Saturday, December 6, 2008

Another month, another worthless effort

Man I am a worthless blogger, which is more of an indictment on my merit as a human considering how little effort blogging takes. In all honesty I'm just neglectful. I have writing on another blog, a heavy traffic, newspaper funded blog. I'm a sellout and a whore I know. This is why from here on out I am committing myself to you. And by you I mean me, because lord knows I don't have any readers. I am moving to the midwest in two weeks and leaving behind this wonderful life in "America's vacation land" so I'm sure I will have plenty of material to write about until then here's a picture of Jeff Goldblum.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Exciting Revelations at 3 AM

So I forgot to post my review of the Faint show on Oct. 30th, but who cares! I just had the most exciting 3 hours of the past 5 months. I was originally supose to do a comedy gig in Laramie next friday. But then I went to Portugal. The Man, which was epic and you can read my review on reverb. Then I had some drinks with some old friends and they informed me that they were going to Georgia and that I could come along for the 5th year in a row for the low low price of $30. Now I can think of nothing else and want to leave this moment! Thank the cosmos for something to live for.

PS. I want my burg there.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Secret Machines at the Bluebird

When I was in high school my religion teacher had a poster in his room that said, “What is popular isn’t always right, and what is right isn’t always popular.” This was never truer than Monday at the Bluebird Theater before the Secret Machines took the stage. I haven’t been to a show that felt that empty since I was 17 standing on a makeshift stage in a small-town community center harboring delusions that I was a musician.

When the band took the stage, the crowd filled in the pit near down front and gave the show less of a Tampa Bay Devil Rays (pre-World Series) feel. For the band’s opening song, “Lightning Blue Eyes,” the members stood nearly motionless as six fog lights in back turned them into silhouettes. As the show progressed the lightning changed to match the mood of each tune. Blue lights from the floor shone during “Nowhere Again” and rapid swirling rainbow lights accompanied “First Wave Intact.”

As Secret Machines settled into the set their brand of prog-rock took over with longwinded jams that dragged on and on, creating a black hole of entertainment. During the show the band was selling 3-D glasses for fifty cents to enhance the visuals. However, just like in “Friday the 13th” and “Jaws 3-D,” the gimmick didn’t make up for the lack of substance.

Just as I began to look at the clock the band pulled me back in with the eloquently titled “Alone, Jealous, and Stoned” and rode a strong wave to finish up the set. Despite engaging in pretentious jams at times, the Secret Machines did not perform a planned and obligatory encore, they merely said thank you and walked off the stage. While almost every band on the planet indulges in this popular trend the Secret Machines decided not to do what is popular, but to do what was right.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lazy Bastard

It has been one month since I posted on here. I wish I had a good excuse like I have been busy killing it on stage and bringing down the Improv. Oh wait, I guess it's true what disney commercials tell me, some wishes do come true! I've been busy this month with comedy shows, which eventually gives way to writers block. So expect more from me in the coming month. In fact I can promise you a hot, fresh, new concert review in a couple days. In other news, I have decided to start getting up in the mornings and discovered that since I left school, I am EXTREMELY bored during the day time. I have taken to going to starbucks. YEAH! I am currently in a burger king with WIFI, DRINKING STARBUCKS! What has my life become!? Lastly, a few things I have enjoyed this month: TV on the Radio's Dear Science, overcast rain, Sarah Palin's face (seriously, wonderfully attractive evening if she is nightmarishly out of touch), and old friends. Oh yeah, and starbucks Chai Tea. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Just Checking In.

So it has been one week since I posted and I don't want to get in a bad habit where I stop posting for my (1 maybe) readers. I was thinking about posting some jokes on here since I got bumped from Squire tonight, but they wouldn't be as funny reading them and, as Mo Welsch put it so eloquently tonight, someone can steal my bits. Bits meaning material not private parts. However, my genital is probably funnier. So here is a joke that I thought of while talking to my dad tonight. A Jewish man in his late 20's calls up his mom one night and says, "Ma, how have you been?" "Oh Seth, I have been terrible. I haven't had anything to eat in 3 weeks." "THREE WEEKS! Ma, why haven't you ate in three weeks?" he responds. "Well Seth, I didn't want my mouth full in case you called."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Foals at Monolith

Below are my three reviews from Monolith. Please read them all if you get a chance, they are all relatively short. I'm working a radio story as well that will be up by friday, hopefully

There are some things that are better done in the dark. Having sex with an ugly person, robbing a house, and watching Foals live. On Saturday afternoon at Monolith, Foals was the second band to take the main stage at 2 o’clock. When the UK hipsters came out for their set (three of them with matching bushy black hair and patchy beards) they didn’t seem comfortable on stage. The crowd wasn’t huge or imposing, in fact the size of the audience was dwarfed by vastness of the venue. After the first song Red Rocks looked more like the Themeland Amusement Park in Spinal Tap when they were billed below the puppet show and did a jazz odyssey after Nigel left the band following their Air Force base performance.

After an interlude that felt too long the band went into “Tron.” During the song the groups performance picked up but the band didn’t seem to be completely comfortable on stage. After this song front man Yannis Philippakis said they were having “a visibility problem on stage” as he stumbled about looking like a bat in daylight with the sun blinding down on the main stage.

By the time they played “Balloons” Foals had adjusted to their unfamiliar surroundings and put together a decent performance. Their stage set up was unique and appealing, with their mics all facing the side of the stage instead of the audience and members standing behind one another it looked liked they took their practice space set up and applied it to the live stage. They followed this by “Heavy Water” who’s heavy bass riffs benefited from the natural acoustics of Red Rocks that with each strum the audience’s circulatory system had to be shaking.

During “Two Steps Twice” drummer Jack Bevan stepped out from the kit and got the crowd to clap along with the beat of the bridge. This was followed by the beautifully crafted “Red Socks Pugie” that highlighted Bevans percussion ability beyond mere handclaps and guitarist Jimmy Smith, who had been playing a great supporting role to front Philippakis, finally stole the show with his passionate plucking.

Before the group started into their last song “Electric Boom” Philippakis had a tom tom drum placed by his mic and took the opportunity to display his percussion prowess as the chilling post-punk guitar riff started the song. As the apex of the song hit and the band broke into noise rock, Philippakis began using his mic as a drumstick. Foals closed their set on a high note, but it’s hard not to image how much better the ending, and the entire set for that matter, would have been if it was at night at the Bluebird. Some bands can easily perform during the day at a music festival and pull off a good set with relatively little effort (eg. Tokyo Police Club), while others need the ambience and are attracted to the night just like the cat burglar and the low standards lover.

Tilly and the Wall at Monolith

For sometime ago I coined a sub-genre of music to classify indie-pop bands that have large full band sing-a-longs with hand claps and often use large cardboard cut outs that appear to have been draw by children as stage decorations. These bands invoke images of childlike happiness and glee. This sub-genre is called kitsch-pop. Tilly and the Wall are the proverbial James Brown’s of kitsch-pop. For years I have watched this band throw confetti, parade out on stage like a frat from Stomp the Yard, and play along with the audience. But over time it felt like they had reached a plateau. How can a band that solicits carefree immaturity progress and grow?

On Sunday at Monolith, Tilly and the Wall reached new heights and gave a performance that felt completely fresh, kitsch included.

On this year’s o, Tilly and the Wall incorporated more of a traditional percussion sound with a full drum kit and less emphasis on the signature tap dancer Jamie Pressnall. At first this would seem to take away from what makes Tilly and the Wall the James Brown’s they are. However, when they took the stage Pressnall stepped up onto a large tap platform and became the focal point of the show. Tilly and the Wall have gone even further over the top with their live show. Vocalist Kianna Alaird looked like a character from Zoobilee Zoo, Neely Jenkins donned platinum blonde hair and a dress that was straight out of Strawberry Shortcake, and guitarist Derek Pressnall could have easily been mistake for a member of Oingo Boingo. Overall, the band’s stage set up appeared to have been inspired by the 80’s cartoon Jem and decorated exclusively from Oriental Trading Company.

Tilly and the Wall came out to their signature stomp and clap parade yelling, “Monolith let’s fuck it up!” followed by “Cacophony.” After the first song the crowd of roughly a thousand people were in a frenzied party atmosphere in front of the New Belgium stage. Next up was “Beat Control,” which made us of preprogrammed drum beats, a live drummer, and of course tap dancing. The middle of the song featured a tap/drum off that showed how tap dancing can hold it’s own against the convention of a drum kit.

