Oh, and if you’re reading my site from a feed or whatever, check out my homepage to find out what the whole April Fool’s Day “joke” is.
Happy April Fool’s day.
Check out Hulk’s Diary for more mirth.
Ed Cunard knows what I like. He knows that I like my genre television with a lot more story than plot – I want to see the human element explored. He also knows that I have a thing for brunettes with A Certain Haircut, but in lieu of providing me with such a thing, he told me to check out The 4400. I just wrapped up the first six-episode season on DVD, thanks to Netflix and I have this to say: lo, it was good.
The logline is perfect: what happens when 4400 people who have been mysteriously abducted over the last 50 years are suddenly returned, having aged not at all? Some of these people have been given strange abilities while others are just trying to get by and it’s up to the Department Of Homeland Security and a pair of agents with personal ties to the event to sort things out. Some critics, according to TV Tome, have referred to the show as a cross between Close Encounters Of The Third Kind1 and X-Men, which is a handy descriptor if not entirely accurate.
There’s a lot here that reminded me of The X-Files when The X-Files was good – the relationship between Diana Skouris and Tom Baldwin, our DHS agents, certainly seems to owe a bit to the antagonistic partnering of Mulder and Scully with Skouris, of course, being the scientist. This is because TV producers know that certain types of men (myself included) spaff all over themselves when a female character on TV is more intelligent than, say, plankton. Baldwin’s son is in a coma from one of the abductions – his nephew was taken – and his personal stake in the matter brings tension to his working relationships and a spectacular revelation in the last episode of the first season. Peter Coyote plays their boss and I, for one, am always glad to see him get work. He’s filed in the same mental category as Sam Elliot and Sam Shepard – men that aren’t flashy in their craft and play certain roles very, very well.
We also spend time with the abductees – Michael Moriarty does a splendid turn as Orson Bailey, a man abducted in the 70s who returns to a wife who has Alzheimer’s and a law firm that denies he once ran it. His brief arc in the first two-hour episode is tragic and sets the tone of the series perfectly. Carl Morrissey (abducted in the 90s) comes back to his Seattle neighborhood new and improved, with a mission of social justice on his mind in a touching second episode that wasn’t blatant in its viewer manipulation until the final scene.
There’s romance, of course – an affair between Lily Moore (abducted in the late 90s) and Richard Tyler (abducted during the Korean War) organically develops despite a hook that’s a bit forced – he dated her grandmother at a time when interracial relationships were frowned upon. Maia Rutledge (abducted in the late 40s) is a young girl whose prescient powers are as cruel a curse as a child can get as she alienates everyone around her with small predictions that are unnerving. The only weak links among these compelling individuals is the hackneyed Jordan Collier, played by Billy Campbell and Shawn Farrell, Baldwin’s nephew. Collier’s an unfortunately predictable character that I didn’t want to see go the way he ended up – his final line in season one drips with clichéd menace. Baldwin’s nephew’s romantic entanglements are particularly painful, reminding me of the more awkward bits in Smallville. However, it should be noted that without that character, the plot would fall apart – he provides a number of story functions that would have had to have been worked through multiple characters otherwise.
Brevity works distinctly in the favor with The 4400. Unlike shows such as Lost, which has apparently been suffering a tremendous amount of padding of late to judge by the whining that friends of mine have concerned themselves with, six episodes is the perfect length to establish characters, tell several good stories, move subplots forward, do a bloody terrific reveal and leave the audience wanting more. This BBC model is something that should be looked at seriously by people wanting to make shows depending on reveals and tension.
The second season of The 4400 starts in early June, so you’ve got plenty of time to catch up and see the best genre show that’s not Battlestar Galactica before it starts up again.
1Close Encounters scared the pants off me as a child and still does to this day, it should be noted. Anyone looking to mortify me would be advised to purchase a set of bright lights and a Spooky Space Sounds CD to unleash late one night while Kristin’s on the cape.
Charles Mingus was a crazy, crazy man. I love him to pieces for it. Right click to download this 6.9mb, 192kbps piece of evidence in the form of “Passions Of A Man,” from his wonderful album Oh Yeah, which just saw a recent rerelease that’s well worth your shekels.
Yes, I am busy today. That’s why you’re getting pictures and music instead of content. Enjoy.
