Thursday, February 28, 2008

Four Years in One Gulp

Since March 1st this year falls on a weekend (when I normally don't blog), I figured I'd share some thoughts and reflections about the four years it's taken to finish Post. I'm currently on page 137 out of 212 on the "read-aloud" final edit. Once that's done, it's off to the printer . . .

Why did it take four years? I have plenty of reasons.

First of all, when I started writing, I really had to learn how to write from scratch. Sure, I had written quite a few research papers, critiques and scripts for school, but they don't technically count. I had to find a voice and a writing style that I was comfortable with. Run-on sentences may be easy to write, but they're really hard to read over and over again.

Secondly, after doing a few interviews and getting in contact with more people, I wanted to interview as many people as possible. Since a certain book I loathe seemed to skimp on getting much from the band members themselves, I wanted to take my time with this. Back when I reached a frustrating now-or-never point almost two years ago, I lucked into interviews with certain people I never thought I'd interview. Not to imply they were difficult people, but tracking them down and getting them on the phone was a test of persistence. When they were very friendly for the interview, it made all the difference. When I transcribed quotes from the interviews, I realized how much it was worth it.

Third, this has always been something I've done in my free time. I've had plenty of free time over the last few years, so I figured I'd do something productive. But it's not something I could devote all my free time to. The Stephen King adage -- let your life dictate your art, not the other way around -- definitely applies here.

Lastly, the past year has been a number of edits and a search for a publisher. That step has been a journey itself, something I hope to write about further down the line.

So, that's been the past four years in a nutshell. Again, I appreciate the patience.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Massacre Went Well

Still thinking about Brian Lowry's article in Variety about the prevalent mob mentality on the Internet, I've come up with something that has slowly helped me understand the nasty, negative vibes. I figured I'd share it here on the Internet, but I think it's better used in person.

Make no mistake, no matter how much I say that negative, anonymous comments don't really carry much editorial weight, they can sting. As someone who stands by the Bruce Campbell attitude about people who send him nice compliments in e-mail form (Someone actually took time out of his or hers day to write and send me this? Cool!), I also am struck by the negative version as well (Someone actually took time out of his or hers day to write and send me this? Whoah, this kinda sucks.).

My solution (aka, the solution that's been working for me) is this: imagine if such an ugly exchange of words were to really happen in person. Would it really be that negative? Chances are it wouldn't be as heated because we're not visualizing the conversation in our heads. Reading by ourselves, we can totally take things the wrong way from their original intention. Plus, the tone of voice is too often lost when words are written over when they are spoken. So, if someone were to rip into me because I don't like Panic! At the Disco as much as him or her, chances are good the person would not really tell me in person to commit an act of self-sodomy with a ten foot pole. If he or she did, the person probably-most-definitely would not really mean it.

Still, people find refuge in spilling their misery into rips, taunts and terse lectures on the Internet. It's the kind of stuff that people tend to downplay in later years, almost always shrugging it off as underlying anger about stuff that had nothing really to do with the conversation itself or the person. Well, I wish I could take refuge in remembering all this right when I read my e-mail, but it's an ongoing process.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Better Days Will Haunt You

I think I can add this to the interesting trivia file drawer in my head. Like remembering that Nada Surf's Matthew Caws wrote for Guitar World back before "Popular" broke and Dillinger Escape Plan's Gil Sharone was a guest star on Full House, now comes more interesting info on the one and and only Chavez.

I had known for quite some time that guitarist Clay Tarver co-wrote the script for the Paul Walker/Steve Zahn film Joy Ride, but I didn't know much about the band, other than how Ride the Fader is awesome. Perusing through some of the comments in Noel's Popless feature, I came across one talking about bassist Scott Marshall. Turns out, he directed Blonde Ambition, the recent Jessica Simpson/Luke Wilson movie that played in a few theaters in Texas. He has a rather extensive list of credits in film and TV as an actor and director and is the nephew of Penny Marshall.

Whether or not his film work is really the hold-up on the band fully reuniting, I don't know, but this is rather interesting to know.

