Thursday, July 31, 2008
Still here. Tuesday I took full advantage of that 12-hour period after you lose your job when everyone is treating you incredibly nicely and buying you so many drinks it's a marvel you make it home okay. Yesterday I worked on shaping up my resume with Photogal before heading with LadyFriend to an afternoon showing of the "new" Indiana Jones flick (the jury's still out on what I think of it, though I didn't dislike it). Last night I realized that if I actually "took a mini vacation to catch on my reading and my DVD watching" I would bore myself to tears in under 24 hours. So today I start the job hunt while also doing the last bit of prep work for the Chicagoist Lollapalooza coverage.
Speaking of which, who else is going to Lolla? Who are you seeing? Going to any after-parties or late shows afterward each day?
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
I appreciate all the well wishes and support, and I especially love all the contacts that've been sent to me! Please keep those coming, in this economy jobs are scarce so the more threads I have to follow the better off I'll be!
And to those that have left comments dissing my previous place of employ, yes I have been deleting those. Sorry, but overall they really did offer me some great experience and most of my memories of working there are rather fond. I appreciate the idea of showing solidarity by ripping on the folks that let me go, but I just can't share the sentiment. I still like my old company, think they're in an extremely exciting juncture as far as marketing online goes, and I wish them the best.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Well, I didn't see that coming. I got laid off.
So, um, yeah. Anyone out there looking to hire a copywriter / content developer / web strategist?
It's been an incredibly busy couple of weeks, and things just seem to be getting better and more intense as the summer goes on. We've already learned about my drunken mumblings last Thursday, but that was followed with a stellar night Friday guest DJing at Panic! Thanks again to Arturo and pogo for having me spin with them ... loads of folks showed up and danced their little butts off, and that made me a very happy boy. My set-list is already up, and the photos I took of the evening are ready for your viewing pleasure.
Saturday LadyFriend and I made our way to Burlington, Wisconsin for the Good Times party, and it easily ended up being the best party I've been to all summer. Hell, no, strike that ... all year! It was an evening spent in excellent company and helped restore my faith in the general good of the world around me. I took a truckload of photos there as well.
On the seventh day I finally rested.
So to recap...
Panic! photos by Arturo
SATURDAY GOOD TIMES PARTY:
Whew! Next stop ... Lollapalooza!
Monday, July 28, 2008
- had campfire sing-a-longs
- ate like Kings and Queens
- saw a knight on a Jetski rescue a boat full of stranded attendees
- danced at Club Pontoon
- roasted marshmallows
- enjoyed a massive fireworks display
- got down with our bad selves
- avoided an errant bottle rocket
- had a swing-off on a swing-set
- made new friends
- saw a watermelon in a hat
- cherished old friends
- participated in an epic bout of flip-cup
- had some really, really good times
So now I know how I come across drunk and outside The Continental at 3 in the a.m. Not the most flattering depiction, but I'd say it's pretty accurate.
Friday, July 25, 2008
If you're not already listening to Slate's weekly Political Gabfest, you really should be. Whether or not you decide to subscribe, you MUST listen to this week's debate about John Edwards' supposed extramarital affairs.
I've never heard the participants get so worked up before and it's fascinating to a) see them debate something that obviously hits an emotional nerve across the panel and b) resort to the F-bomb so often.
Straight from the mouth of the Nirvana baby:
Life in general isn't quite as "cool" as it was when he jumped naked in the pool in the early '90s, though, he says. These days, his peers are too stuck on the Internet and video games. Ironically, he yearns for the era that gave Kurt Cobain, the lead singer for Nirvana, so much angst.
These days, Elden says, his peers concentrate on "playing Rock Band on Xbox, like, that's not a real band! That's the difference between the '90s and kids nowadays; kids in the '90s would actually go out and make a [real] band!"
