Archive for June, 2010

h1

I Survived! – True Stories of Human Survival Vol. 4

June 30, 2010

Of all the harrowing stories of survival, the fact that this series lives on is the harrowingest. I’d have put money on May 21st being the last gasp of this particular concept, but I’ve proved everyone wrong (including me) with this: Volume 4!

Perfectly related (and non-randomly generated) links:
Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3

Might as well stay in that position, buddy, because you are fucked...

Alan Cooper
It had been years since Alan Cooper had been spelunking, but rather than ease back in slowly he had plunged back into it with the reckless audacity of a twice-laid teen. Now several “rooms” deep into the cavern, Alan felt a twinge of regret for his foolhardy enthusiasm which, when coupled with the twinge of various pinched nerves, combined to immobilize him psychically.

It helped (or hurt) that he was also immobilized physically. With mind and body trapped in the same rock-strewn pinch point, he was free (figuratively) to consider his options and curse loudly at the small number which could be bothered to show up.

After several minutes of quiet contemplation, occasionally interrupted by loud, echoing, pointless cursing, Alan had narrowed his choices down to the following.

  • Construct some sort of time machine/matter transporter from his flashlight and remaining Nutrigrain bars.
  • Pray fervently, rotating deities every 5-7 minutes until saved.
  • Stay still and hope that the pinch point would erode faster than his confidence/battery supply.
  • Panic (accompanied by screaming, if needed).
  • Change “saved” to “rescued” in order to be completely removed from the cave, rather than just accept Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior.
  • Continue moving incrementally forward and backward until freed.

Fearing a split timeline might result in an even more horrific fate and fearing that erosion could take up to and including millions of years, Alan decided to combine the remaining options.

Rocking himself back and forth while screaming for help in the direction of whatever deities/humans might be in the vicinity, Alan slowly began to work himself free. He had now gained nearly a half-foot, but was, unfortunately, heading deeper into the cave. Reasoning unreasonably that there was “probably another exit,” Alan headed forward into the abyss and backwards in relation to the exit/entrance.

After several hours of exploration, Alan found himself pinched in what he believed to be the same pinch point. In reality, however, he was nearly a half-mile further into the cave. Still holding out hope that he was near the exit, he pushed on, fully believing that he now would live to regret his series of mistakes.

Four hours later and still no closer to freedom, Alan began to believe that he would live to regret this, but that all the remaining living would be carried out in the underlit and circuitous cave. As he lay in the dark, pointlessly speculating as to who would or wouldn’t attend his upcoming funeral, his on-and-off screams/prayers were answered by a passing tour guide and his attendant tour, who had entered the cave via the clearly marked and well-lit entrance less than 200 yards away.

As he was led to safety (now less than 500 feet away), he was questioned about unmapped lower rooms of the cavern. Unfortunately, his answers of “It’s almost fully mapped?” and “Well, it was very dark…” failed to enlighten the tour staff, who expressed their annoyance by revoking his Parks and Recreation membership and recommended he stay at least 500 feet away from any unattended holes.

Realizing your belaying line is no longer attached to anything may cause sudden loss of bowel control.

Steve Pearson
Attempting to negotiate a tricky cliff side trail, Steve loses his footing and tumbles nearly 300 feet to the forest floor below. While a fall of this distance is normally fatal, Steve is lucky. Rather than landing on the packed dirt and pointy rocks below, his fall is broken by a pack of mountain lions feasting on the corpse of a fallen hiker.

The feral cats quickly show their annoyance at the unexpected intrusion by ripping into Steve with their razor-sharp teeth, claws and sarcasm. When the brutal attack is over, Steve lays for a while in the surrounding pine needles and attempts to regain his strength. He’s in bad shape, losing copious amounts of blood and dignity at an alarming rate.

After several minutes, Steve rises slowly to his feet, embracing his recently questioned sexuality and heads toward the river. He gently bathes his flowing wounds in the water while attempting to smooth things over mentally with some light scarring. Concentrating intently on these two actions, Steve fails to notice a new and very distressing development.

The first is the fact that the stream, while appearing cool and clear, is steadily filling Steve’s bloodstream with a lively strain of e coli, thanks to an upstream dam constructed of wood, feces and animal corpses by a pack of rogue beavers. Even if he manages to stop the horrific bleeding, his internal organs have already been declared “Open Swim” by the new arrivals.

Secondly, Steve fails to notice the approach of a school of barracuda, drawn far from their normal habitat by the scent of fresh (and freshly tainted) blood. Of the two developments, this once proves to be the more immediately damaging.

Steve, suddenly brought to full consciousness by a series of sharp, biting pains, retrieves his arm from the river only to find it covered by hungry barracuda. His attempts to remove the fish only attracts the attention of the remaining school, who immediately leap for his remaining uncovered limbs. Steve turns and runs screaming through the forest, hampered by both an unimaginable amount of biting fish and his “stubby, little-girl legs.”

