Thursday, March 29, 2007

Hornets! Hornets!

Had to start this off with a Hold Steady reference because - joy of joys - The Hold Steady is coming to Sokol. Thanks again One Percent Productions.

DVD talk...

Children of Men (Widescreen Edition)

Holy crap - a few weeks ago, I was blogging about seeing this in the theater. Now, it's available on DVD. It's amazing that the majority of the films at the cheap theater are out on DVD. I do have to admit, I was a bit puzzled at the choice of cover for Children of Men on DVD. The original poster is one of the better movie posters I've seen. It's one of those posters like Silence of the Lambs, American Beauty or Alien - a memorable poster that forms an immediate association with the movie. Whereas the DVD cover sort of reeks of the cliched "person hiding" type of cover I've seen from countless b-grade action movies.

(original cover)

Children of Men

Also, though the DVD contains some decent added material, it sort of reeks of the "this is the DVD for the folks who love the movie and will scamper out and buy it the day it comes out." The "definitive DVD" will no doubt follow in a few months. And most likely, I'll throw down cash for that one as well...

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Live review - TV on the Radio on St. Patty's Day

Any St. Patrick's Day that starts out eating corned beef and cabbage at the comfy Dundee Cork and Bottle and ending with TV on the Radio's stunning closer "Staring at the Sun" at the Voodoo Lounge in Kansas City has to be a damn good St. Patrick's day.

Seeing TV on the Radio at a casino sort of cheapened the experience of seeing this band for the first time. I sort of wished I could have seen them play somewhere like Liberty Hall in Lawrence, Kansas or Sokol Auditorium. But knowing full and well that I was lucky enough to have the band come anywhere within eight hours of Omaha made any discomfort of the venue quickly disappear.

Subtle quickly won me over. My friend who I went to the show with said Doseone, lead singer of Subtle, could have been a bastard combination of George Michael and Les Claypool. I was more than a tad concerned how Subtle's performing arts theatrics would go over in a place where people were blitzed on green beer, occasionally watching the NCAA scores and the occasional yell of "Wolf Like Me!" from a few drunk twits. Fortunately, the crowd mellowed and for the most part, gave Subtle the warm reception they so deserved. I plan to buy For Hero:For Fool on Tuesday when I pick up Modest Mouse's new one.

Moving on to TV on the Radio. The band expertly tossed out "Wolf Like Me" in the first third of their set - I was praying a few of the undesirables would then leave to gamble once they heard the song they heard on the radio. Once they got that song out of the way, TVOTR played "Young Liars" - a song so energetic in its live environment that the audience energy level barely dropped, even though most of the audience probably had heard the song for the first time that night.

Tunde Adebimpe repeatedly flailed his arms, pumped his fist and did tag-team duty with the two microphones set up. For a band who is on the short list for "THE" band of the moment, Adebimpe remained ever humble and modest, thanking the audience repeatedly throughout the set. David Andrew Sitek repeatedly draped chimes over the neck of his guitar, nicely mixing with his buzzsaw guitar style. Jaleel Bunton didn't miss a beat on the drums - though he occasionally got up to do guitar duty. Throughout all of this, Kyp Malone was fairly stoic in his playing, occasionally giving the audience a slight appealing nod - which the audience ate up - the mark of ultimate stage presence.

TVOTR brought Subtle back on stage to play various percussion on a tribal-jam rendition of "A Method." "Staring at the Sun" closed out the set. I left, smelling the BBQ I ate at Arthur Bryant's slowly sweating out of me. For adrenaline - TVOTR's performance was enough to get me back to Omaha without feeling the fatigue that comes with being up for about 20 hours.

iPod shuffle list from Friday...
"Me Against The World" - 2-Pac Feat. Dramacy *****
"Girl of My Dreams" - Charles Mingus *****
"Mr. Self Destruct" - NIN *****
"Save Me" - Queen ***
"Welcome to the Terrordome" - Public Enemy *****
"Help Me" - Johnny Cash ****
"Fast Car" - Tracy Chapman ****
"Ex Factor" - Lauryn Hill *****
"Sailin' On" - Bad Brains ****
"My Friend Goo" - Sonic Youth ****
"Outro With Bees" - Neko Case **** (short, but oohhhh so sweet)
"Total Eclipse" - Iron Maiden ****
"Somebody to Love" - Queen ***
"Fifty Years After the Fair" - Aimme Mann ** (compared to her other stuff)
"Refugee" - Tom Petty *** (never understood why this was on 'Chipmunk Punk'...)

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Kills you - R.I.P. Captain America

Well, this past week, Captain America joined Charles Xavier, Superman, Optimus Prime and Robin in the "childhood heroes to die" club. I remember having to read the Transformers comic book about who survived the "fight to the death" battle of Optimus Prime vs. Megatron because I was in sixth grade at the time - and going to a movie like that - alone (since most of my friends had grown out of the Transformers/GI Joe stage and into the Bon Jovi-worshipping MTV stage of adolescence) wasn't an option. Still, when I read about Prime's death, I remember laughing it off with a few friends "good - he was a lame character anyway." Still, the death gnawed at me - it was like Prime's death gave him his own version of "indie credibility" - he was mortal - he had a belief and he paid a price for it.

