Thursday, December 20, 2007

Oh. I never finished bitching about VH1...

Yeah. I'd meant to finish my ever-fascinating list of objections to VH1's top 10 lists.

The final installment was Top 10 Rock Bands. Here's what they came up with.
10. AC/DC
9. Black Sabbath
8. U2
7. The Clash
6. Queen
5. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
4. Pink Floyd
3. The Who
2. Led Zeppelin
1. Rolling Stones

Holy shit. Where are the Beatles? I get that a lot of people are going to put the Stones up top and Zeppelin and the Who and so on, but how can the Beatles be left out?

U2 is a better band than the Beatles? Pink Floyd is better than the Beatles? Really?

The only possible explanation is that VH1 couldn't get the rights to play a Beatles' video (yes, they did shoot short films for several of their singles -- a precursor to music videos) as part of the show, so they left them off the list. Otherwise, there's no justification.

U2? U2?

A list, off the top of my head, of bands I'd place ahead of U2:
Well, obviously, the Beatles. The Velvet Underground; The Beach Boys; Buddy Holly and the Crickets; The Ramones; Talking Heads; The Cure; The Smiths; The Pixies; Joy Division; (what the heck) Nirvana; REM; Radiohead...

I'm not saying U2 is a crappy band by any stretch. To me, though, they're a little bit limited. Like Aerosmith. Or the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Capable of nice songs, but ultimately, the best thing they do can (and is) done better by other people.

Anyway, here's how the list would have looked had I been consulted:

10. The Pixies
9. The Ramones
8. Buddy Holly and the Crickets
7. The Clash
6. The Who
5. Led Zeppelin
4. The Velvet Underground
3. The Beach Boys
2. The Rolling Stones
1. The Beatles

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tagged Again

The Colt tagged me. Here is the deal-io: Share 7 random or weird things about yourself. Tag 7 people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs. Let each person know they have been tagged. But most of the people I know have been tagged in her post so here goes nothing.

1. Both of my pinkys are bent. They bow inwards. I've been told this is caused by a dominant gene, but I'm not sure about that.

2. The first piece of recorded music I recall owning was an 8-track of the "Rocky" soundtrack. I'm trying to think of ways this has affected my life, but no luck.

3. I'm a better than average basketball player. Were you to see me in person, that might come as a shock, given my build, but honestly, I'm not too bad.

4. My favorite number is 28. I've no idea why.

5. Never broken a bone. This is not an invitation to break something on me should you see me on the street.

6. "Little Drummer Boy" is my favorite Christmas song. There are many great recordings, but the Neil Diamond version is superior.

7. I'm a paralyzingly picky eater. The lists of fruits and veggies I'll eat is a short one:
  • Green bean
  • Potato
  • Banana

That's about it. I'll eat carrots as well I guess. And asparagus and broccoli, but I've got to get myself mentally ready to do so. Of course, I'll eat things made from other veggies (spaghetti sauce for example), but, you know.

It kinda sucks being such a picky eater, truth be told. I'm no fun, for example, at an all-you-can-eat Asian buffet because I just keep going for the ribs and chicken.

My sincerest gratitude for the patience that has been shown by those who have been directly affected by my picky-ness.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Missed a day, so let's do two...

Okay, next in my ongoing series of gripes with VH1's list of greatest musicians, guitarists. I'm going to do frontmen as well today because I don't have too many bitches with these lists.

Here's what VH1 had for guitarists.

10. David Gilmore, Pink Floyd
9. Toni Iommi, Black Sabbath
8. Brian May, Queen
7. Randy Rhodes
6. Ritchie Blackmore
5. Stevie Ray Vaughn
4. Eddie Van Halen, Van Halen
3. Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin
2. Eric Clapton
1. Jimi Hendrix

Pretty nice list. One huge omission for me is Pete Townsend. I'm a Dave Navarro guy as well. Navarro's my favorite rock guitarist, so he'd be up there for me. Randy Rhodes was awfully good, but I wonder if he hadn't died so young how he'd fare on these kinds of lists. For that matter, I was surprised Cliff Burton didn't make the bassist list.

