November 30, 2004

What I dig this week:

"Cool" Gwen Stefani Bitchin' Gwen does the Motels (on a song about her ex Tony Kanal)
"Rich Girl" Gwen Stefani I could do without the Topol-isms, but this song has a great "piano stomp beat" to it (samples on Amazon)
"A Man And A Woman" U2 One of the more lowkey songs on the new CD and not much like anything they have done before. Usually Bono does not concern him self with mundane topics like marriage / love! (sample on Amazon)
"Little Sister" Rufus Wainwright see review below
"Through With Love" Destiny's Child from what I can tell, this is the only good song on Bouncy's new turd record. This one has appropriate levels of the over-the-top D.C. passion that was so nuttily evident on their "Survivor" CD (sample on Amazon)
Santa Claus Is A Black Man from John Waters great new holiday compilation. This one is sung by a child. I heard it in a store and couldn't stop singing it all day. (sample on Amazon)

November 29, 2004

It's been a week since I posted a picture of Gwendolyn, so here ya go!

November 23, 2004

China: Would you like some silkworm on a stick?

Some folks have asked if I will post China pics. I hadn't planned to, but here is one you can enlarge by clicking on it.

It was taken just off the main drag in Beijing, where you can get anything cooked and served on a stick. The food stall guys try to attract you with the dangling scorpions, which are alive. They say, "Scorpion sir! Scorpion!" while they tickle the scorpions, whose tails curl. I had one of everything, of course, and it was all so tasty! not.

Note the fetus-lookin' things in the middle, to the right of the big white fishy looking things.

How To Dismantle A Stadium Anthem

The U2 album is out today and everybody's running around like the Beatles have been reunited. BUT it seems to be good... I have liked what I've heard, with the exception of the single, Vertigo, which now seems so corporate due to its iPod association. BBC 2's Simon Mayo, who we like very much, has an interview with Bono and plays various tracks here*.

The record is not at all innovative, but just a sort of a classic U2 record. I particularly like Yahweh (classic) and Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own. Bono says he likes Original Of The Species best because it keeps building and building, like a Roy Orbison song. He's not Roy Orbison, but the album is worth a tenner.

*Note that this link won't last more than week.

November 22, 2004

Pee shy?

Surely the strangest Velvet Rope thread in a long time:

Most famous person you've peed next to:

Here is a choice sample (WARNING: grody alert!):
One day while working at Premiere Radio in New York, I was in the bathroom finishing up my business when a guy came into the stall next to me, dropped his pants, and proceeded to blow out some of the most foul, disgusting gas I have ever heard, followed by a shit-valanche. Seriously bad. His strange leather shoes confirmed the fact that the gas bag wasn't a coworker. As I was getting up, another guy walked into the bathroom and in a loud British accent exclaimed, "That's fucking bloody horrible, man." I walked out, and standing in front of me was Robert Plant, taking a piss. He looked at me and pointed at the stall. "Say hello to John Paul Jones."

Off topic Guest Star: Cassie!

Cassie My Dog Sister had some surgery this week and is rockin' an "Elizabethan Collar."

November 20, 2004

Review: Gwen Stefani's "Love Angel Music Baby"

When Bitchin Gwen Stefani's band No Doubt released their last CD, Rock Steady, I realized they had hit on a winning formula: a modern pop band that's able to skitter over an abundance of 80's references and styles: new wave, reggae-lite, r'n'b, dance. Anything really, as long as the songs had strong melodies. Maybe they should have just called that record "ka-ching$"

For Gwen's first solo CD, Love Angel Music Baby, she's created a memory book of mid-80's styles in homage to her icons. Gwen has always borrowed from great LA bands like Missing Persons - in fact, Dale Bozzio seems to be her patron saint. Her first single, What You Waiting For is this year's Hey Ya! - an instant hit that sounds like everything else AND nothing. It's like 3 songs in one, with nods to Toni Basil, Nina Hagen and Cyndi Lauper, among others.

Like she did on Rock Steady, Gwen nails every style she tries and somehow it all seems cohesive and Gwendolyn-esque. Cool is a midtempo that sounds like something from Rock Steady with a bit of an 80's California AOR rock quality. It's just so smooth and pleasing. Serious is very Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, while Danger Zone references both Missing Persons and Quarterflash. She even goes vaguely double-dutch on the inevitable (and truly grating) Neptunes track, Hollaback.

Her collaborations with Andre 3000 are interesting.The hyper, girl-groupish Bubble Pop Electric, has some serious Cyndi Lauperisms. It will
adhere to your brain, but also stick in your hair. If that's not a hit single, I don't know what is. Unfortunately the jazzy Long Way To Go does not fit on the record. Recalling Prince, from the Sign O' The Times era, it might have been better left on an Outkast CD.

