Reversing the Numbness

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Oh, the Horror!

I was definitely not the horror buff that the Dalai Mama was when she was a kid; the freak was infatuated with The Shining when she was like 5 years old, which was about the same time I was petrified of my brother's KISS posters. (This will come as no surprise to those who were around for my KISS rant a while back.) But when I got a bit older I came around and fell in love with some great horror flicks. Here are the ones that I remember the most from the '80s.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Band Names

I've wanted to do a band-names post for a while now. My questions are:

1. What do you think is the best band name of all time?
2. What would your band name be? (If you're actually in a band, pick a new band name.)

I'll comment with my answers.

Nobody Comes (Repeat)

I first made this post back in April, but while listening to the great Billy Bragg on my way to work today, and noticing once again how amazing yet seemingly simple his words are, I remembered this Thomas Hardy poem and thought I'd recycle it. This is my first repeat post:

I recently stumbled onto this poem by Thomas Hardy. The second stanza is intensely sad to me, but I really love the way it reads, so I thought I'd post it here.

Nobody Comes

TREE-LEAVES labour up and down,
And through them the fainting light
Succumbs to the crawl of night.
Outside in the road the telegraph wire
To the town from the darkening land
Intones to travelers like a spectral lyre
Swept by a spectral hand.

A car comes up, with lamps full-glare,
That flash upon a tree:
It has nothing to do with me,
And whangs along in a world of its own,
Leaving a blacker air;
And mute by the gate I stand again alone,
And nobody pulls up there.
— 9 October 1924


Monday, October 29, 2007

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Last Year's Model

We start this post off with a little soundtrack music from the king, Mr. Elvis Costello. Raoul Duke, feel free to abstain from the audio portion of this entry.

Nobody would ever accuse me of being model material. While it's true that I have incredibly normal ears that could potentially show up in an ear ad of some kind, you wouldn't think I'd end up on the other end of a camera for professional purposes. But a couple of years ago on the Andy Warhol Bridge in Pittsburgh, that's exactly what happened.

I've mentioned before that I make motorcycle magazines for a living, and a while back I got a call from esteemed photographer Fran Kuhn. Fran is just a peach of a guy, and I've known him for ten or eleven years. (Here's a bitchin' photo of his from back in the day of Scott Burnworth.) He doesn't do much race stuff these days, probably because he's so good that he stays busy with commercial work. I mean, he is really, really good.

Speaking of commercial work, he called me back then because he had a photo shoot for a Honda brochure planned in Pittsburgh a couple of days later and one of his riders had to bail at the last second. He needed someone who was tall (I'm 6'!) and thin (175!) who could ride a motorcycle. I don't remember what the pay was, but it was good for a day's worth of work, and Fran needed someone, so I told him I'd be happy to fill in.

It ended up being pretty cool. I went up that Saturday and found that they had closed the Andy Warhol Bridge down for this shoot. We were doing the cover shoot for the 2005 Honda VTX1800 brochure. These are the brochures that dealers display in their dealerships, just like car dealers do with every model they sell.

Here's a photo of me (up front) and the other dude, with the rigs we were on:

The bridge is sloped, so we'd just ride up to piece of duct tape on the road, turn the bike off, and when Fran said go, we'd start drifting backward. (A mechanic had disconnected the brake light so it wouldn't light up as I controlled my speed with my front brake.) My job was to keep the wheel on the side-rig on the yellow line as we drifted back. The other dude, who's used to riding backward on a motorcycle, would make sure he was going about the same speed as I was. Fran was off to the side with a remote shutter button snapping photos like crazy until we made it to the point where he'd tell us to stop, ride up to the duct tape, and do it all again. (The point in going backward was to create a motion blur in the background.)

We did this all day and Fran took hundreds of photos. We stuck around just until dusk, when the lights on the bridge and in some of the buildings kicked on, and Fran took some final shots. My one and only day as a model was finished.

A month or two later, I got an e-mail from Fran with the final version of the photo, which is actually a Photoshop composition of multiple images.

The rigs were Photoshopped out, the road was perfected, and the whole thing looks like it was done at dusk. I think the photo turned out great, and I had fun doing it to boot. Too bad I never actually got to ride that Honda.

