Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sinister is exactly that.

My Lady and I took a trek to the theatre last month with high, but reserved hopes for the new horror opus that had just hit screens entitled "Sinister".

Jaded and disappointed by the lackluster, cookie-cutter, over CGI-ed affairs that have passed for horror flicks in recent months, we were guarded.....

What we should have been was ready.

"Sinister" is horrifying from beginning to end.

I'm not just talking jump scares, I'm speaking of the very premise, atmosphere, use of shadow, the performances, successful (for once) non-repetitive use of the "found footage" formula, and the visuals added up to one scary flick.

Ethan Hawke, in a terrific performance is a cocky but stumbling True Crime author who has a tendency to get too close to his subjects, as proven by his track record on previous books.  He's investigating a missing girl, and the center of one of the most creepy horror film set-ups in years lies in his recently-purchased home, but connected to similar events dating back to the 60's and taking place across the country.

That's all I'm going to tell you, because I don't like to ruin things....let it happen, and unspool, don't read too much about this movie.

Do, though, go in with suspended disbelief, because people DO wander in the dark too much in this movie, and they DO have unrealistically poor hearing. That being said, this movie is a broken brake line roll down hill into some ugly territory.....


Friday, August 10, 2012

Welcome to the Cut Out Bin: Hormel Frank N Stuff.

Ok, some of you may be grossed out by this.
Back in the day, (which according to Dane Cook was a Wednesday) The think tank known as Hormel released a product on the unwitting public known as the Frankenweenie!! (nothing to do with Tim Burton's short film nor the upcoming feature film of the same name).

I'm kidding.  It should have been called that, though.

It was the named "Frank N Stuff", which was a hot dog stuffed with their semi-toxic beef pudding known as "Chili". I use the term Chili here loosely.

Obviously, I have no photographs of the packaging save for a video screen shot since there won't be, God willing,  any collectors of the packaging.   As it was in the cooler section of your local grocery store and was sold the same way as all hot dogs, in a thick plastic shrink wrap, there shouldn't be.  I thought I'd be able to dig up some marketing material from days gone by, but alas, no go.

But, thanks to the miracle of YouTube, there's this:


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Cut-Out Bin Volume One

There was so much cool stuff when I was only a lad (Oingo Boingo reference intended complete and full), and most of it's gone now. Some things you can read, listen to, collect, even eat. I'll start with the latterest. (I am fully aware as a writer of some aptitude, that latterest, is indeed, not a word.)

The Cut-Out Bin is a flashback to that.....

I like chocolate. I like caramel. Who wouldn't like the combination of both, with so much of them that they are in a measurable quantity, and just for giggles, braided? It happened. It did.

In England, Snickers is currently called Marathon. Poor Sods never knew.

I think this thing was two feet long or something, never the kind of thing that you can finish in one sitting. I mourn for it's loss,

and while I'm at it, I mourn for the loss of the Forever Yours bar for my poor sainted mother. She loved those things.....

Nowadays it's known as the Milky Way Dark, but there's no telling her that......

I love you, Mom.

I Hate This Movie!!

"That movie sucked. I hate that movie!" -- My girlfriend, Frani.

Now, Frani is exceedingly sweet, open minded, and very understanding. For her to scowl at a television screen and let a just-finished motion picture have it like that, is a rarity. It must have been awful.

So here, I go....I don't usually negatively review anything, but there's been a line crossed here.

Being a bit of a cinephile, I've seen a ton of movies. Not so many these last few years, but in the past. It takes a LOT for me to hate a movie. A lot. I can find something redeemable in almost anything. (Almost, is most certainly a key term in that cluster of words.) That being said, every once in a Bleu Cheese a piece of tripe floats by that makes me almost as angry as Waldorf Salad or Dexter from The Offspring.

Enter "The Time Traveler's Wife". Time travel movies defy logic as part of their very existence, obviously. There's no exception here. But when it happens here, it's so muddy, that you find yourself looking at the person you're viewing the film with, (lucky me in this case, the breathtaking Frani) and saying "The What Who?"

