Sunday, January 31, 2010

I did not live blog the Grammys

(though these people did, and so did these people and these people)
more relevant than ten years ago does not equal relevant.

instead I was busy watching UNC get embarrassed (a mere two points in the first 6 1/2 minutes of the second half) by UVA (sure, we expected them to be better with Tony Bennett, but not 20 points better in Chapel Hill).

current look: serious hang-dog

Thursday, January 28, 2010

J. D. Salinger has died

which in the current discussions of whether the iPad/Kindle platform will finally deal the death blow to publishing, a reminder, albeit an unpleasant one, that once upon a time fiction mattered.

from the Times . . .

Monday, January 25, 2010

free reading and disturbing news

last week the results of the Village Voice's Pazz & Jop poll were let loose upon the world (here are my picks; I obviously didn't listen to as much "new" music in 2009 as my selections were much more in line this year than in any previous poll) and the collection comes with a number of essays generally grouped into something akin to a rather loose State of the Music banner.

and just before the weekend, the Times ran an interesting piece based on interviews with the still elusive Frank Serpico (yes, that Serpico).

and in breaking local news, Tishman Speyer, the purchaser in the nation's largest residential real estate transaction ever, returned the property purchased, Stuyvesant Town, to its creditors.
(the above pic features Omaha, NE natives Tilly & the Wall performing (or maybe taking a break from performing) on the Stuy Town premises (we got thrown out shortly after))

plus its raining something fierce here.
which may be a symbol that God is muchly angry with the news that the Department of Justice (as reported by CNBC (on-air; the news doesn't appear to have reached their website yet)) will be approving the proposed Live Nation merger with Ticketmaster.
prepare to start staying home a lot more.

album of the day: Vic Chesnutt's West of Rome
Vic was good for a rainy day even before the suicide, and if you own no Vic at all please give "Where Were You" a listen.
both beautiful and heartbreaking (even before the suicide).

Friday, January 22, 2010

some random thoughts following the last two movies I ever saw

the entirely unintentional theme could've, should've been Best Actress Golden Globe winners of the past few years as we saw Away With Her (Julie Christie) and Julie & Julia (Meryl Streep) over the last two nights (also Carolina's record-setting third loss in a row).

I was a bit scared heading into Away as Alzheimer's is pretty much, to quote my new friend Buster, my "second greatest fear." and that's actually probably selling it short.
but we tried since it was coming on IFC and isn't available on Netflix's instant play and we're thinking about killing the cable.

any thoughts there?
our trial session of Hulu has left me less than impressed and, of course, there doesn't appear to be an answer to the sports void we'd be creating (at least until ESPN360 works a deal with PS3).
but we watch TV together - just the one large television in the one somewhat large room - and I feel rather selfish for anything past Carolina basketball (this time of year at least).
and it's really not the $70 a month (though that sounds ridiculous for cable) as much as there really isn't much to watch on non-network TV and the customer service (I'm guessing I don't need to repeat) is the worst.
I may well receive $70 worth of satisfaction telling Time Warner that we're pulling the plug. but I won't relish having to head to a sports bar when the first Duke-Carolina game is played (I think ESPN usually gets the first and network usually gets the second).

anyway, Away With Her is good movie. strong movie. excellent performance by the entirely lovely Ms. Christie and not as depressing as I expected.
and to the best of my knowledge (because we do not live in Canada), none of the movie was filmed anywhere close to our apartment.

however, a good portion of Julie & Julia was.
Julie's apartment can't be much more than a mile from here, if that, and at least two scenes were filmed on the next avenue over (including the scene just before the scene pictured above).
not as close as Nurse Jackie (Jackie's husband owns a bar that is maybe 120 yards from where I'm sitting now), but still pretty damn close.
I guess I should be more surprised, given the proximity of Silver Cup, that more "outer boroughs" movies and shows aren't filmed in the neighborhood.

