Saturday, August 19, 2017

An Old Man Looked Directly at an Eclipse. His Reason for Doing it Will Change You Forever

If there's one thing I learned when I was twelve, it's that you shouldn't believe everything you read on the internet.

It was a simpler animal back then and it usually wasn't the main source for news or a place to check facts. The idea that most people who used computers with any regularity were bespeckled nerds who lived in their mothers' basements. And while this notion has survived with a small segment of the 71 year old man-child demographic, it is deemed by most to be false. Everyone is connected now.

And with everyone connected, there is so much information available that it is overwhelming. There's no way to consume it all, let alone give it the critical analysis it likely deserves. Part of that critical analysis involves fact checking, and fact checking involves work. And it can be boring and tedious. So it doesn't happen as often as it should.

And so we make our lives easier by going with sources we think we can trust and we let them do the work for us. Sometimes this is good, but sometimes it's bad. And when it gets really bad is when the people who don't fact check (or just manufacture stories with no factual content) convince the naive that they are trust worthy.

Want to Lose Wrinkles? Use This Crazy Tip Every Day.

Clickbait. It's everywhere. And, like telemarketing, I am still amazed that it works on some people.

Clickbait is so prevalent that there are entire websites dedicated to lampooning it. And yet it seems to slip into every little crevasse and navigation sidebar with advertising space. And while it's easy to spot, I've come to the realization that we are now a nation run by clickbait.

Our Commander-in-Chief, a declining huckster mired in the depths of dementia, is exactly the kind of person that falls for this nonsense all the time. Combine that with his insatiable lust for attention and you get something particularly nasty. He's like clickbait come to life, but with the power to inform how we live. (And, depending on how the dick-measuring contest with North Korea or his healthcare repeal efforts go, he has the power to inform how we die, too.)

It is in this environment that the sun has decided to hide from us behind the moon.


So what the fuck am I going on about here anyway? What does the eclipse have to do with our cultural decline or the gullibility of the public? Well, nothing really. Or at least not something I'm in any place to comment on.

But it is now that the forces of Wayne Diego (Nic Ouzo, Joe Reefer, and myself) are back in the same place. Watch out, world!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

News you can use!

(And abuse ... ?)

There is a design philosophy that if you want to change the look of your medium (magazine, newspaper, website, etc.) that you should make several small changes instead of one big change. The idea is that people won't notice the small changes (or will be more accepting of them) and, eventually, the medium reaches the same end: a new design. This also makes for less "Letter to the Editor" complaints from old people who "liked the old format just fine."

Here at WDR, we do not subscribe to this philosophy. We pretty much just go, "Oh, look: New templates and design options!" Then we fuck around with EVERYTHING. Which brings us to this entry. You may have noticed (unless you're new to the site) that there have been some changes to the format. In true WDR spirit, I doubt the current look will last all that long. But, I think we can make some serious progress on this thing if we put some effort into it.

Also, I'm proud to announce that WDR will be adding a new, semi-regular segment for reviewing dollar-bin albums. We've collected quite a few gems in the last few years and should have the first of these reviews up sometime tomorrow this week.

So look out, world! WDR is doing stuff!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Arcade Fire Fucking Blows

And I can prove it...scientifically

Today saw the long-awaited new release from indie darlings The Arcade Fire. Everybody seems to be a fan of them, from musicians to critics to Serious Music Lovers. Though this is only their third album, each one is treated like an "event". Each album gets rave reviews and numerous accolades, and we as the music-buying public are supposed to applaud the band for showing us the Right Way to make music, I guess.

Frankly, this shit has got to stop.

This all began with the Arcade Fire's debut album, Funeral. It had near universal acclaim, scoring in the 90s on MetaCritic. It was hailed as a triumph, with beautiful musicality and a heartbreaking story of the deaths that surrounded the creation of the album. Very touching, very moving, and truly an Experience for the listener. If only all music was this good!

I never understood this. When I listened to Funeral, all I heard was an overblown yet turgid piece of tuneless crap, which shows absolutely no sense of musicianship or songcraft, nor any appreciation of the concept of "melody". There was so much wrong with this album, that I probably would never give it a second listen.

Actually, to tell you the truth, it wasn't that bad. It's only bad in comparison to the ridiculous expectations that the breathless reviews provided. It's a pretty forgettable record on the whole--there a couple of half-hooks that might stick in my head, but for instance, I wouldn't keep a record of how incredibly incompetent the drumming is if I hadn't read all the ridiculous praise heaped on this album. It will be at the top of album-of-the-decade lists all over, it's been hailed by some as an album-for-the-generation, and all I can think is "this band doesn't even know how to write a goddamn chorus". And it still wouldn't be as bad if it weren't for the fact that every time I read a review of a band that I like that they attempt to compare the band to The Arcade Fire. I'm sorry, Do You Like Rock Music? in no way sounds like anything the Arcade Fire would ever write or even possibly consider writing. It's actually good, dammit.

I've said this before in various forms, but I can sum up my feelings about the Arcade Fire in this way. They're inessential--their schtick has been done endlessly before, by numerous better bands. If I wanted an exercise in tuneless songcraft, I'll put on Slanted & Enchanted and at least be fucking entertained. If I wanted an album that explores the tensions between life and death and channeled grief into beautiful music, I'd look to eels' Electro-Shock Blues, one of the most gorgeous albums ever made and which runs the gamut of emotions, all to amazing beautiful music. Hell, if I felt I was in the mood to listen to random Canadian collectives, I'd throw on some Godspeed You! Black Emperor if I wanted the avant-garde or Broken Social Scene if I wanted a group that can at least write a decent melody every 2 of 5 songs. If I wanted just pure swelling emotion through an indie-rock veneer, I'd go with something like British Sea Power or The Walkmen. Jesus, there are millions of better goddamn choices than the fucking Arcade Fire.

For this post I decided to listen to Funeral again. And when I realized that I was getting angry writing down everything that was wrong with the album, I decided to listen to it another time. I ended up listening to this album a total of 3 times, and it did not improve on any listen. I've listened to this album at least 10 times, which is amazing for a band that I don't care for. But you know what? I did it for you, the reader. And here I am, going track-by-track through the mess that is Funeral

The album begins fine enough, with the first of four "Neighborhood" songs. Is there a theme running through these songs? Is there a reason why they're broken up into two sections by another song, and not referenced in the other half of the album? No. That would make too much sense. But at least "Neighborhood #1" has a vague sense of propulsion and forward momentum going for it. There is chordal movement, and not only that, it makes musical sense. It builds and builds and...just kind of plateaus, as the singer sings more and more out of key. There's a drum fill that seems to indicate a chorus at about the 3 minute mark, but that just leads to another verse. Oh sure, the lyrics are written as a chorus, but IT'S THE SAME GODDAMN MUSIC AS THE VERSE. This is an infuriating pattern which repeats itself OVER AND OVER AGAIN over the course of the album. There's no goddamn resolution to any of this.

The next "Neighborhood" song features more irritating vocals, this time processed to shit and double-tracked with another out-of-tune track. I'm really not a person to harp on singing, since I myself cannot sing (despite my karaoke renditions of "It's Not Unusual") and love many bands that barely know how to sing, but I mean, these are just bad. At least this song has a bridge. Sure, it really kind of goes nowhere, but we have to give them credit.

Then we break up the Neighborhoods with the pretentious French-titled song. Look, we get it, you're from Canada, you know French. It's not helping your case--please use second languages sparingly, when they add to a song, like in "Psycho Killer" or in "Vamos". This song is otherwise harmless enough, kind of pleasant, until the random rave-up at the end. Completely unnecessary, and totally out of place.

Then another Neighborhoods song, where WE'RE GOING TO ROCK THE FUCK OUT! Hell yeah! Let's vamp on two chords for five minutes, and do nothing worthwhile over the top of it! Jesus fucking Christ, if you're going to do a two-chord song, pick two chords that you can sing over. Inexfuckingcusable.

