Friday, November 30, 2007

In Case You Haven't Noticed

I don't update this blog anymore. I started a training log a couple of months ago, and I've now switched that to WordPress. I mostly write about my training now, but I'm touching on anything I can think of. Check it out here.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Billy Corgan, Smiling Politely

I will forever be a Billy Corgan apologist.

I forgot about them from about 1997-2006, but the Pumpkins were a pretty phenomenal band back in the day. Siamese Dream is my second-favorite album from the 1990s behind OK Computer, but it's far more enjoyable to listen to. In hindsight, it's probably one of my desert albums as well. I think it's better than Nevermind and completely blows Ten out of the water. Radiohead's The Bends is pretty great, but it's not as varied or creative as SD. While Radiohead and Nirvana were the most important 90s bands and Pearl Jam has been the most consistent over the long haul, the Smashing Pumpkins were the greatest (again, except for OK Computer-era Radiohead) band during the decade. 80% of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is astonishing (though the other 20% is pretty terrible, it totally falls apart at the end). The first 6 songs off that album might be one of the 5 greatest opening album sequences of all-time. Corgan's guitar playing is startling, from the riffs to the solos. For those two albums, Corgan was a certifiable genius. It's a shame that Adore, Machina, and Machina II are not very good albums despite flashes of brilliance.

Chuck Klosterman wrote how SP should be considered classic rock by now but they aren't because people hate Billy Corgan. He's an egomaniacal, insecure control freak who yearns to be relevant. However, I think that's part of what makes him awesome. The fact that Billy Corgan publicly insults and alienates members of his own band because they aren't up to his standards is just about the coolest thing I've ever heard. When he criticizes his fans for not buying the new albums, I think it's perfect. A crazy rock god is supposed to be a self-indulgent nut (even if that means sharing residence with Courtney Love).

So, based on the aforementioned, I'm psyched about the new Pumpkins album, Zeitgeist. I've got about 4 or 5 songs and they are pretty good. "Tarantula" and "Doomsday Clock" rock pretty hard, and a couple of the others are at least decent. I just think it's great to have ol' Nosferatu back in our lives. At LiveEarth he snidely remarked that people should buy the album instead of downloading it illegally "just like they did with all of [their] others." You tell em' Bill, I've only half-disappointed you! I still think the comeback could have been perfected if he grew his hair back (assuming he still has some). Billy looks too much like Voldemort for this incarnation of the band. For Mellon Collie and Adore, the skeletal monster-look worked because there was a ghoulish quality to those albums. I think if Billy wanted people to embrace him and his band again and travel back to 1993, he should have at least made the effort to look like a normal human being.

In any case, welcome back, Billy Corgan. We are in your debt.

"Cherub Rock"
"Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness"
"Tonight, Tonight"
"Here is No Why"
"Bullet with Butterfly Wings"
"An Ode to No One"
"Ave Adore"
"If There is a God"
"Doomsday Clock"
"Frail and Bedazzled"

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Bigger Than Jesus

I'm in a Beatles Phase. I tend to cycle through Zeppelin/Dylan/Radiohead/Beatles Phases with some minor obsessions in between. I think it has something to do with the tides. This may not come as a surprise to anybody, but the Beatles made some pretty good music. Oh, and McCartney was better than Lennon.


"Hey Jude"
"Strawberry Fields Forever" (also Ben Harper's cover)
"For No One" (also Elliott Smith's cover)
"Tomorrow Never Knows"
"Carry That Weight"
"Get Back"
"Eleanor Rigby"
"A Day in the Life"
"Getting Better"
"In My Life" (also Johnny Cash's cover)
"If I Needed Someone"
"Drive My Car"
"Let It Be"
"Hello, Goodbye"
"Yesterday" (apparently this is the most covered song in history, but I can't find mp3s of any)

Paul McCartney:

"Maybe I'm Amazed"
"Ever Present Past" (brand new, great single)
"Band On The Run"

John Lennon:

"Working Class Hero" (also, Green Day's and The Academy Is...'s cover)
"Jealous Guy" (also, Elliott Smith's cover)
"Imagine" (definitely not A Perfect Circle's cover, that is pretty terrible)


SparkNotes on the Life of Patrick Liam Griffin:

I.) I completed my 2007 Spring semester with passing grades
i. Research and Dysphagia: two B's
ii. Practicum: A
II.) I moved back to Plymouth two weeks ago
i. great to see my family, dog, and 2 out of 3 cats
a) the third cat is a dickhead, sheds everywhere, and never shuts up
I. I give him a kick in the butt whenever I can
ii. basement flooded in March and mushrooms were growing in my room
a) new rug finally put in and as of last weekend I have a bedroom
III.) I'm working 5 days a week at New Bedford Rehab Hospital and (for the most part) enjoying it.
i. I was dressing up and wearing a white labcoat, but I've decided on scrubs
ii. 45-minute, scenic drive
iii. class in Worcester twice a week 4-7
a) burning some serious petrol
IV.) I'm working weekend mornings at Plymouth Country Club
i. I'm "The Rough Guy"
a) sitting on the biggest mower we have and driving around in circles
A. good to be back
i. not making much money
a) but, making enough money to break even on gas
V.) I've got noticeably fatter.
i. 25 pounds since August 2006 according to my doctor
a) also increased blood pressure, apparently
A. grad school sucks
ii. however, I'm going to my old gym again after several months of injuries, and slacking
iii. living on SlimFast and protein shakes
a) I love Hydroxycut
VI. I am very, very disappointed about the Celtics' lottery.
i. Greg Oden would have saved this franchise
a) Kevin Durant would not have
ii. We better hope for Corey Brewer
a) if he's there at 5
iii. We better get Yi
a) if he's there
VII. "24" better get its act together next year
i. Jack Bauer fights zombies!
a) "24 Days Later"
A. my idea, don't even think of taking it
a) correction: nuke Chloe, then NO MORE NUKES
VIII. The Office finale was great
i. Jim needs his old hair
a) A Halpert without the indie shag is scarcely a Halpert at all
ii. I secretly worry about next season
a) Ryan as Michael's boss would be absurd

All for now. Peace.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

iMix 4/21

The semester is winding down so I don't have a lot of motivation to write in this, but here is some new and old music that's been surging through my ear buds lately:

The Hold Steady "Chips Ahoy!"
The Decemberists "The Crane Wife, Part III"
Wilco "At Least That's What You Said" "Monday" & "Hate It Here"
Nine Inch Nails "Zero Sum" & "Survivalism"
Nirvana "About A Girl"
Oasis "Cigarettes and Alcohol" & "Acquiesce"
Golden Smog "Red Headed Stepchild"
Radiohead "Let Down"
Rush "A Passage To Bangkok"
The Shins "Caring Is Creepy"
Soundgarden "Rusty Cage"
Thin Lizzy "The Rocker" "She Knows" & "Jailbreak"
Neil Young "Tell Me Why"
Red Hot Chili Peppers "Charlie"
Bruce Springsteen "Atlantic City"
Bloc Party "Helicopter"
St. Vincent "Now Now"
Black Sabbath "Electric Funeral"
Led Zeppelin "Ten Years Gone" & "The Rain Song"
R.E.M. "How The West Was Won and Where It Got Us"
Jimi Hendrix "Born Under A Bad Sign" & "Hear My Train A Comin'"

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Desert Island

I was watching The Office episode "The Fire" the other day, and Jim was quizzing the employees about their "desert island" movies, or the movies they would be watching for the rest of their lives. I always love these activities but I tend to think a little too seriously about them. Nevertheless, here are some ideas for movies, albums, and books (Keep in mind, I have an iPod loaded with hundreds of albums, tens of audiobooks, and space for a few movies. These things are fun! It's like one of those MySpace quizzes that only girls take the time to fill out):


I don't think I've seen enough classic movies to really make a commitment, but I'm getting there. I'm evolving.

My all-time favorite movie is Swingers, so that's a given. A great Guys movie with Vince Vaughn at his smooth-talkingest and Jon Favreau not weighing 350 pounds yet. This movie changed my life. Single-handedly brought the phrase "you're so fucking money and you don't even know it" in my rotation of quotes sophomore year at college.

I suppose I would need to have one of the Godfathers, but Part I or Part II? Part II is an absurdly long movie and you get two stories out of it, so that would take up some time. But I think the original is a superior movie. I'll take Part I.
I'm looking at my DVD rack and not seeing a lot of classics in there, besides The Departed, but I'm pissed because the DVD doesn't have a director's commentary. What movie doesn't have a commentary track at this point? Isn't that a prerequisite to make a DVD nowadays? Especially a Scorsese film?

I have a problem with buying very bad movies that I only like ironically, like How High and Pootie Tang. I'm trying to kick this habit, but it's like heroin. They seem like such good ideas at the time.

I put the list of AFI's (the American Film Institute, not the semi-shitty band) 100 Greatest Movies on my Netflix queue. I'm in a Scorsese phase right now so I've watched Taxi Driver and I'm waiting for Raging Bull, Mean Streets, and Goodfellas, but I've been able to watch Citizen Kane, On The Waterfront, and A Streetcar Named Desire. These are all good movies, though I thoroughly enjoyed Citizen Kane. Considering it is regarded as the greatest movie ever made, I think that should make the cut by default.

Anchorman never ceases to make me laugh, so it's definitely coming along. I still quote Ron Burgandy, Champ Kind, Brian Fantana, and Brick Tamland all the time, months and years after other people moved on to Borat lines. Anchorman just does not stop being funny to me. I watch it every time I'm down.

So I'm bringing my all-time favorite movie in Swingers, two legitimate classics in The Godfather and Citizen Kane, and a ridiculous, quotable movie that gets better every time in Anchorman.


My first choice, without question, would be OK Computer by Radiohead. Like most of the music I'm into right now, I've only really been exposed to/acquired a taste for it in the past 6-8 months. Simply put, I think this is the greatest album ever recorded. It is a flawless work of art that flows together perfectly without one song that I'm not heavily moved by in some way (except maybe "No Surprises" which I really like but don't love). Even the album art is great, it fits the theme perfectly, just a weird blue/green wasteland.There is never a time where I don't feel like listening to OK Computer.

However, I think the follow-up Kid A is almost as genius, and upon checking on my iTunes play counts, it actually has more spins the OK Computer. Neither are very uplifting, but since Kid A is pretty hypnotic and tends to put me to sleep, it will have to stay home. OK Computer keeps my attention for each song, just because it rocks so hard.

I read somewhere that you should pick an album you don't really understand, something really avant garde. Often with records like that, it takes many, many listens before you "get it." There are sort-of-weird albums I didn't like when I bought them at the time in middle school or high school (Pearl Jam's Vitology, Tool's Lateralus) that I love now, because I have grown as a music fan. I'm gonna need something that will take a while. I'm gonna need something really weird.

I'm taking TV on the Radio's Return to Cookie Mountain. This is an album I bought last fall after reading countless reviews calling it the "new OK Computer" and every critic having it at the top of their Best Of lists for 2006. As stated about 70 times already, I love OK Computer, so I bought it. But, as much as I try, I just don't get it yet (except "Wolf Like Me," and "I Was A Lover," which are legitimately awesome), despite possibly having the greatest album title ever imagined. I try to like it, because I feel smart when I understand something like this, but so far it ain't happening. Return to Cookie Mountain is just flat-out weird most of the time, but maybe over a period of a couple years it will "unravel itself" and I'll think it's genius. Or maybe that will be the sun poisoning.

Most people would assume I would take a Coheed & Cambria record because I don't shut up about them, but this is not the case. I used to think long and hard about which one I would take because I go back and forth about which one I think is the greatest (again, I've put far too much serious thought into this desert island game). But my conclusion is this: while I have periods of time where I think that no other band has ever made great music, I also have periods of time where I just can't take it. It's not love/hate relationship, because I will always love them, but enough can be enough. Coheed & Cambria has reached the point of diminishing returns. Until they come out with something new and great (hopefully soon!), Co&Ca need not punch their ticket.

I'm going to have to keep this island On N' Poppin', so some hip-hop is in order to preserve my sexy. Jay-Z's The Blueprint. This is another great, great album. A lot of classic rap albums feel dated to me, such as Illmatic or The Chronic, and I think rap albums in general are more just collections of songs rather than true "albums" with common themes throughout. The Blueprint doesn't really get old for me, and its theme is evident: Jay-Z is way, way more awesome than you or I shall ever be. Produced by Kanye West before he became insufferably annoying and overrated as a rapper, it's his best work. The album is not marred by any guest appearances other than Eminem on "Renegades", who, as Nas said in "Ether", murdered Jay on his own shit. That verse made me love Eminem. I like Rolling Stone's summarization: "If Frank Sinatra ever made a rap album, he would have made The Blueprint." Whenever I listen to it I feel like I should be wearing a suit smoking Cuban cigars. However, I doubt I'll have access to these luxuries. The suits will be worn by monkey butlers.

Every desert island needs an obligatory Led Zeppelin record, because every desert island needs to rock. I'm taking Physical Graffiti over anything else in the Zepalogue. This might be considered cheating because it's a double album, but I think you get the most bang for your buck. It's got "Custard Pie," "The Rover," "Kashmir," "Sick Again," "In The Light," "Trampled Under Foot," "The Wanton Song," among others. It's a pretty heavy record, and even though it's not technically their best, it is the last great Zeppelin album. My favorite Zep album is III and Houses of the Holy is probably the best over all, but I enjoy listening to Physical Graffiti the most. It makes me feel like summer, which I bet living on a desert island is pretty much summer all the time.

So, to summarize: OK Computer, Return to Cookie Mountain, The Blueprint, and Physical Graffiti. That's a pretty good selection, I think.


Books, I don't know. I've never really read that much. I guess I would take anything by Chuck Klosterman, probably Killing Yourself to Live, but hopefully by the time I go to the island he would have put out an anthology or boxed set of everything and I could sneak that aboard the boat/hydrofoil. He's definitely my favorite writer, as most of you can tell with my constant quoting and away messages. While his Esquire columns have kind of sucked lately, Klosterman is still a genius.

Since I'm on an island, I'll have time to amass complete world knowledge. I'm sure this is cheating too, but I would take The New York Times Practical Guide to Practically Everything and The New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge. I love almanacs and I love The New York Times, and there's gotta be some shit in one of those about building a raft.

I should probably take an old classic. War and Peace is apparantly good, and I think it's like 6,000 pages or something. That will kill some time. Ah fuck it, just mail me my goddamn Esquire.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Tom Waits Is The Man

If you've never heard of Tom Waits, he is a singer/songwriter who has been around since the 1970s. I have only recently discovered him within the last 3 or 4 months, but he's great.

Be forewarned: his voice is not for the faint of heart. He is essentially a grizzled old man who sounds as though he's making fun of another more grizzled old man while singing. But he's just really cool. I've got about 5 or 6 of his albums (these are the benefits of sharing music with middle-age hipsters at work), and my favorite is his latest, "Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers, and Bastards" which is a collection of B-sides and greatest hits separated into relatively up-tempo bar fight music ("Brawlers"), ballads ("Bawlers") and I guess just random studio recordings ("Bastards"). My favorite by far is the "Bawlers" disc, because it's odd and yet strangely comforting to listen to an old wino sing about broken hearts and empty bottles. I picture Barney Gumble singing for brandy in that Simpsons with Sherry Bobbins. If you can get past his voice (which I now really like), he's a great songwriter. It's mostly blues and acoustic guitar, piano, and some horn, maybe an oboe? What's the jazz horn that isn't a trumpet or saxaphone? Whatever it is, this is perfect whiskey music and I could definitely see him playing in a bar with 3 people in it at 2AM. This is pretty much his material:

"Give a man gin,
give a man cards,
give him an inch,
and he takes a yard."

According to Wikipedia, his voice sounds "like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months and then taken outside and run over with a car."

And if you listen to Toucher and Rich on WBCN, he could be mistaken for the immortal Chili Guy. He's that drunk, and he's that grizzled. Tom Waits is The Man.

That pretty much sums it up. He's made his way into my regular rotation, particularly on these dreary winter days. He's worth at least couple of iTunes purchases.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Hovtober and Clipsember

A draft of a blog I wrote in December:

Two albums that need to be reviewed: Jay-Z's Kingdom Come and Clipse's Hell Hath No Fury.

Jay-Z is getting blasted for his new album, and in my opinion, the criticism is largely unfair. No, it isn't The Blueprint, and not really close. I would not call it a classic or even "great" record. But Kingdome Come includes some good songs ("Oh My God," "Kingdome Come,") some very good songs ("Show Me What You Got," "The Prelude") and some songs that have the right to exist "Do U Wanna Ride?" "Trouble"). Yes, some terrible songs made their way onto the track list ("Lost One," "Anything"), but let's not go nuts here (and by "let's", I suppose I mean the internet rap bloggers who don't read my blog and my two friends that listen to rap music). Young H-O's rapping is, again, in my opinion, as good as he has been in the past few years, a Black Album-type flow. The faults lie in its production and choruses (I still think "Show Me What You Got" is his best lead single maybe ever, despite what everyone else seems to think). Production is 90% of the reason why an album is successful or not, which is why 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin' sold so much, not his average-at-best lyrical ability. I would have hoped that Jay-Z's album would have had better production than it does, but there are enough lyrical punch lines and typical HOV swagger to satisfy me. But, what did anyone expect? Any highly-anticipated comeback album is always going to suffer the same fate: Expectations that cannot be met. Just ask Eminem. Encore is the second-worst album I own, behind Nas' Nastradamus.

Jay-Z Kingdome Come: 3.5 stars

On the other hand, Clipse's new album, Hell Hath No Fury, has greatly surprised me. I had read reviews calling it a classic, XXL Magazine gave it their highest rating, Pitchfork, a notoriously ruthless website, gave it a 91. I never really listened the Clipse before, but based on those reviews I had to pick it up. Sometimes, musicians--rappers, rock bands, pop stars, or whoever--only seem to exist within a vacuum of the lower third of the TRL countdown. I think the best example I can think of to describe this view is Jet. Jet is an Austrailan rock band that sounds like they are from the 1970s. Granted, there are numerous Austrailian rock bands that sound like they are from the 1970s (Wolfmother, um...ok, one other band), but I don't consider Jet to be a real band. I have heard many of their songs and I assume that they both write and record those songs, and had probably played them in Austrailian dive bars before being signed to a record deal, but they seem so constructed that I cannot picture them as existing as real human beings. I can't picture a Jet concert. I can't imagine a Jet interview. I can't even fathom members of Jet eating a bag of potato chips. The songs are pretty good too, but never would I consider buying a Jet album. Other artists in the Vacuum Category are Sean Paul, Akon, that Natasha Bettencourt/Bettingfield character, and Clipse. It's not to say that those occupying the Vaccuum were bad, inauthentic, or any other descriptor of being "fabricated by the music industry" (if I remember, that "Unwritten" song was pretty catchy). I just can't picture them existing as real human beings who do real human things.

Clipse no longer belongs in the Vaccum. They have graduated to "real human being" status.

This is one of the best rap albums in a long time. There is not one song on Hell Hath No Fury that I would describe as less than "very, very good." I know that Pharrell saves most of his good beats for Clipse because they were friends in Virginia, and there are some bangers here. The real surprise is how well Clipse rhyme, and what they rhyme about.

A large percentage of their lyrics are about selling drugs and the money they have made from selling said drugs, but this is no unique part of rap music. However, the brothers then rap about relatively obscure European cities Oslo, Frankfurt, and Cologne (Cologne?? I've only heard about that place from my art history class sophomore year!), Salvador Dali paintings, Oliver Twist, and former World Championship Wrestling CEO Eric Bischoff. This was unexpected. This album is very strong all the way through, and even Slim Thug and Pharrell's guest rapping don't do any damage. This might be the OK Computer of rap.

Clipse Hell Hath No Fury gets count'em, * * * * *, 5 stars out of 5.