Anyway, Rhodes seems to me to be a shredder, so if he's on the list, why not Yngwie Malmsteen or Dave Mustaine? I don't know. I've bever been much for that style. I recognize how hard it is to do, but all of the solos end up sounding kind of the same. It's technically impressive, but it lacks something. For me.

That said, I don't know what I change on that list. A few additions, which means a few subtractions.

10. Tony Iommi
9. Brian May
8. Pete Townsend
7. Dave Navarro
6. Eddie Van Halen
5. Trey Spruance
4. Stevie Ray Vaughn
3. Jimmy Page
2. Eric Clapton
1. Jimi Hendrix

Moving right along, VH1's list of greatest frontmen:

10. Roger Daltrey
9. Bono
8. David Bowie
7. Bruce Springsteen
6. Jim Morrisoin
5. Steven Tyler
4. David Lee Roth
3.Robert Plant
2. Freddie Mercury
1. Mick Jagger

The heck with it. I wouldn't change anything on this list. I don't care enough about "frontmen" to argue this one.

Up next: VH1's greatest rock bands. Wow. What a problematic list.

Friday, November 16, 2007

VH1 and Drummers

Okay, so yesterday I griped about the bassist list and now it's the drummers.

First, though, a pertinent video:

Okay, now that we're all warmed up. Away we go.

Here's what VH1 came up with on the drummers:
10. Nicko McBrain, Iron Maiden
9. Alex Van Halen, Van Halen
8. Stewart Copeland, The Police
7. Phil Collins, Genesis
6. Ginger Baker, Cream
5. Carl Palmer, Asia
4. Ian Pace, Deep Purple
3. Keith Moon, The Who
2. Neal Peart, Rush
1. John Bonham, Led Zeppelin

It's hard to argue with much there. Well, actually, I'll go ahead and argue. First some notable leave-offs. How can Mitch Mitchell not be there? I'm not surprised Jimmy Chamberlain isn't there, but he ought to be. Tim Alexander? Criminy! Ringo Starr's absence is unacceptable.

Enough complaining, though. They did include Copeland, even if it is too low a ranking for him. I was sure they'd overlook him. I was also pleasantly surprised to see Phil Collins make the list and he should absolutely be there. What a fanstastic and largely underrated drummer he is.

The Top 3 seems just right. To me it's pretty much a tie for first between those three. From there it's hard to pick one over another, but I'll give it a shot.

10. Lars Ulrich, Metallica
9. Phil Collins, Genesis
8. Jimmy Chamberlain, Smashing Pumpkins
7. Tim "Herb" Alexander, Primus
6. Stewart Copeland, The Police
5. Ringo Starr, The Beatles
4. Mitch Mitchell, The Jimi Hendrix Experience
1. Keith Moon, The Who
1. Neil Peart, Rush
1. John Bonham, Led Zeppelin

So that's that. Tune in Monday for the guitarists. It's a pretty good list. Maybe it's just right. We'll see.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Top 10 Lists

I'm not an idiot. Okay, I am an idiot, but that's beside the point. Anyway, VH1 Classic (one of the great channels on expanded basic cable) is running a series of Top 10 countdowns in anticipation of the upcoming video game "Rock Band." I don't know what that video game is. It's probably like "Guitar Hero." Whatever.

So these lists name the Top 10 Frontmen, Guitarists, Bassists, Drummers, and Rock Bands. Obviously, any time there's such a list, there are an endless number of detractors and as much as I hate to add myself to the cacaphony, I can't help it.

I watched the Bassist Episode, and here's what they came up with:

10. Steve Harris, Iron Maiden
9. Geezer, Black Sabbath
8. Les Claypool, Primus
7. John Paul Jones, Led Zeppelin
6. Jack Bruce, Cream
5. Flea, Red Hot Chili Peppers
4. Paul McCartney, Wings
3. Geddy Lee, Rush
2. Chris Squire, Yes
1. John Entwistle, The Who

Where to begin...

