Tuesday, November 29, 2005

It's The Final Cee-ount-dee-owwwwwn!

Well, it's more like The Initial Countdown, but I can't imagine GOB dancing around to The Initial Countdown. Anyway, allow me to condense what I've been listening to of late into digestible chunks... and then footnote the living shit out of it.

What's In My Virtual 5-Disc Changer
5. Dangerdoom - The Mouse And The Mask
4. Jimmy Eat World - Stay On My Side Tonight EP *
3. Sigur Rós - Takk
2. Kasabian - Kasabian **
1. The Darkness - One Way Ticket To Hell... And Back

That's My Joint, Yo
5. Kanye West - "Touch The Sky"
4. Kasabian - "Reason Is Treason"
3. The Darkness - "Hazel Eyes"
2. Sigur Ros - "Glósóli"
1. Dangerdoom - "Vats Of Urine" (see earlier post)

Late Adopter Top 5 Albums
5. Bruce Springsteen - The River
4. (tie) They Might Be Giants - Apollo 18 / John Henry / Factory Showroom
3. Stereolab - Emperor Tomato Ketchup
2. Pulp - Hits
1. (tie) The Beta Band - Hot Shots II / The Beta Band ***

* - This EP is notable for featuring a worthwhile, dare I say good, remix of "Drugs Or Me." The original tune, for those who didn't die from listening to it, was earnest, but so unsophisticated lyrically that no adult could possibly take the words seriously. When your heartfelt anti-drug ballad inspires straight-edge people like me to start wondering which friend of theirs could score them some heroin if they ever wanted it... well, I think something might not be working. Jim "No, It's A Different Jimmy" Adkins comes off sounding like a real wuss, which is saying something in today's rock world. Fortunately, the electronic remix distorts the unbearable emo-nstrual lyrics to the point where one can actually listen to the song without vomiting, committing seppuku, or shooting up with borrowed needles. But there's also a duality that comes along with that vocoder-fication... when Adkins sings "I can't tell you from the drugs," you can't tell him from the vocoder. Are we the drug-addled girl he's singing to, and is that how unclear the message would sound to a strung out person? I doubt that was the intention, but interesting to think about nonetheless.

** - Kasabian fucking rocks.

*** - This is a late adoption of those two albums, not the Betas themselves. I've been into the Betas for a while now, but only recently turned the corner from thinking The Three EPs was their peak. But no. They were the real deal. And now they're gone. Check out their best-of for a good (if imperfect) sampling of their best work.

Globlets of Fire

I almost loved the new Harry Potter movie.  I did like it a lot.  It's much more dramatic than any of its predecessors, and while ridiculous on one level, very real and identifiable on another.  Considering it was the first jumbo-sized book in the series, they did a great job of boiling it down to the bare essentials.

See, Goblet of Fire is the pivotal book of the series.  It raises the stakes from a cutesy make-believe school story to a legitimate fantasy story with major implications within its universe.  It doesn't exactly drop the cutesy-poo stuff, but there are serious implications to Harry's story from here on out.  The paradigm shift at the end of Goblet leaves Hogwarts, as well as the rest of the world, in a state of utter disarray.  Dumbledore is barking out orders like a field general, people are panicking, nobody knows what's happening... but things are definitely whirling out of control, and there's an associated adrenaline rush to all the madness.  Essentially, the book essentially ends with a big, fat "WTF?!?"  It's the Empire Strikes Back of the Potter series, though the parallels are only contextual.

Unfortunately, very little of that devastation is is conveyed in the film.  It does the job in terms of exposition, but not all that well.  I imagine the 9-year-olds in the audience would beg to differ, but I didn't sense that Hogwarts was different in any way; as far as the movie is concerned, it was just another wacky old year at Hogwarts.  Except for minor details like, you know, (spoiler alert) Voldemort coming back and fucking killing people.  Instead, there's this whole theme about international unity and friendship and stuff that overrides the difficult times that lie ahead.  Having an apparent return to normalcy instead of a seismic shift doesn't do right by the story.

Oh well.  Maybe they'll make Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince more devastating, now that parents know what their kids are in for.

Behold, Y'all: The Digital Vats Of Urine

Drink up, bitches! Taste our liquid gold...

Some day, you may even show your son how to
Use it to make potassium nitrate for gunpowder
Funded by friends of ours who's generous;
Join us next time, when we discuss disgusting enemas!

Saturday, November 19, 2005


Oh. My. God. It's things like this that make the Internet such a happy place. Thank you, barbelith. All that bad crap I always say about English people and the inedible slop they cook... I take it all back for a few weeks.

Monday, November 14, 2005

More On TV (not "Moron TV")

Just watched the first three episodes, and I'm hooked.  Really excellent stuff.  Nothing much has happened, but they're doing an incredible job of setting the scene, establishing character relationships, picking sides.  Gotta love a show where every single authority figure is dead-set against the show's hero, on top of being in somebody's pocket.  I obviously don't know much about the projects, but it sure looks and feels genuine to me; maybe not as rough as real, and still within the bounds of TV drama, but real enough.

I gotta say, after watching four episodes, I don't think I can get involved in this show.  I like it a lot, but it's just too soapy.  There isn't much point to the proceedings, apart from saying (repeatedly) that 9/11 sucked for firefighters, and oh by the way here's their sex lives too.  I don't enjoy watching a likable character like Jimmy (Denis Leary) tear his life apart because he has no other choice presented to him.  The grit and rawness is admirable, and the acting from Leary and the supporting cast is really phenomenal, but the melodrama really undermines the realism.  Rescue Me does get serious "balls" points for not compromising on its character arcs, and for its uncanny ability to find the most vulnerable part of the groin and punch it repeatedly.  But that doesn't mean I want to watch it.

I can't help but think of British slum operas like EastEnders as Rescue Me's model.  EastEnders is basically a soap about blue-collar types in London, with the interesting parts of working-class life presented for public consumption.  It's admirable that an American show is taking a cue from British blue-collar drama, but why would I want to watch an American attempt at a British genre that I don't like?  Great show... but.

Solid.  Not incredible, nothing fancy or over-the-top, just a quality show that's both stupid and smart, reliable and irreverent, lovable and indulgent.  And it has the best premise to come down the line in a long, long time... small-town crook tries to correct all the wrongs he's done in his life, one per episode.  It makes no bones about being a sitcom.  It's not out to turn the genre inside-out, like Arrested Development, but instead shows a respect for symmetry, neatness, self-containment, and selling the moral of the story.  Its emphasis on heart and warmth is something that's been missing in sitcoms since Seinfeld.  It's moralistic, and entirely unashamed of it.  Love thy neighbor, stupid.  Chasing Amy's Jason Lee is largely the reason for that, selling Earl as a fundamentally weak person who exceeds himself by placing absolute faith in karma.

That being said, I don't know that I'd call it must-see show.  I have high standards when it comes to sitcoms, having been raised grown up as an addict on the crappiest of the crap (one word: Meepos), and I'm not sure I'll be adding this to my growing list of addictions.  It isn't as funny as laugh riots like Family Guy and Arrested Development, in part because it isn't trying to fly above everyone's head.  While Family Guy and Arrested are NY strip with a side of mushroom risotto, Earl is a big, juicy hamburger.  It's a well-made show that does the job.

Ha, just kidding.  Here's who I think should win.