Bobcat Strikes Again

Just when you think he couldn’t get stranger…

Too many people know Bobcat Goldthwait from his lesser accomplishments – several Police Academy films, that screeching banshee voice (too many people missing the great jokes within) and lighting Jay Leno’s chair on fire (in retrospect, something more people wish they did). But Goldthwait, who occasionally returns to the stand-up stage, has made his mark as a television director, and with three unique films in five six , as a screenwriter and filmmaker as well.

It seems like a billion years ago that Bob made Shakes The Clown, “the Citizen Kane of alcoholic clown movies“, but it holds up twenty years later as a raucous and psychotic comedy. If you laughed at the gang-fight in Anchorman, you might want to check out the movie they lifted the idea from.

But while his later movies have been funny, they have mined humor from uncomfortable and disturbing situations. Consider the sick relationship in Sleeping Dogs Lie, the creepy father-son bond of World’s Greatest Dad, and finally this year’s God Bless America, which on first pass sounds like a cross between Repo Man and Natural Born Killers. Goldthwait’s newest film reportedly kicked ass at the Toronto International Film Festival. I can’t wait to see it. (Goldthwait told the L.A. Times that he thought the gun-happy film “was his own Springtime For Hitler”.)

Many people bailed on Bob after it seemed that his career would be a series of loser films like Burglar and Jumping Jack Flash. But Goldthwait, 50 next year, has found his true calling as a filmmaker with a unique voice.

As one of the biggest Kinks fans on the planet I am thrilled that he is making Schoolboys In Disgrace with the full cooperation of Ray Davies. Maybe Bob will get The Kinks the recognition they deserve…and get his own in the process.

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T.G.I.F. – Ten Emmy Guesses

And you thought Justice was blind?

I used to call them predictions, but when you’re wrong this often…

Yes, it is geeky, but I do like award shows. They are often an odd combination of ridiculous pandering with the occasional anomaly which generates a well-deserved career boost. But there are always severe omissions, so I caveat my choices below by stating that who I think should win is limited to the nominees.

Sunday night I’ll be bouncing between a thrilling Falcons/Eagles game and the pomp and circumstance of the 2011 Emmy Awards…where the television industry kisses its own ass. You can follow along here.

So here are Ten Emmy Guesses for Sunday’s spectacle…

(01) – Best Actor, Comedy: Steve Carrell will win, Louis CK should win.

(02) – Best Actress, Comedy: Laura Linney will win, Amy Poehler should win

(03) – Best Supporting Actor, Comedy: Chris Colfer will win, Ty Burrell should win.

(04) – Best Supporting Actress, Comedy: Betty White will win, Julie Bowen should win.

(05) – Best Comedy: Modern Family will win, Parks & Recreation should win.

(06) – Best Actor, Drama: Hugh Laurie will win, Timothy Olyphant should win

(07) – Best Actress, Drama: Julianna Margulies will win…and should.

(08) – Best Supporting Actor, Drama: Peter Dinklage will win, Alan Cumming should win.

(09) – Best Supporting Actress, DramaArchie Panjabi will win, Margo Martindale should win.

(10) – Best Drama: The Good Wife will win…and should.

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The Ballad Of Mott The Hoople

Times like this it pays to be British – or at least have a region-free DVD player!

The long-awaited DVD release of The Ballad Of Mott The Hoople is finally upon us – October in the UK (followed by a November US release). Much like with the Bill Hicks documentary, I’m not waiting.

Video: Trailer for the film

The feature-length documentary also features Mick Jones of The Clash (who cites Mott as a huge influence) and Roger Taylor of Queen (Queen opened for Mott during their famous Broadway residency). It tells the story of the band from beginning up to the original implosion, plus includes the bittersweet coda of the 2009 Hammersmith Apollo reunion gigs.

Amazon UK has it here.

The official film website.

Official Mott website

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Mixtape! Pop’s Out In The Garage Again!

I guess I must have been playing my Sparks albums a lot at the time, given the pun-laden titles for the cassette sides. Oh the folly of innocent youth



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9-11

No American will ever forget where they were on the morning of September 11th ten years ago. Many of us lost people we knew, but the tragedy showed the world how America could put aside race, religion and gender and come together as a people. We saw what real heroes looked like that day, and it’s a shame that the unselfish and giving spirit that came out of tragedy could not have lasted longer than it did. I hope people reflect on that today, while we bow our heads and remember those whose lives were lost and whose families will never be the same.

One of the best things the leaders of the time said was for all of us to get back to our lives; refusing to do so would only mean the terrorists had won. And with the 10th anniversary coming on the opening of the 2011 NFL season (sorry, NFL – Thursday doesn’t count) I plan to spend the afternoon and evening doing something quintessentially American.

What better way to rub the terrorists’ noses in it than to celebrate our freedom?

So fire up the grill, pop open a cold one, put the game on and give those terrorist bastards a twin tower salute of your own.

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Blast From The Past: Everclear

A little over two years ago I regurgitated an old review about the first volume of Everclear’s Songs From An American Movie twin pack, Learning How To Smile. After hearing “When It All Goes Wrong Again” the other day, I decided it was time to unearth the other, which originally ran in Amplifier Magazine eleven years ago.

