Sunday, April 29, 2007

I Pledge Allegiance...To Special Interests...

Incredible, this weekend...I had intended to write up a review of It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown at some time during these two days. That will be up on Monday. This past Saturday and Sunday was just too crazed for my li'l brain, and I'll be telling all (okay, most) soon. First, though--the weekly best-of "You Said It".

MONDAY, 4/23

"Thought for the day: If you do not believe in evil, you are not paying attention"--HAGERSTOWN

From Joseph Wambaugh's classic 1974 crime novel The Choirboys: "If there's no good, then it's very likely there's no evil either. There's only accidents."

TUESDAY, 4/24

"It's funny, I always call in to 'You Said It', and yet my opinion is never printed, although I speak on very informative opinions, opinions we need to focus on as a society, and then jokes of Mexico and welfare are printed"--HAGERSTOWN

*shrug* Get a blog, sweetie.

"You know what the problem with the schools these days? I blame the parents."

I'm gonna give this caller the benefit of the doubt and call "newspaper typo" on this one.

WEDNESDAY, 4/25

Blah blah, weather, Jesus, gas, hospital.

THURSDAY, 4/26

"You know what the problem with the schools is these days?"

*looks...sees query has been poised by a caller from Smithsburg...cannot fucking wait to read*

"The government took God out of the schools. We need the Pledge of Allegiance, a moment of silence and religious groups back in schools."

Which Pledge? The original, or the one with the amendation Rev. George Docherty coerced then-President Eisenhower to insert? And by religious groups you mean "Christian groups", correct?

FRIDAY, 4/27
No sir...I don't like it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

What Part of "Oh Can't You See You Belong To Me" Didn't Tip You Off?

Rolling Stone has just offered up this list of the Top 25 songs with "secret meanings".

Some of these songs are intentionally obfuscative in their lyrics...while others could not be more obvious. How is anyone confused by "Lola"? I knew it was about a transvestite before I'd ever actually heard it! "One I Love" contains the lyrics "A simple prop/To occupy my time". Swoon.

Greatest omission is "Every Breath You Take" by the Police; despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, thousands if not in fact millions hear the song as a tender ballad of all-encompassing love and insist on having it played at their wedding. To quote Sting, from an interview conducted in 1993:

"I woke up in the middle of the night with that line in my head, sat down at the piano and had written it in half an hour. The tune itself is generic, an aggregate of hundreds of others, but the words are interesting. It sounds like a comforting love song. I didn't realise at the time how sinister it is. I think I was thinking of Big Brother, surveillance and control."

If you really want a Police song to play at your wedding (or to dedicate to that "special someone"), you'd do better choosing "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

WNNNNNNBC! 22 Songs To Make a Pig Vomit

Yes, WNBC.com has compiled the "22 Most Annoying Songs" of all-time with the invaluable assistance of their loyal readers. For those of you who may find navigating the slideshow of crap too bothersome, here is the list of infamy:

22. "Jump" - Kris Kross
21. "It's A Sunshine Day" - The Brady Bunch
20. "Thank God I'm A Country Boy" - John Denver"
19. The Theme From Good Times
18. "Wannabe" - The Spice Girls
17. "Play That Funky Music" - Wild Cherry
16. "Mmm Bop" - Hanson
15. "Muskrat Love" - The Captain & Tennille
14. The Theme From I Dream Of Jeannie
13. "Mambo No. 5" - Lou Bega
12. "Hot In Herre" - Nelly
11. "Y.M.C.A." - The Village People
10. The Theme From Scooby Doo
09. "Macarena" - Los Del Río
08. "Copacabana" - Barry Manilow
07. "The Chicken Dance" - Werner Thomas
06. "Achy Breaky Heart" - Billy Ray Cyrus
05. "Who Let The Dogs Out" - Baha Men
04. The Meow Mix Jingle
03. "Mr. Roboto" - Styx
02. "I Love You, You Love Me" - Barney & Friends
01. "It's A Small World After All" - Robert and Richard Sherman

A solid showing, with the exceptions of 22 (I guess it helps your opinion of a song when you were a freshman at the time it overtook the radio; nostalgia ascribing quality to things that, if you were exposed to them at a different part of your life, you might have been repulsed by) and 19. I mean...the Good Times theme? How classic is that? It's on any top 5 I would make of TV themes, right there with Hill Street Blues, Sanford and Son, Space Ghost Coast to Coast, and Dangermouse. I guess, however, that I can continue existing in and contributing to a world where such a brilliant piece of introductory music can be so slagged by the infallible readers of wnbc.com.

The rest are fairly inarguable, although I would put the Baha Men at the top spot. Why was that such a hit? Because the chorus featured barking? What made people stop whatever they were doing to pump up the volume whenever this horrid fetid piece of pish came on the radio or TV? When this song first came out and rocketed up the testament to Americas love for mediocrity known as the "Billboard Top 100", I was a dishwasher at Hagerstown's long-standing Woodpoint Bar and Grill (to be, if I have my information correct, levelled and made into a new Sheetz any day now) and my relief at the head cook switching the kitchen radio over from a country station to a modern pop station was demolished not only when "Who Let the Dogs Out" first blared from the speakers, but when she turned it up and sang/barked along with the chorus. Have you ever stared into filthy dishwater and wanted to submerge your entire head into the sink on some "I Want a New Drug" shit, but with stray baked beans and mac'n' cheese noodles around your head instead of ice? Can you imagine a mere meld of music and words birthing such despair in your soul?

Now let us never blog of it again.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Fears of the Uncommon City Dweller

The more I read the Herald Mail "You Said It" column, the more I start to worry.

On Monday, 4/16, the only caller that really spoke to me did so undeniably. This particularly-concerned Hagerstonian was venting about proposed construction of several duplexes near their house, bitching mainly about the threat this may present to the steadfast "peace" the neighborhood denizens have enjoyed thus far. In two months I will be breaking personal ground when I start looking for a home of my own...not an apartment, an actual house. No more landlords, no more rent, no more pulling my hair out over how much I've spent. The particular homeowner program I will be using for this stipulates I can only purchase a home that is outside the city limits. Fine by me; frankly, a practical lifetime on West Side Avenue has given me my fill of yelling white trash and boomin' systems (often in disharmony). Open spaces between abodes also appeals to me. Which is why the recent lust for development of so much of Hagerstown's land is mildly distressing...not too strong an ache, but persistent.

As more than a few folks have told me, my personality may be better suited to life in a soundproof studio.

Tuesday, 4/17, also hit me nice and solid. A reader from Waynesboro makes reference to "that leader from North Korea" and then later to "the one from Iran". First, it's "Kim Jong-il". Second, it's "Mahmoud Ahmadinejad". World events and the leaders who put them in motion, men and women of utmost importance and authority, people whom we do not answer to, whom we did not elect to their position, but who nevertheless can and so often do play instrumental roles in the directions our lives take, the very least we can do is to learn their names...even if we aren't 100% sure of the pronunciation.

But the caller that I really wanna go to the prom with, and possibly even make out timidly with afterwards in a beat-up Chevelle, is from Jefferson County, WV. I mean, the opinions of people who are living in West Virginia of their own accord deserve the highest regard, don't you think?

Last week, the Circuit Court in Hagerstown took steps to become secure. When the paper printed the article about this new advancement in keeping the building (and to a lesser extent, the people inside) safe, it appeared as you see when you click the link to their site, with the very exact picture. This is what West Virginia (whole other state!) had to say:

"It causes me to wonder, is it not one of the employees that they have used for the picture? In that there's no jacket, there's no handbag--and how many people walk through that door with a big smile on their face?...this is quite clear an employee that they are using."

Um...who cares? Why is this worth anyone's time to point out? Yes, you are right, my likely-inbred friend, that is in fact an employee passing through the metal detector. So? It's a picture. It doesn't compromise anything. "If they don't show an everyday citizen going through it, how can we know it really works?" Huh? Just nonsensical to me. The caption says that the deputy at the door is monitoring the metal detector. No reference is made to the person passing through being a "street person" (what they are called by courthouse employees). So there's no attempt being made by the newspaper to pull wool over the eyes of their loyal readers. Yeesh.

Wednesday and Thursday...thanks for playing.

