Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

I am home alone this weekend, as The Lovely Becky and our little Libby have taken off to visit TLB’s parents in a place called Civilization. So my Halloween costume will be Grown Up Nerd Playing Video Games Until His Eyeballs Fall Out. Seizures, here I come! Although part of me would like to dress up as a dog and scare the hell out of our cats.

1) “Secret Touch,” Rush. iTunes must know that The Lovely Becky is gone and that means I can crank my Rush without any fear of reprisal, scorn, or withering laughter. As much as I do love Rush, I also would not want a secret touch from any of them. Our relationship is strictly musical.

2) “Atomic Power,” Uncle Tupelo. Remember how back in the early 90s it seemed like the fear of nuclear destruction was washed away with Boris Yeltsin’s Vodka of Freedom? That the only thing we had to fear was SKYNET sending a naked Arnold Schwarzenegger back in time to kill John Connor? Now, thanks to an unstable Pakistan and a Holocaust-denying Iranian cobag with a fear of neckties and the new Russia that looks a lot like the old Russia, the fear of mushroom clouds is hip again. You know the return of the “No Nukes” t-shirt can’t be far behind, which would likely foreshadow a Wham reunion...a far scarier fate than fallout.

3) “Madam Me,” Alkaline Trio. One of my workout favorites. It gives me the shot of adrenaline and anger I need to show that elliptical machine who’s boss, even if just for two minutes and twenty seconds. Bonus: video from a Halloween-night Trio concert featuring a ridiculous upside-down cross above the drummer. Takes me back to when I was a lad and drew pentagrams on my notebooks. I had no interest in worshiping the devil, I just thought pentagrams were badass. Amazingly, my parents and Catholic school teachers never said anything, but if I had been drawing penises, I'm sure I would have been shipped immediately into therapy.

4) “Blue Northern Lights,” Ollabelle. I think the pedal steel guitar is the Official Instrument of Relationships That Done Gone Bad. This song kicked in and I immediately wanted to go to the bar down the street, pull up a lonely stool, and sip a bitter beer while wondering how I let TLB get away. Even though she’s coming back on Monday. Sadly, only video I could find lacks the pedal steel, but you can feel it haunting the song.

5) “Kizza Me,” Big Star. Like someone took a great power pop song, cut it into bits, and pasted it back together. I mean that in a good way.

6) “Lost in Space,” Fountains of Wayne. Whereas this is a seamless piece of power pop, shaped out of one shiny sheet of rock. They sound like they’re covering a Cars song that you’ve never heard before. Again, I mean that in a good way.

7) “When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around,” The Police. Apologies for another appearance from The Official Spokesman for Tantric Lovemaking, but old Sting is too good to keep locked out of sight behind bedroom doors. I didn’t go to the reunion concert a couple years ago because the only tickets I could get were $250 a pop, but I recently saw footage of them playing at some UK festival and wished I’d dug into the cookie jar to spring for the tickets. I know, that's crazy money to spend to see anyone unless they figured out a way to bring someone like Hendrix back from the grave and send him on tour. But there are few bands that could play an entire concert without playing a song I wish they skipped, and The Police are one of those bands—assuming they didn’t let Andy Summers sing “Mother.”

8) “Green Lantern,” The Mutton Birds. New Zealand jangle pop with the kind of pleasant, well-crafted sensibility that makes me like Nada Surf so much. Sadly no video, but worth seeking out.

9) “Swinging London,” The Magnetic Fields. I’ve had the rock band fantasy since I first started listening to music, and it always involves being in some sort of guitar-driven band, whether, metal, prog, punk, garage, bar, Rockford-based, etc. While I like synth-pop, I never visualized myself in a synth-pop band. Until I started listening to The Magnetic Fields a couple years ago. There’s so much deadpan humor and clever turns of phrase in their songs, it’s almost like a Friday 11 set to a Casio keyboard, only with the clever part added.

10) “Hard to Explain,” The Strokes. Super-fuzzy but still soft, like cashmere. I still don’t believe those drums are being played by a human.

11) “Rockin’ in the Free World (Live),” Neil Young & Crazy Horse. Two weeks in a row of live Neil awesomeness. He’s written more poignant songs, more touching songs, more creative songs, but this one is my favorite. Dare I say the most fist-pumping political song ever? (Dare, dare! as Cleavon Little would say in Blazing Saddles). Yes, most fist-pumping political song ever. The punks could rock louder and faster and snottier, and Bono could be more flag-waveier, but this just plows ahead with a steady beat, a lot of distortion, and lyrics that drip with anger while never moving into Screed County. Gets me every time with that’s one more kid that’ll never go to school, never get to fall in love, never get to be cool before that thunderhead chorus comes and shoots lightening into my ears. Bonus: all-star jam with Max Weinberg playing the drums like he was playing with a Ouija Board and got possessed by John Bonham.

Have a Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Top Ten Tuesdays: How are we bringing Anglicans back to the Catholic Church?

10) Replacing communion wine and wafers with stout and chips.

