Thursday, December 31, 2009

Have a good one

(NSFW--what are you doing at work? National holiday, hello? and also: congratulations on having a job.)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

How to make paper snowflakes

It's quite snowy outside (not here--we've got monsoon rainstorms to contend with). But up north in our old digs: lotsa' snow this week. I'm sure you're eager to start your paper snowflake projects. Be sure to hang them in the window and remember: if you make them out of large coffee filters, let the kids color them with a spritz of water and drops of food coloring (my crafty tip of the day).

Ignore the Christmas decor. Christmas is so over. I scoured YouTube (for fifteen f-'n minutes) to find the perfect "how to" snowflake-making video, and this was the most concise.

Snowflake templates here.

Bonus! Make a mod paper snowflake garland--I dare ya!

Garland template available here.

Lots more crafty goings-on at Curbly Videos.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Psychedelic Tuesday

Kids are always asking each other, "What's your favorite color?" It seems to be an important question for them. Perhaps this is an early precursor to personality tests. For a short while in the early 70s I answered this question with the would-be color, "psychedelic." It contained all the colors with an added element of trendy subversion. Happy psychedelic Tuesday.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Louisa May Alcott - American Masters TONIGHT

Short notice, but if you happen to tune into PBS tonight around 9 p.m. the American Masters program is all about Louisa May Alcott -- an American original. Do watch!

World's Greatest Dad trailer

Written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait. Tanked in the theater, apparently, but John Waters put it on his top-ten for 2009. Looks daaaaaark.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


From Pogo's YouTube Channel:
Pogo is an emerging electronic music artist in Perth, Western Australia. He is known for his work recording small sounds from a single film or scene and sequencing them to form a new piece of music.

His most notable track, Alice, a composition of sounds from the Disney film Alice In Wonderland, was received with much success gaining over 4 million views on YouTube as of December 2009. Pogo has since produced tracks from films like Mary Poppins, Harry Potter, The Sword In The Stone, Hook, and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

If you haven't seen "Up" yet, why not? You'll laugh; you'll cry; you'll ponder life on Earth and our pending mortality. And there's talking dogs!

As featured on ONTD.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Have yourself a merry little Disco Noël

I was going to post about anything BUT Christmas at this point, but duty calls. Christmas duty. "Disco Noël" is the only Christmas album I own (a relic from my childhood and a mom who's a not-so-secret dancing queen), and we've been kind of forced to give it a few plays this week. It's pretty god-awful, but I stationed the mini-trampoline in the living room near the tree, and Jackson and I made up some good dances, and isn't THAT what Christmas is all about?

Lehrer29 was kind (or sadistic) enough to post some cuts from the album on YouTube. My mom did actually give us some disco balls for the tree this year, so it's all coming together as a "theme."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

King Missile - Jesus Was Way Cool

Since a large portion of the U.S. will be celebrating the birth of baby Jesus in the next few days, I thought it would be nice to reflect on how cool Jesus was. Of all cinematic representations of JC, I think this is my favorite.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Pavement - Zurich is Stained

Today's video comes from Pavement's debut, "Slanted & Enchanted" back in 1992. From seemingly out of nowhere (Stockton) they came. Simple yet complex melodies with Stephen Malkmus' vaguely direct poetry-as-lyrics. You might think it's easy to sing/talk like Stephen Malkmus but let me tell you, you're apt to come off like a dumbass on the "sha-la la la bah bah" parts. Not so for him. He always sounds spot on and that's his special talent as a singer. Who knew?


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Santa Claus and His Old Lady

Cheech and Chong were very influential to my generation. Pot addled clowns, or social-commentary geniuses? YOU make the call.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Off to work we go

I have to commute elsewhere for work, so in the meantime, enjoy Jack Black having a very special commuter trip of his own.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My first animated gif

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

This is exactly what it's like to blog every day. You can see the entire dramatic scene at FourFour. Thanks for the inspiration, Rich.

Oh look, it's Chuck Prophet

Apologies for any typos. I had some kind of reaction to the ephedrine in the Novocaine at the dentist's today. I didn't know they put ephedrine in Novocaine--did you? That stuff makes me feel really crazy. I'm apparently very sensitive to its speedy, heart-palpitating, sinus-clearing side-effects.

The left side of my face swelled up, which I do not need, and I sat in a stupor for most of the afternoon, just thinking slow thoughts. Meanwhile my kid was desperate for batteries for several of his toys at once, which he would abandon immediately upon my putting new batteries in them. That's the weirdest concept; wishing someone would continue playing with something just because you put batteries in it. I did fix a toy tractor named Terrence, using a toothpick and some tweezers. But I couldn't rescue a severed Lego-like arm from the inside of a giant marble-tower elevator contraption. It was a strange, strange day and the arm--it got away from me once again.

Which reminds me: Here's Chuck Prophet. In an upcoming documentary about his travels to Mexico City to make a record. Chuck Prophet is a very talented guitarist who's been playing and composing in the Bay Area for...ever. He's been doing this forever. I met him more than 25 years ago when I was entrusted to train him as a college-radio DJ at cable station KSFS. I did so and he was fine on the air. He's got a good radio voice--deep. I remember I had to tell him not to move his swivel chair when he talked in the mic because the chair was really squeaky. It was part of the State University college system and no one had oiled it...ever. It had never been oiled, even though it was the DJ chair. And it was really noisy. So I had to tell Chuck Prophet to sit still when he talked and he took it really well. It was an awkward moment in training because fidgeting is a natural outlet for nerves, but that's how it was at SFSU. You had to work around the technical difficulties. And I should know because I went back there for grad school.