Although she is my age, 35, Gwen isn't exactly a deep woman (read literally any interview with her). She has a tendency to identify with/pander to the tweeny-bopper crowd; sometimes she just tries too hard. The chant-y Crash has all of her worst tics in one song. She might as well have had Dale Bozzio do the vocals, they are so ripped from Missing Persons. The Fiddler On The Roof reference on next single Rich Girl is too obvious, but the song somehow redeems itself (lovvvvve the "all the riches baby" bit). Finally, as
I said a few weeks ago, Harajuku Girls is truly one of the worst songs of 2004. She paid Jam and Lewis a zilllion dollars to produce this muck?

When she acts her age, the results are terrific. Real Thing is a wonderful rip of New Order that even features Bernard Sumner. Good company, great song. I don't know what it is about Gwen that makes me like her so much - she is not the best at anything, but she has enough talent, style, honesty and genuine good nature to be one of the few worthy icons in these depressing days. I predict a multi-million selling album and she deserves it.

November 19, 2004

Review: "Rufus Wainwright's "Want Two"

Rufus Wainwright just released his new album Want Two, the companion piece to my favorite record of 2003. The results are a bit... weird. I think I would have a much stronger reaction to the album had he not released a third of it (and many of the best songs) this summer on itunes. Because I know those songs so well, I skip over them and the CD seems disjointed.

Want Two is bookended by two songs I think are a somewhat self-indulgent. Old Whore's Diet isn't really much of a song at all, with negligible lyrics, yet it goes for 9 minutes. It even features an unusual, quivering guest vocalist, Antony. Slightly better is the Latin Agnus Dei, but how many times can one play it? It's the type of track the True Sophisticated Fans will wax on about, but it after several listens I admit that it grates on me.

In between are some real gems: the summer EP featured two of his finest songs in Waiting For A Dream and the moody, classical This Love Affair. Both have his usual dry wit and tendency for melodrama mixed with amazing production. Just listen to the way each line of his vocals are treated on Waiting. Gorge!

Among the newly released songs, I love the concert oldie Little Sister, an autobiographical memory of playing piano as a child with his little sister Martha. It literally sounds like a track lifted from a Masterpiece Theater Christmas special, if there was such a thing, and it has great lyrics:

Little sister come and sit beside me, beside me
And we'll play a tune on this old piano forte
Just for awhile, just for awhile, just for awhile
'Til your hair becomes a powdered wig
And I become a total bastard
Feet that hardly reach the pedal
Sewn to a tremendous shadow
Ave ave history is on my side

The One You Love is string-free, straightforward pop rock. If they delete the "fuck" from it, radio could play it, though you just know they won't in this day of the Red State. I doubt many places will even sell an album with the male singer in drag on the cover - one who sings a song called Gay Messiah. Whatever - Rufus' appeal is that he caters to an off-the-rails crowd, not the mainstream. I wonder if we'll look back on the last few records and say this was his golden age? One genius release after another.

Want Two sampler on Amazon

Feeling blue? Feeling immoral?

Mark Fiore has done it again with this cartoon for depressed Dems.

November 18, 2004

Is Pugsly bipolar?

An interesting interview with the mental White Stripes can be found here. Here is a snippet about the state of music and celebrity:

Frank Sinatra was dignified. We don't have a Frank Sinatra, or a Patti Page
nowadays. What do we have? Ashlee Simpson instead of Patti Page! I mean, look at those people - like Paris Hilton! Who are all these skanks, man? Little girls
are looking up to these girls, and it's so gross. Those girls have no dignity at
all, and parents are letting their kids dress up like those skanks. But what
else have they got? What are the other choices? Oh well, ha ha ha [laughing
angrily at the folly]! Somebody had the nerve to ask me if I wanted to play
guitar on Lindsay Lyons's [sic] album! Ha ha ha! She's another one of those
16-year-old actresses, and she's making an album! Like, 'NO!' Ha ha ha!

The Rossdale-Stefani-Harajuku Girls

I see that Bitchin' Gwen has fully accepted her role as stepmother to Gavin's various bastard daughters. Here they are as a family, headed out for a family dinner at Denny's - they look cute together, doncha think?

Back on our fair-assed shores...

I am back from my China jaunt (Bye bye Beijing!) and don't know what time it is. My library work was fine but, sadly, the newly acquired members of my Chinese rock band, The Spicy Peanuts, defected once we landed in Chicago. Boo hoo!

Here's some stuff to listen to today in your tiny, depressing cubicles:

U2. Who knew people would love it. You can listen to it here.

Gwen Stefani. Not sure what the masses are saying but you can hear it here. Try #4 "Cool" for a good track.

