Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

Touching, gotta admit

(forward to 6:30)

My boss told me about this...I had no idea the Who were getting an award. Anyway, the loathsome Rob Thomas aside, the closing with the cops 'n' firemen actually made me tear up. That concert the Who kids did after 9/11 WAS ace. Sorta weepy! Must be getting my Friend.

What's wrong with this cover?

No, nothing wrong with the luscious Blanchette, it's that the Blake Bailey biography of John Cheever is coming in March and there's no VF gory preview? WTF?

I'm of two minds, because

1.) while I don't want the poor man dragged through the dirt anew with excessive prurience, there needs to be some hype in this awful age, enough to get someone off their collective ass and gather all the unpublished/uncollected stories and put them together in a new complete definitive tome of the short stories [mea culpa if I have yammered about this previously]. I mean, a book so big one needs a winch to move it. DO IT!

2.) I'm happy that, at almost 70 years of age, I am finally detached enough from the interests I hold dear that I am comfortable sharing them with the world, without worrying whether hoi polloi will dilute their power. This is a far cry from when I was worried Belle and Sebastian would turn up on Party of Five or something. In the age of the Kindle and imminent complete societal decay, ANY sort of furtherance of beautiful things is to be lauded.

Sez me!

Rock music = evil

Nice teal placket, God Boy.

Come back, Larry

Does anyone else remember Larry King's USA Today column? More to the point, his occasional "King's Things" doodad he'd run once in a while? It was amazing, just a bunch of sentence fragments about whatever. One time, somewhere, Bob Costas even wrote a parody of it. King's Things was a listing of what, say, the surly, down on his luck drunk 59 year old salesman guy at the airport bar may be thinking about, or, indeed, Larry King. Sort of like this:

Con Air is the most exciting movie since The French
...still great to see Debbie Reynolds doing her
thing...when you're thinking of great Oakland A's from the 70s, don't ever
forget Bill North...the new Scott Turow is his best yet, be
ready to lose some sleep...I miss filmstrips...Maya Angelou is one hell of a's hard to beat top round when talking cuts of beef...I'd love to see Jack Nicklaus in his prime against Tiger Woods
on 17 at Pebble Beach...

Was thinking, since the Cryptkeeper is apparently too busy to bother with this sort of thing, that maybe I can occasionally run an item like it, "Nick's Picks" or something, with my attendant dumb obsessions:

I like dogs, but for my money you can't beat a good old tabby..."Have You Seen
Your Mother, Baby, Standing In the Shadow?" is an ace early Stones deep's hard to beat a good, clean preppy
look...Lester Holt is great at whatever he does...I'd like to
buried with some Oreo Cakesters...I miss can't really beat Aladdin Sane when talking 1973 Bowie
records...John Updike sure knows adultery...garlic is hard to
beat as a flavoring agent...

Maybe a new thing for the oh-nine!


Nirvana - Marijuana

The Serge

Nope, not a picture from my honeymoon! Good guess, tho.

The man with the molded Brillo lid is one Serge Gainsbourg and she is the luvverly Jane Birkin of Hermes Birkin bag name-fame.

Serge was a famous imbiber, if you couldn't tell from his eyes.

Trying to think...I guess the height of hipster Serge-love was about, what? ten years ago. Maybe it's still going on. I have maybe three Serge-related tracks in the trusted iPod knockoff, out of 8000+, so he obvs is not on my mind all that often; HOWEVER, I was wondering this morning whether the youtube gods would provide a viddy I had remembered reading about in the March 1989 issue of Spin...and they did!

Here it is, Serge vs. Whitney Houston live on French television in 1986!:

Words fail!

Saint Etienne

More saints!

Can one listen to the new Saint Etienne double best-of London Conversations and not notice that Sarah Cracknell can't really sing (he wondered)? She's a posh dollybird, for shizzle. And bonus points for her dad doing something [looking...ah! first assistant director] on early seventies James Bond movies, sure. But, like Madonna, she's there on the records, but her presence is so thin (not ethereal) it's kind of bizarre.

