Posts Tagged music

An Incontrovertible Denouement

10 February 2010

Well it was a very successful weekend from a TCB perspective.  We sold out The Blank Club, and in general had an awesome show.  We played a lot of newer songs (for us anyway), and Shel finally got to hear “Asleep.”  Also in attendance were several friends I don’t see that often, so there was a good vibe in the room.  I was stressing out leading up to this particular show, but it ended up being nothing and the whole thing went off without a hitch.  And when all the dust had finally settled, I felt like a million bucks.  Sing Blue Silver had a triumphant re-debut which included our own Nick.  Most surprising was their singer, who is an uncanny sound-alike to Simon Le Bon.  Well done!

My weekend continued with more live shows, including unexpectedly seeing a 10-piece soul band out of Santa Cruz called “The Inciters.”  I imagine Colin would have dug it.  The crowd there were the expected Northern-Soul-by-numbers types.  Funny how that homogeneity really stands out when you look in at other scenes, but it’s harder to spot among “your own.”  I suppose an outsider looking in on some rockabilly show would just see me as part of a sea of identical pomps and cuffed jeans.  And for the most part, they’d be right.

I even got out on a Monday to see The Dirt Daubers, a bluegrass side project from Col. J.D. Wilkes of The Legendary Shack Shakers.  I knew about the project and picked up the CD months ago, but I was blown away to see they were coming through town.  They put on a very entertaining show, albeit pretty tame by Shack Shakers’ standards.  Even they were surprised to see the big crowd on a Monday (and they said as much, indicating they were very happy to be in S.F. which was nice).  Only problem was that much of the crowd were young hipsters, dancing inappropriately to the music with a verve that was clearly contrived.  You could almost see them thinking “look how ironic I’m being!  I’m at a bluegrass show!”  I ran into Orlie there, and he pointed out that the lead singer from the Dead Kennedys was standing behind us.  We met him briefly, which was cool… though I must confess that it didn’t mean much to me as I’m not what you might call a punk aficionado.  I stuck around for a few songs from the headliner (Scott H. Biram), but I wasn’t feelin’ it so much, so I skedaddled.

Before I sign off, what is this fuss about Lost lately?  It seems like so many people these days have shows they just have to watch every week.  Somehow I never got on that train.  The idea of a Tivo is just baffling to me.  Really there aren’t any shows I watch regularly save for The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, and those aren’t the kind of shows that you have to see every episode of.  I will admit to one guilty pleasure though.  While I don’t watch it religiously, I’ll usually stop for Burn Notice when it’s on.  Aside from it being deliciously clever and chock-full of spy trivia, it also stars Bruce Campbell himself.  Me gusta!

I fear the man who drinks water and so remembers this morning what the rest of us said last night.

— Greek proverb

Now You’re A Man!

1 February 2010

First, I bought a pot (08/16/07).  Then I bought dinnerware and gave up paper plates and cups (early 2008?).  I even fixed my old couch once upon a time (03/20/06).  And here we are at the next step of my maturation.  Ladies and gentlemen, I bought power tools.  And used them even!  I had some metal work I needed to do on a guitar (which I’ll discuss in a minute), and I needed a Dremel and a power drill.  Well after three trips to hardware stores to get equipment, drill bits, and screws, I was all set.  I spent two nights in my apartment making sparks like it was Flashdance, and now not only is my guitar good to go, but I think I felt my balls drop too!  Where’s that grunting Tim Allen when you need him?  Because if I’m not mistaken, I think I just became a man!

(P.S.  I so loved looking at those old blogs… reading what was going on with me in those days as well as my friends’ comments.  Le sigh!)

This Friday (2/5), This Charming Band will be playing at one of my favorite venues: San Jose’s Blank Club.  We’ve got a lot of friends in San Jose, and the shows there are a hoot, almost without exception.  Starting with this show, you may have noticed our flyer format has changed.  There are a few benefits to this, not the least of which is that they’re way easier to put together.  It also allows for a more modern and sleeker consistency, as well as a lot more room for including show details.  There are pros and cons.  True, the overall effect may be slightly less “Smithsy” than the old format, but it was getting harder and harder to find workable images and prepare those things.  With this new approach, the full picture can be seen, without having to creatively sneak in all the details in and around it.  Of course, I still love those old flyers, and I’m profoundly proud of some of them.  But we’re trying something new, and here’s the result… what do you think?  (Incidentally, this one’s a tribute to the ailing Dennis Hopper.  We love ya, Frank!)

