Monday, June 22, 2009

Kid Drawing Of The Day

Mommy, how are babies made?

My sister is pregnant with her first child. My 6 year old son is fascinated, not so much with where the baby came from, but HOW IT'S GOING TO GET OUT.

We've been vague on the subject so he devised his own theory, which actually isn't that far off. What's awesome is his vision of how it's all going to go down.

This is the card he drew for his Aunt's baby shower, depicting for her exactly what she can expect on the big day.

(click image to enlarge)

Note not just the baby emerging from a gaping hole cut into the mother's stomach, Alien style ("Don't worry, they're going to give you a shot so it won't hurt as much even though it's still going to hurt probably a lot"), but also the entire undigested contents of her stomach tumbling out, Jaws style.

I particularly like the un-melted ice cream cone.

Who knew the miracle of child birth included a buffet?

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Bob Wilkins 1932 - 2009

In the fall of 1977 we were living in Piedmont, CA, a tiny bedroom community next door to Oakland. I was in preschool.

One day, picking me up from school, my Old Man was chatting with one of the other dads who was in a big hurry, "We've got to hustle home in time for Captain Cosmic." His son was practically pulling him out of the room.

"What's Captain Cosmic?", the Old Man asked.

"Oh, Captain Cosmic," (cue full on where-HAVE-you-been inflection) the guy said. "It's this new kid show on channel 2 starring the same guy from Creature Features, Bob Wilkins. But instead of the glasses and cigar, he dresses up like one of the guys from Star Wars and shows these science fiction kids shows. It's on every day at 4 PM, we can't ever miss it."

So that afternoon at 3:59 PM, I tumbled down the stairs into our basement, which was our adapted playroom, complete with television set, record player, Star Wars posters, and crib for my baby sister.

This is what I watched:

Oh, it gets better.

In addition to having in-studio guests like Anthony Daniels (C3P0) and Nichelle Nichols (Uhura from Star Trek), the main content of the show was old Japanese tokusatsu ("special effects") shows from the 60's.

Ultraman was my favorite...

But Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot was right up there...

We even got to send away for official Captain Cosmic decoder cards. Just like Ralphie in A Christmas Story, I remember coming home every day asking if my decoder card had arrived. Finally one day it did:

It was sweet. It wasn't even laminated, but who cared? I wrote my name on the front and it had a unique serial number on the back. Every day there'd be a different code and we'd scribble it down. It was never quite as lame as "Don't forget to drink your Ovaltine", but it was usually something like "May the force be with you."

One day tragedy struck. The card got left in my pants pocket and it went through the wash. My Cosmic Crypto-Code Card was turned into a piece of mush.

The show was big part of my afternoons for at least a couple of years. It finally went off the air in 1979 in 1980.

After fighting Alzheimer's for many years, Bob Wilkins, the man behind the mask, died yesterday at 76.

I'm really sad. I never even met the man. But I guess anyone who's a part of your childhood memories is important. Especially a guy who wears a cape and a helmet and has a robot named 2T2.

The Colonel says, "At ease, Captain."

Friday, December 05, 2008

Best Albums of 2008

Here we go again.

First off, let me start with a few things.

Thing #1: The era of the ALBUM is OVER.

And good riddance. For those of you not steeped in pointless music history and trivia, the album is a contrived format devised by record companies long ago. 10 songs, 45 minutes long. One per year, by contract.

Music is art. It has to be inspired, written, and recorded. Some artists are prolific and can crank out good music by the truckload. Some artists are not. They might write one or two really good songs a year.

Thing #2: Digital music is the best thing to happen to music in decades.

The music labels tanked. Singles are back. Packaging and record covers have bitten the dust. And most importantly, the musicians and songwriters are, for the first time EVER, in control of their own art.

And that, my friends, is great news for us. $16.99 for an overpriced CD? Fuck that. Ten bucks and it's yours on iTunes (that's like $4 in 1988 dollars). Just want that ONE SONG? Done. A buck. Want three songs from this album and two songs from that album? You got it.

Oh, and the choice. Such choice. No longer is recording music as much a result of where you live or whether or not you're savvy enough to land a record deal. Anybody can record music now. For the price of a canvas, some wood, and some paints, you can put it on wax.

