Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sometimes, The Good Things Last

Well, I just had a record-setting shitty week. I worked every day from December 3rd until yesterday (including the weekend). And it was pretty crappy the entire time, although, especially so at the end. I have some time off coming soon and it can't get here fast enough.

But I'm trying to keep positive. I'm trying to take comfort in the small things that make me happy. My new apartment, my friends, listening to music.

Which is why I was pleasantly surprised to learn that one of my favorite websites on the whole internets is still alive and kicking. CLICK HERE to check it out. I'm sure you'll grow to love it as much as I do.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Radiohead: In-Genius

Wow, I just got my Radiohead In Rainbows 'discbox' in the mail today, and let me tell you, it's like they sent a big box of musical porn. Sonic pornography - that's what this is. And it was worth every penny, every pound, every shilling.

(To recap: The radiodudes let people choose between a free 120kbps download of the music, or a great big horking 'discbox', which basically contains all your hopes, dreams and fantasies [sexual or otherwise] from the last three years.)

With the discbox choice, you receive:
- The free 120k download (duh)
- In Rainbows 2 X LP
- In Rainbows CD
- In Rainbows bonus CD
- AMAZING artwork featuring splashes of florescent paint and pantone colors/fonts
- A book of the complete lyrics, embedded within the cardboard packaging
- An awesome 12x12 sleeve to house all this crazy stuff in

I couldn't be happier with it. Take a look at some pics I swiped from another site!

Now, bear in mind, In Rainbows is still growing on me. But it actually is growing, and that's a good thing.

When I first heard it, it had the initial cool factor that any new Radiohead release has, no question. But it didn't instantly reach out and grab me, the way The Bends did once, or even the way Kid A did the first time I heard it. I think it is a good album, however, and one that I will like more as time goes by. Hell, I didn't even like OK Computer the first few times I heard that, and, at this point, I think it's safe to say they did all right with that record. OK, even.

With this idea of an album being "a grower" in mind, more and more, I'm beginning to think Radiohead are absolute geniuses (wow, nobody's ever said that before! let me finish...) in how they marketed this album. Let's review:

  • The initial link lets them make money (or not) on a leak, on their own terms.
  • The discbox option lets them make a lot of money, and provide a great piece of art to their fans
  • Best of all, fans get the digital download early, so they can listen and get acclimated to the album for a few months, and then, they get to listen to it on lovely, lovely vinyl, once they've gained an ear for its subtleties.

In effect, they've coordinated this whole scheme in such a way that they actually help you to enjoy the album more with the discbox.

Clever little buggers.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I Want To Be Ben Chasny When I Grow Up

Note to any aspiring guitarists out there: Keep practicing.

Turd Blossom: Now With 100% More Turd

Karl Rove. Why, just saying his name makes me want to brush my teeth to get the taste out.

What can I say about the man that W affectionately dubbed "Turd Blossom" that would or could make him sound any worse than he could make himself sound? Answer: nothing. He doesn't need any help from me to incriminate himself, unfortunately.

Turdy McTurdleston has achieved a new, unprecedented level of evil though, so I did feel the need to mark the occasion. What did fattypants do this time, you ask? Well, you know that Iraq war that everyone's talking about? The one Rove-o-tron helped to orchestrate and profit from? Yeah, that one.

Well, it seems ol' Karl has decided to weigh in on it (emphasis on "weigh" LOLZ!) after all this time, to address the mistakes that have been made and finally take the people who rushed us into battle to task. Because of a select group of terrible, awful, no-good people, we jumped into a battle we had no hopes of winning, occupied a country that does not want us there, instigated civil war that shows no sign of dissipating and, oh, by the way, cost our own country billions of dollars and most imporantly, thousands of innocent, well-intentioned lives.

So who are these as-yet-unnamed warmongers that Rove went on national television and cited as the source of this whole mess? Well I'll tell you! None other than... the United States Congress!

Wait a second... the United States Congress??? Wait, that doesn't make any sense... I'm pretty sure that's not correct at all... and my girlfriend Arianna agrees with me!

The evidence that it was President Bush and Vice President Cheney -- and not Congress -- who were hungry for war is overwhelming. For starters, we have Bush's own words before the vote, when he explicitly told Congress that "it's in our national interest" to get the vote "done as quickly as possible." And the insistence of then-Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld that "delaying a vote in Congress would send the wrong message." And the words of then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle who says that when he asked Bush in September 2002 why there was such a rush for a vote on Iraq the president "looked at Cheney and he looked at me, and there was a half-smile on his face. And he said: 'We just have to do this now.'"

And there is the insider evidence provided by Richard Clarke, who wrote that within hours of the 9/11 attacks, this administration
had its heart set on heading into Iraq. And from Paul O'Neill, who made it clear that invading Iraq had been Bush's goal before he had even learned where the Oval Office supply closet was.

So I was right after all! Karl Rove is rewriting history for his own purposes! Thanks Arianna, you're the bestest gal ever.

And so, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, we learned something today: Turd Blossom is decidedly evil and definitely full of shit. He's positively blossoming with it.

Oh, I guess... we already knew that. Hmm.

But... if the GOP has taught us anything, it's that repetition is essential to convincing someone to see your side of the truth.

But... if the GOP has taught us anything, it's that repetition is essential to convincing someone to see your side of the truth.

But... if the GOP has taught us anything, it's that - oh, you get the point.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Greatest Invention Since the Hoverboard

This holiday season, I would urge everyone to remember what's most important: keeping warm.
And right behind that, I'd say: beards.