We end with Friday, 4/20 (insert inane stoner humor here) and the following wisdom from Clear Spring, addressing the Virginia Tech tragedy: "The gun didn't kill them....It could have been a knife, could have been a flyswatter, could have been a car.....He might have strangled them. It wasn't the gun."

Rest assured, I will be scouring the Interweb for recorded instances of human death-by-flyswatter as soon as I reach a level of ennui so deep that connecting paper clips is just too mentally taxing.

"He might have strangled them."

32 people? Yeah, he could have just gone through Norris Hall strangling dozens of people with his bare hands, or wire, or rope without being at all halted...if he was The Flash!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Make 'Em Say Err?

Nuh uh nuh uh!



LOS ANGELES -- Lil' Romeo says he's bound for Southern California, where if all goes according to plan he could be Romeo Miller, Trojans basketball player.

Lil Romeo

The teen hip-hop star has committed to playing basketball for the Trojans' class of 2008, Dave Lindsay, a spokesman for Lil' Romeo's online label, UrbanDigital Records, said Friday.

USC spokesman Dave Tuttle declined to confirm or deny the report but said the university hasn't received a signed letter of intent from the rapper, who is just a high school junior.

"We can't comment on any recruits or potential recruits until we have a signed letter. That's an NCAA rule," Tuttle said.

Lil' Romeo, whose full name is Percy Romeo Miller, is currently a guard on his Beverly Hills High School team.

"Basketball has run in the family," Lindsay said, noting the rapper's father, hip-hop mogul Master P, had tryouts with two NBA teams in the 1990s.

Master P, aka Percy Miller, was by all accounts even worse at playing basketball than he was at doing hip hop music. Which is a fair feat, if you've ever had a nephew who decided it would be great to take control of your stereo system and play all 94 of his No Limit Records CDs. (All I can tell you is, they are thugs, they slang drugs, they got mean mugs, and they give their mamas hugs. Also, none of their producers could get a decent kick drum sound if their weed sack depended on it.)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

When Politicians Think They're Funny....

You get stuff like this. To imagine, I once thought McCain was "allright for a Republican." Yeah, and bloody flux isn't bad insofar as diseases go.
-----------------------------
I have the hot new slang terminology (oh yay): bad writing will heretofore be known as "Richard McBeef." As in, "Jenn, improve your blog posts, you are really putting up some Richard McBeef."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I Once Pitched a Perfect Game in Ken Griffey Baseball for the N64, But No One Was There To See It

I don't care how mad I am...how mediocre the taste is...or how drunk I am...but I would never, ever, just cavalierly throw a slice of pizza at someone. Actually, it's more like some namby-pamby lob with minimal impact upon contact. Which is...come on. If you're going to waste a slice and get ejected, give it all you got. Samus Aran that shit!



Speaking of which, found some excellent YouTube vids courtesy of gametrailers.com.

The Top Ten Best and Worst Games Ever, Pt. 1 and 2--of all the shit games, the only one I can personally attest to is "Pac Man" on Atari. Of the best, no real complaints, but putting Super Mario 64 and Super Mario World together in one ranking...bullshit. Just throw the other ones in there then, give the whole series a spot! Super Mario 64 is the greatest video game ever, bar none. The fact it isn't number one is wrong enough, but to lump it with another Mario game on the list? That's annoying on a Hammer Bros. in world 8-3 level.

The Top Ten Women of Gaming--or as I like to call it, Samus, a couple other worthy women, and TNA with guns.

The Top Ten Video Game Weapons of All Time--Very few folk relate to the "use them in games so you don't use them in real life" argument like me. I've always been uneasy around guns in my personal experience with them, but I'm enamored of the different shooters in the history of video games. The more ludicrous, the better. I mean...the Cerebral Bore? The Gravity Gun? Why would you want to use a toilet as ammo? Well, why not?

Speaking in pure gamer mode now, can't believe that the Golden Gun from "GoldenEye" didn't make it. One shot, one kill, and it's a golden gun, the premier weapon in one of the all-time legendary games. Sigh. I really wish I still had the Nintendo 64.


So Many Opinions

My nephew was recently accepted into Virginia Tech. Recent events have not diminished his enthusiasm over being a "Hokie".

The story is unfolding...who did this? What was he in the general scheme? What is with that two-hour gap between carnage? Is there another shooter?

So many questions. And that many opinions. Hear the roar.

Ban guns! No, you can't ban them...that just gives the government more power. What we need is stricter gun laws! Oh you stupid Americans and your gun-crazy culture! We banned handguns over here and it's a million times safer. So? We get rid of guns, people will still find methods with which to kill. Okay, but guns make it easier!

Revelation of the gunman as Asian will galvanize a certain xenophobic segment of the populace, adding yet another issue into the argument.

I am a true crime buff, and two years ago, the shelves of Borders presented a new bound volume for my collection: The Murderer Next Door: Why the Mind is Designed To Kill. The book was written after extensive research undertaken by the author, Professor David M. Buss, into the matter of murder. Using information gathered from individuals (either asked to consider their potential for murder in particular scenarios, or to share experiences where they felt a geniune fear of having another person take their lives), or case files dealing with murders (culled from the FBI and a center for research in Ann Arbor, Michigan), Buss came across a revelatory theory on the prevalence of murder: it is evolutionary. Man murders as surely as he breeds. Rather than use this as an excuse, Buss holds this discovery as a shocking contrast to the established explanations for murder, ie, culture, media, entertainment, poverty, drug abuse. As original man developed and achieved greater status through the elimination of threatening males in his circle, so modern man achieves a sense of self-worth and feeling of accomplishment through robbing other humans of their very lives.

Which is intriguing, if simplistic. Of course I've never been one to argue that the simplest explanation is instantly erroneous. Yet what I took away more from reading Prof. Buss' book was not that man's inhumanity to man is inevitable and thus doomed to be tolerated and abhorred. Rather, I find myself more and more subscribing to this theory: that the stereotype of the killer who "snaps" is untrue. Indeed, there is often such premeditation involved in murder, be it individual or mass, that to say murderers "just lose it" is to deny some deeper, more sinister ingenuity within the human brain.

Imagine a situation where you felt an overpowering hatred towards someone (or more than one). An animosity so great that it drove you to thoughts of murder towards this offensive party. Why didn't you do it? Probably, you weighed the pros and cons of the actions and decided that it would not be in your best interest to commit murder. It then seems not-at-all farfetched that a man who killed his wife, best friend, stranger, parent, or a multitude of people, goes through this same mental process. Only in their case, murder was decided upon as the advantageous course of action. At which point, they may plan ahead. They may stockpile weapons. They will not be stopped.

This, to me, is soul-chilling. It is foolish to brand those who commit the most grievous of sins as "insane." True insanity is the inability to grasp why what you have done is unacceptable in society and worthy of punishment. History is filled to the gills with killers who not only have acknowledged that what they did is wrong by the standards of our justice system, but nevertheless continued to take a life or many lives. This is not "rage over reason"; this is, to quote Mr. Buss, "improving one's fitness." Asserting one's authority. Righting a "wrong".

Those driven by these feelings won't be deterred by a gun ban. They will make bombs, or use knives, or even vehicles to cause the mayhem deemed internally necessary.

These feelings are within almost all of us, as Mr. Buss' studies showed (91% of males surveyed and 83% of females admitted to at least one instance of prolonged homicidal impulse). Thankfully, most of us want to live and let live. We see the benefits of fighting back the basest instincts of our ancestors and adapting ourselves to a far more advanced, complex world than they encountered. But it would be a mistake to think that overcoming said feelings is to eliminate them from our hotwiring altogether.



Monday, April 16, 2007

Bosh-Oh! Banana Tree!

Unfortunately Deadspin does not yet have footage from the Angels/Red Sox game from today of a fan interfering with a ball in foul territory, thereby losing his beer and getting a slice of pizza thrown at him by a fellow stands-dweller. NBA security layin' das smackdown on a lil kid will have to suffice. I wanna sample his squeal and put it over a classic 4/4 drum pattern and drop some rhymes about biscuits.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Looking a One Horse in the Mouth

A truncated "You Said It"; two days of note and a remaining three rehashing one interesting topic.

MONDAY, 4/9

"I see Hagerstown is having a spring cleanup. Williamsport has no cleanup. I guess we will have to put milk on our leaves and eat them."


"Mmm..milky leaves...gaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh."

