Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Trailers As Opening Act, Not Commercials: Naiiiice, Haigh Faive!!!

I spent yesterday afternoon seeing the incredibly hilarious and brilliant-on-every-level Hot Fuzz.  But I'll discuss that later.

I was highly impressed by the Majestic's choice of trailers prior to the film: Superbad, Balls of Fury, and Knocked Up.  Three hilarious, excessively silly trailers running ahead of a hilarious, excessively silly movie.

How perfect.  It was like an opening act, or a well-produced mixtape.  Advertisers reach the comedy audience, the audience gets some bonus comedy.  No piece-of-shit pre-teen ghost stories about subscribing to an RSS feed from beyond the graaaaaave.  No Kleenex klassics in which we all learn to appreciate our mothers-in-law, no matter how eccentric they may be.  No sign of the latest moronic robots-blowing-each-other-up fiasco.  Just teh funny, teh whole funny, and nothing but teh funny.  Everybody wins.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Today's Sign Of The Apocalypse

I just saw a commercial on TNT for a new, full-body version of KY lube.  I didn't know they were advertising on TV.  I guess Trojan and Cialis advertise as well, but those products have medical/anti-viral benefits.  KY's pretty much just for fuckin'.  Hard fuckin'.  Seems a bit risque, even for cable, given that they're advertising lube during a holiday Law & Order marathon.

I assume it's the ability to use it as a body lotion, and not just a lubricant, that makes it appropriate for afternoon viewing.  It tingles, so obviously you'd want to rub it all over your neck before squirting it all over your vajayjay or balloon knot.  Because hey, who wouldn't want to be covered in personal lubricant?  In fact, what am I doing at the computer?  I'm gonna go cover myself in lube.  Happy Memorial Day!

Friday, May 25, 2007

What Does This Mean?

Big news on the entertainment front: Johnny Drama uses the same phone that I do!

Don't all start asking questions at once!!!

It's on display in the episode from a couple weeks ago, where he's trying to avoid all the reviews of his new show. Towards the end, he's getting a bunch of calls on his cell phone, and wouldn't you know, it's the exact same model as mine:

I like seeing my stuff on TV. Sure, it's Drama, but it's my phone, and it's on TV. I find the defendant... TOTALLY AWESOME.

The great thing is that it fits his character. It's not the greatest phone in the world... nice enough that you don't look like a hobo answering your calls, but sensible enough that Drama could have gotten it for free by signing a two-year contract. In a weird way, it affirms my taste.

Then again, it's Drama. Much as I enjoyed it, this is not nearly as cool as when I noticed that Ron Wood plays the same Les Paul that I do. That was sweet. This is more like finding out I have one of George Costanza's personality quirks. Or that I own the same shirt as Screech from Saved By The Bell. Or something. I own nothing of Screech's, honestly. And I didn't send him any money to save his house. (I hope he's OK!)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Rob Corddry was one of the best Daily Show correspondents by far.  He's been gone for a while, having left to work on his own sitcom.  Haven't seen it, but I imagine it's funny.  Probably a good step for him, seeing as he was apparently frustrated by the show's limitations and its audience, at least as evidenced in this delightfully tongue-in-cheek (though old) interview.  The highlight:

How is The Daily Show audience?
Oh, God. It's all college kids and NPR listeners. They smuggle in The New York Times in their tote bags. The Daily Show audience used to drive me fucking crazy, because they would just applaud at every reference to some right-wing guest being taken down. Or anything slightly to the left of center. They would stand in their chairs, and it would just drive me crazy. The Daily Show, at its best, is not smug. And Jon tells the audience, "Look, tonight Bill O'Reilly is gonna be on, and we know you don't like him, but he is a guest in our house, and you treat him with respect." And Jon absolutely hates it when people will just applaud at anything remotely liberal. It's a knee-jerk audience. It's so easy. But at the same time, I used to peek out from behind the curtains, and the excitement on people's faces, it's giving me chills right now just thinking about it.
Ouch!  Methinks somebody takes his honesty black... no cream, no sugar.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Taking A Leak: Spoon

Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

Yes yes yes yes yes.  Spoon really hasn't made a mistake since Girls Can Tell.  Everything they've released has been just flat-out excellent.  Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is no exception.