As someone with a beard who is also trying to keep warm, imagine my delight when I stumbled upon this truly genius creation - The Beard Cap!

Ever wonder what you'd look like with a beard? What your boss, nephew, mom or girlfriend would look like?

Well, wonder no more, with this handy invention! Thanks to a brilliant Scandinavian designer named Vik Prjónsdóttir, Now you (or your mom) can stay warm all winter and still give passers-by a serious case of the chuckles, which will help them to keep warm also.

If you, or your mom, would like to purchase one of these amazing devices, you may do so for the bargain price of $130 (who can really put a price on warmth and beards though?) at a store called Scandinavian Grace, in Brooklyn.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen (And People That Visit This Site)

I present to you, one of my favorite musical acts of all time, the one and only: Six Organs of Admittance!

Also known as the talented Ben Chasny, this constantly shape-shifting music project never ceases to amaze me with its ability to redefine itself with every new release. Chasny is a picker if ever there was one, and his talent and craft are only eclipsed by his sheer humbleness. To see Six Organs play live is to see an artist paint. But he paints in such a way that you never see the brush move - all you get is bursts of color and emotion. Fine by me.

But seriously, folks: BenChasny

Ben/6OoA just released a brilliant new album called "Shelter From the Ash." It's about as cheery as the title might suggest. But what it lacks in glee, it more than makes up for in its ability to roll them stones. The subject matter traffics heavily in paranoia, anger, apocalyptic visions, fear and all out desperation. But something about an album as beautiful and masterfully rendered as this one makes me smile. Honesty like that has to be a good thing.

You know why? In my humber opinion, this world is lacking in artists. Real artists. Those who could care less whether they turn a dollar for any of their effort. Those who create just for the sake of creation. Those who let their work speak for itself. I say without a grain of my usual irony or sarcasm: Ben Chasny is one of these artists, in every sense possible.

Although the album officially dropped today, I actually caught a download of it months ago, and I've been digging on it the entire time. I think it receives The Dispatches from the Ledge Award for Best Reproduction of Hopelessness on an Album. Seriously, it makes perfect sense appearing on a web site masthead as bleak as this one.

And keep an eye out: he'll be touring in January. And as he himself says on track 4: "I'm coming to get you."

Here's a video for the title track off "Shelter From the Ash" for your listening and viewing pleasure. (And if you can guess how many guitar tracks are on this song, you win a free lunch!*)

*I cannot confirm that you will ever receive this lunch.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Even Radiohead Has Fun Once In A While

For a band that has earned a reputation for taking themselves (and the world) rather seriously, Radiohead's appears to be having quite a bit of fun in the studio recently! Following the announcement and groundbreaking "digital-only" distribution of their new (and quite good) album "In Rainbows," they've also been releasing some fun video clips of them in the studio, playing cover songs. So far, we've seen covers of Bjork's beautiful song "Unravel" and now, a rocking version of The Smiths' angry "Headmaster Ritual."

Both are phenomenal songs to begin with, and it's really cool to see Radiohead having some fun working them out - there's actually some smiles and laughs involved! On the Smiths song especially, you can just see that these guys have probably been rocking out to this song since they were 13. It's pretty cool. Check the videos out and enjoy:

The Smiths - "Headmaster Ritual" (Originally from the Meat is Murder album)

Bjork - "Unravel" (Originally from the Homogenic album)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Speaking Of Someone Who Deserves A "Villain Chair"

Is it possible to jump the shark on how many times you can make people think you are an asshole?

President Bush would have us believe the answer to that is a resounding yes. Much like Fonzie, clad in his trademark leather jacket, once water-skied over a shark on Happy Days, thus negating any actual "cool" cred he had attained up until that point, President Bush has now surpassed even his own assholery. See THIS ARTICLE to see what's got my knickers in a twist this time.

I think most people are aware at this point that we are engaged in a war in Iraq. If not, throw that shit in a Google search and talk to me when you have a pulse.

Well, war is - to borrow a cliché term - hell. People die, people get horribly injured, disfigured, emotionally scarred, etc. That's why, when you're thinking of declaring war, you better have a very good fucking reason for it. Otherwise, you are putting lives in peril for no reason, or more accurately, for terrible, selfish reasons. Lives of trusting, honorable men and women, who only want to do the right thing for their country, and trust that their leadership would only have them act for a worthy and noble cause. Instead, they got WMDs and a country that has erupted in violent civil war.

This past Thursday, the president went to visit Iraq veteran soldiers at rehabilitation center in Texas. Some of these soldiers were disfigured and permanently injured in the line of duty. Their strength and fortitude can only be further expressed by how graciously they received a visit by the very man who put them in harms way. The greeted their president with respect and humility. Whether he deserved it is another matter (no), but their gesture is commendable regardless.

For his part, Bush played his "regular guy" card and played video games with them. Video games. And not just any video games. War games. Are you kidding me? If it weren't so horrendously tragic, the irony would be laughable: the man who sent these brave souls off to war, where they suffered terrible injuries, then adds further insult to these same injuries by paying them a visit to "play" at
"shooting the bad guys" (Dana Perino's words, not mine). It's insulting, in every way that an insult can be.

I can't believe this guy still makes me as sick as he does. After 7 years, you'd think I'd have gotten used to his deplorable behavior, grown a thicker skin or just learned to tune him out and ignore it all. But apparently I haven't. Take a look at the pictures of him with these heroic troops, literally laughing in the face of their sacrifices, and I am sure you will feel the same.