9) Swapping out guitar mass for Beatles Rock Band mass.

8) Reversing Catholic decree forbidding annulment by decapitation.

7) Incorporating Cockney “Gov’nor Jim Bible” into liturgy.

6) Mailing out coupon book including five free indulgences.

5) Letting married Anglican priests remain married under the doctrine of pre boneum.

4) Allowing priests to wear Union Jack vestments.

3) Promising that all gay clergy will remain securely closeted.

2) Offering exchanges for full parish credit on female priests.

1) Agreeing to excommunicate the 21st century.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Four quarters of pure, unfiltered ugh

Great googly moogly, did the Bears shit the bed yesterday. I could tell by the time the Bengals finished their opening drive it was going to be a long day -- the Bears looked like they were sleepy from a big pasta dinner as the Bengals pushed them around. I did not, however, expect a 45-10 beating that resembled Andy Dufresne running into The Sisters in the Shawshank Penitentiary laundry room.

My brother Tickle and I have a long-running joke about evaluating the Bears play. When the Bears do well, we'll text each other "Super Bears, Super Bowl." When they do poorly, we change it to, "Super Bears, Super Suck." Yesterday I couldn't even muster the first part of that joke. "Super suck," I texted him.

"That should be the title of your blog," he wrote back.

A fine suggestion, but since this is an official NFL blog, I felt I should stay away from "suck" or references to prison rape. So I turned that frown upside down and then slapped that smile on Cedric Benson for my latest Bears post.

Thanks for the Self-Esteem Boost, Bears!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

I was at the gym earlier this week, doing my gerbil-on-a-wheel imitation, pumping my legs in the fruitless quest for The Cheese of Eternal Youth. I looked up at the bank of TV monitors for some type of sports to both motivate me and distract me from 30 minutes of repetition, when I saw Kelsey Grammer’s tits.

One of the TVs was showing Grammer’s new sitcom Hank, about an executive who loses his money and has to live among the common proles. He was lying in bed with his wife, seemingly after some lower-middle-class boning, and the sheets were down low enough that there was double-barreled man-nipple action on TV.

Here’s what’s completely fucked up about American television standards: It’s perfectly acceptable for Kelsey Grammer to flash his hi-beams during network prime time, but his wife—the rather fetching Melinda McGraw—spent the scene with the covers up to her bare shoulders. Why? Because the Puritans fucking ruined this country and set the precedent that you can’t see female nipples outside of marriage, premium cable, or an unmonitored Internet connection.

I’ve seen every Seinfeld episode, and on multiple occasions I have been subjected to the shirtlessness of Jason Alexander, Michael Richards, and Jerry Seinfeld. What have I gotten from Julia Louise-Dreyfuss? A popped blouse button and a wet shirt. I’ve seen Chris Fareley’s bare chest while Amy Poehler remained covered up. Jon Hamm’s chest hair practically has its own subplot on Mad Men, but Christina Hendricks bosoms remain trapped behind an Iron Underwire Curtain.

The examples go on and on. While there are certainly plenty of attractive male chests being flashed on TV—hey, even I’ve felt a little seduced by Don Draper at times—the point is that flabby man-boobs can be trotted out like a marching band at halftime, while perfectly good breasts have be hidden under brassieres, bikinis, blankets, or blurred circles.

In the case of this episode of Hank, we also missed a valuable lesson for American’s youth. Melinda McGraw is not only attractive, but age-appropriate, and lowering the sheet to Kelsey Grammer levels would have been a teachable moment in showing the natural beauty of “older” women. Won’t someone think of the children?

But worst of all, seeing this at the gym threw me off completely. When I work out, I visualize: this is me, sweating out the bad, pumping up the good, lifting up the sag and pulling in the drag. Seeing a droopy bit of male breast when I’m ellipticalling my way to a better me is like working out while looking in the bathroom mirror in the morning. I know what I look like with my shirt off, thank you very much. I sure as hell don’t need to be reminded of it when I’m exercising, and all that does is make me want to get off that machine and scrub my eyes as quickly as possible. But put an attractive pair of breasts on that TV screen, and I could probably reach down deep and find the energy to exercise for another 10 minutes.

Let’s play some tunes….

1) “Changes,” David Bowie. I am getting some gray hair and frankly being a bit of a baby about it, and then being a bit of a baby about being a bit of a baby about it. On the one hand, part of me things a little coloring would be okay—nothing crazy, just my natural color. On the other, part of me thinks that’s totally ridiculous, that I’m being a vain idiot and that I should be happy that I still have a very full head of hair (that part sounds quite a bit like TLB’s voice). Which is why David Bowie is brilliant. He’s been dyeing his hair since he was 18 months old, so he has the built-in excuse that it’s a tradition for him, that he likes it for the variety or something. I wish I had figured that out when I was 22.

2) “What Do You Want Me to Say,” The Dismemberment Plan. Never lived up to the awesomeness of that band name, although I dig this song.

