• 2 October 2007 : Entry 37

    Out 2 2007, 14h19

    Looks like I'm going to be missing Emma Pollock again. She played SXSW earlier this year—which came as a complete surprise to me—and I fully intended to make the drive up just to see her show(s), but illness and an unexpected financial crunch pretty much 86'ed those plans.

    And, from the sounds of things, it's just as well that I didn't go to all the trouble; reading reviews of the performances as well as between the lines of her online diary, it sounds as though sound and technical problems made it a well-intentioned but disappointing attempt. SXSW isn't my scene, anyway. I don't really dig crowds, and look—even though I do like the city, there's this capital-A Austin, the Austin that is very much aware of Being Austin, the Austin that has a particular Identity to Uphold, etc., that is something I do not really like, either. Rich, self-consciously hip kids playing at "too cool to care" and showing up anyway.

    So when I got an automated e-mail from Last.FM telling me that she was playing Houston—Houston! of all places, this blight on the cultural landscape, this dead end for interesting things, this city that nearly cancelled an appearance by The Fall after disappointing ticket pre-sales (I had two of what I heard were, no shit, five or six sold)—I was genuinely excited. I don't exactly need the words "second chance" written in fire across the sky. (Also, this thing, this device that e-mails you about events you might actually be interested in? This is my first experience with it, and I approve. Very neat.)


    She's opening for The New Pornographers, a band I can take or leave at the best of times, and Spoon, a band I really and truly do not give a moss-covered rolling fuck at or about. Again, this wouldn't be all that much of a Big Deal in and of itself... if the cachet of these "bigger names" didn't place the show (a) at a big venue and (b) right the fuck outta my price range. Someone mentioned in the event shoutbox that he paid "$72.57 for two tickets".

    2007 has been, with regard to cash, missed opportunities, and the conjunction between the two, a little something I like to call Damn and Shit and Bullshit.
  • 25 June 2007 : Entry 36

    Jun 25 2007, 14h49

    R. Kelly is a comedic genius. Here are the dedications (typography presented as-is, like always) from his latest album, Double Up:

    To my kids:

    Joann: Daddy is so proud of you. You are doing really good in school and you've gotten really good at singing and you dance just like your mommy. Keep up the good work. I love you, Daddy

    Jaya: Daddy's also proud of you for doing so good in school just like your big sister and you have become so good at playing with your dolls. I'm also proud of you for that. I love you, Daddy

    Robert Jr.: Son, Daddy's very proud of you for looking out for your big sisters. I'm also proud of you for not crying and being a big boy when they trapped you in the closet. Way to go kiddo. Daddy loves you

    Drea: I'm very proud of you too. I thank you for your support. I know you're doing your dance thing. Keep up the great work. I love you, later

    * * *

    I love you, later

    Also, the back cover shows Kells sitting down to a meal of diamonds. There are champagne flutes and glasses full of diamonds, diamonds heaped high upon plates, diamond side dishes—they're not actually arranged or sculpted to resemble actual food, mind, I'm just talking about big fucking piles of loose diamonds. It's magical.

    Oh man, on the inside there is a picture of R. Kelly eating a string of diamonds like spaghetti; they're dangling from a fork he's got poised halfway between plate and mouth and he's looking at the camera like "Yo, tryin' to eat, here" and there's a model wiping the corner of his mouth with a red cloth who just looks like the physical embodiment of a patient sigh, and let's just say thank God for R. Kelly, because come on. Come on.
  • 10 April 2007 : Entry 35

    Abr 10 2007, 15h13


    I can now say with authority that all norteño music sounds exactly fucking alike. It's just one long intolerable song forever.

    Never let it be said that I don't look on the positive, or "brighter", side of a situation, and bearing my own musical experiences in mind I offer, free of charge, this suggestion of a marketing slogan to the norteño music combine:

    "¡Norteño: gracias a Dios, no es Reggaetón!"
  • 19 January 2007 : Entry 34

    Jan 19 2007, 17h53

    Am I losing my touch? Probably! All you need is hate, folks.

    2Pac - "Pac's Life": You know, I was hesitant to even say anything about this at all. I do not give a wet cardboard tinker's damn about Tupac Shakur; I was in high school during his career peak and the sleazy fucker was overexposed enough in his natural lifetime. And all the jokes about the avalanche of posthumous releases have been made and re-made, etc etc, so much so that I honestly cannot remember if I've made one or more myself right here in this fucking journal. So never mind that. What caught my eye—blew me away, really—was something in the liner notes. And this is probably old fucking news to you with your fingers on the pulse of actual popular culture rather than, say, the culture I presume to be popular based entirely on my own interests, but never mind; I have a nice little sideline here out of being cranky and only ever partially informed at best, so here we go:

    Your contributions can assist the growth of the Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts. You can purchase a brick engraved with your company logo or personal message! Your brick will be constructed into the Peace Garden of the Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts.

    Much like a kid with a red crayon and an issue of Highlights for Children (the fun, you see, is with a purpose), I am going to go through this little paragraph and circle everything that's just head-slappingly bizarre or laughable.

    - the existence of a "Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts"
    - that the phrase "company logo" comes before "personal message"
    - that a Center for the Arts named after a violent criminal and convicted rapist features a "Peace Garden"
    - that this "Peace Garden" will be composed of sponsored bricks costing either $100 (the "Friends of Pac" brick) or $1,000 (the "Commemorative VIP" brick) when Tupac Shakur will quite possibly turn out the most profitable defunct musical entity since the Beatles

    I just cannot fathom the chutzpah required to ask for donations (tax-deductible, according to the ad) when every noise Tupac Shakur ever made in front of a microphone seems to have been spun and reworked into tracks "featuring" many, many, many artists who are, presumably, still alive and picking up the lion's share of the creative burden. It's hard to tell—and I've been morbidly fascinated with this ever since he was shot—how much of the posthumous lionizing and, let's call it, fetishizing is actually grass-roots, street-level sentiment, and how much is cynical manipulation of same by the people who own the rights to Shakur's name, likeness, unreleased material, etc.

    And really, I feel more than a little uncomfortable at taking shots at such a huge figure in hip-hop and urban culture, not because I'm afraid of being perceived as racist (anyone who knows me knows what a goddamned ridiculous accusation that would be) but because (a) they are cultures that I have not experienced nor ever will experience in any sort of personal, meaningful level, and there is probably some critical kernel of understanding missing (at least, I'm assuming; I'm a white kid that grew up on "classic" rock, which you'd think would provide me with said kernel for that particular context, and yet I cannot understand the forever-and-ever continued longevity of, say, the Rolling Stones [another easy joke to make, honestly, and one I'm sure I've made before] or why anyone would ever, ever intentionally listen to Aerosmith) and (b) like I said, my teenage years overlapped with a lot of right-wing hand-wringing about "gangster" rap and my god, do I hate to hear words like theirs come out of my mouth.

    30 Seconds to Mars - "A Beautiful Lie": From the promo sticker:

    "Featuring ATTACK and nine other chapters of destruction, change, rebirth and renewal..."

    I was like, "did you really just refer to the tracks on your album as 'chapters'? Did you really do that, 30 Seconds to Mars?" And then I opened the container and saw the black and white photo of these mincing little drama queens and realized that yes, yes they did.

    I'm not sure, but I think they might want me to spell their name as "thirtysecondstomars", in which case the Saint Zartan Center for the Arts will be accepting tax-deductible donations to buy bricks (which I will, using a black Sharpie, customize with your company logo or personal message) to bounce off of their dumb fucking skulls.

    snowboarder7297 said: "i think this shoutobx shows how amazing and dedicated 30stm fans are. ive looked at other bands shoutboxes and they are like loaded with random crap that isnt even about the band. but this board is all about the band. 30stm 4 life!"

    Yes, snowboarder7297, you are an eighteen-year-old female, and you have correctly identified this as the music that is going to carry you through the rest of your life.

    BONUS TRACK. Names thanked by Jared Leto in the liner notes: Jesus the Christ, Buddha, Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, Hermann Hesse, J.D. Salinger, C.S. Lewis, Deepak Chopra, Og Mandino, L. Ron Hubbard, Pythagoras, Dr. Seuss.

    ACTIVITY. Compare and contrast the teachings of Jesus Christ and Buddha to those of L. Ron Hubbard and Deepak Chopra. Present your results in a Powerpoint file.

    Anonymous 4 - "Gloryland": There are six people in the band photo. I have no idea how to catalog this.

    Birdman & Lil Wayne - "Like Father, Like Son": Promo sticker:


    I—what is this enhanced CD you speak of? You mean I can get music and videos off of the same disc? Has the whole world gone insane?

    On the back cover, Birdman and Lil Wayne are sitting around, weighing money (yes, they have big wads of cash and they are weighing them) and they both look very, very angry. I don't think I would look that angry if I had that much cash, all crisp and green and neatly bundled, just lying around, so much that I didn't even really have to bother with keeping it tidy. I'd probably have the biggest goofiest grin ever on my face. I remember one particular photo of Steve Albini from the liner notes to "The Hammer Party" and he looked really happy just to have twenty bucks, so why are these guys so glum, so hostile, even?

    Guys, relax; I am not going to touch your cash. If you were like, I don't know, Aaron Carter and Kevin Federline, okay, then you would have to worry. I could totally take those guys, and would without a moment's hesitation if it meant I got to walk away with a forty-gallon garbage bag full of brand new twenties and the satisfaction of knowing I had broken the faces, spirits, and bank accounts of Aaron Carter and Kevin Federline.

    Mary J. Blige - "Reflections (A Retrospective)": The promo sticker is pretty standard until you get to the very bottom, which makes me think that they bought a bunch of stickers in a certain size and just had to use them or eat their cost, meaning it was a lot cheaper to fill the white space with the following text (in barely-there unbolded beige on white, for whatever goddamned reason):

    Reflect with me
    Reminisce with me
    Ride with me

    ...lady, what? You sound kind of needy.

    The back cover has Mary J. Blige sitting on some sort of magical floating space couch, staring down at a polished, reflective floor (oh, I see what they did there) upon which her name has been written. And she has this expression like oh, this is nice, who did this? I really like this, it's really thoughtful and sweet. Was this intentional? Can the answers be found in the song "My Life '06" (assuming this photo was taken in 2006 and not in the past, I dunno, two weeks, which would represent a pretty amazing production / turnaround time even for Geffen Records)? Who knows?

    Jojo - "The High Road": Is she fourteen years old? She looks fourteen years old.

    I don't think I want to hear a song called "How to Touch a Girl" performed by a fourteen-year-old. Double-creepy point for thanking R. Kelly in the liner notes, kid. Jojo, he might want to pee on you; I hear that is what he does.

    Sarah Brightman - "Diva: The Singles Collection": Can we just declare a moratorium on the use of the word "diva" pretty much forever?

    Also kudos on the huge thick glossy booklet filled with photos of yourself, Sarah Brightman; I guess you are kind of pretty and I don't know what your voice sounds like but I have heard it is good, anyway my point is either show your tits or don't; the only-halfway thing through the use of Photoshop filters and such is just irritating.

