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Showing posts from March, 2009

But, doctor . . . I am Pagliacci

For whatever reason, I seem to be on a streak of watching a critically-acclaimed film from either the 70s, 80s, or 90s for the first time, and finding my opinion completely at odds with its present-day reputation. I thought I should point to my love of Watchmen , but my first viewing of it coincided with my first viewing of Ikiru , a film that I loved, even though it dragged in some places for me. If I were to boil down my interests on certain DVDs to watch, I have to say a lot of them come from this site, this site (with some caution), and this man, along with friends that know my interests. Three films I've recently seen all came from these primary sources, and knowing I'm slaughtering some sacred cows in the process, strongly disliked them. The first film that started this current streak was Heavenly Creatures , Peter Jackson's first non-splatter flick. I had heard great things about this film, and I've always been curious about the films Jackson made before the L

Cabin Disco Fever

Over the weekend, while doing some research for one of the two book projects I'm working on, I read Noel's A.V. Club feature , "From Asylums To Zombies: In Search Of A New Horror Classic." Noel highly recommended The Last House in the Woods , an Italian film that I initially rolled my eyes at simply because of its title. I mean, come on, we already have two Last House of the Left 's. Can we try to have a slightly different name, especially one that doesn't share part of it with one of the most memorable horror flicks of all time? Nevertheless, I thought about possible names of other horror flicks I would probably scoff at simply because of their name: The Last House Party on the Left Friday the 13th Floor Return of the Living Dead Alive Near Dark Floors Blue Steel Trap The Vanishing Point Break Cabin Disco Fever I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but what about a movie based on its title? I shall ponder that.

A different kind of interview

Recently reading a friend's Q&A meme, I realized it had been a while since I done one. Maybe that was a good thing? Well, instead of answering questions about my favorite color or food, I thought about answering questions that weren't written with me in mind. I thought it would be funny to take the questions from this interview and answer them. I don't mean to mock the person interviewed or the interviewer, I'm just reminded of a blogger friend who decided to read a book clearly written for teenage girls and he wrote a review of the book. You dance, sing and act in High School Musical 3 - but which of the three do you prefer? I tend to overact. At any time. Is that close enough? So I guess I'll say "act." What music do you listen to at home? I'm really excited about the Bruce Springsteen Tracks box set I recently picked up. Lots of great stuff I've never heard before, and it makes me want to check out more of Springsteen's seminal work.

Quack Fu!

There are certain things from my childhood that I'd prefer to not revisit. I hope to never get the hives again. I hope I never believe that skeletons come out and prowl the streets after midnight. I hope I never go back to watching movies on VHS and pan-and-scan. And I'd like to stay away from a repeat viewing of Howard the Duck . I loved Howard the Duck when I was a kid growing up in New Orleans. I had a poster of him and owned a comic book, and I watched the film at least once. Even though I can't really remember what all happened in the film, other than Howard popping out of a large egg and Lea Thompson dedicating a song to him towards the end of the film, I'd prefer to keep it that way. Why? It's not because the film is one of the most reviled films George Lucas has been a part of (next to The Phantom Menace ). Frankly, it's simply because of how there can be experiences, like bands and movies, that can only truly affect you in your youth. Trying to revisit

Communication: Duration

This past Saturday night, I figured I'd try something radical: go out without my cell phone on me. I was going to a venue less than ten minutes away from my house and I planned on dancing the entire time there. So, having a cell phone clipped to my pocket just didn't seem like the most essential thing for the night. I wasn't expecting any calls, so I left my phone on the kitchen table. At no point during the four hours I was away did I greatly miss my phone. When I wanted to know the time, I -- gasp -- asked some friendly folks for it. This all made me think about how important a cell phone really is. Moreover, it made me wonder about why we invest much of our daily lives into cell phone technology. Is it really warranted by need or just really want? Are the benefits really that incredibly better with it rather than without it? Given the circumstances that night, I didn't need to have the phone on me. There are plenty of other times and circumstances where a phone is a


