Pocket Full Of Chump Change

Thing’s I’m Excited About That’ll Probably Get Cancelled: Joss Whedon’s “Dollhouse”

Joss Whedonprobably doesn’t need an introduction from a website with less traffic than a highway in Antarctica. He is personally responsible for three of my favorite television projects: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it’s (eventually superior)spin-off Angel and the gone-too-quickly western in space Firefly. He’s written critically acclaimed and best selling comic book arcs for Runaways and the X-Men. He’s got an absolute amazing gift  for creating snappy dialogue. He’s the geek’s Geek.

So it brought me pure nerdy geeked up joy to recently read that Jossis headed back to TV. Even better, he’s reuniting with Buffy-alum Eliza Dushku (who I could spent a whole other post gushing over. Man she’s gorgeous, and she’s a local, born and bred in Watertown, MA. If she told me she’d make out with me if I tossed a bag full of kittens into the Merrimack River, sayanora kitties! I’d lay even odds that she pees Nestle Quik). Here’s what Variety has to say about the upcoming project:

Joss Whedon is heading back to TV– along with his “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel” ingenue, Eliza Dushku. Dushku will star in the Whedon-penned series “Dollhouse,” which has been given a seven-episode order by Fox. News came as an extra-big Halloween treat for Whedon fans, considered some of the most passionate in all of TV.Produced by 20th Century Fox TV — the studio also behind “Buffy,” “Angel” and Whedon’s late, lamented “Firefly” — “Dollhouse” follows a top-secret world of people programmed with different personalities, abilities and memories depending on their mission. After each assignment — which can be physical, romantic or even illegal — the characters have their memories wiped clean, and are sent back to a lab (dubbed the “Dollhouse”). Show centers on Dushku’s character, Echo, as she slowly begins to develop some self-awareness, which impacts her missions.

So I’m on board. the premise sounds fantastic, I love the creator and I’d steal from my grandmother if the lead actress needed a few bucks for a coffee. Still, there’s a little tingle of dread in the back of my mind that comes with “This fall on Fox Television…” These guys don’t have the best track record for letting shows find an audience. I think I’ve seen a couple of their comedies cancelled during the premier episode’s commercial break.

  • Fox Playoff Baseball Ads.I can easily foresee a scenario where “Dollhouse” ads are run back to back with year two of another round of those insufferable Dane Cook ads. Has an ad campaign ever caused more people to run screaming to the kitchen junk drawer in order to pull out a rusty screwdriver and gouge out both their eyes and eardrums. I’ve always suspected Dane Cook to be a no talent hack simply stealing pages from the “Hey if I yell this punchline REALLY LOUDLY it MUST be funny” playbook and these ads did nothing to dissuade me of this belief. I’d say the odds are pretty strong Fox will air Dollhouse series premiere teasers just after these ads but millions of people will be unable to see nor hear them due to the white hot rage spots that temporarily blind them while they shout an near-unending stream of profanities at their monitors. If there were a scenario where I only received two stations, and one of them was showing whatever show the Fox network was promoting immediately after one of those “October” Dane Cook ads, and the other station only showed one program, and that program was called “Graphic Home Videos of Mike Chuumpchange’s parents engaged in hardcore fucking”, I would opt for watching mom take one in the browneye every single time. If you take nothing else from this whole post, remember this: you can never go wrong by saying: “Fuck Dane Cook”.
  • Fox executives tell Whedon: “We really love this show, but we think the pilot episode works better in the sixth week. Let’s kick things of with the middle episode of a three part arc and then show the cliffhanger finale for that episode in week four.
  • “Dollhouse” loses the ‘Paper, Scissor, Rock’ challenge to see which show needs to get bumped in order to make room for “the television debut of  “How Many Eight Year Olds Can Your Dad Beat Up.” This show will be hosted by a not quite ready to quit the rehab clinic yet David Hasslehoff who in week three will toss off bon mots like “Well I know this guy can take down at least ONE eight year old” when introducing the contestant and his horror-stricken family. This show will go on to achieve a record breaking two decade run atop the ratings. (Hey if you think that’s insensitive, my original idea was for “Special Olympics Idol”. You KNOW some network executive has thought about pitching that at least once a sweeps season. )
  • The “Browncoats”: Okay, listen, I’m the first to admit that fandom can be a strange and wonderful thing. Still, Joss Whedon fans can go to, um, extremes when it comes to preaching the Word of Whedon. I’ve met at least one fan who claims that repeated viewings of the (admittedly brilliant) Buffy musical episode “Once More With Feeling” cured his cancer. The problem is we Joss fans sometimes don’t understand that no matter how many times we try to staple Firefly box sets into non-believers hands, we just aren’t going to win them all. I believe PART of the reason Serenity wasn’t the number one smash hit it deserved to be (I paid to see this movie six times in the theater) was the “Browncoats”-the fandom version of your Man U. hooligan-flooded website after website and messageboard after messageboard with the message that if you weren’t at the front of the line for Serenity opening night the ressurected soul of Goebbels would make its way to your home and execute you. It didn’t matter if some one was posting about their favorite variation of PB&J on a messageboard about school lunches, they were going to get 70 threads about Reavers and Captain Tightpants. Eventually this bombardment caused a lot of the core audience of SciFi geeks to pull up their stakes, cross their arms and short of getting a handie in the theater from a potential contestant on MILF Island (yea 30 Rock!) they’d REFUSE to see Serenity on moral grounds. 
  • George Bush says, “I’ve been saying Constitution-schmonstitution for seven and a half years anyways, so what’s one more thing?” He decides to call off the presidential elections, declare himself Emperor for Life, invades Iran, North Korea and every IHOP on the Eastern Seaboard all at once, then declares the Sun an enemy of freedom that must be premptively destroyed. FOX preempts all primetime shows to bring round the clock coverage and ballwashing of “the Emperor’s bold new vision”.