Monday, February 25, 2008

When I was an alien, cultures weren't opinions

From a distance, the synopsis of About a Son sounds like a documentary made up of spare parts. Featuring audio taken from Michael Azerrad's interviews with Kurt Cobain for Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana, there are no live performances from Nirvana, on-camera interviews or any Nirvana songs in it. But instead of thinking this is like that joke in Student Bodies where Lamab High had to put on a non-musical version of Grease because they couldn't get the rights to the songs, About a Son's strengths are elsewhere. What you don't typically see in a documentary about somebody makes for a way more powerful experience, at least in my mind.

I'll admit I had some reservations about seeing this film, so let me clear them out of the way. First of all, despite most of the interviews taking place during overnight hours, the conversations are lively and Kurt is very well-spoken. Secondly, the quotes' subject matter do not turn bleak until the very end. For the most part, they are interesting and engaging and rarely veer off into la-la land. Third, the camera often moves or shows movement, so it doesn't get bogged down by static, boring shots. Lastly, the film looks beautiful, especially with its vivid shades of blue and green.

In regards to the lack of Nirvana songs and performances, About a Son shows more through what Kurt experienced himself. Hearing a Scratch Acid or a Queen song or songs Nirvana would later cover (like "The Man Who Sold the World") gives a better idea of where Kurt was coming from. Rather than recalling from your own memory of what Scratch Acid sounds like (or even if you've never heard them before), this technique incredibly helps set the mood.

Though it demystifies tabloid-ish type stuff on the band and Courtney Love, it never devolves into rock star moaning and groaning. More than anything, the film humanizes Kurt, and in a good way. Rather than paint him as a spokesman for a generation that has long since passed, the film's core is about what it's really like to be an outsider. Be it growing up in Aberdeen, hanging out in Olympia or being in a very popular rock band, the feelings Kurt expresses are timeless and pretty universal.

The way I see it, if About a Son were to have all the typical things found in a documentary on a rock star, it wouldn't be as strong. Besides, for those that want the live Nirvana performances, there are the Live! Tonight! Sold Out!, Unplugged in New York and With the Lights Out DVDs. Plus, there's the whole assortment of other performances, interviews and documentaries on YouTube. This, however, is something well worth watching whether you're a hardcore fan, casual fan or just curious.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Spoilers ahead

Unless I really want to be in the dark about some movie or TV show, I usually read spoilers online. I know reading about twists, shocks and game-changers beforehand only reveals plot points. The drama, human emotion, the music, et al. -- the heart of it all, in my opinion -- gets left out of the description. If anything, a great TV show or movie can stand on its own even knowing the spoilers ahead of time. This all struck me after watching this season of LOST.

My reasoning for reading LOST plot outlines is simple: due to the show starting fifteen minutes before I am home on most Thursday nights, I don't want to be in the dark when I turn the TV on. I figure it wouldn't be such a big deal if I were to find out that Kate's taking care of Aaron or Sayid's working for Ben in the future. When I saw the episodes themselves, I was really moved by the unspoken emotions found in scenes like the one with Kate and her dying mother and Sayid being fixed up by Ben. That's the stuff that surprises me more.

I think about one of my favorite M. Night Shyamalan films: The Village. The twist in that film really amazed me, but what made the movie work for me was the love story. Besides, if you're really that web-savy, you can find out pretty much any movie or show's twists and endings online. So if the foundation of something is its twist, it's not really gonna warrant repeat viewings, at least for me.

Yes, there's a lot of good in watching a show or movie not knowing what's gonna happen. I didn't read anything about Season 3's introduction of flash-forwards in the finale. When I pieced everything together by the end of the episode, I was really impressed. Probably more impressed than if I read spoilers beforehand. But that was something I really wanted to stay in the dark with. Viewing the episode again before Season 4 began (and now with last night's episode on my mind), there's even more to ponder and be amazed with. I don't blame Jack for feeling weird about Kate raising his nephew.