3) “Heretic Pride,” Mountain Goats. The-feel-good-dragged-to-your-execution-for-religious-reasons song of the decade.

4) “Elephant Stone,” The Stone Roses. About as good as music gets for me. Some songs are sunny, but this one is the sun, giving off heat and warmth and just lighting me up, even on a dreary October day after I’ve come face to face with my own gradual pectoral demise.

5) “The Wagon,” Dinosaur Jr. At their revved-up best. I love how the bridge turns it up a notch, high-fiving my ears before Mascis rips into one of his patented controlled-chaos solos.

6) “Iron Man (Live),” Black Sabbath. The drums that kick off this live version give off some serious Spinal Tap vibes, so much so that I almost expected to hear David St. Hubbins instead of Ronnie James Dio. While I loves me some Dio, he can’t do this one justice. This song is 100% Ozzy. After all, he’s the Prince of F---in’ Darkness!

Doesn’t old-school metal Satanism seem so quaint these days? I remember how much of an uproar there was over this stuff, and now you get Jack Black starring in a videogame that makes Hell look as cool as a heavy metal album cover. So it was like a trip down memory lane when people actually flipped over Black leading an audience in a Satanic “prayer” at the Video Music Awards. If you ever wonder, “Gee, how did such atrocious Rapture porn like the Left Behind series sell 66.6 million copies,” here’s your chance to meet the readers.

7) “I,” Bad Brains. Like it just leaps out of the speakers and pulls me into the pit.

8) “Plush,” Stone Temple Pilots. Here’s something I don’t think you ever hear: “Man, am I glad I started doing heroin!” I get the allure of drugs, sure, but you have to wonder what the hell possesses people to try something like this. I know what gets them to keep doing it (Addiction? You’re soaking in it!). But what pushes them to say, “I keep hearing all these remarkable things about heroin. I’ve just got to see what all the fuss is about.” It’s the drug equivalent of investigating a house with blood coming out of the walls—you know it’s not going to end well, so why not just move into that nice little bungalow at the corner of Booze Ave. and Hemp Ct.”

Also, with regard to the video: just because you're heroin skinny doesn't mean you should take your shirt off.

9) “Powderfinger (Live),” Neil Young & Crazy Horse. Like a great pair of worn jeans: goes with everything, fits perfectly, and the little frays and rips just make them that much cooler.

10) “Love Is the Seventh Wave,” Sting. I’m not a world music guy. No offense to the rest of the world, and unlike the previous administration, I have no intention of trying to convert world music fans into my music fans or bombing them with rock. It’s just not me, much in the same way jazz and classical are not me, and if I tried to make them into me, I’d look like a poseur. So, jolly good show, Sting, but I’m more of a “Next to You” man.

11) “My Morning Song,” The Black Crowes. There’s a balls-out quality to this song that pumps me up every time I hear it. It sprints out of the gate, gets my heart going, then slows it down to a crawl before building everything back up and rocking me even harder than before. The only thing missing is for a hand to come out of the speakers and light the cigarette afterward.

Look at that, a bunch of songs people might have actually heard! Have a good weekend, and may any breasts you see be pleasant.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Top Ten Tuesdays: What are we treating with medical marijuana?

10) Futon Back

9) Led Zeppelin Intolerance

8) Gigglephobia

7) Blacklight Eye

6) Conversational Blockage

5) Chronic Alertness

4) Parking Lot Malaise

3) Post-Graduate Employment Stress Syndrome

2) Revenue Atrophy

1) Drug-Enforcement Fatigue

Monday, October 19, 2009

Chicago Bears Blogging

What's better than watching your favorite team lose a crucial Sunday night game, losing to a team in almost the same gut-punching way that they did the year before?

Staying up to blog about it.

I've been blogging for a few weeks for NFL Blog Blitz, a new football-blog that has a fancy official partnership with the real NFL. The partnership has finally been consummated via press release, so I am free to link to my orange and blue blood, sweat, and tears. And what a way to make this public:

"Are You There Bears? It's Me, The Running Game."

Since this is an official NFL blog, dick jokes are a banned substance. But I managed to work in a Judy Blume reference and make a double-entendre out of "spread offense," so I'm still being me.

Admittedly, these posts won't probably make sense or be that entertaining if you don't follow the Bears, but there are a couple others I've done that I am rather proud of:

Top 10 Ways the Bears Spent Their Bye Week
The Fellowship of the Bears Fans (because nothing goes with football like Tolkien).

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

“We are all Rush Limbaugh.”

I read it twice to make sure I read it correctly. But that’s what the grade-A nuts at Red State posted.

See, poor Rush Limbaugh has a dream. It’s a dream that goes along with his wishing that women would go back to obeying men, the free market allowed consumers to buy any painkillers they felt they needed, and that Negroes were barred from holding office unless they were registered Republicans. That dream is to own an NFL team.

