This is the ninth year that i’ve put together Trevor’s Poor-Ass Christmas, and it’ll be the third with extensive liner notes. You can check out the 2010 and 2011 liner notes by clicking those years right there.
So as you may already know, the Poor-Ass Christmas Collection (PAC) is a mix of the music that i’ve been listening to relentlessly between birthdays. I hand it out for free to all my friends at my birthday party each year. So if you’re interested in why a specific track is on the disc and what it means to me, read on!
1. Wye Oak/Civilian
Wye Oak’s 2011 album Civilian landed the #1 spot on The Onion’s list of best albums of the year, and that was the first i had heard of it. My friend and co-worker Mike, usually one to have his finger on the proverbial pulse of indie music, had also somehow missed them until that list came out, and fearing for his cred, immediately bought it. He shared it with me, and this song in particular shattered my brain. Even though i can’t understand a lot of the lyrics, the guitars alone trigger emotional responses my android countenance isn’t used to. I get chills every time i heard the whole band kick in after the intro.
2. Geri X - Work is the Wolf
I saw Gainesville, Florida’s Geri X twice in one weekend this summer. She’s really a great performer and a really nice person. Work is the Wolf is the title track off of her new album, and the whole thing is great. I also seriously considered the song Fuck for the compilation this year, but chose this one. As it turns out, i’ve chosen a lot of title tracks this year, purely unintentionally…
3. A Place to Bury Strangers - Onwards Toward the Wall
I’ve been following these guys for a few years. Formerly known as the loudest band in New York, now generally considered the loudest band in the world, they run their guitars through seven amplifiers and the bass through four. It’s noisy metal shoegaze, and i love it. This is the title track from an EP they released early this year. I found a prerelease copy at a used record store in Indianapolis, which you can imagine made me very happy. A couple months later, A Place To Bury Strangers swung by Madison, opening for The Joy Formidable (who put on one of the absolute best live shows i’ve seen this year…i was less fond of their album, though). I ran into guitarist Oliver Ackermann after the show, he was completely fucking smashed, and i had him sign my prerelease EP. “Aaaaahhhh, you work at a radio station, huh!” “Nope, just found this at a used record store in Indianapolis…” “Aahhh those bastards! They’re not supposed to sell these!!” He also didn’t believe me when i told him i’d come for them, not for Joy Formidable.
4. Tegan & Sara - Walking With a Ghost
I was first introduced to Tegan & Sara two years ago, and that story is recounted in the 2010 liner notes. I had thought then that i’d be getting really into them and you’d be hearing them again on the 2011 PAC, but for some reason i didn’t progress much into their catalog beyond Hell, the track on the 2010 CD. However, that changed this year. Even though i had copied all their CDs from the library to my computer, it took finding a copy of So Jealous on CD for a dollar at Half-Price Books to trigger my obsessive Tegan & Sara listening…i’ve since purchased most of their albums, as it should be. Some might argue that picking Walking With a Ghost to represent them on the PAC is wrong and not Trevor-like, since it is their most popular song, but really. Have you listened to this damn song?! It’s SO GOOD. I’ve listened to it on repeat for hours and i learned to play it myself.
5. Biffy Clyro - 57
Yep, Biffy again… One of the most popular rock bands in the world right now, they just can’t seem to break into America for some reason. They’ve got a new album out this year, but it hasn’t yet reached our shores, so i can’t share any brand new material, unfortunately. But in the early part of the year, this song got stuck in my head randomly, and i ended up listening to it on repeat, just like Walking With a Ghost, over. (hey) And over. (hey) And over. (hey) And over.
6. Robots in Disguise - The Sex Has Made Me Stupid
Here is a band that i was introduced to by my former co-worker Tammy. She thought they would be right up my alley, and as it turns out, my alley is not that darkly lit or mysterious. I guess my musical tastes are pretty transparent. I’ve been woefully unable to obtain anything by this band on CD, though. All i had was a shitty copy of this song that i ripped from YouTube until i stumbled across a nice torrent of the album randomly…if i can find a way to legally obtain a physical copy of this for less than $20, though, i’m gonna jump on it. Also check out the music video, it has robots fucking in it and is pretty hilarious. If you’re into that sort of thing.
7. Sexy Ester and the Pretty Mama Sisters - Who Needs Loves Anyway
Sexy Ester, formerly Sexy Ester and the Pretty Mama Sisters, is a Madison band with a powerful frontwoman who will outright destroy your face if you are too close while she is singing. No joke, i had a rhinoplasty after my first Sexy Ester show this summer. I’ve ended up seeing them about four times this year and featuring them on Wisconscene, and the aforementioned frontwoman Lyndsay Evans was one of the first people to recognize me in public as the Wisconscene guy, which felt pretty good. She also gave me their two EPs for free because of it, which is the greatest economic gain i’ve experienced from the show yet. This is my favorite song between the two EPs, though i think they’ve got much better songs. Here’s my advice: see them live. Stand as close to the stage as you can. Here’s a video i did of their song Holding On, live at the High Noon Saloon.
8. t.A.T.u. - Running Blind
I love t.A.T.u.. I absolutely love them. This is not a universal feeling but i am probably going to continue to force them upon you forever. So anyway, i just managed to obtain a copy of their third and final album, Waste Management, in early November of last year (it was never released in the US), and even though i listened to it a lot right away, no particular song had grown on me soon enough to know what should have gone on last year’s PAC. So i hastily added 220, largely because it was in Russian and i had a number of other non-English songs on the comp that year (two in Japanese and one in French). I don’t regret it, 220 is still a really great song, but i really should have gone with White Robe. I didn’t because it had been the lead single from the album, the only single to reach the States at all, and i wanted a deeper cut. I was wrong. White Robe is one of the greatest songs ever. You know what else is a great song? Running Blind. I listened to Waste Management almost every time i went to the gym from last November until about July, and Running Blind and White Robe were the two songs i looked forward to most. And the White Robe remix. God i love t.A.T.u..
