Spin Employees Top 10 Picks for 2000 The editor-in-chief's pick for best album of the year is Aimee Mann's soundtrack for Magnolia. No, really.
Sunday, December 31, 2000
Thanks to those who wrote in offering to help with my jazz angst. John pointed me to this article by Francis Davis critiquing Burns' jazz documentary. It appears Wynton Marsalis isn't the only dork given too much air-time:
"Annoying as Marsalis can be, though, he takes a back seat to the preening Matt Glaser, a violinist who performed on the soundtracks of The Civil War and Baseball and who turns up every so often to share an insight on, say, [Louis] Armstrong's relationship to the space-time continuum. Glaser sounds like one of those guys you overhear trying to impress their dates in jazz clubs, only it's us he's trying to score with. "Davis's final verdict on Jazz? Flawed on many levels but ultimately good for the music. Can't disagree with that. I mean, the Jazz has got me thinking of where I stand on the music and the show hasn't even aired yet...
Saturday, December 30, 2000
Crazed man seizes control of jumbo jet! The glamorous passengers include the widow and son of a billionaire! The cricket star! The ageing pop singer! Didn't I see this in the opening of a Roger Moore-era Bond flick?
Friday, December 29, 2000
Thursday, December 28, 2000
I'm looking forward to Ken Burns' documentary on jazz because I find the music and its myth overwhelming. I crave guidance, even it if does come from prissy purists like Wynton Marsalis. Whenever I decide I like a jazz tune or artist I never know where to begin. I go to the record store and see 30 records by one artist, each on different labels and with an assortment of collaborators. Another problem may be that I don't want to face the possibility that I just don't like a lot of jazz. Sure I like the bouncy dancey bop but I just can't seem to get in to the dense improvisational stuff. I suppose I shouldn't expect to understand it all straight away. But then how long is it supposed to take before I "get" it? Even when I do like something I worry that it's not the right kind of jazz. And I shouldn't! That's just as lame as being a punk or hip-hop snob! I should enjoy what I enjoy and not worry about anything else.
Yesterday I bought the Dave Brubeck Quartet's Time Out, which is apparently the Thriller or Eagles' Greatest Hits of the jazz world--the one even non-fans own. I figured that was a good a place as any to get my feet wet. I had just finished making my parents a CD of Christmas music where I included an absolutely gorgeous version of "Silent Night" by Brubeck. Also, I really dig Time Out's cover art. Getting back to the music I was somewhat disappointed by the pre-dominance of saxophone on the album (Although, to be fair, I knew there would be a lot of it from the AMG review). Tonight I was listening to the disjointed drum solo on "Take Five", trying to figure out what it reminded me of. Then it hit me--the Shaggs! I have to wonder if that's the kind of sound drummer Joe Morello was going for...
Wednesday, December 27, 2000
DCU Animated I could spend hours looking at this site and that's just what I did last night. The site contains oodles of drawings done in the style of artist Bruce Timm, who does all those fantastic Batman cartoons on TV. Some say Timm's big blocky style makes all the characters look the same but for me it simplifies the heroes and villians into their most basic elements. They just look so pure and iconic. And fun! An antidote to Watchmen's doom 'n' gloom.
My first encounter with Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen was through entries in a copy of DC's Who's Who. I knew straight away these weren't your run-of-the-mill DC characters and not just because of the note that read "Watchmen and associated characters exist outside the present DC universe". They looked out of place with their strange costumes and code-names. The original Watchmen was clearly an ode to cheesy '40s characters like the JSA but the newer incarnation was something far stranger and distrubing. A half-nekkid blue man? A guy with blotches for a face? Ozzy who?
That sense of unease about Watchmen became all the more apparent when I read in the group's write-up that one of the original Watchmen tried to rape another. This, my ten year-old brain determined, was heavy stuff. Adult stuff. Though strangely the concept of superheroes acting so un-heroic didn't phase me as much as the fact they were dressed so badly. I just figured that adult comics would have cooler characters. I filed Watchmen away in the back of my brain for something to investigate further when I understood these matters better.
