24 April, 2013

Prince Makes Baba Ghanoush

23 April, 2013

Here's some artwork I contributed to China's *Pussy*.

I'm not happy with it but Anthony from China likes it, so...
Anyway, this is some vampire choke-sex. Because sometimes you need to choke out a vampire when you're fuckin'.

21 April, 2013

Here's why I like Hemlock Grove.

Hemlock Grove is Netflix's second and latest offering in terms of original content. Yesterday, on my double shift at work, I was able to get through the first four or five episodes.
I have this horrible habit, though, thanks to the internet, where I have to watch a movie or TV show and have the Wikipedia and IMDb pages open while I do. And so it's while I'm watching Hemlock Grove that I'm seeing where there a lot of critics who either hate it or hate it less than the guys who really hate it.
Me? I'm down. I don't think it's fantastic but as I'm a fan of werewolf mythology, I take what I can get.
Firstly, the werewolf, over the past decade, decade and a half, has been the easy villain in the Hollywood vampire lore. They hunt in packs, painted as savage and remorseless, and just murder the shit out of every living thing in their way and then, while in their human form, have this whole "fuck it" attitude and the audience is expected to hate them.
Werewolves, if you're new to the territory, actually don't want to murder the shit out of anybody. What's that movie with Kate Beckinsale? Am I even spelling her name right? Those movies that she's in with the vampires versus the werewolves, then those godawful neutered-movie-monster affairs by that Mormon housewife whose titles I dare not speak, I try to stay away from those because I don't want to see some bullshit where the werewolf is painted as a psychopath who waits for a particular moon phase to murder with impunity. And, yes, I'm saying that I have my suspicions of what those are about but I have not actually seen them. Feel free to correct me or tell me that I should really see those. I won't see them.
And then there's that werewolves are hard to write because they lack rules. Vampires have a ton of rules to be used, played with, twisted... Vampires, we know, can be killed only by sunlight or by a stake through the heart. OOOrrr, a stake through the heart and decapitation. They can move through locked doors but only after you grant them an invitation one time. They are vulnerable to garlic, silver, and holy water. They may not pass over running water. And then there's some other rules I'm missing. Long and short of it, though, is that vampires are appealing to writers because the rules are already laid out, half the writing is done. All of the character development and plot twists are right there in the rules.
Werewolves? Three rules: Full moons, a silver killing implement, and kill the werewolf that bit you to break the curse. That's it.
A new vampire story needs only a fresh coat of paint. A new werewolf story needs to maybe reinforce the foundation, along with some new windows, maybe a room extension here or there... You may as well knock the whole fucker down and start from scratch.
Go back to the eighties, for example, and check out the variety between movies like An American Werewolf in London (did away with the silver), Sliver Bullet (featured a mad priest as a werewolf), Wolfen (did away with the eastern European lore and introduced movie goers to a Native American mythology), the ssssuuuuppppeeeerrrr cheeseball The Howling (played to the hilt straight orthodox werewolf mythology). Go back and check out the Lon Chaney Jr. version of The Wolfman. Those are superb werewolf movies and not one of them plays the same.
I also have a vague recollection of Fox's Werewolf. I remember that being bad ass. Homie had a pentagram on his hand that would bleed before he turned.
And lately, all werewolves have been are easy villains to kill off because they threaten vampires and humans alike and blah blah fucking blah.
And then comes along Hemlock Grove on Netflix and I see the trailer and I think, "Thank. Fuck."
Now, if you haven't seen it, Hemlock Grove has to do with werewolves as much as The Dark Knight Rises had to do with Batman: They're there, they're talked about, but when they show up, it's like a goddamned cameo. But maybe that's what we need right now. After all, how often is the moon full?
And the show doesn't rest on its laurels. It actually takes on a Dark Shadows bent. You remember four years ago when I told your sorry ass about Dark Shadows, right? That show had ghosts, demons, vampires, werewolves, witches, Cthulhu mythos elements... It was weird as shit and awesome as hell. That was a show to watch. And, right now, Hemlock Grove is bringing that shit back.
You know what this show is giving you?
Werewolf gypsy kid.
Bodies ripped in goddamned shit hell ass half. ON THE REG.
Vampire dude that doesn't even know he's a vampire. (How the hell can he not know!? Fuck!)
Seven foot tall Frankenstein girl with a creep-ass bug-eye and she glows and why the hell are her hands bandaged?
Famke Janssen doing a serviceable to shitty Cockney accent.
Lili Taylor looking hotter than she did in Factotum.
A creep-ass genetics R&D facility in a skyscraper in the middle of got-damn nowhere.
And - wait for it - some whacked the shit out clandestine Catholic thing called The Order of the Dragon or something.
Look at that fucking list. Werewolves, vampires, frankensteins, genetic mutations, Catholic conspiracies, beautiful women. All rolled into one? Why in hell did they not name this Dark Shadows II?
Well, probably because it's taken from the book, Hemlock Grove. And producer Eli Roth (the guy who did those Hostel movies) is doing his damnedest to slay the ever living daylights out of that sparkle-vampire-teen Mormon B.S. The high school kids in Hemlock Grove fuck indiscriminately, they snort coke and smoke dope, they drink coal miners under the table, and they cuss classier than I can.
Now, no. This is not going to be the best show ever. The best show ever was The Wire. But, as far as monster shows out there, this puts True Blood to shame. In trying to describe this show to Georgie, I eventually had to tell her, Look, Ture Blood is made for girls, Hemlock Grove is made for guys.
There're no gothy elements to this and it moves along at a relievably faster clip than The Walking Dead. There's plenty of gore where it's needed and when the show hits its slower moments, they pack those moments with intrigue. It's keeping me glued, at any rate.
Look, right now, we have some options for monster TV series.
True Blood (Is that still going?) is a show about sex with some vampires.
The Walking Dead is a show about people bickering with some zombies.
Hemlock Grove is a show about werewolves with a werewolf.
So there are some critics that hate on it, so what? Maybe they want more sex and bickering to say it's about human drama or something. I want a goddamend werewolf show and this show delivers that and a lot more.
You want guts, gore, and a detective story? Well, damn, son, this puts Bates Motel in a paper bag and smacks it with a dowel rod.