Then A FINAL NEIGHBORHOODS SONG. Some boring finger-plucked guitar, and is kind of pleasant, then fades out without a real resolution. Lazy as fuckall.

"Crown of Love" is next, which I like to call the bastardization of "Save the Last Dance For Me". While not exactly the same, it hits enough of the same points to piss me off. Save yourself the time and listen to the Walkmen cover that song on Pussy Cats. It would be bad enough as it was, but then 3/4 of the way through the song randomly morphs from a fucking waltz to a goddamn four-on-the-floor kind of stomp, for no fucking reason whatsoever. And then it fades out. Of course it does.

"Wake Up" is one of the better songs on the album, but that's only because the riff is similar to the one used by Japandroids on "I Quit Girls". Since the Arcade Fire came first, due props their way, but the other guys did more with it. This song has an honest-to-god chorus, which again gives it a leg up on the competition. THEN IT FUCKING SQUANDERS EVERYTHING by morphing into fucking "Walking On Sunshine" at the four-minute mark.

The next song "Haiti" does us all a favor and has somebody not named Win Butler singing the song. Regine gives us this respite, at the very least. Frankly, after suffering through 7 songs up to this point I'm willing to forgive the obnoxious flute riff and the lack of actual melody.

This leads into easily the most excitable track from the album, "Rebellion (Lies)". I would be one of those that liked this song, but of course I thought about it for more than 2 seconds. At least there's a melody here, a very sing-song nursery rhyme type riff that repeats over...and over...and over again. The counter-melody of "lies lies lies" also has this same quality. The song has a nice forward momentum, which it completely squanders BY NEVER FUCKING GOING ANYWHERE. THERE'S NOT A REAL CHORUS IN THIS GODDAMN SONG. IT'S THE SAME FUCKING CHORDS, IT'S THE SAME FUCKING DRUM PATTERN, IT'S THE SAME FUCKING EVERYTHING! Hold, on let me channel Mugatu for a moment:

Just because you repeat something a dozen times, doesn't make it important. "Underneath the covers" doesn't mean jack-shit.

The album ends with "In the Backseat", another slow song that is almost pleasant. IT'S SAYING SOMETHING IMPORTANT! YOU CAN TOTALLY TELL! SO IMPORTANT WE WON'T ARTICULATE WORDS, BUT JUST SING NOTES! YES! I CAN FEEL IT! TAKE ME FUCKING THERE!...Then the song just filters out, and does nothing.

We can essentially boil down the issues to this: the band can't write a chorus, it can't write an ending, it can't write a halfway decent melody or hook, and the drummer has to be either the crappiest drummer on the planet, or the laziest fucking human being ever recorded. This guy makes the drummers for AC/DC and the Dandy Warhols look like fucking Keith Moon and Neil Peart.

Oh yeah, the band also has ridiculous extraneous percussionists. That's right, the Arcade Fire is the goddamn Slipknot of indie rock.

There's no real use in going over the other albums.. Neon Bible had their best approximation of a real goddamn song with "Keep the Car Running", but then it is filled with crap like "Black Mirror" which again violates the "no unnecessary foreign languages rule". And fuck them for naming the album after the other book by John Kennedy Toole, who wrote the amazing A Confederacy of Dunces, one of the great American novels. And The Suburbs? You're from Canada, you don't know what the hell a suburb is. Go to hell.

So there you go, scientific proof that The Arcade Fire Fucking Blows. Make good use of this information, and spread it to the masses. Hopefully, one day, the history of this band will be written correctly.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Memos from a Cold, Dark Place

Attention loyal WDR readers - it has come to our attention that transmissions from this heart of satellite hearts have not been reaching our audience of alcoholic pre-tweens and banana bread rape enthusiasts. We have been doing everything we can to correct this heinous dilemma, whilst issuing our usual high-quality journalism into the void. Technicians are standing by to address the problem, but so far it seems like we were just holding the website wrong. We will try to do better from now on, always grasping with two gingerly placed fingers, or coating the outside of the site with duct tape. In the mean time, please enjoy some excerpts from the posts you have missed while we weren't delivering them to you:

  • Joe Reefer delivered a powerful expose on the benefits of canned corn:
"Look, I don't care if beans are rice are less expensive, you can eat this meal twice with just a little time and money invested into a straining system!"
  • Mr. Zhuang taught us a little bit about life, and a lot about love:
"Some people will tell you it's wrong. Some people will tell you that a ten year old isn't ready for that kind of intimacy. Some people will tell you that you can send in your Spiderman action figure with RMA #53772444783366565 and they will replace it with one less prone to nocturnal penetration. I wasn't about to let convention stand in my way, and after a summer of hard work at Mr. Hendrekson's beef and cattle feed market, I made my first mail-order Vaseline purchase - but rest assured, it would not be my last. I guess in the end, Cat Stevens was right when he said 'the first cut is the deepest'. We all had our cuts that warm summer, some on the outside when we tripped and fell.. and some on the inside, because we were putting action figures up our butts."
  • The gang put together their lists of favorite '80s albums:
{Entries not found.}

  • Nic Ouzo had a little something to say about the Obama White House, and its position on bran tariffs:
"...fuck cap &
trade, fuck capitol gains tax, fuck a mother's right to choose, fuck
highway interchanges with odd numbers of intersecting highways, fuck the standar
d model of particle physics, fuck low resolution liquid crystal displays, fuck arm & hammer body wash, fuck rent controlled housing, fuck low quality hifi systems with two nearly identical subwoofers lacking any clarity in mid- or high-ranges, fuck peter sellers I love that guy, fuck The Beatles because
paul was never the motherfucking walrus, fuck the Zionist conspiracy that is American Democracy, the Denver
International Airport is a portal to hell, there is proof strewn throughout the entire grounds, have you seen the Nazi murals and stone mason emblems? Fly through Colorado and risk your very soul, ladies and gentlemen, we can not stand for this. You think they put fluoride in your water to protect your teeth? Countless studies show that ingested fluoride does next to nothing for oral health, only topical application makes any measurable effect, yet we keep pumping it into our drinking water even though it is more deadly than arsenic. Read The Bible, all your questions shall be answered in the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and a new will and testament of God's grand plan for humanity will be delivered unto the world in the form of a tattoo across a thousand hos' backs broadcast on YouTube as they march forward displaying their tramp stamps to the opening theme of Star Wars. God bless America, Si Se Puede, Etc Etc. Amen. Fuck Cindy Lauper."

  • Joe Reefer addressed the Tiger Woods scandal:
"Hey, er, you hit him pretty hard there Elin."
As well as the BP/Gulf oil crisis:
"This never would have happened if John McCain were president. He never would have trusted the Brits to engage in deep sea drilling, having fought the redcoats during the revolutionary war."

Maybe the next time you tuck yourself in at night, stale and alone in your room with your fondest memories only anecdotal recollections of the past - you'll remember to fucking tell us when you don't see updates to the blog. Jesus Tap-Dancing Christ (am I spelling that right?) we aren't psychic, no matter what our mom thinks, you need to let us know about these things!! So let us close now on a few words for the ages, for he who casts cold stone creameries in glass houses need pay the deposit for windshield replacements unless you are lucky and find one of those places that will reattach broken rearview mirrors for free under the misguided assumption that you will return there out of loyalty when you need actual glass replacement for your automobile:

"Wait.... what?"

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

List-O-Mania! The Best 50 Albums of the 80's (Part II)

As promised, the WDR crew is ready to present their lists for the 50 Best Albums of the 80's. Why only 50? Easy--because the 80's blew. We're continuing with the second half of Nic's list.

Before I get to the top 25, I wanted to list some of the artists that didn't quite make the cut, and offer some justifications in order to temper your potential righteous indignation.

