Monday, July 30, 2007

Bergman R.I.P.

Antonius Block: I shall remember this moment: the silence, the twilight, the bowl of strawberries, the bowl of milk. Your faces in the evening light. Mikael asleep, Jof with his lyre. I shall try to remember our talk. I shall carry this memory carefully in my hands as if it were a bowl brimful of fresh milk. It will be a sign to me, and a great sufficiency.


[In response to Death coming for him]
Jonas Skat: Is there no exemption for actors?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Bad Boys: What ARE You Gonna Do?

Every now and then I'll be flipping through the channels during dinner and I'll catch the opening of Cops. Doing so recently, it really struck me that the theme for Cops has to be one of the most well-chosen TV theme tunes in TV history. It establishes the perfect tone for the show. Instead of going with, say, some generic big-budget, studio-produced, saxophone-laden orchestral music, which might have made the show seem too over-the-top or melodramatic, they went with a sleazy late 80s reggae tune, which makes the show seem a bit less threatening, and a little more...silly. Rather than coming off like corrupt authoritarian assholes, the cops now come off more like bleary-eyed civil service workers just trying to do their job so they can go home and take a shower, and instead of seeming like menacing dangers to society, the criminals come off more like rambunctious childen who simply can't help misbehaving. It's like, "Bad Boys: what are you gonna do?" The music gives the show a more relaxed quality, a grittier quality. It's the kind of music that the show's unwitting victims might plausibly be listening to while the cops bust through their front door. It sort of says, "Here we are, in the streets, for real." Or alternately, "Being a cop is no glamorous Hollywood job; it's more like a sleazy reggae song." I never really watched the show, even as a kid, because I always just sort of figured, "Hey, it's none of my business." You know, let the cops do their job, give the criminals their privacy, I don't need to see it. The premise was a little too voyeuristic for me.

Nevertheless, given the magic of the internet, I have downloaded "Bad Boys," which I've discovered is performed by the reggae group Inner Circle. Let's just state the obvious: this song is awesome. I rarely listen to reggae, for reasons too numerous to mention here, but one of them is that it's often too mellow and not funky enough. But "Bad Boys" is just a pure slice of unstoppable groove. The best part of the song, as the show's producers duly noted, is the opening. It sounds more like the fade-out than the opening. It's like the band was too laid-back to actually start off with the groove; instead they sort of had to lazily work their way up toward the groove. The rhythm just sort of tumbles into place after a few bars - maybe like the sound of someone revving up the engine of a '76 Camaro, if you will. The singer does a terrific job of sliding on into it with some soulful grunts and hollers. He starts off with a solid "Huuh!" then pauses for a few bars of steel drum rattling before bringing it on with an initial "Bad Boys!" (pronounced more like "Bed Boys") and a nice "Whatcha want, whatcha want, whatcha gonna do-eh..." The beat comes in under the second "whatcha want," right where you can totally feel it. But oh no, he's not done: "...when Sheriff John Brown come for you." You know, Sheriff John Brown, from "I Shot The Sheriff"? They're in the reggae zone, man. We get a little bit of ghostly synthesizer riffing for a few more bars, then he comes back with a gutteral "Tell Me!" followed by "Whatcha wanna do? Whatcha gonna doo-woo" and slams it on home with a final, nasty "Kh-yeah-hea." This '76 Camaro is humming along like a beauty. And by that time we're finally ready for the chorus.

I don't think I need to sing it for you.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Daring Poverty of Our English Hotels

English hotel rooms are tiny. If you get a room with two beds, one of them will be a foldout sofa with no frame--a mushy lumpy mass of sub-Ikea grade fluff. Or perhaps that's just the Holiday Inn Express in Southampton.

Another observation--English pubs serve beer without almost any carbonation, making it much easier to drink.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Paul McCartney's Best Bass Lines

I was chatting with the bassist for the Chinatown Bakeries the other day when we began discussing good bass playing. We asked each other who we thought were the best bass players. I said that the only bass player whose playing ever actually stood out to me while listening to his band's music was Paul McCartney. He nodded in relative agreement, possibly impressed by my insider's knowledge of bass playing. I added that Paul's bass playing was more melodic than usual, and then asked him if I sounded like I knew what I was talking about. He laughed and said I was doing a pretty good job of faking it.