So to speak.

Thing #3: 2008 was the best year for music EVER.

You can take 1967 or 1977 or 1991 and shove them up your nostalgic butt. In 2008 the global musical cup runnethed over. There was so much unbelievably good music this year that I almost didn't even attempt to write this list. There was/is so much to choose from, it's like sifting through a haystack of hundred bills trying to find the crispest ones.

So with that said, here we go...

The Best Albums of 2008

Okay, the era of the album might be over, but a lot of artists are having trouble getting past it. Which is okay. We'll get to the singles next. There are so many talented songwriters out there, there are bound to be a few who love the 10/45 format and have no problem cranking out classic slabs.

Here are the best five...

5. The Charlatans - You Cross My Path
In 2005 the best album of the year was Echo & The Bunnymen's Siberia. This year one of the best was from another British throwback who, even though most people don't know it, aren't throwbacks at all. The Charlatans have been recording and touring all this time. And this is actually one of the best albums they've ever done.

It's got the groove and maturity of 1999's Us And Us Only, but with the hooks and pep of their early Madchester days. Get it, geezer.

4. Lindsey Buckingham - Gift Of Screws
Yes, THAT Lindsey Buckingham. And if you ever wondered who the real talent behind the mid/late 70's incarnation of Fleetwood Mac was, don't call up Mick. It was the American (and I'm not talking about the pudgy witch).

Put Rumours away for a week and crank this up instead. It's the new Fleetwood Mac album you've been waiting for since Tusk. It's modern, it rocks, Lindsey's guitar work is phenomenal, the songs are amazingly produced, and its got one of the best album titles in ages. Oh, and Lindsey's voice is still fantastic.

3. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
Overplayed? Maybe. Overhyped? Probably not. Only hip-hop and Britney-pop gets truly overhyped. Do they sound like Graceland-era Paul Simon. Yes. Got a problem with that?

We've been listening to Beatles ripoffs for 40 years now. It's about fucking time someone ripped off Mr. Simon's best album ever and one of the best discs of the entire 1980's. Only this time around, throw in some punk, some ska, and give it a good dose of new school irony that only a generation weened on Green Day could infuse. Not that you need me telling you this. You probably already own it. Good for you.

2. Low Vs. Diamond - Low Vs. Diamond
Rock is back. Pianos are back. And, thank the lord, good voices are back. This is what happens when new wave alt. rock meets real production.

The songs are catchy with sweeping arrangements and fantastically lush fusions of guitars and pianos. Think Brian Ferry meets Steely Dan, with a little Joe Jackson thrown in for drama and edge. Think the Killers...but without that retro desperation. Oh, fuck it. Just get it. And sing along until the people in the cars next to you start taking photos of you, the unapologetic singing retard, with their camera phones.

1. The Grand Archives - The Grand Archives
Before I pontificate, this is what I saw at 12:30 one night, lying in bed, aimlessly flipping channels.

Thank god for TiVo. I actually rewound it, woke my wife up, and made her watch it. She immediately fell back asleep, because she's lame when she's woken up in the middle of the night and forced to watch the Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson, but I probably watched it three or four more times, wrote the name of the band down on a paperback book and bought the album the next morning.

The album is, simply, majestic. I hadn't heard bearded hipsters sing so beautifully since my Old Man finally stopped playing his CSN albums in the late 70's. Every song is more melodic and entrancing than the last. It's everything I loved about the Shins first album - the atmosphere, the sparse, delicate harmonies - but with better vocals.

And at right around 35 minutes, it's that perfect length that makes you play it again the second it ends.

To plagiarize myself 7 years ago: Buy it, borrow it...fuck, STEAL it if you have to. Get this album.

The Best SONGS of 2008 Coming Next...

Kid Quote Of The Day

Daddy, are lobsters animals?


Daddy, are shrimp animals?


Daddy, are beef animals?

Are bees animals?

No, are beef animals?


Yes, like a BEEF TACO.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Album Of The Day

Parthenon Huxley is the best songwriter you've never heard of. And his band, P.Hux, is the best rock band you've never cranked up on your stereo.