9. La Roux - Bulletproof
And when i forgot to bring my iPod to the gym, i was mostly exposed to horrible Top 40 radio. Katy Perry three times an hour. Guaranteed Nickelback. Fucking Ke$ha. In this sea of top shelf poop, there was one song i’d hear almost every day that didn’t make me feel stabby, and the chorus went, “This time, baby, i’ll be bulletproof.” I had no idea what it was, but after a few months i turned to the Google Machine and found an answer, and subsequently wrote an entire blog post about Elly Jackson’s teeth (side note: a comment on that blog post was how i was first exposed to Gotye. Weird how i missed that one for so long). Seriously, watch the music video, and once you get past the fact that it is somehow more 80s than anything that came out between 1980 and 1989, notice her teeth. They’re so…normal. Maybe it’s because she’s British.
10. Beta Male - Are You Holden?
My friend Christina first introduced me to Beta Male, friends of hers from Indianapolis, in March. Again under the heading of “Trevor’s musical tastes are horribly transparent,” she knew which alley she was throwing that ball down, and wouldn’t you know it, a strike. I can’t say much more than that when we were next in Indianapolis a few months later and i got to see them at a small, packed bar, meet them afterward, and interview them for Wisconscene, i felt like may as well have been hanging out with The Beatles. Hearing them play this song live invoked such a strong emotional response in me that i almost lost my shit right there. Of course, it also helps that i’m a film nerd and this song includes quotes from On The Waterfront.
11. Screaming Females - Buried in the Nude
Early this year i discovered No Idea Records, which is a big mail-order record label focused almost entirely on punk music. They deal in CDs and actual vinyl at very low prices. I had gone through and filled up my online shopping cart with every CD they were selling for one dollar or less (somewhere around 40 of them), but for whatever reason never finished the checkout process. They have two compilations available for free download, titled Pretend Record and Pretend Record 2. This song is on the first of those compilations, which i gleefully downloaded since, you know, they’re free, and the first time i heard it, it hit me like a sledgehammer. This band is AWESOME. When i looked to see who it was, and saw the name of the band, i had one of those moments where i felt like the universe was pandering to me (see: Trevor’s musical tastes are easy to predict). I listened to this song a lot for months, and when Screaming Females came through Madison, of course i jumped at it. At the show, i bought all of their albums, a T-shirt, buttons, stickers…pretty much everything i could get my hands on. Their albums are all great, but this song is still the one that resonated with me the hardest. I had posted on their Facebook Event page for the show, “I hope Buried in the Nude is on the setlist!” And it was! I have reason to believe they played it just for me, too, since i’ve stumbled across a few bootlegs from other stops on the tour, and it seems to be the same setlist, but with a cover of Sheryl Crow’s If It Makes You Happy in place of Buried in the Nude. So yeah, winner!
12. Baristacide - Oars in Hands
“Pop punk for people who hate pop punk,” they call it. These guys are probably the most fun band in Madison. I first heard of them in January, we (damidol) had a bunch of bands drop off a bill we were setting up at the Wisco, all told five bands had agreed to play this three-band show and mysteriously backed out, so just a few days before the show i put up an ad on Craigslist, and Baristacide responded within half an hour. It ended up being just the two bands, but they made up for the lack of other act and then some. This show was also the infamous syrup incident, in which the Wisco and many of the people attending ended up covered in Mrs. Buttersworth. I didn’t get the full story on how the hell this happened until about six months later, but i have seen Baristacide about ten times this year and they never fail to disappoint. Even Amanda has gotten really into them to the point of actually wanting to go to their shows, rather than just tolerating me bringing her out, and that’s saying something. I don’t know if Baristacide feels the same, but i consider this their signature song, and it will get stuck in your head for days.
On a side note, their song Hot Pot Unbeliever contains the lyric, “Don’t forget i killed your dad,” which frontman Educational Davis once locked eyes on me and pointed as he sang. This was a powerful moment for me, considering the current relationship i have with my father, which he had no way of knowing about. Just an interesting aside.
13. Venus in Furs - Death of Disco
Venus in Furs and i go way back, to before they were a band. My friend Natalie plays bass for them, we’ve collaborated on a huge number of projects including damidol and like a hundred videos for the company she owns, which i work for. Including the music video for this song, which features a bunny. So, between working on this video and seeing them several times, i’ve listened to this song quite a bit this year, and that’s probably not going to stop.
14. Helliphant - Rats Catsup
Another of Madison’s finest. Helliphant’s been around for a long time, but they first hit my radar just a few years ago when my friend Mike brought their LP Another Glorious Exercise in Horror to work for me to copy, and i, like many before me, became somewhat obsessed with the song Bullshit. They released a new EP this year, Human Beast, which i picked up at the CD release party at Mr. Roberts, a venue i’ve become quite familiar with in the last twelve months, and have filmed many episodes of Wisconscene at. The chorus of this song is really catchy, and i find myself singing it softly to myself frequently.
15. Butt Trumpet - I’m Ugly and I Don’t Know Why
I was casually searching for this album for years. Finding it for a dollar at a Half-Price Books in Indianapolis was one of the greatest moments of my bargain bin-diving life. Great album. This song in particular hooked me, probably because of, “Hey! That’s my boyfriend! Why do you have my boyfriend’s name written on all your pumpkin seeds? I’m gonna have to kick your fuckin’ ass, bitch!”