Recent events have led me to believe that via the 6 degrees of seperation rule I do, in fact, know everyone. To that extent I request that Mahmoud Abbas contact me via our mutual friend so we can this whole overseas hullabaloo.
Until then, come see me DJ at Panic! tonight.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
My guest DJ for tonight's Bomb Squad Thursday is none other than my bandmate and frequent man-date ... Keep! Look for jams both crunchy with pop and slinky with bop. And I'll play some good stuff too. Gotta get warmed up for tomorrow night's edition of Panic!, right?
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Learn all you need to know about Walt Whitman. The man, the myth, the legend. For instance, did you know he was 90 stories tall?! I sure didn't!
Or that he had a Livejournal?
Or that Walt Disney was indirectly responsible for Walt Whitman's death?
Learn all about Walt!
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
I just noticed that friend, well I guess ex-friend, deleted me from their MySpace account! Usually I would think that sort of thing was kind of funny, but in this case it actually bugs me, because I feel I must have behaved incredibly poorly towards them to warrant such a move. You know how it is when you don't realize how much of a jerk you're being, or how much you're hurting someone when you're actually doing it? I used to think I could never be "that guy" but I guess I was. It makes me a little disappointed in myself, and I'm sad that it cost me a friend.
This has already been flagged for removal, but not before my RSS reader sucked it in.
How is that not sexual assault? I mean, I've been involved in my own moments of inappropriate PSAs, and I can even understand how something like the above could be kind of hot between two people who already know each other and have a broader grasp on the situation, but the dude described above acted like an asshole, and I shudder to think og other dudes reading that posting and thinking, "Hey maybe I should try that at Lolla in a few weeks!"
Don't. Just don't.
Who would have thought I would be the first one yelled at at evilOlive last night? What's wrong with hanging from the staircase and humping my guitarist's face? Party poopers. For the record though, I won the bet about which cousin would take his shirt off first, so you owe me a Colt 45, Tom!
Monday, July 21, 2008
Sunday, July 20, 2008
So yesterday I'm, backstage in an old Pavement tour t-shirt when some dude grabs my shoulder and says ,"Nice shirt!" It takes a second to register that the dude is Spiral Stairs! Then he dragged me over to some of his friends to show off said my shirt exclaiming that even he no longer has that version even though it's one of his favorites.
And of course I totally blank and even though I'm carrying my camera I forget to ask to take a picture with him.
Also, Julia Stiles, you're welcome and I hope your friend ended up taking you to the Billy Goat for a cheeseburger.
Also, I have galleries of photos up:
Pitchfork Day One
Pitchfork Day Two
So far I've been having a blast, and folks have been super nice both backstage and out in the fields. I tried to repay a little karma by giving my food coupon to three volunteers figuring they could each get a taco ... and earlier in the day a security guard let me cut through his space to get somewhere else super-quick, so I made a point to go back and thank him later. A lot of writers/photographers tend to take these guys and gals for granted and can actually be kind of mean to them, so I wanted to make sure this dude knew that some of us are decent people and appreciate all their hard work.
I've been reading a few blogs lately written by twenty-somethings already pining for the "good ol' days" of just a few years ago. My word of advice to them is this: stop thinking of those as the good ol' times, and better ones will come along.
Look I could wax on and on and on about my previous adventures, but I prefer to make new ones. Life is more fulfilling that way.
Friday, July 18, 2008
I'll have a longer review and more detailed thoughts after the weekend (and after more folks have had a chance to see it) but I give the film high marks for nailing the tone of the comics even better than the first one did. And Heath Ledger's Joker is every bit as good as you've been told it is.The one big difference between the films that I noticed, though, was the city. Whereas Batman Begins' Gotham was a largely digital construct laid over the bones of Chicago, The Dark Knight's cityscape is very, very, very recognizably Chicago.
UPDATE: Read my full (spoiler-free) review.
