Friday, June 13, 2008

What the hell happened to Dana Carvey?

So, I guess it's pretty much an unstated fact that Dana Carvey's post-SNL career has been abysmal. "Master of Disguise" should not be the high point of anyone's career.

I've seen some Web ads for his new stand-up special and boy, does he look C-R-E-E-P-Y-! Dude has had some work done. Last I saw him he looked an appropriate 50ish. Now he looks like he'd be working as Joan Rivers' poolboy. Check it out:

Face lift? Check.
Eye Lift? Check.
Botox? Check.

I think he's even wearing a wig. It's terrible. I used to like this guy.

In the Carvey vs. Myers dual Carvey has been a did-not-finish. It takes real talent at sucking to make Mike Myers' stint as "The Love Guru" look like comic gold ... but Carvey seems to have done it. The preview for his stand-up looks desperate. And the name, "Squatting Monkeys Tell No Lies?" Cringe worthy.

Agent: OK, Dana, now all we need is a title. What do you want to call your new stand-up special?

Carvey: (Adjusting his wig) Uh, let's see. Something about a monkey. A monkey line is always a sure laugh. Like, "When Mokeys Fly Out of My Butt!" That's good right?

Agent: No, Dana. Mike Myers already has the copyright on that line.

Carvey: OK then, let's mix it up. How about something that sounds like a fortune cookie. Like broken English sounding. People still laugh at foreigners, right? Maybe something mysterious, like, "Squatting Monkeys Tell No Lies." And then I'll be dressed like a monkey. And I'll squat down and, like, take a poop and say the F-word a lot.

Someone needs to tell this guy it's OK to stop trying.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Project awesome

Some music while you read perhaps? Just hit play and come on back. (I love this song)

One of my many delusions of grandeur is the desire to be a rock-star. Since I was a very small child I've loved music and desired to create it. I learned to play saxophone in junior high, then picked up the guitar just before high school. My skills never really developed. Check that off to a complete lack of natural talent and minimal at best effort to learn (after all it's impossible to fail if you never really try).

But recently I've had a strong desire to actually try and do it. Some friends of mine formed a cover band about two years ago. We managed to get together 4 or 5 times and learned 4 or 5 songs, but we all were mediocre at best and nothing was ever going to happen except maybe playing in front of a few friends every once in awhile. We never officially gave up, but haven't got together in months and months.

In the time since I've been going to lots of shows , and I know a few people who are actually doing it (writing and playing and performing), and I really admire their effort. Gets my daydreams really going.

So I decided to give it a go. And I don't realistically expect to ever actually be good, it takes more time than I have, and making an effort is a real effort for me. Yet I've come up with some decent starts to what may be songs, and I've gathered some decent equipment, including a bad-ass guitar and all of this stuff:

In that picture you can see my KAOSS pad. I can do this, and other, stuff with it:

I also plan to be a sort of one-man show (since my drummer is moving to Seattle, Baldwin). That's why I bought one of these:

It's fun to play with toys and those two things are seriously addictive.

Another major part of my planning stage is the redesign of my other inexpensive less cool guitars. The first one that I will complete is a cheap chinese Fender Squier Telecaster that I'm personally modifying to be exactly like the guitar Johnny Greenwood plays in Radiohead (my favorite band). The only step remaining is to solder the electronics, which I almost definitely will screw up (I've done a pretty sloppy job of everything else so far:

The other one is actually my very first guitar. The neck broke a long time ago, and I thought I'd take that opportunity to supe it up with some cool stuff. Obviously a long way to go on this one:

So keep an eye out for me playing some where sometime in the future. I'm aiming for next summer as a reasonable goal to be gig ready. I'll keep you posted...

P.S. Stay tuned for more delusions...

Friday, May 23, 2008

Thoughts on the Democratic Primary, Sexism and Racism

Note: The feelings expressed below may not reflect the thoughts of all Popanalia contributers. But where else was I supposed to post it?

