Thursday, June 26, 2008

Not bad

There have been a ton of videos out there like this one, but hey, pretty nice execution here.

Totally 80's

Crustodio and I are gearing up for our "college buddies" reunion, which is a week from today. This will be the third time we've gotten together with the same crew since 2000. In 2004 we spent a long weekend on a houseboat on Lake Mead. That was really cool, but actually ended up being more of an adventure than we had planned for. This year, we are all about comfort and ease, so we are staying at our buddy Brad's large house in L.A.

In preparation, I've been working on expanding my already large 80's music collection. I've been searching for digital versions of a few albums in my collection that I only have on vinyl. I think I have pretty good taste in music, and I obsessively keep up with all the new hip stuff. Actually, a co-worker tried to turn me on to the Fleet Foxes last week, but I had to smugly remind him that I had already tried to fob them off on him the week before. But, the stuff that's been trickling in lately is definitely not hip or current and probably not that "good" either - but I love it anyway.

First was The Knife Feels Like Justice, the first solo album from the Stray Cats' Brian Setzer. This 1986 album was a surprising move away from rockabilly to a more roots-rock sound. It was produced by Don Gehman, who was the hot rootsy guitar rock producer of the day, also responsible for John Mellencamp's Scarecrow and R.E.M.'s Lifes Rich Pageant. The first half (or "side 1" as we used to say back in the day) of the record is absolutely solid, but the second half kind of peters out.

Next up was Joe Jackson's Big World album. I was a big Joe fan for the start of his career, but I felt that this was his last really good album. I think I got the next 2, but they were pretty disappointing. Big World was recorded live before an audience that not only didn't know the material, but were asked to refrain from applause! Ah, Joe, always up to something new. Still, it paid off, since it has a really unique feel and some great songs.

Originally it was released as a 3-sided album - there were 2 records, but side 4 was blank. I guess he had too much good stuff for one record and not enough for a true double album. That's one of the curses of the CD age. Everybody thinks they need to fill up 74 minutes of music. Hey rockers, guess what? You DO NOT have that much good material. All the great double albums of the past easily fit on one disc now, and even with those classics there's still filler. I'd rather have a solid 35 minute record, than a hit or miss hour long snoozefest. So, thank you R.E.M. for bringing brevity back.

This reminds me of my one Joe Jackson anecdote, which I will have to tell in a different post or this will never get done. So stay tuned for that one.

Third to arrive was the Tubes' Love Bomb. This was the last album recorded with the original line up, and their second with Todd Rundgren as producer. I can't wholeheartedly recommend this album, as it is pretty dated sounding and has the sort of lame Philly soul/keyboard cheese that Rundgren brought to his own wretched solo albums. Also, lead singer Fee Waybill was apparently feuding with some of the other band members and he doesn't sing lead on all the tracks, much to their detriment. Still, it is a pretty cool record for one reason. Side 2 is a seamless string of music which incorporates 9 different songs, including reprises, much like side 2 of Abbey Road. They are linked together by the drums, which basically play straight through for 25 minutes. Yah for Prairie Prince! Some of the songs are full-length and some are snippets, including a goof where they play "Wooly Bully" in one channel and "Theme from A Summer Place" in the other. Amazingly, it works. So, not a great one, but still enjoyable.

Last night I finally got the last one: Steady Nerves by Graham Parker & the Shot. Like Big World, this one still stands up, though it's slightly marred by bad 80's production. Parker's career has had many ups and downs and lots of record label fights. This was the start of his second classic period, soon to be followed up by the excellent Mona Lisa's Sister. He was still working with Brinsley Schwartz from the Rumour, but for this album he came up with a new backing band name. He never used the Shot again, and I think he's billed himself as a solo act since. In any case, this is by far his most catchy and poppy record, yet his lyrics are as biting as ever. A great combination. It also features his only Top 40 hit, "Wake Up (Next to You)".

