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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tattoo You, Revisited

I don't think there's anything wrong with getting a tattoo. Tats can look good, and I think there's a sense of beauty to them, even if my parents think otherwise. Some friends of mine have tats all up and down their arms and in various spots on their back and legs. These tattoos can be covered up by long-sleeve shirts and pants, so they can still work regular jobs and not be hassled.

But in the last few years, and something that really stuck out to me when I was at South by Southwest this year, it's surprising to see how many twentysomethings have not only a ton of ink on their bodies already, but in places that are very hard to cover up. In particular, the neck and throat area.

I've seen a lot of neck and throat tats on people in Warped Tour bands. A lot of these guys are younger than me, and I don't know if they think they're going to play in bands forever and be on tour forever, but not everybody filled with ink can work at a tattoo parlor or work construction. I know we must all give the youth of America room to be young and stupid, but the permanent nature of neck and throat tattoos is going a little too far beyond the point of no return. Are these things you want to carry into adulthood? Seriously?

I have yet to talk to someone who has one, but seeing one on anybody comes across to me as, "look at this." There's a sense of boldness in getting one and especially claiming to be cool with having this for the rest of your life. You may feel youthful your entire life, but you can't fight the trappings of adulthood and society at large. It's one thing to say "I'll never get married" for years and then eat your words when you get married. This is a whole other thing.

I remember talking with a friend of mine who has an uncle who got a lot of ink when he was younger. He got a ton of tats all up and down his body, including one on his leg featuring a nun with a gun to her head. The guy is not a crusty punk living in a squat or anything like that now: he's a responsible husband and father who lives in the suburbs. I'm sure he gets plenty of odd stares and glances when he goes to the neighborhood pool, but he isn't some deviant to society. Those tats are a reflection of his past life and I'm sure he has a healthy perspective on things. Yet he has to live with these every day of his life now.

This is not a call to people to become lemmings or fall in line. Rather, I just can't wrap my head around doing something so permanently irreversible and impossible to tone down or hide. As common as tattoos are, I highly doubt there will be a time when they are completely accepted by society at large. Seeing somebody with a neck or throat tattoo comes across as a declaration of how far you want to present yourself, society norms be damned. Well, it's one thing to think and speak in your own voice and it's another thing to be judged and dismissed by people before you ever say a word. Face it: not everybody can be like Tommy Lee.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

". . if I ever start referring to these as the best years of my life, remind me to kill myself."

Nathan wrote a piece on a couple of movies released this year that are set in the nineties. Also examining nostalgia in general, he makes some excellent points about why a movie like American Graffiti worked so well in 1973. Simply, these movies are looks at times long since passed and a characterization of more "innocent" times.

But I must say -- not forgetting the fact that I love American Graffiti, The Last Picture Show, and Dazed and Confused, and how I've spent the last four years of my life chronicling post-hardcore before it became commercialized -- nostalgia can be an evil, misleading mindset.

I have not seen The Wackness or August, the two films Nathan mentions that are set in the nineties. That's not really the point at hand. The point at hand is, setting a film in a day and age that was before 9/11 and George W. Bush's time as president. Whether or not that's really going back to a more "innocent" time is in the eye of the beholder. I'm sure there are people who think that way, and that's fine. I think the reason why movies like American Graffiti and Dazed and Confused hold up really well today is because they go beyond the pop culture and vibe of the day and capture a timeless feeling: the twilight of youth.

For me, I can't fully believe that any of my previous twenty-eight years on this planet were flat-out innocent. I might have been innocent, but the world as a whole wasn't.

In the eighties, when I was getting into pop music through Janet Jackson, INXS, and Men at Work on my Walkman radio, and watching Star Wars, Buckaroo Banzai, and Back to the Future over and over again on Beta, there were college students who hated hair metal, preferred for Down By Law over Lethal Weapon, and counted the days until Reagan was out of office. In the nineties, rock music went deeper with me as Nirvana's Nevermind came out when I was in seventh grade and in full-blown puberty. I'm sure there were plenty of people older than me who thought the major labels were exploiting a sound that so many bands before Nirvana had refined.

Basically, it's all about your perspective, and most importantly, the context of the day.