During “Night of the Living Dead” the band proved how valuable it was to add a drummer when they went into the refrain, “I wanna fuck it up” the high hat and kick drum gave the song a bigger and fuller sound. On the other hand, during “Pot Kettle Black” it was Jamie Pressnall who was carrying the beat.

The rest of the band’s set featured choreography from the female members of the group, beach balls, and a fat black man with a Mohawk and a black, lime green, hot pink, and yellow leotard with wings dancing to “The Freest Man.” Many aspects of their performance were over the top, but at no point did it feel cliché and ultimately that’s what makes them kitschy.

Atmosphere at Monolith

According to the title to Atmosphere latest record “When Life Hands You Lemons, You Paint that Shit Gold.” On Saturday night life handed Atmosphere crappy whether. Needless to say, it was a good thing he brought a can of gold spray.

After Del Tha Funky Homosapien’s set was cut one song short due to high (no pun intended) winds, many wondered if Atmosphere would even be able to take the stage. Luckily the winds calmed, but the temperature continued to drop and when Atmosphere came out there was a different cloud over the crowd. It wasn’t a certain herbal plant that may carry medicinal purposes, it was the people’s breath.

The aura was far different for Atmosphere than Del’s, despite being two hugely popular independent hip-hop acts. During Del there was a fun party atmosphere with sing-a-longs and chants with hype men. Atmosphere, on the other hand, focused on their songs. Slug dug deep and bleed the rhymes he spoke. At one point early on Slug even mocked the party hip-hop culture when he said, “Repeat after me, Make Dinner Dinner Make Dinner Dinner Dinner!” When the crowd obliged he told them to stop, he was only joking. Even when it came to band introduction Slug referred to himself as Sean in a humbled manner, a far cry from Del Tha Funky Homosapien.

The second song into the set, “Always Coming Back Home To You,” Slug raised his finger pointed to the crowd and said, “Colorado this is a stick up, put your hands up.” But he didn’t need to rob them to get their affection and praise, he already had their head bobs and the intense looks in the audiences eyes.

The cold, rain, and wind made Atmosphere’s performance dark and cerebral. This wasn’t more evident than “Your Glass House,” a dark and chilling song about depression and drinking too much with a perfectly crafted beat by DJ/producer Ant that haunts throughout the verses. This segued into “Shrapnel,” a fast paced but equally dark song that features the lyric, “My posse's full of women, computer nerds, and thugs,” apparently so is his audience. The crowd was diverse and the population of white frat boys with their girl-next-door girlfriends had severely dwindle after Del.

After “Shrapnel” they went into “Guarantees” a soulful track off their latest album that only had bluesy guitar accompanying Slug’s rap. Atmosphere’s set wasn’t all doom and gloom, though. After the crowd surged during “Trying to Find a Balance,” Slug told the crowd that he liked them and that wanted to battle everyone in guitar hero. This was followed by an appearance by LA rapper Abstract Rude who joined Slug in some freestyling set to “Smart Went Crazy.” This was a rad and fun way to end the show, but the crowd hadn’t had enough. Slug told them he would do one more and then he was going to go catch Devotchka, the night’s headliners.

As most of the audience was yelling for “You,” their big single that has been played nonstop on Channel 93.3, Slug told the crowd, “I’m going to do a song I want, stop
yelling like it’s karaoke night!” He then bucked what would have pleased the masses for what pleased himself and those with a broader perspective and closed with “Not Another Day,” off their newest EP Sad Clown Bad Spring 12. This was the perfect way to close the show as the winds howled and the mist trickled down showing that party hip-hop can be a blast but truly saying something is more visceral. On Saturday night Atmosphere gave the audience a gem, and there’s no reason to paint it gold.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hot Water Music at the Gothic

I'm working away on 3 reviews and a radio story after this year's Monolith. My calves are so sore that I can only sit and write. They will up soon. Until then here is my review of Hot Water Music last week.

This past year Hot Water Music made a slight ripple when they announced they were coming off what was supposed to be a permanent hiatus. This news officially put on hold the Draft – the group formed by Hot Water Music members after the departure of Chuck Ragan – and Chuck Ragan’s foray into the fad of punk-rocker turned Americana-folkster. Since reuniting in October of 2007, the Gainsville, Fla., group has only managed to release a B-sides compilation and play sporadic reunion dates.

When I arrived at the Gothic Theater on Sunday night, the venue seemed pretty vacant for a “reunion show.” During opener Only Thunder’s set of dated butt-rock that macerated as post-hardcore, the Gothic was as full as a Rockies vs. Padres game. There’s a chance that Hot Water Music’s elder fanbase has the timing of shows down to a science – that or they were all out smoking. By the time the headliners were about to take the stage, the pit had mostly filled in. However, it wasn’t packed. As mariachi music rang and the band took the stage, I began to wonder if it was worth it for Hot Water Music to reunite and put the promise of their other projects on hold, considering the last time I saw the Draft they were drawing similar sized crowds.

When the band went into their first song, “Rooftops,” the small but passionate audience showed that it’s not the size of the crowd that matters, it’s the commitment. The band raced through the first six songs of the set without taking a break, starting strong with “Rooftops” and “Wayfrarer” – two songs that had the crowd screaming along with all the “Whoas!” while throwing their fists in the air. “Paper Thin” kept the chanting sing-along rolling. Hot Water Music only took a brief breath to ask how the crowd was doing before jumping right back into their set, but moments later the band stopped because a fight had broken out in front of the stage. Everyone had to wait for security to escort the rabble-rousers out of the theater before the show could continue. This lead to screams of, “You f**king suck!” and other cat calls. Meanwhile Chuck Ragan held up a half-full plastic cup and said, “The only good thing is I have a little glass of Colorado whiskey.”

After the pause the band went into the aptly appropriate “Jack of All Trades” hollering “Give me a reason not to lash out!” as crowd chanted the refrain of “HEY!” This was followed by one of the most epic drumstick tosses of all time during “Choked and Separated.” Midway through the song, drummer George Rebelo pulled a Henry Rowengartner and launched his stick that made a beeline to the back of the theater near the bar. I thought this was going to be the craziest thing I’d see all night, but I was proven wrong one song later when Mike from Denver band Skyrise to Martus (who were not affiliated with the show in any way) jumped on stage and grabbed the mic and kept singing along despite the efforts of the roadies to restrain him. The band went along with it and Ragan shared his mic after the first one was cut. After the song was over, Ragan said he wanted to buy Mike a beer. Mike made two more appearances on stage throughout the rest of the show, becoming some kind of phantom of the rock show.

The latter half of the show didn’t go without its share of hiccups. At one point Jason Black’s bass amp blew out and drummer Rebelo went into an impromptu breakdown showing off his skills as an accomplished jazz musician behind the kit while Ragan and Chris Wollard spoke about how they were dumbfounded by the “energy and support,” and to be honest, so was I. But as the band wrapped up their set with “Remedy” and “Things on a Dashboard” before the obligatory encore, I realized why Hot Water Music regrouped and ditched the promise of an acoustic solo career or a strong debut that could have taken the Draft to new heights. They love playing together. Plus Ragan and Wollard are probably the only two people, outside of Blake Schwarzenbach, who can harmonize their gravelly vocals. On Sunday night, there was a chemistry between the members that were not there during the Draft’s performances – a chemistry that certainly could not be found when Chuck Ragan was sitting alone on a stool.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Writer's Block

I was working on my article for tomorrow's Reverb, which of course will also appear on here, when I came across an acute case of writers block. So what better way to work that out then to write whatever comes to mind. What do you all want to talk about? Oh, what's that? I can't hear you because I'm in the past writing this as you are in the future reading it. So future, how did the election work out? Did the rubes of this country fall for the same conservative bullshit of lower taxes, again?! Oh wait, don't tell me that people voted on abortion?! Jesus Christ there has only be one Democratic President in the past 28 years and we still have ABORTION! Or is it that old boondoggle about how the young guy isn't ready to lead? Never mind the fact that McCain picked an even more inexperienced running mate who makes Obama look like Ted Kennedy. Speaking of Kennedy, people said his brother was too inexperienced and look we have a black man as a major candidate. Thanks for the Civil Rights movement (apologies to Bull Connor). And whatever happened to that crusty old white guy that Kennedy beat? Oh yeah, he was the first President to resign in disgrace and was the guy who signed into a effect our current health care system. Remember Lincoln? He had as much experience as Obama, again black man (apologies to Jefferson Davis). I guess that inexperience sure beats more of what Bush has done. Oh wait, I forgot McCain is a MAVERICK! He took a hard stance against Campaign Finance Reform (not in affect this election), Religious Zealots (spoke at Liberty University), torture (voted against Intelligence Authorization Bill), and doesn't cave to the Bush Administration (voted in favor of the President 95% of the time). Well good work future. I guess you see things more clearly than we do back here in archaic ways of fall 2008. We don't know all our history because a lot of it hasn't happened yet. I'm glad you know it all now, because then you won't be doomed to repeat it.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Octopus Project at Hi-Dive

Last week in Denver we had a large gathering of white elitists with expensive, perfectly styled haircuts whose rhetoric was almost as generic as their sense of style. It wasn’t the Democratic National Convention. It was the Octopus Project performing at the Hi-Dive on Aug. 26.