The interesting thing has been how my brain responds to this music. Most of this stuff I really haven't heard for 20 years and not at all since my iTunes revolution of 2002. On the first listen it 's like discovering it all over again, but by the third listen it's like my brain finally catches up and I'm sort of sick of it. I think I'm overdosing on this 80's stuff. By the time I get back from the reunion I won't want to listen to any of this shit again for a year.

And so it begins

Spanish parliament to extend rights to apes.

If one of the chimps at the Spain zoo starts talking, quietly kill it. Seriously.

Thanks, Joe

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Equal Time Deserved

In response to this post drooling all over my man crush, it's only fair that this point of view should be recognized as well.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A tiny eulogy for the ultimate contrarian




This, my friends, is a huge loss. Lenny Bruce opened the door and George jumped in. God love him. Oh wait, George isn't on the believe wagon. I love that.

I'll tell ya the truth. In the last few years, George lost a tiny edge. Not his delivery. Not his timing. To me, he sacrificed not-bad people for the joke more often than I would have liked. He had better aim before.

But he sure gave a big FU to the people that needed it too.

And there's the key. I disagreed often with George recently, but when a man loves the language so very much, then one must applaud.

And when that voice flips off the enemy - in front a huge audience - that voice demands admiration.

Lastly, let's tell the truth here. Losing George means we're all getting old. And that..while we can embrace it from time to

Good night, vulgarian/contrarian

Sleep well.

Time marches on

Five points to the first commenter with the name of this man.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A legend goes on sabbatical

Pete, stop reading now. This may be your least favorite subject ever, after real-life witches and cock tattoos.

As everyone knows by now, Tiger Woods is out for the rest of the year. Sure, it's no tragedy, but the news truly sucks. I wasn't into golf enough when I was little, so I never really followed Jack's amazing career. Thankfully I did catch the miracle of '86, and that was all I needed to become a golf fan.

Tiger is Michael Jordan, Jim Brown, Wayne Gretzky, Babe Ruth. He's changed the game in so many ways - and we're lucky enough to witness sports history as it happens.

His performance over last weekend already reached an instant-classic status, and now it will be legendary. Five days of golf, 91 holes, on a knee recovering from surgery, an additional ligament tear and TWO stress fractures in his leg. And he won the freakin' US Open. His 14th major. Only five more to go to beat Jack.

Let's hope his legs comes back strong and that he can meet his destiny. I've been watching and waiting for over ten years now, and I can't wait to be a witness.

By the way, I do have that final playoff round sitting in my DVR. I may never erase it.

Something that sounds like a Jesus Jones B-side

9 tracks from Guns N" Roses long, long, long-awaited Chinese Democracy leaked yesterday, and the reviews are not good. The history of this album is so absurd, I can't believe it hasn't been captured on a reality tv series. You know you're in bad shape when a major softdrink company offers to give free drinks to everyone in America if your album is released after 14 years in the making. I wish A-1 would send everyone in America a free bottle of steak sauce if Crustodio would finally pay me the $11.83 he owes me from our 1986 power bill.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Potentially Good Movie Ahead

Looks like Full Grown Men is getting a lot of buzz before it's limited release next week.

With a talent-ridden cast that includes Judah Friedlander, Alan Cumming, Amy Sedaris and Debbie Harry, the hype may be real. In addition to the trailer on the official site, Apple has a second version that looks like it was cut to be a little more mainstream.

These outtakes from an Amy Sedaris scene give me hope that it could turn out to be an instant classic.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

For the Theater major in all of us...

Hamlet 2, the upcoming film with the brilliant actor Steve Coogan, looks pretty great. Or, at least seems to have good potential, judging from the trailer. There's something inherently funny about high school theater, and Crustodio and I should know, since we were both drama geeks....

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A sweet & sexy diversion

Hi Graffiti Table. How was your day? Look, we can't lie anymore. We've been through a lot together and I have to tell you the truth. We've found a younger & prettier thing to hang around with for a while.

