Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Easily Entertained
I'm stuck answering phones at work this week, which means I transfer calls, stare at a computer, and laugh loudly when the attorneys pass by and crack jokes. On the up side, I have access to our amazing 15th story view of Los Angeles. It's especially clear right now, since it stopped raining a little while ago and the smog has yet to return. Undoubtedly the highlight of my day was when I glanced outside and saw that a big, bright rainbow had sprang out of West Hollywood.

Sigh... I suppose everyone needs a distraction from the news...

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Frosty, Feeling-less, Holiday Cheer
The biggest xmas surprise? My thresh-hold for frostbite. Apparently, the Dead of Winter cold spell arrived just in time for Christmas this year in Wisconsin. On average it was about 0 degrees (as in, there were no degrees), but actually more like -10 once you figured in the windchill. I'm not sure there's a real difference when things drop below 0. -10 might as well be -2,928. Either way, you pretty much stop feeling. There's only a bundle of clothes supported by the mannequin that used to be you (and not the sexy Kim Catrral kind).

Yes, I mostly grew up in California. No, I've never climbed Everest. Dude, cold is cold.

We split present-opening between pre and post getting grandma from her assisted living home (an hour-fifteen process). Some relatives came over. One recounted his recent trip to Florida, and complained of all the gas station "towel heads" he had to ask directions from. Meanwhile, he's telling this story with a white trashy drawl in his camouflage gecko-style pants and half-unbottoned shirt. Of course, he's actually a really nice, caring guy, who just happens to be totally oblivious to irony (and post 1990 fashion trends).

Saw The Aviator, which just left me feeling, "eh", which ain't much for a movie that's epically long. The Life Aquatic, on the other hand, surprisingly good, even though it didn't have as big an emtional hook as The Royal Tenenbaums or Rushmore. You have to be okay with suspending all disbelief and jumping into the very strange world that Wes Anderson has made. But if you follow its logic, and can laugh at all the corny action scenes (which are meant to be corny), it's pretty fun. There are, to boot, some priceless lines that could only be written by WA and said by Bill Murray.

Then again, my expectations were low, so maybe even Garfield would've looked good.... pssh, who am I kidding? Garfield sores under any expectations!

PS. I got a poster of dogs playing poker. 'Nuff said.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Don't be an Asshole
If you ever call a business, and the underpaid receptionist who has better things to do with his time accidentally answers, "Good afternoon...", when it's only 10:45am, do NOT say, "Well it's actually still morning, but that's okay". He might just note the condescending timbre of your voice and inexplicably forget how to connect your call.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Leigh had a Christmas party this past weekend, which made occasion for me and Marah to drive to San Diego. Sometimes I forget how hard San Diego rules. Shameful, really. The weather of Los Angeles with less traffic and less people walking around with head shots at their finger tips. And in some neighborhoods it has everything great that LA has, but seemingly undiscovered. But this is not to bash LA. Oh, before I forget


There. They read the ol' blog and demanded shout outs. I think they threatened violence if I didn't. Or maybe they threatened to drink more. Can't remember. What I do remember from the party is the people from high school who I hadn't seen in years. One guy stood quietly in the corner with his fiance, smiling, which is pretty much how I remember him back then (minus the fiance). Everyone else -- all people I've missed or maybe didn't realize I missed -- were older versions of high school them, give or take some neuroses. It was nice. Made the evening a kind of unexpected homecoming.

This still isn't enough to make me go to the ten year reunion.... though I might be more inclined if Colin lets me get tanked for free at his bar, Pitchers, beforehand.

Marah made the rounds and racked up some fans. She became the unofficial Supervisor of a White Elephant gift exchange, in which I, or we, wound up with the Kangaroo Jack DVD, something I was pretty siked about even if it ruined her chances of stealing a "better" gift from someone. Pa-shaw. The kangaroo raps, people!

Yes, there were spirits, great music, reunited friends, and camaraderie among strangers. But I think everyone could agree that the highlight of the party was that one girl's exposed nipple. "Boobs" doesn't quite capture what her tube top proudly boasted. Bazoombas. In-your-face, dare-you-to-look-somewhere-else bazoombas. People across the room talked in hushed tones. Kevin (i.e., not Fatso)slyly took pictures.

