Thursday, July 28, 2005


Oh, hilarious, Arye. Good one! The Bee Gees! Ha, ha. The irony! The sweet, sweet irony!

Well...umm...I'm actually serious. Listening to the Bee Gees, throughout their career (even the disco era), brings an unprecedented smile to my soul's face. There's no sound as heartwarming as the angelic, quivering harmonies of the brothers Gibb. In fact, the other night, while I was in a non-descript dive bar on the Lower East Side, I boldly picked two Bee Gees songs from the jukebox, "Night Fever" and "How Deep Is Your Love" (the latter being one of my favorite songs of all time). Walking back to my table, I expected a sneer or two but instead was met with approval in the form of feet tapping. The bartender even thanked me. "Man, we were watching this Motley Crue special on VH1," she said in her masculine tone, "but I'm glad it was interrupted by the Bee Gees. Thanks for putting this on."
Just doing my job, I said back.
I expected a free drink but didn't get one. Oh, well.

Unfortunately, most of the uninformed associate the Bee Gees with the white vinyl jumpsuits of Saturday Night Fever but in reality, Barry, Robin and Maurice were supremely tight songwriters. A reputable critic once said that the Bee Gees' "melodies are catchy, the hooks are deathless, and the vocals convey emotion over meaning." In other words, it may be weightless but it's polished.

But before the Bee Gees were staying alive, they were pop masters creating orchestrated chamber pop akin to the Zombies and the Left Banke. The early material begs for inclusion on a Wes Anderson soundtrack--"Holiday" with its earnest vocals and xylophone drops carries the perfect somber potency for a reconciliation scene. "I Started A Joke" is such a wonderful and graceful ballad complete with the uncanny, bittersweet lyrical content ("I finally died/which got the whole world living...the joke was on me") and the earliest single "New York Mining Disaster 1941" could even be a Kinks outtake. The Bee Gees first phase was definitively rife with classics and there was nary a falsetto to be found.

And then the re-invention; Let me just say that there's nothing horrific at all about three white boys singing like castration victims. It totally works. Moreover, consider this: the Bee Gees are more badass than you or anyone you know. I found out just recently while discussing the band with a friend that Barry and Robin were criminals and delinquents as children, torching buildings and stealing cars. Oh, and they were 8 and 11 respectively. The Gibb brothers caused such trouble that they were asked to leave Manchester and move to Australia in order to avoid a prison sentence. If that doesn't allow them to sing as high as they want, I don't know what will. I'm pretty sure that their whole catalogue takes on a unprecedented heft now that you know the Bee Gees were just as thug as 50 Cent. Listen to the joy of "Nights On Broadway" with its funky goodness, process "More Than a Woman" into the part of your brain that appreciates mirror balls and flashing strobe lights. There's nothing guilty about it--it's all pleasure, baby. By denying yourself of the enjoyment of the Bee Gees' second phase, your life-light is essentially fasting, denying itself of nourishment.

Now here we are: the final and current phase of the Bee Gees. Besides the awful, untimely passing of their younger brother Andy Gibb, a popstar in his own right, the Bee Gees suffered from a slight decline in popularity. I, for one, can't figure out why. The songs in the third phase are just as solid as the previous two. "You Win Again" and "One" are as joyous and melodic as anything the Gees have ever done. I remember as a child, sitting in my very brown den watching the Prince's Trust concert on PBS (an all-star concert featuring Eric Clapton, Elton John and others). I set up our portable stereo in front of the speaker so I could record the whole thing--all two hours. Diligently, I listened for the tape to pop when it finished with its side and then switched over the Radio Shack cassette as quickly as possible. Strangely, I recall the Bee Gees' performance the clearest. I remember hearing "You Win Again" and thinking, this is the best song I have ever heard. After the show was over, I listened to that particular song over and over again. I played it so often that my sister, who listened peripherally, even found a place in her heart for the song. She would sometimes even ask me to play it. The thudding opener of the programmed drums, the gleaming cheesiness of the synthesizers--magnificent. The vocal inter-twining of Maurice, Barry, and Robin works in a sublime, calming effect. Now that I listen to it, I'm still sure "You Win Again" is still one of the best songs ever written.

Their last album of studio material, This Is Where I Come Inis a wonderful and temporary final note to the history of the Bee Gees. The 28th (yes, 28th!) record of original material is a time travel to their early sound. The songs are real songs with real guitars and real drums. In fact, on the title song, Barry plays an acoustic guitar that John Lennon gave him years previous. When I sent this song over Instant Messenger to Shana, she listened but couldn't believe it was the Bee Gees' latest version. Also recently, I interviewed Britt Daniel from the indie-rock group Spoon about the music that shaped his life and one band kept popping up more often than the others. The Bee Gees, Daniel told me, actually inspired him to be a musician. He expected me to be suprised. I told him I wasn't.