Yo blog, don't get all crazy about it. Shit happens. And it's not all our fault, you know. It's not like you're perfect, so get off your fucking high horse.

Twitter doesn't nag us. Doesn't wonder where we've been. Never complains if we don't have much to say.

And when we want satisfaction, Twitter is always there. And the issue of "commitment" never comes up. 140 characters or less. That's like a blog's version of a nooner.

Don't worry Graffiti Table. Truth is, we still love you. Just let us have our mid-Internet-life crisis and we'll come crawling back eventually. When that time comes, I'd rather we all just pretend it never happened.

We love Twitter, but we're not in love with Twitter, you know? You're still our favorite online bitch, I promise.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Late to the party

I’ve never exactly been on the ball when it comes to finding incredible music. I rely on Pete a lot for that. So, this morning, I was totally floored by a documentary I just finished watching, The Devil and Daniel Johnston. It’s won awards, did the Sundance thing…the whole shebang.

Um…wow. How come you never told me about this dude, Pete?

The movie is simply compelling. It tells the story of Daniel Johnston, a manic-depressive musician who’s self-destructive behavior – including an epic battle in his mind against the devil – almost destroys any chance of his art reaching an audience.

The film is an unflinching look at a very disturbed man, but told with a beautiful embrace of compassion. The director is very obviously a fan. This isn’t a detriment to the story, but rather necessary. In the hands of the wrong person, it could have ended up very heavy-handed and without much of a heart.

And his music...jesus.

If, by chance, you’ve never heard of Daniel – just as I hadn’t – you’ll be glad I’m not sharing much more than this.

Find this movie on cable like I did, or go rent it. Whatever it takes.

I think it would be impossible for any type of artist to walk away from this without a pocketful of questions about their own journey.

I have to go buy some music now.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


From always entertaining Mr. Baldwin of Defective Yeti

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Too true

Hey, Look - a great article by Simon Rich in The New Yorker pokes a brilliant finger at the insecurities of our youth. "What I imagined the people around me were saying when I was..."

Particularly wonderful example:


“Hey, look, that thirteen-year-old is walking around with his mom!”


“There—in front of the supermarket!”

“Oh, my God! That kid is way too old to be hanging out with his mom. Even though I’ve never met him, I can tell he’s a complete loser.”

“Wait a minute. He’s scowling at her and rolling his eyes.”

“Oh, yeah . . . and I think I just heard him curse at her, for no reason.”

“I guess he’s cool after all.”

My contribution:

"Hey, look, that 15-year old kid is putting his hand really close to that 15-year old girl's hand. She'll notice and hold his hand for sure. The way she doesn't put her hand back in her pocket is soooo obvious. She's asking for it!"

Go on - add one of your own, if you dare.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Joe just kicked me in the Cannonballs

Our buddy Joe at Bite and Smile is not satisfied with being funny and being paid to be funny and being paid to make other people funny. Nope. He has apparently decided that he now wants to conquer the world of Indie rock as well. I view it as a personal attack. Joe, Indie rock is my bailiwick. We all have our little area of the blog world. I write about music and the embarrassing things I do in the bathroom. Crustodio is the guy who posts commercials. And you are the comedy guy with the big serif font and crazy quizzes and the funny make-'em-ups.

But. apparently that's not enough. Now it seems that when Joe isn't teaching at Second City and hanging out with one of the 10 record producers people can mention by name, he's making videos with The Breeders. And he's just so coooool, acting like it's no big deal. I practically had to beg him to spill the beans. You just wait, Joe. Next month I'm hanging out with the original members of the Generic Comedy Troupe*. So suck on that.

*Ok, horrible annoying inside joke. The Generic Comedy Troupe was the improv comedy team that Joe founded in 1982, that also featured Crustodio and myself. Man, we slayed them in Fairborn...