Before the keynote speakers took the stage, there were the usual anonymous openers. Matt Larabee Band played the part of Chicago City Clerk Miguel del Valle. No one has ever heard of him and nobody really seemed to care.

Next up was Red Orange Yellow, the Mark Warner (former Virginia governor) of the night. Like Warner, many have anticipated Red Orange Yellow’s rise to prominence given their potential (Editor’s note: they’re actually breaking up soon). Also like Warner, many have witnessed Red Orange Yellow stay on the periphery of the scene as newer and more exciting figures positioned themselves in the spotlight.

Red Orange Yellow began their set with a loud imitation of post-rock with a building crescendo that ultimately led nowhere. As the show progressed, their set took on the traits of an aged senator speaking on the floor of Congress — long-winded and going in no discernable direction. Former Photo Atlas drummer, Devon Shirley, was one of the few bright spots as he picked up the intensity midway through the set. For a short period his performance behind the kit made up for the lack of substance in the band’s sound.

By the time the headliners were set to take the stage, the uninspired performances of the opening acts had sucked the life out of the crowd — or they were just too hip to get excited. Either way, the night’s keynote speakers were not greeted like musical Obamas. Undeterred, the Octopus Project jumped into a high-energy set that felt as genuine as Obama’s proclamations of hope and change.

The setup on stage perfectly suited the band’s style. Kitschy cat-like figures (actually curtains with white Christmas lights underneath) were positioned on either side of the stage. A video projection played images that corresponded perfectly with the emotions each song provoked.

There was everything from Daniel Johnstonesque cartoons (which danced across the screen while “Black Blizzard/Red Umbrella” came pulsing out of the speakers) to a somewhat ominous image of hand caressing an unidentifiable goo as the Theramin wailed eerie vintage Sci-Fi sounds. Cheesy images of ’70s music performances on TV and Super 8 footage of men with monkey masks blithely riding bikes also added to the show. These images transformed the Octopus Project’s set from another cool show to a piece of performance art.

Lone female member Yvonne Lambert stood front and center on the keyboards. Throughout the show her hands majestically danced across the keys as her shoulders remained perfectly square. This, along with her Norman Rockwell-era appearance, served as the axis for the band as the three male members (Josh Lambert, Toto Miranda and Ryan Figg), dressed in matching white shirts and ties, switched instruments, ran around and basically exploded like stars with each note they played.

At no point in the show did the set feel typical or mundane; they played everything from the light merriment in “Bees Bein’ Strugglin” to “Adjustor,” a chilling tune that could be used in the next “Bourne” movie.

After 12 songs and an impromptu encore, the crowd finally looked like the hysterical delegates that applaud every word of Obama’s speeches. It was clear that Tuesday night that the Octopus Project holds themselves to a high standard creatively. If Obama were asked if we can expect another great show next time they come to town, the answer would be (with apologies): “Yes We Can!”

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sarah Palin

SIDE NOTE: I believe, perhaps against better judgment, in the old American rallying cry: There is more that unites us than divides us. And for all of those who tuned in to the RNC last night, we are all of us--Dems and Repubs--in agreement about one thing:

Sarah Palin is a FOX!

Those glasses put here in the substitute teacher/secretary category of hot that is characteristic of both taboo tones and illicit/inaproriate horn-dogishness. And you know what? I love it! More to cum, pun intended.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Walk this Way

What a party...

This is an post I had written around the middle of last week. Kevin hit me until I bled and then left savage, disgusting messages on my mom's answering machine until I added this post. I supposed I deserved it. Enjoy:

Perhaps there is a sense of unity that fast approaches as soon as those balloons drop. Maybe not. Rallies, for years, have always united the many behind what the few seem to believe. The Democratic National Convention is the same. Tonight, by some sort of grace I've neither earned nor expected, I hope to attend tonight's convention in the Pepsi Center here in Denver.

For those few of you stateside who care to peruse our blog, you may me unaware: we have a almost ludicrous following in southern Indonesia, are stars of a underground animated television show in Tehran and we've even been banned on Red China's interweb-superhighway. Kevin, of course, secured the Iranian and island bloc on his trip to Europe this summer (Christ knows how). I am responsible for the Asian censors.

That being said, I feel obligated to explain to those unfamiliar with American culture just exactly why the fuck anyone should care about these conventions; the good Sen. Obama, after all, as the nomination "all sewn up" already. The honest and frank answer is that identifying any sort of "American Culture" is about as possible as driving with your parking break on or enjoying the movie Mask, staring Cher. This perhaps will be taken up in another post however. For the moment, consider Americans like schools of fish: we like shiny things and free meals, no matter how much we really pay for it.

First formed during the French Revolution, the National Convention was a coming together of concerned parties in order to address common grievances, success, baguettes, what have you. Today the DNC must take place in order for a bunch of people who represent states you'd never EVER care to visit--Kansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Guam, for example--come to voice to the world that which we already fucking know. "We Choose Barack Obama," they will gleefully cry! Bully for them. We already knew that. Now give me back that 100 million we spent on all these fucking balloons.

Volunteers and delegates have clamored around my city for 2 days now feeling entitled, like some sick-batch of prom moms, feeling they deserve to take part in Democracy. To take part in a choice that was made months ago. All the while we have thrown money towards a festival of tom-fuckery that really accomplishes nothing.

If Obama is elected, here is the first "CHANGE" that will happen: Obama will be fucking recognized by my damn spell check.

Goverment = culture.

Out of the Silent Planet We Are

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I Want Old School Headphones and a Bushy Hair Cut like a Young Dan Rather

This circus is in town. The DNC starts tomorrow, but the protesters already began to congregate today downtown. A clusterfuck of hardline right wingers, mennonites, and anarchist took to the streets today. I reported on it for KGNU. I dig the atmosphere these kinds of events create, but I can't stand these anarchist kids. They stand for nothing, do not know how to interact with the press (even the good guys like me), and their arrogance undermines the positive things other groups are doing. Analyst were worried how Obama was going to get Clinton supporters on his side I don't know how he will manage to gain the support of these anarchists who dress like old timey train robbers, then again they probably don't vote anyway. However, I still have to respect their brazen disregard for authority and taking change and action into their own hands. I'll be spending the next week engulfed in this shit show inside and outside the convention for KGNU and KRCX. If I find sometime I'll up load some of my stories.
Highlight from the first day, almost literally running into Ted Turner. His smile is child like and even more unsettling in person.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Just seeing if this thing works as it ought to; I don't often care to consort with the robot race. I will post more quite soon. Until then, consider me cryptic.

-HBM Out
He jumped from 30,000 feet. Forgot to pull the chord.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Like Rick and Louie

All three of my occasional readers, please welcome the newest (and only other writer besides me) contributor to The Arcane, Blaine Miller.
He is originally from the south, wears bow ties, and looks something like the photo above.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Amos Lee at the Gothic Theater

Television producers love Amos Lee. Since his self-titled debut album in 2005, Amos Lee songs have been featured on nearly a dozen primetime dramas. His voice usually accompanies a montage near the end of an episode, when the doctor/boss/protagonist is sitting alone in the dark after making a major mistake. In the past, an artist who had such a specific niche would go unnoticed or be forgotten. However, thanks to the interweb and iTunes, Amos Lee’s career has benefitted from his knack of creating soundtrack-fitting songs. This was painfully apparent Saturday night at his show at the Gothic Theatre.

