Monday, December 31, 2007

Book Project: Generation X

In 2007 I set out to read a book each month recommended by someone whose literary tastes I admire, and then sit down and discuss the book over his/her beverage of choice. These are the results.

Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture
By Douglas Coupland
Read: January 2007

The first book I read in 2007, Douglas Coupland's Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, turned out to be the worst book I’d read in 15 years, and possibly ever, and it nearly derailed my whole ridiculous Book Project. My ex-girlfriend* (henceforth to be known as “Fran,” not her real name) recommended Generation X and then declined to participate in any discussion because her Rules-reading girlfriends convinced her that this project was just an elaborate ruse to rekindle our relationship. Sigh.

Rather than give up and throw in the towel, I continued reading and cobbled together this review from two e-mails Fran sent when she recommended the book.

This wasn’t the first time a friend recommended I read Coupland. In college I picked up Girlfriend in a Coma and thought it depressing and shallow, but I was open-minded enough to give Coupland a second chance, partly because when I mentioned that I wasn’t keen on what I had read in the past, Fran wrote, “Not sure I would have been mature (jaded) enough for GenX in college… find it excellent now, though…” The ellipses are hers, nothing has been excised. Fran overuses ellipses the way Coupland overuses italics. He emphasizes everything in Generation X.

Suddenly my book project had become an opportunity to measure my growth as a person since college. Perhaps I wasn’t jaded enough in college to appreciate the ennui of Coupland’s writing. I had read and enjoyed The Stranger, Crime and Punishment, and On the Road in high school, all of which explore existential issues, but maybe those classics were more accessible and less mature than Generation X.

Girlfriend covered some of the same themes (giving up, living in the suburbs, accepting mediocrity, choosing comfort over striving for goals) as Generation X, and I suspect a lot of Coupland’s books recycle the same ideas of self pitying inactivism (ask me if you need a definition) and post-college ennui. In chapter 5 of Girlfriend, Coupland writes, “At what point in our lives do we stop blurring? When do we become crisp individuals? What must we do in order to end these fuzzy identities—to clarify just who it is we really are?” Boo hoo. The shallow character doesn’t have an identity. Even in college it seemed to me that most people who define and clarify themselves end up settling for less than what they could achieve (as opposed to those who never clarify themselves and keep striving). Clarified people are boring. They’ve stopped looking, stopped living. Crispy individuals think adventure is trying the new entrees at Chili’s. Personally, I hope I never stop “blurring,” seeking new experiences, and declining the baby-back ribs.

Am I missing the satire? Are these characters intentionally bland to skewer slackers? Does it matter? It is as if Coupland created them solely to help the reader feel better about the lack of ambition, adventure, and accomplishment in his/her boring life. Misery loves company, so to speak. If you’re looking for a book to make you feel better about your own failings, this is it. Champions of Generation X claim it accurately reflects the prevailing mindset of the X generation. To which I respond, it only mirrors the chronically boring whiners.

Contrast the losers in Generation X with the miscreants dreamed up by Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting, The Acid House, Ecstasy) and Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club, Choke). Palahniuk’s characters struggle against a society that doesn’t feel like their own; they don’t sit around sulking in the suburbs, lamenting their lot in life. Hell no! They get out there and carve a maladjusted, destructive, sleazy, base, and slightly demented niche for themselves. They’re getting busy living instead of getting busy dying, to paraphrase Bob Dylan. And that’s another thing. Palahniuk’s characters get bus-ay while Coupland’s characters are not sexy in the least. Overthinking leads the characters in Generation X to be unhappy and undersexed (to the point of asexuality). I don't know who Coupland modeled his characters on, but they don’t reflect the era I came of age in.

Fran writes, “In college, I was happy go lucky… now I know a bit more about the angst that the characters describe… I can appreciate it… and the jargon in the margins is hilarious.”

That’s “hilarious” without any Amy Sedaris-esque sarcastic inflection (hilarious). Hilarious? Coupland knows nothing of comedy. Something is only funny if you don’t (have to) explain the joke to the audience. Coupland defines terms he uses in the margins for dimbulbs who can’t decipher the meanings from the context of the writing. Perfect example from page 85: “I’ve got my own demons and I’d prefer not to have them trivialized by your Psych 101-isms.” Do you need a definition for “101-ism”? Well, Coupland thinks you do: “101-ism: The tendency to pick apart, often in minute detail, all aspects of life using half-understood pop psychology as a tool.” Was 101-ism really an unknown concept in 1991 when Generation X was published? And what exactly is so funny about that definition? Coupland commits another comedic fallacy; he repeats “jokes” multiple times in the book. One character describes himself time and time again as a lesbian trapped in a man’s body? C’mon. It wasn’t funny or original the first time. Now it’s a t-shirt slogan.

