Sunday, December 30, 2007

Po' buckra's Top Ten Albums Of 2007!

Rarely do I buy, watch, or even listen to anything current. I'm hopelessly retro, so when year-end best-of lists come around, my lists are usually chock full of re-issues and compilations of the sounds and sights of yesteryear. I'm fine with that; Stacey usually picks up the slack so I do get a glimmer of what's going on out there, and some of it is fine...I just find that I would rather discover stuff that passed me by in 1972 (a great year for movies and records!) than keep up with today's now-sound which largely grates on my ears. Imagine my surprise when I put together my Top 10 albums list this year and saw that it actually contains a majority of actual new and current releases!

Sort of....It appears that I only brought home 10 albums released this year (makes for an easy top 10!), and while 6 of those are actual new releases, I totaled up the number of songs and found that the older reissued tracks out number the new tracks by a margin of 257 to 68!!!

I tried! I really tried!

Gil's Top 10 Albums of 2007

1. Mitch Easter: Dynamico

2. George Jones: She Thinks I Still Care - The Complete United Artists Recordings, 1962-1964

3. Judee Sill: Live In London - The BBC Recordings 1972-1973

4. The New Pornographers: Challengers

5. John Vanderslice: Emerald City

6. VA: Love Is The Song We Sing - San Francisco Nuggets 1965-1970

7. Shalini: The Surface And The Shine

8. Charlotte Gainsbourg : 5:55

9. Bruce Springsteen: Magic

10. VA: Radio Gold 5 - 30 Original American U.K. Chart Hits 1956-62

Long live Nowsville !!!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

My Wife And My Ex-Wife

A Christmas tradition for about the last 8 or 10 years, Stacey and I spend Xmas Eve at my ex-wife's. I know, sounds pretty... Californian, and I guess it is. I would imagine it is as Californian as me laying naked on some pillows as an elderly Reichian therapist pounds on my chest telling me to scream "YES!" as she screams "NO!". I say both are Californian, and I have experienced both, but I enjoy Xmas Eve with Stacey and my ex-wife much more than being naked with a therapist.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Food, Guns and Good Times!

Last night, in celebration of my work not giving Christmas bonuses this year (another story, another day...), I decided that Stacey and I both needed a night out, so upon her arrival home I asked if she'd like to go out and eat some Chinese food for dinner. She did not hesitate in her response; "OK!".

We have a new fave restaurant on the main drag in the Albany area; King Tsin. It's not quite as good as the fancier place Joe and Sue turned us on to (Renee's Place), but it's much cheaper (again, thanks for the thoughtful bonus...) and the food is really good. Of course being cheaper, I'm sure that their meats have been tortured and fed toxic swill during their unfortunate lifespan (Renee's Place serves happier and less traumatized free range meat), but it still tastes great and is just as dead as the free range stuff.

I offered to drive which is pretty rare. (I don't like night driving due to my in my special eye, and I do like to have a few cocktails with dinner). As we parked, we both noticed that there were police everywhere within a 2 or 3 block area of King Tsin. The side roads were roadblocked and I thought that maybe it was a special holiday practice of DUI checkpoints. Hmmm. Maybe Stacey will need to drive home after all...

We started to walk to the restaurant and a policeman said "I wouldn't walk on this side of the street if I were you". It was then that I noticed he had an assault rifle in his arms. This is not a DUI checkpoint after all, it is a crime scene! The restaurant next door to King Tsin had just been taken over by 2 gun toting bandits that not only robbed the cash register, but all of the customers as well! (Several years ago, a similar chain of robberies hit the same area, but I believe the culprits were eventually nabbed.) We looked around and there must have been at least 20 police cars in the area, including a "Crime Scene" van. Evidently, the police thought that they may have the suspects penned in somewhere in a 2 or 3 block radius. The perimeter was in place!

We figured there would be no way we could possibly get robbed now, under the circumstances, and decided to go ahead with our dinner plans, so we entered King Tsin. The woman owner greeted and seated us and told us that they were robbed, probably by the same bandits 2 weeks earlier! Great. There goes the neighborhood. Again.

Anyway, there were plenty of other customers eating away, and since we were near the front window, we had a great view to the exciting action going on out front, which really wasn't a whole lot. Just many groups of police walking around. We ordered our food and ate with no interruptions.

On our way out, the other owner (husband I presume, to the woman greeter) was very excited to tell us the whole story of their robbery. 2 guys entered ("I knew immediately that they were going to rob us") the front door (7:00pm), and one guy aimed a pistol at the man at the register. He seemed rather rattled that the pistol had a laser beam sight on it, so there was a little red dot on the poor guy's chest! He gave the robber all of the cash. The other robber went into the dining area and also at gunpoint, took all of the customer's cash. For some reason I looked and noticed that the owner had a watch on, so I asked him if the bandits took jewelry also, which he said they didn't. I assume the robbers wanted to get out of there ASAP.