    Ciara - "The Evolution": Oh my goodness hee hee hee the liner notes actually have a dictionary definition of the word "evolution", which is just so silly and so lazy on so many levels that I want to fire myself back through time and get a degree in English and a teaching certification just so I can write on this fucking thing with a red pen and be completely justified in doing so (CIARA: THIS IS POOR FORM -- RE-DO).

    And I actually doubt this definition is from any real dictionary: "a gradual process in which something or someone changes into a different and usually more complex or better form". That is a pretty heavy-handed and roundabout way to blow your own horn, Ciara. You don't see me going around trying to tell people that I am more complex and better than, I don't know, yesterday. Last night I grew a new kidney and learned to play the clarinet. This is a process called "evolution".

    The album also comes with a DVD in which "Ciara and Dancers" teach dance moves from their music videos. Silly girls! Didn't you buy Birdman and Lil Wayne's CD? YOU CAN HAVE IT ALL ON ONE DISC

    Fat Joe - "Me, Myself & I": Fat Joe has those child molester eyes.

    Someone had to say it.

    Also, this is a pretty original album title and I'm pretty sure it's never been used before, so hats off to Fat Joe for turning the whole introspective concept album trope on its ear.


    Joe Crack is pretty jealously guarding his claim to having done a job I suspect means precisely dick-all.

    Freddy Fender - "Classics": Wow, Freddy Fender totally missed out on a lucrative career posing as Albert Einstein on posters to be sold to college freshmen.

    Luis Fonsi - "Exitos 98 : 06": This guy was apparently grown in a vat to provide an artist's model for editorial cartoonists wishing to metaphorically depict the "Latin Explosion" of the late 90's-early 00's.

    Also, dude, what's with the Front 242 notation there? Are you too spicy for an em-dash?

    Deitrick Haddon - "7 Days": Promo sticker time:

    Brand New Tracks
    Music's Ever-Evolving
    * Soul Child! *

    ...there's that word "evolve" again. I hope that there are some artists in this order that present an alternative point of view to this theory.

    Oh, look, a Vince Gill box set with guest vocals from Gretchen Wilson. That ought to cover it.

    But wait, what? The tray liner has this huge paragraph about Genesis and creation and that Deitrick Haddon has "come to the conclusion that everything that God has designed for our lives is already complete".



    Fred Hammond - "Free to Worship": FRED IS BACK!!! blares the promo sticker, and it's a good thing, too, since this might be the most unintentionally hilarious cover art since that one Patrulla 81 album.

    Taylor Hicks - (s/t): The promo sticker says that he is YOUR AMERICAN IDOL!, but that is clearly a lie: the man in this photo is genius Australian comedian Shaun Micallef, and he is putting one over on America and the American Idol viewership, which, frankly, had it coming.

    Jay-Z - "Kingdom Come": I got 99 problems, but making the really obvious comics-nerd joke about this album ain't one.

    Peter Lieberson - "Rilke Songs": The cover art to this looks like a self-help book about coping with infertility.

    Laura Pausini - "Yo Canto": Well, there goes my deeply ingrained cynicism as re: female musicians having lots and lots of pictures of themselves in their liner notes because holy smokes.

    Marco Antonio Solis - "Trozos De Mi Alma 2": The first thing I did after seeing the cover art was flip over the container and check the copyright date. I swear this is true. I thought that there was no way this guy or this style of design or his clothes or anything could have been from anywhere, anywhere post-1974, but there is is, copyright 2006. That beard, those pointy reptile shoes, those cocky yet soulful poses (he'll hurt you, ladies, but you'll want to forgive him); I have no idea who this guy is or what he sings about but he is probably the one person on earth who, more than I, longs for a functional time machine.

    Gwen Stefani - "The Sweet Escape": Go fuck yourself, Gwen Stefani. If your jaw wasn't so completely fucking huge, I'd worry that you were really and truly in danger of disappearing up your own asshole.

    Styx and the Contemporary Youth Orchestra - "One With Everything": Just another way corporate America gives the finger to underprivileged youth: by making them perform with Styx.

    Switchfoot - "Oh, Gravity": Oh, yawn. Switchfoot is music made by adults for plainly ridiculous children.

    Tyrese (aka Black-Ty) - "Alter Ego": Black-Ty, meet Chris Gaines. I think the two of you will have a lot to talk about.

    Okay, that's it, I'm done. I'm not even adding artist tags this time, even though half the fun of writing these is getting indignant comments from total strangers. The compact disc pickings have been slim and shitty, lately, and I've been the sort of sick and cranky that resists attempts at being funneled into creative output. I would also like to add that the next Baby Einstein DVD that crosses my desk with be loaded into a rocket and fired into the fucking sun. I am so goddamned sick of cataloging children's DVDs that I have actually considered crippling myself just to get time off of work and disability checks.
  • 28 December 2006 : Entry 33

    Dez 28 2006, 22h46

    Five lists of five.

    Five songs that make me think of water:

    Lush - De-Luxe
    Boards of Canada - Dayvan Cowboy
    His Name Is Alive - What Else is New List
    Saint Etienne - How We Used to Live
    Slowdive - Alison

    Five songs with underappreciated lyrics:

    Lush - Superblast!

    Me in the world
    Losing tears, shedding fears
    Strain for the sun
    Make you run, make you come

    You don't know
    You don't know

    I'm in my home
    All the time, on my own
    Low finger fine
    Take what's mine, from behind

    You don't know
    You don't know
    It's not there
    You don't care

    You're still inside of me
    Beneath the cotton core
    My pictures smile at me
    And soon they'll rise and soar

    Fill up my space
    Turn around, fade and trace
    Be absolute,
    Blue and white, fatal fruit

    She nylon smile
    Full of lies, shining eyes
    Cover my grin
    Take a chance, maybe win

    It's not there
    It's not fair
    You don't know
    You don't care

    His Name Is Alive - How Ghosts Affect Relationships

    I dreamt that one had died
    in a strange place
    they had nailed the boards
    over your face

    I dreamt that one had died
    in a strange place
    they had nailed the boards
    over your face

    You are underground
    You are under boards
    You are underground

    I bid to you
    never had to sleep again
    and dreams kept awake she could never allow

    I don't like this at all
    I couldn't seem to speak
    I don't like this at all

    Cut, bleeding, and sad
    when you dream of things you don't understand
    cut, bleeding, and sad
    when you dream of things you don't understand

    You can't live here
    you can't live here
    you can't live here

    Stereolab - Cybele's Reverie (translated from French)

    Sensuous and incoherent matters
    childhood is very nice
    childhood brings magic

    What to do when one has done everything?
    read everything, drunk everything, eaten everything?
    given everthing in truth and in detail,
    when one has cried on all the rooftops,
    wept and laughed in the towns and in the country?

    Childhood is the most real
    the garden of new visions
    the rocks, the trees, the walls tell the story

    The house, the house, of other times
    the house, the house that we have left

    And the silence
    that penetrates me

    The Delgados - The Choices You've Made

    Staggering we
    sink into sleep
    friends who profess
    education's a cheat

    Living is lonely
    people like this
    please can I go now
    my own life I miss

    We don't want children
    we don't want noise
    leave them in corners
    to satisfy boys

    We just want money
    look at our face
    why should we work
    let the men buy the drinks

    So don't make a scene
    we don't want a reaction
    and don't use my home just to lay down your head
    I may not agree, but don't take advantage

    Happy occasion
    don't try to hide
    only the best days
    you'll ever have had

    Unlike the weekend
    unlike the night
    you couldn't resist
    the temptation to fight

    So don't make a scene
    we don't want a reaction
    and don't use my home just to lay down your head
    it may not look pretty, but don't take advantage

    What were your thoughts on the train today?
    were all those those miles that you travelled a fair exchange
    and are the choices you made for your day of days
    still sitting easy with you?

    Monkey Swallows the Universe - Martin

    It all began in Spring when he was sat in that chair looking so old and distant and half dead
    And he began to think of all the books he hadn’t read and all the memories lost and that’s when he said
    “Oh baby don’t you look at me no more
    I’m lazy untalented and poor
    I can’t give you everything that you ask for
    Why don’t you go go go?”

    She said “How’m I gonna go when you’re sitting on my coat?
    Looks like I will have to stay til you’re on your feet again
    Baby you’re just the same as me, I feel that way from time to time,
    But you will be fine”

    He didn’t hear her words, he didn’t see her face – he was mired in his heartache
    He could only think of all the drugs and drink
    And what he could’ve been and what his life could mean
    “Oh baby why’m I so disappointing?
    What happened to me life being promising?
    I can’t give you everything that you ask for
    Why don’t you go go go?

    She said “How’m I gonna leave when you’re crying on my sleeve?
    Looks like I will have to stay at least until the washing’s dry
    Baby you’re just the same as me, I feel that way once in a while,
    But everything’ll be alright.”

    This time he heard but he misunderstood
    He took the wrong wrong wrong way out of the wood
    He began to rise, he looked in her eyes and said
    “Oh baby aren’t you trying to help me?
    Is it too much to ask for your sympathy?
    Didn’t I give you all the love that you asked for?
    And now you’re gonna go?”

    She said “Where’m I gonna go when you’re the only home I know?
    Looks like I will have to stay at least until the taps run dry
    Maybe you’re not the same as me but I still think I could make you smile
    You’ll see, you will be fine, yeah we’ll be fine.”

    Five "artists" who are a joke and a punchline to me:

    Jimmy Ray
    Wamdue Project
    Lou Bega
    Jimmie's Chicken Shack

    Five NES games with really good music:

    Golgo 13 : Top Secret Episode
    Mach Rider

    Five great album covers:

  • 11 December 2006 : Entry 32

    Dez 11 2006, 19h40

    Dear Barely Legal Last.FM:

    So I have been insanely busy this month and the Compact Disc Source shipment (which was actually really disappointing, humor-wise; it's not that we got anything good or necessarily above my contempt, mind you, but it's all just so very... average. Am I getting old, Last.FM? Am I mellowing out?) came in right when my body decided to roll out the red carpet for a cripplingly massive and very literally frightening sinus / upper respiratory thing so instead of doing my customary ten thousand word writeup I will sum up the month of November for you with a picture (which I guess means I owe you nine thousand words; goddamn it I must have a fucking fever because I am cracking cute little witticisms only a high school English teacher could love):

    Yes, it's late 2006 and we paid money for a VHS copy of We're Back: A Dinosaur's Story.

    Yes, this photograph was taken at an unflattering angle.