Fashion is dumb.
As a runner-up or receiver of the “Honorable Mention” in Rob Osborne’s haiku contest, I received a free copy of the Isotope 2005 Winner For Achievement In Minicomics or somesuch, his self-published Go Forth And Conquer, wherein the reader receives advice from Abraham Lincoln (pictured to the right, in case you were confused by the eyepatch,) Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Atilla The Hun, and future master of the planet, Lord Zingo. I kept telling myself I would pick up a copy sometime soon at a local place or send off the $3 to Osborne myself, but you know how these things are.
Anyway, I read my free copy and I have this to say: it made me laugh out loud several times and was, in its own way, inspiring. It uses a simple formula – four panels with one or two gags per page that build to hilarious results. I will be stealing the phrase “Oppose me and I will knit a sweater from your intestines” in future business negotiations and that’s just one of the lesser moments in this slender volume that manages to give you a more complete reading experience than the equivalent money being spent a book from Marvel or DC.
So, Go Forth And Conquer is a fine companion piece for those who liked his AIT/Planet Lar debut, 1000 Steps To World Domination as well as a good introduction to the man’s work. To clarify: I’m not just saying this because he gave me a free copy, either.
I’m saying all of this this because he autographed my free copy in beautiful silver ink.
You can order your own copy by sending $3US to: Rob Osborne, Absolute Tyrant · PO Box 453 · Gilbert, AZ 85299.
Kevin’s Media Roundup! March 29, 2005.
From the New York Times:
The parents of Terri Schiavo have authorized a conservative direct-mailing firm to sell a list of their financial supporters, making it likely that thousands of strangers moved by her plight will receive a steady stream of solicitations from anti-abortion and conservative groups.
Her plight? Eggplants don’t have plights unless there’s a really good recipe involving parmesan that happens to be lying around! I really love that her folks have “authorized” such action, which means they probably had a large burlap sack labeled “Loot” dropped into their laps for their permission and interest in the matter.
I’d also like to offer a bit of help to the Michael Jackson defense team by providing a comprehensive list of reasons why the fingerprints of their client and his accuser should be on the same issue of Barely Legal:
I provide this service free of charge, but I would appreciate a mention when the King Of Pop is freed from the baseless accusations that seem to have emerged from the obviously dysfunctional brains of many, many children.
I’m not a fan of fantasy, really; my interest in the genre begins and ends with The Lord Of The Rings, which I only finished after seeing the first movie and wondering what happened next.1 So, while I’d often heard that Jeff Smith’s Bone was good and that I should check it out, it only got the most cursory of glances from me when it was on the shelf or in back issue bins. I’d actually purchased the first trade, Out Of Boneville, and ended up selling it on eBay after reading the first few pages and making a judgment call that while it obviously was well-drawn, it wasn’t my sort of thing – I liked Carl Barks and Don Rosa just fine and that was the alpha and omega of the “funny/cute animals doing adventures” world for me.
However, I recently picked up the one-volume Bone for two reasons: it was a terrific bargain at $40 for over a thousand pages of material2 and I wanted to put my money where my mouth was and support some quality comics – if I didn’t like it, I knew somebody else would go “Hey, Bone!” and take it off my hands (probably Doug.)
Last night I finished this mammoth tome and I have this to say: I was a great huge whopping ass for dismissing this. Once you get past the cuteness and humor of the first twenty percent of this book, the real meat of the story starts to show up and you get a fully-realized picture of a fantasy world that’s in upheaval thanks to the appearance of the three characters sharing the titular last name.
In some ways, I’m glad that I didn’t pick this up in the monthly format as this feels like a proper epic that organically blends together – sequential breaks don’t jar the reader outside of the chapter changes, which are noted and named and there’s no heavy exposition of past events. I suppose that the “regular” readers were kept abreast of things with a “Story So Far” page or the like in the original comics because with so many characters who have speaking parts, it could get confusing. Speaking of characters, Alex De Campi recently said that story and plot get confused by most writers – plot is what happens, story is what this means to the characters. Bone is plotted with great foresight, but the story is the real gem here. There’s flashbacks and dream sequences that are mirrored through the story to provide the reader with glimpses at later revelations that are essential and the characters grow and evolve through the events.