As much as I disliked this book, it wasn’t completely irredeemable. Something clicked around page 100 and I began to understand these lonely, frail, damaged people. They feel alone, which is very human, and their idea of telling stories (even self-indulgent, affected stories) as a way of searching for meaning in life is intriguing. Suddenly the promise of this being the worst book I’d read in 15 years started to wane. It was still the reigning champ, but its victory was no longer a knock-out, but a decision, and with 79 pages remaining even the decision was in jeopardy. I even stomached this hackneyed sentiment on page 129: “Nothing very very good and nothing very very bad ever lasts for very very long.” Bravo, Coupland, you managed to dumb down “This too shall pass.”

Then on page 147, the punch-drunk boxer righted himself from the ropes and rediscovered his ability to suck ass, and claimed the championship belt with this haymaker of shit:

“You see, when you’re middle class, you have to live with the fact that history will ignore you. You have to live with the fact that history can never champion your causes and that history will never feel sorry for you. It is the price that is paid for day-to-day comfort and silence. And because of this price, all happinesses are sterile; all sadnesses go unpitied.”

OMG. What a fucking douche. This passage sealed the book as the king of self-pitying writing.

Spoiler alert: From this point forward, the novel barrel rolls into an anti-climactic finale in which the narrator receives a loving, gentle beat-down by “a dozen or so mentally retarded young teenagers” (177). Again I say, what a douche. This is the kind of bullshit creationism someone who has never worked in the mental health field would invent. I worked with developmentally disabled adults for three and a half years, and the beatings I took were never gentle and the broken bones and bites that required a tetanus shot are evidence to that fact. No, the type of violence enacted upon me is best described in Retardation: A Celebration:

“And while they might not be as strong as apes, don’t lock eyes with them. Don’t do it. Puts them on edge. They might go into berserker mode, come at you like a whirling dervish-all fists and elbows. You might be screaming, ‘No! No! No!’-all they hear is ‘Who wants cake?’ Let me tell you something. They all do. They all want cake.”

Finally, I was insulted by the packaging and shitty copy editing of the novel. The editors didn’t run a spell check or Coupland forgot to define “husbnad" on page 153. Despite his character’s stance against shopping malls, Coupland’s true anti-environmental nature is revealed by the Gen X’s wasteful design. I’ve worked in publishing, and I recognize that authors do not have complete control over layout and design, but the deliberately wasted space in this book is pretentious. After all its griping about the evils of shopping malls, the packaging of Generation X is a shopping mall: big, bulky, square, with lots of unused space inside. Coupland eschews paragraph breaks on the first page of each chapter, choosing to use paragraph character marks instead. Why? Affectation. Perhaps my indignation over wasted paper is a symptom of what Coupland calls on page 127 “Paper Rabies: Hypersensitivity to littering.” Right, Dougie, we should just tolerate the jerks who come in from the suburbs to drop trash in the city.

Generation X is pop cynicism for the suburban mall reader (and the person who needs Cliffs Notes to explain written passages). A partial list of authors who better capture genuine angst includes the Beats (Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs), Charles Bukowski, and Henry Miller. Bret Easton Ellis did the whole jaded young people thing better, smarter, and earlier with Less Than Zero with one major difference: Ellis’s characters are rich while Coupland’s are impoverished (financially and developmentally).

As I read Generation X, I was reminded of the film Kicking and Screaming (not the one starring Will Ferrell). Again, like Less Than Zero, the characters in K&S are affluent, but their snarky conversations, wallowing, and post-college stagnation resemble the characters in Generation X. Spoiler alert: The Kicking and Screaming kids eventually get off their asses and do things with their lives.

In summation: On a 10-point scale with 0 being absolute shit and 10 being a masterpiece, I give Generation X a 1.5 for its factual inaccuracy, lack of redeeming characters, wasteful design, and overuse of italics.

*Fran recommended other, better books in the past, but this is the one she recommended in 2007. I can't discount that this recommendation may have originated from spite. The previous worst book I had read was Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

For Those About to Spank Rock

"My hip hop dick can bang like rock and roll."

City Paper's methodically compiled and scientifically formatted list of the Top 21 Albums of 2007 hit stands today. I put Okkervil River's The Stage Names at #1, but could've dropped Spank Rock and Bennie Blanco's EP in the top spot.

It’s rare when a tribute surpasses the original, but Bangers and Cash, a very obvious celebration of the raunchy lyrics and lifestyle of the 2 Live Crew, is superior to the rhymes it pays homage to. It does for dirty hip hop what Black Star did for old-school hip hop: proves that it is still relevant, mainly because it tempers the testosterone with a brilliant guest spot from Amanda Blank.

