Tuesday, March 30, 2010

March 31

Here's to the best voice your GPS could ever have. William Daniels has a long and esteemed career, both as an award-winning actor and in the service of his fellow thespians (as president of the Screen Actors Guild in 2000, he saw the SAG though its last strike.) But to my generation, he'll be the sound every talking car should make. A few years ago, it was supposed to happen, same time as the Knight Rider TV reboot. But the show got cancelled; apparently, so did the product.

Now, it looks like NavTones is going to soon deliver, if you aren't interested in having your TomTom talk like Mr T or Gary Busey (available at half-price!)
Of course, if we're talking about the next generation, he's not a bad-ass car; he's Principal Feeny:

Sunday, March 28, 2010

March 29

Happy Birthday to Terry Jacks, one-hit wonder with 1973's "Seasons in the Sun". An adaptation of a Jacques Brel song, "Seasons" was originally arranged for the Beach Boys, but when the band declined to record it, record producer Jacks and his (soon-to-be-ex) wife decided to record and release the song on his own label. The song became an international sensation, topping the charts in the US, Canada, and the UK.
The song is about a dying man offering farewells to friends and family (the French version is more sardonic). When you consider that he was dealing with the dissolution of his marriage and musical partnership, you wonder if those feelings informed his performance.

And you also have to wonder if his sideburns inspired the creators of Wolverine and Sabretooth.

March 30

While my neighbors lament the end of Basketball Season around here, I'm going to talk about another talented young'un who caught some bad breaks. Anna Nalick almost had a platinum album in 2005, thanks to the single "Breathe". I saw her open for Rob Thomas in Cincy, and thought she had a lot more to offer. But she's fallen off the map in the last few years. There were problems with her label and management (whom she dropped this year.) She also got married in 2008. But she supposedly has an entire album waiting out there, unreleased, still mentioned on her label-managed websites and fanpages, still anticipated by a small,fervent following..
Here's the song of hers you probably have heard:

March 28

My prejudice toward country music has taken a few years to fade; most of the time, the music seems like jingles for a way of life I have no interest in. I've found country music that I like in waves: Roy Rogers, Johnny Cash's American Recordings, "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"...
And then there's "If You're Going Through Hell...", performed by Rodney Atkins, really the first song I unapologetically admit that I like. Sure, it's a typical industry production: bought from three other songwriters, typical studio production, a music video that could be and probably was the visuals for a hundred other songs... But the lyrics make me want to sing along. Guess it's where I am in my life. How many country songs are built off quotes by Winston Churchill?
True, Corey Hart made "Never Surrender" into a pop song...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

March 27

How do you tell the difference between Phil Collins-era Genesis and solo Phil Collins? Listen for the keys of Tony Banks.

Banks and Mike Rutherford have been with Genesis since the beginning, through the Gabriel days, the Collins era, and that one album with that one guy... This year, they made the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Not sure who else is in Genesis: Collins has medical problems that keep him from drumming, and Gabriel was a no-show in Cleveland, but the rumors persist about a grand reunion of everyone involved.
It seems that genius-level talent is a requirement to join Genesis, and Tony
Banks is a genius of the keyboards. But while Phil Collins did alright by himself, and Mike had his Mechanics, Tony had more success doing movie scores than his own solo career. Why? Take a look:

Friday, March 26, 2010

March 26

Even the Internet has limitations. I discovered that while researching today's birthday boy, Martin Short. Now, if you've watched comedies in the last 30-odd years, you've probably seen Martin Short: on SCTV or SNL, as the wedding planner in the Father of the Bride movies, as entertainment reporter Jimmy Glick, maybe as the villain in the last Santa Clause movie... He's done a lot of work, won plenty of awards, even has a couple of stars on a couple of walks of fame. But I wasn't simply wanting to talk about Martin Short today; I wanted to talk about Ed Grimley.

You see, Ed Grimley was one of those oddball characters that was either annoying to you, or 'made you completely mental, I must say.' A savant man-child in the Pee-Wee Herman mold (but less suggestive), the Ed Grimley character first gained his fame on SCTV, Canada's version of SNL. When Martin Short made the move to the US, Ed Grimley would end up on SNL, as well. In the wake of Pee Wee Herman's success, NBC greenlit a 13-episode run for Ed Grimley's Saturday morning show in 1988.
At this point, I would have normally posted an episode of the show. But all I've found at this point is the opening credits and a couple of screencaps. The show got re-run a few times in the early Cartoon Network years and hasn't returned to TV since. And it's never made the home video market either, so it seems my search is 'doomed as doomed can be, don'tcha know?'