16. Poopshovel - One Pass Away
I was rummaging through the dollar shelf at a Half-Price books, as i am wont to do, and stumbled across an album by a band called Poopshovel. It was titled, I Came, I Saw, I Had a Hotdog. I said to myself, i don’t know what this is, but it seems like something i should own. After posting this sentiment on Facebook, my friend Bobby commented that they were from Madison, and he knew at least one of them. Funny thing, that. The whole album’s pretty good, but despite being uninterested in football, i latched on to this particular song about a particular Packer game and played the hell out of it. I later found out that the music video ran on MTV at least once in 1990.
17. t.A.T.u. - White Robe
I think i covered everything i needed to say about this up there on track 8. Waste Management is simply the best dance pop album i have ever heard and it needed two tracks included on this year’s PAC.
18. Metric - Speed the Collapse
Metric’s been one of my favorite bigger name bands recently, ever since the first time i heard Gold Guns Girls, and i think Synthetica may actually be the only major release i purchased this year. Oh wait, that and the new Black Light Burns. But those are the only ones. Anyway, by the time this album was released in June i had already noticed how many album title tracks were cropping up in my PAC playlist, but even so, i threw Synthetica in there. It’s a really good song. After i’d had some time with the album, i added this one as well. In the end, it was a really hard choice between them, and Amanda had to break the tie. She picked this one without any discussion of title tracks at all. I’m happy with her choice. And i’m happy with the Synthetica album - i heartily recommend picking it up.
19. Moby - That’s When I Reach For My Revolver
Of course, the year that i christen the Mobyfort, there must be some Moby on the PAC. Maybe i should back up? You don’t know about the Mobyfort? Well, in January, i finally got around to building new shelving for my CDs and getting them out of the moving boxes that most of them haven’t left since my triumphant return to Madison in 2007. I had the 3000+ of them spread out in piles around the entire living room as i sorted and catalogued each and every one of them, and i discovered to my surprised that i own about 30 Moby CD singles. Why? For what purpose? I haven’t a clue. I mean, i like Moby well enough, but do i like him enough that i need thirty separate 3 track CDs with a few non-album remixes? Do I? Probably not. I made a Facebook post proclaiming as much, and one of my friends suggested that i build a Moby fort. The name stuck. So, naturally, i got to thinking about Moby more and more and enjoying his work more and more, particularly the Animal Rights album. It’s pretty different from the music that he’s known for, as in, it’s very guitar-based and very heavy. Also, i’ve recently learned that this song is a Mission of Burma cover. I’ve never listened to them. Perhaps i will.
20. I am Dragon - Get Out of the Corn Maze
damidol played with I am Dragon and The Skintones at the High Noon Saloon in July of last year, one of our best shows and also one of our most poorly attended. This was the first i heard of them. At that show, i was chased by a plastic snowman, which i later wrecked, and have scars on my legs from. The next time we played with I am Dragon, their drummer, Andy, showed up wearing the remains of the lawn ornament, and the rest is history. damidol and I am Dragon, bros for life. Or some such thing. Whatever the kids these days are saying. Get off my lawn.
21. The White Stripes - Walking With a Ghost
The White Stripes need no introduction. They are the greatest rock band of my generation. They are our Beatles. That’s not an opinion, it’s a fact. So i think it’s safe to say that Tegan & Sara have made the big time when the greatest rock band of a generation is covering them. I’m not entirely sure but i may have heard this cover before the original, actually. Anyway i picked up this random White Stripes single from, yeah, the dollar bin at Half-Price, and the song got its hooks in me and that was that. So yeah, both versions get to be on the CD.
22. Sons of Atom - Ice Road Truckers
I’d heard of Madison’s Sons of Atom a few times, but i first saw them when damidol played with them at The Frequency in May, a show which became the first episode of Wisconscene. They’re a great local surf/punk band, they put on a good show. I’ve got a great story about their guitarist, Tim, at a different damidol show, but he probably wouldn’t want me posting it on the internet. Anyway, the Ice Road Truckers are a bunch of fuckers.
23. Pink Razors - Geometric Park
Here’s another band from the No Idea Pretend Record. I don’t really have anything profound to say about this one, i just really like the song. The chorus gets stuck in my head often.
24. Hinckley Design & Production Staff - Mad Rollin Dolls Remix (Reprise)
Hinckley Design & Production is the company i work for. We did this awesome roller derby commercial early this year and it needed a soundtrack, so we put this together. That’s my voice you’re hearing. This has since been adopted by some as the unofficial theme song for the Mad Rollin’ Dolls, as it should be. The DJ has played it at a few of the bouts. It’s so catchy and infectious, how can you not love it?!
Last night i went to see a band that i was really into in high school. I always think that doing that kind of thing is a good idea, for some reason.
I’m talking about Sepultura. Back in high school i couldn’t really afford a lot of CDs, but when i had money, that’s what it went toward, generally. So often, if i’d find them at garage sales for, say, five bucks, i’d consider it a good investment almost regardless of what it was. I think that such was the tale for how i was exposed to Sepultura, when i grabbed Chaos A.D. for maybe two bucks. It had an interesting cover. I was into metal. Or so i thought. I’m not even going to tell you what my definition of “metal” would have been in high school (1999-2003, if you want to figure this out for yourself). Needless to say, Sepultura changed that. Chaos A.D. was unlike anything i’d heard at that point, and it was hypnotic, particularly the tracks Refuse/Resist and Biotech Is Godzilla.
