Skip to main content


Showing posts from June, 2010

In 3D

As a way of ending our fist vacation together, Diana and I decided to see Toy Story 3 on Monday night. Unlike my experience of hoping to see Avatar in 3D (which resulted in an unadvertised, VHS-quality 2D version that greatly paled in comparison to how it looks on Blu-ray), we got to see Toy Story 3 in 3D. The last time I saw a movie in 3D was Captain EO . Yeah, it's been a while. I understand those who hate the cash-grab that is 3D these days. I'm (no surprise here) not really pro or con about it. I don't think I would have had a lesser experience seeing the film in 2D, but I definitely think I would have had a lesser experience had I not seen it in a theater with a good sound system and a packed audience. There's a reason why I see certain movies in a theater and a lot of other ones at home: it's about the experience. I think the best way to see a movie like Iron Man is in a theater. I think the best way to experience Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is in a theat

Camping out

Hearing about the lines outside the Apple stores in town last week, I also heard about those who chose to camp out days in advance to be the first in line for a new iPhone. Couple that with those who decided to camp out for Eclipse and I wondered if I would ever camp out for anything like a movie or an electronic gadget. The answer is definitely no. Sidewalks are not designed for people to live on. They're meant to walk on instead of walking on a street with cars. Plus, especially at this early part of summer, being outside in the heat for too long can be rather dangerous. But there's a bigger reason why I wouldn't camp out for a movie or an iPhone: the movie is still the same movie the following day, weeks, months while the iPhone will probably have plenty of bugs to work out in the first few weeks. Is that really something worth giving up a part of your summer vacation to do? Maybe I've just become too comfortable with my air conditioned life and just won't live

On returning

I'm back from my first real trip as a grown-up. I've vacationed by myself before, but that usually meant staying on a friend's couch and hanging out. This was a full-blown trip that Diana and I conspired together on, and I must say it was a wonderful time. Aside from reservations at a bed and breakfast in Little Rock on Friday and lunch plans with Donna and Noel on Saturday, we really made everything up as we went along. Doing that was probably the best kind of trip we could have done. We explored some of north Little Rock on our first night and ate dinner at a place that served pizza, salad, wine, and gelato. Went with just the pizza and gelato and we were good. The following day, after a few years of trading e-mails and reading each others' writing, I finally met the fine folks that are Donna and Noel, as well as their two very well-behaved children. Archer was fascinated by the World Cup while Cady Gray read a Pokemon book diligently while us grown-ups talked about v

Staff Trax

This week's edition of Staff Trax is devoted to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I don't truly believe I'm an out-and-out loser, but I find this song very apropos for those who want to do things yet take years to break through. As if that couldn't be vague enough.

Trail Mix

As Diana and I prepare for a few days out of town together this weekend, I'm putting the finishing touches on something I originally planned to be a one-disc affair: a roadtrip mix. But this is me, Mr. Oh Wait There's That Song That I'd Love to Hear Too. So, it's now a four -disc set. Add to the pile is a David Garza compilation and (hopefully) a disc of stuff Diana wants to hear, and we're pretty set for driving around Arkansas for a few days. A band I keep coming back to with this mix set is the one and only, Fleet Foxes. I still think the praise for their debut album was a little exaggerated when it was released, but there are some really, really pretty songs on it . . . even if I can't help but think of My Morning Jacket. (To deal with such, I've thrown in MMJ songs on the discs that feature the Fleet Foxes.) Since I've only seen Arkansas in pictures and heard about it from friends, I expect to see lots of hills and mountains. In turn, I put a lot of


I've heard rumblings about this for months, and now the rumblings have become louder : Fort Worth's Ridglea Theater may be no more soon. Gulp. I have not lived in Fort Worth since 2002, but I still occasionally visit to see friends and/or a show. The Ridglea is one of the few venues I went to and still went to whenever there was a good show. I'm not talking just good local shows; I saw Godspeed! You Black Emperor, Dinosaur Jr, the Flaming Lips, and the Dillinger Escape Plan there. And, oh yeah, I saw the greatest show I've ever seen there too: Fugazi in 2002. So, please allow some extra sorrow to emanate from me about this place closing up shop. I know this is a venue and a business and a business can't last forever and ever. But since I put more emotional attachment to a physical place (and also have a hard time coming to grips with its closure and/or demolition), this is a hard thing to take. In some ways, I equate this to a house you either grew up in or spent ma

Oral histories

As I keep tinkering with the first proper draft of When We Were the Kids , I stand firm that this should be told in the oral history format. There are way too many characters that a third-person narrator and a narrative would be detrimental. There are a lot of voices and it can't just be one person. In a roundabout way, the oral histories I've read in the past ten years have served as examples of what I want to do and what I don't want to do my book. Aside from Punk Rock , I've read (or am about to read) every oral history I know of. I've read Please Kill Me , U2 by U2 , All Over But the Shouting , and so on. I hope to read I'll Sleep When I'm Dead and The Clash sometime this year. I still stand behind the idea that Fool the World is the best oral history I've ever read. The way the story of the Pixies unfolds is fantastic and pretty much everyone ever involved with the band has something good to say. The flow is what I'm trying to do with WWWTK .