I realize that by writing this column, I'm admitting that I'm publicly obsessing over a Saturday morning cartoon that I watched in high school. Heck, the talking Ed Grimley doll was one of the last cool Christmas presents I ever got as a kid (15 qualifies, right?)
But one great thing about the Internet is it helps me find a virtual community of people who feel a similar adoration, in varying degrees. One Ed Grimley fan set up EdGrimley.com, a photo album of Ed (in doll form) touring the world, ala the traveling lawn gnome. You can see him comparing his coif with the Washington Monument, hanging with movie stars at Sundance, watching a kickboxing tournament in Thailand, or wandering among Mayan ruins in the Yucatan. It's a beautiful site, particularly if you're a Grimley fan.
Meanwhile, today's an excuse to post a classic scene from The Three Amigos:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

March 25

Hope the new layout doesn't bother you; I was getting sick of adjusting the sizes on the clips, and I still don't know how to HTML. I'll learn what I can and tweak here and there as we go...


Today absolutely belongs to Richard O'Brien, mastermind of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. It retains its title as the longest consecutively running theatrical release, a.k.a., longest running movie ever.
I used to haunt the monthly screenings at the Kentucky Theater (which are still going on, but where would I put the kids?) and I remember what the experience was like. The movie itself is about discovering that inner freak, that part of oneself that doesn't fit in and doesn't want to be told to 'behave' and conform. Sexuality is a big part of it, darkness is a big part of it (I think "Rocky Horror" is a more concise explanation of the modern Goth philosophy than any ten vampire flicks), and then, there's that irrestible music... It's the White Castle of movies; no one pretends it's good for you, and yet so many people swear by it.
I'm even a fan of the semi-sequel, so let that fact gauge what you will of my insights. But "Rocky Horror" is a seminal work to me, and well worth celebrating. So, get out of your chairs, and let's do this:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

March 24

Today's for one of the ultimate That Guys: partly for his prolific career, partly for his performances in some great cult films, and partly because his name's William Smith. This guy has played more bad bikers, vampires, gunslingers, and assassins than any actor I know. He was the last Marlboro Man on TV. He's Conan's father, for crying out loud!
And he's not just an actor. He served in the Air Force during the Korean War, spoke five languages, taught Russian at UCLA... Was a world-class arm-wrestling champion and competitive bodybuilder that set a world record by reverse curling his own body weight... He's got a 31-1 amateur boxing record and he used to have security clearance with the CIA and NSA (until he married a French actress.) He's even fought California wildfires as a volunteer fireman.
As far as acting goes, he's been a hero, and even a lead, in such 60's TV shows as Zero One, Laredo, and Wildside. But he's most utilized as a villain: some key roles include Falconetti in both series of "Rich Man Poor Man", the Russian Commander in "Red Dawn", Jude Bohner in "Gunsmoke", and Pharoah in "Legend of the Roller Blade Seven". Hey, when you approach 300 film and TV appearances, they can't all be winners. I still think that he's the next guy deserving a Tarantino career resurrection. A Tarantino film with William Smith above the title on the movie poster? Think of the opening weekend numbers!
Anyway, here's the climactic fist fight in "Any Which Way You Can", between Smith and Clint Eastwood. The setup is, they're two of the best bare-knuckle brawlers in the world. After spending the entire movie becoming friends and fending off the pressure to fight (from mobsters, promoters, etc,) they start to wonder who'd actually win. One thing leads to another, and...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

March 23

I'm writing about Kevin Paul Godfrey, a.k.a. Epic Soundtracks, the British drummer who co-founded the Swell Maps with his brother, Nikki Sudden, in the late 70's. The Swell Maps first made waves in the wake of the Punk revolution, but their reputation is built more on who came after: Wire, Sonic Youth, lo-fi... Heck, before yesterday, I would have thought "Heard About Seymour" was an Artic Monkeys cover:

The Swell Maps rocked until 1980; Epic continued recording solo and collaborative stuff until he died in his sleep in 1997. His brother (who himself passed away in 2006) maintains that Epic died from a broken heart.
He was getting props from 90's alt-rock cogniscenti when his first solo album came out (he got assists from guys from Dinosaur Jr, The Lemonheads, Sonic Youth, The Waterboys...) But I haven't found any clips of his songs online. So here's another Swell Maps track for ya:

