Thursday, May 29, 2003

“A” Material

Today I repeatedly cracked up my pal Def Jeff with tales of talking to a cutie at the Spunk/Chank show last month. Here’s how I related it:

She startled me with a “Hi Bill.” I responded, and what I meant to say was: “Hey (girl’s name)! I was hoping to run into you here!” What came out was a dead-end-no-way-to-turn-around: I know you. She kindly reminded me of how I knew her – of course I knew that already, but was tounge-tyingly unable to inform her of it. So I figured if I complimented her I’d come off as just maybe a little bit cool. What I meant to say was: “I dig what you’re doing with your hair.” What came out was this: Your hair is different. She smiled briefly and soon, very soon, left the room.

The key here dear reader is not how to stumble-and-bumble through these conversations, it is to remember exactly how you did it. Your friends will love you for it.

Monday, May 26, 2003

The First Cut Is The Funniest

I left the inaugural summer bonfire a half-hour before midnight, earlier than expected. As I walked up the hill, I heard Bjerk call out : "What - ya got a paper route?"

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Blonde on Blog

My Five Favorite Dylan Wannabe Songs, the chintzier-sounding the better. I could listen to these songs all night, truly:

"A Public Execution" (1965) - Mouse. This is to Bob Dylan what the Count Five’s “Psychotic Reaction” is to the Yardbirds or what Kingdom Come’s “Get It On” is to Led Zeppelin. Such a blatant rip-off that it becomes greater which each listen. The name of Mouse’s band? The Traps, of course.

"The Great Airplane Strike" (1966) - Paul Revere and the Raiders. The fuzzy bombing riff on this tune has been ripped off by both the Dead Kennedys and some Brazilian band that I've heard on Radio K. Maybe I should just drink more and more and commence to incessantly tell all y'all to go out and buy their Greatest Hits. You'll like it more than your Velvet Underground and thank me for it later.

"Backsliding Fearlessly" (1969) - Mott the Hoople. John Lennon’s “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” crossed with Blonde on Blonde and – I imagine – numerous pints of ale prior to recording. This is the fourth song on their debut album, the previous three were covers. It’s my duty as an oldster to say it: They don’t make ‘em like this any more.

"Industrial Disease" (1982) - Dire Straits. Mark Knopfler had previously shown that he vocally resembled Dylan, but here he totally captures the important parts of Dylan’s mid-sixties sound: the vocal sneer, the keyboards, the beat. His guitar heroics are simply in the way he makes the rhythm guitar croak. And the crazy surreal lyrics: it all ends with a protest singer and two Jesuses (“one of ‘em must be wrong.”)

"One Step Forward" (1996) - Railroad Jerk. Like all great fast Dylan songs (all of the above approximate fast Dylan except the Mott tune), this keeps throwing weird-huh? lyrics out there and you never get sick of it and then it’s over and you're left wanting more. Though one line rings clear: “Your indie credibility is going way down the drain / You went one step forward and two back from where you came.”

I came up with this list after hearing the new Lucinda Williams song, “Sweet Side”, which while being Dylan Wannabe is mediocre Dylan Wannabe. The rest of the album is likely better, and all the Deep Songwriter fans out there will tell me all about it, over and over. In the mean time, I can get my kicks reading the review of the album, which states that: (this) is a work of art in the Henry James sense; it is "that which can never be repeated."

Well, hell. And here I was gonna go out and buy that fun new Electric Six album because I’ve been told repeatedly that Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is the album that broke the mold on work of art albums!

Friday, May 16, 2003

Fun With Shadowy Science

I was checking out the lunar eclipse tonight from the dark of my apartment while listening to a recently-acquired copy of Robert Plant's latest album. The disc didn't sound that great while driving around in my car yesterday, but weirdly it was the perfect soundtrack for a lunar eclipse. And the disappearing moon got me to thinking: What does the Flat Earth Society think about all of this? And here comes the answer - from the late president of the FES, Charles K. Johnson:

The moon shines by its own light and is not eclipsed by the earth. Rather, lunar eclipses are caused by an unseen dark body occasionally passing in front of the moon.

Works for me! I grew up in North Dakota. Trust me, the earth is flat. I can probably use the Bible to prove it, too.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

And Then the Lord Said: "Another Round."

God speaks in Finnish.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Bring Back the Country Club Republicans!

Four former Minnesota governors recently took Governor Pawlenty to task. Personally, I'm digging the part where Arne Carlson ("Endorsement? I don't need your stinkin' endorsement!") testified:

"And you cannot deny the right to basic health care. . . . It is wrong. The pain should be spread, and that means a tax increase -- particularly on those of us who can afford it."

Then he followed that up with some nice righteous indignation:

"A gun bill. How can you explain a [conceal and carry] gun bill?" Carlson asked. "How does anyone with an IQ that approaches double digits pass that kind of legislation?"

Seems strange to miss Arne, don't it?

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Did Someone Say Thirty?