It’s not just the writing that deserves praise here, either – Jeff Smith’s cartooning is a wonderful merging of Walt Kelly and the “realistic” style of Terry Moore3 and the like. His comic timing is perfect and the characters never make a pratfall or say anything that’s out of character while his dramatic and action sequences keep the reader engaged and even enthralled. One sequence in particular stands out in my mind where Gran’ma Ben is getting tossed around by Kingdok and I, quite literally moaned for her as Smith showed a single panel from this brutal scene in the same spot on each page, taking the reader from one narrative line and reminding them that just outside there was peril.
I can’t praise this work enough – craft and ambition meet each other perfectly and the reader is satisfied with a few very small exceptions. With the Scholastic rerelease of the work in color, I hope that this will get more kids interested in comics as this is a perfect all-ages work that any parent can feel good about letting their children read in this hyper-sensitive media culture we’re in now.
This is Good Comics.
1Reading the books, I was always stalled at about ¼ of the way through The Two Towers. Tolkien never met a character he couldn’t overintroduce or a setting he didn’t make me want to burn to the ground to ensure that others never had to put up with five-page descriptions of the local fauna.
2The only deal I can think of that comes close is Alex Robinson’s single-book Box Office Poison, which is 20-something issues for $30.
3Deep inside of me, there’s a rant building about how Moore has betrayed his audience for the sake of making sure that they know how fucking clever he is while, in fact, he’s making up Strangers In Paradise as he goes along. There’s a distinct shark bukkake moment in Volume 3 with the plane crash issue – he’ll never top that and everything since then has been disingenuous at best to his readers.
This is it. My personal top ten. Yours may vary. Contents may settle during shipment. Objects in the rear view mirror may be closer than they appear. Please check “Yes” to indicate that you agree with this end user agreement, which is 200 pages of small print that you’d never read.
10. New Order, Technique. This was and is the perfect New Order record to me – technology meets guitars and you never have an idea, outside of Hooky playing bass and Bernard Sumner’s vocal duties, who does what in the band. This album slides between acid house and that Typical New Order Sound with finesse. “Mr Disco” is my favorite song they’ve ever recorded; haunting lyrics about abandoned love and a danceable beat – it’s “Blue Monday,” but not.
9. Erasure, Erasure. Ambient wizard Thomas Fehlmann came in and opened up the band’s previous pop sound massively, creating huge soundscapes with subtlety where they’d gone for the obvious hooks before. “Fingers And Thumbs (Cold Summer’s Day)” and “Rock Me Gently” are highlights that really show that pop is much more malleable than American Idol would want you to think.
8. Stevie Wonder, Innervisions. A while back, Stevie was asked to compare Talking Book and Innervisions, and he said the former was a collection of better songs but Innervisions was a better overall statement, more thematically coherent and flowing for the listener. I daresay I agree with our favorite blind musician – I love both dearly, but Innervisions has the definite edge. “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing” makes life better just for having been created.
7. The Beatles, Revolver. “Eleanor Rigby” and a set of other songs that are just as good with only one clunker, “Yellow Submarine,” that I am alone in my active dislike of. Enough said. No, really. I’m done. It’s a great pop recording and it’s been reviewed to death by two generations of better writers before I came along. Go about your business.
6. DJ Shadow, Endtroducing. Take a white boyfrom the Bay Area with a love for hip hop and give him a record store that lets him trawl in its basement for records to sample. Wait a few years. You’ll get some singles on the Mo’Wax label that tickle a few ears and then this. Deep, murky beats that are a summation of what made hip hop explode in the late 70s and early 80s without being retro in the slightest. If you’ve heard of “trip hop,” you’ll know that this album gets mentioned quite a lot and it’s usually by people who don’t like rap or “urban music” in general. Endtroducing is miles above the stigma that particular genre name has associated with it.
5. Orbital, Orbital 2. It’s an electronic album that’s not ambient, nor is it exactly “dance music.” The Harnolls’ second full-length starts off with a proper suite of five tracks: an introduction and four stomping tunes that create an epic that culminates in the fist-pumping “Remind.” The fact that they manage to go and remix their own “Halcyon” into a stretched out, druggy meditation that bring the listener on the mythical “journey” that so many electronic artists rally around is icing on the (very tasty) cake.
