"So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
Ans so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young
A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear
And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong
And so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let's stop all the fight
A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear
And so this is Christmas
And what have we done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
Ans so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young
A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear
War is over over
If you want it
War is over
The Polyphonic Spree performing the song:
On the TV is some plastic woman with a disfigured nose telling me about "that certain part of the male body." Nothing good is on TV at 4 a.m.
I need a break. I need to get my creative juices flowing again. I've felt the itch, but lacked the inspiration. I have ideas and the desire to create, but not the time or the energy. Those two lines were contradictory...but not really.
"A weeks supply, for the cost of a postage stamp."
I'm reading amazing books, watching amazing movies and listening to amazing music. It makes my creative exploits seem futile. How can I compare to these works of art? This is what I want to do, if not with my life, then with my spare time, and I can't even fathom where their ideas come from or how anything I create can be put on the same level.
"Can a guy be too big?"
I've started playing guitar more. I'm trying to write more (this being the first attempt in a few weeks). I'm reading voraciously, watching around 3 movies per week and filling my 30 GB iPod to capacity. I like to think of it as job training.
"Things become bigger..."
I found some of my old notebooks and journals yesterday. I sat down and read them. One of them was from high school: my teen angst, Dashboard Confessional days. I was embarrassed to recognize my own hand writing. The pointless poems, aimless rants and trite themes of my writing were appalling. Everyone was out to get me. Society was out to get me. The trials and tribulations of Suburbia.
"Maybe an inch...a little more."
As much as I love college, I sometimes think that I'm wasting my time. I feel like I could do in life without being here. But now we all need that degree. Without that, you're nothing. Spend money to make money...sometimes less. I just want my writing to matter. That's the goal, the big picture: make people listen, even if they don't want to. Love it, hate it, but don't be indifferent. If readers are indifferent about my writing, I feel like I have failed.
It's 4:30 a.m. Now I can start my own home business....
So, what's new in my life? Not a whole lot, really. It's getting towards the end of my first semester of my junior year in college, and it's starting to scare me. I only have 1 1/2 more years in school before I have to go out and find a real job, earn real money, and make a real living. The scary thing is that what I want to do with my life is what I'm doing now: writing. It's the kind of profession that is hit-or-miss. I could get a job at a newspaper covering some random beat and be morbidly depressed and bored; I could get a cushy job at a newspaper and write columns or features, which would keep me interested for at least a little bit; I could try my hand at writing some novels and short stories to get published; I could write screenplays and look into making movies, which is something I have recently become interested in; I could live out my dream of becoming a professional singer/songwriter; I could do any combination of the things I've listed above.
Now you see my dilemma.
Along those lines, I've gotten a good group of people together and we've started working on a new music magazine (the same one that we tried to start last year but it crashed and burned) that will just be online for right now, but should be in print by next semester, if all works out as planned. We have a simple, blog-style, website up right now that we're working so that we can get an idea of how and what we want to write before we start printing. I'm excited about this project and the group I am working with because they all seem dedicated and excited about getting this thing off the ground. More on that to come.
Oh, Happy Thanksgiving! I know it's technically not anymore, but the sentiment is still there. As my buddy Chris would say, "Happy Genocide Day." But that's a story and a conversation for another time.
November is National Novel Writing Month. I tried to participate. Even though I haven't come close to writing the 50,000 words that they want you to write in one month, it's been a good catalyst to make me sit down and try to write some fiction. Unfortunately, most of what I wrote was based loosely around fact, and about events that have happened or that are similar to what has happened to me. But I guess that's how a lot of fiction is: based of the experiences of the writer. It ended up being seemingly unrelated flashes of different scenes in one guy's life, with very little explicit character detail and sometimes a total lack of attribution to speakers and action. I hoped that I would eventually pull it all together to make it cohesive, or just base it around some kind of non-linear narrative structure that would make sense as you got deeper into it, but so far I haven't done that yet. But it's not over yet. I'm sure I'll post some excerpts from it on here before all is said and done.
It's finally basketball season. Not that I haven't enjoyed this football season, but the last few games have put a bad taste in my mouth and I'm ready to move on. Hopefully next year, the football team will win all those close games, instead of losing them at the last minute.
Anyway, I'm about to fall asleep sitting here typing in my bed, so I'm going to leave for now. I'm going to try and do a better job of updating this thing, but, you know me, no promises.
A while back, when this music magazine was actually supposed to go somewhere, I wrote an album review for a local Chapel Hill band called Tennis and the Mennonites. (I tried to find a link for it but apparently I never put it online. Oops.) I wasn't real nice to the album, but I thought it showed a lot of promise. I was reading it today and decided to give the album another listen. It's surprising how much my music taste has changed in just the last year. The first song, which I thought was recorded terribly when I first heard it, seemed to me this time around to be an endearing lo-fi ballad. I really like the album a lot more and was able to get past the production value that bothered me the first time and get to the talent that's really there. Anyway, I feel like it's worth a listen if you have the time. The album is called Quilt Noise and you can find it on Ruckus.com.
Also, here's the long awaited (haha...) interview feature I wrote about Woody Durham. I think it's pretty well done, and I hope it's halfway tolerable for you.
By Corey Inscoe
“It’s a great time to be a Tar Heel, and it’s going to get better.”
Looking at the legendary “Voice of the Tar Heels” lounging comfortably in his chair, wearing a pink shirt and tie with a big, flashy 2001 Peach Bowl Championship ring on his right hand, you might think he felt obligated to say that.
