Monday, April 30, 2007

The Lost Art and Practical Science of Letter Writing

I woke up today and Leah gave me a bunch of stamps, stationary, and envelopes. I guess the price of stamps is going up (again) and she wanted to use these "Love" stamps (that she was intending on using for our wedding invites) before we had to go out and buy 1-cent stamps. Go figure...anyway, I sat in my Modern American Fiction class and wrote my sisters letters (kids like getting mail...hell, I like getting mail). My buddy Paul asked me what I was doing, and after I told him I expected him to laugh at me (which he did) but then he asked me to write him a letter. So I told him I would and he gave me his address.

People are funny like that.

Anyway, I still have some stamps left over--so if you'd like to get a letter, shoot me an email with your mailing address. Who knows, I may even draw you a picture.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Softball

So Leah joined a Jewish softball league a while back. Today, I went to the team's second practice. It was pretty funny. Not that they were bad, just that it was funny watching Leah run around. She needs some work on her hitting (as you'll see in the video) but she is already pretty good at catching and throwing. Anyway, I sat and read my book CEREMONY for Modern American Fiction. This week is our LAST WEEK OF CLASS! And we're all really excited. Summer here we come!

Some photos from the day's practice:












Friday, April 27, 2007

Naked Video Blog/Bird "Watching" With Leah

Just got out of the shower...don't worry, I kept it G-rated:



And from earlier this week:

Notes on "Last Blast" and Why I Couldn't Make Movies

I emailed another (I think pretty good) story to David. It's called "Last Blast" and if you remember me talking about it (while I was working on it) it's about juvenile delinquents. Basically, what happened was--I Paperbackswap-ed a bunch of old S.E. Hinton books. I love Hinton's book THE OUTSIDERS (if you haven't read it, please do kids, it's a great book). Hinton wrote a bunch of books about troubled youths, all of them are good...but her first (The OUTSIDERS) is the best. I'm not sure what's more amazing, the fact that Hinton is a woman (who renders very believable male characters) or that she wrote the book before leaving High School. I'm not saying women can't write male characters...but Hinton chooses to write mainly about them so often. And never once did I think Hinton was a chick. She knows the male mind THAT well. Okay, so now that you all think I'm a sexist...

Anyway, "Last Blast" is sort of my 'homage' to her. What can I say? I used to shy away from that sort of thing, but frankly there is nothing original under the sun--so what the hell, why not? I can't remember if I gave a date for the story...but you should note David, it does NOT take place in the modern world. The term "gang" in the story is misused by the characters (they're really just a group of friends) but even in the realm of my story...gang does not equal what it does today. This, my friends, is a problem I have. You see, I have read sections of "Last Blast" but I haven't read ALL of it. I know, I know...I need to read what I write. And before I submitted "Death for Breakfast" I read it and made corrections. But for some reason I hate reading my own work. Even when I get things "right" I'm still embarrassed.

A lot of actors are that way, too. Some people can watch themselves on the big screen...others can't. I could not. I think that's why I NEVER want to be a filmmaker. The kind of movies I'd make I'd rather SEE than make. If I made them, to me they wouldn't exist because I couldn't really enjoy them. They'd be this thing I did. I like telling stories, the kind I'd read myself, but I get no pleasure out of reading what I create. All I see are the problems and what should have been. "I should have done this" or "I wanted this to be stronger, but it turned out this way...it works better as it stands, but I wanted it this way..." that sort of thing. I'm glad the world is full of filmmakers, a few make the kinds of movies I like. That's good because I couldn't fill the void if they weren't there. I guess I'm too big a movie fan. Also, I am a control freak...and I don't think I could work on something that (creative) that was that big. I'd micromanage the whole set. When you're writing, you get to be be director, producer, hell...you even have your "actors" doing and saying everything just the way you want them to (no complaints). Like moving little action figures around a stage in my head.

Anyway, I'm interested in hearing what David has to think about "Last Blast." Be cruel, in the kindest way possible.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Awesome Rokk Vol. 1

Instead of going to bed, like a normal person...I stayed up and made a CD for my car. Here's what I wanted: a CD that would blow me away and/or kick my ass from now on whenever I get into my car.


Here's the track list:

1. Eruption-Van Halen
2. Monsters-Matchbook Romance
3. Joker & The Thief-Wolfmother
4. TV Tan-The Wildhearts
5. Ride-The Vines
6. Sweet Child O'Mine-Guns N'Roses
7. Roses for the Dead-Funeral For A Friend
8. The Hardest Button to Button-The White Stripes
9. You Fucking Love It-Dirty Pretty Things
10. My Idea of Fun-The Stooges
11. Thunderhorse-Deathlok
12. No Way Back-Foo Fighters
13. Postcards from Hell-American Heartbreark
14. New Thing Baby-The Shazam
15. Worlds Apart-...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead

I know what you're thinking, "But Jason, where is the AC/DC?" Good question, damn good question. Well I left my copy of BACK IN BLACK back in KC...so I had to make due without. Oh, and by the way, I know what you're thinking...and Yes Leah...tonight, tonight....

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"Romantic Rights" by DEATH FROM ABOVE 1979

Holy shit I'm going to buy this CD tomorrow:



That's a bass and a drum...sweet

Mid-week Slump

Well here it is, Wednesday night. Just got back from my Spanish class (la clase de espanol es muy aburrido). I have my last two papers due tomorrow...I finished editing them today. Which means, that's it! Next week is the last week of class, the following week is finals. Ugh. I'm not looking forward to moving out or going home. I'll miss Leah, UMSL, St. Louis, and my friends (all 2 of you).

Speaking of which, Jimu gave me back a heavily edited copy of "Sea Change" today. That made me very happy (thank you David). I've flipped through it and you did a bang up job. You caught my flubs and fuck-ups...but more importantly you gave me a bunch of stuff to think about. I like that. I've taken three creative writing classes and by far you are the best editor I've ever had. I've got another one lined up for you ("Last Blast" my tale about a gang of punks...out for one last night of trouble). On the writing front, I know I said I'd been sending off "Death for Breakfast" this past weekend, but I lied. I plum forgot and even if I had remembered-I ran out of money (so I couldn't have paid the postage anyway). But I am going to try and get my ass in gear with that little project soon.

Tomorrow me and Leah are going to go and see the movie HOT FUZZ, which if you don't know is a British action/comedy by the guys who did SHAUN OF THE DEAD (which is the funniest horror movie...ever (yes even funnier than ARMY OF DARKNESS, which is pretty damn funny). That should be fun. I guess I'm going to see Reel Big Fish (or is it Real Big Fish?) over at Wash. U on Friday (that's if Leah finds out how we can crash that little shin-dig). Other than that, my weekend is pretty much still up in the air. Today, when I was walking to class in the quad I got all sad...I slowed down and tried to soak it all in. I know that in a month I'll be yearning for these days. The leisure, the non-crappy Security-guardness of it all. Sigh.

Also, I'd like to give a big F-YOU to Sirius Satellite Radio for dropping Podshow--and the coolest podcast ever The Rock and Roll Geekshow. Long live rock.

Monday, April 23, 2007

My Cafeteria

Well folks, the end of my second school year is nearly upon me. I have ONE semester left, and then I am done with college (for now). It's going to be strange for Fall to show up and not need books/pencils. Anyway, my dorm days ARE coming to an end (three weeks). I can't say that I loved every minute of it, but I am glad that I got a chance to have this experience. With that said, there is one thing I will not miss and that is the food here! Our cafeteria serves decent food (don't get me started on the help).


Jason "enjoys" a roasted potato at the Nosh



Leah munches a chicken wrap...and makes a bird face

But to be honest, the place I find myself eating at the most isn't "The Nosh" as it's called (seriously, that's the name of the cafeteria), but rather St. Louis Bread Company (or BreadCo as it's called out here). You may know it as Panera. That's what it's called everywhere else. I've been to Panera in KC and let me tell you...there isn't much difference. If they didn't force us dorm dwellers to buy meal plans (which is lame) I would have just spent my loan money on BreadCo giftcards. Breakfast, lunch, dinner....BreadCo is great (long as you aren't on Atkins, I guess).

Yesterday, me and Leah were having lunch and I pondered about the origins of BreadCo. Well folks, thanks to the Internet my questions have all been answered. Just hop on this link to Wiki and read away: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panera_Bread

For Leah: 1987 is when it started, the company "went corporate" in 1993. It's local...but in a corporate sort of way (as in, it's the same menu everywhere you go...but it was started here in St. Louis).

