Sunday, January 31, 2010

2009 Recap - Bad Indie Rock Press Photos

I've complained about indie bands' press photos before. To summarize, the death of radio means that we now lay eyes on a band's photos before we hear their music, which means these photos take on a new importance, because we judge them with our eyes before hearing their sound.

Here are a few press photos that provoked a response so negative that I avoided their music:

A Weather (via Pop Tarts Suck Toasted)
Aww! They're cuddled up in fleece! I can't wait to hear their record to see how their drowsiness translates sonically -- although I hear their sleeping is a lot better live.

Capgun Coup (via I Guess I'm Floating)
Only a few of their members are fake-asleep for this photo, so I guess they're a slight improvement.

Warpaint (via Pop Tarts Suck Toasted)
Psst! Ladies! Quick, get out of there while Charles Manson is napping! C'mon, hurry! You teenage runaways shoud be familiar with the concept of escape!

Freelance Whales (via I Guess I'm Floating)
Is it more pretentious to take your press photo in the subway, prominently featuring your banjo, one-man-bandish bass drum, and glockenspiel, or...

Hey Mersailles (via Stereogum)
Is it more pretentious to dress up like prep schoolers, take a French name, and feature a trumpet, violin, and glockenspiel?

Uglysuit (via Stereogum)
These guys look silly enough without Colonel Sanders playing a walking stick like a guitar.

Family Band (via Stereogum)
Oh, you're in the woods, too? No instruments? You just got done burying the bodies? Cool.

Why (via Sixeyes)
(Actually, I have no objection to this photo. I just wanted everyone to see what Dave Attell would look like with a 'fro.)

Oberhofer (via Pop Tarts Suck Toasted)
This guy is like Shia LaBeouf crossed with Tim Robbins' world-music-loving character from "High Fidelity".

You You're Awesome (via I Guess I'm Floating)
Uh, no.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

2009 Recap - Albums

Purchased or heard 2009 albums, from most enjoyable to least:

Franz Ferdinand - Tonight: Franz Ferdinand
M Ward - Hold Time
Neko Case - Middle Cyclone
An Horse - Rearrange Beds
Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Tegan and Sara - Sainthood
U2 - No Line on the Horizon
Thao with the Get Down Stay Down - Know Better Learn Faster
Samantha Crain & the Midnight Shivers - Songs in the Night

//--** Line of Met Expectations **--\\

Monsters of Folk - s/t
Fiery Furnaces - I'm Going Away

* * *

Prior to 2009, I had bought very little music online. Throughout the year, I spent $69.27 on mp3 files via Amazon and Lala - four single tracks and the following albums:

Franz Ferdinand - Tonight: Franz Ferdinand
U2 - Joshua Tree (Remastered)*
U2 - No Line on the Horizon*
Samantha Crain & the Midnight Shivers - Songs in the Night
John Fogerty - The Ultimate John Fogerty / Creedence Collection (Remastered)*
Fiery Furnaces - I'm Going Away*
Monsters of Folk - s/t*
Zombies - Odessey & Oracle*
Tegan and Sara - Sainthood
Thao with the Get Down Stay Down - Know Better Learn Faster
Spoon - Kill the Moonlight*
Spoon - Girls Can Tell*

*denotes sale price - from $2.99 to $5.99, but usually right at $3.99

I bought An Horse's "Rearrange Beds" for $10 at their concert.

Very early in the year, I visited a local independent record shoppe to purchase Neko Case's "Middle Cyclone". I chose to purchase the physical CD because I knew I could get 10% off through a sort-of advertised sale. I paid about $14.

Prior to 2009, I wouldn't have thought much of paying $14 for a new (and very good) CD like this, but the transaction left a bad taste in my mouth. Amazon had Neko's digital album on sale for $5 during most of the year. I like records stores as much as the next person, but I can't justify spending more than double to keep them in business.

Similarly, I can't figure out what these businesses are doing with their stock of used CDs. The CD is still alive, its death is near. In a world where only a small minority want a new CD, very few people are interested in used CDs. Used CDs are junk. Consumers, myself included, are happy to part with discs in exchange for less clutter around the home and cents on the dollar -- we're not really giving up anything anyway, as we've archived the songs on a hard drive.

So if you're a junk salesman, selling junk that you paid $1 for, why does your physical junk cost $8 to $10, the same as iTunes' digital property? Yes, going to a cool record shop and flipping through jewel cases is kind of fun, but it's only fun IF I can find something I want, and IF I'm getting a bargain. Used CDs need to be priced at 5 bucks or less if you expect me to get off the couch to MAYBE find something I want.

