January Mixtastic

I love my iPod. Perhaps too much. I see myself as my iPod's (named Madrox Jr.) overprotective parent who has all sorts of strict rules on their child, placed out of love. I obsessively correct album information (no greatest hits on Madrox, all that is broken up into the respective albums or singles!), years (I know the Zombies didn't have a single in 1997!), and album artwork (my Features bootlegs have no artwork? I'll fix that with photoshop!). I spend way too much time with this thing.

This has also stretched to playlists. I have "Best Of" compilations for my top 20 favorite artists featuring their 20 best songs. I have a SmartPlayList filled with songs rated 4 or 5 stars that last between 1:45 and 2:15. I have all sorts of playlists designed to introduce me to newer songs, newer songs I haven't listened to, and newer songs that I immediately enjoyed. This has been done to avoid the pesky problem of hitting shuffle and then shuffling my way through hundreds of songs.

The pride and joy of my playlists has to be my monthly mix, my autobiographical journey through song that I compile on the last day of every month and then listen to on the first day of the next. The rules are simple: 30 songs that have been played during the month, 1 per artist, rating of 4 or 5 stars, and no song appearing on any monthly mix more than once (unless special personal reasons apply).

So, for the month of January 2007, the month that started 2007: Kill The Beast, here is the mix and the reasons...

Shout Out Louds "The Comeback" (played @ UCB)
Oasis "Half The World Away" (Emo Personal Junx)
The Rolling Stones "Let's Spend The Night Together" (danced on a bar bench at a birthday party)
Elvis Costello & The Attractions "(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea" (on my best of 70s mix I made this month)
Belle & Sebastian "She's Losing It" (bought on iTunes this month)
Turncoats "Shoot That Girl"
(Murfreesboro band done good, my homesick jam)
Of Montreal "Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse" (big huge Emo Personal Junx)
The Kinks "Waterloo Sunset" (Emo Personal Junx)
XTC "Rocket From A Bottle" (bought "Black Sea" this month)
Cold War Kids "Hospital Beds"
The Apples in Stereo "Energy" (made available for download this month)
The Polyphonic Spree "Section 18 (Everything Starts at the Seam)"
The Beatles "Savoy Truffle"
Fiona Apple "Better Version Of Me"

Rage Against The Machine "Testify" (because I testified this month!)
The Pipettes "We Are The Pipettes" (played @ UCB)
The Futureheads "Back To The Sea" (Emo Personal Junx)
Talking Heads "Cities"
(I listened to my Talking Heads mix this month)
Jonathan Fire*Eater "When The Curtain Calls For You" (I tried to get into JF*E this month)
The Shins "Turn On Me" (got the new album this month)
M.I.A. "U.R.A.Q.T."
Roxy Music "Triptych"
(discovered that Country Life is the first Roxy music album I love from start to finish)
The New Pornographers "Breakin' The Law"
The Strokes "Reptilia"

Arcade Fire "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)"
(played @ UCB as well as Emo Personal Junx)
Beck "Bad Cartridge [E-Pro Remix]"
(played @ UCB)
Clinic "Harvest (Within You)" (got the new album this month)
The Decemberists "The Engine Driver" (Emo Personal Junx)
The Walkmen "Little House Of Savages"
The Buzzcocks "Ever Fallen In Love?"
(got the album at the same time as Emo Personal Junx and it's a brilliant song)

January has been a good year for music so far and it's been documented accurately. Hmm...maybe a little too accurately...

Doing My Duty

There comes a time when a man is called in to do his duty to society. Today, I was that man. And my duty was to testify against the upstanding citizen that broke into my apartment two weeks ago. I foolishly assumed that this adventure would be done by noon if I was a cooperative citizen and arrived bright and early. Eh, wrong.

I was told to arrive at 9 to 9:30 AM, so I got there at 8:45. I didn't intend on getting there that early but it's always a crapshoot as to how long train rides will actually take; hopstop gives accurate directions but their time estimates are otherwordly. I'm to find 360 Adams street which I was assuming would be a dinky little building.

Wrong again. This is clearly going to be more important than just answering a few questions. I enter the building, go through security, and then begin wandering around aimlessly. I knew what to ask upon finding a help desk, but I couldn't even find a help desk. Just more security people and hustle-bustle. I went back to the security guy and he told me where to go.

Room 282. Grand Jury. I remembered this because Bishop's first full appearance was in "Uncanny X-Men" #282. Relating 3 digit numbers to issues of X-Men helps me to remember them.

I get there, stand around, and begin waiting. I fear that I'll miss my name if I put my iPod on, so I finish Davy Rothbart's Found II, the collection of found notes and whatnot from around the globe. When I finish this, I go to meet with the ADA (which stands for A District Attorney or something) who is extremely delightful. I actually have nothing but great things to say about the personel at 360 Adams Street. I go meet with her and we go over the basics of the burglary. Everything was locked, all my stuff was rummaged through, my digital camera and portable DVD player were stolen, all that. She tells me to have a seat and she's hoping it won't be long. Okay.

I go back to the holding room. I have to note that the room is large and filled with two rows of church pews, so this makes for extremely uncomfortable seating. The TV in the corner of the room, which may be the same size as my video iPod, is extremely static filled and tuned to the CW, so you know, quality programming all the way. It's at this time, during a MoPo paternity test, that I saw "screw it" and decide to watch my video iPod, putting in only one earbud to keep an ear out for my name.

