Friday, February 29, 2008

That Thing You Did

I watched the extended version of That Thing You Do! last night. It came out in 1996 and was written and directed by Tom Hanks, who also plays a supporting role as the band manager. I mentioned that I loved this movie to my friend Ed and he said," Of course you do". Yeah, it's pretty much right up my alley, mostly because it's about being in a band playing in a style of music I really like - and the music for the film is actually catchy. Plus it takes place near where I grew up. And it really gets most everything right. There are some goofy moments a la Help/A Hard Day's Night, but overall this is not really a silly movie, though it is a lot of fun. Well, you've probably already seen it by now, so I'll spare you the details. Kudos to you Mr. Hanks, though you're still on my shit list for Forrest Gump.

The extended version gives a lot more background on their Oneder's life in Erie, PA before they hit it big and is marginally entertaining. But the weirdest moment came towards the end when Howie Long made a cameo as Tom Hanks' character's boyfriend. Yes, you heard me right - Tom Hanks and Howie long as a gay couple out for a night on the town.  As a character and plot point, it's all fine with me - but Howie Long?? How random is that? I bet you could win a lot of trivia bets with that info....

My one complaint with the film is that Hanks portrays Jimmy, the lead singer/songwriter, as a selfish jerk. Maybe he needs to act this way to justify the romantic subplot, I don't know. But every time he brings up something in regards to artistic integrity he is almost always undercut and ridiculed. And the thing is, I agree with him every time. He doesn't want to blindly sign a recording contract, he wants assurances that they'll be recording more material soon, he's pissed off when they're dressed up as sailors in a bad B-movie, etc. And he finally walks out on the band when he's told that they will have to record pre-selected covers for their next album, with only one original per side of the record. Shit, I'd walk, too!

In the epilogue, we see that Jimmy ends up recording and producing with a new band (The Heardsmen!) for the label, which actually rings pretty true. Still, I'm not sure why Jimmy is always mocked for trying to be legit and our sympathies are aimed at the live-for-today philosophies of Steve Zahn's character. As if he knows that this is just a one-hit wonder, it's not serious, so why worry about credibility. It would be cool to do a remake of this movie set in Olympia, Washington in the indie-cred obsessed 90's....

Thursday, February 28, 2008


Our friends Jodi and Kenny just delivered their twins today. A big welcome to Casey and Jane. I know they were just born today, but it's not too early to start thinking about their future, right?

Actually, Kenny and I have shared many a laugh over the sheer idiocy of that commercial and the whole cheesy metal guy "twins" thing. In fact, I really can't mention the twins without using that fake Eddie Vedder/faux-grunge voice. "The twiiinnnnnssss". It's fun - try it! Funness enhanced by making devil signs with both hands.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Fear Defined

The older one gets, the easier it is to become afraid of things. It’s a strange progression. The years pass by and no matter the more experience you earn, the more “answers” you have, the better you become at spotting trouble before it arrives, you also arrive at the horrible conclusion that it’s only through sheer luck that you’re even alive.

Some people thrive on fear. It’s mostly a domain of the young though. Note the huge box office success of slasher crap movies out there. Though Mrs. Crustodio loves that shit, I can’t imagine sitting through an hour and a half of teens getting tortured, cut, maimed and killed. Seriously – why would anyone want to watch that?

Extreme sports? Only the most insane "older" person finds themselves digging that scene. Tony Hawk – I tip my hat to you. Hell, with my knees I’m wary of skiing the beginner hill.

Heights? Used to love ‘em. When I was a kid, I’d always be looking to climb to the top of a tree, water tower – I even spent a couple of years doing serious rock climbing. Now I get on a long-ass ladder to do a little home repair and I’m leaving a wee bit of urine in my Levis.

None of the above though compares with what I’m about to go through. What we’re about to go through as a family. No – everyone is in great health, thank you. I don’t even want to think about that kind of situation. That tops the list, for sure. But in regards to what lies ahead in the immediate future, I have come to the conclusion that my balls will be hiding up in my body for the next several years – and that a good night’s sleep will achieve the status of legend.

Yes, we have finally approached this frightening situation with Crustodio Jr.

Pray for us.

Back from the Brink

In what I'm certain will always be a recurring theme, I want to send out a big thank you to Mr. Best for continuing to post while I went through a couple weeks of work insanity. Trips to the Inland Empire, late nights working on a big pitch, and a cold that sidelined me for a day all conspired to keep me away from the Graffiti Table.

