Sunday, December 20, 2009

Rimsky-Korsakov Still Woulda Been Funnier Than Beethoven, Though



February 12, 2010 will mark the tenth anniversary of Charles Schulz' passing. In 32 years of life (wow!) his is the only "celebrity" passing that moved me to tears.

The above is one of my favorite individual panels in all of Peanuts. Hilarious (say "Lobkowitz stopped his annuity!" out loud and see if you don't agree) and historically accurate.

Charles Schulz set the bar, then took it with him when he died.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Take Your Iron Boots and Stick Them Somewhere Uncomfortable

I never finished Ocarina of Time. I may never finish it. I mean shit, it's been eleven years.

It's an anomaly for me to not finish an epic game, which is why I don't feel so bad about admitting that I flat-out gave up during the Water Temple. Hundreds of carrots and rupees sacrificed in the name of horsey acquisition didn't do me in, but constant screen-switching did. I couldn't help it--the equipment screen was beginning to appear in my dreams.

Can you consider a game you never saw all the way to the end with your own gamer hands to be the greatest game of all time? Can you be in such awe of intricate puzzles that required a patience you simply didn't possess? (And by "patience" I also mean, "game guide.")

Thanks to YouTube, I get to see players far better than I do Ocarina walkthroughs. These videos swell up something inside of me, right in the gut, or the craw, just left of my druthers. I am suddenly overwhelmed with the need to revisit the game and finish that fuck. I want to fight Shadow Link. I can beat him. I can beat Ganondorf's phantom pianist ass, and I can take down Ganon. (Mild digression: that last boss battle has got to be one of the most intense of its kind in the medium. When he transforms from 'dorf to beast GANON with the swords bigger than Link himself, my sweet Jesuscakes. The only thing that would make it more undeniably epic is if the instrumental to Danger Mouse's "Change Clothes" remix off the Grey Album started playing. Think the sample, now.)

But then I remember that I just don't have the time anymore. Immersing myself in a fictional world of my own creation rather than that of someone elses is far more important these days.

If only I could have my next book come out in gold.



(Another Ocarina treat, featured on only the first two releases of the game: the original Fire Temple music, complete with Muslim prayer chanting. You can guess why it was removed from future versions.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Watt is Pigpen

I don't do Peanuts is Timeless anymore, 'cause honestly, I think I've proven the point. Also, the process of hunting down, compiling, and commenting on those links is time-consuming. However, when a particularly superb reference to a character or trope related to the greatest work of American art in the 20th century blips on the radar, I can't pass it up. Ladies and gentlemen, Iggy Pop.

What was your first reaction to the news that the Stooges will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010?
Well, very surprised. I didn't think I'd ever see the inside of that neighborhood actually. Probably because the group had a very long outsider history, going back way back before there was ever a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It took us a lot longer to get some sort of general acceptance than probably most people.

You've been eligible for about 15 years or so.
We've been rejected seven times and we would have set a record I think if it happened again. We would have been the record holders I think. The first few times I'd always hear we got nominated about a month after it happened. Then the lag time started decreasing until it'd be the day after, all these people calling me to say "congratulations." It sort of became one of those things like Charlie Brown and the football. And it's always Lucy's idea. I'd run for the damn thing. But somebody every year was nominating us and then it was like, "OK, Stooges, come on, just run and kick the ball." Whoops.

Inducted alongside the Stooges: the Hollies, Genesis, Abba and Jimmy Cliff. A pretty mediocre group, Detroit's near-finest aside. I don't care about Cliff 'cause I don't care about reggae; Abba had some of the greatest pop singles ever, but made full albums as well as I make wedding cakes; the Hollies and Genesis, I look at them the same way--some good songs, but mainly forgettable when not downright terrible. Donna Summer was passed over this year for induction, and "Hot Stuff" on its own destroys anything those last two bands ever put out. Come on, she got a motherfucker who hated disco to do a guitar solo on her disco song.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Spirits in the Material World

"The Grief Show" is unfolding almost faster than I can contain. Like watching an entire garden blossom forth its bounty. The spiritual aspect of the story alone puts it on a higher level than "415 101," although as first novels go, I'm not ashamed of that one at all. Let's hope a publisher somewhere shares my confidence.

Friday, December 4, 2009

So Long to Tai Shan

After four years, the DC Zoo's most fantastic denizen is headed off to China. You know what that means...Dastardly the Komodo Dragon* is now the Zoo's prize attraction!












*as named by me.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

TV Guide's Maddening Insistence on Diluting the Art of the List: Simpsons Edition

The Simpsons--AKA, "Greatest Thing To Ever Emanate From the Glowbox"--turns 20 this season. To celebrate, TV Guide has compiled a list of their twenty favorite episodes.

Generally, I adore lists; when done correctly--with intelligence, passion, research, and playfulness--they can be stimulating and educational. (See: Listverse.) Executed poorly, they are transparent appeals to either the majority or minority audience, eschewing genuine opinion for the sake of stirring the mob into a frenzy.

TV Guide's list, as a rule, suck lots. It is simply impossible to satisfactorily break down the myriad of ways in which their "100 Greatest Episodes of All-Time" compilation is just wrong. You can use words from different languages (including sign), draw up many a graph and chart, emit primal exhortations from your disbelieving throat--you will never be able to get across that the mag's obsession with Seinfeld is an actual brain-clouding sickness that the rest of the world should be protected from. (When that particular show was nearing its end, "The Guide" sought fit to proclaim it the "Greatest Sitcom of All-Time," justifying the hyperbole by praising the shows everyman qualities, the way its viewers could so easily relate to the adventures of four New Yorkers who used their cars way more than four of my NYC-based friends ever do. The article then used, as an example, the episode where Elaine sends out Christmas cards featuring her picture on the front--and her nipple is showing! Yeah, who hasn't had that happen?)

So it is not at all surprising that the Simpsons list gets it right sometimes and wrong most times.

20. Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy--There's several Lisa-centric eps that deserve mention: "Lisa's Wedding," "Summer of 4 ft. 2," and the heartbreaking "Lisa's Substitute." She's a smart, passionate eight-year-old with daddy issues. But TV Guide has a process, you see, and if you shine a light on it, the creepy-crawlies scatter every which a way. Their review for this selection features the words "plasticized sexism"--so forget the heart, forget the laughs, TV Guide adores the issues.

19. Treehouse of Horror IV--Praised for its consistency. I suppose.

18. The Crepes of Wrath--The Simpsons is one of the few shows that can pull off DVD commentaries with six-plus people in a room talking about the same thing. The commentary for this particular episode is the only boring one in the history of The Simpsons on DVD. So for that, yeah, legendary.

17. Das Bus--"Go banana!"

16. Marge vs. the Monorail--See, now you know! God, if only Conan had thrown in a B-story about how mid-city monorails hurt the cause for Tibetan freedom!

15. Mr. Plow--Season 4, oh sweet Jesus. Season 4 of The Simpsons is in that rarefied air with Season 2 of AbFab, Season 2 of The Office, season 2 of 30 Rock, season 4 of Hill Street Blues, season 3 of Homicide. Utter perfection, where the hits off the cylinders ping. "Mr. Plow" has a ridiculously brilliant premise, great use of a secondary character, a TV jingle that's like a drill bit in the brain, and the magic of a jacket as an aphrodisiac.

14. Mom and Pop Art--Guest voices Isabella Rossellini and Jasper Johns. Al Jean's first script upon his return to the show. The latter is the reason TVG gives for loving it. What the shit.

13. I Am Furious Yellow--"Angry Dad" is forever winning, and Patrick and I still help ourselves to some stock from time to time. TVG digs that "it skewered two cultural phenomena at once: the dot.com bubble and 'The Incredible Hulk'." (Again, don't be funny, be topical!) Yeah, about that last one...there is no more maddening moment for me as a fan, personally, then when the show that used to reward your intelligence instead flips off your intelligence and then brags about fucking its mom. Cue a green, shirtless, enraged Homer wreaking mini-havoc. Then cut to a horrified Lenny, who proclaims, "It's the Incredible Hulk!" Only food or sex should ever make me moan that loud.