So anyway, Chuck Prophet, he's been kicking around for a long time and he deserves a documentary about his rock & roll muse, which he's been following forever. He's been following that particular muse for ever. Cheers, Chuck.

As seen on Live for Films.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Religious Candy Makes for Sweet Spirituality

We're on a candy cane jag around here. The sweet, pepperminty crooks of Christmas goodness are the perfect after-dinner mint as far as I'm concerned. Recently while strolling the aisles of Rite-Aid, I came across this display:

I was disappointed. SOMEONE had to go and ruin all my Christmas fun with their Jesus stuff. I have nothing against Jesus, but please, I want to enjoy my candy goodness without thinking about how he was tortured and hung on the cross to die, JUST THIS ONCE on Christmas. OK--so Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. No room at the inn, the kings and their gifts, some shepherds and farm animals and the big star in the sky--lovely story. But you can't really celebrate Jesus without the looming specter of his imminent demise haunting everything.

I never really bought the whole "he is arisen" thing, so that never cheered me in the least. I just couldn't help wondering what kind of dad would let his son perish so miserably just to prove a point. And how many people have truly risen from the dead anyway? None on my watch. I'm not making light of the story. It just tends to add a layer of heaviness to daily life. And candy.

According to this site, the candy cane legend is explained thusly:

Look at the Candy Cane
What do you see?
Stripes that are red
Like the blood shed for me

White is for my Savior
Who's sinless and pure!
"J" is for Jesus My Lord, that's for sure!

Turn it around
And a staff you will see
Jesus my shepherd
Was born for Me!

Not so! says rumor alleviater There's no connection between candy canes and Jesus. Just as I thought. And do you really think of Jesus when inundated with peppermint flavoring and artificial red food dye? I tend to think of chocolate, as in peppermint-flavored hot chocolate. It's like canes are the gateway holiday candy drug for me.

Speaking of chocolate, here's some religious candy molds so you can make praying hands and crucifix confections for your own spiritual sugar-rush fervor. What could be more uplifting that chocolaty praying hands?

Christian Dollar Store has even more Christian scripture candy, and plenty of pop-up ads if you're craving that sort of Internet fulfillment.

Milk chocolate crucifix--sure to be tasty. Don't bother counting calories, it's all good.

Mommy! These lollipops hurt my mouth! For those who would suffer for their candy fix.

Gnawing on one of these bracelets will get you through church service in seemingly no time at all.

Testamints sugar free gum, recommended by four out of five dentists who pray you have adequate insurance.

Fish-shaped mints. Sort of unappealing somehow.

But I would definitely go for the sours. They got me with that one. Lord, save me with sours!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The 50s - Decade of Demented Dreams

There are no words to describe the stupefying, almost psychotic, incompetence that is "Robot Monster" (1953). Enjoy.

"Devil Girl From Mars" (1954). Never heard of this. Obviously I haven't truly lived life to the fullest.

Where have I been all my life?

"She Demons" (1958). This ain't right in the head.

"The Giant Claw" (1957). Reach for the sky, 50s-era prop department!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Imagination Movers are super cool

We took Jackson to the fabulous Fox Theatre in Oakland yesterday for a lunch-time show of the touring Imagination Movers. These are four guys, neighbors in New Orleans, who were constantly running into each other at their kids' birthday parties. They formed a band to play kids' music and then tragically three of them lost their homes and everything in them in Hurricane Katrina.

Somehow they kept going with their local cable kids' show, which then got picked up by the Disney Channel and now they're famous; with kids. And their parents. Their show is marketed to preschoolers but their humor is really more in the 6- to 9-year-old range, at least live on stage. They do a lot of riffing and improv between songs and they're very sharp with sports references and pop-music culture. They had several jokes that only older adults would get. That's always appreciated. At one point they did a very accurate impression of MC Hammer and the dance from "Can't Touch This." Then they told the audience not to tell anyone that they were actually seen doing that.

The tickets were expensive but the theatre is SUCH an amazing experience. Even the ceiling made Jackson say, "Wow." That's the sign of an excellent venue. If you're escorting a small child about, you might want to check them out. The highlight for us was surprise dancing guest, DC, local guy and former Warriors mascot, now on Choo Choo Soul. Anyone with a toddler and cable will know what I just typed there. DC dances well on his feet, on his back and even on his hands. He, like the Imagination Movers, is 100% committed to fun-filled concepts.


You will often find the Imagination Movers in the middle of a brainstorming session.

Shakable You

Friday, December 04, 2009

Songs About Tennis

I'm scheduled to play tennis tomorrow morning with a group of experimental and documentary filmmakers (some of us have been known to make a narrative or two as well). I haven't played tennis in more 20 years and last time I tried, I couldn't serve. I don't mean I was serving badly. I mean I literally couldn't serve. I couldn't hit the ball with the racket. It was...humbling. So in preparation to be further humbled, I'm going to pump myself with these songs about tennis.

There really aren't that many songs about tennis, but I do know that Philadelphia Freedom was written for Billie Jean King and her tennis team, the Philadelphia Freedoms. Elton, you made a rockin' song about tennis. Your genius is untouchable.

Cream - Anyone For Tennis. Label this under WTF?

Pavement - Stop Breathing. Keith correctly (and incredibly) pointed out that the first verse of this song was about tennis. I NEVER would have known this, even though I've heard this song roughly a thousand times since 1994. See if you can spot the tennis references: Got struck by the first volley / Of the war in the courts / Never held my serve / Send'em a wire, give'em my best / This ammunition never rests / No one serves coffee, no one wakes up

The Brat - Chalk Dust - The Umpire Strikes Back. Ha ha! No comment, other than this was a big hit in England, satirizing actual John McEnroe tantrums, in the magical year of 1982.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Barbara Manning - Every Pretty Girl

Today's video is from Barbara's 1991 CD "One Perfect Green Blanket." which is a two-fer because you also get her first solo album, "Lately I Keep Scissors" in the deal. They're both great albums of the very late 80s/early 90s.