Oh, and I changed the template of RtN. If anyone has any problems with it, let me know.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Worst Cover Ever

The DM and I are checking out a show called The Next Great American Band. I just heard a band called The Hatch do the worst cover I've ever heard. It was Dylan's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue," and it was just horrible.

This show is insane.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Friday Music

It's Friday (almost). I need music.

If you could have any musician play a couple of stripped-down sets in your living room, who would you choose? That's the topic of this week's Friday Music post. I've been thinking about this all day, and I've narrowed the list down to five people, in no particular order.

Cat Power
My oh my, do I love Cat Power. Not only is she on my list of five people to play in my living room, but she's actually #1 on my list of bands/musicians I've never seen but really want to. She's got a beautiful, haunting voice, she writes great songs, and I love the ridiculous little dances she does on stage. But it's the way she affects her voice with the crazy things she does with her mouth/face that really throws me over the edge. This woman's got juice, folks, and I love her so. Welcome to my living room, Chan.

Thom Yorke
Radiohead is the best band in the world, and a lot of it has to do with Thom Yorke. I love most Radiohead songs, from Pablo Honey to In Rainbows, but I'm still partial to The Bends and OK Computer. I just loved the way Thom would disarm you with this sweet, soft, controlled voice, and just when you'd let your defenses down, he cream you with spastic explosions of sonic mayhem. My god.

Sinead O'Connor
I've loved her from the moment I heard her voice. I loved her from her incredible sophomore album, I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, through her SNL incident, through her sexual ambiguity, through her ordination into the schismatic Independent Catholic group. Thing is, I just never cared about any of that other stuff. Could not care less, in fact! It's the voice--delicate and supremely strong at the same time--I care about. Sing for me, Sinead. I love this song.

Joseph Arthur
I've practically seen him in a setting as intimate as a living room. Inexplicably, he came to Morgantown to a small venue a couple of years ago to a crowd of maybe 70. Unreal. I like him when he plays with the Lonely Astronauts too, but to me, he's at his best when he's by himself, with his looping equipment and his paints, showing the range and soul of a voice and mind that could never be confused with another. He can sing from the gutter all the way up to heaven. The great thing about this dude is, if he's playing near you and you're not in NYC or another major city, there's a pretty good chance you'll be able to get close to the stage. Don't miss that chance.

Fiona Apple
Her album When the Pawn.... is a masterpiece. I get the sense she's a little bit crazy, and there is nothing like a crazy girl with a voice and a piano. I love watching her hunch over the keys, convulse over them, command them as she flails. Remember that XTC song "Dear God," where they ask, "Did you make mankind, or did we make you?" With Fiona, I wonder if she's making the music, or if it's making her. I don't know, maybe that doesn't make any sense. But I'll get a baby grand if she'll come play it. With that, I present her cover of "Across the Universe," my plane-crash song. The lazy beauty of her voice in this absolutely destroys me, especially with the backdrop of silent chaos this video provides. It's worth watching until the very last second.

That's my top five. If any of them ever agree to a gig in my living room, you're all invited. But if you all show up, I'm calling in the heavy hitter and we'll have a real party. Hit it, Bobby:

So who would you choose? That's what I want to listen to this week. As always, links are very much appreciated. I'll respond to every suggestion by Sunday.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest

So my caption didn't make the final three in the contest from a couple of weeks ago. I had struggled choosing one of these caps:

"It's the greatest living room on Earth."


"Can I get you some cotton candy?"

I thought the first one was just a bit too obvious and not particularly funny, so I went with the latter. I see that someone else made the final three with "Welcome to the greatest living room on Earth!" Hers is worded better than mine, but I still like the cotton candy one better.

On last week's toon, I went with "No, I don't want to play Duck Duck Goose!" which edged out "My kingdom for an omelet."

Here's the new cartoon. Feel free to post captions; I'll be putting mine up as I think of them.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Hangin' With The Kindershorty

Having two shorties is great, but once you've have two shorties for a while, it's a real treat to get some quality time with one of them. The DM is off to Virginia to get her hair chopped off, and she took the young shorty with her, so I got to spend the afternoon and evening with the kindershorty. Here she is:

Isn't she a little sweet pea? She was at my office for hours, waiting patiently as we pushed to finish a book by deadline. (We did it. Nice work, J-Ko and Hoop.) Then we went downtown and had ice cream cones with sprinkles (her) and crunchies (me) while walking down High Street and talking about things and people we saw. We sang "Country Roads" almost the entire ride home, then after she aced her sight words (homework in kindergarten!), we went upstairs and did somersaults onto the bed. I'm officially old now that I get dizzy from doing somersaults.

