Monday, December 31, 2007

Thirteen down, thirty-nine to go.

Thirteen down, thirty-nine to go.

Born Standing Up
by Steve Martin


Well, I snuck one last book in under the wire, pretty much reading the entire thing this morning. I'm hoping to do a little better next year as far as reaching my goal, especially since I really don't have any resolutions for the next year. I'm pretty pleased where my life is right now, so don't feel the need to make any sort of self-imposed goals for self-improvement, but more on that tomorrow. Right now let's discuss Steve Martin's memoir on the stand-up comedy phase of his career.

If you're a fan of Martin, read the book. If you're now, don't. That's all I can really say. I've always enjoyed Martin's writing style, even way back in the Cruel Shoes days, so this mini-biography has that going for it. And it has Martin's dry wit all throughout. But, for the most part, it's a fans-only type of read. I dunno, ask Photogal what she thought of it. She's a fan of his writing but I'm pretty sure she's completely unfamiliar with his stand-up, so maybe she has a different take than me, and can dispute my theory.

So, capsule review: I enjoyed it but ain't sure if i should recommend it to anyone who has never seen Steve Martin with an arrow through his head. I would recommend it to anyone looking for an impeccably clean writing style, and some razor sharp humor based in some borderline tragic situations.

But isn't that sort of the definition of comedy, to some?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Snowstorm shnowstorm.

Snowstorm shnowstorm.

I don't care what the weather reports for tonight are saying. (Um, hey Tankboy, we live under a rock / not in the Chicago area, so what are they saying?) Oh, they're predicting massive amounts of snow tonight ... just before the big joint Tankboy and Superbird (said conjunction to be known as TankBird from now on) rock show at Subterranean! So, even if the snow comes down at a rate of feet per minute, I expect you to strap on some snowshoes / skis / jetpack and get yer butt over to the show! We go on AT 9:00 p.m. (no joke) and it's an 18+ show, so just about everyone can attend!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Quite the upturn!

Quite the upturn!

I don't know what happened, but I'm feeling much better! I haven't coughed since first getting in the office, I have clear sinuses, and I'm feeling pretty good ... all without any sort of medication! I'm going to hit the gym after work and see if this all holds up, but if it does I'd say there's a good chance I'll make it in to DJ tonight.

Yeehaw!

Touch and go.

Touch and go.

Gonna try and make it into the office ... I'm sort of feeling on the edge as far as this hacking cough goes. I'm also afraid I might have to pull out of th line-up for tonight's DJ set at Liar's Club, but even if I do, Lisa and Rudy willstill provide you with an awesome time. So I'm on the fence about that, but I really can't afford top be under the weather for tomorrow's America's #1 Sweetheart show at Subterranean (even if it does look like we're gonna get hit by a snowstorm tomorrow afternoon / evening, thus insuring attendance of, oh, about 3 people).

So, let's see how this day goes and I'll let you know the final plan later on, sound good to you?

P.S. If you too are feeling a bit run-down, under the weather, or just plain mopey, click on the picture of Techno Cat up there to the right, and he'll do his best to lift your spirits.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Being sick sucks.

Being sick sucks.

Yeah, I'm working from home today to spare my co-workers from having to listen to me hack and wheeze, while simultaneously fearing I will infect them with the plague just in time to be sick over the New Year's Eve weekend.

Posting is minimal all around this week, huh? I haven't heard a peep from my A&E staff (and, between you and I, I've been slacking on the Chicagoist front this week as well, so I've got to kick my own ass into high gear through the rest of the year) and most sites seem to be functioning with a skeleton crew. What can I say? It's that time of year when no one is really feeling it, huh? The urge to kick back and coast has permeated the writing community. The funny thing is, come January 2, everything will flip back to normal, posts will be frequent, and writers will just start churning the stuyff out. What a difference a specific date can make to the collective psyche.

I did get my Idolator ballot in, though I'm not 100% sure I was happy with it since I entered albums I listened to the most, but not necessarily discs with some sort of super-deep artistic merit. Because of that there's nothing like the stuff populating most of the other year-end lists (i.e. no Animla Collective, etc.). However, since I got the selections out of the way, that means I'll probably have my end-of-year write-up on donewaiting before the actual end-of-year. Yay!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Comin' down with something.

Coming' down with something.

Yeah, starting to get sick, but I ain't letting that keep me from the yearly, legendary, Liar's Club Christmas party tonight! See you there?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Anyone out there?

Anyone out there?

I just realized this is the first time in years I didn't take the whole week between Christmas and New Year's off ... so that means I actually have to go into work the day after Christmas! This wouldn't be so worrisome if I didn't spend every Christmas evening at Liar's Club. looks like I'll have to reign in the spice eggnog consumption this year ...

Oh yes, thanks to everyone that came out to make the Burlington holiday party such a rousing success Saturday night!

Friday, December 21, 2007

All about the cats.

All about the cats.

It's a Friday before a 4-day (or more) weekend, and I get the feeling I'm the only one that has any actual work to do. So for all the rest of you, just killing time until the final tick tocks its way through the time clock, here are two diversions.

Diversion One: Lizz brought it to my attention that Fall Out Boy really likes cats.


Diversion Two: And speaking of cats, Sarah introduced me to Kittenwar. That should keep you busy through the end of today and into tomorrow.

Oofah.

Oofah.

Thanks for coming out last night. I had a blast and hope you did too.

And now don't forget round two kicks off at The Burlington tomorrow night!

Nixon and I will me choosing selections for their holiday party. Don't worry, outside of "Christmas in Hollis," I don't plan on playing too much "holiday" music. Just good music. That will make you dance. Or cross your arms and bob your head in an indie-approved fashion.

Aw hell, why wait? Everyone should have a copy of this anyway, right?

MP3: Run-D.M.C. "Christmas In Hollis"

I'll still be here, but since I know lots of folks are off next week (and will therefore probably not be stopping by here ... not that anyone reads this when they're at work or anything like that) so ... Happy holidays everybody!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Who's just phoning it in this week?

