Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The latest issue of Spin arrived a few weeks ago (with the Raconteurs on the cover). This is the first issue after the mag was sold and the old editor-in-chief, senior writer, photo editor, senior associate editor, managing editor, and whatever-his-title-was Chuck Klosterman, all left. So while this issue's slapdash nature is probably not the best gauge of what's to come, things do not bode well. The talent-free "Ultragrrrl" gets a party-pages spread where she asks vacuous people a dumb question. There are big features on McGraw-Hill (Tim & Faith, not the publishing house) and Dave Matthews; not who I expect to read about when picking up Spin. And there are like three pictures of Kate Moss (typically without that Doherty guy). Is she a music figure now? When does her album "drop?" So Spin is several steps closer to US Weekly. Great.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Movie Log 2006 #42-45
It's been over a week for most of these. Happenstance was a French movie about lots of meet-cute coincidences. The ensemble cast includes Audrey Tautou, who is of course promoted as The Star, though she's really not.

We were a year late to the party on Ocean's Twelve, and whomever warned me not to think at all about the plot or how it relates to the first film was spot on. A bunch of pretty people contrived an excuse to go vacationing in Europe on the studio's bill, and I was mildly entertained.

So Andrew and Cinnamon hosted an MDN and at least fed us well, but the punishment included The Mind Snatchers, an early-70s Cuckoo's Nest/Clockwork Orange-y thing starring the young Christopher Walken. It was just stupid and boring.

X-Men: Last Stand - Not as bad as you might have heard. Halle Berry's still dreadful, the best character from the last film is inexplicably absent, Kelsey Grammer and Vinnie Jones were quite good, and lots of new characters are wasted before they get wasted. If you have a lot invested in the comics, it may not sit well with you.
3-Chord Monday #23
And here's probably the best song ever to come out of Staten Island.
Dirty Looks - "Let Go"

Monday, May 22, 2006

3-Chord Monday #22
I haven't counted recently, but I think XTC still occupies the second-most space in our CD collection. I particularly like the early spaz-rock phase, before Andy Partridge had his stagefright incident. This is the final track from their first album:
XTC - "Neon Shuffle"

Friday, May 19, 2006

Movie Log 2006 #41: The Hot Rock
Not a Sleater-Kinney live DVD or anything, but rather the Robert Redford caper flick, based on the first of Donald E. Westlake's John Dortmunder books. I don't go in much for mystery/caper novels, but the three or four of the Westlakes I've read have been pretty fun. Years ago John Heaton wrote a piece on ideal casting for the Dortmunder movie adaptations that's worth a read.

Two noteworthy things about The Hot Rock: 1. Shot on location in NYC circa 1972, there are many shots of the WTC under construction, if you're feeling nostalgic. 2. The funniest line in the film is delivered by a young Christopher Guest, in his first credited film role.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Fine, just fine. If the Twins are going to waste 12-strikeout, 2-run complete games from their ace, then I'm throwing secondary allegiance behind the Detroit Tigers. Have fun, guys...be sure to kick the Sox around.

Monday, May 15, 2006

3-Chord Monday #21
I'm more excited than is probably appropriate to be seeing Thomas Dolby this Wednesday, and I have Kevin Federline to thank for it all. A little while ago Mr. Spears sampled a Mobb Deep song which contained a cleared sample of a Dolby song (which K-Fed did not clear). That aspect of the story is fascinating to me; you can be sure that there will be many more lawsuits as people sample more music with second and third-tier sampling.

But anyway, if not for the dustup I wouldn't have been clued into Dolby's small-club tour. Maybe he'll play some of that Howard the Duck stuff. Here is the leadoff track from the overlooked second album (which gave us the minor hit "Hyperactive!"). He's executed in the video, if I recall correctly, making it part of an interesting subgenre.
Thomas Dolby - "Dissidents"

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The first live pro sporting event I ever attended was a Minnesota Kicks indoor game. I was nine or so and had recently decided I liked soccer, no doubt because it was one of the few activities in gym I didn't completely suck at. The tickets were a Christmas present. My folks did an amazing job with them, wrapping them in a succession of larger boxes so that these slips of pasteboard were in the largest package under the tree. The physical surprise of the gift, plus the novelty of getting to go to what seemed like such a grown-up (ha!), exotic (double ha!) thing, made this one of the most memorable Christmas presents I've ever received. I may have been more excited about a present, but I can't remember when. I also learned some things about packaging gifts to make them more interesting -- like when I stuck the 5-pound weights in a present for my sister.

Of course I don't remember much about the game itself, and there's no indoor-NASL equivalent of Retrosheet to help me out. I think it was against the Tulsa Roughnecks. We were very close to the glass. The only two Kicks I could still name without looking anything up are Tim Twellman (father of current MLS star Taylor), who conducted a brief clinic I went to; and a guy with a funny name who was clearly the best guy on the pitch.