Now understanding this makes me realize why reading the reveal of the killer in Scream 3 didn't really ruin the movie for me. It was the movie itself.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Major kudos to Todd for posting this link: 20 Things I Wish I Had Known When Starting Out in Life. For fun, I figured I'd repost the twenty entries and add my perspective in response.

1. How to control impulse spending.
Luckily, my impulse spending never went beyond CDs and DVDs when I was in college. Now with Netflix and MP3s, my impulse buying is down to almost nothing. I can't say impulse buying is completely gone: when I saw a new copy of Steve Martin's Born Standing Up at Borders, it was 40 percent off. Yeah, I had to buy it then and there knowing what I know about retail . . .

2. You gotta stay active.
Oh yes. When I was in marching band in high school, the exercise routine consisted solely of rehearsals in the heat. Out of marching band once I entered college, the weight slowly gained and didn't really see the need to exercise. Now I run/walk three miles about four or five days a week. And I enjoy it.

3. How to plan finances.
My attitude: keep the overhead low. Distinguish what I need, really want and just want.

4. Junk food will come back to bite you in the butt.
Agreed. No more fast food for me, though Panda Express comes kinda close. And yes, I still have two brown cinnamon Pop Tarts for breakfast.

5. Smoking is just dumb.
I've never been tempted to smoke. Some of my best friends smoke, but unlike the nonsense I heard in health class, they've never pressured me to smoke. Remember, your real friends don't pressure you into doing stuff you don't want to do.

6. Fund your retirement, son. And don’t withdraw it.
Again, keep the overhead low for later, but don't forget to live a little. I often forget that last part.

7. All the stuff you’re doing that seems hard — it will be of use.
Oh yes, but the stuff that seems impossibly hard, I question its necessity in my life.

8. Don’t buy that used van without checking it out closely.
I've heard enough touring band horror stories in my lifetime to back this up.

9. That guy you’re going to sell your car to? On a gentleman’s agreement? He’s not gonna pay you.
I've never experienced this, so I really don't know what to say.

10. Make time to pursue your passion, no matter how busy you are.
As Joseph Campbell said it best: follow your bliss. I'd also add that following your bliss has little or nothing to do with whether you make any money doing it.

11. All that stuff that’s stressing you out — it won’t matter in 5 years, let alone 15.
This is so right on, but it makes me wonder why I stress out about anything. If it's not going to matter a few years down the line, why am I stressing out about it now? This is why I half-joke that I live more in the past and the possible future rather than in the present.

12. The people you make friends with are so much more important than your job or the things you buy.
Why do you think I wrote one book with this as a prevailing theme? Why do you think it's a prevailing theme in my second book?

13. All that time you spend watching TV is a huge, huge waste of time.
As I get older, the more I respond to TV like Woody Allen's character in Annie Hall. I don't watch TV to be "entertained," save for one hour of Jose Luis Sin Censura a day. There are plenty of reasons why I don't have cable and feel way more productive in the process.

14. Your kids are going to grow up way faster than you think. Don’t waste a minute.
I'm trying not to. Anytime there's a good reason to visit Heidi and Elisabeth, I go. No matter how small the progress, it's worth it to see it.

15. Forget the drama. Focus on being happy.
As easy as that sounds, drama is an easy thing to think about to pass the time. That said, focusing on being happy takes work. But it's the kind of work that has plenty of long-lasting benefits.

16. Pay more attention to blogs when you first hear about them. They’re more than just journals.
I credit Bob for introducing me to blogging way back when he posted really insightful/personal musings during Braid's last year. You mean this guy who's on tour for most of the year is really going to watch 365 movies?

17. Speaking of which, keep a journal. Seriously. Your memory is extremely faulty.
A wise man once put it best to me: "I should emphasize my distrust of memory as [an] emitter of what we generally call facts and not necessarily events as they happened, but rather as they matter."

18. Tequila is seriously evil.
I've yet to understand this. Then again, I just had my first stand-alone shot a few weeks ago.

19. Yes, you can do a marathon. Don’t put this goal off — it’s extremely rewarding.
Maybe, but doing double my exercise route would be too much for me at this point.

