Monthly Archives: October 2010

Happy Halloween!

Unlike Frank Zappa’s famous record label, this is not a Barking Pumpkin.

Nor is this Elvis pumpkin called “Nearer My Gourd To Thee“.

Happy Halloween!

Stay scary, San Diego.

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Rally To Restore Sanity and/or Fear

Schedule as of Friday; for updates, click here.

If you can’t be in Washington DC, find a local gathering.

PRE-PRE SHOW — 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Video montages/music will play on the Jumbotrons around the venue to entertain the crowd as they gather.

PRESHOW — 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

12:00 – 12:40 — THE ROOTS will play for the crowd.

12:40 – 12:57 — Comedian (TBD) will warm-up the audience.

12:57 – 1:00 — Video countdown & intros

SHOW — 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

1:00 – 1:05 SINGING OF THE NATIONAL ANTHEM — Musical guest (TBD)

1:05 – 1:20 JON STEWART welcomes the crowd

1:20 – 1:30 STEPHEN COLBERT enters

1:30 – 1:35 BENEDICTION by actor Don Novello

1:35 – 1:40 POEM read by actor Sam Waterston

1:40 – 1:50 JEFF TWEEDY & MAVIS STAPLES perform

1:50 – 2:15 JON & STEPHEN perform

2:15 – 2:20 SHERYL CROW performs

2:20 – 2:30 SPEAKERS Guests make brief statements, both LIVE and TAPE (TBD)

2:30 – 2:40 MUSICAL GUEST (TBD)

2:40 – 2:40 SANITY & FEAR awards – PRETAPED footage.

2:50 – 3:00 JON AND STEPHEN’S FINAL STATEMENTS

3:00 – ???  SANITY RESTORED IN AMERICA

(Let’s hope that last one lasts at least until Wednesday…)

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T.G.I.F. – Ten Tips For Sanity

Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” (JFK)

You’d probably guess that I’m not a staunch right-wing Republican, but if you have me pegged as a radical left-leaning Democrat you’d be just as wrong. I’ve been an Independent since the age of 18, and while that prevents me from voting in the primaries for the two major parties, it hasn’t stopped both of them from peppering my phone, my email, and my daily life with a flood of nonsensical negative advertising. Really, people – is anyone swayed by these ridiculous scare tactics? If anything it makes me want to avoid the booth on Election Day…but I suspect that’s just what they want.

How sad is it that the only rational bi-partisan discussions of the issues are occurring on a comedy channel? And how ironic is it that the most trusted newsman in America – a title long held by Walter Cronkite – is now Jon Stewart…who is not a newsman?

While I’m no hardcore conspiracy theorist, I do believe that corporations have become more powerful than countries, for they are single-minded beasts focused upon their own survival and they will eat their young to accomplish this. And yes, in a world where money doesn’t talk – it screams – I firmly believe that there are many movers and shakers perfectly content to keep us fat, drunk and happy in front of our televisions and game consoles. The literacy rate in America is frighteningly low, and the isolation of our people through the very technology that was supposed to make our lives better is absolutely terrifying. And there are many who will feed on that weakness to instill fear and panic. And yes, they will eat us if we let them.

I’m amazed at how brazen some of our political crooks have been, and almost as shocked at how dim-witted some of our most popular political wanna-bes are. The job of President has changed from trusted leader to blame victim, where the rocks fly at the pedestal before the winner is even sworn in. I don’t believe that George Bush was an evil man, just a guy in way over his head who was being controlled by more sinister people on the background. And no, Obama is not the Anti-Christ, just a guy trying to solve a dozen crippling problems at once with a lack of support and not enough time. Our problems didn’t appear overnight, and it will take a while to rectify them.

But there is Fox News, spouting hyperbole through the mouths of con artists like Limbaugh and Beck and religious zealots like Hannity. And on the other side, Olbermann and Maddow swat down their foolishness with the same slanted logic and carefully chosen arguments, just from the other side of the coin. Both Fox and MSNBC trot out a legion of experts and analysts who are simply echoing the party lines, and this madness is just escalated to that much more white noise when elections draw near.

