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Showing posts from January, 2010

The accidental completist

There was a time when, if I loved one album by a band, I often felt compelled to get the rest of the band's catalog. But even back when I listened to a lot of pop-punk, I showed some restraint. I still don't have all of Screeching Weasel's records (their debut album and Wiggle have never made it into the library) or NOFX's albums (I have almost every release between Ribbed and The Decline ). Now with authors, there are a few that I want to read everything he or she has written. People like Chuck Klosterman and Greg Kot are some of those distinguished few, but kind of partially by accident, I have almost every Stephen King book published. Trust me, it wasn't planned to be this way. For years, I only owned two Stephen King books: On Writing and Cell . In the last three months, as you know from reading this blog, the number of King books in my library has skyrocketed. As in, I'm down to only a handful of books of his that I don't have. Basically, the l

I order pizza about seven nights a week

Last week, I blogged about Domino's Pizza's new "turnaround pizza." As luck would have it, I got to try some of the new pizza over the weekend. Due to proximity of a Domino's to where my nieces celebrated their third birthday (it was next door), I, along with a handful of parents and a dozen toddlers got to taste this pizza. Yes, a pizza that's been fifty years in the making, and consulted by Twitter feeds and focus groups, got to enter my hungry mouth. And my verdict? The pizza is an improvement over the original recipe, but aside from the buttery crust, I think if you served somebody who didn't know the pizza was from Domino's (and didn't know there was a new recipe), he or she would not know a major difference. I liked what I had (a few pepperoni, a few cheese, and one hamburger) and I would have no problem having the pizza again. But for me, the true test was seeing how well the pizza worked as leftovers. I despised leftover pizza when I was

Written In Reverse

It's only January, and probably one of the biggest musical surprises I've had is from a band I've known about for twelve years: Spoon. Yup, their latest, Transference , is really rocking my mind. And I'm quite sure to say the record will be on my year-end favorite list. In no way do I claim bias because of a certain lineup change that happened when their previous record, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga , was recorded. Rather, something about the band started really click for me then, and Transference is a logical payoff. Maybe it's just my ears, but what has often eluded me about Spoon's music is the lack of a big chorus. I have yet to hear a song that just ripped into a distortion-filled chorus while Britt Daniel plays an open-G chord that's backed by angelic harmonies. Nope, the sparseness of the band's sound has always been front and center. You have to listen closely to hear the nuances, which is the beauty of the band's catalog. I can recall standing outsid

The Walking Dead

More information is trickling through about Frank Darabont's forthcoming television adaptation of The Walking Dead for AMC. As somebody who has never read the comic book or watched a single TV episode on AMC (meaning, I've never seen an episode of Mad Men or Breaking Bad ), I will watch this. And I will watch this just because Frank Darabont is on board as writer, director, and executive producer. I credit Darabont's passion for his projects (watch any of the documentaries on his movies or listen to any of his commentaries to understand) for why I will give this tale of post-zombie apocalypse a chance. Even when he made something that a lot of people dismissed ( The Majestic ), his desire to make something worthwhile and enjoyable is pretty obvious right away. Still, I'm not entirely sold on checking out the half-dozen trade paperbacks that collect the Walking Dead series so far. There have been times that I've tried to read a celebrated graphic novel or trad

The Dryer Wars IV: No World for Tomorrow

I hope something in the universe doesn't treat this as a way to torture me after I post this, but it looks like our dryer woes have come to an end. They actually came to an end a couple of weeks ago, but I was hesitant to say they were over because I thought they had been over a couple of times before. Now I'm pretty sure. As in, 95 percent sure they're done, leaving 5 percent to the possibility they aren't. In our entire cast of repairmen that came out to work on our problem, the second electrician was the one who saved the day. He also saved the day the last time, but it looks like his fix has fixed the problem for good. The problem? Wiring in the circuit breaker. One of the wires used to have a white coating, but it sure wasn't pure white anymore. There were some small burn marks over certain spots, giving us the impression that some sparks flew. So the electrician just put the wire into a different spot on the breaker and everything has worked fine since. If

