Thursday, July 31, 2003

Would someone, anyone, please answer my question about the "T-zone" (see Comments)? Where's Kyan when I need him most?

Well, of course Bush is opposed to gay marriage. Did you really expect anything else (unless, of course, you're a Log Cabin Republican, in which case I find you to be anathema and have no idea what to say to you other than Wake up!)? He wants to have it both ways, pretending to be our friend while stabbing us - in the chest (why bother with the back? He doesn't care who knows). And once again, I'm left befuddled as to what the President of a country which supports (ostensibly) separation of church and state is doing citing "sinners" in a Rose Garden press conference. Oh, that's right - Bushie doesn't give a damn, 'cause he seems to think he was elected Dictator. Or is that Ashcroft? It's so hard to tell these days. Dean in 2004, y'all.

Addendum x 2: Anyone else notice that many of the arguments being used against gay marriage are eerily similar to those used some 40 years ago against interracial marriage? And the Log Cabin Republicans? "[G]ay advocacy group," my ass. How 'bout a bunch of moneyed fags who want everything to stay the way it's always been? "Gay Republican" makes as much damn sense as "Nazi Jew." Infer what you will.

Inspirational prose of the day:

”Carlo said, ‘There should be a Monopoly where you play for men instead of properties.’
‘There is,’ I reminded him. ‘It’s called the gay world.’”

- Ethan Mordden, “Kid Stuff” (from Buddies, InsightOut Books, 2001, p.121)

Inspirational lyric of the day:

”Guess who’s back in the mothafuckin’ house
With two big tig ol’ bitties for yo’ mouth
Heartbreakers must partake of the sensation
So So Def and Clue – hits in the makin’”

- Da Brat on Mariah Carey, “Heartbreaker (Remix)” (Rainbow, Columbia, 1999)

Why is it that every part of my skin is dry except for that around my nose, which is a veritable oil slick? That just doesn’t make any sense, and frustrates me to no end. Grrr.

Gay porn, X-rated ebay auctions, good music, sociopolitical commentary, and tales of sex in the (New York) City: your new blog of the week is BJ's Gay Porno-Crazed Ramblings (and it often ain't work-safe, y'all, so you've been warned).

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Erik has combined The Devil's Radio and Big E Thoughts into a seamless blog of politics and music, yum! And he even has his own domain now. So why don't'cha amble on over to Erik's Trip and say "hey"? Tell him I sent you. [Bonus points, Erik, for naming it after a great Sonic Youth song from the best Sonic Youth album.]

”If you don’t want to be in a story, don’t know a writer.”
- Ethan Mordden, “I Am the Sleuth” (from Buddies) (InsightOut Books, 2001)

How much longer do we have to wait for a hits record from Jay-Z? Until after his purported “last” album, The Black Album, washes ashore (reportedly later this year)? You know, at this point, in less than a decade, he could pretty easily make it a slamming two-disc set. And you’d better believe I’ll pick it up.

Speaking of hits records I’m actually going to buy, the Chemical Brothers unleash 93-03 shortly, and it looks to be smashing. Not quite complete enough – only 12 or so tracks – but first pressing’s got a bonus disc of remixes/b-sides (as is de rigeur in these file-sharing times), making it absolutely necessary.

Since as a gay blogger I’m fairly expected to comment on what I’m now calling “Gay Night on Bravo,” I’ll do so.
Boy Meets Boy was not offensive – but frankly, rather dull. Its host, Dani Behr, gets very annoying very quickly (she nearly sounds like a Californian – or Madonna, natch – affecting a British accent). Its ostensible star, James, is cute (not hot), and seems very gay. Like a good homo. Like the boring version of the Fab 5. Last night’s premiere was all introductions and James asking tedious questions (I mean, really – “what one thing would you take to a deserted island?”) of his would-be suitors. I don’t have high hopes for this show. At all.

Fortunately, the antidote immediately followed, in the form of the best episode yet of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. This week, the Fab 5 had to up the sophistication level of an utterly gorgeous cowboy manqué so that he could propose to his girlfriend of two years. He’s gorgeous, sensitive, interesting (has had stints as a plumber, a Navy SEAL, and a stripper!), well-mannered and well-tempered, and simply delectable. I think all of us watching were in lust. [The episode was, of course, a success, and she said yes at the end.] Splendid.

Random thoughts on my top 99 of 1999, part 5.
’99 was the year of – as much as it pains me to say it – the Pet Shop Boys’ last great album, Nightlife. From it came two marvelous, classic PSB singles, “I Don’t Know What You Want But I Can’t Give It Anymore” (following in their fine line of absurdly lengthy song titles such as “How Can You Expect To Be Taken Seriously?” and “This Must Be The Place I Waited Years To Leave”) and the discotastic Studio 54 explosion of “New York City Boy.” Neil and Chris are still making intelligent dance/pop, to be sure, but there’s a certain frisson missing, and frankly, I’m not sure they know how to get their groove back. But it’s been great while it’s lasted.
Single number four from Lauryn Hill’s astounding solo debut was “Everything Is Everything,” a near-perfect R&B single built around a string section (and not a ballad!). What I remember most about it, however, is its jaw-dropping video, featuring New York City (or at least Manhattan) as a record being played. Timeless.
I know it’s incredibly uncool to prefer current Manic Street Preachers to the “Richey era,” such as it was, but I do, and don’t care, not when they’re making majestic, epic songs like the elegiac “S.Y.M.M.” Yes, it’s a bit heavy-handed, but let’s not kid ourselves – subtlety’s never been one of their selling points, has it?
The comeback was going so well, and then the wheels came off. Crack is wack, you know. At least we got a slew of great singles out of it, including “Heartbreak Hotel,” wherein Whitney Houston, Faith Evans, and Kelly Price do their finest diva-wails over a discreetly tasteful R&B track, and the classic-in-any-era “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay,” not only a superb cheating song (from the other side, that of the one being cheated on) but, as remixed by Thunderpuss, the greatest remix of 1999, and a gay club anthem for current and future generations.
The fact that Maxwell always seems as if he’s about to cry bothers me, a little. His use of the phrasing “tasty lips” in “Fortunate” leaves me diffident, as well. Yet the pure romance dripping from every syllable, every note of the song thrills me inexorably.
Compiling a list of 99 songs, and then having to rank them, left me a bit fatigued – that’s the only way I know to explain away my #1 of the year, a song which didn’t even come close to my top 90 of the ‘90s, uneasily perched atop the heap. I made a mistake. I was wrong. And, really, if it comes down to brass tacks, I think a much better choice would’ve been the single which I placed at #5: Chris Rock’s “No Sex.” It was set forth as a parody of Baz Luhrmann’s “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen),” but far surpassed the subject of its satire as I brilliantly, blindingly funny record. Chris did his thing – and as the funniest motherfucker in America for going on what, over a half-decade now? His “thing” is pure gold. [“If a girl has a pierced tongue, she’ll probably suck your dick. (pause) If a guy has a pierced tongue, he’ll probably suck your dick.” … “Here’s a horoscope for everyone: Aquarius, you’re gonna die… Gemini, you’re gonna die twice,” et cetera, ad infinitum.] But what truly makes the record even more than Prince Paul’s plushtastic R&B production job is the secret weapon: Gerald Levert. He sings his big black azz all over “No Sex,” actually giving it the feel of an R&B record. Hearing his rich, thick, gorgeous voice crooning “no sex in the champagne room, no sex in the champagne room” is riotously, pants-wettingly hilarious. Chris Rock knows what he’s motherfucking doing, and no one was doing it better in ’99 – nor is anyone, now.
The year’s truly transcendent rock single, bar none, came from an unlikely source, I’ve always thought. Sure, the Flaming Lips were entertaining, made some interesting acid-soaked Beefhart-cum-Zappa-via-Butthole Surfers records, even made an appearance on 090210 because of their novelty hit about a girl who liked tangerines. Suddenly, then, they made a stunning triumph with The Soft Bulletin, a fine album with an even finer lead single, “Race for the Prize,” about scientists searching for a cure for a deadly disease (!). And it worked, in spades. It’s weird, it’s funny, it’s classic-sounding, it’s art, it’s thought-provoking, and most of all, it’s grand.
It’s perverse to me that the best single by Busta Rhymes, in my estimation, is his collabo featuring Janet - Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty, and she certainly is. It’s basically an R&B sex song, but with a certain twist, a je ne sais quoi, even – which is, of course, Busta’s weird factor. Don’t deny it; even as he begins to stoop to low means of commercial success, there’s not anyone (nor has there ever been) like him in hiphop, either the culture or the genre. Against all odds, “What’s It Gonna Be?!” works, which of course makes it all the better.
My #1 single of ’99 was, misguidedly, George Michael and Mary J. Blige’s cover of Stevie Wonder’s “As,” the first import to get such a designation (it was available only on overseas copies of George’s best of, Ladies and Gentlemen). It’s quite lovely, a perfectly done cover of a classic song. And that’s all I have to say about it.

I hated to delist all of yesterday's guest contributors, I really did. Yesterday was so much more fun than even I'd dared imagine (and I got a ridiculous 438 hits, by furlongs a new high-water mark for Oh, Manchester!). Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who contributed, either via direct posting or via comments. Besides those I mentioned in my post Monday night, special thanks to Johnny, Ray-Ray, Joe, Corey, and my favorite comment whore, Michael. I was honestly amazed by the breadth and depth of posts I received here yesterday, and am elated by how diverse everyone's contributions were. Thank you all again for making this blog's first birthday so entertaining - and for helping me, in a myriad of ways, to make it my first 365 days. Let's do it again next year, shall we?

