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Showing posts from February, 2007

The Reasons

I love living in Dallas. There are plenty of big reasons why, but there are plenty of small reasons as well. Case in point: certain kinds of eateries and drinks that are common around here, but are hard to find elsewhere. This didn't occur to me until the recent holiday season. Kyle and Sally are both from Texas, but live in Chicago. They love Chicago, but whenever they come down to visit friends and family, they want to hit up certain places that aren't in Chicago. Totally reasonable as that's what I've done whenever I've visited Chicago. In deciding on where we could meet up for lunch one day, Kyle was craving Whataburger, so we went there. As someone who hears commercials for Whataburger and sees some of their umpteen restaurants every time I drive around, I rarely eat there. But I'm pretty sure that if I lived in Chicago, I'd miss Whataburger too. What was even more interesting was when we were getting our soft drinks. Kyle said he once asked for Dr. Pe

"Pardon my French, but you're an . . ."

Py Korry posted a link to a very important self-examination: Are You an Asshole? I took the test and scored a 2, meaning, "You don’t sound like a certified asshole, unless you are fooling yourself." I'm not fooling myself, but I definitely have met the type that do. I've met my fair share of jerks in and outside of the workplace, but more often than not, these people are in the minority. Seems like for every bad apple, there are ten good apples. But just a few bad apples can spoil an orchard. Be it a boss who screams at people for making mistakes or a friend's parent who has a bad case of bipolar disorder, it's no fun to be around these people. But for various reasons, we are often around them. Be it everyday in a workplace or the occasional trip to a friend's house or a visit to the in-laws. They come in all shapes, sizes and ages. And they're not going away. Even with the most optimistic and upbeat, we all have mental junk swimming around in our hea

Callum Robbins benefits update

Former Jawbox drummer Zach Barocas posted the following note on his blog: I've finished gathering the 32 tracks for a 2-CD compilation we're putting together to benefit Callum Z. Robbins' care fund. It's called For Callum & is kind of a joint effort between The Cultural Society , Catlick Records , & Letterbox , though it's really a joint effort between the contributors, engineers, producers, & manufacturers who have made their talents & services available to us. I thank them all for their help & support. Truly. In any case, there's not yet an official place to go for information about the CDs but I thought I should make preliminary mention of it here. Street date is 3/17/07 & it'll cost $17.00 ppd. All proceeds will go to Cal's fund. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line. We're also putting on a Cal-benefit show here in Mpls on 3/17/07. I'll have more on that as the date nears.

Southern Accents

Here's a P.S. to my question about actors pulling off American accents. What's the hang-up on Southern accents? If you lived your life only through the movies and TV shows you watched, you'd be convinced that everyone in the South has a Southern accent. And when I mean a Southern accent, I mean a Suuthhhen accent. Over the weekend, I took in a viewing of The Prestige . Aussie Hugh Jackman perfectly pulled off an American accent in his role, but Andy Serkis came across as a stereotypical Hollywood Suthhhen dude. Yes, I'm talking about the guy who acely portrayed Gollum and Martin Hannett. Serkis's accent as Mr. Alley in The Prestige frequently caught me off guard and I remembered a conversation I had with Jason the day before. Jason saw Ghost Rider and I asked about the Southern accents in the characters. According to him, the kind of drawl you hear in so many movies is on wide display in Ghost Rider . As fellow Texans, we're still at a loss for why this a

Ask the AV Club -- Part II

Another week, another question answered in the one and only Ask the AV Club section. I asked fellow gamer and former Houstonian Kyle about this show, but it didn't ring any bells. So, I pitched the question to his fellow co-workers. Back in the early '90s, there was a game show centered on video games. I remember a lot about it except its name. The bulk of the show had three rounds of trivia questions and answers. The final round had the two finalists square off playing the same video game. The host looked very similar to Billie Joe Armstrong, and knew a lot about video games. As a matter of fact, there was a segment where members of the audience tried to stump him. He rarely was stumped. Does this ring any bells? Eric The A.V. Club's Donna Bowman isn't stumped, either: Ah, television. Is there any cultural movement that you can't attempt to co-opt and turn into a painfully square half-hour? (Current example: Shows on 24-hour news networks about blogs.) You've

Coming to a corner near you

Sometime last year, in a post about urban renewal, a reader mentioned how CVS Pharmacy stores were popping up in these areas. Since that post, a few more have opened in my neighborhood, but there aren't as many stores as there are Starbucks stores. That number could change as my neighborhood keeps seeing renewal, including the historic Deep Ellum area. But I'm curious: why is CVS so synonymous with urban renewal? Are grocery stores and Walgreen's just not "with it"? Talking with a realtor last year, she said a number of people moving into these new high-rise rectangles are not just people my age, but empty-nesting Baby Boomers. I understand the need to have a pharmacy nearby any place, but why so many CVS stores in general? There are at least four CVS stores within ten minutes of where I live. Considering the fact there are three Borders and two Barnes & Noble stores within twenty minutes of where I live, this seems normal. But still, why CVS? Are they planni

In a line

I've stood in lines my whole life I'm still young and they're nothing new Lines are a part of life So it's strange and a little funny when people older than me think life is fair and lines are always short and waits aren't very long I don't like waiting But people complaining about waiting is worse than waiting

TV on the Radio

Jim DeRogatis's recent column hits on a subject I've written about before : artists licensing songs to commercials. I still feel the same about this subject. Rewiring a song's meaning into an advertising jingle is not something I can get behind. I prefer to have the memory of hearing Bob Seger's "Main Street" in a bar surrounded by my friends instead of thinking of Chevy truck commercials whenever I hear Seger's "Like a Rock." But I have a new question: are TV/radio commercials the last bastion of hope for a song to reach a mass audience? The amount of money tossed around for commercials is insane. Plus, the exposure is incredibly strong. But at what cost? I can't rag on a band like Explosions in the Sky for licensing a couple of their songs for Cadillac commercials. Their motivations behind their music are sincere and remain sincere (as evidenced by their incredible new album, All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone ). But these Cadillac commercial

