Thursday, August 23, 2007

Giggling Like a Tim Kurkjian

Forget the hoary expression "giggling like a schoolgirl". It has been rendered ineffective by video of ESPN baseball reporting ace Tim Kurkjian calling in to that evening's Baseball Tonight after the Rangers "instant classic" slaughter of the once-proud Orioles. In case you thought my previous blog post was exaggerating for comic effect....


John Kruk is gonna be doing impressions for the next two weeks, I promise you.



Peter Angelos Is Calling For The Moving Trucks As We Speak

Oh yeah, baby; feel the stats.

The most runs in a game since 1900.
The Rangers scored all their runs in four innings.
They trailed 0-3 going into the fourth.
They scored 9 in the 6th, 10 in the 8th, and 6 in the 9th.
The 8th and 9th place hitters each had 7 RBIs.
Littleton actually recorded a save in the game, going the three final innings.
Of the 29 hits, 6 were HRs and 2 were 2Bs, the rest were singles.

So much is revealed here: how much the Orioles suck this year (I didn't really need to add the qualifier, though), how little the "save" stat actually means (Lee Smith is a non-HOFer for a reason, and it's not racism), and above all the utter unpredictability of this game. Look back to the Devil Rays/Yankees series of late July, which started with a shocking 14-4 Rays whuppin' and concluded with the Yankees demolishing them 21-4. Over a 162 game schedule, things are liable to unfold with no apparent connection to logic and sense.

Some observers have joked if you didn't know better, you'd think it was a Ravens/Texans game with that score. Except the Ravens haven't let a team score 30 on them since 2005.

If you think I sound stat-happy, you didn't get to listen to Tim Kurkjian on Baseball Tonight after the game. He is ESPN's resident "who-the-hell-would-even-care-about-knowing-that?" dude re: baseball, and he sounded like he'd found the last golden ticket as he shared the obscure minutiae. "This is the most runs scored in the majors by a team since the beginning of the 20th century! A pitcher actually got a save! The Rangers left 19 men on base! Only 8 extra-base hits! There hasn't been this many runs scored by a starting lineup with as many players who have slept overnight in an Albuquerque Econolodge in baseball history!"









Peanuts Is Timeless, Pt. 3--Take It to the Essence

Oldie but goodie--actually, a lot better than that.

Seeing their maddeningly inconsistent set at Virgin Fest this month spurred me to start listening to Smashing Pumpkins again, and as it turns out, Siamese Dream is as much the fuckin' ripper as I recall when I was 16 and listening for the first time. I would like to apologize to Sonic Youth, my musical spouse, for this semi-torrid affair. Surely they are used to it by now. Despite heating the cookies of my heart like no other racket-gang ever could, I have been known in the past to sleep around on the mighty Youth. Past flings with Stereolab, Devo, Sleater-Kinney and (yes, being totally serious here, maybe you should check out their first 3 albums before you laugh) INXS have come and gone, leaving many sweet lingering memories but never has a band stolen my heart away from the former Arcadians. And certainly, a collective fronted by a man who consistently gives Courtney Love the high hard one is no real threat.

So in addition to the actual music I decide to check out the Netphoria.org forums, which is apparently the hub of SP talk on the web. It's chock fulla folk who think "Heavy Machine Music" is way listenable, and who really think Adore wasn't that bad, and why don't you leave Billy be, big bad media? There's endless circuitous talk on the whereabouts of James Iha (back porch, rocking) and D'arcy (back alley, freebasing), Billy Corgan's drug use, and my favorite, what songs he wrote about Courtney. Someone linked a Spin.com interview with that hosebeast where she claims "a lot" of the songs on SD are about her. Which is actually kinda true; I don't think "a lot" is accurate, but certainly a couple of the tunes in retrospect seem to have used her as inspiration. Like "Scuzzy Cumdumpster." Love that one.

But nothing I came across has justified my bipolar tryst quite like this discovery, a byproduct of the band's "breakup" several years ago. Click to enlarge and enjoy!


















Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Aeroplane Flies Upside Down



The band: Smashing Pumpkins

The item: "Rocket", Australian CD single, released 1994

Availability: Really goddamn rare; exact number of extant copies unknown

Price range: $100-300

Amount my boyfriend paid for it online: 4 bucks

Ebay sellers who have absolutely no clue whatsoever: Priceless


Words and Guitar--I Get It





This week marked the one-year anniversary of Sleater-Kinney's last-ever concert (well, so far) on August 12th in their adopted hometown of Portland. While I wasn't at that show, I did attend the gig on August 3rd in DC, which turned out to be their final show on the East Coast (well, so far) after the initial try at a show on the 1st was aborted when the 9:30 Club almost went kablooey due to typically face melting DC heat.

I don't think, in retrospect, I fully got what I was seeing. It was my seventh time seeing them live; I fully enjoyed the set list, crowd and band vibe; and that was it. I was grateful to be eye and earwitness to the show.

Listening to a bootleg of the show one year later, it suddenly crashes into me. The joy that suffused me while actually in the venue, experiencing the moments, is still there--albeit inevitably detached somewhat--but now I have the partner feeling of great sadness. That I was watching one segment of the tightest, sweatiest funeral procession in the northern USA and all my senses could take in was "Yeaaaaaahhhh, Ironclad!", etc. Li'l Miss Intellectual missing the bigger picture.

And it only took 380-odd days for this to impact me so immensely. Feeling shame over delayed reaction is almost always silly, and so it is in this case as well, but right now it's how I feel.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Richard Branson Is Probably an "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..." Type o' Guy

For the second straight year, Baltimore's Pimlico Race Course hosted the Virgin Festival, the musical clusterfuck birthed from the "transformational" smooth noodle atlas of pillionaire Richard Branson. For the first year, Patrick and I attended.

Waking 'round 6:30, we wasted precious little even more precious time with driving to the Old Court Metro station, then on to the Rogers Ave. station, where a bus was ready to shuttle crackers off. The morning of that Sunday was sunny yet mild. Unfooled, Patrick packed plenty sunblock.

The area surrounding Pimlico is typical "walk-brisk" Balto, with bummy storefronts and bus stop derelicts who acknowledge you only to insult you. The line is mainly younger folk, a lot with the yellow "two-day pass" wristband, and a distressing amount of Panic! At the Disco shirts.

A little after 10 AM, they started permitting folks entrance, with all flesh split into three unequal lines: those with VIP status (oh word to you, crab cake buffet and all no doubt), those with two-day passes, and those with tix for Sunday only. Finances were not the only reason we skipped out on the opening days aural pleasures. Get a gander at some of the acts on display that day: Fountains of Wayne, Amy Winehouse, Incubus, Modest Mouse. All ranging from boring to annoying to worse than rapists. The only bands that caught my eye were TV On the Radio and the reunited Police. The Beastie Boys played also, and I'm sure Adam Yauch's vocals were not only crystal clear, but that his lyrical flow was totally on-beat. Was Beastie wifey Kathleen Hanna in attendance as well, berating the sexist nature of something on site? Gee I sure hope so. Keep it real, Kathleen, since you don't seem to be doing much else.

"Bags will be searched!" Or, bags will be opened, a small flashlight shone into them, and no side pockets looked into at all. The Dimebag Darrell Memorial Security Team on hand, then?

Traversing the "venue" with a little under 2 hours before time of show was like trudging amid the nation's premier endless community yard sale. Scores of booths lined the east and west sides of the course, offering up music (Virgin Megastore had their own tent, with vinyl even), environmental info (Virgin Fest prides itself on being "green"; so does Bonnaroo, but in a different sense), and of course, FOODRINKFOOD. Pitas to gyros to crab cakes, pizza and burgers, even quesadillas and smoothies. Surely if one could not find a repast to satiate them, they were just way too picky to actually step foot outside the basement apartment they're about to get kicked out of anyway.

Making Virgin super-user-friendly was the presence of water fountains. Fest goers were allowed to bring no more than 2 factory-sealed water bottles in with them, which they could they refill to their li'l hearts content at said fountains. For those who get dehydrated with a notorious haste (um, that would be me), this was the kind of innovation that could prove to be an unparalleled Jebus-send.