First of all, they left Sting off the list. I'll give Entwistle props. Won't argue with his being #1. I'd put Les Claypool #2 because nobody should really be higher. Another leave-off for me is Eric Avery (Jane's Addiction, Deconstruction, Polar Bear). As much love as JA gets, the fact that nothing of theirs is listenable post-Avery indicates who wore the pants in that band. Flea is good, but has been severely overrated for damn near 20 years. McCartney is phenomenal, definitely deserves being there. Who else? Colin Greenwood from Radiohead. Bill Wyman from The Stones.

Here's what I'd argue listwise:

10. Eric Avery, Jane's Addiction
9. Bill Wyman, The Rolling Stones
8. Steve Harris, Iron Maiden
7. Sting, The Police
6. John Paul Jones, Led Zeppelin
5. Chris Squire, Yes
4. Geddy Lee, Rush
3. Paul McCartney, Wings
2. Les Claypool, Primus
1. John Entwistle, The Who

Hon. Mention: Colin Greenwood, Radiohead; Flea, Red Hot Chili Peppers; Billy Sheehan (?), Mr. Big --> in no particular order.

What do I know?

Anyway, the outrage will continue tomorrow, give or take. I can only imagine that their guitarist, drummer, etc. lists will be equally silly. I mean, come on! Who can do what Les Claypool does? And he sings, too, while he's doing it. Ridiculous.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Here's the Barn Owl Review Cover

So I put this up on the site the other day and Mary has also plugged it. I'm really happy to see the positive reactions, especially on Mary's blog.

A bit about the photo: While driving to Chicago this past August for my step-brother's wedding, I got caught in gawker traffic outside of Miller, Indiana. Or maybe it was Gary. Well, they're both in the same general area.

At any rate, I had enough time to grab my camera and snapped a couple of pics.

I like it for the cover because it has a punk thing going on. And to me, punk evokes a DIY approach, which relates directly to BOR because we're handling everything ourselves.

We're so punk.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Monday, September 24, 2007

Sacred Music

Having spent a bit of time watching football each of the past two Sundays, I've seen the new series of Cadillac ads probably 30 times. Not sure if you've seen these, but the last ten seconds of the ads features music from Hum's "Stars."

My first reaction when hearing these was: "Hey, cool. Good for Hum!" This surprised me. Time was I'd shake my fist at the heavens and lament one of my favorite bands selling out or some such thing. Or I'd be angry that some company pooped all over one of my favorite songs by using it to shill for something. Not this time.

Some of it is just getting older. Having more pressing concerns than whether or not some band has "sold its soul to the man, man."

The bigger part of it, though, is that I was really excited for the guys in the band. They haven't really been a band much for, what, 8 to 10 years. It's pretty cool that they've gotten a chance to make a bit more scratch from their music. Nothing wrong with that.

But then I think there are still some songs I'd like to never hear in a commercial. The Beatles' catalogue, for example. What do you think? Is it cool to hear your favorite bands in an ad? Disappointing? Any songs that should be kept out of ads?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I'm tagging myself.

I was just reading Sara Tracey's blog and she had this question thing up there, but she didn't tag anyone. I'm pretty much an absentee blogger and have missed a lot of taggings in my day, so most folks who would tag me have given up by now. So I'm tagging myself. Here we go.

1. Pick out a scar you have, and explain how you got it.

I have a 1/4 moon-shaped scar on the inside of my right forearm. In 7th grade, I told the girl in front of me in Social Studies class that here sweatshirt was inside-out, because it was. It was intentional and I knew that (it was the style at the time). Anyway, I kept tapping her on the shoulder and telling her and she turned around and dug her nails into my arm to get me to knock it off. She must have had pretty strong hands and nails because it's still visible.

2. What does your phone look like? List your reasons to buy it?

It's a gray/blue flip phone. I bought it because it was one of the promo offers from T-Mobile.

3. What is on the walls of your bedroom?


4. What is your current desktop picture?

5. Do you believe in gay marriage?


6. What do you want more than anything right now?

More time w/ the family.

7. What time were you born?

4:15 AM

8. Are your parents still together?


9. Last person who made you cry?

My daughter. She just started school.

10. What is your favorite perfume/cologne?

For me? Gillette Wild Rain. For her? Tresor.