After listening to UNC’s radio play-by-play announcer, Woody Durham, talk excitedly about Carolina football, basketball and baseball to a group of journalism students for an hour, you know that it’s from the heart. He’s not just the voice of the Tar Heels on the field; he’s the voice of every Tar Heel fan.
Durham grew up an avid sports fan in Albemarle, N.C., where he was a “165-pound pulling guard” on the high school football team, and the Friday night match-up was the highlight of the week. The whole town, it seemed, would show up to the games, packing the tiny stadium. Despite his love for playing, he knew he wasn’t “big enough or good enough to play on the next level.”
He was also a born and bred Tar Heel. After returning home from World War II, his father would take him to UNC football games. It is hard to miss the longing in his voice when he talks about those Saturday afternoons spent with his father in Chapel Hill: “When I was a little guy coming here with my dad, we used to park down on what is Navy field, where the football team practices, or we parked on the intramural fields. People parked on the sidewalks. Nobody had a problem with that.”
So it was only natural that when he graduated high school he spent his next four years at UNC-Chapel Hill earning his AB degree in radio television and motion pictures. But Durham never really thought of being the radio play-by-play guy for his alma mater. “Doing Carolina games on the radio was never on my radar. My goal was to be in television. I wanted to be the voice of ACC football and ACC basketball.”
But right now it’s hard to get him to talk about his personal life. He wants to talk football. If it were February or March, basketball would likely be the focus of the conversation, but right now he cares about first year football coach Butch Davis and this young team.
As the conversation moves to the upcoming home football game against the University of Miami, the intense and detailed research and planning that Durham does before each game becomes obvious.
“For the Miami game, we’ll go on the air at 11:00, so I’ll be in the stadium by 9 or 9:15 because I like to be in my comfort zone” noted Durham, “and if I’m late getting there, then I’m hurrying to set everything up, all my spotters boards and everything like that, and you never really feel like you’re in control: you’re out of sync.”
This is just the conclusion of a hectic seven-day work week that involves multiple radio shows, meetings with the coaches, visiting practice, and a full day spent “preparing stat cards, depth charts, everything like that.”
Maybe this is what prompts fans to “turn down the sound” on the television and listen to Durham’s radio broadcast while watching the game: “A lot of Carolina fans treat this like it’s their confession of loyalty to Carolina. I can’t tell you the number of people that come up to me and say, ‘Woody, I just want to tell you that whenever the Tar Heels are on television I turn the sound down and listen to the radio.’”
He spends more time with the players and coaches and develops a personal relationship with them over the season, giving him, and the listeners, an inside look at how the program is run and allowing him more access to the team than the television broadcasters.
“The television guys, they have no way of knowing a lot of the personal anecdotes or personal information about the players or the coaches,” said Durham. “That’s what [the fans] like to get from us.”
Durham says that he also adds that personal touch by imagining “a person driving down the road in a car by himself or herself listening to the game, and I’m doing the game for that person.”
“That person has no ability to see a TV monitor,” explained Durham. “So I ask our guys in the booth, if they’re showing a replay on the monitor, to talk about the play, but don’t tell anybody that you’re watching the play on a monitor. Talk about it as if ‘this is what I saw.’”
This method seems to be working. Former UNC basketball star Phil Ford once said that “if you listen to Woody Durham, he makes you think you’re actually seeing the game. You can see the game through the radio.”
It helps that Durham always had a natural gift for talking on the radio. “It was a comfortable feeling doing the broadcasting…during the audition, the first commercial…I immediately felt comfortable when I read it,” he said about his high school broadcasting audition. “I mean, it was so natural.”
It does not take long to understand how Durham has made his living by talking. Each question posed in the interview is met with a verbose explanation, usually full of anecdotes and spontaneous tangents. Being on the other side of the interview does not seem to bother him either. As he slouches in the chair at the front of the room, he seems perfectly comfortable talking about himself and whatever else the assembled students ask him about, even antagonizing the quieter students: “How about somebody over here? Nobody over here on this row has had a single question.”
Regardless of what question is asked, the conversation trickles back to football or basketball, and it’s easy to see why. He is as excited about the “Butch Davis era” as all the students and fans. He is looking forward to the possible upset of Miami on Saturday. He is really just a huge fan, and he was lucky enough to turn his love for Carolina athletics into a career.
Inevitably, the conversation turns to Durham’s retirement. What will he do when he is done with the radio? The answer seems too obvious.
“I want to stay in Chapel Hill. I want to go to the games. I want to second-guess the coaches, berate the officials, stuff like that. Be a fan. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to tailgate. I’d like to do that again.”
It was cute. A little forced at times, but cute.
I just got back from seeing the much anticipated (for me) Across the Universe, also known as the Beatles musical. I'll give them this much: it was a ballsy move, and they just about pulled it off. They did make me enjoy some different versions of classic Beatles songs, and that was my biggest worry. I was just waiting for them to butcher and tear apart everything I loved about Beatles' songs. And, with the exception of "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite," which was absolutely horrendous, they succeeded in putting a pleasing spin on great songs.
As for the storyline...eh. It was good, but nothing really new. It was cute. I hate to keep coming back to that word, but it's all I can think of. I put it in the same boat as Garden State: it's a beautiful movie that can make me laugh and be entertaining, but is not brilliant. It's just good, and cute.
