Monday, June 29, 2009

RIP Sir Billy Mays, Knight of Consumer Products

Now why am I all sad about the death of Billy Mays? The man was obnoxious, yet I did believe in his products. He was talented at convincing me that way.

He was kind of like the kid in your junior high who was socially awkward, but not in an introverted way--in a loud, booming, in-your-face way. The kid who didn't know when to pull back and give it a rest to let you absorb his presence. The kid who tried too hard but who was basically good inside. That's the Billy Mays pitchman persona. He knows he's being too loud, too forceful, too TOO, but dammit, this product needs to be in your possession and he'll make sure it's so.

Two weeks ago before our move, I finally bought a Billy Mays product. Can you guess what it was? Of course, it was KABOOM Bowl Blaster. I always loved the name, the magenta bottle and the foaming action. Who ISN'T attracted by a foaming toilet-bowl cleaner? Come clean, consumers. You want some KABOOM.

My excuse is that I've been using natural, bio-degradable products in the home for several years now and as a result, my toilets in Vancouver, WA looked like crap. There's something in the water up there, like lime or something, that makes stains. Kind of greenish-brown stains, all around the rim, wherever there's been water passing through. So I got some KABOOM. I was willing to try anything. Even bleach hadn't worked. So I let it foam away. It kind of smells like raspberry gummy sours, which is a weird smell in a bathroom.

Did it work? No. Stains were still there, although slightly faded. Perhaps I had waited too long and the hard-water build-up had completely taken over, but it was fun and I enjoyed the experience. I left it behind for the new owners. I thought it would cheer them up to get in their brand new Northwestern digs and find a magenta bottle of KABOOM in the bathroom. A little welcoming present. Now it will have extra resonance with the passing of Billy Mays.

The geniuses at ONTD have noted that the Discovery Channel has scheduled a "Pitchmen" marathon for Wed., July 1st from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mays and Anthony "Sully" Sullivan co-hosted the behind-the-scenes show about the making and marketing of infomercial-product inventions. I don't have cable at the moment, or even TV itself, but I just thought you would want to know.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Au Revoir, Sky Saxon of The Seeds

It's been quite a week of celebrity death. I'm still reeling from the concept of a world minus Michael Jackson. I literally grew up hearing Michael Jackson (and his brothers) and have watched a lot of people joyfully dance and sing along to Michael Jackson. He was truly one of a kind and I will miss him, even if he was struggling for the last decade or so. There was something delicate and vulnerable to him, even as a confident child pop star. When I was child, I sensed a sadness there. He loomed large in my subconscious in troublesome, not very comforting ways, but I LOVED him and his phenomenal talent just the same.

Farrah Fawcett was an interesting sex symbol. She really did all kinds of stuff to avoid being called that, yet who was sexier in the 70s? It's always sad to watch someone fight against their natural abilities (in her case: photographing sexy), but she was so effortlessly "watchable" and that face! That smile! An Earthbound goddess. Another dark figure though. Leaving "Charlie's Angels" after only one season. "The Burning Bed"--yikes. Ryan O'Neal--I know the man is grieving, but I'm going to say it, "YIKES." We'll always remember her golden glow and although her bathing-suit poster is a classic, I liked the one of her on the skateboard better. I used to ride a skateboard, so that probably explains that.

Then there was Sky Saxon. His death made me personally sad because I briefly knew him in a surreal and perfectly Sky Saxon way. My band She Mob once played a Halloween show at the Purple Onion and he figured prominently that night. I can't adequately explain the atmosphere of early 90s-era Purple Onion, suffice to say, it's in a basement, so it was necessary to lug musical equipment downstairs in order to play there (once manager and famous nut-case Tom Guido showed up to unlock the gate and let you in).

As you descended into this literally underground realm, all sorts of oddball San Francisco history wafted around you, starting with the 60s comedy scene (think: Phyllis Diller, just starting out) and then rolling into a garage-rock venue that was passionately overseen by Guido and his intense need for 60s fuzztone soundz.

All that intensity played out in interesting and often indescribable ways. Like the time we opened for Brian Jonestown Massacre and watched as a member (ahem) of the band got a blowjob pretty much out on the floor in front of everyone before going on stage and blowing us all (ahem) away. These happenings were nothing compared to the bi-polar wrath that Guido could dish out at any moment to anyone for any (usually imagined) reason. He adored our band but it was an edgy sort of love.

