Aug 212008
 

You can skip listening to the new Metallica stuff. This picture pretty much says how it sounds. They can claim to have taken Rick Rubin’s advice and tried to get back to the mindset they had in the mid-eighties, but I don’t think shopping at Armani in flip flops is going to do it.

Feb 242008
 

Scott Heim’s third novel, We Disappear, will be released this Tuesday. I met Scott at KGB in NYC just after his first novel, Mysterious Skin was published and we’ve kept up a correspondence over the years. His novels have always included some autobiographical elements, but We Disappear, a novel he’s been working on for the past ten years, morphed into a kind of fictionalization of the rougher spots of that time period including a bout with crystal meth and the death of his mother. Scott’s linked a couple of reviews on his blog. If you order from Amazon before it’s released, you get an extra 5% discount. So get going!

[tags]scottheim, book, wedisappear, harpercollins, fiction, novel[/tags]

 Posted by on February 24, 2008 at 3:46 pm
Nov 252007
 

I’m a pretty big Coen brothers fan.  I haven’t liked all of their movies, but I consider Millers Crossing, Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski, Blood Simple, and Fargo to be some of the greatest films made in the last 25 years. No Country for Old Men shares more in common with Fargo and Blood Simple than the others that I mentioned. It has elements of both southern gothic and film noir. It’s incredibly tense and probably their most violent film. The performances from the lead actors and supporting cast are excellent across the board. There’s some gallows humor to be found, but not much. This is definitely not the feel good movie of the year. That being said, I highly recommend seeing it. It deserves the buzz that I’ve been hearing about it. The fact that we talked about it for a couple of hours after and that I’m still revisiting scenes in my head almost a day later is a testament to the film’s power.

I’ll leave plot points and summaries to the pros, but I’ll say a few things about the performances. The Anton Chigurh character reminds me of The Misfit from Flannery O Connor’s A Good Man is Hard to Find. He takes on mythical proportions by the end of the story, a metaphor or the worst evil that you can imagine in the world. Javier Bardem, who hasn’t acted in very many American films is amazing and Tommy Lee Jone is pitch perfect as the world weary law man who feels he’s overmatched by Chigurh’s evil.

I’ve got a practice of not reading reviews of films before I see them. I don’t like to have any preconceived notions if I can help it. I read three reviews after seeing it: Marjorie Baumgarten, Roger Ebert and Kenneth Turan. I agreed mostly with Turan. I think Ebert missed part of the movie because the plot hole he describes is explained. I do agree with him though that many of the scenes are so flawlessly constructed that you never want them to end. I felt that way at many points in the story. I did feel that the ending was a bit abrupt and is one of the only flaws. Maybe because I didn’t want it to end, I’d find fault with any ending they chose.
[tags]movie, review, coenbrothers, joelcoen, ethancoen, tommyleejones, javierbardem, nocountryforoldmen[/tags]

 Posted by on November 25, 2007 at 4:24 pm
Nov 022007
 

A childhood friend of mine, Carl Greenblatt, who’s worked on Spongebob Squarepants and The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, has a new show premiering tonight on Cartoon Network
at 6:30pm CDT. It’ll re-run again at 8:30pm as well. If you like either of those shows, you should check this one out. Carl also created and voiced the character Fred Fredburger from Billy and Mandy.

Be careful visiting the Cartoon Network homepage if you use Firefox. The flash animation promoting Chowder has caused Firefox to lock up and peg one of my processors both times that I’ve visited the page today. I’ve had to kill Firefox to get it to stop.

[tags]cartoonnetwork, chowder, premiere[/tags]

 Posted by on November 2, 2007 at 10:37 am
Aug 162007
 

I just read that drummer Max Roach died last night in New York at the age of 83. It’s been nearly 20 years to the day since I saw him at the Caravan of Dreams in Ft. Worth. I’ll never forget that performance. He was still impressive then at the age of 63. He outlasted nearly all of his contemporaries and was arguably the last survivor from the bebop era, living much longer than people like Miles, Coltrane, Bird, and Mingus, and roughly 15 years longer than Diz. It’s a great loss for music and for the jazz world.

[tags]maxroach, eulogy, death, jazz, drummer[/tags]

 Posted by on August 16, 2007 at 1:29 pm
May 252007
 

I can’t let today pass without acknowledging it, since, like so many of my contemporaries, the premiere of Star Wars was a defining moment of my childhood.

When Star Wars was released on May 25th, 1977, I was 5 and a half years old. I can’t remember if we saw it opening day, but it was definitely in the first few weeks. I do distinctly remember sitting in the back of my next door neighbor Glen’s mom’s car, a white late-60’s model Mustang (his last name was Ford, oddly enough), and telling them that I was going to see a space movie as we came back from the water slide park. Even though I had no idea what I was in for, I was clearly looking forward to it. I remember that it was playing at the huge (for 1977) Northpark Mall theater in Dallas. I remember the theater being packed. I think I remember waiting in line, although that may have blurred with waiting in line for Empire Strikes Back.

The most vivid memory, however, was the opening crawl that gave the back story of the movie, followed by the opening scene of what seemed to be the largest ship in the universe to me at the time, that nearly interminable passing of the Star Destroyer across the screen was the most awesome and thrilling thing that I’d ever seen. It was massive. My 5-year-old brain could hardly take it all in. I still remember the wonder of how BIG that thing must be (only to have it shattered later when they tried to imply how much bigger Darth Vader’s flagship, The Executioner, was in the next film).