Contra, by the way, is better the tenth or twelfth time you listen (as opposed to the one and a half times a recent post was based on). still not a fan, at all, of the opening track.

so Julie & Julia, for the two of you who aren't aware, is a movie based on a book based on a blog by a young woman in Long Island City, Queens, New York, the United States, North America, Earth, etc.
and she began her blog as she began working her way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking (the blog being some kind of reminder/reinforcement so that she wouldn't let her project drop).
and that's great. wonderful. good for her.

but I think I'm just a little too self-conscious to try such a thing.
I mean, the blog, this blog has it purposes (though admittedly I've killed it in my very own head on more than one occasion).
if nothing else it gets some writing done when the prose is rusty, and so it'd be great if I was just knocking out the word count and keeping it all for myself in order to return and cannibalize later as necessary.
but of course if you're never going to show it to anyone, why bother writing it in the first place? (one self-defeating argument might go)

an aside, particularly for those of you who are scared to ask/mention/broach the topic of the Tusk book (for good reason actually) . . .
the manuscript has been turned in once again with the only major (if you can call 1000 words major) change being the addition of an introduction which, I assume, is supposed to be some combination of a warning shot/statement of purpose/disclaimer.
I'll find out soon enough, I guess, if that's NOT what my publisher/editor had in mind.
in any case, in the on again/off again world of big-time (and small-time) publishing, it did actually seem like Tusk was off-again for quite some time. at least long enough for me to do the whole gulp, swallow and accept thing.

but the situation changed (and maybe one day I'll talk/write about it) just about a month ago. one particular day out of a string of two or three really good days (I write that to remind myself that strings of two or three really good days really do happen, if only sporadically). and it looks like the Tusk book will finally see the light of day sometime this spring, maybe early summer (even being on both ends of the publishing process on numerous occasions I still don't have a good handle on how long this stuff actually takes because so very, very much of it is completely out of my hands).

so back to the neighborhood, Julie & Julia and just what the hell blogs are for.

now that Tusk is once again out of my hands, it's more than time, past time one might say, to get on with the next project.
and I've known what I want to do (or at least one of the things I want to do) for quite some time.
and really I should've plowed in, if not when I turned in Tusk the first time at least when we returned from the odd (in that we took one) vacation (I turned in Tusk via e-mail and was on a plane less than four hours later, if memory serves).

excuses, excuses.
I really didn't produce much in 2009, though I feel good about Tusk (doubt that others will feel as good about Tusk but I certainly feel good about Tusk) and I guess that ought to count for something (it damn well better, otherwise you (meaning me) are having to look back on a pretty much wasted year).

anyway, I've know what I want to do next for quite some time and it's pretty much time to, you know, get started on it.
but I'm a little hesistant, nervous (understandable, I think) about just how to start.
have even thought about posting an ad on Craigslist.
which I'm not opposed to.
in fact, I think I'll probably get there eventually (actually probably within the next month and a half but that's another story), but I don't know that I actually want to start that way.

so here's what I need/want:
I'm looking to talk to and possibly interview people who have lost their job involuntarily some time in the past two years (call it January 1 of 2008, though I can't imagine anyone actually got let go on that day).
and yes, Conan O'Brien would qualify. or will in the next 48 hours. so if you know Conan, please have him contact me.

doesn't matter if the person who lost the job has found another job, hasn't found another job or has given up looking for another job. does not matter.
does not, does not.
I just want to speak with folks who, for whatever reason, lost a job involuntarily some time in the past 106 and a half weeks.

if that's you or someone you know, please hit the Comment box (I won't post any communication on this topic unless you specifically say that it's okay or you actually want your comment to be posted) and keep me off of Craigslist for at least the time being.

muchas grassyass.

