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The Songs of My Father [ 88 mph ]

Growing up, before I ever really got into music on my own, my ears were held captive by whatever record (and later on CD) my Dad happened to be into at the time. I was a child of the MTV generation. Not the reality show MTV garbage that kids these days know and, in some cases love, but the “let’s actually be true to our name and show music videos” MTV. I didn’t know what was or wasn’t cool, and what was or wasn’t considered quality music for a chap of my age at the time. Maybe the fact that it was Dad’s music made me uncool for liking it, but I’m talking about as far back as age 6, where my Dad was the coolest guy I knew … to quote “The Wedding Singer”, “You’re eight years old, you only know your parents.” It’s funny how you grow up thinking your Dad is the coolest guy in the world, and then you hit a certain age, and all of the sudden you want nothing to do with him … but i digress …

At one of my places of work, thanks to satellite radio, I am brought back into this world of my dad’s music. I had intentions of trying to include a song from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, but as it turns out, most of what I grew up with was 80s, either that, or the artist/band repeated … anyway, let’s see what I can come up with …


1967, The Moody Blues, “Nights in White Satin” (or as I thought at the time “Knights in White Satin”, HA!)

1967, The Moody Blues, “Tuesday Afternoon” (pretty epic, especially in the context of the entire album)


1975, Led Zeppelin, “Kashmir” (why, oh why Jimmy Page, did you let that no talent ass clown Sean “Puff Daddy ‘P. Diddy’ ‘Diddy'” Combs use the amazing riff from this song on one of his bland, unimpassioned “songs”?!?! AND, you played with him! Why?!)


Here we go …

1986, Paul Simon, “Graceland” (Paul Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, FTW!)

1986, Pink Floyd (sans Roger Waters), “Learning to Fly”

1986, The Moody Blues, “Your Wildest Dreams” (yeah, i know, more Moody Blues, he always referred to their music as “hippie music”, heh.)

1987, George Harrison, “Got My Mind Set on You”

1988, The Traveling Wilburys, “Handle with Care” (how awesome is Roy Orbison??? also, you gotta love supergroups)

Embedding is disabled, but go here to watch …


1990, Paul Simon, “The Obvious Child” (oh, Paul Simon and your Vampire Weekend inspiring Afro-pop)

1990, Eric Johnson, “Cliffs of Dover”

and because this is just way too fucking awesome to not include:

Anytime I hear any one of these songs, I am transported back to my childhood … a simpler time, where liking something your Dad liked was just fine … and I am glad that I am back to a place in life where I can say the same thing now. So, thanks, Dad, for liking good music (and for being completely oversensitive about the AC in the house, and for thinking “Predator” is the best movie ever made) … “HILARIOUS!”


the wise men, balthazar.

There are just some days where you wake up on someone’s couch, smelling of whisky, and craving an Egg McMuffin as though you could find supreme happiness buried somewhere between those stale slices of english muffin. On those days, you need an appropriate soundtrack. I propose that you give Balthazar’s ‘Applause’ album a shot.

At least, it seemed to do the trick for me today.

Apparently these guys are from Belgium. Crack as many waffle jokes as you want, once you’ve listened to tracks like ‘Fifteen Floors’ and ‘Throwing a Ball,’ you’ll have a new respect for breakfast and it’s place as the most important meal of the day.


the walking dead. [graphic content.]

Have you read The Walking Dead yet? If not, you are in for a big treat my friend. It’s a fantastic comic series written by Robert Kirkman about life after the zombie apocalypse. The main character is a police officer named Rick Grimes who gets shot in the line of duty, goes into a coma, and wakes up after the proverbial shit has hit the fan (a la 28 Days Later). It is the perfect way to introduce the series, because it’s about life after the zombie apocalypse, so using the coma technique is a clean way of allowing us to adjust to the post zombie world along with our hero.

The comic book/graphic novel medium is perfect for exploring this subject matter, because the story goes on and on, and thus it can take us so much deeper into the questions and metaphors inherent in the zombie genre.

There are tons of reasons why zombie stuff is great, but one of the more important reasons is that it is rife with metaphor at the heart of American culture. It wasn’t an accident that Romero set the sequel to Night of the Living Dead at a shopping mall.

At the moment, our culture is in the midst of this bizarre war where a huge portion of the population refuses to let go of American mythology from the 50’s. We have these ideas of what it means to be American, of what “real America” looks like, and while that ideal never existed, it is even more dangerous now because it should have died a long time ago, it’s alive and kicking even though it shouldn’t be, it is undead now. Actually, Bill Willingham used this as a tiny portion of his Fables storyline, and it was utterly brilliant, but Fables must be left for another post.