As he blindly charges through the underbrush, he encounters some bear traps, followed by some bear cubs and finally, the mother bear herself. Steve’s combined odor of fear, fish and less-than-normal amounts of testosterone triggers the bear’s killer instinct and she gives chase.

Steve begins running in a serpentine pattern, hoping to cut the bear’s number of “successfully landed mauling blows” in half. He reaches a clearing filled with environmental protesters, who mistake his collection of fish and the pursuing bear for some sort of half-assed poaching attempt.

The protesters interrupt their ritual drum circle long enough to hurl invective and badly written signs at Steve, questioning his selfish motives and sexual proclivities. The bear however, after spotting the protesters, turns back into the woods before its fur coat can be splattered with red paint.

Steve continues, pushing past the milling hippies, brandishing angry fish and loudly declaring his virility. He plunges through the underbrush, bleeding heavily and swearing at the remaining fish, who greet his rising anger with continued biting.

A short sprint later and Steve emerges on a gravel road. Seconds later, he is knocked to the ground by angry loggers who mistake his fish-riddled limbs as some sort of “tree-hugging nature intervention.” At this point, Steve passes out. He is revived moments later by the commencement of another swift beating and some not-very-heavily-veiled death threats.

Finally, an attending state trooper decides that Steve has “learned his lesson” and gives Steve a ride to the nearest hospital, lecturing him the entire way on the macroeconomics of the logging industry.

-CLT

h1

Heavy Rotation 50

June 27, 2010

Welcome to the 50th installment of the Heavy Rotation. I don’t really have anything planned as this sort of snuck up on me, and if you really get technical (and we will), this is actually the 51st, thanks to the numbering system not really “catching on” until the third HR. This doesn’t even include the repeated number somewhere in the 30’s.

Long story short: we’re calling this 50, but we’re not making a big deal of it.

First the links, because we’re all just not using the internet enough already:
[All links open in a new window. Right-click on track names to download.]

http://copybot.wordpress.com/2009/04/07/the-50-most-interesting-articles-on-wikipedia/

http://copybot.wordpress.com/2009/09/29/50-more-of-wikipedias-most-interesting-articles/

http://snarkmarket.com/

Approximately 50 previous volumes here:
The Heavy Rotation Archives

The Antlers – Kettering.mp3
We’ll build up this time around. Kicking things off is the Antlers and their dream/nightmare pop, delivering a haunting dirge detailing the frustration and futility of losing someone to forces beyond your control. The internal scream of someone dying on the inside watching someone dying on the outside.

The Delta Mirror – Going to Town.mp3
Former L.A. indie hip hop producers find a new life on the offworld colonies, returning to earth with their troubled take on post-rock/electronica via the shoegazey plugins of m83 and Ulrich Schnauss. Certainly more menacing than the bands listed above (although m83 does go darker more often than US), Going to Town rides a mildly fucked-up beat deep into the shadows while bright synth tones alluringly drag the listener down with them.

How could something so pretty be so full of pain? And why the hell does it remind me so much of the following track that my brain nearly broke trying to put 2 and 2 together around 4 in the morning early last week?

Ulrich Schnauss – Between Us and Them.mp3
Germany’s least expected import, Ulrich Schnauss writes love letters to My Bloody Valentine and Chapterhouse using his newfangled software and racks of electronics, rather than the tear-stained quill and paper they’re used to. Much like m83 and the recently discovered Incubator, Schnauss builds emotional moments from a collection of bits and bytes and creates cripplingly gorgeous soundscapes from files and folders.

This track sounds a fair bit like the previous one. And vice versa. Actually, more vice versa than not, what with Schnauss hitting the scene first.

m83 – Teen Angst (Death to the Throne Mix).mp3
Now the beats are starting to kick in. Death to the Throne dresses up Teen Angst for the dancefloor without pandering to the club kids, allowing blasts of m83’s white noise to break through before sending the 4/4 beat in to restore order, most memorably in the stutter-step-stagger bursts that lead into the 2nd chorus.

Tame Impala – H.F.G.W. (Canyons Drunken Rage).mp3
Australian psych-rockers Tame Impala (described to perfection in a previous comment thread) allow their Half Full Glass of Wine track to be beaten about by the mysterious Canyons. The result?

A loping beat meets gently weeping guitar licks before the bass kicks in with the intonation, “You leave me no choice but to plot my revenge.” As the vocals loop the song starts to strut, muscling its way into your ears and heading straight for your ass, mutating into a veritable rock fucking monster that Led Zeppelin woud have been proud to call their own.

[Need a track removed? Tired of all this shoegaze-tronica? Need some money wired to an ailing relative in Kenya? Contact me at 2timegrime@gmail.com.]