Barbara's songs are story poems and they reflect a lot of universal feelings, especially concerning relationships. That's my best-effort explanation of her genre. I like her clear and distinct singing and how she surrounds herself with great musicians for all sorts of collaborative fun. As a composer and lead singer, she's tops and I continue to dig her scene. Plus she loves baseball and put out a great Baseball Trilogythat is well worth your effort to obtain, baseball fans.

We worked on a couple music videos many years back, but this one I made on my own, in my family room, with her OK. The footage is from "That Junior Miss Spirit," a 1970 beauty pageant documentary from Prelinger Archives, which brings up the question, do you think floppy hats with mini skirts will make a comeback?

Official site

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Call for Super Chicken

The Internet giveth and the Internet taketh away. Sort of. I've had good experiences on the Internet for several years now. Lots of old friends showing up on Facebook; one from Katmandu who I hadn't seen in years, who I really wanted to connect with again. Some new friends I made this year, all from Facebook and blog postings. One I've visited with in person, just to make it official. It's been enriching.

People complain about all this computer networking and how it doesn't seem "real." How it can dredge up old wounds and feelings of loneliness, but I can't complain. It's been good for me. Last night I looked up an old friend who I hadn't heard from for several years. He was a busy guy with a really interesting career, so I never felt slighted. He had found me by email somehow and it was wonderful to "talk" again--one of my favorite people from high school who moved out of state before we graduated, and I've missed him ever since.

So I went looking for him last night, hoping to reconnect. Sadly, I got bad news right away. And now I know I've lost him for good. At least I know this about him: He had a loving partner, an incredibly successful career in the arts, doing what he loved, and he appreciated our friendship so long ago. I know, because he told me in his last email. And then I got a chance to tell him how much I enjoyed being in his company. So if you have a friend like that, go ahead and tell him or her too. I'll try and do the same.

This song always cheers me up, at least a little.

Monday, November 30, 2009

What's Beth Ditto listening to?

According to this NY Times Playlist, she's liking Explode Into Colors, who she knows from her hair-cutting days in Olympia, Washington.

Two girls on drums. Be still my heart.

She also loves Lil Wayne, who she says is a genius. Shooter with Robin Thicke is one of her favorite songs of all time.

While growing up, Beth's mom listened to Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath. Her dad listened to Patsy Kline and Kool and the Gang. It's like she grew up inside of a 70s-era version of college radio. In Arkansas. Here's a little Sabbath from 1970.

Switch gears!

She's also fond of The Raincoats.

And has listened to When I Grow Up by Fever Ray on a near-constant basis.

She likes to go out dancing to La Roux, who she says is huge in England.

You go, Beth Ditto.

Thanks Melena Ryzik for the NY Times interview.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Uptones - Not From Here

The Uptones, the Bay Area's premiere ska band, will be releasing some new songs soon. This is good news because Uptones productions are not only danceable but soulful as well.

Case in point: The first time I met members of The Uptones was at the Port Lite bar in a dark, lonesome section of West Oakland. Three of the defunct Uptones had carried on as Stiff Richards and our band was opening for them. I may be fuzzing the details here but two songs into their set, I remember telling someone in my band to come inside and listen because, "These guys are really good." Four songs into their set, I realized they were professional-caliber musicians who happened to be playing on a linoleum floor in a dive where cockroaches roamed the bathrooms and the bartender snarled if you displeased her in any way. And those ways were generally mysterious and unknown to you.

Professionals with soul; they played ska but mixed it up with reggae, punk rock, classic guitar-driven rock and humor. All of this had chops and heart. At the end of the night, they pulled up in a series of tiny automobiles and loaded up and out like they had done it a thousand times before. And so they had. The Uptones began when they were in high school in 1981 and went on to heavily influence a lot of popular ska-pop-punk bands that I won't go into here because none of them are as cool as the Uptones and that's my professional-caliber opinion.

They are re-formed now and you can see them live in places where the bartenders are not quite as surly. But au revoir, Port Lite. Apparently it couldn't last out by the warehouses of Oakland. I miss playing there and also miss Emmett who enthusiastically booked local bands, always wore (non-ironic) trucker hats and played pinball throughout every band's set.

Not From Here from "Skankin' Foolz Unite!"

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Books of North Adams, MA

The Books are two guys, Nick Zammuto and Paul de Jong, who despite multiple moves over the years, are based in North Adams, Massachusetts. They scour thrift stores in search of old videos and recordings, then mix it all together, adding cello and other instrumentation, both formal and experimental.

Which is all very well and good. But my main interest in them comes from North Adams, where Keith grew up (actually in neighboring Clarksburg, up the hill from North Adams). This is a small industrial town in Western Mass.--a part of the Berkshires that was not touristy, but lived in and a bit rugged. Beautiful, but eventually depressed after all the industry closed up shop.

That is until 1999 when MASS MoCA opened, taking over a factory that covers a full city block. This great big building full of art has attracted like-minded business to the area, which is scenic and affordable. The intelligent design choice that the museum made was to leave the factory almost completely intact, down to the industrial-grade bathrooms on the first floor. The exposed brick walls are an exhibit in themselves--tremendously high, chipped, multi-hued and textured. The galleries are massive and the artwork follows that lead.

