down and sing it out the next night. The thought didn't have to go through a writer, actor, director, etc. Straight from my brain to you. The only downside was that I stopped writing anything but songs. I'm glad Crustodio and I decided to start blogging a few years ago. I've really enjoyed getting back into the writing groove. I hope you've enjoyed it, too.

Hug It Out

Take a break. Do it. Come back after watching this and not only will you be comically refreshed, you'll be able to take on the fucking world.

Pop Culture Round-up

Now that football season is ending, I find myself with an extra 8 hours on the weekends in which to enjoy my many interests. Well, all 3 of them: music, movies and reading. I finally caught the flick Once and really enjoyed it. As a musician I've always wanted to see a movie that could actually evoke what it's like to play music. And I'm almost always disappointed. It's always so damn phony. Once is the first movie in a long, long time to get it right. Sure, there are a few moments that stretch believability, but overall they nailed it. I think the key element here is that they cast real musicians in the movie and had them write and sing their own songs. It worked in Altman's Nashville and it works here. Great stuff.

I also enjoyed Cloverfield. Although the MySpace soap opera plotline with the young cast was pretty tiresome, they were at least nice to look at. And really, the special effects more than made up for it. And the concept is brilliant - film a Godzilla movie from the viewpoint of the victim. No hero scientists or military men to save the day or even explain what is going on. There was clearly some eerie moments evocative of 9/11, but I didn't find it nearly as offensive as a Rudy Giuliani speech.

Got some new music, too. Finally heard the Silversun Pickups record, which I got from a friend at work. Sort of an indie-rock Smashing Pumpkins thing going on, with a bit of Voxtrot to boot. I really dig the new MGMT record, which is produced by Dave Fridman, the guy behind those great Flaming Lips records. And I downloaded the new Vampire Weekend record from iTunes today. Yet another bloggy buzz band, but their indie rock take on Graceland (or "Upper West Side Soweto" as they call it) is pretty sweet.

Finally, I've been enjoying watching the AMC series Mad Men for the first time. This is a show Crustodio really should be watching instead of endless hours of golf. And of course, the Wire is just as good as ever. I will be sad to see it end. Oh, and I rented one episode of Unsolved Mysteries;)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Dip

Funny article in the Times about the danger of double-dipping. Timmy was right - it is like sticking your whole mouth in the dip. Timely news, with the Super Bowl coming up this weekend.

It's amazing how many Seinfeld references have become part of daily life. Even though I've seen them all so many times, I can still watch 'em again and again. Last night I caught the one where Jerry dates the masseuse who won't give him a massage, which turns into a parody of the early 90's PC, dating, "no means no" movement. Good stuff.

Art My Ass

Thanks, Pop Candy

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

My Day in the Sun

Ask me about yesterday, and I may have a tough time delivering all of the details. Ask me about a summer day almost 20 years ago, and I may surprise you.

My best guess is that it was sometime in August, probably 1988. I had come out to Washington from Ohio with the hope of running a small theater with a college friend of mine. It didn’t take long for us to run it into the ground.

I was 24.

In the meantime, I figured I could make it as an actor in Seattle. Back then, it was a vibrant time for theater. I even found myself in a workshop auditioning for a casting director – at some tiny bar in Seattle’s Pioneer Square.

She ripped me apart. Told me my headshots sucked. Told me my audition sucked. Just took the life out of me. Imagine my surprise when I got a call two weeks later from her, telling me I had an audition for a TV show.

Of course, I had a real job at the time. I was managing a pretty nice restaurant – again, at age 24.

One evening at this nice waterfront restaurant (and hopping bar) the power went out. No kitchen. No electronic monitoring in the bar – nothing. We tried to keep going as best we could. Even after the owner and the general manager LEFT the 24-year-old in charge (Yes, they were there. They could have saved me.) we tried. Finally, we had to call it a night. No way to count the receipts. No way to know what was left on – from lights and ovens to blenders and TVs. But we had to leave. It was the law. You can’t keep a restaurant going without power.

Did I mention that I was twenty-four? And I that I had my big TV shoot the next day?

So what did I – and the rest of the young, attractive crew from my restaurant do with our early dismissal from work on a weekend night? We partied. Hard. 1988 hard. Let’s just put it this way: I saw the sun come up and I wasn’t tired at all.