The venue was jam-packed with every demographic primetime television is shooting for. Sitting along the back row was the over-40 crowd. Men in Tommy Bahama shirts and the desperate housewives of Douglas County drank light beer. On the floor, 30-something guys with blue-and-white striped dress shirts with jeans and thin-framed glass discussed how much they love the Garden State soundtrack. Birkenstock wearing pseudo-hipsters with patchy beards were rubbing elbows with teenage couples. In the middle of this scene were pockets of early 20-something nursing majors drinking Coronas and complaining about tall people standing in front of them. The crowd could have easily been expecting to see an advanced screening of this season “Grey’s Anatomy” premiere.

Instead, opener Pricilla Ann took the stage first, and all the chatter about Garden State and exams abruptly ended. With only half an hour, Pricilla Ann managed to steal the crowd’s hearts with her quirky, girl-next-door demeanor (at one point telling the crowd she was drunk because of the altitude after drinking wine out of a Starbucks cup). Her angelic voice held the audience’s attention despite only being accompanied by her guitar. When her set ended, all the guys in the crowd probably wanted to get her number, while the women became anxious for Amos Lee.

After about a 45-minute break and a request that no photos or video be taken, Amos Lee and his band took the stage and immediately went into “Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight.” This subdued and soulful song was greeted by howls of delight from the crowd. Without missing a beat, the band changed tempo and went into “Supply and Demand,” an upbeat and polished song off his second record of the same name that had the 20-somethings screaming, “I love you Amos.”

Amos Lee’s set spanned 20 songs and what seemed like half as many genres. “Bottom of the Barrel” played like an upbeat Southern church hymn. “What’s Been Going” had an acoustic melancholy that might land it in the next Cameron Crowe film. And “Won’t Let Me Go” sounded like Amos’ love letter to ’70s soul. In the middle of this journey through influences, Amos went into crowd favorite “Sweet Pea,” but instead of a simple ukulele pop tune, the band played a bigger and fuller version that had the whole audience singing along.

It wasn’t just the songs that showcased Lee’s influences, though. His stage performance featured Buddy Guy’s plucking, Waylon Jennings’ gunman grip and posture, Justin Timberlake’s shoulder shrugs, head bob and hand gestures during breakdowns – which were originally Michael Jackson’s. Amos would close his eyes whenever a big note came belting out. It was clear that he had been groomed for the stage.

By the time he finished his set, the crowd started making their way to the exits. They were either gassed by the passion of the set or were unaware that encores are an inevitability. Nevertheless, Amos came back out for a five-song encore that began with “Soul Suckers” and ended with a crowd-favorite of a cover, Queen’s “Fat Bottom Girls.”

After nearly two hours of music that sweat folk, soul, blues and gospel, everyone in the crowd was left exhausted. Amos Lee’s passion permeates off the stage, but it doesn’t feel put on. His genuine love of music and performance is contagious, and it leaves people feeling the same way he probably felt when writing each song; happy, lonely and depressed – which is probably why television producers continually use his songs to capture the right moment at the end of the episode.

Like Kotter

After a summer sabbatical abroad The Arcane is back and hopefully better then ever. I have recently taken up a position as a contributor to The Reverb. Check them out. It is a great local Denver webzine. All of my reviews on there can also be found here. In addition to live music reviews I will be getting back in to record reviews. I am extremely far behind on new music, but I am trying to get caught up. Lastly, there is talk of bring on an incredibly gifted and zany individual to do weekly posts on whatever he feels. Check back soon for a new Arcane that'll make you say, "Oh my god, Mr. Kotta!"

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Meester Rising (Stream of Conscious Articulated Through Warriors of Cult Film and Irish Hisrtory).

In the 1979 cult classic The Warriors Cyrus, the leader of the most powerful gang in New York City, the Gramercy Riffs, calls a midnight summit for all the area gangs, with all asked to send nine unarmed representatives for the conclave. Cyrus then stands in front of all of New York's most notorious gangs and advocates a truce, pointing out there are 100,000 of them and only 20,000 officers in the NYPD (five to one). Cyrus speaks with eloquence that would put Barack Obama to shame. On April 17th, 2008 around 4:35 pm. A man wearing a recycled high school referee's uniform stood in front of nearly 300 members of the Regis student body on top of a keg. In his 4 short years he has become some what of a cult figure on campus. On this day he did not decide to call the summit like Cyrus, instead he was thrust into his responsibility. Earlier in the day he tried to pass the responsibility on his numerous peers, yet no one would accept. At around 1:30 pm, he accepted the responsibility. He felt a sense of pride in calling all the gangs of Regis together in light of recent events. He might have been a reluctant leader in the vein of Louis XVI, but within moments he had a Peter Parkeresque realization, this was his gift this was his curse. Now he stood in front of a mob of peers, many of whom were strangers, and addressed them as one of their own. Much like Cyrus he advocated uniting. The Regis student body totaled nearly 1,400, the staff represented, at best, half that amount. He was stern, yet at the same time matter of fact. He looked around and saw the basketball team next to the rugby team. He saw the baseball boys, the "Baseball Furies", next to an all girl team similar to the "Lizzies." This wasn't a summit, however, this was a Keg Race. The Keg Race had become a Regis tradition back in 2005, and it was at risk of disintegrating 4 years later unless someone united the student body. That man was backed into what he had done, but didn't feel more comfortable in his position until he stood on a keg wearing that recycled ref jersey. When he announced the winner, he felt a backlash. Similar to the "Rogues" pulling a gun and shooting Cyrus, a group threw a beer at our protagonist. Unlike Cyrus, he did not die from his wounds. Instead, it pulled him back to earth. He might not have directly sought out his icon status, it had ultimately become a self fulfilling prophecy. Two weeks later he graduated from Regis, a week after that he realized it was all for not. Fortunately, it was all in good fun. He didn't loose his life, but the parallels seem obvious. What if Cyrus had lived to united the gangs of New York. Society tells us it would have been a short lived revolt, but for those few short moments it would have felt like a significant struggle, their own Easter Rising. In a way he was envious of Cyrus and Patrick Pearse, because they never knew their rebellions were suppressed. They didn't have to deal with the fallout and today they live on in folklore and spirit. Which poses a question that Salinger alludes to near the end of Catcher in the Rye, "The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one." Well I feel like I am slowly getting to the place where I want to live humbly. I no longer want to stand on kegs, makeshift stages, nor the shores of the grand canal. I will spare the 1st Corinthians bullshit, but I do feel a sadness in that. In a way, this is officially the end of my youth. I might have been the protagonist in this story, but I always saw myself as the antagonist in life. Today I don't.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tom Snyder, and the destruction of credibility

It was only a matter of time before this happened, but this blog that I have been trying to maintain as a legitimate web publication might now be reduced to another boring self indulgent online diary. I had a rough day and a rough week. I have been planning on writing a piece about guitar hero and it's ability to cure depression. Hopefully I will get that up next week when ranger week is over and I have some free time. I will say I did not play guitar hero when I was feeling down. Instead, I watched some old clips of one of my broadcasting heroes, a legend and icon Tom Snyder. I began to feel a bit better and realized that it was a shame that he passed away last year, while a worthless hack like Baba Wawa is still alive, on the air, and some how revered. I came across this clip. Two of the people that shaped my youth when I stayed up late with my face 6 inches from the screen so I could keep the volume low enough my folks wouldn't here.

Monday, April 7, 2008


I missed a post last week. I could have lied and said something about be busy, but I just wasn't motivate enough. That got me thinking about lying. So, I have decided to put up an analysis I wrote on Interpersonal Deception Theory.

