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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Proper

I hear it every year about the Warped Tour from people: I'm not going because the bands suck and it's hot. I'm not going to argue with the heat and the amount of bands that only play for 15-year-old girls, but it's not something I'm one to completely shun. For this year's feature, I focused on Evan Weiss, aka, Into It. Over It. I also recommended five acts you shouldn't miss if you're going.

Also, while a lot of people are talking about their favorite records of the year so far, my editor Audra thought it would be cool to focus on best local releases. I did a small piece on Bad Design's self-titled record.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My first . . .

My First . . . is with Nikki McKibbin, from the first season of American Idol. She was able to squeeze some time in for me last week as she was interviewed by a number of different shows about her experience with Rodney King on a reality show. We talked about music and nothing but. Read the whole thing here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Phantom Cymbal Hits

I finally got around to watching Young Adult yesterday. Jason Reitman delivers another good flick, teamed once again with writer Diablo Cody. Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson, and Patton Oswalt all do a fine job making material that could have been long, painful, and awkward into something worth watching.

But I have to give a lot of credit to editor Dana E. Glauberman because of a small, subtle thing: while showing Nipple Confusion play live, there isn't a phantom cymbal hit.

What the hell is a phantom cymbal hit? It's a common error editors make -- and more proof that most editors are not drummers. This is when the drummer, playing his or her heart out, hits a cymbal and there is no sound. I know, I know, screw continuity when you're trying to get the best performances. Yet when even a concert film like The Song Remains the Same has one (it's towards the end), it seems like standard operating procedure.

I'm thankful how moviemakers, in the past couple of decades especially, have put a bit more faith in actors and actresses performing their own songs. Robert Altman did a great job of casting people who could play and sing in Nashville. Cameron Crowe did one as well in Almost Famous, mixing actual musicians with actors who could act like musicians. Sure beats watching people in older movies (besides Marx Brothers movies) poorly miming the act of playing.

So, is it too much to ask to get more editors to learn the concept of drumming?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Listeners Welcome

After listening to only a couple of podcasts for the past seven years, I finally decided to expand some of those proverbial horizons. A little bit.

These days, podcasts are perfect for laundry day, aka Wednesday. This way, I can retain what's said on a podcast when I'm not writing or reading. The thing is, folding laundry takes up maybe 30 minutes total. But as much as I enjoy Greg and Jim on Sound Opinions and Kevin and Scott on their SModcast network, I wanted some variety. Only took seven years to get to that point.

A few months ago, I asked for suggestions via my Facebook page. I mentioned that I liked Sound Opinions and Reasonable Discussions and hoped that could be a good indicator of what I might want to check out. My friend Sean suggested Low Times, my friend Lance suggested The Nerdist and Mohr Stories, and I had heard my friend Jonah was a part of Going Off Track. Coupled with Bullseye and WTF with Marc Maron and Washed Up Emo, I have a lot to pick from.

And I decided to carve out some extra time, beyond laundry day, to keep up with these podcasts. The only catch is, I can't be reading when I'm listening. I can't focus on reading, writing, or editing while I'm also trying to focus on what's being said. I think about people I know who do that and I wonder how they do it. Or is the podcast just white noise?

I'm up for being exposed to other podcasts, but I have some stipulations:

1) If you sound like you just got out of bed and turned the microphones on, I'm probably not going to listen beyond the first minute.

2) If your level of snark is incredibly high in the first 20 seconds, I'm going to listen to something else. High levels of snark might come across as "reality" to some, but it comes across as the opposite to me.

3) Stay on topic and get to the point!

That's all I'm asking for, and I don't think that's too much. Laundry day is always every week, so I welcome anything more.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My first . . .

This week's edition is with Beat Connection, an electronic-tinged act that's playing Dallas for the first time tonight. Nice guys, and we had a good laugh about our age differences. When they were in first grade, I was in college.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Silence is (not) golden

We all have our crutch words and phrases. They're said out of habit, and the habit is not necessarily a destructive sort of thing. But with me, it's recently come to my attention why I use them and often sound nervous when I do interviews.

Consider the fact that I worked in radio for ten years. Long pauses of silence on the air is not allowed, unless it's a live talk show. If a song or a commercial didn't fire off, a program director is prone to run and scream, "Dead air! Dead air!" I understand why this is something to cause tremendous concern since the sound of silence is the sound of money flying away.

But when I'm interviewing an artist, money isn't flying away when there's a pause. No, that's just me nervous about having an awkward pause. I hate awkwardness and I try to steer clear of it as much as I can.

I conducted an interview last week where things were nowhere near relaxed. Hence the crutch words came out in full force, especially, "I gotcha." The guy called me 45 minutes late and I only had 15 minutes to talk before I had to head to an appointment. The guy was incredibly apologetic about his tardiness (being on tour is always a scramble with floating deadlines and destinations) and I was nervous about asking stupid questions. Luckily, the guy gave me great answers and I hope I made a coherent article out of what he said.