So the next day I find myself out at old Boeing Field, south of Seattle, for my big moment in the sun. What follows here is my 5 or 10 seconds of national fame. Never had a moment so big since. Is that sad? Hell no.

I mean, Jesus, look at all that hair – as I take DB Cooper’s ticket. Look at that waistline. I may have had a heinous hangover (plus!), but I was 24 and immortal. I was sure that this was only the beginning.

The best part? Years later at my 10-year high-school reunion, at least 7 classmates told me they saw me. How fucking cool is that?

Going out of business since 1988

It's not hard for me to believe that Sub Pop has now been around for twenty years - what's hard to believe is that they're still a good label. After a bit of a slump, they've bounced back in the last few years with some really good bands, such as The Postal Service, the Shins, Band of Horses and Iron & Wine. This Seattle Times article gives a good rundown on their history and current status. I've always loved their smart ass slogans, like the title of this blog entry above, "Pandering to the locals since..." and the more recent "Podfisting our way to your blog or whatever".

I was working at a record store in New Orleans 20 years ago and one of my friends and co-worker was really into the Sub Pop stuff. He was a member of the Single of the Month club and was always trying to interest me in them, but I wasn't into it. All that grunge shit left me cold (and still does), but I was won over by Nirvana like everyone else in the world a couple years later. I like their roster a hell of a lot more now than I did in their heyday. So, there's that.

Thank, Popcandy for the tip.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Century City's got everything covered

L.A. weekly has a cool article and visuals about Tom Petty's Los Angeles. The article starts out nicely:

There exists in sound a map of Los Angeles, filled with song-lyric street names, neighborhoods, beaches, bars, empty spaces and spaces between spaces. It's a chart that follows more than 30 years in the life and work of Tom Petty, a longtime resident of the city and an undercelebrated rock & roll icon who finally appears to be getting his due.

As you probably know, the Graffiti Table are big TP fans and are particularly excited about his upcoming Super Bowl performance. Especially since we'll be down in Mexico for the big game. Don't hate us.

Thanks to the Sizzler for the tip.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Bigfoot on Mars!

Photographic evidence of Bigfoot on Mars? How fucking cool would that be??

Actually, I think I had that exact daydream in 4th grade. For a long time I tried to convince myself I saw Bigfoot getting into a spaceship in the woods behind our house. I can still see the image in my mind, though I'm pretty sure it didn't happen. I'm something of a Bigfoot expert, you see. You may be familiar with my research from a certain 6th grade science project: Is Bigfoot Real? Despite a grade of B-, I think I created some doubt in the minds of the unbelievers.

The Evil Church

I'm no theologian - far from it - but you will never convince me that this is something Jesus would get behind.

Kansas Baptist Church Intends to Picket Heath Ledger's Funeral Because He Played Gay Character

I know, it's easy to bash these assholes that picket actor's and soldier's funerals. We can't just ignore them though, can we? With the insane amount of hypocrisy in this world, how can these folks even pretend they have any relationship with their God. I can only assume that if their God exists, they'll spend eternity burning right next to Hitler, the 911 "pilots" and Art Modell.

Kenny the Retard Tiger

Found this gem accompanying the article entitled "Photographer Captures America's Best-Kept Secrets"

This is Kenny.

"White Tiger (Kenny), Selective Inbreeding

Simon photographed Kenny, an extremely rare white tiger at the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge and Foundation in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Kenny suffers from mental retardation, as well as walking and breathing problems. In the United States, white tigers are the result of inbreeding during captivity that leads to their white fur and blue eyes. The other tigers in Kenny's litter are knock-kneed and cross-eyed, with yellow coats."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Beyond the pale

In 10 days the Graffiti Table will be flying to Mexico. In a show of mad generosity, the Crustodios have invited the Bests to share their digs in Sayulita. But don't fret, constant reader, there is internet access in our heavily fortified compound - so hopefully, we will still be posting to some extent. But don't expect sobriety.

In preparation for the big trip, Mrs Best and I plopped down some serious money for some pre-emptive tanning. There are parts of my body, particularly the underside of my arms that are so beyond white, that there actually may need to be a new word created to describe it's utter paleness. Much like the Eskimos having 30 different words for snow, Portland residents should have 20 different words for my blinding blue-whiteness.

