Friday, September 30, 2011

Songs About Shellfish

It's Fish Friday (all Catholics of a certain age will know what I mean) and while the Pope no longer decrees what we're allowed to eat at the end of the working week, we can still celebrate with songs about shellfish. Actually, was it OK to eat shellfish on Fridays? I hope nobody sinned without knowing it! I hate when that happens.

Rock Lobster - The B-52's classic in its official video format. Back in high school when it was barely the 80s, our school's only punk, Skip, played this for me. She was a senior who wore fascinatingly weird clothing combinations of plaid and day-glow, had a boy haircut and always sported red, red lipstick. One day during lunch period she dragged me, a lowly sophomore, still dressed in corduroys and delicate floral blouses, to the school drama room's portable turntable and demanded that I listen to this from her personal record collection.

There are moments that alter our lives and we usually know what is happening at the time but we don't always have the words to describe it. This was one such moment for me. Thanks, Skip (she went on to become a preppy at Cal Berkeley--always the forward-thinker). While I listened to Rock Lobster with my teen-aged ears, I knew beyond a doubt there is a wide world out there beyond anything I could imagine. Plus you can dance to it.

Crawfish - Elvis Presley and Kitty White pour their hearts and souls into this sultry ode to the lowly bottom-dweller in "King Creole."

The Mollusk - If ever a band was up to the challenge of writing a prog-rock masterpiece about shellfish, it would be Ween. Then the Animated Brick Company made a video for it with LEGO. Ambition all around.

Eclectic Prawn - I already posted this song and video from Dumbo Gets Mad. But it's so great, it deserves a double-posting. And it's about a prawn who wears a little bitty crown. He's eclectic, you see. And the organ melodies have been stuck in my head for three days. Now they can be stuck in yours. You won't be sorry.

The Lobster Quadrille - Franz Ferdinand. The poem is by Lewis Carroll as envisioned by Tim Burton. This vision of Wonderland is dark and creepy. It depresses me but I haven't seen the movie yet so maybe it's a really feel-good venture. Um, yes.

And while we're at it, The Walrus and the Carpenter - a brutal lesson about the realities of the food chain and capitalism. And cabbages and kings.

Inflatable Boy Clams - Sorry. Not a song about shellfish but a tune by the 1981 band named after shellfish. A classic of bizarre proportions. I like to think this is based on two passive-aggressive roommates who once lived in San Francisco in a damp flat with orange wall-to-wall shag carpeting. One rents the bedroom with the window that looks out at a nearby wall and drainpipe. The other lives in the sun porch off the kitchen with just enough space for a twin mattress and an apple crate. A curtain made from an old quilt hangs in her doorway. The third bedroom is rented by a male model who is somewhere in Japan, dancing in a cornfield with an 16-year-old on his shoulders for a photo shoot. Not that I would know anything about this...

We end with The Smothers Brothers' Crabs Walk Sideways. Folk on, shellfish lovers!

Monday, September 26, 2011

From the mixed-up MP3 files of Mrs. Captive Wild Woman blogspot dot com

It's one of those days. The 100+ degree weather has taken a turn and suddenly we're wearing pants. And socks. And cardigans. Not to worry because thanks to climate change we'll be back at the community pool in 90-degree heat within a day or so. It's like living in two places at once with two wardrobes and of course, the squirrels (no matter what the season, weather, or mindset, there are squirrels).

So what's on the MP3 playlist today? I set it for random scramble (like a squirrel) and here's what came up. Enjoy.

Dumbo Gets Mad - Eclectic Prawn. From Italy and really quite a mish-mash of wonderful things.

The Appleseed Cast - End Frigate Constellation. Prog not dead.

Why not see them live? I think you won't be sorry.

Odjbox - Teresina. Technically I'm listening to their remix, Sepia Sky, but there's no video for it, unfortunately. This is also fun and has clips from one of my favorite old films, "Dance Girl Dance."

Dum Dum Girls - Bedroom Eyes. Bringing the girlish back to girl groups.

Ty Segall - The Drag. This young fellow can really rock (said while in my rocking chair on the porch with a bowl of roasted almonds in my lap).

