Wednesday, December 31, 2003

2004 is nearly upon us - at least, for those of us in the Eastern (US) time zone. 2003 was a pretty good year. This lil' page made some good things happen - good friendships begun, getting invited to vote in Pazz & Jop, being mentioned in Morley's book (which still blows my mind). I have higher hopes for the next year, including getting published in the print media, finding love (or, as Janet says, someone to call my lover), moving to DC, helping America get rid of Commandante Bush, and quitting smoking (really).

Thanks to everyone who's stopped by Oh, Manchester in 2003, and especially to those who've taken the time to leave a comment, send me an email, or otherwise let me know how/that I've affected them in some way.

Happy New Year.

Monday, December 29, 2003

Vacation snapshot #2:

Tonight I was talking with Scott about friendships with bloggers. Out of curiousity, I decided to look and see how many bloggers' numbers I have in my cell phone. [For the record: 13 out of 75, about 1/6.] When I grabbed my phone to do so, I saw I'd missed two calls while we were having dinner.

Both of them were from bloggers.

For those wondering, yeah, I received some gifts for Christmas, but they're not so important (though the bee-yoo-tiful leatherbound journal Chas is certainly at the top of the list). Though I did get 70 blank CDs, which means CDs owed to folks like you will be in the mail shortly after my return to VA. What's important, like Jenn said, is the time with friends and family. Last Saturday (the 20th) our gang had our annual Christmas shindig at Joe's, which was utterly lovely. Wednesday, I hopped a flight to Charlotte, and then Indianapolis (thanks for the ride, bitch!), for three days with my family. It was so, so good to get to spend time with them en masse for the first time in two years. I hadn't seen my baby sis in that long, and hadn't seen my parents in about 16 months. My middle sis came for a visit in March, but I hadn't yet met my new brother-in-law, who is a charmer and a keeper (good job, Amanda!). Christmas evening was spent over at Amanda and Bryant's with little sis Sarah in tow, playing the Bass Fishing Edition of Monopoly (fishing's a passion of my brother-in-law) - and really, no matter what edition you're playing, it's hard to beat Monopoly.

Saturday, Stumpy came by, and we embarked on our "history tour" of both of our hometowns. In Warsaw we stopped by our old place of employment, while North Manchester saw us walking around the campus of our alma mater and stopped for alcohol and jukebox fun at The Inn, our old college drinking post (and bizarrely, they still had Ween's "Voodoo Lady" amidst all the Toby Keith and southern rock on the jukebox!). We then made our way down to Indianapolis, which is much prettier than I'd remembered - especially the Monon Trail, which Stump and I walked a couple miles of through Broad Ripple yesterday. Today will feature the obligatory visit to Luna, quite possibly still the greatest I-want-more-than-I-can-find-at-Sam-fucking-Goody-and-a-knowledgeable-staff-as-well record sto', evah. And who knows what else? We're purposely keeping an unplanned vibe going throughout the week. Oh, and tonight I have dinner with recovering-from-the-flu Scott and Jay, yay. Blogger meets = good. Long vacation = even better.

An email from The Village Voice:

Thomas Inskeep, your votes have been recorded.
Your Pazz & Jop albums ballot was submitted as follows:

1. Basement Jaxx - Kish Kash - XL/Astralwerks (17 points)
2. Postal Service - Give Up - Sub Pop (13 points)
3. Soilwork - Figure Number Five - Nuclear Blast (12 points)
4. DJ/rupture - Minesweeper Suite - tigerbeat6 (11 points)
5. Dizzee Rascal - Boy in Da Corner - XL (UK) (10 points)
6. Led Zeppelin - How the West Was Won - Atlantic (10 points)
7. Erykah Badu - Worldwide Underground - Motown (9 points)
8. Various Artists - Music from the Motion Picture Camp - Decca/UMG Soundtracks (8 points)
9. Richard X - Presents His X Factor Volume 1 - Astralwerks (5 points)
10. OutKast - Speakerboxxx/The Love Below - Arista (5 points)

Your Pazz & Jop singles ballot has been recorded as follows:

1. Beyonce f/Jay-Z - "Crazy In Love" - Sony
2. Johnny Cash - "Hurt" - Lost Highway
3. R. Kelly - "Ignition Remix" - Jive
4. Justin Timberlake - "Rock Your Body" - Jive
5. Electric Six - "Dance Commander" - XL/Beggars Banquet
6. Freeway f/Jay-Z and Beanie Siegel - "What We Do..." - Roc-A-Fella
7. Dizzee Rascal - "Fix Up, Look Sharp" - XL (UK)
8. Panjabi MC - "Mundian to Bach Ke" - Sequence
9. Basement Jaxx f/Dizzee Rascal - "Lucky Star" - XL/Astralwerks
10. 50 Cent - "In Da Club" - Shady/Aftermath

Vacation snapshot #1:

Wednesday night, after leaving my Dad's Christmas Eve service (he's a pastor, yo), my parents ask me, in unison, "So, what did you think of C?" C was a guy who sang a solo during the service. I ask, "What do you mean?" "Well, is he gay?"

You coulda knocked me over... my parents asking me if a guy is gay? Now, mind you, while he was singing, all I could think of was how much I wanted to bite his nipples - he was wearing a sweater, perfectly draped across his perfect chest. But this I didn't expect.

"Well, how old is he?"
[Thinking to myself, "17'll get you 20." Dammit, dammit, dammit.]
"What's he do in school?" [I was looking for a reference to show choir here.]
"He's a diver." [...]
"Anything else?"
"He's really into horses, equestrian stuff."
"Yeah, he's gay."

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Yes, I'm still alive. Having a marvelous vacation back in the Hoosier state. Spent three days with my family, which was great, though it served to remind me what a city dweller I've become; after three days in (virtually) the middle of nowhere without transport or 7-Elevens nearby, I was, frankly, ready to move along. Which I've done. I'm now reporting live from Jeffy's, a/k/a Club Ralston, in Indianapolis, after a splendid day of reminiscences in both of our hometowns. I feel better just using a cable 'net connection again. Tonight, we're going to hear a buddy of Jeff's spin deep house. Pinch me, somebody! Not much else to report, frankly. Hoping your vacations - for those of you fortunate enough to be on them, still - are proving as pleasant as mine.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Let's make it a holiday tradition: pray for peace.

"Happy Xmas (War Is Over)"
Yoko Ono & John Lennon

(Happy Xmas Kyoko
Happy Xmas Julian)

So this is Xmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Xmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones
The old and the young

Have a very Merry Xmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Xmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong
And so happy Xmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let's stop all the fight

Have a very Merry Xmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Xmas
And what have we done
Another year over
A new one just begun
And so happy Xmas
We hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones
The old and the young

A very Merry Xmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear
War is over, if you want it
War is over now

Happy Xmas

Happy holidays, everyone.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Wow! It's one thing to have your own wishlist - it's another to think that anyone's actually going to get you something from it. But that's exactly what Johnny did! The UPS man (via my roomie) delivered a new copy of Prick Up Your Ears to me this afternoon! Johnny, seriously: you rock. Thank you so very much.

Odds & ends:

Good Lord, just listen to how loud the drums are on John Mellencamp's "Rain on the Scarecrow." Especially during the song's intro, when Kenny Aronoff sounds as if he's about to bash through your speaker heads.

A pair of new tracks are online over at Go Home Productions. [I haven't yet heard 'em, but bet they're corkers, especially the Brit/Mads/PiL mashup.] Mark's had a phenomenal year, and promises that '04 "will be massive." Whatcha wanna bet he crosses over next year? I'll be standing to applaud when he does so; Mark's clearly one of the most creative minds in contempo music these days.

My #1 album and single of the year should come as a surprise to absolutely no one: Basement Jaxx's Kish Kash and "Crazy In Love" by Beyonce featuring Jay-Z.

I'm not even remotely a Paul Simon fan - I can't even stand Simon & Garfunkel - and I'm not a big fan of Graceland overall, either. But only a pigfucker could not love "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes," thanks not nearly as much to Rhymin' Simon as to the marvelousness of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. I really need to track down a copy of The Indestructible Beat of Soweto, too...

Can you woo woo woo?

Monday, December 22, 2003

Who's a member of the Stones, and who runs a Middle Eastern country? It's so hard to tell these days...

The ABA?! Oh, Dennis, this is just so sad.

Speaking of sad, in case you still haven't seen it, here's hard-and-fast black-and-white evidence that Sully is a hypocritical pig. Responsibility, Andy? Yeah, fuck off. [SullyWatch: indispensible. I praise Waremouse daily for introducing it to me.]

Finished reading Brent Hartinger's young adult novel Geography Club (HarperTempest/HarperCollins, 2003) today. It's a lovely little book about the challenges faced every day by gay kids in high school - in particular, the book's narrator, Russel Middlebrook, who as sweet, adorable, and neurotic as only a high school kid can be. Some of the best fiction being published these days is directed towards young adults, and this novel is definitely near the front of that list. Highly recommended.