4. Miles Davis, Kind Of Blue. This is generally considered to be not only the greatest selling jazz record of all time, but the perfect introduction for people wondering what all the hubbub’s about. It came along at a perfect time for the jazz scene – big bands had pretty much died and bebop was rapidly finding a way up its own ass when Miles Davis got Julian “Cannonball” Adderly, John Coltrane, Paul Chambers, Bill Evans (and one one track, Wynton Kelly) to try a modal take on half-composed tunes they’d not rehearsed properly and caught lightning in a bottle. The mood is mellow, but the songs never fade to the background – something is always happening that engages you and makes you wonder where else the album is going. A lynchpin to learning more about jazz because you can pick up other records by each performer and broaden your horizons quickly.
3. Pet Shop Boys, Very. and Behaviour. I know, I’m cheating. These two records flip flop based on the time of year – fall and winter belong to the the warm analogue synths and melancholy of Behaviour while spring and summer demand the bright pop madness of Very. Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe are, I’m sorry to say to all Beatles fans out there, my favorite British songwriting duo. They possess a wit and sensibility that I respond a little too well to or a straight American, with Very being the most English album released since Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. You can do a lot worse than picking these up used if you think the band was just about “West End Girls,” and “Opportunities,” a pair of songs that I am particularly sick of.
2. John Coltrane, A Love Supreme. Writing about this only does it a great injustice – complex, beautiful and pure, this serves as Coltrane’s definitive statement of love towards God and his fellow man. There are moments when you fight back the tears when you hear his tenor working its lyrical voice between Elvin Jones’s insistent polyrhythms as Jimmy Garrison’s bass only adds to the intimacy of the whole affair. Without a single bit of hyperbole, this is mindblowing and important music.
1. Underworld, Dubnobasswithmyheadman. I fucking love Underworld and this album is the reason why. Stream of conciousness lyrics cribbed from page after page of obsessive notetaking on the part of vocalist Karl Hyde, deep grooves constructed by Rick Smith and then-member Darren Emerson, and an innate intelligence that is hard to deny combine to create a totally unique listening experience that takes cues from progressive house, ambient, and even the blues while never doting overlong on any one aspect. There’s not a wasted moment on this 75-minute epic that goes from late-night half-whispers on opener “Dark And Long” to screaming techno madness on “Cowgirl” and back calmer waters on the inspiring “M.E,” a song I am still surprised by, 11 years after the album came out – it’s that good.
That’s it with the music stuff for now, I guess. I’ve got some new comics I’ll be talking about tomorrow, including my honorable mention prize for Rob Osborne’s poetry contest, the new Sugar Buzz collection and maybe, just maybe, I’ll have finished Bone by then.
Oh, yeah, and if you didn’t know? Orgazmo finally hits DVD tomorrow. Get it and be a man, a manny, manny man.
What I am looking for:
- A portable MP3 player.
- A portable MP3 player that’s fairly sturdy.
- A portable MP3 player that’s fairly sturdy and has between 5 and 10 gigabytes.
- A portable MP3 player that’s fairly sturdy and has between 5 and 10 gigabytes and doesn’t have a ton of DRM restrictions on it so I can basically transfer files with the USB connections here at work or at the house without having to use proprietary software that makes me feel like a criminal when I have probably spent more on music than is at all sensible and want to listen to it when I feel like it.
- A portable MP3 player that’s fairly sturdy and has between 5 and 10 gigabytes and doesn’t have a ton of DRM restrictions on it so I can basically transfer files with the USB connections here at work or at the house without having to use proprietary software that makes me feel like a criminal when I have probably spent more on music than is at all sensible and want to listen to it when I feel like it and is less than $250.
Am I hopped up on the drugs? Somebody point me in the right direction.
For a not-gay-man, I really do love to see it when a woman knows how to put herself together, and not in the “so I can remove those clothes in my mind” way. There’s just something about seeing someone make the effort and get fabulous results that appeals to me in the same way that a Blue Note album cover does – it’s purely aesthetic. Christina can testify to this, as I will go off on her friend’s eyebrows at the drop of a hat – they’re that perfect.
