Under 30

I can't complain but sometimes I still do

Friday, August 18, 2006

Shameless self-promotion

If you like reading my words, you might like hearing me talk. So you should check out my podcasts for The Post-Crescent. I do three of them: Under 30, Valley Jams and a preview of Fox Cities Weekend. Enjoy!

Can we please stop humoring David Copperfield?

A "story" broke this week about David Copperfield discovering the fountain of youth. And I just recieved the following press release:

In his first interview since the announcement earlier this week of the uncovering of a “fountain of youth” (see Reuters article below), master illusionist David Copperfield spoke exclusively today with CNN Headline News morning show Robin & Company about his find. The island where Copperfield located the fountain is so restricted, telephone service is nearly impossible to get; therefore, Copperfield found a pier where he was just able to pick up a cell-phone signal to contact the outside world and speak directly with CNN’s Robin Meade. Meade questions him as to whether this is an elaborate set-up to his next big trick and if he really has hired scientists to test his fountain.


David Copperfield pulls this crap every couple of years. He made the Statue of Liberty disappear. He walked through the Great Wall of China. Now he discovered the fountain of youth. I know it's August, which traditionally is one of the slowest news months of the year, but does CNN's Robin Meade really believe that scientists are being whisked down to this desert isle with their fountain-of-youth testing equipment?

Of course not.

Magic is lame. Everybody knows this. So why do we continue to humor David Copperfield? Is he mentally disabled? Was he diagnosed with an incurable disease? Somebody, please tell me, and I'll continue to play along.

Everything I Know About Drugs I Learned From Hollywood

Under30blog does not condone drug use. But I do like drug scenes in movies. It's for the same reason I like violence in movies: it represents abhorrent behavior I find scary in real life, but in movies it's fascinating and fun to watch. Yay drugs and violence!

The above video is a genius collage of famous movie drug scenes. It's called "Everything I Know About Drugs I Learned from Movies." Pot, cocaine, heroin, booze, it's all covered. I figured this might be a handy way to kickstart the weekend. Party!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

"Snakes on a Plane"? More like "Irony on the Decline"

Snakes on a Plane” opens Friday in theaters. This probably means nothing to (1) people who don’t spend 21 hours a day on the Internet, (2) people over the age of 35, and (3) people who don’t get into movies about Samuel L. Jackson cursing at high-flying jungle creatures for 90 minutes. You folks might as well stop reading now.

For everybody else, “Snakes on a Plane” is a big deal. How big? After nearly a year of Web-fueled hype, “Snakes on a Plane” is poised to become the “Citizen Kane” of movies about snakes running wild on commercial aircraft. And it likely will have the most profitable opening weekend ever for a movie starring a Burmese python.

More than the movie itself, “Snakes on a Plane” has been praised for revolutionizing how films are marketed online and altered based on suggestions from snarky movie geeks. For instance, an expletive-spiked one-liner uttered by Jackson was added to the movie at the insistence of online fans.

Some wonder how this will affect the future of entertainment. Instead of relying on talented writers, directors and actors to come up with decent movies, dudes who can’t convince the dumpy girl at the comic book store to catch a matinee of “The Descent” will be the new Hollywood power players.

Coming to the red carpet on Oscar Night 2007: the black trench coat and Frodo T-shirt ensemble. Tres chic.

The democratization of the movie-making process is all fine and dandy, I guess. It’s not as if input from the public will make mainstream movies any worse. After all, the Wayans brothers were handed tens of millions of dollars to make “Little Man,” which should be enough to inspire the populace to take up torches and pitchforks and ransack the nearest Cineplex. I’m pretty sure the guy from IT who changes my password every four weeks can do better than that.

What is more intriguing about “Snakes on a Plane” is how it’s the latest example of something I like to call The William Hung Phenomenon.

Read the rest of my latest Under 30 column here.

"I feel so dirty when they start talking cute, I wanna tell her that I love her but the point is probably moot"

Rick Springfield is cool.


