Monday, February 26, 2007

Lazy Ear

Every so often a band will slip beneath my radar. I know, I simply can't hear everything. I gots a job and all. I'd heard the name but you hear a lot of names, you know? And every once in a while a winner slips past. I don't know how either.

But when you find a band that's crazy good it's kind of like when you find a gift behind the Christmas tree when you're taking it down: part of you wishes you'd found it sooner but the other part knows it's a nice surprise you weren't expecting. So you open it. And it magically turns out to be just what you wanted but didn't even know you were looking for. Kind of like the best things in life always are.

That's what I did this weekend, in keeping with my insatiable appetite for music of late. I found the Silversun Pickups back behind the Christmas tree and its shedding record needles.

Hay-seuss, they are good! They're like what My Bloody Valentine would have been if they had a little more melody and a little less wall of sound. They're like the Dandy Warhols used to be and need to be again real soon. And they apparently rock out of Silver Lake—the Williamsburg of LA, you know. Damn west coast and your cool-ass bands and your chick bass players.

Too bad they're touring behind the I-personally-can't-stand-them-even-though-everyone-else-and-their-girlfriend-seems-to-just-love-them Snow-Patrol this spring. 'Cause they's good.

Dig "Lazy Eye."

Color me a fan.

PS: yeah, that girl's a girl.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

No one watches the Oscars for the awards

Everyone knows I only watch the Oscars to see the technical awards and who wins Best Make-up. And maybe, just maybe, to see that Rachel Weisz. Zeee-oww!

The only thing I'll say about the Oscars is this: that "Little Miss Sunshine" should have won the big one. That's what the movies are about. It was the best, freshest, most original thing I saw last year. And I hadn't even really thought of it 'til it was brought up tonight but that bus was totally a character in the movie. Any other type of car and it would have been just a car. But make it a VW and, well, now you've got yourself a story.

But that sound effects choir bit got me thinking.

About the ads. Lord knows you'll hear enough about the Oscars tonight so I'm just gonna talk about the ads. I like to think the Oscars are kind of the thinking man's Super Bowl. The spots tend to be much more, well, cinematic. At least they're a bit more cerebral and less, you know, "guys getting hit in the nuts."

That same sound effects choir actually did a spot for Honda in the UK last year that cleaned up on the ad awards circuit and I still think it was one of the best, most beautiful car ads ever done.


Maybe someday we can run ads like that in this country. Lord knows we have the ideas every week.

But then again, there was a solid showing of ads tonight. Best of all, no pharmaceutical ads so we didn't have to awkwardly sit with our friends and family and kids and listen to men talk about their inability to get it up or hear about gross-ass side effects like "decreases in semen" or "four-hour erections." Vomit.

Here are some of the better new ads I saw tonight:

The wicked good Diet Coke work continuing their solid Coke work from the 'bowl. Beautiful.

That Wes Andrson AmEx spot from a year or so ago. That ain't gonna get old anytime soon. And I mean, does anyone work more magic out of a camera than that guy? Jeezy-creezy.


That JC Penney ad set in the train station with that Zombies' song "The way I feel inside" and the one made of modern day takes on famous movie scenes were both delightful. Great, even.

And hats off to the new Saturn "award" ad that finally got back to capturing the heart of the brand again and instead of repeatedly talking about "people first" they spent 60 seconds showing it. Nice work there.

And Apple's new "hello" one for the iPhone was just, well, classic Apple that just feels like "this is gonna change everything." Then again, I suppose it helps when your product probably will.

Oh yeah, and one other note:

Run, Al, run.

Besides, everyone else will have their day.

Yours is now.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Rejected album titles for the new Modest Mouse album "We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank"


"We were hooked before our friend Matt ever beamed it down to us from NY yesterday."

"We had been looking forward to hearing your new one but now curiously a day later can't live without it."

"We had plans to do some other stuff this week before you dropped your best album since Moon and Antarctica on us but now we find we're staying in and listening obsessively to it."

"We were pretty sure The Smith's Johnny Marr joining the band would only make it cooler but had no idea how cool until we heard the two of you subtly lay down the magic on 'Fire it up' while dropping lines like 'like trying to save an ice cube from the cold.'"

"We thought we had a favorite song until we heard 'Missed the Boat' and now can't shake the feeling it might be the most perfect song. Ever. At least since 'Cowboy Dan' or 'The Cold Part.' Best we can describe it is that it sounds the way a sunny day feels on your skin after spending months beneath jackets and sweaters and cloudy skies.'"

"We had heard some good lyrics before but think 'our ideas held no water but we used them like a dam' is pretty goddamn good."

"We had known that you all both spent time in the Portland/Seattle areas but did not know the Shin's James Mercer would be singing backup on the album creating a dreamy complement to your growl."

"We heard you come a bit unhinged before but not until you begin screaming at the end of 'Parting of the Sensory' with a multi-tracked voice 'someday you will die and somehow, something's gonna steal your carbon' over some freak-nasty hand claps did we think 'holy crap, that's about the coolest thing I've ever heard' so much so that we now find ourselves clapping along and screaming at the top of our lungs right along with you, regardless of where we are. Even in our office."