Like my previous years at South by Southwest, my experience was just over the course of one day. I'm not complaining -- I doubt I could handle sixteen-hour-days on my feet seeing band after band. Since I could only really get away for a day, I decided that Friday would be the best day to go. Even though I had committed to going to a party in Plano late that night, I figured I could have fun in Austin during the day and drive back into town right as the party got going. Yes, I drove from Austin to Plano, and no matter how uncool Plano might be, a fun time was to be had with my friends. And I don't regret that at all. Since I've been through the experience of waiting in lines for hours trying to get into a night show, I figured I should stick to the free day parties. So right as the night shows began, I was back on the road. But I had a very productive day at the Radio Room. Even though I watched three bands play (the Thermals, Cut Off Your Hands , and Ra Ra Riot), they were

One more time with feeling

Recently listening to blink-182's Enema of the State , along with reading through Trevor's post about the band's recent announcement of their reunion, I think about when that record came out nearly ten years ago. Never did I think it was going to be such a big success for the band and an incredibly influential record for many years to come. I can recall talking with my friend Eddie, a guy who played in a fast pop-punk band called Thanx But No Thanx and just so happened to work at the sports gear store right next to the Best Buy I worked at, about Enema , among many other records at the time. Frankly, we just thought it was an even better record than Dude Ranch . I don't think at any point in our conversations did we believe that the record would sell millions of copies and make the band as influential as Green Day. We just liked the record, plain and simple. Now in hindsight, I believe I learned a valuable lesson about influential records in general: nothing guarantees

Who watches the Watchmen?

Last post on Watchmen , until I change my mind and think there's something else to say. I've heard plenty of complaints before with adapting books into movies. Without fail, there's always somebody who wants to complain that something was excised, minimized, or changed completely. Still, I'm rather puzzled at the sticklers who wanted Watchmen the movie to be a panel-by-panel recreation of the graphic novel (even though the "motion comic" produced a few years ago is now finally available on DVD). Just a friendly reminder to those that wanted a panel-by-panel adaptation: this is a film based on a graphic novel. The fact that anything from the graphic novel is in the film is a great thing, because for so long, it didn't look like that was going to happen. Plus, this is a film meant to be watched in one sitting. With the graphic novel, you can read the whole thing in a few days. I challenge anyone to read Watchmen in two and a half hours, the same length o

The Party's (Not) Over

This past weekend, I took in another theatrical screening of Watchmen . I wanted to see it again soon, but after reading David Hayter's open letter on Ain't It Cool News, I figured I should see it on Friday night. Hearing about the box office receipts last night and today, I was reminded of how often futile it seems to get behind any kind of cause. I don't mean to be all pessimistic, but I have to bring out this idea I've stated here: the true success of any film is that it a) got made b) got released, and c) is available for people to see. In the long run, that's what measures the lasting success of a film, not its box office totals. If you think I'm wrong and believe that only memorable movies make a lot of money at the box office, then forget about Citizen Kane , It's a Wonderful Life , Vertigo , Mallrats , Dazed and Confused , and A Christmas Story , to name a few. In the case of Watchmen , the fact that the movie is a very faithful adaptation (and is a

We'll be at the drive-in

Emo, to me, is the hair metal of now --John Congleton I heard many great quotes from the Paper Chase's John Congleton when I interviewed him for POST . He knows what he's talking about, and he knows how to articulate it extremely well. Thinking about his quote above, then watching the video for Poison's "Talk Dirty to Me" again, and then thinking about the shouty mall emo/screamo bands I've come across in the last six years, I wonder how this collison of emo, goth, hardcore, metal, the Warped Tour, Pro-Tools, and eyeliner will age. I think it's safe to say it will not age well. At all. If you just go off of sound, a song like "Talk Dirty to Me" is simply a glossy, almost power pop version of a number of Sex Pistols songs like "EMI" and "Pretty Vacant." There is no screaming or whining vocals -- just the epitome of 80s hair metal meant to be played in stadiums. The song itself is very much of its time, and while there's be

Hum Hallelujah

In my time on the air, I have developed a small arsenal of catchphrases that I use. Sometimes, there are lines that I use on special occasions, even if they might seem rather obscure and strange. I once described an overnight construction project going "all night long, just like the Lionel Richie song." Now, that's an easy one to spot, given how popular Lionel Richie was in the 1980s, and that was one of his biggest hits. But, in the last year or so, I came up with a line that is rather obscure, even though I argue that it is not. From time to time, when a really bad wreck finally clears up, I'll say, "Break out the Leonard Cohen songbooks and sing 'Hallelujah.'" Some may say, "huh?" but, as more years pass, Cohen's classic keeps becoming more familiar. I was introduced to "Hallelujah" the way that many people my age did: through Jeff Buckley's version on Grace . I've heard a few different versions, including Cohen'