    Yes, I'm wearing a Magma t-shirt. I'M THE FOXIEST NERD IN TEXAS
  • 19 October 2006 : Entry 31

    Out 19 2006, 17h49

    It feels like ages since I wrote the last Compact Disc Source roundup--it's only been a month, give or take a few days, but good lord, it's been one hell of a month here at the library. Did you know that I am actually an Authority Figure at the library? Well, heaven help us, it's actually true, even if I supervise all of three people and my supervisory role is more or less approving sick leave and delivering bad news. And! One of my people had a Bad Attitude towards work, in that she considered some of her tasks to be beneath her, somehow, which is I suppose a little baffling because it's not exactly as though the very modest demands we made of her were tearing her away from great works of literature or anything, if you follow what I'm saying, here. She was a bit of a complainer and, in the style of your favorite folktales, she complained all day and all night until the moon a Very Very Important Authority Figure heard her cries and said, well, okay, if you're so unhappy...

    And in cleaning out her desk, we did discover that this work that was ostensibly beneath her dignity / intellect / whatever was just piling up; I felt like Elmer Fudd firing a shotgun into a tree trunk and being buried beneath an avalanche of acorns, the only difference is that Elmer Fudd did not have to end up eating those acorns himself, and by "eating those acorns" I mean "slowly work through a huge backlog of very time-consuming paperwork". So if anyone needs me, I'll be here, ten-keying in numbers until (from the looks of this pile) the spring thaw (N.B.: this is wishful thinking; there can be no spring thaw in a fucking swamp). I expect that, by that time, seventy-five percent of my body mass will be in my right hand; I'll have grown four new fingers and each of them will have at least six knuckles. The number pad will be worn down and resemble the mouth of a seven-year-old child that has eaten nothing but grape jam and saltines for a year. The sun will become black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon will become as blood. The stars of the sky will fall to the earth, like a fig tree dropping its unripe figs when it is shaken by a great wind.

    On the other hand, it's October, and that means the Halloween decorations are up. The children's department has a life-size Arthur doll (what I presume to be life-size, anyway; Arthur is a humanoid aardvark-thing that walks on two legs and has kid-related problems and adventures, so it's not exactly like I can grab my Field Guide to Holy Shit It's a Talking Animal Wearing Clothes and see how the doll measures up, developmentally, to normal humanoid aardvarks of the same age) dressed in a child's Spider-Man costume. He looks like Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham, and that really is something to smile about.

    That, and the Compact Disc Source has finally, finally graced us with another Lucky Fun Mix of Red State #3 popular and unpopular music (Shipping: No Charge! Thank You For Your Business!) and I am here, now, with razor blade in hand to unwrap these discs and put barcodes on them and add them to this, your library catalog. Did I ever mention that when I first started this job, the task of unwrapping so many items every single day was actually a little cheerful?--it made it feel a little like Christmas, if you can imagine. Christmas comes but once a year and that is for a goddamned good reason. I'm warning you right away, though; I'm looking at this invoice and these CDs and I can already tell that this entry is not going to be anywhere nearly as entertaining or as informative (oh, yes, he went there) as the last entry, which was about nine thousand words long. So let's begin--and remember, you can trust me.

    Clay Aiken - "A Thousand Different Ways": Did you know I have never, ever seen a single episode of American Idol? It's true! I have seen commercials for the show, which were enough to convince me that I never, ever wanted to sit through--holy shit, this show is an hour long? Really? I cannot imagine watching that sort of, er, event for ten minutes, never mind an hour a week. The closest I've come to the American Idol experience is playing a Game Boy Advance game called Deutschland Sucht den SuperStar (which means, yeah, "Germany Seeks the SuperStar", a phrasing I am actually sort of fond of, as though there can only be one and--gasp!--will it be you?). It's not a very good game, but don't worry, I didn't pay for it. The real highlight is listening to the digitized German voice samples after each performance praise or pan you. Spitze! Tolle Hits!

    Clay Aiken was on American Idol, right? I'd hate to have wasted your time with something irrelevant! The only people I know about for sure on that show are the British bastard and Ruben Studdard, the "velvet teddy bear", and that's only because I can't help but think how impractical a velvet teddy bear would actually be in practice, especially in the hands of an infant or toddler. According to my first girlfriend, velvet is supposed to be pretty hard to clean. Sorry about that!

    I notice on the back of the CD that Clay Aiken has a couple of websites: www.clayaiken.com and www.clayonline.com. Why? What's the fucking difference? Clay, boychik, every website is by fucking definition online. Maybe the former is more personal, real-world, and earthy, and the latter is where he jacks into the Net and talks tech with his legions of fans. CLAY AIKEN, I HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT A SCSI CABLE I FOUND IN THIS OLD BACKPACK AT MY MOM'S HOUSE

    According to the promo sticker, this release "includes an all-new mini poster!" Yeah, that's right, fuckers. Don't even try to get away with cramming an old mini-poster in here, because we are collecting them all. The mini-poster, by the way, is nothing but the lyrics sheet unfolded, which is just bullshit. You want to know what a mini-poster is? It's the album art to Tarkus, not this jackoff nonsense. I've got half a mind to stick it to the man and scan the poster and make it available to you all for free so that you can Clay up your walls without shelling out for the album, but if you're reading this and you actually want a high-resolution scan of a Clay Aiken mini-poster for printing out or desktop wallpaper or whatever, well, you shouldn't.

    Beck - "The Information": Unfortunately has apparently nothing to do with the Martin Amis novel. I have never had any time for Beck and I'm not about to start now; something about the dude and his music just rubs me the wrong way (granted, the last time I actually heard any of his music was what, 1997? 1998? and every review I read [I read a lot of music reviews, and if you asked me why, I really couldn't answer you] says that, oh wow, he's re-invented himself again, so who knows? By now he could have cycled through so many different phases and styles and whatever that he's finally hit on one that I could enjoy. But I doubt it), and the sheet of hideous stickers included with this CD + DVD release does nothing to improve that particular situation.

    How to imagine the sheet of stickers (I guess this little bonus object is an incentive meant to keep you tech-savvy kids from just grabbing the album off of the Internet or whatever): what if someone went into a particularly pretentious college freshman girl's dorm room, started pulling pictures and images and shit at random off of her corkboard, and then made them into really tacky temporary tattoos? This sheet of stickers, that's what. You know what? Obviously this fucking thing isn't going to circulate with the album, so I'll mail it to the first person to ask for it. Unless you live somewhere so remote that mailing you a letter would cost like a hundred dollars, in which case you have bigger problems in your life than a lack of stickers from "The Information" from some Internet crank, okay?

    Tony Bennett - "Duets: An American Classic": From the promo sticker: "TONY BENNETT celebrates his 80th birthday signing his greatest hits with today's greatest stars."

    Damn, Tony. Not only did you have to work on your birthday, but you had to spend it in the company of Billy Joel, Tim McGraw, and George Michael. I'd imagine, however, that Elton John would be pretty fun at a birthday party, or at least maybe thirty years ago he would.

    Beyonce - "B'Day": This is one of those people where I just blinked and then they were, like, mega-famous.

    The back cover of the liner notes, in case you're interested (of course you are!), depicts Beyonce (and you're right, I just can't be bothered opening up Character Map) in some sort of swimsuit-type garment with, uh, two alligators on leashes. I just love sitting here and imagining the scene: someone comes up with this idea (let's have her standing at the edge of a swamp in a terrible wig and a hideous, convoluted swimsuit, and let's have her holding two alligators on leashes, and oh yeah stiletto heels) and a bunch of other people, tastemakers, people with money, say yes, let's do this; this captures what we are trying to do and convey with this album.

    Also! I am delighted to report that Beyonce uses the liner notes to announce her new line of clothing! This is too good not to quote verbatim:
    At the request of fans across the world, I am proud to introduce Dereon by House of Dereon, a younger more affordable clothing line for women. I am thrilled to present my sister, Solange, in our launch campaign for the Dereon collection. This new line means so much to our family as a representation of the next chapter in our love affair with style and fashion. We hope it will mean as much to you.

    Beyonce, kid, I don't want to break your heart--from your lyrics I can tell that you've been through a lot--but I don't think that I will ever, ever be as emotionally invested in the success of your new clothing line as you and your family are. I don't have a "love affair with style and fashion" so much as I have a "love affair with whiskey and bad decisions", and baby, our two worlds, they're just never going to meet, you know? Sorry.

    She's not kidding, though, when she mentions her family, because holy shit as I live and breathe the credits page is just thick with Knowleses. It's not nepotism if you've never heard of the word!

    Black Label Society - "Shot to Hell": From the promo sticker: "Zakk Wylde Returns!" Oh, Jesus, who is this guy? Why does his name seem so familiar?

    Oh, OK. He has been named "Best Metal Guitarist" and "Number 1 Shredder", and received the "Riff Lord" and "Golden God" awards. I--I sort of want to play Dungeons & Dragons, all of a sudden.

    I stole that information from this guy's Wikipedia entry, which, by the way, is fucking hilarious. The best part of any Wikipedia article is, of course, the Talk: page, in which people take shit very, very seriously, and just blather the hell out of each other in goofy back-and-forth sub-Usenet arguments that make me want to take the English language behind the woodshed with a tear in my eye and a shotgun in my hand. "Furrykef", for example, asks "Isn't the gear section a little excessive? I doubt even many guitarists are going to really care about every little thing Zakk Wylde uses" in prelude to his "cleaning it up a little", and gets this sparkling gem of a response:

    your damn right im lookin for one of the types of his guitars mabey that info could have been useful so dont be a butthole


    The cover of this album has some wrinkly old nuns shooting pool. And there's a skull on the 8-ball! I see nothing in his Wikipedia article about his ability to travel through time, so I am just left to assume that everything about Zakk Wylde stopped moving forward on July 21, 1986, the absolute last day in human history an image such as that I just described could be described as even remotely interesting, edgy, or entertaining.

    Cherish - "Unappreciated": Hey, ladies, you all have gold bracelets with your names spelled out in fancy script. Surely someone appreciates you! Surely you didn't buy those bracelets for yourselves! So stop whining.

    According to the liner notes, we have Jesus Christ to thank for this album. Big ups, Jesus. I'm sure it's great.

    Chingy - "Hoodstar": Chingy, I do not like your name. Please change it to something that doesn't set my fucking teeth on edge before I have to catalog another one of your albums. According to your Library of Congress authority file, your real name is Howard Bailey. It's a bit square, sure, but I'm sure you can do something fun with it. Thanks in advance!

    P.S. And Howard? You can get surgery for that. It's a simple outpatient procedure and relatively painless; you should look into it.

    Gloria Estefan - "Oye Mi Canto: Los Exitos": I'm still waiting for that Miami Sound Machine Unplugged disc.

    The Grascals - "Long List of Heartaches": I didn't really have anything unkind to say about this album--the cover photo features a bunch of goofy-looking guys, not exactly photogenic but extremely sincere, standing around in an alley (?) with their guitars. And then I saw the promo sticker, featuring a quote (which is repeated on the back of the album itself, just in case you somehow lose the sticker!) from Dierks Bentley, whom we established earlier is a douche.

    "One of my favorite new bands of any genre of music," he says. Well, sorry, anything you like cannot be good, and you've damned your friends the Grascals by association.

    The liner notes also contain a long-ass biography of the band. Hey, the Grascals. You're a new(ish) band. This sort of piece belongs in a career retrospective or best of release.

