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Showing posts from June, 2007

Going to Pieces

Despite what I wrote last week, I decided to watch Hostel . I still stand behind what I wrote, but my reasons for watching were more out of curiosity than anything else. I wanted to know if writer/director Eli Roth had something to say about our post-9/11 fears instead of making a brainless slasher flick. Seeing as how the Halloween / Friday the 13th formula is still in effect with other movies, I was hoping to see a different approach. To my relief, it was. Plus, despite Roth's claims on a commentary track about not trying to make overt political statements, I can't help but think they slipped into the movie anyhow. And that's fine by me. I'm not one to cheer while watching scenes of torture and gore. No matter who the victim is, it's something I don't wish upon anyone. Not even the kinds of frat dudes I ran into back in college trolling for a "good time." I definitely squirmed while I watched certain parts of the film; I felt no pleasure during its

I Love the . . . VH1

If there's a show in the vein of VH1's I Love the '80s and I Love the '90s I'd really like to see, it's I Love VH1 . Allow me to explain. VH1's programming was originally something like MTV's oldest sibling. Playing more R&B and smooth jazz artists as well as other adult Top 40 acts, you weren't going to find any hair metal, grunge or even rap on the channel. You had My Generation with Peter Noone (and later, David Cassidy), along with 8-Track Flashback , playing performance clips from the Sixties and Seventies. You had Rosie O'Donnell hosting a stand-up comedy show. Repeats of Midnight Special and American Bandstand were also on there, as well as hour-long concerts from people like Neil Young. In other words, this programming was vastly removed compared to what they've had on the channel since Behind the Music debuted. For me, a music nut who frequently watched TV growing up, I would almost always switch to VH1 if I didn't like

You're Lucky to Be Alive

With the arrival of Punk Planet 's final issue in my mailbox yesterday, I wanted to share some more thoughts about the closing of the magazine. Sure, it was great to see my interview with John Congleton on page 18, along with my featured review of Bob Pollard's Normal Happiness and Kyle's article on SXSW, but there's something deeper I wanted to discuss. I always had a sense of pride going into a Borders or Barnes & Noble in some of the richest areas in town and seeing copies of the magazine on the newsstand. Why? Because the distribution went beyond where the converted shopped. That idea may break rule #1 in certain people's Rules of Punk, but it's not in my rule book. The way I saw it, Punk Planet was out there sitting between copies of Alternative Press , Rolling Stone , and Spin . Similar to a record store carrying a Sunny Day Real Estate record filed near System of a Down records, it was visible and available to those that had never heard of it. The m

Where Were You in '88?

Going through last week's Chartburn on Jeff's page, I came across a relatively memorable clip from the one and only David Lee Roth. "Just Like Paradise" was in regular MTV rotation back in 1988 and being the daily watcher of the channel at the time, I saw it plenty of times. Looking at the video now, I'll admit it's over-the-top and goofy. And, it's a light and fluffy song. And yes, it screams everything that was hair metal-related in the Eighties. But you know what? This didn't warp my perspective on what good music is in the long run. Realizing this makes me take a few steps back with modern music. I'm not covering my tracks here: I've been very critical of what the mainstream views as emo. If I were to call what has been peddled to the Warped Tour audience, it's hair metalcore. To be frank, I just don't get a lot of mileage out of this music. And I've often wondered what kind of impression this stuff has had on young people. Wel

B.N. (Before Netflix)

I'm still a very satisfied Netflix subscriber, but I can't help noticing something: my personal DVD collection has not grown that much since I signed up for the service. Is this necessarily bad? Nope. I think it's a relief. I own a few movies on DVD that are far from favorites of mine. I don't own any movies I absolutely detest, but given the choice of watching American Splendor or Manhunter , American Splendor wins out. I'm not saying Manhunter is a bad film, but the reason why I own it is because there was no way of renting it when I got it. As a fan of the Hannibal Lector films, I wanted to see this different vision made a few years before Silence of the Lambs was made. I had never seen the movie, but heard good things about it. The risk was worth taking. When I was in college and when I first moved to Dallas, the only options with renting were Blockbuster, Blockbuster and . . . Blockbuster. I never knew the existence of a place like Premiere Video in the SM