I watch Alias ("Tuesday"), Friends ("The One With All The Poker"), and 30 Rock ("Jack-tor"). Yeah, an hour and a half of iPod. Now ADA comes back and tells me that she can't get me in before noon because the other family has a doctor's appointment. Okay.

I'm told to be back at 2, so I go grab lunch. Yes, I grab lunch. I spent $6 on food. This was to be my comic book and comedy money for the day, but, under these circumstances, pizza felt better than the PB&J's I had in my bag.

I get back to 360 at 1:30 because, really, I don't feel like wandering around in the cold. My iPod's battery is low so I decide to go search for a pen. I rationalize that if I find a pen, I will be able to draw on the back of my hopstop directions and keep myself entertained for however long this might take. I like being able to draw.

I search two floors looking on tables, security areas, survey holders, no pens. I go back to the pew-hole and, lo and behold, a pen with a chewed up cap is on a pew. I get the cap off using my hat as a mitten and begin drawing.

I decide to draw the X-Kids, my characters that I have been developing ongoing stories and an entire universe around for over 13 years, as they stand post Civil War crisis. I don't have a scanner, but I have an older picture. Just put (left to right) Wolf's hair in a pony tail, Compact without the cap and with a buzzcut, Magik a lot more frazzled and slutty looking, Dust with a full beard and longer hair, and Holo replaced by Blitz. The team isn't looking too good post Civil War. It's been a hard year for them.

At some point during this artistic endeavor, I'm informed that it's going to be a while. A long while. It's taking a while. I finally get called back and wait outside the room. A man who I think is an off duty cop starts talking to me. He tells me that I need to get a gun. He asks if I have bullets and canned goods for when "the s*** goes down." "How long do you think you'll last without the cops if the s*** goes down?" I tell him I don't think I'll last very long. "What'll you do without bullets and canned goods?"

I have no idea, but I'm getting by now without them.

I get called into the room, filled with half-asleep jurors (seriously, one is snoozing on the second row), and answer the questions. I then leave.

It's 4:00 PM.

I've spent an entire day here, doing my duty. I call into work to tell them that I'm done and they tell me to not bother coming in.



Stars For Dinner: Robert Schneider

I thought of this while sitting on the train and then it came up again in a question on an AMAZING myspace survey I took this morning. Seriously, check that out.

If I could have dinner with a celebrity, who would I choose? Obviously I'd choose more than one, but the first in this series is Apples in Stereo genius/frontman (in correct order) Robert Schneider. During some soul searching, I realized that Robert is my favorite songwriter of all time. "Stream Running Over," "The Rainbow," "Glowworm," "Please," "Go," "Shine A Light," and sweet mother of mercy, "Look Away." He's a pop mastermind that goes unchallenged and has no peers. Sorry Mr. Kevin Barnes, your stuff is just too darn weird. Robert speaks right to my very chocolate-peanut-butter-filled core (I've ate a lot of Reese's lately).

I finally saw the Apples in concert last November and I nearly broke down emotionally. You can read the blog for all the gushy details, but that was one of the best experiences of my life. Robert's recording process for the new album, New Magnetic Wonder, has been documented on youtube and today's video makes me convinced that I want to hang with him. He's so goshdarn happy! I just want to listen to him talk about music and, somewhere, I bet my geekiness and his overlap. Love of Marvel heroes? Star Wars? Retro-sitcoms? The Kinks? Come on, Robert. I know you're down for some dinner. You live in Brooklyn (?), how about some thai food?

Here's part four of the mini-documentary. It shows Robert at his most giddy and control-freaky, an aspect that I relate to.

Music: The New Pornographers "Mass Romantic"

Continuing with my trend of reviewing old music (I can't figure out the new Shins record, darnit!), I figure I should do one that I know well and thoroughly enjoy. Rarely has a first album sounded so powerful and cohesive as this one, especially since the band itself could be considered a supergroup of sorts. Well, a Canadian one, so the prior band names don't mean anything to you. Oh, and Neko Case, alt-country starlet, is here too.

From the start of Mass Romantic's first song, "Mass Romantic," you can feel both the immediacy and quirky take on pop that has driven this band through three albums. A sinister yet bouncy keyboard riff, Case's black velvet voice (yeah, I totally just typed that), and Kurt Dahle's skipping drums are all present here and throughout the album. A truly great opener. Case's vocal contributions throughout the album heighten the band's sense of diversity.

Carl (or A.C.) Newman takes over after this in two equally great power pop tunes, "The Fake Headlines" and "The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism." A true pop genius, Newman knows how to add instrumentatoin to a song to make it seem just left of a sugary sweet melody. Never is this more apparent than on "Mystery Hours," which pulses with a catchy yet darkly heavy synth line before careening the melody down a hill of Dahle's drums.

Compared to Dan Bejar, though, Newman might as well be writing run of the mill ditties for Alan Jackson. His four entries, "Jackie," "To Wild Homes," "Execution Day," and "Breakin' The Law" are all stand outs and overload the listener in sunshiney melodies while also proving to be downright baffling and impossible to predict. "Jackie" goes from a calm ditty to a Beach Boys-ian burst to a series of harsh pleads to the title gal. Similarly, "Execution Day" is gloriously creepy and "To Wild Homes" is made for cinema. Not film, cinema. Bejar's quartet are highlights.