So I hope to see you all at The Blank this weekend, where I plan to “hang out with my twang out.”  That’s right, those of you who come will bear witness to the re-debut of El Twango, my long-forgotten Fender Telecaster.  See, I got him many years ago, but frankly I was too green to contain him.  Telecasters really cut through the mix and have a very different tonal quality than any of the guitars I regularly use.  I always had a hard time dialing in a good sound, and every little flub was painfully obvious.  So after just one use in the first year of TCB, El Twango was banished to guitar collection purgatory.  Not sold off, but not played regularly either.  And there he remained for years… until I found he was the natural choice for my short-lived spaghetti western project (absolutely nails that Alessandroni-esque tone by the way, though he himself reportedly used a Strat).

So that was all in the back of my mind.  Then recently I decided that maybe it was time to give him another shot in TCB, and to my great pleasure, I found that the Tele actually “fits” me now.  And not only that, but it sounds like the vicar’s knickers on a lot of the old Smiths stuff.  “This Charming Man” was largely recorded with one, believe it or not.  Teles were also used extensively on the “Meat Is Murder” album, and they’re a favorite of Boz Boorer.  So it just makes sense.  I’ll be including El Twango in the roster on Friday, and I expect him to make regular appearances for the foreseeable future.  A new (but old) guitar, how exciting!

… in which Johnny Marr finally gets to meet me.

29 January 2010

Wednesday night, I went to the Cribs show at Bimbo’s 365.  I’d be lying if I said I was there for any reason other than to see Johnny Marr up close.  Of course he was making it look so easy up there.  I was studying the technique, the posture, the banter.  Taking notes, you know.  After their set, we waited first in the main room, until the staff swept us out.  Then in the foyer, until the staff swept us out.  So we found ourselves waiting out front in the cold, where the tour bus still sat.  I ran into Tom, who was waiting for Johnny too.  I wasn’t too nervous, but in a kind of dream state, finding it hard to believe that after years of poring over Johnny Marr’s every word and note, there was an excellent chance I was about to see him face-to-face.  As the minutes dragged, we got anxious and started making our way towards the alley where I knew the backstage door to be.  After about 45 minutes, the band finally came out.  The rest of the Cribs filtered past us (and into the clutches of the girls), while we intercepted Johnny in the alleyway.  I could hardly believe it was happening.

I freely admit to being totally starstruck and blurting out stupid things.  I’m really not the type, but come on, we’re talking about my #1 guitar hero.  You’ll have to grant me a little teenage girl fantasy here.  Tom got in there first, and I was in line right behind him.  There were several more people who eventually came around after us, and to my horror, they started just butting in and taking Johnny to themselves.  Now, I can understand people getting excited and all, but they were being shameless.  I was seeing self-preservation and every-person-for-themselves vividly and hideously played out in front of me.  I couldn’t believe what disregard people had for each other (and for me!).  I was trying to be cool and not make a scene, especially because Johnny was being so patient with everyone.  I didn’t want to start making nasty “me first” comments to the people around, or throwing richly-deserved elbows.  But at the same time, this was Johnny fuckin’ Marr standing in front of me, and I had no idea how long he was going to stick around before hopping on his bus and disappearing.  As I neared my limit and started to get a bit aggressive, I finally got my turn, and I held on until I felt I’d had my fair share of his time.  We Smiths fans are a selfish bunch I guess.  It reminded me of the disappointment I sometimes feel in the cut-throat fans that fill the pit at Moz shows.  How they can sour what should be such a positive experience.  But no more dwelling on the negative here.  The point is: I did get my turn, and I met Johnny Marr!

When I finally got in there, the conversation — severely paraphrased for continuity’s sake and also remembered incompletely and probably incorrectly — I think went something like this (with Johnny in blue)…

I like your shirt.
Thanks!  [unzipping my jacket to reveal the rest of the T. Rex “Electric Warrior” album cover shirt]
I know what it is.
It’s such an honor to meet you.  I just have to tell you that your music was the inspiration for me taking up the guitar seriously, and it’s become a huge focus in my life.  So thank you!
Well, that’s the best thing to hear really.  I’m glad.
Working out and playing your songs has brought me years of pleasure and headaches.  Trying to figure out all those parts.
As long as you’re having fun with it.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve finally worked out some difficult part and said “that sneaky fucker, look what he’s doing there!”
[laughs] Well, I tried not to make it too tricky.
[laughs] Well, you failed!  Hey, do you mind if we snap a photo?
No, not at all.  [picture is taken, hands shake]
Also, I hate to trouble you, but could I get pick?  A lucky charm?  If it’s a hassle…
Oh sure, let me see.  [digs around and gets a pick out of his pocket]
Thanks so much!  And again, it’s really a pleasure to meet you!

It may not come across in my faux transcription there, but he was so gracious and approachable.  He made time to talk to everyone who was waiting for him, and happily signed autographs, posed for pictures, and spoke freely even asking people about themselves.  He seemed genuinely interested in all of us.  So laid back, and just could not have been nicer.  It was an absolute honor and pleasure to meet him and chat with him.

