Archive for the ‘Movies, books, music I like or don't like’ Category

September 9, 2010

I haven’t watched it yet, but it’s got to be as awesome.

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DON’T WANT.

September 9, 2010

“The Sandman,” the Neil Gaiman-penned comic book series considered a seminal work in the medium, is in the early stages of being developed into a TV series.

I was Death for Halloween, back in college.

…Geez, nearly 15 years ago. I am old. Can I tell you, that black hairspray color is a BITCH. I don’t recommend it.

I amandafuckingpalmer hate Amanda Palmer.

July 21, 2010

WBC and me

May 28, 2010

I don’t remember how I first heard of Westboro Baptist. It’s been a while…they’re sort of hip to hate, right now. It was either from a funerary aspect (they were picketing soldier funerals, and I was reading an article about bikers getting together to form a wall around the mourners, and how steps were being taken to enact a new law about how close protesters can get to things like funerals – the law passed). Or, it was because of the over-the-top “god hates fags” webshows Fred used to do.

I’ve been following them for years, now  – for me, the theology is interesting…or not (reminder: if I’m talking about the New Covenant take me home).  What a lot of anti-WBC people don’t know or get is just how many “normal” or “average” Americans agree with Freddie boy, and secretly cheer his anti-homo efforts.

I last wrote about them in 2007, in my old blog:

Friday, April 06, 2007

 

A nightmare.

Like the worst sensationalist Dateline story, or a Lifetime movie from hell, the background of Westboro Baptist Church is pretty much exactly as I’d supposed: chock full of physical and emotional abuse.Rev. Phelps, as I suspected, and his wife, both come from abusive backgrounds.

“It turns out Mrs. Phelps was herself an abused child, according to her sons. “The only thing she ever told us about her dad was that he was a drunkard who beat them.”

Rev. Phelps had no mother (explaining the misogyny) and a bullying father. Though there’s never really any clear reason (as opposed to say, had he been beaten by his father or mother) for his…well, him.

“Fred Phelps had as normal and beautiful a home life as anyone ever wanted,” commented a relative who didn’t want their name used. “His childhood was very good,” says Hudson. “There was nothing in his family out of the ordinary.” “All I know is it’s a tragedy, and it stems from within Fred Phelps,” adds the anonymous relative, referring to the homosexual picketing. “It has nothing to do with his upbringing.”

Something happened, somewhere.

The normalcy I viewed in the BBC documentary,and my thinking that, picketing antics aside, they’re not that different from your average family, was evidenced:

“The pastor’s first-born, Fred, Jr., and his wife, Betty, were guests at the Clinton inauguration. The former northeast Kansas campaign manager for Al Gore in 1988 has a stack of VIP photos, such as the one of him, Betty, Al and Tipper, and even soon-to- be Kansas governor Joan Finney smiling and yucking it up at the Phelps’ place just a few years ago.”

I feel icky, now, and sad. Earlier I wondered how someone like that could be allowed to live freely…the violence detailed in the article exceeded my imagination (which, albeit, didn’t go very far. It was just obvious to me, from the first story I read about them a year or two ago, there was something very, very wrong). It’s mind-boggling how he was allowed to get away with, at times literal, murder.

Some excerpts:

“The stark contrast of the two masks-decent and repulsive, hateful and considerate, forthright and devious, stupid and clever-creates a polarity that begins to weigh on the observer. Contrasts frequently are the visible edge of contradiction. And contradictions sometimes arise from very deep and secret undercurrents. Currents of pain.”

“These reports contained allegations of persistent and poisonous child abuse, wife-beating, drug addiction, kidnapping, terrorism, wholesale tax fraud, and business fraud. In addition, Nate {one of four children – of 13 total- who left -nay, escaped} described the cult-like disassembly of young adult identities into shadow-souls, using physical and emotional coercion- coercion which may have been a leading factor in the suicide of an emotionally troubled teenage girl.”

Interestingly (?) he attended Bob Jones University for time:

“Phelps returned that autumn to Bob Jones, but left after a year without graduating. Later he would say he did so because the school was racist. In 1983, the IRS revoked the tax exemption of Bob Jones, accusing it of practicing racial discrimination.”