Speaking of birthdays, I'd be remiss not to point out that today is the first birthday of Jenn's blog - g'on over and say hey, why don't'cha? Today is also the actual and factual birthday of Chrisafer (he's 30! *gasp!*), and tomorrow is the birthday of Michigan's finest, Todd. I recommend e-cards, myself, but then, I'm kinda cheesy like that (and poor). Happy milestones to all of you!

I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003


Yes, we all love to rib Thomas. The boy has his quirks. But I love him anyway. And I know he loves me. Now I could get into an exhaustive monologue about what makes Tom so special to me, but I don't have the words or the energy. I don't know about you, but for me, I love him because he's never at a loss: whether it be words, opinions, feelings, pain, passion or anger. About the only thing he's ever consistently at a loss for is money. And that may be more a function of circumstance than anything else (although I'd be the first to remind him that he holds most of the strings to his world, if he truly believes in himself). So as we all take great joy in giving Tom the hell he deserves, let us not forget that we come back, most of us every day, not just for his words, but for his heart and insight. Those are the blessings he's been given, and good for us that he shares them.

Last post for the evening. I've had fun today being able to post here and putting down whatever the hell I wanted. :) I hope we can do it again next year...with more of the "gang" involved!

Good night, all. I'm sure Goddamn Thomas will be waiting for midnight to roll around so he can post again. I'm sure he's itching to.

And just remember: Everyone hates him (and apparently there are some DC bloggers who are plotting to kill him!).

Commercials Make Me Think

Whilst watching Bravo, I saw a commercial for Boy Meets Boy wherein we see footage of the main guy as the announcer says, "Meet this summer's biggest hunk. He's handsome. He's successful" cut to him dancing with another man. "He's totally unavailable."

Ummm. Pardon me. Unavailable to whom? Certainly not to other gay men. This is not a show for gay men. It's a show for straight women.

The other commercial that made me think this evening? The one for that new Brittany Murphy movie, Uptown Girls. Whenever I see it, I wonder if she has any enamel left on her teeth.

I'm late, I'm straight, if you're not used to it I suppose we can make some sort of reasonable compromise. Yeah, it's the man they call Nate Detritus, staggering into the party in an ugly Mazda RX-7 t-shirt and two days' growth of stubble all ready to act a fool. Rum and coke time, bwoy! Birthday ish! I'm gonna get my cake on. You'd probably think that what with my reputation and all I'd go into some batshit ramble about how '70s disco is the more subversive than '90s punk (no slight to those fun folx in Rancid) or maybe post a picture of a bizarre pseudo-space-age Italian sports car. Sadly, I'm a bit tapped out on that sort of insight, or most any sort of insight at all. Instead, I will simply say this -- short, enthusiastic and to the point:

Whether via filesharing, used record store rummaging, prohibitively expensive eBay auctions or one of those Keb Darge Rare Funk compilations, YOU MUST GET ONYX*'S "BREAK IT LOOSE (PART II)" IMMEDIATELY. I'd describe it, go into loving and rapturous detail about how down-dirty and astounding it sounds, but that'd be ruining the impact and spoiling things. So I'll leave the whole revelatory brane-explodin' up to your own ears.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled pop.

*no, not the "SLAM! DUH DUH NUH!" Onyx. Some other one. From 1978.

Hey yawl…

GeekSlut here (guest blogging ho), hear when I first got it and what band was jamming in the background. LOL

Audio Blog (from (july29.mp3, 3.1MB)

In honor of Thomas' (and my own) love for Aaliyah, I'm posting my dorky review of her final album (not counting the posthumous I Care For U)...which I wrote for a now-defunct webzine in early August 2001, just a few weeks before her untimely death. Hope you guys (especially you, Mr. Inskeep!) enjoy it!


AALIYAH – Aaliyah

It’s hard to believe that this young woman’s last studio album, the multi-platinum & critically-acclaimed One In A Million, was released five years ago. After all, she’s always been in the spotlight in one way or another – whether it’s with soundtrack smashes (Try Again, Are You That Somebody?, national ad campaigns (Tommy Hilfiger) or feature film roles (Romeo Must Die).

But even with all of this exposure, it seems nobody really knows too much about 21-year-old Aaliyah Dana Haughton. And for some reason, this air of mysteriousness only appears to heighten her popularity. So what gives?

Ray’s Rants & Raves: Two words – cutting edge. Ms. Haughton is always a step ahead of her peers…with her fashion, her style, and most importantly, her craft. This record is no different, once again expanding the boundaries of urban electronica. Along with her usual comrades-in-arms (Timbaland, Missy Elliott), Aaliyah enlists the help of almost the entire Blackground team (Static & Digital Black of Playa, Tank, J-Dub, Bud’da, Keybeats, and the Hankersons) in creating the darkly sensual mood found on her self-titled third album.

The CD kicks off with the slithering title track We Need A Resolution, which is classic Timbaland fare – stop-and-go beats, warped synth chords/horns, and wickedly rhythmic verses…and it doesn’t stop there. Aaliyah abounds with flava-full jams, including the crunked-up confidence of Loose Rap, self-assured sass of Messed Up, and latin-flavored Read Between The Lines. Need some sexy slow-burners? Now you know baby girl can handle her biz in that department. You’ll be swaying along with Rock The Boat, I Care 4 U, and It’s Whatever before you know what hit you. The rock-infused I Can Be and classically ominous I Refuse add even more fuel to the album’s ultra-modern fire. And that voice…my goodness, that voice. It’s definitely not the strongest of the bunch, but’ll be searching forever before you find one just as pretty. Oh, and do I even need to mention that she has the body & looks to match?

Ray’s Rank: 4 ½ / 5 stars. This CD is everything you’ve ever wanted in a neo-modern, contemporary release. If you’re looking for super radio-friendly ditties and tried-and-true R&B filler, you’re looking in the wrong place. If avant-garde, jaw-hitting-the-floor eccentricity is more your thing, then this is what you’re after. Bottom line? Aaliyah is one of the year’s best records, for any genre.

It seems most people are choosing to celebrate Thomas's talent for nonstop, detail-laden reviews of every song that's ever been on the radio. Ever. However, to me, "Oh Manchester..." is really about his constant need to whore himself to other bloggers for the links. Maybe he needs the validation. Submeat is really just a web portal to everyone else's intelligent ideas and pictures of beefy, stubbly guys (and Chrisafer). So, to honor this special day, here are all the Must Reads from today:
house of wigs

And, here are the Blogs of the Day:
Art Is For Losers
Beaverhausen Blog
Blah, Blah, Black Sheep
Blog for America: the official Howard Dean weblog
Brand Trueboy
Confluence of Nescience
Cool Relax
Cooped Up
Daily Kos
Devon the Escort's Diary
Fly Over Country
Is This Thing Working?
Joe's Take Out
Johnny A Go Go
Little. Yellow. Different.
Off Wing Opinion
Room Sixteen
Seamus McStebbins
StainMaster Productions
The Day, The Night
The Major Fall, The Minor Lift
They Made Me Do This!!!
This Is My Life...Like It or Not
Vivian's Rebuttal Page

And here are some of the people I Think are Fabulous (talent and looks):
Robbie Williams
aka frank green
lots of co
bald sarcasm
corky dot com
grapefeed (fredo)
holden caulfield's lover
nathaniel wandering
8 legs
gatsby's ghost
living proof

Look what I found!!!!

The EX!

I just had a daydream that made me chuckle

Thomas and Carson from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy meet one day while Carson's doing a promotional appearance for the show at a mall in Roanoke. The attraction is immediate. Carson takes Thomas shopping. Thomas takes Carson to Beyoncé shows.

They move to Baltimore and open CarThom, a record/haute couture shop on Charles Street, which quickly puts Balmer on the fashion map. Tyra stops by, but Thomas points to the "No Pets" sign in the window and Tyra immediately ties Janice Dickinson's leash to a parking meter in front of the store.

At their commitment ceremony, Carson gives Thomas some wonderful news. The papers have been finalized. In a matter of weeks, their new son, Andrew W. K. Inskeep-Kressley is home with them. In just a few years he will be the youngest man in history to be both MVP of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournement and star as Edna Turnblad in the Broadway revival of "Hairspray." While accepting the Tony, he gushes through his tears, "I owe it all to my two dads!"

I think this means I need to go to lunch now.

{helping to continue the "music that rarely gets discussed here" theme}

Jenn's Top 10 Disney Songs
(and we all know how much Thomas *loves* Disney!)

10. Colonel Hathi's March - a fun marching tune that you can't help but tap your foot to. Besides, how many songs do you know that include an elephant blowing its trunk?

9. A Whole New World - how can you NOT sing along to this? In fact, Viv and I would like to do this song for the next drag show. And yes, I get to be Aladdin.

8. Whale of a Tale - this is just a fun song about the true life of sailors. I should know.

7. The Work Song - a song sung by a bunch of mice, including Gus-Gus thrown in for those who think his mentally challenged self is so cute.

6. The Ugly Bug Ball - too cute and too apropos for Thomas. :)

5. Hakuna Mata - a lovely little ditty that will always cheer you up!

4. Under the Sea - just can't resist a singing crab with a French accent. And he makes living under the sea sound so great, so I'll never understand what the hell Ariel's problem is.