Great Andy Katz column today over at about when students meet their teachers on the hardwood - i.e., former assistants/star players-turned-head-coaches taking on their mentors' teams. The peg is a very interesting men's college basketball game happening tonight at 9pm on ESPN, as Steve Alford's Iowa Hawkeyes travel to Lubbock to face Bob Knight's Texas Tech Red Raiders. Both teams have been playing bubblicious-to-good ball in the early part of the season, and this game should give both Knight and Alford a good indication of where their respective teams are headed.

Speaking of good indications, after Purdue's (frankly) embarassing 60-59 loss to SMU yesterday in their own Boilermaker Invitational, here's what head coach Gene Keady had to say:

"This team, right now, can go either way... we can either be a real bad team in March or a real fun team. It's going to be a nice test to see how we respond."

Whatcha wanna bet that Gene won't be handing out Christmas gifts to Kenny Lowe and company this week? The Boilers host Evansville on Saturday before hitting the road for games at Colorado State and Baylor; Purdue opens its Big Ten campaign 1/7 at Iowa.

Oh, and one other hoops query: what the fuck happened to Kansas last night, losing 75-61 at Nevada?!

This just in: RIAA says fuck you, we're going to keep suing. Nation is shocked. Boycotting's always an option.

I call it My Life as a Beatnik. Link via Chas (no, not this Chas, the other one).

My Pazz & Jop ballot came Friday, and I don't care how uncool it makes me, I'm geeked about voting. It's actually all over 'cept the shouting (a/k/a my comments). When done, I'll post it, of course.

Busy, short week. I'm flying out Wednesday morning, but beforehand I've got to do a ton of laundry, get a haircut, pack, do some cleaning at home (augmenting what the roomie's already done), and of course burn vacation CDs. Apart from one thing I've gotta pick up over lunch today, gifts are done (well, except for his, but really, isn't 8 days of my company the greatest gift of all? LOL). I will be blogging some on vacation; am thinking of doing some sort of travelogue-type thing during my stay in the Hoosier state, along with some of the usual stuff (and getting "best of '03" posted?). How ironic that I'll likely be posting more from Stump's place than he will...

For those wondering what's going on with GIBS, well, your guess is as good as mine.

I finished C700 Go!: 1986: You Must Have Heard the Cautionary Tale this weekend, and it's almost ready to send out, once I fix a couple of CDR-burning glitches. It'll get blogged eventually, too. I would have to be doing all these music projects-to-be-blogged around the holidays, wouldn't I? Oh, and who knows where I came up with the title? It's a lyric from one of the songs on the disc.

C700 Go!: 1986: You Must Have Heard the Cautionary Tale Contest. First person to leave a comment telling me (no cheating!) what motion picture soundtrack Michael McDonald's "Sweet Freedom" is from (it's an '86 film, natch) - and who its two stars were - gets a copy of the disc. [You're ineligible, but you're getting one anyway.]

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Well, well, well! 2003 featured the closest battle for the UK's Christmas #1 in years, and the big winner is a bit of a big surprise.

It's not the Pop Idols, whose predictably crap cover of John and Yoko's "Happy Xmas" - the bookies' favorite - slunk in at #5.

It's not Bo Selecta, whose bizarre, oh so British novelty record "Proper Chrimbo" features the best lyric of any of the contenders: "Ho, ho, ho, I'm a bad mofo!" He's at #4. [That record, btw, was Dizzee Rascal' favorite for the prize.]

Thank heavens it's not Ozzy and Kelly Osbourne. Now, I'm thrilled that Ozzy finally got a UK #1 last week. But did it have to be a duet with his entirely talentless daughter on a butchered rewrite of Black Sabbath's "Changes"? Disheartening, and down two to #3.

And rather surprisingly, it's not The Darkness, who were the favorites all week, once the first-day sales figures were announced. "Christmas Time (Don't Let the Bells End)" is a charmingly metallic holiday record, but really, not much better than Slade's ol' warhorse "Merry Christmas Everybody." And Darkness singer Justin's whining all month about how "ours is a proper Christmas record" got seriously grating.

So the Christmas #1 for 2003 is from, of all places, the 2001 motion picture Donnie Darko! It's a fine cover of Tears for Fears' "Mad World" done by Michael Andrews featuring Gary Jules - albeit a real pass-the-barbituates kind of holiday tune. Gorgeous record, though.

For those non-Brits wondering what all the fuss is about, "Mad World" and "Christmas Time" have been added to the Christmas downloads section to your right. Please form an orderly queue.

More Christmas downloads up today. The first, of course, you know; it's Band Aid's 1984 charity smash "Do They Know It's Christmas," still one of the finest benefit records e'er made, even with involvement from both mastermind Bob Geldof and Phil Collins (mercifully, just drumming, not singing). Upon its release, this was the fastest-selling single in the UK's history - and until Elton's "Dear Dead Diana '97," the biggest-selling as well. The then-cream of the British crop was all here: Boy George, Simon LeBon, Bono, Sting... and oddly, Jody Watley, as well (if you don't believe me, check the video - she's there, sans her Miami-sized hoop earrings). "Do They Know" was the impetus for both USA For Africa and Live Aid, too. And really, what goes better with your spiked eggnog and pressies than guilt over the famine in Africa?

The other you may not know; it's one of a small library of New Year's Eve-themed records, this one from 1980 and by, yes, Dan Fogelberg, the man who made James Taylor seem ballsy. My Mom was a big fan of his, and played his Greatest Hits record over and over, to the point at which most of its contents are indelibly imprinted on my brain. But "Another Auld Lang Syne" is actually good. Probably because it's a pretty, sad song, a bit schmaltzy but still with a slight amount of bite. Give it a go, why don't you?

Saturday, December 20, 2003

HUGE. Finally, a court willing (and able) to stand up for the privacy rights of the public against the monolith that is Cary Sherman and the RIAA. Fight the power!

Friday, December 19, 2003

Odds & ends:

Why do I love OutKast's "The Way You Move" more than "Hey Ya!"? Because "Move" is salsatastic.

Why is Blogger having such issues with "é" of late? Anyone? [It's supposed to be an accented "e," pronounced "ay."]

After a three-week absence, I'm back to posting over at Rock Me Tonight; as promised, today I've finished working my way through 1982's charttoppers. 1983, a/k/a the year of Thriller, awaits.

Oy. Not only did I oversleep this morning - I guess that'll happen, eventually, when you're up till 1am almost every weeknight (for no good reason, I might add) - but then, about halfway to work, I tripped on the sidewalk and fell, knees-first, into a lovely muddy front lawn. Which of course meant that I had to turn around, go back home, and change clothes (and go). Yeah, I made it into the office circa 945am - only 1:15 later than I'm supposed to be here. The one and only saving grace? The boss is on vacation today, thank goodness.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Tonight I saw a sneak preview of Cold Mountain, and it's everything Miramax is going to build it up as, and perhaps more. Jude Law is astonishing, giving by far his best performance yet. Renée Zellweger is great as always, and Nicole Kidman is typically superb. Director Anthony Minghella is someone I've respected before but never really liked his work - until now. This film is a marvel of direction - and scriptwriting, and Minghella adapted Charles Frazier's bestseller himself. T-Bone Burnett's music is on par with what he did for O Brother, Where Art Thou?. Gabriel Yared's score is a feat unto itself. I'm not a Civil War buff, nor have I read Frazier's novel, but I was enraptured by every moment on the screen. The story is really, of course, two stories: a war story and a love story. Both are told so expertly, and intertwined note-perfectly. The only 2003 film I've seen it its league is Lost In Translation, and Law's performance here rivals Bill Murray's in its complexity and nuances. Shockingly, shockingly great filmmaking, and a definite must-see when it opens on Christmas Day, y'all. Wow.

Inspirational lyric:

"I remember house when house was soul music and R&B."
- Blaze, "Do You Remember House" (Spiritually Speaking, West End, 2003)

The gayest photo ever.

And on a related note, last night a local TV weatherman - referring to rainy streets - used the ill-advised phrase "areas of wetness." Funny, that phrase does not bring rainy streets to my mind...

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Courtney's back! Courtney's back! You can either stream "Mono," the first single from America's Sweetheart, or download it and (by providing a birthdate, zipcode, and email addy) listen to off your hard drive for 15 days. I think I'm with Eppy - I'm thrilled it's so loud 'n' nasty. It doesn't knock my socks off. But it's good, real solid, and it sounds like Courtney's sneering more than she has in a while - always good. Best line: "When they say that rock is dead, they're probably right."

My score was
54.58937% - Super Music Nerd
on The Music Nerd Test. [I prefer the term "music geek," myself. Link via Nate's livejournal - and like him, I'm frankly surprised by how low my score was.]

