Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Volume 2: Best in Documentaries

Deep Blue by Alistair Fothergill
This look at the many life forms inhabiting our planets oceans is exciting, educational and hypnotic. There is a pinnacle scene that unfolds like a war battle that is breathtaking and brutal.

Grizzly Man by Werner Herzog
Nature conservationist spends multiple summers among grizzlies filming himself ala Jeff Corwin but gets a little too close and dies at the hands of the very bears he was adamant about saving. Werner Herzog explores this fascinating character through borderline strange interviews with people involved with the deceased as well as the salvaged video footage the Grizzly Man shot over an 11 year period amongst the bears.

Murderball by Henry Alex Rubin
Rugby is a brutal sport, lots of pushing and punching, a constant fight for possession of the ball. Now imagine rugby without the use of your legs. The Americans vs. Canada, a tale of deceit and courage flesh out this look at a quads playing a tough guy sport. And loving it.

Mad Hot Ballroom by Marilyn Agrelo
Inner city kids are thrust into learning to ballroom dance and get juiced up by the idea after at first being freaked out. Yeah, I know…sounds a lot like that Antonio Banderas movie that was out last year. Trust me, this is the real deal and I became oddly caught up in how these youngsters were able to master the intricacies of some of the dances.

Rock School by Don Argott
Remember School of Rock with Jack Black? Well, this is the guy who was the inspiration for that script in all his inappropriate glory. Based out of Philly, Paul Green has made his life’s work teaching young kids how to bang their head and rock out. Green turns out to be a very interesting character who just wants to inspire kids to appreciate music.

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart by Sam Jones
Wilco is perhaps the best alt-country band of all time. And although the album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot swerved a bit away from this alt-country label, this film by photographer Sam Jones captures a band in turmoil while working on their supposed “breakthrough” record for Reprise Records. Strife with band members and record labels don’t deter Jeff Tweedy from putting his heart into the record and it’s cool to see a band fight for creative freedom in this day and age.

Born Into Brothels by Ross Kauffman/Zana Briski
This film shows us a world that is little discussed, Calcutta's red light district. Inspiring a group of children of the prostitutes of the area are the filmmakers who live among the poor and teach the kids photography. As we watch the kids take amazing photographs the filmmakers are working tirelessly to save the children in an effort to give them a better life. This movie confirmed for me that I’m completely selfish.

Capturing the Frieedmans by Andrew Jarecki
What would you do if your Father and Brother were arrested for child molestation? In the case of the Friedmans, luckily they picked up a video camera and started to record their plight to fight the charges and wound up capturing a family free falling out of control. David Freidman, one of the innocent sons is unforgettable not only for his forethought into filming many of his family’s most intimate discussions during this tragic time but because he is a working performing clown for children’s parties adding a bizarre layer to this already complex work.

Stevie by Steve James
Sometimes documentary filmmakers become a bit of a master of the craft and churn out successful efforts consistently. Errol Morris is a good case in point. (Thin Blue Line; Fast, Cheap and Out of Control; The Fog of War; A Brief History of Time; Mr. Death) Steve James broke out when Hoop Dreams was released in 1994 and instead of basking in the short lived “celebrity” an Oscar nomination brings you for a Documentary, James went right back to work on something completely different than his movie about budding basketball stars. Steve went back to rural Southern Illinois to check on Stevie, a troubled kid that Steve was once a Big Brother to while in college. Four and a half years later, Steve puts together this profile of a poor, uneducated criminal who the filmmaker feels he abandoned and gives us a glimpse into not only Stevie’s world (problems) but Steve’s as well.


Usually I leave celebrity bullshit up to Joolie, but I heard some junk recently that I think I need to talk about on here.

First of all, Vince and Jen might be an odd couple but aren't they done as of last week? It's time for a new odd coupling to take the crown on this one and I have the perfect pair. Topher Grace is dating Ivanka Trump. True story. That's just odd. Especially if you saw her wooden personality come through on the Apprentice last season.