3. Chim Chim Cher-ee - Dick Van Dyke never sounded so good, though sometimes this song can be a bit of a downer towards the end.

2. Poor Unfortunate Souls - A song that will forever remind me of Vivie. Some people *have* called her a witch (in the bad sense). And it is one of the coolest songs sung by a villian.

and *the* number one Disney song:

1. Kiss the Girl - again with the French-accented crab singing. But this romantic song reminds me of my first date with Steven (long story).

when thomas blogs about music he really wants to be blogging about clothes

so, in honor of his blog's birthday (woohoo) i'll blog about the top 5 music video outfits of all time. and if you don't agree with me, bugger off, i don't give a rat's ass.

5. george michael from "wake me up before you go-go" - oh please, neon and choose life. how could you go wrong with that?
4. pat benatar from "love is a battlefield" - heavy makeup and ripped skirts and shirts. she gave me reason enough to shred the bottoms of my hanes undershirts
3. janet jackson from "love will never do without you" - blue jeans and black top. simple and stylish and she singlehandedly make jeans hot again.
2. casey spooner from "sweetness" - boys in make up and hair extensions. very helmut lang without the standoffishness.

and the all time best music video outfit is....

1. andrew ridgley from "everything she wants" - he had on a red plaid topcoat with matching pants, perfect curled and coifed fashion-mullet with rooster bangs.

Vivie says: "The only reason Thomas is opposed to Celine Dion is that he secretly wants to be her."

Hi everybody! Hi Thomas!

Sorry about the RSVP thang. Obviously, I didn’t read the invite e-mail carefully enough. *eyeroll me*

This is just a quickie post to say Happy Blog B-day to Thomas’ blog. It rocks hardcore! I check in every day to get the scoop on the latest singles and albums, and I find myself with agreeing with Mr. Inskeep 99.9% of the time (please excuse my 0.1% bad taste in music...hah). Once he sends out his portfolio, he’s going to be fielding offers left and right. ‘Sho ‘nuff!

Ok, I’ll write more later. Payce!

(Continuing the "let's discuss the music that rarely gets discussed here" theme)

Joe's Top 5 80's Hair Bands

1. Lillian Axe - a melodic rock fan's wet dream, Lillian Axe never really had a hit, even though their albums were full of enough sexual innuendos and catchy hooks to make Ratt blush and scatter away in shame.

2. Poison - yup. The kings (or queens) of glam pop metal. Bobby and Rikki's degrees in hair styling and cosmetology came in handy when crafting the bands image, while CC's crunchy guitar riffs inspired tons of Aquanet abusers to pick up the guitar and raid their mothers' closet for wardrobe. Bret's abs were not an ugly sight, either.

4. Bon Jovi - still a viable band (except in Tom's eyes, I'm sure) churning out quality melodic tunes, Jon and the boys perfected the radio-friendly pop metal song format. With the aid of Miss Desmond Child's songwriting prowess, the Jersey gang ruled the airwaves - and cable signals - with the long-haired answer to Springsteen. While their hits were solid rock songs, there's a lot more to be discovered in album cuts like "Blood on Blood," "Dry County" and "If That's What It Takes."

4. Extreme - holding more talent in their pinkies than a lot of 80s bands combined, Extreme hit it big with the wrong song, the pussy-balladry of "More than Words." While a good song, it completely misrepresented the band and sold it to soccer moms, who were not ready for the funk metal that dominated their second album, Pornograffitti.

5. Danger Danger - with their "parping," airy keyboards and the Mickey Mouse-on-helium vocals of Ted Poley, D2 combined the sugary AOR of bands like Journey and Foreigner with the guitar pyrotechnics and sleaziness of the Sunset Strip. "Bang Bang" is as anthemic as hair metal gets.

In honor of the Designing Women reunion show last night, I offer this great scene from the show:

"JULIA: Excuse me, aren't you Marjorie Leigh Winnick, the current Miss Georgia World?
MARJORIE: Why, yes I am.
JULIA: I'm Julia Sugarbaker, Suzanne Sugarbaker's sister. I couldn't help over hearing part of your conversation.
MARJORIE: Well, I'm sorry. I didn't know anyone was here.
JULIA: Yes, and I gather from your comments there are a couple of other things you don't know, Marjorie. For example, you probably didn't know that Suzanne was the only contestant in Georgia pageant history to sweep every category except congeniality, and that is not something the women in my family aspire to anyway. Or that when she walked down the runway in her swimsuit, five contestants quit on the spot. Or that when she emerged from the isolation booth to answer the question, "What would you do to prevent war?" she spoke so eloquently of patriotism, battlefields and diamond tiaras, grown men wept. And you probably didn't know, Marjorie, that Suzanne was not just any Miss Georgia, she was the Miss Georgia. She didn't twirl just a baton, that baton was on fire. And when she threw that baton into the air, it flew higher, further, faster than any baton has ever flown before, hitting a transformer and showering the darkened arena with sparks! And when it finally did come down, Marjorie, my sister caught that baton, and 12,000 people jumped to their feet for sixteen and one-half minutes of uninterrupted thunderous ovation, as flames illuminated her tear-stained face! And that, Marjorie --- just so you will know --- and your children will someday know --- is the night the lights went out in Georgia!"

Random thoughts on my top 99 of July 29, 2003, part 785(a)

I often think that if 50 Cent hadn't come around to revolutionize hip hop, that void would be filled by a Javanese gamelan orchestra. After all, what is Cilacap if not the new Seattle?


When it comes to pure diva pop, it just doesn't get any better than Justin Timberlake. Mya, Beyoncé, Ashanti, hell even tourmate Christina are all put to shame by that little southern boy's beautiful falsetto. His lilting tones rock my world, then calm it down, just to rock it all over again. Go on witchyourbadself!


Kelis is the new Li'l Brat. I dare you to name anything aside from "I Hate You So Much Right Now" that she's put out. Nope, she's one of those "f" gals. Like Jane's Addiction (f/Kelis), Postal Service (f/Kelis), or Luciano Pavarotti (f/Kelis).


If I were a betting man, I'd say that the new "it" girl in pop music will be Trista from the Bachelorette. Word on the street is Elektra and Madonna's Maverick are in a bidding war over her demo--produced by the team that brought you Hansen and Total. Through my connections at Maverick (Hi Michelle B! Love that new single--kisses!) I've already heard most of her demo. The breakout track is "I'm Not Your Ho (Take Me Out of This Shed)." It's a little bit sluttified Jewel, a little bit pre-beer-gut Trisha Yearwood, and a whole lot of "Sugar Walls" era Sheena Easton. Who knew that someone so bland could make music so good? Aside from Avril Lavigne that is?


I'll admit it, I was wrong. Courtney Love is a no talent slag. Just like every other woman in rock, she's ridden on the coat tails of men. And obviously she killed Kurt and caused the break-up of the Pumpkins. In fact, in the future, we can pinpoint the breakdown of all American music to "Doll Parts."

I love submeat like a fat kid loves cake.

Well, that is, until I heard about the Barry Manilow thing.

We received new PC's here at the school (where I work), so I'm having to re-rip all the tracks I had on my old hard drive so I don't have to listen to the kids play oldies. I started today with two of the 20 best albums from the 90's. A Tribe Called Quest's The Low End Theory and Suede's Coming Up. Both just as brilliant and captivating as the day they were released. There are no excuses for not owning either.

Happy blog-day to the home of the best written commentary on fleeting, disposable pop (music and culture). I'll second Corey's idea of using today to draw attention to all the music Thomas finds revolting. That's right, it's indie rock day here at Oh, Manchester...! Here are some upcoming LP's on which the 'meat is anxiously awaiting my take:

Aug 19
Guided By Voices, Earthquake Glue
Sloan, Action Pact

Aug 26
Josh Rouse, 1972

Sept 9
My Morning Jacket, It Still Moves

GBV have already set up some tour dates for August. Expect more to be posted soon. Josh should be hitting the road sometime in September. I hope Sloan does some dates in the states. MMJ have some European dates posted, but I'm sure they'll rock the states again before year's end. They may be a better live act than my beloved GBV! (blasphemy!) Don't even think about missing them.

Thomas' dirty little secret:

He has referred to Barry Manilow as a "musical genius." On numerous occasions.

thomas places a craig's list ad

15 -- Visiting DC

I'm a Chinese girl, 27, visiting the Washington DC area somewhere in the second week of September. Would like to make some friends along the way too-hope to get to know people better before I actually get there. Unfortunately, I don't get along well with people who drink a lot, smoke, do drugs or say foul words, so please don't write back if you do any of them. Otherwise, please write and tell me more about yourself - maybe we will have something in common and can hang out together when I'm there! Besides all the touristy places, I'd like to know great lunch and dinner places too. Replies from both girls and guys are welcomed!!

That's right, the Tard is back temporarily to wish Thomas the happiest of anniversaries and to bring you all a bit of Atlanta cheer! I thought about the things I could say. Should I do an exposition on the hurling championships going on in Ireland? Should I discuss the beauty of the perfect quiz night? Should I talk about how nearly ever man in Atlanta is beef-i-licious? (I'm serious here, I walked into traffic yesterday looking at three shirtless construction workers). Should I talk about how much I miss the perfect Guinness poured from my very favorite bartender?