"If it's not made in America, do you really need it?"--HAGERSTOWN

Collectivism is the new black!

Finally, an opinion on homerun king Hank Aaron, due to have Barry "I Did Not Inject Steroids With That Woman" Bonds break his hallowed record sometime this season.

"He got hate mail, called all kinds of racial names, and people threatened to kill him, and he was doing it legally. He had more bats than Babe Ruth, but he was doing it legally."--HAGERSTOWN

Aaron had more than one bat at the plate? Why have I never seen this when they show the legendary footage of homer 715? I saw the two dingbats that leaped from the crowd to follow him around the basepaths, but not an extra Slugger. Jesus, was Nolan Ryan throwing more than one ball at a time? Bill James, help!

TUESDAY, 4/10

"We can't change the weather. God takes care of the weather and climate changes....God is in control of the universe."--HAGERSTOWN

Yeah, I still got beef with Big Man over just letting astronomers fuck off Pluto like that. Further, here is an awesome link.

Why no, Beav, religion doesn't discourage personal responsibility whatsoever. Finish your Frosted Mini-Wheats.

Now...the big topic. The expansion of Hagerstown.

40,000 folks on a good day. Drunk with people from Pennsylvania splurging at Wal-Mart. A Best Buy is being constructed across from Sam's Beast at Garland Groh Boulevard, and the clamor has arisen for a Costco. (Y'all...there's a Sams Club in town. Any of you bother with that? Fucking place sells vending machines, and food in bulk packaging that is so ginormous Henry the VIII would have balked.) Condos are popping up in the unlikeliest locales. All in the name of expansion. Economy. Opportunity.

Expansion: I support this. I've always wanted to live in Montgomery County, but I didn't want to make as much money. With more stores, more jobs, and thus more people working at/buying from said establishments, I can have all the congestion of Rockville with half of the median household income. This all sounds more delightful than a barrelful of strychnine.

Economy: See above. Washington County ranks 17th of Maryland's 23 counties in per capita and household incomes. Jobs at places like Wal-Mart and Best Buy don't pay shit, and they're shit jobs besides. Financial and emotional decay will prosper. (But we only rank 2nd on the list in those categories...holla back, Prince Georges County.)

Opportunity: Working in Hagerstown is by and large thankless. I am fortunate to have a non-salaried job where I can make as much as 50 bucks an hour, when the calculations are made. But lots of folk here are feeling the brunt of the housing bust, with foreclosures at an unfortunate peak and apartment rents rising, forcing paycheck-squeezing to a degree where juice is about to come out. I myself am seeking housing outside of the city limits through a Home Store program for people needing a helping hand to become homeowners.

These condos...they don't beautify the city. Not in these new places, anyway. South Potomac Street is still going to be cramped and bland, save two or three establishments. It's not going to scare away derelicts, or solve the homeless issue, or improve race relations, or make women feel any safer, or (and I hate to break the city's heart!) make people spend more at Hagerstown's fine stores downtown than they already do...THEY WON'T HAVE ENOUGH CASH AFTER RENT, BILLS, AND GROCERIES. It's like snatching the eyeglasses off of someone's face and then wondering why they profess not to be able to see.

Hagerstown is one horse. I like it that way. Despite all the other shit...I just don't want that to change. We are destined to be what we are. The intangibles of the city need work. The people need to grow. Sorry to say you don't get moral improvement via lattes at Starbucks. Your children won't break the cycle of isolation and resentment just because you can go to a store and smother them with the latest in technology and fashion, or because more than once a week the whole family decides to try the latest artery-buster that's opened up on Wesel Boulevard.

I like Borders...I love Wonder Book...El Paso is some of the best Mexican food to bless tastebuds...my point? I can get my fixes here, and when I can't, I can go to Frederick or Silver Spring. I am not so tethered to my hometown that I don't see the value in travelling to other cities or states and enjoying them for awhile. How many people in Hagerstown do that? How much better would we be, and how much less would we desire the trappings of the "big city", if we did some exploring and gained new perspective on what makes us the city we are? Would we realize how unneccessary coveting a new coffee conglomo is?

Don't worry about what the city doesn't have on its streets. Stores close. Minds should not.



Friday, April 13, 2007

The 30 Greatest Sonic Youth Songs Ever

Agree or disagree, know that this list is the product of blissful deliberation.

30. "I Dreamed I Dream", Sonic Youth
A Kim/Lee duet (the first of a few, despite what Bob Bert apparently believes), but that isn't the sole reason this EP track remains a fan favorite. On the heels of a hurricane, this is isolated menace. Everything about it is call-and-response: repetitive bass harks reiterative percussion to a tidy bed only to see two gleaming, jagged guitar buddies cannonball their resting place and soil the sheets.

The lyrics concern a couple seemingly doomed due to one or the others nagging solipsistic views. Sentiments are half-hearted either in actual word or delivery, but intoned so memorably by Lee and Kim that they stick to any surface. The infamous "fucking youth/working youth" would be echoed in the most bitter, cynical entry of Lee's JRNLS80S (yeah, Lee, I do read you), while Kim manages to make a woman uttering the word "impotence" a boner-birthing experience. See how she's my idol?

HIGHLIGHT: The perverted orchestral-sounding guitar section that splits the two individual spoken passages of the song is fresh as ever.

29. "Rain King", Daydream Nation

I can't handle this insane wait for East Coast DDN shows to be announced; there are two songs that will be played during said set that will cause dog-frenching pleasure overload in your humble writer: #25 and this, one of Lee's overlooked works of genius. The stream-of-consciousness lyrics pop up through SY's version of classic rock like the eternally cool observations of a man who has seen enough to know you shouldn't see it all.

HIGHLIGHT: "Crossfire rain king with his cadillac kid/Marries every dictionary from his trainyard bliss." Are you fucking serious? Amazing, amazing language. And oh yeah, taking bets now on how much of the lyrics Lee forgets for the new tour.

28. "Brother James", Kill Yr Idols
Bob Bert's drums only sound shit compared to the skin-pounding Steve "Jim DeRogatis' mom loves me" Shelley produces on all live versions of this beastly tune. But whereas said stage versions slay via speed, the version on record is tribal ritual, and not one of those encouraging regenerative powers either. People are losing virginity, limbs and lives to this soundtrack. Inspired by loser guru Jim Jones.

HIGHLIGHT: "Take my hand, you might as well/We're goin' straight to Hell." I don't know about y'all...I'm going where Kim says go.

27. "The Neutral", Rather Ripped
You may find this song boring, if you suck.

Rather Ripped got ripped ratherly, Dick Dastardly, either due to the overwhelming poppy field it traversed or the utter lack of skronko freako weirdo Ono Bobo mojo. Which borders on "official line" crap, really. People need to stop couching their dislike of Kim Gordon with these adorable explanations. Please be blunt about your aversion to the greatest female in music history so I can pity you. Please express your desire to live in a world where Sonic Youth is just the 3 dudes, and no Kim. 'Cause you are wrong. Sonic Youth without Kim Gordon is like sex without orgasm--not bad at all, but not as great as it can be. Kung Fu Nation needs to put that shit on a shirt.

It took a dog's eternity for me to warm up to this song, probably due to my acclimation to the whimsy of the lyrics. I don't care how many years she lives in New York or Massachusetts, Kim G. has a Cali-voice, and always will. This is a jaunt through the West just like "PCH", but less homicidal.

HIGHLIGHT: The simplistic purr of that effected riff after both instances of the chorus. Which was never replicated that well live, unfortunately.

26. "Shaking Hell", Confusion is Sex (I was at the show this performance is from...fuck yes)
The retarded funk of the bass and whack-a-mole guitar is C-level fright-flick--it's only when shit gets minimal that we enter Don't Look Now territory. Kim sounds as frightful as her nemesis Courtney Love looks these days. And, finally discovered she's a--what? What is she? A whore? A white slave? A Stepford Wife? A Republican?

HIGHLIGHT: When Kim gives the order to shake.

25. "The Sprawl", Daydream Nation

Kim's shining succession of moments on a momentous record. But it wouldn't be here were it solely her show, believe that. When people talk about SY stretching out and "extrapolating", this is a song that they refer to. One person's "goes nowhere" is anothers "holy shit, I didn't want that to stop."

