Posts Tagged ‘Humor’

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Fancy Plans… Guide to Rock and Roll (More Requests & Old Favorites)

August 16, 2010
[Another from the Way Back Machine. Originally appeared 05/23/09.]

Another edition of the Fancy Plans… Guide to World Domination thru Misinformation (finally!). Feast your eyes on these delicious chunks of san-serif text and badly-captioned photos.

The Fancy Plans... Guide to Fighting Tin Lizzy

The Fancy Plans... Guide to Fighting Thin Lizzy

Thin Lizzy
Formed in 1967 in Dublin, Ireland and still regarded to this day as “the only band to have come out of Ireland,” Thin Lizzy featured two former members of Them, whose lead singer was a young Jim “Van” Morrison. Morrison’s penchant for impromptu poetry slams and malfunctioning trousers frequently found the band at the receiving end of police brutality.

The epitome of 70’s rock, Thin Lizzy released their biggest hit, The Boys Are Back in Townduring the pinnacle of rock’s power (allmusic.com pinpoints this as ca. 1974-1978). Thin Lizzy’s “definitive” sound and “unique” lyrics allowed them to sound more like everyone else than anyone else.  Among the songs that could quite possibly be theirs:

  • You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet
  • Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room
  • Hair of the Dog
  • American Band
  • Slow Ride
  • Roll On Down the Highway
  • Lost Inside Your Love
  • Rock & Roll Hootchie-Koo
  • Life’s Been Good to Me
  • Teenage Kicks
According to Brownsville Station's concert rider, they were to be accompanied by a minstrel at all times.

According to Brownsville Station's concert rider, they were to be accompanied by a minstrel at all times.

Brownsville Station
Formed in Michigan in 1970, Brownsville Station scored a minor hit with their cover of Thin Lizzy’s Smokin’ in the Boys Room. True success came later with 1977’s Martian Boogie, an influential space-rock track that post-dated the scene by nearly 10 years. Championed tirelessly by British tastemaker, Dr. John Demento, Brownsville Station recorded four classic Demento Sessions.

Christian Death's first lineup featuring Anthony Soprano Jr.

Christian Death's first lineup featuring Anthony Soprano Jr.

Christian Death
Formed in L.A. in 1979, Christian Death combined two staples of the goth rock scene (hatin’ on Christians; acrimonious splits) into a swaggering proto-deathrock nightmare. A nightmare for band members.

Original lead singer Rozz Williams left the group and former guitarist Valor promoted himself to lead-singer-for-life. Rozz tried to retain sole ownership of the Christian Death name but, as they were hardly a real band and not anywhere close to being on a real label, he was unable to do so. Various band members came and left and by 1983, there were no fewer than 16 Christian Death configurations touring, often opening for each other all around the Midwest.

Rozz Williams detached himself fully from the convoluted mess and devoted his time to his various sideprojects, including: Premature Ejaculation, Erectile Dysfunction, Inability to Achieve Orgasm, Female Pattern Dryness and Pee-shy.

Just really not that current at all.

Just really not that current at all.

Current 93
Death folksters whose name, much like Prince’s 1999, means less with each passing year.

house_of_pain811

Everlast models the primary form of Irish communication.

House of Pain
There’s nothing about this group of white rappers that hasn’t been better said by me already.

Chuck E. Cheese engineers prepare to scare the bejeezus out of your kids.

Chuck E. Cheese engineers prepare to scare the bejeezus out of your kids.

Kraftwerk
A joint effort of Disney Imagineers and the Ford Motor Co., as a tribute to all things German and nationalistic. Kraftwerk are fully-functioning animatronic showroom dummies and their icy synths and metronomic beats have captured the fascination of children worldwide, including Georgio Moroder and Afrika Bambaata. Now on permanent display at EuroDisney, they entertain dozens of people yearly with their hits Trans-Europe Blitzkrieg, Tour de France and Whalers on the Moon.

Previously on the Fancy Pants… Guide to Rock & Roll
Vol. 1
Vol. 2 (Requests)

-CLT

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The Fancy Plans Guide to AFI’s Top 100 Films – Volume 5

July 22, 2010

Remember this old thing? 