He's outdone even himself this time. I can't even believe it.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

This Chair Went To Five Years of Evil Medical School

Have you people heard of this beautiful beast?

It's called "The Villain Chair" and tell me it doesn't look the part!

This is the chair that Darth Vader sits in after a long day running the Deathstar. Princess Leia was probably busting his balls, Palpatine was riding him about keeping the damn thing on budget and then his shitty kid wants to mouth off at him about why he should vote for the Green Party instead of the GOP. So he cracks open a cold one, sits down in his Villain Chair, watches reruns of the time they blew up Aalderan and dreams of a life that does not so closely resemble his own.

Looks pretty god damn good, doesn't it? Want one? It's yours for the bargain price of $7,200!

And you know what? I bet it's totally fucking worth it.

Bill Maher's Wallet Says "Bad Motherf--ker" On It

Quick synopsis: On Bill Maher's final epsisode of "Real Time" this season, a couple of raisin cakes* got loose in the studio audience and started to disrupt the show - shouting things about a 9/11 consipracy. Because, you know, obviously Bill Maher was behind 9/11.

CLICK HERE to watch how readily Maher dispatches the morons.

It's a great moment and a reminder of why live TV can actually still be interesting. Often, "Real Time" falls into a formula (albeit a consistently funny and thought-provoking formula), but this clip shows how easily the balance can be upset. It also makes for interesting television and reminds you that Bill Maher is a seasoned vet when it comes to giving hecklers the hatchet.

* Thank you to Patton Oswalt for the wonderful term "raisin cake" for a crazy person.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Jon Stewart: Patron Saint of the Writer's Room

Jon Stewart, you are a class act.

In the midst of this gi-normous writer's strike that is happening now (and that nobody seems to be able to stop writing about), some refreshing news appears: Jon Stewart will be personally paying his writing staff (as well as those at the Colbert Report) out of his own pocket for the next two weeks, to make sure his team is not hurt by expenses that may come up while their pay is suspended during that time. Read more HERE.

What a guy! Correction: what a smart, generous guy!

Not only is this great news for his writers, but this is a win for him and his audience too, in the long run. A paid staff is a happy staff, is a staff that doesn't quit and go somewhere else! Stewart has an award-winning writing team, and he's smart enough to realize it. This means the show will continue to be awesome, even after the strike ends, because the team will still be intact.

Bravo to Stewart, for showing solidarity and remembering what it was like when he was a writer just like them.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

My Fifteen Site Visits of Fame

Last week, I went to a wondeful concert performance by a gentleman named Sufjan Stevens. The kids love him. He was presenting a symphonic piece he had developed on the BQE (or the Bronx-Queens Expressway to its friends). Coincidentally, it was called "BQE". This all took place at the lovely BAM Opera house in Brooklyn. A lovelier concert experience I could not hope to find.

I wrote a description of the event HERE, for my friend Kristian's musical site.

Pretty neat. Thanks Sufjan, thanks Kristian, thanks Vegans, thanks mom and dad - WE DID IT!!!!!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Like Dylan In The Movies

Bob Dylan: I'm Not There

Is anybody else as excited for this film as I am????? Ye gods, people!

It's a part-biography, part art film about Bob Dylan, directed by Todd Haynes (Far from Heaven, Safe). It's coming out on November 21. Dylan is played by six different actors, including Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Richard Gere and Cate Blanchett.

More info here: The Official Site

I get giddy just thinking about it. Haynes apparently has spent the past several years working on this film because he wanted it to be sure it adhered to his vision. I am a huge Dylan fan, and the soundtrack is filled with some of my favorite artists, all covering Dylan. I feel like I came up with this idea in my own head once in college.

Go here to listen to some covers of Dylan by Cat Power (a PERFECT rendition of 'Memphis Blues'), Sufjan Stevens, Jeff Tweedy and Jim James from My Morning Jacket. All the songs I've heard so far have sounded absolutely amazing. You can hear how much fun they had doing the covers. Take a listen here: The I'm Not There Myspace Page

Bonus: They're having a big concert at the Beacon Theater in NYC to celebrate the soundtrack too! I'm going. Ticket sales benefit 826, which is Dave Eggers' children's literacy project, one of my favorite charities. More details on that here: I'm Not There Concert

Here's the full soundtrack listing - it really doesn't get any cooler than this!

Disc 1
1. Eddie Vedder and the Million Dollar Bashers: "All Along the Watchtower"
2. Sonic Youth: "I'm Not There"
3. Jim James and Calexico: "Goin' to Acapulco"
4. Richie Havens: "Tombstone Blues"
5. Stephen Malkmus and the Million Dollar Bashers: "Ballad of a Thin Man"
6. Cat Power: "Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again"
7. John Doe: "Pressing On"
8. Yo La Tengo: "Fourth Time Around"
9. Iron and Wine and Calexico: "Dark Eyes"
10. Karen O and the Million Dollar Bashers: "Highway 61 Revisited"
11. Roger McGuinn and Calexico: "One More Cup of Coffee"
12. Mason Jennings: "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll"
13. Los Lobos: "Billy"
14. Jeff Tweedy: "Simple Twist of Fate"
15. Mark Lanegan: "The Man in the Long Black Coat"
16. Willie Nelson and Calexico: "Señor (Tales of Yankee Power)"