The first big Chicago music festival of the summer kicks off tonight, so look for me to be running around Union Park like a crazy man with my camera over the next three days. Make sure you read my previews of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday so you're in the right places at the right times! I also enjoy the always inevitable run ins with other music writers and publicists that usually go something like, "Oh, so THAT'S what you look like? Huh." (NOTE: Not all of us writers look like giant dorks, some of us are actually functioning members of society, y'know. Barely.)
Are you going?
And now a word on some of the rockwrite I've been reading the past few days. Look, I'm not above a bit of musically referential name dropping as a shortcut in lieu of an actual description in my own reviews, or a touch of verbal flim-flam that I have mistaken for proof of my literal dexterity, but when I write I at least try to give some sense of what the band sounds like in language that would appeal to someone unfamiliar with the group. Isn't part of the whole point of writing about music supposed to be an effort to turn people on and excite them about stuff they probably wouldn't have encountered on their own? I've been reading a few Pitchfork Music Festival previews by other publications and no wonder the average person makes so much fun of hipsters ... if the convoluted rockwrite perpetrated by most of these "critics" was my only interaction with so-called indie music I'd probably avoid the hell out of it as well!
The irony is that on the actual festival site, the previews written by Pitchfork staffers -- whom sometimes fall under critical fire for their own obtuseness from time to time -- are clear, succinct and really well written in language any casual music fan could understand.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
The Watchmen trailer leaked a day early. It's looks fucking just like the comic. Nice.
I did hear one valid piece of criticism about the trailer though.
UPDATE: Download it via iTunes.
I was a comic book geek. In the '80s they played a huge role in my life and for a while I seriously wanted to be a comic book artist. Back then it was a smaller industry -- my first Chicago comic convention was held in 2 banquet rooms of a hotel near O'Hare, a far cry from the airplane hangar-sized rooms it occupies now -- and there was nothing cool to outsiders about reading comics. Sure, books like The Dark Knight and Watchmen were groundbreaking, but the mainstream had yet to embrace comics.
And then the Tim Burton Batman movie came out. At the time I had never wanted to see anything so badly. I had read every scrap of press during the film's making, and had devoured every single tidbit. I was a little upset they went with Jack Nicholson over Ray Liotta as the Joker, and admit Prince's soundtrack initially confused me, but I loved it when I finally saw it at midnight on opening day. It was dark, slightly scary, and when it was funny the humor had a bite. It was awesome.
Over time I realize I had made allowances for the film. It was uneven, the Joker wasn't really scary, Batman seemed more detached than disturbed, and what was up with Lando Calrissian as Harvey Dent ... and while I still think it's a terrific movie, it's never been the Batman movie I wanted it to be. The sequel was a move in the right direction, but then they took the reins away from Burton and the franchise immediately went to hell.
So when I saw Batman Begins, it was with a hopeful air. I believed Christopher Nolan could be the man for the job, Christian Bale could make a convincing Batman, and choosing Scarecrow and Ras A Guhl as the villains was gutsy. I walked out of the theater with all those initial hopes validated and then some. Finally, someone made a movie about Batman the way I saw him.
So I have an odd feeling of deja vu today. At midnight I will again be seeing the opening of a new Batman movie, with much of the same anticipation and excitement as when I was 16, sitting in a darkening theater, waiting for the previews to give way to the main attraction. Only this time the result looks like it'll get just about everything right; the Joker is scarily psychotic, Batman is just scary, and Two-Face looks to be appropriately gruesome.
I can't wait.
CHRISTIAN BALE RELATED: The teaser for the new Terminator movie is up, including a first look at Bale as John Connor.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Me: Oh, my name's Lazlo.
Girl 1: Really? Wild.
Me: Yeah, my parents really liked Real Genius.*
Girl 2: What a cool name.
LadyFirend: (walking up) Do you have a cigarette.
Me: Sure. I was just telling these girls the story behind my name being Lazlo.