20. All these mistakes you’re going to make, despite this advice? They’re worth it.
I hate making mistakes. It triggers shame in me. Anytime something I get involved with goes sour, I wonder why in the world I did it in the first place. So, I've yet to fully agree with this.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

That Guy

This past Saturday night, I was "that guy" at a show. And I don't feel bad about it.

Previously "that guy" when I saw the Promise Ring in '98 and Hey Mercedes in '03, the personality stills comes out from time to time -- and with good reason. So, what am I talking about?

I would define the behavior as a devoted fan of a band who stands right at the front of the audience, sings passionately along, moves various body parts to the beat and seems to lose his mind while the band plays. It's like the person is engulfed with spirit and does not hold back. With the return of Chomsky last weekend, I did not hold back in sharing my fandom.

I do have some ground rules though, based on previous concert experiences around other "that guy"s. 1) Do not push anyone around you. 2) Do not act like drunken hooligan. 3) Understand that you might get picked on for acting this way (but if you've been picked on your whole life, it's nothing new). 4) If you have a drink in your hand, do not spill it on people. 5) Do not constantly yell for a song the band hasn't played in years and probably will never play again. 6) Curb the random "whoo"s between songs and please never yell for "Freebird." Pretty much everything else is fair game.

With Chomsky, I was not the only person up in front going crazy. People to my right and behind me sang along and jumped up and down. Taking a few cues from hardcore shows, I did a lot of pointing to accent a beat or lyric. I might have looked like an idiot, but I didn't care. I find no harm in letting people know how much I love a band.

In my time of seeing shows and playing shows, live music is probably the closest experience I've ever had with pure joy and catharsis. The spirit moves me so much and I try to show that within reason. That's at least my perspective.

Monday, February 18, 2008

south american sea lion fidget maurice chevalier

For nearly two years, I wondered who in the world was Maurice Chevalier. I had seen the Marx Bros. attempt to be him so they could get on a boat in Monkey Business, but I had no idea how to spell "Chevalier." There was something funny with the sound of his name: it sounded perfect for a crooner from the Twenties/Thirties. Sappy songs, clean-cut image, the whole nine yards. I constantly quoted Chico's line from that scene ("I am Mooooreese Shavaaaaaalee-ayyyy!") and even called a fellow Marx Bros. fan that name.

Well, as easy as it could have been to look up the Monkey Business page on Wikipedia, I didn't. Maybe I did once, but didn't see the name listed on there. I don't know. Anyway, I wondered if I'd ever get an answer. Luckily, my answer came over the weekend as Stevie posted the subject line from a spam e-mail she received: "south american sea lion fidget maurice chevalier." Jackpot!

Chevalier sounded Italian (a language I do not know very well), but it's French (another language I do not know very well). So, I wouldn't have guessed the "valier" spelling. I would have guessed "Chevallia" or "Chevaligia." Putting those guesses in a Google search would have not resulted in helpful results.

Maybe those spam e-mails about Viagra and mortgage loans do have some sort of purpose in life.

Friday, February 15, 2008

To share

I think the kind of relationship advice Tasha gives in this week's Ask the AV Club is something I don't hear enough. Aside from what Leah says in her column and podcast (and what wisdom Jason passes my way), too often I hear fluffy cliches that are too vanilla. Even worse, I hear advice saying you should initially present yourself to someone in a slightly false light. So when I read a passage like this, I wish those bland advice-givers would take a few notes:
Don't be an asshole. Having strongly held, precisely detailed opinions on Yasujiro Ozu or Badly Drawn Boy or Brian Michael Bendis isn't the problem. Forcing them on people who didn't ask, or sneering at those who disagree or don't care, is a problem . . . And stop thinking that being a geek is a bad thing in and of itself. It isn't, and it certainly isn't a relationship deal-killer. Being an unsocialized jerk is the problem.

Like I was once told in a pseudo-intervention (and still agree with), embrace your weirdness. Yes, I might have eccentric music tastes, but I try to steer clear of forcefully converting those who don't. I might gently give friends a hard time from time to time, but I've been at the receiving end of flak from unsocialized and unloved jerks, so I don't want to become the problem.