The Burning

My review of The Burning is now online at Doomed Moviethon . Though he was a successful promoter of rock concerts, Harvey Weinstein, along with his brother Bob, wanted to get into making films in the early 1980s. They had a script, written before the release of the original Friday the 13th , called "The Cropsy Murderer". The Burning was to become Miramax’s first film, released many years before they released such films as Shakespeare in Love , Scream , and Good Will Hunting . Read the rest here .

Just a matter of time, I suppose.

I'm quite sure I'm not the only one out there who has this opinion, but I'll go ahead and say this: I did not like Watchmen , the graphic novel, but I loved Zack Snyder's film adaptation. I know with a lot of comic book geeks saying you didn't like Watchmen as a graphic novel is like a Christian saying he or she didn't like the Bible, but my one and only readthrough of the entire Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons epic yielded very unsatisfying results. I know people who have read Watchmen many times and have said that the book gets better with multiple readings. The deal is, if I didn't like it on the first readthrough, why should I read it again? Now that I've seen Watchmen as a film, I'm quite compelled to read it again. Maybe it was the book's artwork and the very, very 1980s vibe, but I found reading Watchmen in 2004 a very dated book. This is not a book that's easy to digest with its multi-leveled story, so repeat readings are pretty necessar

Mama, I'm Swollen

Earlier in the week, I posted about the new Cursive record getting an early digital release. Now there's an interview with Saddle Creek's Jason Kulbel about the decision to sell the record digitally earlier, and for so cheap. (HT: Interesting stuff, I must say. Again, I'm not thinking or proclaiming this is the way of the future. I just like hearing about labels embracing -- instead of fighting -- the digital age.

We may be donkeys, but at least we have a tale to tell

There was a time in my life (2002 to be precise) when I listened to a lot of Bright Eyes. I had heard about Conor's work around the time of the Every Day and Every Night EP, and my friend Nick claims to have played something from it for me on a late-night trip back from Austin. The hour was late and I was just trying to stay awake, so my memory is very hazy. Plus, I don't think that qualifies as the best kind of situation to be properly introduced to potentially life-changing artist. (Then again, years later, Nick played Tom Waits's Small Change late one night in his loft in Chicago, and my life was changed.) Anyway, summer of 2002, Bright Eyes' Lifted came out and it was my favorite record of the year. The lyrics, the musical presentation, and Conor's singing all clicked perfectly with me and where my life was at the time. Now (and this has been the case for the last couple of years) I find myself not listening to Bright Eyes for the same reasons. With Lifted n

After Post

Currently, I have no plans to re-release Post with updates on the bands that I featured. There's a reason why it has "1985-2007" in the title: that's the timeline I mainly covered in my research. Some things happened in 2008 that happened either right before or right after the book came out, like Hot Water Music and the Get Up Kids reuniting. Now in 2009, some big news has come forward: not only did Jimmy Eat World perform Clarity in its entirety on a special tour, but Blake Schwarzenbach's new band, the Thorns of Life, shall record their debut album with J. Robbins. To me, it's not about being the most up-to-date on everything a band has done. Rather, Post is an attempt to explain why these bands are so revered in the first place.

Don't want to live in the now/don't want to know what I know

Many thanks to Aubin at for posting the following news item: the new Cursive album, Mama, I'm Swollen , is now available as a paid digital download, even though it won't come out on CD and vinyl until March 10th. At only two bucks today (the price goes up one dollar until March 10th), I couldn't really say no to this. The MP3s are at 320 kbps and the artwork comes with it. Again, I couldn't say no. I'm not one to say this should be the new model for album distribution, but I must say, this is a great idea. In the past, Saddle Creek has embraced the digital world much better than other labels, and I'm happy they're doing this special. As somebody who has yet to purchase an entire album on iTunes or Amazon's MP3 store for various reasons, this deal is pretty much a steal. (And it's a great album.) I have yet to get on board with Amazon's MP3 store due to the program one must download in order to download songs. It's not that I don