Calculate your chances...negative...negative...negative!

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Free Zone Playlist 4/30/2006

Saturday night or Sunday morning. Whatever your preference.

I don't remember too much of this show. I was pretty sick. The campus cable channel was running Willie Wonka for some reason. That much, I remeber.

Still playing around with the formatting as well. If anyone knows a good way to get tables in the Blogger template, please let me know.

April 30, 2006
Title Artist Album Label
The Drugs Don't Work The Verve Urban Hymns 1997 Hut
Supahero Aceyealone Magnificient City 2006 Project Blown
Lightning Blue Eyes Secret Machines Ten Silver Drops 2006 WB
Snakes Malcom Kipe Breakbeat Theories 2005 Merck
Munich Editors The Back Room 2006 Kitchenware/Fader
Rip This Joint The Rolling Stones Exile on Main St. 1973 Rolling Stone
Smoke and Wine Hank III Straight to Hell 2006 Curb
Raunchy Bill Justis Sun's Greatest Hits 1992 BMG
Hair of the Dog Shooter Jenninge Electric Rodeo 2006 Universal
Goin' Against Your Mind Built to Spill You in Reverse 2006 WB
In the Fields of Languis Other Desert Cities EP 2006 Pehr
Which Will Nick Drake Pink Moon 1972 Island
She Bangs the Drums The Stone Roses single 1989 Silvertone
1 AM      
500 Deep Airiel EP 2005 Sonicbaby
Iceblink Luck Cocteau Twins Lullabies to Violaine 2006 4AD
Welcome Home (Sanitarium) Metallica Master of Puppets 1986 Elektra
Is It Really Over Jim Reeves The Essential 1995 BMG
Idiot Wind Bob Dylan Blood on the Tracks 1974 CBS
Don Cosmic Don Drummond Studio One Ska 2004 Soul Jazz
2 MGR Nova Lux 2006 Neurot
Welcome to the Terrordome Public Enemy Fear of a Black Planet 1990 Def Jam
Sister Sanctified Stanley Turrintine Cherry 1972 CTI
Still I'm Sad The Yardbirds Greatest Hits 1986 Rhino
Sukie in the Graveyard Belle & Sebastian The Life Pursuit 2006 Matador
Animal Nitrate Suede Suede 1993 Nude
Chicken Talk Yma Sumac Manbo! 1996 The Right Stuff
2 AM      
Up Enablers Output Negative Space 2006 Neurot
Swedish Fish Luna Romantica 2002 JetSet
Sand In My Joints Wire Chairs Missing 1978 Harvest
Do Ya Think I'm Sexy Mark Savage Schoolhouse Funk II 2005 Cali-Tex
Machines Laurent X Acid Classics 2004 Trax
Sign O the Times Prince Sign O the Times 1987 WB
But Not For Me Ella Fitzgerald Jukebox Ella 2003 Verve
Culture for Dollars Dalek Absence 2004 Ipecac
Definition Blackstar Dave Chappelle's Block Party 2006 Geffen
Swanmeat Subtle Wishingbone 2006 Lex
Hideyaface (El-P mix) Prefuse 73 single 2005 Warp
Come Together (Two Lone Swordsmen mix) Spiritualized Abbey Road EP 1998 Arista

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Free Zone Playlist 4/29/2006

Wondering how I could be in Bloomington and still do radio? Well, I'm a magic man.

This would be the Friday night/Saturday morning show. I'm never 100% how to claim it. Is this 4/28 or 4/29? Do you care?

April 29 , 2006
Title Artist Album Label
Wading Through a Ventilator Soft Boys Children Of Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From The Second Psychedelic Era 1976-1996 2005 Rhino
Can-Nana Fever (Jet Version) Guitar Wolf Japan For Sale Volume 4 2004
Immaculate Heart 1 The American Analog Set Set Free 2005
Kyoto Song The Cure Head on the Door 1985 Elektra
Freakin' At The Freakers' Ball Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show The Best of Shel Silverstein His Words His Songs His Friends 2005 Sony
My Kind Of Woman Edwin Starr Northern Soul - Cream Of 60's Soul 2001
Unemployed Black Astronaut Busdriver Fear Of A Black Tangent 2005
Catch The Breeze Slowdive Catch the Breeze 1991 Creation
I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter Scatman Crouthers Gone Gone Gone With Scatman Crothers 1956 Crown
Oh Yeah! Joe Cuba Sextet Rough Guide to Boogaloo 2005
Particles & Waves The Cranes Particles & Waves 2004
Weeping - Water Rate (12" Discomix) Jr. Byles And I-Roy Rock On: Greatest Hits From The Observer2002 Heartbeat
I'm Sick Trevor Dunn's Trio-Convulsant Sister Phantom Owl Fish 2004
Help! Madame Cathy Berberian Revolution - An Operatic First by 1967 Fontana
Yellow Submarine Mrs. Miller Wild, Cool & Swingin' 2001 EMI
And Your Bird Can Sing The Beatles Revolver 1967 EMI
1 AM      
Gloria The Electric Prunes Mass in F Minor 1967 Reprise
The Other Jesus Swervedriver Ejector Seat Reservation 1995 Creation
AlienLeonard Nemoy Mr. Spock's Music from Outer Space 1967 Dot
Sci-Fi Monster Violence Akimbo Forging Steel, Laying Stone 2005 Alternative Tentacles
Curvature of the Earth Glide Curvature of the Earth 2004
Don't Be A Stranger Graham Coxon Happiness In Magazines 2004 EMI
Can't Get It Out of My Head ELO Eldorado 1974 UA
Waterloo Sunset The Kinks   1967 Reprise
Lesson 6 The Lecture Cut Chemist Ultimate Lessons 2002
Topaz Les Baxter Colors Of Brazil - African Blue 1999 GNP Crecendo
R.J. Miles Davis Quartet E.S.P. 1966 CBS
Hey Ladies The Beastie Boys Love American Style EP 1989 EMI
Just to Get a Rep Gang Starr Full Clip 1999 EMI
Thieves Quartet: End Titles John Zorn Filmworks III: 1990-1995 1997 Tzadik
This Deed Electralane The Power Out 2004 Too Pure
2 AM      
Censemania Dub Ja-Man Allstars In the Dub Zone 2004 Blood and Fire
Red Sector A Rush Chronicles 1990 Mercury
Less Than Human The Juan MacLean DFA Compilation #2 2004 EMI
Betty's Theme Charles Earland The Dynamite Brothers 1999 BGP
Helicon 2 (Max Tundra Remix) Mogwai Kicking a Dead Pig 1998
Happy Sad Pizzicato Five single 1995
Youth Explosion People Under The Stairs Question in The Form of an Answer 2000
Theme From SWAT Rhythm Heritage single 1976 ABC
Voltage Kraftwelt Electric Dimension1996
Folk Tale Ornette Coleman This is Our Music 1961 Atlantic
Vampire Bat Wesley Willis Greatest Hits 1995
Motel Bambi Luna Rendezvous 2004 JetSet
Man With The Golden Arm Billy May & His Orchestra Ultra-Lounge Volume 07: The Crime Scene 1996 EMI