This post may seem like an ad for BreadCo, but I can't help it. From now on, whenever I think of BreadCo I think of college (and all those memories). I think it's strange, the things we associate with one another. Also, as I write this I'm really hungry...so that probably has a lot to do with it too.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Internet and Literature

Today I finished writing my last paper for Modern American Fiction. I chose to write about mass media in Richard Wright's Native Son and Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49. Both were written in a time when new technologies allowed people to communicate on a stage larger than any of time before. Native Son was written in the 1940's and follows the character Bigger Thomas. A black man who, because of societal forces ends up committing several murderous acts. Thomas goes on the lamb and becomes obsessed with how he is being portrayed in the newspapers. The news media becomes a larger plot device when Thomas is updated on the status of the police's street-by-street search by reading the daily paper.

Now, as a modern reader, I wasn't really shocked by the notion that a killer would relish his "celebrity" status (created by the news media). Nor was I shocked by how Thomas was able to use what was reported to stay one step ahead of the police. Then I thought about when Native Son was written...and I became dumbstruck. The celebrity "cult" that we live in today was depicted accurately...decades before MTV and CNN. What's more, the idea that criminals could benefit from the coverage/interest in their crimes was also far ahead of it's time.

What does this tell us? For me, it says that people...no matter what the time period, are pretty much the same. Sure, there are some differences--but generally I don't think there is much difference between the average guy in 1940 and 2007. What has changed, however, is the technology that surrounds the average guy.

This brings me to the conversation I had with Leah in the car (on the way to Kohl's). Basically, I was telling her about my paper, and how the media was portrayed back in the 40's...and how similar it is to today--and I got to thinking. Wright wrote about complex social issues, Native Son is about racism more than it is the media...and yet, the newspapers play a vital role to the plot of the novel. Newspapers existed long before the 1940's, and yet it wasn't until the North American continent was "conquered" and covered with railroads (and other types of speedy transit) before they took such a central role in American life. As soon as the infrastructure was laid, newspapers flourished and became important not just as a source of valuable information (news) but also entertainment. Wright included this new media culture into his novel, he made it work for his plot...and at the same time was able to comment on the social aspect of print media.

Pynchon did the same thing (sorta) in The Crying of Lot 49. This time, though, Pynchon's 1963 novel focused not on the printed word--but the radio and that new wonder, television. Like Richard Wright, Thomas Pynchon included social commentary on a new form of media in his novel. Pynchon's novel deals with television and radio to take a few shots at something new that was occurring in the world (the formation of mass media as we know it today).

Where am I going with this? Well as we talked, I thought about the "digital age" we are now living in. Leah and I talked about getting on the net for the first time, and I realized how quickly all this has come about. Six months ago, I was pretty much non-existent on the web. Now...I know I'm not Matt Drudge or anything...but if you Google "Jawman" you're going to come up all sorts of interesting things related to me. Videos, blog entries, etc. This wasn't the case two years ago.

The question that I arrived at was: when will storytelling catch up with technology? What I mean is, when is someone going to write a novel that depends on the Internet. Let me explain. Native Son needs newspapers to function. You can't remove the word "newspaper" and insert a previous technology. Now, I point this out because I'm not stupid...I know there are countless stories out there that feature the Internet. But consider this popular example: YOU GOT MAIL (remember that film? With Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan). That was a REMAKE of a movie from the 30's or 40's!!! I must confess that I've only seen pieces of it, but THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER isn't Sci-Fi (there was no Internet), instead the two lovers-to-be wrote each other letters. This is what I'm talking about. When will a story be told that actually uses the Internet and this digital age as more than modern dressing?

I'm sure some of you, especially those that read modern Science Fiction can name of countless hacker-type novels about computer people...and I guess that counts. But for some reason that just doesn't cut it for me. There's something--I don't know what exactly, that seems to be missing. Call it an "X Factor." Wright and Pynchon's novels told a good story (with an important social commentary) while at the same time also examined new trends in mass media. And I just don't think anyone today has hit upon that formula--done that job when it comes to the Internet. Perhaps it's because the Internet is still fairly new. After all, Pynchon and Wright's novels feature new...but not BRAND NEW forms of media. So for now, the culture of the Internet seems to be unrepresented in the realm of literature.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Of Toni Morrison and Super Mario

So as you can see, the video blog didn't materialize this past week. I got distracted by my XBOX and I had a paper to write. Plus, all I had to talk about was the school shooting...and it was really depressing, so I dragged my feet. I'm sure the world will be fine without a rambling video blog (this week).

I read a really good book this week by Toni Morrison, THE BLUEST EYE, it was called. Read it for my Modern American Fiction class. Never would have read it in a million years had I not been forced. Looks like "chick lit." To make matters worse, Oprah has her name on it. I know, this is the second time one of her girly-girl books has turned out to be really worthwhile, but my brain can't remove the stigma of the Oprah "book club." I'm a snob, I guess. Anyway, it was good...and I know that the 2 people who read this blog don't read books...but if you ever wake up and want to read something you should pick up THE BLUEST EYE. Very good. Like THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD, it's about more than just white/black and male/female dynamics. It's a very human story. Tragic, but nonetheless very good.

I ditched the dorms this weekend, in favor of Leah's house. We've been playing lazy college students all weekend. Watching DVD's and playing "Super Paper Mario" for the Wii (which Leah bought on Friday). The game is awesome, by the way. A mixture of 2-D and 3-D side scrolling. Old school gamers should love it (I do). I'm about 9 hours into it and it's a hoot. Mario goes to this crazy flat world...and teams up with Bowser! I know right? I love it when a bad guy gets to be "the good guy." The more time I spend with the Wii, the more I think it's the best system on the market right now. Sure, the games aren't the best graphically...but I'm having FUN. Remember fun? Gears of War is pretty...and sure, there have been a few moments...but nothing like what's on the Wii. Guitar Hero 2 is about the only non-Wii game that I'm super-involved with right now. If you think it's just kid stuff on Nintendo's new system, you're right...but kids stuff is ALWAYS more fun than adult stuff. Hands down.

I've seen a crap load of movies too. We switched to Blockbuster's internet movie service (I forget the name) and it's allowed us to rent a TON of movies (unlike Netflixs, you can change out your movies at the store...for free, thus every movie they mail you is really 2 movies). This weekend I saw:

CHINATOWN, MY SUPER EX-GIRLFRIEND, CHILDREN OF MEN,CHOCOLAT, BLOOD DIAMOND. And tonight we have SHOPGIRL and THE BREAKUP. So many movies, so little time. Still haven't seen HOT FUZZ, which makes me sad (in a way) but me and Leah got burned out on Thursday (two movies in 4 hours was a bit much). It was fun, though. Maybe this week? (that's if we can get caught up on all the stuff we're supposed to be doing but aren't doing this weekend).

For some reason, my sleep pattern is all messed up. I wake up around 9:30-10:00 like I normally do...but I stay up till like 4:00AM. I'm not even aware of how late it is anymore. I freaked my parents (and my sister) out last night/morning--I called my sister Amber but didn't leave her a message (she didn't pick up). It was about 1:30. I woke up today hearing Leah talking to my folks, they were all worried because I don't normally call them so late. I didn't know it was late. One minute, Leah said she was going to bed, the next I look up from Mario and see that it's 4:30. Oh, "gee, I guess I should try and go to sleep" is all I can think. Next day, I wake up like nothings wrong. Weird.

Tomorrow is a homework day. Yay.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Movie(S) Night

Tonight was an interesting night. It started around 4:30 this afternoon after I completed my first two songs on the "Hard" setting on Guitar Hero. This is of little interest I understand, but very important to me. Anyway, I took Leah home where the used Wolfmother CD was waiting for us (God bless Amazon.com). In case you don't know, Wolfmother is this great new rock band...this album is the second CD Guitar Hero has forced me to purchase (I bought Dick Dale's Greatest Hits last night with my Easter Present--a Borders Gift card...thanks mom). We started rocking out to "Woman" (which is an awesome track) when Leah's phone rang (actually I think it was on the second or third listen when her phone rang...or maybe her phone rang BEFORE we got to her house...I'll be honest, it's 12:00 in the morning and I don't remember my order of events so well). Long story short, her best friend (that's not me) Becky called. Becky is moving to the other side of the state, to my old home (Kansas City) because of a job transfer. SO, tonight was the last night she could really hang out with us (for a while). Me and Leah had plans (Leah forgot that she told Becky she would hang out with her, or something) but we changed them because we like Becky and will miss her.

Me and Leah had to get dinner first, though. We played the usual tug-of-war (with me just saying over and over "Pick something! Anything!" and Leah saying "I don't know!" like there's a wrong answer). We ended up at some Italian place, yuk. But on the plus side--it was one of those places where they let you color on the table! Me and Leah did some coloring, here are some of her pictures (I didn't save any of mine, because they sucked):





Then we went and killed some time at another Borders. I decided not to spend my remaining $12.32 because if I had we wouldn't have an excuse to visit Borders again at a later date (see! I'm always thinking). Then we met up with Becky and her friends (a girl named...??? shit, I always forget her name...anyway her friend Farmer was there....Jimu, we tried to call you but yer line was busy). We all piled into the AMC and saw BLADES OF GLORY. Which, by the way, was goofy as hell...but despite the slow-ish start...was actually pretty funny. I liked it enough. The trailers were all for Big Budget Sequels coming this summer (Pirates, Spidey, Ocean13, Shrek). God is Hollywood out of ideas. Then, using Jason-magic, I convinced the girls to stick around and see the AQUA TEEN HUNGER FORCE movie.