The only drawback is that I feel the album loses a bit of steam before the Bejar penned closing song, "Breakin' The Law" (which features the great line "liar, liar/everything's on fire"). "Centre For Holy Wars" and "The Mary Martin Show" are fine songs, but almost feel like retreads by the time they arrive late in the album.

Overall, The New Pornographers are great. Period.

MY SCORE: 8.3 (out of 10)

Most Beautiful Ski Lift Ever

Legendary producer and feather boa enthusiast Brian Eno will be producing Coldplay's fourth album. Doesn't hiring Eno go against the band's Mission Statement of Bland?

The Swiss ski resort Verbier named a new chairlift after gratingly awful singer James Blunt. And why? Why, because Blunt is moving to Verbier so he can hopefully dodge UK taxes. So...tax evasion equals getting a chairlift named after you? Only in Europe...

Victoria Beckham answered the rumors about her conversion to Scientology with the statement "there's no way I'd spend any money on that nonsense." And I always thought Ginger was the sassy one!


TV: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip "The Harriet Dinner"

Oh well. Last week saw Studio 60 do an about face and go giddily towards the land of primetime soap, much to my surprise and delight. This week follows that episode up with something odd. It's not as much fun as last week and it's not as serious as before. It's just here.

There really wasn't anything tonight to get excited over. Things are progressing in a predictble fashion. As soon as Matt tells Tom to lie to Lucy, you know it's going to end poorly. Similarly, Danny getting locked on the roof with Jordan? Come on. And a loose snake to boot. Animals on the run and getting locked out; I think Sorkin is now resorting to stock plots from Full House. Next week Jordan goes into labor during a Flintstones sketch and Simon, dressed as Fred, has to get his appendix out. I also hear Andrea Barber is going to host a future episode.

Still, not that tonight wasn't enjoyable. The actors are all top notch and the characters, while they've started to suffer from Sorkin's ton-o-dialogue, are still relatable. My heart was breaking a bit when Lucy saw Tom. Don't hurt Dawn! Especially you, Tom, who I don't find funny at all. It's weird that I can see Nate Corddry as a sketch comedian but not Tom Jeter. Tom is just wishy washy, dull, and too fact oriented for me to take seriously as a guy who is not serious for a living. Liven the guy up! I have this problem with the entire "cast," actually. Aside from D.L. Hughley, the rest of them act as serious as the execs. Fix that.

And come on, that Mick Jagger movie looks like crap on a stick. I thought Harriet might have been involved in a modestly budgeted porn for a second.

MY SCORE: *** (out of 5)

Bank Buster

I've been spending money like I gots it lately. Five nights in a row at UCB (one of which was free, but still), one CD, a couple of iTunes songs (I stopped short of buying Pac-Man...for now), and food every day (this is just a waste).

I am stating right now that I am only spending $20 this week. I'm going to UCB tomorrow and Thursday, that's $10. I'm going to see a classmate on Wednesday night do stand up, so I'm at $15. Hmm...this is only til Friday but I highly doubt I'll be doing anything this weekend aside from starting improv201. As long as I bring lunch and, on some days, dinner, I can do this. Here I go.

"Break It All" by Los Shakers *****
"Everybody's Gonna Be Happy" by The Kinks *****
"Liar, Liar" by The Castaways ****

There's nothing.

Nothing of interest is really going on today. I mean, yeah, there's a buttload of news about Isaiahgate (TR might be leaving Grey's Anatomy) but I don't watch the show. Also, George Clooney is denying slumming with Pamela Anderson and Perez Hilton caught Clay Aiken surfing the web for some Southern Man Love. Really, this doesn't even compare to the marvel of internet-celebrity-manipulation that was The Stephanie Tanner Project.

The biggest news this morning is the copy of my Improv 101 class photo, taken after our *amazing* debut performance. We are Chanteuse, named after our teacher Ari Chanteuse Voukydis. 101 was one of the highlights of my life, I hope 201 (starting Sunday) tops it.

Best Week Ever posted a from my alma mater. It's pretty rad.

"Children of Kellogg" by Clinic ***
"Paradise" by Clinic **
"Tusk" by Clinic ***



I just discovered iLike, some weird website that attaches to your iTunes like the symbiote did to Peter Parker on the Beyonder's world during the first Secret War. Just, hopefully not without those consequences. It keeps tabs of what you play and all that, making suggestions for other bands you might like (free if the artist is unsigned, buy it in iTunes if they are). This is another time waster. A cool feature is that every song in iTunes is translated to iLike where you can click on a little box and it shows you related videos for each song. I discovered this video of Roxy Music doing the classic "Remake/Remodel." It's genius. 1973, people. 1973.

"Why Bother" by Weezer *****
"Jane" by Elf Power ****
"Devil's Haircut" by Beck ****

Music: Jonathan Fire*Eater "Wolf Songs For Lambs"

For an album that turns ten years old this October, Wolf Songs for Lambs has aged remarkably well. In fact, I can’t imagine listening to this in 1997, the same year Jewel, The Wallflowers, Third Eye Blind and the Spice Girls were burning up the charts. Upon listening to this album, the immediate thought is “this sounds just like Clinic or Clap Your Hands Say Yeah or any of those other hyped band-of-the-minute.” But this came out years before any of that, so I’m left wondering where this came from. I guess I should investigate early-to-mid-90s indie rock, but I just can’t get into Pavement. I’ve tried.

