Wednesday, April 30, 2008

They Say...

...that Kids in the Hall will be performing in Nashville on May 25. We're trying to get a trip organized to go.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Ice Cream Review: Ben & Jerry's ONE Cheesecake Brownie

I'm going to keep this short and sweet (pun intended). Ben & Jerry's new ONE Cheesecake Brownie might be the best friggin' ice cream flavor I have ever shoved into my gaping, ice cream-loving maw. My metabolism can no longer tolerate eating an entire pint of ice cream in one sitting, but dang--I would if I could. Verdict: Like eating delicious cheesecake with a brownie crust know...cold.


For Clyde Squid:

Scientists are thawing a behemoth of a squid (34 feet long) and getting ready to dissect it.

I'd probably crap my pants if I saw a giant squid, much less a colossal one.

Edit 04.30.08- Apparently they have huge eyeballs as wells, like 10 inches across.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Mr. Bungle: Pink Cigarette

I've been a fan of Mike Patton since high school (Faith No More's Angel Dust ranks in my top 10 albums of my youth), and I DON'T recommend Mr. Bungle unless you like real crazy. Not acceptable crazy...crazy crazy.

I do love this video.

PS: If anyone can find a hard copy of the Angel Dust CD, I'll pay you whatever it takes to buy it plus 50%.

A Comic to Make You Feel Illiterate

The stereotype is that if you read comics, you're essentially illiterate. Anyone who actually believes that has never read an Alan Moore comic. Or specifically, any of his League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comics. If the title makes you think of the shite movie that came out several years ago, don't be scared away. The movie was crap and Moore had nothing to do with it. The general plot is the same--a group of characters ripped from late 19th works of fiction (Mr. Hyde, the Invisible Man, Allan Quartermain, the woman from Dracula, and Captain Nemo) are assembled as a super-duper spy team by the British government. They go on many adventures. The stories are clever, violent, sexy--everything you could want from a good comic. But the stories are secondary to the real reason for the comic's popularity.

You read TLOEG for the references. The lead characters are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of literary references. Every secondary or tertiary character, ever locale, practically every picture or object drawn into the background, is a literary reference, usually matching pretty closely in time to when a particular story takes place. I consider myself a relatively well-read person, yet compared to Alan Moore, I'm an idiot. I reckon I get about 20-40% of the references. At times it's frustrating, but usually I'm intrigued by how much he's able to squeeze into every panel. This dude's like the James Joyce of comic writing.

I just finished the latest installment, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier. There have been two trade paperbacks collecting previous comics in the series, but this addition was different in that it was published all at once and really is assembled as a dossier of The League itself. I'm embarrassed to say how long it took me to read, but in my defense, this wasn't just a comic. There's a lot of prose and even a short play in there, too. I would certainly say it was not as fun as the TPBs, largely because there's not much of a story here. It's essentially a book of exposition, describing the exploits of the League we're familiar with from the previous comics, as well as earlier incarnations of the League from other time periods. I basically had to read the comic with Wikipedia open next to me, because the percentage of references I understood plummeted (though there's lots of James Bond references in this one, since it takes place in the 20th century). All in all, it was a challenging but satisfying read, and the epilogue was actually pretty profound. And also just pretty. Artist Kevin O'Neill is quite impressive throughout the whole series, and the last dozen pages or so of BD are in 3-D. The glasses are kindly provided.

I highly recommend the first two TBPs for any literary, comic-reading types. I'd only recommend Black Dossier for established fans. And for the record, everything I've read by Alan Moore has been good (Watchmen, V for Vendetta). Verdict: Like listening to a punk rock album and realizing it's more cerebral than Bach.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Arcade Fire/Superchunk in Carrboro

So it turns out that I'm gonna be in NC in early May, and I hear that AF/Superchunk are going to play at an Obama rally in Carrboro while I'm there. Naturally, I look into said event, but cannot find out specific details. So I put a post up on InsideCarolina asking if anyone has more info. The video below is someone's response. Amusing.

Bring it strong or don't bring it at all...

Jay Retard (Reatard, but you know everyone thinks that) is playing at a local venue in Nashville at the end of the month. Better pack the brass knuckles if I go. Damn, this video of his show at the Silver Dollar... he knocked that punk out. Damn.

It's worth the few minutes of your life to watch this.

