Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Diggin On It (Like An Old Soul Record)

Lately I've been having fun with alot of new media, (or at least media that is new to me). Here is a short list of cool stuff that has captured my attention recently.

1) Invader Zim - This is a nickelodeon cartoon show from a few years back (I'm not sure if it is still on as I do not watch TV (can't get any reception, won't pay for cable) and the Nick website really messes up my computer (too many flash elements, me thinks) so I won't be going there to look up a link for y'all (that's what Google is for anyhow)) A co-worker wrestled this DVD of season one away from his 7-year old and passed it our way, and I've been hooked since last week. I haven't even shared it with my daughter yet.

This is the story of Zim a diminutive alien who is exiled to Earth (the farthest planet from his home planet) because he is small, overzealous, and annoying (although he believes he has been chosen to be the lone scout leading the way for an eventual invasion of Earth by his race). On Earth he disguises himself as a middle school child (he is small after all) and hilarity ensues. Good modern animation, and enough action, crazy hi jinks and fantasy elements to keep everyone happy, even the most jaded parent brought up on classic animation (like me). Trust me, this is worth checking out for some lighthearted laughter with the kids, or as a wind down after a stressful day (week) before the main event (movie, whatevah).

2) The DVD included with the Ramones Weird Tales of the Ramones box set - Actually, I dig this whole set, mainly for what it is - an Object d'Art in tribute to the finest of punk rock cartoon bands. This whole set is basically a love letter to the fantasy of the Ramones as the perfect punk band of schoolboy, hoodlum, outsider, chums banding together and making it in the hard knocks world of rock-n-roll. The linked description/review says it in many more words, and in much better detail, this box is a tribute to the Legendary Ramones by and for fans. As the review states "the music here is beside the point - much of it past the middle of disc 2 is of inessential, inconsequential later day Ramone material" but as a whole package, this is a fine summation of the band's entire trajectory (tho' here, most of the tradgedy of the Ramones story is glossed over, or swept under the rug in favor of happy shiny nostalgia and good time rock energy). For me, the DVD is exciting for the glimpses of the ramones in concert (what fun times those shows always were!) and those classic MTV videos from my youth back in the day. Watching this disc with my 9 year old daughter has been a blast. I love that she now will ask if she can listen to the Ramones in her room every once and a while. While my mom probably shook her head and wondered "what's next?" when she heard me listening to this junk back in the '80's, I just smile to myself as the "1-2-3-4" shout preceding every song leaks under HB's closed bedroom door, and think "what can I turn her on to next?"

By the by, so far, she digs the Hives (probably because of the videos on the DVD that came with their singles collection Your New Favorite Band, and The Modern Lovers (she was already a fan of Jonathan's solo stuff, who isn't?), but she just turned up her nose @ the Sex Pistols recently. Go figure.

Lesson for record companies to take note of: DVD's packaged with CD's is a good thing to market music to a younger audience who are much more visually catered to these days anyway. Get a clue man!

3) The TimeLife Legends of American Music Series of releases - These are generally excellent overviews of some of my favorite American musical artists. I have managed to find these sets used for $20 -$30 (for 3 packed discs in a nice book-like case with extensive liner notes). So far the house favorites are Johnny Cash (of course) and Jerry "The Killer" Lee Lewis, Tho' the Merle Haggard collection is in close contention. I'm now searching the bins for the Ike and Tina box (book?) which was released in Oct. of this year. Keep your eyes peeled, and check 'em out, these are great bargins, I think. Great for filling in the rock-n-roll history holes in your sound library.

4) The Cheese Lover's Companion - an excellent little tomme (pun intended) from the people who brought you The Food Lover's Companion (also recently published in an expanded edition) packed with information for the cheese dork in us all. Over 1,000 entries for cheeses and cheese related terms. Easy to use "dictionary" format allows for quick reference while waiting for service at your local cheese emporium (shout out to Steve's Cheese in Portland, OR @ which you may spy yours truly behind the counter on occassion). Study of this book will allow you to hold your own with your favorite cheese monger and actually maybe even understand what the heck he is so excitely going on and on about. I'm a big fan of pocket sized references so this one gets two cheesey thumbs up from this dork du frommage.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Brenda's Iron Sledge (Please don't call me Reg, it's not my name...)

