Here's my review of the David Banner disc. People seem to get a kick out of the tone I took -- sorta serious, but with the actual song titles providing the needed contrast. It's the third review in the string.
Now, I've been an HSX geek since the '90s (I'm still kicking around the top 10,000, even though I stopped paying day-to-day attention a couple of summers ago), and I'm doing pretty well in the IMX spinoff (I'm somewhere in the top 1,300). But I would've crushed ass on the DARPA thing (also here). I realize why all the big-brained hand-wringers were nervous about the idea, but now that it's gone, I'm feeling a little let down. Movies? Music? They ain't nothing when you're bettin' on armageddon, brothers and sisters. Now that's entertainment.
So we were running some errands last night, and we had one of the local NPR stations on in the background. The afternoon jazz show had given way to a classic radio broadcast. It was Jack Benny and Bing Crosby, but at first, Katherine thought it was Bob Hope. "Bob Hope must have died," she said. I said, "No, I think that's Jack Benny." Bob Hope died this morning. He wasn't dead when we were talking about him last night. Of course, any time you're talking about a 100-year-old dude, there's always the possibility that he might die within 12 hours. (Side note: If you do a Google search for "Bob Hope is not funny," you don't get any hits. Well, except maybe this page.)
Because I'm a total moron, I review lots of bad records. In the process of reviewing these bad records, I sometimes have to visit the Web sites of the crappy bands that make the bad records. Alas, Web sites for major-label rock bands are a wasteland of overcooked Flash animation, dumb visual themes, gothed-out logos, weak contests and giveaways, annoying title screens, and oppressive streaming audio. Sometimes you just wanna get some information, y'know? Oh well. Enjoy:
Shinedown (added July 25!)
Smile Empty Soul
Stereomud (added July 25!)
In a piece about Saddam's sons, CNN's Christiane Amanpour just used the phrase "byzantine labyrinth of power." Finally, I have the title of my yet-to-be-completed autobiography. Seriously, though, I'm learning a lot about power and influence lately, and all the crap that comes with it. I have no power, per se, but I'm starting to understand that it requires complicated maintenance, not just charisma, hard work, legal legitimacy or a focused message. Pure influence, however, of the kind not necessarily coupled with power, seems more romantic, and that might be where I'm a sucker for romance. I've always craved influence instead of power -- it's not necessarily a traditionally manly way to live (power, holmes, power!), but it's not necessarily a weak way to live, either. Lots of people want to be the guy in charge; such a goal is easier to comprehend, especially in a society where the accumulation of power often requires only an adherance to a specific path. I want to be the guy whom the top dog can't ignore. Back to your regularly scheduled program. Here's a picture of some gibbons.
I forget who they used to pitch the veg lifestyle last year, but I don't think it was a Playmate. The least they could do is make the bikini out of little vegan chocolate donuts. Oh well. From PETA.org:
PLAYBOY’S MISS JULY 2002 HOSTS CAPITOL HILL VEGGIE HOT-DOG LUNCH FOR PETA
Bikini-Clad Pinup’s Congressional Cookout Makes Big Pig-Business Interests Squeal
Wearing a skimpy bikini made of lettuce leaves, Playboy magazine’s 23-year-old Miss July 2002, vegetarian Lauren Anderson, and her PETA Lettuce Lady® pal plan to whet appetites as they greet legislators and staffers at PETA’s lively veggie-dog party. This year marks the seventh annual “Veggie Hot Dog Lunch” that PETA has hosted in the nation’s capital, and each year, the lines get longer.
The steel cage match I'd pay to see: Philip "Modern Manners" Howard of the The Times of London vs. Randy "The Ethicist" Cohen of The New York Times. The advantage goes to Cohen, because one can fight ferociously and still fight ethically. Manners, on the other hand, would preclude certain fighting techniques, no matter how necessary they might be.
