Thursday, November 13, 2008


I do not like the condiment ketchup, we’re not friends. I’m also not fond of catsup. I know that this, along with my complete ambivalence towards football, makes me somehow un-American. It astounded my former roommate Raf to the point of him stating, “you’re the only white boy I know who doesn’t like ketchup.” I was astounded by his ability to lure fifteen-year-old girls into his skeezy clutches.

Anywho, some things that have happened since we last spoke:

America got all kinds of better (California somehow took a giant step backwards – I’m looking at you Orange County).

In trying to write lyrics to a song, I realized I was re-writing “From A Whisper To A Scream”.

I taught Kickers the joys of the Eskimo Kiss. Or is it Inuit kissing? Whatever, he digs rubbing noses.

I had an almost perfect Seattle moment when waiting for a bus in some unincorporated part of the city, in the rain, Modest Mouse came on the headphones.

I saw the latest Bond girl naked. Okay, that one’s a lie. It was Chuck Hunt I saw naked.

I went to see a show that had a couple former cast mates performing their brains out. The director asked if I would come do her next show, and I said sure. She then sheepishly asked if I would consider doing it in drag and I quickly realized she didn’t know me that well.

I had a quick flashback to my bachelor party where the stripper made me wear her dress – and no one was surprised.

I realized that despite my best efforts, I might be growing up. A possible and serious life change did not throw me for a loop. I took a deep breath and said, “Okay, we’ll make it happen.”

I let loose that deep breath in relief when that possible and serious life change turned out to be nothing.

I annoyed my friends showing them how friggin sexy my new iPhone is. Seriously, that thing’s gotta lightsaber.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Today Is A Good Day

Emotional, tongue tied, proud.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Motorized Instinct

When it comes to zombie movies, and man I love some zombie movies, you have to go with George A. Romero. The guy started it with his shot on the weekends in black and white Night of the Living Dead. It’s a simple story – the dead mysteriously begin to return to life to eat the flesh of the living. They cannot be killed unless the brain is destroyed.

The original is a great, tight little horror movie and all of the sequels have something to offer. They’re not progressing any story necessarily, just taking the viewer further along in the days of the zombie apocalypse. Dawn of the Dead takes off a couple of days, maybe weeks, after the initial night; humans are scattering to survive, fleeing cities for the country. Day of the Dead shows a world mostly overrun, hope for survival pinned on pockets of underground installations of stir crazy military and scientists hoping to train the zombies. Land of the Dead extracts it even further; the world has lost hope of this ending, humans are exiled to scattered, fortified cities and special units sent out to small towns to gather supplies. But the zombies are starting to learn and don’t like being used as target practice. Diary of the Dead takes us back to the first days with a first person camera approach.

For my money, you cannot beat Dawn of the Dead; funny, scary, tense and gory as all get out. Four survivors flee the city and accidentally end up taking root in a shopping mall. As with all of his Dead movies, Romero makes a point about the times they were shot in. Here it’s not as heavy handed as in some of the others because it doesn’t need to be. Shots of zombies strolling a mall, aside from the rotting flesh, don’t look much different from any other day in any other mall.

But more than that, and the point that most everyone seems to miss when watching Romero’s zombie epics, is the idea that we as humans will rebuild in our own image when things get hairy, but refuse to learn from the past. Invariably in his films, we as people build the same society only to fuck it up for ourselves do to greed, jealousy, ignorance…

Why Dawn though? It moves at a good frenetic pace, like a horror comic brought to life, and there’s this lack of gloss to it that makes you feel like anything can happen. Plus these guys hole up in a mall, it’s like an adolescent fantasy mixed in a missive from the end of times. Oh, and the soundtrack kicks fucking ass; great, liberal use of mall music to underscore the action.