Parallel lines on a slow decline

My fandom of Guided By Voices began slowly over twelve years ago. A short write-up in People praised Alien Lanes stating something along the lines of "Guided By Voices songs are starting to get longer, which is great because you don't want them to end." Coupled with a black and white picture of Bob Pollard singing into a mike, I was interested. But I didn't hear one of their songs until 120 Minutes aired the video for "Bulldog Skin." College radio, Tom from the Good Show and Goose introduced me to Do the Collapse , Isolation Drills and Bee Thousand a few years after that. I'm still a fan, so I was anticipating reading James Greer's '05 bio , Guided By Voices: A Brief History, Twenty-One Years of Hunting Accidents in the Forests of Rock and Roll . Finally getting around to reading it recently, I would liken my experience to listening to a dodgy, inconsistent GBV album. Greer sheds a lot of revealing information about the band, but I was co

28 Valentines

In school it was about small cards and small bites of candy There wasn't a lot of mush Just a lot of friendly teasing A few years ago it was about scorn and failure Amazing how things can be mentally rewired I still can't buy into mush but I don't buy into its opposite

28 Years Later

I celebrate 28 years today along with such luminaries as . . . Peter Tork (65) Peter Gabriel (57) Peter Hook (51) Jerry Springer (63) Henry Rollins (46) David Naughton (56) Eric Johnson (34) Robbie Williams (33) Feist (31) Prince Michael Jackson (10) Mena Suvari (also 28) Damon Atkinson (formerly of Braid and Hey Mercedes, 31) and Sebastian Gutierrez from the Blacheart Society

I Know There's An Answer

I've often wondered how someone like Naomi Watts or Christian Bale can pull off a bonafide American accent while someone like Robert Duvall can't pull off a Scottish accent to save his life. Well, Noel Murray from the AV Club gave me an answer in this week's Ask the AV Club section.

First Book Update of 2007

After nearly three years of writing, researching and editing, I finally have a full manuscript for Post . This by no means implies this is the draft you'll see in printed form, but it's a start. Just getting to this point feels like a major accomplishment and I feel great. As far as who will release this book, that is still up in the air. Though the original intention was to release this independently on Mission Label , that is not the case anymore. Nick and I are still very close friends, but for the benefit of everyone involved, this is a story worth shopping around. I know I have expressed feelings of trepidation about going with professional middlemen before, but I feel this has been a very good decision not just for me, but for the whole book. I do not feel like I've bent over backwards; rather, I feel like I've bent forward in a comfortable way, making something I'm really proud of. This is something I doubt I would be as happy with had I not sought all my opt

Cut Your Ribbon

Sometimes when you're given something, just take it even if you're not so sure you're going to love it. Back in 2002, KTCU received a copy of Sparta's Austere EP. Seeing as how this was the first project post-At the Drive-In and I'm a big fan of that band, I wanted to hear this as soon as possible. Upon listening to its four tracks a few times, I didn't feel a lot of love for them. As a matter of fact, I felt these songs sounded like they were written (and rejected) for At the Drive-In's final album, Relationship of Command . Turns out that wasn't the case, but the opinion stood. A few weeks later, I was offered a signed 7" copy of Austere along with a Sparta T-shirt. Though I wasn't taken with the EP itself, I wasn't going to argue with a signed 7" and a T-shirt, so I graciously received them. When the band's debut album, Wiretap Scars , appeared later in the year, I still wasn't taken with the band. I kept listening to the a

Young Bodies Heal Quickly, You Know

This past Saturday night was spent with the incomparable Dallas band, the Paper Chase . Playing a full-on live set with new drummer Jason Garner, it's very safe to say the last time I saw a show of this caliber was At the Drive-In back in 1999. It just so happens both shows happened at the same venue: Rubber Gloves in Denton. Back when At the Drive-In played (with Jimmy Eat World and a local band called Post From Vermont), Rubber Gloves was half the size it is now. There was no bar area; it was just the main room with the stage, but the stage itself was half the size it is now. At the Drive-In blew my head off (as did Jimmy Eat World), but it was At the Drive-In that was so incredibly visceral. I've seen plenty of shows since then, but I had not seen that kind of mixture of sincere performance with violent sounds, great tunes (and a lot of fun) in a long time. I had seen the Paper Chase twice before and both were acoustic shows. Though they sounded much more toned down in an ac

High: 38 Low: 27

Some words about today in a bare-bones way: I don't fear the cold I fear getting a cold Actually I fear a cold More than I fear a hangover I've felt the extremes in January and July Both make panic seem legitimate But I've lived through both extremes and so have you

See You On Rooftops

Rumors about the Gypsy Tea Room closing swirled last year. Well, word came down yesterday via a Robert Wilonsky post that the venue will be closing in a few months. Shows are booked through April, including Animal Collective and Ted Leo. If this is indeed the end of the venue, I will not have mixed feelings like when Trees closed. I will be pretty bummed. With the exception of a bouncer acting like a football coach while I waited for a backstage pass to arrive, I had no problems with their staff. I don't recall any problems with the bouncers, doormen, sound guys or bartenders. Their shows were always well-run, on-time and sounded great. I saw plenty of shows in the tea room side and the ballroom side. In the last three years, it was a spot where I did a lot of book interviews. In case this is the real end of the Gypsy, here are some of the most memorable shows for me: Mark Kozelek, February 12th, 2004 On the day before I turned 25, I saw Krazy Koz deliver a solo set in the tea ro