On the hit FOX show House the show’s protagonist Dr. House frequently uses the popular mantra “everybody lies.” This fits the character of Dr. House, a rude, misanthropic cynic who also happens to be the best doctor in the area. His mantra is often a source of conflict with other characters, most of which have a common belief in people and their good intentions. Yet, at the end of each episode Dr. House is right and at one point someone lied.
Interpersonal Deception Theory analyzes the way we lie and deceive others, and it’s not as simple as House looking at an inanimate object and figuring out what is wrong with the patient moments before they die. According to David Buller and Judee Burgoon, people often find themselves in situations where they make statements that are less than completely honest and deceive another. This is accomplished by manipulating information. They theorize that there are three deception strategies people use when they are not being forthright, falsification, concealment, and equivocation.
The first, falsification, is what many consider an outright lie. Falsification creates a fiction, an event that didn’t happen. Falsification can commonly be seen with adolescents. I myself falsified often when deceiving my parents and teachers. Also, judging by popular cultures representation of the criminal justice system many people who are connected with a criminal investigation will falsify events in the hopes of staying out of jail. Lastly, currently in professional sports, politics, and society many public figures have claimed not to have done something wrong but were later implicated, most notably Marion Jones. However used, falsification is a strategic deception.
Buller and Bergoon theorize that strategic deception requires more mental effort and may cause a cognitive overload when the deceiver is unable to deal with multiple complex tasks. According to Miron Zuckerman, when a person is deceiving another there are a number of emotional response, including the psychological arousal of lying and the guilty and anxiety that accompanies deception. All of these factors can lead to displays of unconscious nonverbal cues giving someone the “look of a liar.” However, deception research has shown that nonverbal cues are not always reliable indicators of deception.
Secondly, concealment is keeping something hidden, a secret. It is often thought that everybody has a secret. This has produced the art project Post Secret where people write one of their darkest secrets on a postcard and then have it published online. There is little cognitive overload in concealment. When pressed about a situation, however, concealment may often lead to falsification to keep the issue hidden or equivocation. Equivocation is the third strategy of deception. Equivocation dodges an issue when presented. Once again popular athletes and politics use equivocation when pressed on an issue. Most notable, Mark McGuire was subpoenaed to appear before congress to discuss steroids in baseball. When asked if he ever used them McGuire responded that he was not going to talk about the past and how he is looking to help baseball move forward. This strategy demands a substantial amount of mental effort, but not as much as falsification.
Every deception has a motive behind it. Buller and Burgoon judge a deceptive act on these motives, rather than on the deceiver. They believe every deceptive act has at least three aims, to accomplish a specific task or instrumental goal, to establish or maintain a relationship with the respondent, and to “save face” or sustain the image of one or both parties. These are all common motives that I’m surely nearly everyone has felt when deceiving another.
If deception is so common, or as House puts it “everybody lies,” then why are most of us like Dr. Cameron and Dr. Cuddy and less like Dr. House? According to Buller and Burgoon humans have a persistent expectation that people will tell the truth, known as “truth bias.” There is an implied social contract that all of us will be honest with each other. Yet, despite a powerful and prevailing truth bias in face-to-face interaction, people can come to doubt the honesty of another’s words. Buller and Burgoon believe suspicion to be a mid-range mind-set, located somewhere between truth and falsity. And in spite of the many ways that respondents could become suspicious, Buller and Burgoon have found that it’s difficult to induce deep-seated skepticism. Thus, leaving House the misanthropic cynic who will continue to be the best, while all of the others continue to give patients the benefit of the doubt.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Concert Review: Explosions in the Sky at The Belly Up in Aspen.

I grew up in a small town in Nebraska. The vast corn stock plains provided many advantages over those in metropolitan areas; “Cruising” the “ones”, boredom that spawns creativity, and most importantly, high school sports serving as a monarchy. All of these things can only be found in the place I called home. What couldn’t be found was a cool rock show. In my teen years I had to drive at least four hours to the east or the west to be able to find a good rock show. On certain occasions I would load up in a car, usually a gas guzzling 80’s Buick Le Sabre or a 1995 Pontiac Grande Am, and head on a mini road trip in search of rock, as long as my mom and dad said it was okay and I, with my Eddie Haskell charm, convinced my friend’s parents it was okay. These trips were filled with wide eyes, atlas’s, and truck stops, all the while listening to our favorite band at the moment screaming angsty lyrics in anticipation of our moment to “rock out,” and if were lucky, meet the band we saw on the sleeve of the CD as we sat in our basement bed rooms late at night memorizing every word.

I moved to Denver when I was 18 years old because of all the shows I could see in a given week. I remember reading the Westword and thinking, “Man, every week can be like my last road trip.” In light of this it might seem ironic that on Tuesday night right after getting home from class I decided to hop into a car and drive 3 hours to Aspen to see Explosions in the Sky, especially since they were going to be in Denver the following night. I set out on this road trip because I figured I wouldn’t have the time to see them the following night, and the fact that my friends told me I would only have to pay $5 in gas didn’t hurt either. This was my first time in Aspen, ever! When I was a kid I’d watch Dumb and Dumber incessantly and repeat all the lines. My only knowledge of Aspen was what Loyd Christmas told me, “A place where the beer flows like wine, and the women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano.” When I walked into the Belly Up on this night the beer was definitely flowing, but the women weren’t flocking. From what I could tell from my bar stool before the show, every woman in Aspen had a boyfriend. If you are single, don’t move to Aspen. Loyd thought John Denver was full of shit. Well I’ll tell you, Loyd Christmas is full of shit, man. Not that this normally bothers me much, but this dynamic resulted in a lot of girlfriend/boyfriend banter. This is obnoxious enough in it’s own right, but the banter carried over into the show.

Explosions in the Sky are an instrumental post-rock band that gained major recognition after being featured in the film, and subsequent soundtrack, of the 2004 film and television show Friday Night Lights. Without a lead singer the band seemed to struggle to gain the crowds attention at first, which is odd considering they were the headliners. During the atmospheric intro to their first song, "Memorial", the banter of the burnout couple to my left was nearly as audible as the band. The band was configured in a simple, yet dramatic stage set up with bassists Michael James standing in the middle of the stage, with the two guitar players Munaf Rayani and Mark Smith kneeling with their heads down. As the crescendo of the song built, the two guitar players rose and seemed to bloom like flowers. When the song entered a soft bridge, one of the local ski bums yelled, “Why are you so sad?” To which Rayani flipped off the crowd. After this, the rest of the song and set took on a stronger tone. While the burnouts in the front where channeling the spirit of Timothy Leary, the Texas natives Explosions seemed to be channeling the spirit of Sam Houston.

Nearing the end of "Memorial", the band went into a thundering two minute jam that was as violent as the Battle of San Jacinto. It felt like the band was out for blood, playing with reckless abandon and rebellious chord progression.

After the cataclysmic opening the band settled into a brilliantly crafted set. As an instrumental band Explosions did a fairly decent job of present a compelling stage show. There music to me, however, always seems better suited as a compliment to something else than the main focus. During the set my eyes were consistently drawn to the crowd. This might have to do with me inheriting a deep-seated people watching genre from my Grandpa, but Explosions’ music can make everyday moments look like movie moments and give normal interactions an epic feel, whether it be taking a shower or walking a dog.

The crowd was populated with annoying pseudo-hippies, this was a mountain town after all. The Belly Up was booming with the 3 B’s (Beards, Beanies, and Burnouts). And the couple to the left of me broke out the glow sticks early in the set, officially making them walking clichés. Despite the stereotypes in the crowd there was actually a little diversity that made for great people watching. Behind me there was a short guy wearing a Pittsburgh Pirates hat, who looked a lot like a kid I grew up with named Jay Williams, that was a guitar ventriloquist, an airguitar Edgar Bergen if you will. This normally might sound annoying, but seeing the guy drunkenly rockout to Explosions in the Sky was actually kind of cool. To my right there was a young high school couple, I assume they were in high school judging by the black Xs on their hands, old navy attire and bad hair cuts, standing in the oh so high school lovelorn way (The guy behind the girl with his arms draped around her waist) slowly swaying to the ambient guitars with their eyes closed. Their sway even appeared to be in slow motion. As, what I consider Explosions signature song, “Your Hand in Mine,” which was featured prominently throughout the film Friday Night Lights, echoed through the small mountain venue I saw two girls in front of me slow dancing. This scene in my memory could have easily been taken out of Friday Night Lights.