And then it occured to me...something I've wanted to do for the longest time is refute all of Thomas' musical picks. That's right! It's Belle and Sebastian day here on 'Oh, manchester'. There will be no pop divas today, oh no! No discussion of that weenie Justin. So here it is:

The OFFICIAL 'Oh, Manchester, so much to answer for' best songs ever, which also happen to coincide with the top ten Belle and Sebastian songs. (not in any order)

And while we are it it, I might as well refute some parts of what Britian is, and what Britian is not! The republic of Ireland is not part of Britian. Northern Ireland, which is the 6 northeastern counties of Ireland, is in United Kingdom. But you wouldnt' call someone from N. Ireland a Brit, unless they were a Prod, really. Then they'd probably prefer being called British, judging by how they act. All proper and sorts. Not like the heathen Irish, no sirree.

And, the red box is the plague of Adams Morgan. For shame!

(All of the previous comments represent the feeling and opinions of 'Oh, Manchester' 100% and can never be refuted under fear of perjury in most US courts. He really thought he could get away with his tomfoolery! Muhahahahaha)

Happy Birthday!

Oh, I'm the first to post! Do I get a door prize?

And I'm glad that you have (kind of) turned it into THAT kind of blog! Makes for more interesting reading for your friends. That and it gives Michael more of a chance to call you a slut. :)

Monday, July 28, 2003

Tomorrow, Oh, Manchester... turns one year old. [I was going to link to my first post, but whaddaya know, the Blogger archives have gone screwy again.] To celebrate, I'm going to post... nothing.

I thought it'd be interesting to hand my blog over to a number of other bloggers who are either personal friends, whose blogs inspire me/I respect, or (as is most often the case) both. There are a couple of *cough*stragglers*cough* who may sneak in under the wire, but those who've RSVP'd for tomorrow thus far are:
+Donald of Art is for Losers
+Todd of Toddo
+Jenn of This Is My Life... Like It or Not
+Chrisafer of Blah, Blah, Black Sheep
+Stephen of GeekSlut
+Jeff of StainMaster Productions
+Mike of Seamus McStebbins, the Irish Paperboy
+Nate of Hipster Detritus

Theirs are all blogs which I read daily, as you should, too. I won't be posting a word from midnight to midnight (which means that my thoughts on tomorrow night's premiere of Boy Meets Boy will have to wait until Wednesday - though I already have this much to say: why do none of them have facial hair?! Is this Twink Meets Twink??), though I may comment here and there (as you're always welcome to do, too). Be nice to my guests, and enjoy.

Hey, I'm working on my portfolio of music writing, whipping it into shape so I can start sending it out to editors and the like. Seriously, as my readers - and thus, likely the best people to ask - are there any pieces of writing I've done in the last year which you think are particularly fine? If so, please let me know in the "Comment" box, or if you prefer, drop me an email. [So far, I've picked out the pieces on Trevor Horn, Aaliyah, and Andrew W.K..]

It's usually not a good thing when your first American television commercial in over a decade is better than anything off your most recent album - but that's the case for Madonna, paired with Missy Elliott in Gap's "Into the Hollywood Groove."

It's usually also not a good thing when you're a cable network reduced to running a "word premiere" of said Gap Commercial - but that's the case for the network with no identity, VH-1. I remember when they showed Kenny Rogers videos.

It's usually also not a good thing, redux, when you watch said commercial on said network just so you can blog it.

Hot damn, Jane's Addiction's "Just Because" (the new #1 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart) is the rock single of the year. If Strays can stand up to its lead single, I might actually take the plunge and pick it up. I know some of y'all out there have it, or have heard it. Thoughts?

A big muchos thankos to BJ, who sent me his extra copy of the sublime Red Hot + Riot CD (after an apparently properly persuasive email from me). The spirit of Fela Kuti lives on this disc, continuing in the Red Hot tradition of cover albums (such as Red Hot + Cool - Cole Porter; Red Hot + Rio - Antonio Carlos Jobim; etc.). Featuring everyone from Me'Shell Ndegéocello and Nile Rodgers (Chic) to Common and dead prez, this album's full of rhythm, rock, roll, and soul (and rhyme!), all atop the percolating Afropop grooves that Fela made famous over much of the globe before his AIDS-related death in 1997. Fucking stellar. [I intend to post a more full review soon, if I get up the gumption.]

Sunday, July 27, 2003

As an addendum to the piece I posted 2 weeks ago about Redbox, a new and (to me) fascinating idea in vending, there's a superb piece in today's Post which lays out both pros and cons to the concept.

Random thoughts on my top 99 of 1999, part 4.
The award for best use of a Diana Ross sample in 1999 (in this case, “Love Hangover”) goes to Jermaine Dupri, of all fucking people, for his superlative production on Monica’s “The First Night.” In which she makes not having sex sound sexier than ever. Her sultry voice does a fine job of making not-so-sexy things sound sexy, akin to hearing Barry White (R.I.P.) say “periodontist.”
I understand why Jay-Z and DMX need hoes, but why do they need money and cash?

I just need the track’s marvelous “game over” video game noises.
1999 was the year Robbie Williams should have become a massive star in the U.S. as he was (and still is) worldwide, but Americans are, by and large, stupid, and wouldn’t know good taste if it bit ‘em in the ass. Perhaps he’s too cheeky, just a mite too British, for us Yanks (much like Jarvis Cocker); an album title like The Ego Has Landed is certainly too clever for most of us. And it’s our loss, with shoulda-been smashes like “Let Me Entertain You” – really, can you turn down that invitation? If so, you’re a) a lesbian, or b) don’t appreciate appropriately hairy blokes with talent oozing from every pore (and perhaps some orifices – orifi? – too).
The Masters at Work career-resuscitation machine was going full bore at the end of the nineties, having already done its work on Roy Ayers and George Benson, with Jody Watley and James Ingram (and Patti Austin!) to come. In the spotlight near year’s end was the divine Stephanie Mills with her MAW-produced and –played and –arranged “Latin Lover.” Mills wrapped her still-sumptuous pipes around the song and squeezed it till it was in need of CPR – and then gave it that, to boot. Meanwhile, Kenny and Louie just did what they do so well: put together deep, creamy house of the highest order. No one does it better.
“Betcha Man Can’t (Triz)” is a delicious, slinky groover of a sex song from the ‘Ricans in the house, Fat Joe featuring Big Punisher, Cuban Link and Triple Seis. It’s clever, has got a great beat, and you dance to it; I’d give it an 88.
Orgy (where are they now?) were a great idea, only occasionally great in practice, combining goth, industrial, and their mentors Korn’s strand of aggro-rock into a package I thought was destined to appeal to angst-ridden teenagers of most stripes. Apparently, I was mistaken. I never thought their cover of “Blue Monday” was their finest moment, either – too easy, too by-the-numbers. “Stitches,” however, heaved and stewed and kept threatening to boil over with delicious tension like few rock singles in ’99.
“Bug A Boo” by Destiny’s Child is fierce as hell, and sexy as fuck.
I was in the minority in thinking that as Mariah Carey got further into the hiphop milieu, as it were, with her music, the better it got. [Of course, there was a breaking point - and it came on the Glitter soundtrack, where she was reduced to a guest on her own songs.] Her last great single, then, was her (first) collaboration featuring Jay-Z, “Heartbreaker,” on which she sings all over the track (but, crucially, doesn’t oversing – at least until the very end, when she casually tosses in some of her sounds-only-dogs-can-hear), Jay-Z does his usual $50,000 for 16 bars bit, and most importantly, Mariah sounds relaxed, almost at piece (one can only assume due to her then-recent breakup with then-Sony chief Tommy Mottola). Easy, breezy, beautiful, cover girl.
Juvenile’s “Back That Azz Up”: if “Thong Song” weren’t quite so crass and featured Juvi's peculiarly delightful N.O. patois and, of course, Mannie Fresh’s so fresh, so clean production job, complete with perfectly-placed sampled strings - even then, Sisqo's single wouldn't be this good. Or this clever. And lest I forget: there's a "Monie in the Middle" reference!

Apparently, I am no longer capable of sleeping much past 830am, as that seems to be the latest I wake up even on weekends, even when I've been up till 1am the previous night. This saddens me, and I find it slightly disconcerting as well. Is this what it means being an adult?

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Catching up around the blogsphere...
+Nate's posted something akin to a mainfesto today, and it's predictably stellar.
+Paul, meanwhile, is on indefinite hiatus. Damn.
+I hope that Chrisafer posts something soon, so I don't have to look at the photo of his pinky (pinkie?) scar every time I load his blog (not that there's anything wrong with it, mind). I much prefer the pic of him and Jimbo (from Friday night's birthday dinner for 'fer - apparently, it was festive, or at least muy caliente) on the latter's blog.
+Devon the Escort has been posting a series of well-thought-out pieces regarding gay marriage this week, and The Tin Man, my favorite gay law-practicing blogger, is continuing his fine string, as well.
+Sounding just the slightest bit giddy, or at least flushed, is Todd.
+Donald has Jesus on his side.
+Think good thoughts for Corey, please.
+And there's a very interesting post about pee-shyness (or is it?) over at the home of Sardonic Bomb.
That's enough for now. As always, those blogs found on my links page are all recommended reading.