There are some great visual elements in the movie, especially the (I guess) drug-induced scenes with crazy coloration and wacky over-sized characters and naked Asian girls painted white and dancing on water (yes, that really was a scene).
The movie did a good job of putting the music into a cultural context. It made you think about what was going on while the Beatles were recording and what may have influenced their art. It also made you think about different meanings for the songs, especially with "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" being used as a military recruitment anthem.
Where the movie lost me is with the over-emphasized references to the Beatles. Rather than just using the songs as a musical, they incorporated the Beatles into everything in the movie. Here are the character names (of the ones that I remember): Jude, Lucy, Prudence, Sadie (who was, in fact, sexy), Maxwell (who was seen with a silver hammer in one scene), Dr. Robert, Rita and Mr. Kite. There were also scenes that seemed forced, as if they decided they wanted to use the song and made sure that they got it in there somewhere, somehow. There is one scene where Prudence locks herself in a closet because she's depressed (god only knows why, she was the most underdeveloped character I have ever seen) and the rest of the characters start singing "Dear Prudence": "Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play. Dear Prudence, meet the brand new day." I was just waiting for Sgt. Pepper and Eleanor Rigby to jump out of a Yellow Submarine.
And I just have to mention that both Joe Cocker and Bono make appearances in this movie. I don't know how I noticed them since they are basically hidden behind some crazy costumes, but it was cool nonetheless.
I don't want to bash this movie too much because it was, again, cute. It's got me listening to the Beatles again, and I guess that's what they wanted in a way. But I can't help to think what the Fab Four think about this movie. I'm sure Paul couldn't give two shits, he's detached himself so much from that era it's ridiculous. George would just shake his head and look the other way. Ringo wouldn't know what to do with himself. And John...well he would hate it. If John were still around, this movie never would have happened.
I'm still trying to decide if that would be a good thing or a bad thing...
Let's see...what in the world to talk about.
Let's just say it's been an interesting week or two. I'm not going to go into detail right now, but just trust me.
I don't know if I've ever actually seen the movie Dogma all the way through before today. That may sound weird, but it's one of those movies that I always catch the end of on Comedy Central, but never actually see the whole thing. Thanks to the magic of DVR and the Encore channel, I finally watched it today. Classic movie. One of the best commentaries on modern organized religion. It doesn't wholly bash religion, just the way it's usually practiced and how it's moved away from its core beliefs. Other than that, it's just freakin' funny. Any movie with Jay and Silent Bob, Chris Rock and Alanis Morissette playing God is bound to be a classic. Although I love it, I don't think it cracks the top 10 on my list of best movies, so that is still intact.
Speaking of religious commentary, I just reread Kurt Vonnegut's best book (in my opinion), "Sirens of Titan." It's such a rich story that makes you think and has a depth that requires multiple readings. I don't want to spew about it too much and give away the story to those who haven't read it, but his explanation of the meaning of life is priceless. The characters are brilliantly crafted, especially the pitifully empty Boaz and the human-like robot Salo. It's a quick and enjoyable read and one of the best books ever written.
We beat Miami! Of course, it's not as exciting as the last second field goal win that we got a few years ago over the 'Canes, but given the youth in this team and all the uncertainty around the real talent of the players, it was great to see them put together a fairly solid game against a good school, even if Miami is having a less-than-stellar year. The first half of that game was the best football I have seen a UNC team play since I've been at school here. It may be the best I've seen period. They were tenacious, swarming and confident as they ran into the locker room with a 27 point lead. Of course, they almost pulled a classic Carolina move and gave it away in the second half (allowing Miami to score 20 unanswered points in the early part of the third quarter), but they held strong and got a strong win.
Next week they face a hard challenge against a talented South Carolina team, but, with the way they played this past weekend, I think they could give the Gamecocks a run for their money. I'm not saying to expect a UNC win (even though it would make the town of Chapel Hill go absolutely nuts), but expect a much more confident and, thus, talented team take the field this Saturday. Either way, America will always know who the real "Carolina" is.
I think that's all I've got for now, other than to comment on the fact that I started this thing as a music blog and haven't really talked about music in a while. Maybe I'll change that soon. Then of course, maybe I won't. Only time will tell...
It came out of nowhere and was a little hostile, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Mr. "anonymous" isn't as anonymous as I first thought. If there's someone really reading this in Florida then I don't know how the fuck that happened.
I guess I can always count on my friends to fuck with my mind.
On another note, doesn't it seem like cops are getting really taser-happy? I guess I can only think of three major instances where they have been used, but each time it seems to me like they were used in excess and were unnecessary. There was the UCLA library incident last year, I read in the paper today that a woman was tasered after being arrested for a bar fight, and, of course, we can't forget the incident at the John Kerry talk at the University of Florida.
I know that these weapons are meant to disable people and get them under control, but they can actually do some serious damage. I don't know if cops really understand the power those things possess. I could be off the mark, and these could all be justified uses, but it just looks a little off to me.
In an earlier post (and it may have even been on a different blog...I don't remember) I tried to list my top 10 favorite movies of all time. I struggled with the list, and knew that there were plenty of classic movies that I have yet to see. Now that I have watched more movies in my film class and have really gotten into my Netflix subscription, I think I can make a better run at my top 10.
1) The Godfather (Pts. I and II...I want to group them as the same movie. I think it works.)
2) The Graduate
3) Fight Club
4) Pulp Fiction
5) Little Miss Sunshine
6) Vanilla Sky
8) Lost in Translation
10) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
I guess that's a slightly better list. I still have a lot of movies on my Netflix queue and plenty more for my film class. If you haven't seen any of the movies on this list, watch them now.