After acclimation with the area, we found chairs in the "shade tent" nearest the North Stage, the larger of the two main stages. Whilst waiting for the days music to commence, time was passed with the guzzling of H20, the scarfing of a delightfully delicious lamb gyro (I can't even remember what that sauce is called, but oohhhhhh was it ever a fantastic treat for the tongue; EDIT: Patrick has informed me it is called "Tzatziki"), T-shirt-spotting (two Wu-Tang, one Mudhoney, two Dino Jr, two Smashing P "Zero" classics--which Corgan probably even thinks is laughable nowadays--and two goddamn Sonic Youth shirts. Hey Thurston Moore, you love Charm City, why don't you fuckin' bring your band 'round here to play then?! HUH? Wedding in Glen Burnie, my ass!), and smirking amusedly as two guys from the Trojan Condoms booth came over to the tent to dispense free sperm-oppressors. Wonder if it's policy to have the scumbags handed out by dudes who look as though they have very few opportunities to use them.

Someone had the brilliant idea of having a scroller over the stage to display fan text messages. Given a public forum, brilliance was inevitable--

"PANIC! IS THE BEST BAND OF THE WHOLE WEEKEND!!"

"PETER S. RULES!"

"TODAY IS THE GREATEST! ITS MY 33RD BIRTHDAY AND I'M STAYING UP FRONT ALL DAY FOR THE PUMPKINS"

And then there was the actual genius that snuck through--

"GZA SAYS DIVERSIFY YOUR BONDS"

"MUAH SNOOPY"

"PEANUTS AND SNOOPY?!"

Stayed seated near the North Stage for over two hours, by the end of which my bones felt battered. Yeah, nothing quite like sitting for 120 minutes with very little superfluous movement in 90-plus degree weather to tire one out.

CSS played first, prickly dance music for a smallish but still basically enthused crowd. They sounded tight and French, and even convinced security to let 3 festival goers dressed head to toe as trees onstage with the band to dance ("our own Destiny's Child").

Did a cover of L7's "Pretend We're Dead"! Man...L7 have almost been completely forgotten. Thanks CSS for remembering.

Apparently, they want beef with United Airlines. To the point of sucking on helium and proclaiming "Fuck United Airlines!" with predictably gut-busting results. For the scoop, check this link.

Regina Spektor came on to a gleeful gaggle of shrieking females utterly bewitched by her lilting vocals and delicate piano. She reminded me of how Chan Marshall would be if said chanteuse exuded beatitude as opposed to a beat attitude. Decent, especially when she started out acapella making a "drumbeat" by tapping a finger against the ball of the microphone; whatever that mariachi-style shit she was doing midway through, holy crap, never do that anywhere again ever.

The performance of Spoon brought me into better spirits for a few reasons: they reminded us of our friend up in Manhattan who works for Nasty Little Man, the band's publicity machine, and who told us she may be there at the fest in full-on work mode; I am a longtime fan of the band, and Patrick was just recently turned onto them through their latest release, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga; theirs would be the final show to sit through before actually standing and walking like a couple of Rory Calhouns to the South Stage.

Well, the Spoon boys sounded fantastic, and I can't help but imagine (hope?) that they won over lots of folks with their gentlemanly execution of a stellar setlist highlighted by "Don't Make Me a Target." That song's chorus should be bellowed by every fucker watching. Oh, Britt, you is a dreamsicle. Patrick is summarily impressed. "I hope they come by the 9:30 Club, I want to see them in a smaller venue. They sound really good."

We would miss the next two acts at the North Stage: Panic! (are you fucking serious) and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who Patrick was curious to see again, but well...you'll see.

By the time we took our ice cream treats down with us on the ground, Explosions in the Sky were into their set. As with the first time I saw them, they did the drone-to-crunch stuff magnificently, even if all told their presence on the bill stuck out like a cold sore. My general weariness and discomfort was actually well-served by their elongated harmonics.

The crowd, which had been rather respectful for Explosions, exploded for Bad Brains. Opening with "I Against I", are you serious. Ridiculous. Spazmatic dramatic all-the-way magic. HR was the sagely-blissed shaman as the entire band ravaged the stage with sheer sound (cannot give enough props to their soundman with the Nationals cap). With only a couple of reggae tracks thrown into the setlist, this was a pleasantly thrashing performance that whipped up a ferociously retarded moshpit in the middle of a crowd vomiting up crowd surfers by the dozens. (Thank you, festival screens, for giving those of us in the back premo shots of what we're too fucking old to try and deal with.) Finally, they made possible the wonderful sight, some 12 feet in front of me, of a 30-something dude in a backwards brown ball cap, dancing and singing and taking mad hits. I leaned over to Patrick: "Weed--making white people think they can dance since the beginning of time."