Ahh, the Bee Gees. Truly inspiring, always glorious.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Unlike most bands, the Go! Team never spent their nights of rare and opportunistic moments recording a label-baiting demo in a stuffy, damp garage. In fact, while the album Thunder, Lightning, Strike was being produced, there was no band at all, or even a team for that matter. Rather, there was a guy, a shy and demur 28-year-old television documentarian who had a collector’s love for vinyl records and the time to search for and compile obscure samples into a celebratory and vibrant mosaic of rock-influenced pep-rally songs, the most effective recreation of youth’s naiveté not found since a Jackson 5 record. In fact, Thunder, Lightning, Strike is so simple sounding and effortlessly enjoyable that if you didn’t know otherwise, you would assume that children were involved in the recording process. During our photo shoot, Go! Teamster Ian Parton reminisces about the time he discovered that his bedroom experiments were being recognized outside of his bedroom. “I was surprised. I think this album sounds like the opposite of commercial success,” Ian says. “It’s way too optimistic and sloppy.”

After first releasing a 7” single for “Ladyflash,” the buzz inevitably encircled Parton’s chaotic-yet-comforting sound, which in turn created more of a demand for the music and the group that was purportedly making it. What made the Go! Team aesthetic so enjoyable was that the songs sounded like outtakes from a hip children’s show, or worn vinyl versions of Blacksploitation theme songs as channeled through indie rock. The only problem Parton encountered was that he had no band and moreover, his label, Memphis Industries had secured the Go! Team an opening slot for Franz Ferdinand on their Swedish tour. Incredibly, Ian copied a page from Rock Band 101 and took out an ad looking for the rest of his group. He had three weeks to find the Go! Team.


If ever there were a group that could serve as the musical version of The Real World, it would be the Go! Team. The only person missing is the confrontational bike messenger. The current line-up consists of a three Brighton blokes, Sam Dook (guitar, drums, banjo), composer Parton (guitar, harmonica, drums), Jamie Bell (bass) and three multi-cultural girls: Chi, a soft-spoken Japanese drummer who barely, and of course, softly, speaks English, Silke, a German import who serves as the resident indie-rock fan (Silke wears a Sonic Youth sweatshirt during the interview), and, of course, Ninja, the African-British mouthpiece who initially didn’t “get” what the Go! Team was all about (and also doesn’t know who Sonic Youth is). Honestly, a casting agency couldn’t have picked a more eclectic bunch. But Parton insists that his rocking model U.N. was intentional. "It's almost like a social experiment in a way," he’s been quoted to say, "You get people from totally different backgrounds, musical tastes and personalities, and then put them together in a tour bus." And while it does sound like a pitch to MTV for a new series, it’s a noble effort and somehow works. Granted their live performances are occasionally shaky (there’s a lacking organic element) but there's something praiseworthy about seeing a collective of people coming together from different places and different cultures to perform happy and simple music, and therein making a new culture of their own.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Dear Jane,

Crazy news! Are you really, truly, definitely stepping down from your position at Jane Magazine? Like, whoa! Welcome to the world of mid-afternoon matinees!!! Welcome to the life of Dr. Phil and Oprah back-to-back episodes (truthfully, I don't watch either of them. But if you do, it's cool. Totally)! Ahhh, the life of lunch specials delivered to your home. You too will know of this wonderful experience. A man shows up to your door, you hand him money, and he hands you food. It's that simple.

"The years I’ve spent editing Jane have been nothing less than thrilling but I have wanderlust to do new things and I will reveal the specifics as soon as I can." Oh gosh. Jane, I just read your press release and what can I say....that so awful. I hope your wanderlust is curable and that you've caught it in its early stages. Bah! Just jokin' around. I know what "wanderlust" is. It's a band from the late 90's that had a minor alternative hit called "I Walked." Is this your subtle, ingenius way of telling us that you're joining the band? It can't be. Even though they did indeed come out with a reunion album in 2004, it was completely ignored and perhaps rightfully so. I have no idea--I've never heard it.

I'm just sitting here itching with anticipation at your next move. Will it involve movies? Television? Another magazine? Me? I hope it involves me because you so know that I'm a big fan. Oh, c'mon. Don't blush--you know you're awesome. No, I'm not. You are! No, you are. Noyouare! NOYOU! Ha ha ha. Okay, we're both awesome.

Question: when you leave Jane, are you going to take your name with you? Because that would be so weird if you had no name.