While I did enjoy the remake on some levels, it just doesn’t compare. Why? There was no need to remake it, for one. As it was a studio release it had that safe, well produced shine to it. The original unrated Dawn of the Dead got away with horrifying zombie carnage as it didn’t have to worry about a studio or the sensors. Plus the remake had running zombies. Cool for a bit, but there is something absolutely overwhelmingly dreadful in the fact that these shambling, slow moving messes are inevitably going to get you – and eat you.

A mini, gory epic – with zombies. Eight kinds of awesome.

Rocktober Song of the Day: “Tundra/Desert” by Modest Mouse.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Camp Blood

The good news of the situation is that my stomach probably can still hold up to a couple slices of pizza and some whisky; I feared that my age was catching up and this cannot happen. The bad news is that stomach flu was the culprit.

On the mend, but now behind by a couple of days. What I wanted to do this week, in celebration of the nearing of Halloween, was go over a handful of my favorite horror movies.

Caveat 1: My favorites lists tend to switch up on an almost daily basis.

Caveat 2: I’m cheating from the get go as I’m starting out with Friday the 13th, parts 1-4.

Wait! How can you pick 1-4 of a cheesy ass slasher series? Well, because it’s my game. Friday the 13th was nothing more than a way for some guys to make a quick buck; get some young actors in the woods, a small arsenal of sharp garden tools, some latex and fake blood and this sucker writes itself. The rundown (and okay spoiler alert):

Part 1 starts out with the mother of a deformed and drowned young Jason Voorhees taking her revenge on camp counselors at a reopening Camp Crystal lake. Virginal survivor hacks off her head with a machete. Part 2 finds us 5 years later where traumatized survivor is taken out by a mystery man who turns out to be none other than the not dead Jason Voorhees. He makes his way back to Crystal Lake and through a handful of counselors in training. Part 3 (in super 3-D on it’s original release) finds Jason going on strong the following day. He’s no longer necessarily seeking revenge, just inventive ways to slaughter teens who drink, smoke pot and screw. Some nice 3D effects include obligatory bodies thrown through windows and an eyeball being popped out. This also marks where Jason gets his hockey mask to cover his deformed face. Part 4 (named The Final Chapter) again picks up the following day and again shows our man hacking his way through horny teens and a not so great Jason hunter until he is confused by a young make up wiz and whacked on with a machete a number of times. Part 4 is a well directed little number with some impressive effects – one of those effects being Crispin Glover.

No, they’re not great, but I still can feel the unease I had when I thought of these movies as a child. They’re a morality tale people will say – bad people, people who do drugs and have sex get killed. That’s crap. They’re fairy tales and they speak to something primal within us. There’s a monster in the dark woods that we have to face to get out and see another day; an unstoppable monster that will hunt you down and eradicate all kinds of bad 80’s fashion. And much like the old fairy tales, these movies are grisly. They pushed the boundaries of makeup effects and sensor boards. They were a strange roller coaster, a dare to get scared and see if you could watch someone get an axe to the head and not peek through your fingers. Plus you got to see some tame sex scenes, again primal…

After Part 4, things got weird and silly and got away from that basic and effective monster in the woods story. But the first four, bad or good, still hold a place in my young heart as Halloween favorites.

Oh yeah, Rocktober Song of the Day: "Web in Front" by Archers of Loaf.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Get (Off) On The Bus

This has been a plain crappy Rocktober. Seriously Billy, what the hell? Let’s play a tiny bit of catch up.

Rocktober Song of the Day: “Third Uncle” by Brian Eno.

It’s been some rough times kids, he said with a solemn look to his eyes, a sly smile to offset it a little. But I’m tired of friggin’ talking about it. I seem to be better in my head, and I’m hoping that throwing those words out don’t come back to slap me on the ass.

