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Friday, March 19, 2004
Greatest band ever?
Just as you might think a movie is the greatest thing you've ever seen because the friendly writer/director is standing on stage answering goofy questions afterward with wit and aplomb (hello, Hellboy!), it's very easy to believe that a band you're seeing at South by Southwest is the Next Big Thing when you're standing two feet from the stage, just past your second beer and having your eardrums blasted so hard that you're going to be hearing dogs whine piteously in your ear until the next afternoon.
Last night, I was just past a tallboy Lone Star and a Dos Equis watching stellastarr* (don't go hunting down below for explanation; the asterisk is part of their name. So is the lowercase "s." Hey, I didn't name them.) from New York City. My friend Shannon had raved about them; she said it was her favorite current album. She compared them to the current crop of NYC punkies (punklites? punkibits?) like Yeah Yeah Yeahs and that's really all she had to say to get me to the show.
So a few hours after getting in to the empty Red Eyed Fly and waiting through another band called Ambulance (sugary sweet confection rock; I was ready to dismiss them and their Davey Jones-sounding vocalist until they rocked through two awesome last songs), I'm standing behind Shannon. She's had two Lone Star tall boys, and you must understand, Shannon is not a large person. In fact, you could pack her into a box of Nerds candies and still have room for some Bazooka Joe comics. And since I rarely drink anymore, we're both pretty buzzed and ready to be blown away.
Well, I don't know if it was the alcohol or my eardrums busting or if the band was just that good, but stellastarr(asterisk) were insanely good. Their singer sounds like Robert Smith and their sound is early-post-punk-whatever. I'm not a music writer. I don't know the genre. But it was poppy and fierce and the impression that they were early Cure-meets-Pixies was bolstered by their insanely hot (am I allowed to call someone hot this close to getting married?) bassist, who harmonized in Kim Deal style with the sweetly barking lead singer. Drums pounded, the roof got blown off the place, fools in front (including this fool) were bobbing and dancing and remembering parachute pants and Big League Chew.
I had to bail and go home because I was already exhausted from working late the night before, but for one glorious moment, my ears were bleeding from hearing the Greatest Band in the World. They may have only been so for those 30 minutes of their set, but damned if my hearing loss wasn't completely worth it.
by Omar G. at 2:53 PM
Thursday, March 18, 2004
Movies this week
All the wide-release movies in Austin this week were strolling along, all "doop-de-doo!" when they witnessed a huge, creeping elephantine shadow stomping toward them. They cried, in unison, "What the fuck is that!?" And it was South by Southwest. And they were stomped. Nevertheless:
Dawn of the Dead: Yeah! Aw, YEEEAAAAHH! Zombies! How can you not love a zombie movie? Even a bad one? Zombies are the thinking man's werewolves. Rather than ripping you for your tasty flesh alone, zombies want your brains. They don't care about your tits or the junk in your trunk or your tight calves and slamming abs. Zombies want to eat the part of your brain that can recite the lyrics to "The Safety Dance." That shit is tasty. You have to admire that they take the high road in eating humans. My brother and I both share a grudging, horrific admiration for the re-animated dead. We love it when Penny Arcade does a zombie comic and I think maybe the best gift I've ever given my brother for any Christmas was this book, which details the way to survive a zombie invasion. Sure, it may seem like an inappropriate gift in the merry light of Christmas morning, but he'll be damn glad when the undead hordes are invading and he knows exactly what part of their rotting, maggot-infested brains to aim at with the shotgun. This film is said to have quick-moving zombies, along the lines of the great 28 Days Later. I'm not sure how I feel about fast zombies. On the one hand, they do scare you more easily that way. On the other, infected, needs-to-be-severed hand, it makes humans lose the one advantage they have over these vile creatures. Plus, it was kind of funny to try to talk sense to slow-moving, dull-witted zombies as they approached. I have great hopes for this movie. I have great hopes for us triumphing over the zombies when Hell runs out of room for them.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: This could have been a total fiasco, like Michael Gondry's previous Charlie Kaufman movie Human Nature, which was interesting in the way that all Charlie Kaufman (Adaptation, Being John Malkovich) movies are interesting, it was just sort of a big, obnoxious mess. This movie is getting solid-to-great reviews, which must be pissing Spike Jonze off right now. I'm sure he's a cool guy and all (well, at least until he and Sofia Coppola split up), but some part of his brain must be wishing that all other would-be Charle Kaufman directors choke on it so that he can be proclaimed the one and true adapter of this crazy-ass scribes' movie scripts. I'm really looking forward to seeing this because Being John Malkovich is still one of my favorite movies -- it massaged and carressed parts of my brain that even the fucking zombies will never get to. You go, Charlie. You go, boy.