-CLT

h1

Time/Life Books’ Amateur Handyman Series: Vol. 3

June 25, 2010
[You know what people say they “just love” about Fancy Plans and Pants to Match? The lack of new content. I’m sure they say that, like, all the time. Here’s one from the archives in lieu of one from the forebrain: originally posted on September 10, 2009. Sorry about all the dust…]

This latest edition in the Time/Life Amateur Handyman Series is Birdhouses & Shit: Hundreds of Ways to Waste Your Children’s Summer Vacation and Make the Best Use of Your Inadequate Tool Selection. This selection features the expertise of Paul Macguire, a finish carpenter with over 40 years experience, last seen teaching shop at Devry. Despite feeling “incredibly over-qualified,” Paul’s expert skill and surly manner promise to be a potent combination that will have you up and running in no time.

Previous volumes can be found here: The Time/Life Archives

Keep dreaming, rookie. Yours is going to look nothing like this.

Keep dreaming, rookie. Yours is going to look nothing like this.

Project #1 – Birdhouse

Let’s get started. A birdhouse, huh? Well, why not.

Don’t kid yourselves. No bird will ever get within 50 feet of this thing. They build their own. If, by some odd chance, some lazy bird stumbles into this thing, he’ll soon be having his ass handed to him by the nearest blue jay, nature’s homeowner’s association president. That, or you’ll spend your free time evicting squirrel after squirrel. Your choice.

First, the “joy” of building it, followed by the tedious micromanagement of being the landlord for the world’s smallest, stupidest and whiniest tenants.

What You’ll Need

  • Pine or Cedar Board (Overall dimensions: 12″x36″x1/4″)
  • Saw (table or hand) – Note: this was not an instruction, Nimrod. Please stop sawing your table or hand.
  • 1/2″ Nails
  • Hammer
  • Wood Glue
  • Sander (belt or hand) – Note: That’s a pretty tender spot for an abrasion. Let’s do this like a game of “Simon Says,” since you clearly need some indication as to when you can jump in and start things up.
  • Paint/Varnish (Optional: But if you really dig that “unfinished” look so much, why don’t you just lean the uncut board against the tree and save us all the trouble?)

Step 1:
Provided you haven’t already disfigured yourself with the saw/sander, go ahead and cut out four pieces matching these dimensions:

  • (2) 8″ x 6″ (front/back)
  • (2) 8″ x 6-1/8″ (side)
  • (1) 6-1/2″ x 6-1/2″ (base)

Remember the old adage: “Measure twice, cut yourself.” Let’s be careful with thumb placement, people. You’ll want those opposable thumbs for holding up the “Will Work for Food” sign. I notice it’s not listed, but unless you’re some sort of dimensional Rainman, you’ll probably want a tape measure or ruler.

Once you have the pieces you need, lay them out in two stacks and the smallest piece separately. Notice that the two stacks should only have 1/8″ difference. If you notice a larger variation then all you really have is some wood to toss in the dumpster or hammer over very small windows during hurricane season.

Uh huh. Well, let’s try it again, only right. 1/8″ is roughly about the size of my patience.

OK, now that we presumably have the correct pieces, let’s continue. Pick up one side piece and the base. Apply a thin line of wood glue to one side of the “side” piece. Not that side. No, really. Go ahead and stick it on there.

Awesome. Now, I’m no rocket surgeon but 8″ is way more than 6-1/2″. I’m sure the birds will love the offset funhouse you’re trying to build, but maybe you could do a little thinking on your own. Put your hands down. I’ll talk. You listen. Any other combination is turning this project into a complete abortion.

Just wipe off the wood glue and try again. It’s not like it’s Wacky Glue or Crazy Glue or JB Weld or anything that actually adheres something to something else. The glue will wipe right off. You’ll notice this effect soon enough. Like when your side wall piece falls right over because wood glue can’t hold shit.

You’ll have to either hold it until a bond develops (30-45 minutes, just like with your makeup-wearing son) or find something to prop it up with.

Even this one may be a bit of a stretch...

Even this one may be a bit of a stretch...

You know what works great for this? Going to the store and pulling a $10 out of your wallet. Bingo. A professionally made birdhouse, just like from the factory. It’s not like this is a deck or an addition to the house, where you could conceivably save some money by doing it yourself. You’re not saving any cash or aggravation by banging this out at home. Christ, it’s a fucking birdhouse.

OK. That side has finally set. Go ahead and repeat these steps for the other side.

Beautiful. The 8″ side again? Jesus. I ran a shop class for a truckload of amputees with OCD that went smoother than this. And that includes the dipshit that somehow nearly lathed himself to death after failing to stop the “crazy train” when he ran out of wood. Substitute teaching is always one catastrofuck after another. I swear, you turn your back for one minute and someone’s got the reciprocating saw halfway through their femur.