You don't know thanks to the terrible plotline, which version of the Time Traveler (Eric Bana) you're watching. All of the characters in this flick are terribly underwritten anyway, so you don't care when it ventures into tear-jerker territory. Now, before you go all "He's a guy, he doesn't get it!", I happen to enjoy the occasional "Chick Flick", (hate that term), and I knew that's what this was before watching it.

It doesn't excuse it.

I didn't like any version of the people in this movie, past, present, or future, and that dooms a flick. It's hard to root for people you don't like. Eric Bana is about as enjoyable to watch as a slow growing headache. Rachel McAdams, the put-upon wife of a man who time travels on accident when stressed out, ( I know, What the Hell? Wouldn't most of us like to go somewhere far away when life becomes a crapstorm?) acts so belligerent half the time, it's hard to empathize with her. She knew Bana did this.....

The movie becomes a muddy mess that doesn't make a whole lot of sense from the get-go, so I found myself just grieving for the loss of time I spent watching it.

Well, I did get to cuddle with my girl while watching it, so I guess it was actually a very good viewing experience. But still, this movie has to go.....really.....if some version of me could travel back in time and erase it, I would...


Friday, July 6, 2012

New Wave not in the Grave

When most people look back at New Wave, it's "mope rock" terminology thrown in the air a lot. I tend to disagree with that sentiment. No question, there's a huge darkness element, but I love the vibe, the ethereal "feel" to it.....

Now most people throw in Joy Division, Bauhaus, and even get as arbitrary as OMD, Kraftwerk, or New Order, but there is an excellent second level.....

Don't leave out Dream Syndicate, and don't forget the New Model Army, these are fresh names you probably haven't thought of in the Cure's backyard. Take a swing in different directions outside of Adam & the Ants and Gary Numan.....

Because they're out there, ya know. Hiding behind Echo & the Bunnymen putting out albums entitled "Pop Said" and "Entertainment" , and calling themselves the English Beat and Gang of Four. Slamming us with songs like "Reuters" and "That's the Essence".....

They're hiding in the Shadows, like these guys, as relevant as ever.....

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Some Words in Cyberspace from "The Testament"

My words on Antonio's latest CD have popped under his internet home to order his real-life in the flesh, non download CD. Have a look-see.

"Read More" there at the bottom, kiddies.

Buy Yourself a physical disc while you're there.

You're welcome.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Kung Pao and Coca Cola

After an evening to a dining establishment my newly southern butt has never been to, this one being Pei-Wei Chinese, I made a couple of discoveries.

One is there's a lot of stuff I haven't tried. Frances, my fantastic sultry girl and muse, trying to culture me a bit, turned me on to some pretty good food that I really wasn't expecting to like.

Two is the Coca Cola Freestyle machine.


This thing is amazing. It seems like an appliance everyone should have...

Okay, that's a bit.....excessive, but still. The breathtaking love of my life that brought me to Pei Wei in the first place even enjoyed the beverage I selected, Mello Yello Peach, and she's not much of a soda drinker.

Mello Yello not your bag? Try Vanilla Sprite or Orange Coke. Seriously.

100 varieties plus are available in this thing.....

I don't post much about food or drink, but this device is pretty slick. You can even download a memory game app for your iPhone, or play the Freestyle game on line, and the site will let you know where to find a Freestyle machine near you.

Not exactly life changing, but I dig it. And yo, Chinese Food is pretty good too, if done right.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Rockumentary, Schmockumentary

It's ridiculous.
It really is. There's a lot of Rock documentaries out there, and I've seen a slew. Very few of them offer much more than the old VH-1 ".....and then they hit rock bottom" descending narrative we all know and hate....

But there's a few good ones. Trust me. Have I ever let you down?

There's bands that have had too many made about them. Lord knows, their egos were big enough before being puffed up by celluloid dramatization.

Then there are those that should have had movies made about them that haven't. And chances are they won't. A big swing and a miss was taken earlier this year, when a documentary was made about Replacements fans and not the band themselves....come on, Really?

Big Star had one made on them last year, and I am still trying to track it down without spending a mint.
It also was just finished within the last year.

So, here's my faves.....