I listened in to the conversations he had with others.  Someone asked him about the tab books that are out there, and he said he isn’t too familiar with them, but one of the things he’d like to do when he revamps his website is to take some time to show people how he plays certain things… tabs or videos or something.  “But I don’t want to give away all my secrets.”  I screamed “YES PLEASE!”  😀

Of course, now that it’s over, I’m second-guessing myself a bit.  First off, you may notice I didn’t mention This Charming Band.  When I first walked up, I was with Tom.  Tom went first, and Johnny asked him if we were in a band.  Tom said no of course, and I didn’t want to be like “well actually I’m in a tribute band.”  So I just let it drop.  If he’d asked me point blank, I would have fessed up.  But I wasn’t sure if he’d be flattered or repelled.  I’ve read something to the effect that he doesn’t like tribute bands.  Don’t live in the past and all that.  I gather the other three Smiths are more on the flattered end of the spectrum.  Who really knows how he would have reacted?  I didn’t want to risk tainting the experience.  As it was, we talked for a moment about love of the guitar, and that was enough for me.  I might have liked to ask him about a riff or two.  Or twelve.  But it wasn’t really the venue for that kind of discussion.  Maybe someday I’ll get a chance to really pick his brain.

The other thing I kicked myself for is an autograph!  I’m really not an autograph kinda guy usually, and having an autographed album or picture from him wouldn’t do that much for me.  But damn… I should have brought a guitar for him to autograph!!!  And strum!  And bless!  There isn’t a guitar in my collection that I wouldn’t happily have allowed him to sign, and there aren’t many on the planet I can say that about.  Can you imagine having Johnny himself strum your guitar, and mark it?  Damn.  I really should have done that.  But these small regrets aside, it was an amazing night.  Special thanks to Jamie and Lourdes for waiting with me in the cold and taking pics!

Surreal.  Only real.  There isn’t a person alive that I’d want to meet more than him, and here it’s happened.  If touching the hand of Moz was like touching the pope’s vestments, then meeting Johnny was like sitting down with Yoda.

Playing the guitar means everything.  Know what I mean?

— Johnny Marr

Lazy Sundae

18 January 2010

Cold Stone to be exact.  It’s no Baskin Robbins, or even Swensen’s.  But it’ll do in a pinch.  And as expected, as soon as I ate it, I wish I hadn’t.

Today we (me, Booty Lou, and the Balls Family) were supposed to be seeing Conan O’Brien live in SF.  This was all planned and in the works well before this latest drama happened with him and late night.  Just when I thought we were going to be in the right place at the right time.  I mean, what are the chances we’d be seeing Conan precisely when the world spotlight is on him (see: David Bianculli)?  Well, slim as it turns out.  Needless to say, he called it off and there was no Conan today.  I don’t blame him.  But I did I hear he got a $30 million check from NBC today.  Good!  Fuck ’em.  Go Conan!

So instead we had dinner in the East Bay, later the aforementioned Cold Stone, and eventually saw Daybreakers which wasn’t bad.  This weekend has also included sushi, Guy Ritchie’s slick Sherlock Holmes with Shel, and an 80’s dance party for charity.  Normally, I’d never do the corny dress up thing, but I’ve been dying for an excuse to peg my jeans, and I so totally did.  And also won a staggering three raffle prizes on only five tickets.  I think Shel must have rigged it.  As the night wore on, the 80’s party dwindled, and the bar turned into the Jersey Shore.  When the fist pumping began, we split.  Anyhoo, the three-day weekend isn’t even over yet!  More big plans for tomorrow…

The music in Sherlock Holmes got me thinking of The Dresden Dolls and what a great experience it was when I first saw them.  That got me to thinking about my favorite (or most life-changing?) concerts of my life so far.  I know I’ve forgotten a lot, but the say top three that come to mind right off the bat are:

  1. Erasure on the Union Street tour (5/11/06).  Quite possibly the best live show I’ve ever seen.  I mentioned this at the time, but I’d always considered them disposable synth-pop.  Suitable for dancing and not much else.  But this show changed my mind about them completely.  To this day, I listen to that CD regularly.  Two pieces of applicable trivia.  First, this show was at the Herbst Theater which is where I was supposed to see Conan.  Second, the next date on Erasure’s very limited tour was at the Showbox in Seattle, where TCB just played on New Year’s.
  2. Morrissey.  It’s hard to pick the best one.  They were all amazing for different reasons.  I might point to the first time I saw him live, with Jessica in Berkeley (9/14/02) where we cried along to “There Is A Light,” or the Stockton show (4/27/07) where I first got close to the man himself, spoke to him and touched him even… both of these shows recounted here.  And then there was the magic of the Hollywood Bowl show (6/8/07), footage of which was eventually used for the “That’s How People Grow Up” video.  Applicable trivia:  As I was in the front row for that show, my massive head — along with Sus’ and Nick’s — can be clearly seen a few times in the video.  Can you see me?  So many Morrissey memories these past few years, it almost doesn’t seem real.  To think how much my life has changed in the last five or so.
  3. The Dresden Dolls on New Year’s Eve at the Sea Of Dreams (12/31/05).  It may have been a combination of all the weird things I saw that night, the burlesque, the holiday, I don’t know.  It was one of the weirder nights of my adult life.  But what I do know is that I was blown away by their show.  Applicable trivia: I went to Sea Of Dreams again the year after, and it wasn’t nearly as good.  I hear this year though, both Olin as well as Maya (and friends) went.  Go figure!