Band Aid 20's limp new version of Do They Know It's Christmas can be heard here. Please note that Bono had the audicity to reprise his snarky "Tonight thank God it's them instead of you" line on this version (and can I just say that Dido SUCKS?).

November 5, 2004

Nihao! Nanjing, China

Most of the time I am in China, I will be in Nanjing, a large Southern city. Here is a picture of the Confucian temple area at night. More news (and pics) when I get back on Nov 17...

November 4, 2004

The Red Star

This blog will go quiet for about 2 weeks as I will be away in Shanghai, Nanjing and Beijing ("them's in Chiner!") from Nov 5 - 16. Why am I going there, you ask? Officially, to do some work in a library. The truth: in order to keep up with Bitchini' Gwen's all-Japanese band, I am recruiting kick-ass players for my all-Chinese band. I don't have a name for them yet, but I am thinking of The Little Red Books, The Sent Downs or maybe The Tasteful Delights (after the crappy Chinese take-out on my street). There is a major pop culture market yet to be tapped in China, so look for me to go big in the Orient!

November 3, 2004

Obama '08!! or just bring back Bill Clinton.

In January of 2001, I was sitting in an Irish Pub in DC with a good friend and some of her cronies. One of those people was talking that night about how 4 years of darkness was about to descend on Washington and the nation. I thought she was being theatrical and that I would just Ignore It for 4 years. Little did we know it would be worse than our wildest nightmares. 4 years later we are looking at another period of conservative nastiness and polarization. Not to mention, by the way, that Irish pub just recently burned to the ground...

The good news:

Bush, not Kerry, will be stuck with the hopeless mess he has created in Iraq. If another attack happens, how can this be a "Safer America?"

DNC leader Terry McAulliffe will be out. Fire his ass! He, like Tom Daschle, is entrenched and ineffective.

Rudolph Guiliani, who thinks he is The Man In Waiting, will have to eat crow. The man may be a Republican, but he is a social liberal and he will need to flip flop all over the place in order to get on the ticket. I will be ready with my rants. To paraphrase Morrissey, New York City (sadly) is not America. (edit: NYC is every bit as much America as the heartland, but for the sake of this argument, I'll go with Moz.)

SURELY a worthy candidate will rise from these ashes? And I do not mean Hillary Clinton... I like her, but she is not viable. Who is? I don't know. Most sane people don't want it, do they? On the GOP side, one can only hope John McCain continues his fight. I cannot deal with pussyman Bill Frist or... I shudder to think... Jeb Bush.

The bad news:

Liberal Americans will pay with their lives, or at least their daily well being, for this shithead president. If Ohians don't get it, who does?

Conservative Americans will continue to either not notice, not care or not understand how their freedoms are eroding.

The Supreme Court. I wouldn't be surprised if Roe v. Wade gets overturned and the gay amendment happens. Bush thinks he was placed here by God, so he won't stop his push to take American's liberties or dignity.

The youth vote? Well, blah de blah Poop Daddy! My friend who is a college professor in Iowa says that the youth vote there was surprisingly and strongly conservative. Maybe we don't want the youth vote?! Maybe they are the same blind, ignorant people that got us where we are this morning. Or maybe they are just very young and under the sway of a more conservative older generation.

I know several people who gave large amounts of their time (one did it full-time) and money to Kerry's campaign and are beyond hearbroken. Everyone has taken this personally and will need to go through stages of grief (shock, anger, etc).

The world will continue to look at America in shock and disgust as we piledrive our way around this planet. Osama Bin Laden's recent speech is fighteningly on the mark. How FUCKED is that?

November 2, 2004

I voted for

KERRY / EDWARDS. I got there at 6am, opening time, and I still waited an hour in a very hot hallway. By the time I left, I would estimate the line was a 2hr line. Never seen anything like it at that polling spot.

November 1, 2004

Bitchin' Gwen soils herself

This weekend I heard one of the worst songs I have heard in years: "Harajuku Girls" by Our Gwen! What happened? Will the record be a clusterfuck of genius and shite? It's an AOL Sessions version, so maybe the recorded one isn't so TWAT?

Some of the craptastic rapped lyrics (all set to a stolen "Erotic City" backing):

I'm fascinated by the Japanese fashion scene
An American girl in a Tokyo dream
My boyfriend bought me a (???) shirt
They're hard to find in the states
Got me feeling couture!
What's that you got on?
Is that Commes des Garcons?

And later the hideous chant:

Create it! Design it! Now let me see you work it!

Bad lyrics to follow. S'okay Gwendolyn, you're still a SUPER HOT FEMALE!

Buh Bye Bastard!!

This is called optimistic, not cocky:


Take a look at these two links for electoral college estimates:

Slate's Election Scorecard (slow to load)

Look at the wee doggy!

Shenanigans and Dr. Doom kickin' it at the beach in Santa Monica...

click to enlarge