On Christmas Day 2000 I finally read Watchmen for the first time. I tried to stretch out the book over several days but I found I couldn't put it down for more than an hour at a time. I became anxious and snappy whenever anybody interrupted me from my reading for matters as inconsequential as eating. That's because ten years late I have learned what everyone else in the world already knew: Watchmen is fucking good.
After I was finished reading, I wondered what I would've thought of the comic if I had read it in its original format, as 12 individual issues. The wait each month would've been unbearable but in the mean time I probably would've figured out the plot; something I didn't have time for as I raced through my paperback edition.
The next little bit might contain some spoilers so if you haven't read the book yet I order you to go find a copy this very minute! Beg, borrow and steal! All right? Ok....
My main problem with Watchmen is one that has probably been addressed before since the book has been around for so long, although since comics are mostly read by men maybe no one's thought of it. Anyway, my gripe is the concept that a woman could forgive a man who tried to rape her so much so as to sleep with him. I find that hard to swallow, even if that woman is Sally Jupiter, who obviously has a whacked-up moral code and self-image "issues". In fact, the plot twist didn't bother me too much until at the end of the book where Sally kisses the photograph of Blake. A photograph taken only moments before her attack. It just seemed...wrong and tasteless. I'm not familiar enough with Moore's work to pass judgement on his motives so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he wasn't trying to insinuate that rape is the woman's fault. It just seemed from my perspective that a sensitive subject was handled rather clumsily.
So in conclusion...it looks like I'm going to be spending a lot of my spare change on comics. Again.
Sunday, December 24, 2000
Saturday, December 23, 2000
Millie's poll of the Greatest Pop Songs of All Time is up and while the number one choice makes me groan I can't complain about the rest of it. A lot of my choices didn't make it (no "Yummy Yummy Yummy") but overall it's a far better list than anything you'll read in Rolling Stone (No Eagles!). Millie has also decided to go on hiatus, blogwise. Take care, chickyboo.
For some reason I get a fair amount of hits to this site from people searching for "Liz Hurley Bedazzled pictures" so this is an entry for them. Last night I watched the original Bedazzled with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. My mother kept telling me how dumb it was but I noticed she never got up and left the room. I thought it was frickin' hilarious, although like most comedies I couldn't remember the next morning what was so great. However, if you like the '60s kitsch that Austin Powers mimics you'd love this movie, especially one fabulous send-up of English chart shows with Moore as an oversexed soul singer and Cook as a Kraftwerk/Bowie amalgam. I'd say more but it would ruin everything.
This article manages to breath some new life in the tired "skinny David E. Kelley girls" debate by focusing on the real problem--Kelley himself.
Friday, December 22, 2000
I've decided to re-write the artist descriptions at Full Fathom Five since most of them are out-of-date, embarrassingly so in some cases (Elephant 6! They're gonna change the world, man!). That's all for now.
Thursday, December 21, 2000
Look, I'm back from the dead! Apparently Blogspot's ISP decided to take an early Christmas vacation, forcing me to do something other than trawl the web for useless links to share with you. Oh, wait, look below. I lied. There are some new entries. Ha! I almost fooled you into thinking I had gotten a social life.
Tuesday, December 19, 2000
For most people losing a limb is an unimaginable horror. But some people actually crave amputations, and will go to extreme lengths to get them: "'My left foot was not part of me,' says one amputee, who had wished for amputation since the age of eight. 'I didn't understand why, but I knew I didn't want my leg.'" Now would be an appropriate time to hug yourself. (Via lukelog)
Saturday, December 16, 2000
Friday, December 15, 2000
"[Jon Bon Jovi] got on the phone and started inviting his friends to the 'party at Gore's house!'" Dude!! Sidenote: Isn't Mitchell Fink just the best name for a gossip columnist ever? (Via Ghost in the Machine)
First Select folds, now Melody Maker and NME merge. My dream of moving to England to work as a music reviewer is slowly drying like a raisin in the sun.