If anything, my weakness has been the fear of sharing my eccentricities. Despite speaking openly about them on this here blog, I find them harder to share in person beyond the closest of friends and family. Too often I've thought sharing them with people not so close leads to an expression of disapproval and eventual abandonment. I'm compelled to save someone who hates Scott Walker's music the pain of having to listen to it in the car by not playing his music. I'm compelled to not play my drums for too long in the presence of those who can't stand drumming. Maybe I'm just being overly courteous or cautious.

I will say this, I've learned that I shouldn't feel ashamed because I'm happy the theatrical version of Blade Runner is airing on the Sci-Fi channel. I think that's a good start.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Can't Stop Won't Stop

As much as I am a fan of reading books, the amount of half-read and unread books in my house grows year after year. I wish I could blame Borders for sending out those 20-percent-off coupons every week, but I'm the sucker to blame for wanting to read so much. Plus, I'm the one to blame for trying to read one book and then jumping into another.

Right now, I'm reading Slash's biography and immensely enjoying it. Even though I planned to read the Joe Strummer and Charles Schulz's biographies I received for Christmas shortly after Christmas, they have been put to the side until I finish reading Slash. Of course, the backlog of other books waiting to be finished is immense. Here's a rundown and why:

High Fidelity
I loved the movie based off of it, but I have never read a page from the copy I purchased three years ago. Maybe it's because I hoped to read it when I was in a mental space where I wasn't feeling bitter about past relationships.

The book has a great concept: a compilation of interviews with all walks of life talking about their day jobs. Dealing with shop-talk and similar-sounding descriptions bogged me down. The crime-scene-cleaner entry was really interesting, but kinda bugged me as well. Nothing like reading quotes from a power-hungry person hellbent on more money and power.

Aside from his excellent reflection on being a writer, I've never read an entire Stephen King novel. With Cell, the streak continues. I think I got bogged down when page after page seemed to say the same thing: this guy keeps thinking about his estranged marriage, the crazy zombies and being trapped in a hotel.

The Making of Star Wars
Probably the most comprehensive document of the original Star Wars movie is really for hardcore fans. As much as Star Wars is one of my all-time favorites and find the overall story of its making fascinating, I found myself skimming through the parts about the set making and designs. Plus, I find it hard to read a large book sitting in my recliner. If I rest it on my lap, I'm bound to throw out my back.

Inside Out
Nick Mason's recollection of his time in Pink Floyd carries way more authenticity than other biographies of the band, but like the Star Wars book, I found myself off-put by some dodgy pacing and a fear of a thrown-out back.

The Trouble With Music
Fascinating concept: a music fan dissects what's wrong with modern music. Trouble for me: the same vanilla vagueness I see with most philosophy books is all over this book. Is it a crime to be more specific?

The Way We Never Were
I wanted to read this book and stick it to all those fuddy-duddies who like to talk about the good ol' days. But shortly into this book, I get the message loud and clear: the good ol' days were not free of the same problems we have today. And I don't know about you, but reading survey results over and over again makes me ask, "So what?"

Fast Food Nation
Inspired after watching the film version of the book as well as Super-Size Me, I've yet to crack open my year-old copy. I get the feeling my distaste for greasy burgers and fries will continue to grow.

Can't Stop Won't Stop
An immensely well-researched sociological study of hip-hop, the wandering narrative compelled me to pick up a book that was straight-forward and short: Steve Martin's Born Standing Up. I finished that one in a few weeks.

I hope to rope back around to all of these books this year, but my time for reading them is heavily based on what's grabbing my attention in the now. Plus, reading always makes me sleepy. So, this might take a while.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Light the candles . . .