You can enter some of the rooms and they become your complete environment for the moment. A climbable, life-sized plywood ship; a human digestive system made from ducts and bellows, paintings that could fill up airplane hangars. And best: humor in the form of videos, smaller exhibits and low-key literature in the gift shop. (I got my "Boring Postcards" book there, which is full of boring but amusing postcards.) Also: great live shows. Visit Mass Mocha and bring your lawn chairs.

The Books edit and play found-footage videos at their live shows. You can order Books music on their Bandcamp.

Boston Globe reports in.

Monday, November 23, 2009

My Doppelganger's Uncle

I wrote here not too long ago about my email doppelganger--a born-again real estate agent from Texas who, through circumstances beyond my control, shares my name and email address. I recently received email from her Uncle, who thought he was sending it to her. Oh, I'll let the NSFW cartoon explain it. Somehow it's easier that way.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

She Mob - Prozac

Today's band is She Mob, which happens to be my band, actually. We played together throughout the 90s and beyond. Even though some of us left and new people joined, the core of She Mob remains core-like and occasional shows still happen. Prozac is off our first album, "Cancel the Wedding" (1999).

When I started playing this today, Jackson ran into the room, chanting, "She Mob! She Mob! She Mob!" He then sat in my lap and watched the whole thing. This is a sample of our main fan base, which tended to skew toward aged-12 and under, or age-37 and over. Not much in between. It's a weird demographic but a fun one.

The official She Mob World Wide Web headquarters.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What's On Your Wall? - Michelle Robinson

It's time once again for What's On Your Wall? Today's walls are brought to you by Michelle Robinson, whose daughter attended my son's co-op preschool in Oakland. A couple years ago, Michelle's husband was offered a job in Oregon and they moved up there pretty much sight unseen.

Luckily, we had just visited their new home-town and I was able to assure her that it's a bucolic and splendid place. And so it is. After we moved up north (job-related), the Robinsons traveled to our place for a visit. We had a great day, hiking around waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge. Soon thereafter we returned to California (job-related--see a pattern here?) and never got to see their new home. So I really appreciate finding out what's on Michelle's walls. And I'm planning a visit in the Spring.

No captions. I think the artwork speaks for itself.

More walls:
Captive WW

Monday, November 16, 2009

In the Alley with Lady Gaga

I just watched a new Lady Gaga video and now feel the urge to return to the church and confess my sins for hopefully some kind of salvation. The ultimate question surrounding what we know of Gaga is, "Is she a genius or is she full of it?" I think the fact that this question comes up over and over throughout the World Wide Web gives credence to the fact that no one really knows the answer, probably including Gaga herself, and I guess that's...interesting. Is it necessary? The folks in the music industry think so and they've been seriously hurting for someone to come along and distract us enough to send our money flowing in their direction.

And HERE SHE IS! I give her credit. She's a money maker. She's a costume wearer and she's a catchy songstress of edgy dance material. She's also needlessly creepy and cadges too much from olden-days Madonna and 80s-era club kids. They formed a gang of crazy costumed party-goers cobbled together out of creativity, drug abuse and poverty, which became so excessive it morphed into homicidal maniacism.

She's more like a club kid who hires her gang to be backup dancers and film crew. And that's OK because in today's crazy-wazy world of stratospheric unemployment, it's nice that a group of people can rightfully say, "My boss is Gaga!"

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sebadoh - "Sorry"

I haven't been in much of a writing mood lately. I've been in a reading/watching/listening mood. And so: Sorry. One of my favorite Sebadoh songs. Lou Barlow is such a sensitive and musical person. He could probably use some therapy at times but then his songwriting might suffer. So keep on suffering, Lou. Within reason, of course.

Sebadoh - Sorry from Miss Lisa on Vimeo.

From 1999. Were the 90s that far away in our past? It seems so these days. It was a grittier time somehow, yet we're currently knee-deep in unemployment, war and national angst. Shouldn't our art be reflecting this very gritty reality? Instead it's all glossy and derivative, a la Lady Ga Ga, Beyonce, and god knows what else--I can't be bothered to keep track lately. It's pretty dull, except for Pink--she's gritty and then some, with the singing talent to back it up. Are we trying to overtly cheer ourselves up? Maybe so...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Way We Get By - Trailer

The Way We Get By is the story of troop greeters in Bangor, Maine, who meet the troops on their way to and from Iraq.

But dad, it's SMOKEEEYYY!

Classic commercial that we middle-agers quote from time to time. And it was effective too, because when I started buying up records, I made sure to get a "Best of" Smokey Robinson and the Miracles (and Marvin Gaye while I was at it), which I still have. Because, after all, it is SMOKEEEEYYY.

As seen on The Poop (via Keith--thank you Keith, you humorous fellow).

Monday, November 09, 2009

The John Shiurba Experience - Hey Joe

I missed this annual show due to Halloween exhaustion, but here's a little piece of it. It's not every day that someone can do justice to Jimi Hendrix while Santa Claus plays drums. This shreds.

Live at the 8th Annual Murder Ballads Bash, Starry Plough, Berkeley CA, October 31, 2009. Thanks for this very special heavy-metal moment.
John Shiurba - guitar, vocals
Eli Crews - bass
Suki O'Kane - drums
Val Esway - backing vocals
Sue Hutchinson - backing vocals and MC
Karen Goodman - backing vocals

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Hey, Captive Wild Woman, what's on your Internet?

I have a lot of freelance work to do today and none of it pays, so I don't have time to work on too much here. I just spent the last hour gathering some currently browsed links (filtered by me) for fun and nonprofit. Have a great one, whatever it is.

Fun Cheap SF - San Francisco, fun, yes, but CHEAP? Apparently it's possible on certain days of the month.

150 things to do when you're bored (from Sarah Spy and Lists Galore!)

lines and colors - a blog about drawing, painting, illustration, comics, concept art and other.