    Man, I'll tell you, I do feel a little bit like a heel for dogging on these guys. They look so fucking sincere in every photo! I hope they don't read this; I don't want them to be discouraged. It's just--come on, guys, tell Dierks Bentley to clean up his act and get a better haircut if you're going to keep palling around with him.

    Indigo Girls - "Despite Our Differences": Another one for the "they're still around?" file. They don't look so good. I don't mean that in a spiteful or shallow way; I'm not taking an easy shot, I just mean that they look unwell. Are they dying?

    I have known only two guys that have liked the Indigo Girls (outnumbering female fans of the band I've met 2-1). One of them was the editor of our school newspaper, the year that I worked on it; he visited New York City that year, too, and literally wet his pants a little from sheer excitement when he got to sit in Conan O'Brien's chair. I do not think he told anyone at the time. This was probably unhygenic for a few people in a few ways.

    The other one was a pretty good guy until he got to college, at which point he made several vigorous attempts to become an intolerable hipster douchebag before perfecting the recipe; if I'm not mistaken, his fondness for the Indigo Girls was sudden and surprising, because--surprise!--it was pretty much contrived and insincere and calculated to get girls into his dorm room (this did not work).

    Iron Maiden - "A Matter of Life and Death": The cool Tim Bradstreet cover cannot change the fact that this is an Iron Maiden album, and these guys are what? in their fifties? writing what I can only guess from the sheer lengths of them are prog-metal songs about war and valkyries and whatnot.

    Oddly enough, one of my earliest memories is a bit of Iron Maiden graffiti on a crumbling overpass near where we used to live. I have no idea why that stuck with me.

    Alan Jackson - "Like Red on a Rose": Do you think the imposing presence of his mustache has ever gotten him out of a fight? I like to think so. And I fucking hate moustaches.

    Jonny Lang - "Turn Around": I cannot believe how much this guy looks like a clean-cut, healthier Jandek. Oh, and according to the promo sticker, one song ("Thankful") features guest vocals from Michael McDonald, which means I could check this album out now, or I could just wait until my next fucking dental appointment.

    I just looked at the lyrics sheet and one song actually features CB lingo. In this day and age. Astonishing.

    Ludacris - "Release Therapy": I am going to tell you everything I know about Ludacris.

    1.) He released an album called "Chicken & Beer".
    2.) Bill O'Reilly can't stand him.

    Ludacris, I think we can hang out.

    Mannheim Steamroller - "Halloween 2: Creatures Collection": Okay, this is the funniest goddamned thing I have ever received in this capacity. Ever. I don't even know where to start with this amazing fucking thing so I am just going to start infodumping and let you piece it all together, because--

    - It's Mannheim Steamroller, a band whose music I have never seen for sale anywhere but in Hallmark stores

    - It's Mannheim Steamroller, a band whose music I believed to be entirely about / related to Christmas

    - It's a THREE-DISC HALLOWEEN PARTY PACK (the ultimate Halloween party experience)

    - A huge credit on the front cover in one of those free spooky fonts you download from Tripod sites with lots of animated GIFs and broken guestbook links states that the album was deranged by Chip Davis (that is as opposed to being arranged, GET IT?--you have to spell things out, sometimes, for people who buy Mannheim Steamroller albums)

    - The liner notes, without any sort of explanation whatsoever, feature a prose piece called "Creatures of the Night", which I am quoting verbatim (all spelling / punctuation / capitalization / third grade creative writing tropes are stet) here, because it makes no fucking sense, not a shred:

    It was a beautiful autumn Saturday. My two friends and I were taking our six kids for a morning stroll in the cool fall air. It was so unexpected when the sight of the shadow engulfed us in silence. The blue beam tickled at first and then we became conscious as an eerie sound protruded. We could see our kids below as they disappeared. It was beautiful ... it was scary ... I don't know where we are, but we are around a lot of creatures that look human ... Gotta go before my thoughts are read ... a mom.


    - Maybe the answers to my questions can be found on the DVD VIDEO, which features "Creatures of the Night" and "Creatures of the Night Dance Instructional Video". Oh yeah and the Monster Mash, because, you know, it's the Monster Mash. According to the back cover, the DVD VIDEO features "OVER HALF MILLION DOLLARS IN VIDEO!" Uh, yeah--show, don't tell, Mannheim Steamroller.

    - The front cover. The back cover.

    I, uh--should I check this out and watch it?

    The Mars Volta - "Amputechture": Because every day, somewhere, there is an 15-to-21-year-old male who is just pissed as hell about being kicked from an IRC channel.

    Paul McCartney - "Ecce Cor Meum": All right, McCartney, you pretentious, fading old gasbag, what the hell is this? Did you compose another opera? Because HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

    Who's buying these? Are they actually listening to them, or are they just Beatles obsessives who can't stand the idea of their shelves being somehow incomplete?

    New Found Glory - "Coming Home": I'd just like to remind my readers that The Delgados have broken up--they will never record another new song as a group--and these fucking bozos are still cranking out albums.

    You made this happen, America.

    Andre Rieu - "The Homecoming!": I don't have anything in particular to say about "The Homecoming!"; it's just that exclamation points in titles always, always give me the fucking giggles, and I have no idea why.

    As seen on PBS? You don't say! I'm actually a huge fan of public television, but let's be honest: out of one hundred CDs, you or I or anyone can pick out the one that was "seen on PBS". I think the last one to come through here was Celtic Woman. I mean, come on--Celtic Woman. Can I get a wolf howling atop a craggy cliff airbrushed onto my tote bag, please?

    (Alternate joke: can I get "blessed be" in a vaguely gaelic-looking font printing on my sweatshirt)

    Various Artists - "The Best of Miami Vice": WHO ASKED FOR THIS

    This album has Autograph on it.

    This album has Autograph on it. And Sheila E. and Glenn Frey and Foreigner and there is not enough cocaine in the world to justify the existence of this album, which, yes, I checked, does in fact have a copyright and publishing date of 2006.

    The liner notes actually have the goddamned hubris to state outright that Miami Vice was a direct influence on Homicide: Life on the Street. I just felt something like a bubble snap-pop in my brain, I think, and I can't move my left thumb

    Various Artists - "Grey's Anatomy Original Soundtrack, Volume 2": This show that I have never seen is "TV's sexiest medical drama", according to an ad for the DVD box set that fluttered out of the jewel case. I have heard--and I have no fucking idea how or where I heard this--that this show actually features some pretty good music. So I checked it out and goddamn if it isn't true: I see Saint Etienne and The Boy Least Likely To and Nouvelle Vague and Emiliana Torrini and oh god, my dearly beloved If Looks Could Kill and I Fought The Angels. What the hell?

    Oh, wait. None of these artists are represented on either of the two soundtrack albums released so far. Surprise!

    Clearly, someone somewhere has got some good taste; having said that, I do not think that I will start watching TV's sexiest medical drama. If I ever desperately need to hear these songs in a dramatic context, I can always just queue them up in Winamp and, I don't know, attempt to overdose on pills or something.

    George Strait - "It Just Comes Natural": I just wanted to remind everyone that George Strait has his own brand of dog food, and it is called, no shit, Strait Nutrition.

    Also Dick Van Patten once marketed a dog food called Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance and his face was in a little golden oval on every little can and oh my god Google seems to be telling me that it still exists. Many years ago, when this product debuted in stores, I showed it to my brother, who (a) laughed so hard that he threw up right in the middle of the pet aisle and (b) insisted that my mother buy him this can of dog food, so that he could look at it in the car on the way home and just laugh and laugh and laugh. That was pretty fucking great, so thanks, Dick Van Patten, for making my brother laugh until he threw up. That's probably the only time you've ever had that effect on anyone.

    Justin Timberlake - "Futuresex/Lovesounds": Have I ever said that someone has "the whitest name I have ever heard"? If I did, and I didn't say it about Justin Timberlake, I fucking take it back.

    The only good thing about this album is that some record critics are taking it and by extension him seriously, and that makes for fucking hilarious reading:

    "Here, Timberlake magnifies the persona he adopted on his debut, somehow both consummate lover and desperately needy. On hyperactive second single "My Love" his sexual propositions constantly elide into a proposal, as if anything less than matrimony is barely worth contemplating."

    Pitchfork reviewer Tim Finney, I am going to have to dock you a letter grade for not including a Works Cited page.

    Too $hort - "Blow the Whistle": Another artist who spells his name with a dollar sign! :D

    I actually thought that Too $hort was dead, but it turns out I was thinking of Eazy-E.

    When I was in seventh or eighth grade, I knew this guy, I think he was a sophomore or junior. Older, anyway. And he suffered from some weird and unspecified neurological problem, so that much of his body was all twisted up but not so much that it was entirely useless. He could walk around, just with a pronounced limp; he could talk, but through lips that were all screwed up in this strange mash of grin and scowl (sort of like if Billy Idol got splashed in the face with some of that toxic waste from the last big fight scene in Robocop). Anyway, this guy, before and after school and between classes, would just limp around the campus rapping (or, well, you know) Too $hort. I'd call it "inspiring" except it wasn't.

    Now that I think about it, I knew or knew of a lot of interestingly deformed people around that point in time. Is "deformed" considered a harsh word? I guess I'll find out after my inevitable scarring in a horrible car crash, what fortune tellers and God have referred to as the next big "who's laughing now" event!

    TV on the Radio - "Return to Cookie Mountain": I had to check, and yep, I fuckin' knew it--Vaughan Oliver!

    Is this band any good? Because I've heard good things and yeah, 4AD, and I want to like a band that drops a Super Mario World reference into one of their album titles, but I just have this strange suspicion that I will be terribly disappointed.

    Young Dro - "Best Thang Smokin'": This fellow, who appears to be very popular indeed with the ladies and presumably interior decorators (and yet he's not smiling in a single photograph! what could possibly be missing, Young Dro?), raises what I call the Sonic Youth Question, to wit:

    Is there ever going to be a point at which he self-consciously changes his name, or is this the rap equivalent of planned obsolescence?

    The last track is called "It Ain't Over", which is cute.

    As before, I am going to leaven the proceedings with some positivity:

    I have no idea how I came across Monkey Swallows the Universe, but their album "The Bright Carvings" is really good and really lovely. I listened to it about four or five times while writing this.

    Camera Obscura is another one of those "new to me" bands that I cannot stop listening to, especially their first album, and Tracyanne Campbell is goddamned adorable.

    Sorry, folks, but you do all get a burn from my goddamn hotness. You really do.

    And that's it, I'm fucking done. Oh god this was long. Gotta go before my thoughts are read ... a mom.
  • 12 September 2006 : Entry 30

    Set 12 2006, 18h03

    Celebrating thirty value-for-money, long-winded, largely ignored Last.FM journal entries!