But Pete? Yank some teeth out of his head and he's typing away with the help of painkillers.

Speaking of - shouldn't you be sharing those?

Friday, February 22, 2008

I survived...

So far, so good. I'm home on the couch in a percocet haze after this morning's oral surgery. Lower lip and tongue are slowly becoming less numb and I'm not bleeding too badly. My face is really swollen and the pain gets bad before the next round of painkillers, but I'm not too miserable at this point. Special thanks to Mrs. Best for excellent pampering and support. I kind of snapped out of my high anxiety when the 10 year-old girl sitting across from me in the waiting room seemed so blase about the whole thing. Way to show me up, punk.

UPDATE: My face is so swollen, I look like I am wearing an Eddie Murphy-style fat suit. Very freaky...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Bad news for Crustodio

An article in the Times today proclaims that Most Americans Are Giving Up Golf. Apparently, golf is in a bit of a recession and... yawn.... it's..... yawn.... uh, wait what was I saying? Ok, golf, yes. So, there was this article... about golf... yawn... and it's.. it's... it's... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I wish I had seen these shows...

Wilco, America's greatest rock band, recently played a residency in Chicago where they performed their entire recorded catalog over 5 shows. To keep it even more interesting, they mixed up the set lists so they weren't playing the albums in sequence.

Due to a (now sadly lapsed) friendship with bassist John Stirrat I've followed the band since before their formation. I still have the pre-lease cassette of A.M., their first album, that Stirrat gave me when we both still lived in New Orleans. I'm not sure what the future of Wilco will bring, much like Radiohead every new album is either a huge growth or a move to a new sound. But, I have to say, it seems to me they peaked with Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Both A Ghost is Born and Sky Blue Sky have been letdowns to me. I still love Summerteeth the best, and prefer the earlier stuff in general.

Thanks, Popcandy.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The polar opposite of Patti Page

My old friend (and House Levelers drummer) Sterling just sent me an old video tape of a tv show the Levelers did in 1990. I barely remember doing this, but it's been a blast to watch. We were playing in Norman, Oklahoma (home of the Flaming Lips) and some University of Oklahoma journalism students filmed us for a tv show called Upclose. The tape has the whole program and then all the raw footage. Pretty primitive stuff, so I'll spare you the boring material. Here's a 7 minute interview with the band when we were just starting out and still liked each other. Just kidding - the real malaise didn't set in till 1992 or so.

It's weird to see yourself on film when you're much younger. So fresh-faced and skinny, with lots of hair. Kind of depressing, actually. It's fun to see Grayson with short hair and being goofy, so unlike his more recent serious blues poet persona. I remember when I first met him I thought he was like this total surfer guy. But now he kind of reminds me of Brett Farve. I think they grew up in the same area of the Gulf coast.

And Sterling was already such a bright, funny, articulate guy. It's odd - when I was young I thought I'd always be meeting and hanging out with really smart, witty people that I'd have tons in common with, that they would be everywhere. As it turns out, they're not as common as I thought they'd be. I've been lucky to find friends like that in Portland, but it certainly makes me continually value my friends from the old days in Ohio and New Orleans. Anyway, check out the clip if you want - highlights include Sterling's impression of a drunken fan, me stating my preferences for bathing and Grayson's not-quite-believable claim that he loves sharing our company. But the guy who introduces the program may be my favorite part of the whole thing...

Saturday, February 16, 2008

"I think I've been ripped off, dude!"

Well, kudos to Tom Scholz of AOR legends Boston for telling Mike Huckabee to stop using his music in campaign appearances.

"Boston has never endorsed a political candidate, and with all due respect, would not start by endorsing a candidate who is the polar opposite of most everything Boston stands for," wrote Scholz, adding that he is supporting Democratic Sen. Barack Obama. "By using my song, and my band's name Boston, you have taken something of mine and used it to promote ideas to which I am opposed. In other words, I think I've been ripped off, dude!"

He also recommends that Huckabee "stick to music recorded by far-right Republicans." Ted Nugent - I hope you're paying attention...