"We had never used the words 'Little Motel' before but think the guitar work at the end of the song by the same name is one of the more beautiful things we've heard."

"We really liked your music before, so much so that we even name-checked your lead singer in our portfolio, but now we are clearly totally obsessed."

We were hooked before the album even comes out a month from now.

Thanks, Matt. You made my week.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Lick O’ the Fingers/Tip O’ the Trash Can (to throw away your product I kind of wish I never bought)

In light of the crazy, insane, “oh my god, I’m so impressed I want to kill the stranger who wrote it!” popularity of a recent off-hand, totally inconsequential shot I took at a fictitious location of a national restaurant chain, I decided to go ahead and create a new feature regarding new foods I find and how I feel about them.

Naturally, it’ll be called “Lick O’ the Fingers/ Tip O’ My Trash Can (to throw away your product I kind of wish I never bought).”

So let’s do this.

First, a “Lick O’ the Fingers”

Stacy’s Pita Chips

I don’t know who Stacy is or even where she is but good lord, woman, these things are good. Thank you. Do you make hummus? ‘Cause something tells me yours would taste quite wonderful with your delightful pita chips which I’m pretty sure are baked using a magical recipe of sunshine and rainbow sparkles.

For the past month or more there’s been a monster end-aisle display of the myriad flavors of these little gems back in the organic/healthy section of my local grocery. If somewhere in the magical treehouse where you make these taste-sensations someone notices a sales spike for the month of February, that’d be me.

I’ve been keepin’ it real with the “parmesan and garlic and herb”, the “pesto and sun-dried tomato” and the “naked” varieties so far—all delicious. Although they come in every flavor under the sun from “Texarakana Hot” to “Cinnamon Sugar.” Stacy also makes bagel chips and soy crisps. Best of all, they’re all baked and made from whole wheat flour, real cheese and sea salt, etc. so they’re relatively decent for you as well.

Here’s a little ad campaign I wrote up for you, no charge:

Stacy’s Pita Chips. Made from sunshine and rainbow sparkles. And baked by magic bunnies beneath a canopy of eucalyptus trees filled with monkeys and koala bears. The kind of monkeys that don’t have ebola and koala bears that don’t pee when you hold them, of course.

It’s a work in progress. Call me if you're interested.


And, sadly, a “Tip O’ the Trash Can (to throw away your product I kind of wish I never bought)”

A Certain Brand's Smoothie, Mixed Berry Variety

Last night during a quick trip to the local grocery while I was buying some bananas I was somehow swayed by a bright, cheery, little sign offering these Fruit Smoothies as “2 for $3.” While the sign was pretty standard fare (a logo, a starburst, a big “2 for $3”, etc.), it was just enough to distract me from a little item on the side of the bottle. Somewhere down in the Where’s Waldo that is the nutrition information was this little tidbit: “54g of sugar.” Per serving. Per frikkin’ 11 oz. serving!

Oh sure, it’s made from real fruit and all that, but in hindsight a banana and a couple Dr. Pepper’s my have been just as healthy. I thought my teeth might fall out of my head.

I took a first sip. It tasted like melted Jolly Ranchers. Or like someone dumped a box of pixie sticks in it. I immediately thought perhaps in my rush to savor its fruity goodness I hadn’t properly shaken it. That’s how wrong it tasted—I was sure it was user error. So I shook the piss out of it only to realize that apparently months of product development had arrived at this taste as being “the one.” I took two more sips in the desperate hope it might magically get $1.50 better before I finally threw in the towel. And the remainder of the bottle into my trash can.

And maybe this is just me but when I read the words “smoothie” on a label I think it might be, oh I don’t know, more thick than say water. Again, I’m just a writer. What do I know?

Part of me wants to know if the Strawberry Banana variety might be less sweet but like a larger part of me is saying “dude, let it go and move on.” Just go back to what you know is good.

My ol’ trusty Odwalla’s may set me back a bit more and ain’t never gonna be “2 for $3” but with that first sip, you know immediately where that money went: straight into a delicious-factory somewhere in the delicious hills ringing Deliciousville on the shores of the Delicious River.

I’m sorry, babies. I shouldn’t have strayed. I don’t know what I was thinking. Tell you what, I’m gonna get me a C-Monster or a Mango Madness tonight to make it up to you. Don’t be that way. Come on, give us a kiss. I still love you.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

An open letter to my blog stalker

Dear crazy-ass blog stalker,

As you’ll no doubt notice, I had to pull all your ramblings. They weren’t doing anyone any favors, not least of which you. You may also have noticed that we’re gonna go ahead and ask that if you have the balls to make a comment you have the balls to attach it to a name. No more of this anonymous crap. Sorry, but them’s the rules.

I hope you understand but at the same time I know you probably won’t. So just do us both a favor (and my readers who, frankly, are as scared of you as I am) and don’t ever come back, ok?

And just so you know, I know where you are and what service you’re running and all that other fun internet stuff (thanks to your late night visit last night) so unless I somehow pick up a reader in that town of yours I’m gonna know when you pop by. So don’t. Ever again.

I’m not kidding.

Lord knows there’s plenty of other stuff out there for you to read that won’t cause you to go so crazy. So find it.

And don’t ever, ever come back.

This is the last time I’ll ask nicely.

