Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Fun Teenager Ketchup Party (The Follow-Up)

I'll bet you four thought I forgot about this. In case anyone wasn't reading for the introduction, the rules went as follows:
Rules:

1. You guys tell me what kind of music you want.

2. In a few days, I'll post one mp3 for each of you.

You can't request music by band name or genre. You have to describe, in terms of color, mood, texture, taste, or any other creative way you can think of, what you're looking for in a song, and I'll do the best I can with what I have. Yes, that means that I may end up posting a song that you wouldn't normally listen to. That's part of the fun.

I can't use more than one song by any given band. The point of this meme is to give you a taste of new stuff, not to pirate whole CDs. If you like what you hear, you'll still need to buy it yourself. If two of you come up with identical descriptions, I have to find two bands that both fit, or use one song for both of you.

I can't make the song permanently available. Unless the song in question is already available on the band's website (in which case, I'll provide a link to their site instead of posting an mp3), I'll be taking the songs down in a few days, or posting them on a temporary host so that they'll expire after a few days.
I've been doing a thousand other things, but that doesn't mean I had forgotten about the arrangement. Bri (Bri!) responded first, with this: If Twin Peaks were set today, what song would Audrey find to dance to in a contemporary jukebox?

My answer: The Gossip, "Listen Up." Like Audrey herself, this song has a retro vibe. I could honest hear Aretha Franklin singing in as well as the girl who does. Besides that, the message of the song seems to be one that a popular rich girl like Audrey would agree with. I'm not 100 percent comfortable with this recommendation, however, so I'm going to double-up with Andy Votel's "The Return of the Spooky Driver," which may not be imminently danceable but at least matches the formal structure of Audrey's theme. Besides, I doubt anybody but Audrey herself could dance to Audrey's theme.

The Gossip and Andy Votel are both available through iTunes, though less legal downloading programs could probably snag the songs as well.

Next up: Dina (Canklesaurus!). She responded with this: I would like to hear a song that you can dance to, but awkwardly. I would like to not quite know how to move because something odd but fun is happening so I must just hop around and smile a lot and wave my arms like a European. I want it to be bubbly like icecream covered in bubbles — inedible but still delicious.

My answer: Soviet's "Candy Girl." It's dance music, but in a very New Wave sort of way. (And no, I didn't just recommend this because I associate a band called "Soviet" with you, my little Russkie immigrant child. If you didn't know better, you'd probably think it came from that era, but it oddly came from the 90s, neatly between the two time periods where such synthy music was in style. It's poppy as all hell, but the singer's voice is so low that it always seemed to me that the vocal track had to have been recorded separately, in the basement of a shoe polish sandwich shop in some country that didn't exist before the U.S.S.R. fell.

Next up: Meg (Meg Horesxhkji!). She shot me this: I'd like to hear something synesthetically red and orange and outlined in thick black lines, something that expresses existential discontent in a cheerfully palatable manner. I'd like it to generate the kind of weirdly nostalgic, mixed up and distressed and simultaneously exultant feelings that you'd have if you accidentally came across your tattered, childhood teddybear up for sale by some stranger on eBay."

My answer: Woof. That's a lot to chew on, but I think I can give you something that captures most of it. The Magnetic Fields' "I Don't Love You Anymore" could probably work on the grounds that it presents a title that ostensibly explain a man's now-dead love for a woman. However, it's very clear from the song that he still carries those feelings. It's a fairly simple song in that it sounds like something a child might write or sing, however, the meaning goes deeper than that. It may not be especially red and orange with black lines, but I'm not sure what would be.

The Magnetic Fields are available on iTunes. But if you download one, you should really get the rest, too. I think you'd especially dig this band.

Next up: Pedro (Pedro!). He spat at me the following: Because you know enough about art history to have a chance at pulling it off: I'd like to hear something Baroque. Not the cats-banging-against-a-trashcan that they came up with themselves, but something that sounds like Baroque sculpture and/or architecture looks.

My answer: Fuck. I don't know much about the Baroque anything. In fact, whenever I see the word, I secretly pronounce it in my head as "barbecue." But I have seen it before. From what I’ve taken in from all things Baroque, this song should be elaborate, fancy, vaguely spiritual, lush and largely grand. I think “The Tain,” by the Decembersists, should work well. It’s an epic eighteen-minute song, with four or five distinct parts. It also features various speakers, including a crone, a soldier, a chorus of waifs, a married couple, a sea captain, and a widow.

