It’s not often that a mainstream radio station will give me as jarring a shift between songs as the ones I routinely get from my iPod, but wow did whatever station I was listening to pull a doozy on my drive home tonight: they followed Outkast’s “Hey Ya” with “East Bound and Down” (a.k.a. “Love Theme from Smokey and the Bandit“) by Jerry Reed. I’m going to have to keep this station tuned in just to see what else they come up with.
We now break with this nice stream of blogging silence we’ve actively cultivated for the following emergency message:
Next Monday, July 15, new royalty rates go into effect for Internet radio stations which will effectively kill the entire ‘net radio market. These new rates are upwards of ten times higher than any other type of radio broadcaster must pay (and are retroactive to January of ‘06), and most ‘net radio stations would end up having to pay amounts far, far greater than their profits would allow. The new rates say that stations have to pay 33 cents per hour per listener, so a station with only 5000 listeners would have to pay royalty fees of almost $1.2 million per month to continue broadcasting. And that’s a fairly small station. The RIAA got this legislation passed so they could kill ‘net radio and make more money for themselves via record sales and larger broadcasters; it looks like their strategy is going to work if something isn’t done.
(EDIT: I got my math wrong, or rather, my figures: it’s not 33 cents per hour, it’s .33 cents per hour. Still, that figure represents far more than the profits most stations make. A station with only 5000 listeners having to pay $12K month in royalty fees is still excessive. But man, doesn’t $1.2 million for 5000 listeners sound more terrible and impressive?)
If you ever listen to any ‘net radio — whether that’s Radio Paradise or Pandora or AOL Radio or anything in between — please visit SaveNetRadio.org to see what you can do. Really, at this point “what you can do” means “call your Congressional representative(s) and tell ‘em to support the Internet Radio Equality Act.”
Light up those phones, people! Save Internet radio! Give those asshats at the RIAA what-for!
For most of this week, I’ve been afraid my iPod had died. Afraid and terribly depressed — the thought of an iPod-free life was quite funk-making.
Everything was working fine up until a Tuesday or so, when I noticed that the battery was dead dead dead, which struck me as very strange as I’d just charged it the night before. But dead dead dead it was, and I spent the next two days trying to charge it with no success. After several attempts at charging it across two different computers, I bought a new charger/sync cable last night which charged the thing right up. (The old cable apparently still works just fine for syncing, but won’t pull in enough power to charge the battery anymore. Strange.)
Anyway, my iPod was so happy to have a fully-charged battery again, it blessed me with a blood-pumping collection of favorites on the drive into work this morning. It would seem charging it up has also made its built-in moodometer function properly once again, as said blood-pumping songs meshed beautifully with the gorgeous, gorgeous spring morning we’re having here in N.C. Here, have a look:
“Rabbit Run” - Eminem I have an entire post brewing on this very song. I kid you not.
“All These Things I’ve Done” - The Killers I have not much to say about this song other than I loves it. It’s one of those songs that goes straight from my headphones to my spinal cord.
“Behind the Wall of Sleep” - The Smithereens She was tall and cool and pretty and she dressed as black as coal. No wonder I love this song, as I think that lyric described most every woman I crushed on in my early-to-mid 20s.
“The Waitress Song” - Blue Sky Salesmen Very, very few of you reading this will have ever heard this song, and those that have will understand and know why it brightened my mood this morning.
“Holiday” - Green Day This song brought on a most impressive fit of air guitar-n-drums from me this morning. My hands still hurt from enthusiastically pounding the steering wheel in time with Tre Cool.
Stealing Beauty Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1996)
One of my all-time favorite sexin’ albums. The first four tracks (from Hooverphonic, Portishead, Axiom Funk and John Lee Hooker — which of these things is not like the others?) all feature sultry grooves which slink right into your spine and move on down to wrap themselves around your sacral chakra and give it a good squeeze. Skip the out-of-place Liz Phair song at five and slide right on into Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” at six to give your junk a little extra funk.
Dixie Chicks, Taking the Long Way (2006)
The first three songs which open Taking the Long Way — “The Long Way Around,” “Easy Silence,” and the goosebump-inducing “Not Ready to Make Nice” — are all marked as five-star songs in my iPod. No other album I have on my computer right now can boast that distinction. Sadly, as much as I like the album overall, it sort of shoots its wad early: a few of the songs on the album come close to that level of greatness those first three songs achieve, but none quite get there.