In case you get bored with all your free time, I have come up with a list of things to do:
-Meet people for lunch. One of my favs. Whenever I have time, I do this. And get this--you don't have to rush back to an "office" and you don't have to stay "sober," either.
- Shop for things on eBay that you couldn't possibly really want.
- Go to a Starbucks and complain about how expensive the drinks are. This could take up to three hours if you get a very patient manager. And chances are you will. They simply hate it when you threaten them with a " don't you raise your voice at me or I'm going to complain to corporate headquarters" (by the way, he will never ever raise his voice at you). Best yet, in order to finally end the conversation, he'll probably just give you a free drink.
- Look around on Craigslist for part-time jobs like furniture mover, nude model, hostess (we know what that means, right?). While I have never responded to any of these posts, looking at them also occupies a great deal of time.
- Two words: Instant Messenger. Although I think someone already took "JanePratt." Don't go with "JanePratt1." I say, no numbers! Do something creative like "SassyJane." I know that's not good but it's off the top of my head. Sorry.

Well, Jane, I gotta run. I have some work to do but I sincerely wish you an incredible amount of luck in whatever you decide to do (pick me! Pick me!). Keep in touch and let me know if you're down for a trip to Starbucks. I'll try to complain my way into getting two free drinks.


- For all you Sassy fans: a Sassy Magazine fan site

Monday, July 25, 2005


There are 18 million blogs in existence. I find this fact overwhelming and unfortunate.

Consider that there are 18 million people who deem their opinion and musings worthy enough to share in a public forum. People like me who use the Internet as a frequent opportunity to speak their minds. Ideally, that would be the case but after spending a dabble or two on the Internet, I can't find a lot of that mind. Oh--the thought-provoking websites are most definitley out there but they're not getting the attention and the book deals that come along with it.

An article in yesterday's New York Times confirmed this for me. Stephanie Klein, the Sarah Jessica Parker-version of the Internet has a blog called Greek Tragedy. Stephanie spends her nights gallivanting about the City and then updates her blog about her dating life and daily encounters and intimacies. Her writing is not particularly bad but it's full of spelling mistakes and clichéd analogies (of which we are all guilty). But again, this is not what bothers me about Klein and her ilk. Truthfully, Stephanie, like me, is a blogger. There's no harm in simply blogging. The only difference between us is that she has an audience. In fact, her audience is so devoted that they've helped her ensure a two-book deal from Reagan Books. Stephanie Klein, a regular girl living in Manhattan who has weight insecurity and a pretty decent social life, offers all details of her life unabashedly as if there was nothing sacred about privacy (remember when girls were young and they wouldn't let anyone read their diaries?).

I have never met Klein before but I do know that she still worries about her weight but "somehow manages not to puke up [her] food after every meal like most of Manhattan," that she lost her virginity to Eric Fink, she spends posts ruminating on the deepness of Coldplay lyrics, she calls people “dude” and begin many conversations with YO and she believes, of all things, in karma.
In other words, there's nothing particularly unique about Stephanie Klein. Nothing at all. She has not saved lives. She hasn't even thought about medical school. She doesn't post about charities or the disease she fought with all her courage. Nope. Stephanie likes Martha Stewart, bites her nails, and keeps a blog because she has to. After all, she has what it takes (her words, not mine).

Ironically, Stephanie points out my exact problem with her blog, and so many others, with this paragraph:

"I wrote honestly, uncensored, without self-consciousness because whenever I’d read anything that moved me, I realized it was the truth the writer revealed that evoked such an emotional reaction. Even now, posting this, I struggled. I had to honor the honesty written here, but I was afraid by posting this it was admitting some kind of success. I worried it would be seen as a self-indulgent and haughty effort at self-everything."

Stephanie is worried about being self-indulgent but acts so on a daily, committed basis. And this is why she has two memoirs to produce. Tellingly, in sharing her news with the world regarding her book deal, she entitles her post "My Most Obnoxious Post." You said it yourself.

Ultimately, what bothers me about Stephanie's vapid blog and many others like hers (I am by no means entitling myself to the position of Important Blogger - for God's sake, I posted about Tom Cruise and a talking Budweiser the other day) is the perpetuation of minutiae and meaninglessness. And especially the "humility" that comes along with it is disingenuous and cringe-worthy.

"I feel like I shouldn't be writing about this because it means I'm admitting something. No one wants to read about how it feels do they? I mean, people like reading what they can relate to, so my writing about being recognized, loved more, plagued with more anonymous inconsideration... well, frankly, who cares? But then, this isn't about you, so f*** it.