The Democratic battle gets more twisted and bitter as John McCain putters about the country pandering to the Christian Right and delivering promises of continued warfare in his patronizing, grandfather-tells-a-bedtime-story cadence. And Hillary continues her slow but inevitable death, determined to bring the entire Democratic party down with her.

This morning I heard a Clinton supporter on NPR complain that no one tried to force Teddy Kennedy out of the race before the convention so why should Hillary stand down? What a spectacularly terrible example! Bitter in-party fighting has repeatedly dogged the Democratic party, a la Kennedy's bid to upset sitting President Carter during the 1980 primary. The only reason that isn't remembered as a worse political bungle is because immediately after losing the nomination to Carter, Kennedy gave a tremendous pro-Carter speech at the convention. Would Hillary do that for Barack? One would have to doubt her sincerity at this point. And anyway, Reagan creamed Carter in '80. I'd hate to see that old bag of dust McCain, the false maverick, get such a lucky break this year.

Barack Obama has officially been labeled 'potentially our first Black President.' His father was black and from Africa, his mother white and from Kansas. So, black + white = Black? Would it be different if his father were white and his mother black? Or does any addition of nonwhite ancestry nullify the whiteness? This smacks of "separate but equal" racism to me. In Plessy v. Ferguson, Plessy was 7/8ths white, but that still wasn't "white enough" and he was denied seating in the white railroad car. It is deeply disturbing to see this type of classification still happening openly in America, even if the segregation has been revoked from the laws.

When do we decide as a nation to move past racial classification? It's not even accurate! My wife, Dana, is half Mexican. When she fills out forms that ask for her race, many times her choices boil down to one of two: "Hispanic" or "Caucasian (non-Hispanic)." Does being half Mexican make her Hispanic? Her father was born here in the U.S., both his parents immigrated from Mexico, so she doesn't really feel Hispanic. Even if she identifies as white, though, she feels disqualified from choosing Caucasian because it specifically says "Non-Hispanic" You can see how frustrating these questions can be for mixed race individuals.

Hillary Clinton told the Washington Post yesterday that "It does seem as though the press at least is not as bothered by the incredible vitriol that has been engendered by the comments by people who are nothing but misogynists." There are die hard Hillary supporters now proclaiming that if she does not win the nomination they will openly campaign against Barack Obama. I fail to see how this would dispel any sexism that has been proliferated in the media. If anything it would add fuel to their fire by portraying feminists as short sighted and uncompromising.

If Hillary had a problem with how gender was being discussed she should have addressed it head on in the early stages of the race. Obama did this with his well-received 'Race Speech' titled "A More Perfect Union" and delivered on March 18, 2008. Obama's speech may not have changed the way voters refer to his race or how it affects the perception of his electability. It did set a line with the media. Hillary never set that line and she has to live with that.

Of course it is abhorrent that either one of them should have to take an aggressive stance on issues of equality. But America is full of thoughtful individuals willing to reexamine their previously held stereotypes (I hope). I'm sure there are many voters for both Democratic candidates who never would have considered voting for a (__insert racist/sexist term here__) prior to this election. The candidates should both be proud of even the slightest positive shift they may have instigated. To deem any vote for Barack Obama as an insult against all women is sick. This sort of psychological guilt trip is counterproductive to all work for equal rights. And for Clinton's supporters to back John McCain is playground politics of the lowest order.

Voters need to align their support with the general election candidate that has the best policies to help individuals of all genders, races, economic stations, religions, and every other counter intuitive all-inclusive label under the sun; regardless of the gender, race, economic station, religion or other label that may apply to that candidate. I can't believe there are people who'd mortgage the entire nation's well-being to get back at a few media pundits who made incendiary comments. Remember: Media pundits get paid to say stupid things. It's what they do. Everyone needs to look at the big picture and, as Bill Clinton said earlier this year, "chill out."

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Weirdest shit ever...