I think the actual date of Christmas the religious holiday should be moved to another date. December 25 could remain the over-the-top consumer extravaganza know as X-Mas. Of course, it would only be a matter of time before the gift industry would find a way to corrupt Christmas again. But it would be interesting to see what would happen if the date changed. Would anyone notice or care? So many people who celebrate Christmas stopped going to church years ago, if they ever went. Why should they be allowed to use the name of a religious celebration as an excuse for their consumer fetishism? I'm not trying to be a religious fanatic. But if you don't believe in God or Christianity you shouldn't participate in its rituals or holidays.
OK, I know I've been slack with my posts but all that changes today because I'm not officially on Christmas vacation! My internship at the Chronicle-Herald is over and was very useful and enjoyable. So...on to regular bloggy business.
I found last night's episode of Friends more than a little disturbing (though sadly not surprising). Ross was trying to teach his son the meaning of Hanukkah but all the little brat was concerned about was Christmas. Wait, sorry. Not Christmas, as the Christian celebration of Jesus Christ's birth, but rather Santa Claus! And presents! There was absolutely no mention of Christmas except in terms of presents and toys. When Ross finally did get to explain the story of Hanukkah he kept getting interrupted by outside icons like Santa and Superman (um, you had to see it). Eventually, Ross was able to tell the Hanukkah story but no one ever made any effort to tell the kid that material items aren't what's important with the Christmas (or Hanukkah) season. Usually when TV shows are so disgusting as to use someone's heritage as fodder for inane comedy they at least try and make up for it with sappy sentimentalism. Now they don't even bother. The shape of things to come, I fear.
Wednesday, December 13, 2000
I meant to blog this yesterday but couldn't find the time. You've probably heard about it by now but it's just too good to pass up. A group of doctors (from my hometown!) have written a hilarious send-up of medical diagnoses by analyzing Winnie the Pooh and friends. My favourite part, along with "shaken bear syndrome", is the prediction for poor Roo: ``We predict we will someday see a delinquent, jaded, adolescent Roo hanging out late at night at the top of the forest, the ground littered with broken bottles of extract of malt and the butts of smoked thistles.'' Who says doctors don't have a sense of humour?
Monday, December 11, 2000
The Rotten Hair Page All about John Lydon's various hair styles and how to style your own. Where was this site when I needed it back in grade 10?
Sunday, December 10, 2000
"Sounds like it was recorded in 1933... for about 6 bucks... on Mars." Best description of Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea I've heard yet! From one of those cool Amazon.com customers lists.
I can't decide what's funnier...That Silverchair has a "Best of" collection or that they've optimistically called it "Vol. 1".
Official page for Speedy the cat Speedy was born without a pelvis but has adapted to his condition with the use of a mobile prosthetic cart. A remarkable story of the human...er, feline...spirit.
Saturday, December 09, 2000
Oh, Fidel. I'm so disappointed in you. At least this Julie Burchill chick got it right: "Lennon famously got into trouble for saying in the 60s that the Beatles were 'bigger than Jesus' - pathetically, he also apologised when this statement threatened to damage their sales in the God-bothering US South. And, of course, it was a ridiculous thing to say - for a start, Jesus had better songs and he didn't go about calling people 'Queer Jews'." (Via Linkmachinego)
Thursday, December 07, 2000
My friend Andrea and I have inadvertantly invented a new slang phrase. "Drop a minute" can be used in place of "hold up", "wait a minute", "just a second" or similar time-saving euphemisms. Please feel free to use it in your everyday hipster conversation. But when the Backstreet Boys use it as the title of their next hit song think of me. ;-)
Listening to my new mix tape on the way to work yesterday I realized that Le Tigre's "Hot Topic" is a complete rip of the Monks' "We Do Wie Du".
D'oh! I forgot all about Am I Cool or Not? this week. Better get crackin'. I'm rather disturbed that the first victim was actually Tom several years ago because he's the spitting image of my first semi-boyfriend (please don't ask me to explain that).