Plus: no video but worth a listen (and a free download):

Extra Happy Ghost - Mercy Mercy

Mark Davis - Eliminate the Toxins

Comet Gain - Working Circle Explosive!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Most-hated-words Haiku

Where would we be without language? We'd be davfn e8pawu asgfwj 3 da9nfn67, that's where. But as great as language can be, there are words which bother, bewilder and sometimes even disgust us. Words that are "icky" to say, or have weird meanings we don't want to deal with, or are overused, becoming meaningless word tics. These most-hated-words are the inspiration for my haiku. And because Internet poetry is such an excellent search-engine lure (snerk!), it's win-win. Oh God, I HATE the word, win-win.

Do not say pamphlet
It sounds like Pamprin panties
Stop saying it, please!

How lame is shampoo?
Do you want it on your head?
I didn't think so

Hey, sexy nipples!
Absolutely erotic!
Not bloody likely

Struggle for respect
A voice in the wilderness
twitter does not help

DVDs are here!
Happiness tempered by
stupid Qwikster name

Irregardless, I'd
like to reiterate
that I'm an idiot

just laugh, you moron

I want you to know
verbage was never a word
but garbage still works

Dude, hella awesome
mommy blogger webinar!
Epic beige pamphlets!
(Just trying to squeeze as many in as possible. Carry on...)

Thanks to my friends who contributed their most hated words. There's enough for a possible Vol. II - epic!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

R.E.M. was really fucking great

And now I will bore you with my R.E.M. story. I dragged my roommate to an R.E.M. show at The Stone on Broadway in San Francisco for the 1983 tour. This was on the back of the "Murmur" album, which was mostly known through college radio. I had heard Radio Free Europe once on KSAN or some such free-form commercial station and I was smitten. "C'mon," I told my skeptical roommate, "This band is really great. I'm not kidding. We gotta go see them." I was like something out of a Brady Bunch episode.

So on the basis of that one unarguably great song, we went to see R.E.M. The Stone was a nondescript rec-room of a club, generally booked by heavy-metal and up-and-coming indie acts. Its main distinction was a black-and-white tiled floor and a clothing boutique across the street that could outfit you like a member of Poison, if you so desired.

Since there were only a couple hundred people there (I think capacity was 350), we just parked in front of the stage and drowned ourselves in R.E.M.'s youthful, talented musical energies for the entire set. Mike Mills winked at us a few times which freaked us out because we were 19 and thought of him as an "older man." And also I was very insecure and assumed he might just have an eye tic, but maybe not. Michael Stipe was the Frank Sinatra of indie rock, voice-wise but was adorably shy in that "sitting in the corner of English class" college way. Still: Peter Buck was the man. He has double-jointed fingers, I'm sure of it. No one can play like him then and now. Oh, and lest we forget: Bill Berry was/is a great drummer and the heart of R.E.M. It was really sad when he had to quit the band. It took a lot out of them, I think we can all agree.

That show was as excellent as they come. Really one of the finest nights in my life. I never saw them again because I knew they could never surpass that show in my mind. It's twisted and probably wrong of me, but I was happy with my memories without sullying the situation with possibly inferior outings in the future. Plus I saw Peter Buck and his magical fingers numerous times with his other bands, so I'm good. They really opened up music for a lot of people, injecting energy and innovation into folk/punk-rock. Thanks guys.

Man, I'm old.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Army Navy - Ode to Janice Melt

Army Navy's got a bright Brit-pop thing going on even though they're from Los Angeles. And probably because they're from Los Angeles, their music videos are like wee films of absurd weirdness featuring fairly high production values and coherent (if bizarre) concepts. "Ode to Janice Melt" has adorable Jason Ritter falling into forbidden love...with his hand.

Army Navy isn't afraid to get their funny on. Probably a smart business plan in today's crap music industry.