I admit I enjoy a little Boston now and again. Their music is the epitome of corporate classic rock, but they do it really well. Wikipedia says that "according to a poll conducted by British music magazine Q, "More Than a Feeling" is #2 of pop songs that respondents were too embarrassed to admit that they liked." Plus, I spent hours as a teenager learning how to play More Than a Feeling. Apparently, so did Kurt Cobain:

"Comparisons between the song have been made to Nirvana's 1991 hit "Smells Like Teen Spirit". Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain even noted the similarity. And during a live performance of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" at the Reading Festival in 1992, bassist Krist Novoselic sang the chorus of "More Than A Feeling" as a statement that the band were tired of playing it live."

Friday, February 15, 2008

Feeling Kinky today

Great article on the Kinks today on the AV Club. This is the type of thing that will make me go on a Kinks listening binge for the weekend. All this primed by Crustodio and I enjoying the Village Green Preservation Society album while in Mexico.

Here are 2 very cool clips from the article. The first is a 1969 performance of Days, probably my favorite Kinks song. This is amusing, because not only are they clearly lip syncing the song, but the song is from 1966. Three years may not seem like much, but in the 60's it was the difference between I Want to Hold Your Hand and Strawberry Fields Forever. Light years apart.

The 2nd clip is of Sunny Afternoon, and a clear example of the Kinks' beautiful perverted career. These guys did almost everything wrong that they could. During the late 60's hard rock blooze phase they recorded whimsical pastoral albums about village greens, china cups and virginity. In the mid-60's at the height of the British invasion they got themselves banned from America. And in the early 70's they recorded a string of bizarre and totally uncool theatrical concept albums. And in this clip for Sunny Afternoon they are filmed in the middle of winter on a snowy field. Cheers, lads! God save the Kinks.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

New soul food mecca in the 'hood??

Hmm, another food post? I guess that's a good sign, considering I've been sick all this week - I must be getting my appetite and taste buds back. I just read a review in Willamette Week on Izogie's, a new restaurant in my Woodlawn neighborhood. It's kind of in a weird location and I had heard bad things about the previous occupant, so I wasn't that excited about checking it out. Plus, every time I pass by it is empty, which is never a good sign. I even commented to a friend how bad that made me feel, to see someone open up a new place and just have it sit empty. Not bad enough to go in myself, but you know what I mean.

But, I read in the review that the chef is Jewel Thomas, formerly of Doris' Cafe - which has been closed for a few years, but was the best soul food restaurant I've been to in Portland. This is very good news, since I've really missed my good soul food and Southern cooking since moving up here from New Orleans. I plan to check it out this weekend. Anyone up for dinner?

The 20 Worst Foods in America

Cheese fries, dear God, not cheese fries! Bad news for me, I guess, as Men's Health shows us the most insanely caloriffic meals out there. Luckily I don't eat at fast food restaurants much, but still this list is scary. Seems like there should be some warning on any one meal that equals your recommended daily caloric intake.

Thanks, Blogtown PDX.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Dream is Over

Vacation has officially ended. I'm back. I'm ready to work. And to make amends.

Thanks, Defamer

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

What day is it?

Ah, vacation. Where one day blissfully fades into the next. I guess today is the halfway point. Day 4 of our full 6 days in Mexico....

What to tell you? We had a delicious paella last night. After dinner we built a fire on the beach, firewood and coconut husk kindling kindly provided by Eduardo, our excellent caretaker. Earlier in the day we walked across town to Playa de Los Muertos (the beach of the dead), so named because you have to walk through a cemetary to get to it. The picture above is from one of above-ground graves dotting the hillside.

The food here has been overwhelming excellent, from a nice sit-down restaurant to a shack on the beach, and the guacamole is always fantastic. Booze is easy to come by and cheap. Yesterday evening was spent drinking hurricanes, in honor of Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras seemed to make no impression on the streets of Sayulita, but we still wore carnival beads to dinner, like good turista dorks.

We continue to explore the town and discover new restaurants and stores. We scored some really cool handmade Mexican wall hangings that will soon grace the walls of Casa Best in Portland. We have internet at the house, but I've had trouble getting a good signal, so this morning I am sitting in a small cafe enjoying their free WiFi along with some good coffee and huevos rancheros. It's sunny out, and I'm sitting on a covered balcony with colorful walls, native artwork and potted palm plants. There's a nice breeze keeping me cool as I watch the beat-up and dusty cars clump from one pothole to the next on the unpaved streets. It pretty much rules.