So, to the album at hand. I first acquired this from a friend almost two years ago along with 900 other songs. This got lost in the shuffle until I decided to listen to the whole thing from beginning to end a week or so ago. The overall mystery surrounding this band and its placement in the late-90s music hellhole has become as integral as the music to me when listening to this album. The cocky confidence that spits out of “Station Coffee” and snotty rhythm of “No Love Like That” baffle me with their relevance to today’s music and their innate catchiness. These two are the highlights of the album for me, by far. The pulsating and pounding beats mixed with 60s garage/circus keyboards of “Bipolar Summer” provide another stand out along with the opener, “When the Curtain Calls for You.”

And now is where I bring up what this band turned into after their demise: the Walkmen. I don’t like the Walkmen. I’ve tried. I like “The Rat” and “We’ve Been Had.” There are one or two other songs on Bows + Arrows that I can get behind, but overall I just find their wall of sound and pummeling and unchanging rhythms to be monotonous and void of a catchy melody. I don’t get it. I’m still trying, though. And there are moments on this album that give evidence that Hamilton Leithauser, the main difference between the two bands, is not entirely at fault for this sound. “Everybody Plays the Mime” and the album’s closing songs, “A Night in the Nursery” and “Impatient Talent Show,” do that thing that I hate for music to do: focus on creating an atmosphere. That may be fine to some people, but not me. I love the Apples in Stereo and the Hives, if that’s any indication as to my thoughts on ‘atmosphere.’

The album’s okay and I can get into this more so than the Walkmen. Maybe that’s because it seems like the band has more of a rebellious swagger to them (like early Strokes) than the Walkmen, a band that seems to really believe their own hype.

(out of 10)


Today was a good day. I've started to digest two highly enjoyable albums ("Black Sea" by XTC and "Visitations" by Clinic) and watched two enjoyable movies (The Big Lebowski and Dr. Strangelove). I would write detailed reviews of the movies, but they wouldn't amount to more than "they was funnys" and "I don't like ba-bombs, but I do like seeing nihilists get pained!!1" Seriously, I can't review movies. So the 100 Film Initiative soldiers on, Adaptation and Harold and Maude are next.

The evening was spent with a friend I haven't seen in a while, good time catching up. We ate at BRGR, which I pronounce exactly like it's spelled for the sheer fun of it, and did not get sick. In fact, it was delicious. I ate a hamburger that was not made by a pedophile clown! And yes, that was a McDonald's reference!

Post-BRGR (who needs consonants?!), I took my lovely guest to see Reuben Williams at UCB. This was my fifth night in a row spent at UCB. My friends back home used to be shocked when I'd call them from the line at Death By Roo Roo almost every Friday last Fall, wondering how I could go all the time. That was when it was weekly. Now it's nightly. Of course this isn't like going to see a band or a movie every night, which I think people who aren't familiar with improv may liken it to. I understand that. I can't think of anything else like improv, where everytime you go it is 100% different. It's like going over to a friend's house (their basement) and watching a never before seen episode of your favorite sitcom/humorous television show. Tuesday was Harold night, Wednesday was sketch night, Thursday was Magnet and Cage Match, I saw the Stepfathers for the first time last night, and tonight was Reuben Williams again.

For my own future reference, I've now seen ReWi (the abbreviation that's sweeping the nation) five times in fifteen days.

And now I'm back at home, listening to the smoothly abrasive sounds of Showtime at the Apollo. This is a much better follow-up to SNL than the old SNL's they show back home. Sing it, kid! You can touch the sky!


Music: Of Montreal "Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?"

I've been a fan of Of Montreal since I saw them on their tour supporting Aldhils Arboretum in early 2003. I immediately became engrossed in the world of Barnes, Kevin Barnes' whimsical world of miniature philophers, boxers, old people in cemetaries, girls named April with problems, those lovely brothers Joseph and Alexander, Jennifer Louise, Penelope, Natalie and Effie, and army kids. Aldhils and the four albums that preceeded it became everything I knew about Of Montreal and everything I thought I would ever know.

Then Satanic Panic in the Attic came out. And I was/am a huge fan. The band's foray into electro pop ("Disconnect the Dots" and "Rapture Rapes the Muses") were standout tracks, but I still loved the new sounding Of Montreal of old ("My British Tour Diary" and "Eros' Entropic Tundra"). This became the first album by them that I could listen to from beginning to end. Flawless. Except "City Bird" which I could never get behind. I don't like slow jams

So that was, good, glad they got that highly produced thing out of their system, get back to using xylophones and oboes. Then The Sunlandic Twins came out. Okay. The songs on here made "Rapture Rapes the Muses" sound like Joni Mitchell. Still, "So Begins Our Alabee' and "The Party's Crashing Us" are great songs. The album itself was not as coherent as Satanic Panic, but surely now Kevin had gotten the electro pop bug out of him.

Then a strange thing happened. The band had songs on MTV, in Outback commercials, and people everywhere started knowing who Of Montreal were. People who didn't realize that "the Antarctica song" was, in fact, from their ninth studio release. There was a huge back catalogue of material that didn't feature synths! A huge back catalogue that has since been shelved from the band's live performance to make way for the last two albums

When I found a copy of this album in "The Late Show" free box back in early October, I was elated. Upon first listen, though, I was disappointed. This is Of Montreal now. Three albums of dancey funk marks a permanent change of style. Satanic Panic, the album I still hold as their finest, can now be seen as the end of the band's whimsy. Goodbye Brian Wilson, hello Prince.

