Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Working Late Isn't Always So Bad (Confessions of a Slacker, Linklater style)

Right now I am at work, waiting for a co-worker who I’m supposed to take home. This isn’t a big deal (so don’t read that first line and interpret any hint of resentment in my voice, because it’s legitimately not there) as there’s a big deadline coming up and we’re all really busy. Since I reached a stopping point, though, I’m not about to dig into some huge task that I can’t devote enough attention to at the moment.

Staying late tonight was somewhat part of a coordinated team “late work night”, but if you’re like me and have spent every night this week (and most of last week) holed up in your office, then it’s just another night except for the solidarity you’re supposed to feel by all being here together. To do my part in contributing to the feeling of solidarity, I rounded up two of my co-workers to go grab a bite outside of the compound walls instead of having pizza with the team. Why would I not grab free pizza? First of all, I had free pizza last night with co-workers who stayed late, and also last Wednesday when we had one of these coordinated it’s-not-so-bad-if-we’re-all-here-right? kind of nights. Second, work is much better when you don’t have to deal with certain people, even if it’s in the context of free pizza.

Recently I’ve discovered that staying late isn’t so bad. I like working at night better than I do during the day, and the absence of the annoyances associated with having a company’s full staff present allows me to get exponentially more work done. (Thus, when it’s a “team” effort, the benefits of staying late tend to evaporate in the pretense of “bonding”). Also, sometimes I bring in my laptop so I can watch DVDs or movies, which makes work seem not so bad. No one’s ever contested me on this, and if they do I’ll just state that I’m spending extra time at the office, my fucking time, so I’ll work with whatever kind of atmosphere I damn well please. I may start doing this during the day.

Tonight I’m watching Slacker, which is Richard Linklater’s ode to the legitimately unique early 1990s Austin mentality. This was a time when the “Keep Austin Weird” bumper stickers weren’t ironic or sarcastic, and “weird” didn’t mean “still has a few coffee shops that aren’t Starbucks”.

Whenever I watch this movie (tonight’s only the second time) I get the sense that Austin is where I belong and I should just drop everything to move there immediately. I also get that feeling when SXSW is approaching, which is hardly coincidence. It also happens that SXSW is approaching at this very time, and maybe it was the last time I watched Slacker. However, this time I’m seeing the city as it’s portrayed in the movie and am fearful of the effects that the socialites outpriced from California may or may not be having on the city. While there’s still plenty of individualism and character in Austin, the city certainly ain’t what it used to be. The same can be said for SXSW, which is now something of an alternative spring break for hipsters (I am guilty of this) instead of a cool local thing.

The Austin that you see in the film is full of an academic underclass of disaffected 20-somethings so overwhelmed with conspiracy theories and political paranoia that they’ve created a society in which so many are avoiding working for the “man” that everyone gets along quite splendidly. Where are these characters nowadays? I guess there are still a few, and they probably aren’t as identifiable when the only time you go to the city is when there are thousands of people just like you, wearing tight jeans, Chuck Taylors (or the slightly hipper Onitsuka Tigers) and t-shirts of the bands that are cool, used to be cool, or are so uncool that they are now VERY cool.

In any case, there’s a certain “vibe” projected from Austin that you just can’t match anywhere else. I live in Madison, which is endlessly compared to Austin, but sadly the vibe is altogether absent. I feel like everything in Austin is different. The air feels different. A walk down the street feels better and somewhat fresher that in other places. Austin doesn’t even have my ideal city layout (it’s pretty spread out and there are some areas that are extremely suburban and nauseatingly generic) and I still only get this feeling there.

Some interesting observations:

In the background after the scene where the father is telling the daughter about the thief who persisted in the notion that there could be another person who looked like him, had the same hair, fingerprints, and name who in fact stole whatever it was the shopkeep accused him of, there is a truck with a sign promoting “Ron Paul, Libertarian for President”. In other parts of the film a few of the transitional group of protagonists are spouting off complaints about Bush, though in this case it’s H.W. Whoever said history repeats itself wasn’t fucking kidding.

Also, in this one part there are bottles of Shiner Bock on the table, and it has a much cooler label in that scene than the beer does now. Shiner, if you can believe it, used to be a Texas beer!

And finally,
that one broke ass guy’s band is playing at the Continental Club, which is the essence of Austin. It’s hip because it’s on South Congress (is the current location the original?), and it’s always cool to see places you know in movies.

Music From the Protozoan Era: Junior High

So I am writing another article; mine may not be grand but seeing how often things are posted on this site, I don't feel guilty about taking up too much copy space.
I have all my music CD's in two cabinets in my room. Most of these are what I have listened to in the modern age, which I define as high school onward and began with Guns 'N Roses' Appetite for Destruction. Before this period was "everything else" that went on beforehand. Those CD's are on a back shelf in my closet, and I wanted to share them with you. This prehistoric period started with the soundtrack to Wayne's World, which was the first CD I ever got. Here are a few other selections:

The Toadies, Rubberneck: My cousin had this CD first, and I heard it when he came to Oklahoma to visit. I thought my cousin was the coolest because he had more than 25 CD's.

