Monday, April 27, 2009

More Gomez Love to Go Around - and Then Some

As if Ian Ball hasn't been busy enough with Gomez and the solo album he put out last year, he and a couple of his bandmates (Olly Peacock, Dajon Everett) were part of a recent collaborative "supergroup" type project that's going to see the light of day May 12. In addition to those three, Operation Aloha comprises: Maroon 5's James Valentine and Jesse Carmichael; Phantom Planet's Sam Farrar, and several others (14 people in total). A MySpace page already exists with sound files.

You Knew This Was Coming, Right?

The funny thing about the less kind internet reaction of teenaged boys and younger men (and some young women) to Susan Boyle is how it revealed what little they understand of what goes into the making a typical starlet (see below) - or for that matter, anyone with a highly active, upscale, social/professional life - from the visual side.

Eyebrows tweezed, check. Hairdo and color, check. Wardrobe - in progress. Now, about that double chin .... one month? Two?

Just in case you've forgotten:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

And Bonnaroo Is Coming

Very disturbing video making the rounds, from a Coachella incident. One concert-goer (probably on drugs) stripped down and when three police officers confronted him, reasonably, and tried to get him to put his clothes back on, he refused. After a couple of minutes back and forth, they took him down. What seems more than a little unreasonable, to me, was the number of times they tased him instead of putting the cuffs right on him.

Video here

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

There's the Dickens

From USA Today:

Streep juggles pots, pans and pâté in what promises to be a deliciously rich portrait of Julia Child during the decade-long span when she evolved into America's queen of French cuisine in Julie & Julia. Joining her is Amy Adams, her nun sidekick from Doubt, as blogger Julie Powell, who spent a year toiling over all 524 recipes in Child's classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

The above photo will remind some people of Dan Ackroyd's famous SNL spoof:

I'm put equally in mind of this:

Monday, April 20, 2009

Green Day Tour Dates

Just announced. All venues TBA. I expect Nashville will be either Riverfront Park or the Sommet Center.


3rd Seattle, WA
4th Vancouver, BC
6th Edmonton, AB
7th Saskatoon, SAS
9th Winnipeg, MAN
10th Fargo, ND
11th Minneapolis, MN
13th Chicago, IL
14th Detroit, MI
16th Hamilton, ONT
17th Ottawa, ONT
18th Montreal, QUE
20th Boston, MA
21st Philadelphia, PA
22nd Pittsburgh, PA
24th Hartford, CT
25th Albany, NY
27th New York, NY
29th Washington, DC
31st Nashville, TN


1st Atlanta, GA
3rd Tampa, FL
4th Miami, FL
5th Orlando, FL
7th New Orleans, LA
8th Houston, TX
9th San Antonio, TX
11th St. Louis, MO
12th Kansas City, MO
13th Omaha, NE
15th Denver, CO
16th Salt Lake City, UT
18th San Jose, CA
20th San Diego, CA
21st Las Vegas, NV
22nd Phoenix, AX
24th Sacramento, CA
25th Los Angeles, CA

Wilco Tour Dates

6/12 - Cincinnati, OH - Aronoff Center
6/13 - Manchester, TN - Bonnaroo
6/15 - Oklahoma City, OK - Bricktown Events Center
6/17 - El Paso, TX - Abraham Center
6/18 - Tucson, AZ - Centennial Hall
6/19 - Las Vegas, NV - The Joint
6/20 - Pomona, CA - Fox Theater
6/22-23 - Los Angeles, CA - Wiltern Theater
6/27 - Berkley, CA - Greek Theater
6/28 - Stateline, NV - Kake Tahoe Outdoor Arena
6/30 - Jacksonville, OR - Britt Pavilion
7/3 - Morrison, CO - Red Rocks
7/8 - Vienna, VA - Wolf Trap
7/10 - Wilmington, DE - Frawley Stadium
7/11 - Lowell, MA - Le Lacheur Park
7/13 - Brooklyn, NY - Keyspan Park
7/17 - Portland, ME - Maine State Pier
7/18 - Wappingers Falls, NY - Duchess Stadium
7/19 - Lewiston, NY - Art Park

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Review: State of Play

Helen Mirren, Rachel McAdams, Russell Crowe

It’s hard to write about the new Russell Crowe thriller State of Play without giving away major plot twists; it’s even harder to think about the feature film and compare it to the original BBC miniseries, and not come up feeling movie audiences are being cheated a little bit. On further reflection, it feels like the movie audience got cheated at least a little whether they see the original TV version or not. The silver lining is, if you can enjoy thrillers where it’s all about plot, plot, plot, a la DaVinci Code, you should come away from this feeling like you’ve been well-entertained.