Who's just phoning it in this week?

Everyone I know has been telling me that they're basically on autopilot as far as their 9-to5s are concerned. Usually that'd be the case for me too, but this year a flurry of activity seems to have whirled it's way across my desk. I confess I actually find this a little comforting, since it keeps me busy, and helps me forget that it's cold and dark outside, and keeps the days whizzing by when they would usually be inching their way towards the holidays with each second feeling like an eternity.

Huh, I just realized I have three music-related deadlines tomorrow; I have a review to finish for UR Chicago (easy), my top albums of the year for donewaiting (difficult), and my critic's poll ballot to get in to Idolator (erm, easy once I finish that donewaiting list). I swear, I've never had so much trouble coming up with a year-end list, but this year there's just been nothing that has, well, really stuck. It was a good year for good music, but a lousy year as far as any one album making it into any sort of permanent rotation as far as my personal listening experience is concerned. Plus, I look at all the other critic lists and have to wonder if they're just cribbing from each other. It's either that or the critical consensus has calcified to such an extent that these year-end lists have just become completely meaningless. (One notable exception would be Lizz's "Ryan Adams is bat-shit crazy" list. That one, I liked.)

Enough griping, before I fall back into one of my "everyone thinks they're a critic, but no one seems to remember what a critic actually is anymore" rants. Although now that I've said that remember my definition of a critic extends beyond someone simply having an opinion. Everyone is entitled to their opinion when it comes to music. In order to be a critic you have to be able to put music into a certain critical context, and that includes things like theory, history, other artists within (and outside of) genres, and being able to back up your opinions with something other than "I like it." Well, something like that, if you want more on this, I go into greater detail about the whole thing here.

Now, onto something else that everyone seems to be these days; DJs. It's Thursday, and my health is back to 90% capacity, so I think I'll be fit enough to join Lisa and Sean in the DJ booth tonight at Liar's Club.


It'll be fun. And if you're one of those folks phoning it in this week, what's your excuse for not showing up?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I have to be leaving but I won't let that come between us, O.K.?

I have to be leaving but I won't let that come between us, O.K.?

A nickel to whoever can tell me what the title refers to.

Big thanks for everyone's suggestions on how to regain my health. Days of rest, Mucinex, and hot, soothing tea seems to have done the trick. I left the office early yesterday to finish the day working from home and I think that helped too. Oh yeah, and the 12 hours of sleep I got Monday night, even though I woke up every two hours to hack and wheeze, probably set me back on the road to health. Well, relative health. I'm not 100% yet, but I'm a hell of a lot better. Another day or two of rest and I should be tip-top ... just in time to DJ and then spend quality holiday time with friends and family this coming extended weekend.

Speaking of the holidays, the company I work for just released our holiday card, and I think it's pretty nifty. You can build your own snowman avatar, set it against a number of backgrounds, and send it around to friends. FYI: the L Station background was one of my suggestions during the original brainstorm, so I'm pleased to see the committee voted it in! Get cracking and feel free to send me what you come up with.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

tankPOD Touch: A new generation.

tankPOD Touch: A new generation.

As I mentioned earlier, my company gave every employee an iPod Touch for the holidays. Aside from this being a really generous gift, it was one that made total sense for our company. The future of the web will probably mostly be viewed on mobile devices, and right now I'm pretty sure the iPod Touch is leading the way as far as setting the standard everyone will end up having to adhere to.

So how is it? Well, first my gripes, because they are few and far between as far as my initial experience goes. I'd really like syncing options available for calendar and contacts functions outside of Outlook, say, perhaps, um, Google Calendar? Yes you can view it online through the Touch's browser, but I'd love to have it available offline and on the device. My other gripe is the disk size, since for me 16GB just seems so tiny for an iPod. However that is tempered by the fact that, at least with this Touch, I plan on making it more of a mobile PDA than a media player.

And the positives? First, the touchscreen! Really, really amazing. Even Photogal, not one to really go agog over technical interfaces, couldn't stop playing with the screen. Navigation truly is instinctual and I figured out just about every application immediately. It's size is amazing too. it's actually thinner than my phone, and I don't know how they did that. Viewing video and photos on it is truly a pleasure, and the graphics are just knock-out gorgeous. Another fun addition is the QWERTY keyboard touchscreen and the way it accurately figures out what our big huge fingers are trying to type.

But the really great thing is the Wi-Fi and mobile browser. Websites come up looking the way they're supposed to look, easily navigable, and easily readable as you zoom in and out. It's the first concrete example I've experienced that envisions the way that web-on-the-go should really function. This was the main thing the iPhone had that made me jealous, but until the iPhone improves it's network (um, 3G?) and vastly improves its storage space, the tankPOD Touch is just absolutely perfect for what I want to use it for.

And what about the iPod music portion? (Remember what these things were originally created for? O.K., they were probably always intended for this outcome but you know what I mean.) Well, aside from the fact that it has so little room for songs, I do like the interface. Unfortunately I've never been that worried about including album artwork when I rip or download albums, so the cover flow feature doesn't work all that well. Anyone know of an easy way to snag cover art and associate it with songs on your iPod / iPod Touch? I tried the "Get Album Artwork" function in iTunes, but it never seems to really do anything. I'm probably missing something obvious, but...

So there you have it. Anyone else out there have one of these and want to share thoughts? Keep in mind I just got it so I might be missing features, or foibles, that will become apparent after more playtime. Chime in with your thoughts!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Solicitation for health advice.

Solicitation for health advice.

So, as noted, I've pretty much been down for the count since Saturday. I'm dosed up on the Mucinex and a herbal remedy recommended by my friend JB, but I'm looking for any other advice on how to beat this cough / congestion / minor chills I just can't shake.

And I've honestly been trying to take care of myself, for once!