I’m not kidding.

Bye, bye now.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Ocean of Noise

Rather than head to the mountains or somewhere more scenic today I decided to take a little hike through downtown. And since I took the trusty camera with me, I decided the theme of the day would be lines, patterns and shapes. Sometimes I want to take these things we see everyday and see them differently or get something out of them other than their intended purposes.

I still have the feeling I didn't ever find what I went out for but I got some decent shots and listened to the new Arcade Fire that, yeah, is wicked good.

I think this first one might even be a framer. Who knew a bus stop could look so good.






Poorly Cast Away

Last night I saw that ABC was airing the Tom Hank’s movie “Cast Away” about a man who survives a plane crash only to spend four years on a deserted island before escaping and awkwardly making his way back into real life and relationships with people who assumed he was dead. Good stuff.

But I didn’t watch it. Wanna know why?

Helen Hunt.

If there is an actress with less charisma, please step forward. No one? Well then, there you go.

When I first saw the movie back in 2000 I remember thinking when his plane crashed “dude, you may be stuck on a deserted island but at least you won’t have to go home to that daytime television ad of a woman.” I mean to me it defeated the purpose of the movie. I began to see his being marooned on that island as a good thing. Once he got good at it he sure looked like he was having more fun than he would be putting up with her. I mean what if you had to hear that voice every day or look into those sad eyes every morning?

I’ll take the deserted island every time.

And when he gets home he actually goes to her house and stuff and there’s a second where you think “oh God, he’s gonna get back with her.” Then I’m screaming at the screen “LET HER GO, DUDE!” because after all he's been through the last thing he needs is more suffering. Besides she’s Big’s problem now. Which is a whole other problem I was having crossing up my big and little screens: why, when you could have Carrie Bradshaw in NYC, would you be slumming it in Memphis with the Hunter? That doesn’t make sense to me. Now I’m feeling sorry for Big and the fact he’s got to deal with her now.

Thank God, they saved the movie by sending Hank’s character to Texas to meet that artist. I mean, think for a second if he had gone back and happily-ever-aftered it with the Hunter. And we no doubt would have to listen to a bunch of those little sighs of hers now that she’s so happy to have him home. Eek.

Imagine the movie if he was trying to get back to Jennifer Connelly or the ever-foxy Rachel Weisz. You'd be scouring the theater floor for discarded straws to help him build a raft! You'd do everything you could!

I don’t know what it is, but to me the Hunter’s always been kind of a not-as-good-or-cool Laura Dern. Did you ever see “Wild at Heart?” The Hunter could never have pulled that off.

I remember when I went to see “As Good as it Gets” and thinking Nicholson was crazy good and so was Greg Kinnear but the movie felt flat to me. Mainly because I never bought that even a crazy man would go for her. Especially with all her problems. And that really good-looking guy takes her home that one time! Puh-lease! What are we to believe? Certainly not that Helen Hunt is somehow attractive.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Join us for another fascinating installment of "Unimaginative, Derivative Theatre"

So apparently someone took the time last night to sort through what must have been thousands of search results to find my little blog based on the search term "Olive Garden." I saw in my analytics that someone had arrrived at my site by searching for "Olive Garden" and I thought "jeez, wouldn't you find what you're looking for a little sooner than like search result number 4,583 where a guy name-checked them like twice?"

But hey, she felt compelled to post a comment. A little bit on the obsessive/creepy/gross/unstable/off-the-ol'-meds side but whatever stuffs your chicken, as they say at the garden. But who would I be not to offer some constructive criticism on her little piece? Here's the text of her post. Anonymous, of course. You can't always hang out in the back. Welcome to center stage.

Enjoy:

"Anonymous said...
Howard, I don't even have any idea who you are...found this post by some strange mistake, I was just looking for a job at the Olive Garden and I thought this was pretty funny except...we all know that Olive Garden is where Jesus would choose to have his last supper these days, but there are just the little things that could be improved upon...the little things...the little things that drove my buddy Charlie to kill that bitch Sharon, that night up in the Hills...would have been fine without all the Peyote...but after we smeared her blood on the walls and ate the unborn fetus out of that blonde bitches womb...it was a bit too much you know...and then Charlie went away and he's still there...but there are still a few of us out here and I used to work at an Olive Garden in Menlo Park, when I would drive down to Corchran, that's Fresno, you know, to visit Charlie...and he always would say, Olive Garden, that's Italian, ain't it...he...he...that's Charlie, that's how he talks...Olive Garden, that's Italian ain't it...he...he...and that's how I found this post because I'm looking for another job. But then I realized you were making fun of Olive Garden and Charlie always laughed when I said where I was working...so now I'm not looking for a job anymore, I know what I have to do, it's what Charlie wants me to do, and what Charlie wants is what Charlie gets, that's another thing he always said...what Charlie wants is what Charlie gets...and then he'd go off and fuck that bitch Suzy, Suzy Atkins...but this time he'll fuck me, because I'm going to bring him a present, I'm going to bring him your breadstick and your olives in my purse, and that always turns Charlie on...and he's always laughed when I said I worked at the Olive Garden...He says, Olive Garden, that's Italian...he...he...so I know he's going to laugh when I bring him your breadstick and your olives...What was your name again, oh yes, Howard, that's a nice name...we partied with a Doctor named Howard...out in the Desert by Coachilla...and then Charlie got sooo mad, because he caught him kissing that bitch Suzy, and that's why I'm so sure he's going to be happy when I bring him parts of you Howard, because he's always laughed when I said where I worked...