OK, that’s all for now kiddies.  You may be wondering what happened to that “year in review” I planned on, and that I’ve done for several years.  It may still happen, but I’m just not feeling like taking stock lately.  We’ll see.

… in which I pass judgment on The Beatles.

6 November 2009

CONVERSION NOTICE: This is one of 250+ blogs that originally appeared on MySpace. I’ve done my best to represent it with as much historical accuracy as possible, but there are limitations. Read about it in the FAQ.

Current Mood: happy relieved

I have now listened to all of their studio albums — most of them for the first time — in all of their 2009 remastered glory, alongside each of the period-correct singles and b-sides culled from the “Past Masters” volumes.  And I think I’m ready to rule on the matter.  (I’m sure Paul and Ringo are anxiously awaiting my opinion.)  Again, I took this on as an academic exercise to fill a glaring deficiency in my pop music education.  The Beatles are of course one of those bands that you just are supposed to know about.  And I knew something about them, but this was me really going in with both feet.  A crash course in their music, with only a limited knowledge of the stories behind it (most of which were filled in for me ad hoc by Nick and Colin).  So after two months of listening critically and strictly chronologically, each album at least twice before moving on to the next, what do I think of the music?  In a word: excellent.  By anyone’s standards, the amount of quality work they put out in a relatively short period of time is remarkable.  Unquestionably more hit than miss, and clearly a massive influence on literally thousands of bands.  Not many can claim that!  To be fair though, The Beatles weren’t as important as Elvis, and neither of them were as good as The Smiths, but I digress.  🙂

What did I like?
Most of all, and maybe most obviously, I appreciated their strong pop melodies and arrangements.  More often than not, the songs are full of memorable hooks, in fact some of the most memorable in pop history.  Interspersed in there too are many moving ballads, some of them quite famous of course.  Now, I didn’t always buy the emotion in Paul’s or John’s voice, and the lyrics didn’t always hit the same emotional depth for me that I get out of a lot of other music… but really, how often am I that moved by bubblegum music from that era?  (I mean, it happens… but it’s not usually the first place I look.)  They also had a lot of inventive stuff going on that sounds fresh even today, and I would assume they were the first ones doing some of those things.  How much of that was studio trickery (where credit might be more due to George Martin?), I’ll leave to the experts.  The record collector in me loved the big album concepts and album art in the later part of their career, and I can imagine it was a lot of fun being in that band and putting those together.  Finally, historically speaking, it was really interesting to hear the influence on other bands that is clear in these recordings.  For example, The White Album was a major part of the sound of The Smiths’ Strangeways, Here We Come.  And there are more blatant lifts, such as the “Sexy Sadie” connection with Radiohead’s “Karma Police” (pointed out to me by Colin), and stylistically as in… well all of Oasis’ music (listen to “Hey Bulldog” and tell me it doesn’t sound like an Oasis song).  I’m sure there must be websites dedicated to documenting these influences and “borrowings,” and these are just some obvious examples.  The more subtle impact of The Beatles on virtually every band that followed them must be immeasurable.

What didn’t I like?
In those first few albums, the original compositions were wonderful, but there were so many covers.  And to my ears, they were, almost without exception, dreadful.  Not least because I’m quite familiar with most of the original songs, and so The Beatles’ versions had much to live up to with me.  Some were more excruciating than others.  One exception I can think of though is “Twist And Shout” which is probably more famous than the original.  I also was turned off by their penchant for what I would call “silly” songs.  Little tunes throughout many of their albums that sound like inside jokes or just the band fucking about in the studio.  Maybe they’re just jokes I don’t get because I’m not from that place and time?  Not my thing, anyway.  And that ties in with the fair amount of filler on a few of their albums.  Not that most bands aren’t guilty of that from time to time, but for the greats (in which I assume The Beatles should be included), I expect more.  For instance, I can’t think of a single filler song that Led Zeppelin ever recorded, let alone The Smiths.  All just a matter of opinion of course.  Similar, but not exactly filler, were the occasional psychedelic songs that seemed to go on too long and just waste time.  And then in their later albums, there were a lot of songs that were trying hard to sound soulful and bluesy and were just not pulling it off.  Sorry Fab Four, blues and grit maybe not your forte.  OK, last bit of poison to spit here: almost the entire Let It Be album.  Yikes!  With the exception of a couple of good ballads and the fantastic “Across The Universe,” I think I view this as their worst album.  But in fairness, I think I get it, I guess they were falling apart at the time, not to mention recording it all in front of a television crew.  Poor guys…

