Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

It was nice to see someone win Project Runway who was a) a cool designer and b) a cool person. For once one of the good guys was also the most talented contestant. I hate when I know the asshole is going to win because the asshole is the best one at turning twigs and newspaper into an amazing red-carpet gown.

I love Project Runway because no other show captures the essence of the creative process the way it does. You see these people taking random bits of nothing—trash bags, candy, Lindsay Lohan—and turning them into something. It also shows both sides of that something: the exhilaration of seeing those trash bags turn into a cool pair of pants, the agony of seeing those trash bags look worse after the designer gets hold of them. There’s a wise old teacher who both instructs and critiques, and then a panel of critics who act like real critics, not cartoon character versions of critics. They offer praise and criticism and while they can be harsh, they always have a reason for their harshness. You could swap in anything for the outfits and judges—say a short story and NY Times critic Michiko Kakutani stomping on the literary aspirations of one of the contestants—and the essence of the process would remain the same. However, no one wants to watch a bunch of writers sobbing as they have their work vivisected, except maybe other writers. Project Runway works best because the fashion is a perfect visual symbol of that creative process. I can't taste what they make on Top Chef, but I can tell if a dress with a poofy bottom makes an otherwise thin model look like an ancient fertility goddess idol. And don't get me started on the shoddy tailoring!

The other fun aspect for me is seeing the older male contestants attempting to look hip. As I approach the age of mumble mumble, I sometimes am hit by questions as: Should I dye my hair? Can I wear jeans with a print pattern? Would I be a hit with the kids if I had a faux hawk? And should I wear one of those scarves that every single one of the gay designers wore this year? Seeing how ridiculous those items look on other people has saved me from some very bad fashion decisions.

Music time….

1) “Smoking in the Boy’s Room,” Motley Crue. A deliberate choice because I’m having one of those days today with my day job. I admit I’m lucky to have the job I do, and I’ve gotten much better of realizing that I am fortunate to have steady employment at a company I like. This morning, though, I had one of those moments where I wondered why in the fuck I ever decided to do what I do for a living. That’s when it’s time to meet the boys on floor number 2 and have a few minutes of dumb fun until I can cope again. No official video on YouTube, but bonus of crazy Russians rocking out. They should make a reality show about that.

2) “Holland,” Sufjan Stevens. And now for something completely different….

3) “Happy Jack,” The Who. Classic Who: poppy, dark, and explosive when it needs to be. I love how the simple, soft verses lull me until the band floors it on the chorus. A lot of those early Who songs are pretty wicked little tales: this, "I'm a Boy," "Pictures of Lilly." It's almost as if Townshend wanted to compensate for his bright, poppy music by creating these deranged little narratives. I love it.

4) “Disintegration,” The Cure. My favorite song from my favorite Cure album. The quiet to loud epic thing has been done a lot, but I’ve always admired how this song starts loud and then keeps layering more and more onto the main beat, like a strained relationship that gets pushed past the breaking point. Possibly the most miserably entertaining song in my collection.

5) “The Comeback,” Shout Out Louds. American slacker rock played very convincingly by Scandinavians. It’s funny: for all of the poking at Europeans, how they have welfare and six weeks of vacation, I don’t think of Euros as slackers. That seems like a specific American thing, because even the unemployed, chain-smoking European still seems like he’s doing something, like sitting in a café, sipping espresso while spewing contempt for the bourgeois businessman waiting for his packages (let him wait). As opposed to a true American slacker, stoned on the couch on a Tuesday afternoon, lacking even the willpower to turn the Wii on, let alone play it. Side note: I remember wayyyyy too many commercials.

6) “Flight of Icarus,” Iron Maiden. I miss songs about Greek mythology. Those always rocked. What didn’t rock was the 40-story steaming Kraken turd known as Clash of the Titans. I am not really a movie snob, and in fact the movies I tend to see in the theater are big, dumb, loud pop fests: essentially "Smoking in the Boys Room" on film. But if they made a reality show about the re-making of the Clash of the Titans, all the challenges would have to be set in the stalls of a men’s room. It’s pretty terrible when every acting performance in this movie pales in comparison to the Cyclops from The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad. At least the Cyclops seems to understand his motivation.

7) “Led Zeppelin Medley,” Dream Theater. Speaking of utter shit. Holy fuck, these guys are terrible. Dream Theater is musical p0rn: relentless, mechanical jackhammering, with no soul, no feeling, no heart. It’s even more apparent when they suck all the life out of three classic Zeppelin songs. They are to classic rock what Blues Hammer is to blues.

8) “Miles to Memphis,” Chris Knight. Here’s a voice that’s lived-in, like a pair of old work boots or a Ford pickup with 350,000 miles on it that runs rough but still runs. I don’t really mind that bad music gets popular, but it makes me sad when stuff like this flies under the radar while Kenny Chesney is sweating in 3D at a theater near you. No YT clip but here's one from the same album.

9) “Let There Be Rock,” Drive-By Truckers. Yee-fuckin’-haw! They may not be the best band of the last decade, but damn if they aren’t the most consistently good band of the last ten years. This is a great ode to rock-concert-going, getting in the car with your friends and a case of illicit beer and rocking til your ear drums bleed. Glad to see that they are having some of the success they deserve.

