Monday, January 31, 2011

Visiting The Grandkids!

More pics through this Linky..

Friday, January 28, 2011

World Series Beard Pitcher Brian Wilson Brings the Funny

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Amazon Reviews: Suzanne Vega "Nine Objects of Desire"

Nine Objects Of DesireThe high hanging fruits 
4 Out Of 5 Stars

For a Greenwich Village folkie, Suzanne Vega was one restless woman. Following a love of Nine Inch Nails, she made the "Industrial Folk" (her term) of "99.9 F°" and followed it with this, a slightly more subdued but no less adventurous album. "Nine Objects of Desire" runs the gamut from more industrial (the opening "Birthday") to the jazzy "Caramel" and the dreamlike finale, "My Favorite Plum."

The highlights are, as is typically with Vega's best work, the lyrics. The erotic "Caramel" uses an old standard form of substituting a candy for desire, but she stakes her own territory with the arrangement. "Honeymoon Suite" describes an enigmatic dream encounter her husband had, and includes the beautiful descriptive couplet "When we sleep so close together/that our hair becomes entwined." I have also always loved the teasingly fun way she mixes gambling metaphors on "No Cheap Thrill" with casual romantic encounters. When it comes to these kinds of lyrical puzzles, Vega has few equals.

It's interesting to note that many of these songs seemed rooted in the relationship with her then husband, producer Mitchell Froom. I say this mainly because her next album, "Songs in Red and Grey," was less 'produced' and a heck of a lot more straightforward lyrically, and took five years to appear after this one. Taken as a pair, however, "Nine Objects of Desire" and "99.9 F°" make interesting bookends in Vega's always intriguing career.

Close-Up Vol. 1, Love Songs Close-Up 2: People & Places Retrospective: The Best of Suzanne Vega

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Amazon DVD Reviews: "The Road"

The RoadThis is how the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper  
4 Out Of 5 Stars

Like a modern day "On The Beach," the movie version of Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" takes a grisly look at the world nearly a decade after some sort of catastrophic event has turned it into a barren wasteland with what few survivors left battling for survival. Unlike "On The Beach," however, you get no real sense that anyone wants to pull together, or that small communities have formed to weather the end times. Obviously, some have checked out rather than even try. Instead, "Papa" (a desolately believable Viggo Mortensen) and "boy" (a spookily innocent Kodi Smit-McPhee) are trying to make their way to the ocean in hopes that maybe the climate will be safer and warmer.

You're never given a reason why the world is dying; was there a nuclear winter? Did some sort of space detritus strike the earth ala the dinosaur extinction event? Did all those Fox News Climate Change deniers get a really nasty wakeup call? Did something happen to the Teutonic plates to cause these earthquakes and eruptions? You don't know; you only know that Papa and boy are wandering a barren planet where the only other life you see is a solitary beetle. Oh yeah, and gangs of murderous cannibal survivalists. It's up to Papa to keep boy safe, and guide him through the drifting ashes and burning landscape.

Along the way we meet the occasional other survivors that don't want to eat you, including a scene stealing Robert Duvall, who tests the father and son's humanity, and a thief who breaks Papa's resolve. While a couple of the scenes seem forced (seeing the hunters run down a woman for killing makes no sense...if there's any chance for survival, reproduction would seem to be a priority, wouldn't it?), but for the most part, the 'every man for yourself' scenarios seem too close for comfort. With the world dying a slow death (boy's birth in the early portion of the movie puts the timeline about 8 to 10 years into the post-apocalypse), how generous would you be? Who would you trust? "The Road" answers resoundingly, not very much. Not too many. This is a movie whose images will haunt after the disc leaves the player.

Legion On the Beach The Day After

Keeping America Stupid: The Good Guys - Chris Matthews Hammers Tea Party Leader Over Bachmann's Slavery Error

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Casting Call


My Amazon Reviews: Hall & Oates "H2O"

4 Out of 5 Stars

Hall & Oates were on a roll by 1982's H2O album. "Voices" provided a creative and commercial resurgence, "Private Eyes" may have been their best album to date, and H20 leads off with one of the duo's all time great singles, the Motown inflected "Maneater." They followed that with the seductive, soulful "One On One," and pushed themselves on an arty, edgy cover of Michael Oldfield's "Family Man." The album exudes confidence and hit-making professionalism, and deservedly peaked at number three on its release.

For the most part, is still holds up. The singles are still the strongest things on the album; at this juncture, Hall & Oates had their finger on the magic motherlode of hit crafting. They were also tapping into just enough of the new wave zeitgeist to keep the songs from teetering into pablum, with the tension of "Crime Pays" and the biting "Go Solo" being as strong as any of the hits. But fatigue is beginning to show, with John Oates' "Italian Girls" being too silly for its own good, and both "Guessing Games" and "At Tension" sounding more than a little like filler. As for Hall, never one to sheath his misogynistic streak, "Open All Night" is less than flattering.

But once you tally in the singles, the album's rating tilts up. The re-issue ups the ante by offering the dance mixes of "Maneater" and "Family Man," along with an expanded mix of "One on One." Daryl Hall and John Oates were riding an express that had a couple more great albums in them, and "H20" comes out of a period where their reach was still grasping hold on everything they were aiming for.

Essential Daryl Hall & John Oates From Time To Time - The Singles Collection Greatest Hits

Monday, January 24, 2011

My Amazon Reviews: Tonio K "Life In The Foodchain"

Life in the Food ChainOh, I wish I were as mellow, as, for instance, Jackson Browne  
5 Out of 5 Stars

Tonio K totally rocked my world in 1979. The first time I heard "Life In The Foodchain," I couldn't believe how blunt and brutally funny this guy was. Imagine a punk rock Warren Zevon or a misogynistic folkie who just took a hypodermic full of adrenaline Pulp Fiction style right in his songwriting sternum. That's how far out of this world "Life In The Foodchain" was (and, frankly, still is).