Green Day, American Idiot (2004)
The opener, “American Idiot,” starts setting the tone, but once you get past that song and into the opening bang of “Jesus of Suburbia,” you’ve got a solid twenty minutes of polished ass-kicking punk-pop coming your way: the operatic nine minutes of “Suburbia” bleeds right into the three-chord kick to the face of “Holiday” and into the arena-rock chants of “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.” Billie Joe and the boys must have been popping some serious songwriting steroids when they were working on this album: these songs are muscular.
The Afghan Whigs, Gentlemen (1993)
Except for the dirge-like track five (“When We Two Parted”), the opening half of Gentlemen comes on like a spirited (read: drunk), soulful punch to the privates. I’m not sure what woman done lead Whig Greg Dulli wrong, but done him wrong she did, and Dulli wants to tell you all about it. This man’s got some serious rage and angst going on, the pain in his voice always threatening to — but never quite managing to — overpower the sharp songwriting. “Gentlemen,” “Debonair” and “Fountain and Fairfax” in particular get to me — enough so that I’m willing to overlook the relatively weak back half of the album.
My out-of-order leaked copy of Dave Matthews Band, Everyday (2001)
I somehow *ahem* managed to find myself with all of the tracks for Everyday, the album DMB made after initially dumping the now-infamous Lillywhite Sessions tracks (later reworked as the Busted Stuff album), several weeks before its actual release date. The tracks had a particular order prescribed, but I discovered that wasn’t the order the songs were in when I finally bought the album. And that’s unfortunate, because the track order for my leaked copies would have made for a stronger album. The album as I was listening to it before release started with the lone electric guitar riff (plus a little horn) of “So Right,” which was an appropriate to start an album which marked the first time the DMB used electric guitars in their music. (Supposedly, the first time producer Glen Ballard handed an electric to Matthews, that was the first time he’d ever played one.) The album as released starts with the funky “I Did It,” which still announced the new, more electric sound — but nowhere near as eloquently or clearly as that single guitar that opens “So Right.”
I still like action figures. I admit it. Yes, dammit, I’m a 36-year-old man who still digs action figures. My favorite present I got for Christmas last year was the two-pack of Superman and Batman figures based on the artwork of Ed McGuinness — of all the Superman figures I’ve ever owned, and that’s a decently high number, this one’s by far the coolest.
Also, and I think this fact has now been established beyond all doubt, I used to be into hair metal in the 80s and early 90s. But you know what? Everybody was into it back then. I feel no shame.
OK, well, only a little.
But even with my love for metal-lite and for small posable toys… I’m still somewhat disturbed by the concept of these Bon Jovi action figures.
Yes, you read that right. Bon. Jovi. Action. Figures.
There’s three scenarios I can envision that might have led to these action figures being produced, and none of the three of them will really help me sleep any better tonight. One: the people at McFarlane Toys did some market research and decided there was enough of a market for Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora dolls that it made financial sense to move forward with the project. Two: Todd McFarlane himself is enough of a Bon Jovi fan that he decided this was a project he wanted his company to put into action regardless of the potential profit involved. Three: Bon Jovi and Sambora really, really wanted to see themselves as action figures and paid McFarlane Toys to make it so.
However they came to be… I’m sorry, but these things are too lame even for me, and I’m usually not scared off by lame. Hell, I’ve been known to snuggle up in front of the fire on a cold night with a steaming hot mug of lame while wrapped in a warm blanket of goofy.
But this is where I draw the line of lame.
(You know, I’ve never really seriously considered getting a tattoo. Were I going to, the only symbol that’s ever meant enough to me to even consider getting emblazoned on my body forevermore is Superman’s S-shield. Well, I can’t do that, and you know why? Because Jon Bon Jovi has that same symbol on his right deltoid. Talk about lame — why would I possibly want to be ink brothers with this man, this handsome, internationally famous, multi-gazillionaire likely future Rock and Roll Hall of Famer who’s gotten to simulate sex with Cindy Crawford? I’m sure I could find better role models than that.)
My questions about the toys’ origins aside, my other big question is this: who’s actually going to buy these things? I mean, of course, besides people named Bon Jovi or Sambora. There can’t be that many people still that rabidly passionate about these guys, right? I mean, of course, outside of New Jersey…?
And then I remembered that yes, there are still quite a number of Bon Jovi-philes out there, as is made obvious in this documentary video (now several years old, but still pertinent, I feel):
There was a time when I really, really, really didn’t much like Alanis Morrisette. Couldn’t stand her, to be truthful. But that dislike, if I were being brutally honest with myself, wasn’t because of Morissette herself but rather because of her song “You Oughta Know” and the reaction from the media (and no small number of fans) to the song. Such a tremendous hullaballoo was made out of the fact that this woman (gasp! a woman!) was singing about these aggressively sexual acts in the song as if no female singer-songwriter had ever addressed issues of sex, jealousy, rage and revenge before. The frenzy surrounding that one song (and the near incessant radio and video play the song received for most of 1995) really turned me off of her music… even after I realized how catchy the rest of Jagged Little Pill was.  The more albums she sold and the more spins that record got and the more magazine covers she turned up on, the stronger my hatred for her grew.
(All of that distaste for her on my part was formed before I developed the Popular Does Not Automatically Equal Suck theory I operate under these days. Ah, the folly of youth.)
But over the last ten years or so, as she her name has become less synonymous with that one song (and, well, as I grew older), I’ve mellowed more than a bit and started to kind of dig on her. Some of her songs are actually pretty groovy, and her voice manages to be both fragile and biting at the same time, and very vulnerable — even when I have no idea what the hell her lyrics are talking about, I always feel like she feels whatever it is she’s singing.
Tonight, though… tonight my respect for Ms. Morissette increased a hundredfold:
Well done, Alanis. Well done.
(It occurred to me while listening to this song, though, that it seemed like a cover Tori Amos should have done.)
 Still, infernally catchy or not, please don’t get me started about the almost complete lack of irony in the song “Ironic.”
Time now to play a fun little game I call “Going Through My Referrer Logs To See Which Search Engine Phrases Brought Users To My Site In The Last Week.” Honestly, though? I think I need to come up with a better name for the game than that. I like to feel that I’m doing a public service here, providing answers to those questions that Google seems to think I’m uniquely capable of answering. It’s a responsibility I take very seriously, and I’ll do my best to help soothe the mental anguish and sleepless nights these answerless questions must be causing to the questioners.
opening band for adrenalize tour
This one came to me in several different forms, all from former metalheads like myself desperately yearning to know which band or bands opened up for Def Leppard on their Adrenalize tour in 1992. Well, Google led you people to the right place. I’m gonna give you the answer right now. You ready, my fellow headbangers? Here goes:
No one. That’s why you’re having such trouble finding the answer. Def Leppard didn’t have an opening act that time out…they played a three-plus hour set without any supporting bands on the bill. You shelled out all of that money hard-earned by busing tables and selling pot for a 100%-all-damn-Lep set, bay-bee. Did you wanna get rocked, the Lep asked you? Oh yes, you answered. You wanted your asses rocked into near cataonia by a three-hour syringe full of pure grade-A Leppard.
(This was the case for the American portions of their tour, anyway; it’s possible the answer’s different in other parts of the world.)
A Love Song for Bobby Long spoiler
You want a spoiler for the mostly-wretched movie A Love Song for Bobby Long? OK, here goes: John Travolta sucked mightily in it. How’s that do you? OK, fine, here’s a bonus spoiler for you: yes, it’s true — you do get a nice side-shot of Scarlett Johansson’s boob.
give me a warm enema daddy
Um. Sorry, can’t help you there.
“inflated boy” superhero
My best guess here is that someone was trying to find out some more information about Chuck “Bouncing Boy” Taine, storied member of the Legion of Super-Heroes (and nowadays featured on the cartoon about said futuristic teens) and role model for fat kids the world over. Well, unknown person, now that you know his actual name (though I honestly don’t think “Inflated Boy” is any less ridiculous than “Bouncing Boy”), you can read up on his heroic legacy at the Wikipedia. Always remember: Chuck might have been the fat kid in the Legion, but he still ended up with a smokin’ hot wife…two of ‘em, technically.
layer cake+what is his name
Another one which came to me in a number of permutations, all of which wanted to know the name of Daniel Craig’s character in the excellent film Layer Cake. I don’t think this is a spoiler, so I’m going to give you the answer: we don’t know. And not only don’t we know, we’re not supposed to know. The character himself said as much: “If you knew my name, you’d be as clever as me.” Whatever the character’s real name was (he’s referred to in the credits only as “XXXX”), it wasn’t revealed within the movie itself or the novel on which the movie was based. Any site which tries to tell you his name, unless it comes directly from J.J. Connelly, the novel’s author, is lying to you. This particular bit of information is one you’re going to have to get used to not knowing.
fuzzy storytelling guy
Yup, that’s me! (Though I hope the “fuzzy” refers more to my propensity for hirsuteness than to my storytelling techniques, else I’ve got a problem.)
actress who did not wear panties to the oscar
Can’t help you there, either, though I must admit I’m more than a little curious to know the answer myself.
im into fuzzy rabbits. kind of smart i have a big
Ladies and gentlemen, this week’s winner for the Search Keyword Which Causes Me The Most Mental Discomfort Award!
During the late eighties and early nineties, I shelled out far too much money on watching far too many hair metal bands play live.  I saw concerts from most of the major players on the hair-metal scene between the time I was 15 and 22. Please note that what follows below aren’t necessarily my five favorite hair-metal bands — not even close, honestly — but the five shows that I enjoyed the most.
5. Mötley Crüe with Warrant, Mobile Civic Center, Mobile, Alabama, 1989.
I was never a huge Crüe fan — their campy faux-devil-worship early in their career really left a bad taste in my mouth — but this show was from the tour supporting their Dr. Feelgood album, by far my favorite of theirs (not coincidentally their most mainstream-pop album). And besides that, I wanted to go see a Crüe show for the sheer spectacle of it. Their concerts were supposed to be pyrotechnically-infused wonderlands of light and really, really loud sound. They didn’t disappoint, either, blowing my eardrums and burning my eyes with all of the many, many, many explosions. The show also featured the sight of Tommy Lee’s drum riser being hydraulically lifted fifty feet in the air and then floated out over the first few rows of the audience; a Speedo-clad Lee then descended a rope from the elevated riser down into the ecstatic crowd. Definitely an entertaining show.
This concert was also the first time I was conscious of a band using piped-in pre-recorded vocals to augment their sound — Warrant, then on their first major tour, sounded just a little bit too good, if you know what I’m saying.
4. Warrant, The Rock-It Club, Tampa, Florida, 1992.
The second time I saw Warrant, however, it was all them. (Yes, Warrant is on this list twice. Deal.) This show was a surprise show at the now-defunct Rock-It Club, which at the time was the rock club in Tampa. Warrant had been recording their third album, Dog Eat Dog, in Tampa (a couple of the guys actually shopped sometimes in the record store where I worked), and this show was to test out some of the new material they’d been working on. The guys sounded tight and seemed like they were really having a blast playing in front of people — I’d imagine that they didn’t get to play out much when recording — and seemed really happy with the new material. (The album absolutely tanked when it came out; between the time I saw this show and the album’s release date, grunge had made bands like Warrant culturally irrelevant.)
The best part of this show, though, had nothing to do with Warrant. Late in the show, my buddy Bill elbowed me and directed my attention to a chubby, mustachioed guy standing about twenty feet to his right.
“Dude, isn’t that Ron Jeremy?”
It damn sure was: The Hedgehog himself. Bill and I both tore our attention away from the rock onstage to go shake the man’s hand and tell him we were big fans of his work. He was very gracious about the whole thing; only later did it occur to me to wonder where his hand might have been before we shook it.
3. Def Leppard, Hampton, Virginia, 1992.
This show was the first date on the Lep’s Adrenalize tour; six friend of mine and I drove from Tampa to Virginia (about 16 hours of driving each way) just to be at the first show on the tour. Personally, I could’ve waited until they played somewhere closer, but my buddies were just tremendous Lepheads (yeah, I know) and it being at that particular show was really important to them. So we made the drive, and it certainly turned out to be a great concert: this was during their years of playing in the round and they didn’t even bother with an opening act, preferring instead to come out and rock our socks off for three full hours instead.
2. Queensrÿche with Suicidal Tendencies, State Palace Theater, St. Petersburg, Florida, 1992.
Completely disregard Suicidal Tendencies. I didn’t like them even a smidge before this show, and I hated having to sit through them. They were absolutely terrible (or perhaps just absolutely Not My Thing). But as much as I hated them, that’s how much I loved Queensrÿche.
The Empire tour, in addition to supporting one my favorite metal albums ever, was the tour during which Queensrÿche (always one of the most intelligent and literate of the metal bands) performed the entirety of their landmark concept album Operation: Mindcrime start to finish. So they came out, played a bunch of songs I really liked, then played the whole Mindcrime album (complete with conceptual video footage on the giant movie screens behind the stage) and then played some more songs I really liked after. And they sounded fantastic — Geoff Tate’s piercing vocals were every bit as impressive live as on record. Just a fantastic show. Fantastic enough to blot the memory of Suicidal Tendencies from my brain.
1. Guns ‘n’ Roses with Soundgarden, Thunderdome, St. Petersburg, Florida, 1992.
Oh, man. Just… oh, man. This show (part of the Use Your Illusion tour) was not just the best metal concert I’ve seen, but the best concert, period. Even better than Neil Diamond. (Seriously.)
We missed most of Soundgarden since my friend Bill, who was the only Tampa native in our group, promised he could easily get us to the Thunderdome (as Tropicana Field was then called) — but then got so shitfacedly drunk before we even left the house that he couldn’t remember how we were supposed to get there. (Bill missed most of the GnR show because of his repeated trips to the bathroom to hurl.)
And man, what a show he missed. The only way the set list could have been better would have been for Axl Rose to call me up the morning of the show and ask which songs I wanted them to play that night. They did every song I knew they’d play; they did every song that I thought they might play; and they played every song that I loved but assumed there was no way in hell they’d do. And even though they’d had an opening act, they still played for three-and-a-half straight hours — and they rocked every one of those 210 minutes. Axl’s vocal gymnastics, Slash’s blistering guitar (the most impressive guitar performance I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen Eddie Van Halen)… oh, man. Just… oh, man.
 Funny how even though the term “hair metal” was so derogatory to those bands who played mainstream pop-infused metal and looked pretty while doing it, it seems now to be the accepted term for that particular slice of the late-eighties musical pie. I suppose the hair-metal bands who still tour, now playing in front of small clubs rather than packed arenas, might still consider the term derogatory, but their protestations just aren’t heard by many people anymore.
I’m a 35-year-old man. I have a family, a good career, a nice house in the suburbs. Regardless of how I may feel inside sometimes, I haven’t really been the fat, greasy, nerdy geek I was as a teenager for a long, long time. So I feel like I shouldn’t really still like anything by Weird Al Yankovic, should I? I mean, c’mon… shouldn’t I have outgrown him by now?
You certainly can’t say that Weird Al doesn’t know who his target audience is and just how to play to them — while I have absolutely no data to back this theory up, I’d imagine that geeks in their thirties who’ve grown up with Al make up an even bigger part of his audience than the geeks in their teens who would seem to be the most natural fit for Al’s shtick. Weird Al happened to luck into a unique situation and has ridden it to a career far longer and more successful than I think anyone (including Al himself) ever could have imagined: a large segment of the nerdy crowd who latched on to him originally grew up to use the skills and interests which got them mocked as kids to become reasonably affluent adults. And many of those adults are still Weird Al fans, so he has a dedicated, well-off following who’ve been with him (even if, like me, it’s just occasionally and somewhat passively) for twenty years.
There’s something about the video I wanted to point out, because if I’m gonna be a big geek about it I might as well go all the way: I paused the clip to check out Al’s “top eight friends” on his MySpace page. Completely unsurprisingly, his top friends include Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Pee-Wee Herman, Screech from Saved By The Bell, Frodo Baggins, Napoleon Dynamite and one I can’t read. But then there’s also “Tom” — the creator of MySpace, the guy who every single user gets by default when they create their account… and even moreso than the nerd shoutouts listed above, a very, very nice visual way of indicating that this guy has no real friends. It’s that kind of subtle attention to detail (and this particular detail will only be visible on your screen for less than two seconds, if that) that I appreciate, and something Al’s always really done well — when someone puts the effort into crafting details you’re either going to have to work hard to catch or possibly never catch at all, that’s usually a damn good sign that the crafter really and truly loves what they’re doing.