Song of the Day: "I Wanna Make This Clear, My Dear, That Heads Will Roll

Is it possible for to have a heavy metal song co-written by Nikki Sixx, with a video featuring naked women writhing around on top of each other, and for it not to be misogynistic? I suppose Marion Raven's "Heads Will Roll" qualifies.

Probably not work safe.

There's a taste in my mouth that I never had before,
To be a cheater, defeater, are things I won't ignore,
Like a rat in a trap your head got in the way,
Nothing left of you, but a memory of a bad lay.

Heads gonna roll (Heads gonna roll)
I'm back in control (back in control)
It's a jungle out there it's gonna eat you up
And strip you bare
I'll swallow you whole (swallow you whole)
Then spit out your soul (spit out your soul)
I wanna make this clear, my dear that heads will roll.

There's a look in your eyes, am I the one you dread?
You make me wonder what's going on inside your head
(Inside your head)
You lie and you slither like a cold-blooded snake
I'll make you pay for your big mistake.

Heads gonna roll (Heads gonna roll)
I'm back in control (back in control)
It's a jungle out there it's gonna eat you up
And strip you bare
I'll swallow you whole (swallow you whole)
Then spit out your soul (spit out your soul)
I wanna make this clear, my dear, that heads will roll.

When I think of you, I think of this
And then it turns to bitterness
I'm praying for amnesia, I beg for anesthesia.

Forget the lies, and numb the pain
If this don't stop I'll go insane
The more I hurt, the more I'll curse your name.

Heads gonna roll (Heads gonna roll)
I'm back in control (back in control)
It's a jungle out there it's gonna eat you up
And strip you bare
I'll swallow you whole (swallow you whole)
Then spit out your soul (spit out your soul)
I wanna make this clear, my dear, that heads will roll.

Heads gonna roll (Heads gonna roll)
I'm back in control (back in control)
It's a jungle out there it's gonna eat you up.


Quote of the Day

I will be giving a talk about ideal vulvas - genital self-esteem, pornography, puberty, plastic surgery — at the 16th Biennial Meeting of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research, at UBC in Vancouver.



The one problem with owning a cat is you have to leave a bowl of meat on the floor for it to eat. 90% of the time this isn't a big deal, but in the spring time the bowl becomes an ant magnet. In the past it's usually only taken a couple ant-traps to drive them off, but for some reason this year the bastards won't die. I've sprayed. I've vacuumed them up. I've moved the food dish. They're back within 24 hours each time. At least they're sticking strictly ot the cat food, but it's annoying to come home and see a column marching across the floor. And if it doesn't stop soon, my kitty won't be a fat little butterball any longer.

Song of the Day: "Sunrise Blinds Your Eyes"

I don't generally like electronic music -- at least electronic more recent than Emerson, Lake & Palmer; if it wasn't produced on a Moog synthesizer, I'm probably not going to like it. There are exceptions -- for reasons I can't explain, I like Paul Van Dyk, and there are a few Moby songs that are pretty good. And according to Amazon, I like genres called trip-hop and chill -- as best I can tell, this is all because I own some Portishead, Sneakerpimps, and Hooverphonics. But one of the recommendations Amazon gave me is pretty good: Rose Smith's album Dawn Raiding. I especially love the song Life Changes.

Life changes happen everyday,
The place to make your play.

See the skyline for the very first time,
Sunrise blinds your eyes and it feels just fine,
Think of all the years that its been around,
You're here, have no fear, good times are 'round.

Down by the river the air is so blue,
Four in the morning I'm down here with you,
Watching our breath see it moving away,
Old Lady Liberty is looking our way,
Thinking of the tunes about this place,
Down on the avenue by Radio City,
In the distance see my ship coming in,
All at once I feel my spirit lifted.
Down by the river the air is so blue,
Four in the morning I'm down here with you,
Watching our breath see it moving away,
Old lady liberty is looking our way.

See the skyline for the very first time,
Sunrise blinds your eyes and it feels just fine,
Think of all the years that its been around,
You're here, have no fear, good times are 'round.

Know something good's coming your way,
No matter how long you're gonna stay,
Life changes happen everyday,
The place to make your play.

Quote of the Day

But I've got to say that when people try to convert lions to Christianity ... and then they get bit, it's a sign to me that the universe is humming along properly.