And here's a nugget I love. Ryan Phillipe is leaving that annoying, ugly midget Reese Witherspoon after popping out two kids with her. The reason I love it is because every so often there is a Hollywood couple that comes along that everyone gets convinced will beat the odds and they never do. Kate Hudson and Chris Robinson? Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman? I've heard this shit a million times. Celebs deep down hate other celebs and they always leave them. It will be a sad day, but one day Gwenie Paltrow will be a single mom clawing her way back into the limelight.

And just as as sidenote: Even if the new Killers or My Chemical Romance albums are agressively sold at this late time of the year both bands would be hard pressed to take the title of best rock band of the year from Nickelback. And by best I mean the most records sold and money made, not actually the best. I'm being coy. G'night.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

odd couple.

vince vaughn is a freaking giant.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Keith Urban is in Rehab!

Nicole Kidman must be devastated. Even though Keith looks like he ignores her completely when they're together, she must be pretty lonely. Maybe Tom will give her a call to console her and tell her that alcoholism isn't a disease and that Scientology has some sort of answer for it.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Supernova Update

Jason Newsted tore his rotator cuff trying to catch a bass thrown from an amp and will need 9 months to recover. As such, he's out for the Supernova tour. Ha. Somehow I think this makes Newsted the luckiest guy involved in this train wreck.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Funniest Films Ever (er, since 1971!)

I'm on the verge of turning 35, so I thought I would explore what the best comedy movie was every year of my life thus far. Yeah, I'm 35 and a complete loser. I know.

THE IN-LAWS (1979)
TOOTSIE (1982)
LA STORY (1991)
CLERKS (1994)
JACKASS (2002)
BORAT (2006) - Call it a hunch...

plaid is the new plaid.

Tartan is taking over in a big, huge way. Fashion designers are hopping onto the trend and creating everything imaginable in bold plaid fabrics. Be it monochromatic houndstooth or multi-colored patterns, plaids abound this season. Lines such as LAMB, Patricia Field, Alexander McQueen and other eccentric designers have embraced this resurrected style. McQueen has created several mini-skirts that are probably too expensive for any of us, but can be easily found in knock-off form. LAMB and Patricia Field also are a little out of reach as well, but can be looked to for inspiration.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Howard Stern

I've been a fan since 1987 when I was a sophmore in high school. He's not everyone's cup of tea, but I am sure that if you were a fan when he was still on Free FM radio than you probably miss him a little bit. Well, I couldn't resist the temptation to grab Sirius satellite when Howard made the move last January mostly because FM radio in the South is stuck in 1992 and it's littered with stations devoted to Country and Gospel. I figured I would get commercial free radio and Howard for one low price each month.

And boy am I happy. The $13 cost each month is nothing for all the joy Howard brings me on my commute both to and from work (they replay the show 24 hours a day on one of Howard's two channels) and I even get to hear an Eagles game once in a while on a Sunday due to the NFL contract Sirius snatched from XM. Plus the music is diverse and more importanly devoid of interruptions. So I guess I'm urging you to consider getting Sirius like an Amway salesman. Not exactly. I'm merely using this outlet to point out that October 25 and 26 you can listen to Howard for free on the web by signing up here.

I might be biased being a huge fan and all, but the show is a million times better on FCC-free airwaves and I urge you to give it a listen even if it's for 20 minutes during the free preview.

Marie Antoinette

Infusing a historical period piece about a 17th Century icon who was beheaded with "modern" rock songs and dialogue is an ambitious and exciting idea. However, Marie Antoinette starring the beautiful Kirsten Dunst manages to be more style over substance and at times insipid, evoking confusion in the viewer rather than thoughtful insight into the mind of the ill fated Queen of France.

The movie is a visual cupcake; the powder caked actors drapped in rich pastels and wigs look edgy compared to the run of the mill period pieces out there. The lush grounds of the palace Versailles is at once dynamic and gaudy; creating a backdrop that reinforces the underlying politics behind the monarchy's downfall. Sadly, the entire history lesson divulged here has more to do with the King and Queen's sex life than the build up to Marie's ultimate death, so maybe the locale was relied upon too much as a part of the narrative. Show over tell works on some levels, but there is a lot of meat on the bone when it comes to Marie Antoinette that is tragically never explored.