This immediate disappiontment caused me to almost write the band off. I viewed the funk slink of "Faberge Falls for Shuggie" with a cynical gaze, same went for the sex kitten in heat vocals of "Labyrinthian Pomp". Oh well. This album's okay.

Over the course of three and a half months, certain songs grew on me, others I couldn't differentiate from others. Then I read Pitchfork's album review and had an epiphany (I love reading album reviews, mainly because they open my eyes up to viewpoints that I just can't arrive to on my own). This is a breakup album. An upbeat breakup album. I won't go into the perfect timing of this realization and events in my life, but upon listening to the album again it became a lot stronger.

Yes, Kevin Barnes is stuck in his ways and, annoyingly, most of the instrumentation on this album will be played by a computer during their live shows. But that doesn't ruin the listening experience as I sit on the subway with my iPod.

The opening plea of "Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse" is so heartbreaking; "I'm in crisis/I need help/Come on mood shift-shift back to good again." The following sonic sugar that follows in the keyboard riff is just the type of pick-me-up one needs after uttering or thinking that line. The structure of the album is also interesting, with the 12-minute epic that falls halfway through the album ("The Past is a Grotesque Animal") serving as a turning point. Prior to this, the songs were upbeat yet focusing on the dissolution of a relationship. This also marks a turning point for Barnes since no songs on this album are the wee little tales that used to be the highlight of any Of Montreal album (or the entire album, like The Gay Parade). After "The Past is a Grotesque Animal," Kevin Barnes begins exploring phase two of the breakup; rebounding. And lots of it. It now makes sense why there's a trio of sex-romps after "Grotesque" followed by the final straw and stab at revenge on "She's A Rejector."

But still, not every song is a highlight. While I like every track, "Sink the Seine" doesn't hold up without the album to put it in context and "Bunny Ain't No Kind of Rider" is enjoyable but repetitive. And while changes in mood and structure are one thing that Of Montreal have not lost over the years, I don't like where "Labyrinthian Pomp" winds up after such a catchy and off kilter beginning.

Now that I've figured it out, this album is a highlight in the Of Montreal canon. I can now put my grief behind me and enjoy the new Of Montreal. Of course, who knows what style Kevin Barnes will decide to tackle next. Since it seems like he's been moving forward through popular music trends, we could be hearing Of Montreal's take on grunge, gangsta rap next. I'd be down with that.

MY SCORE: 7.7 (out of 10)

Comics: X-Factor #15 "Multiple Issues Part 2"

Multiple Issues Part 2
Peter David
Art: Pablo Raimondi
Colors: Brian Reber
Letters: VC's Cory Petit
Assistant Editor: Sean Ryan
Editor: Andy Schmidt
Editor In Chief: Joe Quesada
Publisher: Dan Buckley

It's been a while since I reviewed a comic through words and not just judgments in my head. I used to do it regularly over at Digsy Reviews, but the release of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith curtailed my reviews for a good while and I got extremely behind. I saw that movie in the theater a lot. Wow, Star Wars got in the way of my comic reviewing. Nerd.

This is as good a place as any to start up again, especially with this issue. Since the third volume of X-Factor started up in late 2005, it has been consistently excellent. After the personal crises of the last arc, Madrox realized (through Doc Samson) that the only way to get himself together is to, literally, get himself together; to gather up all the multiples that he sent out years ago and reabsorb them. Last issue we met Jamie Madrox: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and this issue the main Madrox becomes Jamie Madrox: Prisoner of Hydra.

Hydra's hired the guy who hypnotized Guido in the previous arc to break Madrox down in order to retrofit him with an allegiance and affinity for Hydra. Madrox's prisoner status gives Peter David the perfect opportunity to bring Madrox's old humor back. Since Madrox is the leader of this new team, he rarely gets the opporunity to be the goof-ball-mayo-jar-Jamie of old (which was pointed out in the stellar previous issue). As a prisoner, he freely mocks Doc Locke and ponders the shirt logistics of the motto "cut off a limb and two more shall ltake its place." I've missed this Madrox

Elsewhere, Siryn and M do some bonding and, to prove a point, go to jail after stopping a near riot. This is an okay B-story, but it's elevated by the characterization of M. M has been such a frustration until David started writing her. I mean, when your origin involves being turned into a diamond-hard crimson mute and having your twin sisters go all gestalty to replace you, only to eventually break free of the crimson prison to never really acknowledge it again (thanks Larry Hama and Jay Faerber).....yeah, pretty confusing/bad. David is doing his best to figure out what makes this M work and he's doing it well, especially by contrasting her with Siryn. The two are both strong women with completely opposite viewpoints.

Madrox's parents make their first appearance in his hypnotised state in a scene that is both disturbing and indicative of Madrox's inner problems. The ending of this issue raises many questions and ensures that this arc is going to be interesting, if not the best of the series.

MY SCORE: 9.4 (out of 10)


Beard Of Glory

Every now and then, usually once a year, I get the urge to chuck my electric/inefficient razor out the window and grow a beard. My father used to do this every winter and then shave it every spring, but I'm not so dictated by seasons. I always grow and shave it depending on some sort of whim usually associated with an "extreme" emotion. "Extreme" is extremely in quotes since I don't think I've ever felt an extreme emotion. Except for during the last episode of "Buffy" and whenever I hear the Strokes play "Reptilia" in concert.