As State of Play opens, two seemingly random murders take place. One victim is a street kid, the other is an assistant to a US representative played by Ben Affleck, whose emotional reaction to the assistant’s death unfolds before a televised committee hearing. The media assumes - correctly - an affair has been taking place. They also assume the death was a suicide, but we, the audience, are clued in otherwise.

From there we get two hours of spandex-tight thriller that displays the relationships between newsmakers, news reporters, the now corporation-directed, business nature of reporting, and how everyone involved plays the other for their own ends, pushing a forward a narrative that’s occasionally something like the truth in the process. (There's also a romantic homage, as undercurrent, to the newspaper business in general, from the outrageous sloppiness of the newsrooms to the final film sequence depicting how a newspaper is made and distributed.)

Everyone involved is working at least two angles. The dead girl was in love with the congressman she researched for, investigating a privatized military business (think Blackwater Security). The congressman was, in addition to other things, using his longstanding relationship with reporter Cal (Russell Crowe) to leak the slant he wants the story of the girl's murder to take. (Looking at the two actors, it seems impossible to picture Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck as dorm-mates, let alone attending the same school in the same decade. The actors are eight years apart in age, and it shows.) Cal is trying to protect his friend’s political career from blowing up while, at the same time, trying to get the story right and play down a previous affair of his own with the congressman’s wife, inscrutably portrayed by Robin Wright Penn.

It was no mean feat to take a six-part series that never had much fat in the first place and whittle it down to two hours without losing any major plot points and for that the screenplay writers, including Tony Gilroy (of Bourne fame, if that gives you an idea), deserve a lot of credit. The cheat is the characters and acting suffer badly as a result. Everyone is perfectly watchable; there's just not that much room for character dialog. Visual shortcuts and archetypes operate as a substitute. Cal keeps a bottle handy and Dixie cups to pour the booze in, therefor he must be one of those, old-school types keepin' it real, man. Rachel McAdams' blogger-cum-cub reporter has her ideals and her lack of patience to run on and not much else. Helen Mirren isn't quite crusty enough to be Bill Nighy or Jason Robards in drag, but she's not far from it, either. Affleck is impossible to get much of a vibe on, at all.

My other problems with State of Play are these: the final plot twist comes so swiftly and with so little warning that it's as if the movie deliberately pulled its punch after spending so much time on one specific line of attack. Also, due to so much someone's-watching-you camera narrative, Russell Crowe’s Cal seems to be in jeopardy so often that by the time the final bullets fly, after that ultimate plot-twist is unraveled and so much of the film's air seeped out in its harried denouement, there’s no real reason to care any more.

127 minutes that go by quite fast.


From Salon Magazine's review of Observe and Report:

After Ronnie coerces Brandi into going on a date with him, during which she consumes numerous cocktails and takes too many pills, he grinds away at her in bed as she lies still beneath him, seemingly unconscious, a trail of spit-up trickling down her pillow. He pauses briefly to make sure she's not comatose, and she momentarily perks up, urging him not to stop.

The intended point of hilarity here must be that what Ronnie is doing is almost date rape, but phew! not quite. Brandi knows what she's doing, and she's OK with it -- because she's really just sort of a sleazy girl to begin with, right? Even if you just write the gag off as a sick joke, it's no fun to see Anna Faris used this way.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Some People Ought to Be Spanked

I started going apeshit for Franz Ferdinand's new album, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, somewhere around the 3rd bar of attitude that came dripping out of "No You Girls." Even though it kills me that there's very little here that Roxy Music wasn't doing in 1975, at least someone's doing it and trying to move forward instead of spinning their wheels in Guyville.

Not ten minutes ago I picked up a Paste, saw their review and had a major 'WTF alternate universe is he in?' moment:

But it's been a long time since a band as good as Franz Ferdinand made a record as appalling as Tonight: Franz Ferdinand. Truly, the four dapper Scotsmen that constitute this group should be ashamed of their tuneless, thoughtless, meaningless new offering, which distorts the proud legacy of a band that once mattered.
What makes the album so bad? Is it the leering vocals? The uninspired melodies? The horrific production, which cranks the sound until it's literally painful to the ears?