3:24 AM ( 12:24 PST)"

Yeah. Where to even start with this one. Here are some thoughts to at least get a second draft started. But let me say, we're a ways from something approaching "readable."

- Ease up on the ellipses. Step back a little and look at the piece. Let your eyes unfocus. It looks like a rabbit ran through it, dropping droppings as he went. Or Peter Cottontail left some eggs. Or that a submarine was sending out Morse code messges as it went. Any of those is not good.

- On the same note, think about periods. Even better, use them.

- Things like "peyote", "desert" and "doctor" are not proper nouns and don't need to be capitalized unless they're modifying people or places. It just confuses the reader when you capitlize stuff all willy-nilly like you do. And that's no good.

- The eating of unborn fetuses, while making for some pretty shocking and awesome reading (that's rad!) to be sure, is just kinda gross. It just kinda turns you off right off the bat. Avoid if possible.

- It's clear here that the protagonist has some self-worth issues. If this "Charlie" guy (who sounds really stable and like a stand-up guy by the way) is so into Suzy or whoever then why not leave him? Is she emotionally fragile? Is that in an effort to make the reader sympathize with her? Also, she's in love with a murderer. Something to think about. Hard to sympathize with for most people.

- I get confused about the relationship between the protagonist and this "Charlie." He's initially referred to as a "buddy" yet by story's end is the object of her desire. So much so that she wants to castrate a man to please him. Unclear at best. I'm not buying it. And again, I'm not buying why she'd be attracted to a man who wants genitals as a gift. Yuck.

- Also, your locations are scattered six ways from Fresno. A "blonde bitch" is killed in the hills then you say there are "still a few of us out here" yet it's unclear where that "here" is or even where the protagonist is currently. Someone else is in Cochran, Fresno, Menlo Park...zzzzzzzzzzzz, your reader doesn't care and is now asleep.

- And this "Charlie." The protagonist says he "likes a good joke" and always laughed when she said where she worked yet she somehow feels he'll be pleased when she arrives to present him with an unkown man's genitalia in her purse. There are some logic issues there. Moreover, a purse seems woefully small to do the job. At least in my case. I'd budget in for extra baggage charges.

- Speaking of "your breadstick and your olives." I really wanted to like this euphemism for male genetalia. Honestly. But somehow it's not working for me. Sounds more cute than scary. Like "I wouldn't mind a little unlimited breadstick and olives tonight" or something equally unimaginative. It sounds more like a pet name than something you're gonna cut off. Think about some other word choices. Again, be scary. Ooooo.

- Oh and out of curiosity, Charlie's last name isn't Manson by any chance, is it? 'Cause alot of it kind of sounds like this guy I've read about. California, deserts, dead blonde bitches, Sharon, "going away for a while"—they sound familiar. Like maybe someone is working on a criminal justic degree at a community college and wanted to impress us with what they learned during Thursday evening's class. Dig deeper for something a little less obvious. My two cents, anyway.

- Lastly, try not to take things you read in blogs so terribly seriously. I mean, seriously, that was easily 10-15 minutes you could have spent doing something else way more fun than telling some stranger you aim to gut him.

Now get back out there and make it sing!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Pretty much the best band ever

Yesterday afternoon I came into possession of a certain new album by a certain band from a certain city in a certain French-speaking province. Don’t ask me how but all I know is there is a three-day weekend in front of me and I’ve got headphones. Nighty-night.

I don't think there is a better band on earth. Maybe never has been. At least not one that plays for more pure reasons.



Good lord, they’re good.

And the New Yorker has a pretty smokin' good review on them and the inability of humans to resist their musical charms:

http://www.newyorker.com/printables/critics/070219crmu_music_frerejones

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

An open letter to Glenn, evening manager

You and your fucking Olive Garden.

You know, I could have taken my date to any number of popular chain restaurants but I chose the pseudo-rustic environs of your reasonably priced, yet relatively exotic location off Lawrenceville Highway. Besides, I had a coupon. Of course I later learned it apparently was marked in what must have been 1-point type as "valid before 2/14/07."

What a fucking mistake. That’s $27.89 I’ll never see again.

I should have known what I was getting into when we had to park what must have been a half a mile away in the shadow of the DSW. I think they sell shoes. At least Janice said something about buying some espadillos or something there last summer. When we finally cheated death to arrive at your establishment, we were greeted by Julie who must be chompin’ at the bit to get her learner’s permit. You familiar with child labor laws, Glenn? Because I could have that whole place shut down, you know. No more olives. No more gardens. No more nada. I think that’s Italian but I’m not sure. I'm just sayin'.