John Lennon once said something along the lines of "Paul's an egomaniac about everything else, but he's always been coy about his bass-playing. He's one of the best players in rock." Indeed, Paul has been so good at so many other things that people rarely talk about his bass playing. And maybe it's because I've listened to the Beatles' songs so many more times than anybody else's songs that I've eventually noticed every single detail, including something as supposedly minor as the bass playing. But honestly, Paul's bass lines are the only ones I've heard that I really think add something to the songs he plays on. My bass-playing co-worker threw out the other typical names like Flea and Les Claypool, but I've never been too impressed by those guys - maybe because I'm not too impressed by their respective bands. I mean, think of the songs McCartney had to work with. Maybe anybody would have sounded good playing "Something" and "With a Little Help From My Friends." Along those lines, the Beatles' records were also produced better than everyone else's. Maybe the guy in Moby Grape was just as good as Paul McCartney, but since Moby Grape recorded their music in a beaten-down shack, nobody could ever tell. John Entwistle of the Who and John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin are also two impressive bass players, but the thing is, everybody knows they are impressive bass players. They're like the Hendrix and Clapton of bass players. With McCartney, his bass lines are like a secret little treat, because you only notice them after you've noticed all the other major stuff on Beatles songs and thought there wasn't anything else left to notice. In a nutshell, the bass playing simply didn't need to be as good as it is. But when it comes to the Beatles, our cup runneth over.

Here, then, are Little Earl's Top Ten Paul McCartney Bass Lines:

(I suggest turning up the bass on your headphones to fully appreciate this list)

10. "Taxman"

Yeah. You know how this one goes. The Jam even ripped it off and barely wrote their own song around it, but hey, they didn't need to do much else.

9. "Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey"

Listen to that shit. He is rockin' that son of a bitch.

8. "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"

Yes, yes, you've heard the song a million times, I'm sure, but just this once go listen to it while only paying attention to the bass line. It's so distinctive that I've been able to recognize the song while it was being played in another room even though I couldn't hear any other instrument.

7. "Michelle"

Maybe you don't notice it at first, but listen closely and you'll realize that it's fucking amazing. They say that bass playing fills in all the gaps that the other instruments don't play. Not only is McCartney filling in the gaps, he's creating new gaps of his own and filling those.

6. "With A Little Help From My Friends"

Pay special attention to the sequence right after the words 'What do I do when my love is away?"/"How do I feel by the end of the day." Dude. He could slay dragons with runs like that.

5. "Penny Lane"

The first ten seconds alone. Fuck. There's better bass playing in the first ten seconds of "Penny Lane" than in the entirety of most bands' discographies.

4. "Paperback Writer"

At the time of its release, "Paperback Writer," so they say, featured the most prominent bass playing ever heard on a rock record. This is especially apparent in the stereo mix, where Paul's bass actually gets its own stereo channel (right). The group was actually told by EMI's engineers that it would not be technically possible to have the bass that loud on a record; they feared that it would push the needle right out of the groove or something catastrophic of that nature. Turns out the only thing it pushed was the song...into the realms of uncategorizable human achievement. Also check out "Rain" (the B-side) while you're at it, where Paul's bass is only eclipsed by Ringo's self-proclaimed "best drumming ever."

3. "Baby You're A Rich Man"

Paul's bass guitar is pretty much the lead guitar on this song. He could have killed a small child with playing like this.

2. "Something"

Yeah, George does a pretty good solo. But he's almost out-soloed by Paul's bass solo! It's an especially moving "duel of the solos" given that Paul and George were really not getting along very well at this point. In fact, Paul later said that he was worried that George might find the bass playing "too busy," but defended it by saying that he just wanted to make the song as good as possible. If that doesn't sum up why I find Abbey Road the most moving album ever, then nothing else would.

1. "Hey Bulldog"

Ladies and gentlemen, the champion. This is the greatest bass playing you will ever hear.