What a frightening thing to have gone through! You could be sitting there enjoying a great meal, and suddenly you could be faced with the fact that this could be the last time you see your wife, your husband, your kids, your friends, or even your waiter. That sucks. I hope they catch the bastards.

I must say, though, that at least for last night, it was very comforting to have a huge police presence right outside the door. And the food was excellent!


Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Guitar God

Some very clever person made me laugh harder than I have laughed in a long time. Bless his/her's heart.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Creeped Out

Weird. Many things kind of..creeped me out today. Probably a seasonal thing, I dunno..But here they are:

1. A bug crawled out of a box of CD's I opened today. The box came from London, and I hope the little fella doesn't destroy California's Eco-system!

2. Mike Huckabees's Xmas ad really creeped me out. Mentioning the birth of Christ on a political ad goes beyond giving me the creeps. I think it actually gave me the willies.

3. Actually, I'm finding that all of the presidential candidates have at least a couple of things about them that creep me out, and I came upon a wonderful solution to this whole mess we Americans go through in electing a president. I recently did a little research on Bush's No Child Left Behind program, and while my research came to the conclusion that it is a failure, I think the germ of the idea would be a brilliant way to choose our next leader. Make them take a friggin' test. High score wins.

4. Any Rankin/Bass animation other than Rudolf -The Red Nosed Reindeer.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

On The Second Day Of Whining..

If my new neighbor the terrifying tot that always trots doesn't settle down soon, I'm afraid I will have to take the thunderous tyke aside and tell him that it will be me...that kills Santa Claus.


Saturday, December 8, 2007

Mr. Big Shot, Who Do You Think You Are?

Last week, John M. Borack's eagerly awaited (at least by my wife!) book; Shake Some Action -The Ultimate Power Pop Guide was finally released. I believe Stacey told me that she had prepaid an order for it about 2 years ago. (of course my wait for a prepaid book Mario Bava-All The Colors Of Dark by Tim Lucas may have set an all-time record for such a thing. I think I waited about 7 or so years for that!). Stacey is way more of a power pop fan than I, so I was content to just flip through it and see if anyone I knew was in it, plus it's kind of cool to see what the powers that be have to say about the power of pop.

I was totally shocked to see that Game Theory's The Big Shot Chronicles was ranked #16 out of the best 200 power pop records of all time! I honestly don't think of that record as power pop, and I really don't think it's better than Todd Rundgren's Something/Anything (#74) or Argybargy by Squeeze (#58), but you know...I'll take it!

I do know that it's a damn good record that means the world to me. It was an extremely bizarre and difficult time in my life, and I find the fact that it was recorded in about a week, smack dab in the middle of a national tour, pretty mind blowing. It was also probably the only album I ever recorded with Scott Miller that I actually knew all of the songs!

So here's to Scott, Shelley, Suzi, Mitch, and why the heck not, myself - regardless of where this album sits on anyone's list, it's a damn good record.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Reeling In The Robots

Gibson Guitars has just introduced a self-tuning guitar. At the moment you can add it on to certain Les Paul Special Edition for an extra $900. It has a computer chip and a motorized mechanism that when turned on, the damn thing tunes itself and you actually see the tuning pegs turn. I saw an article (but of course, I can't find it now, so no messy un-renamed links here!), that stated that Gibson was marketing this to 3 main groups:

1. The Japanese, because they love anything "robot".

2. Beginners, that are fortunate enough to shell out $2500 for a guitar to learn on.

3. Professionals, to eliminate the need for showtime delays, lugging around TWO guitars, and who the hell needs a roadie these days, anyhow?

Whatever. Here's some fine guitar pickin' without self-tuning guitars.

Hope that worked...

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Raiders Of The Lost Tapes

Turns out the ex-manager is not sitting on the Lolita Nation tapes after all! They are somewhere in Capitol Record's vaults. So, to the ex-manager - I take it all back and my apologies, but if you do still own the rights, get those tapes to the folks that may want to reissue them! That would be a wonderful thing.

Lolita Nation, Where Art Thou?

Yesterday I was reminded that today is the 20th anniversary of the release of Game Theory's critically acclaimed album Lolita Nation. Thanks to Steve for consistently carrying the GT/LF torch! He wrote a very sweet blog in remembrance of this event here:

Wow, feelings rush all over me watching that wonderful slide show! Not a bad live performance, either. But a nagging question gets stuck in my head whenever I think about that time, those people, that album: Where in the hell is it?