Warning: This video contains lewdness and breasts.


Sunday, December 09, 2007

Well, Turn It Up, Man!

Keep the volume down for the first 10 seconds, then turn it up for this jem:
"Remember the good old days? War, protests..." "Going to jail."
Not sure how The O'Jays made it on this compilation.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Lovin' the Elevator

Somehow I missed the fun of National Elevator Escalator Safety Awareness Week this year. I blame the rush to start Christmas early.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

2007 Book Project, R.I.P.

The 2007 Book Project is dead, long live the Book Project!

It was a noble pursuit, but my 2007 Book Project is going to fall short of its stated goal to each month read a book recommended by someone whose literary tastes I admire, and then sit down and discuss the book over his/her beverage of choice. Not a bad goal, and a nice way to get to know someone through their reading.

The 2007 Book Project began as an outgrowth of my 2006 goal of reading a book a month, which may not sound too difficult until you consider that me am Bizarro Speed Reader. The 13 books in 12 months I finished last year easily eclipsed the number of books read by a quarter of the American population.

Then I got cocky or inspired, depending on your point of view. Not content to rest on my laurels and repeat the same feat, I sought to enrich the goal by soliciting book recommendations from friends and colleagues. No one has time for a book club (and deciding on which book to read can be a disaster), so I decided to make it a book club of one (me) talking with the person about a book he/she loves. But if reading a book a month is a risky endeavor for me, the already shaky scenario was further complicated by the fact that a number of the participants on my list are ex-girlfriends. The chances for failure increased exponentially.

As it stands, I’m throwing in the towel 2 months early. The project will continue, but without the time constraint. I’m still soliciting recommendations, so if you have one, bury me with it!

In other book news, a recommender on my list clued me into GoodReads. The White Stripes (mass e-mail) invited me to compare my reading list with theirs at Shelfari. And at least 3 titles from my library are joining Book Crossing this month.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Sesame Street Runs Through Funkytown

Conclusive proof that the 70s were the funkiest decade ever.

Even our education had soul.


Monday, November 05, 2007

Phone Call for Mr. Morello

I was present at Bonnaroo for Tom Morello's guest spot with Tool, but somehow I missed the mid-song phone call at 2:09 of this video. At 3:30 Tom eats his guitar.

Tool banned photographers from shooting their set. Hooray You Tube! More shaky, blurry crowd video of Tool's stellar performance at Bonnaroo. "I smell patchouli!"

Love the Mohawk.


Sunday, November 04, 2007

Maybe They Can Hire Perry Mason

The "Rock 'N' Roll Rebel" is very upset with a North Dakota sheriff's department. It seems the sheriff stole the Madman's mojo and harnessed the dark power of his name to nab scofflaws. The sheriff sent 500 people with outstanding warrants an invitation to attend a party with Ozzy Osbourne..only there was no party, just the slammer.

It's not hard to see why the sheriff would resort to such deviousness; just say 'Ozzy' and people flock. What amazes me is that anyone fell for this ploy; for one, the "party" invitation came by mail (not e-mail). The majority of the invitees probably read the return address or realized they hadn't signed up to win any kind of Ozzy party. The more than 30 people who fell for the scam are now trying to hire Perry Mason to represent them.

Not a scam: Ozzy hits the Spectrum January 10th with Rob Zombie.
See you there.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

Old Dirt Dog

iTunes has (finally) released some of the recordings from Bonnaroo 2007 including Dr. Dog's phenomenal performance on June 16. Oddly, the recording is listed as "clean." I don't recall any cursing during the set (they're such nice boys), so a "dirty" or uncensored recording may not actually exist. So why the "clean" label?

Pictures from a hot day and a truly outstanding show.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Hockey Season's Here!

Ladies and Gentlemen, Bob Probert.

First, the legend (set to metal).

Then, the disgrace.

To be fair, it is thrilling to hear, "Here Comes Probert! Here Comes Bob Probert!" And the owner of the Chicago Blackhawks really should to be pile driven for what he's done to that franchise and its fans. Except he's dead. Well, he fell into the "cock" category.


Friday, September 28, 2007

Fuck You Yankee Blue Jeans


If you've seen Clerks, you know what this ad is referencing.
*For the record, text in the ad is Ukrainian, not Russian.


Monday, September 10, 2007

Hope You Guess My Name

A devilishly fun quiz at Mental Floss.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Yes, I'm Ready for Some Football, and I Hope They Burn in Hell!

Football makes a comeback this week.