The NFL told Limbaugh to get bent, that he could not be part of an ownership group for the St. Louis Rams. That tends to happen when you go on ESPN and say the only reason a Pro-Bowl-caliber QB is being touted as a Pro-Bowl-caliber QB is because he’s black. The NFL, as most people know, employs a lot of African Americans, and some of those employees expressed some concern with playing for a guy who uses racially-charged code words like he’s the offensive coordinator for the Idaho Crackers (Welfare Queen Community Organizer MLK Commie 68 Left on two!).

To add insult to player injuries, Rush wanted to buy the St. Louis Rams, a team that in recent years looks like it was bussed in from the CFL. It’s bad enough to play for a terrible team that can’t score, but to play for a guy who criticizes black people for thuggery while he’s gobbling pain pills like a country-club Pac Man? Although it would have been awesome to see an injury report that said, “Questionable: RB Steven Jackson (outrage).”

In a normal universe, this would not be news. Sports ownership bids fall apart all the time. But in the conservative universe, this is yet another unforgivable liberal slap in the face, and while Christianity dictates turning the other cheek, this is Rush Limbaugh we’re talking about. That compelled one of the true believers at Red State to write that we are all Rush Limbaugh.

I normally don’t link to that kind of shit, but this is no mere conservative dump. It’s a golden Cleveland Steamer of unintentional comedy. It’s one of the greatest things I’ve ever read on a conservative blog. They even pulled out the “first they came for the communists, and I said nothing…” card. Because poor Rush—who represents the Average White Band Man on the airways—can’t realize the Average White Man dream of owning a piece of a multimillion-dollar sports franchise. Why? Because the NFL ownership is infested by liberals—after all, this is a group that engages in revenue sharing.

My initial reaction was to say, “Wait a minute? As a bunch of free-market teabaggers, wouldn’t you agree that a private business should be able to dictate who can buy into that business?” Then, as I read the comments, scrolling like I was journeying to the bottom of the logic barrel, I saw that conservatives are threatening a boycott of the NFL. One commenter even said he would leave the NFL behind and focus on NASCAR.

I imagined an NFL free of Bush supporters and people who have pre-ordered Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue. And that makes me agree with them. Rush did get robbed, and I don’t know how any conservative, in good conscience, can support the NFL until Rush is allowed to rightfully take his place next to the other multimillionaires. Until that is changed, by all means you should stay away from the NFL and save Sundays for church and watching cars turn left in a circle.

1) “Munich,” Editors. The appeasement thing was recently dragged out of the pundit glue factory to be beaten with the stick of illogic, this time because those damn European surrender monkeys gave Obama a Nobel Peace Prize because they want him to surrender to the jihadists, which he’s totally going to do anyway since he’s just a secret Muslim cipher agent who’s not really an American. But if the second part was true, then he doesn’t need the prize, since he’s just going to surrender, right? In fact, if he really planned to surrender to the jihadists, wouldn’t he want to go ixnay on the surrenderay so as to not give away his true intentions? Wouldn’t he say, “Hey, Norway, your momma. I’m going to bomb these fuckers back to whatever age was before the Stone Age”? Or, maybe by accepting the award, he’s pulling an X-Red J-Double-Cross, where he does exactly what he says he’s going to do, because people won’t believe him? If your brain works like that…you might be a conservative.

2) “Sidewalk,” Built to Spill. A freakin’ great song. I’m not completely sure if this is about leaping to your death—can you wait for the sidewalk waiting for you—but it moves likes it’s falling through the air. Sadly the YouTube clips don't really capture how much this song rocks. It's worth seeking out.

3) “Come Out and Play,” The Offspring. A song that’s gotten increasingly “meh” for me over the years, from an album I tried hard to like because I thought I should like it. I appreciate that they added some different elements to a punk song, like the Eastern-tinged guitars, but like an overly ambitious Project Runway outfit, the pieces don’t really go together.

4) “Godzilla,” Blue Oyster Cult. Write a goofy song about monsters rising out of the Pacific to destroy Japan, however, and you’re my music buddy for life. I really wonder how long it took to write the lyrics. Ten minutes? Fifteen? One commercial break when Godzilla was being shown on some creature feature show? Worth clicking on the video: it's like it was filmed at a nerd/metal/stoner/cheese nexus.

5) “Holla at Me,” 2Pac. Has anyone ever calculated the rap song with the greatest number of n-words in it? This probably has to be a contender. I tried to imagine Limbaugh having a discussion with the Rams players while this was playing.

6) “Your Bruise,” Death Cab for Cutie. This is like anti-2Pac. These two artists are so opposite they could be in a buddy comedy. In fact, they could be in a zombie buddy comedy, about an undead rapper and a geeky indie rock icon who come together to laugh, love, and solve crimes! Note to self: write zombie buddy comedy.

7) “Waving Flags,” British Sea Power. I have come to love their album Do You Like Rock Music, so much that it’s become one of my novel writing soundtracks. I think Jennifer talked about this once, about having certain songs that you create to, and this one has become my go-to album for working on the book. It’s epic, it’s catchy, yet still has some turns that keep it from being too familiar. All it’s missing are the dick jokes.