The Beast that is 2007 has made me grow a beard. It's now been 11 days without shaving and I know everyone is curious. I was going to take a photo of this, document this process for the first time (somehow I manage to avoid cameras during my bearded months), but the young punks (when they weren't spilling beer on Phil Collins' shoes) that broke into my apartment ganked by digital camera and my clunky portable DVD player. Well whatever, I was wanting a new camera anyway. And my video iPod is much more portable. So thank you young punks.

For those who care, I look a tad bit rougher than Mr. Meloy up there. When will this madness stop? Maybe whenever the temperature rises and my face doesn't need protection.

I guess the seasons play a role in this a little bit.

"Serenade" by Roxy Music ****
"Grey Lagoons" by Roxy Music ****
"Mother Of Pearl" by Roxy Music *****

High of 18

The high today is 18. The wind chill, according to the NBC affiliate's weather person (I will not learn these names, out of respect to my beloved Nashville anchors), plummets the temp into the single digits. I don't think I've experienced that before and, while my time outdoors is limited, I'm mighty terrified.

Someone in the Van Halen camp told them that in order to endear themselves to the current generation on any level outside of the obvious ironic/nostalgic one, they need to add some wolf. Wolfmother, Wolf Parade....meet Wolfgang Van Halen. Killer of lycanthropes by full-moon-filled-night, bassist to the gods every other night.

While I haven't read all of it yet, John Hodgman has a new article up at wired and, if it's anything like his book, it's the best thing you'll read all day. We're also buds, as evidenced above. And some day, when I make the big bucks, I will own a pair of glasses like his to be worn on days that I feel need them.

Yeah, David Gregory is hilarious. Let's just say Jim Breuer will host the "Today" show permanently before this guy.

Hang Out Whore

I'm a hang-out whore. I was all set on going home last night, watching Must-See-TV (which I'm not sure if that's the official title again, but it should be), finishing The Big Lebowski, writing oodles of reviews for all of the aforementioned media...but instead I got the call

A classmate from my past (improv101) and future (improv201) called and asked me if I was going to Cage Match at UCB. I was all like, "I want to but wandering around the city for four hours, kinda lame. Only so many books about 1980s indie music at Border's for me to look at. And I'm not even that big of a fan of 1980s indie music." She was all like, "then come to The Magnet Theater with me and my friend, then we'll head to The Match!" Neither of us actually talk like this.

So yes, I did both. Things I like about The Magnet:

1. Same cheap prices as UCB. Imrpov clubs in Boston charge $20 a show. That's insane. What makes them think improv fans have money? We spend it all on comics and tv on dvd.

2. Old school Pac-Man arcade game. I haven't played this but it's similar to the one in the Pizza Hut of my childhood (everyone has that one special Pizza Hut, ya know?).

3. A large-ish lobby with couches, and you are encouraged to wait inside. This may be because there isn't as high of a traffic flow at Magnet as there is at UCB (at least there hasn't been on the two occasions I've been). Of course, we were encouraged to wait inside at UCB last night (or rather, not discouraged) due to the cold.

4. Cup holders in the chairs.

Still, my heart belongs to UCB and Cage Match did not disappoint. T.R.U.C.K.S. vs. Reuben Williams. Whereas earlier I said reviewing improv was in poor taste, I guess Cage Match asks you to not only judge and review it, but reward it. I voted for Reuben Williams (I may be breaking some sort of code by revealing this) but I am also a T.R.U.C.K.S. enthusiast. Nick Ross is fascinating to watch, he dives in and out of a wide array of characters with such ease! I've seen both Amber and Bridie do sketches at other shows, both of which were impressive. Bridie also made fun of me during one of her sketches, so props to her. But I've been on a Reuben kick lately and they wowed me again. But a good night overall. I've never seen a bad show at UCB.

"The Infanta" by The Decemberists ****
"We Both Go Down Together" by The Decemberists *****
"Angel, Won't You Call Me?" by The Decemberists *****


Sketchy McSketcherson

Days at The Big Kid Job are really long. 9.5 hours? With no definitive lunch break? I mean, that's cool, whatev. I'm getting Big Kid Money that I can use to buy classes at UCB and keep me knee deep in comics. Fine. But the "no definitive break" thing and the fact that, hello, I'm at a computer all day means that I end up spending way too much time on myspace and facebook. But then again, I've done "a lot" of work today and I can "justify" this blogging.

I went to the free UCB winter showcase last night, mainly because my 101 teacher Ari Voukydis was performing with his group, Mark & Ari. I was definitely entertained and inspired, all around (I'm pretty much going to gush like this everyime I blog about UCB, unless I'm attacked by a ferret there). It made me miss the days when I would actually write sketches and then, you know, get people in them and then, you know, tape them for my comedy show. Good times.

I've been keeping a piece of paper in my wallet to document sketch ideas as they come. Good idea. Also, if I ever volunteer for the second half of Reuben Williams' show, they'll have to figure out what "Cthulu Hype Man" and "Rage Against The Oscars" mean.

"Neat Little Domestic Life" by Of Montreal ****
"The March of the Gay Parade" by Of Montreal **
"Jacques Lamure" by Of Montreal ****

Cold War 2.0

Part of my new Big Kid Job is to look through blogs daily. So, in an effort to stay true/in touch with my roots, I've started reading Nashville Cream. Homesick, I am. One of the articles that got my attention involves former blog/indie darlings Cold War Kids and the current backlash against them. Most of this backlash centers around the band's religious background (they met at BIOLA!) and their maybe/sorta denial of it. Or they just aren't acknowledging it. Or people are using their *sorta* religiosity (real word?) as a scapegoat for just not liking their music.