10) “Start a War,” The National. Anthem? (h/t to fish). I love America, I really do, but I can’t believe how bent out of shape people get when pointing out that this country fights a lot, and usually for some very questionable causes: kicking Indians off their lands, stealing half of Mexico from Spain, stealing the Philippines from Spain (seriously, fuck you, Spain!), keeping Vietnam from oppressive communist dictators so it could be ruled by oppressive capitalist dictators. We’ve even tried to invade Canada (and failed…twice!). Now we have politicians in the south who want to honor Confederate soldiers who fought to uphold slavery, and then get offended when you say that’s what they were fighting for. “It was state’s rights!” they argue. Yeah, a state’s right…to keep black people in slavery. Well, this song is the opposite of all that.

11) “Roll With the Changes,” REO Speedwagon. I’m not sure who I might take more flack for sticking up for, REO or Rush, but this is a great song. Great. Not good, not okay, not decent, but great. It gives me what I want from classic rock: great melody, hot playing, a ton of energy, and a sound big enough to crack the dome of the arena where this is being performed. And it’s got soul. Not soul in the R&B sense, despite the attempt to inject a little with the backup singers and the Hammond organ. It’s got soul because all this song wants to do is rock me for five-and-a-half minutes, and on that front it succeeds spectacularly. When the big rock finish kicks in at the end, damn if I don’t feel rocked. So, to sum up, great. And for you h8ers, check out the hilarious increasing close-up that starts around the 1:15 mark.

Have a great weekend.

9 comments:

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

4) “Disintegration,” The Cure.

YES.

it may not KICK FUCKIN ASS like ding[1], but you hit the nail on this gothy head.

I still hope to catch them on a reunion tour sometime.

I miss songs about Greek mythology.

The new Mountain Goats is all titled for Bible verses. Will that work?

Speaking of utter shit. Holy fuck, these guys are terrible. Dream Theater is musical p0rn: relentless, mechanical jackhammering, with no soul, no feeling, no heart.

Ok, you crystallized my feeling about them. EVEN when they are pushing their religious aspects into the music, which they clearly believe, it's like metal-proselytization-by-the-numbers. It's worse than Stryper, FFS.

I'll probably still keep Six Degrees Of Separation on my iPod, because that has some moments, but the rest? ONE STAR.

Yee-fuckin’-haw! They may not be the best band of the last decade, but damn if they aren’t the most consistently good band of the last ten years.

I have never been a huge fan of southern rock, or as I learned to call it in a white bread cow town land grant college atmosphere where every second song seemed to be either Skynyrd, Molly Hatchett or 38 Special "barf n Boogie", but seeing them at Summerfest changed my mind. Patterson Hood's background in punk music made him tougher and less willing to tolerate unnecessary crap in the song, and that man can write.

11) “Roll With the Changes,” REO Speedwagon.

Oh, dude.

OK, Gary Richrath is a guitar god on a Les Paul, but really, I want to see the Rush haters come out and love this song after decrying Rush for excess and high-pitched vocals and guitar wankery. I've never seen "Oreo Chunkwagon" and never will, unless you get me WAY drunk, but I am also sure they rock the lame drum solo.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

I wondered why in the fuck I ever decided to do what I do for a living.

FFS, is there something in the Internet? It seems to be going around this week.

Maybe you and me and Von and MenD should start a band.

Von said...

Great great great list
The Cure and REO Speedwagon.
I think our diverse iPods have much in common....

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I wondered why in the fuck I ever decided to do what I do for a living.

FFS, is there something in the Internet? It seems to be going around this week.

Maybe you and me and Von and MenD should start a band.


Hey! I might have no musick talents, but I'm totally down with the "why in the fuck I ever decided to do what I do for a living?" thinghie.

Maybe with extensive tutoring I could learn to play cowbell?
~

almostinfamous said...

I wondered why in the fuck I ever decided to do what I do for a living.

i do the classic george carlin thing turnabout thing here: i wonder why the fuck the people i am sweating my ass off for are doing what they do for a living. still makes me feel like shit though.

I could totally be the band's media manager.

Another Kiwi said...

Roadeye here!

Brando said...

I would never classify REO as a great band. They were an above-average Midwestern bar band with area rock hopes and enough talent to write a few decent songs. I have my fast-food fun with "Don't Let Him Go" and "Take It on the Run," but I have always enjoyed "Roll With the Changes" in a sincere, non-ironic fashion.

Disintegration would make my top 10 albums of the 80s and is probably one of my desert island discs, depending on if I want to be even more depressed than being stranded on an island.

I could totally be the band's media manager.

I could see the argument now. "There's no drugs and sex for aif. Do you know what I do? I post tweets. I delete Facebook spam. I reply to comments on your bloody blog!"

fish said...

I believe this might be relevant to Brando's and ZRM's interests.

Churlita said...

I missed the final episode of Project Runway to go to the Colm Toibin reading. I wondered why there weren't many people at Van Halen Hall. Who won, by the by?