Category Archives: 30Hz Bl-g

Ramblings at the frequency of 30Hz

2Cellos plays Welcome to the Jungle: The Best Thing I Watched This Week

It might only be Monday, but I’m calling this race early. A) I’m too busy catching up on episodes of Bob’s Burgers to watch anything new on the tele and B) This is amazeballs. These two guys manage to rock as hard on cellos as Slash did on his guitar. Okay, almost rock as hard. But you can tell they’re rock stars. Just look at their cellos. I, of course, had to do a little bit of research on these Croatian fellows (Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser), known as 2Cellos, and it seems they’re quite popular and have records and tour and stuff. I’ve watched a handful of videos now and I have to say that this riff on GNf’R is easily their best stuff. It at least includes the most cello headbanging you’ll ever see in a two-minute video. And there’s something to be said for that.

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2Cellos playing Welcome to the Jungle: The Best Thing I Watched This Week

Sidenote: Is it just me, or could these guys also be a pair of excellent Bond henchmen?

I don’t think I need to say too much more about this. I’ll just mention that they played this on the Ellen Degeneres show so there are a few million housewives that are more in the loop than I. (edit: apparently they also appeared on Glee at some point, but that begs the question if you appear on a television show after everyone stops watching it, do you actually appear at all?) Since I’m taking the rest of the week off from scouring the globe for “Best Things” I’ll just abandon ship without my usual assortment of hyperbole and rhetoric. As always, no need to thank me. You’re always welcome.

Bonus: “Smells Like Teen Spirit”

Sidesidenote: the image they’re currently cultivating is a half-step removed from John Corbett’s version of a Yanni character in Serendipity. He plays an oboe-like Indian/Pakistani/Bengali/Iranian instrument called the shehnai.

The More You Know… about John Cusack movies.

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Bob’s Burgers: The Best Thing I Watched This Week

Every so often we happen across a movie or a television show that’s so far up our alley that we have to stop and question how we’d co-existed in the same world for so long without crossing paths. So that happened this week. I had been watching a movie last Sunday night. When the movie ended, I flipped back to my cable feed. On my television I found myself staring at a show I’d long heard about but never watched. Confession: I’d long since given up on animation offerings on major networks. “The networks” just don’t take the risks necessary to make animation truly essential. At this point in my life I don’t have time for anything that’s not essential. Five minutes of Bob’s Burgers had me hooked.

the best thing I watched this week

 

Bob’s Burgers: The Best Thing I Watched This Week

 

This was the particular episode in question:

 

 

Once the novelty of hearing the voice of Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) performing the doughy, middle-aged titular Bob wore off (not to mention the number of references/connections between Archer and Bob’s Burgers), I found myself enraptured, held in comedic bliss. The family owns/runs a greasy-spoon Burger joint but that setting only provides a backdrop for endless opportunity for riffing on the various  personalities. The wiser-than-their-years children contribute most of the immediate laughs in juxtaposition with the languid, laid-back, even-tempered and thoroughly put-upon working-class Bob and his Jersey-ish wife Linda. The inimitable Kristen Schaal voices Louise, a perpetually bunny-eared pre-teen with isolated megalomaniac tendencies. Eugene Mirman (Flight of the Conchords, Archer) makes magic with Bob’s naturally dim son, Gene, who lives to provide the musical score to the family’s hijinx on a Casio DG-20. Set to electric mandolin. Okay, sorry… Flight of the Conchords reference. Gene’s keyboard is really good at sampling though. And then there’s the pubescent and sexually (perversely so) confused Tina (Dan Mintz) with a bizarre affection for horses. Bob’s Burgers is often perverse and a little bit crass, but a good-natured sincerity provides a baseline that grounds these characters as humans despite their crudely drawn animation and preposterous reactions to everyday events. There’s a bit of South Park, a touch of Archer’s banter and a heap of The Simpsons’ familial unit tucked into Bob’s DNA, but don’t let the similarities direct your judgment. Bob’s Burgers carves out its own unique slice of that animation pie.