Here's my take, because everyone really cares. But the world of blogging means that everyone gets a say. Hmm...

The band performed on "The Late Show" on my last day, the same night that "The Tonight Show" had The Killers. Perfect example of why I love "The Late Show" and why I loved being there; the show brought "who is that?" artists to a wide-ish audience. I bought the CD over Christmas break (which is a term I don't think I can use anymore since I've graduated) and it's highly enjoyable. I noticed that the album has a dirty South feel, and not the kind that Ludacris goes for. I notice lyrics but rarely pick up on true meanings unless they're obvious ("Lola" is totally a dude, even I got that). I like the Cold War Kids' CD. Good songs.

And really, if this is Christian music, it's better than this.

So that's as far as I go. The Pitchfork review was really hateful, but can one expect anything else from them? I cite this Apples in Stereo review often. How about reviewing the music?

"Hospital Beds" by Cold War Kids ****
"Everybody's Happy Nowadays" by The Buzzcocks ****
"Tell Me In The Morning" by Cold War Kids ****

Just another Thursday...

Holy crap, this day is crazy!

Here's the first glimpse at Optimus Prime from the Michael Bay directed Transformers flick coming out this summer.

Everyone's favorite whore rag has run into even more embarrassment, and this time you can own it! This website is selling items found in Paris' storage locker that she, oops, forgot to pay for. Really? Paris forgot something other than a bra with decent support...or a bra? Poor girl.

Brandy killed someone. That's not good.

"Can't Get There From Here" by R.E.M. ****
"Over & Over" by Hot Chip ***
"Aeroplane Blues" by The Black Keys ***


Harold Night 1-23-07

I'll now introduce my love of improv comedy to this blog.

Love of improv comedy, here's my blog.



Fast friends! Anywho, I've been going to the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater more than ever (four times last week). This is part of 2007: Kill The Beast, you know, becoming more social. I ran into someone from "Late Show" last night at UCB and actually looked as if I was somewhat social to those gathered around. Nice.

Performing last night, to my delight, were Creep, Tantrum and Beverly Hills. I missed the first group and, really, I can't remember who it was supposed to be. The main purpose of this blog is to review things and for me to give my malformed opinions on them...but I can't do that with improv. Improv is totally about being in the moment and to go back and dissect it is to do it a disservice. I'll just say I laughed heartily many times and wished that I could do what they do.

My level 201 improv class starts soon. Not soon enough.

I'm going again tonight to the free winter showcase that my old teacher, Ari Voukydis, is performing at. Exciting!

"Bunny Ain't No Kind Of Rider" by Of Montreal ***
"The Past Is A Grotesque Animal" by Of Montreal ****
"A Sentence Of Sorts In Kongsvinger" by Of Montreal *****


A true yankee bayonet

I purchased my ticket to see the Decemberists today at 1:00. Buying tickets is normally a pain but, somehow, this went quite smoothly. I will be seeing the band on March 24th at some place called Avalon (props if your mind immediately goes to The Acolytes HQ, mid-90s X-Men reference) in Boston.

Tickets weren't so bad, $30.99 is a lot cheaper than their Bowery Ballroom concert late last year.

This'll be my first time seeing them. Nothing but a flimsy metal gate between me and Colin Meloy. Of course there was nothing between us when he walked by me in the airlock back when I was an intern at "The Late Show" (oh, November was so long ago!). Whatever. I'm excited. Debating on wearing period garb.

"The Hives Are Law, You Are Crime" by The Hives *****
"6060-842" by The B-52's *****
"Who Is It?" by Talking Heads *****

Oscar Schmoscar!

As someone who does not follow the world of film (see: The 100 Film Initiative), Oscar nom day is like any other day. Except I shouldn't expect to watch anything on E! that doesn't deal with golden statues. Not like I watch E! often or ever. But anyway. Here are the noms and the level of hoot I give.

Performance by an actor in a leading role
Leonardo DiCaprio - BLOOD DIAMOND
Ryan Gosling - HALF NELSON
Peter O'Toole - VENUS

My Hoot: Don't give a hoot. Didn't see any of these movies and, really, Ryan Gosling? Where did that come from? Is his entire family in the Academy?

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Jackie Earle Haley - LITTLE CHILDREN
Djimon Hounsou - BLOOD DIAMOND
Eddie Murphy - DREAMGIRLS
Mark Wahlberg - THE DEPARTED

My Hoot: I give a little hoot. Eddie Murphy pretty much stole every scene he was in for just acting like the Eddie Murphy of old (the one who said "shut up!" with such vim and vigor on SNL). But Alan Arkin for "Little Miss Sunshine"? Wasn't he dead for most of the movie?

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Penélope Cruz - VOLVER
Helen Mirren - THE QUEEN

My Hoot: Microscopic hoot. I'm just pleased that Meryl was nominated for a comedic movie. That I didn't see. But still, I like comedies getting love. No Beyonce either. That's fine.

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Adriana Barraza - BABEL
Cate Blanchett - NOTES ON A SCANDAL
Jennifer Hudson - DREAMGIRLS
Rinko Kikuchi - BABEL

My Hoot: I give a hoot. Jennifer Hudson cut through all the hype and made me a fan. She stole "Dreamgirls" and this Rags To Riches Story: 2007 Edition I am all about.