--Jonah Goldberg


Song of the Day: When I'm called off I got a sawed off

Q: What's the craziest cover-song ever recorded?

A: "Straight Out of Compton" as sung by Nina Gordon (Veruca Salt).

As Ambrose Bierce once wrote, "Can such things be?"

Quote of the Day

Wally: Ratso Rizzo's not the kind of character that looks good on Taco Bell cups.

--Mission Hill


What He Said

From Andrew Wheeler:

Yes, F. Scott Fitzgerald once said "There are no second acts in American lives." Yes, blowhards like to trot this out to deny it when talking about some media darling who is making a comeback. But they're all idiots, since that's not what Fitzgerald was talking about. Despite all of the misquotations, he did not say "second chances," and he did not mean "second chances."

An "act" is a theatrical conceit, and Fitzgerald was referring to the typical three-act play. American lives, in the Fitzgeraldian conception, have a first act (the set-up) and a third act (the climax), but they rush from one directly to the other without the usual building of tension and complexity in the middle. In other words, America is a land of smash hits and smash failures, one after another, without pause -- exactly what the people who quote that line to refute it are trying to say in their own stupid ways.

So cut it out.

Song of the Day: "I Feel Like Getting Confessional"

For whatever reason, Camera Obscura's "Let's Get Out of This Country" seems appropriate today.

Let’s get out of this country
I’ll admit I am bored with me
I drowned my sorrows and slept around
When not in body at least in mind
We’ll find a cathedral city
You can convince me I am pretty

We’ll pick berries and recline
Let’s hit the road dear friend of mine
Wave goodbye to our thankless jobs
We’ll drive for miles maybe never turn off
We’ll find a cathedral city you can be handsome I’ll be pretty

What does this city have to offer me
Everyone else thinks it’s the bee’s knees
What does this city have to offer me?
I just can’t see
I just can’t see

Let’s get out of this country
I have been so unhappy
Smell the Jasmine my head was turned
I feel like getting confessional
We’ll find a cathedral city you can convince me I am pretty

What does this city have to offer me
Everyone else thinks it’s the bee’s knees
What does this city have to offer me
I just can’t see
I just can’t see

Quote of the Day

Eric Idle: Today, we're going to learn about a weighty matter: gravity. So let's get right on with our experiment. Pick up the pencil in your right hand -- though if you're left handed or suffer some disability, one of the others will do just as well. You'll find it best to hold the pencil between the fingers. Hold it firmly, but there's no need to squeeze. And don't play with it. I'm not playing with mine. Now let's pick up our pencils and raise them to an altitude of about 12 inches above the top of the desk, making sure there's no obstruction underneath. Now by gently moving your fingers apart, release your hold on the pencil. Did you notice what happened? Your pencil fell. Mine did. Did yours? It should've done. If your pencil refuses to fall, something may be wrong.
-Do Not Adjust Your Set


Quote of the Day

Let us understand, once for all, that the ethical progress of society depends, not on imitating the cosmic process, still less in running away from it, but in combating it.
--Thomas Huxley

Song of the Day: I Got You Baby, Punk Rock Style

The video quality is for shit, the audio isn't synced, but it's Joey Ramone and Holly Beth Vincent duetting on I Got You Baby -- you gotta love it.


Quote of the Day

2 Fast 2 Furious is 2 loud and 2 long. It makes any1 over the age of 30 go AGHHHHHHHH! But any1 over the age of 30 who goes 2 it is 2 dumb 2 worry about.
-Stephen Hunter

Song(s) of the Day: Abbey Lincoln Suite

Today I have some real treats -- a selection of performances from the unduly obscure jazz vocalist Abbey Lincoln.

First up is her number in Frank Tashlin's The Girl Can't Help It -- the best performance in a movie full of stand-out performances.

Next is an appearance on an old, late-night music program called Nightmusic.

What she says about how acting informs her musical performance is nowhere more apparent than these final two clips, rare video of Max Roach's "Freedom Now" suite.

Man, is that not the best thing ever?