I’ve since obtained about eight Sepultura albums, and in recent years my interest in them has waned. But, similar to the time i saw Meat Puppets a few years ago, when the opportunity to see them live came up, i decided that it was probably one of those things i should do before they die. After all, Sepultura formed the same year that i was born.
The first band, Havok, was alright. Nothing to write home about, but they did the job. Thomas was really excited about them, Bob thought they were ok, and that covers my group pretty well. It should be noted that Bob and Thomas are both members of my band, damidol.
I don’t even remember the name of the second band, but we all thought they were boring, for speed metal. Their songs all sounded the same, and caused me to remark to Bob, “I’ve been watching their guitarist. Why do we play punk music? Metal seems easier.” Midway through their set, Thomas had somehow started talking to these two middle-aged women standing near us, and disappeared with them toward the bar. When they were done playing, Bob and i ventured toward the bar. We learned that one of these women was Sepultura’s accountant, and the other was her friend, who is a doctor. They were good company, we chatted throughout the lull in the show and partway through the next band, Death Angel. They bought us some drinks. Death Angel was pretty good, good stage presence, good music. Thomas and i did some moshing. Blah blah blah. I guess i don’t really have much to say about it.
So when Sepultura came on, fulfilling a desire i’ve harbored for over a decade, an emotion swelled up from my guts, fully encompassing me. It was disappointment.
When your drummer has the most stage presence of the band, and your singer, who is not also playing an instrument, has the least, something’s wrong. I mean, these guys played fast and heavy, just like i expected and just like i wanted to hear, but onstage, they mostly just stand there. Their vocalist, Derrick Green, is great while he’s singing, but when he’s not, he just kind of stands there and either bangs his head (just his head…his body doesn’t move), or air drums. Air drums! Think about that for a minute.
Are you picturing a gigantic black man air drumming while two old hispanic guys rock out on either side of him with a shirtless white 20-year-old beats the fuck out of real drums behind him?
Also i’m a little bitter because, for the first hour of the set, there were these two guys standing right in front of me that kept carelessly backing into me, which was inconsiderate enough considering i had my back to a wall and i was there first, but they kept talking to each other the whole time. I’d try to move left or right a bit to get away from them, but they’d fucking move with me! It was really infuriating because, of course, i was trying to bootleg the show and was holding my H2 right at about shoulder level, or right where their stupid conversation was taking place. I haven’t listened to my recording yet, but i really hope they’re not prominent or anything.
They played Refuse/Resist second, and they didn’t play Biotech Is Godzilla…but they did play Territory so i’m pretty ok with that. They played a two song encore, and after the first one, Derrick Green was trying to incite the audience to shout along with the last song, whether they knew the words or not. I turned to Thomas and shrugged, saying, “Biotech Is Godzilla?” He gave me the toothy, sympathetic “no fucking way” grin and shook his head, because of course it was Roots.
All in all, they played for just over an hour and a half, which certainly isn’t bad, and they still sound great almost three decades in, and for a band with no original members left (i know Paulo Jr. has played bass on all of their albums, but he missed the founding of the band by i think about a year), but they just don’t put on an exciting show.
And, for the record, Biotech is STILL Godzilla.
Today was kind of a shitty day. It’s not normally my way to gripe about a shitty day, since we all have shitty days, and no one wants to read about someone else’s shitty day, as a general principle. But this is going somewhere. Feel free to skip down to the seventh paragraph, if you’d like to come straight to the point.
Today i worked my ass off to finish a project that should’ve been done a week ago, or by Wednesday at least, and i still struggled with it because i massively underestimated the amount of work there was to be done, and also, because my computer was constantly crashing. On top of that, i’ve been sick since Tuesday (though i only just admitted it yesterday, when i interrupted my rhythm at work to go down to Walgreen’s for DayQuil and orange juice, and proceeded to hit that DayQuil as hard as is legally acceptable), so my concentration hasn’t been what it should be. After the project was finally finished, i barely had time to shovel in some food and speed downtown to get to the show on time, the show i’ve had on my calendar for two months now and was giddy like Geddy Lee to see.
It’s a good thing i checked Facebook before i left the office, because the venue had changed. I’d have been pretty upset if i’d found that out after going to the wrong place, especially since, for either venue, getting there involves traversing the University of Wisconsin campus on a Friday night, where the streets are rife with drunken college students who don’t know the difference between a “DON’T WALK” sign and a neon PBR, teasing them from just across this open expanse of perfectly safe four lane blacktop that has no business being between a drunken college student and a PBR. Note: sarcasm. Just thought i’d point that out there.
I got to the Memorial Union at 9:05, or 5 minutes after the show was to begin. I didn’t know the order of the bands so i was freaking out that i’d missed something important. I didn’t have any change to feed the meter, but there was still 5 minutes on it, so i figured i’d go inside and buy a soda quick so i could get some quarters, and find out the status of the bands. It took a little longer than expected, and the first band sounded like hipsters (they were just soundchecking, too; turns out the show was at 9:30), and by the time i walked out of the building at 9:17 (i know the exact time because i texted someone as i was walking out the door), there was already a $30 parking ticket on my vehicle. I’m so glad the UW Campus Police are so adamant about patrolling meters less than an hour before they stop being enforced. Seriously, in that seven minute window…goddammit. I’ll probably mail a sarcastic letter with my payment.
I felt creepy and old hanging around Der Rathskeller with all the college students who appeared too young for their beverages, and i was thoroughly uninspired by the look of the bands and most of the people around…hipsters are a funny concept, on the internet. In the wild, herds of them are a weird and uncomfortable sight to behold. So i went for a walk down State Street and sent some random texts to amuse myself. It turns out it wasn’t that amusing. I went back to the venue, the first band was well into their set, and i walked up front and tried to give the impression i was enjoying myself, but if the band doesn’t even look like they’re enjoying themselves, why should i give a shit?