Friday, April 28, 2006

Good show tonight in Bloomington

I almost forgot about this one. Svetlana was originally supposed to play, but our bass player felt Cochella was more important. (Really, how many times does one person need to see Wilco? ;) )

Airiel is the band of a long time friend of mine, Jeremy Wrenn. He used to live in Bloomington and have a band called Black Olive. Airiel is really top shelf shoegazer/dream pop stuff. I haven't seem Jeremy in years, so this should be fun.

Early Day Miners are great. You should check them out as they are another fine band associated with the Secretly Canadian label out of Bloomington.

Dunno about the other band.

This'll be my first time at the Second Story (finally) so I'm looking forward to it. Say hi if you see me.

DVD Review: Gappa the Triphibian Monsters

Now, before we begin, I'd like to establish credentials. I am a kaiju fan. It's a curse, I'll tell ya, because it's hard to defend watching men in rubber monster suits decimate Tokyo for the millionth time. But, defend I have. I love Gamera movies (which are universally regarded as the cheesiest) and have openly professed my love for "Godzilla's Revenge" and "Godzilla vs. Megalon." However, even I have to draw the line somewhere.

Enter the Gappa.

Gappa, the Triphibian Monsters (1967) (aka Monster from the Prehistoric Planet) was a one-off kaiju film from the Nikkatsu film company who were teetering on the verge of bankruptcy at the time. Believe me, it shows in this film. The plot, as it is, is basically a mix of elements of Gorgo, King Kong, Godzilla vs. Mothra and a few others. If you've seen more than a few kaiju films, you've pretty much seen all this before (well, except for the native boy "Kenny" in blackface. That's a new one on me, anyway.)

The effects are cheap and uninteresting. At no time do you even have the slightest illusion of watching something other than a pair of guys stomping models in gryphon suits. The miniatures are undetailed and bland. The shots are uninteresting. Hell, I even noticed the top of the set in one shot!

It has been said that Gappa was intended as a parody of the genre, which is one explanation for why this film is so riddled with cliches. However, even watching the film with that in mind (and I've sat through this one three times now, god help me) it just doesn't work. Unless it got lost in translation, there just isn't enough humor for me to really see this as parody. Seems to me someone made a half-hearted kaiju film and when the results were this poor, they called it a parody to cover their asses.

As Monster from a Prehistoric Planet, Gappa is a public domain staple. But, the disc I linked to, from Tokyo Shock, is the only one you'll ever need, if you must own this one. It's a flawed disc (to be fair, it came out in 1998) but it's leagues above any other presentation of this film you're going to see in region 1.

First off, Tokyo Shock has letterboxed a decent print of the film for this disc. The public domain print is full screen and any action not happening in the center of the screen is chopped off. Though not anamorphic, just being able to see the whole picture is a big plus.

Gappa is a very dark film visually and while this print is still a big murky in places, you can actually make out detail you can't in the overly dark public domain versions. There is a bit of noise in the dark sections that make this film look like it was transferred from a very good VHS copy rather than a true digital master.

Given the presentation of the film, I think it's safe to if this wasn't taken from VHS, it was taken from the same masters Tokyo Shock used for their VHS versions of this movie. See, they put out two VHS versions of this film, one with English dubbing and one with Japanese dialogue and English subtitles. Both versions are included on this disc, but rather than giving audio and subtitle tracks, each version is included separately just like on the VHS. So it's impossible to turn the subtitles off on the Japanese version or switch between languages on the fly.

I also hate the fact that they decimated the opening credits. I'm not sure why they put their own Gappa logo in the film rather than using the real title sequence. My guess is, they had a Japanese print of the film to work from (they clearly used the same print in both versions) so the titles were probably in Japanese. It's also very distracting they way they overlaid English captions on the screen anywhere there were Japanese ones. (Note: I can cut them some slack because this is from 1998 and this type of thing was more common then. Still, I point it out because no other review I've read has.)

So, I've wasted a lot of words on the disc of a movie I don't think is all that good to begin with. In the end I'd say if you're a completist or find this cheap, go ahead and buy it. I would not, however, recommend paying the $20 list price for an out dated presentation of a poor movie unless you really must see it.

And stay far away from the public domain versions unless you want a headache.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

How not to get Airplay.

I think the absolute worst way to try and get airplay for you band is to send me a email like the following:

"hey you sholud really chek out my band. let me know if you like our mp3s becuz i dont wanna waste a cd


OK, that's a composite of several emails I've received over the years. However, I've seen some sort of variation on that theme many times and it just flat out amazes me.

First off, there is nothing in that email that piques my interest about your band. I get stacks of CDs in the mail every week, all trying to get my attention. Why should I check out your band over all that other stuff? Why should I check out your band at all?

Second, this is a totally unprofessional email. Spelling and grammar are completely out the window. You didn't even use my name! For all I know, this could have been created by a spam bot and, let me tell ya, I don't take too kindly to spam. An email like this says "hey! I can't be bothered to even use spell check. Guess how much effort I put into my music." This is my first impression of your band, and frankly it's not a good one.

The "check out my mp3s because I don't want to waste a CD" line is particularly nice (and an actual line I got in an email.) There is so much wrong with this one sentence, I barely know where to begin. You want me to do something for you (that is, play your music on the radio) but you expect me to work for it (*I* have to download your mp3s) and you insult me on top of that (the two bucks to send me a CD would be a waste?) Huh?

Let me give you a clue, program directors get tons of CDs every week (I know, I keep saying this, sorry.) They don't have time to go to your myspace page, hope it's working, check out your crummy little mp3s, email you back and wait for you to send a CD if they like it. (Note: mp3s are NOT broadcast quality.) Promotion is all about throwing a bunch of money at a wall and hoping some of it sticks. If the two bucks it's going to cost you to mail even a CD-R is going to break your bank, you seriously need to scale down your rockstar dreams.

