Monday, January 31, 2011

Song of the Week: Liverpool 8

To continue last week's Beatles theme, here's the title track from Ringo's 2008 album Liverpool 8. Ringo was never the best singer or deepest songwriter, but all of his songs are catchy, upbeat, and fun. Liverpool 8 is no exception. I think the first half of the album is stronger than the second, but it's a worthwhile listen anyway.

Friday, January 28, 2011

MST3K Friday: Night of the Blood Beast

"What I'm about to say might sound strange but I think we should eat this corpse."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Marty Turco is The Man

Ha ha. Check out Chicago goalie Marty Turco's reaction to Pierre McGuire.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Song of the Week: Calico Skies

Anyone who knows me knows I'm a big fan of The Beatles.  In recent years, I've discovered most of my favorite Beatles tunes were written by George Harrison, but I'll still say Paul McCartney is my favorite Beatle.  This week's song comes from his 1997 album Flaming Pie.  There was a long stretch were Paul's solo music wasn't that great, but here he appears to be rejuvenated after working on the Beatles Anthology with George and Ringo.  The whole album is great and I was reminded of this song after reading an old blog post on Ten Hidden McCartney Gems.

The song is "Calico Skies".  Paul's guitar work here is impressive and the lyrics touch the heart as only he knows how to do.  Added to this, the song was written for his wife Linda, who was fighting breast cancer at the time and would die than a year after the song was recorded.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

James Ellroy

There's been a lot of chatter going around the internet recently about author James Ellroy.  He has a new series debuting tonight on Investigation Discovery about true crime in L.A..  Always outspoken and entertaining, I'm sure the series will be a hoot.

While doing some searches, I stumbled upon a 2009 interview with Ellroy published in The Paris Review.  There are some things covered in the interview that have been covered before and a lot of things that were new to me.  He seems more at home and less of the character he plays in other interviews of this type.  It's fairly lengthy, but well worth your time.

Damn.  Now I want to read L.A. Confidential again.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Song of the Week: Mono to Stereo

I'm sure this happens in every decade, but I remember a lot of songs from the '90's that got huge and the band was never heard from again.  Recently, I've been hearing one of these songs all over the place.  In 1998, the song "The Way" by Austin-based band Fastball was everywhere.  Starting last year, I heard it again at restaurants and stores.  It reminded me how much I liked the song, but I never bought the album.  I checked them out, and Fastball is a great band.  "The Way" comes from their 1998 album "All the Pain Money Can Buy", which on the whole is a great album.  Along with "The Way", the standouts are "Fire Escape", "Sooner or Later", and "Outta My Head".  The followup album "The Harsh Light of Day" has some great tracks ("You're an Ocean" is my fave), but the whole album isn't as good as its predecessor.

The band took some time off in the mid-2000's and returned to form in 2009 with "Little White Lies".  The whole album is stellar, but my favorite songs are "The Malcontent" and "She's Got the Rain".  This week's song is the fifth track "Mono to Stereo".  I hadn't listened to the album in a couple months, but I woke up one Saturday morning with this little ditty in my head.

One of the great things about Fastball is there are very few (if any) bands out there that have a similar sound. I recommend both "All the Pain Money Can Buy" and "Little White Lies" to anyone who wants to hear some great music.

Mono to Stereo:

Friday, January 14, 2011

MST3K Friday: Werewolf

One of my favorite MST3K episodes is the season 9 episode "Werewolf".  It stars Joe Estevez (Martin Sheen's less famous brother) and is "ahbsolootly fahsinating".

"I don't know, you had him last."
"I barely know what a hat is."
"That was the sound of the director giving up and leaving."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Drama City, by George Pelecanos

Lorenzo Brown is an ex-con who wants nothing more than to stay on the straight-and-narrow. He’s got a decent job at the Humane Society and a rescue dog as his closest companion. Rachel Lopez is Lorenzo’s probation officer, a by-the-book cop by day but a wild child who has sex with random strangers at night.

This is my first read of George Pelecanos’s fiction. It definitely shares some common elements with his work on The Wire: the street patter, the attitude of the various characters toward the police (and life in general), and the air of Greek tragedy. And, like on The Wire, “nothing happens” for long stretches of time.

But that’s how these things work. Drama City is more slice-of-life and shining a light on things most of us never think of in our cushy lives than it is about the Big Ideas or adrenaline rush of other crime books. Pelecanos has a real way with words; not flashy, but perfect in showing what he wants to show.

For most of the first part of the novel, Lorenzo reminded me of The Wire’s Cutty. His stint in prison has wised him up. He realizes “the game” is for young guns. He realizes the violence and the hate and the posturing is all sound and fury signifying nothing. Toward the end of the book events have occurred that upset Lorenzo’s apple cart and you are truly worried that he’ll return to his former life.

I dig the character of Rachel Lopez. Her dueling personality (straight-laced cop vs addict/slut) was a very interesting concept that I wish had been explored further. Without getting into specifics, something happens to her while on the job that triggers the pent-up rage inside Lorenzo. While the incident fuels the last third of the book, Lopez herself is largely off page. Her night life seems to have been added more as color than as something to define her character.

Overall, it was an enjoyable read. It seemed very real and there are some colorful characters. My problems are that what’s driving the characters’ actions isn’t always clear and Lorenzo is a bit too passive as a protagonist. I understand he’s trying to stay straight, but sometimes I wanted to yell at him to DO SOMETHING.

If someone recommends another Pelecanos book, I’ll certainly make note of it and add it to the list. But I’m not going to run out and buy another one tomorrow.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Song of the Week: My Wave

I'm starting a new feature here at Unsquare Dance: The Song of the Week. Every Monday, I will post a song that was important to me in the previous week. Could be a song I hadn't heard in a while. Could be a song that got stuck in my head. Could be a song that captures my mood. Hopefully this will introduce (or re-introduce) you guys to some new songs. You may also get a peek into how my mind works.

This week's song is "My Wave" by Soundgarden. I like Chris Cornell's solo work (his records "Euphoria Morning" and "Carry On" are outstanding) and recently gave his stint with Audioslave a shot (enjoyed that too). But I never listened to the band where Cornell made his name. I liked "Superunknown" and "Down on the Upside", but not much of the rest of their stuff. Rather than going with one of the more well-known songs on those albums, I'm going go go with "My Wave". I don't remember hearing it before, but it grabbed me right away. Hope you guys enjoy it too.

Friday, January 7, 2011

MST3K Friday: Pants!

On New Year's Eve, one of the movies I watched was MST3K's riff on "Hercules vs The Moon Men".  Unfortunately, there are no clips up on YouTube except the stinger and this one (though the whole movie is posted if you want to watch it in 10 parts).

"Sing the praises of pants."