I just added that bit for the BJU slam.

“When a man in Fred’s new congregation came to him for marital counseling, the pastor recommended a good beating for the wife. The man followed his spiritual guide’s advice.

Later, he called the pastor to ask for bail: apparently separation of church and state didn’t apply to assault and battery. Phelps paid the confused Christian’s bail, but stuck to his guns: a former members of the early Westboro community remembers the following Sunday Pastor Fred was fiery in his message that a good left hook makes for a right fine wife: “Brethren,” preached Phelps, “they can lock us up, but we’ll still do what the Bible tells us to do. Either our wives are going to obey, or we’re going to beat them!”‘

I’m not even going to list the various abuses and punishments his children suffered. I could barely stomach reading it – and at times just let my eyes skim the accounts.

It also goes into all the lawsuits he’s filed – that’s how they afford their nice cars and big houses, and travel expenses and such. Since the 50s, he’s been sueing everybody, for every reason, under the sun.

Here’s a letter

, from the aforementioned son who left.

That article today did me in, my questions have been answered, my curiousity sated.

Now I just need a hot, hot shower to wash it all away, and some kitten snuggling.

I’m watching Fall From Grace, an excellent documentary WBC. It includes interviews with the Phelps, theologians*, family members of soldiers WBC picketed – and my favourite, the bikers who decided to show up and counter-protest with the noise of their Harleys, drowning out the hateful venom the picketers spew.

It is, of course, biased.  A movie could just show nothing but footage of WBC, and it’d be biased (towards intelligence and compassion) just on that, the rhetoric of the Phelps family is just so…outlandish. Absurd. Downright, abjectly hateful and angry. Sometimes it’s hard to watch and listen, to the stomach-churning ire…I appreciate the quiet narrative the filmmakers use, simply allowing the WBC footage to speak for itself, and the intelligent, well-thought counterpoints they provide from the aforementioned theologians, other Christians, etc.

Don’t fight hate with hate. Fight hate and ignorance with knowledge. I also appreciated a pastor saying it is fear, “the opposite of love is fear, and fear will always become an expression of hate, sooner or later.” The two children who left talk about how terrified they were of God (and their abusive father).  The pastor talks about how we cannot let fear keep us from loving someone.

Fear, abuse…so much of it making the world a bad, bad place.

I’ve just taken the time to read this very long article

, chronicling the rise of Rev. Phelps.

Ghosts Don’t Disappear

May 19, 2010

Unless Jennifer Love-Hewitt tells them to.

Ghosts Don’t Disappear, an EP from Jonah Knight, aka “Jonah of the Sea.” Singer-songwriter? Noooo! Wait, “singer-songfighter?” Ok. I’ll listen.

I downloaded Ghosts Don’t Disappear (but you should buy it! Do the $13 steal of a 3 CD deal and let me know what the mystery CD was…) – unbeknownst to me I listened to the tracks out of order. So, Jonah, if you’re reading this, mild apologies if you find that upsetting. Instead of writing review paragraphs that are 80% about me and other bands then mentioning the album towards the end, I’m going to go song-by-song and offer my thoughts, as I listened.

Elizabeth Feels Differently

Brings to mind Dan Bern and Mike Ill. A guy with a guitar and something to say, not necessarily a “singer-songwriter.” Jonah has made the wise choice to flesh out this song with backing instruments (lovely violin, in this song) and female vocals (strong and straightforward, complementing his rather than underpowering or overshadowing).

The lyrics make me think I know Elizabeth, too.

It’s reminding me of a lead singer from a punk band going acoustic and solo. It lacks the vocal…polish, let’s say, of a seasoned singer-songwriter but that’s also part of his charm.

 Far

Reminiscent of Rusty Belle  (a must-see band) and Damian Rice

“The songs on Ghosts Don’t Disappear cover subjects from post-apocalyptic love to being haunted by ghosts of departed girlfriends.”

 

Rhythm

Reminiscent of: Nashvillain Family Band

“Singer/Songfighter” – that’s cute. Nothing particularly “anti” or “fighty” in any of the songs on this EP, though.