Bob’s Burgers is available on Netflix Streaming and Hulu. Since I stumbled across this show on Sunday, not a day has gone by that I haven’t watched at least one episode. I can’t get enough. I’m off to see Mad Max: Fury Road tonight, but you can bet that I’m going to come home and queue up some more Bob’s Burgers to cleanse my palette. If I had to recommend a favorite episode from all of those that I’ve watched, I’m going to have to pick “Sheesh. Cab, Bob?” — the episode in which Bob starts driving a taxi and inadvertently becomes a pimp for a gaggle of transsexual prostitutes in order to pay for Tina’s 13th birthday party. Pure gold.

 

Why I (mostly) stopped writing about music

If you’ve been reading this bl-g for any amount of time, you may recall that I founded this Interweb space on the premise that I would write about music and my rediscovery of vinyl records as part of my recovery from a bout of depression and anxiety that occurred in 2010. I know the exact date, you see, because I’d just returned home from the movies. I’d seen Black Swan on it’s opening weekend. I came home that night and after a short conversation with my wife about the movie, I broke down. I’d been experiencing these symptoms of depression for about a month by this point, but I couldn’t put the feelings into words, nor did I truly understand what was happening to me. I told her that I didn’t know what was wrong, that I knew I’d been distant. The things which had made me happy no longer had value. I’d largely stopped watching movies, reading or listening to music. I hadn’t been able to write. I told her I didn’t know what to do to make myself better. It felt very confessional. She says what shocked her the most about that night was when she asked if I wanted to see a therapist. Without hesitation I said, “Yes.”

After six-plus months of conversations with my therapist, I finally considered myself recovered. I continued to attend sessions for over a year, however. I’ve remained emotionally well (with one or two minor lapses) ever since. The existence of this bl-g represents the first step taken toward recovery. It reinvigorated my writing and gave me a focus again. Writing about music, just for the love of music, kickstarted my first steps toward wellness. As I dove into the vinyl hobby, I started going to concerts again. I wrote about all of it. I explored new music and what music had meant to me as a child as an 80’s youth. I wrote about the nostalgia that still fulfilled me.

Somewhere along the way, writing about music, however, became less fulfilling.

I don’t spend less time listening to new releases or scouring record bins for hidden gems. I just stopped writing about music.

Anyone who has spent any time writing knows that the endeavor is a very solitary activity. When writing and submitting fiction to literary magazations, publishers or agents, there’s no immediate response. Often not even denial. Often there’s just the kind silence that hurts more than negativity. Each and every story or novel is a slog with only the sound of that internal, nagging voice spurring you forward. Silence sides with that voice. Writing this bl-g proved helpful. Short bites of writing followed by immediate response. I was writing. People were reading when I wrote more about music and nostalgia. For awhile the topic of the vinyl resurgence held a regular audience.

But as my writing turned back toward new artists and new releases, response dwindled. I was again writing for the void. I didn’t need more silence in my life, so output lessened. I grew disinterested in the bl-g, and this space remained largely dormant until I conjured an idea for a post about some of that good old fashioned nostalgia. Even then, due to my less-than-regular posting schedule, I found myself begging for views. No one checks in if you’re not putting up words. Nor should they. That’s not what this is about, nor is it what I’d intended when I signed up for the writing-as-therapy gig.

If it’s not familiar, if it’s not already welcome or expected, it’s often not accepted.

But then there’s the other side of that coin. Much of my disillusionment stems from reading the greater oeuvre known as “music writing.”  As “music writing” has grown, so too has criticism of music writing. We’ve reached a point with the proliferation of music blogs that criticism of criticism has become it’s own genre. I’m also implicated here. I read P-fork (as the spearhead of this particular genre of music writing) like rubberneckers view the aftermath of a traffic accident. I often blame P-fork for everything that ails music writing, but they’re not alone. This is part subjective disagreement and part fundamental discord. Even when I agree with the overall opinion of a review, I often can’t relate what I’ve just read to the music it intends to describe. Purple, expressive and flowery prose often aptly describes the feeling that a certain music inspires. P-fork (just as one example I apparently plan to beat like a rented mule) has allowed rampant negativity to cloud their reviews. “Listenable” has taken on a very negative connotation. Not all music has to break new ground. Not all music must “challenge” in order to justify its existence. Talented writers work in this music writing genre, but I more often than not feel that they’ve completely lost sight of the goal — to express their connection to the music — in favor of fostering aural elitism.

I’m generalizing, but I don’t have the time to write a full treatise here… so generalizations will have to do.

This culture of elitism has plagued music writing since the dawn of the Interwebs (probably before as well). The “I knew about this band when they were playing out of their garage” mentality spread. Soon it included the notion that most average humans haven’t yet developed the aural IQ necessary to appreciate said music/noise of choice. I’ve never to my recollection begrudged someone for “not getting” a particular artist or record. I believe, however, that music appreciation develops and adjusts over time. We become more discriminating, more appreciative of true greatness. Greatness does not require innovation. Greatness can be the evolution of something familiar or merely a catalyst for change. What I’m trying to say, through far too many words, is that music listeners, overall, need to listen to more music and rely less on the hyperbolic elitism fostered by the most visible of music writers.

This is where I radically change directions for a drastic juxtaposition (and to get to the point).

When I started writing about James Bond for The James Bond Social Media Project, I found connections that had eluded me while I wrote about music. Despite being joined at the hip, the online cultures for music and film couldn’t be more disparate. I’m sure others have had different experiences; I can only speak to mine.

When I started the #Bond_age_ live tweet series, I immediately made stronger connections than I had through two years of writing about music. There’s greater acceptance and exchange of new ideas and opinions. Guilty pleasures are discussed and accepted. Where social media has shifted the focus of film criticism and appreciation away from the tedious and nebulous elitism once fostered by a handful of film critics, it has only exacerbated that effect in music. As a result, I’ve gravitated toward writing about film — oddly enough where my writing began as a 15-year-old kid writing movie reviews for Mandel and Patrick’s Movie Corner.

My friend and I began writing that page in 1994 as high school freshman and continued until we went to college. Writing homegrown reviews now seems quaint at best, but this was 1994, goddammit. This was the future. We earned a full-page writeup in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and had our reviews syndicated by MTV’s Adam Curry (who at the time was more than just a forgotten punchline). Sadly little of that endeavor remains, only fossilized records in Google searches. We each wrote reviews for at least two movies per week. We even had our own Top 100 lists. I still have the PPG clipping, and you’ll occasionally see our names pop up in really random book citations, like this one for Accounting for Taste: Film Criticism, Canons, and Cultural Authority 1996-2006 by Jonathan D. Lupo.

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…and you can still find us in many old-timey lists of favorite movie review sites that more closely resemble ancient Internet sea scrolls. That’s us down there in that list alongside the San Francisco Chronicle and Usenet! If you’re old enough to remember Usenet, you’ll also find that amusing. Or not. I’m no authority on outdated Internet humor.

 

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Maybe writing about music was never my bag. Writing about music may have just served as that temporary dose of adrenaline to bring me back from the brink. It’s entirely possible I just don’t have the stomach and/or necessary disdain for humanity. For as long as I can remember I’ve written about movies; it was just James Bond brought it all back. Though I may never reach the lofty heights of Mandel and Patrick’s Movie Corner (some sarcasm intended), I’ve met people through talking and writing about movies whom I believe will remain lifelong friends and contacts beyond the Twitterverse, even when The James Bond Social Media Project too has also joined the legions of websites in the Interweb heavens.

Am I crazy in thinking that that’s what this is all about anyway? Are any of us doing it for fame or money? I hardly think so. Writing for free, writing with time that would otherwise be spent living AFK, all of this is about the connection with people who share similar passions. As long as this bl-g remains part-time therapy and subject to the whims and memes of my life, it will be about the movies, music, writing, literature and guilt-free nostalgia that fulfills me for just as long as the end result, the connection, justifies the effort.

 

 

Record Store Day 2015

Record Store Day 2015

Time for my obligatory Record Store Day 2015 post. I’ll even phone it in.