So I went to the Rendezvous on Monday night for their weekly new music showcase. They do it every Monday night, which is going to be a regular thing for me cuz I like music and it's a good spot to meet people and feel out the local scene.

Last week was the first time I went, and it was what I expected. The high ceilings are a detriment to the sound quality, but these are just local bands. The first act I saw was a one-man band kind of thing with a guy (forget his name) playing guitar and drums. Sort of rockabillyish. Then they had a sort of punk band called MK Ultra Culken. They were once an instrumental punk band, but now they have a chick singer (pardon the mysoginist lingo, but they are a punk band, and they'd probably appreciate it). The singer was obviously new cuz she was singing off of cue cards for the entire set.

So week one: local bands playing in a local bar. Not outstanding music, with not outstanding sound, but pretty standard expectable stuff.

Which brings me to Monday night. I was expecting similar fare. The first two bands fit the mold; local, unassuming rock bands, that play nonthreatening tunes, that sound ok at best, worse in the poor acoustic surroundings.

But then there was a band from Philadelphia called Mose Giganticus (later research suggests that Mose Giganticus is the name of the lead singer [stage name I presume, the band just plays for him]). They appeared to be a three piece. The lead singer, drummer and guitar player. But then I noticed that the lead singer had a keytar:

He also had quite a shiny-bright collection of electronics on his rig. Lots of buttons. Turns out he also had a vocoder voice synth deal, and his keytar was programmed into a sampler of some sort. ( They played a kind of synthy pop-punk music and had a lot of energy. I liked it. I even stood up to watch which was unexpected.
Two other strange things though: they brought a camera man who took a lot of pictures with a weird flash in one hand camera in the other hand kind of deals, and a weird dude dressed like a cowboy who didn't appear to be more than a groupy until...

The band finished their set and started tearing down their equipment. The cowboy appeared to be helping out. I thought it was weird that they were piping a punky version of the theme song to the American Office tv series. Then the cowboy started the sampler and started 'singing.' Turns out he's a performer called 'The Emotron.' His act was quite bizarre. The songs were ridiculous, and all he did was sort of freak out on the stage area. As the 'performance' continued he stripped off his cowboy outfit revealing some sort of leotard. Oh, almost forgot, he was wearing safety glasses with one lens sort of fucked up. As the 'show' progressed he also stripped off his cowboy hat, then his hair piece revealing quite a large and perhaps bogus bald spot (hard to tell how old this guy is for sure and I wouldn't put it past him to fake it). He filled the blank spaces between songs with nonsensical rants, since it was cinco de maio most of them were about drunk Mexicans, oh and fucking, and sayin the word fuck. Further along he stripped down to his undies, then brought out some substance, sprayed it on his junk and set it on fire, then did the same to his head, and repeat. I highly recommend you check this shit out, its beyond words:

And if you thought that was the end of the night, nope. The closing act was a 'band' called The Cartridge Family. Can't find them online at all, it's possible that they've been banned from the internet. They've apparently been banned from most bars in Lansing. Not a surprise considering their style. I didn't count all of them, but I think there were 8-10 of them, only 4 of which were actually playing instruments (drums, bass, guitar, keys). The rest were just acting a fool. They ran around jumping on stuff, firing off confetti, tossing garbage around, wrapping people in tape, dancing on people, getting naked, breaking a large piniata (sp), spitting fire, etc... The overweight lead singer (he was wearing a cut off sleeveless shirt to accentuate his bear belly, and to go with his black and white striped leotard) jumped onto and destroyed a table about 5 seconds into their first song. I thought the bouncers were going to physically throw them out before they could even get started.

Long story short, best $5 cover I ever paid for anything ever. Next week will likely be lame as hell.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Baconator Vs. Club Chalupa ::: FIGHT!