Of course, linking to your site is better than the alternative, which is to attach a bunch of mp3s to the email. Yeah, thanks for filling up my inbox with your shitty music I didn't ask for. Electronic Press Kits (or EPKs) are another fun one. Perhaps they mean something to other people, but I don't book shows so I don't really need 4 jpgs of your band logo or all your press clippings, thanks.

Anyway, that's about all the chuckles I can wring from this particular email. There's more where that came me.

Random Blog that Amuses me.

Hanzi Smatter - dedicated to the misuse of Chinese characters in Western culture.

Sort of like Engrish in reverse. For the life of me, I've never understood how or why people could get words tattooed on their body when they are not fluent in the language. Especially considering so many Western people have a fundamental misunderstanding of how written Eastern language works (hint: those nifty lookin' characters aren't an alphabet like ours, no matter what that font you downloaded is telling you.)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

One Giant Leap backwards for Mankind

I recently put aside my dislike of the modern Disney company and bought the Walt Disney Treasures - Tomorrowland Disney in Space and Beyond collection (still easy to find and cheap despite being out of print.) For anyone who is a fan of atom age science or animation, this collection is essential. This collection, consisting mostly of episodes of "Walt Disney Presents" from the mid to late 50s, is extremely smart and fascinating. It's a nifty picture of how close science back then was to what we know today, as well as some of the ways they were off the mark as well (the "Our Friend the Atom" show is especially naive, a fact made all the more potent by the fact that I coincidentally watched it on the eve of the twentieth anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.)

As I was watching these shows, a few things struck me. Disney really went all out for these programs. As someone who used to really be into NASA and the space program, I recognized many of the scientists they featured in the program. These weren't just puny pundits, these were the bleeding edge scientists of the day, delivering what was then the most accurate information we knew about space travel in a way that was absolutely riveting (even in the bits I knew were outdated.)

I have a really hard time imagining today's family gathering around the television set on a Sunday night for almost an hour of hard science, no matter how entertainingly it was packaged. Yet, it would seem that fifty years ago, people did just that. Don't get me wrong, these shows are fun to watch, but they also deliver some pretty serious science. And despite the use of animation to illustrate some points (and despite the Disney name,) never once do these shows talk down to the audience. I can't imagine modern television actually trying to bring people up rather than talking them down.

I was also really stunned by the special effects and animated sequences they created to show their best guess at the time of how space exploration would work. I've seen a ton of sci-fi from the era and these programs equal some of the best of the time. In fact, I think only George Pal (War of the Worlds, Destination Moon) did better and watching these shows really makes me wish Disney had produced an outer space movie in the 50s as it would have been fantastic. In fact, several of these shows were released theatrically as featurettes.

As mentioned in Leonard Maltin's introductions, these effects and animation didn't come cheap. It's impressive to think that a studio would spend that kind of money for what was essentially an educational program just because the head of the studio felt it was important for the public to understand these concepts. These days we have programming created as cheaply as possible, by committee for the lowest common denominator, resulting in things such as endless variations on "reality" TV. I can't see anyone green lighting such elaborate shows as these now.

I'm not trying to say modern trash TV doesn't have a place. It does. It just makes me sad that there isn't much of an alternative to it anymore. Sure, you can watch the "bug channel" or the "Hitler channel," if you have cable. Even many of those shows seem to be thrown together on the cheap to fill time rather than having a clear vision behind them.

To see something like this pass for mainstream television entertainment fifty years ago and contrast it with what passes as mainstream modern television entertainment today is just a shocking contrast. Even if we consider these shows "family" entertainment and we try to compare apples to apples, I don't even know what passes for family entertainment these days. America's Funniest Home Videos? Nothing like ball to the groin jokes for the whole family.

Of course, the flip side to this, and the popular excuse whenever people mention the death of intelligent, quality programming, is the old "we're just giving the people what they want" defense. Given, I doubt you could put something on the air today like the sequence explaining evolution in the "Mars and Beyond" episode without some people complaining and threatening boycotts, so maybe there is something to that.* Still, I think it's a "chicken and egg" scenario at best.

I'm glad this collection exists, not just because I sincerely enjoy these old shows, but also because I think they show how far we've advanced scientifically as well as how we've taken a big step backwards as a society. Well, at least as a TV watching society, anyway.

* It really makes me sad to have written that sentence. I never thought I'd live in an age were people wish to roll back scientific discovery and where willful ignorance is celebrated as a virtue, yet here I am.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

All This and World War II

Someone PLEASE hook me up with a copy of this movie.



I'm begging.

(more info about this movie courtesy of the always entertaining Phil Hall at Film Threat.)

Thrift scores, past weekend edition.

I wanted to blog some over the weekend, but it was jam packed with excitement, so I couldn't slow down long enough to fire up the computer. I did have a minute to duck my head in a thrift store and came out with a couple of items.

(not my images, sorry, didn't have time to snag those either.)

First off, snagged a couple of records. Got the first volume of the Salsoul Christmas record, which fills both a niche in the disco Christmas category and the Salsoul catalog. Salsoul put out some amazing stuff. This is not among it. Still, it's better than some of the anonymous studio orchestra disco Christmas records I've acquired over the years and I think I have all the Christmas stuff they put out now.

Now this record is a real crap shoot. On the plus side, the cover, which you can't see too well here, is funky as all hell. It's on Command, a mark of quality, IMHO, and the great Don Sebesky is the arranger. Strikes against? Well, it's Doc Severinsen (the old Tonight Show band leader) who I've never know to make a record that wasn't corny. And, as much as I like Sebesky, he had his share of cornball tracks too.

Here's the track listing, let's count this as a mixed strike, shall we?

Side 1:
The Court of the Crimson King
Surfer Girl
Give Me Just A Little More Time

Side 2:
Footprints of the Giant
Power to the People
Abbey Road Medley

King Crimson and early Beach Boys together at last??? Sign me up!

I'm looking forward to this one. It's either going to blow mightily (likely) or rule the barren Earth.

I also snagged a couple of Laserdiscs, which is always a dicey proposition. The last batch of thrift store lasers I got, were all, with one exception, in various stages of laser rot and pretty much garbage. Honestly, I can only remember one title, which I'm kind of embarrassed to say is "Simply Mad About the Mouse." It's not on DVD, so I'm planning on transferring it and hoping to use it as tradebait. The other disc is 11 Harrowhouse. Nothing I'd heard of, but I have a thing for early 70s cinema, so who knows. It's a fairly recent letterboxed transfer, so again, it may be transfer and tradebait time.