The Fall: Too many albums, and I can't distinguish between them.
Leonard Cohen: His 80s work was, how we say, cheesy.
Mission of Burma: A band I've gotten into as a result of their recent reunification; sadly, I haven't gotten the chance to dig into their classic material.
Michael Jackson: Because he doesn't need to be included on any other lists. Plus, I like Off The Wall better.
Talking Heads: Their best stuff was in the 70s (Remain in Light was released in 1980), and no live albums means Stop Making Sense unfortunately doesn't make it.
Eric B. and Rakim: They're not on the list because I'm a cheap bastard and haven't bought Paid in Full yet.
My Bloody Valentine: Isn't Anything is a good album, and that's it.
Prince: Probably the most egregious omission, and really kind of indefensible if you think about it. But then again, he did write that terrible Minnesota Vikings song, so it all works out in the end.

25. R.E.M. – Document: Here is where R.E.M. gets its proper love. It's fun to see R.E.M. evolve over its independent years, and I think this is their early creative peak. Known for the massive hits "The One I Love" and "It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)", the album is solid through and through, and just a personal favorite.

24. Roxy Music – Avalon: I'm obsessed with what I like to call "late-night albums", and Avalon is the quintessential example. Lush synths and soothing vocals swirl together to create a romantic album that somehow combines warmth with cold detachment.

23. Kraftwerk – Computer World: Kraftwerk may have done more to influence the sound of the 80s than any other band, with the focus on electronics and a mechanistic style. They embrace the digital revolution with lightness and humor, dictating that they are indeed the operators of their pocket calculator.

22. Public Enemy – It Takes A Nation of Millions...: There's a reason why Public Enemy were a highlight of our trip to the Rock the Bells festival, and that's because they show the full potential of the power of hip-hop. Incisive and incendiary lyrics and production that is modern even by today's standards put Public Enemy a cut above the rest in hip-hop.

21. Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes: I remember first hearing "Blister in the Sun" in high school, and being amazed that what I thought was a brand new song was actually released in 1983. The Femmes style of acoustic guitar, hand percussion, and thumping bass still sounds unique and contemporary today. The album is full of anthems that are heard in rock stations across the country, even today--you've got "Kiss Off", "Gone Daddy Gone", and the brilliant meltdown of "Add it Up" still in rotation everywhere you look.

20. Joy Division – Substance: Here's the big exception to the stated rules--a compilation album. HOWEVA, this is due to the revolutionary impact that Joy Division had, and it was just too much for me to not include something by them in a discussion of the '80s. Their distinctive sound loomed large over the decade, and they're a band that has found increasing relevance today. The band that wrote "Transmission", "Atmosphere", "Dead Souls", and "Love Will Tear Us Apart" deserves all the accolades that it can get. However, in some sense of fairness, I'm only putting it at the number 20 spot instead of number one.

19. Pixies – Bossanova: I remember when Mr. Zhuang introduced me to the Pixies back in high school; he popped in a copy of the compilation "Death to the Pixies", and remember being hooked on the first track, their cover of the surf-rock classic "Cecilia Ann". It took me a while to get used to some of the, well, weirdness in the music or the yelps that Black Francis would employ (yet I would later learn to love these same qualities), but I knew from the instant I heard that song that it would be worth the effort to get into this band. "Cecilia Ann" leads off Bossanova, and as a result this was my first favorite Pixies album. With the benefit of hindsight, I can see that I was attracted to the pop sensibilities of the album, from "Dig for Fire" to "Stormy Weather", a band that was more content to push in the vein of "Here Comes Your Man" than say, "Hey". As a result, you have a fantastic plain old rock album that is still underrated in fan circles; even so, no one can deny the brilliance of "Velouria".

18. Dead Kennedys – Frankenchrist: With Frankenchrist, the Kennedys pushed themselves in directions beyond traditional hardcore, composing instead five minute multi-part suites. At the same time, while the instrumentation was not always FastFastFast, the anger and dry humor was still there. And "MTV Get Off the Air" seems even more relevant today--"To call yourself a pioneer when you're too goddamn conservative to take real chances".

17. Metallica – Ride the Lightning: At a certain pint we have to admit that Metal does not age particularly well. If you're still blasting metal out your car stereo on the wrong side of 30, you may need to take a quick stock of your life. On the other hand, just because a genre is best left to your high school years doesn't mean it lacks merit; it's still difficult to write a good song that captures that time period. And nobody captured the angry-teen schtick better than Metallica during their run in the 80's.

Why is Ride the Lightning better than Master of Puppets? They're both 8 songs that follow pretty much the same formula, though Puppets shows a greater diversity of styles and moods, while Lightning sticks closer to the thrash roots. But it has two things going for it: "The Call of Kthulu" is one of the best instrumentals of all time, and "Fade to Black" is the best song that Metallica ever wrote. Sure, it has all the elements of a cheesy power ballad, but the fact that it succeeds DESPITE this proves just how great it is. Try not to get pumped after listening to it.

16. The Clash – Combat Rock: There's the self-titled album and London Calling that stand head and shoulders above the rest of their catalog, but that's more of a testament to the brilliance of those albums than the lack thereof elsewhere. That being said, the drop-off is not so steep to the third best Clash album, Combat Rock. It does have their two most recognizable songs, "Should I Stay or Should I Go", a brilliantly stupid end-of-the-night song, and "Rock the Casbah", which injected a little Middle East politics in a dance setting. There are a few missteps on the record, but songs like the seething and sarcastic "Know Your Rights" and the haunting "Straight to Hell" tilt the balance back towards great.

15. Public Enemy – Fear of a Black Planet: While most critics prefer It Takes a Nation of Millions..., I'm an ass that likes the hits, so I'll take the album with "Welcome to the Terrordome", "911 is a Joke", and "Fight the Power". Call me crazy. Also, it's good to remember once in a while that Flavor Flav was once legitimately good.

14. Jesus and Mary Chain – Psychocandy: An album that created a whole new genre of music, seemingly the result of an experiment of "what would happen if I had 8032 guitars playing at the same time". Add in a wall of feedback, toss in some pop melodies, and we're good to go. That's the thing--even though these guys were redefining what a "wall of sound" meant, they never lost sight of writing good songs. Listen to the simple melody of "Never Understand", which warps what is essentially a children's rhyme. That, and "Just Like Honey" is one of the best songs ever written.

13. U2 –The Joshua Tree: What the fucking fuck?!! How could you rank U2, the greatest band on the Earth, and their greatest album, so low?! Please, take no offense. Dozens of pages have been written about how excellent this album is, and I can't dispute them. It's fantastic, even though it's a little top-heavy. No offense, it's just that there are some albums that are better.

12. Beastie Boys – Licensed to Ill: There's nothing like the Beasties' debut album--a genuine rap-rock that feels like the two genres were made for each other. There's a reason why the group crossed over to rock audiences, and it's not a simple answer like race--it's riffs as big as Zeppelin with raps that channel pure id in tales of debauchery and teenage frustration, but all done with a grin. Sure, it makes sense for the guys to distance themselves from this album, but you're still going to crank the radio up when you hear "Fight For Your Right" on a Friday night. Just recently I was at a party where the dancefloor was pretty dead until the DJ threw on "Girls"--then everybody began jumping, and the night hit a new level. Sometimes, you just can't overvalue "fun".

11. Dinosaur Jr. - Bug: I've told the story about how I became such a fan numerous times before, so I'm not going to repeat myself. The band runs the gamut from the fun punk of "Let it Ride", to the groovy slow burner "No Bones", to the heartbreaking "Don't"--over a wall of guitar squeals and pounding drums, Lou Barlow screams repeatedly "Why don't you like me?", which captures in one line and one song what teenagers had tried to express for decades. Also, consider the song "Freakscene", a minor hit that should be a standard today, and it will always boggle my mind how it never became big.

"Seen enough to eye you
But I've seen too much to try you"

10. Nine Inch Nails – Pretty Hate Machine: The album can sound dated at times, but that's more of a recent phenomenon; the shelf-life of nursery rhymes done menacingly is notoriously short lived (marring an otherwise excellent "Down In It"). While this album pissed off many within the Industrial music scene, Trent Reznor awakened the mainstream to the genre's existence, and with this album it marked him as a musical force that would influence dozens of other bands, pushing music into darker places and experimenting more with electronic instrumentation. "Head Like A Hole" and "Terrible Lie" still capture our attention, and "Something I Can Never Have" still burns.