Superlative. Now I know why the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay was awarded to Pedro Almodovar this year for Talk to Her. It's an absolutely stunning film, packed to its proverbial gills with excellent acting, fine direction, and a superb script. Talk concerns a pair of men, each in love with a woman in a coma, who meet in the hospital where both women are in care. There are numerous plot twists (some expected, some not), and it's never boring, not for a second. It's a shame it took me so long to see this masterful work, but I did this evening (as it's finally on DVD), viewing it with of course (if it's Saturday, I must be with) Chas.

Be sure to check out Almodovar's website, btw. It's deliciously, badly, translated from Spanish into English, and fills me with glee.

Whatever happened to the rest of Junior M.A.F.I.A.?

Friday, July 25, 2003

Go Home Productions - strength to strength, how fucking stunning is his work, I could go on endlessly, blah blah blah. But don't take my word for it; hear for yourself. His 'Re:Mixology' set (aired tonight on WFMU) is now available for download for a very limited time, and has a lot of new exclusives ("Sly Beyoncé Walks Like a N*E*R*D" is jaw-droppingly supreme). So get to it, and give the RIAA the middle finger while you're at it.

Okay, this is pretty fucking amazing.

I get an email from Marcello today, telling me that he just received a copy of Paul Morley's new book, Words and Music. Morley, for those who don't know, was a member of The Art of Noise, and also is a well-published music writer and cultural critic (he wrote for NME during their glory days circa punk, and has written for a myriad of publications since, as well as having published a number of other books). No less a giant than Brian Eno calls him "...the greatest thinker/writer/social critic... since Plato... ." Why does this matter, you ask?

Because apparently, alongside Marcello's The Church of Me, and Tom Ewing's Freaky Trigger and collaborative music blog New York London Paris Munich, I'm fucking mentioned in Morley's book - as one of "the places where the best writing about modern music - past and present - is found" (p. 120). Oh. My. Fucking. God. I'm not putting on airs here, folks; I'm utterly, absolutely blown away.

Thanks for reading, everyone, each and every person who happens upon Oh, Manchester, So Much To Answer For. It's your reading, and your comments, and your emails, that keeps me driven and going.

Wow. This certainly makes my week. Month. Year.

Random thoughts on my top 99 of 1999, part 3.
Sheryl Crow’s best album is undoubtedly, to me, her self-titled one of 1999. That’s the one on which she got her groove on, working the country-blues (“Anything But Down”) and rhythm-and-blues (“There Goes The Neighborhood,” complete with horn section), worked the clever lyrics which verged on non sequiturs (“I dropped acid on a Saturday night just to see what the fuss was about”), and worked herself, tough and sexy and ballsy and clearly the inheritor of Bonnie Raitt’s legacy. I mean, really, what is this “Soak Up The Sun” crap? Sheryl Crow is the Sheryl Crow I choose to remember – and I feel fairly certain that she’ll be back.
Re: “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!”: if you were Shania Twain, you would, too.
”If I had boobies, I’d never leave the house. Huh-huh, huh-huh.” - Butt-Head
It amazes me, the drop-off people seem to think Trent Reznor made between the downward spiral and the fragile - to me there’s no drop-off, which is exactly the problem, as there’s also no great leap forwards. The progression from pretty hate machine to broken to spiral was, in a word, impressive: herein you could see the dramatic ascent to brilliance of a true artist. the fragile’s problem is that it treads a bit too much water from spiral and does push as hard, especially considering it’s a double album. That having been said, the third full-length nine inch nails record is a fine platter full of lots of quite rewarding songs (and most notably Reznor’s sterling songwriting, spotlit particularly on “We’re In This Together,” a song of – shock! Awe! - hope).
TLC’s Fanmail is grossly overpraised. Yes, we all remember “No Scrubs,” but not because of its greatness, but because of its ubiquitousness, as inescapable as it was during the spring/summer of ’99. It’s light, airy, and utterly unremarkable. The best things on the album are the sex songs, notably “I’m Good At Being Bad,” which is Left Eye’s song (and Donna Summer’s), their last truly great song (should’ve bumped it into the 30s or maybe even 20s, at least, rather than leaving it bereft at #53) – and proof that Left Eye could’ve made a hell of a hiphop record – and “Silly Ho,” a gritty slab of unconstructed machine-funk which reminds me, in its cadences, of R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World As We Know It.”
Some records don’t reveal their genius to us until years later. Some records have jelly we’re just not ready for. And sometimes we’re just dense to brilliance. Case in point, Aphex Twin’s “Windowlicker.” I knew it was good, but I didn’t realize just how fucking good it is. In a do-over, this would unquestionably be top 10. Richard D. James makes a bass-booty single? Absolutely mind-fuckingly blinding. And then in the song’s last 1:30, he brings you to orgasm by rubbing you down with synthetic sandpaper. Ride that pony, y’all.
“I Hope I Didn’t Just Give Away the Ending” is a somewhat bizarre stream-of-consciousness ramble from the mind of New Radicals’ leader (and truthfully, one guy) Gregg Alexander which involves making a porno film for cocaine. That wouldn’t be enough to get it over, though – what does it is a simply gorgeous melody, and some of the purest white-boy soulfulness this side of Daryl Hall (and like Hall, not afraid to work in rock as well as pop – and piano!). And then he gets you at the end:

”I don’t even love you. We weren’t even friends. It’s just that I can’t take it alone…”
- New Radicals, “I Hope I Didn’t Just Give Away the Ending” (Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too, Mercury, 1998)
After a career as a conscious rapper with A Tribe Called Quest, Q-Tip went solo on “Vivrant Thing” with one simple message: ladeez, he’s single and looking to mingle!
Cher’s “Strong Enough” is like “Believe” 2: Electric Boogaloo. Only better, ‘cause this time she’s got disco fever!.
I love the way that Total’s “Trippin’” sounds. The production is miraculous, space-aged but simultaneously wide-open with room to breathe (Missy done did it). Total was a trio of three ‘round-the-way girls who got nasty and told tales, and their records showed it – their love ballads never sounded real convincing, but when they started dirty talkin’, you knew it was real. But it’s “Trippin’” that stands tall, because as the ciphers they were, you could project anything onto them, and here it’s all about the wide-screen production.
Funny how so often, the best singles by Brandy aren’t her biggest hits (save for “The Boy Is Mine,” of course). “Angel In Disguise” is another great-sounding single for Brandy to curl her pipes around and atop – and notice the catch in her voice during the spoken intro, when she has trouble getting out the word “fake.” Gets me every time.
“Shudder/King Of Snake” is to Beaucoup Fish as “Pearl’s Girl” is to Second Toughest In the Infants: Underworld’s epic, album-centering pice de resistance, helping to further prove them as the lions of techno they are. Gigantic.
Basement Jaxx may be a coupla blokes from Brixton, but on “Bingo Bango” they come on like a party in the streets – and beds – of Rio de Janiero. As deliriously sexy as house gets.
“Anywhere” by 112 is deliciously – and slightly disturbingly – sleazy. [What’s with that “softly pull your hair” stuff?! A precursor to what was to come, I guess – in this case, their icky, smutty ’01 smash “Peaches and Cream.”] But it’s got that stutter-step rhythm that was de rigeur in ’99, yum.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

It would seem that I've gone from never watching reality television (save for The Real World, those the Paris season is so boring I'm not even gonna link it) to become a mild version of a reality-TV whore. I watched two-and-a-half hours of said programming tonight.

First, of course, was The Amazing Race 4 - spoiler alert - and at long last, that bitch Millie (and her little Chuck, too) got sent home to spend another 13 years not having sex (Bob got us all started in a chant of "bad virgins!" tonight). Actually, that may be the case with Millie, but I've got a feeling Chuck's going to be having sex pretty soon - just not with her. Reichip finished in first this week, thanks to accidentally using their Fast Forward, but I worry that may come back to haunt them in the end.

Then came a double dose of Queer Eye (which sounds like a good call-in-sick excuse: "sorry, boss, can't come in today, I have queer eye"). First was the 1/2 hour compressed version on NBC, which left me stunned - and rolling on the floor with laughter - after hearing the phrase "boy sauce" on primetime network television (of course, it was Carson who said it - and who also boiled the straight guy's jockstrap!). Afterwards was this week's new hour-long episode on Bravo, which just made me love Ted more and more - that fish! Those potatoes!

I still wish they'd come to my place and teach me how to live, better, though. As I'm sure many friends could attest, I could use the pointers. Oh, wait! There are some right here! Yay, queen!

Oh, and lest I forget to mention it, Chas' dinner was simple and great, good summertime food: honey-baked ham, various breads and sandwich fixings, a myriad of cold salads (macaroni, potato, three-bean), Michael's ever-fab deviled eggs, and peach pie and ice cream! Yum. Dinner with the gang was just what I needed to snap me (at least momentarily) out of my funk tonight: good food, better company, and lots of laughs. I "heart" my friends.

This ain't blogwhoring, this is reality: Donald writes a script for one of Stephen's new video clips. And then Stephen - whom you also know as the sluttiest geek (or geekiest slut, take your pick) around, records said script. You've gotta hear this, y'all.