The Tissue-Paper Starlets

The beautifully psychotic Kim Morgan has an article at the Huffington Post on Barbara Payton, the 1950's movie actress who, as the cover of her autobiography puts it, went "from $10,000 a week to $5 a night". Kim paints Payton as a sort of early feminist hero -- though "martyr" might be more accurate; as Neal Colgrass points out in the intro to the Holloway house edition, the stuff that drove Payton to Skid Row would barely merit a front page story in modern scandal rags. However you want to split this hair, Payton was right to title her memoirs I Am Not Ashamed. As the woman herself puts it:

Today, right now I live in a rat-roach (they're friends) infested apartment with not a bean to my name and I drink too much Rose wine. I don't like what my scale tells me. The little money I do accumulate to pay the rent comes from old residuals, poetry and favors to men. I love the Negro race and will accept money only from Negroes.

Does it all sound depressing to you? Queasy. Well, I'm not ashamed. I have hope. I don't live in a rosy hazed memory. I look to the future.

Kim finds the book a parable to guide Hollywood's young starlets, for even if they can't be driven from the spotlight as easily as Payton was, they're still a disposable commodity. Remember just a couple years ago when Rachel McAdams was all the rage -- Mean Girls, The Notebook, Red Eye. But if you check out her IMDB page, you'll see she has two movies in pre-production and one in post that won't be out for another year. By then she'll've been replaced by another ingenue-of-the-week. Which is too bad -- she actually is talented. But so are most of the young starlets in Hollywood. They have a short window where they can get starring roles in movies, maybe even win an Oscar, then they're demoted to love-interests for male leads, and then their out-put peters out or they're stuck doing character work or guest-starring on TV shows. The Jodie Fosters who manage to parlay their talent into long-running careers are increasingly rare.

A large part of the problem is the way Hollywood caters to the youth. If you go back and watch Garbo's early silents, or Linda Darnell in Zorro, you wouldn't know that they were still jail-bait when they made those films, unlike so many of today's ingenues who try to look like teenagers well into their twenties or even thirties. Modern Hollywood has as much appreciation for maturity as the Sandmen in Logan's Run -- no matter how talented Lindsay Lohan actually is, once she hits thirty she's going off to Carousel.

Oh, My Eyes

Somebody told me that you had a boyfriend who looked like a girlfriend I had -- no wait. Somebody told me that my ten year high school reunion should be coming up soon. After some poking around the Interweb, I found a site devoted to the alumni of my alma mater, but it appears that everyone in my year (me included) added their contact information in their sophomore year of college and haven't updated it since. Our class president did have a notice up about organizing the reunion, but she suggests people also put their contact info on one of those classmate finding websites -- you know the ones, they own every banner ad on the Net. But of course these sites charge a good chunk of money so you can find out about a reunion once per decade.

Long story short, I ended up getting a MySpace page instead. I've kept it completely vanilla, but of the people I've looked up so far, almost every one has created an awful design that will make your eyes bleed. Which is why I'm not giving up this site yet.

The Mary Celeste Returns

Submitted for your approval:

The 12-meter catamaran was found 80 nautical miles off Townsville on the northeast coast, but there was no sign of the three crewmen who had set sail from the state of Queensland bound for Australia's west coast on Sunday.

'What they found was a bit strange in that everything was normal, there was just no sign of the crew,' Jon Hall from emergency management in Queensland said on Friday.

Hall said the yacht's sails were up but one was badly shredded. He said the engine was running, there was food on the table, a laptop was turned on, and the radio and global positioning satellite (GPS) were working.

Three life jackets and survival equipment, including an emergency beacon, were found on board, but no life rafts.

Note to Self

Never shake hands with Sheryl Crow.

Quote of the Day

I mean, what did he need to read for? There's an international symbol for the gents' toilets.
--Nick Hornby
/A Long Way Down/

Song of the Day: "One More Drink and a Pitcher to Go"

One more song about boozing, this time a duet between Loretta Lynn and Jack White called "Portland, Oregon". There's something magical about a tall, gawky young rocker and a small, frail old country star singing about having a one-night stand with each other.


Well Portland Oregon and sloe gin fizz,
If that ain't love then tell me what is.
Well I lost my heart it didn't take no time,
But that ain't all. I lost my mind in Oregon.


In a booth in the corner with the lights down low,
I was movin' in fast she was takin' it slow.


Well I looked at him and caught him lookin' at me,
I knew right then we were playin' free in Oregon.