Best motion picture of the year

My Hoot: I would have given a hoot if "Dreamgirls" hadn't been shafted. And "Little Miss Sunshine" has zero chance. Whatev.

Achievement in directing
BABEL - Alejandro González Iñárritu
THE DEPARTED - Martin Scorsese
THE QUEEN - Stephen Frears
UNITED 93 - Paul Greengrass

My Hoot: Hoot for a friend. Mr. Botox himself, Clint, only got one nod leaving it somewhat even for Scorsese to pull ahead. I'm rooting for him.

And who cares about the rest, really? "X3" didn't get nominated for makeup, getting bested by "Click." Hah. That shows them right! Next time, don't make a shitty movie.

I promise I'll have bigger hoots when the Emmy's are announced.


Beginning of a beautiful relationship...

I've been fiddling with this a lot. Here's me posting nothing. I promise to not do this often. Lots of links on the side now. Yes, I use dictionary.com a lot. Mainly so I can verify that the big words I read in comics mean what I think they mean.

Oh, am I patheti-sad.

That word is from "The Drew Carey Show."

"Elenore" by The Turtles ****
"River Euphrates" by Pixies ****
"Cato As A Pun" by Of Montreal ****

TV: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip "Monday"

Not a lot has changed on the TV landscape since the last Studio 60 a month and a half ago, but with 11 more episodes in the season (merciful NBC) and stagnant ratings along with tone, Studio 60 returns tonight a changed show.

And I liked it. Even if the changes were crazy obvious.

Mr. Sorkin has, from my knowledge, always been anti-personal stories. At least that's what I remember his statement being back when Amanda Peet's pregnancy first became public. The guy who said "this show focuses only on business" just got handed a pregnancy that had to either be answered with lots of flowy coats and tight shots or, gasp, a dive into the personal story pool.

And tonight Sorkin dove right in. Straight in the deep end. The man is drowning.

Danny loves Jordan (stalky!), Matt loves Harriet (obvious!), Tom loves Lucy (huh?), it's all new territory for the show and tonight big advancements were made. I, for one, enjoy all three relationships and am glad that they're being pursued. After all the Big Issues the show obsessed over in it's first few weeks, it's a relief to see the show mellow out. 30 Rock is nearing genius because of its whimsical tone and I'm glad to see Studio 60 follow suit. Plus, any storyline that gives me more Lucy Davis (yay Dawn!) and the nickname Boss Sexy for Matthew Perry, I'm a fan of.

In a shocking guest appearance, Kurt Fuller plays an asshole in power. Just like on Alias and Desperate Housewives and pretty much anything else he's ever been on. Except Big Day. But I don't think anyone has seen Big Day to notice how he isn't playing an asshole in power. But he does it well.

So this is the new Studio 60, which seems to be borrowing a lot from the current soap-apalooza that's sweeping prime time. Never was this more evident than during Harriet and Jordan's gabfest (Harriet's making good on her agreement to be Jordan's friend) and the line of the night delivered by The New Head of Illiterate Programming, "there's another pretty girl at the dance and she's not pregnant." I've never yelled "oh snap!" during this show before. But that deserved it.

If Studio 60 is all about complicated love and sassy one-liners now, that's fine by me.

RATING: **** (out of 5)

iPod Love

I forgot to mention in the debut post that I will be keeping up with random iPod minutiae. Curse Apple for installing so many fact keeping devices in iTunes. The play count features dictates a good chunk of my day. My iPod's name, by the way, is Madrox.

Featured at the end of every post, hopefully, will be...

"Hombre" by M.I.A. ***
"These Little Monkeys" by Jonathan Fire*Eater ***
"Everybody Plays The Mime" by Jonathan Fire*Eater **

Digsy has a blog!

To be honest, Digsy has had a blog for a couple of years over at his myspace page. But with Digsy's flock of new year's resolutions, which I refer to as 2007: Kill The Beast, comes a desire to further my stagnant writing habit. And Digsy is now done with third person, this being a truly odd third person narrative since Digsy is not really Brett's name. Or even a nickname that is used in public by anyone.

The 2007: Kill The Beast plan is comprised of many parts and, this being the first blog, I should give a rundown of each and every bit.

First, starting with the name. 2007 has sucked so far. I've suffered both a break in and a break up, gotten a ticket for occupying more than one seat on a mostly empty subway car, and am trying to find my footing in the 9 to 5 world (or 9:30 to 7 in my case). It's been quite a year, a beastly one. My resolutions will tame, maim, and kill this beast.

Thus, 2007: Kill The Beast.

The overall mission statement of 2007: Kill The Beast is to branch out and try new things. Music, movies, clothes, facial hair, all will be documented. The film aspect is the most interesting and it itself will be referred to as The 100 Film Initiative (I really like melodramatic names).

I've signed up with Netflix and they've been my accomplice as I plow through, hopefully, 100 movies this year in a desperate attempt to remedy the fact that I have not seen any movies.

So that's about it. I'll post interesting things I find during my day-to-day required blog reading (I love working in TV). I'll review the films of The 100 Film Initiative (coming tomorrow: "Dr. Strangelove..." and "The Big Lebowski). I'll review new albums as they come out (New Shins and Apples In Stereo in a day's time) and as I discover them (Jonathan Fire*Eater's "Wolf Songs for Lambs").

And most importantly, there'll be lots written about improv comedy and comic books. That's right.

Hold on. It's going to be average.