Square America - A gallery of vintage snapshots & vernacular photography. Be sure to check out the new animated gallery of found 3D photos: The Bar Mitzvah and Other Tales of Living in Stereo.

Beijing artist, Liu Bolin, camouflages himself in plain sight, using paint and the world around him. Can you find him? (Seen in The Jailbreak - pop, politics & counterculture.)

Wanda Sykes--master of timing and delivery--on gay marriage. (NSFW) Her new talk show premieres this Saturday. Go, Wanda.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Happy Birthday Kathy Griffin. Suck it, Maine.

It's Kathy Griffin day around here! Many happy returns, funny lay-dee. I, like many, first became aware of her rising star from accidentally watching "Suddenly Susan" once in a while, which was embarrassing due to the awful title and the severely pained expressions coming from would-be romantic lead, Judd Nelson. I could not help noticing the tiny, wise-cracking foil to tall, humorless Suddenly Susan. Who is that strange and abrasive woman? I thought. I almost can't take her, yet I cannot turn away. Especially intriguing to me were her perfectly shorn bangs among piles of orange ringlets. It was like I Love Lucy meets your chain-smoking, crazy Aunt Lola from Jersey.

Eventually, she migrated to Seinfeld where, as Sally, she terrorized Jerry in two memorable episodes. She was moving up in the world. Since I didn't have cable until fairly recently, I never saw "My Life on the D-List" until it was out on DVD. And THAT'S when I had my epiphany: This woman is a comic genius and (running to the rooftop to shout), I don't care WHO KNOWS IT!!!

"D-List" is very meta, with an inside view of an outsider looking in. For some people that might be annoying. As in, what is the problem with all these Hollywood people and their V.I.P.-backstage-pass criterias? It all seems very exaggerated and unreal. Yet as someone who has worked as a PA (Peon Asswipe) on numerous film and TV crews, it is MUCH worse than you can possibly imagine. It's crazy, weird, bad, craziness, with occasional flashes of humanity and good humor thrown in. So I appreciate Kathy's take on the whole "enlisting in the fame army" process.

Also, she's not a joke-teller, so a lot of people curl their collective lips and say, "She's not FUNNY." But that's where they're WRONG. Because she's a comedic storyteller--a really good one. Her stories have concise beginnings, middles and ends. She has great timing and the endings are always the most absurd part of her retellings. It's all about the absurdity and her place in the absurd world.

Which is the other reason I like her: she's the court jester to our fame kings and queens. We don't have royalty or multi-gods. We have Brangelina. So I do appreciate her pointing out the big stupidness that exists in that celebrity place of worship. And she always includes her hapless role and desires in the equation; an equal-opportunity offender and holy fool.

Sue Iconolodge's Ode to Kathy Griffin.

Read Griffin's book. It's funny.

And be sure to suck it, Maine. Stop trying to inhibit the legal rights of my friends, you intolerant, old-school bigots. There is no time to waste on these issues, which are simple and straightforward. Take care of your families and let everyone else do the same.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Stereolab - Exploding Head Movie

Can't seem to stop making music videos. Is there an MVA (Music Video's Anonymous) meeting in my area?

My name is Captive Wild Woman and I'm addicted to the Internet Archive. Ever since I read the legal-usage terms of "public domain" the archival filmed and uploaded world is my oyster. I will continue to download and edit footage set to indie rock until somebody stops me, because I can no longer stop myself.

Today's video is from Stereolab's album "Refried Ectoplasm [Switched On Volume 2]" from 1995. It's a collection of singles and b-sides and is probably one of their best albums. I hope it's not too massively (corporately) copyrighted because I really enjoyed putting this Coney Island footage to it. If anyone has a problem with it, just let me know. For your viewing and listening pleasure only. No other uses. What could it be used for? It's only four inches wide.

French Disko from the same album.


Monday, November 02, 2009

Commercialized Candy

Another Halloween has crept by on its little Cat-in-the-Hat feet. Now all we have left are the memories and sandbag-sized amounts of candy. Let's explore the methods of ad men (and women) who've convinced us over the years to stuff our gobs with sweet treats.

The Good & Plenty commercial that got a generation hooked on licorice pastels.

Salvador Dali was crazy for chocolate-generated revenues.

The middle class is inspired by York Peppermint Patty.

The Tootsie Pop fable.

Two great tastes in one candy bar!

New wave Watchamacallit, the ironic, postmodern bar.

The Museum of Pez Memorabilia in Burlingame, California, must fight for their right to display Pez. Currently curator Gary Doss is in a legal battle to save his giant snowman Pez from Austrian-based Pez corporate destruction. Roadside America reports.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Jr. Chemists - Spooky Cooties

Happy Halloween. Today's music video is brought to you by the Jr. Chemists, a unique listening experience that fluttered briefly to our attention between 1980 and 1981. Never heard from again! Still, memorable. Have a spooky one.

The Jr. Chemists: Brendan deVallance, Michael Cornelius, Dawn Kelly: We make music for intelligent 12-year-olds.

Image and quote from Brendan's site, Splooft Cough-Up.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Supreme Dicks - Blue Elephant

I made another music video this week. I'm on a roll. This one is the Supreme Dicks, oddball psychedelic folk-rock band from the 90s. You may remember that you've never heard of them. Or maybe you have.

Maybe you attended one of their whackadoo shows with audience participation go-go dancers and noodly improv. Maybe if you're like me, you used one of their songs in a short film in film school and got to briefly enter the strange musical orbit that was the Supreme Dicks.