Turn around, pizza eyes

If you've watched any NFL football game in at least the last month, you've seen Domino's newest ad campaign. Taking longtime criticism of their pizza to heart, they believe they've come up with a better-tasting pizza. A "turnaround" pizza as it has been called. Folks in the Onion's Chicago office recently tried it and gave their verdicts. And I got hungry. Not specifically for Domino's pizza, but for pizza in general. I still eat pizza every week, so it's a good excuse. In the case of the turnaround pizza, I have yet to try it. Matter of fact, I can't recall when I last ate Domino's or Papa John's. Aside from a mini-party at my office a few months ago where Pizza Hut was delivered, my consumption of national chain pizza has been very small. Alas, there was a time when I didn't eat small, frozen, made-for-one pizzas courtesy of DiGiorno's. In my family, Sunday was the day to eat pizza. When we lived in New Orleans, we ate at

Chili and donuts

This past weekend, I experienced two different movies that I responded to in exactly polar opposite ways: Black Dynamite and Rob Zombie's Halloween 2 . I had considered watching Halloween 2 a few hours before Black Dynamite , but I chose to watch them on different nights ( Black Dynamite on Saturday night and Halloween 2 on Sunday night). Boy did I make the right call with that one. I will admit that I was really excited to see Black Dynamite while I had more of a curiosity in seeing Halloween 2 . I mean, while I have a lot of hostility towards remakes in general, Zombie's first Halloween is quite good (and Richard really, really liked the theatrical version of H2 ). Knowing that the unrated, director's cut of H2 is what you get on DVD, I figured this was closer to what Zombie wanted in his mind instead of the studio's. Can't go wrong there, right? Well, what Zombie had in mind wasn't exactly what I had in mind for something I'd like to purchase,

Don't take her, she's all I got

When I watch a movie that I find unsatisfying, I find plenty of satisfaction when that movie introduces to me a great song that I had never heard before. That makes for the overall experience to be a positive thing, even if I don't plan on watching that movie ever again. A few years ago, I was introduced to a wonderful song by the Kinks that was from their mid-1970s period called "God's Children." The song was used in a beautiful-looking movie that was filled with flat attempts at humor and mostly one-note characters: American Fork . Since seeing that, "God's Children" has become one of my favorite Kinks songs, right along with songs like "Waterloo Sunset" and "When I See That Girl of Mine." So, I thank the filmmakers, but wonder what I learned in those other 85 minutes. I'm still in the dark on that one. Anyway, I watched Mike Judge's Extract over the weekend, and would give it two-and-a-half-stars. Since Netflix only goe

And why does the library keep growing?

To bookend yesterday's post: why keep buying all these Stephen King books? Well, I have LOST to thank, as well as the Harry Potter books. One of the biggest, most rewarding elements of watching LOST and reading all seven Harry Potter books is how there's a great human story combined with lots of payoff for those paying attention to details. You are rewarded for rewatching an old episode or re-reading a passage based on what you know happens later. In other words, this stuff isn't just meant to be a standalone venture. If you're a fan, you'll be rewarded handsomely. As somebody who likes seeing references doubling as Easter eggs, Stephen King's body of work is filled with them. That's why I wanted to pick up the entire Dark Tower series, as well as books like It , The Stand , and The Tommyknockers . Sure, you can get plenty out of just reading the books by themselves, but there's a lot going on with canon and continuity that you can't help not

And the library keeps growing

One of the things that Jason was kind enough to leave behind when he moved was an entire wall of empty bookshelves. These are short shelves that are attached the wall, and they've served as a way of keeping track of which books I have yet to read. (If I put all of my read and unread books together, I'd lose track of the unread ones.) The deal is, my ongoing love of collecting (and reading) Stephen King hardbacks has ballooned into a full shelf and soon, two full shelves. But how many of those books have I actually read? Well, I'm actually in the middle of reading A.J. Jacobs' fantastic The Year of Living Biblically after reading a number of short stories from King's Skeleton Crew collection. I want to pace myself here: read something by King, then read something by somebody else. I don't want any burnout here. And I want to read all of these books in a reasonable timeframe. My new year resolution is still intact: I am reading more pages everyday compared to

Astoria

This week's edition of the A.V. Club's Q&A is on pop-culture pilgrimages. As I read it today, I thought of a funny little pilgrimage that relates to something I've never shared here. Nevermind the Bottle Rocket tour I took a few years ago or the desire to hit up the Texas town where The Last Picture Show was filmed. No, this is something completely different. Back in 1996, while on family vacation in London, I expressed an interest in checking out the London Astoria club. Sure, I wanted to see the Tower of London, Big Bend, and so on, but this was a personal desire to see this place. The reason why? A few months before, Metallica played a warm-up gig at the Astoria before playing a huge festival. I didn't want to go to a show there. I just wanted to see the venue, take a picture, and leave. Yes, my fandom of Metallica led me to have such a desire. (I also picked up their new record, Load , at the Tower Records in Picadilly Circus.) My sister didn't understa