As the final blaring notes of “The Only Moment We Were Alone” hummed through the speakers the show ended with the same tenacity it began. No encore. I don’t believe this was done out of spite for the crowd that they seemed to hold in contempt. I believe the band knew that an encore would be disingenuous, it would complete go against the mood they created. And I couldn’t have been happier. I have long lamented the self indulgence and absurdity of the “planned” encore and it was refreshing to have a show end on literally the perfect note. With seamless segues Explosions in the Sky were able to create a show that felt like one long song, a score to people at a concert. As I sat in my friend’s car at 2 am going over my notes, still listening to Explosions, I could picture the quaintly attractive Brazilian waitress at the Belly Up wiping down a table and finishing up closing the dank mountain bar before turning off the lights and heading home. On the way home I might have been driving through the mountains as a 22 year old critic, but with Explosions providing the score to my journey, I strangely felt like the wide eyed 17 year old in the back seat of a 1995 Pontiac Grand Am traversing the vast corn stock plains of Nebraska.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

SXSW '08

Surviving SXSW '08
here is my radio story about SXSW, The link will only be active for 14 days. If I can get a new one I'll update it. Until then enjoy.

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Paddy's Day

The best day of the year. Although I'm exhausted and wayy behind on work after SXSW I will be drinking during the day and playing Irish folk songs on my radio show today. I'm working on a piece about SXSW it will be up on Weds. in audio form. I saw Billy Bragg on Thursday and although he is English not Irish I found his lyrics
"I was twenty one years when I wrote this song
I'm twenty two now, but I won't be for long
People ask when will you grow up to be a man
But all the girls I loved at school
are already pushing prams" on "A New England" particularly relevant to my own life.
Top St. Paddy's Day recommendations

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Go West Young Man

Horace Greeley is often cited with the quote, "Go west, young man." This quote has often served the mystique of the great west, the realization of manifest destiny. This concept has become so ingrained in the American conscious that today some of the most beloved and influential authors' works (specifically, Kerouac and Thompson) focused on finding themselves, or something in the west, often in a car. In my transitional state, a college senior on my last spring break who recently turned 22 years old, sought out the west for my last hurrah, in a car. There seems to be a myth that road trips are this amazing experience of fun and self realization that can only happen when one spends more than 6 hours in a car, especially in an unfamiliar land. I'm not saying that this myth is completely unwarranted. I have had a number of incredible road trips, but it was on this particular trip that I came to a completely new realization. When on a straight shot road trip, where there is no stopping for sleeping before the initial destination, it is always best to go with three people.

I went on this trip with just my friend Marcus and we spent a lot of the time falling asleep at the wheel and more importantly just worrying about getting to our immediate destination as fast as possible. John Steinbeck once wrote in Travels With Charley: In Search of America referring to the U.S. interstate system that it's "possible to drive from New York to California without seeing a single thing." This concept of travel completely goes against the folklore of "the roadtrip." Thus, the importance of having a third driver. The additional driver allows more time for rest, which gives way to less emphasis on time and being able to stop and experience what the road has to offer. Case in point, In November I drove with a group of friends from St. Louis, Missouri to Columbus, Georgia. There were more than two of us. So, we created our own route, not what google maps recommended, and had a fulfilling journey through the south. We experienced Memphis, the Loraine hotel, Sun records, ate at a greasy spoon diner in Potts Camp, Mississippi (and yes I had to say the rhyme to remember how to spell that), and actually looked at an atlas to determine which roads to take along the way. This trip, however, was filled with Del Taco and "we better hit the road." I was in the southwest grazing the Mexico border like a 15 year old boy trying to cop a feel while making out with his first girlfriend, and just like him I never got to paradise.

Despite not entering Mexico and having an average time, at best, in America's suburb (Arizona), I still held on to the hope of attaining the roadtrip I was looking for with Horace Greeley ringing in my head, "Go west, young man" as I approached California. However, it wasn't Horace Greeley who originally said that, he paraphrased the quote from the title of an editorial by John B. L. Soule, "Go west, young man, and grow up with the country." Yet, when I went to San Deigo I soon found out that in the west no one had grown up. For two days in San Deigo I was surrounded by materialistic sexist homophobes who cared about little else than drinking beer and establishing their status on Mission Beach. Being around these people ignited an aspect of anger in me that I hadn't felt in a long time. The first night there I got into a verbal confrontation with a freshman named Alex from the University of San Deigo where we traded insults, never a good idea when I'm involved, that led to the kid grabbing my hair and tauting me by saying, "What are you going to do about it you hippie, sign a petition?" This kid is lucky that I am mostly a pacifist, I say this in the least egocentric way possible because I am not exceptional strong or vicious but my friend Marcus is and was ready to "go" as he put it. Instead of starting a fight over a verbal pissing match, I told him I thought we got off on the wrong foot and introduced myself. But, this bowl cut in a Bob Marley shirt wouldn't shake my hand and mockingly congratulated me on taking the "high ground." Although not as satisfying as knocking his teeth out everyone there looked at him like the low class cliche he was. The following night I nearly got into another confrontation where I could have easily got my ass kicked by a Real World reject who used the word f*g three times a sentence. I'll spare the details as the story isn't especially interesting, much less so then the last which was weak in it's own regard. However, the reject did get arrested later in the night for being belligerent in public.

This similar theme carried over the next night in San Dimas, which by the way is not as cool as Bill and Ted made it seem but I did see the San Dimas High School football field. I was continually frustrated by one individuals cocky bravado and his consistent references of homosexuality about inanimate objects. However, later in the night I had a long conversation with him about a number of things and he began to get really open up about his personal life. Normally this is an uncomfortable situation, but I have noticed recently that when talking to someone I'm constantly searching for a narrative. My conversations have become interviews. After talking with him I realized he was just lost in a transitional time in his life and didn't no who he was, as a result he masquerades his true self with the ultra cool Eddie Haskell persona.

As I was driving along the pacific listening to "7/4 (Shoreline)" I heard the words, "And you're walking away, But where to go to?" Those words struck me because I ran away to the coast, I wanted to escape responsibility and reality. I wanted to avoid "grown up" issues, but where did I end up? On Mission Beach surrounded by the kind of people I might have partied with as a freshman. My mind was enthralled by these feelings and consequences, until I was driving through Utah on I-15 as the sun was rising over the mountains on Sunday and I heard Nico sing, "Sunday morning and I'm falling, I've got a feeling I dont want to know." I realized the feeling I had, I needed to accept my maturity and adulthood. I can't go back to the apathetic freshman playing beer pong, I had to embrace being a "grown up." I journeyed west in search of my last hurrah, a collection of beer bongs and sleeping on kitchen floors, my farewell to college and youth. Instead, I found myself consistently in confrontations with a population of phoney douchebags and myself. I had not hit the road in search of finding myself as so many do, I hit the road to escape. I wasn't trying to be Kerouac, I was trying to be Boon from Animal House. In the process I did find myself, well the part I was avoiding at least, and said farwell to my youth in a way I didn't expect. Like Horace Greeley I will paraphrase Soule, "Go west, young man, and grow up."

Monday, March 10, 2008

Dog Tired

Trying to recover and stay on top of "life." Full post on spring break trip by Wednesday. Then I'll be at SXSW on Thursday. Until then ponder this question, "If Jesus were a Christian, would it be a self fulfilling prophecy?"

Thursday, March 6, 2008

If You Are Going to San Diego...

...Eat at Hodads. They have burgers the size of my head, literally.
San Diego is nice enough, especially when witnessing Biological Luminosity in person.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Gnome Country for Old Men

I am in the great Southwest for Spring Break '08. I finally saw No Country before I left. Good stuff, really. I'm working on some post about this trip, but I'm saving them until next week. Until then here is a movie poster I made awhile back.