The second band was almost unbearable, just a bunch of hipster wanking and self-important “we’re so deep” bullshit. Actually, that may be an unfair assessment, i couldn’t understand the lyrics, but i could understand the fans that were walking by my table just outside Der Rathskeller, where i sat reading The Onion. The bottom line is, their music was boring. BORING. I was feeling shittier and shittier about my parking ticket, and thought about leaving out of disgust. It’s a good thing the show itself was free.
And finally, and this is the important part, i was re-educated in the most important lesson i learned in middle school: good music will have a profound emotional impact on you. Always. When Screaming Females, the band i’d put up with all that bullshit to see, finally took the stage, i instantly - instantly! No joke! - forgot about every single shitty aspect of the previous 24 hours and about how stuffed my head felt and all the coughing and sneezing. It all just went away. What followed was forty-one minutes of the purest form of bliss.
I love CDs. I love recorded music because i can listen to it whenever i need it and it’ll do more extensive things to your mind and consciousness than any illicit substance could ever hope to. But live music is approximately infinity times more potent. When that first song ripped through me, about six rows back (can’t stand in front, i’m a bootlegger for life and i don’t want my shit getting distorted), there was a feeling that came over me that i don’t often get even seeing other bands that i love. Maybe the music of Screaming Females is drugs. I don’t know. All i know is that, unlike either of their tourmates, you can feel every bit of soul and passion that they have in each and every single note.
On a more technical level, i’m convinced that Marissa Paternoster is the greatest guitarist since Carrie Brownstein. See, i may not have ever said this out loud before, but in general, i hate guitar solos. Hate them. It’s cool when a band does one every once in a while, but after a few it becomes just so much wanking (then again, i’ve said constantly that i think the most important part of a song is lyrics, but that’s a tangent for another time - or never). Screaming Females, i’ve decided after seeing them live, are absolutely the exception. Well, the second exception - i’ll make a lot of concessions for Rush. But when you see (if you can see - Marissa’s pretty short, and from six rows back…), or hear, Marissa Paternoster launch into a guitar solo, and you will hear it often, you feel that something special has happened, that you’re actually lucky to be in the presence of the master. If i were talking about literally any other guitarist, i would feel dirty just saying something like that. Maybe i just feel this way because i’ve never seen a guitarist with such skill act so humble on stage. And i appreciate that.
They didn’t come back for an encore, even though everyone was yelling. And they didn’t come out to talk to anyone afterward, either, which was really disappointing. And often, if a band acts like that, it sullies my opinion of them. But in this particular case, the music itself speaks louder than anything the band could have done. It’s not like they were actively douchey (even though they’re from New Jersey), they just weren’t very interactive. Maybe they’re socially awkward. I can relate to that.
So here’s my one-sentence review: If you have a musical bucket list, a list of bands to see before you die, put Screaming Females on it; do it now.
In summary, forget everything i said about my stupid life. What’s important is that everyone find a band that does this to you, on an emotional level, and tap into that well as often as you possibly fucking can. Music is important, and if we are going to have underground and local scenes, we need to support them, and support them hard.
God, that last post was a mess. No more writing after drinking.
I’m so tired. But for some reason, i’m feeling the need to fire off a quick blog post about Elly Jackson’s teeth before i go to bed.
Who?, you may find yourself asking. I’m glad you asked.
Elly Jackson is the vocal end of British synthpop band La Roux. I know…for a high school metalhead, turned 20something punk, i sure do listen to a lot of dance pop. Sooner or later i’ll actually post my dissertation on how t.A.T.u.’s discography are concept albums that function as a logical trilogy. I’ve been thinking about it for months. But anyway, back to La Roux.
I hate when i go to the gym and forget my iPod. I don’t know what gyms are like in your area, but the gigantic health club i go to here in Madison plays utter shit music over their soundsystem constantly. I mean Nickelback. I mean Kelly Clarkson. And i most certainly mean Katy Perry. You are almost guaranteed to hear both Firework and Teenage Dream every hour at my gym. I’m fairly certain that they’ve got about forty songs that they play on a constant loop, and it’s not even the current Top 40. Maybe i should be thankful for that.
But anyway, recently they’ve added the song Bulletproof to their repertoire. I found it to be a breath of fresh air, something enjoyable for a change. But since i had only ever heard it at the gym, i didn’t know who or what it was, and this was very disappointing to me. So in the end, i have to say, thank god for Spotify.
This blog is veering wildly off topic, but i think i’m ok with that. I probably don’t have as much to say about Elly Jackson’s teeth, specifically, as i had previously thought.
Spotify, from its inception, seemed a little scary to me. It’s like Grooveshark, but it tells everybody on Facebook what you’re listening to all the time. Which is how i busted my buddy Dan listening to Michael Jackson. And Josh listening to Hanson. I didn’t make either of those situations up. I don’t want people seeing what i’m listening to all the time. I’m friends with members of numerous punk bands on Facebook. If they knew how much Lady Gaga i really listen to, things would get weird. Plus, Spotify plays ads after every few songs, something that Grooveshark never did. On another tangent, Grooveshark recently started doing something almost more annoying. But i’m not witing about that right now.
I hadn’t been to the gym in a while and i kept trying to think of what that song i liked was, and couldn’t come up with it. I got back to the gym last night, hoping to hear that song, so that i could pick out some lyrics and Google them when i got home, but it wasn’t played during my entire workout. I’d like to look at things in the “sooner or later it’ll play during my workout” light, but i’d really rather not torture myself with that much Katy Perry waiting around for it.