8) “Ultrasonic Sound,” Hive. I have this because I bought The Matrix soundtrack, and this song has aged about as well as that movie. I really loved the first film, Keanu and all, because it was stylish, it was freaky, and it pretty much didn’t let up once the agents showed up. Sadly, they Lucased this movie by making two abominable sequels, to the point where I can't watch the first flick any more.

9) “Modern Girl,” Sleater-Kinney. In the studio version, I love how, as the singer sings about trying to be happy, even as things are falling apart, the production gets louder and fuzzier, until it clips and distorts at the end.

10) “Shoot to Thrill,” AC/DC. My favorite song from Back in Black. Outside of drunken bar singalongs, I have grown weary of “You Shook Me.” Even the badass title track has gotten a little soft due to overplaying. But this one still gets the blood pumping. The tapping solo is kind of unusual, and I love how it builds back up to the big fat conclusion, with Brian Johnson’s voice loud and high enough to cut diamonds.

11) “Looks that Kill,” Motley Crue. Oh, TLB’s going to hate the end of today’s list, but iTunes knows it’s the end of the Random 11, and the end of the Random 11 means it’s time to rock. I’m not a big Crue fan, but if their songs were as good as this I would be. Is it dumb? You bet. Nikki Sixx couldn’t even be bothered to write new lyrics for the last verse. Is it simplistic? Damn right, the riff and beat hardly budge except for a short solo. It just bludgeons its way into my brain, though, and sometimes a boy just has to rock. Plus the video is so awfully hilarious.

Have a great weekend, and I hope your dreams don't get crushed by a bunch of commie leftists posing as rich conservative sports owners.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Top Ten Tuesdays: Why should we reject our Nobel Prize?

10) Peace sells, but we’re not sure who’s buying, and that goes against our free market principles.

9) Plus, anything given out by Europeans is not worth accepting, except for Western civilization.

8) No real American would accept a Nobel Prize during a time of war. Wait, who did? Kissinger? Son of a bitch.

7) Okay, no real American-born American, like Reagan. Speaking of which, it’s a crime that Ronald Reagan didn’t receive this award for Star Wars, which should have been called Star Peace, what with all the Freedom Lasers shooting down Commie missiles.

6) Besides, accepting the award is exactly what our enemies want…wait, what? The Taliban condemned the award. Hamas too? Wow, this is awkward…uh, socialism!

5) All right, answer this: How in the world are we going to make the world a better place if we start listening to what the world wishes we would do?

4) Besides, if the Nobel committee wanted to give something meaningful to America, how about some IKEA coupons?

3) Plus, we’re trying to look forward, and blindly supporting the American president with unwavering patriotism is so November 3, 2008.

2) Finally, the last thing this country needs is to be tainted with the stench of peace.

1) Honestly, ran out of things to rant about and had three hours of airtime to fill.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Friday Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

The Lovely Becky turned in her second novel this week. She is still making edits and changes, but the truly heavy lifting is over. This means much rejoicing at the worldwide headquarters for TLBrando Enterprises. More time with TLB. More TLB time with Libby. More time, period. Plus this means I get to get back to work on my novel, which has been patiently waiting for my return. My date with literary obscurity and misfortune still awaits!

Seriously, though, I have never been prouder of my wife. She managed to juggle a job, being a mom, and writing a book that, frankly, is going to kick some serious ass. She did it because she works hard and she has more passion for and dedication to the craft than anyone I know.

I realize how lucky I am to be married to her. So much so that, if this book takes off and becomes a huge bestseller, I will fight any attempts to leave me for a younger man tooth and nail. I can feel my dream of being a kept man within reach, and the beauty of that is I don’t have to work hard, I just had to marry well.

Okay, music time…

1) “Kid,” Pretenders. There was a recent outing of a forest-dwelling blogger, showing him in full teenage glory. I decided to reciprocate this week, and the fact that this song popped up first seems to anoint my decision from above.

I think this is from 1985. There I am, holding my youngest brother, Snake Anthony. My hair and formal attire are courtesy of Alex P. Keaton, although I had ditched the tie by the time the photo was taken. Thankfully, no sweater vests or white pants. This could double as the movie poster for The Forty-Minus-Twenty-Five-Year-Old Virgin.

2) “Metropolis - Part 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper,” Dream Theater. OH FACK, WHAT THE FACK IS THIS? Just brutal wanking. It starts out kind of sucky, but at least rocking. Around the halfway point, it transforms into some of the most painfully ridiculous prog noodling I have ever heard. I’d rather hear Rick Wakeman sitting on a Moog while eating a leg of mutton than listen to this again. It’s like a bad Styx song with slightly less Dennis DeYoung and slightly more Tommy Shaw. Who cares if you can play the shit out of your instruments when this is what you wind up with?

3) “Fine and Good,” Local H. The best—and perhaps only—grunge concept album. Seriously underrated and a rather clever set of songs about trying to make it, sorta making it, and then falling apart. I’ll take Pack Up the Cats over any Pearl Jam album.