Free Zone Charts 4/25

I used to throw these up on IMN but I haven't for a while. What "these" are are the top 30 and adds we send to CMJ, which is like the college radio version of Billboard. To some people, these lists are very importaint.

Top 30:

# ARTIST Recording
1 SOUL POSITION Things Go Better With RJ And AL
2 MCLUSKY Mcluskyism
4 THE COUP Pick A Bigger Weapon
6 KIERAN HEBDEN AND STEVE REID The Exchange Session: Vol. 1
8 BRIEF CANDLES They Live, We Sleep
9 MORRISSEY Ringleader Of The Tormentors
10 HANK III Straight To Hell
11 DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS A Blessing And A Curse
12 MURS AND 9TH WONDER Murray's Revenge
14 PARTS AND LABOR Stay Afraid
15 COCTEAU TWINS Lullabies For Violaine: Singles And Extended Plays 1982-1996
16 NIGHTMARES ON WAX In A Space Outta Sound
17 MONO You Are There
19 MADLIB Beat Konducta Vol. 1-2: Movie Scenes
21 APATHY Eastern Philosophy
22 ROY ORBISON The Essential Roy Orbison
23 LOOSE FUR Born Again In The USA
24 GODDAKK Monument To A Ruined Age
25 BUILT TO SPILL You In Reverse
26 WILDERNESS Vessel States
29 AFX Chosen Lords
30 KNIGHTS OF THE NEW CRUSADE A Challenge Of The Cowards Of Christendom


# ARTIST Recording
1 FUTURE PIGEON The Echodelic Sounds Of Future Pigeon
3 ZOMBI Surface to air
4 DYSRHYTHMIA Barries And Passages
5 WOLFMOTHER Wolfmother

Saturday, April 22, 2006

11am Air Raid

Wanted to say hi and thanks for the mention to Jim at 11am Air Raid another fine Indy blogger who also misses the Chippy.

Would the last b-boy to leave my head please turn out the lights?

Alzheimer's runs in my family and to be honest, it does scare me a bit from time to time. I watched my Great Grandmother slowly slide into that void and it was heartbreaking. Also saw a Great Grandfather on the other side of the family go into what we're all pretty sure was undiagnosed Alzheimer's and that was pretty sad as well. As I get older, I've already noticed myself becoming more and more spacy and it's hard not to psych myself out into wondering if I'm already starting to lose it.

It's mostly just little things. Dates and names are always bad, details are sometimes fuzzy. I just tend to get a little flighty sometimes, usually with short term stuff. Nothing that has me alarmed or anything, but it does get frustrating from time to time to have something right on the tip of my tongue and not be able to spit it out.

Hell, as I went to write this, I realized I'd already forgotten my password to log in here. Heh.

There is one thing about this situation I find slightly amusing though. If, somewhere down the road, I do end up with Alzehimer's or dementia or some other brain eating disease, I think I've already discovered what the last thing out of my head will be: golden age rap lyrics. It's strange, but it's true.

When I'm out on my walk with my iPod Shuffle (truly the greatest gift to an exerciser ever) lyrics to recent music passes me by. Even albums I've played the hell out of, I could barely tell you song titles, let alone lyrics. But let any hip hop from the time of Kool Moe Dee to Doggystyle come on, not only can I recite all the lyrics, I can tell you when and where I got the album, how much I paid, what samples they used and what the video looks like, if there was one.

The other day it was Kool G. Rap's "Road to the Riches" (Camelot music at Washington Square mall, 1992, cutout bin, $3.99, Marley Marl produced, the beat is Billy Joel's "Stiletto" from 52nd Street and the video reminded me a lot of Godfather 1.) I mean it's baffling to me why all this useless info is in there, but there it is.

My only theory is, I've been a music freak all my life (how many five year olds you know had crates of vinyl? Well, you know this one. Seriously.) Up to the time I discovered hip hop, all of my music was pretty much hand me downs. Yeah, I got into the early MTV pop when I started buying music (first 7", "Cars" - Gary Numan) but the largest portion of what I was listening to was old garage sale records (courtesy of the same Great Grandmother I mentioned earlier). I pretty much grew up listening to Enoch Light and Silver Apples for no other reason than that's what Grandma found at the garage sales.

When I got a little older and could actually buy albums, somehow I got into hip hop. That's what I listened to during most of my "impressionable" teenage years, though I also became a thrifter and built up a huge library of older stuff as well (habits die hard and all.) Aside from a brief flirtation with metal, golden age hip hop was the soundtrack to my teens.

I never was a popular kid, but one thing I became known for was being in the know about music, specifically hip hop. I made mixtapes for people. I DJed parties on occasion. I carried a Walkman as a constant companion and when people tired of the novelty of me, I retreated back into the music.

How a white kid from the 'burbs got into rap at a time when you still had to search to find it, I really don't know. I'm sure the youthful rebellion factor played a part, though honestly I remember my folks having a much bigger problem with Anthrax than Public Enemy. It could be that it was a fairly exotic sound, especially compared to the classic rock and lounge stuff I was surrounded with. It could also be that as a loner, I didn't have an interest in listening to what the other kids I knew did.

Honestly though, I really think it just struck me in that unexplainable way that things do when they hit a person's pleasure zone. It's almost a rite of passage that, sometimes in a person's teens, they discover "their" music. For me, for whatever reason, my music happened to be hip hop.

As I got older, I lost touch with hip hop. It seemed to me like "The Chronic" changed things for the worse and everything started sounding like fifth rate NWA. Though I missed out on a lot of good stuff, I also got a chance to throw myself into alt-rock, jazz, punk, reggae and funk, which kind of brought me back to hip hop. Nowadays, I find myself almost full circle, as most of the new music I listen to is hip hop, and again I find myself having to dig to find the good stuff. Soft spot for Lil' Jon aside, the mainstream stuff is pretty abysmal, though there's a vibrant underground scene which reminds me of all the reasons I got into hip hop in the first place.

Oddly though, no matter how many times I listen to Lyrics Born, MF Doom or Atmosphere, it's still Rakim and Big Daddy Kane occupying the lyric storage in my head. I don't know if that's a commentary on the music or if it's just my head is so full of entire episodes of Yo! MTV Raps! that I've got room for nothing else.