That was rhetorical of course, because most fans and myself know exactly where it is. It is in the hands of an ex-manager's of Scott Miller/Game Theory, probably lost underneath a stack of other stuff in a basement in some town where-ever this guy lives. Apparently he owns the master tapes, and has been contacted more than once by other record labels large and small. I believe Scott had even tried to discuss this with him, but to no avail.

I have no earthly idea as to why he is being unresponsive to the queries. Could it be that he's holding out to maximize his monetary take on this? Is he super busy and just cannot find the time to deal with it? Has he lost them? Maybe he just doesn't give a shit. But that sad thing is, many people do and the longer he waits, the fewer will care.

If he's holding out for more dough, he needs to consider this; about 10 years ago, this impossible to find CD was going for as much as $200 on e-bay. Last week, Stacey told me that Amoeba Records sold one for $80. Not exactly appreciation.

Face it, no one is going to get rich on a reissue of this CD. I would not be surprised if a bit of money might be lost in releasing it, but that's not why it should be released. It should be released because it would make a relatively small group of people very happy. That's it. That is enough.

As a performer on that record, I would be thrilled to hear it remastered. The whole band worked very hard to get Scott's epic on tape. It's a crazy record! None of us had ever attempted this kind of experimental stuff before. Scott had a wonderfully unique and unfaltering vision and looking back, I thank my lucky stars that I was able to be part of it (even though at the time I made my voice known that I thought a more concise single LP would be a much better follow up to The Big Shot Chronicles!).

I also think this record is a fan favorite and I believe it was our best seller. The follow-up tour was very successful (even though we made no money!) and probably contained our best performances as a band. I was startled to drive into a town and see fans lined up to gain entrance to the club we were going to play! I found it odd that people would recognize me and ask for an autograph! This record meant a lot to many people, and I think it still does, but the further we get away from it, what shiny sparkle that still shines will soon dissipate as memories, relevance, and interest slowly drift away.

That's the damn shame about all of this. It could all just...go away. Mr. Ex-manager, please make a few folks happy and do what needs to be done to re-release Lolita Nation. The longer you wait, the fewer will care. It's not about money. Good Lord, Game Theory was never about money. It's about a masterpiece that flowed out of Scott Miller in 1987, and that, my friend, was a very good year.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Gone To The Movies

I usually hate going to the movies. I just cannot stand being anywhere near the rude assholes that always end up sitting near me. I'm sure I'm not alone in this - cell phones, talking, kids, cell phones, rudeness, perverts, crack whores, more cell phones and inappropriate comments. Did I say cell phones?

2 of my favorite movie theater... incidents that stand out above the rest:

Way back in the mid 70's, my girlfriend and I went to see A Boy And His Dog at the Manor Theater in Charlotte N.C.. Things were going well until this man sat directly behind my girlfriend. Suddenly, my girlfriend let out a very loud holler, stood up and started yelling at the man behind her to stop slipping his hand between he seats and grabbing her breast. Well, I was about 17 or 18, a real rebel, and I wasn't going to stand for such...violations of my girlfriend, so I stood up and started screaming at the perv myself. Slowly, the man stood up and it wasn't hard for me to notice that he was way, way bigger and a whole lot weirder looking than I was hoping for!

He started to get upset himself exclaiming that it was just a slip and the boob grab was not intentional. For a moment I thought he might start kicking my ass at any moment, so I headed to the lobby, he followed, and we all eventually ended up in a yelling match that now included the theater manager. I insisted the perv get thrown out, but the manager would not do it, so we left. (Crazy movie by the way, but it is forever tainted...)

More recently (the 90's), Stacey and I were in theater in Emeryville (I don't remember what we were seeing, though) and we had the misfortune of sitting in front of a skinny ass crack whore with an eye patch, who was there with her very young child. Once the movie started, the crack whore started saying to Stacey; "'Scuze me. Can you scrunch down? I can't see!" and she kept it up until I turned to her and told her "No. She's not going to scrunch down!" We than turned back to the movie (which has now been completely ruined) and the crack whore started a barrage of crap, telling us she was going to make this the worst movie going experience we have ever had. I hope her little child was absorbing the wonderful example his crack whore mom was giving him.

I finally grabbed Stacey, telling her I just don't want to deal with this, and we went and sat somewhere else. As I sat there, I was hoping some giant redneck asshole would get our vacated seats and would then have to deal with the crack whore, hopefully in a more...violent manner than is was willing to give up. Nope. A tiny little Asian couple sat there and fortunately for them, there heads were not in the way of the skinny ass crack whore. Foiled again.

Anyways....I did go to the movies with Stacey last Sunday to see The Mist. Pretty good horror flick with decent acting, couple of good scares, interesting story and an ending that I liked very much. You just don't see endings like that very often.

And yes, there was a jerk behind us talking and commenting through the whole thing up until he left, because frankly, I think the movie started to freak him out. Good. But I do love movie theater popcorn!