Speaking of being a Music Nerd-slash-Geek, no, I haven't abandoned my newest baby, Rock Me Tonight; have just gotten caught up in other things, and needed a brief break. Lately, any time I've had a minute to work on it, something has come up almost instantaneously. Hopefully, before week's end, I'll get back to it, and wrap up 1982.

And, I've decided which year I'm going to do a C700 Go! on: 1986. It will not be the same mix as this one, I'm assuming (I got the link, but didn't cheat and look at it).

Odds & ends:

Finally got my hands on a copy of the Pluramon record last night, Dreams Top Rock (Marcello's #1 album of 2003, natch) (thanks Paul), and first listen results in a response somewhere in the neighborhood of "wowza!" More thoughts as they come, but this is really good shit, kids.

New adds to the blog-and-linkroll (that sounds like a hot dog...) include the return of my roommate's blog, now titled My Little Corner of the Web World, Scott Woods (a/k/a Mr. Rockcritics)'s weddings, parties, everything (how did I not know he has a blog?!), the fabulously-designed and -written LEE TV (not a blog, more a website, for what it's worth), and Obliquity, an gay, newsy, information-overload blog which I neglected to welcome over the weekend and have taken quite a shining to.

Per her request, I'll be posting an mp3 of Jeff Foxworthy's "Redneck 12 Days of Christmas" this evening.

Not reading a lot lately, book-wise. My local library has ordered Felice Picano's Men Who Loved Me and A House on the Ocean, A House on the Bay, but they're not in yet. Grrr. Patience is a virtue I tend to live without.

My top 10 albums of 2003 are done and ranked. Not sure when I'll start posting/writing about them yet, but I will tell you that the list includes 2 records which can easily be referred to as metal, but oddly, no hip-hop. The singles list will take longer.

Last night's Queer Eye holiday party episode was divine - and served to further drive home the point that I really need the Fab 5 to work their homo magic on me. [I'd like to work some homo magic with Ted, too, but that's of another variety...]

Apart from the two absolute classics in the canon - Nat "King" Cole's "The Christmas Song (written by Mel Tormé!) and Donny Hathaway's "This Christmas" - my next three favorite holiday songs all have but a tenuous link to December 25th; two have the word "Christmas" in their titles, but none of the trio are about Christmas. One of them, Wham!'s "Last Christmas," I discoursed upon earlier this week.

The first of the remaining two is "Fairytale of New York," by the Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl. It's the finest moment of Shane MacGowan's crew of merry men, on which they reign themselves in to take on the tale of a relationship. You know this isn't your traditional holiday fare when you hear the first line: "It was Christmas Eve, babe, in the drunk tank... ." No sleigh bells to be found here, just trad Irish folk instrumentation, with MacGowan's vocals intertwining perfectly with MacColl's (she was always his finest foil - R.I.P., Kirsty). "Fairytale" goes from nice to nasty to nice in the space of 4:35, and ultimately is a (!) heartwarming record, immensely more emotionally satisfying than a thousand renditions of "White Christmas."

And then there's the all-time-classic hand-me-the-Stoli-and-nembutal Christmas record, Prince's "Another Lonely Christmas." As the Purple One goes through the song's verses, it sounds to be a "why'd you leave, baby?" record, a standard theme done uniquely by Prince, 'cause (back in '84 at least) he's not capable of doing otherwise. But then, in the last verse, he throws a hard left straight into your solar plexus: the reason that "every Christmas night for seven years now" he's been drinking banana daquiris 'till he's blind is because his girl didn't leave him - at least not in the traditional sense; she died. Also features the greatest guitar solo ever in a holiday record, and a typically Princean freak-out coda. Added bonus: "Another" was half of one of the greatest 12" singles of all time, the b-side to the extended version of Purple Rain's fourth single, "I Would Die 4 U." And by "extended," I mean it goes from 2:48 (in its single edit) to over 10 minutes, and you know it's not just looped up; it's Prince and the Revolution jamming the fuck outta the song. "Another" is a towering triumph of sadness, and superbly counterpoints phony seasonal sentiment like a Ginsu knife through butter.

Christmas downloads will remain online until the end of the year. Coming soon: the best New Year's Eve single ever (it's not by Guy Lombardo), and Bob Geldof's reminder that nothing goes better with the holidays than guilt.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

So, Paul and I've got new mondo server space, which means more mp3s from me, yay! Until year's end, then, I'm going to have a separate section of special Christmas downloads (more on those shortly), so tonight am putting up "regular" weekly downloads. To wit:

How fucking incredible is Timmy Thomas' 1972 single "Why Can't We Live Together?" And why had I never heard it until yesterday?! It was covered by Sade on their '85 debut, Diamond Life, but don't let that put you off (love me some Sade, can't stand the cover). For 1972, this is, I'm increasingly thinking, an incredibly avant-garde record - it's so freaking minimalist! A rhythm track which sounds like a proto-Casio preset, some organ riffing, and Timmy's sad, plaintive voice giving us a simple "why can't we all just get along?" sentiment 20 years before L.A. burned. Amazing.

Timmy Thomas pops up on Joss Stone's phenomenal debut, The Soul Sessions, as well, which this 16-year-old from Devon, England recorded with and under the auspices of most of the old T.K. Records posse (including, most notably, Betty Wright). Thomas plays organ on the record, but the reason to stand up and cheer is the voice Stone possesses, along with her sheer confidence. She already knows not to sing five notes when one will do just as fine. Marcello's said she's the best British soul singer since Dusty Springfield, and he may well be right - and she might yet be even (shock and awe) better. The song featured here is her gender-flipped cover of the White Stripes, retitled "Fell In Love with a Boy." Stone takes it from a dirty Detroit garage to the Stax studio circa '69, and the transformation is truly impressive.

Wouldn't these lips

look better wrapped around a cock?
I think so, too.

Best James Brown single of the last 25 years: Prince's "Sexy M.F." Any questions?

It never fails: every single time I hear New Radicals' "You Get What You Give," I'm awed by what a perfect, ebullient, jaw-dropper of a pop song it is. [The same goes for the Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too. full-length, which definately/defiantly does not ride its single's coattails.] I hope Hall & Oates are proud of their progeny.

What I find most notable about the latest dumb-ass statement by Lions GM Matt Millen (Millen was talking with KC coaches and players after their pasting of the Lions, and attempted to talk with KC WR Johnnie Morton, who basically ignored him; Millen then called him a "faggot") is Morton's response:

"What he said is demeaning and bigoted," Morton told The Kansas City Star. ... "It's totally unacceptable. I have gay friends, and I don't even joke around with them like that."

An NFL player on a big-time team stating unequivocably to the media that he has gay friends, and won't stand for such "bigoted" language? Now, that's impressive. Thank you, Johnnie.

Monday, December 15, 2003

The Tin Man, rapidly approaching 30, writes:

"They say that who your idols are can tell you a lot about yourself... ."

Well, certainly. And mine are, and have for years been, Casey Kasem and Robert Christgau (XGau since I was about 18, Kasem since, oh, 10 or so). Going with Tin Man's line of thinking - which I find a fine one - I'm working on the XGau half of it, right here, and as far as the Kasem half, well, it's time to dive back into radio, innit? I don't care a whit about fame; I just need to follow my heart.

BTW, I discovered an amazing resource today for anyone with a love of top 40 radio and what it used to be (i.e. before the Clear Channel slaughter of originality in radio): the Reel Top 40 Radio Repository. They've got airchecks and huge, unedited chunks of DJs from the glory days of radio, including such giants as Wolfman Jack, Larry Lujack, and Rick Dees. AND they've got some chunks of American Top 40 - with the complete songs and all of Casey's trivia included! Here's an hour from 10/28/72 (the first 15 minutes alone include Alice Cooper's "Elected" and James Brown's "Good Foot (Part 1)," along with a newscast from WCFL Chicago with news on Nixon's reelection campaign), the first hour from 3/10/73, and the top 13 from 1/20/73.

And speaking of radio, I discovered another website today, this one devoted to Virginia radio & television news, VARTV - with an emphasis on Hampton Roads. It's apparently an adjunct of the DC-area site DCRTV. Both rock hard.

I know, I said that "[m]y 2003 listmania probably won't come until the first of the year," etc., but I'm 200% certain that nothing's going to top this for Lyric of the Year:

"I want so badly to believe
That there is truth, that love is real
And I want life in every word
To the extent that it's absurd."

- The Postal Service, "Clark Gable" (Give Up, Sub Pop, 2003)

Right. Back. Atcha. Thanks for the love. And Marcello, thanks for your immense gifts of writing, criticism, and emotion which you've been sharing with us via The Naked Maja and The Church of Me. I know I'm not alone in stating, unequivocably, that I'll miss reading you on a regular basis.

Warning: uber-geeky Oscar post ahead.