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Go Get 'Em, Rick

Rick Ankiel is back with the Cardinals. The one-time pitcher is expected to make the starting line-up tonight in the outfield.
Here's wishing him all the luck. This guy was lights out on the mound before his problems.

This video is the best I could find of Ankiel's heartbreaking meltdown.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Are You There God? It's Me, Head.

Ever wonder what former Korn guitarist Brian "Head" Welch has been up to since quitting the band in 2005? Me, neither.

Korn's may have lost a Head, but they still have the ears of the fans (that corny pun is just lame), and they're doing just fine as a cover band. Pink Floyd songs have always been popular with disaffected youth, and they can probably fool a few listeners into believing "Word Up!" is theirs by counting it amongst their "Greatest Hits."

Stagnation's a bitch (or a dingo or a coyote or Jonathan Davis's mug on some canine-like animal).


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Too Much Metal for One Hand!

You haven't heard "The Trooper" until you've heard it like this.


Sunday, July 08, 2007

Welcome to the Bone Yard!

YES! Someone finally made a quilt that's comfy and proclaims my love of heavy metal!

"He refers to our lovemaking as the Headbangers ball."

Quiltsryche passes the faux metal test because they work an umlaut into their name.
Hope they don't mind that I'm posting this image.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Rat Drink

Rats getting drunk in India.
Just another reason to keep beer cold: without opposable thumbs, rats can't open the fridge door.


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Great Muppet Debate

I remain skeptical about ranking Muppets (General Gonzo, it's corporal Kermit reporting for duty), but I like this observation...

Oh, don't get me wrong, Elmo is Scrappy-Doo covered in shaggy red felt, and I want to hunt him down and strangle him to death too.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Everyone Beats the Cubs, Even Other Cubs!

I love seeing the Cubs self destruct. Especially Zambrano.
Technically the Cubs are hitting in this video, but it looks more like a slap fight.
Sadly, YouTube won't allow this video to be embedded.


Friday, June 01, 2007

BKJ Scoops Philebrity

Most of the time I'm playing catch-up, but I was all over this Alyssa Milano baseball shit months before Philebrity. Word.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Arctic Monkeys 5/17/2007

Arctic Monkeys
Electric Factory
May 17, 2007

My view from the afternoon of seeing the Arctic Monkeys tonight was nonplussed particularly because no one was interested in going to the show with me. Nuts to them. They missed an outstanding performance.
My diminished expectations coming into the Electric Factory stemmed from having seen the Arctic Monkeys about a year ago at the Starlight Ballroom. At the time, the Monkeys were riding the crest of a hype wave that I was certain would go to their young heads. Days after the AM show, I saw Clap Your Hands Say Yeah suck out loud at the TLA after rocking the First Unitarian Church a few months earlier. The flat and uninspired TLA performance was a disappointment given CYHSY’s DIY success and blog appeal. Overachievers please try harder.
But back to the Arctic Monkeys’ Thursday night show at the Electric Factory. The band completely dispelled my cynicism with a very tight, 80-minute set punctuated with a rousing “Fake Tales of San Francisco” that had the whole auditorium dancing.
Yet for a sold out show, the floor seemed sparsely populated. The front was packed with adolescents (as expected for an all-ages show), but on the fringes there was space for the chaperones and parents to dance, stretch, and check text messages. It was kind of cute seeing families bond to a Brit rock soundtrack.
The audience was enthusiastically polite and no one seemed to mind the lack of an encore as they filed out when the house lights and exit music came on.


Friday, May 04, 2007

Evening Bulletin Was Dead Before...

Searching online for downloads of the WXPN simulcast of the Modest Mouse show I was at last night, I came across a review for We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank from the Evening Bulletin. Man, does this guy love WXPN...

I came across Modest Mouse because in Philadelphia we have what is perhaps the finest terrestrial radio station in the country - FM 88.5 WXPN.
Were this 1990 when the internet was still new and 88.5 was the Philadelphia source for "college rock," I'd understand that sentiment, but c'mon. This is 2007 and there are much better stations than 88.5. WPRB is local and better. KEXP is out-of-town and better.

WXPN has improved, but it's still far from the best. Eat it, Evening Bulletin.


Monday, April 30, 2007

BKJ Scoops 'The Bachelor'

This is what you learn when drinking with friends of friends.
The current dude on ABC's The Bachelor was known as "Brass Monkey" at Duke University because he was "blonde and bronze and brought little to the table. He was brassy, but not really interesting. Nice enough guy." Ah, yes. The nice guy.
I also learned he was on the swim team at Duke and grew up in Lancaster, which means he was probably on a swim team in Lancaster and given our age differences...I kicked the Bachelor's ass!
Yeah. Forget age-adjusted times. Let's take this on a purely year-by-year scale. When I was older than dirt and he was just out of pampers, he was eating my wake in the pool. Hell, he was probably still wearing water wings and pissing in the kiddie pool.
It remains to be seen whether this guy will be more or less embarrassing to the Lanc than Floyd Landis.