Monday, February 25, 2008

It Happened One Open Mic Night

Classic stage actor Sir Donald Wolfit once said, "Dying is easy, comedy is hard." Well, after my first foray into the world on stand up comedy I can say that making jokes about death is easy, getting laughs is hard. I walked into to the 404 lounge on Friday as the definition of an amateur, I have performed stand up a grand total of two times before and they have been in the safe haven of Regis. The 404 is an old timers bar that has not been completely over run by hipsters, yet. When I signed up for my slot I was quite intimidated, no one know who I was and everyone else performing seemed to know each other and their work. "Shit, these guys are professionals" I thought. When the open mic started the MC, some guy named Chris got on stage and told a joke about how he thought high fives are retarded. Silence. I began to worry, because if the "professional" couldn't get any laughs then I'm screwed. I got on stage and realized midway through my first joke that no one laughs at open mics! So, what did I have to lose? A funny thing happened though, I got more laughs then the first 4 comics combined. Obviously some bits bombed, but I'm just some kid getting on stage for my third time. In my act I covered recent stories in the news, television, and advertising, the kind of shit I write on here once a week. My strongest joke was "Fidel Castro resigned the other day and now his brother Raul will be taking over as el Presidente in Cuba. So does this make him the Jim Belushi of Communism?" I was surprised to get a fairly big reaction out of the crowd filled mostly with comedians and bar flies. After my five minutes were up I began to realize why a few of my jokes did so well, I'm not a misogynist, homophob, sexist, classist, or generally bigoted or mean spirited comedian, and I use that term very loosely. The rest of the night was a laugh less affair with one comedian trying to be Sam Kinison without the material making rape and gay jokes. The guy appeared to be a regular aspiring comedian who is a regular, but didn't get a single laugh. This appeared to be common place for this guy because at one point he said, "I'm not getting mad tonight, I usually get mad." Then he got mad. He was pissed because no one was laughing, but what did he expect? Uninsightful jokes that seemed more to shock than entertain are not going to get laughs. The guy might as well have been telling "black jokes." This came to an apex near the end of his set. He asked, "Come on people this is a comedy show, what did you expect? This isn't a bris." At this point I committed a cardinal sin of comedy, I heckled. I replied, "It feels like it." The guy went ape shit, but all he could come up with was to call me a "fuckstick" and told me to shut up. I'll be honest I felt like shit afterwards, not because the guy called me a fuckstick or that I disrupted his set, I didn't even interrupt a punchline, but after having a marginally successful set and feeling like a "real" comedian I reverted back to some asshole in the back. He was bombing, he knew it and so did everyone else. There was no reason for me to be the heckler. I will say, however, that no one thought him calling me a fuckstick was funny and a few laughed at my comment. I will also say that I am enjoying writing the word fuckstick way too much. After this comedian there was a stream of laughless silence that culminated with some guy in his fifties that made me think I was at an open mic in the late 80's. This guy has probably been doing open mics since Andrew Dice Clay was Dane Cook, he made me long for comedic stylings of Yakov Smirnoff or that I had drank 10 Smirnoffs or that I was in Russia under Lenin or that I was in a yurt in Serbia.
Before I entered the 404 on Friday I expected this tight community of good and unique comics that were cutting their teeth and taking chances. What I found was a hodgepodge of shortsighted impostors that made me realize that we are back to the black era of comedy of the early 90's. Never the less, I think I'll continue to write and try out material in an attempt to find my style and pay my dues in old timer bars surrounded by comedians I don't like, because I'm not ready to die.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Presidential Cliff Notes

Here is the cliff notes version of the old, and mostly dead, white men that have occupied the highest position in the free world.
1-6: The Great White Hype
The first six presidents are men that are mostly named John or James, deist who looked to dip their quills in the black ink and generally revered as the greatest presidents in history. When in reality they just benefited from having a largely uneducated country and not being Mother England. Imagine if today John Kerry started a new country and people followed him. It would look pretty good compared to the US currently, but does that mean that John Kerry is bright, insightful figure who was centuries ahead of his time? It is worth noting that George Clinton served two terms as VP during this time. If only we could get the modern day George Clinton in there, then we'll really see if America is ready for a black president. He's qualified, I mean he has been running a parliament for over 25 years.
Andrew Jackson: Thomas Jefferson, Jr.
Where Jefferson left off, buying up 828,000 square miles off native land, Jackson picked up the early eradication of an indigenous people. Jackson passed the bluntly titled Indian Removal Act, believed in Manifest Destiny, and was the foreman who paved the Trail of Tears. Think if there was a weaker Republican field this year we might be reading about Tancredoian democracy in 200 years?

8-15: The Guys that Weren't Lincoln
The most forgettable collection of presidents in history, all 8 served one term or less. The U.S. from 1837-1861 was as stable as the cast of the view.
Such achievements by this crew include, the shortest presidency (31 days), muscling land away from the Mexicans, aiding slave owners in tracking down there "property," claiming that states could not legally secede but held that the Federal Government legally could not prevent them, and had a fast food restaurant named after one (Fillmore).
Abraham Lincoln: Maynard G. Krebs Goes to Work
During the Civil War Lincoln used his war powers to proclaim a blockade, suspended the writ of habeas corpus, spent money without congressional authorization, and imprisoned 18,000 suspected Confederate sympathizers without trial. Kinda sounds like Bush, yet he is still top 3 all time.
Andrew Johnson: A President So Nice They Impeached Him Twice
Johnson passed the Black Codes making freed slaves second class citizens. He also had such a contention relationship with Congress they tried to Impeach him twice. Once for basically being himself and the other for violating the Tenure of Office Act. Yet, some how Bush has gotten by scottfree. Hey at least Nebraska became a state during his presidency.
Ulysses S. Grant: America's Fat Drunk Uncle
When the biggest scandal of his presidency was called "The Whiskey Ring" it is safe to say that Grant made people believe that anyone truly could become president. Grant was a fat anti-Semite drunk who led the U.S. into the Long Depression, today he would be on Fox News.
19-25: The Guys that Weren't Roosevelt
Strongest collection of facial hair by a string of presidents. In fact when the public decided that Harrison's beard wasn't really working out for them they elected Cleveland's mustache to a second term. Also, some of the best pet names took place during this time, Garfield, Grover, Chester, Rutherford. The only president during this time to not have facial hair or an animals name was McKinley. However, he was assassinated by an anarchist, which is badass in its own right.
Theodore Roosevelt: Speak Softly and Carry a Big Schtick
Roosevelt grew up a sickly pipsqueak in New York, but is remembered as a Rough Rider. He also believed in Nordicism. However, he appointed the first Jew as Cabinet Secretary and had the first black man to dinner in the White House. Who was the real Roosevelt? The Aryan academic with asthma or the rough riding Nobel prize winner?
William Howard Taft: So Long, Facial Hair
A fat man with a mustache, he really should have switched places with McKinley. Taft weighed 330 lbs making him the fattest president, which will now segue these facts in the form of Yo President jokes. "Yo President is so fat, when he was elected he brought his own cow to the White House." "Yo President is so fat, when he took a bath he got stuck." "Yo President is so fat, he need a bathtub specially built for him that could hold 4 men." "Yo President is so fat, he was the first to regularly use a car because riding a horse could be considered animal cruelty."
Woodrow Wilson: The $100,000 Man
Wilson was a policy making president, but lacked an real flare. Imagine if Roosevelt never pretended to be tough and you have Wilson. There is a reason no one remembers World War I. He did appear on the $100,000 bill which is as idealistic as he was.
29-31: The Guys that Weren't FDR
These three were corrupt and inadequate, Teapot Dome, Mississippi Flood, and Great Depression made the 20's roaring alright. Imagine if we had nothing but Reagan, Bush and Bush for 24 straight years, except worse.
FDR: Farce of Dimes
He confiscated privately owned gold, used a Japanese attack to enter Western Europe conflict, imprisoned Americans because of their race, and had an affair for nearly 30 years with the same woman. Another one of the greats, at least he repealed Prohibition. Cheers
Harry S Truman: Truman Defeats 220,000 Sleeping Japanese
This guy dropped the bomb that no one in the world has used since. Not Cuba, not Russia, not even a Bush. Somehow killing nearly a quarter of a million civilians is still not frowned upon.
Dwight D. Eisenhower: The Good Times are Killing Me
This guys presidency was like a Rockwell painting, it's easy to forget the planned coup in Guatemala and the Eisenhower Doctrine. But thanks to him I can make it to California in 16 hours.
JFK: Playboy of the Western World
Kennedy was so damn charming no one ever seems to care his father rigged elections, he had enough blonds in the White House that the Lincoln Bedroom looked the grotto at Hef's place, Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis, and committed troops to Vietnam. After writing all of that I looked at his picture and thought of how wonderful he was. There's a reason why everyone wants to be the next Kennedy.
36-37: Two SOBs You Don't Want to Fuck With
Everyone has seen the Oliver Stone movies and one thing is clear, LBJ and Nixon were two tough and crazy motherfuckers. Nixon had an enemies list and LBJ took on the KKK.