Which reminds me: Greg Dulli can't sing either.

Still, one has to give them respect for a.) making stomping disco records, b.) being unknown in the US and C.) being old.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

St Zabriskie

Can the living be declared saints? I'm not a Catholic, but I want to send a memo to the pope and his chums to get the ball rolling for one Grace Zabriskie!

Let's consider some of the evidence, and maybe while I'm typing someone will come in from the break room here and present me with a fresh-from-the-microwave Pillsbury Gran with a burn shaped roughly like Our Grace!

1. Laura Palmer's mother! That sobbing down the phone line!

2. Susan's mother on Seinfeld!

3. Bob's mom in Drugstore Cowboy, which is one of my top five fave movies of all time! ", from an overdose!"

4. Jim's mom on Big Love, returning on January 11th, the mere fact of which sets me free in ways I'd thought impossible a mere two weeks ago!

Surely many have achieved sainthood on less than this? Just think of St Zabriskie's Day (I propose May 17 [a mere two days before my birthday, and of course she's a Taurus! Der!]): everyone gets a bad perm and smokes a lot! The litany would consist merely of droll stares and indignant "huh!"s!

Pray on this!

My labile feelings toward Zissou

On finally watching The Life Aquatic, I was super-jazzed for the first half...was saying "Wow! This just may be my fave movie ever! It boils and boils to no avail, it looks great and, man and boy, do I ever wish little title cards in Futura would pop up as I was doing stuff [actual font not provided on eblogger or whatever the hell this is]:




But then the bottom fell out: when there was a big circle imposed on the sky (the Northern Ring or summat) and then all sorts of silly gunplay etc and then no real denouement of the story arc, it was all a bit much, like some rich gateau of Anderson obsessions looking for a plot resolution. I dunno, I'm sure I will watch it again, and there were many funny tidbits, but the helicopter crash with lapping waves a la Top Gun was a bit, I dunno, forced. Plus this movie came out 4+ years ago, so why should I care to bother to blather about it?

That's a mystery more unsettling than any damned jaguar shark.

* on the junk food-free diet, because, while it is indeed just fancy junk food, it comes to about 17 dollars with tip, thus making me feel grown up (if spendthrift-y) and negating any sense of fast food establishment shitness.

Let's get some reverse imperialism up in this mug!

Just had an Angry Whopper and have to say it was stellar (after 1 January there will be no more junk food for me, as I weigh 280 lbs [prolly]), but, that said, those "Whopper Virgin" commercials are appalling.

"We helicoptered grease to this remote Inuit enclave..."

ARGH! So trashy!

I want the reverse - some Icelanders to land at a mobile phone store in Kankakee, Illinois and make all the Joes the Plumber eat a sheep's eye and then chuckle over it as elves appear, all Icelandic-like...or some tribal dudes from somewhere to chortle as Hollister moms are made to tearfully choke down fire ants...

I have no idea how long these ads have been running, and, indeed, there may have already been a big brouhaha about them. Real or no, they are annoying!

So much wrong in the world!

Cat stuck in tree controversy!

And I want someone to get the poor thing all up out the tree, so they can rename him Brutus instead of Brutis [sic]. Yesterday [strikethrough: Sunday, actually] I was at the bagel hole near us and there was a sign that read "Soup of the day: ASPARIGIS" and I had to be bodily restained by friends from throwing a trash can through a plate-glass window.

At least the global warming thing is a hoax:

Jesus - from the middle east?

Hey! It turns out that Jesus isn't American after all!

He lived in the Middle East somewhere, a long time ago.

When he was alive, there was no U.S. as we know it today!

Mind = blown!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Have a nice one

Eggs in hell!!

Gonna start a new Xmas night tradition: EGGS IN HELL!

What the hell?

I know that the stuff on the table is supposed to spell Google. But I don't understand what's going on. Chemistry set? Grampa and l'il Matt down in the Pinocchio-style basement/lab building an erstatz particle collider out of (l-r) a section of habitrail, a balloon animal, a hand-size football, a blue scorpion tail, a ramp and a piece of Gladwear? And why does Gramps look like Josh Brolin in age makeup with a Spock ear on? Maybe it's some tie-in to some movie. But whatever, get the hell out of there! It's gonna blow!