Luckily, this morning, i saw on the FB that my friend Jeri had recently listened to a song called Bulletproof. The name, La Roux, seemed unlikely, but a quick YouTube search and, lo!
<iframe width=”560” height=”315” src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/Kk8eJh4i8Lo” frameborder=”0” allowfullscreen></iframe>
God damn, how have i typed so many words without coming to a point? I knew those Long Islands at Applebee’s were a mistake.
Anyway, despite the fact that this video looks more 80s than the 80s did, and the fact that Elly Jackson looks 15 (actually 24, if Wikipedia is to be believed), and the fact that she seems largely disinterested (and simultaneously angry) while doing her singing there, this video made me very happy in ways i’m not sure i understand. I viewed a few more La Roux videos before Bob walked in on me, startling my dogs and destroying my street cred, but her expression seems about the same in all of them. But what really struck me is her teeth, and how prominent they are in the video.
I love that they’re completely uneven. I’m frankly sick of our American packaged pop stars being plastic Barbie dolls with faker facial expressions (see: Katy Perry) and their perfect goddamn teeth. Elly Jackson’s teeth have personality. Maybe it’s just because she’s British, but i think that La Roux’s success in America really goes to show how unnecessary the extensive oral cosmetic surgery done on our pop stars is. It makes them homogenous, disingenuous, and boring to look at. Frankly.
Not to mention unrealistic. Maybe i just really like Elly Jackson’s teeth because her bottom teeth are just like my top teeth. I’ve never felt a need to correct them, either; i had an orthodontist appointment about it once when i thought they were actually damaging my inner lip, but that’s it. My only consideration for braces was purely function over form.
But here’s the weird thing, and the reason i felt inclined to write out a whole blog about this. I felt it was important to say something supportive of Elly Jackson’s teeth, even though i know she’ll never read it and it will in no way influence anyone anywhere. So, with those criteria, i was going to make a Facebook post that said, simply, “I love Elly Jackson’s teeth,” but i thought it would sound sarcastic. Anything i could add to that (that would also be appropriate for a Facebook status) would only compound the problem: “I love Elly Jackson’s teeth because they’re so crooked.” “I love Elly Jackson’s teeth because they’re imperfect.” Even “I love Elly Jackson’s teeth because they have character” felt like it could be misconstrued as an insult. I feel pretty badly about this. I’ve been raised into a world where making fun of someone’s appearance is considered acceptable and is expected. And, of course, when you make fun of someone, you can expect a backlash, if not from that person, from either their supporters or people who have a similar appearance. I was worried that my posting “I love Elly Jackson’s teeth” may cause offense to a close friend with bad teeth (i have no specific close friend with bad teeth in mind; i didn’t think of anyone specific, i simply considered the scenario. So if you thought that that sentence was offensive because i was saying you have bad teeth, then…wait, wait a minute. Actually, if you’re reading that much into it, go fuck yourself).
The point is, none of this should even have crossed my mind in the first place. It’s weird and ridiculous and i shouldn’t even be thinking about these things. Especially this late at night and after all the drinking.
Anyway, i love Elly Jackson’s teeth. For real.
I’ve just seen an amazing show - well, a 2/3 amazing show, anyway - and i’ve got some ranting to do.
The show i’m referring to was The Joy Formidable, A Place to Bury Strangers, and EXITMUSIC at the Majestic Theater in Madison, WI. I’m a huge fan of A Place to Bury Strangers, i have been for about four years, since shortly after their self-titled album was released on Killer Pimp Records, one of the best-named record labels ever. I saw them in 2010, shortly after their second album Exploding Head was released, and mine nearly did. Head explode, that is. That came out more obtusely than intended.
I’d heard of The Joy Formidable before, though i hadn’t ever heard their music. I saw a clip of them performing on Jimmy Kimmel a couple days ago and was bored for about four minutes, and then blown away for about three. Let me just say that their live show tonight was approximately 100% in the latter column. You can solidly count me as a fan. They had a lighthouse on the stage. How can you not like a band that puts a freaking lighthouse on the stage?
The opener, EXITMUSIC, was awful, which i’ll use as a segue into my rants, but will not be the ranting itself. After all, if i posted about every single band that i hated, i’d be blogging multiple times daily and it would get circular and old in a jiffy.
But here’s what i want to rant about: audience members at rock shows these days. Yes, i said “these days,” in exactly the tone of voice that the elderly use when describing whippersnappers, but i’m fairly certain that these behaviors are indigenous to the specific time period we currently inhabit. These two specific acts are things i’ve noted people doing at multiple shows over the last year or two, from local attractions to national and even international touring acts. The Joy Formidable came all the way to Wisconsin today from Wales, and everybody paid fifteen (or seventeen!) dollars to get in. You’d think that would warrant a certain degree of respect for the band.
Exhibit A: Taking pictures of yourself and your stupid friends while the band is playing. Until today my experience was that 100% of the guilty on this one were girls, but as usual, eventually you’ll run into a douchebag who defies the stereotype. Genders aside now, allow me, since this is my rant, to be more specific: standing in the front row of a packed auditorium and taking pictures of yourself and/or your stupid friends THAT DON’T EVEN INCLUDE THE BAND ONSTAGE IN THE BACKGROUND. What the fuck? Why do you do this? If you just want pictures of yourself and/or your stupid friends, go do it at home. Or at least go do it in the back, or at the bar. The venue is filled to capacity with people who just paid fifteen of their hard-earned dollars to see their favorite band from the other side of the ocean, and they have to stand behind your stupid ass who doesn’t even give a shit what’s going on. Why did you pay fifteen dollars to be here? Goddammit. If anyone did this while my band was playing, i’d kick them in the head, since, from the stage, their stupid heads are right at my boot level.