Ugh. Anyway, despite these problems, nostalgia coerced me into three used CD purchases in '09:

Liz Phair - Exile in Guyville (Remastered)
Smashing Pumpkins - Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
U2 - Achtung Baby

Thus ends another recap of interest to no one but myself buy hey what do you expect it's my blog yo.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


I've been watching since I was able. I planned my first trip to New York City around when I could attend a Late Night taping. It will not surprise you to learn I've been pretty bummed this past week.

Conan signed the agreement to move to The Tonight Show right around the time I started being a professional scientist. 2009 seemed like a long time to wait until I could watch him live without being exhausted the next day. The transition finally came, and it was glorious -- and now all this.

Growing up, my house always watched channel 3, the NBC affiliate's local news. I do not know why. But if the clock struck 9:59 and we were tuned elsewhere, we made a point to get up, MANUALLY turn the channel to NBC, and watch their news. So this current situation with Conan makes no sense to me.

I can't fathom is how this disaster is related to lead-in audiences. The television principal of a lead-in audience states that you need to keep your viewers engaged so that they won't turn the channel, even after their program is over. Ratings go down during Leno's prime time show, so ratings go down for local affiliates' late news broadcasts.


As usual, I'm left to wonder who the fuck I'm sharing these United States with. When I watched "The Office" and "30 Rock" in the past, I NEVER ONCE stuck around to see what John Stamos was doing on "ER", no matter how many "ER" ads NBC snuck into my programs of interest. This is because digital cable tells you exactly what is on every channel, and because every television manufactured since 1990 comes with a remote control, and because I come with A FUCKING BRAIN IN MY HEAD.

Do I share an America with people that have no interest in finding the show that most matches their interest? Does everyone really just leave the TV set on and hope something good shows up? "Well, I've never seen it before, and I'm not really one for crime procedurals, but I'm gonna give 'The Mentalist' a shot. I'd hate to spend 30 seconds to find something better by using this remote control in my hand."

And let me ask you this, local affiliates? How good are your newscasts? Are you cool?

How LAME IS YOUR SHIT that you have to count on the lead-in show for anyone to tune in? Your broadcasts are the weakest, most stale wastes of broadcast airtime in existence. You never break important stories. YOU SPEND TEN MINUTES DISCUSSING THE WEATHER WHEN YOU COULD DO IT IN TWO MINUTES. Your sports beat has been rendered useless by ESPN. Your EVERYTHING has been rendered useless by the internet.

Listen: I am not a journalist. I could be way off base. But maybe, instead of complaining about the low numbers Leno pulls in, you could THINK OF INNOVATIVE IDEAS TO ATTRACT A DEDICATED AUDIENCE.

Ugh. You are all the worst. Everyone is the worst.

Conan, I miss you already and I hope I see you soon.

Monday, January 18, 2010

2009 Recap - Printed Words

(In chronological order)

Fever Pitch
How much do I like Nick Hornby? Enough to read his reflections on soccer. I have no interest in the sport, and was surprised find much of it interesting -- much of Fever Pitch can be related to sports fandom in general.

More Information Than You Require
I loved John Hodgman's first book. I thought it was so funny that I transcribed a bit of it. Jeff (Texas Jeff, not Minnesota Jeff) read it too, and we talked about it one night. He said, "I liked it, but after I read it I thought, 'What was the point of that?'". Perhaps this sequel book of fake facts was less funny than the original, or perhaps Jeff's argument precluded continued enjoyment of such nonsense.

The Wordy Shipmates (Audiobook)
I have experienced all but one of Sarah Vowell's books through auditory means. I will always associate this one with driving to and from work in spring of '09, when I was going in on weekends and my mind and timesheet both reflected overtime. This mostly bland history of the Puritan colonies was a good way to shut of my brain and zone out -- probably the first time in history someone used tales of the Massachusetts Bay Colony to unwind.

The Beautiful and Damned
I started this Fitzgerald novel on my 30th birthday, right when Kim was moving in. What better time to read about a aimless, assholish male in my age group who struggles to win a bride, then disintegrates under the lightness of his own being? It's lesser Fitzgerald, but still quite good. And it may make you re-think how far society as truly regressed - here were Ivy Leaguers of the 1920s, sitting around hotel ballrooms, drinking, trying to score, (some of them) putting off adulthood, (some of them) living off inherited wealth. What has changed in American youth culture in the last century, other than we now film this behavior for television broadcasts?

