Friday, August 26, 2011

Are We Not Men?

So, speaking of mainstream stuff, this past week I went to the movies, and saw the new " Rise of the Planet of the Apes" re-boot. Umm, yeah.Spoilers ahoy- stop now if you really want to let the plot unfold for you.
It had some moments, mostly those involving John Lithgow, who is an under-appreciated genius of a character actor. Also, the CGI is pretty Whiz-bang.
The story is predictable, , even beyond the fact of the movie having already been made.
If I seem reluctant to talk about the plot, it's not because I want to keep the films mysteries, because it has none. As much as "Hobo with a Shotgun" or "Snakes on a Plane", if you know the title, you know where this is going.
No, I'm reluctant because of how it differs from the Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. That film was a satire of just how polarized, and how close to real Totalitarianism America was teetering in 1970. This film is almost an apology for fascism. The protagonist is the Ape, named Caesar, and at one point, he illustrates his plan by literally making a roman fasces. Then, in the end, the film gives a cheap out to fascism, by removing the murder and bloodshed that real-life fascism always involves- instead trying to blame the victim ( the chemical that forces the evolution of the Apes is a virus, so the wiping out of humanity is not accomplished by our benevolent Ape overlords. Yes that's a huge spoiler. But does it surprise you, really?) So the plot repulses me, completely and utterly.
I think we're nearing the end of the Hollywood movie. At least, I fervently hope so. Yes, there should be a place for big, dumb action movies. I love big, dumb action movies- but I'm sick of remakes, reboots, reimaginings, and other recyclables. I'm sick of comic books as the sole source of inspiration, and the endless baby boomer bullshit of trying to bring out everything from the late sixties and early seventies. I'm sick of being subjected to shite that's genetically engineered for 13 year old boys. I'm sick of virtually everything Hollywood does, and I think they are sick of it, too. That's why the award shows load up on films no-one saw because no studio promoted them- not even the studio that produced it. That's why almost anyone worth their salt has migrated to TV, Cable TV, or online. So, if Americans really were a bunch of rugged individualists like the Tea Party would have us believe they themselves are, Rise of the Planet of the Apes would be the nail in the coffin for hollywood that it deserves.

My old Kentucky Home

You'd think I'm from Kentucky, from how often I rate Kentucky-based bands (Think about it- Workers, Metroschifter, Coliseum, Trophy Wives, etc. ) but honestly, I just like what I like, and I don't really care too much where it comes from. So, now, I'm here to turn you on to Bowling Green's own "Sleeper Agent". They're on the radar- heck even Rolling Stone has heard of them. But you know what? They're still pretty darn good, and part of the reason I'm writing this is to correct a bad tag they're getting because of the lack of taste the mainstream shows. Multiple citations of the Pixies are the result of really lazy journalism, not any sonic similarities (Well, Ok, both bands play indie rock with some female vocals and some male vocals). They fit in more like Arcade Fire meets Sleigh Bells than anything to do with the Pixies. So, even if the mainstream is telling you that they're good, the mainstream is saying so for the wrong reasons. I don't mean that in any holier-than-thou sense, it's just true. They do big pop hooks, but they don't do the sideways songwriting, the traditional harmonies, the biblical references, the surf guitar lines, the David Lynch homages- in other words, they're nothing like the pixies. Instead, like Arcade Fire, these are Indie rock Anthems, but like Sleigh Bells, there are shark's teeth in the bubble bath. It's not just distortion, nor key changes- they have some genuine aggression, and mostly keep things at Punkish tempos, with vocals straining to stay in tune. The keyboards provide more atmosphere than hooks. Overall, it's a joyful racket, but with a maniac's glee.
Listen to, then decide if you want to purchase, as always, but I did, and I chalk it up to the area- Kentucky seems to breed some really good rock music, you know?