9. The Replacements – Let it Be: It took me a long time to get into the 'Mats, and I'm going to blame it on the entire '80s and its shitty production. I had always felt there was this weird sheen that covered most of the Replacements' work, and it made getting into their work a chore for me, I admit. But once it happened, I couldn't get enough and I began spotting bands that were influenced by them left and right (I'm looking at you, Gaslight Anthem). A mix of the tender ("Androgynous"), the brash ("Black Diamond"), and the angstful (the especially wrenching "Unsatisfied"), Let it Be showed the 'Mats at their most versatile. And it ends with the best concept for a final track of all time, a rambling message left on an answering machine...except the phone call was never connected.

8. Pixies – Surfer Rosa: The Pixies broke the mold with their debut, and bands ever since, if they're smart enough, have been looking to ape all the best parts of this album. It's hard to capture just the innate weirdness that spanned Black Francis's obsessions, but who doesn't love a song about BBC (the ode to big black cock, "Gigantic")? I still get a kick out of listening to songs like "Something Against You", and damn right this song is about a superhero named Tony, and it's called "Tony's Theme"! And that doesn't even get to the amazing "Vamos", with its magical guitar solo (watch it live--it's practically alchemy, with all pedals and drumsticks), or the transcendent "Where Is My Mind?".

7. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Mother’s Milk: Though the Peppers' commercial fortunes would change with their breakout Blood Sugar Sex Magick, this was the group at their artistic peak. Their unique mix of funk, punk, and rock gelled into something great on this album, with Frusciante's guitar and Flea's bass standing above the rest of the music scene. Their scintillating cover of "Higher Ground" is only but one of many highlights on this album, which kept the tempo up and the grooves funky. Rarely would the Peppers be as pure to their original style as they were here, and rarely would they be as good.

6. Jane’s Addiction – Nothing’s Shocking and 5. Jane’s Addiction – Ritual de lo Habitual: Jane's Addiction is a band that suffers these days from having two massive radio hits that make you never want to listen to anything else in their catalog. Sure the songs are pretty good, and when you're in the right mood, they can provide that nice pick-me-up, but at the same time they show some of the most undesirable traits of the band that make you want to avoid further contact; it doesn't help matters that often it feels like "Jane Says" is running on a three hour rotation at your local radio station.

But to dismiss Jane's Addiction because of those two songs would be a terrible mistake. Dave Navarro took the theatrics of the butt-rock style of the Hair Metal era and created beautiful melodies ("Up the Beach") and thunderous riffs (try not to bang your head to "Mountain Song"). Jane's Addiction were masters of setting the mood and creating tension-and-release, allowing the music to lull you into complacency and bliss while bringing you back to the edge of your seat a minute later. The epic back end of Ritual is one of the high points of Alternative Nation, especially in the 18-minute span of "Three Days" and "Then She Did..." That's why Ritual gets the slightest of nods over Nothing's Shocking, but they're both essential records for anyone's collection.

4. The Replacements – Tim: The Replacements still had a brash fuck-you attitude with Tim--from giving an anthem to the disaffected youth in shouting "We are the sons of no one, Bastards of Young" to reminding those flight attendants that they "ain't nothin' but a waitress in the sky". The energy was raucous on the album, and there were hooks all over. And to cap it off, the song "Here Comes a Regular", which captures a melancholic and world-weary soul that belied singer Paul Westerberg's 25 years, a singularly devastating song that nonetheless keeps you hopeful, even when you identify with the narrator. Not only is this a better album than Let it Be, it's one of the best albums of all time.

3. Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation With the release of Daydream Nation, Sonic Youth became more than a band, they became a descriptor of a whole new style of music--any band that incorporated noise and feedback into their music to a significant degree had their sound described as "Sonic Youth-like". The track "The Sprawl" is a good signifier of what's on the album, as it can be difficult to navigate through the 70 minutes of the album without any help. I've spent countless afternoons getting lost in the songs, only to periodically re-emerge and begin pressing the rewind button to delve more deeply into the music. The album also contains perhaps their greatest moment, as Sonic Youth was able to create a genuine pop tune built around spoken word and atonal guitars, while imagining life under Slacker President J. Mascis. To tell you the truth, I can't imagine anything like "Teen Age Riot" ever being made again. Listen to that song today, and it's still weird, and it still just fucking rocks.

2. Dinosaur Jr. – You’re Living All Over Me: Now here's the album that inspired Thurston Moore to write "Teen Age Riot", so you know it has to be ranked higher than Daydream Nation. Dinosaur Jr. proved that it's cool for garage bands to learn how to play their instruments, and that it's ok for songs to have brilliant, yet non-wanky guitar solos. Make no mistake, while Lou provides innovative bass lines and Murph keeps it all together with his drumming, the guitar drives the band, and Mascis was at his best here.

1. Pixies – Doolittle: Just a few months ago, Mr. Zhuang and I had the good fortune to pick up a couple of tickets to see the Pixies at the Hammerstein Ballroom, an event that I should give a write-up one of these days. Black Francis could still scream like he used to, and Joey could still play those delicious leads, and the band as a whole sounded as tight as ever. But what made the concert special was the fact that it was built around the 20th anniversary of the album Doolittle, and they were going to perform the album in its entirety--which meant we were guaranteed to hear fucking gems like "No. 13 Baby" and "La La Love You", as well as the usual killer "hits".

And take a look at the track listing for the album, and you'll see several of the highlights of the Pixies' career--"Monkey Gone To Heaven", "Here Comes Your Man", "Wave of Mutilation", and "Gouge Away", to name but a few. It's a goddamn murderer's row, a lineup more intimidating than the '27 Yanks. Black Francis explored subjects as diverse as Japanese murder-suicides, ocean pollution, and showing your friends that really weird but totally awesome surreal film that you saw in class. The band veers from fast and raucous to a more contemplative and melodic take--I mean, let's face it, "Here Comes Your Man" is a perfect goddamn pop tune, a song that wouldn't be out of place stylistically with a set of 60's oldies. At the same time, there are no bands that could write a song like that and one as aggressive as "Tame" without sounding like they were trying too hard, except the Pixies.

But for me, it all comes down to one song which distills the essence of the Pixies into just three minutes, and that's the opener, "Debaser". The lyrics are simple--got me a movie, I want you to know, slicing up eyeballs I want you to know--the energy is infections, the leads are shimmering, mixing treble riffs with surf-guitar licks, and it's all built around a simple chord progression that only reveals itself if you dig it out. It perfectly captures the excitement of showing your buddies something really cool, and it's a damn good time. I've listened to that song hundreds of times (and the album as a whole only a few less times), and I could listen to it hundreds of times more, and it will never get tired.

And there you have it, the winner is Doolittle. The other guys will post their lists soon enough, but admit it, they're not going to come up with anything better than this.

Monday, March 1, 2010

List-O-Mania! The Best 50 Albums of the 80's (Part I)

As promised, the WDR crew is ready to present their lists for the 50 Best Albums of the 80's. Why only 50? Easy--because the 80's blew.

It was difficult enough coming up with 50 albums that I even listen to, much less could recommend. To tell you the truth, I threw in a couple of albums based more on reputation than anything; while I do subscribe to the theory of "Kill Yr Idols", I'm willing to concede that some albums have value even if I'm not intimately familiar with them. However, once I came up with my 50, I found it pretty difficult to put them in the appropriate order. If I was given another couple of days to do this, I would probably come up with a more satisfying order, but we here at WDR are not about thinking things through.

The rules: only studio albums from 1981-1990 are considered, which means no compilations or live albums, and multiple albums from the same artist are included. I'm counting backwards from 50-26 today, and printing 25-1 tomorrow.