So, I get on the elevator a few moments ago after getting Work Fuel at the ‘Bucks downstairs and this woman steps on. She’s not thin or particularly large, but she’s got a few curves and her outfit really makes her pop in the right way. I look at her suit and the way her hair is cut and even her shoes and go “Wow, she knows how to accent what she’s got.” She catches me looking at the pinstripes on her skirt right as I sip on my iced coffee through the straw like Tommy Lee Jones slumming as a serial killer in an Ashley Judd thriller. She sniffs at me and gives me a look that can best be described as wasp-ish. Thankfully, the bell tolls so I can make a rapid escape and avoid her glare’s harshness.
So, if you hear about the Elevator Pervert at 10 High Street, it’s me. Hi. I’ll be registering with the state soon enough, don’t worry.
Top ten records coming down the pipe tonight and I’ll be reviewing comics again in order to prove I’m still a huge nerd.
We interrupt the 50 favorite albums list to inform you that I’ve laid the smack down upon those West Coast Tough Chicks at the TacoAddiction blog. Mmm…tacos.
I guess I have to be a regular contributor there now, as we’ve got a metric fuckton of places around here that offer tacos on the cheap. I’ve become a fan of Qdoba, despite the damning facts that they’re a non-local chain and their Dr Pepper fountain never seems to be loaded properly. I guess I will be making a fool of myself and taking photos of my lunch one day next week. If you ask nicely and want to show the LA chicks some love, let me know. I think we all want to be kept as abreast as possible on Taco Technologies.
20. Public Enemy, It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back. When you have “Bring The Noise,” “Don’t Believe The Hype,” and “Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos” all on the same record, the rest of the album could be clicks and whistles, but it’s not – track after track of tight production and politically motivated raps make this a definitive statement from a band that will never not be relevant.
19. Joy Division, Closer. The previous album, Unknown Pleasures was obsessive and surgical while Closer jumps around in atmosphere and mixing techniques, even with the same producer – Martin Hannett – at the helm. “Heart And Soul” is enough of an icon to be the eponymous track on the box set while “Twenty Four Hours” stabs you in a dark alley and leaves you to bleed while the city watches. An mportant record that is still vital two and a half decades after Ian Curtis’s suicide.
18. Leftfield, Leftism. Dub and progressive house merged with epic production to create a unique sound that’s never been copied, even by the band itself. “Song Of Life” is the anthem for every sunrise and sunset during the glory days of dance and rave culture.
17. Depeche Mode, Violator. The band’s biggest album for a reason. With beautiful melodies and Martin Gore’s best lyrics – “Halo” and “Enjoy The Silence,” in particular – this is an album that matures well with the listener and is still the first thing I pop in when testing a new set of speakers or CD player to make sure that they “sound right.” I can still program this and its follow up by memory to make the Ultimate Goth Nookie Mix.
16. The Chemical Brothers, Exit Planet Dust. Public Enemy’s Terminator X meets Detroit Techno thanks to the machinations of two pasty Brits and you don’t stop moving until “Alive Alone,” when Beth Orton shows up to take you to the beach after the night out you’ve just had. One of the first proper dance albums that has a sense of build and release that few other releases, including the Chems’ own later recordings, have ever come close to.
15. Aphex Twin, Selected Ambient Works 85-92. Richard James is insane, in case you never noticed. He guts analog synths and builds his own equipment to make sure that it does what he hears in his head and this first release from him is mastered from cassettes over the period listed in the title. Pure and seemingly without lineage from other musicians.
14. The Prodigy, Music For The Jilted Generation. A pair of fingers raised up in anger at the Criminal Justice Bill, this is sonic terrorism that you can dance to. Mashing up the hardcore sound with trance and reggae, Liam Howlett and his associates have probably been responsible for more speeding tickets than any other dance artist.
13. The Smiths, Strangeways, Here We Come. Not everyone’s first choice, but while trying to a little web research to find somebody’s gushing review of the band’s last proper CD, I came across this quote from Johnny Marr: “I don’t think this album is what we’re about to most people. They’ve decided that The Queen Is Dead is the better album and I don’t agree. All the songs are better, it’s better produced and it’s got better atmosphere. I might be wrong but I don’t think I am….It’s the one Smiths record I’ve actually sat down and listened to since the break-up.” Morrisey actually concurred with him on this point: “Well, it is. We’re in absolute accordance on that. We say it quite often. At the same time. In our sleep. But in different beds.” I enjoy this record much, much more than the other (really, really good) albums by this band and I don’t care who questions me on it anymore.