It's enough to make you resent the whole memoir genre. Aren't there more people out there doing more interesting things? And why are we rewarding the ones that are not them?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


I just saw a teenage boy walking down the street wearing an "Enjoy Coca Cola" T-shirt. The carefree adolescent brought me to the realization that, in recent memory, I can't recall ever seeing someone wear a Pepsi T-shirt. Never ever.
Granted "never" is a pretty definitive word. "Never" implies that I have tirelessly walked the Earth, traveled to the far corners of the globe, swam through piles of vintage clothes and suburban castaways just so I could see a Pepsi shirt. And while I have not done any of those things, I do live in New York and see a great many T-shirts and yet none of them is ever a Pepsi shirt.

Why? After all, the Pepsi logo is so patriotic. Shouldn't it be more prominent in a country during wartime? And Coca Cola wears an almost-Communistic coat of red, white and the occasional black. But Pepsi?!? Pepsi is shining in red, white and blue. The colors on a Pepsi can want you to support your President. The colors on a Pepsi can want you to wave an American flag with pride. The colors of a Pepsi can want you to listen to country music and have a Bar-B-Que. But despite Pepsi's allegiance, their shirts go unworn.

When I do a google search for "Pepsi T-shirt," I find mostly parody shirts like the Penis shirt or the Jesus shirt, both written in place of the Pepsi logo. Coke, on the other hand, results in pages and pages of matches. More people are willing to sport the wavey, slanted-albeit-relaxed logo of Coca Cola on their chest.
Is it that the Pepsi logo epitomizes mean-spirited blah? Perhaps. There's something about the subtle bitter after-taste that a Coke doesn't have that inherently projects nastiness. My eyes see that a Pepsi can embodies the true American spirit but my palette concludes that the can and its beverage are also obnoxious.

How can a beverage be obnoxious, you ask? Good question. Well, Coke, a refreshing and crisp beverage has what the Midwesterners call "pop." The Pepsi, on the other hand, carries almost an essence of salty spitefulness. When you sip the Pepsi, you are not as refreshed as you would like to be. Instead you are disappointed by the sucrose after-taste that carries an essence of artificial sweetener. A Coke bursts forth in all its cold glory with the rush of a frozen candy cane. The Coke wants to desperately please. The Pepsi wants to let you down because he is an underachiever. Pepsi would rather be left alone in the fridge then bother with your good-for-nothing thirst.

Additionally, it's always bothered me how Pepsi made their advertising so competitive. If you've been watching television of late, you'll see Pepsi mock Coke's constant reinvention while Pepsi remains true to its singular image. I have only two words in response: Crystal and Pepsi.
Why do the Cola Wars have to be actual wars with name-calling and finger pointing? Why couldn't the Cola Wars be more like a friendly game of tag where feelings go unhurt and names go uncalled?

And finally, if I recall correctly, Pepsi has always overcompensated with celebrity endorsements. There was Michael J. Fox, Michael Jackson (with his burnt hair), Cindy Crawford, Britney Spears, Beyonce, etc. Over the years, we've seen Pepsi spokespeople come and go. While sitting here, I can't come up with one Coke paid endorser. Why does Pepsi feel the need to spend millions of dollars on footage of famous celebrities drinking their beverages? What do they have to hide? Or rather, what is it that they don't have?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Monday, July 18, 2005


"I believe the proper way to say that is "I am not a hollaback girl." Unless, of course, by employing the double negative, you mean to suggest that you are, in fact, a hollaback girl. "


To tie into Bernard Goldberg's new controversial book 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America, I would like to suggest a few nominations of my own. Therefore, I present 10 People Who Are Screwing Up America, Albeit From My Uninformed Perspective:
10. The guy who swims in the medium lane even though he should be swimming in the slow lane and, I'm sure, intentionally slows down when he knows I'm right behind him. Loser.
9. Ben for not being more like Jerry.
8. The staff of the Onion for being only moderately funny.
7. Lance Armstrong for not living as strong as his wristband suggests and/or people wearing that yellow wristband who are right now listening to Sheryl Crow.
6. Hitler.
5. People who "blog."
4. People who "blog" and write the word "prolly" instead of "probably" and/or use "password" as their password.
3. Karl Rove because he's done something bad even though I'm not exactly clear on what he done that's so bad and truthfully, may never understand.
2. John Mayer for being uncomfortably frank about his fetish for "daughters" yet never specifying the age bracket they need to be in.
1. White people.

Friday, July 15, 2005


I have written about Sufjan Stevens's latest album Illinois before and it is still sensational. Here is your chance to see him perform some of his songs live on Portland's KCRW on the Morning Becomes Eclectic show.
Stevens will play three nights in August at the Bowery Ballroom. Having seen him in the past, it's never a disappointment. And if you watch this performance and it doesn't whet your appetite, I don't think you're capable of whetting.