I could have let it go, honestly. You have no control over the parking situation. But I guess your little Lolita decided my chances of getting a little of the ol’ “ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom, if you know what I’m sayin’ and I think you do unless you don’t in which case what I’m talking about is intercourse” last night would be greatly increased if she sat us in the Bermuda trapezoid between the bathrooms, the server station and the kitchen. Oh, and putting the couple whose sitter backed out at the last minute beside us was a nice touch. That kid made Rosemary's baby look like an Anne Geddes photo. Apparently Becky the babysitter is also the star cheerleader and is probably gonna be all state this year and if she missed practice she wouldn’t be making the trip to Charlotte for the regionals so it's not her fault.

But let me tell ya Glenn, nothing gets a date worked up like a drooling two month old and tales of the diffculties of parenthood. Thanks for that, pal.

Speaking of fucking breadsticks, I feel like I read somewhere that they were unlimited. And salad. “Unlimited salad and breadsticks” if I remember your television commercial correctly. That’s funny because Ricky the waiter came around like Haley’s Comet so perhaps in the year 2062 we can expect a little refill there.

Which reminds me, I could have sworn the menu says “Endless Pasta Bowl." Right between the "Bacon, Ham and Cheese Stuffed Chicken" and the "Deep-fried Bacon, Ham and Cheese Stuffed Chicken Alfredo." I'd hate to touble Ricky for a refill because he's up front (where it curiously doesn't smell like strained carrots and trash, btw) talking to Julie which, based on his facial hair would clearly be some sort of statuatory crime.

I feel yucky just talking about it.

Which brings me to the topic of what I'll call the "iced tea hardsell." Listen, when the little lady says she’s fine with water there’s no need to go on and on about things like “fresh-brewed” or “sweetened” or “unsweetened” or “lemon wedge.” I’m not made of money, mister. No means no. But of course Ricky wouldn’t know anything about that would he?

I’m sorry that was over the line. I’m sure he’s a good kid. But that mustache is really doing him no favors. It looks like glued on pubes. Too much? Again, I apologize. But you know it's true. I know, I know. I'm sorry. It's the hunger and humiliating lack of sex talking. Hopefully Ricky got the message my 14% tip sent.

In closing, just know I will not be back at your dining establishment next Valentine’s Day.

We are no longer like family when I’m there. Except of course for the fact I won’t be there ever again. We are not family, Glenn. No mas familia. I think that's Italian but again I'm not sure.

Sincerely,

Doug

PS: When I started out I was selling real estate out of my one bedroom apartment. Now I live in a mansion. And I sent Janice a balloon and a bear today that's probably bigger than your whole house. Just so you know. I'm a force to be reckoned with, Glenn. If that is your real name.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Handy Dandy Valentine's Day Guide

As a service to my readers I threw together this handy little Valentine's Day guide to what to expect tomorrow. Feel free to print it out and put it in your wallet next to your coupon for a "free dessert at your local casual dining restaurant with the purchase of two entrees of $8.99 or more, valid from 5:30-6:00 and 11:30 to close."


Someone put some pants on that guy!


Situation #1:
"I'm in a relationship and couldn't be happier!"

Well, see that was yesterday. Things change a little bit on the 14th. Here's the deal, what was once a nice little relationship between just the two of you is now a little battle royale for romantic supremacy. What's that? She works in an office? Looks like we're taking it up a notch. Gifts, flowers, dinner plans—you'd better have something pretty darn good planned because you're not just proving your love to her, you're proving it to her friends, her co-workers, people she kind of knows, the pedicure lady, her hair stylist, that guy she hangs out with a lot but your pretty sure is gay because seriously who wears that much Gucci and isn't Paris Hilton, etc, etc. I know, I know, she knows how much you love her. Maybe, but Janice who sits next to her at the office is dating that guy who used to sell real estate out of his one-bedroom apartment and now lives in a mansion and drives a penile-enhancement vehicle. We'll call him Doug. See, Doug decided to send over like 4 dozen roses, a stuffed bear big enough to hibernate through the summer and a giganto mylar balloon that says "I'm beary in love with you!" On the plus side, Doug's a cheeseball and probably will be back hanging out at the Wednesday singles night ("Where Everyone Gets Humped!"/2-for-1 well drinks) at the Marriott next week hoping his spray on hair doesn't run when he sweats. You hopefully won't. But still. That mylar's got shouting power. You can see it from down the hall. "This Doug guy must really love Janice" they'll say. Of course Janice has self-esteem issues and is only with Doug because he bought her a Red Bull and vodka at that karaoke bar before serenading her with "My Humps." But then again, Janice got a mylar balloon the size of the color copier. What did your girlfriend get?


Situation #2:
"We just started dating in January."

Yikes, you're in a tight spot. Here are your options—and neither of them are good: Freak her out with too big a gesture (jewelry, excessive floral arrangements, aformentioned mylar) or play it cool and keep it light (maybe a card or a casual dinner). Either one is going to force your hand and rarely result in the advancement of your relationship. On the plus side, St, Patty's Day is right around the corner and girls love to go out drinkin' that night. Hope you like green beer.


Situation #3:
"I'm single and don't really care!"