So while on the one hand I remain stoked to the millionth degree to get more Joss O’vision, I’ve been hurt before Fox (still no Andy Richter Controls the Universe on DVD but I can watch every episode of Murder She Wrote on Netflix Watch Now? What kind of world do we live in?) I’m hitching up my skirt and ducking out at the first sign of trouble.


April 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do Not Miss This Tuesday’s “Laugh Track”

I don’t really know what else I can say. Just look at the lineup in that flyer. That’s seven of the best area standups for a measly five bucks. Matt and Rob have been holding the Laugh Track on the first Tuesday of the month going on half a year now, and the night has always been a great blend of new standups (thanks guys, your blowjobs are forthcoming by the way) and local guys on the verge of earning national attention. I can’t think of anywhere else where you’re going to get guys that have been on Conan, the Tonight Show and Comedy Central for a measly five clams. The word is out and this night is packing the place in every month. This month they booked all local headliners in order to give you the best bang for your April Fool’s buck.

So go, get drunk and piss your jeans with laughter.

March 30, 2008 Posted by | boston, comedy, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Please check out this band: “Get Bent”

My good friend Nip sent me a private message with nothing more than these words:www.myspace.com/getbentsonI’m now passing those words on to you. Go and check out this band. Immediately. I must be on my twelfth straight listen to “Forrest Ave.” the first of two songs posted on their site. I’m sending Nip messages letting him know i’ll drive us down to any weekend show they have coming up in NYC.

This is catch-as-catch can upbeat pop-punk that reminds of so much of the stuf I listened to in my mid-twenties, but at the same time I say with any real certainty of who they remind me of. I’m in love with the “rat-a-tat” guitars after the chorus, and the drum fills. If you put a gun to my head I’d say Get Bent most reminds me of John Brown Battery, especially the trade of vocals (though these are much cleaner/better) and the quieter guitar parts leading back into straight forward three chord bliss. In an increasingly bleak musical environment where every new band is seemingly some fey little twee shoegazing outfit looking to add more mellatron, it warms my nuts to listen to some unabashedly upbeat pop-punk.

You can order the five song CD demo for a whopping $2. For fuck’s sake you can’t even by a large coffee that cheaply. Order the goddamned CD. 

