Archive for the ‘The Stooges’ Category


2012 saw the release of this very strange collaborative album.  Whether The Flaming Lips had entered the mainstream or if people who’d always liked them were now big stars or maybe they all just liked doing acid.  Whatever the case, The Lips worked with a vast array of famous (and less famous) people for this bizarre album.  Here it is 8 years later. Time to check in.

The first song is I believe made by Kesha (who wanted to collaborate with Wayne Coyne).  I understand it is a kind of update of The Stooges’ “1969.”  I’ll have to assume that’s true.

It starts with Kesha saying, “Coz I want my ass.  Shit.  Sorry.”  And then the stomping electronic dancey but chaotic beat starts up.  “2012 (You Must Be Upgraded)” features Kesha, Biz Markie & Hour of the Time Majesty 12.

It runs along with Kesha singing (incoherently) and Biz Markee chiming in (also incoherently).  I don’t really know what they’re saying, but it’s oddly catchy.

The middle has some psychedelic flutes and a relatively clean vocal line from Kesha.  She sings nicely and It feels like the end of the song–like its just going to fade out–but no, after a beat, the noisy dance part starts up again.  At four minutes, it’s a relatively short song on this album.  And it certainly sets the tone for what follows (which means who the hell knows what’s going to come next).

This song is so unlike The Flaming Lips, I’m not even sure what they contributed to it.  Lyrics? Music? Anything?  Who knows.  The unknown contributors are Hour of the Time Majesty 12 who are Spooki Tavi and Ashi Dala an experimental pop group who “create cartoon-like psychedelic fantasy in the dusty shimmer of east Hollywood.”  They have two albums out which I may have to investigate.

[READ: August 1, 2019] Strangers in Paradise XXV #1

I loved the Strangers in Paradise series.  Terry Moore’s art is amazing and the story was incredibly affecting.  I was really saddened when it ended in 2012.

Then in 2018 he announced that he was restarting the story–a 25th anniversary update!  Hence the XXV in the title.

I subscribed to the monthly publication issues but wanted to wait until the ten issue arc was completed before I started reading it.

Issue 1 begins with a man on a subway looking at his phone.  When he doors open, a kid grabs his phone, and takes off.  The phone gets tossed around until a woman who looks a lot like Katchoo takes out the sim card and throws the phone down.

The man calls his wife from work to say what happened.  His wife, Laura, asks about the woman who took out the sim card.  He describes Katchoo and Laura freaks out.  She kicks a hole in a wall, takes out a bug-out-bag and flees.  Shortly, Katchoo goes into the house and sees that Laura has left already. (more…)

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 dancingSOUNDTRACK: deLILLOS-“Forelsket” (1987).

delilloKarl Ove mentions many bands in this book, but the deLillos are the only Norwegian band that he plays.  They sing in Norwegian and play sprightly, jangly guitar pop–they would fit in very well with some of the lighter alt bands from the late 80s and early 90s.

I have no idea what they’re singing about (well, the title translates to “love” so I guess I know what they are singing about.

The singer has a high, delicate voice and there’s some interesting harmonies.  I really like the way the song transitions from verse to chorus with the picked guitar notes–very catchy.

It comes from their second album, Før var det morsomt med sne  (Before it was fun in the snow), which along with their first was quite popular and was reissued with a bonus disc in the 90s.  Having said that I see that Amazon has one copy of the disc and no album cover listed.  Worse yet, I can’t find many other songs online (Spotify lists the album, but I can’t get it to play).

Sorry, deLillos (even searching for you gives us more Don DeLillo than you guys).

[READ: June 24, 2014] My Struggle Book Four

struggle4I started including the British edition page numbers because at my work we received both editions of the book, and I received the British one first so I grabbed it and started reading.  I noticed the page numbers were quite different (the British book is taller and the print is quite bigger, although this doesn’t explain why the previous books have fewer pages).

I had been interested in the differences between editions from the get go.  I had enjoyed the American editions, but I enjoyed reading this British edition more (bigger print?).  But when I noticed on one of the pages that the word “realise” was spelled as I typed it, it made me wonder if the American edition changed that to the American spelling.  [Actually, I see that Don Bartlett lives in Virginia, so perhaps he translates it into American first].  While I wasn’t about to go into a deep inspection of the topic, when I saw the American edition on a shelf at work, I had to do a little comparison.

