British television has become an obsession of mine lately. This probably dates back to my childhood, when I would spend hours strangling the rabbit ears on my father’s TV set, desperately trying to tune in Doctor Who on PBS. Nowadays almost every obscure overseas program can be either rented, streamed or downloaded. You can say the floodgates have been opened. More Anglophile ranting
Archive for the Rants Category
“Here is a list of incorrect things” – M.E. Smith
I’ve managed to see some really great shows lately. Urge Overkill was last week. Sloan and Swervedriver each play in June, so I couldn’t be happier.
I’m obsessed with Psychoville, the new show from Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton of League of Gentlemen. Why isn’t this available legally in the U.S.? Stupid Limeys. Just kidding!
Film-wise, I’ve been enjoying the work of Enzo G. Castellari. His films are laughably bad at times and quite brilliant at others. At his best, he is a master of combining striking visuals with dissonant music. He’s directed films in several classic genres including spaghetti western, giallo, Italian crime or “Poliziotteschi”, post-apocalyptic sci-fi, and even Jaws rip-offs. I love how he uses the same character actors in many of his films. His most famous work is probably Inglorious Bastards, due to the remake. I haven’t watched that one yet, because frankly I’m tired of World War II. I finally watched Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers, so I’m done.
A chance trip to the liquor store yielded the latest issue of Horror Hound, which is all about the greatest year in horror films, 1981. Totally worth the newsstand price.
Well, today is The Rapture. I’m off to crack open a beer and watch the ascension! Catch you heathens later.
I’m slowly reacquainting myself with the Internets after spending two weeks mostly offline. It was nice to go out and actually do stuff for a change. We threw ourselves a wedding reception in Ohio, took a honeymoon in Mexico, and returned home to the cats before any real damage was done to the apartment.
During this time I was laid off from my job, which I had been expecting. I have lots of ideas about how I’m going to spend my time now: Finishing up old projects that have been pushed aside, outlining new ones, and of course, figuring out how I’m going to make a living from now on.
I also caught a cold the minute I arrived back in L.A. So although this is my first week off work, it feels like I’m just out on sick leave.
Anyway, while I was off gallivanting around the continent, the zombie film I scored appeared online. Now you can watch the entire seven minute epic A Tale of Two Zombies in its entirety. Between you and me, this blows The Walking Dead out of the water. I’m just sayin’.
It should also go without saying that I am available for soundtrack work, so hit me up if you are a filmmaker with an interesting project in need of some atmosphere.
I haven’t said much about television in awhile, but don’t worry: it’s not all slashers and campers over here. I’ve also been keeping up with one or two shows. The current shows I follow, for various reasons, include: Doctor Who (I like the new Doctor, stories are average to forgettable), True Blood (this is mainly the fault of the wife-to-be, but there are some genuine laughs in between all the wincing), Justified (wasn’t too impressed at first, but it built to a great season finale), Boondocks (awesome), and Treme.
Dear Alternative Rock Songwriters:
You can stop writing songs about how you will always love your ex-girlfriend even if you’re apart, and she’ll never be alone, because you will always be there for her. Newsflash: She doesn’t care about you, and she ain’t coming back. Furthermore, you are risking getting a restraining order placed on your emo ass if you don’t STFU.
The same applies to guys pining over their female “best friend.” If she wanted to fuck you, it would have happened by now. If she did fuck you, but continues to fuck other guys, that means she isn’t ready for a relationship. In either case, your throaty histrionics are not going to sway her like the final third of a goddamn John Cusack movie.
The only exceptions to this rule are if:
1. You are Journey. OK, in 1982, “Seperate Ways” was a kick ass song. The only other examples of the creepy pining boyfriend in popular song lyrics back then were intentionally played as stalker anthems (I’m looking at you, The Police), so your heart on the sleeve approach was refreshing. Today we laugh at the silly video with the tight pants and wall-mounted synthesizer, but secretly we still think it kicks ass.
2. You are Lou Barlow of Sebadoh. As much as I hated “Willing to Wait” when it came out, damn if your girlfriend didn’t come back and marry you. OK Lou Barlow: you win this round!