An out-and-out stunner from the New York Film Critics Circle today, as this independently-minded group of crix, who normally go for the arthouse princes and kings in their voting, named The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King as their best picture of 2003. This is a group that just four years ago crowned Topsy-Turvy the best film of 1999. This is huge, and potentially changes the complexity of the Oscar race, already on a fast track because of its having been moved up a month this year (to February 29th). Last week, the National Board of Review "officially" launched the Oscar race by awarding Mystic River its top prize and bestowing lead acting honors on Sean Penn (21 Grams and Mystic River) and Diane Keaton (current box-office champ Something's Gotta Give). The NBR also gave best director to The Last Samurai's Ed Zwick - and they've been about the only crix org, thus far, to go against the tide carrying Lost in Translation's Sofia Coppola (who, if Oscar nommed, would be only the third woman to do so, the others being Lina Wertmuller in '76 for Seven Beauties and The Piano's Jane Campion in '93). The NYFCC, Boston, and NY Film Critics Online have all gone with Coppola, with the SanFran crix going with Peter Jackson for LOTR. Lost star Bill Murray's doing even better, getting the lead acting award from everyone except the NBR thus far - NYFCC, Boston, SF, and NYFCO have all gone his way. The race for Best Actress is a tighter one; SF and NYFCO went with Monster's Charlize Theron, Boston with Lost's Scarlett Johansson (who's reportedly being pushed by Focus in Supporting Actress), and NYFCC gave it to Hope Davis for The Secret Lives of Dentists and American Splendor. This is just starting to get good, y'all...

On a related note, our local public radio station, WHRO, is hosting a benefit screening Thursday night, the area premiere of Cold Mountain, which is of course Miramax's annual Oscar-bait movie. It's at the Naro, just around the corner, so you know I've already got my tickets. [Fellow film buff Chas will be joining me.] Which means that either Thursday night or Friday morning, I'll post my review of the Jude-Nicole-Renée epic.

I've got my e-ticket to go home-o for the holidays! Yay, queen! I'm flying home Christmas Eve, will be with my family for three days (trust, any more than that and there are, shall we say, issues), and then in Indianapolis with Stumpy until January 4th. If you're an Indiana blogger besides this one (since we already have plans, not because I don't want to see him) and would like to meet up, do let me know. Already on the agenda: trips to the old workplace and college, some fine-ass tenderloins from Penguin Point, a drink at my hometown Inn, and a likely visit to the high holy temple of Indiana's religion. It's been two years since I've been back to my home state, and I'm ready... I don't ever want to live there again, but I sure can use a visit. Regardless of what Santa does or does not bring, this is going to be a good holiday.

What is it about Christmas music which brings out the worst, and occasionally, best, in artists? There need to be rules. Those of you considering recording a Christmas record for 2004, please remember the following:

1. Stop recording "The Christmas Song." Accept that Nat "King" Cole recorded the definitive version, and move on. There are plenty of other Christmas songs for you to cover. Black artists, however, may cover "The Christmas Song" if promising not to touch Donny Hathaway's "This Christmas."

2. Adding scatalogical humor, your pornographic fantasies, and/or a gratuitous "fuck" or "shit" to your Christmas song does not make it funny, except to those who purchase CDs released by "morning zoo" DJs. Bob Rivers, please accept that you're a talentless loser and preheat that gas oven.

3. Try something different for a change; cover a lesser-known song, or write your own. Think about it: many of the Christmas songs we most often hear during December, especially on the radio, are originals, from Macca's "Wonderful Christmastime" (we'll allow painfully dated production in the spirit of the season) to the mighty colossus that is "Christmas In Hollis" by Run-D.M.C.. Of course, different does not necessarily = good: when Reverend Run made his second appearance on a Very Special Christmas album, putting together a conglomeration of late-'90s hip-hop stars to "cover" "Santa Baby," he made the unfortunate decision to include Onyx. Funny, being shouted at somehow doesn't put me in the holiday spirit.

4. Rappers, more of you should cut Christmas songs. But please, put the cursing on hold for just this once, okay? We know you're "hard," really. [Addendum: this does not apply to DMX, who should never, ever attempt a Christmas record.]

5. Gospel artists, pick up a copy of Kirk Franklin and the Family's Christmas, go home, and listen to it. Enjoy it. And realize that you'll likely never top it. Anyone who can make a song titled "Jesus Is the Reason for the Season" as funky as Franklin and company did deserves a medal, or something.

6. Christmas is not an excuse to pile on the gloppy, overdone production. Josh Groban, Celine Dion ("buy my new par-fem and smell like a French-Canadian whore!"), and anyone associated with American Idol (especially the insufferably dweebish Gay - I mean, Clay - Aiken), are you listening to me? However, this does not mean you can't use superstar producers for the season, as TLC proved when they had Dallas Austin helm their "Sleigh Ride," which still sounds so fresh and so clean. Chad and Pharrell, please - the library of Christmas songs needs you.

7. For proof that not all rock Christmas records have to end up like Slade's "Merry Christmas Everybody," I present the cover of "Run Run Rudolph" by Keith Richards. And the original by Chuck Berry. Take notes.

8. The only perfect-from-start-to-finish Christmas album ever released is A Charlie Brown Christmas by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. Period. Though the one Phil Spector helmed comes oh so close. And the worst, or at least most unnecessary? Undoubtedly Christmas on Death Row, not a comp of killers and rapists warbling holiday cheer, but Suge Knight's cabal of artists circa '95, redeemed only by Snoop Dogg's take on "Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto."

Forthcoming: my guide to the definitive Christmas songs. And yes, it most certainly does include Wham!. And at least two other Christmas-not-Christmas songs from 1984 (a good year for such records). As well as the only great Christmas song to include the word "faggot." [Who knows which one that is? C'mon, it's easy! The "comment" box awaits your response(s)...]

I'm pretty fairly convinced that there can't possibly be a better song to start a chilly Monday morning with than the Blaze Shelter DJ Mix of Earth, Wind & Fire's "Fantasy." Akin to Dimitri from Paris's work on the classics used in his Playboy Mansion series, this is a re-edit, not a remix. And it's fucking perfect, (re)emphasizing EW&F's strongest points (of which there were certainly many), extending it a bit, and just generally making it a soulful dance nirvana. Every song should be this transcendent and triumphant.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Holly Valance's "State of Mind" whomps all over Kylie's "Slow" in the '80s electro/pop sweepstakes. That is all.

Oh, good God. Now this is a superb waste of time (and font of information): ladies and gentlemen, New Jack Swing 4Ever. And look, there's even tons of videos! Erik, this means you can finally watch the video for "Iesha" over and over to your heart's content. [And yes, I just called you out publicly as a fan of Another Bad Creation.]

The Paul Oakenfold remix of Michael Jackson's "One More Chance" isn't as much as remix, per sé, as a bit of polishing up. It doesn't plod as much, and seems brighter and shinier. It's not a dance mix, so if that's what you seek, look elsewhere. But it sure as hell does an additional bit of good for Oakey's name as a producer (and doesn't speak so well of R. Kelly's). Hearing this makes me think, "Hmmm, nice tune, and Jacko's singing well, alright, I could get with this." I believe that's called doing your job.

'Tis the season - for seasonal downloads!

Proof that we're living in a very different world than we have in the past: Target is using Lene Lovich's "New Toy" in their Christmas television ads. Lene Lovich?!?! You mean this Lene Lovich? Wow. If that won't put you in a jolly, seasonal mood, nothing will, huh? "New Toy," written by Thomas Dolby, is splendid, outré new wave. Target needs to give their advertising agency really big Christmas bonuses - not only is this ad great, but their TV campaign really hasn't missed its mark in some two years.

One of my all-time favorite Christmas songs isn't actually about Christmas at all, but was released as a Christmas single back in '84. It's Wham!'s "Last Christmas," which was a double a-side with "Everything She Wants," and was only kept from being the UK's Christmas number one by the then-fastest-selling single of all time, Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas." Wham! had to settle for five weeks in the runner-up position with this, a gorgeous, lushly produced record about a painful breakup. Nothing whatsoever to do with the holiday, but because of its title (and its sleigh bells, natch), it gets played every December like clockwork. And that's a good thing, mind. As a bonus (it's the holidays!), I'm also offering a cover of "Last Christmas" this week by Jimmy Eat World. This 2001 recording shows them in a much more poppy mindset than much of their oeuvre; that's a good thing, too.

And yes, of course I'm working on a C700 Go! Christmas mix, with some really fun rarities included. I'll let y'all know when it's done.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Odds & ends:

Whoa! Not only is Ang Lee set to direct the film adaptation of E. Annie Proulx's astounding short story "Brokeback Mountain" (that's a link to the entire story, which you really should read, about a pair of Wyoming cowboys who fall in love in 1961), but now comes word from Obliquity (just added to the blogroll) that Joaquin Phoenix is in talks to star.'s Chet Flippo has some thoughts on the RIAA's hiring of the newly-retired director of the ATF to run their anti-piracy unit in this week's "Nashville Skyline" (best line: "What's next: jackbooted agents kicking down your door in the middle of the night and seizing your hard drive?" If they thought they could get away with it...).