Some Lists…
With the sheer volume of material we’re talking about here, any attempts to rank or list anything is going to be problematic.  But just to get something on the board here…

Top Three Albums
1) Revolver (edgy, rockin’, experimental, dark; me gusta)
2) Abbey Road (the most consistently good; apparently their real “last album”)
3) Rubber Soul (Revolver lite; similar but not as edgy)
Honorable Mention: Help! (another great one which I liked especially for its folky darkness which at times reminded me of Simon & Garfunkel)

Top Ten Songs
I was surprised at the songs that jumped out at me.  Some of them I don’t think I’d heard before.  Probably not your average hits.  Of course there are loads of good ones, too many to cover.  Presented here in no particular order.
1) I Saw Her Standing There
2) Across The Universe
3) I’m So Tired
4) Tell Me Why (bubblegum, but I love it)
5) Happiness Is A Warm Gun (proto-glam?)
6) While My Guitar Gently Weeps (epic!)
7) Helter Skelter (maybe their ballsiest number)
8) I Want You (She’s So Heavy) (not lyrically, but musically proto-Zeppelin and Jethro Tull, with some Cream)
9) Norwegian Wood
10) For No One (one of their more touching lyrics)
Honorable Mention: I’ve Just Seen A Face, Girl, Taxman, most of the medley at the end of Abbey Road, Something, Here There And Everywhere, You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away, You Can’t Do That, And Your Bird Can Sing, No Reply, Julia, Come Together, Mother Nature’s Son, Revolution, Don’t Let Me Down, and yes… Yellow Submarine.

Top Three Surprise Learnings
1) Just how many songs I knew!  It was literally an endless slew of “oh yeah, they did this one too!”  Lots of childhood memories of hearing this stuff in mom’s car.
2) The breadth of styles they covered in their catalog!  Bubblegum pop to folk ballads to wall of sound torch songs to blues to country to psychedelic freakouts.  And still it always sounds like them.
3) The same old boring hits that I’ve heard a million times in my life, possibly due to the remastering job, sounded new and fresh to me.  Amazingly rich and lush production.

Open Questions
So I listened to the stereo boxed set, but what about this mono boxed set?  The completist in me has urges, particularly because I know there are significant differences like different intros, guitar solos, etc.  But I don’t like this band enough to need every version of every song.  I don’t need it.  It would be an inexcusable and irresponsible waste of money.  (This is what I’m telling myself.)  Besides, I dislike mono so much.  I so prefer stereo versions where I can hear every instrument more clearly, and where I can have the experience of being immersed and surrounded by the band, rather than a one-dimensional wall of sound blaring at me from one direction.  Stereo feels so much more alive and “real” to me.  Thoughts?

I haven’t done the analysis, but based on the songs I liked in the list above, anyone know if I’m leaning more towards Paul or John… vocally or writing-wise?

Once I bought a compilation of John Lennon’s solo work (I think at Lala’s behest).  There were some gems on there, but overall I wasn’t blown away.  On the subject of pop music education, do I need to delve into their solo work too?  I can’t think of much that Ringo has done?  George had “My Sweet Lord” and “I Got My Mind Set On You.”  Paul did a ton of stuff, right?  Off the top of my head, there was that Christmas song, the James Bond song (“Live And Let Die”), a couple collaborations with Michael Jackson, and that “Vanilla Sky” song wasn’t bad.  That was probably a sacrilegious summary of their combined post-Beatles catalog, huh?  Well… do I need to know/hear more?  Or can I skip it?

Final Word
I expect my opinion on this stuff will change some over time.  When I first heard The Smiths, I knew I liked it, but it was so different… I didn’t fully understand what I was hearing.  It took me some time to get my head around it and really fall in love with it.  I don’t anticipate the same experience here, and I don’t expect I’m ever going to be a huge Beatles fan… but maybe with more listening, I will come to appreciate them more?  50,000,000 Beatles fans can’t be wrong, right?  Anyway, it’s all been very educational.  And now I can go back to listening to other artists again.  Thank you, and goodnight.

“Half of what I say is meaning less…”

Hey Sugar, take a walk on the wild side…

8 October 2009

CONVERSION NOTICE: This is one of 250+ blogs that originally appeared on MySpace. I’ve done my best to represent it with as much historical accuracy as possible, but there are limitations. Read about it in the FAQ.