In any case, this song is from their CD "Working Man's Dick." The footage is from the 1939 World's Fair Mardi Gras parade in blustery Flushing Meadow Corona Park, New York. Keep a sharp eye for a zippy appearance by teen sensation Jane Withers.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What's On Your Wall? - Linda McElroy

It's time to explore wall space again. Linda's a creative force to be reckoned with. She's an amazing chef, a quilter, a knitter, and my aunt, all in one. When she married my uncle, our whole family felt brighter and shinier. She glows. Let's look at her walls.

A beautiful Joe Shlitcha abstract. This reflects the lovely Northwest so well.

Linda's teeny, tiny downstairs bathroom has been recently revived the addition of her kids' art. My cousins Megan and Matt have a lot of good stuff going on, with art and music as a firm base to launch from. I like the mattes and similar (but not too similar) black frames. You may notice cousin Matt's snake in the sneaker in the top right photo.

Close-up on Matt's Hawk-Bear print.

When in Seattle, be sure to stop by Linda and Tom's Ristorante Machiavelli. A guaranteed good night out, plus (bonus) family photos on the walls.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Television Personalities - The Glittering Prizes

It's been a long time since I made a music video. Yesterday I put together this little one for YouTube consumption.

The Television Personalities put out this great album, "...and don't the kids just love it" in 1980 and it's been one of my favorites for many years now. The brilliant, tortured Dan Treacy shoves decades of pop culture into everything he composes. Such clever and campy discourse within seemingly simplistic, catchy ditties. Godspeed, Dan Treacy.

TVPs - The Painted World(1985)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Sell Outs

When last we checked in with radical feminist punk rock band, Hot Mess, they were on a song-writing roll. Let's look in on their first rehearsal.

Exposé - Point of No Return. Don't you miss the 80s? Me neither.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Thrills, Chills, Laughs and Hills - San Francisco in the Movies

What's it like, living in San Francisco? It's cold and damp, yes, but although only roughly seven miles in length, the city has several micro-climates, so you you have to dress in layers. The gray, filtered light, the constant jacket required to stay warm, the living in close quarters in uninsulated, uncarpeted, older flats that echo and rattle in the wind--all lead to a sort of protective emotional shell in its citizens. You can't get too friendly with everyone because who knows what they want from you? And they're all too close together, especially on Muni--close enough to be potentially annoying, maybe even at times, threatening.

On the other hand, it's extremely beautiful and balmy, with incredible vistas and walking paths to heavenly, dynamic locations, featuring the Pacific Ocean, Golden Gate Park, the Marina, Ocean Beach, and Red's Java House, home of the affordable beer and burger lunch. Plus San Francisco is truly urban. Live there long enough and you'll become truly urban as well, with an appreciation of all that implies: film, theater, art--yes; books and writing--sure; major universities--uh huh; pro sports--yup, got 'em; jobs--more than some places; garage bands--hmmm, you might want to check across the Bay in Oakland for that.

Once in a while, a film crew shows up, usually from Los Angeles, and attempts to film a "San Francisco story." They often get it wrong, making a Los Angeles story that happens to be set in San Francisco locations. I'm pretty sure a lot of San Francisco-based movies and television shows are excuses for someone with budgetary clout to vacation in Northern California for a while, under the guise of making a movie. But once in a while, everything comes together and you get a close approximation of not only the look of the place, but the feel of the place. That would be kind of chilly, kind of emotionally armored (maybe even damaged), kind of loopy, kind of one-of-a-kind. Ultimately, San Francisco is built on towering hills that have no business having a densely populated city on top of them. That gives the feeling of other-worldliness, combined with that urban sensibility. These films reflect a bit of that for me.

San Francisco - Clark Gable and Jeanette McDonald cannot breathe life into a tedious back story to the '06 earthquake in this early disaster film. You have to wait a seemingly lo-o-ong time for the buildings to fall, but once they do, you'll be impressed by the deadly chaos and confusion produced by the 1936 effects department.

My mom told me this movie scared the living daylights out of her as a child, which is understandable because she lived in the city. A very impressive scene, not just for the crumbling, rumbling set, but for the dynamic editing, implying death and destruction at every turn. and it's a musical, which is very San Francisco indeed.

Worth noting is that the actual 1906 earthquake took place just after 5 AM, so it's unlikely this swanky affair would be going on during the earthquake's apex, but back then, who knows? People did party hard. Also note that Jeanette McDonald must be carried from of the building AND she faints. She's beyond useless. The damsel-in-distress trope in the movies was already old by the time this was released, but that didn't stop movies and television and video games to continue to use it as a sort of anti-feminist propaganda. That's how I see it.

Vertigo - Everyone from San Francisco loves Vertigo, even those of us who are disturbed and slightly grossed out by it. Alfred Hitchcock threw away detective-story conventions to better concentrate on the twisted obsessions of James Stewart's Scottie, who follows Kim Novak's Madeleine/Judy around like a necrophiliac stalker. And woe to his poor side-kick Midge!

Once Hitch jettisoned the genre specifics of the murder mystery, he could focus solely on the corrupting influences of neurotic obsession, all taking place in the haunting, emotionally stagnant world of the San Francisco Bay Area. Loneliness, masochism, unrequited love, phantom attraction—a vision of San Francisco full of the darkest emotions.

The best way to see Vertigo is at The Castro Theatre during Hitchcock week, which they feature most every year. If you can plan a visit around that, do so.

Bullitt - Take a wild ride with utterly cool Steve McQueen in his 1968 Ford Mustang. Wild not only for the speed around hill and dale, but because this particular chase scene is geographically impossible. If only one could instantly get to John McLaren Park by turning a corner in North Beach. But that's the magic of movie editing and it makes this chilly, deadpan film quite exciting and memorable.

Bullitt: Chase Scene from L87 on Vimeo.