I've been loving the first leaked track, "The Ghost Of You Lingers," for a week or so.  Like "Small Stakes" before it, there's little more than an oddly-tuned piano and vocal effects.  Yet despite that spareness, "Ghost" is entirely compelling.  It builds momentum out of spare parts, like MacGyver.  It's Exhibit A of why they're so off-the-charts brilliant.

The other tunes on the album are just as great, if not quite so odd.  The grooves of "Rhythm & Soul" and "Finer Feelings" stand out, and the rest is standard-issue rollicking Spoon.  As intelligently conceived and executed as it gets.  There's not much else to say.

Where it sits in the discography is unclear.  I've concluded that Kill The Moonlight is their best album, though Gimme Fiction comes close, and likely exceeds Moonlight in sheer brilliance if not end result.  Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga definitely holds its own.  Whether it exceeds either of its predecessors won't be clear for a while.

But that's not entirely relevant anyway.  The important thing is that we all have another great Spoon album.  Highly recommended.

Taking A Leak: Art Brut

It's A Bit Complicated

First thought about the new Art Brut?  It's fine.  Definitely no Bang Bang Rock And Roll, but what could be?  Still, something vital is missing.  They sound controlled, more conscious of what the outcome should be like.  Less loose, more serious.  In short, they seem to be lacking their mojo.

My theory as to why that is revolves around Bang Bang's status as a concept album: wouldn't it be hilarious if we formed a band and did it like this?  Every song fits the "Wouldn't It Be Hilarious If _____" format.  "Formed A Band," "Rusted Guns Of Milan," "Fight," "Moving To LA"... they're all tongue-in-cheek (and vaguely anarchical) takes on clichéd subjects, but they also happen to work as songs.  You get the sense that the whole concept of the band is, on some level, a ridiculously elaborate joke.

Complicated, meanwhile, is a proper album with proper pop songs ("Post Soothing Out," "Direct Hit,"  "Nag Nag Nag Nag").  It's good.  It's not, like, a mess or anything, and it certainly doesn't invalidate Bang Bang in any way.  But it doesn't really stand for anything or represent anything on its own.  The cheek is still there, but the joke seems to be gone.

It seems obvious in retrospect that this would happen.  It's not the first time in the history of western civilization that a sophomore album has fallen short.  There's no way they could have reproduced Bang Bang's ingenious subtext.  They'd have to do a send up of a band going off the reservation and "experimenting" on their inevitable sophomore let-down album; talk about tall orders.  With the odds stacked against them like that, a step backwards was inevitable.

Fortunately for us, Art Brut is already well ahead of the curve as it is, so a step back is still pretty awesome.  Our job now is to adjust to the new world order.  No more manifesto-like declarations?  No  more laugh-out-loud funny Italian bank capers?  No ballads about erectile dysfunction?  Fine by me.  I'll settle for the slacker exhortations, knowing full well that the catchy tunes will come alive in concert, and we'll still walk out of the show with ear-to-ear smiles on our faces.  At any rate, no hard feelings.

The point of comparison that comes to mind, in terms of forgiveness, is One Way Ticket To Hell And Back by The Darkness.  I worked hard to foster an appreciation for that album, despite knowing at first listen that it fell short of Permission to Land.  It doesn't have anywhere near the same energy and verve as its predecessor.  But I stuck by it, because I liked the band and what it stood for.  When the same situation came up with Kasabian and its tepid album Empire, I dismissed them.  Fortunately, Art Brut falls into the former category.  They've earned a few years of water-treading from me.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Stranger Than Fiction

Well, this was quite the rollercoaster. Not the movie itself, but my opinion of it.

I should preface my remarks by saying that Britt Daniel's involvement in this film is ultimately what made me watch it. I'm skeptical of overly literary films like this, so knowing Daniel helped out with the music was a safety net: hey, even if the movie sucks I'd hear a bunch of Spoon, right? Luckily, that wasn't the case.

However, it took a long, long time for that lack of suckage to become evident. Due to the aforementioned skepticism, I wasn't comfortable with it at first. I didn't feel right submitting to it, accepting it as cute or clever or whatever. I get antsy whenever a story is forced along in a "this happened, then this happened" kind of way instead of falling into place naturally. Whenever I get hit in the face with each step of the story, whenever I sense that kind of narrative manipulation, I resist it as much as I can. Given that the manipulation persists to the very end, it was a grueling battle to stay on the movie's side.