12. Bart of Darkness--Is funny.

11. Moe'n'a Lisa--Cameos from Jonathan Franzen, Tom Wolfe and Gore Vidal. I do love me a lit-heavy episode. There's even an author brawl where a painting of Snoopy hunched over a typewriter gets smashed. You know I can't resist that. But this entry is like so much of the list--funny, good, yeah, but I can think of 20 more that are funnier and better.

10. Homer the Great--You know, the Stonecutters ep.

9. Flaming Moes--Top 250, maybe.

8. Three Gays of the Condo--Hilarious, especially for a post season 12 offering, but no better than my top 60. How is this so high? Oh right, the gay thing.

7. Cape Feare--The rakes. "The Bart the." The fucking rakes.

6. You Only Move Twice--Albert Brooks on The Simpsons is like almond crust on a sweet cut of salmon. Where the hell is "Life on the Fast Lane"?

5. Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind--Beloved, for reasons unfathomable to my asparagus brain, by the notorious hard heads at Nohomers.net Is it the "Homer's Life" montage? Hooray for computer animation and YouTube references and such? 'Cause I'll be damned if I can recall anything else from this one. In ten years, this one will fall in a lot of estimations.

4. King-Size Homer--Just reading or writing about this one makes me want to watch it. Without question the greatest entry on this sad-ass list. "I wash myself with a rag on a stick" is funnier than "Eternal Moonshine." Bart's post-daydream, fake rag on a stick is funnier than "Eternal Moonshine." A top 5 episode, easily.

3. Behind the Laughter--Of course, I mean, the entire thing lampoons a TV show. Happens to be funny though, so.

2. Two Dozen and One Greyhounds--"See My Vest." Rory Calhoun. That's it.

1. Homer's Phobia--It just got mad gay up in the piece. They did it so right with this one that "Three Gays" was really just superfluous. Scott Thompson ain't fuckin' with John Waters on any level in any capacity. I agree with the summation given here, that the writers nailed both the humor and the social commentary, using a lighthearted approach that shows Homer as a decent guy with some opinions that might not exactly strike some people as smart or even very funny. This makes my top 20, helped immensely by Waters' performance.

So, there it is.

Hmph.

When I make my top 50 list, and Patrick makes his...shit. New galaxies, y'all.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

To Give Thanks

I would love if everyone that will be here for Thanksgiving lunch/dinner would come in shifts instead. Over 20 folks will be packing the house at peak meal time, making my office on the second floor seem less like a welcome refuge, more like a bomb shelter fulla peanut butter.

My niece who eats 14 pounds of mashed potatos per sitting won't be here, though; let us give thanks indeed.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Where I've Been

Over a month since my last post...but I have decent reasons.

Publishing "No Setlist" did wonders for my confidence, and along with that boost in esteem came a boost in my writing. My fiction trilogy--which took a backseat while I put NSL together--regained my attention. As of now, the first of these novels--the long-in-gestation "415 101"--is done. I now am preparing to contact publishers. That's vague, and deliberately so. I don't want to get too excited about the baby steps every author must take when selling other people on their work as viable.

I'll be back Monday. No, really.

Aw, c'mon...I mean it.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Ben Ali

Washington DC lost a great one. But they'll always have those fantastic half smokes. My last time at Bens Chili Bowl was July 6 this year, just before Sonic Youth played the 9:30 Club. While Patrick and I chowed down on sloppy, not-nutritious goodness, our friend from Seattle downplayed her chili order and claimed Bens was overrated because "it's been around for a long time."

Three weeks later, when I spoke with Steve Shelley, he said that the band had hit up Bens that day as well, and even proceeded to give a brief explanation of the Bowl and its history to my Canadian buddies.

Ben Ali is gone. The Chili Bowl lives on.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

News Feed Bag

"No Setlist" made the official Sonic Youth news page and is thusly also on sonicyouth.com. Being featured on Myspace, Facebook, and Saucer-Like...awesome. This? Awesomosity.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

All You Need Is...

I love the Beatles. I've ordered the Mono box set, 'cause I wanna hear their albums (save Let It Be and Abbey Road) the way the band and Mr. Martin intended. Abbey Road is in my top 25 albums of all time, and the Beatles in my list of top 10 favorite bands.

Entertainment Weekly actually got it right. "All You Need Is Love" is not the worst Beatles song ever ("Rocky Raccoon") but it is terribly overrated and deserves a spot on the top 5 at least. If McCartney had written/sang this treacle, it would not be universally beloved as a masterfully constructed pop/baroque classic that poignantly demonstrates the outsized, imperfect heart and soul of its creator. No, the consensus would be, "More gutless Macca fluff."

And it is gutless fluff. I don't care what classical references the song opens with. I don't care how many people gathered for a live broadcast, nor do I care that there was a live broadcast. It's hippie garbage. "It's easy." No it's not. "All you need is love." Clearly that's false. You need love, first for yourself, then for others. Then you'll need a whoooooolllllllle bunch of other stuff. How about some answers? I mean other than "learn how to play the game." What fucking game? Beatleopoly? Is "Helter Skelter" the Boardwalk, 'cause it should be.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Peanuts Is Timeless, Eating Up Mice

Oh by all means, let's open the field for some new up-and-coming "talent" without one nth of the genius of Aaron McGruder, much less Charles Schulz. There will be no more stars to emerge from the comic strip world; deal with it and run "Peanuts" till all paper on Earth disintegrates.

Don't get salty.

This person wins merely for loving "She's a Good Skate."

Friday, August 28, 2009

Words

"Schism" is not that rare of a word. Fucks sake, Anthrax titled a song "Schism" back in '88. Tool recorded a song called "Schism." Clearly it's not just the province of stuffy professorial types.

Also, if you can't tell Jared Allen is being sarcastic in this video, and you're an American, you prove my Euro friends right: we can't tell sarcasm for shit.

Reading this here article reminded me of when that douchewar Fred Durst caught flying screaming crap for using the word "agreeance," or the disbelief over Roger Clemens' claim that someone sometime "misremembered" something. People were aghast: those aren't words! Except they are. (I actually use "misremembered" in No Setlist, in a review that predates the Clemens steroid saga.)

That's why I love words. You can confuse people with them.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Peanuts Is Timeless, Pt. Let's Play Hungry Hungry Hippos

Everyone loves Snoopy. Having been there recently, I can tell you that Knotts Berry Farm is as delightful as advertised.

Cubs, Yankees...why do loser fanbases keep getting Snoopy toys?

"Let's not forget the Great Pumpkin." But let's forget that said beneficient fruit-god was actually a belief of Linus', not Charlie Browns.

No, still don't like the Skins.

Health care controversy means more football gag references.

You can never have enough hats, gloves, and ugly shoes.

New DVD, three days before my 32nd birthday!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Beatles "Rock Band" Tracklist Unveiled--Almost

Per this here....44 of the 45 songs that will appear on the game that singlehandedly justifies the entire franchise.

I Saw Her Standing There
Boys
Do You Want To Know A Secret
Twist And Shout
I Wanna Be Your Man
I Want To Hold Your Hand
A Hard Day's Night
Can't Buy Me Love
I Feel Fine
Eight Days A Week
Ticket To Ride
Day Tripper
Drive My Car
I'm Looking Through You
If I Needed Someone
Paperback Writer
Taxman
Yellow Submarine
And Your Bird Can Sing
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
With A Little Help From My Friends
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
Getting Better
Good Morning Good Morning
I Am The Walrus
Hello Goodbye
Revolution
Back In The U.S.S.R.
Dear Prudence
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Birthday
Helter Skelter
Hey Bulldog
Don't Let Me Down
Come Together
Something
Octopus's Garden
I Want You (She's So Heavy)
Here Comes The Sun
Dig A Pony
I Me Mine
I've Got A Feeling
Get Back
Within You Without You / Tomorrow Never Knows

"Octopus's Garden"? Jesus.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Peanuts is Timeless, Pt. Welcome Back

Mama Cass, contrary to popular legend, did not choke. Tiger Woods however--he totally gagged. And I couldn't be happier. There's nothing I love more than watching a gargantuan bubble being popped. Well, that's a lie. How fuckin' sad would my life be if I loved nothing more than that? But it is a great feeling. Dude's human after all. Moving on!