In case you don't know, ATHF is a TV show on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. It's about a box of fries, a ball of meat, and a shake. The show runs about 15 minutes and is hilarious because the show is about NOTHING! They do very little, the animation is crude, and the humor is weird. Translated to the big screen...meh, not so much funny. I didn't HATE it or anything, it was alright...but it was 1 hour and 27 minutes exactly--but it felt too long. There were laughs (go see it just for the part at the beginning, they have a song about not talking during the movie...it's brilliant) but they were few and far between. Still, it was faithful to the show in every way: the animation was cheap, the laughs were there, the plot was crazy, and the rest was so strange I can't believe it was made my human beings (it was, right?). David I know you want to see it, but unless you are BIG fan of the show...just wait for it to come out on DVD. Us poor folk need to save our money. For more important things, like SPIDERMAN 3. That movie looks sweet (and by sweet, I mean I'm sad to say that I have a subscription to Ultimate Spiderman and the movie looks about as good as a comic book movie could be). I throw that in there only because I'm tired of "living in the closet." I'm a (nearly) grown man and I read (some) comic books. Am I going to put that on a job application? Hell no. But here I will admit it. I'm not better than any of you, I'm just another slob/nerd who haunts the net. Boo!

We got back to my place, and once again I had to send Leah home. We tried to play the whole "let's try and sneak in" game...but alas, someone was watching and we were both too tired to do a very good job sneaking. Plus everyone and their mother was up (go figure) so we probably wouldn't have been able to pull it off. I hate that. The dorms here used to be cool, but now they suck. I used to complain, but I have three weeks to deal with it. And after what went down in Virginia earlier this week...something tells me this place needs to get HARDER to break into not easier. So who am I to complain? Speaking of which, I haven't really written much about the school shooting. As a college student (who lives at a campus) it really freaked me out. I think tomorrow/later today when I do my video blog I might just talk about that. But I can't really write much about it. The world just gets scarier and scarier and I'm getting to the point where I don't know if it's "going to be/all right." I want to believe it is, but damn if some people out there don't make it real hard for me.

It's really late...I'm tired...

See how tired I look?


Oh, there is one other thing. I told Leah to put on some "sensible" shoes tonight, because she was wearing these God Awful clodhoppers...with fat heels that made her feet hurt. These are what she put on:

Yes, those are zebra striped shoes. I think it's funny, because she's both proud and embarrassed by them. Have you heard the story behind the shoes? God told her to buy these shoes. Really. They were:

1. On Sale

2. Had her favorite pattern on them

and most importantly

3. They had one pair left and they were her size!

So scratch that mystery off your list, folks. There is a creator after all. Thanks Leah, oh and by the way..."cute shoes!"

Thursday, April 19, 2007

I Want a Dinosaur

Every since I was little I've loved dinosaurs. Growing up, I wanted to be a Paleontologist. Then, of course, I found out how much school was involved in that...and that being a Paleontologist was really dry, boring work. Still, if I could have anything in the world (no limits) I'd take a dinosaur.

Not even a really big one, either. I'd take a small, chicken sized Compsognathus.

So if anyone out there ever sees one, just walking around with no tags on...snag it for me, will ya?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Submission!

I came home today and did (most) of my homework...hey! it's still early after all. Then I cracked open my Writer's Market Guide and started looking for magazines that might, possibly, consider LOOKING at my stories. Ugh. I think I'd rather have my nails ripped off my fingers one-by-one (not really). If you've never looked at one of these books, imagine a phonebook-type book that lists different kinds of places you can send in your writing. All kinds of writing. Many of the entries are pretty vague..."We want science fiction and horror...but no swords and dragons...or gore...oh, and we want stories that deal with life on Earth." Huh-uh. Then there is my favorite "We seek literary fiction, for the college educated set." I see. Most encourage you to buy their magazine. This makes sense (after all, how can you know if you fiction's going to "fit in" unless you can see what makes it to print) but I'm too poor to buy these magazines. This reminds me of a scam me and my cousin Spencer once thought about doing. Make ONE issue of a magazine, but leave the date and issue number off. Then place ads online and various writer-ly locales and charge dupes "reading fees" (which by the way, I refuse to pay...again because I'm too poor). Needless to say, we never tried this scam, but I imagine there's a few who have/do.

I think I hate the term "literary" most of all. What the hell is that supposed to be? I've read all sorts of stuff in my literature classes over the years. For the most part, the only thing literary about this fiction is that it's being read in a literature class! I guess they want "serious" non-genre fiction. And there is my main problem...I don't really write in a specific genre. I get ideas, all across the board. I guess to be business savvy, one has to pick a genre. The idea sort of sickens me. I don't really read one type of genre, either. I stay away from Science Fiction and Horror (mostly), but some of my all time favorite books fall into these categories.

Anyway, I found a dozen or so I feel might give me the time of day. I'm going to revise the crap out of "Death For Breakfast" and "Sea Change" and send them off into the world. "Sea Change" is unprintable, I think, because of a device I used where the first few pages are...pedestrian? The idea being much like the transition from black and white into color like Wizard of Oz. Good idea, shitty way to get published (the mantra in fiction writing being "grab the reader by the balls from the first sentence). Speaking of which, David if you're reading this, get your brother to take that marked-up copy of "Sea Change" to school with him so I can get it.

I don't really fear rejection, or having people tell me I'm "no good." I can handle that, hell...I'd rather them say that about my writing than ME (which I've heard for a while now). I guess I feel like my stuff doesn't really fit in. Which is probably just the same as me thinking it isn't very good...so maybe I do fear the rejection. Who knows? I do know that this semester I got my first rejection slip and I felt great (oddly enough). Like I joined a brotherhood or something. I know that by the 1,000th rejection slip I won't feel the same way, but it felt good to finally be getting "out there." Spencer has been playing this game for years now, and I feel somewhat behind. By the way, he got published on a website recently, as soon as I find the URL again I'll post a link. That guy is my inspiration in a lot of ways. He takes a licking and keeps on plugging away at it.

I have a friend in a similar situation who I'm thinking about pushing into submitting. I'm the kind of person that likes to share my misery, so we might have a get together on Wednesday. A "postal party" if you will.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Competitive Nature of Men

Well I didn't win the Wednesday Club contest (again). Looks like I'll have one more crack at it next year...then I guess I'm going to have to give up.

Why is it that boys are so competitive?

Example:

Earlier this week my "friend" Sam was in the lunch room yucking it up about how I was playing Guitar Hero II on easy mode (he stared out on Hard). I got kinda piss off about this. For one thing, I had never played the game prior to buying it...so I sucked. Buy by the time he made this comment, I was already done with the Easy mode and was working on Medium.

Well, for two days I couldn't touch the thing. I felt like crap. Then I picked it up and me and Leah had a little competition of our own (who could get the best score on certain songs). This got me playing again. Today I played the hell out of it...and BEAT it on Medium (no easy task). After I kicked "Free Bird" in the ass, I went back and played the few songs I had left.

Why am I like this? Why will spend hours working on beating Leah's high score? Why do the games we play get deadly serious if I feel my manhood is threatened? I have no idea. The world is a competitive place...so I guess it's good I can compete (some can't). I've never taken anything "too far" (i.e. I've never punched anyone out...though I did throw a PS2 controller pretty far (thanks a lot GOD OF WAR 2).

Anyway, here is my video blog for this week:

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Imus Flap

Okay, I've been trying to avoid blogging about this...but I can resist no more. By now you know what happened. Here are my thoughts on the subject:

I'm not a big Imus "fan" but I have listened to my fair share of talk radio. For two years I worked the overnight shift (security) and all I did was listen to the radio (once 2AM hits, I can't read without sleeping). So I listened to them all: Rush, Savage, Imus, Hannity, Ingram, Dr. Laura...all those nuts. First off, I think that all of those people are fucking nuts. Every single one of them. Radio is such an strange medium...and I guess it attracts strange people. The best hosts are the ones who are the best at saying something crazy but still remaining "grounded." You're not supposed to agree with them 100% of the time. This was the mistake that George Woods made. He was a morning guy on 710AM in Kansas City a few years back. Woods was real down-to-earth and he told you how it was (or how he saw it). Poor George wasn't a Democrat or a Republican. He sided with whoever he felt was right. This made him very sensible (which is why I liked him) but he was also very boring. I hardly ever found myself shaking my head (or yelling) at my pocket radio. So, one morning, I was out in the "Shit Shack" (security booth) and his voice didn't come on at 5:00...he was gone. Replaced by an ape, with a low IQ, who took pleasure in saying controversial things JUST TO STIR UP SHIT.