20 April, 2013

Recent Love (I've Made the Decision to Start Smoking Grass Again Edition)

China, Pussy
Yes. Yes. Yes, motherfuckers, yes.
Sometimes you don't need to name your band [noun] [verb] [noun] and then name your record with a fucking sentence. Actually, that rule should be never. You never need to do that. And who proves that? China. China proves that. First, they name themselves after a global goddamned superpower that our country is how many trillion in the hole to? And then, when they had to title their record, I imagine the band meeting went like this:
"I like pussy."
"I like pussy, too."
"Should we name the record Pussy?"
"Why the fuck not?"
ANYhoo... There's been exactly one record that's dominated my headphones for the past two months and that's been China's Pussy. Right from the beginning of the opener, "Life Owes You Nothing", I was hooked. By the time "Greater Black", the closer finished, I was already telling Anthony from China that China was exactly the kind of band that I'd want to be in. Equal parts noisy and sparse, simple and smart, China are straight-forward heavy punk. There's no gimmickry on Pussy, in fact, you might say it's a basic rock record but don't mistake "basic" as a detriment. It's not generic by any means; it grabs your attention and keeps it from front to back, the way all good records should. It's the kind of record that makes me want to get high and fuck, also the way all good records should. It's the kind of record where, every time I plug in my headphones and get on my bike, thinking I'm in the mood for mclusky or Naked Raygun or Rowland S. Howard and I find out that my phone is still set on Pussy, I think to myself, "No. I want to listen to Pussy." That's how I'm rolling.
I'm going to the bank listening to "Lando's Trunk". I'm going to the supermarket to pick up a brisket listening to "Jahbreaker". I'm marching right the fuck into Target to get Swiffer pads listening to "Life Owes You Nothing". And I give not a fuck. With this record in my ears, I'm an errand running motherfucking juggernaut and you best get the fuck out of my way because "I Never Believed in Ghosts Until I Came Face to Face with One" is starting and my ass is going to the fucking post office because I need to get a money order to make this month's student loan payment.
And, yeah, sad to say that I haven't actually gotten high and fucked to this record yet. I had the opportunity, I suppose, but the lady in question and I were talking and listening to it. That's how shit goes sometimes.
You see that ↑ ? That's what's called a clinker. That's not a good thing. And Pussy is absolutely one thousand percent devoid of clinkers.
So, enough of me just saying over and over how good this record is. I take it you probably believe by now that I'm really really into it. What does it sound like?
Well, the music is, as noted, equal parts noise and quiet. (No, not in the Pixies way.) The band play as much with rest and space as they do with big scary fuck off noise. A good example of that is "LA Water", which actually reminded me of Calexico in its opening moments (that's a good thing). It builds over time to a big, sweeping crescendo. In itself, it's a lesson in dynamics. And then that goes into "Jahbreaker", a fast start-stop noise number that ought to be requisite listening for any self-respecting punker. It actually reminds me a bit of Nirvana's "tourette's".