Monday, March 22, 2010

March 22

Today's William Shatner day in Trek-dom, but of course, he's much more. He's not just a cop,a negotiator, and a Starship captain; he's a philosopher. Here's a track from his last album, produced by Ben Folds, called "You'll Have Time":

Saturday, March 20, 2010

March 21

Two for two on the treasure clips; Vivian Stanhall was born today, so I have an excuse to talk about the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, along with a classic video in my mind, from my years watching Night Flight until dawn:

March 20

I slacked off again, catching up with the rest of my life. That's okay; I know that if I'd given it more thought, I still would have had to mention Fred Rogers. Anything to show this clip of Mr Rogers testifying before Congress about the benefits of public broadcasting for children viewers.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

March 19th

Some people might find this tasteless, but I can't help writing about Tommy Cooper, considered one of Britain's all-time favorite comedians. His primary schtick was bad puns between failed magic tricks, which went over huge with post-WWII audiences all over the UK.

What fascinates me is Tommy Cooper's final show, at Her Majesty's Theatre, for a 1984 broadcast TV special. He was performing his 'magic cloak' bit, an old standard where random objects of increasing ludicrousness emerge from his tunic and such, when, in a twist, he collapsed onstage.

He tumbles behind the curtain, with only his feet in view; the audience, still laughing. Meanwhile, the crew backstage realize it's not an act. As the story goes, the broadcasters cut to commercial, while his crawler (secret assistant) pulls him in from behind the curtain; when his feet disappear, the audience starts roaring again. The show must go on, so it did, while the ambulance arrived and medics attempted to revive him. He never made it to the hospital.
Some people find his death a tragic moment, as tragic as any death can be. But I also think it's a compelling story (and I'm not the only one; someone's looking to make a movie about the last week of his life.) A comedian who left them laughing: how many lives have that kind of poetry?

March 18

Today's post is for Miki Berenyi, vocalist for 90's shoegazer band Lush. Listening to Lush takes me back to college, trying to learn computer programming, and sneaking off to the local radio station to play records until dawn. Lush made for a great soundtrack at 3AM, when you're the only human awake and you feel like a spacewalk.
The band lasted until 1998; Miki found a new career in publishing. Even with an online campaign encouraging her to return to the mic, she's voiced contentment for her lot in life. At least we have the songs...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

March 17

Appropriate for the holiday, today's birthday toast goes to Mark Gunn, half of the quasi-legendary Brobdingnagian Bards. They're legends to you if you're familiar with the genre of music known as "filk singing", or "filking". Basically, fantasy convention sing-a-longs. The Bards haven't just played renaissance fairs, though; their Celtic-tinged flights of fancy have garnered over 5 million mp3 downloads, and earned them the house band slot at the Oscar party for Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.

Even though the Bards are history, Mark Gunn remains with an autoharp slung across his chest and a keyboard at the ready, producing five podcasts a week and recording his solo compositions.
Meanwhile, here's another look at the Bards, performing a song from my favorite episode of "Firefly"

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

March 16

I finally learned the name of the guy who sings one of my favorite songs: Jimmy Nail. Born James Bradford, he's got That Guy status in the UK, with an unforgettable face and smooth voice that has cast him in several BBC shows. He's most recognized in the UK for his cop show "Spender," and as one of the stars of "Auf Wiedersein, Pet". In the US, his highest profile role is probably his appearance in "Evita."

He's also had a bit of music chart success, as well, having been cast as singers and musicians here and there. That's how I first learned about this guy, from the movie "Still Crazy". He's one of the "B" stories of the film, the frustrated bassist Les, who always had to stay in the background while the others wrestled for the spotlight. Twenty years later, he almost doesn't join the reunion, with a family, construction job, and center of his own universe. But he does, and at the biggest show of their career, on the verge of splintering all over again, the band finally lets him take the mic with one of his own songs, "The Flame Still Burns." It becomes a healing moment for the band (in that over-the-top way that only movies can sell) and a decent rock ballad, to boot.
"The Flame Still Burns" was one of the film's Golden Globe Nominations in 1999. And if the YouTube clip I found is to believed, I'm not the only one that loves this song.