    It's September, and the Compact Disc Source has played its crafty tricks again, gracing your correspondent with a grab bag of music to be cataloged and distributed to the local masses to pour directly into their thirsty tin ears. And I'm really beginning to believe that it's a grab bag, too--that there is simply no way that any one human being, or even a couple of dozy-headed ones working together, could make as many bad decisions as are evident every time one of these boxes appears at my desk. I hope that we--the library system--have decided to take the guesswork out of predicting the public's tastes, and have just subscribed to a vaguely themed package deal based, I guess, around our demographic, what we can afford, etc. Much like the cheap synthesizers I grew up playing around with (note: do not mistake a childhood spent occasionally fucking around with other people's electronics as anything, anything like a working knowledge of or aptitude for music. I don't even know what a time signature is but apparently they're pretty important, at least to a lot of music reviewers whom I'm guessing are either {a} themselves frustrated musicians or {b} just taken with the impressive sound of the word and not actually, you know, acquainted with what it means, how to use it, etc.), the ones that had preset backbeats and rhythms like "Calypso #4" and "Ska #2", the Compact Disc Source probably has standing order packages to suit various communities. We're subscribed to "Red State #3", which is tailor-made to suit white collar rednecks, poor ethnicky types, insufferable baby boomers, Bible-thumpin' culture warriors, and of course the horrible, impulsive, and generally ghastly teenaged spawn of all of these. It sounds like a pretty tricky balance to pull off, but believe me, spend a week down here, going with me on bleary-eyed and regret-soaked Sunday mornin' shopping trips to Wal-Mart, looking at stickers on the backs of pickup trucks, and otherwise just marinating in the local flavor, and you'll understand that there is actually a lot of overlap.

    All right. Let's roll up our sleeves (well, you can if you want; I am wearing a t-shirt) and get to work. Brace yourself: cultural immersion is at 100% and primary and secondary thrusters are go.

    Trace Adkins - "Dangerous Man": And oh, lord, right out of the gate and we are in a terrible place. How much can I say about these surly, tough-guy country musicians before I start repeating myself? The cover art (front and back, because apparently Trace Adkins just loves to be photographed, esp. while lookin' all grimy and threatening and almost thoughtful, even if the only thought he looks as though he's having or indeed ever has had is "I've had just about enough of that faggot bastard"; don't be coy, Trace, you're not fooling anyone--you can look at the camera, you know, there's no way you're convincing me that there's always something just above you and to your right that's more interesting than a big city photo shoot!) is black and white and features our star performer in a barn or machine shop or fuck, you know what? All these brown-collar locales sort of run together, especially when they're artfully blurred out of focus. I guess he's just Everyman--make that Every Dangerous Man!--and could be working anywhere, if by "working" you mean "lounging around". You know something, Trace, believe it or not, I've actually done hard physical labor in my life, and I know other people who have, as well, and you're not fucking fooling anybody: people who have actually just finishing working hard don't look fucking pissed off and what your little woman probably calls "smoldering". They look tired. Scowling is a luxurious expenditure of energy, you pampered dickhead.

    And now I know why I've heard of this awful bastard, thanks as always to the promo sticker on the wrapper:

    "Includes the hit single 'Swing' and the video mix of 'Honky Tonk Badonkadonk'"

    Let me state for the record right here that I fucking hate the word "badonkadonk". Like the Dodge Ram, it is an invention by and for assholes, and can be used to immediately spot and correctly assess them. I... I have had the misfortune of actually hearing this song, this "Honky Tonk Badonkatonk", and it's really not good at all. It's unpleasant. Painful to listen to. It takes the name "Donkey Kong" in vain. The circumstances, too, surrounding my having heard this song are really too painful to recount; it was a weird and serious night and I had drank enough to tolerate the situation but not enough to truly enjoy it. I may have said bad things to the wrong people. I may have chosen words poorly and ended up in a place I did not actually want to be. What was it Oscar Wilde said about being talked about, again?

    Enough. The song is bad and I'm sure that the "video mix" (what is it? shorter? fortified with more repetitions of the chorus? does anybody in this target market actually care about any of these things beyond seeing the words "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk" on the sticker and making that impulse purchase--gawdamn, can't wait fer Krystle to come over on Friday night so we c'n put this on and git rowdy--?) is just as bad, if not maybe more so; wouldn't the "video mix" pare the song down to its most appealing (again, I'm talking about the sensibilities of the target market, which are wrong) elements and thereby make it even more intolerable? I'm guessing the other tracks on this disc are pretty bad, too. One song, "Fightin' Words", makes it clear that if you say anything bad about America, the American flag, or, uh, his dog, then "you'll see a side of me, man / that I think you don't wanna". Good to know!

    One last tidbit from the inside back cover of the liner notes:

    Trace supports the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN).

    ...the fuck? I guess we'll finally stop seeing ugly scenes like this one:
    A: "Come on, you sissy faggot, have a sip of my delicious banana-strawberry protein smoothie."
    B: "Ah cain't. Ah got food allergies."
    C: "Yeah, come on, let him alone, he's right. Remember that website we looked at the other night? From Trace Adkins' liner notes to 'Dangerous Man'?"
    A: "Aw, hell, I forgot all 'bout that. Look, I apologize, brah. Next time I'll try n' remember the words of David from childfoodallergy.com: food allergies are 'a serious issue that needs to be taken seriously'."


    Christina Aguilera - "Back to Basics": The promo sticker, ladies and gentlemen:

    One woman.
    One voice.
    Two CDs.

    One cataloger who doesn't give a rolling shit.

    The cover art deliberately evokes old albums and is actually, I hate to admit, pretty nice. "It's nice to see she's not doing the schizophrenic homeless cyborg slut look anymore", I thought to myself. Then I opened up the album and well, never mind, she's the same old trainwrecky herpes lesion. She's actually got a song on here called "Save Me From Myself"--as Orson Welles once incredulously asked, "do you really mean that?"

    Breaking Benjamin - "Phobia": Breaking Benjamin are in denial about a few things.

    -That the name of their band isn't impossibly precious

    -That Serious Dudes hang out in drained swimming pools

    -That their lyrics aren't the sort of ninth-grade embarrassment that makes the language centers of my brain want to garrote each other in a suicide sympathy pact

    -That any song, these days, is really and truly "available" for a limited time, as the promo sticker claims about the acoustic version of "The Diary of Jane" (a song exemplifying the aforementioned bad lyrics and actually includes the word "NO!" with an exclamation point and capitals as an entire verse

    -That any of their fans will actually know what the word "exemplifying" means and get all indignant up in this piece

    -That anyone would really want or use a Breaking Benjamin MasterCard

    Yes, really. I have no fucking words for this. This band can sort of go and fuck themselves.

    Postscript: Oh, god, I remember why I have heard this fucking name before. WWE Smackdown vs. Raw. I had forgotten because the very first thing I do if a video game features hot hits from today's top artists is go to the menu screen and disable that shit immediately.

    Caribbean Jazz Project (featuring Dave Samuels) - "Mosaic": Und noch einmal, meine Damen und Herren, das Promosticker:

    Grammy(R) Award winning CARIBBEAN JAZZ PROJECT again serves notice that they are among the most thoroughly inventive Latin jazz ensembles of this, or any, era.

    Jesus Christ, guys, I've got a sweet tooth for hyperbole and I like what I see, but let's turn it up just a little bit:

    Grammy(R) Award winning CARIBBEAN JAZZ PROJECT again serves notice that they will come to your house and yell at your mom and put their feet on the furniture if you don't acknowledge how thoroughly inventive they are, because they are goddamn it and you're a fucking yutz for not already having known, and oh yeah, Grammy(R) Award winning CARIBBEAN JAZZ PROJECT will be checking your CD racks and mp3 folders to make sure you have their entire thoroughly inventive back catalog and that you fucking paid for it, you douche.

    That is how we serve notice in America, you fucking busboys.

    The Cheetah Girls - "The Cheetah Girls 2": This possible surface of this album and its liner notes and god, everything, is covered in cheetah print. This fucking thing needs to come with a goddamned epilepsy warning.

    There's not a lot I can say about fictional pre-fab bands putting out album after album, but I will state that (a) at least the Monkees had the balls to perform under their own names and, you know, actually put out some really good songs and (b) I think it's really brave of The Disney Channel and Walt Disney Records to hand-pick and put together a girl group as relentlessly homely as The Cheetah Girls. That sends a positive message to our little girls: no matter how ugly or unappealing or untalented you are, if you really try and believe in yourself, you may one day appear in a Game Boy Advance game.

    Billy Ray Cyrus - "Wanna Be your Joe": Billy Ray Cyrus, is that a soul patch I see? And did you draw it on with magic marker?

    This album has a song called "The Man (Tribute to Dale Earnhardt)". It's 2006, and that idiot redneck, lionized among his kind for intimidating(R) his opponents driving like an asshole, has been dead for years, and you are just cashing in and this album, by extension, is no better than any other of the tacky Earnhardt memorabilia for which there seems to be a bottomless appetite. It's a savvy move, Cyrus, as bottomless appetites and Earnhardt fans seem to go hand-in-hand, if the occasional visit I've made to all-you-can-eat buffets here in Dirt Clod U.S.A. are any indication; I can't recall how many gleaming white 3s I've seen stretched over bellies that would make diamond smugglers literally weep with envy.

    And oh god there is a bonus track called "A Pain in the Gas" and oh god it is actually about gas prices and oh god I might just shoot myself in the brains right fucking now if this quote from Fox News ([url=]Google cache) is accurate:

    "Look for a 'hidden' track on the album called 'Pain in the Gas' that Billy Ray wrote while he was watching our very own FOX News Channel. The chorus goes: 'Blame Bin Laden or Sudan/Iraq or Iran/All I know is this hurtin’ just won’t pass/There seems to be a real pain in my gas.' Now that’s a song everyone can identify with all over the USA!"

    You know what else "everyone can identify with all over the USA"? Voluntary auto-castration. Look into it.

    Pat Green - "Cannonball": Oh, look, it's Texas Songwriter Pat Green, as seen on like three million white t-shirts in College Station, Texas. I rib Pat Green, but he's what Bill O'Reilly would call a smart operator: he knows that Jimmy Buffett is going to die one day.

    Sammy Hagar And The Wabos - "Livin' It Up!": Fuck you, Sammy Hagar, for being on the beach when I am not, as seen in your ridiculous cover art (I guess the beach and a lounge chair and a doughy scruffy guy with an open shirt is the visual equivalent of livin' it up, although I would have thought you'd have a couple of Coronas or something half-buried in sand to round out the image). Fuck you, Sammy Hagar, for being Sammy Hagar:

    Raise the Flag! Let it wave /
    Shoot them down to their graves, yeah /
    Spread the news for all to hear /
    We've come to fight, let's make that clear

    And no, he's not being ironic.

    Paris Hilton - "Paris": Yes, we did. The library system bought this fucking album. According to the invoice, we paid $15.38 for it.