What I'm trying to say is, I think "good" Talk radio hosts and "entertaining" radio hosts are two different things. Woods was a good host, but he wasn't very entertaining. So he got shit-canned.

Alright, on to Imus. I used to see his show on MSNBC before heading off to Junior College early in the mornings (all those years ago). The stupid cowboy hat and the bizarre hair (it looks like spider webs or white straw) captured my attention. Truly Imus was a man made for radio. His stone face, lazy drawl were pretty big turns offs...I guess I wasn't in his demographic, because I nearly always changed the channel. But what I saw wasn't all that insightful OR very funny. The biggest problem I had with Imus is that he tried to be both a "good" and an "entertaining" talk radio host. That's a fine line that I think is impossible to walk. A guy can't be crazy, shocking one minute and then try to be this serious newsman. It just don't work people.

Which brings me to the "Nappy headed ho's" comment. I've heard it, you've heard it. What did Imus do wrong? Well for one thing, the guy REALLY miscalculated if he thought that was funny. It's not. It's not ever remotely funny. Even in the team were all black (it's not) or filled with tough, thug-types (it's not)...the joke still falls flat because for starters--I know for a fact that an old man like Imus isn't walking around using the word "ho". No friends, this was Imus's pathetic attempt at trying to sound "hip" and "current." What is hip and current right now? Urban/rap culture (read: black culture). The black kids have always been cool and the lame ass white people have always been trying to be just like them. Look at Rock 'N Roll. Black people had something cool, so white people wanted in on it. It took a while, but now we're part of Rock 'N Roll. Same thing with Rap. White people are just now really getting a toe-hold in that (thus, it's starting to become uncool). Anyway, the popular thing right now is this urban/rap style. The whole thing: clothes, music, hair, tattoos, jewelery, car accessories...hell I've seen snack chips and sodas. Also in vogue is the urban/rap way of speech (both syntax and vocabulary). This is what Imus was trying to replicate on his show. To show that he was still hip on what was going on in the world. To show that he was "down." Unfortunately for Imus, the urban/rap slang is very offensive and hasn't really been fully been deemed "acceptable" for every one's everyday use (like "sucks" and "cool" are pretty much widely used and non-offensive). Is that fair? Hell no, who said life was fair! It's a fact of life, though and Imus should have known better. Black people (by the way, that's what I call them because they are "black" unless someone really recently immigrated to Africa, I don't use the term "African-American" because I don't really want to be called "German-Native American-British-Scottish-American") can use the word "nigger" and (most) white people can't. Same thing with "Nappy headed ho," I'm sure that's someones pet name...a term of affection/endearment. And for them, it's fine. But not for me and (probably) you...and certainly not for Imus.

I also have no doubt that Imus is a racist...or at least, harbors some ideas that would be considered "racist." And why shouldn't he? He's 66 years old. The guy was born into a totally different world. Now, does that excuse him? No, of course not...but I don't see why everyone is so shocked that an old (66 year old) white guy with a Southern drawl and a fucking cowboy hat is a little racist.

Apparently Imus is well know for his "colorful" description of minorities (read: anyone not an old, white male). I think it's crap that someone like Imus has been booted from his show because of the "ho's" remark (which was just stupid, and not really as offensive as some of the other remarks I've heard attributed to him). It feels like getting Capone of Tax Evasion. The dude killed people! And he's in jail for not forking over a little cash. Stupid.

Okay, so personally I think that Imus is a douche and should be off the air because he's:

1. Not funny

2. weird looking

3. says offensive stuff about minorities and women.

But what about free speech? Well Imus wasn't censored. He didn't have to apologize to those women (all ace students, one I hear is almost a lawyer...not exactly a "ho"). But he did because we live in a Capitalist society! Imus and his show were products...and the consumer didn't like his product. Advertisers didn't want to sponsor him anymore because it was in their best interest not to anymore. Same thing with CBS/MSNBC...his comments content are secondary to the larger issue--to the people that mattered (the audience), what he said was wrong and they made their feelings known. Is Imus ruined? Hardly, for one thing everyone knows who he is. People that already knew who he was have been reminded of him. I bet some brave (or broke) Satellite Radio company would love to add Imus to their programming. Right now he's the hottest thing in radio right now (as far as name recognition goes...with the possible exception of Stern...who might not be in the spotlight, but has made such a big name for himself for just this kind of thing).

If that doesn't work out then there is always Podcasting online. Hell, he could do his show from his ranch or wherever...at a fraction of the cost CBS probably paid. Plus, he could reach way more people online. So I wouldn't shed any tears for Mr. Imus. Something tells me he'll land on his feet alright.

So, in short: I don't think this is a "Freedom of Speech" issue at all. Imus isn't in any legal trouble. He tried to be funny and use hip slang that only black people can really get away with using...he pissed off plenty of people and the market forced him to lose his job. Don't like it? Deal with it baby, that's Capitalism. And thanks so the same system that booted him out, Imus will probably not have to worry about putting food on his table (like you or me if we suddenly woke up and found we didn't have jobs).

I also think Imus apologizing to Al Sharpton is ridiculous because, honestly, the only people who need an apology were those basketball players. True, his audience was probably "offended" but it was those women who were PERSONALLY attacked. Even if it was in jest, I think the man went too far.

What about the "Howard Stern" Argument? Well it's true, Stern says WAY worse shit than the "ho" comment...but Stern is not a "news" radio personality! He's a shock-jock that used to be on Rock stations. Now he's on his own thing...you have to pay for it, so it's like cable and as long as the checks come in he can say what he wants. Imus had politicians on his show, he should have run a better program. Instead, he tried to be "edgy" and failed in a big way. Is it fair that we hold him to a different standard because he has Senators on his show rather than Porno Stars? Yeah, it's unfair. But the fact is, Imus was more respected (and therefore held to a higher standard) than Stern. I'm sure he didn't mind rubbing elbows with Washington for all those years. I'm sure he didn't mind being in a totally different bracket of radio program than Stern (who is in his own, strange little world).

In closing, I think a lot of people were wrong: Imus and Al Sharpton...most of the media, etc. But I'm personally happy with the outcome. He was an asshole and he lost his job, yay! I don't think this was a Free Speech Issue...just a fact of life--------if your job is basically to have people like you...DON'T PISS US OFF.

Power to the people.

I'm Going to Graduate!

Well I got up early and went over to my adviser's office...and it turns out that next semester is going to by my last after all! I had some issues with my credits (I had too many English credits) but I got it all squared away. In the fall I'm going to take my last 12 credits...then it's off to the "real world" where I'm sure I'll be rolling in the money (ha-ha). Seriously though, is Wal-Mart hiring?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

R.I.P. Kurt Vonnegut

I was just about to go to bed...but I turned on the TV for some news--and there it was. Vonnegut was 84 years old.

I recently (a month ago?) read BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS and it blew my mind. He was a mad genius with a pen and will be missed.

So it goes.

THEY Return!

Well today was yet another day in paradise. Despite it being my "busy" day I managed to do two things that I need to do more of: I went to the gym and I did some writing. I was tired, but I got out of class and cranked out about 10 pages. My new story is called "THEY Return!" and is about a motel in the middle of nowhere Kansas that gets some 'special' visitors. I tried talking to Leah about it yesterday and today, but she didn't seem very interested (shame on you Leah!). Just kidding.

I'd love to stay up really late tonight and keep working on it...but I am tired and I have to get up early so I can meet with my advisor. Yes, I'm going to have a pretty big discussion tomorrow. Hopefully she's going to tell me I'm graduating next December. Then I can start reelin' in that English major money (please stay in school Leah, do something REAL with your life or we are screwed).

Anyway, I hope to finish a rough draft by Sunday.