Holden special!

Partly at my wife's insistence, I've given this Catcher in the Rye book a light holiday perusal.

Man, is that kid a mess!


Lawrence Olivier in Hamlet (nice tights, Larry):

quite amusing movie preview by some teens, notable for sound effects as our hero is repeatedly slugged/punched/beaten up:

a navajo blanket:

Bonus monkey riding a bicycle with pants on:


I've never bought a new car and I'm almost sixty, so I likely won't ever, what with the Big Sleep pointing its witchy finger ever closer to me. It's not out of any super-closely held environmental opinion (although, I must admit, it has always seemed pointless to financially play midwife to yet another new car, when there are so many Volvos out there that don't even have 200K miles yet), but mostly because I'm a poor (true!).

Our local GM plant closed forever yesterday [well, I say forever, though I "heard" through a "friend" that GM refuses to sell the land because they intend to reopen at some point, whether with a new product line, I don't know, but somehow this local operation was always IUE, because the facility used to be Frigidaire and some union-y by-laws made it stay that way and it was the only non-UAW plant in the GM world and it's actually partially some sort of union-busting {shh!} as well as the downturn/dearth of sales], and it will likely mean that sheer anarchy will be loosed upon our streets, or something.

But, as my mind runs in ever tighter conspiratorial circles on this, I wonder if OPEC didn't drive the oil prices through the roof as part of some sort of war action. Logic says that when gas prices are exorbitant no one will buy the gas-quaffing monsters of Detroit, so let's bankrupt the auto industry and do what anthrax envelopes, etc, failed to do: bring a once-proud nation to its knees, or, at least, down to something that resembles destitution.

Mission accomplished!

What are YOU doing?

CNN has a story this morning about folks who run a ranch for cats and dogs - these people have 114 cats and six dogs!

Point being, a new year is nearly here and you should take in five+ cats at the very least, and a bloodhound.

If you can afford it, cats should cover all surfaces.

"Honey, have you seen my razor?"

"It was under Twyla..."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Okay, Patricia Highsmith, probably the coolest person ever, though I have not yet read a bio we have sitting around...but anyone cunning and brutal enough to come up with likes of Tom Ripley and Strangers On A Train and all the mysanthropic like is a badass, certified. And, as if further bona fides were required, check how hard she rocks a ski sweater!:


I don't think SELECT ever mentioned the Clientele, either, although at time of mag closure the band had probably only issued a few hard-to-get singles. I'm all reminiscent today (had you noticed?) and cannot believe it has been eight years since I first read about them on The War Against Silence (come back, Glenn!).

God Save the Clientele was my very favorite record of 2007 and would probably be my favorite again in 2008, had the band craftily reissued it with different name, cover art and running order.

If only SELECT were still going

Crap, did I ever love the British magazine and Britpop chronciler SELECT!

There was more well-written, funny and intuitive snark in a single issue than in a whole year's worth of American counterparts.

Anti-grunge screeds! Four pages features on obtuse British sitcoms! 36 page special articles on Oasis in the studio [this when such things were light-hearted and, indeed, mattered]. I'm a fucking geek so I have every issue (barring two - November 1993 and one from 1995, I forget which) from the one at left to close of business...

It was all too magical to last, of course. By the end, ca. 2000, coverage of dreck like Slipknot and Blink-182 were signs that the ass-end of American civilisation [sic] had made inroads into mighty Blighty in ways that were stronger than the UK public's needs to see what the latest plucky new-wave-of-new-wave four-pieces were up to. The magazine size shrunk (a la Rolling Stone today; hmm) and eventually ceased publication. Shame, too: they stopped short of being able to slobber on the Libertines!

Sometimes, at night, when sleep is elusive, I lay awake thinking of what could be even now, and make up pithy, punning titles for articles that could still lay ahead of us all like "Vampire Weakened" [Vampire Weekend loses drummer, yet soldier on] or "Tsar Crazy" [reunited Suede with both Bernard Butler and Richard Oakes plays colossal one-off to christen Moscow mega-venue]...

