The funniest thing I read all week .... a few months ago.

[cleaning out my bookmark list yet again.]

I was really into Oasis for about half of the autumn 1994 -- Mr. Westmoreland had died a while before, and without his drive I had meandered away from his music toward shoegazer rock [I'm always a soft touch for heavily overdriven electric 12-string guitar], Lenny Breau, Charlie Hunter Trio, Helmet, Norman Whitfield-era Motown -- in retrospect, it's obvious that I was seeking out a broad range of chordal-minded electric pop music. I think I had rejected the single-string, call-and-response of blues guitar music -- without the context, the living connection to the music's history that Westmoreland literally embodied, I was just another middle-class honky blaring minor-pentatonic cliches through a reissued Fender amp. I was never disciplined enough to be a trainspotter bluesman like an Eric Clapton or a Gary Moore -- this Top 10 Solos list reminded me of a joke from my guitar-magazine days:

Q: Why would you put one of Clapton's classic solos on a Top-10 Solos list?
A: You don't have enough slots to include ones from Albert, B.B. and Freddie King.

Still funny, still true. The key thing that makes trainspotter blues so wretched is how it reduced the blues guitar solo to an abstract, souless exercise -- 12-bar gunslinger who wheedlie-wheedlie-wheedlies not to entertain the crowd but to simply play faster and louder than the other guy. I'm uncomfortable citing CROSSROADS here, but the only thing keeping Steve Vai's character in the movie from being the perfect sketch of this kind of postmodern minstrel act is that Vai doesn't play trademark blues phrases [Albert's deep bends, B.B's blue sixths, the "Dust My Broom" slide, etc.] at Mach Three.

Besides playing either nonexistent or terrible rhythm guitar -- the R of R&B, remember -- another giveaway for trainspotter blues is the absence of any other instrumentation that could compete with the guitarist and his wondrous fucking solos. I'd like to think that there was a blues power trio that wasn't led by a douchebag, but history hasn't been very forthcoming with me so far. Except when brute finances stood in the way, all of the classic [read: black] blues guitarists recorded and toured with keyboard and horn players. All of them. It's telling that John Mayall got a massive torrent of shit from his peers and fans when he started adding horns to the Bluesbreakers; not even Mick Taylor's gooey legato wheedlie-wheedlie-wheedlie could make such a craven move toward JAZZ palatable to them. And it's also telling that the only '60s British blues guitarist worth a bucket of dimes, Peter Green, was always eager to add more instruments to his music; a second guitarist [Jeremy Spencer almost never actually performed with Green] on stage and lots of keys, horns and strings on the records. Now, Jimi Hendrix was not a douchebag, but the Experience was a power trio -- but, the Experience was a band put together for Hendrix by his management. As soon as he got some juice and a chance to do more than record, tour, promote and occasionally wipe his ass, the first band he put together himself was a huge ensemble; the band that played Woodstock that had some fruity name I'm too lazy to look up right now. I've heard that the combination of managerial pressure and some truly untogether shows convinced Hendrix to pare the lineup down to a power trio, but the Band of Gypsies was a power trio with two leaders [Buddy Miles' rep simply hasn't aged well] and they played an elemental form of soul music that's ideal for a drums/bass/guitar band. To a much lesser extent, Stevie Ray Vaughan was similar; eager to add a piano/organ player to Double Trouble once the money was there. I'm too fond of SRV to call him a trainspotter; he always seemed a genuine [albeit an unquestioning] hero-worshipper, quick to cite and champion his influences and share the wealth whenever he could. He was also an accomplished and enthusiastic rhythm guitarist, which helps forgive his often-mimeographic cover versions and "Name That Albert King Single" fills.

Wait, wasn't I going to talk about Oasis? Fucklings. OK, so I really liked them for a while after DEFINITELY MAYBE came out because I was into rhythm guitar-driven pop music at the time. I liked MORNING GLORY OK when it was released but I had moved on long before BE HERE NOW dropped; much like how Clapton seemed more into his idea of what a Chicago bluesman's life was like when he recorded a song that Clapton could recite by rote than what the reality of life was for a black man in Jim Crow America, I think I lost interest in Oasis after the second or third Gallagher interview I read where it was obvious they were self-consciously interested in what a rock & roll lifestyle was instead of what their lives should be now that they had become rock stars. I also caught enough of their UNPLUGGED show to realize that Noel was a far better singer than his brother, and lost even more interest in the band outside of the occasional bootleg of Noel's demos.