- Sufjan Stevens's KCRW performance
- Buy tickets here

Thursday, July 14, 2005


Sloan's A Sides Win (Koch Music), Super Furry Animals' Love Kraft (XL Recordings), and Supergrass' Road to Rouen (Capitol Records)

Critical acclaim won’t pay the bills and a cult following won’t sign the checks. In fact, I’m sure that cult following doesn’t even own a checkbook. Yet, every time you read about Supergrass, the Super Furry Animals and Sloan, the article or review makes mention of their special status as if struggling stateside was a badge of honor, something that these bands have worked years to achieve. Sloan is huge in Canada but they couldn’t be happier about being semi-obscure in America! The Super Furry Animals are one of the most innovative bands in existence and even Paul McCartney loves them but they’re just a tad too kooky for us. And Supergrass—man, they’re like huge in England but over here…well, c’mon, have you seen them? They’re not a very good-looking group of guys.

Generally speaking, every time the two aforementioned terms—critically acclaimed and cult following— are used, it means that there’s a degree of inaccessibility involved and more energy will be required for the process of “getting it.” Critics assume it will never catch on in the mainstream because there’s a distinct, palpable ingredient that prevents the album or movie or book from being digested en masse. And in respect to all three of these bands, this could not be further from the truth and labeling them as such reinforces an unfortunate handicap. If these bands don’t sell well it’s because we’re alienating them from the potential fans because Supergrass, Sloan and the Super Furry Animals all write some of the most accessible music out there.

Nothing proves this more than Sloan’s newest release, A Sides Win. The immensely enjoyable compilation is the first greatest hits package that the band has released in its fourteen years of existence. Consider that the Canadian foursome’s individual albums are all hearty feasts of power pop; it should therefore come as no surprise that their singles collection acts as a rock and roll schooling for the uninformed. Admiringly, the sixteen tracks are compiled in chronological order taking us through Sloan’s development from eager Sonic Youth’s fans to sincere Kiss emulators (and everything in between). “Money City Maniacs” is a classic rock hit written twenty years too late and “If It Feels Good Do It” is an anthem destined for arenas. There’s nothing “cult” about a band that could rock your underwear and socks off.

Both Supergrass and the Super Furry Animals have recently released their greatest hit packages respectively entitled Supergrass is 10 and Songbook making both Love Kraft and Road to Rouen their first post-compilation release. Ostensibly, both bands are starting from scratch and are now embarking on Phase Two. Super Furry Animals, the prolific Welsh collective, gets more interesting and progressive as time goes on. Their last proper album Phantom Phorce came accompanied with a DVD of animated videos for every song. For the tour behind Rings Around the World, SFA traveled with enormous 5.1 surround sound speakers to place around every venue they played in. But now with Super Furry Animals’ seventh album, it seems the shtick is over as they sing,” Lets get our s*** together.” Love Kraft, the first time all five members contribute to the songwriting process, is another notable step in their psychedelic pop journey and despite the multiple contributors, this feels like their most consistent record yet. Songs like “Ohio Heat” and “Back On A Roll” are both charming acoustic clap-alongs and “Psychlone!” and “Frequency” are harmony-heavy trips into violin city. While in the past the band has exploited those towering speakers as animals, this time they seem more interested in just being super.

The Manchurian trio Supergrass began as sloppy and spirited upstarts but developed into skilled and honed musicians as their careers progressed. They even have a pair of classic and quintessential British recordings under their belts (I Should Coco and In It For the Money) placing them in the rarest of categories: a Britpop band with longevity. And even though Gaz Coombes, Mickey Quinn and Danny Geoffrey have matured as musicians doesn't necessarily mean they've matured as people. Their first song off the album cheekily entitled “Tales of Endurance, Parts 4, 5, 6” starts off with an unprecedented casually strummed guitar and the accompanying piano of a once-hyper band now on Ritalin. There are violins and flugelhorns aplenty, all suggesting a group that’s developed a serene confidence with being a classic rock band in the year 2005. That’s not to say they’re stuck in the past; towards the end of the song, the ‘Grass ventures into Franz riffing their amped guitar into “Take Me Out” territory. Serious rock with a wink is what you find throughout the album (on “Kick In The Teeth,” they Gaz asks, “does a kick in the teeth make it hard to smile?”) making Road to Rouen the path less traveled with the mix playing Frank Zappa, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, and The Small Faces along the way.