I've joked that I think the idea was hacked by the creators that it would be cool to make a period piece unlike any period piece ever made. "We'll use cool costumes and throw in New Order songs and make being a teenage Queen kind of punk rock!" But no one bothered to write a script. The first twenty minutes of the movie, while interesting, wallows in its silence for too long. Yes, I too have thought it's always amazing how when a carriage is used as a transportation method from one country to another in a film it appears as though the journey takes 2 hours when in fact it takes quite a while to go from Vienna to France by horse, but I'm not certain I needed to have it feel like it took forever in the opening scene of a movie.

The cast assembled is just underused as a result of having no traditional narrative to speak of. Judy Davis and Steven Googan are wasted as servants who merely serve, and here I'm not asking for their roles to be beefed up, I'm just thinking some no name actors would have done the job just fine. It's almost distracting when a capable actor has such an insignificant role. You are waiting for their character to break out of being a servant and establish a connection with the royals and that is a) not accurate and b) it never happens in this film. Rip Torn is just incredibliy miscast as the King of France, father of Marie's husband Louis, and doesn't get any favors from the script which gives him the first line of dialogue, an offcolor remark about Dunst's breasts which was more funny than intended in my opinion.

The gem of the cast for me was the exact person I was scared to see in this film, Jason Schwartzman. As King Louis, Schwartzman is aloof and fey, but never does his performance stray towards silly. And considering his body of work, I was expecting his portrayal to be over the top instead of subtle and well thought out. On the other hand, altough Dunst did a capable job as Marie, I wasn't exactly buying her as a mother. Early in the film, as a teen, Dunst shines despite having little to say or do. Watching her adjust to the formality of the monarchy of France's daily regime is delightful, but as her character ages her performance suffers. In the end, Dunst to me is like the rest of the movie, pretty to look at but not much more.

For a film to be this colorful and spirited yet completely vapid and boring is a shame. How do you make a film about a beheaded Queen and not show the beheading or even indicate that this was the fate of Marie Antoinette? Sofia Coppola is a very capable director, see Lost in Translation and the Virgin Suicides, but on this film she stumbles a bit. Hopefull she will do what Mariah Carey says to do and Shake It Off before she helms another project.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Go Beth!

Maybe it's because I'm an old head, but I have a total crush on Beth Anthony currently "playing the victim" on the newest Real World Challenge show called The Duel. Beth is a veteran of the MTV franchise having appeared way back when on the second installment of the Real World and is most famous for prying upstart comedian David from dragging a comforter drapped Tami down the hall after she put his Timberlands in the toilet. It was on this season that Beth earned her reputation as a meddler and at the time I recall being slightly annoyed with her. Frankly, I also didn't think she was all that attractive.

But Beth has become the ubervillian of the Challenge shows over the past 5 years and I love seeing her tussle with Tonya or Tina, acting completely above it all yet getting down and dirty in her sly, underhanded way. The last time Beth graced a Challenge show everyone ganged up on her and she single handedly took them all on and did some winning for a change. Up until this point she was merely a bitch at times and completely unsocialable, most likely just acting her age which on an MTV reality show is a no-no. But when she was forced up against a wall, I saw a totally different side of Beth and I got kind of googly-eyed...total reality TV crush ensued. Even though she left the show as a punk by bowing out of the final head to head challenge, I still was in awe of her aura.

Already the wolves are out and everyone is gunning for my Beth this year. Tina got herself booted off on week two by taking a swing at Beth, that's how much she is loathed. But I know my Beth will represent us old heads well and ward them all off as long as she can. I dream that she wins this year. And by the way, Beth hasn't looked hotter! Fuck you Tina for dissing Beth's possible Botox usage you filthy, nasty, ugly wench. Beth is sexy, 30-something and ready to kick some ass...that's my Beth A!

What's Up Doc? Volume One

Being a huge fan of the documentary film, I thought I would share with you some of the best out there so you can check them out for yourself. This will be the first in a series. Yep, I kind of like documentaries.

The Filth and the Fury: A Sex Pistols Film by Julien Temple
Considering the longevity of this UK punk band, would you believe that they only recorded one album and self destructed after a little over 2 years, you'd think that there isn't much to show, right? Not so fast...how about anger, drugs and making a lasting impression on the face of the UK and the USA. A very cool exploration of the rise and fall of Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious featuring what live footage is out there for your listening pleasure.