Honorable Mention: "Lovely Rita"

So yes, despite what everybody says, the Beatles really did have a virtuoso musician in their band. He just happened to be the motherfuckin' bass player. Truth be told, Ringo is a much better drummer than people realize. But I'll defend Ringo another time.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Rock Band Is Dead

Allow me to go out on a limb here and make a bold statement: The guitar-bass-drums style "rock band" is dead.

Dead. Dead as a fuckin' doornail. Dead as a politician's career after using the "N" word in public. Just plain dead.

It no longer has anything new to offer. It is an outmoded template. People are squeezing the lemon so dry that by now it's just a pulpy piece of useless goo. "Rock bands" are now a simulacra of rock bands: they used to mean something to someone some time ago, but no one quite remembers what, exactly, they meant.

All these bands: the Strokes, the Killers, the Libertines, Franz Ferdinand, Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys, etc., etc. You name them. They all sound the same to me. I feel like I should like them, but in the back of my brain I know somehow that I just don't. What's the problem? Why do they fail to register in any meaningful way?

I think there are several answers to this question, and they all lead back to the same place: the "rock band" is motherfuckin' dead.

Let me try to edify my own feelings by attempting to nail, for my own personal pleasure, just why I really haven't been impressed by any of these bands:

1. The times they have a'changed

Musicians can no longer act like it's 1965 - or even 1995 for that matter. What worked like a charm then is simply way too familiar by now. The rock bands of the 60s weren't great because they were "rock bands," they were great because the idea of the "rock band" was fresh and exciting. There was a reason why the musicians were using that format. They could not afford anything else. They wanted to make the biggest variety of sounds (and get the biggest amount of noise) with as few instruments as possible, and guitar-bass-drums was pretty much the sure-fire way to do it. I get the feeling that the current rock bands are only being rock bands because they think they're "supposed" to be rock bands. The nature of recorded music-making has drastically changed. The best acts of the last decade or so have acknowledged this change, and I think their music will hold up better as a result. But a lot of people are still stuck on the "rock band" - and this includes rock critics.

Because these bands are following the familiar format of the past, rock critics are going apeshit over this stuff. But music is as its best when it's unfamiliar. Yes, it's hard to praise stuff when it's unfamiliar, but that doesn't make the familiar stuff any better.

Also, keep in mind that in the 60s the musical scene was basically concentrated in a few key places (mostly by accident). If you wanted music you had to buy a record. If you couldn't afford a record you had to listen to the radio. If you wanted to see your favorite band you had to go to the concert. If you couldn't afford a concert you had to watch the TV show performance. But the end result was that everybody was on the same page. Now everything's too diffuse. Nobody's paying attention to the same scene. All we've got is just a bunch of subgroups of subgroups. And yet these bands and these rock critics are still acting like there's one big scene. The byproduct is that bands keep getting hyped as "the next big thing" when they really have no way of evolving into anything truly exciting - because there is no organic "scene." Instead it's just a lot of rock critics wishing there was a scene.

Also, popular music was something that was much more rare back then, because it was actually expensive to make. The sounds of a professional recording studio were not easy to reproduce on the cheap. When people bought a record, they were actually paying for something that cost something. Therefore popular music had a mystique that it simply doesn't have today. So you know what else is dead besides the rock band? Mystique. Mystique is also motherfuckin' dead.

2. They're trying too hard

The first great rock bands didn't know there was such a thing as a great rock band. They became great rock bands by accident. The Beatles weren't sitting around trying to be the "next great rock band"; they were just making it up as they went along. As a result, the music of the first great rock bands was much more organic and spontaneous. They weren't trying, they were just...being.

It's like taking a crap. The Beatles just sat down on the toilet and it just flowed out with a graceful ease. These other bands that are out right now, they're squeezing and pushing and bending over in desperation, trying to will the great music out of themselves. They're constipated. They're fucking constipated.