12. The Orb, The Orb’s Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld. I’ve always thought that LX Paterson was sitting around one day thinking “Ambient is good. Dub is good. House is good. Hmm, I wonder if…” and “Little Fluffy Clouds” was born. Make sure you get the 2CD version that was released in the US a few years after the truncated single-disc release as it has the original mix of “Perpetual Dawn,” which Youth made a lot more poppy for the single release. I don’t know why there’s still Laser Floyd at so many planetariums when this record actually, you know, uses space as a theme almost continually.
11. Sparks, Gratuitous Sax and Senseless Violins. Titles like “I Thought I Told You To Wait In The Car” and “When Do I Get To Sing ‘My Way?” hinted that the brothers Mael were breaking their 7-year hiatus with even more humor than previously shown if the tabloid-style sleeve wasn’t enough. Embracing the electronic boom that was occurring, Sparks created the perfect synthpop song in “When I Kiss You (I Hear Charlie Parker Playing)” and somehow got Hong Kong film director Tsui Hark to recite an autobiographical piece that I find myself quoting from almost meditatively: “I’m Tsui hark. I’m a film director. I’ve won many awards for my films.” Stupidly out of print and hard to find right now, but well worth the effort.
30. Jesus And Mary Chain, Automatic. Yes, Dave, they’re on the list again with this drum-machine-and-guitar fuelled epic of sneer. Yes, the Pixies covered “Head On,” but the Reids did it first and better.
29. My Bloody Valentine, Loveless. Washes of chiming guitar, vocals that owe more to Cocteau Twins than rock and roll, and the sound of a million breakups and new romances in the space of just over 45 minutes.
28. The Magnetic Fields, 69 Love Songs Volumes 1-3. Cheating, a little. I don’t care. It’s a genius concept with a genius set of songs attached to it. Laura once mentioned that Stephin Merritt and Cole Porter have a great knack for heartbreaking songs that sound quite happy until you give them a serious listen, and that’s probably why I love his work so much. He gleefully jumps genres and styles like a jukebox in the best bar you’ve never found.
27. New Order, Power, Corruption and Lies. “Blue Monday” makes me dance, “Your Silent Face” makes me cry. That’s all you can want from a record, right? I’ve actually been through two copies of this on CD, which is kinda scary.
26. Kraftwerk, Trans-Europe Express.. It’s Kraftwerk. I don’t need to even mention that they went and goddamn invented the musical genre I love the most and continue to loom over any motherfuckers that try to step up to the plate.
25. BT, Ima. Before he sold out like Cabbage Patch Kids during the 1983 holiday season, Brian Transeau made inspirational, cinematic dance records. Ima mixes huge progressive beats and orchestral sounds to create music that inspires as well as moves the booty.
24. Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On? Barry Gordy didn’t want to release this socially-concious, lush soul record. Barry Gordy was kinda stupid. This is a record that’s more relevant than ever in a country that’s sliding backwards rapidly when it comes to people’s rights. Essential.
23. Pulp, Different Class. Jarvis Cocker and his associates borrowed your youth – yes, yours – and wrote “Disco 2000″ around it. Clever, funny, touching, and consistently engaging – one of the best slabs of British Pop ever.
22. The KLF, The White Room. Nothing was safe when Cauty and Drummond were running wild. The Kopyright Liberation Foundation were techno-art jokers that managed to convince Tammy Wynette to sing on one song and showed up to perform a death metal version of their hit single “3AM Eternal” at the Brit Awards with a band called Extreme Noise Terror. After all this fuss, they broke up and deleted their entire back catalogue. You can’t beat that for sheer bravado.
21. LSG, Volume 2. Oliver Lieb makes smart dance records. His LSG project is the most melodic and intelligent of his many, many guises and this record ebbs and flows perfectly. This is, in my mind, the definition of what the much-maligned genre of trance should be with subtle builds for the listener that reward them in ways that no other producer can manage.
40. Curve, Cuckoo. Who’s angry? Toni Halliday is angry! Who can provide the proper backing for such fury? Dean Garcia and the rest of the band! Oh, so many times I listened to this over one stupid, stupid girl. It says everything you want to say to someone that you love and hate at the same time.