Devil's Playground by Lucy Walker
Rumspringa is the time in a teenage Amish kid's life when their strict, religious parents let them go out into the world and experience everything there is to indulge in. This means footage of Amish gone wild essentially. The kids play Playstation, smoke week and drink beer at keggers in the woods, but the real interesting element is seeing how the distractions we take for granted actually force these kids back into their religion. Fascinating.

Children Underground by Edet Belzberg
Heartbreaking is the best word to describe this movie. In a nutshell, this movie explores the anti-Roe v. Wade that took place in Romania back in the late 60's when Nicolei Ceaucescu took power. Abortion was outlawed and women were forced to have children or face heavy taxes, but the movie doesn't delve into the history of this situation as much as it merely shows us the gritty reality of children abandoned by their parents forced to live in packs and steal to survive.

Comedian by Christian Charles
Think it's easy to be a stand up comic? Well watch as uber millionaire Jerry Seinfeld ventures back out into the insecure world of making people laugh and you'll think again. Jerry puts in the work by testing new material late in the evening at NYC comedy clubs and hangs out with working comics like Colin Quinn obsessing over whether or not he still has it. Pretty entertaining.

Brother's Keeper by Joe Berlinger
Four brothers, all over 60, live in a run down, filthy two room shack on a farm. When one dies in the bed he shares with his younger brother, the police start to take an interest in the town eccentrics. I was blown away at how these men managed on their own for 50 years, living in squalor and without any education to speak of. Unrivaled access by the filmmakers into lives we would never think to take an interest in.

The Fog of War by Errol Morris
Errol Morris is a master of the genre and here taps into the mind of Robert McNamara, former Secretary of Defense to Johnson and Kennedy and a key element in the build up to the Vietnam War. In this troubled time of war, it's interesting to hear a man's take on perhaps the biggest blemish on our country of the last 100 years.

Word Wars and Spellbound
Nerds make for great subjects. Word Wars gives us a look at four contestants headed to a Scrabble tourney in San Diego and Spellbound follows a hald dozen kids vying for a Spelling Bee crown.

Monday, October 16, 2006


Sadness. That's what I feel when I think about the fact that CBGB's as an iconic landmark of punk music is now closed to the public. The Bowery will never be the same. Patti Smith played the stage for one last time the other night and with that, CB's goes the way of the dinosaur. As someone who played there more than once, I can honestly say there is no place like it on earth. No place disgusts, yet electrifys you simulatenously; the smell of stale beer, the sticker coated walls and the rank fragrance of the men's room toilet filling up the downstairs hall meet the charm and history of the famous, albeit tiny stage.

When performing on the CB stage it is impossible not to imagine Debbie Harry or David Byrne strutting across the same steps you are taking. When you grab the mike, it's all too easy to find yourself in a complete Joey Ramone lean as you swoon to the crowd gathered to hear the next big thing. Why CBGB's became an institution is clear, the venue was instrumental in the 70's of the NYC music scene, but how it managed to live on for so many years in such disrepair is not so much a lesson in history, but a tale of reverence. One doesn't have to look far to find a band who has played the notorious club, everyone either played there or dreamed of playing there. Playing the club made you feel like you made it, even when you have to dig for toll fare between the car seat and the car door on the way back down the Jersey turnpike at 4 AM on a Wednesday. And it's kind of sad to think kids toiling away on guitars in a garage somewhere 10 years for now will have no idea of it's existence nor the magnitude of its importance.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Dude. This is addictive.

wow i do kinda look like courtney love. never thought about that...i'm extremely surprised that lori petty isn't in that mix. someone tells me i resemble her weekly.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Who knew?

I totally stole this from John Mayer's blog, but considering my last entry about 30 Rock I thought it was a) topical and b) hilarious.

All you have to do is upload a photo of your face and they will find your celebrity look alike based on face recognition software. Go do it! And post the results in the comments if you want to share.

I'm 68% Alec Baldwin. Is that a good thing? I was expecting Horatio Sanz, John Goodman, Chris Farley.