I think I'll say a few words about the nominees for the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards: they're surprisingly decent, if not great. [Though I wonder just when it was MTV actually aired all these nominated clips, but that's another matter entirely.] The mere fact that Johnny Cash's phenomenal "Hurt" is up for Video of the Year blows me away. [Here's the story behind the video.] And God, how great would it be if he won? Do you think he'll attend? Talk about a career renaissance. Of course, I'm also happy to see Missy leading the pack with 8 nods for "Work It" (Cash got 6, and J-Tim got 7 combined for both "Cry Me A River" and "Rock Your Body"). My fear, however, is that this'll turn into one of these years like - well, 2001 comes to mind, when "Get Ur Freak On" and Fatboy Slim's "Weapon Of Choice" were both up for Video of the Year, only to lose to the Whores "R" Us, a/k/a "Lady Marmalade." With Eminem and 50 Cent both receiving 5 nods (apparently, the "M" in MTV stands for a certain rapper from Detroit who's won Video of the Year 2 of the past 3 years), could this be a year of "thanks for coming, don't you appreciate how progressive we are? Now, we'll give all the awards to a 4-minute trailer for 8 Mile"? As a song, "Lose Yourself" is amazing and career-defining. As a video, it's a snooze. We'll find out at the end of August, I guess - but there's still reason to watch. Chris Rock is hosting! Rawk!

Yeah, because Shakira had so much credibility before now (page down to "Get Back to the Rock, Shakira").

The fucking RIAA is getting way out of control. What a good idea, suing 12-year-olds sharing a couple CDs' worth of songs with their friends! Great PR move there, Hilary and Cary!

The Electronic Freedom Foundation has some ideas about how not to get sued by the RIAA worth checking out, as well.

A break in the flow of "random thoughts on the top __ of '__" today, as I've been exclusively spinning the compilation Muzik Magazine Presents the Guidance Collection Mixed by A:XUS from July of 2000, over an hour of deep, deep, soulful house from the fine Chicago label Guidance. Gorgeous, flute- and string-soaked positive vibes. John, you'd love this.

BTW, would someone who has the Muzik comp from a couple months ago (Disco Punk or some such) consider burning me a copy? I missed the issue and have heard nothing but raves about the mix.

Jim Gladstone’s debut novel, The Big Book of Misunderstanding (Southern Tier Editions, Harrington Park Press, 2002), is a surprising marvel. Where it initially feels like a laundry-list recounting of a gay boy’s childhood, it turns much deeper, delving into what makes a family, and what makes a family fracture slowly, over time, all the while charting the way to adulthood of a boy becoming a man – and realizing what it means for him to be gay. Joshua Royalton, the novel’s narrator (but not, perhaps, its protagonist; that would be his father, Harris), may only be 22 at story’s end, but has aged – or more accurately, learned – much more than that over the course of the book’s 239 pages. There were points at which I forgot I was reading fiction and mistakenly thought I was in the world of memoir, due to the clarity of Gladstone’s prose. [And, perhaps, to the fact that I so recently read Augusten Burroughs’ Dry and am currently working my way through Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s autobiography, as well.] Misunderstanding is a must-read for anyone who remembers the pain of coming out – or the pain of a youth in which your family seemed to watch your every move. Or, for that matter, anyone with a love for well-crafted, compelling coming-of-age fiction.

This hasn’t been the best week/month, fairly all-around, for the Norfolk gang. Jenn’s father is awaiting a spleenectomy. Our friend Darrell’s had pneumonia much of the month, and I fear that his HIV is starting to develop into full-blown AIDS – ‘cause he’s getting sick all the time now, which tells me that his immune system is getting shot up something fierce. [Yes, I know that AIDS is generally characterized by the onset of an opportunistic disease; sadly, I feel as if it may only be a matter of time in Darrell’s case.] Michael isn’t thrilled (last paragraph of "Hump Day" post) with life in general of late (most notably, his – which in part means our – money situation). And then there’s me. I’m just not feeling it these days – and, in fact, can feel a full-blown bout of depression attempting to rear its nasty head, largely because I’m so dissatisfied with much of my life as it is right now: job, money (or lack thereof), and some other stuff not for public purview. But mark my words, I’m gonna do every fucking thing I can to ensure that said bout does not happen.

When I fall into a bout of depression, which tends to happen about every 5-6 years or so, I’m essentially a shell. I can go through the motions – coworkers often don’t know I’m even depressed – but when the 5 o’clock bell rings, I tend to go home and just cocoon. It generally lasts about a month, and in that time, I don’t want to deal with anything under those circumstances, and generally don’t. Which is, of course, not particularly constructive. It’s a fairly low-grade thing as these things go; I’ve never had a need to be medicated or anything along those lines, and I’m not manic, either. I just have your basic garden-variety depression, clinically speaking. It’s a liveable condition, kinda like diabetes.

As I’ve gotten older, however, I’ve gotten better at managing it. I often end up forcing myself to be (remain) sociable and put on a happy face. Anything’s better than just sitting, by myself, with my thoughts, when I’m depressed. That’s not to say I don’t examine the causes and effects and solutions of/for my depression, just that I try not to dwell on it. I certainly journal a lot during said times (not that that’s so different from normal – and yeah, I do keep an ink-and-paper journal. What, you think I tell you bitches everything? Oh, no I don’t). So right now, if I seem a little off, if my entries aren’t what you’ve come to expect, if I’m not as gregarious face-to-face, that’s why. But as Daniel Bedingfield sang, I’ve gotta get through this. And I will.

OK, maybe this is a good sign; maybe today won't be as grey as the sky is, thanks to my launchcast playing the Heartists' "Belo Horizonti (Brix Edit)," a sexy, riotous, street-party-in-Rio of a record immediately before I walk out the door to another day at the office. I need this. It's a reminder of the little glints of sun peeking through the encompassing clouds right now.

Thanks for the conversation last night, sexbomb.

Random thoughts on my top 99 of 1999, part 2.
I miss New Radicals. A lot.
If all gospel music sounded like BeBe Winans’s collaboration with Masters at Work, “Thank You,” a lot more people would listen to gospel music.
Admit it: the first couple of times you heard “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” you thought Ricky Martin’s star-making smash was pretty undeniable, too.
When I hear “Sexxlaws” by Beck now, all I can think of is Lawrence v. Texas.
Timbaland may need Ginuwine the way a fish needs a bicycle, but Ginuwine needs Timbaland like a fish needs water. Without Tim’s masterful production, Ginuwine sounds bereft of any content whatsoever (“In Those Jeans,” anyone?). Yet his older singles, such as “What’s So Different,” are not only interesting lyrically – suggesting to a woman that if she’d cheat on her man with Ginuwine, what’s to say she wouldn’t cheat on him, too? – but the tracks themselves are predictably state-of-the-art. Let’s hope Tim’s new Beat Club signing Kiley Dean is as good as her potential – and cuts the mustard commercially – so we get to hear his brilliance on more new music than Missy records. The pop diaspora needs Tim’s shock-of-the-new, brilliant avant-garde shit; we can’t expect the Neptunes to shoulder the entire load.
No one who loves hiphop would ever, I think, attempt to state that Busta Rhymes isn’t a phenomenal rapper and mic prescence. That having been said, however, Busta desperately needs great tracks to push him – singles with Mariah don’t cut it. When he’s on, he’s on, though, and “Gimme Some More” is a fine case in point, all swirling, romantic ‘60s film-theme strings and odd horn jabs forcing Busta to ever-greater heights of sublime weirdness.
More than any TLC record, her verse on Donnell Jones’ “U Know What’s Up” makes me miss Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes something fierce.
Important to note about Destiny’s Child, and Beyoncé in particular: as “Bills, Bills, Bills” shows, they’re just as expert at singing against the beat as with it. More, please.
No, of course “Smooth” isn’t a good record because of Rob Thomas. It’s good because of Mr. Santana’s blistering guitar licks – and because Thomas, in writing “Smooth,” gave Carlos (for the first time in nearly two decades) the stuff pop crossover dreams are made of. For that, as much as it pains me to admit it, he should be applauded.
Never, ever, did I expect to find a good cover of a song by – gasp! – Toto. But somehow, against all conventional thinking, Eric Benét featuring Faith Evans pulled it off with “Georgy Porgy.”

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Gorgeous words from Todd today:

"But if there's anything I've learned, it's that if you want something, you should ask for it; if you feel something, you should say it."

Amen, brother. Amen.

Weird night. Was laying (lying?) on my bed a little after 730pm, just letting my mind drift. Next thing I knew, my clock said 1200 and it was dark. Got up for about an hour, checked email et cetera, and was back in bed by 1am. So was it a four-plus-hour nap, or did I sleep for 10 hours with a one hour break? At least there were no dreams involving steak sandwiches.

Launch has an utterly superb two-and-a-half minute interview with Thom and Johnny of Radiohead, in which they call out corporate radio and record companies for what they largely are: shit. Watch it now.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Finished reading William J. Mann's Where the Boys Are today; it's quite a fine novel, and I'm now anxious to read the backstory - i.e., his previous novel, The Men from the Boys. This latest novel is told in the voices of three main characters, two of them an erstwhile on-again/off-again gay couple who don't know how to deal with just the two of them, and the third, a close friend who doesn't know how to deal with himself and what he wants (or thinks he does). Told between P-Town, Boston, and the North American circuit (parties), and packed with details that only a man familiar with the life would know, this is a compelling, well-told read. Recommended. [And nice to see Kensington publishing some serious fiction these days, too.]

Duly chastened, changes made. Can you find it in you to forgive me?

Silence scares me. Or used to, at least.