4) “Everybody’s Friend,” Jane’s Addiction. What’s worse than an incredibly creative band breaking up after making one of the most adventurous and creative albums of the decade? Coming back a decade later and providing clear-cut evidence that they should have stayed broken up. This is why, despite getting rather energized watching some footage of The Police reunion tour, I hope they don’t record again. I can forgive a bad remake of “Don’t Stand So Close to Me,” but not an entire album of that.

I also think it would be fun to rank The Smelliest Tour Buses of All Time. Jane’s Addiction would probably make the top five, although I can't see anyone topping The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

5) “One Hundred Million Years,” M. Ward. If a creationist musician wanted to cover this, would it be blasphemy? Would they have to change the title to “No More Than Ten Thousand Years”?

6) “Down Under,” Men at Work. Victims of the Best New Artist Grammy Curse. Also, I think rock music only has room for one band that features the flute, and Jethro Tull refuses to die. (Ed. note: My apologies to my friend TM. Long live The Tull.)

7) “This River Is Wild,” The Killers. Duran Duran for the Millennial generation. I mean that in both a good and bad way. Pretty ho hum on this tune, but “When You Were Young” blows the dome off my sports arena.

8) “Old Soul Song (For the New World Order),” Bright Eyes. I am pretty sure John Belushi would have smashed Connor Oberst’s guitar. Is folk-emo a recognized subgenre? My friend Bob and I have a joke whenever Bright Eyes come up. They record on the Saddle Creek label that Oberst started, and Bob and I watched a documentary about the label. I don’t think David Cross could have come up with a better parody of a self-important indie documentary. It had singers from bands you never heard of, mumbling in a way that makes Eddie Vedder sound clear and coherent, talking about what it all means to be an indie band on a Nebraska label, man. So whenever Bob and I watch TV together, one of us may ask, "Hey, do you wanna watch the Saddle Creek documentary." Given the choice between watching that again or a Dream Theater concert, I’d take option c: Death by Unga Bunga.

9) “Last Dance,” Mekons. A last dance involving zombies, perhaps? I have to give a shout-out to my undead blog buddy for suggesting the Mekons. This is from Fear and Whiskey, which resembles a British Pogues: more disciplined, less sloppy, but still very charming and folk-punky.

10) “Kissing the Lipless,” The Shins. They came out firing on the first track of their second album: a sharp guitar riff, pounding (for them) beat, and vocals that waver between simmering and howling. Good stuff. However, the drummer's t-shirt in this video is way too tight. I can't tell if it's irony tight, I-don't-give-a-shit tight, or deluded-about-his-body-image tight.

11) “Foreplay/Long Time,” Boston. Like millions of other teenagers, I had their debut and loved it. One of those rare albums where a classic rock radio station could play any song and it would be both recognized and enjoyed by your average classic rock radio listener.

Over the years, though, it’s grown stale for me, as have quite a few classic rock standards of my youth. I don’t think it’s a case of wanting to be a music snob: there’s a lot of fast food music I proudly digest. I think it’s more a case of overexposure. There are only so many songs you can hear a million times before you get sick of them, and “More Than a Feeling” et al fell squarely into that camp for me. All save “Foreplay/Long Time.”

I realized how much I loved this song when it appeared in Rock Band. The space opening giving way to the power-chord surfing intro. The mello verses punctuated by a fat guitar that’s overdubbed to the heavens. The catchy clapping in the chorus. The string-bending solo. And then the rocking version of the chorus going into more string bending. Songs like this are why I take the ridiculous step of strapping on a plastic toy guitar and pretending I grew up in an alternate universe where I had musical talent and played guitar of drums in three dozen classic bands.

Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Top Ten Tuesdays: Who are we calling a Nazi?

10) Guy at Subway who only gave us regular amount of olives when we clearly asked for extra olives.

9) Ex-boyfriend who never performed cunnilingus.

8) Ex-girlfriend who never performed fellatio.

7) Dude who took the last bit of crab dip.

6) Bartender who put the shamrock shape on friend’s pint of Guinness but not ours.

5) Store manager who’s all Gestapo about “no shirt, no shoes, no service.”

4) Parents, for revoking driving privileges after they found that rubber in the back seat.

3) Most of the people in the comments section.

2) Old neighbor who talks with a German accent but says he’s from Argentina.

1) Anyone who wants to take the monstrous, unconscionable, homicidal step of allowing poor people to get medical attention without going broke.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Friday Random 11

It’s one more random than 11!

There is very little subtlety in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It seems like it’s always the best of something or the worst of something. The best summer weather ever. The worst winter ever. The most beautiful place I’ve ever lived. The most cold I have ever been. The best view I’ve ever had from my window, the worst Chinese food I’ve ever eaten. You get the idea.

We went through the coldest summer I’ve ever experienced this summer, and that was after a winter that didn’t end until late April, a winter that dumped 200 inches of snow on us. It’s bad when you think being in the belly of a whale wouldn’t be so bad, because at least it can’t snow inside of a whale.