LadyFriend: Lazlo? Really? Have we already hit that portion of the evening? Well, okay then, but try to behave. (walks away)
Girl 1: Who was that?
Me: Oh, my wife, Jordan.
*It should be noted I was practically giving these girls the joke at this point since I've obviously been alive longer than Real Genius has existed.
I'm not really going to get into the New Yorker cover, but I will say I'm flummoxed by Michelle Obama's 'fro though. Other than that I think it's fair to view the rest of the image as satire, and will probably end up helping Obama since it'll cause the Conservative talking heads to rain their ire upon the liberal press, and in doing so they'll have to contradict their own whisper campaigns. I find that amusing.
As for the image above, it was produced by an active Obama supporter, and it illustrates why I was skeptical of him in the first place. Actually, I think it's helped me realize I was nnever so much skeptical of Obama as I was confused by the fervor of his followers. Anyone who didn't expect him to track rightward as the general election draws closer is a fool. And anyone who really believed Obama was going to run a different kind of campaign is an idiot.
Look, I want the dude as my President, and God willing he will be, but did you people really believe he was that different? And if you did, don't hold it against him that he just turned out to be another masterful politician -- and in my view, rapidly becoming one of the best I've ever seen, Clinton included -- adept at saying what you wanted to hear in a way that made you believe he really, really meant it.
UPDATE: The comments above are not intended for the designer of the poster ... I consider them to be in the "skeptical" crew as well. It had been brought to my attention that new readers of this site might not understand the above as an ongoing discussion between me and my regular readers.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
I figured out how to fit in The Dark Knight and Pitchfork this weekend ... I'm going to drag LadyFriend to the Thursday midnight show for the movie! And now, thanks to Keep winning tix at Rehab, she can go to PFork with me as well!
Maybe I should just take Friday off? Naw.
Monday, July 14, 2008
After witnessing the disastrous roll out of the 3G iPhone, and still seething over the price of AT&T's sevice plans, I decided not to save up for an iPhone, and instead drop $9.95 on the new firmware. I actually still had $14 credit in my iTunes account I got for free when I joined up with some TicketMaster promotion (and then, upon getting the credits, immediately withdrew from, heh).
I was unwilling to pay for the last update, but since this new one included all the features introduced in January along with all the App-related stuff, I fugred it was finally worth it. Having my Gmail pushes to my phone is handy, and I actually already used the maps (dig the faux GPS) and notes features.
I've actually run into only one problem with any of the new Apples software, and that's with the iTunes 7 I have installed on my home computer. The version installed on my work computer works flawlessly, but my home computer takes forever to recognize my iPods (between 5 and 10 minutes!) when I plug 'em in. I've already tried to uninstall and reinstall, and even tried a restore to a previous back-up of my system (but apparently that wouldn't work because iTunes hid some newer versions of the files on my computer, scotching the old version of the program from reloading). Anyone have a clue what might be causing the slow load on my home machine?
UPDATE: It ain't just my home computer. My older iPods (year-and-a-half) are taking forever to hook up to the new iTunes at work now as well. WTF?
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
I just read this comment on CNET, about the fact that you can't even download the iPhone/iTouch firmware update:
How come when Apple does something like this, all the Mac Faithful don't fry them w/ the same intensity that they do to EVERY OTHER non Mac brand???? Methinks that they are truly crazy.Let's add to the list. Making iTouch owners pay for upgrades, getting in bed with AT&T's evil pricing plans, releasing janky updates that aren't fully tested ... how exactly are the houses of Jobs and Gates any different?
P.S. Downloaded the new iTunes yesterday. It plays nice on my work computer but freezes on my home laptop every time I try to connect an iPod to it. Grrrrr. Apple, you officially suck.
The other evening I was talking to a couple local musicians -- one of whom has a particularly excellent EP that should be out soon -- and I realized that folks have a pretty upside-down view of what motivates music critics. I've run their thoughts past a few other folks and have come to realized that people seem to think that music critics like slamming bands.