Fruit loops

In hanging up some shirts (and man, have I ever waited patiently to start a blog entry with that scintillating clause!), I suddenly remembered those little loops of cloth that were on the backs of oxford button-downs in the seventies and eighties. Also, known, colloquially at least, as f-gtags. I'm curious as to whether they were only something cheaper sportswear featured, and, if this turns out to be so, then, Aha!, I will have ANOTHER reason to berate my now-enfeebled parents.

Then somehow, in the synaptic entanglement that leads one stray thought to the next, I remembered some putz back in college looked like Booger from Revenge of the Nerds and who went around in a jean jacket on which he had painstakingly rendered the cover art to Roger Waters's 1987 LP/mess Radio K.A.O.S.:

By which I mean to say, we should try to exercise patience in all areas of our lives: some people have lives much more difficult and complicated than our own.

Cruel, awful and despicable quote of the week!

“Although I may often have felt like belting a woman, I have never actually taken a poke at one except in anger.” - John O’Hara

Luc Sante

I always see Luc Sante's name everywhere, but had no idea who he really was. Turns out he's an essayist. Born in Belgium, but a Noo Yawka all his life and by temperament. I was feeling larky, so when buying my odd assortment of Xmas Amazon goodies for people, I tossed in his newish collection called Kill All Your Darlings (I think; left it at home).

Now, I've only read about fifty pages, but it sort of rates a colossal so what? from me. I admire the fact he's employed often by the New York Review of Books (of which, I thought recently, I've never seen a copy) and teaches at Bard College. But he's not very interesting. Unless, and here's the thing, I'm dumb and am missing subtle nuances that make the true intellects cluck wryly to themselves. This could well be. But he does things like writing intros to collections of Francesco Clemente paintings and such, so someone must think he's all that.

Also, though the picture above has a 1997-ish "make me look like a Gerhard Richter painting" vibe to it, he makes me think of this guy:


It's weird that the whole financial bubble was such a house of cards, because I really used to drive around trying to figure out who it was that was buying all those shitboxes one sees going up in the blink of an eye. You know, the ones that are now going to sit vacant and wait to rot, headaches for the local constabulary and bane of dog catchers as wild packs of canines soon start to run free and bare teeth, all Chernobyl-like?

See, it turns out, I wasn't wrong! No one could really afford them.

I had a song once about it, ca. 2002. like a little two-minute GBV ditty and the whole of the lyrics were:

Who's building all the houses? Who's building all the houses
Oh, now I get it (x 8)

So, yeah, glad to know I wasn't crazy, that no one really had the dough for any of this bullshit.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Afore I forget

Attention: all Whit Stillman haters!

Trying to figure out how old Chris Eigeman was yesterday (cos that's the kind of lame shit I do), I happened on an interview from this past August that says old Whit Stillman has an actual movie in the works, once "funding is secured (ha!)."

It's called Dancing Mood and is "set in Jamaica in the 60's" and is "a love story shot mainly in gospel churches" and that the characters are "ingratiating and funny."

(It also said he may do an adaptation of Chris Buckley's Little Green Men, which I am less stoked about, because, if you have Chris Buckley sitting there, wouldn't you have him adapt his book on his parents to a screenplay, then have Dennis Hopper play his dad and maybe even get Carolyn Farina [picture, center] to play, I dunno, the young/middle period Pat in flashback, to keep it in the W.S. repertory family? And wasn't there a story ca. 2002 that Stillman was writing a screenplay about the American Revolution or something? I want this guy's workrate, because, as you know, I work my fingers to little golf-pencil eraser-sized knubs on this blog.])

Still, suck it! All his movies (all three) have gotten consecutively worse, he's been totally usurped on the pre(p)tension front in the intervening decade by Wes Anderson, and I can truly say I couldn't care less! Can't wait to drag some unfortunate soul to see this mess, when and if it is ever even filmed!