Back when I was working on Post, I started talking in a fast-paced way to keep up with those who spoke that way. This kept the conversation going, but it certainly made a lasting effect on me after the tape recorder was stopped. When I go out and meet up with friends these days, the rapid-fire is frequently on. I have friends who speak that way, and if I can't get something in a three-second window, I'll be cut off. And I hate being cut off.

I find it hard to relax, especially when a publicist tells me that I have 15 minutes. I learned long ago to ask detailed questions and avoid superficial nonsense. Do your research and look for things that intrigue you. You don't have room to bog down the time, so you better ask the best questions before time is up.

I enjoy talking to new people, but I certainly don't enjoy listening to myself nervously getting through a conversation. Makes me think what the person I'm interviewing thinks. So whenever I'm interviewed, I try to be as helpful and approachable as possible, because I know what it's like to be in the hot seat.

And I try not to have any silence between my sentences.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Too Far to (Still) Care

Like last month's discussion on Panter's Vulgar Display of Power, Darryl and I talked about Old 97s' Too Far to Care and Rhett Miller's new solo album. Darryl had plenty to say, so I let him roll on this one.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My first . . .

As I continue to look for my next full-time gig, this week has yielded a lot of writing assignments. And it's funny how they all come together in one blast.

Usually on Sunday nights, I'm not exactly sure what I'll be doing in the following week. By Tuesday, I have a pretty good idea if it's going to be a busy week or not. As I prep another lengthy Q&A with my friend and fellow writer Darryl Smyers and a feature on this year's Warped Tour, here are a couple of things to read to tide you over.

First, this week's edition of My First . . . is with Bryce Avary from the Rocket Summer. And I did a little piece on a forthcoming documentary on the Descendents/All.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Secret Success, Fiasco, or Failure?

How do you break it to someone who's worked really long and hard on a project, and you think it's a total mess? As in, borderline failure? That's been the dilemma I've had for the last few days after I saw a short film a friend of mine made.

For the last few years, my friend has had difficulty finishing anything. Stopping and starting college, he found his calling by doing an intense 18-month film program. After a number of a sleepless nights and at least one moment of stress-induced vomiting, he had a version of his 20-minute film to show friends and family last week.

While I thought the film looked good and the script was fine, I had this sinking feeling shortly into it. The actors sounded like they just sight-read the script and then the cameras started rolling. Many lines, as a result, sounded incredibly stilted and forced.

In hopes of not being the asshole that kicks over the sandcastle, I wrote my comments down on the comment card and hoped that my friend didn't take it personally.

With all the stuff I write, I try to give the benefit of knowing what it's like to work insanely hard on something and it doesn't turn out the way you imagined it. Sometimes it turns out better; many other times it's way worse. But I always give credit to people who actually try to do something instead of constantly complain and criticize.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

My first . . .

My First . . . is with a local band called Noonday Morningstar. Since I know a couple of the guys pretty well, it was pretty easy for them to open up and share funny things, like embarrassing tattoos. Read the whole thing here.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Having the time of your life



Here was something I wasn't expecting this past weekend: a chance to see Mamma Mia! live. My housemate Matt surprised me with tickets on Saturday morning and we saw the afternoon matinee.

But wait. This is Mamma Mia!, required viewing for mothers and daughters everywhere, not two straight males, right? Well, we didn't care and had a wonderful time with an almost packed house.

The draw for us is ABBA's music, something that we've heard since our youth. Pop music in its rich and beautiful scope with more textures than meets the eye. Put into a heartwarming story for the stage, the show is not just some audio/visual cotton candy.

What I take away from the message of the show is do what you want to do. The story might feature more women than men, but I see the message as something beyond gender. Who can't relate to the idea of sticking to what you believe instead of running away from it?

Because of this show (and the movie), I've grown to appreciate ABBA's music more and more. With repeat viewings of the movie, it's a musical-film adaptation done right. So, it's a winner all around for the newbie ABBA fan and the long-timer.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Jason Lives

I never thought I'd say this, but I actually liked a Friday the 13th movie. I didn't love it, but I wasn't throwing things across the room in disgust when I watched it.

That in itself is an accomplishment.

I've made no secret that I detest what the Friday the 13th franchise did for horror movies. Taking the same tactic that the adult film industry did, character development and plot development went out the window in hopes of showing more blood, gore, and nudity. It's what the average viewer wants right? Well, not when it's done with terrible acting and lousy screenwriting.

Knowing full well that I wasn't going to watch some gem, I decided to watch the Friday the 13th reboot made by Platinum Dunes, also the ones responsible for the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake (and sequel/prequel). Mere minutes in, I was surprised how good the film looked. Felt like I was watching something that involved actual effort. And there was some decent acting and character development, even though there was an air of satire to the whole thing.

When I talk to people my age who enjoy horror movies, something from the Friday the 13th franchise is usually brought up. It was a gateway to other movies like Suspiria or Dawn of the Dead. I'm no different because Jason Goes to Hell was a first for me as a ninth grader. Never seen things be so explicit onscreen, and it certainly wasn't the last. A few years later, the Scream franchise came along, and I've been a fan of the genre ever since.

As much as I don't like remakes, rare instances allow movies a better chance. But not every movie is the same. And that's why there's no way I'll check out any of the previous movies from the franchise.