Taking Lives: I propose a moratorium on serial killer movies and the means of accomplishing this is simple: We take all the screenwriters who've had a serial-killer movie greenlit in the past three years and have them face off in a Battle Royale-style deathmatch. Those who wrote scripts where the protagonist is a comely woman trying to track down the freaky killer don't get to have weapons. The winner gets a three-picture deal with Newmarket and a copy of Babe on DVD to calm them down. The losers will be dead, so they get nothing. Angelina Jolie, who lately has been alternating her time between adopting babies and making shitty movies, will also be thrown into the contest.
Touchez pas au Grisbi: It seems like almost every week now, there's an obscure (at least to me) French film or classic re-release of a movie I've never heard of. This is the one for this week, a French crime noir where the dudes smoke a lot and are much cooler than you'll ever be and the women will have sex with you and then kill you for your gold watch and money-filled suitcase. I haven't seen a lot of classic French cinema, but I do know that many of these films come from an era when men weren't little wussy whiny bitches and women didn't have Oprah to tell them how to be a better person. Everyone comes across like cunning, manipulative, scheming, smoking assholes. So why do they still come across as so damn cool? Gotta give it to the French on this one.
DVDs: Still trying to find time for Capturing the Friedmans. I also got a copy of The Matrix: Revolutions and I guess I should watch it since I missed it in theaters. Also got sent a copy of The Richard Pryor Show DVD set, but I'm supposed to give it to someone else. Maybe I can sneak a peek at it before that happens.
by Omar G. at 1:31 PM
At work, 2 a.m.
I'm at work and I just got past the stage where I was all thrilled and feeling a little cool to be at the office at 1 a.m.. Then I got right over that hump and now I'm in the phase where I just wish my bed was here. Goddamn. Tired. Only the Do's and Dont's on back issues of Vice Magazine online are keeping me going.
But it's all right because today was one of the best days ever. I just had a fantastic day. I had the early part of the day off, so I did shit I never do like eat a salmon and rice bowl outside on South Congress while reading the New York Times, or taking in a cool political documentary at five in the afternoon on a Wednesday or watching Crank Yankers in my shorts at noon. Fucking good day.
And I was going to write a detailed entry about why it was so good, even talking about the perfect Austin weather we've had this week -- cool, breezy, sunny -- or how all the music people are arriving and spring break means very little traffic and all of a sudden, Austin is the greatest place on earth, and then I thought it would be rude to go on and on like that and the conversation, as it were, with my readers would be like:
You: What the fuck are you smiling like that for?
Omar: Am I smiling? I didn't realize I was smiling.
You: Yeah, you've got this big goofy grin.
Omar: Oh. I guess I'm just happy today. And lately. Things are good. I'm happy.
You: You're a fucking prick.
So I'll just leave it at: I had a good day. It's 2 a.m. I'm at my desk. Tinny little iTunes music is coming out of the lonely G4 internal speaker. The newsroom is almost completely silent, so my keyboard tapping seems uncomfortably loud. Yaaawwwwwwn.
by Omar G. at 1:52 AM
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
Do the Doozer
Sometimes it's all right to be a Doozer.