The Summer of no Summer started with a June 1 where the high didn’t cross 50, and it climaxed in late August when my friend Tom visited. The morning when I had to take him back to the airport, it was 45 at my house and 40, four-fucking-oh, by the airport. In late August. I wondered if perhaps I had woken up in the middle of Ice Road Truckers.

Then, boom, it suddenly turned into the Greatest September Weather of All Time. This place was a Weather Channel paradise for about four weeks. Mid-70s, sunny, beautiful, perfect for taking Libby down for walks by Lake Superior. I knew it wouldn’t last, but it kept going and going, and we tried getting outside every chance we could.

In standard UP fashion, that gorgeous weather couldn’t slowly change, like bathwater gradually getting colder. No, instead we went from a 70-degree sunny day to a 45-degree rainy day with winds that gusted to 50 mph, the kind of winds that make you think twice about driving because you can feel them pushing the side of the car, like a crowd that wants to celebrate a sports championship by flipping your car over and lighting it on fire. It got a little better after a couple days of pure crap weather, but still, I can see the yellow writing in the snow.

The moral of the story: Always be careful when you move to a place that reminded Scandinavian settlers of home.

1) “Disconnect the Dots,” Smash Mouth. Which 90s musical sub-fad seems more out of date: ska punk or neo-swing? I don’t have any Big Bad Voodoo Daddy or else I could stage a lame-off.

2) “Givin’ Up,” The Darkness. A group that makes Jet seem like Rhodes scholars. The fact that I bought and enjoyed this slab of refried cock-rock is a testament to just how easy I am musically. Turn your guitars up to 11 and rip off AC/DC and I’ll probably let you slip your CD into my player for a night or two. Almost as bad as me buying Lita Ford’s greatest hits. Almost.

3) “Victoria,” The Kinks. That’s better, I thought maybe I was caught in a Sucklone. They sound like they’re playing in a pub, cranking it up to be heard over the yelping drunks.

4) “Let It Ride,” Dinosaur Jr. I have been spoiled by their new albums. Not only are they two of the most solid comeback albums I’ve ever heard from a band that reformed after their heyday, but the loudness of the recordings really captures the in-your-face sound these guys have always had. The older stuff like this still kicks butt and has that charming lo-fi garage sound. I just wish it felt like I was in that garage, waiting for the cops to come shut down the show, instead of feeling like I’m listening to a copy of a copy of a copy of the original tape.

5) “I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight,” U2. The title has the unfortunate pleasure of reminding me of Homer Simpson channeling The Shinning. The album No Line on the Horizon has the unfortunate distinction of marking the first time I’ve been disappointed in consecutive U2 albums.

I am a big U2 fan. They put on two of the best concerts I’ve ever seen, I have every album except Pop, and I’m one of those annoying people who will try to convince you that Zooropa was really underrated. After the poop of Pop, I thought that All That You Can’t Leave Behind was one of the greatest returns to form since the phrase “return to form” became a rock critic cliché. But when How to Dismantle a Career Resurgence came out, I realized my excitement had been artificially pumped up by the “Vertigo” iPod commercial, and that while that song was just perfect for that commercial, it tended to wear out its welcome with repeat playing and without the flashy dancing iPod people.

I held out hope for the new album, but aside from a couple good songs, it just didn’t do it for me. It's not bad, just boring. That makes me sad, because I still think the world needs good bands that are huge. I’m happy that, thanks to the many Intertubes, it’s so easy to find good music from bands I never would have heard of. However, there’s something to be said for that good music that everyone’s heard of, that shared moment you have with someone when a classic song comes on and you both take it in. I’d like for those to keep coming out, not being relegated to classic rock radio, and U2 was one of those bands that still seemed like they could carry that torch. Now I’m not so sure.

6) “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.,” Sufjan Stevens. This is about as chilling as a song has ever gotten for me. There’s a point in the song where the bodies are discovered, and Stevens lets out a falsetto Oh my God that freezes me every time. For all the terrible serial killers that have been apprehended in my lifetime—and there have been a lot—I find Gacy the most frightening, because he was able to blend into society for so long and practically kill in plain sight. And he was a real-life evil clown.

7) “Trampled Under Foot,” Led Zeppelin. I have never liked this song and never understood how it became a classic rock staple. I find the beat monotonous in a bad way—not in the good way of “When the Levee Breaks.” Plant’s voice grates on my ears, and guitar and keyboard interplay has always sounded muddy and too cacophonic. When Plant says over and over, I can’t stop talking about love, I really, really wish he could.

8) “Gatekeeper,” Feist. Ah, this is getting the led out of my ears. She has one of those voices where it doesn’t matter what she’s singing about.

9) “Black Star,” Radiohead. I appreciate Radiohead. I know they can seem pretentious and humorless, but I appreciate that they take chances and try to mix it up. Having said that, I don’t always enjoy Radiohead. I often listen to a new album for a while, think, “That was good,” and move on. Except The Bends. I never travel far without a little “Black Star” and the other 11 stellar songs.