Enough rambling for tonight. If you made that comment, at least let me know who you are, don't leave me in suspense, kiddos.
By Corey Inscoe
The Bell Tower looms perilously above me as I lie on the brick sidewalk beside Wilson Library. The ringing tells me that it is 8 a.m. It is also making my headache worse, but, unlike the rest of the student population, I don’t have the luxury of sleeping off last night’s mistakes.
You would think with all the great advances in the textile industry that a Southern college marching band would not be wearing itchy, hot and heavy wool uniforms in early September. You would be wrong.
I feel like I’m in a trance as I walk around in this stuffy uniform – people pass by me in blurs, lips flapping but not making a sound. One hour of sleep doesn’t do much good for the mind. My headache only gets worse when I see the white band truck roll into the parking lot behind the library.
That rectangular blue box that just came off the truck holds the bane of my football Saturdays. I unhook the two clasps hesitantly, hoping that the silver hunk of metal might have disappeared while I was gone. Unfortunately, it’s still there when I look down. I pull out the body and the bell and put them together, tightening the three screws that hold in the bell. I pull out the silver polish in the left compartment of the case and spread the thick blue liquid over the front of the bell, making sure I can see myself in the reflection. Too bad it will be so dirty by the time the game starts it won’t look like I cleaned it at all.
Thirty-five or 40 pounds of polished silver rests on my left shoulder. Who decided that this was a good idea? I’m starting to realize why it’s always the big guys that get chosen to play tuba.
Manning Hall is staring me in the face. I’m in some crazy line down an uneven brick sidewalk in Polk Place that stretches from the Old Well to Wilson Library. My back is tight and sore from bad sleep, but that won’t matter once the football players, coaches and spirit squad charge through our impromptu lined passageway. I’ll be slinging this big shiny instrument back and forth, and up and down throughout the fight song.
It’s like the military here. Everything is so regimented. The schedule is determined a week early and is followed to the minute. Everyone knows it; everyone lives by that single sheet of paper. It’s like one of those crazy contraptions where an alarm clock goes off and pushes a marble down a ramp that sets off a ridiculous chain of events that will eventually cook eggs and brew coffee.
I am just a small part of this powerful marble. I have no control.
I am standing in front of Dey Hall with 45 trumpet players screaming obnoxiously high notes behind me. My headache just came back with a vengeance. Why am I doing this again?
In front of Wilson Library, the mass of blue-clad musicians brings the pre-game ritual we call “Tar Heel Town” to a close by playing a beautiful chorale written and played just for us: “Blue and White.” I get that familiar chill down my spine as the sound of over 300 horns blasting the final chord bounces off those majestic steps and columns.
The drums start banging out our cadence as the band forms the parade block and winds around Wilson Library and toward the stadium. While the drums lay down the groove, I’m marching behind them, swinging my horn, kicking, dancing to the beat, and doing everything I can not to collapse from exhaustion. Students, parents and alumni cheer as we march past them, chanting and jumping around. A little girl smiles and points at my big, shiny tuba, then turns to ask her dad, “What’s that?” A young boy stares wide-eyed and open-mouthed at me hopping back and forth with this silver growth on my shoulder.
As I look at the people smiling, cheering and dancing on both sides of me, I suddenly realize why I do this. All the practicing, waking up early and excess weight on my shoulder is suddenly worth it when I see the joy that this band brings to the Tar Heel fans.
The Bell Tower looms over me once again as we turn onto Stadium Drive. This time the white face tells me it is 11:30 a.m., 30 minutes before kickoff. For most people this means that game-day at UNC-Chapel Hill is getting ready to start. For me, it’s already half over.
[Warning: profanity follows.]
After over 26 hours in a charter bus this weekend, I'm finally back in Chapel Hill. Most people would be excited to travel down to Tampa for the weekend, to get away from the "hum-drum" of their normal lives.
My professional assessment of the Florida trip: that state is fucked. You can tell when you enter the god forsaken place. Things just look and feel different. The entire state is like a massive marketing ploy gone wrong. The colorful houses, the obnoxious billboards, and the grossly rich and terribly poor just rub me the wrong way. It's become so touristy it's almost like the state has lost all other identity. The cities -- Miami, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa Bay area -- seem normal enough. But when you get to the rural parts of the state you enter a whole 'nother world.
It's like their desperately trying to catch up with the business boom of the big cities. Trying to attract the traveling tourists to their orange stands, alligator farms and even the Drag Racing Hall of Fame. The place is so obsessed with this idea of advertisement and attracting people to them that they don't seem to care about the people that are actually there. The place is run down. That's the best way to put it.
But people don't want you to see that part of Florida. That's why they put you up in $300-a-night hotels, like the one the band, football team and cheerleaders stayed in this weekend. The Grand Hyatt, Tampa: a picture perfect example of what the fuck is wrong with rich people in America. They make the unnecessary necessary. I'm not going to lie and say that I didn't enjoy the hell out of my seventh floor view of the Tampa Bay, but I was disgusted by the other things I saw, like the Armani Lounge on the top floor, or the $20 breakfast buffet (which included fruits, cereal, sausage and eggs. I thought it was a continental and free breakfast. I was wrong) that men in their neatly pressed blue sport coats and women with painted faces and flashy dresses greatly enjoyed, as if a ten dollar breakfast would not have been good enough for them.