Monday, March 15, 2010

March 15

It's a dance party on the Ides of March, courtesy of Boris Durdevic, composer/DJ of the Croatian band Colonia. Since they got Croatia in the Eurovision radar (4th place, 2000), Colonia has been one of the biggest music acts to come out of their homeland. I picked "C'est La Vie" because I hoped it was a Robbie Neville cover, but it turned out to be a Matrix-tribute music video. That's a fair trade to me...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

March 14

Here's a quick tribute to Doris Eaton Travis, centenarian. And she didn't make it past 100 by hiding in her house and eating wheat grass; she also happens to be the last living member of the Ziegfield girls, the original Broadway babes. After her time onstage and in early sound films, she taught dance with Arthur Murray, eventually spearheading the company's Midwest enterprise. When she retired from teaching, she opened a horse ranch in Oklahoma that she still manages to this day. In the 90's, she returned to show business, in retrospectives for the Ziegfield Follies - and an appearance in the Jim Carrey movie Man in the Moon.
Anyway, here's a tribute from a few years back, but the sentiment applies today. Happy Birthday, Doris; keep on dancin...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

March 13

Can't resist writing about "Scatman John" Larkin, a jazz pianist who used his stuttering to become a global sensation. But first, he learned the piano to avoid having to speak in public. He played in jazz clubs in LA in the 70's and 80's; as he told it, he filled a closet with unsold copies of his debut album.
In the 90's, he got a new start with a new wife and a new climate: Germany, which offered audiences more receptive to his throwback style of jazz. He was also encouraged to try mixing his scat-style with modern-day dance beats. He was still worried about his stuttering, so on his first single, that's exactly what he sang about.

The 1994 song was a Number 1 hit in seven countries, and "Scatman" mania had begun. By the time he passed away at the end of the decade, he had released over a dozen singles off of three albums and become a global phenomenon. He also received an award from American-Speech-Language-Hearing Association, for bringing his stuttering to light, and demonstrating that when dealing with a perceived defect, it can become a strength...
P.S. While he was a one-hit wonder in the US (just brushing the top 40), he was globally huge, so here's another trip to "Scatman's World":

Friday, March 12, 2010

March 12

Happy Birthday to Marlon Jackson, as underappreciated a Jackson as any not named Michael, Janet, or Samuel. He was the sixth born in the family, slightly older than Michael and Janet; wonder if that explains how things turned out. He was also the fourth of the Jackson 5, and while he didn't have the raw talent that his younger siblings did (or even his older siblings,) he had the family work ethic, so he developed his performing skills to keep up with his brothers.
He stuck through their transition to The Jacksons, right through Michael's post-Thriller success. He shocked the family when he left the band after the Victory tour and tried out for a solo career of his own.
But here's the thing: he seemed to find a stronger life outside the limelight than his siblings. For one thing, he's celebrating 35 years of marriage this year, with three kids and two grandkids; he's the only Jackson boy to never divorce. For another, he's found more success offstage than on - as a real estate agent and investor (although there's still some controversy about that resort development in Badagry, Nigeria.) Perhaps that's why his solo career was one album and done; besides the occasional reunion with his brothers, he seems happy with a relatively normal life.
Anyway, here's the Jacksons single, "Body", which was written, produced, and sung lead by Marlon. The video is as cheesy-sexy as 80's videos get, but you can still see Marlon might just be the Charlie Hustle* of the Jacksons.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

March 11

Happy Birthday to an invisible icon, voice actor Rob Paulsen. He wanted to be a hockey player, but found work as an actor in the early 80's, which led to his calling for the last three decades: animation. Depending on who's closing their eyes, listeners to Paulson's voice will hear Jesse Blue, Yakko Warner, Raphael the Ninja Turner, Carl Wheezer, Arthur the moth-garbed sidekick, Mighty Max, or any of over 250 roles.
For the occasion, I found this montage of non sequitors from the character that won Paulsen a Daytime Emmy. From 'Pinky and the Brain,' here's Pinky's answers to the reliable question, "Are you pondering what I"m pondering?":

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

March 10

What's German for Happy Birthday? Let's say 'Alles gute zum gerbetstag!' to Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen, or as he is mercifully called, simply "Uwe". Uwe happens to be a music star in his native Germany, and it's his keyboard prowess that propelled Nena onto the global charts of the 80's. Even if the girl wears the name, you can't spell Nena without Uwe, apparently...
Let's be real: what's the best part of '99 Luftballons'? Is it Nena's teutonic accent, or is it that synthesizer breakdown at the bridge? Whether it's '99 Luftballons' (literally '99 Toy Balloons') or '99 Red Balloons', it's Uwe's music that carries the lyrics. [BTW, I'm going on record as preferring the 'Red Balloon' version.] But even this 2008 version is fetchy:

Resurrecting Nena the band is only one thing on Uwe's itenerary. He also worked on the comeback for Kim Wylde, produced soundtracks for Television and movies (including the North American releases Igby Goes Down and All the Queen's Men,) and appeared as a judge on Germany's version of Popstars. So he's a big deal in Germany.
In fact, I wanted to find something with Uwe's face, and found this German animated cartoon, featuring a dinner party at Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's place. He's the fauxhawk on the left.