50. L.L. Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out:Because why the fuck not?
If I was doing the list based on personal preference, I would have put Soundgarden's Louder Than Love on the list here, because it's a big, dumb, stupid rock album
in an era of big dumb stupid rock albums. But even I have my limits.

49. The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses: The definition of unfulfilled promise. There's a reason why this album was so huge, but there's also a reason why no one really pays attention to these guys any more.

48. The Smiths – The Smiths: Because that sad fey kid deserves an album on the list somewhere

47. Fugazi – 13 Songs: This album is so good, it made straight-edge seem like a not-completely terrible least for five minutes after listening to the album.

46. R.E.M. – Murmur: Why so low? Mainly because I'm not the biggest R.E.M. fan, but I still recognize its quality.

45. Green River – Dry as a Bone/Rehab Doll The forerunner of all Grunge bands, this album was the bridge between punk, metal, and garage rock. "Swallow My Pride" is a classic, and the cover of "Ain't Nothing To Do" is worth listening to as well.

44. U2 - War: This was where U2 as we know it began to take form. Filled with classics, it's the hallmark of U2's early work.

43. King Missile – Mystical Shit and Fluting on the Hump: Jesus was way cool--He could have baked the most delicious cake in the world. He could have scored more goals than Wayne Gretsky. Enough said.

42. Metallica - …And Justice for All: While featuring some of the best songs of Metallica's career, I can't put this album any higher because the guys were such assholes that they cut out newcomer Jason Newsted's bass from the mix.

41. Mother Love Bone – Stardog Champion: The first instance where I bend the rules, considering the album was actually released in 1992; however, all the material came from the 80's, SO I'M GONNA ALLOW IT. While from the outside it looks simply like a bad version of Sunset Strip Glam Rock, I'd argue that it took the trashiness of that style and infused a sense of looseness and fun into that genre. You can't deny the fun of "Holy Roller" and "Half-Ass Monkeyboy". And they were balanced by great ballads, like "Stargazer" and "Man of Golden Words". Everything comes together with the climax, "Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns"--an 8 minute exploration of a broken man moving on.

40. Mudhoney – Superfuzz Big Muff: One of the descendants of Green River, this band showed that you can rock out and still reject all the shit that came with 80s hair metal. Downright dirty.

39. Flaming Lips – In A Priest Driven Ambulance: The best of the Flaming Lips early work, but still a far cry from their middle and late periods. Of course, if you were listening to the Lips during the 80's, you'd be amazed that we would be talking about a band that had a middle and late period.

38. Dead Kennedys – Plastic Surgery Disasters & In God We Trust: DK at their most intense, songs like "Terminal Preppie", "I am the Owl", and "Moon Over Marin" still shock people today. It doesn't get much more brutal and to-the-point than "Nazi Punks Fuck Off".

37. Alice in Chains – Facelift: The singles were huge ("Sea of Sorrow", "Bleed the Freak", and of course "Man In The Box"), but the album as a whole was consistent, even when veering into Chili Peppers territory ("I Know Somethin' ('Bout You)"). AiC got their first shot in before Nirvana, et al. did, and I believe this marked a turning point between 80's and 90's rock.

36. Sonic Youth – Sister: A transformative album for Sonic Youth, going beyond the wild noise experiments of their early work, and a signal of what was to come in Daydream Nation. "Schizophrenia" is still one of their best songs.

35. Minutemen – Double Nickels On the Dime: An insane mix of punk, funk, jazz, and who knows what else. Some of the best bass-playing you'll hear (and the guitar isn't bad either), with lyrics that will have you cracking up and having a good time.

34. The Replacements – Pleased to Meet Me: This album has some of the 'Mats best work, including "Can't Hardly Wait" and "Alex Chilton". At this point, the band has settled into a comfortable groove of just churning out some of the best rock of the 80's.

33. Peter Gabriel – So: An amazingly creative work, even going beyond simple pop album standards. Plus, we got this as a result.

32. Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique: A lot of purer rap fans think this is the Beastie's best album, but it's never the one that I feel like grabbing. A milestone in sampling, the Dust Brothers became legends after this one.

31. Run D.M.C. – Raising Hell and 30. Run D.M.C. – King of Rock: Both amazing albums that legitimized hip-hop as an art form in the mainstream. Not much more I can add to the discussion, beyond the fact that I too find it tricky to rock a rhyme that's right on time.

29. Black Flag – Damaged: Legitimized SoCal punk, and produced seminal classics like "TV Party" and "Six Pack". Also gave us Henry Rollins, for better and for worse.

28. N.W.A. – Straight Outta Compton: I can't write about this album without coming across as completely white, so I'm just going to shut up.

27. Husker Du – Zen Arcade: Holy shit, this album is a trip. A dozen musical styles, and they do them all well.

26. Metallica – Master of Puppets : Knowing that I'm pissing off Joe Reefer once again for including these assholes, I can't deny the fact that this album is pretty much the gold standard in metal. Eight songs long, with every single one a classic, Metallica is able to expertly blend classical guitar lines with moment of pure technical shredding. Even during its soft moments, it's still menacing. And listening to this shit will make you want to run through a goddamn brick wall, to borrow a phrase.

That's the end of Part I, the top 25 will be posted soon enough.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Of Spambots and Our Comments Section: A Quick Word

Some of you may have noticed our comments sections has seen some increased activity. However, it's not exactly a desired increase, considering that the majority of these comments have been some sort of terrible spam. Now, I have no idea what the benefit of having obvious spam fill up a blog's comment section is...but apparently some people think it's a good idea. I just fear that these spambots will one day rise up and turn into the Sentinels from The Matrix

As a result, we've had to delete a few comments. Rest assured, none of the comments deleted were made by real people, but were purely spam comments--we kind of believe in free speech around here. However, we have left some of the spam comments up, and you may wonder what our official policy is. It's pretty simple--if we think that the spam is hilarious or too ridiculous to even bother with, we're going to leave it up. Because we all need a laugh, and it's too bad that Spamusement has stopped updating.

Friday, February 26, 2010

WDR Recommends: A Little Light Reading

We understand that many of you shape your entire worldview by solely looking at this blog. This makes you more knowledgeable than 94.3% of Internet users, and for that, you deserve a pat on the back (WDR Courtesy Note: before forcibly taking your neighbor's hand and placing it on your backside, it is best if you ask for their permission, preferably in writing). However, we feel that your education would be slightly incomplete if you solely rely on us, so we're providing some interesting links that we've come across.

The Right Has No Clue What To Do. Paul Krugman offers up a column that states clearly what I've been saying in private for some time now--the Right knows how to capture a phrase, but never follows through on their promises. All this talk of "small government" was en vogue during the 90's when the Republicans came into power once again, but we saw greater spending and greater deficits--you know, just like Reagan. And we're seeing the rise of that rhetoric once again, and just as repeated history dictates, we're seeing no actual solutions from the Right. Spending cuts sound like a good idea, until you try to figure out what needs to be cut.

Labeling a "Terrorist" Glenn Greenwald provides a scathing critique of the unwillingness to label the "Tax Protester" a terrorist, despite fulfilling every qualification for the term--except for being a Muslim/Arab. This looks at our nonsensical application of the word, from those who target military targets but are Muslim ("Terrorist") versus those that kill civilians, but are white ("Separatist" or some other term). You would think that this is important, considering that if you are labelled a terrorist you can be shuttled off to Guantanamo and be deprived of basic due process, even if you're an American citizen.

Milk Inspires Poetry A product review for a gallon of milk sparks creativity in the minds of Amazon users. Also check out this product that other users bought.

Other People Learn of the Brilliance of "Lady Terminator" A look at Indonesian exploitation films, and finally we have a reason why Lady Terminator exists and is nearly indistinguishable from a porno.

WDR Recommends This week, we recommend renting Black Dynamite. This is an absolutely hilarious film that examines the Blaxploitation era in a whole new light, and will have you on the floor laughing as you repeat back lines like "Now Aunt Billy, how many times have I told you not to call here and interrupt my Kung Fu!"