Just for fun, here's an off the top of my head list of 10 golden age hip hop records you should check out. Not a top 10, mind you. Just 10 that came to mind:

- Paid in Full - Eric B. & Rakim (make sure you get a copy with the "7 Minutes of Madness" remix of the title track. What Coldcut did to that track is still influential.)
- Long Live the Kane - Big Daddy Kane
- Radio - LL Cool J
- It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back - Public Enemy
- Del La Soul is Dead - De La Soul
- To the East Blackwards - X Clan
- Wolf in Sheep's Clothing - Black Sheep
- Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde - the Pharcyde
- All for One - Brand Nubian
- Rhyme Pays - Ice-T

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Cynicism, drowning in music, burning out, etc...

Once upon a time, I would have thought getting 25+ CDs in the mail every week for free would have been the greatest thing ever.

That was before it actually started happening.

For those of you who don't know, I co-host a radio show called The Free Zone. We're only on the air six hours a week (which actually is kind of a lot considering the rest of the time the station is jazz and classical) but we report our "top 30" to the CMJ, which is like the college equivalent of Billboard. What that means is everyone wants to send us music in hopes we'll chart it.

It's all a very silly game but that's the way it works. Personally, I don't care about the charts at all. That stuff is all business side of things (and anyone who thinks the world of indie labels is different from the majors, it's really not) and I don't give a crap about it. I'm just there to play records and have fun.

We get paid a little to do the show, but the big perk aside from just the intrinsic enjoyment of doing the show is getting free CDs. Tons and tons of free CDs. And some of them are even worth listening to.

That's where it gets bad. See, we get all kinds of stuff. We get the "hot" new bands that they're trying to sell to college radio. We get most of the larger underground hip hop records (which doesn't piss me off at all as I'm finding that to be where some of the most creative music is happening right now.) We also get non sequitur type stuff, like some ELO reissues I got recently (again, didn't piss me off at all, but left me scratching my head as to why they sent it to us.)

Unfortunately, so much of what we get sounds the same. Guys, guitars, loud, whining/screaming. Occasionally some retro dance beats dropped on top. Or sensitive guy or gal with acoustic guitar, quiet, singing about feelings or some shit. It gets really old after a while.

I'm finding myself in a spot where it's becoming hard to determine what is good anymore as I'm just getting numb to it all. Most of what we get comes stickered with tons of hyperbole on the artist. Some days I believe all of it. Some days, none. Some days I listen to things and they literally go in one ear and out the other.

As an added bonus, I'm finding it hard to make time to listen to things I really enjoy, either things we got in the mail or albums I bought. I've still got CDs I bought that I haven't listened to yet because I'm constantly combing through promos, though I'm buying too much stuff these days. When I do have time, I'm usually pretty fatigued from listening to other stuff that I'll choose to do something else.

You know, I even feel silly complaining about this. I mean, I'm getting tons of CDs for free. But the problem is, 85% of them are CDs I don't want and I kinda have to listen to them a little to determine what to play on the show. It's just overwhelming but I guess it's worth it for the handful of things that I am interested in that I don't have to pay for.

It just seems to me like this is a real low period for indie rock. If you're not into screamo, Franz Ferdinand, Bright Eyes or mystic man-child "folk", there's not a ton out there for you.

I think that's why I've rekindled my interest in movies so much. When I was younger, I was a total freak for movies. In fact, had I not discovered music, I probably would have been Quentin Tarantino (for better or for worse.) I'm not naive enough to think all is rosy with the world of film, but I'm not involved enough to see that side of things. I can just sit back and watch a DVD and not think about anything.

Hopefully, sometime soon, I'll be able to rekindle my interest in music. I'm working on something that I think will help (announcement coming soon) but even then, I know it's going to take a while.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Cheepnis: Digiview and edits.

Digiview is another company to look out for on the dollar DVD scene. For the most part, their releases seem to be acceptable or better quality, which at this price range is about all you can ask for. There's also the fact that they've been licensing exclusive content, including some truly terrible Korean anime.

But wait. All is not well as apparently some of their newer licensed movies ("Amnesia" and "Prophet's Game") are edited for content. It's also no uncommon to see claims of some of their older movies being edited as well. Theories as to why usually center around the company's strong ties to Wal-Mart and that company's "family friendly" face. Among the older titles claimed to have gotten the chop are "Satanic Rites of Dracula", "Don't Look in the Basement" and "The Street Fighter."

I checked my "Basement" disc and since I still haven't seen the film, I just did a check against a Brentwood copy of same (from the "Nightmares from the Crypt" set) and IMDB. Here's what I got:

IMDB: 89 min / Australia:92 min
Brentwood (Nightmares From the Crypt): 1:29:11
Digiview: 1:28:18!

So it would seem, at least just comparing timing, Digiview lost about a minute somewhere. Honestly, I don't have the time to compare these side by side, but if someone familiar with the film wants to, be my guest. :)

I'm pretty sure at some time in the past I did a time comparison on "Satanic Rites" and came up with the same length as everyone else's. I'll pick up a copy of "the Street Fighter" eventually and see what that turns up.

I'm curious as to what other titles have been cut and who made the cuts. In the case of "Amnesia" and "Prophet's Game", I wonder if they didn't just use TV prints of those, as they are pan and scan as well.

Hopefully, if Digiview is making edits themselves, this is just a few isolated incidents and not a corporate policy. As I mentioned, it is not uncommon to find a TV print on a dollar DVD and I think most people will reluctantly accept that if it's the only version of a film out there. The problem comes in if Digiview is making cuts on their own for video. It's also problematic when the package says "Rated R" and shows an uncut running time but the disc inside is something different.

Yes, I know we're approaching the "what do you want for a dollar" end of the spectrum, but I don't think, at the very least having the exculsives unedited is too much to ask.

Here's a couple of links for you, and I'd encourage anyone interested to join the popmusicpopculture Yahoo group as that's where this discussion originated.

Digiview's snappy new website
Scroll down for some links to reviews of the licensed stuff
Anime review

Monday, April 17, 2006

Cheapnis: Meet Brentwood

(Here's another one from the vaults, updated a little. My healing wrist isn't up for much typing today, so have a re-run.)

For my Cheepnis series, I'll touch on some companies I feel are worth mentioning for various reasons. The low end DVD market can be a very confusing place, but there are some people who put out discs that I feel merit special attention.