Enough!

If you made it this far, you can read and think, and that’s a lot more credit than you are getting from the panic media. So as we approach this important mid-term election, I encourage you to do just that – read and think – and make up your own mind. Refuse to honor these negative ads. Look at a candidate’s statements and accomplishments. Challenge blanket bullshit statements like “I will cut taxes” and “I will create jobs” – ask how! And then when you get in that booth, enjoy that freedom that our forefathers fought so hard to attain.

Tomorrow is the Rally To Restore Sanity and/or Fear at the Mall in Washington DC. Maybe there’s one final chance for people to stop listening to the fringe maniacs and realize what we already know – most of us are sane, logical, caring people who love our country and way of life and are tired of being lied to and taken for granted. Whether you learned the lesson 234 years ago or you learned it this decade, remember that we stand together or we perish.

Here are Ten Tasteful Themes for your rally signs…don’t fall for those political Jedi mind tricks!

Let’s keep the scares limited to Halloween where they belong.


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Gearing Up For Team Coco

The Wait is almost over...

Some days the press release is all you need…

Following the extremely successful “Live Coco Cam,” a 24-hour look behind-the-scenes at the Conan offices, Conan O’Brien is letting his fans in on the ultimate warm-up for his new TBS show. O’Brien will host “Show Zero” on Monday, Nov. 1, at 11 p.m. (ET)/ 8 p.m. (PT). “Show Zero” will be triple-simulcast, streaming on TeamCoco.com,YouTube.com, and Facebook.com.

Show Zero” will feature celebrity guests, elements of “The Basic Cable Band” and Andy Richter as they help O’Brien warm up for the main event. It will originate from the Conaco Production offices at Warner Bros. studios in Burbank. TBS’s Conan premieres Monday, Nov. 8, at 11 p.m. (ET/PT). 

As The Replacements once sang, I Can’t Hardly Wait.

Get Back To Where You Once Belonged

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Glee Whiz

Not with a bang, but a whimper…

I should have known better than to have been too jazzed to see the cast of Glee take on Rocky Horror. Like many, I fell for the promo clips and well-distributed cast photos and falsely assumed that they would really take a…um…bite out of the classic musical. And when the show opened with those lips and almost a full take on “Dammit Janet“, I thought maybe they were going to really pull out the stops this time. It’s not like there is a shortage of great songs in that show – hell, they’re all great.

But sadly, the sappy melodrama that is Mr. Schuester dragged the whole thing down into the mess that is his character’s personal life. I’m not certain what the motivation is behind that character arc, but what was once a sympathetic and likeable character has quickly become a wimp, a loser, and finally, a cad. If they’re trying to tell us that even an adult can suffer like a high school student, stop – we get it. Lately when Jane Lynch isn’t shredding the room with her Sue Sylvester quips, there are only two reasons to watch the show these days, and they’re named Kurt and Brittany. Chris Colfer and Heather Morris never fail to hit it out of the park. More of them, please, before it’s too late.

Frankly, the best moment of the night was having the camera pan past Barry Bostwick and MeatLoaf (for those who don’t know, they played Brad and Eddie in the film). A more courageous show would have left it right there, a perfect sight gag, much like the camera panning by The Three Stooges in fireman gear in It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World. Instead they tried to milk it in a follow-up scene where they played soulless network execs trying to stir controversy out of the production. Amusing, yes, but an overplayed hand.

Not that the casting matchups were bad. Lea Michele aped Susan Sarandon’s voice (as opposed to her usual Streisand channeling) but was overshadowed by Cory Monteith’s dorky take on Brad (not far from his Finn character). Chord Overstreet (yes, that’s a real name) looks so much like the original Rocky character it’s as if he was hired just for this episode.

In the line of the night, Artie suggests that he plays “the guy in the wheelchair”, and John Stamos even got to wear his Elvis “Comeback Special” catsuit and belt out “Hot Patootie” (in B flat, mind you!). And while Amber Riley (Mercedes) flexed her always-great pipes on “Sweet Transvestite”, the modernization of the song (let alone the neutered lyrics) fell flat.