Bush, Sixteen Stone: This was when I never listened to a whole CD, but only the single that was
popular at the time. "Little Things" was cool, then I heard "Come Down" and "Everything Zen" on the radio. Those sounded good, I could listen to those now. Then came "Machinehead," and man, the CD just kept getting better! Then I saw the "Glycerine" video- that was on the CD too?!

Stone Temple Pilots, Core: Scott Weiland was cool and still is. I remember orginally hearing "Dead and Bloated" when I was in fourth grade, in my neighbor's garage with the "bigger, older kids." I was intimidated by them because they rode skateboards.

Spice Girls, Spice: Yep, I won't lie to you. In 7th grade Emma "Baby Spice" Bunton was the most gorgeous looking girl I had ever seen.

Offspring, Smash: For some reason our junior high drama teacher let Justin in our grade play this over the theatre's PA during class. If you remember the record, you know why it quickly got taken off.

Goldfinger, Goldfinger: At that point I thought "Here in Your Bedroom" was the best song ever. Now if something has an ounce of ska in it I run away like it's the plague.

Gravity Kills, Gravity Kills: I thought I was cool to listen to something so heavy.

Nirvana, In Utero: My dad will never forget. At our little league baseball game, Brad's mom told my dad "Oh Brad is just devastated! Just heartbroken! I'm so worried about him. I hope he doesn't become depressed." My dad says "Why?" She says Kurt Cobain died. My dad says "Who's Kurt Cobain?" She says he is the singer in a band that Brad likes. My dad is speechless.

Mr. Mirainga, Mr. Mirainga: Has anyone else heard of this besides me?

Well, thanks for letting me share. I hope maybe some of them you can identify with, and let me know which ones I missed. On a heavier note, on the way home from work today, I stopped to try a "Big Okie Burger" at this place in town that's been there on Route 66 for years. Four patties=1 pound of burger. The first half was the best burger I've ever had, the second half one of the worst. I told my sister if I die of a heart attack, just write "It had to be done" on the grave.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Freewheelin' Yo La Tengo- Randy Bacon Art Gallery, Springfield, MO Jan. 19, 2008

So, based upon my enjoyment of the Yo La Tengo show last spring in Tulsa, I decided to drive 2 1/2 hours to Springfield to catch them last night at the Randy Bacon Art Gallery. I have never been to a show in an art gallery and must say that I was intrigued by the idea. It was in downtown Springfield, and I would say it was more a gallery of photography than paintings, and looked like a pretty cool place. There were pictures hanging all around, and I couldn't really tell if any of them were for sale or how the whole place operated, but it made for a pretty cool venue. It was no smoking obviously but they did have a bar and everything like a regular venue, with a few seats at the front but I chose to stand at the back, which was probably only 30 feet from the stage anyhow.
I walk in and immediately shell out $8 for a poster (a promo poster specific to the show tonight) because I am a sucker for posters like that, and I have paid plenty more than $8 for them in the past. Then, I fortuitously get it autographed by Ira and Georgia themselves at the merch table!!! This merits the alliteration: "Already Anti-Bears are abounding."
I didn't entirely love the opener, Kurt Wagner, but I give him credit for sounding original on his acoustic guitar. I was worried because this was a nearly acoustic show with Yo La Tengo, and I had my doubts about if it would be as great as a fully electric show. Such doubts quickly evaporated- this was one of the coolest shows I have ever been to. The Yo La's were sitting down for the entire show, Georgia was playing on a minimal drum kit primarily with brushes, and they came out, played three songs including "Bean Bag Chair" and then pronounced that they had exhausted their "Springfield material." They then opened it up to the audience and took requests and answered questions, back and forth after every song throughout the night- I was actually surprised at how well they handled questions; they seem like a real easy-going and funny band.
They didn't play every request, but nearly all. Someone asked for "Oklahoma, USA" which I would have liked hearing, but they didn't play it. It was the most personal concert environment I have experienced, so much so that in the middle of "Last Days of Disco" people entering in the back of the venue were almost a distraction; it was so quiet. They did crank up the volume on songs like "Little Honda" and "Sugarcube" (both requests), and the Yo La Tengo distortion came through all electric (perhaps my favorite Yo La Tengo moment is during a song that sounds really fragile and ethereal like it could fall apart any minute, yet Ira goes ahead and puts a real sloppy and wailing distorted solo into the mix and it still all hangs together).
I give James McNew credit for having the best head-bob for a bass player, he looks real serious but all jolly at the same time. Other highlights for me included "Stockholm Syndrome," "Mr. Tough," "Black Flowers," and "Upside Down." As always after concerts, I can never remember them distinctly, or exact setlists, or what everything sounded like. But here are the final gradings:
BEARS: 1.5 -for two drunk guys making too much noise, particularly during "Mr. Tough," and some bears for no heavy electric- I was looking forward to a blaring version of "Pass the Hatchet..."
ANTIBEARS: 5.0 -I know it's pretty lame to give maximum Antibears, but I can't imagine when I'll see another show quite like this one. All the songs translated really well to a stripped down version, and I didn't expect the question and answer/interactive aspects of the show. Not many bands can pull this off. I don't know when any other show could garner full Antibear credit from me, or what I would hold such acclaim back for. And in an art gallery at that, who would have thought?