Zombies represent something terrifying because they are us. They are our fear of death, our fear of our appetites, our fear of the nagging thought in the back of our minds that we are our own worst enemy, that we will bring about our own destruction.

Yet, what are we left with on the other side of that? We play with the zombie genre, and lets say we make it to the other side of the cataclysm, doing our best to survive long term in a world overrun with a horde of the undead. Then what? Well, that’s what The Walking Dead offers a potential answer to. It’s a band of survivors trying to make life work, trying to keep their children safe, trying to fall in love and find a reason to wake up each day. If everything that we think makes up our world is taken from us, where do we go from there?

Kirkman’s writing is fantastic; tense, well paced, and constantly engaging. I almost always buy what characters are doing, how they are treating each other, etc. That’s rare.

Also, it just may be the best panel work I’ve seen. The art is all black and white, and the way Kirkman and Tony Moore, followed by Charlie Adlard, lay out the panels is perfect. It’s sparse, often with very little going on within each page, creating a great relationship between the story and the art. Also, they avoid the common pitfall of accidently giving away a big moment by placing a full panel event on the right page. What I mean is that so often I accidently learn something I don’t want to know when I turn the page, because as your turn a page you see page 35 on your right before you look back to 34 on your left. If there is this huge, full color death scene (or whatever) before my eyes as I turn the page, I can’t help but see it, so even though I haven’t read the stuff on the left, I know what happens on the next page. In The Walking Dead I am consistently impressed that they build up the big moment, and then make you turn the page to see what happened. It seems like it would be a simple, obvious thing to make work, but it is rare in my experience. They take the medium seriously, and realize what the reading experience will be like.

I really love this series. In the coming world, post Z-Day, the undead won’t be our only enemies. Other humans in the world, people in our own group of survivors, even our own sanity and grip on reality becomes tenuous and dangerous. Kirkman engages the potential for story in this realm with great attention to detail, honesty, impressive character psychologies, and gifted artistic help. You should read these! (And watch the show on AMC when it finally arrives in October).


vagrantly funny.

I have the comedic maturity of a twelve year old boy. I’m all slapstick and dick jokes.
To quote Dorothy Parker, “there, but for a typographical error, is the story of my life.”

However, sometimes I just need a dose of intelligent humor. That’s where Kate Beaton comes in.

According to my ever-reliable sources (Wikipedia, people), Beaton suffered her way through a History/Anthropology major in college. Unlike Indiana Jones, however, she decided to work at a museum and doodle when she got out. Frankly, after watching ‘Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,’ I kind of wish Jones had decided to follow that career path as well – but who am I to judge?

Anyhow, Beaton publishes her ‘Hark, a Vagrant!‘ comics online and they have quickly become one of my favorite webcomics. She cleverly mixes history and literature with humor in what is the intellectual equivalent of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
And we all know how deliciously that worked out, right?
Give a few of these a read for yourself, and you’ll see what I mean.

green lanterns, light.

Harry Knowles shared this video over on Ain’t It Cool News, and I wanted to make sure I shared it with all of you.

Maybe I don’t talk about it enough on this blog, but in my day to day life I talk quite often about how much I wish there were more curiosity and childlike wonder in the world. If we could just let go of some of our cynicism and anger and feel wonder and humility… well, I honestly believe that can change the world.

This little kid epitomizes that wonder. He is awesome. I want to be more like him.

Also, props to Ryan Reynolds for being so great in his response.

Harry said it best, so I am going to leave it to him.

“Being a little Boy can be a magnificent thing at a place like this. Yoko and I tear up telling the story of what happens in this video because THIS IS PURE. This is the best thing that can happen. Where a little boy can meet his hero and ask him that burning question that he has in his soul. That question that forces him to get up in a room of thousands, to fight his way in line, to reach the microphone and…”


band of brothers.

Break up albums are hard to do. Unless you’re in a band named the Black Keys and your name is Dan Auerbach or Patrick Carney.

Ever since I got my hands on the ‘Brothers’ album by the Black Keys, my bucket list has gone from ‘get married to Rashida Jones and make a million babies,’ to ‘get married to Rashida Jones, make a million babies, and don’t be Dan Auerbach’s ex girlfriend.’
Give this album a spin and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

We’ve all been through a hard breakup, but how many of us channeled that rage to pen the ultimate example of modern blues rock? Songs like ‘Next Girl’ and ‘Howlin’ For You’ are the type of ballads that make me want to call up all my previous girlfriends to tell them that size really DOESN’T matter, unemployment actually IS sexy, and that their opinions on mustaches are unimportant. Not only that, but it makes me really believe these things.