If you don’t, get un-rusty here:
Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3
Volume 4 

Diane Keaton was informed that this would be her "career" wardrobe and was to be worn in every film thereafter.

31. Annie Hall (1977)
Local hero Woody Allen makes good, abandoning his earlier wackiness in favor of subtle comedy, a style more likely to pair him with women out of his league. In this case, his comedic foil and unbelievable girlfriend is played by Diane Keaton, who continues to acquit herself well in lightweight comedies, all the while looking like she hasn’t aged a day since Annie Hall, in which she looked to be about 50. 

One of many Oscar-winning films directed by Allen, who has yet to actually pick up a single statuette as he is otherwise occupied every single Tuesday (in perpetuity) playing his clarinet (in a not pretentious at all sort of way) in some boho New York club. This shows that he is a real artist who creates out of love for the medium, rather than for the acclaim and access to women he wouldn’t otherwise be dating. 

(Note: in his latter years, Allen leapt from women he “wouldn’t” be dating to women he “shouldn’t” be dating. Although there was some fallout from this unfortunate turn of events, he still continues to faithfully blow his own horn every Tuesday night for the rest of whatever.) 

Trey Stone and Matt Parker often cite Coppola's use of "angry marionettes" as an influence.

32. The Godfather Part II (1974) 
Easily twice the film the first one was, but somehow well more than twice as far down the list. The only explanation for the 29-spot difference is the notable lack of noted AFI pre-req Marlon Brando.

Followed by a prequel (1972) and a sequel (1990). The standard against which all other gangster flicks are judged, including The Godfather Part III, which by comparison is Uwe Boll’s cutting room floor. 

Just another "stoner" classic.

33. High Noon (1952) 
Laconic and square-jawed Gary Cooper plays a put-upon marshal faced with the task of taking on a gang of local baddies. To make matters worse, he is forced to drum up support for a this suicide mission in real-time, without the aid of useful montages or fades. 

Finding the townspeople reluctant to serve as bullet-catchers, Cooper laconically decides to face them on his own, aided only by his square jaw and some guns. The tension becomes nearly unbearable as the projectionist has problems switching reels, delaying the solid black and white action for nearly two “real-time” minutes, giving Cooper’s character 120 seconds of darkness with which to escape town and star in a livelier picture. 

Take it from someone who's lived around them: mockingbirds kick in around 10 pm at night and never shut the fuck up. So, I view this title as a suggestion or a list of imaginary instructions.

34. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) 
Based on Harper Lee’s bestselling book, To Kill a Mockingbird is a treatise on racism thinly disguised as a courtroom drama. Gregory Peck plays attorney Atticus Finch, who uncovers the town’s unsightly attitude and generally plays himself, only nobler. 

A young Robert Duvall plays local introvert Boo Radley, who finally blossoms into a 4-piece Britpop group thanks to the ceaseless intrusion of Finch’s children. Has done more to improve race relations in this country than any film since Roger Corman’s groundbreaking action flick, Malcom X-Men: Last Stand

Gable's moustache secretly envied Colbert's amazing eyebrow length.

35. It Happened One Night (1934) 
As the Great Depression wore on, filmmakers (in conjunction with “New Deal” legislation) sought to distract viewers from the epic grimness of their lives, utilizing a series of “screwball” comedies. This film, along with other classics of the genre (Bringing Up Baby [#97], Meatballs Pt. 2 [#51]) delighted moviegoers nationwide while relieving them of their last few nickels. 

Remade several times, the most recent being Abel Ferrara’s nun-killing reimagination, Bad Night and David Mamet’s tense but stagey drama, It Happened One Fucking Night.

Thanks to a contractual dispute, Hoffman and Voight were forced to appear under each other's names.

36. Midnight Cowboy (1969) 
Much has been made of Midnight Cowboy’s status as the only X-rated film to win an Oscar. Tame by today’s standards, the most offensive element of this film is its crass portrayal of New York City as a cruel, heartless metropolis populated by rude, self-centered citizens. 

