Pocket Full Of Chump Change

The End of 2008 Chumpchange Retrospective “Get Stoked” List of Goodies part two

Picking up from where we left off a mere days ago. Of course if you missed Part One, you ought to go back and read that first. i think we’re going to keep this one simple and list a few of the best bits of tunes and Tinseltown this list. Again, everything below is simply in the order that I happened to think of it in. Lemme know what you think.

What was what in music in 2008:

A good year for pop-punk and power pop. Here’s a short list of what you should be listening to in no particular order (and there’s even handy-dandy links to band websites, er mypace sites, in blue):
Little Lungs-“Hoist Me Up Comparisons to Sleater Kinney are inevitable(and a sign of laziness on my part) but goddamn if that opening “stop-skip-stop-start” riff on “Pet Cemetary” doesn’t kick my ass every time. Easily one of the best bands at the Kickstand this past year’s Gainesville Fest.
Cheap Girls-“Find Me a Drink Home I’ve already written about these boys extensively here (hey-still clinging on to page one of Google hits-a rare win for the home team) so in brief-absolute fantastic power pop with cleverly ironic and dank lyrics. A must-own.
Get Bent-“demo cd-ep-Another band you can read about here There isn’t a single song I’ve listened to more than “Forest Ave.” this year. super fast, catchy and upbeat singalong pop punk. Best basement show of the year by far as well. By far my favorite band of the year.
Lemuria-“Get Better-All too sweet and catchy pop music with tons of bite underneath the surface. Juliana Hatfield with more punch to it.
The Serious Geniuses-You Can Steal The Riffs But You Can’t Steal The talent“-Fun indie rock with nods to Superchunk and Big Star.
The Hold Steady-“Stay Positive-Some folks like to bag on these guys for being a Springsteen derivative. I’d counter that the world would be a much better place if bands took more cues from The Boss and less from Duran Duran.
Ben Weasel & His Iron String Quartet-“These Ones Are Bitter-Proof that no one out-Screeching Weasel’s the original Weasel.
Good Luck-“In To Lake Griffy”-Guitar parts like Braid, lyrically sensibilities like Red Letter Day-era Get Up Kids. Yes please.
The Closet Fairies-“Ghetto Girls seven inch-FYP meets the Marked Men in a last man standing cage match with guitars.
Chuck Ragan-“Ole Diesel seven inch-Further proof this man does nothing half assed. Whaling on his six string while wailing out his heart through by way of his voice, the A-side was one of my most listened to tracks the latter part of this year. A better love song detailing the long road back home to your peace of my mind may not come around for a long while. There’s folks that play revival music because that’s what you do when you grow out of hardcore, and there’s folks that play it because that’s what keeps them standing upright. You can take an easy guess as to which category Mr. Ragan falls under.

One quick website note before we move on to movies:
I wrote about this site recently, but once more with feeling: If You Make It is far and away the best indie music-based site I’ve run across all year. From the stripped down acoustic acts in the long running Pink Couch series, to posted live shows, to demo mp3 albums on the site, you can’t find a better laid out, more diverse, more fun site to explore. bookmark this site immediately.