I cannot stress how important context is. In my case, on one hand, my life in college was a lot of fun. Hanging out with people I'd never met before college, working in college radio, being exposed to movies I never saw for rent at Blockbuster, seeing the rise of MP3 sharing, etc. On the other hand, there was a lot of college angst, loneliness, and strained relationships going in my life as well. I'm not saying it was an all-out crappy time, but it wasn't all smiles. The same can be said with my post-college life in 2002. On one hand, I had more time to hang out with my friends who were still in college. . . . And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, the Strokes, and the Hives had incredible records out. But it was probably one of the lowest periods of my life where I felt so worthless because I didn't have a full-time job.

My point is, nostalgia can make people long for a time prior to today and make the present seem hopeless and past the point of no return. I argue that's the nostalgia trap corrupting your memories. And it can continue if you fully believe your best days are behind you. All we have is the present. Besides, how can we say we're living in the present with our in heads almost completely in the past? (I know I'm one to talk, seeing as how it takes a while for me to get over stuff from the past, but I'm just saying.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ask and receive, search and be rewarded

I asked about comics yesterday and Donna and Noel came through with some great recommendations. I highly doubt I would have found these books through fumbling around at my local comics store. Chances are I would have given up and walked away after thumbing through book after book filled with either gritty noir or over-the-top fantasy. Names like Frank King, Rick Geary, and Guy Delisle might not appear on Wizard covers or many Diamond order forms, but their stuff is out there and obtainable.

Why I've expressed a recent interest in getting back into comics is simple: something else to read and that something can't be read on a web site. As awesome as the Internet is, I spend enough time on it already. I'm on it forty hours a week at work, coupled with the few hours I spend on it at home everyday. There are plenty of books, articles, and other things I'd like to read, and coupled with my "between book projects" status, I figured it's high time.

On top of that, I can't forget how powerful Box Office Poison was to me when I first read it. I think in the back of my mind since I read it, I've wanted a similar experience. So, here's to hoping to find something new and worthwhile.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The bat signal is on again

Like a certain podcast I listen to where Greg and Jim play the Rock Doctors, I ask you the reader about suggestions for comics. New or old comics, I don't mind. I've been wanting to get back into reading them for a while, but haven't known where to start. For sanity's sake, I'd prefer to read graphic novels or trade paperbacks rather collect individual issues.

Here are my likes and dislikes:

--Superheroes were great when I was a kid, but I'm not interested in reading superhero comics. I love the recent movie adaptations of Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, and Iron Man. However, I'm not compelled to read neverending arcs on these characters. Maybe I'm still burned by DC's "Officer Down" arc about six years ago.

--I've read Watchmen once. I liked it, but found it a dated, Cold War-era piece that kind of holds up today. Again, I only read it once, so my opinion is not like the ones who've read the book multiple times over the years.

--I'm a big fan of Alex Robinson's Box Office Poison. So much of a fan that I pay a slight homage to it at the tail-end of the Jawbreaker chapter in Post. I enjoyed Robinson's follow-up to Box Office Poison, Tricked, but wasn't blown away by it.

--I liked Andi Watson's Breakfast After Noon and Dumped, but wanted a little more. I liked the subject matter though.

--There was a time when I read almost everything Brian Michael Bendis did. I read Torso a few times, mildly enjoyed Fire, attempted to get through Jinx, read Powers through its first five arcs, and read most of his run on Daredevil.

--As much as I like zombie flicks like Dawn of the Dead and Shaun of the Dead, I haven't had any interest in reading The Walking Dead.

--I laughed really hard at Trade Paperback, which takes aim at superheroes and geek culture in general.

--Books I've heard a lot of praise, but have never read: Preacher, From Hell, Y:The Last Man, 30 Days of Night, and The Dark Knight Returns.

So, help me out here. I know there are at least three readers who are into comics.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Lost in Spaced

Reading Keith's wrap-up of Day 0/Preview Night at this year's San Diego Comic-Con reminded me of my reluctance to go to cons in general. The USA Today article he references states that con attendance has exploded over the years. Cons are now to the point where they're not just for socially-awkward nerds anymore. Since many aspects of geek culture (video games and comics for starters) are mainstream these days, it makes sense why the San Diego Comic-Con is expecting an audience size in the six figures.