Exhibit B: Talking OVER THE BAND during slow/acoustic songs. I’ve only witnessed this twice, and both times were for international bands. Today it was The Joy Formidable, last year it was Biffy Clyro (twice!). I realize that slowing it down or going acoustic is not going to be everybody’s proverbial cup of lard, but, especially when we’re talking huge bands with international followings, it’s going to be most present people’s proverbial cup of lard. Shut your god damned lard hole already and allow the rest of us to appreciate the rare gift that is being bestowed upon us! As mentioned above, i’m not familiar with The Joy Formidable’s music, but last year when we saw Biffy Clyro (twice!), i knew damn well that what i was hearing was a rarity. When Simon Neil pulls out his acoustic guitar and launches into the song Folding Stars, you shut up and pay attention, because this is likely a once-in-a-lifetime event. But seriously, when your conversation has drowned out the PA, it’s time for you to quit drinking and go home, where you can loudly assert your opinions on sandwich flavors as you like without disturbing 200 other people who paid fifteen dollars to be there.
I’ve mentioned fifteen dollars a number of times. Some may think i’m bitter about having to pay such a hefty sum. They would be right! Fifteen dollars is a lot of dollars to pay to listen to an unidentifiable hipster with an entire can of Pabst stuck in his ironic beard harangue about his organic sandwich! Would you pay me fifteen dollars to hear about my college studentesque culinary experiments? Wait, you would? Fuck, why do i work for a living? Allow me to elaborate on the joys of rye.
So i’ve just started reading Star Trek: The Key Collection, and it may be the most bizarre thing i’ve ever experienced.
But first, let me establish my credentials.
I was absolutely raised on Star Trek. Some people’s parents forced the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John on them, my parents indoctrinated me with Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Scott. Picard and co. didn’t come along until i was 3, and i have vague memories of my family keeping me up late to watch their premier. Those may be false memories, but i’m sure it actually happened. I definitely remember my bedtime being adjusted on the nights of the premiers of DS9 and Voyager, and the Next Gen finale, like some kids got for the Superbowl, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is, i knew how to spot the difference between a Vulcan and a Romulan before i knew the alphabet.
I also remember my parents having a box full of Star Trek comic books when i was a kid. And i remember them not reading them, they stayed in plastic bags and i was allowed to read them exactly one time in my youth, under close supervision. It’s important to note that these were DC’s Star Trek comics.
So i get older and i actually start getting into comics in general, and i’ve always had a hankering to revisit the Star Trek comics world. My dad had a TPB of The Mirror Universe Saga (again, DC’s Star Trek) that i was able to read maybe ten times per year as a teen, but other than that, for some reason Star Trek comics eluded me. Maybe i wasn’t looking for them that hard.
Via Wikipedia, i learned of the Gold Key run of Star Trek comics, which were produced while the original show was actually on the air. Imagine that! Comics produced while all of this was still fresh and new…they must be pretty close to their source material, right? The show and the comic must have influenced each other during the late 60s, right? They’ve even all got photos of the cast on their covers! This shit has got to be spot-on and amazing.
I naturally assumed that i’d never be given the chance to read these old gems. After all, they’re old and largely obscure.
Then, in 2004, Checker Book Publishing Group began to issue TPBs of the Gold Key comics run. Last year at Gen Con, i managed to score all six volumes for five bucks apiece.
Yesterday i started reading them.
Where to start with how bizarre and wrong these comics are? The first issue alone refers to the transporter as a “teleportation chamber” and has at least twenty-five pads, rather than the traditional six, and calls phasers “blast-rays.” From so-called “cannibal plants” to Kirk referring to Rand as “Honey” to flagrant disregard for the Prime Directive to Spock committing mass genocide in a fleeting bit of misguided circular logic, the series’ first issue is kind of a train wreck that is Star Trek in name only. It’s like it was written by somebody who had never seen the show, only had it described to them by somebody who’d seen an episode or two. It’s strange because the entire first season had already run by the time they started making these (first issue: July 1967).
Also, McCoy wears a yellow shirt and the Enterprise flies through space with rockets. And tricorders are apparently “voice-radios.”
But probably the most bizarre thing about these comics are the…shall we say, “colorful metaphors,” which is to say, their swear word substitutes. This being the Silver Age, there was a lot of that going on. Superman always said, “Great Guns!;” Wonder Woman, “Great Hera!;” Green Lantern, “Great Guardians!;” Batman, “Great Scott!” and so on. But so far, with Star Trek, they haven’t used an expression twice. Here’s a list of Kirk’s witticisms in the first issue:
“Great galloping galaxies!”
“Suffering solar showers!”
Now go ahead and try to picture William Shatner saying any one of those lines. I think this is too ridiculous even for the King of the Cheeseballs Himself. Oh and he also tells the away team that they should “Pray, guys. Pray” that Spock can successfully aim the ship’s phasers - i’m sorry, the ship’s “laser beam destruct ray” - at a tree.
I’m trying to keep this review to the first issue, just to show how ridiculous this was from the get-go, but i really can’t resist mentioning that issue two gives the Enterprise a periscope. Because THAT makes perfect sense.