Disc 2
1. Mira Billotte: "As I Went Out One Morning"
2. Stephen Malkmus and Lee Ranaldo: "Can't Leave Her Behind"
3. Sufjan Stevens: "Ring Them Bells"
4. Charlotte Gainsbourg and Calexico: "Just Like a Woman"
5. Jack Johnson: "Mama You've Been on My Mind"
6. Yo La Tengo: "I Wanna Be Your Lover"
7. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova: "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere"
8. The Hold Steady: "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window"
9. Ramblin' Jack Elliott: "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues"
10. The Black Keys: "Wicked Messenger"
11. Tom Verlaine and the Million Dollar Bashers: "Cold Irons Bound"
12. Mason Jennings: "The Times They Are a-Changin'"
13. Stephen Malkmus and the Million Dollar Bashers: "Maggie's Farm"
14. Marcus Carl Franklin: "When the Ship Comes In"
15. Bob Forrest: "Moonshiner"
16. John Doe: "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine"
17. Antony and the Johnsons: "Knockin' on Heaven's Door"
18. Bob Dylan: "I'm Not There"

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Unhappy Anniversary

stained glass eyes

people sink your boat
when you cut a tragic figure
they drink their lemonade
and throw you a line

boil your problem down
to yes or no, what's the matter?
they bomb your promenade
and this makes it shine

so you must play the comic
if they want one
and describe their moment
when they're in one

people pass you by
passing up the chance to know you
they're irregular
in the usual way

you should crack a smile
once in a while, it makes you pretty
it makes you wanna give
them a piece of your mind

but they can't be people
not if I'm one
if i have to be like them
i'd rather be no one

couldn't make the scene
not with all the people looking
all these connoisseurs
on guard all the time

rather spend the day
blank as hell by the window
looking out of my
stained glass eyes

la la la la la la la la la…

Thursday, October 11, 2007

You Can't Start A Fire Sitting 'Round Crying Over A Broken Heart

I get up in the evening and I ain't got nothing to say. I come home in the morning. I go to bed feeling the same way. I ain't nothing but tired. Man, I'm just tired and bored with myself. Hey there, baby, I could use just a little help.

Message keeps getting clearer. Radio's on and I'm moving 'round the place. I check my look in the mirror - I wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face. Man, I ain't getting nowhere. I'm just living in a dump like this. There's something happening somewhere, baby, I just know that there is.

You sit around getting older - there's a joke here somewhere, and it's on me. I'll shake this world off my shoulders. Come on baby, this laugh's on me. Stay on the streets of this town, and they'll be carving you up alright. They say you gotta stay hungry? Hey baby, I'm just about starving tonight! I'm dying for some action. I'm sick of sitting 'round here trying to write this book. I need a love reaction.

Come on now baby, gimme just one look.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Kid Nation: Sworn Enemy of Dry Eyes

Okay, so has everyone been watching the new show Kid Nation?

I fucking hate "reality" television. In fact, I can probably count all the television shows I like on one or maybe two hands. And guess what: none of them are reality based, folks. In 99.99% of the time, it's the lowest common denominator.

But this show? PURE GENIUS.

40 kids - ages 8-15 - are picked to run a town with no adult supervision whatsoever for 40 days. Cooking, cleaning, government, organization of labor - you name it, these kids have to deal with it.

Remember that douchebag Puck from the Real World? Well, there are nine year olds on this show more mature than that meat puppet. Hell, there are nine year olds on that show that are more mature than my parents.

I've watched the first two episodes so far and I'm going to make a confession here, internets: the fucking show has made me cry both times! Inconceivable!

(Granted, I've been a little unstable this week, but that's a blog of a different color. Black.)

There is something so perfect about the concept of this show. It's a great idea, but there's so much heart and soul, too. These kids are all acting on the purest of emotions - good, bad or indifferent - and it shines through in the footage, making for a very honest and touching program. You really care about these kids, you recognize and encourage the best in them and you want them to win.

But this poor little guy broke my heart: Jimmy.

Jimmy, 8, was the youngest kid on the show. The other kids really loved him and tried help him out and make him feel welcome. But it just proved too much for the poor little fella. So he packed it up and went home. (Every kid has the opportunity to do the same at any time.) He just missed his family too much, which make sense, since he's 8 god damn years old! I probably would have had to go home after peeing all my pants if I was put in that situation at his age.

Look at THIS PICTURE. I mean, how cool is this kid? I'm more than three times his age and I have never and will never be that cool.

Check out this clip for a sample of the show and to see the poor little guy going through the bends and trying to decide whether he should stay or go (the beginning is a bit emotional but the moment at 3:20 is really hysterical when Jimmy disses Greg, the camp bully.):

Long term, I'm rooting for Michael. He's a soft-spoken natural leader, who really leads by example rather than any kind of administration. He's the kind of kid your mother wanted you to be. (Maybe that's why this show kills me so much - it reminds me that I was once a nice sweet kid too, instead of the Gollum-like shell I am today.) I'm a big fan of Mike (different kid) too - I think he's got a good heart.

Jeez. Listen to me. Talking about reality show participants by their first names. I'VE BECOME ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE!!!! NOOOOO!!!!

Okay, I have to go cry again.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Happy Birthday Bill Murray!

Friends, please join me in a toast to Mr. Bill Murray, comic genius.
Today, he turns a spritely 57 years old!
Here's to your health Bill, and many happy returns! You are my hero in every possible capacity and I want to be you when I grow up.

Smooth Move, Ex-Lax

Another quotable quote from The Presidon't of the United States!

Take this one to the bank so you can put some more food on your families.