She asked if she could go to sleep in our room tonight, and I of course let her. We read a book about Little Bear, then talked about the imaginary Cloud Town we started inventing last night when she couldn't get the image of Big John's ghost out of her head and was afraid she'd have "terrible dreams." We turned the light off and I sang "Wonderful Tonight" and the theme song of Cheers to her. I have no idea where that one came from. She fell asleep and I made it downstairs about a minute before kickoff.

What an awesome night.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Christian Movies

Christian Slater, who was the epitome of cool to me when I was younger, starred in three of my favorite movies. Here are few scenes from them. Spoilers if you haven't seen them, obviously.

This was my real introduction to Christian Slater. Raoul Duke and I adopted "Heather Chandler is one bitch that deserves to die" into our language.

Pump Up the Volume
I freaking love this movie and soundtrack. I found Leonard Cohen in this movie. Concrete Blonde and the Pixies too. The song is this clip rules.

True Romance
It's a top-5 movie for me, and this may be my favorite scene in any movie ever.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday Music

It's Friday. I need music.

It's a hard-core deadline day and the weather is dreary, so I think I'll start off with England's Editors.

Any suggestions on what else I should listen to? As always, links are very much appreciated.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest

I've submitted captions to The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest a couple of times in recent weeks, and now I'm determined to get a caption in the final three. So I think I'm going to start doing weekly posts about the new toon. I can post my caption ideas to get feedback on which one I should submit and you can come up with your own if you want. (And if you do, why not submit them?)

So before reading my first few captions for this week, check out the toon.

The Lodger -- Free Listen

Fanatic Promotion sent me a link a couple of days ago to a full stream of the new The Lodger album, Grown-Ups. If you're in the mood for something new, give it a shot and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Chez Mama

The Dalai Mama has started the blog she's been thinking about for a while now. Nice! Check her out at Chez Mama.

On Walking (and Seeing)

As I was walking from the back of the building to my desk, it dawned on me how lucky I am that I can. Just thought I'd take a second to acknowledge that to the universe. (Oh, and universe, I'm also pretty stoked about the whole sight thing too. It's much appreciated, really.)


Hardees' new Country Breakfast Burrito. Two egg omelets filled with bacon, sausage, diced ham, (what, no pig feet?) cheddar cheese, hash browns and sausage gravy, all wrapped inside a flour tortilla. 60 grams of fat. 920 calories.

Good lord! If someone tries one of these monsters, I want a full report. Reminds me of this:

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Friday Music

It's Friday. I need music.

I'll start the day with some B-boys in the DM's honor -- happy birthday! -- then I'll move into those lovable Canadian twins, Tegan and Sarah.

What next?

Opportunity for a Little Plug?

After my most recent post on the Radiohead thread, I thought enough references had been made to the JBZ's lunch with the big label A&R guy to warrant a link to that section of my tour journal! Enjoy!

By the way, the part about Capitol Records is where the Radiohead stuff came up, but I left out the details.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Happy Birthday, DM! Happy Birthday, Matt A!

The DM's birthday isn't until Friday, but since our home computer is down and she has limited access to RtN, I thought I'd start a post about it now.

UPDATE: I just found out tomorrow is Matt A's birthday, so we'll extend the happy birthday to him as well. Here's your present from me, mate.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Radiohead's Golden Ticket

You've all heard by now that Radiohead's soon-to-be-released new album, In Rainbows, due out in a mere two days, is not being released on a major label but will instead be available exclusively on Radiohead's website for a price to be determined by the purchaser.

It's up to you. No really, it's up to you.