What on this Earth is more heavily marketed than food? Nothing. And while the UN prattles on about a worldwide food crisis, with millions of people worldwide scratching their way through life with little more than a handful of rice per day, I thought it would be a trip to shine a spotlight on American pop culture as food. Or food as pop culture. Either way, I'm nominating myself the Official Popanalia Food Critic. Really, I'm doing you a service because I' going to be subjecting myself to ruinous levels of transfats and cholesterol.

For this first installment we have two fast food items facing off bacon y bacon. Bacon is without a doubt the most American of all foods. It's terrible for you, has no nutritional value, isn't filling on its own, comes from an animal that is raised on environmentally disastrous factory farms, and it's DELICIOUS. That's why we try to put it on everything: Pizza, burgers, omelettes, and now even tacos. Which brings us to our contenders. The pair will be judged head-to-head in five categories: Name, Chain Tie-In, Flavor, Digestability, Ambiance.

Taco Bell Club Chalupa vs. Wendy's Triple Baconator

Round One: Name, Winner: Wendy's
Club Chalupa sounds like a derogatory nickname for the country club groundskeeper. This taco also tastes nothing like a club sandwich so the name is misleading. It's an insult to the timeless elegance of the club sandwich. The Triple Baconator, on the other hand, knows its place. It is a novelty food intended to lure in a few nonregular customers, but ultimately unfit for a permanent place on the menu. It's also really fun to order. The addition of the suffix 'ator' implies that this sandwich will actually turn you into a piece of bacon... very cool.

Round Two: Chain Tie-In, Winner: Taco Bell
Aside from the Frosty, and square shaped meat, Wendy's doesn't have a real definitive brand. Who goes to Wendy's? Well, no one in particular other than people who like to order baked potatoes from a fast food restaurant. They're the bottom feeder of the big burger chains, sucking up whatever consumers don't get engulfed by McDonald's or Burger King. Honestly, the Baconator sounds like something The King would be peddling, not a girl with pigtails. Dave Thomas never would have pandered so. The Club Chalupa fits right in with the regular line-up of Taco Bell belly busters. They are the Rennaisance Masters of cheese sauce and tortillas, constantly repackaging the same flavors in refreshingly disgusting ways.

Round Three: Flavor, Winner: Wendy's
Like I just said, everything at Taco Bell tastes approximately identical. The only difference here is the addition of chopped up fake bacon AKA fakon. The artificial smokiness of the fakon combined with the deep fried chalupa made me think of eating a taco filled with ingredients picked from a dumpster ... and looked the same. The Baconator wasn't too bad. The three burger patties gave a nice meaty flavor, the lettuce and tomato were fresh and the bacon was good enough that I picked off the remaining strips even when I was too stuffed to finish the burger. One of the better fast food burgers I've ever eaten. Although I was a little disappointed... the name implied there would be too much bacon for a human to handle. I handled it pretty easily.

Round Four: Digestability, Winner: Wendy's
My stomach was churning about halfway through the Chalupa, which I couldn't finish. Not because my stomach was full... it just surrendered.

Round Five: Ambiance, Winner: Wendy's
This category is sort of open-ended. Like the Artistic scores for a figure skating competition, it's all about the judge's personal opinion of the whole experience. Sitting in Taco Bell I was reminded of summer vacation during high school. It looked basically like every other Bell in the country. The same wacky, jagged fonts with overly tight letter spacing. The same ExXxXxXtreme Mountain Dew promotions. The same tired, SoCal teal and hot pink color scheme. The same schlocky pop radio. They couldn't play it more safe.

Wendy's had a surprise in store. The place was ever so slightly run down, because it's older. The ever-present school bus yellow is obnoxious and unappetizing, true. But the music! They were piping in a pretty decent playlist of '80s New Wave. I'm not sure if this was a conscience choice, or they've just been too cheap to update their radio station in the last 20 years. Whatever, I was pleased.

Final Judgment: Wendy's
In this ultimate battle of the bacon Wendy's clearly came out on top. I feel like Taco Bell merely used their fakon as a hollow gimmick to lure in the nation's pork addicted masses. Wendy's skillfully crafted a meaty duet to produce a genuinely filling bacon-burger while pushing their cool cred even further with some risky music choices.