It will get loud

As I mentioned before the holiday break, I have a new band going. What thankfully happened over last weekend was a jam session where we could play as loud as we wanted to. We rented a room out for the afternoon and just let everything out. And it was fantastic. This said, I would not trade the months of working on song ideas at a manageable volume level. The three of us learned to lock in with each other by hearing everything we did. Now with the recent practice, we were able to take things many steps up. I have the attitude that if you're in a rock band, you have to play like you're in a rock band. Dynamics are important, yes, but if you're going to wimp out on the drums when it's time to let loose, then you're doing a disservice to everyone in your band. So when I was asked to play quieter in a mostly-rock back-up band situation a few years ago, I adjusted my style. I thought it seemed to work fine, and the other band members told me I was doing a great job. Bu

I'm working, but I'm not working for you

So, I thought I would never blog about my dryer again. In the words of Mike Ness, I was wrong. Well, after a couple of breaker flips between the time I thought everything was back working and last night, we're having almost the same problem. Start a load in the dryer, the dryer light is on, but only see the dryer stop working a minute later and the dryer light turns off. Flip the breaker a few times, and the dryer light comes back on. Start the dryer, it runs. Then it stops working a minute or so later. Flip the breaker again a few times, and the light comes back on. Run the dryer again, it runs, and then it stops working. I know there are bigger things in life to get angry about, but I was about to start acting like Jack Bauer last night. After getting five (yes, five: two were from electricians, one was a washer/dryer repairman, one from my landlord, and one from my father) different opinions on what the problem is, I think it's safe to say that there is some form of disco

A Doomed Moviethon (Mostly European Edition)

I've mentioned this before, but since it's mainly his project, my friend Richard recently gave us the scoop on his upcoming European horror film book. I have already written a few reviews and articles for the book, but the idea for spotlighting horror flicks from the first decade of the 21st century is Richard's. I'm always up for recommendations on horror flicks, and agreeing to do this project has introduced me to some great films I had never heard of. For every great, widely-known one like The Descent , there's also gems like Severance and Creep . Sure, not every film that I've reviewed is great, but we want to at least expose people to modern horror flicks that aren't crappy remakes of horror classics. Right now, the book is like a guide for people who like horror films, but tend to get dissuaded by the news about another film that shouldn't be remade getting remade. While no amount of whining will stop remakes getting made, there's still a l

A resolution that is possible to keep

I'm not that big on making resolutions in the New Year, but there's a resolution I have really no excuse in not doing: reading more! Too often, I find when people make a big announcement about trying to change something big in their lives, they never get to it. They start entire blogs, bring the topic up at parties, and so on. But whether it's losing weight or quitting smoking, they don't follow-through. I'm no different, so I'm a little hesitant to make any announcement unless I'm 100 percent committed. Right now I'd say I'm 90 percent committed to this one. One of my resolutions last year was something I hoped I could do, but wasn't totally committed to doing: watching all of the DVDs I had never seen on a flatscreen on on my then-new flatscreen TV. Shortly into trying that, I realized that yes, everything looked bigger and better, but that was expected. So I went ahead with watching movies and TV shows in widescreen all the time and have no

Just Like the Rain

The new year is starting off on a great note in many ways. One of them is in reference to the music of Richard Hawley. Somewhere in the archives of this here blog, you'll find a post about how crazy I went for Scott Walker's music after I picked up a copy of 5 Easy Pieces at the closing Tower Records in Dallas. Well, I wouldn't say right now that my love for the dark crooner pop of Mr. Walker is as intense for Mr. Hawley's chamber pop, but it's quite strong. The deal is, Richard Hawley is by no means a new name for me. It's just now that I've decided to jump into his stuff. A few years ago, while at a birthday party for my friend TJ, a lot of Hawley's songs came up on the iPod set up to the stereo. I was quite taken with the songs I heard and talked with a few people about his music. The deal is, I've experienced quite a few times when songs sound great while dancing or at a party, but the impact isn't the same when you're sitting at hom