The Conversation - I finally saw this film recently after avoiding it for years because I knew it would be bleak and probably depressing. Sure, it was all those things, but mainly it's a character study of voyeuristic paranoia. Gene Hackman is the unforgettable Harry Caul, best surveillance expert operating on the West Coast. Buckling under bucket-loads of Catholic guilt, he gets too involved in a case involving corporate wife, Cindy Williams, and her illicit lover (Frederic Forest), who are mainly seen walking around Union Square while having a conversation that Harry brilliantly (and impossibly) records.

Lots of San Francisco locations add to the lonely bleakness of living among crowds with very little connection to humanity. Francis Ford Coppola makes excellent use of empty SOMA warehouses, a block of buildings that were being torn down during production, and the water-front along the Embarcadero. Young Harrison Ford as a shady, acrylic-sweater-wearing corporate assistant turns up as well.

What's Up Doc - This way-funny chase scene is all about the hills (and a salute to that ever-present VW Beetle from Bullitt - see clip above). Against all odds, director Peter Bogdanovich, and stars Ryan O'Neal and Barbra Streisand, completely subvert their massive 70s-era egos to pay delightful homage to the screwball comedy. When I was little, I thought Streisand was the perfect adult, based on her zaniness in this movie. But Madeline Kahn as mega-uptight Eunice Burns is so ridiculously funny (always). See it for her.

Living On Tokyo Time - It's a miracle there's any clips of this available at all because it hasn't been out on video (and never has been available on DVD that I know of) for years. It features aimless slacker, Ken, wandering the city, playing his guitar while failing at relationships. When he agrees to marry a Japanese emigre so she can get her green card, deadpan emotional repression and potential heartbreak ensues.

The amateur acting and direction make this a hard watch for some. But this film truly captures a lost moment in time (1987 or so) when regular working Joe's could afford to live in the city (with roommates, using dining rooms, sun-porches and stairwells as extra bedrooms), slag away at low-paying jobs, while playing in ne'er-do-well garage bands on the side.

Medicine for Melancholy - What's it like to be a young African American couple (if only for one night) living in the least proportionately African American-populated city in America? If you watch this low-budget gem, you'll have a very good idea. Director Barry Jenkins would famously go on to win a Best Picture Academy Award in 2016 for his Moonlight.


Also see:
Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart
The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill
The Maltese Falcon
THX 1138

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Frankie Smith - Double Dutch Bus (with some lyrics)

My favorite lyrics (this would make a great one-act play, for all of you taking drama this semester):

FRANKIE: Hilzi, gilzirls! Yilzall hilzave t' milzove ilzout the wilzay silzo the gilzuys can plilzay bilzasket-bilzall
(Hey girls! Y'all have to move out the way so the guys can play basketball)

GIRLS: I say wizzat? Nizzo-izzo wizzay!
(Say what? No way!)

FRANKIE: Yizzall bizzetter mizzove!
(Y'all better move!)

GIRLS: I say wizzat? Willze illzain't millzovin'...
(Say what? We ain't movin!)

FRANKIE: Shillzu-gillzar! ....., bilzzaby!

GIRLS: Willze illzare plizzayin' dizzouble dizzutch!
(We are playin' double dutch)

FRANKIE: Millze cillzan sillzome ....plilzay dilzzouble dilzutch!
( double dutch!)

GIRL: Hilzzoo?

FRANKIE: My gizzirl!
(My girl!)

GIRL: Brillzing her izzin!
(Bring her in!)

FRANKIE: Izzo kizzay!

GIRL: Izzall rizzight...
(All right...)

FRANKIE: Izzo kizzay!

GIRL: Izzall rizzight! Nizzow wizzee wilzzo-izzo-zee!
(All right! Now we will see!)

Monday, October 19, 2009

R. Crumb Draws God

R. Crumb has been hard at work on The Book of Genesis and now it's available for all to see. USA Today did a phone interview with him and I love his description of trying to draw God, which he admits is "hard." The image came to him in a dream.

"I ended up with the old stereotypical Charlton Heston kind of God, long beard, very masculine. I used a lot of white-out, a lot of corrections when I tried to draw God."

How would you draw God? I kind of see God as an Aretha Franklin figure myself.

-Image and quote from USA Today.
-The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles is showing the original 207 pages of the book, plus cover and title pages, through February.
-NY Times R. Crumb Genesis sideshow - demented yet thoughtful Bible stuff!
-More illustrated Bible stories, made entirely out of Legos - The Brick Testament.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

1989 World Series Earthquake Game Revisited

This week is the twentieth anniversary of the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake and the SF Main Library is hosting an evening of remembrances tonight (see below). I thought I'd do the same here. The day of the quake, filmmaker Jon Leonoudakis brought his VHS camcorder to Game 3 of the 1989 World Series at Candlestick Park. I just brought my hefty Canon AE-1. And unfortunately those cameras aren't auto-focus, because after that 6.9 hit, my hands were pretty shaky. This is what I managed to assemble as I walked around the park that day.

Here's my ($40!) ticket, which I saved to remember how safe I was in my seat. When the earthquake hit on October 17th at 5:04, there were 60,000 fans in the stands, many of them quite drunk and ready for the Giants to best the A's after two bad losses in Oakland. Because of the rowdy crowd, I initially thought the quake was the sound of thousands of stomping feet overhead. Then I noticed the arms of our seats were shaking like a vibrating chair gone amok. My brother and I made pop-eyed contact with one another at that point, realizing we were in deep shit. I looked up at the dark, foreboding upper deck above our heads. It was moving in concentric circles and fluttering in a way that can only be described as concrete Jell-O. "Concrete is not supposed to do that," I thought, and I had a flashback to an amazing oceanography class I had taken at SFSU where I learned much about earthquakes.