HIGHLIGHT: "Does this sound simple? Fuck you. Are you for sale? Does 'fuck you' sound simple enough? This was the only part that turned me on, but he was candy all over." Snoopy isn't even this cool.

24. "French Tickler", A Thousand Leaves

You knew the greatest album ever had to have its say. Sonic Youth hit a peak phase here ("phase" being the operative word) and Kim's meditations on leisure go from beckoning to threatening so abruptly you could just hear all the Washing Machine devotees squeeze their cheeks together.

HIGHLIGHT: The entirety of Kim's vocal performance. I listen to her all out of key and think of how many people it pissed off and I...smile. Eight miles wide, baby.

23. "Skink", Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star

Kim owns this album; I still don't understand why it's her professed least favorite SY wreck-hard ever. Oh wait, of course I do; it's her unbearable guilt over hogging the spotlight and denying Lee Ranaldo's songs their rightful place, right? Lee fanboys are the greatest!

I want to swim slooooowlyyyyy around a green-lit pool as this song plays on a 3-hour loop.

HIGHLIGHT: "Here. There." Great example of guitars complementing Kim's vocals...not a common occurrence in the SY oeuvre.

22. "Inhuman", Confusion is Sex

Overrated like water into wine, but still tremendous--like walking on water! The guitars brook no pretense; they're too busy stabbing the dumbass kids who don't (or can't, stupid hormones!) hightail it out of the house immediately upon finding their friend hanging lifeless from the ceiling fan. Jim Sclavunos plays his freaky, loves-to-have-items-inserted-in-his ass off.

"My body is a pasttime/My mind is a simple joy/But you don't know me/And you don't need me/Complete inhuman". They'd never again plumb such pessimistic depths.

HIGHLIGHT: The beginning, AKA, revving up Satan's lawnmower.

21. "Mote", Goo

Just like "Eric's Trip", this is a Lee track folk consistently orgasm over, except I understand it in this case. As evidenced by "Rain King", Lee sounds killing whilst reciting the poetry of a vagabond mind over swirling guitar noise and steady, insistent rhythm.

HIGHLIGHT: The last 4 minutes. The moment on Goo when anyone with ears realized this band could never "sell out."

20. "Sunday", ATL

So brilliant not even a video featuring a talentless actor making out with his girlfriend can ruin it! (Just imagine the "So Easy A Caveman Can Do It" commercials.) This set the tone for an album chock full of lazy haze and vague yet somehow profound meditations on the autumn of life. "Sunday" is loaded with emotion and enlightenment on the levels of lyrics and music, and it
gives the overwhelming impression of a man happy with his lot.

HIGHLIGHT: The riff that kicks in at 0:15 is a total jack of Helium's "Skeleton". You will acknowledge Mary Timony as your guitar goddess....now!

19. "I Love You Golden Blue", Sonic Nurse

I dunno; tis fact that Kim sequenced this album, and I want to know why she put this near the end instead at the very beginning, as it was rewarded in the live show.

Tell me why the Youth should follow the herd in loosing sinister squeals and squalls when their old asses can actually execute songs brick-thick with weariness, sorrow and contemplation? Especially with Kim Gordon whisper-singing all the while.

HIGHLIGHT: "I can't feel the thrill." I couldn't have been the only one who had my heart filled then snapped in half.

18. "Cinderella's Big Score", Goo

Thurston's behind-das-bridge playing at the intro is a Sonic Youth fanboys version of "you know those guitars that are like...double guitars?" Fuzzed-out and fucked-up as the protagonist (allegedly, based on Kim's schizophrenic brother Keller Gordon), with pogo-igniting drum work and flawless structure.

HIGHLIGHT; The vocals kick in, beginning and end.

17. "Screaming Skull", EJSTANS

I may be this song's #1 fan, but don't get too excited, haters. No sledgehammer to the ankles of this grizzly beauty. Sure, the Thurston "Rap Damage" version destroys in such a brilliantly stupid way that Young Jeezy will be appearing on a remix of it for inclusion on his upcoming mixtape, Thaaaaaaat's Riiiiiiiiiiiiiight: More Rhymes About Cocaine Over Shit Synth Beats.

This is SY pretty much on autopilot, but so what? Thurston multi-tracking his vox to the point of femininity is pretty damn cool, too.

HIGHLIGHT: Thurston's end-of-track adlibbing.

16. "Karen Koltrane", ATL

More heartscraping Lee-on-lost-love here, with music for a spooky midnight guiding him along. The "will she stay forever" middle passage is magnificently constructed, and demonstrates Lee is much better suited to raw emotion than either Kim or Thurston.

HIGHLIGHT: The first two lines. That's how you set up your story. Sky is the limit.

15. "Starfield Road", EJSTANS

On July 2, 1999, Sonic Youth played their last show (in Berkeley, CA, for chrissake) before the legendary gear theft. In addition to a multitude of specialty instruments, the band also apparently lost this song; it has not graced a single set list since.

Shame. Best song about anal sex ever ("Whole Lotta Love" is so overrated, don't even bring that into the discussion; that vaunted middle section isn't erotic, it just sounds like a hyena orgy taking place in a wind tunnel). Can't you just feel the KY being applied? Can't you just see the rest of the band shooting each other disbelieving looks as they hear the shit their beanstalk leader is singing? "Ai ye butt cheeks can't be tamed/As I splooey my name/In flame"? That shit's icon status. Dude is yakkin' 'bout "bend down round this garbage can" and his band mates are attempting to zap alien invaders, and why is no one answering that fucking phone?!

HIGHLIGHT: The spaceship lands! Aliens lose! Turbo goes to rocket, no shit.

14. "Beauty Lies in the Eye", Sister

Close your eyes and make a wish...it won't come true, likely, but you'll always have this song to make you believe it will.

HIGHLIGHT: The animal call that pops up like a lion's death throes throughout the song, over shimmering-with-life strumming. Sonic Youth understand contrast.

13. "Hoarfrost", ATL

Oh dear God...there are two songs in the world that effortlessly evoke snow, "Skating" by Vince Guaraldi and this. While the former is light on its feet, this is heavy on the mind. A couple traverse frosted woodlands and for what?

HIGHLIGHT: "You'll know where/When we get there." This lyric sums up the career philosophy (insofar as one could be presumed applied) of Sonic Youth. Awesome.

12. "Brave Men Run", Bad Moon Rising

I hath ripped it from "Intro" like infant from mama--deal with it.

How odd--and invigorating--this must have seemed to those familiar with the screw-in-a-swamp that was Confusion is Sex, to hear this for the first time. Signs of technical proficiency here and there, and even honest-to-Jebus, no reach required, beauty.

The lyrical play off of the title is awesome: said brave men run, alternately, "in my family", "into the setting sun" and finally, "away from me."

HIGHLIGHT: Kim's 3 note bass pattern, Exhibit A in the case of KIM GORDON'S VALUE AS SY'S BASSIST VS. SO-CALLED CONVENTIONAL WISDOM.

11. "Doctor's Orders", EJSTANS

Kim tackling (in the flag-football way) the issue of legally drugged-up women. There's a great Mary Gaitskill short story somewhere in here.

HIGHLIGHT: The guitars finally quit clearing their throats, while Kim continues her somnolent tale of a middle class princess come undone. Anyone who's heard the "raw" version of this track appreciates this all the more.

10. "Orange Rolls, Angels Spit", Dirty

No one knows what Kim is saying, not entirely. It's Charlie Brown's teacher letting her hair down for Karaoke Friday at Ruby Tuesdays, or some shit. This, of all the rockers on Dirty, is proof that SY could do balls-out crunch and roll with the best of the time, but of course they couldn't resist throwing some good ol' maelstrom in the middle--where it at? in the middle!--thus cutting the commercial legs out from under the radio-ready beast.

HIGHLIGHT: After all that pummelling and pounding, wailing and wilding..."Say goodbye." And pick up whatever you dropped, I heard that!

9. "Reena", Rather Ripped

Kim's about as on-off with hitting these notes live as I am with typing up my SY tour journals. Self-burn! More relevant, the fact that she nails it here. The lyrics are suitably open to the listener's whimsy--can't really go wrong with a bipolar female protagonist, proclaims the expert--and there's lots going on under it all if you listen. Hear the boys share adventure stories, just as they've always done, except a quarter-century on the tales have an O. Henry sense of economy and twist.

