Thursday, June 02, 2011


er, so as you can see i kinda totally fucked up the formatting over here. so i decided it was time to just do it, which is to say----

> > I HAVE MOVED < <

(rather, I am moving. . . not much over there.)

I'm not gonna be sentimental about it 'cept to say I would be mighty pleased to see you over at the new blog (which is still very much under construction but will be more of the same & then some :)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Paste's Top 18 Clash Songs + another 18 worth your time


You can view them here. They have pretty good, informed reasons for each one, but since most of them were released as singles or are the ones every talks about (though I'd definitely put "Straight to Hell" at number 1--it's #18 on their list), I thought I'd compile a list of 18 more Clash songs that are worth your time.*

*(Though of course, my ultimate list is the top [however-many-songs-the-Clash-made-altogether] Clash songs since they're all worth your while. . . yes, even "Mensforth Hill" (ok maybe not), and yes, I suppose except those last 12 tracks, at the end, though I think I've drank the "This Is England"-is-a-good/(ok)-track Kool-Aid.)

And honestly, these are in the order they come to mind, numbered only so you know that there is actually 18 of em without having to count. (links to Youtube.)

18. Cheat - this is such a nice mean song, and punk rockers have been trying to figure out how to do that ever since the Clash did it. The best they've done is drop f-bombs, posture, and bitch about stuff. Take the Rancid cover of this one-- good cover, I like it, but even a band known for being lyrically & image-wise meaner, cruder and more obviously "angry" than the Clash still can't make this song as much as a fuck-off as the Clash do.

17. The Card Cheat - the Clash do melodrama.

16. London's Burning - the Clash do ennui and answer the question: is it possible to be angry about ennui? It is for the Clash.

15. Something About England - this one semi-chokes me up the way "Straight to Hell" does each time, a thousand times after the first time. Plus the Strummer-Jones dialogue play works wonders for the story-telling format, giving the listener a chance to experience what made this duo so dynamic. This is one of the countless Clash songs that seem prescient to the issues of today while really serving as a reference point for what has and hasn't changed since their heyday.

14. Hitsville UK -"2 min 59." There has never been another punk song like this. If there was, it would just "sound like Hitsville UK."

13. The Sound of Sinners - The Paste article, in choosing "Train in Vain" as their number 1, says "For a band whose legacy is typically derived from rebellious and political-minded attitude, “Train In Vain” represents The Clash’s musical dexterity—the most overlooked, yet defining factor of these legendary punk rockers." For those of us who listen to Clash songs besides Train in Vain, London Calling, Lost in the Supermarket, and Should I Stay or Should I Go (which are all great songs, too--some of the greatest--and funnily enough, even that selection alone proves Paste's point) this characteristic of versatility is taken for granted, so it's interesting to see this pointed out. Anyway, I think "Hitsville UK" and "Sound of Sinners" are two good examples of the group's dexterity-- the first time I heard "Hitsville UK" on the radio, I would never in a million years have guessed who did it.

12. Rock the Casbah - I wrote a paper on this in college. I don't remember what it was about, if it was about anything besides setting the lyrics in an historical/theological context (I remember something about the revolutionary spirit of Islam, which is, today, suddenly very relevant), but this is just one example of the Clash's being so rooted in the issues of their times without becoming dated.

11. The Leader - "The people must have something good to read on a Sunday." The lyrics and imagery in this one are so dense it's easy to forget this song clocks in at well under 2 minutes.

10. I'm Not Down - Yeah! There is a Clash song for every mood.

9. This Is Radio Clash - Joe Strummer might not be a great rapper, but he's better than Debbie Harry, to take an example from the same year. This one's a good example of the Clash's ability to take what was then the cutting-edge of music and put their own spin on it. (The other way to look at Debbie Harry's rapping is that she makes Joe Strummer look like a grade-A rapper. . .)

8. Sean Flynn - I've always had a soft spot for this one. . . it's quite haunting.

7. Car Jamming - "I thought I saw Lauren Bacall/I swear/Hey fellas/Lauren Bacall."

6. Stay Free - This one gets me every time, too. A nice Mick one. "Step lightly. Stay free."

5. Julie's Been Working for the Drug Squad - this part always cracks me up: "AN' THEN THERE CAME THE NIGHT OF THE GREATEST EVER RAID/THEY ARRESTED EVERY DRUG THAT HAD EVER BEEN MADE." Best raid ever? Commentary on drug policy that still rings true today? In America? The Clash could see the future? (The song was about undercover cops, trained as hippies, having to drop tons of acid in a sting operation in Wales. I imagine that went from being best job ever to worst job ever pretty quickly.)