    Paris Hilton, you are the human equivalent of an open sore. You are smallpox; you are dysentery; you are SIDS. You are to America what diarrhea is to a baptismal fount. The only thing I'd pay even a goddamned dime for with your vile fucking name on it would be a pay-per-view screening of you having your teeth extracted slowly, painfully, and ground glass being rubbed into your gums, just to see if you actually change facial expressions from "disgusted disdain" for even one fucking moment. Your CD comes with an ad for a fragrance, handbags, wristwatches, and ringtones, all of which bear your name, despite the fact that you have never done a single creative thing in your entire life. The only thing interesting about you is how you are of literally no interest to me and yet millions of people pay good money to follow behind you, dutifully picking up your leavings, vomiting the stink and effluvia of your unearned fame and unearned dollars and very questionable visual appeal back and forth into each other's mouths. I would not piss on you if you were on fire; I would not shit into your mouth if you were starving. You showed the world that stereotypes were made to be defied when you showed us a blonde, empty-headed, moneyed slut who cannot actually competently perform fellatio. You're the big lie, you're wish fulfillment for capitalists: we cannot all be born into money, but maybe one day, if we work hard enough and sacrifice everything at the altar of greed and gain, we can one day be the chubby, wealthy, unappealing piece of bottom-feeding shit that, over the course of a few weeks, gets to fuck a smug idiot socialite. You have never known a consequence for your actions, not ever; your life will never, except through the grace of a god I only occasionally believe in on special occasions such as this one, be "hard" or "bad"; your concepts of "pain" and "suffering" and "unhappiness" are so fucking rarified that it's a small wonder you don't breathe pure nitrogen gas. You have a song called "Jealousy" on "your" album, of course you fucking do, you cash money planarian, because that is your twitch-response to any criticism or any concept that may cause the vestigial gooey fuck-cluster at the top of your hideous spine even a moment's discomfort or cognitive dissonance, that everyone who doesn't "get it", get you, must simply be jealous, despite the fact that this world is full of good and selfless and truly hard-working people that would choose suicide rather than trading lives with you, even with all the fucking trimmings. You couldn't be emptier if you were designed by astronomers. I hate you; I wish you and everything you've touched to be fucking obliterated.

    Money can be used to alleviate suffering, and yet there is nothing short of a fucking conspiracy to shovel heartbreakingly vast amounts of the stuff into the furnace of her fame and her vanity and her selfishness.

    Or I could have just typed the word "CUNT" 1,000 times. Whichever.

    Los Lonely Boys - "Sacred": The Los Lonely Boy with the long hair actually makes me sort of ashamed to have long hair. He looks like he spends a lot of time in front of the mirror, and takes himself very seriously, and frankly, I don't want to be associated with him or anyone like that.

    At first glance, I thought the name of this album was "Scared", and I really actually liked the juxtaposition of the words "lonely" and "scared", and thought it was sort of a ballsy and interesting move for a band that I'd considered sort of mainstream and safe and boring and that pitches Pepsi. But oh wait, never mind, it's actually "sacred" and here are a bunch of Serious pictures of Los Lonely Boys hanging out in / around a church, looking moody--

    Current mood: lonely :(
    Current music: Los Lonely Boys of course ;)

    Ladies! Will no one step up to the challenge and love Los Lonely Boys?!

    Mana - "Amar Es Combatir": These guys look pretty douchey--not Hinder-level douchey, but pretty goddamned douchey, and the little glossy square inside the CD case that says I can "access Mana content whenever you want with Sprint Power Vision" seems to bear out that initial assessment, and I can't make heads or tails of the liner notes (a huge thick booklet of them, speaking of value for money) because, you know, Spanish, and in fact the only reason I'm bringing it up is to say that I really like their cover art on a very superficial and libidinous level, even though I'm perfectly aware that it's cliched.

    Outkast - "Idlewild": I uh

    This album has the entire track listing printed twice on two huge promo stickers on the front and back on the wrapper and nowhere else. And the liner beneath the transparent CD tray has, um, an ad for a pitbull breeder.

    I just don't know about you, Outkast

    The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus - "Don't You Fake It": Oh, man, I thought prog-rock bands had some terrible fucking names, and this is coming from someone who actually liked prog rock; I'm probably the only person in this state that owns a Magma t-shirt. Anyway, let's start listing off their other crimes, like that great scene in Robocop after the huge shootout in the cocaine factory, when Robocop is throwing Boddicker through all those windows:

    1. Their Myspace URL is on the liner notes and on the disc surface itself.
    2. The very first lyrics (at least I assume they're lyrics; I'm not listening to this fucking album) are "Seventeen is just a Test, and I would recommend that you live w/no regrets". It's like someone sat down and crafted a huge rumbling machine that does nothing but churn out formulaic attempts at make out songs. "Come on, baby," he said, fumbling with the buttons on her blouse, "let's live with no regrets." Ugh.
    3. A URL "to join the RJA street team". Have I ever told you about how much I hate "street teams"? Once upon a time, some fucking genius said "you know the downside to viral marketing?" and his little toady friend said "um, nothing?" and the fucking genius said "uh, no, stupid, it's that it's not nearly pushy enough", et voila, the "street team" was born, and the two colleagues went downtown and drank $50 martinis and capped their evening by sodomizing a pair of doped-up seventeen-year-olds in tandem (seventeen is just a Test, after all!).
    4. A band member named "Duke". Oh, tee hee hee.
    5. A special thanks to the fans that, and I quote, "bought our merch".
    6. The other idiotic thanks on the last page: Elias thanks "the haters ... for the motivation". Joey thanks Mountain Dew!
    7. They. All. Have. The. Same. Haircut. I think they probably all shower together in the morning, using the same shampoo, then get out, towel dry each other off, and then stand in a line to the right of a huge fan that blows their hair into the exact same configuration.
    8. One of the band members looks to be about thirteen. Another one looks like a forty-year-old college English professor. I do not know which of you serious dudes to crush upon--oops, did I just end a sentence with a preposition? I guess I've just ruled out one of them :(

    Rick Ross - "Port of Miami": His name is actually spelled with dollar $ign$! I don't have too much to say about this, except that it's produced by our old friends, The Carter Administration, and I'd just like to restate that it's good to see ex-Cabinet members and politicos doing something with their lives post-White House other than the usual lecture circuit / autobiography thing. It's good to see older people represented in modern hip-hop, even if it's only behind the boards; we haven't seen the Centrum Silver generation on the mic since, I believe, the 2 Live Jews, and I think it's time for that to change.

    Also, there's a song on this album called "Where My Money (I Need That)". I fucking love the parenthetical aside at the end of the song title; it turns it from a typically grouchy song about money (where is it, he wants it, tell him where it is, etc.) into almost a plaintive and pathetic request. "Where my money?" I can hear Rick Ross saying. "I need that, you know, for groceries and rent and insulin and shit. Come on, quit playin', where my money? I need that. I need my money. Where it."

    Jessica Simpson - "A Public Affair": I'm glad Jessica Simpson could take time out from her busy schedule of appearing on the cover of every supermarket tabloid, every week, without fucking fail, for the past three goddamned years, to release an album. She's famous for singing, right? Is that what she did, originally? Sing songs? I really don't have any fucking idea anymore.

    Oh and get this, folks, there's a little card in the CD and I am just going to quote it because it's a fucking mind-boggling concept:


    Get a personalized MP3 just for you with your name "custom cut" into the lyrics.

    Holy shit. It's like those kiosks at the mall that will put your kid's face onto a t-shirt or mug or into a storybook, only one step further. I didn't think it was possible for the mainstream music industry to come right out and admit any more plainly that they sell nothing but image and wish fulfillment and the "music", such as it is, is only ancillary, the soundtrack to whatever sticky greedy little daydreams the buyer chooses for him or herself. But there you go; this is why I am a cataloger with lower back pain and not a fabulously wealthy music industry hotshot who could probably actually have a few people killed before anyone even thought about indictment. I really hope to start finding some of these "custom cuts" in people's Soulseek folders, because oh man, a collection of them would be hilarious, like those huge spinners of personalized license plates you see in gift shops, only tackier.

    If I were to buy this CD, I would have, in one fell swoop, more photographs of Jessica Simpson than I do of my own mother. It's just that vain.

    There's a song called "Push Your Tush" on here and I'm thinking about Jessica Simpson, Hansel and Gretel, and a literal interpretation of the title.

    Various Artists - "Broken Bridges": Oh, so Toby Keith, he's starring in a fucking movie, now? And he's actually holding a folded American flag right on the fucking over, too--Wow, between his Broken Bridges ("a fading country music star returns to his hometown, where he reunites with his childhood sweetheart and also meets his 16-year-old daughter for the first time") and John Cena starring in The Marine ("a Marine returns from battle to find that his girlfriend is ensnared in a kidnapping plot"), fans of dramatic cinema ought to be weeping tears of joy. As laughable as the idea of Toby Keith acting, even as a "fading country music star", really and truly is, it is nothing compared to the little something extra included in this CD. Let's check the promo sticker:

    Win a chance to be in a Toby video and drive off in a new Ford F-150!

    Yes, and do you know how you win that chance? By redeeming your Toby Buck. I scanned this myself. I have held it in my hand. I still cannot fucking believe it. How does Toby Keith look himself in the mirror?

    ANSWER: He doesn't, it is covered with American flag stickers and provides no reflection whatsoever. Toby Keith keeps, at great personal expense, a personal groomer, hygienist, and stylist on twenty-four-hour standby.

    Toby Keith, your face is on a fucking Toby Buck that came with the soundtrack of your fucking movie. You are not blue collar. You are not working class. You are not good old ordinary folks. You're a brand, you're fucking product. You can squint into the distance and make all the pig-headed, belligerent, and xenophobic comments you like, but I know damn well that they're as carefully and expensively crafted as an anchorman's hairpiece.

    Steely Dan - "The Definitive Collection": You'd think a band named after a dildo in a William S. Burroughs novel would, you know, be more interesting.

    Nancy Wilson - "Turned to Blue": Oh, sweetie, don't get your cover photo taken at Glamour Shots. You look old enough to know better.

    And that's it--I made it through once again. I'll leave you with some positivity:

    1.) bitterandrew, a good friend of mine, maintains an mp3 blog called Armagideon Time that you should really be reading. It's regularly updated and he's been at it for a while, now, seeking out and reporting upon "wonder and novelty", so there are plenty of archives to comb through. Andrew's got a seemingly bottomless bag of interesting and wonderful things, and it's all wrapped in some really crackling writing. Check it out.

    2.) Nanook of the North have put out but one album, "The Taby Tapes". I just discovered it last week and it may well be my favorite new (to me) album of the year. It is absolutely beautiful and a couple of the songs ("Karin Boye's Grave" and "Forget It, Jenny, Love is Just a Privilege For the Rich"--which, by the way, may be one of the greatest song titles ever) are as perfect as I could hope to hear. Again I ask: Sweden, why are you so good to my ears?

    3.) My best friend in the world, the internet's Mia D, set up a LiveJournal feed for my writing here at Last.FM. Which was incredibly nice of her, I thought.
  • 23 August 2006 : Entry 29

    Ago 23 2006, 16h13

    Oh, good, it's the library's August 2006 standing order from The Compact Disc Source. Let's dig right in, shall we?