Now before you brand me a musical nihilist, or a hopeless nostalgic, let me just say that I do think that it is still quite possible for musicians to make really enjoyable popular music. But they have to come to the table with a fresh approach. In some ways, the best that people could really aim for right now is something along the lines of "great throwaway music." Because you could not "blow people's minds with an amazing new sound" right now. The system is simply not set up that way anymore. What the best bands of the past ten years have done is work on a smaller scale, with smaller ambitions. Oh, they've still pitched their music to a potentially broader audience, but the key is that they haven't been too concerned with finding that audience in a hurry. They've understood that word-of-mouth was their friend. They've also completely deconstructed the idea of the "guitar-bass-drums rock band." As a result, I feel that their music will hold up with the best of the 60s and 70s music, and will still be worthwhile twenty years from now. I will now describe, in brief, the nature of my five favorite musical acts of the last ten years. They are as follows:

Belle & Sebastian: A band so secretive that the exact number of members (or the band members' names, even) wasn't even clear to the public until about five years after they'd been famous. A band consisting of a full-time trumpet and cello player, among other multi-instrumentalists. A band whose first album was recorded for a school project and released only on LP in a pressing of 1,000 copies. A band that has released about half of its best songs on EP. A band that always gives me the impression of a bunch of smart, friendly people simply hanging out and recording music almost on the side.

Air: Two French guys who sing in weirdly feminized vocoder-robot voices (if they even sing at all) while concocting their sound from cheap 70s synthesizers and almost nothing else.

The White Stripes: A guitarist and a drummer and that's fuckin' it. They never bothered, for the longest time, to make clear whether they were married or siblings or what exactly. There's some mystique for you, people.

The Magnetic Fields: Basically one guy who writes everything and occasionally lets other people sing his songs. Their best album is essentially a highly diverse and highly rewarding three-disc running gag. But in a good way.

Elliott Smith: A musician so intense and so troubled that he spent three years subsisting solely on ice cream and heroin, ran through bushes in order to hide from the record company that, in his paranoid state, he was absolutely convinced was stalking him, and most likely committed suicide by stabbing himself in the chest, although it's also possible that he might have been stabbed by his girlfriend (they're not sure).

So there you go. Few and far between, but it can still be done. Elliott Smith, actually, is the most traditionally-minded artist of the five. But, to me at least, he injected his 60s-based style with such life-or-death intensity that he reinvigorated the format. I never got the sense that Elliott Smith ever sat around and thought about his music. It seemed like for him, songwriting was basically an act of survival. So what am I saying? Am I saying that if you want to be a great musician in this day and age, you better become a suicidal junkie who hides in bushes? Maybe so. Maybe fuckin' so.

I don't have too many suggestions for people. I just wish the rock press would stop going gaga over the latest piece of insta-classic. Hey, I understand why these groups are popular: most people don't ask as much of rock music as I do. Most people just want something that's energetic and smart and reminiscent of a sound they already know they like. They do not ask popular music to carry the weight of religion. They are also not concerned with how the music will sound in twenty years, or how it will hold up in the context of rock history. I am.

Does that make me a fool? Then I'm a fool. You know, all the great bloggers of the world have been fools.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

All The King's Men (2006)

I caught the last hour of this on cable last night. As others have said, it was one of the most unfortunately cast movies ever made. None of the actors manage to sound like they are from 1940's Louisiana. They don't even sound like they are from modern day Louisiana. Hell, Jude Law doesn't even manage to sound like he's from this side of the Atlantic. (He really doesn't sound like he's from anywhere. His accent is an amusing mash of tongue-injury patient and idiot.) Sean Penn doesn't even pull off a believable performance. Of course, I'm of the belief that no one really acts like Sean Penn outside of the movies anyway.

The cinematography was mediocre. Several shots faded between black and white, washed out smudge-tones, and color. I think this was a way of telling us we're watching a novel. It looks about as stupid as it sounds, and instantly ruins your suspension of disbelief.