But that's enough about materialism. Let's talk about the state of UNC football.
It's dead, as far as I'm concerned. Saturday was the worst football experience I've ever had. Our group of 40 band members sat in the corner of Raymond James Stadium (the same stadium that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play in) and watched our Heels get spanked by the University of South Florida Bulls. It was ugly. On top of that, we had drunk guys yelling at us to our left, and it started to rain during half time. We left the game wet, angry and demoralized. Welcome to the Butch Davis Era.
O.K., that was a little uncalled for. I like Butch, and it's not his fault that T.J. Yates likes to throw to the other team's defenders, or that wide-receiver Hakeem Nicks dropped more balls than a kid going through puberty. It's just that I expected more from this team, and I thought I was going to get it after watching the first two games of the season. I guess I was wrong.
I really should be working on my color feature for class ("Football Saturday in Chapel Hill"), but I'm really not in the mood right now. I have a draft and I'll just edit it and turn it in tomorrow. It's much easier for me to rant right now than it is to write coherently for my feature class.
I'll probably post the feature later this week, unless it gets raped by my professor, in which case I'll edit it and put it up later.
I'll be gone for the weekend in Tampa.
Comparing RA retreat to VT shooting is ludicrous - Letters to the Editor
Moulin Rouge is the worst high-budget blockbuster movie ever made. Before you get your panties all up in a wad, let me explain myself a little bit.
I'll start out with the only semi-positive thing I have to say about the film. It's visually groundbreaking. The colors, camera angles, use of time-lapse and slowing down the frames, as well as the many intricate cuts are almost enough to give this movie some credibility. Unfortunately, most of it seems to be trying to cover up ultimately how bad the movie is.
Why? Why them? Sure, they're recognizable names (Nicole Kidman much more so than Ewan McGregor, unless you count the shitty new Star Wars), but they lack a tiny thing that is semi-important in a musical: talent. They can't sing. Maybe better than I can, granted, but that's not saying much. The voices are so bland and flat and uninteresting. They don't even harmonize together. I'm sure they had to use more digital effects than Linkin Park to make those voices sound halfway decent. And McGregor only has one volume: LOUD. Someone should have told him that they've created this great new invention called microphones, and he doesn't have to make sure all of Paris can hear him yell "Come what may!"
A key part of a musical, I would say. Usually the score and lyrics are written into the story, blending dialog with music in this fantastic and beautiful way. Think of all the famous musicals and they all have that one classic song: Fiddler on the Roof, "If I Were a Rich Man" or "Matchmaker"; Phantom of the Opera, "Music of the Night" or "All I Ask of You"; Grease, "Summer Lovin'" or "Grease Lightning."
Moulin Rouge...uhhh....errr...that Elton John song?
Sure it's kind of cool when you take popular music and throw it into a musical setting. I get that. But when 90% of your music and almost half of your dialog is pop music, there's something wrong. They take all these classic songs by The Police, Elton John, Madonna, Whitney Houston and even Nirvana and bastardize them into this mockery of a musical. What has happened to musicals such that the writer can't even write his own music to it? People love these songs for a reason, and to hear two no-talent hacks butcher them on the big screen is almost sacreligous. I'm fairly sure that Kurt Cobain nearly came out of his casket.
Or lack thereof by the main characters. Musicals always have those big dance sequences, or at least a little jig here and there. It's part of the deal. Too bad Moulin Rouge casted four left feet for the two main characters. All that fancy camera work is partly used to distract the audience from the fact that Nicole Kidman is barely moving. When they're dancing together, the only camera angles are either right up in her face so you can't see her body, or far away from her and moving around her so it looks like she's actually doing something. The extras are the ones that can dance, and a lot of times they're used to cover up the main stars. Isn't that kind of backward?
That same tired love story you've always heard and that you can predict after five minutes of the movie. Poor man meets prostitute, falls in love with prostitute (Dave Chappelle's version of Pretty Woman, anyone?), big rich man also falls in love with prostitute and wants to take her away and kill poor man, prostitute falls for poor man, but before they can be free and crash back into reality where they will be ridiculously poor and eventually very unhappy, one of them dies...thank god.
I know there are people that love this movie and would think some of my favorite movies are terrible. I understand that movies are subjective. But please, for my sake, really look at this film and tell me what's good about it, or even what good comes out of it. Don't say it's because it's a sweet love story, but give me real reasons. Make me believe. Because right now I think director Baz Luhrmann should be thrown down a deep pit to hell.
Alright...what to talk about. Music. That would be different. Popular music is getting pretty terrible. I'm watching a Will.I.Am video right now, and it makes me want to cry because it's so bad: "If the girl is ugly then she's ugly like her mama." Repeated over, and over again. Please make it stop. I went and saw Dave Matthews Band last night. How I came about a ticket is a long and confusing story, so I'll leave it out. I've never been a big Dave fan and have never seen him live, but I was blown away last night. He's got amazing energy to his shows and the musicians are ridiculously talented. They take a jam band approach to their live shows, going on tangents off songs for about 10 minutes. On top of that, I've never seen a crowd so into a concert. These fans are loyal, crazy and not shy about showing their affection for Dave. I'll be checking him out again next year with full knowledge of his catalog (for some reason I always want to spell that word like "catalogue." Is that a British spelling?)
Kanye West's new single "Stronger" is catchy as hell. I'm a closet Kanye fan. I wish he would start making up some of his own beats, but I like how he's embraced sampling and made that his trademark. He does it well and only uses them to add familiarity to his music and bend the genre.