HIGHLIGHT: "I had a friend who/Cried all the time". The double-tracked vocals are perfect for the song's theme of duality.

8. "Sweet Shine", EJSTANS

The fact that Sonic Youth have never performed this live is not as tragic as the Hindenburg disaster, but it is more catastrophic than, say, the Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping (I mean, kid was a Jr.; he woulda spent his whole life in his dad's shadow).

Typical Jet Set in that the band is resting (but not sleeping), putting the onus on the vocalist/lyricist to step up and elevate. Which Kim does, much more than her husband, explaining why 5 of the 14 songs from the album have made my top 30 yet the album ranks 12th of 14 overall on that particular list.

Thurston told NME prior to the albums release that this song was "very personal to Kim." I have heard a few theories about the dominant meaning of the track, chiefly that it concerns Kim's impending motherhood. Which certain of the lyrics could suggest. However, I did a full lyrical analysis (spared you here, oh lucky reader) and decided that "Sweet Shine" is a reflection on marriage, specifically her own.

HIGHLIGHT: Wherein I make my most poignant argument.

"Cowboys are languishin'/Little girls are bees/Is it really a green stagecoach/Crawlin' up to me?"

Lines so memorable Thurston quoted them at the beginning of his Alabama Wildman book; in response to an interviewers query, he would claim to have chosen them for their quintessential Kim-ness. I think they made an impression worth regurgitating for a different reason. The cowboys are the boys in the band, in moments of relaxation, say pre- or post-concert. The buzzing girls are as close as any band on SY's level can get to "groupies". The green stagecoach--genius fucking use of Wild West imagery throughout; note also the "Marlboro belt buckle baby" line in the first verse--is jealousy, visiting the wife of the guitar hero.

And there's more, all suppositions and guesses in a fool's game. We all have our explanations to fill such open space, usually designed to endear the song to us. That was mine.

7. "Disappearer", Goo

Tom Verlaine wrote Spin magazine's review of this watershed release, the first opinion on the group my greenhorn fan self ever read. He was, as I recall, particularly taken with the lyrics to this song, and it's one of Thurston's crowning achievements in the realm of pen-to-paper. Like, I would put this song and "Small Flowers Crack Concrete" back to back on a mixtape as a joke.

The band follows T-bone's lead and creates a soundbed sweet enough to float across the nightskies on, into the parallel universe where this would have been a huge radio smash and propelled Goo to gold status. Ah well.

HIGHLIGHT: "Pick it up and/Turn it on and/Head on out to/The Western Starland". Thurston's mild surfer whine never served him so well.

6. "Titanium Expose", Goo

T-money Mackamillionz was really at a lyrical crest on this album. Here he takes a stab at pinpointing the loveliness in a marriage's routine and he actually does it. Drive-in dreams and seasonal transitions, I guess Kim Gordon would be a hell of a muse.

HIGHLIGHT: That riff. That highway patrol-defying beast of a riff. I can just see the band riding that in rehearsal for 20 minutes.

5. "Stones", Sonic Nurse

Thus far, the pinnacle track of SY's 21st-century output. The start is actually so commonplace I was praying Thurston wouldn't start singing in mimic of it. Finally, as the words enter the frame, axes swoosh to claim individual sweet spots in the forest, making the journey onward easier, unobstructed grounds guiding your feet and naked winds whipping in your face to keep you awake and alert. Let's go explore; the dead are alive.

HIGHLIGHT: The best chorus in Sonic Youth history.

4. "Theresas Sound World", Dirty

Great title, first of all. I have a friend who may or may not have had this playing in the delivery room as her child was being born; it was an SY song, but she can't be 100% sure which. A good song to either come into this world to or leave it. If this is actually about Mother Theresa, well, chalk up another song on this list inspired by real-life figures who didn't deserve the honor (oh yeah, talkin' shit about a dead saint, I'm a cunt).

HIGHLIGHT: The gently plucked "hook" of the song is less effective if not preceded by the shearing glory of the band in full throttle. Sounds like the blood rushing through your body during the best sex of your life.

3. "The Diamond Sea", Washing Machine

The guitar effect at the beginning is still too cornball for me to give this song #1, ever. I'm sure it sounds wicked when weeded, but I don't smoke, so...poor me, huh?

Compensating for this, then, are thoughtful Thurston lyrics describing a woman as she begins to fall in love. The words are sad in some parts, sage in others, and ultimately sweet ("Sail into the heart of the lonely storm/And tell her that you love her eternally").

It is breathtaking on a lifechanging scale. It is not, however, how falling in love sounds. It is how it should sound; hell, I can think of several facets of life that should be accompanied by "The Diamond Sea" when we encounter them--waking up, going to sleep, dreaming, gazing at the world outside your window until it all blurs.

HIGHLIGHT: After the above-quoted lyrics, the band settles into a 4-bar lolling riff before the guits suddenly shoot upward and light the sky like the most no-bullshit firecrackers money can buy. No one is to talk to me for the duration of this section. The heralded eternal ending of this song is rightfully worshipped, but this part gets the nod for relative economy and abruptness of evocation in the listener.

2. "Silver Rocket", Daydream Nation

A legendary album's greatest track. Pure rock and roll with patented feedback break until it's time to lose your mind once again. Live, Lee adds bells to the middle section. Son, Sonic Youth are the greatest band in the world, and no amount of grey hair, wrinkles, or pot belly makes that not so.

HIGHLIGHT: There is no "highlight"; the whole song is 3+ minutes of "how did I ever live my life without hearing this at least once a day."

1. "Starpower", EVOL (no, no live video of this; Thurston always sang it and just fucked it up so fuckingly that Kim should have kicked his balls clear up to his throat. But, then I think, well, maybe as his wife she would have vested interest not to do that)

Steve Shelley brings it steady; the guitars are timidly trying out this "melody" thing; Kim is singing in the most imperiously awesome voice of all time about the ecstasy of having an idol. "Black to blue" is how the world turns everytime I hear this song.

HIGHLIGHT: After the second citation of the chorus, when Lee and Thurston join together on a mission to use sound to scrape a layer of rock off the nearest mountaintop. I shit you never, when I first heard this song, and it got to this part, I rewound it over 10 times. I cannot--to this day--be anything but gutpunched by the sound those two mere mortals are making come out of those lovingly hotwired guitars.

So there it is...drop comments/lists as you see fit. Thanks for reading, also, I'm not exactly F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Hump Day Mutterings

So what exactly will my father, among many other older, grizzled conservative diehards, watch from the time they awake until "Gunsmoke" reruns air on TV Land?
----------------------------------------
The newly-hardassed NFL has released its 2007 schedule. Here is where I take a moment to reflect upon the Minnesota Vikings' slate (ranked 19th hardest for the upcoming season) and make uncannily accurate predictions.

Sun 9/9 Atlanta 1:00 pm--a win at home...Mike Vick will not last the season

Sun 9/16 at Detroit 4:05 pm--2-0! Hey, sounding familiar....

Sun 9/23 at Kansas City 1:00 pm--KC is rebuilding, which means, 6-10

Sun 9/30 Green Bay 1:00 pm--Because a broken leg is far more decisive than any human being, if you catch the gist. This will be a Phyrric victory for the Pack; the Vikes first loss of the year.

bye

Sun 10/14 at Chicago 1:00 pm--Crown they ass with one of those Burger King/Jughead numbers. Another loss, but at the hands of a still-strong Chicago team.

Sun 10/21 at Dallas 1:00 pm--A shocking victory for the Purple.

Sun 10/28 Philadelphia 1:00 pm--Vikes lose by 24. I call it now.

Sun 11/4 San Diego 1:00 pm--LaDanian Tomlinson will score 3 TD's, pass for one, and pull a rabbit out of the football while selling Bud Lite in the stands. The Vikings stand at 4-4.

Sun 11/11 at Green Bay 1:00 pm--A pox on your cheese, Vikes take it with ease.

Sun 11/18 Oakland 1:00 pm--Seriously, the league gave Oakland games this year?

Sun 11/25 at NY Giants 1:00 pm--After 2 wins, Minnesota falls apart with Tavaris Jackson's worst performance thus far.