The Lord of the Rings: The Musical? Be afraid, be very afraid.

For just 3 stamps and a blank CD-R, you too can be the proud owner of a copy of Nate Patrin's C700 Go!: 1982. I'd highly recommend it. I'm working on a similar disc, but I'm not there just yet.

What a day of superb marquee matchups in the world of college hoops! First, we had #25 Louisville taking down #1 Florida 73-65, the second time the Gators have lost since taking over the top spot in the polls. Impressively, for the second consecutive game, Rick Pitino's squad was led by Francisco Garcia, whose brother was shot to death on Tuesday in NYC. Oh, you want more? Then how about #18 Gonzaga toppling #4 Missouri in OT, 87-80 in the Battle in Seattle? This was an incredible game, everything you want in a contest between two high-tier teams. You could tell, just watching the game on TV, that the atmosphere was electric. But nothing compared to that at Ford Field, where a world-record crowd of over 78,000 saw #2 Kentucky beat #20 Michigan State 79-74. Obviously, this means the 'Kats will ascend to the throne in the polls... but what do you do with a 3-4 Spartan team? They've played four-count-'em-four top 25 teams in the last 3 weeks, but have lost to all four opponents. All I know is that Tom Izzo's going to have his boys ready for March, just watch. Still not enough? Well, there's #10 Georgia Tech, now 8-0 and ready to shake things up in the ACC after beating a dangerous St. Louis team (just ask Lute Olson) today, 75-62. And speaking of the 'Zona coach, his #9 Wildcats were in trouble at home in the first half, but pulled out a hard-fought win over #21 Marquette 85-75 - this coming on the heels of their big victory over #6 Texas on Tuesday. Coming up yet tonight, one more to watch, as a depleted Illinois squad, embarassed by Providence in the Jimmy V Classic this week (which has some questioning this team's "fight") hosts dangerous Memphis. It's the most wonderful time of the year... until March, at least.

There's something inherently wrong about the fact that this came to me via him and her... but in the spirit of holiday giving, this is too good not to share.

My occasional blogstalking continued apace last night, when I decided to track down a number for and then cold-call Geoffrey; I'm incredibly glad I did so. We bobbed and weaved around an array of topics, from the sadness of gay "life" (or should that be "gay life"?) in Pat Robertson's backyard to the deepest of deep house (go figure). The pleasure was all mine, Mr. Schramm. The next time I'm in town, we're most definitely going to Club Red - and the first round's on me.

Friday, December 12, 2003

I am a music geek, yes. Call this an "odds & ends" post if it makes you feel better...

Sasha Frere-Jones is spot-on even when I disagree with him. Especially spot-on? An mp3 he just posted of his instrumental funk track "Landslide" (no, not that one), and his review of Sting's autobio Broken Music from the Washington Post.

Speaking of mp3s (and music geeks), Matthew's been getting hella traffic this week, after posting one of the new LCD Soundsystem single, "Yeah (Stupid Version)" - which the music geek cognoscenti have been going beserk about over here. It's good, of course. It is not, however, superior to "Losing My Edge." God bless him, Mr. Perpetua also gives us a great song sequel this week, in the form of "Ice Cream Part 2" by Raekwon featuring Method Man and Cappadonna. It's fucking great. I certainly hope this augurs well for Raekwon's forthcoming The Lex Diamond Story; he and Ghostface Killah have always been my favorite Wu-bangers. And one more from Matthew: The Onion's Least Essential Albums of 2003. Hi-fucking-larious.

Why does everyone seem to hate on Room 5? Their (UK #1) uber-smash from earlier this year, "Make Luv," is a mighty nice piece of simple, love-filled pop-house, kinda akin to Junior Senior w/o all the cheek. Featured vocalist Oliver Cheatham is the poor man's Alexander O'Neal. [It's likely to make my year-end C700 Go! comp, though not my top 50 singles.] The too-long-in-the-waiting followup, "Music & You" (and by too-long-etc., I mean that it barely limped into the UK Top 40 at #38 a couple weeks back) cleaves to a similar template, only ripping off the Chaka Khan "Fate" guitar riff which propelled Stardust to such immutable greatness, and comes across as a desexualized Alcazar to my ears. Which is, perhaps, its problem? I mean, their mighty Chic-sampling ("My Forbidden Lover," no less! Have you heard this?) "Sexual Guarantee" is a goes-down-easy (read that both ways) monster, and a solid lock for my '03 top 50, trust. Room 5 are alright, they just don't seem to try hard enough.

Why wasn't Elephant Man's "Pon De River Pon De Bank" an international smasheroo the way Sean Paul's "Get Busy" was? Well, besides the fact that Elephant Man's clearly 'ardcore dancehall to Sean Paul's Shaggy-cum-Shabba Ranks-dom. Oh, that's the answer, innit? Where "Get Busy" made me nod my head (but damn if that single doesn't have a killing burn factor), "Pon De River" makes me wanna holler, and hear another three albums' worth of his material.

If 1991 was The Year Punk Broke, obviously 2003 will go down as The Year Crunk Broke. So why all the mad love for bottom-feeders like Lil' Jon and the Eastside Boyz (Lil' Jon 2003 = Luther Campbell 1989) and Ying Yang Twins (the Insane Clown Posse of the genre?!), when the marvelous Field Mob get so unfairly ignored? "Sick of Being Lonely" is one of the year's premiere dirty south singles, mixing great squishy production (Jazze Pha, the red-headed stepchild of hiphop '03, take a bow), a creamily-femme-voxed chorus, and the bizarro no-teeth-thief raps of Boondox and Kalage. There's also a mix adding a fine verse from southern queen supreme Trina, who makes everything better - even records like this, which don't need the boost. Another body-rockin' dirty south record which shoulda been #1 for months? Trina's own "B R Right," featuring king Ludacris. Would someone please lock that dynamic duo in the studio and make them cut a collaborative full-length? Please?! Oh, and don't forget what might well be - aw, fuck it, it is and ya know it - the most gleefully great XXX record of the year, Luda's "P-[ussy]Poppin'" featuring Shawnna and Lil' Fate: "your lips downtown just made some familiar faces" indeed!

For a much more personal musical reminiscence, don't miss Joe's recollection of a late-night drive with The Queen Is Dead.

Yes, their cover of "You Make Me Feel Brand New" is pure excrement. But try as I might, I'm incapable of hating Simply Red's mondo AC hit "Sunrise," and in fact have a secret catch-me-in-the-right-mood love for it. And it's not even the Hall & Oates-jacking (of "I Can't Go For That"); it's the sheer sunlight of the chorus. I mean, love really is "indescribable," isn't it? But boy oh boy, Mick Hucknall's voice has not aged particularly well.

I've used countless search engines, including combing through 100+ results on Google, but have found absolutely nothing, so I'm putting a call for help out here. Does anyone have, or can anyone find, the lyrics to Carly Simon's "Why"? Please, please, somebody help! [Oddly, her official site doesn't have any lyrics.] As regular visitors are fully aware, this song is my truest not-released-in-2003 musical obsession of 2003, and along those lines, I'm going to take a page from Marcello Carlin's book and make origami out of it this year. Alongside my singles and albums lists, my year-end wrap will include a separate compendium of reissues, comps, and songs I re/discovered in '03 - headed, obviously enough, by Ms. Simon's genius move. Perhaps the only year-end list on which you'll find both Mariah and the Chemicals, as well.

My 2003 listmania probably won't come until the first of the year, BTW, to ensure I make room for the latebreakers (like Floetry's "Say Yes," unknown to me two months ago, now almost a shoo-in for my top 10 singles) and late releases (cf. Jay-Z's The Black Album - maybe).

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

I'm still among the living, but not the living well. Switched from Nyquil to Robitussin as I really need to get into work tomorrow - I hate missing days unscheduled like this; fortunately, I don't believe I had anything utterly urgent-slash-pressing to take care of. Not only did it feel this a.m. as if someone'd taken a razor blade to my throat, but I've been running a low-grade fever all day, and - well, you don't care about the rest of my cold symptoms, so there's no need to go into them, is there? May post a little bit tonight, depending on if my energy level stays decent.

Do need to let you know that both Messrs. Geoffrey and Todd have moved; please make a note of it.