As always, “The Tain” is available on iTunes, but only if you purchase the full album. If you have any trouble finding a way around this, tell me and I’ll help you out.

So how did I do?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Pictomancer

Finally, a Clarification

Kristen brought it to my attention that the post "Finally" originally stated that "my brother and April are not officially engaged." That was a typo and one of the worst kind in that the spell checker won't catch it. It should have stated that "my brother and April are now officially engaged." Whoops.

The original post has been corrected. I really have to start reading all the words I write, not just the big ones.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

An Open Letter to Blogger

Dear Blogger,

I know you're in the process of upgrading to something bigger and better than what I've become accustomed to, and I realize this life transition is very challenging for you. However, being that I have a larger blog — 1319 posts, as of the publishing of this one — I won't reap the benefits of Blogger Beta for some time. As such, you're just making me sad. I expect this from MySpace, but not you.

Pull yourself together. Please. Or just upgrade me already.

Sincerely,
Drew

Gibblerology

I'm not often surprised or impressed, but I am now, after having read the Wikipedia entry on Kimmy Gibbler. I quote: "And, what would cause [the Gibbler family] to have the money to buy the house next to the Tanners? That is not certain, but the speculation is as wild as Kimmy's 1970s clothing, and one suspects the answer may be as weird as Kimmy herself." Nice.
[ link: Kimmy Gibbler on the Wikipedia ]

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Glass

Because one video game-related YouTube video isn't enough on a night when I'm abstaining from Halloween goings-on because I feel sick. This is either a music video for the song "Glass" by a band called We Are Water or a music video for the song "We Are Water" by a band called glass. Too lazy and ook-filled to check. Enjoy it. It plays like Radiohead lost on the set of "Captain N: The Game Master."

Carnival of Terror

I find this endlessly entertaining. The music helps.


I'd imagine this is what the children who tortured ants with magnifying glasses did upon turning their malice to more socially appropriate venues.

The Onion Kid

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Cryptkicker Five

Brett Easton Ellis' perfect Halloween mix, as noted in his 2005 pseudo-autobiography Lunar Park:
  • "The Ghost In You" - The Psychedelic Furs
  • "Thriller" - Michael Jackson
  • "Witchy Woman" - The Eagles
  • "Evil Woman" - Electric Light Orchestra
  • "Rhiannon" - Fleetwood Mac
  • "Sympathy For The Devil" - The Rolling Stones
  • "Werewolves Of London" - Warren Zevon
  • "Spooky Girlfriend" - Elvis Costello
  • "Time Of The Season" - The Zombies
  • "One Of These Nights" - The Eagles
  • "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" - Blue Oyster Cult
My additions:
  • "Bad Moon Rising" - Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • "Spooky" - Dusty Springfield
  • "Hush" - Deep Purple
  • "Paint It Black" - The Rolling Stones
  • "She's Not There" - The Zombies
  • "Bela Lugosi's Dead" - Bauhaus

The Drew Stands Alone

Ahem.



Unfortunately, I know this to be wrong. In fact, there is another Drew who lives in the United States. I'm friends with him on Facebook. Also, this website claims that my cousins do not exist.

Nice try, HowManyofMe.com.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Hoodoo Guru

Every so often, I’ll use this blog as a means to share a strange dream I’ve had. When I hear most people recount their dreams, it’s usually a painful affair. By virtue of not making sense, dreams make for an unsatisfying story in which the problems presented are not solved but instead are tacked on one after another. The result is the narrative equivalent of a run-on sentence.

I’d like to think that some dreams — if explained correctly — are worth the time it takes to explain them. I’ve related quite a few here before, but I just realized today that I’ve never written about my most memorable dream.

So I will.

Picture a field. Iowa. Kansas. Whatever gets you there. It’s flat and cropless. It’s a plane, in the geometrical sense, stretching out to the horizon.

Somewhere in this area is a small farmhouse, isolated and without any nearby trees or houses. I am standing in the back porch — an enclosed area where you could imagine rocking chairs and old people and the like. However, the only other people on the porch are two girls, pretty and high school-aged. I should probably note that while I’m “there,” I’m not. The girls don’t seem to see me, so I’m some kind of ghost or floating observer to this little scene. In any case, a young man is standing at the door to this enclosed back porch construction and he’s angry.