Rocktober Song of the Day: “Strange” by Wire

Yesterday, I rode the bus into work, through the cold, through the dark, and not soaking in that rolling feeling in my stomach of desperation and hated anger. I was listening to some Virgil Shaw – so very nice. It wasn’t up terribly loud so I could hear the bus driver calling the stops. These calls usually begin with the amplified sound of the driver pulling over the flexi arm of the microphone, sounding like a metal Satan unfurling his metal penis. And yeah, after that you expect a bus stop called with some gusto: “California and Faunt – la – fuckin’ – roy bitches!” But the driver yesterday morning whispered out the stops.

Rocktober Song of the Day: “Serpentine Pad” by Pavement

I thought this was funny at first. Maybe the bus driver was just putting a little style into her routine. Then as it continued to happen I began to think that maybe she was coming on to us, as if the subtext to a hushed “28th and Thistle” was “hey babies, who wants a good time?” I continued to think this was funny. I mean in my mind, she wanted all of us, possibly particularly the girl who wears short skirts even when it’s October cold out. Seriously, she was gonna pull that rig over for some serious good times, I could hear it in the excited sigh that was “16th and Roxbury”. For some reason, this whispering was really catching me as funny. Not so much when I think back on it and realize the rational was probably laryngitis and that she was in pain.

Who am I kidding, still funny.

Rocktober Song of the Day: “Hang Me Out To Dry” by Cold War Kids

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Southern Washington, Sunday Afternoon

Driving back from Portland, windshield wipers deliberately set a bit slow. It was the big drops falling, the ones that are so swollen that they seem to have somehow shifted past being mere rain. I watched them hit the window. I watched the seventy mile an hour air brush them out along the glass and reflect the surrounding gray and green in a still life impression for a short, short moment. Wipers come in, do their gig.

It made me think of stolen moments in Northern California. Not really thinking of moments, it gave me the calm feeling of those moments, an all too brief moment of comfort. I tried to fit that feeling with actual memories the mind had stored; a wet walk up a windy and beautifully lonely road, roasting a chicken while the world outside was equally freezing and wet, the sound of a river full of itself.

None of them fit the feeling quite right, threatened to sully it, so I quit trying to make it work. I tried to just feel that comfort for a bit, watched the rain do its thing.

I wanted to sleep for a long time.

Rocktober Song of the Day: "I Turn My Camera On" by Spoon. Seriously, deny the sexiness. I dare you.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Gang Bands

I was running full long into a day that was not starting well. John on KEXP played “Where Is My Mind?” by Pixies, and I thought, “well all right.” He then did “Pictures of Matchstick Men” by Camper Van Beethoven. Not my top choice for a Camper Van Beethoven song, but I’ll take it.

This for some reason got me thinking about that radio show Loveline. Now back in the day, Loveline was a local show in LA on KROQ, it was not syndicated. In fact, for those of you out there who are fans of Heathers, the show that Veronica and green Heather rush to the room to listen to while yellow Heather talks of suicide is based on the old Loveline. The DJ in the movie is in fact the Poorman, who used to host Loveline.

And all of that for this…

One such back in the day show talked about gangs. As much as the news would have us believe differently, us kids in south Orange County didn’t have much to fear in the way of gangs, so this seemed an odd choice. But some guy calls up to defend the idea of gangs, that he was in a gang and they weren’t thugs and didn’t go out to hurt people; his gang was a group of guys who supported each other in their musical endeavors.

This, by the way, is not a gang. This is called a band.

But, in honor of this, the first day of Rocktober, I say unto thee that I want to start a band and act like it’s a gang.

We’ll have initiation rites where we pummel a new member with a C and E combo two chord jam. We’ll get into tussles with other bands where we spank each other with cables, twiddle the knobs on some other guy’s effects peddle and effectively whacking out the tone on the distortion they’d spent so much time crafting just right. Other bands would write songs about our lifestyle.

And then those bands would eventually get arrested for possession; of song books probably, or at least tablature sheets. We would eventually do public service tours, talk to youngsters about how they don’t want to join bands, live clean, praise Jebus.

It tastes like glory good people, and glory tastes like banana popsicles.

Rocktober Song of the Day: “Debaser” by Pixies.