My favorite hip-hop/rap album right now is OutKast's Stankonia. You can't go wrong with "So Fresh, So Clean" and "Ms. Jackson." Add on top of that one of the most intense beats ever in "B.O.B." and some other sweet tracks that mix comedy and a solid groove and you've got a masterful album.
Britney Spears is terrible. I hope that she'll finally take a hint and go completely into hiding after her joke of a performance at the VMA's. I've never seen anything so pathetic. The song was already bad, but when you add her performing like a 7-year-old girl with down syndrome, you've got the worst thing to hit MTV since Carson Daly.
Vanessa Carlton has a new song out. I saw it this morning on MTV2 (the one that still actually plays music videos!), and I'm not going to lie, I'm kinda excited. Let's be honest, the girl is cute and has a solid voice. Plus she plays the piano which puts me over the top. I also like how she's basically giving a big middle finger to her old album and the situation around that. I was confused at the beginning because it started with her playing piano in the back of a truck (the basis for her "A Thousand Miles" video) but then she put the piano in the middle of the street so it could get hit by a taxi. That sealed it for me.
"Ay Bay Bay" is the worst rap song ever.
Soulja Boy ruined a perfectly good steel drum beat with his loud mumbling that he calls rapping. At least he made up a good dance though. And maybe this will start a steel drum revolution in hip-hop. One can only hope.
Alright, I think I'm done now. If you read up to this point, I'm sorry for wasting valuable minutes of your life. I'll try to do better next time.
The Time of Your Life
By Corey Inscoe
There’s a white cross perched on the eastbound lane of U.S. 64, flanked mournfully by fresh spring bouquets. Large, shaky, hand-written letters sprawl across the white cross-bar: “
He was a junior at
More than three years ago, on a crisp, sunny spring afternoon, he was out with some friends shopping for tuxedos and prom dresses. An eighteen-wheeler barreled down U.S. 64 with its right-hand turn signal blinking slowly.
“It’s alright, he’s turning. You can go.”
Kassel Smit’s lanky runner’s frame slouched comfortably in the back seat of the 1994 Plymouth Acclaim as Katherine Hart took
The truck slammed into the side of the small car, sending it spinning to the side of the road.
Two days later I was standing outside of the Brown-Wynn Funeral Home in
Each room of the dimly lit funeral home showcased items from
In the largest room there was a TV playing a slideshow with pictures of
The line finally ended in a large, bright and outdated chapel. The small wooden pews with faded pink cushions formed two rows, herding the mourners into the center aisle. They were all looking at their feet as they moved to the front of the chapel, not wanting to look at the front of the chapel, understanding that only then they would know this was real.
The 16-year-old boy lay in an open casket perched at the front of the chapel and surrounded by flowers: a barrage of colors in an otherwise dull, white room. Friends and family slid past the casket, many unable to look in without bursting into tears. As I stood beside my former classmate, my strong and composed demeanor collapsed.
The rest of the Smit family – mother, father and older brother – stood side-by-side next to the casket as hundreds of people shuffled by, offering their condolences and telling stories about Kassel. His mother watched the seemingly never ending line stretch all the way out of the chapel with cloudy eyes and a shocked look on her face.
“I can’t believe it,” she stammered. “I just can’t believe it.”
I stood in front of her, searching for something to say, but nothing came. I had known
As I walked out the door at the back of the chapel, I heard the chorus of the song play again on the overhead speakers: “It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right. I hope you have the time of your life.”-----
Better post to come soon, but probably not this weekend...it's going to be a long one!!
Happy Labor Day. For those of you that are working on it, think about the irony and piss off your boss a lot.
The Format - Dog Problems
Probably not what you were thinking of after reading this title. Understandable, but equally regrettable.
Not many people know about this small-time Arizona band. Hell, I found them on accident. I was in Myrtle Beach surrounded by those wannabe punk/emo/artsy young girls who go from staring depressingly at the floor to shrieking with joy when they're favorite boy with dyed-black hair plastered at an angle across his forehead takes the stage to croon about the last girl who dumped him because he was a whiny little...
Sorry, got carried away there for a second. I was waiting to see Motion City Soundtrack. I was contemplating slitting my own wrists as I watched two untalented "rock" bands wear matching hoodies and yell about how their rich, suburban life was so hard because daddy didn't understand them. I wanted to write the whole concert off...a $24 wasn't worth sinking into a deep pit of depression and teenage angst.
Finally, the third opening band. (Side-note: is it ever really necessary to have three opening bands?? Everybody came to see the main band. We all know that. One band to get the crowd excited. That's it. Stop the charades, already.) No long swooping hair cuts; no matching hoodies; to tight t-shirts and women's jeans. This is when I fell in love with The Format.
Their latest album, Dog Problems, is the best breakup album I have ever heard. Maybe it's just my skewed experience on the subject, but these fellas from Arizona characterize a bad breakup perfectly.
In 47 minutes, lead singer Nate Ruess pushes the listener through a carnival of bitterness, betrayal, breakup and, finally, freedom.
I could easily dissect each of the 12 songs, but instead I will split them into halves: the carnival, and the clean-up.
The first six songs (carnival) are the crescendo at the end of the relationship that finally explodes in the seventh song, "Dog Problems." This half of the album sounds like a depressing carnival, with melancholy lyrics accompanied by full horn lines and stride piano lines. Ruess sets up the personal nature of the album in the first lines of "I'm Actual": "Can we take the next hour and talk about me?"