Instinctively — or magically, if you will, in the way dreams imbue you with knowledge that you never learned but just have — I know that the young man goes to school with these girls. He’s unpopular for whatever reason, and the girls befriended him as a joke. He screams and yells and pounds on the frame of the door, but the girls laugh at him. For whatever reason, the joke is still funny.

Soon, however, the pounding gets louder and louder until I’m not looking at the girls anymore. I am looking at the angry young man. Despite my status as a floating narrator ghost, this rage scares me. And then I note that the girls have stopped laughing. They’re scared too. The banging continues and panic on the back porch escalates.

Suddenly, the entire scene falls silent. It’s as if someone hit a giant mute button and more than earlier it’s as if I’m watching this interaction in the same way I’d watch a movie. Then a hear a noise that I can only describe as the sound of a hundred men humming at the same time. One loud, resonant note, sung in perfect unison. I can hear it in my memory still, this noise I never actually heard. It gives me chills.

In the distance, I can see a figure bounding over the horizon. A speck growing larger with every Superman-style leap it takes as it nears the house. It’s a man, though he’s quite skinny and wrapped in cloth, like a mummy. Only his eyes are visible. My brain tells me this thing is called the “Hoodoo Guru,” and despite the goofiness of the name, the Hoodoo Guru is terrifying.

With tremendous force, the Hoodoo Guru eventually crashes onto the angry young man, and for a moment both are on the ground, below the view that the window in the back door provides. Then the wrapped man stands, and then the young man does too. They look at each other for a moment before the Hoodoo Guru taps him once on the head and his body falls into pieces — specifically six: head, arm, arm, torso, leg, leg. Not bloody pieces, mind you. Neat and tidy, like a human body was meant to disassemble. The Hoodoo Guru gathers the pieces in his arms and bounds away.

That’s the dream.

When I had this dream, I was a sophomore in college and living in an apartment in Isla Vista. I specifically dreamed this story at about five in the morning. Immediately afterwards, I was perfectly awake — not so much from the fact that the dream scared me but more than I had to use the bathroom very badly. I didn’t, however, and this is the truly weird part of the dream: I had the completely irrational fear that if I walked into the bathroom, I’d pass by the mirror and see someone else’s face instead of mine. Not the Hoodoo Guru’s necessarily, though that would have been unsettling, I’m sure. No, anybody’s face. Just not mine.

Despite the insisting of my bladder, I lied in bed and very calmly told myself that I’d just have to wait until the risk of mirror confusion had passed. Near eight-o-clock, I finally realized the illogic of this belief and peed like a normal person. Clearly, though, I was insane at the time. I mean that literally.

I don’t know why the dream affected me so profoundly or so strangely. I had another dream during the summer after my senior year that also had a dramatic effect, but that was different. (For the record, I recorded that dream in a post shortly thereafter.) Also of note: The Hoodoo Gurus are an Australian rock band whose track “What’s My Scene” I had downloaded probably six months before the dream. It’s a good track in the style of The Replacements or The Smithereens. Every time I hear the opening chords, though, I get a little shiver, only because of the associations my subconscious made with it.

All in all, I’ve never been able to make anything from it. I just thought I’d write about it.

Gravity Spell

Traffic to this blog has dropped by half in the last week. Was it something I said?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Irritable Vowel

Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of the Wikipedia’s popularity, as I see it, is the brand name’s now-frequent use as a verb in the manner of “Google” and “YouTube” and MySpace” and all that. Really, I’m fine with nouns being verbs — even proper nouns being verbs. However, when people use the verb “Wikipedia” in the past tense, I instantly picture a hatefully spelled word. As in, “I just Wikipediaed Ellen Cleghorne.” Three vowels in a row? Awful. Even worse: “Hold on! I’m still Wikipediaing Ellen Cleghorne!”

Finally

My brother and April are now officially engaged. I can’t wait — and not just for the free alcohol at the wedding. No, I’m happy that the clock is already counting down until I have nieces and nephews whom I can feed sugary food and send into various addled states.

Uncle Drew!

EDIT 10.30.2006: Kristen brought it to my attention that this post originally stated "My brother and April are not officially engaged." That was a typo. It should have read "My brother and April are now officially engaged." Whoops.

It Was the Sister!

It’s another once-regular Back of the Cereal Box feature that I’ve been neglecting to maintain lately — Drew Overanalyzes Song Lyrics. In the tradition of “Rocket Man” and “Mellow Yellow,” I’d like to present a song that, perhaps more than just about any other, warrants a closer look: “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia.” Yes, it’s country. Yes, as a rule, country sucks. However, this song was first performed in an era where a lot of country was good, enjoyed mainstream success and shared a lot of style with the soul and rock music of the day. Often, a song could easily be placed in any of the three categories.