It's no wonder that the average TV conservative still has no clue about where hip-hop fits into the American psyche. Check out how rap music handles one bastion of French culture: cognac. We've all heard the Hennessy songs; the French don't like 'em, but they like the free marketing and the resulting extra income. The Bill O'Reillys of the tube world would applaud the subversion of something quintessentially French ... but wait a minute ... the frogs are actually benefitting from it! The horror! (Meanwhile, hip-hop lifts a quintessentially American middle finger, cognac-stained, in each direction.) From the Wall Street Journal:
In April, Courvoisier decided to educate its grape suppliers about the U.S. market. The 900 farmers gathered for an event near Cognac were aghast when the company played a video of Busta Rhymes's ode to the brand, which includes sexually suggestive and violent scenes. "They didn't know what to make of it," says a Courvoisier spokeswoman, who adds that the projector broke down before they could see the part where a bottle of Courvoisier gets passed around. "We weren't expecting cognac to be associated with those types of people," says Jean-Marie Macoin, a 55-year-old grower who attended the presentation. But, he says, "we know we have to adapt to a changing world."
1. Matt K.'s James Carville poems.
2. The New Pornographers live at the Black Cat, July 13, 2003.
3. The Will Ferrell "dart" scene in "Old School."
4. Anything that comes from the mouth of Ol' Dirty Bastard.
5. The brown "salsa baja" at Baja Fresh.
When the blog is empty, the life is full, so said the wise man. In my case, however, life is full of work, which isn't necessarily "fullness" in the best sense of the word. The highlight of the past 4-5 days -- and I'm not proud of it -- was vegetating in front of the History Channel's "Mail Call" marathon on Sunday after a weekend of too much food and too much driving. Gotta wonder if Kubrick is turning in his grave at the thought of R. Lee Ermey mugging for a boob-tube audience, but then again, "Full Metal Jacket" was all about cultural detente between the world of the grunt and the world of the auteur. R. Lee didn't necessarily give a shit that "FMJ" was a big, conflicted film -- he looked and sounded badass, and that was enough, I'm sure. On "Mail Call," he comes across like a wise grandfather-in-law who sees right through you, but really only cares if you laugh at his dumb puns. And the show is full of such goofs; there's even a dog mascot. But the reason to sit through it is simple: Almost every other war show is about ominous music, stock footage, generals and fuhrers, tough-guy exploits and g-forces. Ermey's gig, for the most part, is to explain the ephemeral, forgotten, mundane and nerdy aspects of warfighting. Sure, he gets to ride in big vehicles and holler at the screen. But with the aid of some pithy scriptwriting, he also spells out -- like the hosts on TLC's "Junk Yard Wars" or a less erudite James Burke of "Connections" or a Bob Vila before he started shilling for Sears -- how military stuff works, as well as the ingenuity that went into it. I'll take his bluster any day over the tattooed tough-guy introspection of those talented doofuses on "Monster Garage."
How to do Guajillo: 1. Start with margaritas and ceviche -- be sure to order a whole ceviche for yourself. Sharing is not advised. You will be wide awake after finishing your serving. It's shrimp, not whitefish. 2. Move on to the carne asada, with more margaritas. 3. Finish with coffee and the sopapillas. Walk home and fall asleep, because it all sneaks up on you.
Takin' a break for a few days. If something interesting floats by my eyeballs, I'll drop it here. OK, eight hours and 40 minutes later, here's what's up: My analysis of Saint Ex: Blah blah, blah blah buh blah blah, bah blah blah buh buh stylish, blah bah buh blah whatever. This is not the 14th Street that I remember. It looks kind of consciously upscale on the ground level, and downstairs it just doesn't feel natural, in the same way that most of the places on 18th Street just don't feel natural. But that's four blocks over -- who needs another 18th Street?
Notes from the weekend: Got to see a Phils victory and Joan Jett as a batgirl, but was too sun-baked to bother sticking around for her postgame concert. Man, I'm gettin' old and sweaty, or something. Got to the ballpark around noon and left around 5 p.m. -- five hours in the blazin' sun used to be nothing, but all I wanted to do on Sunday was get in an air-conditioned car.