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
This was the first "airport book" I've read. I assume reading it was similar to reading a Ludlum Bourne novel or what have you. I was somewhat surprised to see the appeal of an action-oriented book -- I always assumed the wiser move was to wait to see Matt Damon kicking ass with a rolled-up magazine and exploding shit with a toaster plus a magazine, rather than to read about an explosion. "And then the whole place blew up. PCHHSSSSOOOMMM!!! Jason Bourne leapt into the air as he jumped away from the fireball. 'That was a close one,' he said lustily to his very attractive female companion." Yuck, right?

Wrong, it turns out. Kind of. This book is a mystery with occasional doses of action throw in, so I guess my Bourne comparison was dumb. If only this keyboard had a delete key. Anyways...
I was as caught-up in page-turning during this novel as I ever have been. At its best, it was wildly entertaining. Upon finishing, though, the experience had soured. Friends who've also read it have shared similar feelings. Spoiler-laden dialogue with Alipete begins now - skip to the next novel recap if you like:
The first 20-30 pages were a jumble of legal/business terms, Swedish lingo and European history nonsense. Bo-ring. But this Vander guy just dropped the murder bomb, so, like our boy Blomkvist, I'm intrigued. And enough with the misspellings. Am I right?

I was very confused why they translated every word except for “Jail”. There’s one spot where the translation is “Tinker’s Cuss”, instead of the correct “Tinker’s Damn”.'s starting to get better. Salander, man. What a badass.

...Oh man, it's really getting good. I had to stop reading for the night because I was afraid it'd give me nightmares. It still might...

You’re in love with Lisabeth. You’re going to get a dragon tattoo and pierce everything. And move to Sweden.

I have something like 20 pages to go. I stayed up much too late reading last night despite my fears of nightmares and night-time intruders. Man, this book got twisted. Anyway, I'll probably finish on my trainride home.

Since you’re almost done, I’ll begin my questioning: Did it bother you that Blomquist gradually turned into James Bond, and Salander the female equivalent of James Bond? I would have preferred our heroes had fewer superpowers.

What, specifically, are you thinking of? I liked Blomkist's detective work -- piecing together clues with the photos, tracking down random people from the parade, etc. Totally far-fetched, but pretty clever. I thought Salander's "skills" were a let-down. So she's a hacker? Big deal. Early on, Armansky set up her "gift" to be something great, and I was imagining some sort of mystic intuition. But she can copy a hard drive. Great. The photographic memory twist was OK. And I still do not completely understand what she was doing traipsing around in fake disguises. Stealing Wennerstrom's money, I assume?

Note: I may not be able to interpret your question correctly, as I have never seen a James Bond movie and do not know what he's capable of.

“James Bond” is a British spy, known for his cunning, wit, sophistication, and charm. He sleeps with several women in every book/film, usually because they throw themselves at him, but sometimes he forces himself upon them (see Goldfinger. No, really, you should see Goldfinger. Or Casino Royale, at the very least. Jump in on this reboot, kid.). But you can ignore that last part in regard to the Blomquist comparison.

Being Sweden’s greatest hacker AND having a photographic memory AND being a master of disguise seemed a bit much to me. I thought the story was more compelling when they both were more “normal”.

Done! This James Bond fellow sounds intriguing; maybe I'll give him a chance.

Is it just me, or did the book totally fall off the rails after the Vanger mystery was solved? Blomkvist telling his magazine staff to pretend as if they're going under just to dupe some guy? Please. That was ridiculous. And having our girl Salander fall in love?? Sure, it was great that she made some emotional breakthroughs, but come on.

The end of the book was a wreck, which is especially strange since it’s the first of a trilogy. Do we have anything else to say about this book? Is this book club over? It was fun while it lasted.

Agreed. Book club over.

Elliott Smith's XO
This was a "I need a cheap item to qualify for free Amazon shipping" purchase. It turns out there isn't a lot of interesting things to say about how one of my favorite albums was recorded, so the author spends most of the book attempting to interpret Smith's lyrics. Even for me, a guy who enjoys lyrics, a gentleman that fails to find the meanings of even my favorite songs, this book is pretty unnecessary.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Searchin' USA

Last week, I noticed two interesting search queries that led to this ol' blog.

The first was from Google Portugal: "handjobs bomber jacket". Stay classy, Portugal!

The second was from Google's mobile search: "reacharound bra handjob". I'd poke fun at that individual, but I think we've all been rushed, on the go, with important reacharound fantasies to fetch via Blackberry.