I think the whole thing has a Willy Wonka feel to it. The reclusive geniuses have been holed away working on god-knows-what and now, out of the blue, they drop the crazy news that their mystery album will be released in a handful of days, and fans can download it for whatever they want to pay! The announcement generates a storm of worldwide press that nearly crashes the band's website and lands them millions of dollars worth of free publicity in magazines and newspapers, on television shows, and of websites and blogs. It reminds me of the part in the movie where Wonka, a reclusive genius who had been holed away working on god-knows what, dropped the crazy news that there were five Golden Tickets in Wonka Bars, all good for tours of Wonka's candy factory, and the whole world went ape shit.

From the Wik: Wonka's eccentric behavior, inventions, ignoring the rules of science and self imposed isolation and paranoia classify him as a Mad Scientist.

I'm on the email lists of a bunch of music promoters, including Radiohead's U.S. publicity company, Nasty Little Man. This is an e-mail I got from them last week:

There will be no advances, promotional copies, digital streams, media sites, etc. of RADIOHEAD's In Rainbows.

Everyone in the world will be getting the music at the same time:
Oct. 10. That includes us. We don't have anything to play anyone in
the nine days until the record is available. Everyone at nasty has
put his or her order in and just to clarify: you are not being asked
to pay for a promo (as some have inquired). you can pay nothing or as much or as little as you want.

There will be no promotional copies of the discbox either, as each
discbox is being made to order. Sorry.
I can only imagine how inundated they were with e-mails from magazine types after the buzz began.

I read an article on the move in the latest issue of Time magazine, and there are many in the already battered record industry who are afraid of what this new "model" will do to their bottom line. (One record company exec said, "If you can pay whatever you want for music by the best band in the world, why would you pay $13 or 99 cents for music by somebody less talented?") Radiohead insists they're not trying to come up with a new business model, but instead that they just really want everyone to get their music at the same time.

I bet it's really about control though. About controlling their music, their marketing efforts, their schedules. Their business. Their lives. Imagine what an nightmare it must be to produce a big-time record. Imagine how many people are involved in that process, pulling at your art and time in every direction like it's some kind of (Wonka) taffy, trying to find as many ways as they can to make as much money off of you as they possibly can.

Oh and by the way, which one's Pink?

If that's the price you have to pay to make a living doing what you want, so be it. But what if that price is unnecessary? I'm sure Radiohead will still make millions on the digital downloads, even with voluntary pricing. (I plan on paying four pounds, which is like eight bucks, I believe.) Considering that a band doesn't even make 20 percent on album sales these days when they're with a record company, the potentially slightly less revenue is a small price to pay for eliminating all of that other crap, especially when you already have all the money you'll ever need. (And they've got a major tour on the way in 2008, where they'll clean up anyway. The DM and I will see them live, that's for sure. Probably a couple of times.)

Yep, Radiohead is in control. They've used their insane new scheme to weed out all of the liars, the gluttons, the spoiled, ill-behaved cretins who only wanted to juice them for all they could get, and they're passing their music on on their own terms.

Oompa loompa, indeed.

Ten years ago this Friday -- on the DM's birthday, in Raoul Duke's North Carolina apartment -- was the day we discovered OK Computer.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

I Totally Remember "Pop Goes the World" Now

Happy birthday, Matthes!

Friday Music

It's Friday. I need music.

Only it's Thursday, but since I'll be on the road tomorrow, Friday Music will be a day early this week. I rode to work today, which is usually a good thing (especially on a beautiful day like this), but there was so much stop-and-go traffic that I've got arm-pump in my left arm. Less good! So I'll start the day with some Traffic.

As always, links are very much appreciated. I'd also like to invite anyone else to check out the music people suggest and of course to comment about it. (And welcome, Blogandters.)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Beware of the Rat Man!

This is one of the funniest damn things I've ever seen. Sleek and I were watching the actual show when it aired, and we were falling of the couch laughing. I hate this phrase, but dude, this guy really DOES scream like a girl!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Video Vault

"Safety Dance" by Men Without Hats -- a huge video on MTV in the early '80s. I just watched it for the first time in a long and was surprised to see the dude go all Ren McCormick on that medieval village. I guess I don't remember it as well as I thought I did.

Speaking of Ren McCormick ... this one's for the ladies.

If you just can't wait, fast-forward to 2:30 on that one to see one skinny j breakin'.

More Classic Calvin

I felt like this every day when I was in school. I remember it like it was yesterday. Thankfully my job doesn't make me feel this way.