Rites of Thundering

This is sort of an odd post for this blog, but it definitely fits the description of artistic/cultural. My friend Carmen, who lives in Seattle, sent me the link to this video recently because she's one of the participants (the video was made at a Japan in American concert in Seattle). She's banging the middle drum on the right and sits down at the 5:24 mark after her solo. She's a doctor in real life--I had no idea she also did this kind of thing.

Anyway, I'd never seen anything like this, and I thought it was cool. Carmen says her arms are still sore, and this demonstration was weeks ago. I got tired just watching it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Turning the Dial: Cut, Copy, and Paste

Some music of the moment for me:

Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours. I'd call it a playful summer pop record, with synthesizer/electronic house undertones mixed in with a DJ remixes, vocal distortion-type feel. It reminds me of all those 80's bands I still love to listen to. I almost feel guilty because I'm into it so much. Whatever, Pitchfork gave it a 8.8, if you care. Recommended tunes: "Unforgettable Season," "Heart on Fire," and "Feel the Love."

Eagle Seagull - I Hate EPs. No PF review, but they've been getting the love from the blogosphere (see KEXP or You Ain't No Picasso). Saw them open up for Tokyo Police Club last week, and honestly, I think they were the better band (surprising for me since I usually never like music the first time I hear them, especially live, but I'm so-so on TPC). No new full length album out yet, but I've been into their new EP. They get style points for lengthy song titles. Recommended tunes: "I Don't Know If People Have Hated Me, But I Have Hated People," "Your Beauty Is a Knife I Turn On My Throat," and "I'm Sorry But I'm Beginning To Hate Your Face," and "You're The Reason Why I'm Afraid To Die."

Monday, April 14, 2008

Nerd Rant Jr.: The Office

This is only a nerd rant junior because I still like The Office, but I think it has some issues. I finished watching the third season this past weekend, so like most TV posts I do, I'm a good year behind. Obviously, that won't keep me from writing about it in a whiny, fanboy manner.

I'm firmly in the "the British version was better" camp, but I don't even know if it's fair to compare them anymore. So I won't. I'll just list my gripes with this third season:

  • The extended episodes were kind of lame. I realize NBC wants and/or needs to squeeze every possible advertising dollar out of this show, but even on DVD without commercials, the extended episodes felt overly long.
  • I've never really worked in an office, but seriously, who wants to date someone with whom they work? Nearly every major character as well as several secondary characters are dating a co-worker on this show. Lame. The show stopped being even remotely realistic a while ago, but since it's still filmed in this vaguely documentary style, you'd think someone would pipe up about how incestuous it is at the Dunder Mifflin Scranton office.
    • Also (and this is gonna get really nerdy here), the whole Jim/Pam thing kind of reminds me of the Kevin/Winnie thing from The Wonder Years. Kevin Arnold passed up some fine women over the years due to his crush on Winnie. I think they made Karen almost too likable on The Office, 'cuz I was rooting for her the whole time. The last episode of season 3 made me not like either Pam or Jim as much.
  • The shark was jumped, as far I'm concerned, in the episode in which Michael wants to show the warehouse guys that working in the office is dangerous, so he threatens to jump off the roof onto a bouncy castle. That was probably my least favorite episode of the whole series, because suddenly Michael Scott became Homer Simpson-stupid. Bleh.
Otherwise, I still think it's a funny show, though I can't say it's currently the funniest show on TV since I have no basis of comparison outside of Adult Swim. I might give 30 Rock a try, but for the most part I'm not too pumped about TV comedies. My real life is hilarious enough.

Maybe current watchers can assure me that the fourth season is still funny, without giving away much of what happens in terms of the ongoing story arcs. Just wondering.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Check'em Out: Studio 360 and Thao Nguyen

Does anyone else out there listen to NPR's Studio 360? If not, I highly recommend that you check it out, via podcast or whatever means you can find (I suppose you could even use the radio). It's essentially a radio version of what this blog aspires to be, with stories about literature, pop culture, and the arts. And by "the arts", I mean every aspect of the arts, including music, film, design, architecture--virtually anything that involves creativity. The host, Kurt Andersen, is usually an excellent interviewer--better than Terry Gross, in any case--and is neither fawning nor overly contentious with any of his guests.