Thank you, Leigh, for your party. I would've attended even without the nip show.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Cards Blow
I just went to buy my brother a birthday card. Slim pickins, to say the least (not that I was too surprised). Except for the rare instances where I found something decent, I've never liked buying cards for people. They're like corny sitcom jokes, complete with laugh track. So if I can save you from bad humor on your birthday, I will. But this place I went to today, the gift shop in our building, the selection wasn't even kind of funny, and by funny of course, I mean "not entirely void of the ability to induce a quiet mental snicker". So I did what I usually do in this situation. I bought a card with a picture of a dog wearing sunglasses. That's the gimmick. A dog. With sunglasses. Are you laughing yet? Hopefully my brother's as big a fan of irony as I am.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Rock in the Studio
Muso has made its first recording as a full band. It's called the Glassel Park EP, because, well, that's where we practice. Glassel Park. So there ya go. Two weekends ago, we holed ourselves up in the practice space, a master bedroom-sized room with a twenty foot ceiling, with microphones a-dangling and chords a-snaking. I guess if we were real hipsters we would've gone totally lo-fi and recorded it on a Fisher Price tape recorder or something (no offense, Sam Beam), but we wanted to make it sound like some effort was made.

I suspect recording music is like making a movie -- a lot of set up and technical fuss to capture chunks of material that will be assembled later into something coherent. It's odd that the actual playing is just a starting point. The songs take shape after they're put to tape, or computer, in our case. It took three guys with relative production knowledge two days to record and get very basic mixes of five songs. I can only imagine the chaos and near-brawls that ensue for sweet bands like Hoobastank that have actual budgets and teams of producers and engineers, not to mention the clashing Ego and Douch factors.

Some of the process is really cool, like the butterflies in your stomach when the music's played back for the first time. But some of it's paintstaking (like when we had to re-record an entire song because I f'd up the time with a single ill-crashed cymbal), and really boring -- see the hours I logged sitting on a stool delicately eating crackers so that the crunch wouldn't bleed into Josh's guitar.

All in all, I'm happy with how it turned out. It's a diverse mix of songs, which I hope smacks of a band finding its sound, instead of one that's oblivious to it. But the bottom line is there's some booty-shakin' rock to be heard, people. It should be packaged and ready to go in the New Year, as well as downloadable from our website. I'll keep y'all posted.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Good Ol' Fashioned Wife-Beatin'
Fatso, who now has access to every nanosecond of television thanks to his new job, brought home the Nick and Jessica Christmas Freak Show. Apparently, Jessica has newer, bigger, better boobs. Far be it for me to complain about boobs, but she's acquiring a frightening Anna Nicole quality that can't be denied. I mean, her stupidity and vapidness are well-known, but as shown in the side-splitting outtakes, she consistently flubbed her lines and missed cues, all with that kind of innocent, 'oops, I messed my diaper' grin of babies and/or the elderly. On top of that, her delivery was flat and a-rythmical. She spoke her lines like a nervous first-grader forced to read her 'What I Did This Summer' essay aloud in class. But the Anna Nicole-ness really shined through when she started singing. Her face got all contorted, like she was fighting off a seizure to get the notes out. She either has real, uncontrollable problems, or was shot in the face with botox too many times. Can't tell.

But whatever. Pop culture is full of borderline retarded people who are apt entertainers, right? So at least she can sing well.... except no, she can't. I think she confused "breathyness" with "class", and "over-emphasis" with "importance". The result was a more-annoying version of the Counting Crows guy.

There were skits in between the songs. Quality-wise, they were more on par with Mama's Family, but watching them, I was reminded of that episode of Dharma and Greg where Dharma does something wacky and Greg is just loveably flustered by it all. Have you seen that one?

Okay, okay. I realize this is family programming and therefore written to entertain even the most imbecilic child, but there's something unsettling (forget brain-hurtingly dumb) about comedy that's centered around this kind of master and dog dynamic. What's more, people LOVE it. I don't know what the ratings were, but if they fared anything like their last special, a lot of people watched. And in some ways it makes sense. The appeal of the show is its conjuring of nostalgia for Christmas, family, etc., within the dynamic of old-timey TV shows, like I Love Lucy. So to play that up, the writers emphasized Jessica as the silly wife, and Nick as the level-headed husband who's constantly frustrated by her hairbrained antics. Except, they really played it up. A lot. In fact, in the outtakes, she's not just playing dumb, she is dumb. Like, so stupid you can't believe your eyes dumb. And he fills his life-imitates-art role, too. I almost get the feeling it's not even about the sex any more. You can tell through his gritted teeth and clenched fists that if his fame wasn't intrinsically linked to hers, he'd just be done with her. His private moments were really the only parts worth watching.

But I digress...

It's just weird to think people watch this show because they're fond of the good ol' days, which apparently were times when husbands could come just shy of hitting their wives for all the stupid things they did. Don't get me wrong. I like a good tree and some lights. A carol or two. Sweater weather. But if you're gonna make a show about it -- please, more ta-tas and less sentimentality.

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