I’m not wild about Record Store Day this year. I’m not plotting and planning and scheming how to get those elusive gems that I’m sure will walk out the door after the first few customers. At this point, I participate in Record Store Day for tradition and to support local vinyl shops. There’s no one disc that’ll get me out of bed before the sun comes up to get in line and wait for the 8am open. It’s the activity. It’s a morning that belongs to me. No familial obligations, no place else I need to be… I’ll talk records, buy records and then go home and play records. I’ll tell the 5yo about my morning and she’ll question me with the full powers of her 5yo logic.

Participating record shops open at 8am. Gone are the midnight opens. The RSD organization really needs to lift the ban on the midnight opens. They really put the kibosh on a great experience for forcing participating stores to open in the morning. The queue’s more congenial and the wait less tiresome. There’s far better conversation at 1am, more reason to stand around and chat. At 8am everyone’s a bit crabby because they’ve been standing in line since 4am or something stupid like that.

Part of the thrill is having no clue what your store is going to have available. And no matter how much you study the list in preparation for that dash through the stacks, nothing ever goes to plan. You’ll find some stuff you never knew you needed, guaranteed. But since I like to have scuttled plans, here’s my wishlist for RSD15.

 

30Hz Record Store Day 2015 Wishlist

 

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Sun Records Sampler Volume 2:

Picked up Volume 1 last year. Great selection of tunes and the Sun Records catalog runs deep. And since I’m a completist, I’ll just keep picking up every damn release they come up with.


 

 

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Thai Pop Spectacular: 1960-1980

One of the great joys of RSD is picking up oddities like this. These two ladies will slot in nicely next to my Nippon Girls records of Japanese pop hits.


 

 

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Willie Nelson – Teatro

This is essential Willie. I don’t have this on vinyl. A clean copy would be a lovely thing. This might be my most wanted item for RSD15.


 

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Music to Drink Beer To (compiled by Dogfish Head)

I drink a lot of Dogfish Head and eat at their brew pub in Delaware each year. I don’t see why having music to drink Dogfish Head by could be a bad thing. The track list boasts Bob Dylan, Taj Mahal, A Tribe Called Quest, Muddy Waters, Iggy and the Stooges, Uncle Tupelo… etc.


 

 

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Frank Sinatra – Songs for Young Lovers

One of Sinatra’s greatest records. I’ve got a lot of Sinatra on vinyl… but not this one.


 

 

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Jurassic Five – Quality Control (The Wood Box)

It’s Jurassic Five! In a wood box! I love Jurassic Five and the wood box means classy.


 

 

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Bernard Herrman – Psycho

BHerm on vinyl is always essential. Some of his trademark work right here. Scare the neighbor kids off your lawn.


 

 

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Side by Side – “Walk On By”

Each year the RSD brains come up with a series of Side-By-Side releases, 7″ singles with two artists who covered the same song. To me, this is the most interesting of the 2015 releases. Dionne Warwick and The Stranglers doing “Walk On By.”


 

 

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Country Joe & the Fish – Together

Coincidentally I just got into listening to Country Joe after picking up the Zachariah soundtrack. It’s seems little bit like fate that they’ve got a RSD15 release then. Don’t mess with fate, boys and girls.


 

 

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Simple Minds – Celebrate, Live from the SSE Hydro Glasgow

As a Simple Minds junkie, I can’t pass up a 2 x colored, clear vinyl live album. I can’t. I might try, but if it’s in the store, it’ll be in my grasp. Come over. I’ll play it for you. We’ll have a Simple Minds jam session with everything they’ve ever recorded. On vinyl. We’ll have gin rickeys. I dunno. What do you drink while listening to Simple Minds? Maybe Dogfish Head has some suggestions.

 

Rancho Deluxe, etc.: The Best Things I Watched This Week

I haven’t ponied up for a BTIWTW post in a few weeks, but this week I was inspired to return to the typewriter by a treasure trove of “Best Things.” This collection will run the gamut of movies to talk shows to sports highlights to one specific movie trailer that I guarantee gave people of a certain age some serious feels. No more exposition. Let’s get on with the Things.