So there we were, dressed as a bad acid trip (it was Halloween in North Beach!) with our friends dressed as an Easter Island statue, a port-o-let, a glamorous drag queen (made more so by the general disgruntlement of the drag queen being stuck in a basement in North Beach on Halloween), and memorably, death himself, who we thought was a Halloween prop until it moved and started dancing around to one of our songs. All went well. Even Tom Guido was thrilled by our newest 60s-inspired pop tune.

When Sky Saxon took the stage after us, Tom suddenly announced that we would be backing him. We looked around in our bad acid finery, saying, "Whu-WHAT?" until he explained that that's how Sky Saxon always worked nowadays. He played with whatever opening band was billed that night, sang over their songs in his own made-up-on-the-spot lyrics, and recorded it for his pending record release. Well, once that was explained, all became clear. As mud. Being up for anything (we once dressed as Power Puff girls, wearing towels as capes), we were happy to help out a 60s icon. It was a thrill to play music with the guy who sang "Pushin' to hard on meeeee" so urgently.

So we proceeded to play our entire set over again while Saxon did his thing out front. According to my friend, Laura (Easter Island statue of the night), it was beyond memorable. We were possibly suffering too much from a contact high from the entire evening to even understand what was being sung and spoken to our music. It was strange, surreal fun and I'm really glad we got a chance to play with the guy, who was a very nice, soft-spoken individual. I don't know if the record ever got made. I was so curious to listen to it over the years.

Eons later, we emerged from our Berkeley rehearsal studio one evening and there was Sky, hanging out with the guy who rented a the warehouse next door. He started explaining who he was to us before I interrupted with, "We know who you are. We PLAYED with you once! Remember?" He puzzled over that and admitted that he might remember us vaguely. I just loved that guy. Every meeting with him was funny in a pleasant and interesting way.

Here's some photos from the Halloween show.

Sky is sitting in the middle next to his (extremely sweet) wife. His friends all around him.
Sky Saxon at the Purple Onion, San Francisco
Here's our bad acid look. Classy as always.

This was the most popular costume in Castro Street history that week. Laura could work wonders with a laundry basket and paper mache.
Our friend Neo, holding the orb; a glowing, flashing, globe-on-a-stick that emitted thunderous sound effects. Neo really knows how to make an entrance.

The Seeds - Can't Seem to Make you Mine (Thanks Stereo Steve)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hayao Miyazaki's "Ponyo" trailer

Coming to theaters in the U.S. in August. When the narrator says "one of the greatest filmmakers of all time" and "his next masterpiece," he's not kidding.

Wikipedia will explain it all, as usual.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

We have landed in California

Items that dropped on my left or right foot while packing this week:

1.) Extremely heavy book-end made out of some kind of carved stone.

2.) A television remote, angled for maximum impact upon the joint where my big toe bends each time I take a step.

3.) Something I can't even remember (a child's toy?) that hurt like hell but I was too busy to notice at the time. This was a time-released injury that made itself felt throughout the day at hourly increments.

But we made it. Rain showers throughout Oregon, getting brighter and sunnier and hotter as we headed toward Mount Shasta (the town). Mount Shasta (the town) is so cute. It has this little downtown full of old one-story buildings where every other store-front appears to be a cool looking cafe with free Wi-Fi. Or a crystal shop or a tempeh deli or a bookstore.

Because our child hates most all food (with a passion), we found out where the nearest pizza was located. This turned out to be Say Cheese which is a sports bar with a salad bar and an arcade full of tween-age boys playing speed basketball and Dance Dance Revolution. In my punchy traveling/moving state, I found this really charming. Maybe because Mt. Shasta (the mountain) looms over the entire town like something out of anime fable. The melted snow in June looks like tiger stripes going down every which way. Dude, it's impressive.

So here we are in sunny Northern California where the unemployment rate has reached 11.5%, compared to Oregon's 12.5%. So far, we're feeling right at home.

Mt. Shasta, through the windshieldOh, hai there Mt. Shasta!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Missing the 90s yet?

Generation X Consulting Services

This is an actual ad that I've saved for more than a decade. Any business named Reality Inc. is destined to fail but I've always admired their entrepreneurial spirit, inspiring me to greater heights in ridiculousness.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Strong Bad Email: Death Metal

Strong Bad extensively answers a question about death metal from Corvallis, Oregon. Oh Strong Bad, thanks for the lulz.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Falling in Love romance comics - 1966

Look what I found while packing this week: Falling in Love comics from 1966. I bought this in NYC sometime in the 80s before the Internet, when irony was street-level in nature and generally affordable. This is one of my all-time favorite comic books EVER. It's beyond a comic book and in the realm of alternate reality, involving overblown emotions, freak-outs, and perfect hair.