Here's this, should you find yourself crying outside church on Xmas eve:

My friend Tim - he looks like this


And of course I was terrified of the emergency broadcast system test.

Of course I was.

Once, and this was when I was in my twenties, there was a tornado warning one Sunday and some putz at the local station played the wrong thing and a message came up that said "WE INTERRUPT ALL BROADCAST SERVICE AT THE REQUEST OF THE WHITE HOUSE," and here it was, the earth seemed to open and I was suddenly falling, my insides turning to cold water...then the cutaway to the sheepish 2nd-tier weather dude, who said "We seem to have played the wrong tape there, but there is a tornado warning for the counties of..."

I mean, a tornado AND nuclear conflagration at once? Sucky!

Now that I'm old and free from fear (?), I wonder only what the hell kind of pre-Moog/oscillator device was used to actually make the fearsome sound. Also, surprised that no one (or Schmersal) has sampled that tone and used it as a keyboard patch for some terrifying, pummelling Skinny Puppy style terror track (also on my mind surprisingly often is: how did they show movies on TV before the advent of readily accessible video tape? Did they project the actual copy of Dark Victory on a screen in a studio and then turn the TV camera on it? Huh? I also don't understand printing very well, though, and my dad was in the business for 40 years, so maybe, just maybe, I'm not all that bright).

2001: An Alarm Clock

Nope, not a post to doggedly chasten folks about how the year 2001 turned out to be a warning shot for all the coming horrors; not at all! That's played, dawg.

Was just thinking that someone (you?) needs to manufacture an alarm clock in the shape of the monolith from the movie. Then it can emit that piercing shriek that has all the hungover moonmen holding their ears, as the alarm tone.

Of course, in keeping with the matte blackness* and elegant inpenetrable contours of said plinth, you couldn't really have a face on it, or buttons or switches. But leave that to the boys and girls in design!

* Matt Blackness is a new alias for me! Along with Manuel Windows, when I am doing South American reconnaissance.

Della Femina

I can't remember when it was (summer?), but some time before Mad Men season 2 kicked off, the Times magazine did their obligatory Mad Men issue. Therein there were quotes from one Jerry Della Femina, a legend of the Madison Ave of the MM period, contemporary of George Lois, etc. He also had written a book called From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor, about his misadventures in the ad trade.

Well, I came across a copy of this tome last weekend and, having read about eight pages (have to finish a couple of other things first), I reckon it's excellent. Although the "edited by" credit sort of blows the whistle on the fact that Della Femina likely just let fly with a bunch of ad tales over a packet of Viceroys and some Vat 69 and a book was then cobbled together.

The first anecdote, anyway, is stellar: he tells of a biz cohort who was a pilot at 17 in WWII, had run off to join the Canadian Air Force, ended up in the Battle of Britain (and lived!), then enlisted with the US, was a hero...but now (book came out in 1968), in his 40's, was a man full of ulcers and fear, indeed stooped over with fear. One day someone asks him how this can be so, given his vibrant and heroic youth, and the guy says "Well, the Germans weren't trying to take away my accounts..."

Rolling Stones, still!

I had mentioned that I was raised in a Beatles house, right? So even yesterday, I get a call from my brother and in passing I say "Oh, dude, I forgot to tell you, I'm on a weird Stones kick..."

"Uh huh."

"No, really, there are tons of hot weird tracks that you've scarcely heard."

"Uh huh, well, in college, Bob DeS----r had this friend Chuck who was all about the Stones and he came over to out place on Poplar one time and we listened to old Stones records and I was like 'You gotta be shittin' me.' They were terrible. The songs you've never heard always sound like they played them about once and recorded!"

"Yes, well, see that's part of the charm, the shittiness..."

Anyway, I could see I would make no inroads so I just shut my mouth...

That said, here is the hot mix I made (early to 1983 or so), which also serves to have a Christmas vibe. One can picture the bad kids in the 60s listening to some of the early tracks at some Episcopal church dance and there being a controversy about Stones records being played...coming out to snow on the Ford Falcon station wagon...some wag having a dog named Dammit...