Thursday, January 17, 2008


I don't think I need to remind everyone the buzz about this movie. 82% favorable Rotten Tomatoes rating (quite high), a favorite to win multiple awards, etc. But let me be plain and concise: this movie SUCKED.

I mean, it really sucked. It didn't just fail to live up to my high expectations. It wasn't "just okay." It really, truly sucked. It was god-awful. Everyone involved in the production of this film should consider some serious atonement for me and others having to sit through this piece of garbage. I can't recall a time where I've gone to the movies and been more bored. Even the scenes of WWII were extremely boring. I've never seen war depicted more boringly. Yes, the war wasn't too central to the movie, and yes it was a romance, but still. And don't comment on the brilliance of the beach shot at Dunkirk. Yawn.

And no, I'm not some guy who can't appreciate an artistic movie. My girlfriend agreed with me 100% on the crappiness of this film. Which begs the question, how can so many critics see a movie one way, and all be so totally wrong? I recently heard someone comment on the fact that rotten tomatoes may be creating a groupthink phenomenon among critics. Essentially, no critic wants to be the one who disagrees with the mass, for fear of appearing wrong. I didn't agree with that theory when I heard it, and I still don't think I do. But how else can so many people who critique movies for a living be so wrong? I just don't know. I really don't. I won't get into plot details, although I hope that no one who reads this review sees the movie.

I think I need a nap now to cool down from all this ranting. I could go on and on, but why just make myself madder? DON'T SEE THIS! That's all you need to know.

(6bears- the off the scale mark is due to the fact that this shitty movie made us miss the first 35 minutes of project runway this week---- 1anti bear because the music was nice and it was visually nice)

Friday, January 4, 2008

Black Lips!

Charz2k band of 2007 are making a bid for being the band of 2008, too. After their show at Milwaukee's Mad Planet club a Black Lip (singular) told my posse that the band would not be playing SXSW. My response to this was to tell him to "come to Madison".

Checking the band's upcoming tour schedule, one can clearly see that they listened to me:

BLACK LIPS at the Rathskeller, Madison, WI on FEB. 29, 2008!!!

If it weren't enough that they're playing here, it's on fucking leap year day. LEAP YEAR DAY. 2008 is going to be great. Goal: get the Black Lips to agree to play in Buenos Aires so I can see them when I'm living there.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year Boggs

Yeah yeah. Do you know what we missed? It was like the funniest thing ever. One time Wade Boggs drank like 28 beers on a two hour flight to a road series back when he played ball (true story). Last year (2007) Sebadoh released a tour-only outtakes album called Wade Through The Boggs. That's so funny. As if just the fucking concept of a man like Wade Boggs existing wasn't funny enough, he just has to go and have a name like Wade Boggs. I don't know what it is that's so funny about his name. It's like just so precise and kind of pirate/biker style. I think Wade Boggs like popped up only 19 times in his whole career or something. It's a really low number and it may not be 19. But I'm not gonna' research it. I'm not being graded on this bullshit.

But yeah that's like a new front for expansion in the world of nomenclature: things and people whose names are like perfect. I'll be damned if the man doesn't look and act just like a Wade Boggs. It's such an appropriate name. I think I'm gonna' name my dog Wade Boggs...but only if it has a Boggsian mustache. And I'll see to it that it does.

What'd you guys do on New Years? Oh Loooord! Would you believe I threw up?! When I throw up it's like crazy. I'm a vomit champion. It's just projectile vomit with me I swear. And while I didn't throw up as I was having intercourse...I cut it pretty close. Is that an inappropriate thing to share? I hope my girlfriend doesn't get mad. Nah, she won't, she's cool like that. I puked three times outside of Jonathan's apartment. I told Jonathan and Meagan to go inside without me (hurry! hurry!) so they wouldn't see me sick it in the parking lot median. Then I puked more when I got home. Today I felt like shit and I drank some special tea.

I have no idea why I'm up so early. I'm listening to this Stinky Toys album I got ad infinitum. Do you think "Stinky Toys" should really be called "Euphemisms for Dildoes?" It's really good and it's French 70's punk rock with a girl singer.

K, anyway, have a good year in 2008. You should all try new things (like chocolate poop cookies). Do something weird. I challenge you to do something weird. For starters, you can make your friends really uncomfortable by telling them you love them all the time.

Eric, I love you man!


New Years Resolution: Do more charz2k articles!