Archive for May, 2016

Go-Gos Still Go-Going

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

I recorded the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, for the sole purpose of watching the Go-Go’s — even though I’ve seen them do We’ve Got the Beat dozens of times over the years, and even though they never vary how they do it, even in length.

Kathy-nowFormer member Kathy Valentine, in a comment on Facebook the day after the performance, talked about the do-it-exactly-the-same mentality that she says is the reason she was booted from the group:

Well it’s old news now. better to comment with some distance. my opinion is that it sounded fine for a live tv performance. lead vocal a little pitchy and shaky but no biggie. No mistakes–how could there be though? The bass player played the song fine but looks wrong for the group vibe. doing those hard rock stances in a matron length dress doesn’t work for me. it didn’t look like they were having any fun, but I know it’s hard to do those big televised things. I felt bad for them kind of, because they got good placement and a great set, yet it still felt like they were the stepchild at the family reunion, and I bet they felt that way. It’s hard to be the irrelevant act on a roster of hit makers, no matter what your opinion of the song or the performance was, that was the circumstance. I never understood why the band wouldn’t work the WGTB breakdown better–I used to beg to make more of it. It’s the perfect chance for audience engagement, everyone at concert is on their feet having the best time–give them more than 8 bars to enjoy it. From afar, I give them this advice once again, for the farewell tour: change it! extend the breakdown! make it fun! stretch the song out to, oh I don’t know, maybe 3 and a half minutes. Oh wait, but that would be DIFFERENT, got forbid. When we played it with Beck sitting in and Jack Black singing, I was trying to make everyone play the song a little longer so we could have FUN. how often does that happen, where we have ****ing Beck and Jack Black on stage with us?! Keep it going! No way. They refused to make it longer. everything is exact. every fill, every strum, every length–unless it is decided on ahead of time and rehearsed extensively. exactly the same. drove me crazy. it’s all about giving the fans MORE, in my opinion. once they are there, having paid their ticket price, give them a show. While we’re on the topic, I also used to beg for this–check this out: I used to suggest, over and over, that Jane sing Rush Hour or some song of hers, while Belinda went off stage to change clothes. Presto!!! You have made Jane happy, given the audience another recognizable song, and added completely free production value with a simple outfit change. I really tried to implement simple easy things that would make a better show. They can say whatever they want about me, but that’s the truth, and I have the emails to back it up. ok, there’s my review and rant. enjoy. curse me out. whatever!

If it’s all true, it seems an odd habit for a band that broke so many of rock’s rules at the time.

J-Punk, Girl Edition

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

Everybody who reads this blog knows how much I like chicks with guitars — I even have a whole category dedicated to them (although it’s a fairly new category, and I don’t have all relevant posts indexed as such right now).

ANYWAY: I recently ran across a Reddit thread from a year or so ago in which Japanese girl bands (rock, not pop) were being discussed, and I figured it was time to compile a few into a post. (Spoiler alert: There are several songs by Shonen Knife.)

So here we go:

The’s (the band featured in Kill Bill):

Princess Princess, mid-1980’s:

The same band, just ten years later:



Probably the most famous of all the Japanese girl punk band’s Shonen Knife, with a Ramones cover:

And while we’re at it — another Ramones cover by Shonen Knife!

And another!

And now for something completely different: Shonen Knife covering a Carpenters tune:

And the Monkees:

And at last, a Shonen Knife original:

Can you tell I like Shonen Knife? Does it show?

These girls are unclear on the concept: Thug Murder should be the name of an American rap act, not a Japanese punk band. Anyway, this is a cover of an old U.S. hit:

The best band name of the bunch, Red Bacteria Vacuum:

Watashi Wa Arashi:

Some of these bands are more heavy metal than punk, this one more than any of them. At least the sound is clean and crisp, and there sure aren’t any other metal bands that look like this. Bonus points: The band name, “Band Maid” is one of the great Engrish terms — it almost makes sense on some level, but mostly not.

And finally: A song that starts J-pop and quickly turns metal:

Okay, one more: Here’s a band that wasn’t mentioned in the Reddit thread, but I’ve known about them for years. I prefer their song “Soap and Cigarettes”, but I can’t find a video anywhere, so here’s Dirtruck with a different song that’s not as good:

Whew! I actually know about lots more girl J-Rock, but that is for another day. For now, go exploring for more by these bands on YouTube.


Saturday, May 21st, 2016

Okay, I missed blogging yesterday, and I used my birthday as a blowoff day, and I almost missed today.

So now I’m rushing to get a post in before midnight.

So let’s talk abut what’s going on:

I’m watching Me & Earl & the Dying Girl, which I posted the trailer of last week. It costars Connie Britton, Nick Offerman and Molly Shannon, plus Jon Bernthal from The Walking Dead, whom I didn’t even recognize at first, because I guess that beard makes his nose look smaller.

I’ve been on the CPAP machine for a couple of weeks now, as a result of the sleep study which found I have sleep apnea, and I’m feeling quite a bit better so far.

Back to the movie: We’ve recently gotten free HBO and Epix weekends recently, and I’ve stockpiled a nice arsenal of movies, of which I’ve watched most by now.

Thursday was my birthday, as you might recall, and we saw the latest Captain America movie.

Oh, look at the time, it’s almost midnight! Gotta post this!

Day Off

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

It’s my birthday. I’m taking the day off.

But don’t worry, I took pictures.

War of Heroes

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

We went to see the latest Avengers movie today (okay, technically it was a Captain America movie), and by gosh those people know how to make a movie. Two hours and twenty-eight minutes of action and storytelling that gives you your money’s worth, even at today’s inflated prices.

Here’s a shopping list of the good stuff:

Jam-packed full of stars even in minor roles. You expect the stars who play the main characters, but the number of award-winners and -nominees is astounding: Alfre Woodard, Martin Freeman, William Hurt, Marisa Tomei, Hope Davis, John Slattery — I always say it’s a bad sign when a big movie skimps on the talent, and this one doesn’t.

Emily VanCamp. She’s cute as a button.

I’m also getting to like ELizabeth Olsen, who, if you don’t recognize the name, looks like a younger Rashida Jones.

Ant Man and Spiderman join the fight, and it’s a nice touch to have two eager, starry-eyed beginners battling alongside the sometimes-jaded professionals. As Falcon tells Spiderman at one point, I don’t know how many fights you’ve been in, but usually there’s not so much talking.

It was also gratifying to see the barely-in-puberty Spiderman hold off three experienced heroes all by himself.

The fight scene choreography was a star of the show all by itself. Watching Black Widow, with no weapons and no armor, take out a platoon of commandos was a joy to behold. And the fight scene in the stairwell, with Cap and Bucky taking out a team of SWAT police, was one of the best I’ve ever seen.

As my wife pointed out, the Scarlet Witch has very cool powers. In a movie full of combat-trained agents and masters of technology, her abilities are different and distinct.

Don’t think the technology isn’t great in itself, though. Falcon has a really neat drone that he uses for reconnaissance and air support, as needed.

So yes, a wonderful movie. This is why we have Hollywood.

Reputations In Jeopardy

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

Power PlayersThis week is Power Players Week on Jeopardy, which is different from Celebrity Jeopardy in that the Power Players are mostly from news and politics, which is why the show strongly implies that they should be smarter, and they really should be, but they’re not.

The one person this week not from news or politics is Louis C. K. I’m not sure why he’s there, unless the designated Andy Richter for the year, the comedian brought in to make the supposed smart guys look stupid. Or maybe he’s the Kevin O’Leary, the Shark Tank star brought in to look stupid himself.

We’ll find out tomorrow.

Speaking of such things, I notice that Wolf Blitzer isn’t competing this year. I guess he got tired of getting his butt handed to him.

Tonight’s celebrities — Anderson Cooper, Lana Logan and Michael Steele — aren’t much better that O’Leary and Blitzer, but at least they all ended up above zero. Still: Shouldn’t the people who shape public policy and opinion be better informed?

Roll Up For the Mystery Tour

Monday, May 16th, 2016

A writer unfolds how he Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Magical Mystery Tour. Spoiler alert: It was on a 1200-mile road trip when he was 13.

Night Art

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

This is interesting: A living, moving art installation in the night sky.

Good Guys

Saturday, May 14th, 2016

This week The Walking Dead stars Norman Reedus and Steven Yeun stopped to help car crash victims in Atlanta, but took off before anyone could bug them about who got killed by Negan.

It was Glenn. Or maybe Abraham — except it wasn’t. It was Glenn.

Das Band

Friday, May 13th, 2016

It’s really too bad that we didn’t have the Internet in the early 80s, or more postpunk/New Wave bands might have taken off. For instance, I’m just recently finding out about this all-girl German band named Kleenex:

No Shazam, no Facebook, no Google Translate — how did we ever listen to music back then???