Alright. Assuming you now have all four sides on, let’s shore this up with a few nails. Grab your hammer.
That’s a screwdriver.
That’s your leftover wood.
That’s your screwdriver again.
Here’s a picture of what we’re looking for:

While you’re playing Scavenger Hunt with your only clue, let me just tell you what is wrong with the carpentry/shop class field. No. You will listen. No one has a sense of perspective. One reckless endangerment charge and suddenly you’re out of the sweet Devry gig and caged with a half-dozen other parolees cranking out How-To’s in the Time/Life paper mill.

Back to the birdhouse. You’ll need to put the nail pointy-side down and hit the flat side with your hammer or screwdriver or wood glue bottle for all I care.

Oops! That’s going to be tender for awhile. Swing carefully, you’ve got those always-in-harm’s way thumbs all over the place.

Wow. That’s going to be tender-to-useless for a long time. Take your time and aim for the nail.

Nice. That’s going to need some medical attention. The surprising amount of blood is a dead giveaway. Hey, bright side: at least you had the nail pointing the right way so you won’t have to entertain the ER with your Jesus impression.

Man. Another ER trip. This takes me back. I remember one of my first supervisor positions in construction. A simple translation error led to a misunderstanding with the Mexican migrant workers, who responded alarmingly quickly by beating me severely and making several cement-related threats. I think it was pay-related. Or a lack of payment. Something along those lines that was taken badly after I insinuated that they take the issue up with the Border Patrol. That and they kept mispronouncing my first name as “Puto.”

How’s your hand? It looks bad. I’m not going to lie to you. That sucks. I don’t think that you’re going to be making a sudden jump from manual labor to white collar pro anytime soon.

Bingo. There's your birdhouse, benchwarmer.

Bingo. There's your birdhouse, benchwarmer.

You seriously want to go on with this? I mean, I’ll drive you to the goddamn mall myself. It’s like 10 minutes away. We’ll pick up a birdhouse and some bird seed. Maybe some lunch. You should eat. You look a little pale.

No. I can drive. You’re maimed. Hold your hand out the window when we hit the parking lot. Just wave it around and I think we can score some handicapped parking.

No. I can drive. Just because my license is suspended doesn’t mean that I forgot how to drive.

Why do want to keep going? What are you trying to prove? That you can keep me sober for 6 hours in a row? Who the hell do you think you are? My sponsor?

Besides, your neighbors will start bitching about “line of sight” violations and there will be birdshit everywhere. Blue jays fucking with squirrels at all hours. The Homeowner’s Association will have your ass. They bitch about everything. “18 feet is too high for a privacy fence.” “You can’t arrange your Christmas lights into the shape of a penis.”

Chapter 2: Sweet Jesus and Mary Chain! A Picture Frame??!! Why in Holy Fuck Would You Not Go Buy One??!! The Dollar Stores Even Carry Them, for the Love of Godsmack!

-CLT

h1

The Fancy Plans Guide to AFI’s Top 100 Films – Volume 4

June 22, 2010

The march toward the end of the list continues! (Hmm. That sounded way more exciting before I typed it out…) If you’re just joining us, please fill out the “Getting to Know Me!” card, which is found in the Comment section. We’ll introduce ourselves after we conclude Volume 4 in The Fancy Plans Guide to AFI’s Top 100 Films

See also:
Volume Three
Volume Two
Volume One 

Unfortunately, new fonts wouldn't be invented until 1942, forcing the producers to settle for "Hobo Circus."

21. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
Trifling road picture about a family’s ill-fated excursion to California, the land of dreams and cheap-ass labor. Hilarity ensues as Henry Fonda (playing against type as a well-rounded character) leads his family from misadventure to underpaying misadventure, including the inadvertent death of his grandfather, his grandmother’s dog and indeed, the grandmother herself. Directed by John Hughes, the whiter of the two Hughes brothers (directors of Menace II Society). 

SPOILER ALERT: Nothing in this film moves anywhere as fast as that shuttle drawing would indicate.

22. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick, 2001 uses then-cutting edge technology to prove the old adage that “In space, no one bothers to write much dialog.” 

The first half of the film is an impeccably shot space travelogue. The second half finds the protagonists dealing with a sentient on-board computer whose unwavering belief that the mission be completed is of greater importance that actually leaving anyone alive to complete it. The third half presents an extended hallucination suffered/enjoyed by the main character as he dies and is reincarnated as some sort of orbiting, metaphoric space fetus. 

Presumably this ending would have been better explained if Kubrick hadn’t blown the entire budget on construction of a full-size, fully-functioning space station and insisting that every scene be shot on location just outside of Jupiter. Exceedingly long. 

Always ahead of his time, Bogie shows off his double-gun action, beating John Woo to the punch by nearly 45 years.

23. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Influential film noir, shot in noir and blanc and starring America’s most noir-ish actor, Humphrey Bogart. Based on a Dashiell Hammett novel, The Maltese Falcon follows the story of several small-time crooks who aim to name the valuable titular bird and the one drunken private dick tasked with getting to it first. Packed with incredible performances, fast-paced dialogue and inadequate lighting. 

Little known fact: Hammett originated the phrase “grinned wolfishly,” a descriptor that Bogie tries tirelessly to emulate by “sucking on his teeth,” which also originates with Hammett. Both phrases have been subsequently beaten to death by many authors since, most notably Clive Cussler and his nearly-sentient offspring, Dirk Cussler

"Insiders noted that De Niro looked 'puffy' and 'hand-shaded...'"

24. Raging Bull (1980)
Scorsese’s 1980’s masterpiece (which doesn’t look a day over 1950, thanks to a film mixup during development) follows the epic storyline of legendary boxer Bobby (Robert) De Niro (La Motta) whose brutal fighting style and even brutaller lifestyle saw him climb the heavyweight hierarchy while simultaneously hitting rock bottom (and his significant others). 

Remade four years earlier as Rocky, which featured a more populist slant, one that culminated with Rocky 4 in which Rocky beats up the Soviet Union. 

Eliott shows up the "magic" of static electricty to his new, and suddenly very scared, friend.

25. E.T. (1982)
Spielberg returns to space (or rather, space returns to earth) five years after his groundbreaking UFO flick Close Encounters of the Third Kind gave us all a much-needed sense of wonder, as well as something to do while playing with our food. 

E.T. follows the story of The Man Who Fell to Earth, except that the “man” is actually a diminutive alien with the voice of a 75-year-old chainsmoker rather than a wispy ambisexual singer. Much like most tourists, E.T. soon expresses a desire to return home, which he soon [SPOILER ALERT] does, but not before touching the lives of the kindly Tanner family via Reese’s Pieces product placement and various small miracles like levitating bicycles and turning guns into walkie-talkies. Goddard routinely cites this film as an influence. 

The military demonstrates the power of its repurposed "Release the Hounds" button.

26. Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
Kubrick again, this time taking a darkly serious script and turning it into an inadvertently funny film, thanks to his heavy-handed use of black and white film and a major miscasting of Peter Sellers as four different characters. 

A note to young filmmakers: when dealing with something as portentous as the end of the world, you are probably better off utilizing a style similar to Airport ’77 or anything Roland Emmerich (Independence Day) has directed. 

Notable for its Nazi scientist, frank discussions of bodily fluids and stock footage of A-bomb detonations. 

Beatty models his proto-Dick Tracy look while Dunaway laughs drunkenly.

27. Bonnie & Clyde (1967)
Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway set the gold standard for anti-heroes with this biopic. Still as visceral as it was back in the late ’60s, Bonnie and Clyde jumpstarted Beatty’s career, serving notice to Hollywood that this young actor would attempt to bang his female co-stars for years to come. 

Bonnie and Clyde also jumpstarted a new wave of moral panic for its portrayal of criminals as human beings, albeit highly romanticized human beings. The ensuing controversy briefly resurrected the Hays Code, which stipulated that the criminal character(s) must meet a “violent death shot at no less than 72 frames-per-second.” 

Starring Billy Zane as Billy Corgan! Featuring the disembodied head of Gregory Peck!

28. Apocalypse Now (1979)
The war flick to end all war flicks (mainly due to actor attrition and Coppola’s blowing of an entire decade’s worth of film budget), Apocalypse Now follows the story of a soldier tasked with hunting down and destroying Marlon Brando’s massive, bloated ego. As notable for its filming as it is for its epic deconstruction of the Vietnam War, it has nonetheless gained a loyal following that often finds it has four-hour chunks of time just lying around. 

A cultural phenomenon, Apocalypse Now revived “Ride of the Valkyries,” surfing while being shot at, overly-expositional narration and sent a generation of young readers straight into the open, boring arms of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Redefined “War Movie” and ‘Exceedingly long.” 

Alt. title: "Mr. Smith's House of Wax Busts."

29. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
A Will Smith vehicle so utterly banal that it doesn’t even bother with giving his character a new surname (or even a first name) with which to justify his $20 million payday for “acting services rendered.” 

Features the extremely unlikely story of a black man being elected to public office, Mr. Smith exists mainly to showcase Capra’s mawkish “everyman” daydreams and unnatural affinity for black and white photography. Written by Babaloo Mandel. 

Bogie is the last to succumb to argyria, thanks to a lower amount of "silver lust."

30. Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
Humphrey Bogart stars in this harrowing tale of gold and the damage done. Boldly showing the lengths that man will go to “strike it rich,” The Treasure of the Sierra Madre unflinchingly takes on man’s capacity for evil and the Mexicans lack of badges (and indeed, their inability to comprehend why anyone would need any badges). 