Over the past year or so, they've devoted entire episodes to their "American icons" series, which focus on such diverse icons as the film "The Wizard of Oz", F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, and recently, the Lincoln Memorial. The producers of the show do an excellent job of demonstrating how these "icons" have contributed to the American cultural landscape over the years. The show also has a recurring feature about science and creativity, often talking to a scientist or engineer who was influenced by a particular work of art. So many people fail to see the connection between the world of science and the world of art, when really they're very closely intertwined. I could write oodles on that topic, but in the interest of brevity I'll just say that I appreciate it when anyone, Studio 360 or otherwise, is willing to highlight the interdependence of science and art.

I'm writing about Studio 360 because it's one of many places I go to find new stuff to like, in case anyone is the least bit interested in how I "discover" new bands, movies, or whatever. The program has introduced me to a slew of authors, film makers, musicians...even new comics. One musician in particular that I recently discovered through Studio 360 is Thao Nguyen and her band, The Get Down Stay Down. Listening to the segment I heard is a much better introduction to the woman and her music than anything I could write here, so check it out below:

I liked their latest album, We Brave Bee Stings and All, instantly. Lots of great hooks, a simple but engaging musical style--I'm not saying everyone will love it, but I'd be surprised if anyone could actively dislike it. The video below will give you just a taste. More songs and video on her MySpace page.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

My New Favorite Band Ever Of Today For This Month For Now

Black Tie rock-n-roll.

Not to be confused with the awesome Jesus and Mary Chain-esque Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.

Pegged My Geek-O-Meter

I saw this bumper sticker on my way out this morning and tried to take a picture of it.

It reads: gorram = frell x frack^2. Only in a NASA engineering town...

I want one.

Someone Else Missed Something: The Nobility

Why hasn't Evelyn Is Not Real told us about The Nobility (formerly called Jetpack, apparently)? Hailing from Nashville, I just got their 2007 album The Mezzanine, and I want to put this CD on repeat all day. They're a bit Beatles-y, Kinks-y, and maybe a tad Elvis Costello-y, but it's an incredibly fun listen whoever you think their influences are. I wouldn't say every track is great, but 80% of them are, particularly the title track, "Halleluiah Chorus", and "Skeleton Key." I highly encourage you to give them a listen at their MySpace page.

Maybe EINR has heard of these guys and just didn't deem them worthy of mention. Too bad...I think they sound cool, and by cool, I mean totally sweet.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Finally, An Album Written For Me

old-school R.E.M. idioms + new-school hip punk (ex, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Kills, The Liars, etc) + awesome rock-n-roll "Frank Black" rowdy guitar + angry homo lyrics = too close to home
I wept, I rocked, I did both again...sometimes at the same time

Finally, an album too me for me.

Cross-posted. And see R.E.M. holding their own against Stephen Colbert here.

Friday, April 4, 2008

You Woke Up The Baby

I will watch this movie. I will watch this movie as hard as I can. Even if you're not familiar with the comic (though you should be, cuz it's awesome), and even if you're not familiar with the director, Guillermo del Toro (and you should be, because he directed the excellent Pan's Labyrinth as well as several other cool movies), this trailer should get any fan boy (or girl) at least a bit excited. Behold, the full trailer for Hellboy II:

Sorry I couldn't imbed it, but I suggest watching the unimbeddable hi-def Quicktime version anyway.

It's On Like Donkey Kong.

BSG Season Four, tonight. Got some high abv Weyerbacher courtesy of Sir Widget? Check. Rewatch Season Three? Check. OK, I'm ready for tonight. Quick read via the NYT on our space opera.

On another note has anyone seen King of Kong or watched Weeds? I would highly recommend both.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A Message from Beyond

I realize the general "rules" of this blog have discouraged posting internet stuff, but I'm going to make an exception here. As someone who is immersed in the world of Dr. Seuss on an almost nightly basis, I'm constantly reminded that the dude was just awesome. I'm not saying his every book was a masterpiece of children's literature, but I genuinely enjoy reading "Green Eggs & Ham" several times a week.

And I've been sincerely dismayed that his books have been turned into crap-ass movies. Not that I've watched any of them (nor will I, ever), but one simply can't turn a children's book composed of silly rhymes into a decent film. I honestly believe it's impossible. Apparently, the brilliant folks at The Onion think so, too:

Stop Making Movies About My Books

The Onion

Stop Making Movies About My Books

On the fourteenth of March, in towns nationwide, In every cinema, multiplex, on every barnside, Gleamed another adapting of...