(post-script: looks like the Tusk pub date is now July)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

dear Tennessee fans

before you go burning any more defenseless mattresses, remember that loyalty is a two-way street.

and while I'm sure Phil Fulmer is looking pretty good right now, remember that it was Fulmer who, in 1992 as the interim football coach, went to Athletic Director Doug Dickey while head coach Johnny Majors recuperated from heart surgery and basically said, Make me the head coach by season's end or I'm out of here.
yep, Fulmer's about as loyal as the Tennessee fans who got him fired a little more than a year ago.

there's a wonderful and appropriate song on Big Star's Radio City album (though the link goes to their recent box set) called "You Get What You Deserve."

or maybe Nelson Muntz said it best . . .

Monday, January 11, 2010

shocking news!!!

today we learned that not only did Mark McGwire use steroids, but Sarah Palin will be joining Fox News (you know, the "fair and balanced" guys) as a political commentator.

if you also had the sun coming up this morning, I'm thinking you've got a pretty good shot at that office pool parlay.

by the way, today only, Vampire Weekend's Contra, officially released tomorrow, is just $3.99.

Friday, January 8, 2010

if it's a Turner Classic movie marathon

then it must be Elvis' birthday.
or his death day.
but that's in August, so it's his birthday.
Mr. Presley would've turned 75 today.

Spinout, Roustabout and Girl Happy are over and gone, Speedway's on now (with Nancy Sinatra and Bill Bixby (Eddie's Father) and Gale Gordon (Mr. Mooney of Here's Lucy fame)) with Blue Hawaii, Viva Las Vegas and Jailhouse Rock yet to come.
conspicuous in its absence, Elvis' best: King Creole.

Happy Birthday King.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


lost in my relief that the BCS National Championship wouldn't be on Fox, I forgot that watching the game on ABC means three and a half hours of Brent Musburger.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Vampire Weekend: the new album

so the official release date is exactly one week away, and while certain music writing big wigs have had the new Vampire Weekend album for some time (Rolling Stone, Spin and the Chicago Sun-Times (among others) have, despite the holidays, already posted reviews), certain other music writing small wigs (me, for instance) got our official download file yesterday.

Rolling Stone laid out four out of five stars (and one commenter accurately pointed out that the reviewer "gushed," had nothing bad to say about the music (but managed a rich boy bitchslap ("Koenig still comes across as a kid who brings his laundry home to Mom"), so why not five stars?), as did Spin.
DeRogatis HATES the album (and the whole idea of Vampire Weekend, that is, privileged Ivy League kids adopting, without much complaint, the music of the world's poorest continent when someone with Paul Simon's track record couldn't get away with it 23+ years ago (of course, you don't hear much about Sun City nowadays either)), doling out the minimum (he has to give at least one, right?) one star out of four.
and high schoolers throughout the midwest came out in force to tell him that he was too old to be reviewing music.

I've listened to Contra approximately one and a half times and while it doesn't have the instantly catchy tunes the self-titled debut did (easy enough to figure out in a listen and a half), the group does appear to stick to their stylistic guns. you can name the band in maybe a note or two (that's a Name That Tune reference just in case any of DeRogatis' commenters are lurking (Google it; I don't have the will to explain) and it certainly sounds like they're making a bona fide effort.
which doesn't mean they're succeeding necessarily.

yeah, I need some more time, but I can't imagine this being in the record of the year discussion 11 months from now (flashback one year to the early annointment of Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion), nor does it provide worthwhile fodder for the early haters gathering at their keyboards (though since the guys are all obviously muy intelligente I'm going to assume the album title is merely a bad joke rather than a poorly researched, really stupid decision; in any case . . . )

final verdict (based on a listen and a half): Vampire Weekend has done better and they'll almost certainly do worse.

last book I ever read: Andrew Ross Sorkin's Too Big To Fail
verdict: recommended

last movie I ever saw: The Good German
verdict: disappointing

best deal of the last two weeks: $5 Billabong shorts at a T. J. Maxx in Birmingham, Alabama
verdict: I wish it was summer already (for, oh, so many reasons)