NO HANDJOB POSTS forthcoming planned, but stay tuned for my recaps of 2009's lyrics, music, and books, plus some stupid indie bands' press photos.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Hangover 2: Still Hung Over

Back when Floyd was still alive, you may have read about our thoughts on "The Hangover"
dn: when is the Vegas, Baby! shit going to be played out?

Floyd: God, no shit

dn: I mean, they’re talking about a sequel to the Hangover already

Floyd: enough. enough with Vegas

dn: it’d have to be somewhere exotic to work. So I’m guessing Dubai?

Floyd: Singapore. Thailand

dn: Thailand, yeah

Floyd: that place has no laws. except have fun and don’t talk to the sex slaves

When /Film posted the news that the sequel would indeed be set in Thailand, Floyd and I exchanged emails while simultaneously performing our jobs perfectly and without disruption:

dn: We called it

Floyd: This actually made me feel a little smarter. Let's write a screenplay. We obviously have our finger on Hollywood's pulsating boner.

dn: I wonder if they’ll bother casting the groom from the first film? That guy is really inessential. The baby had a bigger role than he did.

Floyd: I think a good opening scene would be the three guys in a cage with water up to their necks, while the groom is upstairs being forced to play Russian Roulette. BANG! He loses. Guys scream, audience laughs, splash "HANGOVER 2: STILL HUNG OVER" and start intro music, which should probably be "Sabotage" or something.

dn: They spend the rest of the movie trying to piece together how they were captured by the Vietcong, why the Vietcong still exists, and how they can convince the Vietcong to let them escape with their lives. And also, why the Vietcong are in Thailand.

Floyd: Also, prostitutes. And "Bangkok" jokes. Probably opium abuse. And I'm pretty sure the Asian guy from the first one (who is hilarious in Community, IMO) makes an appearance as the leader of the New Vietcong or something. This thing writes itself.

dn: Wow. Well, you did it. That was indeed very easy, and I would be shocked if Ken Jeong wasn’t the reason they traveled to Thailand. I guess we can flesh this out a little more. One-hit wonder “One Night in Bangkok” plays during a montage of crazy nightlife, including a live [redacted since I’m at work] show featuring [redacted] smoking cigarettes and shooting ping pong balls out of their [redacted]. They lose a lot of money betting on chicken fights, so Bradley Cooper has to enter a Muay-Thai Bloodsport-style tournament to win enough money to get back home (or to get their beloved friend out of an underwater Vietcong torture cage.

Floyd: Those ideas seem obvious as well. Good job. During the bloodsport fight, I'm pretty sure that somehow Zach G. gets hit in face in a recreation of the Mike Tyson scene. Also, Mike Tyson inexplicably reappears to save the guys and win the bloodsport fight. I'm pretty sure that Zach G. a chicken at some point as well, or something along those lines. Maybe this time the guys actually buy a baby. And they visit a brothel, and Ed Helms, in an opiate daze, goes in to see his prostitute, AND IT'S HEATHER GRAHAM AGAIN.

dn: I’ve consulted Wikipedia for more plot points. I’m pretty sure this is what Hollywood does, too.

“Thailand is one of the most devoutly Buddhist countries in the world.”

They guys visit during a religious period when an old Buddhist prophet predicted the reincarnation (or whatever) of Buddha. Zach G, with is small stature and pot belly, is thought by locals to be this reincarnation. It’s a hilarious case of mistaken identity! He is treated like a God, it goes to his head, and demands outrageous things from the good people of Thailand. Instead of their superstition of cats bringing good luck, he changes it to a wolf howling at the moon, etc. Also, there is a running joke about the phallic shape of the Wat Arun temple.

“The Surin Elephant Round-up usually takes place on the third weekend of November in Surin province, Isan, Thailand. The event consists of a series of shows displaying the strength and skill of the animals, such as football games and tugs of war.”

The guys wake up to find an elephant in their hotel room.

Floyd: Well, I'm pretty sure we have at least an hour and a half scripted out. I'll go pick out matching Ferraris if you want to take this thing to Fedex so we can get started on our new careers as hotshot Hollywood writers. I call dibs on ScoJo.

Monday, January 04, 2010

2009 Recap - Motion Pictures

Hey! I didn't pay to see any shitty movies this year! Success! ("Leatherheads". 2008. Never Forget.)

Theater Viewing

I Love You, Man
Paul Rudd shows everyone how difficult it can be for dudes to make friends with other dudes. It feels like this movie came out three years ago. I remember laughing despite all the Rush in the soundtrack.