P.Hux's first album, "Deluxe" (unfathomably now out of print), was my favorite album of the year in 1995. I even put that in writing, topping my "Best of '95" list for the Daily Aztec at SDSU, beating out great records from Belly, Matthew Sweet, Supergrass, Blur, and Radiohead.

So as not to bog things down with 12 years of interim albums, side projects, and personal tragedy, let's cut to the chase: P.Hux has a new album, "Kiss The Monster", and it's the best album of the year. Again.

How good is it? It's perfect. Perfect pop rock. It's the best of all worlds: instantly hummable melodies and rock candy crunchy guitar riffs, anchored by superb musicianship ("great chops" as my cousin would say), bold production, thoughtful, poetic, human lyrics, and echoes of the Beatles, ELO, and The Move.

Fuck it. Just go to the iTunes store and listen to all the samples. Buy it. Tell your friends. If you live on the East Coast, go see him live.

If Echo and the Bunnymen's 2005 "comeback" album, which went totally ignored, was a sign that the music industry is fucked, P.Hux playing living room shows in Baltimore should have hell freezing over as I write.

If you're even slightly sick of the shit on the radio. If the 50 Cent vs. Kanye West showdown has your eyes rolling back into your head. If you want an amazing record no one else has, that you can show off to your friends when they ask you, "This is really good...who IS it?"

Turn yourself on to P.Hux.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

New Word Of The Day


It means "black rims" (or "black rimz" for you more urban types).

I'm not sure about the rest of the country, but here in Orange County the latest cheesy bling trend is black rims. They're just like the shiny chrome rims that people have been pimping out their cars with for years, only completely black. It's sort of "macho pimped" and very popular amongst big black truck owners (black trucks, not owners...the owners are usually white).

Anyhow, the fact is that black rims, at first and sometimes second glance, look just like wheels that have had their hubcaps removed or stolen.

I could go on but a picture is worth a thousand words...

Above: some typical black rims.

Above: Griswold family truckster, minus hubcaps.

You can also refer to them as "Cousin Jackies". As you'll recall, after Sparky was told to go "fuck yo mama" whilst driving lost through the hood, he received some directions back to the interstate that instead wound up being a diversion to a cousin, Jackie, who apparently sits all day in a Ford Torino. Meanwhile, their hubcaps got nicked.

Anyhow, my neighborhood is actually covered in Range Rovers, Hummers, Suburbans, and even one horribly disgraced Jaguar, all of whom apparently ventured through the same neighborhood in East St. Louis and got their hubcaps stolen just like the Griswolds.

The fact is, rims are bad enough when adorning the underside of affluent middle-class suburbanites, but these are just hideous because they don't even have the requisite bling characteristic of being SHINY. It's like a whole new category of understated tackiness.

And all I can say is, "Excuse me, holmes?"

Friday, August 03, 2007

Non Endemic Surf Journalism Excerpts Of The Day

Surf journalism is one of the lowest forms of journalism, or even writing for that matter, on Earth. It ranges from smoke-to-colon-blowing fan mail to shameless corporate marketing disguised as reporting.

(Hey, I may be a corporate shill, but nothing I get paid to write pretends to be anything other than a grammatically incorrect sales pitch.)

Anyhow, one nice slice of irony related to surfing's embarrassingly endemic (i.e. "inbred") culture, is that every once in a while some decent surf writing appears in print. And it's almost always by the pen of a non-surfer, or at least a non-ex-pro surfer, which in surfing's cousin-fucking bro/brah network, is right up there with a bobsled team from Jamaica.

Anyhow, today's bit of outsider art comes from Cintra Wilson, a regular Salon columnist, and via Matt Warshaw's very decent collection of surfing called, "Zero Break." In 1999 Wilson attended the Lacanau Pro in France (and the Pipe Masters in 2000) and wrote up what are still the funniest, most dead-on descriptions of pro surfers anyone will ever have the pleasure of reading.

If you will...