Finally, Kate Winslet's character, for whatever reason, maybe it's not her fault, who knows, isn't very sympathetic or attractive. I thought part of what made the book work so well was the readers natural attraction to Anne Stanton. It made you realize that yes, Jack really is a bastard and it allowed you to appreciate Jack's growth. His relationship with Willie is the catalyst that allows him to move from his boyhood relationship with the judge to his mature adult relationship with Anne. Willie isn't just a funny Southern politician, he's a force within humanity that mature moral people have to face. This movie did not, and could not, face him.

Nixon Does It Again

Death was simply not enough to stop Richard Nixon. In Slate there's a newly-released memo that Nixon apparently wrote in 1970, in which he senses (correctly?!) that he's losing the PR battle with the public regarding his personal character and complains to his staff for 10 pages about how voters fail to appreciate his "warm and friendly" side. It's pretty long, so here are the highlights:

"There are innumerable examples of warm items - the way we have gone far beyond any previous President in this century in breaking our backs to be nicey-nice to the Cabinet, staff, the Congress, etc. around Christmastime in terms of activities that show personal concern, not only for them, but for their families. For example, the Church service, every other person who comes through that line practically gets tears in his eyes when he thanks us for allowing them to bring their children to church. I have yet to see any columnist write this, and I of course doubt that anybody will because none of us really have the capacity to get it across (due to the fact that we are 'slightly embarrased to say such things'). There are such little things such as the treatment of household staff, the elevator operators, the office staff, the calls that I make to people who are sick, even though they no longer mean anything to anybody, the innumerable letters I have written to people when they have fallen on bad days, including even losing an election. I doubt if any President in history has ever written somebody who has lost an election."

"No President could have done more than I have done in this respect and particularly in the sense that I have treated them like dignified human beings, and not like dirt under my feet."

"Again, I will utterly decline to tell people in the morning all the good deeds I have done but there are enough people around who know of such incidents who simply have to get together and work them out."

"This is the primary failure of the public relations side of my first two years, and the irony of it is, of course, that we have gained the liability of being known as a 'PR-obsessed Administration' and have been less successful in PR than in any other area of undertaking."

"I again respectfully urge that ways be found to point out that the president works late at night, gets up early in the morning, doesn't have lunch, writes his own speeches when he can, spends interminable hours listening to dullards discuss subjects on which he has forgotten more than they will ever know, etc., etc., etc...This has not gotten across in any poll that I have seen and if we don't get this across we have really dropped the ball."

"...everybody wants me to sit down and talk to members of the staff in a puffing way about how 'nicey nice' I have been to members of the staff. That is not the way to do it. If warmth is to be believable it must be discovered..."

Give it time, Dick. Give it time.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Men Out of Time

I woke today with an overwhelming urge to listen to Imperial Bedroom by Elvis Costello. This is a morning/evening album. It's best when listened to at the start or end of a day. If listened to during the day it takes on a Sgt. Peppers feel, if listened to during the late evening it's much more depressing. Over the past two years this album has grown on me, to the point that I'd now pick it as my favorite E.C. album.

Another album that I've been listening to a lot lately is 69 Love Songs by The Magnetic Fields. I went through a period after 69 Love Songs came out when I listened to it constantly. I made a cd of my favorite songs and then only listened to those. Hearing the whole thing has been neat because I'd forgotten the actual order of the songs, and I'd forgotten a few of the songs entirely. Overall, I love this album as much now as I did then and I'd put it on the shortlist of classic contemporary albums. Is there anything out there that could even compete with 69 Love Songs? As Stephen Merritt says in the liner notes, no one's even trying anymore.

You could say that Elvis Costello himself was the last man to attempt something along the lines of Merritt's work. I have no idea what they think of each other. I know that Merritt isn't much of a traditional rock n' roll fan, and Costello might not even know about the Magnetic Fields, but to my ears they have many things in common. Each one writes largely within the established pop love song genre while using their songs to challenge the relationship status quo of their time. Both like Cole Porter and country. When I picture Elvis and Stephen writing songs I imagine them making the same artistic choices. They both go for the clever rhyme at the expense of lyrical coherence. I think they also specifically choose difficult ideas for songs for love of the challenge.