Much has also been made of Dustin Hoffman’s “method” portrayal of Ratso Rizzo, in particular his ad-libbed “Hey! I’m walking here!” Widely considered to be one of several small touches that “made” the role, the larger-than-life legend overshadows the fact that this heavily quoted line is actually a studio overdub, done in post-production. Hoffman’s original ad lib was, in fact, “Hey! I’m acting here!” 

Of course, Jon Voight’s baby face and intensely blonde looks aided Hoffman in their own way, as the contrast between the two leads gave credence to the idea that Rizzo/Hoffman was as ugly on the inside as he was on the outside. 

Thanks to the advent of upskirt photography, the ensuing years were pretty great indeed.

37. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) 
Nostalgia-thon in the mold of The Big Chill and Dazed and Confused, The Best Years of Our Lives follows the wistful reminiscing of its protagonists as they wax semi-poetic about their younger days, when they were big fish in an easily impressed small pond. 

Powerful performances aid the viewer in living vicariously through these human time capsules. Thrill along as they still listen to the same music, sport the same hairdos and drag out the same bitchin’ Camaro periodically. Superbly cautionary and infinitely sad. 

Yeah, bro. We’ll keep using “rad” if you want us to. 

[Ed. – Wow. Just wow. Not only have you clearly never seen the flick, but this is like a the review of Smells Like Teen Spirit that no one was asking for.] 

Because nothing says "brutally spare noir" like a pink-as-fuck poster.

38. Double Indemnity (1946) 
The harrowing tale of actuarial tables and the damage done, Double Indemnity is a spare noir masterpiece filled with hard-boiled women and easily duped men. Shot in black and white for maximum impact and film availability, Billy Wilder’s film takes viewers on a twist-filled ride through the greed damaged psyches of a claims adjuster and the two protagonists who wish to “game” the “system” through a reckless combination of murder and quotation marks. 

Hailed as “not even the best film of 1946.” 

The Russians are fond of their bristly makeout sessions. They also dig tiny horsemen emerging from somewhere around their shoulders...

39. Dr. Zhivago (1965) 
As is the case with most long-winded epics, this classic film is dense, Russian and exceedingly long. Packed wall-to-wall with pathos, snow and moustaches, Dr. Zhivago is easily the 39th best film on this list. Exceedingly long. 

Unfortunately, Grant is no match for the spray attachment and soon finds himself hurtling through a series of rectangles.

40. North by Northwest (1959) 
The second of over 50 Hitchcock films on this list, North by Northwest is an unparalleled thriller dealing with a case of mistaken identity. Everyman stand-in (as if) Cary Grant plays Richard Thornhill, an ad executive mistaken for another devastatingly attractive clotheshorse who has apparently found time in his busy schedule of being adored and aging immaculately to attempt to smuggle some state secrets out of the country. 

The film follows Grant’s handsome escape from his comparatively unattractive pursuers, which takes him everywhere from the Heart of America (an airplane-ravaged cornfield) to the Nose and Upper Lip of America (Mt. Rushmore). Contains approximately one (1) thrill per minute (TPM). 

-CLT

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The Fancy Plans Guide to Music Genres: Volume 3

July 15, 2010

After a bit of a delay, the final (?) installment of the Fancy Plans Guide to Music Genres has arrived. You’ll notice I threw a question mark in after “final” in an attempt to create some sort of cliffhanger-type moment. We can never really be sure that a one-off series won’t rear its malformed head again, while other ongoing series gather dust on the back burner, filling the blog with dusty and most likely poisonous fumes.

If you’re just joining us, be sure and check out Volume One and Volume Two, wherein other music genres such as goth, world music and post-punk were ridiculed mercilessly for simply existing.

But enough “fucking about” as they say in the Old Country. Here’s our final installment (or is it?) [Ed. – Two volumes would seem to have been plenty…] of the Fancy Plans Guide to Music Genres.

Another IDM live set; another "packed" house.