Sun 12/2 Detroit 1:00 pm--Matt Millen is a genius. I mean, why draft offense? Putting points on the board is really overrated, and not just a little show-offy. So the Lions will get Gaines Adams with the #2 draft pick and he'll flail around as ineffectively as Mario Williams; luckily for the former Clemson OT no one will care. Because he's playing in fucking Detroit.

Sun 12/9 at San Francisco 4:05 pm--Remember when the 49ers struck fear into opponents hearts?

Commissioner Goodell, listen...I am among the deafening chorus singing your praises for the handling of Adam Jones. To quote your own words, "We must protect the integrity of the NFL. "The highest standards of conduct must be met by everyone in the NFL because it is a privilege to represent the NFL, not a right. These players, and all members of our league, have to make the right choices and decisions in their conduct on a consistent basis." Should this not also apply to on the field conduct? Further, "Your conduct has brought embarrassment and ridicule upon yourself, your club, and the NFL, and has damaged the reputation of players throughout the league." Yes, I hear that! So then, Commissioner, would you not agree that it would be to the benefit of the league to ban the Oakland Raiders for the 2007 season? They didn't have one goddamn rusher or receiver who surpassed a thousand yards last year, and their starting QBs (Andrew Walter! Aaron Brooks! These are future telemarketers, not future Super Bowl winners!) combined for 6 TDs and 21 INTs! Not to mention their horrid mishandling of the great Lamont Jordan.

Respect for what you have done so far, Mr. Goodell. Players who disgrace the league must be held accountable. It's time to start demanding the same of teams who take the field under the context of "professional" football.

(Allright, back to the predictions. Just had to get that out there.)

Mon 12/17 Chicago 8:30 pm--Bears crush us again, on Monday night.

Sun 12/23 Washington 1:00 pm--Two days before Christmas, the Vikes beat the Skins for the second straight year, this time at home. Although Washington not having John Hall on the roster instantly takes the over/under from 7 to 4.

Sun 12/30 at Denver 4:15 pm--Minnesota loses, finishing at 9-7 and missing the playoffs. Again. But as long as they finish ahead of the Green Bay Packers, all is well in Valhalla.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown



Yes, it's a day or so past Easter. And yes, the intent was to have a review up on the very blessed day itself. Yet...food got in the way. Oh, the turkey. The stuffing. The potatos, both sweet and mashed. By the time all I could stand of my mother's "old school" vittles was settling in my passive-aggressive stomach, the best I could manage to pound out was my Sunday standby, the "You Said It" roundup.

So it was tempting to scratch off said review; but I could not. Peanuts television specials are programs that I have been itching to cover since this site's inception. As if an ever sharper nudge to tender ribs was required, an emotional roller coaster the likes of which makes the Hydra in Allentown look like a glorified Slip-n-Slide just recently let me loose from its safety bar after about a days worth of reeling and twisting. To immerse oneself in a childs world (albeit a preternaturally wise one) was just what the doctor ordered, if I in fact had an observant doctor.

If this type of thing interests you, I will be doing these Peanuts posts either A) as the time of year fits (ie, Christmas, Thanksgiving) or B) as my time fits (ie the non-seasonal specials).

So let's get to the nit-grit.



ORIGINAL AIRDATE: 4/9/74

STORY: Although Charlie Brown appears in the title, it is with this special the observant viewer begins to realize that the round-headed kid's preeminence is hardly a requisite for these specials to be made, much less to shine. Peppermint Patty is trying to teach Marcie the classic tradition of egg-coloring; Sally is fretting over remaining stylish; Lucy's avarice once again rears its crabby head; Snoopy and Woodstock are involved in some unfortunate domestic violence; and Linus sounds a familiar refrain with a tale of the "Easter Beagle", provider to children. Solid 9 out of 10.

MUSIC: How spoiled Charles Schulz, Lee Mendelson and Bill Melendez must have been, to be able to call upon such a gifted pianist as Vince Guaraldi. His work on A Charlie Brown Christmas and Great Pumpkin represents the apex of his Peanuts contributions (and will be covered more fully when those specials are considered), but to these ears at least, he never brought anything less than uncanny brilliance to the ebony and ivory. He reveled in creating classic themes for a show and then tweaking them with each subsequent appearance. Here, the introductory scene of an egg-bearing Marcie approaching the abode of "sir" features a pure "70s" rendition of "Peppermint Patty", one of his most uniquely structured pieces.

Low-key is the general soup of the day, soft organ and piano settling into the action with a sweet swing that brings to mind the greatest praise one can bestow upon a baseball umpire: to not mention them at all. The single exception to this is "Snoopy & Woodstock", a shockingly funky guitar loop with sparse percussion that is eventually joined by a tasteful but forceful guitar lick. This abrupt style of track was necessary, as it played over scenes between the two tacit animal buddies leading up to the decision to buy Woodstock his own birdhouse.

Overall, another 9. (David Guaraldi has released a CD of some of his fathers "cues", now for purchase at the official Vince Guaraldi website. This is hopefully the first of many, as no one--repeat, no one--wrote and performed better music for children's programs than "Dr. Funk.")

ANIMATION: Bright, but not tacky. No mean 1970s feat, you know. The children and their surroundings are drawn and colored perfectly, while the sole excursion into a fantastical realm (Snoopy dancing with the Bunny Wunnies) is executed with cute, exuberant detail. Give this an 8.



VOICES: In Rheta Grimsley's indispensable biography, Good Grief: The Story of Charles M. Schulz, it is revealed that the creator of the most patient loser in history had little forbearance when dealing with the children who voiced the animated versions of his characters. "Those stupid kids keep forgetting their lines," he is quoted as saying, thereby peeling back a layer of myth and reminding those that may have forgotten that the world of Peanuts is a world of bitterness, anxiety, and despair as much as it is of love, kindness, and humor.

Todd Barbee does double duty as Charlie Brown and Schroeder, a rather easy task in this special, as neither character gets much in the way of quality/quantity. 7.

Stephen Shea, brother of original Linus voice Chris Shea, takes over the role here. It's a relatively thankless role, no pun intended, as Chris' vocal portrayal of the neurotic grade-school philosopher is the finest job done by any child for any character in the animated history of Peanuts. Stephen does good by the family name, however, reading his lines with steady vox and even tone. 8.5

Melanie Kohn as Lucy. Any young girl who was/is able to give voice to the world's premier fussbudget without coming off as unbearably shrill should be given a free pass to all Camp Snoopys in America. Lucy's material invites--and not politely--over-the-top scene-chomping and spit-taking, but Melanie strikes a balance between the raging good and evil in this devil with a blue dress. 8

Lynn Mortensen is superbly naive as Sally; I don't think it's presumptuous to state that a requirement for voicing Sally is a tendency to recite less-than-seamlessly. 8.5 Marcie is voiced by a boy, James Aherns, who was at that tender age where his voice was soft enough in timber, yet rough enough in tone, to pass as a young girl. 8

The only 10 goes to Linda Ercoli as Peppermint Patty. Given the opportunity to steal the show, she nearly does, with a voice that screams "tomboy" right down to the softball cap atop the sweet pigtails. Why she was only used in 3 specials and one movie is a fair fuckin' mystery, if you ask me. Best "AUGH!" in a Peanuts special ever, and considering the number of times Charlie Brown missed the football, that is no small claim to fame.
Overall, It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown scores an average of 8.5, enough to call it a "great" Peanuts special, if not quite classic. Rest assured it handily wipes all downstairs floors with what passes for prime animation in this day and age (the technology advances, the actual animation degrades, how the hell does that work?). With categorical overviews out of the way and an actual rating determined, let's look at the nooks and crannies that make this such a rewatchable 25 minutes of Easter delight.

GREAT MOMENTS OF RICH CADBURY GOODNESS, IN ORDER OF SWEET CREME TASTE

9. Marcie has always seemed like a bright young lady, bookish certainly, eager to learn without doubt. Hence, her quest to master the art of coloring one's Easter eggs, under the tutelage of the ever-sage Patricia of Reichardt. As is so common with people of above-average intelligence, Marcie has trouble grasping the concrete. Ask her to consider the egg as a metaphor for the cosmos, she could not only wrap her head around that classic symbolism, but write an A+ essay of 3 to 5 pages with footnotes and not a single grammatical or spelling error to mar the gleam. To actually color the egg is almost from another galaxy to a young girl with a mind on different plane from her peers. Hence, her subsequent frying, toasting, waffling and "souping" of the poor chicken droppings. I once burned water in an attempt to make soup. Kindred spirits!