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hump Day Helper: The Unknown Band Edition

Because it's Wednesday, and we all need a pick-me-up to make it through the rest of the week in our respective hells, WDR is providing some fun.

Fresh off a post that talked about how much fun it is to discover new music, I've got a video here from a band that I discovered back when I was working in radio. One of those bands that nobody else probably knows about, but of course, that doesn't mean that they're not any good.

It's interesting what it can take to get a guy's attention at a radio station. Sometimes it's a creative press-pack, some insistence from a promoter, or even just a great band name that will do the trick. With these guys, I don't even think it was any of these--it was just luck. I popped in the CD, listened to the first track, and thought, "Hmm, we might have something here." And then this song appeared on my new music show for a month after that, and I made a copy of the album for my personal collection.

The video has a nice dreamy quality to it, which matches the soothing, hazy quality of the music. Not your normal uptempo Hump Day pick, but I think it'll do quite nicely. Just relax, and take it in, and don't get upset like some people if you haven't heard it before.

Hold your heart out, hold your hand out...

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Angry Flirt

Instead of the usual bar scene, this past Saturday night Mr. Zhuang and I decided to head over to a "house party" to celebrate Mardi Gras--only this house was a crowded apartment right in the middle of the East Village and overlooking Second Avenue. It's about as close as you'll see law students cutting loose in the middle of the semester, though one can argue celebrating "Mardi Gras" a week late is all the excuse you need to get future lawyers to get their drink on.

I came prepared for the festivities, proudly wearing my Saints sweatshirt which announced to all who looked upon it that I had actual ties to the holiday and knew a little something about the traditions. I even came prepared with beads of my own; Mr. Zhuang brought with him the baby that he had found from our King Cake and the plastic cup that came with the cake, ready to serve as the Taster for the "Hurricanes" that were being prepared. We had a great time, as I got to friends that I rarely get to see any more and Zhuang continued to serve as said Taster, and the night passed without major incident; all in all, a pretty decent Saturday night.

That being said, I wanted to call up an incident that is the inspiration for the title of this blog, and puts a spin on the usual "Nic Ouzo Frightens Women" story. At one point I was being introduced to a couple of ladies who were friends of one of my classmate, and we began talking. One of them noticed my Saints sweatshirt and asked about it, and I replied, yup, I was born in Baton Rouge and had been a Saints fan all my life, and yup, I was as excited as a pig on payday when they won the Super Bowl. At some point, one of them asked if I played for the Saints, and being a little confused, I said, no, not quite (I mean, I'm built like a linebacker, but one that would sit on the end of the bench). It was at this point I realized that perhaps this girl was a little unhinged and more than a little drunk, but here I was, in a crowded kitchen with little place else to go, I better make the best of the situation.

The conversation continued, but it was clear that some sort of tonal shift had occurred. At one point someone else came by and asked about my sweatshirt, and the woman who asked if I played for them shouted "No he doesn't care for them, he's a traitor!" Now, anyone who knows me realizes I cannot have my fanhood questioned, but they also know I am quite diplomatic, so I sidestep and talk to the person directly and straighten things out. But I am aware that I've entered into some strange zone here with this one girl, who continues to talk to me, oblivious to all awkwardness.

She then tells me that she graduated from the University of Texas--I said, hey, that's great, and you know what, my sister just got accepted there! It's her number one choice, but we'll see about the money that other schools offer. The girl then grabs my shoulder and begins to tell me that hey, I went there with no money, and I'll be paying it off--I'm working and getting only 30,000 a year and living in Manhattan, I CAN DO IT SO CAN SHE! SHE NEEDS TO GO TO UT! She is very insistent on this point, and sure as shit she will not take "no" for an answer. At this point I tell her, hey, I'm pushing for my sister to go to UT, because if she does, I'm going to crash at her place so I can come to South By Southwest, which is only one of the most awesome events to go to if you love music. Back when I was working in radio, I had the opportunity to have my expenses paid for on a trip and get passes to all the shows, but it didn't match up with my schedule, and I've always regretted passing up the opportunity. I was then informed by this girl that she hated this festival--"I can understand going to see a show for a band you know, but to see band you don't even know..." I then mention how I worked at a radio station, and it was my job to listen to new music and she interjected I DON'T UNDERSTAND. THAT'S JUST TERRIBLE! WHY WOULD YOU DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT? Needless to say, I kept smiling but not saying much after that.

Well, sucks to be you, lady who works in fashion for only 30,000 a year--I could have introduced you to Mr. Zhuang, who works for a fashion magazine. As it dice.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Your Unasked For Blazer Report

It's been a strange season for Blazer fans, one where it doesn't matter who the opponent is, any night can bring a thrilling video or devastating defeat, or just a serious injury to one of our star players. The Blazers have never been a team that made it easy on their fans, so we shouldn't have expected it any other way. But this year certainly has been stranger than most.

This year we've seen the following players lose significant time to injury: Travis Outlaw (broken foot), Rudy Fernandez (bad back), Joel Przybilla (broken kneecap), Jeff Pendergraph (bad hip), Steve Blake (pneumonia), LaMarcus Aldridge (sprained ankle), Greg Oden (broken kneecap), and now our star Brandon Roy has missed a significant amount of time with a hamstring injury. I'm probably forgetting some people. Hell, even our coach tore his Achilles tendon in practice, and for good measure, our owner now has cancer. You would think that the injury curse would end with the whole cancer thing, but no, that was in December and we had several more injuries since then. Even after going through all that, the Blazers still are set for a playoff spot in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. I think any fan is thrilled with this, with the only drawback being that the bastards from Oklahoma City are ahead of the Blazers right now.

Things began to turn the night Greg Oden was injured. Mr. Zhuang and I were out having a nice relaxing drink, when I received a text from a friend telling me that not only was Oden injured, he was going to be out for the year. We must have looked like a car just ran over our dog, because the bartender notices our "someone shat in our cereal" look, and gives us free drinks when we tell him the news. Cynics and fans who don't pay attention may ask, "What did you expect, Oden is Mr. Glass?" but these are the same people who hadn't watched him develop over the past two seasons like we had. This year, Oden was making a leap and was showing flashes of becoming the dominant center that we had hoped for when we drafted him, commanding the middle and being the one consistent player we had in the beginning of the season, and then in an instant it was gone.

It was all the more painful when you consider how Oden and Portland are made for each other. They're each slightly goofy and more than a little awkward, and have great senses of humor (I mean, Oden's dog's name is "Charles Barkley McLovin"). The first thing he said when he was injured was "I'm sorry" to his teammates; this was a man whose patella had just been dislocated and was somewhere down his shin at this point. And as soon as they took him to the training room, he was asking for updated scores to the game. With another serious injury, critics will again have ammunition for their "Should have picked Kevin Durant" argument, especially considering his explosive scoring average and the great record that Oklahoma City has these days. Of course, these people fail to consider the difference in development that Durant would have as a third option on the Blazers versus the number one guy on a crappy team for a couple of years; those who are also quick to doubt Oden also fail to realize that Oden is only 21, and he will get more used to his body as the years go by--he has not begun to reach his ceiling. But instead of another year of great development, we're left with questions about his johnson instead.

But the Blazers never threw in the towel, and each night it's been a different player stepping up, from the ever-developing Martell Webster to the ageleass Juwan Howard (who must have found a time machine back to 1995). Perhaps the biggest surprise has been Andre Miller, who I thought was a terrible signing and a poor fit for this team, but who has on occasion lifted the team up on his shoulders and carried them. But you get the feeling that this team is the equivalent of a car held together by duct tape, and that's probably why it made sense for the Blazers to make a trade this week.