"Dog Problems" is the climax. You could even find the point in this song where the demeanor changes from sadness to acceptance to happiness: "B is for believing you'd always be here for me/E is for everything, even when we'd see it through/ C, C is for seeing through you, you are a fake, which brings me to/A, because, because you always run away."
Gone is the carnival -- we've moved on. A solid pop-rock form carries us through the last half of this album, characterizing the balance the writer/singer has finally found after all the bullshit.
I could write so much more about this, but it's 2:33 in the a.m. and I have class in the morning. Instead, I'll leave you with some of my favorite lyrics from the album and with the hope that you will do whatever it takes to pick up this album. It's as beautiful musically as it is lyrically.
"Snails see the benefits, the beauty in every inch. Oh why, why-oh-why-oh-why, are you quick to kiss?"
"Tick-tock, you're not a clock. You're a time bomb, baby, a time bomb, baby, oh."
"I started sending you a note. Oh, how I hope that you're happy. I hear you're somewhere in the sand, and how I wish I was an ocean. Maybe then I'd get to see you again."
"Meet me in the middle. Well c'mon, let's make up a dance. And we'll agree to call it the compromise."
When I said I wouldn't blog for a while, I didn't mean a week. Ooops. I guess that stuff happens when I get set loose on the Hill. Anyhoo, a quick update: I'm moved into my sweet new apartment with a nice stereo, and all my CDs and a couple of guitars in my room. I think this may be the perfect way to live. It's great to be finally out on my own in the place I love and some of my favorite people around me.
I know I mentioned them in an earlier post, but I have really fallen in love with Arizona. Their CD Welcome Back Dear Children finally came in the mail and was in my car for four straight days. They have this great lighthearted sound that brings together all the things that I love about music: good beat, fun catchy lyrics, and perfect melodies. I can't help but compare them to Belle and Sebastian, but that doesn't mean that this album is Dear Catastrophe Waitress Pt. Deux. These guys aren't signed yet, but I think that adds to the enjoyment I get out of these guys: to know that they are doing it for the love of it, and they're doing the grunt work. Much love to the boys and the best luck that I can possibly send their way.
On another musical note, check out Pat McGee Band. I've seen them live a few times, once at an campus block party, once with Sister Hazel and once with my favorite band of all time, SK6ers. I finally got a couple of their albums from a friend who had been hoarding them for months. They're nothing ground breaking, but you have to respect the music. It's good acoustic-rock with some O.A.R. influence. Check out their stuff if you get a chance, and their live show is definitely worth the ticket.
Finally, I just finished reading my first Hunter S. Thompson book yesterday, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and was blown away. This Gonzo journalism is the most amazing stuff I've ever read. I have a feeling he will definitely be an influence on my writing, especially if I get into novel writing. I found a great quote by him towards the end of the book that I think is hilarious and oh-so-true, even though it bashes my major and future profession. He has a point that no one can argue against:
Journalism is not a profession or a trade. It is a cheap catch-all for fuckoffs and misfits--a false doorway to the backside of life, a filthy piss-ridden little hole nailed off by the building inspector, but just deep enough for a wino to curl up from the sidewalk and masturbate like a chimp in a zoo-cage.Read his books. It must happen.
That's all for now, I'm wiped after a long weekend.
Thanks to Stereogum for this little quote in their "Bigmouths Strike Again" segment. The good Sir Elton John had interesting things to say about the internet and it's effect on people and social interactions. I don't know how reasonable his hiatus idea is, but I have to say I think it'd be an interesting social experiment. I'll have to agree with the Sir here. What do you think?
The internet has stopped people from going out and being with each other, creating stuff. Instead they sit at home and make their own records, which is sometimes OK but it doesn’t bode well for long-term artistic vision. It’s just a means to an end. We’re talking about things that are going to change the world and change the way people listen to music and that’s not going to happen with people blogging on the internet. I mean, get out there — communicate. Hopefully the next movement in music will tear down the internet. Let’s get out in the streets and march and protest instead of sitting at home and blogging. I do think it would be an incredible experiment to shut down the whole internet for five years and see what sort of art is produced over that span. There’s too much technology available. I'm sure, as far as music goes, it would be much more interesting than it is today.
I promise I'm done for the night, or possibly for the weekend...we'll see.
Yesterday he blogged about the recent John Mayer/Ben Folds show in Raleigh that I decided to skip out on because I didn't want to ruin what was the magic of my first Ben Folds show in Chapel Hill this year. Anyway, his review of the show was pretty much what I would have said: Folds was great, Mayer was kinda boring. He got tons of replies saying he was crazy for saying that, asking if he was at the same show they were, and yelling at him for praising the vulgar and offensive Ben Folds.
I gave him a little comment agreeing with him, and he sent me a link to this article he wrote years ago called "Critical condition: a few thoughts on reviews." As a journalism major and aspiring music journalist, I loved this piece. People expect critics to have some kind of universal scale on which to measure music. That's not possible. Music is about experience and emotion, and can be different for each person listening to it. I'm not going to say much more, because his article says it all for me.
This is great, and makes me ridiculously happy, no matter how false it is. Much love for the sousas.