8. Woodstock's bachelor pad of a birdhouse, tripped out with the finest in gauche art and furniture, with French pop approximations providing the soundtrack to the life of the pimpinest bird since Heckle (but not Jeckle).

7. As Marcie, Peppermint Patty and Chuck Biz all sit slumped and crestfallen...as Lucy waits with bated breath for the Easter Egg Hunt (she's placed all the eggs, guaranteeing her victory)...as Linus is yet again withstanding a severe tongue-lashing from the thwarted Sally...a silhoutted figure traipses into view. It is the titular hero, with quaint flutes to signal multi-colored bounty for all the neighborhood kids. Except Charlie Brown.

6. Marcie receives an egg with a rainbow design. Just sayin'.

5. Superflous moments involving Snoopy that give purists strokes while pleasing anyone else who likes, you know, smiling: the hat-ransacking with Sally, the Bach-accompanied dance with Patty and Marcie, his kaleidoscope fantasy-dance with his beloved Bunny Wunnies (is he breakdancing?) and his defying of all sense of direction on the store escalator.





4. As iffy as I am regarding the merits of Lucy and Schroeder's unrequited love story, it is good here for at least one classic exchange between the emotionally distant musician and his ardent pursuer when she tries to convince him to bestow her with many a gift, as Easter is all about "giving."
"All you think is gimme gimme gimme, get get get."
"That's called survival, baby!"
S'wonderful, S'Schulz. Al Capp was write on the money when he called the Peanuts kids "bastards."

3. "Now look, kid. These are not to be fried, nor are they to be roasted, toasted, or waffled!"

2. Sally uttering the most "kid" lines in the whole special when she tells Linus, "I really want to believe you because I like you and I really respect you. But I just don't know." The earnestness of her delivery is tinged with just a hint of tease, the hallmark of the little kid who knows more than you think, or really more than they even know what to do with yet. It's a fine line between "aww, that's so cute" and "holy christ, why weren't you left in an alley?" with that kind of youngster, though.

1. For her final attempt to dye the eggs, Marcie is seen cracking them against a pot full of simmering water, then depositing the contents into said pot. The animators could have done this once or twice, cut away, then come back to an oblivious Marcie waiting for the eggs to boil. Instead, they drew a sequence in which Marcie is seen cracking and emptying the entire dozen carton of eggs. Lovely detail, and worthy of an admiring gape in this attention deficit day'n'age. (I would be remiss, however, to not point out the sequences where Snoopy goes to buy his pal Woodstock a new birdhouse. He has to do this twice, and the animation is identical in both sequences. The eggs tired the artists out, maybe.)

AMAZON.COM REVIEW OF THIS PROGRAM WRITTEN BY SOMEONE WHO WAS BEATEN WITH A CROWBAR AS A CHILD:

SNOOPY LAYS EGG, October 6, 1999
Reviewer: "wizzz" (USA) - See all my reviews
Take Chevy Chase and his hijinx comedy multiplied by a factor of about a thousand, and you've got this spring junker that completely eschews anything like artistic intuition or style. The first 10 minutes is clogged with wheezing routines that appear to have no punch, and no punch lines. Hold your breath, watch and wait for the Easter spirit to rise up from the Easter egg patch but don't be surprised when you find you've turned "blue". "It's the Easter Beagle Charlie Brown" is a trail of animation gags. The only thing missing was a magic act- I wish they could make this movie disappear.


A top 10 Peanuts special, then? Hmm. Can't say with absolute certainty of personal opinion until I complete ranking all of them, but my gut says yes. Which may just be the stuffing churning in there.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Another Week, Another Round of Bitching With Two Days Where No One Says Anything Interesting, Thereby Necessitating a Goofy Photo

Hello, Herald Mail. I don't think this recent time limit you hath imposed on "You Said It" is helping the overall quality any.

MONDAY, 4/2

The first statement of note comes from good ol' H-town: "I just wanted to say that the police are not your personal bodyguards....Be aware of what and who is around you. The world is full of crazies. Live safe."

The best part about this is imagining the voice of the person as they said it. Are these truly Christian words of caution, perhaps uttered by an elderly soul stirred by the most recent rerun of Murder, She Wrote on Lifetime? Or--even more sinister, Angela Lansbury notwithstanding--could it be the faux-innocuous "warning" of a "crazy"? It almost seems ridiculous that Hagerstown could have a mass murderer, or serial killer. Is that the next step towards infamy for the Hub City? From racism to Kix to Walmart to 34 found dead near Hagers Crossing? Nah...that's really more of a Gaithersburg thing.

"I think it's a disgrace what the Democrats are trying to do to our military boys, our soldiers...."--MONT ALTO, PA

Oh God, who let Pennsylvania in? It's more than disgraceful that there are people who seem to be in denial about women in the military. Or do they not count, since they shouldn't even be there anyway?

TUESDAY, 4/3



It's the best hip-hop related food item since Cool J Cookies!

WEDNESDAY, 4/4

"I'd like to thank my snow angels this year..."--SHARPSBURG

This is not a fucking retrospective! The snow is gone. Done. Melted like a drenched witch. No more do we have to trudge, or dodge, or shovel, or wipe. Bye bye to the black piles at WalMart with shopping carts perched precariously atop. I beseech you: no more snow angels!



"How easy New Yorkers forget what Rudy Guiliani did for New York in time of 9/11....they're backing Hillary Clinton. Well, they'll get what they deserve when she gets in office, and so will the US once these other countries see what a weak nation they are"--BOONSBORO

9/11 doesn't wipe away Guiliani's Disney-fication of what was one of the edgiest cities in America, nor his infamous statement one month after 9/11, "The air quality is safe and acceptable", when it was in fact especially toxic. Pay attention, and you will know that New Yorkers had grievances with "America's Mayor" before and after the September tragedy. He did nothing during that time other than make himself visible and say all the right things. (Ever wonder why people call Bush an idiot? He couldn't even do that.)

THURSDAY, 4/5



FRIDAY, 4/6

"I would like to see the Costco finally come to Hagerstown. It would definitely help our economy....People will travel from all over to come to a Costco. Also, what happened to our Starbucks? They're on every corner any place else, and we can't even get one in Hagerstown!"

I'm just shaking my head over the rush to make Hagerstown more than the one-horse town it is. Enough with yearning for what every big city has, when we are not in that league and never will be. Barnwood Books is going to be gone soon, as the building it is housed in will soon be turned into a condominium. Super. Who exactly wants to live on South Potomac Street, one of the most cramped areas in town? The idea seems to be to bring a better "type" of person around here to live (if not work) by remodeling existing buildings in less-than desirable areas, as if the appearance of the street will improve the denizens alongside. People are always the last consideration.



Friday, April 6, 2007

Gimme Indie Rock, Despite What You May Have Heard



(more pics here)

Sebadoh hath been reunited and touring...and that means Lou Barlow, Jason Lowenstein and Eric Gaffney. The band most frequently identified with the four-track phenomenon of the 90's underground music scene is back and playing shows like stupid.

I was a teen gal when the 'doh were being championed by the extant media as ramshackle brilliance, with sudsy kudos frothing from critics and musicians alike. It's quaint-seeming now, really; "Alternative Press" in particular has turned from an indie-championing mag into an emo-humping cum-rag. It never fails to amaze, those trips to Borders wherein I am greeted with the unsmiling visages of immaculately made-up musicians comprising a band with a stock name making stock music, shining forth from the cover of a magazine that once championed bands like Sonic Youth, Fugazi and Husker Du on the regular.

It was a no-brainer in that glorious time--Sebadoh ruled. While all three members contributed songs, it was Lou Barlow who stood out to most, with his easily-aped but rarely-matched skill for wry tenderness. Also, dude released 741 albums in 8 years that were recorded entirely in his bedroom. Fo' real doe. For a while, he had every weeded-out asshole with a guitar and a yearning heart believe that they too could achieve indie-god status if they added "four-track recorder" to the promising mix.