The Wagon

Here are some thoughts about last night's Dinosaur Jr/Black Keys show at the Ridglea: -No, the ticket had the line-up correct. Dinosaur played before the Black Keys. -As much as Dinosaur should have headlined, their 45-minute set was the perfect length. It wasn't too long and it wasn't too short. Their songs easily blur together -- as evidenced by the recently-released live DVD -- but not during last night's set. -A couple of songs from Beyond were played ("Almost Ready" and "Back to Your Heart") as well as classics such as "Freak Scene," "The Wagon," "Little Fury Things" and "Feel the Pain." Yes, "Feel the Pain." And it was incredible. -Despite wearing earplugs, my ears were sore by the end of the set. J's eight amps probably had something to do with this. -The Black Keys were enjoyable to watch, but I'm not really inclined to check out their records. Just not really my cup of tea. -That s

I've got to sing just to exist

The headline says it all: Punk Planet magazine -- R.I.P.P by Sinker Dear Friends, As much as it breaks our hearts to write these words, the final issue of Punk Planet is in the post, possibly heading toward you right now. Over the last 80 issues and 13 years, we've covered every aspect of the financially independent, emotionally autonomous, free culture we refer to as "the underground." In that time we've sounded many alarms from our editorial offices: about threats of co-optation, big-media emulation, and unseen corporate sponsorship. We've also done everything in our power to create a support network for independent media, experiment with revenue streams, and correct the distribution issues that have increasingly plagued independent magazines. But now we've come to the impossible decision to stop printing, having sounded all the alarms and reenvisioned all the systems we can. Benefit shows are no longer enough to make up for bad distribution deals, disappear

The American Nightmare

Earlier this year, Keith posted a clip from The Morton Downey Jr. Show all about slasher flicks. Meant to get the audience up in arms, a number of 80s slasher flicks are tarred and feathered for their depiction of gore and violence. The editor of a horror magazine and a movie critic who hates slasher flicks share their views, but it's pretty obvious that the disgusted get the final word. As funny as this clip was, I had to catch myself from becoming one of the audience members when I read reviews of Hostel: Part II a few weeks ago. I'm not going to argue with people: horror movies make for a twisted form of entertainment. They will never be a completely mainstream form of entertainment. You can't get the whole family to watch (and enjoy) the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre . It's just not going to happen. I always get up in arms whenever clueless, lowest common denominator people rip apart something based on a surface glance. It's especially the case with people

Buy You a Drink

If there's one thing that baffles me about hipsters' tastebuds, it's the seemingly hands-off approach with hip-hop and R&B. Meaning, records by Wilco and Pelican get overanalyzed and scrutinized, while records by Lil Wayne and Kanye West get a free pass and overpraised. (Here's some proof , more proof , some more proof , and even more proof .) I don't think Pitchfork or certain MP3s bloggers are to blame for this. It's just a reflection of what's going on. At first, I thought this was some cruel, cynical joke, but apparently, hipsters actually like a lot of music made to make you bounce and groove. As it was put to me by a friend who's done a lot of DJing around town in the last couple of years: drunk hipsters like to listen to this stuff late at night. I'm not putting hip-hop and R&B down here. But think about it: do you really listen and respond to Explosions in the Sky's music the same way you listen and respond to R. Kelly's musi