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1. Rancho Deluxe

Rancho Deluxe movie poster

When you stumble across a little sleeper of a film that contends for a spot in your Top 100 movies of all time, it makes all the bad ones worthwhile. It’s why we keep going back to the well. It’s why we keep watching old movies that few people remember rather than falling back on old favorites. Old favorites are great. They’re the backbone of any movie collection, but they’re old and they’re favorites. When we watch them, expectations are met and cockles are warmed, but there’s nothing like the thrill of “discovering” a new love. That happened to me this week. I picked up Rancho Deluxe because the film stars a very young Jeff Bridges, Clifton James (Sheriff J.W. Pepper in Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun), Slim Pickens and Harry Dean Stanton along with a few other very recognizable faces.

Rancho Deluxe has all the makings of a cult film without any of the hyperbolic Internet ballyhoo. This is documented decadence of the traditional cinematic Western. Why doesn’t this film get its due hyperbolic praise? Maybe because the film lacks a specific genre. It’s part teen comedy, part satire, part Western dystopia viewed through nostalgia that still romanticizes the ideologies of the Old West.

Through the perspective of two young Montanta misfits (Jeff Bridges and Sam Waterston), Rancho Deluxe views the West as a comedy of overidentified ways and means. The cattle farmers and ranchers living high on the hog from merely “showing bulls” and reveling in their pre-existing wealth. So bored that they’re hunting cattle rustlers because they’ve got no other way to fill their days. The youth growing up in this modern frontier without education or potential employment and tormenting the cattle barons “for sport.” There’s a brothel scene, pot smoking, very un-PC bits of dialogue (“Mexican Overdrive” = “neutral”), the old steer in the motel room gag and conversations filmed only in the reflection on the glass of a Pong video game machine.

Rancho Deluxe pong

I should start by saying that Roger Ebert hated Rancho Deluxe. Reading his review, I can’t help but think he overlooked the entire point of the film. Likewise for many other critics of the film in 1975. It’s possible everyone was just too close to the glory days of the classic cinematic Western. Maybe Rancho Deluxe was a little jokey to see the dose of wickedness behind the gags. Whatever the reason, I f’ing loved this film, though it begs for some restoration and a Blu-ray treatment. The current DVD is terribly muddy and hardly does the brilliant Big Sky landscapes justice. Should you want to give Rancho Deluxe the shot at being your newest favorite, the movie is available on YouTube. I’ll toss the embed below:

 

2. This Catch by Nolan Arenado

Any baseball fan will immediately compare this catch to Derek Jeter’s 2004 catch. This catch tops it. Arenado made this catch over his shoulder and running straight back from his position at 3B. Jeter’s catch is made legendary by the theatricality of his Greg Louganis into the seats. The angle of approach makes Arenado’s far more impressive, plus he almost doubles up the runner trying to advance. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the two. No contest. It’ll probably be the best catch you’ll see this year.

 

3. Ad-Rock on The Daily Show

The Mutual Admiration Society joined The Daily Show on Monday night when Beastie Boy Adam “Ad-Rock” Horowitz sat down for a chat with his fanboy Jon Stewart on Monday night. The two bromanced, talked vinyl, how Ad-Rock didn’t remember meeting Jon Stewart during his days at MTV (not sure he remembers much from those days at all) and then engaged in an admittedly cursory discussion of Horowitz’s movie appearance in While We’re Young. Stewart has always conveyed sincerity, but this talk with the equally sincere Ad-Rock reminds us that even stars are full-on stammering fanboys when confronted with their idols. They’re just more eloquent than the rest of us.

 

4. And then, yesterday, there was this f’ing thing.

Narration by Mark Hamill. The voice of Harrison Ford breaking through the fade to black just before the image of Han Solo and Chewbacca. More teases of the John Williams score. The goddamn teaser trailer made me teary eyed. A SUB-TWO-MINUTE TEASER TRAILER. Every time I watch the thing I run through all sorts of gooey feels. I never had any doubts that J.J. Abrams would be good for Star Wars, but he’s gone beyond expectations. J.J. Abrams has entered the dangerous territory of impossible expectations. These trailers and the quality of Star Wars: Rebels have awakened the obsessive 6-year-old boy who paused Return of the Jedi to count the Stormtroopers during the scene where Darth Vader arrives at the Death Star. I had to have all the Stormtroopers and Santa was going to bring them to me.