Among genre film fans, Brentwood (now known as BCI) is truly a company people love to hate. On one hand, they offer some fantastic films (as well as a bunch of crap ones) in cheap 4, 10 or 20 packs. There's a lot of stuff you'll only find on Brentwood discs as they license a lot of stuff exclusively (or so they say) in addition to putting out public domain flix. Their product has been easy to find, and they do a fairly good job of putting a "themed" collection together, at least for the 4 packs.

The flip side is, like most cheapie DVD companies, they use whatever master they have available. This means a lot of stuff is sourced from VHS and it's not uncommon to find pan and scan TV prints on a Brentwood disc. Additionally, many people question the legality of some of their releases, but it seems like someone is questioning the legality of releases from every low budget label.

At any rate, I own a ton of Brentwoods because they offer a lot of exclusive titles and you can get them dirt cheap through Amazon. If you're in to Kung Fu or horror, you really need to check some of their titles out. If you can get past the unpredictability of the prints, you're likely to find some gems.

I should note that since I first wrote this, Brentwood has started the process of rebranding themselves as BCI and upscaling their product line. They've entered the highly profitable area of old TV shows on DVD, though they are still skewing to a more cult audience. From what I understand, the quality of these discs is in line with what you'd expect from a mainstream DVD release, albeit with a price to match.

Though I don't think Brentwood/BCI is putting out the Mega-Packs anymore, they're still very easy to find and cheap to boot. I've also noticed they're breaking up many of the 4-packs into single discs and shipping them off to the dollar bins at Family Dollar. Here's a couple of Brentwood sites that you may find helpful, if you decide to brave these sometimes murky waters:

Brentwood Media/BCI Eclipse Shrine And Database

The Unofficial Brentwood Communications 10-Movie DVD Sets Shrine and Info Center

and for the opposing viewpoint...

Braineater vs. Brentwood: or, What's Up With Those Wacky Box Sets?

It's sad really.

At my place of employment, they've installed an automatic air freshener thing in the men's room because people won't flush the urinals. This has been a problem for a while and unfortunately, because this is a public restroom, you can't pin down the culprit. So, I guess the cover up is the only solution. The real drag is, instead of the sinus opening odor of stagnant urine, now you are treated to the overwhelming smell of fake baby powder with a undertone of stagnant urine.

(FYI, let's just say my place of employment is a large place of secondary learning downtown. Let's just also say I've also seen some of the worst spelled and most grammatically incorrect bathroom wall graffiti I've ever seen in my life at this place, and I used to work construction!)

Friday, April 14, 2006

What I want for my birthday.

Holy crap.

(In all actuallity, I'd feel pretty silly if someone actually did spend $500+ on Gamera DVDs for me, but really I'd just settle for R1 discs that weren't the same shitty, washed out, public domain, pan & scan, TV prints that we're stuck with over here. But still, if there's some generous soul out there who really wants to let me finally see my beloved Gamera films the way nature intended, knock yourself out. :) )

Records. The "I can't program my VCR" reference of the Oughts.

Is it possible that anyone not in diapers doesn't know what a record is? The reason I ask this is this morning on one of the local TV programs, the host did the old "back in my day we listened to big black discs called records" bit when talking about something mp3 related. Come on. Is that really necessary?

This seems to me to be the current, most hackneyed "modern technology is so wacky" sort of reference anyone can make. Add to that the fact that it's completely unnecessary to mention records when talking about mp3s because I think everyone over the legal drinking age with a platform to talk about such things brings it up anytime someone mentions iPods. I don't see any way anyone who wasn't around when you could easily purchase records at any store that sold music could not know what they are.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Rhymefest on cover of INtake

I know a lot of the local music folk are focused on Margot & the Nuclear So-and-So's trainspotting (nothing wrong with that,) but here's a nice cover article for Rhymefest aka the man who gives me "I played with a Grammy winner" bragging rights. I'm glad to see the album is finally coming out. Rhymefest is a nice and talented guy. I do hope Sharon Jones got paid for the sample Kanye took for "Brand New" though. I heard that song all over town when it dropped and I just couldn't help wish that Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings could get a little bit of that exposure. posters should breathe easier that the INtake article links Rhymefest with Indianapolis, even though dude is from Chicago. Personally, I don't see why not mentioning Indy in the same sentence as Rhymefest should matter but it seems to get a lot of people up in arms. As Fest says in the article "I am from Chicago, and I live in Indianapolis, and until Bart Peterson makes me an honorary citizen, or gives me the key to the city, that's what it is." Seems a pretty resonable way to look at it to me.

Though he's hasn't been around too much lately, the thing I've liked most about having him around is he did a lot to bridge the gap between the hip hop and rock crowds. I saw Rhymefest at rock shows, I saw him perform with rock bands. One of the most awesome musical things I've ever seen was him bringing Rev. Payton & the Big Damn Band and Otis Gibbs on stage with him when he played our "Live from the Free Zone" benefit show.

And even though he wasn't really a Hoosier, that guy did a lot more for unity in the music scene than a lot of people who go around constantly bemoaning the lack of same. He always seemed to me to have an honest interest in what was going on and just a love for music and performing that was infectious.

Anyway, I wish him the best of luck and I'm sure he'll do fine. Check out the article, it's a pretty good read. I was really hoping to find the hilarous video for "Jackin'" somewhere on the web to stick in here, but no dice.

Cheepnis review: Johnny Cash two-fer.

OK, I want to start off my reviews here with a fresh one. I picked this disc up a while back courtesy of the Family Value Collection of discs that seem to be exclusive to Dollar Tree. YMMV on finding a copy now, this seemed to be another "blink and you miss it" type of release, possibly for legal reasons. (Note: that's total speculation on my part based on what I know about the Family Value Halloween dvd fiasco of last year and a few educated guesses of my own.)

Alright, the disc in question is a flipper featuring two of Johnny Cash's movies. These films feature Cash in dramatic roles so anyone expecting music performance of a documentary is probably going to be disappointed. However, video quality aside, this is one of the more enjoyable dollar DVDs I've screened in a while.

The first side of this double feature is "The Pride of Jesse Hallam," a 1981 made for TV movie. In it, Cash stars as an illiterate ex-coal miner who moves to the big city (of Cincinnati!) to get medical treatment for his young daughter. The film follows his trials and tribulations both as a fish out of water and as a grown man who can't read. Like many TV movies, Pride tends to be a bit maudlin and the supporting characters are fairly two dimensional. I think the only way Jesse's boss could have been more stereotypically Italian would have been to give him a velour track suit, gold chains and a pizza parlor. Cash, however, is quite engaging as Hallam. I put this on and thought I'd just watch a few minutes and flip the disc, but I actually got into the story, largely due to Cash's performance. Not a great movie by any stretch, but enjoyable enough.