Anyway, by checking out early, it seems that I missed out some classic rock 'n' roll schadenfreude first-hand:

In the 2003 John Dower-directed documentary Live Forever: The Rise and Fall of Brit Pop, music critic Jon Savage pinpointed Be Here Now as the moment where the Britpop movement ended.

Holy shit, an album so bad it derailed other bands' careers! I could have sworn that the Wiki page cited some of the lesser-known bands that were dropped from the major labels in the wake of BE HERE NOW's bellyflop, and it's been so long since I saw LIVE FOREVER that I've forgotten everything about the film except that Noel Gallagher and Jarvis Cocker give the best pop-musician interviews of my generation. But again, holy shit -- how would you like to have your career ended by someone else's cocaine-addled vanity project? Oy.

"The US has around 300 million residents, so we guesstimate there are 0 'Milos George's."

So, apparently there are seven Milo Georges in the world. With a 50/50 split of consonants and vowels in my name, only 2.2% of names have a higher vowel make-up, making me "extremely well envoweled." "George" has Greek origins, meaning a husbandman, a farmer, from Tewpyde. [Curiously, they don't know what the source for Milo is; it's Greek too, duh.*]

"Your 'Numerology' number is 7. If it wasn't bulls**t, it would mean that you are spiritual, eccentric, and a bit of a loner. Introspective and analytical, you think deeply and prefer seclusion."

I totally don't see myself like that at all whatsoever.

[* biologically, I'm probably not Greek. ]

The 1164th step on the last road home.

still trying to get the home computer rig back up to speed

I found this transcript of possibly the greatest thing a local Gannett newspaper has ever published: a letter of comment that time forgot. Enjoy.

Night clubs are centers of exploitation

Night clubs have emerged as multi-faceted exploitative centers. They are supposed to be a place to sell wine and beer, but many clubs force the members to prolong their stay through the attraction of music and mixed-dancing features.

In the process of enjoying the intoxicated mob, girls become the victims of the body-contact dancing; as a result, some "night hawks" who are not drunk take the opportunity to explore the private dignities of the girls.

Some sex scavengers regularly come to such places in the middle of the night knowing their victims are already drunk and susceptible. Many "night hawks" have life-threatening diseases. Where are the parents and the guardians of family values? Where is morality? Where are the law and order that are supposed to protect the public health?

Are the club owners screening their customers well, or they are allowing innocent lives to be endangered out of greed?

Hemant Tandi


I share it here because there just has to be a Great American Novel in there somewhere.

The 1161st step on the last road home.

Message in a bottle, gormet edition

I've written often about my hatred of Wendys fast food -- today, I received proof that their burgers smell almost indentical to a 9 year-old's vomit. Said vomit came from a barely-chewed pasta (I could have literally swept the elbows back into a bowl and the only giveaway that they were pre-eaten was the acrid reek of bile), not Wendys food. I would assume that vomiting food that shitty would cause death, if only due to embarrassment over people knowing you intentionally ate non-food like a moron.

(sent via Treo on Aug 27, 5:45pm)

The 1157th step on the last road home.

Poli-literate message in a bottle

I didn't get all the details on the SHOCKING poll/report about how much conservatives and liberals read, but it seems to me the self-evident truth isn't that liberals read more, it's that people who read are more liberal. Light a candle, toss a rose, all that crap.

CNN had on two C-list GOP and GOP-lite shills to discuss the findings for what seemed like two hours. I have a harder and harder time remembering that CNN was once above contempt.

(sent from the gym, Weds. August 22 2007, 4:25pm)

Message In A Bottle .... At The Movies

Having seen both twice in less than 24 hours, I've realized that
GHOSTBUSTERS 2 is actually better than the first movie. They're
essentially the same movie -- the guys barely have a pot to piss in at
the first act; their fortunes, the movie's action and special effects
build in the second act leading up to the climax [admittedly the
Stay-Puft marshmallow man is more exciting a mindfuck than the Statue
of Liberty] that hinges on Dana Barrett's paranormal misfortunes --
but GB2 has several unique things going for it:

1. The Environmental Protection Agency isn't the most unlikable
villain this time. How very, very Reagan Era.

2. Annie Potts gets to destroy all character actresses with her
adorableness this time.

3. Winston is fleshed out to do more than carry props, drive the
Ecto-Mobile and/or listen to Murray, Ackroyd or Ramis talk this time.
His scene in the ghost train tunnel is the best haunted-house comedy
set piece in the last 50-odd years. Not a particularly crowded field,
but one that has prime Buster Keaton, Our Gang and Abbott & Costello
for comparison.

