Deaths All Around

The long shadow cast by the death of Don Knotts[1] has perhaps obscured your awareness of other, lesser known luminaries who have recently passed away. 2006 has brought us the news of the deaths of two of the remaining Cowsills, Billy and Barry. Who are the Cowsills, you say? They’re actually the group upon whom The Partridge Family was based, a family band of teens and a mom that fused the gooey pop of the Monkees with the harmonic inventiveness of the Beach Boys. Take a listen:

The Rain, the Park and Other Things (right click to save as…)

I’m pretty sure the tunes were written by Brill Building songwriters, but we don’t hold that against the Monkees, do we?[2]

We also lost avant-garde jazz guitarist Derek Bailey. I only have some random remixes of his stuff, and since it’s skronky, atonal electric guitar, I’ll spare you a sample.

1.) Can death cast a shadow?
2.) Yes.

Introducing…Sparky McCorkindale!

It has been an interesting and exciting day. The main reason is that I have learned that the keyboardist for Jellyfish, Roger Manning, is playing at South by Southwest on my birthday, March 17th. I have already planned to attend SXSW from the 15th through the 19th, and in addition to Roger, another of my all-time favorites, The Soft.Lightes are playing that same day. Not a bad way to turn 30.

Also, I have been immortalized by the marketing department of Mr. Electric. Today they had us put up a coloring book for kids. They had to come up with names for the characters….and so one of them is named Sparky McCorkindale. Click here for the PDF (5 MB).

Something else I’m excited about is that I just discovered the Toon Disney channel, which has The Tick on EVERY DAY!

Snakes on a Plane!!

Samuel L. Jackson is starring in a movie called Snakes on a Plane. Seriously. He says the title was part of the appeal. Apparently it’s just crazy enough to work, because the Net is already awash in parodies and jokes. If the old adage is true about there being no such thing as bad publicity, this is a good test case:

Snakes on a Plane at Wikipedia
Snakes on a Plane at Wired
Snakes on a Plane 2: Planes on a Snake
Cartoons and T-shirts

Quoth Jackson: “That’s the only reason I took the job: I read the title.”

I just ordered the t-shirt.

This Is Where I’m From #4

You go, Scott Hoffman. Scott has organized an anti-bigotry movement in Harrison. From talking to my mom, I hear it’s getting a little split on the issue of homosexuality, but these things take time. For those who don’t know, Harrison, and Northern Arkansas in general, has a near-zero black population and is generally known as a haven for the KKK and other white supremacist groups. It’s a status based more in perception than in actual fact, though. The old urban legend [1] goes that the grand wizard of the Knights of the KKK came into the Harrison post office for bulk stamps for his operation, and they gave him a packge of Martin Luther King, Jr. stamps. Not sure if it’s really true, but I think it exemplifies most of the population’s stance on the issue.

1.) Harrison is rural, so does it still qualify as “urban”?

How Am I Not Myself?

Some notes from the long icy weekend of staying home:

The DVD commentary by writer/director David O. Russell on I ♥ Huckabees is something I highly recommend. It reminds me of a companion study guide as Russell is given the room to expand on the ideas the film presents. When I first saw the movie, I just enjoyed it as a clever head scratcher, plus I went to a late show and was sleepy at the time. I know my date fell asleep, and I think I may have as well. But after watching it again, I realize it’s a great movie for anyone with an interest in Zen or Existentialism or philosophy in general. It’s a great unpacking of a lot of important concepts for modern, thoughtful living.

I also recommend Kentucky Fried Movie.

Much of my weekend was spent in the music room playing either keyboard or guitar. I plowed through a stack of Guitar One back issues. On the piano I discovered something completely new to me: the black keys spell out an E flat pentatonic minor scale. This means that anything you do will sound cool if you use the E flat key as your tonic. Even better, that black keys are raised, so there’s more lattitude for sloppy playing. This struck me as a tremendous metaphor for music in general: the white keys spell out the traditional C Major/A minor scales that form the basis of European classical music while the black keys spell out the pentatonic scale, the basis for all blues and rock music. Ebony and ivory indeed.

I also got my cool, and apparently rare, Quik Lok tiltable keyboard stand last week. It had been on backorder from Sam Ash for so long I had given up hope of pretending I’m Tom Brislin.