Just check out the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, which called Springfield’s breakthrough album "Working Class Dog" a "relentlessly catchy power-pop classic" and compared it to Elvis Costello’s "My Aim is True."

"It’s worth re-evaluating his status in the pop pantheon," the magazine concluded.

Springfield was ripped by critics in the early ’80s for starring on "General Hospital" and crafting superficially sweet pop hits. If rock writers back then knew Dr. Noah Drake would one day be equated with their favorite bespeckled tunesmiith, they would have freaked.

Once you dig below the shiny surface of "Jessie’s Girl" and "Don’t Talk to Strangers," it’s not a big leap from Springfield’s romantic paranoia to the sexual hang-ups documented on "My Aim is True." For Springfield, the connection has always been there. It just took a while for the rock press to figure it out.

"Actually, ‘My Aim is True’ was one of the albums I was playing a lot as I was writing ‘Working Class Dog,’" Springfield said in a recent telephone interview. "It’s all truthful stuff and it’s all very stripped down power-pop."

Springfield, who turns 57 on Wednesday, talked about recent critical re-evaluation of his work, defended covering Mr. Mister and revealed who killed rock ‘n’ roll in an interview running Saturday in The Post-Crescent.

Until then, enjoy the video for "Jessie's Girl."

Still more evidence of the awesomeness of Steely Dan

Under 30 Blog is gonna read more like Over 50 Blog today, seeing as how I keep writing about geezer rockers, but I have to give it up again for the awesomeness of Steely Dan, who just posted another snarky letter on its Web site. Now they are going after Wes Anderson, hipster favorite and friend of The Dan's first target, the Butterscotch Stallion.

Donald and Walter love Anderson's first movie, "Bottle Rocket," but feel his subsequent work has gotten progressively worse. Whether you agree, The Dan is funny and actually pretty insighful about Anderson's work.

You began, spectacularly enough, with the excellent "Bottle Rocket", a film we consider to be your finest work to date. No doubt others would agree that the striking originality of your premise and vision was most effective in this seminal work. Subsequent films - "Rushmore", "The Royal Tenenbaums", "The Life Aquatic" - have been good fun but somewhat disappointing - perhaps increasingly so. These follow-ups have all concerned themselves with the theme we like to call "the enervated family of origin"©, from which spring diverse subplots also largely concerned with the failure to fulfill early promise. Again, each film increasingly relies on eccentric visual detail, period wardrobe, idiosyncratic and overwrought set design, and music supervision that leans heavily on somewhat obscure 60's "British Invasion" tracks a-jangle with twelve-string guitars, harpsichords and mandolins. The company of players, while excellent, retains pretty much the same tone and function from film to film. Indeed, you must be aware that your career as an auteur is mirrored in the lives of your beloved characters as they struggle in vain to duplicate early glories.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Three cheers for Macaca!

Sen. George Allen is a Republican running for re-election in Virginia. Some say he might run for president. He likes "the real America." He doesn't hang with them movie moguls like his opponents. He is one of us.

He also might be a tinsy bit racist. Well, you can't have everything!

Allen was caught on tape last week singling out 20-year-old SR Sidarth at a rally. Sidarth, a campaign worker for Allen's opponent Jim Webb, was there to tape the speech.

Knowing a camera was pointed directly at him (Sidarth informed Allen's staff that he was there), Allen proceeded to call Sidarth "Macaca, or whatever his name is" and welcome him to America. Unfortunately, Macaca is a racial slur for people of African descent. Sidarth is Indian-American, but, you know, it's still pretty offensive.

I don't know if Allen knew that macaca is a slur. I agree with John Dickerson of Slate, who said the word "sounded like the fraternity TV-room appellation for 'funny-looking foreigner.'" But, you know, it's still pretty offensive.

Allen's staff, of course, is denying any wrong doing. Hilariously, they claim Allen was trying to say mohawk because of Sidarth's hairstyle. Except Sidarth clearly doesn't have a mohawk. Even if he did have a mohawk, do you really want to vote for a guy who would mangle the pronounciation so badly?