I've had quite a lot of things I wanted to blog about lately, but not enough time to do it. I've been getting new music like crazy and wanting to talk about it all, but I'm in the middle of getting packed and ready to move into my new apartment in Chapel Hill. Instead of blogging about all those bands, I'm going to compile a list of bands/artists you should know and love if you don't already. Maybe at some point after this chaotic move I'll tackle each group, but for now here's the list:
The Great Outdoors
Old Crow Medicine Show
That should get you started. Enjoy the great music!!!
No, not the state, though I've heard it's lovely there, except for the whole 100+ degree thing.
Since I've gotten my external hard drive (a lifesaver for a music junkie like me) I've been downloading a lot of new bands that I read about on blogs. It's a good way to hear new stuff, discover new bands and see what else is out there for free. Today I was doing just that when I stumbled on one of the best indie-pop-rock bands that I've heard in a while: the NYC-born/Asheville, NC-based quintet, Arizona.
Quick sidenote, I think it's interesting that Asheville is slowly becoming the NC indie music mecca. With a lack of good venues in the triangle (save the few in Chapel Hill/Carrboro) and, I guess, general lack of interest, so many good bands have passed up the Triangle on tour and opted to play in one of the many good medium-sized venues in Asheville. I wish the Triangle would get their ass in gear. I'm tired of missing great shows or traveling three hours to see them.
Anyway, Arizona weave together fragile harmonies and soft acoustic melodies to create the sound you would hear if musical fairies were dancing through a dewy meadow on a spring morning. Yeah, that metaphor was a bit out there. Suffice it to say that they're one of those bands that you find yourself smiling and bobbing your head to. If you haven't heard of them, do not be ashamed. The band is still unsigned and they're debut album and two EPs were all self-released. Hands down, they are the best unsigned band I've ever heard, and the best band that you've never heard.
I'm here to change that now.
Here's the video for a "Pant = Whisper" off their first EP The Sun and the Room.
You can check out other videos of the band and listen to some streaming tracks on their Myspace page. Do it now, it will make you a better person...ok, maybe not, but it will make me happy.
The record company is being kind of a bitch, so they won't let me embed the YouTube player, but you can watch the whole video here.
On a side note, the reason I haven't posted much in the last two days is that I picked up the most addicting game ever created. I think I can safely give that moniker to Guitar Hero II without much argument. I finally bought it (after months of thinking about it) and have been playing it almost nonstop since. Once you get the hang of it and get a few songs in, there's no stopping you. I'll have to go buy the original Guitar Hero game and also pick up the 80s edition before too long so I don't run out of songs. If you love music or guitar or just video games in general, GH II is definitely worth the investment.
Anyway, the mp3 I found was of Santa Clara Vanguard's 1989 show, "Phantom of the Opera." It is unbelievably good, and my favorite show, just ahead of the Cadets 2000 show.
So here, for your viewing pleasure, are the Santa Clara Vanguard!!
And here's that Cadets show I was talking about...wait for the drum break and the trumpet solo...It's pretty much the corps showing off.
Yes...I'm a band nerd.
On this special day, the wonderful people at CollegeHumor graced us with not one, but TWO Doug related videos. This should be a national holiday. If nothing else, it's a great early birthday present for me!!
Any Doug enthusiast should remember all the words to this classic Beets hit:
Not the best recording, but amazing nonetheless.
p.s. oh, and I must find this girl...
In my opinion, nothing, and I think that North Carolina native retro-rockers Third of Never have the same idea. I like what I've heard from the band's recently released debut, Moodring, that has heavy, guitar-driven lines and that retro, 70s rock feel that just can't be beat. It's like happy rock 'n' roll, and that's the best kind. It doesn't hurt that they've got YouTube's Super Amanda on their side.
This curvaceous San Franciscan (?) Pilates instructor has no qualms about showing some skin and seems to have taken a liking to Third of Never. She's posted multiple videos of herself dancing and working out to the band, as well as being the central figure of the band's video for "Everyday is a Lonely Night."
Via On The Beat: Drawn together by their mutual love of The Who ("Moodring" includes an aces cover of "Let My Love Open the Door"), [Amanda] Casabianca and [Third of Never's Jon] Dawson met at a Third of Never show in New Jersey.
"We met and exchanged blog addresses, and struck up a friendship from there," says Dawson. "She's really smart and funny, with a lot going on. But she knows how to get noticed. If she was on there reading Nietzsche, nobody would care."
I'd be tempted to agree with Dawson on that one. And now, for the videos.
For the rest, click here.
Finally, the drought is over.
Glassjaw Boxer is by far the most complete, tight and cohesive release from Kellogg and the boys, and a step in the right direction from their spectacular self-titled sophomore album. They keep their signature country-rock flavor that I've grown to love but take a step forward with edgier and emotional vocals. The album tells the (autobiographical?) story of a small-town band struggling to make it big in a corrupt business.
The quartet has finally hit their stride and hopefully will gain the recognition they deserve with this solid third album. If you haven't heard of these guys before, this is definitely a good album to start with, but be sure to pick up Bulletproof Heart and their self-titled second release.
Not quite the same experience as a live show.
Since I couldn't get to the concert I did the next best thing: watched live videos of them on YouTube. Here's my favorite.
In other "me" news, I just finished watching my latest Netflix arrival, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. I have to say that I'm a Robert Downey Jr. fan. Who knew that a skittish, mumbling and nervous looking guy would make such a good actor? It almost makes me want to fly out to L.A. and see what happens.
Enjoy the solid O.A.R. video and don't miss out on them when they come around like I did.
Otherwise all new info and stuff will be posted here for viewing, listening and reading pleasure.