Ultimately, these are three albums that lead me to the conclusion that maybe cults aren’t all that bad.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


While I may not be proud of the fact (and I know my girlfriend is certainly not either), I occasionally buy action figures...err, I mean, collectibles. I think they're funny, make great wall decorations and will be worth some decent bank one day. And on the rare occasion, I shanty over to the "collectible" websites to find something interesting or collectible. You know; I dabble.

After seeing Sin City in the theaters, I checked online for some of the movie's figures and found that Jessica Alba's character, Nancy, is the most expensive figure of the bunch. While they are all impressivley designed, somehow, Alba's figure was designed best.
See here: Sin City Collectibles
Half way down, you'll note that Nancy comes in four varieties: one black and white figure with straight hair and one color. Then the other set is Nancy with blowing hair because that's so radically different. One is straight, meaning, there is no wind present, and the other is blowing, indicating that there is a strong gust "blowing" through Nancy's unnaturally dyed hair and someone must have either left the door ajar or the window open. Whoever did that should close it and then be asked if he or she were born in a barn. All four Alba figures start at $34.95 and only go up from there. That's approximately twenty dollars more than the rest of the set. Including the Miho, Goldie (Jamie King), Shellie (Brittany Murphy) and Gail (Rosario Dawson) figures, who, by the way, all happen to be hot.

Okay. It happens. But twice?!?!

If you've seen the commercials or the previews, you know that Susan Richards, the Invisible Woman, is played by none other than Jessica Alba. Her figure....damn! I mean, her collectible comes in only three varieties but I need to clarify that we are just discussing Series One (Series Two will be out soon). She is either available as completely visible, half visible-half invisible, or completely invisible. Much to the disappointment of the comic fan, the Invisible Woman figure does not come in naked. Yet.
If you look on the website (and I've checked many others and they all offer the same prices) for the Fantastic Four action figures, Alba's figures are over twenty dollars more than the Things, the Human Torch and Mister Fantastic. Imagine having the last name Fantastic and being sold for twenty dollars less than your wife. Absolutely humiliating.

I can't help but find this Alba-inflation creepy. There are comic book fans that are so in love with Jessica Alba that they're willing to spend almost $230 in total for her likeness with straight hair, blowing hair, invisible hair, half invisible, color, black and white, and totally invisible. Where is their dignity and pride? Why aren't these desperate fiends ashamed of their idolatry? Why can't they just rent a copy of Honey and save a few dollars? It just doesn't make sense to me.
I, on the other hand, will wait until they're cheaper on eBay.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Rock Star: INXS - If you're not watching this show, you should. It’s on twice this week: tonight at 10PM and tomorrow night at 9PM. The premise is that the remaining five members of INXS are looking for a new lead singer to sing with the tracks they have already written for their upcoming album. The series is awkward, uncomfortable, assuredly causing a dead man to roll in his grave, and everything else we look for in a reality show. But the question needs to be asked: to be the lead singer of INXS: privilege or punishment--discuss.
Perk of the show: imagining host Dave Navarro leaving his current wife, Carmen Electra, for co-host Brooke Burke.
- Visit the Rock Star: INXS website.

House - Even though every episode is more or less the same plot structure--patient comes into hospital with simple diagnosis, symptoms get all crazy and out of control, patient is almost dead, Dr. House says it's a common cold or stomach ache, they treat the cold or stomach ache with an IV drip, patient gets worse, House finally figures out what the disease really is from an off-handed statement made by the girlfriend/father/mother/priest of the patient about a trip they once made to an exotic island--Dr. Gregory House, played by Hugh Laurie, the sarcastic star of the series makes for a dramatic and compelling show. Most hospital shows follow the blueprint of ER--take Grey's Anatomy, for example--but House is a medical Law & Order with very little focus on the characters' respective private lives and every episode has a mystery inevitably solved by the end of the hour. Moreover, the cast is an impressive collective of real actors. Omar Epps has made himself a name in movies, Robert Sean Leonard was a reputable stage actor (also from Dead Poet's Society) and Laurie, an accomplished British renaissance man, delivers his sarcastic asides with an impressive American accent. You may have missed it the first time around but the summer repeats are reason alone to stay home for House.
Perk of the show: You don't have to follow the series like 24 or Lost. Tune in whenever you want and enjoy an hour of well-acted television.
- Visit the House website.