The Bachelor airs tonight at 9:30.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Neal Pollack Loses Lunch, Edge

I liked Neal Pollack more as a phony baloney blowhard than as the yuppified “alternadad” with no stomach for ballpark food that he's become.
A Phillies dollar dog-an-inning challenge would only embarrass this Philly ex-patriot further.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Welcome WPRB Listeners

Contrary to his show's slogan (Nothing but Not Hits) Brian Howard has more hits than Ryan Howard tonight.
By the way, BH has mad productions skillz! He was talking to me on the phone while his voice was on the air plugging this blog. He must have some kind of delay pedal or something. Damn!
Thanks for the plug, BH.


Ask and You Shall Receive

Hooray for Stars!!!!
BH takes requests. Tune in. Give him a call.
What's this? Another cover of "Ring of Fire"? Yes, it is.
I just set a Bloody Knee Jerk record for most posts in a day.


Cellphone's Dead

Last song on WPRB rocked.
Now I think BH is dialing on air. No wait, it's a song. Or is it?
No, it is. "Do you believe in life after love?" The playlist has not been updated, but it's Macha Loved Bedhead (thanks BH).
This is like the time I drunk dialed the DJ only it's going the opposite way.
The rock has returned. Talk about "The Spirit of Radio." Hmm. Is Rush considered college rock? Probably not.
Hooray for Apples in Stereo!!!! Hooray for the New Pornographers!!!


Turn UP the Radio

My boy, BH, is on the radio RIGHT NOW!!!
Tune into WPRB 103.3 in Princeton (or right now.
He promises to stop the ambient electronica sleep music and bring tha noiz!
I called. He confirmed.
I'll call again.


Roll Credits on the Film Festival

Final night of the Philadelphia Film Festival means it's time for the Festival Favorites!
Tonight the Ritz East 2 featured 2 favorites not included in the program guide, so don't bother looking.

The Good Life
Canada/United States
Set in a desolate and lonely Nebraska town, The Good Life might be the most depressingly uplifting and life affirming movie since It's A Wonderful Life. For the first 100 minutes it is sad, sad, sad, and then in the final 5 minutes it finds redemption.
Hope I didn't spoil the good news ending for you.

Dog Bite Dog
Korea? (IMDB says Hong Kong, but I believe it was billed as Korean at the festival)
Violence and more violence. Violence for its own sake. Brutal violence. Ironic use of music scoring the ultraviolence.

That's it. The festival wraps with Waitress tonight.


Good News for People Who Love Bad News (i.e. The Inquirer)

Slate republishes a 2004 piece entitled "Pulitzer Schmulitzer" (if it's on the internet does it really need to be "republished") about the history of the Pulitzer Prize, how little any one cares about the award (other than the winners), and how to improve it.
That should make the Philadelphia Inquirer feel better about its current lowly state of front-page ads, insanely oversized photographs (space filler), deceptive advertising posing as news items, shoddy copyediting, and overall lack of substance.
Inquirer mogul Brian Tierney's must be thinking the same thing. If no one cares, why not wreck a rich history of award-winning journalism.


Monday, April 16, 2007

Film Festival: Fly Eagle, Fly!

Eagle vs. Shark
New Zealand; Festival guide page 92.
A quirky romantic comedy about two misfits forging a relationship in the heat of video game battle.
This movie felt a lot like Napoleon Dynamite with claymation. There were some really funny moments andLoren Horsley is adorable as the helplessly smitten Lily, but overall it was too derivative for my tastes.
Eagle vs. Shark has been chosen as a Festival Favorite. It screens again on Tuesday, April 17 at 7:15 at the Ritz East.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Hat of Shame

No additional comment needed. A larger image can be found here (not a permanent link).


Saturday, April 14, 2007

Film Festival Friday

Great Britain; Festival guide page 140
A company retreat in the woods of Hungary goes horribly awry when the employees find themselves hunted by mysterious assailants.
Hyped as "the BBC's 'The Office' re-imagined as a horror movie," Severance had several very funny moments, but it fell short as a horror movie. As soon as what was hunting the team of defense contractors was revealed, the movie became a lot less scary. The unknown is far more terrifying.
Severance has been added as a Festival Favorite; it screens Tues., April 17th at 9:30 at the Ritz 5.