Monday, November 26, 2007

This Crazy Biz(music) I'm In

Who woulda thunk it? Vinyl is making a comeback, and it is a pretty big comeback. I thought my days of hoisting and heaving heavy boxes of LP's were long gone. Nope. They're baaacckkk! And in a pretty big way. There was an article discussing this in last week's Billboard,( but of course I can't find it now online...grrr), but one of the funny things in the article was that now, the major labels are having problems finding pressing plants that still do vinyl! Hilarious. There was even a story about one plant that had to shut down for a while because the person who's sole job is to glue the inside edges of the LP jacket down broke his/her arm and no one else seems to be able to do that very specialized skill! Help us all, sweet Jesus.

At the indie distributor where I work, we have always sold a fair amount of LP's. Usually these are audiophile remastered major label hits that the majors would license to whoever would pay 'em. Led Zeppelin, Miles Davis, Norah Jones etc....whatever. They sold well. Now, the owner of my place of work recently bought out another small distributor that specialises in re-releasing more obscure, but just as desirable stuff with a bit more alternative street cred such as Tim Buckley, Nico, Big Star, 13th Floor Elevators and on and on.. And it's mostly LP's! We are blowing this stuff out the door, have a whole new customer base (and a fine one it is - most LP's are sold on a non-returnable basis and I figure these new customers are more than likely not going to give up LP's for digital downloads). Sweet.

So I'll probably bitch and moan about the workload. (And what a load it is - LP's are heavy. A box of 50 CD's weighs 11 lbs. A 50 count box of LP's can weigh about 45 lbs. Imagine the thrill I felt when I was told that 43 pallets of product were going to arrive to be absorbed into our already cramped warehouse over last Labor Day weekend! Grrr). But the good news is a heightened sense of job security. Great. More time to kick myself in the ass for not listening to Mom and getting a real degree in a real job that pays real money. Oh well. At least I'm working.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Week 4 - no smoking, please

I've quit smoking (again) and I'm pretty sure I have really quit. It's a gut feeling and I like gut feelings, so I'll just say -There! I've done it! I'm still on the patch and I will abide by Stacey's oh-so-orderly wishes of following the directions to the letter. One more week of Step One patches, then I will go to 4 weeks (I think) of Step Two etc....

I have a new doctor and he seems to have no sense of humor at all (when I told him that my wife told me that it's not the fact that I might die from smoking that bothers her, it's that she really doesn't want to take care of a sick husband, especially seeing how it was my choice to smoke in the first place!). That usually can get a laugh or at least a smile out of a doctor, but not this guy. He is concerned about several things going on with me; smoking, alcohol and a blood sugar level that is on the rise. (Seems that pills are controlling my usually high levels of blood pressure, eyeball pressure in my damaged eye, cholesterol and anxiety. Better living through chemistry as my psychiatrist used to say!)

There is also the problem of my family history. Actually the lack of my family history. Smoking probably killed my dad, mom and more than likely, did in the family dog, too (second hand smoke from a houseful of smokers!).

So I'm dealing with the cigarettes first. Maybe once I get all of those evil chemicals and poisons out of my system (not to mention the fact that I will no longer allow The Man - the cigarette companies - to keep me down) my doctor will be so proud of me, he will tell me that no further action is required. Everything else that was wrong with me has miraculously gotten better! After all, my new and really expensive CD box set; George Jones - The Complete United Artists Recordings sounds really, really good with a few beers in my belly!


Friday, November 23, 2007

I Am So Cutting Edge..

I think that this blogging thing may catch on, so here I am. I'll jump right into it and tell everyone how much I enjoyed my Safeway 1/2 breast of already cooked turkey yesterday. The cauliflower and sweet potatoes are supposed to be very good for me, so I ate those too. Oddly, my wife enjoys those more than the turkey.

Most of Thanksgiving was spent with a purge surge of duplicate videos/dvd's and laserdiscs. I have several hundred movies, mostly sci-fi, horror and Fellini films. I have them all listed on an excel spreadsheet, and it is there that I discovered that I am such a geek I have multiple copies of some of the most minor and goofy films.

A favorite of mine is a very obscure science fiction movie made in Italy in the early 60's called BATTLE OF THE WORLDS. I have 5 versions of it, 3 videos and 2 dvds. It looks like they all probably came from the same old and battered TV print, but you never know. I hope that someday, someone with $ to burn will restore it and release it. It stars Claude Rains and has an amazing soundtrack which features a jaw dropping title song, probably called The Outsider. Here is the Italian trailer - it's kind of long but there is a tiny little bit of The Outsider at the very end:

Well, like I said - I'm really cutting edge...I don't know where that link went.