IDM
Stands for “Intelligent Dance Music,” but has about as much to do with “dance music” as physics lectures have to do with “fun.” Crafted with the same electronics as good old dance music, but with an interest in motivating heads rather than feet, IDM is the eternally bored hipster of electronica, sneering contemptuously at those who enjoy music and its accompanying physical expression.

As tiresome as the DJs who spin it, IDM should really just stop pretending it was ever about the “D” and go out as “IM,” which will link it with something equally tiresome and annoying: AOL. It makes you wonder what sort of “intelligence” is required to jam a bunch of unlistenable electro-wanking into a pair of ill-fitting dance pants and trot it out for others’ approval, which had better fucking not include dancing.

Fans: The roster at Warp Records. People who like to feel “superior.” Masochists. That one guy at every rave that annoys everyone with his pompous “mellow harshing.” Satan.

Rap metal stock photo. Filed under "Every Rap Metal Band Photo Ever."

Rap Metal
A reprehensible form of music so far behind the curve that it couldn’t even crack the airwaves until years after the success of Faith No More’s Epic made the form prematurely passé and even more years past the point that the Red Hot Chili Peppers had released anything worth listening to.

Rap Metal (or “Nu Metal”) ushered in a reprehensible form of “New Laddism” (or “Nu Laddism”) in which the combination of rap and metal encouraged suburban white males to double up on their misogyny and indulge their vacuous angst. This led directly to “Nu Rock,” a reprehensible blend of blaring tunelessness, monotonous abuse of the loud/quiet/loud dynamic and DJs as extraneous band members carrying “insta-street cred” cards in their oversized novelty pants.

Note to budding “nu rockers”: You really shouldn’t be so eager to show the world how much you suck in two genres simultaneously. 0 + 0 still equals zero, no matter how much Mom didn’t hug you.

Note to Jonathan Davis and Chester “Chet” Bennington: the glasses fool no one.

Fans: White thugs. “Disaffected” suburban youth who need some “inspiration” to help them power through their struggle-free existences. People who still wear their fitted ballcaps in the “reverse cowgirl” position. Purchasers of Rohypnol and the women who inadvertently love them. Tattooists. There’s no way Satan’s not getting in on this.

Another bitchass mannequin wears its heart on its chest...

Folk
A rustic brand of music made by any person who can shell out $15 for a used acoustic guitar and a harmonica and spent most of their adolescence being “misunderstood” and “beat up.” Generally played using unadorned (or “unplugged”) instruments of bygone eras, including (but good lord, certainly not limited to) acoustic guitars, banjos, fiddles, ukuleles, klezmers, harmonicas, mouth harps, moonshine jugs, regular (or “hand”) harps, accordions, mandolins, colanders, washboards, heliotropes, muzzle loaders and cotton gins.

Most folk artists (and their fans) believe their use of outdated instruments to cover Woody Guthrie for the millionth time creates a purer and more honest form of music. This misplaced nostalgia is usually amplified (unelectronically, of course) by their years on the County Fair circuit, leading them to the mistaken belief that outdoor plumbing is superior indoor plumbing and that life would be better if we could all return to a simpler time. Like when women and blacks weren’t allowed to vote or own property.

Fans: Hippies. Luddites. The Amish, most likely. Sheet music salesmen. People who believe public domain = purity. Ruddy-cheeked, guitar-toting assholes who troll for trim on hiking trails and public campgrounds. Beelzebub.

Hair styling by Maxine's Cosmetology College and Technical School's early spring term students.

Industrial
Not so much music as it is a bunch of knob-twiddling basement dwellers with unfortunate hairdos. Its earliest form was usually nothing more than field recordings of telephone lines, smokestacks and ambulance drivers. Then Einsturzende Neubauten showed up and beat the hell out of everything with everything else for upwards of ninety minutes at a time.

Sadly, no one much wanted to trot around the junkyard gathering improvised instruments and tetanus (except for Test Dept.), so budding young industrialists were forced to ape Throbbing Gristle’s throbbing electronica ad infinitum, adding little more than updated wiring and occasional fire code violations.