A most fun time was had by all, most especially yours truly and his companion in surreal debouchery and sensory overload, Mr. SJ himself. The occassion was the celebration of musical genius which is more commonly known to the masses as one Mr. Robyn Hitchcock (and his merry band of the moment "The Venus Three" consisting as it does of three other members both nimble and quick of finger Messers Buck, McCoughy and Rieflin). All performers involved are arguably at the top of their game, that game being kick ass psychedellic rock-n-roll.

The evening started after a marathon of early morning schlepping and sausage slinging followed by an afternoon of cutting the cheese and slurping the vino. Mr. SJ and I convined @ Rocket a fairly new eatery in our fine city of bridges. We were greeted by a friend (and co-worker of mine) the lovely Ms. B. who was just finishing her shift, and decided to join us at our feast table. Such a delight!

Many plates were ordered post haste, a couple of cocktails for the wait and we were in blue heaven. Conversation flowed, as the Portland rain tapped at the giant windows beside us. The view of downdown over my shoulder was stunning, even on a murky night like it was. The food we sampled was all quite good. Stand out dishes included the Duck Confit (always a favorite if done right - crisp on the outside, velvet on the inside and oh so richly delicious), a Lobster Spring Roll served with perfectly cooked prawns and a decadent buttery lobster sauce (So good!), a Braised slab of house cured Bacon (soft, smooth, smokey deliciousness), and Butternut Squash Dumplings with microgreens sage and brown butter, (sort of like gnocchi without the potato, light and fantastic). Most playful item sampled was the Lamb Corndog which was the best damn corn dog I've had the pleasure of eating (and yes I've sampled a few in my time).

After a quick perusal of the sweet menu (tempted by the Cherry Pop Tart, and the Apples Carl Sagan) we decide that the concert can't wait, and we leave Ms B @ the bar and head out into the cold rain to ditch jackets, contraband, weapons, and prime ourselves for the event to come.

Again, dashing through the storm, we enter the club (Doug Fir-a new live music venue for me)just in the nick of time, as Robyn and band are about to hit the stage five minutes hence. Quick trip to loo then downstairs. Purchase some pints of ale and position ourselves in the sweet spot - dead center about 20 feet back. Perfect. Two sips into my Pilsner Urquell, the house lights go down and there's Robyn grinning into the crowd, and strapping on his guitar. Most Happy now, we are!

More to come soon!

1/18/08 (Seriously, I need to relate the rest of the evening with a review of the show before I forget it all, I'mm getting older by the minute here!)

Friday, November 16, 2007

In Rotation 11/07 (the triumphant return...)

Well, well, well, look see who's back from the shadowy world of reality. Yes folks, it is I, your favorite imaginary friend coming back to Land of Soup after much time away. Now let's see where this will take us this time, shall we?

First off, if anyone cares, SORRY FOR THE LONG INTERRUPTION.

Life is full of weird tangents, sharp corners and periods of bushwhacking. Suffice to say, I have been very busy elsewhere, and my writing here has suffered for it. Hopefully (with your help) that is about to change...

Now let's get down to the business @ hand.

IN ROTATION is in the hizzouse! (Part One)

My listening habits have been all over the map as of late, tho' I seem to be going through a strange period of nostalgia for early British and San Francisco psychedellic rock (Moby Grape, Flying Burrito Bros., Jefferson Airplane, Good ol' Grateful Dead, Early Pink Floyd, Robert Wyatt, Steve Miller Band, Small Faces, Etc.) I'm sure this is fueld both by my boredom with much of the modern music choices I am exposed to as of late, and by the recent availability of many fine newly remastered re-releases of classics I haven't listened to in years.

Okay, here goes...

Lyrics Born >>> Later That Day, and Same S#*!, Different Day
These are two of the best, most dynamic, funkiest damn Indie Hip-Hop albums of the last several years (at least that my ears have heard). Serious. Sampling the synth hook of Steve Miller Band's "Fly Like An Eagle" seeled the deal for me. Amazingly free flowing verbosity from LB and his co-horts. (Guests feature Lateef the Truthspeaker, Dan the Automator, KRS-1 and Gift of Gab, as well as DJ breaks from Cut Chemist and DJ Shadow - among the best at their craft at the present time.) Put these on your system real loud, disturb the neighbors, and shake that thang until the house burns down. HOT DAMN!