What are you, some kind of freak? A loser? You got the halitosis? Swamp foot? You got whatever that ad is for with those little yellow monsters that lift up your toenails and get under them? Gross! Take a shower, will ya! Tell ya what we're gonna do for you, pal. We're gonna go ahead and load up the airwaves, the radiowaves, the papers, the stores and the streets with ads reminding you of how pitiful you are be alone and date-less on this, the fourteenth day of February. Loser. Good luck heating up that tv dinner. Loser. What is that salisbury steak? Gross! Arguably this position has the largest plus side: you don't have to drop any cash. Then again, you're probably waking up alone in a bed with San Diego Charger sheets that haven't been washed since MLK Day weekend. Loser. What's that other thing where the fire is shooting up from people's feet and they try to scratch it their other foot but it's useless because they still have their shoes on and are in the middle of big presentation? You probably have that too. Gross.


Situation #4:
"My wife and I are married."

Good for you. Next. Move it along, pal. Nice redeundancy, by the way. I wasn't clear about your relationship when you referred to your "wife." Thought maybe that was slang for something. What? No, Einstein, I'm just kerking your chain. What? No, there's no chain, it's a figure of speech. Seriously, just move it along. You're scaring off the chicks. Beat it.


Situation #5:
"I'm the CEO of Hallmark!"

We have a winner. Enjoy your night, sir. With your no doubt trophy wife of 25. On the downside, you're gonna wake up in Kansas City. That's no fun. Good luck with that.


So there you have it. Enjoy it.

Happy Valentine's Day, all!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Rockin'

Last night when I arrived home I was greeted by a large box outside my door clearly marked "VW Garage Master Guitar." It was Sunday. I'd been gone since Thursday morning. Thank god the thing was still sitting there. Lord knows when it showed up. But it's pretty cool. So now I've got a VW Trek bicycle from my previous VW purchase and a VW Guitar from this one. The perks of VW ownership, I suppose.

Witness.

Note the seatbelt guitar strap.

And the custom knobs.

And the custom fretboard.

And the custom pick and requisite hand sign.

I've yet to plug it in and rock it through my car's sound system but have played it through the input in my stereo. It actually sounds decent.

Update 7/28/07: Some fuckhead robbed me and stole this axe. Fuck you, asshole.

A year without fall

My apologies to all for going dark for the past few days but sometimes a little vacation can be a good thing. Even from something as fun as this.

Los Angeles was great. Beyond great, even. Too much to even go into. Perfect weather, even better times and all spent with some of the best people you'd ever meet. You couldn't ask for anything more. Of course, I took some pics.

Did some shopping.

Posed in a chair.

Visited the magic factory that is Beacon Street.

I found a book called "I Wanted a Year Without Fall" which I immediately added to my list of best book titles ever. I wanted to buy it but it was $125. So I didn't.

We took a hike up into Pacific Palisades. And enjoyed the view of the ocean.

And the city.

And just like that, it was over. What's that line about when you're having fun?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

ATLAX

Tomorrow I'm off to LA again. Only this time it's for a little mini-vacation, a four-day weekend. I've been looking forward to it for quite a while and can hardly wait. Let's hope the weather cooperates. I could use a little warmth.

And yeah, that super-sweet photoshop was done by yours truly.

I'm seconding Alena's opinion that that Top Design show is dreadful. More like Top Decorator. Hell, I can buy furniture and accent pieces too. Where's the "design" in that? Crap, it is.

Lastly, what's up with this astronaut love triangle? That rocks. All I can think about is how that would have played out in space! How awesome would that have been? Talk about putting the space program back on the map! A little reality tv set in deep space=ratings bonanza. NASA tv would dominate.

That's probably why they don't send up crews of three anymore. You gotta have some buffer astronauts to break it up. That's just space travel 101.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Moses. And the promised land.

I read a fascinating article on Robert Moses in the New Yorker last night. For those who don't know, Moses is largely responsible for the look and infrastructure of NYC today. While he was certainly a bigger friend to the automobile than the straphanger, he did complete a herculean body of work in his time as essentially the city's architect. Consider this:

Moses built the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the Triborough Bridge, the Henry Hudson Parkway, the Henry Hudson Bridge, the Southern and Northern State Parkways, the Grand Central Parkway, the Cross Island Parkway, the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, the Throgs Neck Bridge, the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, the Long Island Expressway, the Meadowbrook Parkway, and the Saw Mill River Parkway. He built Jones Beach State Park (an early masterwork), Orchard Beach, the Niagara and St. Lawrence power projects, the New York Coliseum, and the 1964 World’s Fair. By his own count, Moses added six hundred and fifty-eight playgrounds and seventeen public swimming pools to the New York City park system. In Central Park, he added the Conservatory Garden, the Great Lawn, and the Zoo. He played a major role in the creation of Shea Stadium, Stuyvesant Town, Lenox Terrace, Park West Village, Lincoln Towers, Kips Bay Plaza, Washington Square Village, and Co-op City. At one point, Moses held twelve New York City and New York State positions simultaneously.

Love him or hate him, the guy got it done.

For my New York readers, there's an exhibition on his work at the Museum of the City of New York. I hear it's quite good.

And the Throg's Neck. I always loved hearing that traffic on the inbound Throg's Neck was moving. Whatever a Throg is.

The Major Deegan, the BQE, the Cross-Bronx, the Jackie Robinson, The Grand Central, The Whitestone, the tunnels—they could all be jammed but if the Throg's Neck was moving, all was right with the world.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Super

First off, ‘cause you’re no doubt wondering, here’s my super-duper rundown of the Super Bowl ads I thought were good.