People most likely peg “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” as out-and-out country probably because the cover version by Reba Macentire seems to be more familiar than the original by Vicki Lawrence. I vastly prefer Lawrence’s take. Since this is one of those sings that tells a story — again, like a lot of great country of the era did — Lawrence’s restrained voice works a lot better than Macentire’s big, brash vocals. True, both singers have red hair, but the fact that Lawrence considered this hit song a career high despite starring on “The Carol Burnett Show” and, later, “Mama’s Family” makes it all the more worthwhile to note.
He was on his way home from Candletop,
Okay, so he’s returning from “Candletop,” which I’d imagine is an area in Georgia between Moonshine Valley and Curly, Curly Piggy Tail. I’d always heard the lyric as “Canada,” but I guess that seems off, in retrospect.

Been two weeks gone, and he’d thought he’d stop,
At Web’s and have him a drink ’fore he went home to her.
Andy Wo-lo said: “Hello.”
Andy who? I honestly can’t make out what is spoken here, by either Vicki or Reba. Various results for lyric searches on Google give me “Andy Warlow,” “Andy Wadlow,” “Andy Woelow,” “Andy Wallow,” and, perhaps with the least chance of being correct, “Andy Warlord.” Also, Andy works at a bar called “Web’s,” but I’m certain his last name isn’t “Web.” And most confusingly, the narrator refers to him with the unlikely nickname of “Wo” two lines after the character is introduced.
He said “Hi. What’s doin’?”
Wo said: “Sit down, I got some bad news — it’s gonna hurt.”
He said: “I’m your best friend, and you know that’s right,
“But your young bride ain’t home tonight.
Since you been gone, she’s been seeing that Amos boy, Seth.”
I’m totally unclear whether Andy’s explaining that the wife is fooling around with a man named Seth Amos or he’s telling the protagonist — whose name is Seth — that she’s been fooling around with “that Amos boy.”
Now he got mad, and he saw red.
Andy said: “Boy, don’t you lose your head,
’Cos to tell you the truth, I’ve been with her myself.”
Awkward, Andy. Also awkward: the abbreviation of “because” to one syllable. I just stuck with “cos” with the apostrophe in front of it since that at least looked better than “cuz.” Technically, the apostrophe doesn’t even need to be there, since “cos” isn’t technically a contraction for anything.
That’s the night that the lights went out in Georgia.
That’s the night that they hung an innocent man.
Well, don’t trust your soul to no backwoods Southern lawyer.
’Cos the judge in the town’s got bloodstains on his hands.

Well Andy got scared, and left the bar,
Walkin’ on home, ’cos he didn’t live far.
You see, Andy didn’t have many friends,
And he just lost him one.
Brother thought his wife must have left town,
So he went home and finally found,
The only thing Papa had left him — and that was a gun.
I’m honestly confused as to why the main character would just assume his wife would have left town, for whatever reason, but whatever — it advances the plot by giving him to go home and play with this heirloom revolver he apparently has.
He went off to Andy’s house,
Slippin’ through the backwoods quiet as a mouse.
Came upon some tracks too small for Andy to make.
A clue!
He looked through the screen at the back porch door,
And he saw Andy lyin’ on the floor
In a puddle of blood and he started to shake.
I'm assuming it's the main character who's shaking and not the newly dead Andy, though from the context you really can't tell. Damn pronouns.
Georgia patrol was making their rounds,
So he fired a shot just to flag them down.
A big-bellied sheriff grabbed his gun and said “Why’d you do it?”

Judge said guilty on a make-believe trial,
Slapped the sheriff on the back with a smile,
And said: “Supper’s waitin’ at home, and I gotta get to it.”
{chorus}
Well, they hung my brother before I could say
Okay, so the narrator isn’t just some random person. She has a personal relation to the main character. Interesting that we don’t get that until the end of the song. And wait — they hung the brother? For whatever reason, I just assumed that the brother got the electric chair and his electrocution was the reason the nights went out in the entire state. You know, because the whole of Georgia only has enough power to operate one electrical appliance at a time.
The tracks he saw while on his way
To Andy’s house and back that night were mine.
And his cheatin’ wife had never left town,
That’s one body that’ll never be found.
You see, little sister don’t miss when she aims her gun.
I love this. The narrator, whom we have just assumed is some nameless storyteller is actually an active participant in the story. The murderer, no less. But seriously? He was tried, convicted and hanged — not "hung," as the lyrics erroneously state — before she could do anything about it? Seems odd. She was probably busy killing every other person in town.
{chorus}
So that’s it.