Now I have the same age with the title of a Ryan Adams record. Also celebrating birthdays today are:

Mena Suvari (same age as me, from American Beauty and American Pie, as well as the soon-to-be-released-straight-to-DVD-remake of Day of the Dead)
Peter Tork (of the Monkees)
Peter Gabriel
Peter Hook
Jerry Springer
Henry Rollins
Prince Michael Jackson

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

And as I recall, I think, we both kinda liked it

Seeing this clip of a pop show rendition of Deep Blue Something's "Breakfast at Tiffany's" reminds me of when a song is abused too much. In my own experience, it really kicked in when I saw my high school drill team dance to the Offspring's "Come Out and Play."

I don't recall ever playing the song in marching band, but I do remember seeing the sheet music and groaning. At that point, when it came to pop tunes played at halftime and in the stands, they were relegated to songs from the Sixties or Seventies. Here was a song -- a pop-punk song no less -- that had only been out for a couple of years and now it's a half-time entertainment piece. This was a song I enjoyed and credit it (along with "Longview" and "Basket Case") for getting me into the pop-punk genre. Now here I was seeing it played for people who I always thought could give a flying you-know-what about this band, its fans and its style of music.

It was then I began to realize how music can be obtained by anybody and used in any way. For me, as a teenager who kept to himself, had a small circle of friends and cared passionately about the music I loved, this was alienating. A song like "Come Out and Play" wasn't written for mass consumption like an ad jingle or a Celine Dion song. But I never got to a point where I hated the Offspring for becoming popular. Unlike everyone around me at a show at Fitzgerald's, I couldn't justify throwing middle fingers up in the air after Jack Grisham of the Joykiller mentioned they had recently toured with the band.

Of course, there could be really odder choices for drill team or pop show songs. I highly doubt a Zao song or a Dillinger Escape Plan song would get the treatment, but you never know.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Saturday night, while visiting relatives, I skimmed through the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly and came across a small article on an apparently popular catchphrase. The catch is, I hadn't heard anyone use it and am rather suspicious of its popularity. The following morning, I read Tasha's entry (where publicists came by her office to drop off something tied directly to the line) and I found the timing even more suspicious.

The line is from There Will Be Blood and it's from the final scene: "I drink your milkshake! I drink it up!" says Plainview to his rival Eli Sunday. Of all the powerful quotes from that movie, this flimsy little line is what people appear to gravitate towards. Yes, rather than "I am finished" or "I am a false prophet and God is a superstition," it's this.

Searching on Google, there are plenty of amusing results: is at the top of the list, along with message board threads, and even a MySpace username changed to it. Now looking at these results, I get the feeling this is not some lame attempt by the studio to get some more box office revenue. The film's Oscar nominations alone have given more people reasons to see it. Why a vanilla milkshake would be dropped off at the AV Club is probably just the publicity department playing along with a pop culture catchphrase. End of story, right? Well, for me, I think about what draws people to phrases like this.

Not so much like the "more cowbell" line, but I think about a certain phrase from The Silence of the Lambs: no, it's not the fava beans line or "I'm having an old friend for dinner," it's the lines about rubbing lotion on skin and putting the lotion in the basket. I had never heard anyone ever quote these lines between the film's theatrical release in 1991 and 2000. A short little insertion of it in the short-lived Clerks cartoon made me wonder. From then on, it seems to be one of the most recognized lines. My question: how and why?

I guess the parallel between these lines is this: inconsequential line that has a weird, demented and witty tone to it. Why people say it is really of no deep reason, and that's totally fine. I'm just curious what people find so appealing about lines like these. Do they reduce a great film to a fun catchphrase or is it just a way of remembering a great film?

Friday, February 08, 2008

Drops to the ground, unravels like a thread

Hear me out -- I'm happy that Omar and Cedric have found more musical freedom in the Mars Volta than they did in At the Drive-In. Yet getting me to listen to a new Mars Volta record becomes harder and harder with each new one. Attempting to get into their latest, The Bedlam in Goliath, I think I've reached the point of mercy.

I heard great things about Bedlam (David Fricke's 4-star review was one of the biggies for me), mentioning how it was a return to form for the band, but it all seems relentless and monotonous at the same time. New drummer Thomas Pridgen is a powerful and very worthy replacement to Jon Theodore, but this is the Omar and Cedric show. There's very little breathing space, and frankly, no big hooks to really draw me in.