Dude. What've you got against, you know, dynamics?

I try to not intellectualize music anymore; it's not worth it to spend ten minutes - let alone two hours - ripping my hair out to articulate why something is good when I can just sing along to it or shake my ass, you know? It moves me or it doesn't. It throws me up against the wall or it doesn't. And the biggest problem with pop music in 2009 is that very few people who have access to distribution and promotion channels care to move anyone anywhere except in the direction of the bank.

Not only do I disagree vehemently with the Paste review, I also think it contains the most childish shots I've ever seen a creditable magazine take at an artist. It looks like something a pretentious message board user with no sense of self-discipline or restraint would post. Is this what professional journalists must devolve to, to get attention from online users? Imitate the worst of them?

And I love that Island Records' founder Chris Blackwell, no less, took enough exception to comment:
Much of what goes into determining great art or great music can be dismissed to taste and preference. In that regard I disagree with Nick Marino’s review on all accounts. Lucid Dreams, in particular, is not a mistake but a song that shows a band that is willing to take a risk and trusts that their fans are loyal enough to take that risk with them and that in the end will be glad that they gave the song a second listen. My primary concern with Mr. Mario’s review, however, is that it is ill-informed. Franz Ferdinand is neither lazy nor confused. The recent documentary of the recording of Tonight shows the time, care, and intentionality that went in to the recording of this album. The sounds that Mr. Marino chalks up to “horrific production” are part of a profound recording process that the band purposely used to create the sounds they wanted and that added to the meaningfulness of the song. I encourage all your readers to watch the documentary and give Tonight a second listen. Too often, we are so use to “instant classics” that we do not recognize true depth, inspiration, and greatness when we see it. In a few years we will look back on Tonight and say, “That is when Franz Ferdinand gave birth to their Achtung Baby.”

I don't know about the Achtung Baby business, I think they'll need to keep stretching out just a little bit for that. But there's no reason to think Franz Ferdinand isn't capable of it, as long as they cover their ears to infantile reviews like that one.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Boyle Gets Up For the Early Show

The sensation continues ...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Torchwood Fans: Heads' Up

If you missed it the first two times around, the Doctor Who spinoff returned to the BBCAmerica cable-waves two weeks ago and is back on Saturday nights. It was announced last August that the third season will only consist of five episodes and will run on consecutive days (I can't imagine they won't milk it out over five weeks for American audiences). That's not enough Captain Jack in anyone's book.

In the meantime, series' star John Barrowman has a great profile in a recent edition of the Independent.

Demi Moore Pwns Twitter

Who knew?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Susan Boyle - The Voice Rocking The Internet

No one ever heard of Susan Boyle until this video from the UK tv show Britain's Got Talent started making the rounds two days ago:

For a longer version, complete with judges + audience showing their pre-judgement before this woman unleashed that beautiful singing voice on them, try the YouTube clip.

In the Herald, writer Colette Douglas Home left this scathing indictment, which may explain part of the clip's wildfire appeal:

Susan, now a bankable discovery, was then roundly patronised by such mega-talents as Amanda Holden and the aforementioned Morgan, who told her: "Everyone laughed at you but no-one is laughing now. I'm reeling with shock." Holden added: "It's the biggest wake-up call ever."

Again, why?

The answer is that only the pretty are expected to achieve. Not only do you have to be physically appealing to deserve fame; it seems you now have to be good-looking to merit everyday common respect. If, like Susan (and like millions more), you are plump, middle-aged and too poor or too unworldly to follow fashion or have a good hairdresser, you are a non-person.

I dread to think of how Susan would have left the stage if her voice had been less than exceptional. She would have been humiliated in front of 11 million viewers. It's the equivalent of being put in the stocks in front of the nation instead of the village. It used to be a punishment handed out to criminals. Now it is the fate of anyone without obvious sexual allure who dares seek opportunity.


Susan is a reminder that it's time we all looked a little deeper. She has lived an obscure but important life. She has been a companionable and caring daughter. It's people like her who are the unseen glue in society; the ones who day in and day out put themselves last. They make this country civilised and they deserve acknowledgement and respect.