But for me, as a socially-awkward person when I'm alone in a big crowd, it's very safe to say I would not pay good money to go to a con or a special Q&A screening. Why? There's simply way too many people going out to these. Just trying to get into one is very hard. I'm not saying things suck once they become popular. It's just for me, the lack of personal involvement is a huge turn-off. I'll still see the shows and movies I'm interested in that premiered at cons. I'll still read the blogs and listen to the commentary tracks by the filmmakers. But I don't want to feel like I'm going to a pro football game when I'm sharing my inner-geekdom with others.

For example, the Spaced Invasion tour recently came to Austin. As awesome as it would have been to see Spaced with Edgar, Simon, and Jessica in person, the advance word about the expected crowd was highly discouraging. I couldn't risk taking off work, driving down to Austin, and hoping that I could get into the event, along with thousands of other people. No thanks, I'll just stick with watching the series on DVD and reading Edgar's and Simon's respective blogs.

Before going any further, I will say that if I got a press pass or had some sort of VIP privileges, I'd go. I think these events would be fun, no doubt. But me, Joe Schmoe, a small digit in a big-digit audience, doesn't want to bother with the crap that regular Joe and Jane Schmoes have to go through. Once again, the equation of the monetary cost versus the possible emotional fulfillment comes into play.

On top of this, I still have a hard time being around incredibly vocal, my-opinion-is-fact people. As Keith experienced a prime example of what I'm talking about:

The line still hasn't moved and I find myself being forced to listen to a man a few yards behind me loudly, confidently, and carefully explain why J.J. Abrams' forthcoming Star Trek revamp will suck. (Something about Uhura and McCoy not actually being on the Enterprise when Kirk took command.) He then shifts into a detailed explanation as to why Jack Nicholson made a better Joker than Heath Ledger. (Something about Ledger not taking enough joy in the performance.)

Reading this, I'm suddenly back in college re-living the following situations: 1) sitting in my dorm's living room listening to a highly-opinionated friend of one of my roommates who constantly talks about anime and cult films, doesn't care about my opinions (or really listens to anything I say), and tells me how lame I am because I don't have the Criterion version of The Killer on DVD. 2) rolling my eyes while listening to a heated debate on Fanboy Radio between a diehard anime fan and an anime nonfan. 3) trying to make eye contact with the clerk at the comic book store I hit every single week. No dice. He just hands me my change and can't look up from the register.

Now, maybe my difficulty dealing with these types of people comes from my own difficulties in life. No, I don't make a eye contact with everyone I see and make a friendly face. But it's not the same. I think it's more of a difficulty being around people I share interests with but don't click personality-wise with.

Remembering the negative experiences is much easier than all the good experiences I had with this crowd. I tend to overlook the following experiences: 1) talking Brian Michael Bendis comics with Scott Hinze before he got Fanboy Radio off the ground and being really excited. A guy who works at the campus radio station that likes Bendis? Hell yes! 2) encouraging Scott to go forward with his comics-oriented show despite our program director at the time thought that people didn't "care" about comic books. I'm still proud of Scott to this day for sticking to his guns. 3) The few very friendly conversations I've had with people who work at the various comic book stores I've been to over the years. These people weren't like the type that just wanted you to buy stuff. They actually wanted to engage people in conversation and recommend titles.

I think it's very safe to say these are many of the reasons why I don't unleash and embrace my inner-geekdom. Such a difficult war to fight.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A date with Destinos

I don't know how well known Destinos is to those who didn't take Spanish in school or those who randomly see it on late at night on PBS, but it is very well known to me. Not only did it help me use Spanish in a more conversational way, but I believe it was the first series I watched from start to finish, in order.

Many years before I watched LOST, Spaced, Dinner for Five, and Twin Peaks chronologically, I watched the worldwide travels of Raquel Rodriguez, searching for the long-lost son of Don Fernando. I saw all fifty-two episodes. And watched the series twice over the course of my six years in Spanish classes split between high school and college. Now that's dedication, even if we were required to watch the episodes.