Also need to let you know that I saw Love, Actually Monday night (before my health went even further along the road to Hell) with the Gentleman I've Been Seeing (who will henceforth be referred to as GIBS for short; I've decided to attempt to keep more of my private life just that - I mean, this isn't a dating blog, is it?). He found it overlong and boring, while I thought it was a perfectly lovely British romcom (that's romantic comedy for the uninitiated). Hugh Grant was a perfect choice - the only one, really - to play the Prime Minister, and the entire cast was splendid. A fine, Christmas-y movie.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Ick. Came down with the flu last night - or at least a nasty cold, I dunno which (how much of a difference is there?), which I'm assuming came from the gentleman I've been seeing lately (he owned up to the possibility himself). Not at work. Throat feels shredded. Dozing and taking cold meds (I "heart" Nyquil!). Hoping to feel better so I can get back to work tomorrow. And the worst part? Missing a day of work when the boss is out of the office.

At least whilst my body feels like poo, my heart and mind are gladdened by the news of the Gore endorsement of Gov. Dean for president. This is huge. Huge! Yay, queen!

Monday, December 08, 2003

PADDLE: You have a very strong personality that
often overwhelms your sexual partners. You like
to be in control of everything, but you usually
have a taste for fun as well. You love the
sight of a good ass.

What kinky [sex] toy are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Thank you, Scott, for posting this marvelous piece of thinking & writing about gays and tolerance, which I highly recommend everyone - especially, but not limited to, my fellow queers - read.

This is Boysterous. They were supposed to be the UK's hot new boyband, but apparently they've already split up, following the release (and underwhelming #53 chart placing) of their first single, "Up & Down." I actually find it to be a decent, if somewhat bland, cheery pop record. But what you really must see is the song's video. [Broadband or 56K, take your pick.] It's so jaw-droppingly good/bad (mostly the latter) that I'm, well, at a loss for words (and we all know that's not a frequent occurence). I'll let the sterling words of Mr. Popjustice take over from here:

"As the video ends, the band are cornered by fans and with a cry of "GERREM OFF!" the fans rip Boysterous' clothes to shreds. From the frenzy the band emerge, now clad only in their boxer shorts [boxerbriefs, actually - Yankee ed.] ... and run down the street. What follows is breathtaking. Should, through some bizarre rift in the fabric of celebrity, any member of this band ever become famous, the shots of Boysterous running towards the camera in their underwear will haunt them forever. Especially the one who's wearing white underwear. Seriously, viewers, the whole lot's on show - 'Up And Down' doesn't even begin to describe it."

Shame about those rooster haircuts, though.

Odds & ends, pending Blogger not getting all fuckish again (as it has been most of today):

Albums I neglected to mention in this post:
Radiohead, Hail to the Thief - unjustly short-shrifted and ignored, always fascinating. Maybe Kid B+?
OutKast, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below - a true grower, though not 100%. And it's true; Andre 3000's disc wallops Big Boi's.
Fleetwood Mac, Say You Will - too much MOR pop material, but also shows Buckingham flying his freak flag for the first time in far too long. "Come" is his 21st century rewrite of "Tusk" (sans The USC Marching Trojans) and is just as fine.

Peyton Manning? Check. Edgerrin James? Check. Mike Vanderjagt? Check. Colts back atop the AFC South? Check! I'm sorry, Paul, but someone's gotta lose. And twice this season it's been your Titans to my Colts. *Sniff.* His exact words, I believe, postgame: "We've got the wild card locked!" [Seriously, I watched a good 1/3 of this game while on the phone with Mr. Cox, which is always a pleasure. And for those wondering, his blog is back. Kinda-sorta.]

BCS controversy, yay! Not that it'll ever get us a friggin' D-I college football playoff, grumble grumble...

Angels in America tonight on HBO. So very excited.

Based on what I've heard so far of Alicia Keys's The Diary of Alicia Keys - about half of the album - my snap-judgement verdict is: good, not great. Much akin to Songs In A Minor. But boy, "You Don't Know My Name" is a motherfucker of a single. And "Heartburn" is kinda an old-soul live band-sounding take on early '80s R&B, very tasty.

VH-1's "Big in 2003" "awards" show has got to be one of the lamest such things ever. I spent a little time this evening flipping between that and the Pats-Dolphins game, thinking it had to improve. Apart from OutKast's performance, however, no, it didn't. Please God, let them tour in 2004. I saw 'em on the Stankonia tour a couple years back, and they (and their live band) were mind-blowing. I can only imagine how much further their future shit has progressed, live, now.

Actually watched the first 1/2 hour or so of Saturday Night Live last night, with Rev. Al Sharpton hosting. He was, in a word, hilarious. The "Michael Jackson on a rollercoaster" skit, with Sharpton as Johnnie Cochran, was priceless. And no, I most certainly did not stay tuned for fucking Pink.

I really need to get my driver's license. Well, and a car, but the license comes first.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Oh good God. While I'm (somewhat) morally opposed to recommending not one but two Ashanti tracks in the space of - well, any amount of time, really - I just fell upon the Jay Hannan Lazy Dog Remix of "Rock With U (Awww Baby)," and it is predictably divine. Hannan shows off, perhaps better than I've ever heard him do on a remix, why he's one of Ben Watt's partners in crime, on this discofunkdeephouse wet kiss of a record. Some funky chicken-scratch wah-wah guitar and a gorgeously deep-as-fuck bassline contribute to making this, unquestionably, one of the remixes of '03. Hannan's remix is available on the 1st UK single - which Amazon has for your convenience and music-loving pleasure. As do I, as one of this week's downloads.

The other is the current Brooks & Dunn single, "You Can't Take the Honky Tonk Out of the Girl," currently #8 and climbing on Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart. AMG's Stephen Thomas Erlewine calls it a "Keith Richards homage" - and you know, he's kinda right. It's got a real "Honky Tonk Woman"/"Brown Sugar" feel to it, spiced with a bit of southern rock a la ZZ Top, rollicking down the road with a horn section, some great female backup singers, and a honkin' tonkin' sax. B&D, in their second decade as a duo, keep progressing and impressing me as songwriters and artists.

Fuuuuuuuck! Listen to the track Andre 3000 did for Kelis's new record - it's titled "Millionaire," and for another couple days you can download it from Fluxblog - and tell me that Andre isn't totally on a Princelike genius tip right now. If you don't get it, follow "Millionaire" up with the Purple One's "Annie Christian," from 1981's Controversy. Then, give Andre's "She Lives In My Lap" (from OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below) a spin, immediately followed by Sign "O" the Times' "The Ballad of Dorothy Parker." Andre 3000's Prince love is like whoa - but it's not just the clear musical influence, it's his risk-taking, and obvious shocking abilities as well. And as if my OutKast jock-riding wasn't already far gone enough, it turns out Andre "wish[es he] would have written" The Smiths' "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me." GodIlovethisbandmoreandmore. You know what's surprising? I expected Speakerboxxx/The Love Below to knock me out immediately, and it didn't, so I made the mistake of writing it off as "good, but no Stankonia." Oops. Would you believe it's a grower? Do.

So the other night, I was at a Long John Silver's in Newport News, VA, and what I heard on the in-store music feed was truly shocking: Eric B. & Rakim. "Microphone Fiend." In a friggin' Long John Silver's!?! Followed by the P. Diddy remix of Janet's "Son of a Gun" and, I kid you not, Chingy. I was so freaked out - delighted, but freaked out nonetheless - I couldn't even finish my "Fish 'n More" combo.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

As if I needed more reason to respect Matthew, today he calls John Mayer a "turbodouche." Which, of course, Mayer-most-pretentious most certainly is, but it's still nice to hear someone say it aloud.

Black Eyed Peas will henceforth be referred to at Oh, Manchester as Black Eyed "Fuckin' A, they're Arrested Development only not as good, and that's saying something" Peas, also known as Black Eyed Arrested Development, or BEAR for short. Please make a note of it. "Where Is the Love" is a likely "winner" of my Worst Single of '03 designation. Yeah, there were truly worse - 3 Doors Down's wretched "When I'm Gone" and anything by Evanescence come to mind, and the less said about Darryl Worley's "Have You Forgotten I Let Bush and Cheney Come In My Mouth?" the better (he wins this year's Lee Greenwood "You'll Always Have a Job at Republican Get-Togethers" Award) - but the reason BEAR may take it is 'cause we had reason to believe that the single might've been good. A middling faux-indie-rap group working with Justin? Hmm, sounds potentially interesting. Apparently, the key word in that sentence was "potentially." "Where Is the Love" is so unequivocably vile - and overplayed - as to make one wonder what J-Tim was thinking-slash-getting-paid.

Speaking of Grammys, it's a fuckin' crime that Geto Boys never won one for "Mind Playing Tricks On Me" (from 1991's We Can't be Stopped, with its gruesome hospital cover shot of Bushwick Bill, post-having-had-his-eye-shot), the greatest hip-hop record of the last 13 years. Since Public Enemy's 1-2 '88/'89 punch of "Bring the Noise" and "Fight the Power," there's been no such single finer.