11. What kind of hair/eye color do you like in the opposite sex?

Dark hair. Green eyes.

12. What are you listening to? Why?

Lately it's been a lot of 70s music. I don't know why. Some of it is really good and some of it is so horrible that it's likeable in an odd way.

13. Do you get scared of the dark?

Not anymore.

14. Do you like painkillers?


15. Are you too shy to ask someone out?

It's been a while since that's been an issue, but no.

16. If you could eat anything right now, what would it be?

London Broil made by Mary.

17. What was the last person who made you mad?

My daughter. She thinks it's funny to run away from me at soccer practice and she gets really far off and it scares the beejezus out of me.

18. Name one habit you have that has the potential to annoy people?

Most everything I do annoys people.

19. Who was the last person who made you smile?

My daughter, my son.

I tag Mary.


My computer screen is dirty enough today that many times when I type a "." it looks like a ":".

It's kind of annoying, but I'm not sure the best way to clean a laptop screen.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I have a lot of pets.

Five cats and a dog.

Sometimes it really strikes me as odd that I've got all these animals running around my house. They're not wild animals, mind you. For the most part they just kind of laze about and take turns holding the furniture down. Still, though. Every now and again it strikes me as I see all these little furry tails trotting around.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Still thinking about Winter Wheat.

Not sure what I want to propose session-wise. I've always had a good time leading sessions on dialogue in fiction, and last year, I did a bit on professionalization which was pretty well-received. My initial thought is to pick something new, but I don't know. Maybe the Winter Wheat world is clamoring for another dialogue workshop. Who knows?

I need to get off the pot, though, before I miss the boat. How's that for a mixed metaphor?

Friday, September 7, 2007

So this is kind of troubling...

This is entirely from memory:

We are The Bears, the shufflin' crew
Shufflin' on down, doin' it for you
We're so bad, we know we're good
Blowin' your mind like you knew we would

Walter Payton:
Well they call me "Sweetness" cause I like to dance
Runnin' the ball is like makin' romance
We've had the goal since training camp
to give Chicago a Super Bowl Champ
But we're not doin' this because we're greedy
The Bears are doin' it to feed the needy
We didn't come here lookin' for trouble
We just came here to do the Super Bowl Shuffle

Willie Gault:
This is Speedy Willie, and I'm world class
I like runnin', but I love to get the pass
I practice all day and dance all night
I gotta get ready for the Sunday fight
Now I'm as smooth as a chocolate swirl
I dance a little funky, so watch me, girl
There's no one here that does it like me
My Super Bowl Shuffle will set you free

Jim McMahon:
I'm the punky QB known as McMahon
When I take the field I've got no plan
I just throw my body all over the field
I can't dance, but I can throw the pill
I motivate the cats, I like to tease
I play so cool, I aim to please
That's why you all got here on the double
To catch me doing the Super Bowl Shuffle

Mike Singletary:
I'm Samurai Mike and I play it cool
They don't sneak by me 'cause I'm no fool
(actually, these lines might be for Mike Richardson)

Otis Wilson:
This is mama's boy, Otis. One of a kind.
The ladies all love me for my body and my mind

Richard Dent:
The Sack Man's coming. I'm your man Dent.
If the quarterback's slow, he's gonna get bent.

Mike Richardson:
This is L.A. Mike and...[see Singletary]

That's all I've got. Steve Fuller had a good line about doing it "for Mike and Papa Bear Halas" but I don't remember anything else from him.

Anyway, I was singing this song yesterday and I was shocked and a little dismayed at how many of the lyrics I knew. I know I used to listen to the single (45 rpm, baby!), but holy man! I wish I could get that info out of my head to make room for something useful.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

"Look at Him. He's just taunting the defense!"

You'd think He wouldn't just toy with those kids like a dad in a driveway.

Thursday, August 9, 2007


Finally, I've begun sending out some rejections for BOR. Am I a bad person because I don't feel bad rejecting work?

Here's the thing: I don't mind getting rejections. At all. Maybe this is why I don't feel bad sending them out. I look at a rejection as confirmation that somebody at least read the thing. Considered it. It's pretty good news in its way.