Rescue Me - Denis Leary is a man. Not like I'm a man. He's a man-man. Leary smokes like a chimney already on fire, he drinks the harshest whisky legally available, and he curses like curse words were invented for his use only. I feel emasculated by just watching Denis Leary on TV. When the Irish comedian speaks, I am suddenly unsure of what I possess in my nether region. Nevertheless, for an hour a week I spend an hour in his company because Rescue Me is terrific television. Leary is Tommy Gavin, a New York City firefighter still dealing with 9/11 even after all his colleagues have since moved on. Gavin struggles with alcoholism and searches for his estranged wife and children all the while putting out New York fires. After a string of TV failures, Leary is finally a hot commodity.
The first season is now available on DVD and can be rented from Netflix.
Perk of the show: You feel like a man just by watching the series.
- Visit the Rescue Me website.

Other recommended summer viewing:
Stella - Comedy Central's new quirky cult show deserves to be more than an inevitably cancelled series
Entourage - Ari Gold is one of the best characters in the history of television.

Summer disappointments:
The 4400 - I wanted this to be a great. I wanted it to be an X-Files. I wanted it to be compelling. I didn't want it to be a hokey science fiction series but it is.
The new set of the Daily Show - The show is supposed to make fun of the cable news channels, not look like them.
Average Joe: The Joe Strikes Back - The worst, cruelest programming ever and every one involved will most likely end up in Hell.

Monday, July 11, 2005


I am the Fun Blame Monster
(Film Guerro)

Menomena, the unconventional Portland, Oregon trio, has talent to burn and with I am the Fun Blame Monster, the burning has begun. Justin Harris, Brent Knopf, and Danny Seim are a rambunctious and experimental group looking to broaden the sounds of their instruments beyond conventional results, creating cinematic music that plays to widescreen effects. Each song combines earnest vocals, crystalline piano, and shadowy drums (DJ Shadow-y, to be exact), making this debut the product of a later-day Radiohead uninfluenced by early German Krautrock or a darker Flaming Lips led by a melancholic Damon Albarn. I am the Fun Blame Monster (which is a an anagram for "the first Menomena album") is an impressive debut and definitely indicative of an interesting and absorbing career. A Monster worth inviting into your home.
Download: "The Late Great Libido"
Website:; Make sure to download the informational PDF.

Summer in Abaddon
(Touch and Go Records)

Just because you hear something on The O.C. doesn't always mean it's bad. In the case of Pinback's latest, Summer in Abaddon, it could even be great. The Californian group, essentially a partnership between Armistead Burwell Smith IV and Rob Crowe, has been wrongfully tagged as "emo" and playing as the backdrop to Seth Cohen's whining didn't help the argument but ultimately Pinback's third release is a slinky, rhythmic pop album that is more sunny harmonies than bored confessionals. Granted, the soft and unobtrusive tones of Summer in Abaddon would work as appropriate background music but when you listen to the delicate record on headphones, the subtle nuances and bittersweet instrumentation warmly envelop you, making this a well-seasoned release that's appropriate all year around.
Download: "Fortress"
Website: While is the band's website, there isn't much information to be found there. Your best bet is to check their label website, Touch and Go, for any updates and/or bio.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


I am guest blogging again for Please visit the site throughout the day for more "witty" blogging.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


[Premise: Tom Cruise lives with a talking bottle of Budweiser beer. No one else can hear the Bud speak except for Tom. Therefore, Hollywood thinks Tom is going insane. Katie Holmes, Cruise's fiancé does not hear the bottle either but pretends that she does just so she can see a spike in her career. Cruise's personal assistant is also a two-year-old boy named Kyle that has a reoccuring case of diarhea.]

[Cruise walks in. Live studio audience applauds]
Tom Cruise: How many times have I told you, Kyle, that you cannot make in your pants during a movie premieres?
Kyle: Giggle.
Tom: This is one of the biggest movie premieres of my career and you ruin it by making #2 on Coppola's lap.
Kyle: Giggle.
Tom: I need you to get on the phone and confirm my appearance on the Today Show but I'm going to have to cancel the interview on Access Hollywood. Then I need my dry-cleaning and groceries and Katie is waiting to be picked up right now. Am I clear?
Kyle: Giggle.
Tom: Good.
Budweiser: Hey, Tommy! How's it hanging?
Tom: Hey, Bud. Not bad. A rough night. Kyle made in his pants again.
Bud: Oh boy! Not very pretty, eh?
Tom: Yeah. The worst mess I've seen since my divorce from Nicole.
Bud: Zing!
Tom: Hi-five?
Bud: You betcha!
[Tom and Bud hi-five. Audience laughs]
Katie: Honey, I'm home! I got a ride home.
[Crowd cheers]
Katie: Yeah, yeah. I know.
Katie: Gotcha. Cool. What a day. Do you have any beer in the fridge?
[Katie grabs Bud]
Katie: This will do.
Katie: What's wrong? Can't I drink this beer?
Tom: No. Katie, please. That's Bud. He's the only one that understands me.
Katie: What? And Tom, why is there a baby on the floor with a dirty diaper.
Tom: Oh, that's Kyle. He made on Francis's lap tonight.
Kyle: Giggle.
[Applause and crowd laughs. End of Scene One]