Anyway, i’m going to press on reading this stuff - partly out of morbid curiosity, but mostly because i’ve already paid for it. So i’m sure that i’ll have something more to say on the subject the farther i get into it. Hell, i kind of just want to compile a list of the equipment used in the series. But since most pieces of technology are given names like “TV-radio” (as in, part radio, part TV), i’m probably going to plow through this pretending it’s an adaptation not of Star Trek, but of Flash Gordon.
Which would be easy, except that all the caricatures are pretty well done. Except for Scotty, who for some inexplicable reason looks less like James Doohan and more like Basil Rathbone.
I’m a little upset about Whitney Houston’s death.
Not because i’m a fan, in any capacity. Nor because i think she was a great person who did great things or any of that perhaps-delusional nonsense. No, i’m upset about Whitney Houston’s death because of the public reactions to it across Facebook, the Cheezburger network, and everywhere else i spend time on this vast Sea of Internets. The controversy has been frankly weird and uncalled for.
Yeah, Whitney Houston died at 48 because frankly that’s what happens when you eat a mountain of cocaine with your nose for breakfast. This isn’t something that needed to be pointed out by, you know, everybody. We get it. Quit acting like you’re the only one who knew she was a cokehead.
And sure, i’m irritated by the fairweather fans, or whatever the opposite of that is, who are jumping on the “I always loved Whitney Houston” bandwagon because they think that will make them cool, or something. You didn’t like her, or even didn’t know her, before she died, and i’m not sure who you think you’re fooling.
But by far the people who piss me off the most are the ones who are trying to trivialize her death. Get a grip on yourselves. As Mitch Clem once said, “It’s sad when anybody dies. Anybody. Except Jerry Falwell.” And that applies to Whitney Houston as well. Many people were genuinely touched by her music. That’s the nature of music. So if your intention by spewing acid over anybody who expresses a fondness for her work is to injure that person in some way, then fuck you. Shut up.
What hits me hardest, though, and the reason i chose to write this blog, are the things that are being passed around the internet by that particular subset of people. There’s this one:
Which ticks me off, but not for the reasons it’s getting at. Quorthon’s death is sad, for sure. He will be missed deeply by his friends, family, and fans, who surely consider him more important than Whitney Houston. But here’s what they’re missing: it’s not Whitney Houston’s fault that his death isn’t being covered by the media. It’s theirs. Yes, you very same people who put this exact image together, who are now passing it around your Facebooks and Tumblrs and Twitters and whatever the fuck else, are to blame for his obscurity. Because you didn’t talk about him enough in life. Whitney is remembered by millions because she was topical to millions; i’m willing to bet that the majority of people clicking the “share” button on the Facebook had never cared to mention Quorthon in casual conversation with friends, or even never heard of him until they saw this image, and were suddenly enraged. And besides that, did you make any posts in his memory besides this one? Is your only tribute to this great man to set him next to Whitney Houston, in order to devalue her? That’s really shitty, guys. I’m pretty sure it’s not what Quorthon would have wanted.
In fact, he probably wouldn’t have wanted the rampant media attention that Whitney got. So your point is moot.
But what pisses me off even more are the vast multitudes of posts that say bullshit like, “How can you be upset about Whitney Houston’s death when there are STARVING CHILDREN IN AFRICA?!” or worse, “WHY ARE PEOPLE POSTING ABOUT WHITNEY HOUSTON BUT IGNORING THE TROOPS WHO ARE DYING FOR YOUR FREEDOM?!” If you have posted either of these, i say again, fuck you. Both of those are cheap shots that probably took you less than five seconds to come up with. They’re both the equivalent of a knee-jerk Yo Momma joke, easy to fire off and requiring no thought. And they’re both irrelevant.
Starving children in Africa and our troops overseas have received, by far, more media coverage than Whitney Houston ever has. I’m pretty sure that nobody forgot about those things simply because Whitney Houston came along. Do you want a week-long media circus every single time a child dies in Africa, or for every single fucking troop that comes home in a bodybag? Actually, i kind of do, because if those sorts of things were thrown in the public’s faces on such a regular basis, the war would have ended long ago and some millionaires would probably have actually donated fortunes to African relief rather than tax evasion. But politics aside, Whitney Houston is going to be forgotten by the media, again, within days of her burial. Fallen troops will not. Starving babies will not. These are things that have received far more media attention and Facebook chain-posts than any dead celebrity, and will continue to well into the future, and forever, since we will never achieve world peace, as long as we are humans.
So please, show some fucking respect for the dead. Quit your bitching about Whitney Houston. If she didn’t affect you on a profound level, then ignore it. It’s no harder to ignore a Facebook post about Whitney Houston than it is to ignore a Farmville invitation, and if you don’t like all the media coverage then quit checking TMZ and refocus your valuable time on some other news source. This is the internet, for fuck’s sake. There is no shortage of news outlets, and i’m sure many of them have ignored Whitney Houston entirely.
So stop focusing so much on detracting Whitney Houston and start focusing more on popularizing things you do like. Take that Quorthon example above; here’s what you should have done:
Ok, so this is going to be a blog where i say words. I’m glad we’ve gotten that cleared up.
Anyway, these are going to be a different brand of words than i’ve said in my previous blog, Paradigm Pudding: Exorbitant Ego-Feeding Bullshit. So maybe i’ll even continue to update that one every now and then. No, i’m going to try to actually say stuff about actual things in this blog. Current events, pop culture, and pop culture. Probably mostly pop culture. I’ll try to keep my hands out of the filthy realm of politics for as long as i can, but i’m not guaranteeing that’s going to be very long.
So i started a tumblr. I don’t really know why. Seemed like the thing to do. Sooner or later i’ll come up with something to validate its existence. Until then, well. Here’s another fucking contentless blog.