Mandela still alive after embarrassing Bush remark
Fri Sep 21, 8:15 AM ET


Nelson Mandela is still very much alive despite an embarrassing gaffe by U.S. President George W. Bush, who alluded to the former South African leader's death in an attempt to explain sectarian violence in Iraq.

"It's out there. All we can do is reassure people, especially South Africans, that President Mandela is alive," Achmat Dangor, chief executive officer of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, said as Bush's comments received worldwide coverage.

In a speech defending his administration's Iraq policy, Bush said former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's brutality had made it impossible for a unifying leader to emerge and stop the sectarian violence that has engulfed the Middle Eastern nation.

"I heard somebody say, Where's Mandela?' Well, Mandela's dead because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas," Bush, who has a reputation for verbal faux pas, said in a press conference in Washington on Thursday.

Jailed for 27 years for fighting white minority rule, Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994. He won a Nobel Peace Prize for preaching racial harmony and guiding the nation peacefully into the post-apartheid era.

References to his death -- Mandela is now 89 and increasingly frail -- are seen as insensitive in South Africa.

Great. Now even South Africans hate us!

Is it November 2008 yet???

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Freedom of Speech: It Was Nice While It Lasted

This is something everyone needs to watch.

This guy Andrew Meyer - a journalism student, for god's sake - at the University of Florida attended a John Kerry speaking engagement, asked a few difficult questions of the senator. The questions touched on a few tender subjects, including asking Kerry's thoughts on th 2004 election, the potential for impeachment of President Bush and whether or not Kerry was involved with the Skull & Bones secret society at Yale.

For his troubles, Meyer had his microphone cut, and then was arrested and tasered!

Sure, the guy was pretty fired up and a little boisterous in his questions, but this is absolutely appalling.

I hope we all enjoyed our freedom of speech while we had it.

George Orwell could not be reached for comment on this story.

Monday, September 17, 2007

It Seems Other People Are Sick Of Seeing This Ass Clown's Face Too

More people watched Senator Harry Reid's response to Dumbya than actually watched the presiduhnts address!

Early numbers are also indicating that even less people watched George Bush on TV than Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip or Arrested Development!*

*That one is not true, or even possible. But the other is!

Deadlier Than Pai-Mei's 5-Point Exploding Heart Technique

Seriously? If your heart does not explode or implode upon looking at this picture and then reading this story, it simply doesn't exist, Mr. Grinch.

It seems this little monkey was abandoned by his mother and left for dead until it was rescued by an animal hospital.

After that: "his health began to improve but he seemed spiritless - until he developed a friendship with a white pigeon."

Pai-mei could not be reached for comment on this story. But his publicist did call me a "treacherous dog."

Which Is To Say Nothing of His English Skills

Oh, Vicente Fox, how you make me laugh. While your own nation isn't doing so hot either for the most part, you still made me tee-hee with this one.

This just in from U.S. News:

At the White House, the president has got to be muttering "some friend" when he pores over the new autobio from his old buddy Vicente Fox, Mexico's former leader. That's because Fox raps his border pal as stubborn and "the cockiest guy I have ever met in my life." Revolution of Hope, out next month, is a well-written, well-researched book about Fox's political career and presidency, which coincided with George W. Bush's. While he expresses a kinship with W, he breaks with the prez on the war and slams the GOP's immigration platform. He blames Bush's stubbornness on Iraq for bad international relations, calls his Spanish "grade-school level," and admits he didn't think Bush would ever become president. "I can't honestly say that I had ever seen George W. Bush getting to the White House," he pens.

That makes two of us, Vinnie. Twice!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Pay It Forward: A Terrible Movie, But A Great Idea

I'll be honest, 9-11 snuck up on me this year.

Not that it was out of my mind, but this past year has been far and away the most tumultuous year of my life to date. And there were so many joyful occasions in the last year, my focus was (gladly) shifted to those topics - dear friend's weddings, my new apartment, even good old summertime fun like vacations, great concerts and days at the beach.

Six years. Think about that. On the bright side, my own distractedness aside, this anniversary has made me realize just how far I, and all my friends, have come since the original date six years ago. From rather dark, troubling and at times almost fatalistic origins, we're really all doing quite well today, I'm pleased to say.

On a personal level, a lot has happened. It's been a colorful time, with a range of happy highs and crushing downs. All of which,I've tried to document on this site all along (while admitting to perhaps gravitating the teensiest smidge toward the dark).

On a national level, eh... not so much.

There are still so many things I am, and I think many people are, left feeling frustrated with (at best) or powerless against (more often). Our reputation in the world, this asinine, infuriating and heartbreaking war we're embroiled in, the threat of global warming, the frustration with our political process (and, often/especially, the players involved) - all of these forces seem to spiral out of our control. If you can still stomach reading about these topics anymore (and I understand if many can't, it truly sucks, to use my generations catch-all phrase), you're probably left feeling pretty empty inside. In a way, it's almost healthy to block it out. Paying attention to it will give you nothing but grief.

For instance, let's talk about ground zero where the world trade center once stood. You mean to tell me that in SIX YEARS the reconstruction process could not accomplish more than the modicum of progress we've seen so far? I find that laughable, yet simultaneously appalling. (I guess I see a lot of the world that way these days.)

When the WTC subway and PATH station were reopened a few years ago, I was filled with hope. Sure, I was nervous and uneasy about the idea of riding a train into a place that once witnessed such horror and destruction, but the fact that it was open again was progress, it was ultimately good news. We were moving on, righting wrongs and standing on our own two feet again.

Or so I thought.