Happiness is a warm puppy. Warm puppies ain't funny.

Sarah Palin is arguably the most worthless human being on the face of the Earth made to believe they have some sort of worth, and she (along with her hysterical ilk) won't be happy till they have Obama--at the very least--de-balled.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Baby Penguins To Mama No No NO

Last night Patrick called me from his tech-free sanctuary in Fenwick Island, DE. Casual yak ensued, leading him to ask if I was anticipating the new Madden game for the Wii. Why yes of course, I responded, I would like that game very much.

Then, my dear friend was suddenly struck.

"Hey. You have wireless now, right?"

"Yeees."

"So you can download games off the Wii virtual console."

You magnificent bus stop.

My Wii now has stored within: Ice Climbers, Ninja Gaiden, Super Mario 3, Donkey Kong Country and Super Mario 64 (the latter two playable thanks to my Gamecube controller).

This is not good. Oh, don't misunderstand, it's actually great to that part of my brain that is perpetually in the mid-to-late-90s and craves nothing more or less than virtual challenges and accomplishments of varying bits scrolling up down and across my flat screen. Smashing ice, sticking to walls, warping via whistle, collecting bananas, saving that baby penguin and delivering him hence to Mama...part of me (a considerable part) is in heaven.

But then I have to pay heed to that other part, the more mature side of myself that Jenn circa 1995 would not even recognize as a personal goal capable of achieving. Holding up a stopwatch, reminding me that fun and games are well and good, but I have greater things on the horizon. I have words to write down on empty sheets of paper, thoughts to distill, situations to bring into the light, people to recussitate.

It's a challenge.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Yes Fuppets

Mighty blog Fuppets has blessed "No Setlist" with a wonderful review. It's the first in-depth review online of the book, and what more can I say, he gets it.

The Summer of Jenn

My West Coast jaunt included seven Sonic Youth shows in six states, meeting both Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley (including a two-hour convo with the latter and other friends in a Portland bar), and two emotionally charged incidents registering at the extreme ends of the spectrum. Neither of which, clearly, I am ready to discuss on a public forum.

But I can tell you this...with "No Setlist" a pure hit, it's only inspired me to get my other stuff--my first novel, first volume of poetry--out there. I think it's that time.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Update

I just acquired an ISBN # for No Setlist, and tomorrow I'll be ordering barcode stickers. This helps my chances of getting the book on actual bookstore shelves and is necessary to sell it on Amazon (awaiting order confirmation).

Taking at least one on my West Coast trip, for Names. Kegmama will have hers by then, and I have no idea if Chris wants one or not. As far as copies for the band...this is why I wish Patrick was going with me. He'd make me approach a member, likely Lee or Steve. He'd make me tell them who I was and what I had done and that's my Sonic Youth book on their Myspace, Facebook, and forum pages.

I don't know what scares me more: approaching them in person about this book, or the possibility they may not really be too concerned about it.

Every artist--and please understand I am not just some bum-ass fan with a hair up her ass, I have dreamt of being a published author since age ten--has fears. But they also need strength.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

No Setlist On Sale Now

What do you do when you see your favorite band perform live 40 times over 11 years? If you're an aspiring author like Jenn Benningfield, you write a book about it. No Setlist is not just a compilation of Sonic Youth concert reviews covering the time period May 1998 to May 2009. It is more than anything else an unabashed love story--of the creative spirit, of friends, of discoveries, of life. Aided and abetted by 44 pages of tremendous color photos (some personal, most shots from select concerts), these journals immerse you into the experience of countless miles on the bus or plane, exploring the sights, and meeting numerous other Sonic Youth fans at home and abroad. No Setlist is a must-have for not only Sonic Youth fans, but also anyone seeking to understand the unique mindset of that beautiful beast, the "hardcore fan."

Visit this site to see more info and place your order.

This is my first book, and I'm beyond thrilled to finally have it out. This has been my dream since I was ten years old.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Return of the Rabbit

August 31st brings a new Jim O'Rourke, The Visitor, and it is long overdue--eight years, in fact.

I'll never forget when, in 2003, Mr. O'Rourke contacted me via the Sonic Youth forum and asked for my opinion on some of his lyrics, and most of all his style of lyricism. I gave an honest opinion back, as a Jim O superfan, and got a fantastic response. His curiosity stemmed from his professed desire to make another "song-based" solo album.

It's funny, just the other night I was listening to Joanna Newsom and recalling O'Rourke's genius marketing idea for her album Ys: a photograph of Joanna with the word MUSIC above it and the words IS BACK below it. How can you not dig that guy.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Peanuts Is Timeless, Pt. Um Yeah

Second instance I've seen of Cujo and Snoopy being juxtaposed for sake of contrast, the first being Joseph Wambaugh's novel The Secrets of Harry Bright.

Even though Schulz felt Mr. Bright was seeing gold where mere bricks stood, his book is a classic that every Peanuts fan should read.

China and Japan both need to get their Lucy up, if you ask me.

My schedule of Peanuts show reviews will get back on track once I make the move to Montgomery County. And yes, please buy the sixties set. The Guaraldi doc along must be worth it.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I'm Still Here

Just saw four Sonic Youth shows in six days, and am currently waiting for corrected proofs of "No Setlist." All goes well, it will be up for sale starting Friday. If you are reading this and are a SY.com forum member, you get a special discount.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Lesson of Michael Jackson

There's lotsa undesirable types in the world: racists, sexists, homophobes, xenophobes. There's murderers, rapists, pedophiles, drug abusers, inveterate woman beaters.

The shelves that hold my CDs, DVDs and books contain works of art made by a variety of undesirable types. If Michael Jackson did in fact molest young boys--and it's amazing how many people are convinced that it is a fact, how they seem to want it to be a fact--then his albums remain a part of my rotation. I can no more get rid of it then trash books by Burroughs, music by Miles, or films by Polanski.

There's art. There's the artist. Inextricably linked? To my mind, no.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Peanuts Is Timeless, Pt. Sorry I Been Away, Ay!

Book is killin' it right now.

Reviews are implying that Larry David as directed by Woody Allen is just way too much Hebrew neurosis. Next time, Woody, use Don Rickles.

So Boo-Boo makes it and Shaggy doesn't? That scraggly stoner always got on my nerves.

If the Nats had swept the series, the Yankees would have been relocated to New Jersey. As a DC baseball fan, that made my entire year. I am officially uninterested in the remainder of the baseball season.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

After an Eternity

Record sales are like the old gray mare, but damn it's nice to see Sonic Youth's new album debut in the top 20. The first weeks sales of 19,000 even improve over their last album, 2006's Rather Ripped, by two grand.

Nothing will quell your happiness and sense of justice served quite like seeing Black Eyed Peas at number one, though.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Golden Boy

Gary Bettman must be very happy. Not only did his pet Sidney Crosby win a Stanley Cup, but he's taking Lebron James lessons in sportsmanship.

Favorite quote:

"Nobody respects the traditions of hockey more than Sidney Crosby," team vice president Tom McMillan said.

Understand that? No one. On Earth. Gordie Howe? No. Wayne Gretzky? No. Bobby Orr? When it comes to the grand traditions of the grandest game, Bobby Orr is lookin' out for Ray Bolger!

Peanuts Is Timeless, Pt. Miss 199

Baseball 'Nuts.

CVS...I'm going to move in. How 'bout some PICTURES?

That's it! Gotta get to writing.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A No Setlist Update

I've found an online publisher and am now using Microsoft Word to transfer and modify (appearance only, not the actual text...I have to live with that) my manuscript. Afterwards, I'll create the cover using the provided template and collage photo by one Patrick S.

To elucidate: I've seen 40 Sonic Youth shows since 1998. This book is a journal of those shows and times.