So, I guess Jesse Eisenberg and Kristin Stewart are really good actors? I didn't see that one coming. This was advertised as a summer romp, but it's really a character-driven coming-of-age tale. Very well done.

Star Trek
There is nothing to say that Floyd and I have not already said. Twice.

The Hangover
I watched this by myself in downtown Buffalo. It's become the highest grossing R-rated comedy ever. Floyd and I have discussed it in detail. They're going to make a sequel - I will post a new Floyd chat on this development later this week.

Inglorious Basterds
Initially, I didn't know what to think about it. I liked it, but finding the subtext of films has never been my strong point. So I just use this Videogum comment as my interpretation:
Basically, it's not a movie about World War II. It's entirely about movies and how film affects and distorts the way we look pretty much everything (but violence and justice especially). So the intended effect of the movie is go get the viewer cheering the heroes torture and slaughter Nazis, and then on the way home question whether we should be cheering at really over the top violence. It's like Funny Games, but less judgmental. And there are all these other situations that explore how characters can't really distinguish between life and the movies: how the British send a film expert to France as a spy, or how Zoller assumes he can win over Shoshanna by acting like a romantic comedy hero, or how Hitler sees a film premier as this really pivotal moment. So the ultimate effect of the movie is to set up all these fantasies and subvert the shit out of them. And then the movie explores how film acts as social glue (in the bar scene where the spy's cover is basically his knowledge of film) or as a weapon (really obvious) or a deadening influence (the Nazis don't hear all the gunshots because the movie they're watching has a bunch of gunshots). So the message of the movie is "here are your fantasies. how do you feel about them?"

Jason Bateman makes extract, wants to cheat on his wife with Mila Kunis. Funny. The plot is not perfect, but you shouldn't worry about the plot of Mike Judge films -- it's more about the overall message. I walked out of the movie wanting to be a better worker, which was a very odd feeling.

The Informant!
Matt Damon gained a lot of weight to play a guy who informs the FBI of agribusiness wrongdoings. Funny and interesting. But as Doug Benson points out, why did Matt Damon have to gain weight? Couldn't a businessman be in good shape? And why cast all-star comedians like Patton Oswalt and Paul F Tompkins to play characters with no funny lines?

I am disappointed in everyone, because no one insisted I see this -- I had to find its hilarity all by myself. Oh well, at least that kept the celebrity cameo a secret for me.

An Education
A British teen is seduced by Peter Sarsgaard. I like every coming-of-age tale ever made, and everything Nick Hornby has ever done, so of course I liked this. If it was set in Cleveland and had a homely lead actress, it would be forgettable.

The Fantastic Mr. Fox
"Rushmore" is my favorite movie, and while I've watched all of Wes Anderson's output I have not loved all of it. Dainty stop-animation? I was prepared for the worst. But it was the best! Or pretty close to the best! Even the twee, loud-speaking college freshman down the aisle couldn't detract from its whimsy.

Home Theater Viewing

The Brothers Bloom
Mark Ruffalo and Adrien Brody are con men, and Rachel Weisz gets involved. It's funny, there are a lot of plot twists, and the action occurs in several beautiful, far-off places. Not perfect, but a lot of fun.

Observe and Report
Seth Rogen is an idiot mall cop. A lot of people won't (or don't) think this is a funny movie, but if you like "The Foot Fist Way" or "Eastbound and Down" -- both also about masculine idiots with few redeeming qualities -- you'll like this too.

An enjoyable enough caper, but Julia Roberts? Weren't we done with her? Can we be?

Funny People
I was prepared for this movie to stink, but I liked it, even though it was long, and even though the second half featured fewer jokes. Despite one or two flaws, at least half of a very good movie, plus Jason Schwartzman's "Yo Teach" shorts.

Away We Go
Jim from "The Office" and Maya Rudolph from "Fucking PT Anderson" go on a road trip looking for the perfect place yo settle down. There are enough funny lines to make up for the permeating and sometimes nauseating indie heart.

500 Days of Summer
My former love Zooey and the always great JGL have a quirky relationship. This was okay. I suppose it should be applauded for being a non-generic rom-com, but it should also be mocked for its indie vintage costume design. I mean, I'm distracted from the plot when I'm constantly berating Joseph Gordon-Levitt's vests and cardigans.

District 9
I expected more from it based on the good reviews, and based on the fact there are aliens in it. Sure, I was entertained, but what was going on with the structure? Is this a faux-documentary or not? Both? You can do that? Apparently you can do that.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Twenty Ten

I can't recall what song this was, but I know I played that bongo with perfect rythym.

Good times.
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