On a vaguely related note, the Film in PA folks need a copy editor. Their ad on the back cover of the Philadelphia Film Festival guide is just embarrassing. It should read: Hey Eastwood, there are a million reasons to film your next baby here.


Friday, April 13, 2007

Cardinals Win!: Hell or High Water Edition

Phillies fans know losing. They also know a lot about the Cardinals...enough to name just about every notable (and not so notable, Greg Jefferies) player in the history of the Cardinals franchise and say something disparaging. Nonetheless, we have 10 World Series titles...and Alyssa Milano! How charming.

Further evidence of the Cardinals' long-standing commitment to winning came earlier this week. It was only a regular season game against the Pirates, but the St. Louis Cardinals came from behind to win it in the 12th.

From the St. Louis Post Dispatch:

"This is a game that we win that some other teams don't win," said La Russa, sounding as much like a proud father as a winning manager. "I'm not saying we're the only team. But you lose Rolen. You don't have Carpenter. The guy (Spiezio) who replaces Rolen is not going to play. He guts it up. You bring in an emergency starter.

"We're going to play nine hell or high water. Sometimes you get a win just because you go out there, you try hard and you do things right."


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Once More With Feeling

Ireland; Festival guide page 39
In this beautiful film, real-life musical collaborators Glen Hansard (of The Frames) and Marketa Irglova become musical collaborators after the girl (Irglova) meets a guy (Hansard) on a Dublin sidewalk performing for change.
The film is shot primarily (entirely?) with a single hand-held camera, which gives it a very intimate feel. It's really an outstanding movie.
I’ve never been big into singer-songwriters (or wuss rock, either), but with the addition of a plot and moving images suddenly the whole genre makes sense.
Once has been picked up by Fox Searchlight Pictures, so it should see life beyond the festival circuit, and it deserves to. Cross your fingers that the big money players don’t change the ending.
Also showing at 5:15 pm on Thursday, April 12 at the Ritz East


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Job Ain't Nothin' But Work

In honor fire drills and the orange vest I wear as my department's fire marshall, here's "Safety Dance!"

I actually saw this video in the 80s because it aired on Saturday mornings between cartoons. The dippy hippy chick and the Renaissance Faire vibe conjure memories like a sorcerer, and who could forget Mike Edmonds? He was Jabba's tail. Learn more about Men Without Hats at Wikipedia.

And in honor of the 2-hour meeting I had today, here's a fun little game from Adult Swim.


Monday, April 09, 2007

Revolution Called for Rain

Ukraine is near and dear to my heart, and I've been following the political turmoil going on over there as closely as the American media will allow (check out the Guardian Unlimited for better coverage of well, everything). Brief though their coverage may be, this paragraph in today's New York Times caught my eye.

Organizers called off the rally in Independence Square, focal point of 2004 "Orange Revolution" protests, at the last moment on Easter Monday -- a public holiday -- citing poor weather. A small crowd in the square listened to speakers amid freezing drizzle.
To me, the fact that they'll call off a protest because of inclement weather lends validity to a report that many of the protesters (on both sides of the Yushchenko-Yanukovich split) are being paid for their activism. This time around the revolution will be payrolled.


Big Screen Weekend

More movies over the weekend.

Not part of the Philadelphia Film Festival, just a really entertaining film if you enjoy zombies, muscle cars, ultra-violence, and profanity. Check it out at the Roxy for a true grindhouse experience.

Monkey Warfare
Canadian; Festival guide page 93.
An outstanding black comedy from Canada about ex-revolutionaries meeting the next generation of radical activists. Bringing up baby.
The accompanying short, The Saddest Boy in the World, was bizarre and funny in parts. Yes, even a short film can be uneven.
Keep your fingers crossed that Monkey Warfare will be selected as a Festival Favorite, because otherwise you missed it.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Eat It, Crows

It's been 14 years since the release of "Mr. Jones," and finally someone (other than yours truly) has publicly accused Counting Crows of sucking.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force's Master Shake lays out the case against crap rock in the April 13th issue of Entertainment Weekly.

"It is incredible how stupid the lyrics to this song are. Take the worst open-mic poetry you've ever heard, then let an ugly frat boy with dreadlocks bounce around and sing it to you. There! You just saved 10 bucks."

Always listen to your milkshake, kids.* Had ATHF been around in 1993, maybe it would have saved the world from Recovering the Satellites and every CC album since.

*I pity the lactose intolerant.


Saturday, April 07, 2007

Rockin' the Ritz: Around the World in 3 Films

Caught 3 movies (and a short) at the Ritz 5 last night as part of the Philadelphia Film Festival.