For most people, the flip side of this disc is going to be the main attraction, as it was for me. What we have here is "Five Minutes to Live" (1961) (aka "Door to Door Maniac",) a completely sleazy thriller staring Cash as cold blooded killer Johnny Cabot. The film is basically a flashback with Cabot's partner in police custody telling the story of how he roped Cabot into his bank robbing scheme. The plan involved holding a bank manager's wife for ransom and most of the movie is Cash playing cat and mouse with this poor woman. Cash is downright sadistic in his role here, glowering and menacing his way through the film. Even when he stops to play a little guitar (I guess it's standard for a kidnapper to bring his axe on the job) you have a feeling he could snap and do something really crazy. This probably isn't a role the Cash family would like Johnny to be remembered for, but there's no denying that for fans of trash cinema, this is a winner.

As is standard for most dollar DVDs, quality is a bit sketchy here. "Pride" doesn't look too bad. It appears to be taken from an old 16mm print and though it's a little dark and a little worn, I've seen a lot worse. "Five Minutes" unfortunately is a bit on the headache inducing side. Basically, "Five Minutes" looks like an average quality VCD of a VHS tape. The image is very soft and there's a halo effect around most objects indicating a low bit rate encoding.

I'm a little suspicious as to the legal status of these films as well. "Pride" has appeared on other public domain discs, though I'm willing to bet the soundtrack is still copyrighted (there's four Cash studio recordings featured in the film.) "Five Minutes" was originally released by Sutton then reissued by AIP in 1966. A lot of AIP fare has become public domain, but considering Bear Family put out an authorized version of this (as a pricey import,) I'm willing to bet someone still holds the rights to this one. Like I said, this is nothing but speculation on my part, but I'm guessing the legal status of "Five Mintues" may have something to do with why this disc disappeared so fast.

Video quality aside (and at this price range, you get used to pixelated video,) this is a pretty killer double feature with one good film and one great one. "Pride" may be a bit more difficult to watch if you're not a Johnny Cash fan, but "Five Minutes" is an unheralded trash classic that anyone who appreciates cinematic sleaze should enjoy. Recommended, if you can find it.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

S and V, the two most frightening letters in television.

One of the things I love most about the web is the kind of stream of consciousness research it allows. Stream of consciousness is about the only way I can describe arriving at one of the strangest things I've ever learned on the web or anywhere else, I guess. That being that apparently some TV studio corporate logos give children nightmares.

I *think* I got to this from reading Platypus Comix which I originally got to through a comics blog mentioning they did a feature on worst cartoons ever. Somewhere on that site I find an article about the "S from hell". (Note: Platypus Comix is html hell. I can't find the same page I looked at yesterday, but the link I Googled is the exact same article.) I figured this was just a goof, as much of that site is taking the piss out of stuff. For some reason, I actually looked up "S from Hell" and discovered way too many references to it (even an Urban Dictionary listing and Wikipedia entry) as well as it's partner in crime the "V of doom!" Not only that, I also discovered an entire site describing various company logos through the years along with their scare factor!!! (Link)

I still can't help but feel this is some kind of "all your base" type internet joke. However, me being the sadist that I am, I'd like to present to you exhibit a and b so you may judge for your self. Please have a change of clean underwear handy.


OK, so the animation is crude, but we're talking 1965 here. Personally, I dig the electronic theme that is apparently the kick start to many a childhood nightmare. In fact, I'd like to know more about what manner of electronic instrument or treatment we're hearing here. The whole thing makes me think of the Monkees, which is where I first saw it plus the font is the same one you see on their record labels. Color me unimpressed with the S from Hell.


Serious aficionados would like you to know that not only did the V appear in color but black and white (as seen during Andy Griffith reruns) as well. There are also film and videotape versions as well as a rare version using the music from the previous Viacom logo. Again, synth tune (though more "Trans Europe Express," less "Space Odyssey" than our friend S from Hell) although this time backed up with some manic tympani. Looks like chroma key animation to me and for that reason it reminds me of Electric Company. Again, I'm scratching my head.

The funny thing is, as a child, I was a freak for these things and I'd get really annoyed with a show if the ending was cut off. I'd also insist on watching credits, opening and closing, of any film all the way through or else the viewing was worthless to me. To this day, I haven't the slightest idea why except that I probably missed my true calling in life (industrial design) because I've always had an eye for corporate logos.

My wrist is starting to give out (I'm recovering from surgery) but there's a bunch of corporate TV logos I have some positive connotations with that I'd like to touch on in a future post.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Cheepnis: Part 2

Second post from a while ago covering my cheap DVD interest. Some material is out of date.

OK, here's part two in my series about the stupid obsession I have with cheap DVDs. Why, I don't know? But maybe I can explain a little bit today.

When you find these discs, they're cheesy looking, often times have movies you've never heard of and the quality is usually questionable. So, why would any same person give a damn about these things?

First off, they are great for cheap entertainment. I don't have cable and sometimes I get tired of the DVDs I own. For a dollar, I can try something totally off the wall that I wouldn't pick up for full price and if it sucks, it was just a dollar.

Also, as I said earlier, I'm a fan of drive-in schlock. There's tons of it on these cheap DVDs. In addition, there's lots of made for TV movies (some of which aren't bad from what I understand) which are all but neglected from the mainstream studios. It seems Aaron Spelling, who produced most of these in the 70s, wasn't concerned with the long term when it came to these movies and many of them are public domain today.

Speaking of TV, old TV shows are a staple of the cheap DVD scene. Now since a lot of these shows are getting authorized DVD releases, collections of Andy Griffith, Beverly Hillibilies and Dick Van Dyke are pretty much worthless. There are other shows that haven't made it out yet, like the early Dragnet that you can still get for a dollar. There's also a lot of obscure shows that probably wouldn't warrant a full price release but it's there in the cheap bin, if you can find them.

There's also a lot of animation to be found in the cheap bins. I will warn you, the quality of the prints used for all the animated discs I've seen range from worn to unwatchable, but you can collect some real interesting stuff this way. There's also been some more modern anime I've seen in the bins, but I'm not a fan, so I don't know what it's about.

I've also seen some really off the wall stuff like a "conspiracy" series of documentaries featuring Princess Diana and Michael Jackson. I've also found a few generic looking travelog vids and some educational kids programs as well.