    Marc Anthony - "Sigo Siendo Yo": For the cover, the photographer has put him in a dim room, sat him up against a wall (nice paint job, by the way—how many sixteen-year-old girls' bedrooms did you go through before you settled on that one?), and told him to "look like you've got a lot to think about, Marc Anthony".

    (Marc Anthony is one of those people whom, no matter how long or how well you know them, is always addressed by their full name. I am well aware that "Marc Anthony" is probably a stage name; that means, then, that this was almost certainly a calculated bid for some sort of relevance through semantic resonance by Marc Anthony or his handlers. Wait—can I even talk that way about a "multi-platinum and Grammy award winner"? There's a sticker on the jewel case—not on the wrapper, mind, but on the actual fucking jewel case—that has about two hundred and fifty fucking words in 8-point type about how great Marc Anthony [I keep typing his name as "Marc Another", for some reason] is and all the songs that are on this, his "new" greatest hits album [clearly, one was not enough, not for this multi-platinum and Grammy award winner]. I started this day with a fucking headache and it looks like I'll be ending it with one.)

    Unfortunately, the photographer did not tell Marc Anthony to lose the awful fucking facial hair: his mustache looks as though one of those fuzzy-wuzzy caterpillars with a filthy asshole had slowly and luxuriously dragged its way across his upper lip, especially in that no doubt carefully crafted mood lighting. Awful.

    Rodney Atkins - "If You're Going Through Hell": If you're in this for the schadenfreude, I'm pretty sure you can stop reading after I finish with this CD, because this just might be the worst fucking cultural artifact I've ever held in my hands. All right, fine—within recent memory, then. I'm pretty sure I want a piece of heavy machinery to fall on this guy and crush his brains and kill him instantly. The first two songs are called "These Are My People" and "About The South"; I guessed instantly that, oh boy, here we go, it's another faux-heartfelt, just-plain-folks love letter to / endorsement of a shitty and stupid and inglorious way of life.

    And I was fucking right. Taking a look inside the liner notes—something I actually rarely do when kissing off these ridiculous fucking albums—I discovered that the lyrics aren't printed inside. No, Rodney has something far better in store for us: each song has a short paragraph about his dumb fucking country lifestyle or his dumb fucking friends and experiences or, most jaw-droppingly wonderful, how great the song is. Let me quote at random!:

    "Everybody says he was a good ol' boy, farmer, fighter, hunter, and fisherman."
    Yes, there exist in this world, in this country, hell, probably not fifty fucking feet from where I sit people who think the words "fighter" and "hunter" are not merely nouns but units of praise.

    "the snuff dippinest cowboy I ever met"
    Of all the cowboys you've met, Rodney—oh, and I'm sure you've met dozens and dozens—this one is the snuff dippinest. Rodney, I am a man of many horrible tastes and terrible vices and even I think "dippin' snuff" is the most disgusting goddamned habit or practice that persists in this, the twenty-first fucking century. Did I grow up to get a jetpack? No, I grew up to live among atavistic throwbacks who know, deep down and in a way they'd certainly never be able to vocalize, exactly what sort of image spitting every five fucking seconds projects, and embrace it anyway. Cowboys do love to catch glances of themselves in reflective surfaces and think, yeah, all right, I'm rocking the surly menace.

    "We heat our house with firewood I cut from the woods."
    No, you don't. If you're going to tell a lie like this, don't do it on a glossy page that features a big photograph of yourself wearing a phony, pre-distressed t-shirt advertising some stereotypically folksy and actually non-existent "stock car race" that you bought at the fucking mall, and be extra certain, Rodney, that that t-shirt doesn't show off your arms, which look to be about the same size and color as mine, because I sure as fucking hell don't go out cutting fucking firewood from the woods on a regular basis or, you know, ever.

    "Just let the chorus sink in, it's real."
    At least Rodney or his fucking ghostwriter had the good sense not to say this about a song he wrote. Still, it's a hell of a thing to say about your own recorded performance. "It's real"—after all the smoke you've blown up our asses heretofore, you pretend to be so moved, so fucking awestruck by the chorus that all you can say about it is that "it's real". If you'll allow me:

    Colours of the world

    Spice up your life

    Every boy and every girl

    Spice up your life

    People of the world

    Spice up your life

    That's from "Spice Up Your Life" by the Spice Girls. Just let that chorus sink in, it's real.

    "It's different from any thing else on the album, but the purpose of this whole album is to be real. I think in real life we have to make hard decisions."
    Oh, you do? Is that what you think? About real life and hard decisions? Are hard decisions real, Rodney? Do you have to let hard decisions sink in, Rodney, because they're so real in real life, Rodney? Jesus Fucking Christ. Is 9 AM too early for my nose to be bleeding like this?

    "I've received thousands of emails about this song."

    He also tells a little story about how his first girlfriend's dad deliberately intimidated him with a gun, and how great that was. I am not fucking kidding you.

    Blue October - "Foiled": The sticker (on the wrapper—for future reference, this is how it's done, Marc Anthony) says that this album "features the #1 single, 'Hate Me'". It's no fun when they make it this easy. Oh, and according to WLUM Milwaukee, "Justin sucks you in and spits you out... leaving you wanting more!" I have embraced and abused some pretty fucking tenuous metaphors in my time, WLUM Milwaukee, and yet I can say that I have absolutely no goddamned idea what that is supposed to mean. I've never even heard of this band, WLUM Milwaukee, so throw me a bone, here. Are they good? Will I be mad at Justin for sucking me in, spitting me out, and leaving me wanting more? Will this whole sucking / spitting process be sort of awkward considering Justin's brother Jeremy (Justin and Jeremy. I sort of want to slap their mother and father) is in the band and will probably be watching?

    According to Wikipedia, "[t]he Band's name is based on the skin colour of the Smurfs and the month (October) in which they were created in." This is even stupider than my original assumption, that it was just a retarded play off of the well-known and versatile cultural reference "Red October". But no, it's something to do with the Smurfs. Justin and Jeremy were sitting around in their breakfast nook thinking up band names and settled, after what must have been a grueling, lightning-streaked brainstorm session, on something to do with the fucking Smurfs. This band must really rock, you guys!

    Busta Rhymes - "The Big Bang": Featuring the single "I Love My B****". That's adorable.

    And I don't know about you, but the tougher Busta Rhymes tries to look—you know that face he makes in photos and such, the whole squinty / "trying to decide whether or not to beat you within an inch of your life" face—the more I just want to sit him down on a square of carpet in the corner with a coloring book and pat him on the head and chart his progress and tell his mom that in six months, he'll probably be reading at a first grade level and behaving appropriately for the classroom.

    John Coltrane - "The Impulse Story": Why we are sending this album to the whitest, shit-kickingest, snuff-dippinest branch in the entire fucking library system, I have absolutely no idea. I am talking about the branch that has a fucking boot scraper next to the entrance; a branch where tractors can be routinely seen in the parking lot; a branch antonymous with "civilization"; a branch that looks like nothing so much as the Fisher-Price My First Library, right down to the rounded corners and primary colors; a branch that serves a population better known for its consumption of Chilton manuals and Time-Life / Reader's Digest "best of patriotic / country / inspirational" genre discs.

    I'm beginning to think that these assignments might be made somewhat at random!

    DMX - "Year of the Dog... Again": This, too, is going to play real well in the sticks. I know that this is going to be a good album, though, because it has three executive producers and one co-executive producer, and they all have cool-sounding nicknames in quotation marks between their first and last names. Wait—how exactly do you end up with a nickname like "Waah", anyway? Did everyone sort of sit down and agree on the spelling beforehand, or did "Waah" not even really like the nickname at first (I mean, come on, I wouldn't; I've named myself after a fucking action figure from over twenty years ago and even I have more sense and dignity than that) but finally just sort of give in and accept it, and say, "look, fine, people, you wanna call me 'Waah', then let's fucking do this, but we're doing it right and we're not going to spell it ninety-six different fucking ways; it's 'w', two 'a's, and an 'h', period."

    Rappers are bigger sticklers for correct spelling, in their own way, than you might imagine at first blush. The preceding sentence is only actually true in the fabulous world of my imagination, which you may correctly assume to be full of low-hanging fruit.

    I sort of want to drive DMX's car: it has plush tiger-stripe upholstery, a chain-link steering wheel, and fuzzy dice. I bet that car can travel through time if you believe hard enough.

    Rocio Durcal - "Amor Eterno: Los Exitos": Hey, the promo sticker (right on the case, again—what is it with these Spanish language artists?) is entirely in Spanish. ¿Can I translate it with only the Spanish I've learned from a lifetime of giggling at Galavision?

    "All the sentiment and magic of her voice! Including the hits: 'Eternal Love', 'Who's Your Woman', 'The Desert Cat (?!) Something Something'..."

    Clearly the answer is no.

    Grupo Montez de Durango - "Borron Y Cuenta Nueva": This band is nine guys all wearing matching cowboy hats and bowling shirts with the name of the band and what I can only assume is their logo (what the hell is that? a scorpion standing on a cow's skull?) embroidered on them. They have a band uniform. And they are "como lo vio en TV", just like Patrulla 81!

    Hinder - "Extreme Behavior": Front cover: Oh, hey, tits! Back cover: Oh, hey, five of the biggest douchebags I have ever seen. I think these are the same guys that are always making trouble at Sbarro, taking more than their fair share of free samples by just circling the food court over and over, and sneering at the girl behind the counter whenever she works up the nerve to say something to them about it. I hate those guys. I don't care how good this album is (and I doubt very, very much that it is at all even brushing against the word "good" as it walks down the hallway heading towards FUCKING AWFUL and TOTALLY UNCOOL), I would eat this fucking compact disc before I put it into a player. I hate everything about this band and the people in it. This hate, apparently, extends to its fans: let's check in on their Last.FM "shoutbox"!

    "dragosflueraru said: I knew these guys since they came out...man their amazing...nowtheir getting some popularity..getting on the radio..its awesome...hinder faucking rocks"

    "Stumpflower said: they're not emo you gay fags"

    "morphinexkiss said: i'm not normally into, what some may call, mainstream rock bands, but i am really starting to love hinder. lips of an angel IS amazing."

    "jaydeath said: People underestimate this band a lot, eventhoug i dont like mainstream this is an AMAZING well made "rock" album.the lyrics are realy weird and realy 80`s. love it."

    Hey, guys, if I cut off your hands, will you promise not to buy voice recognition software?

    Ice Cube - "Laugh Now, Cry Later": The promo sticker promises "STRICTLY O.G. CONTENT!" I love the thought of someone, some ambitious producer or guest star trying to bring non-O.G. Content to this album and Executive Producer Ice Cube having to be all strict with them, tell them sorry, but no way, under no circumstances will this album contain anything but O.G. Content, and if you want to push the issue, fine, you can do it from your room without supper.