March 20, 2008 Posted by | get bent, indie, music, punk | , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Dead Mechanical “Medium Noise”

Bands get tagged with the “Sounds like…” curse all the time, sometimes unfairly. You have to wonder how many great bands never made it passed playing their friends’ basements for beer and heejs simply because the world collectively agreed that it didn’t need another “cross between Sonic Youth, ‘Repeater’-era Fugazi and Alkaline Trio. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying originality is a bad thing. Just keep in mind that we’re not exactly reinventing the wheel with guitars and drums, and sometimes that “fresh new sound” comes across more like a hot steaming pile of musical garbage created to keep small toddlers amused (Hi, Vampire Weekend. We’re looking right at you).
So where does that leave Baltimore’s Dead Mechanical? I’ll say this: “Medium Noise” has been one of my favorite listens during these past few months.   Does it break new ground? Hell no. What it does do is merge early 90’s Gilman Street punk with east coast cynicism. The best songs mimic the Jawbreaker formula to a “T”: chunky guitars with buzzsaw riffs, and open-letter-to-a-near-girlfriend lyrics about how she did you wrong. The Best of the bunch, “One Act Play” pays homage to “Jawbreaker’s “Condition Oakland” with a breakup message left on an machine answering playing over a breakdown. “I’ll bet you’ll never know what its like …creating new regrets to keep close to you at night”.
Other highlights: The speed- rant of Dear Marketing Department (“The committee to ruin everything isn’t taking cigarette breaks/They’re eating lunch at their desks these days”), with its message that for some of us, it’s always just going to shit is brilliant as is the closer, “Shitty Wedding”. The latter is a a partly gutbustingly funny, partly kinda heartbreaking rumination of a friends wedding and the sad realization that sometimes moving forward in life means leaving a big part of yourself behind.

February 28, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Oh, hey, where’ve I been?

Chuck Ragan (ex-Hot Water Music, though if you’re reading this blog, ‘duh’

Chuck Ragan, live @ The Middle East

So, the four regular readers of this site may have noticed a prolonged absence for the past few months. Sorry about that. There’s no real reason except that my full time job hit its busy season post-Thanksgiving (and we’re not even retail!), I’m back in school and bit off a bit more than I can chew with two intensive writing courses, my wife’s having a tough go with her job so SupportiveHusband man has his duties, and on top of that I just started doing stand-up comedy and some event planning. Something had to give, and that thing I had to leave behind for awhile was the site and the podcast. I don’t think anyone wanted to read a few dozen “Today I ate a burrito, and put together a few training modules for my staff. Also, whenever Ice is onscreen during the new ‘American Gladiators’, it moves just a tiny bit, and I’m not entirely comfortable with myself at this moment.  That said, I think we’re back up to speed, and this site should be updated on a much more consistent basis. The standup has gone pretty well so far. People laugh at all the right moments, no one’s pelted me with rotten fruit, and my bit about spinning of a new show from “To Catch A Predator” featuring pedophiles  luring kids off playgrounds and into the trunks of ’89 honda Accords is going GANGBUSTERS! Much appreciation goes to Matt and Rob of the Laugh Track for giving me three straight months of shows. By the way, there is no better way to spend $5 the first Tuesday of the month. Word of mouth is catching on, and every show is attracting a higher level of comedian and larger turnout. Hopefully we’ll be sitting down with these two guys soon for a podcast. So, hopefully PFCC is back for good. There was the thought of changing this to “Minimum Rock & Roll”, but Chump Change has been the brand name, so to speak, for over a decade. Why change what kinda sorta works? Look for some new podcasts, reviews of Dead Mechanical’s, Cloak/Dagger’s, Lemuria’s and Ben Weasel’s latest works in the coming weeks, along with a post-Chilifest wrapup and hopefuly some exciting(!) news on events I’ve got lined up.And hey, if you missed me, drop me a welcome back comment so I know you care.

February 17, 2008 Posted by | Blogroll, boston, comedy, indie, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nice article on the rebirth of true soul music and Eli Reed in today’s Boston Herald

Eli Reed performing at last years NEST showcase
Friday’s edition of the Boston Herald had a pretty sweet article on the rebirth of classic Stax-inspired soul music that is starting to get a foothold in clubs and on the airwaves. The article stated Brookline’s Eli “Paperboy” Reed may be “the best of the up-and-comers”. It also listed his heartbreaking soul ballad “It’s Easier” as a must have track for any soul lovers collection. you can download that song on eMusic.com.

For the complete article click here.

Eli will be spinning the blues and soul that moves him as he insires you to move on the dance floor when he DJ’s next Saturday night, November 17th at ZuZu’s in Cambridge.

November 10, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Holy Crapola! The Standup Comedy Debut of Mike Chumpchange!