Think of that, the next time you see an advertisement for Wife Swap, or any of the other "reality" shows that exist to make a joke of the unglamorous.

Coming Up: State of Play

If I'm looking forward to this new Russell Crowe movie:

It's because I've seen the 6-part BBC production from 2003, starring Kelly McDonald, John Simm, & Bill Nighy. James McAvoy also had smaller, but memorable role. What we probably won't get with the movie version are the "character" moments, so here's some of what you're missing:

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Blogger Plagiarism: How Widespread Is It?

Colleen McCullough's 1985 book A Creed for the Third Millennium has been on my mind recently. I read it when it first came out; it's a retelling of Christian mythology set to presidential politics, and it's hard not to see parallels with our current situation.

So I went casting around the interwebs to see what discussions were taking place, if any, and came across a blog called Reading Room where a review was posted in January 2008 from author Gautami Tripathy. Note the first two paragraphs:

A Creed for the Third Millennium speaks of a world in not-too-distant future. It is more than a simple analogy for a time-transplanted gospel. Dr. Joshua Christian is born during the presidency of Augustus Rome. His story unfolds during the presidency of Augustus's hand-picked successor Tibor Reece, when the government invents "Operation Messiah" in order to bring a message of spiritual renewal to an oppressed citizenry, despite the reluctance of Cabinet secretary Harold Magnus . Christian's advocate Judith Carrioll manages the project, to his ultimate detriment, while hired biographer Lucy Greco tells his story for the masses.

Despite the many unsubtle analogies to the New Testament, "Operation Messiah" cannot follow--the story of Jesus too literally, hence author Colleen McCullough experiments with twists on the story in its twenty-first-century setting. Sometimes her twists makes sense, but more often they do not, and they leave the reader wondering where she was trying to go with her story. She may not have known herself. But she paints an interesting twenty-first-century America, despairing over climatic and economic changes, whose government goes searching for someone "capable of teaching a sick nation how to heal itself" and finds and then elevates a made-to-order messiah. These manipulations finally destroy the messiah.

There were a couple of comments. No major. Then I went to to see what they had, and saw this spotlight review from Brian Melendez in 2001. The second two paragraphs:

This book translates that story into the not-too-distant future. Unfortunately the translation is rather sophomoric. Dr. Joshua Christian (Jesus Christ) is born during the presidency of Augustus "Gus" Rome. His story unfolds during the presidency of Augustus's hand-picked successor Tibor Reece (Tiberius), when the government invents "Operation Messiah" in order to bring a message of spiritual renewal to an oppressed citizenry, despite the reluctance of Cabinet secretary Harold Magnus (Herod). Christian's advocate Judith Carrioll (Judas Iscariot) manages the project, to his ultimate detriment, while hired biographer Lucy Greco (Luke the Greek) tells his story for the masses.

"Creed" is both less and more than a simple analogy for a time-transplanted gospel. Despite the many unsubtle analogies to the New Testament, "Operation Messiah" does not follow--cannot follow--the story of Jesus too literally, so author Colleen McCullough experiments with twists on the story in its twenty-first-century setting. Sometimes her twists makes sense, but more often they do not, and they leave the reader wondering where she was trying to go with her story. She may not have known herself. But she paints an interesting twenty-first-century America, despairing over climatic and economic changes, whose government goes searching for someone "capable of teaching a sick nation how to heal itself" and finds--then elevates--a made-to-order messiah.

Just how prevalent is this on Blogger/Blogspot? I've come to expect it from 'bot sites that lift content wholesale and re-publish it in obscurity, but this? Do people really imagine no one will notice?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

How Not To Interview Billy Bob Thornton

An infamous Billy Bob Thornton radio interview is making the rounds and he's being called a heathen, more or less, by most of the world for giving CBC personality Jian Ghomeshi one of the harshest interviews ever on live air. There's even a YouTube video:

Full audio is here.

Billy Bob came into WRLT studios not all that long ago, arriving an hour late and by reports, was otherwise amicable. But in this particular case, I hope the interviewer learned an important lesson: when you've got someone in the studio who is as obviously sharp as BBT is, the last thing you want to attempt is anything remotely like a "serious" interview.

The second-to-last thing you want to do is share your crash and burn with the whole world. It makes me wonder if the whole thing isn't a stunt.