My all-time top 10 hip-hop singles:

1. Public Enemy, "Bring the Noise"
2. Public Enemy, "Fight the Power"
3. Geto Boys, "Mind Playing Tricks On Me"
4. Missy Elliott, "Work It"
5. Craig Mack featuring the Notorious B.I.G., Busta Rhymes, Rampage, and L.L. Cool J, "Flava In Ya Ear (The Bad Boy Remix)"
6. Puff Daddy and the Family featuring the Notorious B.I.G., Lil' Kim, and the LOX, "It's All About the Benjamins (Remix)"
7. A Tribe Called Quest, "Jazz (We've Got)"
8. Missy Elliott, "Get Ur Freak On"
9. Method Man featuring Mary J. Blige, "I'll Be There For You/You're All I Need To Get By (Puff Daddy Remix)"
10. Redman, "Funkorama"

The Grammy nominations have been announced, and to be honest, I don't find a ton of surprises at the top. First of all, here's an email I dashed off to Stumpy immediately upon hearing the noms in the "Big 4" categories (Record, Song, Album, and New Artist):

All I've seen so far is the Big 4. Very interesting.

I told you Stripes would be in album - but
Evanescence?! And Missy's LAST album, while not
nomming "Work It" [for Record]?? OutKast are gonna take this,
unless they shock us all and go with J-Tim.

V. surprised that Beyoncé & J-Tim weren't nommed in
New Artist. And, um, Fountains of Wayne? Guess "Stacy"
was just hitting as voters filled out their ballots.
Heather Headley's a typical outta-nowhere R&B nod (I
know her stuff, actually, and she's good - but what?
Guess I should be glad it's not Jason Mraz. On the
other hand, I'd at least like to fuck him). 50 wins
this easily.

Stunned by the almost total lack of overlap between
Record and Song (only "Lose Yourself" in both). "I'm
With You"? Gag. Not surprised by "Beautiful" or "Dance
with my Father" at all. And, um, "we're sorry you're
dead WARREN ZEVON"?!?! It's gonna be tight between the
XTina and Luther songs. [Unless they give it to the
Oscar-winner, which wouldn't stun me.]

Record: apart from those fucking BEP, can't complain
too much, though I'm surprised "Hurt" was left out,
and "In Da Club." Whatcha wanna bet J-Tim split his
votes here, too? You think OutKast win Album AND
Record, or is the Beyonce too undeniable?

Producer [of the Year] is interesting. Someone actually remembered to nominate the Neptunes this year, and their body of work is undeniable (S=single, A=album, T=track; the artists are in parentheses):
• Beautiful (Snoop Dogg Featuring Pharrell & Uncle Charlie Wilson) (S)
• Come Close (Common Featuring Mary J. Blige) (T)
• Excuse Me Miss (Jay-Z) (S)
• Frontin' (The Neptunes Featuring Pharrell Williams & Jay-Z) (S)
• Justified (Justin Timberlake) (A)
• Luv U Better (LL Cool J Featuring Marc Dorsey) (T)
• The Neptunes Present...Clones (The Neptunes Featuring Various Artists) (A)
• Rock Your Body (Justin Timberlake) (T)
Also nommed were OutKast for producing their own and Killer Mike's albums, Nigel Godrich for Radiohead, The Matrix for Liz Phair and Hilary Duff and friggin' Lillix (did Maddy pay someone off?), and inexplicably - they never won in the '80s, when they should've, but now seem to be nommed every year - Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, who apparently produced Heather Headley's single, The Fighting Temptations soundtrack, and some Mya tracks you've never heard. Barring a complete OutKast sweep, I'll be absolutely stunned if Chad & Hugo don't take this. Won't you?

More shortly.

Odds & ends:

The RIAA has some holiday presents to hand out, in the form of 41 more subpoenas. What a bunch of "we will crush you, teenage Britney fan" pigfuckers. I'm all for supporting artists. However, Clive Davis does not need any more of my (or anyone else's) money, and that's who's getting it when I buy CDs. The RIAA doesn't work for artists; Cary Sherman licks corporate ass. There'll be a special place for him in Hades, I trust.

I just noticed last month that Kim Gordon says "say it, don't spray it" in the intro to Sonic Youth's "Teenage Riot." Lovely.

The big event of my day is the impending announcement (in about an hour; it's 830am Pacific time, not Eastern) of this year's Grammy nominees. I've got high hopes for OutKast, J-Tim, and Beyoncé. And that they finally fucking nominate the Neptunes for Producer of the Year. They've only owned pop music (in its broadest sense) for, what, 3 years now? [Of course I'll be posting about the nods later today - as if you had to ask?]

The Big Ten went a dismal 2-7 in this year's ACC/Big Ten Challenge. One of the 2, however, was Purdue, who proved that their Great Alaska Shootout championship was no fluke in topping Clemson 76-64. Hail, hail, old Purdue; we're 5-0 for the first time in 6 years.

Memo to Eminem: Some of your productions are pretty good, but sampling the friggin' Edgar Winter Group to craft a "new" 2Pac/Biggie track ("Runnin'") is not necessarily a good idea. Actually, it's a terrible one. I can't be the only 2Pac fan tired of the endless stream of posthumous records, can I?

"Hardcore music, electric revival."
In-fucking-deed. As solid as much of Speakerboxxx/The Love Below is, and as much as I love their double-barrel singles attack with "Hey Ya!" and "The Way You Move," I still attest that it's indisputable that OutKast haven't yet topped - and may never top - "B.O.B.," from 2000's Stankonia. This is the sound of Underground Resistance meeting up with P-Funk in a space-age down-south juke joint. This is the future shit, still, even 3 years on. This makes my skull a convertible every time I hear it. This makes a fierce argument for Andre 3000 and Big Boi as some of the most forward-thinkers in music this side of Prince. This ain't the remix. This don't need a remix. This is the widescreen now.

Addendum: Not only have OutKast just ascended to the Billboard Hot 100 throne this week with "Hey Ya!" (up 2-1), with "The Way You Move" hot on its tail (up 4-3), they've got two separate songs both rising in the top 3. The word "unstoppable" comes to mind.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

I know it's really, really stereotypically gay to say so - and it is one of the ultimate drag queen songs - but you can't deny that Diana Ross's "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" is an utterly majestic record. Its lyrics, penned by Ashford & Simpson, are the ultimate in devotional. Musically, it's one of the Motown house band's finest performance, all ebb-and-flow, building to a glorious climax. And then there's Diana, still sounding pure and clear as a clarion bell. Perfection.

You're Avant Garde Indie. You listen to abstract
music like free-jazz and Krautrock. You drink
too much coffee and you scare the fuck out of
the rest of us. We're afraid to call you
pretentious because we know that we all just
don't get it. There are few of you out there,
and most of you will probably die soon.

You Know Yer Indie. Let's Sub-Categorize.
brought to you by Quizilla

How many times over the years does Keef have to prove, definitively, that he's infinitely more rock'n'roll than Mick, before the world recognizes it? [Of course, the beauty is that Keith doesn't give a fuck.] If there was ever any question, it was answered definitively in 1988, when Keith Richards released his first solo record, Talk Is Cheap. A rollicking blend of rock, soul, bar-room blues and Keef's traditionally ripping leads, this is soaked in 190-proof soul (the Memphis Horns, Sarah Dash, Ivan Neville, Maceo Parker, Bootsy Collins, and a myriad of others guest) and sounds so much more essentially real than anything Mr. Jagger's ever done on his own. "Take It So Hard" rocks and rolls like few Stones songs have in the time since.

Odds & ends:

Unlike Jerry, I rather liked Jordy's 1992 single "Dur Dur d'être Bébé!" I found it cute, and frankly, hilarious, to hear this 4-year-old French kid singing and, even better, rapping. And it actually made it up to #58 on the Billboard Hot 100, which is downright bizarre. What I don't understand, however, is why anyone would pay $22 for his long out of print debut album. $22?!

I know, I promised my take on Tracks by now. [I'm writing it for Rockcritics Daily.] It's coming, I promise. And I can tell you right now that the verdict's not particularly good.

Ha. One down, three (Clarkson, Aiken, and Studdard) to go.

I very unfortunately neglected to link to Johnny's amazing post last week about his Mom's cousin, gay lines in family trees, and being there for people. I implore you to read this, one of the best pieces of writing the blogworld has seen in 2003.

Five best debut albums of all time, off the top of my head, in order:
+Guns N' Roses, Appetite for Destruction
+Jay-Z, Reasonable Doubt
+The Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground and Nico
+The Smiths, The Smiths
+The Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bollocks Here's The Sex Pistols/N.W.A., Straight Outta Compton (dueling atom bombs, tied)

I love the smell of Downy.

Al Green's new album, I Can't Stop, isn't a triumph. But its title track is, a slab of '74 Willie Mitchell production that sounds so retro it could only have been made today.