So get a red balloon today and let it fly. Unless you live on the 38th Parallel.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

March 9

Keely Smith was half of one of the most popular musical duos in '50s music. Her partnership with Louis Prima was part Martin and Lewis, part Lucy and Ricky, with her offering deadpan reactions to Prima's hyperactive goofball antics.

Their partnership didn't quite last a decade (apparently, his manic energy was more than an act) but her solo career was already in motion before the act broke up. In fact, her first hit single, the title track off the "I Wish You Love" album, remains one of her signature songs.

This song, by the way, was a favorite of a friend of mine; he wanted it for his funeral. I never got to attend, so I'm going to take a moment, pour a non-alcoholic drink, and listen to what he wanted to wish everyone with his final farewell. It's an odd tangent to present as i write the blog, but I think he'd want to extend this message to you, as well. That was the kind of guy I knew him to be, and the kind of guy I hope to grow up to be.
Back to Keely: She's got an album of Beatles covers that I just have to find someday. She's had two 'comebacks,' in the 80's and in '02, and she still tours, still sings. Keep an ear out for her.

Monday, March 8, 2010

March 8

If you know the name Ralph H Baer, you probably know too much about video games. He's the inventor of the first video game console (The "Odyssey"), from which all video game systems are derived. Sure, that deserves props, especially with how hard his team fought to get credit for their work. Baer touches on those legal fights in an article about the creation of the SIMON game, which is what I'm thanking him for on his birthday.
I mean, video games are nice and all, but back in the day, SIMON was the shizz:

Now, who doesn't want to be Johnny?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

March 7

Here's a birthday nod for Alan Hale, comet hunter; he identified over 200 comets in his career. A former Navy man, he worked on several projects including the Voyager probe before he earned his PhD in astronomy. The most famous discovery of his, (Comet Hale-Bopp, also independently discovered by Thomas Bopp), he discovered from his driveway. You might never know what's in front of your eyes until you know how to look...
In honor of the Professor, let's get out the glowsticks and bop along to "Hale Bopp", a Goa trance track by Der Dritte Raum:

Saturday, March 6, 2010

March 6

Another ThatGuy for the birthday blog: Martin Kove. From the 80's on, he's been cinematic shorthand for 'bad news': the deputy that got on the wrong side of John Rambo in "First Blood", the lethal Cobra Kai sensai John Kreese in the "Karate Kid" series, the malevolent Mr Lee in "Shootfighter", and too many tough guys on too many TV shows. Here's a trailer for his 80's bid to action hero-dom:

He's always hinted at more: he was in the casts of Merchant-Ivory's first North American productions(no, they weren't kickboxing movies.)
Anyway, he's a working-class hero as actors go; this year alone, he has credits forthcoming in a dozen DTV projects, mostly monster movies and fight flicks. Maybe he'll get invited to the next Expendables movie...
Meanwhile, here's an 80's tv show that never got a chance; "Terminator" meets "Lilo and Stitch". Another time, another place, this could have been a 40-episode classic, minimum. Has it even ever aired on the SyFy Channel? Here's "Hard Time on Planet Earth":