Depeche Mode + Bacon = Mmm.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Summer concerts

I would really like to go to a music festival this summer because I've never been to a music festival.

So there's Rothbury here in Michigan which has a decent lineup. I would love to see Modest Mouse, The Drive By Truckers and the Black Keys, but I don't want to put up with Dave Matthews and John Mayer, especially for $250, which is ridiculous.

Then there's Lollapallooza which would be sweet. I've seen Radiohead once before and they are my favorite band ever. Also there will be Explosions in the Sky and Battles which are both awesome post-rock bands, but it's also $200, and screw that. Radiohead is coming to Toronto and Cleveland, so maybe I'll go to one of those shows.

Then there's the Sasquatch festival in Washington state. It's an awesome lineup with REM, The Flamiong Lips, Beirut, Say Hi, The New Pornographers, Modest Mouse, The Cure, M.I.A., Built to Spill, The National, Battles, Destroyer, Dengue Fever, Stephen Malkmus, The Hives, The Kooks, Ozomatli, Rogue Wave, and more. But it's $200 and it's in Washington.

Then there's Bonnaroo with Pearl Jam, Ben Folds, The Raconteurs, B.B. King, Sigur Ros, etc.. But again it's $200 and far away in Tennessee, and I can't help but think that it will be infested with hippies (I hate hippies).

Oh, then there's Wheatland, which will definitely be full of hippies (I hate hippies).

So I'm thinking I'm going to try to go to Pitchfork, it's only like $65 and there's a lot of good bands:

Friday, July 18:

Pitchfork Music Festival and All Tomorrow's Parties present "Don't Look Back"

Public Enemy performing It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back

* Sebadoh * performing Bubble and Scrape

Mission of Burma performing Vs.

Saturday, July 19:
Animal Collective
Jarvis Cocker
* The Hold Steady *
Vampire Weekend
Dizzee Rascal
Fleet Foxes
* Caribou *
Jay Reatard
* Titus Andronicus *
No Age
Atlas Sound
Extra Golden
Fuck Buttons
* Elf Power *
The Ruby Suns
* Icy Demons *
A Hawk and a Hacksaw
* Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar *

Sunday, July 20:
Dinosaur Jr.
M. Ward
Ghostface and Raekwon
Les Savy Fav
The Apples in Stereo
Dirty Projectors
* Times New Viking *
Cut Copy
* Bon Iver *
Occidental Brothers Dance Band International
King Khan & His Shrines
El Guincho
* High Places *
* Mahjongg *

So anybody going to any of these? Anybody want to go to Pitchfork with me?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Dengue Fever

So this is pretty sweet: Dengue Fever

I wasn't aware of this band until a couple of days ago when their new album came out. I found the descriptive sticker quite interesting and gave it a listen, and enjoyed it immensely.

The band has a sound that I especially like. They use a Farfisa organ and play their guitars with a lot reverb and tremolo that is reminiscent of 60's surf bands (which I love).

I've been noticing a trend in indie/alternative music towards reverby guitar sounds (Beach House, Band of Horses, etc...), but it's rare to for a contemporary band to go so surfy.

An ideal set up for this sound is a vintage tube amp with spring reverb and a fender single-coil guitar like the jaguar, mustang or jazzmaster. That's why I bought my guitar (a jaguar baritone custom, which makes it even cooler than a regular jaguar):

I also have a silvertone 1484 tube amp from the 60's that is renowned for its spring reverb. Unfortunately it needs some repairs, and I don't have a speaker cabinet to go with it. But when I get that fixed it's going to sound amazing. Especially when I split the signal and use my bass amp to accentuate the bass frequencies, while using the silvertone for mids and treble.

Then all I'll have to do is learn to play before the trend gets old, and I'll be famous.