It's literally falling apart when I read it now and little crumbles of its pages got left behind on my scanner. Oh "Falling in Love," don't disintegrate our precious love!!! Let's have a look-see.

Here's the cover. Is it any wonder I couldn't resist this at $2.50 at the used comics store? It's very difficult to find vintage romance comics these days and most of them aren't even this good, meaning: entertaining and surreal.
What's up with that palm frond going across his powder-blue business suit? Kind of S&M-y.

Here's an ad. I like the idea of raising sea monkeys while wearing your 10 Way Hairpiece with 10 glamour styles. No sense in not looking your best while feeding your krill.

Our first story: Hold Back the Stars. Whoo! Way to start us off, mystery editors, whoever you are/were.

So this lady, Nina, is so neurotic, that falling in love to her is like getting hooked on crack cocaine. She MUST RESIST the temptation, to the point where she's actually fleeing from a man she just saw a second ago in a crowded restaurant, turning her into fire...into ashes...into water. I know people weren't THIS fucked up in 1966, were they?

Her love fantasies begin to resemble a trip through time and space, which would be a little scary, I admit.
Let's check out the details here.
How can you stop a dream from kissing you until you drown in a cloudburst of stars? I don't know. I don't wanna know.

So she throws herself into her work as a typist, clacking away furiously to drown out the hallucinations, all the while pushing her little sister, Kitten, into some fantasy of financial security by making her attend secretarial school. Oh perchance to dream!

Meanwhile "the Kitten" has been making a little love connection herself--with the man Nina fled from, way back on page 1!!!

I shut my eyes tightly when his mouth met hers... But the kiss burned right through my closed eyelids...
This image always makes me queasy. It has the power to induce nausea! That's why I love this comic so much. It's very powerful. I mean, that's some kiss.

Don't worry--it all comes out in the wash. Nina and the guy realize that they truly love each other, based on that one-second meeting/fleeing from the restaurant, and the Kitten understands because she's very conveniently docile as her older sister makes out with her new boyfriend moments after stumbling upon them during their romantic dock-side date. It makes no sense, but neither

Oh, another ad.
You know you want these art puppies.

Say, what's in next issue of "Falling in Love"? Looks like lots and lots of hand-drawn fonts are in store for you.
I count at least 14 fonts in this ad. Impressive.

Our cover story is a doozy. Our girl, who shall remain nameless because I already packed the comic book and can't refer to it at the moment, has been groomed by her spinster aunt to attract men. All men, but especially financially secure men. It's not what you think. Oh well, I guess it is. Hey, it was 1966.

The men fall for her bag of tricks like the easily manipulated saps that they are, all except ONE man. THE one, of course; some doctor. She can't get his attention. He'd rather hold his hand up as a force field than even LOOK her way.
This of course fucks with her head big-time. She even starts hallucinating and begs her late aunt to help her get this guy to fall for her like he's SUPPOSED TO. I like how in the last panel, the aunt in her thought bubble gives her a "bitch, please" look just before she fades away forever. Hey, if you grow up with the brains of a bag of grass seed, even your manipulators will shun you eventually. Especially if they're dead.

But does she learn anything about her true feelings and how to express them? No, she's actually so upset by the doctor's implied rejection that she FAINTS at a swanky shindig, causing him to, of course, fall in love with her.
Doctor Colby explains his feelings thus, So you CAN feel...and cry...and faint. Was any love expressed so sweetly? I like how he compares her man-grabbing techniques to collecting scalps. Gruesome! And that's the way love is.

I like this early network-marketing ad because the people in the top-left corner remind me of walking around Oregon.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Muslim Voices Festival 2009

We live too far from New York to partake in its cultural wonders these days, but I wish we could go to Muslim Voices, which is finishing its run this week. YouTube must bring the Muslim Voices to us. Here's a small sampling of world music excellence.

Said Guissi's Aissawa Ensemble from Fes, Morocco. Incredibly, I've been to Fes! It's an amazing place, especially the Medina which is medieval in age. If you ever go, get a guide--you'll need one in the tremendous and ancient maze that is the Medina.