Still They Ride

Though the biggest Journey-related item was the usage of "Don't Stop Believin'" in the final Sopranos , this other item seemed to have slipped by. Thanks to Idolator for catching it: JOURNEY ANNOUNCES DEPARTURE OF JEFF SCOTT SOTO Press Release / June 12, 2007 Journey has parted ways with their recently named lead singer Jeff Scott Soto. Jeff's first appearance with Journey was July 7, 2006 in Bristow, VA. He had been filling in for Steve Augeri, who had to leave the tour shortly after it began on June 23 due to illness. Jeff's last performance was May 12, 2007 in Leesburg, VA. According to guitarist Neal Schon, "We appreciate all of Jeff's hard work and we can't thank him enough for stepping in when Steve Augeri got sick last year. He did a tremendous job for us and we wish him the best. We've just decided to go our separate ways, no pun intended. We're plotting our next move now." Keyboardist Jonathan Cain continues, "We were

as the knife stopped spinning the answer came: you're going to have to save yourself

Q: Can someone be a brilliant artist without being seriously fucked-up? Can someone be a brilliant artist and be completely sane and well-adjusted? Can the sane and good create art that is meaningful and not simply bland or pretty to look at? —Isaiah Technician CP: Here's my theory: Anyone who makes a career in writing, music, painting, or whatnot succeeds as being a constant witness, always harvesting from the world. Any "artist" makes a living by expressing what others can't—because they're unaware of their feelings, they're too afraid to express those feelings, or they lack the skills to communicate and be understood. Being fucked-up isn't required. In fact, it tends to cut careers short. So goes an answer to a question recently posed to author Chuck Palahniuk. I completely agree with his answer, but I'm curious why certain people think great art must come from great tragedy. Be it Bukowski, Pollock, or Cobain, there's been no shortage of int

(Not) Married to the Mob

As annoying as it is whenever non-fans come out of the woodwork to say, "I never got this show," I want to say some things about The Sopranos , and people's fixation on mafia culture. I read Keith 's review and Defamer's recap , as well as seeing a story on the CBS Evening News , but I know very little about the final Sopranos episode, aside from its ending. Truth to be told, I don't know much about the overall storyline of the series. But I tried. I repeatedly tried to get into this show over the years and I never fully made the leap. Allow me to explain. Though I find The Godfather parts I and II fantastic movies, I've never understood the deep connection a lot of people claim to have with these stories. I hear about how mob stories are about the pursuit of the American dream. But I can't seem to understand how that's the case when there's machismo, violence, and murder in the mix. That was definitely not something I read about in my histo

Onward Quirky Soldiers

Continuing on the root of a routine, I seem to see the same local bands play over and over again. And I rarely get tired of seeing them. Sure, I see plenty of other bands, but I definitely see my favorites as much as I can. To me, it's more than just seeing some songs performed live. And it's not just some social clique either. Back in high school, I saw Matt 's band play in all kinds of places. Backyard and block parties, the Young Life church, talent shows, Battle of the Bands, and so on. I must have seen them play thirty times and I always enjoyed the experience. No two shows were alike, so maybe that's why I continued this approach in college. Some of the greatest bands I've seen live were from right here in Dallas/Fort Worth. Chomsky and Red Animal War rocked my mind in different ways. Chomsky had their skittish, melodic rock while Red Animal War made twisted post-hardcore into something of its own. Whenever they played and I was available (which was usually t

The tipping point

Every once in a while, one of our neighbors throws a big shindig complete with a practice I'm still unsure about its function in society: valet parking. I can't seem to talk about valet parking without mentioning my questioning of tipping, so let's kill two birds with one stone. There have been a couple of times where I thought valet parking was great. Be it a play or some bar where parking was limited, I didn't want to hunt for hours looking for a spot. Both times it was convenient and pretty inexpensive, but something didn't seem right. Seeing the amount of cash I could've spent on a meal at one of my favorite places was going to a guy that simply parked my car. Then I started thinking some more: I'm driving my car to and from the place, but parking myself is out of the question. Um, what? What's even more puzzling is the last time I had to go through valet parking. There were no alternatives: it was either pay $7 or hunt for an open parking meter. So,