Destinos follows the soap opera formula: nothing really settles down because something new and earth-shaking pops up. That said, I still think fondly of the show's mix of humor, melodrama, and application of the Spanish language. Unlike a certain daytime soap I was once addicted to for its campiness ("Marlena's possessed!" "Hopefully John will be wearing the goggles" "Sami, you're pregnant?"), I would actually want to watch Destinos again if I had the chance. Arturo and Raquel falling in love! Pati and Juan fighting! Gloria has a gambling problem! Don Fernando has doubts these are his grandchildren! La Gavia must be sold!

I might be wrong, but I believe up until I watched the show, I had never watched a series in order. I think I saw every episode of The Monkees, The Brady Bunch, and the original Scooby Doo mysteries over the course of a few years thanks to syndication. Almost of those shows have self-contained episodes, so it was OK to see the series out of order. But not with Destinos.

So I guess I can chalk up my patience and willing to watch the shows I watch now to something I had to watch as an assignment. Wow, not everything I'm forced to do means bad things down the line. Then again, I never resisted watching the show . . .

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

You be the cat! I be the mouse!

An update on the unwanted guests in our building. After a full week of having a mousetrap set up behind the oven, the mouse didn't take to the peanut butter. I heard it roaming around as I watched An American Werewolf in London late in the evening over the weekend, but I didn't see it. I've decided to move the mousetrap from behind the oven to above it. I didn't like having our oven pushed out of the wall, so it's back in its place. Of course, the smell of burnt mouse poo is back.

I've considered getting poison for the mouse, but for fear that the mouse would die within our walls, the stink would probably remain for weeks. Recalling a time when a rat died above my room while I was going to community college and living with my parents, I didn't want a repeat performance of a month of pure stankery. Now I just hope the mouse leaves on its own volition.

As far as the baby birds in the chimney, I thought they had flown away. I had not heard them in a week until last Sunday night. I still considered setting a fire in the fireplace or sticking a broom up the chimney, but never got around to it. What I did get around to was yelling at them when their chirping got out of control. Recalling a certain angry tone of "Hey!" that an old friend's father who had severe anger issues used, it seemed to work on the birds. For a little while though.

This afternoon, I heard more chirping, and it was pretty loud. I realized one bird was at the base of the fireplace and I tried to pick it up. It attempted to fly out of my hand, but it ending up falling in front of the old bass drum positioned in front of the fireplace. I got out a broom and dustpan, gently put the bird in the pan, and took it outside. I hope it flapped its wings and flew away.

So, disaster averted for now. And I hope this is more proof that I'm not completely heartless and cold to animals.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I'm afraid my condition has left me cold to your pleas of mercy.

Ryan posted a nice little reminder of a certain Batman movie that wasn't directed by Christopher Nolan or Tim Burton. That got me thinking more and more about something I thought while I watched The Dark Knight this weekend: a movie like Batman Begins or The Dark Knight would have never been made twenty years ago.

I'm not so sure I'd say that Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever, and Batman and Robin were sacrificial lambs, but they seem to be with a lot of Batman nuts. I always liked '89's Batman and saw it multiple times on VHS and TV. I proceeded to see the three sequels in the theater, but did not watch them again. It wasn't for any particular reason; I just didn't feel compelled to watch them again. I didn't have that strong of a negative reaction; I just thought they were entertaining. Course, by the time Batman and Robin came out, I started hearing more and more about people being ultra-harsh, mean-spirited, and super-picky, all in a vocal way. It's something I deal with on an almost daily basis.

So it's strange to see what seems like even more people going out to see a denser, darker, and more engaging Batman story. This is a mass appeal movie, right? Twenty years ago, the mere thought of a two-and-a-half-hour movie scaling the depths of Batman's darkness would have been shot down immediately in a pitch session. I find it inspiring that Nolan's Batman movies go for so much more than standard, formulaic moviemaking. There's enough of a mass appeal in the stories, but the movies don't stay in safe zones. You can't pull that off with most movies, but Batman Begins and The Dark Knight are what they are.

For me, I want to see Nolan's Batman movies again and again. Re-watching Nolan's still-incredible-and-fresh Memento again, I realized how there's so much to digest in his movies that you have to rewatch them. You're rewarded if you pay attention, and the rewards pay off with each repeat viewing.