Other modes of treatment thus far have involved:
  • Not going out and boozing it up.
  • Exercising each day to bolster the immune system.
  • Bundling up, and actually wearing gloves, when I go outside
  • Occasional doses of TheraFlu.
Not a treatment option:
  • Calling in sick to work.
I don't have a bad sore throat yet, and what I do have is doubtless caused by all my coughing. However I don't want to get the same throat ailment that followed me around for weeks last winter.

So, does anyone have any advice on remedies / supplements / treatments they've found useful in the past? Give it to me! I've got to shake this thing before Thursday!

UPDATE: Gina noted that, while it might cause pangs of guilt, I should not be visiting the gym, since my body needs more recuperative time when sick. Apparently that whole "working out boosts the immune system" only applies when you're not sick. Oddly, Photogal and I had an argument about this very point last time I was sick, and I must now publicly concede that she was correct in saying that I should have been skipping the gym and loading up on rest instead.

UPDATE II: In a desperate attempt to stop coughing, and worrying my co-workers they are about to catch the plague, I ran down to get some emergency medicines. One of these was a teensy little tin of Sucrets Complete. WHOA! The oral anesthetic they use in this particular lozenge is STRONG. I'm actually having trouble swallowing a la a trip to the dentists when some of that gel they use to numb your gums pre-Novocaine shot drips down the back of your throat.

So yeah, the stuff works as far as killing sensation, and that's kind of freaking me out, but I'm still coughing. It's just not hurting my throat. Time to break out the Daytime Theraflu.

Twelve down, forty to go.

Twelve down, forty to go.

Bowl of Cherries
by Millard Kaufman


Well, with only fifteen days left to 2007, it seems doubtful I'm going to reach my goal of 52 books. Maybe next year I should halve the goal, and avoid Joan Didion, then I might have a fighting chance. Hopefully I'll still get another book or two under my belt before the end of the year, but if Millard Kaufman's Bowl Of Cherries happens to be my final book of the year, it's a fine way to end this cycle.

Kaufman is best known for his Oscar-nominated screenplay for Bad Day at Black Rock, and as one of the creators of Mr. Magoo. He's actually gotten quite a bit of press for Bowl of Cherries, his first novel, published at his tender age of 90 years old. The book itself is a farce based on an incredibly intelligent and unmotivated protagonist, whose only true direction in life is provided by a breathtakingly beautiful girl who, against all odds, returns his affections. His adventures take him through Ivy League schools, the New York porn underground, the darker side of poetry publishing, and deep into a little known territory in war-torn Iraq that builds its architectural structures with a most unique compound. And the whole thing, while it does get a little heavy right near the end, is a hilarious, and unexpectedly touching, comedy of errors.

The book has a timeless quality to it, since Kaufman shows great delight in the almost lost art of truly clever wordplay mixed with an adolescent delight in tweaking the reader's ear while challenging their sensibility. Kaufman displays a deft hand with his characters, managing to draw out redeeming qualities in folks the reader might find nothing in common with, or likable about, upon first meeting.

Ultimately, I think one of the reasons I really enjoyed Bowl of Cherries is because, well, no one is really writing like this anymore. It's the sort of smart literary comedy that proved more popular 50 years ago, and its art has largely been displaced by a more nihilistic and hopeless brand of black humor. Not that I'm opposed to black humor (or nihilistic black humor) and Bowl of Cherries certainly has it's share of black humor, but that tendency is balanced off by a certain optimism and bolstered by Kaufman's addictive caressing of language.

Pssst ... I'm Batman

Pssst ... I'm Batman

The first full tailer for The Dark Knight is now online. It looks mighty sweet. (And, um, some of those sets look mighty familiar!)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sickly.

Sickly.

Anyone who had the misfortune to see me Friday will be happy to know I spent all day yesterday on the couch recovering from that massive bender. I almost feel human today but am still a bit shaky. I'm well enough to make practice tonight, though, I think.

Items ingested in the past 24 hours:
  • Water
  • Chicken noodle soup
  • Pepto-bismol
  • Tortilla chips
The one item lifting my mood:
  • iPod Touch given away to everyone at my company at our holiday party. Wi-Fi surfing galore!
The one thing i have to do RIGHT NOW that I really don't wanna:
  • Go to the gym and try to sweat the last of this sickliness out.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Holidaze.

Holidaze.

Something tells me I've used that subject line before.

I made a fool of myself at the spontaneous Liar's Club dance party (and thank you to all those college kids that suddenly showed up and stormed the dance floor, you all were awesome!), but i had a blast so I don't care.

Tonight? My company holiday party, then Ellie (and Vee!) at Quenchers for the Merry Jewmas show, and then The Midnight Shows at Double Door. And then maybe Darkroom so I can give Kevin the evil eye for offering me a DJ gig tonight and then rescinding it when he realized one of his bandmates already filled the spot. O.K., O.K., no evil eye ... instead I'll just dance (or drunkenly sway) to his choice cuts.

Also, I recently learned that I am apparently attractive, and therefore viewed by most females as a whole heap of potential trouble. There are worse kinds of trouble to be, I suppose.

Tankboy out.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

BFF.

BFF.

If you come by Liar's Club tonight to see me DJ, I will be our BFF, full of TLA. (And yes, those phrases really should never be uttered by anyone over the age of, say, 14, but there you have it.

The Lemonheads were truly incredible last night. Evan Dando may be a total space-case, but he's turned into a sweet space-case with a wickedly tight backing band. (Also, Karl, sorry if you didn't know what to play for the encore, I gave your set0list to Dan so he'd have some, erm, personal material to pleasure himself with when Keep is not around.)

And tonight? I climb back behind the mixer for the first time in what feels like forever. No Christmas music shall be played, I promise. And maybe we can get Ellie out and cajole her to reprise some of her more infamous moments?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tony Pierce may have moved on to greener pastures (the L.A. frickin' Times!) but LAist is still kicking ass.

Tony Pierce may have moved on to greener pastures (the L.A. frickin' Times!) but LAist is still kicking ass.

Check out the sweet photo essay on the writer's picket line they did today. This one is especially Whedon-tastic (O.K., O.K., I love Whedon's writing, but i love his heroines more).

Too much genius.

Too much genius.


  • The Chicagoist Holiday Gift Guide is out. It is awesome, and it tells you what to buy me for the holidays. Answer? Everything. (But mostly that Rarebit Fiend book.)

  • Yet another reason I want to meet the makers of the Midwest Teen Sex Show.

  • Continuing the awesome, there's a worthy benefit at Liar's Club tonight, with a one-of-a-kind band.

  • Before Liar's, there's The Lemonheads*, with members of Descendants / ALL as the backing band for Mssr. Dando. Look's like it's gonna be a punk-rock-folk-pop kinda evening, huh?

  • I may get carded for booze at bars, but just because I look younger than my years, that doesn't mean I feel younger. Case in point: I just read the following at a dance blog I enjoy reading, "So I was watching TV and I saw the trailer for Iron Man. It’s going to have (a sober) Robert Downey Jr. playing some scientist who invents himself a suit that makes Robocop look like sissy." Erm, if you read that and feel old, you're with me.

*Which reminds me, I have a +1 to the show since Photogal will be off at a political fundraiser. Who wants in?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Green shoots in a TV wasteland.

Green shoots in a TV wasteland.

As the Writer's Strike drains the schedule -- and believe me, I'm totally on the writers' side on this one -- I'm happy to have stuff like last week's Tin Man (mmmmm, Zooey Deschanel) to occupy my time.

While that was a neat little retooling of The Wizard of Oz, the one show I'm most excited to see begins tonight with the launch of the second season of Life On Mars. If you haven't seen this show, and are bumming about the current flood of reruns and reality fare.

Oh, almost forgot about another bright spot this holiday season; last night's Holiday Special with Queens of the Stone Age and Anthony Bourdain. Finally, a family cooking show I can say I really enjoyed.

How to book a rock and/or roll show with a fellow promoter (edited for clarity).

How to book a rock and/or roll show with a fellow promoter (edited for clarity).

Superbird and I are co-promoting a show (that just so happens to feature both of our bands) at Subterranean on December 28. I secured the show, but she took care of most of the bill once I asked her band to join in. Here's how it went.

    Superbird: [redacted ... having to do with boring music journo-type stuff only interesting to the two of us]
    Tankboy: if yr gonna parse my phrases that finely, i am getting in my car, driving up north, and slapping the silly out of you.
    Superbird:
    you want to play first or second?
    Tankboy: depends on the 4th band, i want you on after us though
    Superbird: ok cool.
    Tankboy: i'll book a 4th over the weekend
    Superbird: who are you thinking?
    Tankboy: no idea ... kinda waiting to see who shows up at tonight's show, since different combos of people often help me think of good band pairs on bills
    Superbird: excellent
    Tankboy: it's kind of like dowsing, only with whiskey
    Superbird: you're lame
    Tankboy: ok that wasn't even really funny
And that, my friends, is how the professionals do it.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Not quite Bloom County or Calvin and Hobbes, but still pretty damn promising.

Not quite Bloom County or Calvin and Hobbes, but still pretty damn promising.

xkcd continues to blow my mind with astoundingly funny work that still manages to reveal complicated truths about the human condition using nothing more than stick figures. Today's comic is especially funny.


(As always, click on the image for a larger view.)

A Sweetheart of an addendum to the post below.

A Sweetheart of an addendum to the post below.

It appears Keep has posted a whole slew of America's #1 Sweetheart songs (both complete and current demos) for your listening and download pleasure. Keep in mind some of them are early recordings of songs that are now far more polished, but they all rather hott. And ready for your iPod / CD-player / computer-with-a-mini-boomin'-bass system.

The heart of rock and roll is the beat.

The heart of rock and roll is the beat.

How was Friday night's America's #1 Sweetheart show? Kind of like this.*


So even though the gal pictured was not actually at the show, that pose pretty much says it all. To be honest, we had our share of snafus. I know I made two big boo-boos, but think I recovered decently from them. And we were all a tad wobbly from time to time, but I'm reasonably sure that was due to the amount of alcohol imbibed before we finally got onstage. One of the nice things about being in a band, though, is that if you're the one that's a tad wobbly at a certain time, you have four other guys there ready to pull in the slack. Also, earlier in the night, things were getting seriously weird between venue, promoter staff, and one of the other bands ... so there was a fair amount of tension and it seemed said tension was dealt with numerous beers and a couple shots.**

The important thing, though, is that it seemed everyone in the room for our set enjoyed themselves. And I know I've never seen the other guys in the band more animated, so I think it's fair to say we were having a hell of a lot of fun too! And heck, rock and/or roll is always far less about precision and far more of bringing the crowd along with you for the ride. I think we did do a good job on that front.

Afterwards we all bolted (my apologies to the really nice drummer in the band I shall not name who played after us (and don't bother looking at the line-up I posted a few days ago since the running order got completely changed, so you're not going to figure out who it was), but we really don't like your lead singer, so we felt no compunction to stick around). However, I feel we made up for it karmically by telling the promoter to take whatever money we made and to then give it to the touring band.

That's how we rock it.


*Sorry Diana, I came across this photo in your hubby's online album and couldn't resist using it.
**To see what we're like when not drunk, and firing on all cylinders, and -- most importantly -- playing in a room with a monitor system that allows us to actually hear what each other is playing, we'll be at Subterranean December 28 with good friends Snd On Snd, as well as a few other veddy veddy talented groups. I should have the full line-up ready for release later today.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Year of the Perdue Wonderchicken

Year of the Perdue Wonderchicken

First, some business. America's #1 Sweetheart is playing Ronny's tonight with a bunch of other bands.