Those of you who know me personally know that this is an incongruously sunny outlook for me.

But for some reason, that's how I feel about it.

Anyway, I'm slugging through the pile. And Dawson and I are still going back and forth about a few stories. It'll start shaping up soon I think.

Frank out.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Akron Art Museum

Great job, Akron Art Museum folks!

I had the pleasure of visiting the museum for the first time and it is truly wonderful. Highlights:

1. The building itself is fantastic. So much cooler now that it's completed than I thought it would be when it was being built. More specifically, the wing over the old museum looked like a mistake at first, but it makes sense now.

2. Rene Magritte. My favorite artist and my hometown museum has a piece of his. Wow. I was pretty thrilled to find the painting there but was admittedly disappointed that none of the museum literature touts this piece. I'm not the only Magritte fan, am I? This is, of course, not meant to disparage the wonderful work of the museum or to downplay the rest of the collection, but I would have thought that having a Magritte in house would be a bigger deal than it is.

(Obviously I'm reading too much into this, but I'm sensitive and defensive regards Magritte after a shocking number of people, artists even, look at me blankly and say, "Who?" when Magritte comes up.)

3. The keychain. We signed on for a family membership and apparently the good folks at the art museum know how to get to me. I love trinkets and so forth. Miniatures. Especially free ones. Mary even gave me hers. She's the best.

4. Warhol. I like Warhol more because I'm a big VU fan, but still...

5. Can't recall the name, but the series of photographs of "Tiny" is stunning and heartbreaking but somehow...something in there gives me hope for some reason. I don't know. Walking along the display, though, I cycled through so many emotions. Every emotion, actually.

6. Staff. Everyone was so cool and nice. My little guy was being pretty vocal and rather than glaring or shushing, the docents came by and talked to him. Very cool.

That's about all I've got for now. I'm so proud of Akron, though, for making this happen.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

More Than Meets the Eye

For some reason, I'm going to write about Transformers, one of this summer's "tentpole" movies. First, though, a little about me.

For anyone who might read this that doesn't know me personally, I am a bit of a pop-culture, um, follower. Maybe that's not the right word. I'm not ashamed to read Entertainment Weekly. Maybe I should be, but I'm not. I do quite well shouting answers along to VH1's "World Series of Pop Culture." What I mean is, even though I don't have the time (and really, thank God I don't) to see every movie that comes out or listen to every Grammy-nominated album (or even watch the Grammys), I tend to have a rough idea of what's going on in America's great cultural offal. As such, I have a passing interest in some of the bigger movies of the summer. For example, I'll want to see Spiderman 3. I probably won't see it, but I'd like to.

Which brings us to Transformers. I don't want to see it. Not even 10 minutes of it. Not for the effects, not for anything. I'm completely numb to the trailers. I've read a few reviews and some articles (like the one in EW, and the one in Wired), but not because I'm excited to see the movie, more because I'm curious why it's such an event. If I were smarter, I could claim that it's anthropological curiosity.

I was 10 or 11 when the toys came out. Fifth or sixth grade. Which means that I'd given up action figures more or less by then. I boxed up my GI Joes and so on in 5th grade (I remember this really clearly) and gave them to the son of a lady my mom worked with. So, when the toys came out I didn't play with them. I think it was probably 6th grade when they started to get more popular and then maybe that same year when the TV show came out, but I just never got into it.

Bear in mind, I still watched cartoons. "Thundercats" and "Dungeons and Dragons" and so forth. The idea of robots turning into cars always struck me as lame. Well, really, it's because the robo-cars are from another planet really that's lame. To me, if the robots were just manufactured on Earth and piloted like military craft, it wouldn't have been so lame. But sentient robots from another planet who turn into Earth cars, many of which are American makes? Weak.

I didn't get it then why this weak-ass premise would be so popular. I don't get it now, either. It pushes my suspension of disbelief to its limit.

Like, okay, you've got these alien robots. This alone is okay.

Alien robots that are sentient. Again, I'll follow you there. I've read a decent amount of Sci-Fi (more Sci-Fantasy, than hard Sci-Fi), so I'm good so far.