Maybe this is just a personal conceit, but the most interesting difference between the two men is the personality that shows through their work. They both have very sarcastic tones. I'd say that Stephen's tone, on the surface, is more sarcastic. But a likable personality and yearning for a world where love actually does work like a pop song show through the haze of his smoky New York bar. Elvis Costello, on the other hand, seems to be trying to make it seem like there's something more behind his lyrics when there often isn't. He may sing Town Cryer like he's sitting on the side of a bridge, watching his true love marry for comfort, but I have a feeling there weren't too many lonely nights for old Elvis around the time he was writing it.

Ah, the ironies of irony. One man wants to come off as sincere and can't quite hide a smile. The other smirks and winks, but can't keep a tear from showing. And they both write great songs.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Fast Food Nation (Linklater)

I used to follow the Tomatometer religiously. Whenever a film had more than a 90% rating I would always assume that I almost absolutely had to see it. Likewise, whenever a film had anything less than 70% I would simply assume that it wasn't going to be very good, even if it looked kind of interesting or even if I liked the director. More and more I've been deviating from that line of reasoning, and more and more I've been rewarded with following my own "movie instinct." In short, I can guess what I'm going to like better than Rotten Tomatoes can.

Of course the Tomatometer is set up in such a way that every review, no matter how nuanced, is turned into either a "fresh tomato" or a "rotten tomato." This means that a movie like The Incredibles will get a 97% rating on the Tomatometer and a movie like I Heart Huckabees will get a 61% rating, simply because the former is very conventionally well-crafted and critics can tell very easily whether or not it achieved its objectives, whereas the latter is very genre-defying and not particularly easy to evaluate when applying the usual criteria. In short, it's not necessarily that critics tend to praise less adventurous films over more adventurous ones (although that might be part of it) so much as the Tomatometer makes it seem that way. After all, movie critics are paid to tell their readers, "You will find this movie enjoyable" or "You will be disappointed by this movie." But obviously Little Earl is not the typical moviegoer. He likes movies where he senses that a risk is being taken, or that something is at stake. He does not like movies that play exactly the way people "want them to." So the Tomatometer can only reflect his taste to a point. He's finally realized that he has to go with his gut.

Case in point: Fast Food Nation. I knew I liked Richard Linklater's work. When I heard he was making a fictional film based on a journalistic book, it sounded like it would be, at the very least, interesting. I had not read the book, but somehow that made me even more intrigued. Besides, it had a fascinating cast (Greg Kinnear, Bruce Willis, Luis Guzman, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Kris Kristofferson, Avril Lavigne[?!]). But when the movie came out, it got a 50% on the Tomatometer. Still, I could tell by the nature of even the rotten reviews (example: "In the end, viewers waiting for an emotional and/or dramatic payoff will be disappointed. As a call-to-arms, it's highly sympathetic but surprisingly mild-mannered.") that I would probably find the film a worthwhile rental. And guess what, folks? I was right.

Here are some other review excerpts:

"[A] sloppy, overarching fiction that tries to do too many things at once. It's like a three-ring circus in which none of the acts is terribly interesting."

"The fiction that Schlosser and the director Richard Linklater have extracted from the book is a mess, with narrative lines that go astray or simply wind up in the air."

"One leaves the theater certain what Linklater's theme was but uncertain why it was presented so ineffectively."

After watching the film, I would say that much of this is true. Nevertheless, I knew after the first ten minutes that I was watching a movie that was worth my time. I could immediately sense that it was about real people doing real things. I was seeing lives that were completely different from mine, lives that I knew nothing about, and yet these were lives that I wanted to experience. It may have been sloppy and ambitious but it was a real movie. I did not know where it was going to go, and that was more enjoyable than whether or not the film actually went somewhere. You could feel Linklater making the movie up as he went along, and while I'm almost positive that some people would want to insult this film with every epithet that they have in their arsenal, I personally found it a breath of fresh movie air.