(to quote Bad Brains)At the Movies in 2008

Many sweet reasons for sweatpant wearing geeks to get their shoes stuck in spit out wads of gum and fingers oily with fake butter in 2008. Before I continue with my list, let me just state I haven’t had the chance to see “The Wrestler” nor “Let the Right One In” yet, but I’m sure I’ll love both. Also, Wall-E was extremely overrated.
Iron Man: Robert Downey Jr. was put solely on this earth to play Anthony Stark whilst mugging it up as a billionaire playboy/inventive genius. Also, imagining Jeff Bridges as “the Dude” who decided to take Lebowski the elder’s advice, accept that the bums lost and go legit and become a profit obsessed wiley corporate tycoon enhances your viewing pleasure tenfold.
Wanted: Pretty much the most ridiculous movie of the year, but if you just needed to turn of your brain, drool over fantastic action sequences and the best use of “Bullet Time” special effects since the orignal Matrix, and giggle like a titmouse every time Morgan Freeman used the phrase “Motherfucker” then you walked into the right movie. Bonus nerd points if you were more excited about Konstantin Khabensky from Night Watch having a bit part in the movie than anything onscreen involving Angelina Jolie. I hate to be the guy to make a Brandon Lee reference here, but didn’t you have your fingers crossed just a little bit during the climactic scene? No? Just me?
The Dark Knight: There’s little to nothing new I could add to the billion-word-plus that have already been heaped upon this movie lavishing justified praise from Ledger’s Joker, to the moody atmosphere, gritty, maybe kind of plausible if superheroes existed in the real world kind of crime tale David Goyer and the Nolans put together and the oft-overlook Aaron Eckhardt as the tragic Harvey Dent. Rather, let’s just hope Nolan doesn’t have a six week whiskey and grain alcohol bender leading him to the inevitable conclusion that there’s no way he can top this past effort, so the third film needs to have Bat Nipples just because.
Step Brothers-Way funnier than it had any right to be. I thought this would be another one of those films which gave away all the funny bits in the trailers. Happily, Will Ferrell and John C Reiley are over the top vulgar is this fine flick. It introduced the phrases “ballfro” and “chestpubes” into my everyday vernacular and gave the world the rap battle classic “boats and hos”. What else can you ask for?
Role Models-Paul Rudd is the snarky good looking version I see in the mirror every day. Here’s he’s teamed with Stifler plus ten years, the nerd from Superbad and a cute, foul-mouthed black kid. And there’s LARPing and boobs thrown in for good measure. This is a recipe for a good time.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall-Jason Segel reminds me way too much of my friend’s ex-boyfriend, and I’m still on the fence if this is a good thing or a bad thing. That said, you’re going to be hard pressed to find a funnier movie this year. From the pearl necklace gag, the pediatrician talk, Paul Rudd as a stoner surfer and Russell Brand as the cock rocker, this move had it all(and that’s before mentioning the brilliance of the puppet Dracula musical).On top of everything else, you have Kristen Bell in a bikini for most of the flick. without going into such details that the lovely Miss Bell ever has to worry, let me just say if we were one day in close proximity to one another, and she were to whisper in my ear, “I’ll let you touch my boobs if you push your wife down the stairs”, well, thankfully my wife has fantastic insurance.
Cloverfield-Granted, the marketing campaign was better than the final product, but despite the Dramamine cam, this is still a fun, scary Monsters smash up NY in the vein of Godzilla type of movies. And yes, there is the post 9/11 undercurrent running through out the film. When all is said and done, there may not have been a better thirty seconds of film all year than the severed Statue of Liberty head careening off cars and building in downtown NY.
Quarantine-Yes this is a near shot-for-shot remake of the spanish thriller [REC], but I didn’t get to see the original in a darkened theater on a 100′ screen. This movie scared the bejesus out of me with it’s claustrophobic atmosphere and unique sense of “oh man that little girl with a head cold is SO going to be a mindless zombie in about fifteen minutes” dread. Loved the twist near the end.
In Bruges-Beautifully filmed hitman tale that actually made me appreciate Colin Farrel AND it had a smarmy dwarf in it. Life does not get much better.

Other things to love about 2008:
-Bill Simmons mailbag columns and podcasts on ESPN.com
-Peter King’s “Monday Morning Quarterback column on si.com, once you get past the Peyton Manning ballwashing
-the Sonos wireless music system
-eMusic.com-Best site for downloading DRM-free independent music
-True Blood on HBO
-Lost Season 4-They moved the island! Holy Shit!
-Dustin Pedroia
-“Whatchoo gonna do when Obamamania runs wild on you!?”
Live Action FARSIDE cartoon reenactments on FLICKR
-The continued excellence of the DC/Vertigo comic “Fables”


January 1, 2009 Posted by | Blogroll, indie, local music, movies, music, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A new era in TV ushered in by mini-Satan? Really?

In a little under a week, the new television season is going to begin. DVR or no DVR I know my wife and I are going to be curled up on the couch for the season debut of Heroes, last season’s only new “Holy crap did you see that?” or “Dude if you spoil the episode for me I will punch you so hard in the balls your testes will pop out of your nostrils” landmark show. I’m up on the air about three or four other shows, and with the demise of the critically lauded/viewer challenged “Veronica Mars” there’s not too much on the networks that I’m too excited for.

What does have my interest piqued is the recent announcement that Ruport Murdoch is hiring top creative talent to expand MyspaceTV’s offerings. Murdoch has recently inked a deal with Marshall Herkovitz and Edward Zwick, creators of “thirtysomething and My So Called Life for an elven 8-minute myspaceTV exclusive episodes of “Quarterlife” beginning November 11. If the show is a success, the creators plan on then moving future episodes to their own site.

And yes I before you fill my mail box with hate and vitriol I am fully aware that Murdoch and  Dick Cheney play “Rock, Paper, Scissors” every Monday morning to see who gets to  glue on devil horns for the week and steal candy from little kids while letting it slip that neither Santa nor the Tooth Fairy are real. For the record, Dick always chooses Rock, though Murdoch has been slow to catch on. For the sake of argument let’s put the fact that he slathers abandoned kittens in butter and eats them whole aside for a while. Let’s think about the exciting possibilities this could open up for creator-driven “television” content.