What a difference twenty years makes

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A murderer of love

The headscratching about parenthood continues. In this case, why do fathers seem so scared of their daughters -- gasp! -- being attracted to boys? More specifically, fathers with young daughters growing up and being attracted to boys. Is there some sort of territoriality going on between fathers and teenage boys? What's the real fear?

As I've stated before, I'm not a parent, but I am an uncle with young nieces. I understand that one day, they won't be babies anymore. I also fully understand there will be a point when they hit puberty. I can understand parents want their kids to be as young and innocent as possible, but kids can't stay in a perpetual shell of youthful purity forever.

I see this scene frequently in commercials and movies (most recently, Dan in Real Life and Bad Boys 2): a teenager (from the ultra-niceguy to poseur bad-boy) waits at the door while a nervous father stands side-by-side with his daughter as they open the door. The scene usually ends with the door getting slammed in the guy's face.

The thing that puzzles me is that, chances are, the father slamming the door was probably that teenager at one point. Is this some form of mental hazing? Character building? Prepping for giving the daughter away at a wedding?

So I ask the fathers with young daughters who read this blog (I know there are at least four): what's your take? What am I missing here?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Spaced

If the timing is right, I should be receiving my copy of Spaced: The Complete Series a few days after I turn in all of the book corrections. That's right, the show is finally coming out in Region 1 next week. Even though I have a region-free player, I was hesitant to fork over all this cash for a show I'd never seen before. With some nice and exclusive additions to the supplemental features just for the Region 1 version, I'm glad I waited. But then again, right when the DVD set was announced for us North Americans, I went ahead and pre-ordered before I watched an entire episode.

Thanks to the world of YouTube, I've watched a few episodes and strongly believe this set is well worth the purchase. The show is filled with incredibly smart, fun, and funny stuff. It proves that Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg didn't just create Shaun of the Dead out of thin air.

I must say, a week ago, life just seemed really slow. I thought the slowness would continue for a month and a half until I received my new proofs. That was not meant to be. Now things have picked up again, but they will slow down again next week. I'm glad I have some sort of task at hand coming up. I won't just be watching the episodes; I'll be listening to the commentaries, watching the documentary about the show, and so on. Once all that is through I'll probably be getting ready to be part publicist, businessman, and recipient of guff and praise for what Post is and isn't. I don't what else to prepare for on the horizon.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Uninvited

With the book's final deadline approaching, having new neighbors/roommates move into our house has put a little strain on things. These new inhabitants are not humans though: we have a mouse living behind the kitchen oven and a small nest of newly-born birds in our chimney. For now, they're out of harm's way, but you never know. Ideas swirl in my head, as well as my upstairs' neighbors', about what we can do.

But these ideas -- more specifically, the ideas I've suggested -- sound rather morbid. I'm talking peanut butter mixed with poison in a mousetrap for the mouse, along with setting a fire in the chimney. Am I really that heartless thinking of these things?

For some reason, mice like to get into Juliet's dog food. Whatever diseases they're carrying, I'd prefer them to not get into the food we feed our dog. I'd also prefer to not hear all its squeaks as I leave for work in the morning. I'd also prefer to not smell its fecal matter burning up whenever we use the oven. So, it would be pure good riddance if this mouse assumed room temperature.

As far as the baby birds, they sound only a few days old. They're too young to be burned alive. Seriously though, their nest should be in a tree, not our chimney. Plus, they shouldn't chirp loudly as I attempt to pay incredibly close attention to Memento, especially during Teddy's lengthy explanation in the final scene. Believe me, I've tried moving their nest with a broom, but alas, no dice.

So, there's the dilemma. Are we evil in hoping to make a stand against unwanted guests/residents? It's not like I can fuss at them and ask them to leave.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

14 Days

Well, this was a fast little surprise: new proofs of Post await my corrections. Looks like I have something to do this weekend. Since I can't wait to get everything done, I will start today. Everything is due in fourteen days, so the crunch time has resumed. In the meantime, for related reading, check out this interview conducted by Geoff Rickley of Thursday with Hot Water Music's Chuck Ragan.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

9 Fingers on You

It's not surprising that Shudder to Think is reuniting for a handful of dates this fall. If you want to get really technical, it's not a full reunion: bassist Stuart Hill will not be there, nor will original drummer Mike Russell. Pony Express Record-era drummer Adam Wade will be on the West Coast dates, while 50,000 B.C.-era drummer Kevin March will handle the others. But anyway, Adam played a few shows with Craig Wedren a few years ago, and the only major hurdle in doing a full reunion was the fact that Nathan Larson lives in Sweden.