Doozers build things that are quickly torn down and eaten, but instead of being pissed about it, they take pride in the deliciousness of their architecture.
They build and build and build, and just as they're ready to go for a tiny, tiny little beer, some multicolored Fraggles come along and eat their beautiful little crystalline towers. They don't even really eat them. They gnaw on them with their ineffectual felt mouths and let the hard radish towers fall out like so much uncooked spaghetti. Your work, your lifeblood, your labor, ends up on the ground, to be swept away and given to the trash heap.
But Doozers are very Zen about this destructive crap situation. They recognize that they do serve a purpose; mainly, feeding those insatiable muppets with their wild hair and googly eyes. Doozers also recognize that all work is destructible, finite, disposable. So are the Doozers. So are all of us.
Let the Fraggles eat your work. And if it really, really still bothers you after giving it long and careful thought, use poisoned radishes.
by Omar G. at 2:56 PM
Monday, March 15, 2004
Green is the new puce!
So, Orkut is the new Friendster, from what I can tell. It's a lot friendlier to navigate and it doesn't take 10 hours to load a page of your friends.
I know some folks have given up on the whole social networking thing, but I like it because I don't have forums propah here and it lets me send little goofy messages to peeps and I created a little "Friends of Terribly-Happy" community.
And what's up with Friendster being in "Beta" now? Hasn't Friendster been around for what feels like 5 years already? Shouldn't they have all those kinks worked out by now? What-evuh, Friendstar! Call my beepah! I can't guarantee I'll be callin' you back, fool!
Anyway, I'm liking Orkut, even though I'm sure I'll hit a wall sometime soon just like with Friendster, where I stare at the screen for a good three minutes and say to myself, "Wow. Now what? I feel pretty useless here."
by Omar G. at 4:56 PM
Tired, y'all. Tiiiiiiiirrreed.
We drove back from the famliy wedding shower last night. It was a late six-hour trip to begin with and we arrived with about 20 minutes to grab a snack before we had to rush our asses back out the door to see a midnight screening of Hellboy.
We were on the press list, which meant we didn't have to stand in line for an hour and a half like a lot of people there, which I felt truly bad about, but we were both so groggy from the drive that I just wanted to be in the dark with a movie showing and not move at all. We got in through the front and a guy tried to stop us, but I barked something like, "We already talked to (pointing to a person) that guy and he already let us in." The poor guy, who doesn't even work for the fest, mumbled under his breath, "Fine, okay, go on in."
It was great, but with the Q&A and the driving home and the showering and the munching on grapes before bed because I hadn't eaten anything, I finally went to bed about 4 a.m. Then I worked this morning, so I'm quite the dapper muss-haired zombie today. Grr. Arr.
Sleep when you're dead, right?
by Omar G. at 4:11 PM
Sunday, March 14, 2004
The expletive was "jackass"
I interviewed John Stamos a little while ago and he was very, very cool on the phone. Funny, chatty, extremely apologetic for missing an earlier scheduled interview...
Here's the part that sucks: I'm out of town this weekend for a family wedding shower. I'm missing the kick-off weekend of South by Southwest. (Kevin Smith, Peter Dinklage, free BEER. Dude, don't even get me started. Thinking happy marriage thoughts, thinking happy marriage thoughts...)
In the phone interview, The Stamos was so taken by my charm (and by my story of how his appearance in "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" was the first thing I ever saw on Broadway on my first-ever visit to New York) that he invited me to come sit with with his crew (I'm assuming he has a "crew") at the screening of "I Am Stamos." I was giddy, imagining myself positioned right between John and Rebecca-Romijn ("Hey, Romijn-, could you pass the popcorn, please?") until I realized I wouldn't even be in the same zip code when the screening happened.
Sigh. The Stamoses will just have to find another time to meet me and suddenly decide that they want to adopt a full-grown man.
by Omar G. at 11:28 AM
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