To give you a little insight, here are the page counts of my chapters so far:

ABOARD A LEAKY VESSEL--20 pages
THIS EXPERIENCE BLUE--8 pages
SCENE--5 pages
SHE'S ILLIN'--6 pages
BANANAFISH--6 pages
SO LONG SUCCOR--3 pages
HOT DOGS AND COOL SHEEP--11 pages
NATTY BOHS AND RATTY CLOTHES--6 pages
NOT EXACTLY HUMAN--5 pages
ON DISPLAY NOW--4 pages
PUNCH N TARTS--11 pages
MY MOM THE MULTI-INSTRUMENTALIST--3 pages
IGNOBLE CHATS--8 pages
STANDING AND STINKING--10 pages
THE OVERWHELMED UNDERGROUND--24 pages
EVERYBODY'S SWEATIN' AT ME--7 pages
THE FLYING ACE VS. THE 9:30 CLUB--12 pages
KILL TIME--45 pages (damn near a novella)
RARING ROCK--4 pages
LOVE SICK--8 pages
PIPELINE--15 pages
REBOARDING A LEAKY VESSEL--12 pages
YES SETLIST--4 pages
A DAY AT THE FACTORY--4 pages
THE LUCK OF DIRT--6 pages

So that's 247 pages so far...it looks like this will go between 300-320. Fucking coolness.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Fantastic Friday

Penguins win the Stanley Cup (God save us) and unrelated to, kids are setting off firecrackers just outside my house. Meanwhile I'm trying to do meaningful things with words. Little shits.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A "No Hosea" Zone

The beauty of Bravo's new "Top Chef: Masters" is that the participants are head to toe boss. Rick Bayless. Wylie Dufresne. Art Smith. No one taking part is a weak link anywhere by any standard. This is one brilliant detour from the usual TC formula.

The other sublime twist is that with businesses to run and brands to sustain, these guys and gals can't afford to be sequestered in a condo. So each week four chefs battle it out, with one winner earning a spot in the finals.

This should be "Top Chef" as the fans really truly desire. Top notch food and food technique; genuine personalities (they've already reached the peak of their profession, no need to Danny Gagnon it up); and best of all, no retarded internecine romances.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Peanuts Is Timeless, Pt. You Can 6.8 MY ASS

Lassie is not timeless. Timmy's been outta that ravine for awhile now.

Apparently there is a Snoopy reference in the new "Land of the Lost" flick. Still won't be watching it.

Dance
...Snoopy wonderland.

CVS
is like a go-to spot for Snoopy. Five decades of the dog? Sounds very cool.

To answer your question...Vision Creation Newsun by Boredoms.

Read it. And this too.

Friday, June 5, 2009

S.I.P.

Short for, "Snoopy Inventory Project". Before I leave for Montgomery County, my oldest sister and myself will be making an inventory of all my beagle goods for insurance purposes. As of now, my delights are all boxed up. Once I make my new home, they'll be on fabulous display.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Beatles Rock Band

In case you had any lingering doubts, the trailer is out, and yeah, this game is going to boot some ass.

Patrick dared imagine a similar career-spanning Sonic Youth game. Can you imagine the custom drumstick for the custom Drifter?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Peanuts Is Timeless, Pt. More Genius

It can't end up much worse than the local student art exhibits hosted by the Washington County Museum of Art.

I like that dude felt he had to explain who Charlie Brown is.

A Saints fan reflects on the pain. And then another one? Straight spooky status.

Lets go Wings. Oh wait, they already are. HA.

In defense of Snoopy. And it links to new Archie Comics developments, making me nostalgic for the considerable collection I once had of the gang from Riverdale.

Is Cleveland the Charlie Brown of cities?

It's hero time.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Live Blogging SY at Primavera Sound Festival

Thanks to WFMU's stream. They are a rare gem.

First hipped to this via the SYG, via one of my favorite people on there, then reminded a few hours later via Dave Markey's Facebook. The Internet helps us play.

The WFMU guys give us all the play-by-play as the band steps onstage. NPR wouldn't do that shit. They'd say Corin Tucker's son was a girl. Which they did. Apparently Corin had a daughter last year though, so it's all to the goodness.

--"Amish Heat", I mean "Brother James"! Steve is high in the mix. Thank Godfrey Jones. Kim just fucking showed every woman who steps in front of a microphone how to tear shit up, including the throat. Goddess.

--These pauses are fucking hot!

--Oh shit, I hear "Sacred Trickster" strumming. It must suck to be an SY fan at these festivals. Too many people, who stink, and the band is still working out the kinks. For these guys though, it's kinda doesn't suck, 'cause Kim just destroyed the planet Venus. I'll miss it.

--"Hey Joni", yes, of all DDN tracks to keep in the setlist, this was a brilliant choice. The new "Eric's Trip"? I sure hope so.

"K-k-k-kick it!" July hurry up. Please. Fuck Christmas.

What year is it really, dude? 2009. Sonic Youth are still so vital it hurts.

--"No Way". I still like it better on record. I remember seeing it in Brooklyn last year, and thinking it was a nice track, could definitely hear the Greg Sage-icity on it. Lee on the chorus with T-bone.

--"Calming the Snake". Also saw this in Brooklyn, and was far more impressed. No idea why they put the echo effect on Kim's vocals on the record. Well for the "chorus" yeah, it works, but totally unnecessary for the verses.

--Lee just put his "Delay King" crown atop his grey head and we go into "Antenna", probably my favorite off The Eternal. A little of the delicacy is lost live. Lee and Thurston sounding good together. Not like when they did "Unwind" live. I don't know what the hell was going on back then.

You know, if I wanted delicacy in my concerts I'd go see Moldy Peaches or some crap.

Lee is outta control.

--I didn't want the intro for "The Sprawl" to end, except I did, 'cause you know. They had the whole rest of the song. Those were the only parts that turned me on.

--"'Cross the Breeze". Sorry I'm not saying much, but I am at an utter loss when listening to beauty such as this. Such as them.

--"Once in a while, the guitars go out of tune."

Greenlight just posted the setlist on SYG. Kills the drama, but the dramas overrated.

"Anti-Orgasm" now and the hummingbird morse code "UH"s sound bliss.

Somebody just fucked up HARD. That whole second verse was anti-climax.

--"Leaky Lifeboat". Love the title, love the song, love Corso. I always called my body a "leaky vessel" after that phrase.

La la la la Thurston's jet-lagged.

Kim is the only one at this point. There she goes. Thurston, it's called DEVOTION, my dude. It's a lotion that Mark Mothersbaugh produces, USE IT ALL OVER YO' BODY.

--Lee's finest moment on the newie, finally. (And no, it's not "Walkin' Blue".)

No Kim on the chorus? Oh come on. I know she didn't sound ideal during the "Jools Holland" performance, oh here she is. Sounding better.

Lee just kinda mumbled that last bit. Haha, remember when Carrie Brownstein would just wing it during "Words and Guitar" at the last ever SK East Coast show? Haha, I'm bringing up Sleater Kinney 'cause that was a great show and they should come back 'cause music is 56% suckier without them. Resurrect the fucking Spells at least!

--Thurston is about to pass out. Was that "fuck for honesty"? I hope so. They've played "Tom Violence" 900 times and dude's blanking! Oh well.

--"Pink Steam" is interesting to bring back out. I'm on record as loving this song, and I do...'till Thurston starts in with that "lovely lover" shit. He won't forget these lyrics, trust. The instrumental passages though? Shiiiiiiit.

Wow, I don't recall "PS" being so...brash before. Thumbs skyward.

--Kim Gordon is ready to pounce someone. Thurston better hope it's him.

--Neil Young didn't give WFMU permission to broadcast his shit? What, you're better than them? You ain't even better than David Crosby, per Jim O'Rourke.

--Naomi just texted me. Just in time for "Bull in the Heather"!

--And now we're talking during "Expressway". Jealous much, bitch?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Purple Pride

Fran Tarkenton is a god among sad little children. He has said what so many of us in the Vikings fanbase believe, and the media castigated him for it. What a sad day when Marcellus "Sack Machine" Wiley can actually sit down in front of a camera and attempt to demean a Hall of Famer.

What does Tarkenton never winning a Super Bowl have to do with the content of his opinion? Trent Dilfer won a Super Bowl, and no one gives a shit what he has to say. If Dilfer ever came up with a foolproof solution for correcting the current economy, he'd have to relay it through Mel Kiper.