There's also the aforementioned simplicity. Some songs consist of two chords. "I Never Believed in Ghosts Until I Came Face to Face with One" has one lyric. But the simplicity here is closer to the mclusky side of things than the Ramones side of things, there's nothing here that could be considered "pop-punk". China knows that sometimes you just need one goddamned riff and one goddamned beat to prove your fucking point. Make it heavy, make it hit hard, and save all that complexity bullshit for the trigonometry nerds. They're going to come to your town, get on your stage, rip through their drink tickets, flirt with the bartender to get a little extra in the shot glass, one of them will take her home, and they didn't need to navigate a Rand-McNally fretboard atlas to do it. There's always more mileage to farm out of simplicity and repetition, that's what creates memorable "earworms". That's why after twenty years, I can still remember how "Symphony of Destruction" goes but fuck me if I can recall one note of "Hanger Eighteen". (That's a Megadeth reference, kids.) (Also? I think one of the notes in "Hanger Eighteen" might have been a B♭. There's a likelihood that that was in there.)
And I'm not saying that China just go plink-plink-plink one-two-three-four all the way through the songs. They do flex their musical know-hows. I could learn maybe a third of Pussy in an afternoon. It would take me maybe three or four days to nail the bass part to "Greater Black", and that would be with some serious practice. I would have to really sit down and pay attention to the guitar on "LA Water".
The bassist carries a lot, I dare say the majority, of the melodic weight in this band and he's as comfortable playing two note drones as he is playing across all four strings up and down the neck. (Compare the bass work on the first two songs, "Life Owes You Nothing" and "Lando's Trunk", for example.) And the drums? The drummer only makes it look easy. Try to match his hi-hat control sometime. I fucking dare you. He's also the major reason I thought "LA Water" sounded like a Calexico song at first. Long and short of it, he's a drummer in a punk band, not a punk drummer... if you get my meaning. I'm not trying to say that punk drummers - look, what I mean to say is that there's a stereotype and that - because - Ah, fuck it. And the guitarist (that being Anthony) is precisely the kind of guitarist I can get down with, utilizing feedback and arpeggiated chords - triads, not power chords - to paint harmonic swaths over the songs. I basically want to smoke a joint and knock back forties of Olde English in this cat's garage and jam with him; he plays guitar the way I do.
When people ask me about the kind of music I like, I normally just tell them punk rock. When I'm really, and I mean really pressed for an answer (and the person in question is cool enough for me to bother), I tell them that I like really big, scary, noise music, the kind where the bass carries the melody and the guitar paints a harmonic texture and the drums are nearly solely responsible for the rhythmic element. My first exposure to that technique being Melvins' "If I Had an Exorcism" was what hooked me on music like that. In that regard, China fit the bill. Again, exactly the kind of band that I'd want to be in.
So far as I recall, China are from Vegas(?) so the likelihood of them making it out here to the Midwest where we got six inches of snow in mid-fucking-April for Christ's sake isn't high. Then again, they did make the trek to Chicago to record Pussy at Electrical Audio in Chicago, so never say never, I guess.
So, if you're into the same things I'm into, this record is going to wind up in your headphones for two months and probably stay there well after that. Essentially, if you can't get down with this record the way I'm down with this record, then you and I are going to have to seriously reevaluate our friendship.
And while I'm certain that this record came out in 2012, while I know it's only April 2013, I'm calling it. This is SD&A's 2013 record of the year. I get to do those sorts of things.
Sorry guys, there's no trophy or monetary award or anything.

ADDENDUM: Nope. Still hasn't come out. I guess you have to be part of a secret club to hear it.

17 April, 2013

14 April, 2013


Let it be known that at 0421 on 14/4/13, Georgie finally admitted to me that she hated the Hairdresser.

03 April, 2013

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