Look, I know we could have caught a half hour of the YYY's before Wu Tang Clan. I knew it then, I know it now. I regret nothing. I regret that I had to see all these poorly-tattooed shirtless wonderboys around us, rather. Great back job, dude. I bet you just live for the scorching days of summer when you can show off that...whatever it is. Says something about something against a backdrop of something else.

Directly in front of us on the ground was a father/mother/teen daughter group. The pops looked like a former hippie who still had his long hair, sloppy dress sense and facial hair, with an added middle aged paunch; the mom, she was no doubt from that era too, just add 20 more pounds; and the girl I imagined raised in a lasseiz-faire type household, exposed to cooler music earlier on, and encouraged towards chemical experimentation by her "with-it" parents, if not in fact given Weed 101 courses in the basement.

The 'rents had a brown grocery sack fulla Maryland's finest crabs (yes, some dude there was selling the little fuckers) that didn't last long. Not 'cause they scarfed 'em; the bottom of the bag gave out and sent slimy orange-red crustaceans onto the grass. They were salvaged by the mama's retrieval of a stronger plastic bag, thankfully. I woulda wept to witness those critters die twice.

Wu-Tang were 15 minutes late. Which means they were on time, basically. I liked the two dudes behind me having what I'm sure they fancied as a funny conversation:

"Why aren't there any musical instruments on the stage?"
"'Cause, uh, they don't know how to play any? They aren't talented enough?"
"And yet they're famous musicians! Imagine that."

The screens flashed an amazing sight: Richard fuckin' Branson up in the VIP scaffolding, waiting for the Wu. Unreal! I had to give dude balls for actually coming to his festival (as opposed to just treating it like another investment) and credit for seeing fucking Wu fucking Tang.

The only hip hop act we've seen multiple times (this making our second), the entire Clan minus Masta Killa--and I cannot be the only one wondering what the hell he had going on in his life that could supersede this gig--took the stage to a massive, and massively adoring, crowd that was only 95% white people. In Baltimore! I had a black dude next to me with his white gal buddy who just could not "believe I am seeing Wu Tang, they're actually here, oh God!"

To my great happiness, the family I described earlier were beyond excited as well, and big papa even busted out the video camera to document the show.

RZA started it off by telling us that "there's been a lot of talent on this stage today and you're about to see even more talent. I just have to say one thing...TIGER STYLE!" And straight into Underdoggy-style, as the anthemic "Wu Tang Clan Ain't Nuttin' Ta Fuck Wit'" smashed into the crowd, the relentless clickety-clack snares and barked lyrics ("And the survey says/'You're dead!") inspiring joyous jumping and feral cracker-ass cracker crowd surfing, young men popping up amid the squished-together flesh like desperate, futile flares into the daytime sky.

GZA, Ghostface, Rae and Method Man all got the chance to shine solo ("Liquid Swords", "4th Chamber", "Fish", "Ice Cream", "Bring the Pain", all told), and the hits kept rolling. The only damper was the little problem with GZA's mic...and Raekwon's mic...and at some point U-God's mic (but who the fuck cares if U-God's mic goes out onstage, it should go out when he's in the studio too, if you ask me). Prompting Method Man to address the situation.

"Yo people in the back, when the music is on, can you hear these mics?"

"NOOOO!"

"Well these sound people get paid a lot of money to get this shit right, so tell 'em 'get it right'!"

"GET IT RIGHT!"

Which, more or less, they did. How humiliating, with Branson right there. Humiliating and hilarious!

One of the only songs off the debut we didn't hear when we saw the Wu in DC last year, "Tearz", was masterfully performed at Virgin. The crowd was getting progressively crazier with each passing minute; if you weren't taking part in the surfing/moshing, you were "throwing up the 'W'" and grooving in the most hardcore sense of that classic term.

"Gravel Pit", the oft-derided single off The W, is actually one of my favorite latterly Wu songs, and it was a perfect song for B-more ("Get stupid!" RZA exhorted before the beat dropped. Yeah, uh, Diggs, what does it look like we've been doing?).

Believe it or not, I have even more to say about this set, but it can wait till the end.

It started to rain steadily when we headed back to catch Interpol (who are like a chicken salad sandwich to me; serviceable, and rarely outstanding). A crowd was gathered away from the action on stage as fest staff were on a concrete ramp grappling with a fan. All I could see was three security dudes holding down some dude with a leg tattoo. Opposite me, a guy was capturing it all on his digital camera. Never did discover the story behind it all.

A trip to the Port-a-Jenn caused trepidation; my capris already stained with "grass-ass", I didn't need any further ruination. Without going into detail like I oh so could, I'll just say that whoever was in there before me, they made an effort to not hit the target. Okay? And good job at it, too. Jeesh. Truly I can say I had the full festival experience.

Had to don a poncho. I felt like a cow with protective tarp on.

Smashing Pumpkins were the final act for the North Stage (311 was closing down the South Stage) and their set was maddening. We watched from a safe distance, depending on the screen as much as anything, as Billy, Jimmy, and the two noobs came out in that glam-prison garb to the strains of Suspiria. ("You know who that's by," I told 'Trick, "that's by Goblin. Italian prog-rock band. Lotta hip hop producers sample their stuff." Patrick paused. "Oh yeah, I can definitely hear why.")

If you're gonna start out your "triumphant" set with new shit, make it good, and well, "United States of America" is a good 'un off Zeitgeist. Also thumbs up to vicious renditions of "Tarantula" and "Doomsday Clock".

It was funny as hell when the gentle intro plucks of "Today" filled the muggy air; I turned left and it looks like the largest 200 yard dash is taking place, as people run towards the stage. If they did a few of the new songs well, the band plowed through their "hits". In addition to "Today", "Bullet With Butterfly Wings", "Tonight Tonight" and--wait for it!--"Zero."

"Let's call Annie", Patrick suggested.

"'Oh my God, Annie, 'God is empty just like me, 'cause I'm in love with my sadness.' She will be so jealous we got to hear the lyrics to 'Zero' live."

Which brings us to the less-than-spectacular aspects of the Billy Corgan Ego Show. This son of a fucker thinks he can just throw shit like "Starla" and "Death From Above" in the meat of the set and get away with it. He prefaced "Starla" with "I wrote this at a time when I was doing a lot of mushrooms." Thanks for giving me ammo next time I get into a debate re: drug use inspiring the best music!

"Death From Above" might as well be renamed "Death From the Stage", as it caused an undeniable exodus of flesh. "I hope they're leaving the festival, and not going to see 311," Patrick said. "'Cause there's just no excuse for doing that."

After playing "1979", thereby pleasing Patrick no end, they proceeded into "That's the Way", a sucky new song that is apparently the new single. Yeah, you would pick a sucky one, asshole. It was nearing 10, so we vowed to give them one more chance. The next song was "Heavy Metal Machine". Piss off.

Walking through the mud to the South entrance I was mildly peeved.

"They didn't play 'Cherub Rock'," I muttered. "It's only the best 'hit' they have."

"They played a really good '1979' though."

"Yeah, you got your favorite song, I didn't get mine. Fucker Corgan."

"Ha! Haaaaaterrrrrrrs."

That was a minor complaint compared to what we were subjected to leaving Pimlico: the sounds of 311. The end of their horrific cover of "Love Song" was bowel-clenching enough. Nothing could adequately prepare us for what happened next.

"This is for all the old-school 311 fans."

Oh dear.

Then it could be heard. A sound so ghastly it transported my poor kicking/screaming soul back to 1996, when its horror was newborn and cooed over. That wretched gaping maw of a riff, dripping pure weaksauce from a sky already dropping down enough crap. After these few seconds of frightful nostalgia: "Chill!"

Ah, shit!

The Pumps' bullshit song selection have unwittingly thrust us into the most unenviable position possible at Virgin Fest (just barely beating out, "under Scott Weiland's naked body")--walking through 311's mega '90s hit "Down", a shoutout to all their "Omahomies" that never had the guts to tell them they sucked at their punk/rap/dancehall schtick. Guess weed forgives even the most grievous artistic sins.