Remember when you were growing up and your mom and dad got divorced because “sometimes mommies and daddies fall out of love with one another. But we promise this has nothing to do with you” but deep down you knew and they knew what an awful kid you were and how it really WAS all your fault? Then you never saw Dad even on court appointed weekends becuase he was out “whoring it up” with the younger fake breasted secretary(which Dad paid for even though all your school pants had holes in the butt) he traded mom in for and the child support checks were always either a few bucks short or a few weeks late if they even came at all so your mom had a lot of new “uncles” that slept over and left crumpled ten dollar bills on her night stand? I promise to be AT LEAST as funny as those times.

November 4, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Gainesville Fest Part Two

The last day of the Gainesville fest was a lot more laid back and subdued, at least for me (no booze). My feet and knees were killing, and there’s only so many smell fat dudes with beards you can be around (feel free to insert a picture of a bot and a kettle here). After catching a fun and bouncy set from Armalite (Atom from..”and his Package, the omnipresent Dan Yemin and the Mike McKeen of amateur Party who suffers from a hysterical inferiority complex) I went with Joan to the 2nd St Bakery for some acoustic sets. This was the only club not near any of the others and was the encampment of the crusty kids. There’s nothing like a jackass in an ongoing war with hygene that let’s his dog run around with traffic to piss you off. Please some one tell these jackasses that pets aren;t an accessory to a lifestyle.

Mike Hale sang and played guitar for one of my all-time favorite No Idea bands (Gunmoll) and his current outfit (In the Red) sounds just like them. I was bummed I missed the ITR show during day one of the fest, but did manage to catch his solo act. It wasn’t bad, and “Leatherface Fan” is a near perfect tune, but I wish I could’ve caught a plugged in, full-on band set from this dude, rather than the laid back, everybody sitting down stripped bare acoustic set. Also, there was a terrifying woman who kept scream “I love you” over and over while alternately playing air drums and conducting a symphony with her hands. If you ever read that pieces of Mike Hale were found in the back of an ’89 Le Baron, you have your top suspect.  Lost Hands/Found Fingers straddled the line between post hardcore crunchy guitar driven beard rock and doomish metal riffs. Very enjoyable.

My friends and I watched The Draft and Less Than Jake from the bar and couch area. As much as I loved HWM, I’m not sold on the follow up band at all. They sound too much like a band whose sole songwriting purpose is to come up with the theme music for a breakout teen  show on the CW. Awesome musicians, but no spark. LTJ played a fun set for kids that absolutely flipped out for them. Not really my thing, but there’s way worse bands to kill an hour watching. To be honest, most of our section was watching the Patriot annihilate the Redskins 52-7, and we were high fiving each other like the Yah Dudes we deep down really are.



Small Brown Bike was the highlight of the fest for me. Getting back together for a short time in order to help a leukemia-stricken childhood friend pay for medical bills, the foursome from Michigan didn’t show any rust. From the moment my friend Joan emailed me to let me know the Bike was playing fest I had a ticket booked. Crushed up to the front of the stage, I spent the better part of an hour yelling myself hoarse to every song. Playing in near cronilogical order, SBB kicked it off with “The Cannons and Tanks” and continued on with “Curiousity Killed the Cat and I’m the Killed” “Zerosum”, “See You In Hell” among others. So many of their songs are about the tight knot bonds of family and long time friendships and what happens when those bonds are threatened or severed. They’ve always played with a sense of urgency and passion, with sweat andstrained vocals. Bassist Ben Reed paced the stage in frentic circles, head bowed, muscles tensed whenever there was a break in his parts, and it was palpable how much he wanted to just get to the next part. Guitarist Travis, a mountain of a man, eschewed the microphone for most of his backup vocals, choosing to lean over the edge of the stage and glare out at the audience as he screamed his head off, daring the crowd to exceed his volume. Every SBB release had a killer closing cut, and for the sets end, the boys played three closing numbers: “Bury You In Me”, with its amazing duel guitar intro and monster riff changes, “Table Four Four” with ultra passionate backup vocals and churning ending, and finally, their signature song, “Make This A Holiday” A perfect end to a fucking great weekend.