So in hopes of not frightening the natives and not getting fiercely sunburned on day 1 of our trip, we are hitting the tanning beds. If we can get a decent base tan going, there is the possibility of actually getting some good color and not burning and peeling and burning again.

I feel odd going to the tanning salon, like there is something wrong with me. I don't want to be associated with the kind of people who pay to be tan. It's right up there with paying for $500 jeans or getting botox. I actually look both ways before entering the building - ridiculous, really. Who do I think is going to catch me?

As we left the tanning place yesterday, I remarked to Mrs Best that it was very odd that we were paying good money to alter our appearance, yet we were both appalled at how awful everyone who worked there looked! I've interacted with 3 people there and they all had horrible fake-looking orange tans - these people look like freaks. And we're paying money to use machines that will turn you into that! Well, hopefully the 9 tanning sessions in my package won't make me look like a Los Angeles real estate agent.

I guess that's the danger of working at a tanning salon - free tans. I wonder how the long-term cancer rates of Tan Rio stack up to those of the former residents of Chernobyl.

Uncanny Eddie Murphy prediction from 1988

Eddie picks the Giants over the Pats. Thanks, PopCandy.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Honest to blog.

I have to thank my friend Mr. X for saving me from a horrible night at the movies. From time to time, he'll slip me a dvd of some bootlegged movies, usually ones still in general release. Since we don't get out to the movies much anymore, it's been great to watch flicks like Atonement and American Gangster at home, even though the quality is not really that great. But, hey - it's free.

On Saturday, Mrs. Best mentioned she wanted to see the movie Juno. I was down with the idea, it looked like a fun, quirky Little Miss Sunshine type flick and was on my list of stuff to see. Well, after a day of working around the house, we ended up too unmotivated to head out to see the movie.

So, we were excited to get a new dvd from Mr. X yesterday that contained not only Juno, but There Will Be Blood. After cleaning up the debris from hosting an all-day football buddies NFL playoff viewing, we threw Juno on the dvd player. I lasted about half an hour before I bailed, though Mrs Best watched the whole thing and seemed to enjoy it. I'm very glad we didn't go out to see it in the theater, because I would have been in misery.

I really wanted to like it, but the insufferably arch and sarcastic dialogue irritated me to no end. For example, here's a quote from Gawker that nails it:

"When Juno, the 16-year-old heroine of the movie being marketed hardest to my generation this holiday season, tells her best friend she's pregnant, the friend's first reaction is, "Honest to blog?" CLUNK."

I think that was the exact line where I began to hate the movie. I love "smart" comedies, but this movie just seemed fake and phony. Everything Juno says is smug and precocious and overbearingly self-aware, which is ok, I guess - in small doses. But don't make everyone in the movie talk and act the same way! Juno says "funny" and quirky things in a monotone - and so does her dad, stepmom, boyfriend, boyfriend's friend, girlfriend, clinic receptionist, adopting couple, convenience store clerk - it's just endless glib and fake lines spoken by every actor in the movie.

Screenwriter Diablo Cody has an interesting backstory and she's obviously talented, but she needs to stop trying to impress us with how damn clever she is with every spoken line. Hopefully, she will gain some maturity as a writer, because there is some promise there.

I did like the soundtrack.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

R.I.P. Magilla

A moment of silence please for the passing of Allan Melvin, the voice of Magilla Gorilla. More will remember Allan as Sam the Butcher on The Brady Bunch, but I prefer to laud him for his starring role.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


A few years ago, the firm I work for was split into 2 small offices - one in Portland and one in Chicago. The Chicago folks eventually moved to Portland and we consolidated the company here. There was one part-time guy who didn't make the move from Chicago and his name was Joe Swanberg. Though I've never met Joe we did talk on the phone and IM a bit, and he seemed to be a really cool guy. In the last few years Joe has become one of the leading lights of a new film movement called mumblecore, which "uses handheld video, improvised plot lines and episodic story structures to express a new idiom for life as a 20-something." Sweet.