The 15 seconds of back-and-forth motion I was feeling was indicative of the worst kind of earthquake. This type of motion tends to cause the most damage because two plates of land mass are moving against each other in opposite directions for an extended length of time. Don't ask me how I knew all that in less than a minute. Let's just acknowledge that education is a good thing. And a scary thing, because while the majority of fans were cheering the end of the quake (not knowing the damage yet), I was sitting very still, very pale, waiting for the entire park to collapse on top of me and my immediate family, killing all of us instantly. When that didn't happen, I mentally thanked cold, miserable Candlestick Park, momentarily the most beautiful ballpark of all time, and decided to get some photos.

The elderly couple from Wisconsin sitting directly behind us scooted out of their seats as soon as the shaking stopped, and with a look of grim determination on both their faces, left the park immediately. But we of the Bay Area stuck around longer, not knowing what else to do, and maybe thinking the game would get going somehow. We were really pumped for that series, obviously.

Look at the old-timey scoreboard. They don't make 'em like this any more.

After the quake, anyone who could, went out on the field. That meant players, management, their families, cops, and journalists. I don't blame them. I wanted to go there too and get away from all the potentially loose concrete.

Candlestick was definitely a rock. Despite some crumbling stairs on the upper deck, she held firm.

We in the stands, salute you, Candlestick.

When the electricity didn't come back on, we knew the game was not happening, but no one wanted to leave for a while because no one knew what was going on outside the park. Well, some of us did, like the guy in the stands who brought a portable TV. He let us watch the news footage of the collapsed section of the Bay Bridge and the tragically pancaked Cypress Freeway in Oakland. My photos from that point on got a lot blurrier.

I had a great shot of shocked Giants here but a guy walked in front of me. That's the bill of his cap, getting in the way. He immediately turned around and apologized for walking through my shot. My brief annoyance turned into a bout of "looking at the big picture." We were all fine after a huge earthquake, sir. Don't worry about it.

The police (with Will Clark) were just as mystified as anyone else as to what was going on.

The press, doing their thing with Roger Craig, or trying to.

I don't know why I didn't get some A's shots. Was it bias? My family has been rooting for the Giants for my entire life, even though they moved from San Francisco to the East Bay almost 50 years ago. They're true fans, I guess, or just insane. Same thing.

I did see a group of very dolled-up women in the box seats, lower deck, that made me think, oh, an escort service must have gotten some primo tickets today. Then I realized that the group consisted of Jose Canseco's wife and her friends. I know that's rude, but I honestly thought they were a group of prostitutes out for a day excursion. Perhaps it was the skin-tight leather jumpsuits, voluminous frosted hair, and severely long nail tips in shades of shocking fuchsia. Sorry, Mrs. former Canseco.

The story of Dave Dravecky and his arm is poignant.

I reported my findings to my family and we convened in the parking lot. My dad and my brother watched upsetting footage of quake damage on a fellow fan's portable TV. This guy also shared some beers with my dad. People were calm and nice that day and remained so throughout the week.

My mom with Candlestick in the background. I was so grateful to that ballpark for keeping my family safe. Hat's off, Candlestick Park at Candlestick Point.

We decided to head over to Grandma Tocha's since she lived a couple of miles from the park. She was, at the time, attending a funeral of one of her brothers in Arizona, but her renters, who lived in her (illegal) garage-apartment, let us into the house. When her family expressed concern over the earthquake, Grandma, not knowing the magnitude yet, reportedly told them, "Oh, we get those all the time." That's a classic Grandma Tocha story. I just threw it in there.

Grandma was a hoarder, which served us well. I somehow found her scented floral candles and her portable radio (with batteries). We all celebrated by finishing off a box of Scooter Pies for dinner. You could always count on her for a good meal.

And luckily, her neighborhood was one of the first to get the electricity back on that night. We were then able to obsessively watch earthquake footage on the news until finally giving up and going to bed early. Earthquakes are stressful and even if you're not hurt in one, they are exhausting.

My parents and brother headed back to the deep East Bay the next day, leaving me at my Fillmore Street flat with five dollars in my pocket. We forgot the banks couldn't open until the electricity came back on in the rest of the city, which would take a few days for the most part. My roommate Aya lent me a twenty and we spent the afternoon walking around the Marina, gaping at the buildings that had fallen off their foundations and landed in the middle of their streets. We gasped and vowed never to live in a corner apartment built over multiple garages made of brick. Especially in the Marina. It didn't matter, because we would never be able to afford to live in the Marina anyway, earthquake or no.

Ten days later, my family and I were back at Candlestick for the make-up game. It was a little scary to be there again, but also kind of uplifting. We had somehow come through a terrible disaster and if it hadn't been for the World Series, many more people would have been commuting on the freeways at 5:04, so baseball did actually save some lives.

At 5:04, the cast of Beach Blanket Babylon, led by Mr. Peanut, sang "San Francisco" with the crowd. Nothing bad can happen when Mr. Peanut is in charge. And except for the Giants getting pummeled, it was a fine day.

Close-up on Mr. Peanut

Original interrupted television broadcast.

The opening to the make-up game, two weeks later, featuring a rousing sing-along to San Francisco. I tear up whenever I watch this.

Giants and A's reminisce on SFGate.

Tonight at 6:30 the San Francisco Main Library is hosting 5:04 PM: A First Person Account of the 1989 World Series Earthquake Game. The write-up: Using video and photographs along with local and national television news reports and photographs, filmmaker and baseball fan Jon Leonoudakis brings viewers back to that fateful day. A discussion follows the film.