Sunday, August 21, 2011


So, I was talking about stuff bought from Borders going under. I don't buy a whole lot of movies because I've got 20 movie channels, on demand movies and 5 theaters within 30 miles. So, I just buy classic movies that I can watch multiple times, and TV shows that I enjoy. So, I got two movies- Rocknroll High School- because who doesn't love it? and Brick because I love film Noir and hardboiled detective fiction.
So much for that. I got the following TV shows: Burn Notice, Lost, NewsRadio and Rescue Me.
Burn Notice I've talked about enough. You get it, I like the pretty photography.
Lost, everyone has talked about that show more than enough. I got Season three, which I consider to be the end of the show. The last three seasons were sporadically interesting, but it was a different show from Lost. I'm not interested in anything after Season 4, but the first three seasons were essential.
NewsRadio, was amazing until Phil Hartman got murdered. Think about the talent on the show- Dave Foley (Kids in the Hall) Andy Dick (Ben Stiller show, Mr Show) Phil Hartman (SNL) Stephen Root ( From Office Space to True Blood, he's everywhere, and never bad) Joe Rogan (Fear Factor,UFC,manliness) Maura Tierney (ER, Rescue Me) Khandi Alexander ( CSI:Miami, CB4, ER) and Vicki Lewis (Tons of Voice work on everything from Finding Nemo to Justice League ). The writing was Paul Simms ( David Letterman, Larry Sanders, Flight of the Conchords, The Simpsons) and the guest stars are a who's who of American comedy. It was like SNL, shoved into a sit-com.
Finally, what do I need to say about Rescue me to get you to watch the second best TV show around (Best is Boardwalk Empire)? You've got an amazingly talented cast, scripts that sound like real life, incredible stories filled with drama and comedy, and some of the best-looking shots I've seen on TV. Seriously, I've worked as a cameraman, and Rescue Me is better filmed than most movies. The only reason why Boardwalk Empire is better is that the writing is better- not by a ton, but enough that I'd say it's a better show.
So, yeah, I'd say I scored on the DVD's...

Where's mah Bookit?

Ok, so I've been taking advantage of Borders books going out of business. Here's the books purchased in the past month, not counting books purchased for other people:
Route 19 Revisited: The Clash and London Calling by Marcus Gray. Have I mentioned I'm a fan of the Clash?
Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation's Capital by Mark Andersen and Mark Jenkins. What is it with sociology majors, punk rock, subtitles, and the name Mark?
Hitman:My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling by Bret Hitman Hart. Yes, I like Wrestling. I was never a fan of Bret Hart, but he's a smart, interesting guy.
My Booky Wook: A memoir of Sex, Drugs and Stand-Up by Russell Brand. His comedy is hit or miss with me, but he's one sharp cat. So I find it interesting that such a bright young man could be so stupid.
See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody by Bob Mould and Michael Azerrad. I've already read most of it on a borrowed copy. Now I've got my own. Michael can write, and Bob is one of the best songwriters to come along.
The Psychopath Test: A Journey through the Madness industry by Jon Ronson. I take Ronson with a grain of salt, but he does write fun pop Socio-psychological fluff.

That's not to mention the DVDs purchased, which will be next.

Things Change

OK, so I have been listening to music released this past decade as well. I've been listening to the Cute Lepers, as stated below, plus two others:
I finally decided to give the Artic Monkeys a try. Umm, well, still auditioning them, I guess. I've got Humbug, as I reckoned it would be the one I'd be most likely to enjoy. On paper, you'd think I'd like it- lots of retro beat references, articulate lyrics, some punky aggression and swagger. Maybe they'll grow on me, but as of now, it reminds me of The Vines and the Subways and a host of other bands that my wife really likes I suspect more for the way the band members look than how the music sounds. So, as of now, anyway, I cannot say that I'm a fan.
The other is Big Business' new Quadruple Single. Things change. Big Business used to clearly just be a Melvins side project, and mostly a joke at that. There's still humour, but things have changed. Now, they sound like a confident band in their own right, and yes, I like it. They're very seventies-influenced, but, not unlike the Melvins, no matter how metal influenced, there something that reads "Punk" in this. I mean how could there not be? They've got an Anthem consisting largely of a one note riff, and the lyrics? "Guns are better than anything else". Here, see what I mean.
So, I'll keep trying, because sooner or later, there will be something new to catch me.