1. "Getting the Knack" A solid flick that does a great job examining the working class route of Doug Fieger and the boys, and the downfall that was undeserved....This was finished before the deaths of Bruce Gary, drummer extraordinaire, and Fieger, or it could have been a great testament to the lives of two enormous characters and talents.

2. "We Jam Econo" Another band with unfortunate death surrounding them, the Minutemen's story is born of friendship, fertilized with a great catalog, and ended like so many do, prematurely, with the van crash death of D. Boon. This one had nothing to do with drugs. Bassist Mike Watt has a few moments in interview moments that are downright heartbreaking. Some great rare footage here, and you will also be educated on why George Hurley is the best drummer that ever lived, and more than likely was a better surfer.

3. "End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones" A really well researched and interviewed film....The truest of the tragedies are documented, but grew deeper after the film's end.....Nonetheless, a great film, but tough to absorb if you're a big fan. I wrote a piece on this blog called "The Ramones and the Shakespearean Traedy" and this movie was referred to in the essay. Tough sell to the uninitiated.

4. "The Filth and the Fury" If you don't think that the Sex Pistols weren't the biggest bunch of knobs that ever walked out of the UK, this film will illustrate it for you. Malcolm McLaren really needed to be slapped. The footage of the "Dirty F@#ker" talk show moment is included here. The John Lydon quote "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?", more a statement than a question, which came at the end of the only American tour they ever played in support of "Never Mind the Bollocks" also was filmed and included here. It's title sums it up. As great as their record was, the Pistols' history was black and awful.

5. "Can You Hear the Wind Howl?" Legend begets greatness. Robert Johnson is surrounded by legend. The delta bluesman whose backdrop basically created the sold soul storyline has a rich history, and it's documented greatly here. There were only two photographs taken of the man, so no one could begrudge the filmmakers usage of reenactment footage here, starring Keb Mo in many sequences....despite it's cable tv "docudrama" feel, the movie works.....

I love movies, and when I can learn something, I love them all the more.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Best of the Dallas Films

As a newfound resident of Texas, and an unflappable film buff, I've decided to amalgamate the two and list my 5 favorite Dallas movies, whether located there, or shot there. This should be interesting. As the green witch in the "Woody Woodpecker" cartoons used to say upon take off on her brooms...."....and away we go!!"

5. "The Killer Shrews" 1959 black and white uber-b movie, this is a trash classic indeed. It stars a very young Roscoe P. Coltrane, James Best, as the hero, and the title is self explanatory. Very drab, despite the black and white, thanks to the dirty fields the bulk of the film takes place in. It's supposed to be an island locale, but "I ain't buyin' it."

4. "Talk Radio" I wrote a full piece on this on my blog as it is one of my favorite movies of all time. Eric Bogosian, playwright at the time, now character actor plays an asshole shock jock in the lead with a late night talk show called "Night Talk". Beautifully shot, Dallas looks glorious at night. Oliver does night skies and neon very well, and a shadowy radio booth never seemed so diabolical or oddly enough, pretty.

3. "Frailty" Shot in California, nevertheless Texas is well represented by it's Lone Star cast, Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, and Powers Boothe. Paxton directs a movie with a swirling timeline and twists galore that paints it's evil in uncertain corners. The movie is scary, odd, suspenseful and you won't really know where it is going until it finally takes you there. Highly recommended.

2. "Silent Rage" This laughable Chuck Norris flick is a combination of horror, martial arts, poorly executed romance, poorly executed cautionary tale, and lastly poorly executed Stephen Furst humor. Nonetheless, like a bad accident, you can't take your eyes off of it. It bridges the gap between Indie Chuck Norris and "Missing in Action" Cannon Norris. Quite a pedigree, indeed. Film history...

1. "The Rookie" Another Texan in a Texas movie, this is quietly one of the best performances of Dennis Quaid's quietly remarkable career. He plays real life late bloomer and big leaguer Jim Morris, who inexplicably develops a blazing fastball and makes the majors at an incredibly unexpected age. Nicely done, it doesn't suffer from the rah-rahs, it's quietly uplifting without being sappy. Too bad the same can't be said of it's trailer.