What's more is that it's there around every corner. We are constantly being made aware of authorial machinations, of the witty, observant ways in which the screenwriter tips his hat to things that seem "literary." We're meant to be acutely aware that all the characters' idiocyncracies, all their wardrobes, all the plot points that move through their lives are straight out of a mediocre novel. It's quite clever... a well-done joke.

The problem is that by concentrating on the joke, you lose connection to the storytelling itself. It's just more evidence of the man behind the curtain, the forced, unnatural development of the plot. Everything has been screwed with, leading to a disconnection from the storytellers. In the end, it just didn't resonate for me. I think all those contrivances hold the movie back from anything more than a great idea and an OK movie.

"Somebody help me! I'm contrived!"

Could anything have been done about it? Probably not. It's a movie about a real-life fictional character who is being puppeteered by an author. And it's not like the script wasn't clever or observant. I do think it could have been executed better, though it still turned out pretty good. Maybe it's just inherent to the concept that you have to accept the puppet master's hand up your ass. Maybe that's the only way it could work. But that's not how Jeff Doucette rolls.

Anyway, I did still enjoyed it quite a bit. It's certainly very sweet, thoughtful, and clever. And it's definitely a well-executed idea. I'll give it three sea-green Fender Stratocasters out of five.

Look Out, Cincinnati Bowtie...

Top Ten Sex Acts Named After Geography That Don't Exist, But Should
(degree of difficulty: North America only)

10. Santa Fe Margarita
9. Rhode Island Macaroni
8. Tulsa Tuxedo
7. Boise Milkshake
6. Calgary Stampede
5. Milwaukee T-Shirt
4. Atlanta-Style Brunch
3. Houston Meltdown
2. Cape Cod Clambake
1. Denver Omelette

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Album Thoughts

I'll sit on the Spoon and Art Brut leaks until I've had time to ruminate.  (Hint: one of them is boring, and the other one is awesome.)  I'm also giving Kings of Leon a couple more chances to strike me before I give my final answer.

The Twilight Sad - Fourteen Autumns And Fifteen Winters
Good stuff.  As with Art Brut, one of the main appeals of their music is their singer's outrageous accent.  Seriously.  It really sells the lyrics, draws attention to words because of the "odd" (to me) pronunciation.  The album as a whole is a little ponderous for my taste, but lead track "Cold Days from the Birdhouse" is a show-stopper, and a mortal lock to be one of my favorite songs of the year.

The National - Boxer
Saw them with Arcade Fire, and remembered "hey... they exist!"  Good band, good music.  But I feel the same way about Boxer that I do about Alligator... I know it's good and all, but it's not really grabbing me.  It's too mellow.  ("Abel" from Alligator is the only song of theirs that really gets my attention.)  I may come around later on this one.

Noisettes - What's The Time Mr. Wolf?
Came out of nowhere for me.  First, they were a huge surprise live.  They pack a punch, considering it's just a lady, a guitarist and a drummer.  Then I checked out their album, which I figured wouldn't be as good as their show... lo and behold, it is.  Fun stuff.  The singer is an Ani DiFrancolyte, though not all the time... she can definitely sing, that much is clear.  Still, I think the real talent in the band is their guitarist.  That dude can rock.  Not in like a flashy Steve Vai sense, but in the sense that he's really, really competent.  He's not just noodling or "experimenting with dissonance."  It's very polished.  On the whole, they remind me of the White Stripes, but with a little more groove to them... both bands are a showcase for the lonely, unadorned electric guitar.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Why I Haven't Been Posting Concert Reviews

I realized last week, while thinking about May 5th's excellent Arcade Fire concert in Philadelphia, that I haven't posted about any concert experiences of late.  In fact, I've seen four shows since March 1, and neglected to discuss any of them.

The reason is that each of the more recent concerts I've been to, with the exception of the seated Arcade Fire show, has been tainted by my absolute favorite kind of asshole show-goer.  I have tried in vain to write concert summaries without mentioning them, but my insatiable wrath towards these worthless human beings keeps popping up.  And nobody wants to hear about that, right?

Well, tough titty, because until I let it out, it's just gonna keep turning up elsewhere.  So, here goes.  Apologies in advance.

I like going to concerts early, because it's easy to find room up near the front without having to actively displace anyone else.  I'm satisfied to stand around bored through the opening act(s) and the lulls between sets, because I know I'll enjoy the headliners that much more if I hold my ground.  After all, I'm there for the concert, not the bar or whatever.  I willingly sacrifice increased convenience for increased enjoyment of music.  It leaves me bored, but in the end much happier.