We go on third, but I won't tell you what time that is, because people that go to shows should try and see all the bands (unless they are a music writer that has multiple shows to hit in one night, in which case they should have either already seen, or will be making a future effort to see, the other bands on the bill).

Since we're playing later in the evening, that means we'll be drunker, and that means ENTERTAINMENT! Said entertainment may include spontaneous bouts of nudity (but I promise to keep my own shirt and pants on, 'cuz no one wants to see me naked)!

And now, some bullet points with a couple random Friday observations.*
  • The fact that Kiefer Sutherland acts like a drunken fool is a-ok with me, especially when he takes responsibility for his more inane activities instead of trying to weasel out of jail time like most other celebs. Still waiting for him to show back up at Liar's Club so we can do the worm together since I missed it the first time around.
  • Jennifer love Hewitt, whom I've had a crush on since Party Of Five, even though said crush has been sorely tested by her parade of idiotic boyfriends and insipid acting roles, is not even remotely fat. And Steve Johnson is still an asshole without a clue.
  • I bet Drew Peterson is starting to have problems sleeping at night ... finally.
  • Bush finds a whole new way to fuck up the economy.
  • Emergenza is a ripoff.
  • Those year-end list are flying around the Interwebs in a fast and furious fashion. I haven't even started mine yet and, honestly, am having a hard time picking out my top 20 or so albums from 2007. I do know what the best show I saw was, though, and am happy to have a recorded document of a different date on the same tour. It brings back all the happy musical memories of that night.
SIDENOTE: The photo connected to this post is of my friend Alison. Some might think she has absolutely nothing to do with the above content, but in fact, she does. I met Alison on my 30th birthday through a good friend named Freud ... a genius of a guy who played bass in one of my favorite bands at the time ... America's #1 Sweetheart. And the circle continues.

*More accurately, though this should be apparent if you've already read the bullet points, these observations happen to be made on a Friday, and are not about Friday itself.

Mutable features.

Mutable features.

I have recently been told I look like the following people. Let's have a little fun, review a few of them, break 'em down and do a little analysis.

Dierks Bentley
I had no idea who this guy was (he's a country singer), but after seeing photos of him I can a) understand why someone would see a resemblance and b) now know why people stare at me in Michigan and whisper when I walk by. Apparently they think I am he. Yet it still hasn't gotten me so much as a free ice cream cone!

Christian Bale
This one came Thanksgiving night at Liar's, and I thought the girl was high, until Balls looked at me and said, "You know, I wouldn't have thought it myself, but I can sort of see it." In that case, can I get myself a set of Bale pecs and abs too please?

James Hetfield
I don't have his bad skin, but i could understand why someone would see this as well, especially since he and I have goatees. Believe me when I say that this comparison has almost caused me to shave the entire topography of my face down to the skin though.

Beck
I think it's the blonde hair and combination babyface with masculine features that got this comparison. I like to think I look a bit more solidly sturdy than Beck though.

Brad Pitt
This one came from a cashier at Starbucks who obviously needed her vision checked. I appreciate a compliment as much as the next guy, but let's at least make it semi- believable!

Brendan Benson
Face it, dude stole me whole look at last year's Lollapalooza. And we both sweat alot, so fair enough on this one too. Although if you've ever seen him up close you'd realize that we, in fact, look nothing alike.

A lion.
This observation came after seeing this photo, where it looks as if I'm about to eat Keep's head. O.K., I can see the resemblance there.

Sissy Spacek

O.K., this one isn't so recent, but one girl in college thought that, with my really long hair and tall-n-lean 22-yr-old physique, I looked like Sissy Spacek from a distance. Further proof that our appearance isn't something really all that solid and physical, since when it comes to the way other people actually see us, there's a whole lot of other factors influencing their mental vision.

JUST ADDED: Josh Homme
I just got this from Julie in the comments and remembered my old friend Natalie had made the same observation last week. Again, I sort of see it in how we're built (tall, similar hair color, etc.) but having stood next to the dude I have problems seeing the similarity. Although if we do look similar, that would explain why Photogal has put up with me for so long.

Have any observations of your own? About how I look? Or better yet, people you've been told you resemble?

Obligatory fun time.

Obligatory fun time.

Mark from Farewell Captain will be guesting with JB at Liar's Club tonight (who is, oddly, DJing under a new nom de guerre, for one week only) although I honestly don't know which one is Shade and which one is Fraud.


Also, don't forget my own band plays at Ronnys tomorrow. More on that later, but mark your calendar now!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Photographic observations.

Photographic observations.

I think I've had more photos taken of me in the last 4 weeks than have been taken of me in the last 4 years. I have also noticed that many of these photos have a single unifying figure within them, aside from me. For instance, take this shot from last night's Panic! party.


And who is that standing next to the dumbass 19-year-old in the Tones On Tail shirt? It's Keep!
You know that old song "Elvis is everywhere?" Screw that, it should be "Keep is everywhere!"

Winter shutdown.

Winter shutdown.

So much I want to write about, but not publicly, yet. Things like how I'm surprised that the dumbass 19-year-old I was can still resurface and try and do things like climb the sides of buildings (metaphorically) or try and eat other guys' faces (literally). Sometimes I wonder if it's all about shock value or if it's really about pushing things as far as they can go before everything starts to buckle, snap, break, and ricochet all around you.

But fuck it, let's not center on the negative this morning. Let's focus on the positive. And what breaks a funk better than a fine tune, and the thought that someone you know, and like, and respect (because if you're reading this, and spending time with my words, you fit that profile) is enjoying the same song, at the same time, as you are.

I was going to go for irony to begin with, but instead decided to dust off a classic psychedelic gem that at the time was viewed as a band* playing a massive practical joke, but as time progressed that joke turned out to be an act of sincere devotion to a bygone time and a mind-expanding genre.

MP3: The Dukes Of Stratosphear "My Love Explodes"


P.S. Make sure you listen to the spoken coda. It used to crack me up so much when I was in high school, and I still repeat it to this day, even though about 0.0002% of the people I say it to have the slightest clue what I'm talking about.

P.P.S. Click on the picture of the cats. Trust me. Just do it.

*On the off chance you don't know, and I suppose no one more than 5 years younger than I would have any reason to, the band in question (a.k.a. the voices and instruments behind The Dukes Of Stratosphear) is XTC.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Achy.

Achy.

Yesterday I noticed my muscles were feeling like I had just done a ten-mile run, but I hadn't been to the gym all weekend. This morning my left shoulder is feeling funky and I'm still super-achy. I was starting to worry that maybe I was displaying early signs of Hodgkin's (which is the sort of thing one immediately assumes when one of your best friends had cancer as a teenager) but I think that was, perhaps, an incorrect early diagnosis.

No, I just remembered I got a flu shot Friday, so these must be the after-effects, which actually makes me start to wonder. Last year was the first time I ever got a flu shot, snce my company pays for them I decided what the heck, why not get one, and last year was the first time in forever I actually got the flu.

Come to think of it, I was just miserably sick a lot in general. Which, by the way, never used to happen. This year I get the show and no sooner do I stop bragging about zero side-effects received from said shot than many side-effects settle in for a winter nap.

I'm all for preventative medicine, but aren't you supposed to utilize it to keep from feeling cruddy?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Erm, um, yeah.

Erm, um, yeah.

So this is how Saturday began.


And this is how it ended.


The end.

Wotta douchebag.

Wotta douchebag.

So I wrote this piece in response to a column in last week's RedEye.

This idiot wrote 500+ words basically saying that girls should be hot if they expect dudes to want to date them. And then he made an aside insinuating that ugly girls did still stand a slight chance if they could make up for their looks with personality. Needless to say I called him out on his bullshit.

End of story, right? Wrong. No, this guy proceeds to MySpace message my EiC, and attack her, for a column I wrote. (O.K., O.K., she did call him a fucking idiot in the comments under my post, but to be fair, he is a fucking idiot.).

So let me get this straight. You're a columnist for a local fish wrapper, you write a misogynistic rant, a dude at another site writes something in response, so you decide to attack his female editor? How does that compute, exactly?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

If I told you about my weekend you just wouldn't believe me.

If I told you about my weekend you just wouldn't believe me.

It was that much fun. I think I saw just about everyone I know at some point (Thurs-Sun), whiskey-soaked raging evil-twin Tankboy was scarring people on Friday, and The Assembly XXXX-mas party last night was so gay it was awesome (plus, Eric's pad is SWEET!).

And total hats-off (but not pants-off) to Pee Pee for the automotive rescue ferry out of the depths of Pilsen last night. Though dude, you could have stopped me from taking my shirt off at The Continental!

So, do we have ANOTHER birthday to celebrate tonight (and then ANOTHER tomorrow?)? Are you people trying to kill me?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Yeah, sweartagod this ain't just a space for posting fliers.

Yeah, sweartagod this ain't just a space for posting fliers.

But tonight, unless you were lucky enough to get invited to THE holiday party of the season (you weren't), this is where you should go.


Also, did Keep make out with me last night? I think he tried but I can't remember if I reciprocated.

I'm learning, I'm learning!

Friday, November 30, 2007

A confession, but not the one you're expecting.

A confession, but not the one you're expecting.

So I'm sitting here, listening to the reissue of U2's The Joshua Tree Tree, and damn if they did not have it fucking down back then. Even the bonus disc, of unreleased tracks (FWIW, the version of "Sweetest Thing" they recorded in 1987 kicks the ass of the new millennial re-recording / single), slay ... and build ... and reach those anthemic stadium-fucking-heights that no band seems able to do anymore (sorry Win Butler y crew, you reach, and I love you for that, but it ain't the same.).

Man, am I in a fucking retro mood today, or what? Must be the Panic! in my veins.

Here, listen.

MP3: U2 "Luminous Times (Hold On To Love)"

More people are tracking me down.

More people are tracking me down.

I suppose it's a testament to just how pervasive online social networking has become, but I've had A LOT of people from WAY back in my past start to find me recently. Some find me through this site, others through MySpace, and a few just sort of stumble across me on Chicagoist, not even realizing who I am until they read my bio and peep my name.

Now, I'm the sort that remembers the past fondly, and tend to get sentimental over what fragments I can remember. I say fragments because honestly, for a span of time, that's how my memory sequences things. Often I completely forget people I hung out with on a daily basis until something comes along to jar that memory and unlock a fragment that had been hiding.

So when people from my past start popping up, and talking about other old friends, I love it. More of my memory returns, and the picture becomes more vivid. This might be hard to believe to some whom have heard stories about my years in Normal, IL, or my early Chicago years, but often things were even weirder than I usually remember. So when I say vivid, let's say something goes from Technicolor to full-on Surreal when my memories engorge and fill with various fragments that had previously been suppressed via poor recollection.

So, old friends, I hope you keep stumbling back across my path ... maybe one day I'll run into enough of you I finally remember everything from my past and can avoid making some of the same stupid mistakes!

Here is where i'll be getting my groove on tonight.

Here is where I'll be getting my groove on tonight.

Wow, a whole weekend without me DJing anywhere, what a nice surprise! What's an even nicer surprise? For once I'm not DJing or promoting a show the same night as Panic!, one of my absolute favorite dance parties in town. You know when I hit those bit in the sets where I totally geek out over Brit-pop and like-sounding groups? Imagine that expanded to 5 hours. Is it the sort of thing you want to hear every night? No. But it sure hits that sweet spot once a month.

See, here's me an Keep getting down* a few months ago.


What, you can't see us? Here.


Better? It's a good thing I'm tall and tower over all those midgets, huh?

See you tonight.

*And by "getting down" I mean standing at the bar, talking, and doing shots."

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sometimes it's almost too easy.

Sometimes it's almost too easy.

Doug Morris. CEO of UMG. Buffoon. This guy summarizes his recent interview perfectly, huh?

Good and bad causes.

Good and bad causes.

Tonight I shall be making two stops on my merry rounds. The first is here.


Lizz did a fine job summing this event up earlier this week, so read her account for more details. That's the good cause.

The bad cause is of course the trouble-making that will be going on at Liar's Club later this evening, including -- I shit you not -- the Chicago Illinois State Rock Paper Scissors Champion. And it's Josh from La Scala's birthday party, so there will be cupcakes!


They had me at "Cupcake."

Yeasayer? Naysayer? Idunnosayer?

Yeasayer? Naysayer? Idunnosayer?

So I'm listening to Yeasayer's All Hour Cymbals, and my first reaction is to get annoyed at how much they rip off Peter Gabriel.* But then I remember kinda feeling the same way when I first heard TV On The Radio, and they went on to become recent favorites truly respected by me. The primary difference is that the first TVotR track I heard was "Staring At The Sun," which even with the vocal and stylistic nod to Gabriel was pretty astonishing.

So I've learned not to jump to immediate conclusions. At the same time, Yeasayer seems to be missing the layered complexity TVotR has, and they certainly don't have the soul. That much is apparent even at this early juncture. And here's what I guess kind of bothers me most; I don't think Yeasayer would exist without TVotR, and bands that mimic other bands that are nearly their contemporaries always rub me the wrong way.

So I'm still holding back my final judgment, but at this juncture I've got to say the band's fighting an uphill battle to gain my allegiance. I mean, I sort of enjoy them, but can't figure out why everyone else seems to be going apeshit for 'em. Only time will tell.

MP3: Yeasayer "Sunrise"

*Though, to be fair, I'm beginning to hear more David Byrne than Gabriel in Yeasayer, which actually isn't helping since the last band to rip off Byrne so raised my ire.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Why did this take so long to hit my radar?

Why did this take so long to hit my radar?

Does anyone besides me remember Wolcott? More people probably see their old bass player Ben in a totally different light than I do. I always loved watching he and his huge 'fro of hair wobbling alongside lead singer Ryan. That band had so much energy, with the only downside being that you HAD to see them live to get it. Their single album just doesn't do the group justice.

Well, a bunch of guys that used to be in Wolcott teamed up with ex-40 Piece Choir folks, re-jiggered the set-up (for instance, Ryan is behind the kit instead of singing ... something that seems eerily familiar), and names themselves The Quilts. They play a mix of Americana and stadium rock, which makes total sense considering the roots of the group's various members. Coe to think of it, they kind of sound like what I thought the 1900s were going to sound like, based on their press. Anyway, The Quilts are playing Double Door next month, and i think I'll just have to make it out to see what they're like live. This track should be enough to whet you're appetitive too ... especially from the 1:36 point onward.

MP3:
The Quilts "4th of July"

Sweet teeny tiny baby Jesus indeed.

Sweet teeny tiny baby Jesus indeed.

I am so lame, but I can't stop singing this song now.



Credz Lauren for polluting my eyes and ears.

Eleven down, forty-one to go.

Eleven down, forty-one to go.

The Rough Guide to The Velvet Underground
by Peter Hogan


Man, is this pitiful. What do you think the chances are of me reading 41 books in the next, oh, 33 days? Pretty slim, huh? Better luck next year Tankboy.

I shall, however, continue on through the end of the year so hopefully I'll actually be able to swallow another couple of books whole and spit out a few more reviews.

This one was a bit of an impulse buy a few weeks ago, when I realized that while I knew the general history of The Velvet Underground, I was woefully short when it cam to super specific facts. Like, why the hell would the band dump John Cale only to bring on Doug Yule? Or where the hell did Sterling Morrison disappear to for so many years, and why? Or, what exactly happened to Nico in the years between her leaving The Velvet Underground and her unfortunate death via blow to the head?

Well, Peter Hogan's Rough Guide does a nice job of answering all those questions, along with a slew I had never thought to ask. After reading it I came away with one universal truth about the band.

Lou Reed is an asshole.

I had always suspected as much, but thought his contrary poses were mostly just that. But the book reveals Reed to be, for the most part a pretty self-centered malcontent. It's true that Reed grows fiercely protective of his bandmates if they are attacked outside of camp, but he seemed to relish in applying the most scathing insults to the ex-VUers himself. Of course this is countered by Reed's staggering talent, and his propensity to write amazing music, even when it appears on lackluster or unfocused solo albums.

Amazingly the book presents this viewpoint of Reed without actually weighing in with any sort of moral judgment, and that's as it should be. Instead, Hogan does a fine job outlining the group's history, including subsequent solo careers, while dropping in plenty of trivia and interesting minutiae about the band's albums and recording process. Overall it's a handy little intro to one of the most influential groups ever, and since it's a rough guide it's super up-to-date, even including that insane eBay auction over the acetate of the band's original recordings for their legendary debut that occurred just over a year ago.

I'd recommend this as a good read to both neophytes and long-time fans.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Imminent turkey imbalance!

Imminent turkey imbalance!

Every year it's the same thing; I get sick of the leftover Thanksgiving turkey long before it gets sick of me. When I don't want to touch another slice, you can bet that turkey is still sitting in my fridge, mocking me, daring me to finish it.

This year is different though! I've been really enjoying our turkey stores this time around, and it appears we are going to run out of leftovers long before my appetite is sated! I've never dealt with a conundrum like this! How could I have SO miscalculated!

Oh well, next year I'll keep* the turkey to mouth ratio in mind, in hopes of finally finding that happy medium of being sated rather than starved or sick.

*Visual pun intended.

Puppy!

Puppy!

I was having a bit of a blech day, when Margaret directed me to this photo:


It was taken by this guy, and I highly recommend spending some time poking around his page if you too need some brightening up.