Overall the ensemble did a nice job on “Time Warp”, with Santana and Brittany frighteningly well cast as Magenta and Columbia, and Kurt finally got to flaunt a little Riff Raff. But did we really need the downright creepy scene between Scheuster and Emma in place of remakes of classic scenes from the film, let alone full versions of the songs? Not only was it completely out of character for Emma to behave as she did, but thanks to that lame subplot we never got to hear “Rose Tint My World” or “Eddie” or “I’m Going Home”. (Remember, the rule is more Kurt and Brittany…)

So a couple of bright spots, but mostly underwhelming. Hey, if they could suck it up and go to the wall for Madonna, they could have paid just as much respect to Rocky Horror. Just sayin’.

Lesson learned again – like most times, stick with the originals. And if you can’t do that…well. it’s midnight somewhere – get thee to a theatre!

The Rocky Horror ShowOriginal cast soundtrack

Rocky Horror Picture ShowOriginal film soundtrack

Yes, that was Santana.

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Under The Radar: The Lovelies

According to a promo blurb, The Lovelies formed in Austin, Texas in the 90’s, headed up by Liv Lovely (aka Liv Mueller). The band saw a few lineup changes and garnered a lot of attention following a move to Milwaukee. The group disbanded with the last lineup as Barb Enders on bass and Damain Stringes playing drums. You might come across a Euro band with the same name, but these Lovelies were a female fronted band.

I first caught up with them years ago with White Leather, their album on the Force MP label. In addition to the references below, if you’re into bands like The Eyeliners, The Gore Gore Girls or even 80s bands like The Photos, you’ll probably like a lot of this.

Here’s my review from Yeah Yeah Yeah in 2003:


Okay, so sue me; upon first look at Liv and Barb Lovely I thought “Blondie times two!” before I even slipped the cd into the player. (Bulletin to whomever designed the user-unfriendly digipak that almost caused me to snap the cd in half – what were you thinking?) But it turns out that I’m not so far off the mark – maybe Veruca Salt with better chops?

White Leather is a good balance of stripped-down alterna-pop and catchy three-chord rock and often captures the same juxtaposition of pouting sexuality and power pop chops that made Ms. Harry and company instantly accessible. Occasional clunkers (“Tommy”) aside, many strong cuts like “In Over My Head”, “Constellation” and “I Want Your Love” stick on first listen, and Liz Lovely’s pipes can sell just about anything. Nothing overtly commercial, good versatility and obvious conviction.

Maybe this is the record that Liz Phair fans thought they were going to get?

Listen for yourself at Amazon.

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New Album! Tom Jones

No blame, just praise.

When Johnny Cash hooked up with Rick Rubin to make the inspired series of albums known as the American Recordings, he proved that a talented artist could reinvent himself beyond a lifelong public perception. But where Cash had a long legacy of artistic credibility to go along with his popular success, Tom Jones was known for his booming voice and the collection of underwear tossed at his feet.

No one expected that he’d issue a stark blues and gospel album, and I’m certain that nobody predicted he’d release an album that is a serious contender for the best record of the year.

Surprise.

Fronting a stripped down sound often comparable to the chunk and thwack of The White Stripes, Jones has created a spiritual journey that begins soft and subtle, surfs the River Styx and ascends towards the heavens before leaving the listener by the doorstep with a personal challenge. In other words, Jones not only got around on that fastball, he crushed it.

Jones, at seventy, still possesses those powerful pipes and sounds absolutely rejuvenated on these selections. The myriad of well chosen songs taps the songbooks of Bob Dylan, Pops Staples,  Billy Joe Shaver and John Lee Hooker, whose “Burning Hell” is punctuated by greasy slide guitar and the guttural bark and howl of the singer. I saw him do this live with just a drummer and guitar player as accompaniment and it was riveting.

Sometimes people release an album outside their wheelhouse to be trendy and widen their audience. I don’t know Jones personally nor can I speak for his religious beliefs (or lack thereof). But I can tell you that after listening to this forty minute sermon, I’m converted.

Go listen to clips and judge for yourself.

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