Undercover of the Night
When the Whip Comes Down
Mother’s Little Helper
She’s a Rainbow
Hang Fire
Let’s Spend the Night Together
We Love You
Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow?
Moonlight Mile
If I Was a Dancer (Dance, Pt 2)
Memory Motel
Factory Girl
I Am Waiting
Memo from Turner
Lady Jane
Under My Thumb
Everything Is Turning to Gold

(and I'm not a fair-weather friend, just woke up this very morning thinking of this:
which I duly "got" over my morning glass of water,
and, not at all relatedly, was making a new playlist on the Zen for the weekend and I don't somehow have "Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me" in my MP3 player? WTF?)

That pleasant, sad Xmas feeling

Evoked nicely by this:

First off, his name is LEONARDO

Hey, all you Tom Hanks fans! Mysterious drawings "discovered" on back of Leonardo masterpiece!

I'm going out on a limb to guess what the drawings will turn out to be!:




And, in a world worth a tinker's damn, there would be a fourth:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

In which I dictate on the concept of "extra"

In this era of plus-ca change, I very much hope that a long-ignored societal discrepancy/disconnect is at last put right. To (half-)wit: when one orders "extra" anything on a sandwich (thinking particularly here of pickles), who decides how much exactly constitutes "extra?" That is to say, suppose some cretin who "hates" pickles is preparing your lunch. You remember at the last second to say "OH! And extra pickles!" Now, to a person who dislikes pickles, "extra" could mean as few as one, or a mere tiny shard of green edge floating on the top of the pickle bucket. The preparer finds pickles abhorrent, so he/she (and it probably is a he/she) instinctively shudders inwardly and adds as few pickles or as small a quantity of diced onion,etc, as can be gotten away with.

I propose that as a nation we stop all this money talk, bailout blather, Blagojevich prattle, and the like, and set about having a committee that will set standards for exactly how much "extra" really amounts to. And, if, on inspecting the standardized Fed guidelines and finding them wanting, one wants to then order "half-extra pizza sauce"(an additional quantity equal to .50 times the amount deemed extra) or "double-extra banana peppers," one can feel reasonably assured of what they will find on opening their food packaging.

If there are guidelines for medicine purity, of all things, and for parts of plutonium per zillion acceptable in tap water, let's really get down to brass tacks in '09 and make a difference that matters a whit. It's too late in the day not to be truly happy, for once.

Snobissimo!: a top 10 list

I'll just say it. I've never heard:

anything by Fall Out Boy

"Umbrella" (Rihanna)

"My Humps" (Black Eyed Peas)

"Sexyback" (Justin Timberlake)

"Yes, We Can" - Wyclef

anything by Hinder

anything by Daughtry (these last two are probably the same songs, admittedly)

I say this not to brag or not to seem snotty; I just don't know WHERE people hear these things, as I never have the radio on and don't watch sports or go get all up in it at da club. Thus I'm a snob; I move in "small, crabby circles" as the sainted Anthony Lane so compellingly phrased it once. I would guess I heard more new music this year than in any since my teens, yet it was all basically by myself - in headphones, or at most, with two or three others. Part of this is, of course, age. My innate peer group are now mostly great-grandparents, dealing with the crack and meth problems of their high school aged great-grandchildren and thus have no time nor inclination to check out something called "Blitzen Trapper" or hear my poncey opining about something (maybe a sports drink?) called Max Tundra. But, sometimes wearily, I must trek on, ceaselessly seeking perfect pop moments to label in memory and file away. Bah!

Here, in no real order, are my ten fave LPs of 2008, fwiw:

Dears - Missiles
Juliana Hatfield - How to Walk Away
The Last Shadow Puppets - The Age of the Understatement
Boston Spaceships - Brown Submarine
The Cure - 4:13 Dream
The Academy Is... - Fast Times at Barrington High
Army Navy - s/t
Killers - Day and Age
Pas/Cal - I Was Raised on Matthew, Mark, Luke and Laura
Thao and the Get Down Stay Down - We Brave Bee Stings and All

Here's the vid for the Thao: