Monday, February 28, 2011

What's Your Price For Flight? A Few Words On Night Ranger

The affable DJ Murphy made a public comment about finding an elusive Night Ranger album, stating that he found a copy of the band’s Dawn Patrol album, It was an admission that prompted some good-natured ribbing from yours truly because-let’s be honest-there isn’t a lot of demand for Night Ranger albums beyond the obligatory greatest hits offering.

But Murph is an unabashed collector, you see, shunning the digital realm even when a few clicks would provide him the entire Night Ranger catalog in a matter of moments, and he could do so without paying a dime.

Murph is loyal too, he will buy duplicate copies of a title if the artist means a lot to him and he will get in great detail of manufacturing information on catalog numbers and quirky subtleties of the audio quantities of certain disc pressing plants.

It’s fascinating, an I have some of his research tools to check on a few suspicions that I’ve had in my own collection.

Anyway, the Night Ranger album in question would probably cost a bit of scratch, I guess, because he found an German import version of Dawn Patrol. To me, that in itself is prime material for some good natured ribbing. I mean, who pays big time prices for a Night Ranger album, for christsakes?

I hinted at deep cut Dawn Patrol track and Murph called me out-suggesting that maybe there’s a history with me and Night Ranger.

There is.

At a different point in my life, I worked for a radio station that sponsored a week-long music event where we’d book a bunch of fair-circuit bands. On one particular night, Night Ranger was booked and yours truly was just the man to introduce them to the audience.

This was well after the band had passed their prime, “prime” being the day they released the song “Sister Christian.” The band had a platinum and another gold album after that release-but it wasn’t too long until they found themselves looking for work at county fairs and small town festivals where the stage was right across from the Tiltawhirl.

It was raining that night, with a steady pour that meant you would be soaked within seconds without a poncho. Under a thousand people showed up, including a few people from my old high school. I remember this in particular as this same person who used to refer to Night Ranger as “Night Scrounger” a few years earlier when the band’s tepid, arena rock delivery was all over Midwestern radio.

I came into their backstage area-an air conditioned trailer that held some folding chairs, a plastic folding table that held an ice-filled bucket full of beverages and the usual deli meat and cheese assortment, a stuffed couch and an area in back to shower and change.

Night Ranger lived a short life in my record collection, a victim of falling to changing tastes and a hype that painted the band more aggressively then they actually were. Understand, this was the band that featured a guitarist who turned down Ozzy-at least that was the talk on the street. Nobody turns down Ozzy, unless they have a shit hot band themselves, which is what prompted me to consider Dawn Patrol.

It reminded me of Loverboy, a lite arena rock band that chicks in my town seemed to like. And while Night Ranger had a twin-guitar attack, they didn’t need it. It was very clear with Dawn Patrol that the band was geared towards the mainstream. And until they achieved the commercial success that they wanted, they’d have to make due as a high-energy touring band, one that had plenty of gimmicks for their live set.

I sold Dawn Patrol just as quickly as I was swayed by its false promise.

So to suggest that I was in awe of their presence would not be factual. The backstage meeting was just another gig for me as it was Night Ranger, and for that, we had mutual respect.

At this point, is was only Kelly Keagy and Brad Gillis-which made my question of “So, what was Ozzy really like, Brad?” quasi-relevant. With such an insensitive question and such obvious ambivalence towards the band, Gillis could have answered in such half measures without any damage to him or the diminishing spotlight of his career.

Let’s be clear, he was getting to perform in a rainstorm in front of less than 500 people next to a smelly river in a town that held less than any number of one of their arena shows from their 80’s heyday.

But Gillis answered my question. With honesty and completeness, he spoke candidly at how intimidating it was to be the first guitarist since Randy Rhodes died that shared the stage with Ozzy. He explained that he left Night Ranger to play with Ozzy, and his intention was to always return to them instead of becoming the guy that would forever be compared to Rhodes if he stayed. He refused to speak harshly against Sharon, even after so gentle prodding from yours truly. He was a gentleman just doing a gig before the real gig was to take place.

And Keagy was too, taking the fall from the charts with humble character, hinting that he had no real illusions that they’d ever manage to crawl back up the charts again. Instead, Night Ranger was the only gig he had-the same one which began under the name Rubicon several years before they changed the name to Night Ranger. His partner, Jack Blades, was riding high with Damn Yankees-the “supergroup” with him, the dude from Styx, and Ted Nugent. He even filled everyone in on the whereabouts of their keyboard player-Alan “Fitz” Fitzgerald-who was playing keyboards for Van Halen, albeit from behind the stage.

Why kick a band when they’re down? And more to the point, how can the afternoon-drive guy from a small-town radio station have the right to poke fun of anyone who’s doing what they love?

The fact is that Night Ranger probably made more on that rainy night that I did that entire month. And unlike me, they stuck with their chosen profession, continuing under a sense of obligation, knowing that there’s someone somewhere who’s ready to hear “Sister Christian” in the flesh.

And when I grabbed the microphone on the stage, I thanked the show’s sponsors with phony enthusiasm. But when I asked the crowd to not “let the rain wash away your enthusiasm, let’s give a warm, river cities welcome to Night Ranger!” I meant it.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Everybody Clap Your Hands

First of all, whenever you hear a grandparent or any other experienced parent say, “Kids grow up so fast.” believe it.

It’s true. As I type the fact that Ethan went to his first school dance last night, it’s not lost that it seems like only yesterday when I was wiping the shit from his ass and putting him up in the high chair for dinner.

As the English Beat once said, “Wha’ppen?”

Mom was working, so that left the job to handle both children in the confines of E’s school up to yours truly. It’s a job that I don’t recommend as any function at E’s school resembles anarchy and a feeling of panic begins to take hold the moment that you realize that you have no fucking idea where your kids have run off to.

That feeling occurred about thirty-seconds after we arrived at the school, where the activity was concentrated to the cafeteria and the gymnasium where a DJ was blaring whatever dance music kids listen to. As soon as we walked into the gym, E ran off looking for his friends, which caused Callista to immediately give chase after him.

Surprisingly, some of the other kids were doing some kind of choreographed dance in the middle of the floor while others were content to just run around and scream. Callista was very taken with the structured dance, and she began to mimic what the older girls were doing. The end result was akin to the Hokey Pokey, but with only her right leg, a move that she continued to revert back to for the rest of the night. I named the dance “The Pokey” since her version did not require her to shake it all about or to turn around. To my daughter, the act of pointing her foot out and in was what it’s all about.

Even elementary kids aren’t immune to the “Cha Cha Slide” or “Y.M.C.A.” where parents have obviously worked with their children as early as kindergarten to learn the appropriate moves. Thank God nobody seemed to have taught the “Hey! Get laid! Get fucked!” part for “Mony Mony,” but I was surprised when my own son blurted out the “Charlie Brown!” part during the “Cha Cha Slide.”

How did he learn that?

When I focused my attention on one child, the other child would inevitably run off into a sea of children to the point where I was forced to make a tactical decision. I felt that Ethan is at an age (he’ll be 8 in a few months) where he knows enough about stranger danger that he wouldn’t allow himself to leave the school or let someone try to abduct him from a school function.

Callista-who will be four in a few months-I wasn’t so sure about since she’s a social animal and will approach anyone who isn’t wearing an Incredible Hulk mask. The decision was made to let Ethan fend for himself while focusing all of my parenting attention on the little girl.

Even this proved more difficult than it sounds, as she would dance around a bit by herself and then scatter off to another part of the gymnasium. While I was close behind her, every attempt to catch up to her was interrupted by the chaos of children with no sense of manners, They would run directly in front of you, pushing any adult out of the way of their destination, oblivious to the words “Excuse me!” or to the idea of respecting authority. I began to wonder if the uprising in Libya had more structure than this sock hop.

The real chaos came at the very end of the dance, when the DJ put on Justin Beiber’s “Baby” to the delight of what sounded to be every girl in attendance. To say that I wasn’t prepared for their reaction is an understatement. I simply had never been around that many young girls whose affection towards a pop star was that intense.

I honestly can’t remember an artist to provide me with that amount of perspective when I was growing up. I was too young to comprehend David Cassidy’s popularity and was too old to really see the Leif Garrett/Shaun Cassidy/Andy Gibb success when it took hold. Then again, I don’t remember our elementary school ever having sock hops or the kind of social events that schools have today.

I think a lot of it has to do with the tremendous amount of funding cuts that public schools have today. Most of the social functions that we have at our school have an underlying theme of generating revenue. We receive more requests for money than homework for our son, and that is something that I was not prepared for. He brings home dozens of papers encouraging parents to buy Target gift cards or any other number of pre-loaded cards that the school buys to sell to parents to generate some revenue. This is in addition to book fairs, box tops, and can drives that the school has on a continual basis. And each one of them comes with an undercurrent of guilt that you’re not doing enough for the school.

The crazy thing is how very unorganized these things can be. I’ve volunteered before and have seen firsthand what happens when you let school administrators and PTA members undertake these events. The best example was when I volunteered to run the fountain drinks for a half-hour, only to notice after an hour and a half later that my scheduled relief was a no-call no-show. It wasn’t until I began looking for an organizer that they realized there was a problem.

I feel bad that schools are forced into this position-I’m the type of person that views education as an investment for this country’s future and feel that if cuts are needed in the budget, they can be found in better areas.

But I regress. Let’s get back to Bieber fever.

The volume of the girl’s scream when “Baby” came on was deafening. I noticed that even some of the girls covered their ears in pain as the person next to them squealed at the top of their lungs. I could tell that their reaction also caught the attention of my own daughter, who continued to sing the chorus to “Baby” for the rest of the night.
The DJ announced that the dance was drawing to a close, and when he declared the final song of the evening would also be a song from Justin Beiber, the girls screamed even louder. I was impressed at how the DJ strategically placed these songs at the end of the night, since the sound of any Justin Bieber song clearly turned every girl between the age of 8 through 12 into an unmanageable crazy.

It also caused their boy counterparts to head for the cafeteria to buy one more giant Pixie Stick before they closed up shop.

“I hate Justin Bieber!” I heard one boy exclaim to his mother as I waded through the crowd in an attempt to make sure that my daughter wasn’t interfering with the crowd’s escalating Bieber Fever.

When the song ended and the lights came on, my own daughter began crying that it was all over. For a moment, I was worried that she was caught up in Justin-mania until it was apparent that it was just a case of some little girl being too tired to understand why she was so upset.

And when she finally does begin to notice the cute boy stars that pop music markets to her, I’m under no illusion that they won't be just as bad as the ones that came before them.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Whitesnake - Slide It In


I can easily count at least a half-dozen reasons why I can’t stand Whitesnake, but let me tell you two of them as they originate from the band’s U.S. breakthrough album. Slide It In. The album has been given the “Deluxe Edition” treatment, complete with an alternate U.K. version that’s available stateside for the first time, and the packaging would prompt novices in thinking that Slide It In is indeed an album worthy enough for such attention to detail.

Thankfully, I’m old enough to remember the album when it was originally release, and that perspective provides me with enough experience to tell you that no, Slide It In is nowhere near the level of quality that’s usually designated for this kind of re-issue.

My stories will enable you to see where my criticism begins.

It starts with an ex-girlfriend. She was a young tennis player that was very impressionable with music, and I obligated her with what I’d like to believe were good album choices. Aside from a lame Aztec Camera album, she initiated her own passion for music, one that has permanently changed my perception of U2’s The Unforgettable Fire.

Her quest for music didn’t end with me. She had a girlfriend who really attached herself to everything pop-metal and this young floozy would often throw out such recommendations like Motley Crue’s Theatre of Pain or Ozzy’s Bark At The Moon. Her most passionate recommendation though, came with Whitesnake’s Slide It In.

She bought my girlfriend a cassette copy of it, and I commented on this new addition one night on her waterbed, looking for appropriate mood music.

The irony, of course, is that Slide It In is a record that screams misogyny, sexism, and every other Smell The Glove entendre that you could gather just by reading the album title. When I asked her opinion of it, she came across as a little pissed that someone she considered a friend would actually recommend this kind of music to her. We listened to the cassette a bit, laughed at all of the juvenile references to penises, vaginas and intercourse, and the entire experience left me with a bit of a soft spot for “Love Ain’t No Stranger.”

“Do you want it?” she asked after side one.

Whitesnake was big at this point, but not Tawny Kitaen big. It would take a couple of years for their irritatingly huge success based in large part to those eye-candy videos that featured some star-fucker who shacked up with one of the world’s finest Robert Plant impersonators, David Coverdale.

This is where the second example of my dismissal comes in.

One summer at the swimming pool where I worked at, a fellow lifeguard brought in a tape of a band he just discovered. He demanded that we play a sample over the loudspeakers, and in doing so, declared the band to be “the next Led Zeppelin.” The statement alone made me angry, but what really made my blood boil was the opening notes of “Gambler.”

“So, you’re comparing Whitesnake’s Slide It In with Led Zeppelin? Have you even heard a Led Zeppelin album, dude?”

Combine all of this back-story, the embarrassing cover art, and over 40 minutes of over-dramatic readings of 8th grade misogyny, you’d probably surmise that my review would be swift and brutal.

It isn’t, because Slide It In never pretends to be anything more than a farm league Led Zeppelin album to begin with. One could definitely complain that a man of David Coverdale’s lineage should have enough experience to come up come up with a line better than “I’m gonna slide it in, right to the top!” but then you’ll recall how Deep Purple’s lyrics never got confused with the Bard either.

You then begin to wonder how bright Coverdale actually is, not only in terms of stupid lyrics, but also in the manner in which he latched on to only one dimension of Robert Plant’s persona when scrounging together the musicians that became Whitesnake. He focused on Plant’s open-shirt “I’m gonna give you every inch of my love” phase, replacing it with his own “slide it in…right to the top, bay-buh” and a bunch of grunts, gasps, and other guttural enunciations.

If you’re into that Led Zeppelin-the one where they begin and end with “Whole Lotta Love” and where lemon juice serves as a fine metaphor for male ejaculate, then Whitesnake may indeed be “the new Led Zeppelin” like my dim-witted co-worker exclaimed.

But the Zeppelin plagiarism isn’t prevalent on Slide It In, which ultimately is why I can’t completely pan it and why I can’t be too worked up about its obvious shortcomings. In fact, it resembles Coverdale’s old band Deep Purple than it does Led Zeppelin. And when you’ve got all of that baggage removed from Whitesnake’s blueprint, it makes them nearly tolerable.

So what about the entire US/UK version debate? The difference in the mix is completely noticeable, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it “rough” or “rawer.” It’s still a very mainstream album, and for anyone who thought there exists a very rough and raw edit of Slide It In, you will undoubtedly face the same level of disappointment that I found.

As much as I hate to admit it, the U.S. version turns out to be the superior mix. It’s richer, more dynamic-creating a wider sound that makes the band larger than what they really were. The band needed a break in the states, and the U.K. mix simply captured the band as what they were: a project that Coverdale cobbled together after Deep Purple imploded. The trick may have worked a bit when there wasn’t a Deep Purple filling that void, but when the classic Purple line-up ended up reuniting for Perfect Strangers, that left Whitesnake as just another also-ran.

The U.S. version corrected this, placing Slide It In alongside Deep Purple in terms of quality and scope, while packing a bit more aggression than anything on Perfect Strangers.

But before we start inflating Coverdale’s head more than it actually is, keep in mind that Perfect Strangers was a lame offering from Purple to begin with. And while Slide It In may indeed trump Coverdale’s old band reunion effort, it certainly doesn’t mean it’s good enough to justify the fancy reissue and the inclusion of the discarded, original UK mix certainly doesn’t mean that Whitesnake’s best offering deserves a second glance from those wondering what they might have missed the first time.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Whitesnake Is Now Accepting Donations For A Time Machine To Bring David Coverdale Back To 1984

From the press release as I couldn't write this shit up:

Just in time for Valentine's Day: the perfect blend of rock and romance. Whitesnake has partnered with VEVO for the world premiere of the brand new video "Love Will Set You Free." As of today, Monday, February 14th, the video can be viewed here on VEVO within the U.S. and Canada.

Directed by Devin DeHaven/Fortress Entertainment (Papa Roach, Method Man, Talib Kweli), the video was shot in Lake Tahoe, NV. "Love Will Set You Free" is the first single from the forthcoming Whitesnake album, Forevermore, due out on March 29th in North America and March 25th in Europe. The digital album is available for pre-order today via Whitesnake.com and includes an instant track download of "Love Will Set You Free." Pre-order of the album will be made available at all digital stores on February 21st.

Forevermore finds founder/singer/songwriter David Coverdale and company returning to their no-holds-barred, bluesiest, sexiest rock n' roll roots. This will be Whitesnake's 11th album and the first release via the Italian-based Frontiers Records label. Forevermore was recorded, produced and mixed by Los Bros Brutalos (Coverdale, Doug Aldrich and Michael McIntyre) at Snakebyte Studios and Grumblenott Studios & Villas in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, with additional work at Casa Dala, Sherman Oaks, CA.

About Whitesnake

Formed in 1977, and steered by the legendary David Coverdale, Whitesnake carry a rightful reputation as one of the world's leading rock n' roll bands. Coverdale's blues roots, combined with a feral sense of rockin' and rollin', have consistently shaped the 'Snake's sound along with Coverdale's love and appreciation of impeccable musicianship. Whitesnake's ascent to the very top of the rock n' roll heap was confirmed with 1987's self-titled mega-platinum album, which saw two massive Top 10 hits, two #1 singles with "Here I Go Again" and "Is This Love" and a virtual 24-hour domination of MTV around the world. Whitesnake is David Coverdale (vocals), Doug Aldrich (guitars), Reb Beach (guitars), Michael Devin (bass) and Briian Tichy (drums).



Holyfuckingshite, Coverdale looks way old. I mean, I know that he is, but I was prepared for some soft lighting, filtered lenses, anything that would ease the lines on that face.

Oh wait, there actually was that stuff! Including a bunch of silhouette shots where you can't see a goddamn thing for fear that you'd see one of those creepy creatures from Descent lurking about in one of Coverdale's crevices.

At least the stripper chick in the video looks age appropriate-like she was twenty one when "Here I Go Again" was first released.

If you watch as they're putting up the letters on the marquee, it spells "Great White Lion Snake and Puppet Show." At least they put the band name first.

The song itself? It sucks, just like you'd expect it to. Someone needs to tell that guitarist that his solo sucks almost as bad as his posing.

Finally, does Whitesnake really have their own wine? Twenty bucks says it's made out of grape Kool-Aid and that stripper's ass sweat.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cedar Rapids

I live in Cedar Rapids, so everyone in town is probably going to be at this movie.

You should come by and rob our homes when we're gone.

I've heard it's good. I've heard it's funny. I've heard that not a goddamn scene was filmed here.

I don't blame them. It stinks here. Literally. If you come into town from the south, you'll get a whiff of the corn syrup processing plant. Trust me, it smells worse than it sounds.

Then you'll run past some really weird chemical smell that will have you saying "Gross!"

Then you'll drive past the Quaker Oats plant, which again, sounds deceiving. You're thinking "Oats. What could smell bad with that?" but you're not understanding that it's nowhere near the delicious goodness of your apple and cinnamon oatmeal. This is like wet, milled oats soaking in some yeasty compound. It's gross. Trust me.

They call it 'The City of Five Seasons' while we call it 'The City of Five Smells.' We haven't quite recovered completely from the 2008 flood, which is a shame cause it had some character at one time.

I'd like to think we're getting back, but I'd be lying if I said we're close to a full recovery and that things are looking better. The reality is that it's frustrating, and I'd in no uncertain terms tell you to come visit.

Save your ticket for a few more years. Go see this movie instead.

Jackson Pollock's Mural

"Passion looks like a painting
Jackson Pollock’s No. 5”
-The Stone Roses
1987

There are two things that I rarely touch on this blog: art and jazz. It’s not that I don’t appreciate either-quite the contrary-it’s just that my ignorance of each would be quite obvious the moment I start blabbing on and on about it.

I know what I like and I keep it like a secret.

Hint: Miles Davis’ Miles Smilesis my favorite jazz album and I dig the chaotic splatter of Jackson Pollock’s stuff.

This brings me to the drama that’s been knocking around my neck of the woods lately: the proposed sale of Pollock’s “Mural,” the piece that has been at the University of Iowa since it was donated to the university’s art museum in 1951.

No, this isn’t the drippy color stuff of his more famous works, this is a mural created in 1943, before Jackson got all Post-War crazy with his brushes. It was this work that indeed makes “Mural” so potentially expensive if someone were to consider buying it.

This is exactly what a Republican State Representative in our state is recommending we do with the piece. Evidently, the Republican leader feels that it is the U of I’s best interest to sell “Mural” and pocket the cash to fund future art scholarships. The University, like many in our country, is facing tough resistance to increased spending and is dealing with intense scrutiny from the statehouse to get a handle on costs. There are some unique ideas being tossed around from both our elected officials and university budgeters in trying to get a handle on costs while keeping services consistent, but this idea is not one of them.

First of all, “Mural” was donated by Peggy Guggenheim. This means the donate would inevitably come with the potential that the donators could simply “donate it back” if they felt the university was only interested in the financial gain the painting provide. Never mind that any reasonable executor would later view Iowa university with a suspicious eye in the future, potentially blocking the idea of donating anything to the institution dead in its track.

But the real concern is what isn’t being reported as this story gains traction: an underlying culture of suppressing liberal institutions that many Republicans feel are creating a population of free thinkers that will render them irrelevant as our state’s population moves from the rural landscape into more urban areas.

It’s not as far-fetched as one may think, particularly if one follows the money and sees how conservatives immediately look at our three public universities when brandishing budgetary carving knives.

It gets even more suspicious when you see which of the three universities they target first. My Alma matter, the University of Northern Iowa and another, Iowa State University, doesn’t get nearly the amount of scrutiny as the U of I, mainly because they are business and agricultural institutions respectfully, both viewed as colleges that typically graduate students who would be more in line with Republican ideals. The University of Iowa, on the other hand, is the kind of liberal leaning universities that can be found in nearly every state, and the progressive nature of the students and staff makes right wing conservatives extremely nervous.

Despite the twisted logic that the Republican committee has presented in explaining why such a sale is needed, they’ve successfully brought it out of the chambers and onto to floor of the House where a vote is expected. After it travels to the Senate (where Democrats hold a slim majority) it is expected to be blocked.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The 2011 Grammy Awards

As long as I can remember, the Grammy Awards always disappoint.

When I was a child, I would watch (keep in mind, there were very few outlets for music before MTV) the award show every year and each time I would walk away frustrated that my choice usually wasn’t selected.

I remember Debbie Boone, the Starland Vocal Band, and it always seemed that they’d give Stevie Wonder an award for something.

All of it led me to the point where I don’t put a lot of weight into what happens at the Grammy’s and I certainly don’t take it as seriously as the show would like you to believe it is. And while it’s cool to see a beneath the mainstream artist wins an award, you don’t really lose much sleep over it when they don’t.

But I was genuinely surprised when Arcade Fire won the award for Album of the Year. It clearly was an upset and virtually no one in their right mind would have thought they had a snowball’s chance in Saskatchewan of winning.

See how I made a nonsensical funny there?

There performance was good, but not good enough for “normal” people to rush out and buy The Suburbs. In fact, even Barbara Streisand wasn’t quite sure if the band was called The Suburbs and their Album of the Year was called Arcade Fire. And call her old and out of touch if you’d like, but we all know it was Kris Kristofferson that looked like he had just arrived from a 5-day camp out in his car, fueled by nothing more than Tic Tacs and distilled washer fluid.

What’s even more hilarious than the easy picking senior sect were the immediate tweets from celebrities that pondered “Arcade who?” I’m sure there is a bunch of people under the age of 18 who are asking the same thing about Rosie O’Donnell and Tawny Kitaen.

I liked Cee Lo’s get up for “Fuck Forget You” as it reminded me of Captain Fantastic era Elton appearing on the Muppet Show. I had no idea why Gwyneth Paltrow was singing with him, and then I learned that she was in some country music movie. I was surprised at her singing ability, but then I remembered that she did some movie with Huey Lewis, which completely turned me off to her singing ability.

Speaking of singing ability isn’t it time for us to completely ignore Christina Aguilera by now. Seriously. Shut the fuck up.

Bob Dylan was awful, What else is new? Move on, people.

My wife thought that the band’s that came before Dylan were silly looking and over-excited. I said it was good television, and it would create some nice record sales for them. Sure enough, both Mumford & Sons and the Avett Brothers posted some nice sales gains because of their spirited performances.

I liked Lady Gaga’s egg thing, but my kids were bummed that Katy Perry didn’t win anything. “Fireworks” is a popular favorite around our house, causing my three-year-old to burst out in Elaine Bennis fashion and my son to stoop to silly levels in an attempt to snag some of the attention away from her.

They also like Justin Bieber, but apparently, the Grammy voters don’t. I think it’s hilarious that his fans took to Tweeting nesting things about Esperanza Spalding, with some girls going as far as to deface Spalding’s Wikipedia entry.

I thought Eminem rather sucked and I was utterly convinced that the Starland Vocal Ba…er….Lady Antioxidant would win everything. They seemed so nice, clean, and white-typically great barometers of Grammy voting. I had no idea about the song, but my wife sang every word of it. Go figure.

In closing, this year’s Grammy’s was everything I expected it to be-a predicable pat on the ass to those artists who still play by the rules and manage to eek out a few record sales. Seriously, the Lady A folks went out of their way to thank their label, their managers, and to “country radio” for playing their music, acting like this was 1990 when all of those things really mattered.

They don’t anymore, and neither does the Grammy’s. It’s an irrelevant event, reduced to a Sunday night showcase of mediocrity.

And while the world is abuzz on Arcade Fire’s curious case of sudden mainstream notoriety, the rest of the Grammy’s played like any other Grammy Awards show for the past half-century.

Lemmy

One of the best Motorhead stories I have ever heard came from my cousin. We had both seen Motorhead in an arena setting, and while the set was good, the barking midrange of the band wasn’t conducive to the amphitheater we saw them.

He figured that the band would really shine in a more intimate venue, and at the first opportunity, he saw them at one.

It was the House of Blues in Chicago where he ended up, a nicely appointed venue with good acoustics. To be fair, it’s also a chain-with venues in several U.S. cities, fully attentive to the bottom line of its locations with high-priced beverages and calendars that assured the maximum level of occupancy.

Motorhead filled the House of Blues in Chicago, to the point where he believes the show was oversold. He relayed a first hand account of the venue filled to the rim with fans firmly entrenched in their section of real estate and absolutely no intention of moving an inch. Most of these hard-nosed fans looked like they would straight-up shank you if you allowed yourself to enter into their personal space. It was one of the few shows he had been to where he felt the potential for personal harm.

To make matters worse, Lemmy and company were ambivalent to any notion of personal accountability. Their “free market” approach meant that they focused only on delivering the music that the roomful of ruffians had come to witness.

The music was loud-ear damaging stuff. And while my cousin watched his footing enough to avoid any physical confrontations, he was ill prepared for Motorheads aural onslaught. Having neglected to bring ear protection, he cringed during the moments where Lemmy yelled “Do you want it fucking louder!” and the soundman obliged by turning the volume up accordingly.

So maybe the strategic areas of an amphitheater is the better place, or maybe it should come as common knowledge that if you’re going to a Motorhead show, your ears will indeed bleed profusely if you dare to enter with anything below a pair of cotton balls.

The newly released documentary film Lemmy attests to this infrequently discussed Motorhead truth, but it also discusses the more noted myths of Lemmy Kilmister’s past including the reported tales of heavy speed usage, the number of women he’s bedded, and the reports that he spends a lot of his waking hours playing video trivia at the Rainbow.

To these factoids, Lemmy pooh-poohs the reports of how many women he’s slept with, cautions that he’s known many people who have died from excessive drug use, and admits that his longevity is out of necessity instead of actual talent.

Because when you’re a vital member of the evolution of rock music, your limitations can actually be your strength, and for Lemmy he wanted people to experience what it might sound like if you used a pair of Triumph exhaust pipes as headphones while someone throttles the engine.

For Lemmy, his heroes are the Founding Fathers of rock: Elvis, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, etc. You can tell in his appearance how he relates to their generationally divisive music and you can tell in his performance how he viewed the strength of their output. To match wits them, he knew he had to be louder and faster than their material to appear as worthy enough to respect their legacy. and the rest of those first generation rockers that he identifies with. One could argue that those members were blessed with more God given talent than Lemmy, but they’d also have to accept that Lemmy represents a nearly as vital place directly behind those Founding Fathers.

In that section is Motorhead’s ambiguous blend of punk and metal. The union gave birth to an unruly bastard, an offspring that had no time to tease its hair or compose a power ballad. There seemed to be one speed to Motorhead-no pun intended-and they had to wait until payday before they could afford to repair the breaks on that bad motherfucker.

Lemmy does a fine job of chronicling the obligatory time line of his life, and viewers get a nice overview of his musical output from Hawkwind and beyond.

There are moments in his history that seem to only get a quick glance before moving on; I can’t for the life of me remember if the film discussed much about his work with Wendy O Williams or Girlschool. That’s a shame, as I don’t know much about those periods and his involvement with Girlschools’s Kelly Johnson.

Unfortunately, both of those high profile relationships don’t provide another side of the story; both women have passed away and there’s no archival footage presented. Instead, there’s a parade of talking heads, from hilarious recollections from The Damned to the incessant yapping and nutswinging of the ever-present Dave Grohl. He attempts to say something profound about how Lemmy is more of the real deal than someone like Keith Richards-implying that there is some unwritten rock and roll code that somehow negates integrity with financial success. What makes the entire argument a bunch of hot air is Grohl’s own output of palatable rock that pockets his own wallet.

Meanwhile, Lemmy continues to live in a cramped apartment, stuffed to the ceiling with shit and littered with trash and cigarette butts. I’d be willing to bet that anyone reading this-including Dave Grohl-that if they were presented with either the lifestyle of Keith Richards or Lemmy Kilmister, it would be a landslide for Keef.

We all know that Lemmy is a badass without Grohl or anyone else’s comments, and most of them on Lemmy are merely fluffy praise and little meaningful antidotes.

The film does dig more into the human element of Kilmister, at least as much as he’ll allow. He brushes off any chance to speak about the mother of his son with recollections of how she lost her virginity to John Lennon. There is an acknowledgement of another child who he’s never met, but you don’t know if his ambivalence towards that prospect as an example of his lack of emotional connection or an eerie comparison to a similar path that his own father took when Lemmy was two years old.

The only moment of real human levity comes when the filmmaker asks Lemmy what item in his apartment is the most valuable.

“My son.” He says without hesitation.

His son is seated right next to him when he says it, but you get the sense that Lemmy didn’t just come up with the response for the camera. His son wasn’t prepared for the answer either; you can tell that he’s visibly affected with the response

While these brief moments of emotional content are nice, you get the sense of impending doom with Lemmy, like the subject matter is drawing closer to a close either by choice or by some kind of health surprise.

Yes, much is made about Lemmy’s resilience to controlled substance history and his penchant for a bottle of Jack a day, but he certainly doesn’t seem as mentally sharp as his frequent comparison, Keith Richards.

It’s more than the slurring of words or continual tales of rock nostalgia. The bounce is gone from his movement-the chance of certain danger eliminate. His Los Angeles residency is the retirement village he was able to afford and the parade of visitors and fans his nursing staff.

It’s a bit sad, but it’s reassuring to know that he’s safe and, yes, when that time comes, Lemmy Kilminster will be missed.

Lemmy will be used as a vital part of that eulogy, of course, but it would have been better served with more detailed elements of his musical history to ensure that those who watch it will immediately want to seek out his recorded work as soon as the credits roll.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Toy Division Performs Transmission

Here's an awesome clip of a Playmobil stop-motion Joy Division doing "Transmission" on John Peel's show back in '79. I love the attention to detail: Hooky's beard, Ian's spastic shuffle and the full-on whirlwind arms of Stephen Morris behind the kit.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Singles 45's and Under: Carole King - "Jazzman"

Carole King’s Tapestry was one of those albums that got a lot of airplay in our home during the early 70’s. It was one of those records that I wasn’t allowed to monkey around with like some others that I have documented on these pages.

To make up for this, my parents bought me a copy of the single “It’s Too Late,” which I’d play (the flip was “I Feel The Earth Move”) incessantly. Sometimes, I’d bring the copy of Tapestry up to my room- adhering to the request to not take the record out of the sleeve-and just stare at the cover art.

It was strange that my parents even had the record. They had addressed the problem of my destructive hands by switching to the 8-Track format, placing the player and tape cartridges up beyond my reach. I think back at all of the awesome albums they had on 8-Track and feel bad that they were presented on such a shitty format.

I’d play “It’s Too Late” and look at the cover of Tapestry, studying the shot of a barefoot Carole sitting by the window with her cat. She looked so exotic to me, a result of my Wonder bread community where Jewish may as well be Chinese. So to me, Carole King looked like some unattainable young woman from the city who had no qualms telling an old boyfriend “Something inside has died, and I can’t hide it, I just can’t fake it.”

I began to develop a crush on Carole King.

She also did Really Rosie around the same time, which secured another bond-but I was ready for the proper follow-up to Tapestry, not some greasy kid stuff.

Then, she came out with “Jazzman.”

I bought the copy you see in the picture, mainly because that was all I could afford on my measly allowance, and wished I had a bigger picture of Carole to gaze upon. I was taken by her eyes-a vibrant set of blue-but wished I could see more of her features below the neck. There was absolutely nothing sexual about my infatuation-I was much too young to grasp that kind of desire-but instead it centered around an ideal of what I thought a “cool” woman should be like.

It’s something that I still fight with today as my collection of Kate Bush and Cat Power records will attest to. Remember the scene in High Fidelity where they talk about dating an artist, longing for the day that their blurry image can be seen In the back cover shot. That’s me with Kate, Chan, and at one point, Carole King.

I told the story of my crush to one other person, and was immediately met with a look of “Are you serious? Carole King?!” Beauty does indeed lie in the eyes, and I’ll admit that my taste in women has changed since my pre-pubescent years.

My parents bought me a portable cassette player that same year-another entry in their long line of obsolete music machines. The first cassette? A copy of Carole King’s Wrap Around Joy, the album that “Jazzman” is featured on.

The cassette player would later eat the recorded music, but the bigger complaint was how the cover art to that tape was even smaller than the sleeve to my single.

No worries: another Jewish girl from New York would soon take Carole’s place and it is almost as embarrassing. This time it was my Mom’s copy of a Bette Midler album, featuring the buxom redhead with cleavage revealed-and it came at a time when things like that mattered more than the casual cool pose that Carole offered a few years prior.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Flaming Lips Internet Drama: Drozd vs Jones

Fresh off an Onion AV Club review of his solo album-a soundtrack to the documentary The Heart Is A Drum Machine-Flaming Lips’ multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd found himself personally addressing some nasty comments from readers.

Evidently, a few of the posters felt that Drozd’s contributions were the reason that the band moved from their acid freakout days into a more subdued psychedelic directions that often blossomed into progressive territories. He also was sagged with introducing the electronica elements into the band’s heady mix, a real point of contention from old school fans. A few posters even suggested that Drozd had a hand in Ronald Jones’ departure.

That’s when Drozd logged in to the site and offered a two sentence long reply, which is more than he really needed to do. Any real Lips aficionado would have done their homework and discovered that The Flaming Lips has an Alpha Male by the name of Wayne Coyne.

In other words, if anyone has the authority to choose who stays and who goes in the Flaming Lips, it would be Wayne. It’s his band, and it’s been that way since his older brother left.

If Wayne was forced to make a choice between Drozd and Jones, then I’d say he made the right one. As talented as Ronald Jones is, Steven Drozd is on another level. And if Jones’ main defense was the “But I’m not on heroin” card, then he clearly didn’t understand that Wayne’s in the business of making music, not managing someone else’s lifestyle.

And at the time, not even the possibility of Drozd’s addition could erase the fact that he was still able to make some pretty amazing music.

The reality is that we might not even be talking about the Flaming Lips in a present tense if the choice had gone to Ronald Jones. The creative leaps the band took with Drozd are even more impressive when you consider the short amount of time it took. There is good growth for the band during the first half of the 90’s, but when you gauge the growth the band experienced during the last half of the decade-the period after Jones’ departure-the Flaming Lips went from making mind-bending originals into genre bending masterpieces.

I’m the type of fan that I have been pining for the band to return to their guitar freakout days for quite some time, so I understand how some fans have grown tired of the concert spectacle and grandeur arrangements of their work from The Soft Bulletin on.

But there’s little that anyone can say to dissuade me in believing that The Soft Bulletin is indeed a masterpiece. Embryonic isn’t that far behind either. And both have Drozd’s mitts all over them.

Blame him for a departure that reeks a bit of jealousy too. Could it be that Jones himself knew that even at lowest, Drozd could create something greater in scope than he ever could sober and focused, his motivation clearly defined? We can only look for Ronald’s body of work after his departure-and it’s just not there.

Barely a word has been heard from him since he left, and it’s becoming apparent that his complete removal from music is fueling the curiosity surrounding him, adding to a myth that isn’t really that mysterious.

Meanwhile, Drozd has been seen on all of those aforementioned landmark albums. Even the records that are in-between creative peaks show Steven in a role of vital muse instead of a divisive element.

You can see the documentary of The Heart Is A Drum Machine here, but earlier testimonies are suggesting that-aside from Drozd’s musical contributions-it’s a boring and jumbled mess.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

On The Break Up Of The White Stripes

Glorious Noise gained notoriety by becoming the first outlet to check the public records of a Michigan courthouse to dismantle any notion of Jack and Meg White’s sibling status. Instead, they showed readers that the two were actually husband and wife at one point-their bio sheet fa├žade reduced to just another broken marriage.

It was a mutual love of rock and roll that kept them together. Think for a moment all of the bands that had an internal love connection and then think of how many of them managed to withstand the break-up.

Remember how shitty Heart got after the Wilson/Fisher relationship ended?

What about Jagger/Richards?

I saw the White Stripes once. It was a New Year’s Eve show in Chicago and I was with my ex-wife while thinking a lot about my current wife. It’s a long story, but the short of it is how the White Stripes have the dubious distinction of being the soundtrack to a break-up and the beginnings of a new relationship.

There are certain songs and bands that I still cannot listen to because it reminds me of my failed marriage. The White Stripes were not one of them. They were the epitome of rock and roll music, stripped to the bone of pretention and proving that the basic backbone of rock music could still find a viable place in an era where such huge musical statements like Kid A or The Soft Bulletin were the rule of the day.

And because of that primitivism, I cannot associate the basic building block of rock and roll with a period of depression.

Maybe they couldn’t either. The story goes that nobody was really sure if Meg would even show up for the first White Stripes gig after the divorce was final. And when she did show up at the last minute, it’s been said that it was one of the best shows of the band’s career.

The show that I saw was great-not revelatory like I was expecting-but an event nonetheless. There was the red and white color scheme. There was the positioning of the duo-the two ex-spouses parked directly in front of each other-where Meg barely took her eyes off Jack.

And then there was the recovery of White’s index finger-yes, a source of real concern that year-as we pondered if his guitar skills would be adequate after a car accident that broke his finger. He was fine as it turned out, ‘cept for a few bits of sloppy soloing and rushed chords.

I’m one who loved Meg’s playing too. The entire notion of a limited percussionist just appealed to me. It reminded me of R.L. Burnside who had some shaky rhythms behind him. The difference, of course, is that Meg was a chick drummer in a band that was visually stunning, drawing your attention into the duo and realizing that the drummer really isn’t doing much beyond keeping time.

My favorite albums are the early ones, but I appreciate how far they went with such a limited lineup. “Conquest” is my son’s favorite White Stripes song and my wife’s would probably be “Icky Thump” or “Seven Nation Army” because those were the ones that made it on to rock radio.

In that respect, maybe it was the best decision to call it a day. The White Stripes would ultimately be even farther removed from their dirty revival albums and become more of an opportunity to release a misstep.

Instead, they will be remembered fondly for their adhesion to the basic principles of rock music, the idea that you don’t need much to bang out a memorable racket. And if you’ve got some passion behind that racket and a great look to promote it, you may be able to reach the same heights that the White Stripes were able to achieve in their woefully short career.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Looking Back At The Orange & Black: Glorious Noise Calls It A Decade

Immediately after announcing their 10th anniversary, the website Glorious Noise stated that the online music magazine (or blog for you cynics) would go on “infinite hiatus” to take a breather.

I wrote some reviews and articles for the website as many of you may be aware of, and you could say that I’m a bit saddened by the news. It has little to do with losing an outlet that’s graciously published my poorly structured prose, but more to do with the declining amount of webspace that’s devoted to meaningful articles to those of us who viewed the internet as a nice place to match up those liner note readers with one another.

A few years ago, Glorious Noise co-founder Jake Brown made some offhanded comment of how the site could become (like so many other sites) just another page of links, publishing the bio sheets that the labels provide and giving viewers a heads up to free MP3s to newly released albums.

“We’d probably get more hits too.” He concluded.

The sarcasm was not lost on me, and it was obvious that the truth in his words stung a little too.

I know there’s a bunch of people like me who are still out there, who still remember the solitude of reading the liner notes to a favorite album-struggling to find a common soul to our fanaticism and then hoping their musical tastes somewhat matched ours.

The internet seemed like a good way to harness those people, but people like me are living among a younger generation of interweb controllers. Those who couldn’t be bored with the endless parade of no-it-alls who talk about music. Just put up a link, for christsakes, and let me judge for myself.

They’re immune to the clutter. They view the internet as something they must tame upon each login. To get to the goal is their task-like an endless version of Super Mario Brothers, they click, close and minimize until they get the advance of the new Decemberist album.

Are we a dying breed? Does anyone feel a sense of panic anymore when faced with the prospect that the album as we know it may have become completely irrelevant? Is the fact that a website that’s devoted to the ambiguous Mission Statement that “Rock & Roll Can Change Your Life” can’t operate as a successful business model?

I use “business model” in the loosest sense of the word, because it was obvious that nobody in Glorious Noise was out to make any money doing all of this, and I have no real data to support the idea that the site was losing readership.

But it certainly was becoming more of a burden, and with contributions decreasing or coming in the form of poorly edited material, the man-hours needed to clean up the shit and make it somewhat coherent and presentable became more like work than passion.

And then there’s the abundance of cynics, critics, and assholes that use the anonymity of the web to, for lack of a better word, just be mean. In a weird bit of synchronicity, a semi-regular troll at Glorious Noise commented on the message board’s White Stripes Announce Breakup topic how they wondered aloud, “You next?”

It was weird but, conspiracy theories aside, it was a perfect example of how the internet has turned from a Utopian platform of culture-bending community to a soapbox designed for assholes with nothing more than divisive words and angry opinions. In the case of the aforementioned troll, I believe his/her biggest gripe was that the contributors had failed to recognize the significance of modern pop music. In short, we were getting old and our fogeyism had clouded the respect that modern music was somehow owed.

While Glorious Noise may indeed have demographics that skewed older, does it make their opinions any less meaningful? I can speak with absolutely honesty that I don’t give a rat’s ass about what the kids are listening to because it’s not meant for me. It’s disposable. It’s there to shade in the memories of their youth, not mine. No matter how I try to convince you of how awesome Shalamar was, there’s little that I’d be able to say to get you to actually believe me. But aren’t I allowed to tell you how “Dead Giveaway” meant something for me during the week-and-a-half that it was the best song ever? I used to love hearing my Mom and Dad talk about how “The Stroll” was a big, high school dance song where everyone got together is a group and, you guessed it, strolled.

And while I cringe and bitch whenever I hear my 7 year old sing “Billionaire,” I know that for every Beatles record in my 7 year old 45 collection, there was also “Seasons In The Sun” or “The Night Chicago Died.” Can you make the argument that those songs were better? Perhaps. But you can’t do it without coming across a bit like an old fuck.

The point I’m trying to make is that, like the album, maybe a website devoted to finding a narrative that eloquently describes the power that rock and roll music can have on a person isn’t what “the kids” are into nowadays.

I look and see a generation of headbud-wearing youth who’ve navigated the web to personally sample what they think they like without considering what others are listening to, experiencing exactly the same feelings, albeit with different chord progressions.

The difference now seems to be that when those others try to intervene with new musical avenues, the dialogue now trends a bit nasty. How dare you tell me what to listen to! Who are you to tell me when you don’t agree with my preferences?! Who the fuck made you so special that you can call yourself a critic?

I’m not, dude. I’m just a father of two kids that writes because a therapist told him to do it (he also told me to go to grad school, but who the fuck made him so special that he could call himself a therapist) and writes primarily about music because that’s where my passion lies.