Wednesday, December 06, 2000
Everybody seems to be enjoying my Worst Pop Songs, which makes me feel like I should've spent more time on it. Anyway, if you enjoyed my list you'll like this one as well (scroll down to 12/5 entry). I have some minor quibbles (I love "Under My Thumb") but who can argue with this critique of Barbara Streisand and Celine Dion's "Our Horrible Duet": "Best bit: When Babs sings 'whisper' & Celine echoes 'WHIIIIISPAAAAAUUGGHHHHOOUHHH!' at the top of her bottomless lungs."
Tuesday, December 05, 2000
Conrad Black's Top Ten Things I Hate About Journalists Number 7: "Journalists are ignorant, lazy, opinionated, and intellectually dishonest. The profession is heavily cluttered with aged hacks toiling through a miasma of mounting decrepitude and often alcoholism." Conrad recently sold all of his Southam papers to Global's Izzy Asper but that doesn't mean Black Envy or this National Post parody site are any less delightful.
After four years of being beat over the head with different suggestions on how (and how not) to write I realized today that I've forgotten what my own style is. This sort of situation usually requires a soul-searching quest of some sort but I'm afraid my deadline is tomorrow so it'll have to be quick. Maybe I'll just read this long, but tasty, Truman Capote piece on Marlon Brando. Truman claimed his memory was so good he didn't need to take notes. Lucky bastard. (Via Catherine)
Monday, December 04, 2000
Select finished!! Ha, I told them that revamp was no good. Still, I'm sad. I've blown hundreds of dollars on the mag over the years and spent countless hours pouring over the pages learning about the latest Britpop contender. Plus, it was kind of my sick dream to work there someday. Anglophiles of the world, weep.
Crash and Burn A piece on the suicide of The Germs' Darby Crash, the worst-timed PR stunt in rock history. But hey, punx not dead kids! Student DJs protest Rice University's decision to give more air time to sporting events by playing punk over a broadcast of a women's basketball game. We want the airwaves! (Both stories via Obscure Store)
James Joyce's American Beauty I just saw the film at a midnight showing on Friday and fell in love all over again. I really have to get around to making my "Alternate American Beauty Soundtrack" (no Gomez or Sweet on mine!). (Via Robot Wisdom, which linked this site today, accounting for the staggering increase in my hit count. Um, not that I'm a link slut or anything. No.)
Sunday, December 03, 2000
And just to proove I have no shame when it comes to sharing my musical tastes with the world...I'm afraid I must eat some crow after making fun of Elton John's "Benny and the Jets" the other day. On Saturday night, against my better judgement, I found myself watching Elton's episode of Behind the Music. Those damn songs of his drilled their way into my brain and won't leave. Not the Lion King and Eldorado shite of course, but the early stuff is good. Even worse, I'm starting to think Elton was kinda cute and, before the coke and over-the-top Liberace shit, a good dresser. Help! I've become my mother!!
Record buying bonanza! Today I bought the following:
Cinerama - Va Va Voom Why didn't I get this years ago? Heavenly pop hits, for those that still want them. It must suck to be David Gedge's girlfriend, though; you're either angel or devil.
Gorky's Zygotic Mynci - Amber Gambler Only four songs but one of them is eight minutes long and another, "Heart of Kentucky" is a fucked up country tune which eventually morphs into the theme from Star Wars. Who am I to complain?
The Monks - Five Upstart Americans Not to be confused with the also brilliant comedy-punk Monks of Bad Habits fame, these Monks were the weirdest garage band of the '60s. And they were all in the Army! Go figure. The music is a lot cleaner than I was expecting. The liner notes are a riot:
"The music became very minimalistic and blunt--a pre-Gregorian Punk Chant. 'Pretty Suzanne' is an example: We don't have to say what Suzanne does. Why sing redundant words about how one of her eyes is blue and the other is brown? Why tell everyone you love her so much when you can't stand it? Gary decided to sing 'Pretty Suzanne', repeatedly until the message was delivered. That was when it became a real love song, just like 'I Hate You'."
And my final binge purchase, at the bargain basement price of $4.99....Michael Jackson - History!! *grabs crotch* A hee hee hee!
A postscript to my Worst Songs Ever...This mix should really be titled "Kathleen's Suicide Mix" (not the band, sadly).