Gold Box

With a lot of DVD fans slowly replacing their standard DVDs with Blu-ray discs, I really, really hope this is the last bastion of high definition discs. Bring on the 3D television sets so someday my children will get to watch movies like when Luke saw Leah for the first time in A New Hope . All I ask is that the 1080p resolution not be topped. It's still stunning to look at. It's just not stunning to look at a DVD collection with multiple copies of the same freakin' movie. Last week, Amazon had another one of their I'd-be-stupid-to-pass-up Gold Box deals: the entire Matrix collection on Blu-ray for only fifty dollars. That's right, the three proper films, along with the Animatrix shorts and all those documentaries from the standard edition box set (including the one Donna was interviewed for). Even though I got a used copy of the standard DVD box set for cheap last year, I have to admit that the Matrix movies must be seen in Blu-ray. I want those greens, blacks,

Fast Cars

Friday night, I was lucky enough to see the legendary Buzzcocks at the Loft. My fellow Observer writer Doug Davis seemed to perfectly sum up the show in his review , but I wanted to add a couple of observations. For as long as I've enjoyed punk rock, I have always hated being in a mosh pit. Pits are fun to watch in Pearl Jam and Pantera videos, but they're not fun when you're trying to enjoy the music in person. I prefer to have my eyes on the band and not on somebody wanting to treat other people like a pinball machine. The pit at the Buzzcocks was nowhere near the kind of pit I found myself stuck in when I saw Green Day in the late 1990s. Nobody was stage-diving and from what I could see, nobody got hurt. I was able to stay upfront for most of the first half of the set, but the tide pushed me over to stage left, where Alan from the Observer just happened to be. For the rest of the set, I stood comfortably even though a girl in dreads thought it was so awesome that she s

Reading surges

The reading surge is still going, thankfully. Last weekend, in a 24-hour span, I was able to read Stephen King's new novella, Blockade Billy . I'm still reading Gimme Something Better and it's been like an egg cracking on the side of a pan for me. I have gained a lot of inspiration from this book in terms of how I want to finish the first complete draft of When We Were the Kids . As I get through its near-500 pages, I'm charting the course with which Stephen King book to tackle next. For the Constant Readers that have been reading King's work, you know there is a lot of overlap and references with many of his books. I did not know this until I bought a couple of his books last year. That's pretty much the primary reason why I now own all of his books, save for that book he co-wrote on the Boston Red Sox's championship season. What's been a little daunting about the whole desire to read all of his work is knowing which should be read first. I decided to

Come on up for the rising

For as long as I've enjoyed Bruce Springsteen's work with the E Street Band, I've been really, really late with diving that far into his essential work beyond Born to Run . My lateness will continue until Sony ponies up and remasters Nebraska , The River , Darkness on the Edge of Town , and Born in the U.S.A. I'm not hoping for a deluxe reissue like the Born to Run CD/DVD set -- I just want better-sounding discs that don't sound flat. If you want to understand why, just pop one of the CDs into your car or iTunes and be ready to play with the volume knob. It truly sucks to hear the depth of these records be zapped and I won't stand for it. And I won't be giving in and buying the records on vinyl. If there's a sound I hate more than anything, it's the pops and crackles with vinyl records. While I wait for that to ever come to fruition, I recently picked up Bruce's last three records with the E Street Band, The Rising , Magic , and Working On a Dr

September 15th

Barring any natural disasters, dismemberment, or family crisis, I have placed a deadline on finishing my first draft of When We Were the Kids . I'm under no other deadline, but this book has been kicking around in my head for four years. It's time to get something really going. By no means have I had a bout of writer's block. Far from it, actually. Almost every day for the past few months, I've come up with something that can be used and that streak continues. I can chip at things all I want, but I have to really kick things into gear or this will never get done. So, for the reason I wanted to have a first full draft by the end of summer, I just picked the middle of September as my deadline. That gives me plenty of time and I'm committed to that date. As of late, the recently-released oral history Gimme Something Better has inspired me to try a chapter format that I'm quite sure will help make my book easier to read. When you're inspired, go for it and keep

Reading surge

Something that happened last year almost happened again this year. After trying to finish one book for a couple of months, the next book I read took me only two days to finish. Last year, I read Carrie Fisher's Wishful Drinking in one sitting on a Saturday afternoon. This year, after taking a couple of months to read the 1,153 pages that is The Stand , I read the 200-pager Carrie in essentially two days (I read the first twenty pages about a month ago while on a video shoot). What's going on here? Too often, with the constant desire to work on my next book, surf the Internet, watch DVDs, and check out Facebook, reading often becomes reduced to a sleep aid. I like to read a few pages before I take my afternoon nap and before I hit the hay for the night. Reading makes my eyes relax most of the time, so that's how it can take me months to finish one freakin' book. As I reached the final 200 pages of The Stand , I was determined to finish no matter what. With all these hu