Change of Address
French with English subtitles; Festival guide page 92.
A funny and thought-provoking relationship comedy centering on Ann and David, two strangers sharing an apartment in Paris.
There was a jump in the film during the screening I attended, which makes me think there was a reel missing, still nothing of the story was lost and the movie was very enjoyable.
It is being shown again at the Ritz 5 on Monday at 9:30.

Swedish Auto
United States; Fesival guide page 112.
Swedish Auto is a slow-burning drama starring Lukas Haas (of Witness fame) as a mechanic in Charlottesville, Virginia.
I've never had one bit of dialogue derail an entire movie for me before, but there was a line in Swedish Auto that made me giggle and completely took me out of the story. Not a bad movie, but not great. The acting was competent.
Before the main feature, there was a short film, Forward, which also involved cars. Several puzzled audience members started to leave the theater as the short credits rolled only to be reassured that the 13-minute short was not Swedish Auto. Forward packed a lot into its scant 13 minutes.
Swedish Auto will probably see wider distribution if you miss it when it screens again at the Ritz 5 on Sunday at 12:15.

German with English subtitles; Festival guide page 90.
Go see Wholetrain! It's a drama about a band of graffiti artists and a celebration of a vibrant, cultural, "illegal" artform.
DeLillo's prose about graffitied trains in Underworld* was vivid, but as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and Wholetrain presents the craft beautifully. The characters are interesting (perhaps a little static), but the real stars of the movie are the art work and the hip hop soundtrack.
At the Q&A after the screening, the director revealed that Warsaw, Poland was the only city in Europe that would permit him to graffiti a train for his film. Danke, Warsaw, Danke!
Catch Wholetrain on Sunday at The Bridge at 12:00 or at the Ritz 5 on Monday at 5:00.

*I can't recommend Underworld enough.


Saturday, March 31, 2007

"The 80s Smelled Like Puppets"

Sometimes I'm at a cultural disadvantage because I missed out on music videos growing up (MTV didn't hit rural Lancaster until after the network had already stopped showing videos), but then someone references a Genesis video, and I'm OK that I never saw this before...

Or the Disturbed cover (with an unexpected reference to Gulliver's Travels).

But then there's this video created by someone with too much free time. Hooray for You Tube and idle hands. It's Cliff Notes for Bloodsport. This is an attention-deficit age we're living in.

*Title of this post provided by Keith.


Friday, March 23, 2007

Take the Plunge

I'm going out on a limb and putting Pride on my short list for best movie of 2007 without having seen it. It's about Philadelphia, and it's going to do for swimming what Without Limits did for running and Kingpin did for bowling. At the very least it can't be worse than Swimfan.

Makes me want to hit the pool again.

*Yes, I put Without Limits ahead of Chariots of Fire.


The Lanc Caught Nappin'

Ohio Amish are trying to set the world buffet record currently held by Las Vegas.
All I can wonder is why the Lanc hasn't locked this title up already. We rock the smorgasbord.
Tired, Lancaster? Take a turkey nap (or a Turkey Hill nap) and get back to the table!


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Still Celebrating!

Cardinals skipper Tony La Russa was nailed for driving under the influence in Florida. The man's a baseball genius and a friend to animals, but this is really dumb. He has his pick of rookies to chauffer him to the hotel.

I'm certainly not calling for the man's ousting (he won the World Series!), but the team does have a history of firing employees with alcohol problems.

By the way, the Cardinals begin their World Series title defense next week.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Reppin' the 215 Worldwide

Back in Philly later than expected because of a snow storm in New York. Rest assured that I put my two extra days in Ukraine to good use.
Rocky Balboa was one of four in-flight flicks on the return trek. After watching the end credits sequence I would like to reiterate my disappointment with the Philadelphia Museum of Art for fighting to keep the Rocky statue off its steps.


Friday, March 09, 2007

Back to the U.S.S.R.

Bloody Knee Jerk will be on hiatus while I head to Ukraine for the third time in 20 years.
I'm told this is the only statue of Lenin still standing in Kyiv (Kiev).
Hooray freedom!

When I return, I'm going to see 300, the most violent, and therefore best, movie ever!*

*At least until Grindhouse hits theaters.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Here Come the Brides, Again

Philly ex-pats the Burning Brides release their new album, Hang Love, on April 24th. If it kicks as much ass as the new t-shirt design (above), I'm sold.


No Law, No Order Till Orbach Gets a Corner!

The New York Times has a story today ($) about roadblocks to a proposal to name a Manhattan street corner for iconic actor, Jerry Orbach.

Law & Order fans should take to the streets in support of the naming. I've even come up with a humdinger of a chant they can use: "No Law! No Order! Till Orbach Gets a Corner!"