Last month I made myself a 700MB CD simply titled rock!. Here's a random ten.

Lou Reed, "The Original Wrapper": This and "I Love You Suzanne" were the first songs of Lou's I knew I knew (I may have heard "Walk on the Wild Side" by this time, '84, but can't be certain). Most consider the early-to-mid-'80s Lou's nadir, but I think that's an unfair summation. Some of the songs on Mistrial - and yes, this was the album he put out circa his Honda scooter ad - are as strong as much of his catalog. Their being cloaked in some of the most blatant pop production of Lou's career likely blinded more than a few folks to their solidity. This sure as hell wasn't VU. "Wrapper"'s an enjoyable trifle, Lou humorously rapping, no more, no less.

Korn, "Thoughtless": I stand by what I wrote of this in my '02 wrap, so I'll excerpt it here:
"Korn is a band I've always admired more than enjoyed; I understand what they're trying to do, and feel that they're honestly trying to push the parameters of the whole nu-rock school, but that they don't succeed as often as they think. "Thoughtless" certainly isn't some bold musical step forward; it's fairly standard Korn - but in this case, the music perfectly pairs up with its lyrics. And where this stands out is lyrically. While the whole Nickelback/Staind school sit and moan about how shitty their teen years were, Korn take a different tack on "Thoughtless," coming across almost more (Marilyn) Manson-like than anything else (think "The Fight Song"). ... When I was a teen, my soundtrack of alienation was the Smiths; were I a teen today, it might well be this. More valuable than the entire recorded output of the Strokes, this is a total triumph."

The Police, "Synchronicity II": Lest you forget, before der Stingle became the unctuous front-of-the-class teacher's pet/asshole we know him as today, he led one of the most downright vital bands of the past quarter-century. One of their best singles, the overlooked fourth single from Synchronicity reels around a fountain of dark memories and darker thoughts.

Whitesnake, "Still of the Night": Ridiculously over-the-top hair metal of the higest order which never fails to bring a smile. David Coverdale was the embodiment of David Lee Roth as a "mature" adult (which he's still never become, but that's another matter entirely), wearing suits yet still so, so deliciously smarmy (two words, actually only one's needed: Tawny).Two things about this track still get me: the 'Snake's use of atmospherics in the song's bridge, and the way they played their guitars with violin bows. Absurd, in a good way. And then at the 3:55 mark, it all goes triple-guitar-attack and sends you to rock'n'roll heaven. Or hell.

The Cult, "Love Removal Machine": Perhaps it's Darwin working in the way Ian Astbury, Billy Duffy and company morphed from psych-rock merchants to a hard, hard rock band, equal parts Zep and Doors. And perhaps it's just unfortunate. This was midway through their transformation; you make the Beach MTV call.

Jane Child, "Don't Wanna Fall In Love": If Chuck Eddy can call Teena Marie "metal," I can call the girl with the metal nose ring (and accompanying chain connecting it to her earring) "rock." One of my favorite one-hit wonders of all time, Child worked heavy, heavy synths into popcraft arrangements with sometimes obtuse, sometimes all-too-sharp lyrics to fine effect. Her Welcome to the Real World debut was solid from start to finish, but this was always clearly the money shot. Where is she now, I wonder?

Skid Row, "Monkey Business": I vividly remember seeing the world premiere of this vid on Headbangers Ball and being stunned: When did Skid Row become a real metal band, I queried? Right here. Their soph effort, Slave to the Grind, stripped them of their pop fluff and left a surprisingly lean, muscular attack to back up Sebastian Bach's vocal histrionics and pomp. From a most unlikely source, one of the early '90s finest (shoulda-been) metal anthems.

Rush, "The Big Money": One of these days, I'm going to finish and post my essay and why I love '80s - not '70s - Rush. The ultimate Canuck power trio dropped some of the prog and added synths in the Reagan years, and pulled it off, drastically improving their songwriting in the process. I'll always love Grace Under Pressure, but '85's Power Windows (from which this is taken) might be their best full-length. The fact that much of it seems a showcase for drummer Neil Peart is, I think, unaccidental. [And on a barely-related note, I always thought the kid on the album cover looked like Anthony Michael Hall.]

Queen, "Hammer To Fall": Like with pizza or The Simpsons (as long as they weren't surrendering to Freddie's balladeering tendencies), even bad Queen was better than most other bands. This isn't bad, just unexceptional, but I'm a sucker for Brian May's slashing quitar licks here. So tasty.

Def Leppard, "Pour Some Sugar On Me": Fucking blinding, period. This is the "Video Version," the one with the chopped-and-spliced "love me like a bomb-b-bomb-b-bomb" intro, and is so easily the defining, crowning moment from the kings of Sheffield, from their white-hot peak with Hysteria. Everything gels here: the guitar attack, Joe Elliot's salacious vocals, Rick Allen's one-armed drumming (which actually sounds better than his two-armed drumming on Pyromania - that's a compliment, as his then-newly-fitted drum set sounded so great), and most of all, the lyrics, especially one of the decade finest couplets: "You've got the peaches/I've got the cream." Do you take sugar?

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

What a lovely day this has been. I received a very unexpected email from Matt, noonish, stating that he was in town being "touristy," and to call him if I wanted. Which, of course, I did, seeing as how Matt and I keep coming close to meeting but keep missing each other. So we finally met, had lunch, and did "touristy" things (oceanfront, bayfront, battleship, - I took some sick time from work) and talked. And talked. Matt's just as charming as I expected he'd be (quite so), and just as interesting as his blog would imply, as well. Cheers, Mr. O'Neill. The pleasure was mine.


Monday, December 01, 2003

I'm practically bouncing around my room, rocking out to Electric Six's "Dance Commander" and feeling so damned giddy my head almost hurts. It's been too long since I've felt like this. Woo HOO!

I'll never forget the first time I knew that I knew someone who was HIV+. It was a little over two years ago, and I was on a first date with a friend of a friend, whom I'll call A. I don't remember how the topic came up, but I was telling A that to my knowledge, I'd never known anyone HIV+ or with full-blown AIDS, and how that made me feel somehow like anathema amongst gay men (I was almost 31 at the time). Less than 5 minutes later, A told me that he was HIV+. I felt like a fool, but he told me not to – how could I have known? We ended up dating for three months, and parted romantic ways quite amicably. A's still a friend, and his health is great, thank God.

What I didn't expect, however, was how it affected our sex life. A later admitted to me that part of the reason we only had sex so often/much was because he was worried about his HIV status, and how it could impact me. Interestingly, I had far fewer reservations than he about being involved sexually, because his being poz (and being upfront about it), I felt, made things easier. We knew right away what we could and couldn't do, and that, I felt, was that. But I think that there was always a nagging worry in the back of A's mind, something along the hypothetical lines of tiny oral cuts and microscopic abrasions. For the record, though, he was really good in bed.

Through him I met another (now-)friend, B, who's been diagnosed as poz for 15 years, and thinks he was infected 18 years ago. He's always been very hale and hearty, a veritable mountain man (he's, in fact, from the mountains of western VA), so it came as quite a shock when he came down with pneumocystis carinii earlier this year. In less than a month, B lost 25 pounds, and went from hearty to, well, not hearty (it didn't help that his head was shaved, giving him a profound concentration camp look). I was shaken by B's appearance and by what his partner said about his hospitalization, in part because he just seemed so not-well. His health has since rebounded nicely, but I still consider what might happen. I still remember when I first met C (via A), shortly after an extended hospitalization. C used to be quite the bear, and even made bear porn for a time. When I met him, however, his weight had dropped by nearly half, he walked with a cane, and could barely construct basic sentences. There, right in my face - not on television or in a film - was the reality of AIDS.

I think the biggest reason that HIV infection rates are rising again amongst gay men in the U.S. is, perversely, in part because of successes we've had against the epidemic. When you see ads in magazines such as The Advocate touting how healthy and vibrant you can be with HIV (thanks to new meds), that's not scary. That might even make you think, "well, it's a liveable condition, like diabetes." It's not. Ask A just how much he enjoys taking at least 23 pills per day just to maintain a status quo. Honestly, Larry Kramer (as he so often does) has got it right: we need to start scaring people again. AIDS is not just another "condition." There's still no cure. At this point, if you become infected with HIV, chances are, you will die from it. Thank God for people like GeekSlut, who aren't afraid to talk about the nasty realities of living with AIDS. Listen. And learn. And tell Bush that preaching abstinence won't prevent the spread of HIV. Remember, Silence = Death, still.

To the best of my knowledge, there are no large-scale events scheduled today in Norfolk for World AIDS Day, so I'm lighting a candle and putting it in my window tonight to remember. I encourage you to do the same. The fight is not over.

Lyric of the day:
"Feeling nauseous? That's my rhyme in you."
- Redman, "Funkorama" (Insomnia: The Erick Sermon Compilation, Interscope, 1996)

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