Fran Tarkenton makes me proud to be a Vikings fan.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Music and Heroes of America

AIRDATE: 5/23/89

Schroeder is ready to give the most fantastic school report on music ever, utilizing the same stage featured in It's Magic, Charlie Brown to teach his classmates about the rich history of American tuneage. While initially agreeing to let Snoopy help, the towheaded wunderkind had a change of heart when he remembered how performance-prone the pawed one was. It took the pleading of Charlie Brown and the hysterical tears of the wronged dog to sway Schroeder.

With a full band rocking shit (check Patty's bow in the crowd!), Schroeder is doing a great job entertaining his peers. When Lucy comes on the stage, however, he loses his crap. Almost literally. See, Lucy and the girls have a report of their own due: the heroes of America. The teacher on the scene (who sounds like a muted trumpet, to the thrill of those who were rendered apoplectic by the talking grown ups found elsewhere in the miniseries) deems that both reports shall take place onstage, with each giving equal time to the other. Lucy is beyond happy with the compromise, while Schroeder blood pressure shoots up to stroke level every time the girls are ready to present. He's so annoying.

ANIMATION: Disappointingly washed-out, without much life. Guess they thought the non-stop soundtrack could salvage it? 6

MUSIC: Well...pretty much it does. Ed Bogas and Desiree Goyette (Lou Rawls with the vocal assist!) get a 10 simply for the variety of songs on display.

"I Dream of Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair" - Stephen Foster
"O Susanna" - Stephen Foster
"America the Beautiful" - Katherine Lee Bates & Samuel Ward (which absolutely should be the American National Anthem)
"Stars and Stripes Forever" - John Phillip Sousa (best version not featuring Lisa Simpson on sax)
"I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy" - George M. Cohan (did anyone else have to watch Yankee Doodle Dandy in Music class? That shit took forever)
"Alexander's Ragtime Band" - Irving Berlin
"Maple Leaf Rag" - Scott Joplin
"St. Louis Blues" - W.C. Handy (I'm sure hockey nut Schulz appreciated these two back-to-back)
"When The Saints Go Marching In"
"Where Have All the Flowers Gone"
"Hound Dog" (not the Elvis version; the remake is bad, but brief)
"Linus and Lucy" - Vince Guaraldi (yes; Charlie Brown says this is his favorite song. You'll never hear a more 80s version of it, for better or worse)

VOICES: Erin Chase and Curtis Anderson get 7.5's for Charlie and Schroeder. They're about as dull as the animation. The latter in particular is trying way too hard, my dude.

8's for Marie Wise as Marcie and Jason Mendelson's Pep Pat (sounding here the most boyish the character ever would). Erica Gayle's Lucy brings up the rear at 6, while top honors are shared by Hakeem Abdul-Samad's Franklin and Brittany Thornton's Sally each earning a 9. The former sounds awesomely Gary Coleman-ish.

SONIC YOUTH

--The banjo is almost always the coolest instrument in any band. Unless someone else is playing the contrabass sax.

--Of course, Lucy's first heroes are great American women like Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton, and Amelia Earhart. To celebrate the last of those, Patty gets her Ace on. I don't know if it was intentional, but after this segment, Schroeder and the boys talk about "America the Beautiful", one of the great accomplishments by a woman ever.

--For what I believe is the only time in the history of the specials...the word "peanuts" is uttered.

MODEST MOUSE

Pretty much.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Peanuts Is Timeless, Pt. Hai Agn

And they ain't rootin' for Sidney goddamn Crosby either.

That's one of the most blah headlines ever.

40 years ago, the first non-Russian dog in space!

Follow the link within the article.

New Peanuts book aims to affirm, while new Monte Schulz novel promises to awe.

Awesome article that debunks a bunch of garbage "facts". Read it and remember it.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Give Up the Goods

I visit Ebay only once every couple months. I can't afford a greater frequency of pop-bys. Here's some items I've been snooping at.

Snoopy Ornament Set, 28 items. Collectible box for the runaway win.

Snoopy World Tour, also 28 strong. Another beautiful Chinese collectible.

I wanna buy this tee and rock it front row when SY plays DC--both nights.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hate To Disappoint the Lee Ranaldo Fanboys, But...

Even with their white-haired poet at Cannes Film Festival, the three other Sonic Youth-ers hooked up with Bill Nace to deliver 20+ minutes of screaming hell. I deliberately use textual economy here, 'cause, well, the review of No Fun Fest is the last chapter of No Setlist. So you'll have to wait, but not for long.

In the meantime, help yourself to these short clips shot by yours truly.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Peanuts Is Timeless, Pt. Push Push in the Bush

People need to get paid.

My two favorite sports teams--the Vikings and Capitals--are perennial could-bes. The difference being, the Caps will win a Stanley Cup within three years. The Vikings will need more than a washed-up hick to get there.

Whoa, someone knows their shit!

Someone else does not.

The football gag is easily recalled, but remembering the classic McCovey lament is special.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Off To New York

For music (No Fun Fest), friends (Derek for sure, Annie I hope), walking and Thai food.

See y'all Monday.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Peanuts Is Timeless, Pt. Overtime

Never saw Chuck play much soccer, but yeah, he woulda sucked at it.

Lying liars and the games they play.

And that's all I got this week, 'cause the Caps took it out of me.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Building of the Transcontinental Railroad




AIRDATE: 2/10/89

STORY: Remember trains, kids? This installment of This Is America, Charlie Brown is dedicated to the First Transcontinental Railroad, 1800 miles between Nebraska and California, completed in 1869. It's arguably the most involving and therefore moving story in the entire miniseries, and I recommend it most highly. Charlie Brown narrates this true tale in the straightforward manner it deserves, hailing the bravery and ingenuity of the many thousands of workers while not whitewashing over the difficulties initially faced by the Chinese workers who provided the greatest support of all.

Kids can get a real appreciation for what a feat this was. "Back in my day" is a hoary phrase intended to make younger generations somehow get it around their knuckle heads that what they see as hardships now are really not all that trying compared to the effort, will and risk required by such projects as this. The very idea of so much manual labor required will probably make your average Twittering teen pass out and break their Iphone.

It's also a good reminder of what can be great about America, and how much undeniable good its people have done in the name of unity. The competition between the Central and Union Pacifics captivated the country in a way that really only half-brain reality shows and overblown health risks can do nowadays.

There is of course much undeniable bad done in the name of patriotism. There are films out there that deal with those dark events. This is not one of them. 10

MUSIC: Harmonica-driven soundtrack that perfectly fits the visuals, but the stars here are the Winans, who harmonize such standards as "I've Been Working on the Railroad" and "The Battle Hymn of the Old Republic". It's very tasteful, and helps provide the viewer with a real feeling of the lesson in community that lies at the heart of this story. 9

ANIMATION: 9. Lots of nice color on the trains. Not exactly sharp drawing, but not slipshod either. The spike-driving "anvil chorus" is a recurring scene done superbly.

VOICES: Erin Chase as Chuck, Brandon Stewart as Linus, and Curtis Anderson as Schroeder all get 8s. All do well, especially Chase, who has by far the most to say of all the kids. I like how old-school Schroeder sounds, though.

THE GOLDEN SPIKE

--In addition to the usual array of original pictures from the various sites, the producers also reveal for the very first time who drove in that final golden spike in Utah. Shit is mad historically accurate!

--Must kill cactus! Weeee!

--The only real "hey don't forget this is a cartoon" silliness comes when Spike happens upon a saloon and treats the fellas to a harmonica gig. Promptly getting tossed out on his emaciated puppy ass when he knocks over a table.

PILES OF DEAD CHINESE WORKERS

--
I'm scared.

--This special shows the famed picture (shot May 10, 1869) of workers gathered at Promontory, UT to celebrate the railroads completion. Mention is made of the fact that none of the Chinese workers appeared in the picture, and it is suggested that racism was the cause of their exclusion.

This FAQ shines more light on the subject, citing several sources that claim the Chinese were not included because, simply, they were not there.