Sentient alien robots who can turn into vehicles. Still okay. Sounds like a nifty idea. Who built them? Why are they here? I'm willing to follow the story to find out.

Sentient alien robots who turn into the same vehicles we have on Earth.

Wait. Hold up, man.

Why do they turn into Earth cars? I don't get it. What purpose would this have served on their home world? Were they designed by aliens who want to infiltrate Earth and take it over? Kind of. Maybe. If that's the case, I can work with it. Earth under attack from alien forces is a classic sci-fi storyline. I'm with you.

But wait. There are two factions of robots. There are bad robots and good robots and they all turn into Earth cars. This is bullshit. I give up.

See, I'm pretty open minded. To blindly swallow American culture requires a paralyzed gag-reflex and a fairly open mind. I'm there, but this Transformers thing is too much.

Look at this thing:

Really, it's a pretty stupid looking robot and a pretty stupid looking truck. Fold in a backstory that has an 11 year old calling "Shenanigans" and the whole thing just blows.

So that's why I'm so mystified that this thing got greenlit and a gimongous budget and all the rest. Not only that, people are going nuts for it. I feel like such a foreigner when there's a big American cultural event in which I can't muster even a passing interest.

To relate this to something of a bit more substance, I'll just mention that it bothers me because it fails to follow a pretty basic rule of storytelling. Things can happen in stories that don't happen in real life. This is especially important in some of the genre fiction, such as horror, sci-fi, or fantasy. So while things can happen in a fictional world that might not happen in OUR world, these events or creatures or sentient robots have to at least make sense in THEIR world. When there's a disconnect, an event or a character that spills outside of logic in too many directions, the reader or the 11 year old kid or the 34 year old pop-culture "scholar" (HA!), gets jolted right out of the story. Tolkein took me to Middle Earth. If, though, Gandalf had rolled up to Bilbo's house in a tricked-out Mitsubishi Eclipse, I would have lost touch with Tolkein's world. And the more that happens between writer and reader, the harder it becomes for the reader to get back into the writer's world.

Thanks, you've been a great audience.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Happy (belated) Birthday, Ok Computer!

Wow, OK Computer. You're 10 years old. Double digits. I remember the first time I saw you at the Meijer in Champaign, Illinois. I bought you that day, having seen the cool animated video of "Paranoid Android" on MTV and also having heard some of the buzz surrounding your release. I listened to you once and put you away, silly me. A month went by and I heard "Let Down" on the radio one day. I rushed home and rescued you from the pile of cds on my desk. Put you into the player for another spin and this time, you grabbed me. Three months went by before you came back out of the cd player. Three months and probably 300 listens. And the only reason you came out then was so that I could lend you to my buddy Henson. I had to by an additional copy because he kept forgetting to give you back to me.

Ok. Enough of that. Seriously, though. OK Computer is 10 years old. Man, where does the time go? The previous paragraph kinda tells the story of how I discovered the album. I still listen to it regularly and what I thought when I really listened to it for the first time still holds true -- "Holy shit," I thought. "This is the best album I've heard since...since I don't know when."

You Frank-o-philes may remember that on my list of Favorite 5 Albums of All Time, OK Computer was not Number 1. Since I lost all of my old posts in the redesign, I'll provide the list sans wordy explanations:

1. Revolver by The Beatles
2. Deconstruction by Deconstruction
3. OK Computer by Radiohead
4. Gentlemen by Afghan Whigs
5. Angel Dust by Faith No More

Actually, I just re-wrote history there. Originally, I had 1 and 2 switched and I think I left FNM out of the list. They deserved to be up there though. Angel Dust meant a lot to me.

Anyway, Deconstruction came out in 1995 and OK Computer in 1997. Still, to me, OK Computer remains the best album since probably Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967). What's this, you say? Sgt. Pepper's... isn't on the list? Well, it's not my favorite Beatles album, but it's probably their best from an overall standpoint.

Long story short, OK Computer is a phenomenal album. Life-altering, provided you're the type whose life can be altered by listening to music. Start to finish, its vision is clear and relevant. Each song builds on the last until at the end, the only place left to go is back to the start. Of course, this makes sense because the story is cyclical -- it begins with a car crash ("Airbag") and ends/begins again with a dangerous car ride ("Hey, man! Slow down! Idiot, slow down!" from "The Tourist").