When I mean hooks, I don't necessarily mean pop hooks or the kinds of hooks focus groups use to decide whether a song should be played to a large, daytime audience. Rather, something that says there's something deeper than just riffs and beats. Being a fan of melodic hooks, I guess that's why I've found more favor with the Fall of Troy's 2005 record, Doppelganger, more as of late.

Thanks to the finger workout it is on Guitar Hero III, the band's "F.C.P.R.E.M.I.X" led me to check out more of their stuff. Checking out their video, it's pretty cool to hear a trio essentially sounding like a quintet. Yes, Thomas Erak wails on his guitar and does some showing off, but not to the point where it becomes indulgent. I find their songs to be tuneful and noodly -- and not monotonous.

So hearing three guys do what five guys would do, I wonder why the eight-man Mars Volta sounds more like four most of the time. Do I just not understand the true beauty of proggy debauchery?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Melancholics Anonymous

Well, this was fast. After last week's press release detailing a face to face reunion and a Trever Keith solo record, the record is already available for streaming and as a paid download. As somebody who always liked Ignorance is Bliss, I gotta say it's cool Trever's going further with this direction.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The names are all changed

Last week saw the announcement of another name change for the venue I've forever thought of as the Dallas equivalent of the Woodlands Pavilion. No longer called the Smirnoff Music Centre, it's now the Center. Yes, the ".com" is included, like the Bowl game.

Like fellow former Houston resident Kev (who blogged about this last week), I think of this place as a place I've rarely been to. As a matter of fact, the only time I've been there was when Merge 93.3 hosted a free comedy show. I've never been to an Edgefest or OZZfest and have no plans to see a concert there in the near future. So why bother mentioning this? Well, to be frank, Center doesn't sound like a music venue to me; it sounds more like a shopping center.

Besides, coupled with all the years I called the Texas Rangers' stadium the Ballpark in Arlington and then had to call it Ameriquest Field in Arlington and now it's something else, I'm not so sure this place will be called the Center for very long. How about the Old Starplex, much like how older Dallas residents refer to the section of I-30 west of downtown as the Old Turnpike? And though I haven't driven by it in a long time, I swear there's still a sign off of the 30 service road saying, "Starplex."

Now I'm wondering about what the new Cowboys stadium in Arlington will be called. It might have a name already, but it might be subject to change.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Kev listed six non-important things/habits/quirks of his last week. Here's my list.

1. It's rare for me to go to the grocery store as a stand-alone trip. Usually there's a stop at Panda Express beforehand.

2. Somehow I can play double-bass at an alarmingly fast rate of speed but not at mid-tempo speed. If I learn how to properly play mid-tempo, does that mean I'll be able to play even faster?

3. Despite watching various bits and pieces from DVD box sets I got for Christmas, I've watched the Zao documentary, The Lesser Lights of Heaven, over and over again, more than anything else. Thanks again Ryan.

4. A large portion of Tin Cup was filmed down the street from my parent's house. My mom was an extra, as were a number of other people from Kingwood.

5. I rarely say "fixin' to." If I do, I apologize.

6. I've never watched the NBC version of The Office. I still think the BBC version is great.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Between the click of the light and the start of the dream

So, my Super Bowl experience was different than any other one I'd experienced. Since Fox 4 usually barely comes in on the rabbit ears, I was convinced I had to go somewhere else to watch. Ryan was in the suburbs visiting family while Jason was in Houston for work, so I opted to hit up a certain bar that I've frequented many times before. The bar is great, has a flat-screen TV and its very nice owner recognizes me. No problem right? Well, after having one beer and watching most of the first two quarters, I decided to head for the exit.

In addition to an uncomfortable seating arrangement and severe soreness in my neck due to wine-induced head-banging the night before, I had to share space behind liquored-up sports fans. Not just the type of fans who like to hoot and holler at good plays and boo at bad plays. I'm talking the ones who feel they must comment about everything that comes on the screen, usually letting out their misery and showing their lack of self-restraint. They typified why I don't go to sports bars to watch games, but this bar is by no means one on any other night of the year.