Fast forward about a decade and I read that the main (not saying 'Prime' to avoid the obvious pun) reason Hasbro killed him off was to make room for a new toy line. One of my first experiences with the cold hard slap of capitalist cynicism. Then, as a limp way of appeasing fans - the creators resurrected the character. As a result, it's hard to look at any of that character's actions and sacrifices and not think "even if he dies, they'll bring him back" - just like hitting the RESET button. When he returned to the comics and TV show, I half-wished they kept him six underground since it added a tremendous depth to an otherwise cheesy "good vs. evil" storyline.

This Jesus-like resurrection of superheroes like Optimus Prime and Superman has to loom over the death of Captain America. Especially in today's world, a character like Captain America would have been almost impossible to sell. Sure, the Captain America scholars say he's just as layered and complex as Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker. But just the premise - the outfit, the name of the character - it just seems like there isn't really a demand for such a character anymore. The Left and Right are clamoring to claim the departed Captain America as their own - but like any other superhero who no longer captures mainstream imaginations - they are only claiming him after he has died. Now, I just wonder what route the "owners" of the Captain America franchise are going to take: let the icon of yesteryear pass into history - or cheaply use this tactic as a way to launch a new Captain America series.

iPod mix of the day...
"I Wanna Be Like You (The Monkey Song)" - Los Lobos ** (groan)
"No Complains" - Beck *** (the Information is sort of a grower)
"Utopia Parkway" - Fountains of Wayne ****
"It Coulda Been Me" - Social Distortion ***
"Extraordinary Machine" - Fiona Apple *** (leaked version)
"Sabotage" - The Beastie Boys ***** (nice bit o' nostalgia)
"E-Mac (interlude)" - Big Boi ** (not much to it)
"Thank You For Sending Me an Angel" - Talking Heads ****
"That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!" - Sufjan Stevens ****
"An Ode to No One" - Smashing Pumpkins ***
"Sieve-Fisted Find" - Fugazi ****
"I Am Superman" - R.E.M. ****
"Wear You Out" - TV on the Radio ****
"Titanium Exposure" - Sonic Youth ****

"Death or Glory" - The Clash **** (so sick of this album though)
"Lost Cause" - Beck ***** (not the case with this album...)
"Leather" - Tori Amos ***** (he he...)
"Neif + Girly" - Asobi Seksu ****
"Lilah" - Morphine ***
"Charlemagne in Sweatpants" - The Hold Steady **** (close to *****)
"Gimmie Shelter" - The Rolling Stones *****
"Another One Bites the Dust" - Queen *****
"Via Chicago" - Wilco ****
"Spill the Blood" - Slayer ***
"Better Version of Me (leaked version)" - Fiona Apple *****


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Kurt Andersen on...

After a blizzard blanketed Omaha about a week ago, today was as close to pre-summer perfection as one could imagine. I wanted to reintroduce my beloved mountain bike back into the wonderful world of single track trails. Still, I couldn't resist going to hear Kurt Andersen speak about his latest book, Heyday and do some readings from said book at Omaha's W. Dale Clark library. In addition to Omaha being the first stop for his book tour, the reading came the same day as Andersen's book was the featured book in the New York Times book review. While I would not call the review a rave, it was definitely a solid endorsement of Heyday.

As per the usual routine, Andersen allowed about 30 minutes for Q&A. Among some of the topics he discussed...

Whether he misses the hustle and bustle of working at a magazine like Spy:
No. "I like not having employees," Andersen said. He also said he believed Spy ended about the right time - just about the same time as the Internet was introducing itself to a mass audience.

The parallels between the years 1848-50 and today:
As railroads and the telegraph were becoming a fixture of contemporary life, the concept of time was undergoing a reinvention. Tasks that used to take days and months to accomplish (e.g. a correspondence) was now taking place in 'real-time.' During this time, political parties were so paralyzed by their own self-interest that they were basically impotent in handling the critical issues that were affecting the general population. Finally, the time was a time of new media and with the widespread practice of yellow journalism in full effect, newspapers were turning into slander machines against those whose views the writers/editors/managers disagreed with.

An Omaha cultural renaissance:
Andersen wrote about what he described as a "cultural Renaissance" in the upcoming March 25 edition of the New York Times magazine. He cites not only the music scene in Omaha, but the expansion of downtown Omaha's Old Market and the emergence of the Bemis Center.

So, with $30 liberated from my wallet, I left with a signed copy of Heyday. The historical novel doesn't occupy a big section in my book collection. Still, Andersen's enthusiasm for the subject as well as his previous literary accomplishments are enough to make me believe it will be a worthy purchase and a good addition to my collection. To those who weren't able to make it, Andersen is appearing at The Bookworm (87th and Pacific) Monday, March 12 at 6 p.m.

Heyday: A Novel

Editor's note: One of this site's readers was kind enough to email me that I misspelled Kurt Andersen's name - thanks for the catch.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Letter to Ann Coulter

What better person to respond to Ann Coulter's latest bit of publicity whoredom than Mr. Henry Rollins.