Next day we knew last night got drunk,
But we loved enough for the both of us.


In the morning when the night had sobered up,
It was much too late for the both of us in Oregon.


Well sloe gin fizz works might fast,
When you drink it by the pitcher and not by the glass.
Hey bartender before you close,
Pour us one more drink and a pitcher to go.

And a pitcher to go.


Night of the Living Cows

There's been a long-standing argument in rec.arts.sf.written about to what extent the aphorism "You can't judge a book by its cover" is true. Some believe it absolutely, but others (me included) think that it's only accurate in a qualitative sense -- you can't tell if a book's any good by looking at the cover, but you can tell if it's the sort of thing you're inclined to like. Different genres and sub-genres have their own unique iconographies, and if you can recognize them you can tell if a book belongs to a genre you like.

Exploding spaceships = space opera

A woman in a uniform on a spaceship's bridge = mil.sf

Bright, friendly colors with a single, simple symbol = comedy

An elf, a dwarf, and a handful of humans with swords = extruded fantasy product

It's a way to get you to notice books you'll like. And it works. Just the other week I was browsing in Barnes & Nobles and a book caught my eye just this way. Actually, what attracted me wasn't even the cover. It was the font used on the spine -- the sort of colorful, wild font you see on sci-fi posters from the 1950s. It just screamed, "If you love cheesy old movies, you should buy me." Then I actually saw the title: Gil's All Fright Diner. Oh man, I thought, that'd dreadful. So dreadful I almost put it back on the shelf. Instead I opened up and gave the first page a read, and was instantly hooked.

Duke's a taciturn werewolf. Earl's a bad-ass vampire with an inferiority complex. Together ... they fight crime.

Or evil cults devoted to freeing the Old Gods.

As the novel opens, Duke and Earl pull into the titular diner in the rural south-west, only to be attacked by zombies in the middle of their meal. After they fend off the undead, the diner's proprietress offers them a job as supernatural exterminators. Seems this wasn't the first zombie attack the restaurant's experienced. Duke and Earl quickly discover that there's more going on than zombies -- someone in town is trying to free the Old Gods, and the diner is integral to the plan.

If the plot sounds like something out of Buffy, that's appropriate because the tone is about the same too, a mixture of irreverence, action, and occasional serious drama. Unfortunately, the combination of humor and horror doesn't always work. There's one scene in particular, where Duke and some farmers are attacked by zombie cows. Now just the concept of zombie cows is comedy gold, but the amount of gore in the scene, as Duke takes a rock and bashes a cow's head in, is decidedly unfunny to the point that it undermines book's comic tone.

The novel's other major problem is that the author, A. Lee Martinez, has an annoying penchant for bad puns. There's the title. There're the characters of Duke and Earl. And there's the local sheriff named Marshall Kopp. But when he tries his hand at real humor, Martinez is as funny as Pratchett (though lacking Pratchett's deeper meaning):

Reality is like a fruitcake: Pretty enough to look at, but with all sorts of nasty things lurking just beneath the surface. Ancient things, older than time itself, smothered beneath the crushing interdimensional weight of what mortals, in their limited understanding, would call existence.

The book's good enough that I wanted to immediately run out and buy the sequel ... only to learn that Martinez hasn't written one, even though the story reads like the first part of a series.
Song of the Day: El Sol No Regresa

Continuing with the theme of songs about drinking your life away, today's song comes from the Spanish band La Quinta Estacion. I can't find a proper translation of the lyrics, but I know the chorus is, "Tequila makes the clouds go away, but it doesn't bring back the sun." Too true.

Quote of the Day

Joe Grant: You bastard.
Rico: Yes sir. In my case an accident of birth, but you sir, you're a self-made man.
--The Professionals


Quote of the Day

"Typical American," said Jess. "What do you want to do? Bomb some poor little country somewhere?"

"Sure. It would take my mind off things, some bombing."

--Nick Hornby
A Long Way Down
Song of the Day: Hockey Skates

For another take on the subject of living in the bottle, here's Kathleen Edwards' "Hockey Skates" off the single best album of the last ten years, Failer.