Hailed by uber-critic Rex Reed as a “paranoiac’s wet dream,” who goes on to say “Don’t touch my stuff.” Followed by a much-belated sequel National Treasure of the Sierra Madre 2

-CLT

h1

Heavy Rotation 49

June 20, 2010

For your reading pleasure this week (all links open in a new window – all mp3s can be downloaded by right-clicking on the song title):

A Kalvacade of Kinkade news! Drunk driving, lawsuits, character assasinations… it’s all here!

http://blogs.sacbee.com/crime/archives/2010/06/painter-thomas.html 
(check out the comment section for more fun…)

http://www.thebaffler.com/viewArticle/122
(On the “Placerville” biopic – specifically how fake it is. Plus, why do Kinkade’s houses always look like they’re burning down from the inside?)

http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2008/11/thomas-kincades-16-guidelines-for-making-stuff-suck.html
(How Thomas Kinkade imagines he creates art. Step by tedious cliched step.)

Earlier versions, now 90% Kinkade-free!:
The Heavy Rotation Archives

Incubator – Cigarettes.mp3
If you were here for last week’s Heavy Rotation, we led off with a Jesus and Mary Chain-styled piece of fuzzy bliss by Rraaiillss, a.ka. Adam Anderson. Well, as it turns out, not only is he extraordinarily talented but he’s a hell of a nice guy as well, as I received an email from him thanking me for featuring his music.

After emailing back and forth a bit, he pointed me in the direction of another of his projects, Incubator. Say goodbye to the waves of carefully crafted feedback and say hello to something that sold its guitars to buy keyboards.

Feast your ears on this: a gorgeous slice of synth-y loveliness called Cigarettes, which conjures up all the best parts of Joy Division/early New Order filtered through the best stuff m83 and Ulrich Schnauss have to offer. Completely catches the feeling of that catch in your heart when you wake up next to someone you fully expected to be gone, especially the way that burst of unfiltered emotional sunlight revives a flagging psyche.

Foster the People – Pumped Up Kicks.mp3
Now that your heart is racing unsteadily, let’s jump into a slice of bouncy heaven, albeit one that makes you laugh inappropriately. Foster the People would (very charmingly) like to inform you that they plan on killing you for your kick-ass (and very expensive) trainers.

As the chorus swells, you’ll be forced to sing along, alarming unsuspecting passersby with your murderous intentions and blithesome (thx Ulysses) harmonizing:

All the other kids with their pumped up kicks
Better run better run
Outrun my gun

And then, no fucking shit, they start whistling. It’s altogether too much. You can try and fight it but they’re still going to charm the shoes right off your bullet-riddled corpse. (Show of hands: who else felt the urge to do the Swim by eight beats in or so? Be honest.)

Parties in Belgrade – Statues.mp3
Still sticking with bouncy, it’s Parties in Belgrade, a band that usually runs a little darker, but in this instance channel all the feelgood parts of the Happy Mondays, with lead singer Carlos Anthony sounding more like Shaun Ryder than Ryder does these days.

And away they go, rambling on about erecting facetious pedestals, using words more for their flow than for deeper meaning. The slightly-tuffer-than-Happy guitars start duelling, one conjuring Hawaii and the other Pere Ubu.

Have no idea what the fook I’m on about?*

*[See next track for exactly what the fook I’m on about.]

Happy Mondays – Tokoloshe Man.mp3
A prime cut from the heyday of these baggy Madchester dance-rock merchants. One of two songs stolen from John Kongos (the other is Step On). When they could be troubled to put the smack down long enough to record, they cranked out some of the best twisted pop out there. Lead singer Shaun Ryder would then stamp his unmistakable vocals on the track, freely associating, swearing and stealing bits of others’ songs, turning each Monday’s song into a catchy, shambling wreck that charmed you with its rough-edged cheerfulness even as it shook you down for drug money.

This song is an undeniably pleasant way of dealing with a creature from the collective nightmares of South Africa, a hairy beast that is part “zombie, poltergeist and gremlin,” capable of crossing cultural boundaries just to kill:

It makes no difference if you are yellow or you’re red
When the bad man says
Tonight is the night when you are dead

Plus, it has some well-deployed organ.

Twisted Wires – Oh Hell.mp3
To wrap things up, we’re going dark with the perfect track to send you out into the word, all covered in sunglasses and feisty antagonism. Friends of Adam Anderson/Rraaiillss/Incubator, Twisted Wires conjures up ghosts both chronic and recent* including Sex Gang Children, the Swans, Chrome, Fields of the Nephilim, Holy Fuck, Bauhaus and maybe even a little Coil.

*[Name that reference!]