Thinking the Patriots would blow the Giants away in the second half, I decided to head out for dinner and grocery shopping during halftime. Upon returning home, I switched on the TV to see if Fox was coming in decently. It was, despite a little bit of snow. Luckily, the game was still close, so I figured I'd keep watching. Between the burning of CD-R copies of CDs from Jason's library as well as compiling playlists for our next party, I watched most of the rest of the game. I got to see that amazing Manning pass, as well as that last-second knee-down.

Pretty cool overall experience for the evening, including seeing that Fox bumper using the outro from the Arcade Fire's "No Cars Go." But after the game and during the day today, some people sounded shocked and appalled Fox used a song by the beloved Arcade Fire. Strangely, I think of parallels between my avoidance of sports fans, but also wanting to watch the big game.

Once I saw the bumper for the "NFL on Fox," I thought there might be some outcry or snide remark by an indier-than-thou type. How dare somebody use a song that's not on regular radio as bumper music! Well, face it guys, what we think of as popular indie music does not mean it remains unheard of outside of the "indie rock" world. More like what I call "sub-mainstream," this music isn't performed by an Irish folk duo who only performs in Northern Ireland pubs and doesn't release records. My parents might not know who the Arcade Fire is, but I think my sister and brother-in-law (who usually just listen to Top 40 and rock radio) might. Maybe even those sports fans I encountered had as well. And is this so wrong? I don't think so.

People would like to think there's a firm picket line between those who like "good music" and those who like mainstream music. Well, for the past ten years especially, it's not strange to see an indie band become more popular than a mainstream band without the help of radio or MTV. I mean, come on, Interpol played Radio City Music Hall when they were on Matador. In other words, this music is out there and it's available for anyone, not just those that have passionate taste in music beyond what the radio and MTV hands us.

Keeping that stuff in mind, that's why I don't try to challenge people like those sports fans. They're out there to have a good time, right? I'm out there to have a good time, right? We're just approaching things differently and as annoying they might be to me (and I might be to them in my "shields-up," stoic appearance), can't we just raise a glass to a fun evening watching a good game?

Friday, February 01, 2008

We've Only Just Begun

Todd asked a really good question in the previous post's comment section:
When is that book gonna be done? Do you need a publicist for it? :)

Well, it seems like Todd read my mind as I planned to do a quasi-book update today. Here's what I have to allow:

--I'm doing one last edit of the manuscript to make sure I didn't miss anything. Since I don't have the funds (and am afraid) to hire a proper editor, I'm going sentence by sentence and word by word. Meaning, I'm reading each sentence aloud. If it doesn't sound right or the paragraph doesn't feel right, out come the tools. (But I should add, I have a number of friends who are editors and are happy to answer various random questions from me. So I'm not doing this completely blind.)

--A fear I have with handing everything over to an editor involves something that seems small and minor, but huge to me. It's specifically with band name spelling. He or she could see what appears to be a spelling error and not know it's supposed to be that way. Case in point, it's "face to face" when referring to the Nineties pop-punk band. "Face to Face" was a Boston band from the Eighties. Major difference. Another example: it's "Boys Life" and "Giants Chair" and not "Boy's Life" and "Giant's Chair." Believe me, I've looked at their records over and over to make sure this was the case. And I can't expect the average person to know that off the top of his or her's head.

--Why this fear? Crack open Nothing Feels Good and read about "Action-Packed Records," "James Paul Wismer," "Boy's Life" and "Blake Schwartzenbach." Enough said.

--Once finished with my manuscript, it's off to the printer at the print-on-demand place. I can't guarantee a release date just yet, but it's hopeful this will be out in a couple of months.

--The publicity angle is blurry at the moment. I have this blog and the MySpace page to promote it for starters and I'd be glad to do any interviews. Not shockingly, I'm on the fence about hiring a publicist or not.

Stay tuned.