Suddenly, a force rose out of Chicago, shedding its pale skin and faux accent and gathering every motherfucking guitar in the metropolitan area. Al Jourgensen brought a speed metal sensibility to scene long dominated by sheet metal and field recordings and industrial mutated again, becoming, well, speed metal except with a sequencer or two.

This continued for far longer than it should have, sending budding young industrialists into the waiting arms of coldwave, darkwave and other wave-related genres.

Fans: Masochists. Canadians. Crossover metalheads. Crossover goths. Germans. People who enjoy a good knob twiddling. Ambulance drivers. People who think NIN are industrial. Goths who find the subject matter and usage of black clothing comforting and familiar. Satan is not a fan, although most industrial bands continue to believe he is.

Math rock trios prefer to arrange themselves in isoceles triangles.

Math Rock
An oddity composed of frustrated metalheads who wish they would be taken as seriously as jazz musicians and frustrated jazz musicians who find themselves in a quasi-metal band thanks to badly worded “drummer wanted” ads. Thanks to these frustrated but complementary components, more time is spent crafting intricate time signatures than actually rocking, leaving most would-be crossover fans nonplussed. (Yep. That is one incredibly lazy “math” joke.)

Fans: People who need a slide rule to quantify their enjoyment of music. Metalheads with sizable jazz collections. Chess club kids who wonder why the chicks always dig “regular” metalheads. Engineering students who make “music genre/influence” flowcharts for fun. That guy who always reminded the teacher to assign homework.

-CLT

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The Fancy Plans Guide to Music Genres: Part Two

July 9, 2010

In our previous guide we discovered, through the magic of the internet and several broad stereotypes, what various musical genres encompassed. Today it’s more of the same, only with different genre names and stereotypes. The elderly may or may not be abusing Bradypus variegatus. We’ll just have to wait and see. Mainly wait.

So, while the inevitable crawls slowly into view, let’s take a quick, informative look at a few other music genres and their corresponding fans.

It does. Like a motherfucker.

World Music
Any music not produced in the US, Canada or Western Europe, or by Caucasians in general. (For example: Krautrock – not World Music; Drunken gypsy chants – World Music.)

Despite its origins, World Music is mainly sold to white people (Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, David Byrne) who then co-opt and repackage their watered-down version and sell it to other white people (Vampire Weekend).

Black Americans may recognize this modus operandi as being nearly identical to the repackaging of black rock and roll into friendly, white packages (Pat Boone, Elvis Presley, Fred Durst). The only difference at this point is that the new white purveyors are viewed as “enlightened” rather than as “thieving pricks.”

Fans: White people. White people who think they’re smarter than other white people. White people who think they’re smarter than all other people, regardless of race, which they don’t even think of the world in terms of, because that’s how damn “enlightened” they are. DJs/producers in search of royalty-free samples.

And my vinyl tits run...

Drum n Bass
A perverse offshoot of both hip hop and breakbeats in which the bassline and the drums are programmed by separate producers who are not allowed to contact each other at any time. This results in tracks consisting of a bowel-loosening bassline over which a drumbeat skitters along like cockroaches running from a light source.

Often accompanied live by an MC, or “toaster,” whose impromptu rhyming tends to flow along a melody only he can hear and consists mainly of invitations to dance more or show more enthusiasm, but in a broad Caribbean accent. Inexplicably popular.

Fans: People who have grown tired of “danceable” dance music. Drum n Bass producers/DJs. Radiation-proof insects. Reggae lovers with sizable speed habits.

The scene is nothing without the love. Or the reusable shopping bags.

Drill n Bass
Like Drum n Bass, only utilizing a drum programmer with no previous experience or mechanical aptitude. The bowel-loosening sub-bass remains, but the drumbeats now skitter along like roaches running out of a lit meth foiler.

Fans: People who think drum n bass is too “hummable.” Richard D. James fans. Richard D. James. Hardcore techno fans who are tired of keeping score.

Because it's just not a goth wedding without someone in a Hefty Cinch Sack.

Goth
One of the most maligned music genres, Goth was conceived during a wild three-way involving punk, art school and eyeliner. Blacker than punk but lighter than black metal, Goth gave misunderstood teens the world over a whole new way to be misunderstood.