November 3, 2007 Posted by | arts, Fest, indie, music, punk, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Gainesville Fest 2007 Review of Saturday’s shows

Nip and I locked in the dreaded “Velcro beard”

Ok, so I think I’m finally rested and recovered after a long weekend of red eye flights, no sleep, deafening music, alchol and the Red Sox clinching the World Series. Fest 6 was a blast, and I think this event is going to go down as a yearly event.

I missed the first day, even despite my best efforts to barrell down Rte 95S to catch Paint It Black play a two am house show. The consolation price was a steak and rice burrito from Taco Bell and a case of the squirtz.

On to the shows.


Boston’s Ringers (above) played their catchy as all hell singalong punk to a packed and frenzied room at the Common Ground. It was a bit ironic that I flew 5 hours and spent $500 between flight, room and ticket to see a band I can catch for $2 in an Allston basement but what can you do?


The Conniption Fits (above) played spastic, adrenilne fueled early eighties punk rawk, punctuated by the rare three members of a band being mustachioed.Tons of energy from the vocalist, and I generally feared the dude was going to split his head open ashe tumbled off monitors face first and got into handicapped wrestling matches with audience members. Vagina Sore Jr. won Best Band Name and I dug the two songs of shouty pop punk I managed to catch. The Monikers sound like a louder more abbrassive Ted Leo and they were having a blastas froends pelted them with cups and beer.

Bostons Witches With Dicks put on an amazing set. Kids were diving from the first note, jumping off the stage, the railings, even the ice cart, which ended up getting thrown around the crowd. Their set culminated with a smoke bomb going off on stage. Good times.

A bunnch of us old timers ended up catching the Fat Wreck showcase at the very back of a massise venue, named, appropriately, The Venue. It was weird seeing Smoke or Fire playing in front of so many pumped up people, especially after seeing them play for fifty  pumped up kids at the Art Space so many Saturday nights all those years ago. The Lawrence Arms were great, and even tossed in two of my favorite Broadways tunes (15 Minutes and The Kitchen Floor). It was definitely odd seeing Avail and D4 a) in such an unintimate environment b) playing songs that are all five to fifteen years old c)from so far in the back. Great sets by both bands though. Patty from D4 filled a fifteen minute gap when a guitar amp went on the fritz with some of the funniest goddamn stage banter I’ve ever heard. Patty knows how to hold court over a crowd.  

 The other highlight of the first day was the sandwich I had at some little cafe. Containing cream cheese, plantains and pickles on a grilled bread, this was one of the best things I’ve ever put in my mouth, and as a fat kid, you know I’ve put way too many things in my piehole. Below is a picture of some punks and firefighters enjoying a tasty snack break together at this cafe:

Other highlights from the first day include stomping from the venue back to the Side bar with a dozen other Bostonites chanting “Let’s Go Red Sox!” on our way to watch Game 3 with a bunch of other out of towners. While the next group of bands set up we whooped, we slapped hi fives, we drank too much cheap PBR and Sparks and watched the Sox go up three-zip. In between pitches the New Bruises and Dear Landlord sandwiched kickass sets between a pretty meh outing from England’s Four Letter Word. After that we tried hitting up the Paint it Black/Savage Brewtality show at the Common Ground, but the line was around the block as the world’s ugliest group of crusted stunk up the joint for Municipal Waste. I should point out the one negative of the Fest: Most of the venues were zero problems, but the guys at Common Ground sucked. For whatever reason they were’t allowing bags in (though this rule was followed pretty haphazardly as both times I was inside, at least two dozen people were milling about with bags. I swear to God one person was roaming around with a shopping cart. I ended up cramming a camera, my keys, my ipod and my wallet into every available pocket. Also, why have one person card AND give out the bracelets, especially when everything was on a tight schedule, bands only played 20 minute sets and the lines were too long to get in to begin with. If you were trying to catch someone at the Common Ground there was a pretty good shot you went home disappointed.

That’s it for today. i’ll review Sunday tommorow. Check out the picks at the flicker site though.

October 31, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Photos From Gainesville Fest Now Online

Travis from Small Brown Bike

the review should be up in another 48 hours, along with some individual shots, but if you want to check out a 125 or so photos from the past weekends’ Fest 6 in Gainesville, Fla, head over to my Flicker account.

Link To Pocket Full of Chump Change’s Flickr Account

October 30, 2007 Posted by | arts, Fest, photos | , , , , | Leave a comment