Friday, March 30, 2012

No Second Fiddle

The Minneapolis post-punk explosion marked an onslaught of bands that could claim to be the voicebox of Midwestern Youth. Depending on your angle.
They all, somehow, were what "The Kids" could cling to. The kids with Patchouli on, hanging at record stores, patching skateboard injuries, finding a way to stick a Soul Asylum sticker on something, while walking the streets at night with headphones on, wondering if anything would ever feel like home again.
Someone out there, got it. Even if they were Viking or Twins fans with guitars.
No matter how you hash it out, it's no secret that the Replacements led the charge, for better or for worse. They somehow, despite a lack of political leanings, an inability to connect with their audience, and a degree in bridge burning, were the most popular band out of the Mosquito state.
As much as I love the 'Mats, Husker Du should play no second fiddle to anyone. Ever.
Raw guitars, plenty of hooks, a bevy of material, and partially acoustic sets should have had them right up there with Westerberg and the boys. The Replacements fell apart because they gave a crap too late. The Huskers had other reasons. Paul and the boys lasted for two major label LPs. (Do not make a mistake and count "All Shook Down" as one of them, it was Paul's first solo LP). Husker Du, also two, the melancholy "Candy Apple Grey" and "Warehouse"
They were just as good, and a recent retrospective look back showed that to me. I love, absolutely love "Flip Your Wig". Here's one of many reasons why:

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cheap Trick: Defining Perennial

I wrote a piece several years ago that remains unpublished, sort of one I prefer to "keep in the clip", as it were. I hate firearms and their analogies, but since I write from the hip, I'll leave it.

It's called "AC/DC at my side". Sort of a look back at how that Australian group of hooligans remained in my life and the public eye like a "rock and roll Forrest Gump".

I guess that could apply to Cheap Trick as well. Some will accuse them of being fluff, but that's awful short-sighted. They are worthy and deserving of much more than that for several reasons. Rick Nielsen, Tom Petersson, Bun E. Carlos, and Robin Zander popped up out of Rockford, Illinois, stepped in the Leprechaun's pot o' gold, and became one of the biggest bands in the world (a couple of times) and did it almost accidentally and in the most odd way.

One of their biggest hits came off of their fourth LP, (which was live, no less) containing an odd track introduction, "This is the first song off of our new album, it just came out this week, and it's called 'Surrender'", which indicates that this album, "At Budokan", was released not long after a studio LP. Odder still they bucked the trend of 70's Double Live LP, making "Budokan" a single platter, with the opener and closer, "Hello There" and "Goodnight" mirroring each other save for the interchangeable title lyrics. An obvious waste of album space in my eyes, as the entire concert, available now, had scads of material that could have been utilized.

Odd, indeed.

But I get away from myself here.
Right now, people steadily join the cult of the Replacements, following them to Big Star, and the death of Alex Chilton has also raised awareness. Truly, the historical kings of  American Power Pop are that Tennessee foursome, but Cheap Trick was right there with their melodies, scorching guitar work, and charismatic members. The latter of these being very visually obvious.

The band has had their ups and downs, from the short-lived Jon Brant era, to the decline of the early to mid 80's, to the huge upswing of the end of that decade, and another pitfall before hitting the public eye again with the theme from "That 70's Show". (Oddly co-written by Alex Chilton himself).
There's a lot of "70's" (unfair term for them, that) bands wandering the County Fair Classic Rock Circuit, but Cheap Trick are among the few that hold that original framework together, and continue to bring out fresh, pertinent material to this day.

 I just wanted to make that clear, I'm not looking back at them here, although I did use the past to push the button on the flashlight that I am now directing on them today. The Trick within the last handful of years, while touring extensively, has released a full album of new material and recorded their take on "Sgt. Pepper" in it's entirety.

Hard work, this rocking. And they could teach today's youngsters a few lessons. You can't teach an old dog new tricks. Especially Cheap ones.

Long live Cheap Trick.
....and with that, here's what's what:

Where have you gone, Joe Strummer?

I recently watched "Grosse Point Blank" and forgot that Joe Strummer had done the score.