Tomorrow is my Friday, and I have no idea what I'm doing this weekend. I know the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie is coming out...and I should go and see that...but other than that...???? I'm supposed to throw Leah a NOT Birthday (don't ask) on Friday. Other than that nonsense, who knows. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Envoy (Reissue)



Confession: I didn't find Warren Zevon until it was too late. Like a lot of people, I didn't know who the hell he was until he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. When it was revealed that Zevon was dying, and STILL recording one last album...the media went nuts. Suddenly, a genius who'd been overlooked most of his career had fame. While that may seem sad, it was actually perfect. You see, for most of his professional life, Zevon had been taunting death. Actually, Zevon sucker punched death over and over again, then kicked death in the face. In the end, however, death always wins...but Zevon got the last laugh. He turned tragedy into his greatest work to date (THE WIND, his final and best album...I can't bring myself to buy it because I cry every time (EVERY TIME) I hear "Keep Me In Your Heart" and "The Wind"). Anyway, I got caught up in the feeding frenzy surrounding Zevon's final days. I didn't realize that I'd been hearing Zevon all my life. His biggest (and only) radio hit "Werewolves of London" had haunted many a Halloween party I'd attended. I never knew who that black guy was who sang the song...but I loved it. Turns out that "black guy" was a nerdy white Jew named Warren Zevon. Anyway, Zevon died and I bought his Greatest Hits album GENIUS (yes, his balls were that big). I technically stole it, because I bought it with funds related to my bookstore's demise (a tale worthy of Zevon's murderous-criminal "story songs"). From there I've been a follower of all things Zevon. A friend of Jackson Browne (who got him a record deal), Zevon stands out among the other 70s singer-songwriters because of his wit and black humor (I'm talking midnight black people). Though his songs could be biting and cynical, Zevon's true nature emerged on his love songs. Truly Zevon was the best kind of romantic--the hopeless variety. "Reconsider Me" is probably the best love song EVER. A mixture of 'I love you' and 'I'm sorry I hurt you, I'll try to not do that again' there is a fine mix of pain and joy (the essence of love). "Let Nothing Come Between You" is another good one, about the difficulty of staying in love when you live in a world that likes to quell and quash that noble feeling.

I only recently heard "Let Nothing Come Between You." You see, Zevon's catalogue is a bit...shall we say neglected? All that is about to change, however, thanks to the good folks at Asylum records who have decided to re-release all of Zevon's work...including a couple that have never been on CD. And that brings me to THE ENVOY, an album I've owned for about five months now...on vinyl. I found a copy for $4.99 at Vintage Vinyl...thus bringing me a step closer to Zevon-nirvana. THE ENVOY is a pretty average album for Zevon. It pains me to write that too, because I know this will be the only opportunity for me to write a "new" review of a Zevon record...but I have to be honest, it's really not his best work. And if you've never heard of Zevon, I wouldn't recommend you start with this one. That said, for obsessive fans like me, their are some gems to be enjoyed. The before-mentioned "Let Nothing Come Between You" and the rockin' "Charlie's Medicine" are two stand outs. The restless "Looking For the Next Best Thing" is also on THE ENVOY (which I first heard on the Greatest Hits CD). THE ENVOY was written during a turbulent time for Zevon, so he can be forgiven for the records overall uneven texture. The throwaway track "Hula Hula Boys" (which is a joke of a song...but I don't need to tell you that, you've read the title) sits next to serious-ish songs like "Jesus Mentioned" and "Let Nothing..." Things like that bug me a bit, I'm an album freak and I tend to put a lot of significance on song order...this seems like it was randomly slapped together (except for the frist and last track of the album which act as two emotional bookends...I get to that later). But overall THE ENVOY is all over the place, this goes for the quality of the writing too. I guess what I'm trying to say is, the songs are either pretty good or just alright. The albums got about two or three songs I feel I really needed to hear...the rest are kinda forgettable.

The title track, "The Envoy" is scarily topical (despite being written in 1981). All the political problems in the Middle East are laid out exactly as they are today...which as a student of history, scares the crap out of me (I guess that problem is never going to get better). This pessimistic song opens the album...but that album's final track "Never Too Late for Love" provides the listener with a little boost...and I'm left wondering, which Zevon is real. The rogue from "The Overdraft", the cynical soothsayer in "The Envoy," or the desperate lover in "Let Nothing Come Between You" and "Never Too Late For Love"? This question has a lot of importance to me personally because I share (like most people) a lot of Zevons quirks of character. Are we all pessimists with optimistic streaks, or is it the other way around? Is that glass half full or empty? Maybe there is no right answer, I guess it doesn't really matter. All tha matter is when I listen to Zevon sing "...don't stop believing in tomorrow" I believe him (and in him).

Like I said, THE ENVOY is a decent album by a fantastic artist. As an artifact of Zevon I give it a million stars, but realistically, I'd say it's only a three star effort. I would encourage anyone who likes Dylan or Springsteen to stop and give Zevon a listen. Zevon doesn't do the exact same thing those guys do, but if you like extremely literate, thought provoking lyrics or songs that tell a story...then you owe it to yourself to listen to Warren Zevon. I suggest you do what I did and pick up GENIUS. Maybe you'll fall in love and seek out THE ENVOY eventually.

Jason gives THE ENVOY a B-

Note: THE ENVOY was released on March 27, 2007 on CD. The special edition CD contains four bonus tracks my vinyl copy doesn't have...this alone might make it worth the purchase for serious fans.

Monday, April 09, 2007

I Hate B.O.

That's right I hate it!!!

"Box Office"

When did movie making become reduced to this? The weekend take was never a really big deal when I was a kid. I remember movies came out, they cost money, but people never made a really big deal about what movie made what. Then, as I got older, it became a kind of game "entertainment" reporters played. A numbers game, this movie made more than this one so it's better (or worse yet, "it won"). What the hell? When did this happen and why?

I'm not stupid. I know that the only reason movies are made is to make money. I get it. I know it has been this way since the dawn of cinema. But when did a movies opening box office returns decide if a movie was going to stay in theatres? Growing up, movies that were good and bad stayed out at the movies for months. Now a movie is lucky to last a few weeks!

Get this, GRINDHOUSE did really shitty this weekend. The producers are blaming the "midwest and the south" for not "getting it." Hey duchebags! We get it!!! Thing is, you idiots opened your slasher/guts/horror movie on EASTER FUCKING WEEKEND. What did you expect? Newsflash, most Christians don't let their religion influence what movies they see...but there are some exceptions: if it's about Christ (extra points if Gibson is involved) THEY GO!!! If a film opens around a Christian holiday, and it's not a positive, uplifting holiday-type movie...they STAY AWAY. Many people can't pull themselves into a theatre around a holiday unless it's something for THE WHOLE FAMILY (not GRINDHOUSE). You guys were stupid to think otherwise. Yeah it was edgy to open it on Easter weekend. Yeah it was edgy to put two movies together and show them back-to-back. But ya know what? You lost.

Why am I so worked up about this? Because I'm reading that GRINDHOUSE may be pulled in a week or so AND RE-RELEASED as two separate movies! WTF? Huh? I mean, don't get me wrong, I enjoyed GRINDHOUSE, but I gotta be honest with you...neither film is good enough to stand on it's own. I don't care how much extra shit you throw in there. Which, by the way, is what they're going to do. Will longer versions of these two movies, playing separately attract the common man? Hell no. For one thing, people who might be interested will be turned off. "Why do I have to pay twice what some other people got paying only once?" The only people who will be lured into the dark multiplex will be people like me--true fans. Once again, filmmakers are dropping their pants and taking a shit on the only people who give a damn about them--the fans.

The movie has been out what, three or four days? Give it some time. They still have the overseas markets (where the films are being shown apart) and there is always DVD sales (DO NOT MAKE ME BUY BOTH OF THESE MOVIES SEPARATELY!!!). I can't believe that after only one weekend a movie may be pulled and reworked. That is just so stupid. Remember a little movie called NAPOLEON DYNAMITE? It did real shitty for like, three months...then wham! DYNAMITE fever hit and the thing went on to make a shit-ton of money. Why can't the same happen here (it won't). But it could. This is why I hate Capitalism. As an artist, we're faced with this threat of the market. If you don't make the people happy RIGHT NOW you lose. You have to butcher your art and turn it into two movies. Screw that. Most people (myself included) don't know what good art is most of the time. It takes us a while to see brilliance. What if all the artists of the past had operated under the modern American Capitalist restraints? All we'd have would be "Friends" and Paris Hilton.

Anyway, if you've made it this far through my rant...congrats! Here is some good news. I read about this woman Kate Walsh, who recorded and album (in a friend's house) and posted the songs online. That's it...just a woman, studied music, wrote some songs. Now she's #1 on iTUNES (UK). At least someone is making it.
Read all about it here: http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/showbiz/article-23392052-details/Essex+songbird+is+Top+of+the+iPods+with+her+homemade+album/article.do

New Story Idea

God bless my boring classes. Just when I think that I'll have nothing to write about, all I have to do is go to class and be bored. Honestly, I don't know what I'm going to do when (and if) I graduate. I guess I'm going to have to take a few classes on the side, here and there, just so I can slack off in them and get story ideas. We were talking about Pynchon today too, so I know I should have been interested...but alas, I wasn't. Rather than talk about THE CRYING OF LOT 49, we got the same exact lecture on Post-Modernism she gave us last semester in American Fiction II. Oh well.

I can't wait to get started on this one...but it'll probably have to wait until later this week (weekend?). We'll see.

On another note, the MPR Song of the Day was Bright Eyes! "Four Winds" it sounded great...I might have to pick up the new album...