Friday, March 5, 2010

March 5

So why was Piero Paulo Pasolini murdered? He frustrated the powers that be in Italy for his pro-communist, anti-consumerist views, he frustrated the church for his athiest and homosexual artistic works, he frustrated the communists for his sympathies with the policemen (who were, in his view, lower-class soldiers fighting battles they didn't understand against upper-class-bred intellectual communists; see why he might consider that a contradiction?) and he frustrated certain political elements with his implications about the prevalence of organized crime in national politics (his final, unfinished novel is a story about a 'white coup')
So he had plenty of enemies, and he didn't run himself over with his own car several times. But he had enough supporters who didn't believe that Pasolini was killed because of a badly negotiated sex transaction, even before the hustler's confession was retracted. But who? The mob? The Vatican? The government? Really pro-active film critics?
Actually, it's his films that I know, his films that have the most global reknown. On one end of the spectrum, there's his Gospel According to St Matthew, nominated for three Academy Awards and still considered one of the most best cinematic tellings of Christ's life ever made (yes, he was an atheist at the time of production.) On the other end of the spectrum, his final film, an extremely vivid and politicized adaption of the Marquis De Sade's 120 Days of Sodom, is still banned several countries to this day. In fact, Pasolini's murder happened before the global release of Salo, implicating the film as another possible motive for his murder.
While I'm not about to post Salo on here, I found a short film (music video, kinda) he directed for a collection, about the discarding of two marrionettes. It has all the Pasolini strengths: arresting images, bizzare juxtapositions, fanfare for the common man, ending that's 90% bummer, 10% uplift:

And now for something completely different: here's some English intellectuals, distilling the peculiarities of Pasolini in their own medium:

Thursday, March 4, 2010

March 4

So how about a birthday for David Matthews? Not Dave Matthews, the tremolous, eponymous jam bandleader of the 90's and beyond (his birthday's January 9th); David Matthews, the jazz keyboardist who made his name in the 70's with his eponymous band and/or the Manhatten Jazz Quintet, as well as jamming with folks like James Brown and Nina Simone. Nowadays, you need a friend in Japan to track down any of his music, old or new. But maybe, if you're lucky, you know a turntablist who has his 1977 Dune album, inspired by the novel and other science fiction classics like Star Wars and Silent Running. Here's the song that he felt he had to call "Sandworms":

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

March 3

She's gonna be mad.
I asked her to pick somebody for today, to try and get her interested in the blog. Couples are supposed to do things together, right? So I asked her to take a look, and she picked a certain movie director who's done rather well for himself, a director that I've actually had the pleasure of working for (for one day,) a director that has three franchises under his belt.
And that's exactly why I feel like I can't write about him today. I mean, Happy Birthday to George Miller, the director that gave Mel Gibson, Nicole Kidman, and ME their big break... sure, all the best. But the guy's doing pretty good for himself; I mean, he turned down the Justice League movie, because he'd rather finish Happy Feet 2 and move on to the next Mad Max movie.
Here's an interview with George Miller, offering some words of wisdom that he won while working in Hollywood:

But I feel obligated to feature somebody like Timo Tolkki, a guitarist who recently ended his tenure in the power metal band Stratovarius. He's included in Guitar World's 50 fastest guitarists. Here's a 2004 live performance that should demonstrate why:

Yup. She's gonna be mad.

March 2

Time snuck up on me, but I can still swig a quick birthday toast to Vincent Walker, lead singer of Suburban Legends. They came to prominence on the tail end of ska's 3rd wave (they're not just from Orange County; they've played Disneyland almost 1000 times!) Suburban Legends barely survived their 'post-ska' phase, an often crippling and even fatal career move (see: Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish, Suicide Machines, The Hippos, Save Ferris...) But they're still kicking, and posting demos of their next, skankariffic album online.
Here's Vincent and the band, performing one of their signature tunes: "Up All Night"

Monday, March 1, 2010

March 1

Today, I'm glad I'm not a podcast, because today, I say "Happy Birthday" to Dafydd Ieuan, drummer for Super Furry Animals, a band that you do not want to play Scrabble with. I know it's probably said like it's spelled, but it's still intimidating to look at for me.
And I apologize for not showing a video that atually has the band in it, but this video's too irresistible for me:

February 29

Just because there's not a February 29 as I'm writing this doesn't mean I'm going to skip it. But it gets me wondering what do leap babies do when their birthday almost comes around? Do they get the 28th to celebrate, or the 1st? Or do they just have really big parties on the 29th?
Anyway, I'm writing about Algerian pop star Khaled, the king of Rai music. On the global stage, his music's harmless, catchy pop music with a few Western accoutrements. In the local community, his music is a political act; rai music doesn't exactly gel with Islamic fundementalists. Heck, women dancing in public doesn't go down well with right-wing Islam; you can imagine their reaction to pleas for tolerance and gender equality, in songs like "Aicha".

Meanwhile he keeps rocking his John Oates mustache, and smiling his platinum smile (he's a genius in France.) In fact, here's the most likely place that North American audiences have heard him:

Happy Birthday, Khaled. Keep on rockin' in the free world...