However, the trade while it made sense to most outsiders, just doesn't feel completely right to me. When you're relying on Juwan Howard to play the center position for over thirty minutes a game, it's probably not a recipe for playoff success. So it's understandable that we would want to target someone like Marcus Camby, who is one of the league leaders in rebounding, and give up fan favorites Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw in the process. But if you look at the stats, interior defense was not where we were lacking; we weren't even a bad defensive team! In fact, we were number three in points allowed, and tops in the Western Conference; and while we were not getting that many rebounds, we were still out-rebounding the other time. No, if you watched our games, our problem was more with failure to rotate from the perimeter and a total absence of a crunch-time offensive game. That's where guys like Blake and Outlaw are helpful--Steve hits the spot-up 3, and Outlaw has the balls to get to the hoop in the 4th. We'll see if this move ends up paying off, but I have my doubts.

Bill Simmons joked that Blazer fans are like those soccer parents who get obsessed with their little kid, the kind that are hypersensitive to any criticism and irrationally attached to everything they do. I'll certainly agree with this to an extent--we certainly do have our irrational attachments, and tend to overvalue our players more than necessary. That's why you'll find fans of Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw all around Portland, and we coddle Greg Oden. However, we're still realistic, and we will call out our players when necessary--we want LaMarcus to step up in the fourth quarter, and when Brandon Roy was whining at the beginning of the season, we weren't afraid to let him hear it.

But for now, we'll relax and take that 8th seed in the playoffs. And we'll continue enjoying the commentary of Barrett and Rice, like this memorable exchange:
Mike Barrett: So we'll stay the extra night in Minnesota. Who would want to get into New Orleans at 2 am?
Mike Rice: Do I really have to explain it to you?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hump Day Helper: Double Entendre Edition

Because it's Wednesday, and we all need a pick-me-up to make it through the rest of the week in our respective hells, WDR is providing some fun.

I know it's a little late for Valentine's Day, but I figure you'll forgive me, and have yourself a funky sexy time on a Wednesday night (putting new meaning into "hump day", if you will).

This video is just more proof that Isaac Hayes was probably the coolest motherfucker in the universe. Who cares if he's reading the lyrics off a sheet? (Is he just acting like he's reading a recipe?) Does it matter?

And if someone wants to actually give the recipe a go, I'm more than willing to hear the results.

They're packed full of vitamins and good for you
So suck on my balls...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

It's A Celebration

One can only imagine the beautiful chaos that is New Orleans today. With Mardi Gras the week after a Super Bowl VICTORY, I'm sure it's been a non-stop party for my fellow Louisianians. And here I am, stuck on this miserable coast.

But at the very least I can be there in spirit. Many of you may remember my extensive journals from the last time I was back home for Mardi Gras, but my recaps failed to include a vitally important Mardi Gras tradition, that of the King Cake. And luckily, thanks to my family, I'm able to partake in the King Cake tradition once again.

I was talking to one of my law school buddies who went to Tulane, and he was telling me how he didn't much care for King Cake. I was shocked and appalled, and after careful inquiry, I realized the reason why--he had only had the crappy version that you get at the local grocery store. He had not had the experience of getting a fresh cake from a bakery, where they take special pride in this dessert. Growing up, during the Mardi Gras season, I looked forward to getting the weekly treat that one of my classmates would bring in, indulging in the icing and cream cheese and cinnamon and strawberry, always hoping to find the little plastic Baby Jesus, the most glorious of all the forms of Jesus, and looking to be King for a Day.

Thank God I'm still not living down there, because I'd be an even greater fatass than I am now. I got the cake on Friday, and after a few days of eating moderate slices with Mr. Zhuang, we were left with nearly half a cake and staleness looming large; we bit the bullet today and ate the rest of the cake, letting Fat Tuesday live up to its name. So how was your Tuesday?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Even My Fantasy Life Sucks

Recently, Mr. Zhuang and I were watching the Blazers take on the Celtics in a great back-and-forth game, that we unfortunately lost in overtime as the ageless Ray Allen, who after missing nearly everything that night, hit a clutch three-pointer. We spent a good deal of time cracking jokes about Celtics announcer Tommy Heinsohn and his bestowing of "Tommy Points"--GIVE 'IM A TOMMY POINT! Between the jokes, at some point I began to wonder about the status of my FutureWife and whether she was still cheering for the Celtics.

This started a couple of years ago, after reading a piece on Deadspin where they announced that the Celtics for the first time in their history were hiring a dance team (news that probably killed Red Auerbach). So they put a link up so we could take a look for ourselves and make obscene comments for the most part. Given that these women came from Boston, the chances that any of the dancers would be attractive were minimal. Don't let anyone try to convince you that hey, Boston is a college town, they must have some cute girls--this is bullshit. Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Models who happen to go to Harvard are definitely the exception, not the rule.

So I was pleasantly surprised to see this one girl who caught my eye; then I read her biography, and knew I had found my FutureWife. She was essentially a perfect match (well, in everything but looks, but that's understandable). She was Greek for one, which is always a plus, and wants to live in the Greek isles. Her dream is to work for the United Nations or an embassy--perfect for an International Relations major like me, and I even worked an embassy myself. So she's not just an empty head. And finally, here's the capper: her favorite band is Pearl Jam (I'll look past the show tunes part because this definitely balances that out--plus I've been known to burst out into "76 Trombones" randomly). Hello, Alexis.

So after the game was over, I search online to see if she's still cheering for the Celtics. Apparently she's no longer doing that, so I don't have to worry about her cheering against my Blazers. However, I did come across something much more unpleasant: a wedding registry. Apparently my Alexis is marrying a NotMe this May. I quickly asked friend of the blog Von Bookman to begin plans for a daring operation to break up the wedding, but he said "I've got finals in May". I tried to say he could squeeze this in, and hey, I had finals too, but I began to realize that this probably wasn't a great idea. Plus, you know, I should just be happy that my FutureWife has found her own happiness. And you never know, there may still be time for me to become FutureSecondHusband.

Cue sad, mournful song of unrequited love:

As for the real life, can't say the situation is any better. It's not like I come into Valentine's Day with any expectations; the most memorable thing about the holiday is that back in my DJ days I always had a shift on the day, even though I changed slots each year. So it's usually no big deal. But then again, when you hear things from The Girl that her plans for the holiday last year were a quick dinner with her boyfriend, and then get home early enough so she can catch the Dunk Contest, it stings a little bit. Goddammit.

So I continue to search, hopefully finding that someone. She'll relax to the grooves of Spoon, analyze the lyrics of Wolf Parade, dance with me to My Morning Jacket, tolerate my Pearl Jam fanaticism and my Mike McCready obsession, admire the majesty of Sigur Rós, marvel at the musical genius of Television, and rock out to the MC5 and The Thermals. Oh yeah, and being into music would probably be a good idea. When you find her, give me a call. Meanwhile, I see a bottle of ouzo with my name on it. Cheers.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Doctor Is In

You might not think "hilarious" when I say the name "Alan Thicke", but after watching this video you might change your mind. Sure, we remember him from being the dad from that shitty early '90s sitcom "Growing Pains", but did you know he's also a composer? He did the theme music for "Diff'rent Strokes"! He also wrote for Richard Pryor! Lately it seems like he just wants to fuck around and have fun, showing up on things like "Tim and Eric" or "The Goods". He recently did an interview with the AVClub, providing us with the priceless quote "There’s nothing to do after that. That’s right. You can’t top it. It’s over. When it’s raining dildos, you’ve got nothing left to say after that." But the reason for the post is for more people to watch his hilarious fake-doctor routine as Doctor Proctor. There are five videos, and I recommend you watch them all.

This reminds me of another Dad from an early-90's sitcom, Patrick Duffy. While he may be more well known these days as one of the legs of Scuzzlebutt, there was a time when he was sleepwalking through one of those generic Dad roles in "Step by Step". I remember not liking him too much, but these days I respect him more because I'm pretty sure he realized how terrible the show was, and was only going to do a half-assed job. Anyways, he's had a series of amusing videos with a crab (I know, wtf), earning even more good will from me.

For comparison's sake:

Enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hump Day Helper: Blizzard '10 Edition

Because it's Wednesday, and we all need a pick-me-up to make it through the rest of the week in our respective hells, WDR is providing some fun.