UPDATE: The interviewer, Jian Ghomeshi, was a member of Moxy Fruvous, who you may actually remember from when Lightning 100 played their song "Michigan Militia." They even played one of our Nashville Sunday Night shows and one of the things that made the evening memorable for me was that, prior to the show when I was chatting with the band, one member in particular was totally trying to fuck with my head (and looking back, it could very well have been Ghomeshi) and it was something about Northeast people I missed very much at the time. This just reinforces my suspicion it's all a put-on.

UPDATE II - looked at more of Jian's vids. Okay, that really is his style, to give it so much gravitas. You'd think someone who'd been in a band would know better ...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Into the Wild and Onto the Road

While Pearl Jam and fans are basking in the reissue of 10, Eddie Vedder was making plans for a solo tour. Liam (Son of Neil) Finn opens.

June 8 Albany, NY Palace Theatre
June 11 Philadelphia, PA Tower Theatre
June 12 Philadelphia, PA Tower Theatre
June 14 Baltimore, MD Lyric Opera House
June 15 Baltimore, MD Lyric Opera House
June 18 Nashville, TN Ryman Auditorium
June 20 Memphis, TN Orpheum Theatre
June 23 Atlanta, GA Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
June 29 Maui, HI Castle Theater
July 1 Honolulu, HI Hawaii Theatre
July 2 Honolulu, HI Hawaii Theatre

Brandon Flowers Talks Heresy

It won't win him many fans on the West coast, but The Killers' Brandon Flowers is loudly saying something that needed to be said in 1992 when record labels were scraping the barrel for Nirvana clones:

“I don’t mean it in a bad way, but I think Kurt Cobain and grunge took the fun out of rock ’n roll.
“Everything’s changing, though, and it’s starting to become a lot more playful and brighter.”

And then he had to go wreck it by dissing Kinds of Leon: “We’re learning that they (American audiences) like the guitar Killers, whereas you guys in the UK and the rest of the world have got this more melodic pop-orientated album.

“Kings Of Leon filled that guitar spot nicely in America but they don’t have a song like Human."

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Fox Fires Movie Reviewer For Doing His Job

This is an interesting situation. We're in an era where self-promotion is the name of the game, no matter how distasteful. We're also in an age of corporate conglomerates and "synergy" (which I'm sure is no longer a buzzword - perhaps "vertical marketing" is the preferred term?) where a company can own both a movie studio and a media outlet to promote the studio's output.

When being part of a multi-faceted business sucks outrageously is when you are forbidden from competing against outside interests because management thinks it's more important to prop up a weak internal link. In this case, security.

Several days ago, a copy of the forthcoming X-Men spinoff Wolverine was leaked to the internet. Roger Friedman had the misfortune of being in Fox News' employment when he did what he needed to do to remain relevant as a paid movie reviewer at a time when crowd-sourcing is pushing professional media people out of work - he wrote a review of the leaked movie.

Result? Fox fired him. From a company-loyalty standpoint, I am not unsympathetic. It's important for the studio the movie not be leaked and it sucks for them that one of their staff seemingly validated the leakers. But Fox is also a media company and the creative people in that division have to think about remaining competitive, as well.

It's an uncomfortable time for media people in general, right now. I don't know what the solution is; recently a conversation with a freelance writer of 20 years ended with, "fuck the internet." In the coming weeks, I hope to speak with more, in hopes of ... well, I don't know just yet. I know that most of the people who see the problem for what it is can't speak of it through the outfits and outlets that employ them. Hopefully, some good ideas may come out of it.

Monday, April 6, 2009

New Lily Allen Video Pays Tribute to Porter Wagoner

I remember reading a 1990s article on Lucinda Williams in Rolling Stone, and was struck by something she said about the country music industry based in Nashville. To paraphrase, "Music Row has an issue with the mention of body parts."

To the gentlemen and ladies of 16th & 17th Avenues South and surrounding vicinity, we present you this gem:

Friday, April 3, 2009

Gomez Interview

Lightning 100 started turning Nashville radio listeners onto Gomez with their 1998 debut, Bring It On, and some of us have been digging on the UK quintet's unique bluesish-poppish tunes ever since. Their new critically-acclaimed new album, A New Tide, came out this past Tuesday and I got to celebrate by talking to Tom Gray.