39. Simon And Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water. I just got into them in the last year or two, thanks to Kings Of Convenience showing that I could stand the occasional folk-ish thing. The title track and “So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright” are perfect gems.
38. Miles Davis Quintet, Cookin’ With The Miles Davis Quintet. This album’s take on “My Funny Valentine” and Chet Baker’s duke it out regularly in my head.
37. Nine Inch Nails, Pretty Hate Machine. Trent Reznor has one song about a girl that done went and broke his heart. This album features the most variety on that theme. There’s something sort of electropunk about the whole thing, even if it was never as self-produced as it was made out to be by his hype machine. “Down It It” still gets me, even if later albums have the diminishing returns thing going on in the songwriting as his production gets more and more interesting.
36. John Coltrane, Giant Steps. Seth reminded me to go look at this incredible flash presentation of the title track. It perfectly shows how Coltrane develops his melodies for the listener on this album that runs neck-and-neck with My Favorite Things for placement on this list from his Atlantic years.
35. Portishead, Portishead. Sexy, dark, and cinematic. Spy jazz and hip hop have a baby. Beth Gibbons is the most beautiful songstress ever, even if you have no idea what she looks like. And yes, Billie Holiday is way up there on my list, but I can’t think of a fully-realized album that showed off her talents like this did for Gibbons. One of the best live shows I’ve seen, too.
34. Erasure, Chorus. Calculator sounds! Andy singing his heart out! “Love To Hate You,” which ranks up there as one of the gayest songs ever! It’ll do.
33. Global Communication, 76:14. Ambience meets melody in this late-night collection of tracks that engage your mind while letting you relax entirely. Drugs, bah. Don’t need ‘em.
32. Underworld, Beaucoup Fish. Hey, I’ve only managed to work two of their albums into this list. They’re my favorite band and this one has “Moaner” and “King Of Snake” on it, so…you know…it goes oonch quite well. Some great programming and track arrangement make this a “Start on Track One and let it play” record without ever hitting the skip button.
31. Sonny Rollins, Saxophone Colossus. This thing swings like Thor’s hammer, baby. Christina’s more of a Rollins fan than she is a Coltrane fan, and I’m a Coltrane fan more than a Rollins fan but we both are happy to admit that the other’s favorite saxamophone players play their saxamophones well. Sax-a-mo-phone!
In an effort to be hip like such luminaries as Ian Brill, I’m going to present my 50 favorite records over the next few days. No restrictions on multiple placings, so you’re going to see several entries by some artists that I have let worm their way into my heart. No singles collections, DJ mixed collections, or the like – these are fully conceived albums by individual artists.
50. Thelonius Monk, Monk’s Dream. One of my favorite renditions of “Body And Soul” is on this record, which is evenly divided between solo works and pieces with his super-tight quartet. You occasionally hear Monk’s nearly subvocal cues to himself, which makes this feel more intimate than many other recordings of the master.
49. Beastie Boys, Paul’s Boutique. Just shy of being a perfect hip hop album, this is as much a production showcase as a lyrical one. The Dust Brothers manage to craft spectacular samplescapes while never overwhelming the flow provided by the trio.
48. Plastikman, Music. Opting to not go straight to acid-house thump, Richie Hawtin’s third longform release under the Plastikman moniker is late-night, creeping paranoia at its finest. “Plastique” is one of the purest pieces of minimal, snarling technological doom I’ve heard.
47. Belle And Sebastian, Dear Catastrophe Waitress. Trevor Horn allowed the twee favorites to be a bit more pop than before while still retaining their own original flavor. “I’m A Cuckoo” makes me giddy, even on the worst days.
46. Pet Shop Boys, Bilingual. Ah, the first appearance by my favorite twosome in pop – an underrated collection of Spanish-flavored songs about businessmen, lost love, and finding out who you really are. Bilingual was released at the perfect time in my life for this sort of thing.
45. Saint Etienne, Tiger Bay. Sad songs over dance beats make my world go around and “Like A Motorway” is practically a template for anyone looking to get my attention. Sarah Cracknall is my idea of a perfect British singer – slightly detached while managing to engage your attention entirely.