It is important to note that not all neurotic songwriters fall into this category. For example, David Gedge of The Wedding Present and Jarvis Cocker of Pulp have each written their share of songs about wanting the one you can’t have. But these guys are masters of deadpan wit, and rarely come off as overly sentimental or cliched (much like their patron saint, Morrissey).
If a goth whines in the forest, does Robert Smith hear it?
Full disclosure: I may have been guilty of writing one or two of these “I’ll be here in case you change your mind” songs in the past. But no one has been forced to listen to my music via commercial radio stations and satellite feeds pumped into cafeterias and gymnasiums throughout the Western world (see my earlier post Get Off the Radio). My embarrassments have, for the most part, been my own (although this will probably change once I really start to dig into the cassette archives for future uploads).
And lest I sound bitter: I’m happily engaged, and like to think I have a healthy attitude about women these days. But when I hear some tattooed douchebag singing half-assed lyrics about lost love in his finest Eddie Vedder constipation voice over a bed of digitally compressed guitars, it makes the Native American Stereotype in me cry a solitary tear at how my people’s music has been cheapened. Either that, or he wants to throw a large appliance through the window and walk right out of the goddamn asylum like Will Sampson at the end of Cuckoo’s Nest.
I know I haven’t posted in a while. So what was so important that I felt compelled to awake from my lethargic slumber after three months and attempt to enlighten the online masses, you ask? Was it anger at the right-wing attempt to sideline health care reform? Disgust over the media zeal surrounding the Tiger Woods scandal?
No, it was exasperation at the fact that James Franco is playing Allen Ginsberg in a new film called Howl.
Now, I have nothing against Franco. He was great in Freaks and Geeks. That episode where he learns to play D&D? Priceless.
But let’s face it. He’s a good-looking guy, better suited to portraying James Dean than Ginsberg. I mean, here is James Franco:
And here is Ginsberg:
What, David Cross wasn’t available?
I mean, this trend of hiring handsome young actors to play average-to-weird looking people has got to stop. I don’t care if you’re Christian Bale or Jared Leto – you are putting some talented, average looking character actor out of work. Stop it! And shame on you, Hollywood casting agents. There are enough Spiderman, Terminator and Glitter Vamp sequels to go around for all the dreamy hunks of Tinseltown. Find the best actor for the role, both in talent and physicality. Am I supposed to be impressed by the “range” of these pretty boy actors? Give me a break.
And while we’re at it, Tim Burton – get off Johnny Depp‘s nuts. No one needs to see that guy play Barnabas Collins.
Honestly, I don’t mind Top 40 music. There is a time and a place for it. When I was a kid, I loved being able to find the latest hits just by flipping between two or three stations on my transistor. I knew that once the new Duran Duran jam had debuted on my favorite station, I would only have to wait ten minutes tops before I could hear it again, on my other favorite station.
As I grew older, my tastes became (slightly) more refined, and I drifted away from the mainstream radio stations. Now that I have access to mp3s, I find mainstream radio to be completely obsolete. Plus, the music itself has grown arguably worse in the post-grunge, post-metal, post-hip-hop (yes, hip-hop is dead, folks) era. Unfortunately, the Top 40 has lived on, and now there are entire satellite radio feeds dedicated to regurgitating the most brain numbingly irritating hits of the past three decades.
I recognize that this music has its place: On top 40 radio stations, in dance clubs, or in the private homes of people with horrible taste in music. But why does it need to be pumped into every single public space at top volume? I should be allowed to eat my lunch outside in peace without being bombarded by songs about love, sex, and dancing. Of course this makes me seem like a bitter old man, and I’m reminded of the Robert Crumb cartoons where the artist would rail against the ubiquitous nature of popular music. At least when Crumb first started bitching about it, the music was actually halfway decent. I think even he would admit now that The Doors are infinitely preferable to…uh…I really have no idea who any of these “artists” are. They all sound the same to me.
What’s that you say? Obama wants to feed me to robots? Speak up, sonny! I can’t hear you over the din of this horrible popular music!