Reason Number 10,000 I Can't Wait to Get My Sorry Ass Out of College

Well AGAINST THE DAY is due back this week...and I'm nowhere near close to being done with it (or even being half way). I picked it up from the library just before Spring Break, and I lost track of it over the long week. I got back last week and have been up to my eyeballs (and everything else) in homework (and such). So I guess I'm not going to finish it (this go-round). I'm about halfway through THE CRYING OF LOT 49, which is really amazingly weird. I can't say that I like it better than VINELAND or AGAINST THE DAY (what little I read). I won't say it's a dissapointment, but it's not everything that I thought it would be.

Paranoia is the theme of LOT 49. That and the postal delivery system! I know, I know...thrilling, right? Oh, but there's stamps too! Seriously, though, it's a mystery novel without a solution I fear. I can't wait until my professor clues me in on what the hell is going on. Anyway, I'm going to have to ask for AGAINST THE DAY for my birthday (that'll be my 24th). Maybe I can read it over the summer.

I can't wait until I'm done with college. I know I'll be working "for real" then, but I can't help but think that I'll be able to catch up a little on my reading list. Over the summer, even when I was working my @$$ off...I got a shite load of reading done. School is alright (I guess) but when you're being forced to read so much (as an English major) it's tough to pick up a book in your spare time. I love books too, but it's hard. I was doing a lot of outside reading (and writing) but I've really dropped off lately. I can't blame Guitar Hero or Wii or whatever...but those distractions don't help.

I'm going to try to do some more writing this week. I had a story going, A GIRL NAMED SQUIB, but it was one of those times where my confidence got the better of me. The 13 pages I have written are good, but I don't see it going anywhere that I want to go (or could go at this stage in my life). It was a little too "movie-of-the-week" for my tastes. Not sure what I'm going to be working on, I'm in a funny mood right now. All the recent violence (GRINDHOUSE, etc.) has me wanting literay blood, but I'm going to try and go the other way. Maybe do something sweeter for Leah. It's tough, coming up with ideas. I want to write, but these things don't always come when I want them too. Plus I have a bunch of stuff that I need to edit (David, I need to get that copy fo SEA CHANGE back from you...I know you have a crap load of edits for me to go through). Fuckin' Mico Word. I need to quit letting it change all my gobble-gook. When I'm writing, I'm just trying to get it out so I tend to have a bunch of messy, ink blotty mistakes. I really do need an editor.

So, if anyone has any story suggestions (and aren't going to sue me) I'll be more than happy to get some input/suggestions (other than finishing that novel from last year Leah). I have a story that's pretty good called THE GOSSAMGER TRUNK that I still need to finish, but I'm kinda out of the moment now. It's been since January since I've worked on it...a lifetime for my little short stories. I also need to get myself out there more, too. Leah bought me a Writer's Market book a while back, I need to put it to good use...this is the month my two contests are announced. I'm not holding my breath. But it would be nice, I need the encouragement...

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Sunday Nite Guitar Slinging

More pics of Guitar Hero:






Saturday, April 07, 2007

Jason and Leah visit THE GRINDHOUSE

So today I got up at the ass crack of dawn and hurriedly showered, dressed, went over to Leah's house. I stopped and bought us breakfast, which we ate...then we hopped in the car and went to AMC and caught the second showing of GRINDHOUSE. We were the first people in the theatre (I like to get there early). Our show was mostly old people (like 55+, seriously not who I thought I'd be seeing this movie with). It was an early show, and it was an R-rated movie...so I guess I shouldn't be too surprised.

Anyway, from beginning to end GRINDHOUSE delivered. The fake trailers, period "Coming Attractions" screens, to the scratches and tears in the film. Perfect, fun, gruesome, exploitation. I read the Rolling Stone review and I have to agree, GRINDHOUSE is the bloodiest "Chick Flick" ever made. Both films in the double feature have female protagonists. Both are very much "you go girl!" kind of movies. This is especially true of Tarantino's DEATH PROOF (which features three girls turning the tables on a deranged lady-killer (the real kind)). So of course Leah and me ate this shit up. PLANET TERROR was pretty bad, but it was supposed to be bad.

I think there is some irony in the fact that both directors, having achieved mainstream success (and the budgets that come with it), have opted to make a crappy movie...on purpose. I know, I know...they're "paying homage" to what they grew up watching. Yeah, yeah...still...I bet this country is filled with film students who'd kill their entire families for a fraction of the budget GRINDHOUSE had (and not so they could make a "bad" movie on purpose).

I'm not sure what I'm trying to say here--I guess it just seems weird that a "real" director would want to make a B-Movie. All the B-Movie directors out there (okay, most of them) want to move up into the big leagues and make better movies. Maybe not "mainstream" movies, but better ones.

I'm lost on a tangent. I'm really tired today...like I wrote earlier, I got up too damn early (and stayed up too late last night). Speaking of movies, I just saw CLERKS 2. Oh man, was it bad. L-A-M-E to the extreme. I like Kevin Smith too, Leah and I have been listening to his SModcast (his weekly podcast) and they've all been really funny. That's why we rented CLERKS 2 (I think). But oh boy was it bad. Bad acting, bad script, bad story idea, bad...bad, bad, bad. There are some movies that DON'T NEED A SEQUEL!!! Don't need another TITANTIC or CASABLANCA...that would make no fucking sense. Well, same deal with CLERKS. No reason to do another one. And while I'm on the subject, I'm sick of these OCEAN's movies. OCEAN's 11 was great, I loved it. Big cast, big fun, big heist...great. The second one was one of the worst film's I've ever seen (and nearly the second movie I've ever walked out on). OCEAN's 12 not only broke the "4th Wall" but it also (in my opinion) made fun of the audience (in not a nice way).

*Spoiler*









Juila Robert's character looks just like....JULIA ROBERTS! No way dipshits, that's because she is Julia Roberts...oh my Gawd that was stupid. I groaned and bellyached when that plot "twist" went down. If my sister hadn't been so stubborn, I'd have left. Anyway, after having George Clooney and Brad Pitt basically point and me and call me a "retard" I've sworn off the OCEAN's movies. OCEAN's 13? Hell no. Go ahead, fucking cast Pacino--I'm still not going to fall for it again. Fool me once, shame on you...fool me twice SHAME ON ME!!




*End Spoilers*





Now, a movie I want to see is HOT FUZZ. The blokes who did SHAUN OF THE DEAD are doing a cop/action movie. They showed the trailer (among other things) before GRINDHOUSE, it looked fantastically funny.


And now, because I'm bored, Jason Presents a list of his ALL TIME WORST MOVIES:

1. COLD CREEK MANOR (this is the only movie I've ever walked out of...too predictable)

2. OCEAN'S 12

3. TOMB RAIDER 1&2

4. FAR FROM HEAVEN (me and Leah's first date)

5. X-3 (and depending on the day X-2)

6. THE MATRIX SEQUELS

7. ALL NON-PIXAR DISNEY MOVIES AFTER THE LION KING

8. BATMAN AND ROBIN

9. HAPPY FEET (just terrible)

10. ANY COMPUTER ANIMATED MOVIE FROM DREAMWORKS (other than SHREK)

11. STAR WARS: EPISODE I THE PHANTOM MENACE

12. ALL OTHER VIDEO GAME MOVIES

13. CONGO (great book=shit movie?)

14. PRETTY MUCH ANY "4" (OTHER THAN STAR WARS): ROCKY, SUPERMAN, STAR TREK.

15. LEGALLY BLOND 2-Leah's scary mom has a cameo...that's reason enough (so she says)

Thunderhorse

My friend Sam and I stayed up late playing Guitar Hero. He is the greatest player I've ever seen. Sam plays a little guitar (for reals) and he's one of the best gamers I know...so I shouldn't be surprised...but I look like a whimp compared to him (he's over 1/2 done with the game on hard). Watching him play was insane.

I'm not worthy...I'm not worthy...

Friday, April 06, 2007

Guitar Hero Video Blog


Last night sucked. It started out cool enough, I got a call from my Mom saying my Federal Tax Refund was at the house...for more than I was expecting ($700+). To celebrate, I went out to Best Buy and picked up GUITAR HERO II for my XBOX 360. Came home, plugged it in...and it wouldn't play!!! I need to update my system. Well, that sucked because I can't do that here (my dorm Internet connection only allows one computer to use it...my laptop). SO, with about 1/2 an hour before my movie TEARS OF THE BLACK TIGER was supposed to start, me and Sam (a guy from the dorms) decided to leave. Then we heard about a "protest" over at another residence hall (against the new, lame, security measures). So we went to check that out and it made us late. We got to the Tivoli 2 minutes into the movie. But I didn't have enough money for a meter...so we missed the movie (by the time we could have found free parking and walked to the theatre we would have missed the first 15-20 minutes and I just don't do that). So, we back to the halls and made fun of the "protesters" (who were lame...I kept trying to rile them up into a riot, but they were just a bunch of bitchy co-eds...no fight in 'em). So I missed the movie (Josh if you read this...and you went...I'm sorry we didn't make it, and I hope the movie was good).