Not that I have to talk all the time, but when other people are quiet, I tend to worry, thinking that I’ve done something wrong. I’m slowly getting over that with time – especially as I learn how better to be quiet, myself – but it’s still a concern. It’s all tied in with self-esteem issues, of not feeling good enough or adequate enough, and as I get older and continue to mature, I gain confidence in myself, and some of those issues become lessened. But there’s always going to be part of that terrified 11-year-old kid inside me, and I can’t change that. So I learn how to reassure him, and in doing so, myself.

Random thoughts on my top 99 of 1999, part 1.
[For the end of the millennium – oh, I don’t care if it’s not technically correct, shut up – I wanted to do something big, so I went for the obvious, a top 99 of ’99. As at the time I was still making my “phat tapes,” I called these the “superphat tapes.” 6 cassettes. A lot of work. But a lot of fun to listen to – at least, I think so. We’ll find out together, won’t we?]
’99 was the year the Roots broke through at long last, thanks to the Erykah Badu-featuring (and Jill Scott-cowritten) “You Got Me,” a sublime piece of hiphop balladry complete with a live drum-n-bass breakdown for a bridge. They followed that with “The Next Movement,” a more classic Roots track, Black Thought flippin’ lyrics while Rahzel beatboxes like no one since Doug E. Fresh and the rest of the guys just play like they do. Even better than Things Fall Apart, I think, is their subsequent live record, The Roots Come Alive - proof that live hiphop can be just as amazing as live rock or what-have-you.
“Battleflag,” who remembers “Battleflag”? C’mon, Lo-Fidelity Allstars featuring Pigeonhed? Wherein LFA remixed a track by Sub Pop band Pigeonhed and turned it into a breakbeat-lite whomper, getting on modern rock radio and in countless TV shows? Tastes great, less filling.
I love hearing Guru rap. I love hearing nearly any DJ Premier production. Ergo, I love me some Gang Starr. Their Full Clip: A Decade of Gang Starr is a definitive hits collection, and featured the fine, new “Discipline” featuring Total. Really, in a lot of ways with Gang Starr, it’s not about the lyrics, it’s not about the song, it’s not about the guest artists – it’s just about hearing Guru rap and Primo behind the turntables.
Did you hear Sisqo’s second solo album? That’s why he’s back with Dru Hill now, reduced to opening concerts for bigger stars again.
I’m not a big fan of Beck, earnest, meaning-filled pseudo-folkie. I am, however, a big fan of Beck, the funkiest white man alive, as he shows himself to be (with no irony, thank God) on Midnite Vultures. He means it, maaaan. Beck’s masterpiece isn’t Odelay or even Mellow Gold, it’s Vultures, full of his bizarre non-sequiturs, letting his freak flag fly, like the mutant 150-IQ child of Frank Zappa and George Clinton. And he makes all the lesbians scream, you know.
Yes, I got so sick of it; it’s relentlessly overplayed in ever gay club worldwide. But “Believe” truly is one of Cher’s finest moments, a positively anthemic “I Will Survive” for the new millennium.
The same way I resent Afeni Shakur and Suge Knight for their exploitation of 2Pac’s catalog, I was livid with Puffy for releasing a posthumous Notorious B.I.G. record. But I have to admit to finding the idea of hearing a Biggie track at long last sampling Duran Duran’s “Notorious” appealing. Shame it wasn’t any better. Biggie deserved better.
Is that a Stevie Wonder sample at the opening of Mary J. Blige’s “More Than I Can Say”?
Two songs in the top 99 were by animated characters, both from South Park: Terence and Philip and Chef. “Uncle Fucka” is a ridiculously moronic, and even more ridiculously hilarious, song pairing some of the filthiest lyrics possible with total Disney-rama music. “Chocolate Salty Balls (P.S. I Love You)” is dirty, but supposed to be theoretically open to interpretation – but we all know it’s really supposed to be dirty. Hearing Isaac Hayes sing said lyrics only heightens the effect, gloriously.
Nas’ “Hate Me Now” is fairly undistinguished lyrically, but the song’s going for one thing: drama. And what better way to eke out that emotion than by sampling Orff’s Carmina Burana? To great effect, I might add.
The radio station at which I put in 3.5 years was pretty bad, roughly adult contemporary, with some truly wretched jocks (who are still on the air, amazingly). But over time Stumpy and I convinced our GM to let us start playing new music (albeit sparingly). And one of the good things about working at an independent, small-market station is that you often have the freedom to play what you want, within reason. So I’d test singles from the multi-format music-service discs were received, and if I got good response (or it was a no-brainer), I’d add ‘em to at least my evening shift. A prime example is the singles released from Tom Petty and the HeartbreakersEcho, most notably the instant classic “Swingin’.” New but not too new-sounding, fresh yet classic, this was perfect for our format (which we attempted to mutate a bit, when live, into adult top 40 without the crap and with more oldies/classic stuff than most similarly formatted stations, stuff like “Start Me Up” – again, when you’re not dependant on market research to make your programming decisions, you can do stuff like this – you know, like radio’s supposed to be!). Sorry, what was I saying before that rant left the tarmac? Oh, yeah. To sum up: Tom Petty good.

Metro Area is fucking godhead. Thanks, Paul. [More later.]

Monday, July 21, 2003

Today's top googling? "Happy Mondays fucking free downloads." I can only hope that the googler in question was being emphatic, rather than searching for Bez with his cock out (or, worse yet, Shaun fucking Ryder). On a happier note, I'm delighted that I got multiple hits from folks searching for Adina Howard info today. However, who in their right fucking mind would pay $164 for a copy of her unreleased second album? She was a one-trick pony, y'all. But what a trick "Freak Like Me" was ("poom! poom!").

VH-1's 200 Greatest Pop Culture Icons is a great idea (and be sure to check out the Risko caricatures on the website), but I found my attention drifting after less than 20 minutes, and ended up watching CMT's Inside Fame on Tanya Tucker instead. Damn, she's had a wild life and an amazing career. And that voice!

How in the fuck did I leave Anita Baker's "Sweet Love" off my top 80 of the '80s?! [It's a rhetorical question; the actual answer is "because I'm a forgetful idiot."]

Wrote what I thought was a good post. Blogger ate it. Feh.
To sum it up: the Post's Dan Balz is a great political journalist. His webchat today was fine. Here's the transcript.

For a long time - most of the last 2.5 years I've been employed by The Planning Council - I've traditionally told people that I may not make a lot of money at my job, but it's fulfilling, I enjoy it, so it's all alright.

No more.

I am over it. I'm sick of bullshit regulations (meaning within the context of a Virginia Department of Social Services program, not specific things at my agency, for the most part). I'm sick of trying so hard to be a good employee while coworkers get away with absolute murder (I know, that's not specific to my job, but still). And most of all - non-PC alert - I'm fucking sick and tired of these ghetto mamas trying to run game. Thinking that they're the smart ones - uh, excuse me bitch, if you so smart how come you got 4 kids by 3 different baby daddies and you comin' to me to help ya pay for it, huh? These women who were raised in a "welfare culture," where the way you survive (if not thrive) is by taking advantage of the system. Who think that having a job is too much to ask. Now, this isn't to say that there aren't clients of mine who don't sincerely need the helping hand, and who aren't using it to better their lives and the lives of their children - because there most definitely are. But numerous bad apples really do spoil the whole bunch, and lemme tell ya, we've got entire bushels of fucking worm-infested apples amongst our clientele. If you "just forgot" to get paperwork in, then your subsidized childcare isn't that important to you, is it? So don't expect me to give a good damn if your case is closed; you certainly didn't (until you heard the money tap being shut off, right?). I'm gonna stick with this job until I move, but after that, no fool no more, as En Vogue so presciently sang. I applaud those who have the tenacity and personalities to help the disenfranchised, 'cause it's important work. But my days in social work are numbered. By me.

Random thoughts on my top 50 of 2000, part 3.
I’ve suggested in this space recently that Madonna, artistically speaking, appears to be in decline, and I stand by that. But that doesn’t mean she can’t still strike gold from time to time, as she did on the single “Music.” This should’ve been what she was going for with Ray of Light: nasty Frenchified funk (courtesy of producer Mirwais) that endlessly, effortlessly, makes asses shake like some miracle product advertised in hour-long 3am commercials – the kind you watch after a night at the club, shaking your ass to the music, and the “Music,” all night long. Plus she uses the word “bourgeousie.” So what went wrong on American Life?
Ruff Endz were, themselves, instantly forgettable, but “No More” is a delectable sweet/tart of a song, one which’ll still bring a smile to my face a decade from now.
“The Light” is one side of the Common coin, his most-displayed side, the sensitive-guy/black Phil Donahue side. [Please – tell me he wouldn’t wear a hippie dress in harmony with womankind, and I’ll tell you how wrong I think you are.] It’s good, and it’s refreshing in the pimps up/ho’s down world of hiphop, but it’s starting to smell a little stale. The otherside of that coin comes through all too rarely, but still pops up on tracks like “The 6th Sense.” The key is in the production; the genius who is DJ Premier helps keep Common from fully succumbing to the tarpits of complete pussiness.
“Party Up (Up In Here)” is to 2000 as to “In Da Club” is to 2003. And, really, you can take that parallel even further and suggest that DMX is to ‘00 the way 50 Cent is to ‘03. The big difference? When I hear DMX rapping, I always feel like he’s about thisfar from coming unhinged. He’s unstable – and I love that about him. DMX is pure animus on wax.
I sure hope Mystikal invested the royalties from “Shake Ya Ass” well.
Michael Moog is, basically, irrelevant to me, but “That Sound” was the best disco-soaked filtered house record of 2000 – and maybe 2001, too.
“I Think I’m In Love With You” is the sound of “Jack and Diane” on the radio, singing along at the top of your lungs in your best friend’s convertible as you fly down the highway heading towards the beach, on the cusp of leaving your teenage years, high on life, high on that certain someone. It’s the sound of Jessica Simpson in love. It’s the sound of you in love, too.
Hearing Armand Van Helden ripping shit (and “Cars”) up on “Koochy” is the epitome of the phrase “fuck me gently with a chainsaw” transformed into brilliant tech-house. The purists hated it, always a good sign. [I ranked this #8 at the end of 2K; a re-rank would likely land it at #3, possibly even in the runner-up spot.]
Do you remember the first time you heard anything from Radiohead’s Kid A? That wonderment, that amazement, that oh-my-fucking-God jaw-droppingment? I remember being particularly interested in what they’d come up with after OK Computer, and actually tuning into the local “modern rock” (my ass) station to hear the first spin of “Optimistic.” And it was so, so – dissonant. So almost Sonic Youthish. So pushing the parameters of what you can do in the rock idiom, as the “next/last great hope.” And they’re still. Fucking. Doing It. They may not be the best rock band alive today, but they’re unquestionably the most important, I think, because of the way they push and prod and kick at the constructs of the genre, of the form, from their position as a global colossus. Like a man given superpowers who uses them for good, they’re the good guys, they’re on our side. People will talk about them in 50 years. Seriously.
Outkast = P-Funk. It's that fucking simple.
D’Angelo’s “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” might just be the “Let’s Get It On” of our generation.