Faiz Ali Faiz and his ensemble - master of qawwali, Pakistani Sufi praise song.

Kamilya Jubran is originally from Israel and tours through Europe and the Middle East, singing and playing the oud.

With Gilles Coronado, covering All Along the Watchtower with an oud.

Brahim Fribgane playing the doumbek, a traditional North African drum.

Youssou N'Dour is one of my favorites. He's from Senegal and a giant in world music.

7 Seconds with Neneh Cherry. You just can't go wrong with Neneh Cherry.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Stink'n Link'n

Every time I see a movable object in my house, I either:

a) Stuff it in a box.
b) Ponder the concept of when I'll presently be stuffing it in a box.
c) Get right to stuffing it in a box, as soon as I finish stuffing this other thing into another box.

All of the above, of course. It's moving time around here and that means even stuff that hasn't moved in years (like a heavy stereo receiver full of dust bunnies) pretty much gets stuffed in a box, dumped in a bag, or set on a shelf until further notice. I'm patiently waiting my box delivery moving pack--a big 60-lb. shipment of boxes, bubble wrap, wrapping paper and tape. You can now buy all that cardboard goodness in a bundle online and it shows up at your door, ready to be taped, stuffed and taped some more.

That's pretty much it. Here's some links because I haven't got time for the blog. How will I pack my precious computer? (Hugging it), oh Precioussss...

David Lynch is always up to something. He's currently producing something called the Interview Project. A team of filmmakers travel around the U.S. in a van and interview the people they meet along the way. This week's interview in Arizona is with Kee.

Best Google News headline all week:
"Idol" runner-up Adam Lambert says he's gay, signs deal.
Good deal, Adam Lambert.

The most beautiful libraries throughout the world from Curious Expeditions. (Thanks for the link, Ray.)

The Runaways biopic is cast and ready for its close-up. Could totally suck and that would still be entertaining.

My Milk Toof - cute or sinister? YOU be the judge.

LATFH. Sure, why not?

Play Him Off Keyboard Cat - the meme that's sweeping the nation. DON'T be left out!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

California, here we come

In a couple more weeks, we'll be heading south to Cali-for-nia, birthplace of the official California dream, where it's always sunny, warm and beach-like. The SPF-40 flows like water and the water is rationed as if it were gold. It's the Golden State, people. Time to reflect on our upcoming relocation to the original location of our initial relocation up North.

First a little mood music. This adequately expresses some of my feelings while living in California. Like when I'm driving on the freeway, or trying to find a parking place in the city, or paying the rent. It's enough to knock that piece of hay right out of my mouth!

So let's talk about driving. One of the first differences I noticed about living in SW Washington was that everyone drives really slowly, even on the freeway. Then I realized, they were actually driving the speed limit. I just hadn't experienced that in so long, I thought it was slow. Soon, I too learned to slow down and smell the evergreen air as I kind of zipped along at 55 or 65, depending. I got to like this speed and I continue to drive it in California, way over in the right lane. People pass me, going 85 and 90 all the time, but I don't care because I'm saving gas and what's their rush anyway? Where are you all going Californians? It can't be THAT great.

The same thing happens in the city. You're tooling along at 25 or whatever in traffic, waiting for lights to change, and invariably, some guy (almost always, it's a guy) whips around you like you're gumming up the whole works. Then he gets to the next red light first. As I pull up to his bumper, I always think, well, you beat me to the light. Well played, asshole.

And high prices? Yes, California--you, whether you want to admit it or not, have become Manhattanized thoroughly. Everything costs more in California. Gas, food and lodging--ka-CHING.

But let me say this about my home state and state of being, that intensity level in California that can be so annoying and stressful at times is reflective of a trait I have missed up north: Passion. It's not that people are passionless in the Portland metro region. They LOVE all kinds of stuff going on, especially outdoorsy stuff and children-oriented stuff and arty-writerly stuff.

But there's very little industry and um, entrepreneurial growth; very little business growth at all. It's pretty bleak around here, industry and innovation-wise. All those California dreamers (from all over the world) really buckle down and work their asses off. It's stressful, yes, but it's also industrious and exciting. It's dynamic. I didn't know I missed that until we decided to come back. Like when I once lived in Mexico for a few months and started missing sandwiches and hamburgers--food I could hold in my bare hands. You just never know what you'll miss...

Here's to you California. You do know how to party.