Taking Henry Ford’s mantra of “any color as long as it’s black” to their bleeding hearts, Goths let their (black) freak flags fly, drawing the intense mockery of music critics, peers, teachers and parents. This of course makes the whole genre that much more “real,” despite it being 90% heavily-madeup artifice.

Fans: Misunderstood teens. Emo fans who don’t really understand genre boundaries. Mislabeled emo fans. Eyeliner manufacturers. People looking to shock the easily shocked. Anne Rice fans. People who greatly overestimate black’s “slimming” power. Cleopatra Record execs.

While Nordic Youth #1 struggles with righting his cross, Youth #2 decides to pick another church made from a more flammable material. Like childrens' sleepwear.

Black Metal
Black metal is a “darker than thou” form of metal, usually found in wintry Nordic countries with centuries of organized religion under their belts. It can often be a very demanding genre, in which you really haven’t “made it” as a band until you’ve had to disband the group, thanks to a majority of the members having committed suicide or facing murder charges.

Perhaps the only genre that can be entirely attributed to a Vitamin D deficiency.

Fans: Former metal fans disillusioned by the lack of dead/arrested musicians in regular metal. Un-murdered Nordic youth. That guy you thought was a harmless goth until he celebrated his latest church burning by killing you and having sex with your corpse. Satan.

Minimal producer Sidney Frost declares LP label to be "too busy;" asks for a 40% cyan reduction.

Minimal
A Germanic-influenced brand of techno deployed by producers with a shortage of equipment/plugins. Has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years, perhaps as a backlash to the overblown sounds of trance, or more likely, as a result of there being a very high DJ/fan ratio, which leaves few bedroom producers with the steady income needed to purchase more equipment/plugins.

Or maybe it’s just some sort of Germanic thing, (see also: Krautrock.) in which another genre (in this case, techno) is disassembled and reassembled incorrectly, leaving several “extra” pieces, which are discarded in Germany’s quest to remain both misunderstood and brutally inept.

Fans: Techno fans tired of being asked to enjoy multiple sounds simultaneously. Chin-stroking wallflowers who have mistaken “not much going on” with “artistic integrity.” IDM fans who enjoy an occasional 4/4 beat. The staff at Pitchfork, which is mostly comprised of chin-stroking wallflowers who have mistaken “not much going on” for “artistic integrity.” Painters who believe the real action is the drying time. Satan.

Stay tuned for Part Three, which will explore Folk, Rap Metal, IDM and hopefully, many others.

-CLT

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The Fancy Plans Guide to Music Genres: Part One

July 8, 2010

As you all are very well aware, I’ve subjected you to a weekly Heavy Rotation, spotlighting various bands and musicians of all persuasions. As I’ve rattled along at great length, I have no doubt deployed several musical terms in an attempt to define a sound by obscuring it with meaningless words. 

The following is a guide to the many genres currently polluting our overly defined musical sphere. It is hoped that this information will help you understand what is meant when I (or someone like me, like Pitchfork — especially Pitchfork) uses an insufficiently descriptive term like “minimal” or “slowcore.” 

"I'd like to accept this round of applause on behalf of the many, many more band members who were unable to fit into the panoramic shot..."

Post-Rock
Reserved for all bands who use rock instruments (guitar, bass, drums) but eschew verse-chorus-verse song structures for sprawling, unfocused epics. Vocals are often optional. Could just as easily been called Prog Rock, thus horrifying proponents of these two “disparate” genres. 

Fans: Chin-strokers who have outgrown the need to enjoy music on any level. Any leftover multi-instrumentalists who somehow failed to be invited to the thirty-person collective currently overrunning the stage. Marillion fans who wish to cast themselves as something other than a cheap punchline. 

Punk = no tux. Post-punk = tux.

Post-Punk
Like Post-Rock, but performed by bands who never properly learned to play their instruments. 

Fans: Gainfully-employed former punks. Art school grads. Gainfully employed art school grads. [Ed. Does not exist.] 

Witness the awkward glory that is a full-on tweecore gig.