That guy had one of my all-time favorite sports names: Ace Ntsoelengoe. Sadly, he died this week in South Africa. Only 50. Well, I suppose 50 is on the high end of the scale in SA.

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

3-chord Monday #20
Forgot about this. Grant MacLennan of the Go-Betweens passed away his weekend, More tributes and music can be found at stereogum:
The Go-Betweens - "Magic In Here"

Sunday, May 7, 2006

and speaking of movies...

if you care about the original-recipe Star Wars hitting DVD, then you're in an abusive relationship with George Lucas and you should run like Tina did from Ike. Look, for ten years now he has shat on you, with the horrible "special editions" and then that godawful new trilogy (nope, still haven't seen Sith, but the claim that it's better than 1-2 is no draw). And people just keep lapping it up. Yeah, I was clamoring for SW to get released the right way, but now I'm beyond caring.
Movie Log 2006 #38-40

Breaker Morant - I'm sure it's no coincidence that the two big Australian movies in 1980-81 (around the 50th anniversary of Australian independence) were about how Aussie soldiers generally got dicked around when fighting the British Empire's wars in the early 20th century. This one is about a courtmartial during the Boer War. Edward "The Equalizer" Herrmann is the title character, and it's his and Bryan Brown's picture. Adapted from a stage play, it does feel quite stagy at times. Of course it's set in South Africa in 1902, and there are maybe two black faces in the whole film.

The title Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia has worked its way into the vernacular like Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo and Snakes on a Plane, but I think few have actually seen it. Noted hack Michael Medved put it in his 50 Worst Films of All Time, but he's an idiot. It's slowish at first, brutal at times, and laced with misogyny, but still surprisingly tender and well worth a look.

Finally, Hostel - you can tell Kirsti's out of town when I netflix all the irredeemable horror movies, and, well, I certainly didn't grow as a person. This one shook me like Audition did. As a bonus, it had moments of wit without the nudge-wink of the Scream movies, and lacked the b.s. preachiness of the Saw films.

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Letter meme

This is how it works: comment on this entry and I will give you a letter. Write ten words beginning with that letter in your [web-based area of blather], including an explanation of what the word means to you and why, and then pass out letters to those who want to play along.

Craig gave me M. so...

Minneapolis - grew up there. Still enjoy going back, though it feels more foreign to me each time.

Michigan, state of - lived there for a year. I've lived all my life in places with winters that are, shall we say, "well-defined," and the most miserable one was spent in MI. Working for Sparty, I did pick up the Wolverine hatred, which is ironic considering the good UM friends I've made through QB, as well as the transplants here.

Music Box Theatre - I claim it's my favorite theatre in the Chicago area. And how could it not be? It's beautiful, got the stars on the ceiling and projected clouds, live organ accompaniment on weekend nights, real butter on the corn. But I haven't been in over two years though...oops.

Metrodome - the (rare) jet-engine sound of a packed house in the post-season, the never-gets-old feeling of getting blown out the doors on the way out... Maybe it's because I only get to go once a year if that, but I love this dump, and I'll be sad when it's gone.

MN State Fair - My mostly-annual festival of gluttony, people-watching and art made of seeds. I'll have to miss this year's though. I try (and usually fail) to abstain from french fries except at the fair, because they're really never as good anywhere else.

Murder, She Wrote - I've never watched, but this show is the reason the family bought my grandma her first VCR. Poor thing kept falling asleep before the killers were revealed.

mommies - most people have one. Heather has two, according to the kids' book. I have four if you count the M.I.L.

Maryland - College Park was the site of Beltway Bandits, the first trash event I attended, and the start of a long Gerbil reign of terror.

Movie Dictator Night - We've been doing these rotating movie nights for six years now. Yikes! About 20 titles have been added since this summary was published a year ago.

married -- for nine years tomorrow. Happy anniversary sweetie! I can honestly say without a trace of sap that it doesn't feel like anything that long.

Monday, May 1, 2006

If you're part of my audience that's ever picked up a buzzer, this is a dismaying and very important read.
Three-Chord Monday #19
So these musicians are noodling around. The guitarist, keyboardist, and bassist decide to switch instruments. They come up with a hook that's jarring in its simplicity, especially after their foray into polyrhythms in the two previous albums. The song is more or less ignored in the shadow of a monster single -- but it turns out to be the best love song written in my lifetime, if not longer. One of the myriad reasons to elope is to avoid having a wedding song. But if I were the sort to have a wedding with a wedding song, this is the one I'd lobby hard for.

Talking Heads - "This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)"
The Arcade Fire's cover
Shawn Colvin's cover

clip from Stop Making Sense