With no bloodshed in sight, I went over to Leah's (in the hopes of getting my 360 online to update it). But that was turned out to be a big pain, her Internet tower thingy is up in her mom's room...and my 360 isn't wireless out of the box (yes, the Wii is better Leah). So I had to wait till this morning. It sucked, we had to "borrow" her mom's small-ish TV and carry it into her study...then dig through her piles of crap (her mom's a lawyer so there was a shite load of paper). In the end, I got it updated and we've been playing Guitar Hero all day!! It rules. I bought a Ibenez acoustic guitar back in Junior College, and I took a few lessons...but I was too busy (read: lazy) to learn how. BUT this game lets me live out my poser fantasy of being a rock God. I nearly shit myself when I unlocked the Stones "Can't You Hear Me Knocking." Damn good fun. If you're too poor to buy it, go to an electronics store and take the demo for a test drive...too much fun.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Life in Cartoon Motion



Before I get into my main review, I think I need to be up front about my feelings for Freddie Mercury: I love Freddie Mercury. I have no problem saying that, either. I can still remember watching the Behind the Music episode about Queen with my little sister Amber. We both sat there holding (choking on) our tears. Not because his life was tragic (it was in some ways) but rather because of the sheer bravery he fought his AIDS--and how, on his deathbed still poured his heart and soul into his music. No one will ever, could ever replace Freddie here on Earth. His talent, much like Lennon, Shakespeare, Einstein, etc. CAN NEVER be matched. When those people died, that was it. People can imitate, maybe come close but never THAT close to what those people were/had. Just like there are writers influenced by Faulkner and Hemingway, musicians in the pop world are influenced by The Beatles. Bands like Oasis come along, try to fill the gap left behind by their heroes...and fail. They fail, but boy is it a beautiful failure. Queen, similarly, is one of those mega-bands that many artists owe their entire fucking careers to. Bands (I love) like Jellyfish and the more recent/mainstream The Darkness are merely imitations of the original.

Okay, so now that I got that out of my system...let's talk about Mika. Also know as Michael Holbrook Penniman, Mika is a Lebanese-born London-based singer. His debut album, LIFE IN CARTOON MOTION is just like the title suggest: it's big, flamboyant, poppy, and gay as hell. Combine that with the fact that he sounds (a little) like Freddie Mercury and BOOM...you have your Queen comparisons. The album opens with the club track "Grace Kelly," where Mika informs us that he wishes he was like the famous actress of yesterday. It's a good song (reminds me of the Dogs Die in Hot Cars track "Paul Newman's Eyes"). Despite the obvious homosexual-ness of the track, I dug it. Then the second track "Lollipop"came on...and I got nervous. This song makes Scissor Sisters sound like Metallica...Elton John (at his gayest) looks like Kid Rock compared to this song. This song is so gay, it has to be heard to be believed. I loved it...in a kitsch sort of way. Still not quite very Queen-ish though, other than the vocals (which only bare a slight sonic resemblance). "Love Today" the fourth track is probably the most Queen-ish track. It's good, with it's "Bohemian Rhapsody" like backing track and "Radio Ga-Ga" rap-like delivery. The falsetto, Mercury's trademark is also heavily utilized here. It reminds me of second Darkness album. A majority of the tracks sound more Bee-Gees than Queen, though. "Relax (Take it Easy)" sounds like a lost track from SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER. Not a bad thing, just not exactly my bag baby.

I liked the story song "Billy Brown" (about a straight guy who leaves his wife for a gay lover) it was reminiscent of "My Best Friend" or "Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy." But the 'biggest' Queen tribute (that was a pun) is the song "Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)" which...despite agreeing with the sentiment...I have to say I didn't care for because it felt like too much of a rip off of the superior "Fat Bottom Girls." Up until this song I thought Mika was just wearing his influences on his sleeve--at this point it turned into a rip off game. This is a hard line to walk, I understand. Maybe as a B-side it could have worked...but to put this track on his debut, with all the Queen comparisons seems tacky (although, Mika could be making fun of people like me, how sit around comparing new artists to old ones). Mika's an artist, and he can do whatever he wants (that the record company feels will sell records) but the idea of a generation of people growing up with this song of plus-sized empowerment (rather than "Fat Bottomed Girls") makes me kinda sad. The rest of the album's tracks are pretty bland, generic pop that I have trouble recalling (and I just listened to the record) much less write about.

Getting off the Queen-rant...LIFE IN CARTOON MOTION is well produced, glossy pop music. Easy to listen to, easier to dance to. Mika's playful and despite the aggressively gay "Lollipop" I didn't feel embarrassed playing it loud in my dorm room (for all to hear). Frankly, I've had worse played (thank you Leah). I think that if Mika had done a little more original stuff (or done a cover album of old disco songs) I'd have liked his album more. This album feels like half a step into the spotlight...like maybe Mika's not quite ready for prime time. I think the second album will be better (which runs contrary to the usual 'sophomore album blues'). In the end, Mika seems like one of those artists who pops up, just barely missing large fame here in the States, but a few years later appears at the top of Australian or Holland's music charts. I could be wrong, but I bet you'll have to import his next album. According to Wikipedia, LIFE IN CARTOON MOTION made it to number one in the UK (and a bunch of other countries not America).

An interesting, slightly-silly dance-pop record. More girl power than power pop.

Jason gives LIFE IN CARTOON MOTION a C.

As a side note, I think the album has really cool artwork (which is always important). Also, for full disclosure...this CD was "given" to me by a dorm-mate...had I bought this CD I probably would have been more dissapointed. It's just not good enough to spend my non-existant dollars.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Day Off with KILL BILL & Tarantino

So today was a "fun" (read: wasted) day. I went to bed at 3:00AM woke up at 7:00...made it to my first (and only) class--and it was canceled. This is the fifth time this semester (that's over two weeks) that this class, my Linguistics class, has not met. My teacher is a spaz, if you remember I've complained about her before. It's a senior (4000) level class...and boy does it feel like junior college. We take forever to get started, then once we're going she lets the class take over/monopolize the lecture. I haven't learned a single thing in this class...I bought the book, but I don't touch it. I simply don't care, and frankly--it's my teacher's fault. She doesn't think it's important, so I don't think it's important.

Anyway, I wandered over to the student center (MSC) and did some homework. My other English class is really taking off!! We had to read the first two chapters of THE CRYING OF LOT 49 (by my man, Thomas Pynchon). It's about a woman whose first husband (a millionaire) dies and names her as the executor of his estate. I'm only two chapters in, but it's already really freaky. So I did that, and then I worked on some Spanish homework (because you have to do it sometime) then I went back to the dorm. Just in time, too. It started raining really, really hard. There was hail and lightning, the whole bit.

With everything done at 11:00AM I was about to waste my day wandering the internet (or the like) when I got a notion to watch KILL BILL. The whole thing (both two hour movies VOL. 1&2). So I sat down and watched the first one. Now, I'm consider myself to be a pretty big Tarantino fan...but for some reason I forgot all about the KILL BILL movies. They're fantastic artifacts of filmmaking. As a somewhat creative person (who can't decide what he wants to do) I have always admired people who literally do it all. Quentin Tarantino, Orson Welles, Charlie Chaplain...these directors wrote (in Tarantino's case writes), directed, produced, and sometimes starred in their own films. Fantastic. Have all your wildest dreams come true, do it all. What better preson to make your vision come to life...than you!

KILL BILL is epic, eye-poping cinema. Sure, it's bloody and violent...but so is the Bible (note I am not comparing KILL BILL directly to the Bible). I like Tarantino because the world's he constructs are always complete, living, breathing things. The characters in his movies (while not "realistic") are much more life like than anything else on the screen today (or ever). I'm so stoked about his latest project GRINDHOUSE (which opens on Friday, and I am SO going to be there, right in the front row!). People say that movies are a dying thing...which it is...but Tarantino's new films are always an event for me. I used to go on opening night for almost every movie I wanted to see--but now I take my time getting there. Maybe it's because he makes so few movies...maybe that's what makes it so special. Anyway, his movies always have so much flair! Seeing them on the big screen is almost the only way they can truly be enjoyed.