And what I found out was that even though Don Bartlett is the (amazing) translator for both editions, someone (perhaps Bartlett himself?) is translating the American into British (or vice versa).  I looked at a couple of pages and noticed these changes from British to American:

  • Pack it in, now = Give it up, now
  • roll-up = rollie [about hand rolled cigarettes]
  • looked daggers at = gave her a dirty look
  • a complete prat = completely useless
  • is that possible? = really?
  • to cook and wash up = cooking and doing the dishes
  • I had got = I’d gotten
  • had penned = had written
  • and yes, realised = realized.

Other than select phrases, every word is exactly the same.  So somebody goes through the books and changes them to British english idioms and spellings.  That’s fascinating.

I also see that this is the first book I had not read an excerpt from first.  Not that it would have made any difference as to whether I read the fourth one.  I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

So book four is set in Håfjord, a town in Northern Norway near Finnsnes (a five hour flight away–okay I had no idea Norway was so big!).  Karl Ove is 18 and has decided to become a grade school teacher there for one year.  The tax breaks are great if you teach, and he plans to teach and write his masterpieces and then get out.  He has no interest in teaching, but the town is small (most grades are 3-7 students), so he figures it can’t be too hard.

As in most of Karl Ove’s books, the stories jump around and flash back and do not stay all in this one time, but it is largely set in this locale.

My first thought was that I have never read a story with as much semen (both nocturnal emission and premature ejaculation) in my life.  It is a strange take away from the book, but there it is.  Karl Ove is 18 and really wants to have sex for the first time.  About 3/4 of the way through the book he reveals that he never masturbated (it just never occurred to him, apparently, and at 18 he’s too old to start–what!?).  As such, he seems to have wet dreams every night.  And every time he gets near a woman, he has an orgasm too soon.  He is horny all the time–it’s a bit disconcerting.

And since I mentioned that, I don’t know if Karl Ove’s life is typical of Norway, but I am shocked by the number of women who take their clothes off around him (he may have never had sex, but he was about to on at least a half-dozen occasions).  And he says that all through school (from around age 13 and up) it was common place for the boys to lift up the girls’ shirts and kiss and or fondle their breasts.  It is mind-boggling to me.  And the 16 year olds all seem to be having sex all the time–this may be skewed from Karl Ove’s perspective, but that’s what I now believe happens in Norway.

But while sex is the main theme of the book–sex, sex sex, there is more to it.

Karl Ove’s parents have split up and his father has started drinking in earnest.  The dad has remarried and has just had a baby.  Incidentally, I was also shocked to read that Karl Ove’s father, who is an abusive stodgy old man who is cranky and mean and abusive and all the stuff that we read about in the other volumes was only 43 at the time that Karl Ove was 18.  So the old man who I pictured as a gray-haired curmudgeon in this book is actually younger than me.  Great.

In Håfjord, Karl Ove is teaching kids who range from age 13 to 16.  It’s disconcerting to read about him thinking lustful thoughts about his students, until he reminds us that for most of the students, he is only 2 years older than them.  I am pleased to say that he behaves himself (except in his mind) with all of the students.  There’s even a really interesting flash forward to eleven years later when he runs into two of them again.

He proves to be a pretty decent teacher it seems.  The kids mostly like him (the girls all think he is hot) and he is young and tries to make it fun (he himself hated school and everything about it).  He even seems to help out an awkward boy (although that is never resolved).  We see him teaching, trying to interact with the kids and generally being a pretty good guy.

Until the booze comes out.

For in addition to semen, this book is chock full of alcohol.  Before graduating from gymnas (high school), Karl Ove basically stopped caring about anything.  He spent most of his time drunk.  It is astonishing the amount of drinking he does–it’s practically like an Amish Rumspringa how crazy he goes.  But even in this retrospective look, he talks about how much he likes it, how it loosens him up and makes him less nervous.

But really he just spends most of his time drunk, hungover or sick. He even got into the hash scene for a while.  He was living with his mom at the time and she was appalled at the way he acted–especially when he threw a party which trashed their house.   She even kicked him out for a time.

He seemed to be over the drink in Håfjord, but it turns out that there’s precious little else to do except drink up there, especially when it grows dark for most of the day.  So there is much drinking–he only misses class once or twice because of it but he comes very close a lot.

The irony that he is appalled at his father’s drinking, while drinking so much himself, is apparently lost on him.