“…Ghosts Don’t Disappear, is a collection of songs about being haunted, a subject that runs close to home. “My grandmother was a fortune teller,” said Knight…”

Not perky and uptempo a la that dude in the stairwell at college, making the girls swoon. Wistful and nostalgic and quietly pretty.

Someday We’ll All Be Ghosts

Reminiscent of: Avett Brothers

I will probably go download some more. I can’t say I’d listen to it on any sort of regular basis, but I’m curious to hear more, and I certainly know some s/s lovers who might dig it.

The Problem with Math

Least favourite song. First of all, it’s about MATH. Ew. Ok, fine, the mathy lyrics are clever enough, but I don’t feel they fit the timbre of the song, and he of crams a lot of words in at once – switching up the tempo and tone of the song would fit the lyrics and mood of the song better and give us a break from the Ryan Adamsesque wistful guitar pickin’. Which, assuredly, is good but I’d like to hear what else he can do. He admits from the get-go in this song that he’s not a poet so, in that sense, it’s a fun song as the non-poet sings a love song.

 Red House Painters! THAT’S who I’ve been trying to think of. If I had to pick one band, for comparison purposes, I think I’d go with Red House Painters.

If you like these famouser bands, you’ll like Jonah Knight:

Tallest Man on Earth

Lucero

Deer Tick

Drive-By Truckers

Lucinda Williams

Brandi Carlile

Poke around his website – you can listen to the album as you do (ie, stream and not download anything before you get to hear it – also nice: it doesn’t just start playing. That’s annoying.) When you move around the site, the player stays constant so you don’t lose the song you’re listening to. Very  nice feature. I signed up for the email list – the description reminded me of Adam Brodsky’s missives. You get six free songs, when you sign up (if you get others to sign up you get FORTY songs). Musicians wanting to just get their music out there is always refreshing. Shows us they care about the MUSIC, man!

He’s also written and directed a short film, “Shocks.”

Though flawed*, it’s worth a watch.

*Main flaw is the dialogue-less soundtrack. The music is great (though similar to his own music, and the bands I’ve mentioned) but inconsistent. I ain’t  reviewing the movie, though!

I’m reviewing the CD and I already told you to go buy it, and listen to it as you poke around his website, so GET TO IT!

Microcosm publishing

May 4, 2010

So here’s the best four dollars of your life: a zine with Danzig and Henry Rollins as lovers, pestered by their neighbors, Hall and Oates.

As the real-life Rollins says, quoted on the back cover, “Has Glenn seen this? Trust me, he would not be impressed.”

Microcosm also has awesome stickers and patches (and more, I’m sure, I just looked at stickers and patches!):

There’s even a self-portrait of me!

Kurt and Courtney

April 7, 2010

I can tell you exactly where I was when I found out Kurdt Cobain died. I was on the first floor bathroom of our house in Nurnberg. I had just gotten back from Ibiza (it was a youth group trip in the off-season, mind you). I was on the phone with my friend Rachel, who lived in Rammstein. She was VERY alternative. Shaved head except for long, curled sideburns (the girl equivalent). Her brother spelled his name “Jayson,” and he might be the first gay person I’ve ever known – or at least the first, looking back, that might have been gay. I never found out.

I was sprawled on the floor, on the phone with her, and she told me he’d shot himself.  

 For a “spirit” day I’d worn my old cheerleader’s uniform to school and wrote KURDT down my arm…a la the Teen Spirit video. Only a REAL fan would know that in the Bleach credits, that’s how he spelled his name.

 Opens with a photo of his body on the floor and segueways into an interview with an aunt, who has recordings of him as a toddler, singing and counting to ten. And again at 15, she has recordings of his “first tracks” on reel to reel.

 We can’t listen to the song, because Courtney threatened to sue the filmmakers (they say, having also claimed how difficult it was to make this investigative film. Did you see Who Killed Curt Kobain? Courtney Love and Mexican wrestler midgets or something like that).