10) “Combat Rock,” Sleater-Kinney. The best combat rock since the days of Combat Rock. As much as we try to manage anger, it can be such a catalyst to creativity. This blog is a testament to that. I started it mostly to keep my head from exploding with the constant cognitive dissonance of destroying freedom in order to save it. Admittedly, when Obama won in November, I lost some of my mojo, because I was actually happy and hopeful, which does not lend itself to satire. That honeymoon is over, and between the increasing fucktardedness of the right, the frustrating spinelessness of the Democratic leadership, and Obama’s reluctance to seize the moment the way FDR did in 1933, I’m back to a nice, simmering burn.

11) “S.O.S.,” ABBA. I’m not going to fight it. The cold hand of winter is getting ready to give me a five-month reacharound (which wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the frostbite). So why not warm up my winter wonderland a little by dancing with some Swedes?

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Walk It Off

Senator Orrin Hatch walks onto an empty football field.

All across America, people are asking questions.

Brett Favre appears next to Hatch.

Will freedom make a comeback, or will it finally be forced to retire…permanently?

On a golf course, Senator Mitch McConnell, wearing American flag-patterned golf knickers, tees off.

Do we want to stay on the fairway and choose our own approach to good health?

His ball flies and lands in the sand next to golfer Jack Nicklaus.

Or do we want the government to leave us to die in the rough?

Senator Chares Grassley stands on an empty baseball diamond built in the middle of a cornfield.

The Democrats say that if we build a universal health care system, good things will come.

Roger Clemens comes out of the corn to stand beside Grassley.

But I know a big, fat lie when I see one.

In front of an oil rig in the middle of a forest, Sarah Palin, dressed in hunting gear, holds an eagle on her arm.

Because when it comes to your health, those bureaucrats in Washington want to clip your wings…

Ted Nugent appears next to her, wearing a camoflauge shirt that says, “MILF Hunter.”

And take a big ol’ bite out of the jerky of freedom. (He bites off a mouthful of jerky.)

Senator Jon Kyl stands in a hospital room next to a man with his leg in a cast.

But you have a choice, a way to feel better, even if you don’t have any health coverage at all.

Coach Mike Ditka appears on the other side of the bed.

DITKA (points at the camera)
Walk it off.

Ditka gets the man out of bed.

Thanks, Coach! (He takes a step and collapses.)

At the scene of a car accident, the injured sit on the ground, bleeding and in pain. Patriotic music begins to play as a man starts singing a soulful song.

Hey America, don’t sit there
And wait around for universal health care
You can be like athletes big and small
Just hold onto something so you don’t fall
And walk it off

The accident victims smile and help each other walk away.

In a park, grandparents using walkers stand in line with their grandchildren, who are on crutches, waiting to get into an emergency room.

Don’t put grandma and gramps on death row
Because tax revenues no longer grow
And free your kids from this prison
Of cheap, affordable socialism
Walk it off

The grandparents and kids stand up straight and throw the walkers and crutches aside, gaily running from the hospital line.

Close–up of a man’s face as he salutes the flag. The camera begins to pull back as the song plays.

Take one step forward and ten steps back
Say “hands off my health, Barack.
“I can stand proud on my own two legs
“And if I can’t, I’ll replace them with pegs.”
Walk it off

At the end, we see him standing on a pair of wooden peg legs, wearing a pirate hat and having a parrot perched on his shoulder.

Senator John McCain appears in front of a waving flag. The music still plays as he speaks.

My uninsured friends, you don’t know how lucky you are. Those of us with health coverage live in an oppresive world of rules and regulations: staying with doctors in our networks, making co-pays every time we go for a checkup, and even filling out paperwork. Now the government wants to make you go through that ordeal.

Pitcher Curt Schilling, carrying a stapler, hobbles into the frame to join McCain.

Why put yourselves through that, America, when you can take control of your health care and…

He crouches down and pulls up his pants leg, revealing a blood-soaked sock. He pounds three staples into the sock.

SCHILLING (wincing with each staple)
Walk. It. Off.

A city street fills with sick people: coughing, sneezing, in casts, in wheelchairs, pushing IV drips, clutching their chests in pain.

Walk it off
Walk it off
Wait it off, off, off
Oh, Lord, Walk it off

With each line, they get better and begin marching in unison, and shout "Walk it off" after each symptom and disease.

Sprains and scrapes
Walk it off!
Breaks and bruises
Walk it off!
Diabetes and heart disease
Walk it off!
Cancer and lupus
Walk it off!

A big group of athletes, wearing their uniforms, stand side-by-side with Republican leaders as the singer stops but the music still plays.

You may not have health insurance

But you’ve got our reassurance

That we’ll protect your right

To just walk it off.

The music fades as an announcer speaks…

Paid for by Americans Standing Strong for Healthy Optimism and Leaving Everything the Same.