Ken Bradshaw & Layne Beachley
Bradshaw seems to have built Layne Beachley, his much younger girlfriend, out of the refuse of his own frustrated ambitions. He coaches the living shit out of her. She is his creature; they walk around the beach smug and tan like the Tom & Nicole of the watersports set, and he shapes her surfboards with obnoxiously classified measurements and she publicly gushes over him whenever she wins anything and its all kind of grimy."

Andy Irons
Andy has a knack for showing up on videos half drunk and talking in an especially depraved-sounding Hawaiian patois -- a nearly unintelligible melange of surfer dude-isms and mangled English -- and coming off like a real parking lot alky with a big foam head. But on the positive side, he's a really exciting surfer with the kind of brute animal energy that makes your blood pay attention. You can find Andy on the last page of the latest issue of Surfer, charging the tube holding a can of Bintang Pilsner, with his eyes rolling half up into his head, looking red, bloated and poisoned like fat Elvis."

Megan Abubo

"Megan Abubo had a quietly bratty manner and big Walkman earmuffs on her head, and dressed way down in shapeless casuals like a sullen teenage raver, looking like she needed to be grounded or spanked or something."

Brock Little
"Brock Little looked like a piece of animated driftwood. He'd been absolutely chiseled by the teeth of the ocean, physically and spiritually -- he had the look of somebody who's died six or seven times already and is now a project of voodoo scientists, running on some whole other ghost chemical. All the blood in his body has been removed and replaced with concentrated adrenaline and a clear, high-octane bionic fluid made from denatured testosterone and the distilled essences of his dead friends, which makes him beautiful and creepy to look upon."

Pro Surfers
"A vast majority of surfers are built like sea turtles -- short as hell. Most of the women are barely over 5 feet; many of the men are barely over 5-5 with wide torsos and really short legs and arms with wide hands like flippers, and long, rubbery spines that seem to have too many vertebrae, like the Ingres Odalisque. Extremely low center of gravity. The Brazilian pros are practically Oompa Loompas - they weigh little more than the chicks, and it does nothing but magical things for their wave ability."

"There are the odd bullheaded tantrum-throwers like Hawaiian tiki monster Sunny Garcia, who had a couple of colorful shit-fits and poked some guy in the chest while we were there, but for the most part, all the petty parts of surfers' brains seem blasted away by the overpowering waters and they have the weird, gentle majesty of giraffes or monks."

You can read the Lacanau Pro article here and the Pipe Masters article here. You will laugh until you spew Primo beer from your nose.

Surf jounalists, hear me now and believe me later (thank you Hans, thank you Franz): your writing is girlie-man shit and not one of you has ever written a thing that wasn't corporate co-opted cheerleading crap. You write for trade magazines that aren't even as even-handed as trade magazines.

You are also a bunch of pansies. Before you even finish reading this you should pull your free Hurley boardshorts up your ass as hard as you can - a well-deserved wedgie which would have hurt a lot more back when you were stuffed in nylon Katins.

Cintra, you rule. Daniel Duane? You rule, too. Weisbecker? Rules.

The rest of you? Get back to work. Isn't your "wetsuit guide" almost due?

Friday, March 16, 2007

Faux Simpsons Scene Of The Day

Homer stumbles home from Moe's, wasted. After a heated but hilarious argument with Marge, she screams at him, spurring one of his elaborate fantasies.

MARGE: Homer, you're not only going to Hell but you're going to drive there DRUNK!"

We see Satan. His face is aghast. He screams.

SATAN: You idiot! We just had these installed!

Homer has crashed into the gates of Hell, his car is angled up on a pile of rubble that was once the side of a decorative gate. The driver's door opens up and empty beer cans come tumbling out.

HOMER (SLURRING): Whoa, man, that came out of nowhere...

Satan suddenly sees one of the Hounds of Hell pinned under the car's wheel. The dog is yelping.

SATAN: Oh my goodness, REMUS!
HOMER: Wait, shut up man, I love this part...

The car is still running and Homer suddenly cranks up the stereo, blasting "Too Much Time On My Hands" by STYX, singing along at the top of his lungs, getting all the words wrong, while Satan, looking flustered and weepy, tries to free Remus from under the car.

Cut back to Homer and Marge in the bedroom.