That couldn't be further from the truth.
Look, I don't write about music because I hate music, I write about it because I LOVE music. Why would I want to listen to bands that are bad? I'll admit a negative review is easier to write than a positive one, but only because it's easier to pinpoint where a band goes wrong and harder to explain why what they're doing is oh-so right. Negative reviews can almost be empirical while positive ones usually rely on a firm grasp of language to describe concepts based both in emotion and historical / gnere-related context.
I don't want to see any band create bad music, and I hold out hope that every band has the potential to create something really great. Why wouldn't I want there to be more good music in the world? And nothing makes me happier than when a band that has habitually underperformed finally gets their act together and delivers a kick-ass album (see: The Redwalls). Heck, man, if Kill Hannah ever actually released a good album I would be the first to admit it, and I'd be happy to do so.
A good critic doesn't want to ever have to write a negative review.* Honest ta sweartagod. I promise.
*No, I'm not forgetting that Lester Bangs wrote a truckload of negative reviews, but I think actually reading him -- instead of just quoting one's impression of him as most writers today seem wont to do -- only proves my point that GOOD criticism is based in a love of music and the desire that an artists do great things.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
I just saw a girl heading to the gym next door that parked on the same upper level of the garage as I did. On her way she pushed the button to automatically open the doors that lead to the stairs down, but instead of taking those stairs a measly two flights down, she pushed the button to wait for the elevator instead.
I guess she was saving all her energy for the treadmill?
Amazingly I was zonked out by 9:30 last night -- this whole "not going out thing" has really screwed with my sleep schedule! -- and now I'm up and can't sleep. Jeez, I can't even burn off time at the gym right now because even they aren't open yet! On the plus side, I did just get to enjoy a soft, early summer morning rain, so that was kind of nice. Odd to think that a few years ago I would be experiencing such a rain as the end of my night instead of the beginning of my day.
Hmm, maybe I'll just relax and read my Britpop book* And, of course, prepare for tonight's edition of Bomb Squad Thursday. I'm spinning solo, but I'm only doing so because there are two bands playing tonight -- Dual Exhaust and Johnny Vomit -- so come on in to Liar's Club for a rock and/or rolling fall-down stinky good time.
*I'm immersing myself in a refresher course in advance of DJing this months Panic! party. It will be awesome. Upside? I'm rediscovering so much great music. Downside? I keep prattling on about LadyFriend's least favorite artist, Damon Albarn. He was mean to her the last time Blur was in town, so I guess she has a right to dislike him on a personal level, but I still think he's unbelievably gifted.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
I wrote a whole bunch of shorter reviews for you to take a gander at over your morning coffee. I tackled new releases from Be Your Own Pet, Mudcrutch, Human Highway, Smoking Popes, Seabird, Valient Thorr, and Brett Anderson. Check it out.
Also, download the PDF of this month's UR Chicago if you wanna see what I was able to say about the Exile In Guyville re-issue in 150 words or less. Honestly? One of the hardest reviews I've ever written, and one of the few I still keep wanting to wordsmith even though it's already in print.
Finally, box up your baby for Obama, they will thank you for it.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Remember when Photogal snapped those awesome photos of Bruce Wayne's penthouse when they built the set in the lobby of her building?* Well, this guy I met through Gina, Jeffrey Marshall, took one of the images and added in the skyline!
I cannot frickin' wait for this movie to come out!
*And no, I never REALLY took the photos down. They've always still been there, embedded in the links. Ha!
I've listened closely to the Bon Iver disc a couple times now, and every time I hope something about it will open up and reveal why it's making such waves with fellow music writers. Usually I write buzz groups off much earlier if they don't resonate with me, but in this case a number of folks whose judgment I trust to rise above the usual din recommended this disc to me ... but I just don't see the same beauty in it that they do. I suppose if I was younger and had recently been dumped I might think differently. Maybe, I dunno. The album certainly has its pretty moments, but I wouldn't consider it one of the best of the year so far.