Re: Unbreakable again. OK, forget spoilers. The problem with the movie is that it's presented as if there's a big plot twist like Sixth Sense when its ending is no more surprising than any other movie. It just would've worked so much better if Shyamalan dispensed with all the cryptic mumbojumbo and focused on the idea of the real-life superhero. There. Now I feel better.
Saturday, December 02, 2000
I haven't mentioned Rolling Stone and MTV's List of the 100 Greatest Pop Songs because I'm pretty burnt out from useless "best of" lists. This list is just a pale imitation of a similar list by Mojo a few months back anyway. But I've been inspired by Millie's request for a personal greatest songs list and in my research I've forced myself to examine Rolling Stone's atrocious list ("Benny and the Jets"?!). Unfortunately this helped more with Kathleen's List of the Worst Pop Songs:
1.) "Hotel California" - The Eagles
If I could erase one song from the history of the universe, it would be this. The intro alone is as long as entire Guided By Voices albums. By the time the line about the "dark desert highway" rolls around I'm fast asleep. Forever linked in my mind with my high school's coffee house singalongs. Nrrrrgggghhhh.
2.) "Hey Jude/Let It Be" - The Beatles
I put these together because over the years they have merged into the same song. Talk to your average joe and nine times out of ten he will answer "Hey Jude" and "Let it Be" as his favourite Beatles tracks. I recommend burying all copies of both songs (oh, heck...why not the whole Beatles catalog) for about eight years just to force people to listen to something else. For the record, I think a similar moratorium should be placed on the works of William Shakespeare.
3.) "My Heart Will Go On" - Celine Dion, "I Will Always Love You" - Whitney Houston
Obvious targets, you say. Well they still suck, don't they?
4.) "The Macarena", "Mambo No. 5", "Who Let the Dogs Out", etc.
The novelty tune has a long history, but here are a few which have rotted my brain in the past few years.
5.) "Iris" - Goo Goo Dolls, "Smooth" - Santana, everything Creed, Silverchair, Collective Soul, and everything bands of similar ilk have ever released.
I demand joy, groove, and melody in my POP music! Is that too much to ask??
6.) "Hello", "Say You, Say Me" - Lionel Richie
So cheesy I can't think of these songs without breaking into tears of pain. And don't even mention that video with the blind girl...
7.) "Get Down" - b-4-4
I'm not entirely convinced b4-4 are human. They look like they should be menacing the Powerpuff Girls. Which makes the fact they sing lines like, "If you get down on me I'll get down on you" to 12 year-olds even more disgusting.
8.)"Piano Man" - Billy Joel
Cringefully bad lyrics. A brief exerpt:
"Now John at the bar is a friend of mine
He gets me my drinks for free
And he's quick with a joke or to light up your smoke
But there's someplace that he'd rather be
He says, ‘Bill, I believe this is killing me.'"
I'd be suicidal too if I had to listen to Billy crank out this drivel every night.
9.) "Roxanne" - The Police
I think Tanya hit the nail on the head with this one. Too bad I can't find the link! Still...excruciating vocals.
10.) "That's What Friends are For" - Dionne and Friends
Burt Bacharach, Dionne Warwick and Stevie Wonder's plummeting careers reach a terrifying climax with this, the audio equivalent of a train crash.
I hadn't the slightest inclination to see Unbreakable until bits and pieces of its plot started to float my way from friends and Roger Ebert. So I took in an afternoon showing today and enjoyed it quite a bit. It was far too slow and sluggish and didn't expand on some of its ideas well enough but it was worth $6.25. Some of the people in the theatre didn't share my opinion. "Well, that was no Sixth Sense," grumbled one person. "Not even close," replied a friend. It made me want to turn around and say, "Does it say Sixth Sense on the poster outside the theatre?" Still, I can see why some would be disappointed. If you're not into comic books it's probably a big waste of time. If you are a comics fan it's an interesting, if flawed, examination of some of the archetypes of the superhero genre. I'd expand on what I mean by "falwed" but I wouldn't want to ruin the movie for anyone.
ChrisKempa.com A beautiful site in memory of Chris. My deepest condolences to his family.