Recently around the office we'd often say things like, "Hey, did you see Joe in the New York Times?" or "Wow, there's an article about Joe in Rolling Stone", etc. It's been exciting to see his name appear in more and more mainstream publications, especially after the release of his last film Hannah Takes the Stairs (you can save it on Netflix, not available yet). I am a massive lame-o and have never actually seen any of his stuff. We had a copy of his first movie in the office for years, but I never got around to watching it - mainly because I didn't want to watch the scene where Joe beats off in the shower.

Anyway, he has a new "Phillip Marlow-esque detective web series" called Butterknife coming out this month. The trailer is below. Looks pretty fun.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The right name for the right product

In this business, you can spend a lot of time naming a new product. Finding just the right moniker can be a laborious process, including working in several languages and fighting the legal department.

Or you can just think one up in 30 seconds and hope it works out for the best.

Thanks, American Copywriter

Friday, January 11, 2008

Happy birthday, Crustodio!

May the squirrel of good cheer never again shit on your flannel shirt.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Girls Rock!

Here's the trailer for Girls Rock!, a new documentary about Portland's Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls. I've heard many good things about this camp over the years, and lobbied my sister to send her oldest daughter there one summer, but it never happened.

I love the idea of this camp, young girls really do need a boost to get into the mindset that they can play in a band. I was lucky enough to play with women in 4 different bands. The only difference between playing with women instead of men is that there is less public farting in the practice space - and that is a good thing. And I'm not talking about having the token cute chick bass player, these ladies were singing and writing and playing lead guitar. At the time, I never gave it a second thought, but I realized later that it was extremely ballsy (so to speak) of them to even be in a band. So kudos, ladies...

Thanks to PopCandy for the tip.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Ron is Wrong

Like many other liberals, I was really impressed by some of Ron Paul's debate footage. The way he took the other candidates to task about the war was thrilling. I thought, hey for a Republican, he's not too bad.

I was wrong.

Even for a Republican, he is really fucking bad. The Sizzler's been keeping me informed on the many, many skeletons in Paul's closet.

Check out this article about his long history of anti-black/semetic/queer biases. After you read it, you may wonder like I did - how the hell is this not headline news??

UPDATE 12/10/08: Well, I finally got my headline!

Second Story

Our buddy Ric has a hilarious (and free) podcast available. Click here and it will open in iTunes. He will regale you with tales of his rollerskating youth...

A dream for the adolescent Pete Best

With stuff like this online, I can only assume it's a good thing the Internet didn't exist when Mr. Best roamed the halls of Junior High. He would have missed every class.

Monday, January 07, 2008

I'm guessing you can't buy Mullholland Drive on iTunes

4 guys 2 cups

1 - featuring our bestest buddy Joe Janes of Bite and Smile and Don Hall

2 - featuring John Mayer and Sherrod Small

Sunday, January 06, 2008

I'm Wired

Excitement is running high in the Best household for the fifth (and final) season premiere of The Wire. As the saying goes, you're either a huge fan of The Wire or you haven't seen it. I've successfully made Wire-fiends out of several friends. Once you start watching you are hooked forever. Not just a cop show, it explores the drug wars, education, unions, politics and in this season, the news media.

Series creator David Simon is my hero. From Wikikpedia:

David Simon (born 1960) is an American author, journalist, and writer/producer of television series. He worked for the Baltimore Sun City Desk for twelve years. He wrote the books Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets and The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood. The former was the basis for the NBC series Homicide: Life on the Street, on which Simon served as a writer and producer. Simon adapted the latter into the Emmy-award winning HBO mini-series The Corner. He is also the creator, show runner, executive producer and head writer of the critically acclaimed original HBO series The Wire.

Although Simon wasn't involved with Homicide: Life on the Street that much (Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana were the main guys), it got me interested in his work and I quickly read the book, which I found to be stunningly good. This was the show that got me interested in television again, after I had given up on it for several years. Featuring a great cast, including the amazing Andre Braugher, plus Yaphet Kotto, Ned Beatty and, of course, Richard Belzer. So, when I heard about a new series of his appearing on HBO, I was a quick convert.

Since The Wire is so complex and layered, I'm not sure how Season Five will play for a new viewer. It may be too complicated, but I have a feeling that the great writing and acting will pull you in regardless.

And for veteran fans of the show, HBO has posted some brief video vignettes with some character back stories here. Enjoy!

UPDATE: Check out the great blogging on The Wire (and every other TV show) at the Onion AV Club.