Now then, I need to write a million more posts before Scott writes a breakup album about me. For now, enjoy the following video. It both aroused me and entertained, all in one sitting.



As has been the case every year of my life, I did not attend Comic-Con this year. Alas, that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it from afar. Here is some of the things I’m excited about, for now… as always, in no particular order.

1. The first image of Daniel Craig in Jon Favreau’s Cowboys & Aliens


2. A new trailer for Tron Legacy


3. Mark Ruffalo is the new Hulk!

It’s still far away, and we get Captain America and Thor in 2011, but news and rumors have still been trickling out steadily for months for The Avengers. First, in terms of strictly Avengers casting news, it was Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, but then the rumors started to surface of Whedon directing, and now Ruffalo as the Hulk… Mark fucking Ruffalo! Who doesn’t love that guy? (If you say “me,” I will reach through this computer and bitch-slap you.)


4. More and more people are seeing Scott Pilgrim vs. The World… and more and more people are going ape-shit!


5. Another new trailer for Let Me In

It doesn’t suck. I still have mixed feelings, but, you know, the trailer really doesn’t suck! Plus, the great cast is going a long way in winning me over.


6. Trailer for The Goon

I know, lately everything is zombies and vampires. This isn’t anything new, it’s just more mainstream right now… especially concerning zombies. Sometimes, things are just too awesome to be kept for the fanboys and fangirls… especially concerning zombies.


7. The new poster/first full cast shot for AMC’s The Walking Dead

I’ll be writing about the Robert Kirkman graphic novel at length soon, if you haven’t read it, trust me, it’s awesome.

The cast looks great, and as Frank Darabont guides this baby to (un)life in October, I am as excited for this as I’ve ever been for the premier of any television show.


trouble with 'the.'

Last night, my wife and I were at The Capitol Hill Block Party here in Seattle. It was a great time, but that’s not the reason I’m writing this post.

I’m writing because, in more proof that you shouldn’t pretend to love a band just because you are introducing them, the Washington Congressman who introduced Yeasayer as “the greatest band coming out of New York City ” called them, The Yeasayers. Granted, this is most probably the first and only time that anyone has referred to Yeasayer as The Yeasayers, but it got me thinking about all the other bands who regularly get a ‘THE’ added to their name that shouldn’t be there.

There are bands for whom it happens all the time, like:

Pixies, Doves, Foo Fighters, Arcade Fire, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Talking Heads, Dirty Projectors, etc.

There are also bands for whom it never happens, but it would be awesome if it did, like:

Cary Brothers becomes multiple people when he becomes The Cary Brothers.

Andrew Bird changes species when he transforms into The Andrew Bird.

M. Ward sounds like part of a mental institution when you call him The M. Ward.

And if it weren’t for that pesky second ‘b,’ Derek Webb would turn into a conspiracy thriller for the fall film season when you change him into The Derek Webb.

What say you? What band annoys you the most when people add a ‘The’ that shouldn’t be there, or who has a name that changes in wonderful ways when you add a ‘The’ to the front of it?


whedon's avengers.

We all already knew that Joss Whedon was directing The Avengers, so it wasn’t much of a surprise when he confirmed the fact at SDCC. However, that doesn’t mean Whedon didn’t get me even more excited than I was previously.

The Avengers is scary. It’s a big, audacious movie that could wind up being a big, audacious crapfest. We already saw how Marvel Studios is still learning how to handle their interwoven movie universe when Iron Man 2 came out and paled in comparison to the first film, in large part because Favs was forced to jam two movies into one movie, while also gearing everything up for future continuity. Much of the interaction and character development felt forced and rushed. That is worrisome.

Yet, Joss Whedon is a man who invokes strong feelings of calm and hope for nerds everywhere. Especially when he says stuff like this, speaking of why he is excited to do The Avengers movie, “These people should not be in the same room, much less the same team. The very definition of family.” That’s right folks, Joss Whedon understands The Avengers as a ragtag group of people who shouldn’t get along or like each other, but have to bond and work together… in other words, it falls right into Whedon’s wheelhouse.

**sigh** Sometimes the universe doesn’t seem to hate me after all.