--You know what would be a great American project? Finishing I-70 so that it goes into California. Fuck Cove Fort.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Freedom of Speech, Just Watch What You Say

Some 17-year-old Penguins fan from Chambersburg, PA got real mad after the Pens lost Game 2 of their NHL Eastern Conference semifinals matchup to the Capitals and made a death threat against Caps superstar Alex Ovechkin on a Pens message board. A regular poster on the Capitals message board read it and brought it to everyone's attention, even asking who in law enforcement should be contacted. The general vibe was that this was some young, bored, overemotional douchebag with a mental disorder. I mean, posting on the message board, making death threats, rooting for the Penguins? It all adds up to one disturbed individual. But not all off-kilter people in this world take the lives of others. I read it and thought, Meh.

Yeah, meh.

But the threatening post was brought to the attention of local police by...not Caps fans...not only the Caps front office...but also by the Penguins front office. Which makes all the Internet bitching by Pens fan about the Capitals blowing this out of proportion laughable.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I Can Haz Hat Trick?

Thank the hockey gods I couldn't watch the Pens/Caps game 2 last night. Game 1 on NBC was nervewracking enough.

Greater thanks are due for the result, a 4-3 victory for the Red team that puts DC up 2-0 in the series. It unfolded like some divine dream for the National Hockey League, with all three of Pitts goals coming from the stick of golden Canadian boy Sidney Crosby and three of the Caps goals (including the game-winner) from the stick of Russian rock star Alex Ovechkin.

Crosby is great.

Ovechkin is greater.

Don't be a hating-ass hater. In regards to either player.

Sid the Kid was the only dude what showed up on his squad. For awhile it seemed like he could do it all on his own.

And then...Lucy pokechecked the puck away.

Snoopvechkin was waiting.



Of course, we can't forget the third elite-level player in this series, Evgeni Malkin.

Monday, May 4, 2009

If You Don't Think This Is the Worst Song Ever, I Will Fight You

Sickly, treacly 70s suburbanite sex fantasy as written by some backwoods yokel who thinks fishing metaphors are the height of Eros. There are people who claim that this song is a camp classic, that it can be enjoyed ironically, that it's so bad it's actually good. That despite being shapeless and spineless, this track is somehow a free-spirited ode to the good life. I blame Anchorman and Boogie Nights for the perpetuation of this utter falsehood. Even South Park must share be held accountable; "After School They'll Fight" is hilarious, but it seems to have somewhat validated the source material.

Put your keys in the punch bowl, and whoever you hook up with, you end up writing some bullshit song about how great it is to fuck on your lunch break. Get the fuck outta here.

And that cheeseball with nuts effect in the chorus? Oh my hell no.

"Rubbin' sticks and stones together makes the sparks ingite
and the thought of rubbin' you is getting so exciting."

Wait...do the stones represent the vagina? Terrifying.

I thought short and hard about whether this or "I Don't Want To Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith was my most hated song of all time, but it's gotta be "Afternoon Delight". Aerosmith's turd at least has that Diane Warren bombast to really give you some substance to hold onto and hate hate hate. But "Afternoon Delight" is just flavorless cotton candy. Bleh.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Peanuts Is Timeless, Pt. Merzbow Endangered By Wilbur

Snoopy sez, "C.C. Sofatsia is overpaid." He also nods in the general direction of his owner's MLB manifestation.

Charlie Brown's yellow-and-black tee is just a ruse, trust me. He rocks the red, and the Penguins are straight Shermy status this round.

I'm going to stop pulling for the Sharks as my go-to West team. Mama Cass never choked, but they sure do.

Rest in peace to another Snoopesseur. We're a special group.

Jim O'Rourke has always struck me as the modern-day Schroeder.

Recipe for success: don't be like Chuck.

This always appealed to me about the writer life.

Interesting piece.

Teacher of the year!

Fucking classic. I await further installments.

More Reunion reviews. That one was good; here's one that's not.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The One Where My Life Gets Flip Turned Upside Down

Come the end of June, I will be leaving my current position as a title abstractor. July will be dedicated to Sonic Youth concerts, then by August I'll have hopefully parlayed connections into a new abstracting position in Montgomery County. There's a lot bubbling right now, but it would be very foolish of me to presume anything as of the moment. I will be in Montgomery County as a permanent resident by the end of summer, this I can guarantee. No one is happier to hear that news than me.

By the end of June, No Setlist should be ready for print. I could not be more thrilled to get my writing out there for any and all interested. Even if they don't know they are yet.

Cognizant of the fact that my new, non-fam boss will likely not accommodate my proclivity towards SY live overload, I'll be enjoying this tour like it's their last. My current SY tour plans (my blog will house the reviews and pics of all future SY shows) are as follows:

July 3--NYC
July 5--DC
July 8--Richmond
July 23--Boise
July 25--Seattle
July 28--Portland
July 30--Salt Lake City
July 31--Denver
August 2--Oakland

Any future NYC, DC, Cali, or possible Vancouver gigs, well...just add 'em on.

Sonic life is eternal.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The New Sonic Youth Album

Is incredible. Slays. Best since A Thousand Leaves.

You want more in-depth review action from me, well, you'll just have to wait till June. The wait will be worth it though, when you see what I have in store.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Peanuts Is Timeless, Pt. Wilburs Revenge

Snoopy dance?

Seems like all the dudes on The Simpsons staff know their Nuts.

Liz and Linus.

Yeah
, but where's her Marcie equivalent?

How did I never play this game growing up? I played The Empire Strikes Back one to death after death.

This site looks absolutely incredible. I look forward to delving tonight.

More ball gags. Ya pervs!

I'll be moving and getting a new job this August. Still doing the real estate, kid.

Some Snoopy's Reunion reviews, ranging from yet another guy who traffics in preconceived notions about what he thinks a thing he did not create should be to people who just review the product.

I love when the ball gags are related to sports. Bart gets to sit up front 'cause he's a good guy at sports!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bea Arthur

Tall smart-ass broads are a breed apart. Bea Arthur had a sense of humor so dry her line deliveries were positively arid. She always struck me as one of those celebrities that I couldn't be paid to approach, not even to utter the words "Big fan" and scurry away with my forehead toward my feet. Total non-brooker of nonsense. That's the consistent vibe I got.

The two funniest Golden Girls are gone. Damn damn.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Not To Be Confused With, "The Despairing of Apartness"

Let it be known, I am a big fan of the rapper Redman. Despite the fact that he has for seventeen years extolled little else other than the joys of marijuana--ecstasies that I am intentionally ignorant of--I look forward to his verses like the cast of The Girlie Show looks forward to Sandwich Day.

The impending Method Man/Redman album Blackout 2 means promotion. Which means interviews.

“Marijuana has always been that drug that united people. It’s always been on the verge of being legal. It’s hardly a drug really. When people look at marijuana, they look at it as an enjoyment of connecting,” says Redman.

A couple li'l things here.

I cannot stand when defenders of the "sacred herb" state that it is actually not even a drug. When it is. We here at Trapper Jenn MD (which is, um, me) normally approach citing Wikipedia with trepidation, but some of the articles on the site are credible. Whether you partake of it or not, you should be able to admit that marijuana is a drug.

Then we have that whole "enjoyment of connecting". I get what Red's trying to say here, but the terminology is hilarious. I've heard of "enjoyment by connecting" and "enjoyment while connecting", but never "enjoyment of connecting" by itself. "Enjoyment of connecting the input cable thus being able to hear the audio", yeah, that I get. But just those three words all by their lonesome, how pseudo-Zen.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Today's "What the What?" Moment

Somehow at my job the topic of organ transplants came up. Usually it's American Idol and Desperate Housewives and shitty movies, so this was a welcome reprieve. On the surface.

"My aunt had a kidney transplant, and she says they just kept the bad one in her body."

Said seriously, and sworn by in the face of incredulous protestation.

No one pressed further. No one said the obvious. "Isn't the whole point of a transplant to remove an offending part of the body to make way for one that isn't toxic enough to kill you? Wouldn't this aunt of yours in fact have three kidneys in their body? Does it strike you at all how absolutely unbelievably stunningly ridiculous what you are saying sounds?"

No one said a word. We had work to do.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hallmark of the Holidays

Those of us adamant on maintaining health-conscious lives greet the holiday season with ambivalence. The cookies of our heart are not warmed by those hardened circles of dough. We cannot have our cake and Edith, too. Sure we can have some extra chicken wings, or meatballs--if they're made with turkey. But the sweet stuff is verboten.

Leave it to Hallmark, then, to give everyone a guilt-free, tasty Christmas treat.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

Holy Crap, the Heat!

I missed it, I won't lie. By mid-August everyone 'round these parts will be bitching about it but for right now goddamnit, these sunny days are welcome. Among other benefits, I get to walk two miles total to and from work, and the blazing sun will help with my Vitamin D deficiency.

Yeah, that'll do.

My mother just put some fresh newspaper on the bottom of the bird cage for her unappreciative parakeet, Snowflake. It just so happened to be the comics section, featuring a vintage Peanuts where Snoopy is driven from the top of his doghouse by an imperceptible spider. I was looking at it to appreciate the irony/tragedy/comedy/something-y of a reprinted work of art put in place to catch bird droppings when I noticed that Snowflake has a sense of humor.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

There There, Fellas, Both Your Favorite Teams Suck

Washington D.C. Capital of America. Home of the government. Home of the Redskins.

The Dallas/Washington feud is hilarious, mainly because Cowboys fans take it nowhere near as seriously as the Skins faithful. Maybe at one time in history both fanbases were equal in the fervency of their dislike; but these days, Dallas fans are too into their soap opera storylines to worry about on-field "rivals".

This
is a lesson in the misguided passion of those who root root root for the home squad. How fitting it took place on L Street, 'cause an "L" is precisely what the flag-snatcher took.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Plundering With Tavaris and Sage

Sounds like I'm about to season some protein, but no, the NFL 2009 schedule came out today, and the Minnesota Vikings have, on the surface, an easy run of it.

Sunday Sept 13, 12 pm CT @ Cleveland Browns (FOX)

Sunday Sept 20, 12 pm CT @ Detroit Lions (FOX)

Sunday Sept 27, 12 pm CT vs. San Francisco 49ers (FOX)

Monday Oct 5, 7:30 pm CT vs. Green Bay Packers (ESPN)

Sunday Oct 11, 12 pm CT @ St. Louis Rams (FOX)

Sunday Oct 18, 12 pm CT vs. Baltimore Ravens (CBS)

Sunday Oct 25, 12 pm CT @ Pittsburgh Steelers (FOX)

Sunday Nov 1, 12 pm CT @ Green Bay Packers (FOX)

BYE

Sunday Nov 15, 12 pm CT vs. Detroit Lions (FOX)

Sunday Nov 22, 12 pm CT vs. Seattle Seahawks (FOX)

Sunday Nov 29, 12 pm CT vs. Chicago Bears (FOX)

Sunday Dec 6, 3:15 pm CT @ Arizona Cardinals (FOX)

Sunday Dec 13, 12 pm CT vs. Cincinnati Bengals (CBS)

Sunday Dec 20, 7:20 pm CT @ Carolina Panthers (NBC)

Monday Dec 28, 7:30 pm CT @ Chicago Bears (ESPN)

Sunday Jan 3, 12 pm CT vs. New York Giants (FOX)

Starting off against the Browns, Lions and Niners? Two MNF games? Makes up for having to face the Ravens and Steelers back-to-back. Does not make up for the fact that Minnesota's QB corps is just one step above Bobby Hebert/Bubby Brister.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Peanuts Is Timeless, Pt. Easter Eggs and Turkey Slices

People doing Snoopy dances.

Actually, Lucy has been known to raise her prices as circumstances demand.

In fact It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown was the last special to feature new Guaraldi music.

Snoopy gets down.

The bloom is off the rose. Tina Fey won't save you now.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown

AIRDATE: 4/16/84

STORY: What do you say about a 25-year-old special that was recently reborn on DVD?

Charles Schulz watches Flashdance, and dedicates a single solitary strip to Snoopy updating his classic dance style as "Flashbeagle". The drawing of a Bealsy beagle proved too tempting and within the next year the world would have It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown.

(This is a clear take-off of the Flashdance phenomenon, not disco, as some people have claimed. Certain scenes mimic Saturday Night Fever, but that's it. The music is not disco at all.)

The "story" is flimsy as a dryer sheet in a tornado. The first images we see are of a football game between Snoopy's smash squad and P. Pat's preteen pounders. After each TD, Snoopy dances hilariously. Apparently, the shaking of the groove thing has become an obsession for Snoop, 'cause when he gets back home, he pulls a boom box out of his doghouse and proceeds to burn up the grass underneath his feet.

Back to Peppermint Patty, in school with Marcie. She falls asleep, sits on her best friend's head, and gets her little Jimmy Durante nose caught in her binder. Straight from the strip are these vignettes, but if you're curious as to how this advances any sort of plot, well...it doesn't. Songs, not sighing existentialism, provides the beef of this show. You might be a vegetarian.

It starts with Patty leading the gang in an invigorating workout while warbling "I'm In Shape"; Lucy takes over a hoary party game and turns it into "Lucy Says"; then it's time to blow the filthy jug and do the "Pig Pen Hoedown".

Charlie Brown doesn't have his own song, but he does have a fishing rod up his ass--again--about Snoopy's independence and general un-dog tendencies. Go cry, round headed kid.

The culmination of all this randomness is one of the most extraordinary, hilarious sequences in Peanuts animation. It's enough to see Snoopy in the bathroom, blow drying his ears to Rage-worthy afro puffs. It's great watching him get dressed, turning an orange turtleneck into a hot dance outfit. But to witness this ineffably cool character moving his little John Travolta legs down the sidewalk as the soundtrack blares, stopping only to stomp his feet and clap his hands to either Franklin or Franklin's twin brother breakdance, then finally entering a club bursting with decidedly grown-up characters and just destroying that fucking game of Simon doubling as a dance floor, blowing everyone else away with impregnable arrogance, undeniable skill, unflappable cool--y'all, I don't know if it was the intention of Schulz and crew to encapsulate everything that was hysterically brilliant about the most O.T.T decade of human history but they did it. Fantastically.

In one final nod to the strip, Sally takes a beleaguered beagle to school for Show and Tell. It's all rather dull till some weird kid takes a boom box out of his desk and gets everyone dancing. Which pisses off Chuck when he finds out, but baby sister will hear none of his grief: "You just leave him alone. That's the first time I've ever got an A in Show and Tell." Snoopy is the coolest.

This is the most dated Peanuts special ever--and it's not even close. But later you'll read why I don't think that's a negative. 8.5.

ANIMATION: 8. Jittery in places, and the colors don't have much life to them. I'd rank it a 7 if not for the Flashbeagle sequence, where the animators seemed to put all their resources and energy.

For those not up on their 80s trivia, Marine Jahan was the real Flashdancer, performing all the moves in film while Jennifer Beals got all the credit. You just gotta love Schulz and 'em, 'cause if they were gonna do a goddamn show based on Flashdance, they were gonna get the real deal. Using Jahan's moves as their model, the animators used rotoscoping--the process of drawing a character over live action--to make Snoopy a dancing wonder. See some of the magic here.

MUSIC: I am an 80s freak. I was born in '77, and my childhood was MTV coming through the non-HD set late at night after my dad left for work and my brother busted out the illegal cable converter. Duran Duran, Michael Jackson, Prince, of course we loved the legends. But our hearts had room for the endless parade of one-hit wonders as well: Rockwell, A Flock of Seagulls, Big Country (any band that puts their name in the title of one of their songs is winning). I loved it then as a stupid kid, and love it now as a somewhat-wiser adult. Supra-pop, baby. So how do you think I feel about the tuneskis here?

The kids solo numbers are not as terrible as you may hear. (I have a Peppermint Patty fanatic friend who loathes these.) It's jarring to see Patty in leotards, but the idea is pristine: Jill Schulz was apparently quite the aerobicizer. "I'm In Shape" is innocuous fun, right down to that wholesale "Mickey" jack in the middle.

"Lucy Says" is the best of the bunch, because it fits the character totally. Lucy putting her peers on notice and bossing them around makes absolute sense.