I'm pretty sure Allen won't be running for president anymore.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

On the fast track out of Fond du Lac

Outside Tony Anders’ door are palm trees, relentlessly sunny skies and the Sunset Strip. On weekends he’s getting invites to hang out with Jason Newsted at the "Rock Star: Supernova" mansion. Best of all, his only responsibilities are playing and writing music. And he’s doing it all rent-free.

Yep, dude obviously isn’t still in Fond du Lac.

Anders, the singer/guitarist for FDL’s favorite pop-punk band Verona Grove, packed up for West Hollywood earlier this month with bandmates Max Harder and Charlie Wilhelm to begin work on their first album for Pat’s Record Company, a division of Universal Records that signed the band in June.

Local music followers might know PRC as the big-shot label that scooped up Appleton band The Robins (formerly Number One Fan), who also just left for L.A. to work on an album. Verona Grove hooked up with PRC thanks in part to Justin Perkins, a local music scene legend (and member of the Obsoletes and Yesterday’s Kids) who produced Number One Fan’s "Compromises" CD and recorded the Verona Grove song "Small-Town Celebrity" at Smart Studios in Madison. Perkins put the band in touch with PRC, and the label sent a representative to check out a local Verona Grove show in March.

"We were like, ‘Why the hell are you coming to Wisconsin?’" Anders, 22, said. "They were like, ‘It doesn’t matter where you are. Music is music.’"

PRC is providing a house and rehearsal space for Verona Grove over the next two months so the band can write songs for the new record. The band has already finished 15 tracks, but Anders expects to continue writing so the label has lots to choose from. Verona Grove will be back in Hollywood to record the album, shoot music videos and perpetrate all the other rock star stuff in future months.

Last weekend the band took a break from rehearsing to visit the "Rock Star" mansion where they spied Newsted and the show’s crop of dullard contestants. Sadly they didn’t find their favorite Supernova member. "We wished we saw Tommy Lee but he wasn’t there," Anders said.

Oh well. I guess Anders will have to be content living the dream of a million bands. "It’s cool for the time being to live like this," he said. Pretty soon, Tommy Lee might be checking them out.

Anybody know where I can find video of Boy George sweeping up the streets of New York City and swearing at reporters? Anyone? Bueller?

I've been reading a ton about Boy George's community service for cocaine possession in New York City, which involves sweeping up the streets and taking crap from NYC tabloids. I don't know about you, but that is some serious service that helps not only New York but an entire nation. I appreciate the restitution, because I was pretty put out by George doing all that blow.

Here's a pic, by the way:

I searched YouTube yesterday for some video and came up empty. Anybody have a Web link I can post? This is for the sake of journalism, people!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Todd Snider gets away with it

I am in love with "The Devil You Know," the new album by smartass folk songwriter Todd Snider. I saw him described somewhere as a cross between John Prine and Tom Petty, and while I hate descriptions like that, it will do. (I'd throw in a dash of Randy Newman.)

I became a Snider fan with his previous album, 2004's "East Nashville Skyline," a great collection of short stories about losers and guys too lazy to lose. "The Devil You Know" might even be better. Snider mostly plays electric guitar on this one, and he has assembled a loose rockin' band that sounds drunk on Old Milwaukee and "Sticky Fingers."

The songs, of course, are top notch, both hilarious and full of indignation. The best of the lot is "You Got Away With It," a song sung from the point of view of an frat brother talking to his famous friend. It's pretty obvious by song's end who the bro is addressing, but it's a joy to hear Snider slowly reveal himself through the progressively biting lyrics.

This YouTube clip is of Snider performing "You Got Away With It" at a recent concert. The quality is OK, but it's worth checking out for Snider's trademark stoner dude introduction where he talks about his past adventures at frat parties. If you ever see the man live, you'll find the between-song patter is almost better than the songs. Which is saying a lot.

I strongly recommend going here to hear four songs from "The Devil You Know." You can hear "You Got Away With it" along with "Looking for a Job," a song about an ex-con who isn't about to take guff from the rich guy who hired him to put up day wall.