November 27, 2004

Worthless Spew Part 2: Oliverstonexander the Great

It actually wasn't as bad as I feared. The film charged through the biography but for the most part the accepted history (or legend) was faithfully presented. Stone may go for the salacious or sensational, but the thing is, this story really was salacious and sensational. Almost every screwed-up thing in the movie is basically true. According to most historians, that is, and not to excessively macho Greek-Floridian lawyers who are shocked, shocked, that Alexander was presented (truthfully, I'll add) as bisexual, and deny this vehemently. Hey guys- news flash: everyone in Hellas was bi back then. Lighten the fuck up. Bisexual Alexander could take all of you with every limb and his dick tied behind his back. Drunk. So could his boyfriend, his eunuch, and his bonkers wife.

Anyway- the movie was kinda like a combo of Peter Greene's pragmatism and Mary Renault's idealism. Oh, and Colin Farrel looks like he could sing for Creed. That's not good, but casting a party animal as the drunken military genius was smart. Same with Angelina Jolie as the crazy-ass bitch that was his mother. The maps, however, sucked. I say this as a geography geek who knows full well that the last comment doesn't matter at all. Also, yes, Indians (you know, from India) are probably correct when they say their ancestors beat back this crazy bastard and made him go home. Why? Hey, the dude didn't let mutiny stop him at least 3 times. The Indians almost killed him. You do the math.

But damn. Rosario Dawson. I said god-damn.

Worthless Spew, Part 1: 4 Rich Irish Dorks

"How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb" seems to be the album U2 have made in the mold they imagine most of the world perceives them to be. Elaborating on that point involves all kinds of silly nit-picking that's ultimately irrelevant if, in fact, this is the album they wanted to record at this unique point in their unique career. I mean, it's their record, right? I can say all sorts of things that are superficially judgemental, such as "Atomic Bomb" is head and shoulders above the good half of "All That You Can't Leave Behind", or that it's not as good as "Achtung Baby", or it's "mainstream", "too safe", or "slickly clean", and hey, even if I did just say that or even if I believe it, which I do, that doesn't matter. The fact is that U2 has decades under their belt, a few knockout albums back there, a killer live show, and has yet to become complete crap, and for some reason, for better or worse, that quashes any arguments as to the quality of this disc. They're up against themselves again, and I'm happy they made a good record in spite of that.

It all sounds like tarnished silver; "Atomic Bomb" is a very conservative step back at worst and a vigorous running-in-place at best. This is "Boy" made by 45-year-olds- a transparently studied stab at youthful spontaneity that is pulled off regardless because, well, this is U2 we're talking about. The old winning formula is here- the original keening chimes of righteousness that we all know and that, really, shouldn't be a crime except that this band has delivered much better before. Nothing really wrong pops up except a few lyrical clunkers from Bono here and there, but again that's business as usual, isn't it? Moments of greatness and permanence are definitely present- at least "City Of Blinding Lights" and "Crumbs From Your Table" ought to stay in the permanent U2 canon. "Vertigo" certainly does get less ridiculous with every listen, the instrumental break in "Miracle Drug" is ecstatic, and the first, icy-crisp, head-spinning note of "All Because Of You" might be the best note on the album.

It's a bit too much over eleven tracks, though. I like epic rock better than anything, but the mood doesn't alter very often, though on the other hand, so what? This stuff will surely destroy in a live setting. It'll absolutely slay, but, you know, in a merciful way. U2 should tour this bastard into the ground- that's where these songs will come to life, as we all know, and that's where the band will prove all pointless reviews like this one to be totally useless. This is their record, and it's not a masterpiece, but as with their best they will allow us to make it ours.

(as reviewd on @U2)

November 03, 2004

Worst Birthday Ever

So. I'm now 28 years and some hours old. It's 2am and it's hard not to take this election result personally. Next time I swear I'm gonna be one of those people who only pays attention to politics for 5 minutes a year. It'll be a hard habit to break- I've been on it since the 5th grade- almost as long as my addiction to rock&roll and only beaten by my jones for baseball. But you all know me, that's what I do- I take things personally when I shouldn't. I mean, I have a good job where I can be creative. I live in a nice California beach-town apartment with a beautiful woman who loves me. I'm white, straight, male, educated, and American. I'm even 1/4th of an ass-kicking rock & roll band (we still have an album to finish, too). I have everything going for me, right?

All that stuff's meaningful and great, obviously, and wil continue to be so long after the pain of this political groin-kick fades away. So why does it feel like so much good, hard work went down the drain? Why should I care who steals this year's election, even if it is on my birthday? No, I won't bitch about this long because I know all of you don't share some of my points of view (though most of you do). So many people worked their butts off, much more than me (especially Brian), only to see a projected record voter turnout be tainted by an apparent extreme fit of apathy on the part of 18-24 year olds nationwide and some cheapjack voting machines in Ohio. An intelligent, experienced and courageous senator whom I didn't originally support but whom I am now proud to have voted for will be made to look like an anti-American sore loser by Thanksgiving (or sooner) because too many people believed the blatant untruths and distortions propagated by the opposing campaign.

Sure, that's politics, and I won't say that it's for some reason nastier than it's been. Read the history about say, the 1800 election and see how truly horrible two of the founding fathers behaved in that campaign and you'll get the idea. Mr. Kerry didn't lose this through any fault of his own (no, really, he owned the last 4 weeks), like Gore did. He was subjected to the most negative campaign I've ever seen- he was attacked mercilessly by the President's campaign because they couldn't run on the issues. They knew that if an honest discussion and debate on the issues were to take place in this country, the President would lose just like his father. Instead, half of our fear-ridden nation and a pliant media were massaged into accepting a fabricated reality as True.

But yeah, just because you want it to be true doesn't make it so. I'll be the first fool to admit that, but it's very difficult for me to believe right now that half of our country are really ignorant, scared suckers. I mean, it really seems like that to me and it has for 3 years now. That's a harsh thing to say, and tomorrow I'll regret saying it, but not now. Now I'm going to finish eating my big-ass chocolate birthday cake, and tomorrow I hope to wake up to some news about how my party's nominees aren't going down without a fight. This is still America, dammit.

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