30 Rock - Half as Good as Studio 60?

Utter disappointment. That was my initial reaction when the credits rolled on 30 Rock this past Wednesday night. Tina Fey, what happened? You left SNL and a lofty spot as lead writer and anchor of the epicenter of the show, the news broadcast for this pathetic and unfunny shit? Tracy Morgan has never been less funny, his performance as a Martin Lawrence type made me long for a Brian Fellows sketch. The only redeeming nature of the entire 30 minutes was the magical zaniness behind Alec Baldwin's new chief of late night (and microwave) programming. Alec appears to be having fun, but he is better than the material, the story and sadly the rest of the cast. Did Lorne Michaels learn anything from all those horrible movies he's made?

trash talk.

sienna miller proves yet again that she's an idiot by dissing pittsburgh, calling it "shitsburgh" in an interview. very clever, sienna. i'm sure they love you right back. please pick a hair length. it's really starting to bother me.

kate moss seems to have an ad campaign with every business in the world. i've been seeing her at least five times in each fashion rag i've read. she's raking it in. yet she still feels the need to date full time drug addict/part time babyshambles singer pete doherty. that guy better count his blessings...

k fed appeared on CSI this week, acting exactly like k fed. i didn't watch it for a reason.

madonna adopted an african baby this past week. for some reason the whole affair seems like a publicity stunt to me. her sudden philanthropic attitude is a complete farce. the baby can't get the right papers to leave the country right away, so she just up and leaves the poor thing until he can be shipped to her like some sad little puppy from the pound. i guess the little dude will have a good life. it's not like madonna is actually gonna take care of him. her other children each have their own nanny, i'm sure he will too.

nick lachey told david letterman that he learned "absolutely nothing" from his marriage. awesome. i love this guy more and more with each passing moment. how could you learn anything married to the village idiot?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Tell Me You Are Watching This...

Okay, it's time to delve into what is on the tube these days now that most of the fall season is under way. And here's what I hoped you've seen thus far.

Jerry Springer's hilarious dance routines on Dancing with the Stars.

Lost! So many questions, never enough answers.

William Shatner attempting to romance a fiesty midget (his words) on Boston Legal.

Ted Danson back to Cheers form on Help Me, Help You my favorite new sitcom.

The Tennessee trailer trash couple on the Amazing Race.

The utter lack of an impact the race factor made on Survivor.

Dwight's attempted overthrow of Michael on The Office.

New York becoming completely unhinged on Flavor of Love, and then bringing her even more unstable mother on the show.

Earl's hairy nipples on My Name Is Earl.

Heroes, the most satisfying, drawn out unfolding of a plot since Lost.

Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford's chemistry on Studio 60.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Tobias Froberg - Somewhere in the City

Scandanavian music conjurs up thoughts of Black Metal (loud, classical music theory meets dark lyrical themes) to me, so when I hear about musical artists from this region of Europe I'm always slightly skeptical about what I'm going to get. Recently however, Scandanavia has given us the lush, sensual, sensitive vocals and an acoustic guitar playing of Jose Gonzalez. Jose sounds more like Nick Drake than Venom and I've had a hard time putting Veneer, his most recent album, down. And now I've stumbled across a fellow country man of Jose's from Sweden named Tobias Froberg and I'm dying to share him with all of you.

Tobias is more Shout Out Louds meets Belle and Sebastian than Nick Drake, but I think Jose and Tobias compliment each other when listened to in tandem. I'm already wishing for a dream tour that would come by Augusta, GA, a double bill of these two guys playing at the Imperial Theater sounds nice. The release Somewhere in the City, available through both eMusic and Itunes through Cheap Lullaby Records, is a snappy, eclectic grouping of tunes that are timeless and beautiful. It's easy listening for the indie generation!

Standout Tracks: Oh My Love (Here She Comes Again), What A Day

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Hurry up and Listen.

God damn have I found some really good bands lately. I'm incredibly giddy about it. To me, finding a new favorite band or song is one of the greatest feelings in the world. Listen to each and every one of these bands on ITunes or check out the new Emusic.com and see if you don't fall in love with all of them.