Current Mood: crappy hungover

My neighborhood, which is quiet and all but a ghost town for 359 days of the year, is currently in the throes of its annual golf tournament.  I’ve woken up every morning this week to find my street, which is normally empty, instead lined with hundreds of cars, already parked.  Who’s up that early, and for golf?  Supposedly Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Bill Clinton, and whoever else are all around here somewhere.  Word is Obama himself might show up.  Based on previous years of experience, I can look forward to having to show my ID at a police road block just to get into my driveway.  And this morning was no different.  Sure, it’s unusual, but it’s not that much of a hassle.  Though it didn’t help that I was a bit… hungover?  Let me back up.

Last weekend started off with an Ocean Beach bonfire among friends.  Saw some old friends, made some new ones.  It was lovely until the cops came along to shut us down, which I guess they do to everyone around 10pm.  The next night I got to see a couple of bands I’d been meaning to for a while: The Pine Box Boys (not bad) and then the headliners, Denver’s Slim Cessna’s Auto Club (who were excellent).  They were similar to The Legendary Shack Shakers, if a bit less… kinetic.  Great tunes though, no shortage of banjos, and every bit as dark and revival.  Highly recommended.

Sunday, a coworker of mine from out of state came to visit San Francisco for the first time.  I spent the afternoon playing tour guide and doing all the things I only ever do with out-of-towners… the Golden Gate, Pier 39, etc.  Plus some local favorites like Savor, Amoeba, and Cha Cha Cha.  I gotta admit, it was a blast.  And then with someone in town, it was much easier to wrangle other folks for a happy hour last night (which normally just doesn’t seem to be part of our collective culture, though I’m hoping to get more of those going in the future).  Anyway, long story short… I ended up agreeing to a half a shot of tequila near the end of the night (being the first drink I’ve had in a year).  I know that’s not much, and it doesn’t sound possible, but I’m telling you… I felt anxious and jumpy the second I swallowed it, and for the rest of the night.  Then I woke up this morning feeling like dogshit, and for the rest of the day.  It’s probably all in my head, but just the same.  I guess I’ve already lost what little tolerance I had.  Blame in on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol.  Nice experiment, but not sure I’ll be resuming my drinking career any time soon.

I also saw Zombieland this week.  It was fantastic.  Easily one of the best movies I’ve seen this year, which probably sounds silly.  It’s funny and stylish and just really well done.  Maybe even worth seing again, and how often do you see a movie in the theater twice?  OK, well maybe you often do, but I never do.  As a bonus, there were several great trailers for upcoming flicks, including this one…

OK, I have to admit something.  I somehow managed to go the last year or however long without hearing a single note of Lady Gaga’s music.  Not the least because I’ve made zero attempt to find out, and I don’t exactly keep up on my MTV, you know.  I knew nothing about her, just like I know nothing about a fuck ton of other recently-relevant bands that I only hear about in passing.  Well I saw the video for “Paparazzi” the other day and… I liked it.  It’s dark.  What’s more, I went and bought the album.  I don’t know what that means, and I don’t want to know.

Holy shit, that reminds me… did you hear Rhino Records is going away?  Maybe number one on my list of companies I wanted to work for someday.  I was such a fan of and believer in their vision of resurrecting, remastering, and reissuing great music in vast retrospectives.  I guess it’s another casualty of the economy, and perhaps the move to mp3 culture, but who is going to fill that void now?  Who’s going to unearth and clean up the classics for us?  I am heartbroken.  🙁

A general comment on life lately.  My radar can’t be that far off, can it?  I’m like a blind-folded kid gunning for a piñata.  Swing and a miss.  (And a miss… and oh yeah, another miss.)

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.  It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
— Mark Twain

Loneliness Remembers What Happiness Forgets

19 September 2009

CONVERSION NOTICE: This is one of 250+ blogs that originally appeared on MySpace. I’ve done my best to represent it with as much historical accuracy as possible, but there are limitations. Read about it in the FAQ.

Current Mood: full full

First off, it just so happens that it’s Sus’ birthday today.  Go wish her a happy birthday.  Go on, I’ll wait.

It seems like it’s been a while since I’ve had anything meaningful to share here.  It’s been a confusing time for me lately.  Life changes.  Work changes.  My relationship to those around me changes.  I change.  I’ve wasted hours like I haven’t in months.  I’ve coveted like I haven’t in years.  I have thoroughly cleaned my apartment for nothing in particular.  I have considered more thoughtfully what I might want from life and what I might be moving towards.  I’ve been surprised.  I’ve been disappointed.  I’ve pondered: is it better to love or be loved?

Now, in what is maybe not my most traditionally masculine admission, I find myself totally wanting to go see South Pacific at the Golden Gate Theater.  Anyone want to come with?