The other main preoccupation with Karl Ove is music.   He talks a lot about his great taste in music (he reminds me of me–a little insufferable).  Back when he was in gymnas, he spent a lot of time discussing his favorite bands and favorite songs.  He got a job (at 16) writing reviews for a local paper (holy crap, jealous!) and then later gets a job writing a column for another paper.  For the previous book I listed a lot of the bands he mentioned, and I wish I had written them down for this one.  U2 features prominently (this is 1987, so I’m guessing Joshua Tree), but also Talking Heads, a Scottish post-punk/new wave band The Associates and their album Sulk which he describes as “an utterly insane LP.”  he and his brother really like The Church and Simple Minds (before they got so commercial).  He also has a whole thread in which he makes connections with albums:

Briano Eno, for example, started in Roxy Music, released solo records, produced U2 and worked with Jon Hassell, David Byrne, David Bowie, and Robert Fripp; Robert Fripp played on Bowie’s Scary Monsters; Bowie produced Lou Reed, who came from Velvet Underground, and Iggy Pop, who came from the Stooges, while David Byrne was in Talking Heads, who on their best record, Remain in Light, used the guitarist Adrian Belew, who in turn played on several of Bowie’s records and was his favorite live guitarist for years. (64).

He also specifically raves about “The Great Curve” from the Talking Heads album, and of course, he raves about the first Led Zeppelin album as well.

Music is a huge part of his life (and he dresses accordingly too).  It’s unclear whether the kids think this is awesome or not, but he may be a bit too much for some of the locals.  The locals are mostly fishermen (which makes sense), and Karl Ove is a bit intimidated that he is so wimpy compared to them–one of the women even teases him about his tiny arms.

But his main focus is writing.  He writes a few shorts stories (to my knowledge he has never published any of them).  We see some excerpts and they seem fine–he fancies himself Hemingway.  But he also mentions a bunch of Norwegian authors (I love when he does that).  Sadly again, not too many of them have been translated into English.  [I really hope that some mega fan creates a database of all of the bands and authors he mentions].  He also talks briefly about his first novel which alludes to his time teaching here.  I happened to read a small summary of said novel (Out of the World) and feared that it spoiled what was going to happen.  But, in fact there does appear to be a difference between his fiction and non-fiction.

The book moves very quickly–from party to party, from failed sexual attempt to the next, even from his staying up all night long trying to write.  And most of the time he comes off as kind of a dick–he is also very self-critical, which somehow tempers that dickishness.

As with the other books I cannot figure out exactly why I am so addicted to his writing.  I brought the book home on Thursday night and finished it (all 548 pages of it) Monday night.  This really completes the picture of himself as he moved from childhood to adulthood and really lays the foundation for whatever is to come next.   Early in the book he talks about the books that he loved at that age, books that talk about the move from childhood to adulthood.  And thus, this book becomes something of a bildungsroman as well.  Although whether or not Karl Ove actually grew up at the end of this book will have to wait until volume 5 (which I have to assume is still another year away as there is no information about it online at all!).

For ease of searching, I include: Hafjord, For var det morsomt med sne.


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when di dSOUNDTRACK: BECK-Scott Pilgrim vs the World (2010).

220px-Scott_Pilgrim_soundtrackI somehow missed Beck’s next album, Modern Guilt.  Whether I was bummed about not loving The Information or that Iwas just out of the loop, I’m surprised I wasn’t all over this collaboration with Danger Mouse.  But I plan to give it a closer listen soon.

After that, Beck wrote several songs for Sex Bob-Omb, the band in the movie Scott Pilgrim vs the World.

In a confusing annotation, he wrote 4 songs that Sex Bob-Omb play on the soundtrack.  Three of those songs, Beck also performs on the deluxe version of the album.  Beck also recorded two versions of a song that he wrote for the soundtrack.  And, according to Spin, there are four more unreleased tracks that you can listen to on their site.

I’m only going to mention the officially released tracks here.

“We Are Sex Bob-Omb” is a great punky fuzzed out rock song (as all four turn out to be).  It has a very Stooges feel and at only 2 minutes (including the intro) it’s quite the punk anthem.  Beck doesn’t do a version of this one.

“Threshold” is a punk blast (less than 2 minutes).  Beck’s version is fuzzed out with all kinds of interesting noises swirling around.  The chorus is very traditional punk (ie. surprisingly catchy).  The Sex Bob-Omb version is very close to the original.  It’s actually a little cleaner (you can understand most of the lyrics), but I think all of the noises are the same, so maybe its the same music with different vocals?  Well, according to the movie Wiki, the actors played the music, but of the three it’s the closest musically to the original.  There’s also an 8-bit version of the song which sounds like a warped video game playing along to the melody.  It’s created by Brian LeBarton.