I'm just glad that people are looking forward to seeing Shudder reuniting. Their Pony Express Record has to be one of the strangest, damaged, but awesome records to come out in the post-Nevermind craze. Highly recommended listening if you wonder how can a band go from Dischord to making even better records on a major label (see also Jawbox's two albums for Atlantic).

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Coverage

We were a band for maybe two years before we were ever in a magazine. And even then, it was like, little, small mentions.

--Jason Gnewikow on the Promise Ring's coverage in the press.

People frequently ask me how I'm going to promote Post once it comes out. Well, I say I've been promoting it for years. This blog was originally started to track the writing progress. Course, lots of other things to talk about came up along the way, making the blog what it is now. But as far as farther-reaching promotional efforts, the operative word is "organically."

There's nothing worse than a crappy piece of work getting a major push in the media. On the other hand, it sucks when there's something great that is impossibly hard to find. In the back of my mind, I thought about how I got into the bands I featured in the book. None of the bands got the mass-exposure treatment. I didn't flip open an issue of AP or Guitar World and find an extensive, multi-page piece on any of the bands. There were small mentions here and there, but intriguing enough to make me want to track down the band's music.

To me, there's something very cool about Aaron's plug in the recent issue of Revolver and his blog beyond the fact that it's a plug. It's the nature of the plug. How Aaron introduced me, and several other people out there, to the Get Up Kids and Braid was through small mentions in AP. There was enough information presented in those mentions that piqued my interest. People can rag on AP for being a Circus-like buyer's guide for the Warped Tour audience, but back in the late nineties, it was the only way for me to hear about pop-punk, post-hardcore, and obscure indie rock. I get the sense it's still serving that purpose for a lot of teenagers and college students.

There are plans to do some coverage on a few sites that have a pretty wide range of coverage. Which ones those are, I won't say at the moment. It's more a matter of, see what happens. I of course will post the links. I'm also kicking around the idea of a book release party here in Dallas. I'm trying to do all promotion on the cheap, hoping that the people who really like the book will simply pass the word along to other people that might want to read the book.

At this point, I want to release the book and not fear cracking it open and finding a major typo. On top of that, I really hope the people I interviewed don't have similar thoughts and feelings like a certain family that was interviewed for a certain book I'm almost finished reading. It would truly suck after spending a number of years researching and editing hoping to leave no stone unturned and get a response like, "The whole thing is completely wrong." But that's to be found out at a later date . . .

Monday, July 07, 2008

Mind the Doors!

Completing the trifecta of my newest Doomed Moviethon reviews: here's my review for Silent Rage and my review for Death Line, aka, Raw Meat.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Action is Go

There was a time when I watched a lot of late Eighties/early Nineties action movies. I'm talking Predator 2, The Perfect Weapon, and Revenge of the Ninja for starters. I couldn't help notice at least one movie playing on a local TV station or HBO on a Saturday or Sunday. Then there was a time when I avoided that kind of movie like the plague. The time when I watched a lot was middle school and high school. The time when I avoided them was college. Now I have a different perspective.

I often hear about people who, after really digging mainstream movies growing up, become exposed to all kinds of other, non-mainstream movies when they go to college. In turn, they tend to take the piss out of super-mainstream movies. I'm definitely guilty of that: part of my college experience was to pounce on Jerry Bruckheimer-produced movies. I don't think I ever ripped apart his movies on a message board or an e-mail list, but I definitely let it be known to my friends that I didn't like his movies.

The deal was, I think I had only seen The Rock and parts of Con Air at that point. Now that number has only grown by a couple as I've seen both Bad Boys movies, and most of Pearl Harbor. The level of disregard has become less, and while I haven't had a complete change of heart, I'll say I've had a better understanding of context.