We all have that show we feel got “screwed”. Every season passionate fans and critics rally around a program they feel isn’t getting a fair push from the network, taking extreme measures to keep the show on the air. Last season, desperate fans, sensing their beloved Veronica Mars was on the chopping block, sent CW Network head honchos so many Mars Bars that the country ran out. Sadly, especially for those that may or may not be tempted to push a small dimwitted child in front of a moving vehicle on the lovely Kristen Bell’s say-so, the gambit failed. Jericho fans were more successful in pelting CBS bureaucrats with nuts, and the show was renewed after the CSI: Des Moines pilot didn’t test quite as well as originally hoped, leaving critics, television viewers and Skeet Ulrich’s mom left to rub their chins and say, “Wait, Skeet Ulrich still has a job? In television? Really?” Fans of the brilliant Joss Whedon “Cowboys in Space” Firefly bought so many DVD’s and raised such a ruckus that Universal gave Joss a pile of many and told him to make a movie. Unfortunately, those same fans, who labelled themselves “Browncoats”, badgered so many people to see the (pretty brilliant) film Serenity that the general population, and even worse, sci-fi nuts who eat this stuff up skipped it out of spite, and back into obscurity and DVD bargain bins it went.

TV’s driven by that magic “18 to 49” demographic. If the numbers fit, you can show an hours worth of pedophiles looking uncomfortable in front of the camera. Seriously, Deal or No Deal is a huge hit! Execs don’t care about things like characters, story, human emotion or plot unless it brings in the bucks. So even a show with a moderate following of five to six million can find itself gone before it even has the chance to find its legs and building an audience. The days of letting a show develop are sadly long gone.

But what if the moderately sized fan based pooled their money together and said, “Make us our show”? The “Quarterlife” deal is about $400K per episode, and unless my math is way off, a ten episode season at forty minutes an episode would translate into two million each episode. Granted, that’s one person with an assload of money paying for it. But how hard would it be to take this concept to the masses? If Rob Thomas posted on his site that he’d create ten episodes web episodes of Veronica Mars to wrap up any lingering story lines if  two million people sent in $25 via paypal do you think people would jump on it? How much could Joss Whedon charge for more Firefly or Angel(personally I believe half of Bones audience just pretends that David Boreanez is shooting an Angel, that has covered himself in sunscreen so as to not burst into flames when walking around in daylight. It worked in Blade)? Oh, and keep in mind that this would free creators up to make a show free from all studio interference, letting their vision stay true to their own designs. Plus there wouldn’t be the hassle of extended breaks come December and early spring, which ends up costing some shows a huge chunk of their  original audience when they can’t remember when its back on, there’s be no preempting for sporting events and few to no commercials. Do you think that product placement might work with this model once you sort through the demographics of who is sending the donations? If the creator can’t raise the needed funds in a certain amount of time, then the money would either be refunded back or donated to a previously agreed upon charity. Think the Jimmy Fund would except a few hundred grand or that most people would bitch about seeing their money go towards that?

 This would be awesome for creators that have smaller, more personally involved projects that might not be right for the big screen but wouldn’t sustain itself for multiple seasons and story arcs. At this point creators are a brand name. When people tune into a Sorkin show, they know they’re getting a talkfest where every character is essentially a mouthpiece for the creator. Fans would follow Joss Whedon over a cliff. This past summer, every movie site talked about the “Judd Apatow Comedy Machine” after he continued his string of low-budget, huge box office hits with the awesome  Knocked Up and Superbad. This could work!

Don’t like to gather around the LCD screen to watch your favorite shows? Fine. There’s only a million devices like Apple TV, media centers and the Xbox 360 that will stream DVD or even HDTV quality to your living room television. Ironically enough, Murdoch’s gamble with “Quarterlife” could provide a nail in the coffin of a television medium that is constantly bombarding us with crap, and could spark a whole new revolution in how we get our entertainment media.

September 18, 2007 Posted by | arts, movies, television, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

So I Think I’m Done With Horror For While….


….or, “Man that Rob Zombie “Halloween” flick was pretty meh.

I’m not quite sure what I was expecting. The online buzz was pretty brutal ever since the script leaked a while back, and Friday’s edition of the Globe’s Arts and Entertainment section proclaimed that the “movie was not filmed for critics and would be reviewed in Saturday’s paper. Never a good sign.