38-39: "They Never Told Me Being President Was This Tough" Ford was a clown and Carter was a peanut farm. I personally liked Carter, but this era hearkens back to some of the great lame duck stretches in history sans the facial hair unfortunately.
40-41: This is the End
Reagan and Bush I laid the foundation for everything that is wrong our society today. I could list everything but I don't have the time or the energy. Times like this I wish I could forget like Reagan.
Bill Clinton: The First Frat President
Everyone says Clinton was the first black president, actually he was the first frat boy in office. This guy loved McDonalds, fucked anything that moved, was a chubbie chaser, just wanted to hang with everyone, and had no problem with talking his way out of trouble.
George W. Bush: War on Error
Bush has been the worst president in the history of the U.S. He has run the country like a monkey with a hand grenade. If I didn't have enough energy to list what his daddy and Reagan did wrong I'm going to need to do way more coke lines to start this one. Considering he wasn't actually elected, I'm taking a mulligan.
There you have. No need to open a history book again. Happy President's Day.

Monday, February 11, 2008

10 Things I Hate About Matthew McConaughey

Since the last two articles I've posted have had Wolf or Wolves in the title I thought I'd mix it up a bit. Over the weekend the aptly titled Fools Gold starring Matthew McConaughey brought in over 22 million bone$. From what I can deduce based on the trailer it is about McConaughey as a crazy bachelor with his shirt off being chased by a hot lady. It's good to see as an actor he continually takes on challenging roles. Seriously, I'm not asking for Daniel Day-Lewis or anything, but how can he shamlessly re-do the same bullshit over and over again. For some reason today this all came out of me in an enraged monologue and I thought I should make an abridged version in this list. So here it is, 10 Things I Hate About Matthew McConaughey.
1. The last name McConaughey (this didn't particularly bother me until I began writing this and released it's hard as hell to spell and I had to keep looking it up, which has taken me a long time to write this list.)
2. He is always shirtless
3. He is always wet
4. He is always smiling
5. He is always shirtless, wet, and smiling
6. He turns on overweight women over 45, which then leads to them making innuendos that involve food and licking their lips. Horrifying
7. His forays into serious roles that end up more comical than shit like
Fools Gold (ie. Two For the Money)
8. He doesn't wear deodorant (which makes number 2 and 3 seem alot worse)
9. He is afraid of revolving doors (yes, like a dog. No word on if he is afraid of the vaccum)
10. His life motto is "Just Keep Living" (this sounds like a line from Joe Dirt, except he is serious)
There it is, the ten things I hate about Matthew McConaughey. In 20 years I will probably visit this list again, because he is having a kid. Yep, another generation of one dimensional rednecks, probably named Bud Wyser because "hey I love my son almost as much as I love a nice brew in the sun, with my shirt off."

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Record Review: Idiot Pilot "Wolves"

In 1983, Scarface was just hitting screens across the U.S. With Brian De Palma, Al Pacino, and a plot about a ruthless gangster had the elements of another De Palma hit, Robert Loggia didn’t hurt either. A funny thing happened when the film debuted, people hated it. Not just critics, actors (reportedly Dustin Hoffman fell asleep and Lucille Ball walked out), authors (Vonnegut walked out in disgust), and of course audiences, De Palma fans no less. Today, Idiot Pilot is experiencing the same kind of let down that plagued De Palma 25 years later with the release of Wolves.

The duo of Michael Harris and Daniel Anderson first popped up on the industry radar after recording their debut Strange We Should Meet Here in Anderson's bedroom on pirated software 4 years ago. After gaining airplay around the Seattle area a bidding war ensued that eventually landed them on Warner’s Reprise imprint giving the band a nation wide re-release. Strange We Should Meet Here showed promise on tracks “Spark Plug” and “A Day in the Life of a Poolshark,” while still maintaining a sense of the rawness that two teenagers will produce as they are developing a sound. Strange We Should Meet Here was Idiot Pilot’s Carrie, inspired and overachieving with a raw sensibility that didn’t sell out theaters but got people’s attention, not to mention the way many songs change pace on a dime and break into a frenetic rage like Carrie after she is dowsed in pig’s blood.

Idiot Pilot's sophomore effort Wolves is bigger and bolder than Strange We Should Meet Here. The duo of Anderson and Harris have taken advantage of major label funding as Wolves gleams with high production quality and fuller percussion. Idiot Pilot has also taken some chances with Wolves by adding a more traditional percussion sound in favor of programmed beats on many songs. Specifically, "Elephant" and "Planted in the Dark" incorporate aspects of post-hardcore with punching guitar, bass, and drum sound. While "Cruel World Enterprise" invokes the strongest elements of Idiot Pilot's earlier work, electronic programming and Thom Yorkeesque vocals, "Theme from the Pit" is heavily influenced by Sunny Day Real Estate. With so many different influences at work on Wolves Idiot Pilot still has the ability to crank out an ear shattering break down as homicidal as Hector in Scarface when he dismembers Angel with a chainsaw.

Much like Scarface the initial reviews of Wolves are not glowing. Kevin Kostelnik of referred to Wolves as overcomplicated with overworked choruses. Fan reaction hasn't been much kinder, as one forum post stated that if they were Reprise, the bands label, they would have axed the record. The ambition and complexity of Wolves may not satisfy the masses of today it has the potential to be a classic ahead of its time. Today Scarface is revered as a classic with a place in nearly every rappers film collection, and it seems strange to think that Godfather Vonnegut walked out. Let's hope in 25 years Wolves will pop up in every other episode of MTV's Cribs.

Wolfe in Jornalists Clothing

Super Happy Fun Time Tuesday has come and gone. And the biggest winner of the night? Wolfe Blitzer's mom. With such a hyped up election year, a wide open race, and 5 major party candidates still in the field Wolfe Blitzer and his "awkward" situation room are having their biggest wet dream since Anna Nicole died. For some reason it's hard to tell the difference. As Blitzer brings in such astounding political minds as Bill Bennett and the like, I'm left trying to decipher if Hillary Clinton's consistent crying before major primaries are genuine or if they are just to manipulate and grab votes, much like speculating if Howard K. Stern's love was real or if it was just to manipulate and grab money. At what point did Wolfe Blitzer become Pat O'Brien? Well except for the whole drunk dialing thing. As the night progresses and the analysts "analyze" the results from each state, the term horse race continues to be used. This term was generally used in the past to decry the coverage of political elections in the manner that puts emphasis on candidates crying and if one white conservative millionaire will be able to take some of the momentum from another white conservative millionaire. Now cable news has pulled it into their lexicon of cliches with the likes of "comeback kid," "maverick conservative," "Kennedyesque' and "Reganesque." On the other hand, you have to hand it to Fox News for using the term horse race on a limited basis. Instead, they have played to their base with ads of stock cars zooming around a track with different candidates names on them with a graphic and voice over that says the race is on. And we all know that in the realm of cliches that horse race is the "Cliche of Kings," while any reference to NASCAR is the "Cliche of Guys-Who-Listen-to-Rush Limbaugh-for-the-News-While-Sitting-In-Their-Trailer-Eating-Stagg-Chili-Out-
of-the-Can." Wolfe Blitzer as a journalist should be aware of the cliches and avoid their use in reporting on politics, but he embraces them and helps turn the electoral process into American Idol, unfortunately this years Clay Aiken (John Edwards) has dropped out, making news another form of reality television. But what should we expect from a guy that shares his name with a meat head from American Gladitors? As if the redundancy and cliches weren't enough CNN has been trying their hardest to make the broadcast resemble an HP commercial sans Jay-Z, Shaun White, and Jerry Seinfeld. However, in their desire to not be out done by the other news channels CNN has rolled out this technology before all of the kinks have been worked out. This often leaves Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, or old sloppily dressed former fill in the blank strategist repeatedly touching a screen to no avail and looking like my nanny trying to figure out how to use the VCR. Yet, despite all of this CNN has become a rating juggernaut on election night with 3.29 million viewers during the New Hampshire Primary. That bested Fox News who are the highest rated cable news network. When ratings are high the network will keep going to the well and gives us endless hours of Wolfe and his pack, making Ma Blitzer very proud.