Take the Time

As a regular YouTube visitor, I've found plenty of great stuff. In researching Post , I found Ian MacKaye's legendary rant about emo-core in 1986, as well as when At the Drive-In stopped playing in Australia because of moshing. The list is long, but with non-research stuff, I find myself watching certain clips over and over again. And these are clips, like yesterday's Poison clip, that cast light on certain sides of my music tastes that are miles away from hip or kosher. I still believe there should be no guilt in pleasure, but fessing up to this stuff seems to take a large leap of faith. Regardless, here are some examples of unashamed enjoyment: Earth, Wind and Fire performing "After the Love Has Gone" live I didn't know EW&F performed this song until a few months ago. Hearing it again at my favorite Chinese food place, I looked up the song on Google when I got home. I was surprised that this was the same band behind such uptempo numbers as "Shin

Something to Believe In

From time to time, Frank posts music videos on his MySpace page. As an ongoing series called "Videos I Remember and Love from 120 Minutes ," he's shared plenty of fantastic videos. I'm talking that dog's "Never Say Never," Failure's "Stuck On You" and Idlewild's "Roseability." There are plenty of 120 Minutes nuggets I'd like to share (Suede's "Trash" and 60ft. Dolls' "Stay" are at the top of the list), but I want to do something rather different. Very different. Children are not born with a hip taste or a cynical look at pop music. That is something that comes with time. Well for me, between 1987 and 1990, I thought the kind of rock music that really rocked was hair metal. I wouldn't go so far to say I was a devoted fan of one band in particular, but I watched a lot of MTV then, and hair metal dominated their playlist. I saw plenty of videos filled with glitz, glamor, guitar solos and a

Payback -- literary edition

Py Korry issued a Self-Torture Book Challenge ; a challenge to read a book you would never, ever, read. In his case, he's reading Private , a fictional tale of a 15-year-old's dealings at a private school in Connecticut. Since this book is aimed at teenage girls fascinated with high school gossip, this 42-year-old, happily-married man is reading something he is sure will be utter crap. Not even sure if he could read it the whole way through, he's taking the challenge. But I wonder: could I take the Self-Torture Book Challenge? At the moment, hell no! My feeling is, it's taken a long time to enjoy reading books for pleasure. Why should I try to jeopardize this? If I did, is this the beginning of payback for me? Meaning, payback for all the zany and silly TV shows, movies, and books I subjected my parents to as a child? Will I have a better understanding of what parents have to go through with their kids when they're young? Yikes. Yikes. Yikes. When it comes to free-t

Where's your anger? Where's your f@!l*# rage?

After watching the splendid American Hardcore Friday night, Ryan and I got to talking. Hardcore originally came from a time of great disdain for the current Republican administration. Ronald Reagan was the target of many, and as Henry Rollins puts it in the film, "oranges were hurled." Young people were pissed not just at politics, but the world around them. They wanted to do something drastically different from the norm. The deal is, Ryan and I wonder why there hasn't been something similar with George W. Bush's term in office. I could be completely overlooking something here, but here's my take. For one, back in '80-'85, there was no Warped Tour. There was no Green Day. There was no blink-182. And losers, drop-outs, nerds, punks, and angry youth were not mass-marketed to. If anything, hardcore was seen as a failure of society. It was what wayward, problem kids were into, as seen in unintentionally funny episodes of Quincy and CHiPs . It's what repo

The root of a routine

Mad props go to Mrs. J for her Green and Black Olive Chicken recipe . As a fan of almost anything chicken related, I'm looking forward to making this at my own house. The deal is, I rarely cook. And I rarely cook for anyone other than myself. Even if I had the kind of cash to eat out every day and night, I'd still want to eat a number of meals at home. There's something about home that can't really be replicated in a restaurant or an eatery. But my aversion to cooking has been relegated to making stuff that's easy to prepare and plenty for one meal. I'm not a big fan of leftovers. Plus, I'm the type that will eat the same thing for weeks straight and not tire of it. In a lot of aspects of my life, routine is good. Taking a walk every day, weather permitting, is great. Writing something every day is great. And when it comes to meals, I have a routine of favorites. I'm talking pizza, bean and rice burritos, assorted fruit, nuts, and Chinese food. As of lat