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

At Long Last...Mastodon!

If you've been keeping up on your Bloody Knee Jerk, you know I've been hunting the elusive Mastodon for some time. Well, I finally bagged the beast, and its awesomeness will be on display in Philly May 18th at the Electric Factory.
Prepare to have your face rocked the fuck off!


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Modest Proposal

As a backwoods bumpkin who loves a good hoedown, I've always felt a connection existed between Modest Mouse and Primus because of the irresistable stompability of their music.
Modest Mouse's "Dashboard" video confirms my suspicions.
Calling Brock the Fisherman. Fish on!


Saturday, February 17, 2007

Free Bling!

How is this for the mac daddy-daddy mac of all promotional giveaways?

On April 3, 2007, all fans at the Cardinals season opener receive a replica World Series ring. Bling bling!


Friday, February 09, 2007

Mastodon Still Hates Philly

Mastodon expanded its 2007 tour again. Still no Philly show.


Friday, February 02, 2007

Groundhog vs. Chicken: Round 1

Wing Bowl, Schming Bowl (save for Sean Agnew's hilarious live coverage for Philebrity). True Pennsylvania drinking devotees were getting sauced in the woods and not a parking lot this morning. Yep, it's Groundhog Day!

Punxsutawney Phil predicts an early spring. But my man out in Quarryville, Octorara Orphie, says its going to be 6 more weeks of winter. If you know your weather-prognosticating varmints, then you know Orphie's the real deal (Phil's the Miller Lite of groundhogs--popular but without substance or flavor). C'mon snow!

How this heinous crime escaped my notice is beyond me. When I find the full text, I'll post it.


Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Bridge Too Far

It's been a long time since I crossed the creek in the woods, but as a young reader I never envisioned Bridge to Terabithia as the fantasmagorical CGI romp Disney has created.

If the film stays true to the book's ending, this trailer is really misleading and it's going to piss off a lot of uninformed moviegoers.
Without spoiling the book, let's just say: No sequel.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Now Hear This: It's Movie Time!

Philly heroes, Audible, have landed a song in the new Jennifer Garner-Kevin Smith flick, Catch and Release.
What's more, "Sky Signal" made the soundtrack alongside tracks by Foo Fighters, Gomez, and The Lemonheads! Cha-ching!


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Mo' Features, Mo' Problems

So, I switched to Blogger's new version, and my post from January 15th was lost.
I'll recreate it this evening, but in the meantime...up yours,!


Monday, January 15, 2007

Always Do the Right Thing

You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve.

Words, words. This blog of words began 2 years ago. It was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others brave enough to stand against inequity.

Stay vigilant against racism, and confront discrimination in all its forms. Educate yourself; it's the first step towards solving the problems of inequity in the land of the free (and around the world).
What we need is awareness, we can't get careless!
--Chuck D, Public Enemy

Love the old burgundy Phillies cap. It was unique.
Add Public Enemy to Philebrity's list of 50 Fabulous Freaks.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Quest For Blood Mountain!

I didn't think Mastodon's Blood Mountain could get any better.
Boy, was I wrong!
Now the experience of Blood Mountain is available as a kick-ass video game!

And Cat Power has the nerve to call her album The Greatest. Yeah? Bring it.

Blood Mountain: still the best album of 2006!

Quest for Blood Mountain: the best non-Guitar Hero II rock-based video game since Journey Escape.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Anything I write about this will just detract from its brilliance.*

*Props to my homegirl, Michelle, for pointing this out.


Now She Can Buy Flour When She Lands

The city of Philadelphia settled the lawsuit from a woman who was carrying flour-filled condoms onto a plane. She got $180,000.00 when she should have gotten a gafflin'.

I wish I were dumb enough to think of something completely stupid for the city to pay for. And I don't mean The Gross Clinic.*
Stupid like a fox!

*At last report, the principal at the Rhodes School was sucking the teat of Teach for America, and non-TFA teachers didn't have textbooks for their students. I'm just saying. $180,000 could probably buy at least 1 book for 100 students to share.


Monday, January 08, 2007

The Strength of Street Knowledge

Time to test your N.W.A.ledge, kid.
You can't top my perfect score (with all bonus questions correct), but you can still represent.

All answers courtesy of the incomparable Straight Outta Compton LP.
If you don't own it, your whole music collection sucks.

*Dig the quiz, but dude needs to check his spelling. Straight Out Of Compton??? What the hell is that shit?


Saturday, January 06, 2007

Idol Chatter

Mastodon's Blood Mountain is #24 on Idolator's first Jackin' Pop Critics Poll. Click around on the site, you might find the list I contributed (or not).