    I was going to make a joke about Ice Cube trying too hard now that he's become Cuddly and Family-Friendly, and once you walk down that road, as any number of once edgy and relevant comedians can testify, you really can't go back. But the image of Ice Cube actually walking into this cubicle and yelling WHO'S FAMILY FRIENDLY NOW, BITCH and then knocking me out with a single punch is surprisingly convincing, so I think I'm just going to skip it. Yes, I believe Ice Cube would actually punch a librarian. I truly would be laughing now and crying later! OOOH DID YOU SEE HOW I BROUGHT IT BACK AROUND LIKE THAT

    Journey - "Greatest Hits": Oh come on, do we really have to do this?

    The other night, I was playing Journey's awful arcade game in MAME while listening to the Pogues' "Fairytale of New York" on repeat. As jarring and ultimately unsatisfying an experience as that was (I later opted for the more appropriate and officially approved activity of "staring at the wall and drinking whiskey while listening to the Pogues' "Fairytale of New York" on repeat), I'm sure it's infinitely preferable to actually listening to this album, reading its "16 page full color scrapbook-style booklet", cataloging it, touching it, writing about it for my stupid Last.FM journal, etc.

    Robert Earl Keen - "Live at the Ryman": This album has a song called "Farm Fresh Onions", and on the track listing, the 'O's in "onions" are actually little hand-drawn onions, and the onions have little smiley faces.

    That is wonderful. Robert Earl Keen is now officially exempt from my abuse forever.

    Cheyenne Kimball - "The Day Has Come": Oh, look, Dolores Haze put out an album, "featuring the hit single 'Hanging On' (theme from her MTV series CHEYENNE". Ugh. But but but -


    Apparently I have to go to some website and put in some code and then Cheyenne and I are totally Best Friends Forever and I will get "things like special fanclub-only songs, exclusive video diaries, and lots more"; I am hoping "lots more" implies "exclusive masturbation rights" because I am sort of a jealous guy about that sort of thing! Also I'd better act quick, because I only have until December 31st of this year to jump on board for the big win! I've never actually joined an official fan club before, much less gotten a free membership to one, so I am actually a little nervous! Is there some sort of etiquette I'm meant to follow here? How soon is too soon to start mailing her my hair, fingernail clippings, collages, etc.?

    Pimp C - "Pimpalation": No one told Pimp C (Pimps A and B were deemed unsuitable for release and were euthanized in the lab) that the title of this album sounds unfortunately dermatological. This album is going to suck fucking balls to catalog, because of course Pimp C has invited like nine thousand of his dumb douchey friends (including the ridiculously named "Chamillionaire"—just looking at that un-word does to my brain what Kurtwood Smith did to Peter Weller in the first ten minutes of Robocop) to be on the album, so every fucking goddamned track is "featuring" at least two people, all of whom I'm going to have to type in and why and arrrrgh

    Pimp C is no match for Drinker X.

    Soul Asylum - "The Silver Lining": I had no idea that this band was even still together.

    I am pretty sure that Soul Asylum, Gin Blossoms, Screaming Trees, and Urge Overkill are all the same band. It's just a hunch. The only thing I actually know for a fact about Soul Asylum is that, in ninth grade, there was a girl whose breasts looked absolutely marvelous in one of their t-shirts. Check it out—I'm old!

    Various Artists - "Now That's What I Call Music! 22": You know how Max Payne basically killed his way through about two thousand people in the process of bringing down a group of apocalyptic drug-dealing corporate sociopaths? Replace the word "drug" with "Now That's What I Call Music!" and you basically have a snapshot of my daydreams.

    Yung Joc - "New Joc City": You just know his mom is yelling at him to quit messing around with his no-good friends and get his skinny ass home for supper. Yung Joc also has his name ("Yung Joc", not his birth name, which is apparently Jasiel Robinson and not nearly as cool) all over his clothes: it's on his sleeves, on his chest, on his shoes, etc. Why doesn't everybody do this? Everybody should just make up a name for themselves—if you're reading this, you've probably already done it—and then just splatter it all over with clothes without the faintest care for symmetry or style, a reckless epileptic's spasm of self-love.

    There's an ad for Sean John sneakers inside this CD; the tagline is "luxury feels better" and actual gleaming points of light have been photoshopped onto the shoe. As much as I hate Sean "Puffy" Combs—and I do, you know I do and you know you do, as well—I have to admit that he must be very, very clever to have manipulated his target market into seeing his endless series of cynical and egotistical cash grabs as admirable.

    That's it for now, kids; back into hiding I go.
  • 16 June 2006: Entry 28

    Jun 16 2006, 15h36

    My top ten artists, and how I found them. If this is already a meme that's going around, I apologize in advance for what will no doubt be a tired rehash of the shit you've doubtlessly read and re-read elsewhere. The thing is: I got to thinking, recently, about the webs of influence we spin in the lives of other people, either accidentally or by design. Music is such an integral part of my life - as it no doubt is for most other people my age; I'm not making any claims to unique conceit, here, and I know that there are people who love and consume and dissect music with a totality of passion that blinds and humbles my own. Sometimes these people are even tolerable - and it's worth taking a moment to think about how I have come about my musical favorites (how I, or anyone else, really, come about their tastes, though - why they like what they end up liking - good heavens, that is just way beyond the scope of a dumb journal entry and certainly more complex and more interesting than I'm capable of being, right now, and in any event would require a thorough [auto]biography to even attempt - I can't give an example of why, though, without giving too much of myself away).

    1.) Lush. My top band, according to the statistics collected by this site, and I am here to confirm this conclusion. I first heard of Lush back when "Ladykillers" broke the States - of course, they'd been around much longer than that, but had always (despite having already put out a few albums and having toured the U.S. repeatedly, including once with Lollapalooza) been underneath my radar. I honestly thought that they were a "new" band at the time, much as I'm sure most casual music fans did. I also didn't care too much for them. At the time, among my favorite bands were Big Black, the Jesus Lizard, Nine Inch Nails, and god - what else? I didn't have a lot of time for what was being called "Britpop", despite a big secret crush on Justine Frischmann out of Elastica, and even less time (if you can imagine!) for the people I saw listening to Britpop, who were only marginally more tolerable than Beck fans.

    This was also around the same time mp3 files were first making waves on the Internet. This was when you could find huge, web-based, free repositories of mp3s with a simple AltaVista search. And "Ladykillers" had grown on me, in spite of myself, so I grabbed the mp3, listened to it, and enjoyed it, but not so much that I went out and bought the album. But here - here comes my brush with almost, the divergent point - I got access to a "British music" FTP site. I tried to download "Superblast!", "Sweetness and Light", and a couple of other songs with titles that sounded promising, but the site kept timing out, and I gave up. I can't begin to imagine how my musical tastes would have changed, or what they'd be like now, if I'd heard the earlier, better, completely different sound of Lush at that critical point on my life. I do know that a couple of months later, a friend of mine loaned me MBV's Loveless, which tore the top of my head off, leaving it open so that new, different, wonderful sounds could find their way in.

    Several years and at least one hard drive later, I bought Lovelife - the album with "Ladykillers" - and Split (since it was there and cheap) at a used record shop. Split I listened to once and set aside; it didn't connect with me. A few months later, I put it on again, figuring that I'd paid for it and might as well give it another chance.

    Present day. Split is probably my favorite album of all time.

    2.) The Delgados. This is a shorter story! I was (and am, although certainly not to the same degree) really quite into Belle & Sebastian. I did some reading and had seen comparisons made between the Delgados and B&S, so I went ahead and checked out Hate. "Hate Is All You Need" I loved immediately, and it pretty much became The Delgados Song for me, at the expense of the rest of the album, which was certainly more of a grower. But what a grower; I could listen to Hate all day. I have had this experience with all of the Delgados' albums, which is sort of funny, considering how fond I am of the band. I find a couple of tracks that I love, fixate on them, and then very slowly begin to experience (and love) the rest of the tracks.

    3.) Boards of Canada. I really have no idea what got me into this band. All I know is that I got myself Music Has the Right To Children and it went off like a fucking bomb in my heart; I recommended it to everyone I knew, calling it "one long standout track".I was pretty late to the game with BoC (as I am with everything musical, really - more often than not, I don't discover or get into a band until after they've broken up. I don't do this on purpose! It's just an unfortunate series of coincidences); this was, I think, the summer of 2002 (a summer in which I would try out a lot of new music; the only band from that period that stuck around on my playlists with any reliability is Ladytron (#12, at the moment).

    4.) Stereolab. Remember the "British music" FTP site I mentioned above? Well I was able to get a couple of Stereolab tracks from them (the site didn't have full albums; it had maybe six or seven tracks per artist - I have no idea if it was an "uploaded by request" operation or just one guy putting up what he felt were representative / standout tracks), one of which was their wonderful "Ping-Pong". I played the hell out of that song, and I think it was only a matter of days before I drove over to Circuit City (an unlikely place, I agree, but they had, at the time, a breathtakingly thorough and interesting selection of music, which is sort of odd for a consumer electronics store - Best Buy has a lot of music, sure, but it's almost entirely quantity over quality) and picked up Mars Audiac Quintet. I don't remember what came next, but it was love, love, love. Stereolab was, for several years, my Favorite Band. Cobra and Phases was sort of a "what? oh -" moment for me, but that was OK as I hadn't really and completely plumbed their back catalog, yet - but I had by the time Microbe Hunters came out, at which point I was pretty much "OK Stereolab just what in the hell is this"; I felt like I ought to like it, because it was Stereolab and why would they put out a bad album? Maybe I just needed to give it time, or wasn't getting it, or whatever. Anyway, none of their albums have really clicked with me since, which is a damn shame.

    5.) My Bloody Valentine. See the Lush entry - a friend of mine loaned me his copy of Loveless. He asked for it back much, much sooner than I was ready to give it up, so I turned right around and got my own copy. I gradually came to discover their other output, although for the longest time, they could have just done Loveless and crumbled to dust immediately after pressing the master and I would have been perfectly happy; MBV was, for me, no more and no less than Loveless. I've been pleasantly surprised to discover that I enjoy their earlier, occasionally maligned output more than other fans seem to.

    MBV's cover of "Map Ref 41n 93w" - one of the last things they ever recorded, if I understand the history right - is one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard, and if I had discovered Audioscrobbler / Last.FM just one year earlier, this song would outstrip my most played song (Lush, "De-Luxe", 67 plays at this writing) two or three times over.

    All right, I've got it out of my system, for now. I'm stopping with five. I think I've left some things (details, memories, connections, etc.) out, actually; I didn't exactly do this on purpose, but some paths lead far, far away from others, and I can't exactly take both in the same session, much less the same paragraph (which is ostensibly about music!). I'll do the last five later (if you know anything about me, though, you'll know not to hold your breath). As a reward for having taken so much of my jumbled navelgazing into your pretty little head forever, please enjoy this mix CD I made especially for you. It is a "concept" mix (my first - it is an exercise as tricky as it is masturbatory, but I think I pulled it off OK. At any rate, I can listen to it more than once without cringing); the concept is "psychics".