 Thus far, this seems to be a fan’s documentary…interviews with people in Aberdeen who knew him as a kid (aunt, teacher, ex-girlfriend (“only love before he got famous,” attributes his heavily layered look to the fact he only weighed @ 120lbs, and got teased)…shots of the bridge he lived under that inspired Something in the Way, old family footage (man he was cute!)…all working towards the saga of Kurt and Courtney.

 Her dad thinks he was murdered…authored “Who Killed Kurt Cobain?” and shares early photos and life histry. While at reform school, she got “into the glamour of drugs.” Her boyfriend before Kurt has a suitcase of her crap – including her to-do lists of stuff like, “Become friends with Michael Stipes.” He is highly amusing. I like him.

 I met a boy at an MUN session in Den Haag…I forget where, I think his name was Jack, but it probably wasn’t. I remember our last exchange, in a hotel lobby. I told him he looked like Kurt Cobain, and he replied, “You kinda look like Courtney Love,” and we were smitten kittens.

 This documentary is also igniting my abiding passion for dirty, dirty rock and roll – and the fellas who play it. Halfway through we meet the guy who bought the gun K/Curt used who has little to add except that Kurt and Courtney were “obviously going through some turbulence” at the time – and they’d call him up simultaneously, asking for drugs and for him to not tell the other.

 The opening creepy corpse shot circles back mid-film, with the actual recording of two pals looking for Kurt and El Duce, the fella from Who Killed Curt Cobain that allegedly was paid 50 grand by Courtney to kill Kurt. They they try to ambush Courtney in her studio (fail).

 What started as a bio of sorts has gone back to the whole “whodunit?” that’s been rehashed thoroughly in the 10+ years since his suicide….and you know what? This is the same movie I saw so long ago…ha ha! I’ve already seen this movie. It does explain the hair, make-up and abodes of some of the interviewees, though. I’d wondered earlier how cute it was this chick was still sporting barrettes and big red lips.

 So yeah, definitely for fans only – and if you’re a fan, then you’ve already seen this! So…nevermind!

SCIENCE! Opera?

March 26, 2010

I’m flipping through channels and good ol’ PBS has a man, dressed like an ol’ timey scientist, singing. I’m intrigued. “PBS is showing Dr. Horrible?

And it’s an opera, now?”

But then there were…puppets? Dolls? Clowns? Nekkid ladies?

It was a glorious mish-mash of classical opera and the most burner-esque production I’ve ever seen…carnivale-y steampunk garish…awesome.

The Associated Press’ Ronald Blum wrote: “Sher’s dark new staging, which reflects the opera through a prism of Kafka and Fellini, will not be to everyone’s liking.

“There are Venetian courtesans prancing about in nothing more than high heels, panties, pasties and jewelry. They look like Vegas showgirls. Drunken bar revelers pretend they are dancing dwarfs who appear to be wearing Jewish prayer shawls.

“Throw in some clowns in white face with large red noses, various women in corsets and powdered wigs, and a few skeleton heads donning Carnival masks. At times the famous barcarole resembled the orgy from Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Eyes Wide Shut.’ “

I texted my friend, “science puppet opera on pbs!!” while I tried to think of the title – the one about the doll! Starts with a C! But it wasn’t Coppelia.

That’s a ballet, for one thing. It’s “The Tales of Hoffman,”  by Jacques Offenbach.

Wildly popular for his politically satirical and sexually “risque” operettas (imagine SNL set to music), Offenbach had developed an inferiority complex towards the great 19th Century Grand Opera composers such as Meyerbeer, Verdi, Wagner and Gounod, who were all the rage in Paris.

“Tales” is about the poet Hoffmann, who lets his unsuccessful love affairs get in the way of his work. His muse, who later appears as his friend Nicklausse, tries to keep him true to his art but in vain. (click for the full plot)

I think my jaw might have actually dropped, when Kathleen Kim (above) sang “The Doll Song.”

I found footage of Rachele Gilmore.

Unfortunately I had to go to bed (and the PBS/airing version doesn’t include the scandalous final scene), but apparently it all ends nice and bloody and tragic, Poetry takes Hoffman back from all his failed loves FOREVAH!

John Waters’ top 10 movies of 2009

March 10, 2010

1. Import Export
2. Antichrist
3. In the Loop
4. World’s Greatest Dad
5. Bruno
6. Lorna’s Silence
7. Broken Embraces
8. The Baader Meinhof Complex
9. Whatever Works
10. The Headless Woman

Read more: The Top Ten Films of 2009, According to John Waters | /Film http://www.slashfilm.com/2009/12/28/the-top-ten-films-of-2009-according-to-john-waters/#ixzz0hmq8vE4D

The only surprise – well, two surprises: that Robin Williams’ movie, really? And the ones that I haven’t seen/aren’t in my Netflix queue, I haven’t heard of.

Bruno – made me laugh. So much more than Borat. Except for picking on Ron Paul. Allll the assholes in government, and you pick him?

The Baader Meinhof Complex – As much as I love all things German, Communist and vintage, this movie ran too long for me. Interesting historically, I guess, but overall, didn’t really dig it.

1. Import Export
2. Antichrist
3. In the Loop

6. Lorna’s Silence

All in my queue – Antichrist actually played here, in our one-screen “art house” theatre that shows artsy movies about the time they’re on DVD, but I missed it. They also only run movies for a couple of days, two showings a day, too early and too late for me.

Also funny, I read about all those movies; Netflix jogged my memory. I just didn’t want to see them.

I feel like adding World’s Greatest Dad is John playing a joke on me…but I also didn’t know Bobcat G. wrote it. And it’s on Watch It Now, so I’ll be watching that today, probably. I’m not adding Broken Embraces, because I generally don’t like Pedro Almodovar movies. I also intentionally didn’t see Whatever Works, as I’m not a fan of Woody Allen or the Seinfeld guy who’s in Curb Your Enthusiam now.

Man, why don’t I get paid to write movie reviews? Just kidding. You are reading why.

I added The Headless Woman. I vaguely remember thinking it sounded a little heavy-handed for my tastes, but if John says so…

**Ok, I guess he picked WGD because it is about as black a comedy as they come? And “anti-family friendly?” It found it lagging…but it’s nice to watch Robin Williams perform without wanting to punch him. For understated faux-family comedy, The Weatherman is better.

I’ve had too much coffee today so I’d like to have a witty tittle about cowboys and wranglers and a movie round-up

March 5, 2010

“If you like your sports slow and complicated, you’ve come to the right place!”

Curling is amazing. If by “amazing” I mean “insane and completely WTF?” 

I was just saying the other night, how the winter Olympics are weird sports that make no sense. At least the original Greek stuff relied primarily on athletic prowess, not…the balls to jump head first on a sled (skeleton? REALLY??).

 http://www.hulu.com/watch/131077/saturday-night-live-telemundo-winter-olympics#s-p1-sr-i1

 “This is the madness that happens when a country has no beaches.”

 I also cracked a joke about long dark winters giving us Bjork and curling.

 So I watched The New 20

 …is what, 30?

 I started out wanting to like it. There’s a gay character who looks…like a normal person. But I have a hard time feeling sorry for anybody who lives in NYC. And plays squash. I don’t feel sorry for rich people. Ever. “Oh, poor me and my thin, good-looking body lying around this awesome apartment in one of the most amazing cities on earth…”

 I had a feeling the one with the curly mop of hair and sad eyes would be the “smart, but self-destructive” one. Poor dear, hooking up with gorgeous redheads and drinking beer on your roof in the sunshine w/ your hot gay roomate.

 

16 minuntes in…not sure I can take another 1:15. The whole thing just feels too forced.  The characters. What they look like. The montages. Even the sdtk. Is like…too…expected. Like these frantic close-ups are supposed to impart this sense of what a crazy drunken time they’re having…uh-huh.

 St. Elmo’s Fire is way better. So’s Reality Bites. As far as small group of friends and their time-to-grow-up life crises movies go.

 So far, the two gay storylines are interesting, the main couple is not even…anything enough to be fully fleshed-out bored, and the poor ol’ junkie is a walking cliché.

 I watched this in the middle of it without pausing

 

They were arguing about money or something. And then the junkie and his hot girlfriend lie around on her satiny bed listening to woeful female singing and cuddle.

He even admitted, “…just a touch of existential malaise.” Will he die? Or just nearly die and be redeemed and MESSAGE (little Don’t Be a Menace  joke there).

I hate how in movies, when A has some ephihany about B, and A goes running through rain/traffic/the Civil War to tell said person B who is, always, at home. Or work. Or wherever A has just traversed hell and high water. 

 As someone who also has existential malaise and emotional epiphanies, sometimes you drive an hour to stand barefoot in the torrential rain only to have your banging on the trailer door go unanswered.

 Why do these movies often revolve around one (or two) of the contigent’s getting married? I guess yeah…that’s certainly a catalyst for change in group dynamics, but still. Produces too many obligatory scenes.  One of the other friend’s is always an ex resulting in some sort of “if only!” and hidden feelings scene, the bachelor party scene where some gross error of judgement is made – or the ol’ cold feet resulting in same, some secret about one of them coming out (no pun intended). At the end, someone moves away. I’d love to provide the references, but unfortunately I can’t remember any of the movie’s titles…

 Had some newer twists on tired storylines (mostly the aforementioned gay plotlines), and the performances were all good, but ultimately The New 20 just wasn’t satisfying. No, no – The New 20 is the old The Same.

 Since that wasn’t much of a review, here’s what others had to say:

 “When a movie has a major character who’s an Existentialist Addict, your really shouldn’t be rooting for the heroin.”

 “…we spend lots of time with people sitting in lawn chairs, drinking beer and whining as they gaze at the skyline.”

 “An interesting concept, that somehow diminished what it could have been.”

 Sweetland

 “Set in 1920, Inge travels from Germany to rural Minnesota meet the man destined to be her husband. Bureaucracy and social morality cause major complications.”

 A sweet movie….about some sweet land…so Allan Cumming’s face is the last one I expected to see. Also all of a sudden it isn’t the little indie gem I thought I was watching. And Allan’s accent is…alternatingly Southern, Bronxish and stereotypical Norweigian Midwestern? Huckster?

 I had no idea Germans were such a plague “they harbor dangerous political convictions, encourage polygamy…I’ll tell you what’s in her favour: she’s not Chinese.”

 Kudos to the American for learning whatever language that is. I’m curious as to the decision not to subtitle it. To add to the air of foreignness she’s experiencing?

 Oh, well, according to IMDB:

 Most of the Norwegian and German was not scripted, but made up by the actors during filming and is gibberish.

  • Elizabeth Reasers’ Norwegian pronunciation was so bad that after Dagbladet (one of Norway’s biggest news-papers) stumbled upon this film, they posted a clip from it with the title “What is she trying to say?”

 

 Now THAT is some BS. Seriously? This is a real movie, not some SNL skit, and they just made up gibberish?

 Hallmark Hall of Fame. THAT’S what this reminds me off. B-list cast (“she was in…oh that’s the guy that was in…), heartwarming, jovial, etcetcetc. The costumes looking like modern versions of historical clothing – like a Vogue shoot of this seasons prarie chic. Little regard for historical accuracy. But, I mean, instead Babelfish to half-ass translate a script, they just blurt out gibberish, sooooo…yeah, “sweet” about sums it up.

I invented a drinking game, just name either the artist or title of the piece (I sat at my desk and watched this video and thought it would be fun to have friends who would play a drinking game with me) :

 http://vimeo.com/9752986

Also read Jason Sheehan’s Dirty Cooking. S’ok. Another chefs/kitchen people are punk rock chemically unbalanced fuck ups with an amazing penchant for fantastic food. The similarities in life stories, band name dropping, drug use, etc. pretty much felt like re-reading Kitchen Confidential. So, if you enjoyed KC, you’ll like it. I suppose his twist, as he often reminds us in the book, is that his isn’t a story of kitchen success. He works at Waffle House and then writes for newspapers. Can’t get his line of cutlery at Kohl’s. I did learn that a shot of olive oil before drinking wine can be helpful…but otherwise – I mean, it wasn’t disappointing, just nothing new or…terribly exciting.