I take that train line, on average, at least once a week. So once a week I pass through the desolate scab known as "ground zero" and hurry on my way to work or home from a bar. When you see something like that every day, you tend to fold it up and pack it away in your mind, it's just not a pleasant place in which to make one's commute.

So when anniversaries like this recent one come up, they really give you pause and make you say "Wait a minute, what the hell is going on down here?"

At these times, you have to just try to find your own way of finding strength and positivity, because, as my dear friend Al Swearengen would tell you, nobody's gonna fucking do it for you. (Al would probably also call you a name that begins with the letter "C" - but I would never do that to you fine folks.)

Or perhaps not? Perhaps, if I share with you the particular recipe I followed in trying to cope with this anniversary and the ghastly feelings it conjured up inside me, I can help you to find some good in the world as well. You have to look for it, but it is there.

It's easy. A two-part plan, really.

The first part? Give something of yourself.

In recent years, although sometimes at the expense of my mental and physical health, I've been very fortunate to see some success in my career. That's a new feeling for me. I don't know what to do that feeling sometimes. Well, this Tuesday, I thought - why not give some of it back? Give some back to people who need it and will use it for benevolent purposes.

Following are a list of charities, non-profits and general do-gooders that I feel A-OK about sharing a few of my hard-earned dollars with. You can trust these folks to get-r-done right. And if you can't give money - maybe you can give some of your time? That's even more valuable.

Green. Peace. What's in a name? I mean, do they really need an introduction? So long as our government goes on not giving a damn about the environment and until it starts passing legislation that actually works to help preserve our world, they will always have a part to play. So in the interim, let them be our national conscience.

Red Cross
Another amazing group that speaks for itself. These guys seem to do all things for all people. They strike me as one of those groups that is constantly the first called upon to act, but perhaps one of the last to be supported. So why not show some love? If you can't give dollars, give some blood. They sure as hell know where to use it.

Hope for the Warriors Foundation
I learned of this group through another group that keeps veteran's best interests in mind. Their mission is simple and honorable: to enhance quality of life for US Service Members and their families nationwide who have been adversely affected by injuries or death in the line of duty. Sounds like the right move, since (disgustingly) our government tends to fall short on that count as well.

The Elliott Smith Memorial Fund
Those who read this site, or who know me personally, know that I miss Elliott very much. He really was a genuine person and a tremendous artist. One of his lasting legacies, other than excellent music, is a fund that benefits children who have fallen prey to abuse. By giving to the ESMF, you can choose to benefit one of two groups: Free Arts for Abused Children or Outside In, both of which are outstanding groups that offer creative, fun and inspiring support for these kids (click the names for more info). I think it's generally a good thing to do and a nice way of saying "Thanks Elliott."

826 NYC
826NYC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. It was founded by the magnificent Dave Eggers, and it's been supported by fantastic writers across the country. Imagine being a kid in a tough neighborhood, wanting to learn to write better, and then going to their learning center and being taught by the likes of say, David Sedaris? It could happen. Having met the sublime Sedaris myself, I can't begrudge anyone else the experience. (PS - They have other locations if you are not in the New York area!)

The second part? This is easy, and doesn't cost a thing.

For part two, just spend some time with people you love, and think fondly about the people you miss. On September 11, 2007, I know I did.

Good luck out there everybody.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Surlyness Is Next To Baldy-ness In My Family

Folks, I'll keep this short and simple: my little brother is a funny guy.

He's also an amazing artist.

Sometimes, when boredom sets in, the moon is in its third phase and "According to Jim" is on TV, these forces align to form a creation that is no less inspiring than Voltron.

These are some of his doodles when he gets bored at work. If they don't make you pee those trousers, you should probably take them back to the toilet store.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"We're men, we're not piñatas!"

That's one of my favorite Owen Wilson quotes, among many favorites.

In light of his current situation however, it has an ironicly dark undertone as well.

Man, maybe I'm a great big sap, but this whole thing with him is really bumming me out.

As someone who is also generally an upbeat and fun-loving person, I know first-hand that it can be really awful when something in your life brings you down. Hell, it happened to me just the other day. I was having a great time this past weekend, just having fun, dancing, letting it all hang down. And then one person did one stupid thing, and I've pretty much felt like shit for the past three days as a result. Normally, this stupid thing was the kind of gesture that would have bounced right off me, but that time, it stuck. Nothing I can do about it either, because I would if I could. You just have to ride it out and hope for the best.

At any rate, I'm just saying I understand how a supposed funnyman could also reach an incredible low. What goes up must come down. Eventually.

And I feel bad for the guy. As much as I can't fathom the exact forces that drove him to the drastic actions he's taken, I also can't imagine how much shit he's going to have to wade through just to move on from this point. The whole thing kind of reminds me of a really amazing (and devastatingly sad) Elliott Smith song called "The Last Hour." Though most people know him as a "sad sack," he was also a notoriously funny person and could even be very silly amongst his friends and with his devoted fans. But of course, he eventually met a very tragic end by similar means as Owen Wilson has attempted. The parallels in situations like this can be startling, particularly when you consider this verse:

I've been thinking of the things that I missed
Situations that I passed up for this
One way love I took for ours
I'm through trying now, it's a big relief
I'll be staying down, I wasn't good at being a thief
More like a clown
Make it over

Anyway, I hope, somehow, Mr. Wilson pulls through all this. The world's a funnier place with him in it, that's for sure.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

For the Two of You Who Actually Care

For the record, in reference to my previous post, I think "Magic" is a gawd awful name for an album.

They couldn't even add a "The Gathering" at the end? Nothing? Just.... Magic?