Life moves at it's own eccentric pace here and takes a bit of getting used to, as Crustodio slowly discovered. Not that I'm any less impatient, but I have one previous trip to Mexico under my belt, so I'm a little more used to the slowness. I think this picture illustrates the Mexican idea of service pretty well. "Ask at office with MEGAN or look for HECTOR". Well, I'm off to look for Hector, metaphorically speaking...

I am worried

I enjoyed a taste of "Mexican Aspirin" last night (a combination of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine) and now I read that that's exactly what killed Heath Ledger. Great. Next I'll get sick from drinking the tap water.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

No Habla Espanol

One of the major downsides of watching the Super Bowl in Spanish (Hell no, this ain't a complaint - unless my beloved Browns are vying for the Lombardi trophy, I'll take the sun and surf any freakin' Super Bowl Sunday), is that we missed the much-anticipated commercials.

We did see a ton of Mexican ads. Surprising to me was the very small number of commercials that were simply re-makes or dubbed versions of U.S. ads. All beers and margaritas aside, I recall that the most prevalent advertisements were all part a bizarre "live" campaign for some sort of fruit juice. Each one featured a Latina hottie and a very white-looking dude reporting about this juice. Often they would be surrounded by civilians wearing t-shirts with a Mitsubishi logo. Don't ask. No habla espanol.

Thanks to the glory of the Internets and a wireless connection at the compound, I was able to catch up on all of the ads I missed. Some were fun, but color me underwhelmed.

Then lo and behold, the geniuses of Miller High Life came through with this:

I've always admired this campaign. And how long do you think before our favorite beer dude is starring in his own sitcom on one of the lesser networks?

Monday, February 04, 2008

Stupor Bowl, part dos

After lunch we sussed out a few football viewing locations before we settled on the Buddah Bar. Mostly because it was practically empty and we could sit 5 feet from the flatscreen tv. The place had the vibe of an upscale DJ dance bar for ecstasy-eating hippies, but for the next 4 hours it was magically transformed into a good old American sports bar. With sushi.

We sat next to Allan at the bar, a nice and gregarious guy from South Africa, with an impressive knowledge of football. Although Don Pedro's was packed for the Super Bowl down the street, we pretty much had this place to ourselves. We were outnumbered by the staff, but they were all very friendly and intent on getting us hammered. The tv commentary was all in Spanish, so you'd hear "spanishspanishspanishspanishspanishspanish Eli Manning spanishspanishspanishspanishspanish" and "spanishspanishspanishspanish Plaxico Burress spanishspanishspanish". It was pretty funny.

I had a bet going on with the Football Buddies back home and I stood to win big if the Patriots prevailed. This was actually one of the best Super Bowls in many years, and I didn't really begrudge the Giants' victory. I guess I always side with the underdog, even if I have money riding on it.

We also had the annual Half Time Show side bet, where we wager on what songs the act will play and in what order. As a huge Tom Petty fan, I thought I had this locked up but I went for Refugee over Running Down a Dream. Oh, well. Back in PDX, the Sizzler nailed it perfectly.

I was sort of surprised by the amount of football fever in Sayulita, but I guess with so many American turistas in town, you can't ignore the big game. We also saw some interesting football merch for sale. Here is a Packers poncho on display next to some Mexican wrestling masks. Beats a friggin' cheesehead any day.

Stupor Bowl

It all began innocently enough, with lunch at a tiny restaurant in the town square of Sayulita. They did not serve beer, so as the custom dictates, Best and Crustodio ran down to the corner store to get our drink on, and came back with several Coronas to go with our quesedillas and fish tacos.

It went downhill from there. Or, really, uphill. To greatness.

I'll let Mr. Best take the podium now, as his iPhone is ready for upload.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Gooood Morning Sayulita!

The Graffiti Table Foreign Bureau is up and in operation. Minor technical difficulties are delaying our correspondents from posting original photos, but we're hoping to clear that up soon.

After a long flight (The Crustodios cashed in on some mileage for first class, while the Bests kept the commoners company), a long and unorganized wait at customs, a long wait for our taxi, a short trip to the Mega Store, and a long ride through rural - and not so rural areas - we made it to our destination.

Time was still on our side as we still could enjoy a sunset, an adult beverage or three, and dinner at a little restaurant right on the beach. Entertainment included a tiny stray cat, loud wave crashing, plus a guitarist/singer who threw down a mean "My Way" in Spanish.

Though sadly, much to the consternation of a slightly-buzzed Mr. Best, he did not have any CCR in his repertoire.