It was all going OG smooth, until 1994's Bakesale, when Gaffney left. Many a Sebadoh fan felt relief, as it was almost conventional wisdom that Eric seemed to revel in contributing tunes to the band's albums that would fuck up the so-called "sequential flow". He was put up against Lou and Jason and found lacking. So from then on, those fans could stop bitching about asshole Gaffney trashing another record and instead share deep insight as they debated the merits of Lou vs. Jason, pretty much the Lennon/Mccartney of the 90s.

And really...Bakesale is fucking great. Harmacy is great. Nothing beats III, but Christ, it took these guys until the last album to start dragging on the road, so why the hell would not Patrick and I purchase tix to see this Ashford and Simpson moment at the legendary 9:30 club in DC? Three reasons in less than five seconds! Ha! Knew you couldn't do it.

We drove down to his house in Olney after I got off work, killing time by playing with his maltese Kirby (who had a rather nasty wheeze) and worrying. Patrick always worries whenever he has to drive into DC, or any place further away than one hour. He gets silent and his stomach churns. He gets over it after I beat the piss out of him, though.

The doors were scheduled for 7:30, so we left at 5:30. The air was suggestive of May, clean and beautiful, sun still hanging in there with a non-oppressive breeze blowing consistently. (In clear, welcome contrast to Hagerstown, where the winds range from skin-peeling to hair-shearing.)

Patrick did the majority of the yakking. The peak was when he lamented the paucity of Sam Most records, particularly in comparison to Herbie Mann or Eric Dolphy.

"Did you know Eric Dolphy played on three records with John Coltrane? That's incredible."

Earlier we had wondered why Sam Most's original recordings weren't gifted with the same CD reissue madness and Wire magazine oral fest that someone like a Herbie Mann received, and it certainly couldn't have been internecine machinations--Most was a buddy of Mann's, for one. It just be's the way sometimes. Even Dolphy lived and created amid indifference if not antipathy (Miles Davis was a notorious non-fan) but you don't have to search too hard to get his music these days.

When Patrick asked for a prediction on the length of the waiting line outside the club, I predicted about 20 or so folks, roughly. It proved to be right on the money...minus the 2.

"The show is tonight, right?" Which made me laugh and recall the Le Tigre show at the self-same club where we chanced to talk up an older woman at the front of the line all crashed out on a blanket and asking if we were Steve Earle fans. It took 10 minutes until we sussed out the situation and regretfully informed her that she was at the front of the line for the wrong show.

Waiting was punctuated by Patrick moving his car several times, by choice and not force. Upon entrance, we hit up the merch table for two shirts, a sticker and the "Wade Through the Boggs" tour CD. (Does Boston still love that clown after he tried to get the Hall of Fame to show a Tampa Bay cap on his plaque?)

Up front, slight to the right. Nice one, that. Gazing at the bar.

"Do they have Dogfish Head Ale still?" Patrick wondered as Stereolab glided from the PA. "Oh yeah. They have the Raison Derriere. I mean, Raison D'etre."

"What the fuck," I laughed. "What brand is 'Raison Derriere? 'The Reason For Your Ass'?"

"Oh, shut up!" God he always looks so cute when he's having his verbal slip ups laughed out and played off of.

Bent Moustache opened, a passable trio with a distinct "veteran" look who pummelled pleasantly to a rather unimpressed gathering of slackers. The tall Liverpudlian bassist/vocalist said that a misinformed blog claimed their drummer was formerly in the Exploited, for God's sake. "Sad cunts."

Said bassist was the highlight of their show, as it was a joy to watch him expertly pluck and strum his instrument, itself Boss-ed the fuck out to the point of sounding like a rhinoceros in the throes of autoerotic aspyhxiation. Tuning was a problem, though, and midway through the set, he actually pulled out his cell phone and implored his "bass tech" to help him out. Many cheers and peals of laughter when Lou Barlow bounded up.

After 10 songs, the openers left and the crowd filled up a bit more.

When the PA started playing the "say hello to Sebadoh" tape, it was time.

Lou took bass, Eric guitar, and Jason on drums. They would alternate instruments throughout. My superficial thoughts upon first exposure


"Lou's wearing three layers up there. O'Rourke used to wear three layers on the stage all the time. What is with needing to feel all warm?"

"Nice Mission of Burma shirt Jason has on."

"Eric looks like my friend Tom would if he got incredibly stoned and beat upside the head with a bag of flour."

It was about 80 minutes or so, an "extensive" set as Lou said. Vastly satisfying, with the only real low point being "Brand New Love" lost in a maelstrom of bass. "Gimme Indie Rock" was the perfect ender (Lou started cracking up before the "smokin' pot" part) but the crowd reaction reached its peak at "Freed Pig" and the "Bakesale Suite." Especially the girls next to us in the crowd, goddamn did they get dancing when the band played "Flood". (Note to Sebadoh dudes and all Sebadoh dude fans: bitches be lovin' "Flood". Bang that shit for some certain...well, a handjob at least.)

Every member of the band had their first name bellowed by different audience dudes. Hey, that's why you get in a band in the first place, to hear other men howl your name in ecstasy.

I'm getting old...halfway through my left ear started to hurt, albeit temporarily. That shit never used to happen unless I saw someone like Black Dice, you know. But even then that was more of feeling an imaginary fissure in my chest.

Patrick and I decided that in addition to being a top-notch performance, this was the best gig banter EVER.

Lou Barlow on why he only uses four strings on his acoustic: "Hey, you only have four fingers."

Lou Barlow on DC: "You guys are having spring, not a lotta places are having spring." A bit more indecipherable blabber, until I caught him talking about allergies.

"Allegra!" offered a fan.

"Yeah. Not Sudafed-D though, that's bullshit. I've been carded trying to get that shit."

"Bent Moustache said you guys were the worst audience ever."

All great moments. But the pinnacle was climbed with some help from a short young man standing next to Patrick. This bespeckled fella was pretty much leaning over onto the stage and voiced a complaint in between songs.

"I can't hear the vocals."

Lou was unmoved. "Well, that's because of where you are. Do I need to explain this to you? see this..."--he walked over--"is the PA system. It projects sound out into the crowd. Your head is"--and here Lou crouched and made a gesture to indicate that the fan's head was indeed towards the stage itself, explaining therefore his difficulty in discerning the vocals.

"Yeah, but the monitor..."

"Right, that's facing us."

"Lou is such a good teacher", I told Patrick amid all the hooting, laughing, and requests for "Shit Soup."

"Why don't you come sit up here then?" Lou offered. "Put your head up against the monitor."

And he did. For one song, dude had the best seat in the house.



"Make him sign a waiver!" someone yelled before they started.

Lil guy wanted to stay for one more song but was shooed off most emphatically by a drumming Gaffney, who argued that the fan's position was "distracting". Eric Gaffney cannot be expected to keep a decent beat with such slender, blue-jeaned indie boy ass in front of him.

Jesus, it was so fun. Even if "Brand New Love" was drowned of its beauty and no one yelled "J Mascis is a white-haired fat-ass!"

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Indiest Catch

Tonight will be spent at the 9:30 Club, watching and listening and overall indieing to a reunited Sebadoh. Per reviews, they aren't doing much later period stuff, but so long as they do "Gimme Indie Rock" people who think they're too "rooted in what's really going on" will "enjoy it".

Yeah, the quotation mark generation never dies, it just shrugs its shoulders and lets the new breed takes its place on the floor.



Charles Schulz was onto something when he created "5." The character never made too much impact (hence his absence from my list of greatest Peanuts) but the backstory of 5 was too delicious: his father, despairing over the perceived omnipresence of numbers in the lives of everyday people, names his children 3, 4 and 5. This paranoid, hysterical renunication of letters as personal identification (and identity) was one of Schulz's most penetrating ideas, answering in one way a query many fans of the strip often pondered: what would the Peanuts kids be like as adults? Overaware and naming their children in surrender, for one thing. So many people my age and younger are still clinging to an ironic, hyper-clever mindstate like it's a window ledge. One of them will finally snap in a brilliant way and couch the names of their future children in quotation marks. Yet another will bookend his offsprings names with punctuation marks (!David%). And the trend will be born along with those poor schmos. Pitchforkmedia bylines are gonna be a fucking mess to read in 20 years

Tonight's show means I will miss the premiere episode of Season 3 of "World's Deadliest Catch", on Discovery Channel. Lest I despair and rename myself, it will only be rerun several dozen more times over the next week.