The production on these albums is top notch. Lots going on at many levels with nice trippy atmospherics flowing from track to track. Excellent headpone music! It must be noted that while Same S!@# is mainly a remix of the other album, there are a couple of new cuts, and it is actually a superior version of an already excellent debut album.

!!! (CHK, CHK, CHK)>>> Louden Up Now!
Recently discovered these guys. Hard Funky White Boy Dance Muzik for the new Millenium. Start with the Talking Heads, add some angst, some Gang of Four Agit Prop, some industrial edginess, and some desire to jam until a trance state is reached, and you have an idea what a !!! show might be like. The addition of a horn section on some tunes brings to mind the JB Horns, or even some twisted version of afro-pop filtered through modern nerdy techo channels. Catchy, and infectious. Great listening while driving (watch your speed!) or powering through house work at maximum velocity. I must admit that the political slant of this disc definately tilts things in its favor for me. Any group that speaks out against War, the dangers of the global economy and makes fun of Ruy Gulliani (whilst paraphrasing Paul Simon) are a-okay in my book. CHK it out! (Sorry, couldn't resist)

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings>>>100 days 100 nights
There is a huge buzz about this band and label recently, and upon close listening to this disc, I can entirely see why. This is new R&B at its amazing funky best, with a fiery lead singer in Sharon Jones (a former prison guard, among other blue collar day jobs). The working man/woman's reality is not far away in Sharon's world weary, love lorn and often tearful lyrics. She exhibits Aretha like determination and the drive of a strong no nonsense woman who is tired of life beating her down. Watch out!

There is a bonus disc with some editions of this album which is a very good sampler of other Daptone Records artists, tho' the radio DJ/narrator between cuts gets a bit old after a while (the wife made me turn this disc off halfway through since the DJ was getting on her nerves.). I'm too lazy to take the time to program my CD player, but I suppose that would be one solution to the problem.

Well, I've run out of time before I got to the hippy nostalgia. Damn! I guess the next installment will have to cover that ground.

Until then, Peace Out!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Mighty Nice Facial Hair...

Pretty funny bit about great mustaches in pop music, I agree more with the second set of picks (or I just like those artists better, I guess...).

I think they should have mentioned Mike Watt from the Minutemen, firehose etc. He sported one of the most memorable 'staches I've ever had the pleasure of witnessing.
One of my all time favorite musicians...he seems like a genuinely good guy too. Check out his website. Very detailed history of him and Minutemen and that whole scene, look at his extensive photo gallery, that boy really gets around, he rubs elbows with (or plays music with) everyone who is anyone in "indie" music for the last 26 plus years.

In looking at those photos, I see that Mr. Watt only just started sporting the distinctive mustache pictured above sometime in 2000 or so, and he seems to change up his facial hair on a fairly regular basis, so perhaps he is not as identified with his "lip warmer" as others are.

On The Road Again

Well, well, well...lookie here. I have been away from this for exactly a year. What was my problem? Hard to say. Mostly it was a time thing. Being too busy juggling activities and staying alive. Partly I was uninspired, and unsure of how to proceed with this site (and I still am unsure of that direction, but now I feel "ahh, so what?" about that. Let's just see where this journey takes us shall we?). Then there is my famous (to some) procrastination problem. (much, much more on that at a later date...get it?)

I want to push that all aside for now, and concentrate on making this a habit that sticks. I feel the need to work on my writing, and this is a great forum to help me do that. So, here goes nothing. Third time's a charm right?

I have been very involved in many projects over the past year; working sometimes three PT jobs, lots of home improvement projects, volunteering @ my daughters school, attempting to jump start the creative process within me again by establishing a workspace for myself to do my art (I pretentiously call it my "studio", but I figure why not make it a grander thing than it is even if it is in name only, it may make it seem to me that I am doing some important work in there, when in reality I AM doing important work - at least to me), finally having some major epiphanies about my artwork, my life and the direction I am heading with my life's work. Amongst other things.
I plan to try and work on this sight much more diligently in the weeks and months ahead, including finally reaching out to the rest of the blogosphere via links and such. For too long, I have been trying to hide in the shadows, and it really hasn't been working for me. I hope this is the start of something good for all involved.
A wide open road of possibilities lies to join me?