"My Thin Sides"


As seen on NPR's All Songs Considered Blog

Monday, September 19, 2011

Happy Bonzo Dog Band Day

I was watching the six-part Monty Python documentary, "Almost The Truth (The Lawyer's Cut)" today and The Bonzo Dog Band got a big shout-out in episode one. They were very influential to the future Pythons when they were just starting out on the show "Do Not Adjust Your Set." And while Peter Sellers, Peter Cook and other comic geniuses of the day were doing their blend of dry, absurd and silly, the Dog Band was just plain weird. Truly "out there" and free-form. The blend of influences all came together and the rest is Flying Circus history. Let's listen in.

"Almost The Truth" is currently streaming on Netflix, but who knows how long that will last. The situation at Netflix is fluid, as in quite possibly running down the drain.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Top-ten whatever...

The Internet has way too many numbered lists of things. But here are some that may be worth noting. Noting how with all our infinite resources on a planet perfect for human habitation, we've managed to dumb it down so thoroughly. Enjoy.

10 Worst Infomercials. This is a decent list of horrifying consumer products. My brother still has nightmares about the hair trimmer (#4). The key words: no matter how much they squirm, should have been a tip-off to my mom that as my brother still proclaims, "IT HURTS! OH GOD--HOW IT HURTS!" Also, I can watch The Hawaii Chair (#2) over and over again. It's hypnotically inane.

10 Trippiest Cereal Ads. Take a journey into the realm of your mind. Before noon? Yes, before noon.

10 Craziest Award-show Crashers. Award shows are perhaps the biggest time-wasters you can voluntarily submit yourself to. Would you pay to spend hours of your life watching a bunch of industry hoo-haws congratulate and thank each other between endless bouts of chatter and bad comedy-writing? Then why would you watch it on TV, even with bathroom breaks? Crashers help break the veneer of glossy civility and remind us that in a universe without end, we are never in control.

10 Commercials Before They Were Stars. Reminding us that celebrities once came from humble beginnings, like most of us. Humble beginnings that if nationally syndicated, brought them hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue.

For the rest of us, this is more like it.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cardboard Tube Fight - this weekend

Today we explore the epic melee that is cardboard tube fighting. The Cardboard Tube Fighting League will hold a cardboard tube fight in San Francisco this Saturday on September 17th, the year 2011, 11:30 to 4 in the afternoon, at the Hayes Valley Farm.

Enter the cardboard costume contest. Cardboard wrapping-paper tubes will be provided. Fight 'til the last tube is standing (not bent). Just think: you and hundreds of cardboard-clad hipsters, duking it out in a cardboard tube frenzy.

The memorable cardboard-tube battle of 2008 - Dolores Park, San Francisco.

Cardboard - packaging material, rooted in violence.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Thoughts on the Circus

You might be aware that yesterday was the tenth anniversary of 9/11. For me, it was important to get as far away from remembrances as possible. Not because I'm unfeeling. I'm actually the opposite. I have so many feelings, they tend to spill over into a flood of unchecked emotion, which threatens my mental health at times. On top of which, I've been dealing with a very sick kid on and off for two years now and lately he's been off (though much better today, thanks for asking!).

This year, disturbing, depressing, heavy topics, narratives and historical events tend to bring me way, way down. They always did--it's just that now, they bring me down to the point where I have trouble getting back up again. So, yesterday, we went to the circus.

I didn't mean to get tickets for the circus yesterday. It worked out that way in a moment of accidental planning that probably was for the best. My mom's been wanting to take Jackson to the circus for a long time. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey show as in town, so what better circus experience is that? Well, as my mom said afterwards, "It's not like it used to be."

First inkling that something might be overly modernized was the title of the show, "Fully Charged." I had images of Las Vegas electrical mayhem stuck in my head as I purchased the ridiculously expensive tickets with their multiple service charges tacked on (thanks for the tickets, mom). And I think from my minimal photography below, you will note: yes, that is one fully charged show. The lights actually didn't bother me and there were lots of cool explosions and firework-type entrances, but my mom has eye troubles and it was hard for her to see stuff, looking directly into the crazy circus entry point that must have had 50 fully charged color patterns throughout the show.