So without further ado

Aw, anyone could have a bad year…” (“Here We Go Again”)

Double albums used to be a fairly commonplace treat in The Age Of Vinyl, but now they’re as scarce as the green-bearded turtle. How many significant double CDs have been out recently? Wilco’s Being There, and uh…. Hell, these days “prolific” means releasing an album every two years. Record companies – when they do promote your record – will drop your last project like the plague if you issue a follow-up.

Art Alexakis cares passionately about a lot of things, but following the rules isn’t one of them. He planned the two-pronged attack last year with the hope that it would garner some attention, though ironically the success of the first record may get truncated by the emergence of the second. But with his songs all over the radio and his videos the toast of television, Art has a problem most artists would kill for. And with twenty-four new Everclear tracks dropped in our laps, we’re not doing so bad either. The two releases, like Wilco’s two discs, could co-exist as one package or survive independently. Not every track is a keeper, but the percentage is damned high.

Video: “Wonderful

Volume One’s clever homage to youth and the loss of innocence is one of the best releases of 2000, with songs recreated (“Brown Eyed Girl”) and borrowed (“AM Radio” is a tree from the seed of “Mr. Big Stuff”) among a bagful of …gulp….pop songs? Even the crunching riffs of “Wonderful” are offset by the “na-na-na-na-na-na” chorus that’s too infectious to resist, and the string-soaked “Annabella’s Song” (Art’s ode to his daughter) sounds like it was lifted from a classic Hollywood movie. The kitsch of “Unemployed Boyfriend” is a matter of taste, but the acoustic waltz of “The Honeymoon Song” is as delightful as it is surprising. Ditto “Thrift Store Chair”, a sleeper Americana cut with a John Prine (!) reference.

The hardest sounding song on the record might be “Now That It’s Over”, which is really a fat pop hook covered with echoes and John Bonham drum sound. But one look at the imaginative video for “AM Radio” will tell you all you need to know about a man whose life was much closer to Chico And The Man than The Brady Bunch. Alexakis’ heroin-addicted past and intolerance of deadbeat dads are well-known plot lines; perhaps now he can finally find solace in the charms of what should have been a normal childhood.

Video: “When It All Goes Wrong Again

Volume Two’s edge is harder, louder and closer to the classic “Santa Monica” era. The blatant “Rock Star” (“I just want to be a rock star/I just want to get laid”) is probably as true as it is self-mocking. Maybe “Short Blond Hair” is even more telling, where Art claims that “no one really understands just how simple and plain and predictable I am”. Not necessarily true, Art – many critics claim that you’ve been beating the same riff to death for years. The truth actually lies more in the middle – “just when I think I have driven my life to where I wanted it to be/it takes me to a place where I do not want to go”. Everclear was arguably the Band of 2000…so where do you go when you’re “first class living in a goldfish bowl”?

When It All Goes Wrong Again” and “Misery Whip” boast a guitar sound straight outta Jimmy Page (so maybe there should have been a song called “FM Radio”?), and “Slide” and “Babytalk” are as raucous as anything the band has ever recorded. But check out the old softie on “The Good Witch Of The North” and the title track (where he gives closure to the opening track on Volume One), and you see the sentiment from Volume One slipping right back in. Yeah, Art might bitch about asshole ex-wives and loser friends and tripping over his mistakes, but all that pose pales against “the sound of my little girl laughing/through the window of a summer night”.

Everclear survived because they once had nothing to lose, and their anthems for the disaffected rang true with a substantial body of listeners. And even now, with his career a success, Art can still draw inspiration for his songs from a life full of imperfections and missed opportunities. But underneath the bluster of being a rock star, there are a pair of young eyes who will always need him on a different level, and Art knows that he will be “sitting on top when it all goes wrong again“.

Listen to clips and buy at Amazon

Everclear website

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TGIF – Ten Returning Rockers

Rock and Roll will never die…

Yep, it’s that time of year – the pools aren’t even closed yet but the stores have Halloween decorations in the aisles and the ballsy ones even have a few Santa items prepped for display. And in the music industry, where old habits die hard, labels jockey to get product in position for Christmas. If they can market it in September, break it in October and take credit for it in November, history shows that you’ll be wrapping it up in pretty paper in December.

So while the theatres were filled with aliens and vampires and dinosaurs all summer, so too will the virtual record shelves in the fall. So this week’s TGIF announces Ten Returning Rockers who have product – their word for music, not mine – ready to roll.

Roll. They got it half right, anyway.

(01) – WilcoThe Whole Love

(02) – BlondiePanic of Girls

(03) – Ryan AdamsAshes & Fire

(04) – Tom WaitsBad As Me

(05) – Sly StoneI’m Back

(06) – The JayhawksMockingbird Time

(07) – Daryl HallLaughing Down Crying

(08) – The BanglesSweetheart of The Sun

(09) – Lindsey BuckinghamSeeds We Sow

(10) – Nick LoweThe Old Magic

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