Bud Light – the Carlos Mencia one. Simple, one clear joke, timely, and with a funny kicker as the guy can’t pronounce “Bud Light.”

Bud Light – the auctioneer wedding one. Auctioneers always make me laugh. If I had a nickel for every auctioneer script I’ve pitched….

Garmin – the map guy. Kinda whacked out but in a good way. The song wasn’t as catchy as their holiday spots but when it comes to after-market GPS devices, they’re the only one I know.

Coke – both of the animated numbers. Seen ‘em before, but still some of the most beautiful and visually arresting stuff on tv. And bonus points for positivity in a decidedly not so positive time.

Sierra Mist – the beard combover one. I love Jim Gaffigan and the visual was hilarious. Never had a Sierra Mist in my life though.

The amateur spots were dreadful and I think we all felt a little better this morning knowing what we do ain't as easy as it looks.

In retrospect, ours would have run right alongside anything from yesterday and been great. I did get an email this morning from one of our actors who held a little party in anticipation of seeing it. Whoops, guess he didn’t get the memo. Sorry, bud.

I will say Prince was fine choice for the halftime show and "Purple Rain" was pretty darn cool. Personally, I was hoping for a funked-out version of "Sexy Motherfucker" but something tells me FCC would have disapproved.

Second, the apartment folks apparently heeded the email I sent them last summer sarcastically thanking them for removing a tree from outside my deck. They claimed it was at the end of its life cycle. I claimed they just wanted to make Atlanta more treeless than it gets everyday. Thank god a couple of weeks ago they planted a couple new trees. Saves me from having to see the parade of freaks walk by. No offense, neighbors. But ya'll's an odd bunch.

It's a nice tree, no?

Can’t you see?

People love to talk about world peace. Is it possible? Can it happen in our lifetimes? Even for just a day? Lord knows I ponder it daily.

And to that question I’ve always argued, boldly, that yes it can.

Maybe. Definitely maybe.

It’s just gonna take a frikkin' heapin’ pile of rock and roll. Hell, it’s gonna take music in general. Noise. Whatever. Way more than we’ve ever committed to the cause before.

I know I’m not the first dreamer to think rock and roll can save the world. But a few days ago I ran across this video and thought “Christ, look at us! We’re all hearing the same vibrations! For 50 years or more it’s been there, moving us, all of us. The rhythm and words and instruments may be different but we’re all hearing the same thing."

At our core, we all want to make a noise that moves us and everyone around us. And those noises have torn down more walls than politicians ever could. I’d argue rock and roll has been the greatest ambassador of peace over the past half century. And our greatest force for peace here at home.

Let’s rock this thing.

Turn on.

Stay on.

It’s late. I need to go to bed. But this thing’s been kickin’ around in my head for days. Now it’s in yours.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Tu Tienes mi $25. I know that much.

I met up with Paul and Evan and a bunch of people I just met at the Euclid Avenue Yacht Club last night before we walked over to the Variety for the show. We got a good little spot not too far from the stage and among a very cool and polite crowd, aside from the cameras and people filming whole songs. I mean, dude, you know that thing is gonna sound like crap and end up on YouTube with some tag like "the audio is horible." Gee, think that's 'cause ya shot it on a digtial camera? I'm still convinced too many people misuse their camera as a device to help them to live later as opposed to quickly documenting the living they're doing right now. Yeah, let's totally miss the concert so we can watch it on a computer later. Greeeeeat idea.

But I digress.

I had an epiphany about 15 minutes into the Yo La Tengo show last night. And this is what happened:

Like a stack of LP's falling on my head, it dawned on me that I never liked Ira's guitar playing. All my favorite Yo La Tengo songs are driven by James and Georgia. In fact, my favorite songs have always been the ones Georgia sings. Sadly, last night's show was the "Ira and the Feedback" show. I mean there were a few periods where people were looking around wondering not just "what is this noise?" but "where the hell is he?" He was on the ground, it turns out.

There were a few solid standouts like "Stockholm Syndrome", a grooved-out "Autumn Sweater", and the new one "Mr. Tough" (then again it's a piano song so he couldn't screw that up). And Georgia sang the beautiful "I Feel like Going Home" as a girl behind me was totally sobbing. I never turned around to see but a bunch of people did. It is a good one. Then again, maybe she got dragged to the show against her will and it struck a deeper chord with her. Could be a kidnap victim. Who knows.

And I may be reading too deeply into it, but I swear Georgia and Ira used to smile at each other now and then. But last night she seemed to be treating the cymbals like his head. Then again, they are older now and I did see her pass through the lobby before the show with their baby while Ira was having a beer. Could be just a long road trip. Whatev.

Still a nice night out with good friends and cool people but the show would have benefitted greatly from a little consultation with me on the setlist. "Yeah, Ira, I'm gonna have to go ahead and say no to that ten minute freak-out and instead throw in some stuff people paid to hear. You know how it is, it's just show business."

I realized last night "I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One" came out ten years ago. I love that album too much. That album sounds like those few minutes right when the sun goes below the horizon and the sky goes through all those thousands of colors before it finally fades to black. I don't suppose they could ever top that live or otherwise. Unless maybe they played it front to back as the sunset somewhere really cool. I'll make some calls.