For the sake of going on and on, here are some notes on each song:

1. "Airbag" Listen to it with headphones on. The opening guitar riff is doubled in one of the channels with a cello. Awesome. Also, dig the in-the-pocket bass line. Great stuff.

2. "Paranoid Android" Check out the bass drum line from the very start of the song. It foreshadows the rhythm of the noiser, uptempo riff that begins with the "You don't remember, you don't remember, why don't you remember my name..." verse. And when the song melts into the "Rain down..." finish, it's soft and cozy like a pillow. But kinda creepy.

3. "Subterranean Homesick Alien" It's great how busy the melodies are in this song. Descending during the verses and climbing during the refrains. Really intricate.

4. "Exit Music (For a Film)" Two things: 1 - this was actually the music over the end credits of the not very good, but not very bad movie "Angus." 2 - When the fuzz bass comes in this song goes from pretty cool to otherworldly.

5. "Let Down" Hands down, one of the best songs ever. Beautiful and melancholy, but reaching for hopefulness in the final section. Also, check out the vocals in that last part. There's a wordless melody Thom Yorke sings out of the line "...floor collapsing, floating/bouncing back and one day" as one ov the vocal tracks continues the lyric. His voice climbs and slides like a violin. It's stunning.

6. "Karma Police" Nice enough song. One thing that's interesting is that it borrows the downward progression from America's "Lonely People."

7. "Fitter Happier" You either like this song or hate it.

8. "Electioneering" A nice straight-ahead rocker. Cool riff.

9. "Climbing Up the Walls" So creepy. The strangled vocals are startling.

10. "No Surprises" Like a lullabye. In fact, the rendition of this song on the "Rockabye Baby!" Radiohead disc sounds almost exactly like the original. Calming.

11. "Lucky" The crying guitar line beneath the refrain couldn't be more perfect for the song. Incidentally, this is a recurring theme of the album --> every musical decision is a perfect fit song by song for the length of the album.

12. "The Tourist" As I said earlier, this is where it comes full circle. It's hard to hear this song and not start the album back at the beginning.

As I was writing that list it dawned on me that one of the best things I could say about the album, and one of the reasons I feel it's so great, is that it is really meant to be listened to as a complete work. How many albums is this true of anymore?

Frank out.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

On "The Sopranos"

I was a few days late seeing the finale of "The Sopranos" as I was in Toronto for a trade show (I know I don't need to mention which one -- everybody knows about the Rapid Excavation and Tunneling Conference). When I finally did get to see it, I was beyond pleased with how it ended. I do understand the naysaying that has gone on in its wake. Scratch that, I don't understand it, per se, I will say, though, that I'm not surprised. More on that later.

The final scene was among the best of the series in that it summed up so much of what made "The Sopranos" great and gave us insight into Tony's life and how it will be going forward. In a series that repeatedly set the table with symbols and allusions without necessarily getting to the meal that viewers might have expected, the final scene presented so much and slow burned all the way to that crash to black.

From the moment Tony played Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" on the table-top jukebox, we leaned forward, expecting greatness. And we got it. Not in the form of a final act of violence from or against Tony. Nothing that easy. The camera played around the room and we noticed everyone in the restaurant the way Tony did. The way he has to, given who he is. He lives beneath the constant threat of death or arrest. Guys like Tony live long enough to see their kids finish college (or not) because they drink every situation in. They measure every room and everyone in it. What happened to Baccala, what happened to Phil, couldn't happen to Tony. He's too aware. Sure, he looks like a big slug of a guy, but when he's been caught dead-to-rights by would be assassins and authorities in the past, he leaps into action like a cat and slips away.

No way the guy from the counter walks into the bathroom and gets the drop on Tony on his way out. We're meant to wonder, as it harkened back to "The Godfather," but Tony sized him up and weighed the threat. Even with his daughter on her way into the restaurant, he knew where everyone in the room was. If he hadn't developed that skill, he'd have been dead long ago.