A few years back, my pal Jeff Johnson (of Spunk Studio fame, not of NFL picks fame) declared REM to be "the greatest American rock 'n' roll band ever." While I like REM just fine, in my head they're in the category titled Cute Little Singles Band. And truly, nothing is wrong with that - in fact, it's kinda noble. Hearing the debut single off of REM's latest album was a radio highlight from the mid-eighties through the mid-nineties. (The only REM album I ever listen to is Eponymous.) But in honor of the 20th anniversary of the release of Murmur, here's my list of Twenty American Rock 'n' Roll Bands That Are Better Than REM:

Alice Cooper
Creedence Clearwater Revival
Guns n' Roses
J. Geils Band
Lynyrd Skynyrd
New York Dolls
Pearl Jam
Public Enemy
The Replacements
Paul Revere and the Raiders
Soul Asylum
The Stooges
The Temptations
Van Halen

Saturday, May 10, 2003

The Best Joke My Uncle Stan Ever Told

Alright! A whole site crammed full of Finnlander jokes. It has one of my favorites:

Toivo was at the bar in Channing drinking a Stroh's and watch the Packers on the television when a big tall rancher from Texas came strolling in. The Texan started drinking and bragging to Toivo about how much money he made and how many head of cattle he owned. He said to Toivo in a loud voice, "I can drive all day and never reach the end of my property!". Toivo replied, "Yah, I got a pickup like dat too, mister."

It does not have my all-time fave though:

(Best appreciated when said aloud.) Did you know that George Custer was a Finnlander and that his shoes were too small? Yeah, his last words were: "Dese sues are killin' me!"

Thursday, May 08, 2003

The Price You Pay To Kiss Coeds

It's been tossed out on sports-talk radio that former Iowa State hoops coach Larry Eustachy played the "I'm an alcoholic and am seeking help" card early in order to either save his job or to set himself up to get another Division I coaching job. All I can say is: the poor guy was drinking Natural Light and I'm glad he's seeking help.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

The Case For Atheism

Brad Zellar came up with his baker’s dozen of greatest guitarists, and I considered doing the same. But I realized my list would be sorta predictable in the usual rock-and-or-guitar-heroes kinda way. Keith Richards, Jeff Beck, Eddie Van Halen, Jimi Hendrix, probably Steve Cropper to outflank your Mark Knopfler. I also realized that the whole thing would eventually descend into a Jeff Beck Over Eric Clapton exercise, so I figured it would be best to drop the list and just hack out the Beck Over Clapton argument. Eventually I admitted that this guitarist vs. that guitarist is six-string fanwankdom at its worst, so I just decided to type up the bare notes of my rant and share them with you (i.e. Blogging 101) and then commence to blasting Beck-era Yardbirds on headphones whilst playing my Pabst hand. Hence:

… check the Yardbirds with Beck vs. the Yardbirds with Clapton. Like the very first notes on the first Beck track on The Yardbirds Ultimate! collection, “I’m Not Talking” – it’s menacing, arrogant and …

… the band was better with Beck, he was like Michael Jordan – making all the players around him that much better. Clapton left the ‘Birds to go become God, but do you want: 1) white-boy English blues, or do you want: 2) “Shapes of Things”, “You’re a Better Man Than I”, “Heart Full of Soul”, and “Over Under Sideways Down”? Those were tunes that pushed the rock ‘n’ roll envelope in a blistering, cocky way …

… Beck was all about the future: Feedback, distortion, vision, making your guitar sound like a distorted sitar, making it into a train whistle, experimenting but never getting in the way of simply blowing folks away in three-point-five-minutes. Clapton was all about the past and …

… don’t give me the whole “Beck is about technique, while Clapton is about feeling” bullshit because who are to you to judge Beck on what he feels while creating his twisted attack? What’s more important to me is the effect: Clapton’s blues reworkings are pleasant (at best), but Beck’s noise hits you in the gut …

… “style is character” – Joan Didion …

… since when are power chords, feedback and distortion NOT the result of feeling? In “I’m a Man” Beck brutally, brilliantly treats his guitar as a percussion instrument and I’ll take the punk attitude of that over the …

… then there’s “The Nazz Are Blue” – in the first guitar solo, Beck plays a couple rote (though of course bitingly distorted) blues notes, then abandons the been-there-done-that of THE BLUES and simply plays a dropping note of feedback that goes on for seconds. The only word I can think of to describe it is perverse and I guarantee you that Clapton does not possess the genius or guts to ever come up with …

… Beck makes his guitar sound like trains, bombs, tanks. He kicks ass, takes names. Clapton is reverent. Big freakin deal …

… in the thirty-five-plus years since the Yardbirds, Beck has learned one thing that Clapton never has: I have no business singing

Tuesday, May 06, 2003


I noticed something strange when I popped the top on the first bottle out of the twelve-pack of Pabst that I recently bought: The bottom of the bottle cap had the sign for the Eight of Clubs. Subsequent bottle caps also had cards with 'em (Four of Clubs, Six of Spades, King of Spades.) The packaging of the twelver said nothing about a card game, neither does the Pabst website. If this is poker - so far I got nothin'. If any of you out there know what's up with this, please email me.

Friday, May 02, 2003

In Your Face, CBS

"These crime scene guys are overrated. Problem is, they think they're all cops."
- Detective Lennie Brisco on Wednesday's episode of Law & Order