Side one in the old days was a flawless four song sledgehammer the set its aim on the complacent California Rock scene and smashed it to smithereens. In addition to the title track, you get the modern rock hit "Funky Western Civilization," which takes a no-holds-barred looks at the hypocrisy of mankind and shoots it all down in what may be the most offensive/hysterical verse ever played on the radio:

"Well they put Jesus on a cross, they put a hole in JFK,
They put Hitler in the driver's seat and looked the other way."

The side closes with the best Bob Dylan re-write ever. "The Night The Clocks All Quit and The Government Fell" is, well, the only way I can describe it is imagine of Dylan ate some really bad acid in the recording studio, imagined he was watching the Armageddon/apocalypse and recorded his visions with The Clash as his backing band. That's just side one.

The second half falters a bit, since there was almost no way Tonio could have topped it. That doesn't mean the songs are bad, and "Life In The Foodchain" ends with what can only be said is the number one most viciously brutal and hysterically funny Eff-Off song that no-one, and I do mean, no-one, will ever be able to top. "H-A-T-R-E-D" starts off with Tonio gently strumming a guitar and warbling in a hurt, sensitive manner about how hurt he is that is woman has left him...before he softly whispers "But let me kind of put this another way, OK?" At which point all hell breaks loose as Tonio and the band let fly with a rage both frightening and laugh-out-loud nuts, as he screams "I'm gonna K-I-L-L one of us, baby, when I'm sober, I'll decide on which!" The song and the album come to a crashing close, with howls of feedback, chaotic drums, an organ doing the "Louie Louie" riff and Tonio begging "with a little counseling, maybe we can work this out."

That's the song were the Jackson Browne line comes from (and the obscene second line can't be printed). Like all of "Life In The Foodchain," it's chaotic and funny, brilliantly written and sarcastic as anything before or since. Tonio managed a few more great albums and even wrote a couple of hits, but this remains a defining moment in rock history. It's a biting 30 plus years on as it was on the day of release.

Romeo Unchained Notes From the Lost Civilization Amerika Ole 16 Tons of Monkeys Rodent Weekend 1976-96

Friday, January 21, 2011

New Status Update: Pt 2

Last week in the series of snowfalls we had, I fell on a patch of ice while clearing the driveway. What I thought was just a minor sprain has turned out to be a fracture in my wrist. I am waiting for the Dr to call to tell me what comes next. This on top of getting let go from work Thursday.

Not my week
  Showroom Of Compassion 

My Amazon Reviews: Sting "Nothing Like The Sun"

Nothing Like the SunBiding His Time  
4 Out Of 5 Stars

Sting expanded on the jazzy feel of his debut when he released this expansive (originally double) album. He played with polyrythms, crossing styles over each other, even bringing in the Gil Evans Orchestra to accompany him on a Jimi Hendrix cover ("Little Wing"). It made "Nothing Like the Sun" a very ambitious album, and one that contains some of his best individual songs.

After all, any album that contains something as painfully beautiful as "Fragile" or quirky and clever as his tribute to Quentin Crisp ("Englishman in New York") is worth more than passing notice. To be certain, Sting added a pop-matic single in "We'll Be Together" and goofy (and frankly, slight) take on the story of Noah's Ark on "Rock Steady."

Take those away, and you have a solemn, moody album that lives up to its creators reputation for flights or pretension. Because as beautiful as "Fragile" is, it is the simplicity of that particular song that makes the inferior "They Dance Alone" sputter. Sting has always likes his music on the 'serious' side, so "Nothing Like The Sun" has always held up well if you allow the artist his leeway. On the other hand, I've always found "Soul Cages" to be a less pretentious and more personal album, even if "Nothing Like The Sun" contains the better of the songs.

Symphonicities Fields of Gold: The Best of Sting 1984-1994 The Police (2CD Anthology) Every Breath You Take: Classics

Thursday, January 20, 2011

New Status Update

Well, I have good news and bad news.
The good news is I don't have to stay up all night and sleep during the day.
The bad news is that Yellowbook just cut the entire third shift (10 people). I am now officially among the ranks of the unemployed. What a mess.
Anyone with spare good karma, please send it my way?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My Amazon Reviews: Lady Gaga "Fame Monster EP"

The Fame Monster [Deluxe Edition]You and Me Could Write One 
4 Out Of 5 Stars

I have to give Lady Gaga massive amounts of credit; she's found a formula that thousands before her have used, bent it to her own personality, soaked it with a love of the theatrical, and best of all, made it all sound fun. In one album and this mini-lp, she has become the biggest female icon since Madonna. Even better, she's stood up for her fans (her impassioned work to end don't ask don't tell) and used her newfound fame for more than the accumulation of dough.

So what's left to say? if you listen to the radio or goof off with YouTube, you've already heard/seen most of the album. If you liked "Bad Romance" or the mini-movie that is "Telephone," you're likely going to dig the music. For me, the interesting thing is the range Lady Gaga has on display here. "Speechless" is an old-fashioned torch song, and "Teeth" is the kind of devious sex song Madonna would have killed for in her heyday.

There is a part of me that hopes Lady Gaga evolves away from the already dated production of these original recordings. My fantasy is that she and her pals in glam/trash rocker band Semi-Precious Weapons do a project together. But as long as she keeps her sense of style and determination to remain a non-conformist, "The Fame Monster" sounds like it's only the beginning of the World of Gaga.

 The Fame Born This Way You Love You We Love You