At the end, we're left to wonder, doesn't Tony have to pay for his sins? Absolutely, I say. He does, he has, and he will. Viewers hoping for repentance on his part should have known better. Tony hasn't changed. He's made himself into a certain type of person and asking forgiveness just isn't in him. The whole point of Melfi's final arc, her realization that she hasn't done anything for Tony as a patient, is meant to underscore that Tony hasn't changed since we've known him. He's only gotten better at his job and has made himself more securely who he is.

Back to Tony's sins. He pays for them every day. The price he pays for the life he's chosen is that he lives in constant...fear isn't the right word. He lives with the pressure of knowing that everything he has and is can go away in a flash. He can't just go out for dinner with his family and relax. He and his family need to be ready at the drop of a hat to relocate to safe houses and disappear from their lives. Who wants that life? Even if it comes with a big house and a chauffered SUV and so on. If the point of working hard is to enjoy the fruits, when does a guy like Tony really get to enjoy them?

Of course, that explains why he lives as a hyper-consumer. Like a shark he chews through money and posessions and never stops. He's always moving forward, never able to rest. And this is the price he pays. He can't retire. He can't get a gold watch and a country club membership and become a motivational speaker to keep himself busy. He's got to live this life until he lets his guard down. And once that happens...

So I'm just not sure what people would have wanted. Death or repentance would have been horribly jarring and inconsistent. Anyone who felt cheated by the ending that was would have been more disappointed by the alternatives. Maybe not right away, but closing the book definitively on Tony Soprano would have damaged the series that preceded. Does knowing Tony gets popped in a diner illuminate the series? How about if he had flipped? No way. Leaving Tony how we found him fits better with everything that came before. And since we know he's not going to change, we know what comes after.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Frank Happy

Yesterday was a wonderful Father's Day. I already have the greatest gifts I could have ever hoped for (ages 5 and 1). I was further fortunate, though, by having a great day with my family. Lots of playing with the kids and then a very nice afternoon with my in-laws. My sweetie and the kids gave me really cool gifts, some handmade, and one "big" gift:

I'm a lucky sum'bitch for sure.

No huge point here. Sometimes I'm not sure what to write about here, but I was just sitting here feeling lucky and thought I'd share.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Five Songs:

A while ago I was tagged and asked to list five songs that rock me to the mother-f'in moon. I don't know if the tag was worded that way, but here I am.

1. "Thunder Island" by Jay Ferguson
2. "Shambala" by Three Dog Night
3. "Sentimental Lady" by Bob Welch
4. "Strong Reaction" by Pegboy
5. "The Number of the Beast" by Iron Maiden

5a. "If You Could Read My Mind" by Gordon Lightfoot
5b. "Drunk by Noon" by The Handsome Family
5c. "Province" by TV on the Radio (feat. David Bowie)
5d. "Chicago" by Sufjan Stevens
5e. "Whenever I Call You Friend" by Kenny Loggins and Stevie Nicks
5f. "Strange Attractors" by Poster Children
5g. "White Unicorn" by Wolfmother
5h. "Inside Out" by Eve 6 (yeah, you read that right)
5i. "The Killing Moon" by Echo and the Bunnymen
5j. "Hello Kitty" by Hum
5k. "We're Not Alone" by Peeping Tom (feat. Dub Trio)

I think that'll do it for now. I like music.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

I'm back. I mean it this time.

Okay. So late in the year, before Frankspot 1.0 disappeared into memory, which was before it disappeared from memory, I began a bit of an online action plan. What started as a general lament about how little I read -- pathetically little for one who would claim to be a writer -- turned into a plan to kind of kick up my writing life a notch. I read Gardner's The Art of Fiction and began Prose's Reading Like a Writer, but then I got severely distracted and lost my way. Surprise, surprise.

I'm back in business, though. 2/3 of the way through Prose, which is very good stuff, indeed. Not nearly as universal and useful as Gardner, but good enough.

I'll report more soon.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

It's The Frank 2.0

My switch from old blogger to new blogger could have been smoother and the old-school Frankspot got lost in the shuffle. It's probably for the best.