If you haven't heard this album yet, here's an MP3 from the label. Who knows, maybe you'll see something in it that I don't, and that would be totally cool with me.
MP3: Bon Iver "Skinny Love"
Monday, July 07, 2008
I'll have you know I have consumed an unbelievable amount of new music in the past week in an effort to get out from behind, and at least pull level with the influx of CDs (sent both physically and digitally to me) over the past few weeks. There is no way to fully review ALL of them, so expect another round-up in a few days, as well as the usual longer thought pieces at donewaiting, or disc review/show preview I usually do at Chicagoist.
I will say that while I haven't run across anything that stolen my heart, I'm really impressed by the quality of the music that's been coming out this year. Mostly.
I was having a particularly disturbing dream just now. In it, I had fallen asleep on the couch and was woken up by a sound coming from my bedroom. I walked over there to see a man standing (I'm getting chills just typing this) standing at the end of my bed and a lamp laying on its side at his feet. He just stared at me and said nothing, until I started to move towards the bed, having just noticed a large something underneath my sheet. He wrestled to keep me away from the bed and we got to the door of my apartment. I threw it open and tried to call for help by yelling "Fire!" but couldn't get my voice above a whisper.
Suddenly I woke up to find I had actually having fallen asleep on the couch, my heart was pounding, and I was slightly freaked out. The song below was playing on VH1 (they actually play videos at 3 a.m.!) and really helped calm me down. I know zero about the band, Carolina Liar, but it's a nice little tune, and it's sunny chorus helped bring my heart rate to a manageable level.
MP3: Carolina Liar "I'm Not Over"
Friday, July 04, 2008
Thursday, July 03, 2008
I was all set to lay out two hundred bucks for the new iPhone* and re-up to another 2-year deal with AT&T (I've been with them FOREVER by now) but then I saw the new pricing plans. Y'know, I don't mind paying the $70 plan since that's only a little more than I currently pay, but to see they want ANOTHER $20 for text messaging is just obscene.
Way to break the camel's back AT&T.
So what's the result? I'm seriously considering leaving their service (I'm no longer under contract) and going elsewhere until their deal with Apple is up and I can get the iPhone through another provider.
*No, I did not suddenly come into money. I was planning on doing this when I could afford it, not the day the new iPhone comes out.
- Some sort of hit & run just happened outside my building! Heard a huge crash and now there're firetrucks and an ambulance!
- I'm parked right where it looks like they ran into an SUV so I hope my car's OK!
- Oh, they didn't run ... looks like they hit the sidewalk by the library! Scary.
- Whew, went down to check and my car is O.K. The SUV and the car that wrecked is not. AND there's a fire at the other end of my street!
- It's a weird night in the neighborhood. I can only imagine what the 4th is going to be like.
Aaaaaaaaand ... cue another set of sirens. I ain't getting any sleep tonight, am I? Looks like I picked the wrong night to stay in by myself.
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Honestly, I have lots to write about, but since this is sort of a holiday week I'm keeping things light around here. Who wants to read a bunch of heavy stuff when it's a) sunny outside and b) BBQ is on the brain and c) all you can think about is not having to work on Friday? Not I!
That doesn't mean I don't toil behind the scenes for you though! I spent a few hours editing and touching up the photos from my birthday weekend and have set them up for you to peruse at your leisure.
LOOK: Tankboy's Birthday Bash at The Burlington, June 28, 2008
LOOK: Pride Parade and the Liar's Club BBQ, June 29, 2008
Oddly, I have NO photos from my actual birthday, June 30! How odd, huh?
Oh, here, one more sign I love you ... here's a Yuksek remix off the Chromeo Fancy Footwork re-issue to continue to get you in the summertime party mood.
MP3: Chromeo "Bonafied Lovin (Yuksek Remix)"