There's something in our wiring that can make us renounce certain things in college that we loved before we went to college. In my case, it was formulaic action movies. Once I saw The Matrix, The Killer, and Hard Boiled, there was no going back. Movies can be violent, but also have deep substance? So, anything less is just mindless, toxic nonsense, right? Well, when you're just getting into deeper realms of movie-making, yes. But there was a point when I just said to hell with all of that and decided to watch movies I wanted to watch. No matter how arty, complicated, difficult, easy-on-the-eyes, or super-mainstream, if you're interested, watch it, damnit.

I think my change of heart towards formulaic action movies came from repeated viewings of Hot Fuzz, and its five commentary tracks. Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg wrote a movie that pays homage to the buddy-cop genre, but so much more (ie, The Wicker Man, Dirty Harry, Murder on the Orient Express, and so on). Seeing the value that they see in the Bad Boys movies, I have a different kind of perspective.

Rather than the "it's Friday night and I've got nothing to do, so I'll go see some brainless new movie that looks kinda cool, thus making the movie industry believe I want more brainless movies like this" crowd, it's something else. It's an attitude about liking movies as they are, not with an incredibly sharp degree of arrogance, belittling people who don't see the exact same way as you.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Don't give up, never walk away

Being a Journey fan is one thing. Being a fan of their career after Steve Perry's departure is another thing. Both seem to come with some explaining to do, especially if the majority of the music you listen to is worlds away from corporate rock. Well, I've always liked Journey's classic material and have enjoyed most of the band's output post-Steve Perry and Steve Smith. Going to the lengths that I did to hear the band's most recent album, I think about why in the world I did go to all those lengths.

The newest incarnation of the band includes Arnel Pineda on lead vocals. Out of the three singers the band has had since Steve Perry, Pineda sounds closest to Perry. Not to diss Steve Augeri (who did a fantastic job) or Jeff Scott Soto (great singer, but he just didn't sound right with Journey), but Pineda does the job right. He hits those high notes with ease and is a natural. The new Journey material doesn't offer anything new per se, but at this point, I expected strong, poppy tunes along with power ballads. Revelation offers no surprises, and that's fine by me.

The deal is, the only way you can purchase a copy of Revelation is through Wal-Mart. Yes, the same place that refuses to carry albums with "Parental Advisory" stickers and, for a while, carried only full-screen editions of DVD movies. And why in the world would I go to a place like this? Well, my Journey fandom outweighs those details. Besides, Revelation comes with a bonus disc of newly-recorded Journey classics with Pineda on vocals along with a DVD of an entire concert. And all for twelve bucks. I was sold, and I haven't regretted the decision.

Once again, saying all this stuff with a straight face may very well make people question my taste in music. Moreover, my credibility becomes questionable. Especially for those that hated Journey at the height of their commercial popularity, liking Journey now is worse than ever. Well, as I've said before many times before, be honest with yourself and don't be afraid to say you love what you love, no matter how un-hip it may seem. If I really wanted to impress people, I'd only talk about the hip bands I'm listening to while I also rocked out to stuff that's older, from a year ago to thirty years ago. Well, that sense of secrecy still doesn't jive with me.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Is it safe?

The past five weeks have been extremely busy with prepping Post for production. Another page-one edit was done, this time with the assistance of a semi-secret editor who knew nothing about the bands or labels, but really understood the material. Nothing in the book's structure changed, but a lot of grammar and overloaded sentences were re-tooled. Hopefully these changes didn't make the overall book feel "overproduced."

Now that the final edit has been sent off to the publisher, I will see a new proof in about a month-and-a-half. I will have two weeks to make any last-minute corrections before the book goes into production. After that, I should have a release date.

Make no mistake, filling up free time on afternoons and weekends to edit was really tedious. But what the hell else was I going to do? Drink a lot and watch a lot of movies? I can do that at any point in my free time. I guess it's understanding the amount of free time I have and taking advantage of it. Any conversation I have with a parent reminds me of how much free time I have.

I won't lie, I have a bit of the jitters now. Kind of like someone who's about to get married, wants to get married, but is a little afraid of change because a number of things just won't be the same. Such is life: we can try to make the best things we can, but we don't really know until we unleash them out into the world at large.