My main issue was noise level. Oh God--it was SO LOUD. There was a live band with lots of fully charged synthesizers and even with ear plugs, my head felt jack-hammered for more than an hour before intermission. Caveat: I am a drummer in a rock band. I play really, really loud sometimes. Nothing I've ever experienced in a band or at a rock show, including thrash metal, came close to the decibels of Fully Charged. I was punch drunk all night afterwards. How this affected toddlers in the audience with developing ear drums, I don't want to dwell upon too thoroughly. I already mentioned that I'm overly emotional.

And then there's the issue of all the toddlers in the audience and children in general. Most children at this particular afternoon show at the reverberating Oracle Arena were too young to get much out of this gigantic spectacle. They don't yet have context during their brief lives for the tiger tamer and his giant striped kitties on pedestals. Nor for the strong men who are as wide as they are tall, swinging lovely ladies from telephone poles like a human carnival ride. To toddlers, Velcro enclosures and electric toothbrushes are still considered miraculous.

Even my nine-year-old was bored by the seemingly impossible stunts at times. To him, that's what circus performers are hired to do. And the tigers... When I expressed wonder at how their trainer was able to get them up on their hind legs, like hamsters, and then roll over in unison, when most dog-owners can't do the same with their animals, Jackson matter-of-factly stated (with a shrug), "Well, they are trained." Maybe multi-media saturation has managed to ruin the wonder of circuses somehow.

But let's be clear: I dig the circus. It's main job, to wow us with impossibility, thrills, laughter, color, and surreal epic showmanship, will hopefully prevail for the next few centuries. I told my mom it's like modern vaudeville and aside from "America's Got Talent," what spectacle promises that? The circus tradition brings together people from all over the world, working together like a Lycra-encased eccentric multi-talented family. I'm sorry about the animal-rights situation with performing animals. That's a tradition that seems to be slowly fading away and only appears to prevail under the public-relations guise of "edutainment." Still: elephants in sequined headdresses! And pretty horses, all running in formation!

Ultimately, the Ringling Bros. set out to overwhelm and blow our minds and I will say: yup--mind blown. Eardrums too. And watching Brian Miser, The Human Fuse, get shot from a gigantic crossbow across the entire stage at 65 miles per hour while completely on fire, is, as Jackson admitted while we left the show early to save our sanity, "Cool."

Check out the amazing Fernandez Brothers. They are truly fully charged!

He tried to act blasé and he wanted to leave early, but his face betrays more than a touch of excitement at the goings-on around him.

p.s. Jackson agrees, the "How Many Clowns Does it Take to Change a Light Bulb" show was really funny.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

George Kuchar - In Memoriam

The great camp filmmaker George Kuchar has died at age 69. It's a sad day. He was a nice man. A creative man. A driven man, who inspired untold numbers of filmmakers over the years.

Starting in adolescence, he and his twin brother Mike had their aesthetic down--Hollywood homage demento. Their early films premiered in New York City where underground-film goers marveled at their loving and lurid tales of depravity and loneliness. John Waters was truly inspired and took off on his own wild tangent shortly thereafter.

George and Mike continued to make films until the present. George also taught filmmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute. His low-budget, let's-put-on-a-twisted-show approach was a lesson in resourcefulness and filmic wonder. His use of background music alone is brilliant, but it's the color and the pathos that get to me. Every time.

Hold Me While I'm Naked (1966) - A classic. No, really. It truly is. Starring the lovely Donna Kerness.

I, An Actress (1977) - A "screen test" he shot with a student who was more interested in acting than filmmaking.

Dynasty of Depravity (2005) Part 1 - SFAI student filmmaking in action.

Part 2

George discusses his feelings about Texas in 2009.

I've written briefly about George and his obsession with severe weather patterns in the Midwestern United States. Mike continues to make films. My condolences to the Kuchar family.

NY Times obit

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

I Go To Sleep

In 1965 Ray Davies wrote and recorded "I Go To Sleep" with The Kinks. Most people have not heard that version though. Most people have heard almost everyone on Earth's version instead. Since I couldn't sleep last night (technically I slept great, until 4:30 a.m.--then, not so good), and my kid's been having a lot of sleep issues, I thought I'd explore the highways and byways of "I Go To Sleep." Won't you come along? It's a magic-carpet ride to Slumberland.

The Kinks


Peggy Lee

Marion Maerz

The Pretenders