Case in point--KILL BILL (vol. 2). In a pivital scene, the heroine "The Bride" is buried alive. As her captors nail the wooden coffin shut, the light fades on the screen. All that is left, after the final nail is driven into the hard wood...is black. Then we hear The Bride panting, sobbing...as the booming sound of dirt rains down on the outside of the coffin. NOW, when I saw this for the first time, I was in a dark movie theatre. It was a mid-afternoon show so there was hardly anyone there (I think it might have been the first show on the first day Vol. 2 came out). Sitting next to me was my good friends "no" and "one." I'd come alone because, well frankly...I didn't know too many people who were into movies like KILL BILL (my little sister Amber became a convert once she saw Vol. 1 on DVD...we both saw Vol. 2 in the theatres together a few days later). Anyway, the point of my story originally was...I was all alone, sitting in pitch black dark...just like the main character. For a few seconds, I got a taste of the horror of being buried alive. It was fantastic (and really fucked up).

Tonight, after Leah got off work, we sat in my dorm and ate dinner. I popped in Vol. 2, and it wasn't nearly the same as it was sitting in the inky blackness of a darkened movie house. Tarantino's magic works, but it works best in the theatre. Which is why on Friday night I'm going to get the crap scared out of me at GRINDHOUSE. If you haven't heard, GRINDHOUSE is a homage to the B (C?) movies of the 1970's--the hyper violent, sexy, girtty, cheaply made slasher/horror pics. Tarantino cut his teeth on this shit and has faithfully recreated the feel of going to a crappy 70's movie house. It's actually two pictures in one--the first is directed by Tarantino's long time friend Robert Rodriguez, who some of you may remember directed SIN CITY (a film I saw because it was rumored that Tarantino had directed a scene (he had...all two minutes of it) and that it carried the familar Tarantino thumbprint). His half of GRINDHOUSE is called "Planet Terror" and is about crazy zombies. Tarantino's half is called "Death Proof" and is about a stunt man who's car makes him (while he's driving it) death proof. In between the two flicks are going to be fake trailers made by other directors (Eli Roth of HOSTEL fame and Rob Zombie to name two). All of this footage has been aged and tarnished and scratched to make it look old. I've heard too, that "Planet Terror" has some scenes that are "missing" and that this effect (quite common in the old days) helps to heighten the tension (crap! what happened! did our hero die? what's going on? what did we miss!). Adding to the fun are the crap load of cameos (two words: Nic Cage (as Fu-Man Chu in Nazi/werewolf gag trailer shown in between the two films).


I'm a geek, I can't help it. This film, this entire amazing package is the kind of thing I wish I could do. Tarantino is one of those directors that makes me wish I'd had rich parents who could have sent me to film school. Spielberg used to do it for me...but then he went all WWII on me and well...he's kinda lost it for me (though I always make a point to see him work). Another movie I'm excitd about seeing is TEARS OF THE BLACK TIGER. I'm going with some dorm people on Thursday night to the Tivoli to see it (last showing before it heads off to that DVD press in the sky).

TEARS OF THE BLACK TIGER is a Thai action/western from 2000. Go GOOGLE the tailer...it looks amazing, the entire movie is all pastel and surreal...I'll probably go see that and come home and post a mini-review of that one, but expect a FULL review of GRINDHOUSE late Friday/early Saturday.

Monday, April 02, 2007

"Ruby"

A good song, and a good video:

Kaiser Chiefs "Ruby"

Yours Truly, Angry Mob



First, let me say that at $7.99 the new Kaiser Chiefs album is a steal. Buy it for "Ruby" (the lead song and single) and you've gotten your moneys worth. It's a three and a half minute piece of pop I liken to Pop Rocks. Remember Pop Rocks? Those sharp candy shards that pop and fizz in your mouth? After a few seconds it vanishes in your mouth, leaving only a sticky film. That's how "Ruby" is. Great, short, jumpy and sweet. I first heard the song on Little Steven's Underground Garage (it was Steven's Coolest Song in the World one week a month or so ago). It's a great song, and when I heard it I was stoked to hear the rest of the new record.

The Kaiser Chiefs are a British new-wave/pop outfit that burst onto the scene a few years back with their critically hailed debut EMPLOYMENT. That first record was fantastic, start to finish. A couple of years later (I think it came out in 2003 or 2004) I still find myself listening to it (particularly at the gym). Made famous by "I Predict a Riot" and "Modern Way" (now being used by FOX to shill their new car/action show DRIVE).

Like many bands, though, the Kaiser Chiefs are suffering from the dreaded "sophomore slump." Is YOURS TRULY, ANGRY MOB a bad record? No. Is it as good from start to finish as EMPLOYMENT? No. Is it enjoyable? Hell yes. Besides the single "Ruby" there are a handful of really great cuts. The Hot Hot Heat-ish rave up "Highroyds" stands out with its synth heavy sound and "ooh"-ing backing vocals. Another track, the high energy "Thank You Very Much" recalls the previous records opener "Everyday I Love Less and Less." Likewise the excellently titled "Love is Not a Competition (But I'm Winning)" is a thrilling tale of modern love (and all it's woes). In fact, if I had to say what the records overall theme was...I'd say it was broken love. Not very surprising considering that, as XTC would say, "This is Pop!" But still, the more I age and move away from my teenage years...the more I tire of trivial, juvenile love. The last album seemed to tackle more than just Top 40 love. Not so much for YOURS TRULY, ANGRY MOB.

Many reviews I've read also criticize the band for having a lot of repetition in their lyrics. Songs like "I Can Do it Without You" and "Ruby" could fall into this category. Basically, if you can read those song titles, you could sing 70-85% of those songs. Is this a problem? No, the Kaiser Chiefs don't sit there and pretend to be Dylan. This is a simple, rock record--I find the somewhat simple lyrics to be primal (something all the best rock is guilty of being). Good rock is a battle cry, rallying the troops of humanity against the forces of the mediocre and pedestrian. No song proves this point better than the excellent "Everything is Average Nowadays" (which is a ranting about the sameness of modern life...it's a great bit of BLACK SEA-era Andy Partridge). Rally cries don't have to tell a complex story. Although, this complaint maybe the Chiefs own fault...their first single on the last record made use of the word "thee" which may have lead some critics to think the band was trying to be "intellectual." Whatever.

Some of the songs are weak ("My Kind of Guy" stands out) but suffer more of a case of blandness rather than being unsustainable. A few of the tracks are strange and jar the listener only because they don't seem to fit with the rest of the record. A good example of this is "Learnt My Lesson Well" which opens like a Billy Joel piano-man type song...which isn't bad...but the slowness comes like an emergency brake on a 100MPH freeway. The song meanders on for over five minutes (making it the longest track on the record). It's strange, because the piano song ends, there is a pause--then we get what sounds like the chords from "I Predict a Riot." Different lyrics, same music. "I Learnt My Lesson Well" isn't a bad song, just a strange duck on YOURS TRULY, ANGRY MOB. I get the feeling that the more I hear it, the more I'll like it. But I didn't care for the obvious musical lifting (even if you're stealing from yourself, it's just wrong kids).

The version I bought (from Best Buy) had three bonus tracks the retailer claimed were "exclusive." I'm skeptical about this, because usually these "exclusive" tracks are tacked on EVERY copy of the CD...anyway, there's a live version of "The Angry Mob" (from Berlin) and two other songs. One is just okay ("From the Neck Down") the other is fantastic ("I Like to Fight"). If you happen upon a copy of this record with these on them, I suggest you pick it up. If you find a copy that lacks these tracks...you can pretty much live your whole life without them (though I'm thinking about making "I Like to Fight" my personal anthem).

So, while it's not a major revelation...or a shift in the musical world--YOURS TRULY, ANGRY MOB is in the end satisfying enough. If you're new to the band, I recommend picking up EMPLOYMENT first, then pick this one up while it's still bargain priced. Despite the ablum being slightly less than stellar, I still have high hopes for the bands next project.

Jason gives YOURS TRULY, ANGRY MOB a B-

Sunday, April 01, 2007

I'm Going to Quit this Blog

...April Fool's!!!

Yeah, I'm sick of if too. This morning I woke up and downloaded the Rock and Roll Geek Indie Cast (it's a Podcast I've been listening to for about 2 years now)...anyway, they tried to fool everyone into thinking the host (Mike Butler, a really cool guy) had been fired.

I fell for it hook, line, and sinker. Leah calmed me down and reminded me that it was April 1 and that it was probably just a joke (it was). I remember when I was a kid, all that April 1 meant was that the kids on the playground would say really outrageous, really un-true things (as a joke). Today, with the internet, it seems that every year the jokes are becoming more and more elaborate (some that I read about being planned all year). This might be going a bit too far. Some of these things are funny, but others are just wrong.

The best one I read was that the government had decided to ban/confiscate all copies of the 1982 Disney movie TRON because it was a "security risk" (some scenes were filmed in a old nuclear power plant (???)). LAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So next year, before you get crazy and stir everyone up--think to yourself "is this going to make people kill themselves?" You can laugh, but I can't help but think of Orson Welles and his radio show...WOW anyone?