Going down in the same old town down the same street to the same bar
And the same old people saying hi and I dont care
Going down in the same old bar and I dont even order anymore
I am so sick of consequence and the look on your face
I am tired of playing defense
I dont even have hockey skates

You can meet me at ten thirty
I wont be there Ill be gone
We can talk like we are friends
Going over it all again
Talking about everything I am doing wrong

Do you wish your nose was longer
So youd have an excuse not to see past it
Do you wish the lights were brighter in the city that you live
I am so sick of consequence..

Do you think your boys club will crumble
Just because of a loud-mouthed girl?


Song of the Day: Lived in Bars

I love Cat Power -- the sparse arrangements that somehow sound so rich, lyrics that are simultaneously downbeat and uplifting. It's a schizophrenic combination that can only be accomplished by a highly disturbed artist.

We've lived in bars
And danced on tables
Hotel trains and ships that sail
We swim with sharks
And fly with aeroplanes in the air

Send in the trumpets
The marching wheelchairs
Open the blankets and give them some air
Swords and arches bones and cement
The light and the dark of the innocent of men

We know your house so very well
And we will wake you once we've walked up
All your stairs

There's nothing like living in a bottle
And nothing like ending it all for the world
We're so glad you will come back
Every living lion will lay in your lap
The kid has a homecoming the champion the horse
Who's going to play drums, guitar or organ with chorus
As far as we've walked from both ends of sand
Never have we caught a glimpse of this man

We know your house so very well
And we will bust down your door if you're not there

We've lived in bars
And danced on tables
Hotel trains and ships that sail
We swim with sharks
And fly with aeroplanes out of here
Out of here, out of here
Out of here, out of here.

Now That's Liquid Lunch

You have to give Fox News credit -- you might not like their content, but they know how to program. For example, while MSNBC and CNN rerun their primetime news shows after midnight, Fox has a show that caters to insomniacs and alcoholics. Red Eye airs at 2:00 AM Eastern, and is what Bill Maher used to be before he became a stodgy asswipe -- five guys and gals sit around discussing lesbians, booze, and the occasional news story. Among tonight's tidbits was a liquid lunch for models -- Slim Fast and Kahlua. Well, they say beer originated as liquid bread, so I guess a Kahlua diet isn't completely crazy.


Kermit Sings the Blues

Poor Kermie, having to go all Joe Buck on Rolf.

Who knew fluid dynamics could be so much fun?


Random Fact of the Day

Of the actors who play squints on Bones, Eric Millegan (Zach) is the youngest. He was born in 1974, which makes him two years older than Emily Deschanel and T.J. Thyne (both born in '76), and Michaela Conlin (1978). Yes, baby-faced Zach is played by a 32 year old man.
What Comes Is Better than What Came Before

Nick Hornby has a talent for writing completely unsentimental novels about subjects that should be unbearably maudlin. In High Fidelity he told the story of a man coming to terms with his long-time girlfriend leaving him for another man, and did it without any mopey emo crap. In About a Boy he wrote about a rich, aging lothario who's perfectly content to live in solitary leisure until a misfit boy forces himself into his life. The two teach each other valuable lessons of life, but not the ones you'd expect -- the boy learns he can't always rely on others because they're at least as screwed up as he is, and the man learns that independence is harder than he'd thought. There's no cathartic climax where the two sing "Killing Me Softly" on stage -- that was purely the invention of Hollywood.

A Long Way Down is his most unsentimental novel yet (though it's somewhat spoiled by characters pointing out how unsentimental it is). In it, four strangers each try to commit suicide on New Years Eve by jumping off a highrise apartment building that's popular for jumpers. None of them havereally thought things through, and don't realize that by choosing a popular suicide spot on one of the most popular nights for suicide, they're bound to run into other people with the same idea. Which kinda spoils the mood.

The four people include two men and two women. Jesse is the teenaged daughter of an MP, and she's highly disturbed -- self-mutilation, drugs, bad relationships, the typical things you'd expect from a suicidal teenager. JJ is a 30 year old American rocker whose band has broken up after a decade, and has realized that without music his life has no direction. Martin was the British equivalent of Bryant Gumbel or Regis Philben until he got caught sleeping with a 15 year old girl (she looked 16, honest), and now he's hosting a talk show on an obscure cable channel. And then there's Maureen, the one member of the quartet that everyone agrees has good reasons for killing herself. Maureen has a twenty year old son who was born braindead. Her Catholic upbringing prevents her from passing him off to an institution for others to take care of, so she lives on the dole, getting a special stipend for caring for an invalid. For twenty years, she hasn't worked, hasn't had a social life, hasn't gone anywhere without pushing her son in a wheelchair. She's spent the last twenty years changing diapers on a boy who'll never be potty trained, buying posters for a boy who'll never know a Spice Girl from a spice rack.