California Love - 2Pac

Friday, June 05, 2009

Once a New York Doll, Always a New York Doll

I finally saw Greg Whiteley's documentary, "New York Doll" last night and was moved to tears. It's the bio of Arthur "Killer" Kane, bassist for the NY Dolls, who I knew NOTHING about before seeing the film. Perhaps the film has that much more impact due to my ignorance. As gentle giant Arthur's story unfolded, I was completely compelled throughout.

The NY Dolls were one of those bands that everyone knows about but not every knows a lot about the details. The film compacts 30 years of rock history (and obscurity) into a tight, entertaining, emotionally fitful and satisfying arc. How Arthur went from fame and potential fortune at the beginning of his adulthood, and how all his desires were thwarted and how he eventually came to experience that moment again, much later in his life, after years of poverty, addiction and redemption, is legendary stuff.

Plus there's entertaining interviews with Mormons throughout. I loved it. Let's have a New York Dolls moment, shall we, in honor of Arthur Kane.

"New York Doll" trailer

Personality Crisis - 1973

Jet Boy - The Dolls on The Old Grey Whistle Test show in '73. According to the film, this performance on the usually staid prog-rock/classic rock format blew everyone's minds, including young Morrissey, future members of the Clash, Sex Pistols, etc., etc. Unfortunately for the Dolls, they were so ahead of their time ('73!) and had so many tragedies to contend with, including the death of their 21-year-old drummer shortly after this performance, that their instant rock icon status brought none of the material success that it promises.

Looking for a Kiss


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Point Break Sock Puppet Show - because I am tired

I packed a lot of boxes today (but of course, not NEARLY enough) and it's super-hot, bra. So I don't have time to blog because I have to go watch "Lost in America," Albert Brooks' yuppie riches-to-rags road movie. It's the best and it's mirroring my life, which is kind of sad and really funny as well.

Please enjoy this sock puppet show from one of the best Zen-surf-detective stories of all time.

From Sock Tube Presents.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Mad Men season 3 promo

It's a rehash of last season and the new season doesn't start until AUGUST. Must AMC punish is so?

To reiterate:

"Well, if it isn't the man in the gray flannel suit." (face punch)
"And I KNOW you're having an AFFAIR."
"I put this deal together."
"I want you to be my wife."
"I had your baby."
"You're not Don Draper."
"You have LOST your mind!"
"I'm pregnant."
"Move forward."

When I was a Web content provider, we NEVER had dialogue like this around the office. I can't wait for the dramatics to start up again in August.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Quincy M.E.'s punk rock influence

My Grandma Frutosa, rest her soul, watched a lot of dark television shows. She also subscribed to those "detective" magazines with the girl on the cover, tied up and barely rescued by intrepid forces of good over evil. She had a morbid streak I guess. Every afternoon she watched The Untouchables, a 50s-era Elliot Ness series starring Robert Stack that was the most violent and disturbing show I had ever seen.

Also there was much watching of Perry Mason, with its badass protagonist Raymond Burr, forcing a confession from the murderer while the perp was on the witness stand in a court of law. Every single fucking episode. That's entertainment.

By the 70s, television detectives were all kinds of quirky. Barnaby Jones was a senior citizen. Cannon was round, like a cannonball. Kojak was bald, habitulally sucked on lollipops and called everyone, "baby." McCloud was a country bumpkin, or was he? And Columbo was well, he was, um, forgetful. Or WAS HE? There was even a blind detective and a detective in a wheelchair but those shows didn't last as long (their chase scenes were pretty compromised).

So that leaves Jack Klugman as Quincy, the medical examiner who solves crimes by performing autopsies. Let's look in on one of the most famous and influential episodes of Quincy and I'll think fondly of my grandmother and her need for syndicated crime stories and their neatly wrapped up conclusions and memorable theme songs.

First, the Quincy theme song (with lyrics!).


Quincy "Next Stop, Nowhere" teaser

Quincy "Next Stop, Nowhere" (punk episode), 1982. I lived through this era and I'm here to tell you: it was JUST like this. Except instead of a knife on the dance floor, I lost my earring and the heartless slam-dancing punks wouldn't stop bashing into each other so I could find it. That was fucked up. Also once at a show at the IBeam on Haight Street this stupid indie rock girl accidentally burned a hole in my fleece jacket sleeve with her dangling cigarette. I was angry, I tell you. ANGRY. We all were.

Quincy has been very influential in musical circles. Just ask Spoon.