“Garbage Truck” is a big dumb slow track.  In Beck’s version, there’s more fuzzed out guitars and it sounds more 70s rock than punk.  There’s big drums and dumb lyrics.  It’s great.  The Sex Bob-Omb version sounds quite different in the recording.  It’s a wee bit slower, and once again the vocals are much cleaner, but the music is wonderfully fuzzed out again.

“Summertime” is the same style of song–fuzzy and simple (Beck must have had fun writing these).  This one is the longest of the songs, at just over 2 minutes. Beck’s voice is once again super distorted.  The Sex Bob-Omb version feels slower, but maybe that’s just because the vocals are so much cleaner.

Although I thought I’d enjoy the Sex Bob-Omb versions more, I side with the Beck versions on all of them.  None of the songs are great, but they’re not supposed to be (Sex Bob-Omb isn’t meant to be a great band).  But they are a lot of fun, especially if you like garage punk.

There are two versions of “Ramona” on the disc.  The acoustic one is just a minute long and is Beck strumming and singing the word “Ramona” a few times.  It sets the stage for the full version which has strings and actual lyrics.  It’s a pretty song, reminiscent of the string style of Sea Change.

So this is an interesting collection of songs for Beck fans.  And, in fact, the entire soundtrack is quite good.

[READ: March 16, 2014] When Did You Last See Her?

I enjoyed Book 2 in this series a lot more than I remember enjoying Book 1.  And it was great to get back into the fun writing style of Lemony Snicket novels.

The first book left us with the quest for the Bombinating Beast sculpture which, as the story ended, was taken by Ellington Feint, a girl who Snicket was just starting to like.  The first book was full of (intentionally) confusing writing in which Snicket knows that the things he did were wrong, and things like the true nature of what happened were written in a weird way.

There was some of that in this book, but the focus was more on the story than the weirdness of Snicket’s situation (which I’m still not entirely clear on).  Without dwelling on book 1 too much, suffice it to say that Lemony Snicket is an apprentice to the terrible mentor S. Theodora (we still don’t know what the S. stands for).  We also don’t even exactly know what they do, in other words what his he apprentice-ing in?  He claims it’s not detective work.

Despite the disappointment of losing the Beast statue, there is a new problem in Stain’d by the Sea, which Snicket and S. have not left yet.  It turns out a girl, heir to the Knight fortune, has gone missing.  Cleo Knight, budding chemist, and girl with a plan to save the dying town of Stain’d by the Sea was last seen leaving town in her indestructible car, the famous Dilemma.  And yet, she was also seen (by the proprietor of Partial Foods (ha!)) leaving in a taxicab.  When Snicket and S. Theodora investigate the house, they find that the Knight parents are being sedated by a Dr. Flammarion–who seems very suspicious.


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[WATCHED October-November 2012] Metal Evolution

metal evolutionVH1 aired this series last year and I was intrigued by it but figured I had no time to watch an 11 hour series on the history of heavy metal.  Of course, this being VH1, they have since re-aired the series on an almost continual loop.  So, if you’re interested, you can always catch it.

This series was created by Sam Dunn, the documentary filmmaker who made the movie Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey.  I had heard good things about the movie, but never saw it.  After watching the series, I’m definitely interested in the movie.  Dunn is a keener–A Canadian heavy metal fan who is really into his subject.  He knows his stuff and he knows what he likes (heavy metal) and what he doesn’t like (glam metal, nu metal).

The sheer number of people he interviews is impressive (as are the number of locations he travels to).  Part of me says “wow, I can’t believe he was able to interview X,” and then I remember, “X is really old and is nowhere near the level of fame that he once had.”  Given that, the few hold-outs seem surprising–did they not want to have anything to do with VH1?  Are they embarrassed at how uncool they are now?  Just watch the show guys, you can’t be as low as some.

The only mild criticism I have is that the show relies a lot on the same talking heads over and over.  Scott Ian from Anthrax, whom I love, is in every episode.  Indeed, he may be a paid VH1 spokesman at this point.  There are a few other dudes who show up a little more than they warrant, but hey, you use what you got, right?

What is impressive is the volume of music he includes with the show.  I assume that he couldn’t  get the rights to any studio recordings because every clip is live.  This is good for fans in that we get to see some cool unfamiliar live footage, but some of it is current live footage which often doesn’t compare to the heyday.  Having said that, there’s a lot of live footage from the early 80s–of bands that I never saw live anywhere.  And that’s pretty awesome.

With an 11-part documentary there’s the possibility of exhaustion and overkill, but Dunn is an excellent craftsman  he jumps around from old to new, talks about how the history impacts the current and, because of his own interests, he makes it personal rather than just informative. (more…)

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