In a lesser book, Jesse and JJ would hook-up, and JJ would end up making it big in music. Martin and Maureen would fall in love, and Martin would redeem himself and get his old job back. And everyone would live happily ever after. But that's not how things work in Hornby novels. The four protagonists can barely tolerate each other, and while they find themselves hanging out with each other after New Years, it's because they have no one else to turn to. And while the characters do end the book happier than they began it, they're far from happy -- and in fact, by most practical standards they're worse off. JJ, for example, ends up busking around London with a guitar; and Maureen gets a job and joins a quiz team, but barely makes enough money to cover a nurse to babysit her son. No one finds success or happiness, just enough reason to keep going another day. Don't look for this on Oprah's book club or lists of inspirational books.


Lose Your Illusions

The Illusionist (last year's film about a magician that didn't star Batman and Wolverine) is a disturbing movie, though not for the reasons intended by the filmmaker. The story (and I'm about to spoil the whole thing, so if you care about such things stop reading right now) is about Eisenheim (Ed Norton), a fin de siecle magician who's just arrived in Vienna to perform. He soon attracts the attention of the crown-prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell) and his fiancee Sophia (Jessica Biel). Leopold is a bit of a putz, who is rumored to have murdered one of his lovers and beaten others, and who is plotting to overthrow his father the Emperor.

But as fate would have it, Eisenheim and Sophia are old childhood friends, and soon the two start meeting for secret trysts. Well, secret from everyone but Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti), a Viennese police officer who works directly for the Prince Leopold. Uhl, who is himself fascinated with magic, tries to warn Eisenheim off, but finally has no choice but to report the assignations to Leopold. Shortly after this, Sophia turns up dead.

Eisenheim insists to Uhl that the Prince is the murderer, but Uhl will have none of it and promptly arrests Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Film for the crime. Determined to bring down Leopold, Eisenheim launches a new series of shows in which he claims to summon the dead, including the spirit of Sophia who casts suspicion on Leopold. The apparent reality of these illusions builds Eisenheim a loyal, almost religious following. As more and more people start believing the Prince murdered Sophia, Leopold puts pressure on Uhl to shut down the shows. Uhl does this, but not before becoming convinced of the truth of Eisenheim's accusations. Uhl knows he can't arrest the Prince for murder, so instead he sends news to the Emperor's general-staff about Leopold's planned coup. Rather than be arrested and forced to face his father, Leopold opts to blow his brains out.

All well and good. But then we get the final scene of the movie, where Uhl takes time to think about everything that happened and realizes it was all a set-up -- Eisenheim faked Sophia's death so she could leave Leopold and be with him, and then he stayed in Vienna to ... well, that's where the story runs into problems. Why did he stay in Vienna? He could've stuck around for a couple weeks to tie up his affairs and then left to join Sophia. But he didn't. He stayed around to goad the Prince and convince Uhl of Leopold's guilt. Why? Leopold was an ass to be sure, but what did he do to deserve Eisenheim's vengeance? He was plotting a coup against his father, but that's just the game of thrones -- there's nothing inherently immoral about one nob deposing another. Being a jerk doesn't necessarily make one a bad ruler, and there are even hints that Leopold had progressive ideas. There's the rumor that the Prince killed a former lover, but that's just a rumor -- and considering how false the rumors WRT Leopold and Sophia turned out to be, there's good reason to disbelieve anything else we hear about the Prince's personal life.

So ultimately we're left with Eisenheim driving the Prince to suicide out of pure perversity. And Uhl kinda chuckling over it when he realizes how he'd been played. But the film doesn't acknowledge any of this -- when Leopold kills himself, we're left with a satisfying sense that, Good, he got his comeuppance for killing Sophia. Then the movie spontaneously reverses that and ends before the implications can be examined -- except I get the feeling that writer/director Neil Burger wasn't even aware of the implications, having not thought the ending through more deeply than, "That'd be a great twist."