Another reason to brighten up? Free booze and iPods in Chicago, tonight!

Karaoke without a net.

Karaoke without a net.

In South Haven there is a bar we pass every time we drive to or from Photogal's farmhouse. It's one of those sort of prefabbed looking places, a little rough around the edges, and obviously aimed at attracting locals and not the more affluent out-of-towners that tend not to leave the downtown South Haven area unless they're going on winery tours or indulging in similar activities.

Now this bar has one of those lit-up signs, with the big arrow pointing towards the establishment, advertising karaoke on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays; and every time we've passed the place -- for the past year or so -- I always joke that we HAVE to go there and do some karaoke.

Well, last Saturday Photogal called my bluff.

We were on our way home after dinner when she turned to me and said, "Maybe we should finally just check it out, huh?" So we pulled into the lot, surrounded by pick-ups and station-wagons, exited the Jeep and crept to peek in the window. We figured we'd better survey the place before entering to the soundtrack of a skipping needle followed by a breeze from all the heads snapping in our direction.

The scene we captured was of a brightly lit room, reasonably packed, with lots of dudes playing pool. The inhabitants were definitely locals through and through, with a fair amount of camouflage peppering the crowd (it's deer season), but overall it looked like a crowd we could handle ... or at least outrun if things suddenly got weird.


You see it's one thing to enter a strange bar with a bunch of friends, since the more folks you have with you, the deeper your safety barrier is. But when you enter a room with no one else but your ex, and things go South, you might find yourself face-down in the dirt with a busted rib circled by a bunch of angry townies.

Of course, if we all worked off the above theory, we'd never try anything new, and we'd continue to live in a bubble that reflected unfair stereotypes inward instead of dashing preconceptions with reality. But I digress.

I admit when we entered the room we attracted more than a few confused glances, and the bartender seemed slightly stymied when we actually started ordering drinks and shots. As the evening went on though, we noticed people started to loosen up around us, but I don't think the ice finally broke until I sang my own version of "Sweet Caroline." Folks that have seen me karaoke know that I love to twist the lyrics of that particular Neal Diamond song to create new narratives, and I also like using it as a good warm-up song since it's a slow burn for the vocal chords.

For the Michigan crowd I adopted the standpoint of a housewife tired of cleaning her trailer and waiting for he man to return with the days hunting spoils. I could see Photogal stiffening when I started singing about shooting deer -- since she knew I was already pretty drunk and could very likely say something to offend the room en masse -- but at the last second I veered into praising the hunters of the room and got a couple whoops and cheers in response.

After that it was all over. Folks would come up and briefly chat with us, and as Photogal downed Tecate after Tecate I noticed she was spending a lot of time with the karaoke songbook. At first I thought she was trying to pick out another song for me, but I slowly realized she intended to sing! Photogal! Singing! In public!

I was stoked.

After much debate she decided on Fleetwood Mac's "Go Your Own Way" -- ironic for a host of reasons -- and dragged me up to do it as an ad-hoc duet. Apparently the crowd liked a) Fleetwood Mac b) Photogals' voice and c) my el dorko posturing and hopping about. And apparently Photogal loved karaoke, because we were BACK on the stage a few minutes later chugging through Cheap Trick's "I Want You To Want Me" complete with crowd sing-a-long responses.

After that we sat back and enjoyed a few songs by this one guy with a tremendous voice that would vacillate between country and soul standards. We marveled at the fact that there are apparently specially built glasses whose entire purpose is to house J├Ągerbombs.* And I smoked far too many cigarettes. Last call was announced and we realized, with great shock, we had been in the bar for somewhere along the lines of 4 hours or so. I'm not going to say we walked out with any new friends, or even that there weren't a couple of folks that obviously were rather suspicious of us and our clothes (and, perhaps, our song selections since they veered pretty far from the standard country selections).

I will say that we had a blast though, and will surely indulge in some more karaoke at that bar at some point in the future. I'll also say it was probably some of the most fun Photogal and I have had out on the town together in a really long time. And finally I'll say this; the out-of-towners that never make it out of the tourist-friendly spots are really missing out and depriving themselves of some honest, off-the-cuff, wholly entertaining, fun.

*Obviously we've been living sheltered lives for far too long. Although, in our defense, the bartender had no idea what "Maker's Mark" was.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Photos from my last DJ set at The Continental are up.

Photos from my last DJ set at The Continental are up.


Superstar photog Clayton Hauck (a.k.a. the guy with the magic lens that makes EVERYONE look hot) was shooting pictures while I DJed at The Continental. Check out how much fun you missed.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

It blows my mind, it does.

It blows my mind, it does.

I just noticed Gmail now offers over 5GB of storage. That's larger than the hard drive on the computer I was using up until just a few months ago.

Wow.

Friday, November 23, 2007

TV Eyes needs some cutting and splicing.

TV Eyes needs some cutting and splicing.

With such an amazing pedigree (Roger Manning? Brian Reitzell? Jason Falkner?! Holy crap!) it's no surprise that TV Eyes write electro neu-wave that is almost uniformly perfect when it comes to melody and arrangement. The group's talent can't be denied, but they do have a fairly obvious fatal flaw, and it's one that befalls most insanely gifted songwriters.

They don't know when to stop.

Almost every song on TV Eyes is 3 to 4 minutes too long! What should have been a set of blissful pop nuggets turns into a collection of ingratiating hooks that slowly turn grating. Bummer, huh?

Here's an example:

MP3: TV Eyes "She's A Study"

If it was 2 minutes shorter, it'd be perfection. Also at 3:14, I can't help but feel like that little lick is right out of "In A Big Country." Don't get me wrong, it's still pretty great stuff! But it could've been better if someone had just said, "Um, guys, maybe we shouldn't repeat that chorus that extra time, and let's trim down the bridge and just tighten things up, huh?"

Photo by J.J. Blair