Ask any “real” friend this, and they’ll confirm it. They’ll tell you that I bring up music in conversation as allowed. They’ll tell you that I can be a dick sometimes, opinionated yes, but occasionally overzealous in my hatred of Kiss, the current state of Album Oriented Rock (what’s that) and why I don’t understand why Royal Trux got so revered. They’ll tell you that I obsess over ridiculously trivial things, like the isolated John Entwhistle tracks on The Kids Are Alright, the missing Hendrix recordings on the night MLK was assassinated, or the suicide fountain drink that Joel Gion conjured up in Dig! I mean, who does this?! Don’t these kinds of freaks deserve a website, too? And don’t suggest the Steve Hoffman forums or some other web corner that caters to those who go beyond liner notes-the completists that check off catalog numbers and who read the script on vinyl record’s run-out grooves.

Glorious Noise rather fit that bill for me. I learned about it from a link a friend sent me once, the article of The Nuge-where Uncle Ted goes off on a ballsy interviewer to the point where the two are yelling at each other, with Ted growing more and more animated as the Q&A progresses.

It was awesome. I appreciated the link and the other articles the web site provided. I enjoyed the comrade that the message board had. I created a username of what was to be a musical project-Worpswede-only to watch it and my marriage crumble at the same time.

They were cordial there. One of the other founders used to use a nom-de-plum that just happened to be the name of my Father.

Clearly, it was a sign.

I emailed Jake, he replied back and cc’d Derek. They sent vague instructions, assumed I spoke HTML and asked for a few samples. They accepted some reviews, poked for some personal tales, and were genuinely cool about it all.

It was fun, but I was surprised at how little support they received. It seemed that the two of them were doing the bulk of the behind-the-scenes shit, the thankless tasks that really don’t amount to content, but site matenience.

And while they may have thought that they found someone who would be entirely self-sufficient in terms of content and making sure it was ready for publishing, they got someone different.

Imagine a man who gets the kids to bed, provides the wife with a modicum of attention and then retreats to the man cave to write some silly record review.

That was me.

I’d write until I grew tired, sacrificing sleep and sometimes sex for some silly little record review. On occasion, I’d catch a bit of grief from the old lady, but then she got a Kindle. I’d post the review only to have Jake review my sleepy words and point out what sentences didn’t make sense or what other grammatical errors I had made in my late night haze.

What a drag it must have been to clean up that shit, but I figured there was enough passion behind everything that the site professed that it made the shit-work worthwhile.

Clearly, this wasn’t the case.

I have no idea about the technical stuff that Jake was speaking of in his anniversary post, but I can tell you that when it comes down to making time for your family and having to edit content just to make it presentable, you inevitably ask “Is this worth it?”

And when you start to wonder if readers are asking the same question, then the answer becomes easier to find.

I still believe we’re out here, quasi-relevant and stubbornly adhering to the idea that our collective memory deserves to have good music behind it. I honestly believe that we can talk shit about music without having an ulterior motive (unique site hits, ad click revenue, ego, etc.) and merely writing from the same, deep emotional well that makes music so important to us to begin with.

If Glorious Noise ever does manage to come around again, I encourage any real fan of music to embrace and cherish it, because it’s a rare commodity within the stringent confines in this rapid-click world of the internet.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Boom Boom Duh! The Super Bowl 45 Halftime Show

First of all, the ads.

It’s strangely American to not only have interest in what the best in the NFL have to offer, but also Madison Avenue. Our marketing executives have us strangely walking towards Idiocracy as reality while we chuckle at silicone chicks (or G.I.L.F.s, if you found CGI Joan Rivers hot), nut shots, and trivializing the plight of Tibet, rain forests, or any other global issue that we’ve suddenly grown tired of.

It was embarrassing, and I count myself as one of those lazy misanthropes that genuinely enjoy watching the ads on the Super Bowl. But to watch them under the Roman Numerals 45 was like looking at yourself in a fun house mirror-the reality distorted enough to appear funny at first while recognizing that freaky looking dude in the mirror was really you.

I wanted to buy a German car, and I wanted to laugh at Eminem for trying to convince me to buy a car from a manufacturer that hasn’t had a decent ride since before the ’73 Oil Embargo. And I sure hope Chrysler got some funding from the City of Detroit, in what appears to be the tourism department simply giving up, pleading instead to book a trip to the Motor City to see the Salt of the Earth wax museum.

And of course, the halftime entertainment.

Note to Christina Aguilera first: it’s the National Anthem, not your American Idol audition. Little pitchy, dog, and way to fuck up the lyrics, sister. Do you want to know why you’ve been reduced to the in-and-out job of National Anthem performer? Because people are finally figuring out that you are a one trick pony. And when you can’t even memorize the lyrics to something that a third-grader can probably recite in their sleep, it doesn’t appear that you’re taking your gig or any chance at a career redemption seriously.

Of course, we knew what to expect when you first heard the words “Performing our National Anthem, Christina Aguilera!” just like we knew the halftime performance of the 45th Super Bowl would suck when it was announced that the Black Eyed Peas would be headlining.

My wife seemed a little surprised at how bad they were, and when I mentioned how lame Up With People used to be, I was met with a deer-in-the-headlights look that only reminded me of my age.

She got really feisty when Slash came on stage and helped Fergie belt out a rendition of “Sweet Child ‘O Mine” so godawful that you could easily have found a better replacement at some cover band in a Native American casino.

My boy, on the other hand, thought they were awesome. But he’s seven, and “I Gotta Feeling” is the only song he knows the lyrics too. That and Travie McCoy’s “Billionaire.” I vote that his opinion doesn’t count for anything.

“It’s like a scene from Tron!” I pointed out to my wife. Again, deer-in-the-headlights from my wife, even though I put the original Tron in our Netflix queue at least a year ago, struggling to remember why I didn’t hold on to any good memories from that movie when everyone else was saying how awesome it was in preparation for the remake.

You know what? The original Tron sucked, and by watching it again, I was in no mood to shell out a dime for the remake.

So Black Eyed Peas had some Tron cast members glowing around the stage while huge segments of their stage lighting neglected to light at all, leading me to ponder “Is that supposed to say ‘Love’ or ‘Lexus’?”

As the commercials had already shown me, you can never be too sure of product placement in this day and age.

And we’re too stupid to care anyway.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Interlude Dance

2010 was a great year for my Alma-Mater, the University of Northern Iowa. First, it was a victory against Kansas in the NCAA tournament, next it was a visit from the Dalai Lama, and finally it was the creation of The Interlude Dance.

Behold: