The Gmail Project

Since Google has graciously began giving out e-mail accounts with over 2 gigs of storage space I have concocted a plan to share the groovy tunes that I know I have, and I’m sure frequent readers of Brewster’s Millions share.

I’ve created a secret Gmail account in which those deemed worthy enough can begin sharing music via MP3s and other compressed forms.

The idea started backed when a bunch of blogging friends and I started talking about music. I realized that we all shared some common interests, but also often referenced bands that I had never heard of. Since music is insanely expensive, and some of the friend’s lived across the ocean it seemed difficult to enjoy these musilogical musings without going broke in the process. Thus the gmail thingy as we affectionately called it was born.

It worked like a charm. Now when one of us has a song we particularly dig, we throw it to the shared Gmail account. We can then download, listen, and if we dig it go out and purchase the album.

The process isn’t really to be the new Napster or Limewire service, but to share music we love. It’s also not about getting free music, but rather opening each other up to new sounds, which when dug, will bring us to new purchases.

So record industry types, if you come across this, please don’t despair. I have no need to start up a big music stealing business. Sure a few songs will be swapped, but in the end more music will be bough and your pockets will be lined.

If you dig the idea, and want to share the music, send me an e-mail at brewcritic@gmail.com

Movie Review: Whispering Corridors

Poor Hur Eun-young (Mi-yeon Lee) has been having difficulties ever since she started teaching at her old school. The students don’t respect her as an authority figure, the teachers still look at her as a student, and unlike all of her fellow peers she actually has some sympathies for what it is like to feel the pressures of being a young girl in South Korea. Oh, and people keep dropping like bloody flies around her.

The film begins with Mrs. Park, a teacher at the all-girl school, finding something disturbing in a yearbook. She then runs frantically through the hallways, scared out of her wits, before she calls Eun-young and mysteriously tells her that Jin-ju is still around, still attending the school. She then drops the phone and is strangled to death by an unseen person wearing the school uniform.

This mysterious killer takes Mrs. Park’s body and moves it outside to make it look like a suicide hanging. Early the next morning two completely different students, the pretty, outgoing art student Ji-oh (Gyu-ri Kim) and the less pretty, shy Jae-yi (Kang-hie Choi) arrive at school early for they have been chosen this week as class clerks, which means they have to arrive early and clean the room. Upon entering the classroom they discover Kim Jung-sook (Ji-hye Yun) is already there. The three form something of a friendship which will grow and change as the film progresses. Ji-oh, upon walking outside discovers Mrs. Park’s body hanging outside.

All of the girls are round up and made to promise they will not talk about the incident, and specifically not spread any rumors about it.

Of course the girls do talk about it and begin to speculate that it was not suicide but murder. Mrs. Park was a notoriously mean and hateful teacher who seemed to take great pleasure in punishing her students. Perhaps a particularly hated student went off the edge and murdered Park in retribution. Those rumors turn to speculation that it could have been Jung-sook as she was a particular favorite for punishment by Park, not a particularly good student, has few friends, and was at the school earlier than anyone else.

Eun-young befriends our three protagonists and begins sniffing out foul play herself, as she is continually reminded of the death of her high school friend, Jin-ju a few years earlier on those very school grounds.

The mystery deepens, the bodies pile up and the plot gets confusing.

I’ll be honest here, I had a very hard time following just exactly what the heck was happening. This is not particularly uncommon for me, especially in mysteries where knowing who did what to whom is almost always vitally important. I don’t mind it so much because I’m almost always clueless as to who-dunnit until the movie tells me during the final scene.

The thing is I’m really lousy at remembering character names, and unless the actor is someone well known to me faces and actions get mixed up in my head. A film like Whispering Corridors only compounds this confusion. The unfamiliar Korean names render them impossible for me to remember. And the unknown actors have a hard time standing out in my head (and when it is an all girl cast all with the same long, black hair clothed in the same school-girl outfits you can forget it.)

The confusion is compounded by the plot of the film which is full of flashbacks, useless clues and of red herrings. Like many mysteries, the film is designed to confuse the viewer a little so that it can surprise us in the last scene.

Visually the film takes quite a few cues from US slasher films circa the 1980s. There are lots of stop-motion cuts, weird fade-outs, and shots of the killer from angles that obscure his/her face. It has also taken a few pages out of the Dario Argento film book, especially with its use of sound for disturbing effect.

In reality it isn’t particularly scary. The deaths mostly look cheesy and belong to a different era. Though director Ki-Hyung Park tries his best to create a creepy mood, he can only manage a few good moment of eeriness with broad shots of the super long hallways linking all of the classrooms together.

It works best, not as a horror film, but as social commentary. I don’t know a thing about Korean school systems, but if they are anything like depicted in this film, then they need some serious reorganization.

All of the teachers take sadistic pleasure from abusing and harassing the students. Several times we see teachers not only verbally abusing their students but even hitting them, hard, on the face and kicking at them. One teacher in particular, nick-named Mad Dog, unleashes upon his students in nearly every scene. When he is not pitting them against each other academically (going as far as to say they are enemies in the war for the best grades) he is physically abusing them and coming onto them sexually.

What is particularly revolting about these scenes is that none of the students seem surprised by the actions, and the administration turns a blind eye. Even Eun-young who is a good hearted woman and wants to make social change in the system, jokes at the Mad Dogs advances saying his nick-name instead should be “pervert.”

Behind the death toll and mystery lies a cry for help from the students. It is an interesting juxtaposition between this and American movies that deal with the high school experience. Where American films generally deal with the effects of social standing and the fight to become “popular” Whispering Corridors shows how in a world where only good grades count the actions are also less than exemplary.

Whispering Corridors generally fails as an excellent horror/mystery film, but it does manage to raise important questions about the educational system, friendship and how we treat our fellow beings.

The Office: Season 3, Episode 2 – “The Convention”

b0009vbtp001_sx140_sclzzzzzzz_.jpgLast week’s opener really got my hopes up for another stellar season of The Office. I was doubly looking forward to actually watching a full season from start to finish instead of sporadically catching episodes as I have done for the last two seasons. Unfortunately this week’s episode, “The Convention” failed to live up to my expectations. Oh certainly I’ll keep watching, but my dream of a perfect season has already died.

It starts off with a whiz-bang having Michael come in talking of adopting a child after having watched Angelina Jolie on Oprah. He quickly gives up the idea after learning the application process could cost upwards of $1,000 and the waiting list is a good eight month.

“I don’t even know if I’ll want a baby in eight months.”

After a bit of bartering, Pam and Michael agree to have a child together if both remain childless in thirty years.

“If I haven’t had a baby in ten years then you and I…”
“No Michael.”
“In twenty years?”
“No Michael.”
“In thirty years?”
“Ok.”

The rest of the episode centers around a paper convention pitting the Scranton office against the Stamford one, at least in Michael’s eyes. He is immediately jealous of the relationship that Jim has developed with Josh, the manager of the Stamford office, or as Michael says, “the poor man’s Michael Scott as he is known around my condo.”

Josh does get off a line that he would let Michael work as a salesman if his office absorbs the Scranton one. An interesting if mostly innocuous remark that may serve as a means to get Jim back into the company with the rest of the cast.

This is also one way to solve the whole two office dilemma. By holding a convention they can merge the two offices, making a more cohesive storyline than trying to keep up with multiple settings. Although certainly they can’t keep holding conventions and it still created two settings having a side plot involving Jan.

Jan has her first first date in nine years with a cartoonist friend of Kellys, and Angela is upset at Dwight for leaving her for Philadelphia.

“Looks like someone took the slow train to Philly,” Angela jibes, “which translates to she’s a slut!”

The blind date goes poorly, but as a possible interesting sideline Toby seems to have taken a shine to Pam, though is to shy to approach her about it.

In Philadelphia, the rest of the office tries to drum up business, while Michael invites everyone to a party back in his room. Nobody actually seems to come to the part except Jim who suddenly stops playing the prankster and is suddenly as kind to Michael as anyone ever has been. Even going as far to admit he left Scranton because of Pam. It is as touching as it is weird to see somebody opening up to Michael.

The episode wasn’t bad, in fact it had some very nice moments, and the writers definitely seem to be trying to create some interesting story lines. The line about the two offices merging may prove interesting fodder for later episodes, and the Pam, Jim, Toby triangle may also open up new drama. Some interesting ideas, but they also managed to slow the episode down. In trying to lay down some strands to expand the series, they bogged this particular episode down.

The show closes with its best gag: Michael turns on a black light only to expose many large stains on this bed. Dwight surmises that it is either “blood, urine or semen.”

“God, I hope it’s urine.” Michael concludes.

My Name is Earl: Season 2, Episode 2 – “Jump For Joy”

earlThis week’s episode was different for two reasons: it didn’t involve a single item from the list, and it wasn’t particularly funny. It was also a direct continuation of last week’s episode, which may be totally different, but since I watched last season in non-sequential reruns I’m not sure about that.

Earl begins the episode by telling us that he begins most mornings thinking about the list, but on this morning he was thinking about other things, mainly going to court to help get Joy out of jail – then he recaps the events that happened in last week’s episode, landing Joy in jail in the first place.

The idea to create episodes that don’t involve the list seems like a decent one. The show is a popular one and it seems quite possible that the list could run dry before the show runs out of episodes, plus the concept of writing certain wrongs could become tiresome more quickly than the producers would like. But if tonight’s episode is any indication of how it will go without a list, Earl had better start thinking about his past mistakes more often.

The judge sets Joy’s bail at one million dollars due to this being her third strike. In flashback number one for the night (or two if you count the opening recap) we see that Joy once tried to make counterfeit money by copying bills at a big copy center like Kinkos. Strike number two occurred when she was being fingerprinted for that crime and struck the officer due to him breaking her newly minted fingernails.

Randy, as usual isn’t concerned with the events of the day, but with a walnut – he wants to see if the judge will crack it with his judge hammer. Amazingly, the judge obliges, even after tossing Joy out of court.

So, a million dollar bail is set making it a cool $100,000s needed for a bondsman.

Earl no longer has that kind of money, but Randy makes a helpful list of folks they can borrow it from – Richie Rich, the Beverly Hillbillies and the like – but the list of fictional characters is written on a Chubby’s Pork bag, and Earl thinks he might be able to borrow the cash from Chubby himself.

Chubby, played in full-on sleaze mode circa Striptease by Burt Reynolds, relents to the money request, but only if Earl can bring back his favorite dancer, who happens to be Catalina.

Turns out Catalina loved being a dancer, but her unusual method of jumping up and down was hazardous to local citizens – an old man died of a heart attack from watching her “assets” go boingy-boing. Thus she reserved herself to a life of cleaning motel rooms.

Ever the helpful lot, Earl and Randy (who can’t seem to think straight after earl mentions Catalina being half naked) track down the dead guys family and it turns out the old man was a slave driver in a sweat shop. His death has brought along Dorothy killing the wicked witch hope to the sweat shop workers (for the son brought in a fan) and everything is better.

Catalina agrees to dance prompting Randy to ponder “which half’s going to be naked – I hope it is the front half.” But all doesn’t go well when Catalina finds out her dancing will get Joy out of jail. Catalina refuses to, as she puts it “jump for Joy” in what has to be the cheesiest clever pun in the history of television.

Joy agrees to apologize for all the wrongs she has committed against Catalina in hopes that she will agree to the dance. But as usual Joy can’t play nice and the apology turns into a cat-fight over which of the too is hotter.

Somehow Joy convinces the judge to release her for a one-night Chubby dance in order to raise bail money. Joy gets drunk to calm her nerves and instead of dancing she pukes all over the front row.

In the end Catalina saves the day and agrees to dance – not for Joy, whom she still loathes, but for Earl and his quest to make peoples lives better.

Though in the episode, Earl was unable to scratch something off his list, the episode still revolved around him trying to help people out (in this case getting Joy out of jail, and Catalina back to dancing.) Causing me to ask what’s the point of moving away from the list if all you’re going to do is set up the same type of situations. Without the list Earl seems a little unfocused. The show focused even more on juvenile gags (witness Randy’s long gag with Catalina’s half nakedness) and less on any moral center involving karma.

When Did It Get This Bad?

loser.jpgI’ve been thinking a lot lately about going to Oklahoma for a month or two and working with my father. He would pay me in cash which means I’d take home about $400 a week. Not a bad bit for doing manual labor.

The thing is I live in what would be a small Midwestern cow town were it not for the giant university sitting on their grounds. Indiana University comes with 30 odd thousand students, plus professors, faculty, staff, and all of the miscellaneous companies that support such a population. So there are plenty of malls, restaurants, bars, and book stores, but very few other corporations. For the few decent places that employ here there’s that 30,000 pool of fresh faces with degrees (or soon to be degrees) in whatever specialized field a company would need.

Which means finding decent work is difficult. I am either under qualified or completely over qualified. Most of the jobs I could get right now would pay in the $10/hour range making my take home pay around $250-300/week.

Can you see how doing grunt work for my dad suddenly looks appealing?

I was very much considering it and had made up my mind to go when my folks told me they were heading out on vacation to Colorado and invited me along. I figured I’d take a free vacation and then spend a few weeks making some extra cash. With my severance checks still flowing in, an extra few hundred a week would pay off the credit card and make life much easier.

The only problem was that they were leaving this Friday which put me in a bit of a rush to get there, but without any obligations that didn’t seem like too much of a challenge.

Until I talked to my wife.

We had talked about me going out and working a few times, but the immediacy of the trip hit her hard. Plus, she said, we had planned a little birthday party this weekend and I just had to come to that.

loser11.jpgGiven the choice between a small party with friends and a free trip to Colorado I was leaning towards the mountains. But I had to play it cool and I tried to make it look like a hard choice.

Then I realized the book fair was the weekend after this one. Annually the Red Cross holds a weekend book fair. They have a huge warehouse full of books, and they are darn cheap. First night you pay a small cover and get major discounts. Next day it is free to get in and all books are half off. The next day it is five bucks for all the books you can stuff into a grocery bag. And then the next day you take what you want for free.

How could I pass up that. Well, maybe I could just send Amy with a list of books I’d like to have.

Ultimately, I decided not to go. Not because I’d miss my wife’s birthday party, nor that I’d not be able get my hands on some choice books, but because the season premier of Lost is next Wednesday. If I went to Colorado I might miss it, and that is simply unacceptable.

This is how low my life has sunk. I’ll give up stacks of cash and free vacations to not miss a television show.

House, MD: Season 3, Episode 4 – “Lines in the Sand”

b0009wpm1q01_pe32_house-md-season-one_sclzzzzzzz_.jpgI keep adding shows to my list of reviews which, at some point, is going to bite me on the buttocks. And that right hard. But for now, I don’t mind doing little reviews of the shows I watch, when I watch them.

House is a show I started watching late last season. And for most of that it was more filler than anything I was particularly interested in. If it was on and I was bored I watched it with detached interest, but if I missed it, I didn’t really miss it. As per usual with my writings on television these days, it was the summer that made me a fan.

I was anxious for this season to start and then I became nervous after the preview for last week’s episode thinking House had already jumped the shark and landed in X-file territory. It didn’t and we all were relieved.

What I like about House is that it is a mystery that pretends to be a medical drama (or is that a medical drama pretending to be a mystery?) Each episode brings us an patient with unexplained symptoms. House and his team spend the episode trying every test imaginable to figure out the problem. Hugh Laurie, as House does a magnificent job playing the cantankerous doctor who just happens to be brilliant. Truly he is the reason to watch.

Tonight’s mysterious illness lied in a young autistic boy who suddenly begins screaming and is seemingly in pain.

01.jpgEverybody but House suspects that there is nothing to be worried about and that it was simply an autistic boy acting out. But House makes the team run a series of tests anyway.

The tests come back negative, but the kid coughs up fluid.

In a very enjoyable sub-plot, Cuddy replaced House’s blood stained carpet to which House complains and promises to never enter his office again until the blood-carpet is returned. It is a great showdown between the two and one that seems so silly and petty in its foolishness it would be hilarious were they both not so serious about it all.

Also the young jail-bait hottie from last week is back. She pretended to have the same chest symptoms of her father so that House would examine her (naked) chest. House plays along in his own little way and the girl continues to come to the hospital, and call him repeatedly until Cuddy is forced to issue a restraining order.

In a nice, intimate, and helpful moment, House, in order to get the autistic lad to breath in a sleeping agent, begins sucking on the tube himself and then putting it to the boys face. By doing this, the boy learns to trust House, and House gets high. But in his usual manner, House destroys the moment by telling the boy’s parents that it is a case of monkey see/monkey do, relating their son to nothing more than a primate.

Throughout the episode, House and his team set up shop in a variety of places including the main ward of the hospital, Dr. Wilson’s office, a conference room reserved by Cuddy and eventually Cuddy’s office. All of which is part of House’s plot to make Cuddy give in and give him his carpet back.

We discover that House has an affinity for the child for he never has to deal with all of the social niceties that House deplores so much.

03.jpgDuring a basic biopsy of the autistic child’s underarm they discover that the cells located there are in fact liver cells. This brings up many other issues such as the possibility of cancer and more tests are run.

The tests lead the team to believe the kid may have ingested something harmful. House immediately suspects the parents of poisoning, but this is ruled out through some tests. This lead to accidental ingestion and the team scours the house to see what may be a threat without anyone knowing it.

Sure enough there is jimson week on location and House takes pictures of it and various other items in the yard to the boy. Without treating him like a sick kid, House demands the boy show him what he has been eating, but the boy only points at the sandbox.

Finally having enough of the Lolita, House breaks up with her using lines from Casablanca. Looking into her eyes while doing his best Bogart impression, House notices her milky tears – a symptom of some type of simple disease – to which he subscribes a drug and leaves her alone. As often happens this small symptom leads to House discovering the large problem in the main patient. After looking into the autistic boys eyes, house discovers small worms. Worms that would be received through eating sand and could have cause all of his other symptoms.

The worms are removed and the boy is well again.

The bloody carpet is returned.

Man, House is a difficult show to cover. It has so many complexities that a plot analysis gets tedious, and I’m still unsure how to cover it critically. We’ll see if I can keep it up.

Movie Review: The Red Shoes

The Red ShoesI suppose it is only natural that Asian horror should become as trite and bloated as its American counter parts. Eventually they will most assuredly start aping themselves – mining their old material for what struck gold – and trying to recreate the old magic, only to fail miserably.

The Red Shoes isn’t as bad as all that, but it sure feels like a movie made upon audience testing, and computer print outs at what has made the genre such a popular thing. It contains just about everything a good Asian horror movie should.

Inanimate object that take on creepy spiritual significance? Check

Young child becomes enamored and endangered by said object? Check

Single mom recently divorced, living in dilapidated and perhaps haunted apartment? Check.

Gruesome, unexplained murders? Check

Gruesome, unexplained murder that went unrevenged? Check

Long, black haired girl in desperate need of a chiropractor? Check

Buckets of blood? Double check.

Yet for all the textbook reasons why it should be an excellent creep-o-rama, it never really manages to pull itself off. At least part of the reason why Asian horror has become so successful both financially and artistically is that it managed to take a haggard genre and revitalize it with freshness. The Red Shoes does nothing new, but takes what has worked in the past and redoes it.

For all that, it’s not half bad. The production values are quite excellent and it does steal from some of the best horror movies this decade so I guess it would have to be pretty good. It’s the type of thing where, had I not seen all of the films it rips off I’d probably have loved it.

Let’s slip into the plot for a moment. Sun-jae (Hye-su Kim) catches her boorish husband boinking some girl and decides to take herself and daughter Tae-su (Yeon-ah Park) away from the adulterer and they move into a run down old apartment (did somebody say Dark Water?)

Later, Sun-jae finds a pair of pink shoes (I know the flick is called Red Shoes but the shoes are most definitely pink – this is either a bad translation or a literary device – they’re red because of all the blood! – get it?!?) and she takes the shoes home. Before she knows it she is attached to those shoes enough to get violently angry with anyone, including Tae-su who tries to touch them. (Inanimate object takes on spooky personality – did anyone see Ringu, the Ring or the Ring Virus?)

Sun-jae’s friend gets a hankering for some pink –er red – shoes and steals them. Quickly she meets a bloody doom. There are the obligatory flashbacks showing why the shoes are now evil (I’ll only say the previous owner never got proper revenge, and so the shoes soul (get it?) must take that revenge on themselves.) Along the way we get homages (or rip-offs) of the Eye, Ju-On, the Ring series, Dark Water and just about every Asian horror film I’ve seen.

Like most Asian cinema the lighting is eerie and very well done. The acting hits all its cylinders and most of the production qualities are quite good. It just isn’t particularly original which makes it kind of a bore.

It’s just plain difficult to muster up any fear over a pair of pink heels. You might say the same thing over a television set, but for anyone who’s ever watched Mama’s Family you know TV can be as scary as hell. But pink freaking shoes, there aint nothing horrifying about that, except maybe bad taste.

It is a good introductory film for Asian horror as it takes a lot of what works and applies it to one picture. But for anyone who has spent a good amount of time with Miike, Park and Nakata, then the Red Shoes will feel a little too been there, done that.

Movie Review: Lady Vengeance

ladyvengeanceForget Kill Bill.

Screw Quentin Tarantino.

There is one filmatic revenge series to obsess over and it doesn’t come from the mighty shores of California. Chan-wook Park’s final installment to his vengeance trilogy, Lady Vengeance, has just been released on US DVD and it is a awesome way to end the series, indeed.

Where Tarantino gave us two films full of exquisite style and very little substance, Park finds time to explore meaning between the blood letting.

Where Tarantino created an amazing genre-bending exploitation masterpiece, Park has made a violent, stylish trilogy that is more than just eye candy.

That’s all the Kill Bill references I’ll make, I promise.

Lady Vengeance (which was forever named Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, until the good people at Tartan decided it needed a little spiffing) is a tad slower, and less action oriented than the other two in the trilogy, but it is the final in the series and like Kill Bill Vol. 2 (darn it, ok I swear that was the last one, for real this time) the series needs a little grounding.

Lee Geum-Ja (Yeong-ae Lee) is sent to prison at the age of 19 for the abduction and murder of a small child. Truth in fact she did not murder or abduct the boy (she merely helped keep him) but takes the blame for her accomplice, Mr. Baek (Min-sik Choi) because he threatens her own child with violent harm if she does not.

She spends 13 years in prison for those crimes and while there she makes good with everybody. She is the perfect inmate – she finds religion, helps out, cares for an elderly inmate, and even donates an organ – all the while she meticulously plots her revenge.

Upon release she uses her former cellmates to help get her revenge, and extols it in true Chan-wook Park fashion.

Although served deathly cold, the revenge is not so sweet. In fact it is quite bitter and does not relieve Geum-Ja of guilt like she thought it would. Like all of the films in the trilogy, Lady Vengeance delves deep into the consequence of being wronged and how finding vengeance reaps more than it sows.

The film is astonishingly beautiful. Bathed in gorgeous color and light that makes even the most blood soaked scenes look as delectable as the desirous confections Geum-Ja is so good at making.

With only four films under his belt, Park has proven he is an artist of the finest measure.

As mentioned, the film is slightly more subdued than the others. There are no liver donations as performed by hoodlums, no ironic circle jerks , and certainly no massive fist-fights as performed in small hallways, but what it lacks in extremism it finds in emotional gravitas.

Yeong-ae Lee is to Chan-wook Park as Uma Thruman is to Quentin Tarantino (oh forget it, you can’t review Lady Vengeance without referencing Kill Bill, at least not in this house.) Gawd just looking in her eyes would make a cold stone weep. She plays the role of Geum-ja with an intensity of a thousands suns, yet manages to keep an eternal sadness just below the surface. It is a performance worthy of honor.

For once Park has ended a vengeance film with something resembling a happy ending. No, the vengeance isn’t really vindicated, nor is Geum-ja satisfied, but unlike the preceding films, the violence and vengeance seems to stop here. And that seems to be enough.

It may not be as gut-wrenchingly satisfying an ending as we get in Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance or Oldboy, but it is one that rings the finality to the trilogy, one that serves as an answer to the questions brought up by all three films.

Random Shuffle – 09/26/06

nod-to-bob.jpg“Boots of Spanish Leather” – Martin Simpson
From A Nod to Bob: An Artists’ Tribute to Bob Dylan on His 60th BirthdayFranklyI’ve never heard of Martin Simpson, but being a Dylan fan I got this tribute disk. Dylan is one of the few artists that have been covered by just about everyone who has ever sung a song. He’s also one of the fewer whose covers are often better than the originals.Sorry Bob, I love ya, but that voice can be improved upon.This version is much slower, and sadder than the most excellent Nanci Griffith cover version. It has its charm though. Simpson phrases the lyrics a little oddly, with lots of pauses and stops and then a rush to get to the end of the line before the next one starts. This creates kind of an interesting flow to the song, but does keep me from actually listening to the lyrics. Which isn’t all that weird for me since I often don’t pay attention to lyrics, but here I know the lyrics quite well but continue to find myself forgetting what the song is.

black_keys.jpg“The Lengths” – The Black Keys
From Rubber FactoryThe brother-in-law recently turned me onto the Black Keys as he has to many a good old rock n roll band. You see somewhere over the last decade I got lost in a sea of folk and bluegrass and alt.country acoustic instruments and forgot how to rock. Over the last many months I’ve tried to find my way back. Problem was that radio sucks and most of the electrified music I could find just kind of stunk. I’ve finally found a path called indie rock and have begun to dig walking my way along the path.And then I have to say this song is actually a pretty nice acoustical number. Sure there some electircal type guitar swinging, but for the most part it is a softer little number.

The beginning of this song reminds me immensely of some other tune that I can never remember. I get that nostalgic reminiscence going in my head and even sing the first line “baby…” but then this song changes and I can’t put my finger on my memory.

blackcrowesshakeyourmoneymaker.jpg“Seeing Things” – The Black Crowes
From Shake Your Money MakerI recently had an argument with a coworker (or is that ex-coworker since I no longer work there?) over whether the mix-tape was dead. Her point was making mix tapes went out with junior high and good riddance since it was an utterly juvenile practice.I actually agreed with the general premise that the mix tape was dead, but this has more to do with CD burning technology and mp3 players than any type of junior high play. Mix-taping was a craft, and a good one, that has died because no one knows what a freaking tape is anymore.But in the day a good tape could convey emotions you could never impart in real life, tell the person to whom the tape was going what kind of person you were, impart upon them all kinds of cool tunes and get their groove on all in one 90 minute piece of plastic.

Who now knows anything about the importance of the first and last songs on each side? The last song on side A may seem trivial since there is still side B to listen to, but if a person doesn’t have an automatic flip on their tape player that side A may be all they listen to, and thus last song side A may resonate a lot farther than first perceived.

What about segues? Sure now with all this digital technology its easy to splice two songs together and give them some fade in and out. But in the day all you had was the stop button and pause. An awful “kawack” between songs because you hit Stop poorly could totally kill the mood.

I could go on, and probably will someday, but you get the point. I rant about mix-tapes because this song was a pivotal one in a good friend’s mix tape to a lost love. By now the tangled web that was that love has gotten all mixed up. Was the tape made before they hooked up or after? Was it about the long term boyfriend from hell, or before he even existed? Who knows? But I do remember the tape and its significance.

262392-resized200.JPG“Ft. Worth Blues” – Steve Earle
From El Corazon Before I began dating the girl who became my wife, we spent a lot of time thinking and talking about dating. Well, that’s not entirely true, because we didn’t talk about it that much straight out, but there were undercurrents of what that would mean flowing all the time.You see at the time we lived a thousand miles apart or so. For while I toiled away in Tennessee she was spending a cold winter in Montreal, Canada. There was talk of her going to graduate school at the University of Tennessee and I figured that proximity would allow for all sorts of romantical escapades.Problem was the talks of Tennessee turned into a reality of Indiana which convoluted those escapades a great deal. The heart subdued the mind and we eventually did date, fall in love and marry. However it was during this time that I heard a quizzical little song containing a lovely lyric that went something like:

“Oklahoma’s alright when I’m in Montreal”

Oklahoma being the place I was raised and Montreal being where the girl was, this lined seemed a bit prophetic.

Unfortunately I was driving when I heard the song and the name slipped past me like a passing car. I later e-mailed the radio station asking what the name of the song was, but by that time I couldn’t remember the precise lyric only its mentioning of the two locations. Their response was that it could be this Steve Earle song.

I quickly downloaded said song and realized they were wrong. The song stayed though and I’ve grown to love its lonesome, sadness on my own.

The song I was looking for, by the way, was “Some Things Gotta Hold On Me” by Steve Forbert.

rockin-the-suburbs.jpg“Annie Waits” – Ben Folds
From Rockin’ the Suburbs Lead piano in a rock group never sounds like a good idea. Sure Elton John pulled it off quite profoundly in the 70’s but then he got old and gave us “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.” Billie Joel sounded promising with “Piano Man” and then married Christie Brinkley and it was all over.Folds takes the idea and creates something (usually) interesting. I think what I like about him as a songwriter is that he doesn’t (usually) make the piano the focus of the song. Sure, it’s there and often pounding away, but so is the guitar and drums and it all sounds like a real rock unit, versus a singer songwriter who never learned to play an acoustic guitar.This one starts the ever excellent Suburbs album and carries this incredibly syncopated rhythm. I don’t know what the heck Annie is waiting for, but if it is good piano rock, she’s found it.

As always if ye belong to the music biz and wish for an mp3 to be taken down, contact me.

Time To Kill

crimsonroomwt7.gifOne of the things that’s happened to me since being unemployed, is that I’ve become madly addicted to games. Well, more addicted to games.

I’m kind of an old school style gamer in that I don’t really play anything new. The last game console I purchased was the original Playstation (and let’s be honest, I only bought a couple of games for it, and rarely played those – too much hassle constantly hooking it up). But I’m totally into old Nintendo and Super Nintendo games. My wife nags me that I have played The Legend of Zelda too many times (but really, you can’t play too many times – impossible). I’m always months or years behind new PC games. I still play Age of Empires II for pete’s sake.

I’m also periodically addicted to online games, and one group I’ve recently lost my mind to is little escape games. One of the best is the Crimson Room, and its sequels. Essentially you play a guy who wakes up in a little room. With the click of the mouse you explore the room finding various items that you will use to escape the room.

It is deceptively simple, and quit complicated. It will also drive you absolutely made to try and figure out what the heck to do with a metal rod, a CD case, and a stinking battery. But it is too addicting to do anything but play (or cheat by Googling the game and then playing.)

So here you are, click here to play the game. Don’t forget to play the other rooms if you enjoyed this one.