Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Next We Teach Sufjan Some Suffjering

People, after several failed attempts to come around to her vocal stylings on "The Milk-Eyed Mender," and having now been confronted with a new album full of extremely long songs, I've come to the conclusion that Joanna Newsom simply must be destroyed (Not literally of course. I mean "destroyed" in the "kindly asked to stop" sense, not in the "Get ready to have your Keebler house blown up" sense").

Dead Elf by Joe Cassen

Martian: “What’s soft, and round, and you put it on a stick, and you roast it in the fire?”
Tom Servo: An elf?
Martian: “Oh! And it’s green!”
Tom Servo: Oh! A dead elf!
- from "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians," Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode 321.

Unfortunately I fear we've already allowed this problem to fester for too long and now it's nearly beyond our power to stop it. How many more hipsters and pointy ear fetishists are we going to lose to this whimsical scourge? I mean take a look at what we're up against:

I'm not sure how that last one got in there, but you get the point. I think Mario Savio summed up our current situation best:

"There's a time when the operation of Pitchfork becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part, you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the computers and upon the iPods, upon the harps, upon all the harpsichords, and you've got to make it stop! And you've got to indicate to the people who go to her shows, to the people who download her songs, that unless you're free, that affected little woodland creature voice will be prevented from warbling at all!"


I haven't quite figured that out yet but I have come up with a few preliminary ideas:

- Distribute flyers at your next local Renaissance Faire and/or Tolkien convention warning patrons about the dangers posed by burgeoning "freak folk" scenes; Hope some sort of weird turf war breaks out.
- Blare the new Jay Reatard album loudly and as often as possible.
- Hmmm, I don't know, I guess the harp isn't so bad. Maybe I should just keep listening. I'm also not opposed to long song suites in gener-AAAAAAH! GAH! NO! MUST KEEP FIGHTING!!! SAVE YOURSELVES BEFORE IT'S TOOOO LAAAATTE!!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Robert Altman RIP

Wow, awful news. Inexplicably, the headline on Yahoo's homepage reads "'The Player' director Robert Altman dies at 81" (was it that big a hit?), although apparently someone on CNN has already erroneously ID'd him as "the creator of the series M*A*S*H." C'mon, cable news, hire some film geeks for the anchor chairs already. I also see someone has uploaded his apparently quite odd film w/ Bud Cort, Brewster McCloud , on YouTube, so guess what I'll be squinting at on my computer tonight before it's taken down?

Among his huge filmography (of which I've seen only a portion - about a dozen or so) there'll inevitably be disagreements as to which are the classics, which are just ok and which are disasters, but McCabe & Mrs. Miller, the Long Goodbye, 3 Women, California Split, Short Cuts, Nashville, Gosford Park and Secret Honor are all great and worth anyone's time, to say the very least. And I'm sure Paul Thomas Anderson will continue to completely bite his stylee for years to come.

And if you're looking for another image to remember him by from his later years, here he is pawing at Lindsay Lohan on the set of Prairie Home Companion:

UPDATE: Well, I watched Brewster. Yeah, it's basically dopey and they don't even try for coherence but it's free-spirited in a way you just don't see much in film anymore. It's definitely Altman in full-on eccentric (and high) mode and has plenty of enjoyable scenes. Maybe the timing has a lot to do with it but I can't help but like it.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Lousy Celebrity Makes Record

Hearing exceprts of formerly "underground" rock music in commercials doesn't phase me much anymore, but I'm still trying to wrap my head around this Mitsubishi ad that uses "Blindness" by the Fall. I can see how they thought the song's vicious riff would make a cool soundtrack, but the fact that they kept Mark E. Smith's typically garbled "I was walking down the street..." vocal at the end must mean there's an ad writer at Mitsubishi with one sly, snarky sense of humour.

Anyway, here's the Fall performing a shortened version of that song on Later w/ Jools Holland late last year. I'm guessing they were booked, in part at least, to maintain the band's media visibility for a while longer in honour of John Peel, rather than because of Mark's sparkling stage presence and personal demeanor. Don't be alarmed by the 15 seconds of Robert Plant at the beginning of the clip, he has nothing to do with what follows. Plus you'll get to check out Mark's disproprionately hot current wife on keyboards.

Also, here's their other performance from that episode: a medley of "Pacifying Joint" and the Move's "I Can Hear the Grass Grow." And just for the hell of it, check out their national tv debut - booked and introduced by Peel - from 1983, doing "Smile" and "2X4," complete with dutiful professional dancers (unfortunately the video cuts out early).

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Ubsolutely Fuscinating

Lately I've been catching up with some of the Sci-Fi Channel episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 that I've never seen before, both on dvd and on YouTube, where you can find lots of episodes broken up into ten parts (my willingness to spend all my free time watching lengthy, low-res clips on computer screens knows no bounds). I didn't have Sci-Fi on cable when they aired and I was never in a hurry to catch up with this era, I think mainly because I'm intrinsically opposed to the Pearl character that replaced Forrester and TV's Frank. However, the last few seasons did contain some of the series' most entertainingly ghastly movies and they were often on fire with the quips in the theater as well, so I can just skip the host segments and I'm happy. I ran across this deleted footage from the series' final episode, where the producers surprised Mike & co. with a montage of clips from past films while they were shooting comments for that week's movie, Diabolik. It's a treat for any fan of the show.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Then a Hellbeast ate them.

Reason #4,057 to get a region-free dvd player: Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, Matthew Holness and Richard Aoyade's inspired sci-fi/horror parody which aired on Channel 4 in the UK in 2004 and was just released on dvd there last month. Holness stars as Marenghi, a Stephen King-like horror writer who's just as prolific but considerably shittier (from one love scene: "He whisked off her shoes and panties in one move. Wild - like an enraged shark, his bulky totem beating a seductive rhythm"). Darkplace was Marenghi's sci-fi vanity series - shot in the mid-80's but never before broadcast - starring himself as an allegedly heroic doctor investigating paranormal disturbances at a hospital. The writers throw in all the cheesiest elements of low budget, genre tv: absurd dialogue, awkward dubbing, aggressively ugly film stock, cheap special effects and stilted acting, particularly by Marenghi's sleazy publisher, Dean Learner (Ayoade), who plays the hospital administrator ("He couldn't actually interact with other actors. I've never seen that before... or since"). The show mostly avoids the perils of creating something "intentionally bad" simply by making everything as straight-faced silly as possible, such as this scene from episode one:

Apparently the show recently aired on the Sci-Fi Channel. I don't know if a US dvd release is forthcoming, but predictably it looks like you can find most of it on YouTube. Also, the Dean Learner character recently returned in a new talk show parody called Knowing Me Knowing You with Alan Partridge... er, I mean Man to Man with Dean Lerner, which I haven't seen yet.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Jiggle You Save May Be Your Own

Idolator offers the life-saving tip of the week. For my part, I once saw an out-of-towner get capped in the alley behind Tombstone Cafe in Frostburg, MD for never having heard of Jon Felton & His Snowmobile.