 Still, I loved the Devil’s Rejects. It wasn’t so much a horror movie as it was a revenge fantasy spattere dwith over the top quoteable dialouge and hysterically cartoonish carachters and gore. And John Carpenter’s original Halloween remains one of two perfect horror films, alongside the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

So like a glutton for punishment I convinced my sister, neckbrace and all, to come with me opening night. And for the first half hour, you get a pretty sweet flick. I’m not going to go into a full on review here, but I did like the first 3o minutes with young Mikey laying waste to his family that fateful Halloween night. There were some genuinely creepy, knot-in-the-stomach moments, such as a serene Michael Myers calmly chewing on candy corn at the kitchen table before sighing to himself, pulling down his mask and nonchalantly opening the kitchen junk drawer to snag some duct tape and kitchen knife. In fact, aside from the unintentionally hilarious use Nazareth’s “Love Hurts” juxtapozing scenes of young Michael forlornly sitting on his front steps with no one to take him trick or treating while his mother, Sherri Moon, gytrates for truckers at the strip bar and the hippy-dippy turtle necked Malcom Mcdowell as Dr. Loomis, nearly everything up to the point that young Michael is carted off to the asylum works. If this was a short film I’d give it a solid A-

 But it’s not a short film. It devolves into a crapfest soon after. Zombie decides to take everything that was fantastic and groundbreaking about Carpenter’s original work and launch it about a mile off screen like it was launched from a potato gun. The suspense that kept you on the edge of your seat whenever Michael Myers  would pop onto screen  for a few seconds then be gone beofre you could blink an eye, the simple acceptance that he was just evil incarnate, and the fiesty, wholesome survivor that was Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode have been jettisoned for bleak, depressing death, rote one-note characters who exhibit your typical horror movie poor decision making and Zombie’s patented “I’ll show you for not letting me remake the Chainsaw” tribute. On the plus side there is a lot of boobs in this movie. Oh,  and boobs. Lots of boobs. So much so that the first word that comes up on IMDB.com’s “plot keywords” section is “topless”.

 Two quick notes: The kill scenes in this film aren’t fun at all. I don’t know if Zombie is making some sort of commentary on the folks that plop down $10 to see on screen carnage or if he secretly has a snuff film fetish, but every death in his Halloween is hyper realistic, brutal and not for the squeamish. In the first kill, a young junior high bully is beaten to death with a tree limb, rolling aroundin the dirt screaming until he can only whimper, cowering and covering himself until he cannot move his limbs, and finally, pleading for his life until he can no longer speak, move or feel. The camera takes his own P.O.V. for his last moments, as the tree limbs seemingly close in around him and all fades to black. It’s too brutal. Part of the fun of a good slasher film, is the over the top kills. The kind that make you scream and shriek and cover your eyes, but also make you laugh due to their over the top absurdity. There’s none of that in this film.

Finally, let’s briefly talk about Scout Taylor-Compton as Laurie Strode. I’m sure she’s a good kid and I’m sure she has a nice, long profitable career ahead of her in Disney films, but man her character is plain awful in this film. Jamie Lee Curtis made her Laurie, tough and innocent and root-for-able. Even early on in the film, when she spots a hulking Myers lurking her, she’s the only one that seems to have the sense to point him out and ask if he doesn’t seem out of place and maybe they sohuld report him or at the very least stay away. Zombie’s Laurie runs right up to him to taunt him. We rooted for Jamie Lee to get away because she made sense and made good snap decisions while thinking on her feet. Plus, you felt like you knew her. The updated Laurie is just Anygirl from Anytown, USA and as a result she’s about a million times less interesting. . Let’s not get too deep into the logic of running up a flight of steps into the dead end of an attic, rather than booking down stairs screaming bloody murder and tearing ass down the street and out the front door when you have a chance to get away. And please, please, please never ever ape the brilliant end of the original TCM ever again. It’s just cheap.

 You know what, the less said about Malcom McDowell as Dr. Loomis the better. Truly awful.

Despite all that, this opened up to record breaking Labor Day box office numbers and will be over fifty million at the box office by the time this is posted. It’s because as an audience, we’re demanding next to nothing out of the genre and the studios are give us exactly that in return. Another franchise devoid of any creativity, common sense, chills and compelling reason to watch is the Saw franchise. These films exist for no other reason except to as fast as humanly possible churn out assembly line quality gore and print greenbacks. A sad state of affairs it is then when the trainer for the upcoming Saw IV debuts to the tagline “If it’s Halloween it must be Saw” and a theater full of yahoos cheer their heads off. A sad sign of the times indeed.

September 13, 2007 Posted by | arts, horror, movies | Leave a comment