This is a great song, and I’ve been thinking about it more closely than probably anybody else I know ever would ever since I saw that scene in “Resevoir Dogs” where Nice Guy Eddie mentions having listened to the song and then finally realizing that Vicki Lawrence is the killer. I’m just honestly impressed that such a story could be compacted so neatly into a three-minute song. Seriously, this song has more characters than books I’ve read:
  • the main character
  • his sister, the narrator and murderer.
  • Andy Whatever-His-Last-Name-Is, the ill-fated bartender
  • the whore of a wife
  • that Amos boy, Seth
  • the backwoods southern lawyer the protagonist apparently entrusted himself to
  • “Papa,” the father of the protagonist and the narrator
  • the big-bellied sheriff
And so few pop songs have twist endings nowadays. The idea that she’d murder Andy on the same night as her brother would come home, only moments after Andy confronted him is odd, I’ll admit. Beyond that, I’m not entirely clear as to why she’s killing people. If most people were going to confront a adulterous sister-in-law, they’d probably just talk about it over coffee or, at the very least, yell “Whore!” as they passed her on the street or something. Maybe the sister is just psychotic. That would explain a lot.

Anyway, I like this song. I enjoy that it’s more complex than an episode of “Law & Order.” I like that it’s ambiguous, even if part of that ambiguity means not explaining exactly why the lights went off. And most of all, I like Vicki Lawrence. This whole mess would have made an excellent series finale to “Mama’s Family.” Kristy McNichol actually starred in a 1981 film called “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia,” but, as the Wikipedia explains it, the plot bears little resemblance to the song. That’s probably a good thing, since I’d imagine most people would have realized that the sister is the killer during the period the song was a number-one hit — April of 1973, right between Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly” and Tony Orlando’s “Tie a Yellow Ribbon.” I might as well note that adapting songs into movies was also a trend during that has long-since vanished. Two other popular country songs from the same time as “Georgie” — Jeannie C. Riley’s “Harper Valley P.T.A.” and Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billie Joe” — fared considerably better.

And you know what? I just figured it out — the lights went out in Georgia because the batshit-crazy sister killed them too.

Stay Here Until We Reach Idaho

I’ve uploaded my one thousandth picture to my Flickr account. It’s been just over a year that I’ve used the site to store my photos and I wasn’t keeping track of how many I’d uploaded, so I was quite surprised to see the little number next to the “your photos” text to employ four digits.

I’d though we could have a little slideshow to commemorate the occasion.

The first photo

house on the hill

The one-thousandth photo

roofline at night

My ten most interesting photos, according to the Flickr interestingometer

jellyfish diagram

puta!

chief, again

handwriting meme

hippie lady at hell's gate

dogs riding sheep!

marcy's mouth

dead jill

crazy kangaroo junk

A few photos that undeservedly register little interest and that I think more people should look at

junebug and ''citizen kane''

deer going up the mountain

a tiny shoe

car wash 1

time lapse no. 3

the dragonfly

alley at night

My ten favorite photos

orange and first rain

the barn

the crow tree from my bedroom window

cotton candy

cousin sam

broken door on a hillside

train tracks

little friend and the hills

broken mary

astral girl aly

My ten most-viewed photos

the shower scene

the bra fence

jellyfish diagram

dina at the bra fence

damsel in a tree

our feet

kristen with dogbaby

kristen on the ground

scary phone call

pretty christmas lady doll

The photos that have drawn the most comments (a tie, at six each)

chief, again

my first cockroach

My most favorited photo

jellyfish diagram

Photos that gained popularity, I suspect, merely through appealing to various sexual appetites

kristen and dina at the whitehaven lookout

our feet

cowboy boots drew

trash bunny gets serviced

dina at the bra fence

pretzel hilly 1

damsel in a tree

odd australian mushrooms

dead jill

jill's hair

mike blows on my game boy

kristen with a ball

sleeping ugly

dina, dendrophile

we, like frats guys

crazy kangaroo junk

And, of course, what photo retrospective would be complete without this?

moe and