Oh, listen to me! Prez of a real Hateration Nation, ain't I. The gutless guitar, the pussy drums, the Flea-ridden bass, SA Martinez' rapping through his scrotum, and Nick Hexum's crooned chorus, which is mixed even higher than you need to be to find this song good. Jeez, I am just a real bitch. Golly. I didn't like this shit when I was a teenager, and it aged as well as...whichever celebrity you can think of that hasn't aged well. Stupid band, ruining my reference capabilities!

I saved my greatest ephemeral burst of vitriol for my wonderful Patrick. Since I couldn't yell at Billy for driving us away a li'l early, I decided to turn on Patrick for agreeing to head out in the first place.

"Impeccable timing, asshole!"

He giggled, as I hoped he would.

After that...wow. The Rogers Ave subway was packed. The guard on duty was suggesting to everyone that if people would go to the end of the train, filling each car in order, everyone would have room to sit. It didn't happen that way, mainly 'cause motherfuckers were tired. Sure enough, said helpful guard stuck his head in our car and said, "I know a secret! And if you'd listened to me, you'd alll be sitting right now. Ha-ha!" And yes, he did it just like Nelson Muntz.



Okay, I promised more Wu-Tang, as they were the best show of the day. Props to Complex Blog for a great combo of pics and vids. (You disrespected Poppi Wardrobe King, though, guys.) That was my Woodstock! Woo, when Meth told us to make as much noise as we could for as long as we could...yeah, it's a hoary live rap show trick, but we responded like they'd stop the show at anything less than the sound barrier being shattered. They ate us up. I felt enormous pride when Meth gave thanks to "Baltimore, Maryland", and not just "B-more." Throw ya Bohs up!




Thursday, August 9, 2007

Charlie Brown's All Stars

So, we all know what happened Tuesday night. The world of Major League Baseball was rocked by a momentous milestone that divided fans and media nationwide into restless frothing packs milling around under clouds of controversy: the Washington Nationals defeated the San Francisco Giants to place DC's best in a tie with the Florida Marlins for fourth place in their division. That's right, the team uniformly picked on by experts to stink up the entirety of baseball with the most pungent loser-stink of all is in fact not even in the bottom 5 overall! Ryan Zimmerman for God, and Dimitri Young for Jesus Christ! (Water into beef, anyone?)

To celebrate, enjoy this review of the earliest--and best--Peanuts animated special devoted to derring-don't on the baseball diamond.



Mildly fun fact: with a debut air date of June 8, 1966, this was the second-ever Peanuts prime-time program, right on the hot heels of A Charlie Brown Christmas. However, it would prove to have none of that holiday standards staying power, having not been rerun on a network since 1972. I blame this, as I do 54% of all things, on the New York Yankees.

STORY: Poor Charlie Brown. He is the manager of a team coming off a season where they were outscored 3000-6 and added on to a losing streak of 999 games (to call them the "Prairie View of little league" is actually an insult to the Prairie View program). Enter Mr. Hennessy, neighborhood hardware store titan, who promises to sponsor this gaggle of never-weres in a league, complete with their own team uniforms. Just one catch: the girls and dog have to go. (And they have to give up drinking Cristal after school. You've never seen Pigpen so distraught.) Sick over the situation, manager Brown tells the team they can expect new duds and to play their hearts out. They end up losing (thanks to the zig-zag kid's completely missing home plate when he attempts to steal it) and then Charlie Brown breaks the bad news--he has refused Mr. Hennessy's offer. Without offering explanation, he stands back as his friends disown the team. Finally, Linus tells everyone why Charlie Brown turned down the uniforms, and the kids pay Charlie Brown a tribute greater than a win. 10

MUSIC: The very first scenes feature Chuck Biz valiantly chasing down a fly ball. As he traverses field and homestead to snatch the airborne orb, a nearly-bratty rat-a-tat drum can be heard.