44. Frank Sinatra, In The Wee Small Hours. Do not listen to this album while you’re trying to finish off a bottle of Knob Creek. I’m just warning you, as I speak from experience. The Voice lays out how much he loved Ava and how lonely it can be at the top while making it sound like his feet are propped up on your coffee table.
43. Roots Manuva, Brand New Second Hand. My favorite MC’s debut is a snapshot of completely uncommercial hip-hop London life. You can’t beat lines like “When I swing, I’m far fetched like hicks from hicksville / High steps got me trippin from Peckham to Bucks Hill / Still I stand firm through the strife conflict / Motion slick, hip to every ring poli-trick!”
42. Nuyorican Soul, Nuyorican Soul. Hip-hop, house, jazz and salsa inform every moment of this Masters At Work project that drips of the city that “Little” Louis Vega and Kenny “Dope” Gonzalez call home. “I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun” is every soul record I’ve ever liked compressed into a mesmerizing five minutes.
41. The Jesus And Mary Chain, Stoned And Dethroned. Reviled by many fans of their shoegazer sound, this came out when bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam had stolen the loud guitar sound and run off with it. Jim and William Reid decided to record a short, acoustic album that sounds like the soundtrack to a Gregg Araki movie that is, you know, good. Bonus points to them for “Sometimes Always,” which made me kind of like that miserable cow from Mazzy Star.
There’s something about me and comics that have just always gone together, much to my shame as much as my pleasure. It was one of the first things I can actually say about myself with any certainty: I am a comic fan. Except, standing at Wondercon, watching the Manga Fairy Girls and the Soldier Boys wandering around and being stared at by the men in Flash t-shirts in line to get Geoff Johns’ signature, I felt completely disconnected from the whole thing. Shit, I thought. What if I’ve stopped being a fan?
(Yes, including liking Young Avengers.)
So, I’ve gotten a spoiler for DC Countdown.
You people don’t want my money anymore, do you? This is so grotesquely out of character as to come close to slash fiction.
To quote the great Ronnie Dobbs (again): “Y’all are shitting in my mouth and calling it a sundae!”
“Shirts Optional” days for the command staff.
Eat it, politically correct 24th century pansies!
OK, look, I tolerate a lot from my fellow people in this city, but there are certain habits that need to be put back in the collective primate closet and left alone for all time, at least in public. I’m calling you out, citizens of Boston, on some of your filthy fucking habits that have to stop.
First of all, littering like you don’t give two shits about the planet is so 1975 that it’s pathetic. The mayor and the city council have done their best to make sure that there’s enough trash cans scattered throughout the downtown area that it’s quite hard to walk more than a block without finding one! If I see one more fucking piece of human blight tossing a Dunkin’ Donuts small coffee cup or napkin or the like to the street or, even worse, at a drain like it’ll magically become small enough to fit in the grates, I may just flip out like ten ninjas and find myself having to dispose of a gaping, shocked-looking head in one of the many, many trash cans.
Then there’s adjusting yourself on the train as you stand there with your crotch maybe two feet from my own, or, even worse, my face if I’m lucky enough to get a seat. You don’t know how hard it is to resist the urge to pull back my fist and cockpunch you until you’re singing for a local stage production of Farinelli Il Castrato. Seriously, just learn to live with discomfort for the next five minutes or try doing it in a manner that doesn’t make it look like you’re yet another subway pervert. You can avoid a lot of this by buying underwear that fits – I’m sure that you don’t have a bulge quite as large as the dude on the package.
Finally, this spitting shit. What the fuck is up up with that? Even chimps know not to spit in front of each other unless they’re trying to deliberately insult one another and prove their dominance. I know that this city’s air makes one cough quite a bit in the dank wintertime, but you know what? Learn to swallow the raw egg that’s been deposited on the back of your tongue by your sinuses or carry a handkerchief. I had someone spit on my shoe the other day, look at me in askance, then continue on his merry way. I was too aghast to do the obvious thing, which was to grab him and wipe the toe of my Doc Marten’s loafer off on his $200 pants. Next time, I swear, I will be prepared like a commando and able to instantly respond to the situation, hopefully taking their arm out of the socket in the same movement.
Boston, I love you dearly but this shit has got to cease and desist. Any city I can walk across in 30 minutes is well worth keeping in my Rolodex, but I may stop calling for anything but drunk against-the-wall sex if you don’t straighten up your act soon.