The whole film was an amazing ride and I remained transfixed throughout. I remember re-enacting whole scenes over and over again with my friends: the ending throne room scene, complete with fake medals; the assault on the Death Star with my bunk beds as two X-wings; molesting Princess Leia (wait, that’s later). I remember all the crazy speculation afterwards of what happened to Darth Vader as he careened off into space on his own after being knocked away from the Death Star by his own wing men (courtesy of Han Solo and the Milennium Falcon). As I mentioned in a old post, Joe Gross from the Austin-American Statesman pointed out (archive.org link b/c of the Statesman’s shitty policy on keeping old articles accessible) when Attack of the Clones was released 5 years ago, the original was great precisely because it left so much to our own imaginations and let us fill in the details before and after. I ordered the first promotional pack of figures through the mail as soon as they were available.

Regardless of how badly George Lucas has screwed up the memory of the original, it’s that wonder of first viewing that allows him to sucker so many of us in time and time again. It’s why many of our own kids sleep on Star Wars sheets and pore over Star Wars Encyclopedias or watch the films on DVD.

BTW, when I was 5, we had to go back to the theater to see it again or wait for them to re-release it in the theater, which I remember them doing more than once. We didn’t have VCRs or DVDs for that matter. It took them FOREVER to release the VHS versions even after everybody and their dog had a VCR. If memory serves, we didn’t get legitimate retail copies until 1989 or so. Now get off my lawn, you kids!

Here’s a few links that also commemorate the occasion.

 Posted by on May 25, 2007 at 2:59 pm
Apr 132007
 

You’ve by now become aware of the media shit storm over Don Imus’s comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team and how they got him canned not only from his MSNBC simulcast, but got him booted from his long running radio show. Harvey Fierstein has a op-ed in the NY Times today. RudePundit echoes some of what Harvey is saying.

I only knew Imus from the stuff that Howard Stern used to say about him. I think my uncles listen to him. I never liked the guy. I think his humor is stupid and old and boring. I couldn’t understand the guy most of the time. I really don’t give a shit that he’s gone even though I’m sure he’ll pop up somewhere, probably on Sirius or XM.

The Wall Street Journal had a good point…that things like this normally wouldn’t have been noticed or kept going except that now clips from your show can be posted on the Internet, preserved and commented upon. Dinosaurs like Imus have to realize that the game has changed. Both CBS and MSNBC have been condoning his patriarchal old white dude shtick for years. The most recent comments were probably middle of the road for him, but it somehow caught a lull in the news cycle and the huge corporations that host Imus decided they couldn’t stand the heat.

The reason Imus was canned is as plain as his own last name, I’m Us. Nobody wants to face that, so let’s get rid of him, make ourselves feel better for a few minutes and get back to what we were doing.

[tags]donimus, firing, cbs, msnbc, rutgers, harveyfierstein, nytimes[/tags]

 Posted by on April 13, 2007 at 12:58 pm
Apr 122007
 

The Internets are full of acknowledgments of the death of Kurt Vonnegut who died last night from complications of a fall he recently took. He did seem a bit frail and out of it the last time he was on The Daily Show to promote his last publication, a collection of essays called A Man Without A Country. I first read Vonnegut in either 1992 or 1993. Breakfast of Champions, Cat’s Cradle, Slaughterhouse Five and Welcome to the Monkey House were among my favorites. His writing is amazing. I never did get to hear him speak in person. It sounds like I should check out God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater. Anybody have any other recommendations besides the ones that I’ve mentioned?

I have one interesting story related to Vonnegut. When I was living in Manhattan, there was a bookstore at the corner of Stuyvesant and Third Avenue, if I remember correctly. I can’t recall the name. Anyway, I was in there one afternoon buying something and I heard the clerk talking to a guy at the front of the checkout line about Vonnegut. I looked up and there was Woody Harrelson with a handful of Vonnegut books. It was clear he had decided to check out Vonnegut for the first time and was grabbing several of his books to read. I recommended Breakfast of Champions. I think Harrelson was in town to film Money Train at the time.

Not to imply that Rollins is on Vonnegut’s level, but tomorrow night is the beginning of the second season of The Henry Rollins Show on IFC at 10pm CDT. I really enjoyed the first season. He gets a good mix of guests for the interview portion and the musical performance. He kicks off with Marilyn Manson as his interview guest and Peaches, who interviewed last season, as his musical guest.

[tags]kurtvonnegut, death, woodyharrelson, henryrollins, ifc[/tags]

 Posted by on April 12, 2007 at 9:55 am
Mar 192007
 

There’s news this past week that both Slint and Shellac may have new albums out this year. Actually, Shellac’s new one, Excellent Italian Greyhound, will be released on June 5th according to Pitchfork.

According to SuicideGirls, Slint is working on new material and looking to release it on Touch N Go. They appropriately point out that they’ll have a hard time topping 1991’s Spiderland. I discovered Slint and Shellac around the same time in 1994 when I was living in NYC. I think I bought At Action Park on CD and Spiderland on LP from the same store on Avenue A in the East Village. Jeez. That was thirteen years ago.

[tags]slint, shellac[/tags]

 Posted by on March 19, 2007 at 4:57 pm
Mar 062007
 

Box office numbers for this past weekend:

#1 “Wild Hogs” ($38 million)
#2 “Zodiac” ($13.1 million)
#3 “Ghost Rider” ($11.5 million)
#4 “Bridge to Terabithia” ($8.5 million)
#5 “The Number 23” ($7 million)

I don’t get out to very many movies these days and, as usual, the options are pretty piss poor to begin with, but the fact that Wild Hogs is the number one film in the country this week, grossing more than twice as much as Zodiac is surely a sign that we deserve the president that we have and that we’re a nation of morons. You may now resume drooling on yourself.

 Posted by on March 6, 2007 at 2:16 pm