Let me describe to you one of the opening scenes. A marketing exec named Don (played by Greg Kinnear) is in charge of a fast food burger named "The Big One." He gets called into the boss's office, he sits down and they exchange a few pleasantries. Then the boss begins to lean over and speak in a quieter tone:

"I have a friend that teaches food science over at A&M Microbiology, and this semester a couple of his grad students decided to culture a bunch of patties from fast food chains."
"Uh Huh."
"Well... they got ahold of a couple of Big Ones...the frozen patties? Don't ask me how. And the fecal coloform counts were just off the charts. I'm concerned that this could be a problem for us. Do you understand what I'm saying?"
"Not exactly."
"I'm saying there's the meat."

In a later scene Don visits a rachowner in Colorado (played by Kris Kristofferson). After a long, vague conversation, the ranchowner finally leans over and tells him, "By the way Don you seem like a nice fella. But the food your company sells is crap. Total crap. Even when there isn't manure in it." The ranchowner displays a wry smile.

People were intelligent in this movie. And nobody was a villain. Even the supposed villain said a lot of things that made absolute sense to me. I rarely eat fast food anyway so I didn't expect the film to change my dietary habits (it didn't). And there were definitely some scenes of slightly embarrassing quasi-liberal speechifying that I could have done without. But did it deserve a 50% on the Tomatometer?

I say no.

Emperor Survives Encounter with Vader, Hatches New Plan to Control Galactic Media



The glasses aren't fooling anyone.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

How to Write Good Useless Articles

Slate's other, sane and tolerable, political blogger has an article up about Bush and Baseball. I recommend it.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Along Those Same Lines

Weekend Rock List: Weirdest Shout-Outs - Rolling Stone

I spotted many of Yoggoth's all-time favorites in here:

"I Am Damo Suzuki" - The Fall
"Not Even Stevie Nicks" - Calexico
"Stereo" ("What about the voice of Geddy Lee?") - Pavement

Here's a good one I never heard of:

The Butthole Surfers: “Julio Iglesias jacking off in outer spaceous”

And for some reason everybody's got it in for Rick Astley (of "Never Gonna Give You Up" fame). Mojo Nixon apparently sang “Rick Astley is a pantywaist/Rub my butt in his face” in a song called "Debbie Gibson, etc.," and Nick Lowe apparently had a song with the lyrics "Do you remember Rick Astley?/He had a big fat hit that was ghastly/He said I’m never gonna give you up or let you down/Well I’m here to tell ya that Dick’s a clown/Though he was just a boy when he made that vow/I’d bet it's all that he knows by now."

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Your Songs or Mine

Best Covers of Sleazy Popular Songs by Humble and Tasteful Indie Rockers

Feist - Inside and Out (Beegees)
Yo La Tengo - Little Honda (Beach Boys)
The Flaming Lips - Can't Get You Out of My Head (Kylie Minogue)
Cowboy Junkies - Sweet Jane (Velvet Underground)
White Stripes - I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself (Burt Bacharach)
The Minutemen - Dr. Wu (Steely Dan)

Suggest your own in comments. I'll add more when I think of them.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Taste The Glory, Tampa Bay

Ladies and gentlemen, today is a day for rejoicing. For today is the day the Tampa Bay Devil Rays have finally ended an 11-game losing streak by beating...the Kansas City Royals. Nevermind that the Royals currenly have a 36-50 losing record. Nevermind that the Devil Rays had a five-run lead coming into the 8th inning and promptly gave up four runs, barely winning the game by one run in the bottom of the ninth. It was a win.

I think their manager's got the right attitude: "We're hot."

Damn right, buddy. Damn right.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Another Feather In His Cap

From IMDB:
Iranian President Calls Director Stone "Part of the Great Satan"

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has turned down a request by director Oliver Stone to be interviewed for a documentary film about him. Aides to Ahmadinejad said today (Tuesday) that they had been contacted by Stone through Iranian filmmakers acting as intermediaries. But Mahdi Kalhor told the Fars news agency: "While it is true that Oliver Stone is considered to be among the opposition in the U.S., the opposition is still part of the Great Satan. ... We believe that the American cinema system is devoid of all culture and art and is only used as a device." Stone responded: "I have been called a lot of things, but never a great Satan. I wish the Iranian people well and only hope their experience with an inept, rigid ideologue president goes better than ours."