It can’t be this Friday though, because that would be the night of TCB‘s return to San Francisco (by way of Café Du Nord)!  This is always such a fun show, and you know how swanky Du Nord is.  We’ve got some new tunes up our sleeves, and what’s more: the opening act is Erasure-esque!  It’s no secret that I <3 Andy Bell (and South Pacific?  Hmmm…).  So, I know the economy is sucking, and I certainly don’t want to jinx it for ourselves, but the fact is that all three times we’ve played here in the past have been complete sell-outs.  So if you want a guaranteed spot at this show, don’t wait to buy your tickets!


With all these Beatles reissues lately, I’ve taken it as a sign that I need to finally delve into their extensive catalogue.  You may be surprised to hear that prior to last week, I had never owned a Beatles album of any kind.  I mean, I knew the hits and all, but only in so far as they’ve permeated our culture so uniquely.  I’m now going chronologically through their offerings, listening and re-listening, trying to absorb it all mainly as an exercise in history, but also as songwriting education.  I’m not convinced I’m going to walk away from it all as a “super fan,” but so far, I’m appreciating what I’m hearing.  Incidentally, I wonder if Beatlemania 2.0 is bringing any more work for Beatallica?

Completely unrelated to that (despite what would seem to be an obvious Beatles connection), I picked up a Vox AC30 recently.  I’d had my eye on one for a few years, but the stars just didn’t align for me to pull the trigger.  Well, over Labor Day weekend, there were some exceptionally awesome sales, and while I resisted the initial barrage of marketing (thanks to Wally and I mutually talking each other down off the ledge), when sales were extended an extra day, I couldn’t hold out anymore.  It arrived this week, and I got into the studio this afternoon to try it out.  And it is lervely indeed.  Will it make an appearance at Friday’s Du Nord show?  TBD, folks.

The quote of the week comes from Wally, who, after hearing of my eventual surrender to the Vox, was left to face down his own G.A.S. demons:

“By the way, the sale is still on today.  Get thee behind me Satan.”

I trust the views of certain people I know.

16 March 2009

CONVERSION NOTICE: This is one of 250+ blogs that originally appeared on MySpace. I’ve done my best to represent it with as much historical accuracy as possible, but there are limitations. Read about it in the FAQ.

Current Mood:  uncomfortable

Anyone else see Jim Cramer get nailed to the wall by Jon Stewart the other night?  Dear God, it was horrifying.  I’m trying to cling to the signs of hope here and there.  A short run of positive Dow days.  Experts predicting the beginning of the turn around before the end of 2009.  But holy shit, folks.  The economy’s sucking air, in case you didn’t know.

And on the subject of other things that you probably already knew, I’m apparently a raging liberal, according to this test Aaroncito sent me.  I scored a 281… well off the chart of averages for all the demographics I belong to, based on the summary of results at the end.

It’s been a busy few weeks.  The shows in Sacramento and Fresno were a lot of fun.  Some old friends showed up each night, and we even made some new friends.  That first Smiths album has a few tunes that aren’t so live-show-friendly.  Let me tell you, nothing grinds the evening’s momentum to a screeching halt quite like a trudge through something like “The Hand That Rocks The Cradle.”  So if you ever had an interest in hearing us do that one… well, I hope you were at one of those shows.  I made it through both shows relatively peacefully, but by the time I got home, my voice was gone, and I was well on my way to being sick.  Even missed a few days of work over it.  But fret not, I’m right as rain now.  Let’s see, what else?  Cliff Notes: Louder Than Bombs was good this last weekend.  I’ve been guitar shopping lately, against my better judgment.  I went into a Good Vibrations for the first time maybe ever.  I managed to finally break (in half) my old Ikea couch from the Jared/Mission days, so I’m in the market for a new one if anyone’s got suggestions.

And this Friday, TCB is having yet another specially themed show.  We’ll be in San Jose at the Blank, playing two sets of classics as usual… but the first set will be unusual in that it will cover all of the rockabilly songs in the Smiths and Morrissey’s respective canons.  Really… all of them, you ask?  Yes.  We considered every song they recorded and picked up everything that was remotely rockabilly in nature.  Rusholme Ruffians?  Of course.  Sing Your Life?  Duh.  Pregnant For The Last Time?  You’ll hear it for the first time… this Friday at the Blank.  Don’t miss it!

Some random entertainment for you… if you’re looking for a way to kill 15 minutes, check out this list of one-hit wonders of the 1990’s.  There were so many I’d forgotten, and talk about bringing back memories.  They say that smell is our oldest sense and the most closely tied to memory.  You know how a scent you haven’t come across in years can instantly bring you back to a time and place, right?  Well, I’m convinced our pop music sense must be the next in line.  Reading through this list, it was like middle school all over again.