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Boss Is Coming Back, So Look Busy

Do you believe in magic? No?

How about Magic, with a capital "M", the new album coming this fall from Bruce Springsteen?

I know I certainly do - I read about it on the internets! And you can read all about it HERE.

It's due out on October 2nd, and I'm sure the crazy maniac will probably tour until the following Memorial Day. And I will go to see that crazy maniac!

Here's the tracklist, so you can set your SoulSeek wishlist up in advance:

1. Radio Nowhere
2. You'll Be Comin' Down
3. Livin' in the Future
4. Your Own Worst Enemy
5. Gypsy Biker
6. Girls in Their Summer Clothes
7. I'll Work for Your Love
8. Magic
9. Last to Die
10. Long Walk Home
11. Devil's Arcade

Am I the only one who's bummed that we won't get to hear Bruce sing a song called "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" until October? Damn, that's gonna get me all angsty. And if you read this blog regularly, you know I don't need any help in that department.

Oh well. In the meantime, just gaze upon the awesomeness of Bruce in his press photo clothes:

That guy is as old as my dad!!! How is it possible he's still so cool and my dad wears purple shirts that he wins at golf tournaments that have dog food sponsor's names stitched on them?

I remain baffled.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

And For Dinner: Sautéed Bald Eagle In A Freedom Reduction

You have to admit, there's something so right (and by that, I of course mean horribly wrong) about Karl Rove going dove hunting after announcing his departure from the White House yesterday.

You know, doves? The internationally acknowledged symbol for peace, love and understanding? Makes sense that Manboobs the Destroyer would want to shoot them to pieces.

Well, now he's got muthafucking P to the E to the T&A (PETA for short) on his ass! And with a target that big, he better watch out or they'll pop an all-vegan, torture-free, green-friendly cap in it.

(By the way, get it, 'Freedom reduction'? Because he's an evil tyrant who has helped to destroy America for the past 6.5+ years! And reduction is also a kind of sauce! Tee hee!)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Honestly Mate, You Look Sterling!

To celebrate today's beautiful news, I'd like to share the following clip with ye's, mates. It's from a film called This Is England and, to quote the scene you're about to watch, it's "absolutely brilliant." (Granted, it's not always a pretty picture, and it does deal with some sinister concepts, but so does life, doesn't it?)

Check out this link for background info on the film, pictures, etc. It takes place in the UK, during the Thatcher administration and The Falklands War (which feels eerily like our current American situation). Click these links if that doesn't mean anything to you, because it definitely pays to know the back story before you go see this.

Alright then, mate, let's see yer Ben Sherman, then, go on!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I Might Just As Well Have Looked Up The Word "Irony" In The Dictionary

So recently, I visited a sleep expert to figure out what the hell is wrong with me. I'm up at all hours, get really tired during the day, and exercise (which seems to work for most people) does no good either - I ran 4 miles today! I'm writing this at 2:23 AM!

I just got my bill for the session, which also included a diagnosis - something I hadn't expected.

So imagine the face I made when I looked up hypersomnia - my diagnosis.

At 2:23 AM, sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

As Usual, The Onion Says It Best

I'm with you, Ed Albaugh.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Ted Leo: It's Alright, You're O.K.

I found out this week that one of my all time heroes, Mr. Ted Leo, is going through some hard times right now. Earlier this week, he canceled a tour date in Cleveland so he could be back home in New England with his loved ones. Apparently someone very close to him is undergoing chemotherapy and the sessions just began this week, hence the cancellation.

Trooper that he is, Ted was back on the road again right after, playing Lollapalooza yesterday in Chicago. I don't think I'd be able to do that, but that's why the dude is my hero, I suppose.

I've been listening to Ted, in some form or another, since I was in high school. He's played as a solo act, but also in a ton of bands like Chisel (one of my favorites ever), The Sin Eaters, The Secret Stars, The Spinanes, The Pharmacists (before that name was adapted by his backing band), Citizen's Arrest, Animal Crackers - the guy's been busy all his life!

I've seen Ted's career skyrocket in the past few years however, and he deserves every drop of recognition and popularity he gets. When I found out about a year ago that he was playing a show opening for Death Cab For Cutie at Madison Square Garden, I was flabbergasted. Ted? Didn't I see him play at McCormick's bar in New Brunswick when I was in college, and then buy him a drink? Didn't I see him play at a church once in my hometown and then talk to him for about 15 minutes about one of the opening bands? Yes, that's the same guy. Incredible.

Although I've had admittedly limited interactions with the guy, what I have observed speaks volumes:
  • Ted always checks out the opening bands at his shows - how many musicians do you know who do that? It's perhaps a small thing, but a big deal, and I've always respected that.
  • I once watched him wait in line to re-enter his own show, because he wasn't going to cut off any of the fans who were waiting in line. Again, a small thing, but the kind of small thing that makes a difference.
  • He'll talk to anyone, he's completely unpretentious and approachable. That's a nice feature in a hero. I've spoken to him several times, sometimes at great length, and he's just a cool, regular dude. And very funny! Case in point - look at this photo!