Bobby Bare Jr. - The Longest Meow

Supposedly his dad is famous in Nashville. Never heard of him. Bobby Bare Jr. is on Bloodshot Records, and just released "The Longest Meow" a few weeks ago. He made the album in 11 hours, which is hard to believe because the album is so perfect. Collaborations with members of Clem Snide, My Morning Jacket and ...Trail of Dead make this album very eclectic; each track jumps genres without leaving you feeling confused. It works. Bobby Bare Jr. is a man who takes chances. His is a big, guitar driven sound with hollow vocals reminiscent of the aforementioned band My Morning Jacket.

Graham Coxon - Love Travels at Illegal Speeds

Former Blur guitarist Graham Coxon has created quite a monster of a record. Eric described him as "Buzzcocks meets Johnny Rotten". Throw a lump of sugar in that description and you're spot on. The guitar work on the album is amazing, of course. Check out "I Can't Look At Your Skin".

The Kooks - Inside In/Inside Out

I am most excited about The Kooks. Yet to play in America, with an album finally released stateside just 4 days ago, the Kooks are about to blow everyone away. I personally think that lead singer Luke Pritchard sounds eerily like Sting. There are a few moments that you think you might be listening to the Police because of the slight reggae vibe. Moments of acoustic tenderness are scattered between rock riots.

Easy Star All-Stars - Radiodread

OK Computer is a trippy album. The Easy Star All-Stars have quadrupled the trip factor by covering the entire album in reggae fashion. They first did this with Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" and gained media attention because of this fresh idea. From what I can tell, several different bands have contributed to this album, including one of my favorites, Toots and the Maytals.

Paolo Nutini - These Streets

This kid's name is as smooth and buttery as his vocal styling. Born in Scotland, 19-year-old Paolo was discovered at the young age of 17 in a London pub. His sound is a lot like that of Damien Rice; his heartfelt and painfully personal lyrics set this album up as a perfect rainy day companion. Music Supervisors everywhere will be scrambling to use "Last Request" during a romantic scene in a movie because it's just begging for it. He played the Austin City Limits Festival this year, and will hopefully begin touring the states soon.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

King Dork by Frank Portman

"I wrote this song for my band, the Mr. T Experience, back in the mid-nineties (you can hear the electrified rock and roll version on the MTX album The Mr. T Experience... and the Women Who Love Them). While I was gingerly, sheepishly exploring the idea of trying to write a book, and not really knowing where to begin, Krista Marino (who was to become my editor at Delacorte) suggested that I try to turn a song into a novel as a way of getting started. I can't remember why I settled on "King Dork" as the song to "novelize," but I started thinking about the narrator/character of this song and after quite a bit of staring at a blank Word document and banging my head against the bar I eventually started typing. I didn't tell anyone at the time, but for months the file entitled "King Dork_(novel)_ms" had only the words "there's no way I can write a whole book, absolutely no way, who am I kidding?" on it. The fact that this did turn into a sort of novel in the end continues to mystify me."

Frank Portman, frontman for Mr. T Experience, has created not so much a "sort of" novel, but a very good exploration of teenage angst targeted towards the young adult book market. Now when I heard that Frank was writing a book I was very skeptical (why do musicians always think they can do something besides being in a band?). When I heard the words young adult novel, I thought this could be a trainwreck. Thankfully Frank went the route of Perks of Being A Wallflower instead of the Judy Blume milieu.

Our hero is high school sophomore Tom "Chi-Mo" Henderson, a quietly tormented, picked upon dork who boasts his large vocabulary and dreams up band name after band name while sleep walking his way through school. Best friend Sam and Tom throughout the roughly 350 page story toil with getting a band afloat, hooking up with girls and ultimately working to unlock the mystery surrounding Tom's father who died mysteriously when Tom was just 8 years old.

What I like about the book, besides the high school theme and the fact that Frank wrote it and Frank rocked my ass through college, was that it was a quick read, funny at times and very honest. Although the book appears to be set in the present day, the experience of Tom is universal to my high school life in the mid-80's. Tragically the book managed to bring back some memories I had chosen to forget, but I think having something to relate to made the book more appealing to me overall.

Sidenote: King Dork was the second book I've gotten from the Free Library since I re-joined 3 weeks ago. What a concept the Free Library is; they have books you can read FOR FREE!! Anyway, reading is fun and reading for free is like whipped cream on the top. Pick up a book!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Hal Sparks Was Robbed!

That's all.