He was the lead vocalist and left handed rythym guitarist for the Clash, and yes he played right handed. My fingers hurt just thinking about it.
Digressing rapidly, he was a gifted musician, writer, and social activist.
He died way too young.

I know Havana 3AM is Paul Simonon's band, but that's not the point. I recently re-discovered this track that burned hard and bright for a short period of time, and it made me think of Joe.

"Earthquake Weather" aside, Mescaleros aside, and hell, even Mick Jones' bizarre Big Audio Dynamite aside, and these mentioned Havana guys aside too...

I miss them.
I miss Joe.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Devil is in the Details

Antonio Estevan Huerta's last album, "Your Shrine" was a sweeping amalgam of feel and energy. I know because I declared it as such right here on "Last Will".

I can't describe how refreshing it was to feel such emotion packed into so many songs no matter the tempo.

On "Your Shrine" AEH wore his heart on his sleeves.

On his latest, the upcoming platter "The Devil You Know", he's rolling them up.

Methinks Huerta has emotion to spare, so make no mistake, everything he does will contain a lot of it. But "Devil" also has edge, and in spades.

It's darker, it's a bit leaner, and a lot tougher.

Not many recording artists have the ability to bare their souls and do it with a ton of hooks. Just look as far back as Roger Waters and as recently as Paul Westerberg. Soul spilling isn't easy when you want to be catchy too. It's tough. Huerta does it well, and does it often.

You can smell influences here, but Antonio is himself musically, and lyrically, he's a poet.

"Motorcycle", the excellent opener, reminds me vaguely of The Cure at the outset, before revving up (pun intended) into some very angry and disarming (but not remotely wrong as the record unspools) imagery and message sending.


The devil doesn't either as he's being spoken to on "Her Stars (The Devil Song)", a banging second track. Written on travelling wheels from Prague (during a marathon), to Iceland, back to Paris, it eventually became concrete in Brooklyn. "Her Stars" is obviously a manifesto...the devil can take a lot from you, but the heart is everlasting and possessive. Even Satan can't take what really belongs to you inside. (Huerta's lyrics can be personal on many levels, and vague enough to interpret as your own. I love to think of the content of this song as my own.)

The devil is a bit of a theme on this record, and Huerta is not a stranger to thematic elements. From rats and their tracks, to pigeons and paradise, to the morningstar himself, Huerta likes underlaying a string through his lyrics. In an upcoming interview I will ask Antonio about his thematic lyrical nature, because, frankly, "I Gots To Know".

Huerta's voice, which has always been good, is a flowing, reaching, and comfortable swimmer on this album. His band is strong and confident, a machine let loose to pound this material out efficiently and with extreme prejudice. Guitar and bass, both raw and achingly gentle, drums that flash just enough, are here and not to be forgotten or messed with.

"Scribble" and "You Can Be a Part of This" are emotion-laden mid-tempo rockers extending out to say something important and they succeed with a flourish. "You Can" is downright gripping. I listened to "Devil" in my car almost exclusively in and around Dallas, Texas, and that track especially will bring attention to all your surroundings. It could easily and successfully fit on any great classic rock album, but does not feel out of place one bit today.

"Esto Que Hacemos" is a gorgeous ballad sung entirely in Spanish, that is both hypnotic, relaxing, and very melancholy.....shades of "Shrine's" "Horses", but with more intensity...

"The Devil You Know", the title track, is easily the catchiest cut on the record, and will stick in your head for days, so prepare yourself for that. It's a good thing.

"Let it Go" and "Go Home" are nice finishers to a very strong, but suprisingly dark album from Antonio Estevan Huerta. He's been a sharp songwriter with or without collaboration, and a fine lyricist always, but you get the feeling on the third try, he's been set loose here....

Antonio has raised Cain with "The Devil You Know".

The hooks and the choruses are there, as you'd expect from him, but this time there's something, perhaps a New Jersey "Darkness on the Edge of Town" lying under the surface, waiting to be let out. Demons being shaken off his back, or perhaps a "Devil".

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

While You Can

Dedicated to the person who has seen someone in a painful relationship, and had to watch.....