4. Charlie Don't Surf - I like Robert Duvall, okay?

3. Deny - A nice middle-finger of a song.

2. City of the Dead - You don't hear about this one much, but it's truly a great one, a confection of a punk song.

1. Midnight Log - same reason as 14 & 13. Another song whose complicated, non-stop lyrics make it hard to believe it's only, in classic punk form, a two-minute track.

Awww. 18 isn't enough. Any you guys would add? Think of it this way: someone comes up to you on the street. You figure they're not asking for change so you stick around long enough to find out they've just listened to London Calling, thought it was fab, and want to know what is the next track you'd recommend that will sink the Clash fan hook in forever. So in this highly improbably situation, what track would you name?

Photo modified from original found at

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Kenneth Mars, 'Young Frankenstein' Actor, Dies at 75." Here he is in a scene from one of my all-time favorite movies, What's Up Doc.

Monday, January 31, 2011

1.2011 Top 25

I've decided that if I can remember, I'm going to start posting my Top 25 (according to ifuckUtunes) at the end of each month. Even if it's totally embarrassing. This time around, it's not horribly interesting as I still have yet to put all my music on my iTunes. I've only got 141 songs on it at the moment, and this record of songs has only been being logged since sometime in November, I think. I also only use the program maybe once a week, mostly cos there's nothing on it. (Hopefully talking about all this will inspire me to get out ye olde harde-drive and remedy the situation.)

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Machinist. Eh.

Sooo. . . the Machinist-- I grabbed this from the library since I've been wanting to see it since it came out. I remembered reading all the reviews and the articles about Christian Bale dropping like 50% of his body weight-- which, by the way, he's a total nutter, right? I mean, dedicated? On a Daniel Day-Lewis scale?-- though he's much more subtle actor than Daniel D-L.

This movie was fine; it was okay. I was expecting something on the level of Momento, in terms of the mindfuck/creative narrative, and something on the level of Kontroll in its treatment of mindfuck/insomnia and the surreal elements that come from such things. It does deliver on the atmosphere and look that those two expectations would promise; if this movie did one thing well, it was mood. In fact, halfway through, we paused it to put our dishes in the kitchen or something and I looked out and there was a green jeep-thing parked in front of our house with a plastic-wrapped Christmas tree on top of it. Which is weird at the end of January but mega-creepy if you're watching a creepy movie at the same time. So it was a mood that sticks to you while you're watching the film.

Throughout the film there are some nice visual hints-- the cigarette lighter in the car and the clock at 1:30 were good notes-- and the parts of Christian Bale's character cleaning things, included his bare hands, with some hard-core chemicals (lye, bleach) adds to the themes of destructive absolution that, it turns out, make up the core of the story.

Which is part of my quibble. By the end of the film, the reveal felt like too much all at once mostly because there was just one answer for all the little things, and the sense of mystery-- the atmosphere, the visuals, the paranoia-- didn't have the impact that would have made this a film that lingers. Granted, it all makes sense, and the fable-like arc of repressed memories and self-inflicted doppelgangers is something I like in theory, but the ending, much like in the film's referenced-Crime & Punishment, doesn't feel like something that is necessarily built up to, despite the constant baby step hints we get throughout (again, the cigarette lighter, for example), but instead is dropped in our lap all of a sudden, a big huge reference at the end that then simply inspires a game of who-can-spot-all-the-hints in retrospect, that isn't as satisfying as the build-up of so many hints would suggest.

The other part that brought the film down was that before the ending, there were certain parts that were clearly in his mind. Christian Bale's character becomes convinced of a conspiracy against him after he is the inadvertent cause of a gruesome accident; unfortunately, the film makes it immediately clear that this is a product of his exhaustion and paranoia, rather than keeping it a matter for the audience's speculation for any amount of time. There wasn't that unsettling uncertainty that a film like, say, Shutter Island, had (in spades-- my problem with Shutter Island is that they never give a statement about the film's reality--what was fake; what was real-- something I have a problem with on a theoretic and narrative level.) The Machinist does keep some of those aspects in question until the end, but not as a whole, which seems a missed opportunity.


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