In addition, part of the fun is just finding what's out there. These companies are often times fly-by-night and sometimes put out things under several names. It's kind of a puzzle figuring out what is what. It's also pretty cool when you find some movie you've been looking for that you never though would make it to DVD. It's all kind of a mystery as to who is putting out what and what could possible appear next time you look.

Well, that's a little bit about what I like about collecting these stupid things. Next I'll do what I originally said I was going to do this time and I'll talk a bit about some of these strange companies that are putting these things out and tell you where you can find these discs.

Cheepnis: an introduction.

(I'm starting this blog off by porting some old writings over as they are relevant to the direction I want this thing to go. I'll be updating and elaborating on these things as I go along.)

I've picked up an odd collecting obsession lately, cheap DVDs. Now, I'm not talking budget line major studio releases of last summer's blockbuster. I'm talking funky looking public domain movies on labels you've never heard of with a per movie price of less than a dollar. That kind of cheap.

I grew up on the tail end of the local "creature feature" TV show and I guess those movies have stayed with me, for some reason. I still remember catching Sammy Terry (who'd been around so long, my father watched him as a boy) and Bob & Tom (long before their radio show was syndicated) hosting weird old black and white cheepies which always seemed to me much more interesting than current Hollywood fare. Rediscovering Mystery Science Theater 3000 has rekindled my interest in these movies I'd forgotten about a long time ago.

In the past few years, a bunch of companies have started hawking almost nothing but old b-movies on DVD dirt cheap. Some of these are new startups, while others should be familiar to anyone who built a library of VHS tapes. What I want to do is talk about some of these companies and the movies they are putting out just because there isn't a whole lot of info out there and it's something I think is very interesting. In fact, most of what I know, I've discovered through old posts on message boards such as DVD Maniacs and Cheap DVDs.

To start with, one may be completely baffled as to how a company can release say 50 movies in a set for less than $25 and turn a profit. Well, it's quite easy. Most of these companies rely on public domain material for their discs. What that means is the original creator of the film has given up their claim on it and anyone is free to do what they want with it. Many people assume these releases are bootlegs. No, it's actually quite legal, though one can say they are unauthorized releases as they don't have the blessing of the original producers to make these things, but they don't need it either.

Back before Disney started writing these laws for the government, there were two ways something could enter the public domain. The first way was if the original owner did not assert copyright when the film was first released. That's how the original Night of the Living Dead became public domain. The film's distributor changed it's name at the last minute and substituted a new title card in the print but forgot to put the copyright info on it, so Living Dead was never copyrighted.

The second method was if the copyright was not renewed. If I recall correctly, the way this used to work was that anything published before 1978 was copyrighted automatically for 28 years and could be renewed for another 47 years. In 1998, this was expanded to 67 years, though anything produced before 1923 had already expired into the public domain. This is how some old TV shows (like the Beverly Hillbillies and Andy Griffith) entered public domain.

(Pretty much anything created or published after 1978 is copyrighted for the life of the creator plus 70 years, which nothing copyrighted after 1978 is going public domain in our lifetime. This 1978 part is why many people think the public domain is dead. This fact isn't really relevant to the DVDs I'm talking about, but I threw it in just for completeness sake.)

There are several companies who specialize in nothing but public domain film. These companies don't sell to the public, but they sell to professionals who wish to buy royalty free programming. They have the films transferred to a professional video format and do the research to insure what they are selling is, in fact, in the public domain.

What these cheepies DVD companies do is they order a bunch of films from these companies, digitize them, have them authored to DVD and there's your release. Unlike most major studios, there's no effort made at restoration. What they get from the public domain movie house is what they get. Restoration is, after all, a costly procedure and the point here is to get cheap product in the store.

(Alternately, there seems to be a lot of companies ripping other companies discs or just dubbing old VHS tapes for source material. It's not uncommon to see a watermark or some other identifying factor of one company's print pop up on someone else's DVD. Really, there isn't anything anyone can do about that if the material in question is really public domain, but it is sketchy from an ethical standpoint.)

Which leads me to a huge point: if you're thinking about picking up a handful of these $1 dvds, don't expect Criterion Collection quality. These aren't THX certified nor are these aimed at the sort of people who would care about such a thing. Every time someone from one of these companies is interviewed, they say the same thing; they want to get the low end of the market, the people who are just looking for some mindless entertainment to go with their $29 dvd player.

The fact that in some cases they are putting out some rare and desirable movies is often times coincidental, though there do seem to be some film buffs in the know responsible for some of these DVD lines. However, these releases really get some of the more serious film snobs up in arms due to the quality issues. Yes, I'd love it if some of these things were easier to watch but, expecting some sort of archival quality release at this price point is really missing the point.

That's not to say that all these DVDs are poor quality. Yes, a lot of times you will find an overly compressed DVD of a scratchy, washed out film that someone has tampered with the contrast levels to try to improve. However, sometimes you'll get a clean print that looks pretty damn good, all things considered. You just never know until you get home and put it in the player.

Since I first wrote this, the market for these really low end discs has become incredibly oversaturated. One can literally find dozens of different versions of films like Satanic Rites of Dracula and Night of the Living Dead to say nothing of the endless recycling of that handful of old TV shows in the public domain. A few companies have taken the next logical step and are actually licensing original content. Mostly I'm seeing what looks like ultra low budget horror shot straight to digital video. I haven't dipped a toe in this water yet, but some of these films do look interesting.

That's pretty much the background. I think next time I'm going to talk a little about the different companies I know of, what they have to offer and where you might find them.

First post

Howdy. Welcome to my new blog. My name is Rob G. and I figure I throw a little of me out here because you probably have no idea who I am.

Well, I'm from Indianapolis, I play in a band called Svetlana and I co-host a radio show called The Free Zone. I've also done some freelance writing for Nuvo Newsweekly, though it's been a while.

The main things that make my life more enjoyable are music, movies and videogames. My tastes in all three tend to be a bit left of center. Probably most of what I'll be writing about here will deal with those three things, though I also follow politics (also a bit left of center,) soicial issues and local stuff, so expect a bit of that and probably a skonch of personal stuff as well.

So, that's Calcinator Death Ray, in a nutshell. And, in case you are interested, the title comes from Phil Tucker's immortal film "Robot Monster" and is also a tribute to my friend Koven Smith's band Monster Zero Orchestra who do a killer song of the same name. If you haven't checked out either, trust me, you're missing out.