  • He's constantly working to keep his fanbase in the know about important social and political issues, but never in a preachy way. I once read he was considering being a teacher if/when he retired from music, and that makes perfect sense. His students will probably have no idea how cool their English professor is, which makes me chuckle.
  • His music is a constant source of inspiration, positivity and energy. He is the yin to Elliott Smith's yang (my other musical hero). I challenge anyone who is having a bad day to listen to the Chisel song "It's Alright, You're O.K." and still have a frown by the end. It can't be done!
Here's a photo someone once took of Ted and put up on a Ted fan site called Timorous Me. If I recall correctly, the girl in the picture's boyfriend was stationed in Iraq, and a big Ted fan. So he obliged to this great photo:

I recently read this on another blog, talking about Ted, and I think it sums him up perfectly:
"Ted Leo is a great guy. I don't really even know him that well, and I consider him a good friend. We only met for the first time this past May."

I couldn't agree more. And having seen too many people go through cancer and chemo in my own life, I know how difficult it can be. In the off chance that Ted or someone close to him ever reads this post, I just want to extend my best wishes to his family and that this difficult time soon comes to and end, with everyone happy, healthy and strong.

After all the good stuff Ted's music has done for me over the years, I'd just like to show some support for him now. Hearing some good, funny, positive news goes a long way when you're in a situation like that.

So I guess if you have a particularly cool Ted story you'd like to share, or if you'd like to send him some good vibes, please leave a comment on this post and I will send it on to him.

Thanks all!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

This Just In: Exercise Is Good For You

If you're any regular reader of this here productivity wormhole of a blog, you're keenly aware of one thing: until very recently, I felt like total shit for about 2 years. Primarily work-induced.

But, things are getting better, at a steady clip. I have to admit. At the rate I'm going, I might have to rename this site to Dispatches From the Fuzzy Bunny-Shaped Pink Cloud or something.

Before this 2 year period fugue, I was pretty healthy, went to the gym, ate right, the whole nine. Once the aforementioned work stress kicked in though, this not only faded from my life, but eventually did a 180 degree turnaround. Lately I look like Quentin Tarantino's little brother who rides the short bus, if you're picking up what I'm putting down.

I recently decided I didn't fee like buying a larger waste size on any more pants though, and now I'm determined to get back in the swing of things. I went to the gym today!

I ran 3 miles. My face turned as red as George Bush's underpants, but I did it. Granted, I used to run 3 miles or more with no problem, but hey, baby steps, right?

Don't tell anyone, but I also want to trim back my drinking. Nothing drastic, but cutting back some, perhaps to the level most people function at, instead of John Belushi's understudy or something.

My goal is to trim up and drop some LB's (that's pounds) by the end of summer. If I can accomplish that, I'm going to reward myself with something I've wanted for a long time, but never got around to: A TATTOO! (More on that story as it develops.)

Time will tell. But as of this post, I'm serious about this.

I promise tomorrow's post will be really dumb and silly to make up for this one.

Here's a very silly picture of Rage Against the Machine Man raging, to make up for all the machining I did in this post:


Wawawewow, kids. Just look at this pretty thing!

Fender has designed a custom-made, signature edition Jazzmaster guitar for living legend J. Mascis, the axe-wielding wizard from Dinosaur, Jr. Click HERE to visit the Fender site and check the specs on this piece of gorgeousity. I also saw one for sale on eBay HERE - looks like it's going for about $850 bones. Worth every penny if you ask me.

Garsh, it's pretty. I'd like to name it Scarlett Johannson, take it out for a steak dinner, introduce it to my parents and go away for a lovely weekend in Venice with it.

If any of you devoted readers wants to buy one for me, I would be okay with that scenario.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

This Man Is Not To Be Trusted

I'm not even sure he's real! But he certainly seems pleased with himself about something.

If you're one of the five people who hasn't done so already, you really need to click HERE and "Simpsonize" a photo of yourself.

I guess you need to know what I look like to realize how funny the above image is, but I'm pretty familiar with what I look like and I think it's a fucking riot.

Check it out! Oh, and go see The Simpsons Movie, which premieres tomorrow.

Possibly The Funniest Thing I've Ever Seen

I reckon there's funny, and there's funny.

And this is both kinds of funny, plus maybe three other kinds of funny combined.

Simply perfect in concept, execution and overall performance. Bravo, gentlemen. Bravo. The Academy salutes you. Hell, I salute you. The whole damn country salutes you!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Most Important News of 2007 So Far

I can't even believe it.

The biggest news of the year.

No, the war's not over. Come on, gimme a break.
No, Georgie boy has not been impeached. (Fingers crossed)
No, we don't have centralized healthcare for all US citizens.
No, Al Gore has not announced his candidacy for president.
No, Anna Nicole did not come back to life.
No, Paris did not go back to jail.
No, Michael Richards did not convert to Islam.
No, Britney's hair hasn't grown back yet. (Well, maybe it did, but I don't care.)
No, Scientology is not a real religion.
No, the Simpsons movie didn't come out yet.
No, Tom Cruise didn't come out yet either.

BUT. Speaking of Tom Cruise coming out, there has been one important development this year.


Ten more!!!! That is huge news.

If you've never seen it (first of all, I don't believe you), "Closet" is easily the best example of "so bad it's good" entertainment I've ever seen. In fact, it's so bad, it's good and then it's bad again. It's fucking awful. It's absolutely ridiculous. It should never have been made once, let alone a second time.

In fact you should watch it. Click HERE to view the first 5 chapters! (Which totals over 20 minutes, by the way. So, with chapters 6 - 22, that means you have about 80 minutes of terrible, awful, shitty entertainment ahead of you. Amazing!)

I'm still reeling from shock. This is almost as amazing as when he performed a 7 minute acapella version at the MTV video music awards. And by "acapella," I obviously mean "horrendously lip-synced" over the full music and lyrics. That performance was so bad, I can't even talk about it... but you can watch it! Here: