Wednesday, September 29, 2004

I got Def Jam: Fight for NY under control; thanks for asking. The trick is to keep throwing people into walls, over and over. I like it!

Shaun of the Dead is a weird one. It's a very good comedy that turns into a shitty zombie movie and then back into a very good comedy. I am absolutely not one of those fools who thinks that British comedy is forever far superior to American comedy, but the actors in Shaun of the Dead have a nice, easygoing charm, and they don't push their jokes too far. There's a certain logic to the idea that people could be so wrapped up in their routines that they wouldn't notice a zombie apocalypse happening around them. But the movie turns serious about two thirds of the way through, and it abruptly stops working right then. I find zombie movies in general to be truly, deeply upsetting and affecting, but this one spends almost no time building intensity before killing off most of the characters in all the usual ways. It just sort of made me uncomfortable. And then it goes back to being a comedy. It's like, huh?

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is awesome. It doesn't make any sense. It's awesome. It's exactly what a fun night at the movies should be. If this is playing at a drive-in near you, don't sleep.

The Renaissance Festival is not awesome. The Renaissance Festival can kiss my ass.

Sasha Frere-Jones is probably the best music writer working today, and it's not just because his writing is great. It's because his thinking is absolutely dead-on. Observe.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

I was pretty good at Def Jam: Vendetta. I am utterly shit at Def Jam: Fight For NY. I cannot figure it out at all. I can't even beat fucking Danny Trejo on easy. It is ridiculous. I keep running into walls and stuff. My fingers hurt after five minutes of frantic button-mashing. I suck so hard at video games. I need to just call in sick to work someday soon and get this thing down.

For some reason, I must listen to heavy music right now. Nothing but heavy music. I'm not in a particularly upset or angry or existential frame of mind. I do not seethe. But I need to hear Three-6, Dizzee, the new Bjork, Old Man Gloom, Lil Jon, and absolutely nothing else. The new Faint isn't even cutting it. I need apocalypse.

The City Paper Best of Baltimore issue dropped yesterday, and you can find my long-ass profile of local indie-kid MCs Bow and Height here, as well as me opining about a few of my favorite spots. This means that the annual B.O.B. Belvedere Hotel jumpoff is tonight, the one night a year that CP freelance hacks get to strut around like we some ballers. You could not possibly understand what happens when I get near an open bar, my friends. It gets ugly.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

I am feeling:

Dizzee Rascal's Showtime. Yesterday on Pitchfork, I said that Wiley was better than Dizzee. I wrote that before I'd heard Showtime, and I was dead wrong. I've never been too into Boy In da Corner; I thought it was basically a novelty thing (British rap! Weird electronic noises!). Maybe Showtime is just a more American-sounding record, but Dizzee has finally started to resonate with me. For one thing, his production style sounds both more and less like hip-hop: more because it's slower with harder drums and a heavier reliance on menacing plings, and less because you can now hear the influence of jungle and garage - it's more distinctively British and rave-derived. For another thing, he sounds hard as fuck. "Learn" is one of the most gangsta tracks of the year because he sounds like he means every last thing he says, and I'll take "You ain't got the guts / I ain't got the time" over "Flushing MCs down the loo / If you don't believe me bring your posse bring your crew" any damn day. There's more brash confidence and steely danger in his voice, and he's learned to ride beats instead of running all over them. He's become a great MC.

24 on DVD. I don't watch regular TV at all anymore, but TV shows on DVD are roughly one million times better anyway, and it's not just because you can adjust them to your schedule and eliminate commercials and all that good stuff. 24 in particular is built around cliffhanger endings, which must be totally intolerable if you're actually watching it from week to week. But with DVDs, you can just be like, "OK, fuck it," and go straight to the next episode. This means you might do some dumb shit like watch like seven episodes in a row, which I've been known to do. It also means you can totally tell when the newest plot development is some bullshit that the writers just came up with minutes before they started filming. Season two is so far a lot better than season one, but they really busted out some ridiculous crap at the end of season one.

The part of the Inperspective Records in the Mix CD about 56 minutes in where the drums drop out and leave this huge celestial feedback-choir Eno synth-wash and the MC says, "Swirls round like an ocean wave - beautiful" with real awe in his voice. I'm not really very into drum & bass, but this moment makes the entire CD worthwhile. It's an instant of sheer bliss amidst the chaos, and it's amazing.

I am not feeling:

Britpop dance night at the Ottobar. Holy shit did this thing ever fall off. When I first started going to Britpop dance nights three years ago, they were a total revelation for me, a place where I could hear songs I loved and see everyone I knew and get utterly blasted without giving too much of a shit who noticed me. I met Bridget at one of these a year and a half ago. I went on Friday night for the first time in months and it is now just uber-lame. The crowd is all dorky-ass college students and suburban kids, and they play, like, the token synth-pop track on the Rock Against Bush comp. And everyone is trying to outdress each other. And nobody's having any fun. It's hella weak.

John Kerry. He's started to go on the attack, finally, but it may be too little too late. You know your campaign isn't going too well when every single person out there knows exactly what you need to be doing and you still aren't doing it. Show some teeth!

Kim on 24. What is this girl's problem? Her character seems to exist just so that she can get into ridiculous situations and either get rescued or find her own way out of them. Bridget was saying that the show has a really weird view of women: there are plenty of strong female characters, but most of them seem to end up either dead or evil. And the one consistently sympathetic female character is dumber than Jessica Simpson.

The Gap commercials with Sarah Jessica Parker. I've never really liked her, but I've also never felt embarrassed for her. I can't go into the Gap anymore because her cute/adorable poses could curdle milk. She would not be hot if I was drunk and she was wearing terry-cloth gym shorts and making out with Scarlett Johanson. And plus, Lenny Kravitz. Come on. We do not need this.

Monday, September 13, 2004

I have now walked the earth for 25 years. Congradulations are in order.

Anacondas is a really, really bad movie.

Underneath my review of T.I.'s "Let's Get Away", someone at Pitchfork has seen fit to add the genre signifier of crunk. "Let's Get Away" is not crunk. This I know. Crunk is generally characterized by lots of shouting and three-note synth riffs, which makes Hatebreed and "Voodoo Ray" more crunk than "Let's Get Away".

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Travis Morrison's new band played its first show at the Talking Head on Saturday night, and I found myself really liking them. No guitars = nice! If you haven't heard, the new band is three keyboardists, a drummer, and a percussionist. It doesn't sound remotely punk, and that's good. It sounds old and creaky and resigned but still, you know, alive. This is also good. The instrumentation moved it in the twin directions of disco and singery/songwritery studio pop, and the piano sounded thick and full and almost (almost) funky. Travis introduced one of the songs as his "go-go song", and thank god he wasn't telling the truth. His Ludacris cover really is pretty bad, but I'm still a bit impressed that he knows all the words, even if he emphasizes the wrong ones. Travis sounded like he was having fun. I'm glad. The Dismemberment Plan was one of my favorite bands of all time ever, and this isn't that, but I like it. It's nice and warm and inviting. Supposedly the album will sound totally different, and I hope he records with this band. It suits him well.

The show was good, but it was nowhere near as fun as seeing a midnight showing of Spider-Man 2 at Bengie's Drive-In on the largest outdoor screen on the east coast Sunday. One quibble: Toby Maguire = wormy!

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

The Bush girls. Wow. Those poor girls. Did they write their RNC speech, or did Karl Rove write it for them? Either way, I feel so embarrassed for them. It was on some straight-up lamely-toast-your-dad-at-a-family-dinner-at-Chi-Chi's-after-graduating-from-middle-school-shit, not on any sort of introducing-the-president tip. I thank God every day that I never had to give a speech like that in my life, not even at my first communion or anything. If you didn't see it, the best part was when they were talking about how their parents know nothing about pop culture, and then they were like, "But actually, our parents are pretty cool. If we say we're going to see Outkast, they know we're talking about a band, not a bunch of misfits. And sometimes we can even get them to shake it like a Polaroid picture!" Jesus Christ. Kill me now. It will never be cool to like Outkast again, ever.