The problem is when, right before the headliner goes on, I end up elbowed out of the way by some stumbling drunken idiot who just showed up at the club.  You put in all that work to get the spot without having to be a dick about it, and along comes some dick who takes it away from me.  Imagine my joy.

What's the real problem?  A disagreement over entitlement.  I feel entitled to the observation of "first-come, first-served" when it comes to general admission concerts.  The crowd is basically a big, fat line.  Nobody, I mean nobody, cuts in line in this country without consequences.  The whole system falls into anarchy once we stop paying attention to lines.  And that Cuntmaster General is doing precisely that.  Maybe you don't make a big deal out of that stuff, but I do.

He, meanwhile, feels entitled not just to have his cake (show up whenever he wants, hang out by the bar) and eat it too (still see the show from the best spot in the club), but to take your cake if he ends up with none.  I'm sitting here pissed that he took my cake, and he's like "whatever... it's a rock show, man."  My favorite excuse ever!  Total absolution for concert-goers!  Diplomatic immunity!!!  I guess that means I can rape the shit out of his asshole with my keychain.  Hey pal, no worries... it's a "rock show."

Whenever anything like this happens to me, I start down that path towards ridiculous "there oughta be a law!" statements.  Like, if you blatantly violate one social norm, you're exposed to retribution based on the blatant disregard of another.  For example, I say that if you cut in front of me at a show, anyone you shoved out of your way is allowed to wipe their taints all over their hands and stick their fingers in your mouth.*  I think that's fair, don't you?

Anyway, what really, really kills me is that these folks have rationalized their actions to the point where the problem doesn't even exist to these people.  So I'm left to determine their justifications based on their actions, rather than their words.  Therefore, here's why it's apparently OK to muscle a grown man out of your way:

  • "I'm drunk."
  • "I'm with my special lady."
  • "DANCE!"  (This pill-popping twat is the only person I've ever shoved in my life.)
  • "I'm a huge fan."
  • "What's the big deal, brah?"
  • Lastly, but not leastly: "hey dude... it's a rock show."
You may disagree as to the import of all this, but you cannot disagree that these are stupid reasons to justify acting like an asshole to another person.  Now, just in case you still don't know how I really feel, here's what I think about those excuses, in order:

  • Booze is no excuse.  Or was I "asking for it" by "dressing up like that"?
  • Your special lady looks like a dogshit taco with eyebrows.  Where'd you meet her, the zoo?
  • I was dancing until you elbowed me in the nuts.  Just because I'm not skanking like you (memo: it's not 1996) doesn't make you the fucking Fun Police.  Like you're gonna get the party started.  Eat a soggy dick.
  • If you're such a huge fuckin' fan, get to the show before 10.
  • That's called "nihilism," brah.  This isn't 'Nam.  There are rules.
  • Covered earlier.  But for good measure, choke on my pubes and die, you selfish, inconsiderate, worthless fucking cumstain.
There, I said it.  And I feel much better.  Maybe now I can talk about other stuff again without going nuts.  Or maybe I'll just turn into this guy.  [sound; nsfw]

* One that's been knocking around my head of late: if you park illegally, your vehicle is no longer protected by the law.  "Hey look... free car!"  Then we'll see how fast people start acknowledging parking restrictions.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Best Eating Game Ever

This has been an amazing day between me and the Internet, which is shocking since I'm running on 5 hours of sleep and quite grumpy as a result.  And yet I have had loads of fun.

For example, here's a nugget of wisdom from famous keg stand dynamo Eddie Argos of Art Brut:

After the show in Norwich we ended up at a party thrown by a man called Dan Ottolangui. I woke up in his house in the morning with "You are now an Ottolangui" on my arm, in my own handwriting. It took a while to realise that it was a surname: I thought maybe I'd done something to myself in the night and Ottolangui was the scientific name for what I'd become. I like being an Ottolangui. I joined his family because we had a mutual love of the comedian Stewart Lee, the same record collection, and because at Sunday dinner his family play a game in which they shout an item from their meal, for example "broccoli", and then they all have to eat that item really quickly. Sometimes they shout "freestyle" and can eat what they like. Who wouldn't want to join that family? I'm now Eddie Ottolangui.
That game is totally happening.  I want to have a potluck now, just so this game can be played.