4. There are several dozen fewer lines of Ackroydian technobabble; the
filmmakers don't [have to] try to convince the audience that there's
some grounding in reality for what the characters are doing this time.
If you asked a fan of the movies to run down the science the movies
are built on, I doubt you'd get more than "Don't cross the streams"
but that's all you need to know, really.

5. Rick Moranis isn't used as much as he could have -- there's no
bravura one-take improvisation like the first movie's party scene --
but fuck it, the Janine and Louis babysitting scenes fire all of my
neurons at once. [See #2] I also like that the "Dana's pathetic
wannabe suitor" and ""unwitting and annoying human antagonist" roles
were condensed into one; Janosz is a fine mix of funny, sad and
menacing, all in ways that Louis and Walter Peck just can't match.

6. In general, I like the dopey Hal Roach-y feel of the second -- like
the ghost-train scene, and little low-rent dramatic bits like the
deadbolt on the team's darkroom being outside the room, not inside.
[It makes no sense for a darkroom, but perfect sense for a room that a
Carpathian's ghost will set a few sheets of paper on fire inside.]

7. No cameos from Joe Franklin, Larry King or Casey Kasem this time.
And thankfully, no Morton Downey Jr. cameo.

8. The pop music is dated and cheesy, but the brute chronology makes
GB2 five years less dated than GB1, while its Jackie Wilson component
went up 300% this time.

9. No Huey Lewis lawsuit or deeply flawed Bill Murray dramatic vehicle
were spawned this time. Speaking of which,

10. I don't know if THE RAZOR'S EDGE is what caused it, but there's a
substantial shift in Murray's approach to character shortly after that
film. In GHOST BUSTERS, Murray plays Murray playing Venkman -- there's
always an editorial-like remove in his stage presence [I like him far
too much to use the word "smug" here] that signals to the audience
that he knows what he's doing is stupid. Anyway, the Venkman Murray
plays in GB2 has the depth needed to serve his part of the plot;
unlike the unchangeable creep in the first movie -- I've read that the
"I'm gonna fix this problem for you" scene in Barrett's apartment is
supposed to be the catalyst for Venkman's character arc [the moment
where he goes from being a shiftless jerk to an engaged driving force]
but I just don't buy it from Murray. He's hilarious, but his spiel
comes off as him telling this hot chick whatever she wants to hear in
the hopes that she puts out over it. The other giveaway for Murray's
lack of commitment in GB1 comes near the end, when they've destroyed
Gozer but think that Dana is dead. There's an absurdly brief close-up
of Venkman coming to terms with this loss, and the camera's mental
Geiger counter registers .... well, "Whoa. Bummer" at least. Even
then, Murray was great at movie-closeup acting -- blank out your mind
and let your face be recorded -- so this lack of meaning is probably
more director Ivan Reitman's fault than Murray's. But when Dana's hand
pokes through the demon's husk, Venkman walks over to it with about a
tenth of the excitement and determination he showed when she showed up
at his office for the first time. Even for a big-budget Hollywood
comedy, that's fucked up. Anyway, I think Murray's funnier in GB2 even
[especially] when the lines aren't as funny as the original. And
Venkman behaves and reacts like a recognizable human being this time.

11. Peter MacNicol! Kevin Dunn! Brian Doyle-Murray! David Margulies!
Cheech Marin! Harris Yulin! Ben Stein! Philip Baker Hall! Kurt Fuller!
Aaron Lustig! Michael P. Moran! It's like you died and went to
character-actor heaven this time.

12. I could go on, but holy fucking shit have I really thought this
much about GHOSTBUSTERS 2? For all I know, I started with the shots of
Annie Potts' cuteness and backed my way into a case for the movie
being far better than it gets credit for.

[Sent from the Treo: Friday August 17, 2007, 11:29pm]

The 1151st step on the last road home.

The 1142nd step on the last road home.

I've had the kind of long, shitty day

when this is the fucking funniest thing I've ever seen, even though I know it would barely make the Top One Million Funniest Things I've seen. [It would rank high on the Top Ten Things To Compel Nervous Laughter, however.] But that's the kind of day I've had. I suspect that even on a really good day, the idea of bidding on a sculpture of someone's dead baby on eBay would still be somewhat funny, at least if you got outbid at the last minute. I mean, show some respect for your fellow human, y'know? Nobody just happens across an auction at literally the last minute.