Quick-paced, call-and-response trio work is heard throughout. Vince Guaraldi proves the magnificent jazz compositions of A Charlie Brown Christmas were no creative stumble-upon, with light-hearted, tasteful piano dallying with muted yet persistent horn and those jumping-bean skins. 10

ANIMATION: Sweetly drawn and colored, setting the viewer in a atmosphere of great comfort to appreciate the story and the words that help it along. 10

VOICES: Charlie Brown and Linus are voiced by the same children who brought them to heart wrenching life in the first special, Peter Robbins and Chris Shea. These two boys would set respective standards for the characters never to be matched since. They sound natural and thus engaging. 10's to both.

Sally Dryer, who had voiced Violet in the first special, was "promoted" to Lucy for this one. She is a good, dependable 8; snappy, not sassy, never elevating past the snarkiness and outright "bitchness" of her lines, but not really needing to.

Speaking of Violet, Karen Mendelson is OK, meriting a 7 on the scale. By contrast, Ann Altieri's Frieda distinguishes herself to an 8 with her hilariously anguished cry when the dust settles on a prone Charlie Brown, still 30 feet away from home plate.

Glenn Mendelson's Schroeder is a 7, while Kathy Steinberg is an unimpressive 5 for Sally. Give also half a ten to Geoffrey Ornstein's Pigpen, and a 7 to Lynn Vanderlip, voice of Patty.

Most surprising is Christopher DeFaria as Shermy. His 7 is well-earned, for even though he has only one line, it is a doozy and delivered with sad-boy perfection: "Charlie Brown, I think you get a neurotic pleasure out of losing all the time." They don't make children's shows like that anymore. Or if they do, network programmers immediately put the kibosh on them before production can commence.

THE INSPIRATIONAL PRESENCE OF LUCY VAN PELT, OUTFIELDER PAR EXCELLENCE

"We can't keep up all that ridiculous infield chatter, like, 'You can do it', because you can't do it, Charlie Brown."

"If he drops it, let's all kick him!"

HEY SNOOPY...YEAH...BE FUNNY FOR THE KIDS!




"Rickey Henderson was a great base stealer. But today...I am the greatest base stealer of all time."

Thanks, Snoopy. Y'always come through.

THE DREAMS OF YOUTH, CAPTURED. THEN DISSECTED BEFORE BEING UTTERLY DESTROYED. THEN SOMEHOW REASSEMBLED TO REPEAT THE TORTUOUS PROCESS. CHARLES SCHULZ REALLY HAD A LOVE/HATE THING WITH KIDS



This scene of a hopeful Charlie Brown, envisioning victory after having told not-the-whole-truth to get his peers (who would clearly rather be having fun) to slap on the caps 'n' gloves, is easy to overlook the first few times you watch, but speaks volumes about what gives this little kid real joy. There is simultaneous admiration for his ambition and knowing pity over his naivete.





Wherein Charlie Brown, shocked as anyone that he is on base, deliberates furiously over whether to steal third after having imperiously snatched second. Actual words spoken: "Here I go! Zoom! Here I go!", spoken by Peter Robbins as if he didn't believe the stupid blockhead would actually even make the attempt. Brings the funny every time.

The twist at the end is the honor the team bestows upon their fearful leader for sticking up for his right to field a pathetically untalented team of girls, dogs and boys way more occupied with composers and philosophers than learning the signal for laying down a bunt. From Linus' shaky hands, to a handy sewing machine (note while watching how the Peanuts bunch show once more a knack for crowding around something, moving their hands around super fast, and creating something incredible), to the lovable loser himself:



Heart, soul, laughs...this is an all-timer in the annals of Mendelson/Melendez/Schulz. 23 thumbs up! Makes me feel good about baseball, kinda like how everyone in Maryland says Cal Ripken's breaking Lou Gehrig's consecutive games streak made them feel. Except, you know, this special is an actual accomplishment.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Is It Cool? No...Oh Wait, It Is. What?

Brief interview with Thurston Moore at Rolling Stone's site.

"The funny thing about cool is that Sonic Youth always gets tagged as like this cool band, and I grew up as a teenager in high school and stuff and I was not the cool kid. It wasn’t because I wanted to be cool, it was because I wanted to get away from the cool. So the fact that now that that kind of theme of un-cool is cool is kind of un-cool as far as I’m concerned."

It's been upwards of 100 degrees in Hagerstown the entire week, so the ice cream headache that pounded in my cranium upon reading this part was actually ten of the most blissful seconds of my summer.