As far as the Super Bowl goes (can I say that or do I have to say "big game"?), I heard a pretty good argument this morning based purely on the teams' animal mascots' athletic abilities. They gave the edge to the Colts on account of their speed and youth (mandatory they be under two years). Moreover, "Bears" is extremely non-specific. What kind of bear, I ask. Koala? Grizzly? I can't make a call until I know more about what knd of bear we're dealing with. That's like saying "humans" and leaving it open to Lance Armstrong or that little old lady from the Wedding Singer. Until they clarify that I'll have to hold off making a decision.

Lastly, I'd be lying if the whole game didn't have a little melancholy surrounding it as I spent almost my entire fall working on something that for many reasons beyond my control won't be debuting today. But the further out I get from it, the more I realize that perhaps what I was supposed to get out of it is something else entirely.

With that I give you my cheer for the day:

Go "close game" and "cold beer"!

P.S. It'll be the Colts.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Georgia vs. Yo La Tengo

Last night I went to a fun little birthay party/house party. Champagne, cupcakes, good tunes, the world's smallest dog. What else is there?

This morning I threw on the ol' shorts and sneakers and headed out for a run before getting a couple of blocks away only to realize "sweet mother of Jesus it's frikkin' freezing!" All the water I passed was frozen and my teeth were hurting the way they do when it's super-chilly out. I couldn't feel my fingers and I swear the LCD on my iPod was getting fuzzy. But it was sunny so I shouldn't complain.

Off to see Yo La Tengo tonight at the Variety. I've been trying to remember the last time I saw them and am sad to say I think it was at the ACL fest in 2003. Damn.

I hope they rock it.

Oh yeah, and I saw an ad for this little item and thought "who would want their place to not only smell like Glade air fresheners but also to have some lame little light show going on?"

Maybe it's for kids or babies. 'Cause I know it's not for me.

Friday, February 02, 2007

What it is to be a human

I saw this little clip during a serendipitous moment of YouTube searching for some piano reference music. I saw that it involved Damon Albarn and thought “I’ll watch that.”

That was over a week and half ago. And I think about it every day. And I honestly feel like I listen to music differently as a result.

It’s a BBC4 production and you will surely want to break the host guy’s face in but trust me, when 3:10 is left in it gets good. Then at with about 2:20 left Damon drops some k-nowledge on you. And him.

As mentioned before on these pages, I hold Damon in pretty high regard as a musician. This only furthers that. The thing is he says something that I never have been able to put my finger on: that music has a way of capturing the human condition in ways that words never can. It’s up and yet down at the same time, major and minor. I think this explains how sad songs can make you happy and vice versa. It’s magical, this music thing, you know?

Check it:


The piano really is an amazing and versatile instrument and one of my favorites—the dashboard of my car can attest to that fact. I wish we heard more of it.

It’s beautiful in that it’s a percussive instrument yet also a stringed instrument. So you get the benefits of both: the pounding of say a drum or a xylophone and yet the vibrations of strings much like a guitar or a violin.

One of my greatest regrets is not having stuck with my own piano lessons as a child. But then again, it was hard to make the connection between “Hot Cross Buns” or whatever crap song they’re teaching you and the popular music I was listening to. Lord knows the 80’s were filled with “musicians” playing piano who weren’t exactly virtuosos. Surely I could have learned some of their songs. Worse yet, we had a beautiful Steinway. We still do. It taunts me when I go home like “you know, you could be coming home from the European leg of your tour instead of from Atlanta.” I know, piano. I know.

Besides, all the girls in my third-grade class took piano so it was deemed to be un-cool for boys. And that girl Lisa Smith was like some kind of virtuoso on it, playing like Sousa tunes and stuff. Overachiever.

The cruel irony of course is at the time I had no concept of how attracted those same girls would later become to musicians. I mean, you can suck at piano and still get chicks.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

I don’t need any instructions on how to rock

It looks like the stakes in the guerilla marketing campaign wars just went up a notch. Hats off to Aqua Teen Hunger Force.


Remember Lite Brites? Those awesome little things that were a light box with colored pegs you stuck in them to make shapes and designs?

Well Adult Swim made up a bunch of things kind of like those featuring the Mooninites characters and then placed them around various cool cities. We’ve got lots of them here, of course.

So apparently yesterday Boston finally noticed they had some (after like a week) and freaked. Completely. Bomb squad, shutdowns of bridges, major roads and the T. ‘Cause they have batteries and wires.

Here you have an administration/terror patrol/police force/public that I would argue pretty much anyone under the age of 25 thinks is a total joke and totally out of touch versus a show whose viewership is made up largely of those same people.

You couldn’t have staged a better stunt!

Now you are either in the club who watches the show and knows about the Mooninites, you desperately want to be in that club of people who watches, or you’re the loser who doesn’t have a clue.

Whether they intended this whole thing or not, that’s crazy classic Adult Swim theater right there! I mean they spent probably a couple thousand bucks, they’re name is splattered all over the news, and they got exactly what they wanted: separation from boring, fear-loving people.

Oh yeah, and they have a movie coming out in a couple months.

Genius.

Mad props to Williams Street.