Tweecore
Oxymoronically aggressively passive form of ultra-lightweight music, relegated to rainbow-colored EPs and Cassingles. Live performances tend to consist of band members huddling in the far corner of the venue and giggling nervously while staring deeply into each others’ eyes. 

While this performance would be graciously called “underwhelming” by normal people, its fans are usually huddled in the opposite corner staring into each others’ eyes while giggling nervously. A tweecore gig is usually breathlessly described (in very hushed tones) as being like that time when they “almost got kissed.” 

Fans: Indeterminate, as lack of spine tends to preclude the forming of any strong opinions or positive declarations. Gentle woodland creatures with anime eyes

Note: this video is running at 30 FPS.

Slowcore 
Hardcore music so glacially paced that band members are often able to work on their side projects (often of another “-core” variety) between downbeats/chord changes. Generally avoided by promoters due to the fact that soundcheck alone can run an entire night. Often described as being like “old people fucking a sloth.” 

Fans: People who find the Melvins’ hectic pacing “a bit much.” Multi-taskers. Quaalude enthusiasts

Take these gentlemen very seriously indeed, for they are well-aware of the score.

Hardcore 
One of the few genres to cross over successfully, covering a harsher, faster brand of both rock and techno. Albums and live performances tend to contain various self-affirming statements such as, “Only for the Hardcore,” “Strictly for the Hardcore,” and “Hardcore, You Know the Score.” 

These pat-yourself-on-the-back statements add a veneer of exclusivity to yet another generic mosh pit/rave, whose attendees like to spend their post-conversion downtime being preached to. 

Fans: People with self-esteem issues. Scorekeepers. Porn fans moving on from the training wheels of Cinemax

Pioneering shoegazers My Bloody Valentine exhibit their pioneering 60-degree head tilt.

Shoegazer 
Named after its proponents’ tendency to avoid eye contact with their fans and gaze on their footwear instead, which everyone thought was delightfully introverted until it was discovered that all the downcast looks were the byproduct of drug-addled guitarists attempting to negotiate their maze of effects pedals. 

With this misconception firmly in their grasp, the shoegaze scene cranked out album after album of delightfully introverted (and misunderstood) music, eventually trademarking the term “ethereal.” Of course, the music was too good (and too introverted) to last, and the scene was soon steamrolled by the heavily forested sounds of grunge, whose proponents weren’t nearly as distracted, thanks to their limited supply of pedals/imagination. 

Fans: Delightfully introverted (and misunderstood) wallflowers. Fans of the word “ethereal.” Other shoegazer bands. This guy

Hawkwind completely encapsulates every aspect of space rock in one unfathomable album cover.

Space Rock 
Like Prog Rock/Post-Rock, only with more heroin. While a prog band might allow its lead guitarist to run off an occasional 12-minute self-indulgent solo, a space rock band* will allow its lead guitarist to run off a 12-minute self-indulgent exploration of a single chord. This, of course, assumes that the guitarist in question is not currently lying in a pool of his own vomit. 

*Unless this band is Hawkwind, in which case everyone is allowed to run off a 12-minute self-indulgent solo, especially the flautist

Fans: Heroin users. Single-chord enthusiasts. Heroin dealers. Acid casualties coming down from a 2001 binge. That guy who was “This guy” in the last section.

Yet another example of uncontained German exuberance.

Krautrock 
Of all the things Germany does well (auto manufacturing, intense nationalistic fervor), “rock” is something it does not. Most of the Western world would define “rock” as the product of a guitar/bass/drum/vox combo, fronted by an immaculately coiffed lead singer. 

The Germans, however, view “rock” as the product of immaculately coiffed and emotionless mannequins playing outdated electronics in front of a beige backdrop. And, while most rock tracks have a distinct beginning, middle and end, Krautrock tracks tend to consist entirely of “middle,” often for 10+ minutes at a time. 

Fans: Metronome enthusiasts (see also: Minimal). Germans. Bands looking for unverifiable “influences.”

That wraps up Part 1. Stay tuned for Part 2, which deals with Goth, World Music, Minimal Techno and various other redundant terminology.

-CLT

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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

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