In a conversation with Jamie the other day, I managed to work the word “homonymous” in, as there was some confusion about if we were talking about Mac makeup or Mac computers.  But since I can’t remember the exact phrasing of my stunning display of lexical majesty, the quote of the week instead goes to her, who said this regarding me walking out the door without my wallet for the first time in years:

“You must have forgotten to take your memory pills.”


Bad news on the doorstep…

2 February 2009

CONVERSION NOTICE: This is one of 250+ blogs that originally appeared on MySpace. I’ve done my best to represent it with as much historical accuracy as possible, but there are limitations. Read about it in the FAQ.

Current Mood:  quiet

A little after midnight tonight will mark the 50th anniversary of the tragic Iowa plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper.  Talk about some amazing careers cut short.  There was a lot of music left in those fellas, no doubt.

But to add a little levity here, did you all see the new Moz single sleeve?  Totally unexpected, and yet somehow it fits.  I guess he’s got a few tricks up his sleeve yet.  But before you even ask, don’t expect that pose from TCB on any upcoming flyers.  (Send your complaints via comment to the TCB MySpace.)

I actually had a pretty good weekend, myself.  Saturday night I dropped by that benefit show in Brisbane.  The music was alright, got to see some friends I don’t see too often, and meet some new ones.  Nick, Charlene, and Amy have all documented the night in pictures.  I liked the place too, so hopefully there’ll be an opportunity to go back sometime.  And then as much as I uh… wanted to catch the Superbowl… somehow I managed to skip it completely, and spend the afternoon comparing Smiths riffs with Peter.  It was one of the more rewarding Superbowl Sundays I can remember having, frankly.

Can I just make a quick mention of what is admittedly an easy target?  WTF is with Rod Blagojevich’s hair?  It’s somewhere between Anton Chigurh and Dan White, and that’s not cool even in an ironically hip way (though I’m waiting for this haircut trend to hit the Mission).  Why is it guys like that — and Donald Trump comes to mind too — who have the most ridiculous hair are also the ones who are so protective and fussy about it?  In all seriousness, I don’t trust anyone whose perception is that far off of reality.  If you are that defiantly guarded in the face of overwhelming evidence that you look absurd, well then… I don’t know what to do with you.  Kind of sounds a bit like some of Blagojevich’s other problems recently, eh?

“You’re so square — baby, I don’t care.”

A Victory In The Fight Against Lotion

22 October 2008

CONVERSION NOTICE: This is one of 250+ blogs that originally appeared on MySpace. I’ve done my best to represent it with as much historical accuracy as possible, but there are limitations. Read about it in the FAQ.

Current Mood:  hungry

Summer’s over, but here’s some news.  It’s no secret about me and my hate affair with lotion.  Well, over the years, this has led me to virtually never wear sunscreen and thus occasionally get burned to a crisp.  Good news, friends.  Do you realize that there are now powdered sunscreens such as Colorescience’s Sunforgettable???  How did I miss that little scientific advance?

But again, Summer’s over.  We’re well into Fall, and I don’t expect to have too many more opportunities to sunbathe before Winter is here.  That reminds me though… what’s going on for Halloween this year?  I haven’t heard of anything extra special, and I can’t think of any good shows happening.  Any ideas?

I don’t anticipate dressing up this year for Halloween, but you never know.  As for candy, I think I can do without it.  I wouldn’t mind tracking down some carob though.  Anyone remember that stuff?  I guess it was popular in the 70’s and 80’s as a “health food” substitute for chocolate.  I remember it used to be in trail mix and such.  I actually think it’s delish, but apparently most people do not, and it’s near impossible to find around here it seems.  The only place I’ve managed to score it at all is as a topping at our local PinkBerry knock-off, “YoCup.”  Which is also delish, by the way.  But if anyone sees carob products around the city or knows where to get it, please notify me immediately.

CONVERSION NOTICE:  At the time of my converting this particular blog entry, I saw that my local copy had a placeholder for an image here, but not only is that image gone, it seems the URL was replaced with a blank.  So I don’t even know what image was supposed to come up.  I fear this one is lost to history, but my dim recollection is that it was probably just a picture of a small pile of carob chips.  Let’s go with that.

I’ve been back on a spaghetti western kick lately — listening to a lot of it, getting ideas.  When I’m feeling up to starting another music project, I may go that direction again.  There are a lot of projects I’d like to start.  TCB keeps me marginally busy just in terms of learning new stuff (which I’m doing even now for upcoming shows), but I’d prefer to have at least one other project going.  It’s been a year now.  I need to get off my ass and try again.

Ah well, I’m feeling better this week.  It’s been pretty good, and it’s half over already.  Before you know it, Friday will be here, and it’ll be chillax time once again.  Some Smiths-related event going on in the city this weekend, right?  I forget the details at the moment.

Today’s affirmation comes again from Taxi Driver Wisdom:

“Everything comes out the same, no matter whether you make it hard on yourself or not.”

Yep.  Pretty much.

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