Random thoughts on my top 50 of 2000, part 2.
I loathe Baby, and have no clue how he’s become everyone’s favorite rap cameo whore. I hate 2002’s “Still Fly,” too. But Big Tymers nailed it, just once, on 2000’s “Get Your Roll On,” largely due to masterful production by Mannie Fresh, the architect of the Cash Money sound. 3-4 years ago, he looked as talented as maybe even Timbaland, crafting a new sound to hiphop; now, he appears to be that brief era’s Swizz Beats (his main competition at the time). If you don’t believe me, check out Cash Money – The Instrumentals for the proof of his giantness.
Chicks On Speed are just as much a conceptual art project-as-music as Fischerspooner, only where they fall flatter in some ways, they succeed more thoroughly in others. Being based in Berlin somehow makes them much cooler, too. “Glamour Girl” is a marvelous accident, a goof which somehow ended up better than most of the year’s house singles, with an odd perkiness which comes off as believable, beyond belief.
Killing Puritans is an incredible, snarling, nasty beast of an album, the beast Armand Van Helden’s released yet. From the Scorpions-sampling of “Little Black Spiders” to the unholy cumfest that is “Koochy” (more on that later), this is the sound of – as Van Helden himself once referred, glowingly, to Basement Jaxx – house music getting fucked up the ass. It’s not, however, without its joy, most notably on retrofitted “Full Moon,” featuring Common. Armand goes all ’85 disco-mutating-into-what-we-know-now-as-house while Common spits “I’ll House You” lines all over your area, and you believe once again that dance is life.
Carl Thomas, please pick up the white courtesy phone. Hello? Bueller? Bueller? Hearing “I Wish” does offer me the opportunity, though, to discuss my #4 remix of ’00, which was done by a then-coworker’s husband with too much equipment and time on his hands. From a mix he titled Paper Chase 2000 - the kind of bootleg mix that you used to be able to buy on street corners in big cities, and still can in streetside record stores – I call this “I Wish/Ryde Or Die Chick (DB Blend),” wherein the mixmaster simply flips up the instrumentals of each track and rematches them with the opposing vocal. This is premium hiphop mixing, and it goes down a charm.
”True – if I was you, I’d hate me too.”
- Lil’ Kim, “No Matter What They Say” (Notorious K.I.M., Undeas/Atlantic, 2000)
If I ever met a guy who said things to me like the lyrics of Mary J. Blige’s “Beautiful Ones,” I’d run to Ontario with him and get hitched in a heartbeat. Romance ain’t dead.
One of the buried treasures of this decade so far is Ice Cube featuring Krayzie Bone’s “Until We Rich.” A relax-yo’-mind ’70s-sounding soul sample underpins Cube doing his “if I ruled the world” riff while Krayzie catches bones with his teeth on the chorus. Cube then vamps out talkin’ ‘bout how “the best thing in life is life.” I love the way that even when he’s in a good mood, he sounds so damn angry.

Inspirational lyric: “Taught you what a trick and a ho is/taught you what a 654 is.” And he did, didn’t he?
For the record, I liked “Desert Rose” by Sting featuring Cheb Mami long before it became a car commercial. The best single the Policeman’s made in nearly a decade.
“I Can’t Wait” might actually be the greatest song Ol’ Dirty Bastard has released thus far. Produced by the Neptunes (I think), it samples what sounds like a cop-show theme from the ‘70s, just adding to the intensity. And Dirty just goes fucking nuts over the track. Is he the Captain Beefheart or Syd Barrett of hiphop, completely crazy and ridiculously gifted? Think about it – he gives shout-outs to Luke, “all the schoolteachers,” “the Eskimos,” and himself, amongst others.
Please follow up Where I Wanna Be, Donnell Jones.
No Doubt are fun, spunky, full of life and fire. But they hit a surprising stride on the sad, lovely, truthful “Simple Kind of Life.” After hearing it, every time, I just want to give Gwen Stefani a hug. The kicker’s the last line of the last verse: “You seem like you’d be a good Dad,” Gwen sings plaintively, and I almost cry.

In last night's featured dream (I've been having a lot of very vivid dreams which I've been remembering lately), I was in a new town (no idea where, but there were no discernible accents), starting a new job at a radio station. I think it was basically a top 40/adult contemporary station, though on Friday nights they had a three-hour program called "The KISS Hour," which was three hours of KISS. Bob was with me, and I think so was my friend Keith (who was the GM of our college radio station when I was MD). My first shift was supposed to start at 11pm on a Sunday night (?!), but I missed the top of the hour and Anita Baker's "Sweet Love" started at 11:01. Bob was in the kitchen - the radio station had a full kitchen - making some sort of baked shredded steak sandwiches. The windchills were subzero outside, but there was no snow. For some reason, my training started with my first airshift. The jock training me was awfully cute, and reminded me a little bit of Curt, but much more all-American boy-next-door. There were lots of nearly-hidden aircheck recording devices in the main air studio.

It was all very overwhelming. My first shift didn't go very well.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

There's something very, very wrong about the fact that my launchcast just segued from Jeff Foxworthy (don't say a word) to Revolting Cocks' "Beers, Steers and Queers (Drop Your Britches Mix)." And very, very hilarious. "Gon' make you squeal, boy!"

On my way back from Subway (I love their new Chicken Pizziola sub) I observed two things which I found delightful - or delightfully disturbing, you make the Beach MTV call.

1. On a bench on the sidewalk, there was an apparently abandoned pair of khakis. Odd.
2. A car passed by me, loudly cranking Asia. Was it you, Joe? Must've been the heat of the moment.

Clearly, the most disturbing googling which has led here in weeks: R. Kelly's "Pee on You". Well, it is the freakin' weekend, I suppose.

Oy vey. Now I've gone and started selling my vast vinyl collection on ebay. It's going to take me a while to get things posted for auction, and I don't have pictures yet, but if you're interested, here's my ebay profile (which includes my current auctions).

I have never felt so - well, not heterosexual, per sé, but certainly not-gay - as I have while watching Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. I know, I know; I told a myriad of people this week that I wasn't going to watch, that it "propulgates stereotypes about gay men," et cetera, ad infinitum, blah blah blah. I simply sat down to eat some lunch today, flipped on the TV, and QE was on (and had just started). And damned if I didn't get so sucked in. This is stellar television, like a gay cross between Food 911, While You Were Out, and a makeover show. The Fab 5 counterbalance each other really well (someone's gotta counterbalance Carson), and I think Ted is a total beefcake. [I like guys in glasses, okay? Plus he has a sexy, deep voice.] And as far as my "argument" about stereotypes - well, no. There are gay men who flame, and there are gay men who don't. If you're watching this show, honestly, I'd hope you know that already (it's not like a lot of Republican Senators are gonna be watching this anyway). Queer Eye is good stuff.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

The first record I ever bought - at least the first full-length, which was on cassette - was Bob Dylan's Empire Burlesque. It was 1985. I went to Hire's electronics in downtown North Manchester. I bought it with money I stole from my Mom's purse. [I'm not proud of that fact, but am proud that I bought a Dylan cassette, of a record I still think is criminally underrated.]

I'd love to know what the first record you ever bought was. That's a good reason I have comments.

BTW, the new-to-me chachacha blog is good shit. Consider it blogrolled.

Today's another Saturday-o'-fun with Chas! Yay queen! [I'm so, so glad that Mike introduced me to that movie quote - it's from Fried Green Tomatoes. Which I didn't know, 'cause I'm a bad homosexual.]

Update, 1130pm: had a lovely day meandering our way through Eastern North Carolina, including stopping in Hertford so Chas could get his hair did, sojourning down to Greenville, home of East Carolina University (which has a gorgeous campus, lots of rich red brick buildings), then on to some smashing Carolina barbeque and fried chicken at Bill's in Wilson. Yay!

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