"Pig Pen Hoedown", eh? Schulz never cared for the young filthmeister much; too one-note. Couldn't really get great ideas out of a kid whose whole schtick was he was just dirty all the time, and not just dirty but like spectacularly foul. Pig Pen made a fantastic impression by just being who he was, but name a great story in the strip with him. I can't. He had no unrequited love, no particular emotional quirk, he was just grubby. Awesome for giving nicknames to hippies, but little else. Also I've never been much on hoedowns unless Homer Simpson is leading them.

Then we have the theme song. Composed by future weddeds Ed Bogas and Desiree Goyette (the latter of whom shares singing duties with Joey "Last American Hero" Scarbury), "Flashbeagle" is not on the level of "Hungry Like the Wolf" (the pinnacle of 80s pop) but is definitely the superior of "(Don't You) Forget About Me" (the nadir of 80s soundtrack pop--apologies to those of you who still reminisce on your first broken heart to that song). It's a clear take-off on Michael Sembello's "Maniac"--peep those stabbing piano chords--and the lyrics are just unbelievably great.

He steps on the floor without making a sound
Then he starts feeling the beat
You would think the floor was greased
By the way he's moving his feet


He's a champion
He is the best
Impossible to tame
People say that he's obsessed
Listen to the sound of his name
They call him Flash- Flash- Flash- Flash- Flaaaashbeagle
When he goes around the whole room starts to reel
You know he's Flash- Flash- Flash- Flash- Flaaaashbeagle
When he jumps up high he glides like a wild eagle

Lightning flashes when he leaps up
He's got everybody shouting for more
Thunder crashes when he hits the ground
He's burning up the dancin' floor

(repeat chorus)

From the fur on his feet to the tip of his nose
He's got rhythm pumping all through his veins
He spins like a top that'll never stop
With the power of a hurricane

Just awesome. 9

VOICES: Brett Johnson is a rather workaday Charlie B. (7.5), but he's so put-on. Dog cooler than him, he has to sing Pig Pen's song. Aw man. Gary Goren does Schroeder, and I'm as impressed as you'd imagine. 5. Gini Holtzman (Patty) and Keri Houlihan (Marcie) are flawless as the best pair of buddies in the Peanuts universe (yep, even better than Snoop & 'Stock). Patty in particular steals what of the dialogue there is to steal: "I'm so dumb I wish all classes were gym" (said, mind you, with utter glee) and the ready-for-sampling "Art is next".

Stacy Ferguson as Sally. Yeah. You know that she grew up to become "Fergie", the chick in Black Eyed Peas, who certainly did not need her help to suck. Then she went on to great solo success. Far from feigning any sort embarrassment, Fergie actually openly talks about her Peanuts past.

BLENDER: WHAT'S THE COOLEST THING YOU'VE EVER DONE?

FERGIE
: Being the voice of Sally for a Peanuts cartoon. I actually have a thing that Charles Schulz wrote me. He drew Snoopy and it says, "To our best Sally ever -- Schulz." That's cool! Schulz called me the best Sally ever.

I disagree with Mr. Schulz (the original Sally is still the best to my ears) but let not the future retroactively taint my opinion of a young girl wetting her beak in the hectic world of voice-over acting. God help us all, but Fergie's Sally is very cute and very fun. My humps my humps. Damnit! 9

But wait! There's more! Two more, in fact. There's additional "sung by" credits for four young'uns, but I only care about Brad Kesten as Chuck and Jessie Lee Smith as Lucy. Smith's star turn beats anything I've heard outta Fergie, and is exactly how I would imagine Lucy to sing: just belting it out living-room Broadway style. 9.5. Kesten is saddled with the worst of the songs, "Pig Pen Hoedown" but does his best (I assume). 7.5. Not really his fault.

(I'm always curious to find out what the adult versions of these kid actors thought about the whole Peanuts experience. For Kesten's take on Flashbeagle check out the Youtube comments here. "Sucked balls"? That's harsh, dude.)

AND STILL I NEVER REALLY LET GO OF THE DREAM

--Saw them open for SY in Milwaukee a few years back. They were like a bunch of Peppermint Pattys up on stage. Too bad the crowd was like all Thibaults and Mad Punters.

--

Nothing to say.

--"Dated" does not automatically equal "shit."

These days I fall asleep to reruns of The Golden Girls on the Hallmark Channel (yeah, they have a channel). TGG is another thing from the 80s that I loved--that a lot of people loved--that I can still enjoy now in the 21st century. (Of all the things that entertained my young self in that decade, sitcoms have aged the worst. By far.) Who wouldn't dig on four old broads bitching? And man is it dated. References to Dan Quayle, Jessica Hahn, Miami Vice. And the clothes! All puffy and bright, even more glaring than the Miami sun they studiously avoided. In spite of such era-defining elements, the show does not live and die by the period in which it was produced. There is a definite timelessness in oversexed Blanche and sweet-as-curry-dumb-as-rocks Rose.

You could say the same about Peanuts. The latest installment of The Complete Peanuts has a strip that references Johnny Horizon. Who? Don't forget other panels where Schulz namedrops Annette Funicello, Rod McKuen and the 30th birthday of Bob Dylan. What's positive about putting in references that threaten to alienate future readers/viewers/listeners is that just maybe you inspire them to find out what the hell you're talking about. Like when I searched the Internet for Johnny Horizon. I had to find out who the hell he was and why Schulz would put him in his strip.

--
"...and don't think I feel sorry for you 'cause your daddy died. My father came back from the Korean War with his brains so scrambled, he thought he was Jesus! They put him in a nuthouse for five years, when he came out, he didn't think he was Jesus no more, he thought he was God. Which made me Jesus. This shit got pretty heavy!"


--

To my mind, one of the top ten moments in Peanuts animated history. This is not comparable to Frankin's deathless rap in It's Spring Training. That shit almost made my brain ooze out of my eyes. It was obviously forced into the special. Flashbeagle is the special. This is an 80s thing, you'll either like it or you won't. It's no barometer of your overall intelligence or coolness no matter what side of the fence you sit on.

No matter how many years I log on this globe, how much harsh Japanese noise I listen to, my young girls soul will always be in front of the TV, eating a McDonalds Value Meal and watching Purple Rain.

FAMILY GUY IS AS FUNNY AS DANE COOK. NOW HERE'S THREE MINUTES OF CONWAY TWITTY.

See, I just dated this whole post.

--If I read one more review talking about how the Peanuts mythology (whatever the hell that is) was ruined by the presence of adults....

Flashbeagle was the not the first--or last--Peanuts special to show adults. She's a Good Skate actually had adults talking. Which these reviewers would know if they did research and actually understood their subject. Schulz had adults in the strip, the infamous "Lucy in the golf tournament" storyline. He later expressed regret over his decision, but so it was, right there in black and white. Know of what you speak. There is a whole rich history. Acquaint yourself with it if you choose to speak on the subject with such ambition.

The Simpsons do yearly Treehouse of Horror episodes wherein they use Halloween as creative license to go apeshit with their characters. People turn into monsters, die, the world ends, it's madness. The fans understand that the producers use TOH as a playground for their wildest imaginations, so no one bitches when Homer gets turned into a jack-in-the-box. I would urge anyone watching Peanuts specials to divorce them from whatever you know of the comics. Much as they may be inspired by the strips, they are not canon. Schulz made this abundantly clear in his lifetime. Thus, he could do stuff that would be verboten in the strip (which was held sacrosanct): give Franklin and Marcie last names, show redhaired girls, show and/or voice adult characters. It's pretty simple.

--Imagine if Schulz had watched Sophie's Choice and cooked up a story where the Van Pelts are approached by a mysterious stranger who makes Lucy choose which of her brothers to keep and which to hand over?

--So is the background supposed to pan backwards as Snoopy pounds the pave?

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Flashbeagle is now on DVD, as a "bonus feature" on the Snoopys Reunion release. The soundtrack is available here, along with proof that not everyone thought this show was a wretched abomination. Wow, maybe it even made them laugh.

Anyone who thinks this is the worst Peanuts ever put on TV has never seen It's the Pied Piper. That review is gonna be painful.