Today saw winter hit the East Coast in earnest, as NYC got a inches of snow. Sure, the snowfall wasn't all that much, but trust me, there were like two hours where you didn't want to walk outside because, ohmigod, snow would get in your face, and that's all icky. All that snowfall didn't stop me from getting some exercise--sure the gym closed early, but I still was able to fit in a "jog". I even had a chance to indulge in my passion for blurry photography, and was even able to get some good shots in, like this one.

During all this I had Ra Ra Riot's The Rhumb Line playing on my iPod. I initially left that album off my best of '08 list, because I had listened to it only a few times before making the list. However, if I was given the chance to redo everything it would now easily make my top 5. The reason I chose the album (besides the fact that it's awesome) is that I remembered this video, which takes place in the dead of winter, at a house that reminds me of my time at Dartmouth Hall.

So there ya go, an apropos winter video. Plus the chick who plays the cello is totally hot.

What am I supposed to do
It's hard to stay cool
When you smile at me
And I get nervous every time you speak...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Yes I'm Still Alive and No I Still Can't Believe It

On Sunday, the unthinkable happened. The Saints won the goddamn Super Bowl. And boy howdy, did they do it in style, with a thrilling come-from-behind victory and shocking the world. As you can tell from previous posts, I'm a big fan of the Saints, so Sunday night was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. People from all over the country were calling and texting me their congratulations, and I was getting hugs from everybody at my friend's party. I had one text from a friend that said he was with someone from New Orleans, and she was crying because she was so happy. And as I watched team celebrate on the field, I responded "I'm right there with her."

As a fan, I've been pretty lucky. I've been a fan of the Florida Marlins for their entire existence, and having them win two World Series was pretty impressive. And I'm a bigger LSU fan than a Saints fan, so their national championships in 2003 and 2007 were as good as it got for me. However, nothing compares to the sheer joy I felt as I jumped up and cheered as Tracy Porter snagged that interception and ran it back for that exclamation point touchdown. I've won competitions, have had teams I've competed with win championships, but there is still nothing that will top that moment.

And I've been contemplating the full meaning of that. Do sports have that much of a commanding influence on my life? Definitely not, since I can go weeks without checking the sports pages; music is definitely a bigger addiction. I think it's definitely the culmination of just years of frustration finally being let go in a single moment--it's a feeling that Yankees fans will never understand. To be with a team when they're at their lowest lows makes being on top infinitely sweeter. Look, I've experienced many disappointments in my life--next Sunday will be a continuation of that in one respect--and I wouldn't put a sporting event in a top 10, not even the Blazers crushing 2000 loss to the Lakers, but I'm comfortable with having this victory be in my top 5 high points. This is probably a healthy attitude.

One of my friends commented "I am very disappointed that your profile doesn't have a picture of you wearing a Saints flag like a toga and getting drunk as fuck. 'cause that would be a pretty sweet picture." Fair statement, but in my defense no one had the foresight to bring a camera for the festivities, and you'll just have to rely on the word of my cohorts that I indeed lived up to the reputation of a true Louisianian and partied like there was no tomorrow. They'll tell you of my high-fiving and hugging, the shouting, the dancing, and the clutching of tequila bottles. Of course, being a proud Greek Cajun, I more than held my liquor despite imbibing copious amounts of devilish spirits, and showed up to class the next day as normal, with a mild grin replacing my usual half-frown and only the faintest whiff of alcohol clinging to my Saints sweatshirt. Plus, I'm still looking for a job, so pics might not be the best idea.

People are trying to comprehend how much the victory means to the city of New Orleans, but this is a fool's errand. Everybody points to Katrina and its effects on the city, and it's certainly being felt. I can't imagine how it is day-to-day for most of these people, having left the state long before the hurricane came. I had limited personal exposure, with my godbrothers' homes being flooded and seeing the flow of people move into Baton Rouge. But the thing about the Saints is that they were something that united all Louisianians, and to an extent the entire Gulf Coast region. For the longest time they were the only professional sports team in the region, in an area where Football is King. Rich and poor, black and white, we all loved the team. It might seem stupid to some people, who cares about those buzzkills. Watch this video and tell me you aren't moved:

Saints Superbowl Victory Celebration from Cottage Films on Vimeo.

We won. I still can't believe it.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

WDR's Superbowl Celebration!

Watching it NOT for the commercials.

As you are aware (unless you've been living under a rock without TV for the last forty years) the Superbowl is this Sunday. This year features the Indianapolis Colts v. the New Orleans Saints.

So, what is WDR doing to celebrate? Well, I'm pretty sure that Nic and I are going to round up some beer and Cheez Doodles and yell at the television. Joe, I'm sure, will do something that has nothing to do with football, but may involve Cheez Doodles (or some variant) and vodka. We wish him the best of luck with that.

As you may know, Nic is a Saints fan and, as such, is actually emotionally invested in the outcome of this game. I'm sure he'll elaborate on this soon.For me, I'd like to see the Saints win just as an underdog. Most of all, though, I want it to be a good game.

Now, it seems that everyone has a prediction about who will win and why. I'm not going to do that here. Instead, I'm going to share the best predictor I have found for the Superbowl winner: Tecmo Bowl.

That's right, the regular Nintendo football game has been calibrated to play out the Superbowl with the current Colts and Saints players. Someone seems to do one of these every year and every year they have predicted the winner accurately (that I have seen). The scores usually aren't even close to right, but the outcome always is. What do we have this year? YOU'LL JUST HAVE TO WATCH TO FIND OUT!

Tecmo Super Bowl XLIV from Alex Quigley on Vimeo.

I just like this because the game itself is THE BEST FOOTBALL VIDEO GAME EVER. Some will complain that the graphics suck, but that's minor. And have you noticed that anytime someone goes for punt or field goal that it is much more exciting than watching the event in real life? They make it look like the craziest shit is about to go down. The field goals are so long that you can actually SEE THE CURVATURE OF THE EARTH. If that's not awesome, I don't know what is.

Well, enjoy your Superbowl, everyone!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Hump Day Helper: Attempting to Go Viral

Because it's Wednesday, and we all need a pick-me-up to make it through the rest of the week in our respective hells, WDR is providing some fun.

OK Go - This Too Shall Pass from OK Go on Vimeo.

I've never been a big fan of OK GO, but I've never disliked them either. They've always had some catchy songs, and I didn't mind it that my radio station had a real boner for them. Plus, they were one of the few bands that still appreciated the possibilities of the music video, and for that I'm grateful.

So it was no surprise that the band came up with nifty idea for their latest single. Sure, there have been a lot of terrible music that has incorporated elements of marching band in them (I'm looking at you, Missy Elliott and Gwen Stefani), and God knows why--I was in marching band for four years, and it was some of the most awful shit ever. But somehow OK GO converts their song into marching music, and makes it work. And it doesn't hurt to see clarinets popping up from hiding in camo.

Let your inner band-geek freak flag fly, and take a look.

Is it really all that much to lug around
Better run like hell when you hit the ground...

Monday, February 1, 2010

If Only I Could Have One Of These In New York

After walking the streets of New York everyday for about 18 months now, I realize how much a pain in the ass dogs can be. Sure, for their owners it can be maddening as they don't just shut the fuck up or have to be brought outside to tinkle every 4 hours, even in the bitter-ass cold. No, it's also the fact that everyone else has to deal with these dogs on a constant basis. While it's been my experience that most of these dogs that I encounter don't jump on you when you're walking around, that doesn't mean all that much--I still have to put up with all these dogs' shit. Literally.

Sometimes it makes me wish I could have brought Rambo up here with me. Or maybe go about this another way, and get myself a new pet, like this guy in Poland:

Watch CBS News Videos Online

I'm just imagining the possibilities of walking down the street with a lion. It's as cute as a cat, plus you get the added bonus of maulings! It's an unbeatable combination! And maybe a visit from Lafcadio here would convince some of these assholes to pick up their dogs' shit.