Scene Two: [Tom and Kyle are shopping in the supermarket. Bud is in Tom's pocket as the three of them walk up and down the aisles]
Tom: I never did believe in cancer. I don't think it exists.
Bud: I'm not sure if I agree with you on this one, Tom. I'm pretty sure cancer is a valid disease.
Tom: Kyle and I have done plenty of research on this and we know the truth. Right, Kyle?
Kyle: Giggle.
[Voice calls from the other end of the aisle] Tom! Tom Cruise, is that you?
Tom: Oh, man. It's Kelly Preston. She's such a snitch. She'll see me with this bottle of beer and she'll tell all the Scientologists that I'm drinking. What do I do?
Bud: Stay cool, man. We're in this together.
Kelly: Timothy Cruise. Well, I'll be damned. What are you doing here?
Tom: Doing some shopping with my assistant.
Kelly: Oh, you're baby-sitting for someone?
Tom: Nope, Kyle is my assistant.
Kelly: Ah ha...I see....Tom, is that a bottle of beer I see in your pocket?
Tom: No, this is Bud. He's a friend.
Kelly: What kind of friend?
Tom: We do pretty much everything together. Bud is the brother I never had.
Kelly: Are you feeling okay?
Bud: Oh no. Here he goes again.
[Audience laughs]
Kelly: Tom, you're making a scene.
Bud: And Kyle is making #2.
Tom: Oh, Kyle!
Kyle: Giggle.
[Audience laughs and applauds. End of Scene Two]

[Scene Three: Tom is at home sitting on the couch with Bud and Kyle. Katie storms in with a magazine in her hand]
Katie: Tom! Have you seen this week's In Touch?
Tom: Nope. I don't believe in magazines. I think they're false and not real. I've done research and I know enough to know that magazines are fake.
Katie: Tom! It says that you're an alcoholic. It has pictures of you walking around a supermarket with a bottle of beer in your pocket and a baby with a dirty diaper.
Bud: Uh oh, Tommy. Looks like we're in trouble.
Tom: Yikes. Kyle get on the phone and do some damage control here. Explain to the press that you're my assistant and that Bud is my best friend.
Kyle: Giggle.
Katie: You are talking to a two-year-old baby and a bottle of Budweiser.
Tom: I know that, Katie. But please, don't reduce them to just that. I would be nowhere without them. You know that. Now apologize to Kyle and Bud.
Katie: Ugh!
[Audience laughs]
Tom: Now. Where were we? Kyle, are you on the phone? I don't see you on the phone yet.
[Kyle picks up a toy phone]
Kyle: Giggle.
Tom: Kyle, this isn't the time to talk to Elmo. We don't have time for conversations to Elmo. Call Elmo back and get on the phone with People or Us Weekly. Explain the situation.
Bud: Maybe I should call? After all, I am your best friend.
Tom: True. Bud, I trust you with my life but this is Kyle's job. I hired him for stuff like this. I can't give you this responsibility because that wouldn't be fair to Kyle.
Katie: I don't care what this engagement does for my career. This is absolutely insane.
[Phone rings]
Tom: Hello? Oh, hey John.
[Tom turns to Bud and whispers] It's Travolta.
Bud: Tell him I say "hi."
Tom: Bud says hi.
[Tom turns to Bud] John says "hi" back.
Katie: John knows Bud?
Tom: Duh. Of course.
Kyle: Giggle.
Tom: One second, John. Kyle, are you still on the phone with Elmo? What did I say?
Kyle: Giggle.
Bud: Kyle is making on your carpet.
Tom: Oh no. John, can I call you back? Yeah. Thanks. Yes, I did see In Touch. Well, what can I do? They don't understand that we have aliens living inside our bodies. They don't get us. Yes, I will stay strong and we'll get through this just like you got through Battlefield Earth....will do. Take care. Yup. Talk later.
Bud: Wow. What a day. I bet Brooke Shields never has days like this.
Kyle: Brooke!
Tom: Awww, isn't that cute? He's on the phone now with Brooke Shields.
[Audience laughs and applauds. End of Scene Three]

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


I am honored to announce that I am this week's guest blogger of The site, run and started by the New Yorker's Jeffrey Goldberg is a pretty funny and insightful cultural analysis into Jews and music. Please patronize the site.

Oh, and sorry about last week. I'm back.