Another pleasant surprise: I never noticed my copy of John Coltrane’s Blue Train had a CD-ROM feature. The bad news: the disc is from the mid-90’s. Meaning it wouldn’t work quite right and I think I accidentally installed Quicktime circa 1997. Oh well, a video and tons of audio interviews will make up for that.

And finally, Bill Graham’s vault. So many vintage posters, t-shirts, and more from the late San Francisco promoter/manager extraordinaire. He is generally credited with inventing the rock concert as we know it, and apparently he was quite the pack rat.  While much of it is super-expensive vintage memorabilia, there are some cool reproduction t-shirts that I’m thinking about getting.

The Film of Tomorrow

“The film of tomorrow appears to me as even more personal than an individual and autobiographical novel, like a confession, or a diary. The young filmmakers will express themselves in the first person and will relate what has happened to them. It may be the story of their first love or their most recent; of their political awakening; the story of a trip, a sickness, their military service, their marriage, their last vacation…and it will be enjoyable because it will be true, and new…The film of tomorrow will not be directed by civil servants of the camera, but by artists for whom shooting a film constitutes a wonderful and thrilling adventure. The film of tomorrow will resemble the person who made it, and the number of spectators will be proportional to the number of friends the director has. The film of tomorrow will be an act of love.”

— François Truffaut, published in Arts magazine, May 1957

I couldn’t help but read that through the lens of blogging. In a few more years, blogs may morph into video podcasting for everyone, and then Truffaut will have been 50 years ahead of his time. Bloggers certainly aren’t filmmakers by any stretch of the imagination, but it still seems like an eerily prescient quotation. I also think it applies to my thrilling adventures with digital photography. I’m certainly no civil servant to the camera.

On a related note, I went to Suncoast last night, and DVDs were all 30% off, and I STILL bought nothing. I’m holding out for 50% off because nobody else cares about the DVDs I want (for example, Truffaut films and other snooty Criterion collection discs).

Happy Hallmark® Day!

I took Stinkfoot to the vet this morning because his left front paw doesn’t appear to be working. He’s been hobbling around for a few days. The vet gave him a shot and some antibiotics, and said if he doesn’t improve in a couple of days to bring him back for an x-ray. As I was waiting for the bill I heard a couple of the nurses talking about Valentine’s Day. One of them said, “we don’t do Valentine’s Day. It’s a Hallmark holiday.”

I can see her point. As much as I actually enjoy having a day to spread love around, for those of us who don’t have a significant other it’s a bit depressing. Like Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year’s, Valentine’s Day is one of those days where single people feel culturally compelled to be doing something special. If we’re not, we’re inevitably depressed. I imagine it’s similar to being a lonely Jew on Christmas.

As a side note, thank heavens for, where people can send odd pictures and leave notes for people rather than buy cards or even e-cards (good ones are really hard to find) for Valentine’s Day.

I am a Genius

America loves reality TV. America loves 24-hour news channel punditry. It’s only a matter of time before we combine them together for a series in which a handful of people are chosen to argue with each other, vote each other off the show, and whoever wins gets to become a Fox News pundit.

You heard it here first. It would be like American Idol, only with less beauty and talent.

Followup Songs

McSweeney’s had a good bit not too long ago about follow up songs to one-hit wonders:

How Are We Going to Get These Dogs Back In?

Bust an Additional Move

Seriously, Eileen, Come On

(Won’t You Give Me a Ride Home From) Funkytown?

Remember When You Lit Up My Life? That Was Great

I Will Now Pass the Dutchie Back to You and Thank You for Passing It to Me Originally Because I Really Enjoyed the Dutchie

The Morning That the Lights Came Back On in Georgia

Everybody Was Kung Fu Making Up

Achier Breakier Heart

Whoomp! There It Continues to Be

867-5309 extension 2

We Never Took It and Persist in Our Refusal to Take It

But I figure, why stop at one-hit wonders?

We Have Successfully Received the Funk

Hit Me Baby One More Time, Then Please Stop Hitting Me

I Wanted You to Want Me, But Now Not So Much

It’s Cooler Now, We Should Put Back On All Our Clothes

Feel free to add your own in the comments section.