Dark dark dark. Minor chords pinned down by bass-heavy drones and near-tribal drumming. The perfect antidote to all the smiling faces currently exiting/entering various places of worship.

[Need a track taken down? Care to point out my numerous spelling errors and faulty references? Just need me to wire “some amount” of USD to a Nigerian FedEx? Contact me at: 2timegrime@gmail.com.]

-CLT

h1

The Fancy Plans Guide to the World’s Greatest Restaurants

June 15, 2010

In our ongoing attempt to be all things to all people (like an ambidextrous hermaphrodite who moonlights as a notary public), we are thrilled beyond single-syllable words to present to you the latest in an apparently never-ending series of series: The Guide to the World’s Greatest Restaurants.

With this quick-start guide safely read and stowed away in the part of your memory that used to hold pertinent information, it won’t matter whether you’re a true “foodie” or just someone who ends up ordering “vanilla” when faced with the rigorous menu at Baskin-Robbins. Soon you’ll be able to force your way into conversations at cocktail parties and bore complete strangers with endless details, factoids and homemade felt infographics.

Under Ferran Adria's watchful eye, the chefs prepare the lunchtime "Pizza Buffett."

El Bulli (Roses, Catalonia, Spain)
While potential diners may land at any major airport in Spain, the final approach to Roses must be made by hang glider or hot air balloon so as not to spook Chef Ferran Adria’s homegrown livestock and produce.

Once inside this small town, those with reservations are escorted (by armed guards) via a serpentine path to El Bulli itself. The hoods are to remain on at all times in order to preserve El Bulli’s secret location. The armed escort serves two purposes: to keep wayward tourists on the right path and to fend off jealous locals who are always kicked to the bottom of the reservation list.

Once inside El Bulli, the atmosphere relaxes as diners enjoy some of the finest food in the world. This reverie is only interrupted by some gentle gun barrel prods and the occasional warning shot as the guards remind patrons of the 90-minute time limit and that tipping should exceed 20%.

Kids under 10 eat free!

Ramsay spots something he doesn't like in a random urine test.

Gordon Ramsay at the London (New York)
Diners at this two-Michelin-star restaurant are invited to mercilessly criticize both the food and the staff, thus allowing Chef Ramsay and his omnipresent camera crew to correct these minor issues through a combination of f-bombs and verbal abuse.

If your complaint is petty enough, you may be included in an upcoming episode of Gordon Ramsay’s Shouty Thing. Those new to the Ramsay experience should use the following list of sample complaints to “brush up” on their sense of entitlement:

  • “Rare” steak edging towards “Medium Rare” (or vice versa)
  • Signature dish only “mildly” transcendent
  • Presentation could use more “dots” and “swirlies”
  • Several misspellings on the shooting release form
  • Entrée not salty enough
  • Waiter failed to mention his unsold script
  • Needs more “hell’
  • Dish failed to utilize all available forks
  • Dressing down of staff seemed forced
  • I don’t know where your “bartender” got his or her degree in mixology, but… (trail off derisively)

Fish Fry Thursday Night – $8!

Iron Chef Chen expertly dices the Velveeta.

Kitchen Stadium (Japan)
Chairman Kaga’s Kitchen Stadium does not take reservations, so it is recommended you show up at least 8 hours prior to your possible “dining experience.” Keep in mind that only 3-6 individuals will be chosen as judges and allowed to eat, while the rest will be relegated to the position of “jealously famished onlooker.”

However, being a judge is such an amazing experience that your weeks or months of going hungry will pale in comparison. As you are entertained by Kaga’s off-color tales of sexual conquest and pepper biting, two world-class chefs (or Bobby Flay) will be running their collective hindquarters off in a hectic, sweaty attempt to curry favor with the judges, often with some form of curry.

Once the dishes are prepared, you’ll be given the opportunity to praise or pan each entry with a selection of non sequiturs, malapropisms and one-liners that refuse to cross cultures.

[Note: Be sure to visit the Japanese Kitchen Stadium as the American version has about as much charm and dignity as your local Denny’s, albeit one that traffics in sea bass sashimi and squid ink ice cream.]

当社のブランドをチェックアウト、新しいストロベリー-キウィ-ライムスムージー!

A splendid shot of one of the French Laundry's signature dishes, "Rabid Broccoli."

The French Laundry (Yountville, California)
A misnomer in more ways than one, The French Laundry is Thomas Keller’s bold attempt to turn the world on its stomach through his fearless and endless reinvention of the wheel, gastronomically-speaking. One never knows what to expect when dining at The French Laundry, as the multi-course meals will either come across as a subtle seduction of your palate or a punch right in your uneducated mouth, depending on Keller’s level of playful antagonism. Once thing is for sure: he will not make your whites whiter. (Also: no ticket, no laundry.)

Highly recommended by top chefs worldwide (but not any actual Top Chefs), and if you can’t trust someone who only cooks in front of a camera crew when not signing books or fielding questions at press junkets, who can you trust?

Add Curly Fries to any meal – 99c!

-CLT

h1

Heavy Rotation 48

June 13, 2010

No theme this week, which should equal fewer words and more time for you to surf around the net while enjoying the finest in music via the Heavy Rotation.

[Another brief note: all tracks featured in the Heavy Rotation can be downloaded by right-clicking on the song title and choosing “Save As…” Just throwing that out there in case anyone was wondering.]

Browse here (all links will open in a new window, per Scott’s instructions):

http://www.hammacher.com/Product/78609?promo=Home&catid=0  (via Dubious Quality)

http://thinkstank.tumblr.com/post/664617570/nine-inch-niles-the-seattleward-spiral  (and he’s got a million more great ideas… check out the whole Thinkstank site)

http://shitmykidsruined.tumblr.com/ 

Previous volumes here, mostly sans links:
The Heavy Rotation Archives

Rraaiillss – SPF85.mp3
First there was the Jesus and Mary Chain. And they were awesome. And as most bands do, they started strong and faded but were divisive enough to be considered influential, what with all their feedback and darkened outlook. But for a long time, bands called them an influence but gave no musical reason for us to believe them.

Suddenly, twenty + years after their feedback-drenched debut, bands all over the place are sound like JAMC meant more to them than just something to say to music journos. A Place to Bury Strangers, the Young Boys, Nikoo, etc. And now, the cat-on-the-keyboard-named Rraaiills.

However, Rraaiillss follows the less noisy path, with one-man band Adam Anderson staking a claim somewhere in the middle of Darklands, the milder sophomore album by the Scottish noise boys. It’s all understated distortion, hummable melodies and a bleak-as-the-great-Scottish-outdoors outlook. (You can pick up his entire 4-track ep for FREE here: http://rraaiillss.bandcamp.com/ )

The Jesus and Mary Chain – Nine Million Rainy Days.mp3
This one is for comparison. From the second album by the Jesus and Mary Chain, in which they mostly turned their back on walls of feedback, but didn’t quite do an entire 180 and start looking their audience in the eye. An atmospheric broken hymn to a collapsing relationship and the attendant exposed nerve endings of obsession.

Liars – Cycle Time.mp3
Unfolds like a bar fight. The first half is the buildup, instigated by the wrong thing said or the stare that goes on a beat too long. The chips fall off the shoulders at 1:06, leading to a chorus that hits like a swung bottle. It’s over as quickly as it starts, leaving behind nothing but bruises, blood and the echo of footsteps escaping the scene before the cops show up. Check out more from the Liars here: http://www.myspace.com/liarsliarsliars

 

autoKratz – Kick (BANKSY Mix).mp3
Banging away at your psyche with brooding efficiency, autoKratz’ dark tech/prog house banger (like they made in the good old days) features some icy, industrial-esque vocal distortion and an assortment of haunting electronic hums and ping-ponging scary noises.

The 4/4 thump and bass thrum move the track along with enough singlemindedness to get asses on the floor, where it proceeds to scare the bejeezus out of anyone chemically-addled enough to get too close to the bassbins. A lot like Front Line Assembly’s best work.

Chemical Brothers – K+D+B.mp3
Los Hermanos Chemical are back! Thank god. And I don’t just mean they’ve released a new album. No, they’ve done plenty of that recently with middling effectiveness and an annoying reliance on guest stars to aid in their quest to abandon their fanbase and acquire the kind of listeners who have shown a distinct tendency to pick Lady Gaga or whatnot instead.

No. Not just another album.

They. Are. Back.

Further is easily their best album since 1999’s Surrender, which is fitting because this album sounds a whole lot like that one. And I couldn’t be happier. It’s melodic. It’s thumping. It’s the underground we all wanted to be a part of. It’s the 4am set that turns to bliss as the sun rises over 20,000 dancers in a field, celebrating a primal togetherness that can only be explained by hamfisted writing and botched metaphors.

K+D+B is all that in one 5-1/2 minute track. Starting with some drums right out of Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk, the ChemBros kick up the pace, relying on not much else but the syncopated beats. Around a minute in, the keyboards and samples kick in, bringing the track into the daylight and warming everything around it. 1:43: something that could be called an electro-bagpipe kicks in. A buzzing burst of treble noise, but calling it “noise” does it a disservice. It adds rather than distracts.

Builds and builds and builds and why the fuck not? The sampled singing keeps telling us “higher.” I’m only making things worse by attempting to express the pure euphoria and enchantment that two guys with a room full of switches are capable of evoking. Just listen.

-CLT

[Want a track removed? Think I used the words “electro” or “fuck” too much? Just say so (but nicely): 2timegrime@gmail.com.]